* Posts by Thoguht

415 posts • joined 10 May 2011


While USA is distracted by its President's antics, China is busy breaking another fusion record

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Re: That reminds me

What's happening is that Rossi persuaded financial heavyweight Neil Woodford to invest a reported £32m of his customers' money in it. I know you don't make money without taking risks, but this seems too big a risk to be taking.

The general view though seems to be that although it is indeed a tremendous risk, it only constitutes 0.5% of the fund that holds this investment, and if it did turn out actually to work then it would make trillions so it's worth a flutter.

Microsoft offers cloud to Baidu, gets autonomous car in return

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Ford SYNC now uses QNX Neutrino OS.

New work: Algorithms to give self-driving cars 'impulsive' human 'ethics'

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Re: yeah, i'm not quite ready

My Ford Focus which can supposedly read speed limit signs sometimes reads the signboards of passing petrol stations or phone numbers from the backs of lorries and then swears that the speed limit is 100mph or more.

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Re: Mind my ass

Nah, you're OK with swans as, despite being royal property, they are still beasts fera natura.

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Mind my ass

Any algorithms would of course need to take account of local laws, which means in the UK the car would have to be able to tell whether the potentially colliding object was a horse, cow, ass, mule, sheep, pig, goat or dog before framing a course of action.

If we're talking about hitting people, though, I'd go for maximising the QALYs. A bit tough if the car swerves to avoid a baby in a buggy and then as a result mows down a small group of pensioners, but that's life. Or death.

Civil rights warriors get green light to challenge UK mass surveillance

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Re: Liberty

"If you separate out the [wolves] and make them the sheep dogs, the sheep will never give you trouble."

Starship Troopers, Robert Heinlein

Murdoch's £11.7bn Sky takeover referred to competition regulator

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I'm sure I can remember the good old days when mergers got referred to the regulators if the combined company would end up with a presence in more than one medium, let alone all of them.

FOIA documents show the Kafkaesque state of US mass surveillance

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To Constitute or not to Constitute...

I'm not sure what's worse - living in a country with no written constitution or living in one with a written constitution that's ignored with impunity by those in power.

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

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I can't quite see what the problem is here. If you make AI-based chess software, would you expect it to have to work out the rules of chess and the relative values of the pieces by itself? Or for a self-driving car AI, would you expect it to learn how to drive by eventually working out that it's better for it not to cause accidents?

Labour says it will vote against DUP's proposed TV Licence reforms

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"The Conservative Party manifesto simply says it will ensure pensioners receive free TV licences."

No it doesn't. It says that it will keep free TV licences for the over-75's for the current parliament.

Do cops need a warrant to stalk you using your cellphone records? US Supremes to mull it over

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Re: What a Mess

Your cart is before your horse there. Of course any legal system must protect the innocent from criminals, but it must not do so at the expense of the innocent being unjustly and arbitrarily regarded as criminals.

This is the essential point of "probable cause" - it means you have to have built a case against someone before you can go gathering private information about them, rather than just going fishing for information that may or may not suggest criminality. The latter is far easier than the former, so of course it's the favoured solution of hard-pressed, overworked law enforcement officers. It's a damn difficult circle to square, which is why, finally, the right thing has happened and it's gone to the Supremes.

UK ministers to push anti-encryption laws after election

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Re: She is watching you

And you expect me to click on that link? How do I know that Windows gif libraries haven't been already been backdoored?

And I'm fresh out of tinfoil, too.

Media players wide open to malware fired from booby-trapped subtitles

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Re: Will they ever learn?

Nobody said anything about subtitles normally containing executable code, presumably it's an unchecked buffer in some subtitle library that allows a malformed subtitle string to be executed. And just because something is formed from even 8 bit printable characters that doesn't mean it can't be executed, for example, the standard EICAR "test virus":


ZeniMax: Thanks for the $500m, Oculus. How about you, Samsung?

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The $500m Oculus? Sometimes even two commas are not enough.

America 'will ban carry-on laptops on flights from UK, Europe to US'

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The last time I flew into Melbourne I had to take my shoes off. Mind you, this was at the peak of the UK foot and mouth epidemic so they were disinfecting all pommie footwear.

RBS is to lay off 92 UK techies and outsource jobs to India – reports

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In some industries, companies could rightly be criticised for offshoring on the grounds that, although they are exporting their own jobs, they are relying on other companies not doing the same so there's still someone left to buy their products in this country. However, the banks have worked out that this doesn't apply to them because even the unemployed need bank accounts these days.

And yes, I am currently an RBS customer, but not for much longer.

Boffins Rickroll smartphone by tickling its accelerometer

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Re: Hang on a mo...

The whole thing has been misunderstood by El Reg, what they are doing is controlling the accelerometer's output by using sound. So if you have software which is using the accelerometer's output like a fitness tracker or pedometer app then you can spoof the amount of exercise you are getting.

Firefox 52 kills plugins – except Flash – and runs up a red flag for HTTP

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Re: "The browser will now only run Flash"

I've been submitting tax returns quite happily for years without Java on my system - sure you aren't mixing it up with JavaScript?

Pai, Pai, Mr American spy: FCC supremo rips up privacy protections for broadband punters

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Not so clean...

Because (perhaps unknown to the writer of this article), "pai pai" is Japanese slang for a woman with large breasts.

Forget quantum and AI security hype, just write bug-free code, dammit

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What would really help is people not using programming languages that trivially permit things like unchecked buffer overflows. Like the C language family, for instance.

Tokyo 2020 Olympic medals to be made from old electronics

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Do the math

So, if a typical phone contains say 0.03g of gold*, it's going to take over a million of them to get 40 kilos. Sounds a lot, but seeing that well over 30 million phones are sold each year in Japan, it would only take a few percent of users upgrading to donate their old models to get the required quantity.

* This figure is based on a 2011 estimate for the iPhone at 0.034g but then reduced to take account of the fact that gold is getting too expensive these days so it's gradually being replaced by other metals where appropriate

Watch: MIT's terrifying invisible gel robo-eels snatch live fish

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Re: Those hydrogel 'robots'

It's a robot in exactly the same way that Seoul National University's robotic water striders are robots.

Verizon is gonna axe its 'unlimited' data hogs

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Re: To all the wireless carriers...

"Unlimited" doesn't mean "infinite", it just means there are no pre-set limits. It's simply infantile to say you're going to ignore contractual details.

Top cop: Strap Wi-Fi jammers to teen web crims as punishment

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Given how tall some kids are these days, if you strap the jammer to their ankle then it would need at least 3 metres range in case they hold their connected device above their heads.

Barcodes stamped on breast implants and medical equipment

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Re: Implants to have ID numbers on them.

In the US, this has been standard practice for years. And not just for implants, but for everything in the operating theatre right down to swabs. Everything is scanned in and then scanned out - that way you can be sure you haven't left something inside the patient that shouldn't be there.

Galileo! Galileo! Galileo! Galileo! Galileo fit to go: Europe's GPS-like network switches on

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Re: @Lee D

Actually Lee D is correct in that Galileo ISN'T a read only system if you have enough money as the satellites also carry search and rescue beacon receivers. Once a distress beacon is received, the Galileo system will broadcast an acknowledgement to the beacon encoded in the L1 signal.

Plastic fiver: 28 years' work, saves acres of cotton... may have killed less than ONE cow*

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Polymers are made ultimately from petroleum, which is largely made of animals (zooplankton). When I pointed that out to my vegan daughter she replied that it didn't matter because those animals had died of natural causes millions of years ago. So apparently this somehow makes a difference.

No super-kinky web smut please, we're British

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Re: Spanking or caning that leaves a visible mark is out, as well as anything involving urination

It's only things classified as "sex works" that can't contain spanking/caning/urination, etc. If it has a standard 18 certificate then very few things are totally forbidden.

Microsoft plans St Valentine's Day massacre for SHA‑1

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Re: Fart in a space suit

I thought it was supposed to be a Volkswagen, not a space suit. Still, I suppose that's an emissions scandal of an altogether different order.

'Pavement power' - The bad idea that never seems to die

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Actually the article does talk about energy as well as power, but confusingly refers to "Watt seconds" rather than Joules. I suppose this is because home energy consumption is traditionally measured in kWh rather than MJ.

UK Home Secretary signs off on Lauri Love's extradition to US

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It's the people running the systems that allegedly got pwned so easily who should be on trial and Lauri Love should be chief witness for the prosecution.

Red squirrels! Adorable, right? Wrong – they're riddled with leprosy

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Re: Given how easy it is to cure leprosy these days

Yes, it's easily cured as long as you can medicate the little critters every day for 6 months to a year.

Brit ISP TalkTalk scraps line rental charges

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Why even lock-in contracts at all?

Why can I change my gas or electricity supplier at will, but there is a 1-2 year lock-in period on broadband? Internet access isn't just a utility, it's a human right these days.

United States Air Force grounds F-35As after cooling kit cracks up

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Re: Hang on a minute...

Why don't they just use the fuel itself as a coolant like they did on the SR-71 Blackbird?

What the hex is up with Jupiter's North Pole?

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You can find hexagonal features in the eyes of some terrestrial hurricanes, so presumably it's a fluid dynamics thing.

Researchers crack homomorphic encryption

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I could be wrong about this, but isn't the idea of homomorphic encryption to let software work on data without DEcrypting it? So, for example, I can write an app that updates a cloud database without at any point leaving any unencrypted data lying (or flying) around.

Ten-trillionths of your suntan comes from intergalactic photons

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Bathe in the warmth for trillions of years?

Damn, you mean I won't be able to get a startan?

Thieves can wirelessly unlock up to 100 million Volkswagens, each at the press of a button

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Re: Just give me a physical key, please

"In a keyless car it should actually mandated they have the same sort of kill switch installed"

The engines of keyless Fords can be turned off by pressing and holding the Start button, or by pressing it quickly three times.

Windows 10 Anniversary Update: This design needs a dictator

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Under construction?

If you find a country with lots of houses that are still apparently under construction, one reason may be that you don't pay taxes on it until it's complete.

This is how the EU's supreme court is stripping EU citizens of copyright protections

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Re: Hyperlink

Quite so, in exactly the same was as if I publish a map of London, I am giving precise directions on how to get to the Bank of England and the Crown Jewels.

I spy a secret High Court: We're no 'star chamber', it says in 4-year report

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You would say that, wouldn't you.

Brit twitchers a-tizz at bearded vulture sighting

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Re: Bloody hipsters

Are you implying that twitchers are hipsters or do I misunderstand you? The twitchers I know drink tepid PG Tips from thermos flasks.

A cracked window on the International Space Station? That's not good

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Cracked windscreen

Hello, is that Autoglass?

Ah, um, the location of the vehicle? Right.

What do you mean, you don't do Earth orbit?

How much faster is a quantum computer than your laptop?

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Re: Wrong question

Of course, quantum computers are fantastic for gaming. No more agonizing about which path to take or which weapon to use, you can make all possible choices at the same time and then select the best outcome.

Picture this: An exabyte of cat pix in the space of a sugar cube of DNA

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Re: This is all fine until

Since the base pairs correspond to the binary data of the encoded document and therefore you could create any arbitrary sequence of pairs during the process, I'd be more worried about my document actually BEING a virus and wiping out humanity.

Microsoft to make Xamarin tools and code free and open source

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Xamarin for free?

Had to double-triple-check the date of the article.

Hackers demo prototype security scanner that thinks like a human

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Yet another person trying to write Alan Turing out of history.

We're doing SETI the wrong and long way around, say boffins

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Re: Here's looking at us

Surely every child knows the story of Glodislock and the Three Reabs? You know, the one where Glodislock finds a mysterious little magma bubble, goes inside and finds three bowls of lava? :::-)

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Here's looking at us

Guygals, guygals, I've found this great-looking exoplanet circling a yellow star just like ours, the only problem is it's well outside the Glodislock zone so I doubt if there's any nice warm magma oceans on it that could sustain life :::-(

What we all really need is an SD card for our cars. Thanks, SanDisk

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Re: Copy Protection

What do you think the "S" in "SD" stands for? SD cards have supported DRM since day 1, not that many people use it.


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