* Posts by Suricou Raven

1538 posts • joined 20 Jun 2007

New York takes 2,100 pervs offline, gets gaming support

Suricou Raven

Some laws are made to be broken.

In this case, in the most literal sense. Laws around sex offenders in the US are often made to be impossible to obey, in order to either force said offenders to move elsewhere (NIMBYism in action) or to provide an excuse to jail them. The best-known example of this is the colony of sex offenders formerly living under a bridge in Florida. A 'for the children' law in Miami prohibits sex offenders from living within 2500 feet of anywhere children may gather: Schools, daycare centers, homeless shelters(I don't know why), shopping malls, skating rinks, parks, even bus stops. So many that every square inch of Miami is within at least one of these exclusion zones, and so forcing sex offenders to either go underground or move to the shanty town illegally established under a bridge just outside city limits. The law wasn't made to be obeyed: It was made to be impossible to obey.

This sounds like a very similar approach. Just try registering every name you ever use on any service. Sooner or later, you're going to slip up - and if the authorities are in the habbit of following you around online and closing down all the accounts you open, it's going to be very tempting to 'forget' to report a few. Then back to jail you go, just as the writers of the law intended!

Apple shifts iTunes to HTTPS, sidesteps China’s censors

Suricou Raven

Re: Does this scale?

They probably don't need to. Apple has enough commercial importance that China wouldn't want to outright block iTunes if it can be helped, but by making their service a little harder to filter Apple can potentially negociate an arrangement where it agrees to 'abide by local laws and regulations' by self-censoring in exchange for some assistance from the government of China in another way. Perhaps by directing the ire of the censors over to the competitor, the Google play store.

Microsoft releases first Windows OS in an original American language

Suricou Raven

Just let it die already.

What practical use is speaking Cherokee in everyday life? It's about as worthwhile as leaning to speak Klingon. Stop trying to preserve it as a living language - just document everything for future academics to examine, and let the language die out.

Then stop being proud of where your many-times-great grandparent came from. It isn't important.

Siri: Can you make a Raspberry Pi open a garage door?

Suricou Raven

Two flaws:

1. Why is the command not 'Open the car bay door, Siri'?

2. What happens when Apple changes their API to prevent third-party software from modifying Siri's functionality? That would be a very Apple thing to do, so I wouldn't depend on Siriproxy to continue working in the future.

Police use 24/7 power grid recordings to spot doctored audio

Suricou Raven

Defeatable, if you know about it.

Simply removing the hum isn't going to work - it'll still be evident that the hum was removed deliberatly, which would be very suspicious. No, you just need to make sure that the hum is gone in a way that appears accidential.

So make your recordings on a laptop or battery-operated device, in a room with a continuous background noise (say, a moderatly loud fan) and make sure to record to a 32kbits MP3. Lets see how well they can extract the hum from *that*.

Wind, solar could provide 99.9% of ALL POWER by 2030

Suricou Raven

I see a political isue.

Part of the plan involves a smart grid that extends right into the home. When the wind isn't blowing the sun isn't shineing, the grid would need the ability to transmit a signal telling appliances to postpone their duties for a short time.

Remember the reaction in the US to even the new efficiency standards? I lost could how many 'Obama wants to take your lightbulbs' and 'CFLs give babies cancer' posts I've been annoyed by. It's a very individualistic culture, where people don't like being told what to do - and they won't like having their air conditioner told to let the temperature rise a little bit. There will be political opposition to something like that.

Max Headroom style fake celebrity avatar plan seeks Kickfunding

Suricou Raven

Re: Without solving the human-level AI problem?

I'd have thought the cartoony avatar (Pony or otherwise) would make is easier. With a human-realistic face you're going to hit uncanny valley easily every time. But humans are very good at seeing faces and expressions - the icon list for this post presents three distinct expressions, all drawn with just two dots and a line. So all you need to do is have a library of face elements pre-drawn (Different mouths, eyes, etc) and the ability to not mimic an expression, but reduce it to constituent elements - and then pick out the predawn cartoon face-parts accordingly. Very bandwidth-friendly, and no valley issue.

Suricou Raven

Without solving the human-level AI problem?

Somehow I can't imagine a kickstarter solving a challenge that's had the best minds in computer science stumped for the last seventy-odd years. What they could do is feed facial recognition back into the model, to make an avatar puppet that mirrors the user's expression and speech (With shifted voice). Great for impersonations, call centers, low-budget CGI presenters on television shows (One actor, multible characters!) or just fun.

I've seen something similar mentioned in, of all the strange places, a My Little Pony fanfic 'Friendship is Optimal.' Such technology was mentioned there as part of a new hyper-social MMORPG to allow the avatars to match the expressions of the player, allowing for more natural conversation. With the technology perfected, that could be a very good use.

Ten badass brainy computers from science fiction

Suricou Raven

Echelon conspiracy - you mean the one that shamelessly stole the ending from Wargames?

Suricou Raven

Re: Dark Star?

It would be more accurate to say that the Bomb was caused to malfunction by introducing into its purely logical mind a question for which there can be no logical answer, yet which was critical for performing Bomb's desired function and so could not be simply ignored. Bomb simply couldn't handle this. The same question can break a few humans, so how is a mere single-purpose AI supposed to handle it?

Suricou Raven

Re: What about written SF?

The Culture minds are hard to classify as badass, because they just don't fit on the scale - being so advanced that their motivations are near-impossible to follow. As one of them put it: "Never forget I am not this silver body. I am not an animal brain, I am not even some attempt to produce an AI through software running on a computer. I am a Culture Mind. We are close to gods, and on the far side."

Ready for ANOTHER patent war? Apple 'invents' wireless charging

Suricou Raven

Re: Nikola Tesla?

Depends on your standard. The impact on the average person from Darwin or Einstein is fairly small. The practical applications are a bit of medicine from Darwin, nuclear energy and GPS from Einstein. They were both of great academic importance, but it doesn't filter down to day-to-day life. Tesla, however, invented the electric grid - he turned what may be the single most important technology ever invented from a laboratory curiosity into the power source for almost every technological item and industrial process that would follow. Never mind the wireless power dabblings: Three-phase power and his improvements to generator, motor and transformer design were the big ones.

Man facing rare refusal-to-unlock-encryption charge: Court date set

Suricou Raven

RIP act?

I seem to recall that when this was passed, the government assured us that it would only be used against terrorists.

I imagine the 'rare' isn't due to any restrains on the part of police, but just because very few people use encryption.

Pirate cops bust LITTLE GIRL, take her Winnie-the-Pooh laptop

Suricou Raven

Why the NDA?

I'd have thought the enforcers would want their successful prosecutions widely publicised, in order to deter others. So why try to keep it hushed-up? The NDA request would have been long before those responsible knew the age of the accused.

Ofcom: White Space. We're bloody serious this time. ONE YEAR

Suricou Raven

Re: There are just so many ways this can go wrong

Dusting off my old blackhat for a while, I have think... would it not be a very impressive achivement for someone to make a virus that can firmware-flash or otherwise hack a popular model of white-space device such that on a predetermined date (Big Brother series premiere!) they all switch to the TV spectrum and start transmitting on full power?

Boss wrong to demote man over anti-gay-marriage Facebook post

Suricou Raven

Re: The Bible also says......

The adultery part is sort-of-wrong. The biblical definition of adultery isn't the same as ours. Marriage at the time was much more about property and ownership of women - to people of that culture, 'adultery' refered only to a man having sex with a woman married or betrothed to another man, and was in essence a form of property crime. A very serious property crime. But it didn't work the other way around. No crime was permitted when a man, married or unmarried, had sex with an *unmarried* woman. See Samson for a clear example - a very holy and rightous character who still slept with a prostitute, and God had no problem with it at all. This is also the reasoning behind that law, strange to modern senses, that a woman shall marry her rapist. In our terms: 'You break it, you bought it.' A marriage with a rather generous bride price was to compensate the woman's father for devaluing his posession.

Suricou Raven

Re: Everyone should be allowed to be 'married'

The ceremonial part isn't the problem. Marriage is legally important too, and there lies the issue. It affects inheritence, child custody, taxation, shared finances and home ownership, insurance, benefits, immigration, medical proxy when incapacitated, a whole host of things like that. A civil union provides the legal benefits, but at the same time it's often percieved as the new 'seperate but equal' - an implicit insult.

Hacker sentenced to six years – WITH NO INTERNET

Suricou Raven

Re: Errmm...

But where do those professionals order their supplies? Mail-order is dead. Brick-and-morter stores are fine for the common parts, but what do you do when you need a ball-valve assembly for a specific model of dual-flush toilet manufactured four years ago? You go to the internet. It'd be a nightmare even trying to pay taxes without the ability to easily google up the appropriate laws and regulations.

Suricou Raven

I do like the idea of internet bans as an alternative sentence - sending someone to prison more-or-less assures they'll become a serious criminal, as they'll leave prison unemployable. No employer is going to hire someone with a criminal record and prison time, and people learn new criminal skills and justifications in prison. There are some minor issues in the details, yes, but the idea is sound.

Office work is just about impossible under those conditions, though - guess he'll be spending a few years after school in one of the no-internet, unskilled labor professions. Shelf-stacker, professional leech on the family, litter-picker. The pay sucks, but it's still better than spending three years in prison and then being unable to find any work at all.

UK's planned copyright landgrab will spark US litigation 'firestorm'

Suricou Raven

Popcorn?

Anyone?

Apple seeks cooling fan patent for iPhone, iPad

Suricou Raven

That's not how patents work.

You don't patent something because you plan on using it. That's just silly. No, you patent anything and everything your engineers can come up with, no matter how outlandish or impractical, because it helps to build your portfolio - and gives you a weapon to use should a competitor ever come up with a way to make it work. Even if the patent turns out to be worthless, there is no significant cost - so why not? Look at the rounded corners patent, for example - just on the face of it, the patent is ridiculous. Yet it still turned out to be key to hurting rival Samsung.

It goes the same way in biotech - the moment a company gets a gene identified as a gene, they file a patent. There is no time to figure out what the gene actually does, or what use it can be, because a delay like that might mean a rival patents it first. So there are lots of patents on 'this nucleotide sequence, whatever it does.'

Medical scan record that the NHS says will cost £2k to retrieve: Detail

Suricou Raven

Re: WTF

Medically useless. I imagine they have potential legal importance.

Classic game 'Elite' returns … on Kickstarter

Suricou Raven

Re: Multiplayer game based on Elite?

"One of the compelling things about Elite was that you piloted the ship yourself in real time."

It's not obvious, but you can set a manual heading via doubleclicking on space. Very important for tactical combat manouvers. You don't get to aim the guns yourself, but that would be silly.

Suricou Raven

Re: im guessing you are far younger than my 39 years...

"“In the game, you will of course begin with a spacecraft* and a small sum of Credits*. You will be able to trade*, pirate*, bounty-hunt*, explore*, and salvage* your way to wealth and fame, building on those key elements of the previous games, and with sumptuous graphics* only now possible with the performance of today’s machines. Only this time some of the ships out there will be other players like yourself"

* Also found in EVE.

Sock-wielding movie pirates go to prison

Suricou Raven

Smuggling will get easier.

Mobile phone video quality is still poor, but it's getting better. Another year and any group wanting to do this will be able to do it with a phone hidden in their coat pocket. Much easier than the sock method, and just about impossible to detect.

I'm guessing this lot were tracked down through their internet activities, though. A few subpoenas will suffice, usually.

Fujitsu assigns team of women to design PC for women

Suricou Raven

What was that expression?

"Pink it and shrink it," if I recall correctly.

Pirate Bay moves to the cloud to confound copyright cops

Suricou Raven

Re: No change to tracking...

You over look something. It isn't required that pirates (Or any other criminal, or political dissident, or anyone wishing to hide) be impossible to track. All that they need to do is make tracking them sufficiently difficult and expensive that their capture is not worth the cost of tracking. To find TPB's servers with this setup would take a serious amount of detective work and the cooperation of multible cloud providers located around the world, all arranged in under eight hours. Other means - social engineering of the operators, flooding with fake torrents, tarpit clients to disrupt the swarm - would be much more cost-effective.

Alt root user suing ICANN over dot-Web

Suricou Raven

DNS is a bad idea.

Simple problem. The idea of DNS is for names to be human-readable and -learnable. But if they are human-readable and -learnable, they have to be meaningful to humans. Which in turn means that some domain names are going to be more valued than others - to the tune of many millions of dollars. Where money leads, lawyers follow. It also requires the use of a centralised body - ICANN - because if some domains are highly valued by virtue of their meaning than someone has to decide who gets which one.

It's a poor system. But it's the only one we've got, and (As the above concludes) any alternative that uses names meaningful to humans would inevitably end up the same way.

ICANN appears to be doing it's best to live up to the stereotype of the evil, greedy capitalist right now. First by introducing many new TLDs when there was arguably little use for them, and then just selling off new TLDs in quantity when there is no significent benefit to anyone but ICANN's coffers.

Remember that when this fiasco is done, only two things will have been achieved. A new pile of money for ICANN and a few registrars, and people being able to access the Nike website by just typing 'nike' rather than 'nike.com'. Assuming, that is, that their browser doesn't interpret it as a search query and that their network admin has not been using ancient gods as a naming scheme.

In theory it wouldn't be difficult to make a completly new, decentralised DNS replacement based on simple public key crypto - if one were willing to accept the critical difficulty of having the addresses be uuencoded public keys, and thus just meaningless gibberish to humans. That defeats one-half of the function of DNS, and even with the rise of QR codes no sane company director is going to expect that lot to attract any customers.

Boffins baffled: HUGE EYEBALL washes up on Florida beach

Suricou Raven

Re: R'lyeh

This invites the question, what would it take to one-hit-kill Cuthulu? If a regular thermonuke isn't enough. Antimatter bomb? De-orbit the moon atop him? Supernova at point-blank?

Might be better to fire up the LHC and tell the operators to configure it for 'black hole.' If we're going down, we're taking him with us.

Suricou Raven

I can tell them.

Cut, remove sample of retina, stain, place under microscope. The construction of the retina in squid is very different from that of vertebrates. Doesn't even need any advanced genetic study - any secondary school science technician has access to the equipment and training. If experts are stumped, clearly no expert has examined it in detail.

I imagine someone more knowledgeable about comparative ocular anatomy could identify a mollusc eye without needing to cut it, just by shining a light in and looking around.

Lancashire man JAILED over April Jones Facebook posts

Suricou Raven

Nothing like incarceration to turn an annoying but harmless troll into a career criminal. He'll get out unemployed, almost unemployable, and with some new lessons in the profession of burglery from his fellow prisoners.

DDR4 memory: Twice the speed, less power

Suricou Raven

Re: Sort of...

Making upgrades impossible, then? Well, now we know what future Apple computers will be using.

Cops cuff Google exec over YouTube Brazilian whack vid

Suricou Raven

Re: Err?

I'm guessing that libel/slander laws are of limited use against political smear campaigns, as they can only provide some level of compensation after the election - and plenty of people would be perfectly willing to hand over a pile of money in fair compensation, if the libel wins them a term in power.

Windows 8 and you – So, what's next?

Suricou Raven

I rather like C#

Windows really needed a decent scripting language.

Tech budgets in schools heading north again

Suricou Raven

Re: New plan

Because if you don't spend everything you're given, you won't get as much next year.

Tesla drops veil on top secret solar Superchargers

Suricou Raven

Re: If the solar panels capture more energy than they need

Opportunity cost. The payback time is very long. You could make a profit just generating solar power, but you could make a lot more profit by just investing the money in something else.

iPhone 5 Lightning cables sticking in USB ports

Suricou Raven

Re: Usual Apple bashing

You mean... a *MARK!* Something to horrible to corrupt the clean Apple white? Blasphemous!

My mac pro (Which I only got for dual-xeon goodness) doesn't even have an eject button on the outside. I once got a disc stuck in the 'superdrive' and had to open the computer up to extract it.

Incidentially, as I imagine we all knew, the 'superdrive' is actually your plain sata-interfaced DVD-writer. Even has an eject button on, there's just no way to reach it while the computer is assembled.

Berkeley Lab proposes 4D clock

Suricou Raven

Interesting mathmatics, but not a practical clock.

Heisenburg says no.

Google acts against prostitution app after complaints from Congress

Suricou Raven

The 'tell-tale signs' of trafficked victims?' What exactly might those be, that they can be spotted just from advertising?

Surely it couldn't be National Association of Attorneys General, an organisation composed entirely of polticians, might be shouting 'trafficking!' at the slightest excuse in order to give its members a political boost? Their full letter provides no more of an explanation.

iPhone 5: skinny li'l fella with better display, camera, software

Suricou Raven

Lightning?

The one advantage that the dock connector had over the standard-for-every-other-phone micro-USB was the analog audio and control channels for accessories. And now no analog audio. So they might as well have just gone to micro-USB.

So why didn't they?

Start the conspiracy theories here. Mine is very simple: They like all those iphone-exclusive accessories, even the third-party ones, and would hate to see them turn into accessories that will take any manufacturer's phone.

Australian tabloid decides to fight trolls ... with trolls

Suricou Raven

It's just like everything else in society then.

It's only a crime when the little people do it.

UK kids' charity lobbies hard for 'opt-in' web smut access

Suricou Raven

Re: OK if they want to protect children then make it simple.

If a kid can figure out how to do that, they can handle the porn.

Suricou Raven

Re: Im so sick and tired of the word twisting...

When politicians call it 'opt-in' now, I can't even tell if they mean 'opt in to the filtering' or 'opt in to the porn.'

Suricou Raven

Re: How hard is this really

Followed by The Parents coming round to visit, curiously checking if the connection is pron-enabled and commencing a huge row with the offspring they now regard as a deviant pervert.

Suricou Raven

Re: Title should've been

The test to see if the censorware works is obvious: You go to sex.com, and see if it works.

Suricou Raven

Re: accidentally find smut

I've never seen any real evidence that the 'awful, awful stuff' is really damaging. Distressing for a while, yes. It can send the kids running to Mummy and give them nightmares for a while. But lasting psychological trauma? No. I don't think children are that delicate that a few images are going to ruin them, and I shall continue to think so until I get to see some credible (ie, not-from-a-pressure-group) child psychologists show that this happens in more than a tiny minority of cases.

Suricou Raven

Re: OK if they want to protect children then make it simple.

'I presume you actually mean "all OSs..."'

Politicians. I doubt they know the difference.

Lawyers: We'll pillory porn pirates who don't pay up

Suricou Raven

Re: Arkell v Pressdram 1971

You want to start a lawyering fight with a law firm? I think they might have a slight advantage there. Even if your arguments are infinitely better, they can still make the case drag on for a decade and cost you several times your lifetime earnings.

Windows 7 hotspot hacker turns to software bonding

Suricou Raven

You could do it if you used a computer somewhere on the internet as a relay. It's let you pool bandwidth effectively, but at the cost of latency.

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