* Posts by Alan Brown

8673 posts • joined 8 Feb 2008

Nine months and a lot more b*llocks to go before new EU data protection rules kick in

Alan Brown
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" (I recently lodged a complaint with the ICO about HSBC for doing exactly that)."

the other no-no is to honour an unsubscribe (or opt out) and then opt the person back in again a couple of years later

I'm looking at YOU Asda.

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Alan Brown
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"On some occasions, consent can be obtained contractually."

In such cases it must be clear and provide an opt out, not buried down on page 23.

Otherwise the unfair terms in contracts laws should apply.

But this is england, so they can get away with anything

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Scumbag who tweeted vulnerable adults' details is hauled into court

Alan Brown
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If Snufflepuff is correct

Then Surrey Police have seriously misrepresented the case to the court in order to cover up their incompetence (not unusual in my experience) AND the ICO has gone along with it (The ICO has a credulity issue, often resulting in cases taking many times longer to solve than they should because they keep believing what the officials tell them when there's evidence to the contrary and pretty much have to have that evidence rubbed in their faces.)

The outcome of a case like this (which appears to be 'someone's attempted to whistleblow and demanded action or he'd hand it to the media') might not be what the ICO and Surrey Police were expecting.

IE: In future cases someone might skip the whistleblowing stage and simply go straight to the media, explaining how it got circulated around unauthorised persons and those with no justification to possess it before falling into his hands.

One assumes there was a world class "public defender" appointed by the court and there's no way of appealing.

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Airbus warns it could quit A380 production

Alan Brown
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Re: Spaceplane carrier

"SR 71 /D21 excluded for good reasons"

Actually that should be included as a good example of why piggyback launches are a bad idea.

Mind you the seaplanes which used the concept in the 1930s worked ok.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Rune reading again ...

China's HSR network is hellaciously impressive, but people forget that China is physically as large as the USA lower 48 states.

There's a need for _even faster_ transport when even HSR can take 8-10 hours to get from end to end and China's taking the long view on this (which is that groundbased transportation uses less energy than aircraft and can be electrically powered from nuclear plants) - if there's sufficient traffic to justify building that groundbased ultra-fast-rail then they'll do it.

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Alan Brown
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MAS was a dispirited airline in deep financial shit, which had had a bunch of serious incidents in the maintenance shops, including a fire caused by a discarded cigarette in a no smoking area that destroyed a lot of paper records.

In the weeks leading up to MH370 there were a bunch of serious safety incidents on various flights. Basically their safety was compromised for months and things finally bit them.

As for that flight - even if the flight recorders are recovered it's entirely possible the exact cause may never be discerned. Noone had anticipated an incident which could disable the crew and leave the aircraft flying for 6-8 hours afterwards, even after the Air Hellas flight showed it can happen.

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Alan Brown
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Re: 380b?

"Datsun's original production run began in 1931. "

The marketing story back in the 70s and 80s was that the original Nissan car was called the DAT (initials of the founders) and the next model was the "Son of DAT", aka Datson and they chose Datsun as looking stylistically better as well as alluding to the land of the rising sun. (which is also where the Sunny name is supposedly derived from)

https://www.nissan-global.com/EN/HERITAGE/short_story/en_p05-01.html

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Alan Brown
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Re: Poor choice of words..gives Emirates the opportunity to squeeze the hell out of Airbus.

"don't forget the work into synthetic fuel production"

I'm not. It's unlikely to end up costing less than $300/barrel simply because if it's not done with algae then it's competing with food production (eg, jatophra) and there's not enough space in the agricultural market for that to be more than niche production.

In the long term we're going to need a nuclear economy - preferably molten salt for safety (20 years to commercialise) until fusion is ready (I think 100-150 years to commercialise, realistically) - and if you have molten salt nuclear tech then you have the heat to run a haber process to crack water to H2 and enough energy to tack on carbon atoms for easy handling whilst you're at it (ie, carbon neutral kerosene).

Carbon emissions are already well past the 2C tipping point and we're on track for 4C - the real danger isn't sea level rises though. People can move. Ocean acidification blowing the food chains apart and/or an anoxic event dropping global atmospheric oxygen levels down to 12-15% is the real thing to worry about. Our hungry brains can't handle low oxygen levels and our cardiopulmonary system tends to clog up if exposed to prolonged low oxygen levels, as the primary human body response is to increase haemoglobin levels by thickening the blood - which makes it much harder to pump around.

When you look at it that way, the chinese government's crash program of investigating every alternative to carbon and building a shedload of PWR/CANDU nukes in the meantime makes sense - whatever they find that works will need to be made available to developing countries at low cost as they can more than make up the any reductions the developed countries may make. Human nature means that when the shit hits the fan it will already be too late to make reductions vs going cold turkey. If/when LFTRs are ready they can eat the PWR waste.

It'd be even better and things would proceed faster if everyone put aside their differences and concentrated on getting LFTR/MSRs out the door asap. Whilst they have some downsides they're not as big a set of downsides as PWR nuclear power and we can't afford to sit around procrastinating.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Why not a cargo version

"On the A380 you would have a whole upper deck that would remain empty "

Actually the freighter plans include stuff going up there, just not much of it and not the heavy items.

The bigger problem is the lack of a nose door.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Why not a cargo version

"Not everywhere is next to a ocean port. "

Which is one of the reasons that China is heavily concentrating effort into a Silk rail system into Europe/Africa _without_ the pesky gauge changing at the russian borders.

(The other is that without the delays from regauging, it's almost as fast as flying for 1/100 the cost)

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Alan Brown
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Re: Rune reading again ...

"An A380 service between Peking and the Pearl River Delta could still make sense."

Assuming that China doesn't deploy hyperloop on/under/outrigging the existing HS lines for the longer-haul routes.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Rune reading again ...

"HS2 will be an object lesson in how not to build high speed rail."

Starting with the absurd decision not to built it out from Manchester & Birmingham simultaneously. By the time they got near the Chilterns the planning bunfight would be settled and it could be linked into london whilst the northern legs would have been running for several years.

Quality British Planning. Quality British Design, Quality British Service. You have to wonder if the people responsible for this shit spent time in Biritish Leyland manglement before graduating to fucking up railway system deployments.

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Alan Brown
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The middle eastern airlines are ideally placed to use A380s out of a gulf-based central location.

Other airlines, not so much.

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Alan Brown
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"Malaysia's are in poor condition as they can't make the sums work"

That has little to do with the aircraft and a lot to do with the airiline. MAS was struggling and in deep shit for long enough that MH370 (and a bunch of earlier critical safety incidents) happened _because_ of it, not the other way around.

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Alan Brown
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Re: 380b?

Nissan rebadged the Datsuns for the same reason that Mitsubishi rebadged themselves from Colt in some markets - worldwide consistency in marketing.

In both cases the "brands" that were being used were originally car model names that non-japanese distributors decided to use as brands for various reasons.

Personally I preferred the Datsun Insult.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Poor choice of words..gives Emirates the opportunity to squeeze the hell out of Airbus.

" it was that the market wasn't big enough for a second option."

Which is exactly the reason that the L1011 and DC10/11 failed and took the manufacturers with them.

The difference is that the A380 is a halo craft of a range being sold and the farm isn't being bet on it. Airbus can afford to keep it as a low volume item as its presence sells the smaller birds.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Poor choice of words..gives Emirates the opportunity to squeeze the hell out of Airbus.

"I had the misfortune to fly an Air France A380 from Paris to Miami . "

You mean you had the misfortune to fly Air France. BTDTGTTS - they're awful no matter which aircraft they may plonk you on.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Poor choice of words..gives Emirates the opportunity to squeeze the hell out of Airbus.

"There is little to no demand for A380 sized airliners and demand will never pick up."

There are specific niches for them, especially as most major airlines have retired 747s over the last 5 years. bear in mind that the market for large transports is so low that only ~1600 747s have ever been built (compare with a combined backlog of more than 12,000 aircraft on the 737+A320 lines)

Fuel prices have been amazingly low for the last decade and are showing signs of coming back up. I was expecting oil to snap through $200/barrel when the price wars finally stopped - that hasn't happened but it's likely to, at which point economy minded fliers will gravitate to the hub+spoke model and forgo the time savings.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Poor choice of words..gives Emirates the opportunity to squeeze the hell out of Airbus.

" the first Singapore A380s have gone in for a refresher."

Bear in mind that the first few A380s off the assembly line were overweight due to the wiring hassles. They're more likely to end up as freighters than to return to revenue passenger service (which should result in them being a bit lighter)

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Alan Brown
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Re: Poor choice of words..gives Emirates the opportunity to squeeze the hell out of Airbus.

"747-8 remains in production"

But I think you'll find it difficult to place an order for any more to be added to the queue unless you buy a bunch of them and don't mind waiting 6 years.

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Destroying the city to save the robocar

Alan Brown
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Most of the problem:

"Dealing with pedestrians safely is difficult, expensive, and culturally alien to the nerds building the cars;"

Is because the nerds building the cars are living and have grown up in countries where car is king and pedestrians aren't allowed to step onto the road.

The rest of the world isn't like that.

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Wait, what? The Linux Kernel Mailing List archives lived on ONE PC? One BROKEN PC?

Alan Brown
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Re: Oh, come on now!

"cheap RAID card"

This is Linux. md-raid is generally faster and more robust than dedicated raid controllers.

Anyway, it wasn't the disk (no mention if it was raided), it was the motherboard.

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Alan Brown
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"then there was an earthquake"

I'd just purchased about 100MB of ram for about $40/Mb

3 days later the company I'd bought it off phoned up and offered 3 times what I'd paid them for it.

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Why did top Home Office civil servant lobby Ofcom for obscure kit ban?

Alan Brown
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One of the more interesting questions

Given the EU has explicitly said gateway devices are legal, what happens if someone operates one and it gets to court?

Judges have an interesting knack for seeing through handwaving such as "national security" without actual proof being provided, especially when something has been declared explicitly legal throughout the EU. Even if given "proof" they're likely to simply tell the spooks to up their game.

It would be amusing to see Ofcom handed its ass on a platter (and i suspect they'd rather avoid that)

One might ask if Philip Rutnam has ties to the mobile phone companies in addition to the possible spook angles. (It may be a simpler explanation)

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Alan Brown
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"It also bombarded us with phone calls and emails demanding we delete Dine's name from the story, on the grounds that he is "too junior" to be named."

It would be amusing to release recordings and the emails.

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

Alan Brown
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Re: Really, I think sheep just following!

"How about going around corner and pedestrians just walking over road,"

How does a human cope with that? (hint: as a rule, the answer is "badly" and tends to rely on those pedestrians getting out of the way if they know what's healthy.)

One of the things that humans tend to forget that as well as the posted speed limits, the law in most countries specifies that the vehicle must be able to stop in the _clear_ distance of road lane ahead. (or half that if there's no centreline as it's a shared lane). Rule 105 of the uk highway code, restated in a number of other places with specific warnings about fog, snow and icy conditions.

Why do you think that a machine with a vision/radar system will be sailing around a blind bend at an unsafe speed? Just because the locals do it, doesn't make it safe and I see 3-4 crashes per year on the country lanes I commute to work on which can be clearly blamed on drivers ignoring this basic road rule.

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Alan Brown
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Re: POLITICS is driving the driverless car

"The public cars will end up like public pay phones - filthy, vandalized, and inoperative"

Public pay phones with clearly visible surveillance cameras seldom get treated this way and installing the same things into elevators has had a remarkable effect on vandalism levels. What makes you think that a public car isn't going to have an array of cameras along with things like glass-break/scratch sensors and moisture/damage sensors in the seats plus the facility to upload on the fly when most taxis and busses already have this stuff?

My pick is that when damage is detected the car will alert an operator to check the cams and from there call Mr Plod & trundle itself along to the nearest station/patrol car and that wee scrotes who think it's funny to carve their initials in shop/train/bus/parked car windows or tear up the seats will suffer a rude shock. Some operators in some areas may simply trundle the car to meet Fat Tony and the Boys, which is likely to result in an even more drastic reduction in damage to property as scrotes are likely to discover that a second offense is hazardous to their health.

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Alan Brown
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Pranksters seldom bother hiding themselves.

Wearing all black at night and masking up too is a criminal offence in large parts of the world for obvious reasons, and I don't mean at political protests.

Doing it and attacking a safety system moves from prank to "With malice aforethought" as far as prosecutors are concerned. They'll treat it in the same way they treat interfering with a car's brake lines.

Dazzlers exist, but you're doing to light up like a christmas tree on every CCTV in the vicinity, meaning that tracking where you came from and where you went is easy - either after the event or by live operators if you're in Europe, Urban USA, China and most cities around the world - you're likely to find yourself treated as a terrorist when apprehended too.

A lot of CCTV systems have specific alarm settings for dazzlers or something masking the camera, so doing either will likely get you noticed even faster than if you just wore a mask. (hint: if you try walking into a bank with a dazzler active, you can expect the shutters to come down almost instantly)

On top of that, some cameras (usually the LPR types) are designed to suppress dazzlers (or headlight glare) in order to pick out faces and license plates. They're only slightly more expensive than HD cameras and are standard for local authority systems.

The ones I'm familiar with don't just beep and set relays when these alarms go off, but also have settings to send SMS alerts, Email alerts and upload footage to a remote point in case the recorder is smashed/stolen. They do the same if the upstream network connection is broken too, usually via an internal or USB 3G/4G device.

In other words, anyone who pulls this kind of stunt is likely to find themselves being skewered in the courts as a warning to others.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Public transport is already self-driving

" In both cases, it was twice as fast and a third of the cost to drive myself."

On the other hand during the day it will take me betwen 2 and 3 hours to get from my home to Central London and the cost of _parking_ for the day is higher than the travelcard which can get me there in 45 mins (plus 15 mins walk to the station, or 5 mins drive and park there for £3/day) and alow unlimited public transport use whilst I'm there.

Buses are large and cumbersome because that's the most efficient way to carry lots of passengers at peak period. Bus ROUTES are a pain in the arse because that's the most economic way of routing large and cumbersome busses in off-peak periods whilst passing the greatest number of people (ie, cheaper than running multiple busses on separate routes), but the general effect is that most bus routes are only slightly faster than walking.

A 42 passenger bus does 1000-10000 times the road damage (even when empty) as 42 single passenger cars and a bus that's less than about half full is not covering the operating costs with the fares normally charged.

With automated transport you're likely to see busses AND taxis replaced by 6-8 seater PRTs - cheap to run, cheap on the road damage front, about the right size for the largest of groups (not counting excursions) and without a driver, able to park themselves in offpeak periods and reactivate when needed. Most tested PRT systems have worked on a set route in peaks and direct routing offpeak basis - and worked pretty well.

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Alan Brown
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"To be fair large parts of London should be car free, with the odd electric taxi for disabled people."

The infamous "London Ringways" plan with its notorious elevated central section was intended to be just that inside ring 1 (and that was envisioned back in the 1950s)

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Alan Brown
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"stick some clear tape on the LIDAR, watch as your neighbour's self-driving car won't move because it thinks it's touching an object"

Watch as you get arrested and chucked in the dock for interfering with vehicle safety systems, clearly visible in the car's parked-mode camera system.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Bull

"At 25mph that's almost 30 feet"

If you hit a pedestrian

At 25mph the chances of death are under 1%

at 30mph it's 5%

at 35mph it's 50%

at 40mph it's 90+%

The 30mph speed was arbitrarily chosen in the 1930s. 20mph is arguably a safer urban speed.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Urban vs Motorway

"Cruise control is no good in the city"

That is entirely dependent on the kind of cruise control you have. :)

My 15-year old one works quite well (it can get on the brake faster than I can) and the newer stop-start models work even better.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Daft

"And the Tesla fatality, the guy had been "driving" the car for over half an hour without touching the controls."

Two things come into play here

First of all, Joshua Brown was known to have a dashcam and record all his trips. It's never been found.

Secondly, this kind of crash is relatively common in the USA (several hundred to several thousand each year). thanks to poorly engineered intersections like the one where the crash occurred. On that basis Teslas are already doing better than humans in not driving under semitrailers and getting clotheslined.

Thirdly, at the speeds and conditions in question, it's entirely possible that even if in full manual control, Joshua Brown may not have been able to stop.

Finally: The NHTSA investigation pointed out that statistically Teslas are _already 40% less likely to be involved in a crash than other cars in the same market position. A lot of the naysaying is on par with people making a big fuss about aircraft being unsafe, whilst disocunting the probability that they're more likely to be killed in one ride to the airport than an entire lifetime of flying. Humans are bloody hopeless at risk assessment.

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Alan Brown
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Re: And of course the moral issue...

"So, all the autonomous systems need to do is to show that they're safer than these current figures. "

The critical factor is injury severity as this drives the vast majority of premiums. Deaths are cheap (which is why in a lot of countries if someone runs you over and you're injured, they'll back the car over you to make sure you're dead)

FWIW the single largest category of insurance claim is summarised as "reversed into another car in supermarket car park" - but these are cheap. The most expensive type are "medium-speed collision" as this is where long-term injuries come in.

I agree that the insurance industry will drive mass adoption of vehicle automation - and I believe it will happen remarkably quickly when it happens.

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Self-driving cars still do not exist even if we think they do

Alan Brown
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Re: parallel parking

" Finally the driver left it parked at an angle of about 30 degrees with its front wheels on the pavement."

This same driver must have been on the A2002 last week. The parking description matches but in this case the rear wheels were on the pavement and the fronts about 3 feet from the centreline, meaning all the traffic using the road (steep hll) had to negotiate a 7 foot gap between it and the cars on the other side of the road.

There were some fairly pissed off HGV drivers queued up too.

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Alan Brown
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Re: They kinda do and kinda don't

"Naive trust in Self Driving technology will see you decapitated by a semi truck's "invisible" 53-foot trailer."

As opposed to the couple of hundred people who somehow don't manage to see the 53 foot trailer each year in the USA (on average) and decapitate themselves without the assistance of self-driving technology?

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Alan Brown
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Re: They kinda do and kinda don't

"I have driven thousands of miles on ACC in my Volvo, which uses a camera-radar sensor combination, "

My Ancient lidar system just beeps its head off for 5 seconds if sunstruck and shuts off. No braking but you're now coasting.

As a safety precaution you have to switch the ACC off and back on again to reactivate it (It stops people just holding down resume even if the sunstrike is still present. This is a deliberate design decision from the chaps in Swindon)

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Alan Brown
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Re: They kinda do and kinda don't

"A PRT system in a city center would be a much safer alternative."

This is highly likely to be the endgame.

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Alan Brown
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Re: They kinda do and kinda don't

"local commuters who take blind corners"

Even worse if you're driving a car in the other direction and come face to face with that kind of idiot.

As far as walking goes, on those roads I walk up the middle where possible and per safety guidance in various road codes, stick to the _outside_ of the bend. (this advice was formulated because of what can happen if you happen to be on the inside of the bend and car coming in one direction meets blind bend cutter coming the other. (walking up the middle is also advised, for maximum visibility to traffic. Remember motor gives way to non-motor. You get arseholes in rangerovers who will try to scare you but i;'s amazing what standing your ground and running a sharp key lightly over the bonnet does to their bravery (This also works on drivers menacing people on crossings)

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Alan Brown
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Re: They kinda do and kinda don't

"Surprisingly there doesn't seem to be an obvious picture of it anywhere. "

There's one just like it about 200 yards from where I'm sittiing. It's funny to watch articulated and large rigid vehicles try (and fail) to make the corner, then even funnier when after working out how to get into that road, watching when they realise they have to reverse out due to the presence of 7 foot restrictors that aren't signposted on the entrance. They're signposted 50 feet further along at the turn into another road and were installed to prevent HGVs from using that road as a rat run. If they don't take that turn the road they're on takes a sharp bend 100 feet further along and then dead ends after another 400 feet with an office block there and no way to turn around.

Mwa ha haaaa!

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Alan Brown
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Re: They kinda do and kinda don't

> Wonder if they can handle a "magic" roundabout - like Swindon or Hemel Hempstead.

Probably far better than humans can. My first few experiences with these were nerve-wracking even in the middle of the night.

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Alan Brown
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Re: They kinda do and kinda don't

"It is possible very, very old versions might have done that"

The 16 year old ACC design in my 13 year old car will brake - gently - to open up a gap, if someone cuts it up and is moving slower than I am. For the same speed it will simply ease off the throttle slightly to achieve the gap and if they're faster it will maintain speed and let them open the gap up.

It it thinks it may need to brake hard it beeps furiously to warn the driver and everyone else in the car just before it applies the brake. If you're driving beside hedgerows it sometimes triggers a warning but won't brake. Ditto on large signs close to the edge of the road. (it's effectively a potential lane intrusion warning)

Newer versions are even smoother than mine, which is based entirely on lidar-in-the-bumper.

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Alan Brown
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Re: They kinda do and kinda don't

"... or when there's a passing lane. Gits!"

Not in the UK, but New Zealand (Which is almost all single carriageway blacktop with passing lanes)

It happens regularly, but so does this:

Git speeds up at each passing lane to thwart passing. After the 3rd time, a set of flashing blue lights appear in the queue behind and another twat gets told that he has to retake his driving test.

Sensible countries also say that you _must_ pull over at the first opportunity and let traffic pass when you have more than N (usually 5) vehicles behind. Slow drivers are an even bigger hazard than faster ones because they tend to provoke unsafe passing manouvres. Ideally all traffic should be moving at more-or-less the same speed so there's no need to pass.

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Alan Brown
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Re: They kinda do and kinda don't

"Or the car just decides to brake just because it can."

A bit like the arse who was driving down the A24 (60mph limit) at 40mph yesterday then, with 30 cars behind her.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Not ready.

"at what point the car is going to look at the road ahead and decide it can't do that"

Long before the human decides to press on regardless and ends up tobogganing down Buttertubs pass on his roof (The most impressive one I saw was a range rover wedged across the roadway between 2 chalk embankments with the lowest part of the vehicle being 2 feet off above the carriageway)

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Remember those holy tech wars we used to have? Heh, good times

Alan Brown
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> Edlin?

Real (MS) programmers use COPY CON

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UK data watchdog dishes out £600k in fines to 4 spam-spewers

Alan Brown
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"The principals on whose behalf the texts were sent are likely to be inside the jurisdiction. They need to be hit."

Joint and several liability of the advertising agency AND the company which hired them would be a good starting point, along with statutory damages (so the culprits can't argue about the actual damages) and a right of private action.

It only takes a few tens of small claims filings to dissuade most companies from doing silly things.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Good

Limited liability only shields the investors.

Directors are fully liable for reckless or illegal decisions.

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