* Posts by John Sager

219 posts • joined 28 Apr 2008

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DRONE ALONE: US Navy secretary gives up on manned fighters

John Sager

Re: All will be well then...

The bigger drones will need some kind of carrier, though probably not a Nimitz-class beast.

However, I don't think he's got enough clout to kill the bureaucratic fiefdoms. That would take a raft of Executive Orders, and even then the buggers could probably shout 'Unconstitutional!' in the Supreme Court. Bureaucrats are the nearest real thing to the Zombie Apocalypse that we've got.

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SPY FRY: Smart meters EXPLODE in Californian power surge

John Sager

Re: Distribution architecture vulnerability

Lots of LV overhead around here (rural Suffolk), plus lots of 11kV overhead and even 33kV. Our supply is slightly odd as we have a big transformer surrounded by a wooden fence, and the 11kV comes underground from the 33kV transformer about 2 miles away. The LV is then overhead for us but underground for some other properties that were upgraded 15 or so years ago. The rest of the village has overhead LV fed by 11kV transformers on poles from at least 2 other overhead 11kV feeds. It's all a bit of a dog's breakfast really.

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John Sager

Re: Distribution architecture vulnerability

These days Protective Multiple Earthing should obviate that. The path to earth via the neutral from the fault should have low enough resistance to stop the neutral from rising too much before the LV fuse blows on the faulty phase at the transformer.

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John Sager
FAIL

Distribution architecture vulnerability

Putting the medium voltage (several kV) distribution on the same pole (and above) as the LV distribution is common in the US and, I notice, in Oz too. Probably many other countries as well. I've even seen three voltages on the same pole, one over the other. This is very uncommon in the UK where 11kV and 33kV stuff is run separately to the local LV distribution.

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Nuclear waste spill: How a pro-organic push sparked $240m blunder

John Sager

Re: Fast Integral Reactor.

@Symon: The reason it's buried is political, not technical. If the Eco-loons & disarmers (including Monbiot AFAIR) didn't complain so much about reprocessing, then it would get recycled into new nuclear reactors. But there aren't any of those due to said Eco-loons. You still need a repository as the recycling isn't 100% efficient and there is always low level radioactive stuff that it isn't practical or economic to make safe. Even the high-level activity stuff out of the reprocessing plant can be cycled through certain designs of reactor to make it safer.

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Guardian: 'Oil reserves will soon be worth NOTHING!' (A bit like their stock tips, really)

John Sager

Re: There will be a need for Carbon stuff in the Economy

If we're talking about keeping all the carbon in the ground, then the energy we use has to come from somewhere. This - http://www.withouthotair.com - is a very good analysis of the options. Worstall's slim volume, 'Chasing Rainbows' is worth a read too. Unless we all go back to pre-industrial-revolution energy use with all that entails in terms of reduced population, disease, starvation et al.

Personally I don't see certain forms of carbon use disappearing at all. If we carry on flying then kerosene is going to be very hard to replace. I don't see the energy density of hydrogen or electrical energy storage approaching kero any time soon if ever. Same thing for container ships & bunker oil/diesel. Plenty of people have tried to build upscaled sailing ships but we don't see them around in more than prototypes.

Of course we could make kero/diesel from atmospheric CO2 but that needs a lot of hectares of sunshine, even if we have an optimised natural or artificial photosynthesis process - see the ref above.

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Watchdog slaps American Apparel's youthful naked arse

John Sager

AA scores again

AA now have the measure of the ASA. And they can get Dacre's rag to give them lots more publicity off the back of it. Sounds like an optimised marketing strategy to me.

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Scotland to get National ID system 'by the backdoor', campaigners mull challenge

John Sager

And why should HMRC be concerned about people avoiding tax, which is prefectly legal? Unfortunately the 'the answer to everything is tax' brigade have sufficiently managed to conflate aviodance & evasion in the public mind that perfectly legal strategies for arranging one's tax affairs are seen as evil plots.

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Reckon YOU can write better headlines than us? Great – apply within

John Sager

Re: Pay?

Green Card? I like SF (see previous article), but I'm not moving there (too old anyway). Other Brits (or other non-USians) might want to though.

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The finest weird people in the world live here, and we're proud of it

John Sager

My favourite US city

I've been on business trips to Silicon Valley on numerous occasions and I always made time to visit SF. We also started a longish US holiday there a couple of years ago. Agree about Sausalito. There was a farmers' market there when we went with the most delicious strawberrys on offer! Alcatraz may be a tourist thing but it really is worth a visit to see how the cons lived. I don't think the US penal system has moved on much either from those days so his warnings about illegal behaviour are to be noted. Go up onto Marin Heights - an excellent view over the Bridge back to the city. SF is also a good base for visits to Santa Cruz (seal watching off the pier), Monterey and, if you're down there, just go look at Carmel.

One trip I motored up to the Lick Observatory from San Jose, which is worth a visit if you're into astronomy.

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At the third beep, the Atomic Clock will be 60 ... imprecisely

John Sager

The good bits became Agilent, which still has a good rep in test & lab eqipment, I think.

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John Sager

10^10 - I can't be bothered trying superscripts as the original article got the html wrong too. An Ångström unit is 0.1 nanometres.

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Ofcom can prise my telly spectrum from my COLD, DEAD... er, aerial

John Sager

Re: "Broadcast is efficient"

ITV Player quality has been truly dire on the few times we've had to use it. However even the 'high quality' stream of BBC iPlayer is nothing like as good as even SD broadcast. Ofcom are playing their usual game of giving low priority to service user requirements over service provider requirements.

IP delivery of broadcast services will only work with at least tens-of-megabits broadband delivery to the population coverage requirements the broadcasters must meet. Commercial realities mean that is never going to happen by copper, fibre or RF. Also, satellite is a single point of failure. With a big enough solar flare, all the sats, including the spares, will fail, and the replacement cycle will be long, with sat broadcasting probably not near the top of the build & launch priority list.

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2015: The year of MAD TV science, but who can keep up?

John Sager

Re: Content content content....

Streaming of 4k content is going to be a real challenge for content providers until multicast is in mainstream use, and consumer network kit will recognise its routing protocols. Even with that, real-time may be a struggle. Given the prevalence of recording devices, increasingly with terabit hard disks (or SSDs soon?), I would think that offline download would become more attractive as a distribution method.

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John Sager

Re: Honestly, what's the point?

4k is totally pointless for a 20" screen. The width is 17.43" (44.28cm) so each of the 3840 pixels along a row is only 0.12mm wide. You would need to be pretty much touching the screen with your nose to resolve detail at the pixel level.

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Elon Musk SNOWED UNDER with Googley DOLLARS for Space Internet

John Sager

Re: I was thinking...

Aw, give the guy a break! At least he's not spending tax dollars on this enterprise.

I hope they include a suicide function to de-orbit the sats at end of life.

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'Success'? Verify FAILED for 40% in self-assess tax trial

John Sager

Re: "Good luck with that March 2016 deadline"

@Arnaut: If we started fundraising on Kickstarter for a B-Ark, given its target complement, then I'm sure we would raise the funds in no time flat. No need for State funding!

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Alan Turing's LOST NOTEBOOK goes under the hammer

John Sager

Glad to see Turing had problems with notation!

What with Leibniz's dy/dx, Newton's dot notation, and Heaviside's D operators, that was all a bit of a brain caner on encountering them all at uni back in the day. We used Leibniz at school for O level calculus.

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DVRs at the ready tonight: El Reg's motor Vulture is on the tellybox

John Sager

Re: Freesat

950 to be precise. Sky customers may be able to get it too?

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Increased gov spy powers are NOT the way to stay safe against terrorism

John Sager

Terrorism *isn't* an existential threat. The Soviet Union might have been during the cold war but not a bunch of fulminating islamists. They are just a pinprick and we (including politicians) ought to man up and deal with them as such. There will be casualties, but that's one of the prices you have to pay sometimes for living in the sort of free society we do live in. And it is pretty much free, despite government trying to nibble away at the edges.

I've just been reading a book about Operation Sealion (Seelöwe), the putative German invasion of England in WWII. The restrictions on individual liberty then were pretty much on the scale of a military dictatorship, and people put up with it because of the perceived threat.

The lesson is that restrictions should be consonant with the threat to be acceptable, and IMHO the threat is real, but overblown.

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Elon Musk: Wanna see a multimillion-dollar rocket EXPLODE? WATCH THIS

John Sager

By the time it's needed the vertical velocity is so low that the drogue would have no effect.

Also, landing on land - where? As someone else pointed out on another thread, the stage has

considerable velocity eastwards due to the rocket thrust. The next land is in Europe or Africa somewhere depending on the launch angle for the desired orbital inclination, and at least a couple of thousand miles away. It's probably a lot more economical on fuel to come down forward & bleeding off the forward speed on the way down rather than trying to send it back to Cape Canaveral. A sea platform recovery is probably going to be used, and be a (weather, sea state) constraint for some time to come.

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Microsoft Azure was most FAIL-FILLED cloud of 2014

John Sager

five nines

99.999% - That's a generally accepted uptime target. Some industries need/want six nines, i.e. 31 secs per year, and when I was back working on design of UK infrastructure I reckoned we needed more like 7 nines with any failures being in the 1 in many years category. That costs, of course...

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Peers warn against rushing 'enhanced' DATA SLURP powers through Parliament

John Sager

Re: Not getting my vote...

Trouble is, the Greens have loony policies in so many other ways so even if they are sound on civil liberties all the other stuff is too horrible to contemplate. We really are bereft of choice:(

IMHO the problem with the Surveillance State is not so much that it goes on - it has to happen at some level. It's that there is no-one we, the public, can trust to do a proper oversight job. Here, oversight means understanding and being able to discuss effectively a lot of sensitive detail that the security services are unwilling to disclose to outsiders, and it goes without saying that the security services would have to trust the overseers as well as us trusting them for the overseers to be able to do a half-decent job.

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It's 2015 and ATMs don't know when a daughterboard is breaking them

John Sager

Re: First rule

I went into my bank (Barclays) before Christmas to discover those nice people behind the counter had morphed into a row of terminals along the wall. This is the main branch in a decent-sized town. It is possible to talk to a real human to effect some transactions, but no longer to get hold of real folding stuff, it seems. I think my local country town branch still has real human tellers but for how long?

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Nvidia flops out TERAFLOP X1 for self-aware cars

John Sager

Re: Great , even more technology for its own sake

Already here. It's called a taxi...

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Healthcare: Look anywhere you like for answers, just not the US

John Sager

Re: Good question

Better to risk-pool the insurance over 60M rather than 2.5M people. The drawback there is that us healthy southerners are subsidising Glaswegians with 3rd world mortality rates, before they do croak (sorry about the Scotist stereotyping). Perhaps we just live with that for the greater good.

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Why the chemistry between Hollywood, physics and maths is so hot right now

John Sager

Imitation Game - good drama, crap history

I was disappointed by it, though perhaps my preconceptions were wrong. Having read a fair bit about BP and the various endeavours there the portrayal of much of that in the film was risible. I would even go so far as to say that Alastair Denniston, had he been alive today, would have a good case for a libel action. But then any good drama has to have a baddy - better be one that can't sue!

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Feast your eyes: 10 'fortysomething' smart TVs

John Sager

Yet more almost obsolescent TVs

They will be in a couple of years when the manufacturers stop offering software updates. I have a 3-year old Panasonic. It will do iPlayer, YouTube and some other stuff I'm unlikely to use. However Panasonic won't update it any more so no ITVplayer, 4OD and the rest. Netflix? forget it. I'm not going to lash out several hundred notes & 'recycle' my current device for that but I can imagine some people do.

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George Clooney, WikiLeaks' lawyer wife hand out burner phones to wedding guests

John Sager

Re: Celebrity "Private" Wedding

It's probably not too hard to do with enough forward planning, and some decent tech support. I wonder how much Clooney paid for what seems to have been a decent security wrap.

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Payment security vastly improved when you DON'T ENTER your BANK DETAILS

John Sager

This is essentially how I do online banking with Barclays. The card & card reader together generate a 8-digit token to use at login. It can also validate payment transactions made from the account. However not all the digits are 'random' - at least the first two are a counter on the card. That wouldn't be good enough for this application though - the token needs to be much longer, and it would need some kind of way of tying that particular token to the transaction.

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SMASH the Bash bug! Apple and Red Hat scramble for patch batches

John Sager

Re: Because the flaws were very different

There are quite a few scripts in /bin, /sbin, /usr/bin & /usr/sbin that are bash scripts on Ubuntu though. I looked at one or two and it didn't look like they used specific bashisms. The biggest offenders were scripts associated with gzip.

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Latest Firefox and Thunderbird updates plug CRITICAL SSL vuln

John Sager

Re: Bah!

Lightning 3.3 still worked with Thunderbird 31.1.2 but I've now updated to Lightning 3.3.1. The real thing that killed my calendar was when I updated my server to Ubuntu 14.04. The extra stuff I had in apache's sites-available directory, including davical, stopped working because the scripts now all needed the suffix '.conf'. I wonder if it was just someone with a mania for tidying up, or whether it was necessary to make new functionality work.

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What the 4K: High-def DisplayPort vid meets reversible USB Type C

John Sager

Re: Nirvana

Coax? And I've seen jacks of various diameters with several rings. The impedance properties of multi-contact jacks are probably not too good for high speed data though.

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Oz carrier Tiger Air takes terror alerts to new heights

John Sager
Unhappy

I've decided to ditch my 'Practical Unix Terrorism' T-shirt (one of the "O'Really" book parodies). I really don't want the hassle it would cause me these days

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'There is no downside – unless you count the total bath you take moving your stuff'

John Sager

From his moniker I'd guess he hails from that benighted territory the other side of the Pennines. And I can more or less understand them just as well as my own compatriots. Must be something lacking in the water that side... By the way, if you want incomprehensible, try this part of the UK (a ways east of MK)

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Cargo truck crammed with garbage explodes IN SPAAAAACE

John Sager

Sunward trash

Delta-V is a bitch too.

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Vulture 2 spaceplane autopilot brain surgery a total success

John Sager

Re: What happens?...

Up at the launch altitude, I would think any control surface deflection would have little to no impact until the craft reaches quite a high velocity. In fact, I wonder if you'll have any real control authority until it descends a fair way.

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LightSquared backer sues FCC over spectrum shindy

John Sager

Caveat Emptor

USian lawyers obviously don't take that to heart. Even a cursory analysis by a competent engineer would have told them to lay it down carefully & walk away quickly. But then when have the hot-to-invest types listened to anyone?

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Booze in SPAAAACE! Brit rocket boffin preps bold stratobeer mission

John Sager

Ignition

For us formerly teenage pyromaniacs, this is a classic text on how it *should* be done...

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Piketty thinks the 1% should cough up 80%. Discuss

John Sager

Re: Valuation

Not really true. The annuity can fail to be paid if the provider goes bust, as can a pension - many company pension schemes are under-funded because they took pension contribution holidays inadvisedly in the past. Similarly government could elect not to continue to pay benefits/pension etc. The issue here in judging the value of a future stream of income is the risk that it will stop or vary at some future point. You could argue that an annuity has less risk of stopping than a state benefit, but I could equally argue the opposite, based on market conditions, political commitments and a whole raft of other factors. That makes valuing the benefit income stream as an asset somewhat more problematical, but it doesn't completely destroy its value.

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Is the answer to life, the universe and everything hidden in Adams' newly uncovered archive?

John Sager

Re: The ultimate question of life the universe and everything.

"Ah, but what number base was '42' in ?"

13 AFAIR. Find the question.

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Tesla's TOP SECRET gigafactories: Lithium to power world's vehicles? Let's do the sums

John Sager

Re: Synthetic LPG

And just complexify the reactions a bit & you can go up the list of aliphatics & aromatics. Next stop gasoline, then kero, then diesel/gasoil. It's all rather energy-intensive but we've got all sorts of non-fossil energy technologies working their way up the inventiveness & optimisation slopes.

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Brits to vote: Which pressing scientific challenge should get £10m thrown at it?

John Sager

Let's hope the winner fares better than Harrison

He never got the full prize due to the same kind of political scheming that goes on to this day:(

The big problem with air travel is matching the energy density of kerosene and the power to weight ratio of modern jet engines. I suspect the future solution will be to manufacture synthetic kero from atmospheric CO2 and water, and forget about the energy inefficiencies of such a process.

Alternatively, we return to the age of the Titanic...

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Google's self-driving car breakthrough: Stop sign no longer a problem

John Sager

Re: 700,000 miles

No, it just has to be 2 or 3 times better than the average competent driver. And the more self-driving cars there are, which will presumably behave more predictably than the average punter, the easier self-driving cars will find it to drive amongst them. Us hangout meatbag controllers will also find the predictability something of a bonus.

Now Sergei, come and test it in the West End during rush-morning or rush-evening.

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DeSENSORtised: Why the 'Internet of Things' will FAIL without IPv6

John Sager

Re: Why do they always blame enterprise for slow adoption?

@Greg D

You've got a problem that's going to hit you where it hurts sometime down the road then. I'm assuming that people in your organisation use the WWW, so you need internal hosts to connect to external hosts using NAT, yes? Now, consider the case where some new company springs up (e.g. like Facebook) providing a service that becomes absolutely essential to your staff. But, they can't get any v4 addresses and have to go v6 only. Now, you could put in some kind of reverse NAT64 proxy that mapped internal rfc1918 address(es) to its v6 server addresses and faked up DNS to make it work internally. That would work, but you've now given yourself an almighty admin problem of keeping this stuff up to date, especially when more v6 only sites come online.

How close are you to retirement? Do you want to gamble?

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John Sager

Re: is this what.....

"but there's a lot of IPv4 network between me and other IPv6 islands"

If you use a tunnel broker, perhaps. Most of the Internet backbone carries IPv6. The BGP routing protocol anounces v6 prefixes. I have no problem getting to v6 hosts all around the world, and only a small fraction, if any, goes over v4 tunnels.

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John Sager

Re: @brooxta

"Which is also one of the main flaws in IPv6 reasoning; the illusion that these addresses wouldn't matter (too much) because of DNS and ARP / DHCP. But if you're fixing network related problems then the last thing you want to do is rely on "automagically" assigned addresses and the likes."

IPv6 went to a lot of trouble to make this work well, and the link-local stuff in ICMPv6 for neighbour and router discovery 'just works'. In my internal network inter-machine connections such as ssh use a range out of my allocated prefix plus the automagic bottom 64, and the link-local stuff just carries ICMPv6. The default route automagically appears as the link-local address of my firewall/gateway. It'll be a bit more complex for bigger networks but all the router manufacturers have screeds of info on how to configure it, either statically or via v6-aware routing protocols. And it's all readily Googleable!

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John Sager

IPv7

There won't be one. There is enough v6 expertise around that the v4 crunch will (eventually) be solved by moving to v6, despite the grumblings, and probably with some extreme tantrums along the way, judging by the comments on here.

I've had v6 for years courtesy of Entanet, though I had to build my own firewall/gateway router.

Sadly many manufacturers are still in ostrich mode though. I recently bought a TP-Link TL-WA901ND access point to replace a venerable WAP54G. It worked fine for both v4 and v6 in a basic config, but when I wanted to set up a guest SSID the problems started. SSIDs on a VLAN didn't support v6 at all and the v6 router announcements on the default (untagged) VLAN1 leaked into the guest SSID(!). In correspondence with TP-Link they said this device would never support v6. Luckily there is a OpenWRT build for this device, so reflashing and configuring and I now have fully working v4 and v6 on both main SSID and guest SSID. Thanks OpenWRT and a raspberry to TP-Link!

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LOHAN bloodhound unleashes solar-powered minitracker

John Sager

Re: just a thought

It would need a retro rocket motor to cancel enough of the ISS delta-V - essentially changing the orbit so that it intersects the atmosphere at some point. It would be an interesting targeting problem to hit the atmosphere high enough to give it a gentle enough deceleration. However I suspect that friction would still do for it as it got lower.

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Heroic Playmonaut wowed by LOHAN's bulging package

John Sager

Re: Missing a servo????

Will the canards give you enough roll control, being close in to the fuselage? Are you expecting to have any aerodynamic control at launch altitude?

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