* Posts by Nigel 11

3191 publicly visible posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

Airbus doesn't just make aircraft – now it designs drone killers

Nigel 11


It's not actually very hard to get a legal shotgun in the UK, at least if you live in rural parts. Which leaves the question, would it be legal to blast a drone that was trespassing on your property? (Assume that if the drone were a woodpigeon, it would be legal to shoot it).

IANAL and have absolutely no idea.

Tesla autopilot driver 'was speeding' moments before death – prelim report

Nigel 11

Re: Bar none

Or military camouflage patterns?

Er ...

Lowland Scots plunged into panic by marauding ostrich family

Nigel 11

I suspect rheas can survive Scottish winters. Short of re-introducing the wolf, we may be stuck with them.

What's losing steam at Apple? Pretty much everything

Nigel 11


Brilliantly spotted. I thought it was USA spelling. But while we are at it, maybe

lustre (UK) :- a gentle sheen, soft glow or radiance; see pearls, gold or the like

luster(US):- a gratuitously shiny surface pretending to be other than what it is, like a gold-plated turd.

Nigel 11

Re: Wrong turns

'Save as' is still there - just hold option when you click the file menu.


This is the sort of non-answer that completely drives one up the wall. How is the person who has been using an interface for many years supposed to know this? And how is it a good idea to force them to abandon an established pattern of use which is built-in to their synapses in much the same way as riding a bicycle is, and to lose their train of thought concerning the actual *work* they are trying to perform, to be replaced by mental rummaging for "Yes, I remember that they changed it, where did they put it this time? " followed by frustration, raised blood pressure, and subvocalised(?) four-letter words.

It's not just Apple. It's a pandemic. It's the reason Windows 8 and Windows 10 were so hated. It's the reason Gnome 3 was so hated. All have lost user share as a result.


If you really must, add things to the menus, which established users can ignore or explore at their leisure. But please, DO NOT TAKE THINGS AWAY!

This should be up there with the investment manager's first and second commandments. (Rule 1: Do not lose money. Rule 2: do not forget rule 1)


Osram's Lightify smart bulbs blow a security fuse – isn't anything code audited anymore?

Nigel 11

What I'd hope ...

I'd hope that someone is working on a seriously low-bandwidth protocol for commanding functions that are not safety critical, like on and off or up and down for light-bulbs, over the mains wiring of a house. It would emphatically not be any form of "homeplug" Ethernet, both for security reasons and for power-consumption reasons. Cars have already explored this route (CANbus). There are automotive security issues (and they ARE safety critical) but AFAIK these all revolve around the master controller, not the bus interfaces on the light-bulbs.

Then, there would be a standard for competing gateway / control hubs, which might be linked to a LAN and which might occasionally be secure.

It might even happen some time in the 2020s!

Get yer gnashers round 64-layer 3D NAND, beam WDC and Toshiba

Nigel 11

Layer limit?

Anyone know if there is a fundamental limit to how many layers can be stacked? Or is the only limit set by the probability of there not being a fatal defect in one layer, raised to the power of the number of layers? In which case they'll be measured in Terabits sooner rather than later.

(I recall reading in the early days of TFT displays, that defect per unit area considerations meant that nobody could ever make one bigger than 20 inches. We know how that bit of future-gazing turned out, although they do seem to get exponentially more expensive above 55 inches).

Florida Man cleared of money laundering after selling Bitcoins to Agent Ponzi

Nigel 11

Legal versus Moral

Personally if someone told me that they were purchasing something in order to commit a crime I would tell them to go away (and possibly phone the police once they are gone - a separate moral choice). Normally people don't tell honest traders, if they intend to use what they purchase for committing a crime.

Whether falling for temptation should be criminal or whether it is entrapment is a matter of law, but on moral grounds it is quite clear that to proceed with the sale is immoral.

And on common-sense grounds, you have to be remarkably thick not to smell a rat. "WTF are you telling me that?" should be anyone's reaction, whether standing on moral high ground or in a deep cesspit of criminality!

What will laws on self-driving cars look like? Think black boxes and 'minimum attention'

Nigel 11

Re: I suspect there is something to be said

For a long distance journey where you don't want to drive, take a train or a plane,

That's what I thought a few years ago when I wanted to get from Hatfield to Lincoln and back. Nice easy rail journey, wouldn't even have to change trains across London ....

After studying the timetables, I worked out that the fastest train journey would take longer than driving, that the service was infrequent and irregular and that there was no way to get back in the late evening, and that the cost would exceed the cost of running the car ... for a single person, and there were two people travelling.

Aaagh! They do things better in Switzerland.

Nigel 11

Re: Pointless and expensive technology

Isn't the obvious reason for a handover a transition from an automation-friendly main road network to a minor road?

I'm quite prepared to suggest that on a motorway or dual carriageway with slip-roads, a robot can already do a better job of driving safely than an average human. Now add in the car communicating with the car in front and with the warning signs. Also add non-visual lane marking technology that works even when the road is wet and dazzly. I think that with such a near-future highway it's perfectly sensible to identify a destination, hand control to the car, and expect it to give you a minutes-long long countdown to when it will be leaving the robot-compatible highway network and requiring you to assume responsibility (potentially hours later).

Where the idea of a fully automatic car is hubristic, is on rural or urban minor roads with more unpredictable hazards. Here, a human driver and a robot working as a team would be best. Let the human do the driving, so as to remain alert. The robot may still be better at slamming on the brakes in an emergency situation such as a vehicle emerging from the side without giving way -- it's faster -- and it can alert the cars behind far faster than the human visual system can -- but it may completely fail to identify some other potential hazards as hazardous, and require a human override for non-hazards such as small fallen branches or cardboard boxes on the road (Note: I'm assuming a competent human. Many aren't!)

Once the car is on auto, it cannot be acceptable for the manufacturer to escape liability by giving a human driver mere seconds to assume responsibility. We are no good at doing that! The car must always be capable of coming to a safe automatic stop if the driver has not confirmed that he is back in charge (ideally in an escape lane to deal with human drivers who have fallen deeply asleep, without blocking a motorway exit for everyone else! )

UK's climate change dept abolished, but 'smart meters and all our policies strong as ever'

Nigel 11

Re: Solar panels

I have a 2.75kWp roof array, South facing, almost perfect inclination. On a sunny day in summer it outputs 2.4kW (precisely as predicted in advance by the supplier from its geometry). The washing machine is rated at 2.5kW. So it is (almost) enough to run a washing machine, despite being less than the 3 to 4 kWp which all but the smallest houses have roof space for. (I have three panels less because of a loft conversion and not wanting to have panels over the windows).

re NiFe: the raw materials are all cheaper than for lead-acid. The higher cost is because there is no mass manufacturing. But if they were being used for grid-scale storage, whether in millions of garden sheds all over the country or in power-station-size warehouses, that would generate the economy of scale, and the hugely longer service life makes the long-term economics better. Manufacture of NiFe is pretty low-tech, compared even to lead-acid, let alone LiPo. Elon Musk is doing a good job with Tesla / Powerwall / LiPo. It's obviously in his automotive interests to do everything he can with LiPo technology, and I wish him well.

Nigel 11

Solar panels

Get yourself some solar panels and the test becomes much easier. You then run the washing machine or dishwasher when the sun is shining and there are kilowatts of electricity available to you that won't cost you anything. If they do variable-tarriff smart metering, it is probable that the same rule of thumb will work well (because there is lots of solar electricity generation feeding the grid these days).

What the government should be doing is investing in energy storage so that the large amount of exported electricity hitting the grid on sunny days becomes a solution rather than a problem.

In passing does anyone know why NiFe batteries are not on anyone's radar? Their disadvantages (bulky/heavy, electrically leaky, lowish self-limiting maximum discharge rate) are not significant if the application is to store solar energy in fixed battery banks for a mere few hours or days on a scale ranging from a garden shed to a power-station-sized warehouse. The advantages are cheap and abundant raw materials (nickel, Iron, caustic potash), extremely long service life, and being extremely forgiving of "abuse" such as overcharging, overload, or discharge to "flat". They are reputedly as good as new after a decade sitting around in a discharged state. They can be short-circuited and will survive the experience. They're expensive to buy right now, because they are not manufactured in anything like the same volume as lead-acid batteries (which have a service life of only a few years even if they are used optimally).

MPs tell BT: Lay more fibre or face split with Openreach

Nigel 11

Re: BT - the caring company.

@Kaltern - do you realize that you are quite lucky, being offered 1.5Mbps in your rural Scottish location? Down here, not 30 miles from Coventry, I know of places that can get only 0.5Mbps ... and it stops working altogether whenever it rains hard.

Nigel 11

Re: Nationalization not needed.

Well, I know that some rural communities do have fast fiber. I also know of some that cannot obtain even 1Mbps down their telephone wires. And this is not in the wilds of Dartmoor or the Scottish Highlands. This is about six miles from a fiber-equipped town along a main road, and less than thirty miles from Coventry. To add insult to injury, there's no mobile service either!

A USO should compel BT to raise the standards of those telephone wires and/or install booster amplifiers along the route, so that a reliable 8Mbps is attainable. I don't believe that the cost, spread across the country, would be huge.

Nigel 11

Nationalization not needed.

It doesn't need to be nationalized. It does need to be placed under a universal service obligation.

Once it is the law that it is obliged to provide a broadband service of defined minimum performance within defined maximum time of a request, to anywhere in the UK (or to some subset of anywhere including all residences and businesses), at a cost that's not out of reach of a household if modest means, then it will happen. Otherwise the fines that will be levied if it does not will simply get bigger and bigger, with thhe ultimate threat of break-up.

At present it is becoming ever more obvious that OpenReach's priority is to install ever faster fibre in places where Virgin or some other provider already offers a fibre service. It ignores rural communities where there is no competition and where the cost of providing a service for a small number of customers will exceed the amount of money it can bill them for.

Can you imagine a country where 5% of the population are told that they cannot have a mains water supply because it is not cost-effective to provide it? "You have a pond. What are you complaining about?"

Smartphones aren't tiny PCs, but that's how we use them in the West

Nigel 11

Re: It boils down to the Chinese writing...

For payments, I'm a Luddite and still prefer those plastic cards with a chip on board

Me too. 2-factor security: something you have *and* something you know. Also the UK legal situation: it's the credit card company's responsibility to prove that you owe them the money, in a court if necessary. It's far easier to be categorical if the hardware you used is provided to you by the card company, so if they so much as mention malware it is their problem by definition.

Gigabyte BIOS blight fright: Your megabytes’ rewrite plight in the spotlight

Nigel 11

Re: Not a bug...

In the UK, your only legal recourse is against whoever sold you the component or system that you are complaining about. E-buyer, John Lewis, the corner computer store, etc. They can in turn sue their supplier, and so on up the chain. Gigabyte and Microsoft will be 3 or 4 levels removed from you.

I've always assumed that this plan was invented by lawyers for the benefit of lawyers.

John Lewis CIO commands brand-new super-group role

Nigel 11

Re: I worked in John Lewis once...

I recently moved house and needed a new fridge. I needed it as soon as possible. It's not an appliance that one can easily do without. This used to be John Lewis territory, but they couldn't do today. Nor tomorrow. Not even when I asked what models can you do tomorrow?

Then I found a much smaller online-only company that could. Thank you Mark's Electricals.

Linux letting go: 32-bit builds on the way out

Nigel 11

Goodbye Skype?

Skype hasn't been supported on Linux for ages but there's an i386 binary for Fedora 14 (or something of that vintage) that still works if you install a load of i386 library packages onto your 64-bit system. Presumably when they stop building i386, it will become impossible to use Skype on Linux. Although I suppose if there is enough demand some volunteer will step in to continue building the necessary i386 packages.

Is the need any wider? Are there other binary-only proprietary things that folks might want to keep using in the Linux world?

Save it, devs. Red Hat doesn't want your $99 for RHEL

Nigel 11

RHEL Licensing

I don't use RHEL so I cannot be sure. However, the GPL permits "mere aggregation" of closed-source packages on the same media. Therefore, there may be packages (of necessity outside the kernel) that are Red Had proprietary closed source, which you don't get if you run Centos or any other Linux. Centos is now in bed with Red Hat and is basically a compiled version of all of RHEL that is GPL-licensed, for people who don't want to pay for support and any extra proprietary stuff (or as is often stated, simply to be sure of having someone to sue if it takes their business down!)

"Mere aggregation" also allows Red Hat to ship RHEL with copyrighted images (icons, screen backgrounds etc.) I don't suppose they'd give a damn if Centos accidentally shipped some of them, beyond asking politely for the next release to remove them. OTOH if they ever showed up in Oracle Linux, expect legal fireworks!

Parliament takes axe to 2nd EU referendum petition

Nigel 11

Re: Joining Petition requires more ID than actual Referendum Vote

Actually. no. The referendum is self-checking. If you turn up at a polling station and claim to be someone who has already voted, you or the prior voter are lying and it will be completely obvious if there is a large amount of electoral fraud taking place. Whereas with the online petition, I wouldn't ever know if somebody has cast a vote on my behalf. It's not as if my e-mail address is permanently registered and immutable, and there are plenty of older voters who don't have e-mail addresses at all.

(Which also makes such online polls a biassed sample of the electorate; how do you find out about such a poll? Obviously, 100% of political activists will know ...).

Also it's a bit silly that one cannot cast a negative vote. There have been several polls that I'd have liked to downvote, but only El Reg provides that facility.

Nigel 11

Re: antidemocratic etc

The UK has an entirely appointed Second Chamber

Which has a revising and advisory role. The parliament act makes it absolutely clear that the commons can always override the lords.

They do provide a safety valve, though, for when passions get inflamed in the commons. They can delay things until tempers cool ... or prevent something unpopular getting put on the statute book by a doomed and vengeful government that's out of step with the public and soon to face an election or lose a vote of no confidence.

Nigel 11

Re: Simples...

Not so simples.

Your name and postcode are out there on numerous marketing databases. As for a poll card number match, I do not now what my poll card number is. It is not a number I have ever needed to write down. So i expect introducing this as a requirement would disenfranchise 99% of the electorate.

OK, that last is fixable, but then there would be a DB of poll card numbers, which would get hacked sooner rather than later.

What, you don't think they'd resort to impersonation and hacking?

Nigel 11

Re: Democracy of one

The problem with allowing the Sheeple to vote, is that most of them don't appreciate the impact of what they are voting for.

Sigh. Yes, 50% of the electorate will always be less intelligent than the average voter. (That's a definition of average )

And our political rulers will always think of everyone who does not agree with them as "sheeple". For me, the key reason for voting the way I did was that in the UK system, we get regular chances to kick out our representatives when they cease to represent us. In the EU system, they aren't representatives but appointees, and we cannot kick them out, and the corruption will never reduce. Eventually the EU will look like the Austro-Hungarian Empire. (in a century or so, if its rulers can hold it together for that long)

And it will then end just as badly.

Nigel 11

Re: 4Chan pranked

pencils dont break down, easily sharpened and clear distinct marks.

Crayons, not pencils. You can rub out a graphite pencil mark. What they provide in polling stations is not a graphite pencil and hopefully well tested against the effect of a rubber.

PS if you prefer, you can bring your own pen with you and use that.

Nigel 11

Re: The IP address is not a great way to decide validity

The referendum was gerrymandered, not least by reneging on the 2015 manifesto commitment to enfranchise Brits long-term abroad

Funny definition of gerrymandered. It normally refers to tilting the playing field in order to get the desired result. About 3/4 of MPs wanted "remain", and allowing Brits living long-term abroad would have increased the "remain" vote. By enough? I doubt it.

Too late now! Pandora's ballot-box is open.

The ball is well and truly with the EU now. They could get the referendum reversed quite easily by offering the UK a significantly better deal (settlement, treaty change) than that useless piece of paper they sent Cameron away with. Then the UK has another referendum on the improved terms. But the noises coming from Brussels suggest that they very much do not think that is in their interests. For better or worse we are out "and good riddance". Any re-ballot on the same terms now would probably get a bigger "leave" majority. One thing they do not get, even now, is that the citizens are absolutely sick of being hectored by a self-apointed self-perpetuating political class that does not represent them. That's the EU and the majority of our MPs alike. And that's not just in the UK!

PS the real news is not the result, the falling pound, or the political fallout in the UK. It's the imminent collapse of the Italian banking system, leading to gawd knows what. Unfortunately the political mismanagement of the referendum both in the UK and by the EC Commission, has added a spark to a powder-keg. Though perhaps it's better for the explosion to happen now, than after the Eurocrats have dug an even deeper hole containing even more powder with even more precious eggs piled on top. Which is what they are trying to do, and why they want us gone as soon as possible.

You know how that data breach happened? Three words: eBay, hard drives

Nigel 11

Re: On the flip side

Good idea.

And on a wet Sunday afternoon, after disk erasure completes, reformat it, dump some images of random Microsoft DVDs onto it, then fake up a DB table of names and addresses from a public directory and fields that look like credit card numbers, issue/expiry dates and CVVs. Then recursively delete all the files.

Bastard might get himself arrested. (an innocent buyer will just reformat or look at an empty disk and start writing his stuff).

Nigel 11

Re: Hacking a disk that's been 100% written to zero.

definitely easier to do rendition to Assad's basement and just ask nicely.

Unless the former owner of the PC was a suicide bomber, random bits of whom are now in a bucket in the morgue.

Nigel 11

Hacking a disk that's been 100% written to zero.

To get data off a disk that has been written to zero you need to hack at the hardware level.

When you write to a disk the head is not always exactly centred on the track. Sometimes it is off a bit to the left, sometimes off a bit to the right. So there may be a smear of previous contents as a weak noisy signal, if you are able to command the head to offset to various normally non-commandable positions left or right of nominal centre, and pick up the analogue signal from the head for nonstandard processing rather than feeding it into the standard disk-read signal processor code.

A three-letter agency might even have something like a large electron microscope to image the magnetic state of every square nanometer on a platter, and something like an image-processing system to decode it.

If you write multiple garbage patterns the chances of any off-centre data remaining goes down. I imagine each pass trashes about half of what was left by the previous one.

There is also whatever is left on the bad blocks that were replaced during the disk's lifetime. You have to assess what is the chance of a random four kilobytes written at a random time in the past being of any interest, and what might the consequences be? I'd hope that a disk's firmware erases a bad sector before relocating it, but unless the manufacturer specifies that it does you should assume the worst.

Nigel 11

Physical destruction is best

This will put the data beyond reach of anyone except a three-letter agency (and probably also the agencies).

0. Make sure it's a magnetic disk not an SSD or hybrid

1. Smash the electronics board with a hammer (probably optional, but satisfying).

2. Drill several holes in the top of the HDA

3. Put the disk in a tray and pour xxx-cola into one of the holes until the HDA is full, then more to cover it. (The multiple holes are to let the air / gas vent).

4. Leave overnight to dissolve the magnetic domains off the platters. (You know what it does to a tooth, right? )

5. Throw it away.

For an SSD you need an incinerator. (Or a decent bonfire, and utter disregard for the anti-pollution regulations).

Nigel 11

Re: 10% ?

Realistically, how many folks have the ability to retrieve any data from $DISK following

# dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/$DISK bs=4M

Yes, that is not a secure erasure technique. Yes, anyone with a few grand to spare might be able to convince a data-recovery company to retrieve some random fragments of what was there before.

More secure, if you care: download DBAN. Not sure that is officially secure either, because it lacks any bureaucratic certification of secure-ness. But it is the officially secure algorithm.

Osborne on Leave limbo: Travel and trade stay unchanged

Nigel 11

Re: On the plus side

Osborne - the worst chancellor, since, er, Gordon Brown?

His meddling with stamp duty is particularly counter-productive. He ought to have scrapped stamp duty on all houses under about £1M. Charging older folks to downsize creates a shortage of family-size homes on the market. Charging them an extra 3% to buy a small house first, move at leisure, and sell the old family home once they are sure it was the right decision, will make it ten times worse. And just why is buying houses to let out something to discourage? Until you are married with children there are definite advantages to renting, such as remaining able to take a better job that requires relocating without that relocation costing you very many thousands of pounds.

If the money absolutely had to be raised (and it probably did) then just bite the bullet and raise income tax, basic and higher rates alike.

Nigel 11

Re: Wishful thinking

I wonder what would happen if the UK is simply forced out on WTO MFN trading rules. (Will, if the EU is even more stupid than even I think). Tarriff barriers work both ways. So that's an incentive for UK consumers to buy cars etc. from other countries that we can negotiate trade deals with, rather than the EU. Also a new source of income for the UK Treasury.

The reason that it shouldn't happen is that it'll hurt both of us, but it'll hurt the EU more than the UK, and Germany more than other parts of the EU. Biggest single loser? Probably VAG (Volkswagen Autogruppe).

Anything other than free trade is a negative-sum game in the long term, but in the short term it hurts the country with the trade surplus more than the one with the deficit.

Nigel 11

- the Scots will never be allowed independence now,

Sigh. Is that a Scots Nationalist talking or just someone taken in by their self-serving propaganda?

The (financially) best thing that could happen for England outside the EU is if Scotland was offered another independence referendum with the choice of leaving the UK and remaining in the EU or staying in the UK, and voted to leave. This would save the English Treasury about fifteen billion pounds per annum. That's the taxes raised in England and spent in Scotland that keeps this Kingdom United (or has done so far).

The next best thing would be if the Scots voted to stay in the UK and leave the EU with us. It would bury the nationalists for a good few decades, and I don't actually grudge the South of the country properly subsidizing the poorer North. One of the myriad problems of the EU is that Germany *does* grudge subsidizing ... well, everyone else. To be fair to Germany, the rest is 80+% of the whole, whereas in the UK it is 10% (more if you include Wales, Northern Ireland, and the far north of England, but under 50%).

I'm quite certain that once the Article 50 proceedings are completed, Scotland will be offered the above choice. England can't lose whatever the Scots decide. I'd be really sad for them if they chose the EU, but that would be another tube of toothpaste that could not be refilled.

Nigel 11

Re: Growing Sense of bereavement..

It's a lot more useful to look at the pound against the Euro, and to wait until the dust has settled on a shock result. The Dollar is strong right now for other reasons. The pound is still well UP on five years ago. https://uk.finance.yahoo.com/q/bc?s=GBPEUR=X&t=5y&l=on&z=l&q=l&c=

I'd suggest getting up to speed with what is happening with Italian banks, which has the potential to completely eclipse brexit. (they'll blame it on us, though). And if the EU escapes an even bigger Euro-driven financial blow-up within years, it'll do so by becoming a hybrid of the former USSR and the Austro-Hungarian empire.

As for the US$ after the election of president Trump ... I hope we never get to find out about that.

Nigel 11

Re: Project FUD is alive and well


Many thanks. He's a better writer than I am!

Nigel 11

Re: Even here at the bottom end it's a mess

Plus I'd have to find a new accountant

Why do you need an accountant to hedge? It's not hard and online brokers happily handle mere three-digit trades in major currencies. You take an order for x dollars which you you can expect to be paid in two months' time and on that basis have to buy materials costing y pounds now. You can sell some dollars equalling y pounds two months forward at a rate known today. You can also look up the relevant forward rate for the issuing of quotations. All you need is a forex broker. Two months hence your dollars arrive, a demand for those dollars by your broker becomes due, and the pounds at the agreed rate become available.

My holiday funds were hedged a few weeks ago. I rather expected this!

Nigel 11

Re: Even here at the bottom end it's a mess

If you buy cherries from Italy to make "British' jams or buy German parts to produce your machines designed in Britain a company could easily be worse off.

Only to the extent that the customers can choose not to buy your product when you are forced to raise your prices. For example, if one of your competitors is making similar machines out of parts manufactured in the UK, or if they switch to blackberry and apple jam made using British fruit, and you don't change your output. If there is no alternative to using German parts you'll just be forced to raise your prices, and your competitors likewise.

Nigel 11

Re: Project FUD is alive and well

Two and a half days is only long enough to observe a knee-jerk reaction (which is actually reversing to some degree over the last couple of hours). In a year or two we'll know to what extent project fear was accurate.

Too late to put the toothpaste back in the tube, anyway. You can blame the EU commission as much as the Cameron government. The fundamental problem is that neither the UK government nor the EU commission has been listening to its citizens for the last two decades.

If the EU commission wants to fix this problem they'll (finally!) listen and propose treaty changes to (a) allow states to limit freedom of movement within sane limits (roll back to before Maastrict treaty?), and (b) permanently and irrevocably roll back EU law out of all "home" matters which do not directly concern dealings between EU states and (c) address the EU's democratic deficit to reconnect it with its peoples. Then we could hold another referendum on the new and improved settlement, and get the result that UK.gov and EU.gov both wanted.

Listening to the noises emanating from the palaces in Brussels so far, they still don't recognise this problem. They want the UK out asap. It won't be good for the UK in the next few years, but it will end far worse for the EU and worst for the commissioners in power when TS finally hits TF. The guillotine awaits them, and I'm not at all certain that's a metaphor.

Nigel 11

Re: Even here at the bottom end it's a mess

This fall in the pound is going to increase cost of living, increase inflation, increase interest rates and the list goes on and on when it comes to this.

Hasn't the Bank of England been actively trying to increase inflation since the financial crisis? Now something has happened which may actually succeed.

Compare Japan. (which may also prove that deflation is not always as fearsome as half-digested history of the 1930s would suggest).

Never-never chip tech Memristor shuffles closer to death row

Nigel 11

Best Tech?

Looks like it'll be Intel's Xpoint and/or other phase-change memory that reaches production. Does anyone know whether there's anything fundamentally better about Memristors over these others? If not, then it's just a race to production, with HP falling behind and dropping out.

If HP has lost interest and if there is a fundamental advantage, one would expect some other company to buy the patents.

Open letter from EPO staff pleads with country reps to fire president

Nigel 11

Talk about timing!

Was the timing of this letter purely coincidental with the UK referendum?

Pressure mounts against Rule 41 – the FBI's power to hack Tor, VPN users on sight

Nigel 11

Re: fingerprinting

We should have browsers that only yield the minimum of necessary information back to a web site

You can run your browser of choice within a virtual machine. Clone or even build a new VM for each browsing session, or for each site visited if you are truly paranoid.

You're still traceable by IP address, of course, but at least your created-anew browsers won't leak personal information from one site to another.

I'm not that paranoid, though.

Supercomputers in 2030: Lots of exaflops and LOTS of DRAM

Nigel 11

Re: What's the current estimate of the computing power of the human brain?

The end point for Moore Observation is a 1 atom wide gate with a 1 atom thick insulator on top.

Actually it's several atoms thick. Below that quantum effects come into play and your insulator becomes intolerably leaky. Alternatively, you might be able to work with the quantum effects, but the result will not be a field-effect transistor as we know it, nor (AFAIK) is anything of this nature working at the VLSI level in R&D labs.

Musk's Tesla to buy Musk's SolarCity for US$2.8 billion

Nigel 11

Re: They could make the panels structural

You can already buy solar shingles. Some are flat and shiny and look like panels, except that they cover the complete roof in a slate-like pattern rather than being bolted onto it. Others are textured to look a lot more like natural blue slate. There's an efficiency penalty for the improved aesthetics. Both sorts cost quite a lot more than the bog-standard panels. I'm hoping the price comes down before I decide to replace my conservatory with something with better thermal regulation.

Coming soon, barring unforseen R&D snags: perovskite solar panels. These will naturally look less blue, more like slate. Also the manufacturing process will be spray-on, which ought to mean that solar panels can be roof-textured without a serious efficiency penalty. Also, that solar material might be spray-painted onto the roof of electric cars (every little helps, and the weight penalty more or less disappears).

BTW I don't think Elon is primarily motivated by making money. He actually wants to save the planet, and is going at the job like an engineer and entrepreneur rather than a green politician!

Apple pollutes data about you to protect your privacy. But it might not be enough

Nigel 11

Re: @ inmypjs

Since the French decided that incinerating live sheep was a good idea

Yuk. Good thing it's not lunch-time. Link for verification? Not easily found by Google "incinerating live sheep".

Nigel 11

Re: So what happens....

Diesel + Fertilizer = AMFO. You are now a terrorist.

Along with every farmer, plant breeder and quarryman in the country. Fail.

Quarrymen actually mix the fertilizer and the fuel oil to make ANFO in a hole in the ground, for blasting rock. Cheaper than "proper" high explosives and just as effective. Only example I can think of where something invented for terrorism then found a peaceful use.

Actually, this observation tells us a lot about the motives of those who collect our data under the pretences of protecting us from terrorists. Terrorists are outliers. It's hard or impossible to identify outliers using big data techniques. What it's good at is finding large subsets of people who fit some profile that makes them appropriate targets for advertizing.

Or for genocide, when the government goes really bad. Sorry, but it's true.

BTW there's something wrong with Google's algorithms concerning myself. Even though I now live in rural Northants and don't even try to hide my phone's identity, Google alternates between targeting me with advertizing for businesses in NW London (where I used to live over a year ago) and Solihull (where I've never even driven through). Odd. Slightly reassuring.

Bloke flogs $40 B&W printer on Craigslist, gets $12,000 legal bill

Nigel 11

our legal system is actually pretty good TBH in comparison to other jurisdictions around the World.

Indeed. In fact, it is one of the UK's major "invisible" exports. Say a Panamanian tanker owner contracts with an Iranian oil company. Under what law is the contract going to be written and arbitrated?

Panamanian or Iranian? No, the other party has zero trust in that legal system.

Often it is British law, and the fine points of commercial contracts worth many millions get arbitrated here. When an adverse verdict can cost hundreds of millions, paying a good few million for the lawyers and the court is money well spent. And I've heard it said, that the losers are not always sore, having had their day in court and realising that they lost fair and square on points, and not because the judge was bribed. Although far more often, a negotiated settlement is arrived at under the principles of British law, before any all-or-nothing judgement.

There are only a few other countries whose judiciary is regarded as equally uncorruptible. (This is the best argument for highly-paid judges that I can think of!)

Nigel 11

Re: Countersuit

Crowdfund the countersuit?

This jerk might find himself comprehensively out-lawyered, if a million folks contributed $5 in order to establish once and for all that gaming the system will ultimately blow up in your face.

Nigel 11

Perhaps it is time to send him back.

And you lucky folks in the USA would be able to do that. Whereas here in the UK we can't send even murderers back, not even to the nice safe EU country that they were born in.

What about the victims' human rights, I ask?