* Posts by Chris Miller

3073 posts • joined 6 Apr 2007

Panama Papers graph database cracked open for world+dog

Chris Miller
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Re: re: ICJ

Since 370 journos have spent 5 months searching the records and have failed to identify any illegal behaviour, I think it's unlikely it will be (that and the fact that the ICJ has no jurisdiction in civil matters). The most astounding revelation to date is that dodgy dictators like to hide funds offshore. Wow! Who knew?

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Remain in the EU and help me snoop on the world, says Theresa May

Chris Miller
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@Voland

I fear your medication in in need of adjustment. Continual swearing just makes you sound very childish, as does RANDOM capitalisation - which is perhaps your intent.

Do you still think that submitting to the ECHR is just like signing an international treaty? You may want your laws decided by failed lawyers and third rate academics appointed on some Buggins' turn system from who knows where, but I prefer to have elected representatives, who I can vote to remove if I'm not satisfied with them. Is that too difficult to understand?

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Chris Miller
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Re: ECHR is also part of the N.Ireland Peace agreement

There's a world of difference between entering into a treaty, which like any legal contract (hopefully) clearly states what your obligations will be and the conditions under which they can be demanded of you, and binding your courts to a third party entity whose word is absolute and can demand anything they like whenever they like.

I've no problem with implementing the wording of some set of human rights conventions into English law and letting our judges interpret them, I'm very concerned about transferring such powers to an unrepresentative body over whom we have no democratic control.

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Prof squints at Google's mobile monopoly defence, shakes head

Chris Miller
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Clarification please

The Fire Phone had a lot to be said for it. It had some real innovations, it was a perfectly promising device. However, without access to the Google Play Store, you couldn't install Facebook, or Uber, and many other apps.

Does that mean Facebook, Uber etc chose only to use Google Play and not to go to the expense of developing for an alternative, or does Google enforce this in some way? I've installed apps on my (bog standard, Nexus) phone without going through Google Play. It's a bit more fiddly, but not much. For me, the advantage of using Google Play is that the software is less likely to contain malware (whether deliberate or intentional). (Although I realise that, in the eyes of some users, anything emanating from Google is malware :)

As I understand it, this is different from the Apple ecosystem, where installing an app from any source other than Apple is (effectively, for most users) impossible.

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Are bearded blokes more sexist?

Chris Miller
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Re: wrong

There is nothing in the Koran requiring men to have beards, but it is in the sayings of the prophet Mohammed. Some Muslims argue that the sayings of the Prophet may be reinterpreted to reflect changes in society over the last 1,400 years. Other Muslims say that people who argue this way should be beheaded. You pays your money ...

It's undoubtedly true that in Britain, Muslims are over-represented amongst men with beards, but there is no 1-1 correlation between the two sets.

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Obama to admit Moon landing was faked?

Chris Miller
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I thought it was well known that bookies love it when an outsider wins. They pay out heavily when favourites win, an outsider winning usually means a big profit. On top of which, there's lots of free publicity, like this article.

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URL shorteners reveal your trip to strip club, dash to disease clinic – research

Chris Miller
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Microsoft, whose OneDrive also has an embedded shortener

Not any more - it seems to have disappeared.

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Hey, Atlantis Computing. What the heck is this in your EULA?

Chris Miller
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Slow news day?

Many, many vendors have similar clauses. I've seen it, for example, in contracts from large companies with two-letter and three-letter names (historically, I haven't dealt with such matters for many years, but I'd be surprised if things have changed). I've no idea whether they're legally enforceable or not.

If you ask a lawyer to produce a contract, they're very unlikely to start with a blank screen. They'll take an existing contract that's known to have worked successfully and make any necessary amendments (cf programming). That's why such things tend to get longer and longer ...

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Bloaty banking app? There's a good chance it was written in Britain

Chris Miller
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Re: re:The average lines of code (LOC)

Certainly if you're writing in COBOL, the language where it famously takes 600 LOC to write a "hello world" program.

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Elon Musk takes wraps off planet-saving Model 3 vapourmobile

Chris Miller
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Re: Electric Cars are not a new invention...

Batteries have been pushing the limits imposed by electrochemistry for decades, which is why over that period we've seen only a few percent improvement in energy density (the key factor). There's no chance of a doubling in performance - that would require a completely new technology (probably not electrochemical). Even if this were discovered tomorrow, it would take another decade of development (at least) before we'd see cars using it.

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Chris Miller
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Re: @Martin

Depends what you mean by non-trivial - the commercial systems I've seen are nearly £400 (after a government grant of £500) - that includes the cost of an additional charger unit for the car. Not that I've looked into it particularly closely, because I'm almost always charging in the evening/overnight, so 3½ or 5 hours makes no real difference to me.

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Chris Miller
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@Martin

You're right, my experience with my own (plug-in) hybrid is that the manufacturer's claimed electric range of 32 miles could only be achieved on completely flat terrain at a constant 55 mph. If I'm very careful, I can (after 3 months' experience) get 25 miles, but in winter with heating, lights and wipers going, 20 miles would be a struggle (and battery performance is worse in cold weather).

The other problem for Tesla owners must be recharging. My car has a 10kWh battery and takes 5 hours to recharge from empty* using a standard domestic 3-pin socket** (2.3 kW). If you went for the fully loaded Tesla with a 90kWh battery, that's going to take almost two full days to charge at home. You can charge the Tesla (and my car) much more quickly at the high-power outlets now available at most motorway services (when they're working!) and increasingly in super-store car parks (or at your work if they have one), but for many people that may not be an option.

* Actually, the car's computer won't let the charge drop below 15%, partly to protect the battery (Li-Ions don't like to be totally depleted), partly so there's enough juice to start the petrol engine when necessary.

** I could (at non-trivial cost) get a dedicated 16A socket installed at home, but that only reduces the charging time to 3½ hours, which (for me anyway) isn't worth the money.

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Chris Miller
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Re: Sedan (definition?)

Sedan = 4-door saloon

Coupe = 2-door saloon

Station Wagon = estate car.

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Tesla books over $8bn in overnight sales claims Elon Musk

Chris Miller
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Re: The elephant in the room...

The battery pack on my PHEV has a 10-year 120,000 mile (200,000 km) warranty. But the web sites are full of tales of EVs being 'bricked' at super-chargers - they need to be towed to the nearest dealer for a quick CTRL-ALT-DEL - though this is covered by warranty, it's still a huge inconvenience.

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The Register to publish Mindful Sysadmin adult colouring book

Chris Miller
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People who bought this also bought

Samsung LTD

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When should you bin that old mainframe? Infrastructure 101

Chris Miller
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Re: SNMP - Ha-Ha

SNMP = Simply Not My Problem

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X-ray scanners, CCTV cams, hefty machinery ... let's play: VNC Roulette!

Chris Miller
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Or a simpler (than SSH) solution

Don't use default ports on private services. There was an experiment done a while back putting up two honeypots running completely unpatched (MS) web servers. One was on port 80 and would be pwned within minutes. The other was on port 81 and sat there quite happily for weeks on end.

This solution isn't recommended for really sensitive stuff, but should be good enough to protect your torrents.

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Confused by crypto? Here's what that password hashing stuff means in English

Chris Miller
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Re: Chrome's "Pinning" doesn't appear to work

More or less every organisation will do something similar, not because they want to read your billets doux to your significant other, but so they can check that attachments in encrypted emails are free from (obvious) malware. Most security devices come with such a global certificate, which the sysadmins can install on all machines under their control.

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Computers shouldn't smoke. Cigarettes aren't healthy for anyone

Chris Miller
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I've told this story before (sorry)

In the late 90s I was called to the computer room at our German call centre (located, like many German call centres, in former East Germany). The aircon was unable to maintain temperature and the servers (AS/400) were complaining. The room was just a standard office area that had been partitioned off and the doors carried Nicht Rauchen stickers.

It didn't take long to spot the problem - the windows were wide open. I pointed out that this was preventing the aircon from working effectively. "Yes, but if we close them, it sets off the fire alarms when we smoke." A typical Ostie attitude toward dictats from central authority.

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Look who just joined Salesforce... it's former European commish Neelie Kroes

Chris Miller
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I'm sure she'll bring with her a deep understanding of technical issues or, failing that, which vintage of Mouton Rothschild goes best with Tournedos Rossini.

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Iain Duncan Smith's Universal Credit: A timeline

Chris Miller
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To reshuffle or not?

Cameron seems averse to reshuffles. In one way, this is commendable, ministers need time to grasp their brief and moving them every few years means they rarely achieve competence. But the downside is that catastrophic projects continue, because the minister's political reputations are nailed to them - that's been the problem with IDS and Universal Credit (good idea, woeful implementation). HS2 is another obvious example that needs to be swept away by a new broom.

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Web ads are reading my keystrokes and I can’t even spel propperlie

Chris Miller
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Re: Private Eye

If you consult Mr Orlowski's WikP entry, you will find he was (back in the 90s) the Eye's computing correspondent. Almost all Private Eye contributors use pseudonyms and his was Anna Rack.

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Chris Miller
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Private Eye

have been running a regular feature called Malgorithms "dedicated to excellence in contextual advertising". Current example:-

Telegraph online headline: Adam Johnson faces being locked up alongside Ian Huntley and Levi Bellfield at high security prison

Accompanying ad: Save on JOHNSON'S® baby products with CaringEveryDay.co.uk. Sign up!

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Too Naked for the Nazis streaks to literary glory

Chris Miller
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Reading from Behind: A Cultural History of the Anus.

Is it by any chance a guide to the chief town of Berkshire?

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I beg you, please don't back up that secret directory full of photos!

Chris Miller
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I had a very similar experience circa 2000. An IT manager had decided to use a work server to store images of himself and a group of friends keeping company with a gimp (and we're not talking picture editing software, here). Nothing illegal, whatever floats your boat etc - but ... keeping them (unencrypted) on a work server, that someone else has admin rights over? Not a great idea.

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Go No! Google cyber-brain bests top-ranked human in ancient game

Chris Miller
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When Kasparov lost to Deep Blue, he pointed out that humans play chess very differently from computers. Chess grandmasters (and I imagine the same is true of Go) hone their skills against human opponents. Their true genius lies not just in developing a strategy for each game but also in spotting their opponent's strategy and then finding a way to defeat it. Kasparov realised that Deep Blue didn't have a strategy in the same way as a human would - he said that if he had to play a computer again, he would have to learn to play in a different manner.

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Email pioneer Raymond Tomlinson dies aged 74

Chris Miller
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Thank you, sir

Without Raymond Tomlinson we might all be using X.400 email - motto: you're not a real man unless your address is too long to fit onto a business card.

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Surprise! That blood-pressure app doesn't measure blood pressure

Chris Miller
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I have the same experience. A commercial 'cuff' machine, similar to those in the surgery costs about £30. There's no reason why a less absolutely accurate device shouldn't be useful in spotting trends, which could lead you to getting a 'proper' check.

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Uncle Sam's boffins stumble upon battery storage holy grail

Chris Miller
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@Steve

Also, electric vehicles can be charged at home, which (for most of us, anyway) can't be said of petrol-powered ones.

I've recently bought an electric car* (plug-in hybrid). It has a 10kW battery giving a pure electric range of "up to" 30 miles (realistically, more like 20). It takes over 5 hours to recharge from empty using a 10A (2.4kW) socket at home - how long would it take to charge a car capable of a realistic 400 mile range (like most internal combustion vehicles)? It's true that I can pay (several hundred pounds, even with subsidies) to have a 16A charger installed, which would cut the time to 3½ hrs, but it hardly seems worth it for a relatively small gain.

Public 'fast' chargers can deliver up to 60kW, but they're designed to stop charging at 80-85% 'full' (my antique A-level physics suggests to me that this is because the battery 'resistance' rises to the point where the heat generated (and energy lost) during charging becomes insupportable - can anyone confirm this idea?) But making such chargers universal would require rewiring every home in the country (and corresponding improvements to electricity generation and distribution)

FWIW I really like the car and it's saving me a lot of money (measured 90 mpg - equivalent to 60 mpg once I include the cost of electricity) and that's for a substantial SUV. There's a Register review (of the old model) here.

* Full disclosure: the decision was almost entirely the result of government subsidies and little to do with any desire to save the planet.

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There's a courier here says he's got 50TB of cloud data for you

Chris Miller
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Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of tapes hurtling down the highway. - Andrew S Tanenbaum

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Hillary Clinton private email server probe winding up – reports

Chris Miller
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Re: What was going through Clinton's head?

There's no problem with using a private email server for private messages. There's a big problem with using it to deliberately circumvent FoI or to handle classified material. If there's credible evidence for this having happened, it should be tested in court.

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Don't take a Leaf out of this book: Nissan electric car app has ZERO authentication

Chris Miller
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@Mattjimf - good guess! Yes, this 'hack' is much more of a problem for pure EVs (as are many other things - range anxiety, for example). Buying one of these vehicles requires careful consideration of your motoring use and how likely it is to change. 20 miles is enough for me to do 90% of my 'normal' motoring on battery alone, and the occasional long trip can still be relatively efficient in hybrid mode. But if you're pulling a 50 mile commute to a spot where there's no recharging facilities, this may not be the car for you (unfortunately, the government's financial incentives apply just the same).

@Teecee Mitsi claim 30 miles electric range, but 25 miles is actually a bit optimistic here in the Chilterns, perhaps if I lived in Holland I might get further!

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Chris Miller
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Re: No excuse for sloppy security, but

PS The phone reports WPA2 PSK. I've noticed Marshmallow is quite picky about even allowing you to connect to WiFi networks whose security it doesn't approve of!

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Chris Miller
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No excuse for sloppy security, but

I'm not sure it would be easy to 'drain the battery'. MY PHEV (purchased following a favourable review by ElReg) comes with a similar app. I can check the battery state, and turn on the heating (handy these cold mornings) or headlights (handy on dark mornings), but that's about it. The heating is the most energy intensive, but only drops the charge state by a few percent.

It only works from devices that have been physically paired with car's WiFi, and to do this you need the keys. To set it up is quite complicated and most of the complaints on the users' forums are from owners who can't get it to work.

If I can summon the enthusiasm, I'll run the sniffer on my laptop and see if there's anything interesting to see.

As an aside, the phone app received an OTA update a few days after I'd got my new shiny car. After Android had updated it, I got a message saying "You now need to update the software in the vehicle". Somewhat sphincter-tightening - the remote possibility of a failed update bricking your £400 phone is one thing, bricking a £40k car is another! Fortunately there were no problems and I've not seen any major ones reported on the aforementioned forums. There are, however, numerous complaints about electric cars being 'bricked' after (ab)using the fast chargers that are now ubiquitous at motorway services, though.

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Google human-like robot brushes off beating by puny human – this is how Skynet starts

Chris Miller
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No robots were harmed during the making of this video.

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Gov must put superfast broadband along HS2 rail line, says Parliament

Chris Miller
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Facepalm

Re: So...

Yes, I'm sure the reason that you've got crappy broadband in your remote Scottish village (or inner city area, for that matter) is because there just isn't enough fibre capacity between London and Birmingham.

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Plane food sees pilot grounded by explosive undercarriage

Chris Miller
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"aircraft fumes"

Many pilots are concerned about this. On most airliners, cabin air is obtained by bleeding air from the engines, which are lubricated using some fairly dangerous chemicals. If seals aren't quite as tight as they should be it's possible for the air to be contaminated. Anecdotally, some aircraft types are worse than others.

There's no definitive evidence for this, and much possibility for psychosomatic symptoms, but problems have been reported numerous times (as this report demonstrates). The new Boeing Dreamliners use as a USP the fact that they don't produce cabin air from the engines, getting it directly from the outside atmosphere (and at somewhat higher internal pressure, too).

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Meet the original Big Data, TED Talk, Thought Shower Futurist

Chris Miller
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I was disappointed to learn that William Playfair was nothing to do with the Playfair cypher.

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What would happen if Earth fell into a black hole?

Chris Miller
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Do you usually find it 'toxic' to have your preconceptions challenged? For Tim's own pieces there's certainly some NSFW language ("Flatulent Tosspottery" being one of his sections), but there's little in there that wasn't covered at some point in his Reg articles. The comments (largely unmoderated) are a whole 'nuther matter.

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Cybersecurity is slowing down my business, say majority of chief execs

Chris Miller
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If you think safety is expensive

Try having an accident.

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Scariest climate change prediction yet: More time to eat plane food

Chris Miller
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Re: Surely it wil average out

It's just the way 'averages' (arithmetic means) work. Consider a 60 mph journey by bike. If you can pedal at 30 mph in a flat calm, you can get there and back (120/30) in 4 hours. Now suppose there's a 10 mph head wind (to be exact, a head wind that slows you down by 10 mph) in one direction (tail wind in the other, of course). So getting there now takes 3 hours (60/20) and getting back takes 1.5 hours (60/40), and your whole journey takes 30 minutes longer.

However, in the real aviation world, as an earlier post suggested, airlines reroute westbound to avoid the jet stream so this simplistic approach is wrong - faster jet streams further reduce travel times eastbound and don't have much effect westbound.

Anecdotal illustration - a flight from Heathrow to New York will usually route out over Liverpool, Ireland and then you won't see any land until Long Island. But I've done the route on a very windy day and ended up going over Greenland (normally only seen on flights to the US west coast) and coming in over the St Lawrence (I could see Quebec City off the starboard side). The flight took an hour or so longer than normal.

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Chris Miller
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@Will

I'd just add: and plenty of scope for conflicting traffic with CDG and AMS. Boris Island is an arts graduate's 'solution' to the problem.

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Send tortuous stand-up ‘nine-thirty’ meetings back to the dark ages

Chris Miller
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And another 30% of the time goes on filling in 8 different and incompatible time sheet systems, to no apparent purpose (billing the client 8 times, I suspect).

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Computer Science grads still finding it hard to get a job

Chris Miller
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There's an academic discipline called computer science. It's a branch of maths and looks at issues such as "does P=NP?" This has almost nothing to do with the ability to turn out neat, compact code under time pressure, which is what employers are looking for - it isn't a pure academic discipline, rather an acquired skill, like welding (which is not meant to denigrate either welding or writing code). We used to have further education establishments which taught such skills, but now they're all rebranded as 'universities' and must do academic stuff.

Twenty years ago we worked closely with our local technical college to do the 'work experience' segment of their computing courses. We got keen late teenagers to work with us for three months, which meant we had an excellent feel for their true performance. We were very keen to take on the good ones, and some of my best people came through this route.

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Boffins' gravitational wave detection hat trick blows open astronomy

Chris Miller
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@Mikel

If it were a tidal effect, then it would follow a third power law (and anything up to a few hundred light years would be disintegrated). But my gut feel is that it isn't.

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Chris Miller
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Re: Paper is publicly available

Thanks for the link - the Ligo one worked for me. My highlight from a quick scan: peak luminosity (in gravitational energy) of 3.6×10⁴⁹ W (that's 10^49). If this had been in electromagnetic form, it would easily (though briefly) have outshone everything else in the visible universe put together. I wonder what the effect would be on anything reasonably 'close' - say a few light-years?

Edited to say, I guess that means a billion times closer, so a billion billion times stronger, which means a full metre displacement on a Ligo-style detector. It would give any nearby planets a substantial jolt (unless I've misplaced a dp somewhere).

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Andreessen stokes the Facebook Free Basics ‘colonialism’ row

Chris Miller
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Re: Are these apples or oranges?

Internet access isn't a substitute for food, but it may help very poor people reach a point where they can buy food for themselves.

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Japanese boffins fire up 100Gbps wireless broadband connection

Chris Miller
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Tin foil hats obligatory

That is all.

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