* Posts by Mark S

20 publicly visible posts • joined 22 May 2008

More doubts on ID card readers

Mark S

28 posts and nobody stated the obvious???

i.e. that one must use the middle finger to get the proper flicked-off sound.

Lost jungle tribe research: Nice guys can get the girls

Mark S

Need funding...

for ethically-challenged sociology research project.

Yanomamo vs. Maori vs. Masai vs. Waorani in ultimate fighting championship, village on village, last man standing gets the girls.

DHS tests bomb-proof CCTV by blowing up bus

Mark S

Title is required? I think not...

Sophisticated surveillance countermeasure #1, the hoodie.

German police boot down doors of Wikileaks offices

Mark S

Nothing to see here, move along

Government knows best what you need to know, children. Now get back to work and keep those taxes flowing.

Mathematica man brews 'AI' Google Killer™

Mark S

Ego only gets you so far...

I personally like Mathematica (though use MATLAB more), but found Wolfram's theorizing to be a pretentious and utterly simplistic view of the natural world (the parts I managed to get through, that is).

That said, applying AI or expert systems to develop slightly more intelligent web-based queries could actually work, but might get off to a faster start working with Google or the like, rather than starting from scratch.

Steven Jones @ 9:02, agree completely re. medical diagnosis, at least at a preliminary stage. The concept that we often rely on tired, overworked, variably competent individuals to piece together - sometimes from distant memory - disparate symptoms, analyses and measurements to diagnose complex life-threatening problems is absurd.

AC @ 12:19, interesting point and maybe why I've always preferred geology, geochemistry and geophysics to the awkward "Earth Sciences" beloved by fashionable universities.

British troops to wear smart earplugs in Afghan combat

Mark S

the future is calling

I can hear it now, the subtle and tightly-controlled panic in the voice of the sergeant radioing in for reinforcements or air support: "we're outnumbered, pinned down, under fire and, oh Christ! running low on AA batteries"

You're barcoded: The sneaky under-25 route to compulsory ID

Mark S
Paris Hilton


Great idea, long overdue. Personally I think UK pubs should only allow in Canadian male tourists between 44 and 46 years of age with passports, plus good-looking promiscuous girls between 16 and 24.

And the bartender of course, provided he's frail and over 70.

Paris, because she's a little too old to get in now.

Exploding mobile phone kills Chinese man

Mark S
Dead Vulture

@ David Wiernicki

Not at all. Why, exactly the same thing happened to me just last week.

British Airways to enable mid-Atlantic texting

Mark S

@@thinking out loud

GPS positioning is inherently a 3D problem (actually four if you count the timing issue) so no, altitude - actually distance above the Earth's center of mass - is always calculated. For purely geometric reasons the vertical measurement errors are typically 3-4 times greater than horizontal ones.

A GPS pedant...

Mark S
Black Helicopters

answer to Ryanair flyer from a GPS user

The velocity indicated by the GPS will be referenced to ground, not air speed. Pilots need to know both ground and airspeed since the engine power requirements and lift of the aircraft are controlled by the air speed (leaving out factors like temperature and pressure). Strong side winds mean that the aircraft actually crabs and flies slightly sideways when viewed from the ground, although this is rarely noticeable with a jet.

Exploding core counts: Heading for the buffers

Mark S


Nick, exactly right. That loop cannot be parallelized. Nested loops where the calculated variable(s) is or are independent of neighbouring values are excellent candidates for parallelization. Very common in a number of scientific applications, and I suppose in graphics and image processing as well, which is why multicore processors are becoming popular in those fields if you can't afford clusters. Reduce a six-day CPU-limited model to 12 hours and people get very interested, at least the ones that do that sort of thing.

Spy chief to Obama: Let DARPA fix economy

Mark S
Black Helicopters

Here's another crazy idea...

Alternatively they could try a lean, well-equipped cost-effective military geared to quickly fighting, winning and then returning from whatever rare engagements are actually needed for US security.

You know, precisely the opposite of what they've been doing for the last 20+ years...

Seagate isolates 'potential' Barracuda flaw

Mark S

Serial number checker is dodgy...

I have two 1.5 TB drives (model ST31500341AS) both purchased at the same time, both manufactured in Thailand, both firmware SD17. The serial number validation tool says one is affected by the firmware bug, the other not... hmm.

Personally I'm going to leave the drive that has already been installed (no critical data on it, but it's a bitch to reformat and reinstall applications...) powered on and running and wait a week or so before applying the updated firmware until I read reports about whether that job has been botched as well.

Email snafu gifts federal informants' names to press

Mark S
Dead Vulture

Could have been much worse...

If you're going to be outed as an informant, better a white collar fraud case than a mafia murder one.

Reg, who wasn't so lucky.

$400m US space interceptor deal inked

Mark S


What, atom bombs aren't reusable? For the price they cost you'd think nukes would be more than throwaway goods.

(Mine's lead-lined)

Boffins crack secret of dolphins' aquatic prowess

Mark S

Biologists ARE scientistists too, really

Several years ago a Canadian polar bear biologist was interviewed about a large group of (normally solitary) adult bears who had gathered around a pod of beluga whales that had become trapped in a hole in sea ice too extensive for them to swim to the next clear spot (i.e. they would have suffocated under the ice).

The bears took their time slashing the whales with their claws from the ice and in the water, and when a whale got weak enough one would pull it onto the ice and the group would feast peacefully.

The interviewer asked the biologist how a polar bear could possibly pull a whale out of the water and up onto the ice. His answer, in all its technical glory: "... I guess they're very strong..."

The penguin, because, you know, the OTHER polar region...

US admiral wants pain-rayguns for Gulf fleet

Mark S

Why use a screwdriver when a computerized six-axis industrial robot will do

I suppose a warning shot across the bow is just too 19th century.

Laser raygun plane gets $30m 'extended evaluation'

Mark S
Black Helicopters

a weapon worth countless million$

"Excuse me President Chavez, but your car has another flat tyre."

"Damn those gringos!"

Microsoft hopes third time is lucky with XP SP3 update

Mark S

Not alone? It's getting crowded...

Same here, no email, Firefox, IE or Opera (but I could ping through my router, oh joy). Going with the simple minded solution I just uninstalled KB951748 and KB951978, rebooted to a BSOD thanks to a third party application, rebooted again and back to normal. I also use ZoneAlarm, not sure if that's cause or coincidence.

SP3 worked fine on two low priority machines, not ready to run it on my workstation just yet.

After Debian's epic SSL blunder, a world of hurt for security pros

Mark S

Computers are not necessarily deterministic

...because the world is really analog. Using the least significant bits of a voltage measurement taken at the thermal noise level (using an inexpensive 24 bit ADC measuring a voltage drop over a 5K resistor) would be one way to generate a non-repeatable and non-predictable starting value for a standard RNG. Don't know if that's been tried.