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* Posts by John Savard

1271 posts • joined 18 Sep 2007

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Read The Gods of War for every tired cliche you never wanted to see in a sci fi book

John Savard
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More Wheels

Vehicles on Mars have extra wheels - sort of like beasts of burden on Mars having more legs. And "The Gods of Mars" was Burroughs' second Martian novel. But somehow I think it would be a stretch to see anything in common between this and Barsoom, except for being light-weight action-adventure.

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Would Apple godhead Steve Jobs have HATED the Watch?

John Savard
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Innovation

Well, Apple did innovate with this new watch. One can control it by turning the stem; it's shocking no other digital watch maker thought of it. However, a stem is awkward to grip; a digital watch ought instead to have a knob with the edge sticking out like a transistor radio instead - that wasn't practical for mechanical watches. Or has Apple's patent covered that?

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BBC Trust candidate defends licence fee, says evaders are CRIMINALS

John Savard
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Evil

The telly tax in Britain is a flat tax, and means that poor people can't afford to have a TV set, which, in countries without such a tax, is often their only means of entertainment. Plus, lately, the tax has been applied to computer equipment because it can be used to watch streaming video, which cripples the adoption of technology, and forces companies to intrusively monitor employees.

There should never have been a telly tax, just as the government should never have gotten in the business of collecting tithes for the Church of England.

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Intel's DDR4-friendly Xeon workhorses bolt for workstations, servers

John Savard
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Baker's Dozen

Eighteen cores. I like that; this means that units with 16 cores might be available (relatively) inexpensively. Although at present, the mass market apparently will have to be satisfied with a measly six cores, with eight cores only available to enthusiasts with deep pockets.

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Hawking: Higgs boson in a BIG particle punisher could DESTROY UNIVERSE

John Savard
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Optimism and Pessimism

A particle accelerator larger than the Earth is unlikely to be funded even in a positive economic climate, at least until technology advances. However, can you prove that some alien race hasn't already made this mistake? Something like "solanite" from Plan 9 from Outer Space.

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Limits to Growth is a pile of steaming doggy-doo based on total cobblers

John Savard
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Re: Watch the Funny Man!

We're not all going to die at once, together with our descendants. That's what was meant.

It certainly is true that just because the Club of Rome made a right bosh of it that we're entitled to assume we have nothing to worry about simply because it's too hard to figure out how much in the way of mineral resources we really do have.

It is true that making use of mineral resources isn't as easy as it once was; this is why people are looking for minerals in places like Africa instead of just getting them from easy places closer to home. And there is a problem with some forms of energy; we're having problems figuring out how to make cars work just as well as they did with gasoline by using electricity instead. And even using thorium breeder reactors for electricity, we might eventually run out sooner than we would if we had fusion power, which we don't.

So it's not true we have no problem at all, although the problem is vastly smaller than the Club of Rome seemed to think. As far as running out of stuff is concerned.

But what about growing food? Increasing land area through artificially-lighted multi-storey greenhouses will be much more expensive than just using arable land that is just sitting there. At seven billion people in the world, and assuming we want them all to have a decent diet (i.e. the same as enjoyed in North America or western Europe), we've already crashed into a limit.

The problem of feeding the entire existing human population is not as trivially solvable as the problem of ensuring that the goldfish in one aquarium are fed; the resources available to humanity are not essentially infinite, vastly in excess of any reasonable needs. We should already be thinking of that as a problem, and be working on the technologies needed to fix it.

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The Schmidt hits the clan: Google chief mauls publishers' 'abuse of dominance' claims

John Savard
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Gateway to the Internet

The "Gateway to the Internet" is exactly what Google is for many people - simply because it has done its job as a search engine so well.

I remember the days when I used the book "The Internet Yellow Pages" and AltaVista to find things. I still keep a lot of bookmarks in my browser so I don't have to Google whenever I go on the Internet. But Google is indeed how I usually find anything new, using other search engines only a tiny fraction of the time.

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Jony Ive: Apple iWatch will SCREW UP Switzerland's economy

John Savard
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COSC Quartz Chronometers

Well, from Googling some things I saw in this thread, I've learned that COSC has a more stringent requirement for quartz crystal watches that it certifies as chronometers - and a French company, Girard-Perregaux, makes most of the watches sold in that category.

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John Savard
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One moment...

Rolex just might be in danger anyways. Rolex is not in danger from Timex because, in addition to showing you are wealthy, Rolex watches also tell the time.

But that's all they do. Whereas a smartwatch does other things in addition to telling the time.

At the moment, a smartwatch is a new product category; it's not something everyone feels they need to have, so it doesn't do things that are essential. But that might change.

At that point - when there are smartwatches out there for $29.95 instead of $299 and up - Rolex might have to make a $10,000 smartwatch instead of a $10,000 watch watch just to stay in the game at all; people don't buy luxury goods to look as though they have more money than sense.

So, yes, Rolex isn't in immediate danger (and the "neptune", which isn't tethered to a smartphone, might be more of a menace than Apple's iWatch) but it does have to look over its shoulder and make plans of some sort.

Eventually, a watch with GPS built in and a rubidium oscillator as well to keep its workhorse quartz crystal calibrated, plus full smartphone capabilities (hey, how about being able to sign up for Iridium with it) might be what some of the wealthy will spring for...

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Work in the tech industry? The Ukraine WAR is coming to YOU

John Savard
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Re: Sanctions

Cuba and North Korea are hardly examples of countries with strong economies. The sanctions against them have limited their military capabilities - although, in the case of North Korea, not enough to stop them from being a threat to South Korea.

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John Savard
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Re: Morals, ethics, principles...

I expect that you would put your own interests above those of other people. Which is quite legitimate when you are working hard and minding your own business. But that's not the same thing as having a license to bully other people or steal from them. Georgia and the Ukraine are sovereign states, and for Russia in any way shape or form whatever to use force to intimidate them from seeking, if they so choose, closer links to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization or the European Community is an act of aggression, analogous to the sort of behavior which would be criminally prosecuted if engaged in by a private individual in a civilized society.

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John Savard
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Re: Morals, ethics, principles...

Ossetia was part of Georgia. Georgia had adopted a hands-off policy towards that area, but a Georgian policeman was murdered by shots fired from there, which made it necessary for Georgian forces to investigate.

But this turned out to have been a staged provocation which Russia used as a pretext to annex that territory, with claims (that Russia itself admitted afterwards were false) of thousands of ethnic Russians being massacred by Georgians.

Unlike some people, when I read the news, I pay attention, and remember what I had read.

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John Savard
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Re: Morals, ethics, principles...

IBM disconnected itself from its German operations well before Pearl Harbor; the only thing it didn't do, because it couldn't, was physically haul its facilities out of the country. Since it couldn't get away with destroying them either, at least it didn't give them to Germany for free by abandoning them.

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John Savard
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Re: Country / company

If there was justice, Putin, whose choice to needlessly wage wars of aggression without any justification against Georgia and the Ukraine has resulted in one or more deaths in each of these countries would meet the same fate as Hideiki Tojo.

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Intel goes high-fashion with wearable supermodel

John Savard
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Oh, Dear

Couldn't they have gotten the obsidian from the conflict-free western Ukraine?

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VIA looks to be counting down to launch of Atom competitor

John Savard
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And then there were four

And doesn't IBM or Cyrix still hold a license too?

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The IT kit revolution's OVER, say beancounters - but how do they know?

John Savard
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What do beancounters know?

Well, while they may not be technology experts, they can still know the same things that everyone else knows. And it is a fact that over the last several years, computers haven't been improving as fast as they used to, which is why we have quad-core chips but not 10 GHz chips in our desktop computers.

Although it looks like that's set to go to six-core and eight-core chips thanks to Intel's latest generation.

And the excitement and sales have been in mobile devices, not desktop PCs; that, too, has received lots of publicity.

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Don't buy that phone! It ATTRACTS CRIMINALS, UK.gov will tell people

John Savard
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Facepalm

Groan

"They might use sophisticated devices to "grab" the security coding when the owner uses their key so they can use it themselves."

What, electronic car keys don't use a secure challenge-response protocol?

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iCloud fiasco: 100 FAMOUS WOMEN exposed NUDE online

John Savard
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Hostage crisis?

They've released pictures of 17 celebrities, but claim to have them of 100 celebrities. Are they going to release more pictures unless Hollywood stops... doing something? Or unless the government frees imprisoned hackers? Like ISIS is threatening to kill journalists one by one?

Maybe I'm reading too much into this. It could just be a bandwidth issue.

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HP: NORKS' cyber spying efforts actually a credible cyberthreat

John Savard
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GPS

How devilishly clever of the North Koreans to demonstrate their ability to jam GPS signals - or to test their ability to jam GPS signals - on South Korean ships during a military exercise. Not.

Now the U.S. knows they have this ability, and will be working on countermeasures, which will no doubt be ready in time for when such an ability might have proved actually useful.

Of course, possibly North Korea had an immediate tactical goal, such as trying to get one of those South Korean vessels to sail into their waters as a "provocation", or to be captured. Otherwise, it's the sort of shallow posturing that North Korea seems to have made its trademark.

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Facebook, Google and Instagram 'worse than drugs' says Miley Cyrus

John Savard
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Wow!

"The paper hypothesises that the many opinions found online can expose people to ideas that challenge their world view, make them feel less exceptional and, when opinions are strident or include hateful content, offend them."

Of course, this wording makes me suspect that El Reg is already making fun of the Italian group, since this sounds like (they're failing to realize that) what is really dangerous is living an overly sheltered life.

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Britain's housing crisis: What are we going to do about it?

John Savard
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The Missing Piece

Obviously what is proposed is only part of the solution.

Since letting people build desirable housing close to London cheaply will decrease the value of existing properties in the area, obviously the government will have to compensate those people who, in the past, paid inflated prices for their houses due to the artificial restrictions now being repealed.

That way, a government can solve the housing crisis without "losing the Home Counties for decades".

Of course, they will lose the votes of whoever the money to do this would have to come from.

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Feds salute plucky human ROBOT-FIGHTERS

John Savard
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Fond Memories

The title of this article brought back fond memories of the favorite comic book of my youth, Magnus: Robot Fighter 4000 A.D. - this was an American comic book, thus available in Canada. I don't know if the original Russ Manning art series was licensed by one of the British comic magazines, although I do know it also appeared in a German translation.

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Harvard boffins 'reverse-engineer' Chinese censorship

John Savard
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Independent Action

This is not surprising. In China, the Roman Catholic Church is not allowed to operate, but a state-controlled imitation of the Catholic Church is offered to religious believers. This is why they persecute Falun Gong, because it was not under state control.

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Experimental hypersonic SUPERMISSILE destroyed 4 SECONDS after US launched it

John Savard
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Re: Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site?

Well, Ronald Reagan brought about the collapse of the evil Soviet Union. Unfortunately, subsequent Presidents didn't work out a deal with Boris Yeltsin where the U.S. would inject cash into Russia to undo the collapse of its economy... in return for Russia giving up all its nuclear weapons,.

Then Vladimir Putin could have been dealt with in the same manner as Saddam Hussein - by regime change, and Georgia and the Ukraine would have been safe from aggression.

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John Savard
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Re: even a tomahawk can be loaded with a nuke.

About the only nuke one could put on a real tomahawk would be one using Americum - you can make a bullet-sized A-bomb with that. Of course, there's a cruise missile called a Tomahawk, and that certainly could have a nuclear payload.

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John Savard
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Re: Why?

Actually, they're mad at us because we keep Israel in existence. Which is a violation of God's eternal plan, under which the Jews should be under Muslim rule, so that, like Coptic Christians in Egypt, their daughters could be raped by members of the Muslim community without recourse at will. It is a violation of the Pact of Umar, the condition under which their lives were spared, to attempt to use this as an excuse for rebelling against Muslim rule.

Take a look at Boko Haram and the Christian girls it kidnapped in Nigeria, or Islamic State and the Yezidis.

So the U.S. is not, and never has been, the aggressor in this situation. Not even the Crusades were pure aggression, because Islamic forces attacked Europe decades before the First Crusade. (However, the Crusades were an unwarranted attack launched after peace had been achieved.)

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Hack skirmish grounded Sony exec's flight after FAKE bomb scare

John Savard
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Unbelievable

If these juvenile computer vandals don't realize how seriously this sort of thing is taken after 9/11 in the U.S., it is very doubtful that their l33t haX0r ski11Z are going to keep them from finding out soon enough. Particularly if they're foolish enough to try pulling even more stunts instead of calling it a day and covering their tracks for good.

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Intelligence blunder: You wanna be Australia's spyboss? No problem, just walk right in

John Savard
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If the Director General

If the Director General had been terminated for cause, all those people who just waved him in without checking against the computer... would presumably have been told by someone that the former Director General had been terminated with prejudice (if not the extreme kind) and was to be regarded as someone not to be let in!

Since no big alert went out that the Director General was no longer the Director General, what were they to think? Manual systems quite properly take precedence over computerized ones - otherwise, some hacker could make anyone he liked Director General of ASIS for at least a day.

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Ex-IBM CEO John Akers dies at 79

John Savard
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Without the IBM PC

Some 68000-based machine, perhaps an imitation Macintosh like the Atari ST or the Commodore Amiga, would have ended up the standard. Or an earlier command-line based machine, maybe even a CP/M derivative, would have done that.

The IBM PC had one thing going for it besides the IBM name; it made going to 16 bits inexpensive and safe. Somebody else would have done that, and the market would have coalesced in another direction. Maybe Motorola today would be where Intel is now, but micros would have eclipsed mainframes without the IBM PC, as the technology was growing at a great pace in any case.

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China hopes home-grown OS will oust Microsoft

John Savard
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Re: Laugh if you want

Well, it does seem to have happened at the National Research Council in Canada. I haven't heard about suspected Chinese government hacking at the CIA or the NSA, although I have seen news items about it at lots of other places.

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John Savard
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Re: Doom to failure

That actually would be a brilliant idea. But I doubt that it will happen.

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John Savard
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One Option

Android is open source, and it's based on Linux.

What about a modified Android that becomes a full copy of Linux once you click on an icon? So you can run safe walled-garden Android apps if you stay on the front page, but if you click the "desktop" icon then you get to use Ubuntu... or Red Flag Linux... or whatever.

As long as it doesn't leave China, Microsoft might not have luck suing for a violation of whatever patent they have on the Windows 8 design.

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AMD unveils 'single purpose' graphics card for PC gamers and NO ONE else

John Savard
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Not Certain

It's not certain that the statement means that the card can't be used to help with calculations, but probably it does not have good double-precision performance.

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Weekend reads to tickle your intellectual palate: From Nazis to Invisibility

John Savard
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Agreed

It would have been nice for that book about the invisible to have at least some of the additional literary references you mention.

Simply because it is thin on recent science, though, I expect it would mention the modern efforts with metamaterials to make things invisible, at least (so far) through microwaves, since I rather suspect it's those recent news headlines which inspired the making of the book in the first place.

I can't fault it for focusing on microscopes instead of telescopes, however; if we can't see something because it's small, we may think of it as "invisible", but if we can't see something because it's far away, we don't think of it as invisible because we know we would be able to see it if we were there.

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Microsoft refuses to nip 'Windows 9' unzip lip slip

John Savard
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Underwhelmed

Somehow I can't get excited over Microsoft deciding it needs to slap a price tag on what should have been Windows 8.2, or, better yet, Windows 8.1 Service Pack 1.

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Rupert Murdoch says Google is worse than the NSA

John Savard
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Interesting

I'd be more concerned if Vladimir Putin said that Google was worse than the NSA. That could have consequences for people in Russia trying to find things on the Internet.

Had Rupert Murdoch said that Facebook was worse than the NSA, then one could have a rational debate; the NSA eavesdrops on people who haven't first entered into a contractual agreement with the NSA, for example.

It's true Google is more ubiquitous than Facebook, but so far they only appear to be keeping track of our search habits to serve us advertisements. Of course, the NSA does absolutely nothing with data on most of us, so in one sense Rupert Murdoch is quite right.

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Take the shame: Microsofties ADMIT to playing Internet Explorer name-change game

John Savard
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Condition

It's all right with me if Microsoft brings out another browser with a new name.

Just start from a whole new code base, and omit the ActiveX support. Then calling it by a different name can legitimately be seen as not being an attempt to hoodwink the consumer.

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Orwell chap snaps in Amazon paperback claptrap yap rap

John Savard
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Lower Prices

It certainly will be a good thing when natural market forces lead to a lower price for e-books.

However, for Amazon to object to traditional publishers colluding to resist its demands to sell their product to it at a price it decrees, even if it has the antitrust law on its side, to me seems morally suspect, as it is using its own massive market power to get publishers to capitulate.

The proper function of antitrust law is to eliminate the role of market power in the playing field. If Amazon can impose terms on publishers, it should be broken up into five competing companies or something like that.

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The internet just BROKE under its own weight – we explain how

John Savard
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Problems Yesterday

Yesterday, I noticed that for some time I could not access Typophile or the webcomic Atomic Laundromat, but other sites worked properly. I don't know if that was due to this routing bottleneck or not.

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EE network whacked by 'PDP authentication failure' blunder

John Savard
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Re: PDP

Ah. When I saw that acronym, the first thing I thought of was the Digital Equipment Corporation Programmed Data Processor-8. The second thing I thought of was a spelling error for Pretty Good Privacy.

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Govt control? Hah! It's IMPOSSIBLE to have a successful command economy

John Savard
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Re: yeah but what about the jobs...?

If one looks at the history of the Industrial Revolution, one will see that the Luddites weren't so wrong. The introduction of machinery made ordinary working people poorer, and factory owners richer, because the value of labor, hence the ability of laborers to bargain and demand goods was reduced. Technology is good, because it improves the ability of humanity as a whole to produce more with less effort, but who can actually get what is produced is not something that can just be ignored or dismissed.

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eBay bans CD sales of metal band Burzum, citing offensive material

John Savard
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Language

Given the language in which Burzum means "darkness", clearly eBay was worried about being sued by the Tolkien estate!

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John Savard
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Re: I don't get the complaints about Mien Kampf

It is indeed true that there are lots of people out there who are childish and immature, filled with frustrations, and heedless of the sufferings of others - so what counts is not preventing the existence of such people, but making sure they cannot take the helm of a whole country, and lead it into aggression.

Now, we have Vladimir Putin and Russia to study, in addition to Hitler and Germany. Lenin and Mao, on the other hand, gained control of their respective countries in rather simple and obvious ways.

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US cyber-army's cyber-warriors 'cyber-humiliated by cyber-civvies in cyber-games'

John Savard
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What the world needs is a good operating system with no vulnerabilities and no exploits.

There's that provably correct microkernel that just got released into open-source recently; perhaps it's a start...

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Simian selfie stupidity: Macaque snap sparks Wikipedia copyright row

John Savard
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Wikipedia is Wrong

I think that Wikipedia's position is mistaken. Copyright law isn't like patent law, so just providing the camera is enough to own the copyright on an image. The macaque would have to be a human who didn't sign a work made for hire contract to shake that up. Anyways, Wikipedia can't afford to waste money on lawyers, and this is not a copyright issue of a sort that affects Internet freedom.

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African samba queen: Don't cut off pirates' net connections – cut off their FINGERS

John Savard
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Right in the same country!

Aside from the 490 scammers, there's something truly abominable there - Boko Haram.

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Hacker crew nicks '1.2 billion passwords' – but WHERE did they all come from?

John Savard
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Joke

"Audited" the Internet?

But they didn't check the expense claims of the Internet. Let's see now, what other meanings does the word "Audit" have?

Ah - they've cleared the Internet of its engrams!

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Plug and PREY: Hackers reprogram USB drives to silently infect PCs

John Savard
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I don't recall my computer, when connected to the Internet, and with a flash drive plugged into a USB port, ever telling me that it wants to download an update for the software in the flash drive's controller. So it seems that there's no legitimate reason for the firmware on these drives to remain programmable once they leave the factory.

That ought to be a cure that is implementable at trivial cost.

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Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source

John Savard
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In addition to proving the C source code correct, they've also proved compiled versions of the microkernel correct for a limited number of architectures - the x86 and ARM. So the fact that GCC might have bugs in it has been dealt with, at least for the most common systems.

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