* Posts by jmch

160 posts • joined 6 Mar 2017

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Lucky Canada. Google chooses Toronto as site of posthuman urban lab

jmch

"If communications are so clever, so good, perhaps the Einsteins at Google could explain why people should live in cities in future? "

Because people like to meet other people in person, and like to attend live events like concerts, sports etc. No cities = no critical mass to allow this, or people travelling long distances to get there. Neither makes sense.

"We should be looking for a future where cities are demolished"

And what then? Increase the built-up area of the planet by at least ten-fold, and screw the environment even mor eroyally? Or get rid of a few billion inconvenient people?

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How DeepMind's AlphaGo Zero learned all by itself to trash world champ AI AlphaGo

jmch

Re: FFS, it isn't AI ...

"read the rules of a game it has never seen before, understand those rules well enough to play against itself to learn, and then beat a human player with equivalent experience to its training "

I think that simply "read the rules of a game it has never seen before (and) understand those rules well enough to play against (anyone)" would already meet the definition of a general-purpose AI, that is a few orders of magnitude beyond current capability.

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jmch

"would be orders of magnitude more impressed if it could also walk to the kitchen and make me a cup of coffee"

Me too. But there's a good reason this hasn't happened yet besides that it's bloody difficult, which is that it's cheap to hire a tea lady

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jmch

@pleb.... and curiously, does that mean that what is known as 'skilled labour' is actually not that skilled, while what is known as 'unskilled labour' actually requires highly developed skill?

Think about it... it takes about 4-5 years of practicing 12 hours a day, 365 days a year, to be able to do speech communication at a reasonably advanced level and develop the coordination required to tie a shoelace. That's well over 20,000 hours at the time when the brain is optimally receptive to learn stuff.

A uiniversity degree requires 4 years of maybe 40 hours a week* for maybe 40 weeks, that's 6400 hours during the time that the brain is dealing with the consequences of the body discovering alcohol.

*approximate average of the 10 hours a week studying and the rest of the time at the bar during most of the semester, combined with the 100 hours a week in the couple of weeks before exams

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Microsoft exec says ARM-powered Windows laptops have multi-day battery life

jmch

Re: Does it run...

" heading to a future where linux can only be installed on a few niche variants of laptop"

Well, in the real world installing linux on a laptop is a niche market, so fair enough

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EU: No encryption backdoors but, eh, let's help each other crack that crypto, oui? Ja?

jmch
Thumb Up

Refreshing

How very refreshing to hear this from the EU:

“The commission’s position is very clear – we are not in favour of so-called backdoors, the utilisation of systemic vulnerabilities, because it weakens the overall security of our cyberspace, which we rely upon”

US and UK take note!

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NHS: Remember those patient records we didn't deliver? Well, we found another 162,000

jmch
Facepalm

Re: Support your NHS

"My personal experiences with the NHS have been uniformally excellent... etc etc"

So in other words, the frontline medical staff are good but their work is undermined by incompetent management / rubbish IT, and the powers-that-be seek to solve this by allowing the existing icompetent management to source more IT.

Hmmmm, I wonder if that will work?

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IRS tax bods tell Americans to chill out about Equifax

jmch

Re: 'IRS has tooled up to deal with fraudulent tax claims.'

"Tax-Back fraud has been in full swing for 2 decades thanks to weak IRS processes"

Why on earth have a tax system where refunding tax money is a huge part of the process? What that means is that they're not collecting the correct amount in the first place. I have long held that hugely simplifying the tax code (in any country.but I think US is a particularly egregious example) by stripping out most of the exceptions/rebatesand lowering the tax rates would result in (a) more total tax collected and (b) more people with more money in their pockets. Note that these 2 are not contradictory, since it is mostly richer people who can hire the best tax lawyers and use loopholes and rebates to reduce their effective tax rates to far below what the middle class pays.

Effect (c) would be a negative effect on tax lawyers, but hey, no pain no gain, right?

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Man prosecuted for posting a picture of his hobby on Facebook

jmch

Re: Police Scotland = Morons with time on their hands

"I don't think the police having a break and a bit of fun is them "making arses of themselves""

I wouldn't think that police having fun while on their break is 'making arses of themselves' either, but the point is that (according to the story at least), they were on duty. That's not 'making arses of themselves' , that's gross unprofessionalism / misconduct.

Of course it could be the case that they weren't really on duty at all, maybe there was a large contingent of officers at the fair and they had just switched shifts or something. And since it's the Mail I'm more inclined to give the benefit of the doubt to the officers.

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Now German companies are beating the drum over poor patent quality

jmch

What???

There is no solid evidence of a fall in quality, he countered, and pointed out that the number of appeals had actually fallen. "The mere fact that more patents are granted does not mean that the quality suffers," he argued.

What rubbish!!! If EPO rejects a patent, the filer will presumably appeal. If the patent is accepted, of course there will be no appeal. So less appeals is an obvious result of more patents granted. Mor epatents granted means either an upsurge in quality of patent filings, or a lowering of standards for accepting filings of the same quality. My money is on the second.

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Resellers on Surface: Yeah, go ahead and kill it. What do we care...

jmch

"... if Apple used MacOS on their ipads..."

I believe there are some efforts underway to integrate iOS and OSX (for example killing iPhoto on OSX to replace it with the iOS-derived version). BUT that is a huge process, and I'm not at all sure how much common code base is shared between the 2. Apple sell a ton of kit with either OS so it's probbaly not a priority for them.

Microsoft had a good shot with their original Windows Mobile, and the right idea with Continuum of getting a common code base. But didn't get critical mass with many apps not being converted and so missed that boat.

I guess that since Android is broadly speaking Linux-based that Google would have a good shot at combining a phone with a laptop, but they aren't interested in selling you a Linux desktop

Having a full-fledged desktop OS on mobile would be awesome in a way, just connect peripherals and you can work with a desk(lap)top wherever you have your phone. But there's still a long way to go to get there

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Storms blow away 2017 Solar Challenge field

jmch

Re: hollow laughter

"Nope, if anything improved battery energy density will make it worse...."

Yes, if as OP says, the source is renewables. For example most charging will be at night, when you don't have solar farms online. But most consumption currently is during the day, so EV charging at night would smooth out demand. Bottom line, we need lots of nuclear baseload to underpin supplementary renewable generation.

"If... people want to trickle charge overnight from flat"

That's an awfully generalised assumption. If people had a 500-mile range EV, most of them would need to fully recharge it every 1-2 weeks. More likely the trickle overnight charge is equivalent to the daily commute (maybe 50 miles not 500), so 2kW required not 20. That's 2 kettles or 1 heater equivalent.

"For a 'fast charge' when on a long journey (5 mins) "

If someone has just driven 500 miles straight (about 8hrs) it is actually dangerous for them to top up the tank and go, and same for EV. Safe driving guidelines recommend stopping for a rest every few hours, and even if you're switching drivers, you've got to stop for food at some point. 1 hour stop every 8 hours driven is not unreasonable. So requirement goes form 2400kW to 200kW. Current Tesla superchargers reach up to 120kW per car, so 200 is quite a bit more, but not hugely so.

And how many people actually have the real need to drive 500 miles and, after 1 hour wait, drive another 500?

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jmch

Re: hollow laughter

"Capacity (power density) is increasing at 5-8% per year. If this continues, when power density approaches that of hydrocarbons"

Best Li battery - 234Wh/kg

Petrol - almost 13,000 Wh/kg

At 8% increase per year even if that is sustainable (highly doubtful) it will take over 50 years.

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jmch

@Peter2

It seems to me that Tesla are already well on the way to resolving issue 1 and 2 that you raise. They are already at the stage where their products satisfy a large amount of (highly) paying customers, and incremental improvements can be made without requiring big breakthroughs. A lot of people don't even need that much range, and the model 3 is addressing that (lower-cost) market.

As to the third point, even if EVs are powered from electricity generated by fossil fuels, max efficiency of a combined cycle turbine generator is much higher that that of ICE in a car (arounf 50% vs 30-35% I believe). Of course you are right, more generating capacity is needed, some of which can be from solar panels on people's houses, but a lot of which has to come from elsewhere. Nuclear would be good.

Thumbs up for the 'highways with overhead power' image: Bumping cars :)

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jmch

"we will see electric cars with ranges of 660 miles before 2030"

Driving 660 miles without topup is very much an edge case. If the battery is too heavy it badly affects your range anyway. I think car companies would eventually provide maybe 500 miles range at most for high-end cars once the technology can sustain it. That's about as much as a modern diesel can go on one tank. Most customers would anyway prefer a cheaper car with less range if they are never going to drive 500 miles at a go. 300 mile range is pretty good if you have fast charging.

Tesla model S 85D (85kWh) claims 'normal use' range of 270 miles. The electric motors themselves are very well understood and I doubt can increase efficiency noticeably, so theoretical 500 mile range EV needs a battery of about 160kWh. The limit of how heavy the battery can be without making the car impractical is about 500-600kg*, so you need specific energy of at least 266Wh/kg.

Current Lithium-ion batteries can generate about 160Wh/kg**, so it requires a considerably higher specific energy. Probably it will require a completely new battery technology to get to that energy density, so making it commercially available*** in 12 years is doubtful even for 500 mile range.

* for comparison, a full tank of petrol might way, say 50kg, and even a pretty big engine will be about 250kg. Additional weight for drivetrain and other ICE-related components not needed on EV approx 100kg more, 400kg total. Tesla's 85kWh battery is 540kg

**Tesla's battery would work out at about 160Wh/kg , the real value may be more as I guess the battery pack hasome structural elements adding weight. Per wikipedia, 100-234Wh/kg range, I'm guessing the higher ones are experimental

***I have no doubt it will be technically possible based on experimental batteries but it needs to be mass-manufactured relatively cheaply to make a mainstream EV

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Dying! Yahoo! loses! fight! to! lock! dead! man's! dead! account!

jmch

Re: No need to rule on terms of service

Email, social media and all other sort of online accounts are just electronic versions of what in past times would be known as ones 'papers'. And a deceased person's papers are part of their estate.

No brainer really. Yahoo, Google, FB etc etc are no longer niche sites for post-graduates. They have billions of accounts, they each have probably tens of thousands of account holders who die daily. Surely they must have solid mechanisms to allow a deceased person's lawfaul heirs access to their accounts.

Of course, I understand that it becomes difficult if they cannot link a physical person to an account...

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Keep your voice down in the data centre, the HDDs have ears! I SAID, KEEP...

jmch

Re: Faster hard drives???

Active noise cancellation might be useless, but isolating noisy components in the datacenter and soundproofing everything else might help.

Of coursesound proofing necessarily blocks or restricts ventilation, so maybe a combination of soundproofing with liquid cooling. Is that too complex/expensive to improve disk performance. And how much improvement are we talking here? article doesn't specify but I would guess that if noise were a major problem interfering with disks, I would have heard a lot of noise about it :)

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Drone smacks commercial passenger plane in Canada

jmch
Joke

Re: How is it different

" videos of dead birds being tossed into jet engines to make sure the spectacular failure doesn't take out the entire plane"

Puts me in mind of a (possibly apocryphal) tale about using whole chickens bought in a local supermarket to simulate bird engine strikes. One particular test completely destroyed the engine to a far greater extent than the testers had ever anticipated. Then they learned to defrost the chickens before shooting them into the engines.

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Open source sets sights on killing WhatsApp and Slack

jmch

Re: Searching for old messages in different apps = nightmare

So what's needed is something like the Blackberry message centre (I forget what it was called) that links email, sms and various chat clients in one app that is searchable in one place.

Unless some chat clients can lock external apps from getting their data, which I would not put past FB messenger etc

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jmch

Obligatory XKCD

https://xkcd.com/927/

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Oz military megahack: When crappy defence contractor cybersecurity 'isn't uncommon', surely alarm bells ring?

jmch

Re: third party assurance

"have a third party pen-test organisation try to break in with no warning"

The (potential) contractor would have to know about the test, so they would have to have SOME warning even if not knowing the exact date. It's illegal to commission a pen-test on a network you do not own, even for a government ministry. For all the horrorshows of government overreach, Australia is still not North Korea.

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'There has never been a right to absolute privacy' – US Deputy AG slams 'warrant-proof' crypto

jmch

Re: If...

"One end may be outside your jurisdiction and you don't know enough about your end to establish probable cause."

Not knowing enough about your end to establish probable cause, (meaning you wouldn't get a warrant) is EXACTLY the reason why law enforcement should not have access to the decrypted message

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jmch

Re: Actually, I think he is right

I wonder if it is mathematically possible to devise an encryption system that has a generic key that will only work after X time period, like a safe that unlocks automatically at a given time??

Or else use FOI-like mechanism to publish encrypted government documents, and they would automatically enter the public domain after a number of years once the encryption can be broken in reasonable time.

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jmch

"if the fate of the world depends on breaking an unbreakable message"

That hypothetical is a straw man much-loved by the extremists on the law enforcement side. The fate of the world most certainly never has, does not, and will never depend on breaking an unbreakable message.

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jmch

Re: By the same token...

"warrant-less mass tapping of communications has been going on since the NSA admitted itWikileaks reported"

"warrant-less mass tapping of communications has been going on *for a long time before* the NSA admitted it / Wikileaks reported"

ftfy

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jmch

I agree. He isn't saying anything unreasonable. Simply that being able to search suspects (whether physically or digitally) WITH A WARRANT BASED ON PROBABLE CAUSE is part of the rule of law, and isn't some newly made-up attack on privacy. On the other hand I fully support everyone's right to privacy, and the importance of strong encryption.

Here's the thing - It used to be the case that in the physical world, using warrants to force physical access (backed up with coercive force where required) was a well-worked out system with checks and balances that (mostly) worked well to balance privacy and law enforcement concerns. Encryption technology has borked that balance by rendering ineffective the coercive force to back up a legal warrant (in other words, law enforcement cannot brute-force unencrypt suspect's data if the suspect is not cooperative to the warrant). So it's not possible to balance these interests anymore. Either encryption works, in which case law enforcement loses a powerful tool, to the detriment of well-functioning society, or else encryption does not work (which is the net result of any backdoor), also to the detriment of well-functioning society.

No easy solution here

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Calm down, Elon. Deep learning won't make AI generally intelligent

jmch

"They need to be better than an experienced human driver"

Ideally, and as an end-case scenario, yes. What I meant was that self-driving cars will be *immediately useful* when they are as good as an average driver because that is the point where introducing them would not be a change for the worse. And from that point onwards they will only get better, since by collecting and pooling their experience they can build on billions rather than millions of miles driven.

"Why should such a driver hand over to the equivalent of a less experienced version of himself"

He shouldn't... but the problem there is that 90%* of drivers think they are better than average, and most will be quite convinced of being better than the self-driving car even if they are not. The key point in the end will be convenience: Even if I think I am a better driver, do I think the AI is at least good enough that I can trust it to drive? If yes, most people would rather spend a couple of hours of productivity, entertainment or rest and allow the car to drive rather than drive themselves. (In fact seeing what is already happening eg the Tesla fatal crash, some people are already far overestimating the AI capabilities)

*Rule-of-thumb guesstimate, but I'm pretty sure its not far off the mark.

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jmch

Re: Bishop Bollocks

"a monist (as opposed to a dualist who believes that we have a brain for no real reason because all our thinking is done by a soul)."

some nit-picking here... I'm not making a claim for people not having a soul or otherwise, but in none of the religious knowledge that was force-fed to me in my youth was it ever claimed that the soul is what does our thinking for us.

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jmch

Re: Bishop Bollocks

Just because there is no magic involved does not mean that we can ever fully understand the brain, or model it, or create an artificial one. No one said anything about souls, in spite of your ASSUMPTION that Bishop is religious (nominative determinism at play?)

Also keep in mind that the brain, physically, is far more than a neural net. The basic model of neural net is that a neuron fires if it has enough incoming connections that trigger it, and so on down the line. But it's not just electricity, there's also a shitload of biochemistry involved that allows fine-tuning and reprograming on the fly.

To think that it's possible to reproduce is a worty goal, but not one that we even know for sure is achievable. And if we can artificially reproduce the equivalent of a human brain, then what? Humans aren't very intelligent are they?

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jmch
Thumb Up

Re: Taking over the world?

" Nobody can provably say, "No." "

That, dear Captain, is Russell's teapot! But many thanks for the thought-provoking laugh :)

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jmch

"I've driven a million miles (on and off road and in the craziest cities in four of the world's continents) and have had 3 accidents"

One sample, possibly outlier, is not representative. Many other things to consider, eg how many of Googlecar accidents were caused by others, how is that rate improving over time, how many of human accidents are caused by DUI, overspeeding etc.

You yourself are surely a better driver now than when you first got your license, and even more so than when you started to learn to drive. Self-driving cars will take much longer to learn than human drivers, and in the end might not be as good as the best human drivers, but all that is needed is that they are at least as good as the average human driver.

And lets face it, AI or no AI the self-driving will become better and better. Human drivers are technically abiout as good now as they're ever going to get. The only improvements that can be made in human driving are on the physical/emotional level (not driving when drunk, angry, stressed-out in a hurry etc)

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jmch

Re: I can still prove mathematically that we cannot...

A large part of human intelligence and processing is related to sensations and feelings. We can understand a graph more easily than a table, there's a reason for that. Our internal processing is very intimately connected to the nature of inputs available (visual, auditory, sensation etc), and although most of our neurons are in the brain, there are also a significant amount of neurons connecting nerve endings through spinal cord to the brain.

While mathematically we can show that different internal representations can be equivalent to each other, it's quite conceivable that an AI brain can be very clever with respect to abstract maths, puzzles atc but still be an 'idiot' in the real world because the internal representation of electronic bits cannot be made functionally equivalent to an internal representation made of a mix of biochemistry and electric signals

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Fending off cyber attacks as important as combatting terrorism, says new GCHQ chief

jmch

Priorities...

"Fending off cyber attacks as important as combatting terrorism"

Hmmm....

Translatingfrom politician-speak to tech-speak = "Having strong encryption as important as breaking encryption"

Does not compute!

You cannot make these 2 equal priority, one has to be more important than the other. And to any sane non-politician (mostly, but not limited to, anyone with any understanding of encryption) that means that fending off cyber attacks has to be a higher priority than combatting terrorism.

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Hipster disruptor? Never trust a well-groomed caveman with your clams

jmch

Re: Turtlenecks, boybeards...

"Methuselah at 956 years"

Societies at that time and place used both a solar and a lunar calendar. 956/12 = 79.67. Quite believable that if it was common for people to live until 70, that one particular individual could make it to nearly 80, and that he would be regarded as exceptionally, indeed legendarily, long-lived.

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Web uni says it will get you a tech job or your money back. So our man Kieren signed up...

jmch

Re: Shortage ?

It's quite common for companies to not work on projects that they need done because they are unwilling to fund the projects to the required level. AKA the projects are not important enough, otherwise the funding would be found. So how much of the 600,000 are "I would like to hire another couple of techies but we'll do fine without" and how much are "I absolutely desperately need such-and-such skills and I'm willing to pay, but I really can't find anyone to fit the bill"?

My gut feeling is it's probably around 599,000:1000 between the 2 scenarios.

Of course it's also the case that companies want more and more technically skilled people because the simple volume would drive wages down through the usual supply-and-demand rules

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NASA tests supersonic parachute, to help us land on Mars

jmch

Re: Descent?

If the chute deployed too soon, does that mean it was further up than it should have been (in thinner atmosphere?), and that the good test results are actually excellent?

Or does it mean it deployed before rocket reached full height (in thicker atmosphere) and therefore teh good results are to be taken with a pinch of salt?

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Google touts Babel Fish-esque in-ear real-time translators. And the usual computer stuff

jmch

Re: No audio jack

Also, how often do I need to charge the phone at the same time as I'm listening to something?

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Facebook, Google, Twitter are the shady bouncers of the web. They should be fired

jmch

Re: Society

" a democracy populated by people generally lacking a well developed sense of cynicism " is by design.

Governments have been for over a century designing educational systems to beat the skepticism and independent thought out of students, and make sure that they listen to authority, no dissent, become obedient workers.

Now that the major source of information is no longer governments and press controlled by a restricted elite, and now that any idiot or whackjob has a global audience, we get this mess

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US Senate stamps the gas pedal on law to flood America's streets with self-driving cars

jmch

Re: A dangerous hands-off approach to hands-free driving

"Dropped from about 45,000 to 35,000 over the last 10years. Mostly multi-stage airbags which can save you if you are too "free" to wear a seat belt"

That implies reduced deaths from the same number of accidents. The idea of self-driving cars is reduce the number of accidents. Doesn't have to be big-bang to stage 5 full autonomy. lane-departure warning, haptic feedback if driver is drowsy, collision-detection with automatically applied brakes etc etc are all current technologies that will do a lot to reduce accidents

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jmch

"I question quite why governments, not just in the US but in Europe too, are pushing the adoption of autonomous vehicles so enthusiastically."

This is why:

(From US national institute of health)

"Road traffic injuries are one of the leading causes of death worldwide resulting in more than 1.27 million deaths; almost equal to the number of deaths caused by HIV/ AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined. In addition, road traffic crashes are estimated to cause 20 to 50 million non-fatal injuries every year.... It is estimated that road traffic injuries will move up in the ranking of leading causes of death from tenth in 2004 to fifth in 2030...Economic cost of road traffic injuries is roughly 1%–2% of gross national product in most of countries"

The cynic in me tells me governments aren't too bothered about the deaths but the 2% of GDP

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Azure fell over for 7 hours in Europe because someone accidentally set off the fire extinguishers

jmch

Re: The insane thing about it is...

"Redundant A/C" - seems like it's useless having redundant A/C if they all shut down in case of fire!

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What is the probability of being drunk at work and also being tested? Let's find out! Correctly

jmch

Re: and in the real world

in the real world, drunk guy* will just pull a sickie

somehow, it's always a guy, I've never seen a woman drunk at work

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jmch
Pint

First test

"We are testing 52 times a year. What are the chances that, on the first day we perform the test, the person will be sober? "

If the first day the test is performed is the first working day of the ear, th echances are pretty low I would say :)

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ISIS and Jack Daniel's: One of these things is not like the other

jmch
Coffee/keyboard

"or it was that blind bloke with a hook for a hand and that’s the best he could do"

coffee-spill guffaw moment!

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jmch

Re: Ignorance knows no borders

Swiss neighbourliness, huh?

Another speciality is to complain of the most minor infraction to the building management, who then send you (or possibly everyone in the building if nosy snooper hasn't identified a cuplrit) a note to cease and desist.

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Nothing matters any more... Now hapless Equifax bags $7.5m IT contract with US taxmen

jmch

Re: No bid?

"Speaking as a database engineer..."

...and that right there is the key thing. The people wanting this business aren't database engineers, they're businessmen who don't care about the deliverable. They care that they can get paid tons of cash for a project, knowing that they can find some underpaid schmucks to (attempt to) get it done, and knowing that there are no real consequences for failure.

Coming to think about it, maybe that's why so few database engineers are millionaires compared to conmen-in-suits

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Life began after meteorites splashed into warm ponds of water, say astronomers

jmch
Trollface

"Cairns-Smith proposed that things began with clay..."

So the bible was right!!! :)

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Brit prosecutors fling almost a million quid at anti-drone'n'phone ideas

jmch
Thumb Up

Re: If they're that concerned ...

"hire sufficient staff!"

This, except that many times it is the staff themselves who are the weak links in the security. So you have to pay them enough to make bribery less of an incentive, and also have systems in place where nothing can be done by one guard on their own, and there are no fixed pairs of guards that can get things done together

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jmch

Re: £50k doesn't cut it for being "commercially exploitable"

I guess the 'commercially exploitable' means they don't need to pay any licensing, although of course they still need to pay for equipment.

For me, I think faffing about with e-solutions to detect/stop drones is stupid. Just put fishing nets all round and above prison yards. Cheap to install and maintain, and if fine enough would also stop stuff being lobbed over the walls. Job done

Can I have my 50 grand please?

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