* Posts by John Mangan

241 posts • joined 14 Aug 2007

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

John Mangan

But you can walk like that. It is not impossible in the same sense as the purely hexagonal-panelled football.

Pedantry slam.

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John Mangan

Aah, I finally see!

If the Government doesn't understand basic geometry no wonder they have problems with encryption and other sophisticated maths.

Signed, naturally.

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NASA tests supersonic parachute, to help us land on Mars

John Mangan

Re: They're looking at this now?

Aren't the parachutes needed for the projected larger payloads to be delivered to Mars?

For the smaller ones they've been using sub-sonic parachutes and bouncing balls; and of course the sky-crane for Curiosity.

Or am I way off beam?

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The Clippy of NetApp is an IBM Watson-powered cartoon robot called Elio

John Mangan

At least it is flagged as a 'bot' . .

I'm sure some of the 'live chats' I've been involved in were actually bots but with no 'admission of guilt'.

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Hollywood has savaged enough sci-fi classics – let's hope Dick would dig Blade Runner 2049

John Mangan

I was late to Bladreunner . .

..some friends went to see it and weren't complimentary. When I finally saw it I had to permanently downgrade the weighting I put on their views. I like all the versions but I've never gotten around to reading the book which I regret and will amend in the near future.

I've avoided all trailers for the new one and I really can't decide whether to see it or not. Bladreunner was as near perfect as it is possible to get (for me) and I don't want it all tritely answered or spurious add-on concepts and what-nots conjured out of the air to power a franchise into the future.

On the other hand another visit to a marvellously realised universe......

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Did the Earth move for you, too? Grav waves sensed from black holes' bang 1.8bn LYs away

John Mangan

Re: 3 suns just vanished?

E=mc^2

Okay, that's the relationship, not the method and in the context of this event I have no real idea.

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John Mangan

Re: 3 suns just vanished?

That's the energy in the gravitational waves.

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John Mangan

Re: A three-sun tidal wave!

The tidal forces (difference between your head and feet) will always swamp the wave effect so you will be spaghettified well before you could feel the waves.

There's a more mathematical answer elsewhere on this site in the comment related to a previous detection by Ken Strain who actually works in this area.

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Boffins sling around entangled photons at telco wavelengths

John Mangan

Me too. At least we're not alone!

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Alexa and her kind let the disabled or illiterate make the web work

John Mangan

Good article

I confess I'm one of the people who would never have Alexa and its ilk in my house. I hate the idea of an always-on microphone which may not or (most probably) may be processing data unbeknownst to you and monitoring activity that you don't want monitored. I feel the same about cloud-based home automation. The ex-filtrated data, the security and the "we've lost interest now, enjoy your brick" experience.

But, I confess, I hadn't thought of all those people who might (apparently do) find these to be truly enabling technologies.

Thanks.

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Don't panic, but.. ALIEN galaxies are slamming Earth with ultra-high-energy cosmic rays

John Mangan

Now that's what I call...

...word salad.

Did amanfromars and 'faux science slayer' mate?

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NASA, wait, wait lemme put my drink down... NASA, you need to be searching for vanadium

John Mangan

Re: Just like us.

I apologise for the inexpert hand-waving but in an attempt to answer your question....

I would agree that you can't assume that everything will be the same but life (of any type) does have certain ineradicable qualities to count as life.

- It must be able to sustain and propagate a certain level of complexity

- It must be able to 'metabolise' some form of energy to achieve this.

- It needs some way to pass on this complexity to future generations - unless it is immortal - but then you get the question of how an immortal being arose from nothing and that's a whole other level of metaphysical enquiry.

- There are others but this is enough for this argument.

So Carbon provide s a very good base for a HUGE range of molecules and reactions which make the first requirement achievable. There have been suggestions that Silicon MIGHT be able to do something similar but there are other issues which make people doubtful. I am not a chemist.

Then you will need some sort of solvent to transport and mix these chemicals and here water is the stand-out candidate. There are others but again you run into problems matching your solvent and your silicon-based chemistry in the right conditions in some sustainable way (although imagination may be limited). I am not a chemist.

And finally all of the OMG! WTF? life forms ARE based on exactly the same chemistry and requirements as us.

So, not conclusive but definitely strong pointers in the directions one is most likely to find life......

I hope that helps - - and that other, wiser commentards will forgive the shortcomings in the answer.

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Boffins discover tightest black hole binary system – and it's supermassive

John Mangan

Or Zathras and Zathras?

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Private sub captain changes story, now says reporter died, was 'buried at sea' – torso found

John Mangan

Re: Occam's Razor

I'm going to risk the wrath of the commentards by replying to this.

It shouldn't make any difference if the victim was a ten year old boy or a sixty year old man but it probably would. I think (hope) that most commentards do not find the details of what seems most likely to have occurred in any way amusing but humans do seem to try to dissociate from the horror of a thing by playing around the edges. And punning is probably the least aggressive of these approaches.

I can understand people finding this to be harmless fun and I can understand those who think it isn't. I doubt that anyone would make the same jokes if it had been an acquaintance of theirs that suffered this appalling fate but in that case the tragedy is too close to disarm in this way.

The untimely end of a human life, probably in conditions of fear and isolation, is not funny but language does help push the monster back into the cupboard.

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Uh oh, scientists know how those diamonds got in Uranus, and they're telling everyone!

John Mangan

"they were able to create shockwaves that briefly formed tiny diamond crystals "

So do nanometre diamonds generally evaporate or is it that just after the shockwave forming them the laser obliterates them?

How 'briefly' are we talking?

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British snoops at GCHQ knew FBI was going to arrest Marcus Hutchins

John Mangan

So this is what the 'special relationship' amounts to, is it?

It's good to know our government (UK) has our backs when a foreign power comes calling, not!

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Russia's answer to Buckminster Fuller has a buttload of CGI and he's not afraid to use it

John Mangan

Re: Straddling bus

So they don't have trucks in China?

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Photon scattering puts a shine on CERN ATLAS boffins' day

John Mangan

Re: Stupid me

I always loved Feynman's distinction between measuring, characterising, predicting (mathematically) something and 'understanding' it.

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Automotive Grade Linux shops for hypervisor to accelerate smart cars

John Mangan

I have a concern that...

car product development cycles are long whereas software development cycles (and even the hardware it runs on) are very short.

If security is really going to be a priority then there needs to be some way to ensure that devices that can be on the roads for twenty years or more will still get regular security updates for their full lifespan.

That is nothing but an overhead for the manufacturers but the thought of millions of (effectively) 'Windows 95' vehicles still being on the road in the 'Windows 10' era is not comforting from a security point of view.

This, to me, seems a strong reason for fully autonomous vehicles available on demand (cycled regularly by the manufacturers) to replace individual vehicle ownership.

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Let's harden Internet crypto so quantum computers can't crack it

John Mangan

Re: I've got a question..

I can see that's how a human would do it but it doesn't seem so clear how a computer would, with no a priori knowledge of the contents, manage that correlation.

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John Mangan

I've got a question..

.. and this seems like a good place to ask it with the assembled knowledge.

I've often wondered how a computer cracking an encrypted message knows it has been successful. I mean if a human decrypted a message that said 'Meet next Tuesday at 4:00" then they will recognise that as valid English and conclude that the decryption has been successful. Similarly a human may recognise map co-ordinates or German or whatever. But how does a computer 'know'? And if someone has used ROT13 before employed the full brute force of AES-256 how would the computer recognise the decrypted text as correct?

Anyone know.

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

John Mangan

Re: Skill deterioration

"I'm curious how autonomous cars do in the snow"

I think you are underestimating the amount of testing being done and the number of sensors and feedback mechanisms available to such cars.

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John Mangan

Re: The future:

But even at peak times there are still plenty of cars parked on the road, in drives, in garages so, overall, you will still need fewer cars to meet the actual need than we have now - and they can all be sent off to park out of sight when not in use so streets become open, friendly places again.

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John Mangan

Re: Automate the signals

"And why do the lights at some junctions have the green light cased in a box so it is almost impossible to see?"

To stop people monitoring the cross-junction lights and jumping the gun - to meet the people who think the first three seconds of red are equivalent to green anyway.

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John Mangan

Re: The future:

@KorndogDev & @Swarthy

I agree with both of you. I love the idea of getting the car I need (small economical for the commute, People Carrier for the family holiday) when I need it rather than having the drive full of 'best compromise I can afford' lying around idle most of the time.

But, in parallel with that, anonymous people are scum and that will need some social engineering and technical measures to resolve.

As always people are the real problem - nuke from orbit?

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John Mangan

Re: Obvious study is obvious

I think the perceived problem is there is a valley to cross where cars are not fully automated and need a 'competent' driver aboard until we get to fully automated, autonomous vehicles (which could take 'some time'). But during this time many drivers will never actually drive and so, if called into action, will not be equipped to react correctly. This will be particularly acute for those that have just passed their tests but never actually accumulate the experience or driving 'for real'.

As I mentioned on another thread where such a 'level 3' vehicle had a camera to stop you looking away from the road I predict most journeys will last less than fifteen minutes as the minders repeatedly fall asleep staring at a road with no involvement in proceedings.

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Zero accidents, all of your data – what The Reg learnt at Bosch's autonomous car bash

John Mangan

I find it hard to believe . .

...that i could maintain concentration on the road for hour after hour, with nothing else to do and not allowed to look away, just in case the car needs me to take over at a moments notice.

In my view level 3 is worse than useless. You remove all of the effort, concentration, involvement in driving just so you can stare at a road unrolling before you. You can't read, sleep, still have to be sober (if that's a thing for you) and the only option is to die of boredom.

I don't know what 'level' would include automated speed monitoring and lane tracking in case you fell asleep but at least there you would have enough to do stay awake.

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Astronomers fire up AI algorithms to hunt Milky Way's hot Jupiters

John Mangan

"Only 1% of stars host Hot Jupiters"

So, in a galaxy of 100 billion stars, that 1 billion Hot Jupiters.

What other wonders await?

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New work: Algorithms to give self-driving cars 'impulsive' human 'ethics'

John Mangan

Re: In harms way

Whereas a child may be blissfully unaware of the danger they've put themselves in but the screaming adult on the pavement is fully aware - and you don't think a human would attempt collision avoidance in such a scenario?

I think this discussion here completely validates this research. It's not a straight cut-and-dried answer and therefore needs research and thinking about.

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John Mangan

Re: yeah, i'm not quite ready

@The First Dave - last week someone at work sent round a video of various dashcam OMGs.

One was taken from a moving van driving at what looked like a responsible speed down a road with closely parked cars on each side of the narrow road when a mother and two children walked straight out from behind a parked van mere feet from the moving vehicle. The mother looked up after clearing the parked van and stepped back, the driver reacted with commendable speed and stopped the van in very short order but the two kids still made contact with the bonnet - although with no obvious damage.

Shit happens. The world is not fully under out control. Idiots are abroad. Machinery fails; brake cables for instance.

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John Mangan

I believe the trolley problem is just a vehicle (pun intended) for trying to pry into how humans 'ideally' weight life and danger. It's meant to provide some way of addressing the ethical difficulties that real life can throw up - when someone's brakes fail, a pedestrian is paying more attention to their phone than the road, the cyclist who believes the public highway is the place to practice their wheelies, etc.

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John Mangan

Re: 4 seconds?

Although I agree with your analysis of panic-ed human collision avoidance I think the four seconds was chosen to try and tease out what humans would see as an 'acceptable' hierarchy of harm should such a thing come to pass.

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John Mangan

Re: yeah, i'm not quite ready

So no pedestrian will ever walk into the road from between parked vehicles without looking ever?

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John Mangan

Re: yeah, i'm not quite ready

But you're happy/ier for the meatbag behind the wheel to randomly take you out - because you've got better odds of not being targeted? Even thought he risk of this kind of avoidance maneuver being necessary in the first place may be higher with human drivers?

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John Mangan

Re: Ethical decisions

I'm aware of the variant but I suspect that people's squeamishness will kick in earlier than these scenarios would suggest.

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John Mangan

Ethical decisions

I've always wondered if, in the trolley problem, people would really throw the lever. It's one thing to say kill one person rather than five but if it requires a physical act to make that happen would most people actually do that or just stand frozen rather than taking responsibility?

I would hope (yeah, I know) that as automation improves the various sensors and programming will allow improved anticipation of events (and as more and more automated cars appear the erratic human element will decrease) and reduce the need for some of these ethical decisions.

But there will always be edge cases and few people will buy cars that will sacrifice the driver in those cases so working out 'acceptable' resolutions sounds like a good idea.

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PLATO mission to find alien life is given the thumbs up

John Mangan

Go PLATO

It still astonishes me that for a large part of my life nobody knew if there was a single planet outside the solar system with little short-term prospect of resolving that and now we know of 4000+ planets.

What progress, what a universe!

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Microsoft admits to disabling third-party antivirus code if Win 10 doesn't like it

John Mangan
Joke

Re: "It is amazing that companies still use Windows,"

"You've got to keep the magic money tree fed."

But Amber Rudd said there isn't a magic money tree?

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Uber's New York competitor sued over driver equity scheme

John Mangan

A naive, weakened, sad, embittered part of me . . . .

thinks that there must surely be a path to success for companies that actually treat their employees as if they have some intrinsic value and not as disposable inconveniences but then I look at the world.

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Banking websites are 'littered with trackers' ogling your credit risk

John Mangan
Joke

It wouldn't be so bad.....

.. if it would at least save you having to fill in all of the forms.

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Pizza proffer punctures privacy protection, prompts pals' perfidy

John Mangan

Do you want a free pizza?

Pass on this information which doesn't affect you in any obvious way and is already 'public' anyway?

Why not?

Perhaps a note saying you should ask your friend if it's okay before passing on their information?

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Break crypto to monitor jihadis in real time? Don't be ridiculous, say experts

John Mangan

"The former policy wonk -

whose performance on radio this morning was criticised as "clueless" by" - anyone with three active neurons.

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The nuclear launch button won't be pressed by a finger but by a bot

John Mangan

Re: Public sector?

It reminds me of a post-grad 'Into Business' course I attended where we had a Management Consultant providing part of the experience. Someone asked the obvious question, "So, if you go into a business where a project is running over budget and over time, how do you know you can fix it?". Without a pause the guy replied that somewhere in the organisation there will be a person who understand the issues and knows the solution but (s)he's only paid £x,000/annum. You find him/her and write up the solutions and because you are being paid 10(0)*£x,000/annum the big-wigs will listen to you.

At the time, as a callow youth, I was flabbergasted by the cynicism and effrontery of it. I've learned my lesson in the intervening years.

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Nest leaves competition in the dust with new smart camera

John Mangan

What's SMART about....

..putting an always-on panopticon spy device in your house?

Like many other posters on here; no, never.

Sell me a camera with the software and let me run my own server completely independent of the company and I might start thinking about possible uses but otherwise, I'm out!

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India sets June 5 as the day it will join the heavy-lift rocket club

John Mangan
Flame

Re: Not really heavy is it?

If this is pointing at the sky (as here) then "you have a really bad problem and will not go to space today."

(With apologies to xkcd).

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Armstrong's moon-purse set for $4m bid-off

John Mangan

RE: "Moon dust - nasty stuff."

Arthur C. clarke - A Fall of Moondust.

I think I'm due a re-read.

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Has AI gone too far? DeepTingle turns El Reg news into terrible erotica

John Mangan

Re: so this is automated buzzword bingo ?

I remember a story like that but I thought it was Strauss - can't remember the story name or author unfortunately.

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Chrome on Windows has credential theft bug

John Mangan

Re: If the .scf file contains this code:

I think some people use computers at home or while out and about .. . .

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FBI boss James Comey was probing Trump's team for Russia links. You're fired, says Donald

John Mangan

Re: TRUMP KNOWS what HE IS DOING

Satire, right?

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What augmented reality was created for: An ugly drink with a balloon

John Mangan

My first visceral disagreement with Mr. Dabbs

"Admit it, you’ll do anything to avoid being left alone at home."

Quite, quite the opposite. And choosing shopping as an alternative!? Quelle horreur!

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