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Comment: Re:Question... -- ? (Score 5, Interesting) 215

by locofungus (#47332621) Attached to: Exploiting Wildcards On Linux/Unix

Back in the (iirc) bsd 4.2 days, su was a suid shell script - at least on the machines I was using at the time.

Setup a symlink to su called -i

$ -i
# rm -- -i

There was a security bug handling suid shell scripts where the user was changed and then the #! interpreter was run, i.e. /bin/sh -i

and you got an interactive root shell :-)

Was very informative when the 'script kiddies' (although I don't recall that term existing in those days) had symlinks called -i in their home directory that they didn't know how to delete ;-)

Comment: Re:So when will the taxi drivers start protesting? (Score 4, Interesting) 583

by locofungus (#47109053) Attached to: Google Unveils Self-Driving Car With No Steering Wheel

and we wouldn't have to worry about being late so much because of traffic jams

I'd expect there to be far more traffic jams because no longer is there an incentive not to let your car drive into the city.

Can't find a parking space - just leave your car driving around. Intelligent cars would actually seek out traffic jams so as to minimize fuel use.

Almost at your destination and crawling along. Get out and walk the last bit and let your car get there in its own time.

Stuck in traffic jam, get out, pop to the newsagent catch up with the car and get back in again.

For the more proactive, stick your Brompton in the back and let the car drive most of the way to the city. Once it starts getting snarled up in traffic, hop out, cycle the rest of the way and let the car do the rest of the journey on its own ready for when you want to leave.

Time it right, and the car will arrive just as you're ready to load your shopping (and bike) back into the car. Hopefully, these automatic cars won't block the roads for the drivers trying to leave the city so the route out will be fast, unlike human drivers who block junctions all the time.

Comment: Re:Motion from the outside not counted. (Score 1) 122

by locofungus (#47057083) Attached to: Even In the Wild Mice Run In Wheels

There was a pet shop - I think this was in the North East of England but I cannot remember why I would have been in a pet shop so maybe not - that had a cage of chipmunks.

Two of them (always the same two) would get onto a wheel side by side and then run like mad.

One was slightly faster/had more stamina than the other one and eventually the other one couldn't keep up at which point it just held on and got a ride "over the top". The wheel would then come to a standstill and then they'd start all over again.

Was hysterically funny and I remember watching them for ages.

Comment: Re:CO2 and climate: my take (Score 1) 323

by locofungus (#47048897) Attached to: Rising Sea Level Could Put East Coast Nuclear Plants At Risk

Yes, of course. Which says that we need to use a longer interval to get a significant trend.

I'm not sure what the point you're trying to make is. If the signal is sufficiently noisy it's easy to find intervals with almost any desired trend, they just won't be significant.

The last 17 years are consistent with the long term trend which is, itself, statistically significant (and positive). Over the last 17 years the trend is (probably - I haven't actually done the calculation) not significant but it's still positive.

Comment: Re:CO2 and climate: my take (Score 1) 323

by locofungus (#47044865) Attached to: Rising Sea Level Could Put East Coast Nuclear Plants At Risk

I don't know why I bother but:

I took the GISS monthly data from May 1997 to April 2014. Spreadsheet gives me a slope of 0.001828 - or approximately 0.02C per year or 0.2C per decade.

This might not be significant, I can't be bothered to do any more, but to say there has been no rise in temperature is disingenuous at best and an outright lie at worst.

The strongest (negative) statement that can honestly be made would be that "there might not have been a statistically significant increase in warming over the last 17 years."

Comment: Re:The Problem Isn't "Free Speech vs Privacy" (Score 1) 278

by locofungus (#47044151) Attached to: The US Vs. Europe: Freedom of Expression Vs. Privacy

There are two problems here. First, why should search engines not enjoy the same free speech rights as newspapers?

You're asking the wrong question.

First - why should search engines be exempt from the data control regulations that other people who compile databases of personal information are obliged to follow?

The court has ruled that what Google is doing is _legal_. That is huge! Everybody else has to get a licence from the data controller, has to provide all the information they hold on a person in a readily accessible form[1] for a small (capped) fee and has to delete information on request.

[1] When a subject access request is made, the company has to go through and remove all the personal information relating to other people - so Google could not just point to their search engine.

Google (search engines) only have to comply with the last of these. I've not read the judgement, so I'm not sure why search engines were given a free pass on the other items (although I agree with it)

Comment: Re:Mario Costeja González (Score 1) 199


This is a canard. Nobody in his right mind, even on this site, contends that free speech ought to allow one to break laws.

Google is breaking the law in Europe. The European court didn't make a new law, the European court merely ruled that *EXISTING* laws require google to delete the information when requested.


Comment: Re:Sanity check (Score 2) 197

by locofungus (#46991037) Attached to: 7.1 Billion People, 7.1 Billion Mobile Phone Accounts Activated

In Europe, it's common for people who travel frequently abroad to have a sim for a local provider in each country they visit.

On some bits of the south coast of England, some people get better (or only) reception from France. They have a sim for France which they put in their phone when they're at home and a UK sim for when they're out to avoid accidental roaming charges when at home.

Comment: Re:Mario Costeja González (Score 3, Informative) 199

The EU does cherish freedom of speech. But it also cherishes the privacy of the individual.

The US - based on comments on this site - appears to have decided that freedom of speech trumps everything else. You can lie, cheat, shout fire in a crowded theatre, call in fake bomb scares, basically anything at all because it's all "freedom of speech."

The EU takes a much more nuanced view. Sometimes there's an overwhelming reason why freedom of speech should trump privacy. Sometimes privacy should trump freedom of speech, and sometimes it's a grey area that has to be litigated through the courts.

In this particular case, the court hasn't ruled that the information has to disappear - all they've ruled is that google (and presumably other search engines) need to give people the right to remove search results about themselves.

Most things are "allowed to be forgotten" in most circumstances. So, for example, most employers aren't allowed to ask "have you ever been made bankrupt?" although I think they can ask "are you an undischarged bankrupt". Google is allowing employers to sidestep the protective regulations that were built into bankruptcy law before the internet existed. The EU is now merely trying to reinstate them.

Comment: Re:It's about power, not being a customer (Score 1) 417

by locofungus (#46958433) Attached to: London Black Cabs Threaten Chaos To Stop Uber

The argument that black cabs are making is that Uber is using a taxi-meter for their fares and its illegal to have a taxi-meter installed (in London) unless you are a black cab.

(I'm making no comment about whether that rule is reasonable, I don't know why it exists other than, presumably, to deter non-black cabs from answering hails - the price needs to be agreed which should be done at booking time)

Black cab drivers are complaining that that law isn't being enforced for Uber, hence their protest. TfL have said that they don't consider using an app, having a meter installed.

At the end of the day this can only be decided by:

a) repealing the law - Uber is welcome to lobby to get that done - but they haven't.
b) bringing a test case - this is where I suspect the black cab drivers problem is. It's probably TfL who has to bring the test case. The courts will then have to decide whether an app is an "installed taxi-meter"

After (or possibly before) b, parliament can decide to clarify the law. Generally parliament doesn't act unless there's a perceived problem though - so it won't be until: 1) The courts rule that an app isn't an installed taxi-meter but parliament decides that they intended to catch the Uber case - the law will be modified to make it explicit that an app counts as a taxi-meter.
2) The courts rule that an app is an installed taxi-meter but parliament decides that that wasn't intended to be caught and clarify the law (probably after lobbying)
3) There are a series of high profile assaults/robberies/etc by Uber drivers so parliament clarifies the law so then TfL prosecutes Uber drivers.

Black-cab and mini-cab services coexist in London. I've used both and no doubt will again in the future.

Uber appears to be treading the line between a mini-cab service (which would be legal) and a black-cab service (which would be illegal). One of the great things about London is that, late at night, when you're the worse for drink, you can get into some random strangers car and be as confident as it's possible to be that that person will deliver the promised service.

There's quite a lot of (TfL) advertising warning people that "unless it's pre-booked it's a stranger's car".

Comment: Re:It's about power, not being a customer (Score 5, Informative) 417

by locofungus (#46957149) Attached to: London Black Cabs Threaten Chaos To Stop Uber

So in this particular case it will be interesting to watch the fairly well monied Uber fighting with the zillion somewhat less monied cab companies.

They're not fighting the cab companies. They're fighting the black cab drivers.

London has a peculiar system. There are black cabs - which can be hailed on the street, within certain limits they are obliged to take you to your destination (so if they're waiting at a major station hoping for a lucrative fare and you want to go around the corner, they have to take you and lose their place in the queue at the station), and the fare is calculated by an installed meter and is relative to time and distance travelled. (There is a minimum fare)

Private hire cars must be pre-booked (the booking only has to be a few minutes in advance - typically you ring up the office and then they send the nearest car to pick you up), and they're under no obligation at all to take you when you call when they hear where you want to go.

Uber uses a metering system linked to an app. Black cabs are the only taxis allowed to have a meter fitted. TfL (Transport for London) have said they don't consider the app to be "fitted" and therefore the law banning other cars from having a meter fitted doesn't apply.

Black cabs also have to pass a rather impressive test. Within the area they're obliged to carry passengers, they're required to show they know every street, landmark etc. (Apparently, when they're examined, a favourite trick of the examiners is to ask them to do a journey where roadworks have temporarily closed the "usual" way and the drivers are expected to know about it and not just "follow the diversion" but take the best route knowing in advance that there are roadworks.)

Comment: Re:wrong (Score 1) 360

We learned in grade school that it works because a lot of liquids, especially water, stick together. The water going downward pulls the water upwards because the whole amount in the hose is bonded together. THAT is how it works.

But if you fill a large diameter pipe with water then the water falls out of the pipe even if you keep the top end closed. Put a piece of card across the low end though and air pressure will hold the water in.

Based on looking at a drip, I'd guess that water doesn't have enough tensile strength to support anything more than a couple of mm of itself.

Air pollution is really making us pay through the nose.