* Posts by Richard Gadsden

211 posts • joined 6 Nov 2007

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BIG FAT Lies: Porky Pies about obesity

Richard Gadsden

Re: Political Bias? - "rich and porky Tory MPs"

Nicholas Soames

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Hardened Hydrazine the source of Galileo satnav FAIL

Richard Gadsden

UDMH

UDMH was invented because it has a much lower freezing point than regular hydrazine for exactly this reason.

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'Disruptive innovation' is nonsense? Not ALWAYS, actually

Richard Gadsden

Re: Sorry, Bell Labs...

This is a highly-specialised meaning of disruptive, as meaning "there is already an industry making X; a disruptive technology appears, this makes Y; people making X go out of business." Transistors put valve makers out of business, but other than that, all the other new technologies were either greenfield (ie didn't put anyone out of business, but did something really new) or innovative rather than disruptive.

Take PCs: People using wordprocessors didn't replace people using typewriters; the same people switched from using one to the other. That's classic innovation rather than disruption. Email: disrupted the Post Office and Royal Mail, but didn't result in email-using-lawyers replacing letter-using-lawyers (so innovation, ie process-improvement, not disruption, ie business replacement).

Digital cameras were disruptive to film-makers, but innovative to camera-makers (Canon and Nikon were dominant in SLRs and still are in DSLRs).

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Richard Gadsden

Funnily enough, this is already a solved problem

Ever heard of public transport?

A lot more people want to travel during the peaks than in the middle of the day or in the evenings. But people don't like travelling by train if the last train is 7pm (they get worried about being trapped) so train operators need to run services until 11pm or so.

For commuter trains, they tend to run units in multiple in the peaks, and in single outside the peaks, so half the carriages sit idle outside the peaks. Most of those trains go and sit in the depot from 10am to 3/4pm and after 7pm.

It's difficult to shorten long-distance, high-speed services for technical reasons, so they tend to sell off the spare tickets cheap - that's where all those cheap advance tickets come from.

For the cars, they will need enough cars to move all peak-time travellers at once, which is about 90% of the number of commuter cars currently on the roads. The other 10% represents people who are off-sick, on holiday, working from home, etc on a particular day. At the moment, those cars are sitting parked outside that person's house; with automated shared-cars, they just won't have one come and pick them up.

But all the other cars, the ones that aren't used in the peaks in the first place, all of those disappear. Every retired person who still has a car, that goes - they rarely travel in the peak, so when they need a car, there will be plenty available.

Non-peak car travel will be cheaper, because the cars will be available. Peak-time commuting will be quite expensive.

Shifting to a renting model makes the prices more comparable to public transport, which might result in some commuters shifting to public transport. At the moment, if you need a car at all, you pretty much have to own one. Once you own one, using it for a journey is usually cheaper/better than using public transport. If you don't own a car, you're paying the capital costs amortised across each journey, the same as public transport - so they can compete on a journey-by-journey basis, and public transport is usually cheaper per mile.

If you live close enough to a city centre (I do) then you can choose not to own a car, use one of the on-line short-term rentals (car club, zipcar, etc) when you want to make a journey for which public transport isn't good, and use public transport when that is available. I expect that style will be much more widespread when you can live in a suburb and a car will turn up on your doorstep five minutes after you request one - especially as you can get the car to shuttle you to a train station, allowing a single station to cover a wider area.

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BEAM ME UP SCOTTY: Boffins to turn PURE LIGHT into MATTER

Richard Gadsden
Boffin

Re: Whats the matter?

Well, kinda. In QFT terms, fluctuations in the electron-positron field would be stabilised into quantised waves by the energy of the photons. QFT people tend to dislike "virtual particles" as confusing.

If the photons are energetic enough, then any particle/anti-particle pair can be formed; it's just that e-/e+ pairs are the lowest energy by miles, and really high-energy photons are a pain in the arse to deal with, which is why the experiment is so tricky.

You could get proton/anti-proton if you have 1870 times the energy in your ɣ/ɣ collision compared to the electron-positron pair. But getting 1870 times the energy, now there's the rub.

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Whoa! NUDE! SELFIES! for! Marissa! Mayer's! Blink-gobbling! Yahoo!

Richard Gadsden
Paris Hilton

Re: Serious Question

It's an acqui-hire.

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Urinating teen polluted 57 Olympic-sized swimming pools - cops

Richard Gadsden

Re: Homeopathy?

You mean the same as the opposite of drinking gallons of the stuff.

Remember that you homeopathically dilute something that causes a disease to cure it.

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WANTED: New head of crashingly expensive, error-prone and frankly cursed one-dole-to-rule-them-all system

Richard Gadsden

Re: I said this before .....

Just require them to put the algorithm in the legislation.

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Google Maps adds all UK public transport timetables

Richard Gadsden

Re: Cockfosters?

I'm going to follow on from Robin's move, as I think I do accept the various arguments put out. So:

Besses o' th' Barn. I appreciate that this bends the Northern rules a little, and may force someone into Nydd, but if you're smart, there is a way out...

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Blighty goes retro with 12-sided pound coin

Richard Gadsden

Re: Better

People hated pound coins when they first came in. The solution: withdraw pound notes. People got used to it.

The problem with the Septics is that they won't just stop printing dollar bills. They'll all disintegrate in a couple of years anyway and the coins will be the only option.

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POWER SOURCE that might END humanity's PROBLEMS: A step forward

Richard Gadsden

Re: Fusion & Free Clean Energy For All?

I just hope they remember to build the connection across North London.

Sod going to London, I want to bypass the blasted hell-hole and get to Paris or Brussels faster.

It's not the 30 mins you save from Brum to London, it's the hour you spend not walking from Euston to St Pancras and queueing up in St Pancras.

Brum-Paris in under three hours; Manchester-Paris in just over; Leeds-Paris in less than three-and-a-half.

Want to count the flights that won't happen as a result?

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Why Bletchley Park could never happen today

Richard Gadsden

Re: To H with privacy

That means abolishing privacy for everyone. Starting with the powerful. Hmmmmm.

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Richard Gadsden

Humint doesn't involve inserting spies, that's where the Bond image gets it wrong. It involves recruiting people who are on the inside.

Get an actual terrorist to give you information, don't send a Western spy-agency employee to pretend to be a terrorist.

Real spy-agency employees aren't spies; they're handlers, they're couriers, they're the conduit between the actual source and the home agency.

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Richard Gadsden

Re: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Competition. Have two organisations that each police the other. Institutional loyalty and competitive instincts will drive them to do a good job.

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Wireless charging snakes' wedding of tangled alliances gets WORSE

Richard Gadsden

Re: Standards

Plug standards? How many standards do you want today? Would sir want an IRAM 2073, or perhaps AS 3112, or BS 546, or BS 1363? How about a CEE7/4 or CEE7/5? A nice, juicy Italian CEI 23-16/VII? Then there are the NEMA selections, plain old NEMA 1-15, or the earthed options such as 5-15.

The IEC letters the standards from A to N.

The least standardised standard ever created.

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Dell revives WinPho handset brand for Win 8.1 fondleslabs

Richard Gadsden

If Dell are reviving a brand

How about Axim? I do actually have positive associations with Axim

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500 MEELLION PCs still run Windows XP. How did we get here?

Richard Gadsden

Re: Not The Whole Story

Not quite - it's the same codebase as XP64, but not standard (32-bit) XP.

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US House Republicans: 'End net neutrality or no debt ceiling deal' – report

Richard Gadsden

Re: That would be the British

I live in Manchester where the cotton workers refused to spin slave-grown cotton. Stuff off.

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Blighty's great digital radio switchover targets missed AGAIN

Richard Gadsden

Re: DAB. Don't want it. Don't need it.

"the only radio worth listening to is Radio 4"

Radio 5 Sports Extra lets you keep listening to TMS during the shipping forecast

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Glowing Nook knocked to under 50 quid for Xmas

Richard Gadsden

The lighting isn't as consistent or even as the paperwhite.

The device is a little bigger (screen's the same size), but that's because it has hardware page turn buttons.

Which means you can read it with gloves on - which you can't do with the paperwhite.

I use the Kindle in summer and switch to the Nook in winter because then I can read in the dark with gloves on, ie typical conditions on the way to and from work.

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UK.gov's e-Borders zombie still lurks under the English Channel

Richard Gadsden

Schengen

Please. Before HS2 is built.

So international trains can carry domestic passengers without creating chaos.

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First rigid airship since the Hindenburg cleared for outdoor flight trials

Richard Gadsden

Re: it will probably be an expensive @ Jess

I doubt that specific route will be a big deal; there's a freight route by rail from China to western Europe - takes 11-14 days for container freight (compared to 9 for passenger rail or 45 or so by sea). That's probably similar speed-wise to airships and certainly cheaper.

Several additional routes across Asia are being opened up at the moment (including ones that don't go through Russia - Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Iran-Turkey).

Trans-Pacific is the route that might be interesting for airships.

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Super-SVELTE BLUSH-PINK planet goes too far with star

Richard Gadsden

How unusual is this?

We don't know how rare this is yet. If it turns out to be relatively common, then we need to re-examine planet formation theories, but if it's unusual enough, then there are plenty of explanations for an unusual big distant planet.

Some suitable rare explanations:

* Capture of a "wandering planet" that was expelled from its original stellar system.

* Planet was disturbed from original orbit by a close encounter with another star

* Two stellar cores formed in the original star formation, and one (the future star) accreted much more material than the other, so instead of a binary system, we got a star and a Jovian.

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PHWOAR! Huh! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing, Prime Minister

Richard Gadsden

Re: Watershed

"some arbitrary time in the dead of night" 5:30 am. Facts wot most people can't remember.

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SkyDrive on par with C: Drive in Windows 8.1

Richard Gadsden

Re: "for those who are blessed with a decent broadband."

Silently syncing files in the background is how SkyDrive works.

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Are driverless cars the death knell of the motor biz?

Richard Gadsden

Re: Everyone seems to be conflating two separate ideas here

I don't know if you've noticed, but shared cars already exist - ZipCar and CityCarClub are the main UK providers - feel free to look for yourself in your own country.

You seem to be trying to prove impossible something that is already happening.

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Microsoft: Still using Office installed on a PC? Gosh, you squares

Richard Gadsden

Re: efficiency of word

Actually, there was a reason for that.

They used to append changes to the end of a file to save changes faster (in an old version of Word, you should find a "fast save" option). But the problem was that if you then emailed that file to someone, they could wind back the last few changes and find out about things you've now deleted from the file.

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Nominet resurrects second-level namespace plan: 'Before you say no...'

Richard Gadsden

Why should I want a TLD to be "competitive"?

How about "accurate"? I'd be quite content with paying slightly more (.co.uk is cheaper than .com) for accurate WHOIS, rolling out DNSSEC, IPv6 glue and making hijacking domains really difficult.

I liked the old Nominet rule that reassigning a domain required you to fill in and post a form. It made it hard to steal .uk domains.

I do see that they're giving first dibs to people who own .co.uk / .org.uk, which makes sense:

"A ‘right of first refusal’ would give registrants of existing .uk domain names at the third level (e.g. .co.uk, .me.uk, .org.uk etc) the opportunity to secure the corresponding registration at the second level. In the event of two competing claims, the oldest current, continuous registration would be given priority. The proposal is to run the right of first refusal for a 6 month period from launch."

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3-2-1... BOOM: Russian rocket launches, explodes into TOXIC FIREBALL

Richard Gadsden
Boffin

Re: OOps

It certainly is NTO/UDMH. That's one reason the fireball is so big; UDMH will burn in air at almost any concentration.

The Russians use nasty chemistry like this instead of plain old H2/O2 for launches because storable fuels were much superior for ICBMs than cryogenic ones (modern ICBMs are solid-fuel) and these rockets are all derived from ICBM rockets, rather than being redesigned from scratch.

NTO/UDMH is still used in-space because it comprises non-cryogenic liquids with a very low freezing point and therefore they stay liquid out to Saturn orbit; they're also a hypergolic mixture, which means no need for an ignition system. There really isn't a good alternative that's less chemically nasty; any two liquids that ignite on contact are likely to be pretty unpleasant.

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Something's going on with Google Reader but nobody knows what

Richard Gadsden
WTF?

Re: When's it due to end again?

I get redirect to https://www.google.com/reader/about/ now.

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Windows 8.1: 'It's good for enterprises, too,' says Redmond

Richard Gadsden

Re: I kinda like W8 Pro

Getting the button back will be really useful for Windows 2012 R2 - no start button was a huge pain when you're logged in via RDP (which is the way to log into servers, really).

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Richard Gadsden

Re: Windows 8.1: 'It's good for enterprises, too,' says Redmond

Yeah, it's annoying.

What they/you missed is that you can transfer the upgrade license from your old PC to a new one (can't transfer a particular licence more often than every 90 days), so, as long as the new PC has an OEM licence on it, you hold X number of UG licences, which matches your number of people and shuffle them from one machine to the next.

And yes, you do need SA as well to get Enterprise, though when the SA expires (after three years) you don't have to downgrade from Ent to Pro; you had Enterprise rights at the time, and the license is perpetual so they can't take them away again.

The reason for it all is so that Microsoft can maintain their position that every new PC has to have an OEM Windows licence on; if corporates were to start buying bare-metal PCs and sticking a full licence bought from VL on, then you'd be able to buy one for yourself and put Linux on it.

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Stay away from the light, Kodak! Look, here's $406m to keep you alive

Richard Gadsden

Re: Film Isn't Dead

Isn't that what Kodak's Ch11 is all about though, restructuring themselves as a small, niche, business?

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Microsoft Office 365 on iPhone NOW: No, we're not making this up

Richard Gadsden

US only so far

I'm sure Apple will put it in the UK store soon, though.

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US Supremes: Human genes can't be patented

Richard Gadsden
Boffin

Re: Hmmm

The supremes didn't affirm any such patent. They just said that it wasn't at question in the case at hand, so they weren't going to decide on it.

They said "this patent is invalid and these other patents are not affected" - that doesn't mean that those other patents are valid, it means come back and ask us about those other patents and we'll have a look at those if you need us to.

If you've read AJ Thomas' judgment, you'll see why they avoided those other questions; they spent a lot of time learning the science and they don't want to have to learn a load more about cDNA and replication techniques unless they really have to.

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NSA PRISM deepthroat VANISHES as pole-dance lover cries into keyboard

Richard Gadsden

Re: Here's what I'd really like to know

Start by getting a Top Secret clearance.

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Asus FonePad: You may feel a bit of a spanner

Richard Gadsden

Does anyone make a bluetooth handset?

Not a headset, a handset.

Decent speaker, decent mic, bluetooth, proper buttons for dialling and enough screen to look up a contact.

Something like a 6310i formfactor?

The fonepad would be perfect with one of those.

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Crusading lawmen want more details on Apple's iOS 7 'Activation Lock'

Richard Gadsden

Re: how does this hit resales?

Once you've put your ID and password in, you can then wipe to the real factory reset mode.

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1-in-10 e-tomes 'are self-published'... most are 'rubbish' says book ed

Richard Gadsden

Reading slush

Reading slush (unsolicited manuscripts of novels) is generally a terrible experience. There's an article from Teresa Nielsen Hayden (an editor at Tor) that lists the reasons things get rejected:

Herewith, the rough breakdown of manuscript characteristics, from most to least obvious rejections:

1. Author is functionally illiterate.

2. Author has submitted some variety of literature we don’t publish: poetry, religious revelation, political rant, illustrated fanfic, etc.

3. Author has a serious neurochemical disorder, puts all important words into capital letters, and would type out to the margins if MSWord would let him.

4. Author is on bad terms with the Muse of Language. Parts of speech are not what they should be. Confusion-of-motion problems inadvertently generate hideous images. Words are supplanted by their similar-sounding cousins: towed the line, deep-seeded, dire straights, nearly penultimate, incentiary, reeking havoc, hare’s breath escape, plaintiff melody, viscous/vicious, causal/casual, clamoured to her feet, a shutter went through her body, his body went ridged, empirical storm troopers, ex-patriot Englishmen, et cetera.

5. Author can write basic sentences, but not string them together in any way that adds up to paragraphs.

6. Author has a moderate neurochemical disorder and can’t tell when he or she has changed the subject. This greatly facilitates composition, but is hard on comprehension.

7. Author can write passable paragraphs, and has a sufficiently functional plot that readers would notice if you shuffled the chapters into a different order. However, the story and the manner of its telling are alike hackneyed, dull, and pointless.

(At this point, you have eliminated 60-75% of your submissions. Almost all the reading-and-thinking time will be spent on the remaining fraction.)

8. It’s nice that the author is working on his/her problems, but the process would be better served by seeing a shrink than by writing novels.

9. Nobody but the author is ever going to care about this dull, flaccid, underperforming book.

10. The book has an engaging plot. Trouble is, it’s not the author’s, and everybody’s already seen that movie/read that book/collected that comic.

(You have now eliminated 95-99% of the submissions.)

11. Someone could publish this book, but we don’t see why it should be us.

12. Author is talented, but has written the wrong book.

13. It’s a good book, but the house isn’t going to get behind it, so if you buy it, it’ll just get lost in the shuffle.

14. Buy this book.

If there was an filter on self-publishing that kicked out everything from 1-8, then I'd be happy to take chance on hitting a few 9s and 10s to get to the 11s and 13s that the editors are rejecting.

The problem that self-publishing should solve is the 13s (good novel; not commercial in the current market) can get published and find their market; mostly that will be only 5,000 readers, which isn't enough to be profitable for a publisher, but is still plenty for a self-publisher. Sometimes, the editor will be wrong and it will really sell (e.g. Dr Debra above).

The problem is that if you're picking through self-published stuff more or less at random, then you hit lots of 1-7s, or if you have a "wisdom of crowds" filtering system, then those often get gamed by spammers.

Add to that the problem that good novel-length writing needs real editing ("you've forgotten what happened to this character" "I've tried to lay out the events on a calendar/map and they don't work" - "this character had an unexplained personality transplant between book one and their reappearance in book four") as well as proof-reading and copy-editing, which, yes, self-published novelists can buy in, either by the hour or for a percentage, but most don't.

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Online music world on iRadio: Apple, imagine our concern

Richard Gadsden

Can you listen to the cricket on it?

TuneIn is great - you can listen to Test Match Special on it.

What's the point of iRadio if you can't listen to cricket on it?

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Singing astronaut Chris Hadfield resigns from Canadian Space Agency

Richard Gadsden

Re: Wise move.

The first man on Mars was John Boone, don't we all know that?

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Microsoft announces $499 price tag, new games for Xbox One

Richard Gadsden

Re: it's UK gamers who will be paying more than anyone else

Hey, Windows 8 has favourites in internet explorer now. Don't knock their localisation; only took them 18 years to get there.

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Never mind WinRT: Tiny Win8 slabs will ship with free Office, too

Richard Gadsden

Re: Actually, LibreOffice sucks too.

Real writers use Scrivener for book-length linear texts (novels, narrative history, etc).

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Amazon to deliver groceries in 20 markets by 2014

Richard Gadsden

Thawing on your doorstep?

None of the UK deliverers will deliver unless you're at home, but you book one-hour slots (usually going as late as 10pm), so it's not like you're left hanging around all day waiting for a delivery like furniture.

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Richard Gadsden

Re: Seemed obvious

And Sainsbury's and Ocado.

Very competitive market, and the supermarket chains don't need to build warehouses, as they just use their pre-existing shops.

For the Americans, you place an order for food, with a delivery time (a one-hour slot for delivery). A couple of times a day, various staff shoppers are given shopping lists and go around the supermarket to collect your delivery, which is then loaded into a chilled delivery vehicle (a big van / small truck, which has a small freezer compartment and the rest is chilled).

You see the (logo'd) delivery vans everywhere. Loads of people prefer to get their food shopping delivered.

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Sacked Zynga bods learn their jobs are gone via Facebook

Richard Gadsden

Laying people off before they go bust is a good thing

It means that the last scraps of money get paid as "severance" (ie redundancy) instead of going to the creditor-banks.

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Internet pioneer Vint Cerf predicts the future, fears Word-DOCALYPSE

Richard Gadsden

Re: Perhaps...

And if the presentation was created in 1997 using a version of PowerPoint earlier than 97?

Word file formats are different for Word/DOS, Word/Win1.0, Word 2.0, Word 6.0-95, Word 97-2003 and Word 2007-2013. Recent versions of Word can't read the Word 6/95 format, much less the three earlier ones; I'm sure PowerPoint is the same.

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BBC boffins ponder abstruse Ikea-style way of transmitting telly

Richard Gadsden

Re: The first thing I'd want ..

Turn off the bloody lens flare too.

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Microsoft SQL Server 14 man: 'Nothing stops a Hekaton transaction'

Richard Gadsden

Re: SQL 14 ??!!

Yes, it's SQL Server 2014, or v.12

I think we can safely assume that SQL 14 is the version after that (Microsoft don't do version 13).

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Google nuke thyself: Mountain View's H.264 righteous flame-out

Richard Gadsden

Re: Codec patents

If you want a good example of how physical patents should work, James Pickard patented a crank in 1780 as a mechanism for converting linear motion to rotary motion - ie for using a piston to turn a wheel (so allowing steam engines to drive many more types of machine).

Because it was a physical patent, it was only on that particular technique for converting linear motion to rotary, so when Pickard refused to license it to Watt, Watt used a sun-and-planet mechanism instead, which was not under the patent.

If it had been a software patent, it would have been "method for converting linear motion to rotary motion" and picking a different method would not have been enough.

... the point is that if you do a clean-room implementation and you don't come up with the same approach, then a patent shouldn't stop you. But software patents do.

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