* Posts by Sil_W

62 publicly visible posts • joined 30 Dec 2010


Apple cofounder Steve Jobs is dead at 56


Sycophantic Guff

Sir Cosmo Bonsor:

"In among all the sycophantic guff being poured out from all directions, I'm still trying to think of one positive innovation you could attribute to him."

That's as may be. But sometimes something happens that makes the stark point that there is more to life than whether a particular shiny toy is the world-changing best-ever shiny toy, or an annoyingly disappointing shiny toy.

What people are doing here is holding off on the usual superficial bitching for a moment or two, on account of the fact that a well-known man - quite a personality, by all accounts, whatever you thought of him - has died unreasonably young. This is what people do when they're not sociopathic. Don't get me wrong: I don't generally agree with the current fad for massive outpourings of flamboyant, public grief. Most of us never knew the man, so it's weird, frankly, to act as though we've lost a brother, as some are - but it's human to empathise when someone dies, and to express sympathy, even if the person who's died is someone you didn't like very much.

And to dave 93: I hope that your passing, when it comes - and may that be a very great many years hence - is quick, dignified and without any suffering at all. Even though it seems I disagree with at least one opinion you hold.


Very sad

I never really knew anything about Mr Jobs aside what the tech media told me, but it's always sad when someone succumbs to something like this.

My condolences to his family and friends and all at Apple.

Google hits 'prove we killed no Afghans' – Assange™


Wikileaks lost its way

Originally, as I understood it, the point of Wikileaks was to provide a channel for people to expose corruption and wrongdoing in their company or organisation, and it stands to reason that this could and should include governments.

The problem is that Wikileaks recently seems less about exposing such wrongdoing as it is about causing maximum embarrassment and inconvenience to the governments that JulAss* openly despises - particularly that of the USA. For example, while we may question the foreign policies of the United States, there seems little purpose in publishing a list of their strategic assets beyond an attempt to harm their interests. That's not what I understood Wikileaks to be about.

While Wikileaks was a channel and clearing house for anonymous information from true whistleblowers it served a valuable purpose, but I think its credibility can only be damaged while it's serving as a vehicle for JulAss' political grandstanding.

(* He could trademark that.)

Praying for meltdown: The media and the nukes


@ somethingmissing

Your comment about trusting the public to parse all this stuff properly does raise a good question about the democracy we all automatically laud as the be-all and end-all of moral government. What if the public, through ignorance or fear, set themselves on a self-destructive course? Does political morality, and the need to avoid undemocratic rule at all costs, require that the destruction be allowed to run its course?

Fukushima one week on: Situation 'stable', says IAEA


Points Missed

Steven Jones - I can't help thinking you've missed the point quite widely.

You title your post with the words "in context", yet you seem to ignore the true context here in order to promote - despite your claim to be pro-nuclear - a strong anti-nuclear angle.

The point being made here is that the nuclear problems are the least of Japan's problems right now. Yet, because it's a story with words like nuclear and radiation, the media are having a field day trying to scare everyone to death - knowing that the public is largely ignorant about nuclear power and, as mentioned elsewhere, tend to equate nuclear power with nuclear bombs.

You complain that it's wrong to imply there are no serious consequences. But I don't think anyone is doing. The point is that this is a catastrophe involving the death of thousands of people, the displacement of many more, but much of the world's press prefers to concentrate on stoking panic about radiation.

It's shameful, and Lewis - and the few others reporting factually - do a public service in calling them on it.

Network mapping: you know it makes sense


No, no, no...

I think you missed the true superficiality of my requirements. I don't want a practical list of sites I've visited, sorted by date. I want *pretty pictures*, dammit.



Almost entirely unrelated to the topic of the article, I know, but I remember once - back in the mists of the early Internet - having a little Windows program that used to map out my wanderings round the web and present me with a sort of atlas of the bit of the Internet I used.

It was all stored in a local file, and it probably served no practical function except to give me pretty diagrams to look at... Wish I could remember what it was called. Anybody know if there's any similar toys out there today? If I type in 'Internet mapping' I just end up with (horrors) serious, network-management stuff I don't understand. :o)

Dim Brits think TARDIS IS REAL


Corners of the World

Yep. It's a very old, generally very well-known, figure of speech.


By Reg comment standards...

...that was probably the slowest crowbarring-of-religion-into-unrelated-article's-comments I've seen yet.

Well done on a palpable blow for reason.



I'm fairly sure there's no inherent need for a sound to have been produced by an animal for it to be described as singing. Dictionary.com has quite a few definitions that wouldn't meet that criterion.

But to be fair, that does make your point. Stars 'sing' in pretty much the same way that a river runs. It makes the question a bit meaningless.


Transporter Rooms

"if the teleporter in Star Trek can teleport from surface to teleporter, or from a point of the ship to somewhere else on the ship, why have a teleporter room?"

I don't think it's ever really addressed. I suppose it's just to keep the ship organised. The transporter is quite a hefty piece of kit, as it has to include the buffer tanks, the Heisenberg Compensators, and so on (my gods, why do I know about this rubbish?) so it'd make sense to have a dedicated area to keep it all in. I suppose regulating transports by having them all start and end (assuming an away mission will be a guaranteed 'round trip' for anyone not in a red shirt) in a single location allows the transporter crew to keep tabs on what's going on.

I remember being vaguely bothered by the question of whether Captain Kirk (or whoever) is technically killed when going through a transporter. If we send him through, and his body is completely destroyed, and just reassembled at the other end according to a data pattern, doesn't that mean we've actually killed him and merely replaced him with an exact duplicate? The 'new' Kirk might have all the 'old' Kirk's characteristics and memories and training and so on - but is it actually, truly him? And what does the subject of a transporter experience when they go through? If the copy takes place before the delete, as it were, how would we know that the departing 'real' person doesn't actually die (possibly in disruptor-esque agony) if the newly written person isn't instilled with those last, terminal memories? I can't see that there'd be any way *to* know.

Yes, it's sub-academic geekorama nonsense *now*, but if such technology ever does drift into the realms of plausibility, I'd want to know someone had thought carefully about this.

Right. Put the plastic pointy ears down and step away...

Anti-religious campaigners smack down census Jedis

IT Angle

Single Standards Only, Please

I'm not going to bother reading through over 200 comments on yet another religion item on this here IT site - I'll take all the fairytale, Santa Claus/Easter Bunny, pink unicorn, spaghetti monster sniping as read.

I'll just point out that according to neo-atheist doctrine, it's *religious* people who're supposed to interfere in other people's private lives. That's why we're evil. Might be a good idea, as suggested, if the Humanist Association credit their fellow atheists with enough sense to fill in a form without being nursed through the process.

Besides, there's a nice clear "no religion" box. If people judge it more important to joke than represent themselves honestly there's not much to be done.

Anon Mail commenters to stay anon


Trolling the Mail fora

Point of order: some loanwords from Latin still carry their Latin pluralisations in common usage in modern English (nebula/nebulae, formula/formulae, etc). 'Forum' isn't generally one of them. 'Fora' isn't *wrong*, because it's consistent with the rules of Latin, but it's uncommon and risks looking contrived. The rules of Latin don't always apply in English (hence, for example, the freedom to split infinitives in English if you so choose).

The more common, perfectly acceptable, usage in modern English would be 'forums'.



"the publication has an obligation to either take those comments down, or leave them visible."

So the publication has no obligation at all, then? If they're free to choose either of two options then they're not obliged to do one or the other.



My feeling is that where the 'Anonymous Coward' (or equivalent) option is used, it's used on the understanding that it generally undermines the strength of the argument being made.

Bearing in mind that, on Internet forums at least, we're all anonymous to some extent unless we're publishing our full real names, addresses, phone numbers and so on, it's not unreasonable to argue that if you're not willing even to put a searchable pseudonym against your opinions, then you're probably not all that proud of them yourself. And the judge's ruling seems a two-edged sword for the anons: on the one hand, their right to privacy is protected; but the price is the discrediting of their opinions. After all, if they're too inconsequential to warrant a libel suit in *Britain* - the country of choice for the world's libel tourists - then there's not much to be said for them.

There are occasions when anonymity is more valuable - but then there are times when the consequences of being found out will amount to more than a spot of mockery and invective on a website.

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Daily Mail

"they should all be banned for life from the internet, mobile phones and be made to carry ID cards"

That wouldn't have looked out of place on a Daily Mail comments page. Or, gods help you, the BBC website. Well done. Possibly.

Egyptian bloke dubs sprog 'Facebook'



Matter of fact, and aware that I can't prove this, I did spend a good few minutes wondering about whether to cover this point. Given that Egyptians primarily speak Arabic, I did consider that the colloquialisms might not work the same in Arabic, or even Egyptian English (that's English, incidentally, as it's "widely understood by educated classes" in Egypt - at least according to the CIA).

In the end I decided I probably didn't. That bit was a throwaway joke secondary to my main point, and besides, I reasoned, Reg readers are clever techie types. They'll work it out for themselves.


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@ Sarah

"Blithering idioms"

Now *that* was worthwhile. :o)


Blithering idiot

As pointed out, this child is going to have to live with this abject humiliation until she's old enough to change it (and there I only assume Egyptian law allows deed-poll-type changes). Not only that, but as far as I can tell he's completely missing the important element of the revolution.

I admit quite freely I wasn't there; I don't know anyone who was there. My knowledge of the situation is limited to what the western press chose to tell me about it. And maybe the point is that Facebook (the social network) enabled people to get around press restrictions and media biases and so on. But as far as I can tell, the fact that the Egyptian revolution happened at all, and that it was relatively bloodless as these things go, is tribute to the courage of the people and the common sense (so far) of the military in refusing to do what Libya's are allegedly doing.

To imply that the whole thing was enabled by bloody Facebook is to detract from the achievement of the Egyptian people. If the Egyptians themselves disagree with that then I can't really argue with them, but I will still believe they're selling themselves short.

Plus, if Facebook (the site) continues as it is, Facebook (the person) is presumably going to have to grow up dealing with "I'm on Facebook"; "all my friends are on Facebook"; and so on...

People just don't think sometimes.

Countries where Facebook is not, yet, king


@ zen1

Ability to use and/or understand Facebook as a determining factor in eugenics? That's some impressive disproportionality, there.

Anonymous pwns security firm that probed its membership


@ Matt Bryant

I've cut this down as far as I can (sorry, mod). Your points deserved replies, but I don't want to clog up the forums.

[Abolishing the party system] "Nice idea, but people tend to group together[...]"

I'd expect people would have to agree in order to make a representative system work at all. The point is that they express their constituents' views, not those of a party.

[Pay by constituency] "Actually, they're paid out of central funds, otherwise you'd have the problem of wealthy areas just paying extra to get the better representatives, and poor areas struggling to get someone capable. And seeing as the wealthier areas usually vote Tory, pretty soon you'd have Tory domination"

*Only if there was a Tory party*. But no: one constituency - one MP - one centrally set salary. No option for more MPs, or higher salary. If anything, such a system will likely discourage the wealthier candidates. And capability is nothing to do with wealth.

[Freeing the press] "Actually it is free - anyone can start a newspaper. The problem is it costs a lot to run a national newspaper, let alone one that wants to cover international news, and as they are facing a shrinking market due to the encroachment of the Internet and cable/satellite news channels, they seem to have jettisoned any idea of being newsworthy for simply spewing out whatever they think will get readers."

Precisely. So the news we hear is what makes the most money. So is skewed, unreliable, profit-driven news better than little or no news? Especially considering the last point:

[Press obligation to report truthfully] "Hmmm, how are they being untruthful? If they are lying then there are legal and professional ways to seek redress."

Redress is generally limited to fines and payouts. A huge, profitable 'news' corporation needn't fear some aggrieved little upstart being indulged by some court somewhere. Pay the peanuts and move on.

I recommend sites such as fullfact.org, mailwatch.co.uk, or flatearthnews.net (the latter is in effect a big plug for a book, but the site and the book do contain some thought-provoking material).

I'm not suggesting that journalists set out to lie. They may, or they may be mistaken, unconsciously biased or just plain ignorant (as a pagan, some of the claims I've seen in the DM about us are just downright baffling). But whichever's the case, news quality suffers.

[How to ensure balance in news] "Then there's the problem of how do you make sure they are bias free, do you outlaw opinion pieces or expert analysis (or just the analysts that your bias means you disagree with)?"

Opinion pieces are fine as long as they're balanced, clearly labelled as such and are kept out of 'news' reports.

Newspapers shouldn't have a 'position'. If you want your paper to have a political position then you make sure you label it as what it is: a political paper. Don't pretend - or allow readers to believe - that it's unbiased.

Too many people still honestly believe that "they wouldn't be allowed to say it if it wasn't true". You could argue that such people already believe and accept that there are certain controls on the press.

As for experts, you suggest that control might enable papers to give room only the experts they agree with. I'd argue that that's what happens now, and it's one of the things I'd like to see addressed.

"And how do you know if they're telling the whole truth - if it's already known then it's not news!"

Can't be helped. News reporting depends on there being something to report. Like witch-hunting depends on there being witches to hunt. When the witches run out, an honest witch-hunter (bear with me here) will accept it, hang up his pitchfork and put his ducking stool into mothballs. A dishonest one will try to manufacture more witches so he can keep charging to get rid of them. (Bad analogy from someone with a number of witches as friends, but you take my point, I'm sure.)

Journalism, on the other hand, only really means recording what's happened, and doesn't actually carry any connotation of 'exclusives' or 'breaking news'.

[Controlling the press] "Attempting to control the press in any way other than obliging them to follow the libel laws and criminal laws (such as in the case of phone voicemail "hacking") seems an impractical and possibly dangerous idea to me."

Dangerous it certainly is. But that's my point exactly: the press is *already* controlled to the point of being unhealthy and even - in some cases - touching on useless. It makes no difference that it's controlled by corporate interests rather than political ones. And in any case, just shouting and complaining and whipping up fear and hysteria (seriously: look at those websites), a news outlet isn't fulfilling the idealised purpose of the free press in protecting freedoms. In fact, it's socially damaging.


Re: @ Sarah Bee - Democracy

That's fair enough. Nor am I suggesting that everything's terrible. But I'd suggest - briefly - that seeing the flaws in the 'western' idea of democracy isn't a matter of having too little perspective, nor being absolutist. It's just seeing things and describing them as they are. Maybe that's conceited (assuming I have an objective view of things), but there it is.

I don't accept some of the more... passionate... comments here; but nor do I accept that it's as easy as "if you don't like it, change it, you're living in a democracy", which is what started all this off.

Okay, shutting up now. :o)

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Re: @ Fredric

"You do understand that saying something grossly offensive with the words "no offence, but" doesn't meant it's not offensive, don't you?"

No, no, it does. It's like making derogatory comments against an ethnic group. It's not racism as long as you open with "I'm not racist, but...".

Also, did you know the calories in a pizza don't count if you have a Diet drink with it? Same principle.

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Said Knochen Brittle:

"NERRRR, wrong answer ~ Democracy means that government bureaucrats live in fear of the People"

No it doesn't. It means that the people are in charge. 'Demos' 'kratos'. 'People' 'power'. The term 'democracy' doesn't convey any meaning relating to bureaucracy or fear. What we've added onto its meaning afterwards is entirely subjective, so doesn't lend itself to 'NERRRR' very convincingly.

Still, *any* society in which there is fear between the governors and the governed is an unhealthy society, no matter who fears whom.


@ Sarah Bee - Democracy

Hi, Sarah. Sorry that this is such a long post. For what my opinion might mean to you, normally I reckon you get it pretty much right with your no-nonsense smackdowns, but I think you missed here. Sure, if you're saying that we have it a lot better than some countries - even most countries - then I agree completely. It's one of the reasons I get irritated at the constant police-bashing that goes on on The Reg - like we really are living in some totalitarian dictatorship where no-one has any rights at all. That's very obviously complete crap: we have a lot of valuable freedoms, as evidenced by the ease with which people can make such comments in the first place.

Yes, there are places where people are a lot worse off than we are. But that doesn't imply that everything's rosy here. You say to put the news on and get some perspective, but as others have commented, that's partially the problem: the news doesn't give us perspective. I know it's trendy to slate the BBC as having a 'leftist agenda' (whatever the hell that might mean objectively speaking), but of the various news agencies that have an input into our lives, the BBC is the only one that isn't subject to market forces and run as a profit-making exercise by a business executive. Which isn't to say the BBC is unbiased, but that the vast majority of information sources certainly do work to a specific agenda.

'Citizen journalism' is fine, except that it stems from citizens, who not only have beliefs, attitudes and prejudices, but also don't have a PCC - even an apparently fairly toothless one - to regulate their reporting.

As for democracy, it probably seems pedantic to point out that it doesn't exist, and hasn't done since ancient Athens. Unless you count pirate ships, and I'm not actually all that sure about that. Legend Has It, and so on. But we don't have democracy in Britain, however much we might claim we do; nor does it exist in the USA, or Australia, or (as far as I'm aware) anywhere else in the modern world. What we generally have is government by a relatively privileged elite somewhat removed from the 'common people' - it's far easier to get into serious, world-changing politics if you're well-educated and of independent means. We have a party system that seriously restricts the influence of the people over the government, because MPs are expected to act in their party's interests even where those don't coincide with the will of their constituents (I'm not claiming that MPs never act against their parties, but they're under pressure to conform). We have little direct control over central government if, as has been shown, it's able to take the country into war against the will of the people. The best term I've heard for the system of government we have in the UK is 'elective oligarchy'. We choose which of the elite we want to rule us this term.

I think a few steps would reduce some of these problems. First, abolish the party system and install independent MPs across the board: their constituency pays for them and they are accountable only to their local people. That would move us a little way towards democracy. Second, free the press. A free press is an essential element of a free state - but at the moment, they aren't free: they're subject to the whims and agendas of their business directors, and that should stop. The press should be obliged to report honestly, truthfully and without bias - and if a press outlet doesn't have the will or the resources to fact-check and balance its reporting then it must have no future. Third, rein in the advertising industry. Again, require truthfulness and honesty, and prohibit advertising by deception and trickery.

No, of course these things are never going to happen - there's still too much pork in the various barrels. But it's the fact that they won't happen that leads me to disagree with you, and to agree more with those who question the power of the people in our not-quite-democracy.


Guy Fawkes

Better yet, can we have an icon that *isn't* based on a hopeless patsy who got caught and executed by The Man of the day, and furthermore is ritually re-burned every year by the common people?

Come on. I can't be the *only* one who thinks Guy Fawkes is the most nonsensical choice for wannabe anarchists, can I?

NASA hails 'amazing' exoplanetary system



Careful, there, Winkypop. Chucking out snarky remarks about religion when no-one's given it any serious mention so far could easily come over as obsession. Possibly even insecurity. You don't want to go too far down that Dawkins road. Remember, anti-religionists only ever attack the religious *in self-defence*, right?

Home Office crime maps go to street-level detail


A lot of people who read The Register...

... just like to put the boot into the police for being sinister, Orwellian agents of the State who get everywhere and know everything about every one of us, monitoring each individual's life in minuscule detail and occasionally subjecting us to terrifying brutality and stealing our cameras (which of course is a national police conspiracy and not just misunderstanding by individual officers of inconsistent guidance on terrorism); and for *simultaneously* being fat, lazy, stupid and never leaving the station unless crowbarred out.

Meh. I don't think it really matters what you hate them for, as long as you hate them.



"Meercats are for TV adverts"

And what about meerkats?

(Grammar/Spelling Nazi, for obvious reasons.)


House Prices

"(House prices have plummeted of course. Sales of car alarms way up, though.)"

And of course, the plummet in house prices can only be attributed to this one single incident (and the way you describe it I very much doubt it'd have been logged as a crime in any case).

Needless to say, the universal drop in house prices caused by the economic slump couldn't have had *anything* to do with it...



Aside all the rabid police hate, there's not really much scope for the Government to win here. Keep crime figures quiet and they're accused of not being transparent. Release the crime figures in the conventional way and they're accused of fiddling the numbers. Create a direct access for people to find the figures and they're accused of wasting money and fiddling the numbers. And incompetence in IT, obviously.

Personally, I'm in the 'waste of money' camp here, but only because I think the whole enterprise is pointless. I agree with the principle probably not written by Robert Peel that the measure of effective policing should be the absence of crime and disorder; and as far as that goes all we need is numbers. But if we're going to assume the numbers are all a con anyway - as they may well be - then there's not really any point at all.

I suggest we all just adopt the proper stance of abject fear and paranoid mistrust of everyone. It's easy, cheap and fashionable.



Scotland's a different country with a separate legal system. They wouldn't normally be included in crime figures for England and Wales.

Wales, on the other hand, has historically (and I'm not going into the politics of this) been handled as part of England and shares a single criminal law system. For now, anyway.

WikiLeaks lawyer dubs US subpoena on Twitter 'harassment'



Not sure about that. Immunity from "political and criminal interference" is one thing; but the other edge to that sword would be that users employing social networking to harass, stalk, bully, threaten or otherwise abuse each other would also escape accountability for their actions.

(Yes, I know: if you're being bullied or otherwise got at on a site like Facebook then you just quit the site - but the simple fact is that this is not how a lot of users see it.)



It's certainly possible that this whole thing is just a smokescreen to conceal the truth - and if you're a conspiracy theorist determined that Echelon knows everything about everyone then you'd need to find a consistent rationale for an action of this kind.

The possibility that Echelon/Big Brother isn't as far-reaching or inclusive as the stories suggest probably isn't worth considering.

Microsoft 'maintenance' blocks Hotmail


Who, me?

"Did you actuallty read what I posted? Or is it just the classic sysadmin knee jerk job saving reaction?"

You may have been talking to one of the others, who seem to be more techie than I am; but in the event you posted this in response to me (it's difficult to tell with the Reg's forum layout, unless you actually address someone or quote some text), yes, I did read what you posted.

If you were speaking to me, it seems unlikely that you really read mine, though: I think my first post above about the cloud was pretty clear I was talking about managing files from a user's point of view; so your remark about 'classic sysadmin knee jerk job saving' is irrelevant to me. Your comments may otherwise have been informed and well-founded, but you (assuming you're the AC who objected to my mention of trusting files to a memory stick) seem to have focused on something I wasn't really talking about. What I *was* talking about was the supposed advantage of storing files in the cloud: namely that you can access them from anywhere.

My point then was that, if I wanted to access important files from somewhere else. I'd sooner carry them around and entrust them to *my* safekeeping than fling them out into the Internet somewhere and hope that some total stranger can keep them safe and secure. My safekeeping doesn't mean they're 100% safe, of course; but at least I know exactly what I've done to protect them, and bear sole responsibility if I fail.

Needless to say, if you weren't talking to me, then feel free to ignore the above.


USB Sticks - Yes, Really

"You'd rather entrust your entire storage..."

Where'd you get that from? I'm talking about the one advantage I see in cloud storage - namely, you can access the files from anywhere (yippee) - and I'm pointing out that there are other ways to organise that without having to trust your data (note: does not indicate 'your entire storage') to someone else.

"... to something you can fit in your pocket, and accidentally run through the washing machine? Or accidentally drop as you pull out your wallet to pay for that tall-skinny-soyaccino, or drop, or break, or step on?"

As opposed to pass potentially sensitive information to someone I don't know from Adam/Eve? Hell, yes. Look:

"... accidentally run through the washing machine ..."

Either the data's destroyed - in which case security is no longer a problem and I restore from a backup, or it's not, in which case it's a non-issue.

"... accidentally drop as you pull out your wallet to pay for that tall-skinny-soyaccino ..."

I don't drink that sort of thing, but in principle yes: any data I'm carrying about is encrypted sufficiently that it should be tricky to unlock by a casual finder. The risk of it being found by someone who both is remotely interested in it *and* has the skills and time to decrypt it is likely no greater than the risk of someone intercepting it on its way to cloud or, for that matter, as you've pointed out, nicking the server.

"... or drop, or break, or step on ..."

See above re the washing machine.

"If you're storing it and backing it up you're responsible for making sure that always happens. For most people, this means it doesn't"

For me, it either happens, or I bear the responsibility for it not doing - which is rather different from finding it's been exposed or lost by someone else.

Black Helicopters

GMail Ads

kissingthecarpet claims not to have known GMail contains ads due to ad-blocking - although I suspect that's poetic licence, since anything to do with Google has ads, and lots of them, because Google is first and foremost an advertising company.

Still, my attitude is that GMail is just as secure as any other email service, which is to say not secure at all. The simplest answer to email security is never to send anything sensitive via email: treat email as a handy way to publish information to the public domain. The next-best answer is to use as many layers of encryption as you can; but if, like me, you couldn't tell an encryption hash from an aubergine, it's worth being wary of the false sense of security that encryption brings.



The whole thing just seems bizarre to me. When, a couple of years back, there was all the talk of how everything would be done via The Cloud - you'd even run your applications remotely from a desktop computer rendered nothing more than a network terminal, and save all your work somewhere 'out there' - I genuinely couldn't understand why anyone anywhere would think this was a good thing.

The only advantage I can see is the ability to access your files from anywhere - but considering the complete surrender of control that it represents I can't see how it weighs favourably against simply using a memory stick to carry the files with you.

I'm even being asked if I want to save my Civilization V games in The Cloud. Well, no. No, I don't. Why would I? I want them here where I can get to them regardless of the state of the Internet. And that's just a game. The notion of storing anything of any actual importance in some nebulous (hohosorry) online realm does great boggling to the mind.


Paying for Hotmail?

with the best will in the world, and as someone who *doesn't* actually believe that Microsoft employ cackling idiot-villains in an attempt to submerge the world in a quagmire of deliberately faulty software(*), I still can't see the point of paying twenty dollars for a Hotmail address. Hotmail, like Yahoo! Mail, like GMail, like Hushmail, and the like, seems more suited for casual, easily-disposable email addresses.

I may be wrong, but I don't know of any ISP that doesn't provide at least a handful of email addresses to its subscribers, so I'd imagine they're the best option for serious personal email where a higher standard of reliability is called for - and you're already paying for them. And anyone running a business, and who wants that business to be taken seriously, I'd expect to have registered their own domain and have an email service running out of that. (The number of times I see local companies - even quite large ones - using free email providers and giving only mobile phone numbers is amazing. I always wonder what impression they *think* they're giving.)


(* I'm also not convinced that Linux is the flawlessly flawless holy OS of the gods, but it may be just me.)

10-year-old girl becomes youngest ever supernova discoverer


Usage, though, innit?

Strictly speaking, I suppose 'supernova' isn't that grammatical a term anyway. 'Nova' - the term for a star undergoing a bright but non-terminal cast-off of material - simply means 'new'. As in "the new star up there that we didn't notice before". And I'd submit that just referring to it as 'a new' doesn't really make a deal of sense, since we normally treat 'new' as an adjective, not a vowel. To worry about how to pluralise it, then... Well, I know we do this when we talk about 'the news' - but the usage there is so well-established that it'd seem a bit weird to start questioning it. (Although questioning the *benefit* of 'the news' is something I do quite a lot.)

But 'super-' indicates 'above' or 'beyond'. So when we have a supernova - the effective end of a star as a serious contender, leaving just a glowing cinder behind - we're basically talking about a 'beyond-new'.

So really, much as I don't like 'supernovas' either (and will continue to use 'supernovae', 'nebulae' and 'formulae'), we're kind of in a bit of a domo vitrea* when it comes to criticising the usage. It's just a slightly less sensible way of expressing something that already doesn't make much sense.


* Inexcusable. I'm terribly sorry and ashamed.



Ngh. Ach. Nnnnnnnn.... (Other sounds of straining willpower finally giving out to the sheer force of morning pedantry.)

"to tweet (oh dear that's a noun (sorta) becoming a verb far too quickly..."

N-n-n-n.... argh... no it's not....

It's a verb - birds have been tweeting and twittering for years - that's recently been applied as a noun to describe a short message on Twitter, and is now being used as the verb to describe posting the said message.


I'm sorry. For what it's worth I generally object annoyingly to any trendy fad-word, and 'tweet' is on my current list.

Actually, that's not really very effective mitigation for me, is it?



Ooooh, arrogance.

I love arrogance. It usually comes into play when the person has no idea how to react effectively, so they rely on condescension as a sort of ink cloud.

"If you like, call them UKUSA countries instead of "Anglosaxon countries"."

That's no better. 'UKUSA' would denote only two countries: the UK and the USA. Referring to 'UKUSA countries' would be equally pointless, since you've already named the two countries that the subsequent addition of 'countries' suggests that there's more than. With me? Say 'UK/USA' by all means, if you're referring to those two nations - but I think the rest of what you seem to imagine as the 'Anglosaxon' world would probably not thank you for equating them with either.

"[Anglosaxon is] a very precise definition you probably don't understand, because all you know is from CNN.com and BBC.com. I forgot UsaToday.com."

That's a pretty pretentious and supercilious attitude, for someone who doesn't seem to understand the precise definition he's criticising me for not understanding. Try this:

'Anglo-Saxon' is an amalgam term for tribes settling in the southern portions of Britain, and tradtionally said to comprise the Anglii or Angles, the Saxons, and the Jutes. They started to arrive in Britain as migrants/invaders (depending on point of view) in around about the 5th century, largely displacing many of the existing 'Celtic' and Romano-British occupants of what would later become England (the name stems from 'Angle'). The settled Anglo-Saxons were themselves overtaken following the Norman Conquest in 1066 which saw the Anglo-Saxon rulers displaced by a Norman aristocracy and a strong French influence on English culture.

Given the migrations that have occurred since the Conquest, it is now, frankly, pretty daft to try to define any modern culture - and certainly any modern government - as 'Anglosaxon'.

And do you know, I didn't get any of that from USA Today! How about that?

"The radar/RADAR jamming thing was very real"

No doubt. I know that some very odd things can be done with radar. My point was simply that you don't have to capitalise it any more. If you insist on it, though, then capitalise LASER as well.

"Glomar Explorer is even documented in books."

Yes, I know. I didn't and wouldn't question the existence of Glomar Explorer - although I believe the vessel is now simply called 'Explorer'.

Hopefully now you've seen me properly splitting hairs you'll realise how little I was doing to begin with.



What on Earth leads you to crowbar 'superstition and ignorance' into this? Where's the reference in the article to anything at all that could be so described?



About time we got rid of these silly bloody titles anyway. We have perfectly good names. Titles not indicating rank or qualification for professional purposes are long overdue being got rid of, in my view.

"Miss", "Mrs", "Ms", "Mr" - all pointless puffery. Especially when people apply them to themselves: "I'm Mister Smith". Ugh, the pomposity.

Besides, we don't even use them properly. 'Mrs' has nothing to do with being married - it denotes independence from the parental household. A female was 'Miss' while she remained under her parents' roof. Once she moved out and became a woman in her own right, she took the title of 'Mistress', abbreviated in writing to 'Mrs' (there was never any such title in spoken English as 'Missis').

'Mistress', of course, didn't denote marital status, so if we'd kept using it properly, 'Ms' would never have been required at all.

Sorry. It's just a longstanding gripe of mine. Personally, I don't use any of this outmoded nonsense - but it's a damn hard job getting this message across with forms and the people who process them. I end up being 'Other' most of the time, since 'Title' is invariably a mandatory field and 'Other' is the nearest thing they offer to 'None'.


Mangle the BBC?

"Someone should go in there and mangle them before I do!"

Just do be careful not to tweet that sort of thing, please.



I'm not sure what the blazes you *think* you're talking about but...

"Anglosaxon governments do strange things..."

No they don't. There are no Anglosaxon - or even Anglo-Saxon - governments. Haven't been since the formation of the kingdom of England, and certainly not since the Conquest in 1066. Generally, the use of 'Anglo-Saxon' these days - outside of the historical context at least - suggests that someone somewhere is a bit of a nationalistic fantasist.

"That keeps them distracted from building RADAR jammers"

Although radar is an acronym, you don't need to capitalise it any more. It's in common use now.

Either way, if you insist on capitalising radar, then you should also capitalise laser, which is also an acronym. Please be consistent.

"Europe has and ample supply of Wannabe Mad Scientists who can't wait to get into the business of technical deception."

Europe certainly has an ample supply of people writing completely irrelevant and possibly slightly unhinged vaguely conspiratorial nonsense on forums.



Not sure about that. A supernova is fairly transient: it'll leave a nebula remnant, I presume, but I'm not expert enough to know how visible it'll be from here. I'm guessing not very if the flash was only mag 17.

Still, it'd be nice to give her a 'Gray's Nebula' to tell her grandkids about.

In fact, heck with it, let's be optimistic: it'd be nice to think her grandkids will have a Gray's Nebula to fly their starships around. :o)

Beastly Android will batter Apple's iOS beauty



"...the author is part of a company helping to make open source mobile apps ... dodgy surveys ... no evidence of a huge gold rush towards Android development ... ground-breaking, news-making (and profit-making) apps are pretty much all starting off in iOS ... Android = Advertising-led, downmarket ... iOS = direct sales, upmarket ... lowest common denominator ... advertising to become even more intrusive ... Android looking too downmarket ..."

Own an iPhone, do you? :-)


Wakes and Memes

"but its lead is rapidly vanishing in Android's wake."

Can something's lead over something else vanish in the wake of the something else? If the something leads the something else, then the something is ahead of the something else, and thus it's the something else that's experiencing the wake of the something.

Think more maritime, man.

"If you're into memes,"

I'm not sure. I don't even know what one is. First I thought it was something Richard Dawkins had invented. Then someone told me that it was one of those silly questionnaires you get sent in emails sometimes. Then I decided it was probably a lolcat.

I like lolcats.

As for the rest of the article, it still didn't tell me which out of Apple and Google is the least evil.

Gov gone wild: Mad new pub glasses, bread freedom introduced


As a tee-totaller(*)...

...I'm probably not qualified to comment.

As a keen advocate of metric measures - sorry, but there it is, they just make more sense to me - I'm probably even less qualified.

But bearing those factors in mind, even I would quite happily see pubs retain the pint simply because *it's the measurement you use for buying beer*. It just is.

Also milk.

But other than that: metric, all round, definitely.


(* Mostly. I will have the occasional ceremonial rum. For special occasions, you understand.)