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Comment Re:BitLocker is Ultimate-only and Ultimate is gone (Score 1) 205 205

Sorry, I don't know anything about BitLocker. But if we're talking about getting Windows 7 with a new PC, I think it's fair to say that's a relatively minor limitation compared to everything you'd get stuck with moving up to 8/8.1/10, and you can still get Win 7 Enterprise on your new PC if it's an absolute must-have for your particular needs.

Comment Re:End of preinstalled Windows 7: October 2014 (Score 1) 205 205

From your own source:

Windows 7 Professional ... Not yet established **

** Microsoft will provide one year of notice prior to the end of sale date.

The consumer Win 7 Home line isn't generally shipped preinstalled any more, but the Win 7 Pro line used by power users, small businesses and the like is still available in the normal way, with many suppliers offering it if you ask.

Comment Re:What you can pay for instead... (Score 1) 205 205

We can only hope. For a long time, Microsoft has been the business you turned to when you wanted to get stuff done. They were notable for not having the effectively enforced upgrade cycles of Apple, Google, and most of the major Linux distributions, and instead provided systems you could count on using, with support for essential bug/security fixes, for periods measured in years or decades, not months if you were lucky. I want that Microsoft back, and they would surely get more money from me and my companies than the Microsoft we have today is going to.

Comment Re:Privacy in danger (Score 1) 248 248

In densely populated areas, the logical endgame is for devices to create their own mesh networks, independent of any active networking you might provide to them. Then all it takes is any path from your device to the mothership for your data to leak.

Homes with built-in Faraday cages and their own internal repeaters with firewalls for signals you actually want to let through is one possible technological response, but obviously worthless the moment someone creates a path outside the cage, for example by ever leaving the house.

A more practical alternative would be finally passing laws to regulate this area and protect privacy in meaningful ways in the context of 21st century technology, while still allowing beneficial applications of these technologies for those who don't want to be digital hermits. Given the modern reality that even if you opt out of everything those around you might not, the most reliable ways to prevent abuse of data by corporations are to ensure that it is not profitable to do so and/or the executives responsible for setting the policies will go to jail as a result.

Comment What you can pay for instead... (Score 2) 205 205

I hope that what you're missing is the businesses that supply professional laptops will continue to offer them with Windows 7 and no junkware for the foreseeable future. They'll cost more than all the consumer junk that is subsidised by pre-installed promo junk and spyware and so on, but if you want a system that actually works in your interests, someone will probably sell you one at a viable price unless some sort of legal agreement actively prevents it.

I also hope that this is finally the must-get-worse-before-it-gets-better moment for all the nasty recent trends of never-finished software, built-in spyware in everything, and subscription everything. Something as big as Windows screwing as many people as it's presumably going to screw might actually bring enough people to their senses that the industry reconsiders the path it's been following lately.

As I've commented before, I don't see Microsoft themselves changing course again as long as Nadella is at the top. He is exactly the guy the board hires if this is what they want to happen. However, given that Win10 is already looking less appealing than Win8 and people are still only just finding out all the ways it's a mess, the current generation of leadership at Microsoft may be short-lived if they can't turn avert the impending train wreck very quickly.

Comment Re:Why go without GPS? (Score 1) 30 30

Indeed, Titan the easiest large world to explore by drone, so long as they tolerate the cryogenic conditions. A highly efficient version could potentially fly continuously just on RTG power (there have been proposals along these lines), although anything adapted to deal with the added weight / inefficiency of hardware to carefully land, collect samples, carry them, etc would probably have to use flight batteries.

Comment Re:Dubious assumptions are dubious (Score 1) 293 293

I don't think it's unreasonable to expect cyclists to have adequate lighting on their bikes at night.

Neither do I. Then again, until the streetlights were turned off in the places I've been talking about, most of them already did.

It's very rare that an entire journey would have street lighting at any time of night.

Around here, it's completely expected. The local authorities have put huge emphasis on promoting cycling in Cambridge over the past decades, and both the streets and the major cycle/pedestrian paths are normally lit during the dark hours, making cycling one of the most efficient and sustainable ways to get around the city. Turning off significant amounts of lighting is a surprisingly cycle-hostile and retrograde step, until you realise it's a different level of local council responsible for making that decision.

Then again, I live in a village with green fields on all sides.

I suspect both the priorities and the expectations in rural areas are quite different to those in densely populated cities or suburbs. I probably wouldn't buy a small hatchback if I lived in the middle of nowhere or a huge 4x4 for driving around the city either.

Comment Re: Truck Stops, Gas Stations, etc (Score 1) 869 869

I called you daft for not understanding the concept that someone who runs a swapping service station covers all costs related to their business activities and rolls them into what they charge for service, just like every other business does. I fail to see what is hard about this for you to understand. The answer to "who pays for X cost" is *always* "the service provider, with the costs indirectly passed on to their customers via the rate charged".

Really, you think that bad fuel can't damage an engine? It can and does. And it's the supplier who ultimately bears the cost. No, "bad electricity" is not a proper analogy (although your sarcasm in this regard is funny given how many devices are damaged by surges every year); a gas station fuels vehicles by insertung fuel into them, while a swapping station fuels vehicles by inserting pre-charged batteries into them. Batteries correspond to fuel in this context.

In what world do you live where car parts are regularly inspected by the manufacturer after being installed into the vehicle? Cars have hundreds if not thousands of parts more safety critical than a battery pack, and yes, manufacturers *are* liable if their failure modes due to damage pose an unreasonable risk of injury. Think of a famous failure case - say, for example, the Ford Pinto fires. Were the gas tanks defective? Nope. But the cars had an unacceptably bad failure mode in certain types of crashes, and it fell on the manufacturer to fix it - as it always does. A part must meet its use case, and if its use case is "deliver electricity from a swappable system and not burn the vehicle down if damaged", it has to contain the necessary safety systems to do that.

Lastly, you're still stuck in bizarro world where ICE vehicles full of combustible fuel are incombustible, whereas EVs with no combustable fuel and more often than not with batteries less flammable than a block of cheese (once again: *not all li-ions are the same*!) burst into flames left and right. Meanwhile, in the reality that the rest of us live in, the opposite is true. Heck, last summer I saw a flaming hulk of a passenger car with fire crews trying to put it out to extract the burned bodies of the two tourists who had been driving it. Meanwhile, Teslas and Leafs have been in many wrecks - go to Google Images and search for "crash tesla" or "crash leaf". Where are the fires from these oh-so-flammable vehicles? Yes, they have happened, but at a much lower per-vehicle rate than gasoline cars according to NTSB stats. Sorry, but your fire conceptions are just not based in reality.

Comment Re:Why go without GPS? (Score 2) 30 30

On the Moon or Mars they wouldn't reach very far. But a RTG-powered version on Titan would have unlimited range (although may need to land periodically to recharge its flight batteries). And even a rocket or gas jet version would have quite significant range on an asteroid.

Such a design is obviously going to be very mission sensitive, hence the need for different propulsion systems. Some missions would benefit significantly as well from wings to allow for long distance flight on bodies with atmospheres (Venus, Titan, maybe Mars, etc). A couple worlds, such as Titan, might benefit from landing floats. And so forth. But that's where rapid prototyping tech (such as 3d printing) becomes useful - they engineer the base model and then can play around with variants with ease. Hopefully in the end they'll have a sample collector module with a workable version for almost any body in the solar system. And for the interests of science, we really need something like that, a universal adaptable drone module - to be paired with a universal adaptable ion tug module, one of a couple variants of a universal adaptable reentry / landing modules, and the same for adaptable ascent modules.

It's impressive what science can be pulled off on the surface of another world. But it's nothing compared to what we can do here on Earth with a sample return.

Comment Re:Dubious assumptions are dubious (Score 1) 293 293

Thanks for the offer. I think our local councillor here is already taking them on, and we'll certainly be offering to help. We've probably already got enough resources for this if they're interested in actually reading evidence.

As for the other place where my family and some old friends are, unfortunately I'm told their local council have made it pretty clear that they have no interest in reviewing the situation or changing policy in the near future, so it seems for now that battle has been lost. Until something tragic happens, presumably. :-(

Comment Re:Crooks are afraid of the dark, too (Score 1) 293 293

Unfortunately, things are unlikely to change unless there is a drastic event that makes them change back to keeping the lights on. You're going to have to have someone fall and break a hip, get drastically beaten in a robbery, or just get worked over by thugs.

And that is exactly what a lot of us are afraid of.

It is notable that a couple of the local authorities who first tried these changes have since reverted. It's hard to know the real reasons for that decision given all the factors involved, but allegedly the safety implications turned out not to be as favourable as expected.

Comment Re:Dubious assumptions are dubious (Score 1) 293 293

The trouble is these decisions at local authority level are always partly motivated by political concerns (often with a NIMBY element) and always have one eye on the money jar.

The actual study this is all based on has quite a few significant limitations, many of which the original authors did acknowledge right on page 1. I set out a some of them in another post in this discussion. Unfortunately, newspaper headlines and biased councillors both have a way of only highlighting the over-simplified conclusion and not all the caveats that go with it.

Comment Re:Dubious assumptions are dubious (Score 1) 293 293

Of course you should slow down if you can't see properly. No-one is suggesting otherwise.

On the other hand, forcing people to do so makes formerly cycle-friendly streets cycle-hostile, so now people who might have to come home late are driving instead, undoing years of work to promote cycling as an alternative mode of transport.

Or, we could just have sensible, cycle-friendly levels of street lighting to encourage the sustainable, environmentally tolerable, high capacity modes of transport that we actually need.

Sure, you can get dramatically more powerful cycle lights, but most bike shops don't routinely carry them around here and hardly anyone actually has them. So at a minimum, this adjustment for changing street lighting seems to require everyone to buy much more expensive bike lights. At a time when people not buying bike lights at all is a significant safety problem that comes up every year here, I'm not sure that policy is realistic.

Comment Re:Crooks are afraid of the dark, too (Score 1) 293 293

We have looked this up before. If your external windows are overlooking public space and someone's reasonable lighting is partially lighting that space as well, then unless it's obviously excessive it is unlikely there is anything enforceable that can be done, any more than you have an enforceable right to demand council-operated street lighting around your home all be turned off because you don't like it. I'm not even sure there should be anything enforceable that can be done in that situation, but that's just my personal opinion. I'm just pointing out that for lighting under council control, there may be extra steps they can take to moderate the impact anyway.

Comment Re:Crooks are afraid of the dark, too (Score 1) 293 293

Why the fuck would a 80 year old be walking down a dark street alone?

I could counter with the obvious "Why shouldn't they, if they want to?" and point out that a member of the previous generation of that family was still happily and capably walking to visit friends or go shopping at nearly 100, but that doesn't really get us anywhere.

In the specific case I had in mind, I'm talking about the oldest member of a family walking back with the rest of his family to their car, after visiting my family.

That person is perfectly capable of getting themselves to the car without needing help from anyone else, as long as they can see where they are going. In fact, as a matter of independence, I'm quite sure they would want to do it themselves. Most people I know of that generation who are still with us take great pride in maintaining that independence as much as possible and not becoming a burden on others, and I firmly believe we should all help them to do so for as long as they can for basic quality-of-life reasons.

Of course their children would help if necessary, and so would anyone from my family, and so would other neighbours if they saw there was a problem. No-one here is suggesting leaving an octogenarian in difficulties to fend for themselves. I'm just saying they shouldn't be put in those difficulties in the first place if it can reasonably be avoided.

Turning off the lights has a disproportionate effect on older people -- not just octogenarian kind of older, but also drivers or cyclists in say their 50s or 60s who would routinely travel independently and probably wouldn't describe themselves as old, but whose eyesight will nevertheless be far less effective in the dark than it was in their twenties. The cut-off point will be different for everyone, but at some point the effect will be enough to make people who would otherwise have felt confident going somewhere not to go out any more, and I don't think that is a good thing.

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