avatar image

Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

Login with username, password and session length
  • January 19, 2018, 05:36 PM
  • Proudly celebrating 10 years online.
  • Donate now to become a lifetime supporting member of the site and get a non-expiring license key for all of our programs.
  • donate

Show Posts

This section allows you to view all posts made by this member. Note that you can only see posts made in areas you currently have access to.

Messages - IainB [ switch to compact view ]

Pages: [1] 2 3 4 5 6 ... 239next
Make Use Of
7 Niche Windows Desktop Utilities You Must Try
Point of information re version currency:
  • The link given for fSekrit in the MakeUseOf post is: <>
  • The current "latest" link - since 9 Feb 2016 - for fSekrit seems to be not but: <>, though there have apparently been no updates since Version 1.40, released on Dec. 3, 2009.

By the way, the Microsoft reference described in the above thread is no longer available, but can be found on Wayback:
Laptop security: Don't leave it in the lap of the gods

... For me in NZ, the main DCForum at URL <>;action=.xml
- seems to have somewhat erratically stopped feeding my BazQux feed-reader, which may be attributable to the delay in repopulating TCP/IP tables, or something.
At the same time, the usually less active DCForum Blog address at <> seems to be broadcasting.;limit=10;sa=blogs;type=rss2
- Maybe they have swapped over somehow?

Sorry. Can't describe it better than that as I don't know the inner workings of BazQux, nor where its server(s) are located.

Ah, I think I understand the problem now - the RSS feeds would seem to have been somehow disabled/deleted/not included in the new CMS/website.
Are they going to be restored?

Job well done, methinks.
Probably lots of curly "rats and mice" issues to fix up, post implementation, but I would presume that's usually likely to be the case, in any complex migration, regardless of how well-planned the project was.

For me in NZ, the main DCForum at URL <>;action=.xml
- seems to have somewhat erratically stopped feeding my BazQux feed-reader, which may be attributable to the delay in repopulating TCP/IP tables, or something.
At the same time, the usually less active DCForum Blog address at <> seems to be broadcasting.;limit=10;sa=blogs;type=rss2
- Maybe they have swapped over somehow?

Sorry. Can't describe it better than that as I don't know the inner workings of BazQux, nor where its server(s) are located.

Developer's Corner / Re: What really happened with Microsoft Vista
« on: January 18, 2018, 05:17 AM »
Interesting. Seems that Vista was a real dog's breakfast.
It ran like a dog too.

Trigger warning!
  • Danger from falling irony and/or morbidity. An inability to comprehend irony may make viewers feel uncomfortable/confused.
  • The image below is of a true and representative chart depicting the statistical distribution of an STI (Sexually Transmitted Infection).
  • Some viewers may feel uncomfortable, or inexplicably "offended" or "feel funny inside" on viewing this image.
  • Viewers with  a fear/phobia of morbidity/disease may find the image below frightening.
  • The act of viewing the image below may cause de-calcification of the vertebrae, and some viewers may require spinal strengthening/reinforcement, post-viewing, especially if they already suffer from osteoporosis or Osteogenesis imperfecta or display weak spine symptoms (as I do).
  • Some viewers may conclude (incorrectly) that they could catch an STI from their computer if not properly protected whilst viewing that image on their computer's monitor/display screen. THIS IS NOT POSSIBLE. It would thus be silly/pointless to attempt to put a condom over the monitor/keyboard - unless it was (say) done as a joke, or as an interesting experiment to see exactly how far these things do stretch (YMMV).
  • Showing the image to grandparents and old people may cause them to feel discomfited by the thought that their selfish generation(s) were arguably the cause of the initiation of the explosion in STDs, arising from the libertarian "Free Love" and "Flower Power", etc. era, arguably brought about by a blatant abandonment of prevailing social/cultural mores/standards and a huge increase in blatant sexual promiscuity, without any apparent consideration of the potential risks involved in such behaviours to the then current and future generations. These behaviours apparently triggered the legacy of a ticking epidemiological time-bomb, and which has brought about the harsh demographic reality of today's generations who find themselves faced with a seemingly unavoidable wall of STDs - some of which were unavoidably inflicted at birth and some of which are become drug-resistant or incurable - and a consequential loss of enjoyment of the potential experience of the joy of life. This could arguably make an ironic mockery of the idea of "free love", since the costs are seemingly to be born by today's and future generations.


Excel Add-on: Transform Data by Example
Apparently launched 2017-05-17, this Add-on has the potential to save the Excel user hundreds of hours of mucking about with "data wrangling" - sorting mixed/mangled data strings into some kind of usable, normalized form. Works like a charm. Highly recommended. Ruddy brilliant. And it "learns". Seems to currently be constrained to max 100 rows at a time.

What it is: Excel Add-on that links to an AI search engine for indexed data transform templates.
Source: <>
Description: "Example-driven search engine to find functions for your data wrangling tasks"
• A Microsoft Garage project.
Video: <> (is excellent).

Transform Data by Example: (as at 2017-05-17)
   • Transform, clean and standardize diverse data sets
   • Excel Add-In (available from the Office Store)
   • Discover and reuse rich set of existing data transformations
   • Supports common domains like date, name, address, phone number
   • Easy to use: provide only a few input-output examples
   • Extend with your custom data transformations
   • <>

2018-01-17 0904hrs: Every now and then, someone in the DC Forum posts a question about Excel, and sometimes there's a good reply and sometimes we learn something new, but the isolated thread rather seems to get buried, over time - becoming a sort of "gradually lost knowledge".
After starting the "Microsoft OneNote - some experiential Tips & Tricks" thread, I have been wondering for some time whether something similar might not be useful for Excel - things discovered, problems encountered and needing a solution, problems solved; that sort of thing. With some kind of index at the front - if that is workable (we need a wiki...).

Anyway, in my wanderings, I today stumbled upon a brilliant Microsoft Garage Project (Excel Add-on: Transform Data by Example) that had been released 2017-05-17 and that I simply had not known about.
So, I installed the Add-on and (as is my wont) "captured" the knowledge about  it in the form of some detailed notes about it in my OneNote journal - i.e., what I call my "21st century Zettelkasten PIM". That's one of my main methods for knowledge curation.
At the same time, I would like to share the knowledge in this thread, and perhaps other DCF users could contribute their Excel problems, solutions, tips and tricks as well.
If people find useful Excel posts in the forum, please point me to them or make a quote post to them, and I shall then be able to index it.

Cross posted here regarding Page Four - as a potential alternative PIM to OneNote: and which may be of interest. Though Page Four was not designed to handle all the functionality and data types (including text, .RTF, .html, OCR, images, audio, embedded video, etc.) that OneNote handles, it's specs look like it might be very well-designed for its purpose and the price can't be beaten at $Free. At the end of its development life-cycle, it is likely to be a pretty well-honed and tested (in the field) product.
I did give it a cursory trial a while back, but it was an "also-ran" as far as my PIM requirements were concerned. However, out of interest, I might give it another look now, anyway. That's what CRIMP (Compulsive-Reactive Information Management Purchasing) does to one. But I at least have it under control - trialing a PIM software product helps me to release the CRIMP urge, whilst my extremely tough requirements mean that it is only very rarely that I will actually lay out hard $cash for anything.    :-[

Interesting. Is Atomic Scribbler sort-of an updated version of Page Four ?

Yes, I see it is

[ Invalid Attachment ]

@tomos: Thanks for those links.    :Thmbsup:
I see from the links that Page Four was the main ($Paid) software product by <>, up until 2017 when it became $Free, but unsupported, as a new $Paid product became the focus of development and is intended to supersede Page Four - which is a perfectly good .RTF document authoring/creation tool.

Hats off to for making such a smart marketing move. They'll get my vote.
This is redolent of:

@tomos: Thanks for those links.    :Thmbsup:
I see from the links that Page Four was the main ($Paid) software product by <>, up until 2017 when it became $Free, but unsupported, as a new $Paid product became the focus of development and is intended to supersede Page Four - which is a perfectly good .RTF document authoring/creation tool.

Hats off to for making such a smart marketing move. They'll get my vote.
This is redolent of:

Living Room / Re: Did you know DoCo has a Facebook Page? You do now!
« on: January 15, 2018, 06:44 AM »
@anandcoral: Well, despite the old adage that:
"Ye can drag a horse to water, but ye canna' make it drink."
- what you wrote at least seems like it could be the start of a definition of the target audience.    ;)

Well done!   :Thmbsup:

This special offer seems to apply to the first year only.
I set up a new ASUS account, and I used the code, but it didn't work and a message instructed me to contact the support desk.
I emailed the address given for the support desk and they responded quite quickly telling me that the code I had used (which was given at the link provided by @4wd) was intended for another account-holder. They advised me to login to my new account and I would be able to access the special offer from there.
I did not get around to doing that, but today received a reminder email to avail myself of the special offer, which was due to close in 24hrs. So I clicked on the special offer link given in the email reminder, and followed the steps. It worked without any hassle. There are options to pay via Credit Card or PayPal. There are about 17hrs of the special offer period left, before it closes.

So, get it whilst you can. Tempus fugit.

Living Room / Re: Did you know DoCo has a Facebook Page? You do now!
« on: January 14, 2018, 11:09 PM »
@Stephen66515: Well, if you are putting it like that in marketing terms, then I would generally look for a clear communications strategy, including, for example:
  • What/who is defined as being the target market(s), and why ("everybody" or "anybody" would generally not seem to be a useful answer to that).
  • What would be seen as the most desirable (for DCF) response/behaviour, required from the defined target market, and why.
  • What specific and consistently articulated communications (from DCF, or third parties on DCF's behalf) ) would be necessary to be communicated to the target(s) that could be most likely to elicit those desirable responses/behaviours, and why.
  • What communications media/channels would be most likely to enable the communication to effectively reach said target market(s), and why.
  • When those messages would need to be sent via the media/channel(s) selected (co-ordinated message communications plan) for max effect, and why.
  • Feedback + analysis: What the outcome of the communications plan was (measurement/statistics).
  • Update/document the plan to include what needs to be done to improve the quality of the marketing plan for next time around.

This would be a deliberative method essentially following the Deming/Shewhart cycle for improvement of the marketing planning process.


Failure to take a methodical approach (i.e., no method) would generally tend to mean that the strategy was likely to be no more successful than the typical dog-eat-dog approach of most mediocre marketing efforts - refer book: Competing for the Future, by Gary Hamel and C. K. Prahalad (21 Mar 1996).

Living Room / Re: Did you know DoCo has a Facebook Page? You do now!
« on: January 14, 2018, 07:57 PM »
@Stephen66515: Because I can't really see the point in a lot of it, I rarely visit F/book, if I can help it, but - if/when I do - I usually try to avoid pressing the "Like" button for anything.
I wonder, does this make one jot of difference to the state of DCF's welfare? (It's a genuine question.)
I had presumed not, but I suppose I could be wrong, of course.

@mouser: I was playing around with some VFs (Virtual Folders) in CHS today, and I noticed in the "All" clips Grid display (which been sorted on "Modified" date/time) that 3 clips had had their "Modified" date/time field updated to the immediate past, though, as far as I was aware, I had not updated/changed the contents of these 3 clips in any way.
The 3 clips were 2x text clips and 1x image clip, from different years.

I am using CHS v2.42.0
Are you able to define what are all the conditions under which the "Modified" date/time will be updated?
I would like to understand this behaviour, as it changes the metadata of the clips.

N.A.N.Y. 2018 / Re: NANY 2018 Mug/T-Shirt Design Competition
« on: January 12, 2018, 10:42 PM »
...with everyone else being largely apathetic...
True, true. I, for example, have very little interest in designs for T-shirts, except for a few favourites.
Probably zero interest in mug designs though.

I commented above:
...Just saw this video today. Pretty impressive and well-concealed technology. ...
- but the cost was likely to be around 2 or 3 thousand USD, I think, So, not really sensible.

However, look what @Arizona Hot has just posted in the Interesting "stuff" thread:

This removable wheel will electrify your bike in 30 seconds

That looks like a brilliant solution. US$799 though ... that's approx 1.5 times the cost of my Trek SL1000 bike. Pity. Still, the price for this technology will take some time to normalise to the point where it becomes a commodity. I can wait.

Living Room / Re: bicycling suddenly a British speciality?!
« on: January 12, 2018, 08:48 PM »
^^ That's soo cynical, fining the cyclists. It's presumably all about the ticketing revenue targets that are set for the police officers to "achieve".
However, in the chaotic Paris and NY traffic scenes, it really would seem that bike lanes are arguably a joke, and one might well be better off not cycling.
Road traffic and bikes simply do not mix well, and (from a risk perspective) the cyclists will always come off worst - being physically vulnerable, and not paying any road tax for any special services.

Living Room / Re: Normal.dotm problem
« on: January 10, 2018, 07:05 PM »
Did you do a search for that, and, if so, then what was the search string you used please?    ;)

Living Room / Re: bicycling suddenly a British speciality?!
« on: January 10, 2018, 02:08 PM »
"That video is old news." That's correct. I wasn't suggesting that it was recent news. I was referring to the old comment -IainB (2016-04-26, 17:35:34)
The video says it was "Published on 24 May 2016".
I was merely being appreciative of the technology: "Pretty impressive and well-concealed technology." It looks very civilised and not like a kludgy aftermarket add-on.
That quote I linked to also included this:
...Kiwi cyclist who has an electric motor assist on his bike, and he said his Auckland commute could take up to 1½ hrs each way, by car, but only 30mins by this bike - and he arrived fresh and not in need of a shower as he would have usually done if he had cycled on pedal power alone. ...
What he sees as benefits are in my view a real plus, but traffic commutes put me off.
The things I don't like about traffic are traffic exhaust pollutants and noise. They can't be good for one. Especially the diesel fume particles and carbon monoxide, so I tend to avoid long commutes in traffic for that reason.
Hearing protectors of various types are easily available. I have recently been looking at facemask filters to help there, but have not come across any that I would see as necessarily being of much comprehensive use.

"Still, the idea and execution is excellent.". Absolutely, and I would like it for myself please (but not at any cost) and for most/all of the reasons/benefits that you suggest for yourself, though I would use it for my Trek SL1000 road bike - if I could - as that bike really does suit my peculiar needs and I want to keep it and not have to get another bike.

I originally saw the "Angles mortes" video in an earlier version, some years ago. "Angles mortes", which translates (literally) to "Deadly angles", is referred to by the term "Blind spots" in English.
I thought I had already posted about this video on the DC Forum, but, on searching, I could not seem to find it.
So, here it is. It is an excellent video, taken over a year, with bike cameras mounted fore and aft. It demonstrates quite clearly the dangers of cycling in Paris, where road/driving laws and rules to protect cyclists are apparently ineffective as they seem to be routinely ignored by motorised road vehicle users. Maybe they are infeasible/unenforceable laws/rules - I don't know.

"Blind spots"

In Auckland (NZ) where I live, they are extending "bike lanes" throughout the city and alongside (but separate to) some stretches of motorway. They are implementing it with what seems to be a pretty costly set of changes to the existing roading system, which, as a ratepayer, I can't see being cost-justified. However, if it helps to reduce bike accidents/deaths, then I would think it will have been worth it.
One of the stated intentions is apparently to try to encourage the use of bicycles and correspondingly reduce car use, but only time will tell whether that eventuates.

What reminded me to post a comment about this in the first place was that I was reading today an interesting article about "a type of road junction that causes cyclists to be killed". Specifically, it is Ipley Cross - a crossroads junction in Hampshire, UK.
The post is: Collision Course: Why This Type Of Road Junction Will Keep Killing Cyclists, and I have copied it in the spoiler below (it's quite a long article).
(Copied below sans embedded hyperlinks/images.)
Collision Course: Why This Type Of Road Junction Will Keep Killing Cyclists
by Bez
January 7, 2018

Ipley Cross is a largely unremarkable place, an open plain where two roads cross: Beaulieu Road running north-to-south and Dibden Bottom running roughly east-to-west.

Yet it is a place of notoriety. For good reason.

Two Deaths And A Lucky Escape
In August 2011 a 15 year old boy was cycling along Beaulieu Road when he was struck from his left by a driver who failed to see him and failed to give way at the junction. The boy was sent flying, but somehow escaped with only a broken collarbone.

In May 2012 a second, almost identical incident occurred. Mark Brummell was cycling along Beaulieu Road when he was struck from his left by Stephen Chard, who failed to see Brummell and failed to give way at the junction. Brummell was killed.

In December 2016 a third, almost identical incident occurred. Kieran Dix was cycling along Beaulieu Road when he was struck from his left by Viral Parekh, who failed to see Dix and failed to give way at the junction. Dix, too, was fatally injured.

Chard was charged with causing death by careless driving and pleaded guilty; Parekh was charged with causing death by dangerous driving and pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving, but was found not guilty of the more serious offence by a jury despite having driven through the junction’s “give way” line at 37mph without slowing.

Two questions present themselves.

Firstly, why it that the same collision keeps occurring at this junction? And secondly, why is such a standard of driving considered only to be “careless” rather than “dangerous”?

As we shall see, the answers to both are closely related.

By understanding one of the most likely causes for “failure to see” collisions at this junction, not only can we answer those questions but we can offer surprisingly straightforward solutions.

The Existing Layout
Ipley crossroads has a very simple layout: two straight sections of road cross at an angle of 69 degrees, with the north-south road (Beaulieu Road) having priority.

The innocuous, yet dangerous Ipley crossroads
Sight lines are good, although the rightward view from the easterly approach is affected somewhat by a gentle slope which rises to the northeast of the junction.

So, if it’s so easy to see, why is it apparently so easy to fail to see?

Hidden In Plain View
Far and away the most plausible answer is a phenomenon known as “constant bearing, decreasing range”, or CBDR. Originally noted by sailors, it is the phenomenon whereby two vessels, or vehicles, moving at steady speeds in straight lines towards a collision will maintain the same bearing.

If you’re a dab hand with basic trigonometry, you can probably figure the principles out for yourself, but if not then of course Wikipedia has an explanation.

CBDR is required knowledge in maritime and aviation, where ships and aircraft travel significant distances with constant speed and bearing, but it is rarely taught in the context of highways, where motion is generally less constant. But it is nonetheless important where two straight routes cross: not just two roads, but also where roads and railways cross at unsignalled level crossings (a design which is rarely if ever found in the UK but which is not uncommon in parts of the US).

Sailors and pilots are taught to detect ships and planes at a constant bearing and to take avoiding action. When it comes to drivers, however, things are very different, because almost all motor vehicles have a design flaw which means not only that a CBDR condition precedes a collision, but that unless (as we shall see) the driver does one of two things, the same condition means that the driver will never even see the phenomenon occurring.

That design flaw is the front ‘A’ pillar, at the edge of the windscreen.

The Pillar Shadow
Take a look at this plan view of a Vauxhall Zafira (as driven by Viral Parekh). When the driver looks towards the horizon, the front pillar will obscure some of the view. The red ellipse represents an approximate cross section at that point, with the shaded area beyond it being obscured as a result.

The driver’s blind spot in a Vauxhall Zafira.
Once you extrapolate that obscured area, the extent of its effect is obvious. Here’s the same set of lines drawn on the Zafira, scaled up and overlaid on Ipley Cross.

A projection of the driver’s blind spot.
At the position shown, approximately 100m from the junction at Ipley Cross, the pillar obscures roughly 12m of Beaulieu road. That’s six bicycle lengths: enough to hide not just a cyclist but a small group of riders.

Of course, as the driver approaches that junction, that obscured section of road moves towards the junction with them. As does the cyclist.

Parekh’s car had a black box type device, which (contrary to his statements to police) recorded his approach to the junction at a steady speed of 37mph. At this speed it would have taken six seconds to cover the 100m to the collision, and the following image shows the approximate areas obscured by the Zafira’s pillar at six points in time representing each incremental second leading up to impact, with the red area showing the pillar shadow one second prior to impact.

The obscured section of road becomes smaller as the driver nears the intersection.
Although the obscured section of road becomes smaller as the driver approaches, it remains large enough to completely obscure a bicycle until less than a second prior to impact: too late for either party to react.

The light blue line in the following diagram represents the approximate length of a bicycle and fits comfortably within the pillar shadow at one second before impact.

The light blue line represents the cyclist.
Naturally, as per the conditions of a collision course being signalled by a constant bearing, for any speed of the approaching car there is a speed at which a cyclist will remain obscured by the front pillar almost until the point of impact. The angles of the triangles define a ratio of speeds, and with this geometry that ratio is a little over 3:1.

So, in the case of a vehicle moving at 37mph westwards along Dibden Bottom, the CBDR speed southbound along Beaulieu Road is roughly 13.5mph. A very plausible speed for a cyclist.

But such a degree of coincidence is actually not required.

Due to the width of the pillar and the extent shadow it casts, which is much larger than a bicycle until impact is inevitable, true CBDR is not even necessary: it would be perfectly possible for a cyclist to be moving at around 17.5mph and then hit the brakes two seconds prior to impact, without ever appearing in the driver’s view.

There’s a whole range of steady speeds at which someone could approach this junction from the north and remain obscured to a driver approaching at a steady speed from the east (and, likewise, also from the south and east respectively).

Crucially, for any likely speed of an approaching car, any speed in that range is a perfectly feasible speed for a cyclist.

But there’s one more thing about Ipley Cross that makes it especially dangerous.

Critical Angles
Keen triangle enthusiasts may have started thinking about this already, but there are of course three angles to consider here.

The first is the angle between the two approach paths, which is a constant value defined by the road. At Ipley Cross this is 69 degrees.

The second is the angle between the driver’s line of travel and the line from their eyes to the front pillar. This will vary depending on the vehicle and the driver, but the approximations above put the angle at around 17 degrees to the centre of the pillar.

The third is the angle between the cyclist’s line of travel and the line from their eyes to the vehicle which will hit them.

At this location, with this vehicle, it is 94 degrees.

A car which is on a collision course at Ipley Cross with a cyclist who is obscured from the driver’s view by the front pillar will approach the cyclist from behind.

Ipley Cross is constructed in such a way that not only is it possible for a careless driver to drive straight into a cyclist without seeing them until a fraction of a second before impact, but under the exact same circumstances it is also possible for that cyclist not to see the car that hits them until the same moment.

If anyone were to take a highway engineer to a wide open space and ask them to design a junction which would readily enable two road users to collide with neither of them ever seeing each other, I doubt any would be able to manage it.

Yet this is precisely what exists.

The exact numbers, of course, depend on the driver’s height and seating position, the geometry of their vehicle, and—if you wanted to apply this to other locations—the angle at which the roads meet. The 3:1 speed ratio will vary slightly according to all these factors, and it will not always be the case that the deadly vehicle will be so hard for its victim to see, but the angle between a driver’s line of travel and the line between their eyes and the pillar will always be such that it is the slower road user who is at risk of not being seen.

The point is this: given the design of almost every motor vehicle on the road, the crossing of two straight roads can make for a perfect storm when combined with typical speeds of drivers and cyclists. Ipley Cross represents possibly the most perfect of such storms.

These collisions are, therefore, inevitable—aren’t they?

Of course not.

Human Error: The Eternal Excuse
“None of us are perfect drivers,” remarked Parekh’s defence barrister, attributing the whole affair to “human error”.

The human error in this case, and the other cases, may have been for the drivers to have maintained a constant speed (as we know Parekh did) without having physically moved their head either side of the pillar to rigorously scan the area ahead and to their right.

There are two very simple solutions to the very real risk of a driver-vs-cyclist CBDR collision.

Firstly, by slowing down significantly, any vehicle approaching from the right at a constant speed will move out of the obscured area and into view at the right of the windscreen.

And secondly, significant movement of the head will bring previously obscured sections of road into view.

It’s quite plausible that these simple strategies—either of them—could have prevented two fatalities at this one junction.

One of those strategies can, however, be easily enforced.

A Simple Solution
In 2015, nearly three years after the death of Mark Brummell, a local resident sent a pencil sketch to councillor David Harrison, which he passed on to Hampshire County Council.

It was a simple plan of Ipley Cross, with one modification: the western approach now had a short kink at its meeting with Beaulieu Road, making the junction offset.

Before, and a potential after.
With this design, no longer would it be reasonably possible for any driver to simply blow through the junction. Drivers would have to come almost to a stop.

This design would, very simply, force the slowing down that eliminates the problem of CBDR.

The image above is, of course, a mock-up. The junction was never altered.

Two years after that simple sketch was handed to the authority responsible for the junction, Kieran Dix was dead.

Is This Not Dangerous?
And, lest we forget: what of the criminal proceedings against Parekh? Why is it not deemed “dangerous” to approach this junction at 37mph without slowing?

We must note that there are two parts to the definition of dangerous driving. Firstly the standard of driving must be “far below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver”, and secondly it must be “obvious to a competent and careful driver that driving in that way would be dangerous”.

People are often drawn to the term “far below”, which offers only a vague difference from “below” as used in the definition of careless driving, but generally the problematic clause is more likely the latter: it simply doesn’t matter how dangerous the driving is if it’s not obvious that it’s dangerous.

If we don’t teach people that to approach a junction at a constant speed is inherently dangerous, and if we don’t offer a basic explanation as to why, then it is surely not obvious to most people.

“Human error” may be real, but so are techniques to mitigate or eliminate its effects—and driver training is poor when it comes to equipping people with those techniques, let alone habituating them. (And let alone reviewing knowledge of those techniques every few years.)

It would appear from media reports that Parekh’s defence was simply that he did not see Dix; the implied logic being that since he saw no other vehicles he felt no compulsion to slow down. The jury’s acquittal equally implies that they agree with this logic: it was not obvious to them that failing to see another vehicle is anything other than unavoidable.

Yet, once the nature of a collision course is explained, the need to slow down becomes obvious.

The truly contemptible human error is not in a single person carelessly failing to see. It is in our failure to continually improve the training and licensing system so as to render the need to slow down obvious; it is in our incessant support of a system which cries “human error” as an excuse to do nothing, rather than as a stimulus to understand that error in order to create a solution.

Constant Bearing, Reducing Distance
So we can easily answer both of our original questions: why the same collision keeps occurring at this junction, and why driving straight through it at a steady 37mph is not deemed “dangerous” by law.

The question we still can’t answer is that of why, when clear solutions to both problems exist, no-one ever does anything about it.

We remain on the same bearing, heading for the next collision.

Copied from: » Collision Course: Why This Type Of Road Junction Will Keep Killing Cyclists - <>

What I find interesting about this is:
  • (a) that the explanation offered as being "Far and away the most plausible answer..." - i.e.. as to why that is a "killer junction" - is not proven, but is an argument hypothetically based on two concepts:
    • The conventional nautical navigation concept of CBDR ("Constant Bearing, Decreasing Range”);
    • The concept of the "Pillar Shadow" blind spot - being the potential forward-view blind spot radiating out from the driver's side (i.e., the RHS in this case) windscreen/door-pillar.
  • (b) that the only solution put forward would seem to be relatively unsatisfactory - i.e., it would seem to be potentially relatively expensive and a constipated re-arrangement of the junction, turning it into a technically inefficient (operationally costly) sort of permanent dog's-leg diversion. I'd call that "a workaround."
  • (c) that there is some past research in psychological perception that could be relevant in explaining why these accidents will continue to happen at this and other junctions.
  • (d) that there are already well-understood, tried-and-tested solutions that have been devised in the UK, to this and similar road-safety problems.

So, lets look at (c) and (d):
(c) that there is some past research in psychological perception that could be relevant in explaining why these accidents will continue to happen at this and other junctions.
  • Some years back, I read about an intriguing piece of psychological research that had car insurers interested. The research had identified the probable cause of why accidents at T-junctions happen, where the drivers involved would write on their insurance claim forms "I just didn't see the other car/motorbike.", or "The other driver must have been driving like a bat out of hell, because he wasn't there when I looked!" - OWTTE.

  • The researchers had established by experiment that the human brain seems to have an instinctively automatic, accurate and fast response to any movement within the field of view. Sensory electrodes applied to subjects' heads showed this to be the case, and furthermore showed that any movement in an otherwise stationary field of view would immediately fire up the brain in a basic survival mode response. We are, it seems, very good at detecting movement, without even thinking about it. Then the researchers wondered why this was, and why the survival responses occurred. They postulated that this was probably a primitive developed survival instinct, when, as hunter-gatherers, we would need to be constantly scanning for sign of threats - movement from potential/concealed predators in the environment (plains or forest) we were walking through. Those who spotted the movement were more likely to have survived than those who did not.

  • So the researchers wondered why this unerringly accurate survival instinct did not fire up at those strange T-junction accidents where the threat was simply apparently not perceived. After some experimentation, they figured out that, at a T-junction where the top bar of the T is the main road, the driver of a car is glancing to his right and/or left, looking through the right/left side windows. At each glance, the brain takes the frame of the window as a frame of reference for the field of view through that window, and any movement in that frame relative to the frame itself is immediately sensed/observed.

  • Further experimentation showed that the brain does not perceive a moving object where that object appeared to be stationary within the frame - which is pretty much exactly the condition of CBDR ("Constant Bearing, Decreasing Range”). Only that which moves within the frame is perceived by the brain (as a threat), and non-threats (the rest) are ignored. Thus explaining the "I just didn't see the other car/motorbike." statements - they are likely to be absolutely true statements.

  • Thus it would probably be incorrect to say that this illustrates "driver error" or "human error", since everything in the brain is perceptually doing exactly what it should. What it probably does illustrate though is that we were not designed to drive cars, as we have inbuilt "driving blind spots" in our sensory perception that were necessitated for our survival in the natural environment. Which is why we now know that we should take extra care as we approach a junction, as we may be literally blind, unable to perceive some of the action around us in the artificial environment.

(d) that there are already well-understood, tried-and-tested solutions that have been devised in the UK, to this and similar road-safety problems.
  • Some of the most interesting, forward-thinking and sometimes non-intuitive solutions were realised and deployed in the roading infrastructure redevelopment in the building of the Milton Keynes new city (UK). The MK boundary set by the planners encompassed several villages, towns (the largest being Bletchley) and large spaces of open agricultural land, portions of which were targeted for development as new "villages" and light industry zones - which latter were separated from the habitation areas. Several existing major arterial roads and railway routes passed through the designated MK city area.

  • Most of the roads had artificial landscaped embankments as protection where they passed nearby habitation areas. This contained the noise, disturbance and combustion engine fumes. The main arterial "A" roads were left unimpeded, with traffic lights where necessary at congested points or near Bletchley and other existing (older) established habitation communities. Many of the minor "B" roads were implemented as a network and a means to communicate efficiently between different communities and industrial zones within the MK area. These roads rarely had a traffic lights or ordinary stop/give way lines, since the planners had elected to put a roundabout at most junctions and let the traffic flows sort themselves out. The roundabouts worked so well that eventually many of the traffic lights and ordinary junctions had their traffic lights and lines removed and little dummy roundabout put there instead. This was done experimentally at first, and then done as a matter of course because the experiment was so incredibly successful. Other cities in the UK quickly learned from this, and they too began to replace traffic lights and ordinary junctions with these mini-roundabouts. Not only did the roundabouts improve the traffic flows, but also the accident rates at those junctions tended to decline significantly, even as traffic flows (the number of vehicles during different periods of the day) increased. In large part, this could have been attributed to the elimination of the opportunity for the CBDR frame perception blind spot to manifest itself (which was not known about at that time), because all drivers had to slow to the roundabout and only needed to look right to see and give way if a vehicle was approaching from that direction.

I do find the timing rather interesting...
...But I'm never-the-less obligated...
Yers, well, that's the thing about FUD: "My goodness! It just might be true! Can I take the risk?"

Kerching! Kerching!

Apropos of this:
Then today I read about this lady Belgian cycling cheat. It was disturbing enough for me to read a couple of years ago of the revelations about Lance Armstrong's enhancement drug-taking - which retrospectively cancelled all his prior TdeF wins (and quite rightly so) - but I had not realised that one could now cheat with "mechanical doping" - fitting concealed electric motors on the bike. Amazing what some people will do to "win".

Just saw this video today. Pretty impressive and well-concealed technology.
Exclusive: we tested the rigged race bike (Is in French, but self-explanatory.)

I had to laugh at this post on AskWoody:
Risk Based Security brings some sanity to the Meltdown debacle
Posted on January 9th, 2018 at 15:52 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

I just finished reading this article, recommended by Kevin Beaumont. The Slow Burn of Meltdown and Spectre: Exploits, Lawsuits, and Perspective.

Here’s the conclusion:

Vulnerabilities are disclosed every day, to the tune of over 20,000 new disclosures in 2017 alone. Just because a vulnerability receives a name, a website, and/or a marketing campaign does not necessarily mean it is high risk or that it will impact your organization. As always, we strongly encourage organizations to cut through the noise and focus on the details relevant to them, and make a decision based on that alone.

I repeat – forgive me if you’ve heard this before – but there are NO KNOWN Meltdown or Spectre exploits in the wild. Folks who run servers with sensitive data — banks, brokerage houses, military contractors, cryptocurrency exchanges — need to be concerned about Meltdown and Spectre in the near term, realizing that the data can only be snooped if you allow an unauthorized program to run on your server.

For everybody else, the first attacks (if there ever are any) are likely to come through web browsers. You need to harden your browser as soon as the update is available. You’ll want to install the new Windows patches as soon as they pass muster. And you need to get your BIOS or UEFI updated one of these days. But there’s no big rush.

What you’re witnessing is a colossal “Sky is Falling” routine, aided and abetted by folks who are going to make money from the havoc.

Clearly, Woody is off his rocker. This threat is serious man, all the news reports say so, and look how quickly the players have been moving to stop the vulnerabilities - even if it does mean (say) inadvertently crippling some of those older, or non-Intel CPUs - and are even now considering redesigning the chip hardware/firmware for the future so that we can all be safe. They wouldn't all be rushing to do that if it wasn't an imminent threat. Oh, but wait...    :o

Developer's Corner / Re: CodePlex is shutting down.
« on: January 09, 2018, 02:49 AM »
The shutdown of Codeplex had been widely broadcast from the start, months ago.
The earliest notice I had of the details of the shutdown plans seemed to be rather abrupt - it had evidently been thought through, but there seemed to have been no courtesy to the community in the form of a prior warning of what was likely to be going on. It seemed to be a fait accompli.  I could have missed the prior warning if there had been one, I suppose. Anyway, that earliest notice was the post dated 2017-03-31 on Brian Harrys blog:
Shutting down CodePlex
tags: Uncategorized, Codeplex
03/31/2017 by Brian Harry MS
Almost 11 years after we created CodePlex, it’s time to say goodbye.  We launched CodePlex in 2006 because we, like others in the industry, saw a need for a great place to share software.  Over the years, we’ve seen a lot of amazing options come and go but at this point, GitHub is the de facto place for open source sharing and most open source projects have migrated there.
 (more at the link)...
Copied from: bq | Codeplex - Brian Harrys blog  -

It's quite an informative post, so, worth a read if one wanted to know the background to the shutdown plans.

Since then, many live projects have been migrated from Codeplex, emptying the place out somewhat by this stage.
It was also mentioned in little warning messages in the Codeplex Daily Summary pages <

It's not that I'm necessarily well-informed, though I do try to keep current. I'm a bit lazy (can't be bothered to make the time/effort to read and memorise everything that I probably should) and I happened to have feeds to the above sources in my Bazqux feed-reader. I regularly scan the headlines of all posts, but read only the few that particularly catch my current interest for one reason or another. The feeds provide a corpus that makes for a good reference source as well. For example, it only took a couple of minutes to search quickly back through those feeds just now, to locate the date of what seemed to be the earliest notice of the shutdown that I recalled having read some time ago.

Hats off to Bazqux feed-reader.    :Thmbsup:
R.I.P. Google Reader.

Living Room / Re: Meltdown + Spectre - Malwarebytes update notes.
« on: January 08, 2018, 11:48 AM »
MBAM has some useful comment (and about the performance hit):
(Copied below sans embedded hyperlinks/images.)
Meltdown and Spectre: what you need to know

tags: Security world, AMD, ARM, Intel, Meltdown, memory, processor, Spectre
Malwarebytes Labs
UPDATE (as of 1/04/18): Since the Malwarebytes Database Update 1.0.3624, all Malwarebytes users are able to receive the Microsoft patch to mitigate Meltdown.

If you’ve been keeping up with computer news over the last few days, you might have heard about Meltdown and Spectre, and you might be wondering what they are and what they can do. Basically, Meltdown and Spectre are the names for multiple new vulnerabilities discovered and reported for numerous processors. Meltdown is a vulnerability for Intel processors while Spectre can be used to attack nearly all processor types.

The potential danger of an attack using these vulnerabilities includes being able to read “secured” memory belonging to a process. This can do things like reveal personally identifiable information, banking information, and of course usernames and passwords. For Meltdown, an actual malicious process needs to be running on the system to interact, while Spectre can be launched from the browser using a script.

Microsoft, Google, Mozilla, and other vendors have been releasing patches all day to help protect users from this vulnerability. Some of the updates from Microsoft may negatively interact with certain antivirus solutions. However, Malwarebytes is completely compatible with our latest database update. The best thing to do to protect yourself is to update your browsers and your operating system with these patches as soon as you see an update available.

For a quick guide on how to protect yourself from this threat, please check out “Meltdown and Spectre Vulnerabilities – what you should do to protect your computer” on the Malwarebytes support knowledge base.

The Google Project Zero team, in collaboration with other academic researchers, has published information about three variants of a hardware bug with important ramifications. These variants—branch target injection (CVE-2017-5715), bounds check bypass (CVE-2017-5753), and rogue data cache load (CVE-2017-5754)—affect all modern processors.

If you’re wondering if you could be impacted, the answer is most certainly yes.

The vulnerabilities, named Meltdown and Spectre, are particularly nasty, since they take place at a low level on the system, which makes them hard to find and hard to fix.

Modern computer architecture isolates user applications and the operating system, which helps to prevent unauthorized reading or writing to the system’s memory. Similarly, this design prevents programs from accessing memory used by other programs. What Meltdown and Spectre do is bypass those security measures, therefore opening countless possibilities for exploitation.

The core issue stems from a design flaw that allows attackers access to memory contents from any device, be it desktop, smart phone, or cloud server, exposing passwords and other sensitive data. The flaw in question is tied to what is called speculative execution, which happens when a processor guesses the next operations to perform based on previously cached iterations.

The Meltdown variant only impacts Intel CPUs, whereas the second set of Spectre variants impacts all vendors of CPUs with support of speculative execution. This includes most CPUs produced during the last 15 years from Intel, AMD, ARM, and IBM.

It is not known whether threat actors are currently using these bugs. Although due to their implementation, it might be impossible to find out, as confirmed by the vulnerability researchers:

Can I detect if someone has exploited Meltdown or Spectre against me?
Probably not. The exploitation does not leave any traces in traditional log files.

While there are no attacks reported in the wild as of yet, several Proof of Concepts have been made available, including this video that shows a memory extraction (using a non-disclosed POC). This is particularly damaging because 1. There aren’t many options for protection currently and 2. as previously stated, even if threat actors do spring to action, it might be impossible to verify if that’s the case.

Because the Meltdown and Spectre variants are hardware vulnerabilities, deploying security programs or adopting safer surfing habits will do little to protect against potential attack. However, a patch for the Meltdown variant has already been rolled out on Linux, macOS, and all supported versions of Windows.

According to our telemetry, most Malwarebytes users are already able to receive the latest Microsoft update. However, we are working to ensure that our entire user base has access to the patch.

Unfortunately, Microsoft’s fix comes with significant impact on performance, although estimates of how much vary greatly. An advisory from Microsoft recommends users to:

Keep computers up to date.
Install the applicable firmware update provided by OEM device manufacturers.
If you are having issues getting the Windows update, please refer to this article, as Microsoft has stated some possible incompatibility issues with certain security software.

No software patch for Spectre is available at the time of this article. Partial hardening and mitigations are being worked on, but they are unlikely to be published soon.

The Spectre bug can be exploited via JavaScript and WebAssembly, which makes it even more critical. It is therefore recommended to apply some countermeasures such as Site Isolation in Chrome. Mozilla is rolling out a Firefox patch to mitigate the issue while working on a long-term solution. Microsoft is taking similar action for Edge and Internet Explorer.

Cloud providers (Amazon,, DigitalOcean) also rushed to issue emergency notifications to their customers for upcoming downtimes in order to prevent situations where code from the hypervisor could be leaked from a virtual machine, for example.

The aftermath from these bugs is far from being completely understood, so please check back on this blog for further updates.

Vendor advisories:

The post Meltdown and Spectre: what you need to know appeared first on Malwarebytes Labs.

Copied from: bq | Malwarebytes Unpacked - <>

Pages: [1] 2 3 4 5 6 ... 239next