* Posts by Marvin the Martian

1513 publicly visible posts • joined 2 Mar 2007

Linux-loving lecturer 'lost' email, was actually confused by Outlook

Marvin the Martian

Re: been there - seen that - never been shouted at to that extent (yet)

It's the usual "You can make it foolproof, but you can't make it damnfoolproof" and "Just when you've made it totally idiotproof, the universe throws up a better idiot".

What code is running on Apple's Secure Enclave security chip? Now we have a decryption key...

Marvin the Martian

"PS: And cops, in the US at least, can't demand your PIN"

Yes, but border control agents can; if you refuse to give it they don't let you in AND add you to the records so next time worse.

Avoiding Liverpool was the aim: All aboard the world's ONLY moving aqueduct

Marvin the Martian

Re: Excellent article

I see your Falkirk Wheel and I raise you a Ronquières Inclined Plane [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ronqui%C3%A8res_inclined_plane ].

That's essentially a bit of aquaduct that doesn't swing, but it crawls up and down a hill. About once a week, as its business case was never justifiable, just built for political reasons.

Pizza delivery by drone 'trialled' in New Zealand

Marvin the Martian

I accidentally mixed up this "pizza delivery by drones" article with the "eagles against drones" one, which inevitably leads to this calculation for "pizza delivery by eagles", http://what-if.xkcd.com/149/ .

Somewhat unrelatedly, our local curryhouse has been unsuccessfully trialling "delivery by crone" instead, meaning cold food and random substitutions plus bewildering conversations.

Angler hooks German's todger at nudist lake

Marvin the Martian

Re: "cycled home before he drove to the hospital"...?

Leave it to two Germans to start a general discussion of the finer legal details of open air recreation regulation, while both are holding their rods (one bleeding. the other attached by wire to the first).

Speaking of getting back on your bike, I was more impressed by the English cyclist in series 3 ep 2 of "an hour to save your life" on iplayer --- faceplant in a cattle grid on a solo winter ride over the Pennines, lose a handful of teeth (but not swallow any), cycle a few miles to nearest pub to ask for the air ambulance, be quite relaxed about it all throughout, then a few hours later have a massive stroke as oh, actually, in the initial crash an artery in your neck was slashed and a clot came loose...

Raising a stink in court: Innocent poo banditry warehousers win $2.2m

Marvin the Martian

Re: 2.2 meelion dollars

It's america -- I'm puzzled why they didn't fire both workers who are presumably employed 'at will'?

Clearly both were 'suspicious' enough for management, so firing them would be cheaper than a dna test? I don't get the economics. The narrative would be it's the fouler's fault, if he'd confessed his mate'd be employed still... (nevermind fouler may be a third party).

Preserve the concinnity of English, caterwauls American university

Marvin the Martian

Re: Sesquipedalian Bollocks.

No, the "gentrification" example doesn't show that using "obscure" words is the road to faceloss, it just gives an example of a bloviating politician. "Gentrification" is well-established, and very widely used in the neighbourhoods it threatens.

I think the silly 'protect the words' outcry is based very much on illogic: English has more words than any other language, ergo no thanks we've got enough, the borders are closed, first fully employ the ones we already have; plus now a push to become a one-person verbodiversity hotspot... Clearly (and tested), English speakers do not use more words on average (and the Sun doesn't use less diverse words than the Times) --- it is just spoken as first or second language by a vastly more diverse population than any other language; a Raj colonial infuses words he picks up locally, and a Jamaican injects some patois...

Then there's the simple fact that few words have a fixed, official 'meaning'; "stink" used to mean "smell", and now "smell" tends to be negative as well ("what's that smell?", not "smell the flowers!").

Randall Munroe: The root nerd talks to The Register

Marvin the Martian

Re: Good interview -- but don't ask about the home situation

Read the comic and he's told you as much as he wants to tell you.

Particularly 'lanes', http://xkcd.com/931/

Was Nokia's Elop history's worst CEO?

Marvin the Martian

Sleeve designer missed a trick.

Why is there no subtitle printed on a semi-transparent background slightly at an angle and slightly overlapping the title?

So that there's ambiguity in FLOP/ELOP in the title?

What's MISSING on Amazon Fire Phone... and why it WON'T set the world alight

Marvin the Martian

Re: A free speaker worth £199

And what about the journalists' bribe?

Is there a tech journalist that DIDN'T have Amazon Prime membership yet (except for possible refuseniks that will get very annoyed at the bribe)?

Post-pub nosh neckfiller: Bryndzové halušky

Marvin the Martian

Re: gnocchi??

You are frying your gnocchi!? You're not even trying to do it right.

Call of Duty, GTA V do not make youth more violent

Marvin the Martian

Re: spoonerism?

As for 'unsurprising study' --- the decline in youth violence seems to be mostly down to falling environmental lead levels (basically since 'unleaded fuel' became obligatory), as it seems exposure in your infancy just screws your neural nets and primes your for unrestrained behaviour later.

The peak and fall of youth violence (globally, wherever crime statistics are available) lags a decade a half after the peak and fall of environmental lead levels. (The causal link evidence is not much stronger than that, but it's everywhere precisely repeated, pretty much independent of economy, climate and society.)

So it seems to me that the violence of videogames causes either some more, a little less, or the same amount of violence --- but is a far weaker trend than the global violence trend. However, you can study separate individuals as you know those who play or not, since when, and you can make them switch habits (for pay, for a while); in the 'lead' situation, all are in the same cohort and there's no control group. [Yeah, some far-off tribe without petrol perhaps --- but they also have a completely different society so no use for comparison.]

Be your own Big Brother: Keeping an eye on Mum and Dad

Marvin the Martian

Re: Smartphones run for days, no need for "ancient Nokia" for better standby time

Err... No.

My 1-y-old samsung galaxy fire with Bluetooth and GPS turned off and not opened for 14h (remove from charger in morning, look at it when reconnecting to it) has lost over 25% of charge.

My Nokia 100 can be on for 8days without recharging. And that's when travelling that I use it, so I actually have to check it more regularly (and change the local time) -- as a clock, and because my provider keeps sending me texts about tariffs etc.

Try again.

5 Nigerian gangs dominate Craigslist buyer scams

Marvin the Martian

Re: "overly trusting british nature"

Because famously Britain is the only country where people fall for scams.

That stirring LOHAN motto: Anyone know a native Latin speaker?

Marvin the Martian

Re: Google translate!

Native? Their mother tongues were German and Spanish IIRC.

India’s Karbonn launches £26 Android phone

Marvin the Martian

Re: Misreading of the title made me think of Marvin The Martian...

You're talking about that imposter, Marvin The Paranoid Android?

Urine a goldmine for fuel-cell materials: boffins

Marvin the Martian

Re: Best sub-heading ever!

Though it's an old idea: It costs me about £2000 per year to heat the house to reasonable temperature, about 7months a year -- but alternatively I can stay warm those days for about £1500 in cheap vodka.

It's not complete fossil fuel independence, as I need a truck from Poland to my house once a year, but it goes a long way.

Egghead dragged over coals for mining Bitcoin on uni supercomputer

Marvin the Martian

Re: overheads

True that. Though British unis ask the same from ESF / Marie Curie / ERC / ... grants --- but without the sports teams.

Monster croc 'the BALROG' tussles with mighty Titanoboa snake

Marvin the Martian

"current" at 4000lbs?

2000lbs would be nearer the mark, or have you found some obese merrikan saltie? Longest croc in captivity (read: 'not made up in tall tale') was 20ft 3in "Lolong", at 2300 lbs. And being well-fed & under-exercised (='captivity'), I struggle to believe 2 extra feet will double the weight.

E.g. a 7.5m Anaconda's preserved skin has been stretched to 10+m --- so you need either verified live measurements or a full skeleton; skin isn't that trustworthy and stories even less. I'm a bit mystified by the Titanoboa's measurements, at 12m & 1200kg --- heaviest extant snakes (green anacondas) reaching only about 100kg for 8m (pythons longer but skinnier), so upscaling that shape by 50% (weight x 1.5 x 1.5 x 1.5 for 3D = about 340kg) doesn't get you nearly there... The main scaling issue is that muscle force scales as second order (=diameter of muscles) while weight as third order, so you have insects on hair-thin legs but elephants on massive pillars. These muscles then all need massive organs to supply them, and these oversized organs need extra muscles (and internal strength/skeleton to keep them from being crushed) to support.

Long story short, if you're near the limits of what is physiologically possible to survive, you need to eat smaller prey to not cross the line (destroy yourself by sudden movements, e.g. when defending yourself) --- and you'd still be a sitting duck with your stomach full (which pythons often are).

Wacky 'baccy making a hash of FBI infosec recruitment efforts

Marvin the Martian

Re: Credentials

I'm sure they're called Alice and Bob.

How to catch a fraudster – using 'top cop' Benford and the power of maths

Marvin the Martian

Re: Benford...

Zipf' Law is a generalization of Benford's (and older if I recall --- think Zipf based his work on Pareto / the Pareto Principle).

Anyway, the whole "River" explanation seemed a bit overly long to me; a comparison closer to home so to speak is with the snaking "rivers" we live at: streets.

So, why are more people living at house numbers beginning with 6 than with 7? Because every street with a no. 7 has a no.6, with a number 70 has a number 60--69, with a number 700 has a number 600--699; but conversely there are some streets that have 60-something numbers (maybe not all!) but stop before reaching 79; and those that do reach 79 may end between 601 and 799. [In the UK the set of 1000+ numbered houses is negligible.] There is more streets that reach the 100s than the 200s, so

A street with houses 1--199 has more than 50% people living in a number starting on 1, about 5% starting on 2, 3, .. 9. A street with houses 1--299 has over 33% in 1.., over 33% in 2.., and the rest equally split over the remaining 7. And so forth... There's more streets ending in the 300s than in the 400s, more ending in the 200s than the 300s, etc.

As with rivers, the causes of street length (and house number density) are myriad unrelated factors, mostly geographical, political, etc... hence Zipf applies.

Quid-a-day Reg nosh posse chap faces starvation diet

Marvin the Martian

Re: A-maize-ing Food

Maize isn't a complete protein I think, so you'd be best off with a mixture wheat-or-rice-plus-maize. Else: Pellagra.

Marvin the Martian

Re: "use a fan to keep the air circulating"

(1) I can see how you're saving money by having a fan + AC/DC convertor running... Hm.

(2) no need anyway, in most draughty UK houses

Teen girl arrested with 70-year-old man's four inch weapon inside her

Marvin the Martian

Re: Maybe ..

She should have claimed it's an advanced self-defence-against-rape "booby"trap. Stand your ground and all that.

Most Americans doubt Big Bang, not too sure about evolution, climate change – survey

Marvin the Martian

Re: Fake Corporation science

I guess everybody's favourite should be http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Midgley,_Jr. --- he who helped invent a lead-based anti-'knocking' compound that was marketed as 'Ethyl', carefully not mentioning 'lead' anywhere.

There were grave concerns about its safety in general and hazardous work conditions in particular (what with employees falling dead with lead poisoning, left right and center); he showed how safe it all was by painting his hands in the stuff and inhaling its vapours etc for the assembled press (reminds me of ministers eating beef after Mad Cow scares). Then he silently went to Europe to recover from acute lead intoxication.

There was last week a BBC article on the significant correlation between atmospheric lead concentration and crime levels --- it seems neurological damage around birth can lead to criminal lifestyles around your 20s (presumably, mental impairment causing unemployable school dropouts).

Having contributed massively to atmospheric pollution, he decided to up the ante and invented CFCs, like Freon for fridges, and succeeded in creating the hole in the ozone layer. A man for all seasons, truly.

Marvin the Martian

Re: Questions do not tie up with the headline assumption

I had absolutely the same reaction: Several questions I would never truthfully answer "extremely confident". I might answer it after gauging the intent of the survey, mitigating the "OMG! USAians are EEJITS!" headlines.

How confident are you that the universe 13.8 billion years old? Not confident enough to come up with the number --- something between 12 and 15 I thought. If numbers are revised to 11.7billion or 17.1billion, my world view is not going to be shaken in any way whatsoever.

Similarly, how confident are you that childhood vaccines are safe? Not extremely confident: There can be a contamination discovered a few months from now, for the injection I'm now approving for my toddler. And for every few thousand lives saved, some vaccines kill or maim a few extremely unfortunate kids through complications/allergies/... (presumably slightly more than get killed in the car driving towards their vaccinations). So do I think on balance that they're a good idea to use? Yes, I'm extremely confident.

[There cannot have been a preamble about scientific viewpoints, as the 'creator' question is not a very scientific viewpoint though held by 50ish% of American physicists, AFAIK.]

Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment

Marvin the Martian

"Like Ferrari hiring Jeremy Clarkson"

That's only partly a good comparison --- an Everyman like me isn't close to having a Ferrari, but I did use Dropbox --- but for all that:

As a Ferrari owner or dealer you BET you'd be incredibly cheesed off if the company would put up such a chavvy figurehead, devalueing your possession/business interest; drop it like a fibreglass stone and get a Maserati (geographically the closest equivalent, since they moved HQ from Bologna to Modena).

Marvin the Martian

@ Q:"What does she bring to the table?" A:"Playing the piano. Badly."

This implies you use the grand piano as a table. You, sir, are a barbarian.

What's going on? First Eich at Mozilla (at least he made himself scarce before I looked up what the equivalent Chrome plugins are to AdBlockPlus and NoScript, saving me some work migrating). Now a 'Security Czar' at the least privacy/security minded company in the world (they give their employees no-questions-asked plaintext access to your files (e.g. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/05/16/dropbox_ftc_not_good_enough/ ).

What's next, Al Gore as product chief for Apple's Keynote (after getting the Nobel Powerpoint Prize, geddit)? Tony Blair peddling mediation and conflict avoidance? Tell me, who's next?

Apple to flush '£37bn' down the bog if it doesn't flog cheapo slabtops

Marvin the Martian

Re: apple .... cheap

With my first budget to get a laptop in 2000, the clamshell iBook was by far the best choice (what punishment that thing has suffered!), so I left the pc world (temporarily).

MacMini has always been cheap... A few clones appeared at the same price or higher, that was it; self-built comes to a very similar price for a worse-looking, worse-finished, warranty-less thing.

The original iPods weren't cheap, but comparable competitors (Creative Zen, etc) did cost the same or more.

Torvalds rails at Linux developer: 'I'm f*cking tired of your code'

Marvin the Martian

Re: he must have loads of meetings on tuesdays

Every day is Tuesday for Torvalds? I don't get it.

Also for the sub-title, I think a Fuming Finnish Doghouse is actually called a Sauna.

Amazon wants me to WEAR NAPPIES?! But I'm a 40-something MAN

Marvin the Martian

I think the nappies is explainable

I think Amazon has realized from your spending pattern, that you've reached that midlife crisis point in life where you consider getting a motorbike or a flashy car, decide against it but instead get a mistress, are a bit careless, and have a second litter.

Alcatel unveils 'cheaper-than-Chromebook' Lapdock-alike phablet-powered laptop

Marvin the Martian

Hero we go again

I thought the name "Hero" was already licenced by HTC was a model, about 6y ago?

HTML is a sexually transmitted disease, say many Americans

Marvin the Martian

Re: Any incentive to get the right answers?

Guilty as charged. Especially if it's not multiple choice. And even with an incentive, YMMV a lot with mood.

Twitter: It's JUST LIKE Elder Scrolls (no it's not)

Marvin the Martian

"the level of detail you’d get with the History Channel" !?!

The Channel-Formerly-Known-As-The-History-Channel (now it's branded "History" tout court, since at least 5years) is known for its shoddy documentaries, and presentation of away-with-the-fairies stuff as fact.

Case in point: My wife thought she bought the "Rome" series (as seen on BBC). Not so, it was similarly titles and from History. After a good fistful of strong drinks it becomes funny to watch. Apparently, the famous legions AND their opponents, throughout Roman history, consisted of the same two dozen of Baltic reenactors; Rome's enemies wore over time three different hats, shields and swords (so, using all combinations, 27 different enemy armies can be made). Similar for the locals, the same five people with varying hats and dresses. Every battle was lead by the XX Legion, even as the voiceover says e.g. only the VI and VIII were involved (I'm making up numbers here -- I only remember the XX as that was what I saw). They only fought in three different locations: A clearing in a forest, a forest path along a stream, and a village. And so on.

Coming in 2014: Scary super-soldier exoskeleton suits from the US military

Marvin the Martian

Re: Bounding over the highest buildings

So, mr kroes, if I follow the calculation correctly, what we need is a popcorn armour? Skinny when jumping up towards the building, then *pop* near the apex and a gentle floating down?

On the battlefield, the big polystyrene bubble will attract small-arms fire but should also absorb most of their damage... Landing in an obviously-visible spot and then sneaking out of the crust may be a dangerous moment.

Factories are too DULL for Google's robo-dreams: Behold the GATAMAMs

Marvin the Martian

Re: Google, take this deal please

Or aiming lower, you could get robots to swap out faulty drives in a data center rack.

They should give off less heat than a human (is it 800w?) or could even work in uncomfortably breezy/cold rooms, say 15C with a draft, without continuously having snotty and feverish colds.

El Reg's contraptions confessional no.3: the Apple G4 Cube

Marvin the Martian

Re: Foldable British 3 pin mains plugs...

My £10 Nokia came with a foldable-like-this UK charger (all black -- the red is a good warning of the fragility of this one)... Of course it does not need earth so the plastic pin is no problem.

Why would such a connector not work with a laptop charger? They don't need earth (I had a Toshiba with earth, but that's 10-15y ago).

The UK connectors always try to fall with their teeth up, trying to spear unshod feet; the round EU ones fall on their sides... It's typical maximum-mysery UK design. Have you noticed UK bathrooms are always the coldest room in the house, presumably because it's the only one where you're naked?

Marvin the Martian

Re: PSU external

I always wonder what those are doing inside the machine: It's better to have the minimum of dust inside there, so why not keep that rather insensitive block outside? You could probably clean it with a hose! Saves a lot of bother in the quietness tradoffs (e.g. mesh on sides -- let in more dust, have quieter fans but the fans are more audible, etc).

We MUST be told: How many Bitcoins do I need to kill a melon-head?

Marvin the Martian

Re: It adds another layer of gambling.

The volatility is such that if you transact money in bitcoins, it may arrive as 10% less or more (on average, more -- for now) even if the recipient re-dollarizes (or whatever's the verb) the sum within hours.

Marvin the Martian

Re: You stupid, lanky, melon-headed cunt

Fine, but I wouldn't tweet the death threat he added at the bottom box... People have been jailed or at least extensively tried for far less specific threats.

OMG, Andrex killed the puppey! Not quilty, exclaim bog roll boys

Marvin the Martian

Re: Goose or swan

Stick to goose; swan is illegal in the UK, them belonging to the queen and all that.

IBM turns plastic bottles into life-saving 'ninja' MRSA, fungus fighters

Marvin the Martian

Re: Biodegradable? More: what's the rest's charge?

Are fungi and bacteria the only negatively charged cells and molecules going around? Is the rest neutral or positively charged? Are there other baddies that are not

The whole thing balances on relative timescales and abundances: If you're dying from MRSA then this stuff destroying e.g. all vitamins it comes across is a fair tradeoff --- provided it biodegrades away in hours, and effectively kills MRSA in the hours before. If it scoops up only the odd MRSA here and there while wreaking wholescale destruction on the balance of other things, and then persist for months before biodegradation, then that's not so superior. "Biodegradation" implies your body is actively attacking it, so it's not 'neutral'.

'Don't hate on me for my job!' Googlers caught up in SF rent protest ruckus

Marvin the Martian

Re: "...causing additional congestion"

Please explain exactly how congestion will decrease if you replace this bus full of working employees with the same lot sitting hurriedly/frustratedly/tiredly alone each in their car in this 50mile stretch of traffic jams, furtively checking their messages every few minutes.

Marvin the Martian


Funny, you actually believe that "Germany" story?

So if there's any road accident in front of you, and you go out of your way to run over any survivors, no charges will be applied? Truly, a most believable yarn.

Mexican Cobalt-60 robbers are DEAD MEN, say authorities

Marvin the Martian

Re: slow death...

Alternatively you can read it as "we cannot be arsed to look into it; it will solve itself; we live in a war zone anyhows:

What is thy bidding? Han Solo’s shooter goes under the hammer

Marvin the Martian

Re: "First doesn't enter into it"

So on those grounds, America isn't the first nation to land on the moon until the Indians or Chinese get around to it? Let's not mention Eric the Viking's wait for glory until 1492.

Peculiar, this is.

Inside IBM's vomit-inducing, noise-free future chip lab

Marvin the Martian

Re: What are you doing tonight Emanuel Loertscher?

... stroking his persian cat ...

No, what worried me most about his probable evil plotting is that it was called a "nantechnology center" in the text. That made my mind boggle, and required a stiff drink to unboggle.

Which meant that I started to worry his concrete air spring would spring a leak, so to say; just outside of the warranty period, leaving them sitting on solid bedrock. Not sure how they'd send it in during warranty cover either.

All in all, more questions than answers.

Think Amazon is CHEAP? Just take a look at these cloudy graphs...

Marvin the Martian

Re: those graphs are pointless if you don't label your axes properly!

That doesn't matter for comparison or analysis --- 20% more expensive stays 20% more expensive.

For acquisition, looking at any specific online offer (vendor/RAM/cost) as you would anyway if interested, that would let you pinpoint the scaling since the graph wouldn't overlap (from 60x scaling between minute and hour, down to 7x between day and week) with such a ballpark figure.

Calling Doctor Caroline Langensiepen of Nottingham Trent uni

Marvin the Martian

Two years is a long time in computing.

It's not like there's no rash of historical articles --- there's old computer hard & software almost weekly, there's the recent 2-part article on running a porn site through the ages, etc etc.

But we should be told if he was writing the Estonian article in 2011 El Reg style, or anachronistically in 2013 style. That should be the difference between a 1 or 2:1.

Marvin the Martian

Re: £500 is optimistic

There's a bureau across the pond, there's spatial shenanigans in Spain, and there's Vulture South. Only on postage you're going to spend that much, let alone medium-class drinks.