* Posts by Whiskers

141 posts • joined 15 May 2014

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

Whiskers

Getting more like Usenet:))

NASA gently nudges sleeping space 'scopes Chandra, Hubble out of gyro-induced stupor

Whiskers

The eternal struggle to not break things.

Why are sat-nav walking directions always so hopeless?

Whiskers

Re: Tea with milk

Just for the record, tea is grown in the British Isles; just £39.50 for 11 grams (which can make up to 20 cups if you do it right) <https://tregothnan.co.uk/product/single-estate-loose-11g/>. They also sell their tea blended with more common imported leaves at more ordinary prices.

Click this link and you can get The Register banned in China

Whiskers
Linux

Re: Oh dear...

So anthropomorphism cuts both ways ....

FBI's flawed phone tally blamed on programming error. 7,800 unbreakable mobes? Er, um...

Whiskers

Re: ...an audit could take weeks...

They're probably not counting actual phones at all; rather, a mixed bag of paper and electronic records about phones that are not easily accessible (what with being 'evidence').

Humble civil servant: Name public electric car chargers after me

Whiskers

>> "It seems to me absolutely right that when one drives down a street, one should be able to spot an electric charging point rather as one can spot a pillar box or Belisha beacon," said Conservative MP John Hayes. <<

If there are to be enough public charging points to cater for all cars being electric, we're going to need more or less continuous rows of charging points along all streets where parking is allowed. If there's anything that needs to be clearly marked, it will be those parking places where the charging point is missing or not working. So the 'Hayes hole' will be the one that's of use to almost no-one.

Where the electricity is to come from, is not at all clear.

If charging points are only as common as Belisha beacons, we're not going anywhere. Literally.

Footie ballsup: Petition kicks off to fix 'geometrically impossible' street signs

Whiskers

Anachronisms

In keeping with the anachronistic steam-train and bellows-camera signs, shouldn't the soccer ball depicted be one of the real leather lace-up sort with large complex curved panels? The Bucky-ball shape is too modern.

Firmware update blunder bricks hundreds of home 'smart' locks

Whiskers

The key's indoors ...

I wonder if any users have left their only physical keys inside the house whose lock is now bricked? This could get a bit messy and expensive. I know, as I've managed to lock myself out more than once (purely by my own actions, no internet required). Doors and windows aren't cheap.

If their only computer is also inside the inaccessible house, will they even have got the email?

Electric driverless cars could make petrol and diesel motors 'socially unacceptable'

Whiskers

Re: Moving sidewalks

Not Asimov; H G Wells in 1898 "When the Sleeper Wakes" <http://www.gutenberg.org/files/775/775-h/775-h.htm#link2HCH0005> (re-written in 1910).

Whiskers

Re: "Electric vehicles are the obvious solution to that particular problem"

> apartment buildings [that have only one parking spot per apartment], <

As many as that? Where I am, there are more than 40 households and only 16 parking spaces - all on street. Parking only works because many households don't own any sort of road vehicle at all; something that has been a basic planning assumption for centuries. There are lock-up garages in the vicinity, but they seem to be used for storing something other than cars. Only the streets with low-rise housing on both sides have the luxury of a parking space for each household. (And the local authority charges for annual parking permits these days, too).

AI vans are real – but they'll make us suck at driving, warn boffins

Whiskers

Re: The future:

> Have you ever ridden in a truly nasty cab? Now imagine that experience without being mitigated by the presence of another human being. <

Perhaps the self-cleaning public loo will provide the model; after each use, the auto-cab goes to the nearest cleansing station for a thorough hose-down and decontamination inside and out. Users will soon get used to the smell of disinfectant and the need to don a plastic mac before getting into one.

Worried about election hacking? There's a technology fix – Helios

Whiskers

Re: "Because you can"

> Adding "yet another proposition" to a paper ballot is not cheap. <

You don't have to have just one sheet of paper, and you don't have to have all the elections and referendums taking place on the same day. Here in the UK we seem to manage local and national and EU elections pretty well with paper ballots - and referendums too, although we struggle to ask the right questions with those. Sometimes there's just one paper, possibly with a single question on it, and sometimes the ballot has a long list of names on it; sometimes we've even managed to have some of the papers for 'first past the post' elections and others for some form of 'PR' - on the same day. Paper is very flexible, and so are human counters.

Huawei missed memo that PC's dead – so here are three new notebooks

Whiskers

Re: Linux?

My Toshiba Ultra HD4K i7 laptop running Arch Linux has an operational touch-screen. I hardly ever use it though, the old USB track-ball is still my preferred pointy-clicky thing.

Cook fights for life after Google summit blaze

Whiskers

Buiilt-in extinguishers?

You'd think by now that legislation would have ensured that all commercial or industrial deep fryers had built-in extinguishing systems of some sort.

Tesla's latest car crash: Its 'meritless' lawsuit against ex-Autopilot bod

Whiskers

Re: Self-regulating recall?

>> 2) Once your car will also be sentient, there'll be nothing but new problems. Like constant bickering about how "you only ever want to drive to boring places like work and shopping. I wanna go someplace fun!" and stuff like that. Who needs that? <<

Sounds like the mind of a campervan stuck in the body of a hatchback. Are car mechanics going to have to become counsellors? Could the 'Thomas the Tank Engine' stories become foundation texts for a new vehicle culture?

Firefox Quantum: BIG browser project, huh? I share your concern

Whiskers
Happy

Re: I don't know about lynx and w3m

@ Charles 9:

I think the most Lynx-like text browser for Windows is probably Lynx <http://lynx.browser.org/lynx.html>

As ad boycott picks up pace, Google knows it doesn't have to worry

Whiskers

Reply Icon

>"Surely there must be some way for advertisers to tell Google 'do not put our adverts on content provided by the following: ..."

Unless you are keeping very quiet about a massive break-through in Artificial Intelligence, the three dots at the end of your question can only be a list of specific providers.<

Either identifiable entities or meaningful categories should be manageable. There's enough money in the business to cover however much it costs to keep advertisers happy (or Google's business model is untenable). Advertisers may want to dissociate themselves from all sorts of content providers - particular political parties, religious groups, government agencies, competitors, themselves, entities from countries they don't trade in, etc; it needn't only be 'offensive' stuff (which is of course a subjective category, not a judgment that could be trusted to anyone else, human or AI). I'm sure some advertisers are delighted to be associated with content providers others might find 'offensive'.

The surprise is not that some advertisers object to some content, but that they hadn't already insisted on some mechanism to enforce their preferences - and instituted routine checks.

Whiskers

Allowing free speech (even on YouTube) doesn't mean that advertisers who don't support the views expressed should be expected to help pay for the organisations expressing themselves.

Surely there must be some way for advertisers to tell Google 'do not put our adverts on content provided by the following: ...'

Automated, insight cannot be: Jedi master of statistics was good – but beware the daft side

Whiskers

Key Performance Indicators?

You have to choose very carefully what you measure as KPIs. Then make sure you're collecting real data, not stuff 'estimated' at the end of the week by whoever has to fill in the forms.

KPI = Keeping People Ignorant

US visitors must hand over Twitter, Facebook handles by law – newbie Rep starts ball rolling

Whiskers

Re: What is social media?

Does usenet count? This could be just the boost usenet needs. Or doesn't. Likewise IRC.

Devonians try to drive Dartmoor whisky plan onto rocks

Whiskers

Sheep ponies and walkers

I hope they manage to filter out the effects of sheep ponies and walkers on the local streams. But anything that makes the water more palatable has to be welcomed.

I can't say I've ever noticed vast fields of golden barley on the moor, but there's plenty of peat.

Oh Britain. Worried your routers will be hacked, but won't touch the admin settings

Whiskers

Re: Default passwords etc

The 'next door teenager' aspect could be ameliorated by disabling the WiFi completely unless reconfigured via ethernet. That wouldn't apply to routers that have no ethernet connection available, of course, but then whoever gets to those first becomes the owner. A factory reset would give the person holding the device another chance to set it up themselves. Perhaps running the wifi at 'low power' and with a limit of 'one connected device only' until set up would give the purchaser a good chance of being the first one into the setup interface. Staff in shops selling the routers should be trained to be able to help innocent customers get started safely (I know that's unlikely to happen in reality).

Going underground: The Royal Mail's great London train squeeze

Whiskers

Re: VIP passenger service

I have no objection to travelling in a seated position, or even laying down. In fact I rather prefer it.

Whiskers

VIP passenger service

There were times when I'd have gladly paid for a fast way to get between Liverpool St and Paddington, avoiding the crush and hassle of the Tube.

Basic income after automation? That’s not how capitalism works

Whiskers

Re: Calculations

"Come to think of it wouldn't BI put lots of public sector workers out of a job due to the simplification of the benefits system?"

Absolutely. One of the key benefits. Those people might even be inspired to find something useful to do.

Whiskers

Re: I'm not paid a lot

... and also no disincentive to seek work, unlike the current system whereby your 'benefits' are cut or cancelled as soon as you're 'earning' thus leaving you possibly a lot worse off working than not working. It's called 'the poverty trap'.

Whiskers

Re: I'm not paid a lot

Boredom, people to get to know and relate to, earning money for treats and luxuries.

Pound falling, Marmite off the shelves – what the UK needs right now is ... an AI ethics board

Whiskers

Re: Don't ...

Can we defer taking their feelings into account until they can convince us that they have feelings? It's not all that long ago that humans were arguing about this in connection with their treatment of other humans (and I'm not sure that everyone is satisfied that that argument is over).

BT Yahoo! customers: Why! can't! we! grrr! delete! our! webmail! accounts!?

Whiskers

Re: unless they are old there's no excuse

You'd probably think I'm old. So is my BTInternet email address; it dates back to dial-up days in the last century. When I wanted the internet, I had to get a new-fangled plug-in telephone socket instead of the hard-wired sort 'everyone' had at the time - so I had to get a new telephone too. I waited in all day for the BT engineer to come and do it all - they wouldn't let just anyone mess around with their wires.

Whiskers

Re: Pay for Email

I do pay for email. I pay BT/Yahoo! The account was converted to 'premium email' when I gave up BT as my ISP, as I'd used my BTInternet address for so much that it was (is and will be) inconvenient to try to get all those contacts to use some other address.

I have had auto-forwarding to another address in place for all incoming emails to the BTInternet address, and auto-deletion from the BT server, for several years. This worked fine, and I wasn't obliged to use either the appalling webmail interfaces they invented from time to time nor their insecure SMTP. I discovered by accident the other day that although the auto-forward is still working correctly, emails are no longer being deleted from the BT server - and there is no setting interface at all for changing either the auto-forward or the auto-delete. So the 'inbox' is steadily filling up with old messages.

After wasting hours digging around on the BT web pages, I found a 'contact us' web form for problems with email. But it refuses to let me send any messages without being given my BT account number - which I do not have, as I have no account with BT.

You can check out, but you can't leave.

UK IT consultant subject to insane sex ban order mounts legal challenge

Whiskers

Re: "He was found not guilty, therefore he is innocent"

If the medical and psychiatric practitioners believe he is a danger to himself or others, surely their proper course of action is to direct him to a suitable hospital. If he resists he could be 'sectioned'. <http://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/legal-rights/sectioning/#>. Of course that would cost the NHS money and would't titillate any police.

Bimodal IT: Let the backlash begin

Whiskers

Bimodal? That sounds like what we did when we first started to try using computers to do some of the paperwork. The trick was to get the paper and electronic systems to deliver the same answer; whether that was the correct answer was a different matter entirely.

West country cops ponder appearance of 40 dead pigeons on A35

Whiskers

Dead of course

Live ones don't stay put when you dump them.

Pokemon GO-ZILLA: Safety fears after monsters appear in Fukushima danger zone

Whiskers

Pokemon in The Whitehouse

Pikachu in the Oval Office? (I think that's the only name of a Pokemon I know).

Blighty's Coastguard goes into battle against waterborne Pokemon

Whiskers

Sky meets grass?

That's a fallacy. If the sky meets the grass there is no room for the house or the stick-people. I'm an artist so I know this stuff. Honest.

Patriotic Brits rush into streets to celebrate… National Cream Tea Day

Whiskers

Re: Yorkshire Pudding

But do you put the cream or the jam on first? Where does the milk go? What happens to the scone?

Belgian brewery lays 3.2km beer pipeline

Whiskers

How many pints?

How many pints does the pipe hold, and is it only one sort of beer at a time or are there multiple tubes for different brews to be moved in parallel? And is this any way to treat beer?

Enquiring minds want to know.

Aquaboffins sink lost Greek city theory

Whiskers

Carbon capture

So how many tons of those microbes would be needed to eat our surplus methane output, and could they do it fast enough? Are those natural concretions tough enough to be used as substitute brick or cement? I'm sure someone must have thought of this sort of thing before.

Inside Electric Mountain: Britain's biggest rechargeable battery

Whiskers

Re: Wonky math

I propose '1 Dinorwig' as a standard unit. Of what exactly, I leave to others.

'Impossible' EmDrive flying saucer thruster may herald new theory of inertia

Whiskers

Re: tests in Germany, China and at NASA have corroborated

I saw that programme too. What struck me about the experment was that they failed to even mention the obvious way of eliminating any effects due to the external power supply or the rather basic connecting lead; ie to put the power source and the 'engine' into a single structure. I don't know how many AA cells would be required.

China's Great Firewall inventor forced to use VPN live on stage to dodge his own creation

Whiskers

Demonstration successful then

He wanted to demonstrate 'internet sovereignty' and that's what he did.

Surely no-one imagined that he was seriously trying to show students how to break out of his firewall?

Lotto 'jackpot fix' code

Whiskers

Re: You think this is bad, imagine the voting machines

So it's back to pulling numbered golf balls out of a basket, then? Hey - they could use that for the lottery too!

Commentard April Fool decries Blighty's dodecaquid

Whiskers

Re: Harsh indeed...

I see your back and front and raise you an inside and an outside to make 16 in all.

Microsoft's bigoted teen bot flirts with illegali-Tay in brief comeback

Whiskers

Initial start condition error

Surely even computer geeks must have noticed that you make a teenager by starting with a new-born and taking more than a decade of gentle nurturing by responsible adults. I don't think the technology has existed for that long so Microsoft have tried to take a short cut and released a newly recovered long-term coma patient into the care of teenaged computer geeks. The result should surprise no-one.

William Hague: Brussels attacks mean we must destroy crypto ASAP

Whiskers

Coded, not encrypted

Perhaps idiotic public statements such as this are the coded (not encrypted) messages being sent by the politician concerned to ... whoever it is such messages are sent to. The absence of metadata means it will never be known what the messages mean or who they are meant for unless someone in on the secret reveals it.

The geese flew overhead at dawn.

Iain Duncan Smith's Universal Credit: A timeline

Whiskers

Perhaps the real mistake is in trying to make existing systems fit the new idea. It would be much easier, technically, to abolish all existing state benefits and start a new and entirely separate universal credit system to take over. Politically of course, this would be a very hard sell - not least to the civil servants and local authority staff seeing their careers vanish overnight.

Hand in glove: Google and the US State Dept

Whiskers

Re: Forget Google, what about John Lewis?

Ah, but what prompted you to be interested in such gadgets and what made you visit that particular emporium?

Ben Nevis embiggened by a metre

Whiskers

How much of the difference in height measured is due to 'error' and how much to the mountain actually getting taller? I'm sure I read somewhere that the north of Great Britain is still rising after losing the weight of the glaciers at the end of the last ice age. The 1949 surveyors may well have been spot on at the time.

Irish shun beer, whiskey in favour of … wine

Whiskers

Re: Alcohol Action Ireland

>> "it's allegedly harmful if you have wine on your cornflakes"

Citation, else I am not going to stop.<<

Omit the cornflakes. Rolled oats are more absorbant.

Uncle Sam's boffins stumble upon battery storage holy grail

Whiskers

Street charging

>> Put an extension (underground) to the street with a locked cover on it?

I know it's not perfect, but if someone really wanted an electric car this would make things a lot easier. <<

That presupposes that the resident's car will always be parked in the same place. In many towns and cities one is lucky to be able to park within a few minutes' walk of home, and rarely on the same spot.

Charging points that accept money or smart-card payments would work, but require that more or less all streets where parking is allowed have them installed. That would be a massive capital investment.

Quite apart from the matter of actually generating the electricity to charge all those cars.

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