* Posts by Jimmy2Cows

459 posts • joined 6 Feb 2015


Robot lands a 737 by hand, on a dare from DARPA


Wrong acronym

Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System (ALIAS)

Shouldn't that be ALICAS? Has a certain ring to it...

How to leak data from an air-gapped PC – using, er, a humble scanner


Wait... days?

It took them days to realise scanners are usually closed when scanning stuff to, you know... scan the thing on the bed and not the office ceiling...?

Hands up who's immediate first thought was "wait... scanners have a lid".

Never mind other problems like keeping the drone laser focussed on the scanner sensors in ambient weather conditions, glass distortion, glass coatings, the rather obvious drone hovering outside the office window...

Keep up the good work guys.

Renault goes open source with next-gen electric buggy you might generously call 'a car'


Future of cars

How so...?

Does it fly? Self-drive? That's the 'future' we were all promised back in the 70s and 80s.

This one can't even keep you warm and dry, which has been a solved problem for about 80+ years.

Does it come with a trailer for the kids? Separate soundproof bubble dome... now there's a thought...

Apple Watch sales go over a cliff: Down 2.8 meellion per quarter in a year


Re: Watches are still jewellery

But then again, I don't bother with rings, necklaces and earrings either.

Paraphrasing Talkie Toaster: Ah... so you're a bracelet man, then!

Lessons from the Mini: Before revamping or rebooting anything, please read this


...modernised the Mini without losing its essential character. So how did he manage it?

He didn't manage it. At all.

Parked my Vectra next to one the other day, and I dare say the "Mini" was wider, taller, and almost as long. "Essential Character" binned the second BMW got their mits on the designs.

Think virtual reality is just about games? Think again, friend


Short sighted author...?

In VR, the close-up is dead. Due to the fish-eye lenses that VR cameras use, any actor closer than four feet ends up looking distorted.

This is surely a limitation of the typical and current technology used in VR cameras.

Off the top of my head, a circular array of cameras with decent lenses would solve this. If the market is there, the technology will advance to overcome these minor problems.

And don't call me Shirley.

Astronauts on long-haul space flights risk getting 'space brains'


Re: What problem?

Lead-lined coat - maybe?

Cat: So why don't we just drop the defensive shields!?!

Kryten: An adroit suggestion, sir, with just two minor flaws. One - we don't have have any defensive shields, and two - we don't have any defensive shields. Now I know technically that's only one flaw, but I thought it was such a big one it was worth mentioning twice.

Nuke plant has been hacked, says Atomic Energy Agency director


Amano's remarks are prima facie terrifying

No, they are not.

I'm more likely to be hit by lightning twice. In the same place. On the same day in consecutive years.

Stickers emerge as EU's weapon against dud IoT security


Perhaps an effort to explain firmware upgrades to lay-people is also needed.

Understanding of firmware upgrades is useless if the manufacturer can't be arsed to provide them.

Complaints against cops down 93% thanks to bodycams – study


Re: Lesson here

Have police wear body cams and have them turned on 100% of the time.


It should never be at the officer's discretion, that just invites abuse. And all cops should be required to wear them, and they must be recording with no option to disable, at all times on duty.

Some commenters suggest recording should be shut off in certain sensitive cases. No. Just no! The recording protects both the victim and those attending. Recordings aren't just released freely to any bugger that wants them.

The victim will be photographed in such cases anyway. Being on low-res body-cam doesn't change this.

Mark sensitive recordings as sensitive - a "sensitive" button on the camera is sufficient. Sensitive recordings should not be viewed or released without a fully audited approval and supervision chain. In fact, no recording should ever be released without this, but more so for sensitive recordings.

Having grey areas leads to opportunists gaming the system, and discretionary recording makes the whole exercise pointless.

Termination fees for terminated people now against the law


Standard politician in action...

New York Assemblywoman Aileen M Gunther, who authored the bill, said that she only became aware of the practice after her own mother passed away and a local utility attempted to tack on an extra charge for early termination of her account.

Uh huh.

The cynic in me suspects differently: politicos know full well businesses do morally questionable shit like this all the time, but don't care one iota until it impacts them directly. Then cue the moral outrage.

Seems unlikely she wasn't aware of the practice. That would mean none of her constituents complained to her about it. Ever. And New Yorkers love to gripe about anything.

Curiosity sniffs Mars' odd atmosphere wafting out of its soil


Re: Science is awesome!

My thought exactly. Shows we still have much to learn, and how good we are at figuring it out!

Pokemon NO! Hospital demands ban on virtual creatures after addicts invade private wards


Mostly harmless

I would contend that playing a harmless game ...

Indeed, so harmless that players unwittingly yet willingly walk into traffic, private property, radiation exclusion zones...

However, I contend this is neither the game nor the publishers' fault, more the result of society getting progressively more stupid. An effect which seems to be accelerating.

Researchers crack Oz Govt medical data in 'easy' attack with PCs


Proper, effective security, anonymisation and encryption is hard and expensive .

Making it a criminal offense to point out how shit a government's data protection measures are, is cheap and easy.

This seems all about doing a crap job, saving a few bucks, and preventing embarrassment by force.

It will only impact legitimate research and lead to ever-weakening security. It will have zero impact on criminal activities. Criminals don't give two shits about breaking laws, because duh... criminals.

Ordinary punters will get squat from smart meters, reckons report


Re: Meter reader requires slightly more training

Sure but can they install or exchange Meters? Are they certified gas and electricity engineers ? No? Well many meter readers have to be because reading meters is just part of their job.

Citation needed.

Seems highly unlikely. Why exactly would a trained, qualified sparky slum it reading meters?


Re: No, thank you.

The cost of implementation is covered by the cost of savings so I don't see a downside in this.

Then you are not thinking hard enough.

Smart meters are:

a) an attempt to increase profits by eliminating the cost of meter readers. The cost of this will be passed on to consumers, so that 2-3% a tiny minority of consumers might save by having a smart meter will be more than wiped out.

b) a step toward live tracking of the supply costs and variable pricing. No more certainty about how much your electricity and gas bills will be each month. And you can bet your arse that tracked prices will go up as fast - faster - than the supply cost, but fall much slower, if they fall at all.

c) adding the potential for remote cut off from the comfort of the outsourced, offshored control room. No more pesky engineer costs to actually, physically disconnect someone who hasn't paid.

d) the opportunity to mess up millions of peoples' day with a single bad software patch.

Shit, if the banks don't make sure they get a patch right, power companies sure as hell won't bother. But who cares...? Their CEOs and directors will not be on smart meters.


Re: Meter reader requires slightly more training

Pretty sure parcel delivery drivers can read numbers too. Well, most of them. Maybe not Yodel.

What says Internet of Things better than a Bluetooth-controlled smart candle?


Re: I can see a point

Yes but light bulbs may not work in poverty stricken third world countries without electricity, so this candle would be ideal for them.

Poverty stricken... this candle would be ideal...

$100 candle doesn't really qualify as "ideal".

Fair point about the light bulbs and lack of electrickery, but I expect they'd pass in favour of a candle that doesn't cost 100 bucks.

Italian scientists use fluorescent box to arouse sexually indifferent men


Re: Would it work if the light were from....

A plan with no drawbacks!

(Ignoring aim-related issues like blindness, bell-end burns and sack-smouldering...)

Punters want heart-throbs, not brains, when thinking wrist-jobs


I code therefore I am...?

As a C++ dev, I like to think of myself as a proper programmer. Guess it depends on how you measure "proper".

You've now made me worry that I don't actually exist. Thanks for that.

'Second Earth' exoplanet found right under our noses – just four light years away


Re: Slight problem with habitability figure

While JWG's timings are clearly suspect, he is correct to say we should be leaving way before Sol dies, not after.

The author can wait here while the inner planets are engulfed in red giant plasma, but if humanity (or whatever we are by that time) is to survive, we need to be long gone before that happens.

NASA's free research trove may have broken arms trafficking rules


Indeed. Almost as though American security services are full of paranoid twats.

Way to be even more of a dick than usual, guys.

Mars to get Chinese delivery. Estimated time of arrival: 2020


Now children, share nicely...

So will NASA be allowed to share its toys, experience, or will China be forced to reinvent the wheel here...?

Does look suspiciously like the Curiosity rover though... I'm sure that's purely coincidence of essential design features rather than a straight copy.

Excel hell messes up ~20 per cent of genetic science papers


Re: Dunno. Think our minds must be too highly trained Majikthise

Have seen many very intelligent people make some very basic mistakes.

Reasoning ranges from the somewhat understandable "I'm not that kind of mathematician", to egotistical bullshit like "trivial implementation detail" which is somehow beneath them despite it being their job.

Oh and the ever-classic "I'm a genius, it can't be my fault. Must be the software." (although, with Excel formatting it often is the software...)

Thieves can wirelessly unlock up to 100 million Volkswagens, each at the press of a button


Re: I have an A5

I like it. it's a beautiful car, sleek figure, 240hp. When I put the foot down, it goes. I like that.

Pfft. Only 240?

If you're gonna buy a wang enhancer, at least do it properly.

Mines the one with the 576bhp GTS keys in the pocket...

What next for the F-35 after Turkey's threats to turn its back on NATO?


potentially hostile states learning more about the F-35 than we would like

Suspect these "potentially hostile states" already know everything there is to know about the F-35.

NASA dumps $65m into building deep space hutches for humans


Ask it nicely, it will build the habitat for you...

Harvard gives solar batteries performance-enhancing vitamins


Re: Electric cars

I believe you've hit the proverbial nail on the head. I agree that electric cars using this kind of liquid battery would be a godsend.

Sadly not so much... It all sounds great until you realise how genuinely crap the energy density of flow batteries is. And for cars, affordable high energy density is what matters (well, and power density if you want decent acceleration).

You need a truly massive volume of electrolyte fluid to make up for the poor energy density. Which is obviously very heavy and makes it all kinda pointless. Would be like towing your own petrol tanker, except it'd be filled with electrolyte.

Flow batteries advantage is they are cheap (relatively), simple, and have a virtually unlimited recharge cycle, and as has been said recharging them is as simple as changing the fluid. This makes them great for static applications like grid-scale storage as grid-scale applications are generally not limited by size, weight or volume. Cost is king!

Sucks for transport applications. Like it or not, petrol is one of the most energy-dense, easily tranported, stored and transferred energy storage medium around.

Africa's MeerKAT looks at the sky, surprises boffins with 1,300 galaxies


Re: just sayin...

Radio frequency EM radiation is still "light", init. Just light that's not visible to our tiny peepers.

It's not our fault we don't hire black people, says Facebook


re:just it is easier to get a job with them if your skin is white

Not sure this is what they are saying.

Whether that is the underlying cause is another matter, and fundamentally applies everywhere, not just Facebook.

Diversity policies go against sound business practice. If you have to hire less competent people because of their skin colour, that's still discriminatory (just in a way that is inexplicably ok to those insisting on diversity policies). A business full of idiots is a business full of idiots. Doesn't matter that diversity regs have been met; that business is doomed.

The devil in the detail is surely the comp-sci graduate racial/gender distributions, and the applicant racial/gender distribution. If 97% of graduates/applicants are white males, well... doesn't take a genius to work out the hiring distribution will be predominantly white males.

Yet if 97% of graduates/applicants were minorities/female, would we even be having this discussion? Would Facebook get called out on it? I doubt it, because that doesn't fit the PC brigade agenda.

Hiring decisions should always and only be about competence, never about skin colour, gender, sexuality, age or any other bullshit. Diversity policies be damned.

If you're best for the job I will hire you.

If you aren't the best for the job, I won't hire you. End of. Entirely based on competence. PC brigade can bite me.

NASA curious about Curiosity's fourth 'safe mode' event


Sounds like a cosmic ray strike flipped a bit or few, enough for the main computer to register a discrepancy with the camera software. But did the strike hit the camera processor or the main processor? Can either be safely restored to the unflipped state?

We'll smash probe into comet 300 million miles away for kicks, er, sorry, ... for science


landing at an angle that denied its solar panels vital sunlight

Bad landing wouldn't matter so much if they'd used a more constant power source like an RTG or two. Philae appeared to be still working even after the bounces, just couldn't get the juice to keep going.

Same for the Rosetta probe; loss of power because solar flux drops too low for its panels to be effective beyond Jupiter just wouldn't be an issue.

A very long mission failed to perform as expected under conditions where a couple of RTGs would be perfectly happy and chug on for years. Loss to science seems to vastly outweigh the slight risk of launching a few chunks of well protected Plutonium...

Parliament takes axe to 2nd EU referendum petition


So have another referendum on the subject every year until there's a decisive outcome. Maybe pair it up with local council elections to save money. Sounds OK to me.

It was decisive. There was a clear majority, albeit a slim one. But still a majority. Not like there were 2 votes in it. Difference of more than a million.

If you start trying to define majority as anything other than side A got more votes than side B, you're trying to rig the system to get the result you want.

You can argue ~28% didn't vote, but they had their chance and couldn't be arsed. Maybe they didn't care, maybe they have become disillusioned with politics and thought "what's the point".

Don't see how your suggestion fixes that, other than watch the turnout get lower and lower each time as more and more people become disillusioned by the whole process, because nothing changes.

Our democracy is already a thin veneer... this will only make it worse.


Democracy of one

The problem with allowing the Sheeple to vote, is that most of them don't appreciate the impact of what they are voting for.

Sounds a bit like you think no-one except you should have a vote on anything important. Cos everyone else is too stupid, right?


Democracy in action...?

Trouble with this kind of thing is you will never make everyone happy. Given how close this was in the lead-up to polling, 50% of the populus was going to be pissed at the result however it went.

Putting aside whether or not one likes the referendum result, the democratic process was followed, and now the government should be expected to abide by the result. Will of the people etc.

What I find truly disgusting is how some MPs are trying to overrule the process. Didn't work out the way they wanted so they're trying to find ways around it. That kind of elitism and disregard for the democratic process is at least partly why the vote went the way it did.

This kind of shit starts civil wars...

Technology shares slide with Brexit vote, except ARM


Re: *facepalm*

Comparing apples with oranges. The valuations of publically traded businesses are not the same as the amount of taxpayer funds a country has in its economy.

By your logic and FTSE trace, the economy has repeatedly lost then regained way more than £100bn over the last 2 years. Which obviously is a pile of horse shit.

The stock market moves up and down all the time. That does not mean the economy does. All this is, is another market dip which will stabilise like it always does once the dust settles and people get their collective heads around wtf just happened. Already started. Market dip is currently ~4%, half of the ~8% drop from the initial panic.

Nazi witch-hunt ends with fierce judgment


Re: "Lick a tick"

Well... you can lick a tick if you want. Can't imagine it'd be pleasant.


Re: "it is hard to imagine how he will continue to retain support"

That son of a bitch is dug in like an Alabama tick

LIGO team may have found dark matter


Sample size?

The rate in which such primordial black holes would form binaries and collide matches with LIGO's observations, the scientists say.

With only two confirmed LIGO observations of gravitational waves, it seems a bit early to be making this assertion.

Not saying they're wrong or right, just commentarding on the apparent number of data points they've used to draw this conclusion. Maybe they more data they've not made public yet...?

Energy companies aren't going to slurp your personal data. Honest


Waiting for the first lit penis visible from space once that happens. Just a matter of time.

No need to wait.

[grabs torch, goes outside and opens coat]


[a lot of screaming, blue lights and police later]

"Officer, I was just proving it is visible from space..."

SpaceX winning streak meets explosive end

Thumb Up

Re: So random...

To be fair this wasn't from orbit - far too slow for that.

It was from an orbital injection flight though, and a geostationary one at that...

Fair point, I missed that little nuance. Have an internet.

Doesn't mitigate the OP being a dick, though...


Re: So random...

You're a dick. Remind us how many other current launchers have been able to successfully land any of their rockets from orbit...

SpaceX is still learning, and coming back from GEO was always going to be much harder than LEO. Any fule kno that. Successful landing was hoped for, but I don't believe it was expected. This is just an engineering problem to work around. And they still manage to launch for way less cost than the encumbents.

Man dies after UK police Taser shooting


...behaviour and welfare of a man. A man subsequently died.

What is your name?

A man has no name.

Surveillance forestalls more 'draconian' police powers – William Hague


Maybe be a bit less appreciative...?

I can appreciate the need for increased surveillance in this modern world

Not me. What is needed is better targeted surveillance and actually bothering to do something about the people they already know about, instead of leaving them in the hope of catching an ever bigger fish.

I don't see the world is really much more dangerous than it was 30 years ago. Atrocities then, atrocities now. Only difference is the whack-job group du jour perpetrating them. The odds of being involved in one are still statistically tiny.

More likely to die falling down the stairs. So hey let's monitor everyone's stairs in case someone falls? Won't prevent the falls, but we can increase surveillance coverage in the name of saving lives plus it'll get some laughs on YouTube. And that's about how ridiculous this all is.

Increased surveillance on an Orwellian scale serves no practical purpose, certainly does not make us more secure. Just an exponentially growing haystack obscuring the needles, and an ever-increasing huge scope for abuses of power over the most trivial of civil disobediences.


Re: If you don't let us rape you, we will have to kill you.

And if you do let us rape you, our "careful selected partners" will too. Because you did but didn't / didn't but did (makes no damn difference either way) tick the box.

And no, you may not choose "neither".

Brits don't want their homes to be 'tech-tastic'


...busy lives in a practical way or even reduce their energy bills

If you're too busy to go in the kitchen and open the fridge or look at the oven, ffs slow down and relax before you have a stroke.

As for still flogging the tired horse that is "reduce their energy bills"... where's the real, actual, unbiased evidence of these savings? Can they be achieved without significant up-front outlay whose ROI is measured in decades? Otherwise you're just moving the cost around, saving nothing. Maybe even spending more.

And no, I don't mean the typical smart-meter BS about how the unicorns in the magic meter box will somehow reduce your electricity consumption. Real, hard evidence, not produced by anyone with a vested interest in smart meters. Not clear that exists.

Pandora investor: Sell this company sooner rather than later


Re: Arrggh


Never has my bullshit bingo card filled so quickly...

A UK-wide fibre broadband investment plan? Don't ask awkward questions


Re: It's just the how and when that's missing.

I expect BT to invest in their own infrastructure, to modernise it as technology progresses rather than leave us languishing with infrastructure that may be 100 years old.

I certainly expect them to have used the vast amount of public money they've received for broadband rollout to actually use in on that.

Would I be prepared to pay? Yes, if they didn't take the piss and I actually got anything like the expected speeds afterward.

There's fibre to the cabinet at the top of my street, maybe 100 yards away from my house.

If I had to contribute say £100 towards the installation cost I would happily do that. But it's not even an option.


It's just the how and when that's missing.


As slow and cheap as they can get away with, ideally someone else's money (milk the taxpayer teat) whilst avoiding anything vaguely difficult or giving poor ROI (dense inner cities, everything rural and/or remote) like the plague.


When they can be arsed. Or until the regulator grows a pair and forces the issue. So in both cases... never.

London NHS trust fined £180,000 after second bcc fail on HIV email list


Re: So we'll punish the patients instead

Perhaps retributive justice would be better served by publishing the names of the people ultimately responsible, along with any embarrassing medical details. If they don't have any, then perhaps some could be strongly implied.

Karmic justice eh? Would be nice, but you'd probably find yourself on the wrong side of a data protection breach and risk being fined. Not to mention, slander, harassment etc.

Breaches like this are almost criminal, so why not go the whole hog and make such negligence a criminal act, with a range of penalties depending on the severity of the breach? Suppose that's awfully close to legislating against stupidity...


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