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UK Government Breaks Open Source Promises

highways Re:Sad truth (145 comments)

If you were a queen (who in the 21st century still won't enter the House of Commons and only talk with the House of Lords)

This extends from 1642, where King Charles I demanded the heads of five of its members. Since then, the monarch has been banned from the Commons and may not enter.

about 3 years ago

A Linux Kernel More Stable Than -stable

highways Real-time Kernel Patches Synchronisation? (142 comments)

If the target for a long-term stable kernel is embedded systems, then I would suggest having some sort of arrangement with the real-time kernel patches which typically don't release with every kernel.

If, for example, 2.6.39 was chosen as a -longterm, it's unattractive for many embedded developers without the option of the -rt.

about 3 years ago

61.9% of Undergraduates Cybercheat

highways Re:Cybercheat? (484 comments)

See, I can make up new words too!


more than 3 years ago

Bastardi's Wager

highways Climate Scientists at RealClimate have already... (672 comments)

RealClimate (some of whom were the target of the so-called "Climategate" emails) has done this, or covered betting markets several times.

In 2005, they compared the rhetoric of a sceptic to the odds they were willing to bet on. Take a guess as to whether they were consistent.

In 2008, they proposed a bet on a specific paper with specific scientific reasons. Guess what? No takers. And they would have won.

more than 3 years ago

Aussie City Braces For Worst Flood In 118 Years

highways Re:Remember when you're reading this... (214 comments)

A little more than two years ago, we were worried whether our dams would run out - you can see some pretty graphs here.

Disturbingly, when the dam was finally full again after 8 years of drought in October, the state opposition leader John-Paul Langbroek called to increase the water storage level at the expense of flood mitigation. The main dam (Wivenhoe Dam) can hold 225% of it's nominal capacity for flood storage. It's currently at 190%.

The dam is a earth embankment dam and is not design to spill. If so, it may erode the dam and potentially cause it's failure. Hence, there must be a controlled release, even while the flood conditions are occuring and it's a fine balancing act between holding back more rain and flooding downstream.

In general, it is considered that the flood mitigation capacity (about that of Sydney Harbour) will knock about 2m off a flood peak. There would be many more people currently swimming without it, even before it's expected to peak in about 36 hours.

more than 3 years ago

Aussie City Braces For Worst Flood In 118 Years

highways Muscle Power and Equipment (214 comments)

For the locals from BrisVegas, please consider donating muscles rather than money (or persuade someone else that has muscles to donate).

Last night, there was a good response to call for people to fill sandbags. Post-flood, there will be a much needed effort to clean the mud from more than 40,000 homes and streets (at current estimates).

You can register at but it's busy (a good thing!) so be patient.

If you have specific offers of heavy lifting equipment (e.g. excavators etc), the Lord Mayor has opened this email for offers: lordmayor (you know what's here)

more than 3 years ago

The Encryption Pioneer Who Was Written Out of History

highways Re:They have a headstart (238 comments)

You know, Americans say that about the Brits, but look to your neighbour to the North. Rather than going through a bloody and violent war for independence, we just kinda sat around for a while.

And Australians did it with a vote, not a war.

more than 3 years ago

The Encryption Pioneer Who Was Written Out of History

highways Re:They have a headstart (238 comments)

> Intriguingly (I think atleast), it is constitutionally impossible for the British government to grant independence to Canada, because it's not possible for one government to do something irreversible that the the next government can't undo. So, technically, the UK must still regard Canada as a colony...

Even Australia is legally separate from Britian, despite the "Queen of Australia" being the same person as the "Queen of England".

Only one step to go before we finish the job...

more than 3 years ago

Remote Operated Aircraft Targets Hurricanes

highways Aerosonde has been doing it for a while (56 comments)

The (former) little aussie that could :) - they have since been bought out by Boeing (Insitu).

Aerosonde has been doing it for a while, hence aero-sonde. I believe they started doing crazy weather stuff some time before they were the first UAV to cross the Atlantic in 1998.

more than 3 years ago

ESA's GOCE Satellite Provides Gravity Map of Earth

highways Some background: The Satellite Itself (119 comments)

It's worth taking a read of the satellite itself. Apparently, the accelerometers themselves (3 pairs of them) are mounted to within one picometre (that is micro-micro-metre). Gravity measurements are to within 10^-13 G. All pushed ahead by a cool xenon ion engine :)

That's some serious engineering precision. A bit more than your average accelerometer in your iPhone.

There's a bit more on how it works in this article.

Of course, the raw data looks a lots uglier than the beautiful image of the final result, but if the research is for climate change, then manipulating raw data is what they do best ;)

more than 4 years ago

ESA's GOCE Satellite Provides Gravity Map of Earth

highways Re:The U.S. military already has one of these (119 comments)

> Interestingly, the inertial navigation software itself is available as source code for download

[[Citation Needed]]

more than 4 years ago

ESA's GOCE Satellite Provides Gravity Map of Earth

highways Application: Mean Sea Level for your GPS Receiver (119 comments)

The other application of the Geoid is that it is essentially the "Mean Sea Level" across the globe.

This is essential for you GPS Receiver - the height calculated by a GPS receiver is the height above a theoretical ellipsoid that has pretty much the same shape of the earth. However, the geoid is used to calculate the difference between this "Ellipsoidal Height" and the "height above sea level" that is reported by receivers - sometimes known as "undulation". Without it, Brisbane, Australia would report being about 40m above the water when out on the Bay in a boat.

GPS Receivers typically use a lookup table for it, but can be calculated from scratch using a geoid model such as EGM96 using Spherical Harmonics. Of course, there is an open source implementation of it in C and MATLAB.

more than 4 years ago

Best Way To Publish an "Indie" Research Paper?

highways GPS Journals and Conferences (279 comments)

Vincenty's_formulae is the current benchmark for distance between two points. If you think you've done better, you've got two real options:

(1) A GPS/Navigation Journal, or
(2) Surveying journal

Forget computer science - not really interested in this problem.

As far as conferences are concerned, it's worth trying to get into one of the following:

        * IEEE PLANS

        * ION PLANS

If you think it's still good for a journal, look for who has cited Vincenty's paper in Google Scholar - it will give you a good indication as to what journals to chase.

more than 4 years ago

Methane-Eating Bacteria May Presage ET Life

highways Methane eating bacteria? (91 comments)

Can we transplant some of these methane-eating into the Gulf of Mexico? They're badly needed right now.

more than 4 years ago

Australian Schools To Teach Intelligent Design

highways Ian Plimer (714 comments)

Maybe we can get that good 'ol aussie Ian Plimer to do good instead of evil like he used to.

more than 4 years ago

Scientific R&D At Home?

highways Re:What are the chances? (398 comments)

It's rare that a scientific discovery is made in the lab per se. At least not in the sense that something behaves as predicted.

Usually, it's a case of "Hmmm.... that's strange... what's going on?"

more than 4 years ago

Virginia AG Probing Michael Mann For Fraud

highways Parliamentary privilege? (617 comments)

Does the US have a concept of parliamentary privilege?

Is said republican willing to details his accusations of fraud outside of a legislative chamber?

What's the test for defamation in Virginia? Accusing someone's lifelong work of fraud in front of the world's media could potentially be libelous (IANAL).

more than 4 years ago

MATLAB Can't Manipulate 64-Bit Integers

highways MATLAB ~= fast (334 comments)

If you want raw speed, you don't code in Matlab. Simple.

Or code a MEX function.

In short, if you're relying on Matlab to do stuff fast, you're doing it wrong.

(Fast in this context, execution time. Fast in terms of algorithm development is another story)

more than 4 years ago

Will the Serial Console Ever Die?

highways U-Boot and Embedded Systems Work (460 comments)

Try getting U-Boot ( to work without one.

Or early Linux embedded board bring-up.

Or virtually any microcontroller work, where all but the simplest of devices have one or more UARTs.

Go on, prise my serial port from my cold dead fingers...

more than 4 years ago



Google Referred to the Australian Federal Police

highways highways writes  |  more than 4 years ago

highways (1382025) writes "Our old friend, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, Viceroy of the Great Australian Firewall has previously labeled Google's collection of data as "creepy" and "single greatest breach in the history of privacy".

Now, along with Attorney General Robert McClelland, Conroy as referred to Google to the Australian Federal Police for possible breeches of the Telecommunications Act.

Previously, Google has publicly opposed the proposed Internet Filter, labeling it as an attack on free speech in a democratic nation and causing a minor diplomatic stand-off with the US Administration."

Link to Original Source

The Perils of the Dodgy 8-bit Chips

highways highways writes  |  more than 4 years ago

highways (1382025) writes "Sparkfun, a company suppling robotic parts and other goodies to hobbyists, has recently been burned getting 8-bit microcontrollers from the grey market.

Problem is, they got suspicious and looked a bit closer and some strange-looking parts and burned off the case with concentrated nitric acid. The result:

"Under the hood: On the left is the ATmega328. The gold dots around the black border are the remnants of bonding wires that connect the die in the middle to the pins/legs on the outside of the chip. On the right is the 'slug' or counterfeit ATmega328 — there is a lack of bonding wires, and really anything. It looks like a chunk of copper. Better than coal I guess.""

Link to Original Source

Murdoch warns Google: it's time to pay

highways highways writes  |  more than 4 years ago

highways (1382025) writes "From TFA:

News Corporation Chairman Rupert Murdoch has launched a stinging attack on Google and other on-line entities for stealing content.

At a conference of World Media Executives at Beijing's Great Hall of the People, Rupert Murdoch has taken aim at search engines like Google as internet parasites.

According to the News Corporation Chairman, the so-called "aggregators" on the internet steal content from tradition media organisations and, he says, the time has come for them to pay for it.

"If we do not take advantage of the current movement toward paid-for content, it will be the content creators — the people in this hall — who will pay the ultimate price and the content kleptomaniacs will triumph," he said.

Of course, I don't think this has anything to do with Mr Murdoch's latest posh to charge for online news, including a recent scathing attack on the BBC..."

Link to Original Source

"Google Never Forgets": Former High Court

highways highways writes  |  more than 5 years ago

highways (1382025) writes "Quoting from the article:

RETIRED High Court judge Michael Kirby says internet search engines and imaging capture systems like Google Street View have unexpectedly sidelined traditional principles governing the protection of personal information, and expectations of reasonable privacy in public places.

  "Search engines mean that a whole raft of material collected for one purpose can be accessed and used for new purposes, and the flood cannot be held back," Mr Kirby told a Privacy Awareness Week business luncheon in Sydney yesterday.

"When the limitation of use principle was originally formulated, it allowed you to keep control over the data shadow you send out when information of a private character is collected (for use by businesses and government agencies). That became inappropriate when internet technologies came along 20 years later.

"Likewise, we now know that if you are in public places, you can be caught out (on camera) cleaning your ear, or picking your nose and, in those countries that permit the televising of courts, an occasional judge can be caught out having a nap."

But Mr Kirby said the "enormous blessings" of new technologies required regulators to take a balanced view on personal privacy, especially as these technologies have significantly changed society's attitudes.

"The media is full of stories of teens who put up the most intimate of information, and they obviously think this is an appropriate thing to do," he said. "One hopes young people realise these are, as marriage used to be, 'decisions forever'.

"If you put sensitive information and pictures on the web, it is going to remain there for a very long time.

Mr Kirby said the normal human response of "forgetting" had in the past offered some protection to individuals.

But "Google and Yahoo never forget — it's all out there and can be very rapidly accessed", he said."

Link to Original Source

Telstra offers 100Mb Cable to Australian Capitals

highways highways writes  |  more than 5 years ago

highways (1382025) writes "In a move clearly to threaten the Australian National Broadband Network (NBN), Telstra has announced a $300M upgrade to their cable network in Melbourne (and later to most capital cities in Australia), claiming speeds of 100Mb/s.

Telstra was excluded from the NBN bidding process in December ( and$pd20090304-PSPPF?OpenDocument) after submitting a non-compliant proposal to the Australian Government.

Competitors claim that Telstra is attempting to undermine the financial viability of the NBN by cherry-picking profitable city customers without having to service rural users.

The winner of the NBN tender was due to be announced last week (,24897,25162618-5013040,00.html), but has been delayed as a result of the Victoria bushfire tragedy."

Link to Original Source

Telsta launches non-bid for Aus Broadband Network

highways highways writes  |  more than 5 years ago

highways (1382025) writes "In the ongoing saga of Australia's proposed National Broadband Network (NBN), at the 11th hour, Telstra has launched a non-compliant bid for the $4.7Bn subsidy to deliver 12Mb/s to 98% of Australia's population with a twist — it will only use the Government cash as a loan, not as a subsidy but only cover 90% of the population.

This comes as the Government refuses to cave to Telstra's demand that its proposal for the NBN not be subject to structural separation between its wholesale and retail divisions. This comes after a long running battle between Telstra, the competition regulator ACCC and the Goverment wrangles over wholesale pricing to the existing copper infrastructure.

In separate analysis, an academic from Melbourne University suggests that despite Telstra requiring only a loan, not a subsidy, the taxpayer is likely to get a better deal with the subsidy through the Government having an equity stake in the network, and retail companies would likely have cheaper access to wholesale broadband.

Other experts,24897,24709246-15306,00.html have criticized the need for the subsidy with 76% of households not on broadband not planning on upgrading. Others have criticized the Government's proposal on the basis that a 12Mb/s network was well behind current technology available in most metropolitan centres and far behind the 50Mb/s commonly available in Japan and Korea."

Link to Original Source

Proposed Oz Net Censorship to Slow Web by 30%

highways highways writes  |  more than 5 years ago

highways (1382025) writes "According to The Australian,24897,24575125-15306,00.html, the Australian Government's plan to censor the web of illegal content is likely to slow the internet by 30% and cost taxpayers almost $45M.

These comments from the President of the System Administrator's Guild of Australia comes as the Government revises its plans to censor the internet. In a Senate Estimates Committee hearing yesterday, it was revealed that the government now plans a two tiered approach — mandatory blockage of illegal material and an opt-out blockage of adult-related material to be implemented by Australian ISPs.,24897,24571118-15306,00.html Previously, only the opt-out proposal was announced and run with at the last election.

Opponents of the scheme claim it will be ineffective as it does not target peer-to-peer traffic where it alleged that most illegal is traded. It has also been claimed by Electronic Frontiers Australia that the proposal could potentially make electronic transactions and internet banking unsafe by decrypting secure sessions. There are also claims that it may leave parents with a false sense of security about their child's online access."

Link to Original Source

Oz High Court Hears Landmark EPG Copyright Case

highways highways writes  |  more than 5 years ago

highways (1382025) writes "It's rare that that a copyright case is heard in the Australian High Court, let alone a case heard by all 7 sitting judges. This is the equivalent of the Full Bench of the Supreme Court in the United States.

At stake is a small company IceTV taking on Australia's largest television station, the Nine Network over the copyright status of the weekly broadcast schedule. That is, the schedule, not the synopsis of the individual programs which IceTV makes its own summary of each show. Users of PVRs such as MythTV will be well aware of the hassle it is the get a reliable program schedule stream to use for recordings.

The saga has gone on for more than two years with Nine unsuccessfully suing IceTV,24897,19248149-15318,00.html but later winning on appeal,25197,24331686-30538,00.html.

At stake is whether a list of facts like an EPG is indeed a compilation and therefore protected under copyright law. If so, how much protection is afforded? This has implications for the copyright status of many publicly available databases and the limits to which the information can be distributed.

Now that hearings are finished, we all wait nervously for the judgement."

Link to Original Source

Computer Error in Qantas Jet Mishap: Investigators

highways highways writes  |  more than 5 years ago

highways (1382025) writes "Preliminary investigations into a Qantas Airbus A330 mishap where 51 passengers were injured has concluded that it was due to the Air Data Inertial Reference System feeding incorrect information into the flight control system. The flight control system may override the pilot if it detects a potentially dangerous flying condition.

Quoting from the ABC report (

"Authorities have blamed a faulty onboard computer system for last week's mid-flight incident on a Qantas flight to Perth.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) said incorrect information from the faulty computer triggered a series of alarms and then prompted the Airbus A330's flight control computers to put the jet into a 197-metre nosedive.

At least 51 passengers and crew were hurt, many suffering broken bones and spinal injuries, when the plane carrying 313 people from Singapore to Perth climbed suddenly before plunging downwards on October 7.

The plane was cruising at 37,000 feet when a fault in the air data inertial reference system caused the autopilot to disconnect.

But even with the autopilot off, the plane's flight control computers still command key controls in order to protect the jet from dangerous conditions, such as stalling, the ATSB said."

So much for DO-178B ("

Link to Original Source

An ad-hoc cluster of home computers

highways highways writes  |  more than 5 years ago

highways (1382025) writes "I have a lots ( > 200GB) of embarrassingly parallel data (lossless compressed images) that I need to process. The trouble is that each image takes a few minutes to process using C/Matlab meaning that it will be weeks to process all the data on my AMD-6000.

The good news is that I have a few spare boxes ranging from a P4-2.8Ghz to an AMD-3800. Operating systems are a heterogeneous mix of Ubuntu, Fedora and Windows XP. I want to be able to utilise these boxes to cut weeks of waiting into days.

I have used the Matlab distributed computing toolbox before, but there are compiled C files that need to be run (not to mention licensing issues). I have used PBS on the university's cluster before, but it looks like it needs a more heterogeneous environment and is maybe a bit of an administrative burden.

Does anyone know of some batch computing/cluster tools (preferably open source) that may suit the job of using the spare computing hardware around the place? I can (and have before) setup some scripts manually on each machine to process chunks of data, but surely there must be a better way."


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