* Posts by Nigel 11

3206 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

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

Nigel 11

Indeed, it's likely that the second thing you do after a crash is to whip out your phone and call for help. This law would make people reluctant to use their mobile phones right after a crash, which would inevitably cost lives.

Oh for heaven's sake! What policeman, prosecutor or juror would believe that someone was on the phone to the emergency services immediately *before* a crash, without any good cause? On top of which the emergency services record all communications, so the entire exchange would be available to dispel any remaining doubt. Indeed, the most likely use of such a call would be to establish a more precise time-line.

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Nigel 11

Re: One issue....

@BebopWeBop

So would you ban drivers from conversing with passengers? IMO that has to be the baseline level of acceptable driver distraction. If talking to passengers is acceptable, so should talking to the car.

It's surely obvious that a driver who has his eyes focussed on a mobile's screen is blind to whatever is happening on the road in front of him, as surely as if he has a cloth over his eyes. That is an unacceptable and trivially reducible risk. If you want to use your phone hands-on then pull off the road.

The difference may show up if the nature of the accidents (in a simulator!) were compared. I expect it would show that vocal distraction results in an increased rate of minor "fender-bender" collisions, whereas hands-on use of a phone to text results in an increased rate of potentially fatal smashes into stationary or oncoming vehicles at full road speed.

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Nigel 11

You seem to have an attitude problem, where you ought to have a dash-cam.

I can protect myself from idiots such as you describe by not trusting the signals of other road users in front of me to such an extent that I cannot do any emergency avoidance if the signals are wrong. It's called defensive driving and ISTR it's recommended in the highway code.

I cannot protect myself from a driver who runs into the rear of my car at high speed because he is not looking at the road in front of him. Especially so if I am riding a bicycle, moped, or horse. Which is why I think the law ought to come down far harder on text-drivers (harder even than slightly drunk drivers; their reaction time may be degraded, but in most cases they'll at least have slowed their car before impact)

Oh, and I really cannot believe that you have never mis-signalled yourself. Perhaps in a hire-car in a foreign country, with the indicator stick on the other side of the wheel to where you were expecting? Fault is not black and white. Most air accidents are found to be the result of several items of less than fatal bad luck or malpractice, all fatally coinciding. A few are purely bad luck. You don't usually have to worry about prosecuting the pilot. He's dead. But he rarely deserved more than a reprimand and the opportunity to learn from his error. That's why there is mandatory reporting of near misses, and a similar analysis of what caused them. Motoring fines and the license points system (UK) ought to do something similar for motorists.

I once drove through a red light and was hauled over by the police (they let me off with a good talking-to). The cause was that I was in a blazing row with my soon-to-be-ex. I've learned my lesson. I'll never again get into a row while driving -- I'll put it off or pull over. I thank that policeman for using his discretion.

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Nigel 11

Re: Simple

Mandatory dash cam pointed at the driver. You wouldn't allow that.

Given appropriate legal safeguards and limits, why not? I'd suggest a recording overwritten on a 30-second loop, continuing for five seconds after something causes the airbags to deploy and then locking the recording. The law might mandate disclosure or it might merely allow judge and jury to draw inferences from a driver's refusal to do so. Further safeguards required, allowing a driver to insist on a lawyer and independant technical expert before unlocking the recording.

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Nigel 11

Re: 2 words: black box

You can't be hit from behind and propelled into the car in front and be at fault for that.

If you have stopped at (say) a red light for what is likely to be more than a second or two, and have not engaged your handbrake, then you are at least partly to blame if the handbrake would have held your car short of impacting the one in front. (The footbrake is ineffective because the jolt of the impact from behind is likely to knopck your foot off the brake).

Note for US readers: I'm assuming manual transmission "stick shift" in neutral and UK standard controls.

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Nigel 11

Re: One issue....

Handsfree use of a phone in a car causes a deterioration that is similar to (if not exactly the same) as holding on to the damn thing.

Sorry but that is utter bollocks. To text from a phone manually you have to focus your eyes on the phone screen. You are then driving completely blind to what is happening on the road in front of you. If you talk to your car it is the same as talking to your passengers. Yes, they might distract you. No, they don't make it impossible for you to watch the road ahead. Until they ban talking to passengers (hopefully never) there's no reason not to talk to a robotic device. Nature has separated visual processing from vocal communication for very good evolutionary reasons that applied ever since we started living and hunting in groups.

And yes, there are idiots who are incapable of talking to a passenger while looking straight ahead. They ought to be banned from driving but it's less easy to catch them.

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Nigel 11

Re: One issue....

It might require analysis of your car's black box or in-depth forensic analysis of your phone log. It might be a legitimate objection where current hardware is involved -- one that might and should result in some guilty drivers escaping justice. If you claim (in court, on oath) that the texting just before an accident was voice-generated, the obligation is on the prosecution to prove you are lying. Fundamental principles of both UK and US law "innocent until proved guilty" and "guilty beyond reasonable doubt".

So such legislation should also impose an obligation on future phones and car control systems to log and distinguish texts submited by voice separately from those manually keyed in. That should not be technically difficult, and makes the problem go away within a few years.

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Nigel 11

Re: They don't actually need this

What if BOTH vehicles are texting, one of you hands your phone over, the other doesn't. You are prosecuted because the evidence shows you were texting.

Well, the law should make it clear that the police are obliged to treat all phones in cars involved in the accident equally. I'd go so far as to say that the law should invalidate all phone evidence in this circumstance, since it suggests police prejudice. Your objection applies to volunteering your phone, when the other driver can legally refuse to. It goes away if there is a legal obligation for both drivers to provide phone evidence and for the police to obtain it from both/all parties.

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Nigel 11

Re: Voted yes for exact same reason

The evidence obtainable through this is strictly limited by a law so the police cannot use it for fishing expeditions looking for other stuff.

This was stated in the article and is the reason I did not object. The legislation needs the most stringent safeguards so that the police do not go fishing - preferably jail time for any cop who abuses his authority in this circumstance. Also, the phone owner should be allowed to surrender his phone to the police (still locked) and have the right to refuse to unlock it until it can be arranged for his lawyer and a neutral technical expert to be present to ensure fair play and no unauthorised data access. Few would bother, but there *might* be data of enormous commercial value on the phone, or data that could make the owner vulnerable to blackmail, quite apart from any possibility of self-incrimination.

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Astroboffin discovers exoplanet by accident ... in 1917

Nigel 11

Grey Dwarf?

"Polluted white dwarf" is a bit of a mouthful, isn't it? May I suggest "Grey Dwarf"?

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Nigel 11

Re: Exoplanet? Endoplanet??

An endoplanet is not entirely impossible given the stellar evolution of a large star into a red giant, and the physical nature of a red giant. The planet won't be there for very long, though.

ISTR reading that it's the final fate of planet Earth, just before the sun goes bang. Certainly the final fate of Mercury and Venus.

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Graphene solar panels harvest energy from rain

Nigel 11

Re: Roof tank?

That's because everyone without solar panels is subsidising you.

That's partly because everyone without solar panels is subsidising you.

Anyway, money is a poor guide to sustainability. When you are doing anything that requires burning fossil fuel, where does global warming feature in your rate-of-return calculations? It's worse than saying that vandalism increases the country's GDP. (Which it does, if/when the damage is repaired). When the sea rises and swamps much of the World's most desirable farmland and real estate, the damage will be irreparable.

A better measure is EROEI (Energy return on Energy invested). Solar panels now score well, even using a 20-year life expectancy for panels which I suspect will be lasting a century or more once any 20-year design "bugs" have been ironed out of their design, and even if sited in a seriously sub-optimal climate such as the UK's. In the best locations for solar panels (sunny dry places) it now takes just over a year for a panel in an optimal location to generate enough energy to generate another panel from raw materials. That number is still improving quite rapidly. (To say nothing of the potential of perovskite panels replacing silicon ones. Watch that space).

The energy storage problem does urgently need a solution, though.

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The future of Firefox is … Chrome

Nigel 11

Re: I'm in mood for collecting downvotes...

Maybe I don't want Chrome because it's made by data thief Google?

Surely one should assume, at least for now, that however much like Chrome the Mozilla user experience becomes, privacy invasion is not part of their plan?

If evidence emerges to the contrary, or even if enough people much prefer the current Firefox UI, it's a sure bet that Firefox will fork.

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Cash, fear and uncertainty: The Holy Trinity of Bitcoin and blockchain

Nigel 11

Re: Nerd Mona Lisas

Actually, the really rich buy good land.

Why only the really rich?

Obviously, it makes no more sense to buy one square foot of land than it does to buy one square foot of a building. But in the case of a building, there are plenty of REITs (Real Estate Investment Trusts) which own a portfolio of buildings in which you can buy shares. If you wish, you can look up the exact buildings and the exact number of shares and work out what you have legal rights in when you buy £1000 or whatever of shares.

Oddly, I am not aware of any collective investment vehicle for investing in good farmland or farms. Somebody maybe ought to set one up. Or am I just insufficiently well informed?

Also the gevernment's recent tax changes on second home stamp duty and buy to let seem aimed at encouraging larger collective investment vehicles to be the entities which own homes and rent them out. Why, though? Is it better to rent (ultimately, through other intermediaries) from Grainger (listed on the London Stock Exchange) rather than from Shiela Bloggs, who rents out her one old flat that she doesn't need since she married Joe? Or is it just easier for the government to take a larger slice and screw generation rent even more?

And for keeping track of who owns how many square feet, without trusting the intermediary holding company / Investment Trust ... maybe we come full circle to Bitcoin and its like.

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Half of people plug in USB drives they find in the parking lot

Nigel 11

Re: Ok People

Just possibly, because your large/important file/partition was encrypted.

OTOH if a random hostile has seen that there is encrypted data on the drive it gives them a stronger incentive to try to sneak spyware in to your computer via the returned drive. So retrieve your encrypted file/partition using a sacrificial computer. If you are truly paranoid then validity-test the retrieved data on a second sacrificial computer that is not networked.

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Nigel 11

Re: 2 points

Maybe the three (or 103, 203) that they omitted from the study were the three that got totally crushed under wheels in the parking lots before anybody picked them up?

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Nigel 11

Re: The real issue

Sorry, wrong. You are assuming that what appears to be a USB memory stick really is a USB memory stick, and one that lacks any extra unanticipated/ unannounced capabilities at that.

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Nigel 11

Re: I'll plug one in...

What line of work are you in?

A USB stick can pass all these paranoid precautions, and yet be a means to transmit everything that is stored on it down a (possibly non-licensed) radio channel at a later date.

You are safe if you do not have anything stored on it that you are unhappy to be made public. Otherwise, one word. Don't.

Of course, the NSA and/or the Chinese have probably already sneaked similar spying technology into your organisation's network infrastructure.

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Nigel 11

Maybe large biz needs to invest in some educational posters

It will have to be an extraordinary large biz to not have a significant fraction of employees who will take any such poster as a recipe for what to do in order to f**k the b*****ds that own the place. Many, its a majority that will be thinking that way.

How do we think that list of clients and potential tax-dodgers got out of Mossack Fonesca? An external hacker? Really?

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Nigel 11

FIx the hardware

There are still a few employers who know how to solve the problem. Fill all the external USB ports with epoxy glue. Except it's not easy to find PCs with PS/2 keyboard and mouse these days. Otherwise there's bound to be at least one employee who will unplug his keyboard so that he can plug in a random USB stick and investigate with his mouse, or bring in a USB hub.

(Trusted security-vetted technical staff will be able to unlock the case and plug in a USB device to the internal USB header on the rare occasions that they need to).

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Nigel 11

Re: Safe for me

There's no auto-run on Linux. It's a safe practice to plug in random USB sticks.

Depends on your enemies.

It's not hard to build a USB stick that charges up a capacitor to hundreds of volts and then releases its charge down the USB signal wires. Exit USB port(s) if you are lucky, whole PC if you are not.

Or the stink-bombs and pyrotechnic devices discussed above. Borderline illegal, but even so ....

The security services and expensive private espionage services are reputed to have USB sticks that will run through a repertoire of system penetration attacks by doing things on the USB bus that no USB stick (or no legitimate USB device) would do. The simplest and most obvious is to emulate a keyboard and/or mouse...

If a random luser can mount a random USB stick then next thing you know he will be opening files with various media players and libraries, all of which can tickle bugs which in turn might result in any data that the random Joe can access being deleted, corrupted, encrypted, or e-mailed to places that they shouldn't be. I wonder how many such bugs are currently known only to the black-hats out there? So even if your system has all the latest patches installed, are you safe from bigboobs.mp3, cute_kitten.jpg, payroll.ods, 00reward_for_safe_return_of_this_memstick.doc, ...

Finally what about a USB stick that works perfectly normally for reading and writing, but also contains a battery, microprocessor, and (non wi-fi) wireless device? Plug in, do full device write, check, reformat, pronounce safe, re-use. Exit whatever corporate secrets you stored on it through the nearest window or wall a few hours or days or months later.

Oh, and in respect of this last one ... how sure are you that the virgin USB sticks you ordered from Amazon or wherever haven't been doctored? Especially if your employer is in a similar line of work to Mossack Fonesca ....

Read Alice in Wonderland again. "Eat me". "Drink me".

Good luck.

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Nigel 11

When the office smells like rotten egg and faeces, the culprit will be shamed.

Just make sure you wear gloves when you assemble it. I suspect it will be some clueless executive's office that will get stinked out, and that he'll hire a private forensics company to try to find the culprit and fire him ( after he's tried to convince the local plod that it's bio-terrorists, and the plod laughed in his face).

Maybe safer to chuck that perfumed USB stick into your local competitor's car-park? Or scale it down to essence of Poundland air-freshener instead of essence of polecat?

Most entertaining of all might be a few grams of cannabis ....

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PC market shambling towards an unquiet grave

Nigel 11

Raspberry PC

Buy yourself a mini-ITX motherboard with an Intel J1800 or J1900 passive-cooled CPU (NB not all such motherboards are fanless - check first!) Add 8Gb of RAM and an SSD and assemble it in a tiny mini-ITX case with a "brick" external PSU. Voila - no moving parts, total silence. A slightly larger case will also have space for a 3.5 inch multi-Tb HDD should you want that, and the faint whirring and clicking noises it brings.

It's "slow". It's plenty fast enough to run a Linux Desktop, Firefox, Chrome if you want it, LibreOffice without pain. Windows I cannot vouch for. It actually boots (linux) faster than any PC with an HDD however fast its CPU. This is one of my home PCs. It uses so little electricity when idling, I leave it turned on all the time.

Why you have to build it yourself for lack of anybody selling it pre-assembled, I don't know. Isn't "Tiny, totally silent, no moving parts" the sort of thing that sells a new PC when the old one is refusing to become obsolete within 36 months?

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Russian boffins want to nuke asteroids

Nigel 11

Re: Mihail, change the status to "Brown Trouser Time"

Sure that's the derivation? It's the same instinctive reaction, but I'd have thought that the "sickness" related more to the human who is legging it with a bear in angry pursuit!

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Nigel 11

Re: See you next time around!

Surely some of the (now radioactive) detritus would stay on the same relative path

So?

If that detritus is now small enough to burn up in the upper atmosphere then it'll be a small radiation dose deposited globally, small in comparison to the results of atmospheric H-bomb testing (which we did in the past, and survived with few casualties). If it still reaches the ground the radioactivity will likely be far less of a disaster than the consequences of megatonnes (or gigatonnes) of kinetic energy, which in turn will be a fraction of the original disaster if we had not used the nuke.

Of course, if we started planning now to get a nuclear-powered ion-drive tug on standby in orbit, we would not have to resort to desperate measures at some unknown time in the future. It would not be a significant radioactive re-entry hazard until its core had been powered up for some time, at which point it would no longer be in earth orbit. If virgin enriched uranium fuel got vaporised in a launch accident and/or lost in the ocean, that would not be any sort of radiological disaster.

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Britain is sending a huge nuclear waste shipment to America. Why?

Nigel 11

Re: Deep Disposal

I was thinking of (non)-detectable amounts of radioactive isotopes in the water at the surface. Such pollution will of course will be high close to the site of the accident/dump on the ocean floor once the containment vessels dissolve, but will remain undetectable a kilometer or more above. The stuff from Chernobyl is dispersed over a thin skin of the earth's surface, and has been less of a catastrophe than the doomsters said it would be. Anything lost in an ocean ultimately gets dispersed in water kilometers deep, so far more diluted, plus water from the ocean floor mixes only slowly with the ocean's surface water (and far more slowly still if it's the stagnant Hadean depths of an ocean trench, rather than just the ordinary ocean floor with slow deep circulation).

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Nigel 11

Re: So are you saying....

As I understand it, in a Thorium fuel cycle you have to start the cycle with a reactor fuelled with enriched Uranium. You use that to irradiate Th232 fuel which breeds fissionable U233. This then fissions in situ. Over time the U233-enriched Thorium fuel becomes capable of sustaining a reactor and breeding further U233 without needing any further enriched uranium as input. At that point the world could shut down all U235-enrichment operations.

Plutonium is bred in significant quantities in any Uranium fuelled reactor and can be separated from the used Uranium fuel by purely chemical means. This is a significant nuclear proliferation and terrorism risk. In contrast no significant amount of Plutonium is bred in a Thorium-fuel cycle. Uranium-233 is fissile and could be separated from Thorium by purely chemical means, but it would be heavily contaminated with other highly radioactive but non-fissionable Uranium isotopes which would make what was separated very difficult to handle and weaponise. The longer Thorium fuel is used, the more difficult it becomes to separate usable bomb material from it.

And yes, you could put natural Uranium rods into a Thorium reactor core to irradiate them and thereby generate Plutonium for bombs. Which is why civil nuclear plants would need to be regularly inspected and audited by an international agency so everybody can be as sure as possible that's not happening. Ultimately there's no way to have nuclear power without the possibility of a malign government making bomb material. But it is completely possible to have nuclear power without making large amounts of bomb material as an unwanted by-product, that has to be kept safe against misuse for many millennia!

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Nigel 11

Re: Deep Disposal

"We're very sorry to announce the ship carrying 700kg of nuclear waste to the US has unexpectedly sunk in the deepest bit of the Atlantic..."

Which would be far less disastrous than doom-mongers will tell you. Even in the worst case if the whole lot dissolves within a decade, the dilution factor is so great that it might never be even detectable at the surface of the Atlantic. They've lost a good few nuclear-powered submarines down there. Nobody can tell you where(*) or point at any nuclear pollution caused thereby.

Personally (see above) I think the best place for nuclear waste is glassified and dumped in the Hadean zone at the bottom of a deep ocean subduction trench.

(*) unless they have access to top-secret military data, of course.

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Nigel 11

Re: So are you saying....

that's why we have light water reactors burning enriched Uranium instead of a Thorium fuel cycle. The latter doesn't produce much of any use for making bombs.

But what we now know about global warming and CO2 pollution indicates that we desperately DO need nuclear reactors. Also, that we are overly paranoid about radiation. The worst-case accidents have already happened and have been orders of magnitude less harmful than the nuclear doom-mongers have predicted. Whereas the worst-case non-nuclear accidents (melting Antarctica, acidifying all the oceans) may still be possible to avert.

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Nigel 11

Yes. The nuclear industry is prevented from even contemplating several solutions to the nuclear waste problem, though it is now apparent that even the non-CO2 emissions from coal-fired power stations pose a greater threat. (Mercury, etc.) We've had the worst-case nuclear disasters (Chernobyl, Fukushima) and it's now clear that consequences are orders of magnitude less serious than the anti-nuclear propagandists said. (Not that we want to encourage any repeats! )

What solutions to the waste issue? The obvious one is to glassify the waste, clad the glass in further layers of containment, then dump it into a deep ocean trench where it will first get covered by sediment and then drawn down into the Earth's interior by geological subduction. The bottom of such a trench is the Hadean zone. There's little life down there, none of which could survive near the surface because the immense pressure alters its biochemistry, and no ocean circulation exists to mix water from down there up to the surface in less than geological time.

If you do the sums, should the inconcievable happen and all the waste manage to dissolve out of the glass matrix, the volume of water in a deep ocean trench is great enough to dilute it to harmlessness long before it reaches even the normal ocean floor depths.

But that's banned by international treaty, and will stay that way until Antarctica starts to melt and the true folly of burning coal and oil is revealed. That will be far too late.

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Nigel 11

Re: Odd Decision & Odd Timing

I presume, given that it is coming from Dounreay, that it is used fuel rods out of the profotype fast breeder reactor that once operated there. in which case they are highly enriched but also highly radioactively contaminated. Perfect material for a terrorist to construct a nuclear-fizzle radiological bomb from, assuming he doesn't much care about his long-term health.

If the USA can either store it in long-term security or reprocess it into less-enriched Uranium (ie dilute it with U238) then surely we are better-off for them taking it off our hands?

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Bezos defends Amazon culture in letter to shareholders

Nigel 11

Re: Yes, but ...

unless they want a dodgy patch in their CV ...

I'd have thought "Recruited by XYZ inc. Discovered after a few months that I simply hated working there because of a mismatch between their culture and my own. Left for ..." was acceptable provided it's not repeated too often (preferably not repeated at all).

Of course it guarantees that no company that is trying to emulate XYZ's culture will offer you a job, but that's a job you really don't want in any case.

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Windows 7's grip on the enterprise desktop is loosening

Nigel 11

Re: "huge numbers of people thought that sucked so hard that they are still running XP"

XP ... PCs that run mission-critical software that won't run on any other platform.

A related group is PCs that run control software for some really expensive lab or factory hardware which is still useful to the organisation. Replacing the equipment is out of the question (often because it's not mission-critical, just useful) and would cost a six- or seven-figure sum.

So we stick to running XP (or even Windows 98, Windows 3.1) until the day when the controlled equipment breaks down in an unfixable way, or until we can no longer fix the computer. (yes, we have two or three spare ancient PCs in stock, so provided they don't die in storage we're set for a good while yet).

And if such a business has to fork out half a million because the supply of obsolete PCs has dried up before the obsolete widget-spangler dies, that's a half-million's worth of guaranteed anti-Microsoft sentiment.

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Furious English villagers force council climbdown over Satan's stone booty

Nigel 11
Coat

Re: Rock? That's not a rock.

Rename the road ...

Spinal Tap way?

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Nigel 11

Re: Didn't they . . .

Fascinating. I'd never heard of the Royston cave. And when I searched for images of the cave, I found this. Which isn't actually of the cave itself, but of another rock in the middle of the road, a mere stone's throw from the cave. (Sorry, couldn't resist).

http://www.megalithic.co.uk/a558/a312/gallery/England/Hertfordshire/Image003.jpg

So there is precedent for turning a rock into a (remarkably tasteful) traffic island.

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Nigel 11

Re: Move the bloody thing

Very many junctions have a plastic thingy with a keep-left logo on it in the place where this rock is sitting. Often the plastic thingy is on a raised island with kerbstones and a brick or concrete interior. Some are in the middle of busy A-roads. So why is this rock an obstruction, when millions of traffic islands are not?

I'd suggest painting an area of white cross-hatching around the rock thereby making it officially part of a traffic island. Any motorist who hits it after that will have been contravening the highway code and not giving due attention to the road markings, and can be told to FOAD. I'd also suggest that at the same time, painting a give-way line at the actual junction would improve the road for all of its users.

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That one phone the FBI wanted unlocked? Here are 63 more, says ACLU

Nigel 11

Re: I assume this law only applies to companies within the US

France might be a dubious example. They seem very keen on no encryption just now.

China would be fun. "We cannot unlock it here. It is locked using Chinese technology which we are not permitted to export from China. The phone must be physically transferred to our facility in China".

There are other jurisdictions which would be even more fun.

In the near future such a facility might be the first business to relocate off-planet.

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Legal right to 10Mbps broadband is 'not enough', thunders KCOM chief

Nigel 11

10Mbps is enough to access all the services which the government increasingly insists that you use. It would be a far better thing to give every household in the country the right to be connected at 10Mbps without any extra(*) payment being demanded, rather than some weasel-worded pseudo-right to demand a 100Mbps service provided you are willing to fork out £££(£) to have it installed.

10Mbps is something that realistically could be provided almost everywhere using existing copper infrastructure, merely by installing extra signal processing equipment in junction boxes and occasionally up poles. Which is why it could be the subject of an unconditional universal service obligation, and I hope that it soon will be.

There are significant numbers of people living in rural parts (and I do not mean the Outer Hebrides) who dream of getting 10Mbps. One person I know gets 2Mbps maximum, providing it's not raining hard, degrading to no service at all when it's really wet. He is only a 20-minute drive from Coventry. I count myself lucky to have 8Mbps degrading to 4 in bad weather.

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BMW complies with GPL by handing over i3 car code

Nigel 11

Go-faster patches

It will be interesting to see if there is now a flood of completely open BMW i3 go-faster software, and what effect it has on the car's hardware components and the insurance industry. (c.f. go-faster chips in engine ECUs).

Interesting times.

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Hospital servers in crosshairs of new ransomware strain

Nigel 11

which in this case could be construed as attempted murder.

Only "attempted"?

It is virtually certain that people are dead because of these scum. Proving it would be hard, but doctors make life and death decisions every day, and being unable to access some vital piece of data about a critically ill person is almost certain to have tipped the balance away from the decision that would have given him the best chance of survival.

Only the fallability of human justice holds me back from suggesting that ransomware scammers should be treated as organ banks when convicted. Certainly they should be ranked well below honest hit-men and only marginally above IS suicide bombers.

Sadly, it will take some huge infrastructure failure consequential on ransomware, like a mid-air collision between jumbo jets or another Fukushima, before this is realized.

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Nigel 11

Countermeasures needed

It would of course be illegal, but here's a nice fantasy.

Malware scammer wakes up in a white room. His lower body hurts. Pulling back the bedclothes he notices a pair of new surgical wounds with neat stitches. His eyes focus on the brightly coloured screen opposite. "Warning. Your kidneys have been impounded. To regain access, please use the terminal to pay us BTC 10000. Should you leave this room, it is likely that cessation of life will follow within 48 hours, and that two people awaiting transplants will be made very happy by your unwise decision."

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Zombie SCO rises from the grave again

Nigel 11

Why can't IBM finish them?

Hasn't IBM won any damages? If they have, then why can't they send in the bailiffs to sieze absolutely everything that the bankrupt SCO owns in lieu of payment -- most especially its claimed intellectual property rights? Since IBM won't be pursuing legal action against itself, that would be the absolute end of this farce.

I'm guessing that USA law is broken in ways that we cannot even begin to imagine.

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The FBI lost this round against Apple – but it aims to win the war

Nigel 11

Interesting question for USAians

If the choice comes down to a suspected backdoor owned by your own government or a suspected backdoor owned by the Chinese government, which do you choose and why?

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Love our open API? Talk to our lawyers, says If This Then That

Nigel 11

Re: Like SCO

Remember SCO?

I'm sure they do. It was extremely profitable for lawyers (on both sides). Probably far more so than running a real business.

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US govt says it has cracked killer's iPhone, legs it from Apple fight

Nigel 11

Re: Fingerprints

Which is one reason why I don't trust biometrics. The other being that if it needs my real finger, there are plenty of bad guys who will detach my finger from the rest of me.

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Nigel 11

Re: Luggage telltale

I just use a cable tie. Serves the same purpose - if someone has rummaged in my luggage I'll probably know. (Depending on whether they replace it with one the same colour with the same little scratch on it).

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Nigel 11

Re: And now this is the worst

Everyone now knows that obsolete iPhones can be hacked. Current ones?

Law-abiding people probably don't want Apple or anyone else to make their phones as utterly unbreakably secure as they could. I'm quite happy with the idea that the NSA and suchlike could break any phone provided it was a matter of several days work in a forensic hardware lab costing tens of millions of dollars. I just don't want my phone to be an instantly open book to any slightly curious government employee. There's probably some degree of collusion behind the scenes between Apple and the NSA.

I don't know about the USA, but in the UK what would happen if I was still alive, would be that they would simply tell me to unlock my phone for them to investigate. And I almost certainly would, after a greater or lesser amount of protest and delay depending on the circumstances. Because if I outright refuse, they will jail me. There are some safeguards here compared to electronic backdoors, although many don't see it. The threat is ineffective in the hands of a single rogue policeman. More importantly they can't do this without me knowing that they are doing it.

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Nigel 11

Re: Do as we ask...

There will never be a perfectly secure device

If it is possible (even in theory) to eavesdrop on key distribution via a quantum communications channel , then the universe does not work the way that we think it does.

And I'm pretty sure a device can be designed which will destructively erase itself as soon as its password has not been re-input for x hours, where x is smaller than the minimum amount of time required to reprogram it because of engineered-in slowness of its programming interface. Fail-destroyed rather than fail-safe. Whether anyone other than secret agents would want a "Mission Impossible" phone, is quite another matter.

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Oculus Rift review-gasm round-up: The QT on VR

Nigel 11

Re: The cord attached to the headset is a problem!

Also a surprising problem.

1200 x 1080 x 8 x 3 x 90 bits/second is a raw, complertely uncompressed 2.8 Gbit/sec. Surely a local wireless interface with a range of a few feet is completely feasible? (I almost said "trivially").

Why wasn't it designed to be wireless from the start?

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Oracle v Google: Big Red wants $9.3bn in Java copyright damages

Nigel 11

Re: Java property of Oracle

Not all books are copyrightable in all aspects. Books which implement well-known "APIs" are not copyrightable in respect of the patterns commonly established by the API.

Tor example, anyone can publish a calendar with one month per page, with months and days having the canonical names in your local language, with seven columns representing the days of the week, with the week-numbers, the public holidays and the phases of the moon marked, and so on. These details will be (and must be) the same in every competitor's calendar.

All that stuff is the API for a scheduling entity called a "Year".

This has also been thrashed out in other areas of human endeavour. For example, there is one and only one pattern of pipes and brackets and holes of particular heights and diameters that allows an exhaust pipe to fit any particular model of car. Copying that pattern in all details is necessary in order that a replacement exhaust pipe can be fitted to that car. The courts have established that auto manufacturers should not have a monopoly on the supply of spare exhausts by virtue of copyright over the external details (the Car to Exhaust API). They retain copyright on the internal design of their design of exhaust system, because there exists a near-infinity of designs all of which can perform the same function, and competitors can and should design their own internals.

I had hoped that the eventual demise of Caldera's claims over the Unix API was the end for lawyers claiming copyright over software APIs. Sadly, it seems not to have been.

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