Many times zero equals
And the result of a web petition or poll is worth what it usually is. Amazing that anyone takes any notice of them.
108 posts • joined 14 Aug 2007
And the result of a web petition or poll is worth what it usually is. Amazing that anyone takes any notice of them.
100% right. MY Galaxy S5 has a 16 megapixel camera. So in bright sunlight the pictures are superb, as many have noted. But otherwise exposure times are pushed to the maximum, so camera shake smears fine detail over many pixels, making the high pixel count quite useless. It's taken a while but smart people have learned to ignore the pixel count and look at the pictures. In bright sunshine I often reach for the phone in preference to my quite good camera, otherwise I put the phone in my pocket and forget it as a picture taking device.
Getting higher quality sound than the common herd is a sort of religion with some people. You will no more convince them that their chosen route to heaven isn't valid than you will convince religious fundamentalists of the same thing.
Maybe that's because music can have a direct line to the emotions, but, like sex, the effects aren't under conscious control. So people need a way to get in the right frame of mind. Concentrating on the finer points of sound quality forces you to pay attention to the actual sounds, and avoids distracting thoughts. And a feeling of inner satisfaction at being able to hear subtleties that escape most people probably helps as well.
The exact means doesn't matter so long as it achieves the desired result. In the mid 1950s a friend of my father's explained to me how listening to Chopin on his acoustic gramophone was a far superior experience to the new LPs. Perhaps it was the slower wow of the newer medium that bothered him. But I think it's more likely that, having invested money and emotion in a superior wind-up gramophone, music on an ordinary LP record player just didn't turn him on.
If you're driving, the law requires you to pay continuous attention to the road and traffic. But it's been well known for many years that human beings are incapable of closely monitoring, e.g. a radar screen, for long periods, without occasional distraction that will cause them to miss something they should have noticed. How many drivers can put their hands up and say they have never noticed something later than they should have done? Sensible people drive in such a way as to make allowance for occasional distractions, but even this doesn't totally deal with the problem. So self driving cars are the best way to deal with a vehicle's interaction with other moving traffic.
Leaving stoves on is a real problem. And as with many other problems that IoT is invoked to solve, that's probably the wrong answer. How about a motion sensor? Or even a rethink of stoves? You can't set a microwave oven to run with no time limit so why shouldn't stoves be the same?
The Survation apology is very revealing - it shows that polling is far from being the scientific process that they like to pretend. Anyone who trusts Survation after this is clearly not interested in the truth, unless they can regain some credibility by promising to publish whatever they find without fear or favour.
The vehicles will presumably be well instrumented, so there should be video evidence all round plus records of speed, braking and so so on. It should be a lot easier to find the cause of an accident when an automated vehicles is involved, than it is usually.
Most dodgy documents I see are not appealing to greed, they are invoices and payment confirmations. The problem is lack of the appropriate degree of suspicion. People need to learn to be far more paranoid on-line than they would be in ordinary life.
Why should more voters make FPTP a better system? That would only happen if those who at present can't be bothered to vote, tend to favour one party. Should a party be in power only because many of their voters have been paid to turn up at the polling station?
But If the current non-voters don't tend to favour a particular party, adding them in would just add more noise and make close results even more random.
Anyway the only people who really care about low turnout are politicians, because they think it makes government look less legitimate.
Personally I would reduce the number of voters by putting the age back to 21. Young people are just as intelligent and interested as older ones, and no doubt more so than some of the very old ones. But experience is considered necessary for all important jobs and voting is one of the most important things we do. It can decide peace or war, and nothing could be much more important than that.
Personally I was very interested and took it seriously when I first voted. But even at the grand old age of 22, I paid far more attention to political speeches and manifestos, and less attention to party records in government and opposition, than I would do now.
The secret ballot, once hard fought for, seems to have been forgotten. Now that anyone can get a postal vote the door is open to paid for votes and intimidation. Internet voting would make those even easier. In my view postal voting should be abolished except for those who can show it is essential for them to be able to vote at all.
There are Android apps that will turn WiFi off and on depending on what cell tower you're connected to, so you don't have to remember to turn it off when you leave home. I installed one to save battery and control attempts to connect to open networks. Takes a couple of seconds to override when I want to. Don't know about iPhone.
First, the security solution already exists. I don't think I've ever seen a gas oven that didn't turn off the gas if it wasn't alight, and it would now be illegal to sell one.
Second, money would be better spent improving appliances' basic functions, but most people won't pay the extra. With most irons, the soleplate is unevenly heated and the temperature swing as the thermostat cuts in and out is too wide. Human minds are flexible enough to cope, but automation would probably play safe so the temperature would be lower and clothes wouldn't be well ironed. People would switch to manual and wonder why they'd paid for connectivity.
Anyway this is not the future I was expecting. Having a robot to set the controls of the iron so I can do the ironing seems a sadly limited ambition.
The right way to specify equipment noise is sound power in dB relative to one picowatt, A-weighted.
The sound level (SPL) will depend on direction, distance, the room and its contents, and where you and the device are in the room, in relation to sound reflecting and absorbing surfaces. The vibration of your eardrums will depend on all these things plus which way you turn your head.
The right way to specify noise is sound power in decibels A-weighted relative to one picowatt. The actual sound level will depend on the direction, the distance and the room.
I use Word and also have to deal with LibreOffice documents. Both drive me to distraction on occasion but LibreOffice more often. At least Word doesn't insert page breaks and lots of new paragraphs within footnotes when saving to .doc (as needed for Amazon to convert to Kindle.) Word occasionally puts footnotes on the wrong page in a complex document - but then oddly enough, so does LibreOffice.
I am much in favour of creative writing being done in plain text but it's necessary to identify formats such as quoted blocks and subheadings so they can be preserved in subsequent formatting. Not always so easy, and in a long book I'd prefer to avoid doing it by hand.
Power socket with live-neutral reversed. Everything plugged in works perfectly. Equipment with earth-neutral reversed. Works OK (apparently) when plugged into normal socket. Put the two together: stops working. Luckily - because the metal cased unit was touching another that was properly wired. Muggins called out at 2 am. By the time I arrived everyone else had gone home. I moved the unit to get to the mains plug (so then it wasn't touching the adjacent unit) and replaced the fuse.
A narrow escape I've never forgotten. I could so easily have had my hands across the mains, which since the substation was in the building would have been a good 250 volts.
Moral: don't ignore the possibility of two separate faults, not very dangerous individually, being lethally combined. In this case both errors were made by professionals who should have known a great deal better.
This study has been comprehensively debunked. See
So it will be an automatic camera. How many people do anything other than point and click anyway?
By the way, the famous S5 camera gives very nice photos in bright sunshine but is dreadful in dim light. To adequately illuminate all those pixels often takes an exposure so long that camera shake blur makes the picture far fuzzier than on my old phone that had 1/3 of the "resolution".
Considering they are all people and very often the same people, it would be very strange if it wasn't so. And the way people behave isn't specific to road transport, it applies very generally.
They will mostly break rules when convenient if (a) they don't themselves think it will do much harm to themselves or others that they consider important, (b) there isn't much chance of getting caught and (c) they think their mates do the same thing. But which rules they break varies with the circumstances. Cyclists can't break all the same rules as motorists and vice versa.
In many cases people will seek to justify their rule-breaking with spurious arguments or minimise the extent of their rule-breaking: I was only going x over the limit, speed limits cause motorists to bunch up and increase danger, it's safer to jump lights and/or cycle on the pavement, data should be free, I pay too much tax anyway (for the huge VAT-free cash payment brigade).
I have my share of horror stories about motorists cyclists and bikers but I won't bore you with them.
I am not a professional psychologist but I base these comments on 60 years of observing people on the road and in other places.
If this is true, you would expect that the way to change behaviour is with a combination of enforcement and campaigns to alter public perception of acceptability. This worked to a large expent with drunken driving. But enforcement had to come first because people rely on their peer group to judge their behaviour and this is very hard to change from outside.
I don't see why this criminal activity is MS's problem. I'm glad they want to help but surely the police should be interested. It's just fraud. People do a similar thing calling at the door and saying there's a problem with your gutters. It's not the house builder's fault.
Anyway what do you say to these callers? I'm tempted to string them along but usually haven't got the time.
What happens when the batteries won't hold charge shortly after the guarantee ends? I had a lovely cleaner that couldn't be opened without breaking it, even with a full security screwdriver set.
Why don't these manufacturers adopt the cordless drill battery model? Ecologically (and economically) terrible to throw the whole thing away when the battery gives up.
In Kitkat, 3rd party apps can indeed store their own data on SD - or at least the capability is there but not all developers take advantage of it. I have 4.7GB of maps stored on a physical SD card, using the Anquet app. But I also have the Maverick mapping app which (as far as I can see) stores its data only on the virtual "SD card" in the phone memory. This severely limits my offline use with this app. Hopefully developers will eventually catch up.
I've found that life and health insurance companies demand complete disclosure of your medical records anyway. At age 55 I was refused insurance for being too ill to work because my records showed that I had been referred to a psychologist at age 24. It was such a minor thing that I'd actually forgotten the event - a single visit with no treatment nor followup. I'd had no psychological problems in the 31 years since, during which I'd been happily married and continuously employed. But insurance companies don't take risks.
So, although I'm in principle in favour of privacy, I wonder what difference this will make in practice. A doctor's appointment made in your youth can already come back to bite you when you're old.
Even more maps and charts with text that can't be read when enlarged because it's only a few pixels high.
A quick look In Play Store shows quite a lot of app names starting with "Android". It'll be interesting to see how consistently the rule is applied. It would be easy enough to screen for such names at the first application so clearly Google haven't been that bothered up to now.
When Google+ was introduced, they removed the long-standing and useful ability to force inclusion of a search term by putting a + in front of it. Could we have that back please? Yes you can use quotes but in my experience they don't work 100%.
- companies that don't allow you to paste a password, and don't allow the entered password to be visible. So either you have to have a short one that's easy to remember and type accurately, or else you have to write it down.
- companies that ask you for a memorable word that THEY specify: Like "favourite piece of music" (mine changes weekly) or "mother's maiden name" (my grandparents didn't speak much English and my mother's name was wrong on her birth certificate, so I know two versions.) Etc etc.
- companies that reject passwords that don't comply with their rules, but they don't tell you what the rules are. Sometimes they don't even tell you that there ARE rules, you have to work out for yourself why your registration isn't accepted.
I have hundreds of passwords, so I use KeePass with a long pass-phrase, including a number that hopefully I won't forget until I'm too old to care. The KeePass data file is synchronised to my mobile via DropBox so I can also use their mobile app. I don't feel that my security is too bad. But I think it would be better if more companies allowed pass-phrases with spaces.
Economists should take lessons from electronic designers. Calculating steady state response is easy, but often it's the transients that will blow the fuse. Abolishing planning will make some people instant millionaires and push others into major debt (yes a house does have very real value when you downsize or move to a cheaper area.) Included in the latter will be a lot of old folks who have no way replace their lost asset.
So how do you get from here to there? Any hint of a possibility that the law might change will lead to instant upheaval and instability. That's not a political problem, it's a real economic effect - just one that most economists that I've read don't deal with.
Add to that, the idea that free market heaven would be established if planning were abolished is nonsense. A few big companies would carve up the whole thing between them, take control of the vital transport links and (as usual) those that shout loudest about the free market would be the ones working hardest to fix it in their own favour.
Of course when we had few controls, what happened was that people built to take advantage of the existing often state-established transport networks, and the state scrambled to keep up with water, sewage, schools, hospitals and so on. Not an ideal model, but hard to work out how to replace it without some ... planning.
And no, I don't support rent control in the least - I'm old enough to remember its dire effects in London.
I can only imagine that the author isn't familiar with modern hardware other than computers. Two old examples from my own field: digital hearing aids and high end sound level meters.
Usually I'm reasonably happy to choose the price/features point that suits me. But I was caught out when something I thought was a basic feature turned out to be an expensive extra. I argued that I'd told the sales engineer what I needed the equipment to do, and eventually haggled the vital "upgrade" at half price. It taught me a lesson.
If a streaming service keeps working when it's subject to a sudden huge increase in demand, that's news. I would have been very surprised if the feed had kept working and no doubt so would the STV IT people. I'm not an expert in these matters, just going on experience.
Not surprised they wouldn't let the BBC stream it either. The relation between the BBC and Scotland is in itself a relevant matter in the debate.
With one device to access all the PCs, phones, tablets etc. on which you have accounts, you'd better look after it well. Unless it really is implanted. The way some crooks work, if is is implanted, probably not a good idea to have it too deep.
And how long before someone works out a way of cloning, it, as is done with radio car keys?
I hope "hard to bind a third party to a contract without their consent" is an understatement. I thought only the Government could do that.
yes, but ... If smoke and mirrors, who is it aimed at? The people who are trying to protect systems against Israeli attack would presumably know enough to realise that attacking a system without a radio receiver via a mobile phone isn't feasible. A system with a radio receiver might be vulnerable to attack via a mobile phone, but that wouldn't be astonishing, even though it might be "air-gapped" in the most literal sense.
I always wonder what it's about when I see technical terms that are actually meaningless in the context. In this case "FM frequencies". Does this mean the frequencies that are used for FM domestic radio transmissions (around 100 MHz), which would need a large aerial to radiate with useful efficiency? Seems unlikely but if not, what? This phrase is really just words devoid of any useful information.
Turing was a very clever man but he hadn't grasped the open-ended nature of human conversation, with its almost infinite number of possible variations, so he underestimated the time before his test would be passed, and the amount of hardware needed to do it.
I predict that the Turing test won't be genuinely and convincingly passed for very many years. And that's just as well. I can't see a lot of legitimate uses for a computer that can successfully fake a human life history and experience, but I can see some nefarious ones.
My wife updated her rather old iPhone while we were on holiday. It gave constant trouble, and she was cursing until she could get to reliable WiFi to roll it back. Mr Google says she's not the only one.
You're asking for news that's still basically about politics, just a bit different. But the other news outlets that aim to be popular don't do that. They go for celebrities, sport, bashing whatever group is out of favour and dissimilar from their audience, and inaccurate sensational stories about health and the weather. That seems to work pretty well. There doesn't seem to be much evidence that any sort of hard news can be very popular.
I don't think hard news has ever been popular with young people, apart from a few politics geeks. They're usually preoccupied with sorting out their own lives. That's just one of the reasons why they shouldn't be allowed to vote.
Security software is sold with the false promise that it will virtually guarantee safety. People need to learn that it won't, and to be very paranoid, because they really are out to get us.
It would help to ban zip files as email attachments, they are almost only used by spammers (and people who mistakenly put incompressible files in them.) Apart from that, people need to learn to look both ways before opening an email as they do (well, should) when crossing the road. I've nearly been caught a few times but have learned to ask myself a couple of simple questions:
"Why would xxx (HMRC or whoever) make me open an attachment to find what it's about, rather than put more information in the body of the email?"
"Could I check the information on their web site instead?"
There's no hope for those who think they might have won a lottery that they haven't entered, but it is possible to train reasonably smart people to be a lot more cautious, and it pays dividends in reduced calls to sort out infected systems.
Even a casual internet user would likely need passwords for PC logon, ISP, email. router admin, Wi-Fi, bank, building society, Amazon, eBay, gas and electricity on-line accounts, Facebook and Twitter, as well as non-internet PINs for credit and debit cards. It's just not reasonable to expect human beings to remember all these. Most people I know have their pssswords written down, or have simply forgotten the less frequently used ones.
The only practical answer is to use a password utility such as provided with some AV programs, or a stand-alone utility such as Keepass. For me it's an essential piece of software.
I avoid creating passwords wherever possible but even so I have 392 passwords ... of which probably 1/4 are defunct and I will never need about 3/4 of the rest (only I'm not quite sure which 3/4.) Some of these belong to relatives in case they ask me to sort out problems with their email etc.
But they're easily managed with Keepass, and available on my desktop PC, laptop and phone, by sharing the encrypted password file on DropBox.
I only have to remember the master phrase, and I use that often enough to remember easily. Should I change it regularly though? Surely it it's secure I don't need to, and if it isn't, by the time I change it, it would probably too late.
Thanks, I've found it.
Yes, Scan look good and have very good custom options. Unfortunately they don't advertise a compact desktop, nothing between full-width tower and micro system. But I'll have a word with them anyway.
(Nowadays on a retail site, I expect to be able to click on an appropriate heading, not to have to scroll all around looking for something suitable. And their Home Office PCs section has a missing anchor so the link doesn't work. Apart from that ...)
Looking at Scan shows exactly what I a problem I have choosing something other than Dell. I can't find any "standard" desktop PCs there at all - only mini and all-in-one. In fact their main menu does not present "PC" as a category of things they sell. No doubt that reflects the market pretty well but unfortunately it's what I want.
HP seems a a great deal more expensive, and I am not impressed by 2 GB RAM with integrated graphics and 250 GB HD these days. Still don't think me ungrateful, all (polite) suggestions are very welcome.
Custom built is not a practical option for the vast majority who don't enjoy messing about with PC parts. Fine if it works. If it doesn't you can waste months trying to find the problem. Been there. If you have a stock of spare parts you can swap to isolate a problem, that's fine. I haven't.
So where should my wife buy a small form factor desktop PC for her business, without paying for a screen she doesn't need? Dell might be behind in updating BIOS but are the very few alternatives any better? I can't recommend a laptop with inferior performance, no expandability, and a screen that's too small for the job.
About 25 years ago there was a fashion for phoning random numbers, then if there was an anwering machine, leaving a death threat. I know it was a fashion because the police told me when it happened to me. I didn't take it seriously because it was clear that the caller didn't really know anything about me, but that sort of experience is still nasty.
Everybody likes a bit of power but some people have very little. Like some kids who knock on doors and run away, because kids have almost no power except the power to annoy. Thanks to the Internet, losers who have no other way to make anybody take any notice of them can easily harass specific people. Of course people who threaten violence should be caught and stopped if possible, but it should probably be recognised that they'll never be stopped completely, any more than you can stop kids knocking on doors and running away.
It might help to recognise that no real rape or bombing has ever followed this sort of threat (AFAIK anyway) and is never likely to.
A badly designed and faulty charger could put mains voltage on the USB cable, which could easily carry that voltage and enough current to give a dangerous shock without breaking down. But I don't know if the metal body of a phone would be electrically connected to the charging circuit. Or maybe it could be isolated by a component that would break down under mains voltage. Either way a phone with exposed metalwork would be dangerous. Yet another reason to put your phone in a non-conductive case?
In the most likely scenario, the person grasping the phone would have to be earthed to receive a dangerous shock. For example by also touching anything metal that was earthed, like a water tap or kitchen appliance or by standing on damp ground. There are a lot of possibilities. Touching the phone with one hand and earhing the other would be the most dangerous as the current would pass through the chest and affect the heart.
On a phone with no easily touched metal parts such a fault might not even be noticed, as it might still get charged.
Quite possibly it would need a combination of two faults to give a dangerous shock. With so many people using phones, a statistically rare combination of faults could easily happen in a few cases.
An elderly relative of mine was sent a remote electricity consumption monitor by her electricity company, and I installed it for her. She tried hard but couldn't understand the complex and hard to read display, and in the end put it in the bin. As her house is heated by electricity and has been insulated so far as possible, the only way she can save a significant amount of energy is to freeze so the whole thing was pointless anyway.
As far as I can see, people who are worried about saving energy already do it. What more information might do is stop them worrying unnecessarily about devices on standby and chargers, once they realise how little money these things are costing them.
Bluebox scanner says my Galaxy S2 is patched, but I find this very unlikely.
I think Google expects you to throw away any old devices that can't be upgraded to the latest version of the OS. Even if your phone/tab can be updated you could wait a year for this to happen as I have just done with Galaxy S2. In Android there seems to be no such thing as patches for security or bug fix. But then you get what you pay for.
I have a love-hate relationship with Android. It's great when it works and I can do all sorts of things, some that I couldn't do with an iPhone - but the more clever things I do the more likely it is that something will go wrong and make the phone unusable. And I don't mean rooting, just running apps from the Play Store.
not a standard reference. For example it still gives db as the only abbreviation for decibel (presumably based on the original 1929 quotation), although in scientific use only dB has been correct for at least 40 years.
When the OED chooses to add an entry or meaning, it shows that a group of experienced people think the word or meaning is going to be around for a while. Some people might think that's interesting, others couldn't care less. But if the OED is going to continue, it has to make these judgements, and if they can get a bit of publicity out of it, good luck to them. I'm very glad the OED continues to exist and for me having it at my fingertips is a major benefit of having a smartphone. I don't complain that it's not definitive, because I know that would be impossible.
The Guardian, Telegraph and Independent newspaper sites particularly annoy me because they don't show comments on the mobile view. Why do they want comments from people who are sitting at desks, but not from those on trains?
At least the Telegraph has a link to see the "full site" that works properly, and the Independent honours the user agent. The Guardian is a pain in the neck because it has different URLs for desktop and mobile, and seems determined to redirect me to the one I don't want.
Part of the problem is that some organisations don't want you to use the browser at all on your mobile, but are pushing annoying and intrusive apps that do stuff in the background all the time. They don't want the mobile browser experience to be too good.
Minor roads are invisible anyway on many systems as they are light grey on white. People have been complaining for years about this.
And who owns all these photos they're using?