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Comment Re:Has HD tech hit the ceiling ? (Score 1) 160

The technology of HDDs has hit the ceiling a couple of times - the last get out was 'Giant Magneto Resistance' or GMR, which permitted drive heads to read smaller magnetised regions reliably. As the size of the data element gets smaller it gets more and more difficult to read it, but we still have a little way before we hit quantum effects that will make it impossible to work out whether we're looking at a 1 or a 0...

More on reducing sizes at Evolutionary nanotechnology.

Comment Re:Just stop cross-site cookies, that would be eno (Score 1) 290

It ought not to be possible to post cross-site cookies, though with many sites adverts and other content is displayed in frames, so it is not clear what site you are actually on... Perhaps it shouldnt't be possible to download framed content from a different root URL in the one browser window? (Browser developers - does this make sense?)

Comment Re:Aaaargh! Welcome to pop-up hell, or just hell.. (Score 1) 290

As far as I can see the purpose of the legislation is to prevent targetted advertising, though if you have a real heap of information on people I guess you could try to profile them in more detail. This isn't something that most websites can do effectively in isolation, as we simply don't have the market coverage to track what people are doing outside of the 20 seconds or so most visitors spend on the site (short of downloading your browser history - NOTE update your browser!). It is more of an option for big online retailers, like Amazon, though I honestly don't object to them suggesting products on the basis of what I've looked at already - I guess there is a trust relationship there which I find adds to the browsing/shopping experience.

In the UK the big stink came with the Phorm contract with BT, one of our main ISP's, but this is a very different technology to what we as web developers usually have access to, and I don't believe it was cookie based...

In fact the only people I know of at the moment who track you (me and everyone else) like a hawk are the Search Engines. They do do it to offer you targeted searches, which are pretty annoying if you are logged in as they can give you a seriously distorted view of the web (why is that little site you have just created at the head of the Google rankings? - Oh bugger, logout and look again!), but even if you are not logged in they will set regional preferences for your search, though clearly they use IP tracking rather than cookies.

To get a similar level of intelligence to that in the possession of the likes of Google, large numbers of websites would have to pool information, and if you are talking about this level of integrated development, then you would be using IP tracking as well, and not cookies, which are site specific (again make sure your browser is up-to-date!).

Now, just perhaps there is a business model for world domination here...

Comment Aaaargh! Welcome to pop-up hell, or just hell... (Score 1) 290

This legislation, which is close to being enacted, has avoided publicity to date. I can see why people might want it, though I think it would be better sorted by a browser fix (you can switch off cookies right?). From the point of view of smaller websites, having to specifically ask every time you want to issue a cookie is a nightmare - presumably we do this thorough a pop-up? (pop-up blocked anyone?)

The IP record fix looks like a way to avoid this, though paradoxically it results in our having to record more specific data about visitors, logging IP addresses and browser details in a database, and trying to match them up to each HTTP request to ensure that the visitor gets the service the site is intended to provide. Previously we haven't bothered recording any of this data - the cookie was between you and the temp folder on the server...

Sorry, but this is a crap bit of legislation...

Comment Free the scientific press! (Score 1) 62

The importance of the PLoS is that the content is freely available. This is invaluable for anyone interested in trying to understand scientific advances, but not interested, or not able, to pay $30+ per article. The PLoS means that I can review complete text articles with supporting documents, rather than rely on press releases for information. This means I can write a better review ( - focussed on marine science), which I hope makes for better public understanding and access, and a higher profile for the scientists publishing there. I hope PLoS will result in 'open source science', and am happy to do my bit in promoting it whenever I can!

Comment No guaranteed payout... (Score 2) 416

I don't see Android winning here, just as I don't see Linux 'winning' against OSX or Windows. Apple offers a business model with apps and iTunes that provides a way for independent developers to sell stuff, whilst offering punters a 'safe' platform with easy access to everything developers/musicians etc. can think to offer them... This is a pretty potent marketing combination.

In terms of it being a closed environment - I think the loss of Flash support is a real pain in the arse, but this doesn't appear to be a deal breaker for a lot of people. Even on Slashdot (where you might expect folk to be more pro open environments then the general population). There aren't too many 'alternatives' to HTML5 about guys...

Comment What's the fuss? (Score 1) 172

When you're dead you're dead. I don't have a problem with my bones being dug out by hungry/idle badgers, and I quite like the idea of being taken home by kiddies to meet mum and dad - its good to think I would continue being of educational value, rather than just a bit more pollution.

Comment Label them electronically? (there is space inside) (Score 2, Interesting) 485

I don't find physical devices too hard to keep track of, but which slot are they attached to on the workstation? I find it easier to keep track if I add an Autorun.inf file and an icon (image.ico) to the root directory of the card or stick or whatever. I have never had problems with these files in the desitination device (camera, Mac, Zaurus etc.) but they make handling stuff on the PC which has a lot of attached devices a lot easier. You can iconise pictures with Irfanview - a 16x16 pixel block is all you need, and I guess anything distinctive will do (but I like to make 'em pretty!). The text in your Autorun.inf should look something like: [autorun] icon=image.ico label=Corsair stick (4GB) - you can add your name to the label if that helps sort out ownership.

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