* Posts by SPiT

43 posts • joined 7 Aug 2007

Volvo: Need a new car battery? Replace the doors and roof

SPiT

This idea will seriously upset the local Fire and Rescue Services. They already have a major issue around dangerous components in cars (gas struts, air bags and electrical supplies). The vehicle will need to be designed so that it is very clear to a rescue worker with cutting tools exactly where they can safely "disassemble" the vehicle to release trapped and possibly seriously injured occupants. The emphasis here, is that they have to know what is safe and what isn't. It isn't enough for there to be a safe approach, it has to be guaranteed safe (else their senior management cannot ask them to do it) and it has to be clearly communicated to the rescue workers in a way that guarantees they will be aware.

If you want to store lots of electrical energy (which they do) then this is going to be seriously difficult to make safe.

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500 MEELLION PCs still run Windows XP. How did we get here?

SPiT

Re: What about fitness-for-purpose?

Under European legislation you have a fitness of purpose case only against whoever sold you the Windows XP and you'll find that wasn't Microsoft so fitness for purpose doesn't really get you anywhere. And most XP licences will be hardware linked and that kit really is looking a bit old.

The proper legislation is the UK Sale of Goods act which gives a lifetime warranty that the product is fit for purpose and free of manufacturing defects. It doesn't warrant that it is defect free. However, it is a lifetime warranty.

p.s. The Microsoft "we don't warrant that this software is fit for any purpose" doesn't work as a get out.

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Google's Wi-Fi sniffing to result in $7 million fine

SPiT

Difficult to make a good case against Google

The real issue is that the only reason that sniffing this traffic might be unlawful is if we are claiming that the users of that Wifi had a reasonable expectation of privacy. In a way its the same issue with StreetView. The complaints about street view photography have been principally around the fact that the raised height of the camera allowed it to see things that people would reasonable expect to not be seen from the street - ie over a 6' fence in a street where no double decker buses go past.

So the real question is do the posters who think there should be a significant fine believe that users of unencrypted Wifi have a reasonable expectation of privacy? Personally I don't know if a court would consider that reasonable or not. I wouldn't expect my encrypted traffic to be private.

And, on another note, cracking the encryption on encrypted traffic would be quite another and clear cut offense in the USA which has a law about "bypassing encryption schemes" and could in all likelihood be treated as a criminal matter where you can't just pay a fine.

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Era of the Pharaohs: Climate was HOTTER THAN NOW, without CO2

SPiT

The reality of global warming

The real problem here is that you are all arguing about the details. In a way Lewis Page is perfectly correct to treat the wide range of global warming fanatics with a degree of skepticism. The vast majority of "information" posted by both sides of the debate is at best meaningless crud but more typically distortion based upon prejudice. What currently gets categorized as global warming science is actually the equivalent of weather forecasting but without the short-term feedback for quality control that weather gives you. You find out about 5 day weather forecasting every 5 days. Attempts to forecast climate change details are going to be very difficult and fraught with error.

What this means is that we don't know exactly what will happen or exactly when. This doesn't mean we know it won't happen, which is the typical anti-warming argument. To use an analogy, we are trying to work out whether it is safe to cross the road in thick fog. We can't see through the fog despite the best attempts of current science but we do have a more general theory that is solidly based that says traffic is coming. The warming fanatics are saying we are about to be run over, the anti-warming fanatics are saying that its safe to cross if you can't see anything coming. They are both wrong but I but caution seems more sensible than the gung -ho 'of course its safe' attitude.

The real global warming science is based on sound Geological analysis and a broad confidence that if we keep pumping CO2 into the atmosphere than it will get a lot warmer and sea level will rise and it will make a pretty big impact on human civilisation.

For a good real issue with the predictive science element of the global warming story the best current example is the realisation that the models haven't correctly considered the impact of a reduced equatorial - polar temperature gradient and its impact on the jet stream and the apparent real consequences already seen for weather in the mid-latitudes. This is a perfect illustration of the weaknesses of current modelling and the desperate need to penetrate that fog and find out what is going to happen.

We really don't know how scared we should be. The "it will never happen" brigade should perhaps be compared with the opposite extreme of some of the earlier predictions from James Lovelock of Gaia hypothesis fame (who has since changed his mind). These represent the extreme positions

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Adobe demands 7,000 years a day from humankind

SPiT

So what is the contract

The EULA thing is all very interesting because under English law a contract exists if there is an unambigous offer (software made available) and an unambigous acceptance (ticking the box). However, the unambigousness means it must be clear what the parties actively agreed to and this isn't clear on the consumer's side. Also, even when a contract exists the terms are considered to be whatever the two parties reasonably believed them to be. Supplement this with European consumer legislation which basically says the provider has an obligation to make sure the consumer understands what they are agreeing to and you end up with very little.

The bottom line is that where the agreement is with a consumer (non-commercial user) the fact that Adobe (or whoever) can reasonably determine that the EULA isn't being read the contract can be presumed to be whatever the consumer thought it was - ie yippee, free software - full stop, end of agreement.

So as a home user the likes of Adobe don't have a leg to stand on as far as your obligations are concerned. It might give them some slight protection in terms of liability but I suspect that mostly won't work. If you sued Adobe because a flash install wrecked your computer then their defence is going to have to be the common law defence that the consumer had no reasonable cause to expect Adobe to take liability for their use of free software. The EULA simple backs this up as an "if you insist on looking at the paperwork then its on our side" measure.

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Is lightspeed really a limit?

SPiT

Not really anything very new

The implications of special relativity are quite simple - lightspeed is a barrier to going faster than light as transition requires infinite energy. On top of that you might also consider that it can be viewed as a theory about simultaneous events and anything going faster than light maps onto a reversed time line. That is, to an observer, anything moving relative to them faster than light will appear to be moving in time. The end result is that transluminal travel creates time travel causality problems.

Bottom line tends to be that there aren't any rules saying you can't travel faster than light, just rules that say you can't get there. The natural 'speculation' is to imagine quantum tunnelling through the light speed barrier but since it is infinitely high this doesn't make sense either. The whole area has been done to death many years ago.

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Arctic ICE PANIC sparked by half-baked sat data

SPiT
Boffin

The principal evidence / issue for sea ice loss in the Arctice is not the area of coverage but an apparent substantial reduction in thickness. Unfortunately this appears to be a multi-year side effect from a single really bad year of ice cover leaving it enormously difficult to extrapolate reliably without viewing a lot of data.

However, in terms of public reaction you might like to consider that this years weather is principally ascribed to warming in the Arctic and that therefore this is a very serious issue for the UK.

Warming in the Arctive reduces the gradient of the tropopause between the equator and the pole leading to significant reduction in the energy being pumped into the jet stream. This leaves the jet stream considerably less stable with all the fun events of this year. May be the public are ready to worry about this.

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You want the Cloud? You can't have proper copyright, then

SPiT

Have you all missed the point? or have I?

I think the message from this is that something which is accepted as NOT a breach of copyright when carried out with a physical piece of equipment used in the home (recording TV to replay later) is being classed as a breach of copyright when exactly the same activity is carried out via purchasing the service from an online supplier.

To use an analogy, let's speculate that someone has copyright for the recipe for scrammbled eggs and it is generally agreed that you may use it free to cook scrammbled eggs for yourself at home but cafes must pay for the right to do so. Then comes along a service which gives you access to a kitchen on "commercial premise"s to cook your own meals, let's say rented accomodation, and this is then classified as a restaurant rather than an at home activity. Suddenly looks kind of weird doesn't it.

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Facebook: Your boss asks for your password, we'll sue him! Maybe

SPiT

Re: All this seems kind of illegal to me

I was forgetting

Its probably a breach of the human rights act as well. Strikes me this represents a clear breach of privacy and there is no way it qualifies for any of the exemptions.

I would not want to be an officer of any company following this practice in the UK

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SPiT
Alert

All this seems kind of illegal to me

Under English law the potential employer would have two rather serious issues assuming the Facebook terms and conditions forbid you to share your password and access to the account (I haven't even bothered checking as this is bound to be true)

First

By asking you to hand over your password in breach of your contract with Facebook the interviewing company has broken UK employment law. I'm not sure what the consequences are but you could take them to a tribunal if it is the reason you didn't get the job.

Secondly

Since Facebook have not given you the right to authorise their accessing your account than if they access it (or even just try to access it) they are in breach of the computer misuse act which is a criminal offence. If they ever tried to use information in a legal way that had been acquired by accessing your account it would have to be presented by a witness who explicitly claimed to have commited the offence (not a good move).

Bottom line is Facebook are correct, under English law this actually does amount to hacking.

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Antimatter asymmetry: new results bring solution closer

SPiT
Boffin

Two sided universe doesn't help

Its all very well proposing a two sided universe but it raises the same "who did this happen" question as the matter / anti-matter imbalance and as such doesn't really offer an explanation of anything. It is arguably more reasonable (Occam's razor and all that) to speculate that there is some mechanism that produces an imbalance than to speculate there is some mechanism that will neatly separate matter and anti-matter. You should also bear in mind that anti-matter is routinely created (not just in particle accelerators) and certainly doesn't seem inclined separate itself from matter.

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Cupertino lawyers mull 'driPhone' name ban

SPiT
Angel

Might consider i..... prior works

In Watermelon Sugar

A bit cryptic but does rather impact an Apple's claim to the general i prefix

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Higgs boson hunters have god particle in their sights

SPiT
Meh

Took me a minute or two ...

... to work out what the news was. Seems like the news is that they have now bothered to have a news conference. The story has been as good as public for a little while now

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Official: Kindles get heavier as you add e-books

SPiT

Oh, come on now

This article really hasn't considered all the implications of E=mc².

The dominant effects will be those representing the largest energy changes in the Kindle and from an electrical point of view this is clearly going to be the issue of battery charge so as you read the Kindle gets lighter.

The next largest effect is likely to be the Kindle cooling off once taken out of your pocket. As it cools it loses energy and hence mass. Mind you this raises the question of what is meant by "heavier" as the reduced bouyancy due to the thermal contraction may actually be more significant. Once you start down the cheesepairing route there are an awful lot of remarkably small numbers to take into account.

There are a lot more things like this that need to be considered before the internal energy state of the flash memory becomes a significant factor.

And ... if you thought measuring the speed of neutrinos is difficult ...

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Man could face prison over six second 'extreme porn' clip

SPiT
Grenade

Pass it on

I would simply suggest he forwards the e-mail to all those involved in the prosecution and report them for the same offense. If he claims it was sent to him unsolicited and viewed only once and that is no defence then the same applies to them and I'm sure at least some of them can be fooled into viewing it.

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Feds open school spycam probe

SPiT
Pint

A pity they didn't try it in the UK

Over here random camera monitoring would no doubt result in the staff involved all going to prison and being put on the sex offendors list (and hence banned from ever working in schools). Apparently applies even if they only accidently take pictures of naked school children.

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The myth of Britain's manufacturing decline

SPiT
Boffin

Can't we all be a bit more sensible

The bottom line from the statistics offered is not very exciting really. If everyone referred to the historical economists (who focus entirely on how economies actually behaviour) rather than the economists who constantly look at how to change things the wholse thing becomes rather obvious. The message from the graph is that the UK has had a 1.5% average annual growth rate in manufacturing. For a mature pinacle economy this isn't half bad so no great suprises or concerns there.

The graph was prepared by real statisticians so it doesn't lie about the value of manufacturing in our economy. It is inflation compensated so that increase is a real increase in value. There is one serious statistically issue left open which is whether the graph only includes value add rather than the total exit value of goods. This makes a big difference as our manufacturing is now higher up the foodchain and hence has much more significant material input costs than would apply many years ago when it including everything from the mining / farming of raw materials on upwards. Given the involvement of professional statisticians I would assume that it is value add.

After that all we are left with is that 1.5% per annum tailing of to the present day is a little pitiful against other nations (like China) but it is expected performance. If you are among the richest countries in the world (and we are) then you are automatically at a serious competitive advantage. The main brake on British manufacturing isn't government policy it is the income expectations of the British population* and there is nothing you can do about it..

* Please note British population applies to all those involved in any manufacturing business not just the shop floor workforce. Industry in rising countries tends to have the advantage of consistently reinvesting profits and cheap management as well as cheap shop floor labour.

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Air Marshal: RAF may not have to be disbanded

SPiT
Thumb Up

Dodgy RAF

It is worth bearing in mind that the RAF had a good stab at trying to lose WW2 by insisting that independent RAF operations were their appropriate activities. Just consider the following

RAF high command disliked all the spending on fighter command and if left to their own devices would have had a woefully inadequate air defence of the UK in 1940.

Bomber command absorbed a significant fraction of the UK war effort to very little effect. The damage to the German economy was a small fraction of the cost to ours and strictly speaking bomber command lost their air war in spring 1944 only to have it recovered for them by the activities of US daylight bombers (and escorts).

In the 1940-1943 period the RAF had a good stab at losing the battle of the Atlantic. The secret to defeating the u-boats (and it wasn't a secret) was long range air patrols but the RAF felt it was far more important to carry out ineffectual night bombing of Germany than helping the Navy.

The RAF attitude about independent action remains to this day and seriously undermines the effectiveness of the UK armed forces. They are obsessed with their core activity of indepent bombing when the focus should be on supporting the other services in performing proper combined arms activities.

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Verified by Visa bitchslapped by Cambridge researchers

SPiT
Stop

Not as bad as you all make out

The 3dSecure system does have some merit. I have one credit card that is used extensively for online purchasing. If fraud appears on this card then without 3d secure all I have is the claim that one of these web sites has leaked information and it has then be used elsewhere. With 3dsecure I can point out to the credit card company that they have either accepted transactions without a password from someone who knows public information about me or accepted a change of password from someone who knows public information about me. This puts the legal ball solidly in their court instead of the unknown one of many web sites that would otherwise be the only culpable entity.

As far as I am concerned this system worsens the credit card company legal position against the customer as they can no longer offload the issue to a customer versus web vendor dispute claiming they are an innocent intermediary.

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Headteachers slam 'disproportionate' vetting database

SPiT
Thumb Up

"little more than cynical spin."

Better known a lying.

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Royal Mail lawyers demand closure of postcode lookup site

SPiT
Grenade

Its not the postcodes

that they are objecting to. They are public information but the site is issuing map references for the postcodes. Royal Mail are essentially claiming this map reference data is from their database and therefore is subject to copyright. If the data is derived from their database then the take down is perfectly legitimate.

And all the twaddle about postcodes that everyone is posting is total bollocks

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Demise of British tank industry foretold admitted

SPiT

Tanks for the memory

There seem to be numerous issues to argue with both in the article and the following comments.

Along with so many others I cannot agree that the Sherman was the best tank in British service and cannot believe that nobody has mentioned the Centurion. This was a really high class tank at the time and saw deployment as the war closes. It is probably the best British tank ever but lacks the prominence of other newer tanks or those that saw real WW2 service.

On the other hand all those criticising the Sherman have missed its key primary characteristic - there were lots and lots of them. This and only this is what made it such a good tank.

Moving on, the issue of the obsolescence of the MBT is an interesting subject that could be subject to a much longer article if not a book in itself. The character of armoured warfare has changed a great deal over the last 50 years and whilst the tank killer function of tanks has been largely surperceded the other uses have not. The requirement to drive around the battlefield in a survivable vehicle remains of significance at the tactical level as does the similar (but slightly different) requirement at the operational level.

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RAF in plot against Fleet Air Arm again

SPiT
Thumb Up

Couldn't agree more

As ever, Lewis Page has yet to write anything I disagree withand I know about a lot of this stuff as much as he does. If it was up to me I would make him minister of defence tomorrow.

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New terror guidelines on photography

SPiT

Have any of you read the rest of the byelaw

On reading the whole byelaw item (5) appears to ban the use of mobile phones.

On the other issues of common law, it is technically illegal to stand still in a public place (causing an obstruction) or carry out a conversation involving more than two persons (counts as a public meeting) if you are asked to cease doing so by a officer of the law. The offense in both cases is obstructing an officer in the course of his duties and is an arrestable offense.

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Study clears cannabis of schizophrenia rap

SPiT
Unhappy

Canabis use is a major issue

Strange but it doesn't seem to have been mentioned that canabis use does lead to major problems in our society. These seem to be a result of a wide range of issues all linked to the fact that the product is unregulated and illegal. This is the big issue, bad things happen in our society because of it and no doubt the anti crowd will blame the pot smokers but the pro argument is rather stronger. You could eliminate all the problems by everybody stopping smoking pot OR you can eliminate the problems by making it legal. Both ways wouyld work but I get the feeling that only the second one is practical. Unortunately making it legal is affected by international treaty and so on but the problems are the same world wide. Why can't the human race do something sensible just for once. Are we truly so lacking in common sense.

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New Scientist goes innumerate in 'save the planet' special

SPiT
Thumb Up

Both are right and both are wrong

I've read the New Scientist issue and this articles complaint is valid BUT it is also clear that in many areas growth has lead to greater use of resources. This article doesn't actually claim that we aren't over using resources, just that the claim that it is implicit is wrong so strictly speaking the article is right and New Scientist is wrong.

The truth lies somewhere in between, resource depletion is not inherent in growth per se but the real world we clearly are making a good solid effort and ignoring the limited resource issue. One day everyone will wonder why we don't get good sound coverage of this issue somewhere in the middle.

I guess the biggest problem is that the media generally preferes those with definite views rather than those with a good grasp of the problem but no solution. In this case those with definite views tend to be at the extreme end of opinion.

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Court rules 90s UK.gov wiretaps violated human rights

SPiT
Go

Can't ditch human rights act

The suggestion that the human rights act should be ditched is untterly pointless. The only real effect of this act is to embody the European Treaty on Human Rights into UK law so that it can be applied by a British court rather than the European court. This makes it all a bit less embarassing but doesn't really change applicable law.

As an employer I am conscious that current government advice on what an employer can intercept contradicts the human rights act. This government and its predecessors don't seem to be able work out the balance between human rights and monitoring legislation. They all operate a mish mash of contradictory advice and legislation.

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Telegraph falls to the Tw*t-O-Tron

SPiT
Alert

Turin test for Tw*t-O-Tron

It seems to me that we clearly have a candidate for passing the Turing test. I'm not sure what this tells us about anything but I certainly can't tell if the comments are from humans or not.

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Asda declares baby's arse 'pornographic'

SPiT
Alert

Just what are Asda saying about their staff

"Sexually explicit pictures, writing, or other material whose primary purpose is to cause sexual arousal." What does this say about Asda since they are the ones that find the image pornographic. Is the entire business staffed by paedophiles?

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MPs urge action as spooky caller ID-faking services hit UK

SPiT
Boffin

Ban what exactly?

Bearing in mind that caller ID spoofing is used as standard by a wide range of users and businesses already there may be some difficulty in banning it. It is now quite a normal feature in a PABX to be able define the caller ID rather than leaving it to the network provider. The is the standard way of having all calls from a range of phones appear to come from one number. So waht exactly is it that everyone wants to ban.

Do we make it illegal to issue a caller ID which does not match the network number for calling the exact phone line making the call?

Do we make it illegal to issue caller ID which does not allow reliable call back to the business that was making the call (allows current generally used spoofing)

Or what?

For those of you that care caller-ID has always been broken since it is fed through the network from the originating exchange as a completely seperate signal from the originating caller signalling. It is simply a field that the network passes through without caring what is in it. All you needed was to be an "originating exchange" which has been widely and economically available to business for sometime and for a little while now available to anyone that wants via Internet telephony.

Anyone who wants to ban it, can we have some proposed wording for this law so we can have fun pointing out the consequences.

(p.s. Yes, I would like to ban it too but I'm not sure how. I already give call centres a lot of stick over this issue since they claim it clearly indicates who they are)

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Apple store detains teens for installing iPhone game

SPiT

Re: Unlawful arrest

As far as I am aware the UK law for citizen's arrest requires that you be able to prove that an offense has been commited and have reasonable cause to suspect the person arrested commited said offense. It is not sufficient to have reasonable cause to suspect an offense has been commited.

On top of that if the "teenagers" where under 16 then they cannot give consent to be detained putting the store in a very dodgy position. (Although in this case I presume they were older).

I would strongly suspect that US law is different.

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Teen battles City of London cops over anti-Scientology placard

SPiT
Alert

Turn the tables

How about if I consider the police notice to be threatening, abusive and insulting. It also clearly causes considerable distress. Can I summons the police officer involved under the public order act? What is there to prevent a private prosecution on this basis? No doubt it will be that wonderful court idea of "not in the public interest" that somehow doesn't require any review by the public.

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Welsh couple cop Mosquito flak

SPiT

Mosquito specs

It might help if a few of the objectors looked up the specs of the Mosquito. It is designed to monitor background sound levels and operate at 5 dB above this. For those of you wanting to make it a public nuisance this is going to be a problem since you are left with the issue that any repetitive noise 5 dB background is going to be a public nuisance.

In an example given earlier of a pensioner objecting to children playing. They are clearly going to be rather noisier compared to background than a Mosquito device.

This reduces the argument against the device to be simply about how annoying it is and not sure how far you will get with that. I shall be watching with interest.

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Get your German interior minister's fingerprint here

SPiT

Identity Fraud

Currently one of the best protections (for the individual) against identity fraud is the use of photographic ID. If someone tries to steal my identity they will often be required to produce some sort of photographic ID and a copy of it is kept. If the photo doesn't match (fake ID) then I can prove this later. The new ID cards are based on the concept of self verification, they won't keep a copy of someones fingerprint, they just verify it is "correct". At this point the "bank" will be insistant that it was me and not an identity fraudster. As far as I can see the biggest risk with ID cards is that the person impersonated easily gets to be held responsible for the actions of the impersonator rather than the body whose security failed.

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Oregon man stripped by Craigslist looters

SPiT
Thumb Up

Law of theft

"Ignorance and stupidity is no excuse for theft." Unfortunately it is not necessarily theft. The definition of theft requires "intent to pernanently deprive". To prove this requires the simple step of making it known that the ad was fake and then verifying that a person did not voluntarily return the goods. Simply put, the police action is exactly right for establishing a clear case of theft.

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BOFH: Impatience

SPiT
Boffin

Einstein stuff

The proper equations are

E = MC^2 where M is the current mass of the object

or

E = mC^2/(1-V^2/C^2) where m is the rest mass of the object

The second equation is simply a way of deriving the energy (or indirectly the active mass) of an moving object.

The key understanding is that energy and mass are in fact the same thing. Once you pick up that part of it things all start to make more sense.

Also, the equations are from Einstein's Theory of Special Relativity (the first one) rather than General Relativity. Special Relativity only properly handles objects travelling with constant velocity in free space. Once you introduce any sort of acceleration you need General Relativity and the world gets a whole lot more complicated.

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Consumer group slams 'unfair' software licenses

SPiT
Gates Horns

Law of contracts

English law on contracts says some interesting things in relation to the process by which a consumer contract comes into being. This is especially awkward for the supplier for consumers rather than commercial purchasers.

In particular,

The contract terms are those which the parties reasonably believed were the terms when the contract was formed.

The offer of variations on the contract after it has been formed may be rejected by the customer. The EULA is clearly such an offer and may be rejected. The contract with the supplier remains in force leaving an interesting situation. If you entered into a contract to by "Microsoft Office" then you have little come back except to reject the terms and ask for the contract to be cancelled (ie get your money back). If you went into a shop (PC World say) and asked to buy something for a specific purpose and the EULA is not suitable then the contract remains in force and they are required to provide something does meet your purpose. This is a whole new can of worms but the upshot is that the shop you buy from should be grateful if they get away with simply giving you your money back.

On the issue of software not working. It is required to be of merchantable quality and no amount of statements in the EULA saying they do not warrant it is suitable for a particular purpose will get them out of this. Basically it must be of "merchantable quality" for carrying out the tasks they advertise it for. If their advertisements talk it up then they are making some quality statements about their software. The EULA cannot negate this.

Unfortunately many of the nuances of the law in this area have simply never been tested in court mostly since if you apply legal pressure you will get your money back and that is the end of it. No industry wants their limited warranties tested in court since this might make consumers realise how invalid they are.

I have numerous warranty cards for bits of equipment that provide a "free one year warranty repair" for manufacturing defects. The law gives me a lifetime warranty against manufacturing defects.

From my point of view the key EULA restrictions that will stand up in court (probably) are the consequntial damages and licence transferability clauses.

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Big Climate's strange 'science'

SPiT
Thumb Down

Mass Extinctions are common

"Geologists will quite happily explain how major climate changes in the Earth are a result of geological changes. Remember that more carbon is trapped in limestone than in either plant life or fossil fuels (or both put together for that matter). Ice ages and volcanic eruptions are all things that will unarguably change the climate. Yet, with the notable exception of the extinction of the dinosaurs, it seems life has happily trundled along through it all. We're the living proof."

There have been numerous mass extinctions and currently the favoured view is that the dinosaurs may be the only one that wasn't due to catastrophic sudden climate change.

Personally I don't walk across the road with my eyes shut because nobody can quantify the risk. I take safety measures because I can tell it isn't minimal. Climate change deserves the same approach.

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Glaswegian piracy drive yields just 41 'possible' offenders

SPiT

No prove innocence but show duty of care

Contrary to earlier comments there are plenty of English laws that oblige the "accused" to show evidence that they have exercised their duty of care. These laws do have an element of guilty until proven innocent but the word "prove" is inappropriate. The BSA also has considerable legal powers to interfer with businesses if they can show a judge reasonable cause to allow them to do so.

What this boils down to is that if the BSA can show cause to suspect software piracy they have considerable scope for legally collecting further evidence (go read up on Anton Piller orders and associated more modern substitutes). They can also oblige directors to provide evidence of what steps they have taken to prevent software privacy in their business.

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Hamster-in-rain emergency prompts 999 call

SPiT
Alert

It happens to the Fire Brigade as well

Some years ago when London Fire was moving to a new control the ex-directory number for the 999 lines was the same as Kings Cross rail enquiries number except for one digit that was an 8 instead of a 5. As we all know people like doodling and changing 5s to 8s.

Anyway, I once spent several hours working in the control room (prior to official use) with a fire service operator sitting there aanswering calls. There were about 100 calls through the day and only a minority of callers cared that their call was answered "Fire Brigade emergency". A good 50% insisted on continuing to repeatedly ask about train times and only rang of in frustration when the operator essentially refused to answer their query.

Needless to say the number got changed.

The lesson is simple. Callers have a fixed idea of what they expect and if you don't take the time to "deal with them" they just keep ringing back.

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Israelis offer 'British' pukka-lingo ware to Blighty

SPiT

Not very legal in the UK

"WhiteSmoke software sends everything you write back to the parent company. "

Which immediately means that if your text contains any personally identifiable information then it is covered by the Data Protection Act and exporting the text to Israel is likely to be illegal.

Kind of difficult to use it to write letters to people.

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Almost all CCTV systems are illegal, says expert

SPiT

DPA rules

"In fact I think we should have legislation that *requires* all CCTVs to also be publicly accessible webcams." and that definitely would make them illegal.

The DPA rules for security CCTV are quite simple and pretty much come down to the following.

1) The cameras are being operated by the person or business whose security is in question

2) The recordings will be used only for the investigation of an offense.

3) Nobody routinely views the recording.

Really (3) is just part of (2) and it is an important part of the restrictions that the camera recordings are only checked for the purposes of verifying that it works and when there are reasonable grounds to believe an offense has been committed and then only as an official part of the investigation.

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Orange dismantles Bristol Tower of Doom

SPiT

Epidemiology

It is important to understand the theory of epidemiology to understand the background and the effects of some of the suggestions.

Firstly, the massive amount of epidemiological research on mobile phone mast safety has been unable to find any concrete evidence of any effect. This doesn’t indicate that their safety is unknown, it actually indicates that if there is any effect then it must be less than X (where X is a very low risk) otherwise they would have found it. This doesn’t prove masts cannot cause illness it just says the rate must be at most very very low.

Secondly, the suggestion (and practise) of removing the mast is quite dangerous. It is highly likely that the cancer cluster has no cause and is just a random fluctuation. If this is the case then the future cancer rate is likely to fall to the national average and all the locals will pat themselves on the back and say what a good job they got rid of the mast. As long as the exposure to masts is reduced as a result of clusters this will help to reinforce people’s view that they cause problems.

In case you are interested there is an identical effect with speed cameras. The rules require a certain level of historical accidents to authorise the placing of cameras. This means that cameras placement is strongly biased towards being co-located with chance clusters of accidents. In following years the local authorities claim that the cameras have reduced the accident rate. When you correct the analysis to allow for the short-term accident rate influencing camera placement you discover that they have no discernible effect.

The important rule here is that any information used for making a decision about experimental conditions (ie location of a mast) cannot then be used in the analysis of the consequences. The people in Bristol have now made sure that their cancer cluster cannot be used to support their argument.

A Rational Human Being

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