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Comment Unsurprising (Score 1) 38

Patents have become another "must-have" item in a scientists resume. It presumably shows you're able to create practical applications from otherwise abstract research results.

In practice, of course, you can patent pretty much anything you want if you put your mind to it, and the vast majority of granted patents are never implemented in an actual product and never make any money at all. So researchers just jump through another set of hoops to pad their CV with, usually, a completely worthless patent or two.

The researcher is happy since they got another item on their career-critical CV. The university is happy since granted patents counts toward university rankings. The granting agencies are happy since it shows their research grants are producing tangible results. Too bad the actual end result - the patent - is utterly worthless.

Comment Re:Salesforce isn't just sales (Score 1) 73

it's a complete WYSIWYG application platform that can build complex business apps without code ("Clicks not Code" in SF parlance). It's basically Visual Basic 6 for the web.

Thank you. I've been trying to figure out what SalesForce actually is for months. This is the most complete, intelligible description I've seen anywhere.

Comment Re:Easy to defeat... (Score 1) 62

Incorporate software in the drones to keep them at 0.7miles and above, while still doing what they need to do.

To put this in perspective, that's just over 1km high, which is over twice the height of the Empire State Building, and comfortably above the 830m height of the world's current tallest building, the Burj Kalifa.

Even if you've got a drone that has that sort of range- which is going to be at the upper limit or beyond most consumer drones at present anyway- you're not going to get close enough to view anything of note in worthwhile detail in the vast majority of situations.

Comment Re:Relax... (Score 1) 187

Nah, by now the foreign countries realize [etc]

"By now"? Everything- and I do mean absolutely everything- you said above should have been obvious to any individual paying the remotest bit of attention long *before* he was elected.

The only "surprise" is that he didn't fulfil the (much) more-in-hope-than-expectation belief some people had that this might not be the case when he became president. That- contrary to the evidence- someone who had made it through his entire life to the age of 70 while still acting like a spoilt 8-year-old bully, who was clearly unsuited to the position (and who probably hadn't expected to get as far as he did when he first announced he was running) might suddenly grow out of all that. Yeah, right.

I don't know whether he's too "dim" in the conventional sense to know whether he's being played, or- more likely- it's down to his pathological narcissism. It was obvious long before the election that his behaviour towards anyone was a directly tied to how much flattery was applied. He'd roll over and let anyone who transparently flattered him tickle his belly (e.g. the Putin lovefest), while anyone remotely critical (e.g. fellow Americans) was attacked with the lowest and cheapest insults. It's also obvious that someone so susceptible to manipulation in a position of power is a threat to world security.

Comment Re:Do me a favour (Score 1) 135

Spez (reddit co-founder and CEO) commented on Digg recently. Digg's 'upgrade' to a tile format alienated the entire user base. It was the best thing that happened to Reddit.

Interesting; sounds like I got that one about right then..!

Can't judge Digg's 2010 redesign personally- I'd long stopped using it by then, and AFAICT it's been redesigned (again) from scratch since- but it does sound like they were one of the first sites to go with the tiled interface that became so common in the following years. Which makes it ironic if it drove many of its users to Reddit, since that's been criticised for a (supposedly) confusing and unforgiving text interface that at first glance looks more like Digg did originally. (Albeit with nesting which- IIRC- Digg's lack of annoyed me).

That said, Reddit nowadays is probably even more important than Digg was. What I find interesting about Digg is how completely a site that was once genuinely quite significant (#) has disappeared. I mean, MySpace is the archetypal "fallen from grace" social media website... but people still remember it as that. Digg isn't just all but dead today, its existence has been very quickly- and almost completely- forgotten, which is in some ways an even bigger fall.

(#) Unlike, say, Second Life which a lot of media types obsessed over out of proportion to its actual usage... at least until it became clear that it wasn't- and never would be- anything more than a niche site for oddballs while everyone else was getting into Twitter and Facebook.

Comment Re:False assumption (Score 3, Insightful) 202

The point is, getting around encryption is too costly to do it on a mass scale, so they can only really do it for the small portion of targets judged worth it.

It's like with door locks. Your door lock is good at stopping casual probing, but pretty much useless against a determined attacker. If a government agency (any government) decides that they really need to enter your home then they will enter. It may be with a warrant, with an armoured bulldozer or with a covert penetration team. But it's much too costly and much too risky to do so unless you have really good reason. They can't do it for every house in the city, on the off chance somebody might have something interesting stashed away somewhere.

Same thing with crypto: it may not stop them if they decide you are a high-value target. But it stops mass surveillance dragnets in their tracks.

Comment Re:Do me a favour (Score 3, Insightful) 135

I remember back when reddit was supposed to be the "new slashdot."

Are you sure it was Reddit they were talking about? From what I remember- and commented on in this post from 2008 (i.e. when this was still recent history)- it was Digg that was getting all the hype and being spoken of as- essentially- an improved, next-generation Slashdot.

Digg's disastrous and rapid decline into near complete irrelevance several years back (#) have pushed it off the radar to such an extent it's easy to forget it existed at all, let alone the fact that it enjoyed several years of major popularity and had been a poster boy for "Web 2.0" in its early days.

Having checked its Wikipedia article, Reddit has been around almost as long as Digg (mid-2005 vs. late-2004). That doesn't surprise me that much- if I think about it, it's a site I'd been vaguely aware of for quite a long time. But it definitely seems that its current level of prominence is only something that's been attained in the past few years (i.e. post-Digg)- which would tie in with what I'd heard, that a lot of former Digg users moved to Reddit.

Anyway, this isn't a defence of Digg, just an attempt to ensure it's not inadvertently written out of history- for good or for bad.

As my linked post above makes clear, even in its early days I grew quickly disillusioned and watched it go downhill before my very eyes. And in hindsight, Digg- or its users- were some of the first to really highlight what would become many of the negative aspects of social media unleashed on the public at large that we know today. Such as the (then-hyped) "wisdom of crowds" descending into mob mentality, attention grabbing stories, manipulation and suppression, etc.

Digg arrived around the time the Internet was moving away from being seen as something for geeks and esoteric types, even past its late-90s/early-00s "cool kids" fad-dom and was becoming something that pretty much everyone used. If it was ever meant to be something akin to "Slashdot on steroids"- and I'm not sure that it was- it quickly way beyond that into a much larger and more general-interest audience with discussions and submissions covering much wider fields of interest; basically a forerunner of where Reddit is today. By the time it over-confidently misjudged its footing and went careering over the cliff edge, Digg was- AFAICT- far, far larger than Slashdot had ever been.

It's possible that when it originally launched in 2005 that Reddit might have been compared to Slashdot- or equally possible that you're back-projecting its latter success onto what people said about Digg! However, by the time Reddit (essentially) took over from Digg a few years back, both had gone far enough beyond Slashdot in terms of scale and audience that it didn't make sense to compare them.

That's not a criticism of Slashdot; it's a specialist, geek-oriented site, and always was. That was just less obvious in the days when most people on the Internet *were* geek types. I don't know what its traffic's like these days, but if it seems less prominent than it used to be, that's as likely because what was once a fairly tall building in the days when the Internet was geeky remains the same size, but is now dwarfed by skyscrapers surrounding it, i.e. sites used by the type of people (i.e. the vast majority of the public) who weren't on the Internet 20 years ago!

(#) Apparently precipitated by a major and disastrous redesign circa 2010, on top of growing competition from other sites and social media

Comment Data transfer cost (Score 1) 74

One limitation of "the cloud" (also called "other peoples' servers") for many HPC applications is the data transfer costs. Transfering data in is cheap or free, but getting your data out again is anything but. Even if the cpu-hours would be cheap enough, it's usually cost-prohibitive to transfer a few tens of gigabytes of results out of the server and back home for each job.

Comment Re:Dead Pixel normal in 2017 (Score 1) 241

This is something I keep bringing up when people start comparing "ripoff Britain" prices with those in the US.

Firstly, people always forget that sales tax (i.e. the US counterpart to VAT) isn't routinely included in prices there, not least because it varies from state to state anyway AFAICT.

But yeah, there's also the fact that sellers in the US can get away with ridiculousness that wouldn't be allowed in the UK. Like- IIRC- 90 day typical warranty on some consoles like the PlayStation (I forget which generation that was), and I've even heard of some new laptops coming with a 30 day warranty.

At present, UK and EU regulations would likely see any attempt at something like that. (Contrary to what some people think, EU regulations *don't* give you an automatic six year warranty, but as far as I'm aware, for something it would be reasonable to expect to last *far* longer than 30 days, they wouldn't get away with that. IANAL, YMMV).

We'll see how long that lasts after the UK is dragged out of the EU by the same hard right Tory and UKIP sympathisers that want a trade deal with the US- one in which you know the larger US will be in a position to dictate the terms such as "harmonisation" with their godawful consumer standards- something I don't expect the aforementioned mock-Little Englanders to resist since they're mostly in favour of a low-rent, race-to-the-bottom free market economy anyway (#)- but that's another kettle of fish.

(#) You actually believed that "£350m extra for the NHS" claim from the same party- UKIP- whose members have openly opposed the NHS in the past? The same claim that UKIP themselves stopped pretending was anything other than BS as soon as they'd won the vote? You utter gullible f***wits.

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