* Posts by bazza

2112 posts • joined 23 Apr 2008

Google's news algorithm serves up penis pills

bazza
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You've got to hand it to them, they’ve....

No wait, that's gone wrong.

You've got to give them some credit, an automated news service is a master stroke that...

Hang on, that's gone wrong too.

They should get it right one day, and then they'll blow away the...

Damn.

It's a pretty clever idea, having an algorithm to suck in the stories that...

Crap. I give up.

It's a pretty clever idea to have an algorithm to soak up the world's entire stream of news stories, and distil it down to a golden stream which they target us with.

Got there in the end...

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Windows 10 Creators Update preview: Lovin' for Edge and pen users, nowt much else

bazza
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Re: Fall Creators Update

Killing and eating people just because they don't like a UI? And people think the flaming can get a bit harsh...

Flame grilled commentard. Chewy, needs mustard, satisfaction stems mostly from having it served on one's own plate.

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Human-free robo-cars on Washington streets after governor said the software is 'foolproof'

bazza
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Re: This could backfire on them

Yes, it's an oddly human thing. Kids die or are crippled every day, many times per day, all over the world, by cars driven by humans and few people bat an eye at that.

But in those cases the driver is almost always to blame, are held liable, and cannot escape the consequences.

With a self driving car, who is liable? Who goes to jail? I've yet to hear any of the self drive researchers / developers volunteer for that role, and it certainly shouldn't be the car's occupants...

It's a big social deal if the law says no one is to blame anymore.

However I doubt it'll get that far; when the discussion is concluded it will be the manufacturers, and I can't see them having the stomach for it.

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Intel to Qualcomm and Microsoft: Nice x86 emulation you've got there, shame if it got sued into oblivion

bazza
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Re: Tough Times at Santa Clara

There's also the question of ARM servers. There's a big chance that the big data centre operators might go for ARM there, to save power. Data centres is where Intel's profit comes from these days. If that starts happening then Intel is in deep trouble.

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Microsoft officially hangs up on old Skype phones, users fuming

bazza
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What, replace one proprietary standard with two different proprietary standards?!?!

To be honest I don't know if Telegram or WhatsApp offerings are open standards compliant, but in this day and age of OTT walled gardens I'm not getting my hopes up...

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bazza
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Re: Had a Three phone with Skype on Three

The only reason why I went to Three in the first place was Skype

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Infosec guru Schneier: Govts will intervene to regulate Internet of Sh!t

bazza
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Re: Let's be honest about this...

"So, yes, regulation does stifle innovation and competition, and is often used to that end."

That's because you let the wrong people write the regs.

Like it or loathe it, the one thing the EU has been quite good at is imposing sensible technical standards for the benefit of all. The SIM card is part of that, and it's a tremendous boon for the consumer. Here in the UK (and I think most of the rest of Europe) you own your mobile phone number, and the network have to let you take it to another network.

In fact the whole GSM / UMTS thing came about against a back ground of regulatory interest, ensuring that there was open compeition between network equipment providers. The irony of course is that it took a Chinese company - Huawei - to make the big innovation in that by changing the internals of a GSM network whilst keeping the external interfaces (base station, SS7 connection) the same.

If there is one thing that really needs sorting out, it's the walled gardens that are the OTT networks, comms apps, etc. Having spent decades setting standard for interoperable communications and services (e.g. MS being forced to publish docs for Windows Domain protocols), governments all over are ignoring the erossion of interoperability by Facebook, Google, Apple, WhatsApp, etc, and the harm it ultimately does to all consumers.

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Apple gives world ... umm ... not much new actually

bazza
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Samsung are indeed crazy with the hardware, but poor at software. If it weren't for the fact that Android is available to them, I'm unconvinced that they could pull together a whole OS stack from scratch and sell it in vast numbers. Tizen isn't exactly compelling... I don't think their Android mods are worth a damn either.

Apple's approach has been nakedly commercial. Whilst they have refined their products for keep the users of those products happy-ish, they’ve completely abandoned a whole class of user who really matter (the people who develop, power users, etc).

For example in the world today there isn't a single Mac that you can put a high end NVIDIA GPU inside. Lots of people use CUDA these days for all sorts of applications. There's a ton of work going on out there that you cannot do on a MAC.

Google are pretty hopeless on the software strategy front, in my opinion. Only now with Project Treble are they beginning to fix that, effectively turning Linux into a microkernel OS so that hardware and software updates can be independent of each other. This might be radical for Linux and Android, but it is decades behind everyone else. All the problems in the Android world originate in that misguided and careless design decision to use Linux because it's "free" and "trendy". If they'd decided to roll with, say, FreeBSD or QNX that'd have allowed them to avoid all this craziness with updates, etc.

That so much money has been made by companies that have made such poor technical decisions shows how uneducated the vast majority of the market is... the cost is that now they have no way of expanding the markets they sell into. No power user will buy Apple. Samsung have no compelling software to differentiate themselves. Google cannot get people to fully commit their entire souls to their databases because no one fully trusts anyone to keep their Android fully patched, etc.

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UK PM Theresa May's response to terror attacks 'shortsighted'

bazza
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@wolftone,

"The internet, on the whole, isn't to blame for the mess we're in now. It's the actions of those MP's who we've elected, who brought us in to illegal wars, who continue to fund regimes with weapons and money to carry on those and other wars, who allow proxy wars to continue to be fought, ...."

So you think that terrorist attacks in, say, Britain are linked to deployment of British forces elsewhere? So exactly what did Sweden do to attract the attention of these brain dead wankers? Or Belgium? Or the Philippines? Or Pakistan? Or India? Or Iraq? Or Argentina? I don't recall those countries being involved in deployments beyond their own borders.

It's a monumental level of naivety to assume that there is any connection whatsoever between a country's foreign policy and whether or not it becomes a target for terrorists. Saying "Stop being beastly and the terrorists will stop being beastly to us" is demonstrably a load of bollocks.

Many countries across Europe have woken up too late to the fact that despite a policy of non-involvement in the affairs of the Middle East they are just as targetted as anywhere else. That's come as a nasty shock.

Well she's going to point at the internet and blame that for what happened on Saturday and the week before that in Manchester.

She's not pointing at the Internet, she's pointing at companies like Facebook, Google, Twitter, Apple.

Google and Facebook in particular seem to be quite happy to host some truly nasty content, make money from placing ads next to it, and are currently highly ineffective at blocking it from upload and responding to take down notifications. Their feeble attempts thus far seem to focus around making content ineligble for "monetisation", which is a long way from "deleting the content and reporting the user responsible to the police". This approach seems more focused on persuading advertisers that their ads won't appear next to such content, rather than preventing the content being there in the first place. That's really taking the piss.

Whether Google/Facebook like it or not there's kids out there seeking out this kind of material. They're also using these companies' services to talk to some truly nasty, manipulative, far-from-brain-dead wankers who do a good job at grooming them to the point where they're willing to kill themselves and a whole load of others. That's the nub of it. No one is born to do this kind of thing, and it's generally not the parents egging them on, and here in the UK the Police are generally on good terms with Mosques these days. There's actually a ton of good community / police cooperation; parents do not want their sons going off the rails and doing something fatally stupid.

The social media networks acknowledge that they are a conduit for this, and yet they are being very unhelpful or wilfully obstructive in helping law enforcement agencies identify these people. The only reason why the social network companies are being unhelpful and obstructive is because it's going to cost them a ton of cash to do anything about it, or they need to change their business model entirely, or they need to stop pandering to their US users and swallow their First Ammendment pride, or let law enforcement agencies into their data sets so that they can police the content themselves. All of that sounds massively unprofitable.

Well fuck that. I and everyone else (including yourself) want these wankers, brain dead or otherwise, to be hindered, identified, arrested and jailed. If the companies aren't going to usefully help with that, then they're going to have to be forced. If that means regulation and users having to give up the effective anonymity currently afforded by the companies' freetard business models, so be it. If the companies don't like that, well hard luck, get a different business model.

So, given that, how exactly do you expect any elected government to respond? Yes, that's right, elections 101: being lax on law enforcement doesn't look good at the ballot box. The incumbent Spanish government lost the general election immediately after the Madrid bombings thanks to it's poor response; other politicians (though apparently not Corbyn or the Lib Dems) took careful note of that.

So it's no surprise that governments all over Europe are talking about or have already taken similar actions. For example, France has an enduring state of emergency where there's a lot of extra-judical activity going on. Germany will now be handing out €50m fines. Belgium has been having a bit of a crackdown too. I've no idea what the Swedes have been doing.

By being so pathetically useless at cleaning up their act the companies are bringing this upon themselves.

Network Fractures

Having said all that, I think the logical conclusion of strong intervention by governments across Europe against US social network tech companies is 1) they'll have to stop offering a global service and offer non-connected regional services, or 2) they'll withdraw their service entirely from Europe, or 3) they'll abandon or change their US market, or 4) countries will start establishing things akin to the Great Firewall of China to block them and any other non-compliant service.

Ultimately this is boiling down to battle of wills between US users and users in Europe / UK / Canada / elsewhere, and whether or not a company decides to operate in one environment or the other. Americans are quite often vociferously paranoid about the Federal government (which explains the attitudes of the American companies), whereas Europeans, etc. generally trust their governments. Despite the occasional raving the contrary on forums such as this, the majority of of people in Europe can tell the difference between an oppressive totalitarian regime and sensible policing measures. Go ask an East German aged 50 or older, they'll give you an exceptionally clear explanation.

In the past, when it's come to similar Europe / rest of the world vs the USA decisions (e.g. Apple choosing a phone standard for the first iPhone), there is form for American companies realising that the USA is too small a market (Apple chose GSM).

You're Calling for a Police State?

Putting more police on the streets seems wrong. What would you have them do? Stop every white van they see and ask the driver what their intentions are? Follow everyone who looks like they might have Middle Eastern ancestry everywhere to see what they're doing? Stop and search to see if they have a kitchen knife about their person? Sounds like you're calling for a police state. No thanks. No thanks at all.

Police on the streets are only any good for stopping crimes in the act of being committed, if they see it happening. Or for sweeping up the pieces afterwards.

What we need is to stop young kids being turned into brain dead wankers in the first place, and you're not going to achieve that by putting a load of bobbies on the beat. Arguably having more spooks is a part of that, and curiously enough I think they've been recruiting recently.

Another Way

Of course, the only reason why attacks like this happen at all is the vast amounts of publicity they generate. So stop publishing news stories about it.

This was done back in the late 1980s / early 1990s, when the IRA were calling in a load of hoax bomb warnings on the London Underground. The government forced the press and media to stop reporting the incidents, and the hoaxes dried up very quickly.

If the same level of blackout could be achieved for these attacks, they'd stop happening. Though in this day and age, and with the fatalities involved, it would be difficult. Still, it would be very effective, requires no technology or changes in how we live our lives, etc.

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Bixby bailout: Samsungers bailing on lame-duck assistant

bazza
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Re: But...

@M0rt,

Using voice to dial at home - can't get it to use speaker phone initially so have to pick it up anyway. So much for dialling when hands full/covered in oil etc.

Using voice to dial when bluetoothed to Supertooth Buddy in car. Dials and automatically puts it into speakerphone mode, not bluetooth headset.

This is exactly the kind of thing that has kept me on BlackBerry 10 for so long. It does things like talking to a Bluetooth headset and a Bluetooth audio streamer very well, in just the way I want it to. Voice dialling and subsequent phone call through the hands free, music to get audio streamer, no messing about.

And whilst their audio assistant might not be as all encompassing as Siri or Google's, it does the things I want to do by voice (i.e. dialling, navigation) perfectly well.

Despite being late to the party and now being almost dead, things like Bluetooth just work, and work in ways that the likes of Android just hasn't thought of yet.

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Amazon granted patent to put parachutes inside shipping labels

bazza
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This is Getting Out of Hand

Indeed, and I don't see what value Amazon think this patent adds to their idea.

If they're going to do delivery by drone, they're only going to be allowed to do so if the whole set up meets the requirements of the local aviation authorities. That means, amongst other things, that every aspect of drone flight, control and navigation is a safety critical system. We don't want drones buzzing around the place out of control, running out of battery power and landing on a motorway, crashing on to people, etc.

Given that here in the UK at least the whole remote drone / UAV community has effectively been told "your systems will have to be certified as safety critical", one does wonder why anyone is persisting with the idea. Achieving certification for things as madly complicated as this is going to be ludicrously expensive. Realisation will eventually dawn I'm sure, but not until after a lot of people who should know better have spent a lot of someone elses money on false pretences.

[Rabbit hole. When that realisation dawns it'll be very bad for the tech sector as a whole; if investors start thinking that the tech industry is leading them up the garden path with drone this, self-driving that, AI the next thing, then investment in tech could easily dry up altogether. There's a lot of money being poured into a lot of very ambitious projects that really have very little prospect of succeeding even if you did throw $billions at them, and investors will remember...]

However, if by some miracle they actually managed to achieve some sort of certification, they'd have produced a drone system that doesn't drop need to randomly drop packages by parachute, so they won't need it.

Pond

In fact, dropping something by 'chute sounds like a way of introducing uncontrollable randomness into where the package actually ends up, which can be only a bad thing. What's to stop the package drifting off and landing in, for example, my pond? Are they also planning on using IP68 packaging? I can't see how they'd make that simple to open...

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BA IT systems failure: Uninterruptible Power Supply was interrupted

bazza
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Ambitious...

"After a few minutes of this shutdown of power, it was turned back on in an unplanned and uncontrolled fashion"

That's got to count as one of the most ambitious attempts to switch something back on in the hope that no one will notice it ever got switched off in the first place.

Whoops!

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Toyota's entertaining the idea of Linux in cars

bazza
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There's also the simple matter of wiring, short circuits, earth faults, etc.

Separate modules with a direct connection to the thing they're controlling is easier to make reliable. Having a central brain with a longer wired connection to the things its controlling then means that the wiring loom's integrity and earth/chassis bonding is very important.

CAN bus is electrically very robust. Apparently you can short any one single conductor to ground, and the bus will continue to work perfectly well. The same cannot be said of Ethernet...

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bazza
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Re: Eggs

Indeed. The idea of one software system controlling the instrument binacle and the Internet connected infortainment system is, well, probably a little risky. You can smell the news articles about remote binnacle hacks coming from years away...

ARS Technica recently had an indepth review of various different systems used in cars today. Turns out that their most favourite ones were all based on QNX; seems that a proper real time OS is a very good idea in these things. A proper RTOS with decent context switch times means you can use cheaper hardware without compromising on response times. Trivial things like boot time matter. Get in your car, turn on, you want the radio working right then, you don't want some stupid Linux boot log scrolling past for 30 seconds...

Risk of GUI Lunacy

It takes a monumental amount of effort to layer a decent application / graphics environment on top of an OS / kernel. Look at how long the Gnome and KDE projects have been going, and how annoying the results can be even after all that time.

A car manufacturer is going to be super reluctant to use someone else's open source GUI environment - all it takes is for the project members to go crazy and suddenly your entire line of cars is sporting a stupid UI that no one actually likes. The Gnome project have done some woefully stupid things in recent times... Can you imagine waking up one morning to find that the latest update for your car has resulted in the same kind of UI downgrade that happened when Gnome went from 2.x to 3.x?

So I think it will take a long time to do something new with AGL. Android has already gone through a lot of development, and it's always going to be a tough choice between selling one's soul to Google and going it alone...

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bazza
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Re: Please keep it simple

Though a purely mechanical car is very appealing, you simply cannot get the same level of refinement without using software control. For example, every aspect of the combustion process is software controlled these days, meaning that you can get a smooth running, economic, responsive yet driveable engine that works well and starts well no matter what the climatic conditions are.

This shows up a lot in how smooth an engine sounds when it's idling. These days we take it for granted that most engines will purr smoothly when idling, yet achieving this with a caburetour whilst also having good throttle response is difficult. Traditionally the smoothness came about in part from having a decently heavy flywheel, which would give the engine poor throttle response. Nowadays you don't need anything like as much weight in the flywheel. The ECU can smooth out the engine's idling by having very good and fast control of air and fuel delivery to individual cylinders in the engine on a stroke by stroke basis, so that it runs bang on 850rpm even if the underlying mechanical tendancy would be for the engine to idle poorly.

Diesels in particular, loathsome though many consider them to be, are significantly better because of the software control. Generally speaking they inject many pulses of fuel into a cyclinder at TDC, which improves combustion efficiency and smoothness. If you compare any modern diesel to an old diesel - well, the noise difference speaks volumes.

Complicated? Yes, definitely.

Impressive? Certainly.

Essential? Well, if we want to use less fuel without engaging in dramatic, far reaching and controversial national socio-economic discussions about transportation, housing and employment policy and how there should be more trains/trams and fewer roads/cars, most definitely yes. Say what you like about ecofriendliness, but from a purely economic point of view finding a way to use less fuel going forward sounds like spending less of our money on buying the thick, gloopy black stuff. We can all be keen on that, unless you're one of Trumps current crop of best pals.

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Nest leaves competition in the dust with new smart camera

bazza
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Re: Sigh ...

Amazon's Echo has been remarkably popular for similar reasons. Old people like helpful tech that can call son/daughter, take photos of visitors, etc.

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Event horizons around black holes do exist, say astroboffins

bazza
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Re: Clever Chap, Einstein

Symon,

It's remarkable how Newton's laws of motion describe the world around us. The 17th century was truly the age of enlightenment.

Agreed. Newton's achievement was getting so close, and Einstein's was showing exactly (as in a quantifiable measure of closeness) how close Newton had come.

Which of them was the cleverest? Well Newton went on to run the Royal Mint, so he quite literally showed how the universe worked (nearly), and then got a license to mint cash. That's a whole different type of cleverness...

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bazza
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Re: Clever Chap, Einstein

@dan1980,

Yes that's my (imperfect) understanding too. Gravity makes a mess of the whole thing...

I saw a really good explanation of how magnetism was down to the effects of relativity on the quantum mechanical behaviour of electrons (and other charged particles). Can't for the life of me remember who gave it, might have been vsauce or veritassium.

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bazza
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Re: I'm relieved to hear that

Why, what have you disposed of in our local cosmic refuse basket, and why do you not want to see it again?!

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bazza
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Re: These theories are all over the place!

Ah, similar to the Dirk Gently approach to problem solving.

It worked for him!

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bazza
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Clever Chap, Einstein

It's remarkable how well both relativity and quantum mechanics describe the world around us. The early part of the 20th century was truly a great time for science.

However, I take a lot of comfort from the knowledge that relativity and quantum mechanics still disagree. That's a good thing. It means that there's some other, even more monumental idea out there that fully explains both. I know there's a few ideas for that floating around, but whoever nails it will be owed something more grand than the Nobel physics prize...

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WebAssembly fandom kills Google's Portable Native Client

bazza
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Has Anyone...

...implemented a Web browser inside a WebAssembly yet? I'm sure that would create a black hole somehow...

Whilst part of me quite likes the look of Web Assembly, another part of me is saying, "Oh no, not another client side arbitrary code execution environment". The recent unwinding of operating system ASLR in Javascript is surely a trick that can also be pulled off in Web Assembly, but probably faster. For both JS and WA this is certainly something to be thought about quite carefully...

Nonetheless it seems like a sensible way to allow sane languages to be used as part of Web apps, and is very welcome. Are we going to see the return of the Java applet, done properly?!

It strikes me that there's a whole class of process missing from operating systems. All that these sand boxing technologies are trying to do is stand up a process that cannot do various things (access storage, etc). Surely in this day and age we'd be better off having a sandbox process as an operating system object, not something that a browser has implemented for itself? That would be useful for a whole variety of things, not just Web browsers.

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Done and done: BlackBerry ties up $940m settlement with Qualcomm

bazza
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Re: Big pile of cash

If you're referring to CDMA and CDMA2000, Yes they did create those (building on other pre-existing ideas, just like everyone else did), but CDMA2000 and it's slavish copy UMTS were "A Bad Idea", really. Only the Japanese and Australians managed to make the most of 3G.

And I'm not sure how much input QC have had into LTE... The Europeans have been very strong in creating good standards. There was a definite feeling that LTE was going to be it, and there was no way the USA / Qualcomm could plough it's own path.

Snapdragon has been a very good thing indeed - I'm using one right now, on a BlackBerry Z30..

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'Do not tell Elon': Ex-SpaceX man claims firm cut corners on NASA part tests

bazza
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I think that if one's concerns are of a safety nature (e.g rocket blowing up and killing people) then one would be looking for a more guaranteed information source than the company's servers.

I'd be retaining my own lawyer and lodging printed letters, emails and data with them as well as keeping contemporaneous notes. It's a "proper" place, so you can't be completely accused of mishandling company information. And your lawyer can attest to dates, content, etc.

Doing that before seeking how the company responds to the bad news you're able to raise with them means that you already have your evidence stashed.

Expensive, but remember that a result of a fatal accident inquiry is that one might get a charge of negligence pinned against one, and being able to make that go away quickly and easily is an imperative; you need another job, fast!

That's not something that one wants to entrust to a discovery process involving data that management may be trying to track down and destroy... No data looks bad, but it is also their word vs yours, and there’s more of them.

There's engineers in VW who probably wish they'd done this...

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'President Zuck' fundraiser opens for business

bazza
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Re: "Silicon Valley plutocrats"

"At least Gates has just got on with spending his money in places that can use it."

I've had to seriously re-evaluate my opinion of Gates. Politician, or serious philanthropist aiming to help the very poorest out there? I think he's chosen wisely.

And with the way Trump is heading, Gates might be all that's left of the American overseas aid effort.

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Walkers' Crisps pulls backfiring Tweet campaign that paired Gary Lineker and a bunch of nasties

bazza
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Re: Fucky McFuckface

Shouldn't they have been put on a spaceship by now?

How do you think they got here in the first place?

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Google wants to track your phone and credit card through meatspace

bazza
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Re: Targeted advertising?

Maybe not, but you're still paying for it all through the price of goods you buy. About £200 for each wage earner per year in the UK for online advertising.

If you buy brand X, and that's advertised anywhere, you are paying for that advertising. And what isn't advertised at least somewhere...

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bazza
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Re: What Ads... What Shops?

1: I never look at ads

2: I have never bought anything because of an ad I saw...

One thing missing. As a consumer you have paid for the ad whether of not you saw it. For example, if you buy a particular brand of washing powder, you are contributing to the cost of the advertising of that brand regardless of whether you saw the ad or not.

All told, Internet advertising costs each UK bread winner about £200 a year regardless of what phone they have and what ads they see (UK online advertising is about £7billion per year). Would you pay £200 per year to use Google's services? Sounds quite expensive to me for what you get...

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bazza
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Re: What Ads... What Shops?

yeah because the poor schmuck trying to make a living needs to have his/her day improved by twunts like you.

Supply and demand. Employees are paid that way because the shops think it increases sales. A customer strike will change their minds very, very rapidly or they go out of business. Like Comet did. Shopping there was just horrible.

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bazza
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Re: Google may be afraid someone is about to discover the king is naked...

It kinda doesn't matter. If your competitors advertise, you advertise yourself to keep the playing field level. It doesn't matter if it's all bollocks, no one is prepared to risk not advertising...

What Google has done is to massively expand the number of advertising opportunities. Before Google there were only so many bill boards, TV programs magazines and newspapers to place ads in. It was saturated.

Google simply extended the dimensions of the playing field, and keeps creating new ones (search, maps, mail, Android, etc). Not for nothing is it called advertising blackmail...

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bazza
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Oh for Pity's Sake

1. Privacy

Here in the UK, the reason we have loyalty cards is because it is illegal for stores to tie purchase information (e.g. who you are and what you bought) to your credit card details. A loyalty card comes with T&Cs that specifically allow the store to do this.

I can't see how on earth Google getting round that could ever be considered legal. Anonymised, my arse.

2. Irony

Given that stores are, quite often, also customers of advertising agencies, why on earth would they ever want to participate in this? It sounds like a way of paying/helping Google to cook up a only slightly-less-than-phoney reason for putting their advert prices up.

3. Turf Takeover?

Also it seems like a way for Google to get the same kind of data that the store loyalty cards collect, only more so. Surely this is diluting the value of the store's own collected data? I mean, the contents of one's grocery shop can surely be used to mine information about what sort of mood different types of customer are in, and that is valuable data that the supermarket can aggregate and sell.

However if Google can generate that kind of data nationwide, through the back door, their version of this type of data is going to be far more comprehensive than any one single chain of stores, who then won't be able to find a secondary market for the data they already collect. And tailored advertising can be pushed to specific people, based on everything they've ever bought anywhere by any means. No thanks.

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Google leak-hunting team put under unwelcome spotlight

bazza
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Re: Irony?

@Charlie Clark,

"Not really. All employment contracts have confidentiality clauses and if your business is mainly around IP then you need your employees to understand that careless talk costs jobs as the recent...

Right, but how many times has Google declined to take down / de-index leaked data because "it is in the public interest"? I'd guess loads of times.

The problem with the big tech companies is that they want to be seen as private concerns with all the privacy rights that come along with that status. But really they're performing a very public role these days and are gathering a vast amount of data on all members of the public regardless of whether or not they actually use the company services (Android's collection of caller ID information, Facebook's tagging / tracking of all faces, regardless of whether they belong to Facebook users, etc.). That is a very quasi-governmental level of data acquisition, except that it's all done for the benefit of their shareholders, not the tax payer.

Given that out of the ordinary status, perhaps their internal affairs, corruptions, and issues should be more in the public domain. After all, given some of the things we here about Si Valley (misogyny, sexism, ageism, abuses of employment law, etc), why should companies performing such a major public function be allowed to hide that all away? If a government department carried on its affairs in the same way there'd be a tremendous political scandal. And so there should be for companies processing our data with / without our permission.

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No nudity please, we're killing ourselves: Advice to Facebook mods leaks

bazza
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Re: Can't satisfy everyone

...no system scales to billions of users across thousands of cultures.

Indeed, and of course that's no excuse. Facebook cannot be allowed to use the argument "we're too big to do anything". Size does not excuse illegality. Global presence is not a reason to impose US derived moral mono-culture. If they have based their entire business model on doing just that and don't like the idea of that being destroyed, hard cheese.

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The real battle of Android's future – who controls the updates

bazza
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Kernel Version?

I do wonder what this all means for the continued use of Linux underneath Android. Keeping proprietary drivers up to date within Linux can occasionally be a bit of burden. I've no problem with that; no one has the right to tell the Linux community to freeze their device driver interfaces, it's their software after all.

However, I can see this new initiative doing is making it even harder for Android to move on to more recent kernels. Being able to easily keep up with the fast rate of kernel development is kinda essential - no one wants to be left back-porting security patches forever more.

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bazza
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Re: @S4qFBxkFFg - Google can't pull a Microsoft on handset makers (yet)

Google on the other hand, conquered their market share by offering Android for free and even encouraging handset makers to customize it (at least in the beginning).

Android, or at least any meaningful version of it, is not free. You need the Google Play Services binary, and that comes with strings attached. It's one of the reasons they're being investigated by the EU.

Microsoft made OS updates work on Windows Mobile by defining a minimum hardware standards. It was largely successful in that regard.

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Britain shouldn't turn its back on EU drone regs, warns aerospace boffin

bazza
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Re: Here be snowflakes...

@Phil Lord

Still, on a positive side, it's not just aviation where we have this problem. Also, medicines and medical practice, clinical trials, chemicals, engineering, education, telecoms.

Indeed, and it's exactly this kind of mess that was inevitable as soon as the EEC went from being a largely technical standards / trade organisation to one that tied them in with politics and money (immigration, human rights, Euro, etc) too and got renamed as the EU. Big mistake. Can you imagine the mess if ISO membership suddenly required going along with all American laws and politics?

As it happens there's plenty of other European countries talking about a "withdrawal from within", which basically seems to mean ditching the political and maybe financial aspects of the EU without actually formally saying that's what they've done. Even Macron has said that perhaps the whole EU thing needs to be reconsidered. So there a good chance that things will get sorted out.

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US court decision will destroy the internet, roar Google, Facebook et al

bazza
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Re: Takedown doesn't work

Yep, that's about the size of it.

It all comes back to the social networks not wanting to know who their users actually are. They make a lot of money out of users posting content that, really, they shouldn't. Users only post it in the first place because they know that most of the time they can get away with it, even for stuff that is criminally illegal (harassment on Twitter, terrorist material, paedophilia), not merely copyrighted.

If the social networks made users hand over proof of legal i.d. (for example through a financial transaction), then a whole lot of illegal and copyrighted material simply wouldn't be posted in the first place, thus removing the bulk of the problem. However they know that a lot of people just won't bother using the networks in the first place. Pay Facebook for the privilege of them knowing from exactly who they're slurping? No thanks. And then their business goes away. The free to use spontaneity of it matters a lot.

However, if they stopped slurping, and charged a small fee (like WhatsApp used to), actually offered a good service, it might work. It might be a better option than actually being held responsible for the illegal and copyrighted material users post...

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'The last thing I want is a software dev taking control of my craft'

bazza
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Re: yeah "localised traffic management monopolies"

One beneficial aspect of the rail franchises is that the crazy industrial dispute on Southern cannot legally become a national rail strike.

Sorry, not much comfort I know.

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bazza
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At that point the CAA’s lead for UAS, Mike Gadd, stood up.

“Under the current legislative regime, the pilot is the commander legally responsible for flight. Issuing instructions to change the aircraft’s attitude in flight means you are now responsible. The level of integrity, compliance and certification required has just changed because [your software] is flying the aircraft,” he said.

I very much like the sound of Mike Gadd. There needs to be more people like him, and have them in charge of stuff, or at least having a Minister following their every recommendations to the letter.

The same home truth needs to be rammed into the numb skulls behind many (all?) of the self driving cars projects. As Tesla have found, there's no such thing as a semi-self-driving car. Either the driver is required to keep their hands on the wheel with their eyes open and on the road, or the manufacturer is liable for the car's every action. No grey, it kinda works half arsed solutions should be allowed.

The problem that Google, etc. have is that they're never going to prove that their self driving car is reliable. They might have a bunch of statistics, but thanks to the rigour enforced by the State of California we all know that those statistics aren't that great.

The problem we have with the hipster wankery that is self driving cars is that most people, including Ministers, think they know what driving is all about. A large part of the public is all for self driving cars, and there is definitely a market demand. Thus a Minister's opinion and actions are heavily pressurised by public opinion and a smooth talking Google exec. We rely on the Minister's sanity and willingness to ignore that influence and make decisions made on reasoned advice.

Thankfully, at least here in the UK, almost no one knows about flying in quite the same every day visceral way. There is unlikely to be a wave of public opinion demanding use of slick looking cool stuff to control drones / UAVs, and so the firm advice of someone like Mike Gadd is, effectively, law.

And so it comes down to this; if you're developing software that performs a safety-critical job, making it shiny is not going to result in it being licensed for use. A lot of these projects seem to be concentrating on the shiny-shiny hey look it nearly works cool stuff, whilst ignoring the cold, hard facts of compliance with the law and regulatory frameworks. And if they don't address those problems, they're just pouring someone else's money down the plug hole.

I wonder if the investors are listening to people like Mike Gadd? They should do. They're being taken for a ride (pun not intended) by engineers who should know better. How does this come about?

State Registration of Engineers

The profession of Engineering is not regulated in the same way as, say, being a medical Doctor. A doctor is legally empowered to make decisions about what happens to other people, and legally responsible for the consequence. An engineer (except a civil engineer), is not. Worse still anyone can call themselves "engineer" even if they have no charter confirming that.

Thus an engineer developing a self driving car can say "it's works" without actually having to legally justify that; others are responsible for actually making the assessment as to whether it works well enough, or not. An engineer's statement on the matter has no more legal weight than my Granny's.

The problem is that engineers, or people who call themselves engineers, like to put themselves forward as having some kind of authoritative role in society. "I'm a shit hot software engineer working in the self driving car industry, you should believe what I say (but don't read the EULA)". In my entire engineering career I've spent most of the time desperately trying not to do that, at least not until "it" really is working. Fortunately I've never had to work on a truly safety critical system. And I am a chartered engineer.

It's different in Germany and (AFAIK) France where engineers (and the use of the title) are regulated by law. If a software or hardware engineer says "this works" and they are a registered engineer, it will come back to them if they were making it up, as has been the case in the VW scandal.

I think it is no coincidence that German and French engineering is, by and large, superb, and largely devoid of the bullshit aspects of "engineering" that is common in at the moment.

The sooner Parliament passes similar legislation here, the better.

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Comey was loathed by the left, reviled by the right – must have been doing something right

bazza
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Re: Comey was a coward for not throwing Hilldog under the bus

And Condolessa Rice as well -- she also used a private server!!

Trump and his cronnies have continued using their own email servers now that they're in public office. Seems that there's a general inability amongst politicians to transfer their contacts lists between the private servers they use when they're campaigning and the government ones they're supposed to use once they're sworn in.

This kind of thing is almost inevitable in the US political system. They swap out the entire executive staff, so there can be almost no one in a new administration who really, truly understands national security, the demands of public service, the vulnerabilities of being part of the Administration, the level of attention their lives and work are going to attract from the entire world's hostile intelligence agencies, and the appalling inability of the everyday things that they're used to using (mobiles, land lines, email servers, the lot) to resist attention from foreign spies.

There's probably a few security staff on the permanent payroll who somehow have to convince hundreds of brand new political appointees that there really is a significant risk. And they have maybe 0.5 hours to achieve that. Sounds like an impossible task...

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For now, GNU GPL is an enforceable contract, says US federal judge

bazza
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It is not a contract, at least not in the UK. A contract absolutley has to have an exchange (e.g. £1) to bind it. No money, no contract. There's no monetary exchange when you download GPL code.

There used to be Gentlemen's Agreements, centuries ago. If a man (and it had to be a man, not a woman) gave their word, it was enforcable. This meant, amongst other things, that proposing marriage to a woman was a binding promise. If the fellow reneged on the promise, he'd have to pay up. When the law was changed and Gentlemen's Agreements were dropped, engagement rings became the financial guarantee of compensation for the woman if the man changed his mind.

Having said that, I certainly don't support ignoringGPL; someone has gone to a lot of effort to create some software, it would be churlish indeed to ignore their wishes.

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bazza
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Re: That doesn't matter

But the thing is, South Korea IS signatory to the Berne Convention, MAKING it enforceable.

Enforceable perhaps, but where? I'm not sure the GPL defines which jurisdiction... US law does not have any meaning outside the USA, not matter what Americans think.

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Oracle crushed in defeat as Java world votes 'No' to modular overhaul

bazza
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Re: Rules of thumb

"every malloc and free maps on to an OS call" - not true. No version of unix has ever done that. It would be unusably slow.

Well, maybe not for a long time. A long time ago every new allocation needed a call to sbrk...

OpenBSD makes OS calls for anything over page size. Anything under a page size is drawn from a pool of already allocated /recycled pages. It uses mmap instead of sbrk. They get some very nice benefits from doing so, e.g. most allocations have unmapped pages adjacent - free buffer overrun protection. And it allows ASLR to apply to data too, so the layout of data within one's program is randomised. Freed memory does not come back to haunt the program. And realloc stands a good chance of not requiring a copy to be performed.

Ok, so it's perhaps not as fast as jemalloc, but for some it has desirable properties.

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bazza
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Re: Sun was always a little arrogant about Java

I'll bite :)

"If it did not exist we would still have to use archaic rubbish like C++"

Oi, stop dissing C++!

Ok, so there's a decades long history behind C++ that has not been removed, some of the template and stl stuff is 'orrible. However if one makes careful and disciplined use of shared pointers and runs it on top of a memory allocator like GLIBC's ptmalloc, it's pretty hard to beat.

I've written really quite large programmes in C++ that don't use the "delete" keyword anywhere at all and have zero memory leaks (according to valgrind), everything is done with shared pointers. And it's fast.

One of my favourites blends stl queues with ZeroMQ, it pushes shared pointers through the stl queue but uses ZMQ for it's distribution patterns (PUSH/PULL in this case) to decide which thread is going to read the shared pointer off the queue. Hmmm, I think I can hear people curling up in horror...

Personally speaking though I think the days of C++ are passing. Rust in particular stands a very good chance indeed of replacing it. Being a completely new language means they can throw away all the decades of cruftiness that a language like C++ has to support, and build a nice language with some very high level ideas (things like automatic memory management) without the need for a bloaty horrible thing like a garbage collector thread. There's even rumblings of a project to re-write Linux in Rust!

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bazza
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Re: Rules of thumb

And you're right about Solaris too - not too bad, although it was considered to be slow enough that it was often called Slowlaris.

It depends on what aspect of it you think is slow. As far as I recall, the memory allocator in the C runtime on Solaris is of the old school - every malloc and free maps on to an OS call. Very BSD. But there's nothing preventing use of a GLIBC style memory allocator.

If one does that there's no particular reason why code running on Solaris would be slower than anything else on the same hardware.

If one considers the wider system aspects, I know that the Linux world has worked very hard on getting mutexes working faster, and Linus has always steered the philosophy of the scheduler towards throughput over everything else. That's pretty good. However it's only comparatively recently that Linux got rid of the big kernel lock. There's also a growing acknowledgment that the Linux network stack is a bad idea speed-wise, but it's such a massive change to do anything about it I can't see it happening. The BSDs of this world, which put the stack in user land, is the way to go. AFAIK Linux is the only OS to put a network stack in the kernel. Windows? No. Mac OS? No. *BSD? No. VxWorks, INTEGRITY? No. QNX? Dunno, probably not. See what I mean?.

So if one's code is heavy on the mutexes, threads and IO one would see, or would have seen, a difference.

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bazza
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Re: Rules of thumb

Don't forget ZFS. Now that really is a tremendous piece of software, and Sun had the kindness to give it away. It's certainly one of the jewels in Sun's crown. You don't even need to run it to know it, a good indicator is the extent of the row in the Linux world as to whether it can be included in distros or not, or replicated.

I do have sympathy with the need to be able to override committee members that are merely representing their own narrow interests. I'm not qualified to comment on the merits of the arguments in this particular case, but from reading the article I suspect that Red Hat are trying to defend an investment in their own code that kinda achieves something similar. Have I got that right? It sounds like there's something about what they've got that is going to cause problems (ie it's a developmental blind ally, or is encumbered in some way, or is simply incompatible with what everyone else wants to). If so then the Java world does need a way of putting Red Hat in their place.

Perhaps Oracle could have gone about things differently, but if there is a burning need to correct some deep structural problem then there's little sense in delaying matters. Even if that breaks a few things along the way. Fragmentation will do no one any favours, and the Java community really should strive to avoid that. Stagnation won't help either. Doing one's own thing outside of the prevailing consensus runs the risk of making it difficult for everyone.

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Microsoft's Windows 10 ARM-twist comes closer with first demonstration

bazza
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Microsoft's Windows 10 ARM-twist comes closer with first demonstration

First demonstration? We've been here before...

Those of us with memories longer than the current crop of MS management will remember MS showing Windows 7 + Office + an Epson printer driver recompiled for ARM running perfectly well on an ARM dev board at a trade show back in, 2008-ish?

Great, we all thought, they're going to do fat binaries, support ARM for desktop and servers, brilliant idea, early days of course but it can only get better (speed, software availability, etc), hooray for low power data centres, laptops, that'll all emerge as soon as the chip guys catch on.

And they turned it into Windows RT, and the whole sorry saga of WinPhone, Windows 8, etc.

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America 'will ban carry-on laptops on flights from UK, Europe to US'

bazza
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Re: In their defense (sic)

Doesn't make any real difference. Even a small piece of any decent high explosive will release an unbelievably huge amount of energy, and stands a good chance of setting a fire (especially with all those lithium ion batteries mixed in) even if the fuselage does hold together.

Some work has been done on reinforced (kevlar, etc) luggage crates, but it's the usual story; cost, weight.

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Microsoft's .NET-mare for developers: ASP.NET Core 2.0 won't work on Windows-only .NET

bazza
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Re: Technology

The T word is what happens when the marketing types are running the show. They assume that their own knowledge of these things is all that their audience needs to know, and they've long since brushed over the complexity of the software world with the T word.

Are we talking about an ordinary pissed off badger, or a properly irritated honey badger?

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US Air Force networks F-15 and F-22 fighters – in flight!

bazza
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Re: "That's a huge pod. In a day when cellphones are a couple of ounces, why is that so big?"

@SkippyBing,

"the Jaguar and Lightning"

<Obligatory Queen Quote>

Very very frigthening Gallileo Gallileo etc.

</Obligatory Queen Quote>

On the Lightening they put the pylons above because there was no where else to put anything. The underside of the wing was taken up by the main landing gear, the fuselage was all fuel and engines without so much as a cubic inch left over for anything else (including maintenance engineer's fingers...). Awesome plane, still holds some records that will likely remain unbeaten.

Who Needs AWACS?

With networking like this you don't need AWACS quite so much. It's a trick the RAF did a lot of early work on with Link 16 on Tornados, and were embarassed at least some parts of the USAF in a joint exercise until the USAF asked them to go home and stop doing it...

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