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Comment Why would it bother them? (Score 1) 206

What safeguards are in place to ensure that people aren't falsely accused?

Why would the film industry or the government be interested in having such safeguards? Are false accusation inconveniencing them in some way?

Why has the government allowed this scheme to operate without the accused having some right to defend themselves?

Well, firstly, there is no evidence that you aren't able to defend yourself. If they actually make an accusation which has some weight (i.e. might actually result in a penalty) then you could probably get the case to a court where you could in principle (and probably at great expense) defend yourself. But otherwise my response is much as before. Haven't you noticed a general trend in the law in the UK of making it harder and harder for people to defend themselves (e.g. reduced access to legal aid and the use of civil action to cover criminal activity so that guilt only needs the balance of probability).

Comment Re:Good policy, if you can live with it .... (Score 1) 238

Well, we certainly can live with it just fine and have done so since the days of Win2000. At the end of the day, security is a trade-off and we have accepted that the relatively minor inconvenience of "standard users" (and for our case it is indeed minor) is less than the inconvenience of a malware attack. It is a balance which everyone has to make.

The same is true for work environments. Where I work security is a very high priority (for reasons you are free to speculate about) and therefore a very restrictive regime operates. There is an approved list of applications (about 200 I think) almost all of which are distributed via App-V. Some can be installed by anyone, whilst for more restricted ones you have to apply and get added to the necessary AD group. In all cases, no admin access by users is required. There is no possibility of adding your own applications as all areas writeable by users have the Windows equivalent of "noexec". If you try to install and run an executable then it simply won't start and logging software will register the attempt and dispatch a warning to your manager.

I have to say however that for most people this regime is not a serious hindrance. The common applications, Office, Chrome, Acrobat Reader etc are all installed by default and update automatically in the background so most users never have a problem. Power users who need admin access for specialist none-approved applications can use their browser to access a VMWare cloud environment and spin up VMs (Windows and Linux) where they can do whatever they want (albeit behind a very restrictive firewall). It all basically works fine and no-one ever experiences a problem with their clock not being set correctly! Mind you, I suspect that our IT budget is significantly higher per seat than yours. Yer pays yer money and yer takes yer choice!

Comment Re:Also in the news (Score 2) 238

My wife's PC and my daughter's Mac both operate on the principle that they only have user accounts and I have access to a separate Admin account for doing things like adding software. Neither of them has ever experienced a problem which could be solved by giving their accounts higher privileges. Perhaps we have been lucky, or perhaps their requirements are modest.

Comment I've often wondered about this. (Score 1) 238

I have always managed my wife's PC (Win 2000, then XP, then 7 and now 10) by having non-admin accounts for each family member and a separate Admin account which I use only for installing applications (having where possible downloaded them using my personal account). I did this because it seemed sensible and is the way Linux works but was always rather mystified that it was never mentioned in any of the "How to make your PC more secure" articles which appear in the popular media.

I wondered if for some reason it wasn't as much of a protection as it appeared, but it now seems that I have been doing the right thing all along (phew) and that it is indeed a mystery why it isn't mentioned more often.

I should add that so far as I am aware my wife has never experienced any problems as a result of this policy (which I also apply BTW to my daughter's Mac).

This arrangement is also how the PCs at work are controlled with the added restriction that none-approved executables will not run at all. If I want to programme or have admin rights then I need to use a VM behind a substantial firewall.

Comment Re:Raspberry Pi (Score 4, Insightful) 501

OK, my comment was too short for many people to grasp the point, for which I apologise (my wife had just yelled "Lunch!").

I was trying to suggest that as big manufacturers attempt to lock down their platforms, there will be an increasing need for those interested in software openness to create their own platforms which don't have this problem. When I wrote "like the Raspberry Pi" I didn't necessarily mean like it in power (although my Pi3 is capable of a lot of useful stuff) but like it in being produced by a manufacturer with a strong interest in it being readily programmable.

Comment Wouldn't they have said something? (Score 5, Funny) 142

Surely, if a fire started as described (in the cockpit, right next to the pilots) the voice recording would contain utterances like "Bloody hell, my phone's caught fire!" or "Hand me that extinguisher we've got a burning iPad" or similar (and in Arabic obviously). Does anyone know if this is the case?

Comment Re:I've never been able to wrap my head around thi (Score 1) 313

Sometime airlines effectively encourage people not to turn up. Example: A few years ago when my wife moved to live with me she needed to book a single ticket (i.e. not a return). She quickly discovered that a return cost less than a single (something which I think is common, but still mystifies me). So, she bought a return ticket and simply didn't turn up for the return flight. So, she was a no-show and it was effectively all the airlines doing.

Comment Re:Wood burning is not clean (Score 1) 111

Did you actually read my comment all the way through? Didn't you notice the bit where I said "...or at least reduce the rate of release to one where society can adapt to the changes"? Of course mankind could exist on an earth with the same climate as the dinosaurs liked, the problem is getting there from here at a price we can afford.

Simple example. Suppose that sea levels were 10m higher than they are today. There would still be enough dry land for mankind (consider that huge areas of the world aren't much occupied) and I am sure we would cope just fine. The problem is that many of our cities have been built on the basis of current sea levels and moving them all 10m uphill is not economically feasible. Now, cities aren't fixed things - the buildings slowly fall down and new ones are built. So, if the sea level goes up slowly enough we can just ensure that we build new building on the higher ground further from the sea and very slowly (with the emphasis on slowly) the city will move uphill. But, we need at least hundreds of years for such a process (the first hundred or so for politicians to agree that something needs to be done) and there is a danger that the sea will go up faster than that.

Comment Re:Wood burning is not clean (Score 2) 111

Back when dinosaurs where stomping about there was a lot more CO2 in the atmosphere than now and the world was a lot hotter (good news for giant reptiles obviously). Over millions of year the carbon from this CO2 ended up in fossil fuels (hence the name) and the average amount in the atmosphere went down and it was in this environment that mankind evolved. The name of the game to fight global warming is to keep this fossil carbon in the ground and not in the atmosphere or at least reduce the rate of release to one where society can adapt to the changes.

Burning 'modern' wood is a different matter. If you leave wood lying around most of it won't turn into coal and anyway not in a useful timescale. It will rot and the bacteria and fungi involved will release the carbon back as CO2 anyway. So you might as well burn it, extract the energy and thereby leave in the ground some fossil carbon which you would otherwise have released.

Comment A VERY rare disease! (Score 1) 133

The University of Edinburgh has a vCJD monitoring unit which records the instances of the disease in the UK. See their latest report. When reading it, it is important to note that it covers all types of CJD, but only the vCJD info is relevant to the mad cow issue (other types of CJD have, for example, genetic causes).

The key take home facts are that (a) the total number of deaths so far in the UK since the disease emerged in 1995 is 178 (128 definite and the rest probable). 28 people died of the disease in 2000 and it has been in decline since then. In the last five years only TWO people have died of it, one in 2013 and one this year. There are ZERO current suspected living cases.

It is of course possible that there could be a second wave of deaths since risk is known to be linked to genetic markers and their could be another genetic group with a much longer incubation period. But with each year with no deaths this seems less and less likely.

Comment Re:so is there a good theory? (Score 1) 470

Honestly, I am making most of this reply up as I go along, since I am not a relativity physicist (or indeed any sort of physicist at all) and Shawyer's entire alleged explanation relies on relativity. Having said that, one can determine one's local velocity without a need for an external reference.

Supposing that you placed the device in empty space. We could call its current speed zero. Clearly it is not zero relative to all the other objects in the universe, some of which are approaching and some of which are receding. If we mount a sensitive accelerometer on the device and then switch it on we will (allegedly) record an acceleration. If we now integrate that acceleration over time we will get a 'local' velocity and I THINK that is the velocity Shawyer is discussing. I very vaguely understand that Einstein's special theory of relativity says that different velocity relative to everything else in the universe doesn't matter and that it all comes out correct when you do all the sums, but that might be completely ignorant rubbish.

The only thing I feel able to say with confidence is that if you want an authoritative answer to your question then you need to (a) read Shawyer's papers with a damp towel wrapped round your head and (b) find a proper physicist who has also read them to discuss it with. Sorry!

Comment Re:Propellantless doesn't mean reactionless (Score 2) 470

Except that according to its inventor ( thrust is related to not only power and cavity design, but also velocity. The net effect of this is, he claims, that the device has a terminal velocity of around 30km/s which is well below "free energy" speed. Note: I don't claim this is true, it is just what Shawyer wrote.

Comment Re:so is there a good theory? (Score 3, Interesting) 470

I strongly recommend reading Shawyer's various papers on the drive (most can be found at Now I will admit that I find quite a lot of their contents either incomprehensible or just plain crazy, but he does evolve some equations which relate thrust to input power, velocity (usually zero in these tests) and (vitally) the Q of the cavity.

He claims (and I certainly haven't bothered to verify this) that if you look at the various papers reporting experimental tests and take into account their reported Q values then they all match his equation to within experimental error. So, he claims that the reported thrusts do 'overlap' if you allow for the different Qs being achieved.

Comment Re:so is there a good theory? (Score 1) 470

If you take the time to read Shawyer's own papers on the topic (which may of course be complete drivel) he explicitly states that his drive needs to obey conservation of energy (i.e. no perpetual motion). He then goes on to evolve equations and related explanations which suggest that the drive's thrust drops significantly with increasing acceleration and velocity (basically due to Doppler shifts inside the cavity). I seem to recall that the maximum theoretically possible values are 0.5m/s/s and 30km/s but this does rather depend on precise thruster design.

I am of course unable to say whether his explanations are true, and if the drive doesn't work at all then they are irrelevant, but the papers (mostly available from do at least address the perpetual motion issue.

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