* Posts by John Robson

3442 posts • joined 19 May 2008

Good news: Jeff Bezos went to space. Bad news: He's back

John Robson Silver badge

What he is is a man with a vision, who has made extraordinary wealth and is now spending vast amounts of that wealth on projects which further that vision.

Bezos wailing that he needs an enormous bung from congress is pitiful, I think we can all agree with that.

Electrification of transport, it's not a new idea - but Tesla has done more to make it mainstream than most others, by lighting a fire under existing manufacturers, showing what can be done.

Space travel - SpaceX nearly collapsed, but then they managed to get an F1 to orbit, and then developed the F9, and then started bloody landing the boosters and flying them again, and again, and again.

There is still a good chance that SLS/Orion will reach orbit before Starship, but if you count doing 85% of a lap as basically orbit then it will be a close run thing - if the first starship booster flight goes without a hitch then they'll get there first, if not then SLS has a chance in November - though SpaceX might turn up for a second launch by then...

Yes - much of their funding comes from NASA, but that's part of the commercial supply services which anyone can bid on and supply.

The boring company - Yeah, not sure I see the value in this vision particularly. But I don't expect everything he touches to be fairy dust.

John Robson Silver badge

Using maths developed by Newton, and your point is?

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Re: Worse than vanity

Absolutely it could - the point was very badly made...

We need to be decarbonising the grid as a whole, not just individual operations.

John Robson Silver badge

Re: Worse than vanity

I celebrate both, as well as spaceX.

But realistically claiming that BO don't dump carbon is ignoring that they are dumping water vapour high into the atmosphere, which is also a reasonably effective greenhouse gas...

And I am not aware that they are shouting about it being carbon neutral hydrogen

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Re: Worse than vanity

The likelihood of that hydrogen being completely zero carbon is relatively small.

And of course the power that was used could have supplied other things on the grid.

John Robson Silver badge

Re: Nyah-nyah-nyah!

Celebrate them all - I just struggle to see what blue origin have been doing - they have been around two years longer than SpaceX and are yet to send anything to orbit.

It's not as if Mr Bezos is short of money to fund their development programme.

Virgin Galactic have always been about the tourism, and Virgin Orbital have put payloads into orbit (yes, different companies, VO spun out of VG), despite being two year younger than spaceX.

John Robson Silver badge

Re: Ban it!

So you would also ban all long haul flights on the same basis...

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No - he is spending money to get to other planets, not just to get to space for a brief visit, but to have long term colonies on other planets.

It's virtually aiming for the stars (technically only one of the wandering stars, but the sentiment of the phrase applies), and in building that capability SpaceX have become a prolific and successful launch provider.

Russia's ISS Multipurpose Laboratory Module launches after years sitting on a shelf, immediately runs into issues

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Re: Strange

Simple and reliable - but horrible to handle

Happy 'Freedom Day': Stats suggest many in England don't want it or think it's a terrible idea

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Re: Spoke with worried NHS staff


I've never seen any correlation.

John Robson Silver badge

Re: Spoke with worried NHS staff

Not everyone has had the chance yet - so we’re not even down to those who should be tied down and jabbed.

(Assumption that there is no pork product or similarly religiously restricted substance - there isn’t as far as I am aware of.

Being anti-Vaxxer isn’t a religion.

John Robson Silver badge

Re: Odd...

Masks were never about protecting the wearer - that's why the concept of leaving such measures (for wearing a mask is not a restriction) to "personal responsibility" doesn't make any sense at all.

It's not a matter of personal responsibility, it's a matter of societal safety.

Thales launches payment card with onboard fingerprint scanner

John Robson Silver badge

Re: "There are concerns over using fingerprints as an authentication system"

Well - depends what they're doing.

If they're increasing the limit when you pay by poke rather than PIN, and again if you pay by PIN over wafting the card near a reader... then it is requiring a higher degree of security at each stage (nothing, 1/10k, 1/100k maybe)

That's not an entirely unreasonable approach.

The old New: Windows veteran explains that menu item

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Re: Always an important consideration

Surely that should be goml?

Impromptu game of Robot Wars sparks fire in warehouse at UK e-tailer Ocado

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Re: Bot Smash

On the basis that the previous incident required a significant response I don't think sending a fleet of fire engines is misplaced, even if it did end up being a minor smoulder in the end.

That's why we need to have spare capacity in all our public services, so that they can deal with the unexpected. That something unexpected will happen is entirely predictable, it's just hard to know what the something will be.

BOFH: But soft! What light through yonder filing cabinet breaks?

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Re: Just a passing thought

Just don't reward coders by bugs fixed and testers by bugs found... There will be many minor bugs released to testing and then rapidly fixed.

John Robson Silver badge

"Also as mining doesn't even pay the power costs"

Well it does if you aren't paying for the power, or the servers.

NASA fixes Hubble Space Telescope using backup power supply unit, payload computer

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Even without name resolution required it would still be DNS, it’s always DNS

John Robson Silver badge

Re: Great news....until.

Pointing Hubble down would be pointless - you’d just get a smear, it can’t track fast enough.

Cyberlaw experts: Take back control. No, we're not talking about Brexit. It's Automated Lane Keeping Systems

John Robson Silver badge

Re: The Pothole and Bicycle Finder

Do you find many twisty motorways in your neck of the woods. I tap the end of the stick and turn it off on a road which isnt suitable.

John Robson Silver badge

Re: The Pothole and Bicycle Finder

Really - the lane keeper in mine is easily overridden, feels like driving up a small gutter slope.

John Robson Silver badge

It's a traffic jam management system.

Plenty of traffic jams end up with additional collisions during the jam because people aren't paying attention.

Huh, it's as if something happened that made people not like CentOS so much

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Re: Too much choice?

apk also exists, but is pretty niche... so I am not surprised you didn't mention it.

I wasn't sure what other solutions exist, but rpm/deb/source does seem to cover the vast majority

John Robson Silver badge

Re: Too much choice?

There are too many standards, lets make one standard to rule them all...


There are only really a handful of package management options, and that, as much as anything else, defines a distribution.

UK govt draws a blank over vaccine certification app – no really, the report is half-empty

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Only half empty

That’s more content than they normally release.

NHS contracts for document storage, digitisation three years after paperless deadline

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Point of care

I'm torn...

Paper charts are an excellent locally accessible, resilient form of note storage at point of care in hospitals. We wouldn't want to suddenly have no notes due to a ransomware attack.

On the other hand digital notes there would probably have meant that I was given steroids when they were prescribed, and my hearing would very likely be significantly less damaged than after the ~ 1 week delay that happened. Telling a barely functioning patient what you are prescribing them is not a route to have that information relayed to the ward.

Google killed desktop Drive and replaced it with two apps. Now it’s killing those, and Drive for desktop is returning

John Robson Silver badge


Can you run two instances for different accounts, one of the benefits of split clients…

The human-devoid AI-powered Saildrone Surveyor ship just made it to Hawaii from SF

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Re: Now Can We Find MH370?

Because although sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic that doesn’t actually make all advanced technologies magic

You, robo-car maker, any serious accidents, I want to know about them, stat – US watchdog

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Re: Circumvention by obfuscation

What use case do you have for a car that isn’t satisfied by a Tesla?

John Robson Silver badge

Re: collisions with pedestrians or bicycles

Tractors are very large - typically over around seven ton (first suggested typical mass on google), and frequently towing something significantly heavy as well.

Their operators are usually in an elevated position, away from any collision.

Compare that with a pedestrian, or a cyclist (motor or otherwise), or an equestrian...

They aren't in any sort of usual definition of a vulnerable road user.

John Robson Silver badge

Re: automate reporting

You mean - like the black box that has been used to establish what happened?

John Robson Silver badge

Re: collisions with pedestrians or bicycles


That's an odd category to include as vulnerable...

Revealed: Perfect timings for creation of exemplary full English breakfast

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"Frozen hash browns go in the oven at the same time"

The same time as what?

The sausages or the bacon?

UK competition watchdog sniffing around Motorola profits after delay to replace company's Airwave service

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Re: Airwave Car Park

And the offices contained some of the best people I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with - technically astute, humble, and friendly.

Of course there were also a couple of people who would cause to me to walk away from basically any future job offer as well.

Florida Man sues Facebook, Twitter, YouTube for account ban

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Re: This could really backfire on him

The plaintiff shouldn't be able to do that - but the defendant should.

Once you've brought a lawsuit you have to carry it through to completion. The defence were dragged in, they can poke it whichever way they want, and ask for dismissal whenever they want.

Frankly if a case is dismissed like that then there should be a significant penalty for the plaintiff (at least the costs of the defendant)

John Robson Silver badge

Re: Legal Scholars?

US law is all that matters, but an article which is internationally available and talks about the reader's "mutual civic heritage as Americans" is rather badly focussed.

My point wasn't that the legislation was misrepresented, but that the article assumed that the reader was USian. I don't have any USian civic heritage to be ignorant about.

John Robson Silver badge

Re: Legal Scholars?

The above "let a legal expert explain" helps as well:


Which is fun, particularly since it wrongly assumes that I am USian.

John Robson Silver badge

Re: Legal Scholars?

Honest question. If the First Amendment says what it says, how can libel and slander laws be established, given they necessarily abridge freedoms explicitly mentioned in the text, and said text contains no exceptions to allow for restraining such in the name of rights clashes?

Libel and Slander legislation predates the constitution, and most current legislation appears to be at the state level, and states aren't congress... (Though the 14th comes into play then)

This is probably as good a starting point as any for a google rabbit hole.


John Robson Silver badge

Re: Legal Scholars?

"how did the Supreme Court justify the Schenck decision (the "Fire in a Crowded Theater" decision)?"

Have you read the case notes too see what they said? Such reports are usually pretty thorough, and are matters of public record.

John Robson Silver badge

Re: Legal Scholars?

Not just part of the federal government but part of congress - the *only* branch of government which is constrained by the 1st amendment.

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

OpenUK's latest report paints a rosy picture of open source adoption

John Robson Silver badge

Re: Wilted roses

Open source software is still a "rich kids" club, where people from impoverished backgrounds cannot participate in, as they simply cannot afford to work for free. This creates a social divide in the IT world, which we can still see today.

But it also creates a world where those same kids *can* engage with technology for free.

John Robson Silver badge

Re: A company's commitment to participating ... would be much more prevalent

Also - many companies aren't in a position to contribute.

What does a hairdresser using an open source calendaring system contribute?

What does a small retail company who uses open source office systems contribute?

The fact that tech companies do is good - they are in a position to do so, but most companies don't have the capacity to do more than report any bugs they find nicely, and I'm sure that happens informally.

NASA readies commands to switch on Hubble's back-up hardware

John Robson Silver badge

Re: Here's hoping.

And of course they have different capabilities, one is not merely a superset of the other. Additionally of course if you have two instruments they can look at different things at the same time.

Robots still suck. It's all they can do to stand up – never mind rise up

John Robson Silver badge

Re: Doors

Something I fail at at least several times a day as well.

Still looking for a way to implant a little bit of silicon into my ears *without* destroying what's left of my hearing - then i could use some solid state gyros to replace the non hearing elements of my inner ear.

Data collected to promote public health must never be surrendered to police

John Robson Silver badge

Re: This is how tyranny ALWAYS begins...

""For your children", "for your own health" - to "keep you safe" or any variation on this theme are the usual utterances of any would-be tyrant(s) justifying the restriction of your liberties. "

Absolutely - we shouldn't accept fences alongside railways, roads or cliffs. We shouldn't be accepting traffic lights telling us when to stop... </ s>

Sometimes things are done for your benefit.

John Robson Silver badge

Re: 'Freely provided data'

"The only time you are genuinely free is when those who rule you know nothing about you"


That simply means that however benevolent they might be they cannot act in your best interest... of course it also potentially means that the malicious crowd currently there can't know they are acting in my worst interest, but they don't need to do that on an individual level.

To effectively govern you must have some idea of the population you are governing.

Audacity users stick the knife – and fork – in to strip audio editor of unwanted features

John Robson Silver badge



The wheels come off Formula 1's notification service as fans plied with attacker's messages

John Robson Silver badge

Cancelling the five second penalty would not result in uproar... go round the outside there and expect to be run out of road.

The only thing the stewards got right was being consistent and penalising perez twice as well

Inventor of the graphite anode – key Li-ion battery tech – says he can now charge an electric car in 10 minutes

John Robson Silver badge

Re: different perspective.

Actually a much smaller percentage than people think - ~24% of households without somewhere to park but 23% of households don't have a car.

Overlap will be neither perfect nor exclusive.

Former NASA astronaut and Shuttle boss weigh in on fixing Hubble Space Telescope

John Robson Silver badge

Re: Dragon limitations

"Crew dragons fly with the trunk empty so the trunk can passively stabilise the capsule during an abort."

I didn't think that was the case - I know it's stretched for stability.

But SpaceX's website says:

"Dragon’s trunk not only carries unpressurized cargo but also supports the spacecraft during ascent. One half of the trunk is covered in solar panels that provide power to Dragon during flight and while on-station. The trunk remains attached to Dragon until shortly before reentry into Earth’s atmosphere."

And the cargo version has deployable panels, not panels on one half of the trunk, so they must be referring to the crew version - or have I got something really wrong?


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