* Posts by Ed Blackshaw

627 publicly visible posts • joined 7 Aug 2007


Miracle-tech that could fix almost everything: Major advance

Ed Blackshaw

That's all well and good...

...but I see no mention of whether it'll be able to make a decent cuppa.

Home Office publishes draft reform plan

Ed Blackshaw

That would be an NGO



Reverse engineer extracts Skype crypto secret recipe

Ed Blackshaw

Wrong analogy

"So why is it Ok for this chap to publish details of their protection system? Sounds like someone publishing the profile of my front door key."

It's more like covering up the lock on your front door with a piece of masking tape and publicly telling everyone that you've done so, then getting uppity when someone peels back that piece of masking tape and says, 'hey, that guy has a chubb lock'.

AFAIK, the private keys have not been compromised in any way.

Scotland allows collection of children's DNA

Ed Blackshaw

Except if you actually read the article

They will be retaining the DNA of children who have been found guilty of committing a violent or sexual offence. I would say that this is actually the correct purpose of a DNA database. The authoritarianism of the previous Westminster incumbents was in the fact that they retained the DNA of people who had not been found guilty of any crime.

Strato-droids to mate in upper atmos, exchange vital juices

Ed Blackshaw

You Sir,

Win the internets for this:

"Wearing the still-living skin and subcutaneous fat of human DARPA program manager Jim McCormick like a fleshy cloak, an unidentified robot-assassin spokesman stated yesterday:"

MIT boffins exhibit self-forming 'programmable matter'

Ed Blackshaw

Five amps is not a problem

As long as the voltage is low enough. If, for example, these actuators run off a potential of a few millivolts, it's not bad. If it's a normal control voltage of 5 V or 12 V, then the power consumption isn't so great. The other question would be whether they need to be powered to hold the shape once it is formed, or only when changing shape. This is the sort of thing that would have a bearing on real-world applications.

Russian spy ring bust uncovers tech toolkit

Ed Blackshaw


Is the diminutive form of Anna in Eastern Europe and Russia, in much the same way as we would call someone called William 'Billy'.

Observer columnist in online porn mixup

Ed Blackshaw

What they should do...

..Publish a retraction:

"Sorry, this story was complete rubbish. The journalist in question has had it mentioned to her that she should do something called 'research'. The sub-editor responsible for proof-reading her work has been fired. Normal service will be resumed shortly. In the mean time, here is a picture of some kittens doing something funny."

LibCons bin £2bn of late Labour projects

Ed Blackshaw

John Smith

Actually, the deficit in 1976 was £17.6bn, which fell during the Thatcher years (as a percentage of GDP). She may have got a lot of things wrong, but this is one of the things she did get right.

Maybe you're confusing deficit and debt?

Ed Blackshaw


Last year, the UK's DEFICIT (not debt, but the rate at which we are getting into MORE debt) was a smidge short of £160 billion. If your car dies, and you still owe all the money for that car, plus the previous five, you don't go and buy a Bugatti Veyron on the never-never, you cut down on the unnecessary trinkets until you are at least heading back towards the black.

Wannabe Jedi drool over potent laser 'lightsabre'

Ed Blackshaw

Umm, if they sell this to anyone for use as a weapon

*Are they aware that the use of lasers as blinding weapons is explicitly forbidden by the United Nations, thus the authorities in their country of origin should restrict their export, since they could be used as such:



Ten Essential... 500GB Portable Hard Drives

Ed Blackshaw
Paris Hilton

What I don't get

Is why, when you can buy a 500GB SATA 2.5" drive for under £50, and an enclosure with a SATA to USB bridge for a few pounds, these things all cost close to £100. I understand that you're paying for design, and for the software that comes with them (which you probably won't actually use if you're using the drive to swap files around between computers), but event aking that into account, and assuming that those things are worth £25 (which I'm almost certain tehy're not), we're still talking at least a 50% mark-up here!

Radiation warning labels for deadly mobes!

Ed Blackshaw


Oops, that should be 'said predictions' , not 'said facts'

Ed Blackshaw

Scientific method:

1) Form reasoned hypothesis based upon observed facts or accepted theory.

2) Use hypothesis to make predictions.

3) Devise experiments to test said facts

Unfortunately, the epidemiological studies on mobile phone radiation have jumped straight to number three on this list. There is no observed causative effect between mobile phones and cancer. There is also no theoretical basis that stands up to scrutiny that suggests that this is the case. Thus spending more and more money conducting larger and larger studies to try to find a non-existent effect is a waste of money.

A number of studies have been conducted so far from tax revenue. In a time of economic recession, surely it is time to start focusing the now meagre amount of money available to science on something useful.

If you don't agree with my logic as stated above, please feel free to fund my research into the possible effects of people watching the well-known internet dancing badgers on the incidence of bovine TB in wild badgers. I will be conducting an epidemiological study which will compare the number of hits on said website to the incidence of this disease. To do so, I will require £1,000,000. If I fail to find anything from this study, I will just have to conduct a larger one, at a cost of £10,000,000 to make sure, etc.

NASA: Civilization will end in 2013 (possibly)

Ed Blackshaw

Sir Spoon

You have created a monster!

Ed Blackshaw

Me too

(with the me too)

Ed Blackshaw

e ^ pedantry

Oh $deity, here we go (I hope I have this right):

Photons do not slow down when travelling through matter (according to theory). What actually happens is that the photons are randomly absorbed and reemitted by the intervening atoms. Because there is a delay (on the femtosecond scale IIRC) between absorbtion and emission, the light appears to slow down, although the photons themselves always travel at c between interactions. Different wavelengths of light (corresponding to photons with different energies) interact with materials to a varying degree, leading to some wavelengths being slowed down more than others. This is how prisms work. If I am not mistaken, this is (or at least used to be) all taught in A-level physics classes.

THere is a link for you where this process is explained in more detail:


Ed Blackshaw

Read up on chemistry

Because I'm not going to spoon feed you all the facts I learned over a number of years at school and five years at university learning the subject. Here is a summary:

Carbon dioxide absorbs infrared radiation that otherwise woudl reflect back into space. This causes heating. Ergo, increasing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere increases the amount of solar radiation that is absorbed. In the absence of any other factors, this leads to heating of the atmosphere. Politicise it all you like, if you argue with those facts, you are arguing against reality.

And sorry to burst your bubble, but there is a wealth of accurate data that shows (surprise-surprise) that global temperatures have risen over the last couple of centuries. A lot of this is proxy data (e.g. from ice-cores, tree-rings, etc.) and doesn't cover global measurements, so you have to allow for a certain degree of variation.

What it doesn't show (unless you use dubious techniques to cherry-pick your data) is that the world is getting cooler.

It is, however, in the interests of those who make a profit from emitting large amounts of carbon dioxide to dispute the scientific consensus (or conspiracy amongst a very large number of people who have never met if you have your tin-foil hat on straight). Oil and coal companies, to name two examples, are well known for forming lobby groups, and disguising them as 'think-tanks' to 'argue the controversy' about global warming. The same peope can be hired to argue against evolution, and were hired for a number of years to argue on the behalf of tobacco companies that cigarettes do no harm (you can, in fact, find the information relating to this openly on the internet). I, for one, would be a little disinclined to believe what I am told by such people without a VERY large pinch of salt.

Ironically in all of this, the basic priciple of science is to doubt what you are told and to find out for yourself. Because most people do not have the resources to do all possible scientific research themselves, we have a thing called 'peer review', where results of such research are published for all to see, with experimental methods, conclusions, etc. so that they can be repeated by others. This gives a reasonable level of confidence that these results are correct.

Given the results of the scientific process (such as the computer I am currently typing this on), I have a fair amount of confidence in the fact that this system works. Although it does have a few flaws, when it comes down to it, to attack science is to attack rational thought. Sadly, the quality of education is now so poor in this country that people don't seem know what rational thought is, let alone be able to employ it.

Ed Blackshaw


The 'whole Global Warming business' was 'started' by anyone with a working knowledge of physical chemistry. But hey, never let little things like facts get in the way of your rhetoric. If you couldn't be arsed to pay attention to your science lessons at school, don't go pretending that you know more about a subject than people who spent years studying it.

I know it's popular to jump up and down and say 'global warming is a myth', particularly since the tabloids, and industry-led lobby groups are so keen to encourage you to do so, but I really wish people would stop, think, and educate themselves once in a while.

And by the way, feel free to wear a tin-foil hat. It won't do a thing to protect you from a solar storm, but if we get a REALLY big one, it might just act as an inductor. Lets just hope that the magnetic field gradient doesn't run between your head and your feet, eh?

Ed Blackshaw


Gotta love a good Bushism

Ed Blackshaw

And it looks like

I'm not the only NS reader here...

Ed Blackshaw


You're spoiling our fun!

Ed Blackshaw

That's funny

Just last week I was reading an article in New Scientist telling me that solar activity is at an unprecedented LOW level, the current cycle of sloar activity being over a year later than expected, and much weaker, with far fewer sun spots than expected. It has been suggested that the previous few decades have actually seen a maximum in solar activity and that the activity level is dying off again, probably for a number of decades.

Obviously, this is a direct contradiction of what is being reported here, so both can't be right. I wonder which it is.

Apple reels as Steve Jobs Flashturbates

Ed Blackshaw


Which is why I have AdBlock and NoScript installed on FF. I suspect the flash adverts I'm not seeing are being blocked by the first, since there is no grey place holder there that I would otherwise have to click on to see the flash content.

You see, I have the choice about whether or not I can see this, because for all of Windows' failings, it does at least allow me a fairly decent amount of control over my own property (or in this case, my employer's property).

And FYI, I am using an XP box with a dual core P4 2.8 Ghz and a measly gigabyte of RAM. I just timed how long it took to open FF3.6.3 to open up and load the Reg's home page and it was a smidge under five seconds, most of which was taken up by loading the app from disk, by the sounds of it. If, as you say, the page styalled loading because of the Flash content, I would suggest that it is the CONTENT that slowed you down - perhaps something to do with having to download the video content of an advert over your internet connection. Would this be any quicker with HTML4? I doubt it.

But then you 'completely agree with WilliamLondon' so would appear to be living in a parallel universe where logic was dropped on its head as a child.

Ed Blackshaw

Of course

Apple's quite obvious real reason for not wanting flas on their devices is nothing to do with it being slow or bug ridden. It is all an issue of control, and greed. Consider the following facts:

1) Apple controls the content of the App Store, thus they control what can and cannot be run on their devices.

2) Flash is an 'enabling' technology where third parties can use it to develop applications.

3) Flash applications would not need to be distributed through Apple's store.

4) Third party developers could sell/give away Flash apps independently of the App store, thus preventing Apple from creaming off their cut of the profits.

Am I the only one to see this, or is it so obvious that nobody else needs to say it?

Ed Blackshaw


I don't know how many will actually want an iPad, but I would imagine there would be a few who, if given such a thing, would ask why it doesn't display the web pages that they can view perfectly well on their PC (be it a box with Windows installed on it or whatever) properly, because of Apple's edict to ban flash.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not one to "cream my pants when I think of Bill Gates" (ew), and really I couldn't give a crap either way about Apple. I've never found the need to spend my money on any of their devices, but many have.

I just think your straw man argument about grannies and your ad-hominem attack on users of anything that isn't Apple are rather puerile, and, quite frankly, I have heard them before a number of times. The amount of bile you seem to be spouting at anyone who doesn't appear to like Apple as much as you is in truth rather sad. At the end of the day, they're only consumer devices and if they are that important to you, I'd suggest that maybe you are missing out on other, more important, aspects of a full and well-rounded social life.

Microsoft justifies lost Office 2010 upgrades

Ed Blackshaw


"Microsoft's new, low-priced Office option is the Product Key Card - only you'll either need a brand new PC to obtain one or buy Office as a download, and then it'll still be a full copy of Office 2010."

So, it's a bit of card with a licence key on it then? I'm pretty sure I got one of those with Office '97, I'd just need to cut away the rest of the box.

NHS still rubbish at caring for data

Ed Blackshaw

Huh, what?

"Basingstoke managed to lose an Excel spreadsheet containing 917 pathology results - emailed from an insecure address. The sheet was not password-protected and the receiving department had no need for such a large quantity of medical records."

How exactly does one go about losing something that has no physical form, or do they mean maybe that a path lab emailed a spreadsheet with a load of results to a hospital department (e.g. a ward in the same hospital) that only needed one of those results?

Ed Blackshaw

You may have been able to walk out with the laptop

But hopefully, it would be password protected (ideally in the BIOS, although removing the BIOS battery would usually get around that). It would be unlikely to hold any patient information, more likley some junior doctor's notes for hospital audit, which would be anonymised, and you probably wouldn;t be able to access them.

In this case it's likely that the loss of the laptop would not entail the loss of patient information but it is still foolish of them to leave it lying around.

On the other hand, it could be that the hospital in question has been suffering losses from thieves wandering into public areas and pinching stuff, in which case, they may have left an old laptop there as bait to catch said tea-leaf, on the grounds that the hospital security wouldn't have much difficulty spotting a member of the public wandering off with something of that size.

UK.gov outlines £95m IT savings plan

Ed Blackshaw


it is quite likely that the previous lot negotiated contracts with suppliers where once the money has been spent, the taxpayer ain't getting it back. This is the reason that any savings made now look rather meagre.

HOWEVER, if you factor in the savings we will now be making by NOT engaging in further white elephants like the NIR and NHS spine thingummy, it looks a little rosier.

Bear in mind that NewLab would have most likely continued to plough our money into such projects, with the Johnsonesque* excuse that they would make us money (by circuitously re-routing the contents of our pockets into the treasury - the 'us' making money here being the state, the ICT suppliers, and their ex-politician non-executive board members).

We are unfortuantely now left with a situation where we have a great big deficit as a pretty much direct result of the previous lot pissing all our money up the wall (think wasteful projects, unjustified wars, selling the country's gold at the lowest price possible, etc.) To coin a rather unpleasant metaphor; try as they might, the new lot won't be able to scrape that piss back off again, as it'll have all drained away.

* This neologism should enter the OED right now as an adjective describing the behaviour where a politician claims that taxes do not exist if paid for by other forms of taxation.

Murdoch moves for full control of Sky

Ed Blackshaw

Maybe this is why

Rupert appears to be attempting to draw more power to himself. Bear in mind that the power of News Corp comes not only from its control of many aspects of the media, but it also has good old fashioned financial clout, in terms of funding the 'right' politicians, etc. The tabloid press is simply one element of this.

Ed Blackshaw

And once he has control of Sky

He will move quickly to control, sea, land and fire too...

I for one do not welcome, etc...

Gov hits brakes on vetting scheme

Ed Blackshaw

Just remember

The BBC usied to be (resonably) impartial - it was the previous administration who bullied them into towing the party line, so that we are now stuck with a corporation which is likely stuffed with NuLab appointees. I'd say it was a time for a good shake-up to the Beeb and the replacement of those appointees with genuinely independent journalists if we ever want to see the return of an impartial BBC. That, or accept that the BBC is hopelessly broken and scrap it, along with the TV licence.

Ed Blackshaw

I notice, however,

That the new gubmint have not put a stop to the cash cow that is the 10-year anniversary of the introduction of driving licence photocards, and the £20 fine, errm I mean renewal fee, which every motorist who held a licence in 2000 will be paying. A quick mental calculation tells me that that particular windfall will run into the hundreds of millions. A nice little earner for the DVLA - no wonder the previous lot were so keen on introducing ID cards...

God particles breeding like bosons

Ed Blackshaw

I remember reading that article

IIRC, it offers no explanation of how neutrinos can change 'flavour', which itself is a (recently confirmed) CP-violation.

However, it is now looking more and more certain that the Standard Model is either incomplete or plain wrong. It is interesting to see the proposals that are being forwarded to replace / modify it. Hopefully we can end up with something that doesn't require fudge-factors like dark matter, dark energy, and a cosmological constant that is 120 orders of magnitude away from that predicted by theory (that is it is out by a factor of 1 followed by 120 zeroes).

Palin puts paid to Boob-gate

Ed Blackshaw


"It makes me have to waste time figuring out what am I going to wear so that nobody will look at an area that I don't need them to look at."

So previously, she would show up to public appointments topless?

Here you go Ms Palin, something to cover yourself up with...

Doctors call for NHS Direct review

Ed Blackshaw

Please point me in the direction

of all these clinical staff earning a quarter of a million pounds p.a. working for the NHS.

Or did you just pluck that figure from your arse?

Admitted, some doctors can earn silly money doing private work, but that's beyond the scope of the NHS somewhat, and if people are prepared to pay for it from their own pockets, let them.

Ed Blackshaw

Your GP _should_ stitch you up

If you turn up with a non-urgent wound that requires stitching, but you'd have to wait (or book an appointment). I believe sewing up a wound is covered under both the A and the E of Accident and Emergency, and therefore it's not unreasonable to go to an A+E department to get such treatment, particularly if it's serious and / or out of GP hours.

I appreciate that if you're in the middle of nowhere miles from a hospital with an A+E dept then you might expect that this would be a little more difficult. This is why a lot of GPs in rural areas do things like minor surgery more often than GPs working in cities. However, if you live in a rural area, this is one of the risks you should come to accept - you are further from a hospital where you can get emergency treatment, just like you are further from your nearest Tescos or airport.

Ed Blackshaw

Normally I would defend GPs

But if the facts are as you state them, that does sound like a clear-cut case of clinical negligence*. Don't tar every GP with the same brush though, and remember, if you live in a town or city, you probably have the option of several different GPs (and surgeries) who you can register with, usually by filling out a simple one-side-of-A4 form.

*IANAL, etc.

ToryDems stoke ID card 'bonfire'

Ed Blackshaw

And make him minister in charge

of something like designing government logos and never approve any of his work.

Ed Blackshaw

@Bungle Zippermouth

Are you sure that's not Teresa May you're thinking of? Without the 'h'?

Ed Blackshaw

I see you had a single down-vote there

Alan, is that you?

Owner of Russia's biggest breasts sues over airline buffeting

Ed Blackshaw

Any relation

to the late, and also unrealistically endowed Miss Lola Ferrari?

Ed Blackshaw

Just googled her name

Turns out she looks exactly how you would expect her to, and somewhat worryingly like Pete Burns.

China sidesteps Great Firewall with web roadmap

Ed Blackshaw


he got a fine and lost his job.


In China, he may have been made a political prisoner. Who knows? In the US, he may have ended up in Gitmo. They're great things, 'may have's...

Ed Blackshaw

True, my example is from the middle of the last century

However, do you _really_ think that this sort of thing doesn't still go on. These things tend to come out in the wash a significant number of years after they have happened (think state secrets). Certainly with a lot of legislation brought in by the recent Labour government to do with storing and analysing telecommunications, and 'anti-terror' legislation, it would be naïve to think that it doesn't happen.

I'm sure my name is on a list somewhere for criticising that particular bunch of *expletive deleted*. If I were to apply for a job at, say, GCHQ, then this would almost certainly turn up in any security check done against me. It may, or may not, influence my chances of getting said job, depending probably on which way the wind is blowing politically, and on exactly who I have managed to insult in the civil service.

We may have greater freedom in criticising what goes on in other countries, and I'm sure that the Chinese don't enjoy a lot of the freedoms that we do. I do, however, think that maybe the picture that is painted of China is somewhat biased, as is the picture painted of our own nation, but in the other direction.

Finally, I'm certainly not going to try to argue that North Korea is some sort of utopia. You are trying to build a classic straw-man argument by mentioning Pyongyang. Shame on you.

Ed Blackshaw

Examples please...

...or your argument is pure rhetoric.

Lets not forget the McCarthyist era in the US, where being openly critical of the countries leaders might not get you locked up, but would most likely get you on a list of 'unamericans'.

Of course China is different. After all, Chinese culture is vastly different from western culture in a number of ways.

I do think it is hypocritical, however, to label something as bad when another country says it, and okay when we do it. Let he who is without sins, etc. etc.

Ed Blackshaw

Is it that bad?

"Citizens are not allowed to infringe upon state, social and collective interests or the legitimate freedom and rights of other citizens. No organization or individual may utilize telecommunication networks to engage in activities that jeopardize state security, the public interest or the legitimate rights and interests of other people."

Could be read as:

"Citizens cannot use the internet to give away state secrets or organise a coup. They may not do things that cause danger to the public, such as encouraging others to blow up a bridge, etc. They may not threaten or otherwise cause harm to others."

I'm pretty sure all of those things would get you in trouble in pretty much any country. Including those that claim 'free speech'.

The flip side of free speech is that although you are free to say whatever you like, once you've said it, some stuff might get you in trouble. The example of the guy who was tried in this country for joking about blowing up an airport on twitter springs to mind.

Apple adds 'make the web go away' button to Safari 5

Ed Blackshaw

That's alright

They'll just decide to increase profitability by adding their own ads down the sides. Just you wait...

Sneaky bin chipping still in the bag for UK.gov

Ed Blackshaw
Thumb Up


I live in a flat. We have six wheelie bins, and a number of black recycling boxes and brown compost bins, in a communal bin store, shared by three houses and six flats, which are themselves different sizes. How would one suggest to equitably share the rewards, or more importantly, the penalties (as these would surely follow) imposed by any such scheme.