* Posts by Steven Roper

1859 posts • joined 10 May 2011

Dutch cops train anti-drone eagle squadron

Steven Roper

Re: Instant amputation of Eagle's feet?

"In Kazakhstan they use golden eagles to hunt wolves."

Those same people are a small tribe of Kazakhs who have lived close to the land for generations. They treat the eagles as equals, allowing them to live in their homes and share their meals. They capture and train the eagles as chicks, and as part of the training they teach the eagles to hunt and survive in the wild. Then after 4-6 years they set the eagles free. These people live in a free symbiosis with the birds.

The last thing these people need is an army of suits flocking to their little world to mob them for eagle-training techniques that will be abused and misused because the suits will take only the method they want as a means to their own ends, not the philosophy and mutual respect the Kazakhs have developed that goes with it.

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You've seen things people wouldn't believe – so tell us your programming horrors

Steven Roper

Re: @cbars

"And then, there is just plain crap, without any reason."

There usually is a reason. The most common one being a pointy-haired boss breathing down your neck after a fruitless 48-hour no-sleep debugging crawl, and he's going on about the client has insisted on deployment first thing in the morning and why isn't the system running yet?

At which point you throw your hands in the hair, comment out the bit you think is causing the problem, bung in some hardcoded sludge ending in "return true;" and snap, "Fine. It works. Can I go home and get some sleep now?"

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OnePlus ends rationing. You can now buy its phones just like that!

Steven Roper

The concept of you giving someone money and them giving you a product, and both of you going your own ways better off, is newsworthy because it rapidly seems to be becoming a thing of the past.

These days the Everything-as-a-Service paradigm seems to be "you give me money and we give you a product, but we get to spy on everything you do with it and dictate how you can and can't use it. Oh, and in addition to your fair payment you have to keep on paying us to use it as well, even though you paid for it already, and even though we have no further obligations to you."

Fuck that.

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Google DeepMind cyber-brain cracks tough AI challenge: Beating a top Go board-game player

Steven Roper

Concerning AI

To me, "intelligence" (the existential state of being, not the method of gathering information) combines several concepts, some of which have been achieved with computers, and some which have not.

1. Sentience, which is the ability to differentiate between Self and Other. This establishes a self-internalised sense of identity, the existential concept of "I am," and its counterpoint, "The universe I am not." To the best of my knowledge, no AI has yet achieved this. Yet it is this ability that forms the crux of human identity, and will form the crux of "robot rights" and related issues for a long time to come.

2. Learning, which is a function of memory linked to a decision tree. A system, living or otherwise, undergoes interactions with its environment, which we call experiences, that have positive and negative impacts on its existence. From these experiences, it builds a decision tree that allows it to avoid the causes of negative effects and to seek out the causes of positive ones. AI has achieved this to some extent, albeit only in highly specialised arenas. However a generalised learning system that can process any kind of existential experience has yet to be achieved.

3. Abstraction, or conceptualisation, which is the ability to extrapolate consequences from actions without prior experience. This is the driving force of invention. A good example is the discovery of the principle of leverage; using a long stick pinioned over a fulcrum with a short distance to an object too heavy for one to move, allows one to move it. To us this may seem almost instinctive; but most other animals cannot figure it out. To date, no AI has even come close to demonstrating this component of intelligence.

4. Imagination, which is a function of abstraction. It is the ability to conceptualise that which is not, to spontaneously create, store and communicate experiences and information that one has not encountered existentially. To the best of my knowledge this facility is the province of humans alone; no animal has demonstrated a capacity for imagination. Likewise, no AI has come close to demonstrating this ability.

5. Communication, which is the ability to transfer concepts relating to sentience, learning and/or abstraction to other entities like oneself. Most animals have evolved this ability with respect to learning, but to my knowledge only humans, chimpanzees and dolphins have demonstrated the ability to transfer abstraction. Current AI has demonstrated notable ability in communicating learning, and in the case of AIs like Siri and Cortana can simulate the appearance of sentience, but they have not actually demonstrated it.

6. Recording, which is the ability to transfer information by enduringly altering the environment. In humans this is accomplished by drawing, painting, sculpture and writing. It is a groundbreaking achievement because unlike immediate (verbal/gestural etc) communication, it transcends death. Experience and existential knowledge can be passed to other entities even though the original source of that knowledge has ceased to exist. This is why we can re-experience the thoughts of Shakespeare, a man who has been dead and gone for more than half a dozen human lifetimes. AI, of course can do this via the medium of computer data storage.

So the question of whether or not we have truly achieved artificial intelligence comes down to a question of any or all. That is, if you hold intelligence to be any of the above traits, then we have achieved AI. But if you hold intelligence to be all of the above traits, then far from having achieved AI, we are likely a long way from doing so - perhaps not even in the lifetime of anyone now alive.

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Ban internet anonymity – says US Homeland Security official

Steven Roper

Think of the children

We need to agitate for a law that requires any politician, spook or cop who uses the "think of the children" excuse for any reason, to mandatorily spend a year in this schoolteacher's shoes.

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Berlin takes down ‘for sale’ sign over top Nazi’s love nest

Steven Roper

Apparently most landlords, realtors and property owners have yet to comprehend free-market economics; it's going to take a serious worldwide (not just US) property crash to hammer the lesson home to them it seems. Like the owners of this Pentagon-imitating Chinese shopping mall, which is all but abandoned because the rent is way too high and the owners are so fucking pigheaded they'd rather sit on an empty building than lower the rent to the point where shops can actually afford to set up in it.

Landlords and property owners need a serious kick up the collective bum to wake them up to the realities of the market.

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Steven Roper

Except that IIRC, Hitler and his cronies thought quite highly of Muslims; it's even probable they'd rather have seen the property given to them, than to the crop of wankers that pass for modern neo-Nazis!

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Steven Roper

Re: The PC Advocate's Dilemma

Fully agree with you, just one thing:

PC isn't a dilemma. It's simple hypocrisy.

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Map of Tasmania to be shorn of electrical, data links to outside world

Steven Roper

Re: Either that...

Son, gotta talk to ya, sit yourself down, your old man's got somethin' to say

What you orta know 'bout the the birds and the bees and to keep ya from goin' astray

'Cause there are some rules that us menfolk must follow and life on the farm'll be fine

You can bang anything that you find on the farm here, but don't touch your sister, she's mine...

- Kevin Bloody Wilson

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Stop the music! Booby-trapped song carjacked vehicles – security prof

Steven Roper

Re: I hope so

And along with "remote update" you will also get the inevitable phone-home and profiling shit - which will tell the manufacturer how far and where you drive the car, your driving style (Are you a leadfoot? Watch your insurance go through the roof when the car manufacturer sells that info to the insurance companies!) which shops you drive past regularly (which said shops will gladly pay to find out) and even where you work, live and play. As to the privacy protections on said data, well... need I say more?

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US rapper slams Earth is Round conspiracy in Twitter marathon

Steven Roper

Re: The thing to do with these kooks

"You're not one of those gullible people who believe there are no conspiracies are you?"

Obviously there are conspiracies - the word wouldn't exist without the concept. What do you think PRISM and TIA and Ed Snowden's whistleblowing was all about? Those were real conspiracies.

But like many other things they run the gamut from the real to the ridiculous. There's the proven ones, like the NSA spying regime and the corruption of tax-evading corporate cartels; then there's the unprovable but questionably plausible ones like the CIA being behind Kennedy's assassination and the Bush administration knowing about 9/11 before it happened but doing nothing about it; and finally there's the outright Stan Deyo-level woo, such as the world being secretly ruled by chemtrail-spraying reptoids and NASA covering up evidence of polar holes leading to a hollow-world Agharti.

How far up that tree you want to carry your beliefs is entirely up to you of course, but if you want to retain any degree of credibility I recommend looking up the 7 warning signs of bogus science as a starting point to establish whether a given conspiracy is feasible or not.

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Steven Roper

The thing to do with these kooks

is to ignore them completely. Giving them exposure and engaging them in debate merely lends a veneer of legitimacy to their woo.

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Retailers urged to create 'CCTV-like' symbol to inform customers of mobile tracking

Steven Roper

Re: Not to defend the app-peddlars, but...

They're negative about this for some very good reasons.

They aren't doing this for your benefit as a customer, they are doing it to milk as much out of you as they can. As Immenseness above rightly pointed out, this means they'll use the data to figure out how to make you spend more time in their store, not less.

Furthermore, this data is retained for an unknown period of time, possibly indefinitely. The more of it they collect, the more accurately they will be able to predict - and as a result, manipulate - peoples' behaviour. We all like to think we're not susceptible to psychological manipulation, but we're pitting ourselves against experts who have spent years of their lives studying how the mind works and how to get people to behave in certain ways. And they most certainly use this data to work this out.

Anyone who thinks they're immune to the kind of exploitation this makes possible are kidding themselves. Consider this: If they know who your friends are and can match you to a demographic, they can deploy the right sales clerk most likely to get the best results. Young, male, hetero and looking? You'll find yourself being served by a hot young chick wearing a short dress. Older, female and married? It'll be a genteel middle-aged guy in a suit covered in pheromones. Unmarried lesbian feminist? Meet the glasses-and-bob-cut saleswoman who shares your belief that women are underpaid. Single middle-aged geek? You'll get along fine with the jumper-wearing bloke who remembers all the old Monty Python skits.

Now I've had to use stereotypes here to illustrate my point. The retailers don't have to, because if you've let them into your online life, they already know all your likes, dislikes, interests and avoidances. Believe me, there's no depths to which the fuckers won't sink to screw an extra buck out of you. And it all becomes possible because of the highly personal analysis they do on all the data they collect.

Finally, I know all this sounds like a paranoid rant, because it suggests that people must spend all this time poring over your profile figuring out how to exploit you individually and personally. Obviously, they don't - nobody in a busy store has time for that shit, and they don't care about you or your cats. But the analytics and profiling software does all that gruntwork for them. It reduces you to a basic rundown so a floor manager can say to a clerk, "Mel, you take care of that guy." It's the appearance of taking a personal interest in you when in fact none really exists, that makes this entire process so repugnant.

It's not just a matter of having nothing to hide and nothing to fear. With the psychological and manipulative power the retailers can bring to bear on you, it's a matter of hiding everything you can or having your every weakness exploited to the hilt. You have everything to fear.

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How to save Wikipedia: Start paying editors ... or write for machines

Steven Roper

@Drewc Re: Off the tracks

Yes, I know he has, and while I might not always see eye to eye with him on copyright issues, Andrew generally writes quite informative articles. This is the first time I'd seen him preach PC though, and from past experience on other sites this wasn't a good sign. I know Andrew isn't an SJW so I'm hoping he won't start caving in to their pressure.

I very much enjoy reading El Reg, in particular because of your dry and sarcastic sense of humour, and your willingness not to pull punches. I'm just worried that this might suffer if the humourless SJW squad get their way, because I've seen it happen elsewhere and I certainly would be upset if it happened here!

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Steven Roper

Re: Off the tracks

"Jezebel is a heck of a lot better written, funnier and on point than your tedious and massively exaggerated post."

Good, then why don't you head on over there. If that's the sort of site you like then this isn't the place for such as you.

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Steven Roper

Re: Off the tracks

Unfortunately it's starting to look like the Socjus army has discovered El Reg. If they follow the same pattern as on every other site I've seen them infest, more and more articles will start preaching about the evil white male hegemony and how it's oh-so important that women and specially selected minorities must, repeat must, be represented by quotas in all fields of advantage.

Gradually the existing writers will be replaced with SJWs, and as a result the preaching will intensify to Jezebel-like levels. There will be a certain tension arising in the byplay between writers and commenters. People will start to become afraid to speak their minds for fear of offending anyone, and comments will start to be sanitised.

Next will come the censorship; any comments bitching about SJW preaching (like this one) will end up being rejected for not being in accord with "house rules" - which will now include compliance with the doctrine of political correctness. Our usual innuendoes and sketchy asides that litter the comments threads will be pulled as "inappropriate" - that favourite buzzword of the Socjus crusaders to describe anything not in accord with their Anglophobic misandrist (see? I can use buzzwords too!) agenda.

That will be my signal for exodus, as it has been on many other sites that have fallen victim to these fucking maggots. The day I get a comment censored on the grounds of political incorrectness will be the day I end my more-than-10-year tenure of El Reg, and I will be sad to see it go, since it has been a part of my life for so long. I'm hoping against hope this won't happen, but I've seen these sanctimonious fuckwits destroy too many other fora to believe that the El Reg we've come to know and love will hold out against them forever. They're like a bloody incurable disease.

Anyone know where Lewis Page and Tim Worstall went? If they're writing for another IT rag that could well be the next place to head for...

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Net neutrality-lovin' Sweden mulls law to censor the internet

Steven Roper

Ah, we have the next bugaboo

Protecting innocent citizens against terrorists and children against paedophiles seem to have outlived their usefulness for getting everyone to support draconian policies. So last decade. And protecting us from the evils of drugs and bike gangs is so last century.

So I'm guessing protecting us all from the evils of internet gambling is to be the next big draconian-pushing bugaboo? I don't know how effective it'll be though; it doesn't quite seem to have the emotive cachet of "but think of the children!"

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dotCloud dotGone: Ex-Docker PaaS passes away amid bankruptcy

Steven Roper

Too bad if you've outsourced your company's IT to such as these

This is just one prime example of why my company will never store our data in the cloud or adopt anything as-a-service.

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Japanese chief TPP negotiator accused of taking $100,000 bribe

Steven Roper

Re: Benefits.

"Corporations will be able to sue *foreign* governments if laws they enact challenge the corporations profitability."

This aspect of the TPP alone is exactly why I hold that any politician signing it, is signing away his/her country's sovereignty to foreign powers, and is therefore legally guilty of high treason.

And they shoot traitors, don't they?

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Women account for just one fifth of the EU’s 8m IT jobs

Steven Roper

Re: "Positive" discrimination is still discrimination

"I'm south asian so I guess I counted as a "minority" right?"

Nope, afraid not. The term "minority" refers to carefully selected groups who are being exploited as tokens to advance an authoritarian social-Marxist agenda. In order to "benefit" from this kind of discrimination you have to be one or more of these tokens: female, black, and/or homosexual. Unless you are one or more of those three, you are "privileged" and therefore must be discriminated against at every opportunity.

I think Muslims are starting to be included in the PC token list, so you could try converting to Islam. Although that could get you put on a terrorist watch list or something. The media propagandists seem to inflame anti-Muslim sentiment even as they decry Islamophobia, whereas they are very unified and single-minded in pushing pro-feminist/pro-black/LGBT sentiment, so I suspect putting Muslims on the official protected-minority list is serving a different political agenda than the social-Marxist female-black-LGBT axis. Maybe encouraging social discord in order to get people to demand more freedom-destroying laws or something along those lines.

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DARPA commits to brain-computer interface development project

Steven Roper

Re: Borg

You might like to watch a movie from back in the 80s called Brainstorm. It's about a bunch of scientists who invent a "VR" type headset that does something like this. It records all brainwave patterns onto a tape which can be played back, allowing others to experience every thought, feeling and action thus recorded as though it was their own. They have a lot of fun with it at first, then start learning things about each other they'd rather not know.

Then one of them has a heart attack and dies while recording on it, and the others find the tape...

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Steven Roper

You, I like you. I like the way you think. Yep. If you can read, you can write.

You will be a good little consumer-robot. You will buy what we want you to buy, when we want you to buy it. You want this chocolate bar and you want it right now. You enjoy working 100 hours a week in sweatshop conditions under a whip-cracking pointy-haired boss for a pittance, and you feel that is a fulfilling and joyful life.

For the thousandth time, I'm glad I never had kids. Not with the direction the future is taking...!

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Steven Roper

Re: Yes, we had this after "Firefox" came out in '82...

"But you have to think in Russian!"

Which isn't that tall an order compared to DARPA's version, which will require you to think in Merkin!

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Boffins: There's a ninth planet out there – now we just need to find it

Steven Roper

Doesn't surprise me

I've long argued that there must be a large gas giant pottering around the Kuitper Belt. I could even suggest where to start looking for it - south of the the ecliptic plane, a long way south.

Why?

Because I've noticed that every single bloody long-period comet that has passed this planet in my lifetime - from Kohoutek to ISON - seems to come in from the south, swings around the Sun and thus reserves its most spectacular tail display exclusively for the Northern Hemisphere, with some even passing directly over the North Pole. It's almost as if the comets have all agreed that us pesky Australians are never to see a post-perihelion cometary skyshow, ever.

Which suggests to me, that if all these comets are coming from the south, swinging around the sun and exiting over the north, that something big, far out and far south in the Kuitper belt, could be gravitationally kicking them into the solar system from that direction.

So that's where I'd start looking for Planet IX!

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It's Wikipedia mythbuster time: 8 of the best on your 15th birthday

Steven Roper

Re: Donation..

Have an upvote for the puppy-eyes comment. That shit drives me nuts too.

I've never donated to Wikipedia. I will, though, the same day I see that Jim Wales has sold his fucking yacht in order to help fund it.

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Steven Roper

@DropBear

In essence I agree that science is hard work and that to truly understand a scientific topic you need to be able to get your head around the maths and underlying topics.

But the counterpoint is that enforcing such an in-depth approach to science excludes the vast majority of people, who don't have the time or intellectual wherewithal to pursue a scientific subject in such depth. And it is important that such people be given at least a basic understanding of the topic because, if you want funding and grants for your scientific research, you have to convince the taxpayers (that's Joe and Jane Average) that it's worth the expenditure. You do that by engaging their interest in science so that it fires their imaginations and captures their interest in a way they can understand without recourse to calculus and postgrad-level study.

One of the things I am often complimented on by family, friends and colleagues, is my ability to explain complex scientific concepts in simple, easy-to-understand language - primarily by drawing analogies. For instance, telling my petrolhead mates that the gravitational acceleration of the Earth is equivalent to a car doing 0-100 kph in 2.8 seconds, or that if you could drive a car in space at 100 kph it would take you 6 months to reach the Moon and 126 years to reach the Sun. It generates conversation on the subject and gets people interested who normally aren't bothered with that sort of thing.

And that interest translates into popular support when science needs more money for a new space probe or a bigger telescope.

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Internet of Things 'smart' devices are dumb by design

Steven Roper

Re: Home cloud?

It's not hard to do this already. Simply set up a WiFi router with no direct connection to the internet and have all your IoT shit connect to that. Then that router has a single LAN line to a second non-WiFi router that does have an internet connection. If you want additional security and filtering, the internet-connection device can be a Linux box running SmoothWall or IPCop to keep control of all the telemetry and spying that seems to be default in IoT gadgets these days.

Which brings me to my other point: a fucking photo frame is phoning home? In $DEITY's name why? Whoever came up with that should do the world a huge favour and fucking kill themselves, preferably in a slow and messy manner.

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Bigger than Safe Harbor: Microsoft prez vows to take down US gov in data protection lawsuit

Steven Roper

Pot, meet Kettle

Microsoft have some fucking face getting stuck into the US government considering their recent propensity to slurp every possible byte of data they can get their claws on from our computers!

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Friends Reunited to shut down. What do you mean, 'is it still going?'

Steven Roper

Myspace seems to be primarily used by musos and bands these days - it's a fantastic site to trawl through if you're looking for good indie, non-mainstream music.

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Spoilsport scientists unstick Spider-Man

Steven Roper

Re: and yet

Smaller creatures are also more susceptible to low-level radiation than large ones - ISTR seeing that in one of those "if humans suddenly vanished" documentaries that came out a few years ago. When our nuclear reactors break down, leaking radioactive shit all over the countryside, the show pointed out how small creatures like mice, birds and squirrels would be affected more than large creatures like moose or bears.

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Microsoft herds biz users to Windows 10 by denying support for Win 7 and 8 on new CPUs

Steven Roper

The more they push

the more people they will push onto Linux or Apple.

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Put your private parts on display if you want to keep earning a living

Steven Roper

Re: Opportunities for the over 40's

"Everyone knows the Australian wildlife takes care of stragglers well before incontinence sets in."

You, sir, are clearly not familiar with how our wildlife operates. In most parts of the world such poisonous, venomous or merely vicious creatures kill you comparatively quickly. Not so in Australia. Our wildlife doesn't kill you - at least, very rarely.

No, what our wildlife excels at is the infliction of mortal, insufferable, prolonged, Dantean-level agony - without actually granting the mercy of mere death. If you die, it isn't because of the venom, it's because the pain is so unbearable you do everything in your power to kill yourself. Even the plants can drive you to suicide!

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PDF redaction is hard, NSW Medical Council finds out - the hard way

Steven Roper

Not a user error

I would put this down to a design flaw in the PDF editor's user interface design, not the ignorance or incompetence of the document creator or user.

If the PDF editor (presumably Acrobat or whatever they're using) is giving the impression of redacting text by offering a feature to black it out, then at the very least the program should treat that as a delete-and-replace, removing the text and replacing it with the vector definition of the redaction block.

While those of us who frequent this site are mostly technically literate, it's easy to forget that your average office worker isn't, nor is it fair to expect them to be. That's what they pay us for.

Part of the art of programming and user interface design is asking the question, "When a user does this, what would most normal people expect to happen?" Finding the answers to that question and making the program behave that way is what makes an application intuitive and easy to use.

This isn't just pandering to people's incompetence or stupidity. It's actively reducing the possibility of people making mistakes like this. Therefore in my view the best remedy is to redesign the PDF editor application to actually redact the text when a redaction square is drawn over it, not to chastise or retrain all the document users.

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Boffins baffled by record-smashing supernova that shouldn't exist

Steven Roper

Re: No H or He?

"So, what's hiding beyond the horizon?"

More universe? Consider the stage of the Big Rip where England, America and Australia are all expanding away from each other at light speed. At this point, each exists in its own universe. I, sitting here in Australia, cannot see or communicate with anyone in England or America. From my perspective, you have simply ceased to exist. From your own perspective, Australia - and I - also no longer exists in your frame of reference.

I think what you would see rapidly approaching you would be an "event horizon" - a sphere all around you, like a black hole turned inside out. As it shrinks around you, the walls of the room you are in recede from you, faster and faster, becoming fainter and fainter yet with time passing slower and slower. The clock on the wall, as it recedes from you, slows down and as the shrinking event horizon reaches it, stops. Beyond it, from your perspective, is nothing - because time has stopped and everything beyond it has become infinite in duration, width and mass, and of zero length - since this is what happens to anything travelling at light speed.

Of course, at our scale this would all take place in such a minute fraction of a second that your nervous system wouldn't have time to process what was happening before it ceased to exist. But time dilation might work in your favour in those last few moments of life; perhaps the relativistic expansion of space might drag out the final moments to years or centuries.

So, what lies beyond the horizon? Me? From your perspective, I have infinite mass, width and duration and zero length; from my perspective, it's you who are thus afflicted. Could our respective "universes" even be said to have any kind of existence with respect to each other?

When we deal with the extremes of nature, with relativistic and quantum-mechanical phenomena, common sense goes out of the window. I don't have the maths to explain in better terms what happens or what lies "beyond the horizon"; only to know that just because I call it a "horizon" doesn't mean it is even an edge or boundary in the familiar sense we think of one. Like the horizon you see when you look over the sea from the beach, it has no real "location" or "distance", yet it presents an intangible limit beyond which you cannot see.

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Steven Roper

Re: No H or He?

"..."incoming from the opposite direction" component, subject to the right conditions?"

The model I've described is one possible model for the shape of the universe - a "closed" universe. Brewster's Angle Grinder above described another alternative - on "open" universe.

The "closed" universe theory can stand because since space expanded faster than light, the "wrap-around" is more than the 13.8 billion light-years away that represents the maximum distance we can observe. The "hypersphere" or "hypertoroid" the universe is mapped onto, like the 2D space mapped on to the sphere or torus in my analogy, is so vast that light hasn't had time since the Big Bang to completely wrap around it yet.

I can imagine a time, perhaps still billions of years hence, when future astronomers will eventually spot faint blue-shifted early-universe galaxies moving towards them, mirroring red-shifted early-universe galaxies on the opposite side of the sky.

That, of course, will only eventually happen if the universe's expansion is constant or decelerating. At present it appears to be accelerating. If that trend continues, it will ultimately lead to an effect cosmologists call the Big Rip.

In this scenario, the distance at which the expansion of space reaches the speed of light decreases over time, until our galaxy is all that remains in our universe because all other galaxies are moving away from us at light-speed, and therefore no longer in our relativistic frame of reference. As the distance to this "horizon" continues to decrease, our own galaxy becomes bigger than the visible universe, and stars in our own galaxy are moving away from us at light speed.

Follow this down to its terrifying conclusion: Our solar system; Neptune, then Uranus, then Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Sun, Mercury, Venus, and the Moon all vanish from our space because the expansion is carrying them away from us at light speed. Finally, you and I are in different universes because England and America are expanding away from Australia and each other at light speed. In the last fraction of a second, your feet are moving away from your head at light speed, and finally the molecules, then atoms, then even subatomic particles in your body get ripped apart by the accelerating universal expansion.

That would be an absolutely awesome way to pop your clogs. But even if it does happen, if the universe's expansion continues to accelerate, it won't be for many billions of years. Sadly that means I won't be around to enjoy buying the hyperspatial farm!

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Steven Roper

Re: No H or He?

"...at what speed was the border between space and non-space moving?"

There is no "border" between space and non-space, just as there is no "edge" of the Earth. This is the kind of weird shit where you have to try to get your head around higher dimensional spaces, so I'll try to explain in visual terms.

Imagine that you are a 2-dimensional being, like those in Edwin Abbott's Flatland. To you, there is no such thing as "up" and "down"; these concepts simply don't exist in your worldview. Your entire universe consists only of "north-south" and "east-west."

If your 2D universe is mapped onto the surface of a sphere or torus, it would eventually wrap around on itself. If you walked far enough in what seemed to you in all measurable ways to be a straight line, you would eventually return to your original position from the opposite direction in which you set out. It wouldn't matter which direction you chose - north, south, east or west - you would infallibly return from the other direction without ever apparently having changed direction - and without ever encountering any kind of border, edge or boundary.

At the time of the Big Bang in your 2D universe, the sphere or torus would be very small, and you would walk around it and return to your origin in a very short time. But then suddenly the sphere expanded hugely, and that five-minute walk suddenly became a multi-billion-year light-speed hike. But there was no edge or border you could encounter when the universe was small, just as there is no edge or border to be found when it got large.

But, you argue, the sphere does have a border - the limit of its surface. If you move along its radius, instead of its circumference, you've crossed an edge.

Yes, you have. But to do that you had to travel in a direction that, for the 2D inhabitants of the surface of the sphere, simply does not exist except in certain abstract equations. No 2D denizen can ever point in that direction and say "we could go that way!" - because the only possible ways they can see to point to all lie along the circumference of the sphere. How do you explain what "up" and "down" are to beings that cannot understand or perceive those "directions?"

Now expand this thinking into three-dimensional space - our universe. No matter what direction you fly in - north, south, east, west, up or down - if you keep going in a straight line, you will eventually return to where you started, from the opposite direction, without ever encountering any edge or border, no matter where you go or how hard you look. If there is a boundary or edge to space, it is in a higher dimension that we cannot point to or travel in. I could say to you, "you could go "hyperin" or "hyperout" - but what would those words mean to you? How do I point hyperin the way I can point north, east, or up, to direct you hyperout of the universe? Do the words hyperin and hyperout even make sense to you?

At the time of the Big Bang, the universe was very small, so if you walked for five minutes in a straight line you end up back where you started. But then suddenly space expanded hugely, and that five-minute walk suddenly became a multi-billion-year light-speed hike. But there was no edge or border you could encounter when the universe was small, just as there is no edge or border to be found when got large.

Hopefully that imagery will reveal to you the flaw in your question. :)

18
0

The Day Netflix Blocked My VPN is the world's new most-hated show

Steven Roper

"Bound to be away around this (pirate bay springs to mind but I don't mind paying for stuff, just bloody annoying when companies attack their customers like this)."

If you want to support the content creators then keep your Netflix subscription going, because part of that money goes to the creators anyway. But since you're paying for it you can now torrent the shows you want with a clean conscience, knowing you are still supporting the creators!

7
0
Steven Roper
Pint

Re: Free Trade isn't fair Trade

This, a million times this. Since I can't give you a million upvotes have a beer instead.

Here in Australia we've had high street retailers endlessly bitching and moaning about people here buying stuff online direct form China - but where do you think they get their overpriced tat manufactured?

They whine about not being able to compete because they have to charge GST and overseas sellers don't. But GST is only 10%, while their markup on Chinese prices is closer to 500-600%. GST has fuck-all to do with it.

Oh yeah, outsourcing is fine for Big Business but not for us.

Fucking hypocrites, all of them. We need a revolution to hale these greedy two-faced cunts to the gutter where they belong.

21
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Steven Roper

Re: and so ends "Netflix and Chill"

Pirate Bay and Chill?

KAT and Chill?

EZTV and Chill?

2
0
Steven Roper

Re: I wonder how

There are other ways of detecting VPNs and proxies than playing whack-a-mole with IP addresses.

1) Many will strip out the user-agent string on a HTTP request, meaning that while some browsers can be set to do this themselves, most people won't bother and so the vast majority of stripped user-agent strings substantially indicate that request is coming from an anonymisation service.

2) It's trivial to geolocate IP addresses. An account registered in country A that accesses the service from an IP in country A then a few minutes later from country B, is an account that has either been shared with someone else (generally a ToS violation in itself) or has switched to using a proxy or VPN in country B.

3) VPNs and proxies tend to distribute each client's traffic randomly over their IP range. So if an account is logged in but making requests from multiple IP addresses in a given range over a short time frame, and if multiple accounts are also making requests from the same set of IP addresses at the same time, there's a good chance that that IP range belongs to a commercial VPN or proxy provider. ISPs, while they do rotate their customers over dynamic IP addresses, tend to cycle them at a much slower rate than VPNs and proxies.

Individually these traits don't necessarily indicate a proxy/VPN, but some half-decent analytics software that looks for cluster behaviours exhibiting several of these sorts of traits must be able to pinpoint VPNs and proxies with a high degree of accuracy and in real time - quickly enough that commercial VPN providers won't be able to evade it by switching IP ranges hoping to play whack-a-mole.

This has dire implications for freedom and censorship avoidance, because once it becomes widely possible to reliably block VPNs and proxies, thereby rendering them useless for general internet use, you can bet this detection technique will be abused to sniff out dissidents and whistleblowers, and enforce tracking, spying and profiling, not just to thwart copyright geo-dodgers.

The first harbinger of this dangerous trend was first evinced years ago, in 4chan's uncanny ability to detect and block anyone using a VPN or proxy even back in 2008; and the end it inevitably leads to is that blocking them will become pro-forma for every major website that seeks to monitor, track and monetise its traffic. Expect proxy-blocking to soon become the norm at all your favourite news, social media and tech sites, as well as media streamers.

22
3

What do Angolan rebels, ISIS widows, Metallica and a photographer have in common?

Steven Roper

Re: Murdered?

It's only murder if it violates the government's monopoly on violence.

7
1

Server retired after 18 years and ten months – beat that, readers!

Steven Roper

Re: The drive's a Seagate...

"When you consider that that's barely more than a quarter of the way to the Sun, that's actually a bit disappointing :)"

I find it awe-inspiring. This sort of thing really hammers home just how big space is.

Another comparison I once calculated that puts it into perspective, is that if we could build roads in space, and you drove a car along such an interplanetary M1 at 100 kph (60 mph) 24/7 without ever having to stop for food, fuel or rest - it would take you 6 months to reach the Moon, and 126 years to reach the Sun...!

1
0

How to build the next $1bn tech unicorn: Get into ransomware

Steven Roper

Re: Fool Them Twice....

Then their CEO and entire upper management should charged with criminal negligence and aiding and abetting criminal extortion, and the company put into involuntary administration.

In fact, anyone who pays a ransom demand should be charged with aiding and abetting criminal extortion. By paying they are not only encouraging the crime, they are also putting others at risk, and they should be held directly and personally accountable for that.

Governments refuse to pay terrorist kidnapping ransoms for a very good reason. That should be extended to companies and private citizens as well.

3
2

Kentucky spies stricken: Ban on web snaps of horror accidents mulled

Steven Roper

Re: That's not really what's happening

"The definition of "professional news media" is probably an organisation that wouldn't do that without some serious public interest reason"

May I ask what planet you're living on, that has socially responsible news media? Because that sounds like a place I would love to come and live in too! Is your world accepting refugees?

4
0
Steven Roper

Re: That's not really what's happening

From your link:

"The bill’s exception for the news media also is problematic, Fleischaker said.

“In a very real sense, anybody with an iPhone can take a picture and transmit it to the world. I can do it on my phone,” he said. “If you’re trying to define today who is the media and who isn’t, good luck with that.”"

This is exactly what bothered me the most as well. In today's connected world, "the press" has become little more than an officially-approved social-media-regurgitating censorship and propaganda machine. In terms of what constitutes "news media", my personal blog qualifies just as much as CNN, with the only real differences being audience magnitude and article posting rate.

So where would this exemption end? What constitutes "news media?" A blog with ten readers? A hundred? A hundred thousand? A million? Or is it any site with more than one contributing author? Five? Fifty?

Also, being in Australia I am bound by the same censorship, privacy-protection and publication-liability laws as the major news outlets, so as far as I'm concerned if the ABC are allowed to stick photos of a car crash on their front page, so am I. If I'm bound by the same rules I also claim the same rights.

9
0

Philae's phinal phlop: Lonely lander didn't answer wakeup signal

Steven Roper

Re: Yes, Very nice ...

That incident was the final straw that turned my raw hatred of feminists and their SJW allies up to psychopathic levels. I'm glad I don't know any in real life because I'd likely have to serve time for what I'd do to those sanctimonious cunts if I ever met one in the flesh.

2
0

Sigh ... c'est la vie: France mulls mandatory encryption backdoors

Steven Roper

Re: I hope this goes ahead

Love it. Any country implementing this rank idiocy immediately gets cut off from the global internet and any and all forms of IT hardware are no longer available there. Welcome back to the Bronze Age, ladies and gentlemen, enjoy your newly primitive lifestyle!

Lets see how long these wankers keep this up in the face of that.

4
0

Samsung turns to smart home, wearables chips as mobile declines

Steven Roper

Re: "from door locks to security cameras.... managed from a single dashboard on the TV"

I can see emerging in the not too distant future, an underground market based on "after-sales IoT modding." The "modders" will, for a small fee, remove the cameras and microphones and phone-home shit from your "smart" devices in order to keep your home free and under your control.

Like the console mod-chippers of yesteryear, you'll likely find them in the more disreputable sections of sites like Craigslist and Locanto and/or operating out of fleabag basement rentals in the seedier parts of town...

0
0
Steven Roper

Re: Yet to see a post ever that's enthusiastic....

For me the enthusiasm is dampened more by the dystopian aspects increasingly manifesting behind technology, more than the convenience factors. Every time I see a new invention like an IoT air conditioner, lights or sound system, the first thing that comes to mind isn't something like "Wow, I can tell my aircon to turn on half an hour before I get home," or "I could have my home entertainment system ready to binge-screen Game of Thrones as soon as I put my feet up."

No, the first thing that comes to my mind when I see a new tech innovation these days is "Who does this thing phone home to? What data does it send them? How and for what purposes is that data profiled and analysed? How much are they going to ransom-rent me per month to continue using it?"

The insatiable greed of Big Business, and the boundless powerlust of Big Government and Law Enforcement, has completely destroyed in me any desire to embrace any new technology. There once was a time when I would have welcomed all this home automation, personal enhancement and cybernetic advancement. Now it merely makes me feel like I'm being crushed into an ever-shrinking box from which there is ultimately no escape.

There are those here who call me paranoid. Fair enough, if the kind of dystopia this world is rapidly turning into suits them, good bloody luck to them. But my only wish is to remain in control of my own life, to make my own decisions knowing they are of my own will.

Not to monitored constantly and narrowly for even the slightest infraction of a raft of unjust laws enacted only to benefit wealthy bankers or pious moralists, and not to be bled dry by the endless machinations of financial vampires determined to find ever more efficient ways to wring another bloody penny out of me.

3
0

Going on a date, and it's just the two of you? How ... quaint. OkCupid's setting up threesomes

Steven Roper

Re: To answer your question about demisexuals

"I've been to DragonCon. Your model is...incomplete...."

Hmmm. Maybe imaginary values aren't enough. We might need to derive Julia-like curves from given points in the original sexual space...

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