* Posts by Ross 7

293 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009


War On Standby: Do the figures actually stack up?

Ross 7

So basically LP didn't like the numbers and decided to make some up? Great story...

"It's plain that a lot of the time the software was assessing things as being on standby when they were actually on and working"

No it's not - there is no evidence for that at all. LP just presumed that as he thinks those numbers seem odd given his world view. I see no measurements taken by LP though to back that up, just some ideas and numbers pulled from the arse.

"[standby] is apparently too expensive and damaging to be permitted.

Meanwhile, curiously, it appears that such things as regular showers, hot drinks and food (previously refrigerated), powerful hair-furtling appliances, clothes and bedding laundered at frequent intervals, heating kept on at high levels throughout the winter etc etc; these are all inalienable human rights."

Generally it's a good idea when making a comparison to use items that are comparable. If you compared things that can go on standby such as TVs, PCs etc with hairdryers, washing machines etc then that is entirely reasonable. Comparing the standby facility itself with hairdryers and washing machines is merely retarded.

"According to the "special software", "Aerials" use zero watts when switched on - which they never were during the entire study period, apparently"

Wow. Just wow. So the proof that the software was not working correctly is that it reports zero energy usage for a device when turned on that was never turned on? Please tell me I don't have to explain that . You'd have to have an IQ <70 to think that was an issue.

Feel free to do a year long survey of a randomly chosen population to test your ideas and report back here, but please don't just witter on for two whole fucking pages on the grounds you don't like the numbers. If you want to leave your tele on standby go for it - I don't have a problem with it. You pay the bill. Just quit the whole Daily Fail "nobody can tell me what to do/think" crap. Pretty please?

Blighty's new anti-bribe law will do more HARM than good

Ross 7

"If bribery in Chinese business circles is so prevalent and aggressive as to affront even an Arab near-dictatorship then what hope have British businesses got when we're still not sure whether tickets to the rugby are an illegal bribe or not?"

Ah, but the point of that case was simply that they bribed the 'wrong' people.

New laws always present new questions. The CPS will be issued with guidance on when it is appropriate to prosecute and when it is not. Any half decent legal dept will have a gander and make sure that they brief their bosses on how to ensure they stay under the parapet.

An outright ban on bribery will inevitably make it more difficult for UK business to compete abroad, but so does anything that improves society as a rule. We don't have much manufacturing industry now 'cause we can't compete with Chinese (forced) labour. Should we lower our working conditions to match, or look to improve working conditions for others, and/or sell on added value (like Fairtrade etc)

Hitchhiker shot while researching 'Kindness of America'

Ross 7

@ AC Posted Wednesday 13th June 2012 13:34 GMT

*That* is why gun controls are such a positive in society. It's not so much about saying who can have one, and who can't (although that's inevitably a part of it, in the same way we determine who can be trusted to drive a car, or an HGV etc and who cannot).

If you take anything from the "gun control" argument take this quote from the above AC -

"I operate within the law, shoot clays and vermin, my air rifle is 30lb so technically a firearm and registered as such (I have a coterminous licence), I have regular inspections and chats with my local firearms officer"

If you want a s.1 (firearm) or s.12 (shotgun) license you get visits from the boys in blue, both before they give you one, and during the time you hold one. They check your security etc, as well as getting a rough idea of whether you are an obvious raging loon or not. It's almost always the same guy/gal from my experience. You get to know them a bit, have a chat on etc.

The result is that the people that (legally) possess firearms and shotguns have a relationship with the police, and generally get along. That's a good thing. When you start letting people with a complete hatred or distrust of the police etc possess guns you start to get problems.

UK websites: No one bothers with cookie law, why should we?

Ross 7

Re: Oliver

Parking on footpaths is illegal in Landan Town (http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukla/1974/24/section/15).

The cookie law annoys me as I keep seeing these silly grey banners wittering on about cookies. I wondered why they kept popping up everywhere. If I want to stop cookies it's not hard and I shall make the effort. I just wish the law made them put the "cookie spam banner" in a .js file with a given name to make it straightforward to block.

Hackers expose 6.5 MILLION 'LinkedIn passwords'

Ross 7

Re: Who writes this crap?

@Gordon Stewart - I was ready and primed to ctrl-v that very same quote and let fly a stream of "pithy" vitriol :) Good job I checked to see if anyone else had got there first!

I would add that hashing != encryption. Oh, and I didn't think your tone was particularly bad (not that you care, but just saying...)

But yes, salt *then* hash. Salting just makes the stored password change from "mypass" to "Z//GRmypass" etc. Hashing the salted password devalues everything but the most complete rainbow tables.

We'll pull the plug on info-leak smart meters, warns UK.gov

Ross 7

"As to the tellies, I expect to see, meters or not, "intelligent" tellies with a pre-programmed "life" which will lock down at a predefined moment, regardless if they're fucked or not"

You appear to have missed the memo - everything you buy is built with it's death in mind. They even teach engineering students a module on it here. They engineer items such that they are statistically likely to expire shortly after the warranty, but are very unlikely to expire within the warranty period. That goes for teles, washing machines, vacuum cleaners etc.

LinkedIn admits site hack, adds pinch of salt to passwords

Ross 7

Re: change it again unless you're sure the change now has added salt.

"Salting is entirely a back end operation and has nothing to do with you changing your password"

Ummm no. If they have your password stored as a hash then they can't salt it - they have no idea what it is. To salt it you need to add salt to the passphrase, hash it, then pre/append the salt to the hash (so they can use the right one for comparisons in the future).

Unless and until you change your pass it cannot be salted.

HULK DDoS-from-one-computer is easily thwarted, say security pros

Ross 7


"Barry Shteiman, the developer of the HULK python script..."

Someone tell me I wasn't the only one to have to check I hadn't misread the name (I had...)

Draft law lets council bods snoop your tax records

Ross 7

Re: And what about DCAs?

Councils don't use DCAs to enforce council tax payment - they can however use bailiffs who *do* have powers. It may be that should the warrant expire that the council throws the debt at a DCA (I don't know any that do, but there are a lot of councils), but you'd have to avoid the bailiffs for a year before that which seems like an awful lot of hassle for a long time.

My understanding is that bailiffs would likely be able to access the info as they are carrying out a legally prescribed activity that is directly related to the *collection* of council tax.

The matter of DCAs is a little more complex - if the debt is sold to the DCA as happens with private debts (mobile phone contracts etc) then no, they can't access the data as they are collecting their own private debt. If they are acting as an agent for the council then it's possible. Acting as an agent would require a proper contract for services though, involving the 'mare that is public sector procurement so it would be *very* unlikely.

Ross 7

Dear Lord

Dear Lord, that article has some *terrible* statements in it designed to make ppl think "oh noes my dataz are gonna be shared!!!11!!!" rather than actually deal with the facts. The worst bit is

"Also note that the word “relate” is unqualified, so “purposes relating to council tax” could easily extend to any council purpose that depends on the collection of council tax; in this way many council functions become arguably related to council tax."

The Bill doesn't say "purposes relating to council tax". It says "PRESCRIBED purposes relating to council tax". That's a HUGE ****ing difference. For those too lazy to read, "prescribed" is defined by the LGFA 1992 as being "prescribed by regulations made by the Secretary of State" so HMRC/councils can't just get the info as they please - it must be for reasons specified in (secondary) legislation.

The authors take on the meaning given to "relate" is almost equally as **** poor. I wouldn't mind so much if they were actually retarded, but clearly they are just stoking a fire. Where a term isn't explicitly defined in legislation there is a very clear method by which an objective meaning is determined. At the end of the day it will be the courts not HMRC, councils, or anyone else that determine the scope of "related", and it won't be terribly wide (the courts will give the narrowest interpretation they can to it, whilst maintaining the intention of Parliament).

It's good to report on changes to the law and how it could affect people, but please God try to get beyond the red banner at the top of the page when deciding what to write...

People-powered Olympic shopping mall: A sign of utter tech illiteracy

Ross 7

Re: Smart meters

Well done - you answered the question I told you not to ^^

Carbon credits are irrelevant - it's the distinct lack of things we can burn that's the issue. What are you going to use to make that CO2? Coal is getting even more expensive to come by (presuming you don't want the high sulphur **** that China is selling). Gas is inevitably going to go the same way - if we burn more and more of it at a time, the reserves don't last as long.

Energy is not unlimited - I know, we've all got used to treating it like it is, but some form of control over usage is inevitable. There are two ways it can go (even if we build more generators) - smart meters to phyiscally restrict usage at certain times, or the market route (charge a **** load more for it so ppl reduce their usage).

The gov don't want to be seen to be making your bills even higher than they are, so we'll have smart meters within 15 years. Sorry :(

Ross 7

Re: Smart meters

"The primary benefit of supplier-installed smart meters is selective remote disconnect capability, ready for when the rolling brownouts become necessary. Which for Joe Public is not a benefit at all."

Just out of interest, how do you think *not* being able to do controlled power reductions to specific properties will be better come the brown outs?

It would appear the smart meters give a measure of specificity - the power co's can choose particular properties, whereas at the moment they choose entire estates. Smart meters allow more ppl to have a little of a limited resource, as opposed to the current meters which allow a few people to suck all of the power from an 11Kv when it gets low, and everyone else gets nowt.

In other words, would you be happier (it;s all relative after all) if we lived on the same estate and smart meters meant we both had just enough 'leccy to keep the fridge/freezer going during a brown-out, or if I whacked everything on and your fridge-freezer didn't have the juice to keep going and you wasted a weeks worth of food?

Ofc most ppls answer will be "build more generators", but that ain't an option in this scenario -

A) controlled brown-outs; or

B) every man for himself?

How to keep your money safe if the euro implodes

Ross 7

Re: Making a drachma out of a crisis

There are two problems (well, there are a shed load more than two, but for these purposes let's stick with just the two) -

1. Someone has a boat load of money bet on the Euros demise. Unless the Eurozone countries want to get all aggressive (and slightly illegal) and start throwing a few trillion at the money markets to crush them this won't end until the Euro does.

2. The Greek debt is *relatively* small, but the problem is the amount doesn't really matter - the agreement is that anyone in the Euro has to stay within a fairly small band. I presume the idea is to make sure that one country doesn't become massively more popular a place to invest than any other due to the local circumstances. Greece just can't stay within tolerance.

It's very much a matter of the irresistable force meeting the immovable object . The people that want the Euro to fail have too much bet on it for it not to happen. The Eurozone countries can't afford for it to fail. One must inevitably give way though, and given that the Euro is more visible than its attackers and thus subject to more effective regulation I'd be surprised if the Euro managed to withstand the attack for longer than a year*.


* hopefully I got that msg across without it being actionable ;)

New smart meter tells Brits exactly what they already know

Ross 7

Re: Better budgetting method?

"Just try and draw more than 23kW and see what happens"

Your weed hot-house gets raided?...

Child support IT fail: Deadbeat mums 'n' dads off the hook

Ross 7

Re: why is this so hard

It's not hard - it is however a **** load of work. Work = time = money.

The clerical system will indeed be a kludge - Access is a possibility as you state. The first problem is they didn't import all the necessary info. It sounds suspiciously like the classic mistake of missing out entire tables (they likely went two table on the transfer - current state and history). As a result they don't know how much ppl owed when the transfer to the clerical system occurred.

To make matters worse they're hand entering details of payments that have been made and making a mess of it, so now they can't even be sure that the info on payments that they do have can be trusted! In other words, the info they have is of no value. They have to start from scratch.

The final nail in the coffin is the fact that the database doesn't sound anything like enterprise level, so corruptions of varying sorts have probably made records even more confusing.

Yet another case of badly specified software badly executed :(

Crooks sell skint fanbois potatoes instead of iPhones

Ross 7

"...asked if he wanted to buy two laptops for £1,400. He reckoned that was a good deal"

Really? Guess he shops in PC World.

Anyway, so the point of this story is there's two guys running around with massive amounts of hard cash on them, they're criminals, and you've given us a decent description of them? Anyone fancy joining me in a jaunt to Manchester?...

Facebook ups IPO shares to $38, edges towards $104bn value

Ross 7

Re: What do they need the funds for?

It's 6 (2+4). MZ and co get so many shares, they'll have to keep a good wadge of them for regulatory reasons, but given the inevitable jump when trading opens they can sell a sufficiently large number of shares to get some *real* cash and stick it in the (offshore) bank so that when the shares you're obliged to keep become rather less valuable you're still filthy rich.

Original? Of course not. But well tested :)

Fastest-ever hydrocarb scramjet hits Mach 8, doesn't explode

Ross 7

Future travel uses?

Really? I mean faster global travel would be nice for the (sadly) rare occasions I go on my hols, but I'm not convinced I'd enjoy the acceleration!

It definitely seems more like a military "thang". They might see some use from drones where speed is vital (Al Dave is spotted in his convoy headed into town - they want to make sure Al Dave doesn't get more than 100yds up the road before he is killed by "insurgents" to avoid press conferences...err... killing civies)

UK milk wastage = 20,000 cars = actually completely unimportant

Ross 7

"Just stop breathing for a moment, I am sure the respiration will continue as normal from there on. ;)"

1. You know when they do a lung transplant and the recipient doesn't die?

2. You know when someone ingests CN and they *do* die?

That's the difference. You can respire sans breathing. You can't do jack without respiring. It's an important distinction. If you're on bbc.co.uk you can probably get away with it. On a tech site like El Reg you can't really complain when the distinction is made :)

Ross 7

Ummm, *respiration* creates CO2, breathing is merely the physical process of shifting gases into and out of the lungs.

To be fair to the (uni) guy meat is more energy expensive than veg - you're doing energy conversion and so it's inevitable. I'm not saying don't eat meat. Far from it. We're built to take advantage of both meat and veg (altho two of my friends disagree on the veg part). There's nothing wrong with reducing meat intake - it tends to be a dietary improvement for many ppl in the UK.

The milk argument is a bit of a joke tho - as has been covered already it's a CAP problem. plain and simple. It's the same with all farming issues to be honest. If you punish ppl for overproduction they're going to bin the excess.

The only realistic solution I can think of (and it's not necessarily legitimate) is to process the excess milk on-site (things like butter, cheese etc). You're not selling *milk*, so hopefully you'd avoid the DEFRA hammer.

Solar quiet spell like the one now looming cooled climate in the past

Ross 7

@Loyal Commenter

LP isn't paid to promote anti-AGW sentiment, he's paid to sell ads. He's expected to do that by creating page impressions. Proof that ppl have read the stories and not just accidentally clicked on them etc makes those impressions even more valuable to ad brokers. You can do that by letting ppl post in reply to the story, ergo this bit of El Reg.

LP knows less about climate science than he does about aero mil tech, but his super has clearly cottoned on to the fact that his dribblings result in page impressions that can be backed up by forum rants, errrr posts, proving that lots of ppl read the story and see the ads. He is therefore instructed to post stories (not necessarily news ones ;) about climate science.

It keeps the El Reg marketing dept happy, ergo LPs super is happy, LP is in a job, and we get to vent and rage on the internet as is our God given right. Job's a good 'un.

Re: "...the War On Carbon". Surely nobody *really* believes it's about carbon? The Merkins (and by extension Blighty) can't exert enough control of the Middle East - they've tried, but it just ain't happening. They therefore need to convince ppl to move away from oil as much as is practical. Saying "ooh it's for your kids and the plants benefit" plays much better than "sorry, we tried to control the oil but we lost".

Yes, CO2 is a greenhouse gas, too much in the atmosphere and seas can have a rather bad effect (mainly on the ppl that already live in pretty inhospitable regions, so the politicians in the USA/UK aren't too fussed about that) but when some Arabs have your balls in a vice over oil you wanna do something about it. All we can do is reduce our reliance on oil, and not looking like a pussy doing it is more attractive.

How politicians could end droughts forever But they don't want to

Ross 7

Re: 15 desalination plants

Errr, Battersea is on the *river* not the estuary. Nowhere near salt water.

Smugglers Way is closer to Slough than the sea!

The T&L site on Factory Rd is a possibility, but given it's located very close to the Beckton plant it may just end up taking out more river water - the point of desalination is to leave the rivers well alone and use the sea.

So you've named one spot out of a required 15, and that one spot is pretty much next door to an existing plant. It's not easy is it, ergo my post. London is chock full of stuff already - finding places you can build desalination plants is very, very difficult, unless cost isn't a factor and you're happy to pipe stuff for miles. And then leakages become a significant factor, so instead of 15 plants we need 30, so at least double LPs fag packet maths total.

Ross 7

15 desalination plants

So 15 additional plants would give London all the water it could wish for? Fancy plotting those 15 locations on a map?...

Virgin Media cuts Pirate Bay access for millions of punters

Ross 7

Re: If your work isn't distributed who will know that your gigs are worth paying to attend?

Artists *can* self distribute as it stands, and many do. Or they can choose to sell their rights to a large distributor. It's their choice. You seem to want to take that choice from ppl.

Going your own way is great for ppl with smaller ambition - it's cheap! It also has its drawbacks. To stand out from the crowd you need to be *really* good. You also need to buy/rent gear to record with at studio quality, and you need decent production. Not everyone has the skills or money for that.

Going the contract route also has pros and cons, the money, simplicity and marketing force being the major pros, the limited control over your own work being the major con.

The "release dates" and "geolocation" arguments are the straw men - I mentioned it in the previous post. Once ppl have d/l'ed a song sans payment how many as a percentage then go on to buy it? If the d/ls are just there to fill the gap until you can buy it, surely *everyone* would buy it as soon as it got released officially in their market? So why is that not happening?

If you want to test it and see if it's worth it use a Spotify-esque resource. Ofc the "I'm seeing if I want to buy it" is also a straw man, as ppl won't pay for that service either as a rule for the simple reason there's little incentive when you can just d/l for free from TPB etc.

As above, if you wanna d/l from TPB et al then either admit your intransigence or petition Parliament for a change in the law if you truly believe it appropriate. Simples. Pretending you're doing the artists a favour and only hurting the big record companies only helps *you* feel better about it, not the artists.

Ross 7

Re: Or...

"The recording and publishing industries do creative work? That's news to me! I thought it was the artists, who studies show have been receiving more income since file sharing's been around."

Gotta comment on that one my friend. The artist creates the work, and then sells the rights to distribute it to the distributor. They then distribute it. If they cannot monetise the legal rights they *bought* from the artist, why would they continue to buy them? The artists will suffer more than the distributor. If your work isn't distributed who will know that your gigs are worth paying to attend?

"The recording/publishing industries are redundant, since they offer the service of copying which everyone can do now."

There are certainly other methods of distribution beyond what the existing large companies are very good at. Whether they are as effective or not at generating income for the artists is a different point though.

Just look at how much a new band raked in when on their own label, compared to what they get from signing to Parlophone etc.

It comes down to this - ppl want to d/l stuff without paying for it because they can. The risks are almost non-existant. They can convince themselves that nobody is being hurt ("I wasn't going to buy it anyway so nobody has lost out") and so it's fine in their opinion.

The "wasn't going to buy it anyway" argument isn't so great though. It overlooks the point that now you *won't* buy it, whereas you might have changed your mind if you hadn't d/l-ed it.

I'm also entirely unconvinced by the argument that copying is fine as the owner remains in possession of the item. It stems from a terribly misunderstanding of *what* is being "stolen". The distributor holds the exclusive *rights* and can resell non-exclusive rights. By d/l'ing an item and making a copy of it you infringe those rights, making them less valuable. Like counterfeiting cash for example. As at the top of this post, devalue the rights and the distributors won't pay as much for them. That hurts the artists.

If you want to d/l stuff then go for it - I don't judge ppl for that. Trying to make your actions seem legitimate is what riles me - it's the actions of a coward.

Study finds water cycle accelerating with warming

Ross 7

Re: Salinity provides a good proxy for both rainfall and evaporation,

"We end up with lots of interpretation based on very little direct evidence"

Welcome to experimental physics! I know it seems like "bad science" when scientists rely on proxies, primarily because it can be hard to understand why and how proxies are used, but all of the things we can "see" directly have been observed already, so the newer things we look at have to be viewed indirectly. Ergo proxies, whether that be new particle discoveries, galactic interactions, climate, or something else.

I find it odd that if ppl who have a political view on climate modelling/change read a story based on proxy measurements they decry them as inaccurate, but then "ooh" and "ahhh" over a new particle discovery which has been discovered by measuring proxies (not referring to the OP, just in general).

Salinity isn't a bad proxy btw - the salts have a tendancy to stay where they are, there's a finite amount of water in the water cycle which has a finite number of states, so measuring the salinity gives you a decent picture of where the water is at any given time.

Space-cadet Schwartz blows chunks out of Oracle's Java suit

Ross 7

A *proper* soap!

Really interesting story, and I like the reporting. So nothing like a soap opera really, but nicely done anyhoo.

I await further episodes (stupid slow court system...)

Gaia scientist Lovelock: 'I was wrong and alarmist on climate'

Ross 7


"Speaking to MSNBC, Lovelock admitted spicing up his books with headline-catching doomsday predictions"

"Shale gas fracking ruled safe, but must stop at drop of a hat"

0.5 on the Richter scale equates to approximately 350KJ. Force = mass x velocity => if you drop the hat from a height of 1m it will be travelling at 4.4ms-1 when it hits the deck. From that we can determine that either -

a) the hat has a mass of ~79700Kgs; or

b) the pot has cast aspertions as to the kettles colour.


Educating Rory: Are BBC reporters unteachable?

Ross 7

The the good, the bad and the ugly

"as truly humbled as Uriah Heep" +2 just for that

"Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when learn HTML coding for the first time" -1 for that tho - we see what you're trying to do, but it just didn't come off. Sorry. Needed a rhyme otherwise it kinda defeats the purpose.

As for Jonathan Hoggs "I'm incredibly disappointed in your article". I can see AOs face now. It looks like this -> -.-

I like that you reported on the issue, I didn;t like that you went for trolling page impressions to please your marketing masters rather than actually delve into the real issues. I personally reckon you have a competition going with Lewis Page-3-model-brains as to who can troll the most. I know you've gotta sell ads, but you can actually write when you can be chuffed. Do us a favour?....

Shale gas fracking ruled safe, but must stop at drop of a hat

Ross 7

Driving isn't done safely - surely that's obvious? The consequences are *relatively* minor tho. Unless you're in one of the vehicles invovled, or are the ped involved the consequences are minor.

The only example you give that's close to realistic in terms of *consequences* is flight. Guess what - improvements came *after* **** loads of ppl died. I'm not saying fracking will kill thousands (we start from a better technology level) but you can be sure it won't be without negative consequences.

As I said in my post, imagine the Elgin platform placed in the Home Counties. They had to evacuate not just that platform but others, and it's not like the North Sea is terribly densely populated. The issue isn;t just that they may say "throw safety to the wind" and blow shizzle up, but that when they have to take safety measures when something goes wrong it screws things up for an awful lot of people.

I personally think Essex would likely improve somewhat if you took the ppl out of it, but I don't imagine either the ppl of Essex, or the places they move them to would be as happy about the situation.

"Let's find out how big that if is, then. And the benefits. CBA"

It's often hard to judge "tone" in text, but it comes across fairly similarly to the City boys circa 2006. They pushed to see if the benefits outweighed the risks. Apparently they didn't.

Like I said - fracking is fine *if* done safely. To that end it needs regulation, and lots of it. Like air travel in fact.

Ross 7

I'm not sure who's the bigger/more successful troll, LP or AO :) Anyway...

"That’s good news for the gas industry, and the UK economy, which like the US could enjoy a manufacturing revival powered by cheap energy."

Please God stop spouting that crap. Cheap energy will not be a result. We could find 4 trillion metric tonnes of gas sitting in a container ready to be plugged into the grid and we *still* wouldn't have cheap energy. Energy ain't expensive because it's hard to come by, but because it can be. Until there's a carrot or stick that's more effective than share price related director bonuses when it comes to controlling prices energy will remain expensive.

Fracking is fine if they do it safely, but it;s a fairly big if. Take the rig blow out from a few months back in the North Sea - took weeks to get the thing to stop burning gas. Now imagine that was in the Home Counties rather than the North Sea :) You can see why the NIMBIES would be out in force.

The problem seems to be that the potential costs of a frack-up aren't directly borne by the energy companies. If we get a leak somewhere in a drill casing/pipeline and get undesirables in the water supply the water companies have to filter it out. Then they spend a lot of money on lawyers trying to get the money from the energy company that caused the problem. Then both companies add their lawyers fees to your water and energy bills.

It just seems a tad too risky in a pokey place like Blighty. We have enough trouble getting sufficient water to southerners as it is (not that I'd be too upset to see them use their own darned rain). If we end up with less useable/more expensive water for more same-priced gas it doesn't really seem to benefit anyone but the directors/share holders.

Biologists create synthetic DNA capable of EVOLUTION

Ross 7

I like your reporting, altho I found "Synthetic DNA and RNA has been shown to be capable of evolving in the lab, carrying hereditary traits with it" a bit weird.

The clever bit is that they've made enzymes that will work with the new forms of xNA. You can make a variety of NA sequnces on different sugar backbones, and they'll carry info, but it's getting the "machinery" to read and write it that's impressive (and vital).

Molecular biology is sooo interesting - glad you're reporting on it. It's amazing how closely it relates to computing! It's also at a scale ppl can comprehend. Physics is great, but in the end it comes down to measuring EM diffraction and doing enough stats to show that your errors are smaller than the measurements you took. Clever, but not terribly exciting. Plugging new plasmids into bacteria etc is something you could *almost* do at home with a big enough budget!

Now, where did I leave those world domination plans....

Nvidia: phone GPUs to outplay current consoles by 2014

Ross 7


That's a *terrible* graph. First of all it's logarithmic, and so the general pop will look at it and think PC/console GPUs are gaining less power with each iteration. Secondly, the trend lines are clearly plotted by the marketing dept.

Phone GPUs have jumped a lot since their introduction, purely because the tech was already there. However, whereas I can throw a 900W PSU in a PC (it is ridiculous how much power you need these days...) I'm fairly sure you're going to struggle with

1. battery life; and

2. heat

trying to run more powerful GPUs on phones. At least I hope that's the case - I don't look forward to carrying a battery with that kind of oomph in my pocket...

Yes, phone graphics are really impressive right now, but no, we won't be seeing Frostbite 3 on them.

Compulsory coding in schools: The new Nerd Tourism

Ross 7

Re: I disagree with the article...

You've hit both nails on the head - why learning programming skills is such a benefit to students, and why they'll never be taught programming skills.

"learning to code is more about learning to think. Learning to be logical and precise. Learning to ask awkward questions, test theories, push boundaries" That helps students in their other subjects, and in their lives in general. If "engage brain" is step #1 in everything they do as a result of their training in programming skills the world just got an awful lot better.

However - "Unlike many subjects at GCSE and A-level, you don't do well in programming by memorising answers - you do it by being able to think in a specific way". That's 100% true, but it also makes examining the subject impossible. By which I mean you need skilled examiners to mark the papers, which is expensive. All the exam boards are preferring multiple choice, single word/phrase answers etc, as they can pay minimum wage to monkeys to mark them.

I personally think that teaching programming *skills* to kids would be hugely beneficial, and not only to the IT sector. I just don't see it ever being done properly :(

Google faces WHOPPING FTC fine for Safari privacy gaffe

Ross 7

Who did they annoy?

So, did they fail to provide Obamas administration with certain info when requested, or are they stepping on the toes of someone in the administration? Paranoid? Moi?...

We're clearly just doing what the Merkins tell us to do in putting some "pressure" on them on the east side of the pond, but why the pressure from the west side?

Disappearing bees mystery: Boffins finger regicide pesticides

Ross 7

Re: Non-toxic pesticides

She missed out the "to people" bit :) And the word "mostly".

It's still toxic to people, just not very. It's a really effective neurotoxin against insects though. That's why the "Scientists are also in two minds about the potential harm of neonicotinoids, with some claiming that the actual doses used in the wild aren't enough to do any bee-related damage" quote is a tad silly.

Doesn't take much to kill indirectly. Add in the fact it's a very stable chemical and will hang around in the soil, water, plant cells etc and you can see how a bee could get overexposed over a stretch of time.

Money mules are REAL victims of phishing, says Microsoft iconoclast

Ross 7

Wide of the mark?

"Herley has become noted in security circles by questioning many aspects of conventional wisdom about information security. ... This time however his provocative thinking seems to have strayed a little wide of the mark"

Really? He's bang on the money wrt the mules being the ones that suffer most (the ppl that the money was originally stolen from will get it back eventually - there's a lot of pain, but it will heal). The mules hand over the cash, then get that amount deducted from their account *again* by the bank. That ain't coming back.

You're confusing "victim" with "someone I should feel sorry for". They're like a Venn diagram - there's some overlap, but not every victim is someone you feel sorry for, and vice versa.

It's a pretty similar scam to the 419 scam. The only difference is that someone else (the cash originator) gets temporarily screwed too. In the end the mark is the mule though. (S)He's the one handing over cash for nowt.

Sitting down all day is killing you

Ross 7

Re: You can see the truth of this in old peoples' homes

""You're numbers" certainly is not correct!"

Wait, what?! The Matrix *isn't* true?...

Medieval warming was global – new science contradicts IPCC

Ross 7

Dear Lord - get over the "oh 0.04 is a small number innit?" idea

"If it was worldwide in extent that would strongly suggest that global warming may just be something that happens from time to time, not something caused by miniscule concentrations of CO2 (the atmosphere is 0.04 per cent CO2 right now; this figure might climb to 0.07 per cent in the medium term)."

"Miniscule concentrations" don't mean small amounts - you really seem to struggle with this concept. The earths atmosphere had a mean mass of 5.1441 x 10^18 kg in the early '90s *. 0.04% of that (i.e. the mass of the CO2) is 2.0576 x 10^15 kg (or about 2 trillion metric tonnes).

Whilst 0.04% and 0.07% are both small ratios, an extra ~1.75 trillion tonnes extra is a pretty large quantity. So, in your next headline, instead of quoting 0.04% use the 2 trillion tonnes figure - doesn't have the effect you want though does it?...

Add in the fact that the extra CO2 created by our activity won't necessarily be spread uniformly throughout the atmosphere and you can see how increased CO2 could affect climate in specific regions (the mean across the planet may be 0.07%, however the problem with using a mean is that not every point is at it. 1,1,1,97 gives a mean of 25 for example). Notably increased greenhouse effects at a particular geographic location will knock on to adjoining areas (the added heat will change water content and pressure of the air changing convection currents etc).

You can harp on about how tiny a number 0.04 or 0.07 is, but you seem to lack any concept of what that equates to in real terms, or what a mean is and more importantly what it isn't.


* http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/1994/94JD02043.shtml

Blighty's 'leccy power plant reform deals gas a winning hand

Ross 7

Re: Shame about coal

> What exactly caused the end of life for the coal power stations?


Coal is really expensive right now, and the price has been rising for a long time. Add on the requirement to add carbon capture to the stacks and there's more cost.

Coal fired stations are also physically limited on their thermal efficiency. All generators are, but coals limit is low. You generally aim for 25%, if you can hit 30% you're doing really well. That means at least 70% of the energy from the coal you burn doesn't go to the grid, it goes out the stack/cooling tower/into the river. When you're paying a lot for fuel, that hurts.

You also need to run desulphuring at some stage (either on the raw fuel, or on the spent exhaust gases). Both cost money and can reduce thermal efficiency. All the cheap coal is high sulphur, so you've got more expense in either needing to do more processing on the cheap fuel, or spending more on buying low sulphur fuel.

If you live in China/India and don't really care about CO2/SOx emissions then coal is awesomes. Here in Blighty it's getting too expensive.

Finally, the capital costs are so much lower with gas as the generators are much smaller. That means you can build them as you have the money to do so, whereas coal stations are beasts and you need a lot of money in one lump to build them. Same issue for nuclear to be fair. Big up front costs.

Ross 7

Re: Shame about coal

If you can hit 30%+ with a coal station you're doing ridiculously well. Gas is a lot better in that regard. Even dropping to 37-40% you're still doing much better than coal.

Agree about the coal heaps - always nice to know you can run for a month or so without new fuel deliveries. There were costs with them though - you need to run the euclids over them all day, everyday otherwise they have an unfortunate tendency to spontaneously ignite.

Coal just got too darned expensive though, even without carbon capture on the stacks. There's less of it left in the UK, and what coal is left is harder to get a hold of and thus more expensive. Plus the NUM et al made the government look at how secure coal really is (why do you think we had the massive coal heaps :)

The best solution is a mixture - gas is unbeatable for surge demand, but the generators are piddling little things. Some aren't even 1MW stations. Your more laggy generators like coal, nuclear are good for base loading. If you can get "free" power from the tides etc then that's great - saves having to burn as much other fuel.

Phone-hack cops nab six 'including Prime Ministerial horse lender'

Ross 7

Re: hyperbole

Is that like the Super Bowl with more adverts?

Punters are the real losers in BT, TalkTalk copyright court blow

Ross 7

Re: Optional

"Alleged" - it just means that there is a belief, based on the evidence available at that time that a person has committed an offence. It doesn't state that they are guilty. That's why we have courts, tribunals etc. You can't have a decision made by a court without an allegation being brought to their attention. At that point the court will determine if the allegation is proven or not, to the appropriate standard of proof.

Don't fall into the trap set by the tabloids. They use the word "alleged" to get ppl to think "he's guilty" without getting sued for liable.

Ross 7

Re: The problem

"despite empirical evidence (pronounced "Sky") that people cheerfully pay for content if it's convenient and good value"

:) Most ppl will generally wander towards the 'right' way of doing things if it's easy and reasonable. When it becomes more bothersome, or just too darned expensive then yes, ppl will look for alternatives.

"The best way to encourage industries to innovate is to reward them with your cash."

No truer word said. It does however tie in with the above para - there is a delicate balance between what ppl will pay, and what needs to be paid to keep promoting new developments. The reward sought must be realistic considering a variety of factors.

"This is why the Free crowd have made themselves irrelevant to the debate, they have removed their economic vote."

Whilst I agree with the sentiment entirely, you do have a way of expressing things in a way that tends to wind some ppl up :)

I would add that the 'Free' crowd seem to have distorted what is meant by 'free' in that context. They d/l a Linux distro for free (i.e. sans payment) and think that's what the FSF folk are talking about when they mention free software. It's as much the fault of FSF and the English language (they really ought to have realised that using free in that context would confuse *many* ppl) but it doesn't detract from the fact that 'free' means to those ppl that you don't pay.

Get FSF/GNU et al to change their terminology and you immediately solve the problem of the ppl that for one reason or another don't understand that 'free' means a number of things, and they've got hold of the wrong end of the stick (or are communists, but that's a whole other story...)

PS - FRAND is not applicable. That;s there to maintain/foster 'open' standards. The DVD format should be licensed on FRAND terms, the pretty pictures it makes should not. You pay for what it's worth (pretty subjective), whereas the value of the DVD format can be considered fairly objectively.

Stolen iPad leads to 780lb crystal meth seizure

Ross 7

Re: theerty feeve meellion

"So if a silo full of grain burns up or rots away or something, then that must be written off at a retail loss of croissants?"

Uhm. Last I checked, croissants != grain (you need additional ingrediants). That's a terrible analogy.

The $35mil figure isn't misleading in anyway - it may not be what the owners of the meth would have received for it, but it's hardly uncommon for there to be such a discrepancy.

What an item is worth and what you choose to sell it for often aren't related. For example, if I steal a 65" Sony Bravia, brand new, boxed, and sell it out the back of the Dog and Duck will I get RRP* for it?

These guys had $35m worth of meth, but selling it at that price involves more overheads, and more importantly more exposure. They therefore sell it wholesale for less. It doesn't make the article any less accurate than saying "Ross 7 stole £4k worth of tele" even though I couldn't hope to get that from the sale of it. To put it another way, if I got nicked and pleaded to the wig "But I only got £100 for it your honour" do you think I'll get done for nicking £4k worth of tele, or £100?...


*yes , I know....

Child abuse suspect won't be forced to decrypt hard drive

Ross 7

Someone gets it!

Read Paul Crawfords post - he gets it.

Whilst both a combination and a key both serve the same purpose (they get you into the vault) they are very different things in law. One is a phyiscal object, the other is something you know. Compelling a person to provide a physcal object is fine - the object itself is incontravertible.

Compelling a person to provide something they know is another matter entirely. That information is not necessarily incontraventible (an enc key may be, but what about "Yes your honour, I was alone outside her house that night like the big copper says"?) If you allow compulsion to provide enctyption keys where do we draw the line? What else can we compell ppl to tell us? And how do we do it? Threat of prison? A rubber hose filled with sand? You can see how slippery that slope is, and the courts won't go there - they do not want to be party to the possibility of torture etc.

The decision was the right one. It may not be the perfect one, but it's the right one.

Melting Arctic leads to snowy winters

Ross 7

Re: Observations

"It is always convenient when observations happen after the fact"

Unless you're working on OPERA...


Ross 7

Re: Ever heard of the Masai?

Evolution is not *just* a product of temperature, but many things. The basic rule is that cold temp = low surface area : volume ratio. Think polar bears, whales etc. Penguins attain the same feat by behaviourl means (huddling) - the group has a small surface area compared to its volume. On the other hand we get things like meercats, hamsters, gerbils etc that are desert creatures which are tiny little things.

The large African animals referred to like elephants, hippos, lions etc don't live in the desert. They live on the plains where it is rather cooler. They also have various mechanisms that help them deal with the heat, which are either things that increase their surface area : volume ratio (huge ears for example) or are behavioural (like sitting in water, spraying themselves with water etc). The reason they are larger are the other benefits of size such as the ability to avoid predation (kinda hard to bring down a bull elephant with just your teeth).

The Masai still have a pretty high ratio due to them being very slim. Therefore their height alone is irrelevant for this purpose - it's their height *and* their build we need to consider.

Furthermore tallness granted them the ability to see danger from a greater distance. Therefore, the tall fat ppl and the short ppl didn’t get to pass on their genes. On the other hand the tall skinny folk were more active, having a higher surface area : volume ratio and could see things from afar much more easily being able to see over the grass.

If there weren't so much tall grass the Masai would be short, but there are other factors than just temp that affect the likelihood of being able to pass on your genes. Compare with the tiny ppl from SE Asia, esp the islands. There’s no real benefit to being tall if you live in the jungle - the trees will always be taller than you. Therefore heat becomes a larger factor and you get 'ickle ppl.

Court claim slapped on bloke via Facebook in landmark case

Ross 7

Re: How many ways can this get challenged?

You don't get it do you? It's understandable to be fair - the majority here don't either. The doc is now deemed to be served and so can be acted upon by the court. That may mean a warrant of execution or similar instrument being granted, by which they physically take property from him and sell it (presuming it's not already liquid).

His only defence is to go to the court and say "it wasn't served" for one of the reasons you've given. But by doing so he identifies himself and his address, so he gets served!

The whole point is the guy is evidently trying to evade the jurisdiction of the court by avoiding service. The court certainly thinks so which is why they allowed service via Facebook in these exceptional circumstances. Basically he screwed himself.

MP allegedly cuffed after scrap in Commons bar

Ross 7

"alleged that Joyce, 51, head-butted a Conservative MP..." -.-

" ...and punched a Labour member..." -.-

"...and that drinks were spilled" O.o


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