Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?

Comment Social engineers & Googlers are wanted too (Score 3, Insightful) 85

> I simply went through Google ... bad news for GCHQ

You seem to think they are recruiting solely for codebreakers.

They may be recruiting for analysts - people who search for information. Let's say you have an agent in the field, whose cover story is being questioned by the enemy. You want an analyst to tell the agent how to correctly answer the enemy's questions so that the agent's cover is maintained.

It's quite possible that many of the "correct" answers published are actually incorrect misinformation. A good analyst would use his skills to weigh up which of the supposedly "correct" answers was the most reliable.

Sometimes the problem at the doughnut is not obtaining the data, but sifting through the massive amount of data to find the information you actually need.

Like any person living near Cheltenham, I have several friends who work there, and whilst it's entirely possible they're all secret maths geniuses, I doubt it. Codebreaking isn't the be-all and end-all of GCHQ's work, they have to sift and analyse the intel after they've got it.

Comment Looting Johnny Foreigner != Exports (Score 1) 130

>Zimbabwe used to be a net exporter of food

Was that because they had a surplus, or because we chaps here in England just nicked all their veg, tossed the chalky landowners a few pennies and left the natives to starve?

*Ireland* was a net exporter of potatoes, during the potato fammine, but only because we pointed guns at them and told them to load up the boats.

Comment You don't own facts about yourself. Get over it. (Score 3, Insightful) 338

For heaven's sake, get it into your head: You do not "own" facts about yourself. You never did. It has never been, and will never be, illegal for someone to look at you in the bus queue and observe what clothes you're wearing, what your height is, what your hair colour is, or what number bus you're queuing for. Nor is it illegal for someone to listen to you chatting to your friend and hear your name or where you live.

Even before the widespread use of computers, people were compiling databases about individuals. In the Victorian and Edwardian era there were still card indexes of potential customers' names and addresses.

What is different here is the *interconnectedness* . I don't mind people complaining about interconnectedness - I mean, it's pointless and they've missed the boat by at over 20 years, but it is at least a valid argument. The ability of this information to spread at lightning speed between billions of people using thousands of databases, yes, that is relatively new. But complaining about somebody else knowing facts about you, that's dumb.

In England we've had this for well over 950 years, since the Domesday Book in 1089AD which listed every landowner in the country. Most likely the Roman empire kept a similar directory over two thousand years ago.

If you visit a company's website and they record the facts of your visit, that is NOT illegal. It's not even immoral. It only becomes controversial when they pass this information on to an entity which was not otherwise involved with your visit.

Comment Why Scottish independence isn't a problem either (Score 1) 260

Actually Scottish independence is reasonably likely in the next five or ten years (not probable, but double-figure-percentage likely).

The independence party (Scottish National Party) have said that they would remain members of the EU and would not enforce any border restrictions, so it wouldn't be much different to the existing land border between Northern Ireland (UK) and the Republic of Ireland (hasn't been UK since, erm, 1920 something?), where there are already lots of roads and railways crossing the border with no border checks whatsoever - just fire up Google Maps Street View and you can follow roads betwen NI and ROI with not a border check in sight (most of the time there isn't even a road sign telling you which country you're in). Being a member of the EU would also mean that Scots would continue to be able to work legally in England, and Englishmen would continue to be able to work legally in Scotland.

The SNP have also said that Scotland would remain a member of NATO so the use of the Faslane nuclear submarine base would be pretty much unchanged. The only real problems would be beancounter stuff like exactly who owns the submarines, warships, fighter jets and tanks.

There would be similar beancounter problems in genuinely trans-national government-owned entities such as the BBC; for instance the BBC's children's programmes are mostly made at dedicated studios in Scotland, whereas the BBC drama programmes are mostly made at dedicated studios in the English Midlands and BBC sci-fi programmes are mostly made at dedicated studios in Wales. But for most entities, including the socialist-model NHS, it is already broken down into regional or sub-national components anyway.

The UK is pretty much already set up for independence. Since we're already in the European Union it really wouldn't make much difference.

Even the Queen-as-head-of-state thing is already covered by the Commonwealth. There are lots of independent countries which have kept the Queen as head of state; Canada, for example.

A lot of English people are actually quite pro-independence for Scotland, since Scotland has a poorer economy which gets subsidised by England (although you could argue that most of the UK is actually subsidised by Greater London).

It might happen, it could easily happen, there aren't any big practical barriers, there'd be very little day-to-day change and most British people are pretty indifferent about it. Scottish independence? "Meh".

(Disclaimer: I'm English living in England)

Comment Re:Scotland's only 200x150 miles (Score 2) 260

Short answer: They are probably simulating the invasion of a nuclear submarine base. This requires: 1x nuclear submarine base.

>So why can't the military just test this a hundred miles farther away?

Because it is difficult to simulate the invasion of a nuclear submarine base using a bunch of pontoons in the Atlantic. The nuclear submarine base in question, at Faslane, is attached to a fixed landmass (the Scottish mainland).

>Is there a specific reason they need to be close to civilians to test this?

Yes. This is equivalent to asking: "Why is the nuclear submarine base close to civilians?"

Scotland does not have any deserts or oceans. It doesn't have any uninhabited areas. The narrow strip of sea around the nuclear submarine base is full of inhabited islands, fjords and peninsulas. The civilians rely on ferries between the islands, they rely on fishing to provide an economy, they rely on ships to get their goods to market. Europe is a densely inhabited place. There isn't anywhere you can put a nuclear submarine base that's more than a couple of miles from civilians. Scotland is one of the least densely inhabited places in Europe, so it's the most suitable place we've got.

Europe doesn't have a Gulf of Mexico or an Area 51, we don't have any spaces that empty or that big.

Anywhere else in Europe you might try to simulate the invasion will be have just as many, if not more, civilians. And the civilians around Faslane are used to the inconvenience; civilians elsewhere would make even more fuss.

The only alternative is: Don't do the exercise anywhere Europe. That's fine, but you're no longer simulating an attack on Faslane. I'm no expert, but my guess is that Pacific islands do not have fjords.

Comment Scotland's only 200x150 miles (Score 5, Informative) 260

>What the hell is a fishing boat doing within 20 miles of a major exercise?

Scotland is only 200 miles x 150 miles in size. A fourty-mile exclusion zone (20 miles radius) would kill the entire marine economy for the western coast of the country.

And the marine economy is pretty much the only economy in western Scotland.

Comment Mercator Projection: Why Scotland's sea is NOT BIG (Score 4, Informative) 260

>the ocean is big

Sigh. Mercator Projection.

The "ocean" around Scotland is NOT big. The SEA around Scotland is actually quite small. It's as far north as Newfoundland and Labrador.

It just LOOKS big on the map due to two-dimensional maps stretching out the northern and southern extremities of Earth.

Scotland, in particular Faslane, is where NATO keeps its nuclear submarines. The locals live cheek-by-jowl with these submariners and for the most part get along just fine. But closing off all the sea between all the inhabited islands in the west of Scotland just isn't feasible.

Comment But they have MOTORBIKE SEATS in their cafe! (Score 1) 544

Mate, look at the photo. They have MOTORBIKE SEATS instead of chairs in their cafe.

No amount of rights and freedom posturing is going to overcome the pressure of your kids wanting to SIT ON MOTORBIKES WHILST EATING ICE-CREAM.

My kids would happily have me donate DNA every visit in order to go to a cafe with motorbikes.

Comment Re:Says the manufacturer of cells (Score 1) 124

>where is all the fibre they're going to connect these cells to?

BT don't have a monopoly in larger towns, and especially not in London. Virgin have cable - proper fibre - throughout most of London (admittedly not all of it, but enough to base the intial phase of a 4G/LTE roll-out on it).

Comment Noooooo! Won't somebody think of the pension! (Score 1) 247

Noooooo! This means there might actually be a generation to replace me before I retire!

Programming is pretty much a job for life in the UK. There is currently nobody coming along to replace the existing generation of programmers that learned on the Spectrum, C64 & BBCb.

It's quite common to see grey haired developers these days. We've got nobody under the age of 38. I employed my first great-grandfather last month.

That said, our generation was *particularly* prolific.

Comment Valuing fairness over freedom doesn't devalue them (Score 1) 898

You're missing the point. In the UK we value fairness over freedom.

That's not to say we don't value freedom. We just value fairness *more*. (C.F. the Agile manifesto for a similar set of value judgements).

Freedom is important to us. Fairness is more important to us.

For example, we value the fairness of the little guy being able to take on the big guy in court, more than we value the freedom of rich people to buy as many fancy lawyers as they like. If you're rich, you can still buy lots of fancy lawyers; but we'll also subsidise the poor guy to make the battle even.

Comment Re:Virtual Console... (Score 1) 361

Yup. That was my thought too. The Nintendo Wii has a pretty good library of classic, original videogames and the emulation is also pretty good.

Buy a Wii, a "classic controller" (dual analogue stick) and pay for legit downloads. You can probably hack the Nintendo Classic Controller to fit into an arcade cabinet's 8-way stick + 4 fire buttons + start + select without too much fuss.

No, it doesn't give you the flexibility of MAME, but it does solve the question posed; legality.

Having been a teenager in the 1980s I've been quite impressed with the breadth and accuracy of the Wii Virtual Console. Sure, it hasn't stopped me from also running MAME on my Linux netbook and downloading a few abandonware titles, but if all I had was the Wii Virtual Console plus the legit titles, would my retro gaming need be sufficiently satisfied? Yes, I think it would.

It's not everything. But it's good enough.

Comment Clue is the word "English" (Score 1) 363

> Maybe it will be useful in places where the cell
> carriers don't rape their customers, but using
> it in the USA

Er... the title clearly says "English". He's from England. We give 3G SIM cards away for free, no monthly cost and they remain active so long as you put a few quid credit on every other month or so.

I've got an emergency Nokia 2100 in my missus' car, has had about a ten quid in credit spent on it in the last year and the number is still active and the credit still valid.

England is only 500 miles long and relatively densely populated. It's dirt cheap to run a mobile phone network here. The cellular telcos don't need to rape their customers, they can be profitable just fine being cheap.

Comment Re:Progress (Score 1) 248

> Yes but try running a modern browser in that
> ammount of ram, and then load a modern web page.

Er... I'm browsing Slashdot using Elinks right now, to post this very comment. It's consuming just under 5MB and, as you can see, it works just fine.

Slashdot Top Deals

"Kill the Wabbit, Kill the Wabbit, Kill the Wabbit!" -- Looney Tunes, "What's Opera Doc?" (1957, Chuck Jones)