* Posts by PJD

33 posts • joined 3 Nov 2011

China: Cute Hyperloop Elon, now watch how it's really done

PJD

This is what happens when all the leaders are engineers

Something close to 90% of the upper levels of the Chinese government are engineers (http://siliconafrica.com/90-of-top-chinese-government-officials-are-scientists-engineers/).

This is what happens when a bunch of engineers get control of the treasury - they go nuts with infrastructure projects. Not that I'm objecting, this particular project looks pretty cool, and anything that embarrasses my current country of residence (the US) into upgrading its absolutely woeful infrastructure is also good.

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Boeing preps pilotless passenger flights – once it has solved the Sully problem, of course

PJD

Re: There's something fundamentally important they're missing.

"No matter how good the safety record - how do they persuade people to get on the plane?"

Price. For an airline, removing the need to hire, manage, keep trained, handle payroll, benefits, retirement, pay for hotel rooms between flight legs etc of a whole corps of pilots is going to save a lot of money. And at least initially until passengers get used to it, passing that savings on to ticket prices may be a pretty good incentive. LA to San Francisco for $30 instead of $70 is attractive..

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Staff, projects shed as Ubuntu maker Canonical tries to lure investors

PJD

I dunno, I wouldn't say I'm some mad linux fanboi but I've been using linux in various iterations happily on the desktop consistently since 2010 (and before that more of-and-on switching between mac and linux desktops back to about 2001). But my day job is as a researcher in public health in academia, so my needs are basically tools for data manipulation and an OS that doesn't get in the way. Which these days means mint/cinnamon works quite well thank you. Mac used to be nice but running *nix tools got too fiddly and the OS got too intrusive. Windows just looks like a child's toy, I could never understand why anyone would use it other than to run a legacy app, preferably in a VM. But that's my needs - other people doing other work/play might find other OSs far more suited to what they're doing.

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Skype-on-Linux graduates from Alpha to Beta status

PJD

When I got sick of not being able to video-conference with more than one person at a time, and when I started getting a blue strobing effect using skype on linux I basically gave up on it and switched to google hangouts - multiple people in video at the same time, screensharing works (including picking just one application to share vs sharing the entire desktop), and it's genuinely OS agnostic.

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Loyalty card? Really? Why data-slurping store cards need a reboot

PJD

8675309

For the supermarket ones where you get a (sometimes substantial) price difference if you use a loyalty card and where you can give them your phone number, in the US I always just use 8675309 with a local area code - it's the number from that annoying early 80s song, and *someone* has always filled in a card application using it.. You get the discount, and the store gets the most bizarre purchase logs ever (hundreds of people all using the same account..).

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Skype for Linux users can crash-test video calls in v1.10 Alpha

PJD

.. which is why I've been telling all my underlings and grad students if they want a video conversation with me it's going to be in hangouts as I no longer use skype. Well, that and hangouts does multi-person video without having to pay for it. Not that I love the chocolate factory, but at least hangouts works reliably.

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Rise of the Machines at Sea: The British firm building robot boats

PJD

Re: "ASV is working steadily towards true artificial intelligence (AI) on its boats"

If drug smugglers aren't already using these I'll be shocked: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Underwater_glider

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Is it time to unplug frail OpenOffice's life support? Apache Project asked to mull it over

PJD

Re: VinceH : People still use this!?

"What are these vendor-enforced obsolete formats you speak of? I regularly read Word documents from the 80's and early 90's in Office 2010... No problem."

That's nice. Meanwhile, my copy of Windows Office 2010 can't open any of the hundreds of documents I wrote in Word 5.1a for Mac through the 1990s. When I really needed one of those documents last year I ended up wasting most of a day setting up Basilisk II on linux to emulate OS 7.6 so I could run Word 5.1a and re-save the critical document as rtf (if anyone has a less painful solution I'd like to hear it, because although not critical I would like to have the rest of those documents in a readable format, preferably without having to open and re-save every one of them).

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'I'm sorry, your lift has had a problem and had to shut down'

PJD

Other OS

The Los Angeles Metro light rail has screens showing expected arrival times of the next train; a couple of years ago I was at a station and saw the usual 'next train' screen replaced by a out-of-the-box ubuntu desktop display.. Sorry, didn't think to take a photo.

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Windows Update borks PowerShell – Microsoft won't fix it for a week

PJD

Re: MS Board Meeting

"Users are so used to Windows crapping out on them that they just resignedly put up with it, even when it's a fixable hardware fault."

Leading to the old joke 'windows is like the faint smell of piss on the subway - it's everywhere and you can't get rid of it'

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Google's dream city isn't a new idea

PJD

Good. The sooner google fucks off and leaves San Francisco to revert to the chaotic, artistic, crazy social experiment it was before google and the rest of the tech industry drove rents up to such an extreme all the artists and wingnuts couldn't afford to live there, the better.

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X-ray scanners, CCTV cams, hefty machinery ... let's play: VNC Roulette!

PJD

Medical records

http://vncroulette.com/index.php?picture=8 is (for me at least) showing seven people's names, medical record numbers, and full home address - in highly litigious southern california. I'm half tempted to print off the screenshot and drop a copy in the mail to those seven people with a note suggesting they call a lawyer and start having fun.

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Apple engineers rebel, refuse to work on iOS amid FBI iPhone battle

PJD

Re: The end of Apple

"Please tell me exactly on what grounds anyone could be kicked out of the country. "Pissing off the FBI" is not a crime."

If you're one of the (many) Apple engineers on a H-2B visa, your ability to reside in the country is linked to you continuing to work for the company that arranged the H-2B for you. So if you quit Apple, you just quit your residence visa too.

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LOHAN sponsor knocks up nifty iMac fish tank

PJD

The 'register an explosives company in Spain' option is beginning to look like it might have been the quick and red-tape-lite option..

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NASA's Orion: 100,000 parts riding 8 million pounds of thrust

PJD

Metric yet?

They also still don't seem to have upgraded to metric (look at the max loadings painted on the floor).

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Pan Am Games: Link to our website without permission and we'll sue

PJD

Re: "...mockery..."

I've hitchiked from Kununurra to Exmouth, both via the coast road and highway 95.. Never took less than 4 days.

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Climate change alarmism is a religious belief – it's official

PJD

And plate tectonics are a myth too!

I kind of love that the Reg has a climate change denialist as their main correspondent on the topic. It's highly entertaining. I'm looking forward to them digging up someone still opposed to the notion of plate tectonics to rant at us about that too. Something for the Reg's weekend edition perhaps?

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Evil mining firms? Please. Obeying profit motive is KINDER to the environment

PJD

Ore vs working conditions and technology

Having grown up in Newman, one of the older Pilbara iron ore towns, I can safely say the reason Fortescue is staying profitable has nothing to do with the quality of the ore (Mount Newman Mining is still sitting on some of the highest quality deposits in the world), it's because a) they have newer mining infrastructure (which reduces costs and can be slow, hard, and expensive to retrofit older mines with), and b) they've reduced labour costs with a combination of technological development and poorer pay packages for workers (less workers and paying them less).

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The Apple Watch and CROTCH RUBBING. How are they related?

PJD

Watches are for driving

The thing that baffles me about all these recent smartwatches is I've yet to see one which capitalizes on one of the few times I'd really appreciate one - when driving. It's easy (and relatively safe) to quickly glance at your wrist when driving, whereas fumbling around with a smartphone while driving (as I can attest because I do it daily) is slighly insane. The person or company who comes up with a clever way to display context sensitive information on a wristgadget (you're en-route to a meeting - driving directions; you're within a block of the final destination - nearest parking; you're parked - floor & room number and who you're meeting..) will make out like a bandit. And if reading this inspires you to write such an app, you're welcome, and feel free to buy me a beer with your millions.

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Sorry, chaps! We didn't mean to steamroller legit No-IP users – Microsoft

PJD

I'm going to have to call bullshit on this one - it's 4pm Pacific time and the no-ip address I had still isn't resolving to anything. On the other hand, no-ip's website seems to be back up.

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Microsoft's anti-malware crusade knackers '4 MILLION' No-IP users

PJD

Collateral damage

Yup,my mail server 'disappeared' this morning. While I'm out of the country and can't physically access the machine. And it's still happily pulling down mail from external accounts via pop.. Fortunately the ip address the domain was pointing to is still listed in my account details on no-ip's website, so I've been able to connect via the ip address and switch services, but I've just wasted a morning while on an expensive business trip. Good one microsoft, nice well-targetted action there..

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Tell us about your first time ... on the internet

PJD

1986

Started an engineering degree at University of Western Australia in 1986. Got a unix account (on a vax 11/750 :) which was connected to the outside world. Joined several special interest newsgroups and marvelled at asking and answering questions with people scattered around the planet in almost real-time. Also marvelled that the university would send an email every time you posted on a non-AUS newsgroup informing you that 'this is not a bill, but your posting to the international newsgroup <blah> just cost the university 23 cents'.

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Windows XP fixes flaws for free if you turn PCs into CASH REGISTERS

PJD

POS is stripped XP

POS machines run a rather stripped version of XP - you'll get updates for the bits of XP that are in the POS version, but not for all the bits that aren't. So better than nothing I guess, but don't be lulled into a false sense of security. So to speak..

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Firefox, is that you? Version 29 looks rather like a certain shiny rival

PJD

Re: yes but...

I did the same thing for the same reason about a year and a half ago. Then got sick of chrome's inability to handle disqus and a handful of other near-ubiquitous parts of the modern web and reinstalled firefox for 'those few sites' and discovered the old problems had been solved, so switched back. And will happily go the other way again if needed..

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Ubuntu 14.04 LTS: Great changes, but sssh don't mention the...

PJD

How about a server review?

This desktop edition stuff is all very well, but I doubt I'm the only one here who migrated to mint on the desktop but still uses ubuntu on the server..

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Friends don't do tech support for friends running Windows XP

PJD

You had me at...

You had me at "Friends don't do tech support for friends running Windows". Then you added some extreaneous letters.

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Handsome young autopilot reports for spaceplane duty

PJD

Sheds and budgets

Speaking of budgets, at some point I'd love to see a list of everything that went into designing and building LOHAN and what it would have cost if you'd bought it all off the shelf. You've slowly accumulated rather a lot of in-kind support from some very nice suppliers over the life of this project, which is great, but not duplicable by the average shed tinkerer..

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Recommendations for private cloud software...

PJD

Sparkleshare. Does what dropbox does, but on your own server with encrypted transport.

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500 MEELLION PCs still run Windows XP. How did we get here?

PJD

Re: If you've got to do all this work to change your OS..

"A surprising number of distros seem to release new versions that can only be installed by zapping your old installation."

A surprising number do, but if that's a problem for you then it's equally true that a not-so-surprising number don't require zapping your old installation and you should probably chose one of those..

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First rigid airship since the Hindenburg cleared for outdoor flight trials

PJD

Re: Where will the test flights happen?

They're based in San Diego, but that photo is in front of the Tustin hangers: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marine_Corps_Air_Station_Tustin Which have their own quite remarkable history.

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CIOs: Are you your CEO's business partner or their gimp?

PJD

Now tell us how boards think about this stuff

Ok, you said what it's like to be the CEO barfing numbers to the board on a monthly basis. Now tell us what it's like to be on the other side of that lie factory and how the CIO plays into that. With comedy stylings, of course.

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Ubuntu for Android: Penguins peck at Nokia's core problem

PJD

Re: help help

You only need to carry around one gadget - your phone completely replaces your laptop or desktop. On the go, you have a phone. When you're around a keyboard & monitor, you have a desktop machine. I've been waiting for the cpu power of phones to get good enough to do this for a while.. This probably isn't it, but in one more generation of gadgets it will be.

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Is your old hardware made of gold, or just DIRT?

PJD

Ball mill

I used to work as a CIP gold mill operator back in the day. What happens if you run ewaste through a ball mill (eg http://tinyurl.com/3jfertk) same as any other ore? Under 2g/ton was economic in unblasted dirt in the '90s when the gold price was < USD$300/oz; I can't imagine that ewaste is that low/ton, and the gold price is over 5 times higher now..

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