* Posts by Paul Crawford

2672 posts • joined 15 Mar 2007

Boffins solve bacon crisis with newly-patented plant

Paul Crawford
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Re: It's people!!

Soylent pink

With apology to the original commentary who thought that one up!

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Think Fortran, assembly language programming is boring and useless? Tell that to the NASA Voyager team

Paul Crawford
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I guess in a lot of cases they don't have much choice, they have a good enough job and that company often wants them to keep doing what they need done. No offers of new projects or training on things as they come along.

I'm as guilty as any. I have not pushed myself to change job as life has been OK-enough here, and the steps in my relevant knowledge have come not by planned progression but by projects coming along and I end up doing them. Hence learning a new skill, like how to write "C code" in python...

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Paul Crawford
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Re: High level languages?

Have an up-vote :) I wish I could give to 100 votes for the "universal macro assembler aka 'the 'C' programming language'" though!

Also share some of your views on FORTRAN, great for scientific work due to its built-in support for maths and complex numbers, extensive libraries (NAG & IMSL, etc) but had some horrible attributes as well (implicit typing, joys of GOTO being used far too often, being able to enter a function at multiple places, etc)

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Paul Crawford
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Re: For which chipset?

Alas, how many competent C programmers are there? You know the ones who actually understand how to manage memory & pointers...

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The only GOOD DRONE is a DEAD DRONE. Y'hear me, scumbags?!

Paul Crawford
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Re: Attention All Drone owners

All the better if the drones have self-defence weapons that return fire to the origin of the incoming projectiles. A glorious day of carnage for both drones and Maltese hunters as they exchange fire and we see how the Terminator would play out!

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Next year's Windows 10 auto-upgrade is MSFT's worst idea since Vista

Paul Crawford
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Re: @Pompous Git

"causes physical damage that may necessitate the use of emergency or protective services"

Sounds like he nagged support once too often and a 'solution' was found using the printer and a jar of Vaseline...

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Paul Crawford
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Re: @Pompous Git

Try giving your brother-in-law the details of a local paid support company.

You will be amazed at how quickly he either decides his printer is no big deal, or uses Google & trial-and-error to fix it himself.

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Paul Crawford
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Re: Only yourselves to blame

(1) "how users disable or never install updates" Maybe because they break things, e.g. removing media centre?

(2) "no idea why users never install antivirus" Maybe because AV is mostly crap and an on-going fee or incessant nagging? (OK must at least give MS a vote for providing a low overhead free choice here).

(3) "Microsoft finally listened, then made you redundant by taking all those little jobs out of your hands" Good for that! So never again will I have to support some friend/relative who has, yet again, trashed their system and/or got it infected?

(4) "Linux is not ready...sacrificial chickens and chalk pentangles" Good to see you have recent experience of both Windows and Linux in terms of ease of installing and sorting out problems. Never had to registry edit I presume? Never has to get a driver from some web site and side-step the scams, bloatware (looking at you printer manufacturers, WTF does a driver need to be > 100MB for?) and shitty toolbars that come with the territory?

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Paul Crawford
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Re: Make your bloody minds up!

People want and expect bug-fixes, in particular for glaring security holes.

They do not want changes that break basic functionality (e.g. removal of media centre) or require re-training to use (have you ever had to give telephone support to an elderly relative?). Android is a basket-case in this respect, but Windows has a long history of keeping those two aspects separate, until this W10 cock-down-throat push.

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Paul Crawford
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@Ceiling Cat

A while ago I had a motherboard with stupid fan speeds and ran the pwmconfig script to set it up. Might have had to set it to run on init though. Also you may have to have installed the sensors package first, as that gives you the readout of the speeds and voltages.

Or do you mean they have broken that?

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UK watchdog offers 'safe harbor' advice on US data transfers

Paul Crawford
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Consent?

""Of course transfers can always be made on the basis of an individual’s consent"

No that should not be the case, as that is asking someone to sign away their rights because they need gas or electricity, etc. Deciding not to deal with a given company because they are going to send my data to the US is often not an option, as you may only have one or two suppliers and enough do it to make competition on that basis impractical.

If I decide to deal with a US company that is one thing, but any company claiming to operate in the EU should not be allowed to break basic rights in return for slightly cheaper IT back-end supply.

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Have a Plan A, and Plan B – just don't go down with the ship

Paul Crawford
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Don't forget UPS arrangements

How many of you have pulled the Big Red Knob on the master switch to the building/campus to see what really happens when the mains fails for more than a second?

Do the UPS hold up the machines but not the A/C systems?

Is there enough emergency lighting and torches (in working order) to get around and do stuff like check the power outage is not one of your own breakers tripping on a now-cleared fault?

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Chrome OS is not dead, insists Google veep in charge of Chrome OS

Paul Crawford
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Re: Chrome OS would be missed (at least by me)

For certain user groups Chrome OS is pretty good. Given that a lot of folk only really need web & email, plus some basic calendar, document edit & spreadsheet support its got them and locked down so you have to try spectacularly hard to screw it up.

Of course, the Google spying is not nice[1], and if you want much else its kind of barren, but for the price and security its hard to beat.

1. Given our glorious leaders want to spy on our every on-line activity anyway, having Google whore you from advertiser to advertiser is probably less of a risk if you don't conform to the norms of the day/party in charge :(

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Trio nailed in US for smuggling $30m of microchips into Russia

Paul Crawford
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Just how hi-tech?

I really wonder exactly what the parts were they claimed to have exported. I mean, if you are pretending to be a traffic light supplier you could hardly get away with ordering rad-hard parts, stuff tested to MIL-STD-883, etc. So what were they?

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Bacon as deadly as cigarettes and asbestos

Paul Crawford
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Now I'm hungry

That picture looks a lot like the El Reg award-winning bacon sandwich from The Horn, and my some miraculous coincidence I will be passing that location in under an hour.

Drool....

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Paul Crawford
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Re: Forgive me, but that must be a made up name

Of course it is, I mean who would trust a "North American Meat Institute"?

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Paul Crawford
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Re: re-reporting the daily mail?

Probably slitting your own throat gives you cancer as well.

Just not enough time for it to develop...

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California enormo-quake prediction: Cracks form between US boffins

Paul Crawford
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Re: Goodbye California

Oh lick my salty wife!!!!

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WikiLeaks leaks CIA director's private emails – including his nat sec clearance dossier

Paul Crawford
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Re: HOLY DOT SHIT

At first I thought he was some sort of complete idiot for having important stuff on an AOL mail account, but the suggestion that talking to Iran to try and sort things out is an unexpected breath of sanity in this world.

Still, we all have nothing to hide, so nothing to fear from our emails. Right?

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Oh dear, Microsoft: UK.gov signs deal with LibreOffice

Paul Crawford
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Re: jonpratt@outlook.com

OK so no dependency on O356 and your data being in USA hands. And you say that like its a bad thing?

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Paul Crawford
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Re: The economics just don't stack up

@J J Carter

The simple economics you give are only a small part of the picture. As well as reduced costs from year 4-ish onwards, you also have a number of other factors:

1) Less likely to be p0wnd by script kiddies (only slightly less for nation state, though) as no macros/VB

2) No need for Windows for the OS, so some flexibility and possible cost savings there.

3) More pressure to have open formats for data exchange.

4) A very good sick to beat MS with for pricing and licence terms as your gonads are no longer quite so tightly in their vice.

Sure there are a number of cases when MS products are the only or best option, but anything that gives them cause to sit up and listen to the user base instead of screwing them for more money and/or personal data is a good thing.

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Made you jump! Space to give Earth an asteroid Halloween scare

Paul Crawford
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Re: Suspiciously exact

Its suspiciously close to 310k miles.

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Microsoft boss Satya Nadella is paid $18m – and would trouser $20m if sacked

Paul Crawford
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Re: @Lost all faith...

Always have a separate /home partition. Ideally also a spare 20GB of unpartitoned HDD space.

Then worst case you can either re-install the OS over a badly borked one, or install a new one along side it, then boot it up, edit /etc/fstab to mount your old home partition and Robert is your little grandfather.

Now if only Windows always separated the OS partition form all user data and settings...and didn't bitch about activation keys, etc, if you do have to reinstall.

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Another go with MIPS IoT: Imagination unveils new Creator board

Paul Crawford
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Re: Another go?

A long time ago (like 1998) I was involved in a project that decided to go with Windows NT instead of VMS because it was going to support multiple hardware platforms and be flexible and secure. All of the things that MS promised.

Alas, after buying some Alpha workstation for this (not cheap, but super-computer like speeds then) MS announced the death of all non-x86 platforms. Our customer (who was quite technical) was far from pleased and although the project was completed fine (and better than some other partner's work) the change in MS' support was a major blow.

Fast forward almost 20 years and I can see MS blow this way and that, and I am might pleased not to be dependent on them for any of my work (other than the odd Windows VM to run CAD software).

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US senators lean on ICANN, tell it to quit squirming and open up

Paul Crawford
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Re: "a right flogging in the middle of Times Square"

Get the CAT-6 of nine tails!

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Paul Crawford
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If could vote, I would turf every one of the current board out and appoint a new lot. Ones more interested in the Internet's general well-being and less on their personal fiefdoms.

In addition, I would make it a rule the no board member can stay on longer than, say, 4 years, and all have to have at least some real and recent computer science background (e.g. degree) or experience (e.g. successful management of software-heavy project).

Oh, and a personal unicorn would be nice while I'm at it...

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Accidental homicide: how VoLTE kills old style call accounting

Paul Crawford
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And now its the other way round. Such if life...

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Paul Crawford
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Actually anything that marks the death-knell of "premium numbers" and stupidly over-priced foreign calls is a good thing!

It can't be beyond the wit of the telcos to have a reasonable model for data based on some monthly minimum and some reasonable extra for large amounts of data that will keep the lights on. All we need is some honesty in advertising and a regulator willing to beat them until the comply.

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Temperature of Hell drops a few degrees – Microsoft emits SSH-for-Windows source code

Paul Crawford
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Re: Found it!

[citation required]

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Paul Crawford
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Re: Ugh!

"a better way would be to use UTF-16 everywhere in a Windows application"

No a much better way would be some thin compatibility layer for Windows that allows UTF-8 to be used in Windows in place of UTF-16.

UTF-16 is horrible and breaks all of the native C/C++ string handling and all legacy text applications. At least UTF-8 is usable, even if you have the unpleasantness of off characters in old editors and variable length strings for a fixed number of "characters" when outside of the ASCII Latin alphabet.

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GCHQ to pore over blueprints of Chinese built Brit nuke plants

Paul Crawford
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Re: Blueprint?

Unless you have one of those inkjets that refuses to print a B&W document because its low on magenta...

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Shoebox-sized satellite enters orbit packing 3Mbps radio

Paul Crawford
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A lot of polar orbiting satellite use torquing coils against the Earth's magnetic field to off-load momentum wheel speed.

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Paul Crawford
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The problem with a "deployable sail" is the satellite has to be still working well enough to deploy it. Now if you can have a chemical/UV exposure timer with ~4 year period that might be OK...

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Paul Crawford
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Also remember that the speed of development is due to simply bolting together off-the-shelf cubesat bits and not having to design for long life and no single-point-of-failure (since its so cheap, and then they don't care if it fails soon).

The long term consequences of a vast number of short-lived and then (or even by design) uncontrollable small satellites is a serious one. Really, those things should only ever be put in a very low orbit so they will de-orbit all by themselves in a couple of years at most.

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Bug-hunt turns up vuln in LibreSSL

Paul Crawford
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Re: @GrumpenKraut

Thanks for reminding me of valgrind. Yes, it is not quick but it is a useful tool!

My comment about the efecne library is it has some minor performance hit on the allocation/freeing, but once you have an array it is pretty much full speed and not having to check array indexes on every access as the chip's VM unit will alert on out-of-bounds access. How much that impacts on a program depends on the relative amount of malloc'ing versus amount of array access.

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Paul Crawford
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Enforcing allocation

If you are using malloc & free then you can run the code using the electric fence library (or similar) that uses the system's VM manager hardware to enforce bound checking and will trigger a segmentation fault and thus a core dump for debugging the code. This has very little performance penalty and requires no code change other than linking with the efance library.

What is much more of a pain is the abuse of stack-allocated arrays as they are much more likely to lead to code injection, and often confuse the debugger if the function context (return address) gets trashed.

Anyone know of a simple way to debug that? I.e. some automated way of using an electric fence style of check on stack arrays without a massive code change?

Also it is worth noting that a number of tools like Coverity are quite pedantic about array use from a static analysis point of view and will help find such problems even before you run the code. Not always of course, but use all the tools you have...

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Standards body wants standards for IoT. Vendors don't care

Paul Crawford
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"lack of security for IoT deices results in a negative externality, where a cost is imposed by one party (or parties) on other parties"

OK, simple solution - make IoT vendors liable for the consequences of security breaches if any identified flaw is not automatically fixed within 30 days, maybe forcing them to have some insurance policy to cover it. That liability and/or how the premiums are calculated might just focus the idiots design and marketing minds of having a proper development, testing and support process.

What, then IoT is too expensive?

Oh dear, how sad, never mind! </Windsor Davies>

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Facebook appoints self world police, promises state attack warnings

Paul Crawford
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Re: Maybe I'm too cynical ...

Exactly. Many moons ago they pestered me to add a p[hone number "for security" as if I gave a monkey's crap about what FB contained. The more info they have on you all the better to whore you from advertiser to TLA to advertiser.

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Where will storage go over the next 15 years? We rub our crystal ball

Paul Crawford
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The only solution to the latency issue is to have you processing "machine" on the cloud-provider's infrastructure. At that point you surrender any security as that machine would necessarily have the key(s) to decrypt your data.

Otherwise you can use cloud for secure storage so long as it is encrypted at your end using a key not known to the storage provider, which is a good options for some situations (e.g. off-site backup).

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Paul Crawford
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Re: What about support?

You have a valid point, that someone has to support it.

Sadly, often the paid-for support is only a little better than what a popular (e.g. FreeNAS) forum has. I'm guessing you can also get paid support for open source solutions like FreeNAS, so its not an either-or option.

Can we have a straw poll on which major storage vendors really provide good support?

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Paul Crawford
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Re: Snapshots have never been a paid feature from NetApp

What about accessing the snapshot'd data?

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Paul Crawford
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@Roj Blake

Do I put my data on public-facing networks?

Am I subject to USA data snooping laws? Would I know if I was subpoenaed?

If I run out of short-term cash will I delete my own data?

Also money is, like AC power, or water, etc, interchangeable. The numeric value of my balance is not something that would be of special advantage for industrial espionage.

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Paul Crawford
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Electricity is a basic commodity, it has no real unique characteristics. Just 230V +/- 10%, 50Hz, (mostly) sine wave here in Europe.

My data is unique which is why it is so much more valuable. Do I trust others to look after it? No!

Sure, I might use a cloud provider to store an encrypted backup, but then if they bugger me around I still have the original, and they don't have access to whore me from advertiser (or TLA) to advertiser. Going cloudy might suit small businesses that have no tech support and limited requirements (say just email & dropbox share) but if you have big demands the cost of the "cloud", and the bandwidth needed to work with, it becomes uneconomical even before we get to data sovereignty.

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Will stock market swipe right on Tinder? Match Group files bid to IPO

Paul Crawford
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"pay to get access to other people's vitals"

The oldest trade, tarted up in the name of romance.

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Big Blue lets Chinese government eyeball source code – report

Paul Crawford
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Re: Not enough

It is a fair point, that with several MLOC and a closed environment for a few dozen folk to review the code, you have very little chance of finding anything.

If, and that is a hypothetical "if", the TLA have had backdoors planted you can be damn sure they are not so dumb as to have obvious code and matching comments to draw attention to it. Most likely it would be some apparent 'typo' that allows an exploit to be deliverer, or it would be some obscure cryptographic flaw (or blind use of closed hardware support) that makes it easy for them and hard for others to exploit.

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Job alert: Is this the toughest sysadmin role on Earth? And are you badass enough to do it?

Paul Crawford
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I think it is that a lot of dog diseases can be passed to seals.

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Paul Crawford
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Re: Wot No Huskies?

At the BAS base at Rothera they have photos of the various dog teams and some letters about what happened to the last set when they went back (I think to Canada) to live out their lives. Most did not live long, probably due to a lack of immunity to diseases on the mainland, but at least they were treated well. Still fondly remembered by the older hands.

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Self-driving vehicles might be autonomous but insurance pay-outs probably won't be

Paul Crawford
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Re: Speaking as one who has fallen from ths sky

Given two choices:

(1) broken ribs, broken vertebrae, punctured lungs, demolished spleen

(2) several months of daily buggery

I think any sane person, of any sexual disposition, would opt for the buggery!

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So just what is the third Great Invention of all time?

Paul Crawford
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Re: Measurement

+100 for this. Not only the standardised units, but the idea of standard parts (like Whitworth's screw threads) and the resulting interchangeability that led to mass production and, in many ways, the latter part of the industrial revolution and all those affordable gadgets we take for granted (you know pipes and taps for clean water, cookers, etc,).

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Radio wave gun zaps drones out of the sky – and it's perfectly legal*

Paul Crawford
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It unlikely, unless some moron of a designer makes it dependant on having a signal.

Firstly you can disrupt RF comms at levels way below those needed to actually damage electronics, and secondly most body implants have the benefit of flesh around them which works as a useful attenuator at the sort of frequencies these things work at.

Still, if you need any medical electronics to live, best not to play with an ESD simulator or similar...

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