* Posts by Chris Miller

2562 posts • joined 6 Apr 2007

The Shock of the New: The Register redesign update 4

Chris Miller
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Re: Thanks!

Concur. Though in Chrome links from 'The Channel' don't show as visited (the same problem existed on the 'old' web site) - works in IE, I imagine it's something to do with the different web site (channelregister.co.uk).

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Independent inquiry into British air-traffic-control IT nightmare

Chris Miller
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Re: If it works, don't fix it.

I suspect Matt (Viscount) Ridley had written the article before the NATS problem, but found it a convenient peg to introduce the subject, even though all Reg readers would know it's actually irrelevant.

The main point of the article is that government ought to stop (and perhaps is actually stopping) trying to deliver giant multi-year, multi-billion pound IT projects and instead adopt agile development methods, a sentiment I suspect many on here would agree with. As an article on a technical subject, written by a non-technician for a non-technical audience, I don't think it's too bad (if you delete the first couple of sentences mentioning NATS - agile development is not necessarily the best approach for safety critical systems).

Whether the GDS, civil service mandarins and (more importantly) politicians would be capable of successfully participating in agile development is another question entirely (A hae ma doots).

No apologist for Matt - I was one of the many criticising his earlier article about replacing pilots by automated systems (I use the same handle on The Times).

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Chris Miller
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Re: If it works, don't fix it.

"there should have been a parallel system to failover to"

Parallelism doesn't help if it's based on identical hardware running identical software and the failure is the result of a software error. (Unless you have an independent system produced by an entirely segregated group of developers - some safety critical system work this way, but then you may need a third system to vote on which of the two disagreeing systems has actually failed.)

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Is there ANOTHER UNIVERSE headed BACKWARDS IN TIME?

Chris Miller
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!daehbus eciN

Just sayin'

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The Great Unwatched: BBC hails glorious digital future for Three

Chris Miller
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Yet, as Andrew mentioned, there are occasional nuggets. Our War and Bluestone 42 for me, no doubt others will have different opinions. I don't know how much you have to pay for basic channel + HD bandwidth on Freeview, is that where the savings are coming from?

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Confused about 5G? So are we, say carriers

Chris Miller
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What is it for?

Please help, I'm struggling to understand what benefit I would get from 1 Gbps to my mobile device - the ability to stream (multiple simultanous) 4K movies to my 4 inch screen? I realise that there are some areas where a physical line is practically impossible (or, at least, hugely expensive), so a 5G service might be a good alternative to a fixed broadband wired connection. But what I (and I bet I'm not alone) want from mobile data is reasonable speed (a few Mbps) that works everywhere and on the move and (preferably) doesn't flatten my battery after an hour's continuous use. Instead of building out new 5G networks in city centres, let's improve 3G so that it extends to 98% coverage by location (not by population).

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Drone in NEAR-MISS with passenger jet at Heathrow airport

Chris Miller
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Re: MI6 on a test run?

It might look a bit like this.

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Shhhhh! It's a Swiss Sunday shutdown. Kill the lawnmower, punish the kids with CHEESE

Chris Miller
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Joke

Re: Sunday shutdown...

Germany as well (mowing on the Sabbath) - though I think it's a local ordnance rather than a national one. Always remember how laws work in Europe:

In Britain, everything that is not prohibited by law is permitted.

In Germany, everything that is not permitted by law is prohibited.

In Russia, everything is prohibited, even if permitted by law.

In France, everything is permitted, even if prohibited by law.

In Switzerland, everything that is not prohibited by law is obligatory.

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Misty-eyed Ray Ozzie celebrates 25th birthday of Lotus Notes by tweeting about it ...

Chris Miller
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@AC

I don't want a database that also does mail, I want an efficient, reliable email client that helps me read and deal with my email with the least amount of aggravation

If you're using Notes purely as an email system, you're using the wrong product. But you can (with skilled developers) build impressive corporate workflow systems, that would be much harder to achieve on any other platform.

OTOH The versions that I used to have to administer (c. 2000) leaked memory like a stuck whale. I remember having to reboot our Notes server every 24 hours to avoid it running out of memory - even with a (then) humongous (and humongously expensive) 1GB of RAM.

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Yotaphone 2: The two-faced pocket-stroker with '100 hours' batt life

Chris Miller
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Clever and innovative - rather like Apple used to be. I imagine they're manufactured in China/Taiwan rather than Siberia!

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Quantum computing is so powerful it takes two years to understand what happened

Chris Miller
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Thanks, Forget It

So, if I understand it correctly (probably not), the method only works to factorise numbers that have two odd factors that differ by a power of 2 (e.g. 56153 = 233 x 241), and so could be easily defeated (for cryptographic purposes) by minor tweaks to the choice of the two large prime numbers used to compute the private key.

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Hawking: RISE of the MACHINES could DESTROY HUMANITY

Chris Miller
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Demonstrating once again that being a world-leading authority in one area of expertise, gives you no credibility whatsoever in another, unrelated area.

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SUPER-SUEBALL heading IBM's way in Australia

Chris Miller
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Re: Are you listening UK Gov?

I agree, but the problem is that bidding for government mega-contracts is so complex and expensive (and, inevitably, ends in failure for most participants). that only huge operations can afford to play. You or I (or the small, competent computer shop round the corner) may say "bloody hell, I could do that for a tenth of the price and still make a huge profit", but we can't possibly afford the cost of the bidding process. The result is that the only people in the frame are a handful of large players (IBM, Crapita, ...) who all have a long track record of constructive (or should that be obstructive) incompetence.

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Under the Iron Sea: YES, tech and science could SAVE the planet

Chris Miller
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It isn't a bureaucracy, it's a religion

We've all offended against Gaia, the Earth Mother, and now we must all be made to suffer for our sins. Proposing quick, cheap and effective solutions (or even suggesting that they could be worthy of investigation) is simply missing the point, which is penance.

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Lord Lucan, Murakami's Strange Library ... and a hitchhiker's guide to the Computing Universe

Chris Miller
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Headmaster

Bugs

Please put a stop to this idea that the use of the word 'bug' comes from a problem caused by an insect trapped in the workings of an early computer. It's a nice story, and may even be true, but the use of the word 'bug' in the context of a glitch or problem is far earlier than this. Thomas Edison used the word in its later sense and it was well-established (in the US) during the 19th century. It probably derives from the original meaning of 'bug' (Welsh bwg) as a euphemism for a goblin or the devil (cf 'bugbear') - the use of bug to describe a class of insect is also a derivative of this form, after it became popular the archaic use gradually faded away.

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Sacre vache! Netflix ne parle pas le Frenchy ... zat is against ze LAW

Chris Miller
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Does this imply that anyone making their wares available over the Internet must produce Ts&Cs in Khmer, on the off chance that someone in Cambodia decides to make a purchase?

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Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs

Chris Miller
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A superlative idea, sir, with only two minor flaws:

1. We have no idea what kind of material could support its own weight over a length of tens of thousands of kilometres; and

2. We have no idea what kind of material could support its own weight over a length of tens of thousands of kilometres.

Now, I realise that, technically speaking, that's only one flaw. But it's such a big flaw, I thought I ought to mention it twice.

© Red Dwarf

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Get a job in Germany – where most activities are precursors to drinking

Chris Miller
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I wonder where William is working in Germany (I would guess NRW, in the Cologne-Düsseldorf area)? German Länder are quite distinct - culturally, politically and even economically. There's a world of difference between Hamburg and Munich, and traces of the Ostie approach of 'we pretend to work and they pretend to pay us' persist in former DDR areas.

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Leaked screenshots show next Windows kernel to be a perfect 10

Chris Miller
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@Frank

Yes, in my case it was an even older 1240U model. It runs quite happily in Windows XP mode.

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Chris Miller
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Re: It's not like many people complain about the Windows kernel

What most people complain about is inability to support existing peripherals after an upgrade. If a new kernel requires new drivers, then what are the odds that the manufacturer of your 5=year-old flat-bed scanner will write an updated one?

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I need a password to BRAKE? What? No! STOP! Aaaargh!

Chris Miller
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What GPS really needs

(and it shouldn't really be hard to achieve) is an option to omit all roads unsuitable for wide vehicles. I've lost count of the number of times I've watched an artic (semi for our American cousins) trying to reverse up our narrow country lane because its GPS decided that trying to get down it would shave 5 minutes off its journey.

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Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers

Chris Miller
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There are (proven, certified) reactor designs that can't experience the problems that loss of coolant caused at Fukushima. No-one is proposing any new reactors based on the RBMK installed at Chernobyl (for very obvious reasons), though there are still 11 being operated.

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Chris Miller
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And Chernobyl was caused by: an antique flawed reactor design that no-one but a Stalinist state would ever have thought of building; and an approach to operational safety that can only be described as bordering on lunacy. Something only slightly less strong could also be said of Sellafield/Windscale (a zeroth generation reactor whose only real purpose was military). Bundling these all together and then scaling it up for a putative thousand plants is like applying accident statistics from the Wright Flyer to modern airliners, completely barking unless you have a (not very) hidden agenda.

So the only nuclear accident that has happened to anything resembling a modern PWR facility (and even that was nearing end of life, and to a design chosen for political not engineering reasons) was caused by a magnitude 9 earthquake followed by a 14m tsunami (which themselves causing tens of thousands of 'natural' fatalities, including one broken dam) and had a death toll of precisely zero.

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The cloud that goes puff: Seagate Central home NAS woes

Chris Miller
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Re: Arm and a leg?

All good points, Martin. My upload speed has just increased (thanks to FTTC in rural Buckinghamshire) from 1 Mbps to 20, so I'm lucky*. But I uploaded 150GB (I guess you must shoot a lot more video than I do) in 3 weeks on the 'old' line.

* I could have had a 'residential' service (50M down + 5 up), but have gone for a 'business' option (75M down + 20 up) at an extra cost of ~£5 a month - no contention issues so far.

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Chris Miller
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Arm and a leg?

Microsoft Office (around £60 pa for non-business use on up to 5 systems) includes 1TB of OneDrive 'cloud' storage, which I understand is being upgraded to 'unlimited'. Of course, you'll need a decent speed Internet connection to make best use of it (I reckon a 4TB upload would take about 3 weeks at 20Mbps).

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Webcam hacker pervs in MASS HOME INVASION

Chris Miller
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This was big news about 10 years ago (remember johnny.ihackstuff.com - now gone to the great bit bucket in the sky). Glad to see the government is as on the ball as ever.

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CERN's 2014 Xmas gift from the Large Hadron Collider: Two new baryons

Chris Miller
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It's the beauty quark that gives the baryons their mass

Or, to put it more clearly, it's the beauty quark that accounts for their mass being so high (for a subatomic particle). They would still have mass if the beauty were replaced by a more standard form of quark.

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Quebec's latest bid to break away from Canada HALTED by a single dot

Chris Miller
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Québec is also the home of the chien chaud.

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That dreaded syncing feeling: Will Microsoft EVER fix OneDrive?

Chris Miller
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Re: The signal flaw in OneDrive/OneDrive for Business

I use the consumer version at home. I have a C-drive (SSD) for Win8.1 and a D-drive (rotating rust) for data, with the local copy of OneDrive on D (configured that way at setup). Unless I've misunderstood, you're claiming that isn't possible (works for me)?

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NASA launches new climate model at SC14

Chris Miller
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Re: My quotes better than yours club

I'll see your quotes and raise you:

Predictions can be very difficult - especially about the future. - Niels Bohr (1885-1962)

I note all your quotes are attempts to predict the future*, whereas Miller's (no relation, natch) is simply a pithy observation about the nature of scientific enquiry, which anyone with pretensions to being a scientist ought to recognise.

* Actually, I suspect it took about a decade for Watson to be proved wrong, and Olsen was correct, except he failed to foresee the advent of the microcomputer - (almost) no-one would want a PDP 11/34 in their home.

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Chris Miller
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Running equations through a computer does not constitute an experiment. - Stanley Miller (1930-2007)

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Fasthosts goes titsup, blames DNS blunder

Chris Miller
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Loss of service

some folk were already demanding compensation for the loss of service

And some folks haven't read their Ts&Cs, I'll bet. Maybe a small refund on next month's sub, if you're lucky.

Disclaimer I don't have access to Fasthosts' Ts&Cs, just a generic comment based on too many years of experience.

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THERE it is! Philae comet lander FOUND in EXISTING Rosetta PICS

Chris Miller
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Re: Next time, Gadget, next time!

The challenge is that these probes are always tightly constrained by mass. Putting in redundant systems means you can only have half as many systems/experiment packages.

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Post-pub nosh neckfiller: The MIGHTY Scotch egg

Chris Miller
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Our local butcher does a fine range of scotch eggs, all hand made by his missus (somehow managing to keep the yolks runny - a topic for further research by the SPB, I feel). The chilli ones are popular, but I agree that black pudding is the winner. I'm not sure about morcilla - fine foodstuff though it undoubtedly is, it can't compete with real black pudding, which must come from the mystic triangle, roughly between Wigan, Bury and Preston.

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VINYL is BACK and you can thank Sonos for that

Chris Miller
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Re: What's the point?

Thanks for the (perfectly valid) points made, but (as I understand it, not having bought an LP for several decades) you now get download rights (and quite possibly a physical CD) bundled with your purchase. So why would I need a (somewhat inferior) turntable with a USB connection?

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Chris Miller
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WTF?

What's the point?

Speaking as someone still (occasionally) using a turntable and associated analogue audio gear, I can't quite see the point of buying an LP and then ripping it to digital? I enjoy the retro feel of playing LPs, but their superiority (if any) must surely lie in a analogue reproduction chain.

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European Commission decides it won't have a science advisor after Greenpeace pressure

Chris Miller
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Don't forget

That much of the funding for Greenpeace ultimately comes from the EU (that would be our pockets). Nice work if you can get it!

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U wot? Silicon Roundabout set to become Silicon U-BEND

Chris Miller
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Headmaster

epicentre

The point on the surface of an object closest to a point in its interior - normally used of earthquakes. It does not mean 'the precise centre', any more than epidemic refers to a global disease (that would be pandemic). So Old Street Roundabout can only accurately be described as the 'epicentre' of the London tech scene, if said scene is buried deep underground ... oh, wait ...

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NHS XP patch scratch leaves patient records wide open to HACKERS

Chris Miller
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It all depends

If you've got thousands of desktops still running XP, you've got a problem. If you have a handful of systems that don't connect to your main network or the Internet and don't hold high-value data, I'd struggle to justify the (significant) cost of paying for extended support.

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'Tech giants who encrypt comms are unwittingly aiding terrorists', claims ex-Home Sec Blunkett

Chris Miller
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Blunkett or Lane-Fox

Which is more clueless about the Internet and computers in general? Which to detest more? Decisions, decisions.

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Danish lit star Helle Helle, Marianne Faithfull and Jim Al-Khalili on Quantum Biology

Chris Miller
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@Mephistro

You must accept (because the mathematics is watertight and getting on for a century old) that there are fundamental limits to what a computer (Turing machine) can do. If the human mind is capable of such things, then it can't be simulated on a computer, no matter how powerful and how clever the programmer. It might (pure speculation) be possible to emulate the mind on a quantum computer, which is not subject to the same limitations.

Penrose has explicitly said that he is not claiming that there must be something non-physical about human consciousness. He accepts that it may one day be possible to emulate the human mind with a machine - but it is not possible to do it with a Turing machine, something more powerful would be needed.

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Chris Miller
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What Gödel is saying (oversimplifying horrendously) is that for any* system of logic and a finite set of axioms, there will always be true statements that cannot be 'proved' using only the rules of the system. Of course, you can trivially program a computer to print "Gödel's theorem is true" (just as you can to print 'Hello world') but you can't program the computer to justify that statement.

Turing (and independently, earlier, Church) proved the Church-Turing Theorem on computable numbers. He used a version of Cantor's diagonal argument to demonstrate the ultimate limitations of a 'Turing machine' (a purely theoretical construct he invented for this purpose). If you haven't already, I recommend reading "Gödel, Escher. Bach" by Hofstadter - an astonishing book.

* sufficiently complex - i.e. powerful enough to encompass standard arithmetic

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Chris Miller
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Happy

Rather than try to remember Alt+0246, I just type Godel into Google (other search engines are available, apparently), which corrects it to Gödel, which I can then paste into the edit box. If you use Chrome (other browsers, blah, blah) it autocorrects to the correct spelling - same with Düsseldorf.

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Chris Miller
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You need to face up to the fact that Sir Roger Penrose may be slightly cleverer than you are (he's certainly cleverer than I am, but some may consider that to be not much of a hurdle). He isn't challenging the truth of Gödel's theorem or claiming that it somehow undermines all of mathematics. He's just pointing out that the fact that we can understand it (and, specifically, see that Gödel statements must be true, even though they can't be proved algortihmically) contradicts any claim that human intelligence is ultimately derived from algorithmic computation.

As you're familiar with Gentzen's theorem, you may well be aware of the related theorem due to Goodstein (1944), which was proved by showing it to be equivalent to a Gödel statement in higher order arithmetic. (I've pinched this from Penrose's The Large, the Small and the Human Mind.)

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Chris Miller
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You misrepresent Penrose's argument. He certainly doesn't claim that we 'think by logical deduction' (although obviously we can), quite the opposite. He points out that if (as some strong AI proponents claim) the mind is simply an algorithmic process, equivalent to a Turing machine, it would be impossible for us to understand Gödel's incompleteness theorem, which we (some of us, anyway) clearly do. Therefore, the mind cannot be completely equivalent to an algorithm, no matter how complex.

He speculates that some type of quantum process could be involved, though he freely admits that he can't demonstrate a physical mechanism that would operate at body temperature ('more research is needed into this topic') - perhaps the work examined by the authors is taking us closer to establishing the feasibility of such a process.

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How mobile device management is taking on the BYOD challenge

Chris Miller
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Re: VDI is not the panacea you might think it is

I'll add Industrial Plant simulation to my list of topics unsuitable for VDI. But, I repeat, most people aren't working on CAM, they need only a few basic apps that are easily capable of being handled through VDI.

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Chris Miller
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Virtual Desktop Infrastructure

Solves many of the problems of BYOD. All you need is two pieces of software - a VDI client and a strong, secure VPN - that can be installed on a wide range of devices (there are plenty of solutions covering RIM and Apple, as well as most Android and Linux systems). WiFi in your offices (with an air-gap to the corporate network) and you're good to go.

I'd be the first to admit that not every application is suitable for VDI - CAD/CAM, software development, some marketing activities are obvious examples. But 90% of users (and in many organisations 99% of users) only need email, Internet/intranet browsing and standard office tools, which are well supported.

Do it right, and you'll find the support costs for your existing desktops will go down as well,.

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BOFH: SOOO... You want to sell us some antivirus software?

Chris Miller
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Headmaster

98.97%

Obviously it has two significant figures, so it's pretty accurate

It has four significant figures, two decimal places.

Excellent description of AV software. though.

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We must SMASH the Democratic Deadlock with MINDFUL EVIDENCE

Chris Miller
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Spoiler alert

You do understand that Steve Bong isn't real? (Although the moment when he becomes real is getting scarily close).

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3D PRINTED GUNS: THIS time it's for REAL! Oh, wait – no, still crap

Chris Miller
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Paris Hilton

In the Line of Fire

In this (rather good) thriller Clint Eastwood plays the (oldest living) secret service agent, and John Malkovich as his nemesis builds an undetectable gun from epoxy. I realise that suspension of disbelief is required, but I wondered if it might be possible to 'print' a plastic gun and then use it as a mould for some similar substance. The epoxy I'm familiar with is probably too viscous to mould in this way, but could this be feasible?

Paris, because she probably knows as much about guns as I do.

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