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Comment Re:well... (Score 1) 147

Using a dictionary and 2-3-4-5 word phrases is much more useful.

If you really must, use "Correct%Horse$Battery#Staple" and just put "%$#" on the post-it stuck to your keyboard - but XKCD is basically correct - we're telling people to use Pa55w0rdZ that are easy for machines to crack and difficult for humans to remember (and generate).

Can't passwords just die? When you only had a couple of passwords and "fludbunk37" was sufficiently strong they were fine, but now I've got dozens of passwords like "UoFytNd7vB9qqK". Now- since I'm completely reliant on my computer to remember my passwords - why, when I create an account, can't I just paste in a public key and subsequently log in via challenge/response like I can do with SSH?

Comment Ob HHGTTG: (Score 1) 254

For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much — the wheel, New York, wars and so on — whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man — for precisely the same reasons.

Douglas Adams - the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Comment Re:Probably a website. (Score 1) 133

Perhaps a nice interactive science website with VR would be a better way to spend the money

Or if it is going to be a physical museum, then the majority of exhibits need to justify their not being on a web page. That means really hands on, tactile exhibits designed to give an experience that you can't do online.

And... "history of computing"? I don't think kids are going to be interested in the nostalgia of their parents' generation and coo over cases of Apple IIs and C64s, or queue up to play genuine Pong the way middle-aged nerds do.

Here's a silly, possibly off-topic suggestion that probably wont't survive 5 minutes further thought: have you seen those ads for "Build-a-bear workshop" where sprogs construct their own soft toys? How about "build a PC workshop" for older kids - parent pays $x (seriously - tot up the cost of a visit to a theme park or the median Xmas present bill) and kid gets guided through the process of assembling their own PC from a selection of whatever cheap/surplus/reclaimed parts the budget will cover (or, if you're an incurable capitalist, premium parts at extra cost) - maybe 3D-prints some custom bling for the case (3D printing a whole case would probably take too long & be too expensive) & chooses & installs an OS & software (open-source, of course) & proudly carries the result home.

Comment For a more critical take... (Score 1) 212

For a slightly more critical take on this than the Torygraph, there's an article in The Register that actually digs in to the subject a bit and has dug out the actual government report (which is pretty silly but doesn't quite seem to involve fleets of detector vans randomly snooping on WiFi at random).

NB: This is all because of the "iPlayer loophole" - people have been able to watch catch-up TV on iPlayer without a license and, while technically you're meant to have a license to use the Live Streaming features of iPlayer its pretty unenforceable. They're trying to have a crackdown to appease anti-BBC astroturfers and you're now going to need a TV license to use iPlayer (oh, the injustice!) If you wonder why iPlayer doesn't simply ask for a name, address and TV license number, or require a user account, then you're a very silly person who is trying to apply logic and rationality to politics.

Personally, I assume that they're going to record people's WiFi and sneak the results into the SETI@Home work queue to examine for signs of intelligent life. So, you're OK unless you're watching BBC4 :-)

Comment If its real - its theatre. (Score 1) 212

It's going to cost more to field these specially-equipped detector vans and the crews to operate them than they will EVER receive back in license fees.

You didn't get the memo: the point of the detector vans was always to make people believe that there are detector vans and that they'll get caught if they watch TV without a license. The real enforcement was always done by comparing the list of people who have bought TV receivers with the list of addresses of TV license holders, or knocking on doors or sending nasty letters and hoping they'd confess. Its widely suspected that the old detector vans were either fake or ineffective, but even if they were genuine (the theory was vaguely plausible, with old-style TV sets) I doubt the "business plan" was ever to have enough vans roaming the country to directly catch significant numbers of offenders.

Comment Re:call an ambulance (Score 1) 153

That's sounds funny when you say it, with the big gap in your front teeth.

Funny how people always bring up the Big Book of British Smiles thing when the free healthcare issue comes up: guess which part of the British health service slipped through the nationalisation gap and isn't universally free at the point of delivery? OTOH that means we only traumatise self-conscious teenagers by making them wear mediaeval torture devices in their mouths if there's a serious danger of them biting their own noses - not just so they can grow up with a mouthfull of ivory tombstones.

Meanwhile... crooked teeth vs. being so worried about the cost of an ambulance that I tried to drive to the hospital while having a heart attack. Let me think...

Comment Re:Disingenuous article - so, so wrong. (Score 1) 472

2 years behind is a fair criticism of Apple Macbooks.

...but the article didn't say 2 years behind. It specifically said "4 year old computers" and cherry-picked one obsolescent model that Apple have apparently retained for customers with legacy needs. That's dishonest and marks the difference between fair criticism and trolling.

The Dell 13 and 15 were available with Skylake a year ago for under $700 and $1000 or fully loaded with quad-core Skylake and NVIDIA 960 for $1700.

You do understand that "skylake" is a whole range of processors with different numbers of cores, different power consumptions and different grades of integrated graphics? And that those permutations have been trickling out gradually over the last year? Do you get that "upgrading" an old model Broadwell/Haswell processor with 28W TDP and premium Intel "Iris" graphics (as used in the Retina MacBook Pros) to a "Skylake" processor with only 15W TDP and lower-model intel "HD" graphics (as found in the cheaper Dells you mention) might not be a guaranteed win? You do realise that the 1920x1080 displays in the $700/$1000 Dells you quote aren't in the same league as the 2560x1600 (13") and 2880x1800 (15") displays in the MacBook Pros - and that the more comparable QHD Dells cost a lot more?

Now, the Dell XPS 13 is certainly a serious rival to the MacBook Air (which even Apple fans acknowledge is probably on the way out). Also, there are XPS 13 and XPS 15 models with QHD displays and Iris/Iris Pro graphics but (a) they have prices in the $1600-$2000-beyond range putting them firmly in the Retina MacBook Pro ballpark and (b) those configurations certainly haven't been available since last year (announced maybe - not available).

Pretty sure the XPS 13 with the i7-6560U & "Iris" graphics (which does sound like a serious 13" MacBook Pro contender) only appeared in the last month or two - the Intel Ark site is still showing that processor as "Announced" rather than "Launched" - and it costs $1600 for 8GB/256GB SSD/QHD display - vs. $1800 for the comparable MacBook (but that includes $300 for the bump from i5 to i7 which is probably a waste of cash for U-series processors).

Sure - $1800 vs $1600 & USB-C/TB3 still sounds like a win for Dell - so why make stupid comparisons between Macs with $700 Dells that aren't remotely comparable?

Comment Some fact checking needed here... (Score 2) 472

It's been a while since Apple upgraded its MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and Mac Pro models. Four years, one month, and twenty-four days, to be exact, in case of the MacBook Pro.

Way to go with the half-truths.

The obsolete 2012 Macbook Pro is indeed still on Apple's books -but Its long been banished from the main MacBook Pro page on Apple's website and tucked away at the bottom of the "Buy" page. Presumably because some big customers still want a spinning rust hard drive and an optical drive. Nobody who has done 5 minutes of research would buy one unless that's what they wanted.

Meanwhile the flagship Retina Macbook Pro range got new processors and unique haptic touchpads just over a year ago, and the (probably to be discontinued) MacBook Air got a minor bump this spring. The MacBook got Skylake in the spring and the 27" iMac got Skylake last November.

Now, Apple do have a problem - 15-month old computers still aren't sexy - but its partly due to Intel's woes with the various configurations of Skylake chips which have been trickling out gradually over the last year. E.g. the 15" Retina Macbook Pro really needs the i7-6x70HQ chips with Iris Pro which weren't launched until Q1 this year, the i7 version of the 13" rMBP needs the i7-6567U which, according to Intels ARK site, hasn't been launched yet. The architectural speed-up with Skylake isn't that huge, so using a chip with lower TDP or inferior GPU just for the sake of "Skylake" can easily end up as a downgrade.

Dell, HP et. al. have a million models and are happy to build systems around whatever chips are available today - they have some pretty tempting MacBook-killers but you do have to look carefully at the power rating & GPU of the processor before declaring a winner. Meanwhile, Intel have started the hype for Kaby Lake before finishing the Skylake range - its possible that Apple will wait for that, since it has Thunderbolt3 on-chip and Apple are presumably going to standardise on TB3.

Not completely defending Apple here - the Mac Pro is nearly 3 years old, the Mac Mini 2 years. Both of those were also affected by Intel delays but there ought to be something Apple could have done to maintain interest. Chances are, the Mac Pro (basically a dedicated Final Cut X machine and a waste of money if you don't run OpenCL software) just isn't selling. The Intel delays aren't exactly new and its within Apple's power to maybe design some new Macs around available chips. Unfortunately, Tim Cook has been doing a very good impression of someone more interested in watch straps than full-featured computers, so people are worried.

But, no, folks: the flagship Retina MacBook Pro is not starting kindergarten this year, and the rumor sites are flagging them "don't buy" because they're expecting new models by the end of the year.

Comment Re:Candidate found for Trump speechwriter (Score 1) 257

Is having food debris in your mouth and promoting infections a good thing or a bad thing?

Who knows? The only clear fact is that flossing removes gunk from your mouth.It's sure plausible that might prevent problems but that's not the same as "evidence".

The body is a complex system - there's loads of bacteria and waste in the human body that don't do any harm. Some of it does good. Sometimes, removing it can cause problems (e.g. stopping the signal that tells your body to deal with the problem itself). Heard the theory about germ-free environments during early childhood preventing the development of the immune system and leading to allergies/asthma?

Maybe toothpaste does a good enough job of killing bugs? Maybe using mouthwash would be more effective? Maybe spending time flossing makes people cut corners on brushing, or makes them more willing to eat sugary foods?

it only takes a couple of weeks to see objective evidence i.e. gum bleeding reduced or stopped, reduced inflammation and reduction in pocket size.

...only in a world where "objective" has been retconned to mean "anecdotal and unreliable". Most people's gums aren't inflamed and bleeding, so you're immediately dealing with a non-representative group who turn up at the dentist with an existing problem. Many people's bleeding gums are "one-offs" that will heal themselves in a few days, so there's a slew of false positives there. Others will see bleeding gums as a "wake-up-call", visit the dentist, and improve their diet and all-round brushing habits for at least a few weeks. None of this "evidence" is worth a dime when asking the question "should everybody floss?" - at best, you might decide that flossing helps people with existing infections. Sad fact is: getting solid evidence about complex systems is complex (and error-prone).

Just some perspective here though: nobody is suggesting that people shouldn't floss. All that's being challenged is the official advice that everybody must floss. Its best not to train people to ignore official advice by deluging them with unsubstantiated and burdonsome diktats.

Comment Candidate found for Trump speechwriter (Score 1) 257

And oh you didn't establish using a table saw leads to the presence of sawdust even though it is obvious

NB: Whoosh? A few years ago I'd have assumed this post was a joke, but the way the world is today its hard to be sure, so just in case...

If you'd never seen a table saw before, you'd have no reason to know that it produced sawdust. Fortunately, you just have to saw some wood to see the sawdust spurting out and bingo, you have evidence. Better still, that's reproducible evidence.

Obvious things are only obvious because the evidence is there for the asking.

Unfortunately, you can't watch someone floss their teeth and see the health benefits happening. You won't know for years - and the result could depend on a whole lot of other things like diet, brushing habits and general health. If you don't do some sort of research - which doesn't just have to be clinical trials, but does have to be rational, systematic and evidence-based - you have no way of knowing. You also have to consider that people who floss regularly might also have other good health and personal hygiene habits.

Of course, without research, you also have no idea whether flossing might even be harmful - its easy to come up with hypotheses that it could abrade the teeth, damage the gums, prevent "good" bacteria, damage fillings or make people feel better about eating sugary foods. Frankly, without research, those theories are just as good as the ones saying it is beneficial.

But then, we all know that doing something tedious and unpleasant must be good for us, because, well, its just obvious...

Comment Re:A car from the guy who brought us the Apple Wat (Score 1) 143

Since iPhones have a much larger market share than OSX devices your point is moot. But don't let that stop you from blabbing on about it. Or the fact that Apple has sold more iWatch products than all other smartwatches combined.

(a) iOS market share is around 30% c.f. 70% for Android - and these days, that Android figure includes a lot of high-end phones from Samsung et. al. Apple could probably double their target market by supporting Android. On what planet does that not make sense?

(b) Most of the competing smartwatches suffer the exact same drawbacks as the Apple Watch: high price, poor battery life, normally-off emissive display, too bulky/delicate/expensive for sport. The FitBit (not a full smartwatch - but nails the most compelling use case of smartwatches) outsells the Apple Watch by a factor of two.

Of course, the iPod, iPhone probably ended up selling more Macs... but they did that indirectly, by promoting the brand, despite being supported on PCs. If Apple think many Android users are going to by a Watch plus an iPhone to link to it - or even look at a Watch if it doesn't work with their phone - then they're holding it wrong.

Comment Re:A car from the guy who brought us the Apple Wat (Score 1) 143

I'm no fan of smart watches but is there really anything wrong with the Apple watch aside from the fact that the whole concept is a solution to a non-problem?

They're a great solution to the problem "I have spare money that I want to spend on an expensive, impractical gadget".

Main problems (shared with most high-end smartwatches):
1. Short battery life: Fail to put it on charge at night and its useless the next day, something that's most likely to happen when your routine is disrupted, e.g. by travel, which is just when you're most likely to need a smartwatch.
2. Normally off OLED display: strictly for people who don't remember why the LED digital watches of the 1970s were such an amazingly bad idea.
3. Obligatory XKCD reference. Seriously - this. I've got a phone with accurate time that can be in my hand in 2 seconds, one-handed. It's barely less convenient than a watch, especially a dumbwatch on which I either have to press a button, invoke Siri or strike a mail-order-catalog "I am now looking at my watch" pose to get the display to turn on.

Practical upshot: forget the "smart" bit - it doesn't even do the "watch" bit properly.

Main problem not shared with other smartwatches: it only works with iPhone. If you use an Android phone, don't bother. Anybody think the iPod would have been the success it was if His Jobsness had stuck with the original, Mac-only version? Or if the iPhone had required you to own a Mac?

The only smartwatch that appeals to me remotely is the Pebble range, because they have vaguely credible battery life and always-on reflective displays (but they look awful). Those seem like absolute, bare-minimum requirements for a smartwatch to me.

Comment Re:Apple's on the wrong road (Score 1) 143

...well, they had no experience or support structure in phones, either, yet managed to get the carriers dancing to their tune.

Also, their competitors here are going to be Tesla and (maybe) Google rather than GM or BMW.

Some big auto makers have already reduced development in EVs or have decided to market them in only certain markets.

Bit like Xerox in the 1980s not really trying to push GUIs, local area networking and desktop publishing because it didn't fit their ossified business model, then?

Even Tesla is finding out how difficult it is to make cars, and sell, service, and deal with liability and safety.

Odds are, Apple will have the car rolling off existing production lines in China, avoiding Tesla's production woes, and they have plenty of cash to set up infrastructure - you'd probably use existing independent repair shops for your service network. They have lots of lessons - good and bad - to follow from Tesla.

The liability issue is Telsa trying to run before they can walk with the "self driving" feature, a mistake that is easily avoided. Its not even clear yet whether the Apple car is going to be EV, self-driving, neither or both. Sensible thing with self-driving is to start with 'personal mass transit' schemes in business campuses, airports, theme parks etc. and work up.

Sure, the Apple Car is high risk, but the EV is in just the sort of state that the PC, MP3 player and Phone markets were in when Apple stepped in. Meanwhile, the PC and Mobile market is mature and saturated and won't be offering huge growth prospects any time soon - Apple may not have come up with any genius innovations in the last few years, but neither has anybody else.

Comment Re:Stop calling it "Autopilot" (Score 2) 297

The term "autopilot", as the majority has come acquainted with it, originates from the areoplane industry.

No, the term "autopilot", as the majority understand it means a device that pilots a plane automatically so the pilot can take their hands off the controls. They've seen it in films - documentaries even (I saw an A380 pilot filling in a checklist while his plane flew itself across the atlantic on TV just the other day). If you're lucky, they don't think it involves a humorous inflatable pilot dummy. Whether or not the pedantically correct aviation industry definition of "autopilot" matches this is irrelevant.

Like it or not, idiots who ignore disclaimers on systems called "autopilot" put other people in danger. Auto-drive shouldn't be publicly available till its ready to be used autonomously. (Also, we've been well-trained to ignore disclaimers & warnings - there are pages of them with every product we buy).

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