* Posts by Cynic_999

2869 posts • joined 15 Aug 2013

Troll jailed for 5 years after swatting of Twitter handle owner ends in death

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Re: calling someone's accent British makes little sense.

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He did blow up the entire planet of Alderaan after all.

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Was that the planet he was only supposed to blow the bloody doors off?

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When I was visiting Florida, I was sometimes accused of having a Boston accent.

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Perhaps a bit like us using the term "American accent" when there is so much difference between the way people speak in New York, California and Texas.

Europe mulls anonymous crypto-wallet ban, rules to make transfers more traceable

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Should we ban cash?

Cash is the most prevalent and simple way to exchange currency anonymously. There is no easy way to track a £20 note or use it to ascertain the identity of the person who gave or received it. It is the most common method of paying for illegal goods & services, be that the sale of illicit drugs, guns or jobs carried out by people working illegally. It is the preferred method of exchange adopted by people who consider themselves law-abiding but who are not averse to committing a bit of tax fraud - e.g. "It'll cost you £100 to fix your boiler, but I'll take £80 cash-in-hand."

Perhaps it would therefore make more sense to ban cash than worry about the far smaller number of illicit transactions that take place using crypto currencies?

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Ah yes, the argument of, "Something must be done. This is something, therefore we must do it."

Gung-ho tank gamer spills classified docs in effort to win online argument

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Re: In the public domain

Ignorance of the law is indeed no defence. Ignorance of the *facts* however can be a valid defence. e.g. - you are caught with a bag of cocaine in your bag. It is no defence to say that you were unaware that possession of cocaine is a crime. It is however a valid defence to say that you were unaware that there was a bag of cocaine in your bag, or that you believed that it was a bag of talcum powder.

In this case, it would be a defence to say that the "unclassified" stamp caused the person to believe that it was not a classified document.

Conversely, ignorance of the facts can also make a legal act illegal. If you are caught selling a bag of talcum powder, but it can be proven that you thought it was a bag of cocaine, you can be convicted of a drug offence.

But if you are found to be carrying a banana, you cannot be convicted of an offence even if you erroneously believe that possession of a banana is illegal (ignorance of the law cannot make a legal act illegal).

I no longer have a burning hatred for Jewish people, says Googler now suddenly no longer at Google

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Re: This is confusing

Ther is nothing ironic about benefitting from someone's bad deeds, and nor is it in any way wrong unless you are encouraging or perpetuating such deeds.

Consider the case of a woman who conceived a child as a result of rape. That child can both condemn the act of the rapist while also being happy to have been conceived.

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Re: This is confusing

That is very true, and also a bad thing. Reading about why someone who once thought as you do decided to change their views will possibly stand the best chance of persuading you to re-evaluate your views, whether those views pertain to religion, racism, gambling, string theory or the use of wind turbines to fill our energy needs.

Cynic_999 Silver badge

Re: Shakespeare

People who have had a major change of insight or belief system very often have a lot to say on how and why it happened. I don't see anything particularly strange or suspicious about the fact that he wrote a long missive. Religious converts often write complete books about how they "saw the light".

Teen turned away from roller rink after AI wrongly identifies her as banned troublemaker

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Re: exhibit ingrained racist assumptions in the design

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I wonder what the opposite of rose tinted glasses is?

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Reality.

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Re: exhibit ingrained racist assumptions in the design

Erm ------ whooooosh ----------

Cynic_999 Silver badge

Re: exhibit ingrained racist assumptions in the design

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Physics isn't racist, it's simply physics.

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But can you prove that physics isn't racist?

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Re: Using it wrongly

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It also relies on cameras, that have also been shown to exhibit ingrained racist assumptions in the design - the cameras pick up white/pale skin traits quite well, but not darker skin where they are not very sensitive.

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This is surely more to do with the fact that visible light is inherently racist in that it refuses to to be reflected as well from dark skin as it does from white skin?

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Re: Using it wrongly

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... shouldn't that be considered as an algorithmic problem rather than a racial problem ?

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Perhaps it was a racist algorithm.

NASA fixes Hubble Space Telescope using backup power supply unit, payload computer

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Re: Congratulations

Any fule no that Startrek has plasma relays, not flux capacitors!

Impromptu game of Robot Wars sparks fire in warehouse at UK e-tailer Ocado

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Re: Shit happens..

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... entirely preventable with simple things like fuses and current/temperature monitoring of motors & batteries.

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Not if a collision causes physical damage to a battery that results in an internal short, or an arcing between wires in which the current does not exceed the fuse rating for that circuit.

Drop something metallic between your car battery's +ve terminal and the car's chassis, and you'll probably have a fire no matter how many fuses and heat sensors there are under the bonnet.

United, Mesa airlines order 200 electric 19-seater planes for short-hop flights

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Re: 250 mile range/19 passengers

Although providing such short-hops merely to allow a more convenient airport to start from would almost certainly increase the total ticket price more than most passengers would consider reasonable from a cost/benefit pov.

Plus it would increase traffic into and out of the main hub by a large amount, and so landing and takeoff slots may not be available to allow it to be offered in practice.

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Re: Unintended consequences...

Draw a circle around Leeds with a 400km radius. Are there any destinations within that circle that would be useful to you? Sorry, but Schiphol is out of range (over 460 km)

That's assuming that 400km is the aircrafts operating range rather than its total range (including mandatory reserves required for ATC delays, possible missed approach and diversions).

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Re: 250 mile range/19 passengers

That's one of the very few scenarios where it might make sense.

The other thing I was wondering is how many flights could the aircraft perform per day - which will depend on how long it takes to charge after each flight.

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Re: 250 mile range/19 passengers

Quite so. If you take into account the time spent getting to & from the airport at each end, and time spent queuing for check-in and security, driving would usually be quicker anyway.

I have also not been able to find whether that 250 miles includes the mandatory reserve required if the aircraft needs to divert. If it does not include reserve, then the destination would in most cases have to be closer than 125 miles.

How many Brits have deleted life-saving track and trace app from their phones? No idea, junior minister tells MPs

Cynic_999 Silver badge

No, it would not have been the 20 or so people who checked in at about the same time. It would have been the (probably) 100's of people who checked in after the infected person for *the rest of that day*.

Because there is no requirement to *check out* of a place, so the app assumes that the infected person remained in a place from the time they checked in until either 23:59 or the time they checked into a different place (if they did).

Of course, if they stayed at a place past midnight, the app would erroneously show them as not present after that time, so people who arrived after midnight would not be pinged.

Cynic_999 Silver badge

Re: "We have always been at War with ...

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Just for possibly being in the same room as someone who has tested positive

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It's far worse than that.

Just for waiting to cross the road when a bus containing a person who tested positive stopped at that intersection. Or having lunch at a restaurant where a person who tested positive had dinner several hours later (you are registered at having been in the restaurant until 23:59 even if you left at 18:00)

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

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Is this a good thing?

I can well believe that science may find a way to increase our average life span, but would that really be something desirable? It would result in increasing the World's population - and overpopulation is the root cause of just about all the things we see as being major problems. Pollution, energy crises, housing shortage, food problems, job shortages etc.

It would also mean that we would either have to increase the retirement age or have a huge increase in the percentage of non-productive members of society. At the end of the day I think most people would prefer a shorter life with a high standard of living than a longer life with a low standard of living. As with most things, we cannot only look at the quantity, we must also look at the quality.

(Life in any case is a sexually transmitted terminal condition).

With a straight face, Putin agrees to do something about ransomware coming out of Russia, apparently

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Re: And on the iPhone?

What you say might sound stupid, but there is indeed the bigger question of how many restrictions and limits to our freedom it is reasonable to accept "for our own good".

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Re: Huh?

A huge number of viruses and online scams originate in the USA. Does this mean that the US government must be aiding the scammers?

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Huh?

ISTM that the malware being discussed is being sent by Russian criminals rather than having anything to do with the Russian government. Threatening to commit similar criminal acts against innocent people in Russia unless the Russians stop those criminals seems a rather strange response. A bit like Wales complaining that English armed robbers are holding up banks in Cardiff, and threatening to rob banks in London unless the English police catch them.

Uncle Sam sanctions Chinese AI outfits for links to Xinjiang Uyghur human-rights abuses

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Re: Big mistake.

How dare the Chinese educate their people!

Cynic_999 Silver badge

Re: Its probably more about thinning the competition

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We all know it originated -- or at least, was first detected, in Wuhan ...

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I'm glad you added the qualification. There now appears to be quite a lot of doubt about where it actually originated, with cases being found retrospectively in other countries that predate the Wuhan outbreak by quite some time, but were not diagnosed as Covid at the time.

Blaming China for Coronavirus is in any case a bit like blaming Greta Thunberg for climate change.

After 15 years and $500m, the US Navy decides it doesn't need shipboard railguns after all

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Re: Sharks

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Dragonfire has been in development since 2017. Seems to be progressing adequately

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Really? There was supposed to be a demonstration of the weapon in 2019. How did that go?

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Re: Sharks

The temperature at the place a laser beam strikes depends on the material it strikes. The beam itself is electromagnetic radiation and thus does not contain any molecules and so cannot have any temperature.

If the beam hits a mirrored surface for example, there will be hardly any temperature increase at all. Of course, if the temperature increase is sufficient to cause burning, the material will usually become darker, thus absorbing more energy and getting hotter.

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Re: Sharks

Lasers sound like they would be devastating, but in reality they would make a very poor weapon except in a few situations. To cause significant damage to a vehicle, a laser with any practical power output would have to remain focussed on a single spot for at least a few seconds, and it would be trivial to develop a cheap effective shield (armour) for buildings (though a laser capable of doing much damage to a building would need a truck-sized generator at least to power it). White or silver paint would probably do the trick. Similarly laser-proof clothing would protect the infantry.

Cynic_999 Silver badge

Re: It’s not 15 years

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Gas turbines use something a little more like jet fuel than diesel.

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Jet fuel is paraffin (aka kerosene). Not particularly dangerous. But gas turbines can also run on diesel.

Lenovo says it’s crammed a workstation into a litre of space – less than three cans of beer

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Smallest PC ???

I am very surprised that the article did not include a photo of the PC, but surely it is not the smallest PC? This one is smaller, measuring 140 X 140 X 48 mm and there are plenty more of a similar size. Not bad specs either.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/stores/page/982BE259-AE49-474D-AF17-596F6B11CE1C

The human-devoid AI-powered Saildrone Surveyor ship just made it to Hawaii from SF

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Doesn't sound too difficult

There are plenty of single-handed sailors who have sailed many thousands of miles over many years (and are doing so right now). The decisions a single-hander needs to make and the tasks they need to carry out over a long passage are not particularly complex or difficult. With the addition of hardware that can pull on ropes and reef sails etc., automation would seem to me to be a pretty trivial task. Most small yachts these days have enough solar and/or wind generators to supply all their electrical needs. For at least a third of the time the sailor is asleep and the yacht is thus sailing itself anyway, with only AIS and/or radar watching for conflicting traffic. In case of an alert, conflict resolution involves pretty simple algorithms.

The only time a human is really needed is when entering or leaving a port or harbour - which I suspect the autonomous vessel would not do by itself. GPS solves the problem of navigation, which would otherwise be very difficult to automate. An unmanned vessel would not have to carry food or water, nor need energy for fridge, freezer or microwave oven, and so these could be replaced by the survey equipment.

Perhaps a human would be needed to look at the weather forecasts and make routing decisions to be fed to the automated vessel via radio, but OTOH it would also not be that difficult to write a program to make course decisions based on the contents of GRIB files automatically downloaded each day together with actual measurements of wind & sea state - this would be no more difficult than a program that calculates the route in a car sat-nav system which gets real-time updates of traffic congestion that it takes into account.

By far the biggest issue would be dealing with equipment failure. With no human crew, something as simple as a line coming out of a self-tailing electric winch or getting tangled in a cleat would be a show-stopper, so you'd have to redesign some basic equipment in a way that such things couldn't happen.

SteelSeries Apex Pro plays both sides of the mechanical keyboard fence – and wins

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Key spacing

One problem I find with keyboards that have fairly large gaps between the keys, and keys that stand proud of the base is that it is easy for cables (headphone, USB etc) to fall between the keys and get caught up under them.

G20 finance ministers agree plan to make multinationals pay their 'fair share' of tax

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International tax rules?

I'm not sure whether such a thing is possible in practice. Not unless we also have some sort of international exchequer.

Australian geoboffins have zoomed in and enhanced CSI-style soil analysis: Bung it in a machine, find the crime scene

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Re: Why on earth

I don't think it was the soil that was simulated. It was the fact that it was evidence from a crime scene or suspect that was simulated (i.e. it was gathered from shoes or clothing etc. then placed in an evidence bag in the same way that a CSI would have done so rather than being shovelled from the ground).

Audacity fork maintainer quits after alleged harassment by 4chan losers who took issue with 'Tenacity' name

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Why the age restriction?

I have tried but failed to think of any reason, no matter how misguided, why anyone would believe that children should not have access to an audio editor. Anyone know the stated justification for the age restriction?

DARPA nails cash to project 'FENCE' — a smart camera that only sends pics when pixels change

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Why "AI" is required

While differential video is used in MPG encoding and is nothing new, the downside of a simple pixel comparison algorithm is that it has poor compression on scenes with objects such as trees moving in the wind, clouds moving across the sky etc. A complex "AI" algorithm is required in order to differentiate between changes that are not significant and changes that are significant.

An interesting fact is that the image that we "see" is not the real-time image that enters our eyeballs by a long chalk. The signal from our retina takes a significant fraction of a second to travel along the optic nerve to the brain, and if this were fed to the processing part of our brain directly, it would arrive too late to enable us to e.g. catch a ball. So instead the real-time video signal is passed through a portion of our brain that acts as an optical pre-processor which extrapolates what the image is likely to be in a few hundred mS time, and that is the made-up image that we think we are seeing. This organic optical processor also fills in any missing pixels (e.g. in the area the optic nerve enters the retina) based on the patterns that surround the missing area and which were seen in previous "frames", and "corrects" images that seem to be inconsistent. It also creates an imaginary image to bridge the periodic complete loss of video that occurs every time we blink. There are many optical illusions that clearly show how our brain's optical processor can be fooled.

If the real image entering the eyeball subsequently proves to be different to the image our optical processor had extrapolated (i.e. events did not unfold as expected), then our *memory* of the incorrect image is *deleted* and the real image that was eventually received is substituted. This is why things can "suddenly appear out of nowhere."

Just like the reflex reaction that causes us to pull away from the source of pain even before the pain registers in our brain, a reflex reaction will cause us to close our eyes if an object is heading towards our eyes even before the image of that object has reached our brain. This is because our nerves do not act only as simple wires that carry signals from our sensory organs to our brain, but nerves also have limited processing powers that can send commands to our muscles that bypass the brain completely if they detect an "emergency" situation.

We have a *very* long way to go before technology becomes as sophisticated as the human body.

Cynic_999 Silver badge

The term for what you have just described is "motion detection." You can already buy cheap cameras that have this facility, so no need to write your own. It is not however what is described in the article.

IT manager who swindled Essex hospital trust out of £800k gets 5 years in prison

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Re: Motivation

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I do hope that when (and it is likely it will be when rather than if) he receives medical attention during his prison stay, he reflects on what that £800,000 could have paid for.

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About 100,000 masks that have to be thrown away as unsuitable? A small fraction of a test & trace app that doesn't work?

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Far too low

Had he swindled the NHS out of £300 million, he would probably have received a knighthood.

It's about time! NASA's orbital atomic clock a boon for deep space navigation – if they can get it working for long enough

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Re: Why is that accuracy necessary?

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Even if you know with certainty how many cpu cycles that took, you're timing is based on the clock frequency of the onboard cpu, which isn't accurate enough either.

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Then you don't base the delay on the CPU cycles of the CPU clock. You use the CPU to put the reply into a buffer, but use the atomic clock as a timer to decide when to release the buffer to the transmitter.

Or have a dedicated CPU (or hardware state machine) for handling pings, which has its clock derived from the on-board atomic clock instead of a normal Xtal oscillator.

Cynic_999 Silver badge

Re: Why is that accuracy necessary?

You send a signal at time X and another a short time later at time Y

The spacecraft responds to signal X and Y giving the time they were received according to its uncorrected on-board clock

The ground station uses the delay (as measured by the accurate ground clock) between sending X and receiving the reply to X to compute the distance to the space craft as it was when it received the signal. The processing delay between receiving the signal and transmitting the reply must be taken into account, but this is a known constant.

The ground station does the same when it receives the reply to signal Y. This will provide the velocity vector of the spacecraft relative to Earth.

Together with knowing the approximate position & direction of the spacecraft, doing the above over several iterations will allow the computation of successively more accurate estimates of position & direction until the required level of accuracy is achieved. It also allows the ground station to send an accurate clock update that takes the delay into acount.

Cynic_999 Silver badge

Why is that accuracy necessary?

Yes, I understand that it can take a long time for signals to reach a space craft, so *real time* updates are not possible. But surely they are not necessary? So long as the signal delay (and also change in signal delay per unit time) is known accurately, the time correction simply takes that delay into account and the onboard standard atomic clock can be accurately set no matter how long the signal takes to reach it. The on-board clock can then be used for all real-time position calculations. The on-board atomic clock just has to keep time sufficiently well to be accurate enough between updates. Even if the position and time delay are not initially known with sufficient precision, a series of "pings" to & from the spacecraft can determine the delay and speed of the craft very accurately, even if the round-trip delay of each "ping" is weeks in duration.

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Re: "Light signals can sometimes take up to 20 minutes to journey from Earth to Mars "

Hence the reason for the statement being "up to" 20 minutes rather than giving an exact time delay.

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Re: Paging Mr. Einstein...

Time dilation effects are known and can be exactly compensated for in a closed system. Clock drift is an unknown that cannot be compensated for in a closed system.

Devilish plans for your next app update ensure they never happen – unless you start praying

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Re: Crime of the century

But what happened to the old adage, "He who makes the rules can break the rules"?

Radioactive hybrid terror pigs have made themselves a home in Fukushima's exclusion zone

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Re: Last sentence ...

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A high dose of radiation in a short time will kill you. That same dose spread over a long time is perfectly natural and will have no consequence.

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Yup. Just like eating a large amount of salt at one time will kill you very quickly, but the same amount spead over a long period is not only harmless, but very necessary. Same is true of a great many substances (including water).

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Re: Last sentence ...

Radiation levels were never deemed to be lethal, just above what is deemed by Japan to be an acceptably safe level. "Safe" is based on a level that is below that which could have any detrimental effect rather than being deadly. e.g. increased probability of getting cancer over a lifetime.

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