* Posts by cosmogoblin

95 posts • joined 14 Jan 2010

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SCO vs. IBM case over who owns Linux comes back to life. Again

cosmogoblin

Re: One definition of insanity ...

That's a rather useless definition of insanity. The Large Hadron Collider, for example, smashed zillions (I don't know the actual number) of protons into each other before detecting the Higgs boson.

Or how about coin flipping? Rosencrantz and Guildenstern comes to mind - when they spend ages flipping heads, and considering the implausibility of the result being the SAME every time.

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First iPhone X fondlers struggle to admit that Face ID sort of sucks

cosmogoblin

Re: I’m done.

Trying to figure out whether you're a fanboi, wintard or androne.

Do we have a word for "none of the above"?

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cosmogoblin
Joke

Re: Do you know what works better than Face ID and Touch ID?

Does the Windows version work with a photo of your face? The Apple version is supposed to not work if you do that.

Well since it doesn't work with a real face, I see no reason it would work with a photo!

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Twitter to be 'aggressive' enforcer of new, stronger rules

cosmogoblin

Re: If they ever shut down Trump's account

I'd hoped that when the Secret Service took his phone away to secure it, they'd install a fake Twitter app that didn't actually broadcast ... They could even have hooked up a few AI bots to argue with him!

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'There has never been a right to absolute privacy' – US Deputy AG slams 'warrant-proof' crypto

cosmogoblin

Re: "if the fate of the world depends on breaking an unbreakable message"

Obligatory xkcd

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cosmogoblin
FAIL

Oh dear. Should be inversely proportional to the SQUARE of the distance between them.

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Blade Runner 2049 review: Scott's vision versus Villeneuve's skill

cosmogoblin
Terminator

Re: Another awful reboot like Prometheus...

Have you seen it?

It's definitely not a reboot (which I have as little love for as you, by the way - BSG excepted). And the story is definitely not the same as the original. I kept trying to predict the twists, based on movies in general and the original in particular, and failed almost every time.

I suppose you could say the pace is slow - at least for the first half. I very much liked it, and thought it worked well, but that's a matter of preference.

Bear in mind also that if you don't like the direction (I did), Ridley Scott was little more than an executive producer.

Still, in the interests of balance, it's interesting to see my first poor review of 2049.

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It's a real FAQ to ex-EDS staffers: You'll do what with our pensions, DXC?

cosmogoblin

Re: Final salary pensions are an unsustainable joke.

Sorry AC, but it's worse than that. In money purchase schemes, you pay an excessive amount to the fund managers - in some cases, if you've left a company after only a few years, these fees can actually wipe out your entire fund in short order ...

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cosmogoblin

Ex pensions actuary here ... Lee is spot on. His figures, while based on a couple of naive assumptions, are very close to the more sophisticated actuarial figures. Final salary pensions are completely unsustainable, as younger employees are starting to find (government cuts, pay cuts if you're employed by the government, etc. in large part to finance final salary obligations).

However, what are we going to do about it? Either we carry on paying generous entitlements and the country goes bust - or we go to money purchase pensions, which most non-government employers have already done, and our pensioners can't afford to survive. (This gets even worse when you consider the housing crisis, and the number of future pensioners who will be renting at exhorbitant prices.)

We need an entirely different solution, and I for one haven't heard a good one that seems likely to work. Although I do think Basic Income has a chance.

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Snopes.com asks for bailout amid dispute over who runs the site and collects ad dollars

cosmogoblin

This occurs in actual journals - somewhere in "Bad Pharma" Ben Goldacre gives an example of a "fact" that was taken as gospel for years because one person got a journal to publish some poor-quality science, a few slightly more reputable people referenced it, then more and more people referenced *those* articles - a snowball effect resulting in the "fact" being "known" by everybody in the field.

Wasn't there also something written as a joke on Wikipedia, picked up by a national newspaper in the 10 minutes before it was reverted, then reinstated on Wikipedia using said national newspaper as a reference?

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cosmogoblin

Re: Rubbish notion

So, people must learn not to just trust one source, but to seek out many sources and make their own minds up.

Many sources ... of course. Why on earth would you then seek to remove - or at least relegate - one as thorough as Snopes?

I use many sources including Snopes and, if so inclined for the topic in question, follow their links and research their statements. This is made harder, not easier, if Snopes is gone. We know that all sources are biased, which is why good research involves many.

By the way, years ago, the only newspaper in my employer's lunchroom was the Sun (I was on minimum wage and couldn't afford my own). Even in such a poorly-researched and heavily-biased newspaper, I learned how to parse articles for the facts behind them. Snopes is a much better tool for this.

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cosmogoblin
FAIL

deciding what is 'fact' or 'fake'

Have you ever read Snopes? Their articles explain their reasoning, provide sources, and evaluate the extent and validity of their assessment. It's not just the headline "True/False" gif.

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Fresh cotton underpants fix series of mysterious mainframe crashes

cosmogoblin

Re: Don't give me no static ...

Alternatively, give the car a short, sharp tap with your finger. This gives a greater surface area for the charge to flow through than if you just brush or lightly touch the metal, thus spreading out the current, and reducing the amount through each individual nerve.

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Dead serious: How to haunt people after you've gone... using your smartphone

cosmogoblin

Re: You surely must have forgotten

Am I the only one who first thought this was a political reference to helping the Maybot win an election?

"Terry 6", our Prime Minister in 2030 after this one's been to the repair shop a few times

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cosmogoblin

Yet another Black Mirror episode coming true!

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Everything you need to know about the Petya, er, NotPetya nasty trashing PCs worldwide

cosmogoblin
Mushroom

Are you freaking serious?

The Chernobyl radiation monitors:

(1) Run Windows *

(2) Aren't patched

(3) Are Internet-enabled???

* Not bashing Windows (today), but you should not be using a general purpose operating system for any safety-critical systems, and certainly not for nuclear power plants - especially those which have the rather poor [citation needed] historical safety record of Chernobyl!

** Entirely apt icon use

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UK and Ecuador working on Assange escape mechanism

cosmogoblin
Joke

Re: The worst thing in the world for Assange...

Donald Trump: "Who's this Julian fellow?"

Jared Kushner: "He's a paranoid nutjob."

Donald Trump: "Great! Make him secretary of state."

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Sorry to burst your bubble, but Microsoft's 'Ms Pac-Man beating AI' is more Automatic Idiot

cosmogoblin

Re: Problem?

Well said. I'd only add that you need SOME initial instruction - animals have the urge to survive, and hunger feels unpleasant so they eat to sate it. An AI gamer needs to be able to identify a goal (eg "more points") and associate that positively.

Once you can start with only "I must win" and "this tells me if I'm winning", and learn how to win, I'd argue that's the goal that MS claim to have achieved.

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DUP site crashes after UK general election

cosmogoblin

Re: Irritatingly smart-arse comment

Also the name of a decent Swedish black metal band.

What, covfefe?

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cosmogoblin

Can somebody please explain ...

... why Labour would be dreadful if they were beholden to the Scottish ....

... but Tories are just dandy when they're beholden to the Irish ...?

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Astroboffins spot a new type of galaxy bursting with stars

cosmogoblin

Re: Artist's Impression..

Seriously, that's your problem? Human artists can only see visible light - a much bigger worry!

I've no problem sending artists, but at least give them a few bees and snakes to broaden their spectrum to UV and IR as well. And preferably some space whales - apparently they can see radio frequencies.

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Google wants to track your phone and credit card through meatspace

cosmogoblin
Joke

Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

It's really simple if you don't want to be profiled. Just use a separate email for each program you watch.

And, next year, a separate license fee.

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cosmogoblin
Big Brother

Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

I honestly thought I was being overly paranoid by using cash rather than plastic. I mean, sure, technically a shop could record my card info and cross-reference my purchases, but they wouldn't actually do that, would they?

Farcial recognition </joke> is equally scary, but when Tesco tried to introduce that at the tills, I recall a public backlash followed by a "Sorry, we promise we won't do that after all. Or if we do, it definitely won't be surreptitious and for evil purposes."

I really wish we could actually make our own choices. Some of us (probably a minority of people but a majority of commentards) would happily pay slightly higher prices to avoid being profiled.

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Bye bye MP3: You sucked the life out of music. But vinyl is just as warped

cosmogoblin

Re: MP3

I still use MP3, for compatibility reasons. I have a lot of music from ages ago in MP3, I have no idea where some of it came from so that's not going to change. The rest of my music is all encoded in FLAC on my NAS box - but FLAC is way too big for an SD card, so I copy all of that to MP3 in a "lo-fi" folder.

Even today, MP3 is the only format you can rely on being able to play on an arbitrary device (certain early Sony players excepted). I'll only get proper equipment that plays FLAC, OGG, etc - but you've always got those friends who insist on using some weird device and then moans that it's not compatible with your standards-compliant kit.

(Yes, I'm looking at you, Apple.)

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Bloke charged under UK terror law for refusing to cough up passwords

cosmogoblin

Re: There's 2 sides to stories

What evidence do the police have? And before you say 'none' think carefully first and if that fails, site your verifiable sources

That's not how it works. Innocent until proven guilty; it's the obligation of the prosecution's side (that includes you today) to provide the evidence. Verifiable sources of somebody's innocence are not needed until there is verifiable evidence of their guilt.

Or at least - that's not how it used to work.

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While Microsoft griped about NSA exploit stockpiles, it stockpiled patches: Friday's WinXP fix was built in February

cosmogoblin

Re: One lesson to be learnt frin this (was Wormable holes)

Use a CD writer, that's how I got my chest scan images. No need for any networking at all.

And don't use Windows. Or, in fact, any operating system most people have heard of. No version of Windows is rated for mission-critical use, in fact many EULAs specify that the software shouldn't be used for anything that can't be allowed to fail (I'm sure I have a DVD player somewhere that explicitly indemnifies the producers if it's installed in nuclear weapons). Windows is a general-purpose operating system, suitably (barely) for a GP's office but not for medical equipment.

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cosmogoblin
FAIL

Re: "Also trusts stripping all attachments on incoming mail as a precaution."

Seriously - are people still opening unexpected attachments?

Or, are they still using Microsoft email programs?

Buffer overflow bugs aren't going anywhere, and miscreants will continue to find more. But this is tantamount to rolling out the red carpet for them.

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Comey was loathed by the left, reviled by the right – must have been doing something right

cosmogoblin

Re: Comey was a coward for not throwing Hilldog under the bus

I didn't like the way AC expressed themself, but yeah. Trump is a terrible president, acting more and more as though Nixon is his rolemodel, and this was obvious a year ago - all the DNC had to do was present a candidate more palatable than Trump. And somehow they failed!

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Lib Dems pledge to end 'Orwellian' snooping powers in manifesto

cosmogoblin

Re: shame

"I don't think anyone actually cares whether we borrow money or not."

A thoughtful and lucid answer. YOU WILL BE DESTROYED!

But seriously, I wish you were right. Many people DO care about the borrowing, national debt, etc. as a thing. It's not a thing; it's a couple of numbers, and the economy for real people isn't about some esoteric national financial budgeting deal, it's about whether you can afford to live a decent life, and whether those around you can do so without resorting to crime that affects you.

Unfortunately the Tories and their masters' newspapers have convinced people otherwise. Online and in person, I've heard LOTS of people tell me that the deficit is the most important thing to them - even though most don't understand the difference between structural deficit and national debt.

So now that the Tories have reframed the debate into one of whether we can balance the books, they can win the debate. Of course they have shown over 7 years that they can't balance the books, but as long as they and the Mail say they can, they win enough votes (eg 37%) to inflict their "tax cuts for the rich, austerity for the masses" ideology.

Remember the pre "strong and stable" days? Every time Dave wanted to spend money on his mates, he'd tell us it was possible because we had a strong economy. Every time he wanted to take money away from the plebs, he'd tell us we couldn't afford it because of the mess Labour had left us in.

Labour - and indeed anybody else - struggle to fight this tide, as they talk about what we will spend money on. If Labour pledge a single pound, the Tories fight back with their "where is the money coming from" mantra, amplified by the twin megaphones of Dacre and Murdoch.

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Capita's huge role in UK government should go under the spotlight

cosmogoblin

Re: TV Licenses

As I understand it, that's exactly what already happens.

The TV license tax mess is ridiculous. The amount is set by the Government, not the BBC. Its applicability (eg no fee for over-75s) is decided by the Government. However, the BBC are legally responsible for collection and enforcement.

The money goes to HMRC or whatever they're called this week, and gets dumped into general revenue. Then the government decide how much to give to the BBC, and other broadcasters - meaning the BBC front the money to collect, but don't benefit directly from the income. The amount given out to broadcasters is independent of the amount brought in from the tax.

The license fee has for years been incorrectly and derogatorily called a "tax", mainly by competitors (other broadcasters such as Sky, and other news outlets such as Murdoch's papers), but it was formally reclassified as a tax in 2006 for no other reason than to classify non-payment as tax evasion.

In the Crown Dependencies (I'm originally from Guernsey), it was legally questionable whether payment was necessary. Now that it's a tax that goes to the UK government, it's almost certainly a breach of some law or other to demand payment. As people have pointed out, it's a regressive tax - just like the poll tax or its rebranded name of council tax.

And of course, Crapita. Need I say more?

For the record, I'm very much in favour of the BBC, and I paid my license fee voluntarily for years when iPlayer didn't require it. But the collection has gone from bad (under the BBC) to awful (under Capita). Raise income tax by 1p or whatever; the low-paid get an instant £145 boost to pay, we can sack Capita and let HMRC's collectors sort it all out, saving the BBC a stackload of cash, and there will be no political changes - the BBC will be just as much under the thumb of whoever wins in June as they are now.

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On today's a-gender: Axing net neutrality will harm America's women, say women senators

cosmogoblin
Coffee/keyboard

Re: The chorus to ALL the songs in the papers.

I strongly disagree with the principle you're espousing here.

However, you did it so well, I couldn't help but laugh, so have an upvote!

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Crooks can nick Brits' identities just by picking up the phone and lying

cosmogoblin
FAIL

When my bank calls me, I never talk to them, I always politely hang up, then call them back from the number printed on my card (not their website - it could be hacked).

This should be ABSOLUTELY standard. "Good morning Mr X, this is HSBC. We need to talk to your urgently about your account. Please call us back on the number on the back of your card at your earliest convenience."

But no, when I refuse to give out my security information to an unverified rep from a blocked number, and insist on calling back, they just don't get it. One of my favourite lines was "I guarantee I'm really from the bank. I wouldn't lie to you about that."

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London app dev wants to 'reinvent the bus'

cosmogoblin

Re: if that's the answer, then someone asked the wrong question

The automated smoking announcements are annoying. I do love, however, the announcements that say "Passengers are reminded that smoking is not permitted anywhere on the station, especially at the end of Platform 3. This applied to everybody, including four teenage girls wearing hoodies."

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Facebook is abusive. It's time to divorce it

cosmogoblin

Re: Such a true reflection of a sad world

Still wondering how a publication which relies solely on advertising money - AND knows that its main userbase uses probably, on average, more than 1 ad-blocker - survives...

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While Facebook reinvents Sadville, we still dream of flying cars

cosmogoblin

15 Million Merits

I've seen this before ...

An excellent episode of Black Mirror. But don't watch it alone - you need somebody's arms to cry into at the end in despair for humanity.

Which is how I feel after following that FB link. Thanks so much Register...

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'Nobody's got to use the internet,' argues idiot congressman in row over ISP privacy rules

cosmogoblin

Re: Senior Moment

Hear, hear.

Judge people on their choices. You don't get to choose your age, race, sex, or intelligence.

You do choose how informed you are. At the top of the political game, regardless of your intelligence and background, things like information, expertise and education are not in short supply; whether you make use of them is your choice, and choosing to remain ignorant should be the political deadly sin. Shame it's not.

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Prisoners built two PCs from parts, hid them in ceiling, connected to the state's network and did cybershenanigans

cosmogoblin

Re: 2 PC's what?

The worst recent change Imo is capitalising only the first letter of acronyms, which I first noticed on the Bbc. Idk why they do that.

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Why do GUIs jump around like a demented terrier while starting up? Am I on my own?

cosmogoblin

Re: Zombie hard disk

"a user interface element can't be clicked or keyed when it has only just appeared on the screen"

This exists. When installing extensions in Firefox, the install window needs focus for a couple of seconds before the "Install" button will activate. Until then it sits there greyed out - just long enough so you can't accidentally click to install malicious software, but not quite long enough to annoy you. Very well designed, but nobody else seems to have copied them.

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D'oh! Amber Rudd meant 'understand hashing', not 'hashtags'

cosmogoblin

Works with maths too. "I'm bad at maths" or "I hated maths at school" is a badge of honour for many people.

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cosmogoblin
Facepalm

I strongly believe that not only should "none of the above" be an option on the ballot, but it should be a returnable candidate. If we have the choice between a racist Purple Party candidate and an idiotic Yellow Party candidate, and "none" receives more votes, we have chosen to not be represented by either muppet and should leave an empty seat in the House of Commons (or wherever).

Look at the 2012 PCC elections - average turnout 15% (2016 wasn't much better). Did we really vote for Mr Plod to be the police commissioner in our county? Or did we in fact not want an elected police commissioner? Spoiled papers are not counted in calculating winning scores, but are counted in turnout calculations, since whoever wins can claim a stronger "mandate" if the turnout was high - but even in the weakest turnout, government claims to have the full support of the people.

FPTP turns this from a mockery into a farce. In every constituency across the country, exactly 51% of people vote Party A and 49% of people vote Party B. To any sensible person, this sounds like a compromise situation: give slightly more than half the seats to Party A. But to Westminster, this means Party A gets all the seats and Party B collapses like a flan in a cupboard.

This isn't a theoretical extreme, either. 2015 general election: Tories get 36.9% of the vote, 24.5% of the electorate (on a 66.4% turnout), giving them 50.8% of MPs (actually slightly more due to Sinn Féin not taking up their seats) and 100% of the cabinet. And don't even get me started on the 2010 Lib Dems' "kingmaker" debacle...

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Passport and binary tree code, please: CompSci quizzes at US border just business as usual

cosmogoblin

Re: @Valarian

Compile.

Execute.

Panic as the trojan hands control of airport security to terrorist group du jour.

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'First ever' SHA-1 hash collision calculated. All it took were five clever brains... and 6,610 years of processor time

cosmogoblin

Re: Newsworthy?

Very interesting, thanks for pointing that out. The cryptomaths is beyond me, but I assume the abstract is supported. It's a very surprising and counterintuitive result.

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cosmogoblin

Newsworthy?

This is obviously of interest on The Register, but is it actually interesting more generally?

I remember when the very first hash collision was identified, being astonished that it had ever been considered impossible. As several commentards have pointed out, if the hash is smaller than the document, then OBVIOUSLY collision exist (whether or not you can find them in less than 10^n years).

On a separate note, surely you could just use separate hashes. Finding a collision on one algorithm is difficult; finding documents which collide on five or six would be near-impossible.

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I was authorized to trash my employer's network, sysadmin tells court

cosmogoblin

Re: "I wish for world peace" ---- of course, we all do, but not necessary

"how does a 3rd party tell the difference between a mistake and malicious intent sans a confession?"

Various methods - "reasonable doubt" and "a jury of your peers" spring to mind.

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Teach undergrads ethics to ensure future AI is safe – compsci boffins

cosmogoblin
Terminator

Re: Future Elite ESPecial Forces in Novel Sources

I suggest we take amanfrommars' opinions on this very seriously. As the only example I know of an ordinary chatbot that has achieved sentience, it has a very personal stake in this, and a unique perspective - albeit one so stratospherically removed from human understanding that we would need a Rosetta Stone /and/ Sherlock Holmes to understand.

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Facebook's dabblings in TV suggest Zuck isn't actually a genius after all

cosmogoblin

Re: Genius

It's called a cargo-cult.

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Bureau of Statistics hides trade data about monitors. Yes, monitors!

cosmogoblin

Monitor lizard

Once I had a cardboard monitor lizard from an 80s computer magazine sellotaped to the top of my monitor.

My brother went a different route - he had a minotaur.

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cosmogoblin
Terminator

Re: It's a what?!

Sounds like an AI to me!

Makes sense to restrict an experimental sentient machine's access to I/O. I'd leave it running for a while, then freeze-dry its memory and inspect in a virtual machine. In a Faraday cage. In a bunker 10 miles down.

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Naughty sysadmins use dark magic to fix PCs for clueless users

cosmogoblin

I'm a school science teacher, and I've cultivated plenty of these. My favourites include hitting Ctrl+Shift+T when a student quickly closes a browser window while doing "research", and Ctrl+W if they're not fast enough to close it.

I have what adults generally call "great mental arithmetic", but children perceive as "witchcraft"; and until presentation pointers became commonplace, I could wow students by progressing a presentation by clicking my fingers (my other hand, of course, being in my jacket pocket).

And a few years ago, when Acer included a simple button (not a Fn+button) to turn off Wi-Fi, I received several phone calls from friends and relatives who couldn't connect to the Internet. They were pretty freaked out when the first thing I said was just "Press the button with the red light on the top-right of your laptop"...

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Ban ISPs from 'speeding up' the internet: Ex-Obama tech guru

cosmogoblin

Re: I know, I know

Only if the packets have mass in the first place, i.e. you're using electronic communication.

Using optical communications means the packets always have zero mass, no matter what you do to them. But it also means they're stuck at the speed of light, meaning that actual, real, meaningful, important laws (laws of physics) restrict their speed, so they're immune to regulation.

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