* Posts by Jon 37

266 posts • joined 28 Nov 2009

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Ubuntu reports 67% of users opt in to on-by-default PC specs slurp

Jon 37
Flame

Clearly illegal data-gathering

So, 33% didn't opt in...

And how do they know that?

The only possibility is that when you say "NO, DO NOT COLLECT MY INFORMATION" they then ... collect the information that you opted out!!! That's clearly illegal, those people did not consent to that.

What's Canonical's turnover again? The court is going to need to know to calculate the GDPR fine...

Quantum cryptography demo shows no need for ritzy new infrastructure

Jon 37
Black Helicopters

Re: What about denial of service?

To interfere you need access to the fiber. If you have access to the fiber, then a pair of low-tech bolt cutters will work perfectly well to deny service.

However, either kind of denial of service will be followed by the relevant security people driving (or flying) along the fiber route, and finding the problem. If you hang around, you would get into trouble.

Trademark holders must pay for UK web blocking orders – Supreme Court

Jon 37

If you're not making enough profit to cover the costs of protecting your IP, then either:

A) When you get a blocking order to protect your IP, your profits will go up by more than the cost of the blocking order. In this case, investing in a blocking order is a sensible business investment. OR,

B) Your IP is not worth protecting. Sucks to be you, but you have no right to force ISPs to pay for it for you.

Of course, where your IP is trademarks on actual physical goods, you might wonder what the heck Customs are doing letting it into the country, and what the heck the Police are doing not investigating (including co-coordinating with foreign Police forces where appropriate), and what the heck the Government are doing not getting tough on foreign governments that allow this sort of thing to happen from their territory. But none of that is the ISP's fault and it's not fair to punish the ISPs for it.

Kill the blockchain! It'll make you fitter in the long run, honest

Jon 37

Blockchain is the wrong solution to anything

Blockchain is an interesting technical hack to make Bitcoin work.

It works equally well/badly for all the Bitcoin clones out there.

For anything else... it doesn't fit.

The whole hype about blockchain is (at best) buzzword-driven / solution-driven architecture. I.e. "we know what the solution is, lets try to fit it to another problem even though it's not actually the best solution to that problem". All the blockchain applications I've heard of could be implemented simpler and better with normal centralized databases.

At worst, most "Blockchain" is a scam that is used to part the gullible from their money.

International Maritime Organisation turns salty gaze on regulating robotic shipping

Jon 37

Re: more colregs

Why is there an obligation to assist other vessels in distress? Because at the time the rules were written, and until very recently, all ships had the *ability* to assist other vessels in distress, and if you *can* save a life then you should.

That doesn't necessarily apply to robotic ships. If they don't have the ability to deploy lifesaving gear, and don't have anyone onboard who would need it, then it would be reasonable to say they don't have to.

In other words: The obligation is to do the best you can with the equipment you have on board, not to bring extra equipment to help others. The lifesaving gear that ships carry is intended to save their own passengers and crew, the ability to help others is just a bonus.

Of course if your robotic ship happens to sail past someone who's in trouble, and you detect that with your cameras or by a radio call or satellite message, then you have to provide what assistance you can. Likely a human would take over at that point, and drive the ship by remote control from their control centre back on land. Assistance might be limited to sailing over to the casualties, letting them get on the deck, then heading for the nearest port or manned ship at the best possible speed. The robotic ship might not have any cabins, shelter, food or drink, so getting to port or a manned ship quickly may be the best that it can do.

UK Home Office's £885m crim records digi effort: A 'masterclass in incompetence'

Jon 37

Re: As per usual

The purchasing process was designed to purchase the cheapest possible items when you're buying huge amounts of well-specified commodity physical items. They stick out an RFP with the specs, and buy the cheapest.

It utterly fails at dealing with things that aren't commodities.

A "commodity" is something where there's a market for the things and they're pretty much the same and interchangeable, like sugar or crude oil.

Bespoke software development is about as far from a commodity as you can possibly get. For a start, the idea that there will be good specs at the beginning of such a project is a fantasy - it's impossible to do that as some developer will always find a way to screw up that the specifier hadn't anticipated. The only truly complete spec is a working system.

And since the purchase process is built around the fantasy of specs, it doesn't incorporate trials.

Max Schrems is back: Facebook, Google hit with GDPR complaint

Jon 37

Re: This will go nowhere in court...

That's wrong. There have always been some things that can't legally be put in terms & conditions.

E.g. under long-standing UK law, a shop can't usually say "I'm selling you this stuff, but you have to agree there are no refunds, and if you don't agree then you can't buy it". That's because all consumers have the legal right to a refund if the product is not "of merchantable quality" or not "fit for purpose" or not "as described". If a shop tried that, and the product was faulty, the shop could still be sued for a refund and the shop would lose in court. The consumer's "agreement" not to get a refund was illegal and will not help the shop in court - in fact the shop may get punished for that illegal practice.

GDPR says that consumers can't be compelled to consent to unrelated uses of their data. So any consent purportedly gathered that way is invalid, and they can be sued for using the data without consent.

Police block roads to stop tech support chap 'robbing a bank'

Jon 37

He's the "boy who cried wolf". After doing that, if he was really injured and presses that button, they might not believe him which might slow the response significantly. If other people copy him and use the button inappropriately, it becomes useless for its original purpose.

Astronaut took camera on spacewalk, but forgot SD memory card

Jon 37

He may well have known what it meant.

If you're being *really careful*, you don't assume anything. If your training didn't cover what the "no SD" message meant, and you see it, then *you ask Mission Control*. Even if you think you can guess what it means.

And you tell them the *facts*, which are "I can see a message saying no SD", you don't just guess what it means and tell them "oops I must have forgotten to put the SD card in". There are a lot of really good experts on the ground who will help with troubleshooting, but they need facts not wild-ass guesses.

And a spacewalk is a really good time to be *really careful*.

You might say "oh it's just a GoPro"... but being really careful is a mindset, you want astronauts to be really careful with the important stuff, but it's not always clear what "the important stuff" is, especially under stress, so you train them to be really careful always ... and especially on a spacewalk.

Orbital ATK launches another Cygnus without anything blowing up

Jon 37

Regardless of which is cheaper right now, you don't want a monopoly. In the long term, having 2 or 3 profitable suppliers is much cheaper than having one cheaper-for-the-moment supplier. There are several reasons for this:

* A monopoly supplier could raise their prices and stop innovating. (See: ULA). It's incredibly difficult, slow and expensive for a new supplier to get into the space launch business.

* If there's only a single family of rocket being used, and they have a rocket explode so they ground their fleet, you're stuck. We know such failures happen, even Shuttle had a ~1.5% failure rate. If there are several different models from different suppliers, then common faults are much less likely.

* If your sole supplier goes bust / has its workers strike / has its facility wiped out by a natural disaster, you're stuck. Multiple suppliers means you have less single-points-of-failure.

That's why NASA were careful to award ISS supply contracts to two different companies (SpaceX and Orbital), while the US government also has launch contracts with a third domestic company (ULA). That gives the US government three local suppliers to compete for its missions.

Openreach consults on shift of 16 MEEELLION phone lines to VoIP by 2025

Jon 37

Re: No thanks

My understanding was that with fiber, there is no powered intermediate distribution box (usually). The fiber goes from the exchange to one or more passive optical splitters and from there to your house. The splitters are unpowered, so are not affected by power cuts.

Engineer crashed mega-corp's electricity billing portal, was promoted

Jon 37

Or "<IT guy>, did the main company file share get backed up last night?"

Danish submariner sent down for life for murder of journalist Kim Wall

Jon 37

Re: Appeal

Appeals are important. Judges & juries get things wrong. We know this from history - e.g. when DNA testing was first invented, and provided new evidence to be used in appeals, there were many people who were exonerated of serious rape and murder charges. Not just "couldn't prove they did it", but actual "the DNA evidence shows that it was definitely someone else". People were released after being locked up for years.

If you threaten a lawyer with prison for representing a "bad person" on an appeal, most good lawyers won't do it. That means that people will stay in prison for crimes they didn't commit.

And limiting it to "ridiculous" appeals doesn't help, because who decides if an appeal is "ridiculous"? Answer: The judge who just denied the appeal. And judges get things wrong. So there's far too much risk for the lawyer, even if they honestly think their appeal is valid.

Jon 37

> On what grounds could he possibly appeal?

The grounds are "appealing can't possibly make things worse, and there's a tiny chance his lawyer might persuade the court that there was a procedural flaw somewhere".

Blighty: If EU won't let us play at Galileo, we're going home and taking encryption tech with us

Jon 37

Re: What is this quarrel for?

If we take our crypto and go home, we will be out of the ESA and no British person or company will ever work on a critical part of an EU or ESA project for the next 20 years. That's just common sense on the EU's behalf.

Press F to pay respects to the Windows 10 April Update casualties

Jon 37

Re: "Upgrading users should be able to ignore the viewer as before."

> Unless the problem you need help with is the fact that you can't get online

Most people have mobile Internet on their phone for when the PC is broken, and wired Internet on their PC for when their phone is broken.

AWS DNS network hijack turns MyEtherWallet into ThievesEtherWallet

Jon 37

HSTS

Why on earth is an online wallet site not using HSTS??

HSTS was designed to prevent this attack. If enabled, it stops you clicking through the security warning. You just get a certificate error page, you don't get an option to click through. Because we have trained users to click through the error messages.

HSTS also prevents you from accidentally visiting the http: version of the site, your web browser will silently redirect you to the https: version.

HSTS is a flag that the website enables. Once enabled, browsers remember it (and it can't be unset), so you're protected for subsequent visits to the site. A website owner can also ask for their site to be added to the HSTS preload list, which is built into the browser, to provide protection to people visiting the site for the first time.

Time to ditch the front door key? Nest's new wireless smart lock is surprisingly convenient

Jon 37

> How do you get your phone out of your pocket and use the app if you are carrying shopping?

Presumably you do that before you get the shopping out of the car.

But yeah, I agree with your other points completely.

BT pushes ahead with plans to switch off telephone network

Jon 37

Re: So what about the customers?

You can already buy routers that have old-fashioned analogue telephone sockets on them. You plug your old phone in there, and the router converts the signal to VOIP for you and sends it over your Internet connection. So all you need is a new router, which isn't that expensive or that complicated.

This is about BT getting rid of PSTN at their exchanges and on the wires to you, so they only have to terminate one (Internet) signal instead of two (Internet+PSTN) signals. This makes things cheaper for them. They don't care whether or not you continue using PSTN inside your house.

Exposed: Lazy Android mobe makers couldn't care less about security

Jon 37

Re: Any chance?

Suggesting ALL the manufacturers would leave the Android component marketplace is nonsense. Let me explain the economics:

Suppose additional costs were imposed due to a change in the law (or a change in the way the law is interpreted). If ALL the component manufacturers were to abandon the Android phone market, then it would be impossible to make any new Android phones. However, there would still be a demand for Android phones, to replace broken and worn-out phones, and as first phones as kids grow up. So there would be a shortage, which would greatly increase the value of Android phones, both new and second-hand. Because the price of a new Android phone would go up, the Android phone manufacturers would be able to pay more for components. At some point, the price rise becomes more than the cost of following the new law. At that point, the component manufacturers would come back to the market and sell their products again.

Sane component manufacturers would realise this in advance, and would just raise their prices to cover the costs of the new law, rather than leave the market and risk having their business stolen by saner competitors.

I.e. requiring security fixes might increase the price of phones, which may mean people buy less, which might be good/bad for some companies, but won't lead to everyone suddenly quitting the market.

Jon 37

Re: No money in it

I have an Apple phone mostly because it gets security patches.

I'm not aware of any Android phone manufacturer with a reputation for providing patches. If I'm wrong, please enlighten me!

And I don't want to futz around with open source projects. For something as important as my phone it needs to "just work". So I want a firmware build that's tested and supported by my phone manufacturer.

India completes its GPS alternative, for the second time

Jon 37

Re: Why would mobile phones or TV be affected ?

Yes, with a SFN you can’t do regional TV as easily. That’s probably one of the reasons we don’t do much SFN in the UK. (The main reason being it would have required lots of old analog TV aerials to be replaced. At analog switch-off in the UK, the main digital channels were moved to the old BBC2 analog TV frequency from each transmitter, which meant the old aerials worked, but ruled out SFN).

But if your regions are big enough, you can do a SFN covering a single region. I believe there’s at least one of those in the UK.

Jon 37

Re: Why would mobile phones or TV be affected ?

If you have a big, national TV network then it has multiple transmitters. There are two ways to do that:

1) allocate 4-6x as many radio channels, and put adjacent transmitters on different channels so they don't interfere with each other. This is simple, but wastes a lot of expensive radio bandwidth.

2) put all the transmitters on the same channel and ensure they broadcast the exact same signal at the exact same time. The "exact same time" part requires incredibly good absolute precision, which is usually done by having a good GPS receiver built in to every transmitter. This is called a "Single Frequency Network" (SFN) because it uses one radio frequency.

Intel shrugs off ‘new’ side-channel attacks on branch prediction units and SGX

Jon 37

Re: Intel has serious product issues

> Now that the genie is out of the bottle, they should just confess it and fix it.

That way they lose the class action, are ordered to pay punitive damages, some lawyer spins this as gross negligence, and they go bankrupt. That would not be a smart move.

UK's London Gatwick Airport boasts of driverless vehicle trial

Jon 37

Re: The mind boggles

> GPS is not an "assured" system. That's why aircraft typically also include Inertial Reference systems

GPS on its own can go wrong, but adding EGNOS guarantees any problems with the system are discovered quickly, and gives you better accuracy too. EGNOS was designed for safety critical systems like aircraft. The EGNOS system consists of a few dozen fixed receivers monitoring the GPS satellites and feeding that information to the EGNOS control center, which calculates correction information and sends it to a geostationary satellite that broadcasts it across Europe. A GPS receiver that supports EGNOS receives the EGNOS signal from that satellite and uses it to correct the GPS position.

For readers in the US, EGNOS is a Europe-wide service, WAAS is the US equivalent. Airports might also have GBAS / LAAS, which is an equivalent service that covers a small area - just one airport and it's approaches - using a VHF transmitter at the airport.

Also, if your taxi stops getting a good GPS signal, it can always stop. Worst case it causes a bit of a traffic jam until the tow truck gets there. Planes can't do that.

Jon 37

Re: The mind boggles

It's a limited environment that is very tightly controlled, which is fully mapped, where most people are following predefined paths, many vehicles are under central control already, all the humans are trained on strict safety rules that they must follow, the ground is good tarmac that is mostly level with good visibility, and there is good visibility of the sky for GPS reception. Sounds ideal for a first deployment of autonomous taxis.

Sure, you don't want the car accidentally driving onto the runway or taxiways, but you just upload a map of the airfield with the runway and most taxiways marked as "do not enter", and the GPS in the car can handle that. If the car needs to drive across a taxiway then you give the car a radio link to the existing traffic signals, and program it not to cross the taxiway crossing (identified by GPS co-ordinates) unless it receives the "lights are green" radio signal.

Note that we're talking about taxis here, so I expect they will take the staff around the airport and to the gate they need to be at, but they will be sticking to the marked vehicle routes.

Windows 10 to force you to use Edge, even if it isn't default browser

Jon 37

Re: Fucking idiots

> funnily enough people have no problem giving Apple a pass for doing exactly this same shit throughout iOS

Apple iOS is a walled garden. Apple iOS has always been a walled garden. If you buy Apple iOS products you know this and chose it, so it should be no surprise that it is a walled garden. If you build apps to run on Apple iOS products you know this and chose to build the app anyway.

Microsoft Windows used to be a general-purpose OS that let you install and run whatever software you want, and customize how you want. Microsoft provided some default apps to get you started, which ranged from low-quality but works for the basics (e.g. Notepad) to some okay apps (e.g. the Explorer file manager, Calculator, Internet Explorer, the Start Menu / Taskbar). But you could always customize it and choose what apps you want to use, including replacing all the built-in apps with better competitors. People built competitors to all the built-in apps.

Microsoft are retroactively changing it, after people have bought it, so you're forced to use the MS web browser. People did not agree to this when they bought Windows. People did not know this when they invested significant money in building competing browsers.

"I'm altering the deal ... pray I don't alter it any further".

Microsoft's Teams lights solitary candle, hipsters don't notice

Jon 37
Flame

Microsoft has no clue about messaging

I don't want to have three different messaging apps, all with different and stupid limitations. I want one good app.

As far as I can tell, the MS approach seems to be:

* Skype for talking to people outside my organisation and calling out to phones. (Not so good for talking to people inside my organisation because there's no corporate address book and I have to invite everyone manually and they have to accept before we can message).

* Skype for Business for talking to people inside my organisation. (Has a corporate address book that works for internal people. I believe theoretically it can inter-operate with Skype to call external people but it's impossible to migrate from Skype to Skype for Business without making all your professional contacts re-add you on Skype with a new account, which is frankly unprofessional).

* Teams or Yammer for talking to groups of people inside my organisation. (They do the same thing but Yammer bases group membership on the domain from your email, whereas Teams integrates with the normal Office365 corporate account admin stuff). AFAIK neither has video calling, have to use one of the Skypes for that.

That's just insane.

Microsoft should have made one messaging app, called it Skype, and just made everything work. They seem to have consistently failed to do that ever since they bought Skype.

A smartphone recession is coming and animated poo emojis can't stop it

Jon 37
Boffin

Re: Manufacturers are spending more

> bigger' unit multipliers get a capital. 'smaller' dividers get a lower case.

Except for "kilo", which gets lowercase "k" just to confuse people.

Jon 37
Boffin

Re: Manufacturers are spending more

> 3k-3.3k MaH

Please .... just no. You mean 3-3.3 Ah. Using the kilo and milli prefies at the same time to cancel each other out is just wrong.

Half the world warned 'Chinese space station will fall on you'

Jon 37

Re: Hit the US?

> Yes! The best thing to do to avoid a big piece of metal hitting people is to blow it up, so that lots of smaller pieces of metal can hit them instead.

The theory is: Small bits are likely to be vaporized by the heat of re-entry, and/or slow down more since they have a big area-to-mass ratio. Big bits of metal might survive re-entry, with just the outer layer melted off, and can hit at high speed since they have a small area-to-mass ratio.

However, I'm not sure about this cunning plan...

'A sledgehammer to crack a nut': Charities slam UK voter ID trials

Jon 37

Or just moved in.

Or get all your bills online.

Or live in a rented room with all utilities included in the rent.

Or just turned 18.

Executing the DIMM sidestep: Movements in High Bandwidth Memory

Jon 37

The issues is that it's very hard to keep all the lines in a parallel connection in sync at high speed *over long distances and through complicated connections*. HBM solves this by making the distances really short, and permanently attaching both the RAM and CPU to the Interposer.

The Interposer is a big silicon chip that doesn't actually have any logic on it, it's just used as a really tiny circuit board to connect the RAM and CPU together. Big silicon chips are normally expensive, but the Interposer is built using old processes in existing fabs, which is cheap because the machinery has already been paid for. The RAM and CPU are attached to the Interposer, the Interposer then connects to the circuit board in the normal ways (usually soldered on, but it could be a socketed chip).

Full shift to electric vans would melt Royal Mail's London hub, MPs told

Jon 37

Can't they upgrade it?

This sounds like an excuse.

If you need more electric capacity, you pay the local electricity distribution network to install bigger wires to your property, and as part of that they'll upgrade substations and interconnect wires as needed - and you pay for all this work.

Of course, this may be _very_ expensive, but it's doable.

But "it's impossible because it would melt the substation" is a MUCH better excuse than "we don't want to pay for a bigger electrical connection".

Is this why Facebook is such a toxic dump? HP, HPE sued for 'leaking chems' into office site

Jon 37

Re: It was what it was

Stanford didn't buy it. They owned the land and leased it to HP, and expected it back in reusable condition. It was uncontaminated and useful building land when they lent it, and contaminated when they got it back.

Since the lease was so long, there was a long delay between HP contaminating it and Stanford discovering that, and HP have split up in the meantime. So the right thing to do is to sue all the major bits of HP and let them argue in court about which bit is liable.

I wouldn't be at all surprised if the question of "which bit of HP" was settled by all the bits of HP agreeing either to pick one or to share the cost among them. That way, for the rest of the court case all the remaining bits of HP can present a unified front against Stanford.

EU aviation agency publishes new drone framework. Hobbyists won't like it

Jon 37

Re: Let me guess - Brexit changes nothing ?

We have announced that we want to remain in the EU air safety system, so if we manage to sign the deal we want then Brexit will change nothing, except we may or may not get a say in future changes to the regulation depending on how good a deal we get.

If we end up with no deal and a hard Brexit by default, then we could do whatever we wanted.

Remember that the EU does not have to agree any deal, they can just point at us and laugh. And the recent trade deal with Canada was delayed because one region in Belgium opposed it. Every EU country had to approve it, and the Belgian rules meant that every region in Belgium had veto power over the Belguim government's approval of the treaty, which in turn had to delay the entire treaty until they could be persuaded to change their minds. Presumably the EU-UK deal may be delayed/vetoed in the same way.

SpaceX's internet satellites to beam down 'Hello world' from orbit

Jon 37
Boffin

Re: Latency

> Wouldn't it have to hop through the constellation a bit, too ?

Depends on how far you are from a ground station. If speed-of-light travel time to your closest ISP is X milliseconds, then you're never going to get a latency less than X milliseconds by any means. The satellite latency will be the total of: around X milliseconds to hop around the constellation plus 11 milliseconds to go up & down plus a bit more for processing in each satellite and the ground station(s). Fiber would give you a latency of about 1.5 times X milliseconds, since light is slower in a fiber than through air/space.

Jon 37
Boffin

Re: Bah!

Salt water is very corrosive, which is bad for your only-just-strong-enough metal rocket parts. SpaceX have been really careful with most of their recovery efforts to ensure things don't get dunked in water. The exception is Dragon, which lands in the sea, and the only "reused" Dragon capsule had to be completely stripped down and rebuilt with mostly-new parts, which is very expensive.

So their plan to catch the fairings *before* they hit the water probably leads to *much* cheaper refurb costs than fishing them out. But it will take a few more attempts to get it working, then a few more to get it mostly reliable. Any capture method will never be 100% reliable.

Say goodbye to a chunk of that sweet Aruba payout, hedgies – judge

Jon 37

It only applies to the plaintiffs.

Investors had the choice of selling to HP at the offered price, or dragging them through court to get a "fair" price set by the court. Most of them sold to HP. The hedge funds gambled on the court route, and lost.

You can resurrect any deleted GitHub account name. And this is why we have trust issues

Jon 37

Re: 'a bare minimum would be forking'

> What do you do with your forked dependency's dependencies? You fork them too? And *their* dependencies? And their dependencies dependencies? And...

Yes.

If you're working in a responsible manner, you need to do a license review of every dependency anyway, so you will be making a list of all dependencies anyway (including dependencies of dependencies etc) and can just fork all of them.

That way:

a) You don't have problems due to a server being down

b) You don't have problems due to someone pushing a bug or non-backward compatible change

c) You can check the licenses of all the software you're using, in case some dependency adds a new dependency with an unacceptable license

d) If something breaks, it's possible to answer the question "what changed".

Bruce Perens wants to anti-SLAPP Grsecurity's Brad Spengler with $670,000 in legal bills

Jon 37

Standard legal fees for suing someone in the US are around a third of what you win, on a no-win-no-fee basis. So he sued for 3 million, he would have paid his lawyers a million if he’d won. So two thirds of a million to the other side’s lawyers is comparable.

Of course, all three figures are ludicrous, but the plaintiff started that by suing for 3 million.

And lawyers have a high list price to allow for the risk of not getting paid - both people who don’t pay and reductions made by the court, which is quite likely to happen in this case.

Capita contract probed after thousands of clinical letters stuffed in a drawer somewhere

Jon 37
Facepalm

Re: How? Why!!!

If you outsource, you get what you ask for and pay for.

No-one asked Capita to do anything with this paperwork, no-one paid Capita to do anything with this paperwork, so Capita didn't do anything with it.

Doing something with this paperwork would have cost money, and by outsourcing you saved that money!

This is outsourcing working as documented (but not as actually intended).

Crowdfunding small print binned as Retro Computers Ltd loses court refund action

Jon 37

Re: On the other hand

Delivery still isn't guaranteed. But if they fail to ship, then consumers will get court orders against them, and if that happens enough then they'll go bankrupt. Then there is a chance that consumers might get a little bit of their money back, and the receivers will check the books and anyone is obviously committing fraud can theoretically be prosecuted. Exactly like any other purchase, just riskier.

What the court has done is said that the company can't just decide to keep the money and refuse to ship the products. It has to give ship, give refunds, or go bankrupt just like any other company.

NASA finds satellite, realises it has lost the software and kit that talk to it

Jon 37

Re: It was also HARDWARE that no longer exists.

> Hardware can/should be archived as well

It certainly _can_ be archived. But _why_ should hardware for communicating with a _dead_ satellite be archived? Who's going to pay for it to be preserved and packaged for storage, and pay for the storage costs for over 10 years, and _why_ are they going to do that? If you think NASA should pay, remember NASA has a fixed budget, so why do you think preserving hardware for a believed-to-be-dead satellite is more important than any of the science that NASA decided to do with that money?

Also, unless you had a crystal ball to forsee the future, there was no way to know that this particular satellite was going to come back from the dead, so saying "they should have archived the hardware for _this_ satellite" doesn't make sense, the question is whether they should have archived the hardware for _all_ dead-but-not-completely-destroyed satellites, which is much more expensive.

Julian Assange to UK court: Put an end to my unwarranted Ecuadorean couch-surf

Jon 37

Re: If he gets his way...

They have issued him a diplomatic passport already. Under the Vienna Convention, a diplomatic passport itself doesn't provide any protection. A diplomatic passport *that has been accepted by the host country* provides total protection, but when Ecuador asked the UK to accept him we told them to get lost.

And you're not allowed to ship people in a diplomatic bag, if the UK police figure out that you're doing that then it stops being a diplomatic bag and they can search it, drag him out and arrest him.

Aut-doh!-pilot: Driver jams 65mph Tesla Model S under fire truck, walks away from crash

Jon 37

Re: The Nasty Little Truth About Deep Learning

The thing is that humans are so bad at driving, an imperfect AI can still have a better average safety record than humans.

But it's going to fail in *different* ways, there will be scenarios where an average human driver would have been fine and the computer kills everyone, and there will be scenarios where the human would have killed people and the computer has no problem.

Of course, "computer controlled car goes for drive, no-one dies" is not (any longer) a news story, so much of the press will be of the form "computer screws up when human would have been fine".

Jon 37

Re: Don't call it Autopilot, for a start

It's named after autopilot on a plane. Autopilot on a plane does not mean "set it and go to sleep", it means "set it so it handles the routine flying while the pilot keeps alert, looks out for other planes, talks to air traffic control, watches the instruments, and is available to take over immediately if something goes wrong."

The fact that people think computers are magic has been a problem since Babbage invented the difference engine in 1822. As he wrote:

> On two occasions I have been asked, — "Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?" In one case a member of the Upper, and in the other a member of the Lower, House put this question. I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question.

'No evidence' UK.gov has done much to break up IT outsourcing

Jon 37

Re: Why outsource

That's not the main reason. The main reason is that anything bad that happens can be blamed on the outsourcer, rather than the department / minister / government. The politicians like that.

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