Greg's recent activity

  1. Comment on The sinkhole that saved the internet: Keeping the 'kill switch' alive is the only thing preventing another WannaCry outbreak in ~tech

    Greg Link Parent
    I'm not convinced that funding would solve things in this case - while the NHS absolutely is underfunded as a whole, they have also spent significant amounts on IT systems over the years and have...

    I'm not convinced that funding would solve things in this case - while the NHS absolutely is underfunded as a whole, they have also spent significant amounts on IT systems over the years and have relatively little to show for it.

    It does finally seem to be improving somewhat, but well designed and well managed systems would have cost them less in the long run without exposing them to security threats that have long since been patched.

    3 votes
  2. Comment on Americans Shouldn’t Have to Drive, but the Law Insists on It in ~misc

    Greg Link Parent
    I've gone my entire life so far without owning a car, so it's interesting to hear the cons from your perspective. Broadly, I actually agree with you. Those are things that cause minor...

    I've gone my entire life so far without owning a car, so it's interesting to hear the cons from your perspective.

    Broadly, I actually agree with you. Those are things that cause minor inconveniences in my day to day life, and it'd be nice to have them fixed. I didn't even know that mobile storage was something I needed until this conversation.

    The only one I personally disagree with is speed, and that's a location-specific one anyway - here, the public transport would normally be the fast option, car would be the slower but more comfortable one.

    All that said, I'll add one more item to the "pros" column, and it's a big one: you actually get to have a walkable, high density city. That's the one that swings it for me - I don't know of any city designs that allow everyone a car and keep the pedestrian character. I'd be interested to hear if anyone does, actually.

    The inconveniences you mentioned are the price to pay for living in this type of city, and to remove them would be to also turn it into a car necessitating city.

    7 votes
  3. Comment on Beyond Meat has hit the ‘short-squeeze trifecta’ as borrow fees keep soaring in ~news

    Greg Link Parent
    In addition, because the way it was first explained to me helps me remember: Bearish = expecting to go down, because bears swipe downwards with their claws Bullish = expecting to go up, because...

    In addition, because the way it was first explained to me helps me remember:

    • Bearish = expecting to go down, because bears swipe downwards with their claws

    • Bullish = expecting to go up, because bulls thrust upwards with their horns

    Could be apocryphal, but the imagery sticks in my head well.

    4 votes
  4. Comment on The Insanity in Oregon Is a Glimpse of Our Very Dark Future in ~misc

    Greg Link Parent
    If the police were being used to influence the direction of the vote in any way, I would unequivocally agree with you. To my understanding, they are simply ensuring that the legislators are...

    If the police were being used to influence the direction of the vote in any way, I would unequivocally agree with you.

    To my understanding, they are simply ensuring that the legislators are present to vote in any way they choose, or indeed to abstain. They are ensuring that the mutually agreed process takes place, regardless of the outcome. I'm not against a law that says "elected officials must arrive for scheduled votes" and I would entirely back that enforcement even if it gave a majority to positions that I abhor. I can see the argument against it, but if that is your position then it's the place for legislative change.

    If the police or legislature start using their powers to direct the process, rather than to protect its impartial integrity, I agree that everything I just said becomes void.

  5. Comment on How much money would you need to live the life that you want to live? in ~life

    Greg Link Parent
    This very much reflects my thinking - freedom is worth the most to me. From the title alone, my answer was going to be ~£1mm lump sum, because it'd guarantee a modest but comfortable income...

    This very much reflects my thinking - freedom is worth the most to me. From the title alone, my answer was going to be ~£1mm lump sum, because it'd guarantee a modest but comfortable income (£30-50k with indefinite inflation adjustment) for life.

    As a per-year figure, it totally depends on the constraints it brings with it. If a genie offered me both, I'd take £40k passive income over a guaranteed £250k job without hesitation. Even at an absurd salary level, say £400k+, I'd only be doing it because it could set up a serious investment fund within 5 years or less.

    In reality, it's obviously a trade off. A million in investable funds is serious, and that's the barrier if you want middle class life without working. But if you drop everything else in an attempt to get there (as I tried, for a short while) you'll go insane. Minmaxing life is possible, but probably not a good decision for most of us. So in the spirit of the question I'd give a similar answer of £100-200k because it's possible in a job that's not utterly awful, and more than high enough to set up a comfortable and above all early retirement to pursue whatever I like. For a few years that retirement would probably actually still be doing what I do now - but the peace of mind and flexibility that comes with independent income would be utterly transformative.

    1 vote
  6. Comment on The Sheriff Lost Reelection. Then the Spending Spree Began. in ~misc

    Greg Link Parent
    The mildly optimistic view would be that they're being supplied as a means for budget shenanigans, or for "tough on crime" political point scoring, without any intent that they're ever used. But...

    There is no reason to have a single bayonet, let alone thousands of them, unless you plan to engage in close quarters combat with the intent to kill.

    The mildly optimistic view would be that they're being supplied as a means for budget shenanigans, or for "tough on crime" political point scoring, without any intent that they're ever used. But yeah, when mild to moderate corruption is the best case scenario, that's not exactly a good situation to be in.

    1 vote
  7. Comment on The Insanity in Oregon Is a Glimpse of Our Very Dark Future in ~misc

    Greg Link Parent
    Would you apply that logic to all situations where the police are following a lawful order - that armed resistance is appropriate? If not, why is this situation different?

    Would you apply that logic to all situations where the police are following a lawful order - that armed resistance is appropriate? If not, why is this situation different?

    2 votes
  8. Comment on Supreme Court finds that courts can't rule on partisan gerrymandering cases in ~news

    Greg Link Parent
    Out of interest, do you know if there's a provably impartial solution to this that could be written into the amendment? The naïve mathematician in me says to define a formula based on census...

    The people, as naive as it sounds. It would probably take a constitutional amendment, but it is possible, and if enough people get energized, maybe not even too improbable down the line.

    Out of interest, do you know if there's a provably impartial solution to this that could be written into the amendment? The naïve mathematician in me says to define a formula based on census population density and leave it at that, but reality is rarely that simple.

    1 vote
  9. Comment on Minimum Wage Still Can’t Pay for a Two-Bedroom Apartment Anywhere in ~life

    Greg Link Parent
    You say that as though it were self evident, which is far from being the case. Minimum can be read to mean any number of things, most prosaically "the minimum a company is allowed to pay". You...

    You say that as though it were self evident, which is far from being the case. Minimum can be read to mean any number of things, most prosaically "the minimum a company is allowed to pay". You imply it should be "minimum necessary to survive", I would suggest it should be "minimum for a comfortable and fulfilling life". Many other people and societies, past and present, have tried things both within and beyond those bounds.

    If it's the government's business to keep people alive, why not take another step and try to improve their quality of life?

    8 votes
  10. Comment on Minimum Wage Still Can’t Pay for a Two-Bedroom Apartment Anywhere in ~life

    Greg Link Parent
    Why is it absurd? Genuine question. It's vastly outside our current experience of the world (although it was the case within living memory, as I mentioned below), but why not aspire to it? Why not...

    Why is it absurd? Genuine question.

    It's vastly outside our current experience of the world (although it was the case within living memory, as I mentioned below), but why not aspire to it? Why not have even the lowest paid being comfortable?

    5 votes
  11. Comment on The Insanity in Oregon Is a Glimpse of Our Very Dark Future in ~misc

    Greg Link Parent
    You'd also be very hard pressed to get a decent number of people in agreement over what constitutes tyranny. The people making threats this case, for example, are doing so directly against a...

    You'd also be very hard pressed to get a decent number of people in agreement over what constitutes tyranny. The people making threats this case, for example, are doing so directly against a fairly and democratically elected governing body, over an anti-pollution bill.

    If civilians started taking up arms against a tyrannical government, I honestly believe that a similar number would take up arms in favour of that government.

    8 votes
  12. Comment on How Oxford university shaped Brexit — and Britain’s next prime minister in ~news

    Greg Link Parent
    I think the heart of it is that history is an aspect of class in the UK, along with the wealth and connections that apply everywhere. Less so than it used to be, by a wide margin, but still there...

    I think the heart of it is that history is an aspect of class in the UK, along with the wealth and connections that apply everywhere. Less so than it used to be, by a wide margin, but still there guiding things.

    From what I see in the US, wealth and influence defines class in and of itself - not quite wealth alone, but wealth and a few other social factors that mostly become available alongside the wealth. The UK is heading in that direction, but 800 years of monarchy and aristocracy don't disappear overnight (or even entirely over a century). It's still very possible to have no actual money but a hereditary title that confers a certain level of respect and access, or to have all the wealth an trappings of the upper class but not "really" be one of them because you don't have 17 generations of family history.

    In 99% of cases nobody actually notices or cares - the real shift started post WWII and I'd say it's within a generation of completion - but there are the still more conservative holdouts where it matters. Such as the Conservative party. And the public/private school distinction you mentioned: they're all actually private schools, rather than state, but the ones with the history and the cachet get to use the term "public" for historical reasons; it was a legitimate description at the time, but nowadays it's just a reminder that they have something that money can't buy.

    3 votes
  13. Comment on Minimum Wage Still Can’t Pay for a Two-Bedroom Apartment Anywhere in ~life

    Greg Link Parent
    Based on some back of the envelope numbers from a previous discussion, it looks as though it was plausible in the 1950s-60s US.

    Based on some back of the envelope numbers from a previous discussion, it looks as though it was plausible in the 1950s-60s US.

    5 votes
  14. Comment on How Oxford university shaped Brexit — and Britain’s next prime minister in ~news

    Greg Link Parent
    This is a topic that I find absolutely fascinating, not least because I've ended up closer to it than I ever expected to be. I was an angrily anti-establishment teenager, from a state school that...

    This is a topic that I find absolutely fascinating, not least because I've ended up closer to it than I ever expected to be. I was an angrily anti-establishment teenager, from a state school that was somewhere between bad and almost adequate, and the financial/class background that that implies. I wanted nothing to do with tradition, or class, or the systems that perpetuated it.

    Cut to a decade and a half later and I still hold a lot of those opinions, but good fortune and, to be blunt, money puts me in a position that a decent number of my friends and peers grew up far on the other side of the class divide.

    The first thing I'll say is that Oxford, perhaps above all else, is a damn good university. To say the institution itself anti-meritocratic is something that I'd call unfair, although I think that's a much more reasonable description of the Eton->Oxford->Tory party pipeline. Oxford is far from faultless in being part of this, but it's a large institution that I don't think can be defined just by that aspect.

    When so much comes down to networking, and when one institution provides intimate access to past and future leaders, it's perhaps not entirely surprising how much it dominates politics. While still definitely imperfect, there is serious and ongoing work coming from within to make that more accessible - to retain their position as the training ground for world leaders, but allow anyone in on merit. And on numbers alone Oxford is slowly becoming less insular.

    All that said, I think one of the most telling lines in the article was actually a relatively innocuous one: "Its officers wore white tie, speakers black tie, and everyone called each other “honourable member”."

    It's a shibboleth. It comes down to the little things. The people who "belong" are recognisable by their shared background, even set apart from those who joined the same path later on merit. They know black tie from white instinctively (and no, it isn't just the tie) and wear both with comfort. They reminisce over the shared trials of boarding school. They think that making an odd groaning-jeering sound in the middle of a debate is a perfectly normal thing to do.

    I'm less worried about Oxford's influence, and more about the groups within that university (and within the schools before, and in certain London institutions afterwards) that consider themselves "the right kind of people".

    6 votes
  15. Comment on Need A Simple Way To Password Protect A Webpage in ~comp

    Greg Link Parent
    As one of the people who made that shocking suggestion (and explicitly marked it as the least secure option among several), I'm going to double down and say it meets the brief! The request wasn't...

    and the absurdly shocking display:none suggestions which provoked me to actually comment

    As one of the people who made that shocking suggestion (and explicitly marked it as the least secure option among several), I'm going to double down and say it meets the brief! The request wasn't for security, it was for marketing.

    It's almost definitely not the best option, but when the requirement is that "the password is only there to make the user feel exclusive" and "Just some kind of pop-up that blocks all the content" with a strong suggestion that client side JS is preferred, I can totally see it doing the job and keeping out the 99% of users who have no idea what view source even means.

    Your solution makes sense and you bothered to write the code, which is more than I did! As long as there's a PHP interpreter installed, it seems like a decent way to go. I'm just saying that the request was a special case, and there are times where the technical equivalent of a purple velvet rope is perfectly sufficient.

    1 vote
  16. Comment on GE's smart light bulb reset process is a masterpiece... of modern techno-insanity in ~tech

    Greg Link Parent
    Regularly timed sunrise & sunset routines, and general adjustable colour temperatures, do wonders for my sleep pattern. The ability to set moods and scenes across multiple main and accent lights...

    Regularly timed sunrise & sunset routines, and general adjustable colour temperatures, do wonders for my sleep pattern. The ability to set moods and scenes across multiple main and accent lights is also a nice design feature, as is the ability to save a few common patterns into a three-button wall switch (and mount those switches without needing wiring), but those are ancillary to me; blue spectrum in the morning and orange in the evening is the function I'm paying for.

    But yeah, this design looks utterly stupid and I'd be very concerned about the rest of the product if they think this is acceptable. I'd also be frustrated if the firmware were unstable enough to need a reset - I've certainly never needed to in the few years I've had my system.

    16 votes
  17. Comment on Need A Simple Way To Password Protect A Webpage in ~comp

    Greg (edited ) Link Parent
    You can always just hardcode the username into the JS if you don't want the users to have to enter it. You just need to ensure that you set an Authorization: Basic header on your XMLHttpRequest...

    You can always just hardcode the username into the JS if you don't want the users to have to enter it. You just need to ensure that you set an Authorization: Basic header on your XMLHttpRequest before you send it - so something roughly along the lines of xhr.setRequestHeader("Authorization", 'Basic ' + btoa('myusername:' + document.getElementById("password-input").value));. And then you can set the page HTML to the xhr response document.

    From a quick search, this has a few clear examples of the code you might use: https://zinoui.com/blog/ajax-basic-authentication

    [Edit] In retrospect I'm not sure how clear my explanation was there! Feel free to ask if there's anything specific that didn't make sense.

    2 votes
  18. Comment on Need A Simple Way To Password Protect A Webpage in ~comp

    Greg Link
    Depends how (in)secure is sufficient for you. Off the top of my head, from least to most secure: Include all the "secret" content in the HTML page as standard, but set it to display: none by...

    Depends how (in)secure is sufficient for you. Off the top of my head, from least to most secure:

    • Include all the "secret" content in the HTML page as standard, but set it to display: none by default. Check the input against a password stored in the client side JS (plain or slightly obfuscated) and make the element visible if there's a match.

    • Include the hidden HTML content in some kind of obfuscated manner (say a base64 encoded JS string), password check as above, decode and insert the HTML if there's a match.

    • Put the hidden HTML in a .htaccess protected file, and use an AJAX request to get that file using the supplied password. If the server returns a 200 code and the content, insert the response into the page body. If not, show an error. This is the first option that doesn't expose the content and/or password to someone viewing the page source.

    • Use an actual session authentication library. This is probably overkill for your needs.

    5 votes
  19. Comment on What is a scam that people should know about? in ~life

    Greg Link Parent
    The CD one has a whole range of variants along the spectrum from unpleasantly high pressure sales to outright scams: flowers, music, beauty products, trinkets. They all play on the fact that we're...

    The CD one has a whole range of variants along the spectrum from unpleasantly high pressure sales to outright scams: flowers, music, beauty products, trinkets. They all play on the fact that we're socially conditioned to accept something as it's handed to us, and then not to "steal" it or throw it away when we're told it costs money - if they don't take it back, you're essentially anchored in place until you pay the money or go against a lifetime of training in how you should behave, and they know exactly that. Don't take anything that's handed your way unexpectedly!

    8 votes
  20. Comment on What is a scam that people should know about? in ~life

    Greg Link
    If you are significantly overpaid for something (eBay item, contracting work, whatever) and asked to send back the balance, or use the excess to cover expenses from a specific supplier, you're...
    • If you are significantly overpaid for something (eBay item, contracting work, whatever) and asked to send back the balance, or use the excess to cover expenses from a specific supplier, you're going to end up out of pocket. You've just made a legitimate payment from your own account to an account or company controlled by the scammer, and within a week or two you'll find out that the original incoming transaction was fraudulent. The bank pulls the fraudulent cash back out of your account, meanwhile the account you sent it on to has long since been emptied.

    • One I particularly dislike, because it casts mistrust on the majority of good honest people as well: if you're in a new city and you stop for a drink, you might strike up an interesting conversation with a friendly local. Very relaxed, you get on well, they aren't asking for anything - maybe they even buy you a beer or a coffee. They're meeting a friend somewhere just nearby, would you like to join? You and your new best mate head on to the next venue, have one or two more drinks, and then get handed a bill for $500 or more. They might even produce a menu with the prices on and swear that you were shown it when you ordered. If you refuse to pay, or don't have the money on you, the bouncers will step in with the threat of violence and march you to a cash machine; the police may well even back them up as "you were trying to leave without paying your bill".

    11 votes