* Posts by John Robson

1615 posts • joined 19 May 2008

Art heist 'pranksters' sent down for six months

John Robson
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Re: "it seems a little imbalanced to me to bang them up"

"If the sun gets in to your eyes, what should you do? Immediately emergency stop? Maybe that will kill the person behind you who has also just driven in to glare? Back off the throttle and coast in to a space which just before the glare hit you saw to be empty? It's not an easy decision and it will depend on the exact situation."

You should "drive at a speed that will allow you to stop well within the distance you can see to be clear" (HC126). I've never known the sun be particularly unpredictable, that's not to say I've never been dazzled by it, but I generally know when it's coming. The sun doesn't dance around the sky, it doesn't jump out.

Also see HC93: "Slow down, and if necessary stop, if you are dazzled by bright sunlight."

You should be slowing down *into* that situation, and then slowing further. The vehicle behind you should be doing the same. You shouldn't be driving onto any piece of tarmac that you haven't actively confirmed is clear of other road users.

http://beyondthekerb.org.uk/2014/01/31/at-the-going-down-of-the-sun/

The difference is that these all resulted in death an no prosecution - because this is tolerated:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-kent-23970047

The vast majority of people simply ignore the requirement to be able to see where you are going - and it's that simple fact that contributes to many lives being taken each year.

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John Robson
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Re: "it seems a little imbalanced to me to bang them up"

"Basically there were lots of easily foreseeable ways in which this could have killed someone. Quite rightly, you are not allowed to be so reckless with the lives and mental health of strangers."

Unless you do with a lethal weapon - in which case it's "just an accident" or "the sun got in my eyes, so I carried on driving a metal box at 30mph into a space I couldn't see".

People who kill others are frequently let off entirely, or given a pittance of a fine. These people filmed some acting, ok they did it to film the reaction of the public, but as far as I can tell the most dangerous thing they did was drive away...

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Raspberry Pi Zero gains a camera connector

John Robson
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Damn

Now I need another PiZero....

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A cracked window on the International Space Station? That's not good

John Robson
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Holes

There are 7 holes all the way through the cupola walls. Used to close the debris shields...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KSzuiqVjJg4

An eighth wouldn't be good

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Banning computers makes students do better on exams – MIT

John Robson
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I suspect my daughter will be using her laptop in alot of classes very soon...

But then she is quite severely dyslexic, so I am going to spend half term starting her touch typing - which apparently does wonders for their language processing by using different bits of the brain.

Finding an appropriately sized keyboard was relatively hard work though - and at least the staff at school are supportive.

In the general case I suspect it depends far more on the attitude towards the machine than on the machine itself. Deny oneself internet access is a simple switch on most devices - it just needs to be applied for appropriate times.

Airplane mode in meetings is always good - you come out and people ask why you haven't replied to some inane email...

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TalkTalk customers decide to StayStay after £3m in free upgrades

John Robson
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Re: If Only...

And what the heck does "our learnings" mean, anyway?

I think it means "I failed my SAT, but because I'm a greedy fuckwit with no regard for ethics I'll do OK"

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First successful Hyperloop test module hits 100mph in four seconds

John Robson
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Re: So many luddites...

"Because we don't believe in an overhyped technology with a lot of obvious unresolved engineering and logistical issues (that bazza outlined better than I could earlier in this thread) we're Luddites?"

Engineering issues like hot landing a first stage booster stage on a floating barge having delivered the second stage to a geosynchronous transfer orbit?

Or like building an electric car which will do more miles to the charge than many of the petrol cars I've ever driven - and can have their battery swapped in less time than it takes to fill a tank?

Good thing we don't have the same person trying to change too many forms of transport. I mean a consistent approach can't possibly work on a third transport mode can it?

Is sanity doing the same thing that has worked before and expecting it work again?

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Windows 10 build 14342: No more friendly Wi-Fi sharing

John Robson
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Good

Automated WiFi key sharing was always really stupid.

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Kepler space telescope spots 1,284 new planets

John Robson
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"FTL"

1) Do this

2) Oh, and the instructions you'll receive in about 2 weeks - ignore them, sent them before FTL comms...

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John Robson
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Re: I'm calling it !!!!

The gaps aren't where God is...

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Can ad biz’s LEAN avert ADPOCALYPSE?

John Robson
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"I think it's pretty funny when advertisers get so far up their own arses that they think people LIKE ads."

VERY occasionally they get it right...

Honda Cog for example...

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John Robson
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"Untrue. You might like to believe that the adverts do not influence you, but every day millions of people will buy "Kellogg's" instead of an unbranded box of cornflakes at half the price, and your teenagers will choose "Nike" trainers over similar footwear simply because of the branding. And I wonder whether, like most people, you call your vacuum cleaner a "Hoover"?"

Well, I tend to buy the unbranded cornflakes, and choose trainers that fit my feet.

I do call the vacuum cleaner a hoover, but it isn't, it's a SEBO. That's brand genericide, not a good thing.

My sellotape isn't, my post-it notes aren't 3M...

I'm sure I am influenced by adverts - but the main effect has been to cancel my TV license and install ad blockers.

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Sic transit Mercury Monday

John Robson
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Re: Am I missing something?

You could take measurements yourself and use them to estimate the distance to the sun.

The real science is generally being done from orbitting observatories today, but schools can always use these events for an "interesting lesson"...

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Brit polar vessel christened RRS Sir David Attenborough

John Robson
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Re: Fair compromise

"Attenborough ... won a scholarship to Clare College, Cambridge in 1945, where he studied geology and zoology and obtained a degree in natural sciences"

Not 'just a TV presenter', he actually knows his stuff as well.

He has done more for environmental protection than most people can ever hope to achieve.

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The 'new' Microsoft? I still wouldn't touch them with a barge pole

John Robson
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Re: I stopped using Redmond products in the year 2000.

They make good mice and keyboards...

As for software - yeah - I can do without it.

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Woman charged with blowing AU$4.6m overdraft on 'a lot of handbags'

John Robson
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If you owe the bank...

a thousand pounds then you have a problem

if you owe them a million pounds then they have a problem.

Looks like they can't work out what that problem is, or how to solve it...

Declare bankruptcy. Go away for 7 years - dig up the patio later.

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Skygazers: Brace yourselves for a kick in the Aquarids

John Robson
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Re: If you missed the Aquarid meteor display

Use binoculars or a small telescope to project the image of the Sun on a sheet of paper.Never look at the Sun directly.

Potentially easier is to use a mirror as a "pinhole":

http://www2.eng.cam.ac.uk/~hemh/transit.htm

All you need is

A mirror - a compact makeup mirror should do...

Some way of masking off all but a small section - masking tape will do, the section can be square

Some way of holding it still

A darkish (close most of the curtains) room which faces north.

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John Robson
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Re: Flying pigs

If the flying pigs are coming in at orbital velocity....ROAST PORK AND CRACKLING!!!!!

Probably not unfortunately...

https://what-if.xkcd.com/28/

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John Robson
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Earth pointing in the right direction...

Indeed.

3-5 am the bit of earth you are on is both dark and moving towards the relevant piece of space pretty fast. So it's not a timezone related thing (although I presume that DST is ignored)

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Mercury to transit Sun: Viewer discretion advised

John Robson
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Re: Can someone explain . . .

We're not quite coplanar.

There is a 7 degree difference:

Wikipedia

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Old fashioned engineering: HPC cluster kids would like to thank their fans. No really

John Robson
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Reward

Is lower than the price of a card they could (theoretically at least, I know there are protections in there) have burned?

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Hold on a sec. When did HDDs get SSD-style workload rate limits?

John Robson
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Re: You can never have too much disk space (or too much memory)

SSDs are the single most significant upgrade you can make to most machines.

A Fusion drive is just a diddy SSD with a larger HDD behind it.

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E-cigarettes help save lives, says Royal College of Physicians

John Robson
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Re: The vapours from these things still smell...

Yes, I do get nauseous near smokers - even some minutes after they have come back inside (nowhere near as bad by then of course)

No I'm not affected by WiFi/CFL (except that they allow me to communicate and see).

Potatoes don't affect me either - but I would suggest that the intake method is slightly different. Maybe it's not the nicotine, I did only say that I suspected it was, but there is something in both sets of gases that affect me, and affect me even when I am not aware of their presence.

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John Robson
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The vapours from these things still smell...

..., well most of them do. Not quite all.

I suspect it's the nicotine in them that makes me nauseous - because I can be quite fine, then feel badly nauseous very quickly and turn around to find someone with one of these devices...

One of the few things they all seem to have in common is the nicotine, and the few nicotine free ones I've smelt have been fine (and I've not known in advance for some of them).

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Galileos 11 and 12 live for your (imminent) navigating pleasure

John Robson
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Re: Tracking?

@Martin Summers - you are just inconveniencing yourself.

Or liberating yourself from the 24/7 email/contact drudgery that people seem to assume nowadays...

Says the man who uses a feature phone - and a 4G tablet... D'Oh.

Personally I think the tablet does it's job better than a stupidly oversized phone could, and I'd rather my phone had a week or more of battery life...

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Must listen: We've found the real Bastard Operator From Hell

John Robson
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Re: Almost perfect

Agreed -it's sufficiently bad that it's clearly a parody.

A few stutters/glitches (miss out _ word somewhere) and bad music with clipping and severe band filtering.

Then gently ramp the volume up and down, so the caller has to frequently adjust their volume controls...

Occasional "You are number " in the queue, please hold, your call will be answered soon...

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German prof scores €2.4m EU grant to crack software on your bicycle

John Robson
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Re: Its a bike...

There are broadly two classes of electric bike.

One is legally a pedal cycle (no special clothing, no VED, no registration) and the other is basically an electric motorbike.

Some places on the continent blur the lines slightly with mopeds and the rules around those vary - but technically you ought to be able to pedal those (not that you would want to)

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John Robson
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"Last time I saw him (a few years ago now), he was working on wireless brake controllers. It's a very interesting exercise analysing the reliability of wireless brake controls, and computing that despite your natural horror at the idea, they're no more likely to fail than a brake cable is to snap."

I'd suggest that the likelihood of either is dependant on maintenance.

If you don't keep charging a wireless system it will fail catastrophically fairly quickly. This is particularly true of the 'actuator' end of the system.

If you don't maintain a brake cable then after many years it will start to fray - it will get harder to apply the brakes, and eventually one of them will fail - but by that stage most people with that little mechanical sympathy will have taken the bike to their bike shop for new pads.

It's easier to get a cable to snap if you manage to set it up very badly of course...

Then he omits to mention hydraulics...

I wouldn't trust wireless brakes on a push bike - but it's not just the 'wireless' bit that concerns me, it's the extra batteries. And with wireless you can always jam a signal - which in this case would presumably put the brakes on full, inevitably causing a face plant for anyone on an upright bike...

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IBM says no, non, nein to Brexit

John Robson
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Re: @codejunky - RE: Brexit is all a sham like the Scotland referendum.

"There are 2 ways to look at the people who didnt vote. They dont care or they implicitly accept the outcome."

Or that they don't think it makes a blind bit of difference.

Would you like to be shot or hung: Please vote now.

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John Robson
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Re: @codejunky - RE: Brexit is all a sham like the Scotland referendum.

"@ John Robson

"I'm sorry - but 37% is not a majority."

Yes it is. When everyone else got considerably less than 37% across all parties yes it is. Simple math the most voted for the tories by a clear margin."

No - it's the largest slice, it's not a majority.

There is a nice table here: http://www.bbc.com/news/election/2015/results

Tory: 37% 331 seats

Labour: 30% 232 seats

Lib Dem: 8% 8 seats

SNP 5% 56 seats

So why is a 1% of the votes cast worth 1 seat for the Lib Dems, 7.7 for Labour, 8.9 for Tories and 11.2 for the SNP.

There are 650 seats, so each % of the vote should yield 6.5 seats worth of representation...

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John Robson
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Re: @codejunky - RE: Brexit is all a sham like the Scotland referendum.

"@ Graham Marsden

"Remind me again: What percentage of the votes did the Tories get which gave them a "majority" in Parliament?"

The majority, to the shock of a lot of people, including the tories who expected anther coalition. Looking it up the figure is almost 37% while labour got 30% with the rest being divided out. You might not like it but"

I'm sorry - but 37% is not a majority.

It might be the largest slice, but it is clearly far short of a majority.

Even worse is the percentage of the electorate who voted for them...

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Colander-wearing Irishman denied driver's licence in Pastafarian slapdown

John Robson
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Re: Obviously a parody

It's a parody because it was set up as one.

What scuppered him here was admitting that he didn't wear the colander to work, or on social occasions. It is therefore not a core tenet that it is always worn, so removing it for a photograph is clearly acceptable.

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Google discovers you assume clouds just work

John Robson
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That's good...

They have looked and decided that alerting users to BAU activity that is reliable is worse than telling them nothing - since they stop reading the alerts for serious issues.

The point of cloudy services is that it is SEP - so that's how people treat it.

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HTC 10: Is this the Droid you're looking for?

John Robson
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Re: HiRes

"This too shows ignorance of your knowledge of audio. The DAC built into this phone does make a huge difference especially using hi res ear buds.

It's your ears, but you're missing out."

I agree - the quality of the DAC is very important. And Ultimate Ears Reference earbuds would probably be considered high fidelity.

But there is no benefit in reproducing sounds that are at more than twice the frequency I can hear - and the act of trying to reproduce them means that the hardware is less well tuned in the audible frequencies, AND that you end up with unwanted audible harmonics.

As for 24bit depth - the human ear can theoretically get better than 16 bits, but 16 bits, with dither, can easily represent over 100dB of dynamic range. What are you trying to listen to that you need to go to the threshold of hearing (which is significantly less than an incandescent light bulb at 1m) and the threshold of pain?

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John Robson
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HiRes

It's HiRes certified?

Really - who cares, 16 bit 44k is all anyone needs at point of playback (there are cases for deeper bit depth and, at least temporarily, higher sampling rate during production).

My TV supports colours way past mere blue, both ultra violet and x rays are faithfully reproduced...

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Ex-NSA security expert develops generic Mac ransomware blocker

John Robson
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Re: the chicken or the egg

It's not as if he claims any particular self protection - in fact he explicitly says that anything designed against it would probably work...

It's a first step, and should be an embarrassment to the current 'black list' discovery style of security software. It really is time that we had whitelists by default...

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UK web host 123-Reg goes TITSUP, customer servers evaporate

John Robson
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Re: The National Enquirer of Technology

"Trouble is, I've never come across a cloud/hosting/service provider that did keep people informed."

My current provider has had a couple of issues over the past few years.

There was even an IP range change (having to give back small slices in order to get larger slices), there have been data centre level DDOS and a router screwup.

But I have always had an email from the main technical support within minutes of it kicking off (I was actively online for one of the events, and I hadn't finished bashing out my "what's up" email before theirs hit my inbox).

Regular updates of what they are trying along the way, then a decent breakdown of the issue after.

Makes life so much easier if people admit that things go wrong, and deal with their customers as if they could do it as well...

Who? corgi tech

I was a fairly early customer and agreed to switch data centres for bonus features (i.e. I pay a lot less than I should) - but it's still pretty good value anyway. I don't use it for anything particularly critical, but I really notice when it isn't there...

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Line by line, how the US anti-encryption bill will kill our privacy, security

John Robson
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Re: How to get a supercomputer, paid for by the USA Gov...

Buy it online, submit invoice to US Gov.

If they don't pay inside the DLR time limit then return supercomputer to supplier...

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John Robson
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Re: Evil one time pad

"My question is that if you decode the decoy message, does not that give some clues (either by changes at conversion time or by what's left) that might make it more vulnerable to finding out that there's another message in there? Or worse - to decoding it? "

Any OTP encrypted message contains ALL messages of the same length (or shorter) - you just need the appropriate OTP to get to it.

All that the "innocuous OTP" proves is that someone has combined the 'crypt data' with 'innocuous message' to get an 'innocuous OTP'.

If you find the 'evil OTP' then you reveal the 'evil message' - but you need to demonstrate that that OTP was used on this message - since you now have two apparently valid OTP instances, and only one is genuine.

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John Robson
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Reasonable costs...

Well, I'll need a few dollars to research quantum computing, build working hardware, then I can start to crack the encryption to help you...

No I can't tell you if 'few' means a billion or 100 trillion...

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Ad slinger Phorm ceases trading

John Robson
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Regrettably?

Best decision ever.

Taken a long while though - hope the major losses are confined to those not at the coal face

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Picture this: An exabyte of cat pix in the space of a sugar cube of DNA

John Robson
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Re: A writeable CD left on window sill

I have just gone through a data refresh project - discs which were written and then filed in individual sleeves in a disc storage case, with silica gel left inside. Stored in a fireproof safe.

Those from 2005 are *mostly* readable. There was a ~5-10% failure rate, and those discs were looked after rather well. It is possible that the data was corrupt when written.

Unfortunately I am no longer in that role, and the 2001 discs were next on the list...

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FBI Director defends iPhone 5C unlock tool that's obviously going to leak into wrong hands

John Robson
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Re: Trust me, I'm from head office

Slartibartfast: Come. Come now or you will be late.

Arthur: Late? What for?

Slartibartfast: What is your name, human?

Arthur: Dent. Arthur Dent.

Slartibartfast: Late as in the late Dentarthurdent. It's a sort of threat, you see. I've never been terribly good at them myself but I'm told they can be terribly effective.

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Champagne weekend for Blue Origin with third launch

John Robson
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Re: Toy rocket....

Well...

Yes I know that Bezos is building towards bigger rockets, and these are already serious bits of kit. But the grasshopper was doing all of this several years ago - it was just using a lower peak altitude because it wasn't targeting tourism, but was a pure technology demonstrator.

There was a great infographic posted a few months back - pointing out that the Falcon 9 first stage could put a fully fuelled and loaded Blue Origins NS into orbit...

That's a colossal difference in capability!

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John Robson
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Toy rocket....

This is a pure toy - there is nothing wrong with that, but any attempt Bezos makes to compare this with the Falcon is like comparing one of those kiddie electric ride on cars with a supertanker...

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Tesla books over $8bn in overnight sales claims Elon Musk

John Robson
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Re: @ bazza

Sorry - missed this para:

"When I start my car on an average UK morning, the first thing I do is turn the heating full on for a good 15 minutes. In the winter, it's front and rear electric defrost for a good 10 minutes and 50% heating/demist all the time. In the summer, I have the aircon running. I have a feeling that these conditions would invalidate the mileage range claims for any electric vehicle."

Err - it's plugged in, so all you need to do is tell it you'll be driving in 15 minutes, and use the mains feed to preheat the car. Easy. No cold running engine either...

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John Robson
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Re: Lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way.

"If you're thinking of repairs, please turn your attention to the battery pack. Never take your eyes off the battery pack. Battery pack. It's a 'Lifed' item. Clock is ticking."

Yes - it has a life - so do all the components in an internal combustion engine.

The battery was originally quoted as a 10 year predicted life. Since they have had a few being driven around that has now been revised Upwards as a result of the telemetry data. It's now 12 years.

Oh and that's when they have 80% charge capacity, so they are then useful in all sorts of other applications - probably static, and then they can be recycled into new batteries.

My car has just died, it was 11 years old - The engine is dodgy, the gearbox is a bit wonky, the brake lines are corroded - it's had various mechanical failures....

But a 10-12 year battery life doesn't seem so limited any more.

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John Robson
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Re: @ bazza

"The average automobile engine is only about 35% efficient, and must also be kept idling at stoplights, wasting an additional 17% of the energy, resulting in an overall efficiency of 18%.[7] Large stationary electric generating plants have fewer of these competing requirements as well as more efficient Rankine cycles, so they are significantly more efficient than vehicle engines, around 50% "

Grid losses:

"Total losses: 1,423.5 MW (2.29% of peak demand)"

Charging efficiency:

80-90% (theoretically 92%, but who gets that)

So even ignoring:

- Nuke plants

- Renewables

- Regenerative braking

You get 97%*80%*50% ~40% efficiency from an unrefined, centrally delivered fuel as opposed to ~20% for a highly refined and locally distributed fuel.

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Hi! Up here! I'm your Amazon drone. Do you mind if I land now?

John Robson
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Re: Prior Art

I wonder if "on a mobile device" covers applications on a drone?

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Amazon WorkSpaces two years on: Are we ready for cloud-hosted Windows desktops?

John Robson
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I presume...

that if you buy more than a couple of desktops the price comes down to something a little more reasonable.

1k/year is an awful lot for a system that could probably be set up in house for not much more than that (assuming that clients need to be added on in either case)

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