* Posts by Steven Roper

1859 posts • joined 10 May 2011

Roses are #f00, violets are #00f. This witty code is a boffinry breakthrough

Steven Roper

Re: From Edinburgh

Are these guys still at it? At least the've moved on from poems to jokes over the last 30 years.

I clearly remember when this same university, way back in the early 80s, produced a "sonnets" program designed to compose poetry via contextual AI rather than just randomly stringing words together (like the poems program did on my VIC-20). Although I recall that it failed rather spectacularly, I remember this event because of one rather sinister sonnet the Edinburgh program churned out at the time, that has stuck with me ever since:

For now the time draws near, that you shall fall

And so it is within my depths conceal'd,

This store keeps yet the greatest truth of all,

And to men shall it never be reveal'd.

So consider, take heed of what I say,

This day you rule, tomorrow I hold sway.

Knowing this was written by a computer spooked me back then, and looking back on it now it seems that our friends at Edinburgh presaged the RotM by a few decades!

Big blue Avatar movie spawns THREE SEQUELS

Steven Roper

"Avatar" meets "Twilight"

Oh fuck, that image just ruined the rest of my year.

If this actually happens, I would hope very much that the Great Green Arkleseizure sees to it that James Cameron suffers the same fate as Grunthos the Flatulent, and for much the same reason...

Facebook: 'Don't worry, your posts are SECURE with us'

Steven Roper

So what difference does https make?

Facebook are still going to hand over your details to governments and LEAs alike. If some feminazi on Facebook decides to step up the War on Men another notch, and I organise some opposition or argue back at her, I'd still be arrested for political incorrectness hate speech regardless. So Facebook doing this proves what exactly?

Climate change even worse than you thought: It causes war and murder

Steven Roper


Sounds to me like there's another civil liberty that needs to be removed or another tax imposed, one whose removal/imposition can't be justified by protecting children or preventing terrorism, so the old 'anthropogenic climate change' excuse is as good as any I suppose.

Kevin Bacon avoids slapped wrist after TV pipe-fatness claims

Steven Roper

"Superfast" brings back a memory

As I recall from my dim and heady childhood way back in the 70s, "Superfast" was a line of Matchbox cars (the real solid metal ones - remember those?) of which I had several examples in my toybox. I also had the associated plastic track with the loop-the-loops and the "Superbooster" car-flinger that propelled the Matchbox cars around it. I'm still annoyed to this day that my mother ended up giving it all to the church when I grew up and stopped playing with it. The collection would probably be worth thousands today.

Beam me up? Not in the life of this universe

Steven Roper
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Re: Uncertainty Principle and all that

Which is why the Star Trek transporter includes this little gadget called a "Heisenberg Compensator", of which, when asked how it worked, the Trek producers replied, "It works very well, thank you."

Microsoft introduces warning on child abuse image searches

Steven Roper

Popup blockers

This is probably not a popup in the traditional sense (as in a new discrete browser window), but a HTML floating div inserted dynamically over the page content. I've noticed a lot of sites doing this recently, presumably in response to the increasing numbers of people using popup blockers. Of course, disabling Javascript can reduce the incidence of this, but an increasing number of sites are circumventing this by simply not displaying anything at all without it.

First burger made of TEST-TUBE MEAT to be eaten on August 5

Steven Roper
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@Pet Peeve

Upvoted simply because you hate PETA. Great minds think alike!

Australia threatens Adobe, Apple, with geo-blocking ban

Steven Roper

Make VPNs legal?

Insofar as this is not quite yet the People's Democratic Republic of Australia (although admittedly it's well along the way), there is no law as yet forbidding the use of a VPN in this country. Although the way things are going there may soon be, albeit more likely as I've predicted elsewhere, some kind of business-use-only licencing system will probably appear requiring you to register and prove a requirement to use one in the normal course of business. Not just for copyright enforcement, but also in response to the reaction against PRISM and its ilk. After all, if we have nothing to hide, we have nothing to fear, right?

BOFH: Don't be afraid - we won't hurt your delicate, flimsy inkjet printer

Steven Roper
Paris Hilton

Re: The Girl on the power driven lid..

"Miniskirted operator...mid 70s"

Mate, if you haven't seen a miniskirt since the mid-70s, may I suggest you move to warmer climes. Here in sunny Adelaide the miniskirt seems to be a perennial summer fashion; hot weather trumps feminist prudery every time. One only needs to hike down Rundle Mall of a hot summer Saturday morning to cop an eyeful worthy of Buck Rogers himself!

Steven Roper

@ Oblivion62 and jonathanb

I wouldn't know how it was done on the system described, but on the Commodore 64 (the machine of my misguided yoof) redirecting the output of a for-next loop to the printer would have been accomplished by:

10 OPEN 4,4 : CMD 4

20 FOR X = 1 TO 1000000 : PRINT X : NEXT X

30 CLOSE 4

Damn me, why am I wasting brain cells remembering how to write in CBM BASIC after more than 25 years?

'First' 3D-printed rifle's barrel splits after single shot

Steven Roper
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Re: Building our own

Already done.

Google "RepRap" and drool. A completely open-source, patent-free, self-replicating 3D printer (all you need to get hold of elsewhere are the electronics) which is proving to be extremely popular and has become the default standard for 3D printing.

Once you have one, it's trivial to use it to make more for all your friends. It's a self-replicating replicator (or the first step towards one anyway!)

Comet ISON seen eructating 300,000km-long methane and CO2 BELCH

Steven Roper

And of course, we Aussies are to be denied pretty much all of the fireworks, since the damn thing is set to pass directly over the North Pole. I mean, what part of "ecliptic plane" do these buggers not understand?!?

WD: Enjoying our $630m, Seagate? Let's ruin your day with our results

Steven Roper

With regard to WD vs. Seagate, I have over the last 10 or so years been privy to a singular phenomenon between a friend and myself. Now I am a WD man, have been for ages, while my friend swears by Seagate. And we both have good reasons for being the way we are.

Every single Seagate drive I have bought, since 2005, has gone bad within six months of purchase. It's not a batch issue either; the last one was in 2010, and it started showing sector errors within 3 months. Yet I've never lost a WD drive; the only reason they get replaced is because I need a bigger drive and only have so many drive bays on my system. - so I have close to a dozen still-working WD drives in my spares box.

For my friend, the opposite is true. Every time he's bought a WD drive, he's had to replace it within the year. For him, that last one was last year. Yet he's never had to replace a Seagate drive, except, as with myself, when he's needed more storage space.

It's not a "you must have gotten one from a bad batch" issue, because the phenomenon has been manifesting for nearly a decade for both of us, involving drives from multiple sources and vendors, both internal and external, over many years. Maybe it's just an extremely improbable coincidence. Maybe there's some self-perpetuating psychic drive-busting phenomenon at work. Possibly it's even confirmation bias (have I ever mistaken a Seagate for a WD or vice versa?)

All I know is, I'm damn sure that every Seagate I've bought has gone bad while every WD has lasted its term, while for my friend the opposite is true. We both relate our experiences whenever it comes up, as a demonstration of the folly of brand loyalty and living proof of YMMV!

E-shopkeepers stabbed with SQL needles 'twice' as much as other sites

Steven Roper

Re: Bobby Tables

Exactly. So here I'll post some code that prevents this kind of attack for anyone who hasn't yet figured it out for themselves. I'll even give it away free for anyone to use!

define (MAXLEN_FIELD, 255); //or however many characters long your field is if it's text

If the element being stored is numeric:

$db_array['field'] = isset($_POST['field']) ? (int)($_POST['field']) : 0;

or if it's text:

$db_array['field'] = isset($_POST['field']) ? substr(mysql_real_escape_string($_POST['field']), 0, MAXLEN_FIELD) : '';


if (mysql_query ("INSERT INTO table (field) VALUES ('".$db_array['field']."')")){

$message = "Data stored successfully";


$message = "There was a problem storing your data";


echo $message;

This will protect you from the vast majority of SQL injection attacks as well as truncating over-long strings (such as might be used in a buffer overflow attack). It's not that hard.

Laser-wielding boffins develop ETERNAL MEMORY from quartz

Steven Roper

So that'll be another bunch of students grinding their pieces of paper then

When I see the words "[Name] University" and "crystal storage technology" in the opening parts of a story I know that graduation time is on the way once again. The tropes are so obvious they've become cliched:

1) It uses crystalline holographic-type technology;

2) It uses LAZERZ!!!

3) It offers orders of magnitude more storage space than we have now;

4) It's orders of magnitude faster;

5) It's orders of magnitude longer-lasting.

Oh please. I wish they'd come up with something new to tease us with; watching the same Star Trek: University episodes year after year is getting a little hackneyed now.

Ok, on to what this is really about: the Class of 2013 needs a subject for their theses so they can get their degrees. So they come up with yet another fantasy sci-fi holographic crystal storage device that promises the moon, like the ones covered by El Reg every year since day dot, and which will, once the pieces of paper have been handed out and the caps tossed in the air, be stuffed into an archive box and buried in the University's basement along with all the other pie-in-the-sky technologies we keep hearing about but never materialise.

And once said students have their pieces of paper, they no doubt will all head off to their cushy jobs flipping burgers while a few lucky ones will become government IT consultants and the like. Meanwhile, we will continue using the same spinning rusty discs and CMOS chip based storage technology we've been using since the 70s, because none of these classroom fantasies ever see the light of day once graduation is over.

Yawn. Call me when it gets out of the classroom and onto a factory floor, please.

Sammy had Sweet Fanny Adams to do with Swiss Fanny madam's blast

Steven Roper


You are Adria Richards and I claim my £5.

Planetary paparazzi snap candid pics of Earth, Moon from space

Steven Roper

Pale Blue Dot

Another fantastic image from Cassini, putting our tiny world into perspective. Once again, I am reminded of the the words of the great Carl Sagan, and his "pale blue dot" speech which never fails to choke me up and bring tears to my eyes, every time I hear it.

For me, the moment of clarity is when I hear the one sentence from that speech which is the crux of the whole thing: "There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world."

Darth Vader's old gaff awaits exogorth desert DUNE DOOM

Steven Roper

Re: Shai Hulud

"May He keep the world for His people."

1.5 MW 'demonstrator' solar plant hits the grid

Steven Roper

Now this is the way to go.

Instead of covering our beautiful and picturesque hills with ugly, noisy. scenery-destroying and eye-polluting windfarms, cover the flat, sceneless outback desert with solar cells. Far more efficient, far more productive, and far less destructive of our pleasanter areas.

One only needs to look at the butchery of the coastline around Cape Jervis (35°34'03" S 138°08'02" E) and the hills near Snowtown (33°46'23" S 138°08'11" E) to appreciate what eyesores these windfarms are. Putting solar panels out in the desert where they're in nobody's way and do a far better job of generating power, is a much better way of generating sustainable energy.

New moon discovered around Neptune brings total to 14

Steven Roper

It isn't a Death Star either, since it's only 19 km in diameter, the Death Star at ~160 km diameter (for the Alderaan-busting one) would eat that small moon for breakfast and not even notice...

Ad man: Mozilla 'radicals' and 'extremists' want to wreck internet economy

This post has been deleted by a moderator

PM writes ISPs' web filter ads for them - and it must say 'default on'

Steven Roper

@Dr Dan Holdsworth

"Block it, and big business will scream blue murder."

For now. As more and more people start using VPNs to hide their copyright-infringing and porn-surfing activities, they will come under greater scrutiny. We've already seen the start of this with Visa and Mastercard refusing to process payments to some VPN providers.

Ultimately what I can see ending up happening is that you'll eventually need some kind of "business licence" to use a VPN, and if you're detected using one without a licence (e.g. by sniffing your traffic and finding it encrypted to a specific domain all the time) you'll cop a hefty fine.

Of course, getting a VPN licence will cost a small fortune and you'll have to "reasonably prove that you require the use of a VPN in the normal course of business" or some legalese wank like that. This way, "big business" can still make use of VPNs as they need but the proles will be locked out of them and left exposed for Big Brother to spy on.

I predict the Western Nanny States (USA / UK / Aus / NZ / Canada) will introduce something like this within the next 5 years, as a greater proportion of the public cotton on to VPNs. And the endless march of the erosion of human liberties will continue...

Rap for rap chap in crap rap app flap: Jay-Z blasted by privacy bods

Steven Roper

"collected data unnecessary to the functioning of the Magna Carta app"


"deprived users of meaningful choice regarding the collection of their data"

These two points, right here. These are the core of the major problem with Android. Apps that require permissions outside their remit, and that are allowed to force such requirements as a condition of installation. (I wonder if there might be a false advertising charge there - calling them permissions when in fact they're requirements. May as well make the bastards call a spade a spade!)

Both of these points need to be countered, preferably by force of law since Google and their ilk have clearly shown they can't be trusted to self-regulate on this: 1) Apps should be required by law to demonstrate why they need any given permission, and 2) Google should be required by law to adjust Android so that a user can install an app without granting it any permissions (but if point 1 is addressed then users have no right to complain when an app doesn't work as advertised if they refuse, since it's demonstrated a need for the permission to function.) I'm right behind the EFF on this one.

US Navy robot stealth fighter in first unmanned carrier landings

Steven Roper

@ Matt Bryant

I just rewatched the Star Trek Voyager episode in which B'elanna has to go aboard a Cardassian-built, reprogrammed-for-the-Maquis, smart missile that got pulled into the Delta Quadrant and is now on its way to wipe out an innocent populated planet, thinking it's the original Cardassian target. The smart missile's computer assumes that B'elanna is being coerced by the Cardassians when she tries to shut it down, and does everything in its power to thwart her efforts.

I'd have to laugh if something similar happened to one of these drones. I'd be holding my sides if one of these things got turned arse-about-face and set off to take out the White House, dismissing all attempts to stop it as the result of its controllers acting under Chinese duress!

Oh please, PLEASE bring back Xbox One's hated DRM - say Xbox loyalists

Steven Roper

These people must be the same astroturfing fuckwads that skewed the survey indicating most Americans turned against Snowden for revealing PRISM. I'm normally against the death penalty, but there are those who sometimes convince me that the human gene pool might occasionally need chlorinating.

The other thing that shits me is this: It'll only take 8,000 signatures to get Microsoft to put back the DRM, while it took 8,000,000 signatures to get them to stop it. This is why I feel such hatred for these arseholes that support reduction of freedom - because of this social mechanism whereby it only takes one screaming fool to cause a company (or a government) to ratchet the wheel of oppression one more notch.

Apple files patent for refrigerator-magnet iPads

Steven Roper

Re: Curiouser and curiouser

"precise configurations that can be fitted into matched receptacles"

And that's what gives the game away.

It seems Apple intend to repeat the fiasco they pulled on the car manufacturers who were foolish enough to include iPod docks as factory in their cars. Now it seems the whitegoods manufacturers are going to be sucked into the same shit.

Build specifically-shaped (and patented, trademarked and copyrighted) holes on the front of their appliances, sell a shit load, and then change the design of the slot so if you upgrade your iWank, you have to buy a new fridge as well.

'Clippy' coup felled by Microsoft twitterati

Steven Roper


That photo of Clippy looks suspiciously like a kick bag. Perhaps Ballmer got tired of replacing chairs while practicing his kung fu...

Giant human-powered quadricopter wins $250,000 Sikorsky Prize

Steven Roper

Leonardo, you WERE right on the money!

400 years after your groundbreaking designs, your dreams are vindicated. Man-powered flight is now a reality. The flying machine just needed to be... a tad bigger... than what you envisaged!

Daddy-o, you're all wet... baffled by your own kids on the web - survey

Steven Roper

Re: Parents can't figure out what their kids are up to

I can't say I bloody blame today's kids for wanting to hide their activities from their parents and other adults. Shit, I did as a kid, the last thing I wanted was for Dad to find out I was out egging cars and torching letterboxes...

Today's kids have even more reason to hide their activities. When you read reports about kids being punished for hugging each other on school grounds and arrested for making snarky Facebook comments or merely eating a biscuit into the shape of a fucking gun, I wouldn't be surprised if the commonest emotion felt by our youth towards our politically-correct helicopter-parent generation was one of cold, unforgiving hatred and distrust. I certainly couldn't blame them for it if they did.

China prepares to lift 13-year game console ban – report

Steven Roper
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Re: Why not protect their jobs?

Unfortunately none of the smart countries speak English as their first language.

Steven Roper

Re: Difficult to believe

A couple of friends and I still play Age of Empires II faithfully every Wednesday night during our LAN sessions...


Steven Roper

...or anything resembling an argument.

Ok, MIc, here's an argument for you, using the time-honoured car analogy.

Many years ago, I and most everyone else on this forum learned, as part of their growing-up process, how to operate a motor vehicle. Motor vehicles all operate on approximately similar principles; direction is controlled by rotating a wheel who axis is approximately parallel to the long axis of the vehicle (or for large vehicles, parallel to the vertical axis), gear change in most cases is effected by moving a stick mounted vertically above the drive train or horizontally behind the steering wheel, a pedal activated by the right foot increases speed, while a pedal activated by the left foot decreases speed. In some cases a third pedal, also activated by the left foot, separates conjoined gear wheels so they can be shifted to match different ratios, allowing the vehicle a greater speed range.

Along with these principles are an associated set of rules one must abide by; a black number on a white round sign surrounded by a red border indicates the maximum speed you're allowed to go; you must stay on one particular side of the road (the left in the UK, Australia and Japan, the right everywhere else), a red circle with a white horizontal bar means you can't drive this direction; a red octagon with the word STOP in white letters means bring your vehicle to a complete halt until you've ascertained there's no opposing traffic. And so on, and so on.

Understanding all these principles requires considerable study and practice. This is why drivers go through stages of learning and provisional licences while they acquire the skills and experience necessary to safely operate a motor vehicle in public. The process takes years, and costs a lot of money.

Now, all of a sudden, some bright spark at, say, Ford or Toyota decides, for no reason other than wanting to make a mark on history, that these time-honoured and widely understood principles of driving no longer apply, and need to be replaced with... something else.

So, he decides, let's change everything. We'll replace the steering wheel with a slider bar; let's mount the gear change stick under the driver's seat; since the driver's now steering with one hand, we'll put in a lever for the other hand that when pulled backward makes the car go faster and when pushed forward makes the car slow down (just to be different, hey!). And we'll make the speed signs bright green squares with yellow numbers, because green and yellow are his favourite colours, and let's make the stop signs blue pentagons with a stylised upheld hand, because not everyone understands the English word STOP.

So what if everyone has spent thousands of dollars and years of their lives learning how to do everything the old way? Who gives a fuck about boring shit like people's life experiences and incomes? Get with the program slackers, adapt or die! We own the marketplace, most cars on the road are made by us, so we get to decide how everyone has to drive!

Naturally, the vast majority of people get pretty pissed off about this. They refuse to buy the new cars, or they start looking for other car manufacturers who will continue to build cars with steering wheels and accelerator and brake pedals. They don't see the need to spend hundreds of dollars and months on driver training to learn what they already know all over again, just because some idiot at Ford/Toyota wants change for change's sake.

Of course, all the boys and girls just coming out of school might like the new system, because they've never done it any other way, and they don't know any better, so they start mocking and deriding all the experienced adults who understand that the time-honoured method of driving a car was developed and optimised painstakingly over decades of R&D. They think that it's perfectly fine to throw all of that experience and research and skill out of the window simply because that's the old way, man.

So instead of hunting around for car yards selling the original design, like most experienced folks are now doing, they simply go to the shiny big car yard down the road and buy the new cars, causing our bright spark at Ford/Toyota to think his new design is selling well. But then this year's crop of school escapees have all bought their cars, and nobody in the majority of the populace with any life experience is buying them, and so new car sales drop through the floor.

And anybody who spent dollars and months learning the old way cheers loudly in support of anyone who speaks up and says that the new cars are rubbish, as a way of letting both our bright spark CEO and all the inexperienced schoolkids know, that you don't just throw away people's valuable and hard-earned skills, time and money just because you want make your mark on history.

Do you understand? It's not "negativity", it's "I don't fucking see why I should just throw away everything I've ever learned and spend my next years' profits on staff retraining just because Ballmer wants a piece of Apple and Samsung's sales."

Google loses Latitude in Maps app shake-up

Steven Roper

@ joekhul

I don't have a problem with ad supported services, as long as the ads aren't too intrusive (content-obscuring Flash rollovers and frantically animated gifs are just stupid), but what I do have a big problem with is being profiled, analysed, probed for weaknesses and psychological vulnerabilities in order to be manipulated into buying something I normally wouldn't.

I'm not so arrogant as to believe I am immune to psychological suggestion or manipulation carried out by professionals who have spent years studying the workings of the human mind and how to exploit them. I know I wouldn't stand a chance against someone like, say, Derren Brown. I am aware that I have vulnerabilities and I try to protect myself as best I can - by avoiding exposure to the kind of manipulative profiling carried out by the likes of Google and Facebook as much as possible.

Unfortunately that means I have to use things like Adblock to protect myself - even though I would like to allow Google-style text-only or still-image advertising if it supported the sites I enjoy. But only if said advertising is generic and not predicated upon cataloguing and exploiting my weaknesses.

'Priyanka' yanks your WhatsApp contact chain on Android mobes

Steven Roper

PEBKAC needs an upgrade

Since so many computing devices these days involve neither keyboards nor chairs, we need a new acronym to describe the error condition formerly known as PEBKAC.

Off the top of my head, I submit the admittedly mediocre PEBSAS - Problem Exists Between Screen And Sky. But I'm sure all the BOFHs among the commentards here can do a lot better. Suggestions in reply to this comment are eagerly awaited...

US Congress proposal: National Park will be FOUND ON MOON

Steven Roper

Re: WTF?

The USA is signatory to the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies (1967), which among other things places all celestial bodies and their orbits under international law, and prohibits any state from laying claim to any celestial body or part thereof. So technically the United States is in violation of this treaty by assigning parts of the moon as 'National' Park space.

In reality, however, this treaty, like any other treaty, law, right or constitutional principle, is only as good as the ability of its proponents to enforce it. Once again, the only absolute right, in space or on earth, is the right of might, whether we like it or not. Who has the guns makes the rules.

I know I cop a swath of downvotes every time I say this, but no amount of downvoting can change this simple fact, perhaps most succinctly expressed by Napoleon's famous quote, "Le bon Dieu est toujours du côté des gros bataillons!"

Microsoft: Still using Office installed on a PC? Gosh, you squares

Steven Roper

@ Wayland Sothcott 1

I downvoted you because you're either 1) a tinfoil hatter concerned about chemtrails, or 2) making the comment about chemtrails as a way of sarcastically dismissing the concerns of those of us opposed to the cloud trend.

Either way, I disagree with your comment.

Quantum: You know how EVERYONE's moved to the cloud? Yep... us too.

Steven Roper
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Re: Is the NSA subsidizing our move to "the cloud"

I should think this business with the NSA and Snowden may drive re-uptake of personal storage devices to some extent. I'd like to see Western Digital and Seagate's quarterly sales figures in three months' time. I predict we'll see some uptick in HDD sales.

The Three Amigos offer sanctuary to cornered NSA leaker Snowden

Steven Roper

@ AC 22:21

Funny, I have the suspicion that if he'd been downvoted instead you'd be saying the exact opposite.

Samsung Galaxy S3 explodes, turns young woman into 'burnt pig'

Steven Roper

Increased energy density leads to increased risk

Battery technology today has come a long way from what it was when I was a kid. Today's smartphones are computers in their own right, and they chew a lot of juice. We complain about having to charge our phones on a daily basis, but I'd imagine if we tried to run our phones off of the kind of AA, C or D cell batteries that ran my toys as a child, they wouldn't even last that long.

Today's flatpack lithium batteries pack a lot of oomph into a very small package. If that oomph gets out all at once, it's not at all surprising that explosions and third degree burns are the result. And the more we pack into these tiny powerhouses, the bigger the explosions are going to get.

I've seen people on these forums wishing for batteries that they only need charge once a week. Now if we assume that this is because you have to charge your phone on a daily basis, you're talking about a sevenfold increase in energy density. That means, if your battery goes pop, seven times the explosion. Which, if this example is anything to go by, results in walking around with a battery capable of lasting a week being the functional equivalent of having a stick of dynamite in your pocket.

Inevitably energy density will increase to and beyond this point, but it is something to keep in mind. I personally would rather have to remember to charge my phone each day, than not have to worry about it for a week in exchange for the very real risk of having my entire leg blown off. Or the risk of having essentially the same effect on those around me as a suicide bomber!

Texas teen jailed for four months over sarcastic Facebook comment

Steven Roper

Re: We would love too.

Yes, please do secede.

Hopefully other states might even follow your example. And the resulting Balkanization of the United States would be a very good thing for the rest of the world.

Because what with this article and the one about Americans turning against Snowden, your cesspit of a country is very high on my detestation list at the moment.

US public hate Snowden - but sexpot spy Anna Chapman LOVES him

Steven Roper

Surprise, surprise

On occasion, I get asked something along the lines of "If you could have any one thing you wanted, what would you wish for?"

My stock, pat answer to any question along these lines is, "The complete and utter destruction of the human race and all its works, and the planetary gene pool purged so that nothing like us could ever evolve again."

I've received many raised eyebrows, and people shocked at my immediate answer question me as to why I would want this, or question what makes me hate the human race so much.

This article answers that question.

Health minister asks elderly patients what they think of data-sharing

Steven Roper

@Lord of Cheese

I get where you're coming from, but it isn't the "tinfoil hatters" that are your problem. It's the weasel politicians who have shares in the IT and pharmaceutical companies, who want to violate everyone's privacy while being seen to be doing something about protecting it.

You see, most people rightly say something like "I want the NHS to be able to share my data with my doctors and personal carers, but not to be able to sell it to pharmaceutical corporations." Now some slimy pollie who owns shares in said IT and pharmaceutical companies doesn't want this, so he draws up some convoluted sneakily-worded claptrap bill about privacy protection that, at a casual reading, looks like it does what people want, but in reality does the exact opposite; viz. preventing data sharing between the NHS and doctors (which makes it look like privacy is being protected) while still allowing them to sell it to pharmaceutical companies (thus filling said slimy pollie's pockets.)

So people who want their privacy protected from commercial exploitation cop the blame as "tinfoil-hatters", while the real culprits, the thieving crooks who call themselves a government, come across as trying their very best to make the opposing requirements of privacy and expediency meet in the middle, while in reality they're using weasel tactics to pass twisted laws enabling them to fill their pockets with the profits from sale of our data.

And the end result is that people like yourself, who are trying to do your job as effectively as possible, are hampered at every turn by convoluted and corrupted legislation contrived to make it look like the pollies are doing the right thing, all the while letting them continue to get away with the very exploitation the public demanded this legislation to prevent.

Credit card donations to WikiLeaks restored as Mastercard breaks ranks

Steven Roper

Re: We refuse you permission to give your money to whom you want.

I'm quite glad Visa and Mastercard are playing their hand in this bullying fashion - first with Wikileaks, now with VPN providers.

The more they do this shit, the more they drive the uptake of Bitcoin. And that can only be a good thing. For example, I'd never bothered with Bitcoin myself until my VPN provider advised me they could no longer accept payment from my Mastercard. Result: I installed a Bitcoin client, bought myself some Bitcoins, and renewed my VPN subscription that way. So that's one more person they've pushed onto Bitcoin, and now that I've finally gone to the trouble of installing and adopting it, I'll be using it wherever it's accepted, instead of relying on my Mastercard. And I won't be the only one.

So keep on kicking those own goals, Visa and Mastercard, and help drive Bitcoin into the mainstream.

BBC abandons 3D TV, cites 'disappointing' results

Steven Roper
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There was another brief resurgence of so-called "3D" around the end of the 70s / early 80s as I recall. Jaws 3 3D at the cinema set it off, and our local TV stations did a stint of 3D movies around the same time using those vile blue/red glasses which they distributed via the TV guide mags of the day.

So seems to me they try pushing this shit on the public roughly every 25-30 years or so, I suppose trying to rope in a new generation each time. So the recent Avatar craze is the third iteration, which thankfully now seems to be blowing itself out as before. At least now we'll hopefully be spared this bullshit for the next two or three decades...

Steven Roper

Re: Immersion is the key to 3D

The problem that killed virtual reality helmets was the 'elf 'n' safety nannies who 1) complained about the possibility of users blundering into things, then when that didn't get them banned, complained about the helmets being a vector for germs and lice and whatnot from multiple people wearing them. That pretty much put paid to the whole VR helmet idea, and without funding from public use to further R&D, the entire concept stalled.

I still fondly remember the "pterodactyl-on-a-chessboard" VR battle powered by two Amiga 3000s that was in the local sci-and-tech fair back in the early 90s. I still wonder how far that could have gone and where it would be today but for the do-gooders who killed the entire concept in its infancy for fear of "catching something".

Cosmic blast mystery solved in neutron star's intense death throes

Steven Roper

Re: Brilliantly apposite sub-heading

OK Uffish, some friendly advice:

Before you watch the Star Wars movies for the first time, you should also Google "Star Wars Machete Order", which will explain why you shouldn't watch the movies in order of release, or in chronological order. In short, when you watch them for the first time, watch them in this order:

Episode IV (A New Hope) - Episode V (The Empire Strikes Back) - Episode II (Attack of the Clones) - Episode III (Revenge of the Sith) - Episode VI (Return of the Jedi).

Note that Episode I (The Phantom Menace) is not in that list. That's because 1) it's utter shite, and 2) it adds nothing to the story that cannot be inferred from watching the other movies. Watching the movies in this order, called "machete order" sets up the storylines such that the big climax in Return of the Jedi is greatly intensified by the dramatic events in Revenge of the Sith, and adds a lot more depth to the characters of Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker.

If you watch the movies in machete order, the impact they'll have on you is much greater, and the story will make a lot more sense, than if you watch them in traditional order. If you want more afterwards, you can go back and watch Episode I after you've seen all the other movies, as a kind of "supplemental" movie as it were. But watch them in the above machete order first. You'll enjoy them that much more!

Samsung isn't alone: HTC profits take a huge dive

Steven Roper
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Re: Not in the mood to swap phones anymore


I've been waiting for this news to break, if only to silence the tablet fanatics ranting about how the desktop PC is dead and tablets are the only way of the future. All I can say is, welcome to the effects of market saturation! Once everyone who can afford one has one, you aren't going to sell any more - or at least, you're only going to sell at replacement levels. This is what has happened to the PC market, and it's what's happening to the tablet/smartphone market now.

The only reason IT has been a lucrative market up until now is because of the incremental advancement of the technology spurring upgrade purchasers. Contrast this with, say, transistor radios. A radio does one thing - it receives broadcast radio waves from a specified frequency, and converts those radio waves into sounds a human can hear. Thus the pocket radio reached saturation levels very quickly, because there's no real way to improve on such a simple function. A pocket radio from the 70s sounds much the same as a pocket radio from the 2000s, and does exactly the same thing.

Computers, on the other hand, for the past 30 years have been able to do more and more, have been increasingly put to more varying uses, and it is this ongoing extension of their abilities that has created an artificially long-lasting take-up market. I recall in the 80s, using a computer as a means of watching movies or listening to pre-recorded music (as opposed to C64 SID chiptunes and Amiga tracker mods) was unimaginable. They simply didn't have the memory or CPU power. I remember the first time I got an mp3 to play on my Amiga 1200 (and that was putting my 68030/68882 combo racer board through its paces as I recall!), and it opened up a whole new world of uses that had been inaccessible to computers before.

So with the increasing power of computers over the years, people continued to upgrade as new abilities were opened up by improvements in CPU, RAM and HDD capacity. After mp3 came avi, blocky and slow at first, but getting better until HD/Blu-Ray appeared. Then there was another round of upgrades to be able to play the new 720p and 1080p video, and a raft of increasingly realistic computer games (but can it play Crysis?!) Until now, 30+ years after the mass-market adoption of the first home computers, an application limit has been reached. There's nothing new that computers can do that they couldn't do 5 years ago.

My own current PC is a 2009 vintage 3.2 GHz quad-core AMD with 8GB of RAM that still does everything I need done, fast enough to satisfy my heaviest demands, and I have no plan to upgrade in the foreseeable future. This is why market stagnation has set in - just as it did with the humble transistor radio 40 years ago.

And now, it seems, that point has been reached with tablets and phones as well. At long last!

Decade to 2010 was hottest, wettest: WMO

Steven Roper

The question isn't whether or not the climate is changing. Of course it's changing. It's been changing ever since the Earth accreted an atmosphere 4 billion years ago. I'd be very concerned if it had stopped changing!

Will the ice caps melt and glaciers disappear? Probably. There were no ice caps for long stretches during the Jurassic and Cretaceous, and at other times more recently as well. There have been other times where the ice caps extended almost to the tropics. Given the lack of moisture and living space that would entail, I think we can be glad the Earth is in a warming-up phase.

No, the real questions are: How much of this warming is part of a natural climate change process and how much of it is due to human activity? As with all political arguments, people tend to move toward extremes; oil companies claim none of it is due to human activity, treehuggers claim all of it is. The reality is most likely somewhere in between, and exactly where that lies is the main issue, because it determines what we can or cannot do about it.

Acceding to the treehuggers' wishes that we should give up using technology, eating meat, and revert to being vegan cave-dwellers isn't the solution. Neither is hiking the price of electricity to the point where lighting your house becomes a prerogative of the rich. Even if we went these roads, the planet would likely continue warming, because it's still coming out of the last ice age. That means sea levels are going to rise, places like Florida are going to end up as the new Atlantis, and there's going to be lots of rain in lots more places, whether we do anything about it or not. The only thing we can do, whether we revert to hunter-gatherer or cover every square metre of the planet with wind turbines and solar panels, is slow the process down by a miniscule amount.

So rather than destroying civilisation in the name of saving the planet, we should be looking at how we can adapt to the changes that are coming. We need to look at what crops and animals will flourish in a warmer wetter climate, so we can continue to feed ourselves. We need to start moving population centres away from low-lying areas, or terraforming those areas against encroaching sea levels (like the Netherlands have been doing successfully for a long time now!) We need to start preparing for, and adapting to, the changes that are coming.

Not running around like headless chickens hoping to stop the inevitable changes by plastering windmills all over the landscape and raising electric and fuel bills to the level of the GDP of a small country.

Rest your head against a train window, hear VOICES in your SKULL

Steven Roper

Re: Marketoids: be very very careful about advertising on commuter trains...

That would explain why one well-known movie prediction never came true, against all my expectations - once the movie came out, I was expecting to see it appear on buses and trains alike within months...

"For the memory of a lifetime, Rekall, Rekall, Rekall!"

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