* Posts by Chris Miller

2831 posts • joined 6 Apr 2007

El Reg touches down at the ESA's Spanish outpost, sniffs around

Chris Miller
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Re: Hnag on!

.int was one of the original 7 TLDs*. It was intended for organisations set up by international treaty, and wasn't widely used, but NATO (for example) has always been at nato.int.

* gov edu org com mil net int (plus .arpa, of course).

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Chris Miller
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I'm confused*

Why do they need to keep a 1999 model computer running? I assume it can't be just to store data in esoteric formats, so presumably the answer must be that there are programs that are still needed and won't run on anything else, but I struggle to think what they might be. Probably, I'm just missing something obvious.

* What, again?

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How much of ONE YEAR's Californian energy use would WIPE OUT the DROUGHT?

Chris Miller
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UK problem

It's not as though the UK as a whole (or even England on its own) could ever run short of water. It's just that most of it falls in the NW and most of the people are in the SE. There's clearly no way THAT problem could ever be solved. </sarcasm>

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Hurrah! Uber does work (in the broadest sense of the word) after all

Chris Miller
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@JG Harston

No, that's not correct. If you want a taxi licence (as opposed to private hire), you have to buy one from an existing 'owner'. In my part of Buckinghamshire, they go for about £30-40k.

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Exploding 'laptop batt' IN SPAAACE! Speeding lithium spaffed by nova

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World-beating TWO-QUADRILLION-WATT LASER fired by boffins

Chris Miller
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Re: A fry up or a fusion meal?

Food calories are 'large' calories (kilocalories), so this is about half a calorie (if you're watching that waistline).

For your further scientific edification, boffins (to use the ElReg approved terminology) can now produce lasers from bacon (almost).

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Invisible app ads slug smartmobes with 2GB of daily downloads

Chris Miller
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Re: @Mark

I'm sure you're right that some (I'd say many) people can't work AdBlock. There'll be others (like me) who could use it, but don't as they consider it to be freeloading (ask some of the nice people at ElReg how long they'd stay open if every reader used ad blockers).

But if you're smart enough to work out the issues with Internet ads and the 'gaming' that goes on by the ad suppliers, I'm pretty sure the people in the marketing department at $Megacorp can too.

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Chris Miller
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Re: @bazza

It's true that the Internet has captured half of all advertising revenues. That's not the same thing as those total revenues doubling - that really is 'rot' - there's a reason print media are struggling.

But, as I pointed out, if you really believe in your own position, you should start a business with no advertising (or, at least, no Internet advertising). Since everyone else is throwing their money away, you'll clean up. See you at the next Bilderberg meeting!

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Chris Miller
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@Mark

I'm irritated by online adverts, too (though I suspect we're not the typical target audience). The truth is that online advertising is a new, thoroughly immature industry. Compared to the (similarly irritating ) TV adverts that have been running for almost 75 years, where the nice people at AC Nielsen will tell you fairly precisely how many people watched your advert - they're trying (and investing huge amounts of time and money) to do the same thing for Internet ads, but it's (obviously) much more difficult.

But if you're correct and online ads put off more people than they encourage to buy a product, they will eventually stop.

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Chris Miller
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@Alan

Of course, not all advertising is equally effective* (or effective at all). But net, net it must more than pay for itself or people wouldn't do it. If you doubt this, feel free to start your own business and promote it by word of mouth only. Your product should be cheaper than your competitors, and you'll make billions. Or maybe not.

* As Viscount Leverhulme famously observed of Unilever: “I know that half the money I spend on advertising is wasted. My only problem is that I don’t know which half.”

@moiety Yes advertising costs are tax deductible, like every other legitimate business expense, such as offices, plant or wages. It isn't some weird tax dodge.

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Chris Miller
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@bazza

You could enrol at your local continuing education establishment for a basic business economics course, or consider the following argument:

Why do businesses spend money on advertising? It's not because they like to reduce their profits by throwing money away, it's because advertising, like it or not, has been demonstrated to increase sales volumes and hence revenues. Greater sales volumes allow fixed costs to be spread over more units and hence tend to reduce prices, not increase them.

So, no, however much you may personally dislike adverts, you're not paying for them through increased prices, and nor am I.

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Hurrah! Windfarms produce whopping ONE PER CENT of EU energy

Chris Miller
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Re: Why's this a story?

And "some countries such as Denmark" have the most expensive power in the world and their industrial base is rapidly closing down or moving out as a result.

I'm glad you realise that "8% of electricity used isn't the same as 8% of energy used" - now ask yourself why it's always the former that's quoted by enthusiasts for renewables, rather than the latter; and often in a deliberately confusing form: "this wind farm will produce enough power for 10,000 homes" with the key word electrical power 'accidentally' omitted.

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So what the BLINKING BONKERS has gone wrong in the eurozone?

Chris Miller
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Re: Be careful what you wish for

The UK being outside the EZ is probably the single economic decision that Gordon Brown called correctly. The fact that he only did it to foil Tony Blair, who was desperate for us to join, shouldn't blind us to his success.

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Chris Miller
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Re: HOW IT WORKS *

The member economies of the EZ are very different , but are they very much more different than (say) California and Michigan, where a common currency seems to work reasonably well?

Part (a large part?) of the problem is that (as Tim points out) the German banks were in deep doo-doo. At the start of the EZ, they'd chosen to invest heavily in Greek € bonds paying several percent rather than German ones paying (almost) 0% - what could possibly go wrong?

For the price of a few hundred billion in support, Merkel gave them time to disentangle themselves (at least, sufficiently to survive a Grexit). Now the banks are clear, the Greeks can go swivel.

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YOU! DEGRASSE! It's time to make Pluto a proper planet again, says NASA boffin

Chris Miller
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Categorisation isn't a problem that's unique to astronomy. There are countless objects within the solar system - some orbiting the sun, some orbiting each other* - and whatever human-imposed dividing line we choose, there will be objects in one class close to the boundary that have more in common with objects in the other class than those in their own.

Pluto is simply the largest (as far as we know at the moment) 'dwarf planet' rather than the smallest 'planet', but the distinction is a purely linguistic one and makes no difference to the properties of the object itself.

* Even this distinction isn't completely clear cut, 'Trojan' objects (at L4 or L5) can be considered as orbiting the sun or their neighbouring planet.

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Arctic ice EMBIGGENS, returns to 1980s levels of cap cover

Chris Miller
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@Henri

I'm sure Mr Page can defend himself, but a cursory glance at his details reveals him to hold an engineering degree from Cambridge. I don't know if that gives someone a 'scientific background' in your circles, but it does in mine. Still I suppose he must be unlikely to be a real scientist, because (as we all know) "99% of scientists" subscribe to warmist alarmism.

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Chris Miller
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@TheVogon

I think you mean anthropogenic, rather than anthropomorphic. As for the "that hasn't been in any credible scientific doubt for at least a decade now", it all depends what you mean by AGW. Mankind has dumped gigatonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere over the last couple of centuries. There's no scientific doubt that doing this will tend to increase atmospheric temperatures through the greenhouse effect and associated changes. There's a great deal of scientific uncertainty about (a) how much of the temperature increase over the last couple of centuries is properly attributable to AGW; and (b) how much increase we might expect if we continue our atmospheric pollution unchecked.

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Greece? Zzzz. EU bank says TWEETING can move the stock market

Chris Miller
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I may sign up to Twitter

Just so I can Tweet that all Greece's problems are caused by Tweets - I read it on ElReg!

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Are you a Tory-voting IT contractor? Congrats! Osborne is hiking your taxes

Chris Miller
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@Sir Runcible

in Germany [...] most of the technical terms are used as-is

Yes, indeed. And in sharp contrast to France where they have a government department to come up with 'official' new words, such as ordinateur for computer, réseau for network, etc. Of course, being an official government edict, everyone in France completely ignores it :)

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You Musk be joking: Tesla's zero to 60MPH in 2.8 SECONDS is literally 'ludicrous'

Chris Miller
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Re: 90kWh

And I'll bet the version that does it in 2.8 seconds, isn't the one with the 90 kWh battery. Time to put your money where your mouth is? (Or perhaps just wind your neck in.)

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Chris Miller
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90kWh

Means an extra 0.5 tonne over the standard 30kWh battery - I bet that won't achieve 0-60 in 2.8s. And how many times can you do these high-performance starts? I have the image of a Tesla owner 'roaring' ('whispering'?) away from the lights shouting 'eat my dust suckers" and then coasting feebly to a halt.

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Twitter shares soar after buyout story appears on bogus Bloomberg site

Chris Miller
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Is it not a minimum $190,000 to get a TLD? This clearly wasn't being done just for laughs (sorry, LOLs).

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Large Hadron SMASHER: Boffins BLOW OPEN the PENTAQUARK's secrets

Chris Miller
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"If I have seen less far than other men, it is because dwarfs were standing on my shoulders."

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WHAT ARE the 'WEIRD' SPOTS seen on far-flung PLUTO?

Chris Miller
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Δv

It's a tiny rocket scientists' joke - delta-v measures the change in velocity that a given rocket configuration of thrust and fuel is capable of delivering to a specified payload, and that (kinda) defines what you can do with it. A Δv of 8 km/s will get you from the Earth's surface to orbit, for example and 11 km/s (escape velocity) will get you to most places in the solar system, eventually. It doesn't tell you how long it will take to get there - Voyager has accumulated enough Δv (>42 km/s) to reach another stellar system, but it may take some time ...

Wikip article.

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Chris Miller
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Ion-engine

According to the back of this-here envelope:

Distance to Pluto = 7.5 billion km

acceleration of 0.0003 m/s2 (this is what Dawn achieved)

Time to half-way turnover = 3.5 years

So 7 years for a voyage to a stop at Pluto, with peak velocity of 33 km/s.

(All ignoring gravity wells, possible 'slingshot' from intermediate bodies, initial lift to escape velocity &c &c, but order of magnitude should be correct if I haven't slipped a decimal point ...)

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China wants to build a 200km-long undersea tunnel to America

Chris Miller
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@Ledswinger

There will be no private sector investment in HS2 (it fails to meet the UK's criteria for RoI on infrastructure spending, even after massive fiddling of the numbers) - Chinese government funds, possibly. Once bitten, twice shy.

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Chris Miller
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Re: It's not for people, only goods...

Yes, a long train journey can be made more like an ocean cruise - not the quickest way from A to B, but possibly the most enjoyable. Crossing North America by rail means you've got great scenery, like the Rockies, to look at, but there's still many hours of flat, indistinguishable prairie, as well. A friend who's taken the Trans-Siberian described it as "a week of watching birch trees go past the window from 10 feet away", and the proposed route would include a great deal of such 'excitement'.

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Chris Miller
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Re: Purpose

Exactly. And the existing Alaskan railroads (to use the local vernacular) don't go anywhere near the Bering strait and are not connected to the North American rail network. Fixing those two issues would be a minor job compared to a 200 mile tunnel, of course :)

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GIGANTIC galaxy-chomping black hole rips boffins a new one

Chris Miller
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Re: The Mario Draghi Galaxy: Enormously Holey

I don't have access to Science, but my guess would be that we don't tend to see active black holes in nearby galaxies. Black holes of several billion solar masses will easily outlast the rest of the universe - Hawking radiation is insignificant at such sizes, in fact it's currently (and for the very long-term future) outweighed by the gain in mass from the cosmic microwave background.

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PLUTO: The FINAL FRONTIER – best image yet of remote, icy dwarf planet REVEALED

Chris Miller
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Re: Maybe they will find

I thought that was Nereid? OTOH there have been two frozen astronauts there since 1989 (Wait it out).

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Ginormous HIDDEN BLACK HOLES flood the universe – boffins

Chris Miller
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Re: so...

No. Even the most massive black holes are just a tiny fraction (<<1%) of the total (visible) mass of the galaxies in which they have been found. For dark matter, we're looking for something that's 4-5x the total visible mass. Massive compact halo objects (MACHOs) - stellar mass black holes, brown dwarfs, etc. - have been pretty much eliminated as a possible explanation for the 'missing' dark matter; the search is on for Weakly Interacting Massive Particles (WIMPs) - it's hoped that CERN may turn up a candidate particle now it's running close to its full power rating.

The other possibility is Modified Newtonian Dynamics (MOND), changing the inverse square law of gravity in a way that would be undetectable at the scale of the solar system, but could account for the dynamics of galaxies. But the smart money is still on WIMPs (unless CERN turns up empty?)

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Look! Up in the sky! Five Brit satellites on one Indian rocket!

Chris Miller
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Re: The natural result of abandoning a space program

It's already outsourced to Brussels. There's going to be a vote on insourcing next year.

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Chris Miller
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Re: The natural result of abandoning a space program

Alternatively, you could argue that building launch vehicles isn't (either now or historically) profitable for anyone, while building satellites is a a viable business. And we have two of the world's leading constructors based in the UK (admittedly, one is now owned by Airbus).

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Adam Smith was right about that invisible hand, you know

Chris Miller
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Re: The value of local knowledge

The main driving force (as Tim acknowledges towards the end of the article) is that local banks, insurers etc. have liabilities denominated in the local currency. Investing in 'foreign' stocks carries risks of both stock movement and currency movements.

We had an interesting example of this when the eurozone was created. German banks, fed up with getting tiny returns on their holdings of German bonds found that they could get much higher returns on Greek government bonds denominated in what was now the same currency. What could possibly go wrong?

The German government-inspired process of kicking the Greek problem a few months down the road by throwing money at it, was precisely to give time for their banks to untangle their Greek assets without becoming insolvent. Now that has been achieved, the Greeks can go swivel.

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Reg hack survives world's longest commercial flight

Chris Miller
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Upgrades

are what air-miles are for (heaven knows they're of little use for anything else). But for the price of a seat upgrade, you could upgrade to a 5* hotel at your destination for a week or even two, which has to be better value than 16 hours in a bigger seat.

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Pisspoor EE customer service earns it a cool £1 MILLION Ofcom fine

Chris Miller
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Seriously, £1 million, that must be 1 board of directors' quarterly bonus.

But that won't be where the fine is taken from.

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UK TV is getting worse as younglings shun the BBC et al, says Ofcom

Chris Miller
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The BBC have a solution to the problem

They're planning to reduce their layers of management from 10 to 'only' 7. [This is not a joke, hence the absence of the icon.]

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Boffin: Will I soon be able to CLONE a WOOLLY MAMMOTH? YES. Should I? Hell NO

Chris Miller
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Alien

If we're going to terraform Mars, we'll need something to control the mammoths. How about a banth?

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Looking forward to getting Windows 10 the day it ships? Yeah, about that...

Chris Miller
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Be the first in your street to own Windows 10!

If forty-cough years in IT have taught me anything, it's that you can always spot a pioneer, because they're the ones face down in the dirt with an arrow in their back.

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Europol and Barclays shack up for steamy security shenanigans

Chris Miller
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Barclays

Just the people to be helping the police with their enquiries - see Forex rigging, LIBOR rigging, pensions and PPI mis-selling etc etc ad nauseam.

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Why OH WHY did Blighty privatise EVERYTHING?

Chris Miller
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Re: You fucking WHAT…?!

Chiltern are my local service provider and very good, many people use them for Birmingham-London in preference to Virgin, even though it's a somewhat slower service. They're run by real railmen (the former chairman had a standard gauge steam railway in his garden) and owned by DB, which helps, but their big advantage is that for much of their route they're the only train operator. They're actually opening a new section of line so that you'll be able to travel direct from Marylebone - High Wycombe - Oxford (services start in September).

They had a 'subsidiary' called Wrexham & Shropshire, an 'Open Access Operator' which ran a superb (dining cars with real ale and real food) but slow and hugely underused service (and which ran through Birmingham New Street, but wasn't allowed to stop because that would have competed with existing operators). Beardy killed it off by reintroducing a direct Virgin service from Wrexham, though I fear it was always doomed if my experience of occupancy rates was at all typical.

I'll get my anorak.

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Chris Miller
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Re: Thatcher wasn't in favour of rail privatisation.

We're stuck with the Stephenson loading gauge (except on the, largely Beechinged, former Great Central lines), but apart from that (and the fact that it wasn't so badly flattened during WW2), what makes the UK rail infrastructure so special? Even though I agree that the UK model is broken, the rest of Europe has actually (largely) followed it, partly because (as above) the EC mandates it. So most EC countries have multiple freight and passenger operators running on a shared, independently 'managed' infrastructure.

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Chris Miller
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@arrbee

Standard dodgy Blair/Brown spin. It is true that the first handful of PFI schemes took place under Major. It is also true that Gordon Brown turned it into an industrial process so that he could implement voter-friendly projects while claiming to be meeting spending targets, by hiding the capital cost 'off balance sheet' (a trick that Enron were perfecting at the same time, that didn't end well either).

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Chris Miller
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My understanding is that the split was made to maximise the price raised in the floatation. From an investment point of view, British Rail was basically a giant (potentially highly lucrative) property portfolio, with lots of prime sites in city centres, whose properties just happened to be joined up by long narrow strips of metal. So the property portfolio was put into one pot, Railtrack, and the actual services were put into several others.

Of course, the outcome was that Railtrack concentrated on maximising their property portfolio and farmed out (outsourced) the maintenance of the irrelevant and boring strips of metal. With predictable results.

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KRAKKOOM! SpaceX Falcon supply mission to ISS EXPLODES minutes after launch

Chris Miller
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Re: Physics Says...

As pointed out above, it seems* more likely that the problem was a loss of pressure, because the fuel tanks contribute to the structural integrity of the vehicle (which, for obvious reasons, needs to be as light as possible). The commentary states that it had just passed through max-Q (the point of maximum dynamic pressure, which rises as speed increases but reduces with altitude), so any weakness would have been revealed at that point. But I'm sure the investigation will tell us.

* Disclaimer: I am not a rocket scientist.

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Gates: Renewable energy can't do the job. Gov should switch green subsidies into R&D

Chris Miller
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@Denarius

I agree, though I would point out that Penrose's argument would not mean that AI is impossible, just that it's impossible using anything equivalent to a Turing Machine. Sir Roger (I know, because I've heard him say it) absolutely accepts that the human mind is a product of the human brain, and that there's nothing magical or spooky going on between our ears - it's just that it can't possibly be emulated simply by following an algorithm (no matter how complex).

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Bloke called Rod struck by lightning for second time

Chris Miller
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The '30 Americans' estimate would be correct if they all had an equal (1 in 3,000) chance. But the odds aren't equally distributed. Certainly in the UK, your annual chance of being struck by lightning must be a lot less than 1 in 700,000 - otherwise it would happen to nearly 100 people every year, whereas only 3 people annually are killed by lightning in the UK. I expect the disparity between states is equally great.

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Layoff-happy Capita charges staff to use cutlery in canteens

Chris Miller
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But

Was use of cutlery clearly stated in the contract you signed? No? Oh dear, that will have to be charged at our daily rate, then.

[Not sure whether there should be a joke icon or not, TBH]

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MAC address privacy inches towards standardisation

Chris Miller
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Unhappy

Does this mean

I can no longer use DE:AD:BE:EF:CA:FE? Or xx:xx:xx:C0:FF:EE?

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Google takes latest self-driving buggies to the streets

Chris Miller
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The 'Johnny Cabs' in Total Recall* did have a steering wheel (well, OK, a joystick).

* The Arnie version - I can't speak to the remake as I refuse to watch such things.

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