The short answer to this is simple: backups.
Your machine's hardware has failed? Easy, restore it from your backups. You don't have any backups? Oh dear.
566 publicly visible posts • joined 16 May 2008
We need, in other words, a lot of small but long-lived nuclear generators that might as well use district heating as the cold side of the heat engine. If we can operate the hot side at a sufficiently high temperature then we can use the waste steam from the turbines as steam input into district heating systems to supply heat to domestic consumers. We could also use grid-scale heat pumps to concentrate industrial waste heat such that it can be redistributed into district heating systems.
This sort of approach is only going to work in towns. Countryside locations are likely going to be burning biomass to keep warm for a long time to come. Contrary to popular belief, cycling carbon around the carbon cycle is an essentially harmless activity; it is inputs of fossil carbon into the carbon cycle that are causing the problems.
The problem with road pricing is that the "obvious solution" namely a location sensor in the car is a very bad idea indeed on several fronts. Firstly, GPS signals are easy to interfere with, secondly such a system could turn into an automatic speeding fine machine, and thirdly the GPS or similar signal is really easily interfered with to inflict malicious prosecutions on innocent motorists.
That then leaves motorway pricing, which cannot be too heinous or people will simply crowd onto minor roads to dodge the tax.
I wonder how the costs add up if you make the PHEV's hydrocarbon engine capable of running on methane gas as well as petrol? That way all you need is a feed pipe from your household gas supply and then you use the gas supply to recharge the electric battery by way of the hydrocarbon engine.
It is quite possible to mandate breakable encryption. All that happens is that people layer in non-breakable encryption and "encrypt" the already-crypted message with the broken Government rubbish. This doesn't even need to be electronic in nature; a random one-time pad hand-written using a top copy and a literal carbon paper copy underneath would allow two individuals to communicate entirely securely even with known-broken Government encryption.
Moreover, if you know the Government encryption is broken, you simply do not use it. Instead you post your crypt-text onto public forums like Usenet News; everyone can see it but only the recipient can decrypt it.
To be honest I think that this Bill should be preserved as it is forever more, not because it might be useful but more as a warning from the past as to just how bloody stupid politicians can actually be.
The American NSA have built a similar monument to stupidity, namely an enormous disk farm wherein encrypted communications that they want to decrypt and which might possibly be decrypted in the dim and distant future are stored against that forlorn and frankly laughable day.
To be honest, not many people actually want to be politicians, or want to be elected.
Fewer still of the ones who want to be elected can be relied upon not to do something stupid, or say something that can be construed to be some sort of *-ist.
Having whittled the field down to the last 10% or so, few of the remainder have any actual management talent. Actual managerial talent is rare, for it to be accompanied by brains is rarer still. The few people who meet these criteria can generally find themselves much more gainful employment in commerce rather than in politics, and thus most decent managerial brains are unavailable for politics.
BMW found that one out the hard way.
To save on production line costs, they started out with a similar philosophy to that of Lexus: fit all luxury items like heated seats etc where the actual luxury isn't very expensive but which it would be difficult to retrofit. Lexus vehicles thus all have heated seats since it is a lot easier for the manufacturer just to say to a supplier "Give me X many front seats to usual spec" than to have several different specs.
BMW however thought they could play things a little differently: make drivers pay monthly rents to "unlock" features in cars.
To say the customers were displeased was an understatement; retro-fit activation kits became rife and the bad publicity hit the maker very hard indeed.
Proclaiming something to be "Settled science" also sounds suspiciously like someone trying to shut down debate on a contentious issue.
It should be noted that Darwinian evolution is not regarded as "settled science" by biologists. Instead, the debate is still open and very interesting things like inheritance of gene promoter levels and other rapidly-changing evolutionary things have been noted. Not Lamarckianism per se, but getting quite close to information transmission from generation to generation. Oh, and then you have the interesting embryo nested in embryo thing that asexually-reproducing aphids do, so the adult mother influences whether her grand-daughters have wings or not.
By keeping a subject open and not settled, research is furthered and science benefits; shut the debate down and eventually everyone starts seeing cover=ups even when there aren't any.
The point of the exercise is to create surface area which interacts with the extremely tenuous atmosphere still present at those heights. So, why not use a large amount of fine, metal-coated filament which will become statically charged as it deploys, together with small leaf-like bits of membrane which similarly become statically charged and end up sticking out in all directions. What you end up with is a huge, leafy cloud of fluff, which whilst it hasn't got the elegance and surface area of a sail is still a huge increase in surface area.
Attached to any satellite this will (at least at orbital heights) increase drag and help de-orbit the satellite; it should also be light enough that the thing breaking up should be a problem.
Perhaps the entire bill is an intentional poison pill for the presumed Labour government that will be elected at the next election?
Consider what we know: the Bill as written is unworkable and cannot be made workable under the current laws of mathematics. So, if this current bunch wins the next election then the un-elected Sir Humphreys who championed it will be thrown under the bus as sacrifices and the Bill quietly abandoned.
If on the other hand the other bunch win the next election, then they will be unmercifully reminded of how this Bill will safeguard children and how it absolutely must be implemented, come what may. When it is implemented, millions of people lose E2EE apps and get very upset indeed, and trivial workarounds to obtain these apps become commonplace. The notion of obeying only the Eleventh Commandment (Don't get caught) becomes ever-more entrenched in the public consciousness and Britain becomes harder to rule as a result.
The entire point of encryption is to prevent the contents of the encrypted message being readable. This being the case, I would presume that the caveats applied to that encryption scanner are on the lines of "Only works on pretend encryption, not on real encryption" and so on.
It may also be a very unsophisticated scam.
Not so much defective as flawed by design.
Remember back when diesel was the flavour of the month and everyone was supposed to buy a diesel? Well, the taxi and minicab firms listened to this, and bought diesels. They then found that the diesel filters in the exhausts were prone to getting blocked if driven a lot in cities, in stop-start traffic. The taxi drivers then hit on a cunning solution: remove the DPFs entirely and rely on the fact that a well-serviced and thoroughly warmed-up diesel engine will pass the smoke test with flying colours even without a DPF.
These are the "defective" vehicles that are being targeted.
In truth, it is perfectly possible to make a DPF which can cope with being run like a taxi; it is more complex and more expensive and needs a supply of electrical power to heat it up to burn off the soot, but you can have a clean, green diesel taxi; you can even have one that's clean, green and doesn't chuck out nitrous oxides provided you set up the engine management system to use enough adblue solution to actually solve the problem, as opposed to just enough to pass the tests.
The only problem is that diesels that pass the emissions tests in real life cost a good deal more than ones which passed the old, rigged, EU standards.
As long as you design the file so that the medical person has view of the notes, the drugs being taken and the flagged conditions on the page then you should be doing reasonably well. If you add to this a database of known drug interactions and known allergies that each patient has, and you allow the main system to add in hints that an allergy to antibiotic A might mean that the patient will be also allergic to closely related antibiotic B, then you also have a useful system.
Similarly, if you have in the notes details of the patient's age, biological sex, weight etc. then you can also put in a checking system at the prescription level, which checks that the amounts of drugs being prescribed are inside the guidelines for those drugs and drug interactions and which also flags up potential for abuse of these drugs.
That is adding value to the system.
Before this, you have to duplicate the existing functionality and add in a little extra robustness such as off-site backups with encrypted transport.
It is also deeply depressing how slowly object lessons seem to be absorbed by management.
Consider, if you will, the open-plan office. Put everyone into one big room so that aerosol-transmitted viruses can spread really well, and so that normal chatter can annoy lots and lots of people, and so that there's lots of distractions from actually working. Every argument in favour of open-plan offices has a counter which usually outweighs it.
Combine this with long commutes because our cities are such miserable places that nobody wants to live in them and you have a recipe for endless misery.
Musk has a reputation as being a man who ran a reasonably good tech company into the ground in record time. He furthermore has form for being mercurial, impulsive and greatly disinclined towards rational cogitation.
Remind me again about what this good reputation of his is at risk again please?
Whilst you're at it, tell me where I can rent time on the microscope you are using to view the admirable bits of Mr Musk.
Having used both RedHat-derived Scientific Linux and Ubuntu, and built binary packages for both of these, I would say that the modern versions are more or less equivalent. Ubuntu's subiquity mess is far more annoying than kickstart, but is also moving faster than kickstart as a new product. RPM and DEB are pretty much equivalent in packaging terms, and both are now converging on more or less that same rough internal structure (lump of compressed data, config file to say what to do with it, scripts to do stuff pre-install and post-install and so on).
Voting in a public election is not trivial. It is the only direct way that you as a citizen have of affecting public policies.
It is also a very hard-won civil right. Time was when only the aristocracy got a say, then only them plus property owners, and then it got thrown open to include most male individuals. It took a hell of a long time to go from democracy being the province of a minority to it being thrown open to everyone apart from imprisoned criminals; even giving women the vote took entirely too long to happen.
So, if you can vote, do so and always support your right to cast a vote. It may mean voting for the least idiotic candidate, but at least you have some choice.
Do remember that the government currently in power are legislating for powers to force people to stop using secure point to point encryption and change to something that the Government can snoop on more easily. Because, you know, evil pornographers and criminals of all stripes always follow the law to the letter and don't simply ignore ignorant bollocks like this completely.
Do you know how genetic scientists teach other labs to do their methods?
The recipe is fairly simple:
Take one researcher who knows how to do the method, and all the EXACT same materials that they used; same suppliers, same glassware, same disposables, same everything.
Repeat the method using the above kit, and repeat until it works reliably (which it never does at first).
When working, lead a researcher at the new lab through the method, step by step. When they can do it, teach others.
When several people can do the method, one by one swap the materials from the remote lab for ones available locally. Modify method as needed.
This is KNOWN behaviour; it really is not surprising that a complex method cannot be reliably copied using just a paper. Indeed, research materials that are supposed to be equivalent from different suppliers can actually be very different; in my old field of research the agar gel used by European researchers and American ones was subtly different; this meant that setting up diffusion gradients of sex pheromones took mere hours in Europe and ten times as long in the USA.
Yes, I was working on sex pheromones. Yes, videotaping was involved. No, the videos have not survived the test of time.
There's already another problem with police TETRA; it uses specific frequencies and the handsets like to chatter away to their base station to maintain contact with it. This means that a TETRA handset is like a beacon that says "Police here" to anyone with a software-defined radio system capable of detecting the chatter. Such systems cannot of course decrypt the chatter, but they can crudely determine range based on signal strength.
This is therefore useful to actual and potential criminals as a way of spotting when the police are in the area.
A better system might be to use existing 4G and 5G data services and impose this service onto the operators as a cost of doing business in the UK, with the police and other emergency services' comms being given a much higher priority than normal communications.
That would solve the coverage problems that plague TETRA, solve the encryption woes if a suitable scheme can be employed, and since the chatter of handsets would not be trivially easy to distinguish from normal systems without intensive packet scrutiny then this attack would cease to function too. It might also solve the scarcity of handsets, since a custom Android ROM running on consumer handsets might well work quite well.
The UK government has already had experience of precisely how much notice Apple and Google take of their views during the time that COVID-19 contact tracker apps were being set up. The UK produced a horrible pile of rubbish which the two tech companies looked at, and flatly refused to have anything to do with. They then produced their own rather more elegant and much less intrusive options and presented these to the UK government as a fait accomplis, take it or leave it.
The UK government then accepted the inevitable and took this option.
The same will happen with encrypted comms apps; the government will be quietly ignored by all and sundry and will eventually bow to reality and confine themselves to making the tax code ever more complicated.
Quite frankly almost nobody is actually excited to be in an office, and happiness is similarly a transient thing. What you want is motivation and the ability to do a decent job without looking for something better elsewhere. A lot of the time, people can work much better from home than from an office and these figures are merely reflecting this; that and the fact that a lack of a commute saves the employee money, time and the stress of actually commuting.
All of this just comes down to how the phone is designed. If you design a phone in two halves, with the screen, processor, radios, sensors and connectors in one half and the battery in the other half of the case with spring-loaded connectors, then you make battery replacement a lot easier for aftermarket people, and you simplify your own assembly processes as well.
To replace the battery, or even to add a much larger battery, just unscrew the half-dozen screws holding the battery half of the case to the rest of the phone and detach it, and add back the new one and screw it back again. For even easier work, make the screws captive in the battery housing so the user cannot easily lose them. A nice thick O-ring to seal the whole thing and you have a nice, easy solution that the bulk of tinkerers and high street repairers cannot get wrong.
The other problem here is that carbon fibre isn't just carbon fibre. It consists of fibres of polymeric carbon (obviously) and less obviously a resin.
The idea is that the carbon fibre gives tensile strength, and the resin gives compressive strength. But as always the devil is in the details of this; how malleable and ductile is the resin? If it isn't very malleable then if loaded too far it will crack; this then loads the carbon fibres which as stress increases will start to give way, one by one.
This is probably what the hull integrity monitoring (likely fibre optic glass fibres which, when they break, stop transmitting light) is all about: spotting minor stress cracking before it becomes anything more.
The question then becomes what the tolerances are for this damage monitoring; is it being down to military standards whereby any damage is unacceptable, or are we talking pre-disaster NASA standards (which amounted to "It worked last time, it must still be safe) where a level of damage is tolerated?
We simply do not know.
Less than one atmosphere, actually.
What you absolutely need is the same partial pressure of oxygen that you get on earth, plus a smidgeon of carbon dioxide to keep you breathing, plus just a little nitrogen. That adds up to about 20 to 25% of one atmosphere in spacecraft and in space suits.
This is especially important in space suits because you want to be able to bend the arms at least without too much effort, and fighting one atmosphere of pressure is annoying. a fifth of an atmosphere is much easier to cope with.
This also means that a slight leak in a suit (over and above what you are always going to get from diffusion through suit materials) is going to be much less dangerous at the lower pressures.
So yes, space is much less dangerous than deep ocean travel, especially with the high bar to actually getting there meaning that you are always going to have a decent budget in space travel. With deep ocean travel, any bloody numpty can rock up and have a go, and some do. Some are even daft enough to put people inside their machines.
I have this sudden vision of a cabal of BOFHs conspiring to replace the Big Boss with an AI pastiche generator and an uprated version of "Max Headroom".
Actually, this may well have already happened several times. I mean, would anyone notice, much less care, that some bosses were no longer numbered amongst the living except on the payroll?
The thing you have to remember here is that Google may well be hiring a very different mindset, indeed a different neurotype of people to those whom the other companies are hiring. Specifically, Google may well be hiring technical geniuses who are emotionally somewhat immature, and/or with autistic tendencies or even actual autism.
That then means that the two companies are trying to ride herd on two very different groups of people. If the group you're trying to guide are autistic or similar, then explicit rules and explicit consequences of these explicit rules are what is needed. If on the other hand your workforce are more emotionally mature or are more neurotypical then whilst you're not working with geniuses you are working with people who can take a hint without that hint being explicitly given.
A robotic voice with a faintly Scottish accent reciting from the works of McGonnagall, pausing occasionally to tell you that your call is still important to the company and to tell you that you are X in the queue (where X is the actual position +- rand(7)) and continuing reciting the poem from more or less where it left off (skipping or repeating lines at random); now that would be suitable for a BOFH helpline.
A while ago several of the BSD UNIXes were engaged in processes meant to reduce the size of their kernel software, using the not-unreasonable reasoning that less code meant few bugs and easier admin.
A similar idea ought to be applied to the entire UK tax code and indeed to government as a whole. At present the government does too much, and has an unreasonably enormous tax code to try to cope. Reducing what the Government does and drastically reducing the tax code would go a very long way towards improving the welfare of everybody, since it would reduce the cost of doing business.
For example, taxation of alcoholic drinks. These are subject to no fewer than fifteen separate rates of duty, when one single rate based on X pennies per ml of ethanol sold would do equally well.
There is a hypothesis that there is a wild or feral population of large cats that are not domestic cats in the UK. The exponential increase and improvement in mobile phone camera technology over the last couple of decades should also have led to an increase in the numbers of photos of anomalous cats, and an improvement in the quality of these photos.
This has not happened.
Similarly, the rapid decrease in price and improvement in quality of cheap trail cameras should also have yielded some decent photos of big cats; trail cameras are after all what wildlife cameramen use to locate rare and elusive species for filming purposes. Once again, there have been no reasonable photos of big cats taken by trail cams.
Now there are at least four different makers of thermal night vision devices competing in a race to the bottom in price and quality; these devices are becoming ubiquitous in hunting circles for the purpose of locating target species. Once again there has been no footage of large non-domestic cats seen at all.
Conclusion: there aren't any big cats in Britain.
If they're going with the "Code is law" stance and their code permitted these actions, then the attacker may well be working on the same basis. If they claim that code is law and whatever the code permits is legal then the attacker might very well argue that whilst it might be seen as an abuse of their system, it was a completely legal action and thanks for the extremely easy profit.
Britain for a while tried to get back into the anti-personnel mine market with a less-damaging form of AP mine. The standard AP mine is a small package of plastic explosive and the means to detonate this when stepped on; the intent is to deny areas to ground troops. The problem with this design that whilst it is crippling but not lethal for a soldier, it is often majorly crippling and often lethal for a child to step on the mine.
The British variant started out as a simple pressure plate that fired a .22 bullet up through the unfortunate victim's foot, and evolved into a device to launch a stainless steel spike through the victim's foot. Provision was also made to make the components of the detonator degrade over time to harmlessness, giving the mine a service life of no more than a few months. The spike design was just as effective on soldiers, but was designed to be much less lethal for children setting it off accidentally.
The AP mine ban prevented this more humane design from going into production.
Being a moron of apocalyptic levels has never been an obstacle to a political career, indeed in the American system it almost seems to be a requirement.
Being incapable of learning from experience and demonstrating resolute immunity to clue of any sort at all is also a political trait that most politicians share; British ones are not exception to this rule.
It is finally worth remembering that a lot of politicians, besides being stubbornly thick and often too idiotic for any other career, have extensive legal training if not legal experience. This tends to make them assume that reality its very self can be manipulated by act of law. Thus to make encryption develop random holes merely requires them to tell someone to do it, and this thing shall be done.
There must be a better way to run a country than by using politicians!
A one-time pad whereby one character is randomly swapped for another and where the "pad", the plan of which character to swap for which, is used only the once is impossible to break without the pad. One-time pads have been around as an encryption method since 1882.
This means that the concept of communications which are impossible to eavesdrop on have been around for well over a century. A one-time pad conversation could even be conducted by publicly displaying the cipher text on billboards in a city, indeed this would actually make the conversation more difficult to detect since the metadata of who was talking to whom could not be discerned.
Any law which tries to outlaw secret communication is therefore doomed to fail. All that modern encryption methods and modern communications devices do is make it easier to communicate secretly.
One other trick that has been tried is to get rats to ingest a contraceptive solution. This has been tried in New York with the effect of reducing the population of rats to a steadily-ageing population of non-breeding rats. Rats, as they age, tend to turn into aggressive, xenophobic curmudgeons which actively resist incursions from younger rats trying to move into their territories. The net effect is that you end up with a small resident population of rats which actively keep out incomer rats.
In a city like New York, no matter how zealous you are with the traps and poison you never eliminate the rat population, so reducing it to a tolerable low level is just as good as poison.
Really it looks much more like an asteroid pusher is what is needed. Fortunately we have a couple of example designs for just such a device.
The first one is to modify the Project Orion vehicle by giving it a huge network of struts at the front and using these to push against the asteroid once the vehicle is resting against it. Project Orion operated by letting off lots of nuclear fusion bombs behind it, one at a time, and using the plasma blasts from these to push it forwards.
The second trick would be to use a high temperature nuclear reactor to vaporise a reaction mass (gallium metal being one example) and use this as a rocket; if you only have a short time then lots of gallium and a fast-burn reactor is needed; if you have more time to react then a more sophisticated gallium-using ion drive unit would be more efficient.
Either way, the simplistic trick of simply blowing the rubble pile apart into a cloud is only ever going to be a last resort, and this will only work if the blast is truly titanic and manages to separate the pile into a very large and diffuse cloud.
The plasma-induced laminar flow looked interesting for that sort of thing. One of the major problems with flying wing designs has been that they could get into an unstable yawing flight mode, which without rudders or other drag-based systems were very hard to damp down. Modern machines like the American B2 and B21 bombers cope with the problem using computer controlled flaps and clam-shells to selectively increase drag.
Cold plasma generators on the wings would do the same sort of thing, but likely more cheaply since they wouldn't need actual actuators to operate. All of this would be useful on a full size aircraft, but much more useful on a drone since for drones, the name of the game is building the best payload to total weight ratio that you can, to maximise the flight endurance of the drone whilst minimising its cost.
If you massively upgrade the fibre connections to suburban houses, then each dwelling can be used to house a super computing sub-unit. The waste heat from that sub-unit could then be fed into a large heat store, and this heat store used as the input to a domestic heat pump system.
Giving a heat pump a supply of heat tremendously improves the effectiveness of the unit and decreases its running costs. As another sweetener, each householder housing a compute unit could also be given free unlimited internet access on the grounds that most households use WiFi networking and are thus fairly well throttled by this choice.
I would think it patently obvious where all of this will end up, and that is with most UK internet users employing VPNs most of the time, with the VPN end-point in somewhere like Norway or Switzerland. Content snooping has largely gone already with the widespread adoption of SSL, but metadata of which sites a person visits is still useful to the security services. However, if the UK government insists on trying to censor anything and everything they can get their grubby little mitts on, VPNs will become commonplace and even the metadata information will be lost to the security services.
Where teenagers trying to look at porn is concerned, the problem is even worse since there are quite a number of "free" Chinese web VPNs which allow for free browsing, but which front for the Chinese security services and for numerous other black hat organisations. Such websites are a notorious source of malware alongside their own snooping.
All in all, "Think of the Children" used to backdoor censorship is not going to work or do anything other than persuade the common man that the government is really very silly and best worked around if at all possible.
As I see it, the biggest technical hurdle is not the actual cooling, but the liquid handling. I think that this could be simplified by running conventional heat pipes from the heat-producing chips to a dedicated heat exchanger block at the back of each machine.
That design would mean only two plumbing attachments per machine, and those could be much more tolerant of higher pressures of coolant, plus you lose the multiple coolant connectors inside the machine chassis.