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* Posts by Martin Gregorie

489 posts • joined 10 Apr 2007

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LOHAN and the amazing technicolor spaceplane

Martin Gregorie

Finish weight?

Assuming that you weighed the aircraft before and after covering, how much did it weigh plain and fully covered?

Enquiring minds need to know!

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Apple fanbois eat static as Beeb, Sky web stream vids go titsup on iOS

Martin Gregorie

My Touch is working fine for Radio 4 FM, both listen live and for retrieving older programs.

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Lavabit loses contempt of court appeal over protecting Snowden, customers

Martin Gregorie

Re: living a lie

In the UK, it emerged that Prince Charles actually has special powers, largely secret, to lobby and veto policies by the democratically elected government. The Guardian has been fighting unsuccessfully to reveal the scale of use of these too

Dunno about you, but I'm rather pleased that Charlie boy and his mum have been busy keeping an eye on the last three numpties who've occupied the PM's seat and kicked their shins when needed. At least they seem to know what they're doing, have much more work experience that the average PM and appear to be much less self-serving too.

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Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?

Martin Gregorie

Re: code examples

Nope, no prize for you (or anybody else who suggested a solution) because you all forgot about weekends and other non-working days. A more correct solution would be:

Take the day and month of the contract start date

Add the current year to get a date in the current financial year.

If its a working day, you're done.

Otherwise step back a day and and check again. Keep doing this until you've found a working day.

Then have a word with your employer's tame contract lawyers to make sure you don't need to send the statement even earlier to allow for postal delivery and/or bank processing delays.

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CERN team uses GPUs to discover if antimatter falls up, not down

Martin Gregorie

Errr, please describe the experimental setup...

...because there's something in the setup that I don't understand.

If the anti-hydrogen atoms form a well-collimated beam but the expected drop under gravity is only 10 microns (over what distance and at what velocity?), why goes the detector need to be more than a few cm across? On the other hand, if the beam isn't well collimated, how is the drop of an anti-hydrogen going to be measured with sub-micron accuracy?

Obviously I'm missing something, because there's nothing in the experimental description on the Aegis site to indicate how the trajectory of individual anti-hydrogen atoms can be tracked through the accelerator with that sort of accuracy and nothing to say why the detector surface needs to be on the order of 1m^2 as stated in the article.

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MH370 airliner MYSTERY: The El Reg Pub/Dinner-party Guide

Martin Gregorie

Re: Here's more sensible analysis...

Another theory (haven't checked if it matches the arcs)

http://keithledgerwood.tumblr.com/post/79838944823/did-malaysian-airlines-370-disappear-using-sia68-sq68

This is one of the most unlikely ideas I've read this week.

Military radars are designed to resolve multiple targets: if enemy aircraft are incoming you want to know how many are in what might be a tight formation, not just that there is one or more aircraft coming your way. At the very least the two 777s would have been seen before MH370 formated on SIA68 and any half-decent military radar set would report two targets in close proximity thereafter.

While its true that one plane can theoretically hide in the radar shadow of another, you can only do that by putting the other plane precisely between you and the radar set and manoevering to keep it there. A military pilot might be able to do that because he will be trained in close formation flying; an airline pilot will not because formation flying is not part of his required skillset. To stay in the radar shadow at night MH370 would have to be carrying at least one receiver tuned to the military radar frequency, have a properly installed antenna on the 777 and, preferably, a flight computer programmed to keep it in the radar shadow. Lastly, you can only hide behind another plane while only one radar is operating. The technique simply won't work as long as long as you're in range of more than one primary radar set: at least one of them will see two reflections.

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Martin Gregorie

Re: Here's more sensible analysis...

An excellent theory when it was posted. But it is no longer consistent with the (apparent) fact that ACARS 'keep alive' transmissions were received for 7 hours.

I thought that on first reading, but its a wrong interpretation. Read it again. In the middle Chris Goodfellow says:

"What I think happened is that they were overcome by smoke and the plane just continued on the heading probably on George (autopilot) until either fuel exhaustion or fire destroyed the control surfaces and it crashed."

That explains the ACARS "remember me" pings as well as flying out to sea.

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Academic blames US for tech titans' tax dodge

Martin Gregorie

Re: Indeed

This certainly applies to ordinary individuals, but does it apply to corporations? Really?

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Heroic Playmonaut wowed by LOHAN's bulging package

Martin Gregorie

Rubber band problem?

Rubber bands stiffen when they get to the sort of temp where LOHAN is going. Does this also weaken them? If so , replacing the bands with thin cable ties may be a good idea.

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Labour calls for BIG OVERHAUL of UK super-snoop powers in 'new digital world'

Martin Gregorie

We need three legal fixes (OK, four)

1) Restrict GCHQ to operating OUTSIDE the UK and heavy fines/firings for transgressions.

2) A separate organisation to handle all the UK's internal letter opening/wire tapping/Internet snooping duties and a requirement for legally issued warrants. Counterbalanced with heavy fines/firings for any warrantless snooping.

3) A huge fine for anybody, especially journalists, using the term 'paedophile' when they actually mean 'child molester'. Tell it like it is FFS.

4) Rewrite RIPA to severely limit the people who can use it or, better yet, scrap it entirely as unfit for (any) purpose.

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Apple beats off troll in German patent fracas

Martin Gregorie

Re: >"to establish a bridge"

...also implies that something will cross said bridge - in this case one might expect, from their self-description, that it would be cash crossing the bridge and falling into the pockets of the patent developers.

Is there, or has there ever been, any sign of such a hypothetical dosh flow? No? Didn't think so.

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Worlds that could support LIFE found among 715 new planets

Martin Gregorie

Seems to be a mistake here...

...as the strongest conclusion that can be drawn from the facts reported here is that "Many stars have planets and some are similar to the Solar System in having planets in orbits that allow them to have liquid water".

Anything more is specious, seeing that the average habitable zone planet is reported to be 2 - 2.5 times the size of Earth. That doesn't sound much like the Solar System to me: Earth is the biggest of our habitable zone occupants, so saying that anything with planets of this size is "just like our Solar System" is pretty much bollocks.

In short, the astronomers *may* have said what El Reg reported, but I doubt it: the report reeks of having been sexed up by PR flacks and, probably, then rewritten at least once by whatever general purpose hacks got their hands on it after him.

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Moon flashes Earth after getting pounding from MASSIVE meteorite

Martin Gregorie

Re: This moon was brought to you by Enterprise Corporate Logos-"Я"-Us .com

...and the flash would have been a damn sight easier to spot if the moon had been logo-free and a nice, even grey colour. We wouldn't even have needed that nice, light blue arrow to show us where to look. Mind, it would have been even better if the flash hadn't been carefully placed under the video control panel which, in my case, didn't disappear until I hit replay.

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MEPs demand answers from EU antitrust chief about planned Google search biz deal

Martin Gregorie

Re: Is There Any Other Search Engine?

Agreed about Duckduckgo.

IXquick is quite good too. When I started to use it, I did some comparison searches with Google and found it compared quite well on searching ability and of course it is 100% better on not passing my search details to Google.

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Retiring greybeards force firms to retrain Java, .NET bods as mainframe sysadmins

Martin Gregorie

On the benefits of keeping knowledge in your own head

Far away and long ago (in the mid '90s actually) I was working with a bought-in package that interfaced an ATM network to a bank's accounting system. The system worked well but its documentation was, ahem, sparse, and so we relied on our accumulated experience with using it and with reading the code to customise it for new sites.

Much of the code carried the name of one particular programmer who was obviously rather good at cutting code and distinctly less so at documenting it. In due course we ran into a difficulty on one installation that resulted in this programmer appearing on site. He turned out to be a really nice guy with a proper enthusiasm for beer, top programming skills and had been in the business a long time. I got to know him fairly well and once asked him about the documentation. He had an excellent reason for its deficiencies: he was due to retire in 2-3 years and told me there was no way he was going to rewrite the documentation any time soon because he knew he'd be tossed out the door by his money-grubbing American management the moment he'd completed it.

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Tired of arguing with suits? Get ready to argue with engineers!

Martin Gregorie
Trollface

So does this mean....

....that Killdozer will soon exist in Real Life (TM)?

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Object to #YearOfCode? You're a misogynist and a snob, says the BBC

Martin Gregorie

Re: Is this the same Rory Cellan-Jones

I would say though that the only thing that you can be certain is on a machine is a web browser, so why not start coding there.

What complete bollocks. Marking up a web page using HTML is exactly the equivalent of emboldening or italicising text in a Word or Libre Office Writer document. It is doing exactly what it says on the HTML tin: marking up text. This is not coding because it does not involve writing executable logic.

Coding involves designing and writing executable expressions using a language designed for the purpose such as C, Java, Python, Perl, assembler or even hex machine code. The result is to produce something that accepts input data, applies the logic you've written to it and outputs results derived from the input.

Anybody who can't see the difference between coding and marking up a bit of text should not be given any job more demanding than school dinner lady.

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GPs slam NHS England for poor publicity of data grab plan

Martin Gregorie

Dont forget to opt out of summarycare.data too

Yes, I got the NHS junk mail. It was obviously an anodyne piece of pap that told me precisely nothing useful.

I got all the useful stuff by following up URLs in a comment on a previous El Reg article: you need to read both the following:

http://care-data.info/

http://www.summarycarerecord.info/

and follow up. I've opted out completely from care.data because allowing my data to go forward offers absolutely no benefit to me or the NHS. Its not at all obvious that the cash they get from flogging my data will benefit the NHS: its apparently not ring-fenced. IOW theres nothing to stop the govt from grabbing it and deciding that it could be best used by giving it to GCHQ, restocking the Commons Members Bar, or repainting the Downing Street railings.

I've also opted out from allowing summarycare.data to include anything apart from the data items they've explicitly listed.

Note that once data starts to be collected, you can't change your data access consents for either care.data or summarycare.data and that, although summarycare data will initially be for NHS use only, this can be changed without further notice, presumably as soon as the powers that be see that they can profitably flog the summary care data as well.

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Friends don't do tech support for friends running Windows XP

Martin Gregorie

Re: I've been helping friends (and businesses) upgrade from XP to ...

Do you have any specific Slackware experience with a ThinkPad X61?

No, but my sister, who got seriously pissed off with Ubuntu removing tools she used and with Unify in general, asked for help over Christmas. I replaced it with Mint and Cinnamon as the default desktop. Result: instant happiness.

The install was totally painless, so you might want to try Mint too.

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Larry Ellison: Technology has 'negatively impacted' children

Martin Gregorie

Re: About children playing outside...

Once they are 12-13 I will teach them how to program with the lowest level language I can.

And, starting before that, teach them manual skills. Most kids today are incapable of making anything. By that I don't mean using Lego - I mean something creative, like cutting parts from a sheet of balsa and gluing them together to make a simple glider that actually flies, making a simple analogue circuit (crystal set) that requires some soldering or painting a picture using actual paints on actual paper or canvas. These will be useful skills in later life for everybody, not just those who study sciences or engineering.

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US feds want cars conversing by 2017

Martin Gregorie

Re: V2V vs. on-board sensors

What everybody seems to have missed is that an active V2V system is pretty much useless until a significant fraction of vehicles are equipped with it.

In the gliding world we have FLARM, a short-range active GPS-based system in which every set broadcasts its 3D position and velocity vector while using the data sent by other sets to determine whether a collision is likely. Virtually every glider, helicopter and light plane operating in the Alps are now equipped and elsewhere in Europe coverage is, I believe pushing up to 50%. Experience has shown that FLARM was pretty much useless when less than 25% of local gliders carried it. Now it is starting to become worthwhile as usage exceeds 50% and so the remaining parts of the fleet are seeing that carrying it is a positive benefit and installing it too.

I'd say that V2V is less use on the road because a driver's traffic scan only has to cover the horizontal plane and in any case road vehicles already carry conspicuity features (lights, horns) and intentional signalling equipment (turn indicators and brake lights). Now add in the fact that FLARM is a small, self-contained box the size of a mobile phone that's easy to install in almost any cockpit while a road V2V system will need both something on the dash and (probably) external front and rear sensors. As a result V2V retrofit would probably not be easy or cheap. Consequently, V2V installation is likely to only be a feature of new vehicles and will be opposed on cost grounds by many owners.

The fleet coverage statistics for gliders are likely to apply to road users as well so, if we assume that a hypothetical V2V system is only available as an optional extra on new vehicles, how long is it likely to take for over half of all vehicles to be fitted with V2V sets?

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Volunteers slam plans to turn Bletchley Park into 'geeky Disneyland'

Martin Gregorie

Re: Says it all really

He told me that the tours had been standardised and that 90 minutes was too long for visitors.

He really is a complete pillock.

I've done the tour twice and on both occasions it felt about right for length. A lot of the most interesting stuff is the result of having time to talk to the guides and for them to be able to follow up interesting questions with extra details that aren't part of the standard talk.

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NatWest 'spam' email cockup got me slapped with late payment fee, says angry Reg reader

Martin Gregorie

Re: The ISP is to blame not the sender

I publish an SPF for my domain, but don't use SPF to block incoming mail. My only use for SPF is to fend off backscatter. It lets other domains recognise that the sending address is forged and so can discard undeliverable spam rather than bouncing it. This has benefits for both the target domain and myself and no downsides.

I run Spamassassin, which does a good enough job of spotting spam with the aid of some custom rules that SPF blocking is unnecessary.

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A BBC-by-subscription 'would be richer', MPs told

Martin Gregorie

Re: The quality would improve greatly....

The quality would improve greatly....if they cut back to three channels instead of watering down the quality to fill the 8 or so they currently try to make us think they can fill.

Absolutely, and its been that way for decades. There's about enough talent in the UK to fill 4 TV channels. Add a sports channel. Add another to deal with imported programs: by the time all the dross is filtered out there'd be just about enough good material to fill another channel . An all-news channel isn't needed as has been amply proved by any of the the current 24 hour news channels, so all the UK really needs is 6 TV channels in total.

Doing this would mean that the existing FM radio channels can be left as they are and DAB can be killed off. The bandwidth occupied by DAB and the un-needed terrestrial TV channels can now be sold off to the highest bidder.

There you go: fixed it for you. TV quality and the bandwidth shortage sorted out with a single swipe of the pen.

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US govt watchdog slams NSA snooping as illegal, useless against terrorism

Martin Gregorie

Re: Anon Cluetard Boston Marathon Bombing

Whether the Boston Bombing was AQ sponsored or not is utterly irrelevant. The NSA and their bosses have said that the mass grab of CDRs (Call Data Records) is aimed at "preventing terrorism" pure and simple. There has been no mention, express or implied, that it targets AQ or any other named group (not even Iran!) in any US Government statements I've seen.

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Marvell stuck with $1.17 billion patent bill

Martin Gregorie

Why these patents and Marvell? An explanation

It turns out that both patents are concerned with magnetic recording, specifically with recovering a clean signal from a noisy track, so it mystified me why such a patent should affect a chip fabricator who I'd only heard of in terms on making ARM-based chips.

However, it seems that they were in the Digital Signal Processing business long before they bought the Xscale chip design and production rights from Intel. Its a pity Mr Chirgwin didn't add a sentence about this after the patent numbers.

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EU gives Google JUST WEEKS to submit stronger search biz concessions

Martin Gregorie

Far reaching changes? Really?

My guess is that a oneliner to set the 'use standard page-rank' database attribute on google sites would take about 5 minutes to write and maybe an hour or two to run.

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Apple files foul-up-fixing patent for fumbling slab-fondling flubbers

Martin Gregorie

What a clever patent

So, if the patent can do all that, Apple doesn't have to add any new hardware or software to their iDevices: they just install the patent. Job done.

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Glassholes, snapt**ts, #blabbergasms, selfies and PRISM: The Reg's review of 2013

Martin Gregorie

Glasshole

Glasshole is actually 8 or so years old. It was formerly used by American glider pilots who flew metal and wooden airframes as a put-down for those flying more modern German glassfibre gliders.

This usage is now obsolete.

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El Reg's contraptions confessional no.5: The Sinclair Sovereign

Martin Gregorie

Re: Came after the HP-25, so?

I bought my HP-25 in august 1975, the year it was launched.

I bought mine a year later, 1976. It was my sole calculator until I got an HP-28S in 1990, at which point the HP-25 was retired, though I still have it and it, and its charger, still work if I clean out the dead NiCds from its battery holder and replace them with a pair of new NiCd or NiMH cells.

The 28C is more useful for programming, since it understands hex and logic operators. Its also the first bit of kit I got where the manuals outweigh the device and occupy several times its volume. I use it whenever a spreadsheet would be overkill.

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What is the difference between a drone, a model and a light plane?

Martin Gregorie

Re: Think they're against GA?

"Personally I'm in favour of anything that makes it more likely I won't hit the slow moving white thing against a background of slow moving white things, but apparantly glider pilots are less concerned about being hit because their planes blend in with the clouds."

We're up there near cloud base because that gives us a longer cruise before we need to find our next climb. As for the white colour: that's Regulations, mate, and dates back to the mid '60s when composite structures first appeared. The Powers That Were thought that a composite structure was bound to soften and fail unless it was painted white when, if anything, the opposite is true. As a result, gliders with a fibreglass or carbon structure, i.e. everything built since about 1970, has to be painted white except for the outer 1m of the wings and the nose area.

Comment: if you want to fly a full size aircraft reasonably cheaply, come gliding: operating costs are a fraction of that for any GA aircraft and most microlites. Flights of several hundred km are routine even in the UK. You can get very nice older gliders for a lot less than some of those large jet models cost, and a years' flying (all costs included) will be around £2500. I fly a Standard Libelle and really enjoy the challenge of going cross country without an engine.

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Los Angeles' weather is just like MORDOR, says Brit climate prof

Martin Gregorie

Re: As with all Climate models

Exactly so. Middle Earth has always struck me as just a set of scenes spatchcocked together as background for the plot rather than as anything that resembles a possible world. Its languages and legends may be carefully designed, but the world and its laws of magic are not.

Dr Lunt would be better advised to try the same analysis on Ursula Le Guin's Earthsea: in that world both the geography and the magic are much better thought out.

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DON'T PANIC: No FM Death Date next month, minister confirms

Martin Gregorie

Re: BTW am I right in thinking UK DAB <> Europe DAB?

Yes, the primeval DAB standard used in the UK is not compatible with DAB+ as used everywhere else. So, there's a lie by implication: you might reasonably think that DAB+ is a superset of the original DAB standard, just like Stereo FM is a superset of the original Mono FM, but it isn't. A mono FM receiver works perfectly when fed a Stereo FM signal, but a DAB radio can't deal with a DAB+ signal at all, so guess how well your shiny new in-car DAB radio is going to work on t'other side of the Channel.

I have a high-end FM receiver that I'm more than happy with (Quad FM3), or would be if the signal hadn't become noisy over the last year or two: it would be quite nice if Arquiva actually maintained the transmitters they're paid to maintain.

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LOHAN buffs body for sizzling vinyl wrap

Martin Gregorie

One word

Weight?

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LOHAN sees bright red over Vulture 2 paintjob

Martin Gregorie

A bit late I know, but I agree with the consensus.

I don't think the slight surface roughness will hurt at altitude with or without with the rocket running, but given the wing chord and likely gliding speed once Vulture 2 is down where the air is thick enough for it to matter, the surface roughness will most likely help with boundary layer control and improve its glide.

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Super-stealth FLYING CAR prototype seen outside GOOGLE HQ

Martin Gregorie

Re: Moller Skycar

...but the Moller history is quite spotty to say the least. Its claimed the M100 flew but nobody outside the company seems to have seen it do so. Looking at their website, I see they've rewritten history too: the original M100 used to be a flying saucer, rather like a smaller version of the unsuccessful Canadian jet-powered flying disk. Its been renamed the Neuera 200G

As of 2012 the all-new Skycar 100LS has suddenly appeared with wings and two tiltable ducted fans and is suddenly of military parentage.

The M200M was just a 1:1 static display model. Now renamed the Skycar 200 LS, it has, like the 100LS, become powered by a mixed electric/Wankel ducted fan system, but for all that its still the same old M200M as ever.

Apparently the M400 did a few hovering tests, but always unmanned and tethered. That is now called the M400X but the all-new Skycar 400, always a canard design, looks much the same apart from replacing its high-mounted rear wing with a bigger low wing fitted with tips carefully contorted to have lots of built-in interference drag.

Thanks for the wake-up call: I hadn't looked at the Moller site for some time. Its always interesting to see how the ideas and site permute over time.

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NO! Radio broadcasters snub 'end of FM' DAB radio changeover

Martin Gregorie

Good on them

I'm with anybody who wants to see the end of DAB. I'm more than happy with the current high quality broadcast FM combined with Internet Radio for specialist audio streams and iPlayer-style 'play it again' access.

Back in the day we were promised that DAB would provide "CD quality sound" and, IIRC, near 100% coverage with better-than FM mobile reception. What we got is shitty low bitrate MP3 quality, poor coverage and a system that won't work anywhere outside the UK. DAB's sponsors should either scrap it immediately with a public apology for the botched project or deliver on the original promise of audio quality and coverage.

PS: whatever happened to Radio Mondial?

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World's first 3D-printed metal gun 'more accurate' than factory-built cousin

Martin Gregorie

Re: Interesting.

The latest 3D printing done for Lohan shows how good the plastic work can be.

Not really. Look at the photos again. The only term you can use for the surface finish on Vulture 2 is 'rough', as the V2 team admit. As they've already said, they need to fill and smooth the surface before they can paint it.

I can do a much better job with sandpaper and a couple coats of cellulose dope on balsa. And its likely that my surface would be harder and more damage-resistant.

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Feedly coughs to cockup, KILLS Google+ login as users FLEE

Martin Gregorie
FAIL

How to succeed in business

""We thought that because all the feedly users logged in to their feedly using a Google identity, switch to the Google+ identity would be simply mechanical - a different login popup," confessed a hapless company employee named Edwin."

WTF? They only thought the transition would be 'simply mechanical'? Nobody could be arsed to try it to make sure? With an internal culture like that, its a wonder Feedly are still in business.

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SCIENCE and RELIGION AGREE! LIFE and Man ARE from CLAY

Martin Gregorie

Re: Interesting thought

This idea about clay shows it wasn't some science-hating[*] god that got life going here: it was Aliens From Outer Space who, being fearsomely scientific, knew all about the generative properties of clay and started the process running before blasting off for some place else that already had bright lights, booze and barmaids

[*] This is self-evident: all True Believers know that they are Made In God's Image, so if they hate science, then obviously He hated science. QED

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MIT boffins: Use software to fix errors made by decaying silicon

Martin Gregorie

Just add hardware

IMO the Stratus Computer approach works best here: You run two MPUs in lock-step off the same clock, both running the same code. You also have fast hardware that compares their outputs. If it sees a difference, it signals an error, turns the board off while keeping its output off the main bus. Nothing is lost, because there's another board doing exactly the same thing and synced with the first board. Meanwhile, the sysadmin sees there's a problem, pulls the failed board and plugs in a replacement, which fires up, gets synchronised and shadows the surviving board.

This approach can be made to work for all components of the computer and, of course, doesn't need anything special in the way of compilers or program organisation. Last but not least, Moores Law says that if this worked and was affordable in the late '80s, which it did and was, it will be dirt cheap by now. Even in the late '80s it was giving four nines uptime and, IME, was rather more reliable than Tandem NonStop kit, which required proprietary software structures and compilers to provide a similar service.

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LOHAN's mighty thruster poised for hot coupling

Martin Gregorie

Go for mechanical or magnetic contacts

For sheer simplicity use a magnet to hold a pair of slide-off contacts together:

For each connection put a polished steel shim on Vulture 2 as its contact pad. This doesn't move and can be glued flush to the fuselage side near the rear and the heater and/or thermometer lead soldered to it. The truss side contact is brass shim with the magnet (use something like a 3mm disc magnet) glued to the non-contact side of it so, when connected, the brass shim is in between the magnet and the steel contact. Use flexible wire between the truss and the contact (laquer-coated single strand wire is probably best because it has no plastic insulation to stiffen in the cold) so V2 moving about before launch can't pull the magnetic contact off the steel one. The idea is that, on launch, the magnetic contact will slide off the steel one: this takes much less force than pulling it away vertically. If the sliding force is too high, simply put thin non-magnetic shims between the magnet and the brass contact - 0.4mm ply or epoxy board would both work.

Make the leads different lengths. Apart from making shorts after launch much less likely, this will make sure that the rocket doesn't have to pull all the contacts apart at the same time.

Alternatively, go with the previously described pure mechanical slide-off connectors. Using a servo to disconnect them initially sounded like a good plot, but is probably a bad idea. Apart from the need to keep the servo from freezing up, there's always a chance that the linkage it uses to disconnect the connector will freeze solid. It will also add weight, since very small service don't have much power and you might need a servo per connector.

I assume you'll be using just three connectors: a common ground, a positive line to power the heater and the third is the second line to the thermometer's sensor thermistor?

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Storage Memory

Martin Gregorie

Nothing new here. Move along

This looks very much like re-inventing a single level memory architecture.

AFAIK the first implementation - a concept that IBM implemented in the early 1970s as Future Series and cancelled because of its project impact on the 370 series. It was revived as Syster/38 and put on the market late 1979. This morphed into the AS/400 range, which became, in turn, iSeries, System i and nor the Power Series running OS/400. This range has a single, large storage pool that contains the OS, programs whether running or not, and data objects. Everything held in disk-mapped persistent memory that is paged into a RAM cache for execution and immediate access. IOW, unlike conventional computers, which have two separate disk i/o systems (one for accessing files/directories and another for accessing virtual memory pages, OS/400 has just a virtual memory paging system.

The Apple Lisa also used a similar single level storage scheme.

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Robo-drones learn to land by going bug-eyed

Martin Gregorie

Re: It strikes me though...

I agree that this approach will handle the final approach quite nicely since its pretty close to what is taught and I do in a glider, though I wouldn't dream of using it for speed control (the ASI does a better job). However it breaks down in the final stages of landing because it offers no help judging when to flair or for flying a fully held-off landing: that is best done by monitoring landing area perspective changes after flairing.

IOW, any algorithm based solely on monitoring the expansion of a view of the landing spot is unlikely to be successful for landing a fixed-wing aircraft because it implies that the aircraft speed will become zero at or immediately before touch-down. However, it may work for aircraft with hovering ability, e.g helicopters and quadra- or hexacopter UAVs.

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The Raspberry Pi: Is it REALLY the saviour of British computing?

Martin Gregorie

Re: HDMI not compulsory

"Not all old TV's work - you seem to have to plug the audio cable in too and not many TV's I've tried have one."

Maybe not, but it seems that the 4.2" and 5" flat screen displays sold on eBay as part of DIY car reversing aids do: they come with the composite TV connectors pre-attached. from about 16 quid. Then add a USB mouse, speakers, a cheapie USB keyboard and a Pi case. This can all be had for no more than the cost of the Pi plus wall rat, cables and SD card.

Or, of course, you add your RPi 'B' to your home LAN with an ethernet cable, install one of the free X-server packages (VcXsrv or XWinLogon) on your PC and run the RPi headless - and all for the cost of the ethernet cable. My RPi has been run headless since I bought it: the only difference is that my PC runs Fedora rather than Windows+Xserver.

Want a switch instead of pulling the micro plug out of the RPi? Easy: you can get 150mm USB socket to micro-USB plug adapter cables for about a fiver. Another fiver at Maplins gets you a rocker switch and small plastic box to put it in. Just strip the cover off the adapter cable for 25mm or so, cut the RED wire and solder the ends to the switch and put switch into the box. Job done.

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How I BLEW my co-workers' HEADS OFF ... without going to jail

Martin Gregorie

Showing my age here, but..

.. a flowcharting template made a good rubberband sniper's launcher if the bands were too short to use with a ruler.

Two punched cards and a pencil made a decent indoor glider.

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Sueball-happy patent biz slaps lawsuits on FOURTEEN tech firms

Martin Gregorie

Re: Here's a thought

How about something like this: any attempt to assert a patent will invalidate it unless you filed the patent in the first place, you're making products based on it or you're spending serious money on preparing to make products based on it.

IOW if its your original patent you can sit on it until it expires or you die but anybody else who holds it must either be using it to make something or be preparing to do so as soon as possible.

The threat of invalidation is there to stop a troll from selling the patent on and saying "Patent? What patent? Move along, nothing to see here" when called on being a troll.

'Serious money' means enough cash to hurt showing up in the published accounts starting no more than 18 months after buying the patents appeared in them, be clearly identified as spending for that purpose and be a significant chunk of your outgoings. No published accounts or nothing relevant in them about preparing to use the patent would be trollish behavior.

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Microsoft boffins test rival 'Google Glass' geek goggles, say insiders

Martin Gregorie

Re: Nothing in SciFi? Look again!

Read William Gibson's earlier cyber-punk novels and take note of Molly Millions' eyewear. She appears in Neuromancer (1984), Count Zero (1986), Burning Chrome (1986) and Mona Lisa Overdrive (1988). Molly wears something very close to Googly glasses, though much cooler, and almost everybody uses immersive VR (both projected and via headsets) for gaming and accessing cyberspace.

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The Vulture 2: What paintjob should we put on our soaraway spaceplane?

Martin Gregorie

Re: Maximise visibility

Additional thought: you could try using a filler to get a smooth surface. Some of the squeeze-tube spackles are fairly light once they've dried, are very easy to sand and result in a nice painted surface.

Try it on a V2 test piece first, of course. and check the weight that using it adds.

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Martin Gregorie

Maximise visibility

Use your yellow-black scheme, but replace the yellow with dayglo orange - the Halfords red-orange hazard warning paint's colour would be perfect. Reversing the colours should also be fine.

Reasoning: I've used that red-orange / black scheme on the underside of free flight model aircraft, a situation where visibility is very important if you want the timekeeper to see and time the whole flight and you want to be able to find the model easily after each flight: in UK weather flights of 2-3 miles are common. This scheme shows up very well against the sky and, because that red-orange dayglo is very bright and not found in nature, it also shows up well on the ground. The black stripes also help on the ground: straight parallel lines are not common in nature, so they really stand out.

Go easy with the paint, though: its heavy and will really impact Vulture 2's performance, so if possible use fine grit sandpaper to smooth the V2's surface before painting. V2 will weigh a tonne if you try to use paint to fill that rough surface. Also note that dayglo paints tend to give a matt surface, so while gloss black lacquer should be fine, you may want to use a light coat of clear lacquer over the dayglo.

Can you get any gash parts to experiment on before ripping into Vulture 2 with the sandpaper?

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