* Posts by Tom 13

7611 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

MINING in SPAAAACE! Asteroid-scoopers? Nah - consumers will be the real winners

Tom 13

Re: private property doesn't exist up there in space.

That most governments infringe on that natural right does not make it any less a natural right. It only indicates the extent of corruption within the government.

If the people likewise do not recognize it as a natural right, that only indicates the extent of their corruption. Time to start some self-assessment and work to correct your mistakes before you tread further down the path of darkness.

Tom 13

Re: private property doesn't exist up there in space.

You need to re-read Burke.

Private property is a natural right. Governments might protect or infringe on it, but they don't get to change that basic fact.

Brits won't have to pay for thieves' enormous mobe bills any more

Tom 13

Re: They plan to jack up the price

Maybe, maybe not.

Maybe they calculated their margins thin on the basis that they can raise the prices to match actual cost increases thereby minimizing what customers are charged over the life of the contract. This new agreement undermines that legitimate business model.

The earlier poster was correct: the headline may feel good, but it is wrong. All this does is spread the cost of stolen phones over the entire customer base. Yes, retail establishments do something similar. But in the case of a retail establishment, they have a fair amount of control over the security of goods in their stores. That's not true of cell phones where the physical security is all up to the phone owner.

PC market staging a RECOVERY. (Only joking, it's through the floor)

Tom 13

@ Charles 9

You've got a decent synopsis except like everybody else you've danced neatly around the heart of the problem:

Vista was the upgrade out of XP. And just like they are doing with Windows 8, they weren't willing to admit they screwed the pooch and provide a usable path out.

Yes, XP doesn't migrate to Win7 because the code base is different. But the same was true with the XP-Vista path. What they needed to do was rework the XP-Vista tool to allow XP-Win7. What's really ironic is they are repeating the mistake with Win8 to Win8.1, which should NOT have been an issue.

Even at that, MS have a serious issue they've been unwilling to confront. Businesses and consumers want a stable platform that just works. They don't want to redo their entire software inventory every 3 years. Their cars last 5 to 10+ years, they expect their software to as well. They want incremental updates, and they expect their data to move seamlessly from one system to the next. They'd like it if their programs moved seamlessly as well, but they are more willing to tolerate issues there.

Tom 13

Re: modern PCs are used for more than those from 1981.

Except that's not the right comparison. The correct comparison is the one between the PC at the time the tablet came out an now. On that scale, there's not much difference.

The reason tablets are popular in the consumer market is they are light, portable, and really, really cheap. We've seen repeatedly that cheap beats better so long as it is good enough.

The PC won't die. For what it does it beats a tablet hands down. But as earlier posters noted, the market is now mature. We (mostly) aren't seeing the need for increased horsepower like we did in the breakout phase. We've reached the IBM plateau for computational power, just a couple decades later than they expected.* So we are now in the replacement market. You will see the rate of purchase trailing off until equilibrium is reached.

*I'll note that in many ways the "Y2K bug" delayed recognition of this in the market. Instead of *fixing* the issues properly, companies simply bought new hardware. I thought we were starting to see this trend right before the panic started. And in the rush, MS and others baked new bugs into the system that took a few years to work out.

Saturn's moon Titan had swamps, say astroboffins

Tom 13

Re: Polypropylene?

It's a typo. It was supposed to read "Polly found Propylene."

US Supreme Court says 'no sale' to Amazon's New York sales tax appeal

Tom 13

Re: Funny thing...

Clueless people should not speculate on things.

1. Yes, each taxing jurisdiction sets up its own categories. Let's assume 5 taxing categories which is probably on the low side. Now let's assume a mean of 15 counties per state. And a mean of 10 cities per county. We're already up to 37,500 districts. Those are all conservative numbers. Particularly the county count is probably much higher.

2. Each of those taxing jurisdictions can change the rates at any time. Recently some have taken to enacting "sales tax holidays" to spur shopping at certain times of the year. One is right around the start of school in the name of saving parents money. Tax during that time and you are breaking the law.

It's not the size of the database that is the problem although that is huge. The problem is keeping up with the constantly changing tax laws and the movements of items from one category to another. When I go to the grocery store I think there are at least three categories of tax that apply: free because its a necessity (raw foods), beverage, and straight sales tax. I expect I might even have to pay the restaurant tax rate if I buy fully prepared food.

Tom 13

Re: So will Amazon have to pay back taxes ?

Amazon doesn't owe the taxes. States in which they don't have representatives are dragooning them into acting as tax collectors on their customers.

I realize this isn't much of a distinction to you beaten down Europhiles, but it is an important distinction to some of us 'Merkins.

Tom 13


All the big firms you named are brick and mortar stores. They've always had to pay sales tax.

I've generally found that when I buy over the internet the shipping costs equal the price differential for brick and mortar stores. So I don't see it as a competitive advantage. The competitive advantage is the ease of locating and purchasing something I already know I want. This is specific to Amazon. For other operations like large screen tvs there is an advantage to the online vendor.

Also it is a SALES tax. There is no way to NOT pass it to the consumer.

Fun-killing fireshow-flunking ZOMBIE COMET ISON only LOOKED alive

Tom 13


That's not an escape pod. It's yet another clever battle tactic by the Silurians to hide their invasion fleet. I just hope The Doctor is ready for his holiday special appearance this year.

Or maybe a small dog will swallow it just before they launch their attack.

Either works for me.

Think unpatched Win XP hole's not a big deal? Hope you trust your local users

Tom 13

Re: And I could go on forever, frankly.

Look on the bright side: even though the av definitions were outdated, at least they hadn't turned OFF the av software and released all the malware that had been stored in quarantine.

Yes, this actually happened at a client site circa the release of the "I Love You" virus. Yes, it was also on their Exchange server.

'Schrödinger's Comet' ISON LIVES (or DOESN'T) after Thanksgiving solar roast

Tom 13

I think it's probably still best to keep Bruce on stand by,

and have a plentiful supply of wooden stakes in case we've got the wrong comet movie.

'This BLACK HOLE just isn't BLACK AT ALL' snarl boffins

Tom 13

Re: IF a black hole is a true singularity,

It's not the size of the singularity, it's the size of the bubble it makes in space-time. The more massive the singularity, the bigger the bubble.

If you want your brain to really hurt, start thinking about the physics of the black hole at the event horizon. Material is always spiraling in but can never get there. Except that eventually one of those regions will achieve the same sort of super-density that causes the black hole in the first place. Now what?

Beastie Boys parody sueball tennis ends after toy firm yanks Girls

Tom 13

Re: I suspect they could be formally sued ... and lose the case.

You suspect wrongly. If it went to court it would be expensive for both parties to file briefs but the result would be The Beastie Boys losing because it was parody. The only way for them to win was for the company to agree to drop the ad. What would have cost the company the most would have been the loss of goodwill from consumers. Sometimes (certainly not most times) that is the most important calculation companies do.

Tom 13

Re: THEN seek whatever permissions are needed

Sounded like this was done in the US. so long as it is since they did it as parody there is a BLANKET exception to the copyright law. You only legally need permission if you use the actual song and lyrics. It might be that most ad agencies would seek permission anyway just to avoid the potential of burning bridges for future ad campaigns, but that is a purely voluntary action for parody.

And yes, I've been advised by actual US IP lawyers on this point who were being paid to render their opinion on whether something we were doing was legal.

Tom 13

Re: we can all write the complete works of Shakespeare

While I generally support reasonable copyright law, Shakespeare is the last person to use as an example in arguing about copyright. His works are quite an outlier.

1. He didn't have the advantage of copyright, so we don't really know what would have happened if he and his family had protected his works the was a certain corporation protects a well known rodent. Since everyone could freely copy his stuff, it may have become more well known and more respected because of the copying.

2. While some of us are more than 90% sure we know who he is, academic debate continues on that point.

Ultimate Doctor Tom Baker REGENERATES, RETURNS to WHO

Tom 13

While I will claim Tom Baker is my favorite Doctor

I'm not sure I'd say he is the "ultimate" Doctor. The Brigadier put best in the show itself:

"Fine chap. All of them."

Each interpretation of him adds something to the character with no one incarnation fully being The Doctor. We only get that with episodes like this one where several incarnations of himself meet for an extraordinary purpose.

XBOX ONE owners rage as HDMI SNAFU 'judders' Brit and Euro tellies

Tom 13

Re: Tellies can handle 60Hz input

I recall in the early days of ethernet auto-negotiation you'd sometimes get bad handshaking that resulted in mismatched connections. If you manually set one end of the connection things worked great. Want to bet it is something along those lines?

And while I'm on a rant, WTF can't the HDMI video signal encode to tell the display device what the proper aspect ratio ought to be? I hate flipping through 4 modes trying to figure out which one is the right one on something I've never seen before.

Tom 13

re: You're assuming the TV has enough HDMI ports

My gawd can't you people do anything right?

The K-Mart special I got on sale at Worst Buy four years ago has 3 HDMI ports, VGA, DVI, and whatever that really old 5-RGA cable standard (2 actually I think) was. And I'm probably forgetting something. Oh yes, S-Video should I ever have need of it.

'MacGyver' geezer makes 'SHOTGUN, GRENADE' from airport shop tat

Tom 13

Re: why do "we" hate "you"? perhaps you should consider fixing that too.

1. Nobody can fix stupid.

2. I don't have enough bullets. Yet.

Tom 13

Re: what changed?

A fair amount actually.

1. Stepped up intelligence actions. For all its invasiveness the NSA wiretaps. I may hate them and call them unconstitutional, but they certainly have been used to disrupt some plots.

2. They killed 3,000. Then like the wrath of God we came after them and killed even more. You hate us for it and criticize it, but it works.

3. The 9/11 attacks themselves changed the existing paradigm. Before it was: surrender to the hostages and most of you will get out alive. Now it is: kill the hijackers by any means necessary before they kill any of your fellow citizens; you might die doing so, but you will die if you don't.

4. This is the US. You hate us and criticize us for our gun love. But outside of gun-free government zones (like schools, airports, and airplanes) you don't know who might be packing heat. One well placed and moderately well trained cowboy could ruin your whole plan. You might not even get your 72 virgins. Because he just might be the sort of mean, racist f*ck who'd maim and disable you before shoving a pork sausage down your throat to choke you to death.

I'm sure there are more things, but that should get you started.

Tom 13

Re: why this obsession with aeroplanes?

That's easy.

This is the US.

1. We are always fighting the last war. For us, the last war is 9/11.

2. We don't travel by railway, ferry, or even much by bus. We do it in airplanes and cars.

3. Despite our religiosity, we don't actually put lots of people in cathedrals. If you want that, you're talking about a major sporting event or a rock concert. Major sporting events now work pretty much like airports. I don't know about rock concerts. Been to two in my life, maybe. Does 3,000 people count as a concert? If not, then I haven't been to any. And in fact the other one wouldn't have filled a medium film theater so I don't think it counts at all.

Scores of profs give hated US patent law an F minus, demand massive rewrite

Tom 13

Re: the numbers game

The most important number you need to know: $400/hr

That's the lower limit on an attorney's fee for IP related cases. A case will invariably involve at least 3 of them on your side, and that's before you actually go before a judge. It is unlikely more than one of them (assuming you are lucky enough to have any of them) will be at that rate.

Tom 13

Re: It's time to see some real data.

I don't need to see real data. As stated above I've known people at small companies who've been trampled by patent law. I see stories about its abuse on a daily basis. And I know someone who will probably benefit from it mostly because he is a lawyer and not so much because of his inventiveness.

Ages ago I was tested and determined to be of above average intelligence. But I know I'm not the smartest person in the world. In a room full of lawyers I'd probably even fall in the lower third.

What I want to see is a proposal that withstands more than 20 minutes of my scrutiny before I find a way that the big companies (whether trolls or not) won't benefit more than the small companies the politicians claim they will be protecting.

Tom 13

PAE is just another fancy name for a law firm

As such, they have never been at real risk of litigation and even if outlawed in their current incarnation will simply sprout in another one.

Tom 13

Re: USPTO was to be held accountable for the quality of their patents

Ok, I'll bite: by what legal mechanism do you propose to test for the quality of a patent?

While I generally concur with the sentiment, the problem is that the sentiment usually rests on unfounded assumptions.

I know someone who submitted a patent that was turned down. He never questioned it. Years later he looked at it again and realized he should have. His method eliminated a machining operation which would have dramatically reduced costs. Same guy with a different patent got run over again. The patent was for a device that depended on compressible capacity in a chamber to damp the pulse of a pumped fluid. Patent was granted. A foreign patent changed the shape of the patent from a cylinder to a V, then claimed better damping. There was no substantive difference, but the company didn't have the money to fight in court. When the company he worked for started selling in the foreign country, they were held to be infringing and had to pay patent fees. And yes, my former boss is a Merkin and the foreign country is currently an EU member in good standing.

Four teachers indicted in Steubenville social media rape case

Tom 13

Re: conflating the maximum sentence for an offence with a sentence that has been given


I hate Anonymous with a passion because I've seen the physical damages from the assholes behind the group. I hate hackers with an almost equal passion. And if I could sit on the jury hearing the case and the defense could present evidence that the guy was trying to get that specific crime prosecuted, I'd let the guy walk.

Tom 13

Re: Lets get this straight.

The "mitigating factor" on the 2 year sentence is that the perps were under age.

But typically if you're someone like me who thinks that's a load of crock and they should have been tried as an adult you get labeled a troglodyte and downvoted.

Your rules, suck it up and get over it.

Revealed: How Microsoft DNS went titsup globally on Xbox One launch day

Tom 13

@ rm -rf /

I beg to differ. They have learned, but not the lesson we techies would like. They've learned the same lesson the spammers have: there are enough foolish people out there that you can get away with it.

Angela Merkel's phone was being listened in on by FIVE foreign powers

Tom 13

The real question here is

how many of the buggers knew how many other buggers were on her phone? And did they know their IDs?

Presumably the US and Brits knew about each other, but after that it gets murky.

US govt cuts squeeze crucial computer science, shoot country in foot

Tom 13

Re: $42.1 billion is not that high?

When asked what percentage most Americans think should be spent on foreign aid, they answer in the 3-5% range. They don't realize that $42.1 billion doesn't work out to anywhere near that percentage.

The problem of course is that 60-70% of the US federal budget is now tied up in sacrosanct entitlements. It is simply unsustainable. Just like it is in China. Just like it was in the Soviet Union. And just like it was almost 400 years ago at the Massachusettes Bay Colony.

Tom 13

Re: As long as researchers don't get a sense of entitlement

But that's precisely the problem. It does read more like entitlement than thoughtful spending. And where it starts to read like entitlement, what you have are snouts at the trough instead of real, useful, theoretical research.

Tom 13

Re: >Foreign aid would be a great start

It not the foreign aid per se. It is the general stupidity that accompanies it.

I'm a good Yankee trader. When I spend foreign aid dollars to buy support from foreign governments, I expect them to be bought, and stay bought. The twits running most of the programs have no such aspirations. They just hand it out think they are Santa Clause and that doing so will make us popular. We throw good money at lost causes.

Frankly, the US spends a lot on foreign aid. A hell of a lot more than we get credit for. We just don't do it through government. We do it through private charities and church groups that help private citizens. This builds the small community on which the larger community can than be based.

Tom 13

Re: instead of electing politicians, select them at random?

If it were truly at random for a limited time I might be willing to risk it.

But if we look at your example of the mythical trial by jury of your peers and see how it is actually executed, I think not. In such real life instances the first people who are excluded are any people who might have read about the case. In other words, informed people who care about what is happening in the world and how it might impact them and/or their neighbors. To me, exactly the sort of people you would want on a jury. Next up anyone who knows lawyers on either side of the case. That one might be reasonable, but it definitely makes it non-random. Then they exclude anyone who might have specialized knowledge about anything relevant to the case. Then they take exceptions for hardships or too vital to the community like doctors. What you are left with is small set of clueless people. If we wind up with similar filters for politicians, difficult as it might be to believe, I think it would actually be worse than it is now.

Tom 13

@ Getriebe

You're going to need to work on that elevator speech.

I'm pretty sure I've spent more than 6 floors worth of time analyzing your text, and I still have no idea what your point was let alone whether or not I agree with it.

New NSA leak reveals invasion of the management consultants

Tom 13

Re: OK, the last one ...It's hardly out of place, is it?

Yes actually it is quite out of place. Unlike the others, it parses and flows in almost melodic fashion despite being clearly intended to mimic them. And not unlike postings from our very own manfrommars, there are moments that feel like you can almost grasp its inner meaning.

In contrast, the other ones have a soul draining deadness to them. Not unlike Tolkien's description of being caught in the barrow downs or perhaps even the grips of a Nazgûl.

Gold meddler: Doctor Who is 50 years old TODAY

Tom 13

Re: anyone else find it irritating at the lack of complete boxed sets?

Yes. Very. Especially the old episodes.

I can see excepting the incomplete seasons. There some other sort of box set ought to be released.

But for the span where they have all the episodes, they ought to at least put the whole season on DVD/Blue Ray and match the prices on current seasons. Not this 24.95 for one episode crap they've had going on since the invention of VHS.

Tom 13

Re: "where should I start?"

Wherever is quite probably the best answer. Mine was Tom Baker. But I could have started with just about anybody from the episodic stuff. McGann is sort of an outlier. Might have been good if given the chance, but the show was too Americanized to work right, even if it was the Beeb that did it. And I say that as a red-blooded 'Merkin.

Tom 13

Re: johnathan Nathan turner has to take a lot of the blame.

If you've got a good show and a bad writer or producer you whack the bad guy. If the bad guy stays in place, it's because whoever hired him wants him there. Which means the blame goes higher up than the visible bad guy.

Of course that might be a way for Moffatt to fix The Valeyard problem. Maybe the Valeyard wasn't the 13th Doctor, he was just someone working at the Beeb who managed to infiltrate Galifrey.

Tom 13

Re: But, but...

The 50 years bit yes. The crap bit not so much.

Anything turns to crap when someone in the top 2 tiers of management hates the concept so much they'd off themselves if it would get the show canceled. I've never figured out why they hated it so, but they did. And I feel about that person(s) pretty much like I expect Rose felt about the Daleks after joining the Eye or Harmony.

Tom 13

Re: John Hurt would have made for a really interesting Doctor.


Maybe the Beeb could get some writers to do one-off episodes to show as irregular specials. I'd really like to see more of his version of The Doctor. Aim it at adults instead of teens but not use that as an excuse for gratuitous violence and sex.

Tom 13

Re: Finally, Moffat comes up with a cracker

Mostly agree with the exception of resetting the whoniverse.

But I suppose I'll just have to get use to it just like the Star Trek reboot.

Tom 13

Re: Tonights Episode...

Anybody who makes the 13th Doctor be someone other than The Valeyard doesn't get to call shenanigans. That includes Moffatt even with all the good he's done for the show.

US Judge strikes out COMPUTER/HUMAN LOVE patent

Tom 13

Re: It's not often that common sense prevails in such cases.

Too true, and the real danger in this case.

I can all too easily see the patent troll appealing it and being the good judge being overruled by a nitwit above her.

'High impact' Gmail password security hole blew accounts wide open

Tom 13

Re: 2-step verification is too much trouble on their banking website.

Well, in the US it is pointless. Maybe you Brits have real 2 step verification, but at least as implemented in the US, a man-in-the-middle attack subverts it. First I login with my 4 digit PIN, then it put up a screen and asks for my password. Which as far as I'm concerned is just a disjointed long password. If you've clicked on the phishing link and I've popped up the fake screen, I just run a separate session to send the info to the bank. When the bank show your private picture and word phrase, I pass them to you. I can see where I login and it sends a code to my phone or email account that I then have to type in to complete the transaction would work, but not the crap they call 2 factor over here.

Hello Warsaw: Greenland ice loss will be OK 'even under extreme scenarios'

Tom 13

Re: there is nothing to fear except wilful ignorance

Au contraire!

There's plenty out there to fear. The most fearsome of them all is a money grubbing politician wielding a Bill Murray screaming "Back off man, I'm a scientist!"

Which is the cleanest summation I can make of the UN and the IPCC.

Tom 13

Re: I have said it before i will say it again

Great idea. Lets eliminate the environmentalists first.

/end sarc

Meet Stuxnet's stealthier older sister: Super-bug turned Iran's nuke plants into pressure cookers

Tom 13

Re: until they decide to normalize relations with the US.

That's a really key phrase. And most people forget what it means.

Part of what it means, is that technically the US and Iran have been in a state of War since the Iranian revolution. In particular the seizure of the American Embassy during the revolution was the unprovoked Act of War against the US. These acts have never been remedied by formal cease fire or peace treaty. That further means that under international law, the US is well within allowed parameters to engage in whatever military actions it deems necessary to prevent further aggression.

Given that context, Stuxnet and its antecedent are quite mild responses.

SCADA flaws put world leaders at risk of TERRIBLE TRAFFIC JAM

Tom 13

Re: Security issues

Silly rabbit! Those laws are for the little people, not the world leaders.

Google's Schmidt predicts end to global censorship in a DECADE

Tom 13

Re: A StreetView Car Named "Tyranny"?

I've read about a fair number of revolutions. Most of them end badly.

Ironically, the largest cluster of revolutions that didn't end badly occur in British Aisles. I can't call our single fight on the side of the pond a cluster, although I'm willing to group it with the British Aisles cluster if you Brits don't object.

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