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Comment This is new?? (Score 1) 199

I don't have a CS degree, and few than 50% of people my age (mid 40s) in the industry do (in the UK). Few of the most technically impressive senior people I've met had CS degrees, and only about half of them had technical degrees.

When I hire developers, I don't require ANY degree, much less a CS degree. What I require is the ability to write software.

Comment Re: criminal conspiracies should be considered a h (Score 1) 360

The difference is of law rather than rights.

You have a right to privacy, but it's not absolute. If you are suspected of a crime with reasonable evidence, a search warrant can be obtained to breach your privacy - namely entering your house and looking at all your stuff. If, on entering your house the police find a locked cellar door, they can ask you to hand of the the key. It's not good refusing to hand over the key on the grounds that it's a breach of your privacy.

Now, suppose the police find out you have a safe deposit box at a bank. They can also approach the bank and politely request entry to your safe deposit box, and with the appropriate warrants, the bank will happily open it up.

All of this is quite legal in most countries. In many cases, law enforcement is simply asking to extend this capability to encrypted data, rather than locked rooms and boxes. I have no objection with this, although there are technical issues with it.

Another wholly separate issue is the desire of authorities to decrypt and read communications of people who aren't suspects and haven't been arrested, using much lower barriers than are required for search warrants.This is much more worrying, and rather like saying that everyone should have a new kind of government approved lock on their front door allowing police to walk into any house if they feel they have the need.

It's important to keep these things separate. I have no problem at all with the UK police reading all of Mr Masood's whatsapp messages, any more than I have a problem with them searching his flat and going through his diaries and his sock draw.

What I do have, is a problem with UK police saying that because they want to do this, whatsapp must design a generally available backdoor.

Unlike safe deposit boxes, which can be broken into even if the suspect destroys the only key in existence, encrypted messages often can't be read if the only key in existence is destroyed. That's a technical problem, and it's not the job of private companies to solve the police's technical problems.

Comment Re:You wrote that? Here? (Score 1) 419

But from my view still using windows with your knowledge either makes you gullible, or a tool

All my professional life I've been baffled by this attitude. I've used Linux, SunOS/Solaris, Irix, AIX, Windows from 2.0 to 10, OS/2, VMS, MS-DOS, MacOS, OSX, and a few of the built-in "operating systems" on the old 8-bit home computers.

They all have strengths and weaknesses. VMS was an extraordinary far-sighted OS, that failed commercially for good reasons. Some of it survives in Windows, via the OS/2 NT developments.

I use Windows 10 at work and at home. It does what I want from a computer, which these days isn't much. I find Windows annoying as a server platform, but then I never really learned by way round it as a server platform. I find Linux tedious as a desktop platform, and while I ran it as one back in the day, I'm no longer familiar with modern distros. They might be great. So what? I couldn't care less that MS is trying to shift everyone onto a single auto-updating OS. That is clearly the direction of travel of consumer computing. Phone apps auto update constantly, in fact people whine that Android often doesn't.

The large, complex, CRM system my company users has compulsory releases every 6 months, something that would have been quite laughable 15 years ago.

In 15 years we'll have auto-updating OSes on the server side - and not just MS doing it, either.

Comment Re: processor line-up (Score 3, Interesting) 173

Indeed. The Intel 486dx 66Mhz (early 1990s) was simply a 486dx 100Mhz that had failed a QA test at that speed and was re-tested at 66Mhz and then sold if it passed.

It's an efficient way to deal with inherent fragilities of manufacturing at the limits of technology.

That said, market segmentation whereby you make one product and sell disabled versions of it at different price points has been going on even longer. The economies of scale make it cheaper to do this than to make physically different products for each segment. VCRs in the 80s and 90s were made like this, such that they all had the same internals, and the difference in models was achieved in external styling and what buttons were made available, and what firmware was installed.

Comment Re:Just build hydrostatic batteries (water towers) (Score 1) 142

Pumped storage is great, but requires specific geological conditions to make it worth building. It also takes up a lot of space. I have no idea if Hawaii is suitable for pumped storage - it may well be - but there are often environmental issues (as it destroys a lot of land), and construction costs tend to be very large.

Comment Re: I'm not surprised. (Score 0) 917

Which are alleged to exist but nothing, not even a redacted screen shot, was provided

Yes, if it's not provided, it doesn't exist. Remember that. I've never seen the negatives from the moon landing photos. Oh sure, journalists *tell* me they exist, but so what. I've never seen the *hard* evidence.

Same with Apple having an HQ in California. I've never been there. I've never met anyone who has. I've seen photos of some buildings, but they could have been anywhere.

Thing is, you're focussing on this specific case. You need to see the bigger picture. The Internet is digital, so anything on it can be trivially faked. If it's not something you want to believe, you have NO MORAL REASON TO BELIEVE IT. The Internet provides such poor evidence for anything, you can pretty much ignore it. In fact, I strongly suggest you ignore the entire Internet from now on. Please. It would really help us both.

Comment Re:care less (Score 3, Interesting) 191

it dethrones the idea that poker is the last bastion of human dominance in cognition

I think that idea was dethroned when Bill "The Bluff" Higgins got a train to Boston in 1872 with his pockets full of winnings, and strode into Harvard saying "Gentleman, the finest minds in the world have recently met in the back room of McKluskey's Hotel, and held a competition of arithmetic, stoney faces and drinking, to determine a winner. And I am that winner. Your work, professors, is needed no more. A dominant mind has been chosen."

Seriously, what makes poker attractive as a benchmark of AI is that it is essentially simple (like chess, go and most other card or board games), but contains a very small element of modest complexity (bluffing).

Compare that to a game like Pictionary. Pictionary is vastly, vastly more complex than poker. When two computers with cameras and screens can beat a pair of humans at pictionary, I'll be impressed.

Comment Re:It's about landmass (Score 1) 468

We used to use re-chargable vehicles all the time. They were called horses. After a certain distance, they needed quite a long time to re-fuel and rest.

The solution was to swap the discharged horses out for new ones. This would also work well for electric vehicles. If cars are very easy to rent, there's no need to own a specific one, so once it's flat, plug it in and pick another.

Car ownership is dropping in Europe as it becomes cheaper and more convenient to rent. Rent a big car for the family holiday, and then a small one for a day trip, and then a van for moving furniture. Much more convenient than having to use the same vehicle for everything. Getting a train 90% of the way and easily renting a car for the last 10 miles is a nicer journey than driving all the way. Now, an electric car is fine for ten miles, while it wouldn't have managed the whole journey.

It's not about making electric cars behave just like the petrol ones we are used to. It's about changing how we transport ourselves around.

Comment Re:The earth is (Score 1) 436

People believe in the common good. It's just a question of who has anything in common with them.

The whole reason humans form communities is the common good. It's easier to all build a well than each person build their own. It's easier to share a plow team than everyone have oxen they use one week a year.

As life has become safer, the need for common good has reduced. It's still a good way to reduce risks, but our risks are so low now, we tend not to worry about it.

Comment Re:No. (Score 3, Funny) 449

640x480?! That's just a bigger version of 320x280, and I started out with a lot less than 320x280, I can tell you. Bloody kids, next thing they'll be wanting more than 4 bits of colour information in each pixel.

As for VRML, I often use it as an example of why 'open standards' are far from a panacea. It's a truly dreadful standard, created in academia before there were either competing implementations of the problem, or even much of a problem, that actively held back VR and web 3d stuff generally for years. Also a useful example of "worse is better".

Comment Re:Can't wait to get one in my watch. (Score 2) 156

I have a watch from the 1940s that's still giving out plenty of radiation. Sadly, the phosphor is all used up so it doesn't glow at all.

Early glow in the dark paints used a mixture of radium and phosphor. The decay from the radium would excite the phosphor and make it glow. Unfortunately it also broke down the phosphor, so while radium lasts for centuries, the paint doesn't.

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In less than a century, computers will be making substantial progress on ... the overriding problem of war and peace. -- James Slagle