* Posts by John Savard

1450 posts • joined 18 Sep 2007

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Google to French data cops: Dot-com RTBF? Baiser ma DERRIERE

John Savard
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Re: Better translation

Unlike "derriere" vs. "cul", I missed this problematic aspect of the translation.

This reminds me of the scene from "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" where Frenchmen atop a castle wall try to swear at King Arthur and his men with hilarious results - apparently, trying to translate swearing in the other direction has the same result.

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John Savard
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Re: "[..] it is not the law globally"

The point is that providing a free search engine to the people of the world... costs a lot of money. Google's investors want that money back, and so Google monetizes its services through things like advertising. French courts certainly can block the ability of Google to sell things to paying customers in France - as long as it does business in France, it is subject to French law.

This can be a problem for businesses with worldwide operations, as each country has its own laws. And so usually countries seek to minimize the extraterritorial impact of their laws to avoid creating insuperable problems for worldwide utilities as useful as Google. Thus, the complaint is that France isn't being reasonable, not so much that it isn't within its rights.

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John Savard
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Re: And so the FAIL continues

It certainly is true that newspapers probably would be able to mount an impressive case in court - since jurisdictions in the EU also respect free speech rights - against having to delete old news from their database. Although British libel law does categorize defamatory statements that are true, but nobody else's business, as libelous, unlike U.S. libel law.

If this kind of stuff is taken off of Google, though, it becomes effectively impossible to find.

Unless people can find it on Baidu or Yandex... I'm assuming that the European courts haven't forgotten about Bing, for example, but there are search engines in jurisdictions with fewer ties with Western Europe than the United States.

As for blocking Google.com from Europe - I have to admit that's easy enough for Google to do, so they can't really complain that Europe should have to build its own Great Firewall at its own expense. Of course, preventing Europeans from using U.S.-hosted VPNs is something Europe would have to do itself, if it wanted to go there.

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John Savard
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Re: Better translation

I was going to say that "cul" instead of "derriere" is the rude word in French, equivalent to "arse" instead of "behind", but I see someone beat me to it.

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Fed-up Colorado man takes 9mm PISTOL to vexing Dell PC

John Savard
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Re: "Who said anything about faith? He was selling the stuff, not believing in it."

I just hope that not one new pence of that 200,000 pounds came from Simon Singh, but instead it all came from the British Chiropractic Association. Otherwise, there could be a chilling effect on physicians, skeptics, and others who seek to inform the public about dangerous quackery.

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John Savard
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Re: Come on guys

Yes. A computer costs far too much money to be reckless with it like that. I don't have money to waste by destroying valuable items in a fit of temper. So I tend to be very suspicious of people who demonstrate that they do have a high capacity to go into destructive rages.

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So, was it really the Commies that caused the early 20th Century inequality collapse?

John Savard
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Why Booms After Every War?

Actually, if one goes back in history, the World War II postwar boom was preceded not just by the Roaring Twenties, but by a historical pattern that people were noticing (the nuclear stalemate of the Cold War finally ended it).

An economic boom is ended by excessive speculation - the bubble collapses. People are left out of work, but the government isn't going to massively intervene in the economy to end the human misery - that sort of thing just isn't done.

And then a war starts. Well, that's national survival for you, so of course deficit financing is now permissible. And so what was impossible before becomes possible now - people are put to work.

The war ends. Now the economy is humming, but its products can be put towards the service of real human needs. An economic boom.

Keynes wasn't the only one to suggest getting out of this circle. Unrestrained free enterprise is not capable of producing an economy with no crashes ever and full employment always - that takes a hand at the switch ready to limit or remedy the potential damage of excessive speculation. As ordinary working men far outnumber businessmen, in a democracy it is their economic interests that should be jealously safeguarded by the government.

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Perhaps the AIpocalypse ISN'T imminent – if Google Translate is anything to go by, that is

John Savard
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Dog Food

I was confused by the title of the article, but I eventually realized that it was about the AIpocalypse (starting with A.I. for Artificial Intelligence) and not the Alpocalypse - Alpo being a well-known American brand of dog food.

So you don't need Google Translate to cause confusion. A sans-serif typeface is enough to achieve that all by itself.

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John Savard
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Well, while Transylvania is in Romania, that guy Dracula (at least according to Bram Stoker's novel) was a member of the dominant group of people around there at the time who trampled on the Romanians (then called Wallachians). So it's only fair the Hungarians get the blame for the vampire shenanigans instead of the Romanians, even if it's a pity the Romanians don't get their share of the tourist business.

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New low for humanity: ONE BEELLION lost souls log on to Facebook in one day

John Savard
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As It Is Performing a Service

rather than telling me what to do, shouldn't it be called Q instead of M?

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Blueprints revealed: Oracle crams Sparc M7 and InfiniBand into cheaper 'Sonoma' chips

John Savard
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What I Think Is the Big Question

When they say "low cost", is that low compared to mainstream Intel Core i7 chips - or low compared to the cost of the chips in IBM's latest z13 legacy mainframes - which is what Oracle, as a database company, is directly competing with?

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The good burghers of Palo Alto are entirely insane

John Savard
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Re: I'm shocked!

I've got nothing against that, just to clarify my original criticism.

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John Savard
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Free Market Consistency

If someone owns land in Palo Alto, then in a true free market system, of course he would be able to build on it. Preventing him from doing so is an act of interference in the free market system by the government. So the ability to build on land is not value created by the government of Palo Alto - it is value the city council has merely omitted to destroy.

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Belgium trolls France with bonkers new commemorative coin

John Savard
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Re: How about more annoying the French!

Dunkirk wasn't a victory, but it was a miracle worth celebrating; Britain managing to get the troops out alive. And that helped with the prosecution of the war too, since they lived to fight another day. Turning a rout into a retreat is a positive, not a negative.

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Why do driverless car makers have this insatiable need for speed?

John Savard
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No Mystery

Whoever is first to invent something that works gets to patent the technology that made it work.

The Macintosh didn't get so many people to adopt it that it became the majority platform instead of MS-DOS and its successor Windows. But Microsoft did have to pay it money to license some of its innovations.

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Mobile 'fault' forces BA flight into unscheduled Russian landing

John Savard
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Fortunately

there was no one on board the airplane who the Russian authorities wanted to arrest while the plane was on their soil.

Some kind of international agreement is needed to prevent this kind of problem arising, however. When there is an unscheduled emergency stop, airplanes and so on should enjoy the same status as an embassy of the country in which they are registered.

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Typewriters suck. Yet we're infinitely richer for those irritating machines

John Savard
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Re: Typewriter layout

Well, there is actual history about the original modern typewriter with that layout. And as far as I know, while the typewriter was protected by patents, other typewriter companies did not have to license the QWERTY layout, even if some preferred to stick with other arrangements like the Blickensderfer DHIATENSOR.

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John Savard
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Money and Happiness

Although the old saw says that "Money can't buy happiness", it's well known that a sufficiently severe lack of money virtually guarantees misery. However, happiness is not measured by the amount of fancy electronic toys one has.

For a man, the most critical single element in his life that determines whether he was a success or a failure is... does he have a woman in his bed.

Compared to the period 1948-1968 in Canada - with perhaps a later start in the UK and a later end in the US - the proportion of men who are married at different levels of income and education has declined. It's harder to get the kind of steady, reliable employment that allows one to start a family with confidence that one's children will not have to endure poverty at some point.

Technology hasn't changed the human sex ratio; however much certain material goods have increased in availability (housing, of course, has declined due to population growth) the most critical component of happiness has an intrinsic availability that is constant. And which shows why concern over relative poverty, as men compete to impress women, is valid and not simply an expression of greed and envy.

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Bruce Schneier: 'We're in early years of a cyber arms race'

John Savard
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I know what I would like to see.

Operating systems, like Microsoft Windows, coming out of the box, before any software updates, with no vulnerabilities whatsoever.

How can something so complex as a large operating system, with all the features they have now, be written without a single bug - or, rather, a single oversight, since this is not about programs failing to do what is expected with correct input, but about opportunities to exploit invalid input?

Especially given that checking all input for correctness makes programs a lot slower and more complicated.

New approaches are needed. I think security is not actually as difficult a problem as getting massively parallel computers to do as much useful work as a uniprocessor the same number of times faster as the number of processors running in parallel. But that could just mean it's extremely difficult instead of impossible.

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Boffins raise five-week-old fetal human brain in the lab for experimentation

John Savard
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Re: Do vat grown brains dream? @ Big John

Part of the reason that there is a negative stereotype of the pro-choice side of the abortion debate is the nature of the arguments that they sometimes advance. For example, one common argument is that right and wrong are social creations rather than pre-existing absolutes like the laws of mathematics. The trouble with that line of argument is that it works just as well for Negro slavery and the Holocaust. Also, they sometimes try to argue that people are defined by their relationships rather than their intrinsic properties.

On the other hand, we don't know for sure when the developing brain gains certain capabilities. Giving the benefit of the doubt to the fetus unconditionally, the common pro-life position, involves a lot of assumptions about human sexuality. And some in the pro-life camp are against forms of abortion that deal with embryos younger than 27 days - when not a single neuron has even differentiated from its precursor cells. Thinking is definitely not happening then.

Many in the pro-life camp appear more concerned about sex than life; and many in the pro-choice camp act as though they find the legitimate pro-life line of argument unintelligible.

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Android apps are flooding on to jailbroken Win10 phones

John Savard
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Java

But I thought that after J+ was found to be out of compliance, Microsoft couldn't use Java any more!

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Spain triumphs! Fascist anthem hails Spanish badminton champ

John Savard
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Not the First Time

Not very long ago, a victory by athletes of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea was greeted by the anthem of South Korea (The Republic of Korea). Sadly, it's all too easy to mess up this sort of thing.

I remember a friend who had trouble mailing a parcel to Botswana (the former British Bechuanaland) because he had it confused with the South African Bantustan of Bophuthatswana. And I had to find out that Burkina Faso used to be Upper Volta before I could find it on a map.

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Rambus decides to enter the semiconductor chip manufacturing game

John Savard
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Uh

If Rambus manufactures components that are compatible with current memory standards, won't they have to enter a patent cross-licensing pool? Which would mean that in return for being able to do that, makers of the current types of DDR memory that are alleged to use patented innovative technology from RAMBUS would be licensed to do so?

In my books, a "patent troll" is not a nonpractising entity, it's an entity trying to get royalties on an invalid patent - because the U.S. Patent Office is too overwhelmed to check if patents are "obvious to those skilled in the art", and has been for several decades now.

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Verisign sues Google's new love-interest .XYZ for a second time

John Savard
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Indeed, but better yet, the courts should simply throw out the suit at the earliest stage with prejudice so that the plaintiffs are spared having to pay lawyers in the first place.

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Would YOU make 400 people homeless for an extra $16m? Decision time in Silicon Valley

John Savard
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Fairness

I don't want to see people kicked out of their mobile homes, but I don't think one individual landowner should have to pay for this. The city of Palo Alto and the county of Santa Clara are governments that collect taxes. They can come up with the rest of the $55 million. It's their job to protect low-income people, not that of any one person.

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FAIL: Windows 10 bulk patch produces INFINITE CRASH LOOP

John Savard
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Unfortunately

It is very sad that this incident likely won't immediately cause Microsoft to abandon its ill-conceived decision to require all users of Windows 10, except for certain enterprise customers, to allow all Windows updates automatically and unconditionally. Microsoft still doesn't understand that things like this must never happen, that people expect their computers to be reliable.

It's also a pity that IBM doesn't see a market opportunity here. With its experience at making reliable computer systems like the z13, they have the knowledge and expertise to produce a computer that works properly for the home and small business market. (Yes, I know the mess we have now started out as the IBM PC, but IBM let Microsoft and Intel take over responsibility for it.)

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Intel left a fascinating security flaw in its chips for 16 years – here's how to exploit it

John Savard
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Re: a ha ha ha ha ha :(

I definitely don't like the idea of placing the reserved memory area for SMM at the end of the first 512 megabytes of memory. That means that the largest array one can use on one's computer is 512 megabytes smaller than all RAM available. Although I suppose the virtual memory hardware means that memory can look contiguous when it really isn't, so this only comes up if one is turning that off for maximum speed...

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Boffins have made optical transistors that can reach 4 TERAHERTZ

John Savard
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Just two things needed

They just need to do two things to be well on the road to making a faster microprocessor with this, actually.

First, actually produce a real switch of the type they believe should work this fast.

Second, also produce a switch which works as fast, but which has a carrier of 450nm and a control of 1300nm - the other way around to the one in the story.

Then optical logic circuitry would be entirely possible.

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Global cybercrime fraud boss ran secret pro-Moscow intel sorties

John Savard
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Maybe the article means Russia was selling airplanes to Syria.

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AIDS? Ebola? Nah – ELECTRO SMOG is our 'biggest problem', says Noel Edmonds

John Savard
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Only 2,693 pounds

Visited the web site of the people who make the EMPpad. A featured product was the Omnium1, a tablet with an extra-powerful battery, presumably to allow it to emit those electro-magnetic pulses that mimic the Earth's natural magnetic field. A steal at only £2,693.

So to enjoy its health benefits, I fear one truly has to have more money than sense... at both ends.

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John Savard
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Re: Is this a preview of a new series of Brass Eye?

Oh, dear. But then they've said that...

The Cake is a lie!

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What balls! India blocks 0.00008 per cent of web in anti-pr0n move

John Savard
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Creativity

So they're blocking porn sites using the authority given to them to block sites on grounds of national security. This could lead to legal challenges, among other things.

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Windows 10 marks the end of 'pay once, use forever' software

John Savard
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Not Too Nefarious

Since at present - or, rather, in the past - I have to pay for a new version of Windows to get a new version of Direct X, making these upgrades something one has to pay for would not represent a change to a more expensive pricing model for Windows. I'll admit that being forced to accept updates has me worried about something much worse - that we'll have to keep paying to have it run at all after a certain time - but the possibilities the article suggests don't sound like something to be afraid of or upset about.

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Open source Copyright Hub unveiled with '90+ projects' in the pipeline

John Savard
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Natural Right?

Copyright is a privilege, like letters patent, granted by the power of the government, because it wants to encourage people to create stuff. It is not a natural right, unlike the natural right not to have one's physical property stolen.

This distinction needs to be kept clear, so that when record companies or movie studios come to the government, and ask for new sweeping extensions of what copyright gives them, the politicians and the public clearly understand that they're free to say yes or no based on what is genuinely in the public interest; there is no 'natural right' for copyright owners to control their work essentially forever.

There is only the bargain the government made, and they accepted, that they control their work for a certain time in return for creating it. That's the right they have, that society keep its promise to them.

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Just ONE THOUSAND times BETTER than FLASH! Intel, Micron's amazing claim

John Savard
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Read the Fine Print

But it's only ten times denser than DRAM!

Actually, that's not a bad density - but it is significantly less dense than flash. So being less dense, and more expensive, per bit, it won't make flash memory totally obsolete. Although I like the fact that it will survive more write cycles.

It will be very useful, I agree.

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Hawking, Musk, Woz (and Riley): ROBOTS will KILL US ALL

John Savard
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Some Grounds for Worry, But...

While I wasn't very positively disposed to this call for action in the first place, and I defer to the expertise of the article writer as well, I can understand that a future where people could take the CPU out of a smartphone and use it to control a killer robot built from a Meccano set would give some people pause.

I guess the real question is: would specifically military development of killer robots bring that future closer to a greater extent than the ordinary improvement of computers for civilian purposes? Someone evil-minded could take bits and pieces developed for benign purposes and cobble together a deadly killer robot out of them once the available bits and pieces become good enough, I'd think.

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Happy birthday, Amiga: The 'other' home computer turns 30

John Savard
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Tis a Pity

That one can't go out today and buy a processor compatible with the 68020/68882 combination - but no doubt with a 64-bit mode - that matches the latest Pentiums in performance. This is bad for the Macintosh, since today's Macintosh computers can't run the software people purchased for their 128K Macs, and it's bad for competition in the microprocessor field in general.

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YOU! DEGRASSE! It's time to make Pluto a proper planet again, says NASA boffin

John Savard
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Wishing and Hoping

For sentimental reasons, I would very much like Pluto to be a planet, pure and simple, once again. However, that would mean that Eris would have to join it as a new planet in our Solar System.

And that's the problem, because there could be many other planets in the Kuiper Belt of comparable size. For a while, Ceres, Pallas, Juno, and Vesta were accepted as planets - but then it was clear this would be untenable, as the extent of the asteroid belt began to emerge. It appears that the same thing has repeated itself when it comes to KBOs.

Whether or not we like it, I think the IAU's decision makes sense and was the only one possible.

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Were the FIRST AMERICANS really FIRST? MYSTERY of vanished 'Population Y'

John Savard
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Lemurians

Obviously Churchward was right, and the people of Population Y are descendants from the ancient Lemurians, who colonized South America leaving the traces found by Le Plongeon!

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China reveals home-grown supercomputer chips after Intel x86 ban

John Savard
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Only in China, you say?

I thought I saw a statement, either in the article or the comments, to the effect that DSP chips only support 32-bit floating-point, so this new Chinese chip that is a DSP with double-precision floats is unique. However, a brief Google search turned up the Texas Instruments TMS320C674x series as a counterexample to that.

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Security world chuckles at Hacking Team’s 'virus torrent' squeals

John Savard
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There's been a later development in this story; they're now admitting that some real and useful source code was leaked - and so now the terrorists can use their sophisticated surveillance tools against us!

So they have taken up the challenge to pull the other leg, some will say.

But instead of mocking that claim, I think we would be better off if we took it very seriously indeed... and went to Microsoft and demanded that they fix Windows so nobody, not terrorists, not hackers, not private surveillance companies, not even major governments, would be able to find and exploit vulnerabilities in Windows - because they will have finally gotten it right, and it will not have any of those any more.

While still being an available and useful operating system, of course.

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Black and Latina boffins regularly mistaken for janitors, study finds

John Savard
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People should definitely recognize that in today's world, people belonging to minority groups are now able to achieve lofty goals, and have careers requiring good qualifications and so on. Of course, though, it's also still true that a lot of people belonging to minority groups are stuck as janitors and the like as well. So, given the odds, mistakes like that will continue to be made even in the absence of malice - until there is more opportunity and more equality.

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We tried using Windows 10 for real work and ... oh, the horror

John Savard
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Re: Let me get this right...

However, since there is just so much software out there that is written for Windows, and when you buy a program for Windows, there's no guarantee that it will run under WINE - I think Windows software makers feel that testing their programs under WINE, and putting a penguin on their boxes if it works there too would get Microsoft annoyed with them -

these past events have not been enough to get people to switch from Windows to Linux. After all, Windows is included "free" when you buy your computer.

Still, if this keeps on, people may end up switching to Linux, at least when they would otherwise feel the need to upgrade. (Hey, making the upgrade to Windows 10 free suddenly sounds like a great idea!)

The Microsoft monopoly can't go on forever, not if they keep going on like this. It may have only 50 years of life left.

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Dormant ALIEN SLIME LIFE frozen in SPEEDING comet will AWAKEN - boffins

John Savard
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Chandra Wickramasinghe is well-known as a supporter of Fred Hoyle's theories about panspermia, which have not yet won general acceptance in the scientific community. Thus, this news item is not likely to fill too many scientists with dread about the possibility of a looming plague. None the less, the Universe is a big place, and while contamination by alien life is unlikely to be a common thing, it's still a real possibility, so some degree of caution is reasonable.

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The Scientific Secrets of Doctor Who

John Savard
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They Do Have a Word for It

Not at all; it's a Greek word to begin with: it came from "Tα Oικονομικά", the title of a book by Aristotle.

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Get READY: Scientists set to make TIME STAND STILL tonight

John Savard
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Fortunately, We Know the Title Was Only a Joke

Otherwise I would have to severly take you to task for perpetuating the fallacy that leap seconds (or other similar things, like standard time zones) affect time itself, as opposed to the names by which we call certain intervals of time.

We used to get along without leap seconds quite well, by adjusting the length of the second of civil time instead. That would be more convenient, apparently, for computers and the Internet, so we should either go back to the old system or at least have it available as an alternative kind of Internet Time.

After all, we already have GPS time in addition to UTC.

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KRAKKOOM! SpaceX Falcon supply mission to ISS EXPLODES minutes after launch

John Savard
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Occasionally, the fermentation of cabbage to produce a popular Korean dish results in minor explosions... so I was expecting kimchi jokes here!

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Q: What's black and white and read all over? A: E-reader displays

John Savard
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A reflective color display that changes between black and alternating red, green, and blue pixels sounds like it will have low contrast. That may be one problem with color.

For a moment, I thought that maybe the answer is to have a two-layer display. One layer alternates between black and transparent, and below that is a layer of pixels that change between white and one of three colors. But that won't allow bright reds or yellows, even if it allows white, so instead three layers that alternate between transparent or a subtractive primary are what you need.

You can get away with one layer of red, green, and blue pixels on an LCD display by making the backlight much brighter than what you see when you look at a blank white screen. That doesn't work for reflected light.

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Hi-res audio folk to introduce new rules and weed out impure noises

John Savard
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The human ear is not a perfectly linear device. As a result, percussive sounds can be affected audibly by frequency components above the limit for human hearing of steady tones - because they will raise the maximum total amplitude of a transient, causing it to encounter additional distortion, among other reasons.

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Wake up, sheeple! If you ask Siri about 9/11 it will rat you out to the police!

John Savard
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No, it was because of events relating to Palestinians in Jordan, the same ones that led to a terrorist group naming itself "Black September".

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