* Posts by Alister

3265 posts • joined 19 May 2010

Blade Runner 2049: Back to the Future – the movies that showed us what's to come

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Re: Good 'ole Phil

I can't find any evidence to support your claim that Terminator was based on a Philip K Dick story?

I agree that the others were, however.

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Autonomous vehicles

You attribute the prediction of autonomous vehicles to I,Robot in 2004, but Johnny Cab was in Total Recall in 1990, and there were autonomous vehicles in Demolition Man in 1993 as well

Hipster disruptor? Never trust a well-groomed caveman with your clams

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Re: Beer o'clock at Wiley's Bar, anyone?

Some days, you just know you shouldn't have got out of bed.


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Very Adams'esque

Nice bit of social commentary Dabbsy, and definite glimpses of Douglas.

Royal Bank of Scotland customers say digital services gone TITSUP

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Hi Duncan,

We just need to re-employ some of the staff we laid off in May and August, and we should have everything working again.



US Senate stamps the gas pedal on law to flood America's streets with self-driving cars

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@bombastic bob,

I suppose that accident WOULD have been avoided by a human driver? And how many accidents are avoided by ROBOT drivers by comparison?

I think you misunderstood my point. In the Tesla incident the human involved appears to have had incorrect expectations of the level of autonomy the vehicle actually had, and was therefore not paying attention to the road. He was therefore unable to avoid the accident.

Had he been monitoring what the vehicle was doing, and moreover been looking out of the windows, then the chances are he could have avoided the accident.

The original point I was making is that none of the vehicles currently available are actually autonomous, and require that the human occupant monitors and manages the journey, and has to be ready to take over if the AI surrenders.

This doesn't match the hype, and if people buy the cars on the assumption that the vehicle will drive itself, then a lot more people are going to be killed because they are not expecting to have to dig the AI out of the shit.

Alister Silver badge

I think it is commendable, and surprisingly forward thinking for governments to introduce legislation regarding autonomous vehicles before they come into widespread use.

However, I question quite why governments, not just in the US but in Europe too, are pushing the adoption of autonomous vehicles so enthusiastically.

To the best of my knowledge, none of the presently available vehicles meet SAE level 4 or 5, which means they still rely on the human occupant to take control in certain circumstances, and are therefore not able to be classed as fully autonomous.

Unless this is made unequivocally clear to the general public, and prospective owners of these vehicles, I foresee a marked increase in the sort of accidents typified by the recent Tesla fatality.

Li-quid hot mag-ma: There's a Martian meteorite in your backyard. How'd it get there?

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is that a Martian meteorite in your pocket...

...or are you just having a hot flush?


What did you think I was going to say?

Oath-my-God: THREE! BILLION! Yahoo! accounts! hacked! in! 2013! – not! 'just!' 1bn!

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Re: Oath...

However, consider the other meaning...

a solemn promise, often invoking a divine witness, regarding one's future action or behaviour.

Yeah, they didn't stick to that, did they?

Physicists win Nobel Prize for spotting ripples in fabric of space-time

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Did I just see a velvet paisley-covered Chesterfield sofa go wafting across the garden?

If not, you may have missed the herd of Perfectly Normal Beast flattening your greenhouse...

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Eddies in the time-space continuum

Ah, is he?

"Er, who," said Arthur, "is Eddy, then, exactly, then?"

Computers4Christians miraculously appears on Ubuntu wiki

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Re: Sorry @Tweetiepooh

@ Richard Jones 1.

If you click on upvote it should cancel out your erroneous downvote.

UK lotto players quids in: Website knocked offline by DDoS attack

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It could be you

No, no it really couldn't.

Geoboffins claim to find oldest trace of life in rocks 4bn years old

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Re: More fake news

well dendrochronology is as good as independent evidence and can go back 12-13000 years

It's not as unreliable as human written evidence that may not have been using the same standards of accuracy we demand today...

Just to play devil's advocate here, dendrochronology cannot help with dates in the "billions of years" category that this article is talking about.

And actually, the science of dendrochronology is based very much on assumptions made by humans, so the standards of accuracy are not exemplary, by any means.

At the end of the day, dendrochronological evidence is not based on a primary source for dates older than 1000 years or so, and is merely extrapolated from more recent samples.

Tarmac for America's self-driving car future is being laid right now

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@AC RE: Speed Limits

No, you are quite correct, broadcasting the limit direct to autonomous cars doesn't help manual drivers, but I envisaged it as being added to existing signage, rather than outright replacing it.

However you raise an interesting point that whilst ever there is a mix of autonomous and manually driven cars on the road, there is more potential for conflict over speed limits.

If it's a given that autonomous cars will always stick to the mandated speed limits, it is equally a given that manually driven cars (in general) will not, let's be honest, very few human drivers obey temporary speed restrictions, and you will have the situation where autonomous cars will all slow down to match the temporary limit, and manually driven cars will not, creating the potential for far more accidents.

Alister Silver badge

Re: What's a "self-driving car license"

No it needs to use visual clues to determine things such as temporary speed restrictions (e.g. motorways).

On the contrary, I would expect temporary speed restrictions to be broadcast direct to the car's AI, not have to be picked up from signs designed for humans to read.

Alister Silver badge

Re: Insurance-Lobbyists:

On the other hand, I didn't see any mention of liability in the proposed laws, so have they not tackled the thorny problem of whose fault it is if an autonomous car is involved in an accident?

If the intention is that the car (and by extension the manufacturer) are at fault, then insurance companies access to "black-box" data from the vehicle at the time of the incident would be required, I would have thought.

Alister Silver badge

Re: What's a "self-driving car license"

things like setting a maximum speed, even if the vehicle can reliably spot speed-limit signs

Surely autonomous cars won't rely on visual cues or manually entered speed data, but will either have that data as part of the satnav feed or a built in database of all mandated limits.

US yanks staff from Cuban embassy over sonic death ray fears

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I'm also quite sceptical about these alleged attacks, primarily because I really can't see what the motive would be.

Cuba and America have only recently re-established diplomatic relations after decades of sanctions, and I don't understand why it would be of benefit to Cuba to piss of the Americans again.

EasyJet: We'll have electric airliners within the next decade

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Re: Simple solution

How the heck are you going to run a carriage from New York to London, especially if it's hurricane season?

Very carefully...

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The other problem is that as a modern airliner flies, it gets lighter (you're burning off the fuel as you go) and thus the aircraft becomes slightly more efficient (same power output hauling less weight around). Battery-powered aircraft do not have this useful feature.

And this also means that the aircraft has a landing weight almost the same as its take-off weight, which makes it much harder to land safely.

WTH is my domain? OpenSRS and Hover down and out

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Re: "Oops! There was a problem finding suggestions for you."

'cos it makes them feel cool, and down wiv der kids, man

BOFH: Come on, PFY, let's pick a Boss

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'A blend of fast-acting stupidity and sustained release incompetence'

I liked that, it made me larf.

And oh, the missed opportunities in " quicker than you can say murder/suicide," the PFY says."

I was hoping for a return of the killer robots...

Vibrating walls shafted servers at a time the SUN couldn't shine

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Transmission Bus

Back in the early eighties, I worked on communications links for radio repeaters for public utilities and emergency services radios.

We had a rural repeater site on top of a hill, which had a microwave link to another repeater site on another hill about ten miles away. in between the two were a number of other ranges of hills, but all just low enough that line-of-sight was maintained.

This microwave link worked fine for a number of years, and then suddenly began to fail intermittently but always around the same time on a Thursday afternoon. It didn't happen every week, but say every two weeks.

After a lot of investigation, and a compete replacement of equipment at both ends, it was discovered that on one of the intervening hills was a small country lane which went over the brow of the hill more or less in line with the line-of-site link.

Off that lane was a sort of lay-by or turning circle, which was used by the local bus service to turn round at the end of one of their routes.

The buses would drop off at their last stop lower down the valley, and drive up and turn round, and then wait for half an hour before starting the next run.

Turns out that most of the time, they used a single decker bus on that route, but Thursdays were market day, so they used to put a double-decker on the route on that day. If it happened to park at a certain spot in the lay-by, it used to neatly break the line of site between the two repeater towers.

The only reason we found out about this was that we set up a temporary intermediate link (a van with a couple of dishes on it) in that lay-by whilst we were testing, and the bloke saw the bus come and park up whilst he was there, otherwise we could still have been looking!

The microwave antenna on both of the masts was at the very top of the mast, so couldn't be raised, but we managed to build an extension for the antenna on the other mast, and re-align the path just enough that it would be above the possible obstruction.

The UK isn't ditching Boeing defence kit any time soon

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Re: A curious note, thinking of the C17

Here, have another one...

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So, Gareth, are you suggesting that Bombardier should shut up and accept a 220% tax on their sales to the US, even though Boeing have no comparable aircraft to the C series, and therefore there is no valid conflict of interest?

Do you think that the British government should not protest such a blatant misuse of power?

Dome, sweet dome: UAE mulls Martian city here on Earth ahead of Red Planet colonization

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Re: Mars-like conditions?

@Rich 11

Nice one :)

I was actually thinking of this bit though:

A team will also test how to grow food under Martian conditions

which is bollocks unless you simulate the lesser gravity - plants will surely grow in a completely different manner in low gravity conditions.

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Re: Mars-like conditions?

And of course it's trivial to reduce the gravity by 62%, as otherwise you're not really replicating Mars-like conditions at all.

Playboy founder and dressing-gown wearer Hugh Hefner dead at 91

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Re: apparently...

... they had a hell of a time trying to get the coffin lid on.

Yeah, they really had to nail it hard.

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I wonder if all the models will attend the funeral in bunny-girl costume?

Yahoo! search! results!, recommendations!, ad! flinging! code! is! now! open! source!

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Thumb Up

Oath, the Verizon-owned parent of Yahoo!, has forsworn control of Yahoo!'s search code

Well played, that man!

NatWest customer services: We're aware of security glitch

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I think I wan't to withdraw!

Congratulations, that must be one of the most obscure greengrocer's apostrophes I've ever seen.

Gov contractor nicked on suspicion of Official Secrets Act breach

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So much for Free Speech.

Newsflash! In Britain, there is no explicit right to free speech.

Dyson to build electric car that doesn't suck

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Re: You miserablists

Exactly how successful does an engineer have to be in Britain before you lot will be positive about them?

They have to be dead for at least 50 years before we start to think they were any good...

Geoffrey de Havilland (died 1965) just about makes the cut...

Limp Weiner to get 21 months in the hole

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Re: Full of it?

@Big John

Okay, but I was also alluding to liberal vs. conservative politics in general. Does that not exist in Britain?

No, in Britain we have the Conservative party, who are traditionally thought of as right leaning, the Labour party, who are left leaning, and the Liberal Democrats, who are inconsequential but probably centerist.

If it does, I'd be willing to bet that the same effect applies there too, since the media there seems to be quite similar as in the US.

It depends on which bit of the British media you want to look at. The BBC is almost always toeing the party line of the establishment, which may or may not echo the views of the current ruling party.

The Times, once considered to be the most rigorously balanced newspaper, is now owned by Murdoch, along with the Sunday Times and The Sun, and they are all broadly supportive of the Conservative viewpoint.

The Daily Mail, the Independant, and The Telegraph are strong Conservative supporters. The Daily Mirror and The Guardian are strong supporters of a Labour view.

So by far the majority of British newspapers are right-wing.

Brit broke anti-terror law by refusing to cough up passwords to cops

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Re: Seriously... with the double standards

Look... if you don't like the laws of a country, then don't go there.

I'd just like to remind you that the subject of the article was a British citizen, returning to his own country.

Equifax CEO falls on his sword weeks after credit biz admits mega-breach

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Smith is due to appear before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on October 3 to answer questions about the hack. It's not immediately clear whether or not do Rego Barros will take his place.

I suppose it doesn't matter, really, they could both say "I have no recollection of these events" with equal clarity...

Twitter reckons Trump's Nork-baiting tweet was 'newsworthy'

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Thumb Up

Re: Their numbers are way WAAYY down, I'm telling you

"I never used it, well possibly once, but never been near a keyboard so couldn't really, well let me tell you.... their numbers are WAAYY WAAYY down, by the way, they won't be around much longer....We're going to build a beautiful... and Mexico is going to pay...covfefe..."

Spot on...

Deserves one of these at least

Alister Silver badge

Re: What is saddest thing is

I'm waiting for one of them to start with "My dad's bigger than your dad!"

The scariest thing is seeing supposedly adult world leaders acting like kids in a playground.

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I'd pay to see what would happen if Twitter bans Trump.

He'll post a rant on his Bebo account which no-one will ever see...

US Homeland Security Dept to collect immigrants' social media handles and more

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Re: How exactly will this work?

I think yours might just have triggered some interest already...

What's in this Monday morning storage BLT? A 12TB WD HDD, wars of words – and more

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Re: Hungry for storage news?

lovingly polishing my Snap On isn't something you're likely to catch me doing

Hem hem...

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What's in this Monday morning storage BLT?

Well, looking at the photo, it appears to be a Lady Sybil Vimes healthy option, with bacon, lettuce and TOMATO.

Microsoft: We've made a coding language for a quantum computer that may or may not exist

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Re: Nurse! My sides have split!

I bet that joke went down like a charm

Nah, it was too strange...

More than half of small firms plan on using Privacy Shield – survey

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Something we are never told is just why does the data about EU citizens needs to be sent to the US in the first place.

You might like to ask Equifax about that...

Brit military wants a small-drone-killer system for £20m

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Re: Flock of Gulls

upgrade to Mark 2, which will be thirty two years late, 450% of budget, and be a confused otter strapped to the underside of a crow.


Have one of these ------>

Alister Silver badge

If they pay me £20m, and supply me with a shotgun and cartridges, I'll happily take on the job of anti-drone officer.

Don't panic, but.. ALIEN galaxies are slamming Earth with ultra-high-energy cosmic rays

Alister Silver badge

Re: one, two, many

I'm not sure there is a corresponding Reg unit... yet!

Sysadmin tells user CSI-style password guessing never w– wait WTF?! It's 'PASSWORD1'!

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Re: Favourite

The password is "secret" was always a good one as well...

Microsoft and Facebook's transatlantic cable completed

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Ah yes, I'd forgotten kilo.


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