* Posts by James Micallef

2173 publicly visible posts • joined 12 Jul 2007

'Panama papers' came from email server hack at Mossack Fonseca

James Micallef Silver badge

Re: Pre-Filtered, so who is under duress

US financial laws are incredibly lax, in practically all the states it's possible to set up a company while hiding the beneficial owner. Delaware is a particularly notable culprit. US leaders and businessmen can very easily set up their shell companies at home.

Tesla books over $8bn in overnight sales claims Elon Musk

James Micallef Silver badge

Re: I know a few people who put in their orders.

Technically, free of charge at the supercharger as part of the purchase price, but of course that's factored into the price. So the consumer has already paid for the electricity up front.

NSA boss reveals top 3 security nightmares that keep him awake at night

James Micallef Silver badge

So, actually, (3), "the terror-rists" isn't actually a threat, just him worrying that a specific group of people will act on threats (1) and (2).

More importantly, the way to mitigate threats 1 and 2 is strong encryption and data security implemented by private individuals and corporations, which is the exact opposite of what the 3-letter agencies are asking for.

Scariest climate change prediction yet: More time to eat plane food

James Micallef Silver badge

Re: Surely it wil average out

That was my first thought as well. The article fudges around the issue with this quote :

"The good news is that eastbound flights will be boosted by stronger tailwinds, but not enough to compensate for the longer westbound journeys. The net result is that round trip journeys will significantly lengthen."

I have no idea why the westbound journeys should be longer - something to do with earth's rotation?

Robots. Machine learnin', 3D-printin' AI robots: They'll take our jobs – Davos

James Micallef Silver badge

Re: Who owns the A.I. ?

"when the super-rich and corporations own all the A.I. and robots"

Keep in mind that while the super-rich own a disproportionate amount of corporate shares, the vast majority of corporations are actually owned by pension funds, mutual funds etc for whom the ultimate beneficiaries are middle-class workers with some savings*. The real problem isn't ownership 'per se', it's ownership structure whereby the super-rich can own 5% of a company and be able to take all the decisions, while the other 95% is owned by hundreds of thousands of individuals through several layers of funds and money managers such that they have no say in the running of the company, while the multiple in-between layers extract most of the value.

*ie, us, probably valid for 90%+ of El Reg members

Old jet bits, Vader's motorbike gear, sonic oddness: Hats off to Star Wars' creative heroes

James Micallef Silver badge

Re: Interesting

MacGyver's version would actually work!

What the world needs now is Pi, sweet $5 Raspberry Pi Zero

James Micallef Silver badge

Many people, and especially most techie people, will have some spares lying around, at the very least mouse, keyboard, power supply (aka mobile phone charger), SD card, that's at least £8 off the bill

James Micallef Silver badge

Re: Overpriced

Re "late to market"

I suspect it's been released today to coincide with Thanksgiving and thus be able to make terrible puns about pi(e)

Nest defends web CCTV Cam amid unstoppable 24/7 surveillance fears

James Micallef Silver badge

That's a problem with pretty much every modern bit of kit, there isn't a true "off", it's basically always on and either in standby or full working mode. I can't even remember the last bit of kit I've seen that has a real, physical on/off switch, ie that breaks an electric circuit that hard-switches-off the device. Nowadays what seems to happen is you press a button which sends a software-level or firmware-level instruction to go to standby or shutdown.

We've gotten used to trusting device makers that standby and shutdown really do what they say, but its perfectly possible for all sorts of devices to be silently on when you think they're off. That's why recommended anti-spying practise with mobiles isn't to just turn them off but remove the battery.

Grow up, judge tells EFF: You’re worse than a complaining child

James Micallef Silver badge

Re: The Judge is right ...

a) "human rights" include things like liberty and free speech, which are abstract concepts not physical things. The Internet is a physical thing (as IT professionals more than anyone else should know) and Internet access is simply a possible channel for these rights, which nevertheless can be exercised even without Internet. So while I can consider Internet access to be very important, it is a bit of a stretch to include it as a 'human right'. Otherwise by the same logic, one could argue that good roads, mobile phone connectivity and a functioning metro system are human rights.

b) "human rights", strictly, do not exist in the way they are often presented, ie as 'innate', 'inalienable' etc*. They are simply standards that some humans drew up based on their view of morality, that a bunch of other humans then agreed to follow. Some humans now do not follow the guidelines, the guidelines might change over time, and there is no guarantee that these 'rights' will hold at any time in the future. As expressed far batter than I ever could by George Carlin with respect to Japanese-Americans in WW2

* 'god-given' ???

James Micallef Silver badge

Re: @ Ole Juul (was: To opine or not)

erm, telephone isn't a guaranteed delivery mechanism either. There's just differing degrees of reliability.

France's 3-month state of emergency lets govt censor the web

James Micallef Silver badge

Re: @James Micallef They had this ready?

Yeah, OK right or left is a lazy label, and it could have been far-left as easily as far-right. It was best put by whoever said that both far left and far right go right round and meet on the other side.

James Micallef Silver badge
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They had this ready?

Since the attacks happened less than a week ago, and it's pretty much impossible for proper new legislation to have been drafted in 4 days*, I can only conclude that some right-wing totalitarian organisation already had this draft legislation ready to pull out at the first opportunity. That type of taking advantage of tragedy is absolutely effin' disgusting.

*Also keeping in mind that the people with most experience in such matters would have spent the last few days doing actual anti-terror work rather than drafting legislation

Indiana Jones whips Bond in greatest movie character poll

James Micallef Silver badge

Re: Limited

"10.The Dude - The Big Lebowski

Never heard of him."

The Dude, is, like, well, The Dude, man. You dig?

Uber Australia is broke: 'We don't pay tax because we don't generate revenue'

James Micallef Silver badge

Re: Fuck off Uber.

"I'm all for [Uber] shaking up incumbents, as long as they are playing on a level field."

Them or anyone else. Uber is a taxi-booking company. So they use technology to enable their business? So what? Banks, financial services, insurance, countless other industries use innovative technology to enable their business. That doesn't make them technology companies. Asking for an exemption in this respect is taking the piss.

As to the profit being exported to Netherlands, i don't see that either. Punters are not paying X to the cab driver for the ride and Y to Uber Netherlands for a booking fee, they pay X+Y to Uber Australia who then passes on X to the driver. Under what criteria does Uber Aus pass on Y to Uber Netherlands, if it's not profit-exporting for tax avoidance purposes. It might be technically legal but it's a legal loophole that needs to be slammed shut, and if Uber*'s fingers get caught in the door, tough luck.

*substitute Starbucks, Chevron, Amazon etc as required

James Micallef Silver badge

Re: It beggars belief...

"is a driver who, for instance, accepts a fare each way on their regular commute acting as an enterprise?"

As I understand from the very broad definition, If you're getting paid, it's an enterprise. If you're not getting paid, it's a car share.

ISIS operates a crypto help desk – report

James Micallef Silver badge

Re: ''deranged sys admins''

Insane / crazy / deranged / mad etc are literally a connotation of mental illness. ie something is wrong in the brain hardware, this is stuff that cannot be fixed or needs heavy medication to control. These terms are also very often used to describe people where something is wrong with their belief systems ie their internal mental map of the universe is screwed up.

I believe there is absolutely nothing wrong with the jihadis' brain hardware and thought processes. If someone's truly and deeply held beliefs are (there's an all powerful god who hates those who don't obey and wants them killed, and those who kill the infidels will be highly rewarded for eternity in heaven, which definitely exists) then it is indeed a logical and perfectly sane thought structure that will lead them to go blow themselves up in a crowd.

Of course it also requires huge levels of cognitive dissonance to be able to hold those beliefs while living in the real world, but hey, humans are ace at cognitive dissonance. The good news is that these people are fuelled by bad ideas, which are possible to fight back against using good ideas, not more bombs.

James Micallef Silver badge

" were foiled as jihadis moved to crypto communications platforms."

the jihadis moved to encrypted platforms years ago, we were told this after Charlie Hebdo, we were told the same after London, same after Madrid, same after 9/11, same even after much earlier attacks eg Oklahoma City. Snowden's leaks showed that NSA were already in possession of jihadi anti-surveillance manuals, which had exactly the same tips and tricks as the NSA/GCHQ gave to their own agents.

Truth is that unscrupulous people with their own power-grabbing agenda will use any opportunity including (or even especially) tragedies with large loss of life to further their agenda and grab more power. Nothing has changed.

James Micallef Silver badge

Re: "university education"

University education no longer requires critical thinking, for many courses rote learning will do, or is indeed required

'Shut down the parts of internet used by Islamic State masterminds'

James Micallef Silver badge

Re: Well that's a good solution

"Sweep up everyone's internet connection records and filter them for connections to the suspicious site. That's pretty much exactly the plan for the snooper's charter in the UK."

Or else instead of a new snooper's charter to sweep up everyone's internet connection records, get a warrant, and give a list of server addresses to ISPs and ask for who is connecting to those servers. Which you can do with existing legislation.

Bottom line is that I haven't seen anything in the new 'land-grab' of powers that will give a concrete advantage in anti-terror over existing legislation. It's just 'collect more data now, we'll sort it out later'. more haystacks for the same number of needles.

James Micallef Silver badge

Re: Well that's a good solution

"My question would be is it an appropriate response?"

Well, given that questions around electronic surveillance are very topical, a sensible solution might be something like:

- Monitor interwebs for suspicious content (this can be done through search-engine-spider techniques, no need for blanket surveillance, and more importantly, no need for further legislation)

- Where suspicious activity is found, DON'T shut the site down, but monitor more intensively (again, no new legislation or powers needed). Most importantly, instead of gathering everyone's data and searching for needles in a billion haystacks, you're at least searching in just a couple of haystacks.

- Where more intensive monitoring of a site detects potentially dangerous people, you get a warrant for full surveillance, which should be both electronic and where possible physical (still something that can be done through existing warrants and legislation, and still something that can be done without trawling everyone's data)

- On the ground, don't rely on e-surveillance but in action some good old-fashioned on-the-ground police work. Instead of spending billions on expanding useless data trawling, spend it on hiring and training policemen. (Again, no new draconian laws required, no new powers, no data slurping infrastructure)

If you look at 9/11, Madrid, London, Paris etc what's common? Most or all the perps were either natives or living in the country legally, most of them were already known to security services, there just weren't the resources to keep tabs on all of them. So instead of spending extra resources to try to find more potential terrorists (who you then can't keep tabs on anyway, not even having the resources to keep tabs on the ones you already know about), isn't it better to spend any extra resources on boots-on-the-ground policing? Even if you can't gather evidence and make arrests, letting some people know they are being watched might be enough to disrupt operations and/or dissuade them from doing anything stupid*.

*because, I suspect that a good number of people actually carrying out terror attacks are just confused youths brainwashed on whatever BS is fed to them, while the real masterminds stay well away from the 'glory' of martyrdom.

Hold on, France and Russia. Anonymous is here to kick ISIS butt

James Micallef Silver badge

Re: No, it's worse

" the case for Islam being in need of a Reformation"

Completely true, although let's keep in mind that the Christian Reformation, while bringing to an end the excesses of the Crusades and the Inquisition, was itself a process that took a couple of centuries and also involved much sectarian bloodshed.

I can only hope that in the Internet age, the quicker spreading of ideas allows medieval thinking to be enlightened faster than the medieval thinking is poisoning susceptible minds. After all it is evident in many other areas, while people as individuals can and do change, wholesale changes in social attitudes don't. What really happens is youth are exposed to new ideas and old people set in their thinking eventually die out

James Micallef Silver badge

"You do know that the two biggest mass murderers of all time (Mao and Stalin) were atheists, right?"

In the context being used here, "religion" = any belief system that fosters an "us vs them" mentality in which the "them" are un-humans to be eliminated. Quite often the leaders of such religion do not themselves believe it, or believe it only enough (doublethink) to further their ends. Mao and Stalin's type of communism is exactly a religion as being discussed here. I also include extreme nationalism in this category*.

Let's be clear, there will always be megalomaniac sociopaths who will do everything in their manipulative power to reach their ends, this type of "religion" for them is a tool to brainwash the masses. If people no longer have a "religion" (as being used in this context), this cannot be used against them to manipulate them.

*Religion since the alleged superiority of the particular ideology, nation, race etc is taken as an article of faith that clear^ly falls apart on the first application of critical thought.

James Micallef Silver badge

"While they use Islam as a cover for their actions, the ISIS murderers are not Muslims. Their beliefs have been distorted, in the same way that all have over history."

I think that "beliefs have been distorted" statement needs to be qualified. Killing of blasphemers and apostates, stoning adulterers to death, killing infidels in determined circumstances, being judged by religious and not civil law (essentially a merging of church and state) ... all of these are part of Islam, no distortions. Either majorities or significantly large minorities of Muslims agree with many or all of the above-mentioned beliefs.

Certainly the more civilised Muslims do not agree with or live by that sort of code, just as modern civilised Roman Catholics use contraception and modern Jews no longer dispense Old Testament 'Eye for an eye' justice. But it's actually modern Roman Catholics, Jews etc who have 'distorted' the literal biblical teachings that were inhumane, intolerant and stupid to come up with a set of beliefs that work in modern society. With Islam, the same needs to happen, and until the vast majority of Muslims* adapt their interpretation of Islam to one more in keeping with living in a modern civilised society, problems like ISIS will continue to happen.

*I'm talking 99% here, as opposed to currently 70-80% in the most progressive muslim countries down to probably 20-30% or even less in some places

Terrorists seek to commit deadly 'cyber attacks' in UK, says Chancellor Osborne

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Re: Die Hard 4.0

@jetsetjim, and @Tony Haines - thanks both for the clarifications - I had indeed seen the first article but not the second

James Micallef Silver badge

Re: Die Hard 4.0

"The "no liquids" rule, as ridiculous as it is and unlikely to prevent much was enacted after a real plot in London, UK to smuggle liquid explosive in soda bottles"

That is correct, however the security forces vastly overestimated the potential harm done. I can't remember where I saw it, but a real chemist did a detailed analysis of the 'binary liquid explosives' behind that plot and found that either combing the 2 liquids properly required a couple of hours to 'cook up' in lab conditions (not something you could get away with in an aircraft toilet) or else the liquids would need to be pre-combined in which case they would be so unstable that they would explode on the way to the airport.

In other words the "They would then construct the devices mid-flight and detonate them" bit is a complete fantasy

James Micallef Silver badge

Re: Die Hard 4.0


"mythical "binary liquid explosive" from Die Hard 2"

That would be 'Die Hard with a vengeance (the one with Samual L Jackson), not given a number, but the 3rd in the series. Not Die Hard 2 (the one in the airport)


James Micallef Silver badge

""If our electricity supply, or our air traffic control, or our hospitals were successfully attacked online, the impact could be measured not just in terms of economic damage but of lives lost.""

Just don't connect the ATC, hospitals', power stations etc to anywhere online. Is it that hard? after all, these systems worked fine 'off-line' for decades before the internet even existed

Apple supremo Tim Cook rules out OS X fondleslab, iOS merger

James Micallef Silver badge

Re: Only Half The Story

"In what way is OS X being "slowly and carefully deprecated through sheer neglect?" "

It IS true that in the last 2 major updates of OSX, the only significant features were to either improve iOS integration, or to deprecate an OSX App (iPhoto) in favour of an iOS App (Photo). However I think the reason isn't so much that OSX is being neglected, as that OSX is already a full-feature OS, what more can you really add to it??

I agree that iOS will continue to gain features (multitasking, anyone?) until it reaches a stage where for 80% of people who ever need to use any computing device, iOS will be sufficient. at that point you can have an iOS-based phone, tablet or laptop/tablet hybrid without ever needing to touch OSX.

But what Cook is probably saying here is that there will always be a separate OSX for 'serious' users

The million-dollar hole in the FBI 'paying CMU to crack Tor' story

James Micallef Silver badge

Or rather, the PR flak is kept in the dark so that he can genuinely and truthfully say "I'm not aware of any payment".

How about that same question is asked to the financial controller rather than the PR hack?

iPad data entry errors caused plane to strike runway during takeoff

James Micallef Silver badge

Re: Using toys as tools...


Thanks for the clarification, I understand at least where you are coming from with iPad being 'least worst' solution.

As a general concept I'm still confused about this, though. The planes were generally flying fine before additional upgrades, additional computerisation etc. I would presume that any additional computer gubbins added later will have been tested to airplane-safety standards, including any interface between the plane and any external device.

I bloody well hope that Being, Airbus etc don't just allow a tablet to connect and give control inputs, there's got to be some well-engineered spec on the aircraft side. In which case why aren't the plane manufacturers providing a custom interface (something like the center console screen on a Tesla) rather than allow tablet + apps to control their systems?

Or are there a host of on-board computers that are developed / maintained separately by airlines or 3rd party providers that the plane manufacturers have no control over?

The alternative is that, as some other posters mentioned above, is that the tablets are used for pre-flight checks, easy access to documentation etc. So, if the tablets are really being used only for non-critical stuff, iPad and Surface are equally good. If they are being used as control screens for critical flight computers, then neither is good enough.

James Micallef Silver badge

Re: Using toys as tools...

Firstly I would keep in mind that any essential flight equipment needs to be supplied and maintained by the airline. Using personal-use devices for essential flight procedures ia an automatic fail, whoever the supplier and whatever the device/OS. Using a pilot's personal BYOD as required flight equipment is open to all sorts of problems, whatever the device (though I concede some devices might be less so than others). If it's done properly, any such equipment would be supplied / maintained / configured by the airline and properly locked down and configured.

Keeping that in mind, to address your points:

1) They need a product that will last the trip, even if the charger dies.

If they're using it as a pre-flight data input, not necessary. If needed and essential through all the flight, there should be backup, whether it's an extra charger or extra device. Manufacturer / OS is irrelevant

2) They need a product with a rich and vibrant software ecosystem and numerous developers that are familiar with writing software for that device.

I'm sure there are plenty of developers for both iOS and Windows

3) They need a device that is stable, not rebooting unexpectedly, throwing random driver errors, downloading so many patches it stops working because it filled up primary storage or any of the millions of other reasons why a stock Windows device will bite the dust where an iOS device won't.

AFAIK Windows Surface devices are pretty stable and can be set up to not auto-update, and would be so set up as a corporate device. As I pointed out in the beginning, if it's a personal device that's an automatic fail anyway.

4) They need a device which will work with $external_device or $external_interface; in the mobile world, that always means iOS support.


5) They need a device that anyone can use over the course of generations without retraining.

That's as valid for Windows as it is for iOS

6) They especially need to never have to fear that a future update will completely change the UI, application compatibility or so forth in a radical fashion.

Surely the important thing is that the App and/or program has a consistent interface, not so much the device?

7) They doubly especially need to be able to trust that the device won't apply game-changing updates without permission or snuck in as "important" or "critical" updates.

See (3)

8) They may have security concerns that require information entered to not be scraped and sent back to the mothership. The exacting details of a plane's takeoff, landing, flight path, etc all seem like things I'd like to keep secret.

See (3)

Of course, there could be other reasons why iPads are the tablet of choice, my guess is first mover advantage, they started with iPads and kept on with them, the choice was already made long before a suitable Surface device existed (which does not mean that the latest Surface couldn't be used instead).

And to reply to the previous poster asking why not use Surface if easier data entry is required and accidental input is undesirable, I'm pretty sure that keyboards and covers exist for the iPad.

Bottom line, this has NOTHING to do with the device and EVERYTHING to do with incorrect procedures (no double-checking of the inputs) and human error.

Today's exoplanet weather: 1,000°C, glass rain, 8,700 km/h winds

James Micallef Silver badge

Re: I wonder how much longer it'll be around?

Kudos for the calculations and all, but I can't really appreciate any of it since my brain is still frozen on the "they measured windspeed on another planet?!?!?!?" part.

Well done, boffins!

UK's super-cyber-snoop shopping list: Internet data, bulk spying, covert equipment tapping

James Micallef Silver badge

Re: Cautiously optimistic [Emergency provision]

"The Home Sec handled something like 1400 requests last year"

And if the Home Sec who presumably has a lot of other things on his/her plate needs to OK that volume of requests, what are the odds that each request is being properly reviewed and considered rather than simply rubber-stamped?

Volkswagen: 800,000 of our cars may have cheated in CO2 tests

James Micallef Silver badge

Re: @James Micallef

@Just Enough - Oh yes I have been keeping up.

Nice of Prof. Dr. Winterkorn to issue an apology, but that needs to come from every board manager and top manager. Also 'personally' , so, not on behalf of VAG group?

Also "I accept responsibility" in this case is a meaningless platitude since responsibility entails accountability. His accountability was to make sure he had his golden parachute before jumping.

As I mentioned in the original point, saying sorry is basically meaningless, just the decent thing to do. The meaningful thing is accountability, and that means resign without payoff. Everyone involved should leave in a civilian equivalent of the army's dishonourable discharge.

James Micallef Silver badge

Re: Numbers...

Given a max 1/3 engine efficiency would get the theoretical consumption to 38 km/l or 2.85l/100km. Add an extra say 20% for friction, rolling resistance etc gives reasonable targets of around 3.4l/100km and CO2 emissions of 80g/km.

In the end hybrid and electrical will be much more efficient even for performance cars

James Micallef Silver badge

"deeply regrets "

I am sick of seeing these weasel words. 'Regret' implies sadness that something happened, it is not an apology, and it skirts around responsibility.

When is the board and upper management going to say out load what is clear to everyone else:

- "we are sorry" - an apology not a 'regret'. It doesn't fix anything but it's the decent civilised thing to do

- "this happened on our watch so whether we were in on it or not, we are responsible and accountable" - responsibility and accountability including identifying those responsible and firing them, and following that an en masse resignation or firing of anyone who should have known, with not a cent paid to anyone

Sennheiser announces €50,000 headphones (we checked, no typos)

James Micallef Silver badge

Re: 1%?

" an indication their richness is pretend or at best new"

'Net worth' is very different from 'richness' - being rich for me means having enough income from non-employment sources to at least cover all your expenses. A city banker making $1M a year with mortgage, loan repayments, lifestyle expenses etc of $1M a year is just a hamster on a (very expensive) treadmill, stop 'running' and they would go bankrupt in a few months.

James Micallef Silver badge

"The accompanying amplifier... "

So is the 50 Gs for headphones only or for headphones+amplifier?

And if it's only for the headphones, then what has Carrara marble got to do with the price, since it's the amp that's made from Carrara marble, not the phones??

Intel puts cash behind Wi-Fi-first smartmobes

James Micallef Silver badge

sort of makes sense

WiFi is becoming ubiquitous, and usually even where you have to pay for it, it's cheaper than mobile data*. At the same time VoIP is getting better, and it's already more worthwhile for me to buy a data package only with no sms or call minutes, use VoIP and internet-based messaging, and pay for calls / sms individually and as required.

I still see cell network being very relevant for mobile data (which will get cheaper as it's forced to compete more with WiFi) and 'guaranteed quality' and emergency calls. But smartphones SHOULD be optimised for WiFi

* excepting some hotels that charge extortionate rates, but nowadays in most places paid-for wifi is provided by third parties, often the phone operators themselves, at reasonable cost

Alumina in glass could stop smartphones cracking up

James Micallef Silver badge

"Isn't that what they call "victim blaming" these days?"

No, it's called "taking responsibility"

How do you anonymize personal databases and protect people's privacy – over to you, NIST

James Micallef Silver badge

Re: Who is Bradley Cooper?

"Can't you pick someone better known to show getting into a NY cab, like Elvis?"

Elvis is the one driving the cab, but shhhhhh don't tell anyone, don't want to blow his cover!

Now VW air-pollution cheatware 'found in Audis and Porsches'

James Micallef Silver badge

Re: Is anybody surprised by now?

Not only "Is anybody surprised by now?", but "why is this news?"

The very first press release by VAG specified cars from the Volkswagen group had this issue, it was immediately clear that all the rest of their brands were involved.

The only bit of news for me is... Porsche make diesel-engined cars???

Insurance companies must start buying security companies

James Micallef Silver badge

Re: Do you have to buy a business to understand it?

Insurances don't buy shipping companies etc because risks to shipping, automobiles, life, health, natural disasters and so on have been around for a very long time. Shipping insurance was the very first type of insurance and has been around since the times of Colombus. So insurance companies already have tons of in-house experience with the risks involved in all these domains.

Digital threats are something far newer, and most insurance companies do not have any idea how to calculate risks and potential liabilities. So they simply don't supply this form of insurance (which is why it's possible to insure your physical laptop but not the data inside it). In this sense, buying in the necessary expertise is a shortcut to having to build up that capability internally.

Regarding the 'coolness' of IT, having worked at an insurer myself I know that most of it is the 'same old' boring stuff. But there are divisions (such as natural disaster forecasting*) that are doing real bleeding edge IT.

*a bit off topic here, but I've always thought that insurances are a good place to find some home truths about climate change. These guys really need to forecast the possibility of disasters and their potential cost correctly or they're out of business. Seeing how these guys treat climate change scenarios is one more pointer that man-made climate change is real and it's costly**

**for me the jury is still out on whether that's more costly than the 'anti-carbon' efforts. Probably not, though

Safe Harbor 2.0: Judges to keep NSA spying in check – EU justice boss

James Micallef Silver badge

Re: Carp

"Will the US judges... "

And that's the problem right there. There needs to be oversight from the EU, otherwise it's just passing US self-regulation from one office to another.

Dad who shot 'snooping vid drone' out of the sky is cleared of charges

James Micallef Silver badge

Re: @Robert Helpmann??

Firstly, there needs to be a more nuanced discussion than simply using the word 'guns'. There are 2 countries in the 'western' world with comparable* levels of gun ownership as US. These are Canada and Switzerland. However in Canada the majority of guns are hunting weapons, in Switzerland these are military weapons that people have from compulsory military service and have very strict (and very strictly observed) rules around carrying, storage and transport. In the US, the vast majority of guns are handguns that are relatively easy to carry on one's person and/or conceal and/or kept readily accessible as 'self-defence' in homes.

I think this a major key. Gun advocates say that high gun ownership promotes deterrence, that no-one is willing to commit a gun crime because anyone else might pull a gun on them. But I think in reality, all it promotes is that baddies carry bigger and more guns, and are less inclined to show restraint to bystanders, exactly because the bystanders could be armed.

The other big key is a deep-rooted social fear. No two ways about it, black people and white people in US are afraid of each other. Not in the xenophobic European 'I'm afraid they will take my jobs' kind of way, but in a paranoid 'they will kill me if they get a chance' kind of way. Not, of course, everyone and everywhere, but enough to make a huge difference in firearm murders.

*Still less than US, but not order-of-magnitudes less as in all Western Europe

James Micallef Silver badge

Re: not allowed access to firearms

"Anti-gun laws here in the US are successful in depressing levels of gun ownership but not in lowering relative incidence of their use in crime "

Of course, because if there are strict gun laws in one state you can just go buy them in another.

" there does not seem to be a correlation between gun ownership levels and gun crime levels in the US"

Maybe not across the US, but again that is because guns are easily mobile across state borders. Comparing US with non-US it is very clear that gun crime in US is order of magnitude higher than that of other civilised countries.

" identifying and addressing the root causes of violent crime might be a little more to the point"

Here I agree with you, however this is only a part of the solution, with limiting access to firearms being the other.

James Micallef Silver badge

Re: He claims it never flew below 200ft.

<<But in 2015, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) asserts its right to all airspace.

"The FAA is responsible for the safety and management of US airspace from the ground up," Les Dorr, an FAA spokesman told Ars in a statement on Friday.

Peter Sachs, a Connecticut-based attorney, private investigator and drone advocate, concurred.

"There is no defined aerial trespass law," he told Ars. "You do not own the airspace over your own property.">>

Interesting part of the above-linked article. If you don't own airspace over your own property "from the ground up", that would technically mean that a hovercraft could pass right through since it is actually 'flying' just above the ground without touching it.

That is clearly bollocks that the lawyer is talking, since FAA statement says they are responsible for "safety and management " from the ground up. Private property rules still apply.

James Micallef Silver badge

Re: Bullit County

"But the situation was not similar"

The drone was over his property = trespass. If someone was physically there, the owner would be fully entitled to ask the trespasser to leave, and forcefully eject him if not complied with. In this case it isn't clear whether he could identify / communicate with the drone pilot, I'm guessing not.

The guy was fully entitled to forcibly eject the drone from his property. Now, maybe it's possible that the guy could have used some non-fatal (to the drone) way of bringing it down, but probably not. So shooting it down should be OK.

The only reason I would censure the shooter would be if for example the trajectory of the shot got bits of shot on a public area where they could hurt someone (which I guess is the 'endangerment' part of the charge brought against him), but that is related to correct firearm usage and not strictly related to shooting the drone down.

Brit boffins build 'tractor beam' out of sound

James Micallef Silver badge


That is one mega-cool setup. Even if it had no practical applications, it's something that should be done, simply because it can be done.

And cool. Did I mention cool?

---->>> Beers and cervezas all round ---->>>