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Comment Re:Outsourcing vs Inhouse (Score 1) 217

And the constant repeating of completely bone-headed decisions that weren't right 10 years ago and aren't right now (T&M versus fixed price - I'm looking at you ;-)

The old adage: "you can't outsource a problem" springs to mind. For people to actually 'get it' though, they have to understand what their problem is. It's almost never the individual techies that do the grunt work.

This is a shame for Nasa though - they ought to be a major force in all things to do with space, and shouldn't be in the news for having crappy IT.

Comment Re:Nah (Score 1) 171

The wording on that was misleading enough I had to go check - the quote you made is indeed from official blurb. I'm wondering how 5 adults and 2 children can fit in that car!? I mean, do the kids have to sit in the boot? When I was a kid we occasionally had to sit in the boot for a quick trip to the park with half a dozen of our friends, but these days I doubt it's even legal (and certainly not something claimed by the car manufacturers).

The pictures of the model S have two seats at the front. There aren't many pictures to go on, but I assume a three-person bench seat in the middle and luggage space at the back. I can see how 5 adults can get in there, but not sure about the kids. Anyone know?

I have to say though, a ~300 mile range is really pretty good - not far off our conventional car. Interesting stuff - now they just need to get the cost down and we'll buy one ;-)

Comment Using Serialised Data as a Config File (Score 1) 671

When you can't be arsed to write a config file parser and you decide to just use a blob of serialised data as your config, you're making a mess for everyone who uses your software. That said, lots of people seem to be doing it. My pet gripe at the moment is RabbitMQ, but there are plenty of others (sendmail definitely, nginx maybe).

Comment Re:Um, no. (Score 1) 187

That's a good point - there's actually an environmental benefit to shorter copyright terms on designs (not so easily argued on paper works).

I wonder if our European cousins have anything to say about all of this. They recently enacted laws to save us Brits 27 pounds each per year, so would appear to be in the financial territory for new desks as well. They might have a final flick of their tail before we serve notice on them.

On balance though, fixing your own desk isn't really an issue (even if in theory it is). Making the design for the failed part available will be (which I'd say is the real loss here), as indeed will making replacement parts for other people. Stuff for your own consumption is likely to be allowed if you went to court, but anything else now won't be. However, I'm left wondering if making the replacement part slightly differently from the original might be sufficient to side-step the whole thing (that's a legal gamble I'd prefer not to have to take though).

Comment Re:Yes, because it would be (Score 1) 213

Actually, I have a 'smart' thermostat. I asked a bunch of companies what would happen to their device if their servers stopped working. Nest does almost nothing without the 'cloud'. Hive (via British Gas) never gave me a straight answer. I asked repeatedly, but all they'd say is that I needn't worry, they're not going anywhere and so the servers would always be there. AFAIK, it turns into an ordinary bi-metalic strip type thermostat if there's no cloud.

I ended up with a Heat Genius system because it carries on working (albeit without remote access). It's got a 'cloud' connection, but it's optional. I can either use uPNP, or else I have to open up firewall ports to let the cloud (and support) in. If I don't do so, then it all just works LAN-only.

The system is a hub (with a raspberry pi in it, I believe), and some z-wave radiator valves, UFH valve switches and a few other bits. In theory they're all hackable, although I seriously doubt you could do much that way - the comms between hub and device isn't really up to it. If the actual hub box got p0wned, it'd be a pain in the arse (about £200 to replace, although I'd probably argue enough to get one for free). In the interim period, it's possible to turn it off and let each of the radiator valves work manually (they have some little buttons that set the target temperature). I don't think our underfloor would work at all though.

So... why bother with any of this? Well, when it's working properly, it's actually very good at controlling the temperature in the house. It uses some fancy logic to just about heat the room to the target temperature without over-shooting it. It also maintains temperature very well. My memory of physics suggests this should be cheaper to run than more traditional setups (although I don't have any decent facts either way). If I'm honest, it's got quite a few rough edges, and some annoying bugs. Having said that, I can't fault their support, so getting to the bottom of what's going on pretty quickly.

Comment Re:Can't say I agree (Score 1) 637

The amount of personal investment you have in a twitter account is very low. As such, being banned isn't a big deal - just create a new account and go be a dick all over again.

Contrast this to (say) Facebook or Linkedin. There, your network is why you have the account. If you account gets blocked, you've somehow go to re-establish your network. Your close friends are probably easy enough, but those arms-length people that might be useful one day probably won't bother to re-connect with you. As such, losing your FB/Linked in account is a greater loss than on twitter.

If twitter can build in some features that make your account personally valuable (and a new account less valuable), then they might find a way around the problem they face far more than any other 'social network'. I'm no expert, but nothing I can think of fits in with the 'free speech' thing Twitter is all about. Hopefully for them, they've got some better brains than mine on the case.

Comment Re:Good thing you have a choice (Score 1) 537

Interesting... Here in the UK, a lot of rapid-build places (like multi-storey apartment blocks and the like) are being clad in an outer layer of something weatherproof, behind that goes a thick layer of solid insulation (like Kingspan, Celotex etc) which has a sort of foil layer on both sides (to stop moisture condensing in the insulation). It's not all electrically connected, nor earthed, but it massively impedes radio (to the point that your old FM radio probably won't work very well in such places, unless near a window). Phones work to some extent, but only so long as you're near a cell tower and you have a reasonably decent phone (given most are built in high-density areas, it's likely both will be true).

So... given that Canada is (in many places) colder than the UK, what are you doing for insulation?

Comment Re:Shielding, jamming (Score 3, Informative) 385

Indeed - all that fraud just gets passed on to the vendor/retailer. Unfortunately, those retailers have absolutely no way to measure the 'fraudiness' of a card transaction, so can't decide to decline something on their own - they have to ask the Bank to make that choice for them. When the bank makes the wrong choice, the retailer pays.

In the UK we have some (relatively new) financial industry rules that include 'treating the customer fairly'. I wonder how long it will be before some credit card banks get held to account on that basis, but until then, banks control everything and pay for nothing.

Comment Re:Since neither is getting elected (Score 1) 264

Please rank the candidates from 1 to 10 (10 being the best):

Fred -> 1
Jim -> 1
Bob -> 1
None of the above -> 10

I'd love to see that. Here in the UK we talked about proportional representation, but it got rejected (maybe because of a terrible PR campaign by the politicians). The argument against it is that you then have a house where nothing gets done. FPTP means someone's got a majority, and so (in theory) can whip their members to vote a certain way to get things done.

I guess part of the problem is you can't vote to "sort of go to war" - you're either in or out, thus a 'binary' house actually lends itself quite well to that sort of decision making. If we could have proposed legislation that was something like "put up taxes for the rich by X%, where "X" was decided by the collective of the house, then proportional representation (in whatever form it takes) would work considerably better.

Comment Re:So the small claims court then? (Score 1) 103

There's nothing here to say it has to be 'online' as in you sitting on your sofa at home in yesterdays underpants. Given the authentication required, it could still be you have to physically go somewhere (perhaps not the local court buildings though, maybe a post office or somewhere) and sit in a booth an have a video conference (presumably after showing someone some ID or something). A far lower standard to meet than currently, but still more than nothing.

Honestly, I can't see why such a system would be bad. Any slack time in the judiciary means they can sit on court cases quickly anywhere in the country without traveling, and you and I get to claim things that should be claimed without undue fear of any costs involved. As much as I sympathise with the idea that the best outcome is the the defendant to fail to turn up, or to turn up under-prepared, but if that's the crux of your case, then perhaps it needs some looking it.

Comment Re:The Republicans want to make everyone work (Score 1) 1145

Hmm... let's say there's an overproduction of apples right now. In an ideal world, we'd all receive an apple or two for free each week until the surplus was gone.

However, it's hard to electronically transfer apples, so we use money instead. It means that apple-addicts can buy extra apples, and fruit-haters can buy nuts instead. Thus, people have a choice, the trade-off being that it doesn't guarantee the redistribution of apples (and so is inefficient).

I'm okay with saying I have no imagination though, so I'm sure there are better ideas that apparently the politicians haven't been told about yet.

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