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* Posts by Chris Miller

2457 posts • joined 6 Apr 2007

ISPs' post-net-neutrality world is built on 'bribes' says Tim Berners-Lee

Chris Miller
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What Sir Tim implied

The market works well so long as nobody except the government prints money. That's why there are laws against forgery.

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Why Oracle CEO Larry Ellison had to go ... Except he hasn't

Chris Miller
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CTO?

I've always viewed Larry as the world's greatest salesman (OK, perhaps third after Tony Blair and Bill Clinton) - but is he anyone's idea of a technology leader*?

* Yes, I know that the concept that any manager should have a clue about what they're managing was a silly 20th century delusion.

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Oracle's Larry Ellison quits as CEO – new bosses are Hurd'n'Catz

Chris Miller
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Best of luck trying to run Oracle with Larry breathing down your neck. Still, I expect the share options are good.

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Early result from Scots indyref vote? NAW, Jimmy - it's a SCAM

Chris Miller
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Re: wtf

A sandwich made with a square sausage, of course. Another delicacy to set alongside deep-fried Mars bars.

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PORTAL TO ELSEWHERE scried in small galaxy far, far away

Chris Miller
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When that happens, the black hole we found in M60-UCD1 will merge with that monster black hole

That should be worth watching - from a safe distance, couple of Mpcs perhaps.

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Boffins: Searching for ALIENS is like looking for PIZZA among students

Chris Miller
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Re: Ozone?

The argument runs that on a planet without an active biosphere, any oxygen in the atmosphere will rapidly* become incorporated into material on the surface in the form of oxides and carbonates etc. This is what we see in the solar system on Mars or Venus. So ozone indicates the presence of O2 being converted by the action of UV photons.

But this article is saying that O2 could be created by non-biological processes, so a more sophisticated test is required.

* rapidly in geological terms, i.e. over millions of years.

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Weekend reads: A new Poirot, drug-fuelled Champagne Supernovas and The Establishment

Chris Miller
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Owen Jones is one of a dwindling species, someone from a working class background

Not everyone from Sheffield who can put on a south Yorkshire accent is working class. His father was a very senior trade unionist and his mother was a university lecturer. He was parachuted as a policy research wonk into the Labour party, and has never done a day's work in his life. None of us can do much about our origins, but if Owen Jones is working class, I'm Marie of Romania. His only purpose on The Guardian is to make George Moonbat and Polly Twaddle look like intellectuals. This review, like the book itself, is very poor sixth-form stuff. For a better one, you could do much worse than to look here.

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Scottish independence: Will it really TEAR the HEART from IT firms?

Chris Miller
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@IaS

Brilliant comments (which is to say, I agree). But I actually think its worse than that for the euro.

The only logical solution would be to split the euro into two: the northern countries - Germany, Scandinavia & Benelux - would have a Neuro; and the southern countries - Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece - would have a Seuro (not sure about France - their economy belongs in the Seuro, but their amour propre may require them to be in the Neuro, if the Germans would permit it).

This might have worked at the outset, but now, as Blackadder might say: it is an excellent plan, Baldrick, with just one tiny flaw. German banks hold a lot of their assets in Seuros (understandable - Greek assets were paying about 5% and German ones roughly 0% and since they were all equally denominated in euros nothing could possibly go wrong ...). If the euro were split, these assets would swiftly depreciate and many German banks would be insolvent (as you point out some are already technically insolvent and are just trying to pretend it ain't happening) and it's not clear who has enough money to bail them out.

The only sensible thing Gordon Brown ever did was to keep the UK clear of the euro, even though he only did so to spite Tony Blair, who was desperate to join, and not for any economic reason.

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Chris Miller
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attitudes towards the EU

I'm not sure that there is the strong divergence you describe - UKIP have a Scottish MEP, and though their proportion of the 2014 vote was much lower in Scotland, that's largely explained by the existence of a much better established protest vote party in the SNP. It seems strange that Scots would seek escape from the 'hegemony' of Westminster, where they have a strong representation (many would say over-representation), and then throw themselves into the arms of the fundamentally anti-democratic EU where they would, at best, be a negligible force.

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Chris Miller
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@I ain't Spartacus

Your argument is logical, but overlooks the political realities (which always trump actual realities). The UK is not the only EU state faced with a potential secession, and those that are will not wish to set a precedent and encourage their minorities by treating seceding states with generosity. Spain (Catalunya and the Basques plus possibly Anadalucia and Galicia) would definitely veto any Scottish application to (re)join the EU (any new entrant requires unanimous support from all existing members). And even if they didn't, one or more of France (Corsica plus possibly Brittany and Alsace), Italy (Lega Nord), Belgium (Vlaams Belang) almost certainly would.

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Chris Miller
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Re: The REAL problem with Scottish independance

No problem IaS, just threaten to cut off their supplies of Bucky. Glasgow will be on its knees within a week.

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Chris Miller
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"the Scottish Government has always had a more positive policy towards skilled cheaper migrants" said a director of a software house.

FTFY

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Airbus developing inkjet printer for planes

Chris Miller
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Forget 'Hello Kitty'

What about this one? (Regularly to be seen over London en route between Heathrow and Los Angeles.)

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Cloud? Nah, we're not bothering with that, say HALF of enterprises

Chris Miller
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If you want to find out what businesses think about the 'cloud', you need to define clearly what you mean by 'cloud'. At one extreme, you've got 'put all your business data and servers onto Amazon/Microsoft/Google/whatever' (which no-one is seriously contemplating - are they?). At the other you've got 'colocate your web server' or 'use Salesforce.com' (which almost everyone does to some extent).

It suits the marketeers and buzz-word manufacturers to be able to obfuscate the position by claiming that everything is moving to the cloud, but it doesn't help those of us who inhabit the real world.

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Ballmer PERSONALLY wrote Windows' Blue Screen of Death text

Chris Miller
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@Gene

Sounds like you're talking about Netware 3. Netware 4 had Netware/Novell Directory Services (which MS eventually 'ripped off' to create Active Directory) and it worked very well at the thousand user level.

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Chris Miller
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Windows

Re: Maybe I was just lucky

And the more I learn about systems, the luckier I get.

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Chris Miller
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Re: Hung so much?

I agree. We implemented a couple of thousand Win3.1 desktops running Word/Excel with a Novell 4.1 backend (that should tell you how long ago this was). Most users left their PCs running 24x7, logging in at the beginning of the day and logging out when they went home. We started getting occasional unpredictable errors - can't open file, that sort of thing - which were fixed by powering off and then on again (yes, I know) but returned after a few weeks.

We traced it to a bug in the Novell front end that was failing to release a couple of handles at logout. After a cycle of 20 or so, there would be insufficient handles (I seem to remember there were only 64 available to users, but memory is fading) for normal operation. When we reported it, we were told that no-one had ever seen a Windows system that had been operating so long without a reboot.

Try telling that to t'youth of today ...

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The IT kit revolution's OVER, say beancounters - but how do they know?

Chris Miller
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Y2k

Apart from the (very necessary and largely effective) recoding of antique COBOL (and other) code necessary to avoid Y2k errors, there was also a huge surge in spending (mostly on PCs). Some flim-flam merchants tried to persuade PHBs that their PC fleet would all turn up its toes and die on 1/1/2000 - this was (almost entirely) a lie. Some IT/infrastructure managers, took advantage of 'free' (at least, in budgetary terms) money to refresh their PC fleet, leading to the aforementioned surge in PC spending, followed by a compensating drop over the next few years. I know, I was that IT manager.

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Vulture News anchor Regina Eggbert is (sort of) LIVE from London

Chris Miller
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Dear Regina

There is no letter 'haitch', so it's Aitch-P, Aitch-MP etc. Haitch is very hestuary.

Thanks in advance

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Why has the web gone to hell? Market chaos and HUMAN NATURE

Chris Miller
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@Tim Worstal

Could you expand on (or point me to an example of) what a socialist/market economy would look like? I assume it's a bit more than capitalism with people being nicer to each other.

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Super Cali signs a kill-switch, campaigners say it's atrocious

Chris Miller
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Nice try

but you can't quite match the (Scottish) Sun's headline.

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Loss of unencrypted back-up disk costs UK prisons ministry £180K

Chris Miller
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$180,000 is 0.002% of the MoJ budget - that'll larn 'em. Does this involve changing the 6th significant figure in two adjacent columns on some financial controllers spreadsheet?

No doubt 'lessons have been learnt' - the main lesson being that Data Protection breaches, no matter how egregious, have no significant consequences for anyone.

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My big reveal as macro-economics analyst: It's a load of COBBLERS

Chris Miller
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Re: Alternative to QE?

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,

By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;

But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,

And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "If you don't work you die."

The Gods of the Copybook Headings - Rudyard Kipling

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BBC goes titsup: iPlayer to News websites down – Auntie working to fix it

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Cracking copyright law: How a simian selfie stunt could make a monkey out of Wikipedia

Chris Miller
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Lots of wildlife photos these days are taken with camera traps. I assume no-one would dispute that the person setting up the equipment would have copyright in such images, even though the animal triggers the shutter itself (by its presence) ... but IANAL.

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iPhone owners EARN MORE THAN YOU, says mobile report

Chris Miller
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Mean salaries

can be distorted by a few high earners. Median salaries are generally more meaningful.

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LOHAN packs bags for SPACEPORT AMERICA!

Chris Miller
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Re: A very rude man from the Ministry of Obstruction

I agree, Lester, but (let's face it) it ain't going to happen any time soon - think what it would do to (already sky-high) unemployment. A lot of Spain is quite close to the old Soviet system of "we pretend to work, and they pretend to pay us". Shame, when the country and people are so lovely.

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Chris Miller
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Re: A very rude man from the Ministry of Obstruction

An admirable desire to stick to your Anglo-Saxon guns, Lester, but do you ever succeed in getting anything done through the local bureaucrats (particularly out in the wilds of Gredos)? To be fair to our Spanish friends, the pay for a lot of their government jobs isn't great and kind of assumes that earnings will be topped up with 'tips' - rather like waiters in the UK.

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Chris Miller
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Re: A very rude man from the Ministry of Obstruction

How long have you lived in Spain, Lester? Did you remember to accompany your bureaucratic request with a bottle of Carlos Primero? Well, did you?

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BAT-GOBBLING urban SPIDER QUEENS swell to ENORMOUS SIZE

Chris Miller
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Spider size

is limited by their respiratory system. Spiders have 'book lungs' (and insects have tracheae) that are not capable of delivering oxygen to interior tissues if the body size becomes too large. So the biggest spiders and insects we see today are about as large as such creatures can get (which is quite large enough, thanks). Sea-dwelling arthropods, such as crabs and lobsters, are less constrained and hundreds of millions of years ago could grow to a couple of metres in length.

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Munich considers dumping Linux for ... GULP ... Windows!

Chris Miller
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Re: An amazing piece of work?

"One of the most common things I do when receiving a message that looks a bit suspicious is to [...] inspect the content and headers"

Yup, that's what I do, too*. Using Outlook. But please don't let your inability to spend a few seconds reading a help file or use a search engine interfere with your apparent urge to dis all things MS.

The number of people who've set up Eudora for their grannie and think it's therefore the ideal choice for a 10,000 seat workflow driven system continues to amaze me.

* Though it's not what your typical end user will do.

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Ad regulator pulls down Branson-backed magic undies

Chris Miller
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It used to be women

targeted by these flimflam merchants. Anyone remember the lead-lined aprons sold in the 90s to 'protect' workers (especially pregnant women) from 'harmful' emissions emerging from VDU screens?

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Who needs hackers? 'Password1' opens a third of all biz doors

Chris Miller
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@David L. Webb

Interesting article, and thanks for the link, but I don't entirely agree. The critical bit is:

If any of the other attack methods succeed, the password needs to be changed immediately to be protected—a periodic change is likely to be too late to effectively protect the target system.

There's some truth to this, but the biggest problem with passwords as opposed to more secure (and more expensive) methods of authentication is that you can 'lose' it without knowing that you've lost it. Periodic password changes are a long stop to catch such cases. I would argue that if your security requirements are such that immediate action is vital, passwords alone are the wrong authentication method.

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Chris Miller
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@J.G.Harston

The reason for the limitation on Visa (and other) operators is that they use the 'verified by Visa' system that asks you for the 2nd, 7th and 10th character of your password, with the actual ordinals changing randomly each time. They go up to a maximum of 12*. It's intended to make life more difficult for key loggers, shoulder surfers etc.

More generally, the reason for forcing passwords to change regularly is to limit the damage when (not if) one of them 'leaks'.

* not an unreasonable limit. If you allowed (say) 30 character passwords, the chances of most people being able to correctly identify which is the 23rd character of their password is slim.

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The internet just BROKE under its own weight – we explain how

Chris Miller
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Re: Name and er, shame?

I think most BGP routers that can't handle more than 512K routes are to be found in science museums. The problem is all the ones that can handle more than 512K routes, but haven't had their config files updated.

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Stanford boffin is first woman to bag 'math Nobel Prize'

Chris Miller
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Winning a Fields is much more difficult than getting a Nobel - they're only awarded every 4 years with a maximum of 4 awarded each time. You have to be under 40, so if you're like Andrew Wiles and crack Fermat's Last Theorem at the age of 41, you're out of luck. And the prize money of C$15,000 (Fields was a Canuck) is a bit pitiful by modern standards.

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Lawsuit claims SpaceX laid off hundreds without proper notice, pay

Chris Miller
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@mike2R

True. But unless my memory's faulty it pre-dates Machiavelli by a millennium or so.

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Chris Miller
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Re: one trick my employer does.

There's an old Chinese* story of how to deal with a famine that's affecting two provinces. You identify which province has been more loyal to the emperor (and if their record is about equal you can just flip a coin). Confiscate all food in the 'bad' province (cf Ukraine 1931) and give it to the 'good' province. The people of the good province will be even more loyal to the emperor, because you've just saved them and their families from famine. And the people of the bad province don't matter, because they're all dead,.

* I think (from memory) - apologies if I'm unfairly stigmatising the Chinese.

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Chris Miller
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Re: equivalence

IANAL (and have never worked there) but I don't think California is a pure 'at-will' state. There are implied contract (of employment) fairness rulings that apply.

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World's only flyable WWII Lancaster bombers meet in Lincs

Chris Miller
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Re: error!

And it's RAF Halton not Holton (though that's how it's pronounced).

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Stalwart hatchback gets a plug-in: Volkswagen e-Golf

Chris Miller
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Re: How long is the battery warranty

I imagine the guarantee is for 160,000 km. Someone has taken that number and turned it into miles using 1.61 km = 1 mile, rounded it down to get 99,360 and then someone else has converted it back to km using the exact factor of 1.609344.

The batteries have an eight-year or 99,360 mile (159,904km) guarantee.

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Surprise! Government mega-infrastructure project cocked up

Chris Miller
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UK still leads the way in ripping off the taxpayer

At least down under they managed to build a new railway from Alice to Darwin (1,000 km) for under a billion Aussie Dollars. Compare the cost of HS2 - £50 billion (and rising) for a few hundred miles. I accept that the Ghan fits no-one's definition of high-speed rail and there aren't many tunnels, but then HS2 doesn't have to cross deserts and croc-infested rain forest (although some bits of Cheshire are a bit dodgy, I'll admit). And two bloody orders of magnitude! WTF?

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Cut price Android on steroids: OnePlus One – should we look gift horse in the gob?

Chris Miller
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I'm sure there will be lots of "it hasn't got a removable battery/SD card slot, so I won't buy it" comments. Sure, it's not a high-end phone, but battery life has become a real issue for me (and, I expect, others).

Every new release of Android places greater demands on the phone (no surprise there for anyone who's been involved in computers for more than a few years) to the point where I really don't feel comfortable going out for the day with my Galaxy S3 unless I take a spare battery. With no option to replace the battery, 'range anxiety' would be a serious problem.

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HUMAN RACE PERIL: Not nukes, it'll be AI that kills us off, warns Musk

Chris Miller
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Newsflash

Famous entrepreneur reads book - Tweets opinion.

Film at 11.

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NASA tests crazytech flying saucer thruster, could reach Mars in days

Chris Miller
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@Machdiamond

I'll show you the back of my envelope for getting to Mars in 23 days (ignoring gravitational wells along the way):

Mass = 10 tonnes = 10^4 kg (Apollo CM+SM+LEM was ~5 tonnes, but a lot of that was fuel)

Time = 10^6 s (11.5 days)

Distance = 200 million km = 2x10^11 m

We want to get half way (10^11 m) at constant acceleration and then turnover and start slowing down, which gives an acceleration of 0.2 m/s^2 (0.02g) (s = a.t^2/2)

Peak velocity = a.t = 2x10^5 m/s (450,000 mph!)

Kinetic energy is m.v^2/2 = 2 x10^14 Joules

Dividing by time (10^6 secs) gives us a power consumption of 200MW (and, of course, you wouldn't get anywhere near 100% efficiency).

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Cisco patches OSPF bug that sends traffic into black holes

Chris Miller
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OSPF was (historically, at least) a poor relation on Cisco kit. Cisco preferred their proprietary (E)IGRP, which gave better customer lock-in.

Factoid: the Open in OSPF is an adjective, not a verb.

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NASA boffin: RIDDLE of odd BULGE FOUND on MOON is SOLVED

Chris Miller
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Re: "Volcanic activity."

Not for billions of years. But the mare (mainly basalts) are believed to have been created by volcanic activity.

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Scotland's BIG question: Will independence cost me my broadband?

Chris Miller
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Re: Genuine question

True, Graeme, but I'm struggling to think of an example that Scotland might wish to emulate.

If there is a 'Yes' vote in September, I think Salmond's first reaction might well be: "Oh shit, what have I done?"

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Chris Miller
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Genuine question

What happens to the SNP in the event of a 'Yes' vote? Surely it serves no purpose in an independent Scotland. I think Farage has promised that he would wind up UKIP if the UK ever leaves the EU.

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China in MONOPOLY PROBE into Microsoft: Do not pass GO, do not collect 200 yuan

Chris Miller
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What Microsoft are accused of

Not paying sufficient bribes to members of The Party.

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