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Comment Very variable performance marred by ideology (Score 2) 119

The Met Office is firmly convinced that the planet is warming and that this is leading to an increase in extreme weather events. It is already hard enough to forecast the UK weather because of the constant stream of fronts coming in from the Atlantic, the varying high and low pressure systems.

In my fairly frequent visits to the UK, I notice that they are typically right short term during stable weather periods and not much good during disturbed periods. They often get the transitions wrong. That would all be excusable given the uncertainties.

The longer term however is a different matter. What is not excusable is the issuing of disastrously wrong forecasts of warm winters or warm dry summers, when what actually arrives is freezing cold winter or a cold and very wet summer with floods. These crazy longer range forecasts are not based on any evidence or coherent theory, just a view that the planet is warming and so the weather in the UK must be getting warmer, and so it will be warmer this winter, won't it?

Well, no. The planet is not warming particularly, and the UK climate is not warming particularly either. It is just continuing to fluctuate randomly in a wide range as it always has, and there are quite often fairly extreme winters and summers.

The BBC like the Guardian of which it is in some ways the broadcast voice has been committed to catastrophic global warming in its most extreme form - including the full buy-in to a rise in warming-caused extreme weather events. But the public ridicule that the Met Office forecasts have come in for, and the rather obvious bias in them introduced by the global warming advocacy has made the Met Office a liability. When they forecast a 'barbecue summer' just before the heavens open and the country floods, they wreck their credibility. The BBC is probably, under the new government, also seeking to move away from wholehearted endorsement of global warming and has, to the horror of advocates, started to broadcast some sceptical points of view.

This is said to be a large part of why the Met Office had to go.

Incidentally, on my recent visit we had the amusing spectacle of the left wing contender for leader of the Labour Party, a Party which is ideologically firmly committed to the full global warming alarmist tendency, proposing to open the UK coal mines again! The previous leader was of course the architect of the Climate Act, by which UK CO2 emissions would fall to some 10% of present levels. The Guardian is running a campaign to leave all fossil fuels in the ground. But, you see, those working class mining villages had a wonderful sense of community, and we have to have a revanche against the Thatcherite victory during the miners strike. In the minds of some in England it is still 1980 and everything is left to play for.

So they are going to do their bit for climate change by reopening those mines, at the same time as they convert their power plants to wood pellets sourced in the US nominally in order to lower those same emissions. What are they going to do with the coal? Who knows. One doubts they have thought that far ahead.

Its not an accident that this is the country which gave birth to Monty Python.

Submission + - Building a new spy-proof Internet - the Edge Net (theedg.es)

pieterh writes: The Edge Net lives safely at the edge of the Internet, on our smart phones. It uses mobile WiFi hotspots to create "cells" for exchanging news and content. Cells talk to cells, asynchronously, covering neighborhoods, and cities. The Edge Net doesn't exist yet. This project is about building it. The fundraiser project raised $1,700 in its first day.

Submission + - HealthCare.gov: what went wrong? (infoworld.com) 1

codeusirae writes: An initial round of criticism focused on how many files the browser was being forced to download just to access the site, per an article at Reuters. A thread at Reddit appeared and was filled with analyses of the code. But closer looks by others have teased out deeper, more systematic issues.

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: Easy, Open Source Desktop Sharing Software 2

N8F8 writes: Like many IT professionals I provide a lot free helpdesk type support to friends and family. I've decided to expand my support work and create a site where Veterans can receive free computer help (VeteransHelp.org). I'm using OSTicket (osticket.com) for the ticket reporting. What It really need is an easy to use desktop sharing system. In the past I've used TeamViewer because it is easy to use but it is not really free for non personal use. Recently I switched to Meraki Systems Manager because it is free and it uses VNC but unfortunately it isn't intended for the one-time-use type support I'll be offering. So I'm looking for a reliable, open source, easy to use desktop sharing solution that I can set up on my site for people to join one-time-use help desk sessions.

Comment Re:Unlikely (Score 1) 345

'terroir' is a myth. Its the creation of the European Union in response to die hard resistance to the opening of markets which the EU tried to bring about. This would have abolished the protectionism and mercantilism which the French, for instance, have been famous for. When markets were opened, the next step was to protect, for instance, the various cheeses by saying that they had to actually be made in certain geographical areas. So we now have the claim that the Cornish Pasty must be actually made and baked in Cornwall. That Greek yoghurt must be made physically in Greece. Chanpagne refers only to a sparkling wine made in that specific region of France. 'Italian' olive oil on the other hand can be and is grown anywhere, as long as its packed in Italy. There is no reason to think that sparkling wines made to the same formula using the same grape varieties will be any different if they are made in other parts of the world. There is no reason to think there is anything special about the air in Greece which makes yoghurt made there any different from if its made in Italy, Germany....etc Roquefort cheese can be made equally well in other places than Roquefort. Peking Duck can be cooked in Chinatowns everywhere, not only in Peking, China. The idea is simply to impose protectionism by the back door. As to what will happen to coffee given global warming? Probably nothing. But the last thing we need to worry about is that if the same beans are grown in different parts of the world, they will somehow taste different because they have lost this mystical imaginary property due to something called 'terroir'.

Comment Wayland is the bridge to the future (Score 4, Insightful) 285

"Unseating X" is not what Wayland will do, at least not anytime soon. Even X's developers realize that X's architecture has gone a little stale given the current desktop use cases, so they are working to make X a Wayland client. X is likely not going to go away for another 10+ years at least, provided every X app ever developed gets converted into a native Wayland app... And that's a LONG time off on the horizon.

Wayland NAILED it where every attempt to replace X outright prior to it, failed miserably. Wayland is the future only because it allows X programs to run -unmodified-, while at the same time providing a new, more performant window server.

Wayland is the bridge to the future, along with X.

Comment What is normal? (Score 1) 203

Problem is, what is normal? Suppose for instance we thought that Amish social culture and relations between teenagers was normal. Then we might say that the excessive use of cars and shopping malls and fast food led to the development of abnormal attitudes to social relations among teenagers. Suppose we thought arranged marriages the norm. We might say then that excessive levels of consumption of mass market women's magazines led to abnormal attitudes to marriage, including resistance to proper levels of parental influence over future marriage partners. We really need to get away from this crazed desire to have everyone be something identical called normal. These girls and guys will, almost all of them, just find their way through life in the end, get married, have kids, have jobs. And the ones that will not, well, its doubtful their lives would be any happier deprived of tech. They'd either find something else, or they'd be miserable.

Comment In other news (Score 1) 877

In other news it was reported that today was the seventh warmest day this year. Ten of the warmest days this year have occured in the last two months, June and July. Scientists advise that there is no reason for the trend to stop any time soon, and that August will probably see a new crop of warming records. The world is warming, it is impossible to deny it any more. The time to implement strong cooling measures through the agency of the UN is now. We must restore the historic stability of temperature across the seasons before it is too late. The scientific consensus is that the way to do that is to erect more giant metal structures in windy areas, but some people are in denial about the merits of doing that. That is probably because they have been paid off by the ski or tobacco industries.

Submission + - Text authorship identification

Budenny writes: For the usual not very pleasant reasons I have a passage of text and need to identify whether it is written by the same author as one of several other passages I've also been asked to look at.

The passage is about one page, fairly well spaced, not dense prose. The passages to which it needs to be compared are similar in length, some longer.

Has anyone successfully done this, what did you use if so (package or raw algorithm, which algorithm)?

Comment Speaking as an ancient monument myself (Score 1) 347

I am something of an ancient monument myself now, and I do notice that the young take lots of admiring pictures of me when I am out and about, doubtless to show their friends this extraordinary old thing they have seen at Tesco. So I look forward to taking ownership of these photos and selling them back for a small fee to defray my ever growing wine bill, and maybe be able to shop in a better class of store one of these days....

Comment Use in an educational Marketing Exhibition (Score 1) 417

The thing always was an overpriced dog. Yet, it sold, and its merits were totally believed in by the Apple community.

So it should be placed side by side with a couple of similar era Windows machines which sold for about half the price or less. It is not necessary for specifications to be identical in terms of memory and disk space, you just need roughly competitive products from the same era. It should be loaded with benchmark software and Photoshop, and set up for similar tasks.

The lesson of course will be that you could do the same things faster for half the price.

Then visitors can meditate as they watch on a number of questions, the leading one being, how on earth did Apple get away with it for so long? How did people manage to argue that Apple hardware was cheaper than PC hardware if you bought the same functionality? Why on earth was there universal opposition among the Apple people to a move to Intel. And why did they simply roll over and applaud as soon as the move was made?

An alternative suggestion would be, if there are young children around who have never travelled by air, it could be used to introduce them to the authentic sound of a jet taking off, so that when they do finally travel, they will not be alarmed. That noise, you can explain to them, is turbine fans.

Comment Re:It's not the paywall that's failed (Score 1) 428

"We in the UK pay for the BBC willingly because it is worth the price..."

No we don't. We pay for the BBC because if we want to watch any TV, Sky, any commercial channels, we are obliged by law to subscribe to the BBC, or get hauled up before the courts.

I would still subscribe if I had a choice. But don't tell me that 'we in the UK' do so willingly. Its the state broadcaster, the law consequently gives it a special status unlike any other broadcaster, and we pay because its legally obligatory if we want any TV at all.

My view is that this is completely wrong. Not because I dislike the BBC, on the contrary, I'm a great admirer. Because forcing people to subscribe to the state broadcaster, or any broadcaster, in order to be allowed to subscribe to other broadcasters, is wrong.

Comment Problem is the business model (Score 4, Interesting) 428

News has a model of the world in which you buy and read one paper, as you did back in the days when there were only paper editions. The reason you only bought one paper is that as papers rose in price, it got too expensive to buy all of them. So back then, unless you were a business person who really needed them all, you would buy one and read it. However when papers went online, all of a sudden people started reading the Guardian, Telegraph, Independent and Times, all of them.

Total newspaper readership therefore rose dramatically. The model had changed. We were now in a world of non-exclusive newspaper readership, where people find it natural to glance through all the broadsheets.

Rupert would now like to turn back the clock, and have all papers go behind the paywall. However, he fails to realize that if that world were to come about, total readership would fall. He would then only have those people who were prepared to restrict themselves to the Times.

It is not that people particularly want to get their content free. They will pay for it, if its distinctive and of value to them, as the FT, Economist, and WSJ show. What they do not want however is a model in which they subscribe to a paper as in the old days. So what happened when the Times went behind the paywall is that everyone deleted that bookmark but carried on as before reading Telegraph, Guardian and Independent. They don't really need the Times, as long as the market is using the model of non-exclusive readership.

This is the critical point that Rupert is failing to get. He is trying to operate a model of the past, in a world in which non-exclusive readership has become the norm. The effect of this is going to be to take the Times out of the running. It is no longer part of the broadsheets that you glance through online. People are not going to subscribe to just one, and in a world in which only one charges, they are going to carry on scanning through the others, without particularly missing the Times, which has nothing very distinctive to offer.

Historically, News has always had a problem thinking the content issue through. Consider the case of LineOne, many years ago. The argument then was, we have all this distinctive content that we will use to force people to subscribe to our Internet Access service because that is the only way we will allow access to it. They will pay a premium for the access in order to get the content. In those days the contrary argument was made: if the content is so valuable, just sell it to anyone, regardless of who they get their access from. At which those in charge of the content rightly flinched, and admitted that it was unsaleable.

OK, then, what made them think it was saleable at a premium when bundled with access? And as it turned out, it was not, and the access business was sold off to Tiscali and the Times went online free.

They have been obsessed with the model of Sky, where they got exclusive rights, used those to sell dishes and subscriptions. But it depends on having 'must have' content. What Rupert is refusing to accept right now is that, except in the case of the WSJ, he has no 'must have' content. None. Columnists? Who cares?

As the article says, the Times has simply vanished from online. No-one links to it, no-one quotes it, as far as can be seen no-one subscribes to it. It has vanished. Give it another few months, and the effect will be the same as if it had no online presence.

Now ask yourself: if someone had gone to Rupert six months ago, and proposed closing down their web presence, would he have agreed? It would probably have been a short meeting, and a very blunt one. But that is what, probably without in the least intending to, he has now done.

Comment Re:Effects on the weather (Score 0, Troll) 285

"So, alas, apparently I *once again* need to point out: Local temperature != global temperature. Seriously, people, how many times does this have to be repeated before you start to actually get it?"

Of course local temperature = global temperature. The science is settled on this one.

Deniers can say all they want about this, but this was proved by Michael Mann and colleagues in MBH98, and their studies have been replicated many times by independent researchers. You will recall, or perhaps people need to be informed, that in that seminal groundbreaking article, which was accepted by the IPCC as reflecting the mass of the evidence, and indeed in subsequent publications, a couple of bristle cone pines in the US and a few cedars in the Gaspe Peninsula turned out to represent the climate of the whole planet. You had to use a sophisticated method of PCA analysis to get to the truth of the matter, so sophisticated and so ground breaking that the full method was too valuable to reveal in its entirety, but once you did this, bingo, you had it.

It was an excellent thing that we had these bristle cone pines and Gaspe cedars, because otherwise we'd have had no way of measuring global temperatures for that period. Fortunately however, these trees showed local temperatures which were also global temperatures.

It was similarly proved, I think by UEA researchers, that one or two trees in Yamal, or someplace in Northern Russia, maybe it was Tornetrask, could accurately represent temperatures there, and that these temperatures were those of the entire planet.

So it is a filthy lie to say that local temperatures are different from global ones. People who say this are denialists funded by the fossil fuel lobby. They probably do not believe in evolution either, they are right wing neo conservative fundamentalists, and many of them used to campaign against the connection between tobacco smoking and cancer. Dreadful people. The consensus is that Exxon and Dick Cheney are behind this well funded campaign of disinformation.

Anyway, the science is settled, as long as you pick the right local temperatures, they are the same as the global ones!

Comment This is simply wrong (Score 4, Insightful) 234

"Under plans drawn up by Ofcom, UK ISPs are going to draw up a list of those who infringe copyright, logging names and the number of times infringement took place. Music and film companies will then be allowed access to the list, and be able to decide whether or not to take legal action."

No, its not those who infringe. It is ONLY those who are ACCUSED without proof of any kind in any forum which is legitimate to establishing the truth of that accusation.

We should consider similar cases. Do we want to draw up lists of those who three people accuse of speeding, and on the fourth accusation, take away their driving licenses?

The utterly ridiculous and anti-democratic aspect of this is the following: there is a move in this particular case to substitute accusation for proof. This is wrong. We need to treat all violations of law in the same way: require proof before sanction.

Yes, we will be going to OSI, Mars, and Pluto, but not necessarily in that order. -- Jeffrey Honig