* Posts by John H Woods

2170 posts • joined 14 Nov 2007

A 16 Petaflop Cray: The key to fantastic summer barbecues

John H Woods
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Re: Can anyone clarify?

I think there are a few terms mixed up here. First of all they have used 'certainty' as in 'degrees of certainty' when they could have just said "computational algorithms produce results indicating the probability that a given event [e.g. rain between 12:00 and 13:00 in Hyde Park] will take place"

The second paragraph seems to mean this: "Some customers prefer to make risk-based decisions, on the basis of probabilities: e.g. these customers will benefit from being told that the probability of the aforementioned event is 56% rather than being told 'it will rain' simply because the probability that it will is better than evens"

I noticed when I visited the USA that many people seemed happy with a forecast of "there's a 30% chance of snow" whereas the standard British response to this on a TV weather forecast seems to be "well, will it or won't it?" so I think they may have a cultural issue on their hands as well.

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Chips can kill: Official

John H Woods
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Re: The chief cause of death in laboratory rats...

When I was a scientist (a theoretician, my lab coat was reserved for teaching practicals and looked like I'd stepped out of a laundry detergent commercial), I was told that there were plans afoot to replace lab rats with lawyers, because:

1) There's only a finite number of rats in the world

2) Lab scientists can get attached to their rats

3) There's some things a self-respecting rat just won't do

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Soon your car won't let you drink. But it won't care if you're on the phone

John H Woods
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Re: Wake me up when my car can warn me about a stray hair

I thought you were worrying about a stray hair in the boot there for a minute ...

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Spy: Acres of comedy talent make this smart spook spoof an instant classic

John H Woods
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Re: if you're over 15

There it is again ... the supercilious attitude of those stating "X isn't funny" as a fact when it is quite clear that some people find X funny. You may not find The Big Bang Theory funny, but it really isn't because you are cleverer than every single person who does; you just have a different sense of humour. (NB: I'm not saying TBBT fans are cleverer than you, either.)

As for your own attempt at humour, spotting the jokes "long before the canned laughter man hits the button. Weeks before in some cases" ... really, don't give up the day job. This sort of unoriginal, highly formulaic prose lends very little to your implied claim about having a much more sophisticated appreciation for comedy.

[Edit: and doesn't everybody know that TBBT is filmed live without canned laughter?]

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John H Woods
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"(The Big Bang Theory is not funny and nor was Friends)" ---cambsukguy

if you can sit through an episode of either without laughing at least once, I'm not sure your opinion on what is funny is going to be of much use to me. It might be a bit easier to see where you are coming from if you told us what you do find funny.

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Kaspersky says air-gap industrial systems: why not baby monitors, too?

John H Woods
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Air Gap insufficient

It's really not going to be that long before some consumer devices hop directly onto 3/4G data services. Securing your router is not going to help you much here.

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The USB Lego, bluetooth coffee cups and connected cats of Computex 2015

John H Woods
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Re: I need more power...

"Such a far cry from my youth when our only forms of entertainment on a long trip was a coloring book, license plate bingo, and staring at the scenery" -- AC.

Tell me about it. One of my teens recently complained because there had been about 10 seconds of stuttering in an HD movie he was live-streaming to his tablet as we drove 200miles at around 70mph.

I took them to the NMoC at Bletchley to make them appreciate their kit (and their connectivity) a bit more; it was meant as revenge but they actually loved it.

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John H Woods
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Re: Hmm...

"Real Cat often referred to as the-thing-that-keeps-crapping-all-over-my-garden-instead-of-its-owners'." --- Doctor Syntax

Not pleasant, but better than the alternative you appear to be suggesting; at least you can frighten the cats off with a water pistol ... oh, hold on, new IoT thought ... off to Kickstarter ...

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China's hackers stole files on 4 MEELLION US govt staff? Bu shi, says China

John H Woods
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"HOWEVER, poor security doesn't necessarily obfuscate who the attacker was any more than if there had been good security ... the level and quality of the security that was breached is tangential ..." --- Badger Murphy

I disagree: the higher the level of security, the more restricted the pool of potential culprits. Some attacks are so sophisticated (Stuxnet?) that they are almost certainly nation-state sponsored; on the other hand, a very poorly secured system can be successfully attacked by a much wider range of attackers, including script kiddies and people emailing executable trojans. It must therefore be true that it is harder to justify allegations that a nation-state has attacked you if your security is of a level amenable to much less highly resourced attackers, unless you have very significant evidence of the origin of the attack.

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Ed Snowden should be pardoned, thunders Amnesty Int'l

John H Woods
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Re: What he did.

"None of them are in the slightest bit interested in any of us, they have neither the wherewithal, the time, or the money, and never will in any western democracy." -- Otto is a bear.

Somebody missed their history classes.

"Do you really think any government would leave a communications channel completely unmonitored"

Yes, I'd like to think that they don't have microphones in my house. Are you actually presenting a serious point of view? The words in your post look cogent enough but your arguments make pretty much no sense at all.

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John H Woods
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Re: Sometimes it helps to be old

@boltar,

First you were arguing that people should be guilty unless they could prove their innocence (negative proof fallacy, as well as fundamentally opposed to good jurisprudence); now you're arguing that because agencies have done bad things in the past they should really be allowed to carry on doing it (fallacy of relative privation, maybe some others).

I'm expecting a zig-zag to some form of cultural relativism next ...

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Why did Snowden swipe 900k+ US DoD files? (Or so Uncle Sam claims)

John H Woods
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Re: I know I'm in a minority on here

"you're a smart bunch, but some of us have seen the other side you don't" --AC

How fscking patronizing ... "I'm in possession of secret information that shows that I'm right and you are wrong." You really expect to persuade anyone of anything with that sack of horseshit?

"I value other peoples opinions on this ... we will always have a different opinion ... that's all from me on this."

I really fscking hope you don't do anything significant for national security. What a total dimwit you are.

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FBI: Apple and Google are helping ISIS by offering strong crypto

John H Woods
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Re: Dear ThreeLetterAgencies. Fuck You.

"Many of us grew up in countries where terrorism was a daily threat, we lived with it, we didn't let it affect us" --- big_D

Absolutely. Not only were the IRA and the Baader-Meinhof gang a real and credible threat where I grew up as a child (JHQ Rheindahlen), but the far bigger threat was the sick, authoritarian society just over the wall that was going to roll tanks over Europe and take away all the rights we had fought so hard for. Unfortunately, we didn't see the sick authoritarian society approaching from the opposite point of the compass ...

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Your servers are underwater? Chill OUT, baby – liquid's cool

John H Woods
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Air cooling has some other problems, too ...

... zinc whiskers? Or would that also be a problem with these liquid coolants?

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We stand on the brink of global cyber war, warns encryption guru

John H Woods
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Re: Anybody who uses the term "cyber" in this context ...

I disike the prefix "cyber-", quite possibly for many of the same reasons you do. But it's here and it's going to stay; language evolves, quite often in ways one deprecates, but one has to accept it. And I might even agree that most people using the term "can probably be safely ignored" - but this is Bruce Schneier; so it's unlikely we can so easily consider him a member of that category.

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Mass break-in: researchers catch 22 more routers for the SOHOpeless list

John H Woods
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Re: The old way

"... you are usually free to discard the ISP provided router ..." -- AC

It's usually possible, but for a non-zero number of large ISPs, it's a breach of your contract conditions. Most likely they will just not provide you their support (not a huge loss) but they could conceivably degrade your service for the remainder of your contract without you having much recourse.

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GCHQ gros fromage stays schtum on Snowden and snooping

John H Woods
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Re: Perpetuating ignorance

Hi Vic,

According to this page from the US Department of State, there were 16 deaths of private US citizens at the hands of terrorists, worldwide: 12 in Afghanistan, 3 in Algeria and 1 in Lebanan. NB: 0 deaths in the USA.

Now I think there were more than 16 deaths caused by children aged 5 or under in the USA that year but it's tricky to track down (wonder why?) and I'm on my coffee break so time is limited. But there were definitely more than zero (the number of Homeland deaths) --- in April 2013 alone I've found, in the time it takes to drink a latte, Brandon Holt (6), NJ; Josephine Fanning (48), TN; and Caroline Sparks (2), KY. --- I did put the hrefs in an earlier version of this message but lost it when I accidentally hit the back button. But if you Google the name and state in each case you will find the stories.

I also found this statistic on CNN: "In 2010, 13,186 people died in terrorist attacks worldwide; in that same year, in America alone, 31,672 people lost their lives in gun-related deaths, according to numbers complied by Tom Diaz – until recently, a senior analyst at the Violence Policy Center. "

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John H Woods
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Re: Perpetuating ignorance

"Unfortunately the bad guys are growing exponentially"

Ah, poor little frightened child. There have always been "bad guys", but they are most certainly NOT "growing exponentially". For goodness' sake, a few bods from this forum could cripple significant amounts of UK infrastructure in a week; your so-called "Bad Guys" just aren't that frightening.

Frinstance:

Some nutters:

Anders Brevik: Lone nutter killed 77. Virginia Tech weirdo, ditto, 32 deaths. GermanWings shithead pilot, 150 deaths.

Now, some frightening terrorists:

Boston Marathon: guys with bombs and guns in a huge crowd, managed to kill 6.

Hebdo Attackers: 4 guys in body armour, AK47s, SMGs, and a fscking rocket/grenade launcher: 12 deaths.

On a militaristic level, that is pathetic. 3 deaths each? If I didn't care about what happened to me, because I was going to "heaven" or some other childish afterlife, I could kill more people in the supermarket armed with a kitchen knife, probably even with my bare hands, let alone fscking body armour and an AK. Yet we are terrified of these people, why? In 2013 more Americans were killed by toddlers than terrorists. We are absolutely not swamped by jihadis.

Of course, you MAY be killed by a terrorist. But your irrational fears aren't getting paid for with my liberty. If you hunt all sharks to extinction, you won't get killed by a shark, but the collateral damage would be colossal. Maybe you don't care about sharks, and maybe you don't care about liberty. But if you're going after either, you'd better have a more rational argument than "oh my god i'm so frightened..."

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Fanbois designing Windows 10 – where's it going to end?

John H Woods
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Re: A novel idea?

Indeed. If your testing finds that a majority of people prefer mode X, but a significant minority prefer mode Y, you introduce a feature to switch between the two and default it to X.

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Sawfish are the VIRGIN MARYS of the SEA thanks to virgin births

John H Woods
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Re: Some Female Lizards in the Wild

"...entirely clones. I've never understood how that can work in the long term." --- Mage

Although sexual selection does seem to offer some benefits, it is absolutely not a requirement for reproduction or evolution. If you are wondering how anything can actually evolve in the absence of sexual selection, well, mutation provides much of the heritable variety in large groups of organisms.

It's been a long time since I was a geneticist, but certainly when I was, it was not entirely clear what the specific advantages of sexual reproduction were (although it was clear there must be some). I think there are some reasonably hypotheses now. The Wikipedia page seems to be of a reasonable quality (in common with much of the scientific content) if you're interested.

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Fish boffins: Big-brain babes are brilliant, but benefit for boys is bijou

John H Woods
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Got to log off ...

... just going to the tattoo parlour

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Apple: Relax, fanbois! We never meant to read your heart rate during wild wrist action

John H Woods
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"Apple's update to the Watch software had alarmed some folk, who suddenly spotted that fewer records of their heart rate were being stored on the device.

Some fanbois suggested that Apple was grappling with a bug. Not so, apparently.

Yup, it's a feature, not a bug ..."

Non-pathological vendor approach: update has new feature; is explained in update release notes; perhaps even include a settings option which can change the default, albeit defaulted to the new behaviour.

PS @Mephistro, I agree that this may be to protect privacy during "private moments" (I can't see any other reason, surely if you really want to measure your pulse 24x7 you don't want to only measure it at rest. But I'm stunned at your suggestion that revealing such moments could be "the cause of lots of divorces?" Seriously?

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The rare metals debate: Only trace elements of sanity found

John H Woods
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Re: Tim Worstal ...

"All publicity is good publicity....as long as they spell the name right ... Worstall"

Apologies; I know what it feels like to have your final consonant trimmed - at least yours is silent :-)

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John H Woods
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Tim Worstal ...

... the thinking man's Jeremy Clarkson (and I mean that as a compliment) - he just punches you in the face with his logic.

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Creationist: The Flintstones was an accurate portrayal of Dino-human coexistence

John H Woods
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Re: so...

"Mr Ham has asserted that scientists cannot claim to have proof of their theories if they weren’t there at the time to observe those theories in action."

Also, all court verdicts are invalid.

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NEVER MIND the B*LLOCKS Osbo peddles, deficits don't really matter

John H Woods
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Re: Impulsive voting

"Pointing out to these people that the coalition had actually increased the national debt more in their term of office than the previous three administrations" -- John H Woods [sources: Govt figures reported by the Office for National Statistics, supported from comment I have read in the FT, The Spectator (both mentioned in my comment) and The Economist].

"This is a pretty dishonest argument though, in that the trajectory of national debt was set during the administration of the previous government" -- I ain't Spartacus [sources: ?]

You haven't even quoted enough evidence to support a disagreement with me, let alone call me dishonest. This is exactly the type of dismissive disengaged, blaming-the-others, political argument that I am railing against "Pah, these people are obviously stupid and/or decietful ... this is how it is ... it's quite obvious that this was down to the previous administration ..."

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John H Woods
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Re: Impulsive voting

@DocJames,

That is the meaning I intended --- no so much a mix of right and left leading to a "centrist" position, as John Sager suggested, but a scenario where one does not really define one's views by picking part of this 'left-right spectrum'. For instance, I'm a pretty committed environmentalist but despite (actually I would say because of) that, I am extremely pro-nuclear. I'm probably left-of-centre regarding healthcare availibility and educational opportunities, but in other respects I could be considered a right-wing small-state libertarian. I'm also an ardent supporter of British armed forces and believe the UK should project its military power overseas whenever it is justified (not too many of my Guardian reading friends would agree, I suspect).

In the article, Tim is separating the big-state/small-state argument from the austerity/stimulus argument, and this is an approach I find extremely encouraging: having a situation where you can evaluate evidence and engage in constructive and considered debate without the "All of those people just want to destroy our country" vs "All of those people just want to kill the poor" shouting which just generates a lot more heat than light.

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John H Woods
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Impulsive voting

Voting seems to me to largely a matter of feeling rather than thinking. I came across numerous people before the UK general election who supported a continued Coalition or a Conservative government on the basis that "there's no doubt that we are [as a country] a lot better off now" Most of them felt that this statement was, in effect, its own evidence.

Those few who felt any need for actual evidence would talk about "The National Debt", and how Labour governments borrowed recklessly whilst the Coalition had been more prudent and circumspect. Pointing out to these people that the coalition had actually increased the national debt more in their term of office than the previous three administrations combined was met with general disbelief, whether I quoted official statistics or those well known left-biased media the Financial Times and the Spectator.

I made it clear when discussing with these people that I didn't think the level of national debt, either in absolute terms or as %GDP, was the sole (or even a particularly important) indicator of the health of an economy, and that other arguments could be made in support of an argument that the Coalition had been more economically prudent. Very few people took me up on that, most preferred to stick to their guns by simply disbelieving my "claim" that the national debt had increased.

And this is the essential problem, not just with voters, but the people they vote in. Tribal allegiances appear to be more important than actually thinking about things, examining evidence and coming to conclusions. I would actually have preferred a totally hung parliament, so that things had to be achieved by people actually discussing things rather than the shameful school-playground-level tit-for-tat shouting show that seems to pass for sensible debate in the UK Parliament.

In this context, of course, it is easy to see why both parties prefer to conflate the two points that Tim has distinguished in this article. Labour won't come right out and say that they prefer a big state; that it would be better for the country and here are the reasons. Hell, they didn't even seem comfortable proposing anything other than a slightly milder austerity. (I bet most voters felt, bloody hell, if we have to have austerity, we might as well have the guys we can rely upon to give it to us!) The Conservatives, similarly, prefer not to say they advocate a small state, but to present it as the only reasonable choice for a functioning economy and pretty much to imply that anyone who disagrees with them is irresponsible and/or stupid.

The voters, therefore, catch on to simplistic arguments (which they mostly do not even understand) that show them that the political party with which they disagree must be composed of stupid, if not downright evil, people, rather than people who hold different views with whom it might be possible to come to some mutual agreements on at least some subjects. So we swing constantly between two suboptimal compositions of parliament with apparently no way out of this cycle.

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City of birth? Why password questions are a terrible idea

John H Woods
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Set your own questions ...

My erstwhile boss had something like:

Q: "I hope you don't think you're going out dressed like that, young lady!"

A: "I'll go out dressed how I like, I hate you and you aren't my real dad anyway!"

Ironically when these Q&A pairs get funny enough, you usually can't resist telling someone else ...

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Robocalling Americans? That'll cost you $1.7 MEEELLION

John H Woods
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Method already invented ...

it's called the audio captcha, e.g.

"Hello, please answer the following questions by speaking the answer or pressing the keys on your telephones. What is 2 plus 5?"

"7"

"What is 3 times 2?"

"6"

"Putting you through now ... *ring* *ring*"

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Hi! You've reached TeslaCrypt ransomware customer support. How may we fleece you?

John H Woods
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Re: How

Some people are really operating on the very edge - or beyond - their comfort zone when using a computer. I dealt with a cryptomalware case recently where a lady had phoned BT to complain about her broadband. Two days later 'BT' phoned her back and gave her 'lots of instructions' which she followed. "Wouldn't you?" she asked. "No", I said: "I wouldn't make modifications to my washing machine because people claiming to be Severn Trent Water had phoned me up"

The lady in question is not an idiot, far from it. But you have to be online these days, it's almost impossible not to be. And computers used to be so crap that often you did get help (from software or hardware vendors) over the telephone, so people are still in that oh-my-god-i-can't-do-it mode and are still prepared to trust a friendly and confident voice on the phone belonging to anyone who claims to be from any remotely technological company.

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Are we looking at the first domain name meme? Neigh

John H Woods
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Re: I'm off to register

I'm not visiting your bloody website!

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Amazon cloud to BEND TIME, exist in own time zone for 24 hours

John H Woods
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Re: Why have you used ...

>>> oops I meant 21 Oct 15 (this year) thank you for your tolerance

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John H Woods
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Why have you used ...

... a hoax BttF date, rather than the real one (Oct 15 this year?)

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Nissan CEO: Get ready, our auto-wagons will be ready by 2020

John H Woods
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Motorbike safety...

"Motorbikes are faster, cheaper, and more efficient than most cars. They also get through traffic a lot better. The problems come principally from safety concerns, wet weather, and load capacity." -- LucreLout.

Perhaps there will be fewer safety problems when most of the cars are bots?

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Microsoft: Free Windows 10 for THIEVES and PIRATES? They can GET STUFFED

John H Woods
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Re: 7 to 8 ...

"No, hopefully your kids have learned their lesson and will stay clear of Windows."

:-) Dual boot; Windows used only for Windows-only games. Hopefully won't be necessary for too much longer ...

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John H Woods
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7 to 8 ...

My kids had OEM W7, they bought the upgrade-only media for W8, and updated without a problem. Sometime later, the disk failed. I chanced my arm and tried to reinstall W8 on the replacement HDD using the media, even though it said it could only be used for upgrades. The install proceeded and initially appeared successful, but resulted in a non-activated (and non-activatable) copy of Windows 8 with a message explaining this was because I had used an upgrade, not a full licence. However, it turned out this copy of Windows could be "upgraded" (to itself!) with the same W8 upgrade media, and then it became active!

I wonder if they might make the same mistake with the upgrade to W10?

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Don't look now: Fujitsu ships new mobe with EYEBALL-scanning security

John H Woods
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There must be a better way ...

... how about a small battery powered Bluetooth device (belt buckle? pocketable widget?). Or an RFID-bearing piercing of some kind?

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Mobe network Three is the magic number for FreedomPop

John H Woods
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"100mb / month? Waste of time. What are the charges when you go over this?" -- x 7

Yes, maybe useful for geotrackers or low data devices, but phones? My mobile data usage is 10-30GB/mo, which Three provide, bless 'em, for £15. They even throw in 300 mins of calls and 3000 texts.

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Scot Nationalists' march on Westminster may be GOOD for UK IT

John H Woods
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Question

Since when did 'sceptical about the desirability of Orwellian dragnet surveillance' become 'libertarian'?

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Swedish Supreme Court keeps AssangeTM in Little Ecuador

John H Woods
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Re: Rough guess

Can't see any problem with a Rough order of Magnitude estimate of a plod being £100k pa. But "cost to the taxpayer" stuff is not as simple as adding this up.

Firstly, a figure of 'millions' is negligible compared to the tax pot, so reporting it in absolute terms can mislead those who are not aware of the annual tax take. Secondly, at least half of the salary of the plod ends up back in the tax system (and the purchase equipment with which he is supplied benefits the businesses who supply that equipment, and their employees, and the taxman benefits from both of these --- same is true for the coffee and doughnuts he buys when off duty etc.). Thirdly, the police keeping an eye on Assange are presumably not exclusively dedicated to that: if a high priority incident occurs nearby, some of them will surely be redeployed appropriately.

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Lies, damn lies and election polls: Why GE2015 pundits fluffed the numbers so badly

John H Woods
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Re: "shy tory"

"The media were pretty anti-Tory this time around" --- AC.

They most certainly were not. Most of the mainstream press came right out and said who they were supporting: e.g. read http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/election-2015-these-are-parties-britains-newspapers-are-endorsing-1499763

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Uber and car makers jockey for Nokia's 'HERE' maps – report

John H Woods
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Re: commodity...

"...if your car insides could be switched out by a robot..." -- phil dude

That's an intriguing idea: taking it further, we could all just have caravans with all the personal stuff we want in them, and when we need to go somewhere an autonomous tow-car turns up and takes us there. Autonomous vehicles, nobody owning their own motive power, and caravans everywhere! The entire infrastructure could be powered by harnessing the ensuing rage of Jeremy Clarkson.

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Traumatised Reg SPB team barely survives movie unwatchablathon

John H Woods
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I see your unwatchablathon ...

... and raise you a UK election night coverage

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Spooks BUSTED: 27,000 profiles reveal new intel ops, home addresses

John H Woods
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Re: Dropbear MASTERSHAKE?

"... including long extant languages!" -- Matt Bryant

I know quite a few long extant languages and they're still quite useful, certainly much more so than long extinct languages.

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Tesla's battery put in the shade by current and cheaper kit

John H Woods
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Re: 2kW Clothes Iron?

"Such is the sorry state of science & mathematics in journalism these days that the above fool sentence was published. At least in the USA ..."

We don't all live in the USA. There are several devices in my house in the 2-3kW range that plug into the conventional circuit. (Furthermore our socket circuits are usually ring circuits rated at 30A).

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Rip up your AMD obits: Gaming, VR, embedded chips to lift biz out of the red by 2016, allegedly

John H Woods
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Re: AMD APUs with HSA look ground breaking

I agree. Price performance is where the AMDs still hold their own against Intel. My kids have a cheapo gaming rig that is able to deliver perfectly acceptable HD frame rates on modern games on most settings, using an overclocked (and boy can they overclock) A10. Even before we added a proper graphics card (need a way to get started without killing the 300 quid budget) we were getting fairly respectable performance just using the A10s own GPU. With a moderately good AMD card added, performance is pretty good, and that and an SSD still didn't take the total cost over 500.

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New Tizen phone leaked: Remember it's not all just Android and iOS

John H Woods
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Re: get the units right

"the battery is a 2.0 Ah not 2000 mAh" -- AC

You could call this battery a 7.200E+03 Coulomb (i.e. Amp second) battery, but as most people are interested in how long the battery lasts and what the phone's power consumption is, it is more appropriate, in this CONTEXT, to use the derived unit of Current x Time rather than Charge. Similarly, the scale, in this CONTEXT, suggests that we use mA rather than A (given the sorts of power consumptions that phones have) and h rather than s (given the sorts of durations that phone batteries last).

* Also, as an aside, 2.0Ah is not quite the same as 2000mAh: the former suggests (a hundred times) less precision (i.e 1950mAh to 2050mAh rather than 1999.5mAh to 2000.5mAh) although again an understanding of the CONTEXT would suggest to most people that the range of variability is unlikely to be as small as 1mAh

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Tesla Powerwall: not much cheaper and also a bit wimpier than existing batteries

John H Woods
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"Aren't these things driven by cookies set by, er, sites visited previously?" -- Zog_but_not_the_first

I thought so. I certainly find 10 minutes looking at lingerie on Amazon brightens up my browsing for up to a week afterwards.

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