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Comment Re:Internet Explorer (Score 5, Insightful) 391

Yes, but how do you know that MS hasn't inserted a nice big back-door for the spooks?

From a "security" perspective, you'll have to go with an open-source browser -- but even that's not a guarantee.

To be sure, you'll have to compile it yourself from a set of source files that you have gone through with a fine-toothed comb, checking each line for any chance of hidden functionality.

Oh, come to think of it -- you'll also have to assemble all the libraries from similarly vetted sources -- oh, and that means you'll need to use a compiler you've built from vetted sources -- but hey, that would involve using another compiler that could already be compromised so...

You'll have to hand-code (from source to binary) every bite of the compiler you use and then type it in through a BIOS that you've also hand coded -- entering the BIOS code through a set of toggle switches on the front panel.

Bottom line -- you don't *know* for sure that *any* browser is going to be secure.

Comment I remember when... (Score 5, Insightful) 134

I'm probably one of the older readers/posters here and I'll tell you why I hate TV.

Back when I was a kid, there was no TV.

People and communities were far different.

Everyone knew their neighbours and interacted with them on a daily basis.

We'd have card or board-game evenings on a Tuesday night, whereupon most everyone in the street would roll up at someone's house and enjoy a very social time together, enjoying each other's company and having fun. We kids would play out in the yard (in summer) or inside (in winter), sharing our comics and also playing games.

When Mrs Brown 5 doors down was ill, someone would go mow her lawns every weekend and the women would take turns making sure she had a nutritious meal three times a day.

Most Saturday nights the guy who lived next to us would get out his 16mm film projector and a movie would be screened on his garage door. The adults would all sit around watching and drinking beer -- while we kids also watched or just went and played ball in the yard out back.

Because of this tight bonding between neighbors, those were days when you could leave your car parked in the driveway (or on the road outside your house) with the keys in it and when folk went on vacation, they never bothered to lock their doors -- otherwise the people next door couldn't get in to water the plants while you were away.

Perhaps my glasses of retrospect are rose-tinted, but they were wonderful, carefree, crime-free days where I lived.

Then TV came along.

Once everyone had their own set, people no longer got together and socialised of an evening. Instead, they stayed in their own houses and after a few years (as some folk sold up and others moved in), it quickly became apparent that we didn't even know some of those who lived in the street.

A little later, after a few car-thefts and burglaries, people started locking their cars and doors.

You see, once the fabric of the community was torn by the isolating effect of television, most folk no longer had the close bond that once existed with the others in their neighborhood -- in fact people became anonymous. Once folk are anonymous their inhibitions tend to drop and they're far more likely to submit to temptation (such as theft or other crimes). Just look at how differently many people behave when they're on vacation in a different part of the country and you'll see the proof of that. If the people around you know who you are you tend to be far more conservative and circumspect in your behavior. Go somewhere where nobody knows you and it's easier to behave badly.

Anyway, TV has now become opiate of the masses. Far too many people spend a huge percentage of their life passively sitting in front of the box, soaking up everything that's thrown at them.

If you'd tried to describe why the Kardashians would be celebrities back when I was a kid, people would simply not understand -- and I have to admit, I still don't get it.

The best thing we could do for any nation is to switch off TV and show people that "reality" is a much better option than "reality TV".

Hell, imagine how much better off we'd all be if we spent an hour less each day watching TV and instead, used that time to improve our education, earn a little extra money -- or just spend quality time with our friends and families.

I doubt very much whether *anyone's* last words will ever be "Darn, I wish I'd spent more time watching TV".

But hey, I'm old enough to know I'm wrong more often than I'm right -- so feel free to ignore this rant :-)

Comment Re:Year of Linux is Finally Here (Score 1) 1215

I switched from Ubuntu 10.4 when the LTS was dropped for that version and I didn't want to fart around with a new UI, advertising (oops, sorry -- purchase recommendations), etc so I went to Mint.

Mint has some nice aspects when compared to U10.4 and some not so nice.

Still undecided at this stage which I prefer.

But both flavors of Linux are better than Windows (IMHO) which I only keep around for video rendering (with Vegas). If Sony did a version of Vegas for Linux (which they never will), I could toss my Windows box.

Comment Re:Cost (Score 2) 111

Now, if the citizens of NZ decided to sue their government for wasting so many resources on a personal vendetta against a single individual... THAT I can see making it to court.

Never going to happen.

NZers have a "she'll be right" attitude to everything.

No matter how shocking or horrifying the actions of their government, Kiwis just sit back and say "oh well, never mind" and then ask "what's for dinner, where's my beer?"

The government(s) of this country have forgotten that that their job is to *represent* the citizens, not rule over them like some despot dictator.

In just the past year or three we've had a raft of instances where the courts have ruled that the government or its agencies (such as the police or GCSB) have acted illegally/unlawfully.

In the case of Kim Dotcom, they raided the man's house, held him and his family at gunpoint then took away virtually everything he owned. The courts said "that was unlawful".

Now if *you* or *I* did such a thing it would be called armed robbery and we'd be playing "find the soap" with Bubba in the big house by now -- but when the government or its agencies do it -- they simply sweep the whole damned thing under the carpet and citizens are supposed to accept it.

We've also had armed police in black riot gear invade a small town, hold its people at gunpoint and carry out searches, interrogations and detainments which the courts have again ruled to be "unlawful". And yet again, nobody is held to account for this. Nobody is censured. Nobody is fined imprisoned or even loses their job.

The GCSB (our version of the NSA) was found to have unlawfully spied on over 80 NZ citizens or residents (including Kim Dotcom) in recent years, despite laws that prohibit such activities. The government's excuse was that people were apparently building weapons of mass destruction here and needed to be monitored. Really??? Nobody censured, nobody fined, nobody imprisoned for these breaches of the law.

In the latest fiasco, the courts have ruled that government moves to unilaterally change the way that accused citizens are entitled to legal aid (a public defender) is also illegal. So what was the government's response? "Too bad -- we're sticking with those changes anyway."

And they call this a free democracy?

Surely no government should be above the law and all must answer to the courts for their actions.

You may think that all the above is a horrible crime against the people -- but ultimately, the biggest crime of all is that the people of this country just sit back and take it. Aside from a few "radicals", nobody seems concerned that the government(s) of the day hold themselves and their agencies to be above the laws that have been created to control them. Unbelievable!

Comment Sense and avoid (Score 1) 166

This is why I have been working on a practical "sense and avoid" (SAA) system for UAVs and FPV RC models.

So far so good (very good in fact) and I expect to start the airborne testing of a prototype very shortly.

The goal was to have the reliable detection of full-sized aircraft at a minimum range of 1.5Km and not rely on transponders or other equipment in those aircraft and it appears that this objective is attainable.

It's been a lot of fun developing this thing and it's something that has really only become possible recently, now that we've got some seriously powerful processors capable of handling the signal processing involved without the need for a rack-sized box and an appetite for watts.

If it works "as planned", odds are that I'll be releasing this as an open-source, copyleft project so hobbyists can use it instead of it becoming the sole domain of the "drone" companies.

Comment A little information (Score 5, Informative) 700

Lithium batteries really don't handle cold temperatures very well at all -- one of the many reasons that aircraft have continued to use good old fashioned Nickel-cadmium or lead-acid batteries (until the Dreamliner came along).

When they're too cold, they neither take a full charge, nor do they deliver their rated capacity or maximum current.

I would say that, given the weather on the East Coast of the USA during the drive, this played a significant factor in the lack of range encountered -- but I acknowledge that it may not be the only factor.

Perhaps another factor is the enhanced need to heat the passenger compartment. Unlike a regular IC-powered car, there's very little "waste heat" in an EV so perhaps over-zealous use was made of the electric heating - thus producing further heavy drain on the battery and reducing range.

The problem (for Tesla) is that people don't want an EV that comes with a long list of "don'ts" and "cautions" in respect to power management and the effects of low/high temperatures on range. They just want a car they can unplug, jump in and drive -- with an unqualified guarantee of a known range. That's effectively what they get now with their IC-powered cars and that's what they want from any replacement.

Comment It's the XSS flaw still active (Score 5, Interesting) 47

I got hit by this last week and blogged about it, griping that surely a company with the resources of Yahoo should be able to fix such a critical flaw faster than seems to be the case.

It would appear that Yahoo is happy to announce "fixexd" while the hackers simply exploit yet another hole in the company's shaky cloud.


Would Google be so lax in sorting out what is clearly a very critical issue that is affecting a large (and rapidly growing) number of users?

Comment Re:This is not new (Score 1) 158

humans have, of course, cheated death to some extent, so we're outliers, though it is worth noting that prehistoric humans had a max. lifespan of around 40 years...

No. prehistoric humans had a life expectancy of 25-40 years. Life expectancy is the mean age at death not the maximum lifespan. Given that we are genetically identical to prehistoric man, I think it's fair to say that they're maximum lifespan was somewhere between 100 and 120 years just like us.

Comment Kim versus Google (Score 3, Informative) 211

I'm pretty sure everyone loves to hate the RIAA/MPAA so Kim Dotcom had little trouble rounding up support when they moved to shut down MegaUpload.

Unfortunately, he's now picking a fight with bigger opponent and possible a mass of small website owners who rely on their Adsense revenues to help pay the bills.

Kicking the RIAA/MPAA for their sins is one thing, taking money out of the mouths of independent content creators (by hijacking their ad-revenues to fund his Mega-services) is something altogether different.

I admire KD for what he's doing with the MegaKey service but I really wonder if he's got an oar out of the water in picking a fight with Google and the many websites who rely on that company's ad-revenue sharing.

BTW: I'm one of those sites and I'll be mighty pissed if Kim starts replacing the ads on *my* webpages that should be generating money to pay for *my* efforts -- because I have *nothing* to do with MegaKey so why should *I* be paying for it?

Comment And your reply to such a demand? (Score 4, Funny) 227

Dear Sir,

Thank you for your invoice # 88266 for the sum of 300 Euros.

This has been forwarded to our accounting department who have informed me that as of today, your account is now 30 Euro in debt, being calculated as follows:

Opening balance: 0.00
Your Inv# 88266: -300.00
Handling fee: 150.00
Processing fee: 120.00
Account setup fee: 60.00
Closing balance: 30.00

Please remit your payment for 30.00 Euro within 7 days to avoid legal action.

We thank you for your business and trust you will continue to trade with us.

F.U Assole
President, Don't Mess With Us Inc

Comment Re:You are so naive (Score 4, Interesting) 177

"I'm getting really sick of this tiresome rant popping up on every single Slashdot story. Government is corrupt. Corporations rule the world. We are all slaves. blah blah blah!

Can't you guys give it a rest?

Why do you always post your rants as AC anyway?"

Sadly, while I might once have agreed with everything you said, I fear that times have changed -- or perhaps it's just that the Net has allowed the truth to be revealed in a way that governments can no longer control.

Everywhere you look these days, there are many and varied examples of government being driven, directed and controlled by industries and those with lots (of money) at stake.

Look at Kim Dotcom for instance -- the MPAA/RIAA may have had plenty of legal justification for some of what they did -- but certainly not all of it and not the way it was done. Hell, the FBI/MPAA/RIAA triad even bullied the New Zealand government in engaging in "unlawful acts" to carry out their dirty deeds.

We've seen the problem of politicians protecting the rich at the cost of the poor grow to become a major problem down in this part of the world (NZL) and it's plainly obvious that the situation is far worse elsewhere.

Bureaucrats (ie: central and local government) spend most of their time simply working to cover it's own ass -- in case things go wrong.

Just look at most of the laws and regulations out there. They're not to improve the safety or to benefit the public nearly so much as they are to ensure that when something goes wrong, some bureaucrat somewhere can say "not my fault, we passed a law/regulation against that and the offender(s) broke those laws/regulations".

Look at gun control for instance...

It's illegal to murder someone with a firearm (or anything else for that matter) -- so the problem of firearms is solved! If someone goes postal or kills innocent pupils/teachers in a rampage -- it's not the fault of any bureaucrat - after all, they've made killing illegal so it's not *their* fault that kids can get their hands on assault rifles so easily.

And they're doing it again with terrorism... they're making just about *everything* illegal -- so when a terrorist does attack and innocent folk are killed, they can turn around and say "not our fault, we made everything illegal -- what more could we do?"

As for drones -- well yes, they're almost certainly going to make them illegal (in the hands of private individuals) too. After all, if there's one thing that bureaucrats *don't* like, it's having their actions spied on by those they're allegedly employed to protect.

Sorry but the "perfect" world never existed and never will.

And look... not posting as an AC! :-o

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