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* Posts by Graham Dawson

1531 posts • joined 5 Mar 2007

Facebook Places - why, and why not

Graham Dawson
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Eh?

Better than WRITING like they're in BENEATH a STEEL sky.

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Linux kernel purged of five-year-old root access bug

Graham Dawson
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True!

Every time I'm required to reboot my machine for some reason I laugh and laugh and laugh...

I haven't laughed for about six months.

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Perseid meteors - brace for endazzlement

Graham Dawson
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Joke

Clear skies then.

What, you think they'll get it right?

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Elon Musk plans new Mars rockets bigger than Saturn Vs

Graham Dawson
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I do indeed mean fission.

I blame global warming.

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Graham Dawson
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Wrong!

Fusion doesn't burn rocks. Burning is a chemical reaction, not a nuclear reaction. And plutonium isn't a rock.

...

I know, I know...

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Graham Dawson
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Boffin

Nope

Shekels were also a measure of weight. One shekel is 11.3 grams or 0.4 ounces. The kikar was 60 mannehs, or 3600 shekels. The reason shekels are associated with money is because they were convenient amounts of gold to make coins from.

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Eagles singer wins case against US politico

Graham Dawson
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He does, but he isn't required to

The law in the US allows parody as part of fair use. Weird Al is just being courteous, he has no actual obligation to request permission. The fact that he asks does not if any way negate the fact that his parodies fall under fair use, and that his right to make them would be threatened if fair use provisions were taken away (if consent is granted and then later removed because the parody isn't liked any more, for instance).

You should not need to ask in order to parody something. That's a very dark path to walk.

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DfT denies deliberately misleading on speed cam stats

Graham Dawson
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How so?

Given that, from year to year, you can get that much of a change in accident rates through mere chance, it's not a very reliable metric. There is no real comparison, except to say that accident rates at the place where the camera was placed dropped by an amount that is actually within the bounds of statistical error. You can have a 100% change in accident rates on a particular stretch of road from year to year without changing anything, so any claim made for a camera would have to be very, very thoroughly researched and evidenced. So far that hasn't been the case, and what evidence has been presented is usually found lacking on closer examination. As in, they claim one figure and then later claim another.

What about all the places where cameras haven't been placed?

What about accidents that happen just out of the range of the camera?

And what about all the accidents that happen within the bounds of the speed limit? Despite the propaganda the problem isn't speed, it's lack of awareness and distraction caused by too much street furniture - including speed cameras. Bad driving, in other words, to which speed merely adds a little more energy. The number of accidents I've seen happen just before passing a camera are too many to list (and, yes, anecdotal - but they were all caused by people who were, up to that point, driving safely though a little over the proscribed speed, suddenly hitting the brakes in order to avoid getting flashed by the camera with the inevitable result of a rear-end collision).

Speed can increase the damage caused by an accident but speed, by itself, doesn't kill. You can be killed by someone driving at 20 if they hit you right.

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ISS suffers coolant pump failure

Graham Dawson
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Reverse polarity!

They need to divert power through a secondary conduit and alter the phase flow of the main relay junction before the subatomic harmonising field flow destabilises and DESTROYS EVERYTHING!!

Beam me coat back, Scotty, I need to leave...

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'Death to browsers!' cries Apple mobile-app patent

Graham Dawson
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Troll

We do?

Based on the last few decades I think it's fairer to say that we elect governments in order to relieve ourselves of the burden of making decisions about anything more dangerous than what clothes to wear. Apple and the State are well suited to each other since they both have the same basic drive; control.

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Global warming brings peace and happiness

Graham Dawson
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And that would make them...

... bed wetters at both ends of the time scale?

I know, I know...

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Daily Mail promotes 'the new Betamax'

Graham Dawson
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But...

Will that cause the price of your house to rise or fall?

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Boeing's 'Phantom Eye' Ford Fusion powered stratocraft

Graham Dawson
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A gripe

It's not carbon. It's carbon dioxide. It may seem like a quibble but one is black elemental substance that takes a variety of solid forms and the other is an odourless, colourless gas. Both are absolutely essential for all life on this planet to continue surviving. We could argue forever about the whole glbal warming thing but please, please for the love of GOD please call it by it's proper name. "Carbon" makes people think if sticky black smoke and powdered pencil leads and creates a false image of what is actually being released.

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Google fashions Android dev kit for dummies (from Scratch)

Graham Dawson
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You've obviously never worked in a business environment...

Those fart apps are probably the only thing most middle managers have their super-duper-special smartphones for.

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Robotic cargo spacecraft misses rendezvous with ISS

Graham Dawson
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Don't knock it.

If they are running it on tubes (unlikely, but for the sake of argument) then it'd be a hell of a lot better at surviving in orbit than more modern equipment. Vacuum tubes aren't particularly susceptible to the effects of cosmic rays and solar wind, which can easily bugger up solid-state circuitry and leave a satellite completely non-functional. They're also more tolerant of temperature extremes than solid-state ICs, which would mean they were more capable of surviving the rigours of space flight with relatively less complex cooling equipment.

Just because something is old technology doesn't make it worse in every possible situation. It's often more robust, cheaper, and easier to use.

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Google open-video codec goes experimental

Graham Dawson
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FAIL

So what you're saying is...

...don't compete. Because you might regret it. Nice little codec you got here, shame if anything were to happen to it...

Yeah, that's real friendly that is.

For the record their comparison was with a very old version of VP8.

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Humongous star ejects jumbo jellyfish

Graham Dawson
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Is it me?

... or does the Andromeda galaxy look like the Black Hole from the Disney film of the same name?

In, through... and beyond.

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GCHQ imposes Whitehall iPhone ban

Graham Dawson
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I noticed that.

Ditched my ipod touch for similar reasons. I was using it more as an internet reader than a music player anyway so a second-hand n810 was far more up my alley.

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New prototype US spy satellite rushed into active use

Graham Dawson
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Or...

... they could have finally found a useable 3g signal for their O2 phone.

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Aussies face 10 year browsing lock-up

Graham Dawson
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Unhappy

Nah...

They'd just do you for spamming.

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Suspended-animation cold sleep achieved in lab

Graham Dawson
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Boffin

Huh...

I must be permanently on the verge of dying, then. My core body temperature has always been 35.5 or thereabouts. And I've always needed a nice warm rock to lie on before I can really get going in a morning...

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Penguin chief: Linux must 'out fabulous' Apple's iPhone

Graham Dawson
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A N Other Title

"Your iApp isn't rejected on moral grounds - but demographic. Too adolescent. Too down-market."

Unlike all those fart apps?

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Apple lifted 'make web go away' button from open source

Graham Dawson
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Well I stil don't believe it.

S'there!

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Graham Dawson
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Cite?

"But of course, many of those who are currently blithering against Apple also get all hot and bothered against the GPL."

Sorry to be a pain in the arse but I don't believe that.

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Prisoner of iTunes - the iPad file transfer horror

Graham Dawson
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Joey?

I SUSPECT he has been PLAYING Beneath a Steel Sky JUST a LITTLE TOO much.

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Sneaky bin chipping still in the bag for UK.gov

Graham Dawson
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Black Helicopters

Mickey, you are closer than you think.

"one day there will be a directive governing the minutiae of what is written in august journals such as this, and you will be out of a job."

Already being mooted by the toy parliament and probably being drafted by the bureaucracy as we speak.

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Graham Dawson
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And the money for this comes from...

... where? I know it won't be from "recycling" since most of it ends up in landfill anyway (thus incurring an EU-imposed landfill tax - which is why the push for recycling has been so voluble and vigorous to start with) or ends up being stored in huge warehouses while it waits for a slow boat to China. None of which brings in money.

So where does the money come from? I'd have to assume it comes from taxation of some form. This is going to add another cost burden to a state that is already faced with a huge spending deficit.

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ID card scheme barely broke 13,000 mark, minister confirms

Graham Dawson
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"Card refunds or credit for a future passport application will not be offered."

Good! Anyone stupid enough to sign up for this scam deserves to fwwl the pain of losing their money. Perhaps it will make them a little wiser in future.

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Apple's HTML5 'standards' hype debunked

Graham Dawson
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Oh nooooo...

Anonymous critique is one of the foundations of free speech.

However I quite happily bash apple with my name visible for all to see.

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Intel answers Microsoft's Linux 'noise' with MeeGo show

Graham Dawson
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And don't confuse either...

with market cap. MS is still bigger in terms of size, markets and asset value. Apple just has a big share bubble going at the moment and it'll shrink back somewhat once the new toy smell has faded.

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Queuing for an iPad? Why?

Graham Dawson
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Android

There us already an Android-on-iPhone project out there. I think it wad evfn reported on el reg a while back. It looks quite nifty - as long ac you don't mind loaning part of your soul to google. :)

I might try it now I've nobbled myself a second-hand n810. It'll give me a nifty project.

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Graham Dawson
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Yet...

For all my own complaints about the iPo/ad (surprisingly enough the inability to watch videos on Cracked finally drove me off the damn thing) at least nobody is forcing people to buy them and removing access to any other sort of computer device.

Yet.

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X-51 hypersonic scramjet test: Flameout at Mach 5?

Graham Dawson
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Er...

Obviously meant as a reply further down. Oops.

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Graham Dawson
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FAIL

Wrong!

Knowing where to put the sensors and knowing what the sensors will say are two very different things. They will have created computer models of the craft before building the real thing, which will have given them an idea of where potential problem sites and useful areas to monitor will be; what it won't tell them is what actually happens there. The sensors will tell them how close their model us to reality. With the new data they can improve the model and use that to inform the next round of physical tests, thus improving the actual machine.

The first time someone looked at Saturn they had no idea what they would see, but they still knew where to look. This is the same principle.

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Windows 3.0 turns 20

Graham Dawson
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What?

Aren't you thinking of your quondam days?

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Brit honeybees crawl through rotten winter

Graham Dawson
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Boffin

Insulation

I have a friend who keeps bees and something he mentioned to me might be the reason for all these lost hives. Common belief has become that hives should be extremely well insulated, which he hadn't heard despite being a keeper for years. He tried it, and the bees all came flying out on a very cold day and promptly died. The other hives, the ones that he hadn't insulated to this degree, survived the whole winter without any problems.

Based on this tiny, tiny sample I suspect that fashionable nonsense has killed these bees. Such is life.

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Robothopter in biomimetic butterfly boffinry breakthrough

Graham Dawson
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So now we can control the weather!

At last! The artificial butterfly effect!

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Climate change 'no excuse' for failure to beat malaria

Graham Dawson
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Malaria is not a hot country disease

The whole blather about malaria seems to be based on the belief that it's a disease of warm countries. This is bullshit, to be frank. Malaria was quite happily killing people as far north as southern Sweden until it was wiped out by improvements in hygiene and was most rampant in England during the little ice age. The idea that it will spread north in warmer weather is based on ignorance or some sort of bizarre confirmation bias that only ever sees global warming as the cause of everything.

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Mechanic drove three miles with angry bloke on bonnet

Graham Dawson
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At least...

... they couldn't charge him with being Tall in the presence of a police officer. Probably got him for glancing with intent to eyeball instead.

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Security guard admits he hacked hospital PCs

Graham Dawson
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Context

DDOS a HVAC system in a hospital, on one of the hottest days in the year, in a city where it would be considered a cool day when the tarmac is melting.

In a hospital, remember. People in hospitals are often more sensitive to extreme temperatures than normal. Too much heat and they *will* die. Not might. Will.

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Cameron aims to bring LibDems into government

Graham Dawson
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Welcome

Proportional Representation?

You lot seem to be forgetting that we don't actually vote for party, we vote for a representative in our constituency. Lib Dems might get X% of the vote across the nation but that's irrelevant: each constituency gets the MP the majority votes for. An MP is meant to be part of his local community (yes I know how broken that is these days but that's now it's meant to be) and they're meant to represent their constituents in Parliament. PR would create the final divorce between the electorate and their representatives in Parliament as MPs would be chosen from party lists, and there'd be absolutely no incentive for them to maintain any links with the constituencies at all.

Look at Europe, where they have PR in most countries. Every election there's a kingmaker or two, a little party that always finagles it's way into the government even if it's composed entirely of lunatics. In Belgium they've had to hold more elections in the last two years than we've had in the last decade because the government keeps collapsing. It doesn't "moderate" the actions of the state either; if anything they're more likely to come up with badly written laws that go against the will of the people, because the PR system gives inordinate power to the "little parties", the ones who by their nature do not represent even a small plurality of the electorate.

Look at it this way: PR would put the BNP into Parliament and, judging by the number votes they got, would give them enough influence to weasel their way into a coalition.

IF change is demanded then I'd say use the single transferable vote rather than a "pure" proportional representation. It seems to work just fine in Australia. And Scotland, for that matter; they use it in their local elections.

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Ubuntu's Lucid Lynx: A (free) Mactastic experience

Graham Dawson
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Try ksplice

It can patch and "restart" your kernel without needing to reboot. Very handy.

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Graham Dawson
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WTF?

Erm... what?

First, I haven't had to do anything more complex than a few clicks to get a new app installed or recognise and format a new drive for the last eight years or so. There's very little that actually requires a complete reboot in nearly all Linux distros, unlike Windows... in fact I'd say, apart from the nonsense CLI stuff and the kernel recompile (and who ever needs to do that these days?), your post described windows more accurately than any Linux distro I've ever used. And how is restarting the gui worse than restarting the entire OS? Down and up in a couple of seconds vs waiting long enough to make a cup of coffee which, I suppose, would be a pain if you actually *wanted* that coffee.

What I'm trying to say is, you're full of it. :)

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Lights out at Lala - Apple shutters music service

Graham Dawson
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Alert

Most humans?

I'm by no means superhuman nor an audiophile (As far as I'm aware my hearing is not particularly acute and rather average), but I can definitely notice the difference between a decently encoded mp3 and "raw" digital audio. They sound flat and lifeless. Worse than a cassette tape in some cases, sans hiss. Mushy.

Of course, the way cds are mixed these days, most people wouldn't be able to hear the difference anyway given that the music they're listening to has been clipped and peaked until it has almost no range at all. It's like listening to a wall of noise. They might as well be badly compressed mp3s the way they're squashed and munged until there's no life left. Go search for "the loudness war" on youtube, you'll see what I'm talking about.

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New drug spray 'makes men as soppy as girls'

Graham Dawson
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Another way to look at it

Introducing a large dose of a particular hormone into a relatively balanced system will create a severe hormonal imbalance, resulting in a subsequent inability to mediate emotional responses. They're screwing with these guys brain chemistry and creating an emotional imbalance.

Showing more emotion doesn't equate to increased empathy any more than lacking visible emotion equates to less empathy. Empathy is the ability to understand and identify with others and most people (yes, this includes both sexes) are more than capable of demonstrating high empathy without showing highly visible emotions. The fact that women tend to show more visible emotion when they're empathising is just a quirk of nature. Each behaviour is desirable within its own setting, but the idea that you can turn men into more empathetic creatures by disturbing the chemical balance of their brain strikes me as a little disturbing as it assumes the female way of showing emotion is the better way in all situations. It isn't.

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Should you own your own data?

Graham Dawson
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No!

And here's me thinking it was soy, lentils and tartrazine! Oh noes!

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Obama: We're off to Mars

Graham Dawson
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Yes

Given that the closest star is a mere 4 light years away and assuming you have sufficient fuel and thrust to reach 99% of light speed, figure maybe six months or a year for the mission itself, that's an 8 or 9 year round trip earth relative time. So they'd age a year or two, we'd age eight, everyone would still be here.

It's when you're off flying to Lave or Achenar that you have to worry about whether anyone will still be around when you get back.

<-- Uhm... yeah, the one with the NERD FAIL tag on the back thanks.

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New ISS machine makes water from waste CO2

Graham Dawson
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Surprisingly hard to cool in space

It's a lot harder than you think to cool off in space. Whilst the vacuum of space is damn cold, it's also lacking one thing that makes cooling efficient: air. On earth, it's possible to efficiently cool your computer using a combination of radiation and air convection. In space you only have radiation, which isn't particularly efficient. The use of radiators in shady spots mitigates the situation, but placing the computer equipment "outside" wouldn't really help matters much and would have the additional problem of requiring the equipment to be rated for use in a vacuum.

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Memristors can maybe learn like synapses

Graham Dawson
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Forced eh?

"simulating an atomic explosion is a simple task with limited variables?"

Actually yes. It may be surprising, but the big thing about simulating a nuclear explosion isn't the variables, which are relatively few and well understood, but the volume of interactions. Pattern recognition is a whole different ballgame and is something computers are still pretty much crap at, in part because pattern recognition requires a certain amount of abstract understanding of the world. It requires context. Computers can't do context (which incidentally is why we're getting all this crap about the semantic web being reduced to people sticking tags on everything to provide a substitute for context), at least partly because, however massively parallel they might be, each processor thread is isolated from the others. So whereas a nuclear simulation might have each thread controlling the evolution of a single particle, you can't apply that model to the recognition of an image and expect to get the same performance as an actual brain - simply because the brain doesn't work like that.

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McKinnon's mum stands against Straw at general election

Graham Dawson
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Hung parliament, not anarchy

There's no actual law requiring the majority parliament to form the government. We elect MPs, allegedly to represent us in parliament and the convention is that the majority party forms the government. However, the Queen is the person to "asks" the leader of the majority party to be her Prime Minister and form a government of ministers ash so chooses. Were the independents to become the largest block of MPs the Queen could simply say "this is the largest party" and ask one of them to form a government. Or she could ask the leader of one of the other parties to form the government. If she wanted to be really cruel she could pick the party with the least number of MPs and ask their leader to form a government. Imagine Broon being made PM again without even enough votes to decide what's on the Stranger's Bar lunch menu. It'd be poetic, if nothing else.

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