* Posts by Daedalus

476 posts • joined 15 Oct 2009

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Murdoch's Fox empire is set to become a literal Mickey Mouse outfit

Daedalus
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Git while the gittin's good?

I think Murdoch is seeing the end times for mass market entertainment and has decided to cash in his chips while they're still worth something.

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UK lacks engineering and tech skillz to make government's industrial strategy work – report

Daedalus
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Re: The liberal myth

I still haven't figured out how you get from Dickens to, say, Herman Wouk, to novelists writing about being a writer, to writers writing about being a writer writing about writing......

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Daedalus
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The liberal myth

Far from being well-rounded individuals, most liberal-studies people I have known have been pathetic little diggers of tiny holes, forever subdividing the world so that there is some little piece they can claim for their own. The people I have known who have the largest view of the world, who have broad knowledge of things and appreciation of all arts, have been PhD level physicists and astronomers.

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Berners-Lee, Woz, Cerf: Cancel flawed net neutrality vote

Daedalus
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What Internet?

As one of your columnists has pointed out, the "Internet" based on ARPANet is nothing but a fond memory, at best a network of dusty untraveled roads superseded by superhighways. When you communicate via your ISP, you are probably connecting from that ISP to a next-level ISP that hands it to a backbone provider from where your communication steps down levels to its destination. Exactly, in fact, like making an international phone call.

Needless to say, except at the two ends these ISP's are going to be big companies, and indeed quasi-monopolies. You can argue that the law should not allow them to discriminate on content, as phone companies are not allowed to do, though they do price their services selectively. What you can't do is claim that they're controlling or throttling something that doesn't actually exist.

And behind this, you have to realize that your precious ICQ, HTML or whatever, is sharing all those connections with a lot of content streaming that is overwhelming a network originally conceived for discrete, discontinuous communication. Yes the FCC are a bunch of ignorant artsies. But the EFF is not exactly singing the right song either.

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Prison hacker who tried to free friend now likely to join him inside

Daedalus
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It's a Federal case

"ensuring that he may well be joining his mate in the Big House"

Nope. Hacking gets the Feds involved. His friend was a guest of the local yokels, so Voits will be headed to wherever there is space in Club Fed. Could be far away indeed, and perhaps hotter than he is used to.

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Report: Underwater net cables are prime targets for terrorists and Russia

Daedalus
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The operations against Japanese cables were very successful, it turns out. They occurred during the later stages of the war, and not the fall of Singapore.

And here's the critical bit: they were inshore operations operating with extreme stealth, and couldn't just rely on dragging a grapple to cut the cables.

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Re: Ar**

If you think you can guide thousands of metres of cable to just the right point on the seabed, you're welcome to try.

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Daedalus
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Re: Ar**

Try equipping yourself with some facts before firing in all directions.

The vulnerable stretch will be at depths less than 300 metres. Only the best subs can survive deeper than that, and then they only get to about 750 metres. Therefore the parts of the cables most accessible to hostile forces are on the continental shelves, where naval patrols can operate. Underwater research vehicles can of course go very deep indeed, but are limited by what they can do. Theoretically a Ballard type submersible could plant explosives at extreme depth, but there's the surface ship to consider. When you are taking hostile actions, you want to be fast, cheap, and quiet. That's hard to do when working at extremes.

The best defence will be multiple redundant cables. Now that's what they call a hard sell.

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UK government bans all Russian anti-virus software from Secret-rated systems

Daedalus
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TEMPEST in a teacup (with biscuits)

I started to wonder what systems rated "SECRET and above" would be doing on the Internet anyway, but then I remembered that in GovUKSpeak, everything is "SECRET and above", even the caretaker's taste in biccies.

This is the same GovUK that once mandated TEMPEST shielding on everything above the level of a box of matches to suppress RF snooping.

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Expert gives Congress solution to vote machine cyber-security fears: Keep a paper backup

Daedalus
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Re: NY is ahead behind ahead behind

Yes, it's amazing how certain rooms in the building become crowded around 9 a.m.

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Daedalus
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Re: NY is ahead behind ahead behind

They were indeed old and required upkeep and storage etc. OTOH the new scanners will be obsolete by the time I finish typing this. Maybe the next generation will be configured to fit into the same scheme, accepting the same forms and producing the same data. OK, you can stop laughing. Of course the makers of the current generation of voting equipment will have the States over a barrel because the scanners will fail, the software will no longer be supported, the machines on which the software runs will cease to be available, and nobody even understands the current version, let alone any future ones.

The old machines were decades old, the people who knew how to service them were retiring (or dying) in droves, but for all that they worked. We are now probably locked into a 10-year, and possibly even a 5-year, turnover cycle where the system will have to be reworked over and over with all the pitfalls for security and integrity implied by that.

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Daedalus
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NY is ahead behind ahead behind

The English speaking world outside the USA may be interested to know that until the last decade or so, in NY and many other states, paperless voting was the norm. This was due to those famous voting machines that made it so easy to vote the "straight party ticket". Without going into too much detail, you set various small levers set against a table of candidates on the front of the machine, then pulled a big lever in front of you crosswise. This simultaneously added your votes to the various internal counters, cleared the levers you had set, and opened the curtain that concealed your actions. For the parties there were special levers that set the votes for all their candidates at once.

After that the election functionaries would read off and report in the various counts, presumably handwritten, and the results would famously be announced in a short time that left staid old British electioneers scratching their heads that such things were possible. How could America call the race for President faster than Billericay could announce its famous first result? Well there was a lot less counting and adding to be done, for one thing. On the other hand, it was putting a lot of trust in local election officials and the people they reported to.

Paper trail? What paper trail?

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PayPal paid $US233m for company that leaked 1.6 million records

Daedalus
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There isn't one!

Years ago somebody coined the acronym TIO:There Isn't One! to describe the UI of a simple quiz app (it just had an LED that came on if the answer was right).

Looks like these guys had a TIO firewall/security app.

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Microsoft to rebuild Redmond campus, including cricket pitch

Daedalus
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You think the cricket pitch is weird?

There are two baseball - well, probably softball - infields with no outfield to speak of, unless you count the tennis courts across the path from the right hand infield. So keep that ball down, guys.

The "brown" cricket track is probably an all-weather surface of some kind. That's pretty common for dedicated cricket grounds here in the USA. We have one locally that was mandated by the person who donated the parkland to the city. Apparently he/she loved cricket. It's a big area with baseball diamonds at the corners and the cricket track in the middle. Well, the local West Indian population loves it.

Mine's a Red Stripe, mon.

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Scotland, now is your time… to launch Brexit Britain into SPAAAACE!

Daedalus
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Re: Prestwick??

Polar orbits are for Earth survey satellites and military stuff. To go anywhere else you want to start as close to the equator as possible.

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Don't shame idiots about their idiotically weak passwords

Daedalus
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Re: haxxor your system

That works as long as they don't catch the boss out - and they always do.

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Tom Baker returns to finish shelved Doctor Who episodes penned by Douglas Adams

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Re: Tom Baker will always be the Doctor

Not only that, he does a bang-up job of reading the credits for "Dead Ringers"**

** Humour.

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Daedalus
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Not unprecedented

Very much off topic, but in 2005 when the Beeb went all completist and decided to finish all the Lord Peter Wimsey canon for Radio 4, they dug up Ian Carmichael to voice him for the non-murderous "Gaudy Night" (dark doings in Oxford women's college - oooh!). He sounded very different from his Woosterish early recordings, of course. On the evidence of his cameo in "The Day of the Doctor", Tom Baker (may he live forever) should sound as good as he used to.

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Unreal, man: Amazon pitches new 3D VR kit at dev newbies

Daedalus
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No experience necessary?

I love it when the tech companies release something that is "easy" to a population that can't even figure out how to click on a big green button with the text "Click Me" on it.

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Nathan Barley blamed for global GDP slump

Daedalus
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Re: tom jones

That's basically my take on the "collaboration" faddishness: it's just 99 collaborators and one real worker. We had one client in love with Kanban but for what they produced that was any good, they might as well have spent their time singing Kumbaya.

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Amazon Key door-entry flaw: No easy fix to stop rogue couriers burgling your place unseen

Daedalus
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Oops

This was a face-plant from the git-go.

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'It's back to the drawing board...' Innocent axions found not guilty of dark matter crimes

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It's worse than it looks

Axions were proposed as a way of fixing a problem with the theory of the strong nuclear force. Since the strong force holds everything together, proving that axions don't exist might mean that suddenly all matter will cease to

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US trade cops agree to investigate Apple's 'embrace and extend'

Daedalus
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Re: Golden rule

Based on the nature of the lawsuit, it's more a case of "how much do we have to pay so we can import our products?". There's an element of extortion: fight it and deal with the impact on sales, or pay up and all will go swimmingly.

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Daedalus
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Golden rule

Big companies like partnering with little companies, because if the little company makes money, that's fine. And if the little company goes belly up, that's fine too.

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Now Oracle stiffs its own sales reps to pocket their overtime, allegedly

Daedalus
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I'm no salesist but...

We all hate sales droids, but without them there are no sales. And I am constantly surprised to see companies mistreat their sales people to the point where they should quit and go work somewhere else. Some companies here in the U$A have been sunk because they caused panic in the salesforce who took themselves and their highly adaptable skills elsewhere, killing the revenue stream that keeps the manglers mangling.

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Apple succeeds in failing wearables

Daedalus
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Re: Le monde a l'envers

Sorry old chap, I've looked all over and not found a single Weatherspoons here in U$A. However I can testify as to the shaggy soggy sagginess of the People of Walmart.

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Daedalus
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Le monde a l'envers

Funny, over in PC land they're desperately trying to eke out more sales by fashionizing their laptops, while here in wearable land, where you'd think that going for haute couture over high performance would be the key to selling hordes of the things to gullible consumers, they're still producing clunky bits of tat and worrying about functionality. This is the market where the right name on a pair of sneakers will double the price, where close fitting thin yoga pants are required wear no matter the weather. All they need is a sleek wearable with nice colours and a designer brand name. How difficult can that be?

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WikiLeaks is wiki-leaked. And it's still not even a proper wiki anyway

Daedalus
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Unintended consequences

I'm sure the Ecuadorians never intended their embassy to be used as a platform for politicking. Or if they did, I'm sure that's kinda outside the parameters of the typical embassy.

In other words, Jools may be out on his ear shortly.

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Shiver me timbers! 67cm Playmobil pirate ship sets sail for Caribbean

Daedalus
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They should have put it in a bottle.

As a sailing ship this is a non-starter, although it's interesting that they didn't put a full load of sail on it. Scaling rules tell you that a proper scale model will carry far more sail area than is correct for the weight. You have to add ballast to stop the boat toppling over in the wind, or cut the sail area, or both.

But they're also up against hull speed. That's less than one boat length per second at this size, so progress will be slow to say the least. If the vessel gets anywhere, it'll be because the ocean current carries it there.

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Your next laptop will feature 'CMF' technology

Daedalus
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Death spiral double down

Companies on the verge of extinction follow the same pattern. Do the wrong thing for years, and when you get into trouble, double down on what you're already doing while talking it up as if it's something new.

We've all noticed that laptops in stores are engineered to look slick and shiny first, work well second. Now that the drones have switched their love to iThings and DroidThings, the PC people have decided that it's the looks that really matter. Well, to the extent that the drones go for style over substance, they're correct. But style is the differentiator between phablets, not between laptops and phablets.

It's just a pity that Lenovo are drinking the Kool Aid too. They were the last bastion of decent engineering.

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Computing in schools improved, but still needs major patching – report

Daedalus
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Re: Why learn computing...

No need to teach psychopathy. It's in the BIOS of at least half the population. It just lies dormant most of the time.

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Daedalus
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Re: Same old same old

Regarding the kids in the Spitfire construction, you're confusing the part of the show with the full-size model construction with the part where the class of kids tried assembling a model of a sailing ship. The kids with the sailing ship model didn't look much older than 12.

A lot of the argument for exposing kids to this or that comes down to "it worked for me" or "it worked for these kids". In the second case I would suggest that the "kids" were already a select bunch, and as for the "me's", that's self selection at its most obvious. It's right up there with journalists touting the worth of English degrees, or politicians the worth of PPE. People who don't do well in these areas are too busy surviving (which may include paying off debts incurred for qualifications they never got) to say exactly what it was worth to them, if anything.

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Daedalus
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Re: Same old same old

It's true, very few children will turn out to be amazing successes in writing, math, or sciences. And I do think that beyond a certain point of basic competence, teaching these subjects is a waste of time for most kids. You need to know how to write in a way that people will understand (I note in passing that mass teaching of English is currently doing a bang-up job of this</irony>) but not necessarily how to write novels. Likewise you need to understand numbers but not necessarily homogeneous simultaneous equations. It's better to know where milk comes from than why it's white. How many kids get tours of a real dairy these days, or a farm, versus how many have to learn the names of the parts of a flower?

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Daedalus
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Same old same old

The course should be "How to operate an ATM", "How to operate a smartphone", "How to check things are plugged in", and "How to turn it off and on again". Oh and how to talk to tech support.

Seriously do these talking heads have any idea how difficult real software production is? Why put 100% of kids through something that purports to be "computer science", when maybe 2% will have both ability and interest? This always reminds me of James May's Toy Story programs, especially the one with the life size "model" of a Spitfire a la Airfix. Trying out a model kit on a random class of pre-teens, he got some who couldn't handle it, some who could but didn't care to (sitting around talking was preferred), some who could do it and sort of liked it, and one young man who was even more into it than May himself. That division is pretty much what you can expect from mass computer science education.

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Jet packs are REAL – and inventor just broke world speed record in it

Daedalus
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Re: Duration?

Re: Martin Jet Pack

30 min endurance is not too shabby, I suppose. It gives you a chance of getting from where it's kept to where it's needed with enough reserve to do something useful. You could shlep it around on a truck but how are you going to know in advance where it's going to be needed vs. the usual ladders, cranes etc? The ducted fan design gives you the ability to operate in confined spaces where helicopters can't, but as a propulsion system it's intrinsically less efficient than a standard rotorcraft. Basically the slower the airflow you send down, the less power you need for a given amount of thrust. Power required scales linearly with downdraft speed at the same thrust. These smaller VTOL designs trade endurance for usefulness in special situations. Successful (read lucrative) designs operate well in general situations.

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Daedalus
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Re: Bond is back!

Long flight? In his case it's down to the chippy and back.

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Daedalus
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Dense ideas

So it's energy density you'll be lookin' for, is it? Well, and isn't jet fuel one of the most energy dense fuels we've got already now? Unless you'll be thinkin' about hydrogen compressed to 700 bar, but that's only three and a bit times better. After that it's all nuclear me boy.

Mine's a Guinness.

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Daedalus
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Bond is back!

Well, that was the tag line for the second Bond movie. But this guy should take some pointers from the original jet pack. Instead of putting the control thrusters on his arm, in imitation of Iron Man, he should have all the jets on his back and vector some thrust up above his shoulders via pipes and then down to provide steering. Right now he's taking a lot of stress on his arms which makes long flights a problem. The Bond pack had some intrinsic stability because the centre of thrust was so much higher than the center of gravity of the pilot.

Now, if he could add some support gear for the pack to reduce stress on his body when he lands, maybe some wings to add lift, possibly a seat and some kind of canopy, it would be a better jet pack. Or maybe you could call it an aeroplane.

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User asked help desk to debug a Post-it Note that survived a reboot

Daedalus
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Re: PBKAC

My first Open University course "PM951 Computers & Computing" in 1977. I was living in a remote village in Sutherland and submitted all my handwritten programs (OU Basic!) to the OU via snail mail (the alternative was to book a session on an unreliable 75 baud link at Thurso tech college, a 2 hour drive away).

You think you had problems. I started a fellowship in '77 at the OU, on site in Milton Keynes, and the "computer centre", such as it was, was located in makeshift huts (the infamous "temporary until we get things built") stuck at the back of the campus. Can't let the visiting VIPs see that the work gets done in shacks... If we wanted to do real computing we had to log in to Cambridge or Oxford, I forget which.

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Uni staffer's health info blabbed in email list snafu

Daedalus
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Re: How has no one fixed this

The best way to get something past TPTB is to present it via an animated paper clip.

"Hello! You appear to be trying to wire money to a Prince in Nigeria. Can I help you with that?"

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This could be our favorite gadget of 2017: A portable projector

Daedalus
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Looks like Lady Penelope's makeup case

Bearing in mind that said case typically contained a comm center and a small tactical nuclear weapon (I'm not kidding, she fired an atomic shell from a lipstick in the TV 21 comic strip).

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Facebook's send-us-your-nudes service is coming to UK, America

Daedalus
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Facepalm

Deja vu

Reminds me of the time a museum - it might have been the Kensington Science Museum itself - set up an exhibit where people could type messages into a computer and have them displayed. Very new fangled stuff in those distant days. Somebody decided to compile a list of NSFW words so the computer could spot them and blank them out on the display. Then some bright spark - who is probably a tech billionaire by now - found the file and displayed its contents for all to see.

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$10,000-a-dram whisky 'wasn't even a malt'

Daedalus
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Re: Carbon dating ?

That's approx what I remember. But given the half-life is 5k years it would be pretty inaccurate for measuring in the ~100 year scale. Very useful for dating early humans and their artifacts.

That was my first thought. Something along the lines of : they figured it couldn't be 1878 because of the lack of decay. However it turns out that with extremely accurate mass spectrometry that is available nowadays, you can date even recent objects to a year or two of accuracy. Basically they can count atoms now, instead of measuring the level of C-14 radioactivity.

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Daedalus
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Boffin

Re: Carbon dating ?

Wow. I thought techies knew a little science, but no.

OK, Carbon-14 is produced continuously by cosmic rays hitting nitrogen in the upper atmosphere. It mixes quickly with the rest of the carbon and gets absorbed into plants. Its half-life is over 5000 years. Once the plant dies, the carbon in the plant matter no longer exchanges with atmospheric carbon so the natural decay process starts reducing the C-14/C-12 ratio. You can measure the ratio by various means. The whole system is calibrated against samples of wood etc. of known age, and yes, nuclear weapon testing did have an effect, but it is allowed for.

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Official Secrets Act alert went off after embassy hired local tech support

Daedalus
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Re: Curious...

On the robustness of USB drives....

Look into the plug part of the thumb drive. See the plastic tab with the contacts on it? There's a pretty good chance that you are looking at the chip package itself. All the rest is just for show. Yeah, the chip will survive.

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OpenSSL patches, Apple bug fixes, Hilton's $700k hack bill, Kim Dotcom raid settlement, Signal desktop app, and more

Daedalus
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The Azure Edge of Chrome

Anybody who tries to do a presentation that relies on the network being available, fast, and capable of delivering the required data, is a fool.

Rule 1 of presenting : bring your own hardware.

Rule 2 : bring the presentation on at least two different storage devices.

Rule 3 : there is no Rule 3.

Rule 4 : expect the unexpected. Keep your whiteboarding skills up.

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Landlubber northern council shores up against boat-tipping

Daedalus
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One of these days...

Councils in the UK will eventually figure out that making it difficult and/or expensive to get rid of unwanted stuff is what drives fly-tipping. Most towns in the US turn a blind eye to objects left out for collection, and by and large those objects either get picked up by the garbage collectors or by "informal" collectors aka scavengers. Leaving something out at the kerb in the UK will apparently get you a visit from all kinds of bureaucracy-driven thugs ready to rip you a new one.

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Facebook vows to double staff with new cadre of Net Police

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Welcome news for Albania

Who better to detect Russian propaganda than unemployed Albanians?

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London best for 4G - who'd have thunk?

Daedalus
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It's easy: just make your towns and hamlets robber barons

People may have wondered why high speed data is so available in the USA. It's simple: there are cell antennas everywhere. But that's just the superficial explanation. The real reason - apart from a lower level of NIMBYism - is that in many places the locals can set up taxes on cell calls. If you have a cell tower in your jurisdiction - no matter how small - most states allow you to tax calls that use that tower.

Now that's easier said than done, of course, but thanks to the spirit of entrepreneurship, it's something the towns, villages and hamlets can outsource to a collection company that then goes bothering the cell companies on their behalf. The collection company gets a percentage of the take, naturally. The upshot of this is that there is an industry of call record processing that uses software to access the records that telephone switching equipment can generate.

It's a form of parasitism, but it certainly quells local arguments about cell towers. Often they are disguised as trees anyway, another advantage of living in a country with a landscape that is still quite wild.

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