* Posts by Peter2

1966 posts • joined 12 Jun 2009

Talk about a control plane... US Air Force says upcoming B-21 stealth bomber will use Kubernetes

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: Works the other way too

Yes. Each picks a technology that asymmetrically screws with the others arsenal. Refer to The Strategy of Technology by Jeremy Pournelle originally written in the late 1960's.

Basically, one side builds lots of tanks. The other side builds an the attack helicopter (ah64) and plane (a10) which obsoletes every one of those tanks on the attack unless you control the sky. Since the soviets didn't have any realistic chance of controlling the sky, they built a big SAM system to try and deny control of the sky to the opposition which would let their tanks be effective again.

This is then countered by smarter anti radar missiles, jammers and stealth aircraft and so things keep going until one side or the other gives up.

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: Open-source nuclear warplanes

As somebody doing reenactment, 3D printing in the manufacturing technology of now.

It's just that you don't 3D print metal.

Here and now, you 3D print wax. Then you take it to a nice man who buries the wax in sand and leaves a couple of holes, then melts out the wax. Then you pour in molten metal, and after it's cooled and the extra bits are cut off then you have an identical replica of the original in the metal of your choice.

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: I wonder


A drone won't carry a nuke halfway across a planet. An ICBM might, but then it'd run the risk of being shot down by Anti Ballistic Missile defenses. This is not a theoretical point, The USA has deployed their own ABM system, other nations have bought or developed their own (ie Israel), South Korea, China and Russia have deployed systems.

Hence there is a risk that ICBM's may not work, and therefore there is a rise in interest in cruise missiles and bombers to maintain the balance of terror.

Peter2 Silver badge

Not really.

Imagine that back in the times that the prevailing weapon combination was the sword and shield that somebody had suggested that because their military was only a defense force they'd only equip them with shields and armour, but weren't equipping them with swords or javelins because those were offensive weapons. Yes, it would have been obviously stupid, but let's consider why.

The meaning behind the saying "the best form of defense is attack" that the mere possibility of attack forces the opponent to dedicate significant attention to fortifications (in ancient times castles and strongholds, in more modern times radar installations etc) and then troops to garrison these facilities against attack, even if they are attacking you. Having to guard against an attack means that only a fraction of the total possible force can in actual practice actually be deployed to an attack.

If your potential opponents know that your troops couldn't hurt theirs then it'd mean that they would reduce the amount spent on fortifications (why bother?) it'd also reduce the amount spent on good armour (well, if they don't have swords then leather armour is going to be just as effective as metal armour, if you bother armoring your troops at all) and you'd make more swords, maces, spears and then hire more people for your military with the savings. And you can just buy ladders to swarm up the walls of the opponents fortifications, since your not going to have to worry about javelins getting thrown at your attackers and therefore you won't need siege artillery with longer ranges than their personal infantry weapons.

On a more political level of choosing to go to war, you know that your not going to get counter attacked, and that nobody is going to go around burning your farms, warehouses and industry so the risks to the politicians getting kicked out of power (either by being voted out, or strung up by an outraged mob) are relatively lower than an opponent that might hit back. The chances of going to war therefore rise.

In modern terms, flapping about stealth bombers means that your opponent spends more on fixed defences such as radar installations, bomb proofing things in case the bomber gets through and then building spare installations in case one gets blown up.

Barmy ban on businesses, Brits based in Blighty bearing or buying .eu domains is back: Cut-off date is Jan 1, 2021

Peter2 Silver badge

I'd suggest that it's considerably more daft, actually.

It's now an established thing that you should account for in planning which domain name to use. So if you live in a country that might conceivably leave the EU in the next twenty years then your going to want to ensure that your using a national domain name that you know dammed well is going to keep working.

That would suggest that you shouldn't use a .eu domain in any country that has any serious movement with any public support to leave the EU. And um, that's not just Britain.

Watch an oblivious Tesla Model 3 smash into an overturned truck on a highway 'while under Autopilot'

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: It is autopilot but not autonomous

Probably because the Tesla's autopilot was driving and the human, dulled into complacency by an "autopilot" doing the driving wasn't paying as much attention to the road as he would have done if he was actually driving?

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: I get that the cameras may not have picked out the truck...

No, but we do have two visual receivers and very, very good software with neural learning that gives good depth perception on the fly and then automatically gives approximate distances from objects.

People with damaged equipment that doesn't support depth perception are simply banned from driving in most countries.

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: It is autopilot but not autonomous

3. Standing on the brakes turns off cruise control in most cars. Since the human braked, did that turn autopilot off? If so then technically if one were so inclined then this could be omitted from the list of autopilot accidents since the accident occurred while the human was in control. Technically.

Of course, that'd be absurd, but that's why the saying is "lies, damn lies and statistics" and frankly, I wouldn't trust a marketing department not to do it.

Peter2 Silver badge

When the car is driving, after a while your going to start trusting it and get complacent and pay less attention to the road. In previous incidents this has included watching DVD's, or climbing into the passenger seat while the car is driving.

The problem comes when the car does something so absurdly stupid that a human is frozen thinking "what the hell" before getting to the "I need to take control, I need to stop, slam foot down on brakes". That takes time, and when the car is moving at 70mph you don't have it. 70MPH is ~30 metres per second. If you spot the problem 200 metres away, you have ~6.6 seconds before impact. Since it takes 75 meters to decelerate to a stop from 70mph you have a hair over three seconds to realise that the car is going to kill you, and go for the brakes.

It takes one second for an average driver paying attention to notice a problem and hit the brakes. If your expecting the car to react because it's driving, by the time it hasn't reacted as you expected and you realise you need to take control, in most cases it's already going to be too late.

This is well demonstrated in the video, at six seconds you can notice that the Tesla is alongside a car under human control. Note the differences. The car in the lane next to him under human control notices the problem, checks his surroundings and then moves over a lane and considerately slows down to allow the Tesla driver to pull in front of him.

He finishes doing this at point the Tesla driver realises he needs to take control, a second later smoke comes from the Tesla brakes as the driver picks the simplest route and slams on the brakes as he doesn't have time to evaluate all possible courses of action (which even at this point include switching lanes, but he doesn't have enough time to consider this, check his surroundings and discover that the surrounding traffic has left him room to escape) Hence, brakes applied. Too little, too late. He hits.

The human driver drives past the "AI" created crash 4 seconds later having slowed down rather more considerably than the Tesla simply to allow it maneuver room to escape.

One can point to accident rates, however these will rise as more self driving cars end up on the road and run into conditions like this. It also ignores that the majority of accidents at the moment are had by inexperienced and arrogant drivers, mostly within their first few years of driving when racing on the public roads and then discovering a tree or ditch. I would suggest though that even if self driving cars did away with boy racers, it would simply distribute the fatalities more widely through accidents like this that a 16 year old learner wouldn't have committed. :/

I'm quite happy with adopting some of the useful technology like automatic braking (which has the possibility of all but eliminating the most common UK accident, the rear end shunt in traffic) but personally, I'd be happier driving myself.

Hoverbikes, Hyperloops and sub-orbital hijinks: Yes, the '3rd, 4th and 5th Dimensions of Travel' are coming soon

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

As far as I know Hyperloop was not considered. Even though construction has already begun, one would think that this option should be on the table.

Oh, i'm sure it was considered. For about five minutes.

On a trainline, you have a limited number of trains on track split into segments. A single train carriage has capacity for 76, and a train typically tows 16 of them. Therefore, a single train fully loaded with people seated (and nobody standing) would shift 1216 people. Assuming that you can unload people in 20 minutes and then send it back the other way then that's 3 per hour, so 1216 * 3 = 3648 per hour. You can leverage far greater numbers along the infrastructure by having lots of different platforms so the throughput can be a lot higher with multiple trains unloading.

Hyperloop is currently vapourware, but the sketch that does exist is a single pod per track with 16 people in it. Assuming that you can get everybody out of one and then send it back in 5 minutes (probably optimistic, but thought exercise) then that's 12 hyperloops per hour. 16 * 12 = 192 people shifted per hour and the design at the moment doesn't allow for different platforms or stops en-route.

Think of it like Concorde. Technically cool, but commercially destroyed by slower transport that carries large number of people slowly.

As anti-brutality protests fill streets of American cities, netizens cram police app with K-Pop, airwaves with NWA

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: Antifa ; Anonymous

Yes and no. This comes down to one of those context things.

If you were arrested for a terrorism offense and you got raided by the police and while searching they discover that you have it, then it's "materials useful for the commission of a terrorism offense" and your in the shit.

The chap arrested for just being in possession of a copy had been fighting in Syria for 6 months, then came back to the UK. Plod knew he had a copy of the anarchist handbook and arrested him for terrorism offenses and prosecuted. The Jury found him not guilty on the basis that he'd been fighting against ISIS and there was no evidence that he planned on blowing anything up in the UK.

So if your a law abiding citizen and have a copy then your fine.

If you post a message somewhere saying "i'm going to blow up X" then if the police do a search on your house and discover a copy, then your buggered.

Software bug in Bombardier airliner made planes turn the wrong way

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: "Of 296 passengers and crew on board, there were 112 fatalities."

Although he'd lost the rudder, he still had the ailerons.

Many aircraft were that badly damaged in WW2, but few of them landed since the crews had parachutes and would quite happily use them rather than kill themselves landing a wreck. Wrecked airliners without parachutes however...

Surprise! That £339 world's first 'anti-5G' protection device is just a £5 USB drive with a nice sticker on it

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: It’s got what plants crave

I wouldn't say it's related to low IQ per se. The issue frankly is that anybody with any technical or scientific ability tends to go and get a fairly well paying job, or runs their own business using that ability.

People running for politics etc need the ability to persuade people that they are right, which is usually done by a strong belief in something as somebody with righteous self belief can be fairly persuasive.

Of course, the more you understand, the more you understand that you don't understand. Not understanding the whole illusive superiority/dunning kruger effect thing somebody utterly ignorant about everything is therefore the ideal politician as they read the first page of a summary and decide that they are the universes ultimate expert on the subject, and confidence is persuasive.

Hence you get fairly persuasive morons in soft occupations like politics and broadcast media.

Peter2 Silver badge

Well of course it doesn't do anything.

The only way to disrupt 5G signals aka incoming electromagnetic radiation would be to sit in a faraday cage or jam the signals. It's obviously not a faraday cage, and jamming the signals would be done by transmitting on the same frequency with more power which is a bit loopy if you were worried about 5G signals.

Then just break down what this thing is claiming. "proprietary holographic nano-layer catalyst technology"

proprietary = We won't tell you how it works because it's a commercial secret that we don't want anybody else to copy, but it does work, trust us! One normally expects some level of objective proof it does something.

Holographic = playing with laser light to create 3d holograms.

nano-layer = very, very thin layer

catalyst = accelerates a chemical reaction

So it's claiming to be a commercially secret hologram generator that works because of a thin layer that is accelerating a chemical reaction. Which then works to project a forcefield that totally prevents any electromagnetic radiation or biohazard from entering. Ignoring the fact that nobody can generate a forcefield at the moment and sticking to their own brand of science, if it's a chemical reaction that generated a forcefield then wouldn't you need to keep topping it up with chemicals to maintain your forcefield?

Even if you believed it's claims it's still meaningless drivel relying on using words too big and complex for quasi intellectual idiots who have a superiority complex (we know better than specialists in their fields!) to understand. Science fiction or fantasy writers would cringe at those sort of sentences as they at least usually contrive to be vaguely plausible within their own universes.

Trump issues toothless exec order to show donors, fans he's doing something about those Twitter twerps

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: So, the country that created the Marketplace for Ideas

Very poor quality trolling.

"truth" is an absolute defense against libel or slander, so if you can prove what your saying is true then your fine. For instance, I could say that you are tremendously ignorant of the facts that pertain to the UK libel laws and just making things up, and you couldn't possibly sue me because it's factually indisputable.

If you prefix something with "in my opinion" then it's a matter of your opinion so even if your opinion is not actually correct then your fine as if sued you could simply say "My bad, I was wrong" and it's effectively impossible to prosecute you.

The only time you can get sued really is if you make a claim that does not have a factual basis, claim that it's true and then refuse to acknowledge your error.

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: So, the country that created the Marketplace for Ideas

The UK Libel laws exist for a reason. The reason is that the only way of dealing with the period equivalent of a twitter hate mob spreading nasty rumors was to publicly challenge the person responsible to a duel. If the person refused, they would be forever branded a coward in polite society and would cease to be welcome pretty much anywhere.

If they came along to a duel then the protocol was not shooting both at the same time, but the aggrieved party would shoot first, the offender would accept this and then take his shot if he was still alive. The idea is not to shoot somebody with a ~.75 caliber pistol ball at 12 paces, but to persuade the person that actually apologising and desisting from upsetting the other person would be a jolly good idea. If they did apologise, that was the end of the duel.

Dueling was thoroughly illegal even at the time; it was just effectively the only option going to protect your reputation. Hence, the libel laws penalties were upped to the point that you could legally destroy somebody to provide an alternative to a pistol ball. However, equally the aim remained not to destroy somebody but to persuade the person that apologising, admitting that their claims were without actual foundation and they'd made their claims and stopping was their best option. And if they came to that conclusion before even upsetting the person, so much the better.

Hence, you'll note that if you publicly apologise and admit that your claims were baseless in the UK that's a bar against legal action being taken against you. You only end up in trouble if you double down on your baseless claims.

eBay users spot the online auction house port-scanning their PCs. Um... is that OK?

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: Probably fine

That said... GDPR? That's tricky, GDPR honestly makes a lot of normal computer activities a legal grey area.

Honestly, no it doesn't.

You can do anything legal that you have specific informed consent to do. Doing a port scan is legal, assuming that you have informed consent from somebody to do it, so if you had a website that offers a port scan (eg. shields up run by Steve Gibson which has been running for something like 30 years) then if somebody chooses to visit it and run a port scan then that is entirely legal.

It'd only cease to be legal if he then did something like sell the data that he collected without the end user having specifically consented to that.

The issue comes when somebody then takes the same technology and runs it on somebody who has not specifically been informed and who has not consented. You can't just put a line in page 9000 of your terms and conditions saying that by visiting the site they have accepted this.

So the issue comes down to "did eBay have specific informed consent to run a port scan". As nobody knew they were doing it then by definition they didn't have informed consent to do so. As it wasn't authorised they are breaking the law.

It's not difficult.

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: Downright illegal

Yeah, under the GDPR though they are required to gain explicit consent to the use of your data in this way. I haven't given it.

Has anybody reported this to the ICO yet?

'I wrote Task Manager': Ex-Microsoft programmer Dave Plummer spills the beans

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: TaskManager...Meh...

But note that process monitor from Sysinternals (while an invaluable tool) only became necessary after this chap finished with Task Manager and somebody else fucked it up.

At least I assume that's why if I kill a process in SysInternals's Process Explorer then it dies with no questions asked but doesn't in Task Manager.

If someone could stop hackers pwning medical systems right now, that would be cool, say Red Cross and friends

Peter2 Silver badge

ICRC argues that the world has agreed to spare healthcare facilities from attack

I think that people are expecting that an awful lot of "rouge" hackers are in fact under defacto government control, which truthfully is probably not too far off of the truth given that it's reasonably well established that both China & Russia do this.

Applying the geneva conventions to these people is perfectly reasonable, as if you've been trained equipped and armed people to form a militia then your responsible for ensuring that they follow the laws of civilsed warfare. Asking states to exert similar influence they have over people they may well have trained equipped and armed with digital tools instead of firearms is not too much of an ask. I doubt it'll work, but asking doesn't hurt or cost anything.

Home working is here to stay, says Lenovo boss, and will grow the total addressable PC market by up to 30%

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: Market +30% = wages -30%

I think it also depends on the nature of the work and the employee.

Some people are living with their parents until up to their mid 30's due to house prices having exploded out of control way beyond the ability of most people to pay for them and that makes it difficult for them. A work from home setup is easily possible if your well off and have a full scale house between two adults and maybe a couple of children, but if your living in a one bedroom flat with your partner or house sharing between 4 people? It doesn't work well due to a lack of dedicated working space.

Even for the people that can do it, for it to be a long term arrangement changes need to happen. I've arranged for some home users to get proper desks, chairs, hardware and network equipment to make a proper home office. Yep, those people are going to be perfectly happy at home forever. But for every one person that's like that i'd personally say there's another one person who really desperately wants to be back at the office and another 2 who would probably prefer to be, who would laugh uproariously at the idea that everybody could work from home full time.

I mean, theoretically everybody doing an office job should be able to work from home. But theoretically there is no difference between theory and practice. And yet in practice there is.

For instance, in your case you've got 3+ hours travel time and significant travel costs. We're not in London so we don't have the travel times or costs. Most of our staff live within 20 minutes of the office and might maybe spend a hundred quid tops in travel a month so our staff probably wouldn't be so willing to work an extra 4+ hours rather than drive 20 minutes to get in. Heck, some of our staff walk into the office in 5 minutes. As soon as you shift a few variables around it changes everything.

I don't massively have a single point other than that some people are being a bit to unrealistic and utopian. Not everybody is having a positive experience for reasons that go way beyond middle management empire building. It's tempting to blame an easy target, but it's intellectually lazy and gives wrong answers.

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: Market +30% = wages -30%

I can't personally see WFH being much different to what it was previously, but that's because i'm an IT Manager and can see things that a lot of other people can't.

I would go so far as to say that the existing WFH arrangements may well have grievously damaged the entire concept of working from home for a generation in many environments.

In our offices, the staff have 2-4 monitors, a decent PC wired to a gigabit network with a hundred meg fibre line internet connection, and other support equipment such as high(ish) spec printers, MFD's that do scanning at several dozen pages a minute, desks ergonomically set to make their lives easier, phones with headsets etc etc etc.

At home, a lot of people are hunched over a dining table with a single laptop screen, using a dining room chair over wireless, with a mobile phone app for a phone system, with the kids screaming in the background and no other support equipment. In this environment, if you only lose 50% productivity then your probably doing well.

Now personally, I don't have kids and my home equipment is better than what I have in the office and is ergonomically setup. Would you like to guess what sort of a percentage of workers have setups equivalent or better than their work setups at home? I'd say maybe 20%. Of course, out of people that visit this site it's probably approaching 100%, but we aren't typical of the normal users. If you think that it's 20% then that would mean that up to 80% of people don't share our personal experiences with home working.

The number of people I have talked to who have started getting headaches (which is eyestrain due to bad PC positioning relative to light sources, especially serious with home equipment with glossy screens if that's used instead of the kit we've provided) or muscle pain as a result of bad posture is startling. Now all of these issues could easily have been dealt with and wouldn't normally have happened when doing a proper home working rollout. But as a result of the somewhat rushed transition to working from home people more or less had the equipment thrown at them with adequate instructions and a best wishes card and of course we can't show people how to setup their home environment properly beyond phoning or emailing because we can't visit in person.

Now, normally all of those issues would have been picked up and dealt with. In these circumstances, not so much. I suspect that the true situation is that if your fairly well off then working from home has probably been enjoyable. Otherwise, I doubt it.

Many of our staff working from home have taken a good 50% performance hit. Many haven't of course, but the problems are way more nuanced than some people are willing to talk about, and the top 20% of the population by income telling everybody "yeah your working from home forever now" is not likely to receive a universal welcome or perhaps go as well as I some people appear to be expecting.

For every company that decides to scrap it's office, i'm fairly sure that there will be at least another company that decides that home working is highly undesirable. And both firms will likely be correct.

Linus Torvalds drops Intel and adopts 32-core AMD Ryzen Threadripper on personal PC

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: New PC

FWIW if you're ever having difficulty finding PC cases that don't look like a disco ball covered in neon lights, I can strongly recommend Fractal Design. They have a whole range that all look like solid black monoliths from 2001.

I'm sure they are nice boxes, but I just want the most painfully bland beige box going.

My first boxes a few years back had to be that way of course when black and white boxes were only really available to the likes of Compaq and Dell, and all that was available to us mere mortals in the enthusiast world was the Beige Box. These days I take a particularly perverse delight in having put all of my money into good components and having a really quite absurd amount of computing power in a painfully nondescript beige box.

My friends kids found it particularly hilarious as they were gifted my old gaming box. It is in a wonderfully bland old scratched and dented beige box complete with missing blanking plates from where a blu ray writer used to sit before they got it (which was a second hand thing picked up from CEX for £20 as they couldn't figure out why it wasn't working properly; ie old firmware...) and they set it up to play against the box that one of their friends had, which was a really, really expensive alienware box that looked lovely with transparent bits showing flashing rgb lights on the memory modules, motherboard etc.

I am told that my ancient Phenom box destroyed it on load time and performance in a way that was apparently quite embarrassing for the kid with the bright flashy Alienware box, which probably cost his dad something like twice what my Phenom box cost me over it's ~13 year life including the incremental life extensions (new drives, ssd for a boot drive, random mid range graphics cards every few years instead of absurdly expensive graphics cards once)

But then i'm an old fashioned gamer who used to buy stuff at a good point on the price/performance chart, configure it to get the last erg of performance and then run it into the ground until newer games wouldn't run on the minimum resolution/graphics settings anymore. ;)

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: New PC

And power supply. I tried an upgrade of just the CPU, RAM, Mobo and graphics card and then discovered the existing PSU wouldn't provide enough juice.

I then just gave up and added a new case (Have you ANY idea how difficult it is to find a traditional monotonously boring beige box these days?) a PCI-E SSD and a newer HDD and rebuilt a computer out of the scrap and gave it to a friends kids as a gaming box.

BoJo buckles: UK govt to cut Huawei 5G kit use 'to zero by 2023' after pressure from Tory MPs, Uncle Sam

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: So...

There is some anecdotal linkage between measles causing gut perforation and some types of ASD

This still doesn't even touch what Wakefield was saying; which was that the MMR vaccine was the problem. And he was saying that because the companies that were making three separate vaccines didn't want a combined vaccine so they did a smear campaign.

As somebody who is not neurologically typical and who therefore generally keeps up with the latest in neurology just "because", my personal view is that neurologists take too fine a view of their area of expertise and stop paying attention to anything below the neck.

Which I think is a mistake because people who have allergies tend to miss out on entire food types. This means that they tend to be deficient in certain things and these pass through long and only dimly understood chemical chains to create things for the brain.

There is a very good set of studies that will eventually be done that is likely to prove a lot of issues are related to gut bacteria or the lack thereof of particular types of it. However, this isn't really neurology so neurologists aren't interested because they are looking about 6 steps down the line and seemingly aren't interested in the precursors.

So yeah, it's almost certain that particular types of gut damage will result in neurological abnormalities, but as you say the area of study is verboten probably for the next century or two. Unfortunately.

Capture the horrors of war in razor-sharp quality with this ruggedised Samsung phone – or just lob it at enemy forces

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: Does it phone home

The British army used WhatsApp to tell somebody potentially infected with a certain virus everybody is familiar with to stay put at home, and not to come in and spread it around a base.

An advisory was then given to troops that if an officer directly gives you an order and does it via WhatsApp then it is still as binding as if he gives it to you directly in person.

The British military has a long history of using anything that works to pass messages down to carrier pigeons to carry messages, and employing birds of prey to interfere with the opposition doing the same.

The military will have equipment produced by BAE or similar, however the forces have their own names for such suppliers, such as "Billions Above Estimate". Buying a suitable hardened device off the shelf that does something that troops need is possibly a better option to field a device today than getting a defence company like BAE to develop a mobile phone which will arrive in ten years time with a hundredth of the functionality of an off the shelf device at twice the price and about five times the weight.

Hooray! It's IT Day! Let's hear it for the lukewarm mugs of dirty water that everyone seems to like so much

Peter2 Silver badge

I suppose they do have caffeine and sugar in them, so I could possibly have gotten away with a tenuous link to energy drinks replacing tea and coffee for unfortunate and uneducated heathens who need to be civilised and converted to the cup of tea.

Peter2 Silver badge

Not going to bite on the obvious drivel ..

I think most people glug it from the can. I'd agree that nice bite size chunks of the can would probably be an improvement of most of the contents though. ;)

Peter2 Silver badge

There's also the British Army's love of tea, which dates back a few centuries - Bernard Cornwall's Sharpe was set during the Napoleonic wars, and the soldiers in that are constantly brewing up.

That's one of the things he got wrong. The officers liked their tea, but it was too expensive for the common men to afford at the time. A common thing was servants selling the used tea leaves which could be dried and dyed and then resold to people who couldn't afford the expense of full on tea.

Peter2 Silver badge

It would certainly have been a healthier drink than drinking unboiled water pumped from the pump next to your outside toilet and getting Cholera from the process! I'm pretty sure that small beer was boiled, bottled and consumed quickly enough to be relatively healthy though.

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: Tea addicts

Chronic caffeine addiction?

Peter2 Silver badge

Tea is nicer than coffee, but that's not really saying much to be fair.

Properly speaking the love affair with tea has a lot to do with the Victorians temperance movement. Back in the "good old days" there was no water filtering, so if you didn't boil it then you'd get lots of nasties from drinking it. Boiling the water dealt with this problem, and the standard beverage of choice was in Georgian times "small beer" which had something like a 0.5% alcohol content, much like most modern canned beers.

The Termperance movement then made it socially unacceptable to drink small beer by screeching about the evils of the devil water loudly, and to appease the screechers small beer was largely replaced with a mania for drinking tea. These days things have progressed and the descendants of the same people are screaming about putting a lump of sugar in the tea. Thanks to effective filtered water on tap we can all drink squashes and cordials instead without worrying about dying from horrible diseases.

Right, i've insulted tea drinkers, coffee drinkers, anybody who's drinks modern canned piss and the politically correct brigade. Who have I missed?

Podcast Addict banned from Google Play Store because heaven forbid app somehow references COVID-19

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: Well there's the problem

The thing is though, about that "profitable business" thing. Personally, I just ignore Google's profitability and look at Google's parent company Alphabet where all of the money actually ends up. Alphabet makes ten billion profit a quarter. That's forty billion profit a year. Numerically, 0.1% of that profit would be forty million.

In the UK you could hire people for 15k to do a simple job of "is this objectionable" quite easily since a lot of people get paid less than this to do far more unpleasant jobs.

At 1.5x the cost which is the rough ballpark used to account for tax, pensions, office space, equipment etc that'd cost 22.5k p/a per employee so for 40 million you'd get ~1,777 people doing the job for around 0.1% of the companies yearly profit so it's not really even a case of the business model not being profitable.

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: Well there's the problem

If you have access to the database, then sure.

But in a large multinational organisation, i'd say that they wouldn't have wanted the helpdesk deleting any tickets that messed up their SLA's, so wouldn't have had access to this easily. They'd have to have done it that way I suppose though, can you imagine doing it through user level tools? The mind boggles.

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: Well there's the problem

This is the way of the world, unfortunately.

I do to this day wonder how they dealt with it from their side though; I have never met a servicedesk system that would allow any easy way of dealing with 1800 requests a minute. Even if you could group select and bulk delete say 200 in a go, you'd still have to do that nine times a minute to keep up with the incoming volume of problems being logged.

Mind you, if they flagged them all as "complete" after dealing with the problem then it would have had an interesting and statistically significant effect on their average response times.

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: Well there's the problem

I had a similar sounding issue with Microsoft at one point.

I logged an issue, got a standard boilerplate acknowledgement saying the usual "we'll look at this issue when hell boils over" and left it like that. I kept getting flooded with shit for another few weeks.

I then set up a complicated fudge of scripts to automate recording the incoming problem, crafting a support message and attaching the requested debug into and logging it with Microsoft Support and filing their email acknowledgement. I then felt a twinge of conscience before setting it live.

It didn't take long to get an email from Microsoft support diplomatically inquiring if I would kindly desist from logging issues at a rate of about 30 per second as they'd got the message that the issue needed to be investigated. With it being late on a Friday afternoon I had a much more serious crisis of conscience, resolved by heading off to the pub with everybody else.

The problem was apparently fixed over the course of the weekend as there were no more reports being generated on the Monday morning. I do hope their helldesk system allowed programmatic closing of tickets; ~30 reports per second is around 1800 requests per minute and 108,000 per hour, which is something like 2.59 million individual reports over a 24 hour period.

Dutch spies helped Britain's GCHQ break Argentine crypto during Falklands War

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: Pilots carrying comprising material

Not absurdly dangerous though either, to be fair.

Basically, the Exocet radar was designed to fly at the centre of a radar return. The boffins came up with the idea of hovering a helicopter say 30 metres off the side of a ship. When the missile comes in, it sees the ship and the helicopter as a single radar return and flies directly at the centre of the resulting radar return; by the time it's close enough to realise it's taken an average of both and flown between the helicopter and the side of the ship missing both.

These days ships have decoy launchers that toss an inflatable decoy over one side to do the same job.

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: Pilots carrying comprising material

I particularly loved Mr Jone's practical jokes in the battle of the beams. Seconded as being very well worth buying.

Peter2 Silver badge

I'm pretty sure Intelligence types say the absolute minimum to politicians already. The trouble is, politicians are on top. When they ask a question, Intelligence is supposed to answer.

Supposedly, the briefing that politicians get is stripped of as much information as is safe to do to protect people and methods from politicians getting pissed one evening and telling everybody everything.

ie this "Our spy $name placed in $department tells us that they plan to do $thing on $date"

gets stripped back to something like this:-

We have information that $who will do $what on $date. We are highly confident of this information.

Now if the opposition knew that then they might be able to figure out ways that the information might have been gained back to a person or method, but there is a balance between a need to know the information, and having the information and not sharing it (at which point having gone to the trouble and expense of getting the information is wasted)

If you don't LARP, you'll cry: Armed fun police swoop to disarm knight-errant spotted patrolling Welsh parkland

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: WTF ?!!

Hanging from the belt of the chap that's about to take the photo with his mobile.

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: WTF ?!!

This guy's wearing armour. If it works properly, surely baton rounds wouldn't be much...welll...cop?

Well, possibly. Most LARP "Armour" is >1mm stainless steel, which has fuck all in the way of ballistic protection and will bend if you push it with your hands. In addition, it's still going to take the full force of the round, it's just going to get distributed more widely. Getting hit with something like that is going to be unpleasant.

A taser certainly wouldn't work because the prongs wouldn't go through the armour and stick in the skin, the Baton rounds "might" work, but I wouldn't bet my life on it. Nor were the police, note the real firearms (MP7's, 9mm pistols) as backup in case.

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: WTF ?!!

They were. And note it was plastic ammo fired in the 1980's, which would have been small rounds fired at high velocity which could still penetrate the body, hence why the use of those was discontinued in the UK.

The modern systems fire big rounds at lower speeds hence the "grenade launcher". There have been no deaths using that system.

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: WTF ?!!

Very little could go wrong because it's loaded with baton rounds which is a "less lethal" way of taking down violent people with knives etc than a bullet. Technically it's the Attenuating Energy Projectile.

Basically, if your a knife wielding nutter the UK police would try and tazer you as a first attempt. This is unlikely to work against somebody wearing armour, so they've dug out the baton gun. A few baton rounds tends to result in the guy with the knife dropping it, clutching the area hit and swearing profusely. The idea being that the police can then heroically slap the handcuffs on with only moderate risk of getting knifed.

The most serious injury with a Baton round to date in the UK was a bloke under the influence who charged an armed response squad with a bladed weapon. He took several baton rounds and kept going, the last at ~3 metres from the policeman resulted in a groin injury and he dropped the knife. And later had one testicle surgically removed, but that's still a rather better alternative than getting a 3 round burst of live ammo from a G36, which he was about a second away from getting.

Got a few spare terabytes of storage sitting around unused? Tardigrade can turn that into crypto-bucks

Peter2 Silver badge

Apple is helped by being one of the most powerful multinational companies since the East India Company with more money and lawyers than most governments, and afaik not having any data in a UK jurisdiction.

I think that your looking at the average plod/judge and not a crowd of IT Professionals. As far as plod/courts is concerned i'd be quite concerned that they'd consider "the data is on your server" to be reasonable grounds for giving you an order to produce the keys. Ok, so you say the data belongs to "Tardigrade". They say "well, we don't have the key either".

I suppose it depends on how confident you are that the courts are going to say "oh, never mind then" to that response rather than jailing you because you haven't provided it? I think that you are a lot more confident in how tech savvy and reasonable the courts are than I am.

I'd say there is something like a 50% chance that they'd jail me. I think you think it's what, a 20% chance?

I see things in this light:-

Possible risk:

1) Getting jailed for 2-5 years by tech phobic police and judges.

2) Losing your job since employers aren't obliged to continue employing me if i'm in prison, and after a replacement is in place for 2-5 years would my current employer be willing to fire the replacement to give me my old job back that i'd no longer know how to do because in 2-5 years significant changes will have occurred that I won't understand?

3) Getting a criminal record that will show when any employer does a criminal records check running the risk of making you unemployable.

Possible reward:

~£5 a month

Now would you personally be willing to assume that risk for that reward? Personally, I don't think it's rationally worthwhile in the UK. Your view of course may differ and i'm happy to agree to disagree. :)

Peter2 Silver badge

. . .

I'm not sure you understand the problem. Say I store this sort of stuff on my home server. A ramdom person reports me for having $illegalStuff. The police get a search warrant, and come and take my server away.

They then turn around and take a drive image, point to the fact part of the drive that's encrypted and demand that I give them the encryption keys for the data, or do 2-5 years in prison. I explain the data is not mine and I can't give them the encryption keys.

Your then arguing with a bunch of policemen who are more adept at using handcuffs than the finer points of encryption schemes and a judge who has a hundred other cases to do that day and is probably no more technically savvy. Their response is likely to be "encryption key or prison".

Now how much do you trust Tardigrade to provide the encryption key? 2-5 years in prison enough?

I personally wouldn't.

Peter2 Silver badge

. . . And if somebody gives you a court order to produce the encryption key for the data stored on your device under section 49 of the (de)Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000?

Just wondering. You know, since failing to do so results in a 2 year prison sentence, and 5 years if related to national security.

Seems a little risky to me for the possible gain of a couple of quid a month.

More automation to suddenly look like a jolly good idea as businesses struggle through coronavirus crisis, say analysts

Peter2 Silver badge

... As long as you don't mind it not meeting the required specification.

And meanwhile UK companies that can build N95 masks at a rate of a million a month still haven't got orders 2 months down the line because they aren't government approved suppliers, but the ones in turkey and the far east that build equipment not to the required spec are approved suppliers, so they get the orders.

The civil service at it's finest.

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: Exactly

Honestly, I think it's a case of idiots being in charge who can't see the big picture.

All the bosses say "but I could make more money if I get rid of those pesky humans and just have a bunch of computers, plus a repair contract". The economy then consists of a handful of wealthy bosses buying a lot, a few repair men buying a little and a large number of underpaid or unemployed serfs spending practically nothing other than food/rent and the bosses then complain that their companies are going down the drain because only a handful of people are buying more than subsistence level goods. (ie, food, rent, clothes etc)

US govt can talk about the end of lockdown, but Silicon Valley says 'as long as it takes' – and Twitter says 'WFH forever'

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: Balkanization

IME there is a lot of truth to this. Unfortunately I'm afraid the corollary hasn't yet shown up, i.e. that bad, unfocused management are let go or otherwise redeployed.

The Emperor Napoleon once said that there are no bad regiments, only bad commanding officers. This bit of wisdom has been revised by modern management practices to read that there are no bad managers, only bad employees.

The employees will be fired, and the manglement responsible for the problems will be promoted. It's how things work these days.

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: My girlfriend...

I doubt that the councils will actually be this imaginative. They'll just shove up the tax rates on the remaining businesses to compensate for the lower revenue and increase parking costs again then wonder why the remaining companies all go out of business or WFH too, they've been doing that since forever.

The thing is though, working at home costs the council nothing. You traveling to work each day means that your doing ten journeys over the roads per week (assuming 5 day working weeks) which creates wear and tear on the transport infrastructure.


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