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* Posts by Big John

3101 posts • joined 28 Oct 2009

The Quantum of car lists: Storage firm drives into autonomous vehicle data logging

Big John
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Re: So thinking ahead to what is happening in the printer market...

You're suggesting that in future people won't have any control over any aspect of their personal transport except for where it goes. Plenty of SF written along those lines, BTW.

I suppose it's inevitable. Cars are big hurtling objects, full of legal liabilities. Underwriting such large risks affordably requires full control over the whole process.

Why fight it? The bean counters will win, if only by outlasting the rest of us. And once everything is properly maintained according to spec, it's only a minor step to an autonomous car requirement, once the associated risks are reduced to a reasonable level.

My SciFi reader childhood wants to "thumbs-up" the whole thing, but the shadetree mechanic in me wants to blow it all up. What to do, what to do...

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Trump in Spaaaaaaace: Washington DC battles over who gets to decide the rules of trillion-dollar new industry

Big John
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> "The FCC"s remit ends at the US borders."

Even inside the borders its remit is not unbounded. If the FCC can move into space debris regulating, then it can also enforce any rules it wishes about earthly infrastructure planning and construction.

I thought their remit was supposed to be concerning spectrum and so forth. Launches are a transport issue, not anything to do with spectrum. Looks like an agency power grab was stopped cold. Is that so bad? I'm not against regluating space junk, but the FCC isn't the correct agency to do it, no matter what they had planned.

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Douglas Adams was right, ish... Super-Earth world clocked orbiting 'nearby' Barnard's Star

Big John
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Re: Shame the em drive never worked out

> "Now if we knew every planet and celestial body floating around the star then we could use gravity to show down instead..."

No we can't. Such a high-speed probe would not be close to any large mass long enough to dump a significant amount of velocity. Maybe its path would be bent slightly, but that's all.

BTW, obligatory Banard-related XKCD (published 22 Oct, 2018!)

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Open the pod bay doors: Voice of HAL 9000 Douglas Rain dies at 90

Big John
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Meh

The reveal

Yes, that line in the movie where Hal9000 reveals its intent is very gripping. But IMHO, the most interesting line is when Hal is being lobotomized and says "I'm afraid." That's when it reveals itself.

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Big John
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I bet it was programmed to say that.

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Brit boffins build 'quantum compass'... say goodbye to those old GPS gizmos, possibly

Big John
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> "Until the navy starts filling the oceans with mass-produced decoy submarine drones for them to track, that is."

I would bet they've had those for years already.

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Berners-Lee takes flak for 'hippie manifesto' that only Google and Facebook could love

Big John
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> "Give that man a knighthood"

One for each shoulder?

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GDPR USA? 'A year ago, hell no ... More people are open to it now' – House Rep says EU-like law may be mulled

Big John
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Inquiring minds

What happens if the US does enact a privacy statute and it doesn't match the EU version? Is tougher better, or weaker? Is there any chance the EU could modify theirs to compromise, assuming that's needed?

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In news that will shock absolutely no one, America's cellphone networks throttle vids, strangle rival Skype

Big John
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Re: Boosting the start of a video

> "Since they are all fast for the 30 seconds you will test obviously Sprint is not to blame!"

Just as a hypothetical, what if they discovered that the average vid call user only really looks at the image during the onset of the call, and thereafter spends more time parsing voice and merely using the vid for non-verbal clues? Given that, it might be acceptable (for them) to throttle later in the call and still not get complaints.

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FYI NASA just lobbed its Parker probe around the Sun in closest flyby yet: A nerve-racking 15M miles from the surface

Big John
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Re: So what I'm wondering now...

> "But is velocity still a Constant in these circumstances?"

Averaged across the entire orbit, yes. Some of that total velocity does get transferred to Venus tho, in order to shorten the orbital period and do more science faster. The Venus passes also help to sharpen the ellipse, which gets the spacecraft closer to the Sun without needing lots of delta-v. The elongated orbit also lets the probe communicate between passes, and limits the time spent close to the Sun, reducing wear and tear.

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Russian computer failure on ISS is nothing to worry about – they're just going to turn it off and on again

Big John
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It's the second one that's scary...

This is why triple redundancy is the rule outside the atmosphere.

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Has science gone too far? Now boffins dream of shining gigantic laser pointer into space to get aliens' attention

Big John
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Megaphone

Talk to the tentacle

If there is a galactic community out there, they would have to have rules forbidding contact with races that haven't yet developed the ability to cross between stars, or else they'd be here already. I bet those rules specifically state that deliberate electromagnetic attempts at contact don't count, no matter how earnest the signaling.

But I'm sure they'd be extremely interested and would pay close attention to whatever we send out...

You're way ahead of me. First, we message them with a broad beam, saying we know they are listening. Then we taunt them mercilessly, using our most battle-hardened trolls, for years if necessary!

Even if they still refuse to respond, it will be fun for everyone. >:-)

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US draft bill moots locking up execs who lie about privacy violations

Big John
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But how can we be sure they are telling the truth?

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Big John
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> "This bill and all others are fluff."

I disagree. Wyden is a loyal Democrat, but he's smart and sees that soon the Republicans will start to legislate these issues, reining in the tech giants, particulary if they hold onto the House. He would prefer to control and limit that conversation, thus his current proposal.

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Dawn of the dead: NASA space probe runs out of gas in asteroid belt after 6.4 billion-mile trip

Big John
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Re: Reinvest in a small nuclear powered engines program. NOW!

> "But the fissionables aren't "dead mass" they are fuel mass."

No, the fissionables are used to heat and/or accelerate the reaction mass, in theory anyway. Jettisoning your power supply out the tailpipe is a really bad idea, particularly if it's radioactive and you're still in the atmosphere.

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Big John
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Re: Reinvest in a small nuclear powered engines program. NOW!

Nuclear rockets are all well and good, but what actually matters is exhaust velocity. For a hydrogen/oxygen rocket it's about 4,400 meters per second at the nozzle. For an ion engine it's about 29,000 M/S. So ion engines have far more total impulse than chem rockets ever will.

Nuclear rockets may have a larger flow rate, but I doubt the exhaust velocity will be any higher that with ion engines (if that), and they will have to accelerate much more dead mass in the form of fissionables.

Perhaps for large payloads already in space it could be acceptable if exhaust velocity is high enough to more than offset the dead mass. Kinda like a large-scale equivalent of the ion engine's efficiency.

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Web domain owners paid EasyDNS to cloak their contact info from sight. It was blabbed via public Whois anyway

Big John
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Re: Registered private domain owners.

> "Why are registrars still publishing this info anyway?"

Good question.I went wiki on this, and it seems that once upon a time, all WHOIS info was held on a single server run by DARPA. It was set up to allow even wildcard searches! Loose as a goose.

That was apparently fine when the entire Internet could have met in one building, but now it's at least a million times larger. WHOIS outlived its desirability long ago, but inertia retards reform.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WHOIS

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Roscosmos: An assembly error doomed our Soyuz, but we promise it won't happen again

Big John
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Re: I can't get the sensor to fit

> "I would have given the poster of this the benefit of the doubt if not for..."

I love you too, VRH. ;-/

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Big John
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Re: I can't get the sensor to fit

The builders must know (don't they?) that this sensor is absolutely critical, meaning a failure of any one of them means a catastrophe. Yet this one went in "bent." Clearly the Russians have a systematic quality assurance problem, and those ain't cheap.

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US Republicans bash UK for tech tax plan

Big John
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Re: This from thieves

Well Version 1.0, I've read that speech and it basically says that corporations that directly service the government can become a big problem if not watched for signs of bribery toward politicians. Ike was quite correct about that!

But I didn't see anything in the speech about upping corporate tax rates to fix the potential bribery problem. In fact, raising taxes on military contractors more or less automatically raises their rates, thus churning the tax funds around to no purpose, unless you count "shrinkage" along the way as a purpose.

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Big John
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Re: This from thieves

> "The Republicans treat the people of the US as a piggy bank."

So when big government types raise taxes, that's the opposite of taking the people's money away? Oh right, this is about taxing corporations, not the people.

Except, corporations never pay tax. All taxes levied on them are paid out of profits. So if the government takes a bigger bite, they must raise rates to cover it or go bankrupt, thus passing the tax on to their customers, the people.

Conversely, if corporate taxes are reduced then they generally reduce rates too, because if they don't and their competitors do, their market share tanks.

So in either case it's the high corporate tax crowd that are doing the piggy bank thing, and they are rarely Republicans. Democrats are the ones who want to "stick it to the corporations," which actually adds tax burden to the people, but not in an obvious way.

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Worldwide Web wizard Tim Berners-Lee sticks wellington boot into Worldwide Web's giants: Time to break 'em up?

Big John
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Re: Timing

> "...as soon as you get a democrat government in the excited $tates."

Funny you should talk that way. FYI, the conservative part of the US has gradually become aware that the tech giants are almost entirely in the hands of very liberal Democrats. We don't like how those platforms are being gradually weighted against us for purely PC reasons. We're gradually coming to realize we can't let the online social sphere's rules be dictated by those who would be happy to stifle us, leaving the field to the Left only.

And here you come saying that it would be good to put controls on those tech giants, but only if a Democrat gets to do it. Why do I suspect this is so that the process can be made entirely for show, with no real reform at all?

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Top AI conference NIPS won't change its name amid growing protest over 'bad taste' acronym

Big John
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Re: GIMP

Dave's complaint was that "GIMP" (short form) doesn't brand the app properly by itself. It's a good point, but IMO the GIMP name isn't that bad, and it certainly sets the app apart from the other graphics apps.

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Big John
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Re: GIMP

> "I don't know why some advocates of GNU/Linux are loath to make the system easier for would-be users."

You mean change the name "GIMP" to something that instantly brands the app as a graphics tool? Well okay, but it's not a system change, IMHO.

Lessee, what catchy hook to rename "The Gimp" to, hrmmmm...

"RasterBlaster"? No...

"MyPrettyVectors"? Too precious.

"Paint-N-Stuff"? Not serious enough.

"Imaginarium"? Hasn't that been done already?

I give up. Only a simp messes with The Gimp!

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Big John
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Unhappy

Re: Sexist ?

> "Men have #NIPSTOO..."

Stunted ones, yes. Altho some of us don't look very stunted at all, oy...

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Super Cali goes ballistic, net neutrality hopeless? Even Ajit Pai's gloating is something quite atrocious

Big John
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Re: States’ Rights....

> "...it was in place long before he was in office."

Not so. True, there was plenty of talk, but nothing was going to happen legislatively, and Obama knew it. That's why he built that sand castle called Net Neutrality for us all. Then Trump came along and kicked it over. That's what happens to sand castles.

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Big John
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Re: States’ Rights....

"Conservative agenda?" Isn't that what got overridden when Obama installed NN by fiat, with no attempt to legislate it whatsoever? That was pretty inconvenient too.

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Yahoo! $50m! hack! damages! bill!, Russian trolls menaced by Uncle Sam inaction, computer voting-machine UI confusion, and more

Big John
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Re: Machines Changing Votes to Republican is Fake News!

So you didn't actually read the article. Tsk.

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Yer a solicitor, 'arry! Indian uni takes cues from 'Potterverse' to teach students law

Big John
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> "...In Middle Earth, the legal system is largely feudal..."

Point taken, but I was mostly referring to the presence of magic in the hands of a few, leading to the need and desire for laws to constrain those few powerful ones, as the minimal price for living in the larger, non-magical society. Absent such controls, human nature + great power will inevitably lead to continued abuses, creating an unstable situation. Only two outcomes are really possible: Direct suppression of the muggles by the magic users, or special laws (with teeth) to restrain those magic users.

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Big John
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> "Now if it had been a Lord of the Rings question..."

Indeed. These allegedly-intriguing legal issues aren't really specific to the Potterverse. Any universe with magic will do. I suppose the Potterverse was used in the law course due to its current popularity. IMHO they could have done better than borrow from an author who thought Quidditch was a good idea. Oy.

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Californian chap sets his folks' home on fire by successfully taking out spiders with blowtorch

Big John
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Re: @overunder

> "...especially if you were in the San Fernando Valley area of LA..."

I spent my childhood right in the middle of that valley, and I can attest that the porn industry there is a very tiny fraction of the economy, such as it is. "Dull Valley" is more like it.

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Big John
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Re: Merkins, eh ?

> "...solution to a stuck car wheel-nut..."

That's one case where a torch can actually help. Unequal expansion breaks the rust bonds, freeing the nut. Just don't set the tire on fire, and kiss that nice chrome plating goodby while you're at it.

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Big John
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Why were you letting motel pool water into your mouth at all? Don't you know where its been?

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What can I say about this 5G elixir? Try it on steaks! Cleans nylons! It's made for the home! The office! On fruits!

Big John
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Re: US voters get what they vote for

> "...they will be great when both ends are fixed."

What happens when it rains or snows?

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Big John
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Re: US voters get what they vote for

> "...unbundle the value chain..."

I must confess I'm not familiar with this particular bit of jargon. Exactly what actions are you proposing?

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Yes, Americans, you can break anti-piracy DRM if you want to repair some of your kit – US govt

Big John
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Re: Breaking DRM to perform "unauthorized repairs"

Wouldn't that put Trump on the same side as Bill Clinton, who signed the DMCA into law?

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I ship you knot: 2,400-year-old Greek trading vessel found intact at bottom of Black Sea

Big John
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Re: Wood floats...

And a lot of sailing ships have heavy rock ballast down by the keel to counteract heeling in strong side winds. That alone could make the ship negatively buoyant without displacement, and certainly a cargo load would make sure that happens.

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Core-blimey! Riddle of Earth's mysterious center finally 'solved' by smarty seismologists

Big John
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Re: out of curiosity

Fissionables distributed thruout the body of the early Earth provided enough heat to encourage the Earth to differentiate by density. As the iron and nickel began falling to the core it released its potential energy as heat, completely melting the planet.

Fissionables too, fell to the core, but the core is a big place, so probably the very rare fissionable atoms would not achieve the density needed for enhanced reactions. Not sure about that tho. If it did happen, it would have been while the planet was still molten, simply making it more so. And relatively quickly the fission reactions would have depleted fissionables to the point where fission ceases.

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It's Two Spacecraft, One Mission as BepiColombo gets ready to launch

Big John
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> "If the universe is expanding, that implies an edge which implies a centre of mass."

Current theory says that it's space itself that is expanding, and there is no "outside" for it to expand into. I gather that if you could travel long enough in a "straight" line you'd find yourself back where you started, but even that is impossible because space is expanding faster than light speed. In fact we can only ever observe a small portion of the whole thing.

Basically the universe is very weird, but we knew that.

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Big John
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> "We're talking nearly 700 tonnes of stuff, to get just over 1 tonne to orbit Mercury."

And that's AFTER including all the gravity assists as well. For a nearby planet, Mercury sure is hard to reach! It would be easy if the Sun wasn't bending space so much.

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Good news: Largest, most ancient known galaxy supercluster is spotted. Bad news: It's collapsing on itself

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Finally. The palm-sized Palm phone is back. And it will, er, save you from your real smartphone

Big John
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Flame

Re: I got a Youtube ad for suppositories...

> "No, that is the new improved AI working in conjunction with the devices upgraded sensors...."

If my "smartphone" is really smart, it won't try to pull that crap on me...

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Bloodhound Super-Sonic-Car lacks Super-Sonic-Cashflow

Big John
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Mushroom

Re: Corporate Risk

> "...the risk of the driver going splat..."

The bigger risk is going boom. Two words: "Monopropellant rocket." There's a reason that type of rocket isn't used very often. The best source for info on the subject is the dynamite book Ignition! (PDF). A real eye-opener.

But I suppose they could mean it's a solid fuel rocket, in which case it cannot be shut off once started, which might be even worse.

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The Obama-era cyber détente with China was nice, wasn't it? Yeah well it's obviously over now

Big John
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Re: China

> "So you're agreeing with him."

Name one national government that isn't evil. Chronos's comment was meant to put down the US, period.

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Big John
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Re: Reall?

> "Just how naive can people be?"

Well, Democrat Senator Dianne Feinstein employed a Chinese spy as a chauffeur for 20 years, up until a short time ago.

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Russian rocket goes BOOM again – this time with a crew on it

Big John
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I read a book by one of the Space Shuttle astronauts which speaks of the same thing. Apparently every single one of them would have gladly cut off a leg to go to space, even if the odds were just 50-50 of surviving. Only the most fanatically driven even get to the point of being considered for the job!

They are still on the bell curve to be sure, but it's way out there.

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On the first day of Christmas my true love gave me tea... pigs-in-blankets-flavoured tea

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Big John
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Devil

Re: There! Fixed that for you!

> "...im going to hell, but all the good stuff is forbidden in the Bibble and in hell anyway!"

Oh no, you have that backwards. It's in heaven that all the good stuff is forbidden. In hell you can do whatever the heck you want.

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SpaceX touches down in California as Voyager 2 spies interstellar space

Big John
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Re: Presumably you're not using ...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ARPANET

The kernel of the Internet started as a US Department of Defense project. The DoD was worried about internal communications during a nuclear attack on the US, and they wanted a distributed system that would be able to work around damaged areas of the network. Thus the first packet switching nodes were built and lo, it was Good.

The WWW part is merely HTML, which did have one vital new feature over previous markup languages: The >hyperlink<. Anyone with a mouse could easily operate them! So easily in fact, that the great unwashed masses soon occupied most of the space, alas.

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Hate to burst your Hubble: Science stops as boffins scramble to diagnose gyro problem

Big John
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Re: Not too serious

No, the failed one was the last of the old three. Now the three new ones are all that's left, and one of those is apparently cranky.

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