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Comment Re:Amazing... (Score 5, Interesting) 169

I don't know for sure but I bet this was part of a penny pinching cost analysis up front.

I recall when moving to a new site setting aside some time/budget to ensure that every cable was labelled (so, for example, we could trace ethernet from port on switch to patch panel to underfloor cable to floor jack to desk cabling to desk port) and set up a simple database to keep the details.

Work was killed off by accountants as an expensive luxury, after all cables didn't move often did they?

Fast forward to a minor flood under the false floor taking out some (but not all) systems. Fortunately some of them were in the finance and commercial group.

Suddenly it was "why can't you reconnect me NOW??". Money was paid for an 'after the event' recording of wiring by external people (which cost about 5 times the 'saving' up front).

Still at least it was better than a LONG time ago [Vax and VT220 era] when I saw one person labelling connections by yanking out an RS232 cable from a patch panel, waiting for a call "My terminal's died", asking which room they were in and making up a label and then plugging it back with "I think that may fix it" and getting pathetically grateful responses in return.

Comment Re:Oooh...a Shiny Certificate! (Score 1) 63

Slightly off-topic but...

Some years ago (when cloud was still to become a commonplace term) some of my colleagues were setting up a marketing initiative on the grounds of identifying opportunities, planning and doing initial analyses.

The internal name for this activity was Cloud Opportunity Workshop.

I was asked to create a rapid prototype** tool for tracking various actions before, during and after the go-to-market engagements. For want of a better name [OK due to my mischievous nature] I called it the Planning Analysis Tool.

It was only when the flyer returned from graphics (and before it went to print) that the marketing team realised that the acronym appeared in big letters as COWPAT -- a veritable piece of bulls__t.

The name was changed before it got to the sales team.

(In the UK at least, the dried up remains of cow faeces is known as a cowpat)

** In other words, do it yesterday for minimum cost and with no hardware/software budget

Comment Re:Mass Surveillance Illegal in EU (Score 1) 74

Absolutely agree that we have idiots in charge.

How that happens with a broken, first past the post gerrymandered constituency boundaries "democracy" is another debate entirely.

Also agree with the point about police attitudes.

Cameras are the latest in the "ooh look, new technology, that'll save some costs!" approach - not only in policing but also endemic in most organisations [public and private].

What I was trying to say was that cameras are not as prevalent - and even less useful - as some people (esp. in US) have been led to believe and (b) that it's not a black and white issue** - not all cameras are 'spying' and even fewer are used by 'the authorities' and (c) the general public here would (as a rule) prefer to have cameras in shops etc. to allow miscreants to be punished when caught than risk alternatives such as being injured/killed by an overenthusiastic armed response.

**ironic really as most CCTV cameras are black and white rather than colour for operation in low light levels.

Comment Re:Mass Surveillance Illegal in EU (Score 2) 74

When will this meme ever die?

Firstly, the vast majority of cameras are privately owned, looking at back doors, stock rooms, car parks... Police etc have to request copies of videos (with a warrant if the owner doesn't want to hand over and/or their insurance company doesn't insist as part of the settlement following an incident)
This must be good for the Slashdot crowd because private==good and government==bad and the cameras wouldn't be there if it weren't for market forces (i.e. lower insurance premiums)

Secondly, although there are large numbers, many are dummies or of such poor quality that they're less than useful (see the footage shown on Crimewatch** and other TV shows). In one previous project, I've seen the images from safety cameras looking at dangerous rail crossings and you'd be hard pushed to tell if it's a man or woman in the picture, let alone distinguish facial details [to be fair it was mainly an infra red image to allow usage at night, but as a means of detecting who was acting dangerously/stupidly it's no good].

Thirdly- the figures often quoted were from a small and not very scientific study by looking at one or two streets and extrapolating.
This has as much validity as saying the population of the US is over 6 times that of the world -- by taking the population density of New York and multiplying by the land area of the US.

There is a debate to be had on mass surveillance - but cheap shots on poor foundations do not help anyone. The world is a lot more nuanced than stereotypes and slogans.

**Monthly TV show that appeals for help / witnesses in unsolved crimes -- local equivalents exist elsewhere

Comment Re:angst over old tech . . . (Score 1) 250

I'm sorry, I cannot buy into the statement

"If we keep our 10 year old tech and expect it to serve our current requirements we are not optimizing our experience."

I know I'm a grumpy old man and a full time cynic but...

Over 25 years ago, I used a 286 based PC with under 1MB RAM and a word-processor loaded from floppy. I could start the wp in a few seconds and create documents.

Fast forward to today. My employers have dropped the latest MS Office on us. With a 4 core processor and 8 GB RAM it takes Word over a minute to start (I've got so bored I started timing it, mean is 73s, median 72s).

I know I'll get responses from people saying I can do so much more - but 90%+ of my work is basic paragraphs, tables and simple formatting (enterprise customers don't go in for multimedia inserts).


"It's not because the manufacturer made it unserviceable"

We can debate this in terms of the direct product construction, but the hidden expense is in the software unserviceability designed to enforce obsolescence and upgrades.

Personally, and for environmental reasons, I dislike seeing working technology thrown out (which is why I use Linux on an older PC rather than buying new every couple of years).

Comment Toilet water (Score 3, Interesting) 287

It is often claimed that mains tap water in many cities [all over the world] has already passed through 4 or 5 other people's kidneys first.

If true then this shows the tremendous value of underrated techniques in waste treatment and purification but it also poses a big challenge for homeopaths:

Surely by now there'd be no illness at all as everyone has had the benefit of sharing "water memory" of all the major diseases. If not why not?

As a corollary, how can you ensure that the 'patient' responds to the right water memory and not to fond recollections of someone else's urethra?

Comment Re:The contriversial parts in brief. (Score 4, Insightful) 115

I've been following this issue and have not yet heard the following question/argument raised.

Leaving aside all the usual privacy arguments and the slippery slope case of a reasonable regime now going bad in the future, there's still a practical question which would have less impact on privacy and costs.

"Why are you tracking all the users and generating a huge 'haystack' of noisy data when you could track the 'needle' instead?"

In other words, why track every member of the public to see if any of them view instead of just looking at subscribers to that site?

Focusing on a small range of IP addresses and then looking at address headers should be relatively easy.

Even the effort of maintaining a 'naughty list' of 'bad' sites must be easier than sifting through petabytes of ISP logs.

Comment Re:Other than the "liquid fuels" part... (Score 1) 163

Years ago (back in the 70s) I recall a study about harvesting energy from sunlight which compared PV cells, heating water passing down black pipes, reflecting sunlight to a focus point to heat water.... and the most efficient (though probably not scalable easily) one tried was similar to this.

1) Put some plates of wet glass in the sun** and wait
2) Scrape off the algae that forms for free, put the glass plates back
3) Ferment the algae with some yeast to make (mostly) ethanol & water
4) Use sunlight to help distil off the ethanol
5) Burn ethanol to release energy

[and since this is Slashdot 6) ??? 7) Profit ]

Now the wet glass plates were used for ease in the experiment; scraping the slime off shallow ponds may be easier (and you have the bonus of a pond to use as a heat sink). Old bottles work as well, if not better than glass sheets, as evaporation losses are lower, but scraping out the green slime is harder.

Most of the process (algal growth, fermentation....) is self sustaining and doesn't need much in the way of handling.

** doesn't need strong sunlight-- the experiment was done in the UK :-) --- just daylight will do

Comment Re:Buy a Product Because it is "Cheap"? (Score 1) 87

Spare the submitter.....

TL;DR - Cheap is not always pejorative

This is possibly a difference between English and American

Americans view cheap as implying poor quality. Something cheaply made implies cutting back and using lowest cost components.

This meaning also exists in English but it usually just means low cost. "Cheap and cheerful" means low cost but generally equivalent to higher priced items.

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