* Posts by DJO

1743 publicly visible posts • joined 28 Sep 2011

Researchers train an AI system to find extraterrestrial life

DJO Silver badge

Re: How about non-carbon life forms?

OK, you tell us how the chemistry works for non-carbon based life and then we'll know what to look for.

Herein lies the problem, you cannot search for something if you don't know what you are searching for. So until we have some ideas we'll just look for what we know works. This also means by the time we do have some ideas our detection methods will be far more refined than they are now.

Google killing Basic HTML version of Gmail In January 2024

DJO Silver badge

Re: What happend to...

Been there, done that - microspacing full stops on a diablo daisywheel. Needed a reinforced table to stop it shaking the bugger to bits.

DJO Silver badge

Re: What happend to...

Dot Matrix, Pah too slow and not loud enough. Just a shame it's impossible to get parts for line printers.

The home Wi-Fi upgrade we never asked for is coming. The one we need is not

DJO Silver badge

Re: Too pessimistic

Don't see how a sprit from Shakespeare's Tempest will help no matter how honkingly big she is. Perhaps an aerial would be more useful.

Now IBM sued for age discrim by its own HR veterans

DJO Silver badge

It's not that the fines are inadequate, the problem is where the money to pay the fines comes from.

The C suite dwellers may and probably are the guilty party but the fine will be paid by the company so charges may increase, employees may get a lower raise if any, some stockholders might get a slightly lower dividend. However one thing you can guarantee is the C suite occupants will not be a single penny out of pocket, their bonuses, raises, pension contributions and stock options will be intact and untouched.

Until the guilty parties are held personally to blame and are punished accordingly there is no incentive for them to behave within the law.

Singapore may split liability for phishing losses between banks and victims

DJO Silver badge

If the banks allow people to open accounts without proven identification or any way to positively identify the account owner then they should be culpable for any criminal activity from that account.

Cloud is here to stay, but customers are starting to question the cost

DJO Silver badge

Re: Digging out the T-Shirt I have

A combination of factors, the cost redistribution I mentioned earlier, empire building, good old fashioned kick-backs, extreme gullibility and a host of other things that seemed like a good idea at the time.

DJO Silver badge

Re: Digging out the T-Shirt I have

Moving a spend from one cost centre to a different cost centre is the same as saving money - well that's what a lot of middle managers seem to believe.

BT dips toe into liquid cooling in quest for a chill network

DJO Silver badge

Re: Even better

With heat pumps all sorts of energy transfer is possible. I know there's at least one skating rink/swimming pool combo where the heat taken from the rink to freeze it is used to heat the pool.

Anywhere low grade heat is useful, swimming pools obviously but also greenhouses, district heating, pre-heating where higher temperatures are needed etc. etc. etc.

James Webb spies distant exoplanet that could be wet, wild, and Hycean

DJO Silver badge

Re: Given the various...

We look for what we know to look for - carbon based life with an oxygen metabolism.

Looking for signals or constructed structures does not depend on that but we've not had any luck in that venture and we would need to be very lucky indeed as we would need to be directly in the path of a narrow beam to stand any chance of getting a definite signal from more than a few dozen light years. As for detecting alien structures, we're a generation or two of space telescopes away from that being feasible.

We are now to the point where we can look at the composition of alien atmospheres so looking for metabolites is an obvious step but what metabolites should we look for? That's easy if we are looking for carbon based life as it's the only type we know works so that's what we look for. Non-carbon based life (if that's even possible at non-extreme temperatures and pressures) would not produce metabolite we could predict so we don't have a clue as to what to look for so why bother? The same is true for hypothetical carbon based non-oxygen using life, we don't know what to look for.

We'll look for "it's life Jim but not as we know it" when we have a sensible idea of what to look for, until then we look for what we know works

It's far better to try and fail than not to try at all.

DJO Silver badge

Interesting assertion

The ocean – if present – could, for example, simply be too hot to be habitable.

Presumably there's a high atmospheric pressure so the boiling point at the surface is going to be considerably higher than 100°C but I don't see why that should preclude life. There are plenty of Earth critters living and thriving around hydrothermal vents where the temperatures well exceed 100°C.

You are all aware of the Weak Anthropic Principle - "The world is the way it is because if it wasn't we wouldn't be here to observe it". That does not mean there cannot be a Weak K2-18 biesian Principle too. Living in their endless hot sea, the idea that life could exist on a (relatively) cold planet with large landmasses would seem absurd.

UK admits 'spy clause' can't be used for scanning encrypted chat – it's not 'feasible'

DJO Silver badge

Re: When it becomes possible

The 3 laws were amended to 4 laws by R. Daneel Olivaw aka Eto Demerzel with the addition of the “Zeroth Law” – “A robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm.” and the original 3 were amended with "except where such orders would conflict with the Zeroth Law"

But for your premise, even with the additional law it didn't work out too well for the meatbags. (I recently bought a new eink reader and to test it I ploughed through the entire Foundation series so it's all fresh - I then looked at the Foundation TV show which is extremely loosely based on a short synopsis of the books - OK as random SF but a lousy adaptation of Asimov's vision).

I think Pratchett had a more logical approach than Asimov with the Golem chem: "A golem may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm...unless instructed to do so by duly constituted authority."

DJO Silver badge

Re: Whitewash?

Golly, you better tell the intelligence services all over the world that.

Actually as far as they are concerned "prosecuting" through the civil legal framework has never been a particularly high priority, they have other ways of dealing with people and they do not want their operatives to have to give evidence in open court.

During WWII during the periods when we were unable to decrypt the Enigma messages the metadata (or "routing") was still used to good effect. - If axis command is suddenly sending a lot of messages to a previously quiescent location it's a fair bet something is going to happen there soon.

DJO Silver badge

Re: When it becomes possible

While he was undoubtedly an evil piece of shit the argument for strangling him at birth is mixed.

Germany was racing to WWII anyway due largely to resentment of the Treaty of Versailles - with Hitler we got the Holocaust and a military failure, without Hitler we would probably been spared the Holocaust but with a competent military leader Germany could easily have been victorious.

DJO Silver badge


Is this some sneaky deflection?

Anybody in intelligence will tell you (possibly only when under duress) that the metadata is often the most useful thing - who contacted whom and when and how often is very revealing and is easy to automate most of the drudge work.

Actually going through a zillion messages is much harder to automate so would require improbable staffing levels to do properly, of course if they only use it on specified targets then it's easier but there are already laws in place that can be applied to suspects where there is adequate probable cause to convince a judge to issue a warrant.

Google rebrands 'android' as 'Android' to remove any doubt about its affiliations

DJO Silver badge

Re: I'm sure they will address that

Only if they are "going forward dynamically"

DJO Silver badge

nul points

"While we've added more curves and personality unique to Android, the new Android stylization more closely mirrors Google's logo and creates balance between the two,"

A missed opportunity to use the marketing favourite "synergy" or even better "synergistically" when spouting utter garbage.

US AGs: We need law to purge the web of AI-drawn child sex abuse material

DJO Silver badge


...Ohio's Attorney General Dave Yost said in a statement. ... A society that fails to protect its children literally has no future," he said...

Except where guns are concerned.

Cue downvotes from leftpondians.

Boffins reckon Mars colony could survive with fewer than two dozen people

DJO Silver badge

Re: Why do people call a small outpost a colony ?

Everybody carries duff genes but they are generally recessive, with inbreeding both parents may have the same bad recessive genes which will be expressed when they would not be otherwise.

Inbreeding results in homozygosity, which can increase the chances of offspring being affected by recessive traits. In extreme cases, this usually leads to at least temporarily decreased biological fitness of a population (called inbreeding depression), which is its ability to survive and reproduce.

While inbreeding might not be a problem it almost certainly would be and is trivial to avoid so only an idiot would risk it.

In medieval times villages were generally only a few miles apart so while many would find partners from their immediate community there would be a few who found partners from neighbouring villages which is sufficient to maintain genetic diversity. Don't forget the fields of one village abutted the fields of the next village so contact between villages would be common.

DJO Silver badge

Re: Why do people call a small outpost a colony ?

No significant atmosphere, a lot more of the light makes it to the surface including the higher energy UV light.

For dust covering the panels, a colony will have the option of sending someone out with a broom.

DJO Silver badge

Re: "the inbreeding problem can be easily countered"

Gestation chambers are 100% in the realm of science fiction and are likely to remain there for a very long time if not for ever.

Getting nutrients to the developing foetus is not a problem, placental blood circulation I suppose could come from donated blood but it would have to be from the same donor for the whole nine months otherwise the immune system of the foetus will get confused and probably kill the foetus. Synthetic blood is useless because it would leave the foetus with no immune system and a post-birth life expectancy measured in hours. Then there are things like gut flora and fauna which also come through the placenta which are essential to the newborn's survival.

The placenta is a very complicated organ which is not fully understood and making an artificial one is for the foreseeable future, impossible.

DJO Silver badge

Re: "the inbreeding problem can be easily countered"

...a moral and ethical minefield until we can create an artificial womb...

Why bother, if there are perfectly adequate organic gestation chambers walking around in around half of the colonists it makes sense to make use of available resources.

Anyway the 9 months of "nature" is nothing compared to the 16 or so years of "nurture" - you want the "parents" to have some kind of emotional bond to their charges and given a choice between one squirted out of the mother and with a supply of compatible breast milk automatically online when it's needed and your alternative of a genetically unrelated sprog decanted from an artificial gestation chamber who will have to be raised on formula. I suspect I can predict the response.

I think you'll find that using an artificial womb except in cases of female infertility is a far worse minefield than established procedures like artificial insemination and surrogacy.

DJO Silver badge

Re: "the inbreeding problem can be easily countered"

Once that's secure and stable, then it might be time to bring kids into the mix

So, compulsory contraception? Is that not equally a monstrous, compression of the rights of the parents.

However you work it there will need to be some control over reproduction in the first years of a colony but it will be impossible and undesirable to forbid it so the only sensible plan is to expect it and prepare for the inevitable.

As for genetic diversity that depends if there are permanent partnerships which seems probable then there's no diversity issues with a pair having one or two kids but after that it would be sensible to encourage the couple to use donated sperm for any further kids.

DJO Silver badge

Re: "the inbreeding problem can be easily countered"

Just had another thought, radiation, it's easy to make a lead lined freezer to store sperm in, lead lined jock-straps to protect testicles are a less feasible proposition so some artificial insemination might be needed just to ensure a healthy population. Ovaries have more flesh between them and the outside world than testicles so should be less susceptible to radiation exposure.

DJO Silver badge

Re: "the inbreeding problem can be easily countered"

Ah but you've already introduced a rather critical strawman of your own that stored sperm would be allocated to an unwilling woman according to some "selective breeding" program which itself could come under the eugenics heading.

Allocation should be random, I'd even suggest a mixture from multiple donors, (may the most motile win) and if the recipient has a permanent partner and they both agree they cold stir some of his in there too. There's a nasty can of worms about donor ethnicity matching with the mother or mothers partner but I have no intention of being dragged down that avenue.

Obviously any alterations to the normal way of doing things must be under the fully informed consent of the women however it's not beyond imagining that such consent would be essential for any prospective colonists. Not all their kids, some could be made the old fashioned way but it really depends on the size of the colony, the smaller it is the more important it is to get external gene lines into the mix.

Artificial insemination by donor is something that has been going on for ages in cases of male infertility with no problems, it's NOT selective breeding, it's a way for a woman to have children without needing a handy fertile man. So if a colony does not have sufficient fertile men for genetic diversity then a simple and safe non-surgical procedure seems a perfect fit.

DJO Silver badge

Re: ...and the reason for this would be?


Settling on the exposed surface would be problematical. Building a settlement at the bottom of one of the many huge canyons on Mars would protect the site from radiation for most of the day and long term it would be possible to enclose sections of the canyon floor to create a nearly open habitat.

Then a load of solar cells for power and fields of heliostats for solar furnaces up on the surface and you are in business. Yes Mars is a lot further from the sun but it doesn't have an attenuating atmosphere so there should be no problem utilizing solar power as long as there's people there who can go around with a broom every now and then.

Getting from the canyon floor to the surface and back would be a bit of a bugger so initially settle on the surface and once power and furnaces are up and running start work on an elevator which initially need not be complex - just a winch and a second hand descent capsule as the elevator car.

DJO Silver badge

Re: "the inbreeding problem can be easily countered"

Interesting, you think artificial insemination by donor is "vile" but are happy to allow the eugenic gene editing of unborn children.

I humbly suggest you might want to rethink your priorities.

DJO Silver badge

Re: "the inbreeding problem can be easily countered"

It's the most efficient use of limited space.

It's callous but in a colony the most important parts of the colonists are their reproductive systems. Sperm and ova (unfertilised or fertilised) can all be stored easily but sperm will keep fresh the longest and is the only one that can be obtained and used without surgical intervention. Having the option for gene lines outside the fixed population would be an essential insurance policy.

At least I'm not so sociopathic to suggest women should be forced to undergo unnecessary surgical procedures to implant ova.

DJO Silver badge

Re: Why do people call a small outpost a colony ?

No, with enough energy you can get oxygen from rocks - Martian regolith is mainly various metal oxides. Very inefficient but doable with a surplus of energy and could also be a useful source of metals for construction and tool fabrication.

Hydrogen for water and rocket fuel is a bit harder to get as the regolith does not contain a lot of hydrogen bearing compounds but there should be enough.

On such a colony recycling of everything would be essential so once up and running it shouldn't need a lot of fresh resources for day to day operations.

DJO Silver badge

Re: Why do people call a small outpost a colony ?

If breeding is expected in a colony the inbreeding problem can be easily countered with a freezer and a box of turkey basters.

For an off-Earth colony the most important resource is energy. With an energy surplus you can do almost anything.

Grant Shapps named UK defense supremo in latest 'tech-savvy' Tory tale

DJO Silver badge

Re: Question

For those of us across the pond, how does someone like this keep getting appointed to high office

In order to get Brexit they had to expel or sideline every vaguely competent member, they are now left with idiots, fellow travellers and self-serving hypocrites which is why we have a "government" full of useless jerks like Truss & Shapps.

The printout may be dead but that beast of a print queue lives on

DJO Silver badge

Based in Royston Vasey?

...This is despite the fact that for most users it's natural to want local control of a local model, and a local printer makes far more sense....

Local printers for local people.

US Air Force wants $6B to build 2,000 AI-powered drones

DJO Silver badge

Re: When did they become Drones?

...when did all RC flying machines become drones?

When they added autopilot and (rudimentary) AI capabilities. The old RC planes had to be under operator control for 100% of the time in the air.

India lands Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft on Moon, is the first to lunar south pole

DJO Silver badge

Re: Well, I'm guessing Roscosmos is keeping veeeery quiet now

Roscosmos didn't have any comms for a lot of the mission, both ESA and NASA offered to give Roscosmos comms when their craft was out of sight of Russian ground stations but Roscosmos declined the offer.

As for this mission very well done but has nobody ever seen any SF? The instant anybody drinks the water on the moon they will be turned into a vacuum tolerant homicidal maniac.

Budget satellite drag sail shows space junk how to gracefully exit orbit

DJO Silver badge

Re: It works only if the satellite electronics still work at the end of its mission time.

Then a self powered system that deploys the sail if it does not get a signal from the satellite control system over a set period, say 28 days.

Minimal drain on the satellite systems, just an "I'm still alive" signal every 20 days or so.

US Space Force finally creates targeting unit – better late than never, right?

DJO Silver badge

Re: Can someone explain this to me?

Silencing the idiotic military nuts in politics who would otherwise scream "why aren't we doing anything about <insert name of currently fashionable and possibly imaginary threat>"

Judge denies HP's plea to throw out all-in-one printer lockdown lawsuit

DJO Silver badge

Re: I ditched HP printers

It's actually "NV" and stands for "Not Viable".

US Supreme Court allows 'ghost guns' to fall under federal purview

DJO Silver badge

OK, suggest away.

Also amendments are not written in stone, they can in turn be amended or abolished - note the 21st amendment.

DJO Silver badge

Oh, if it's difficult let's not bother.

That is the most stupid argument in the entire history of stupid arguments.

Yes it's not going to be easy to reduce the access to firearms and ammunition for people who have no legitimate need for them but that is not a good reason not to try.

DJO Silver badge

Being approached from the wrong end. Guns per se are not much of a problem, ammunition however is so restrict access to ammunition.

Now people will point out that ammunition can be made in a simple workshop and that's true - Cartridges are easy to make, bullets are trivial to make, gunpowder or guncotton is also easy to make or obtain (although not too easy to make well).

The primer however is not easy to make and uses chemicals that are not easy to obtain - so restrict access to those as well as the finished articles.

Make bullets ridiculously expensive and traceable except for when used in shooting club premises, by registered hunters or other legitimate legal uses.

Actually enforce the "well regulated" bit.

Norway to hit Meta with fines over Facebook user privacy from next week

DJO Silver badge

Re: Less than 1%

Another way is to double the fine every day, after a few weeks a small fine would scale to multi-billion dollar penalties.

Lawrence Livermore lab repeats fusion breakthrough – yep, still kinda works

DJO Silver badge

And then what?

This reaction produces enough energy to boil a few litres of water, the diamond container for the fuel which itself is destroyed cost around $10,000 each and the energy to prime the reaction is orders of magnitude greater than the energy released.

While interesting from an academic perspective I have difficulty seeing how this could ever be a viable energy source.

Then there is the problem of Tritium supply. Natural processes on Earth produce about 5kg of Tritium per year, fusion will require tonnes of the stuff and the Neutron/Lithium reaction cannot make enough to be self-sustaining even at an impossible 100% efficiency.

NASA mistakenly severs communication to Voyager 2

DJO Silver badge

Re: Voyager amazes me

...ever deeper into space at an incredibly high speed.

Well it's relative isn't it?

Compared to stuff on and around the Earth 15,000m/s is quite speedy but on the grand scale of things 0.000052% of the speed of light is almost stationary.

...non-upgradeable, none of it can ever be patched...

Not quite true, both craft have had their software updated several times either to deal with malfunctioning or power hungry hardware or to alter the science performed.

But yes, a stunning achievement from all involved.

DJO Silver badge

Re: Variation

Also on a technical point, a very early use of punched paper tape was for teletypes but it didn't really catch on for mainstream computing until the 1970's. Punched cards date back to Jacquard around 1804, the punched card as we now know it was introduced by Hollerith in 1890 for the US census and was adopted for computers by IBM in the early 1960's.

So in every guise, punched tape came after punched cards.

Yes there were much earlier experiments to "program" looms with paper tape but they didn't work very well, broke too easily, were expensive and complicated to make. They had to make the tape thicker and wider and ended up with cards sewn together, after that paper tape was largely forgotten until the telegraph came along.

But as far as computing is concerned, cards came before tape.

DJO Silver badge

Re: Variation

punched cards were a huge step forward from tape.

Until someone dropped a box of unnumbered cards (of course you always numbered them but strangely it was not a default option, at least not on the IBM 1130).

DJO Silver badge

Re: Variation

Ah, you're not familiar with the ASR33 mentioned above. It was a teletype with a tape punch and reader bolted on the left side.

My local tech college had a room with 8 of them connected to the minicomputer that filled the adjacent room and awarded each of the 8 users a massive 8k of core (yes "core", ferrite beads for memory) to play with.

But you try and tell the young people today that... and they won't believe ya'.

DJO Silver badge

Re: Talk it up

Not just fast but compact too with a discrete 25 metre parabolic dish, be the envy of your neighbours.

MIT boffins build battery alternative out of cement, carbon black, water

DJO Silver badge

Re: Perhaps I missed something

Carbon black or as it's better known "soot" is stuffed full of buckminsterfullerene. I suspect it's those molecules that are doing most of the heavy lifting here.

Aliens crash landed on Earth – and Uncle Sam is covering it up, this guy tells Congress

DJO Silver badge

Re: Not impossible, just ludicrously unlikely

Harmonics are universal, the relationship between notes of different multiples of the same frequency should always work. As for would an alien prefer Bach, AC/DC or Stravinsky is possibly where the fun starts.

With the visual arts unless there is some kind of pan-human form populating the galaxy (as in the Culture series) then I doubt if a Rembrandt picture would appeal to an alien, Picasso might and various abstract artists but even still that's a pretty remote chance.

The same for the written word, it's bad enough translating between different Earth languages where there are common concepts and experiences to draw on, translating something like Shakespeare into an alien tongue where there is unlikely to be much commonality is unlikely to do the bard any credit at all.

That's why I went for music

DJO Silver badge

Re: Not impossible, just ludicrously unlikely

Terraforming in principle shouldn't be tremendously tricky, the problem is "how much of a hurry are you in?" If you can afford thousands of years then OK, if you want it done in a lifetime, forget it.

You need to build an atmosphere, stabilise the temperature, sort out a way to start or emulate a magnetosphere, get megatonnes of water from somewhere (Saturn's rings?) then kick-start a biosphere so the atmosphere is self regulating. All doable given unlimited time and resources. Shame that both time and resources are seriously limited (at the moment).