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TechCentral Scams Call Center Scammers

Dr_Barnowl Re: Fail (247 comments)

The 99% believe that there is no kind of talent or ability that makes one person's labour literally worth 10,000 times that of another.

Those kind of wages (I refuse to say "earnings") usually require either the direction of vast amounts of other peoples labour (and therefore represent a salami slicing scam where the productivity of that labour is being directed up the corporate pyramid), or intangible and imaginary "wealth" which in effect is just a massive confidence trick.

The 1% are bilking the rest of us. They live high on the hog by using their power to manipulate the system to deliver the fruits of our labours into their pockets. That's what the 99% actually believe.

Scamming some noob because they don't understand computers is morally no different, but a drop in the bucket in comparison.

5 days ago
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New Windows Coming In Late September -- But Which One?

Dr_Barnowl Re:Already? (251 comments)

XP was 5.1

Windows 2000 was Windows 5 (and very stable, and really, really fast on modern hardware). Inevitably it was DRM that put paid to my attempt to keep using Windows 2000 until it was impractical... some of the games I wanted to play were depending on cryptographic components that didn't ship in Win2k.

So I "upgraded" to Vista.

I didn't have quite the same urge to hold onto that one as long as possible....

5 days ago
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New Windows Coming In Late September -- But Which One?

Dr_Barnowl Re:Not worth it (251 comments)

MS do OEM and retail disks, distinct from vendor-specific OEM images.

The OEM release is intended to go on one machine ONLY and the license is bound to that system. Upgrading it will typically provoke different levels of incredulity from the activiation server.

The retail release is allowed to be on one machine CONCURRENTLY and you can move it between machines, and upgrade to your hearts content, although you may still get hassled into phoning a robot and beeping a bit at it.

The rules about selling the OEM disk are supposed to mean that it only goes to the manufacture of a new computer, but I've seen vendors bend the rules as far as they can go and sell the OEM disk to anyone that buys a new hard drive.

5 days ago
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New Windows Coming In Late September -- But Which One?

Dr_Barnowl Re:Not worth it (251 comments)

MS do have a program for this, it's called the Microsoft Signature Experience - it's a selected range of hardware sold without crapware on it.

Alas, it only covers a tiny selection of hardware.

For desktops, I always buy parts and install Windows myself. For laptops, if it comes with a standard Windows medium, I'll bleach it clean and reinstall from scratch.

Laptops which make you burn your own recovery disks with the crapware on them are taking the piss.

5 days ago
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Students From States With Faster Internet Tend To Have Higher Test Scores

Dr_Barnowl Re:Several countries ban homeschooling (175 comments)

The problem with homeschooling is that it's usually used not as a means to educate your kids better, it's most often used because you have a particular worldview you want them to be exposed to, to the exclusion of all others.

about two weeks ago
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How many devices are connected to your home Wi-Fi?

Dr_Barnowl Re:None (260 comments)

Hipsters aren't fat, either.

They can't afford to eat enough to get fat on the artisanal delights, that are in any case, mostly purchased for their ornamental value on the plate next to their ethically conscious coffee.

about two weeks ago
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Microsoft Lobby Denies the State of Chile Access To Free Software

Dr_Barnowl Re:Chilean Software Industry (159 comments)

I consider doing this even here in the UK sometimes.

My office shelled out, I estimate, around €30,000 for WinRAR licenses. Looking at the report justifying it's purchase, it's clear that 7-zip beats it out in basically every category of functionality that they assessed it on... but no-one sells 7-zip so you have no-one to point the finger at if it fails.

A small company selling support for F/OSS packages could really clean up (and probably not have to do very much real work), just by tendering prices a little under the "market leader" for F/OSS programs that occupy a commodity niche.

about two weeks ago
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Microsoft Lobby Denies the State of Chile Access To Free Software

Dr_Barnowl Re:Microsoft cannot compete in the marketplace... (159 comments)

running the stuff people want .... Windows does so, Linux doesn't.

Depends on the people, depends on what they want.

You could invert that sentence and swap "Mac" for "Linux" for many audiences ; particularly creative types that have specialist apps that only run on one platform.

For simple uses... there's no problem. Linux has browsers, email clients, and LibreOffice. For business purposes, anything written in Java or one of the other virtual runtimes should be easy to port to Linux, or run right out of the box.

For complex uses... it depends on the niche. Certainly for software development, Linux wins for basically everything except native and .NET Windows apps. For other uses, I will grant you, the professional-grade applications are not available (even if they run in Wine). But I'm not an artist. I'm a developer.

Gaming is one of the things that keeps Windows on my hard drive, but Valve are trying their darndest to make this irrelevant. I'm watching with interest, but Windows won't be going away just yet....

But that's it. All my real work is done on Linux. Windows has been relegated to the status of a toy for me. I find it frustrating and clumsy to work with - even more so once the IT department has shackled the vast suite of corporate malware they deem necessary to the chain around it's neck. The software I produce is a mixture of server processes and client tools that run on both Windows and Linux. I even *gasp* pay for software to run on Linux.

I agree there is a vast technical debt built up apps written on platform-specific toolkits, but they become obsolete eventually and there's no excuse for porting them to another platform-locked toolkit any more.

about two weeks ago
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Microsoft Lobby Denies the State of Chile Access To Free Software

Dr_Barnowl Re:Microsoft cannot compete in the marketplace... (159 comments)

It's really that most people have more experience of Windows.

I'd argue it's not actually any easier. Both have their quirks and complexities. I have a lot of experience with both ; I find Linux far easier than Windows.

My Mother had limited experience with both ; she finds Linux just as difficult as Windows, but I find it easier to support her on Linux. All things being equal she uses the same apps (Firefox, Thunderbird, LibreOffice), I'd rather she was on a platform I can support easily and is somewhat robust against security risks.

Microsoft know this ; which is why they are so aggressive about making sure that people's early experience of computers is with Windows - cheap deals for students and schools, etc.

about two weeks ago
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Microsoft Lobby Denies the State of Chile Access To Free Software

Dr_Barnowl Re:Publicly Funded Governments (159 comments)

This is true, but all things being equal, much of the data is held to ransom behind proprietary format at present.

"Open" implies that the format is accessible without prejudice ; beyond eliminating the need for a computer altogether (which is impractical), that means it should be accessible on the three big desktop platforms, probably the web as well.

Totally agree that for simple data like character delimited text tables it's not a problem, and Open Data should tend toward the simplest format practical to convey the information. But for complex things like office documents, there should be a F/OSS choice for the format chosen, because it's just not practical to ask people to code up their own viewer / editor for a given format.

And if there are F/OSS tools for your selected format, it would seem to be the logical choice to use them in public office, given that they are all about saving money, unless there are compelling reasons to use the proprietary software. And for open formats... there are usually compelling reasons NOT to use the proprietary software, because much of it almost seems designed to break open formats. (viz : all versions of Excel I've used have a tendency to completely ruin ODS workbooks containing formulas).

about two weeks ago
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UK Police Warn Sharing James Foley Killing Video Is a Crime

Dr_Barnowl Re:Thoughtcrime (391 comments)

Making it should be illegal. Viewing it arguably does no additional harm (if you presume that anyone who would view it it willingly is already irreversibly fucked up, and people who aren't fucked up are appropriately digusted).

Viewing it is illegal in my jurisdiction. Which paradoxically makes it impossible to report if you stumble upon it in a place where you didn't expect (or want) to find it, because if you do so you're now confessing to a crime. This arguably means that kiddy porn remains available for longer than it otherwise would.

It should certainly be illegal to make it. And illegal to knowingly distribute it. And illegal to pay for it (directly - paying for a service that happens to unintentionally host kiddy porn shouldn't count, paying for a service devoted to kiddy porn should). But making it illegal to view or possess means that if you accidentally stumble upon it, you both viewed it, and because your computer cached it, possessed it, which means that people are far less likely to report it for fear of incriminating themselves.

about two weeks ago
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If Fusion Is the Answer, We Need To Do It Quickly

Dr_Barnowl Re:Ready in 30 years (305 comments)

Deuterium and tritium are *rare*, and their main sources are oil wells.

You're mixing them up with helium, which is extracted from a fraction of natural gas.

Deuterium is very common, it just requires effort to extract.

Tritium is the rare one. Less than 300kg of it has ever been made. It's radioactive, so it disappears. There's probably less than 100kg of it in the world now.

about two weeks ago
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Hemp Fibers Make Better Supercapacitors Than Graphene

Dr_Barnowl Re:not superconducting (178 comments)

It's the dielectric that needs to be an insulator ; these are electrode materials, which you want to be good conductors.

about two weeks ago
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Hemp Fibers Make Better Supercapacitors Than Graphene

Dr_Barnowl Re:suitable for home use? (178 comments)

Asbestos is just silicate rock. Structure makes a difference..

Graphene is just a sheet of carbon, but it's structure gives it novel properties - it wouldn't be a super-material if it didn't, just because it's all cool and awesome doesn't mean it's also inert and harmless.

about two weeks ago
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Hemp Fibers Make Better Supercapacitors Than Graphene

Dr_Barnowl Re:suitable for home use? (178 comments)

There's another approach to this, but it's gone a bit quiet ; they use a novel dielecric and claim that they can get incredibly high voltages out of it which makes for high energy storage.

EEStor

Since the dielectric is one part and the electrode another, I wonder what kind of advantages you'd get from combining the two? (Not sure if hemp electrodes would be compatible with their manufacturing process which uses metal foils as electrodes at the moment, as per traditional capaciptors).

about two weeks ago
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Point-and-Shoot: TrackingPoint's New Linux-Controlled AR-15s

Dr_Barnowl Re:Now do that with an AA-12 (219 comments)

It is. And the license explicitly permits it. Any kind of restriction on it's use and it's not Free Software.

about three weeks ago
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Study: Firmware Plagued By Poor Encryption and Backdoors

Dr_Barnowl Re:Of course (141 comments)

> Who's going to hack your fridge?

If your fridge is tied into your grocery shopping (which would seem to be a major reason to have a smart fridge... really, a dumb fridge is just fine at turning the compressor on and off), then you might be able to hack it and buy neat stuff and get it delivered to a drop location (even the owners own driveway ... "Yeah, I'll be out, drop it behind the paper recycling bin...").

about three weeks ago
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Study: Firmware Plagued By Poor Encryption and Backdoors

Dr_Barnowl Re: Of course (141 comments)

Yeah, they really are more short sighted, they only want *this* sale, which is the reason they cut the quality of things.

Of course, people feed this tendency by buying crappy products. Which sadly, makes the good quality products even more expensive because they can't benefit from the same economies of scale.

Keyboards, for example. When PCs cost $2000 (and $2000 meant something), $40 on a keyboard was barely noticeable.

Now the standard keyboard cost $5 and it shows. Issuing these keyboards to people expected to use a computer professionally is in my opinion, almost criminal, as they contribute to RSI and finger joint arthritis. A decent keyboard now costs even less than it did back then (in adjusted dollars) but they still ship the crap ones because they have to meet that price point.

about three weeks ago
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"Secret Serum" Used To Treat Americans With Ebola

Dr_Barnowl Re:Expert:Ebola Vaccine At Least 50 White People A (390 comments)

It's also shit like taking colchicine, which has been cheap and generic for years, doing a little extra research (which arguably was useful) and then using that status to bump the price up by 15 times.

Those people taking the drug couldn't give a shit about the research - they take the pills, their gout gets better, that's their own personal research right there. What sticks in their craw is that their pills now cost $5 apiece.

That and the systematic hiding of research that is negative or equivocal, the deliberate creation of medicines that are just a couple of atoms different from an existing one, not because they'll be better but because they'll be on patent, etc, etc.

Big pharma does a lot of good, but it's kind of like picking gold coins out of a midden.

about a month ago

Submissions

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Eric Schmidt urges regulation of mini-drones

Dr_Barnowl Dr_Barnowl writes  |  about a year ago

Dr_Barnowl (709838) writes "The BBC reports that the CEO of Google thinks that drones should be regulated. Drones are certainly a hot topic, with appearances on both side of the divide in Cory Doctorow's novel Homeland — with the authorities using them to distribute riot gas, and the noble hackers using them to post the video of them doing it. Is Eric really concerned over how the public will use drones against each other, or is he more concerned that they might eat into Google's pie somehow?"
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UK Government - "Pay a £20 fee to acquit yourself of file-sharing (maybe)"

Dr_Barnowl Dr_Barnowl writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Dr_Barnowl (709838) writes "The BBC reports that the UK government plans to introduce a £20 fee if you wish to appeal against an allegation of copyright infringement, within 20 days of your accusation. Note that this doesn't guarantee acquittal, as only "excuses" covered in the Digital Economy Act will be valid even for consideration. This scheme could be in place as early as 2014, so John Smith, General Secretary of the Musicians' Union says "We urge ISPs to begin building their systems now and to work constructively with rights holders, Ofcom and government to get notice-sending up and running as soon as possible,". What are the thoughts of Slashdot?"
Link to Original Source
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EU Proposes HFT Transaction Tax

Dr_Barnowl Dr_Barnowl writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Dr_Barnowl (709838) writes "The BBC reports that the UK opposes a proposed new tax on transactions with at least one end Europe. Why is this "News for Nerds"? The proposal includes tax on derivatives, an instrument the High Frequency Trading stories we've been chowing down on recently. With the proposed tax being 0.1% or 0.01% for derivatives, the story highlights the sheer volumes involved — it's speculated that the tax would earn some €57B a year ($78B), around 80% of it from the City of London. A transaction tax like this is something frequently proposed in Slashdot HFT discussions. The UK says that it will veto the tax "unless it was imposed globally" — should the USA follow suit and impose a similar levy targeted at the trading desks of the NYSE?"
Link to Original Source
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Sony to convert online bookstore to open format

Dr_Barnowl Dr_Barnowl writes  |  about 5 years ago

Dr_Barnowl (709838) writes "The BBC reports that Sony are to convert their online bookstore to the EPUB format.

While this format still supports DRM, it's supported on a much wider variety of readers. Is this a challenge to Kindle? It's nice to see Sony opening up to the idea of open standards ; even if you still have reservations about buying a Sony device, you might be able to patronise their bookstore sometime soon."
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Google to release another open-source OS

Dr_Barnowl Dr_Barnowl writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Dr_Barnowl (709838) writes "The BBC reports that Google are planning to release another operating system : Google Chrome OS.

This is apparently going to consist of the Google Chrome browser, running in "a new windowing system". The browser is the platform, much like it is in the Palm Pre smartphone, part of the intention being to provide a fast boot time.

They are setting their sights first on the growing market for netbooks, with ARM and x86 compatibility planned out of the starting gate.

A "browser OS" would probably do just fine for the majority of users, but I don't think I'm ready to give up my heavy client-side platforms just yet. What will be interesting to see is the Microsoft response to this — they have enjoyed an alleged "96%" share of the netbook market OS recently, so anything designed to eat into that will not be popular in the Redmond boardroom."
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EA releases license deactivation management tool.

Dr_Barnowl Dr_Barnowl writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Dr_Barnowl (709838) writes "Electronic Arts have posted a link to a SecuROM De-authorization management tool. Once downloaded, the tool will search your drives for EA games infested with the draconian online DRM system, and help you download their respective individual de-activation tools.

This isn't a perfect solution, since it's still possible to run out of activations in the event of hardware failure or other source of data loss, but since the announcement that this particular DRM system will be dropped for The Sims 3 , it would seem that EA has had a minor epiphany about DRM."

Link to Original Source
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British IRS loses database of every child in UK.

Dr_Barnowl Dr_Barnowl writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Dr_Barnowl (709838) writes "News breaking in the UK is that the HM Revenue & Customs (the UK version of the IRS) has lost in the post discs containing the entire Child Benefit database. Every child in the UK is entitled to receive Child Benefit, so this covers some 25M people (out of the UK population of some 60M), 7.25M families, and contains names, addresses, dates of birth, bank account numbers and national insurance number (aka SSN).

The lost data has failed to turn up under a search by HM Customs (famous for rooting contraband out of tight spaces) and the UK police.

This is data loss on an unprecedented scale. Many of the people questioning the Chancellor of the Exchequer at this moment are using the issue to raise questions about the UK government plans for a national ID database.

The data was apparently "password protected". The word "encryption" has also been used, but not in connection to the data, so it could well be something as simple as a passworded ZIP archive. The data was placed onto a couple of optical media and sent to another government office, for audit purposes, via the internal post system provided by a third party courier. This was not the first occurrence of the database being transferred in this way.

While there is no evidence so far that the data is being put to nefarious uses, this will cause total chaos in the UK banking system ; affected accounts are being flagged and mothers across the country will be phoning their bank in a panic."

Link to Original Source
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Swedish company trials peer-to-peer cellphones

Dr_Barnowl Dr_Barnowl writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Dr_Barnowl (709838) writes "TerraNet is trialling a p2p based mobile telephony system. Phones are used to route calls onto other phones, constructing mesh networks of "up to 20km".

The BBC reports the natural tendency of the big telecoms providers to want to squash this. I can see other problems though. The advantages in an environment with sparse cell coverage are obvious, but network effects mean that the number of connections in a heavily populated mesh grow exponentially. What happens to your battery life when your phone becomes a node? And while the company is optimistic that they have a viable technology model from IP licensing, the demand for devices supporting this is going to be proportional to the number of devices that it can connect you to.

On the plus side, it would provide some great experience with mesh networks."

Link to Original Source
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Dr_Barnowl Dr_Barnowl writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Dr_Barnowl (709838) writes "The BBC reports in prose and in video that Robert Soloway, an alleged user of zombie spamming networks, has been arrested in Seattle. He will be charged with aggravated identity theft, the first such charge since the relevant law was passed in 2003.

While it's highly encouraging to see spammers brought to book, the spam level has not noticeably decreased since his arrest, testimony to the more prevalent spam output of eastern European and Asian sources."

Link to Original Source
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Dr_Barnowl Dr_Barnowl writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Dr_Barnowl (709838) writes "The CEO of Sun Microsystems blogs that "no amount of fear can stop the rise of [...] free software". While he avoids specifically mentioning a certain software company by name, he links directly to the interview in Fortune that started all this brouhaha.

He makes a special point that Sun "... decided to innovate, not litigate."

You have to wonder who else from the corporate world may pitch in at this point."

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