* Posts by Tom 13

7611 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

Star Wars movie to start shooting in UK this summer

Tom 13

@Suricou Raven

That would be immediately after the fall of the Emperor, not 30 years later.

Of course, given what he did with Star Trek, maybe JJ is just rebooting inside the series.

Tom 13

Re: As much as I loved Star wars

> Thank goodness Maria von Trapp just died, we'll be spared the Sound of The Jedi...

The Force is ALIVE with the sound of MYOOOOZIK!!!

With music from Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem band.

Tom 13

Re: VII - IX were written as part of that story way back when?

That's always been Lucas's claim, but after I, II, and III...

I think he may have sketched a few ideas, but whether or not he wrote them is another story. And what has happened to them since he wrote them the first time is a whole other story. I don't think he even had the first trilogy firmly in hand before releasing the first movie. I think he was planning to play the two suitors angle with Leia when he filmed the first and only added the "I am your father" twist late in the second movie. Granted it worked well, but I think if you had that in mind from the start episode IV would have been written differently.

And having seen episodes I, II and II, I have much the same opinion of them as I have of Highlander: there was only one trilogy. Not sure I'm even going to take a chance on this next one.

They might have worked if someone else had written them. The arc should have been a damned fine tragedy, depressing as all hell to watch but setting the stage for IV, V, and VI. But Lucas can't write tragedy, which most of the time I consider a good thing.

Gmail data-mining lawsuits fail to get class action status

Tom 13

Re: I can say anything I want and write the way I please.

And so does everyone else.

You have one valid point hidden (onerous T&Cs) in a dross of venom and confusion (email is not mail and recognizing that is the first step to sanity). I actually agree with you on that one valid point, but you will never be heard because the rest of your screed obscures it.

Tom 13

Re: the Ts & Cs that you click ... ARE a valid contract/agreement

Therein is the nub of the problem and an arguable issue which Judge Koh should have recognized as something that could be questioned in court.

Valid contracts, particularly in the US, are based on the idea that both parties can negotiate the contract. In other contexts the inability to negotiate the contract has been held to invalidate them as contracts. Most of the relevant law here relates to service warranties on equipment. Given that the typical user has no power to negotiate a different contract with Google (in my post above you'll note I have some issues on whether or not a "user" who has gone through the motions of negotiating a contract with Google has the power to negotiate a contract with Google), that should be an arguable point in court.

Frankly I'm tired of this canard. If what you sell on the internet or in a shrinkwrap package has no option for modifying the contract terms, it should not be recognized in court as a contract. Yes, it might upset the whole world of computing. But continuing to perpetuate an untruth as the basis of a legal system is dangerous to all of us.

Tom 13

Re: What the AC is saying, phrased slightly differently, is...

What 2+2=5 posted is essentially correct about the Google terms of service.

I work in a support environment where Google has been contracted to supply mail service which is paid for and ought to be confidential. Some services are or should be restricted by the contract. These contracts have been reviewed by lawyers on both sides for fitness of purpose to the stated business objective/mission. Furthermore, only some people whom the lawyers are advising are authorized to sign the agreements. Yet Google without fail send the same mass announcements about new services and same click through agreement forms to all our users. In fact, when we create a new account for a user, the very first thing they have to do is click Agree on the standard Google Agreement. If I could I would drop a frack ton of lawyers on Google just for us.

Proper boffins make your company succeed, even if you're not very technical

Tom 13

Re: Why should company A employ a BEng to manage their company car fleet

It's a good place for them to get their feet wet with your company while they learn what you do.

Engineering isn't just the facts and tables. It's a mind set. Engineers see problems differently than other people do. As a result they come up with solutions other people can't. My answer above was a bit whimsical, but depending on what the company car fleet is, an engineer might be one of the best people to put in the position. It might not matter so much when the company fleet is half a dozen vehicles, but get it up around 300 and an engineer might be a good hire. Especially an industrial engineer.

For example, I once asked a mechanical engineering friend to run a registration event for a convention. We had a process, and it worked. I thought it was would be a relatively easy task because the process was well established. I neglected the fact that we had grown quite a bit since the process was initiated. She looked at the whole thing from start to finish and came to me to say it wasn't possible to do the job the way it was currently structured. In order to clear our line she was going to need to process one membership every 47.2 seconds in our target time. And given the budget hours from our volunteer wranglers, she was going to use up 85% of the available time just for one step in badge processing. As a result we re-engineered the process. We spent money on a DOS-like key drive interface for the registration process, did away with the lamination process, and hit all of our targets. First year we had some back end glitches on things we thought we understood but didn't. So while credit card processing wasn't a complete success, they hit our really important target which was clearing the registration line before lunch time. That wouldn't have happened with a lesser caliber person taking that job. The following year was a complete success. We've both moved on since then, and it seems that even though we handed them a solid process, they've forgotten some of the things we taught them. Line handling is slipping and I've driven by late in the afternoon only to see a registration line still wrapped half way around the building -- on Saturday not Friday.

Win XP holdouts storm eBay and licence brokers, hiss: Give us all your Windows 7

Tom 13

Re: days of Windows 3.1

No, not Windows 3.1 which for the time had relatively clean lines, but AOL 3.0. Remember that thing that looked like a badly made WB cartoon? Yeah, that one. And every bit as out of place as a silent film in a full IMAX theater.

Tom 13

Re: so when

The car analogy is long known to be badly broken, but your example, it's even worse. This isn't "I can't find the part," this is "I found the part, fixed the car, but the petrol pump won't let me add any fuel."

And no, it can't be compared to RHEL deprecating their code. If you've got a copy of the deprecated code you can still LOAD it. If you have the money and/or talent you can even theoretically support it. Most of us would probably think you were bonkers for doing it, but you COULD. MS aren't giving you that option with XP.

Tom 13

Re:So basically, it's mostly down to the UI

No, its not. It's much deeper than that but it's easy to get fixated on the UI.

Windows 8 is a hash from every perspective. First off you have RT and desktop. That's a mix that should never fall under the same name. Next up you've got the half-hearted attempt at the walled garden. It might work for Apple, but at MS it's a no-go. Then you have them repeatedly sticking their fingers in their ears on customer feedback. Tablets might be close enough to phones to mimic them, desktops are a whole other story. Two different pieces of equipment for which users have completely different expectations. Balmer out bastarding Jobs on insisting it was better for everybody didn't help matters any. And effectively killing 7 with 8.1 was beyond stupid.

Tom 13

Re: somewhat correctable with better Hardware.

No they weren't. It took a service pack before it became manageable and even then it continued to be a pain. I had more than enough hardware for the OS when I built it. Instead I regularly used the XP partition I'd installed planning to use it only for gaming. The XP partition couldn't maximize the resources on the PC. When the Vista drive failed I replaced it with Windows 7 without batting an eyelash.

Shuttleworth: Firmware is the universal Trojan

Tom 13

Re: What is he thinking?!?

What he's thinking is that there's only one part of the stack that gets reliably* updated: the OS. We all patch it on a monthly basis. If security of your system is only as good as your last path (which all too frequently it is), the logical solution is to make the attached devices read only and have the bits that get patched do all the work.

It's a nice neat theoretical solution. It's practicality may be doubtful, but there don't seem to be a lot of practical solutions being kicked around at the moment either.

* if you don't like "reliably" per se, substitute "on average (mean and mode) gets patched the most often," but that wasn't going to be a very readable sentence.

'Amazon has destroyed the unicorn factory' ... How clouds are making sysadmins extinct

Tom 13

Re: Every time I hear employers whining that they can't find people with the skillz...

I was thinking "the pay for it you cheap bastage" actually. But your point has validity too. Because after you've paid to train them, you will have to pay them or they will leave.

Tom 13

Re: As I like to point out to people...

The only thing I ever used AOL disks for was drink coasters.

Tom 13

Re: Most management fads blow over

Yes, but there also seems to be a never ending stream of new ones, and they seem to follow Sturgeon's law religiously.

Tom 13

@ Ledswinger

I think the problem is that many of us have come to believe in all or nothing solutions. It's either all insourced or all outsourced and there's never any balance.

On one level I get managers wanting to outsource the risk of data loss to someone else and blaming them when something goes wrong. For me I'd always want to be able to put my hands on the server, the disk drive, and the tape backups.

Target ignored hacker alarms as crooks took 40m credit cards – claim

Tom 13

Re: Perhaps this was a head in the sand moment

Given FireEye is reported to have a graded alert system, I expect there is built-in triage to filter out noise.

I won't rule out a Too Much Information problem, but to the extent it exists, it was likely a management failure on the Target side. Yeah, I've worked in such environments.

Tom 13

Re: someone (or several someones) at Target's HQ should be fired

And if IIRC, the top security post had been vacant at the time of the incident while they conducted the usual corporate search for a new one.

Tom 13

Re: Offshoring...Oh Joy...

The reports were sent by email. Not sure if phone calls were made, I assume that happened as well. And there was at least a couple day lag between the first event and the second event. Reports are even if they had acted after the second event they would have stopped the exfiltration of the captured data.

I'd prefer insourced teams myself. But the kind of crap that happened at Target is one of the bullet points the outsourcers use against us.

Tom 13

Re: what you get for "outsourcing" something as critical as IT Security.

Except that if you read the linked article you'll find that it was the Target directly employed security team that dropped the ball. The outsourced service was on the ball and sent the alerts to the Target Team who promptly ignored them.

Given that the malicious payload is alleged to have had a filename similar to a Dell management component, it's entirely possible the directly employed Target Team, overflowing with your attitude, went, "Idiots have no idea what they're monitoring. That's one of our management components, whitelist it."

Given my time in the trenches, I'm not sure an insourced monitoring team would have gotten through any better than the outsourced team.

SATANIC 'HELL DIAMOND' tells of sunless subterranean sea

Tom 13

Re: @ Chris Landau (geologist)

Have you heard of this new fangled website: Google? Or perhaps DuckDuckGo.com?

A quick search on the first yields links to this page:


You'll find a variety of types and prices, some are mere pennies per carat.

Tom 13

Re: That's Amazing

First up, IIRC my old earth evolutionary geology and biology, the oceans are NOT maintaining their salinity level and it is in fact increasing. Something about out blood pH matching a prehistoric sea pH comes to mind.

On point 1, see the link I posted above. The authors examine a possible cause and examine in some detail aspects of what it means.

On points 2 and 3 the answer is the mechanism is unknown. That something is unknown does not imply it does not exist. At present we don't know what holds galaxies together but we do not doubt that they are held together by something.

Tom 13

Re: "This new mineral cockrinite can withstand high pressure..."

"And Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of waters was upon the earth. And Noah went in, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons' wives with him, into the ark, because of the waters of the flood. Of clean beasts, and of beasts that are not clean, and of fowls, and of every thing that creepeth upon the earth, There went in two and two unto Noah into the ark, the male and the female, as God had commanded Noah. And it came to pass after seven days, that the waters of the flood were upon the earth. In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights."


No, it wasn't some guy digging a well in the desert. Deserts have never been referred to as "the deep."

It's at least an interesting read and suggests a mechanism we have not to my knowledge observed for generating rain in massive quantities. Which would actually meet the test of the scientific method in that it predicts something by which we can test it. Oddly enough, if correct it becomes an insurmountable obstacle to runaway AWG.

Five unbelievable headlines that claim Tim Berners-Lee 'INVENTED the INTERNET'

Tom 13

Re: www = internet

We can make of fun of people who act this way and bemoan their ignorance, but there is a sense in which they have a valid point. Without the www the internet wouldn't be what it is today. It might be better, it might be worse, but it wouldn't be what it is.

That's not to belittle all the work done by all of the folks who transformed ARPA into the internet, just to recognize that without the www, most people would care even less about them.

What did you see, Elder Galaxies? What made you age so quickly?

Tom 13

Re: It's Reapers.

Nah, it's just a bug in the floating point portion of the Tolwan chip running our instance of the universe simulation RPG.

Tom 13

Re: Occam's razor

Even that seemingly simpler explanation opens up a host of uncomfortable questions.

If they started earlier, why don't we see more galaxies like that?

And what are the implications for our theories about the life cycles of Type I and II stars? Certainly if this galaxy is that much more mature because it started earlier, that means type II stars made available higher atomic weight elements for type I stars earlier than we assumed.

Or perhaps the most disturbing question of all: what if this means the red shift, the expansion or both aren't homogenous?

Tom 13

Re: @ Aquatyger

Technically, the Schwarzschild radius is where you are dividing by 0. Inside of that you are probably dividing by an imaginary number. And that's when you get to find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes!

Tom 13

Re: None of these is really measured

Despite the down votes, your original post was spot on. Astronomers frequently assert a good bit more certainty about their facts than would a nuclear physics guy. In the case of red shifts Astronomers are in AWG territory. We can measure certain things by parallax, and we've found ways to extend the baseline for that parallax by what seem to be a great amount, but which still only give us what you might call real measurements for a small percentage of our galaxy, in the range of 1-3%. When red shifts were studied more after Einstein's papers we realized that spectra were being red shifted. That allowed us to work out chemical compositions of stars. That in turn helped us establish probable ages and probable masses for stars. With probable masses we were able to deduce estimated distance to the stars. This gets you up around 10%. Within this 10% range the amount of the red shift agrees well with all of the estimated distances. From there it is assumed the distances necessarily correlate with the red shift.

I can work with those assumptions and they are the best data we have, but the reality is that with all the hand offs from one estimation to the next assumption, a small change in one of the initial assumptions that isn't easily verified by independent methods can make large changes in later assumptions. It's why you shouldn't be married to red shift will give you the distance away. You always need to be able to drop that theory like you might a blind date.

MtGox gets its sorry assets frozen amid US class-action lawsuit

Tom 13

Re: Gox is legally liable for not much

If Gox were a retail store that would be true. But if I understand correctly they were licensed as an exchange and therefore have more legal obligations than a retail outfit would. Not quite to the level of a bank, but still high enough. The trick is going to be the morass that their records most likely are.

Tom 13

Re: They didn't

Yes they did. Since the relevant coins are in the "Mt Gox" Bitcoin wallet, and Mt Gox is enjoined from transferring them they are effectively frozen.

It might piss people off, but this really is the best route out. Mt Gox were acting quite a bit more like a bank than a retail business, and when a bank goes belly up the first people who need to be protected are the depositors. The only way to protect the depositors is to freeze the assets, do a thorough forensic analysis of the accounts, and then proceed with the bankruptcy.

Frankly, if they find practices as shoddy as I expect they are going to find, Mt Gox should not be permitted to reopen and none of its Cxxs should ever be allowed to sit as corporate executives again.

Softbank boss promises 'massive price war' if he can buy T-Mobile US

Tom 13

How do you know when a CEO is lying?

His lips move.

It may be old, but it is sadly also too frequently true.

It's 2014 and Microsoft Windows PCs can still be owned by a JPEG

Tom 13

Re: Microsoft making good choices?

Oh I'm pretty sure they know it is unwise. Problem is they don't have a lot of choice.

Having finally eliminate Netscape as a competitor, they assume IE6 would be the forever IE. Then they linked in Activex etc and told business execs they could code their intranet pages to execute OS code for company-only apps. And the business execs did generating the lock-in MS desired. And then the business execs explained that because of the vast amounts of money invested in those apps, the lock-in was now a two-way street. Which is where we are to this day.

Tom 13

Re: rollocks

If Vista had been based on the XP code base it would not have failed as miserably as it did.

Or perhaps you haven't noticed all the recent articles bemoaning the fact that even with XP being EOL next month it still runs neck and neck with Windows 7 for installed user base with Vista and Win 8 falling far, far behind.

Academic blames US for tech titans' tax dodge

Tom 13

Re: Want to pay more for your stuff

Minor nit:

It's not just a flow through. The company has to make money for acting as the governments tax collection agent. So it is actually the tax + normal profit (expenses for acting as the government tax collector and a profit for the shareholders).

Which makes it a really inefficient system for collecting taxes. But hey, it makes the Occupiers feel better about tolerating all those Evil corporations.

Otherwise, spot on.

Tom 13

Re: That's capitalism

the Great Depression had nothing to do with the excesses of capitalism and everything to do with the excesses of Congress. Just like now.

Tom 13

Re: That's capitalism

Leave the corporations out of the tax equation entirely and the mess will sort itself out. With corporations paying no tax on income there's no need for tax deductions for the corporations. That means you can treat all benefits paid to employees as income, which closes the tax loophole of the CEO who collects no salary while all his living expenses are paid by the corporation.

Tom 13

Re: Indeed

And after the corporation pays taxes on it, the shareholder has to AGAIN pay taxes when he gets the money. If he gets it as a dividend it is treated as ordinary income. If the value goes up and he decides to cash out share to take profit, depending on how long he has held the stock it either gets treated as ordinary income or capital gains (with no indexing for inflation).

Tom 13

@Persona non grata

Perhaps as an allegedly native speaker of English, you should learn to read it and not substitute your own words for what the poster said.

What he said very clearly is that at this time tax rates on corporations in the US are at their highest ever, particularly given our double taxation in that first the corporation pays an income tax and then when they disburse it as dividends it gets taxed again. This results in the entire predictable behavior of offshoring the money so it isn't taxed at those confiscatory rates and the revenue collected collapses. Which is exactly what supply side economics predicts. And exactly why the luxury yatch business in the US collapsed when they added the special tax on it. Lower the taxes and eliminate the double taxation and the revenue numbers will go up.

Merger with Sprint is INEVITABLE, suggests T-Mobile chief bean counter

Tom 13

The biggest regulatory obstacle to this merger

is that 3 years ago it was Sprint arguing AT&T shouldn't be able to buy T-Mobile because that would reduce competition in the market place. Hard to seem them reversing that decision and not be run out of town on a rail for payola.

Indestructible Death Stars blow up planets with glowing KILL RAY

Tom 13

Re: Or "a couple of milli-Kessels"?

I like Star Wars, but Lucas really should have had someone who passed Astro 1 to explain to him how stupid that line was. No amount of re-interpreting or treknology-ing or it will fix it.

MtGox, that bastion of unregulated e-currency Bitcoin, turns to Texas judge for protection

Tom 13

Re: Ahhh Libertarians.

Hey, at least Bitcoin logic is a lot less fuzzy headed than their plans to fund the government by selling litigation insurance or whatever they call it these days.

Tom 13

Re: the local three letter agency will have access your credentials.

You still haven't quite grasp one of the essentials of spying yet have you?

For all they abuse their own citizens, three letter agencies must at least genuflect to the laws of their country. It's the citizens of other countries where they don't give a rip snort about local laws. So the local three letter agency is more likely getting their data about its citizens from a foreign three letter agency. With a spot of cross verify from a sample collected about their own citizens.

Tom 13

Re: Perhaps someone can explain to me...

In addition, I expect there's a bit of "I don't Pherd van Tomskrat, so I don't know if I really trust to transfer direct to him, but I know Mt Gox. All my friends are using Mt Gox so I do trust them."

Granted you probably would have been better off trusting Pherd, but that's not the way herds tend to think.

eBay rejects Carl Icahn's board nominees as 'inexperienced'

Tom 13

Re: He's forgetting about...

Actually I can see where PayPal might be more profitable on its own than tied to eBay. Being tied as it is to eBay you should expect certain built-in reticence from competitors who might otherwise use PayPal for payment processing. But at that point the question becomes a bit more delicate: Should eBay spin-off PayPal, or should PayPal spin-off eBay? And once you phrase it that way it is a whole different game of three card monte.

Bletchley Park board member quits amid TNMOC split-off spat

Tom 13

Re: In short, trustees, you should be ashamed of yourselves.

Quite like politicians, I rather suspect if any significant number of them were capable of being ashamed of themselves the current mess wouldn't have happened.

On the topic of the vindictiveness of people people in positions where they don't yield a great deal of actual power I will note the following observation about Senator Phil Graham. When he arrived from academia in DC people were amazed at his adroitness in playing the long-knife game. Then someone pointed out that because the stakes are so much lower in academia, the fights are even more competitive than they are in DC. I suspect much the same is happening here.

X marks the... They SAID there was a mystery planet there – NASA

Tom 13

Re: Where's your evidence?

This one doesn't require evidence in the scientific sense. It is defined by the principles established in the rigorously tested mathematics of statistical analysis. If the signal does not significantly exceed the noise you don't have a signal. The signal that would be required in this instance isn't more scans of the local neighborhood, it would be more extinction events in the geological record. That isn't going to happen.

Therefore the Nemesis hypothesis properly belongs on the crackpot theory pile. And every once in a while when you have a fancy new piece of equipment you'd like to run through its paces, you can pull the crackpot theory off the pile and use your equipment to test it. IF you find something to support it you move it to the science pile, otherwise you put it back where you found it.

what do you know that these peer-reviewed scientists don't? Well, for one I've met some of those peer reviewers. They aren't quite as sane as you'd like to think.

For another, I know one of the a number of the tenured professors at one of the mentioned authors alma maters having studied there myself. Most of them are top notch thinkers. But there was one loon on the staff who also didn't understand the importance of the signal to noise ratio issue. Every year he'd tell his liberal arts core requirements classes that all UFO sightings are the results of comets and uses the same flawed arguments you present here. Just checked the faculty listing and he seems to be gone.

Tom 13

Re: People see patterns everywhere.

One of the best examples of that is the canals of Mars. You could see them, and you could see them changing, so they had to be real. Except now that we've been there, we know they aren't.

Tom 13

Re: assuming it isn't currently at/near an extrema

Given they've got the orbit worked out they also know based on the extinction events where on the orbit the planet ought to be. So you don't have to do a whole sky survey. If those calculations show it outside the range of experimental observation, there would have been no point in conducting the exercise in the first place, at least vis-a-vie testing the Nemesis hypothesis.

'Hacked docs' prove MtGox has 1 MILLION Bitcoins, claim blog-snatchers

Tom 13

Re: "Satoshi Nakamoto" = "Free Lunch"?

Do not try to bend a free lunch. That's impossible. You can only realize the truth. There is no free lunch.

Or something.

Barclays warns freelance techies of DOUBLE DIGIT rate cut

Tom 13

Re: but they won't make that much of a dent.

I don't live in the UK so I don't know what the real tax rates are on contractors. The one thing of which I am sure is that you are even more clueless than I am about those rates.

A decent pension requires you salt away at least 10% of your salary each paycheck. In the US, employers typically match that 10% with another 5%, so as a contractor you need at least 15%, 20% if you want to give yourself a cushion for the lean times. On top of that you need to be salting away a similar amount of money for the times when you are between contracts. so that's 30-40% of your so-called sweet contract gone.

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