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* Posts by John H Woods

1308 posts • joined 14 Nov 2007

US giant NBC 'leaks' PRIVATE Amazon keys in Github Glenn gaffe

John H Woods
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Umm (2)

"... some poor project or IT guy just sent all of the keys to NBC’s servers to the wrong guy in one mistyped username"

Err, no. Those keys should never have been uploaded, unencrypted, in the first place, even if you know who all your GitHub users are; the mistake is a LOT bigger than mistyping a username.

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'Microsoft Research slides' show touch-enabled Office - report

John H Woods
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Re: I'm guessing whomever came up with this....

I agree. However, although I'm more a sort of open source guy than corporate by choice (though I have to be the opposite professionally) I feel compelled to point out that change-for-changes-sake is not purely corporate, otherwise we wouldn't have had the Gnome / Unity fiasco.

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'My house is on fire m8 lol' ... 911 texting tested in the US

John H Woods
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Yes ...

Poor Hannah Foster, for example ...

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Acer pair charged with insider trading for '$72k pre-results stock dump'

John H Woods
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Unhappy

Unless I missed something ...

... it looks even worse to me - by dumping $72,300 of stock just before it 'dived' 6.8%, they saved themselves less than $5000.

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LA air traffic meltdown: System simply 'RAN OUT OF MEMORY'

John H Woods
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Joke

Was it ...

... 65536 ft?

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94% of Brit tech bosses just can't get the staff these days, claims bank

John H Woods
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The problem:

"Worst of all, there is no standard, reputable way of evaluating the contribution each employee makes in the long term."

Only true if the employee's manager has no understanding of what is going on. This is such a common scenario that we almost take it for granted, but it doesn't have to be that way.

My first IT consultancy boss had it right - interview in the pub to determine whether candidate was good team material; take the CV on trust; be absolutely ruthless about insisting on success in trial period (that's when you realize if the CV is true); ongoing monitoring to determine who needs intervention (and of what kind) to keep them on or push them off.

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John H Woods
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Please tell me this is in W. Mids. If so, please tell me your postcode!

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Why two-player games > online gaming: See your pal's shock as you bag a last-second victory

John H Woods
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Timesplitters again ...

... and a vote for the innovative split/re-join on some of the Lego titles. But I've always thought that two player co-op is much more satisfying than playing 1 to 1 adversarial.

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Google's self-driving car breakthrough: Stop sign no longer a problem

John H Woods
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Joke

I for one ...

... would welcome Indian driving in the UK. They already drive on the left, don't they?

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Brit IT workers are so stressed that 'TWO-THIRDS' want to quit

John H Woods
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I love IT ...

... and I hate working in it. Reason: much of the decision making, whether buying, selling or managing, is done by people who hate IT.

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All men are part of a PURE GENETIC ELITE, says geno-science bloke

John H Woods
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I've got two ...

... and it was slightly weird finding out one is XYY whilst looking down a microscope in one's undergraduate Genetics class ...

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Selfies are so 2013. Get ready for DRONIES – the next hipster-cam-gasm

John H Woods
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Re: Belfie?

A bum-selfie. Don't Google it at work unless you have images switched off or work in an open-minded establishment.

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Ugh! This DUNKABLE wearable tech is REPELLENT

John H Woods
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Re: Waterproof kindle?

I find a resealable freezer bag perfect for waterproofing the nook when walking in the rain with the dogs. Resistive screen works fine through the polythene.

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Middle England's allotments become metric battlefield

John H Woods
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Re: Enter the metric pole?

I've always thought there should be a metric ounce and pound

1 oz = 25g

20 oz = 500g = 1lb

Unlike g and kg, which are useful for nought but salt and potatoes respectively, at least the imperial units were the right sort of magnitude for cooking.

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Slash tuition fees for STEM students, biz boss body begs UK.gov

John H Woods
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Re: And double the fees for anything ...

It is not as easy as you think to identify "useful" degrees

Proved by the fact that many people always pick "media degrees" as useless without looking at either how much those graduates can earn (useful to student); how big the UK media sector is (useful to UK) or how hard it is to offshore that kind of work (UK media graduates therefore useful to UK Business).

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Get out your Allen keys: Facebook's cooked up flat-pack bit barns

John H Woods
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The routing isn't so much forced as very strongly suggested, at least in all IKEA stores I have been in, in the UK and in Europe. Next time you go, when you get to the top of the stairs, try turning the opposite way to the main flow of people; you will find yourself in the restaurant almost immediately. There are similarly a set of shortcuts downstairs - look for doors that appear a bit official and fire door like but do not have any labels saying 'staff only'.

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Bugger the jetpack, where's my 21st-century Psion?

John H Woods
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Re: Chorded typing!

A microwriter style chorder, that fitted in a partly closed fist, with bluetooth and a single led would be perfect for matching with a smartphone or tablet.

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How a Facebook post by blabbermouth daughter cost her parents $80,000

John H Woods
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oops

oops, indiscrEET. Apologies, missed edit window.

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John H Woods
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You are currently the high bidder on ...

... 1x indiscrete immature daughter. Item location Florida. Buyer collects, preferably using unmarked van with blacked out windows. Your current bid is $75,000. The reserve has not yet been met.

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50,000 women knocked up by big data, wearable tech, crowds and cloud

John H Woods
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Re: 50,000 Ovia users have gotten pregnant!

Surprised they're not making more noise about 36% of persons shown in that piccie.

Ok, who's the 4th one?

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US Senator lobbies feds to BAN BITCOIN

John H Woods
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Re: But seriously folks ..

How can you ban a number ?

A DVD of child porn is also a number, albeit with a few billion digits.

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Steve Jobs statue: Ones and ohs and OH NOES – it's POINTING at us

John H Woods
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Truly awful ...

... if I were an artist I'd have gone for installation art - a sculpture of an iPhone, iPad and early Mac all with working screens displaying iconic footage (e.g. that famous turtleneck picture, the macbook air reveal, etc.)

I'm not a massive fruit fan, but I can only assume the artist hates Apple.

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John H Woods
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Re: Inspired by the classics

Thanks @EddieD. Now I know what a Herma is, and what apotropaic magic is. I'm sure I learn more from El Reg (usually commentards) than from any other forum.

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HP: We're so down wid da kidz! Look at... er, Smithers, what DO yoof look at these days?

John H Woods
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Re: Judging from what I hear from teens and twenties these days...

You'd be suprised. My kids (15 & 17) routinely spot minor typos on posters when we are out and about. In fact, I had the gotofail code open in an editor the other day and the eldest (whose closest brush with coding is having just started doing a bit of scripting in game mods) glanced over my shoulder in passing and asked if I'd made a mistake by writing 'goto fail' twice!

This is from a teenager whose ambition is to be a firefighter: I'm sure a large dose of FPS must be increasing their observational skills!

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Microsoft tries to re-invent GPS with cloudy offloads

John H Woods
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Re: More devices with geo-location?

Why would anyone with more than a few working brain cells would want this?

If I'm meeting up with my kids, for instance, its useful for us all to know where everybody is in real time: try meeting people in a post concert crowd, for instance.

I've used device GPS to find out where I left my phone several times, including once where I'd lost it in a field - might be useful for devices other than phones. I'm often curious as to the precise route I took somewhere, even if I wasn't using navigation at the time.

So much for convential GPS, but what about this? Wel, how about a low power consumption tracker embedded in valuable items? These could tell investigators, when recovered, where the objects have been. As such devices would be passive until then, they would be harder for the villains to detect and remove or disable.

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John H Woods
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Re: WiFi modem geolocation

to totally turn wifi off you have to disable the location features

Can be important, because if you are using wifi to assist geolocation, but drive around somewhere where there is "open" wifi - where you can connect without a password but then need to perform a landing page logon in order to get internet access, you can get problems - your phone may drop your mobile data connection to connect to a wifi network from which it can get no information.

I discovered this driving round a university town with my GPS app failing everytime I got near a campus; eventually I realised what was happening, and told my phone to ignore open wifi.

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Rise of the Machines: Robot challenges top German player at ping-pong

John H Woods
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Next --

Make the robot play with nunchucks, like "Bruce Lee" in this video

* fake footage created for a Nokia advert, but moderately impressive

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Apple Safari, Mail and more hit by SSL spying bug on OS X, fix 'soon'

John H Woods
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Re: Test-Driven Development

Actually I can understand the lack of a test case for this - as you'd have to write the exploit as the test.

What I can't understand is the following:

1) why the compiler, or code coverage tool, didn't flag the final check as unreachable code, or - if it did - why didn't anyone notice how important the unreachable code was?

2) why it wasn't noticed on visual inspection - even with the apparent failure of correct indentation (which should have been automatic), surely it's reasonably clear there's a duplicated line?

3) why the programmer chose to write the code in this way? I'm not a programmer any more, as apparently I'm 'too expensive' and am now only allowed to 'create' using MS-Office products --- but this stuff is rubbish, who writes it? For a start, the 'fail' label is simply misleading as this code is concerned with resource release. There's at least three ways of writing this method in a more elegant way. I might have used non-evaluating conjunctions or nested if statements, but I can guarantee that whatever I did the return code would never have been set to success before all the conditions had been met. In fact even using reasonable logging in this code would almost have forced the author to write it in the correct way as each failure condition would have to be tested:

if ((err = SSLHashSHA1.update(&hashCtx, &signedParams)) != 0)

would probably have to be something like

err = SSLHashSHA1.update(&hashCtx, &signedParams

if(err != 0) { logger.log("failed at signed parameter check"); goto fail}

In other words, the principle failure here is conflation of the test with the assignment. We do not have to hand-optimize code anymore. I don't know why programmers even try to do it: the most important thing is correctness, then comprehensibility. Everything else, compactness, hell, even performance, comes a very long way behind those two attributes.

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Terrifying photo special: 'Electric Cannon' anal orgasmo-probe in use ... on a BULL

John H Woods
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Re: Anyone Else

... almost - I just came straight to the comments!

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Muslim clerics issue fatwa banning the devout from Mars One 'suicide' mission

John H Woods
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But if we could send a religious nutter to Mars ...

... surely we could send them all?

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Seagate's LaCie touts a 25TB (not a typo) box o' disks for your DESK

John H Woods
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@John Tserkezis

I almost agree. But not, for god's sake, RAID5! Disks are cheaper than chips, and data can be anything up to priceless. RAID5 should be forbidden for any arrays other than those using legacy-sized disks. Even RAID6 is verging on silly these days.

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John H Woods
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Re: 25TB at RAID5? ...

Did I really misread this, or has the article been amended - I'm sure I read RAID5 in the list. RAID0 is suicidal, and RAID1 can't be used with an odd number of disks, unless you are hotsparing one I suppose, but that seems silly. I'd probably run it five disks in JBOD/RAIDZ3 although I think I'd be tempted to choose 2,3 or 4TB drives.

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John H Woods
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25TB at RAID5? ...

Selecting this option should result in the BIOS displaying a dialog calling you a moron and phoning home to arrange for collection by the vendor.

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Snowden journo boyf grill under anti-terror law was legal, says UK court

John H Woods
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Re: That's not actually possible...

You do have rights, which come from a lot of different places - case law statute, the EU. But you don't have a single document - a constitution - a bill of rights - which lists all of your individual rights from start to finish.

This seems to say:

(1) a constitution is a bill of rights (in a single document)

(2) the UK doesn't have a bill of rights (in a single document)

(3) therefore the UK doesn't have a constitution.

The problem is that premise 1 is false. The equation of a constitution with a single document comprising a bill of rights is entirely your own invention. Although such a document might correctly be called 'a constitution' you haven't demonstrated that the only thing that can be called a constitution is such a document.

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D-Wave wooing universities down under

John H Woods
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Annealing vs Quantum

Disclaimer: I used to know a bit about optimization, but I'm certainly no expert in quantum computing ...

Hasn't simulated annealing been an effective approach to non-linear optimization problems such as the TSP for decades? A true quantum computer, as I understand it, would be able to deliver *the* optimum TSP solution, as every single solution is represented in the quantum superposition of states and only the best solution 'survives' to become the answer.

I'd like to see the output of several brute force TSP solutions (I believe the record is about 85.9k cities - pdf - so a bunch of 10k tests is within the realms of possibility) compared to the D-Wave output for the same. If the D-Wave machine just produces very good results, rather than the actual best results, isn't it just annealing in hardware?

Or am I talking out of my hat?

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My smelly Valentine: Europe's perfumers wake to V-Day nightmare

John H Woods
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Re: "banning cheese next, followed closely by nuts."

John G - I didn't mean to be dismissive of people with nut allergies, it's just that I think they are getting a raw deal - it's just a cop out of food manufacturers to put 'may contain nuts' on almost everything. What you really need is a label that tells you a food is nut free, but I bet nobody would dare ...

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John H Woods
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Re: "banning cheese next, followed closely by nuts."

Food has to include a nut warning, and this has saved lives.

Has it though? Everything has a nut warning on it. Could have been a good idea but the warnings are so ubiquitious that they are just noise - like Website cookie warnings have become.

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John McAfee declares war on Android

John H Woods
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Re: Dilemma

... so what's the dilemma?

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Spam, a lot of it: Bubble tea is the Seoul of wit

John H Woods
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But I used to enjoy the various devious and imaginative ways in which some nutter in another country would try to fool me out of my credit card details through the medium of an electronic message full of blatant falsehoods that even a household pet could spot.

That used to puzzle me too, until I discovered it might be a deliberate strategy to automatically select the most gullible marks - a theory elegantly advanced in this pdf from Microsoft Research.

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Facebook adds 50+ gender options: Stalking your 'Friends' just got more LGBT-friendly

John H Woods
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Will DBs have to follow suit?

The NHS Data Dictionary defines 2 sets ([gender at] Birth, [gender at] Registration) of four values (Unknown, Male, Female, Unspecified) leading to 16 combinations*. It looks like FB are extending this, although not in a formal way, to include 'current identification' which should lead to 64 combinations.

This seems overly complex to me: only medical records need to know what Gender you were born with, I can't see that FB needs anything more than your current self-identification; to me that seems to be a matter of M, F or Other (optional specification in text field). Maybe it's just the developer obsession with using drop-down lists, so you can select a pre-defined value. But I think it's quite likely that many people not wishing to chose M or F might want more freedom to describe their gender than a list gathered up by whichever developers have made a mini research project of it.

*Although, despite this all being known, some companies who shall remain nameless, think they can write medical software with straight M/F choice for a gender

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'No, I CAN'T write code myself,' admits woman in charge of teaching our kids to code

John H Woods
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Re: Kids who can think ...

:-) you don't need to sell Scratch to me - I've been in love with Smalltalk, Squeak, Seaside and Scratch for years and years and years !

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John H Woods
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Kids who can think ...

... can code if they want to.

Teaching children to think more effectively, however, has always appeared very low on the list of priorities of all governments - the conspiracy view might be that perhaps they prefer a more docile popuation; but I tend to subscribe to the cockup view: politicians just cannot leave education alone, so it continues to suffer the consequences of decades of misuse for partisan point scoring and electoral gambits, whilst those with any clue as to its improvement are sidelined and ridiculed.

Although I am very much in favour of teaching British kids to code, that is a view about eductation itself and applies equally to teaching them, say, history. I'm in two minds, however, about whether coding should be automatically considered an economically valuable skill. On the one hand it is probably the most offshorable skill set in the world; on the other hand much of the offshore code I have personally seen is suboptimal, and significant amounts of it comedically bad. Perhaps there really will be a market for British coders once the long-term impact of the current craze of cost-control-above-everything-else hoves into sharper focus.

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Qwerty keyboards

John H Woods
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How about ...

... some kind of bluetooth microwriter? A nice little hand-shaped device that can be held in one hand and used with four or five buttons in a chording fashion. Something like a fat gun handle made of soft plastic, big enough to hold a reasonable size battery, buttons with a tactile directly under where the fingertips rest?

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Flappy Bird pre-installed = £stupid

John H Woods
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Flappy Bird pre-installed = £stupid

Have you guys seen how much tablets & phones which have Flappy Bird installed are going for on eBay?

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BBC, ITV gang up on YouView with 'FreeView Connect'

John H Woods
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@JeeBee

PS3 screen saver can be controlled in settings menu.

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Boffins hose down fiery Li-ion batteries with industrial lubricant

John H Woods
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Re: what about over discharge ?

If you want a device that can provide high current at a reasonable voltage, it's going to capable of fireworks if you short it -- Don't Do That, Then.

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NYPD dons Google tech specs: Part man. Part machine. All Glasshole

John H Woods
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Re: So much negativity.

... reminds me of the (probably apocryphal) story of John Heatherington's Top Hat:

"[he] appeared on the public highway wearing upon his head what he called a silk hat (which was shiny lustre and calculated to frighten timid people)" and the officers of the Crown stated that "several women fainted at the unusual sight, while children screamed, dogs yelped and a younger son of Cordwainer Thomas was thrown down by the crowd which collected and had his right arm broken"

--- Hatters' Gazette 1797

*NB: John Heatherington did not invent the Top Hat, and this story probably isn't true, even though that fact and this story was reported on QI.

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