* Posts by Martin Usher

473 posts • joined 8 Dec 2006

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Google defends open source from 'poisonous people'

Martin Usher

SubV is, alas, obsolete

I'd just about started using it when I got pushed at 'git' because of the kernel. Its quite an amazing piece of code; I don't know it that well but I think it may turn out to be an object lesson on how Open Source projects should be done.

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Microsoft urges Windows users to shun 'carpet bombing' Safari

Martin Usher

Desktop Handles Files???

Its a directory. It shouldn't be any different from any other directory except that stuff in it gets displayed as icons on the desktop (i.e. the thing that builds the desktop uses the stuff in it as input data).

What they're saying is that they still haven't got out of the habit of believing the file extension...if some random piece of data turns up with the right file extension turns up then they've got to execute it, regardless. RW's rules of the road ("Kettle, Pot Black?") above should be mandatory for any computer but, of course, it will "spoil the user experience" (or should I say "reduce the opportunities our clients have to push stuff at the poor sucker of a consumer"?). He's right, as well. Using Linux for web browsing is really boring. No fuss, no excitement -- you just get web pages.

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Economist: girls actually better than boys at maths

Martin Usher

So????

I know a bunch of girls who are very good at math --- the missus, her sisters and the daughter for a start. I also know a bunch that are clueless. It says nothing.

The real difference between the genders -- as anyone who's in education will tell you -- is that the width of the ability bell-curve is narrower for girls. The median ability's the same but you get fewer very bright (and very dumb) women than men. The other difference, and the big one for people who work in schools, is that a lot of girls aren't motivated to do 'hard' subjects; the missus has spent practically her entire career encouraging girls to do math and physics and you've got about the same level of interest now as thirty years ago. (She prefers to work in all-girls academic schools so can the discrimination stuff, please. The fact is girls just love law and stuff where their innate articulate skills can be fully deployed -- and they earn far more money than doing boring stuff in a lab.)

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Viacom suit is Net killer, Google claims

Martin Usher

Its the price of the content that's ridiculous

Redstone (Viacom) can't tell the difference between free advertising and his prize content being pirated for all to see. He overvalues his material too much, hence the huge claim against Google. He can't see that the reason why his material is valuable (people watch the shows) is actually the 'buzz' generated by things like clips on youTube.

Personally, I'd just boycott anything that comes out of that conglomerate and wait for the howls as their ad revenue plummets. We don't need them anything like as much as they need us.

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For truth about Europe, read The Reg

Martin Usher

American's connected to other parts of the world...

America's (that's the US) has a lot of historical ties to Europe but increasingly the newer ones are to Central and South American and Asia. So its not surprising that Europe is fading a bit.

I'll take issue with the US Constitution being 'badly written'. Its actually rather clever for the year. The Constiution proper is more like the articles of incorporation of a late 18th company, its missing the Bill of Rights (the first set of Amendments).

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The music biz's digital flops - a short history

Martin Usher

I sill buy CDs..

..just not the ones that are being sold by the major labels. Its partly that I want a high quality reference recording, partly a vote for the people making the music.

The biggest danger the Internet posed to the media companies wasn't file sharing. It was the loss of control over the 'product'. Without that control they are faced with competition from thousands of recordings and, of course, the entire back catalog of the world. This means that their new product has to be very, very, good to stand out. It usually isn't.

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American auto dealer offers free handguns

Martin Usher

A silly story

There are all sorts of legal reasons why you can't just walk into a store and buy a gun in most, if not all, parts of the US. First, you've got to buy the thing off a licensed firearms dealer. The car dealer may also have a firearms dealer license, but then you've got a raft of other regulations (that vary from State to State) to negotiate.

The real joke is that if you're experienced with firearms then you're unlikely to want to be given some random (cheap) handgun. You've already got the ones you want and while you probably have some others you've got your eye on they're be relatively expensive. Gun owners (usually enthusiasts) are actually quite picky. If you've never owned a gun before this freebe is worse than useless, its dangerous. Guns are not toys. So I'll list this one as a gimmick.

If you want home protection, a small pump action shotgun's the answer. You don't have to fire it, the noise of racking it usually is enough to persuade someone to go away. (If you do have to fire it then you don't need to be too careful about aiming it.)

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Social networking site bans oldies over sex offender fears

Martin Usher

But they're not all over 36...

We've just had a local case, a fairly nasty one (teacher/youth worker, sex with minor and so on). The puerp was 29. So there.

From where I stand (at the threshold of geezerdom) anyone under 40 looks young. Sigh.

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US Congress questions legality of Phorm and the Phormettes

Martin Usher

I'd guess its not just the user that's interested in this...

Actually, I expect the noise to come from the web providers. If I go to a commercial web page that provides me with information I expect that the page's surface area will be about 40% advertising. Its what pays for the website. If a company such as NebuAd (or Phorm) hijacks any of that space or interferes with the customer tracking information then they are effectively stealing off that web page provider.

This is one part of the equation that's not been talked about much. In the US at least interfering with a company's legitimate revenue stream (by violating the fine print of its 'terms of service', I bet) is likely to lead to a lawsuit. This could get interesting, although personally if it came down to a battle between NebuAd and Google I wouldn't rate NebuAd's chances much (especially as the punters are going to be cheering for Google in this one).

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Heathrow 777 crash: Siberian cold to blame?

Martin Usher

Hey, I'm also an engineer but....

When this happens on a motorcycle -- particularly an old fashioned one -- then the culprit is the tiny vent hole in the tank filler cap that gets blocked. The result is the same -- you may potter on for ages at low throttle setting and everything's just fine, but then you open it up and it does a few seconds and then sputters back to low power.

The hallmark of a true engineer is to pull the entire fuel system and engine apart to analyze the malfunction. (Hint....been there, done that.....) The humiliation that results from someone sticking a paper clip into the vent hole to clean it is indescribable...

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Ofcom sharpens cutlasses for pirate radio assault

Martin Usher

What's wrong with low power FM?

In the US anyone is allowed to operate a low powered radio station. The limitations are the output power and, of course, not interfering with a legitimate station. They don't cover a huge area (the power is limited by the field strength) but I'm pretty sure that you could use these like WiFi access points all taking the same feed off the 'net. The transmitters themselves are like slightly upmarket versions of the dongle you use to get your iPod onto the car radio (and are priced to match -- you won't pay more than $100 and usually a lot less).

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Mounties taser bed-ridden octagenarian

Martin Usher

About that knife

It was probably the one that came with lunch. In the article we're led to believe its some kind of 10" hunting knife that will rend flesh and sinew at a touch but in reality it was the one he was using to spread butter on a roll.

The real problem are the H&S Nazis.

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Lancashire plodcopters in laser dazzle outrage outbreak

Martin Usher

It actually hurts...

Its not something you should go sensational over but some little tyke got me with one while driving though a residential area one night and it wasn't nice. It hurt, it was like getting a shot of capsicum (pepper) in the eye.

If I had been able to catch it then the result would have probably required surgery to remove the laser pointer from whereever I had jammed it.

But its not a big deal. If a pilot is going to react to this such that "they might crash the plane" then they shouldn't be flying. Lots of things happen when flying, you've got to keep your wits about you. Now the little sods realize that those helicopters are full of sensors and can see and track you they might leave them alone.

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Unicaresoft loses MSNLock case against Microsoft

Martin Usher

Famous Search Engine

The "Feedback" page from the magazine "New Scientist" never uses the G-word for the same reason (they got some nastygram from corporate legal), they always describe it as "a famous search engine".

If this MSN-thing happened to me the (renamed) code would go open-source so fast that it would make certain corporate heads swim.

Its all about branding, so the way to stop branding in its tracks is never to use the brand name or any of the band logos.

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Boris Johnson bans boozing on London transport

Martin Usher

No eating, drinking and stuff is normal practice everywhere else.

You can drink on your public transport? We'd get nailed two ways:-

-- Drinking anything (including water) is a no-no (local transit laws)

-- Drinking alcohol in public is also no-no (various and sundry laws)

I don't know if it keeps the rowdies down but it cuts down on litter and other messes.

Live with it. You'll like it.

We get fleeced $1.25 to go pretty much anywhere (I think the most I've ever spent at one time was $7 for an all-day pass). What use is public transport if people can't afford to use it?

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Two arrested over piracy at computer fair

Martin Usher

Mod chips are illegal (in the US)

There's an old tradition in the UK of enforcing US law. I've come across it a number of times, going back to the 80s with companies being prosecuted for moving minicomputers between facilities without an export license. I'm not sure why you do it.

(Bradford police do know that the DMCA is US law, do they?)

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Added green burden could ground flying cars for good

Martin Usher

You've got this basic problem...

You get into a plane, take off and go up to cruising altitude. What you've done is lift a tonne or so of stuff two or three kilometers off the ground, like climbing a mountain. When its time to land you then have to get rid of all that energy -- waste it.

There's only one way that this problem has even been slightly addressed. In the early days of electric rail traction current supplied to the trains was DC, the hope being that the power generated by dynamic braking going down hill would help power a train going uphill. Todays hybrid cars try to do the same thing, but they, too, are imperfect.

A sailplane is a fun way to get about but its not very practical. There's been one prototype electric sailplane but that's got the problem of lifting a wing full of batteries. Weight and sailplanes don't get on.

Most Reg readers won't know anything about light planes. They make a subcompact car feel roomy and they have virtually no carrying capacity. They're not fuel efficient -- at today's prices its cheaper to go commercial than burn the AvGas.

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No-fly list grounds US Air Marshals

Martin Usher

One million and counting...

Apparently our terrorist watch list just keeps growing. And Growing. AND GROWING.

Its got all sorts on it. Nelson Mandela is apparently a terrorist, he has to apply for a waiver to enter the US.

These lists should be public property, we should know who's on them and there should be a way to get your name off them. But for now, if that fly drops from the ceiling into the teleprinter and your name comes out -- you're screwed.

(Fly reference -- go get a copy of "Brazil", watch it and marvel how the people who made it were able to see into the future.)

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DoJ beats up tech firm for H-1B only job ads

Martin Usher

Its not xenophobia....honest

There isn't a skills shortage in my part of the US. There's a shortage of jobs, especially good paying jobs. The working hours are only the tip of the iceberg -- 45hours a week isn't bad, just wait to you come across a company wanting 70. Once employed on an H1 you are at the mercy of your employer so you don't really have much of a choice, you have to put up and shut up.

Its a bit of a myth that Indians -- or any other foreigner -- are intrinsically better qualified than local labor. Some are, but a lot aren't. Its just the bell curve. What you do get is a situation that when they're good they're very good indeed, but when they're mediocre they are not only really mediocre but will move Heaven and Earth to avoid admitting that they don't know something.

The real situation's been disguised somewhat by the boom in defense and security related work. This has provided a protected safe haven for citizens where many of them can continue to think that everything is fine.....until the layoffs, that is.

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Open source software is murder

Martin Usher

Russia, Microsoft and Making Money...

Tinfoil helmet time.... the only software for Windows that's Russian and is commonly available to the general public -- and makes the authors lots of money -- is the Trojan-du-Jour.

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HD media future may be Blu, but it's not rosy

Martin Usher

HD was more consumer friendly

HD-DVD was a more consumer friendly standard, especially with the dual format disks. Blu Ray is more about getting advanced DRM into the home, its corporation friendly, consumer hostile -- expensive and the experience it gives you isn't worth the delta.

Most of the sets sold locally where I live in the US are 1080p. Its a bit overkill for smaller screen sizes (42" and down) but everything seems to be this standard now. Blu Ray promotions included 'giving' a player away with every HDTV purchase (that was Best Buy) but this only lasts while retailers could sell HDTV at a premium. They can't, though -- people are not dropping $5K on a set, they're spending at most $2K for 50"++, $500..$1300 for a more normal sized set.

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School crossing guards join CCTV panlollycon

Martin Usher

It depends on the person

There's "old" and there's "OLD". The difference can be quite dramatic. We used to have a crossing guard at the local elementary school who had no end of problems with drivers, she always had the cops out there trying to ticket miscreants. Her problem was depth perception -- she couldn't tell how far you were away from her and how fast you were going so any kind of movement within 100 yards or so of the crossing was met with hysteria. She was replaced by an oldish guy. Same job, same crossing, same drivers but now its super-cool -- no problems with the kids or the drivers.

So problems with the crossings may be the drivers, but it could be the crossing guard. Dave's also got the idea as well; here, unfortunately, mummy's still got a cellphone clamped to her ear (come July it will be illegal at last!!!!!), too much to do, too little time to do it so just mows down everyone in her path.

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'Extreme porn' law could criminalise millions

Martin Usher

Told yer...

I've been telling people that anti-kiddieporn laws are a form of template. We, as programmers, should have recognized this from Day 1. Its normal when you start a controversial process to apply this to a minority who are socially unacceptable. Kiddie porn fans fit the bill nicely -- there's not a lot of them and they're weird. Once you have the system in place, though, you can apply the template to anything.

You should never assume that "This never affects me". I'm not into porn -- soft, hard, kiddie or whatever -- but it still affects me because I know that they'll eventually be coming for me. Its just a matter of time.

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Anti-paedophile police treble arrest figures

Martin Usher

Beware of the Thin Edge

Take a step back and look at what these people are doing. You have a police unit dedicated to thought crime. Currently the thought crime is related to children, an activity which is so outside social norms as to be indefensible. We focus our attention on this which blinds us to the tiny amount of actual crime going on in this area, the amount of resources focussed to detect this crime and the wide ranging powers given to police to investigate ("Will Someone Please Think of the Children!!")

We all should be able to recognize a template when we see one. What's being developed is a system that allows any kind of thought to be criminalized at will, literally by tweaking some parameters. This should be worrying people.

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AudioEngine AW1 wireless music system

Martin Usher

I use a low power FM transmitter for the same job

They're cheap and they can broadcast to any radio in the house. They're similar to the dongle you use to get music from a MP3 player to a car radio but have somewhat higher audio quality and power. They're legal in the US, questionable in the UK.

I don't understand why every attempt to mass market music stuff costs so much (and is so difficult to use).

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Apple gets (slightly) less sneaky with Windows Safari play

Martin Usher

Re: What's this "Bonjor" shite?

Its a protocol that Apple promotes for publishing services on a local area network. Its the closed / semi-closed source foundation for the open-source zeroconfig and a sort of sibling of Universal Plug and Play. Apple called it Bonjour because its original name, Rendevous, turned out to be an existing tradename.

The idea's great but I've yet to find anything that uses it in my world. I occasionally get bugged by newer computers trying to be user friendly or 'smart' or something so this may be this type of code in operation. I tend to disable it at my earliest opportunity.

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This DVD will self-destruct in 48 hours

Martin Usher

A silly idea

The US version could be preserved in the freezer.

I'm fundamentally opposed to generating waste. Its bad enough that AoL used to carpet bomb us with CDs (mercifully they've stopped these days) but this is stupid. They're not cheap, either. In the US we don't rent movies from Blockbuster at $5 a pop, we get 'em from the supermarket at about a third that price (typical rental cost is $1.99 or lower for older movies). Its the best anti-piracy mechanism I know of -- once your rental cost gets down to about the cost of a blank DVD its not worth bothering to copy the disk any more!

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Feds to collect DNA of every person they arrest

Martin Usher

.....which parts of your DNA tells anyone what religion you are?

If you're Jewish, quite a bit of it. Having your DNA on file is about as effective as stamping a big, red, 'J' on your ID card.

The danger with DNA is that people believe its absolute. That's because when you've identified a suspect with a probability of, say, 1:6000000 from a group of 50,000 then you've probably got the right guy (note, *probably*). If the sample is larger then the chances of the right guy being unique go down. If the techniques are applied sloppily (which they were in at least one large lab in the US) then that adds up to a whole load of mis-identified people. But since we now all believe DNA is infallible nobody's going to believe you when you protest your innocence.

DNA has been used to free prisoners in the US who've been in jail for decades. But often the cases against such people were flimsy in the first case -- typically a confused eyewitness, coercive interrogation, de-emphasized exonerating evidence and a black or brown face is the formula that got the guys in jail in the first place. DNA's used to force reviews of these cases; naturally government doesn't like to admit sloppy police work, bias, predudice or any of the other more obvious problems so you've got to use a scientific sledgehammer to crack that nut.

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Red Hat scurries away from consumer desktop market

Martin Usher

Linux *is* ready for the average user....

But not necessarily as a general purpose OS. It really starts to score when you get it on devices like the eePC. Its obviously a threat because Vole had to tweak their XP to get it on the system (there's no way Vista will get on a small system).

Day to day I don't find much problem with Linux. It just lacks games support. That's what killed Warp, after all.

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The missing five-minute Linux manual for morons

Martin Usher

I don't understand, someone help me....

Maybe I'm just some kind of geek or something but I've installed Linux on all sorts of hardware, a lot of it crap, and "it just works". Linux is relatively weak with multimedia and game support but I don't use my PC as a TV or games console, I just use it for work and stuff -- looking things up, mail, that sort of thing.

It could also be years of putting computers into things....there's a reason why you don't come across Embedded Windows that often (and when you do its usually in the form of a crashed ATM or self-checkout). I get the same sort of FUD in the embedded space, though -- apparently something can't be 'professional' unless it comes with a big price tag and has a number of obscure bugs that 'the supplier's working on'.

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PS3 firmware adds HD audio

Martin Usher

Its just "more is better" BS

The only reason to store audio at 24bits and 96KBits/sec is if you're a stdio who's going to be doing some mixing and processing of that audio. For the rest of us, its like having solid silver audio leads -- pretty meaningless.

The best place to start working on audio is the room. Unfortunately most of us live in small houses with small living rooms (and small TVs, come to think of it). We don't have the ability to work over the room acoustics even if we could afford to devote the space to it.

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US war robots in Iraq 'turned guns' on fleshy comrades

Martin Usher

Phlanx Gun

It wasn't one of those that got the Airbus, it was a couple of "Standard" surface to air missiles.

The whole thing was on TV because there was a news crew on the bridge during the entire incident. This happened 20 years ago -- pre youTube -- so the video's "disappeared" otherwise it would be all over the net. (So its not surprising that when the Iranians see one of those boats near an airlane they're curious about what its doing -- the airliner that got shot down was not only on a normal flight path but it was a regularly scheduled service.)

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Microsoft deploys protocol defense for IE

Martin Usher
Linux

Why not fix the obvious?

The fundamental problem is that Microsoft wants to execute code on your machine as a superuser. If they could just see the stupidity of even trying to do this then we'd all breathe a bit easier.

RPC should be an OK mechanism provided you're careful about what you're offering. You know these guys want you do not only load executable code but offer an external interface to it. Instead of fixing the obvious they're trying to change the universe around their design flaw.

I live in SoCal. We don't need coats.

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Olympus µ1010 compact camera

Martin Usher

Curious name?

Not really -- just cute. 10MPixels, u1010 (binary, see) -- "MicroTen".

They pay people to dream up this stuff.

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IBM smacks rivals with 5.0GHz Power6 beast

Martin Usher

Liquid cooling?

Makes sense for situations where you've got to conduct a lot of heat away. You trade off the extra infrastructure for efficiency, quietness, even heat distribution (important) and even the potential to recycle some of that energy. Most car -- and motorcycle -- engines are liquid cooled (it may be a surprise to know that many bikes are liquid cooled, the fins on the engine are just for show).

Air cooling in data centers doesn't make sense. You make a lot of noise (and spend a lot of energy) transferring the heat to the air only to have to remove it using liquid cooling through air-conditioning. Its much better to cut out the middleman.

Water works well. I've been on a project where we used de-ionized water because we had to plumb it to a tube anode running at 7.5Kv -- taking the ions out renders the water non-conductive. For data center use, though, the water's more likely to be like the stuff in your car engine.

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Nokia confirms 'iPhone killer' handset in pipeline

Martin Usher

They already have the technology

Though I can't figure out why they'd want to use Symbian when they already have a great Linux based platform with the N800/N810. Maybe its the old problem of needing a locked down system?

I think the N8xx works better in tandem with a regular phone myself. I'd rather have a small phone with Bluetooth interface to a data device than carry around a iPhone or Blackberry -- its like those Leatherman multitools (or Swiss Army knives), its a great idea in theory, very ingenious, but it really doesn't do any particular job well.

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Naomi Campbell banned from BA flights

Martin Usher

Before we go overboard with this assaulting thing...

As anyone who's ever lived anywhere inner-city-ish in the UK knows "assaulting a police officer" is a generic charge thrown at anyone who doesn't put up and shut up ("assault" in the UK doesn't need to actually involve physical assault.) Police all over the world have an array of these generic charges that are designed more to assert their authority than reflect a reality (but unfortunately many people still don't know this -- they actually think that an underweight model who's stock in trade is her appearance is going to attack a bunch of heavyweight (and all to frequently) armed men).

She's hot tempered, low on patience and may have other issues. But, honestly, do you really feel that treating customers like this is the right thing to do? Also, it seems that a large part of the T5 fiasco was caused by over the top security -- too few security staff are unable to cope with frisking the workforce, much less the passengers, so the whole system just gums up.

I, like a lot of Americans, won't go near LHR.

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Sony bullish on Blu-ray dominance

Martin Usher

Not worth the effort

The fallout from the HD wars has left me a little concerned that any new kit, especially from Sony, is likely to have the SD data degraded a little "just to push the consumer along". I've already seen this in action in an an-store demo -- I'm used to upconverted DVDs and this demo was 'fuzzed' slightly to show off how much better the HD picture looks.

I don't like region coding and other restrictions. There's more to life than Hollywood's products.

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US teen cuffed for disposable camera 'Taser'

Martin Usher

The heavy hand of the felony...

Nobody picked up on this. This is over-reaction to an extreme and its a typical way that prosecutors who aren't quite sure of their case use to bludgeon the poor sod who's in their clutches into submission.

You can also blame all those "tough on crime" legislators. That's not a "liberal" platform....

Its no fun being at school these days -- both in the US and the UK.

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New banking code cracks down on out-of-date software

Martin Usher

Banks could start to get sensible

Most people have quite predictable patterns to their spending. If someone, after years of mundane mortgage and grocery payments, suddenly needs to transfer all the money in their bank account to somewhere in Nigeria the bank's software should stop and think a bit. But its easier to blame the customer (cheaper, too).

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Creative threatens developer over home-brewed Vista drivers

Martin Usher

Creative has got it all wrong

The developer isn't misappropriating squat. He's writing a device driver. Its his IP that Creative obviously needs -- unless Creative are saying that they deliberately cripple their products to make them unusable in newer versions of Windows. Which should be illegal -- its a form of logical vandalism.

What Vista and people who buy into Vista are saying is that the system is locked and you can only develop stuff for it 'by permission'. This is not how computers are used.

Just as well I have no plans to upgrade to it. Ever. Even if it means never buying another new computer.

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First permitted in-flight mobile call made

Martin Usher

Planes aren't exactly electrically quiet environments

You already get cell service on cruise liners through a satellite link. It works fine on the ship but since the traffic is routed through a base station on some remote carribean island the charges are at nosebleed level. I expect aircraft will use the same system.

Planes aren't exactly electrically quiet environments. If you something with a radio in it then 'accidentally' activate in flight. You won't crash, but unless you're listening to FM and you're right by the window you are going to hear a lot of noise.

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T5 opening turns into Airplane 3.0

Martin Usher

Fingerprinting will help smooth the flow...

>No doubt someone will suggest that fingerprinting everybody would have improved matters...

Of course it would. It would slow down incoming passengers to a trickle which would give the baggage handling system a chance to get the stuff to the carousels before the passengers. You'd be cursing the immigration people (which you can't do out loud unless you want to end up in a cell somewhere) and wouldn't be any the wiser that the rest of the system was a shambles.

I hear the place is owned by a Spanish concrete company....

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Of laptops and US border searches

Martin Usher

The precipice was making content illegal

If we stop thinking of 'kiddie porn' and abstract to 'information of a specified type' then what's been building up in front of our eyes is a global effort to criminalize the possession of 'information of a certain type'. Since it would be difficult to outlaw political material straight off implementors of this type of system will initially choose a class of information that's indefensible. Kiddie porn's perfect because you can use emotional arguments to drown out more technical objections.

Once the system is in place then its straightforward to define the prohibited class of material to be anything you choose it to be.

The giveaway is that it never existed in the old days. Its too surreal (and it would only exist in the US because the line between 'child' and 'adult' is your 18th birthday which is well into adulthood for many cultures). (There are lots of things you can do in the UK at 16 that would get you into big trouble in the US.)

So, figure, what's going to be next? We've already had some tentative feelers about possessing illegal terrorist type information in the UK (whatever that is).

Never give an inch if you're asked to surrender your rights because the government will take a mile and then some.

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Awed fraudsters defeated by UK's passport interviews

Martin Usher

Typical Clunky Implementation

If you want a (first) US passport then you have to turn up in person with your application. But at least we do this sort of thing at local places like post offices. Your credentials are checked at this "interview" -- its not really an interview, its just verifying the certificates (birth, naturalization) that you need to get the document -- and the whole mess is mailed off to wherever it gets processed.

We have to provide ID when we start working at a job. Our ID and proof of ability to work is filed on a I-5 form which is supposed to be produced to the Federal government on demand. Illegals work for contractors; sub-contractors give then deniability. (There's also a decent trade in not that bad forgeries; employers just need to claim that it sort-of-looked-OK.)

We desperately want to implement a National ID scheme like the UK but can't because of annoying things like Rights and stuff. The alternative is "Real ID" where State IDs such as driver's licenses and other government issued ID has to conform to a standard which -- surprise! -- looks just like your biometric super-card.

Someone pointed out that this looks like a Beta test for the National ID scheme. Sounds about right. Good luck with it.

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AJAX patent threat to giants under the hammer

Martin Usher

The whole point is to make patents property

The whole point of making patents like this is to accumulate real property. You all have been getting a free ride for too long -- using ideas you've not paid for (per use) is just as immoral as listening to music you've not paid for (per use). Sooner or later there will be the IPAA* snooping around your hard drive looking for ideas you don't own and demanding money from miscreants who aren't properly licensed.

We own the ideas and the world owes us a living. Get used to it.

*Like the RIAA but with somewhat wider scope.

(I can't help thinking there's something wrong with the above....)

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Vista SP1 downloaders bite back

Martin Usher

What's really going on....it seems...

Doesn't it strike everyone as a bit odd that an update to an operating system should break things right, left and center? Someone remarked about how Linux breaks everything all the time but that's not true -- Linux is always updating stuff and everything just works. Microsoft seem to have several basic problems. One is that they can't keep the syscall interfaces straight, instead of depreciating an interface they just change it. Randomly, so you get the maximum of compatibility issues. Then you've got a culture of denial; only 'approved' stuff gets to work (which should cause people to ask the question about 'who's computer is it anyway?'). Then you have a tortuous integration of components; while everyone else is working on ways to modularize MSFT just integrates so that any problem and the whole system dies. All these things are software design problems, the sort that everyone knows about, but somehow they've just got to do their own thing. Its like the company is full of 1980s era whizz-kid programmer throwbacks.

So I'll miss the eyecandy and go for a working computer. If I need an excess of style I can always use an Apple.

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Ubuntu does bird beta

Martin Usher

It just works

I've used several different modern distros of Linux -- including various Ubunutus -- and they just work. I don't run a laptop that hibernates with them, though -- but then Windows is always getting things wrong when it Hibernates systems so I try to avoid letting the systems go into that state, I just switch things off when I'm not using them.

The thing I like about Linux is that it truly multitasks. Windows still hasn't quite got the hang of process switching and their user model is weird.

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Caribbean firm circumvents BD+ copy protection

Martin Usher

Consumer_Friendly != Corporation_Friendly

Customers are merely consumption units to be 'managed'.

One of the anti-HD arguments I've brought up is not the technology but the way that a relatively minor increment in picture quality is being used to vastly increase the level of control corporations have over stuff you've purchased. This is also why I'm not that happy about the end of analog broadcasting -- its not that I think its better but digital technology gives the greedy ones far too many toys to play with.

BluRay was never about what technology was 'better', at least for consumers. The corporations don't give a damn about the consumer; we're expected to just put up, shut up and pay up. Like most consumers I'm ignoring it.

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Apache rules web server landscape

Martin Usher

Its easier to make a bad IIS site

You can tell an ASP site at a glance. It looks clunky and runs slowly.

MSFT reminds me of a type of programmer that you probably all have met. This person is clever, too clever, and in fact is so clever that they want to do the whole project themselves because they're the only ones who know how to make things work. We all know what we usually end up -- a pile of idiosyncratic, invariably undocumented and always not quite working crap. I've taken to describing MSFT's technology as "oddball" and "non-standard" (they definitely seem to go out of their way to make it "incompatible"!).

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