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* Posts by Mike Bell

483 posts • joined 3 Aug 2007

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Payment security vastly improved when you DON'T ENTER your BANK DETAILS

Mike Bell
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Re: Can I be the first to say ...

No, you can't.

I said that years ago when I won a beer-voucher in a pub quiz.

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Crouching tiger, FAST ASLEEP dragon: Smugglers can't shift iPhone 6s

Mike Bell
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Re: Another way of looking at it...

Since you're likely to get shot in China just for reading a p0rn mag, what's the penalty for using a mobile device that doesn't have the current regulatory clearance?

Apple would already be selling the iPhone 6 in China if they had permission to do so.

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WHY did Sunday Mirror stoop to slurping selfies for smut sting?

Mike Bell
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Re: Urrrggghhhh

The OED definition of 'slurp' has not been updated since 1993, long before mainstream adoption of the internet. Meanwhile, it has been appropriated widely in IT circles as in, for example, this 'urban definition':

To upload or download data, usually at a high rate of speed. Often used in slang to refer to illicitly gathering data -- that is, theft of somebody else's private data, trade secrets, etc.

One could reasonably expect the OED to be updated in due course, and for El Reg to be ahead of the game.

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BENDY iPhone 6, you say? Pah, warp claims are bent out of shape: Consumer Reports

Mike Bell
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Re: Headline should read "Note 3 Twice as Strong as iPhone 6"

Open invitation to Fandroids: Go to an Apple Store and try to bend one. The staff won't stop you. I did. It didn't bend.

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Bendgate backlash: Apple claims warped iPhone 6 Plus damage is 'extremely rare'

Mike Bell
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Re: "Backlash"

Jim, your down-voter is clearly in his own reality distortion field if he doesn't believe what you're saying. Life. Death. Taxes. Apple making pots of money. These are givens in today's world.

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Apple nurses HealthKit apps back to life, discharges iOS 8.0.2

Mike Bell
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Re: "Key features disabled"?

No, no, no. Fanbois (and Fangirlz) are the Apple devotees. Fandroids are, as you say, slaves to the world of Android, and their commentard faction are typically identified by a certain frothing of the mouth, brought on by endless trawling of articles in which they claim to have no interest!

/Fandroid Baiting

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Mike Bell
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Re: "Key features disabled"?

It's the job of El Reg to 'bite the hand', and I for one enjoy its irreverent swipes at the world of IT.

On a purely personal note, I also enjoy reading the rabid rantings of Fandroids here.

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Apple: SO sorry for the iOS 8.0.1 UPDATE BUNGLE HORROR

Mike Bell
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Re: Arcane

What 'fact' would that be? The fact is that over-the-air maintenance has been available for years on iPhones. Connecting to a PC for maintenance is a last resort. Or maybe taking it to an Apple Store.

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I sold 10 MILLION iPhone 6es at the weekend, says Tim Cook. What did you do?

Mike Bell
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Man who predicts death of Apple does the honourable thing

[Mod note: Warning – graphic content in the LiveLeak link below. I don't know why anyone would click on it. The title of the video is: "Man aborts suicide but puts his hand on the power line." It does not end well.]

Here he is

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NASA's MAVEN enters Mars orbit to sniff its gas

Mike Bell
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Re: Fantastic stuff

Well, technically, we're all "journeying through the stars". Albeit a little slowly for some.

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Apple's warrant canary riddle: Cock-up, conspiracy, or anti-Google point-scoring

Mike Bell
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Re: Bulk Data

Nope.

From Apple's current privacy policy:

"In the first six months of 2014, we received 250 or fewer of these [National Security Order] requests. Though we would like to be more specific, by law this is the most precise information we are currently allowed to disclose."

I wouldn't equate 250 with a large number.

In the same document:

"The vast majority of the requests Apple receives from law enforcement come from an agency working on behalf of a customer who has requested assistance locating a stolen device."

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Buying memory in an iPhone 6: Like wiping your bottom with dollar bills

Mike Bell
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They charge more, BECAUSE people WILL pay more.

They will indeed. And if you can afford an iPhone, you can probably afford to pay a tad more for extra flash memory, which you will do at most once a year.

Some of the cheaper DSLR cameras that you see effectively have nobbled versions of the sensor that appears in top pro models. If everyone had full access to the sensor, cheap models included, they wouldn't be able to charge the price premium to pros.

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Apple's Cook: We have never allowed g-men access to Apple servers

Mike Bell
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Re: "So only users, not Apple, can grant access to law enforcement agencies."

What if you forgot your code? What if you entered your desired code incorrectly, and now have no idea what you've accidentally typed? What if your iPhone is unlocked and some joker locks it on you for laughs? Your data is safe, but beyond your own reach?

Forgot password/device disabled

You have to enter the same lock code twice, like you are often required to do when setting up a password.

You have to enter the existing lock code before you can set a new one.

...and relax.

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iPhone 6: Most exquisite MOBILE? No. It is the Most Exquisite THING. EVER

Mike Bell
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Yes, most amusing.

But I suspect that if most El Reg readers were in possession of a Fabergé egg, they wouldn't have the faintest idea what do do with it, and instead swipe the top of it with a teaspoon to get at the yolk.

For what it's worth, I don't think the iPhone 6 looks particularly wondrous.

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Apple flops out 2FA for iCloud in bid to stop future nude selfie leaks

Mike Bell
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When you enable 2FA, accept the invitation to print out the nicely formatted recovery key. That's what it's for.

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Mike Bell
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Apple 'rolled out' 2-factor authentication a long long time ago. My Apple ID has been secured this way for ages.

More pertinently, and topically, is that Apple are being more reactive now when someone logs in via a device like a Windows PC. They're starting to send e-mail notifications when this happens.

They've also now introduced a means on your account of devising a clutch of app-specific passwords for third party apps that do not support 2FA. Which, they say, will be "required" come 1 October 2014.

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iOS 8 release: WebGL now runs everywhere. Hurrah for 3D graphics!

Mike Bell
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Re: WebGL Demo

@Dave

It's probably down to my clunky old graphics card on my PC.

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Mike Bell
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Re: WebGL Demo

No luck for me in Chrome (Windows) or Safari (OS X).

Nor this demo in Chrome. But it does look lovely in Safari (OS X) with Web GL enabled. Safari has been able to render Web GL for a long time, with the relevant (developer) preferences set.

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Bonking with Apple has POUNDED mobe operators' wallets

Mike Bell
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Re: Third Party

If Apple Pay proves to be a big success, which I suspect it will, my guess is that other mobile devices will be able to do the same thing with the same kit. Why? Well, it seems that Apple Pay will be making use of an existing tokenising technology devised by the payment processing industry, and there's no good reason why other parties can't get involved in principle.

The big card issuers / payment processors trust Apple's implementation of fingerprint authorisation and cryptogram production (for a variety of reasons, including the use of a secure element outside of OS space). As I see it, the likes of Samsung, for example, could devise their own similar capability and form agreements with the banks in order to use the same terminal equipment.

I don't see a technical barrier, other than the manufacturer's ability to convince the banks that it's secure. As for any legal barriers (e.g. exclusivity by contract), I don't know.

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THREE QUARTERS of Android mobes open to web page spy bug

Mike Bell
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Other than saying 'time to upgrade' what are people expected to do?

Yes, it's a problem. Especially for people with phones that aren't capable of being upgraded. Or those with manufacturers who roll out updates very slowly.

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Apple Pay is a tidy payday for Apple with 0.15% cut, sources say

Mike Bell
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Re: This is nothing unusual

@nsld

Have a read of this. Note the bit that says "Apple will not be handling the tokenization — the credit networks like Visa and MasterCard will be doing so".

A bit more about the tokens, and how they relate to you and the payment processor (not Apple) is described here.

The card information that you may (or may not) already have stored in iTunes just provides an easy means of getting your payment credentials registered in the first place.

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Mike Bell
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Re: This is nothing unusual

At the risk of labouring a point... If you wave your iphone at a pay point in MacDonalds, and Apple don't know you're in MacDonalds, they don't know you've just bought a Big Mac, and they don't know how much you spent on that Big Mac, what is there for Apple to 'aggregate' and monetise? Pray tell.

Apple will happily sit back and just let the monthly 'royalty cheques' from the card companies roll in.

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Mike Bell
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Re: This is nothing unusual

Of course apple won't track the actual payment but it will track the activity either side to analyse shopping habits and that data is valuable, again they have been doing that for years as does everyone else.

That is in direct contradiction to what Apple stated at their keynote event:

We are not in the business of collecting your data. And so when you go to a physical location and use Apple Pay, Apple doesn't know what you bought, where you bought it, or how much you paid for it. The transaction is between you, the merchant and your bank.

If the above statement is true, they have no means of doing what you say. The new tokenisation technology will not allow that to happen.

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Mike Bell
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Re: what's the date today?

@Yet Another Cowardly Anonymous Mouthpiece

Not 'everybody else on the internet' is making the ludicrous claims that you hold dear to your heart.

Samsung make good stuff, but they don't make iPhones. E.g. the fingerprint sensor on the iPhone is light years against Samsung's rather antiquated implementation. To the best of my knowledge, Samsung do not have an agreement with major card issuers to partake in fingerprint-authenticated payments.

This tedious 'Apple just copy Samsung' crap is trollish nonsense. Give it up already.

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Mike Bell
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Re: what's the date today?

You forgot the tinfoil hat.

Apple talked this up in their recent presentation of Apple Pay. A differentiator that sets them apart from the likes of Google. If that was a lie, don't you think the card issuers would have something to say about that? And what would be the benefit to Apple in any case? There's nothing in it for them to track the kind of purchases that you make. That's not their business model.

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Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers

Mike Bell
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Concerned users should probably put a decent strong password into their routers first and foremost. While good old Internet Explorer / Iframes have played their part here, a weakly protected router is an easy target for all manner of possible attacks. Most routers have an http login page, so they're just another regular resource to be used on the local network, and the IP address is going to be 192.168.0.1 most of the time, so it's not exactly hard to guess.

The problem lies fair and square with the router manufacturer, though. They should not allow such easy access out of the box, and the great majority of consumers won't have a clue about the risk. They certainly won't be reading The Register and tampering with browser plugins as a safety measure.

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Apple's Watch is basically electric perfume

Mike Bell
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Re: Surprisingly disappointing

I was surprisingly disappointed by the live stream of he event, which was a complete dog's dinner. Breaking up all the time, and some Chinese bird overdubbing everything for a good part of it. A complete cock-up, basically.

As to the product line up, the watch was a pretty big thing. I'll never use one myself, but I can see that a lot of effort has gone into it. You're being a little unfair when you say you've "seen it all before". The fact is, you haven't. You haven't seen a bunch of card providers team up with a mobile manufacturer to conduct payments secured by a fingerprint, to give just one example.

Apple do this kind of thing a couple or three times a year. 'New' products come along rarely. Software changes rather more often. And product upgrades somewhere in between. That's how they manage things year after year.

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Payment security bods: Nice pay-by-bonk (hint: NO ONE uses it) on iPhone 6, Apple

Mike Bell
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"To use Apple Pay you take a photo of your credit card to enrol it in the system. Hmm, Apple, photos and security ??? :)"

The chances of such a photo being uploaded anywhere are about as likely as the photo being retained when you use the phone's camera in the App Store app to scan a gift card. i.e. zero.

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Apple's SNEAKY plan: COPY ANDROID. Hello iPhone 6, Watch

Mike Bell
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Re: Two important differences for Apple Pay

Nor are they taking a cut from the transaction

The rumour is that Apple will be getting a small kick-back from each Apple Pay transaction. However, that will come out of the transaction fee levied at the retailer. And since Apple have negotiated lower transaction fees for Apple Pay, neither the consumer or retailer should pay any more.

Easy money for Apple.

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Mike Bell
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Re: Says it is for right handers only

Unsurprisingly, there is such an option.

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Why Apple had to craft a pocket-busting 5.5in Plus-sized iPhone 6 (thank LG, Samsung etc)

Mike Bell
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Re: NFC? . . . .

Fingerprint?

The iPhone, nor any corporation it connects to, stores a 'copy' of a fingerprint. The iPhone stores a hash of the fingerprint in its secure enclave. A bit like good websites never store users' passwords in a database - they store a hash that is only good for verification purposes when a subsequent password is entered. The hash can't be used to reconstruct any particular fingerprint.

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Mike Bell
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Re: NFC? . . . .

No, it's not the same NFC tech, as the user is authenticated by a combination of device and fingerprint.

Apple have convinced card issuers that this is secure. But what about something like the iPhone replacing an Oyster Card? There would be little joy in having to muck about with fingerprints when going through a busy ticket barrier, for example.

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Before I Go To Sleep turns out tense enough to keep you awake ...

Mike Bell
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It's rubbish. Slow, boring and gushingly sentimental at the end. I nearly cried in the cinema, not because it tugged at my emotions, but because I'd wasted 15 quid. Wish I'd seen The Expendables 3 instead, and that's saying something!

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New software ported from Windows to Mac! You'll never guess what. Yes, it's spyware

Mike Bell
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Re: More hints please

It's low risk now because it's not widely distributed

Source, please.

Any software that can keylog or open a remote shell is pretty dangerous. But if the user doesn't allow it to be installed, it's not dangerous at all. As I mentioned above, the malware description does not state what user interaction, if any, is required for it to run, e.g. whether they will be prompted by the OS to elevate permissions to do an install.

There's tons of malware out there on the web. I've lost count of the number of times I've seen a web page drop some failed executable right into my trash folder on OS X.

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Mike Bell
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Re: More hints please

Rather seems to assume there a a zero day exploit available

No, it doesn't. It's just a bit short on detail. They've described the sneaky way that its download is triggered, and what happens when it's executed, but they don't say how it gets executed and what's required in order for that to happen. In particular, whether or not the user is prompted by the OS to accept the install. Maybe that's why they describe it as category 1 low risk.

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Don't bother with Apple's 9 Sept hype-day: Someone's GONE AND BLABBED IT ALL

Mike Bell
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Re: Le Sigh

The banks have reportedly agreed to lower transaction fees when this comes into being, because authentication will be bolstered by fingerprint recognition. That can only be a good thing for retailers.

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Mike Bell
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Re: Will Apple be taking their usual...

No.

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Mac security packages range from peachy to rancid – antivirus tests

Mike Bell
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Tips

Don't install Flash. It's an awful risk to take. OS X will insist that you're using the latest version of Flash before it allows it to run, but you'll be safer if you don't install it at all.

Don't install Java unless you really need it (most people don't need it). Again, a 3rd party train wreck that's had a long history of vulnerabilities.

Use the latest version of OS X. Set the security settings so that apps may only be installed that originate from the Mac App Store and identified developers.

To the best of my knowledge there are no OS X 'viruses' in the wild. There's always the chance of you installing malware (naughty software that does things it oughtn't to), so be careful about what you do install and where you get it from.

I've read many many times that if you follow these basic precautions, you won't need antivirus software hogging your machine cycles on OS X.

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NUDE SELFIE CLOUD PERV menace: Apple 2FA? Sweet FA, more like

Mike Bell
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Re: "if you forget your password [..] all your iTunes purchases are gone, forever

That's why they go to the trouble of giving you a thumping great recovery key. If a user is too stupid to remember his password, and he's too dumb to print out his recovery key and put it in a safe place, he deserves a lot more than losing his iTunes purchases.

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Hot Celebrity? Stash of SELFIES where you're wearing sweet FA? Get 2FA. Now

Mike Bell
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Re: Two-factor auth for Find My iPhone?

and if you don't have a "real phone" ?

Information is listed here. It would seem that you have the option of registering any SMS-capable phone as one of your trusted devices as part of setting up 2-factor authentication.

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Mike Bell
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Breach or not?

"None of the cases we have investigated has resulted from any breach in any of Apple's systems including iCloud or Find My iPhone."

When is a breach not a breach? When you can successfully guess someone's password?

If Apple have "discovered that certain celebrity accounts were compromised by a very targeted attack on user names, passwords and security questions", it still sounds like a breach to me .

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Mike Bell
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Re: Two-factor auth for Find My iPhone?

Two-factor authentication typically relies on a separate secure channel, such as SMS or a telephone call. If you're using Find My iPhone, it's because you've lost your iPhone, so that second channel isn't available to you.

When I've seen Apple's 2-factor authentication swing into action - e.g when changing passwords, once enabled - you may use any authorised device, which may be an iPad or iMac, as the source of the acknowledgment.

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Apple 'fesses up: Rejected from the App Store, dev? THIS is why

Mike Bell
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Re: WTF

Actually, the developer guidelines are extremely transparent and comprehensive. Probably always have been.

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Boffins attempt to prove the UNIVERSE IS JUST A HOLOGRAM

Mike Bell
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Re: It's just mathematical equivalency - @Mike Bell

IIRC it was Feynman's supervisor who came up with the idea that there's just a single electron. I'm not saying it's a valid description of reality, but is an indication that there are many seemingly odd theories bandied around.

There are different interpretations of Many Worlds. I'm giving you one now: Everything that could be, ever has been, and ever will be simply is. 'Splitting into different universes' is a succinct and decidedly human description of events that I've heard used many times. Given that neither you nor I really know what's going on, I wouldn't get too hung up on metaphysical descriptions of reality.

As to us being simulations in a computer, did I say it was a particular type of computer? With a creator? Or that it exists in any real sense that you would understand? No. I am suggesting that any physical rules - even the particular weird ones we see around us - could be invoked in a simulation. The 'design' of such a 'computer' could be far simpler than the reality - or multiple realities - that it generates Something that William of Ockham might have appreciated.

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Mike Bell
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Re: It's just mathematical equivalency

Electrons don't do a quick calculation before deciding how much energy to emit as a photon when changing orbitals.

You don't know that for sure. Some theorists believe that is exactly what happens. In particular, all the possible places that an electron could go contribute to the place that it does go. And in Many Worlds, it goes everywhere, splitting into different universes with each opportunity. I even heard a theory that there is actually (whatever actually means) only one electron in the entire universe, and we see its work all around us.

I've long wrestled with the idea of whether or not the universe is simply its description. i.e. it's nothing but maths. My gut feeling says it's more than that. But who really knows. You and I are as likely to be simulations in a relatively dumb computing device. That would certainly account for much of the strangeness that goes on, as anything can be done in software.

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HUGE iPAD? Maybe. HUGE ADVERTS? That's for SURE

Mike Bell
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Re: "Now you can deliver highly engaging ads ..."

The ads perhaps won't be quite as engaging as the advertisers want if consumers tick that privacy option in iOS that limits ad tracking. I can't think of any sane person who would leave that option unselected.

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Apple promises to lift Curse of the Drained iPhone 5 Battery

Mike Bell
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Re: surely just pop the back off and change the battery for a new one.....

@psychonaut

Oh do quit whining. You have your opinion; I have mine.

I get it. You're the kind of person who enjoys tinkering with things. Get yourself a Meccano DIY smartphone for your ultimate enjoyment. Be my guest. Meanwhile, the world seems to struggle by with the most popular phone effectively being a sealed unit. A unit that is warranted in its entirety. There are definite pros in having sealed memory, tamper-proof enclaves etc. but they don't appeal to the tinkerer's mindset, or the kind of person who enjoys 'fixing' things. Again, fine. I could fix the clutch on my car if I wanted to, but I've got better things to do with my time, and I'll take my car somewhere where they have the proper equipment to do the job.

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Mike Bell
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Re: surely just pop the back off and change the battery for a new one.....

The difference being that iPhone batteries are warranted. Whereas your cheap Chinese knock-off battery won't be.

I used to have a crappy phone that I could split in two by hand for the joy of sticking bits in it. I don't care for that kind of nonsense any more.

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Super Cali signs a kill-switch, campaigners say it's atrocious

Mike Bell
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@DropBear

Unless the draft legislation has been changed, it will be illegal for anyone to use the kill switch without the device owner's express permission. Not to say they couldn't, but it would not be legal for them to do so.

@others

Blowing SIM lines or disrupting cell communications would not necessarily kill a phone's communication facilities. Just wander into Starbucks and use WiFi to talk to your chums.

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