* Posts by Graham Bartlett

1651 posts • joined 12 Mar 2007

Woman scales Ben Nevis wielding selfie stick instead of ice axe

Graham Bartlett

Re: Fucking moron

""There is a distinct difference between spur of the moment and Darwin award."

Indeed, however that difference is often chance."

Only because whatever fucking stupid thing they've done turns out not to kill them. In general it's safe to say that the more egregiously fucking stupid it is, the lower the odds on survival. The fact of its innate and undeniable fucking stupidity, and the fact of that person's innate and undeniable fucking stupidity in doing whatever it was on the spur of the moment, are unchanged.

I'd also note that Ben Nevis typically takes around 8 hours, and you'll be seriously cold a long way before the top. It might be spur of the moment at the start, but there's a shitload of opportunity along the way to realise "this was a fucking stupid idea".

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Electrified bird bum bomb shuts down US nuclear power plant

Graham Bartlett

Surely that's a TURDIS?

7
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Triple-murderer prisoner keeps mobile phone in his butt for a week

Graham Bartlett

I can hear the conversation with the doctor now

"So doc, you say he's got a phone up his arse?"

"Rectum, boss."

"Yep, I bloody bet it did."

7
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This is why copy'n'paste should be banned from developers' IDEs

Graham Bartlett

My favourite typos

I literally don't know how many times I've mistyped "bugger" instead of "buffer". Mostly I catch them. Occasionally they make it through to code review. I've only once had it get out to customer code though.

My most annoying one though was at a company who were subcontracted to Ford in the early 2000s. Ford had coding standards which had been set sometime in the mid-80s and never really tweaked. The result was that we were limited to 16-character variable and function names. By the end we'd found that Ford engineers were breaking this rule with impunity so we stopped worrying about it, but at the start we had to stick with it because we were under the microscope a bit. This was harder for us, because every variable had to start with the name of the module (in my case "ipc_") and our double-stored variables (this was safety-related so we needed to detect data corruption) were suffixed "_ds". This left 9 significant characters, so abbreviation was a fact of life.

Where this went wrong was that one engineer with a fairly loose sense of humour decided to abbreviate "done" to "dun" to save one character in the variable name. We were doing silly hours, so at the time we all thought "hey, it's quirky, we'll keep it". Two years down the line, when I was having to do presentations on how to integrate our code with Ford engineers and their managers and their managers' managers, and the codebase was locked down and couldn't be changed, the joke looked a bit less clever.

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Pentagon fastens lasers to military drones to zap missiles out of the skies

Graham Bartlett

Why a drone?

If it's a ballistic missile then it's already coming in from so high that there's no practical advantage to a drone a few thousand feet up compared to a truck on the ground. And a truck on the ground can house a whole lot more laser, plus it can be supplied by tankers full of whatever nasty chemicals power the laser.

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DARPA commits to brain-computer interface development project

Graham Bartlett

Firefox: Eastwood not required

It was a book originally. As with most film adaptations of books, the film took a reasonable book and did a piss-poor job of putting it on the screen.

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Boffins: There's a ninth planet out there – now we just need to find it

Graham Bartlett

A giant eccentric ball of gas?

But surely we know where that is - he and his wig are going for the Republican nomination, after all.

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Apple backs down from barring widow her dead husband's passwords

Graham Bartlett

Pratchett was there too

"Why was it cheap?" "Because it's deaf."

1
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Robots. Machine learnin', 3D-printin' AI robots: They'll take our jobs – Davos

Graham Bartlett

Gender imbalance

The crucial qualifier on that: "Women are set to be hit hardest by the developments *if women and men continue to only do the same jobs in 20 years time as they're doing today*".

This in a context where there's been no action on boys failing in disproportionate numbers at schools for decades, with the inevitable result that young men are much less likely to go on to higher education. (You might wonder too about men being much a minority in teaching, and that the overwhelming majority of primary schools don't have a single male member of staff outside site maintenance. Role models are supposed to be important for kids, aren't they?) And years of training for skilled manual work being seriously underfunded, as well as East European immigrants taking the bottom out of the market on those jobs for the last decade.

It's a generational thing. Sure, the old guys at the top are still guys - they started their careers in the 60s and 70s. But look at the people on the management tiers below them and you're looking at much more like 50:50, for a generation with more like 50:50 academic achievement. Now we've got a generation where girls outperform boys in every academic subject at school, and are way more likely to be going to uni. It really shouldn't take much thought to work out the results.

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Wanted man sends selfie to replace 'terrible' police mug shot

Graham Bartlett

Re: Win-win.

Why? It doesn't exempt you from the requirement to have nothing covering your face, which rules out burqas and the like. A turban or hijab still gives a perfectly good view of someone's face.

Same as the rule about sunglasses - you could have chronic light-sensitivity which needs you to cover your eyes at all times, but you'd still have to have your passport photo taken with eyes open and shades off.

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Investigatory Powers Bill: A force for good – if done right?

Graham Bartlett

Alternatively...

If you want to avoid whoever's in charge doing illegal stuff, call them on it. Not just in terms of *don't do it again" - actually get the police involved.

The Lib Dems spent years living alongside the Conservatives in power. It simply isn't credible that you didn't know this was going on on your watch. So you're complicit in this too. Perhaps not you personally, but your political party at the highest levels, definitely.

I spent 20 years voting Lib Dem, because in spite of your slightly-chaotic organisation I always believed that your party had some moral character. Cohabiting with the Conservatives killed that, and all these things coming out about what went on under your joint leadership of the country have properly put the tin lid on it. Perhaps I'll be voting Lib Dem again when all the current leadership have retired, but not until then.

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Planet-bonking rock hunt armed with humanity's cruellest weapon: bureaucracy

Graham Bartlett

But where...

... is Bruce Willis?

3
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VW floats catalytic converter as fix for fibbing diesels

Graham Bartlett

Re: Ludicrous lawsuit. No tangible injury.

You clearly don't understand the situation. Of course emissions are different on an actual road. The situation for VW is that the testers could run *THE SAME SCENARIO* on a rolling road with slightly different entry conditions, and get radically different results. In other words, the ECU was specifically looking for conditions which matched the start of a test cycle and modifying its behaviour *only* during the test cycle. And that's called a defeat device.

VW didn't object to the standards. It simply didn't try to meet them, instead relying on faking its tests.

I don't believe people directly suffered from this, either. The regs those engines *did* meet are still pretty damn clean. However then you're in the situation of arguing that laws aren't valid unless you can show the crime directly hurt someone, and that's a very slippery slope. (You certainly can prove indirect hurt to the employees of other manufacturers who weren't competing on an equal basis.)

As far as penalties go, this is an enormous multinational corporation. The only penalty possible is financial, and the only way to make corporations follow the law is to make the penalty hurt. The Ford Pinto situation of a manufacturer coldly deciding that it was cheaper to pay compensation for deaths/injuries than to fix the problem was the classic case which no-one wants repeating.

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Reverser laments crypto game protection, says wares dead after 2018

Graham Bartlett

Re: Demos

On planets where normal sale-of-goods laws apply. If you buy a tin of beans from Tesco today for 30p, and then tomorrow you find they've got a special offer and the same beans are 20p, you don't get to take them back and re-buy them at the lower price. If you bought them, then you bought them.

If there was something fundamentally wrong with it, then of course you could return it for a refund. But if you're just trying it on, expect people to tell you fo f*ck off and stop being a dipsh*t.

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Ruskie rats selling Choose-Your-Own-Adventure love scams

Graham Bartlett

Re: Wind-up doll

Actually was Nigeria. And even got a picture of her passport - she was South African. For this woman, it seemed a lot more of her own free will, otherwise I wouldn't have been doing the wind-up.

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Graham Bartlett

Wind-up doll

Having received a message from someone on another website (which I'm *really* not going to tell you what it was!), and then being told I'd need to pay for the privilege of getting them to the UK, I decided to see how deep the rabbit hole went...

It turns out there was genuinely a woman involved. More amusingly, she was prepared to do some interesting things to demonstrate she was genuine. Hint to others incidentally if you want to confirm there's a real person on the other side: marker pen, your username, the date today, and a body part of choice. I don't think for a minute that she (or her friends, because someone else was clearly taking the pictures) was intending to leave Nigeria if I'd transferred all that money across, but it certainly livened up a boring week.

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North Korean operating system is a surveillance state's tour de force

Graham Bartlett

"In grave trouble"?

In NK, surely the last word is unnecessary.

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Brit cuffed for Kyrgyz 'horse penis' sausage quip

Graham Bartlett

And he's Scots

Compared to haggis, horse cock is clearly a culinary step upwards.

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How long until we can build R2-D2 and C-3PO?

Graham Bartlett

Are they sensible anyway?

C-3PO, fair enough. He's got to be able to work in a social environment with other mostly-humanoids.

But R2-D2 is supposed to be able to repair things, particularly spacecraft. Sure he can do some software, but when it comes to anything physical he's not the droid you're looking for. If I'm going to have an astromech droid on my X-wing to fix up battle damage, I'd like it to have long enough arms to reach damage anywhere on the ship, or to be able to move itself to where the damage is. A swing-bin on wheels is not going to be my first choice of design.

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Press Backspace 28 times to own unlucky Grub-by Linux boxes

Graham Bartlett

Embedded systems?

"“Grub2 is the bootloader used by most Linux systems including some embedded systems. This results in an incalculable number of affected devices."

Actually most embedded systems are going to be using U-Boot or something similar.

And as someone using Linux on an embedded system, I'm in a pretty good position to tell you that the only way to affect boot-up with a keyboard is to beat the box to death with the aforesaid keyboard. It doesn't have a PS/2 connector. It's a USB slave so you can't connect a keyboard that way. And RS-232 is strictly debug-output-only unless you do some jiggery-pokery inside the box. This isn't frigging rocket science, people.

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Old jet bits, Vader's motorbike gear, sonic oddness: Hats off to Star Wars' creative heroes

Graham Bartlett

Scratch any of that involving ep1-3. The original trilogy certainly did all that the article says; but note that the article hardly mentions ep1-3. Not really surprising, considering that it commits all the sins which George Lucas apparently didn't want in his originals.

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Coffee fixes the damage booze did to your liver, study finds

Graham Bartlett

Re: Short on the key metrics.

Judging by most cider drinkers I've seen, the ability to spell your own name.

0
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French Playmobil heist: El Reg denies involvement

Graham Bartlett

Re: Perhaps time for a change of format?

Bayko with a Y. My gran had a load of it. It was actually quite neat if you didn't mind that all you could make with it were 1930s-style semis. And later on when I started with Warhammer models, it was quite neat for my standard-bearers that I had a stock of thin tempered-steel rods, when all the other guys were using cocktail sticks which snapped on a regular basis.

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Total War: Warhammer, Blood Bowl and other Games Workshop table-to-screen delights

Graham Bartlett

Eisenhorn?

A friend of my brother-in-law is working on an adaptation of the Eisenhorn books. I picked up the compendium at an airport when I needed something that'd keep me amused for a few hours on holiday (I read *fast*) but was still disposable if it sucked, and I was seriously surprised by it. All the original John Blanche aesthetic which GW had long since thrown out, decent plotting, and competently written too. No idea what the game is going to be, but I guess wait and see.

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Ford's 400,000-car recall could be the tip of an auto security iceberg

Graham Bartlett

Re: The more of this I read @IAproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

You'd be truly amazed how easy it is to run an engine. Remember that back in the early days of cars, there were no carburettors or anything that sophisticated - all they did was blow air over the surface of a puddle of fuel, and hope evaporation picked up enough. And it worked.

As for points, old cars used whole lot more juice on the spark than they ideally needed. The result was spark plugs and points wearing away as the zaps vaporised small bits of metal each time. Spark plugs were a 5000-mile/6-month service item on my old Montego. These days spark plugs are a 10-year-service item, and that's more because they simply don't know how long they'll keep running so they take a guess.

If you want fuel economy *and* performance *and* the car to run at altitude, that's where it gets tricky.

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Noshing moth menaces misled into male-on-male mating

Graham Bartlett

Re: Moth balls

The answer is definitely moth balls. Remove them early enough and it can't breed.

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Swordfish fatally stabs man after man stabs, fatally, swordfish

Graham Bartlett

"he has such a big heart"

Made a better target, as it happens.

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There's data in your dashboard, so liberate it from Big Auto's grasp

Graham Bartlett

Re: Anyone else like the old way better?

Thanks for the link to a website which tried to force a spyware download on me, dickhead. And an opinion based on cars that started down the production line in 1997, meaning design started about 1994. Way to go for up-to-date information.

But I'll still answer your fact-free opinion, because I started working on car engine controllers in 1999 and spent roughly 10 years on and off since then on that, and I particularly spent a lot of time on diagnostics. So unless you've worked through a diagnostics manual with the service team lead for a manufacturer, and been out testing your fail-safe strategies on a real vehicle on a test track, then I probably do know more than you. Let me count the ways that things have improved...

You don't have to change sparkplugs any more. When I started driving, sparkplugs were an every-year service item. Now they're usually a 100,000-mile service item. Entirely down to replacing the points with electronics. Oh, and the points, and the vacuum-advance carburettor, and the carburettor generally, and spark-plug leads on most modern cars with coil-over plugs - all gone, and all their failure modes with them. My Renault Laguna starts in the morning, every time, no questions. My old Austin Montego was not so user-friendly. And the Laguna will happily get 45mph at 80mph, where I'd be lucky to get 30mph from the Montego at that speed. My Laguna is only an 2005 plate, incidentally - hardly state of the art.

Temperature sensors, and speed sensors on various bits of the drivetrain. Time was that these went wrong on a regular basis, and if you were lucky then you could limp the car to a garage, and if you weren't then it was a tow-truck job. Now that all these sensors are available, the engine controller can cross-check them to see whether any look dodgy, and do something sensible if there's a problem.

Theft of cars, there's another improvement. These days that's seriously rare and mostly confined to old cars from pre-immobiliser days. If you want to steal a modern car, you either need the key or you need some wireless immobiliser cracking kit which is well beyond your basic brick-through-the-side-window brigade. Theft from cars is right up - all those people leaving satnavs in the glove box - but theft *of* cars is very low.

Ditto radios. No-one much buys aftermarket radios any more, because they're all built in. Which means no-one is going to break into your car for the radio any more, because they have sod all resale value.

And that's before we start talking about all the features - ABS, airbags, traction control and the like - which have saved the lives of more people than you'll meet in your life, and which are only possible because of electronics.

Visible improvements? Well, these days your car generally "just works". Perhaps it's not "visible" to you, but that's only because you aren't correctly remembering what old cars were like. Yes, there are still design faults in cars, because cars are designed by humans and cockups happen, and manufacturers won't fix them unless they have to. Congratulations for spotting that. So I'll just say "Ford Pinto" and let you fsck off quietly with your little Beemer bug.

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Sex disease surge in US state partly blamed on hook-up apps

Graham Bartlett

In the same way as every kid who's just got their license drives like they did when their instructor/parent was in the car with them. They'll swear blind that they will, and then they'll swear blind afterwards that they stuck to the speed limit. And anyone who believes them is an idiot.

And the "abstinence-only" stuff just makes it worse, because then you're handing the keys to someone who hasn't even been taught basic safety. Like car crashes, ignorance is more likely to get you into an accident than to keep you out of one.

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The rare metals debate: Only trace elements of sanity found

Graham Bartlett

Re: The other thing to remember

That's the problem at the moment. The stuff is still out there, but not in enough concentration to make it worth mining, unless the price

Pig farming is a very bad analogy. Pigs reproduce. Minerals do not.

Where we actually are is berry-picking in Autumn. All the ones near the path get picked first. Then you go looking under the thorny bits for any more around there. Then if you're really keen, you might consider carrying a stepladder over to get the ones higher up. And inevitably there'll be some right up in a tree which are out of reach of anyone except birds.

When it comes to minerals, we've nailed all the easy ones round the paths. Some minerals are still at the "look under the thorny bits" category. Some have stepladders up already. And some (notably coal) have long precarious ladders up trees (which occasionally give way and kill people) to extract the hard-to-reach ones. When people will pay £100 per berry, it's worth the risk.

It will rarely be cost-effective to get 100% coverage. You probably won't send a helicopter drone around the top of every tree to individually pluck single berry, so some will still be left there.

But in common with berry-picking, once they're picked then THAT'S IT.

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The Internet of things is great until it blows up your house

Graham Bartlett

Re: ... IoT devices generally have no real world advantage over their dumb counterparts ...

Requires, no. Might be nice to have, perhaps.

Say I'm coming home early on a cold day, I turn the heating on when I leave work instead of coming back to a freezing house. I can see that being an advantage. Turning the kettle on at the same time might be overkill though, yes.

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Airbus confirms software brought down A400M transport plane

Graham Bartlett

Re: Impossible Testing Scenario

As to "inherently unsafe", that depends on whether parameters do need testing in combination. Some will, some won't. No testing strategy, not even for safety critical software like medical equipment, requires testing of every possible combination of individual states. If you think that's a problem, you don't understand ALARP.

Good architecture should minimise linkages so that you *can* trace what can affect what. If you don't have good enough engineers to design a robust architecture, then you have bigger problems than just the testing.

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Graham Bartlett

Re: Is there any reason for the Spandsh to block the black bod data?

Usually I'll let typos go, but "black bod data" is too good to resist. Are we talking Grace Jones or Rampage Jackson though?

1
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Cop in gay porn film advised to put his helmet away

Graham Bartlett

Seriously, if he's doing it on his own time, how's it any business of his employers?

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Now pay attention, 007: James Bond's Q re-booted

Graham Bartlett

I think Benedict Cumberbatch could have played the new Q better - he's young, but not *that* young.

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Why is solid-state storage so flimsy?

Graham Bartlett

Re: nonsense article and "common sense"

Common sense might tell you that a mechanical device spinning at umptytum RPM is less reliable than solid-state. If you're slinging that mechanical device around in your handbag, or clipping it on your arm to go for a jog, then sure.

But leave them both in an immobile PC, and bets are off. If you're not aware of manufacturers specifying expected write-cycle lifespans for flash, then you don't know about the main cause of failure of one of these. If in addition you are using the SSD as the main (or only) drive and you haven't got temporary files being put anywhere else, then you're not aware of the main reason you'll burn through those write-cycles. In short, if your only comparison is mechanical-vs-solid-state then you don't know enough to have an opinion on the subject.

0
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Australian boffins have a ball with lightning maths

Graham Bartlett

Re: How to make ball lightning

Now explain the marks left.

Not that there's necessarily only one explanation. Yours is perfectly possible. The downside is that retina burn is something everyone has experienced, so we're all pretty familiar with it.

1
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Inside the mind of a Bond supervillain: Psychotic, autistic - or neither?

Graham Bartlett

Re: Dalton's Bond...

Absolutely.

And prepared to kill anyone with anything. The wait-the-whole-film payoff with the cigarette lighter was rather nifty. Or in "Living Daylights", instead of continuing to beat up on the guy hanging off his leg on the plane, he just cut the laces on his boot. That's the kind of style that Bond hadn't had since Connery, and didn't get again until Craig. Moore and Brosnan were only placeholders.

0
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Miniature Baumgartner jumps from 128,000ft

Graham Bartlett

Blocked here?

Hum. My company's web-washer (FortiGuard) has blocked that as "other adult materials". What else lives on that server? And any reason it's not been put on YouTube?

0
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Sarah Brightman plans International Space Station gig

Graham Bartlett

ZZ Top in space

They were arrested for flying whilst blind. Probably because of their cheap sunglasses.

0
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Linux on ARM breakthrough to take away Torvalds' arse pain

Graham Bartlett

Sub-heading

So Linus has a "f*cking pain in the ass". Is it a coincidence that the sub-heading is talking about a fiery ring? Enquiring minds want to know...

0
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ISS crew fling out arm, grab SpaceX Dragon capsule

Graham Bartlett

Re: One step closer

Do the sums for how big the turd would need to be to not be vaporised by the atmosphere. I don't think anyone's planning on putting herds of elephants into space any time soon.

(And for those on the "I had a curry last night , and boy did that burn up on re-entry" gag - tough titty, I got there first!)

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40,000 sign petition to oust Rep. Paul 'pit of hell' Broun

Graham Bartlett

Re: Earth is 9,000 years old...

Especially since there's all those people (including politicians) who think that "Born in the USA" is about how great America is, just because it's in a major key and has a sing-along chorus. Go figure.

6
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Home-grown drone finds ‘missing’ hiker

Graham Bartlett

Re: Shortage of kangeroos/ collies/ dolphins?

"Bloody arse bandit!" - Skipinder the Punjabi kangaroo

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wW96Z9AJf38

0
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This supercomputing board can be yours for $99. Here's how

Graham Bartlett

Re: Occam

+1 on that.

As a one-time Occam/Transputer coder though, the main issue isn't race conditions and livelocks - it's deadlocks. A waits on B, B waits on A, neither gives way. But finding the silver lining, it's totally possible to statically detect this at compilation and warn the coder about it. At least, it is if you use a language like Occam where you can easily see what's going on. By the time you've baked the parallelism into a ton of nasty interface code though, it's all pretty gnarly and you're basically on your own.

2
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Stars spotted dancing superfast tango around black hole handbag

Graham Bartlett
Coat

Astronomers are looking in the wrong places

I'm sure a bit of googling would help them find a lot of vids of two stars dancing the black-hole tango.

0
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Crazed Microsoft robot accuses BBC kids' channel of Win8 piracy

Graham Bartlett

There's a better solution. If you live in California, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington or Texas (per Wikipedia), barratry is a misdemeanor punishable by prison time and/or fines. You don't even need to sue them yourself - it's a crime, so you call the police and hope for a DA who wants to get their name in the papers as "the man who arrested Microsoft".

1
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Assange chums must cough up £93,500 bail over embassy lurk

Graham Bartlett

Re: Duties and powers

Er, yes they can. Floods, storms and lightning strikes are pretty well outside the control of your insurance company, but you expect them to pay up when something happens.

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Target Silicon Valley: Why A View to a Kill actually made sense

Graham Bartlett

Re: Grace Jones

Acting-wise, she is what she is. Arnie and Stallone weren't ever going to score Oscars, but if you wanted big muscles, they were the go-to guys. You wanted a woman who seriously looked like she could threaten the other guys, Grace Jones was it. (Not bloody Bridgit Neilson in "Red Sonja", thanks.)

And her singing is fantastic, not least because she can still do it at age 60.

3
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Perth porkfest crowned ULTIMATE BACON SARNIE

Graham Bartlett

Re: How did pork

You don't beat fish. You beat the batter, then you dip the fish in the batter, then you fry the fish. Then you eat the fish.

Although that's still a process which is perfected by the presence of pig products. So mine's a battered sausage and chips, no vinegar, thanks.

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