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Comments

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EU Proposes To Fit Cars With Speed Limiters

Tim Ward Re:Three reasons why this won't work (732 comments)

Why not fit cars with a voluntary limiter that users can enable themselves?

I've got one. It's called a "cruise control". I set it to the speed limit and ignore the pricks trying to climb in my rear window.

1 year,20 days
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Feds Seek Prison For Man Who Taught How To Beat a Polygraph

Tim Ward But we've always known ... (374 comments)

... that there's no such thing as a working lie detector.

Surely you're not trying to tell us that there's some government somewhere that believes otherwise and actually uses the things??

1 year,22 days
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Apple Launches iPhone Trade-In Program

Tim Ward What will they do with the ones they take in? (116 comments)

Throw them away? - they don't want people buying "old" iThingies, do they, that reduces the market for new ones. How green is that.

1 year,22 days
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New JavaScript-Based Timing Attack Steals All Browser Source Data

Tim Ward Self-referential story? (167 comments)

My browser won't let me open the target web site because it thinks it's nasty!

about a year ago
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My NSA-induced paranoia level:

Tim Ward Pretty sure Special Branch know all about me (290 comments)

Applied for a job at GCHQ once, have attended various royal and political events etc. Don't suppose they're particularly bothered.

about a year ago
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British Architects Develop Open-Source Home Building

Tim Ward Who do you sue ... (96 comments)

... when you've built your house and the building inspectors or planning enforcement come along to check and find something wrong with it?

about a year ago
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An Open Letter To Google Chairman Eric Schmidt On Drones

Tim Ward Re:Useful as Surrogates (171 comments)

It needs to have feedback, though, so that the "pilot" dies if the drone crashes.

Otherwise it's a bit of an uneven playing field, no, with me up there in my little aeroplane and people flying drones into my path with no comeback if they screw up?

about a year ago
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My primary, active (vs. backup) local disk space is ...

Tim Ward Storage requirements will increase to meet storage (163 comments)

So you might have thought, but I've only just managed to fill just under 40% of this disk after several years' use.

Perhaps it's because I don't fill my disk up with tens of gigabytes of stolen porno movies?

about a year and a half ago
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Ask Slashdot: Linux Friendly Video Streaming?

Tim Ward Backwards (147 comments)

The usual answer to questions like this is:

(1) Decide what you want the computer to do

(2) Acquire the right platform.

Syaing "I've already got [whatever platform], how do I make it do what I want?" is often not a helpful approach.

about a year and a half ago
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New Director Chosen At Fermilab

Tim Ward April Fool's gag?? (52 comments)

Eh??? It's 19:28 here (that's around 7:30pm in American, I think).

Plenty of other web sites manage to adjust themselves to the time zone of the reader ... obviously that would be a bit too clever for /.

about a year and a half ago
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Nuclear Arms Cuts, Supported By 56% of Americans, Would Make the World Safer

Tim Ward Isn't it the constitutional right of any American (615 comments)

... to buy as many nukes as they like at any gun show without even having to prove their identity?

about a year and a half ago
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I most look forward to flying with ...

Tim Ward I usually take ... (303 comments)

... headset, map, Pooleys, and other navigation equipment as needed for the trip.

Any passengers I carry had better not be carrying explosives, acid etc but beyond that I only really care about the weight.

about a year and a half ago
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Ask Slashdot: Dealing With Flagged Channels For XBMC PVR?

Tim Ward Get a life? (328 comments)

As title. Get a life, then no need to watch the box.

about a year and a half ago
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Ask Slashdot: Monitor Setup For Programmers

Tim Ward Using a laptop for programming?? (312 comments)

Crap display, crap keyboard, crap mouse replacement, low main memory, small slow hard disk. (Unless you've got a solid state disk.)

Just use a real computer, you know you want to.

about a year and a half ago
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Lessons From the Papal Conclave About Election Security

Tim Ward Re:Every step of the election process is observed (183 comments)

Exactly. The problem with buying votes is verifying that you've got what you've paid for. With a vote placed in the ballot box by the voter there is no way to achieve this ... but there is a way to achieve it with postal votes, which is one of the things wrong with postal votes.

about a year and a half ago
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Lessons From the Papal Conclave About Election Security

Tim Ward Every step of the election process is observed (183 comments)

That's the key, and makes for clean elections - I've observed elections in the UK, Kosovo and Ukraine.

This tends to mean manual counting of physical pieces of paper that have been marked by the voter by hand, as that's vastly easier for lay people to observe and verify than hidden things going on inside computers or other machines. (I'm not saying that proper independent observation by lay people of what goes on inside a machine isn't possible, just that nobody has worked out how to do it yet.) If I'd observed an election involving machines I would have had to write in my report that I had no confidence in the outcome of the election because I had no visibility of what was going on inside the machines.

The big problem with the cleanliness of the UK voting system is postal votes - and this is in my view precisely because this is a part of the process which is *not* independently observed - you don't know for sure who applied for the postal ballots, who acquired them, or who filled them in under what pressure.

about a year and a half ago
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USMA: Going the Extra Kilometer For Metrication

Tim Ward Re:Boggle (909 comments)

Good point.

I come across this when calculating how much fuel to put in an aeroplane - the bowser dispenses litres, I need to know what that is in pounds for the weight and balance calculation, and the fuel burn (and thus how much fuel I need) is specified in the POH in gallons per hour ... ... but these are indeed American gallons, not Imperial ones, and getting that sort of thing wrong can kill people.

about a year and a half ago
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USMA: Going the Extra Kilometer For Metrication

Tim Ward Boggle (909 comments)

Are the Colonies really still using Imperial units? - thought they must have stopped doing that yonks ago, after losing all those space probes to erroneous conversions between foot-slug-poundals and furlongs-per-fortnight.

Or is it like their refusal to use global standard paper sizes, or basically follow any other international standards - if it was invented in Europe it must de facto be Communist and therefore can't be touched with a barge pole?

about a year and a half ago

Submissions

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Tim Ward Tim Ward writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Tim Ward writes "Twice in the last few weeks I've come across open source projects where the software download is, as expected, free of charge, but no documentation is available. In both cases these appears to mean "no documentation has ever been written, but you can hire us to give you technical support".

In other words, as the companies can't make money charging for the software, they make money instead charging for support. Which sounds fair enough but ... these are "pre-sales enquiries" we're talking about where I'm trying to learn enough about the product to evaluate whether it has some chance of doing the job I need done or not.

Nobody in the commerial world charges you for pre-sales support at this level! — sure, if you want the vendor to scope out and design a system for you you pay for that, but that's not what I'm talking about — you don't pay for information at the level of basic product brochures and specifications!!

No problem, you might say, just download the software and try it out. Er, yes, and that costs how much, exactly, at my charge-out rate, reverse engineering some undocumented downloaded software to try to work out whether or not it will do what my client needs done? I don't think so.

I'm afraid that I'm much more likely to say to my client: "There's this commercial product, which in my professional judgement will do the job, and it will cost you $x, or there's this open source product, but I'm afraid that I haven't a clue whether it will do the job, and it will cost money to find out, and there isn't any documentation so any time we have a basic simple question about the product it will cost more money. Which would you like me to buy for you?"

You can guess the answer. "I'll have something that works that costs $x, please, not something that may or may not work and isn't documented and I don't have a clue how much it will cost me".

So my Ask Slashdot question is:

How come these open source vendors have managed to come up with such a broken business model? Aren't they even trying to compete?"
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Tim Ward Tim Ward writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Tim Ward writes "These days a defence against: being found with child porn on your computer; having your PC enrolled into a botnet and conducting illegal operations against other netizens; your PC being turned into a distribution hub for stolen content of any kind; ... is to say "nothing to do with me, mate, my computer must of got infected with something, not my fault".

Now, once upon a time it was acceptable to deny responsibility for motor accidents in a similar fashion: "sorry mate, not my fault I killed your child, I was drunk at the time, so not responsible for my actions, so I should be let off". (Younger readers may not remember that mindset, unless they live in the one or two parts of the world where fashions haven't caught up; or maybe if you substitute "rape" for "motoring accident" of course.)

So, my question: How long will it be before people do feel responsible, or are held responsible, for the harm their computers do due to not being looked after properly??"
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Tim Ward Tim Ward writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Tim Ward writes "We are forever reading surveys — there's another one out somewhere today[#] — purporting to tell us how many hours or minutes per day what types of people in which countries spend doing various online activities, such as "email" and "surfing", or sometimes simply "being on line".

But what validity can any of this data possibly have? I know that some of it comes from asking people questions like "how much time do you spend on line", which I personally would be completely unable to answer — I've got always-on broadband, and I'm quite often sitting at the computer, and sometimes I'm doing things that are "on line" and sometimes I'm doing things that aren't "on line" and sometimes I'm doing both at once. Or, I'm nowhere near the computer, but it's nonetheless busy doing something "on line" for me. How am I supposed to say how much time I spend "on line"?

These surveys are all nonsense, aren't they? People don't really base spending decisions on this data, do they?

[#] Sorry, no URL, I've forgotten where I saw it. But there'll be another one along tomorrow, and you all know what I'm talking about."

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