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Ask Slashdot: Why Is the Power Grid So Crummy In So Many Places?

coofercat Re:Super-capitalism (323 comments)

The US also lacks them darn hippie commies regulating the industry in the consumer's favour from time to time.

Your domestic supply doesn't have an SLA, or penalties if there are outages. In truth, none of us will probably ever see such a thing. Instead though, get a regulator who penalises supply companies when they screw up. If it's force majeur, then you might let them off a fine, but warn them to toughen up their infrastructure because next time you will fine them. If it's just that they're scrimping on delivering, then fine them to 'motivate' them to spend the money when the consumers need it.

Contrary to popular belief, an awful lot of European power is run over ground. If there's an area prone to problems, then they either end up routing around it, adding more capacity to cope with outages or in extreme circumstances, go underground. I don't believe the US is unique in any important ways with regards to the logistics of power delivery - all of its problems have a solution, if you're motivated to find it. USians probably laugh at us Europeans who generally pay more for almost everything than they do, but at least our shit works most of the time.

3 hours ago
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What Would Have Happened If Philae Were Nuclear Powered?

coofercat Re:I'm quite surprised it wasn't (519 comments)

All that for just 20% of the total mission (wasn't 80% of the science to be performed by Rosetta?). If they'd really been trying to keep Philae alive longer, they'd have at least put fold-out panels on it. From what I can tell, they just kept it simple - seems pretty sensible to me.

about a week ago
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UK Hotel Adds Hefty Charge For Bad Reviews Online

coofercat Re:The answer is...virtual credit cards (306 comments)

I like the sound of these, but I've never had one, and never felt like I needed one either. I've never been ripped off in any way that I couldn't resolve entirely with one (or at worst, two) phone calls to my bank.

Visa/mastercard/Amex are all ways of reducing my risk, not increasing it. Even if I drop my wallet on the floor outside right now, any money spent on my cards is not my concern - it's the bank's problem, not mine. I guess if the bank could prove I was negligent with my cards, they might not pay up, but that's a pretty hard thing to prove beyond reasonable doubt. Plus, if their fraud filters haven't caught the problem quickly enough, then that again is their problem not mine. At worse, I might get left with a couple of hundred quid of "negligence fine" - but as I say, they'd have to try really hard to make it stick, and they would, without fail lose a customer that same week (well, within the 28 days or whatever it is that they have to allow my account to be transferred out by).

about a week ago
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New Facebook Update Lets You Choose News Feed Content

coofercat Re:How about... (54 comments)

...and you wouldn't need to say who you'd like to hear more or less from either. Essentially, they're saying "our 'big data' skillz aren't up to doing what you actually want" (or maybe they're saying "your 'friends' are so full of shit we can't sift out the good stuff from the endless drivel").

about two weeks ago
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New Particle Collider Is One Foot Long

coofercat Re:so size DOESN'T matter? (161 comments)

It's only 12 inches long when it's SLAC. Otherwise it's more like 2km ;-)

about three weeks ago
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What People Want From Smart Homes

coofercat Re:Yup (209 comments)

Rumour is they're working on a bulb you can control from anywhere in the world, but it can also shine on you anywhere in the world. Can't wait for that one ;-)

about three weeks ago
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EFF Begins a Campaign For Secure and Usable Cryptography

coofercat Re:For it to be secure, it has to be weird. (96 comments)

Understood, but the point of using crypto tech is to put the costs of interception up. Right now, with all comms in the clear, the cost of intercepting you is "1". If you used ROT13 on all your emails, you'd put the cost of intercepting them up by several times. If lots of people did it, then the cost would maybe average out at something 1.1 x clear text. Go to a 56 bit RSA (which is 'easily' breakable') and you put the costs of interception up many times, even if everyone in the world did the same thing. Keep going to something secure by today's standards, and you put the cost of interception up by hundreds of times, if not thousands or millions. Today, you put intercepting you into the region of "only if you're in the top 100 people we care about". A one-time pad might put that up a bit more than that, but is it worth it?

Of course, the OTP means that "they" can't intercept your communications of today in 10-20 years time either. In that sense it pushes the cost up quite a bit, but for "them" to keep your comms for 20 years in the hope they might one day be able to decrypt them puts you in a relatively small subset of the population - especially if you talk a lot.

about three weeks ago
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The Great IT Hiring He-Said / She-Said

coofercat Re:There's a clue shortage (574 comments)

There's a clue shortage - but it's in 'Procurement', not in HR/tech.

Where a hiring manager uses HR to "do some recruitment for me", then he's responsible for procurement of that service. Where HR use recruitment consultants, they're responsible for procuring that service. And we all fail at all of it - we all assume far too much of the other parties, whereas they're actually doing the least possible not "the right thing".

What should of course happen is that the recruiter should 'groom' you for the role - they should figure out where you need to fill in some gaps and help you do that. They should then 'groom' their client, again, filling in gaps. Then they let you talk in an interview - both primed with good answers to likely questions, and both armed with some good questions to ask. If you get the job, then great. Otherwise, the recruiter now should get decent feedback and help you work on those areas for the next opportunity.

None of this good stuff happens because people looking to hire aren't making it part of the deal. Getting 'joined up thinking' into a deal is hard because it means you have to think, you may have to pay a bit extra and you have to follow up to make sure it's happening (eg. call a few rejected candidates personally and ask about their experience). I've had a good few jobs, and I've been rejected from a few interviews along the way. Not one of the companies concerned has ever tried to make sure I've learned something from the interview process through feedback. In a good number of cases, I've just never heard back from an application, or just had a "sorry, they hired someone else" back from the recruiters.

If employers are struggling to find candidates, it's their own fault - although not in the way they think.

about three weeks ago
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EU Court Rules Embedding YouTube Videos Is Not Copyright Infringement

coofercat Re:Crazy EU logic (again) (68 comments)

There's a very distinct difference between "rip the video, store it on your site, then display it" and embedding. Ripping/storing is a very deliberate act to copy something.

Simply embedding a video (or an image, or anything else, one would suppose) on a site makes no copies of it, and so, as per the ruling is not copyright infringement. If you're a copyright holder and have a problem with something you can see embedded on a page, go after the person/site hosting the content. That makes pretty good sense to me.

about a month ago
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Ask Slashdot: Smarter Disk Space Monitoring In the Age of Cheap Storage?

coofercat Re:Check_MK (170 comments)

We're switching to check_mk too. Honestly though, anything with a graph will do - periodically stick something into Graphite or just stick another line onto a CSV. Then draw a graph, draw a rough trend line and there's your answer. Getting a nice email/text message with that information takes a bit more work (where check_mk might help), but so long as you can see it with enough advanced warning, checking the disk graphs weekly (or even monthly) is probably enough.

about a month ago
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SMART Begins Live Public Robocar Tests In Singapore

coofercat So it begins... (13 comments)

For anyone thinking that we'll never see the google car, or that autonomous vehicles will never drive on our roads - this is how it starts. At first, it's a specially designated track and a crappy car. Then it's a much bigger track, occasionally crossing legacy roads and railway tracks. Then it's a much nicer car you might actually want to sit in for more than 10 minutes, then it's able drive almost anywhere except city centres or places where it's considered too dangerous/complex, then it's about a variety of fancy cars from various manufacturers all cooperating to provide a seamless service (although maybe a tiered one). Then finally, legacy cars are side-lined, banned or otherwise taxed into oblivion.

about a month ago
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British Army Looking For Gamers For Their Smart-Tanks

coofercat Re:Surely not the "largest" tank? (163 comments)

Why larger at all? Why not make it remote controlled, small, but have a big gun on board with a handful of shots loaded in it. Then, instead of using just 10 of them, you use a couple of hundred. Sure, each one is 'easily' neutralised by relatively small weapons, but the fleet would be hard to stop, and any one member of the fleet would be sufficiently deadly to cause your enemy problems.

about a month ago
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New Microsoft Garage Site Invites Public To Test a Wide Range of App Ideas

coofercat Re:Make an app, then see if it has a market?? (72 comments)

It's just the "google 20%" output from Microsoft. They're trying to show that they're vaguely innovative - and the problem with innovation is that quite a lot of the time it doesn't work out (seemingly for Microsoft, more times than most).

When Google came out with Wave, we all wondered why they'd bothered - they tried it, people didn't get it and so they closed it down. This is no different.

That said, Floatz looks like a particularly crap idea - if I want feedback from my friends, I'll send them an email (or get my wife to post on facebook). I suppose there's something about finding other people around me that I don't know, but I'm not so sure I'd like to ask them their opinions.

about a month ago
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Will Fiber-To-the-Home Create a New Digital Divide?

coofercat Re:No. (291 comments)

I live in the UK - in a mid sized village, and I get 17mbit/s down on an ADSL2+. I can get fibre to the cabinet and zip up to 50mbit/s for about twice the money if I want. However, there are places in the UK where you can't get broadband of any kind - you're stuck with 64k dialups from almost no providers that still run that service. Hence, there is something of a digital divide - those people can't work from home, can't use bittorrent, etc, etc. They can't realistically do all the usual fluffing about on the Internet that the rest of us do either - even electing for paperless billing and online payments for household bills isn't the no-brainer it is for the rest of us.

It's debatable how much of a problem this divide really is. However, we can be sure that in 10 years, those people might be able to access the government ordained 2mbit/s minimum broadband, but the rest of us will have more like 50-100mbit/s as standard. Those out-lying places will always be at a disadvantage, although hopefully will at least be able to leave something to download while they go off and do something else - which isn't really very feasible for them today.

So what I'm trying to say is that there is a divide, I'm not sure how terrible it really is, but in the future that divide will narrow here in the UK when everyone can get broadband of some description. Whilst 2mbit/s looks pretty rubbish to me, it's enough to hold an online meeting, or to log onto your bank and whatnot. You can't go crazy, but you can at least participate in what the rest of the world takes for granted.

about a month ago
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U.K. Supermarkets Beta Test Full-Body 3D Scanners For Selfie Figurines

coofercat Re:Clothes (165 comments)

If you want clothes that fit, you don't shop at Asda.

about a month ago
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3-D Printed "Iron Man" Prosthetic Hands Now Available For Kids

coofercat Re:biocompatibility (64 comments)

So don't pick your nose with it more than once? Okay, got it - I'll wait until I'm 'well stocked' ;-)

about a month ago
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Millions of Voiceprints Quietly Being Harvested

coofercat Re:Is this one way? (86 comments)

No. The 'print' is something akin to a hash - you can't use it to make a voice synthesiser. I'll leave it to the researchers to figure out if you could construct a synthesiser that created the same 'print', if you knew what the 'print' was to start with - I suspect that'd be possible, but non-trivial (and wouldn't sound anything like the original voice - the original may have said the words "my voice is my password" in a well chiselled English accent, but the synthesiser would only need to say "sfhjie" in a Swahili-esque accent, for example). I'd imagine it would be a similar task as creating a known hash from some data - ie. generally very hard.

about a month and a half ago
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Millions of Voiceprints Quietly Being Harvested

coofercat Re:This is going to backfire in an ugly way (86 comments)

About 20 years ago, Nuance did a demo where they played a recording of Margaret Thatcher, which the system identified as being her. They then asked an impersonator to do the same thing, but the system could tell they weren't Mrs T.

I'm sure these sorts of demos are part truth and part smoke-and-mirrors, but the point being that it was a long time ago and something they claimed to be able to do. You can bet they've got it sorted now so that it's considerably more accurate. I have no idea if they have a means to stop a recording being played back though - that's presumably a harder problem to solve.

about a month and a half ago

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About Coofer Cat

coofercat coofercat writes  |  more than 8 years ago

I'm a chap from London, UK, trying to make his way through this ole' life as best as possible.

I've been a sysadmin for most of my professional life, mostly playing with Sun systems, latterly more Windoze and Linux though. I'm quite good at "getting things to work" - that is, making things work they way they ought to.

At the moment, I'm working for my own company, Pre-Emptive Limtied. It's a small company that makes appliance based products, the first of which is a search engine. We make use of open source products and "glue" them together with a bit of development and a proprietary administration and usability layer.

In my spare time, I can often be found boozin' in pubs, or scaring off the opposite sex. I've also got a blog.

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