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Comment Before you jump to defend freedom... (Score 1) 394

Are you aware of what has gone on to result in this regulation? Look it up.

"The Press" in the UK has systematically abused it's position. It has acted as if it were beyond the law and society as a whole. Having been skating on thin ice for more than a decade, hacking of phones of both the weak and the powerful was the final straw.

Alas, this law is the unfortunate consequence of their own actions. I would gladly solicit better suggestions to tackle this issue. How do you reign in a press drunk with power in a free society?

Comment Re:Oh for crying out loud... (Score 1) 231

I hate to point this out, but there were not many people in their mid twenties in any position of power in the 1950's.
That and the vast majority of Elizabeth II's generation are very much dead.

Thankfully old men die and attitudes change.
Unfortunately it often takes the old men dying for it happen.

Comment Oh for crying out loud... (Score 5, Insightful) 231

I really do not get this "You must apologise for everything!" mentality that has sprung up over the past 15 years or so.

I'm from the UK. The UK has done some seriously horrible things in both it's distant and recent history.
While Turing is a personal tragedy, his story isn't even a blip on the radar of what has been carried out by my country in the grand scheme of horribleness.
Yes. Outlawing homosexuality is wrong. Leaving India, Ireland etc. to starve is wrong. Conquest at the barrel of a gun is wrong. Slavery is wrong. We get it. But, to be harsh, the current generation isn't really disputing any of that. Your beef is with the generations that have come before, rotting in their graves and if given their lives again, probably would have done the exact same thing.

What meaning does a pardon or an apology have if it is not from those that actually performed the act?
For it just smacks of the worst kind of tokenistic politics.

I for one am sick to death of meaningless apologising for the many and numerous mistakes of my parents, grandparents, great grandparents and so on.
I have enough mistakes of my own to be accountable for.

Comment Well said. (Score 1) 279

I've seen far too many friends, far brighter and more talented than I am, become shells of their former selves by a PhD, chemistry in particular. The academic system in particular seems to take the very best talent and utterly destroy it, with science as a whole suffering as a result.

Comment Oh no, not this again. (Score 5, Interesting) 212

Babbage was not "a man before his time". He didn't need more money. He didn't need a larger machine shop. He blew it!

He had the money.
The people in 1800's Britain knew a good thing when they saw it. And when small prototypes were demonstrated the British Government committed to build the difference engine. And guess what, they wanted to use it for gunnery on ships! They invested *big*. How much? One fully kited out battleship's worth. One of these: (more or less). That is a huge amount of money.

The skills were available.
Have a look at a British clock from this period. Very intricate work and at a lot smaller scale than Babbage required. Sure, what he was doing was on a large scale, but the skills and tools were out there. Indeed, Babbage teamed up with them and had the money to do it.

But he committed the cardinal sin. Babbage was forever changing the design. Yes Mr Babbage, your analytical engine idea is nice but we are paying you for the difference engine! He could not stay focused to build what was paid for and required. Falling out with the machinists capable of building it hardly helped maters. He did not deliver. As a result he blew not only his own reputation but that of the whole idea, killing it for the best part of a century. That is how bad he was.

You can be the most talented man in the world, but if you are so disorganised and uncivil that nobody wants to work for you it is all for nothing. A lesson we can all still learn form.

Comment Couldn't agree more. (Score 2) 130

I'm lucky enough to know a guy now working on the OLPC project in Uruguay. In his opinion and mine it is an ideal country to try this out.
He works at roll out and technical support end with schools, essentially at the coal face of this idea.

What is his biggest day-to-day problem?
Convincing the kids not to use the laptop as a Frisbee.

Projects like this need a *lot* of work. This current idea is positively idiotic and shows just how little feedback there is in the organisation.

Comment Re:So what does this mean? (Score 3, Interesting) 93

Which makes it all the greater same that the Beagle 2 did not land. We need a robotic chemist up there.
While the two NASA rovers have done great work, they are very specialised as robotic geologists. This is great if you wanted pretty pictures of rocks, but does leave you stuffed if you want hard data on potential organic molecules.
For it's many, many flaws, the Beagle 2 did manage to pack in a lot of science (indeed it would have provided much more interesting results IMHO) into a very small space on a shoe string. I can't help but think that if a little of the now obvious considerable redundancy (two rovers for crynout loud) built into the NASA mission had been given up for more science there would not be such a the need to send a rover the size of a car.

Comment Entrenching the Class Divide. (Score 5, Insightful) 427

Internships are like poison to a meritocracy based society. Unpaid internships doubly so.

They allow richer parents to use both their money and connections to manoeuvre their children into jobs that have wealth, power or both. This comes at the expense of poorer and middle class children who can not bankroll their children in adulthood or do not move in the right social circles.

A classic example in my country (UK) was a fund raising event for the Conservative party. Internships at top flight financial and legal firms were auctioned off the party donors to raise funds for the party. No, I did not make this up : (apologies for linking to the Daily Mail, but credit where it is due, they did break this story).

These sort of actions entrench wealth and power with those who already have them. An internship via connections or unpaid work is a boot in the face of those who can not ride out life on Daddy's coat-tails.

Comment Oh for pity's sake. (Score 0) 229

If there was a computing discovery of true importance, it would most likely be granted the mathematics prize. In the same way that biology tends to get lumped in with chemistry every other year.
But for the most part, computing discoveries are just not 'Nobel' important.

Comment They are aiming for ESA... (Score 2) 136

Ariane 5, until recently, was the most successful commercial launcher.
However, the rocket is getting a little long in the tooth and things are hotting up with Space X getting into their stride.

While TFA states otherwise, Reaction Engines Ltd are most likely aiming for the forthcoming ESA review and investigation into a replacement for Ariane 5. It would be a long shot, both the UK's dismal track record in funding space flight at a national level and France's well proven track record are major hurdles. But I suspect this would be Skylon's best bet, nobody else has the spare billion or 5 to spend on the project.

Comment Re:Fingerprint destruction (Score 1) 135

I don't think that the issue is weather or not they grow back, but more a case of where or not you can damage them to a point where they will not be recognised by the scanning software.
I know I have picked up a number of scars on my fingers in my line of work which I do not want to result in a 3 hour delay at an airport. Saying that, ears are no better, for I have a chunk out of my left ear from a rugby injury.

One of these days they will come up with a better method of identification, until then, I think it would be better for all if we could learn to start trusting each other again.

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