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* Posts by Cuddles

1203 posts • joined 3 Nov 2011


Virgin Galactic test flight reaches space for the first time, lugging NASA cargo in place of tourists

Cuddles Silver badge

Re: Terminological inexactitudes

"You wonder what it'd take to blow the skirt up of some of the less-impressed posters - I don't get any human who doesn't think the achievement is spectacular."

What achievement? Rockets capable of doing better than this have been in use since at least WW2. Multiple countries routinely launch rockets not just into orbit but to land on other planets, and even private enterprise has started hitting orbit as a matter of routine. There are student groups launching rockets almost as capable in their spare time. An online IT rag sent a paper aeroplane not too much lower for goodness sake.

"Be in the first handful of people who've seen our home from above?"

First handful? If this was still the 1960s maybe, but we're a bit past that now. I completely agree that this would be a cool sight-seeing trip for those who can afford it. But in terms of actual achievement it's about equivalent to catching the train up Snowdon - trains were impressive engineering when they were invented but we've had them going higher and faster for quite a while now, and taking one to somewhere people have been visiting for decades just isn't a big deal. There are plenty of spectacular achievements around that absolutely do blow my skirt up. But when we're landing on comets, bringing back bits of asteroids, looking at multiple probes still working while leaving the Solar System nearly 50 years after launch... finding yourself arguing about whether your rocket reached space because you can't even reach the generally agreed border is not something most people would consider spectacular.

'Say hello to my little vacuum cleaner!' US drug squad puts spycams in cleaner's kit

Cuddles Silver badge

Re: The War on Drugs

"Given that the CIA is known to have dabbled in the drug trade in order to fund its black projects, the war on drugs was doomed from the start."

People always bring up the CIA and similar in this context, but they're really not relevant. People have been enjoying drugs for as far back in time as it's possible for us to detect that sort of thing. Alcohol is unsurprisingly the biggest, but you just have to look at how almost every culture has some kind of tradition involving some sort of mind altering substance to see just how fundamental this is. And of course, once you start looking at other animals, you find that pretty much all of them will behave in exactly the same way given half a chance; they're mostly limited simply by the inability to produce said substances themselves rather than all being puritanical teetotals.

The war on drugs was doomed from the start not because of the CIA, but simply because running around shouting at everyone to stop enjoying themselves was just never going to work. Sensible regulations and education are one thing, but trying to enforce a blanket ban on everything is obviously stupid on the face of it. No government black ops required, just basic human animal nature.

Boffins build blazing battery bonfire

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"which have been known to burst into flames"

The problem with energy storage is that it involves storing energy. If the storage system fails in some way, that energy will inevitably be released. Sure, lithium-ion batteries can catch fire when that happens. But look at the results when a dam bursts, a big flywheel gets loose, or a coal mine catches fire. When your goal is to compress as much energy as you can into the smallest volume possible, the results of suddenly dumping it all into the local environment are never going to be pretty.

Tech support discovers users who buy the 'sh*ttest PCs known to Man' struggle with basics

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Re: I spent two years in tech support

"Though the button no longer has the text 'Start', if you hover your mouse over it you get a tooltip that says 'Start'. In Windows 10 at least."

Not the version of Windows 10 I'm using. In fact, the not-start button appears to be the only thing on the taskbar that doesn't have a tooltip at all.

Naked women cleaning biz smashes patriarchy by introducing naked bloke gardening service

Cuddles Silver badge

Still seems kind of sexist

The whole point of not being sexist is that men and women are treated the same. Providing women to do the cooking and cleaning and men to do manly things with tool outdoors is still just as sexist as only providing one of them. The non-sexist way to do it would simply be to provide anyone who is willing and able to do the job without worrying about what gender they might be. You know, exactly the same way non-naked cleaning and gardening services work. If customer demand or the pool of willing workers happens to favour one thing over another that's not an issue, but stating up front that you'll only allow girls to do one job doesn't get balanced out by only allowing boys to do something completely different.

Oz opposition folds, agrees to give Australians coal in their stockings this Christmas

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Re: You can read my SMSs but you can take my WhatsApps from my cold dead hands

"1. Are we ok with lawful intercept?

2a. If not, why is nobody saying this in these discussions?"

They are. The problem is that some technologies are inherently insecure, so there's very little point making a fuss about it. Not all that long ago, the only way to send communications beyond shouting distance was to write it down and give it to someone to carry for you. Complain all you like about whether they should be able to, but there's absolutely nothing you can do to stop anyone from reading that letter, so for the most part people simply didn't bother complaining about it. Similarly, intercepting telegraph and radio signals was not particularly difficult (with broadcast radio, potentially much easier), so if the government says they reserve the right to snoop, why bother complaining? They're going to do it anyway, and there's simply no such thing as a secure alternative.

The arguments about encryption are all coming up now because there's actually an argument to be had. The development of things like public key cryptography and the spread of powerful computers means that people now have the option to have truly secure communications. And not only do they have that option, but since these things have spread before laws regulating them have been made, they've become used to actually using that option. It's similar to how people were willing to buy hilariously overpriced albums because that was the only way to get music, then Napster came along and suddenly there was an argument to be had about how things should work. No matter what your thoughts on ethics and such, once you've shown people a way of doing things that they like, taking it away from them again is not an easy task. Hence Amazon and iTunes and Spotify and so on.

Communications are in essentially the same position now. All communications used to be open to easy snooping, so there didn't used to be much point worrying about it (although some still did; see for example protests about censorship of letters during WWI and II). Now we have some secure methods of communication, but some people want to take them away from us.

As for why some formats should be privileged and others not, see above. There's absolutely nothing you can do to stop someone reading your letters, so complaining that they shouldn't is just wasting your breath. As the British government has demonstrated recently, spy agencies are going to snoop on everything they can whether it's legal or not, and they'll make it retroactively legal if they think it's worth the bother. Since I can't, in practice, protect my letters, I'm willing to accept that they are not protected. But since I can and currently do protect my Whatapp messages, encrypted emails, and so on, I'm willing to fight not to lose access to such things.

Thought black holes were donut-shaped? It turns out they're more like deadly fountains

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Re: Well, the accretion disk anyhow

"To be clear, the black hole itself is still extremely spherical."

No it isn't. The only kind of black hole that can be spherical is a perfectly isolated one with zero charge and zero angular momentum, and it's impossible for that to exist in the real world. It's been known that neither the singularity or event horizon in real black holes are actually spherical for quite a while.

It's also worth noting that this article is completely wrong. From the paper:

"which would explain the longstanding mystery of the physical origin of the AGN torus."

Note that "torus" is the technical term for "donut-shaped". The paper doesn't say anything about the accretion disk being fountain-shaped instead of donut-shaped, the fountain is the explanation for how the disk becomes donut-shaped. Without that, it wasn't understood why it would be a thick donut instead of the expected thin disk.

Gigabit? More like, you can gigabet the US will fall behind on super-fast broadband access

Cuddles Silver badge

Re: A variation of the early computer model then...

"I would like to be able to upload or down load 5GB of grand baby movies or a 3GB Linux upgrade in seconds instead of hours."

Indeed. For some reason this keeps having to be said every single time anyone mentions internet speeds, but apparently some people just can't grasp the concept that saving time is actually useful, or that many households contain more than one person. Hands up who remembers the good not-that-old days when it took half an hour or more just to download a single entirely legal mp3 from Napster? Surely there can be no need for anything faster than 56.6kbps; after all, we had our music at the end of it so what could possibly be the point in downloading it any faster?

At this point, sane people will probably notice that being able to download an entire album in under a minute is actually quite a bit more convenient, and most people were quite happy to see faster download speeds even before online video became widespread. Nothing meaningful has changed since then. Gaming is bigger than ever and almost entirely online these days - even if you buy a physical disc you'll still need to download GBs of updates as soon as you install it. And with games easily topping 100 GB, anyone telling me that 20 MBps internet is fine because there's no reason I would want to download a game in minutes instead of hours is simply an idiot.

Sure, no normal home user is going to continuously saturate a gigabit internet connection 24/7, but that's not relevant. Pretty much anyone will be able to see a benefit from higher download speeds (and more rarely upload speeds). Exactly how much benefit they see and what cost they consider worth it will of course vary depending on circumstances, but the idea that there's no use for it at all is utterly ridiculous.

Mobile networks are killing Wi-Fi for speed around the world

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Re: Just to echo so many more of the comments

"Highest 'normal' usage I can think of is a spangly Netflix 4k HDR stream - which comes in around 15M."

And you have four people in your house all streaming different shows, while one of them also downloads a game on Steam, and they're all looking at videos and other shit on WhatsFace while doing it. I really don't understand why every single time this issue comes up, people insist on declaring that since they only ever have a single person doing a single low-bandwidth activity, no-one could ever care about having more than 256kB of memory 15Mbps download speeds.

Google logins make JavaScript mandatory, Huawei China spy shock, Mac malware, Iran gets new Stuxnet, and more

Cuddles Silver badge

Static content

"Chances are, JavaScript is already enabled in your browser; it helps power lots of the websites people use everyday. But, because it may save bandwidth or help pages load more quickly, a tiny minority of our users (0.1%) choose to keep it off," Google offers.

"This might make sense if you are reading static content"

Static content like search results or email, for example? I suppose maps might need some clever stuff going on somewhere, but I can't think of anything else Google provides that isn't entirely static content with no use for Javascript. Maybe advertising and tracking would need it, but they said they're doing this to protect their users, not to make it even easier to steal everyone's data. Right?

While everyone coos at the promise of 5G, UK network Three asks if it can tempt you with 4G+

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Re: Interesting...

"Then I think you misunderstand the point of 5G.

It's not just about theoretical data rates to an individual phone. It's about scaling data rates in aggregate in congested areas where there simply isn't enough 4G spectrum to go around."

I think you misunderstand the point of 5G.

It's not about data rates at all. It's about a marketing buzzword that's been thrown around so much that now the poor engineers are having to desperately scramble to come up with a real idea it can be attached to. No-one has any clue what the standard might actually end up looking like or what purpose will be retroactively attached to it, but as long as we can throw around terms like IoT and blockchain, at least we can all have a good game of buzzword bingo.

We (may) now know the real reason for that IBM takeover. A distraction for Red Hat to axe KDE

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Re: Does anyone use an IDE on RHEL anyway?

Not only do we use desktop RHEL, we're using KDE. Of course, given the version we're currently on, I don't expect anyone to notice this for a good decade or so.

Nikola Tesla's greatest challenge: He could measure electricity but not stupidity

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Re: Anti-intellectual?

"It's one thing for a bunch of religion-stoned goatshaggers to be hostile to science, but it is positively baffling to see the same thing in Britain"

It's almost as though people are pretty much the same the world over, and trying to split them up into a nice neat "enlightened us" and "religion-stoned goatshagging them" doesn't do a particularly good job of representing reality.

Budget 2018: Landlords could be forced to grant access for full-fibre connections

Cuddles Silver badge

"But I'm pretty sure I don't have to agree to have my house ripped apart to install gas pipes."

Try re-reading the part you quoted at the start:

"If a landlord is absent or unidentifiable"

If you say no to them, you're obviously not absent or unidentifiable. What they want is permission to install when the people actually living in the place want the service, but the person who actually owns the building refuses to acknowledge any communications - not saying no, but simply not replying to anything at all.

If you have inner peace, it's probably 'cos your broadband works: Zen Internet least whinged-about Brit ISP – survey

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A bit more information please

What does any of this actually mean? Some people were apparently surveyed in some way. What were they asked, and what responses were possible? Are the numbers presented absolute or some proportion? 100 people per 100,000 would be huge, 100 total would be tiny, 100 out of some sample specifically prompted to voice their complaints would be something depending on the questions. As it stands, there's no meaningful information being presented here at all, and not even a link to where it all came from to allow us to go and check.

Edit: Ah, just noticed it's an Orlowski article. I really need to get better at checking that before I waste my time reading.

Concerns over cops' crap computer kit: UK MPs call for cash, capacity, command

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"Policing in the UK has suffered massive budget cuts in recent years, but crime continues to rise."

That's an odd way to phrase it. Policing in the UK has suffered massive budget cuts in recent years, which is why crime continues to rise. It may not be the only factor involved, but it's sure as hell one of the big ones.

AI can predict the structure of chemical compounds thousands of times faster than quantum chemistry

Cuddles Silver badge

"People had to do all the DFT calculation -- and still have to do them for anything unusual the thing has not been trained for."

Indeed. It's all very well getting a AI machine learning prediction on what a new molecule might look like in only 6 minutes, but that doesn't really help if you still need to spend years doing real physics to check if it's actually right.

Sorry friends, I'm afraid I just can't quite afford the Bitcoin to stop that vid from leaking everywhere

Cuddles Silver badge

The Coffin' Henry approach

"Now that I think about it, perhaps I should begin threatening to send these videos out myself. It could be like a protection racket. Or a kind of crowdfunded auto-boycott. Pay up or witness a middle-aged British IT journalist tucking into a bit of beef jerky! I could have a website, an e-zine and everything!"

Sir Pterry already figured that one out. "For sum money, I won't follow you home. Coff coff." Perhaps we should be thankful Discworld never developed an equivalent of the internet, or even VHS.

Shingled-minded Western Digital insists its latest hard drive sets disk capacity record

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Re: Wow, a 7% increase

"Without some major capacity increases, hard drives will eventually not make economic sense even for nearline storage."

"Eventually" being the important word there. Even with major capacity increases, it's pretty much a certainty that hard drives will eventually become obsolete. So will tape. So will our current version of solid-state storage. Exactly when any of that happens will depend on the details of exactly what technological developments happen when, but there can be no doubt that it will happen. Eventually. But aside from navel-gazing futurists, what matters is what's actually available now and likely to be available in the near future. No-one actually cares if hard drives will stop making economic sense in 20 years or 100 years; developments like this are important for deciding what makes economic sense right now.

Motorola: Oops, phone busted? Grab a spudger and go get 'em, champ

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Re: I think my next phone will be a Motorola

"They'll also need to sell parts, so you have an official source. Or do you just plan to trust whatever gets sold on eBay as "Motorola compatible"?"

I guess it's a good job that they are, in fact, selling parts. Through iFixit. You know, the one linked in the article. If only there were some way of finding that out before commenting on it.

Talk about a curveball: Microsoft director of sports marketing fired, charged with fraud over 'fake' invoices

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Bloody hell

Over $3200 for a single sportsball match? Pretty sure Tran isn't the only one scamming people here.

Note that's not a comment against sport in general; the FA Cup, for example, is the equivalent for football in England and you can get a ticket for between £45-145. Depending on who you support, for the same price of one Superbowl ticket you could watch every match from a premier league club for 22 years. Even in the most expensive clubs that price will get you the best part of 2 years of games in the most expensive seats available.

Oz to turn pirates into vampires: You won't see their images in mirrors

Cuddles Silver badge

Re: You already know what happens next...

"American sites that didn't want to deal with the GDPR headache simply blocked everyone from the EU. If Google doesn't want the headache of dealing with $Location, they'll just block $Location from accessing Google search."

There's an important difference - money. American sites that didn't want to deal with GDPR simply blocked the EU because they only had a tiny proportion of visitors from the EU in the first place. The costs of complying massively outweighed the potential income from keeping their EU-based customers, so they didn't bother.

Yes, Google will do exactly the same - if and only if the costs of any compliance outweigh the benefits. See China, for example, where Google (along with many others) are happy to go to great lengths to do whatever is necessary to get a foothold there because the potential payoff is huge. Australia is a much smaller market, but at the same time Google already have pretty much all the necessary systems in place to do exactly what they'll need to. Note that Google did not abandon Europe when all that right to be forgotten nonsense popped up, and from their point of view there's really no difference here - they have to remove certain search results in a certain location when someone officially tells them to.

FYI: Drone maker DJI's 'Get it on Google Play' website button definitely does not get the app from Google Play...

Cuddles Silver badge

"To falsely say "Get it on Google Play" and then do nothing of the sort is deliberately misleading and should be highlighted."

Exactly. A lot of people seem to be rather missing the point. The problem is not that DJI are offering a download from their own servers instead of Google's. Plenty of people already do that, and while issues of security do get raised it's not really different from installing a program on your PC from somewhere other than the MS store. And note that there didn't used to be any such thing as the MS store so until very recently that was essentially the only option.

No, the problem is that DJI are apparently deliberately lying to people. They say they're sending people to Google, but are actually doing no such thing. Which is then made all the more suspicious by having the file they offer different from the one provided if you actually go to Google to find the same thing. I doubt many of us posting here have a big problem with being able to install programmes from wherever we like, but any sane person should have a problem with being lied to about what we're trying to install.

Silent running: Computer sounds are so '90s

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Re: Ringtones are cringworthy

"In this age of notification lights and custom vibration, I don't get why ringtones are STILL popular"

Because sound is actually quite a useful phenomenon for providing all kinds of useful information. Vibration only helps if you have a device in close contact with a sensitive body part; even with my phone in a pocket I often miss it vibrating if I'm doing anything other than sitting still. And that's just for noticing it vibrating at all, the idea that custom vibrations covering a wide range of different notifications could be easily and reliably distinguished anywhere outside laboratory conditions is simply ludicrous. Of course, notification lights are completely worthless if you're not actually looking at the thing, for example if it's still in said pocket. Or if it's in a protective case. Or if your phone doesn't actually have them (mine, for example). Notification sounds are still used because they remain by far the most effective method of actually letting you know that something has happened.

They can, of course, be annoying if they're too loud or going off all the time. Which is why it's now so easy to set up various different modes, switch between them easily, and even have things happen automatically at different times. I'll have my phone nice and quiet while I'm in a meeting, but noisy when I'm at home and might not even be in the same room as it. Sound might not be the best solution to all problems all the time, but the idea that it's been rendered utterly obsolete by a crappy vibrator with an LED taped to it is just plain silly.

Ex-Huawei man claims Chinese giant is suing his startup to 'surpass' US tech dominance

Cuddles Silver badge

Employee poaching?

"Huawei also claimed Huang unlawfully solicited Huawei employees to join CNEX."

Is this even a real thing? I understand that companies sometimes come to agreements with each other and/or their employees not to actively recruit each others' staff or not to work for competing companies for some time after leaving. But that's simply a contract arrangement and any court action would be simply about breach of contract; the actual law doesn't get involved at all. The idea that it could be illegal merely to offer a job to someone sounds absurd on the face of it.

In fact, the whole thing sounds pretty ridiculous. Huawei want to have all the patents Huang is ever involved in because apparently he signed a contract saying they could. Which sounds like a rather silly contract for him to have signed, but I guess it's possible and they could have a leg to stand on in that regard. But what the hell does that have to do with IP theft and racketeering? Again, it's simply a matter of a contract between two parties and whether one of them is in breach of it. It sounds like quite a complicated case, since they're not actually his patents and a contract he signed is not necessarily binding on the company that holds them, but at no point does there appear to be any suggestion of actual illegal activity.

Chinese biz baron wants to shove his artificial moon where the sun doesn't shine – literally

Cuddles Silver badge

Re: Suitably Qualified and Experienced Personnel...?

"Now, I'll grant you that a new constant moon isn't going to have all that much effect, especially not when compared to street lights in a city"

Given that the whole point is to replace street lights in a city, at a minimum it must have at least the same effect as street lights in a city. In practice, street lights are generally placed only in areas where there's actually a reason to have them, with plenty of back streets, parks, non-residential areas, and so on, left unlit. And even then light pollution is a huge problem that interferes with everything from insect lifecycles to sleep disorders, and that's before you even start thinking about the harder to quantify aesthetic effects. Having an entire city lit up everywhere at all times is just a terrible idea in pretty much every conceivable way, and has exactly zero possible benefit compared to the alternatives.

UK Home Office admits £200m Emergency Services Network savings 'delayed'

Cuddles Silver badge

Could be believable

"projected £200m savings might not kick in until 2020."

Did they specify which calendar they are using?

GCHQ asks tech firms to pretty please make IoT devices secure

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Security was already voluntary for everyone involved making IoT crap. What exactly does telling everyone it's still voluntary achieve?

Virgin Media? More like Virgin Meltdown: Brit broadband ISP falls over amid power drama

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Analogue Twitter

I can't be the only one amused by seeing people complaining on the internet about not having access to the internet.

Hunt for Red Bugtober: US military's weapon systems riddled with security holes – auditors

Cuddles Silver badge

Re: Learn to Stop Worrying and Love Network-enabled Operations

" it's not like any potential peer adversary of the US ever does DDOS... the geniuses who brought us the F35."

If someone carried out a DDOS attack on the F35, would anyone be able to notice the difference?

Astroboffins discover when white and brown dwarfs mix, the results are rather explosive

Cuddles Silver badge

Re: Cygnus, which is shaped like a swan

"Is it a dipper, is it a cart or is it a bear then...?"

Part of the problem there is that those aren't actually the same thing. The stars making up the saucepan/plough/dipper/cart are only a fraction of Ursa Major; less than half the stars and maybe 1/4-1/3 of the total area. The Big Dipper doesn't look anything like a bear because it's not supposed to and no-one ever claimed it did. Ursa Major, on the other hand, has a clear body, legs and head that looks at least as much like a bear as anything I can draw - not all that much, but you can at least see the general form if someone tells you it's there.

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

Cuddles Silver badge

Re: China

"I don't see any of you rushing to move to China, which kind of suggests that deep down you know it's actually a whole lot worse."

You don't see us rushing to move to the US either. The thing about the world is that there's quite a lot of it, and China and the USA aren't the only countries in it. "Country A does bad things" does not mean the same as "I love Country B and would do anything in my power to go and live there as soon as possible", especially for someone who actually lives in Country C and has no reason to move to either of the other two. That said, I know several people who either have, or are planning to, move to Countries D, E and F, at least in part because Country C does itself have issues becoming more similar to A and B than many are comfortable with.

With sorry Soyuz stuffed, who's going to run NASA's space station taxi service now?

Cuddles Silver badge

Blaming the wrong part

"the engineering requirements and the thorough testing needed means the timing of those experiments have slipped badly."

The engineering requirements and thorough testing were known about well in advance. They have nothing to do with why the timing has slipped, that's purely down to the people who knew about them not actually taking them into account when creating the original timetable. Whether that's due to incompetence or deliberate lies may be an open question, but at this point there's really no excuse for not understanding the challenges involved in getting to low-Earth orbit given that we've been regularly managing it for over 60 years.

Take my advice: The only safe ID is a fake ID

Cuddles Silver badge

Re: Silly first name.

"Hence my Starbucks name is now Alex, which every barista can spell flawlessly."

You mean they never spell it Alix, preferably with a heart over the "i" in place of a dot? They must really like you. withdraws life support from flagship digital identity system

Cuddles Silver badge

Re: Next

"Maybe private prisons"

You didn't realise we already have those? The UK has the second highest proportion of people in private prisons in the world (12% of prisons holding 15% of inmates). First is Australia, not the US as might be expected. Obviously the trend was started by the Conservatives back in the '90s, but the current government is actually the first since then in which the number hasn't increased.

Cuddles Silver badge

Re: It sucked lemons!

"They have scanners that read the address on every envelope and package be it printed or hand written."

The problem with that is it doesn't actually mean anything. The thing about envelopes with your name on them is that they've been sent by someone else. Someone else who may or may not actually be sending things to the correct person at the correct address. For example, despite having lived in my house for years I still get post for both the previous owners and the ones before them. And the majority of the rest is for Mr The Occupier and Mrs Homeowner, because in these days of paperless bills pretty much everything I get is just junk mail (about 40% from Virgin, the massive cockwombles).

A central government identity system that relies on asking everyone except the person involved to guess who might be in a house doesn't really sound like a great idea.

Samsung Galaxy A9: Mid-range bruiser that takes the fight to Huawei

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£550 is mid-ranged now? Bollocks. My phone cost £200 over a year ago, and remains more than capable of doing absolutely anything a phone might be required to do. Just because the most expensive phones are now priced solely to appeal to complete idiots without even attempting to look sensible, that doesn't mean the slightly less expensive high-end phones have magically become mid-range. You can get a supercar for £1 million or more, but that doesn't mean a £200k Bentley is mid-range.

Mid-range phones remain in the £2-300 region, with a bit of wiggle room at the ends depending on exactly how you want to define it. £500+ is very firmly in the expensive, high-end range. It doesn't matter if the most expensive phones cost £1000 or £1 million, that has absolutely no bearing on what the meaningful low, mid and high-end ranges are for normal people.

World's largest CCTV maker leaves at least 9 million cameras open to public viewing

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It's not CCTV

It seems someone has to point this out every time, but surveillance cameras connected to the internet are not closed circuit. This is not just a minor nitpick, it's of fundamental importance for security. CCTV is inherently secure because the whole point is that there's no external connection; short of physically splicing extra parts into the system, there is no way of hacking into it. The big problem with connected surveillance cameras is that people keep treating them as CCTV, and that brings huge issues with security since you can't treat a connected system the same way as an unconnected one and expect everything to just work out fine.

If even illustrious rags such as El Reg keep mixing up the terminology, the situation is never going to change. It's not enough to just draw attention to the occasional big screw-up, the only way to improve things is to get people to understand the systems they're dealing with. Using the correct names to distinguish fundamentally different categories such as connected and isolated is only a small first step, but without that first step none of the following ones are going to achieve anything.

It's over 9,000! Boffin-baffling microquasar has power that makes the LHC look like a kid's toy

Cuddles Silver badge

Re: 25 TeV vs 14 TeV

"That's not much of a difference, I'd say the LHC holds its own quite well"

Just to clarify, since I don't think the article really made it clear, the comparison is not 25 to 14 TeV. 14TeV is the collision energy of the particle beams in the LHC (the actual particles only have 7 TeV, the total comes from colliding them head-first). The 25 TeV in the article is the energy of gamma rays (ie. photons) produced by particles which themselves have much higher energy. The paper suggests an absolute minimum particle energy of 130 TeV to produce those photons; in reality it will of course be much more than that, and given a likely gaussian spread even if some are near the minimum the maximum energies are probably at least an order of magnitude or two higher.

For comparison, a synchrotron light source is an accelerator which works on the same principles as the LHC (which is also a synchrotron), but is dedicated to producing photons. A light source using 3 GeV (ie. 10^9) electrons will produce photons up to around 50 keV - five orders of magnitude lower than that of the particles themselves. Basically, if you see photons of a given energy, whatever produced them was almost certainly a hell of a lot more energetic. The minimums given in the paper make the LHC look like a toy, the possible maximums make it look like an insignificant speck.

Super Micro China super spy chip super scandal: US Homeland Security, UK spies back Amazon, Apple denials

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Poor journalism

"One particularly annoying thing is that the graphics used in the blockbuster article – depicting the spy chip and its placement on the board – look to be purely illustrative"

The whole thing seems pretty weird. There are good reasons for keeping sources anonymous and not just dumping all the information and data handed to journalists into the public view, but usually it's made clear that said journalists have been shown stuff to make them believe something really is going on. Even if they don't publish it all, there are always comments along the lines of "We have been shown internal documents that appear to confirm...".

Except in this case, any hint of evidence seems to be missing entirely. One source claims to have heard something at a meeting, a second source claims to have seen a confidential report, and a third source claims to have seen some photos. At no point is it ever suggested that any of these reports or photos have actually seen by anyone at Bloomberg. Or anyone else for that matter. The graphics are purely illustrative because even the journalists at the heart of the claims literally don't have anything real to show us. At this point we should be debating exactly what parts of the internal report really mean, why bits have had to be redacted, whether maybe the whole thing is a fake, and so on. Instead all we can do is question whether a report even exists for us to debate.

The whole point of journalism is to say that something happened. We might not have all the facts and there might be plenty of arguments about exactly what happened, why, and what it all really means, but something definitely happened. In this case, all we have is that something might have happened but no-one has any evidence to say it actually did. When the entire claim is based on "someone said they saw a picture once", Bloomberg may as well be announcing that Chinese chips have been seen in a double-decker bus on the Moon.

Brit mobe operator O2 asks cut-off customers: Have you tried turning it on and off again?

Cuddles Silver badge

"They're highly available platforms, but unlikely to cope with that sort of load."

And then people might not be able to connect to O2's network. Which would make a big difference.

Organic stuff, radiation, unexpected methane... Yes, we're talking about Saturn's surprising rings

Cuddles Silver badge

Re: Organic material?

"Doesn’t say how complex, though."

Because they don't know. The instrument taking these data is basically just a mass spectrometer - it can measure how heavy a molecule that hits it is, and that's it. They can see that there's a bunch of stuff with atomic mass 28u, which can mean N2, CO or C2H4. And from other data they can infer that at least some of that is C2H4 released from the breakup of bits of the dust and other crap generally floating around the place. But the data here can't say anything about what it was all actually made of before that point.

"All the speculation about how the first organic molecules were created on Earth and there are loads just floating about in space?"

Yep, this has been known for a while. Organic compounds, even fairly complex ones, turn out to exist all over the place. The fact that they're relatively common in Saturn's rings is apparently unexpected, but finding them floating around in space isn't really new at all. What this means for the development of early Earth and life is still very much up for debate. On the one hand, it seems organic compounds are all over the place and things like comet impacts could have brought significant amounts to Earth. But on the other hand, there's plenty of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen on Earth anyway so there's no problem forming them right here. It's entirely possible that organic stuff rained from the sky all over early Earth, but was irrelevant to the formation of life because we already had plenty of out own anyway.

Convenient switch hides an inconvenient truth

Cuddles Silver badge

"Um - 1900 was a Leap Year (it's divisible by 4 but not by 400)."

That's exactly backwards.

Google is still chasing the self-driving engineer that jumped ship to Uber

Cuddles Silver badge

"I wouldn't exactly call $245 million "off the hook"."

Indeed. And while people are often tempted to write off even such large sums as small change when big companies are involved, it's worth bearing in mind that Uber has consistently made massive losses for it's whole existence - it lost $4.5 billion last year. An extra couple of hundred million might not be enough to push them over the edge, but it's certainly enough to be a very noticeable hit.

A web where the user has complete control of their data? Sounds Solid, Tim Berners-Lee

Cuddles Silver badge

Re: Single point of security failure

"a primary target for all hackers after exploitable personal data"

Indeed, this seems to be a fairly large flaw with the whole idea. Instead of putting bits and pieces of your data all over the place as and when it's asked for, you pre-emptively put it all in one place and wait for someone to ask you for access to it access it without you knowing. It's just another cloud with all the issues that always brings.

Worse, even if it were perfectly secure it wouldn't actually achieve anything anyway. The problem with personal data isn't that it's too easy to gain access to it, it's that once it's been given out for any reason, it's trivial to copy it and hand it around. It doesn't matter how secure you make your central data store, as soon as you give anyone permission to look at any of it, all the data they've seen is in exactly the same situation as if you had no central store at all. In order for the idea to work, you have to trust everyone who is given access to any of your data, but the entire reason for proposing it is because most parties aren't trusted. It's a neat idea that completely fails to actually address its only objective.

Spoiler alert: Google's would-be iPhone killer Pixel 3 – so many leaks

Cuddles Silver badge

"If you're not paying, you're probably the product, not the customer"

You have the incorrect tense. Assuming the person you're replying to is not a criminal, they did in fact pay for their phone. It's not a question of who is making money; someone already made money. That is how buying things works.

'Incommunicado' Assange anoints new WikiLeaks editor in chief

Cuddles Silver badge

Re: installed a jamming device ????

"If you want to keep him off Pret's wifi, there's a far easier route. Get some CISCO (less extortionate brands are available) wifi access points and configure them to send disassociate packets for any SSID which isn't yours. Then don't let him on your own wifi."

There's a much easier method than that which has the benefit of having absolutely no questions about legality (the reason hotels used to use your method is because they're not actually allowed to any more) and no possible way to get around it - simply employ someone to slap the phone out of his hand every time he tries connecting to the internet. No need to faff around coming up with clever techy/physicsy ways to block signals that could potentially be circumvented in equally clever ways, when you can trivially address the issue directly at the source.

Top Euro court gives Infineon the benefit of the doubt, wags finger at Philips over pricing

Cuddles Silver badge

Good defence

"It also claimed that the price fixing wasn't "a single and continuous infringement,""

I'm sure there's all sorts of technical law stuff involved deciding how bad different offences are, but it just doesn't feel as though "We actually broke the law lots of times, not just once" is the sort of thing an offender should be arguing in an effort to reduce the penalty.

Resident evil: Inside a UEFI rootkit used to spy on govts, made by you-know-who (hi, Russia)

Cuddles Silver badge

"Such solutions are not always friendly for none technical people to achieve but it would completely stop any root kits from getting into your UEFI flash"

Indeed. This is the fundamental problem with backdoors and related ideas - there's really no such thing, they're all just regular doors. If you make it possible for a legitimate party to do things, you also make it possible for a malicious party to do them. There are no exceptions to that rule. Ever. No matter how difficult you try to make it or how well hidden it is, there will always be a way for someone to abuse it.

As always, it comes down to the question of how much you value convenience over security. There will almost always be some compromise needed with security reduced to make things useable in a reasonable manner. In a case like this, however, there really seems to be little need for convenience at all. Motherboard firmware updates are not particularly common things, and the sort of person who isn't happy switching jumpers probably shouldn't be trying to do it anyway. Given that the compromise means virtually undetectable and unfixable malware having access to pretty much everything, there just doesn't seem to be any good reason to make this all possible.

Nameless Right To Be Forgotten Google sueball man tries Court of Appeal – yet again

Cuddles Silver badge

But how would they know?

"ABC has refused to identify himself to Google, court staff and even judges"

"To protect ABC's identity, the court has already made an anonymity order so reports of his case cannot name him or indirectly identify him."

If he refuses to identify himself to the court, how would they know if anyone names him?


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