* Posts by lowwall

110 publicly visible posts • joined 5 Nov 2011


Want a Cybertruck? You're stuck with it for a year, says Tesla



I've only seen this sort of thing from automakers of limited production supercars. It's meant to keep the very wealthy inside their formal or informal buyers programmes, where members are expected to spend a certain amount per year or purchase less desirable models in order to get on the lists for the good stuff.

That certainly doesn't apply here. This is a mass market car by a mass market car maker. So we can only conclude that Tesla suspects either that resale values will be well under their asking price, the demand for the truck will be limited enough that used sales will directly affect new car sales, or both.

Boffins say their thin film solar cells make space farms viable


"A single satellite, for example, would need to have so many solar cells that it would measure at least a kilometer across, while ground-based receivers would need to be around ten times that size."

What matters is the net present cost per watt hour of this system compared to an oversized terrestrial PV + storage system that can deliver the same amount of reliable power.

I suspect that earth based will always be cheaper even if you have to build a pumped hydro facility to get the needed reliability.

You shouldn't be able to buy devices that tamper with diesel truck emissions on eBay, says DoJ


Re: Not since 1968

Black powder is lightly regulated because there is essentially zero crime committed with black powder firearms. Repeating black powder handguns are not readily concealable and, while the first 6 shots from your Colt 1851 Navy replica can be fired almost as fast as a 9mm automatic, reloading for 7-12 require two hands and a couple of minutes for concerned citizens to deal with the threat.

No doubt the modern version of highwaymen would return to their cap and ball gonnes if cartridge firearms were to somehow disappear, but that seems rather unlikely.


Re: Not since 1968

Was addressed to me? My responses were what the rules are, not what I believe they should be.

As to the what the people of the US want. Poll after poll show that a sizeable majority of Americans want greater regulation of firearms. But it's not a primary interest for most and the specific measures they would like to see undertaken vary widely, so the desires of the majority get steamrolled by a focused and very active minority.


Re: Not since 1968

How long ago did they get their FFL? The requirements to get or maintain a dealer FFL were greatly tightened in the early-90s. The current application process essentially requires an FFL licensee to be an operating business that complies with local zoning laws. The agency that grants the licenses (the ATF) will first do a site visit to interview the applicant and check that all local laws have been complied with, that the applicant meets the safe storage requirements and that the applicant has processes in place for completing and saving the paperwork that is required for gun sales. I worked at a gun shop that opened a new location and went through one of those inspections and the agent was very thorough.

Because of this, the number of dealer FFL license holders peaked at 248,155 in 1992. In the next 5 years as the new regulations took effect and existing FFL holders came up for renewal it had dropped to 79,285. There are currently 50,540 dealer licenses.

Note that these numbers are for dealer FFLs. There is also an FFL for Collectors of Curious and Relics which is essentially limited to the purchase of guns that are more than 50 years old and that are not otherwise restricted such as selective fire weapons. This license still requires an FBI background check and a site visit/interview to check on safe storage, but does not require an operating business. Some of the people who didn't renew their dealer licenses did switch to a collector license, so those numbers have grown from 15,820 in 1992 to 50,995 today.

You can read about the process and see the application here: https://www.atf.gov/firearms/apply-license


Not since 1968

Since the Gun Control Act of 1968 all mail order firearms sales must go through a federally licensed firearms dealer (FFL). In practice this means that while you can order a gun online (or via mail order if anyone still has paper catalogues), it can only be shipped to an FFL. The buyer then goes to the shop to fill out the form and go through the FBI background check - see https://www.fbi.gov/how-we-can-help-you/more-fbi-services-and-information/nics for more info.

There is one way to get guns via mail order. "Firearms" is a defined category that specifically excludes black powder muzzle loaders of any age and guns made before 1898 that use obsolete ammunition "not readily available in the ordinary channels of commercial trade." So primitive hunting enthusiasts and US Civil War reenactors can still buy their kit without a trip to an FFL. However, these folks are not normally considered to be a significant threat to the public, at least when armed with their mail order weapons.

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


Re: Some wrong assumptions are being made

The US Supreme Court directly addressed this issue in 2002. They ruled that a federal law that made creation or possession of "virtual pornographic images" of children a crime was unconstitutional.

They did allow one portion of the law to stand. This was the part that covered deepfake-type images, or as the ruling described it, "Rather than creating original images, pornographers can alter innocent pictures of real children so that the children appear to be engaged in sexual activity."

You can read the decision here: https://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/00-795 or the wikipedia entry here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashcroft_v._Free_Speech_Coalition

California DMV hits brakes on Cruise's SF driverless fleet after series of fender benders


Re: How do they stay in lane anyway?

They know the lanes because they only operate in areas that have been precisely mapped out. This is how Waymo puts in in one of their blog posts:

"To create a map for a new location, our team starts by manually driving our sensor equipped vehicles down each street, so our custom lidar can paint a 3D picture of the new environment. This data is then processed to form a map that provides meaningful context for the Waymo Driver, such as speed limits and where lane lines and traffic signals are located. Then finally, before a map gets shared with the rest of the self-driving fleet, we test and verify it so it’s ready to be deployed."

The requirement for extensive and expensive custom mapping means that this approach is currently practical only for taxi-type services even if they get the bugs worked out.

Tesla is trying to get around this limitation by using much less detailed maps which already exist and having the software figure out the exact details as you go. This fails to work quite often which is why Tesla's legal department warns drivers and regulators that it is level 1 or 2 automation only (i.e., the driver has to watch and be ready to take over at any time). Of course, their CEO and marketing departments pretend otherwise, no doubt contributing to several fatalities and many crashes.

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


Re: 110 humans

Not all SciFi:


... But ah with the proper breeding techniques and a ratio of say, ten females to each male, I would guess that they could then work their way back to the present gross national product within say, twenty years....


Doctor, you mentioned the ration of ten women to each man. Now, wouldn't that necessitate the abandonment of the so called monogamous sexual relationship, I mean, as far as men were concerned?


Regrettably, yes. But it is, you know, a sacrifice required for the future of the human race. I hasten to add that since each man will be required to do prodigious... service along these lines, the women will have to be selected for their sexual characteristics which will have to be of a highly stimulating nature.


I must confess, you have an astonishingly good idea there, Doctor.


Thank you, sir.

We need to be first on the Moon, uh, again, says NASA


Re: Just one question

Standard cartridges will fire just fine. Gunpowder already contains its own oxidizer.

Really the only thing you need to do is be very careful about lubricants and tolerances to keep things from sticking together.

And you don't need recoilless for small arms on the moon. Even in zero g, relative mass matters. A standard 9mm round sends an 8 gram bullet at 350m/s. We'll round it up to 10 grams to account for the propellant. Assuming a trim 10 stone space native, the recoil will propel him or her back at approximately 5.5 centimeters per second (0.123 miles per hour).

Playing instruments, musical talent? Psh, this is the 2020s – Meta has models for that now


Re: A few minutes sampled at 44.1 kHz

It's just notes? So all musical instruments sound identical except for range?

Musk decides to bury dead Twitter accounts, warns users follower counts could sink


I don't think it will take that long. Given Elon's normal quality control standards, he'll grab the first intern (I assume they still have those because they work cheap) who claims to know how to add a JOIN statement to a DELETE query.

And then everyone will discover that "archived" means sitting on tape that's now in a landfill because no one paid the rent on the storage space.

Chrome's HTTPS padlock heads to Google Graveyard


Are obligatory XKCD references still obligatory?


Guy rejects top photo prize after revealing snap was actually made using AI


Re: Thumbnails...

The ears are off as well. This should have been easy to spot as hands and ears are known weak points of the current crop of AI image generators. Teeth are also a big problem so, like here, most people avoid them by specifying a closed mouth.

I suspect this got through because it was supposed to look like a manipulated image (this was entered in the creative open category which allows this), so the blurring and oddness around the periphery of the faces could be seen as deliberate. Much as the first winners of Turing contests were presented as having traits that covered their failures, ranging from PARRY from 1972, presented as a paranoid schizophrenic, through the joking Jabberwacky of 2005 to Eugene from 2014, presented as a 13-year-old boy who was not a native English speaker.

Child-devouring pothole will never hurt a BMW driver again


Re: Volvo drivers don't get a serve too?

I believe you have the correlation arrow reversed. The large subset of shit Volvo drivers don't become shit after buying a Volvo, they already were shit and bought a Volvo in the hopes of remaining unscathed after the inevitable crash.

Heata offers free hot water by mounting servers on people's water tanks


It's all about real estate

The potential cost savings doesn't come from electricity arbitrage, it's from not having to build a data centre, Real estate is expensive to acquire, develop and maintain. If you rent, you are paying someone else for all those costs plus whatever they need to make it profitable.

The question is whether install and service (aka man with van) of your distributed data centre is cheaper than those reat estate costs. Which I imagine is what this trial is trying to figure out.

San Francisco lawmakers approve lethal robots – but they can't carry guns


Optional Austrian accent?

"Sarah Conner"

Too little, too late: Intel's legacy is eroding


Re: Too big to sing

... Boeing Defense.

After 40 years in tech, I see every innovation contains its dark opposite


Having started with a TRS-80 Model 1 4k, I saw no downside in the replacement of the cassette recorder with a floppy drive.

Intel's net positive water use only tells part of the story


A drop at a time

Intel has published its projects at https://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/environment/intel-and-the-environment.html

This is how Intel is coming up with its return numbers

Firsthand reductions

- Adjusting manufacturing processes so it uses less water per unit of output (wafer/$/transistor/?)

- Treat and reuse some of the water that flows through the foundries

- Using water produced by a desalinization plant in Israel

But these only go so far, so they are including third party reductions as water "returned" to the community. This includes:

- finding some local inefficiency in water consumption (such as flood irrigation where drip irrigation will do) and paying somebody to fix the issue

- paying people with local water rights not to use those rights

- buying land or conservation easements or restoring wetlands that at least theoretically result in recharged aquifers or higher river flow

NASA wants nuclear reactor on the Moon by 2030


Re: Sixth Time Is ...

You are aware that technology advances? NASA's last work on this began in 2006 (and concluded in 2028) and was based on a 10 kilowatt reactor.


Presumably the knowledge generated by this technology demonstrator will inform the design of these new proposals. That's how NASA works in general. They do basic research and then farm out any required builds.

Brave Search leaves beta, offers Goggles for filtering, personalizing results


To make .google files visible to Brave

El Reg might want to fix that (yes, I reported it). This, BTW, is why it was stupid to name these filters "Goggles".

AI's most convincing conversations are not what they seem


Re: The real issue

Who needs to agree? Think Profit!


[Booming] If I might make an observation … All I wanted to say is that my circuits are now irrevocably committed to computing the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything.


That’s a -


Ahhh! With -


But, but the program will take me seven-and-a-half million years to run.


Seven-and-a-half million years?


Seven-and-a-half million years? What are you talking about?


Yes. I said I’d have to think about it didn’t I? And it occurs to me, that running a program like this is bound to cause sensational public interest.


Oh yes.


Oh you can say that again.


And so any philosophers who are put off the mark, are going to clean up in the prediction business.


”Prediction business”?


Obviously. You just get on the pundit circuit. You all go on the chat shows and the colour supplements and violently disagree with each other about what answer I’m eventually going to produce. And if you get yourselves clever agents, you’ll be on the gravy train for life.


Bloody ‘ell! That’s what I call thinking! Here Vroomfondel, why do we never think of things like that?


Dunno. Think our minds must be too highly trained Majikthise.

New York Times outlays seven-figure sum for 1,900 lines of JavaScript – yes, we mean Wordle


More capable alternative

https://hellowordl.net/ - You can play as many as you'd like and change the number of letters.

To make it a bit more challenging, I start the next puzzle with the answer to the previous one (or my last guess without repeated letters if there are repeats in the solution). And BTW, while the solution set has only 2.3k words, the allowed guess set has 10k which does include many UK spellings. "-our" is often handy when you are working through the vowels.

HCL accused of wage theft, underpaying H-1B workers by at least $95m a year


I work at a US immigration law firm. There is no requirement to recruit for US workers for the H-1B. That's why it is limited both in time (3 years, renewable once) and in the number of visas. The recruitment requirement is for employer sponsorship for permanent residence (a green card) through the labor certification process. BTW, there is no current backlog on green cards through the labor certification process. If the employer is willing to try it and all the hoops get successfully jumped through, it could be completed in under a year.

The H-1B does include a requirement to pay the prevailing wage for that job in that location. The prevailing wages are actually quite reasonable for technical positions. These wages are public information and, following dotcom era abuses of the system, employers can be and often are audited to ensure they actually pay them. But employers can still game this in at least three ways. First by substituting a lower paying job title than what the person will actually be doing. The second is by claiming the position has a lower experience level than is actually required (there are 4 wage levels for each job based on the required experience). The third way is the most egregious and frankly should not be allowed, but employers can claim that the position is only part time or that they use a 35 hour week and then make the person work full time.

Facebook rendered spineless by buggy audit code that missed catastrophic network config error


Who me?

"During one of these routine maintenance jobs, a command was issued with the intention to assess the availability of global backbone capacity, which unintentionally took down all the connections in our backbone network,"

I'd like to nominate the lady or gent who entered this command for your next edition of Who Me.

And offer them a no-doubt sorely needed pint.

We have some sad news about Facebook. It has returned to the internet after six-hour mega outage


So they switched it off and then switched it back on again. Did Daddy Pig lead the crack team of engineers?

Arms not long enough to reach the plug socket? Room-wide wireless charging is on the way


Re: Frequency? Effects OUTSIDE the room? Messaging IN ADDITION to power?

They don't emit effort to matter. Now if you keep Torpedo Rays as pets...

Software bug in Bombardier airliner made planes turn the wrong way


Re: Dislexia Lures KO


Boffins find an 'actionable clock' hiding in your blood, ticking away to your death


Kept waiting for this

How has this not been posted yet?

And you run, and you run to catch up with the sun but it's sinking

Racing around to come up behind you again

The sun is the same in a relative way but you're older

Shorter of breath and one day closer to death

Every year is getting shorter, never seem to find the time

Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines

Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way

The time is gone, the song is over, thought I'd something more to say

El Reg checks in with Rocket Lab's Peter Beck to see how that hat tastes amid reusable rockets and swelling payloads


Re: Why is that name not familiar ?

Agreed that size isn't important. Where Falcon 9 makes Electron look like a toy is in payload, ability to launch satellites beyond LEO and cost per kilo of payload. Rocket Labs is developing a Falcon 9 competitor called Neutron, but they don't expect it to launch until 2024. By which time SpaceX should have Starship working.

Falcon 9's size does give Rocket Labs a niche though. Even though SpaceX is much cheaper per kilo, if you need less than a couple of tons lifted, you have to wait until they aggregate a bunch of smaller satellites into what they call a rideshare package. Because SpaceX is concentrating on Starlink launches, those rideshare launches are few and far between, they only have two scheduled for this year. So if you have a small satellite and a need for certain orbits or launch times that cannot be served by a SpaceX rideshare, it may well be worth paying a premium to Rocket Labs.

BTW, Rocket Labs also received US government support. Almost half of their commercial launches have been wholly or partially dedicated to US government payloads.


Re: Why is that name not familiar ?

Because compared to SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket, the Rocket Labs Electron is a toy. Most of those 100+ satellites have been very small Cubesats. Max payload to LEO is currently 300kg in theory, although most launches have been well below that. Total payload flown to LEO to date is under 2 tonnes, released over 17 successful launches starting in 2018 (he had one failure during a commercial mission).

Compare this to SpaceX. Falcon 9 and Falcon 9 heavy have 112 successful flights (with 2 failures) commencing in 2010. The standard payload for Falcon 9 is 15,600kg. They had a single flight that launched 143 satellites.

Of course, it's still incredibly impressive that he managed to build a launcher capable of sending satellites into orbit. And even though it's far more expensive than a SpaceX launch on a per kilo basis, it's probably cheaper and easier to get a single mini-sat launched by Rocket Lab.

Airline software super-bug: Flight loads miscalculated because women using 'Miss' were treated as children


Re: Not necessarily.


You remember Antoine Roccamora, half black, half Samoan, used to call him Tony Rocky Horror?


Yeah, maybe. Fat, right?


I wouldn't go so far as to call the brother fat, I mean he got a weight problem. What's the [man] gonna do? He's Samoan.

SpaceX small print on Starlink insists no Earth government has authority or sovereignty over Martian activities


Re: Remember 1776 ......

Do some more, it's the funniest extended piece of movie dialogue of all time. Here's a link for the entire thing: https://sluggerotoole.com/2018/04/18/strange-women-lying-in-ponds-distributing-swords-is-no-basis-for-a-system-of-government/

Apropos of this topic:

King Arthur: Then who is your lord?

Peasant Woman: We don’t have a lord.

King Arthur: What?

Dennis: I told you, we’re an anarcho-syndicalist commune. We take it in turns to act as sort of executive officer for the week…

King Arthur: Yes…

Dennis: …but all the decisions of that officer have to be ratified at a special bi-weekly meeting…

King Arthur: Yes I see…

Dennis: …by a simple majority in the case of purely internal affairs…

King Arthur: Be quiet!

Dennis: …but by a two thirds majority in the case of more…

King Arthur: Be quiet! I order you to be quiet!

Peasant Woman: “Order”, eh? Who does he think he is?

King Arthur: I am your king.

Peasant Woman: Well, I didn’t vote for you.

Of course we know how it's all going to end:

Arthur: [shakes Dennis] Shut up!

Dennis: Oh! Come and see the violence inherent in the system! Help, help, I’m being repressed!

Tablets and Chromebooks are hot, towers and desktops are not: El Reg combs through Q3 PC numbers


My children were 11 and 6 last summer when our school district announced school would be online only until winter (now extended indefinitely). The younger one got a new Chromebook. The older one wanted to build a machine he could also game on, so he used the same amount to spe a secondhand Dell Optiplex 9020, an SSD (at my insistence), and a webcam. I supplied the monitor, keyboard and mouse from my old stuff. It's been interesting watching the order in which he purchased upgrades from his allowance. In order, a graphics card (a 1650 Super), RGB light strip, gaming mouse, an RGB mechanical keyboard, video light, external microphone. Spend to date is $515.

Developer survey: C# losing ground to JavaScript, PHP and Java for cloud apps, still big in gaming


This one goes to < 11

C# is least popular in data science, machine learning and mobile, the report added. The categories of web and cloud are not mentioned in the context of C#, indicating middling usage, whereas JavaScript, Java and PHP score strongly in those areas.

Reminds me of something. Oh yes, here we go...

Ian Faith: The Boston gig has been cancelled...

David St. Hubbins: What?

Ian Faith: Yeah. I wouldn't worry about it though, it's not a big college town.

Google adopts ‘value-neutral’ language to make selfies less about ‘beauty’


Wait what?

More than 70 percent of photos taken on Androids use the front-facing camera.

Can this possibly be true? The level of societal narcissism this implies is... Oh, right. Carry on.

Microsoft will release a web browser for Linux next month. Repeat, Microsoft will release a browser for Linux – and it uses Google's technology


Re: A web browser based on Chrome by MS

Try Fennec F-Droid if you prefer the previous version of Firefox for Android. Because it actually is the previous version of Firefox for Android with a few of the more annoying bits removed.

Howdy, er, neighbor – mind if we join you? Potential sign of life spotted in Venus's atmosphere


xkcd coverage


Apple to Epic: Sue me? No, sue you, pal!



They've been vocally unhappy about the 30% and giving up control since day 1. They actually pulled the game off Google's store for almost two years in favor of sideloading from their own store. Google slowly made it somewhat harder and scarier to sideload, so Epic eventually gave in.

You'd think 1.8bn users a day would be enough for Zuck. But no. Oculus fans must sign up for Facebook


Facebook + Zuck + Oculus =


What do you call megabucks Microsoft? No really, it's not a joke. El Reg needs you



Or keep the name, but reduce the font: <small>Microsoft</small> to indicate its relative importance these days.

It's Terpin time: Bloke who was SIM jacked twice by Bitcoin thieves gets green light to sue telco for millions


Normal practice in the USA for a case like this is for the law firm to absorb most or all of the costs against their expected share (typically 30%) of the eventual payout. This is known as a contingency fee basis. If his law firm is insisting on a pay as you go basis, that's a good indication they don't believe there is a reasonable chance of a large verdict or settlement.

Speaking of settlements, usually once pre-trial maneuvers like the one reported on here have failed, the defendant company will seek to settle. All the lawyers want to settle, the plaintiff's for the certainty of a payout and the defendant to avoid a major business risk. Sometimes the sides will let it go to a trial if they feel they have a potentially decisive argument. But if this actually goes all the way to a jury or judge's final decision, it means one of the parties has decided to overrule their lawyers to prove a point.

Your McDonald's demo has expired. For full functionality, please purchase a licence or try another fast-food joint


Re: "those content to let their vehicles smell like ground-up cow."

I imagine that would be diesel for the last few minutes. And they probably actually did it to increase starting reliability.

Astroboffins may have raged at Elon's emissions staining the sky, but all those satellites will be more boon than bother


We'll get there yet

The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.

- William Gibson, Neuromancer (1984)

The only question is whether anyone will still remember analog TV snow when we do.

Weird flex but OK... Motorola's comeback is a $1,500 Razr flip-phone with folding 6.2" screen


Re: "Like the Model T, it comes in just black."

Young'ers read?

Stalker attacks Japanese pop singer – after tracking her down using reflection in her eyes


Enhance 34 to 36

Any excuse to link to https://typesetinthefuture.com/2016/06/19/bladerunner/

If you are a fan of Blade Runner, Ridley Scott, typography, design, or just humour in general, please visit.

Details of the ESPER sequence are about midway. Beginning with

After his ineffectual piano playing, Deckard decides that it’s time to study Leon’s photographs in more detail. In doing so, Blade Runner gives us perhaps the Ur Example of popular crime trope the Enhance Button, via the suspiciously amazing ESPER Machine:

This chunky-looking gadget is a voice-controlled photographic enhancer with an almost supernatural ability to follow its controller’s verbal instructions. When Deckard inserts Leon’s photo into the ESPER and asks it to enhance 224 to 176, it diligently enhances 197 to 334 as requested:

Second MoD Airbus Zephyr spy drone crashes on Aussie test flight


"It was being flown from Wyndham"

Should have launched from Claravale instead. It's only 600km away.

P.S. I looked at a map of the area to see if there was a Calmford or such nearby. What I found is there is only nothing nearby.

Introducing 'freedom gas' – a bit like the 2003 deep-fried potato variety, only even worse for you


Re: Freedom Gas...

When Gene Wilder died in 2016, they did a short re-release of Blazing Saddles in major US cities. I took my then 7-year-old son to see it after a lengthy explanation of satire and the history of US race relations. The latter of which, having grown up in Chicago, he was not fully unaware.

After all that, he still liked it. Especially Mongo and the fart jokes.

I say, Eaton boys are flogging spare capacity on data centre UPS systems to keep lights on in Ireland


Re: Really?

Of course it won't help if the whole grid is out of capacity. But it should work for the much more common scenario of local shortfalls that require voltage regulation or very short term bridge capacity while power is shunted from another part of the grid. So more of a using your fire extinguishers to put out the fire in your neighbour’s garage kind of thing.

It could even help the whole grid situation if the shortfall is small and it's enough to keep things going for a few minutes until peaker plants can be brought up.

The cost does seem silly high though, at that price it would be more economical to build dedicated grid backup batteries.