* Posts by Ben 50

94 publicly visible posts • joined 8 Dec 2009


We're all doooooomed: Gloomy Brit workforce really isn't coping well with impending Brexit

Ben 50

Where were you all before the referendum?!?

I stopped reading el Reg regularly before the referendum. Why? Every EU comment thread was full of raving Leavers, and half the articles were no better. Where have they gone? Where were the remainer arguments? Is it just that Russia has run out of money for trolls, or have all the angry sysadmins crawled back into their server racks? Was it just that the majority of Register readers couldn't be arsed, or never thought in their right minds that anybody would take Farage seriously?

SpaceX's Musk: We'll reuse today's Falcon 9 rocket within 2 months

Ben 50

Re: Pricing's gonna change...

Suddenly I see the light.

Is he going to establish way stations outside the gravity pool, with shuttle services between them (ion drives)? Each way station being a farm, with a large number in orbit around Mars dropping down supplies while the colony gets established?

Would you blow $5.6m to own a dot-word? Meet a bloke who did just that

Ben 50

A two to five year ROI?

...and people are complaining about that?!?!?

Modern spying 101: How NSA bugs Chinese PCs with tiny USB radios - NYT

Ben 50

What's truth?

Every empire spends billions attempting to present itself as a benevolent force for good - both to its own people and those it is conquering.

A constant trickle of facts emerge over time from various possible sources - journalists, insiders, personal experience - which show these messages to be propaganda and hypocrisy.

Snowdon has just delivered one of this generation's defining puzzle pieces (as Ellsberg did before him in the Sixties), but it will be forgotten soon enough as any national government worth its salt sets the message and tone in the long run - they establish what the majority will think and feel is real unless they question it (...and yes, there's a whole field of research dedicated to how this happens).

So, was Snowdon wrong to provide another small puzzle piece exposing the hypocrisy and lies of the U.S. being a free and democratic country operating within the law as a global force for good?

The founders of the U.S. were well aware of these issues. For them, Government is for the People - not the other way around. At *least* since Nixon (although Eisenhower's warnings about the influence of the Industrial-Military complex in the halls of power is perhaps more relevant), the corruption feared by the American Constitution because strong enough for those that are Governing to regard themselves above the People.

Now, the U.S. Secret Police regard themselves above Government, with or without Snowdon, it's the beginning of the end for the U.S. empire in the long run. The military and oil boys have already brought the U.S. to the brink of financial and moral bankruptcy. Democracy, as a means of systematic adjustment based on honest feedback from the needs of its people as they sample the environment around them is not possible, when the foxes are running the hen house. After all, can anybody here point to a Secret Police anywhere in the world, or through their actions in history, whose primary function isn't support of the ruling class rather than even the government of the day, let alone the people?

Snowdon is providing a last gasp opportunity for those in American who believe in Democracy, to react and slap the NSA, and the Military, back into their corner (which I doubt is still possible).

Cameron on EU data protection rules rewrite: 'Hold it so we get it right'

Ben 50

Just to put this in perspective....

... the talk on the Mainland (no, not Britain, the other side of the Channel) is that without a unified European stance on data privacy, the EU will be in a weakened position whilst negotiating the upcoming EU/US trade agreement. They're absolutely right about that. Which is precisely why Camerloony is undermining the EU, and with it, the rights of British citizens. Again.

Adobe price hike: Your money or your files, frappuccino sippers

Ben 50

ceteris paribus

I didn't realise "ceteris paribus" was being abused in this way. Marshall never intended it to be used as anything other than a tool for investigating complex interdependencies (i.e. similarly to the physical sciences trying to focus on one variable while holding others constant). It isn't really a get-out clause at all when you're talking about formulae for actively influencing the market.

Uh-oh! Kim Dotcom is back with a brand new Megaupload site

Ben 50

The long term response is predictable.

Manufacturers will be obliged to bake backdoors into your systems either at the hardware or OS level.

If we aren't already that far.

Hitachi buys Horizon to save UK's nuclear future

Ben 50

The upside for Hitachi is...

...that their nuclear business is about to go Pfut in Japan but they're able to jump ship.

The main thing holding back renewables is battery capacity to smooth the generation/supply imbalances. That's a technological problem. The Germans are extremely good at solving difficult technical problems, and appear to be making good progress with this specific problem.

This is why the German government announced (last week was it?) that they're now expecting 45% renewables by something obscene like 2025. Incredible.

If there's a worry there, it's that it'll make Germany (once again) a very difficult place to fuck with militarily. It's easy to bomb a couple of nuclear power plants and make a country go dark, but much more difficult to bomb hundreds of thousands of solar roofs and wind turbines :-)

ESO's nine-gigapixel galactic image has 84 MILLION stars

Ben 50

It's not just a big distance to cross... there's a lot of history

When you consider how long life on earth has been around compared to galactic/universe time scales (difficult to find enough noughts), what are the odds that two occurances of "life" (however you wish to define it) would overlap in time, let alone space?

Pirate Bay moves to the cloud to confound copyright cops

Ben 50

irrelevant tech fixes

This is where the power of a name/brand becomes apparent.

The u.s. controls the dns system. Eventually they will block the pirate bay dns entry, and the majority of people won't be able to find it - despite spiffy server setup.

I do not, incidentally, look forward to this day. We are already teetering on the slippery slope.

Greens wage war on clean low-carbon renewable energy

Ben 50

Great parallel

@Kubla Cant

Macaulay also painted a ridiculous picture of another group of people's motivations to further his own prejudices.

Greens are the new Puritans. Orlowski is the new Macaulay.

Twitter titsup: Our failover was actually just FAIL ALL OVER

Ben 50


@IT Hack

I suspect he understood you deliberately misspelled it. It was sarcasm. Anybody with half a braincell ought to be able to discern this.

Twitter went down for a couple of hours. The world didn't end. Nobody died. Nobody really cares. This means that the business decision (if it was one) to set the slider somewhere towards the "chancy" end of "Utterly Impossible to Take Down" (law of diminishing returns anybody) and "It'll all be fine, don't worry about it" wasn't actually SO awful. They carry on making money, running a business, and can continue to grow.

While we're on sweeping generalisations, I'm guessing you've never had your own startup which you've steered to success - by finding compromises between what you should do, and what you can actually afford, have have resources for.

Capita and pals get £500m for ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE call centre

Ben 50

It's all about privatisation - and brown envelopes stuffed with cash.

Well, we all know how Crapita and friends promise the world to governments, and how well they then actually deliver on time, on budget, and within their SLAs. Don't believe for a moment that *anybody* in government thinks this is going to work.

It only makes sense if you aim to provide an increasingly miserable, flawed, and inefficient service under the banner of the "NHS" such that full privatisation is seen as the "only way out" - conveniently providing time for the multi-nationals to get used to running the system at the same time so they know best how to carve it up and cherry pick. That'll be Tory policy on the NHS then.

But don't worry, we'll end up with a super efficient U.S. style heathcare system - with 15.3% of GDP being spent on healthcare while the uninsured die in anonymity and ignominy, as opposed to the terribly inefficient communist NHS which means the UK spends only 8.2% of its GDP on healthcare with dramatically better average outcomes for those who aren't fortunate enough to be wealthy or in well paid jobs. (http://www.who.int/whosis/whostat/2009/en/index.html)

Microsoft: Azure now holds FOUR TREELLION objects

Ben 50

But do you trust these numbers?

...just saying.

Cockfighting Reg hack cursed with cancer

Ben 50

Re: Oh, the sophistication of your whit! You have truly attained new heights of humour!


1) The "local culture"? Really? Know much about the origins of fox hunting do we?

2) mmm.... long slow painful deaths to be treated with contempt. I think you've just about summed up why fox hunters are treated with contempt for their treatment of foxes. But I guess, other animals don't count for much in your world.

3) Really. That's so stupid. Didn't you get the bit about Christian bigotry, arrogance and ignorance? I'm not in whichever prettily painted little pigeon whole you've put me in. I can guarantee it.

4) Shaky? Why? Care to address any of the arguments I made? Care to say why?

Ben 50

Re: Oh, the sophistication of your whit! You have truly attained new heights of humour!

That come as a personal recommendation does it?

If that's your most original comeback, I don't think it's done you much good though has it.

Got anything grown up to say?

Ben 50

Oh, the sophistication of your whit! You have truly attained new heights of humour!

... for a five year old.

People, what's wrong with you? This stuff *was* funny in the playground, but then, as time goes by, you ought to have:

*) started developing a sense of empathy for the suffering of other children (around the age of 7, generally)

*) as educated adults exposed to Science rather than unfettered religious human centric superiority, bigotry and ignorance, cottoned onto how closely related all animals are to one another - both biologically, and psychologically. This is where your empathy ought to be kicking in a bit to cover other living creatures - our only companions on this little pebble spinning through space.

People that are indifferent to other people's suffering are psychopaths. If you are indifferent to the suffering of living creatures then I'd say you're suffering the same malady - which seems to be common among a lot of reg readers.

"Oh, it's just a joke". Really? What you find funny says a lot about your values. Propagating the idea that the world is ours to do with as we please because it's our god given right - and that sadism is fine as long as it's not people that are being bated and made to fight to the death - is about as funny as the cancer our anonymous contributor wished on Lewis Page.

Being a skinny is much more unhealthy than being fat – new study

Ben 50


Lewis Page is being contrary! His article flys in the face of established research, using research which doesn't agree with him when read properly! Reaches new heights of Trolling, or new depths of something else!

Chinese boffins build nuclear-powered deep-sea station

Ben 50

and this is for...

... sustainably improving humankind's individual and social quality of life? ...or covering the material costs of an consumerist/expansionist ideology at the expense of the only world we've got?

China trains its cannons on digital pirates

Ben 50

The Capitalist Party

The important thing to notice is that China is a one party state. This party is no longer Communist, it is Capitalist, in the rawest sense. Just as during (the more catastrophic) collapse of the U.S.S.R. those in key positions within the party have made a killing, and now they intend not only to hang onto it, but to multiply it.

It should not be in the least surprising when China starts passing the harshest "IP" laws in the world, as monopolising the rights upon ideas is not just a part of censorship, it's part of the system of self-enrichment and social domination a single party state relies upon. It is a continuum.

No doubt this is why elReg is so keen on harsh IP laws, being a well behaved Tory leaning rag.

'That new Google button was our idea', claims lawsuit

Ben 50

Apple are getting away with enforcing far more trivial ideas...

...because they have the patents.

Part of the problem with ideas like these though, are that they are elegant and only "obvious" after you've seen them - that's the hallmark of a good idea (it's not just a hyperlink).

I'm surprised these guys went to talk with anybody, anywhere in the U.S. without some intimidating legal backup. I'm even more surprised they had backers - unless their business plan was precisely to honey trap Google.

'Scientists' seek to set world social, economic, tech policy at Rio+20

Ben 50

But of course Lewis, you know best.


Clouds gathering on horizon for software devs, say wise men

Ben 50

Abstraction and Encapsulation

Abstraction and Encapsulation are what we do, right? All the time? Repeatedly, recursively.

What is SaaS offering:

* "Big" components that have teams supporting them

* Processing power

* "Scaleability"

* Lots of network latency :) (aka. universal accessibility from any device)

In how many scenarios do you actually need those first three things? Not very often. Only the fourth seems universally relevant, but I could just as easily imagine your own personal infrastructure providing universal access in a self-organised P2P style.

The only way I can see it becoming mainstream for development is if the components/functionality being offered as *radically* better than you can get in an off the shelf library, and it's *cheaper* - which in the case of FOSS is going to be difficult.

I mean, I get the "dream", but I'm still missing why anybody thinks it (whatever it wants to market itself as today) is going to extend beyond being a Channel to serve consumer/business apps (which will still be developed the "traditional" way).

Tim Cook reveals 'great' update for Mac Pro

Ben 50

The decline and fall of an apple....

... is it already happening? non-announcements, competitors biting at their heels, little in the way of vision of excitement - more of the same, and in this case, less.

All of Europe's data in US servers? We're OK with that - EC bod

Ben 50

The difference between the Commission and the Parliament

The Parliament (with our elected representatives) has reviewed the EU's relationship with the US on data protection three times and found it woefully lacking.

The Commission, on the otherhand, is rather like the civil service. It acts in its own interests - which means the interests of whoever will offer the individuals involved the cushiest directorship or stuffed brown envelope.

This is why we have representation in government (not that they actually fulfil their purpose, sadly).

HTC handsets hit by grip of death

Ben 50

How many millions (?) of units have they already shipped?

Statistically significant?

Very happy with my One X. Thanks.

For FORK'S sake: GitHub checks out Windows client

Ben 50

Similar experiences here...

@David Given

To be fair, I only used GIT when it was "shiny and new" - but real world usage was so different to all the "it's so easy, stupid" use cases that were out there at the time. At the point where I'd lost several days due to problems with rebase, and had to start digging into the GIT source code, I had one of those blinding flashes of the obvious - "it's not worth it" - and walked away.

Perhaps things have changed, but on the otherhand, it was built for distributed open source projects. For small team driven closed source projects (which accounts for quite a lot of software development I think)... it struck me as a sub-optimal design.

Western consumption helping to kill off species

Ben 50

Re: Extinction happens all the time

@Mitoo Bobsworth

Sure, it's all random and meaningless... but isn't it *interesting*? Isn't it *exciting* to see what has emerged from sheer chance? Wouldn't it be the opposite of utterly selfish and murderous to give other lines of evolution (which ultimately all represent a family to which we belong) a chance to continue surviving and changing?

It seems the two things which made us what we are, were a single point evolution in the density of muscle networks around the lips (leading to speech) and a wierd inheritable disease which slows down new neural connectivity (giving us time to learn)... these are things which can happen to pretty much any other line as well given time (or genetic engineering).

Ben 50
Thumb Down

Re: Things that make you go "hmmmm" ...


It's astonishing, to me anyway, how many people cling to a random and arbitrary paranoid suspicion and then discard offers of evidence which might allow them to further explore the accuracy of their own opinions.

Ben 50

Re: Say it aint't so


Well, people like Cartman who're living in an ideological bubble (and therefore assume that their "enemies" aka. "other people not in their bubble" are also in similar spheres) seem to be missing the obvious in quite convincing fashion.

Unfortunately, for Cartman, logical deduction and evidence are not as important being, and staying, angry at the world.

Apple seeks resurrection of HTC importation ban

Ben 50

Re: Stuff Apple!

@Graham Wilson

I think you meant five processor.

China wants to be techno SUPERPOWER

Ben 50

It all depends how you define Race

Have you not noticed that every other surname of an "American" scientist making a breakthrough is Chinese? :-) Surveys of IQ (which, yes, are still subjective) rank your average Asian above your average European for that matter. So, at the genetic level, there's no difference, or perhaps Chinese people are on average just a bit cleverer. Is that racism?

Culturally, for millenia the backbone of the Chinese empire was a meritocratic civil bureaucratic administration. That culture produced more innovation, for a longer period of time, than any other empire in the history of man. Don't see any inferiority there.

On the other hand, since the "cultural revolution" massacred the nation's intellectuals and creatives in state organised and executed pogrom, you'd expect the shock waves to still be echoing forward through time. Stick your neck out? Not bloody likely.

That's how it was with the six Chinese PhD. students in my lab. Very, Very bloody clever. Capable. Imaginative. Creative as well. Curious. But very very cautious with letting on what they were really thinking about. Discussion of domestic Chinese politics? FORGET IT.

That's all changing now, and very rapidly. The Communist party is now, essentially, just red paint over the newly emerging capitalist classes. It is really the first truly modern capitalist nation to emerge, without any of the restraining influence of "democracy" as we know it. *THAT*'s what scares the crap out of me!

BBC report urges Halo troops to end bloodshed in Syria

Ben 50

Perhaps this was an underling making a sneaky point...

...about how impartial and well informed the BBC's broadcast view on Syria really is.

Greedy LOHAN draining away mankind's vital fluid ... allegedly

Ben 50

Use of the word "Production"...

...is misleading. It's about as misleading as saying oil is "Produced". The U.S. government is not "producing" Helium. Nobody is, except the stars.

It is being released and captured. Nothing else. Oil or Helium reserves may be produced, but that's another story.

Cheap MacBook Airs for all!

Ben 50

Put a sticker on it

A friend's wife was complaining that she wanted an Apple MacBook for her birthday (a couple of years ago), so he did just this. He bought an HP, stuck a *really crappy* apple sticker over the HP logo, and she was, and still is, very happy with it.

How politicians could end droughts forever But they don't want to

Ben 50

Great Scott...


Redmond man unmasked: UK.gov open standards stalled

Ben 50

FSF call to respond

Free Software Foundation Europe has prepared recommended answers to some of the questions in the consultation (http://fsfe.org/projects/os/uk-standards-consultation.en.html).

The consultation itself is here... http://consultation.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/openstandards/

Wouldn't it be a tragic for people who want to be productive and share to be denied this by a***holes who are basically buying monopolist rights to lock down marketplaces? That's what'll happen with FRAND... as Fair and Reasonable is open to a *lot* of interpretation.

Ubuntu 12.04 LTS: Like it or not, this Linux grows on you

Ben 50

I think the HUD would be nice, if you could talk to it...

If you could just say "Search. Unsharpen. 3" e.g. to search for unsharpen and then pick the third result... or "Search. Unsharpen. 3. Apply 25%". That would be fun, perhaps even useful. Of course, it'd be even quicker with a combination of voice search, and eye tracking to select the appropriate result.

Gaia scientist Lovelock: 'I was wrong and alarmist on climate'

Ben 50

Re: Weak.

@Some Beggar

Not sure that's very fair. The Gaia idea is interesting (and was part of a general movement at the time of uncovering larger systems which we previously had more or less (intellectually) seen as something between "a given" and "background noise).

It is also a hypothesis, and not unreasonable. What's so crazy about the idea of multi-cellular life forms being part of a higher level multi-cellular life form? When one looks at the biology of us multi-cellular organisms (billions of tiny single-celled (and nested) lifeforms operating in the wierdest ways, well, I'm just blown sideways by the sheer complexity of the thing and how it can possibly exist at all!

The reason it isn't so easy to falsify is because there is no really accepted and working definition of life - there are just too many exceptions to every rule.

If, however, you were to take the definition of the living as something like "that which preserves its own identity" (Maturana and Varela I think) then I'd say that maybe the unexpected levels of self-regulation we *might* be seeing *might* be a symptom of "Gaia".

The joy of science is keeping and open mind, and then trying to pin down what's really going as best we can... and this is a fascinating topic with a lot of work left in it, I'd say.

'Asteroid mining company' makes classic hypegasm debut today

Ben 50
Thumb Up

Re: Lots of money to be made?

:-) That's a great tune! Well... I guess it's like the Gold Rush... once the hype's in place and everybody wants to get up there, it's the people selling the provisions and infrastructure that'll make the real money. That's what their play is aimed at achieving, right?

Techie stages 'strip down' protest at TSA 'harassment'

Ben 50

Well played

You're a potential threat, and so should be forced to wait in line to be scanned, poked (sometimes), oggled and prodded by nasty bored small minded oafs, just like the obedient piece of meat you are.

"I'm not a threat, look I'm Naked."

You're a potential lunatic, psychogically unhinged, frightening the children by not being a threat, and therefore must be arrested immediately.

Rock meet Hardplace.

Minister blows away plans for more turbines

Ben 50

Re: Laugh? I nearly cried.


Thanks for the headsup at any rate. I don't know enough about IFR to hold an opinion, so I've written to ask a few people who'll know better. It's been a long time since I trusted anything that comes out of Monbiot's mouth.

As for risk assessment, I'm specifically talking about the risk assessments used to derive "worst case" scenarios, which if exceeded, lead to meltdown.

As for the impacts of nuclear disasters, there's shockingly little information out there about the scale of long-term civilian deaths caused by particulate contamination. The biggest scandal of all is that there have been no (that I or anybody I have ever spoken to am aware of) systematic and major studies into the impacts of Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, Windscale (which was a dramatically larger event than made public at the time) and even now... Fukushima. Most of the hard data I've seen is coming from amateurs in Japan collecting and analysing the radioactive content of things like car air filters.

Ben 50

Re: Laugh? I nearly cried.

Why don't you try following the link I provided, then post your insightful critique.

As for the benefits of progressive technological society etc. being linked to cheap power... that's the most moronically simplistic statement I've read in a while.

Ben 50

Re: Translation...


Well that's a shock, they do! So... that's 1 MP out of 650. I can see why the Greens are causing the regime to tremble at the knees.

It's 4 out of 577 in France for that matter....

In the EU parliament it's 46 out of 754....

Still can't see where the Green's are getting their arm wringing power from.

Ben 50

Re: Laugh? I nearly cried.


Have you read anywhere in my comments that I'm anti-nuclear? or anti-science?

1) The reactors we have now are not safe - their risk assumptions are inadequate, so are their designs, so is their regulatory oversight, so is the responsibility of their operators.

2) The reactors we are about to build are only marginally better.

3) Providing more, and cheaper power for people to make more wasteful things, with any incentive to optimise on energy efficiency removed, is stupidly short-sighted.

The true costs of Nuclear, and doing it right, are astronomical. If that's the only option we have in the short - mid term, then we should bear those costs and do it correctly.

However, it isn't the only choice. Ze Germans will be at 35% energy from renewables by 2020 on current forecasts, while its labs and universities are cranking out fantastic improvements in fundamental and applied technologies at a cracking rate - because their government has the foresight to realise that this is another market in which their industry can become a world leader from day one!

More than that, the really HUGE scientific and industrial movement which is beginning to gather pace is the hydrogen economy. With those little solar panels on your roof, you can split rain-water into hydrogen and oxygen to fuel your house, your car, your computer, whatever you like. This is the real shift that so many people aren't seeing, and the reason why solar is so much more than just pushing subsidised energy back into the grid. (It's also very IT by the way, I was talking to a researcher last week working on nano-fuel cells for powering mobile devices... interesting stuff).

The British were the world leaders in the seventies. I doubt very much, if every last program hadn't been gutted both in the U.S. and the U.K. by the Regan/Thatcher axis, that we'd even need this discussion now.

Ben 50

Re: Translation...

What could possibly make you believe this?

The Greens have no power in the U.K.

Where are their representatives in Parliament? Totally locked out by First Past the Post.

Where is the strong arm of the 90's "grass roots" political movement? Infiltrated and broken up by undercover police spies who clearly don't mind a bonk on the job while they're at it.

Do the "greens" have any leverage in the U.K. at all? Economic? No. Through the upper social strata? No.

All power in the U.K. is held by those who already have power and the self-interest to use it for their own enrichment. The principles of the Labour movement are long dead. The LIberals are in their grave. The Tories are in the hands of the bankers.

You seriously, for one moment, think that the Greens have got the power to twist anything in the U.K. ? With what? Public opinion? What a joke.

Ben 50

Re: Laugh? I nearly cried.

Ever heard of the Black Swan?

I was raised down the road from Hinkley Point (nuclear power plant). There have been tsunamis in recorded history, in S.W. England, that were well beyond the design spec of Hinkley Point.

Think that's stupid? Watch this and see how well design assumptions for U.S. reactors hold up.


As for minimal contamination... you're misinformed, both about the nature of the contamination, its quantity, and its range.


Ben 50

Re: Laugh? I nearly cried.

You'd love to believe that cosy propaganda wouldn't you.

Care to read an alternative take on the wonders of the most modern passively cooled reactor design in the world (the Westinghouse AP1000)? http://fairewinds.com/content/fukushima-and-its-impact-upon-westinghouse-toshiba-designed-ap1000-atomic-power-plant

What about the alternatives? Those wonderful thorium reactors? They sounded like a good idea to me, until my brother and his wife (both research chemists engaged in research for the nuclear establishment, specifically in the fields of corrosion and containment) scared the living bejesus out of me about the toxicity of the waste byproducts.

Ben 50

Re: Laugh? I nearly cried.

If you take the axioms of the current paradigm as immutable - continual economic expansion based on the exploitation of limited natural resources... then your point of view makes sense.

On the otherhand, if you see humanity as having experienced a series of (often sudden) fundamental paradigm shifts, where all the old assumptions go out of the window - and accept that what we accept as given now is just part of the paradigm in which we were born... then you might have a slightly broader perspective on the options that are available to us as a species.

Your analogy just shows that you can't see an alternative way to progress, which is why you see more ecologically sensible alternatives as a form of regression.