* Posts by Cynic_999

1524 posts • joined 15 Aug 2013

Artificial Intelligence: You know it isn't real, yeah?

Cynic_999 Silver badge

Re: the error is in call it "AI" !!!

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So the NNs do the same thing we do

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Except we have not mapped only one or two data sets, but many hundreds of data sets. Often we need to make use of correlations learned from one data set and apply it to a situation that is normally the domain of a different data set.

For example, how we react while driving and an unexpected object appears in the road depends whether the object we see maps into the data set of "very hard solid things" (e.g. big rocks), "Soft inanimate things" (e.g. a bin bag blowing in the wind), "Small animals" (e.g. fox), "possible human" (e.g. runaway pushchair) or "Something abnormal" (e.g. very big pothole, open fissure, collapsed drain etc.). We also react based on our knowledge of human behaviour - e.g. a ball bouncing across the road is itself no danger, but may well be followed by a child chasing after it.

We can also recognise and appreciate the difference between a road that has a soft verge, a road that has a ditch next to it, and a road that has a sheer 200 foot drop next to it, and this will influence our decision on the best course of action to take in order to try to avoid a collision.

The "A.I." in a driverless car would be able to recognise a tiny fraction of the things we are able to recognise, because its "knowledge" might be quite deep, but is nowhere near as broad.

Secret mic in Nest gear wasn't supposed to be a secret, says Google, we just forgot to tell anyone

Cynic_999 Silver badge

Wouldn't it be fun ..

to hack into someone's Nest, and get its speaker to command Amazon's "echo" to buy 10000 rolls of bog bumph?

Only plebs use Office 2019 over Office 365, says Microsoft's weird new ad campaign

Cynic_999 Silver badge

Re: LOL

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because $10/mo for 1TB of cloud storage isn't a terrible deal.

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You think? Really?

You can get a USB 1TB HDD for the price of 5 months subscription if you need portability.

Or a 1TB NAS for the same price as about 1 years' subscription.

Both solutions are at the least 10 times faster, and will work fine when the Internet's down (which usually happens just when you urgently need the data).

And I trust the reliability of a HDD more than I trust "the cloud" as well.

Want a bit of privacy? Got a USB stick? Welcome to TAILS 3.12

Cynic_999 Silver badge

Re: frozen-RAM attacks

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Keeping the machine powered on is Computer Forensics 101

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In theory perhaps, but in practice it's no more practical to bring a computer forensic expert to every police raid than it would be to bring a cardiac specialist to every ambulance callout, so it's only done when the suspected crime is extremely serious.

The search officers are told to take a note/photograph of the screen contents then turn all desktops off by the mains or remove laptop batteries without shutting down in case there is software that will wipe the HDD unless a special shutdown process is used.

Using WhatsApp for your business comms? It's either that or reinstall Lotus Notes

Cynic_999 Silver badge

The internal speaker was driven from a single binary output - it was either fed with a voltage between its terminals or it was not. Beeps and tones were created by rapidly toggling that voltage on & off at a suitable frequency *in software* (via a timer interrupt if the programmer wanted to be sophisticated). Thus no way of adjusting volume (until the CPU became fast enough to feed a supersonic PWM waveform, at which point it could produce full sounds rather than just beeps).

Trying to log into Office 365 right now? It's a coin flip, says Microsoft: Service goes TITSUP as Azure portal wobbles

Cynic_999 Silver badge

The joys of "Computing as a service"

There was a time when you could run programs on your PC without needing an Internet connection at all.

You still can in fact if you are brave enough to use a non-Windows OS.

Apple: You can't sue us for slowing down your iPhones because you, er, invited us into, uh, your home... we can explain

Cynic_999 Silver badge

Re: "Apple had no duty to disclose the facts regarding software capability and battery capacity."

A farmer friend of mine in what was then Rhodesia regularly used his Rolls to inspect his extensive and rather rugged fields. One day after a liquid lunch he drove it into a ditch and broke a half-shaft getting it out. He took it to his local garage, who contacted RR (UK) to order a replacement shaft. After a few days he called the garage to enquire about progress, and the bemused owner told him that a team of RR mechanics had arrived, having flown in from the UK and hired his workshop for a week or two, saying they would sort it out.

When they left, his battered Roller had been restored to mint condition - and there was note left stating, "We found no defects on your vehicle. We have however taken the opportunity to perform a routine service free of charge under its lifetime guarantee. You will find a new Landrover registered to yourself parked on the forecourt - we respectfully invite you to make use of this vehicle, compliments of Rolls Royce for all future farm work, and we trust you will continue to enjoy your Rolls Royce appropriately."

I guess those were the days!

Users fail to squeak through basic computer skills test. Well, it was the '90s

Cynic_999 Silver badge

Re: Mice are not particularly intuitive

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They were / are the cheapest effective solution for using windowed applications.

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And a bloody sight better than the god-awful capacitive touchpads on laptops that are the bane of my life. Let your wrist droop a bit too low while coding, and the cursor is suddenly somewhere completely different which, if you didn't notice the switch, means you insert your new lines of code in a completely different place than where it was meant to go, ending up with a complete mess that takes hours to decipher what you had intended to do.

Tech sector meekly waves arms in another bid to get Oz to amend its crypto-busting laws

Cynic_999 Silver badge

Re: "Is this what you wanted to see?"

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I remember TrueCrypt had something similar with hidden volumes but it all takes space and is detectable if you're looking for it

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Yes, it takes a little space - but it certainly cannot be detected however hard you look. At most you might find signs that increase *suspicion* that a hidden volume exists, but nothing that can *prove* (even on balance of probability) that it really does exist.

Fake broadband ISP support scammers accidentally cough up IP address to Deadpool in card phish gone wrong

Cynic_999 Silver badge

Re: Well?

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Well, that is what happens when the government cuts the police budget by 40%

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While that may be part of the reason, I do not believe it is what is mostly to blame by a long chalk. I subscribe to a weekly email that proudly gives all the initiatives and new activities the police are involved in, and most of them seem to be using money and resources with on wishy-washy activities with either no clear goals or no way to measure what they have achieved. Just how do you measure the effectiveness of a police initiative to "Improve diversity awareness," - and is it likely to prevent any crime? £20000 of my area's police budget tax was spunked on a web site set up to "help victims of online bullying."

ISTM that easy cases or cases that appeal to officers get prompt attention from car-loads of police, but those that may require lots of routine police work get shelved on the basis of "prioritizing".

Man drives 6,000 miles to prove Uncle Sam's cellphone coverage maps are wrong – and, boy, did he manage it

Cynic_999 Silver badge

Re: Why are physical checks needed?

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The user experiences less than advertised connection and (rightly so) doesn't give the least about the cause of it, it is just the operator not delivering.

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But it needs to be the result of *protracted* testing.

If a 90 second test at 14:15:09 last Thursday gave a result of 70Mbps download speed, would you be quite happy even though most of the time you hardly ever get more than 1Mbps?

While real-World tests are likely to be more accurate than the theoretical *if* they are done properly, the theoretical average performance is likely to be more accurate than a one-off 2 minute drive-through test.

Both data contention and signal path analysis are both very well established arts and give very accurate results *if* the correct parameters are used. Results that are more accurate than one-off snapshots of under 1% of the total area covered, anyway.

Cynic_999 Silver badge

Why are physical checks needed?

ISTM that if you used all relevant and already available data (power, height and aerial type of all the towers, topography, population density, cell capacity etc.), a computer algorithm could predict both coverage and average data speeds fairly readily. The physical test described would be far less accurate for any number of reasons - radio shadow areas caused by the car & equipment itself, temporary data congestion causing falsely low rates at the time of the test, belated cell handovers causing the download test to be done on a weak signal when a stronger signal from another cell tower exists. Etc. etc.

Are you sure your disc drive has stopped rotating, or are you just ignoring the messages?

Cynic_999 Silver badge

Re: I can believe it!

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Let me ask the stupid question... if you aren't allowed near the printer, or don't know where it is, how do you collect the output?

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In quite a few organisations I have seen, each print job has a header sheet with the name of the person who sent the job. Each job is looked at by the front-office person when it comes out of the printer to ensure it is bone-fide (e.g. not confidential information an employee is intending to take out of the building), and then the print job is carried to the person who sent it or deposited in their pigeon-hole.

Of course, that only occurs in companies that take security seriously. In many companies the cleaner could copy the contents of their entire server to a few USB sticks, or even upload it to their home NAS without the company even knowing it had happened.

Top GP: Medical app Your.MD's data security wasn't my remit

Cynic_999 Silver badge

Misdiagnose?

The system itself may not be responsible for diagnosing a patient, but if test results were altered it could surely result in a doctor making the incorrect diagnoses?

The patient him/herself may have a motive for altering their records. e.g. to get cheaper insurance or to avoid having their driving licence revoked.

US prosecutors: Hey, you know how we said 'net gambling was OK? LMAO, we were wrong

Cynic_999 Silver badge

Re: Loot boxes next?

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Bringing the casino nearer to the place where its illegal wont help will it?

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The way I read it, it will help. In the US, it is illegal to gamble across states - IOW if you are physically in one state, a U.S. gambling establishment that is situated in a different state (or country) is not permitted to accept your bet. Phoning your local betting shop & placing a bet is OK, phoning a betting shop in a different state to place a bet is illegal. Casinos were not originally considered to be subjected to that law because casinos at the time required gamblers to be physically on their premises making it impossible to place bets from a different state. Someone has just realised that Internet casinos have now made such a thing possible.

The question I guess is exactly where an Internet gambling establishment is physically located. At the server? At the parent company HQ? At the location of any shared database? At the location of the bank where the bets are deposited?

Cops told: No, you can't have a warrant to force a big bunch of people to unlock their phones by fingerprint, face scans

Cynic_999 Silver badge

Re: So does this also invalidate all facial recognition installed everywhere?

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No warrant needed AND not even under arrest.

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Rubbish. The police must first get permission to issue you with a written notice detailing what they require you to disclose & a reasonable time limit. If you do not then disclose you could be charged with an offense, at which point it will go to trial and a court will decide whether you are guilty and if so what sentence to impose.

Police will often lie and *say* that you must disclose as soon as a police officer asks, but that is a load of cobblers.

Brit hacker hired by Liberian telco to nobble rival now behind bars

Cynic_999 Silver badge

Re: Others to Be Found

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Have the Liberian authorities brought those in Cellcom who decided to hire him for this purpose to justice?

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No, they unfortunately suffered completely unconnected accidents or fatal attacks from muggers before they had a chance to bribe the police.

Just for EU, just for EU, just for EU: Forget about enforcing Right To Be Forgotten outside member states

Cynic_999 Silver badge

Re: What it is...

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... does it mean they should be able, by defence in law, to do the same today?

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I believe that everyone should have the right not to be forever painted in a bad light because of something foolish they did when a lot younger. If not, where does it stop? Should everyone be able to look up the smallest thing you did wrong as a child? Thank goodness that there was no social media when I was in my teens and early 20's.

People do change.

Florida man stumbles on biggest prime number after working plucky i5 CPU for 12 days straight

Cynic_999 Silver badge

Pretty sure the answer's 42

Isn't it?

Border guards probe 'suspicious bulge' in man's trousers to find he's packing fluffies

Cynic_999 Silver badge

Looking for an IT angle here ... Suggestions?

You were told to clean up our systems, not delete 8,000 crucial files

Cynic_999 Silver badge

My method

About once a year, I buy a new HDD or recycle an older one and install an OS onto it from scratch. I then copy all the files I think I still need from the old HDD. Over the course of the following couple of months I will need to mount the old HDD at increasingly infrequent intervals to grab some file/licence etc. that I had neglected to copy.

This has the effect of clearing out a load of accumulated crud (stale cookies, leftover files from unwanted installs etc.)

After about 18 months I figure that the old HDD can be recycled as it is highly unlikely to contain anything that I still need. (Files that are definitely important or irreplaceable get backed up separately).

More nodding dogs green-light terrible UK.gov pr0n age verification plans

Cynic_999 Silver badge

"

This is not about morality, this is IMHO about the psychological impact on forming and susceptible minds by being exposed to this stuff.

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Do you have a credible study that supports that conclusion, or is it merely something you have decided is the case without any evidence whatsoever?

Cynic_999 Silver badge

Re: How terrible is porn?

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My other half (a qualified therapist) tells me she sees increasing numbers of porn-addicted young men who cannot form physical relationships with those they love

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Obviously people who specialise in treating certain problems will see lots of such problems. And consequently over-estimate the prevalence. The vast majority of people (of any age) can handle seeing porn with no problems at all. I also suggest that you are mistaking cause and effect here. It is the people who *already* have problems forming social relationships who will use porn as a substitute and so become "addicted". It is *not* the porn that has cause the relationship problem.

Many kids end up in hospital with sports-related injuries. The solution is NOT to stop children partaking in sport ...

Cynic_999 Silver badge

Re: Protection from what?

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Porn is just not identified as the cause.

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Mainly because it is extremely unlikely that it is

Cynic_999 Silver badge

How terrible is porn?

Evidently the government has decided that it is far more important to initiate expensive and complex measures in a vain attempt to prevent kids from watching sexual material than it is to prevent them seeing extremist propaganda or a myriad other types of content that I would consider far, far more damaging. I'd rather that a teenager be occupied with porn than being persuaded to visit an ISIS training camp. YMMV.

Perhaps the people who think sex is so bad should refrain from ever having any. Certainly we'd be better off if their parents had decided not to indulge.

Cynic_999 Silver badge

Re: Just like buying a magazine.

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Personally I deal with it as a parent by talking to my kids (and explaining to them that I can view the router logs any time I want to),

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And knowing that, if the kids are canny, all your router log will show is the address of a VPN or proxy web site, or maybe a TOR guard node or bridge. You will have no idea what sites they may have visited.

Cynic_999 Silver badge

Re: Just like buying a magazine.

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They will do as they are told or there will be not internet access.

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This is possible with young children. Unless you keep them locked up at home, there is no way you could prevent older kids accessing anything they want. Sexually explicit videos and photos of *themselves and classmates* are routinely swapped at school. Teenagers with restrictive parents will go to friends' houses where there is less restriction, and/or use public wifi hotspots etc. Kids who have snoopy parents just learn how to hide things better (and are generally more tech-savvy than the parent).

Instead of trying to "protect" your kids from sex, why not educate them and give them a healthy attitude toward it instead?

Cynic_999 Silver badge

Re: Just like buying a magazine.

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... but it's also not right that children are exposed to this kind of stuff so easily

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Why? IME very young children are about as interested in porn as they are in the 9 o'clock news, and older children use it for the purpose intended (a masturbatory aid). Statistics seems to indicate that the more that sex is normalised, the lower the incidence of hands-on sexual crimes. After all, sex *is* a perfectly normal activity, and kids are perfectly aware that porn films are about as true-to-life as any Hollywood action flick, designed to entertain, not emulate.

There are far worse things that children can access on the Internet that nobody seems to be nearly as worried about as sex. And as difficult as it may be for you to understand, there are far worse things that your offspring could be doing than taking his phone to the bog for a perfectly harmless wank.

Pewdiepie fanboi printer, Chromecast haxxx0r retreats, says they're 'afraid of being caught'

Cynic_999 Silver badge

Re: @Waseem - Unauthorized use of an IT asset

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Irrespective of the law, the (only) civilized way to do it is to communicate with the owner and describe him your findings.

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What would you suggest is the best way to communicate with an unknown person in an unknown location the fact that he has an unsecured printer that anyone can send a print to? Or an insecure video display device?

I'm just not sure the computer works here – the energy is all wrong

Cynic_999 Silver badge

Re: Mythbusters

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2. Modern planes are so well shielded this is not a problem.

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Except that the effectiveness of the shielding is not something that is tested in pre-flight checks (or even in most maintenance checks). With modern fly-by-wire aircraft the interference could do more than just affect the navigation system.

So while you may be happy to bet your life on the fact that there are no missing bonding wires or shielding panels, I prefer to be incommunicado for the 15 minutes or so where the aircraft is close enough to the ground that the flight crew may not be able to deal with an RFI induced problem.

Cynic_999 Silver badge

Re: Mythbusters

One danger with using a mobile phone while refuelling is if you drop it after having spilt a little petrol on the ground. The phone signals will not ignite petrol, but the spark as the battery disconnects when the phone hits the concrete certainly can.

Cynic_999 Silver badge

Re: Memories

The main reason for having a human pilot is to handle the aircraft when something goes wrong. Autopilots are great at controlling a fully functioning aircraft, and can do so better than a human pilot. But are not designed to react correctly to a myriad of abnormal situations which frequently occur in a machine as complex as a modern airliner - and which are pretty much a non-event if there is a human present to assess and react, but which would be completely beyond the capabilities of an autopilot.

Cynic_999 Silver badge

Re: Ah, the carefree days of yore

Microsoft built a vacuum cleaner once. It was the only product it made that didn't suck ...

Encryption? This time it'll be usable, Thunderbird promises

Cynic_999 Silver badge

Re: How To Do Encryption IN THE REAL WORLD

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Normal people won't cope with asymmetric ciphers.

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Normal people would not be able to cope with SMTP headers or MIME encoding/decoding either.

Fortunately the mail applications make such things completely transparent so the user does not need to have the slightest idea of how they work (or even that they exist at all).

Just as could be done with asymmetric encryption such as PGP. OTOH on the occasions I've needed to do so, I've found that a "normal" (i.e. non-technical) person was able to cope with the likes of Kleopatra perfectly fine. Even lawyers were able to use PGP after a little coaxing (e.g. "I'll be hiring someone else if you are unwilling to encrypt our communications.") ...

Cynic_999 Silver badge

Re: Does it make sense to send encrypted e-mail?

No, it does not need to be double-encrypted. If impersonation is a factor (and it may not be), then your message is simply *signed* with your private key, not double encrypted. i.e. a hash of the message is encrypted with your private key and appended, not the entire message.

In some circumstances the recipient will not have your public key, so double-encrypting in the way you suggest would make it impossible to open.

Happy new year, readers. Yes, we have threaded comments, an image-lite mode, and more...

Cynic_999 Silver badge

Re: security ?

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how about enabling DNSSEC ?

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Why? What scenario are you thinking of that would cause you any harm whatsoever due to insecure DNS on this particular site?

Going to a lot of trouble to secure your wallet when you go swimming makes sense. Securing your towel, not so much.

Detailed: How Russian government's Fancy Bear UEFI rootkit sneaks onto Windows PCs

Cynic_999 Silver badge

"

Remember, these machines can be buried or remote, meaning physical switches are not an option since that will mean expensive physical trips.

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You can install relays instead of physical switches that are controlled by a separate hardware box that can be operated remotely. I once installed a remote landline operated mains switch on a server that was prone to crashing that allowed me to do a remote "switch off and back on" just by dialling a number and sending a sequence of characters to the remote modem.

Cynic_999 Silver badge

Re: The real solution

Surely in order to update the BIOS you have to remove the EPROM, peel the tape off the quartz window, then put it under a UV light for 5 minutes or so to erase it, before burning the new code off-board on a programmer?

At least that's how it was done the last time I updated a BIOS.

Cynic_999 Silver badge

Re: The real solution

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A jumper block, just as with resetting BIOS, is perfect for this purpose.

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Unlike the BIOS which would normally only be updated or reset by technically competent users, drivers may well need to be routinely updated for computer illiterate users (e.g. to make the graphics card work correctly with the latest video games etc.). Having a mechanical jumper would require the user to be able to open the case and then locate and move the appropriate jumper (which would be in a different location on different motherboards).

Suunto settles scary scuba screwup for $50m: 'Faulty' dive computer hardware and software put explorers in peril

Cynic_999 Silver badge

Re: Criminal liability

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Are there any potential murder investigations ongoing?

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Unless you are suggesting that the malfunctions were deliberately engineered in order to cause GBH or death, then there is no question that it could possibly be classed as a murder.

"Corporate manslaughter" is the most that the company could be charged with.

Ding dong merrily on high. In Berkeley, the bots are singeing: Self-driving college cooler droid goes up in flames

Cynic_999 Silver badge

Re: Human Error, eh ??

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And why a known defective model was available for replacements?

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Erm ... I think that was the "human error" being referred to.

Oh Deer! Poacher sentenced to 12 months of regular Bambi screenings in the cooler

Cynic_999 Silver badge

Re: 'Murica never ceases...

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/me notes that if EVERYONE has a firearm, criminals will be a LOT more afraid to use them to commit crimes...

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Exactly, which is why the USA has far fewer gun-related murders than countries that ban firearms.

Oh - wait ...

Who's watching you from an unmarked van while you shop in London? Cops with facial recog tech

Cynic_999 Silver badge

Wasting police time

The police claim not to have the resources to investigate real crimes that are reported, so how the heck they have the time to go looking for criminals when there have been no complaints of a crime is a bit of a mystery.

Not to mention all the man-hours the police will waste chasing up the false positives, which will obviously result in less resources being available to investigate burglaries & assaults etc.

Forget your deepest, darkest secrets, smart speakers will soon listen for sniffles and farts too

Cynic_999 Silver badge

Hmmm ...

I was just remarking to my partner that this is indeed a veritable time-bomb that could well end up exploding in our faces, when 15 armed officers suddenly smashed down my front door ...

Taylor's gonna spy, spy, spy, spy, spy... fans can't shake cam off, shake cam off

Cynic_999 Silver badge

Re: CCTV

I have used this analogy before ...

Imagine that all the CCTV cameras were to be replaced with large watchtowers. (Which would put at least one on almost every street corner in the average town). Atop each tower is a man in a black uniform and red armband, scanning the streets through a large pair of binoculars and writing his observations in a notebook, a telephone by his hand.

How would that make you feel? Safer?

CCTV is of course *exactly* the same as that scenario - except less obvious so you stop noticing them.

Thanks to UK peers, coming to a laptop near you in 2019: Age checks for online smut

Cynic_999 Silver badge

There appears to be an assumption

... that watching porn will be highly likely to harm children. Is there any credible evidence to support that assumption? IME young kids are pretty much uninterested apart from its forbidden aspect, and older kids use it for the purpose for which it is intended. They also don't regard it as any more true-to-life than a James Bond movie.

Meanwhile, there appears to not be the same amount of hand-wringing regarding the amount of violent content available to children. The message perhaps being, "Make war not love"?

Boffins build blazing battery bonfire

Cynic_999 Silver badge

"

A nuclear power station is really just an enormously complex steam engine ... with much more dangerous waste products.

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Wrong. The waste products of nuclear power stations are a darn sight safer and more easily managed than the waste products of coal-fired power stations.

Cynic_999 Silver badge

Re: Thorium Cycle Reactors

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All nuclear reactor designs are absolutely amazing. All of them will produce astonishing power outputs cheaply and cleanly with virtually no problems, until they are built.

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The same is far more true of so-called "renewable" energy sources.

Cynic_999 Silver badge

Re: Interesting idea

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Very true. But it's also massively more flexible and extensible. Need more leccy? Add a few panels or an extra turbine of some sort. Or spend £30+ billion and wait 20 years for a new nuclear station

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All well and good if you have both the money and roof space to add a few more panels, and are prepared to severely ration your consumption over the UK Winter (just when more electricity is needed). But it's probably less than 20% of the population who would even be able to do it, let alone those who would find it desirable.

But if you think it's so great, I am prepared to try it. I'll let you convince my landlord and the owner of the block of flats I live in to allow you to put PVs on the roof, and you can then pay to install them. In return you can have all the money I'll save from having them in perpetuity. Good deal? While you're at it, you can swap my petrol car for an EV and negotiate with my council to install a recharging point somewhere I am guaranteed to be able to park overnight. Again, you get to keep all the money I'll save (less the amount I have to spend on the occasional journey that's as yet impractical to do in an EV).

Cynic_999 Silver badge

Re: Interesting idea

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There are a surprising number of people on this thread who seem to be resiting any and all change and clinging to the large infrastructure.

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Maybe it's because we have done the arithmetic and plugged in some real-world figures. And discovered that for the vast majority of people it simply does not compute either from a practical viewpoint or a cost viewpoint.

Come up with realistic figures for (a) how many MWh the average household with an electric car would need per year and (b) how many MWh the average roof full of PVs will generate in the UK (at its half-life point). Then give a realistic estimate of the cost of the installation and its expected lifetime.

Then see how realistic and cost-effective your "solution" is. And that's without taking into account the vast proportion of flat-dwellers who have no roof and/or cannot park their car close enough to charge from the home, or do not have a roof suitable for efficient PV installation.

It's similar to the notion that we should all grow our own vegetables. All great when you are hand-waving, but not so great when you go into the details of carrying it out.

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