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Comment Re:I'm struggling to come up with a valid use case (Score 1) 699

At what time would I ever use 'rm -rf /'

After accidentally hitting return partway through typing 'rm -rf /something/you/actually/wanted/to/delete'; running a shell script with 'rm -rf $MYPATH' where $MYPATH had got set to '/'; by installing malware and giving it the admin password or some other equally stupid screw up.

If you are omnipotent and infallible and never have, or never will, make a stupid screw-up like that (or run IT support in a perfect world where none of your lusers can pull rank and demand admin rights on their PCs) then all well and good. Otherwise, the consequences just got raised from restoring the hard drive to replacing the motherboard.

Comment Re:What else did you think would happen. (Score 1) 699

Of all the things you could run that you might expect to 'brick' your system surely 'rm -rf' as root would be the one.

No, you'd expect 'rm -rf /' to hose your linux installation, maybe your data too and require re-installation or restore from backup. That doesn't qualify as bricking.

"Bricking" means corrupting the firmware held in non-volatile memory on your device so it can't be revived without specialist reprogramming equipment - this usually only happens if you botch an attempt to re-flash the firmware.

The term has been watered down and abused as click-bait in the past, but this sounds like the real deal: the claim is that 'rm -rf /' can now permanently erase part of the firmware and make it non-trivial to restore your system. I guess YMMV depending on your motherboard's BIOS-flashing facilities.

Comment Re:Few? (Score 1) 132

I could believe it if it was a SpaceX press release: I get so many emails from PayPal saying "Dear Mr spamtrap49 your accounting was using for suspicious transaction, and has be suspended. Please clicking here to conform your detail" that its clear Elon Musk can't spell. Yet the emails from Amazon telling me that I might be interested in books similar to the one I bought for my mum's birthday 5 years ago all seemed to be written in perfect English...

Comment Re:No comparison (Score 3, Insightful) 132

That depends on what you consider to be the hard bit.

I think you'll find that the "hard bit" is putting a payload into orbit and, for extra points, not needing twice as much fuel as a disposable rocket (which is why SpaceX are trying to land on a barge in the middle of the sea rather than flying all the way back to the launchpad).

Otherwise you're just complaining that this was a feat performed with a blue rocket rather than a green one.

Actually more like comparing a silver, red and blue rocket with an orange one.

Comment Re:Lipton Sphere (Score 1) 412

That would *take* entire planets worth of material.

Of course - but you don't have to transmute that material into scrith (a.k.a. unobtanium) to withstand the stresses in a rigid, non-orbiting, 1au shell, and if you're sentimentally attached to gravity you can easily spin parts of the individual satellites, whereas with a big sphere or ring you have to to plate it with neutronium, invent artificial gravity, or spin the whole shell up to ludicrous speed (ISTR when Larry Niven re-did the math for Ringworld Engineers it turned out that it would need a gas-giant's worth of hydrogen just to spin up). Plus, you can build them one by one over an aeon or two - the more you build, the more energy you have. Nobody is saying it has to capture every last photon...

Not saying its easy - just easier than a big solid shell...

Comment Re:I'm not seeing the problem here (Score 1) 315

This is not a case of profiling, no matter how much the Muslim Council of Britain tries, without actually saying so, that it was targeted at a Muslim.

I don't see anything in TFA to suggest that anybody is claiming it was anything to do with "profiling". Just that it was an over-reaction. Just in case this needs a UK-to-US translation: "terraced house" is British English for "townhouse" (but usually smaller). I'm not sure "terrorist house" makes sense - but it seems like a highly plausible Autocorrupt* or speech recognition goof for something like "terrised hosue".

Of course, we are relying on the clickbait media, so maybe it will emerge in a few days (after the kid has met the Queen and been given a scholarship to Eton) that he didn't really write an essay but just re-used bits from an old Radio Shack one but, on the face of it, this seems to be a clear cut case of teachers interpreting the law ad absurdium. Which, of course, will lead to a backlash and a "cry wolf" effect. Plus, essays don't explode, catch fire or electrocute people.

(*I recently sent my colleagues an email saying that I was "having problems sorting out the wife" - mark my words, one of these days, Autocorrect is going to bring about the Acropolis!)

Comment Lipton Sphere (Score 1) 412

If you're willing to believe in a civilization capable of building a Dyson sphere, how much more of a stretch is it to believe they could do it in a few centuries?

You're all wrong - the star is clearly orbited by a huge swarm of teapots. After all, we can't hope to understand the thinking of a race capable of building such a "Lipton Sphere" so you can't prove its not teapots.

I'm not sure I can envision a process that would digest entire planets worth of material and cast it into a shell at any pace.

PS: I thought the original Dyson Sphere concept was a huge cloud of satellites that eventually grew to capture most of the star's energy.
PPS: The satellites could still be teapot-shaped.
PPPS: The tea-cosies are blocking the infra-red. Nothing worse than cold tea.

Comment Re: Really? (Score 1) 70

Welcome to the good old USA where it's perfectly OK to fake people out of their money so long as you slither between the rules just right. It's called progress didn't you know ;)

Well, the UK has a more sensible system with an industry regulator who's usual sanction is to just ban the ad rather than enrich lawyers with huge settlements, and the criteria is whether it is likely to mislead the target audience. The ad for this app would get banned pretty quickly (provided someone complained) without the need for a lawsuit.

In the UK ads, energy drinks still cause biologically and aerodynamically unfeasible mutations, deodorants still cause you to be mobbed by attractive members of the opposite (invariably) sex and 50-quid-a-bottle wrinkle cream still (despite the research) outperforms cheap, generic moisturiser. However, the first two are usually played for laughs and rely on the "would not mislead" rule, while the wrinkle cream ads are always very carefully worded and cite some (highly unscientific and subjective) survey for which the results could presumably be produced on demand.

(I'm guessing that people who buy expensive wrinkle cream are good at convincing themselves that it works)

Comment Re:Well deserved. (Score 1) 540

You let your brat play unchecked with a credit card-enabled tablet, you deserve every bill you get.

Two wrongs don't make a right. Just because a parent makes a misjudgement like this doesn't give anybody else the right to take advantage. The summary says that the kid didn't realise he was spending real money and I can easily believe that they'd confuse an otherwise trustworthy 7 year old.

"Free-to-pay" games aimed at children (or even naive adults) are a menace - particularly the ones with both an "in-game" currency and the ability to buy things with real money. The entire business model is based on getting a minority of people to spend more than they intended.

In this case - as with other high-profile cases where the sums involved are huge - Apple have done the right thing and refunded the money. We don't get to hear about the cases where the sum is a mere $50 or so - still more than a sensible person would have spent. Even where parents do the sensible thing and set the kid up with a modest limit and a warning that "when its gone its gone" some people must be earning an awful lot of money by teaching the kids a lesson.

Apart from anything else we get shit games that are designed to maximise income from IAP (and be frustrating to anybody not prepared to waste money) rather than provide good gameplay. Anybody here not want to go back to the days when you paid a fair price for a game and got the whole game?

Comment Re:Colonization doesn't require human travel (Score 2) 330

Why has this not already been done?.

To quote Greg Egan: That's what bacteria would do if they had spaceships

The "Fermi Paradox" assumes that a race with that level of technology and the inclination to make long-term plans that won't come to fruition until the instigators had crumbled to dust would be stupid and short-sighted enough to set of an uncontrolled exponential growth (with the capacity to mutate and backfire on its creators). NB: its not the technology that's the issue (the human race would certainly be stupid enough) - its the maturity needed for the long-term view.

As far as we know FTL is impossible. If you can make generation ships, you can also build permanent space habitats and park them around nice stable stars. If you can compress a whole ecosystem to a seed, you could probably build custom ecosystems that we could not even recognise. If you just want to spread your DNA to the stars (out of vanity, I suppose) then all you need to do is send some carefully designed viruses/bacteria to a planet with the right sort of primordial soup - heck, we could turn out to be Fermi's missing aliens (AFAIK there's no compelling evidence for panspermia/exogenesis/whatever, but the Fermi paradox ain't exactly hard science either!)

Comment Re:"Power Efficiency" measurements misleading. (Score 4, Informative) 99

They're just a way to make slower chips look better when they really aren't. If it gets the job done faster, what's the real issue?

Not every task needs huge computing power. If the Pi gets the job done fast enough while burning less power than the cooling fans in your P4 system, taking up a fraction of the space and only costing ~$60 (by the time you've added a case, PSU and SD card), what's your issue?

I've got an original Pi running DNS, DHCP for my home network, and a Pi2 hooked to my lounge TV as a media center frontend served by a PC in the spare room (I suspect the Pi chipset was made for set-top-box use - it can decode 1080p mp4 without breaking a sweat) - the Pi 1 struggled a bit with the i/o throughput but the Pi2 handles the necessary with ease. Dedicating a P4 to either of those tasks - or making your toy robot twice as big so it could take the weight of a P4 heatsink - would be ridiculous unless you also needed to supplement your central heating system.

Comment Re:"First install Git" (Score 1) 135

Doomed to fail. The people who aren't deploying SSL are also the ones who can't install Git.

Give it a chance - its only just been released as beta. Since Its Open Source, packaged versions for all the major Linux distros will undoubtedly follow (there are already a couple). Also, people are missing the point that, apart from the client tool, there's a ton of infrastructure behind this that greatly simplifies the process of obtaining a certificate. There's now no technical excuse why, in a years time, the control panel for your web hosting service, or even your CMS, shouldn't sport a big friendly "Secure with Let's Encrypt" button (with an 'auto-renew' checkbox alongside).

Comment Some people are just hard to please... (Score 3, Informative) 135

I understand that the target audience is admins, and that this is beta, but really?

Have you ever had to generate a certificate request, get it signed by a CA and install it in your web server? Its not rocket science but its certainly tedious with a dense jargon thicket to battle through.
./letsencrypt-auto certonly --webroot -w /var/www/example -d -d -w /var/www/thing -d -d improvement beyond recognition.

Anyway, there's a lot of infrastructure behind that command line that should make it easy for the likes of CPanel, Plesk or maybe even Wordpress to wrap it in a nice point-and-drool dialog.

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