* Posts by Ian Johnston

648 posts • joined 28 Sep 2007

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Brit transport pundit Christian Wolmar on why the driverless car is on a 'road to nowhere'

Ian Johnston

Re: Daft

What? Anytime I'm in a traffic jam I'm reminded of just how stupid we all are. Drivers will do lots of very dangerous things just to get one car ahead.

The fact that some drivers do silly things does not change the fact that most drivers can deal with tricky situations safely if not optimally. See Exhibition Road for an example, or any crossroads.

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Ian Johnston

Re: And of course the moral issue...

Is this an evidence-based generalisation?

Yes. Look at any group of bikers by a pub or cafe and you'll see that most of them, are wrinklies. The days when motorbikes offered cheap transport to the young are long gone - now they are overwhelmingly hobbies for retired accountants.

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Ian Johnston

Re: Trains..

The London Docklands Light Railway (and other similar systems elsewhere) runs pretty well without drivers, and that's not new technology.

It works, but it has a completely segregated track, a centralised signalling system and on-board staff who have to take over on a small but significant number of journeys.

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Ian Johnston

Re: They will never work in an urban environment.

I kid you not, just yesterday, a Audi twat mobile (you know the things, similar in size to a double decker bus) actually stopped when faced with a large puddle and waited for me to pass, so they could go round it

A couple of years ago I encountered one of these things on a single track rural road near my house. The driver clearly would not contemplate the possibility of putting a wheel on the verge (which on her side was grassy and clear) and instead expected me to drive off the road on my side ... which, thanks to a ditch, was not going to happen. So I just waited. And waited. Finally, when I switched my engine off, opened a paper and started doing the crossword she got the hint and drove the two feet to the side which made passing possible.

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Ian Johnston

Re: They will never work in an urban environment.

You're assuming there's no human in the car. Seems to me that's not a safe assumption.

There may well be a human in the car, but if the human is not driving the car there is no scope for the delicate non-verbal negotiation which goes on when, say, we want to cross a road and a car slows (or doesn't) to let us do so.

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Ian Johnston

Re: Daft

(1) Human drivers can negotiate their way through crowded spaces using a wide range of subtle social cues. There is no sign of AI being able to do that.

(2) No, it shows that you either need constant human input or no human input ever. In this case the car couldn't drive itself, asked for help which wasn't forthcoming ... and then, rather than simply slow to a halt at the side of the road, chose instead to continue trying to drive.

(3) Since it is clear that nobody knows enough about it actually to make it happen, the field is open.

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Ian Johnston

Re: And of course the moral issue...

Kill the motorcyclist. He's at least seventy years old.

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Ian Johnston

I'm looking forward to playing with platoons of HGVs. They'll obviously have to let cars driven with enough determination into the gaps, and once I'm there I can just slow down and leave the lorries behind me stranded without a driver,

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Ian Johnston

Re: It appears from the article that Mr. Wolmar is a railway enthusiast...

I live in Edinburgh, where there is a well established City Car Club. And yet, only a tiny fraction of inhabitants are members and many of those who are use it as cheap access to a second car.

There is absolutely no need to pay £20k for a car. Those who do so will not be satisfied with something shared.

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Ian Johnston

Re: They will never work in an urban environment.

People are in general a lot more reluctant to interact negatively with other humans than with robots. Holding up a human-driven car for fun invites an awkward interpersonal interaction whereas holding up a robot car would be like swearing at the self-service till in Tescos; everyone does it, nobody feels bad about it.

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How's this for a stocking filler next year? El Reg catches up with Gemini

Ian Johnston

Oh look. Someone has rediscovered the Nokia Communicator.

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Ubuntu 17.10 pulled: Linux OS knackers laptop BIOSes, Intel kernel driver fingered

Ian Johnston

Re: Accidental Aardvark

"Better still, one that can self-boot and doesn't need any installed OS."

I have a clutch of Lenovo Desktops and Laptops. For all of them, BIOS flashing tools are available as Windows software and as self-boot.Of course that's not much use if a rogue OS has prevented USB boot ...

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Stealth, lightweight Android breaks cover

Ian Johnston

How do you dust-proof an operating system?

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HMS Queen Elizabeth has sprung a leak and everyone's all a-tizzy

Ian Johnston

"That's 10 weeks of Brexit savings."

Maybe, but that money is all going to the NHS. Boris said so.

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One more credit insurer abandons Maplin Electronics

Ian Johnston

I'm on the Maplin email list and they are getting increasingly desperate. Today's offer is a £5 voucher if I spent £10 before Sunday. That's company willing to do anything to get cashflow. I doubt they'll see February.

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Ex-cop who 'kept private copies of data' fingers Cabinet Office minister in pr0nz at work claims

Ian Johnston

Re: The issue I have with this

MPS are not-unsackable. They can be expelled if sentence to more than a year in prison. Representation of the People Act 1981.

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Ian Johnston

Re: The issue I have with this

You have completely misunderstood what is meant by "parliament cannot be bound". It doesn't mean that MPs can do what they want individually; it means that any act of parliament can be undone by a later parliament.

MPs are just as subject to the law as the rest of us, with the exception of being immune to defamation charges for things they say within the house. You will recall that Chris Huhne was an MP when he was arrested, charged and brought to trial.

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Watchkeeper drones cost taxpayers £1bn

Ian Johnston

I wonder whether Thales would have made more on the deal if their product worked?

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Accused hacker Lauri Love's extradition appeal begins

Ian Johnston

Re: I am an Aspie. I don't hack stuff and then cry like a baby.

"Everyone with an ASD is different and the way you see the world is different from the way someone else with Asperger's sees it."

Which really just goes to show what a meaningless portmanteau diagnosis it is. Only psychology does this. You don't get real doctors saying "You have Mulligan's Disease. This may mean that you have a skin rash, or maybe six fingers on one hand, or maybe cancer of the liver, or perhaps you're colour blind. Mulligan's presents differently in every patient"

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New UK aircraft carrier to be commissioned on Pearl Harbor anniversary

Ian Johnston

Enough already with the wussy names. What tinpot dictation is going to be bothered by "Prince of Wales" or "Queen Elizabeth" appearing overt he horizon. Doesn't sound as if there is anything worse on its way than a plaque unveiling or a spot of tea.

When "Warspite", or "Revenge" turned up, you knew you were in trouble.

Also, and I right in thinking that we currently own three F-35s, of which one does airshows and two are still in the US while desperate attempts go on to make them usable?

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Help desk declared code PEBCAK and therefore refused to help!

Ian Johnston

Re: Early symptom of the demise of $BIGCO?

It's a reflection on the uselessness of telephone system design that nobody ever says "I'll transfer you". They always say "I'll try to transfer you".

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OK, we admit it. Under the hood, the iPhone X is a feat of engineering

Ian Johnston

Re: Feat of engineering

I can do all these things with my sixty quid Lenovo (branded Medion) phone from Aldi. When benefits would I get from paying sixteen times as much?

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Scouse marketing scamps scalped £70k for 100,000+ nuisance calls

Ian Johnston

Re: Unicorn hunt

My local hospital uses automated calls as appointment reminders. They ring about a week in advance and you get to do a few "1" button pushes if you will still be attending.

Your local hospital reveals the fact that people have appointments with them to unverified third parties? Someone's going to have their arse handed to them on a DPA plate ...

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Essex drone snapper dealt with by police for steamy train photos

Ian Johnston

Re: New Steam Engines

Plenty of narrow gauge steam locomotive have been built this century as well. The "decades of public fundraising" claim is bit dodgy too, since work started four years after fundraising began and was finished fifteen years after that. Oh, and the single biggest component - the boiler - was built in Germany.

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Lenovo spits out retro ThinkPads for iconic laptop's 25th birthday

Ian Johnston

Re: I was a devoted ThinkPad user for many, many years...

I love nipple mice so much that all three of my desktop machines have IBM Spacesaver keyboards, which include a nipple. Not a separate mouse in sight.

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Ex-Harrods IT man cleared of stealing company issued laptop

Ian Johnston

"then this is a huge breach of privacy, and also illegal."

Someone goes into a computer repair place and asks them to get into a computer which displays the logo of a well-known company on startup. The repair places calls the company and says "is this legit"? What "huge breach of privacy" do you think has been committed? What law do you think has been broken?

A couple of weeks ago I bought an audiobook on eBay. When it arrived, it had a library bar code on it and nothing to say it had been withdrawn. I contacted the library to ask if they wanted it back. Was I committing a huge breach of privacy? Was I breaking the law?

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Musk: Come ride my Big F**king Rocket to Mars

Ian Johnston

Re: Musk has done good stuff with SpaceX, but...

It doesn't work. No reputable tests have ever found an effect.

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Ian Johnston

Re: Musk has done good stuff with SpaceX, but...

EMdrive is rather less likely to be the future than something which actually works. Still, perhaps it can be powered with cold fusion and run on polywater, though it might need some serious N-ray shielding.

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WannaCry-slayer Marcus Hutchins 'built Kronos banking trojan' – FBI

Ian Johnston

Re: Also Wannacry?

"He's a security consultant"

With qualifications and clients and professional indemnity insurance Or is he a "consultant" like every dopey sloane with a camera is a "photographer"?

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US laptops-on-planes ban may extend to flights from ALL nations

Ian Johnston

Re: secure storage

Absolutely. I am writing this near Lockerbie ...

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Farewell Unity, you challenged desktop Linux. Oh well, here's Ubuntu 17.04

Ian Johnston

Re: The screenshot in the article says it all for me

Because we're all old enough to remember when no one quite knew what to do with microcomputers, and "storing recipes" somehow always ended up on the list.

A bit like the way that we are always told the point of smart appliances is to allow the fridge to order milk when you need it.

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Ian Johnston

Re: Re "Files" speed

Raspbian uses LXDE, you can use that too on your Ubuntu box.

With remarkable ease, if you use Lubuntu.

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Ian Johnston

Re: Lost: One brown and orange mojo

The distro had become the dominant Linux desktop by some distance when Unity was released.

Yup, and Unity blew it. They might as well have called 11.04 "Ubuntu Vista"

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NASA honors Apollo 1 crew 50 years after deadly launchpad fire

Ian Johnston

Re: The agency is recognized the world over as the most careful and risk-averse space agency.

The N1 blew up three times, killing nobody. It killed nobody because they were sensibly doing unmanned test launches. NASA put the Saturn V into human-carrying service despite unresolved and potentially lethal issues in unmanned testing, for political reasons.

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Virgin Galactic and Boom unveil Concorde 2.0 tester to restart supersonic travel

Ian Johnston

Re: Interesting ...

"When any aircraft passes the critical mach for its rated airframe, the centre of pressure shifts rearwards."

You're using some random buzzword generator, aren't you?

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Mac book, whoa! Apple unveils $300 design tome

Ian Johnston

I hope they have chosen semen proof paper.

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Google DeepMind 'learns' the London Underground map to find best route

Ian Johnston

DNCs won't help commuters yet, as the size of the memory matrix has to be scaled up massively for it calculate the best routes for longer journeys.

I just spent fifty quid on a small computer which can find am optimum route between any two street addresses in Western Europe in about ten seconds, tops. Now, explain to me why I should be impressed by a system that can only cope with a small subsection of the London underground,

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All roads lead to Rome as Irish seminary gripped by Grindr scandal

Ian Johnston

But he told me that he himself had been told about the Bishop who apparently said "Forty percent of my priests sleep with their housekeepers. Forty percent are homosexuals. It's the other 20% keep me awake at night."

Insatiable, were they?

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Hack probing poodle sacrifice cuffed for public crap

Ian Johnston

Re: He's lucky

And there are some where you'd go on to win the London marathon.

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'Impossible' EmDrive flying saucer thruster may herald new theory of inertia

Ian Johnston

1) Trains would never work as you'd die from asphyxia

2) Cars would never replace the horse and cart

3) Man would never fly

4) That polywater was an illusion

5) That N-rays didn't exist

6) That cold fusion was somewhere between scam and delusion

7) That homeopathic treatments don't work for AIDS

8) That Tesla's wireless power distribution system was too lossy to be practical

And so on. Remember, they also laughed at Bozo the clown.

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Ian Johnston

Re: The real universe doesnt care

Actually, it's the shape it is. The EGM96 coefficients are only an approximation which, for example, miss out both Snowdon and the Thames Estuary.

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Ian Johnston

Re: I don't believe this has an exhaust. That's what all the excitement is about.

Cold fusion produced plenty of reproducible effects, all of which turned out to be bogus. The effects of the EmDrive are not reproducible: every group to try it gets different ones, mostly within experimental error, and effects within experimental error aren't affects at all.

Have you done any experimental physics? If so, you'll know that measuring anything at the very limits of detection is problematic and prone to unexpected errors. In my case, by the way, it was trying to detect milliwatts by liquid helium calorimetry.

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Stop using USB sticks to move kids' data, auditor tells Education Dept

Ian Johnston

Re: Stop leaving spare USB ports active on machines that handle sensitive data.

That's fine, if you're supplying machine for battery hens in call centres to use. Completely useless in a professional setting, like a school.

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FBI backs down against Apple: Feds may be able to crack killer's iPhone without iGiant's help

Ian Johnston

Translation: the FBI know they are going to lose, so they are trying to scare people away from Apple and onto more crackable platforms.

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Flying Scotsman attacked by drone

Ian Johnston

Re: It's science!

There are no significant compressibllity effects until you reach M0.5 and even then they are slight. At the speed of a falling water column air is, for all practical purposes, incompressible.

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Ian Johnston

Re: It's science!

Your explanation of the Bernouilli effect is complete cobblers. Why on earth would fluid not want to be separated? Symmetrical aerofoils are often used, and they have exactly the same bath lengths above and below them.

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'You've been hacked, pay up' ... Ransomware forces your PC to read out a hostage note

Ian Johnston

Re: "Eastern Europeans go free"

My Czech friends are most insistent that their country is in Central Europe (civilised), not Eastern Europe (barbaric).

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Yelp-for-people app Peeple is back – so we rated Julia, its cofounder

Ian Johnston

Re: Rupert Murdoch

I believe the original Mrs Merton question was "So, Debbie McGee, what first attracted you to short, balding millionaire Paul Daniels?"

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Intel and Micron's XPoint: Is it PCM? We think it is

Ian Johnston

Re: Simple Enough

Many materials have more than one solid phase.

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Loons in balloons: Google asks FCC to approve Net plan

Ian Johnston

Blow, blow thou winter wind

How are these things suppose to deal with wind? Do they launch a succession of them and let them drift?

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