* Posts by Peter2

1542 posts • joined 12 Jun 2009

For fax sake: NHS to be banned from buying archaic copy-flingers

Peter2
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There was a time when fax was accepted and email not, but when I moved house last year, I signed a lease agreement electronically, no problems.

Yep. You signed the lease electronically. But what about the mortgage offer? They sent that to you in the post for a physical signature and refused digital copies, didn't they?

Mortgage companies still refuse scans, and require faxes to be used for certain things.

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Peter2
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Yes, that's the case in the UK. There is established case law to say that a faxed acceptance is binding from the moment it's sent and faxed copies of documents (as in facsimile copies) actually have specific legal status. email should be the same, but isn't unless accompanied with a digital signature that meets specific criteria, which can still then be challenged in court so companies still require physical signatures on documents which are then faxed. Don't ask me why scanning a copy and emailing it doesn't have the same status as a fax, blame the bloody politicians who are incapable of writing coherent laws, and the courts for literally interpreting the laws as written.

I have three bloody fax machines that I can't get shot of because other entities we communicate with still use them. IMO: attacking fax machines for having the temerity for existing is pointless. Attack the legal basis for them existing by writing a short law.

"documents scanned via a scanner and emailed as an attachment [in TIFF/JPG/PDF format] are recognized as being exact copies of the original, and are hereby considered as facsimile copies in addition to documents sent by a fax machine."

The fax machine would then be living on borrowed time until completely replaced in workflows.

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It's official. Microsoft pushes Google over the Edge, shifts browser to Chromium engine

Peter2
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Re: And who got fired for taking all the wrong decisions?

Pretty much. Though the real reason windows still runs the desktop is that the industry specific software is written for it, although that's less of an issue these days with web apps.

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Peter2
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Re: And who got fired for taking all the wrong decisions?

Systems admins will care as they will need to learn how to administer a registry-less system.

I'm a sysadmin.

I can't remember the last time I actually edited the registry on a machine. I think it was under server 2003, so probably not overly recently.

And I still don't care if I support windows or *nix boxes, as long as I get paid for doing it and the programs required actually run on that OS.

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UK spies: You know how we said bulk device hacking would be used sparingly? Well, things have 'evolved'...

Peter2
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You'd hope the Begium teclos have upped their game significantly already. The Belgium government might not be of any interest to anybody in the world, but the same does not apply to the EU parliament and EU commission.

If we are/were the only people spying on them then that is probably because GCHQ secured the systems behind their own hack to lock other attackers out.

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Shall we have AI judging UK court cases? Top beak ponders the future

Peter2
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Re: Henry VI, Part 2!

You make a point about the complexity of wills. But given that there are a series of laws, rules and precedents that dictate how inheritance will work by default, and what is permissible to achieve a client chosen outcome, then we don't need AI, we just need a moderately complex algorithm. Relying on the memory of a human to fully understand the complexity of inheritance law when writing wills is Victorian. A computer can resolve these problems that are (at heart) just very basic algebra far faster, far better. You need people who really understand the law to write the algorithm, but you don't need that "personal touch" that's used to justify often outrageous fees.

Oh, have an XKCD:- https://xkcd.com/1831/

My point is that I have written a highly complex algorithm and it fails to work adequately in all but the most basic usage cases as human affairs are simply to complex and individual to deal with this way. 80% of cases are exceptions to the rule, hence why I point out that it only works in practice for very simple cases where you have a relatively young couple.

Having actually done this with due respect I think my experience trumps your opinion that you could do a better job. If you think you can do better than me, then write your own and prove me wrong and we'll join the several thousand other firms paying you license fees to use it.

In a subsequent post you make the point that if you pay more and your lawyer knows the process, things can be done very efficiently.

Everything is done very efficiently. Your on about doing it quickly. Two different things.

If your willing to pay for expedited services to jump the que with search providers etc then information can be provided very quickly to progress things.

But why should ALL conveyancing not be done quickly and efficiently? Given that customers are already paying a hell of a lot for something barely above administration,

All conveyancing is done efficiently in a streamlined way via case management systems these days. If everybody paid more then conveyancing would be done faster. At the moment you can get it done faster by jumping the que to get yours done faster at the expense of other people. Pay more, and the search company can hire more people to do the job faster, to pick one example.

You've heard the old thing of "Price, speed, quality. Pick two."?

In this case quality of legal work is pre picked by the law firm, as skimping on this to earn an extra £25 means they lose £250,000. That leaves you with a choice of Quality & Price, in which case you get a cheap but slow service or Quality & Speed, in which case you get a fast service that's not cheap.

I have worked for a major law firm (on KM and business development), and in my view the sector is rankly inefficient, the major law firms pad their invoices something chronic, they charge full rate to recycle work they've done and been paid for before, and their commercial objectives are often diametrically opposed to that of their clients.

If the work is done on an hourly basis then yes, the firm would have an incentive to take as long doing the work as possible.

What would happen to those incentives you raise if the work was done on a fixed fee basis? Pretty much all work is done in the legal sector is done on a fixed fee basis these days, by the by.

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Peter2
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Re: Ideas

Lord Burnett then addressed the thorny question of AI in the courtroom, cautiously welcoming it while reminding his audience that "we are in the foothills, rather than the uplands" of its development.

"There is every reason to suppose that it will develop to be useful in giving indicative decisions and maybe help facilitate early settlement" in civil court cases, he said, continuing: "There are those who suggest that AI, buttressed with careful safeguards, could perform some, if not all judicial functions. I have my doubts but would not discourage debate."

Note he says "in civil court cases", almost all of which are absurdly simple cases. Ie; "I bought item A, the seller hasn't sent it to me and I want my money back.". You have a stack of proof from the person bringing the claim, the person on the receiving end doesn't even respond to the court letter. Simply, for this particular application you could say "no defense received by <virtual> court date, found guilty by default and the court orders that a full refund be given. If not done so by <date> then the person bringing this can apply to make the person bankrupt"

That, I would agree you could probably get a existing script driven "AI" to do today without any real risk of any miscarriage of justice, especially if recourse to a human is possible.

I think I can also agree with him that by extension that AI's stand no hope of ever dealing with criminal law cases.

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Peter2
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Re: Henry VI, Part 2!

Conveyancing is another area ripe for automation - all those crappy, expensive, painfully slow manual land searches
Land searches are slow, if you are doing the official searches because your a tightwad. If your willing to pay for it then you can get the searches and the search report within a matter of hours by phoning up the head of the search company and asking them to do a personal search on that property as a priority. You then agree a price, the client agrees to pay for it and they then do their best. The record is I think about 40 minutes from request to the search report being received via email.

Of course, that comes down to the client being willing to pay to have the search done privately, rather than waiting for the local government getting around to it when they feel like it.

and the turgid sale bureaucracy for housing is utterly unnecessary in this day and age. It could be done in minutes, and done more securely. But again, I see nobody trying to do this. Come on Zoopla, this is your sort of sh*t! Get it sorted!

Oh please. Zoopla and Rightmove have hardly accomplished anything. Try and figure out how to list a property on either yourself. Oh, you can't? That'll be because the Estate Agents know that if people could list directly on these sites then estate agents would immediately cease to exist and turned around to both sites and said that they'd start up their own competitors and not list any properties on rightmove/zoopla if they allowed direct listings. Hence, you need an estate agent to list properties on rightmove/zoopla despite the agent not doing anything more than walking around snapping a few photos with a camera and then uploading them with a description. Oh, and pricing. Which is a matter of looking around at what everything else is selling for in the area, and then charging around that with allowance for the condition of the property.

Now, Zoopla can't even deal with Estate Agent's protecting their ability to charge percentage points of the property value for taking and uploading photos. But you think they are doing to deal with actually legally complicated issues? Please.

Technically speaking, you could just hand over the money to the buyer, and then register it at the Land Registry. Some people have been doing this since some TV "expert" suggested doing it. The problem with this is that generally speaking, most buyers get quite upset when they come to sell a property and then discover that somebody else doesn't want to buy it because of the legacy of the flooding in the area, or the possibility that it might collapse down an old mine shaft running under the property, or discover that the property has been built where an awful lot of chemicals were dumped post war, which upon somebody taking a soil sample is starting to leak nasty things into the environment. And um, yeah that's your legal liability to fix up because it's on your property. As is it when the local church has their roof damaged, and then decides to bill the houses that were built on church land for the parishioners in the 14th century.

Very strangely, mortgage lenders don't want to lend people money to buy liabilities like this, leaving the person owning the property having to pay to fix the problems before they can sell it. Do you have any idea how much it costs to fix any of those problems, such as filling in a mine shaft? Not cheap.

And have you ever wondered why conveyancing is the most frequent (and most expensive) insurance claims for law firms? Nope, guess not. Suffice to say that if a law firm misses things like my examples then their insurance tends to foot the bill. Making sure that none of these issues exist, and if they did they are dealt with by absurdly long running insurance policies is all part of the job. Making sure that the person buying the house (and the law firm!) is not liable for those sort of things takes up the majority of the conveyancing process.

The parts of conveyancing that can be automated have long since been automated, simply because when your doing conveyancing for a fixed fee then you automate everything that can be automated. Now consider something a moment.

Estage agent: 1% of £165,000 = £1,650. 30 minutes taking photos and posting them. 4x 15 minute appointments before one agrees to buy the property. That's about an hour and a half worked. Hell, let's call it 2 hours work. That's still £825 per hour for an unskilled job that requires no qualifications beyond a bit of customer service experience.

So: the law firm charges ~£600 for their work in conveyancing. That's 8-10 hours usually. £600/8=£75 per hour to to £600/10=£60 per hour worked. And that's costs, not profit. Paying wages, rent and keeping the lights on does cost something.

If you'd like the job done faster then it's quite possible: pay your Solicitor enough to employ more staff on the job, which lets them get it done faster. I think our firms record is doing a block of flats in about 3 hours, but that relied on somebody being willing to pay a partners rates for doing nothing else for the morning along with sufficiently expedited searches etc.

Another legal job for AI: Search all stature law, and highlight all conflicts of law for resolution, and re-write the lot in the nearest possible to clear everyday English.

Law is written in clear, everyday English already. Even the bits written in medieval latin have been translated to perfectly comprehensible English and are freely available to view online. Ok, let's pick something that everybody here ought to be reasonably familiar with, the computer misuse act.

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1990/18/contents

Read it. How it is unclear? Which bits in particular do you find unduly difficult? I'm going to guess none of it, because it's perfectly comprehensible to anybody who can understand "IF" statement.

1) IF you have done A, B & C THEN you are guilty of this offense. GOTO 3; sentencing. A: This is the penalty if convicted in a magistrates court in England and wales, B, in if convicted in a magistrates court in Scotland, and C anywhere in the UK at the Crown Court with a jury trial.

How could you possibly write that to be any simpler?

And even if it was difficult to understand, allowing an AI to write our laws is not something that should be even remotely desirable because the law is written by humans for humans, accepting the human judgement will be used, and humans still hate it. Without exercising human judgement which an AI is inherently incapable of then AI conceived and executed laws would be an utter disaster.

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Peter2
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Re: Henry VI, Part 2!

> Some in the legal world fear the real reason for the project has more to do with cutting costs

And that alone would be an excellent reason. Anything that stops legal firms charging the rates of their senior lawyers (£200/hour recently in the UK, for a straightforward probate) and then having all the work done by an office junior, would be welcome.

I'm the IT manager for a law firm, and that is a straw man argument. It is not currently possible to do that as redress can be gained through the very, very widely used part 47 procedure.

https://www.justice.gov.uk/courts/procedure-rules/civil/rules/part-47-procedure-for-detailed-assessment

If you trouble yourself to look, you'll find many, many complaints from Solicitors pointing out that the court is deciding that they won't get paid for charging for an office junior (at office junior rates) doing particular bits of work such as sorting and indexing 800 page court bundles. Now, if they won't allow that as chargeable then how do you think you can get £200 per hour for work that's not being done?

The substantial majority of cases are dealt with by fixed fee agreements. You might find somebody particularly rich who has somebody on retainer who they then pay a couple of hundred an hour, but I don't think you'll find many people doing that.

If we can get web-present AIs to handle all the basic stuff that makes up the majority of a lawyer's workload that would be fantastic. If that could interface directly to another AI handling the bulk of litigation, that would be even better.

Um, that was done about two decades ago with case management systems? The main time drain these days in law is that about a third of people in the population are utterly incapable of reading comprehension no matter how simple you make things and then want to speak to a human. Humans, especially highly trained humans are a very expensive cost. You want to pay for that? Fine. But do you really think I want my expensively trained solicitors talking to people on the phone instead of actually doing the legal work, especially when most of the work is done at a fixed fee?!

The only problem then would be how to get the system to work in such a way that those AIs would take 6 months to finish a simple job, when it only actually took a few seconds of compute time?

Ha. If you think you can deal with any legal problems with just CPU time then i've got news for you. If we could have done so, don't you think we would have done?

If we can get web-present AIs to handle all the basic stuff that makes up the majority of a lawyer's workload that would be fantastic.

There's already transactional legal work (like will writing) that is nothing more than a dumb algorithm in computing terms, with little evidence that anybody has successfully displaced meatsack will-writers with machines. Although the deregulation of will writing in 2011 could allow for automation, what actually happened was an increase in people using a qualified solicitor to write their wills rather than will writing services, so it seems Joe Public still seeks the comfort of an expensive legal professional.

<Citation needed>

If you can reduce will writing to a dumb algorithm, then please be my guest. I've been trying for a decade in hope of making actually writing the will profitable, and i've failed comprehensively because besides of 30 year olds who have just bought their first property, have no kids and both want simple mirror wills that say basically "If I die then everything goes to my partner, and if they've died then to my parents, and if they've died then to charity" then wills are fiendishly complicated masses of legally complicated ANDIF statements that not only have to state what people want to do, but also have to work around case law that would prevent their expressed wishes from being thwarted in court.

For instance, the grandparents who haven't s been blocked from seeing their great grandchildren by their grandchilren have decided that since the grandkids are effectively disowning them they would rather leave the money to somebody else than their grandkids. Grandkids challenge the money not being left to them in court, to which point the case law gets a bit more complicated. And i'd count that as a simple, predictable will.

You wouldn't know because you'll never see any large selection of wills, but take it from me you can automate about 20% of wills. The remaining 80% are so byzantine that an AI would probably decide that it's easier to do a skynet than deal with it.

And by the by, we do wills at a fixed fee. We do them (IIRC) for a fixed fee of £110 for a single will. We don't make a profit on this. The reason for this is that it's a loss leader. We offer to store the will for the client in secure storage, and a few of those will then turn out to be probate cases that some of the grandkids do decide to challenge in court and then we make a few quid from the litigation.

Companies that can do wills but cannot do the litigation or other services had to charge a lot, lot more for getting a will than we have ever charged precisely because they had to earn their living doing nothing else. For us, it's a loss leader and we aren't trying much to make money from it.

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Tesla autopilot saves driver after he fell asleep at wheel on the freeway

Peter2
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Re: Snark?

Seems to me the autopilot is quite impressive in a lot of situations.

It gets a lot of snark because it's an automated lane control supercruise that's calling itself an autopilot, despite the demonstrated incapability of detect a stationary object in the road, like a large red vehicle with blue flashing lights and a siren.

In other words, it's a bit of software that is truthfully is not quite ready for an alpha test that is widely deployed to people who don't understand the shortcomings and endanger the lives of other people. If it only killed it's own drivers then we probably wouldn't mind so much since the choice would be on the person driving it, however many of us object to being killed by somebody elses bad software decisions, with a liability on the software company of saying "sorry" in the most insincere way possible.

What is the accident rate per mile driven compared to other cars?

Quite poor apparently.

https://www.greencarreports.com/news/1107109_teslas-own-numbers-show-autopilot-has-higher-crash-rate-than-human-drivers/page-2

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Facebook spooked after MPs seize documents for privacy breach probe

Peter2
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Re: Sovereign Power applied.

I'm not sure that that's true. (Usual 'not a lawyer' statements apply here.) False imprisonment isn't a strict liability offence. As well as actus rea you would need to show mens rea; in this case, that the person imprisoning knew that it was false. Otherwise you would be locking up people who imprisoned those who were found guilty but whose convictions were later overturned, or those that were arrested but later released without charge.

Nope. If somebody was imprisoned but found not guilty then they'd still have been imprisoned by the authority of a court under the lawful judgement of their peers.

The police have powers of arrest, however these are limited to 48 hours without them placing a charge, and holding somebody without charge for up to 24 hours (or a max of 96 hours in case of murder, or 14 days in case of terrorism) pending investigation is legal under the police and criminal evidence act/terrorism act.

If a court rules that you are being held in false imprisonment then firstly, your set free. The fact that you were set free from false imprisonment then proves that you were held in false imprisonment, which lets you lay criminal charges against the people holding you in false imprisonment using the previous case as established precedent for being held in false imprisonment.

The only way for the person so charged with false imprisonment to provide a defense would be to prove they had the legal right to imprison somebody, which requires reference to a statue written by parliament, approved by the lords and signed into executive power by the sovereign. Which, notably they wouldn't have and therefore they would be unable to provide any defense. Thus, they'd be found guilty more or less immediately as there is no possible argument to make that they were acting lawfully.

Very interesting. How does that square with internment in N.Ireland during the troubles?

(I love tangents)

Google knoweth all. Apparently it was allowed under the "Civil Authorities (Special Powers) Act (Northern Ireland) 1922". Habeus Corpus is only a tool to produce somebody before a Judge and demand of their jailer their lawful authority to hold the person. When they have no authority then this is useful, when they do have lawful authority then it's not useful.

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Peter2
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Re: Sovereign Power applied.

Concur, except it's not civil servants, it's not UK laws, and it's not the UK government. It's parliament which constitutionally is above all of those things and ad hoc can create any powers it wishes, whether appropriate or inappropriate. One of the benefits (along with the detriments) derived from not having a post-civil war written constitution.

The UK Constitution is written, and it was also post civil war, though of course it was post the English civil war and the Glorious Revolution that followed it, not post the American civil war.

I think you meant that the UK constitution is "uncodified" as in there aren't any documents saying "this is an important constitutional document that you can't alter", other than the important constitutional documents that do in fact say that, and provide "interesting" remedies such as absolving citizens of their allegiance.

I suppose that technically Parliament could write a law saying that they have the right to do something incredibly objectionable, however they have to get the House of Lords to sign it off first. They then have to get the Monarch to sign it off.

It's a bit more balanced than you might think, the UK's constitutional arrangements are the end product of the better part of a thousand years worth of evolution without somebody deciding that the particular point they have reached is the pinnacle of possible development and trying to freeze the whole thing as it is. No doubt the UK's constitution will continue to evolve such in such a manner as is required for ongoing operation.

The right of parliament to lock somebody up for contempt of parliament is dubious, at best. Last time the commons used it was 1666 back when the commons and the lords were the final appeal courts so it was essentially a form of contempt of court under common law. Since then the commons decided that they couldn't be assed to deal with appeals and said they wouldn't do it, and the house of lords decided that wasn't quite fair, so they'd take appeals from anybody doing so in the form used by the House of Lords, and not just from Lords etc which is how the House of Lords came to be the final arbiter of laws. Up until the EU decisions that basically forced the Law lords to set up and transfer all of the remaining powers in the Lords to the UK Supreme Court.

As a result, nobody left in parliament (either the commons or the lords) actually have the legal authority to imprison somebody on their sayso. Any attempt to do so would be effectively be via the sovereigns "divine right" to do whatever they dammed well please, and imprisonment without trial was banned under section XXIX of the 1215 Magna Carta. Anybody causing somebody to be imprisoned without trial would find that:-

1) The person involved would submit a writ of Habeas Corpus to any court. (or somebody might do so on their behalf, Habeas Corpus allowing for the fact that the person being imprisoned may be held incommunicado) The person is then bought before a court and the jailor is required to supply their lawful authority to hold the prisoner. The jailor would have no such lawful authority, and so the court would have to order that the prisoner be set free.

2) At this point, having set the prisoner free this immediately proves the fact that the imprisonment they were in was unlawful, at which point the person who caused the imprisonment is by default guilty of false imprisonment, which is a felony under common law. This is a criminal offense under the Criminal Law Act 1967, which means that parliamentary privilege does not apply as it's only effective for civil cases and the MP's and any staff involved can (and would) have to stand trial for false imprisonment, and also probably malfeasance in office. As there would be no possible defense to either charge, it would be a brave MP that tried to pull that as a stunt, IMO. They'd end up in prison for an awful lot longer than the chap they imprisoned!

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LG: Fsck everything, we're doing 16 lenses in smartphones (probably)

Peter2
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Re: Small room, large AI.

The focal length basically prohibits that.

Short lens: crap magnification, but wide field of view.

Long lens: great magnification, but restricted field of view.

Smartphones inherently are flat(ish) and so will always have a short lens and therefore are always going to be worse at magnification than any camera. Smartphones are simply the new baseline for low end cameras for low end personal photography and are really only notable by their ubiquity meaning that they are often "in the right place".

Frankly though, when it comes to improving the quality of pictures from smartphones some rudimentary knowledge of photography basics would deliver a better result than many technical improvements would do...

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Shocker: UK smart meter rollout is crap, late and £500m over budget

Peter2
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Re: Nah.. They won't be getting a grilling..

I play around with hobby electronics and have made things like 100w LED torches, and combat usable LED lightsabers. You learn something about LED's along the way.

An LED lamp is a combination of these components:-

1) The LED chip aka the diode.

2) The heat sink

3) The power supply

The LED chip itself is rated to last ~50,000 hours in service. Left running for 24 hours a day 7 days a week, this should be 5.7 years per unit. Nobody leaves their lights on all day, and the bulbs don't last 6 years, let alone a multiple of this allowing for the fact that most people don't run their bulbs in daylight and so use them for far less than 50% of the time Wonder why?

An LED gets quite hot. As it gets hot, the resistance drops. As the resistance drops, the LED draws more current and gets hotter. This becomes a death spiral if uncorrected. This is corrected in two ways. Firstly, dump the heat. My 100w torches actually use a full CPU cooler, including the fan. Most commercially available bulbs do not have a decent heat sink, and are mounted by the end user in such a way as to preclude any airflow which drastically reduces the expected in service life.

Second is the power supply. You need a controller current power supply to prevent the LED from drawing more than the designed current and cooking itself. Some don't have anything at all here.

I'm not sure if this is a cock up or a conspiracy. Probably a bit of both, fixing of the light bulb market is not a new thing.

Also; with regards to your earlier post painting the walls or not doesn't do anything and an external factor is in play. Your next door neighbor probably benefits from a drug gang having the flat underneath fitted as a grow room for drugs and the heat is coming in through the floor. The paint on the walls is not the cause.

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Fancy Bear hacker crew Putin dirty RATs in Word documents emailed to govt orgs – report

Peter2
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Re: Here we go again

But the results are already in: The continued success of Word macro attacks shows this approach does not work in practice. For getting any security, macros need to be seriously restricted, or the feature removed entirely.

What it demonstrates is that in practice, people leave the settings on the default setting of "medium" or it's updated equivalent which warns the end user, but allows them to activate macros when they click one button.

Organizations then expend considerable time and money training people not to click the button. I would argue that this approach "does not work in practice", whereas forcing macros to "off" unless they are appropriately signed by an approved internal certificate demonstrably does in fact completely prevent this entire class of attack.

While personally I think this setting ought to be the default from installation, changing it to a setting I consider to be more appropriate at network level takes less than 5 minutes and then can't be changed by the end user.

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Peter2
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Re: Here we go again

15 years ago with office 2003, Microsoft implemented a macro security setting called "high", which disables all macros other than ones with a digital signature on a predefined list. This was IIRC later renamed to "Disable all macros, except digitally signed macros" in office 2007, 2010, 2013 & 2016

You can force this on or off via group policy via a set of (free) extensions available free of charge from Microsoft's website and it takes what, 5 minutes to download and configure?

Is there anybody out there who hasn't actually enabled this, and the other security settings? I kind of assume the answer is "yes" otherwise "advanced" hackers wouldn't be using this sort of attack, but seriously WTF guys?

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Facebook's CEO on his latest almighty Zuck-up: OK, we did try to smear critics, but I was too out-of-the-loop to know

Peter2
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Re: Disliking Soros != Anti-Semitism

Helping people is conventionally done via founding charities. Bill Gates is somebody who pretty much everybody can agree is helping people by fighting disease etc, and his political involvement is limited to his core activities, such as last time he was on stage pushing toilets suitable for the conditions in africa to improve sanitation etc.

Mr Soros on the other hand has alongside such activities invested very, very significant sums (reportedly in the billions) into making political changes. He deserves at least the same level of scrutiny as Mr Murdoch does when he attempts to meddle in public affairs.

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Want to hack a hole-in-the-wall cash machine for free dosh? It's as easy as Windows XP

Peter2
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Re: all of the attacks mentioned require access to the hardware

none with the explosives have been used around here yet.

Blowing up an ATM with explosives is dangerous, wakes everybody within miles and attracts attention, which leads to photographs etc, plus produces such a huge outcry that the police are obliged to exhaustively investigate any lead going. Explosives are also very tightly regulated and thus highly traceable.

Ramming a digger into the ATM and driving off with it, sticking the ATM in a makeshift farraday cage (one assumes they have a tracking device) while you blowtorch it open is relatively easy in that all you need is a digger and it also doesn't attract much attention from the public, or from the police.

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Between you, me and that dodgy-looking USB: A little bit of paranoia never hurt anyone

Peter2
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Re: A paranoid mount option ?

What is needed is a paranoid mount option for USB devices - the OS would report to the user what the device says it is but would not execute any code on the device.

Already exists.

Disable autorun and put a Software Restriction Policy GPO in to not execute any executable code outside of authorized locations (eg, %program files%, %servershare%) unless you are an admin.

Hence, local users can't execute files that haven't been put in an authorized location, and can't put them in an authorized location themselves. This provides quite a lot of protection; since %temp% is blocked as a authorised location and outlook puts files there when it runs then while the users can open documents sent to them (.doc(x), .xls(x), .pdf) then executable content (.exe, .vbs, .etc) will not run. They literally then can't run trojans attached to emails if they try. They can't run executables from USB sticks either.

Then lock down office from downloading content from the internet that's not in the document and block unsigned macros from running and... how can users damage their computers? They can't. This is all available for zero cost with group policy out of the box.

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Windows XP? Pfff! Parts of the Royal Navy are running Win ME

Peter2
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Re: Few comments

"new hardware for ME / 95 / 98 / Win 7 etc will become increasingly hard to find"

You do realise that the flagship of the Royal Navy is a First Rate Line of Battleship, which was laid down in 1759 and predates the formation of the United States of America?

By comparison, keeping a bit of ten year old equipment in service is not exactly an insurmountable problem. The RN & MOD is not precisely short of warehouse room for spares.

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My hoard of obsolete hardware might be useful… one day

Peter2
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Re: I've still got a pile of 2x10 terminators, T-pieces and connectors.

I'm not even going to start listing what i'm holding, but suffice to say that when doing a site visit for an unrelated reason the CEO of a national grade supplier (very, very old contact) wryly mentioned he'd been asked to sell spares for my type of system by another company at "blank cheque" level money who had needed to do an emergency fix for an out of support system. This company had found that the international supply chain now contains zero of these parts, and were phoning around other former maintainers hoping somebody was keeping some spares.

I am assured that I literally hold the only known comprehensive set of spare parts (x2 of everything) anywhere in the world for this system as a result of deciding that spare parts availability might be a future issue years ago, doing a back of the envelope calculation on the cost of complete replacement versus the cost of buying up every spare going cheaply on eBay and persuading managlement that it would be worth committing a bit of cash to buying up a modest stock of spares to keep us ticking over until we decide to replace the system.

He also said that the numbers of trained people left in the industry who can work on these systems are at the "count them on your fingers" level and suggested that I might be the most practiced person left maintaining one of these systems. Bless.

Forgive the AC and not mentioning what the system is. Now I know what the parts are worth i'm concerned that my spares store could be a major target for burglary. I will say though that I love the BMA crowd. The "don't hold spares" cos "just in time" attitude has made my spares worth a fortune now.

It really would be worth having a site that does keep track of what odd spares we have around since one persons rubbish really is anothers gold when that part breaks on a production system that really should have been replaced a lifetime ago.

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If Shadow Home Sec Diane Abbott can be reeled in by phishers, truly no one is safe

Peter2
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Re: I doubt she'll ever be Home Secretary, but...

That speech is here. Watch it, and then come back. https://t.co/qNMvtilMa1

So, we know that if gifted with a really good speechwriter that somebody trained in public speaking can look very competent when reading off of a script? Great, let's make the press secretary PM on that basis.

Oh, wait. Different set of skills required.

Her demonstrated ability to think for and articulate for herself has been amply demonstrated, and she stands as a lasting monument to the Peter Principle. She's simply been promoted a level beyond her level of competence and reached her point of incompetence.

If she drops down a level then she could regain and no doubt retain a reputation for being competent, useful and respected. As it is, the general public are observing somebody operating far beyond their point of competence and she will remain an object of mockery and derision until she returns to a job she is competent at. Frankly, I think keeping her in the position she is in is outright cruel.

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Facebook quietly admits role in Myanmar killing fields – but fret not, it will do better next time

Peter2
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Re: Needed: prosocial data diode for amplifier

They have, yes.

It is also noteworthy that most of the current sites reward short ill thought out rants over longer and more considered posts.

This is particular to these sites: it did not used to happen on forums predating facebook. Of course, this also ignores that people have declining social skills due to reliance on electronic communication and are starting to use websites at a much younger age than was once the case.

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NAND so it begins: Micron mounts head-on attack against 10K disks

Peter2
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Re: Enterprise? SATA??

At that price, i'd be doing the same.

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ICO poised to fine Leave campaign and Arron Banks’ insurance biz £135,000

Peter2
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Re: Whereas the "Remain" campaign

As with anything, it all depends on how you present the facts.

I think you've misread things. The major stories following from this report are (in no particular order, and from a certain point of view)

1) He has not been found to have not overspent, and neither has the leave campaign.

1a) The Lib Dems were found guilty of breaching the spending limits for "remain" and were fined for this last year.

2) Quite a few journalists stated that a major factor of leave winning was Cambridge Analytica doing micro targeting. Remember that?

The report states that having investigated this exceedingly closely CA did not take part in the referendum. An awful lot of journalists have just had their journalistic credibility torn to shreds.

2) He has been found to have run part of the marketing campaign on the same IT infrastructure as one of his businesses.

3) Either deliberately or via screwing up, they sent a marketing message meant from the leave.eu group to the people opted in to the mailing list of one of his companies.

4) He's been caught using the leave.eu group to send a 10% off discount offer for an insurance product sold by one of his businesses.

5) There remains no evidence whatsoever that Russia funded the leave campaign, and the only people asserting this are the people who asserted that Cambridge Analytica won the referendum for leave, which has just been proven false.

6) The Lib Dems have just been fined for outright selling their members information to the remain campaign without their consent.

6a) In other news, the Lib Dems are having to make staff redundant due to financial difficulties.

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Tata on trial: Outsourcer 'discriminated' against non-Asian workers, claim American staff

Peter2
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Re: An interesting experiment...

I surmise that their employing such a large proportion of Sooth Asians / Indians isn't necessarily deliberate discrimination on their part, more that most Americans and Europeans would not accept to work at their rates or to work in a culture where they have no input into design, business process etc and just do as they are told without question.

I think that specifying such poor pay and working conditions relative to everybody else in the industry that the only way of staffing your company is via immigration on visas that are immediately ended if the person quits or fired is both deliberate discrimination, and a serious abuse of process.

The people working for that company know that they can be more or less arbitrarily fired by their employer, and then immediately deported. Those staff are basically being forced into agreeing whatever is demanded of them in terms of accepting the behavior of their managers and the wages that are offered, otherwise their lives can be arbitrarily destroyed.

This grants their manager a level of power that otherwise hasn't existed in our society since banishment by the "divine right" of a king to command anything without reference to due process.

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'Privacy is a human right': Big cheese Sat-Nad lays out Microsoft's stall at Future Decoded

Peter2
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Re: Man, that's hilarious!

Yes, but I think your missing my point.

Microsoft cares about hurting it's competitors by supporting laws that hurt them disproportionately more than it disadvantages them.

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Peter2
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Re: Man, that's hilarious!

Microsoft pretending that it values user privacy is hilarious.

But it does now. If you think about it for a few minutes you'll figure out why.

Facebook gets practically all of it's revenue from advertising, and mining information from the user.

Google gets practically all of it's revenue from advertising, and mining information from the user.

Microsoft gets practically all of it's revenue from product licensing. They failed in search, they failed with mobile phones, and they failed in basically everything but their existing products.

Hence, Microsoft has nothing whatsoever to lose from implementing really stringent privacy laws such as GDPR, but it would disproportionately hurt their competitors. Hence, Microsoft now cares really deeply about your privacy. But probably not quite so much that they'll stop tracking which websites you visit so they can improve Bing's search, or stop tracking everything that you do on your computer until a law stopping them for doing it comes in.

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Sensor failure led to Soyuz launch failure, says Roscosmos

Peter2
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Re: "can the fault detection system work fast enough. "

Lest we forget, a 1MHz processor is running at 1,000,000 cycles per second, which even assuming an inefficient architecture that needs 10 cycles to process an instruction means that it's still capable of doing 100,000 calculations per second. That's plenty fast enough for doing pretty much anything when your programming in assembler.

We now need the 200MHz processor to try and keep up with that 1MHz processor because the useful work has to pass through a hundred abstraction layers to get to the hardware.

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Microsoft claims Office 364 back to business as usual. Oh no it isn't, say suffering sysadmins

Peter2
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So...

In my environment for patching I have a canary group, which gets updates first. The Canary group is comprised of less essential but voluble users who rarely (if ever) pass on an opportunity to report a problem, real or imagined. If the canary group snuffs it following a patch, I know not to apply the patches to production.

Has nobody told Microsoft staff that this is best practice with their software...?

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Shift-work: Keyboards heaped in a field push North Yorks council's fly-tipping buttons

Peter2
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Re: V.amusing but...

(What, your keyboard doesn’t have an Any key?)

As you should explain to any user having trouble with this, the "any" key is the large unmarked key in the middle of the bottom row, also known as the "space" key.

This has the positive effect of the user ending the call happy with IT, and thinking that they have learned something few other people know. They then spread that around with their friends, which as people tend to hang out with similar people tends to eliminate calls from their social circle too.

It also has a slight chance that it might come out in the pub with their friends that they called the IT department asking which key was the "any key", leading to their friends saying to them what we want to say.

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Peter2
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Re: Some white ones visible on the pictures

Nobody is going to fly tip IBM model M's. Firstly, the resale value is so high that only an idiot would do it.

Secondly, anybody trying to lift a stack of them would have collapsed with a hernia. The Model M is not exactly what you might call lightweight.

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Bomb squad descends on suspicious package to find something much more dangerous – a Journey cassette

Peter2
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Re: Harmless

I wouldn't bet much on that. My car was built 20 years ago and while admittedly it did come with a tape player 20 years ago pretty much the first thing I did with the car was to rip the tape player out and substitute it with a modern 2din touchscreen radio/mp3/cd/dvd/satnav android device which gives the same functionality as people buy new cars for.

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Apple might be 'collateral damage' in US and China trade dust-up

Peter2
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Re: Shooting onself in the head

If China is the largest market, then longer term it would make sense anyway to do as much as possible in China

Up until a local copycat product (that's copied to such a point as including your copyright marks) goes on sale for less than your product (no R&D costs for direct copies!) and your Chinese sales promptly then go splat. The Chinese court systems then declare that no infringement of anything has taken place, leaving your company with no legal recourse, no market and looming bankruptcy.

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Techie was bigged up by boss… only to cause mass Microsoft Exchange outage

Peter2
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Re: Note to Microsoft

Having heard all of the horror stories of people shutting down servers since the 2k days I have always put in a GPO on my sites to remove the "shut down" and "restart" options from the start menu of my servers. (plus other housekeeping bits like logging off people who leave their sessions connected after a decent period.)

This forces shutting machines down to be done with the "shutdown" command (start->run "shutdown /i") which forces very deliberate action be taken in shutting machines down.

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Belgium: Oi, Brits, explain why Belgacom hack IPs pointed at you and your GCHQ

Peter2
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Re: Belgian terrorists

Are you so sure of that? I seem to remember much of British Intelligence being run by the KGB.And Philby, Blunt et al were just the ones they found.....

I think what he means is that British Intelligence is an honest spy outfit that covertly seeks information to pass onto parts of Her Majesties Government, whereas both the KGB and the Gestapo (though he probably means stasi here) had something of a habit of torturing information out of people they didn't like, or re-educating them in a Gulag in Siberia. Or just killing them.

By contrast, the most dodgy conduct uncovered about GCHQ is them discovering that somebody is smuggling drugs into the country in a particular vehicle and somebody in GCHQ then phones customs up and tells them to do a "random" search on that vehicle with specially trained sniffer dogs, and to exercise their selective amnesia by forgetting that GCHQ phoned.

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Peter2
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GCHQ's job is to intercept communications, break the encryption and hand plain text usable information over to the people in charge.

The USA compromised the UN communications, it would be terminally naive to expect that the GHCQ wouldn't have targeted the EU parliament and EU commission's communications.

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I ship you knot: 2,400-year-old Greek trading vessel found intact at bottom of Black Sea

Peter2
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Chances are that a ship that size would have been following the shore anyway, which would tend to negate any need for navigation instruments.

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Peter2
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Re: Leave it there

The "loot" in this case is simply knowledge. For instance, how these sort of ships were built is largely conjectural. Direct investigation can provide some proof, which sets the historical record straight.

There is a possibility that some navigational materials such as instruments might be recovered, which might prove or disprove existing historical theory, and what the cargo is can provide information about the culture's trade links etc.

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UK Home Office admits £200m Emergency Services Network savings 'delayed'

Peter2
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Re: Omnishambles

That's one option.

The other option would be to go to the Army purchasing bods and ask how much it would cost for the police, ambulance & fire service to adopt the new(ish) Bowman radios the Army has.

Tada, problem solved. Military spec encryption voice & data comms that's proven to work in Afghanistan which is more devoid of comms infrastructure than the shires are for less than the cost of extending airwave.

You can use COTS devices (ie smartphones) between the APC police car and the end user and it comes ready built with a suite of battlefield management tools suitable for senior management to see where their tanks and infantry police cars and ambulances are and provides easy ways of integrating the police helicopters with the police cars, since the army has already solved the problem.

It also massively increases the number of deployed users which helps with economies of scale when buying the devices for the end users. It requires very little in the way of development since it already actually works and has been deployed and the only requirements would be to make sure that the services are on their own channels and not capable of accidentally ordering airstrikes. And perhaps changing terminology in the "Battlefield management system" UI's to be a bit less military orientated.

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EU aren't kidding: Sky watchdog breathes life into mad air taxi ideas

Peter2
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Why bother? A "rule of thumb" works quite well a lot of the time.

The flying car has a 30th of the impact area with a 12th of the weight. The impact area was what stopped that Dakota, as you can see by the way the nose was sticking out of the far side.

A flying car is going to be of similar size to a car, probably with higher weight if it's being battery powered. We know that cars at or a bit under 30MPH go through walls because it's happened numerous times.

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/four-hospital-after-car-crashes-11103940

https://www.expressandstar.com/news/local-hubs/staffordshire/stafford/2017/07/31/crash-leaves-gaping-hole-in-wall---but-no-injuries/

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Peter2
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However, I'll just leave this here...

https://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/hometruths/dakotaonroof.shtml

In the case of a Dakota DC3 hitting a terrace row of houses then you'll note that the nose section has gone through both sides of the roof, plus whatever supports were in the way holding the roof up. The 29 meter long wing & engines hitting the roof did stop the aircraft with very considerable damage to both the roof and aircraft.

However, that's not really directly comparable to a flying car. If a flying car hits a roof then firstly it's not likely to be horizontally as this was, it's more likely to becoming in vertically as a result of a fall. It's also not going to have a ~30 meter wing to distribute the weight. It's going to have all of the velocity concentrated upon a meter area like a wrecking ball.

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Peter2
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Ah, your thinking of the safety of the people in the vehicle?

Aircraft regulation is done the other way around. It looks at the safety of the people that a ton of weight is going to land upon, having fallen a few thousand feet from the operational height.

Parachutes, even attached to the vehicle is insufficient for use in a residential area by aircraft rules because if the vehicle lands on a building (even slowly) then it can still cause fatalities because most roofs are designed to keep the rain out, not to support the unexpected impact of a ton worth of weight moving at a speed of ~50mph (with parachutes) to the terminal velocity of the vehicle which will be several hundred mph.

Hence why the manufacturers want to throw out the aviation safety book. The people who may be beneath these things when they fall out of the sky may have different thoughts on the subject, however.

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RIP Paul Allen: Microsoft cofounder billionaire dies at 65 after facing third bout with cancer

Peter2
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Re: Say what you will

I know on this site that a large portion of the participants are Microsoft haters.

A large portion of the participants here use Microsoft software daily and hate Microsoft business decisions such as firing their software testers and then getting our end users to do the testing, and then ignoring us when we point out that things are broken, etc etc etc etc etc etc. The list of things that annoy us is probably to long to list on El Reg, i'm sure that there must be a post size limit so I won't try and list them all.

But anyway, the short story is that although we might hate dealing with broken software it doesn't mean that we hate everybody who has ever been involved with Microsoft. Just the people that came up with the ideas that are causing us major headaches. And the people who signed those ideas off.

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Cabinet Office: Forget about Verify – look at our 3,000 designers (and 56 meetups)

Peter2
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Re: Doug Adams was right

Aren't you supposed too be able to fit the entire population of the Earth onto the Isle of Wight?

Yes. However, that assumes that every one of them is going to be standing upright, with zero movement and zero space to move.

It assumes that those ~7 billion people would need to eat or drink etc. So yes, theoretically it's possible. Practically, not so much.

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AI's next battlefield is literally the battlefield: In 20 years, bots will fight our wars – Army boffin

Peter2
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But isn't it said that "offense is the best defense"?

Yes, but people misunderstand this as with many other sayings.

The reason for this saying is that when somebody is attacking, the other side tends to defend. It's basic psychology that you can see taking place in any strategy game. When defending, any plans for an offensive tend to go out of the window. Prolonged series of even token an ineffective harassment level attacks tends to put the other side in a siege mentality where they just respond to the actions of the attacker and fail to even consider attacking themselves despite having considerably more mobile firepower.

So by forcing them into a defensive posture you prevent them from attacking you. Hence, attack is the best form of defense. Unless it isn't, in which case defense is the best form of defense.

5
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With sorry Soyuz stuffed, who's going to run NASA's space station taxi service now?

Peter2
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Re: No worries

Spacenews says "The problem with the Space Launch System is that it is a fully expendable rocket that could cost between $1.5 billion to $2.5 billion to launch. NASA is struggling to make the SLS more affordable to operate"

https://spacenews.com/europa-or-enceladus-if-nasa-switches-from-sls-to-falcon-heavy-it-wont-have-to-choose/

Where did you get the half billion cost per launch from?

Meanwhile, SpaceX is quoting costs of $62 million for the Falcon 9 Full Thrust and $90 million for the Falcon Heavy, both of which have actually flown. The ESA has a target price of 90 million euros for the upcoming Ariane 6. Meanwhile, the SLS remains expensive vapourware and by the time they actually finish it, SpaceX may well be ready with their BFR.

Personally, I would be quite surprised if the SLS project ever actually gets used at the cost/performance it has.

8
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Mozilla grants distrusted Symantec certs a stay of execution, claims many sites yet to make switch

Peter2
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Re: Who, and how much?

If you like Pale Moon I have another web browser you might like, it is called Internet Explorer 6.

Look mate, most of us were moving people off of IE6 to Firefox in the second browser wars. In the early days, the biggest selling point of Firefox was that you could have it setup the way you wanted it.

All of the people who have fled Firefox will have done so because after 14+ years using the classic UI plus their modifications they know every nook and cranny of the UI and can do what they want to do quickly and efficiently, and frankly can't be assed to relearn how to use their own web browser because somebody thinks they should.

If Firefox wanted to retain or regain it's userbase then it's pretty easy to do. When you make massive changes to the UI just include another theme called "classic" that people can apply if they don't like your changes, and problem perpetually solved. Acting like a spoiled teenager and insulting the people leaving because they don't like the way the product changes tends to convince those people to remain in opposition rather than switch back. It's counterproductive as well as being childish.

I went for Waterfox. It can do all three kinds of Firefox extensions and it's based on Firefox 56 + a few minor UI changes which came later (sidebar, some preferences) + security updates. I figure it can't be worse than ESR 52.9.0 and if the project dies I'll look for another one.

Yeah, I did look at Waterfox. It's a good alternative if you liked that UI, however personally I was quite happy with the original Firefox user interface that i've been using since FF1 and went with Pale Moon on the basis that it's the default. Either work though, i'm just glad we have the option to do this these days!

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Peter2
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Re: Who, and how much?

I guess they're trying to hang on to users. Firefox Quantium seems to have made some monthly active users move somewhere else. There was a summer slump that never went back up. Odd that...

I'm one of those users. I was involuntarily upgraded to the new Quantum browser from the ESR release of Firefox. The new browser had loads of UI changes somebody probably thought would be a good idea to shove down my throat without a choice or method of reversion, while also deciding that I wouldn't actually want any of the extensions i'd got installed.

I had a quick look around and discovered that nobody had produced an extension to restore the UI of the browser back to how it looked previously. Having had my browser changed with the elimination of my preferences yet again with no way of actually restoring it this time, I decided that after ~14 years it was time to switch browsers since Mozilla has evidently been taking instruction from Microsoft as to how to forcefully cram increasingly broken bloatware down the throats of the users and ignore the feedback (ie. screams of protest)

Deciding that I probably wouldn't be the only person this unhappy with the status quo led me to check for forks of Firefox that keep up with security updates but don't leave me without a working web browser every 6 weeks. After trying a few alternatives I decided I quite like Pale Moon, and have been using it since without any regrets since.

The developers for it port the security updates to their codebase, but leave everything else alone. I'm quite happy with this as are family, friends and it has the benefit of not needing to do such major QA for updates as Firefox did at work. Better all round.

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SpaceX touches down in California as Voyager 2 spies interstellar space

Peter2
Silver badge

Re: RTLS

The maneuver is very little like the shuttles RTLS abort. In that, they stop boosting up to orbit at a random and unplanned point and jettison the rocket boosters and fuel tank, then turn the shuttle into a glider and then loop around and land on a runway.

The SpaceX rockets were designed to land afterwards, and even then you'll note that the first quite a few attempts didn't exactly go according to plan and required several design changes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p9FzWPObsWA

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