* Posts by Tom 13

7611 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

Headmaster freezes schoolkids for Gaia

Tom 13

First Dave is probably a 'Merkin like me

and thinks of charcoal as that stuff which comes from the Kingston company and is made as much from coal as wood. Not sure how carbon neutral that stuff is, but then not being a tree-worshipper myself, I don't care.

‘Blogger not a journalist’ says Oregon court

Tom 13

Except that your point ought also

invalidate the shield law for journalists too. Because it is, as you correctly point out, a license to defame, at least here in the States. I understand Brits have different rules, and have to pay a bit more attention to defamation issues.

Tom 13

And if she weren't a fool*

the verdict of the Oregon court would be overturned in a heart-beat because the law does not offer equal protection to all citizens.

I'm strongly against shield laws because they create privileged classes in society. Journalist should be held to the same standards as anybody else who says something in a public forum.

*from the common knowledge quote "only a fool represents himself in a court of law."

Verizon denies blocking competitive Google Wallet

Tom 13

Doesn't matter to me, I tried Google Wallet once.

I tried to purchase three or four different things using it, never got merchandise, and never got money back. So I just quit using it and won't touch it anymore. I regard it as more of a rip-off than PayPal was when E-Bay was worth browsing.

Former HP boss Patricia Dunn dies at 58

Tom 13

Any good scam needs a pattsie to take the fall.

Unfortunately, all too often it is easier to setup an innocent person than someone who is crooked. And once they've been setup, it's damned hard to sort out the truth, because the liars claim the same things the innocents truly report.

May she rest in peace knowing the justice and mercy of the all-knowing God who can actually sort such things out.

Carrier IQ VP: App on millions of phones not a privacy risk

Tom 13

Because the real glitches that

are problematic to solve are the intermittent ones. Ones where the software has to be installed before the event happens, captures the data, and delivers it to the troubleshooters when a good connection is available.

That doesn't mean it doesn't comes without security risks. I'm in the camp that says users should be appraised of those risks and allowed to decide whether or not to provide the info.

Tom 13

If we accept your definitions, then MS DOES have keyloggers installed

in their product. And they can send that information back to base whenever MS program it too.

Now, in the case of MS, the programming interrupts the send to request your permission, which makes it legal. It may be legal for the carriers as well. The permission may be buried in the legaleese most of us breeze through when we sign the contracts.

The issue I see for the phones is that for all the holes in MS software, they are better separated than the stuff on our phones, which makes this a bigger security threat, even if it is intended as a purely diagnostic tool.

Globe slowly warming, insists 'Hansen's Bulldog'

Tom 13

Yes, it is true that there are spread-spectrum analysis techniques

that allow one to discern a signal which is ordinarily hidden in the noise.


they depend on having data across tens or hundreds of times the cycle for the random noise.

So tell me again, what is the exact periodicity of the ice-age/tropical-age cycle for the Earth? And, how many times that cycle do we have reliable observational data?

Navy training mine washes ashore on Miami Beach

Tom 13

The first time I read it as

"polluted with condominiums."

Although that might be more accurate now that I think about it...

Dead at 13: Napster 1998-2011

Tom 13

Title is wrong - Napster died in 2001

when the Appeals Court ruled it's business model invalid. The Zombie it left in its place isn't Napster, and for all the wrong they did, the service they set up is one that no commercial service has ever, or will ever be, able to duplicate. Obscure songs from lost artists were distributed by people who simply loved the music.

Fahrenheit 451 published as Bradbury finally succumbs to ebooks

Tom 13

Not even sure he even qualifies for Fantasy,

but then I'm a hardliner on that. SF is about improbable but possible, Fantasy is about the impossible but rational-sounding*. So when writing Fantasy you get to break the rules at the start of the adventure, but once you've replaced the bit of physics you don't like with something you do, you have to strictly follow the new rules. Bradbury isn't very good at that, he sort of breaks them at will.

*I think it was Sam Moskowitz who first wrote this distinction in one of his histories of SF, but I don't recall the precise wording or which book it was, although probably Explorers of the Infinite.

PROVEN: Violent video games mess with your head

Tom 13

Don't "feel," THINK it!

Your criticism is valid and rational. Don't couch it in touchy-feely jibberish!

Malcolm Gladwell, tipping points and Climategate

Tom 13

Oh, I wouldn't go so far as to say we could NEVER

destroy the planet. I think using enough of you icons in reality could do that. But we haven't yet, and those are the only way I think we could destroy the planet.

BUSTED TWO: Carrier IQ monitor-ware on iPhones too?

Tom 13

And even if you DO believe the Nokia rep,

that doesn't mean the company selling Nokia's doesn't install it after the fact.

Tom 13

Let me fix that for you:

"...it's never been demonstrated that this software logs anything significant on an iPhone..."

It has been demonstrated to log all keystrokes via SSL connections on Android. If that isn't significant, I don't know what is. And the caution here is that yesterday the Mactards were saying it wasn't on the iPhone at all. Today the investigator says it is there, but he hasn't located anything problematic. Apparently he hasn't looked extensively at the installation yet, so a deeper inspection might find something which has been obfuscated. Note that I'm not blaming Apple if there is, just as I don't blame Google for the Android problem. This problem belongs squarely with the carriers who install the software and don't tell punters what they are doing.

Anonymous launches OpRobinHood against banks

Tom 13

Citation on the Credit Unions that were run by real criminals please.

As I recall, when the S&L crisis hit back in the 70s (what I think of as the First Mortgage crisis), the credit unions were in the best shape in terms of reserves. When The Fed dissolved the S&Ls they essentially threw the CUs in with the banks to mitigate the reserves hit the banks would otherwise have had to take. Up until that point the CUs were running the way people THINK banks should run - keeping sufficient reserves so they would never have to go into bankruptcy even if several of their large depositors did in a short period of time.

Tom 13

You obviously have no idea what a credit union is.

Mine is a small one in a rural area. It was started by employees of a local company who wanted better options than any of the local banks. Almost 25 years ago they issued me a credit card. And unlike the idiots from the retail banks who kept upping my credit limit, they kept it at the same amount for which they initially issued it: $500. They were also one of the first vendors in the area to issue debit cards.

Tom 13

That would be 5 of 10

in the 2011 report.* I'll pick a nit with the Fairfax County/Fairfax city split since they are essentially the same location, but removing one just pulls up Arlington, so the count would stay the same.


Tom 13

Some are, some aren't.

I've had accounts with several banks and two credit unions. Most of the banks were equal to or better than one of the credit unions (federal branch of government credit union that ran just like Citibank as far as balances and fees were concerned). I kept one of the credit unions (small one in a rural county) because I like them, but currently do most of my daily banking elsewhere for better interest rates.

Tom 13

Credit Unions won't fix it.

Not that I'm against them, in fact I belong to one. But Credit Unions report to the same regulators the banks do in the end, and can require a commercial bank who acts as the intermediary for processing their transactions. I know this because my electronic transactions were always getting screwed up when I first opened my account because the routing number on my check didn't match the routing number that was actually used to process the transaction behind the scenes. This has since ceased to be a problem.

MPs: This plan for proper navy carriers and jets is crazy!

Tom 13

Haven't you studied your history?

The best way our of a recession/depression has ALWAYS been a nice little war.

The problem these days is you have to do it in such a way that nobody launches the nukes...

Using virtual particles to get real random numbers

Tom 13
Black Helicopters

I'm told you can manufacture one sufficient for NSA cryptography

using a refractive filter, 7 working lava lamps, and a detector. Not sure of the exact details, I expect that's classified.

Keep the utopians out of my fridge

Tom 13

It's not just twine, it's the whole home automation industry.

I worked for about 3 years in it before I left for greener pastures. My timing was excellent as about a year later the company I worked for went bankrupt. By the time I left I concluded that while there were some cool gadgets, and some cool work with programming languages and APIs being done, at the end of the day that was it. There were no useful THINGS being done for the home user at an affordable price. Oh, and the outfit I worked for was being backed by the US National Association of Home Builders. They had a better shot at putting all the pieces together than most outfits.

Tom 13

Blame it on US broadcasters, especially news.

For some reason they have decided that "you and I" always sounds better than "you and me" and therefore preferentially use it, even when it is grammatically incorrect.

Irish banks settle with Oracle over banking software 'fiasco'

Tom 13

I dunno,

maybe we'd be better off if the banks were punting shed based outfits. They seem to be a fair bit safer than those moving average hedge fund mutual swap insurance policy mortgage backed security thing they have been investing in...

Russian Mars probe heads into space WITHOUT ENGINES

Tom 13
Black Helicopters

We beat back the Martian invasion in 1898,

and the governments here really expected us to be able to continue launching invasion vehicles at them without some sort of counter-response?

Moviemakers on a quest for their real-time 3D Holy Grail

Tom 13

This you elucidated the key problem for 3-D:

"...are given headaches by the glasses..."

They need a projection system that doesn't require glasses and produces something you can walk around. Until then, it continues to be Epic Fail.

Gates: Novell are sore losers, Word trounced WordPerfect

Tom 13

I don't give a damn how good the programmer is,

if he doesn't have access to the APIs, including ALL the syntax, he can't write a piece of software that will run properly on an OS. This had nothing to do with DOS/Windows vs NOS. Also see my post above about illegally leveraging the OS monopoly on the price front.

Tom 13

Pure FUD. WP 5.1 was perfectly stable under all versions of DOS

and even Windows 3.x. I know, I used both of them at the time and WP was the superior program. WP6.0 for Windows was crap, but as the other posters indicated, that was because MS used undocumented APIs in their programs. WP 6.1 was stable and still better than Word. Yes I am emphatic and bitter on this one because I depended on WP as my text editor for my graphics publishing duties at the time.

Tom 13

Not just the program quality, MS also illegally leveraged their OS monopoly

to undercut the competition on price. Here in the states MS sold "competitive upgrades" to WP for $100 a copy if you had a legal WP license. Full cost for the program matched the $350 price for a full copy of WP.

I'll grant MS the competitive edges they have won. I won't grant them competitive edges when they leveraged or lied about leveraging their OS monopoly.

High Court: TVCatchup reproduces copyrighted films ... in buffers

Tom 13

It's not necessarily money that constitutes damages.

Money frequently constitutes the quickest proxy for damages. The thinking is more along the lines of "no harm, no foul" or in this case, no illegality.

Tom 13

Okay, the one thing I still don't get from this article is

what damages is IPTV alleged to have caused the defendants?

Maybe not necessary under UK law, but required here in the US.

Tom 13

I don't read the article as anti-TVC, I read it as anti-court stupidity.

A buffer does not a storage unit make. My FIOS DVR will buffer a great deal more than 30 minutes when I'm watching a show, and no I don't mean recording it. I mean I flipped to the channel was watching the show, got interrupted with a phone call for 40 minutes and decide I want to rewind to where the I got the call and watch it from there. Granted FIOS as a cable provider has a license to do that, but that buffer is still different than when I hit the record button. The buffer goes away under various conditions (exceeds the amount of space available, overruns a spot where I'm set to record on two different channels, I flipped stations twice without coming back to my buffered show) while something I have actually recorded and stored does not.

Tom 13

While I like the idea, I'm not so sure it fixes the "Firefly/Babylon 5/Eureka" problem.

Part of the issue for these shows is that someone has to front the upfront money to do the production run before the show broadcasts. If most of the money is coming from a partner who, for whatever reason, has a money availability problem for a given season, it still gets canceled. This is what happened with Eureka. Everyone knew the show would do reasonably well and would make the investment back, but the major partner made commitments to something else and didn't have the upfront money for season 6, so the show was canceled.

I do like that it WOULD solve the Neilson problem - you work off actual streams instead of estimating based on samples.

Not so fast: Italian boffins say neutrinos not faster than light

Tom 13

Err, not quite.

While you have to be open to the possibility of something unexpected in the experimental results, when you have a well established and repeatedly tested theory, you have to triple quadruple check your theory and your experimental apparatuses to ensure your assumptions are true and your measurements are accurate. And you really do need independent verification* of your experimental results. Only then do you have to start working on a new theory.

*The triple quadruple checking should add to the impetus for someone to perform the independent verification.

SQUID calls 'virtual photons' into real existence

Tom 13

It's not the physicists' fault.

At 25% the effects in the equations become detectable at a reasonable cost (relative to other quantum and relativistic experiments). Even 5% lower than that and it can't be done at a reasonable cost. If you attempt to boost the relative speed higher, the cost of the equipment to move the mirror becomes unreasonable, even though the cost for the detection would go down.

Attention swingbellies: Pizza sauce is a healthy vegetable

Tom 13

I for one say Kudos! to the Frozen Food Institute.

Not withstanding El Reg's atypical failure to bite that hand that feeds it, the important bits here are what is NOT reported in the article. Having eaten more than my share of institutional food in the US public school system I will categorically state that Pizza day in school was always one of the better lunches, both nutritionally and taste wise. So what the nanny-ninnies at USDA are actually attempting to do is remove a healthy food source from the menu. Why I don't know, but that would be the net effect of what they were trying to do.

Android Market free-for-all blamed for malware avalanche

Tom 13

I expect Google will eventually recognize the

money making opportunity of a "Google Approved Android App" cert, which is available only at the Android Market place. And it leaves open the possibility of third party apps which aren't certified, but installed at your own risk.

Water utility hackers destroy pump, expert says

Tom 13

Sorry, it really isn't difficult for me

to imagine this being leveraged to a major incident with catastrophic consequences. I just don't see need to put fuel on the fire by publishing it.

Tom 13


The government guarantees a certain level of profitability for them to operate the utility, and thus the costs of the fines always gets passed to the consumer.


Tom 13

It's not up to the government to protect or fix it,

but under the umbrella of ensuring homeland security, it is a responsibility of the DHS to notify critical infrastructure stakeholders whenever and wherever a system vulnerability has been discovered.

I'm not discounting the lazy/cheap factor for the utilities, I just don't want DHS's lazy/cheap factor disregarded either. Particularly since the DHS statement about not being aware of any such vulnerability further enables the lazy/cheap utility.

Tom 13

Grendel, Martin, Hello? Anybody Home?!

Stuxnet was designed specifically to jump the air gap for the ideal system you describe. So Firewalls and air gaps are irrelevant. And the new malware is just a variant using a different hole.

The new touchy-feely Doctor Who trend: Worrying

Tom 13

ah Robot!

I think that was the very first Dr. Who episode I saw. PBS bought them and stripped them in block on Saturday afternoons so I always got to watch the whole story in one sitting. After that episode I was hooked.

Tom 13

Didn't need them.

The old show had Leela, who was far better with a Janis thorn than River has ever been with a gun, and Romana (Mary Tamm, not the mousy Lalla Ward) who at least until the writers dumbed her down way too much, could hold her own or best The Doctor.

Not that I'm objecting to Amy or River mind you.

Tom 13

Actually I liked all the Doctors up to the reboot.

Sometimes I didn't like the stories, and especially toward the end I HATED the production quality, but those things were clearly not the fault of the actors.

Although I do see they are walking quickly toward a brick wall that can't be avoided - too many regenerations were burned up before the reboot, and that's discounting the movies. The 13th Doctor is supposed to be evil and vicious, so they're almost out of regens.

Tom 13

Here, here!

From another American fan who would prefer the show remains British.

As for the 3-4 minute overlaps on the DVDs, that's just more bad editing/production work from the Beeb. If they took the minimal amount of time it would require to remaster them properly, it wouldn't be a problem.

Tom 13

The first doctor clearly and repeatedly

called her his granddaughter throughout the series and vice versa, and there is no evidence whatsoever to indicate it was just a pet name.

It is plainly obvious that they hadn't thought of regenerations until the need arose, and I'll cut them the same slack I cut Star Trek II.

As for the DNA clone, she clearly is his daughter - the cloned cells are daughter cells, so it just happens to be a different literal.

Tom 13

Hey! It's not our fault the touchie-feelie weenies

on YOUR side of the pond like the even more touchie-feelie-where's-my-mommie weenies on OUR side of the pond that they've permanently fracked over the show. I always LIKED the fact that Dr. Who was different and that he was working with the Brigadier instead of a US general and had a somewhat different outlook on life in general. It made it, well real, even with the extra-cheesy special effects.

Britain's Harrier jump-jets reprieved to fly and fight again

Tom 13

The marines would never sit smugly.

They will of course give you a very loud Hooo-yaaaah! as they thank their lucky stars that for a change their second hand equipment is first rate quality.

Tom 13

Sure, but only a handful for testing purposes

instead of a heftier order for actual use.

Now if we can just get you guys to buy the initial run of F35s.....

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