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Comment: Re:Great (Score 1) 154

by Anonymous Brave Guy (#48220089) Attached to: British Army Looking For Gamers For Their Smart-Tanks

Estimates of civilian casualties from the 2003 Iraq War and its aftermath vary significantly, but many are of the same order of magnitude as the deaths caused at Hiroshima and Nagasaki when the nuclear weapons were used.

I'm not sure modern warfare is as good at avoiding collateral damage as you seem to be suggesting. The causes of those civilian deaths might not be the same mechanically, but it's no less a tragedy if an innocent person dies as a side effect of some military action rather than directly by taking a bullet.

Comment: Re:Legal expectation of objective privacy (Score 1) 165

Of course there can be no reasonable expectation that if you step outside your home then someone walking past won't see you, any more than they have a reasonable expectation that you would not see them.

However, technology lets us do a lot more than we naturally can, sometimes in very asymmetric ways, and potentially with very different implications. Saying we can't/shouldn't consider how much we want to regulate behaviour using those technologies is a bit like saying someone could climb up a ladder and peer through a small gap in the curtains at your daughter's bedroom window but we shouldn't do anything about it in law and your kid has no reasonable expectation of privacy when she gets changed at night. I think most reasonable people would disagree with that premise and think a law saying peeping Toms are unwelcome was appropriate.

So this is a chicken and egg situation. As a matter of fact, the law today may not provide for as much privacy protection as people like me would like it to, but saying that the law shouldn't provide those protections because today it doesn't so you have no reasonable expectation of protection is a circular argument.

Comment: Re:Put away the tinfoil hat and turn your radio of (Score 1) 165

Worrying about this does seem a bit silly, given that it's trivially avoided by turning off WiFi and that by flying you're already participating in one of the most surveilled activities anywhere on the planet. I mean, this is a field where for some reason a lot of people just accept behaviour like strip searches (of the virtual and/or physical variety) and/or pat downs that would get the patter classified as a sex offender under normal conditions and/or pretty much arbitrary confiscation and examination of any property they're carrying with them, not to mention all the pre-travel details you have to provide for checking against who-knows-what databases.

However, the argument that when you're out in public you don't deserve any privacy needs to die. The law in most places may not have kept up with technology and its implications, but this argument is about as sensible as "if you have nothing to hide then you have nothing to fear".

Arguing that the historical privacy situation (if you're out in public, someone you walk past can see you) is like today's privacy situation (you're monitored by numerous cameras and sensors, using unknown automated recognition technologies, connected to unknown databases for future reference by unknown parties for unknown purposes) is a bit like arguing that the historical situation with carrying weapons (if the other guy has a sword in a dodgy area, letting you carry one yourself as well is reasonable) is like today's (where if you replace "sword" with "dirty bomb" then the results are on a rather different scale when someone abuses the system).

Comment: Re:Not inherently unreasonable (Score 1) 164

It's like software patent. Just add "with a computer" at the end and you get a new patent.

No, you don't. This has never been the case in most places. Even under the questionable patent system in the US, the recent trend has been away from allowing patents for that kind of "invention".

Comment: Re:Here we go again (Score 4, Insightful) 164

Nobody has an issue with jailing people for life if they've intruded upon a secure network with the intent to cause damage or inconvenience

Um... Sorry, but I for one have a big problem with that.

Leaving aside legitimate questions about the role of incarceration and its effectiveness as a deterrent and/or for rehabilitation of offenders, a life sentence is the kind of thing you hand down for premeditated murder, deliberately taking the life of another human being.

It is absurd to suggest that the same sanction should apply to someone who merely hacks some corporation's network and messes with the office printer in an irritating but otherwise harmless protest against some corporate policy. Such a law would imply that physically harmless hacking of some corporate or government entity is many times worse than rape, killing someone accidentally through dangerous driving, defrauding an individual of their life savings, and numerous other very personal and very damaging crimes.

Comment: Re:Not inherently unreasonable (Score 2) 164

If you attack an industrial system at a utility and make a bunch of people sick or die, even if it was "unintentional" you should get life.

If you attack an industrial system and people get sick or die as a result then there are already plenty of laws to punish you, up to and including the likes of manslaughter and murder. There is nothing special about doing so via computer and no additional laws are required, nor is any "zero tolerance" style life sentence just because computers were involved a useful addition to the statute books.

Even if you're an aspie with boundless curiosity, there has to be a consequence for breaking into sensitive systems and inflicting real, measurable harm to the public.

And there would be -- if, in the judgement of a competent court, there was in fact real, measurable harm caused to the public. But this proposal as reported seems to be full of words like "deemed to cause" (by whom?) or "significant risk of" (measured how?).

Comment: Re:Boycott ASDA (Score 1) 164

Asda, Morrison, Tesco and Sainsbury are all pretty similar in terms of quality and price, whatever people try and pretend.

We have mostly Tesco and Sainsbury's around here, and my experience has been quite different. They are aiming for similar markets, but their quality for own-brand goods, the kind of name-brand goods they sell, and their prices all fluctuate significantly over time. Right now, Tesco is clearly winning on all three counts for most of what we buy for my household. As little as 2-3 years ago, it was the other way around.

Comment: Re:UK article, US units (Score 1) 164

Milk is typically sold in litres in supermarkets, usually 500ml or 1 or 2 litre bottles.

Not really. You might see the litre-based equivalent volume printed somewhere on the label, but every supermarket I know sells milk in 1/2/4/6 pint bottles, including at least one store for most of the big name chains.

Source: I just looked in my fridge. :-)

Comment: Re:not until (Score 1) 164

At the moment, I believe that Sterling is in a safer position than the Euro as the Euro has problems with some of the countries having financial difficulties (e.g. Greece).

Yes, one of the most important things about choosing a currency is who else uses it.

In purely economic terms -- that is, ignoring politics and other factors -- it might make sense for the UK to share a currency with, say, Germany or the USA. These are all first world countries with well developed and reasonably stable economies.

However, it makes little sense for the UK to share a currency with somewhere that has very different economic conditions. In this case, what happens in the nation with the weaker economy will inevitably and adversely affect what happens in the nation with the stronger economy.

This is why, for example, the Germans took a hit they didn't deserve during the Euro problems of recent years. It's also why you'll see pigs flying past your window before you see the UK joining the Euro with the kind of variation we have across the EU today.

Comment: Re:Class action? How about criminal offence? (Score 1) 688

by Anonymous Brave Guy (#48207389) Attached to: FTDI Reportedly Bricking Devices Using Competitors' Chips.

Of course they are perfectly entitled to offer such a defence, and if they've got sufficient evidence to create reasonable doubt about their guilt then they should be acquitted by the court like anyone else.

Somehow I suspect that if this ever gets to a court, that will not be the case, however. If the reports of what's happening here are anything close to accurate, it seems that a significant amount of code has been written specifically to determine whether a component is a genuine FTDI one or someone else's, that the new driver is actively doing something that impairs the operation of only one of those types, and that anyone with the slightest experience programming in this context would readily know these things.

It would take an impressive lawyer to overcome those (presumed) facts, and it would probably be quite difficult to cover up the entire development process and related documentation to make this look like an accidental side effect if it was actually a deliberate decision.

Comment: Re:They are playing with fire (Score 2, Interesting) 688

by Anonymous Brave Guy (#48206267) Attached to: FTDI Reportedly Bricking Devices Using Competitors' Chips.

Their EULA could say that if you use their software with something other than a genuine FTDI component they may send a hit man round, but I doubt that would stand up too well in court either. If they think they're going to get away with deliberately breaking someone's gear because of some weasel words in the EULA, they need better lawyers. Or they needed better lawyers, I should say, because if the reporting of what's going on is accurate then by this point I suspect they're already in serious trouble even if they don't realise it yet.

Comment: Class action? How about criminal offence? (Score 1, Flamebait) 688

by Anonymous Brave Guy (#48205929) Attached to: FTDI Reportedly Bricking Devices Using Competitors' Chips.

Never mind your feeble class action lawsuit. Let their executives or other staff responsible travel to a country where unauthorized computer access causing this kind of damage is a criminal offence!

Then let them stand up in court and argue with a straight face that the user of a device that without the user's knowledge contained an alleged counterfeit component had authorised them to install software that was actively designed to impair the use of that device.

Comment: Re:Old news (Score 1) 396

by Rei (#48194991) Attached to: NASA's HI-SEAS Project Results Suggests a Women-Only Mars Crew

Hmm, now I'm curious. A fighter may have a takeoff weight of say 15000kg. Let's say that the "short lean female" saves 40kg over an "average male". With the other reductions - clothing, oxygen, etc - you probably get down to maybe a 60kg savings. That's a 0,4% reduction in system mass. The rocket equation (applicable here too) probably boosts that up to about a 0,5% benefit in many regards. Still not that much

However, if you can shrink the cockpit , then you're looking at a much bigger advantage - possibly 100-200kg extra weight savings and maybe cutting 5-10% off the total aero drag. That could actually be a big deal - relevantly faster accelerations, top speed, range, etc.

Put no trust in cryptic comments.