* Posts by Martin Gregorie

839 posts • joined 10 Apr 2007

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CIMON says: Say hello to your new AI pal-bot, space station 'nauts

Martin Gregorie
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Its interesting to see IBM doing space-rated equipment for NASA again.

Its been a while, but they did design and build the onboard command and control computers used in both the Apollo CM and LM spacecraft. IIRC they were the first computers designed for direct interaction with people, i.e. fitted with a calculator-style keyboard and numeric display panel rather than requiring a teletype or greenscreen terminal. They were among the first computers to use transistor logic and were similar in power to an Apple II, Trash-80 or Commodore PET.

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Facebook, Google, Microsoft scolded for tricking people into spilling their private info

Martin Gregorie
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Re: They missed another too...

Amazon!

I notice that avoiding the Prime tax seems to be getting harder and harder.

The last time I bought anything from them I read the page carefully, was certain I'd selected normal free delivery, not Prime, but Noooo...

The next checkout page showed Prime trial selected. Then it wouldn't let me go back to the previous page. Again, I'm sure that used to be possible (change of mind on delivery date, etc).

I ended up completing the transaction and using my account page to cancel the Prime trial.

At least that worked.

This time.

I wonder how long it takes to close that loophole.

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Facebook quietly kills its Aquila autonomous internet drone program

Martin Gregorie
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Re: Use commercial flights instead.

Commercial aircraft don't cover a lot of surface area.

Indeed. Take a look at Flight Radar 24 http://www.flightradar24.com/.

That shows that using commercial air transport planes as radio relay points won't add anything useful.

Daytime tracking shows they'd give good coverage over Europe, the band from the Middle East through India, SE Asia and up to Japan, and across the continental USA, but that area is already well provided with internet and other comms connectivity.

On the other hand, much of Africa, Northern Canada, and South America, which is where cheap connectivity would help a lot, are rather short of commercial overflights. The same applies to both polar regions, the island chains in Pacific and Indian oceans and to the few islands in the South Atlantic.

So, nice idea but not gonna fly.

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Drones Bill said to be ready for world+dog's crayons 'this summer'

Martin Gregorie
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Re: Does anyone else worry about this?

Does anybody know just who invented the concept of Secondary Legislation and promoted it as a way of bypassing Parliamentary scrutiny?

Whoever it was, one thing is certain: they were not a democrat.

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Internet luminaries urge EU to kill off automated copyright filter proposal

Martin Gregorie
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I'll probably get downvoted for this, but...

I think an automated solution, based at least partly on the methods behind security systems might work like this:

  • Require all copyright assertions to be registered in a distributed register. If a work isn't registered it isn't protected. Have the register maintained by one of the international copyright institutions, e.g. WIPO
  • Let anybody who publishes copyrightable material for public access have either free or low cost access to the register and connect it up to their upload process so that attempts to upload copyrighted material will be rejected unless the uploader is registered as the copyright owner and indicates he's waiving copyright on that platform. This prevents the freetards from ripping off copyright owners while providing immunity to the publisher.
  • If the publisher doesn't want to sign up, that's fine, but he will be liable for copyright infringement if he doesn't.
  • In return, copyright owners will agree to copyright expiring no more than ten years after the author's death.
  • Those selling copyrighted material can continue as normal provide they pay royalties - this could be an automated process via the online register.

Of course, the upload blocker needs to be smart enough to see through attempts to disguise copyrighted material, but isn't that what all these wonderful AI systems (cough! pattern matchers, cough!) are supposed to do infallibly and reliably?

I think something like this is fair to everybody. Authors get recompensed for their work. Co-operating publishers get immunity from copyright hassles. Ordinary punters can still get access to (paid-for) copyrighted material and to material that's now out of copyright. Freetards get their well-deserved black eye.

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First A380 flown in anger to be broken up for parts

Martin Gregorie
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Re: "From my experience (Emirates), I'd rather fly A380 than B777"

I flew Emirates A380 and 777 back to back:

Gatwick--A380-->Dubai--777-->Delhi

and

Kolkatta--777-->Dubai--A380-->Heathrow

That was in late 2016, cattle class for all four legs. There was no equality in terms of comfort and facilities between the two aircraft. The A380 felt modern, with excellent seating and seat-back systems while the 777 experience felt like the previous generation it is.

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Britain's new F-35s arrive in UK as US.gov auditor sounds reliability warning klaxon

Martin Gregorie
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Re: What will happen during a war?

...if the F-35 logistics and maintenance management system in the US of A gets taken down with ransomware or a bot? Answer: F-35s will refuse to fly. Worldwide. Bugs in that system have already stopped them being flown while the bug was fixed.

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IoT CloudPets in the doghouse after damning security audit: Now Amazon bans sales

Martin Gregorie
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Re: Mixed Feelings

So, AC, what would you suggest we replace Firefox with?

Chrome? No thanks. The last thing I want is to be data-slurped by Alphabet.

Opera? Pretty much dead.

Vivaldi? Nope - its at best a pale reflection of what Opera was when that was still a Thing. I tried it, didn't like it and the folks at Fedora must agree with me because it vanished from their package repository some time ago.

PaleMoon? Its the best I've found so far, but judging by the rate at which updates appear, its supported by one man and his dog, with minor bugs taking months to fix: I've had an outstanding bug about handling high res screens registered with them for over six months without fix or acknowledgement. Nonetheless, that's where I'll go if Firefox implodes or tries to bypass my adblocker.

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Hear that? Of course it's Indiegogo's deadline for a Vega+ whooshing by

Martin Gregorie
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Re: Think of it as a donation, not a purchase

I think they need to tighten up the rules so that companies cannot use these crowdfunding sites as pre-order mechanisms.

I've also only backed two projects:

  • LOHAN, and I got a very nice tankard out of that, which is pretty much what I expected. Pity LOHAN has never flown, but that never looked likely once the FAA bureaucracy stuck its oar in.
  • The Glide Britain project, from which I got a book of photos. Some good videos got made and have been published on YouTube, so the team did what they had promised.

Both of these projects did pretty much what they said on the tin, so I'm happy to have been involved with both.

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No lie-in this morning? Thank the Moon's gravitational pull

Martin Gregorie
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Re: How large of a tide would that have been?

And for an impression of what the incoming high tide might look like, just watch 'Interstellar' again.

The scene on the water world where their spacecraft lands in a vast area of shallow water and only just gets away before the tidal wave swamps it may be pretty close to what you'd see on Earth when the moon was still in a close orbit. Except, that is, that both Earth and Moon were rather hot at the time: think glowing lava rather than blue water.

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RIP to two 'naut legends: A moonwalker and a spacewalker

Martin Gregorie
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Re: Two more childhood heroes gone

And sports seems to be retain its emphasis on performance, else why are players released and coaches fired?

That's not sport: that's just hiring paid performers while everybody else sits on their fat arses and watches them.

Sport is something you get out and do yourself. It includes some competitive element: either challenging yourself to do better or trying to be better than your mates at doing it. This definition covers a lot of activities, ranging from playing team sports or individual games like tennis. It also includes activities like hill walking, bike riding, sailing, flying light aircraft, gliders, etc. It doesn't matter what you do as long as it requires some degree of physical and intellectual effort, and may involve some degree of risk. You get to choose what sort of sporting activity you do, but you have to do it yourself.

Watching somebody else doing it is never sport.

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Cyber-stability wonks add election-ware to ‘civilised nations won’t hack this’ standard

Martin Gregorie
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..but some states don't care

If you want a good analysis of how not to run elections, read "Re: Securing Elections (RISKS-30.69)" by

Mark E. Smith. Here's a link:

http://catless.ncl.ac.uk/Risks/30.70#subj36

It makes interesting, if depressing reading. I was surprised to learn that surveys have shown that the typical US voter thinks that voting, i.e. filling in and submitting a ballot, is important but, having done so, really doesn't care whether his vote is counted or not. Doing his democratic duty is apparently all that matters. I'm left wondering how many other countries voters think like this and sincerely hope the answer is NONE.

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International Maritime Organisation turns salty gaze on regulating robotic shipping

Martin Gregorie
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Re: Time to re-read Brian Aldiss' Earthworks...

I did just that fairly recently, but his autonomous ships were not uncrewed - I'm thinking "Earthworks" here, which I'm guessing you also remembered. The crews in that book were just one or two persons plus a few assorted passengers.

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Zimmerman and friends: 'Are you listening? PGP is not broken'

Martin Gregorie
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Re: "Disable HTML"

That's a bug in my books, because setting 'disable' should mean that the feature is disabled. Always. No exceptions.

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As Tesla hits speed bump after speed bump, Elon Musk loses his mind in anti-media rant

Martin Gregorie
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Re: Can't have it both ways, guys.

...but don't forget that there are, and have been since I was old enough to notice, news outlets that simply take stories off newswire services like Reuters, Associated Press, UPI, etc, and print them.

Back in the late '70s that was where almost all the foreign news on BBC radio came from: at that time their test of whether a story was true was "has it been reported by more than one newswire". I have no idea whether this is still the case.

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Trio indicted after police SWAT prank call leads to cops killing bloke

Martin Gregorie
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Is there no degree of indirect homicide, like the UK manslaughter, to cover such a case where the outcome was likely to be foreseen?

Yes, there is. For a full explanation and description of regional differences, see the Wikipedia article on "manslaughter".

IANAL but I don't think a manslaughter charge should apply in this case because, in all jurisdictions where the crime of manslaughter is recognised, the distinction between it and murder is that there was no intention of killing the victim. OTOH, its quite possible that when a SWAT team is set up to target somebody, the target will be killed. Especially if the SWATters are led to believe that he is an armed killer and this is happening in the USA: elsewhere the cops are less trigger-happy. If the target is killed in these circumstances, it seems to me that the person who made the call is guilty of murder and anybody else associated with the crime is guilty of being an accessory to murder or of incitement to murder.

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Church of England will commune with God for you via Amazon's Echo

Martin Gregorie
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A question for true believers

If Alexa is doing the praying while you sit listening or watching TV, which of you is most likely to be saved?

Hint: It ain't you. You aren't even number two.

- tip of the hat to FZ

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Uber jams Arizona robo-car project into reverse gear after deadly smash

Martin Gregorie
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Re: Autonomous vehicle safety ignored

It was only Uber that decided not to use expensive LIDAR sensors that other manufacturers use as part of their redundancy design.

I'm a bit worried about the reliance on LIDAR for many of these vehicles.

  • For starters, LIDAR is an optical system, so subject to similar problems with airborne dust, smoke and fog as a human driver, yet I've seen no discussion about this or information about what backup systems the cars use when seeing is poor.
  • Secondly, how powerful are the lasers they use? At what distance can they harm pedestrian's and pet's eyes? What about the effect of a street packed with a LIDAR-equipped traffic jam?
  • Thirdly, how is LIDAR affected by reflective surfaces?

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About to install the Windows 10 April 2018 Update? You might want to wait a little bit longer

Martin Gregorie
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Re: PC Updated itself last night

On the RaspberryPi use the standard OS - Raspbian (Debian Linux ported to the RPi). Get it from the RaspberryPi Foundation unless you buy a package that includes it.

I gave up using Windows around 2003 - all my computers (Lenovo laptops and an AMD Athlon whitebox desktop) apart from the RPi run Redhat Fedora. I'd started running RedHat Linux 6.2 in 1999, liked it and so stuck with Redhat thru RedHat Linux 7.2 and into Fedora. Fedora is fairly close to the bleeding edge - CentOS is a RedHat clone and gives more stability. Both now have a stable and painless procedure for doing in situ upgrades to the next OS version.

I've now moved a fair bit of my own C code from Intel and AMD (Fedora Linux) to ARM (Raspbian on the RPi) using a shared CVS source repository and in all cases the code has compiled and run on the RPi without any problems.

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Martin Gregorie
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Re: PC Updated itself last night

One day when they annoy me too much, switch to Linux it will be.

Why wait? Just do it now.

Or go for a preliminary Linux taster: get yourself a Raspberry Pi 3B. No need for an extra keyboard and screen: install PuTTY on your Windows box and all you need to add to the RPi to make it go is a microSD card, a decent USB wall-wart to power it, and a length of Cat 5 ethernet cable to connect it to the PC. That gives you both a graphical desktop and text console access plus file transfer between the two. OK, you might also like a case for the Pi3, but that is only six quid extra.

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Finally: Historic Eudora email code goes open source

Martin Gregorie
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Re: Email is fundamental to modern life

I've been using Evolution for some years now. It does everything I need, has remarkably few downsides and, by and large, 'just works'.

Of course, you'll need Linux with a Gnome or XFCE desktop to use it, but jump right in: the water is fine.

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Boffins bash out bonkers boost for batteries

Martin Gregorie
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Re: Energy

I had this sort-of demonstrated long ago and far away - 1977 in Kandahar. I vividly recall seeing a pump attendant filling my Landrover's tank one rather hot, very still afternoon, so it was easy to see the petrol vapour pouring out of the filler, down the vehicle side and dissipating on the pavement. Said pump attendant had a lighted cigarette hanging out of his mouth. Nothing bad happened, but regardless of that I wasn't about to make a fuss because (a) he was armed, (b) I didn't speak Afghani and (c) things may have got interesting if he'd gotten agitated enough to drop the fag.

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Martin Gregorie
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Re: Good news, everyone!

You're spot on about promises of new battery technology, usually made about results from an initial small scale laboratory demonstration, that, after a glowing announcement in New Scientist, mysteriously vanishes, never to be heard from again. It would be really wonderful if at least one of these efforts resulted in something more substantial than a PhD thesis and, at least sometimes, a newly fledged PhD graduate. But, I'm not holding my breath for this wondrous event because known electro-chemical properties put limitations on future capacity increases.

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Whois privacy shambles becomes last-minute mad data scramble

Martin Gregorie
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Re: Typical ICANN

It seems to me that, as the information that whois systems run by registries within GDPR countries must provide is specified by binding ICANN contract terms, it follows that fines levied on the registries for GDPR violations can be passed on to ICANN since its their contract terms that forced the violation and doing anything else leaves the registries in double jeopardy - itself a legal offence committed by ICANN.

If this isn't the case, what did I miss?

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Open architecture, NATO or civilian, it all works for drone bods Insitu

Martin Gregorie
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Minor correction

Insitu's initial focus was on weather, not fisheries.

Their initial aircraft, called the AeroSonde, was based on a 100" (2.5m) spam RC thermal soarer's wing. It was designed in the early 1990s to be sold for under $10,000 and used for weather research on the grounds that, at that price, it was disposable and so could be flown into hurricanes and other extreme weather to gather meteorological data without its operators being too concerned about getting it back.

Aerosondes were launched from a modified car roofrack and operated autonomously apart from launch and landing, when initially they were hand flown. In 1998 one flew the Atlantic from Newfoundland to Benbecula in 26 hours 45 minutes.

More details and photos here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AAI_Aerosonde

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HP Ink to compensate punters for bricking third-party ink cartridges

Martin Gregorie
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I'll probably get Epsom.

The salt or the racetrack?

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It's not rocket science! Actually it is, and it's been a busy frickin week

Martin Gregorie
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Several centuries of experience with solid fuelled rockets?

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Academics: Shutting down Facebook API damages research, oversight, competition

Martin Gregorie
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How can FB ensure researchers don't sell the information on?

... or know how many of those claiming to be researchers are actually advertising shills, political party research assistants and similar lowlife?

Another thing that's totally absent from this discussion of "APIs for legitimate researchers" is the idea of providing an API that will only supply anonymous data. Any reputable academic researcher should, almost by definition, insist on handling ONLY properly anonymised data, especially if they want to make the data available to their referees, PhD supervisors, etc.

OTOH, if the data is anonymous, then it will be shunned by anybody in the political, advertising or brainwashing classes because, if properly anonymised, it can't be used to identify any targets for 'gentle persuasion'.

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Turn that bachelor pad into a touch pad: Now you can paint buttons, sensors on your walls

Martin Gregorie
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Some finishes considered harmful

Its probably not a good idea to use a pale coloured, matt paint on those walls.

If you do, then it won't be long before everybody can find your light switches and other favourite touchpoints by spotting the greasy patches.

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Hello DARKNESS, my old friend. I've come to talk with you again... about a 10,000-pixel alien-hunting camera

Martin Gregorie
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Re: 10,000 pixels?

Seems a reasonable enough resolution for what appears to be the first DARKNESS sensor to be fitted to a telescope. Besides, its a good idea to keep the physical size down if you're going to make it very, very cold because this saves on the refrigeration bill as well as making the package easier to install in the limited space around the focus of even a big telescope.

The detector is 80x125 pixels, which, with each pixel being 150 micrometers across, makes the sensor about 18 x 12 mm - thats very comparable with the sensor in a modern bridge camera, though with a resolution that's 1200 times less. That looks bad until you realise that DARKNESS is meant to work in the 700nm - 1um wavelength band, which is about 5.6 times longer wavelength than the bridge camera's sensor has to cope with and so needs a correspondingly larger pixel - roughly 30 times larger for reasonable sensitivity. IOW this is comparing an optical sensor with over 20 years development behind it to the first DARKNESS sensor that's expected to do real work, so I reckon its actually pretty damn good.

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Facebook faces foe formation in facial fingering fight

Martin Gregorie
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Re: Watch-out

FarceBoob have been doing this, or something like it, for longer than you might think.

The domain fbcdn.net in that URL belongs to them. Scanning URIs in my e-mail archive shows that it started to appear in 2009. Whois shows that the domain was registered to FB in 2007.

The examples I've found in e-mails have all been part of a URL pointing to an image somewhere in the depths of the FB-plex and so, by implication, can be used to connect you to the FB user who sent the e-mail. This linkage presumably will be added to the data they sell whether you're a FB user or not and does not depend on you appearing in the image. Bastards.

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France wants you to put lights and beacons on your drone

Martin Gregorie
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Blanketing ATC screens with drone details is unlikely

The feed to ATC screens tends to be filtered as a matter of course. Originally this was done to remove stationary ground clutter from radar displays, but was quickly extended to allow removal of returns from anything travelling slower than a user-selected speed, e.g. flocks of gulls. I think you'll find this type of filter is pretty much standard in secondary radar as well. Secondary radar only shows the result of interrogating transponders carried by aircraft and is a direct development from the IFF (Identification Friend or Foe) systems developed during WW2 to let radar operators to distinguish their aircraft from enemy ones.

Drones carrying the French system won't show up on existing ATC screens because these don't monitor the 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi band. At present ATC doesn't monitor FLARM or Pilot-Aware transmissions either, though this is starting to change.

ATC is quite likely to start monitoring a drone conspicuity band if its use becomes mandatory and airspace incursions continue to happen, so whether they do this is probably dependent on the good behaviour of the drone-flying community and their ability to control maverick operators. However, its very likely that any such monitor system would only display details of drones that violate controlled airspace or are in class G airspace and above 120m.

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Having ended America's broadband woes, the FCC now looks to space

Martin Gregorie
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@JLV

That this was the US ISP/cable/broadband service providers reminding the FCC commissioners that they control their retirement benefits seems obvious, but I don't think the Swarm bothers them so much as Musk's much more ambitious high-speed satellite network. If this gets off the ground all the low-speed US broadband and TV networks will be toast.

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Virgin spaceplane makes maiden rocket-powered flight

Martin Gregorie
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Re: Hello Concorde!

I was working in NYC in the mid '70s - about the time there was a twofer on offer: one way on QE2 and the other way on Concorde.

I could probably have afforded it, but decided instead to spend somewhat less on driving a Landrover from London to Kathmandhu and back. As that took 10 months and included driving right round India plus a train ride to Darjeeling and an Annapurna trek it was the certainly the better choice.

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Are meta, self-referential or recursive science-fiction films doomed?

Martin Gregorie
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Re: An even better question

OF COURSE the original Star Wars was space fantasy, or as we used to say, Space Opera. Very carefully written too, with no cliche left unturned - everything from the lone space-travelling youth from a backwoods farm planet who makes good, through fights in a space bar while the band plays on, to spaceships that go WOOOSH past you in space (where nobody can hear you scream) and space fighters dogfighting like WW1 aces. You had to have read lots of pulp SF to fully appreciate the original film. It was a truly wonderful piss-take of the whole guns 'n BEMs 'n galactic empires 'n fearless spacemen genre. Unfortunately, the usual Hollywood drones got loose on the sequels and degraded them into the usual hohum product.

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Martin Gregorie
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Re: Films - meh

I did it the other way round (book then film) and thought the film was a travesty of the book, especially some of the effects. The sandworms and ornithopters were especially crap. But Herbert was an very inconsistent writer. I tried to read the second Dune novel but slung it on discovering that the Face Dancers were such a powerful group that they could not have existed without being a visible part of society in Dune. I read quite a few of his other books and disliked a lot, quite apart from Dune II onwards. Eyes of Heisenberg, Santaroga Barrier and Hellstrom's Hive were also crap, but Dragon In The Sea and Destination: Void wer very good.

"Dragon In The Sea" is the only one of his books I've kept. Its also the one I really wish somebody would film. It would make a superb low budget, claustrophobic whodunnit along similar lines to some of Hitchcock's best.

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Holy helmets, Batman! Bane-like mask lets you 'talk' to computers without making a sound

Martin Gregorie
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Medical use

Pity this didn't appear a year or two back. It would have been interesting to see if it could have helped Stephen Hawking.

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'Every little helps'... unless you want email: Tesco to kill free service

Martin Gregorie
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Re: Damn

Buy yourself a domain name and have the domain name registrar host it. Set it to redirect mail to whoever provides your mail service and tell your friends to send e-mail via your domain name. From then on you'll never have to tell everybody about a new e-mail address again.

I've been using this approach since the early naughties and have seamlessly moved ISP (both email and webhosting) during this time.

Cost depends on the domain name you choose, i.e. co.uk, org.uk, me.uk and .uk at around £8 a year are all cheaper than .com and .org (£12 - £13) a year including e-mail forwarding and web redirection.

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UK.gov: We're not regulating driverless vehicles until others do

Martin Gregorie
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Re: Good call

But there's a problem: merely by writing an AEV bill they've implicitly locked autonomous vehicles into the same cage as electric ones. That just seems like an unnecessary step to take at this stage. Two separate bills seems like a better plot.

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Recording Industry Ass. says vinyl and CD sales beat digital downloads

Martin Gregorie
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What about the artists?

Mildly interesting article, but what about money going to performers, song writers and composers?

When you consider that the "music industry" would not exist without the folks who write and perform music, not mentioning whether the move from downloads to disk purchase and streaming helps or harms them is a surprising omission.

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Prez Trump's $60bn China tariff plan to hit tech, communications, aerospace industries

Martin Gregorie
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Re: ... China does not play by the same rules ...

Look up what Charles Dickens and other 19th century authors thought of the American attitude to copyright and, if you're American, say that again with a straight face.

To a large extent what's happened with China can be traced directly back to the total trade embargo placed on it in the 50s and 60s following the Korean War. When I was in University in the mid/late 60s one of our lecturers visited China (and got vilified in our papers for going to see what they were doing). I was at a talk he gave afterwards. The main point he made was that the embargo gave a huge boost to Chinese manufacturing. I remember him saying that all their older lab equipment carried European and American brands, but all their new stuff was Chinese made and was doing the job. He also said that the embargo had two effects: apart from pissing them off, it also made them determined to never again be dependent on foreign technology.

So, regardless of what you think of the Chinese following the 19th century American model of IP theft, its obvious that, far from damaging the Chinese, the 50s/60s trade embargo was the kick start that made them into an industrial nation. Now add in the US Corporate fixation on driving down costs by outsourcing manufacture to the cheapest bidder while ignoring the fact that if you don't pay local workers a decent wage they can't afford your products, and the current situation looks, um, inevitable.

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Cambridge Analytica CEO suspended – and that's not even the worst news for them today

Martin Gregorie
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Re: OK, that's it!

That's easy: the man who funded both the CA startup and the Brexit campaign.

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He He He: Seagate's gasbag Exos spinner surges up to 14TB

Martin Gregorie
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Re: Limits?

Not even close to hawg-calling distance.

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China to offer recoverable satellites-as-a-service

Martin Gregorie
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Because its getting damn crowded up there.

The planned constellations of several thousand micro-sats must have an impact on other launches as these try to find a launch window that suits the mission objectives while avoiding the risk of hitting a micro-sat. If you were to point out that launching one of these mega-constellations looks downright selfish and totally inconsiderate of other satellite users I would not disagree.

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Office junior had one job: Tearing perforated bits off tractor-feed dot matrix printer paper

Martin Gregorie
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Re: Ah, the "good old days" ...

We used a burster and trimmer, which separated the sheets and cut the perfs off at the same time, but I digress...

One of our clients (I used to work in an ICL service bureau) supplied input data on paper tape. This arrived as several pieces of tape, each rolled up, end of tape outside, start inside with a rubber band round it to stop it unrolling. So, the first thing our computer operators did was to remove the band, dump the tape in a bin and wind it up again so the start leader was on the outside. This was done with a tape winder clamped on the bin.

One day the client had run out of rubber bands and used a bit of sellotape to keep one of the rolls from unrolling. It was thrown in the bin and rewound as usual, but the operator forgot to remove the bit of tape from what was now the end of the roll.

Result: the tape shot through the 1000 cps reader as usual, but the tape on its end stuck to the reader's capstan and promptly sucked a metre or two of tape back into the reader's close fitting, transparent cover jamming the thing solid. It took the engineers an hour to work out how to remove the wedged-on cover without breaking it, get the paper tape clear of the reader, and allow the operators to feed in the rest of the tapes.

I think we were all startled at the amount of tape that reader had managed to cram into itself: it had a remarkably powerful drive motor.

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You always wanted to be an astronaut, right? Careful: Space is getting more and more deadly

Martin Gregorie
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Re: Sloppy

That makes sense to me, particularly the correlation between solar cycles and cosmic rays, which I already knew about. I know any change is unlikely to be purely variations in 'solar radiation' since the sun is at most a 0.5% variable star.

This article combines sloppy reporting with lack of clarity in its text for sure, but how good is the underlying study? I've never heard of Nathan Schwadron before: I'm certain I'd remember his name if I had.

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Google to 'forget me' man: Have you forgotten what you said earlier?

Martin Gregorie
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@at anon

As far as I can see, that is not even remotely being considered.

It would appear that the actual document(s) found by a search are not about to be deleted or changed in any way either, just that they will not appear in the results of any search that includes the name of FORGET_ME as an explicit search term.

But even so it will be tricky to implement since, while a search like "FRAUD FORGET_ME" must clearly exclude any stories about frauds in which Mr FORGET_ME was involved, searches for "CRICKET+FORGET_ME" should not be affected by the right to be forgotten and might (possibly) include stories in which fraud was mentioned in passing because the person making the enquiry presumably wanted everything he could find about the gentleman's cricketing history.

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Rant launches Eric Raymond's next project: open-source the UPS

Martin Gregorie
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You gets what you pays for with UPS

I have to take slight issue with ESR, but I'm in the UK and believe that our National Grid is in somewhat better repair than the USAian one.

Bottom line: the real cheap UPSes are junk, just as his rant says, but if you work out sensible requirements and look round a bit you'll find a UPS that meets all of ESR's criteria and does what you want it to do, though not at a rock-bottom price.

Back in September 2014, and in the face of a few power flicks that had dumped my house server (which has a soft-touch power switch - these seem specially designed to turn OFF if they see even a microsecond of mains loss). Fortunately none of these corrupted the disks, but I decided that, given the Governmental unwillingness to deal with ageing generating stations and rising power requirements (think charging electric cars and the giant whole-wall flatscreen tellies that the average consumer apparently must have) that a UPS would be a good idea, so I started to look for one.

The problem: I wanted a UPS that could support my house server (30-50 watts on average) during a power loss of 5-10 mins (most power glitches are shorter than this) plus enough time for the server to shut down cleanly once it had been told to do so by the UPS. Not what I'd consider to be exactly hard to do.

ESR was partly right: this was completely beyond the 'UPSs' sold by Amazon and friends at the time.

These couldn't run my server that long, let alone do anything else. In particular, they couldn't tell the server to shut down before it drained their batteries. This was the killer: any UPS that can't do this is just junk.

So, I widened my search.

I ended up paying 300 quid for a lowish spec Riello and got a piece of kit that does everything ESR (and myself) wants. It can run my server for up to 50 minutes. It has a UPS monitoring server process that runs under Linux and is easily configurable to do what I needed: shut down the server after a total power loss of more than 5 minutes.

The end result is that this Rielllo box comfortably exceeds ESR's requirements. It has a very nice LCD display that shows current status and gives direct manual control of it. The UPS monitoring server does everything ESR and I want and maintains a UPS event log. I have always run the UPS with the batteries in circuit. It uses a pair of 12v 7Ah SLA batteries. These are currently being reported as being in better condition than similar batteries I use in my glider and that get slung after 3-4 years when their annual test says they've lost 30% of the original capacity. The UPS's internal fans are no noiser than the server it powers, so quite suitable for domestic use.

Revised bottom line: after 3.5 years the Riello UPS is still reporting that its original batteries have plenty of capacity to do what the UPS is configured to do.

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Jupiter has the craziest storms seen yet, say boffins

Martin Gregorie
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Re: So we've finally found..

But with that said I'd still like to see god disproven or even proven.

If we're living inside a simulation of the universe there's a good case to be made for its project manager being god, team members being the angels and the devil a team member who was sacked for insubordination or goofing off.

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Neo4j graph database boss: 'The mainstream is always under attack'

Martin Gregorie
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Yawn

Sounds more like somebody rediscovered IDMS, which was popular in the 1980s, rather than inventing anything new.

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