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Comment: Re: A fool and their money (Score 0, Troll) 260

It's very fashionable to decry things we don't understand. Dowsing clearly works; my father called the local dowser in for his house in a remote part of SW Ireland. I watched him walk back and forth across the land, rods twitching, and eventually he hacked his heel down and said to "drill here" and we'd get "water for a family of five and to spare". Drill he did, we dropped down a remote-control DanFoss pump, and sucked on an aquifer that never failed, even in the drought years.

OK, they guy knew all the land thereabouts: he lived locally. Maybe he just knew the exact path of every underground watercourse in the neighborhood, but I doubt it. As a scientist, I want replicability of the observation (no problem here: he and several others do this for a living: no charge unless the water flows), and I'd like an explanation of why (none yet)...but equally I refuse to dismiss a phenomenon simply because it has no explanation yet. If we did that we'd still be living in the dark because we couldn't explain sunlight.

Comment: Re:Hardly viable... (Score 1) 151

by frisket (#47452175) Attached to: Scotland Could Become Home To Britain's First Spaceport

... they also have ground requirements much closer to 'airport with atypically long runway' ...

If that's what they need then the Irish government should look at creating a spaceport near Shannon, which has a gigantic runway,suitable both for the frequent US military stopovers to and from the Middle East, and (I was told) for the Shuttle, should an emergency ever have arisen requiring a landing in Europe if Edwards or elsewhere was unavailable. But that may just be local pride :-)

Comment: Re:Well done, sir (Score 1) 164

Presumably "everywhere" means "everywhere in the USA". Which is fair enough, seeing as the literacy rate needs improving. I've never heard of "Reading Rainbow" unless it refers to atmospheric conditions over Slough. But LeVar Burton is a dude, and if he supports it, it's OK by me.

Comment: Registered Keeper (Score 1) 626

by frisket (#47051335) Attached to: Driverless Cars Could Cripple Law Enforcement Budgets
Here (Ireland; and in the UK, I believe) the person with ultimate responsibility is the registered keeper of the car (basically the name and address on the car registration document). If that person lends the car to someone else, who then gets a speeding ticket, it's the registered keeper who gets the fine.

Comment: Re:What kind of crap software... (Score 1) 564

Why wasn't the development of such a tool a graduate research project ?

Oh please goddess no. You'll end up with some arcane piece of experimental theology written in a private version of a language no-one has ever heard of, undocumented and unsupportable. Have it written by someone with a suitable track record, a suitable number of decades experience in whatever, and with proven implementations and documentation skills. It will be expensive, but it will cost far less in the long run.

Comment: Re:Backups (Score 1) 564

Bad news most likely on this front. I have worked University IT, and I can guarantee they are going to have problems.

For one, no matter how many layers of backups you have, when you are working with a bunch of 90 year old academics, they will always find a way to miss every single one.

And more grievous, Universities tend to have important data that absolutely cannot be backed up in any normal way. Data that is legally obligated to stay on one specific computer in one specific room and never leave; under penalty of legal action.

That level of insanity is why I am laughing. The bold parts specifically. When you allow people who have no clue how a system works to legislate how it works, you get this.

You have no idea what you are talking about. Restrictions like these are usually imposed by the legal IT people in the funding agency that funds the research, and they do very much understand exactly what they are doing (there are plenty of people in these agencies who are clueless, but the legal IT people are usually pretty good). Or suppose the project was doing research for the cops into identifying the makers of child porn; believe me that stuff would be locked down REAL tight.

Comment: Plonk (Score 1) 293

On Usenet there is the killfile, so at least people who know what they're doing can trash the crap, and these would typically be the kind of people the negatively-rated posters would have been trying to impress. The problem remains that newcomers and those unaware of the 'k' button remain exposed to the idiocies of such posters.

Elsewhere, it's not clear whom the negatively-rated posters are trying to impress — if anyone. More likely they're just trying to get something, anything, out on the interwebs, so that their visibility increases.

The ones I'm most familiar with (from running lists and web forums) are like the loudmouths in bars, with an opinion on everything, and almost all of it wrong; but it's not clear if this is the type of poster the researchers were dealing with.

Comment: Re:If not... (Score 4, Interesting) 865

by frisket (#46922831) Attached to: Did the Ignition Key Just Die?

A mechanical lock that wears out the tumblers due to age or use is acceptable: you use it, it wears, you replace it after x years.

A lock that randomly decides not to work because of unexpected component failure (read: shoddy quality) is unacceptable. What is also unacceptable is the ludicrous price of electronic lock/key replacement, and the reluctance of manufacturers to provide at least one (preferably) two spare keys with the new car, and their apparent inability to provide replacement keys (on their own) at all.

Cars need to have a mechanical-only standby door lock/key, if only to let you into the shelter of the interior in emergencies, whether or not you can then start the engine. If manufacturers move to keyless operation, it will probably take many deaths before they provide a mechanical fallback.

Comment: Re:Damn, saw that coming. (Score 2) 55

by frisket (#46894723) Attached to: Canonical (Nearly) Halts Development of Ubuntu For Android

Canonical is doing what Nokia did, and will pay the same penalty.

I wrote some years ago about how Nokia was missing the point, having developed a pocket computer before knowing what they had done. Their blinkers said "phone" on them, so they never saw the giant road sign that said "computer". As one veteran of a firm then free-falling out of the Fortune 500 put it in The Cluetrain Manifesto, "The clue train stopped there four times a day for ten years and they never took delivery."

Now Canonical have developed another Maemo/Meego: a life-size OS that runs on a pocket device. And Mark Shuttleworth seems to have inherited Nokia's set of blinkers that say "phone", and Lo! and behold! he too cannot see the sign that says "computer". As I said in that article, 'the current pox of "partnerships" is a particularly Good Clue, because it means management is spending more time schmoozing on the golf course than down on the shop floor making or selling.'

I truly hope this doesn't apply (mutatis mutandis) to Mark Shuttleworth, but if you have invested your money, time, or life in Canonical, you need to consider if your forecast of the future concides with theirs.

It is surely a great calamity for a human being to have no obsessions. - Robert Bly