* Posts by Alan Brown

7066 posts • joined 8 Feb 2008

Chevy Bolt electric car came alive, reversed into my workbench, says stunned bloke

Alan Brown
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Most electric cars don't have a neutral because they don't need one.

If you want to reverse, you reverse the motor.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Odd belief

Also not that odd because in subzero temperatures the brake shoes/pad can freeze to the drum/disk.

If you're unlucky you're rendered immobile. If you're very unlucky the brake pads will be snapped off.

This was and is a very common occurence on Peugeot 106s with drums at the rear. I lost 2 sets of brake shoes before my mechanic informed me what was happening.

For that reason, using the park brake at traffic lights, etc is an automatic driving test fail in many states (most likely time to have picked up water which can freeze whilst the car is stationary)

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350,000 Twitter bot sleeper cell betrayed by love of Star Wars and Windows Phone

Alan Brown
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Once you spot a bot, you can compartmentalise them, so they don't affect other users.

And subtract the numbers from the usercount. Honesty in marketing will go a long way towards building up trust and winning repeat business. Most of these companies have been behaving in ways that would make an east end barrow boy blush in shame.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Very timely article

"And they seem to be cleaning up the place and making it nice again."

What none of these outfits seem to realise is that once people realise that XYZ million users claims are shown to be vastly inflated by bots or spammers, credibilty is lost until they start actively hunting down and removing them.

You can part the new and naive with their money but not policing the network for abuse (network abuse) results in repeat business dropping off.

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All the cool kids are doing it – BT hikes broadband and TV bills

Alan Brown
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Re: B4RN

"There always that potential conflict of interest, having board members such as ex-BT/ex-Alcatel people,"

Potential?

The split of Telecom NZ was driven by the Ministry of Commerce, on the basis of considerable damage to GDP, and NZ's equivalent of OFCOM had the same conflicts / was saying everything was fine despite evidence to the contrary.

One of the primary reasons TCNZ's proposal to move to a BT/Openreach model was rejected was that NZ regulators studied the market here and documented how BT has been able to continue market abuse.

It's time the Competition and Markets Authority stepped in. Having the same company with a natural monopoly on lines AND having a retail operation is pretty much guaranteed to result in anticompetitive behaviour via creative accounting/Margin squeezes and refusing to sell lines/duct access to "competitors" unless a gun is held to their heads. If you want to see what would happen if Openreach is split off into an entirely separate company, look at what's happened in New Zealand since 2011.

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IT team sent dirt file to Police as they all bailed from abusive workplace

Alan Brown
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"Alongside that, the reason the police did not act is "fruit of the poisoned tree", making all those offences unprosecutable forever"

UK courts do not have that doctrine. Nor do most commonwealth ones.

However in the financial industry in the UK, problems like that are usually solved with a suitably large donation to the COLP.

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Alan Brown
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Re: What is the correct protocol for dealing with this material?

"Then someone in IT was going through his computer looking for anything relating to his current work that needed to be passed on to someone else"

Believe it or not, unless this is signed off from "on very high" or the recently departed, that 'someone in IT' can find themselves prosecuted and the organisation investigated by the ICO for DPA breaches. In general for such cases it's best to have a witness when doing the work.

Circulating personal data such as chat logs for personal amusement can result in other charges too.

There's a reason the lawyers write draconian policies when someone thinks to consult them.

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Alan Brown
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Re: What is the correct protocol for dealing with this material?

"Those backups will go back quite a long time, some longer than a couple of years. "

Almost all of them will be vastly longer than that. 7 to 10 is pretty much standard in financial services.

Mine's the one with the fireproof data safe in the pocket.

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Facebook bans Russia's RT ahead of Trump's Inauguration Day (then changes its mind)

Alan Brown
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Not the first time

A few years ago, Youtube shut down NASA's youtube channel after an automated copyright claim from a broadcaster was filed - in the middle of a shuttle launch.

That took a while to get resolved _and_ the same stonewalling was observed.

Yes, there are criminal provisions for false DMCA declarations, but the claimants get around that using the Chewbacca defense - "I claim I own this, therefore you must take down that" (Where this and that are not related.

DMCA law needs an overhaul. It's unfit for purpose.

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Korean boffins vow 1,000km-an-hour supertrain

Alan Brown
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Re: Sigh

"The speed increase over a normal train is only worth it over long distances, so the initial investment is huge. And then, the advantages are small over a plane."

"long" distances being more than about 50 miles (80km) and mainly because of the issue of loading/unloading. The sub-pod concept might make it more viable for commuting.

There's a _huge_ advantage over aircraft - being firmly ground-based means you can supply it with energy without having to carry several tens of tons of carbon-emitting fuel and the equivalent energy cost per passenger will be substantially lower than aircraft. (Operational vs infrastructure costs of course, but the terrestrial system will win out long term). That means solar and/or nuclear power can be used to drive the tube system.

The biggest impediment I can think of is that in order to be commercially viable, the system must be able to carry cargo - and preferably without repacking it repeatedly. The economics of packing wagons was what made railways marginal and containerisation solved that problem. Recreating it is a non-starter. (Ie, the pods need to be large enough to take shipping containers)

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Alan Brown
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Re: Tubes are cheating

"I suspect that the Gs thrown would knock out everyone on the train but the fittest."

Up to 4G sustained for 30 seconds won't hurt most people (but it's hard to lift your arms). Most people won't notice 2G after a few seconds.

Apparent cabin gravity is always floorwards. These systems won't be accelerating/decelerating at more than 0.1G unless it's an emergency.

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Alan Brown
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"And the tubes themselves will probably be coated in things to make the sunshine not that much of an issue."

There's a really low tech solution for that - a sunshade. And it doesn't matter if it has holes in it.

Double skinning isn't particularly difficult to do.

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What's the biggest danger to the power grid? Hackers? Terrorists? Er, squirrels

Alan Brown
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Re: Or a shovel through a fibre/wire bundle

"Someone had been taking pot shots at some fauna"

Nope.

Some cretins like to blast away at cables.

I've worked for telcos and this kind of RFO is depressingly common.

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Alan Brown
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The real danger isn't terrestrial

"Shutting down the grid long term would take the physical destruction of equipment, not just computer hacking."

Two words: Carrington Event.

Two more: Canada 1989

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Square Kilometre Array precursor shrinks 5TB of data to 22MB – every second!

Alan Brown
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Re: My desktop computer has 4TB and can easily write 22mb a second

" How much did they spend on the antenna and all the other setup that they can't afford to store ~2TB a day?"

2TB/day is a new storage array every 3-6 months, PLUS the power to keep it online.

Or a very large tape silo.

And unlike satellite data (where it's hard to go back to 1970 and rescan atmospheric data), the original source is still out there if you need to redo things.

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Alan Brown
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Re: I invented a program that downloads porn off the internet one million times faster.

"Zoom in on any "dark" patch of sky and you'll just see more stars. Zoom in to the dark bits in-between and guess what? It's full of stars."

It still compresses pretty well. I deal with some archives of glass plates and they use surprisingly little space per image (the factor of there being a few tens of millions of them is another matter)

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Smart bombs, smart bullets – now guided smart artillery shells, thanks to DARPA dosh

Alan Brown
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Re: DARPA...

> Not so much "we need this item" but more of a "let's try this and see where it leads" type of place

When the end result costs northwards of $800k a pop and you put it on a functional ship instead of a research platform, you missed the point of the last part of that phrase.

DARPA has been very good at a lot of things but there have been a number of notable failures in recent USA military history caused by trying to cram the latest of everything into one box when the technology isn't mature enough. The military had the good sense to drop the F111B - but got the F14 and F15 out of the design exercise. The ability to get rid of a clusterfuck seems to have been lost recently.

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Alan Brown
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Re: The USA way of doing things

> which can be summed up as "politics within the Soviet space industry".

That and breaking the cardinal rule of rocketry.

"Never fuel the thing when there are people around, no matter how much of a hurry you are in"

The Brazilians failed to heed that lesson more recently and lost virtually their entire space program engineering pool as a result.

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Alan Brown
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Re: The USA way of doing things

> A private company developed the pen, not NASA who bought them for a few dollars.

Ditto for Velcro and Teflon.

The watches chosen to go to the moon were picked by the expedient of going into downtown Houston and picking out a few which looked likely to be able to take the abuse and be workable whilst wearing gloves. Now they're £4000 apiece.

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Alan Brown
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Re: The USA way of doing things

" It talks like a USA arms supplier, it thinks like a USA arms supplier, it is in fact a USA arms supplier - nothing British about it at design level."

It's american owned/headquartered, therefore it's a USA arms supplier by definition,

The B in BAE is merely a historic hangover which will be rectified in time.

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Alan Brown
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Re: The USA way of doing things

> The design philosophy is: "You make the smartest super-duper ultra-guided fire and forget shell/missile/bullet".

Someone please remind me which group did that in the last big war we had?

Oh yes. The Nazis. (And they lost, because they invested so much time and effort into those uberweapons that they effectively bankrupted other procurements and allowed the opposition to overwhelm them by swarming)

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BT installs phone 'spam filter', says it'll strain out mass cold-callers

Alan Brown
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Re: The same thing happens with IP address allocations

"My company got an IP address allocated which was already blacklisted. We have been trying to send an e-mail to the helpdesk address listed in the contract only to be rejected by the ISP's mail server. "

Name and shame please. Some of us would prefer not to do business with ISPs who support spammers.

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Alan Brown
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" it then becomes an issue for how trusted is the relationship between the two organisations."

The answer is that in the world of telephony, once past the border (ie, enduser lines), ALL connections are trusted. Apparently there's no concept that a telco might be a fraudulent front company, despite this happening repeatedly for the last 30 years.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phone_fraud#Fraud_by_phone_companies_against_one_another

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Alan Brown
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Re: A Typical Scam Call I Get

"Not hard to find either of those things. If you know the make and registration, the gov lets you know this. https://vehicleenquiry.service.gov.uk/ "

I know that, but

1: The results took far longer than these guys took.

2: If all queries are being logged (and they should be), you just located the IP address of the spammers.

Anyway, being a _scrapped_ vehicle, it doesn't show on the public query system and website lookups like Halfrauds (and others) don't bring back colours.

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Alan Brown
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Re: A Typical Scam Call I Get

" The Telco knows who you are because they have the accounting information."

Unlike the 90s when telcos had an entire department dedicated to maintaining interconnect agreements with every other telco, most calls are funnelled like Internet connections (the routing tables are similiar to BGP too, with zero security precautions against bad actors, which has meant number range hijacking has been a problem long before it IP block hijacking started being detected on the Internet)

That means the calls coming into BT from XYZ interconnect are a bundle coming from dozens of downstream telcos. The question then is whether BT is willing to cut off ABC DEF and GHI entire countries to try and filter the spam.

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Alan Brown
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"I know someone who used to have some 070 numbers back in the day when you could revenue share on them. He'd ask scammers to "call back on my mobile", and give out the 070 number. This they duly called without realising that it was premium rate."

Whilst revenue sharing is no longer allowed, I still have a 070 and set it to maximum rate (£1.50/min) for this very purpose. The provider asked why I was using it and set the rate so high - they had a good laugh when I explained and said they wished they'd thought of it.

The 070 gets about 10 calls per week and only about 1 call a month isn't scammy.

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Alan Brown
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Having the mobile registered on TPS doesn't stop the scammers.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Mass wire tapping, "sorry we thought it was spam", so we record everything now.

"BT were(are) making serious money from the spam calls. The way BT have implemented this, BT still get the revenue from spammers, even when they fail to connect the call, routing it to voice mail (i.e. setup fee at least). "

Only sometimes.

The vast majority of these outfits are scamming the international routing system and there have been a number of investigations into billing fraud.

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Alan Brown
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Re: How much to review your spam call messages?

"A memorable 3 digit number to dial after a spam call."

you mean like collating stats on the 1572 reports? That's part of what they're doing.

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Alan Brown
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"Unfortunately my doctor's practice uses "withheld" - as do local council departments."

My doctor does too - and when they get the canned message that withheld numbers are not accepted they dial back with proper ID.

The ICO need to make a determination that businesses are NOT allowed to withhold caller ID (not just call centres) - and it needs to be the ICO, not OFCOM.

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Alan Brown
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Re: "huge computing power"

"a lot of calls are number withheld crap"

If you get a number-withheld and it's a marketing call from an identifiable company then the ICO _really_ want to hear from you.

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Alan Brown
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Re: A Typical Scam Call I Get

"then add their caller ID to my blacklist"

The problem with THAT is that whilst they're rotating through callerIDs that are mostly invalid anyway, sometimes they belong to real companies.

I've made a point of doing verification callbacks to the CID numbers and one of them was a dental surgery in Manchester. The receptionists were wondering why they'd had a spate of abusive calls (Personally I'd call that harrassment by incitement)

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Alan Brown
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Re: A Typical Scam Call I Get

"A female friend of mine swore at one of the "Windows Support" crowd, only to have him ring back twice and subject her to verbal abuse of a sexual nature."

The thing about them doing that that is that it crosses the line from illegal to flatout criminal and if she'd bothered making a police complaint the phone company would have had to pull call accounting records (not just callerID records)

If that happens enough times then the telcos might start taking some action.

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Alan Brown
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Re: A Typical Scam Call I Get

I had enough time to string them along a few months back and ended the call fairly sure that the insurance scammers have some form of access into the DVLA.

Specifically, I gave them the registration of a car I used to own (scrapped) but with wrong colour and engine. They immediately asked whether I'd gotten the colour wrong and coached about the right colour, then did the same about engine size.

The part that gobsmacks me is that both the DVLA and the ICO seem completely uninterested in this aspect.

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'Hi, I'm from Microsoft and I am GOING TO KILL YOU'

Alan Brown
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Re: Bear in mind...

"I have been lead to believe these guys bounce their international calls thru unsecured PABX/VOIP exchanges and thus aren't paying for the call."

Correct. Some of the indian police raids have been in response to this.

I suspect the one where they found a call centre pulling the IRS tax scam was due to call routing fraud, as it was clear the Indian police had no idea who to talk with in the USA (and were unable to make contact with any LEO who would help them) having discovered the viper nest.

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Self-driving Google car T-boned in California crash

Alan Brown
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Re: solved...

> My worry is that the autonomous car will lack driving "sense".

Most new drivers lack "driving sense" and many never acquire it.

The thing about AI drivers is that once it's programmed in, ALL models using that algorithm have it.

An AI driver is looking in all directions all the time and isn't distracted by the legs on that girl across the road (A young driver spent too long looking at my wife's legs one day and hit a bus stop sign. This really does happen)

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Alan Brown
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Re: Is there a story here?

"Actually, most intersection insert a second or two of all red before changing the other side to green"

That's changed since my last extensive trip then, admittedly back in the 1990s.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Is there a story here?

" They prang the car because their mind isn't on the road. "

Annoying passengers who won't shut up and let you concentrate are just as bad.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Is there a story here?

"Would a competent human in the Lexus have seen the van jumping the red and been able to take action to avoid the collision?"

Possibly, but so would the AI. They're supposed to be capable of taking emergency evasive action if needed.

Coping with human stupidity is one of the things that makes automated vehicle design hard, as in "There are rules, but other cars don't always obey them" hard

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Outage-hit Lloyds Bank in talks to outsource data centres to IBM

Alan Brown
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Re: Outsourcing...

"And we're an Exchange house,... no more Notes. "

Frying pans and fires spring to mind.

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Search for MH370 called off after new theory about resting place is ruled out

Alan Brown
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Re: MH-370 Cargo Manifest Insured for $400 Million

"The 777 went to 41,000 ft,"

Which is right up in Coffin Corner for a 777 with a full load - it then stalled at cruise due to the thin atmosphere and lost 20,000 feet before recovering (the certified max altitude for a 777 is 43,500 feet when lighter, but at full load they stay below 38k feet, usually 33k feet - remember that civil transports fly as high as they possibly can for speed and fuel economy, with the height mostly being limited by stall speed in congested airspace.)

This is not the actions of someone concious at the controls. If there'd been a human in charge, stall recovery would have happened far more quickly. Standard pilot training is to put the nose down and recovery would happen within 5000 feet in an aircraft of this size. Losing 20,000 feet is indicative of the autopilot keeping the nose up (Think Air France 447) and the aircraft only recovering when the wings were able to bite into thicker air. If you've ever practiced stalls (as all pilots are required to do) and stalls at altitude (which is a requirement for civil jets), you'll know this stuff. In any case if there had been someone awake at the controls it would never have climbed so high in the first place. Pilots prefer to stay away from Coffin Corner because stall recovery at cruise speed can rip the wings off.

When you compare known upper atmosphere wind directions with what should happen when an autopilot has no other directions than "maintain "wings level" flight", the path is pretty much a match. (Autopilots I've used in this mode always creep slightly so the climb isn't a surprise and they weathercock as wind directions change which results in the aircraft's ground heading changing.)

The thing about conspiracy theories is that 1: someone has to gain and 2: every single party has to be kept quiet. Any conspiracy involving more than 3 people eventually leaks.

MOST conspiracies happen _after_ an event like this - as parties who stand to lose their jobs (or worse) for incompetence start trying to cover things up.

Remember: MAS is (was) an airline with a LOT of problems and like titanic this was a disaster waiting to happen. The technical/maintenance side was in chaos and the financials were even worse. There were a number of serious safety incidents with MAS aircraft over the preceeding few months and that's not uncommon as a leadup to something really bad happening when an airline's going down the shitter. The really eye opening incident showing the lax culture was the serious fire in the heavy maintenance hanger caused by a cigarette in a wastepaper bin (no smoking area) which destroyed a large amount of irreplacable documentation (which shouldn't have been stored there). I'm surprised MAS was allowed to fly into Europe. Garuda was guilty of far less when it got banned.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Commercial Aircraft Locations

"Excellent point - this and AF447 make the case for continuous data."

It was available on MH370 - but malaysian airlines had disabled it as it cost too much.

The airline was financially strapped, had a number of safety incidents in the weeks leading up to the loss and even managed to have a major fire in a maintenance area caused by a cigarette in a wastepaper bin - in a no-smoking area. The most likely culprit is still an oxygen-fed cockpit fire which disabled the crew after they plugged in a turnaround but before they could make a distress call (The runway the aeroplane flew over before it started meandering was the longest one in the area, perfect for an emergency landing)

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Alan Brown
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Re: Anything interesting been found

"has the search turned up anything else of interest at all?"

There's a whole section of the Indian ocean seafloor that's been mapped in detail - and it's hellaciously rugged down there.

The problem is that if the plane went in fast and steep, it's more likely to be scattered over a few square miles of seafloor than in a couple of large pieces. Think Swissair 111 rather than Air France 447

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Routine jobs vanishing and it's all technology's fault? Hold it there, sport

Alan Brown
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Re: The elephant in the room--The "O" word.

Even with malthusian diebacks or wars, history shows that population drops are temporary - lost numbers tend to be made up by prolific breeding in the subsequent two generations.

That's why noone sensible is advocating allowing mass deaths to happen. If you think things are bad now, that scenario is likely to be significantly worse.

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Alan Brown
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Re: The elephant in the room--The "O" word.

"OVERPOPULATION"

Not as big a problem as you might think. The developed world's population is shrinking. Japan is only a harbinger of what's to come.

Poor people stop having so many kids when they become less poor - and for the most part even in "developing" countries people are deciding to only have a couple of kids if they have kids at all.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Automation has been happening for decades...

"Address the skills gap and that group of available workers will shrink quickly."

Unless people start coming up with new "industries", there will continue to be more people available than jobs to fill them.

It's not going to be cost-effective to run IT sweatshops for much longer either.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Automation has been happening for decades...

"Even China is too expensive for things like textiles."

And framing _that_ out to other countries will only last for 10-15 years at most.

Automated systems will make $2.50/day operators and the capital investment in the factory unviable.

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Alan Brown
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"so maybe in the future increasingly sentient robots will have the right to be paid for their labours"

Robot cars paying for their own maintenance and upgrades with their taxi work. What happens when one decides it wants to be a sculpter instead?

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Toshiba may sell silicon biz to contain fallout of nuke plant problems

Alan Brown
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"I'm sure Sir Humphrey would have meddled "

Which is one of those particular places where bureaucrats need to NOT meddle (except for safety regulators). Especially given the UK civil service's track record of backing "winners" and bankrupting private companies along the way (Beeching, Satellites, Brabazon, British Leyland, Every operating nuke plant being a unique design instead of a standard pattern, etc)

We need somewhere between 20-30 nuke plants _right now_ to replace existing power generation capacity (eliminating carbon) and include a safety margin for shutdowns plus another 30-60 to cater to eliminating gas/oil-fired central heating systems and an increased electric vehicle fleet.

I'd prefer they were LFTR but that technology isn't ready yet, which means "conventional" nukes until they are, then feed the waste into LFTR when it's ready. The absolute _LAST_ thing needed is a multiplicity of designs.

If Toshiba are laying the long game then more power to their elbow, but I suspect that noo-clea-are polyticks will get in the way.

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

Alan Brown
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Re: @Voland ...You are missing the point

> Also, given that this was a 'suspects' phone what's the procedure assuming they're found innocent? "...oh... yeah... we destroyed your phone with all your personal info and photo's on... erm... sorry about that...."?

"Perhaps you should have given us the password after all - and here are some charges for interfering with an investigation"

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