* Posts by Martin Gregorie

869 posts • joined 10 Apr 2007

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EU aren't kidding: Sky watchdog breathes life into mad air taxi ideas

Martin Gregorie
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Chutes?

All parachutes need plenty of height to deploy: very few people have survived a bail-out under 2000 ft. That said, a whole-vehicle recovery system should work from a lower height because it is designed to lower the aircraft with the people still inside, so there's no bail-out needed and the only predeployment activities are to realise there's a serious problem and to pull the red knob.

However, even the rocket-extracted Ballistic Recovery System isn't guaranteed to give a safe recovery from less than 400 ft in straight and level flight or from less than 1000ft if the aircraft is spinning. Almost any other imaginable circumstance is likely to have a safe recovery height within that height range, though there doesn't seem to be much, if any, data on how well a BRS system would deploy after engine failure in a hovering aircraft which would still be falling relatively slowly.

But, IIRC all the above minimum survival height estimates assume deployment is over flat ground, so no allowance is made for the incident occurring over trees, tall buildings etc. or the possibility of the aircraft colliding with something while the chute is deploying and the plane still has significant forward speed.

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AI's next battlefield is literally the battlefield: In 20 years, bots will fight our wars – Army boffin

Martin Gregorie
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Re: Top. Lel.

Yep .. a quote from Philip K Dick's "Second Variety". Pretty much hits 'robot war' nail smack on its head.

You should at least have made the PKD attribution, but being an AC, I suppose its no surprise that you didn't.

Dick was good: he also wrote "Minority Report" and ought to be required reading as a vaccination against trusting the political class and their tame military any further than you can throw them.

Then watch "Dr. Strangelove" or, even better, read Peter George's book; that film was based on it.

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Powerful forces, bodily fluids – it's all in a day's work

Martin Gregorie
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Re: Leaking barium enemas

But is it true that a barium meal is difficult to flush?

Yes, absolutely.

Back in the day I remember a university flatmate with suspected stomach ulcers being prescribed a barium meal and an X-ray. The resulting 'sausage' a day later was both very heavy and strong, so flushing and the usual bathroom cleaning implements both refused to move it. All that happened was that the organic material got progressively washed out of it. So, after a few days we had what looked like a plaster of paris replica lurking at the bottom of the pan, daring us to try and move it. We finally got rid of the thing by smashing it into a coarse white sand drift with a blunt instrument, probably a poker. This was flushable, though it took several cycles to transfer it all into the sewer.

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Microsoft Windows 10 October update giving HP users BSOD

Martin Gregorie
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I'd be quite happy for a default auto-update and you can change that if you know what you're doing, approach.

A better idea would be the system update process to have an option to take a backup before applying system updates. BUT, this should also have the ability to defer the update until somebody is there to attach the backup medium or to use a permanently attached backup device, which could be anything from an external USB drive to a NAS box or the cloud.

Its all perfectly feasable: this would just automate what I've been doing for years with Linux:

(1) disable the auto update system

(2) manually make a backup immediately before triggering an update.

I do this on a weekly basis. Its a three step manual process (1) Backup, (2) System update, (3) reboot.

This has remained manual for three reasons: first because its never been enough of a nuisance to try automating it, second because the backup disks are stored offline and thridly I use encrypted partitions so the encryption password has to be entered on the local keyboard at boot time.

My house server, which runs 24x7, also keeps seven generations of a compressed nightly backup of user space on a permanently attached disk, but this is for fat finger and disk crash protection rather than surviving a system update. For the latter you need a full backup rather than something that just secures locally created files and data.

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Google Cloud boss promises 'security built into every layer of the system' at UK shindig

Martin Gregorie
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Missing data protection terms

This piece is more noticeable for what it omits that for what it says.

The thing that most surprised me is that, although it seems that you can lock things regionally so that system management and access are restricted to a particular geographic region, it doesn't say what, exactly, this means. Is a region a continent? the EU? a country? a region within a country? a city? a building with a postal address? All or none of these? Can the same restrictions apply to the location of stored data, i.e. can I configure things so that, as an EU or UK based data controller, I can be guaranteed that my data will never be stored on UASian servers?

And last but not least, there's no reference to how this data storage and access scheme maps onto the GDPR. It would be interesting to know if this question was asked and, if it was, what the response was.

I've read the article together with the Google document it links to and the relevant document that the latter links to, but none of these mentions GDPR or covers user control over data storage location in other than the most general terms: neither of the linked documents give any more detail than El Reg's write-up.

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Self-driving cars may not have steering wheels in future, dev preview for PyTorch 1.0 is here, etc

Martin Gregorie
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What about towing trailers?

Quite a number of drivers still need to tow stuff, ranging from using kiddie-size trailers to take the hedge trimmings to the Civic Amenity (as our local dump is officially named), through boat trailers, caravans and mobile chippies to balloon and glider trailers. All of these need to be taken off road and parked with some precision on grass or hardstanding, usually without any markings for guidance.

How, precisely are these going to be used if the tow vehicle has no manual controls? Are they really expecting the driver to get out and use a box on a cable like many cranes have? Or maybe to yell instructions at the tow vehicle?

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Former General Electric boss explains how he got the internet wrong

Martin Gregorie
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Re: Password managers

I have a password manager for my home PC - it's a text file.

Substitute a set of HTML pages for 'a textfile' and so do I, but my pages are on a password protected encrypted partition on a server, so inaccessible to anybody who nicks either my laptop or that server. In addition, a username and password is needed as well as the usual Linux login to access the password collection from either machine.

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Brit startup plans fusion-powered missions to the stars

Martin Gregorie
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Re: Mission energy requirements....

@AC - slight correction: solar power isn't much use beyond Mars because the energy collectable for a given area of solar collector decreases as the square of distance from the sun.

It took solar-powered Dawn, with its 36 sq.metre solar panels, dry mass of 747kg and 425kg of xenon propellant at launch, 15 months to get from Earth orbit to Mars and a further 29 months (plus a gravity slingshot from Mars) to get to Vesta. While its enormous solar array provided 10 kW in Earth orbit (1AU radius), this had dropped to 3kW at 3AU. Vesta, its first target, orbits at 2.15 AU from the sun. It then took another 30 months to get from there to Ceres,which orbits between 2.56 and 3 AU from the sun.

I think this shows that Ceres at, a bit under 3AU from the sun, is about the practical limit for solar powered spacecraft. The next planet out, Jupiter, is at 5.2AU, so if Dawn was orbiting Jupiter, its solar cells would only be providing 1kW.

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Bombing raids during WWII sent out shockwaves powerful enough to alter the Earth's ionosphere

Martin Gregorie
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Re: Bah!

Its always seemed to me that in the run-up to WW1 almost all the participating nations' rulers and military were just looking for an excuse to have a go at each other. Any semi-believable excuse would be justification enough, so one hot-headed Serb did very nicely, thank-you.

Once the war was rolling the various Empires got dragged in along with the Americans.

Hindsight shows that the Versailles Treaty was vindictive enough to virtually guarantee trouble would erupt a bit later. I've always wondered about its severity: possibly something to do with the pro-war politicians on the winning side distracting attention from their own misdeeds?

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HP Ink should cough up $1.5m for bricking printers using unofficial cartridges – lawsuit

Martin Gregorie
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Re: The 'Trust' Factor: Toxic Patches / Firmware Updates

Get a laser printer rather than an inkjet, particularly if you're happy with a monochrome printer, because they have one or two advantages over inkjets.

For starters, if its only used infrequently it won't clog because there's no ink in it to dry out and block the print head. Even it its not been used for a month or two it will fire up and print with no fuss or cleaning issues.

Epson and HP printers use control codes, ESC/P for Epson and PCL for HP Lasers, that have been essentially unchanged for decades apart from adding extensions to support features appearing on newer printers. This means that a new printer in either range will work happily with an older driver, which can help a lot if you use older software. For instance, I was able to do anything I needed (in monochrome) in the way of printing letters, reports, envelopes etc. using a driver developed for an Epson MX-80 (9-pin dot matrix) to control an Epson Stylus 850 colour inkjet. Similarly, a driver originally set up for use with an HP Laserjet 2 worked perfectly with a Laserjet 5 and is now working just as well with my new HP Laserjet Pro M402dne.

BTW, the Laserjet M202dne came with a free 'starter' cartridge which is claimed to be good for 1500 pages. At my usual printer usage this will keep me going for several years. The full cartridge does twice that: 3100 pages. Given the capacity of these cartridges, printing should cost about 2.6p per page after I've used up the free starter cartridge. That is £80 with free delivery for an HP 26A cartridge at the cheapest current retail price found with a short search. Other estimates: 3.26p/page at Amazon prices (£91 plus a tenner P&P) or under 1p/page (eBay, £20 + guessed fiver for P&P). This probably makes a decent mono laser cheaper to run than an inkjet.

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You're alone in a room with the Windows 10 out-of-the-box apps. What do you do?

Martin Gregorie
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Re: If you found yourself in charge of the in-box Windows 10 apps, what would you do with them?

Install Linux

I did. Fifteen years ago.

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30-up: You know what? Those really weren't the days

Martin Gregorie
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Re: MY thanks to Ms Stob

Make that CVS and I'm with you.

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Revealed: The billionaire baron who’ll ride Elon’s thrusting erection to the Moon and back

Martin Gregorie
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Re: This counts as _not_ going to the Moon

The Bomber On the Moon was described as a B-17, but the photo in the story showed a B-29: a World War II vintage rather than Dr Strangelove era, so nothing as modern as a B-52. Of course, thats assuming you're thinking of the Sunday Sport story and its followup piece about launching a Shuttle to tow it back home.

Back on topic a bit: of course the Space-X flight will be just a remake of Apollo 8 rather than Apollo 11.

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Redis does a Python, crushes 'offensive' master, slave code terms

Martin Gregorie
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Re: We can't be having descriptive nomenclature.

Frequency and Hertz is another example of confusion.

Bad example: 'frequency' and 'hertz' are not synonyms: Nobody would ever say "That was an annoying high Hertz noise" or "Radio 4 is on 93.5 frequency". IOW frequency is a synonym for the general terms 'oscillation' or 'vibration' but Hz denotes a measured frequency, which is a much more precise statement.

Hertz replaced cycles/sec as the preferred term denoting a measurement of frequency 40-50 years ago during a sudden mania for naming derived scientific units by the names of related scientists. The changeover was confusing: when I started University we used cgs units. By the time I graduated, we'd moved first to MKS units and then to the current names. Apart from the Hertz (Hz) losing information because you have to know what a Hertz is a synonym for (cycles/second) which is annoying for units you seldom use, it is easier to write Hz than cps, cycles/sec or c/s and it gets even better when you're dealing with KHz , MHz or GHz.

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Oracle tells students: You're not going to solve the world's problems – but AI and ML might

Martin Gregorie
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Blockchain, blockpile, blurgh

The more I hear about blockchain, the more it looks like a solution in search of a problem - particularly if the problem requires both continually increasing CPU power slurpage matched with reducing data transfer rates.

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$200bn? Make that $467bn: Trump threatens to balloon proposed bonus China tech tariffs

Martin Gregorie
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Trump's new tariff can only work as he thinks it will if there's another, partly idle source of similar items, with the spare capacity to seamlessly take over from Chinese suppliers and is one that is guaranteed not to be nuked by a sudden extension of the Tariff.

Does such a source exist?

If not, then, as others have said, this new Tariff is just a tax on American consumers[1]. The importers don't give a toss because they'll just pass the Tariff cost on to the next guy along with the imported items.

[1] I really hate the term 'consumer'. Have we all really no other use than to mindlessly gobble up everything the producers, advertisers and vendors of 'stuff' want us to?

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Dear America: Want secure elections? Stick to pen and paper for ballots, experts urge

Martin Gregorie
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Why? A cross made with a pencil, black biro or felt-tip will do just as well and, indeed, is much better if the ballots are counted by humans.

For machine-counted ballots a black mark in a box read by an Optical Mark Reader (OMR) is also better because it will not be subject to the 'hanging chad' problem.

OMR is old, tested and reliable technology: I was writing systems to use it back in 1971/2. With reasonably well designed forms it provides an easily used offline interface that works in places where online access isn't usually available, such as a polling station. When polling closes, the marked-up ballots from each polling station would be securely transported to the counting centre and fed through its OMR reader. Security is good because there's no need to connect any part of the voting system to a network.

The first example I saw of a live OMR system belonged to a magazine distributor. This is the middle man between the publishers and newsagents. The distributor's delivery van driver delivered magazines to the newsagent and collected last week's unsold copies. Both were recorded on an OMR form in front of the shop owner and passed to the distributor's computer dept to be read into the stock control and accounting system. The OMR forms had been printed with the retailer's code and the list of magazines he sold before being handed to the van driver, sorted into delivery round order - a very slick operation. Using then-traditional data prep methods took 3-4 weeks to produce invoices etc: the use of OMR reduced this to 3-4 days.

The OMR system I worked on used a set of forms to record case histories for a hospital cardiovascular unit: there were forms, designed by medical staff, to record pre-op examinations, details of the operation, post-op examinations and outcomes. We developed a system that read the OMR documents and stored the details in a database. As well as generating outcome statistics (its main purpose), it printed easily readable case histories that went back to the surgeons for checking/correction and to be added to the patient's case notes.

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Premera Blue Cross hacker victims claim insurer trashed server to hide data-slurp clues

Martin Gregorie
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Re: Staging computer A23567-D

What class of a computer was it that could be compromised for at least eight months without anyone noticing?

One used by several developers for a variety of tasks? I can well imagine that, in a somewhat chaotic environment, nobody would know exactly what should be on it or what anybody else may have installed.

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Space station springs a leak while astronauts are asleep (but don't panic)

Martin Gregorie
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Coat

I wonder if...

...Wednesday's ISS ground controllers managed to resist using:

ISS, you have a problem

for their wake-up call.

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Russian volcanoes fingered for Earth's largest mass extinction

Martin Gregorie
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Re: Plumes

Good write-up - thanks.

I notice you didn't mention the much hyped Yellowstone supervolcano and wonder why not. Is it simply not that much of a potential threat?

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Don't mean to alarm you – but NASA is about to pummel the planet with huge frikkin' space laser

Martin Gregorie
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Re: Height measurement precision

I see the satellite's orbit is being measured by star-tracker and GPS. Thats fine for Lat/lon determination to about a metre, but vertical GPS resolution is a lot worse, somewhere in the 3-5m range, so either there's another scheme thats not being talked about for measuring the orbital altitude, correcting for gravitational variation etc., or the +/- 3cm height resolution calculated from photon flight time and mentioned in the referenced graphic is somewhat irrelevant.

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Martin Gregorie
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Missing information

So, now we know that the horizontal resolution is an impressive 70cm, but not so much about the vertical resolution.

Resolving round trip time to a billionth of a second gives a theoretical accuracy of 0.1mm, but when other factors such as the accuracy with which the orbital altitude is known, atmospheric interference, etc are included, the measurement accuracy will almost certainly not be +/- 0.1mm. Its disappointing that the expected error bars on this measurement weren't quoted.

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Tax the tech giants and ISPs until the bits squeak – Corbyn

Martin Gregorie
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Re: How 'bout no

I don't and won't have a TV in my house, so like you I don't and won't waste time watching it, but I DO listen to BBC radio and, more selectively, to internet streamed radio, not least because I can do something else while listening.

So, I would be happy to pay for a BBC radio license if one existed.

One other thing I want to see is the likes of Drooble, Farcebook and Amazon pay their fair share of UK taxes.

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London's Gatwick Airport flies back to the future as screens fail

Martin Gregorie
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Re: "no redundancy in the internet link"

One thing nobody seems to have forgotten - BT and other wonderful network providers currently operating in the UK have been known to engineer their own single point of failure. It happens this way:

  • The system design team specifies a disaster recovery site and a high speed connection to it
  • Their network design requires separate dual redundant links from the operations centre (LGW in this case) to the main ops site and to the disaster recovery site via at least two paths which are required to leave the building via separate ducts and then follow different routes.
  • These specs get handed to the network provider, whose contractors promptly ignore all the fancy separate routing details and put all the cables through a single duct so they can trouser all the money they saved by skipping all that costly separate routing nonsense.
  • The local council puts a digger through the cable duct....

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UK.gov agencies told to drop fancy tech or risk 'reinventing the wheel'

Martin Gregorie
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Re: I think...

Better yet, each time a Government department's IT project fails, fire those responsible for its management, starting from the head of department and working down until signs of competence is found. That should only need to happen once, though history suggests it may need to happen at least once per department.

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Kaspersky VPN blabbed domain names of visited websites – and gave me a $0 reward, says chap

Martin Gregorie
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Yubico later apologized, and gave the researchers credit for the discovery.

....but did they keep the cash?

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Internet overseer ICANN loses a THIRD time in Whois GDPR legal war

Martin Gregorie
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Re: Costs?

While part of me agrees with your sentiments the problem is that ICANN doesn't have any money of it's own.

Are you sure? IIRC there have been several stories in El Reg about the millions ICANN made by selling rights over newly invented TLDs to various registrars. For some reason TLD name auctions starting at $185,000 a pop spring to mind. IIRC quite a lot of it is said to be still in the ICANN bank account despite what they've spent on running conferences in exotic places.

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MessageBird, Twilio tout low-code tools for DIY comms app plumbing

Martin Gregorie
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Um hire more? In particular, hire more greybeards.

Never going to happen as long as companies are run by MBAs, accountants and so-called 'activist investors'[1]. who wouldn't recognise talent or experience if it walked up and kicked them in the nuts.

[1] back around 1900 these 'gentry' were known as robber barons and corporate raiders - much better names for anybody whose main aim is to syphon off money made by the hard work of other people.

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Game over for Google: Fortnite snubs Play Store, keeps its 30%, sparks security fears

Martin Gregorie
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Deja Vue all over again?

As I read this article I realised that I'd seen this MUD financial model before, complete with support for third party sources selling weapons, equipment and other stuff useful to gamers, but I saw it in a book: Neal Stephenson's "REAMDE". That was published in 2011, so I wonder if/when the big dogs at Epic read it.

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DEF CON plans to show US election hacking is so easy kids can do it

Martin Gregorie
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As an outsider to the US election system...

... the thing that seems oddest is the attitude of the American voter.

Judging from from posts here and on comp.risks it appears that the average US voter is commendably keen to do his civic duty and vote but, having voted, has not the slightest interest in what happens after that: he's done his bit for Democracy, so vote counting, verification and associated security is not his job, and hence of no interest whatever. If this impression is wrong, why is there no pressure within the US for securing their voting systems?

Voters in other countries seem much more concerned about the security of the ballot system and the way its operated. There must be an explanation for this, but I'm damned if I can see one.

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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
Silver badge

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
Silver badge

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
Silver badge

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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Finally: Historic Eudora email code goes open source

Martin Gregorie
Silver badge

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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