* Posts by cosmogoblin

125 posts • joined 14 Jan 2010

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National ID cards might not mean much when up against incompetence of the UK Home Office

cosmogoblin

The objections have all been to the sheer quantity of data that would be stored on said card

And the fact that the list of people who had access to said data included virtually every civil servant in the country. The proposed protection against abuse, as I recall, was "staff will be disciplined if they access information inappropriately". Hardly a strong deterrant!

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cosmogoblin

So Labour welcome immigrants, and the Tories create a "hostile environment".

Wonder why they believe most immigrants would be Labour voters...

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cosmogoblin

Well said. An ID card is a long way from an extensive database, and it's a shame that Labour tried to conflate the two - it always looked like the ID cards were a front, a smokescreen. First "it's just a bit of plastic", then "it won't be a central database of everything" (that's technically true if your database is distributed across multiple servers...). Now the ID card itself is tarnished with the autocratic "citizen database" concept in the public eye.

But an ID card - just an ID card - would have been very useful to me when attempting to prove my identity to corporations, from landlords to the local public library, who insist on seeing a paper landline bill with my current name and address on it. (I'm still not allowed to borrow books, because the broadband is in my landlord's name.)

That said, if my passport isn't considered sufficient proof of identity, I don't see that an ID card would be either.

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Capita admits it won't make money on botched NHS England contract

cosmogoblin

Re: Their Business Model

"... ultimately go bankrupt owing millions billions."

FTFY

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Audi chief exec arrested over Dieselgate car emissions scandal

cosmogoblin

Quite frankly, this is a pathetic argument - that obeying the law would put jobs at risk, so we shouldn't have to. It's been used plenty by truly nasty companies like the tobacco industry, and it flies as well as a penguin with lead boots.

If you have to lay off employees to pay for the cleaning up of your criminal activities, the cost of their redundancy settlements is yours to bear. Perhaps whatever fines Germany and the EU level at Audi should go to compensate those harmed by their actions - for instance their employees, and anybody who bought an Audi, or breathed in the exhaust created by one.

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Unbreakable smart lock devastated to discover screwdrivers exist

cosmogoblin

Re: Yeah - but if I am a "common criminal" I'll definitely find another non-indiegogo to pawn

When I first played Deus Ex, I found a helicopter that, when targeted, showed the help-text "Attack Helicopter".

I unloaded several clips into it before I realised it was a noun, not an instruction..

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Woman sues NASA for ownership of vial of space dust

cosmogoblin

Re: A Thriving Market of Counterfeits

"could there be freight charges involved?"

Reminds me of the towing invoice for Apollo 13

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Clock blocker: Woman sues bosses over fingerprint clock-in tech

cosmogoblin

Re: @AC

My name, job title and employer are not secret, but I still take off my ID badge before I go to the pub.

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'Facebook takes data from my phone – but I don't have an account!'

cosmogoblin

They did.

Facebook Home

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Sysadmin hailed as hero for deleting data from the wrong disk drive

cosmogoblin

They do say that a person's ability with computers is in direct proportion to the scale of cockups they produce ...

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US Congress mulls expanding copyright yet again – to 144 years

cosmogoblin

Re: Copyright, Patents all screwed.

If I create and release a song, I* get money not just for the original performance, but every time it's used by anybody anywhere (outside of private homes and earbuds), for the rest of my life.

But I'm not a singer, I'm a physics teacher. If I come up with a great analogy that helps a student understand an equation, and they go on to use that understanding in their future job, do I get to claim 10p every time they use the equation?

Of course not - and neither should I. I get paid for teaching those students this year, and I get future money by teaching different students; musicians should get their future money by writing and singing new and different songs. The idea that you did something decades ago and therefore have the right to be paid for it today is not something that exists in most industries.

* Not actually I, of course, a bunch of copyright trolls instead, but ignore for the sake of analogy

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Whois privacy shambles becomes last-minute mad data scramble

cosmogoblin

So people have known about a major change for ages, but not put into place systems to deal with it, or even agreed how those systems should work or what they should achieve?

At least this is a unique case, and nothing like this could possible happen again, ever. And definitely not on 29 March 2019.

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Real fake scam offers crypto-coin to replace frequent flier points

cosmogoblin
Black Helicopters

Bitcoin seemed like such a good idea - with a few obvious problems, which may or may not have been solveable (eg preventing tax evasion). In the good ol' days, it was a replacement currency which could not be controlled by corrupt governments.

And then - like everything from fiat currencies to houses - it was corrupted by investors and venture capitalists. Starting with Etherium, what began as a form of fully-democratic money, almost a digital version of a pre-market barter economy, became instead yet another investment opportunity, creating bubbles and speculation which is ruining (has ruined?) it for the ordinary folks it was intended for.

In response to the frequent news headline "Should I invest in cryptocurrency", I offer the answer: NO. It is a currency, not an investment. Its purpose is for interpersonal trade, not speculative profit. "The Markets" have no business getting their corrupt, grubby paws on it.

But people have said that about houses for decades now - they should be homes, not investments - and nobody has taken any notice. I don't hold out much hope.

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Privacy group asks UK politicos to pinky swear not to use personal data for electioneering

cosmogoblin

Re: It's your Count that Votes...

not.known, your post makes a lot of sense. Trouble is, this falls down in practice, on two points:

(1) Researchers discovered (years ago) that with just 150 "likes" on Facebook, they can predict your behaviour more accurately than your spouse. I suspect that just from the language, phrasing and grammar of your posts, they can get a pretty good idea of your voting preferences.

(2) Much more importantly, people like CA don't care about you. They only care about the majority. Not even that, in a parliamentary democracy - they just need to identify a sufficient number of potential swing voters. They might never have heard of you, or processed a single byte of information about you - but when they swing 5% of the electorate to favour the party you despise, you've still got to put up with the election results.

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People like convenience more than privacy – so no, blockchain will not 'decentralise the web'

cosmogoblin

Re: Spot on

"The only thing people value is other people they want to talk to are on the same network"

I'm not convinced, nor am I convinced that people on Gmail prefer their friends to also use Gmail. People want to do social things - it's the things they do, and the people they do it with, that they care about. Services, not providers

I don't know, or care, what phone network my friends are on (or myself, without opening my phone and checking) - I can just call them, and interact the same whether they're on my network or not. If that was true for Facebook and Twitter (spoiler alert - it isn't) then people might talk about how their social or microblogging PROVIDER was better, but since they're talking to you on the same SERVICE, they (probably) won't be urging you to switch.

Incidentally, I much prefer Google+ to Facebook. It's so peaceful over here...

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Password re-use is dangerous, right? So what about stopping it with password-sharing?

cosmogoblin
Unhappy

Re: Rather than big tech 'blabbing n slurping' even more

mmm, what does "loyal" mean, though? It can run the gamut from "slavering defense if Zuck commits murder" through to "forced to keep my login so I can check a work-related page once a month". Anybody who is loyal, in the traditional sense of the word, to a multinational corporation that couldn't care less about individual users, is stupider than the average bear.

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cosmogoblin
Facepalm

Re: Holy crap

As the go-to techie for most family, friends and colleagues, it's certainly frustrating when you're asked what to do, spend your own time researching the best advice for that particular person's abilities and idiosynracies, and then be told that they don't want to do it that way. WHY DID YOU EVEN ASK ME??? I've found a method that's easier AND better for you, collected all the hardware and software, and written full instructions - if I knew you were going to ignore it, I could have spent the time rewatching my Monty Python DVDs...

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DIY device tinkerer iFixit weighs in on 15-month jail term for PC recycler

cosmogoblin

Yes, installing an operating system at all exposes your PC to malware and other forms of cybercrime. Although of course, some operating systems are worse than others Microsoft naming no names.

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Facebook furiously pumps brakes on Euro probe into transatlantic personal data slurping

cosmogoblin

Re: Quite the opposite

I think you meant highest common factor.

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Can't log into your TSB account? Well, it's your own fault for trying

cosmogoblin

That's 2.8 minutes of my life I'll never get back

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Chrome 66: Get into the bin, auto-playing vids and Symantec certs!

cosmogoblin
Facepalm

Re: Paranoid or secure?

Big Brother is watching you ... because he cares.

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Oh bucket! Unpack the suitcases. TRAPPIST-1 planets too wet to support life

cosmogoblin
Joke

Buckminster Fuller likes geodesic domes? Who'd have thought?

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Cambridge Analytica CEO suspended – and that's not even the worst news for them today

cosmogoblin
Big Brother

Re: Tried explaining to my SO what was going on this week

The thing that really worries me about FB is that deleting your account makes no difference. You don't need to have signed up for others to tag you, building up a profile of a person who has never been a user, but even that doesn't really matter. The truly terrifying thing is that FB have unprecedented analysis of all human behaviour. With just a few data points - which don't even need to be from FB - they and their partners can analyse your behaviour, compare it to their database of a third of humans, and predict and influence your opinions and actions. If you use a computer, FB own you.

See this news article from 3 years ago

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User stepped on mouse, complained pedal wasn’t making PC go faster

cosmogoblin

Re: Reminds me of a story

Exactly. The cursor and mouse are separate, and a teacher shouldn't assume that they can use the shorthand of pretending they're the same with brand new students.

After reading this story, it took me only a few seconds to come up with a game I think would help - a variation on the "wire loop" game (where you hold a metal loop and move it along a winding wire, avoiding letting them touch). Use the mouse to move a sprite around a maze without it touching the sides, and click when you reach the end. 5 levels, increasing in difficulty, should give almost anybody the basics - and help to embed the concept of physical objects equating to virtual ones.

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Trans-Pacific Partnership returns, without Trump but more 'comprehensive'

cosmogoblin

Re: Here we go again...

That's why we have political journalists - even El Reg - whose job is to read these things, explain them, and then summarise the pros and cons as that journalist/publication sees them.

Sure, it's biased, but there are lots of journalists with different biases, and a biased but informed opinion is better than no opinion at all. Anybody who disagrees is able to read the original source, or at least the parts that interest them.

And besides, "hardly anybody would read it" is not a reason to deliberately choose to conceal the information.

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PACK YOUR BAGS! Two Trappist-1 planets have watery oceans, most likely to be inhabitable

cosmogoblin

Re: Comment about the artwork...

And in fact, on any planet, the dominant star will appear white to creatures that evolved eyes while living on said planet.

Actually I imagine that humans moving to a truly red environment would adapt pretty quickly to perceive it as white - given that we can adapt to wearing "upside-down glasses"!

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cosmogoblin
Happy

Re: Comment about the artwork...

You NERD!!!

Thanks for the work - I was going to do this, you've saved me a lot of effort!

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Death notice: Moore’s Law. 19 April 1965 – 2 January 2018

cosmogoblin

Back in the 8-bit days of 64kB of RAM and no HDD, programmers learned to make neat and optimised code to work within the constraints. As memory increased, these skills withered and atrophied.

I had high hopes for smartphone apps - with so many cheap Android phones having less than 100MB, would developers relearn efficient design? The answer is yes and no: I have a lot of fairly complex apps by small studios that take up a few hundred kB. But the big developers seem incapable of doing the same. How is Stellarium 43MB and CoPilot 57MB (without maps), but Kindle is a whopping 339MB? Why is the Google search app larger than any graphical game I have installed?

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'The capacitors exploded, showering the lab in flaming confetti'

cosmogoblin

Re: Improbable

I teach physics, and one common GCSE question is "What is the mains voltage?" The "correct" answer is 230V, if you write 240V you'll lose the mark. Few kids are interested in why it's changed, so I just warn them to ignore their parents if they use the "wrong" value.

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FBI says it can't unlock 8,000 encrypted devices, demands backdoors for America's 'public safety'

cosmogoblin

Re: 1234

You honestly think he has the attention span to type a four-digit code every time he tweets?

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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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