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BT, Sky, and Virgin Enforce UK Porn Blocks By Hijacking Browsers

Cyberdyne Re:Nice (294 comments)

I do have to wonder, though - What will the UK nannies do if essentially the entire country opts out and says "Yeah, thanks, but we want our porn and violence, thankyouverymuch"?

That's almost precisely why this is being done in the first place. A Member of Parliament named Claire Perry saw a bandwagon she could jump on, using a tale she concocted about her daughter Googling for cookie recipes and getting porn instead, and used this as an excuse to hold a "hearing" on the subject. The hearing found that most parents were already aware of parental controls, had the option and chose not to use them; she took this as an excuse to push filters harder, demanding that ISPs make them opt-out rather than opt-in in hopes of boosting uptake. (Funnily enough, several of the people testifying at her "hearing" happened to be from companies involved in the filtering business...)

Since the biggest four ISPs agreed to force all their customers to reiterate specifically that they still don't want filtering, hopefully this will be enough to stop these idiots pushing any harder for a while - albeit having forced them to flush money away buying in a filtering system most customers never wanted. My current (much smaller, tech-savvy) ISP is very much opposed to this nonsense, which is one reason I'm happy to be their customer - though unfortunately this has already drawn government attention (after which, they had to take on an extra member of staff and upgrade transit pipes to handle the increased demand - probably not the result the politician expected!)

about a month ago

What Language Will the World Speak In 2115?

Cyberdyne Re:AC current maintained only by tradition? (578 comments)

I can see applications for DC power distribution in certain circumstances. High-density computing, for one - why have a full mains PSU in every server? It's expensive, more points of failure, and you end up going from mains incoming to DC for the UPSs inverted to AC to send back to the servers converted back to DC for use inside - and those inverters are not that reliable too. It makes more sense to feed all the servers off of DC (Usually 48V - any lower and current gets silly), and have the power supply stuff all centralized. All the servers need is a DC-DC converter for each rail.

Telcos have been doing exactly that for decades now: all their exchanges and much of the optical kit runs on -48V: it's a low enough voltage to be safe to work on when live (negative rather than positive because that protects against corrosion on the wires), easy to combine sources (a diode will do it), no need to "switch" to backup power (just connect your load, battery and source together, job done).

Facebook went the other way for a large server farm, though: running 480V 3-phase AC to the racks (277V per phase). Cleverly, though, they don't need to convert DC from the batteries to AC in power cuts: the mixed DC/AC bus feeds switch-mode power supplies which convert incoming power to DC anyway, so switching between AC utility power and DC battery power doesn't matter. Pretty clever really, IMO.

about a month ago

Google Fiber's Latest FCC Filing: Comcast's Nightmare Come To Life

Cyberdyne Re:One fiber to rule them... (221 comments)

Why not just run one fiber, ditch all the copper, terminate it at the local POP and then allow various vendors access to that fiber and compete for my business?

Home-run fiber per home would get very expensive I think - normally the idea is something like PON (Passive Optical Networking), where a single fiber is split across a few dozen locations, rather like gas, electricity and water/drainage. Telephone service is, I think, unique in using home-run wiring back to the exchange; even there, the faster post-ADSL services such as VDSL share a single fiber link back to the exchange: my current 80/20 service is VDSL2 as far as the cabinet around the corner - all the hundred or so users on that cabinet share a single fiber from there.

Right now in the UK BT have this set up so everyone on FTTC or FTTP is connected to an Ethernet switch in the exchange, with their own VLAN; any ISP can connect their own equipment to that switch and get your VLAN trunked onto their Ethernet port, or they can pay BT to run PPPoE over that and transport it to them. That probably works better in practice than physically patching a few thousand fiber connections directly to different ISPs in each exchange building - my inner geek would love a straight through fiber link, but how much more would that cost?

about a month ago

US Army May Relax Physical Requirements To Recruit Cyber Warriors

Cyberdyne Re:Good luck with that (308 comments)

Not only that but if they change the physical requirements it's going to have a lot of repercussions.

First off, Basic Training. Is there going to be a "cyber warrior only" camp for that?

Secondly, promotions. Will the promotion points for Physical Training be altered for "cyber warriors"?

Also, you have to pass Physical Training tests every year to stay in. Will the guy who cooks the food the "cyber warrior" eats be held to a higher physical standard than the "cyber warrior" is?

I'm thinking that Lt. Col. Sharlene Pigg does not understand anything about morale or esprit de corps.

Should the cook be held to "physical standards" which aren't relevant to the actual job either? Outside movies like Under Siege, shooting at people really isn't part of the chef's job either. (As an Air Force cadet, I was pretty good at Escape & Evasion - and if I'd gone on to be an actual fighter pilot, that could well have been a vital skill if shot down over enemy territory. As a drone pilot, eight time zones from the action where the biggest threat is road rage on the daily commute? Not a chance.)

Supposing Stephen Hawking were a computing genius, rather than a physicist. Does it really make sense to anyone to reject his brilliant contribution, just because he can't do pushups? Isn't it a better army if it includes that talent?

about 3 months ago

EU Court Rules Embedding YouTube Videos Is Not Copyright Infringement

Cyberdyne Re:Bit too late (68 comments)

For those kids who got shipped out to the USA for linking videos. If only they had embedded them.

In fact, the same court had already ruled in a earlier case (Svensson) that linking to a file does not constitute copyright infringement either.

The court doesn't seem - at least from this report - to have taken into account that the uploader on YouTube has the ability to permit or deny this embedding, which would have strengthened the argument that it is that uploader who was to blame, not others linking to the video there. I wonder if the copyright owner went after them as well - considering a copyright takedown against the video on YouTube would have disabled the embedded view anyway?

What could be interesting here is how this relates to recent UK court orders forcing the largest UK ISPs to censor access to "pirate" websites like TPB, some of which also merely link to files which may be online in breach of copyright?

about 3 months ago

Facebook 'Safety Check' Lets Friends Know You're OK After a Major Disaster

Cyberdyne yeah, going with not creepy. (130 comments)

I actually like the idea - having been on an overnight flight landing on 9/11, I remember quite a few online contacts wanting to check I was OK. Of course, with Facebook a simple status update would have done the trick, no need for any special tool - and if I'd been offline, a friend could probably have posted that on my page on my behalf. (The gap between "can phone a friend" and "can get online" is pretty slim these days, too: much more so now than it was then.)

about 3 months ago

London Unveils New Driverless Subway Trains

Cyberdyne Re:"inspired by aviation design" (127 comments)

open and airy interiors inspired by aviation design.

They haven't flown coach lately, have they.

Aircraft do look nice and airy on the inside - right up until you cram in extra rows of seats to make more money, then fill them up with people and luggage. Even in coach, I had some very comfortable long-haul flights in the months after 9/11 with an entire row of seats on a 777 to myself - of course, the airlines weren't quite as comfortable with the plane being that empty. (I'm told this is how Sean Connery flies: rather than pay for first class, just book a whole row in coach. Presumably the airline's perfectly happy with an empty seat, as long as it's being paid for.)

about 4 months ago

BitHammer, the BitTorrent Banhammer

Cyberdyne Re:It's okay when I do it... (429 comments)

Actually this is complete bullshit. Torrent'ing in no way "help ISPs".
The shear number of connections a single person generates by downloading using torrents is ridiculous. It is basically a legal DDoS (well depending on what your downloading). The problems from bittorrent isn't because of the bandwidth used, it is from the number of connections.

The number of connections is completely irrelevant to any proper ISP (i.e. one which isn't NATting or snooping on your traffic): 100 packets per second on a single TCP connection is precisely the same traffic as 1 packet per second on each of 100 connections, except that it may spread out across more peering/transit links. My ISP literally does not know, let alone care, how many TCP connections I have open right now - only how many packets and how many bytes I'm transferring each way. It does indeed benefit my ISP if more of my traffic is local, since that means it can go via cheaper peering links at LoNAP or LINX rather than the expensive Level3 global transit they use for routing to/from more remote networks.

Where it does matter, though, is your home router/firewall/NAT device, which does need to keep track of each and every connection while it's active: a hundred or so connections might well overwhelm the available state storage long before you run out of bandwidth. On that level, downloading a single file is the same whether it comes from the ISP itself or another continent.

Of course, some ISPs are more clueful than others; mine is not only entirely happy for us to run torrent, servers (official policy: do whatever you like except spam; copyright and other issues are up to the police/courts not your ISP) but are even considering hosting their own Tor exit node. No shaping or filtering except the overall bandwidth limit - which caused packet loss for 0.83% of the last week. If only all ISPs could run like that!

about 4 months ago

Drones Reveal Widespread Tax Evasion In Argentina

Cyberdyne Re:Someone's going to complain (208 comments)

In the US, this would be "Google Maps Reveals Widespread Tax Evasion"

In the UK, even before Google got in there, the government was using spy satellites to check on things like farm subsidies: when a farm submits a claim saying there's a 100 acre patch empty (to claim "setaside" payments) or has a highly subsidised crop growing, it's quick and easy to check a satellite photo and know if it's really only 90 acres - or if only the strip nearest the road is as claimed, with a big patch of some more profitable crop hidden inside. Compared to the cost of sending someone there by car to inspect the whole field on foot, using satellites (which of course they had in orbit anyway, for more predictable purposes) apparently it saved a fortune.

about 4 months ago

Text While Driving In Long Island and Have Your Phone Disabled

Cyberdyne Re:It should be (364 comments)

It should be the car that is disabled (or your license taken away)

Exactly - as they do already in the UK: get caught driving while using a mobile phone, you get 3 penalty points. That puts your insurance premiums up in itself, and if you reach a total of 12 points, no more driving for a few years. The penalty may be increased to 6 - in which case, get caught driving on the phone twice, you're in the passenger seat for several years. If someone's been caught driving on the phone (whether texting, talking or reading Slashdot), why let them continue driving at all? Will disabling the phone stop them driving while fiddling with the radio, eating, shaving etc? Of course not - so get them away from the wheel and let them text all they like as passengers.

about 4 months ago

Technological Solution For Texting While Driving Struggles For Traction

Cyberdyne Re:A solution in search of a problem... (326 comments)

It is against the law pretty much everywhere. However that law is enforced pretty much nowhere. It is just simply too difficult to enforce it, as a police officer has to catch the person in the act to even write a ticket. And then the ticket is so laughably small in terms of the monetary penalty as to be pointless to even write.

Here in the UK, the penalty is that you get one-quarter of the way to no longer driving (3 penalty points, where 12 means a driving ban); the government announced earlier this year they were considering doubling that to halfway, i.e. get caught doing it twice (within 3 years) and you won't be driving again. However small the risk, I suspect that's a big enough deterrent to scare many - particularly since it would often mean losing their job too. You don't have to be caught red-handed, either, just suspected enough for the police to investigate, then they check the network usage logs and confirm you were using the handset at the time in question. (Or get seen on a traffic camera, of which there are many.)

The idea in the article is just silly, though.

about 4 months ago

Why Phone Stores Should Stockpile Replacements

Cyberdyne Re:Agree 100% (253 comments)

The difference is that phones are small and you only need to stock a dozen models to serve most clients.

Only a dozen? Let's see... within the iPhone 5S range in the US, we have 3 different storage capacities (16, 32, 64 Gb) in 3 different colour schemes, with 4 different network setups (Sprint, AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile/unlocked). That's 27. 40 more for the iPhone 5c (5 colours, 2 sizes, 4 networks). The iPhone 4S is still for sale, but "only" 8 options there because it's 8 Gb only now - except the 3 larger ones are still under warranty, so make that another 32. Then we get the 4 and 3GS - but I'll stop there, because we're already at 99 different handsets for the iPhone alone, before we get into Android handsets! Call them $333 each on average, that's $33k of handsets you're mandated to store but not sell. That's insane - just to avoid a 24 hour wait to Fedex a replacement handset to you!? (Not to mention I'd rather have the replacement shipped to me next-day anyway rather than spend hours travelling just to collect it myself.)

Also, I seem to recall some of the Apple fan sites actually monitor stock levels in Apple's own stores - it usually takes a while for stores to have stock on hand after a launch (while customers buy up stock as soon as it arrives), then once a model is old they start running down stocks to avoid being left holding old kit. So, even Apple themselves don't actually carry stock on the scale the poster seems to be demanding, let alone 3rd party repair shops/vendors!

A few years ago, my MacBook Pro's Superdrive failed. Standard part they'd been using for years ... the Store would have a spare in stock surely? No, I had to wait a week for them to get one shipped from Panasonic ... then I was told I'd have to leave the MBP with them for up to another a week to fit it. Of course, by the time I add up the travel costs alone for 3 visits, I'd have spent the price of a brand new external drive, even before factoring in the c 10 hours of my time spent going to and from the Apple Store, so I told them to install the replacement drive somewhere it wouldn't fit easily and bought an external drive.

So, this legislation would be a hugely expensive "solution" to a trivial problem - and, of course, there's no guarantee that on the day your pink 32 Gb iPhone Verizon 5c happens to need replacing, someone else won't already have claimed that one replacement unit, so you can't have it anyway. Would the legislation somehow guarantee a quick replacement of the replacement by Apple, too? Or it would have to mandate everywhere having two of every handset, in case the first one's already taken ...

about 5 months ago

Grand Ayatollah Says High Speed Internet Is "Against Moral Standards"

Cyberdyne Re:The difference is.. speed? (542 comments)

Yep, once we hit 6 Mb per screen we should be all set... that's the speed compressed HD video moves at at most. Anything that moves faster than a 1080p screen can't be represented by humans that fast, until we get to 4Kx1080.

That's something that hit me quite recently: with an 80/20 Mbps VDSL2 line, I can honestly say it's "fast enough" for everything I do. My satellite STB has a semi-streaming mode, where it downloads a whole show and will start playing once it has enough to play through without pausing for buffering - and it always starts in seconds. Big downloads, I'm almost always limited by the far end anyway; they tend to take longer to install than to download anyway - so if I had the option of a faster link, would I actually get any benefit at all? Previously, I jumped on every increase: from dialup (pricey, even a 30 Mb download was an ordeal) to half-megabit cable modem (yay, I could grab hundred meg files overnight), to ADSL, ADSL2+ (nothing big enough to leave downloading overnight any more), 50 Mbps cable modem, getting a big improvement each time. (I even have the option of upgrading to 330/30 if I want, for a price ... and it really isn't tempting, in the way I would have jumped at any chance of better speeds before.)

about 5 months ago

Grand Ayatollah Says High Speed Internet Is "Against Moral Standards"

Cyberdyne If the Grand Ayatollah's against it.... (542 comments)

The funny thing is, I recall a Labour MP here in the UK saying something comparably dim back in 1998! At that point, all we had was expensive metered dialup; I was in a group campaigning to change that, and happened to meet him at some event. His reply was that he "didn't think the Internet was a good idea". One of those moments I really, really wish I could have recorded!

about 5 months ago

Update: Raspberry Pi-Compatible Development Board Cancelled

Cyberdyne Re:Broadcom... (165 comments)

The choice [of a Broadcom SoC] by the RPi-team was utterly stupid and can only be attributed to incompetence.

Well, Eben Upton's job working for Broadcom was probably a factor there... Personally, I'd trace the idea back before he had that job - I recall a discussion about the Gameboy Advance developer kit in the summer of 2002, and the lack of affordable programmable devices at the time. I suspect he'd have had a real struggle getting anywhere close to the Pi's target price without getting discounted access to the Broadcom SoC he used, though. I haven't spoken to him recently, but my impression was that far from "RPi Foundation pressed Broadcom to stop selling BCM2835 to competing projects" as claimed, it was more "Eben twisted arms and got Broadcom to give RPF a special cut-price deal so they could afford it".

If anyone were to bring out a rival device from a "significantly superior" competitor, I'd be delighted to see it - and I suspect most if not all of the RPF people would too, since it wasn't about making money by selling lots of systems. (Of course, Broadcom didn't buy up the remains of ARM's parent company for nothing, so I'd be surprised to see something much better from a rival!) I was happy to see the Pi being ARM based, as a fan of ARM as far back as the ARM2 I first programmed, but I'm also happy to see rivals like the MIPS32 one mentioned recently: I like ARM, but I also like having a choice of platform, both hardware and software!

about 5 months ago

Microsoft Defies Court Order, Will Not Give Emails To US Government

Cyberdyne Re:That's nice, but... (419 comments)

But acting like they don't, or even loosing a minor case might set other criminals at ease about the security of their data within the Microsoft infrastructure.

Which, of course, could be exactly what the NSA want - police and FBI priorities may differ, but I suspect the NSA would rather have access to more information, thanks to a false sense of security, even at the expense of not being able to use it in court easily. If they "win", they get to use evidence this time - and they just warned the next hundred criminals to avoid MS servers, because of this case. "Lose", and they can keep reading it all in secret, using the information behind the scenes instead.

about 5 months ago

HP Recalls 6 Million Power Cables Over Fire Hazard

Cyberdyne Not the PSUs? The actual cables? (137 comments)

How do you fuck something like that up?

All too easily it seems; my first MacBook Pro power lead caught fire a few years ago as well. This was the low-voltage (hence high current) end, though: in their quest to make everything thin and light, the cable was thin and flimsy, so one of the braided conductors frayed after a while. More current going down a thinner wire meant more heat - which softened the remaining copper and made the problem worse, until arcing started and I got a micro-firework display on my desk. (One of is successors managed to melt the plastic in the plug, that didn't make me happy either!)

On the mains end, even a hefty (for laptops) 300-odd watt PSU is only 3A from a US outlet, half that on the higher voltages elsewhere - usually easy enough to deal with, but one sloppy connection and you can get a tiny point getting very hot indeed. It's worse on the low voltage end: a single cable possibly carrying 20 or more amps, while getting rolled up, folded and stood on in transit, designed to be very light weight - yet also done on a budget. As soon as you start trying to shave weight and cost, I suspect it's all too easy for a wire to be just slightly too thin for the current, or a connection to be a little bit too weak for long term mobile use.

If you were building a high school or college electronics project and said you planned to run laptop currents and voltages through such thin wires and tiny connectors, you'd probably be told off or marked down - but commercially, thin, light and cheap trump safety margins and robustness.

about 5 months ago

Is Storage Necessary For Renewable Energy?

Cyberdyne Re:Expert?? (442 comments)

There is no such thing as negative energy price, unless you're retarded? Why would you pay someone to take your excess energy, when you can just dump it into the atmosphere through a resistor heating element? They are not that expensive, even if you have to finance one. Of course you might be benevolent and give it away for free, or even exert some effort out of love to they neighbor, and pay some for him to take it, but in a selfish capitalist view you can get rid of energy very easily, it's not like trash that is costly to get rid of.

You might not have a massive resistor handy at the instant you need it, but I suspect subsidies will play a part in this. If you get paid a certain subsidy per unit of electricity you produce, in addition to receiving whatever the wholesale price is at the time, you could still end up turning a profit by paying someone to receive your surplus electricity. (In Europe, there are also obligations for power companies to get a certain % of power from renewable sources - so it could be better for them to take this power now, giving it away for free or even paying a big industrial customer a tiny bit to use it, just to meet the government targets.) Hopefully, dumping that power into your own resistor bank doesn't earn you subsidy payments!

about 5 months ago

Groundwork Laid For Superfast Broadband Over Copper

Cyberdyne Re:Cox (93 comments)

I'm currently working on a project for Cox Communications in which they are chemically dissolving the foam inside of the coaxial cable conduit & then air blowing fiber through the newly created space inside the conduit. Pretty cool stuff. This avoids the costs associated with permitting, digging new trench & burying separate fiber conduit & they can use the DWDM hardware they already have on hand instead of buying new systems like this.

Wow, that is neat. (At first, I misinterpreted that as dissolving the foam dielectric inside the itself - which could also be neat at some point, for doing FTTH, but rather more demanding.) I take it this is the "final mile" conduit between the cabinet and individual homes, or is it just pushing the HFC boundary down to street level for much shorter runs of coax?

about 5 months ago

Groundwork Laid For Superfast Broadband Over Copper

Cyberdyne Re:Fibre optic is almost her (93 comments)

Why are we still flogging the dead horse?
FTTH will always outperform copper, without exception, and it's gaining traction quicker than the telco would embrace G.Fast

In the long term yes - but the economics are very different short term. A couple of telco engineers could install VDSL2 (or, presumably, G.fast) for a whole wiring cabinet - a hundred or more households - in the time it would take to run fiber to a single one of those premises. Apart from anything else, it seems right now all the engineers are busy installing those FTTC services; switching them to putting in more FTTP/FTTH would not only mean more expense, it would take longer, leaving everyone else on ADSL for longer. I suspect things will be different in a few years, once that FTTC rollout is complete and manpower is freed up.

I actually have the option of FTTH right now, if I wanted: 330 Mbps down, 30 Mbps up, using GPON. The problem is, I'd have to pay heavily for it: high three figures installation, then a three year contract lock-in at GBP 100 per month - just for the line to the exchange, that doesn't include any actual Internet connectivity! Needless to say, I'm staying on FTTC (VDSL2) for now: 80 Mbps down and 20 up, for a fraction of that price.

Now, when it comes to new housing, it's another matter: if you've got to go and dig up a road anyway to put in the wires to a new housing development, it's much the same cost whether it's copper or glass you put in (or both). So, you can sometimes get a fiber connection for the price of VDSL2!

about 5 months ago


Cyberdyne hasn't submitted any stories.



EU racing against US, USSR to build GPS

Cyberdyne Cyberdyne writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Story link

Having launched one of the thirty satellites required, the eight-member commercial consortium tasked with building Galileo, the EU's planned rival to the American NAVSTAR (better known as GPS) and Soviet GLONASS systems, has apparently declined to invest further money in the project. Future funding will consist entirely of another $4bn and change from EU taxpayers, since the consortium is no longer confident of getting a return on their own investment. (Somehow, it sounds almost as if they doubt the commercial prospects of being the third to launch a service which has already been available to everyone free of charge for over a decade...)

Despite this setback, with a further influx of EU funding, the European Commission hopes to have the constellation online by 2011; the American and Russian counterparts were completed in 1995 and 1994 respectively.

Just imagine how far behind the Soviet Union the EU would be without the influx of billions in extra funding to speed things up...


Multiply and conquer

Cyberdyne Cyberdyne writes  |  more than 7 years ago Time to follow the herd, I suppose: Multiply. Go there, and find out who it was who sent me an e-mail last week - asking me what my e-mail address is...


Server death, the sequel...

Cyberdyne Cyberdyne writes  |  about 8 years ago

*sniff* Alas, poor Server!

My current server, home to some of my websites, some e-mail and half my DNS service, has decided it would make life more fun if it rebooted spontaneously every few minutes. Nothing in the logs, just unsolicited rebooting - possibly a power supply issue of some sort. (All I know is SMART shows the hard drive is OK; I'd expect most memory or CPU problems to give different symptoms, but being eight time zones away makes diagnostics rather limited.)

I was going to have to change all my domain registrations anyway, since the IP address was going to change soon because of new transit arrangements with their transit provider, but now it's rather more urgent: I have a production site which is only sporadically available! :-(

My plan is to get a second virtual server (I had one virtual and one physical, until now) and set everything up to be replicated between them (currently, I only have DNS and MySQL replicated fully, with some web sites rsynced when I change them, others only hosted on one machine or the other). Email will be more of a pain: I have a few mailing lists under ezmlm, which I'll probably convert to use MySQL for replicated list management (so list posts get delivered to and distributed by either of the two) - but my mailboxes themselves can only live on a single host, really.

The one big advantage of having a physical server was the value: for about the same money, I got far more disk space, RAM and bandwidth, with a dedicated CPU instead of sharing a couple of Xeon cores with a dozen or two other users. On the downside, no console access (I did have for a while, but that disappeared at some point), less control (a couple of times I ordered remote power-cycling through the host's web interface, while still logged in to the server; from the fact I was still logged in, the reboot didn't seem as successful as the site claimed!) - and no protection against hardware failure, which suddenly seems much more important now...

Has anyone in the zoo set up things like this before? Or, for that matter, got any ideas why my previously-reliable server suddenly starts rebooting itself? Any hosting recommendations for me?


"Only" being paid $200k is a "constitutional crisis"

Cyberdyne Cyberdyne writes  |  about 8 years ago According to Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John Roberts, paying his colleagues a "mere" $200k, with federal district court judges languishing on just $165k, is "inadequate" and "has now reached the level of a constitutional crisis."

Inadequate compensation directly threatens the viability of life tenure, and if tenure in office is made uncertain, the strength and independence judges need to uphold the rule of law - even when it is unpopular to do so - will be seriously eroded

Frankly, I'm not convinced of his core assumption that "life tenure" is desirable, let alone essential - I'd prefer term limits, the very opposite, or at least having them face regular election to make them accountable to those they profess to serve. Perhaps he does have a point that without the taxpayer making judges rich directly, their greed will drive them into the pockets of lobbyists, but I suspect the opposite is more likely: make them richer and you'll be attracting more people motivated by money, rather than more laudable motives, as in the Simpsons episode where America entrusts the trillion dollar bill to Montgomery Burns: as the richest man, clearly he's the least corrupt.


The SJ degree

Cyberdyne Cyberdyne writes  |  more than 8 years ago 1. State I'd rather live in: TX
2. Stranded on island/desert: I'll take the dessert, please.
3. What "catches your eye" first in the opposite sex? Head - face, hair, expression, eyes.
4. How much do you think a guy should spend on an engagement ring? No idea
5. How old do you want to be when you retire? N/A - the idea of stopping work just because you hit some arbitrary age seems daft.
6. ? Probably.
7. Would you rather be the smartest person in the world or the most attractive person in the world? Smartest: looks fade much more readily.
8. Do you think tattoos are hot? Not really.
9. What was your first pet? A black Labrador.
10. Where did you go on your first Spring Break? Nope.
11. Are you scared of spiders or snakes? Not unless they're dangerous ones.
12. What was your first job? IT, scraping mangled bits off mangled servers.
13. What is in your front, right pocket? Handkerchief, some coins.
14. Do you put up a real Christmas tree each year? Usually - it's in the back of the car ATM...
15. How many blankets are on your bed? Just the one duvet.
16. Do you have a TV in your bedroom? No, just three or four computers.
17. When was the last time you received a card in the mail? This morning.
18. There is no question 18. Wrong: it's just rhetorical.
19. Who was the last person that text-messaged you? Probably my brother.
20. Who was the first person you saw today? Ditto - we're heading out for our weekly lunch together soon.
21. Do you have any awards hanging on your wall? No.
22. Do you own glasses? Yes - tried contacts, didn't like them.
23. When is the last time you shaved something on your body? My face, yesterday.
24. MIA.
25. What was your first vehicle? A Peugeot, with slightly dodgy brakes, which embedded itself in the back of something solid on its first outing. Not a good start.
26. Do you miss high school? Sometimes.
27. Are you more of a neat or messy person? Ask the team searching for the carpet.
28. Do you think that everyone should have a cell phone? Yes. Preferably one which only rings silently.
29. Do you remember your first family vacation? France - when my brother was taken ill and my mother had to explain to the doctor why she didn't want to give a two year old child aspirin.
30. Ever been in a fight with a best friend? Sort of - we argue over technical points all the time.
31. Ever puked in public? Only once - on the ceiling.
32. Would you prefer dinner and a movie or bowling and ice cream? The former.
33. Do you sleep with your door open or closed at night? Slightly open, so my cat can get in and out.
34. How far do you live from work? 20-odd miles, costing about $18/day by public transport. Not good value, even with $7/gallon as the alternative.
35. Do you believe in afterlife? Not particularly.
36. How many credit cards do you own? Five: one AmEx (which I normally use for the loyalty points), one Visa (which I normally use in places which don't take AmEx) and three MasterCard (two disused, one which I use at the moment becase it's interest free until September).
37. Would you move to another country tomorrow, if you were offered a $100,000 job? That depends on the country. The US, Australia, Canada? In a heartbeat. Iraq? Probably not.
38. How many kids do you see yourself having? Probably one or two, depending on circumstances.
39. Were you a trouble child? In some ways; I wasn't a big fan of rules.
40. Do you like butterflies? Yes.
41. Can you shake your booty? Erm... never tried - not really my thing.
42. Do you shower at night or in the morning? Morning.
43. Where is your favorite place to eat? It varies. I'm planning to try this place soon - most of my favorites are similar to that. There's a good Thai place in town where I'll probably have lunch today, though.
44. What did you wear to bed last night? A cat and a duvet.
45. Do you have to sleep with something "ON" every night in order to sleep? I like to have some music, although XP x64's driver "issues" robbed me of that lately :-(
46. On average, how much TV do you watch a day? Two hours, I suppose, while multi-tasking.
47. Do you have any piercings? No.
48. Would you rather go snorkeling in the Caribbean or hiking on the Appalachian Trail? Hiking: I'm too attached to being able to breathe.
49. Have you ever taken karate lessons? No, just judo.
50. Do you think if you got married, you would ever get a divorce? It's possible, but I hope not.


Weird spam

Cyberdyne Cyberdyne writes  |  about 9 years ago

Hrm. The latest piece of spam to hit my spambucket had a German title ("Gesundheit u. Medizin"), and the sender address was Ethelred. Apparently he's giving away Cadillac Escalades...

Then two more: one with content of "shagface" (and nothing else - no URL, nothing being advertised, nothing!) - and "Hey, Thanks for everything. I really appreciate all your help. Lila", which claimed to come from an Israeli email address and was sent to at least 8 addresses on this domain.

I can understand spammers promoting their online Viagra sales or whatever - but bizarre partly-German messages about free Cadillacs? Maybe they're just trying to validate their list, by seeing how many people actually reply - assuming the return address they put is actually valid?

Maybe I should just be glad they're still identified as spam, usually because of the open relays being abused to deliver them...


Meme me

Cyberdyne Cyberdyne writes  |  more than 9 years ago

1. Legal first name? James
2. Were you named after anyone? No
3. Do you wish on stars? No
4. When did you last cry? When my cat died a few years ago, I think.
5. What is your favorite lunch meat? Chicken or beef, I suppose.
6. What is your birth date? Feb 24
7. If you were another person, would YOU be friends with you? Probably
8. Do you use sarcasm a lot? Yep.
9. What are your nicknames? None.
10. Would you ever bungee jump? Maybe.
11. Do you untie your shoes when you take them off? Not normally.
12. Do you think that you are strong? Fairly
13. What is your favorite ice cream flavour? Mint choc chip
14. Shoe size? 11 UK, 12 US I think - varies a little with manufacturer
15. Red or pink? Red
16. Who do you miss most? Moving targets.
18. What color pants and shoes are you wearing? None right now, usually jeans and black shoes.
19. What are you listening to right now? A TV show
20. What did you eat for breakfast? Toasted cheese
21. If you were a crayon, what color would you be? Stripey :-)
22. What is the weather like right now? Cold, Damp and grey. It's Scotland.
23. Last person you talked to on the phone? My best friend, if text counts; my mother if not.
24. The first thing you notice about the opposite sex? Hair.
25. Do you like the person who sent this to you? I saw it in a set of friends' JEs; I guess I like them!
26. Favorite drink? Lemonade or coffee.
27. Hair color? Dark brown
28. Do you wear contacts? No.
29. Favorite food? Steak.
30. Last movie you watched? Erm... no idea.
31. Favorite day of the year? No idea
32. Scary movies or happy endings? Scary
33. Summer or winter? Winter
34. Hugs or kisses? Yes please :P
35. What is your favorite dessert? Cheesecake
36. Living arrangements? House.
38. What's on your mouse pad? The rest of the chair.
39. What did you watch last night on TV? ST:TNG, right now.
40. Favorite smell?
41. Favorite junk food?
42. Rolling Stones or Beatles? No.
43. What's the farthest you've been from home? Physically, Texas; culturally, France, whose Prime Minister was apparently talking about the need to "clean the immigrant scum with a power hose". Lovely.


Soylent Green is ... the source of BSE?!

Cyberdyne Cyberdyne writes  |  more than 9 years ago Apparently a new study indicates BSE (Mad Cow Disease) may have first infected cattle as a result of human remains in their feed. An interesting reversal of the previous assumptions about CJD's origins - which raises the obvious chicken/egg problem: if CJD actually spread to cattle to become BSE, where did CJD really come from?


Mad doctors

Cyberdyne Cyberdyne writes  |  more than 9 years ago

These are actual notes from Doctors' patient charts...

1. Patient has chest pain if she lies on her left side for over a year.

2. On the 2nd day the knee was better and on the 3rd day it disappeared completely.

3. She has had no rigors or shaking chills, but her husband states she was very hot in bed last night.

4. The patient has been depressed ever since she began seeing me in 1993.

5. The patient is tearful and crying constantly. She also appears to be depressed.

6. Discharge status: Alive but without permission.

7. Healthy appearing decrepit 69 year-old male. Mentally alert but forgetful.

8. The patient refused an autopsy.

9. The patient has no past history of suicides.

10. Patient has left his white blood cells at another hospital.

11. Patient's past medical history has been remarkably insignificant with only a 40 pound weight gain in the past three days.

12. Patient had waffles for breakfast and anorexia for lunch.

13. Between you and me, we ought to be able to get this lady pregnant.

14. Since she can't get pregnant with her husband, I thought you might like to work her up.

15. She is numb from her toes down.

16. While in the ER, she was examined, X-rated and sent home.

17. The skin was moist and dry.

18. Occasional, constant, infrequent headaches.

19. Patient was alert and unresponsive.

20. Rectal exam revealed a normal size thyroid.

21. She stated that she had been constipated for most of her life, until she got a divorce.

22. I saw your patient today, who is still under our car for physical therapy.

23. Both breasts are equal and reactive to light and accommodation.

24. Exam of genitalia reveals that he is circus sized.

25. The lab test indicated abnormal lover function.

26. The patient was to have a bowel re-section. However, he took a job as a lawyer instead.

27. Skin: Somewhat pale but present.

28. The pelvic examination will be done later on the floor.

29. Patient was seen in consultation by Dr. Blank, who felt we should sit on the abdomen and I agree.

30. Large brown stool ambulating in the hall.

31. Patient has two teenage children, but no other abnormalities.



Cyberdyne Cyberdyne writes  |  more than 9 years ago (This rant brought to you by a chunk of my life wasted trying to achieve something in Excel which should have been trivial, but was needlessly complicated by Microsoft's use of defective bacteria to write software.)

You might think a search and replace function was trivial. Indeed, I'm sure that even the non-programmers among us could figure it out given a good book or two and a few hours to experiment. However, that is why you aren't working for Microsoft, developing infuriating paperclips...

Yep, that's right. The lobotomized ass-spawn who brought us such masterpieces of user-friendly software as MS Bob and That Infernal Paperclip managed to screw up one of the most basic text manipulation functions, "Replace". Try it on a cell too large, you're hit with "Formula too large." Never mind that it is text, with no formula in sight. Never mind that Excel allows manual editing (plus saving, loading, importing and exporting) of this data just fine. Never mind that OpenOffice's spreadsheet component manages it just fine. *snarl*. Where would I like to go today? Well, how about a trip a decade into the future, by which time hopefully Microsoft have managed to recruit somebody with programming skills good enough to pass at least a high school beginners' programming exam?

Never one to be outdone by Microsoft, the Novell DHCP server decides this would be a good day to start disabling DHCP allocations. Time to retire that particular bug collection, I think.

Finally, to crown it all, I find out a guy from my old school (a couple of years below me) died yesterday. Can anything else find a way to go wrong before bed?


$89,000 a year in benefits - and it's not enough

Cyberdyne Cyberdyne writes  |  more than 9 years ago Scary. One woman in England, with fifteen children (plus seven miscarriages) is claiming welfare payments equivalent to an $89,000/yr salary - in addition to free housing, healthcare and education, of course. Last Christmas she spent around $9k, including two PS2s, two TVs and a few bicycles. Her comment on this? The house the taxpayer provides for her isn't big enough. Never a thought of trying to earn money herself to fund her way of life, of course: that's everyone else's problem...


A clue is born...

Cyberdyne Cyberdyne writes  |  more than 9 years ago Promising comments from the top - he doesn't have the power to implement it, of course, but should have some influence.

After my last JE, I found myself losing service entirely for around ten minutes during a journey - starting right in the middle of a mid-size city. Oh, that wonderful legacy technology...


Cellphone Schadenfreude

Cyberdyne Cyberdyne writes  |  more than 9 years ago The cellphone industry seems even more enthusiastic about bizarre acronyms than most technology areas, but this guy knows his way around them better than many. A good explanation of the nature of TDMA, GSM (actually an alternative layer on top of TDMA, as he explains) and CDMA, as well as the two competing CDMA derivatives, WCDMA (also known as UMTS or "3g") and CDMA2000, although he does focus more on the lower levels of the technology and how GSM's weaknesses are causing major headaches for the networks using it, rather than the security flaws in the higher levels...


Meme me

Cyberdyne Cyberdyne writes  |  more than 9 years ago

Just joining in QotOR's trend here...

(x) smoked a cigarette -- most of a packet one night, along with a couple of cigars.
( ) crashed a friend's car -- only my own - see below...
( ) stolen a car (a friends)
(x) been in love -- haven't we all?
(x) been dumped -- sort of, depending who tells it...
( ) shoplifted -- caught my best friend doing it once, though.
( ) been fired
(x) been in a fist fight -- sort of: broke someone's wrist with my face once...
( ) snuck out of your parent's house
(x) had feelings for someone who didn't have them back
( ) been arrested
( ) gone on a blind date
( ) lied to a friend
( ) skipped school
( ) seen someone die
( ) had a crush on one of your internet friends -- too limited for that. I'd need to meet someone in person first.
(x) been to Canada
( ) been to Mexico -- Texas, but only the far side of it. I do love Tex-Mex food, though...
(x) been on a plane -- including the front seat.
(x) purposely set a part of yourself on fire
(x) eaten sushi -- one of my favorite foods, in fact.
(x) been skiing
(x) met someone from the internet
(x) been at a concert
(x) taken painkillers
( ) love someone or miss someone right now
(x) laid on your back and watched cloud shapes go by
( ) made a snow angel
( ) had a tea party -- never been to Boston, either.
(x) flown a kite
(x) built a sand castle
( ) gone puddle jumping
( ) played dress up -- unless being on TV counts
( ) jumped into a pile of leaves
(x) gone sledding
(x) cheated while playing a game -- single-player only!
(x) been lonely
(x) fallen asleep at work/school
( ) used a fake ID -- had a guy from Pakistan try to buy one from me for EUR7000 once though.
(x) watched the sun set
( ) felt an earthquake
(x) slept beneath the stars -- if in tents counts
(x) been tickled
( ) been robbed
(x) been misunderstood
( ) petted a reindeer /kangaroo
(x) won a contest
( ) run a red light/stop sign
( ) been suspended from school
(x) been in a car crash -- brakelines cut. Not good. I didn't need medical attention after that one, though, unlike the bus crash which had me kept in overnight for observation, since I passed out later that day, having left a head-shaped dent in the back of the bus; come to think of it, that's the only night I've ever spent in hospital.
( ) had braces
(x) felt like an outcast/third person
( ) eaten a whole pint of ice cream in one night
(x) had deja vu
( ) danced in the moonlight
( ) liked the way you looked
(x) witnessed a crime
(x) questioned your heart
( ) been obsessed with post-it notes
( ) squished barefoot through the mud
( ) been lost
(x) been on the opposite side of the country
( ) swam in the ocean
(x) felt like dying
(x) cried yourself to sleep
( ) played cops and robbers
( ) recently colored with crayons
( ) sung karaoke
(x) paid for a meal with only coins -- in a country where the smallest note is around $9 and the largest normal coin almost $4, that's not hard...
(x) done something you told yourself you wouldn't do
( ) made prank phone calls
(x) laughed until some kind of beverage came out of your nose
(x) caught a snowflake on your tongue
(x) danced in the rain
( ) written a letter to Santa Claus
(x) been kissed under the mistletoe
( ) watched the sun rise with someone you care about -- I want to
(x) blown bubbles
( ) made a bonfire on the beach
( ) crashed a party
( ) gone rollerskating
(x) had a wish come true
( ) jumped off a bridge
( ) ate dog/cat food
( ) told a complete stranger you loved them
( ) kissed a mirror
( ) sang in the shower
(x) had a dream that you married someone
(x) glued your hand to something -- superglue. Fortunately, it didn't stick for long.
( ) kissed a fish
(x) sat on a roof top
( ) screamed at the top of your lungs
( ) done a one-handed cartwheel
( ) talked on the phone for more than 5 hours -- unless the Internet counts. Record: over 150 hours on a single call, back when per-minute charges applied except to calls starting on a weekend...
(x) stayed up all night
( ) picked and ate an apple right off the tree
(x) climbed a tree
(x) had a tree house
( ) scared to watch a scary movie alone
( ) believe in ghosts
( ) have more than 30 pairs of shoes
( ) worn a really ugly outfit to school
( ) gone streaking
( ) gone doorbell ditching
( ) played gay chicken? -- uh, what is that?
( ) pushed into a pool/hot tub with all your clothes on
( ) told you're hot by a complete stranger
( ) broken a bone -- cut the tip of my finger off once, but reattached it
(x) been easily amused
( ) caught a fish then ate it
( ) caught a butterfly
(x) laughed so hard you cried
( ) cried so hard you laughed
( ) cheated on a test
(x) forgotten someone's name -- all the time. Which is strange, since I have an excellent memory for almost everything else...
( ) french braided someone's hair
( ) gone skinny dipping in a pool/hot tub -- a friend tried to talk me into it once, but no...
(x) been threatened to be kicked out of your house
( ) loved someone so much you would gladly die for them


Crying Wolf?

Cyberdyne Cyberdyne writes  |  more than 9 years ago Hm. So last night's evacuation of 20,000 or so people from Birmingham turns out to have been a false alarm, it seems - but one of the "suspicious packages" included "a box with wires hanging out and a switch on top". A genuine accident, given the timing and the box's appearance? That seems unlikely - more likely, someone is trying to cause "false" alarms like this. Last night, just two days after Thursday's attack on London, of course everyone took it seriously - will they react as well the third time in a row? Then a genuine one, and recriminations for not taking that warning seriously as well...

In a sense - if it was deliberate - last night was a successful attack, and very economical too: not an ounce of explosives, not one shred of incriminating evidence (just some guys carrying backpacks on a bus, then 'forgetting' them when they get off) - yet it caused huge disruption to people's lives, economic harm: a very effective DoS.

Manipulating warnings of a terrorist attack is nothing new, of course; the IRA did so in the Omagh bombing, phoning in a last-minute warning to evacuate the other end of the target street, resulting in people being rushed towards the actual bomb.


Deja vu?

Cyberdyne Cyberdyne writes  |  more than 9 years ago Uh-oh. Something bad about to happen? A hoax? Something bad prevented from happening? Presumably we'll find out soon...

Update: More comprehensive article here.


Simple Home Remedies

Cyberdyne Cyberdyne writes  |  more than 9 years ago

  • If you are choking on an ice cube, don't panic. Simply pour a cup of boiling water down your throat and presto. The blockage will be almost instantly removed.
  • Clumsy? Avoid cutting yourself while slicing vegetables by getting someone else to hold them while you chop away.
  • Avoid arguments with the Mrs. about lifting the toilet seat by simply using the sink.
  • For high blood pressure sufferers: simply cut yourself and bleed for a few minutes, thus reducing the pressure in your veins. Remember to use a timer.
  • A mouse trap, placed on top of your alarm clock, will prevent you from rolling over and going back to sleep after you hit the snooze button.
  • If you have a bad cough, take a large dose of laxatives, then you will be afraid to cough.
  • Have a bad toothache? Smash your thumb with a hammer and you will forget about the toothache.

Sometimes, we just need to remember what the rules of life really are:

You only need two tools: WD-40 and Duct Tape.
If it doesn't move and should, use the WD-40.
If it shouldn't move and does, use the duct tape.

Everyone seems normal until you get to know them.
Never pass up an opportunity to go to the bathroom.
If you woke up breathing, congratulations! You get another chance.
And finally, be really nice to your family and friends; you never know when you might need them to empty your bedpan.



Cyberdyne Cyberdyne writes  |  more than 9 years ago As I type this, one of history's less popular weddings is imminent, with a rather small crowd of spectators lurking outside. Quite a few are waving small flags (mostly British, one of them American!) - and there's a large Union Flag draped over one of the barriers keeping the crowd off the road. Unfortunately, it is the wrong way up - traditionally a sign of distress, although probably accidental in this case.


OBL's reward of 72 virgin...

Cyberdyne Cyberdyne writes  |  more than 9 years ago ...ians!

After his death, Osama bin Laden went to paradise.

He was greeted by George Washington, who slapped him across the face and yelled angrily, "How dare you attack the nation I helped conceive!" Then Patrick Henry punched Osama in the nose and James Madison kicked him in the groin. Bin Laden was subjected to similar beatings from John Randolph, James Monroe, Thomas Jefferson and 66 other early Americans.

As he writhed in pain on the ground, an angel appeared. Bin Laden groaned, "This is not what I was promised!"

The angel replied, "I told you there would be 72 Virginians waiting for you! What did you think I said?"

In a similar vein, I like three shorted versions: "The good news? There are 72 virgins here. The bad news? They stay that way...", "the bad news is, there's a reason they're still virgins" and "Hey, I never said they'd be female virgins!"

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