* Posts by Nigel 11

3206 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

Bloke flogs $40 B&W printer on Craigslist, gets $12,000 legal bill

Nigel 11

Not strange at all, if you believe the stories of paranoia about the Soviet Union and communism in the US and that they were shit-scared that a broken West Germany would succumb along with the East.

the UK government also believed it, and as far as I can judge I think they were right. In 1947(*) Germans would have been starving to death, were it not for the food from the British Empire that the UK government diverted to Germany. This, at a time when wartime rationing was still in effect in the UK, and when public sentiment would happily have seen Germany starve. So it was kept ultra-hush-hush at the time and is still not well known. I'm proud that my country did the right thing rather than the politically expedient thing.

(*) 1947 was the harshest Winter of the century, Worse even than 1962/3 which I can just about remember. Snow four feet deep. Actually, it wasn't that deep. I'm recalling it through the eyes of a six-year-old.

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Norks' parade rocket fails to fly, again

Nigel 11

Re: Rocket scientist attrition rate

The price of success may be a more certain version of the price of failure. With failure, you have a chance of blaming it on something or somebody other than yourself. With success, you absolutely are in posession of information which you have absolutely no need to know for any longer, and a bullet in your head fixes that security problem.

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Nigel 11

Any suggestions for the programming language(s) they use?

I expect that exception handling is non-existent, and that the use of IF statements is frowned upon in their style guide.

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North Korea clones Facebook, forgot to change default creds

Nigel 11

I would not want to be responsible for that screw up. This is likely to get some one in front of HR firing squad .

Unless it was a trojan horse. Mr. Kim may be having the last laugh here.

I hope that the folks who "hacked it to death" used sacrificial PCs for their hacking, which were well-firewalled during the hack and then then reformatted and reinstalled. Personally I'd be a little bit more paranoid that that. NK is probably ahead of the world on firmware-resident malware, and the only really safe thing to do would be put the PC in the acid bath afterwards.

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Geniuses at HMRC sack too many staff! Nope, can't do it online. FAIL

Nigel 11

Re: Get it right

I can assure you that it was not just the week of the October SA deadline. I was failing to get through to them on numerous occasions between June and September.

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Shakes on a plane: How dangerous is turbulence?

Nigel 11

Re: Seatbelt Nazis

It is a really good idea to keep your seat belt on at all times, warning light on or not, unless you have to get out of your seat. (By all means remove it after takeoff, slacken it a bit for comfort, and put it back on).

There are cases of passengers dying because of turbulence. The plane goes down hard, your head hits the luggage bins after "falling" upwards, your neck breaks.

I've been on a flight when the first warning of turbulence was my drink taking off. I wasn't scared after recovering from the surprise, but was most glad of the seat belt. I know enough (see above) to file that as "moderate". I've never encountered "severe" and don't want to.

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CIA says it 'accidentally' nuked torture report hard drive

Nigel 11

Re: Not a problem

In this case the things are surely remembered securely in another place. They should ask the NSA for a replacement copy.

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White hats bake TeslaCrypt master key into universal decryptor

Nigel 11

Another possibility

A three-letter agency tracked the criminals down and gave them two choices: terminate the malware themselves without prejudice, or be terminated themselves with extreme prejudice.

This stuff is costing hard-pressed governments billions, and could cost the people in power their positions. So the James Bond approach is not unlikely.

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Sick of storage vendors? Me too. Let's build the darn stuff ourselves

Nigel 11

Re: ZFS scary bits

Fail over - just don't go there.

It has always puzzled me that Digital (VAX/VMS) solved this so long ago with the VAXCluster and yet it seems to have been a festering sore for everyone else ever since.

VMSClustering was (and still is) actually far more advanced than mere failover. And the source code was (briefly) there on microfiche for anyone to learn the finer points of the technology, just before the lawyers and corporate types moved in and Digital entered its long slide into oblivion. Copyright, not open source, but even so ....

Sigh.

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Nigel 11

Re: Two reasons for buying

Or if you want a half-Petabyte filestore on a budget, you can just head over to those friendly folks at Backblaze, who built a business on build-it-yourself hardware and even tell the rest of us how to buy one and where to get the parts from.

https://www.backblaze.com/blog/open-source-data-storage-server/

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Iraq shuts down internet to prevent exam cheating. The country's entire internet

Nigel 11

I have to ask, which country is 168/168 corrupt?

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Chaps make working 6502 CPU by hand. Because why not?

Nigel 11

What's even slower than retro?

Alt-History.

Specifically, could there have been an alternative Victorian England in which someone invented the electromechanical relay ahead of its time and then Babbage, Ada Lovelace and a watchmaker acquaintance (for the miniaturisation) managed to come up with a working binary computer clocking at a few Hertz? Which would have been faster than a Babbage engine, easier to build and probably a lot more reliable.

They sell relays like that these days. Not cheap, mind you. But just imagine the sound of it working!

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Hold the DRAM phone: IBM claims phase-change breakthrough

Nigel 11

Re: confused

If it is faster and its cost is near that of flash, why bother using flash at all?

Because you can go out and buy flash today, along with appropriate controllers. This may be on sale in some future year, or it may yet fail to get out of the R&D labs.

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New solar cell breaks efficiency records, turns 34% of light into 'leccy

Nigel 11

Re: Science is a filthy tease...

The cost difference is proably fairly irrelevant, because if future panels cost significantly less or generate significantly more, the government will reduce the subsidies again, so the cost to your pocket will remain much the same.

Down to the point where the subsidy is zero and panels are still cost-effective. (Which will be later in the UK than in, say, Southern Arizona, where panels already need no subsidy to be cost-effective).

At that point it will be a straightforward calculation of the value of the electricity being generated a £x installation compared to the greater amount of electricity being generated by a more efficient and more expensive installation. Bear in mind that the labour cost is the lions share of the system cost.

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Nigel 11

Re: Science is a filthy tease...

The problem you really have is that even at 100% efficiency, you won't actually GAIN that much and probably not enough to actually get the everyday cheap commercial tech that people want solar to become.

Maybe, and maybe not.

We won't know where is the optimum point on the price/performance curve until we try to commercialize the advanced technologies. In some places, such as the Saudi deserts, lots of low-efficiency panels is probably the way to go because the land area is otherwise useless. On my roof of strictly limited size with the UK's more limited sunshine, and with the cost being dominated by labour not the panels, then panels with 30 or 40% efficiency would be very attractive compared to 20% ones, provided the price is not stupid.

Who knew back in 1990 that one could churn out 3+GHz CPUs with a billion transistors for under a hundred quid each? Or 10Tb disks for the then price of 1Gb disks? (can't remember the actual size of state-of-the-art disks in 1990, but something like that ).

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A UK-wide fibre broadband investment plan? Don't ask awkward questions

Nigel 11

Do it yourself?

Are we allowed to do it ourselves?

A good while back I read about some guys who connected the Burning Man festival to the internet. They did it using firmware-modified commercial routers, commercial medium-high-gain antennas, NiMH batteries, solar panels and poles every few miles from civilisation to festival in the middle of a desert. Just erect a pole, strap a relay to top, point one antenna at the last pole and the other at where the next will be. They were self-configuring.

I suspect that this would be illegal in the UK, even if all the relays were on private land. Unless somebody can assure me otherwise, in which case the above ought to be a business proposition. Yes, we'd need to add some weatherproofing, but in a lot of cases we could use a tree instead of a pole.

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Nigel 11

Re: it amazes me..

For most people VDSL/ADSL2 is 'good enough'.

Agreed.

But you might be surprised that a significant minority cannot get it reliably, or at even a halfway acceptable speed. And I'm not talking about the Outer Hebrides or an off-grid farmhouse ten miles from anywhere. Someone I know, in a village five miles from the nearest town and 25 miles from Coventry, gets 2Mbps on a fine sunny day dropping to zero whenever it rains hard.

Use the mobile network instead? Ha bloody ha. No signal. Not even 3G. Not on any network.

BT/Openreach doesn't give a damn as long as it has a monopoly. It spends (wastes?) the money on installing fiber in places that already have cable, to give its competitor Virgin a hard time.

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Router hackers reach for the fork: LEDE splits from OpenWRT

Nigel 11

Re: What we really need

If you just want to firewall a subnet, you can do it all with a PC, any Linux distro and (possibly) an extra NIC. If you already have a Linux server and a DMZ, just another NIC. And although PCs used to be power-guzzling large whirring things, this is no longer the case. You can get a fanless mini-ITX board with two GbE ports and J1900 CPU for around fifty quid. Just add RAM and a case/PSU. For a dedicated firewall boot off a USB stick, no HD/SSD necessary.

Where you start needing router hardware is handling high-bandwidth WiFi access (a USB dongle doesn't really cut it), and especially ADSL (only way I know of is a proprietary router in "bridge" mode or a Vigor ADSL PPPoE bridge/modem which costs more than many ADSL routers). Or of course, pay BT for "fiber" if its available, which does at least get you the whole internet on an Ethernet cable via BT's own bridge/modem.

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Nigel 11

What we really need

What I am still hoping for, is that someone will ship a fully open low cost SoHo communications box with its entire hardware design open-specified, and with it's re-flashing system made as easy and un-brickable as possible. Oh, and while I am wishing, that they can find an ADSL2+ chip with an open-source driver, or at least an open-source-friendly manufacturer and specification.

It won't be an existing router manufacturer. They sell pretty much the same hardware at lots of different prices with the high ones justified by extra features implemented purely in the firmware.

They also have to keep the FCC happy in the USA. Heaven forbid that we write our own firmwares! But there's definitely a market opportunity here for a new start-up who fully embraces open source and doesn't write proprietary firmware at all. Sort of like a Rasberry Pi, but for networking.

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Tesla production executives depart as 'leccy car maker reports narrowing loss

Nigel 11

Re: Cutting costs?

In general terms I agree. Most top-level executives have someone working for them, two or three levels down the organisation, who could do their jobs better than they do and would gladly do it for a fraction of the salary. Many of those executives spend considerable effort on keeping these underlings down.

Given what Elon Musk's organisations have accomplished in so little time, his executives may be truly valuable exceptions. In which case the chances are that there is someone ready to step into the shoes of the person who is departing, or that the CEO knows how to find a truly good replacement.

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Ex-HP boss Carly Fiorina sacked one week into new job

Nigel 11

Re: Good news !

anyone who runs for office is either nuts or a crook

And it's almost always better to choose the crook. (The main exception being a crook who is also nuts).

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Hold on a sec. When did HDDs get SSD-style workload rate limits?

Nigel 11

DWPD - wrong statistic?

Drive Writes per day makes sense for an SSD because the storage medium suffers wear and tear from being written to.

Writing to a magnetic surface should have no effect on it. What does wear out a hard disk is seeking. So if they are trying to differentiate desktop drives from enterprise ones, they should quote a maximum number of head movements per day. (This broadly equates to IOs per day, read or write being irrelevant).

Unless the head technology has now become so ultra-miniaturized, that the total time spent writing is now the life-determining parameter, rather than the amount of mechanical head-seeking. But this will be a function of data density, and so there won't be much diffrence between desktop and enterprise drives (absent some super-good and -expensive head technology that isn't widely known?)

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Back-to-the-future Nexsan resurrects its SATABeast

Nigel 11

Re: Impressive capacity.

You don't need an extra-strength rack.

Just remember to check the datacenter floor loading specification before you order a rack full of these beasts.

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Microsoft's Windows 10 nagware storms live TV weather forecast

Nigel 11

Re: Oh, yeah...

Give them the money

You mean the $50,000 that you might have to pay to have a consultant come in and rewrite some vital application code so that it runs on Windows 10? If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

(Hypothetically assume that it was an old old application when it was installed on Windows 7 ... but it worked AOK then and now. Also assume that somewhere down the years, the source code and/or the organisation that wrote the original have disappeared. And that they have actually tried reinstalling it on Windows 10 without success. )

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UK's 'superfast' broadband is still complete dog toffee, even in London

Nigel 11

If there's a problem with my water, or my electric, I can talk straight to the company responsible for delivering it to my home.... not so telecoms.

Sorry to break it to you ... but no, or at least not around here. It's "Western Power Distribution" that delivers the power. Mind you, if Openreach did even half as good a job as Western Power Distribution, I'd probably be happy. But there again, electricity is under a universal service obligation.

Recently heard someone relating his attempt to report a tree that was being held up by the electricity pole to his power company, before the tree came down completely and brought the electricity supply down with it. Complete failure. It'll get fixed a few hours / days after the power fails, and at ten times the expense.

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Nigel 11

Re: FFS - it is NOT fibre.

Who cares if it's copper, fiber, wireless, or unicorn hair, just as long as it carries data at an acceptable bandwidth?

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Nigel 11

Re: Why get Fibre?

"fibre has arrived"

You'll notice they carefully do not say where it has arrived. Doubtless, first of all in the immediate vicinity of OpenReach big cheeses' residences.

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Nigel 11

+10

Wish I could upvote AC's post by +10

It could be fixed so easily by government decree. There's a universal service obligation on telephone lines. It's high time that same universal service obligation was extended to a usable broadband service on those telephone lines. (I'd hope that was at least 8/0.5).

Yes, it would cost, but broadband has gone from being a luxury to an essential service. We don't expect folks in villages to pay more for their water supply, still less drink water out of a pond, so why should decent broadband remain excessively expensive or completely unobtainable?

PS at the same time, they should bang the mobile companies heads together. It's unnacceptable that Vodafone has a monopoly on the place I live, and EE has a monopoly on a nearby village, and never the twain shall interoperate. Surely there could be mandatory free internal UK roaming between networks in areas where not all of the networks have coverage? The banks sorted out "roaming" of cash machines years ago, the mobile networks need to be told to sort out something similar.

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Docker hired private detectives to pursue woman engineer's rape, death threat trolls

Nigel 11

Re: How endemic is it?

One of the many depressing things about this story is that the abuse presumably emanated from IT specialists, people who might be presumed to be better-educated and more intelligent than average.

Your point being? I'd simply deduce that the education/intelligence axis and the abusive/socially inadequate axis are poorly correlated. Or possibly even that there is a weak inverse correlation.

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Nigel 11

Re: Two things I wonder about

Is vigilantism an answer if the police won't deal with it?

What about legal vigilantism? "Out" them. Strip them of their anonymity and publish their real identity to the world. Let them know what it's like to be harassed.

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Trouble at t'spinning rust mill: Disk drive production is about to head south

Nigel 11

Re: I'm puzzled

At the office level companies are no longer replacing their PC every three years, so every PC not sold is a hard disk not sold. And if they have any sense, when they do eventually replace the PCs they will specify a new PC with a smallish SSD to boot from (much faster and more reliable for read-mostly usage, no longer an expensive option). People in offices should (mostly) be storing the user data via the LAN to a server, so a boot drive should be all that is needed.

It'll be a long slow decline (which won't necessarily lead to extinction). People recording video (PVRs and Security systems) will happily fill tens of Tb, if it's cheap enough. Then there are the corporate backup systems, and CERN, and the three-letter agencies....

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NASA injects cash into solar electric motor

Nigel 11

Re: am I the only one?

It's not a mile away from what's inside a plasma globe. You might be able to work out a geometry that gives you a plasma disk light, at least until someone touches the enclosing sphere.

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Hey, Atlantis Computing. What the heck is this in your EULA?

Nigel 11

Re: Try this on for size

When they did maintenance they always insisted that we opened the CDs

Didn't do DEC much good, did it? How many years after that did they get Compaqted?

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Nigel 11

Re: Slow news day?

I recently employed an estate agent. Of the two that made the cut, one offered me a contract that was a model of clarity, and the other, pages of legalese that I couldn't even parse. Since I couldn't find any good reason to choose between them, guess who got my signature?

I think I'm unusual. I read the small print before signing, or not.

A song I once heard, and the words stuck in my head:

"As through this world I wander, I've met all kinds of funny men / some rob you with a six-gun, some with a fountain pen / Yet as through this world I wander, as through this world I roam / I've never seen an outlaw drive a family from their home".

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Nigel 11

Re: Isn't that basically already banned ?

in most jurisdictions one such clause means the whole contract is null and void.

which is why in virtually all contracts you will find wording to the effect that you agree that if any particular clause of the contract is found to be unenforcible, the rest will stand in isolation on their own merits. Whether ir not that clause (meta-clause?) is itself abusive, I have no idea.

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Idiot millennials are saving credit card PINs on their mobile phones

Nigel 11

Re: PIN numbers?

Can't remember my Personal Identification Number numbers.

This makes perfect sense to me. There are four of them in a PIN. Or sometimes six. Occasionally eight.

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Nigel 11

Re: In other news

Coming soon: three-fingered millennials who thought unlocking a phone with their fingerprint was a good idea.

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Nigel 11

Re: Psychology

Even better write "2 4 6 papa" (or something like that" on the paper. That makes the thief think that he has a 3/10 chance when it's really 0/10.

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Nigel 11

Re: PINs?!

But surely people can remember a four-digit PIN?

Remember a different one for each card? Not quite so easy now.

Here's how. Memorize a two-digit number that you never ever explicitly write down or store. Memorize the positions of two digits out of the 16-digit card number. When you want to use any card you recall your two digit number and read the other two digits from their memorized places on the card. Combine them in the way your remember. Different PIN for each card, and easy to remember.

Human brains remember procedures much better than random four-character strings. And it's the same procedure for all your cards, so practice makes perfect.

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PC market shambling towards an unquiet grave

Nigel 11

Re: Raspberry PC

blows goats

The N3150 did not exist when I built mine, and it is still £30-£40 dearer. And the benchmarks here suggest that it's not much if any faster than a J1900. http://www.cpu-monkey.com/en/compare_cpu-intel_celeron_n3150-511-vs-intel_celeron_j1900-327

Anyway if you choose a system like this you probably don't care about faster CPU. I have another PC (i5) which I use if the silent lightweight box isn't fast enough. I don't seem to use it much these days.

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BT hauled into Old Bailey after engineer's 7-metre fall broke both his ankles

Nigel 11

Re: More than reported here?

Makes me glad I work in a nice warm, non-moving office where the biggest threat is tripping over an ethernet cable..

Which is completely inexcusable (if you aren't being facetious). Trip hazards are the number one cause of nontrivial office-environment injuries. Tell them to get longer cables and/or properly placed outlets, so that no cables are strung across places people walk. Do this before somebody trips and is hospitalized.

If you are obstructed by some sort of penny-pinching or IT-rule-following, this is the time that your Health and Safety department or person comes in useful. Or the union, if its that sort of workplace.

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Nigel 11

Re: More than reported here?

Yes, I do miss those days. While recognising that it might have been rather different for the blue-collar staff and that we may have diffrerent contexts. I've actually been on H&S committees dealing with the serious risks and incidents, and that's good stuff done by good people. But the bureaucracy about the trivia is stultifying.

When I started working, if a light tube started flickering, I grabbed another one from electrical stores, grabbed the department's footstool, and changed the tube. Exactly the same as I'd do at home. If I'd somehow managed to hurt myself it would have been my fault, whether at work or at home. Situation was different if someone had ordered me to change the tube and I didn't feel safe or didn't feel that I had adequate know-how. That's one reason for unions.

Today, I'd have to phone the electricians, and then myself and colleagues would be unable to work until several hours later when an officially-trained sparks arrived and did exactly what's I'd have done for myself at home. In the meantime the health and safety rules actually create a risk of inducing an epileptic fit in someone who is flicker-sensitive but does not (yet) know it.

Another example, a few years ago myself and colleagues were banned from installing or removing anything in the equipment racks in the server room until the organisational database showed that we had attended the H&S course on "manual handling". Who do they imagine had installed everything in those racks in the first place with no injury worse than a tiny cut caused by a sharp metal edge? Which these days would be a "reportable incident". I don't think one in a hundred would bother reporting "needed a plaster to stop any blood dripping into a server", but that's probably a disciplinary offense! Also, something not covered on the manual handling course. I suspect I'd missed the course on "correct treatment and follow-up form-filling for trivially minor workplace injuries such as paper cuts".

It used to be a culture of "can do" and "use your initiative". Now it's "follow the rules" and "you aren't paid to think about anything except what we pay you to think about". It's not an improvement, and in fact was one facet of why I left that employer for a small company where people are still people not "human resources".

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Nigel 11

Re: More than reported here?

I miss the good old days when personal culpability was the rage and if you acted the idiot and got hurt it was your fault.

Me too.

But my question is, why are they spending on three weeks worth of lawyers, rather than what I suspect wuld be the considerably cheaper option of admitting "yes, not worth disputing this, our fault" and paying the fine and compensating the poor chap for his broken ankles, pain and suffering. (Do we have any equivalent of the USA's "no contest" in such proceedings? )

If he'd been put in a wheelchair for life, then contesting it might have made financial sense.

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Nigel 11

More than reported here?

I'd have expected BT to simply admit fault and pay compensation and any fine. I wonder what is their side of the argument, that makes it worth paying lawyers for three weeks when the degree of injury was not catastrophic?

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Line by line, how the US anti-encryption bill will kill our privacy, security

Nigel 11

Re: Couple of things

I'm actually almost hoping that this bill pases.

The initial result will be no noticeable change.

The long-term result will be the exit of all high-tech industries from the USA, to the ruination of that country and the benefit of anywhere else that does not blindly follow the USA over the cliff.

Sadly that's more likely to be a Pacific atoll state than the UK!

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Nigel 11

Re: I fired off a Nasty-Gram to Feinstein

Shouldn't we be firing off nicely supportive missives, encouraging him in his efforts to bankrupt the USA within the decade and to make the EU the best place in the world for businesses old and new?

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Nigel 11

Re: Business opportunity

Elon Musk was mentioned earlier.

I doubt it was his plan, but who is better-placed to set up a data-haven outside all existing legislatures? On Mars, maybe?

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Would you let cops give your phone a textalyzer scan after a road crash?

Nigel 11

Isn't using headphones, and therefore being unable to hear outside events clearly an offence also

Not explicitly. Deaf people are allowed to drive (unlike blind people, or people who are visually impaired and who are not wearing the spectacles or contacts that make them legal).

It might be supporting evidence for a charge of "driving without due care and attention".

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Nigel 11

Re: Evidence is available from the phone company

True in the UK. Can anyone fill us in on whether this is true in the USA? Or whether there are legal reasons that a mobile phone company cannot comply within the current legal framework?

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Nigel 11

Re: Jut a thought

Neat idea that won't work.

The signal strength transmitted by a phone varies across four orders of magnitude (2mW to 2W) depending on signal conditions. On the move those conditions will vary rapidly, depending on locations of nearby vehicles, buildings, interference, and cell-stations. How is the car going to distinguish a phone running at 2mW a yard from its sensors (ie inside) and a phone running at 2W 30 yards from its sensors (inverse squares, 30^2 ~= 1000). That latter case may be a pedestrian, or even a person in a nearby residence.

On top of which telematics is increasingly in use. Not common for cars yet, though some insurers offer better rates if you install a monitor, but large freight vehicles continuously report their location and engine parameters to base for scheduling and maintenance purposes. Using the same mobile network. Transmitting from the lorry less than two meters from your car.

A better idea would be a non-functional micro-cell within a car that captures any mobiles inside, thereby preventing them from communicating outside. But I don't think the suppressor-bubble could be defined precisely enough to not extend outside the car. Then there's telematics. Then there's the likelyhood that it would prevent people calling the emergency services after accidents. So again no go. (They really ought to install such equipment in prisons, though! )

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