* Posts by John H Woods

2482 posts • joined 14 Nov 2007

So long Vine, your six seconds of internet fame are over

John H Woods
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As W H Auden wrote in Musee des Beaux Arts ...

In Breughel's Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away

Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may

Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,

But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone

As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green

Water, and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen

Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,

Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.

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Rise of the photon clones: New method could lead to 'impenetrable' comms

John H Woods
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Re: One of the problems with quantum encryption ...

"A brother and sister have either 50% or 0% matching genes" -- AC

Not sure where you got that from but it is totally wrong. On average full sibs share 50% of their DNA, half sibs share 25%, full cousins share 12.5%. How on earth could full cousins have more genetic homology than full siblings?

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Paging 1994: Crap encryption still rife in devices

John H Woods
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Re: SMS?

Even if the content is effectively information free (and you might be surprised how much can be deduced by pattern analysis) you have the problem, without decent encryption, that you cannot be sure of the source of a message or that it is untampered.

If you want to attack a critical worker (or get to them by attacking their family) you could do worse than sending a bleary-eyed recipient a message demanding they attend location X immediately.

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Graduate recruitment site exposed 50,000 CVs sent to Virgin Media UK

John H Woods
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Re: Security Engineer?

Please... Tell us how you replied to that extraordinary piece of wibble

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Ageing GSM crypto cracked on commodity graphics rig

John H Woods
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"Moore's Law ensures that what is classed as "secure enough" today will not be secure enough in the future" -- Velv

I hear what you're saying, but the universe is finite and, more significantly, the time period for which cipher text has to remain safe is actually pretty short. I cannot see any conceivable way that a 256 bit keyspace can be exhaustively searched in a reasonable time (say, under a century) by conventional (non-quantum) computers. NB: I am absolutely not saying 256 bit ciphers cannot be broken.

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Parliamentarians ask Obama to withdraw Lauri Love extradition request

John H Woods
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Missed premise

I don't think anybody is arguing that certain crimes should go unpunished because of some circumstance of the perpetrator.

It is, however, very well established that sensitivity to such circumstances is an important part of sentencing. Given the lack of reassurance from the USA but they will adopt a similar approach, we need to assert the primacy of British law when it comes to British citizens. It is a little more of than an extension of the principle that we will not extradite to States where British citizens may be subjected to capital punishment... we should also resist extradition of our subject to legislatures where we do not have confidence that either the standard of the prosecution and/or the proportionality of the punishment match UK standards.

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Pacemaker maker St Jude faces new security flaw claims from biz short-selling its stock

John H Woods
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Re: Surely this is almost the definition of insider trading?

@pdh et al. I agree with what you are saying about having to normally establish the "insidership" of traders by virtue of direct relationships but there is a broader definition of insider trading under the heading of "misappropriation" e.g. Rule 10b5-1. I think it might be possible to make an argument that a penetration tester has, by virtue of testing products from a vendor, established an indirect or derivative duty to the corporation or its shareholders, even when it has no direct relationship with that vendor.

Furthermore, as it seems that MedSec approached a hedge fund, rather than simply individual MedSec employees doing their own private little shorts, they may have made it harder to prove that no-one acted "on the basis of material non-public information"

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John H Woods
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Surely this is almost the definition of insider trading?

Profiting from share movements in publicly listed companies by having access to non-public information ... isn't it?

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Despite best efforts, fewer and fewer women are working in tech

John H Woods
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the problem

Surely we would have more insight into this problem (if indeed it is a problem) by establishing why the gender imbalance exists. If it is because females don't want to do these sorts of careers, it doesn't matter --- not even if IT would be improved by having more females.

If there is inequality, real or perceived, let's address it. But simply analysing the numbers, even the trends in the numbers, is not going to give us the answers we need.

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Basic income after automation? That’s not how capitalism works

John H Woods
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Re: I'm not paid a lot

This is absolutely right. Opponents of the basic income seem to believe that people won't work at all. To me that's ridiculous: if that were true, capitalism wouldn't really work at all. People want more even poor people they are not some non-aspirational subspecies. I'm highly suspicious of highly paid people who say "pah, what's to stop me sitting on the sofa all day?" How about not being able to afford your Jaguar XKR?

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John H Woods
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The alternative ...

a) slow capital punishment by starvation or exposure for being too lazy to work

b) an army of people and machinery trying (and failing) to make sure no-one cheats the system.

To me, a basic income is a *highly capitalist* idea (and I like it). It enables the removal of vast amounts of red tape. You could ditch minimum wage, tax allowances, and probably a good deal of protectionism. We could also get rid of hundreds of thousands of public sector jobs which don't really contribute anything positive to the economy. The situation we have at the moment tho, where people who could do a few hours work per week just cannot do that in any legal fashion seems to me to be ridiculous. For the employees, every hour you worked would make you richer, and for the employers, the workforce would be much more flexible and mobile.

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Open-source storage that doesn't suck? Our man tries to break TrueNAS

John H Woods
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Is ZFS hard - or just a bit different?

I read up about it the other day and set up a little ubuntu 16 LTS server with a RaidZ2 4x2TB disk array to have a play with snapshots, deliberate disk destruction, etc. All seems rather straightforward, if a bit novel, and the evidence (frequently inadvertently posted here) would tend to point to me being no kind of genius.

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Conviction by computer: Ministry of Justice wants defendants to plead guilty online

John H Woods
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Automation....

... is usually a good thing but we should always bear in mind that it often works better for the bulk processor than the individual. Given that it is now perfectly possible to have a county court judgement entered against you without your knowledge (there is no requirement on the applicant to make any reasonable effort to find your current address or to send letters by recorded mail etc) for any amount over £1; that the Mere existence of such a CCJ may prevent you not just from getting a mortgage but even from renting a property; and that, according to a episode of Money Box (I think) on Radio 4 I heard recently, there may be tens or even hundreds of thousands of people affected by unknown CCJs, I think we ought to exercise some caution in welcoming these measures.

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FBI overpaid $999,900 to crack San Bernardino iPhone 5c password

John H Woods
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Fragile evidence...

IANALBIPOOTI and think that evidence obtained by cracking my client's device is clearly proof that its security can be bypassed. And, therefore, there must be at least the possibility that material could have been placed on the device (before it became protected evidence) by someone other than my client...

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EU ends anonymity and rules open Wi-Fi hotspots need passwords

John H Woods
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Does anyone who cares ...

... use public wifi without a VPN? I certainly would not. So how is this going to help catch anybody who is determined to do something wrong? It is already in the interests of public wifi providers not to allow a few users to suck all the bandwidth --- all you've got to do is ensure no-one gets more than about 2Mb/s. So how big, really, is the threat of wholesale copyright theft at public wifi hotspots?

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Encryption backdoors? It's an ongoing dialogue, say anti-terror bods

John H Woods
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Re: "It's an ongoing dialogue", say anti-terror bods...

Indeed. There are two type of people who demand safe backdoored encryption: people who don't understand encryption and people who are dishonest. There may be some overlap

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UK Science Museum will reconsider its 'sexist' brain quiz

John H Woods
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Obligatory sexist brain joke

Bright astrophysicist is referred to brain surgeon. He gives her the bad news: she has early onset dementia. She is understandably upset, and the surgeon, who is a bit of a shady character, says "look, I shouldn't tell you this, but there is a highly active market in second hand brains. I've got a contact..."

...

In the second hand brain shop....

"Well, my dear, we have this one: 1.30kg, female brain, some kind of business genius --- $10,000"

"Have you got anything more science-based?" she asks.

"Well, if you don't mind spending a bit more, we have this one, 1.31kg, female mathematician, $20,000"

"Hmm, good" she muses. "What if money's no object?"

"Ah", says the brain salesman, eyes lighting up "Well, in that case ..." and he opens a safe. "This is the brain of a male nuclear physicist. It is $50,000 for 1.4kg of brainpower"

"Wow" says our heroine, "why is it so expensive --- is it the extra 100 grams?"

"No, bless you my dear" says the salesman "It's a MALE brain ... it's hardly been used!"

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'What this video game needs is actual footage of real gruesome deaths'

John H Woods
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Re: To do anything else would be dishonest

Violas irritate everybody.

Why does a viola burn longer than a violin?

It's still in the case

But surely viola can be excused as a typographic transposition, the truly objectionable is "Wah Lah" and similar.

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John H Woods
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Re: To do anything else would be dishonest

That's where the parabolic bacon comes from!

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Tesla to stop killing drivers: Software update beamed to leccy cars

John H Woods
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Re: Mansfield bars

"I'm pretty sure that there are engineers in the USA that could solve the problem of the side protection bars on trucks grounding on rail crossings." --- werdsmith

Even hinged bars that could be manually swung up for crossing large humps would do the trick. The use of Mansfield bars is much wider than might be expected --- in multiple collisions vehicles can be pinged in all sorts of trajectories: it's usually better for nobody to end up underneath trailers.

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Self-stocking internet fridge faces a delivery come down

John H Woods
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Mine too:

"Hi, I've got some electronics to dispose of"

"Just chuck it in the skip marked scrap metal"

As far as WEEE goes, this seems to be more like taking it than complying with it.

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Airbag bug forces GM to recall 4.3m vehicles – but eh, how about those self-driving cars, huh?

John H Woods
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Re: Bah!

"Why is it that the more "smarts" that are built into working devices, the less reliable they become?" --- Stevie

Well, we know the answer to that --- the more code you have, the more bugs you have. What I don't understand is why the switch from test to armed has to be in software. Seems to me to be crying out for a hardware solution. It's not like a grenade pin --- the force / speed combination required to trigger a deployment is fairly substantial --- I'm not sure how realistic it is to subject a vehicle to a non-destructive test that would deploy the airbag once it is assembled.

Further info from someone who has a clue very welcome, I'm clearly missing something.

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Petulant Facebook claims it can't tell the difference between child abuse and war photography

John H Woods
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"What's interesting in this case is the multiple escalations finally to a correct answer took so long. Evidence of a company run by a Control Freak." ---- JeffyPoooh

I'm voting this insight of the week: the number of escalations required to reverse a stupid decision is inversely proportional to the intelligence of a corporation.

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You should install smart meters even if they're dumb, says flack

John H Woods
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Re: Haters gonna hate...

@Killing Time

I'm sure you are right that "accurate consumption information permits informed decisions and potentially, monetary savings" but you also say "I have far better uses for my money than to give it away when I don't have to"

Given the latter, you will have to make a net saving. A 20B project for 30M households is about 600-700 quid per meter. Most of the information to which you refer would be available from a cheap induction loop device.

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John H Woods
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Re: Massively beneficial ...

One is always tumble drying individual socks, even when they go into the laundry in pairs.

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Come in HTTP, your time is up: Google Chrome to shame leaky non-HTTPS sites from January

John H Woods
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Re: Internal sites

"What about all the internal home based web enabled things we have"

AFAIUI, you'll still be able to do that. You'll get a warning, that's all, which presumably you can override so it does not subsequently appear.

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Spoof an Ethernet adapter on USB, and you can sniff credentials from locked laptops

John H Woods
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So...

... the fantasy USB stick beloved of crime and spy dramas which can subvert a computer just by being shoved into a locked computer is actually real!

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Sex is bad for older men, and even worse when it's good

John H Woods
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Pillow talk...

Me: "Honey, fancy a shag?"

Mrs: "Hmm, I'm a bit tired."

Me: "Ok. Oh, I doubled my life insurance today, by the way."

Mrs: "Honey ... fancy a shag?"

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Hollywood offers Daniel Craig $150m to (slash wrists) play James Bond

John H Woods
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Re: Stephen Fry?

Hugh Laurie?

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BA check-in system checks out: Staff flung back to cruel '90s world of paper

John H Woods
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I am sure I cannot be the only person who has been somewhat aggrieved to hear this described as a "glitch" or, even less justifiably, a "blip."

Glitches happen. Whether they cause blips or major system downtime is, if not exclusively, usually a matter of "cost control."

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Nul points: PM May's post-Brexit EU immigration options

John H Woods
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Wrong question

People tell me that "much of the Leave campaign was based on immigration" but I have two problems with this: (1) the margin was not hugely in favour of Leave, so even if only 10% of Leave voters were not bothered about freedom of movement a victory for Leave does not imply a victory for restriction of movement; and (2), most importantly IT WAS NOT THE QUESTION which was put to the vote.

If "Brexit means Brexit" can be understood to mean anything useful it must mean that a vote to leave the EU must be translated into leaving the EU. How we leave the EU should now be decided by parliament or further referendums, depending on whether one favours representative or direct democracy. But it seems odd that a vote on one issue should be considered a mandate on another.

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Robot cars probably won't happen, sniffs US transport chief

John H Woods
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Re: Teleporting trucks

"If you are a person you can see far enough into it to make a decision that the lane is currently empty "

The number of places you can safely swerve is VERY limited: most drivers could only safely perform that manouvre if they were already preparing to safely overtake the vehicle in front.

Swerving to avoid hitting a pedestrian, cyclist or horse is probably acceptable. But you have to remember that most modern cars will keep you safe in a front-on impact at considerable speed. Even if your swerve is not endangering other road users, you may pose a greater risk to yourself by virtue of the fact that you are more likely to lose control of the car.

I swerved a 7.5 tonne horsebox to avoid hitting a lorry that had attempted to cross a main road in front of me and had stalled. This was firstly a defensive driving failure. I had seen the lorry stop at the junction to the road I was travelling down, and I assumed it would stay stopped. Then when I saw it moving I assumed it would safely cross in front of me. When it stalled, I braked as hard as I could given that there were valuable horses on board and was at about 20mph when I would have crashed; I swerved round at low speed, mounting the verge, and we were all safe. A self driving car would never have made this mistake as it would have assumed (as I now do) that a vehicle on the side of the road may pull in front of you at any time. And without horses on board, I could have easily stopped the vehicle in the distance I had. And, even if the distance had been a lot shorter, without horses on board, I wouldn't have swerved, either: I would hae just driven it into the side of the lorry at 20mph.

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John H Woods
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Re: Teleporting trucks

Sorry but "partially concealed driveways" just means that the visibility is too low for the road speed.

A sudden rockfall, a bridge collapsing in front of you M20 style, or a 400kg hay bale bursting through a fence because some idiots wondered if it would roll down the hill, yes that's an unavoidable problem, for human and robot alike, although the latter will always be able to react quicker.

Driveways, however, are not camouflaged. Even if the rare corner is completely blind, there is a speed at which it can be negotiated with near-zero lethality. Remember, metal is only metal --- driving into the back, side or even front of the truck that has mysteriously teleported into your field of view at 20mph is probably not going to kill anyone. In fact about most pedestrians could survive a hit at this speed.

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John H Woods
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Teleporting trucks

"My automated car is confronted by an 80,000 pound truck in my lane"

Trucks do not just appear out of thin air. The (single) rule is:

Always drive in a manner (allowing for the condition of the road, the vehicle and the driver) which allows you to stop the vehicle on your own side of the road in the distance you can see to be clear.

What would you do if you were a human in such a situation? You'd brake hard and hit the lorry as gently as you could. If you think that swerving, either into pedestrians, or into oncoming traffic, is even an option, I hope you won't be programming any car systems!

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Swedish Pokemon teens terrorised by laser-wielding 'sex pigs'

John H Woods
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Re: Some prick is shining lasers at teenagers playing a computer game?

Maybe he was downvoted by the manager to whom he referred?

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Air gap breached by disk drive noise

John H Woods
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Re: Security? What security?

"they go in different rooms, one of them preferably RF screened" -- AC

And I think there's probably a good argument for making sure they are on different power supplies. I haven't heard of any malware manipulating the power consumption of a server but I would think that you could probably transmit a low bit rate signal on this channel if you tried hard enough.

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US Politicians tell DEF CON it'll take Congress ages to sort out how to regulate crypto

John H Woods
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Re: Trust!

"Frankly, the greatest threat to modern civilization are a mob of stupid people with the vote." -- AC

Ochlocracy, a word I discovered listening to this interesting discussion about Xenophon

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If you use ‘smart’ Bluetooth locks, you're asking to be burgled

John H Woods
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I use a whitetooth packet sniffer for security

He's 40kg, and he will sniff your packet. Chances are he's friendly but do you want to risk it?

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Forget security training, it's never going to solve Layer 8 (aka people)

John H Woods
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Errm

It is maybe an unpopular, and certainly somewhat simplistic, view of mine that no software application should be exploitable by feeding it incorrect inputs. ok, you could click a link and see something horrendous, like a bad taste video, or a PowerPoint of your company's training policy but, in the end, you are just feeding input to a program. It seems to me that our apparent inability to create programs that are resistant to such input is the real issue we need to address, not the futile task of trying to persuade people to never click links or, even more unfeasibly, to never open attachments.

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HMRC's IR35 tweaks have 90% of UK's IT contractors up in arms

John H Woods
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Re: Why only IT?

Interesting point re: "because IT"... a quick noodle in Private Eye soon reveals very highly paid people earning money through single person companies by providing various consultancy services to national and local government. Maybe one should describe oneself "merely" as a professional services consultant and only discuss one's IT knowledge in the interview?

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Tesla spends $2.6bn on solar

John H Woods
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What is the point of this? You'd be hard pressed to get a couple of horsepower over the surface of a car in direct sunlight!

The only sensible way Musk could power Teslas using this technology is by harnessing his reusable vehicle to get them into space.

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EE roaming outage hits Brits basking abroad

John H Woods
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Shouldn't BT and EE rebrand as Beet?

Well if we're "still close to France" and we can be permitted a circumflex, bête might be more apposite.

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Microsoft adds useful feature to PowerPoint. Seriously

John H Woods
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Re: Still - and incredibly boring

+1 for the good ref. and link to Tufte; it's also worth checking out this hilarious PowerPoint version of the Gettysburg Address

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Gullible Essex Police are now using junk science lie detectors

John H Woods
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Re: "scanty and scientifically weak"

I have a memory of Jeremy Kyle saying that lie detectors are 95% accurate and then proceeding to test no fewer than 8 Suspects regarding who stole grandpa's savings or something.

My maths isn't what it was but it seems to me that you have a 1/3 chance of getting the wrong answer in such a scenario!

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Fear not, humanity – Saint Elon has finished part two of his world-saving 'master plan'

John H Woods
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Re: Reaching

I know Musk is famously anti space-based-solar, but I'm pretty sure this is what we have to work on long term. Nuclear should fill the gap until then.

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It's not our fault we don't hire black people, says Facebook

John H Woods
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Re: Not sure

what **IS** the official count and list of "genders"? --- Keith Glass

Four: Unknown, Male, Female, N/A (IEC 5218). Although you'd be amazed at the number of people in the healthcare IT sector who still think it's binary, forty years after this standard.

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Wannabe Prime Minister Andrea Leadsom thinks all websites should be rated – just like movies

John H Woods
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Re: What a choice

"An unknown number couldn't be arsed either way"

Is it unknown? The number of eligible voters who didn't is approx 12.5m, which is approx 10x the size of the majority.

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