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Comment Every programmer is an optimist (Score 1) 117 117

This time it WILL work! The mantra of the developer.

So is it that difficult to translate the same ethos into business: this time I will make it big! Whether there is any cold, hard, lying involved or whether the person touting for a VC payout truly believes what they are saying - that doesn't matter. A VC would have to be a particular kind of fool to be dragged in by the enthusiasm or "irrational exuberance" (to use a term that described the financial crash) and to simply hand out megabucks because one particular presenter waved their arms about more than another. You'd kinda hope the VC people would know the market, assess the chances of success, weigh the probability of failure and then - cautiously - extend a small seed-corn payment to see if there was any chance of success.

But since the VCs are often playing with other people's money, they probably don't care - and are as guilty of promoting their on successes and masking their own failures as the businesses they finance are.

Comment So all it would take would be a war? (Score 1) 109 109

Rocketry developed rapidly during WW2, after which everyone "borrowed" the German developments - and their scientists. If there is a parallel with quantum computing, it would seem likely that no real progress will be made until some sort of conflict (either in the real world or cyberspace) breaks out and some dramatic development takes place. After which the losers will "give" their technological developments to the winners. The winners will then play around with it, make it just about usable (if still incredibly inefficient) and call that "good enough" for the next 50 years.

It will only be after that when some commercial outfits start to get their hands on QC, that we'll start to see some innovation, progress and actual low-cost applications.

Or maybe it'll be like planes: 60 years from wooden biplanes to the Jumbo Jet and a few more to Concorde. Then it'll grind to a halt.

Comment Password protection --- of what? (Score 1) 365 365

Using the same password everywhere and/or spreading your security thin across a thousand different web services

Let's face it. Those "thousands of different web services" don't amount to shit. There are probably only a handful that contain any *valuable* information about the user: such as your online banking, online tax returns, the very few sites that a person of sound mind would trust with storing their credit card details (e.g, PayPal, Amazon). But apart from that, most web sites, like forums - and even Facebook (you don't really give them actual personal information - do you? ) contain nothing of any value. So why not use the same 6 character password that you've been using for 20 or 30 years? Even if someone does crack it, nobody here is important enough for anything of any consequence to happen.

Comment MASS spectrometry? (Score 3, Insightful) 82 82

shrinking mass spectrometry technology used in traditional lab settings into a device small enough to fit in the palm of your hand

Surely this device has nothing whatsoever to do with a mass-spec? It doesn't appear to use any of the techniques that a mass spectrometer does (even if it produces results to the non-technical consumer that appear similar) and to use the term sends a misleading message.

Maybe I should buy a whistle and re-badge it as a "sonic screwdriver"?

Comment Re:Don't worry (Score 1) 294 294

Why would the lights go out or the servers go down?

Because admins insist on doing upgrades over the weekends. Upgrades they aren't competent to do, or that they haven't properly planned for, or that they haven't allowed enough time for, or that don't work the way they should.

It's not common, but it does happen that ATMs are down, occasionally.

Comment A big place, a wide range (Score 4, Funny) 294 294

Never make the mistake of thinking of "Europe" as a single entity. It isn't.

While it's true that in London the buses no longer take cash (you'll need an Oyster card) that's not the case everywhere - not even everywhere in England. But in many parts of most European countries (yes, Europe isn't even a single country) cash is very much king and it's wrong to assume that a credit card will be universally accepted. Many restaurants outside of cities in lots of countries won't take plastic. So it's wise to have enough cash to cover a transaction, even if you do expect to pay with a card.

Comment Usually has to be earned (Score 4, Insightful) 318 318

homeworking jobs? Is it better to demand it from the get-go

I doubt there's a company in the land that would recruit an unknown, straight off the street, give them a salaried post and let them work 100% from home.

For a start, there's no guarantee you wouldn't just goof around for the 6 months or so it would take for them to realise you're a lazy freeloader and then go through the process of firing you (sacking people in the UK and the rest of Europe is a long-drawn out process: employees have rights). Second, they'd have to install a load of kit in your house which would take time and you'd also have little or no "induction" into the company, your boss, the goals and culture.

So on the occasions where I have worked for places that do have home working: either as perk for trusted employees or as a cost-saving measure for the one that seriously messed up its estate management, it's not something you go "demanding" and definitely not from the start - or "get-go" in your language.

Finally, home working has many, many disadvantages. Apart from being isolated, you become an invisible part of the team - and therefore disposable. You never interact with your work-mates and never get to hear "grapevine" stuff, like where the promotion opportunities are. Neither does your boss "see" you, so you never bond and can easily get passed over for pay rises or interesting projects. Some people also find they instead of working, they spend all day with their face in the fridge and pile on the pounds.

Comment Sounds like the plan is working (Score 1) 292 292

high-quality research much more expensive to do, so there is less of it

Good. Fewer polls means fewer people trying to intrude on my time. I don't know why pollsters think they have a right to rudely cold-call people and take up their time - without giving anything back. But it does seem that more and more people are becoming resistant to their interruptions.

If fewer polls means less punditry and less time talking about inconsequential "what-ifs" on TV in the seemingly years long run up to elections, then that can only be a good thing for viewers and all us ordinary people. Sadly the demise of political polls seems to have been taken over by equally pointless and even more trivial time spent debating what political whimsy happens to be trending on Twitter. I guess the political programmes will always find ways to fill up their hours with mindless banter.

Comment Re:Yes, it's called redundancy (Score 4, Informative) 107 107

In a modern data center you would be able to shutdown the servers not used for a longer period and restart them automatically when the load rises.

Many businesses that rely on servers (i.e. all of them) will be running hot standby systems - ones that can automatically take load if there's a hardware failure or software problem.

One major (world-ranked) international company I consulted at was legally required to have 100% failover capacity - so it was inevitable that they would automatically have 50% of their production servers performing no functions - except for the twice a year when they were "flipped" just to make sure that each set of servers worked as expected.

Although the source paper does specify physical "zombie" servers, if you need failover VMs, the same basis is applied there, too.

Comment Sauce for the goose ... (Score 4, Insightful) 337 337

... is sauce for the gander.

So if any one country arbitrarily gives itself the right to globally police the internet, decide what should be allowed, prosecute (according to it's national laws) content it deems unlawful, and punish people - even people in other countries - for things that happen on it, then every other country cannot be denied.

Comment Re:.pst? probably doesn't matter (Score 4, Insightful) 203 203

Whatever format you dump it in, it's unlikely that your successor will bother reading through it. Either they will be skilled up in whatever it is you were doing and will spend the first few weeks slagging off your name for not leaving any coherent documentation (a not unreasonable option: look! all he left was a pile of emails! It'll take months to make head or tail of all that crap!), or the company will recruit someone who hasn't a clue and will re-invent the basic functions. Or (more likely) your company will dump the whole thing and realise that there are other ways of doing what you did. Ways that are both supportable and easy to recruit people to do.

Comment Re:Linux Mint gets it right. (Score 1) 155 155

a lot of the time you have change your printer etc because the supplier won't update the drivers

Total nonsense. Unless you're still running 10 y/o kit, almost every device that's sold NOW is supported on Windows. That can't be said for more than a small sample of printers, webcams or anything else under Linux.

The reason I have a W8.1 box sitting next to my LMDE x64 machine is to support all my hardware. In fact, I find that I'm using Windows more and more these days ...

Comment Re:Linux Mint gets it right. (Score 0) 155 155

Home users who only need a computer for Internet-based activities don't need ultra-specialized software that's only available on Windows

People still need to connect their printers, cameras, webcams and other bric-a-brac to their computers. If you think either that Linux / Ubuntu supports more than a small fraction of these (and an even smaller fraction of contemporary devices) -- or that people are willing to dump whatever they already own and run out to buy a special device merely for the pleasure of running it with "free" software (think of the cost saving!), you're deluded.

Comment Squeezing the balloon (Score 1) 80 80

"A better understanding of criminal behavior will help us reduce opportunities for crime in our neighborhoods,"

And as soon as one form of crime is understood and deterrents introduced, won't the (successful) criminals simply move their attentions to another neighbourhood, modus operandi or equally illegal field of endeavour?

This initiative doesn't seem to address the basic issue of the number of criminals or their need to indulge in criminal (as opposed to legal) ways of making money.

"When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro..." -- Hunter S. Thompson