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* Posts by Charlie Clark

2801 posts • joined 16 Apr 2007

Reg hack to starve on £1 a day for science

Charlie Clark
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Tokenism

How about going for 5 days without 't internet?

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SkySQL nabs Monty Program to form MariaDB powerhouse

Charlie Clark
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Tumbleweed

MySQL's licensing has always been an "open core" mess. It's arguable that Oracle's more overtly commercial exploitation just makes this more explicit but MySQL was always dual GPL/commerical licensed.

I'm no fan of Oracle but under their stewardship MySQL has indeed started to grow up, with absolutely necessary improvements finally making it into the server. Too long has MySQL waved pathetic excuses for cryptic error messages, data corruption and downright stupid implementation. Sure, plenty of customers have found Oracle's pricing reason enough to leave and many have gone on to use other databases including Postgres - the open source db without any licensing issues.

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Got a Windows XP end-of-life plan? Neither does anyone else

Charlie Clark
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Advice on software from a banker?

'Nuff said really.

Is it just me or does very little of this article make sense? And how much of it is relevant to XP installations?

What are the use cases? ie. a doctor's practice with 4 machines, proprietary software and printers currently running machines bought in 2009. Should migration from XP only be considered necessary for machines with internet access. Will Win 7 or Win 8 run on the hardware? If not, what will new hardware cost? Will the proprietary software run (in an XP VM if necessary)? Are there drivers for the printers and other devices?

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Free French app app booted by Apple, triggers 1m-strong petition

Charlie Clark
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What to do?

“This behaviour is not worthy of a company of this size"

Well, apart from getting a proper portfolio (minister for the digital economy FFS), the sensible thing to do would be to refer it to the competition authorities: should be an an open and shut case. Not this app but Apple's insistence on a monopoly position at the very least in handling payments - apps and subscriptions only available through the store. Just waiting for someone with the balls and energy to refer it. Given the current trend towards vertical integration the sooner the better.

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Apple beats revenue estimates but margins are falling

Charlie Clark
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Re: Must stop commenting on Apple articles

Buffett notwithstanding, companies have a history of terrible timing when it comes to share buybacks. They are currently fashionable as a way of propping up share prices in a market where growth is sluggish but they are also expensive. Buybacks can make sense to companies with large cashpiles as yields on cash are so low: this is one of the reasons for Dell wanting to use its cash to go private. Apple is currently relatively cheap when compared with other tech stocks using the P/E metric but $ 400 a share is still a lot of money and we're still waiting to see those new, high-margin products. Of course, it's also worth thinking about how buybacks may benefit Apple staff with shares vesting.

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Nvidia Tesla bigwig: Why you REALLY won't need x86 chips soon

Charlie Clark
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Re: Negative marketing wont work

As a rough idea, Tom's Hardware compared task-for-task x86 vs Arm as best they could using Win8 RT - which is available for both architectures.

IIRC the Atoms are made with more advanced process (3D FET) than the ARMs. Similar tests have been carried out on Android with the Motorola Razr i (x86) doing very well generally and particularly single-threaded applications but poorer at task-switching in comparison with ARM based phones (CT Magazin 03/13 and 22/12 both in German and pay-per-view. Such comparisons, however, are full of caveats. For real computing comparisons you have to use the Spec benchmarks and read the footnotes carefully.

It's probably also worth noting that the Atoms are the only x86-chips close to the ARM power envelopes and compare unfavourably against more standard x86-fare like i5 and i7, but they use a lot more juice of course.

To support my own claim that ARM is developing faster it would be nice to see comparisons of performance improvements of the ARMs (Exynos) say in the Samsung Galaaxy S series with Intel's Atoms over time.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Negative marketing wont work

ARM is actually less efficient (performance per watt).

That, or the converse claim that ARM is more efficient have to be qualified: what geometries? what OPS? single or multithreaded? The last comparison I saw still had ARM more efficient at low level Ops but then the x86 instruction set is more significantly more powerful in single-threaded environments or for specific operations such, which is where the GPUs come in and why many HPC environments already run x86 with GPUs.

ARMs advantages are plain (price, die size) for many to see which is why so much work is being poured into making ARM-based servers. The development of ARMs over the last few years has been significantly faster than in x86. Intel may still be ahead on manufacturing process but 16nm 64-bit ARMs are now in development with 14nm planned (TSMC).

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Review: Nokia Lumia 720

Charlie Clark
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It's a poor rhetorical device used by Mr Orlowski who obviously likes Windows Phone and elides his personal opinion into a general one. I'm not sure if he's aping Jane Austen's ironic style or classical realism.

I've not come across any such reviews in the press I read but I guess there might be a case to be made for the apparently service-centric Windows Phone approach. However, I also suspect that a "fast and functional smartphone OS" is probably an oxymoron. Feature phones with real buttons are functional.

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Amazon: We're expanding into TWO HUNDRED countries

Charlie Clark
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…, but it's still a quote which should be worrying Google. They're the company still sinking millions into the Android platform which is serving Amazon so well.

Why should it worry Google? Google stands to benefit from every Android device sold and anything Amazon does to try and lure people away from Google services is going to cost Amazon arguably more money than Google stands to lose as it means more and more code to maintain. Consumers stand to benefit from the increased competition, especially if, for example, alternative app stores become available for Kindle devices.

In terms of absolute sales: I believe that the Nexus 7 is comfortably outselling the comparable Kindle. I prefer the 8.9" form factor having had a Galaxy 8.9 for 18 months but I don't think that that market is anything like as big.

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Microsoft CFO quits as quarterly results fail to sparkle

Charlie Clark
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Nobody is writing MS off but the figures are relatively poor. The last year includes lost of Windows 7 + Office 2010 rollouts by corporates before XP runs out. Such business is certainly nice to have but does not count as growth. That was supposed to come across the board: from mobile, from consumers, from SaaS. But that growth hasn't materialised. In the meantime the PC market has entered terminal decline while everybody else's phones and tablets are selling like hotcakes.

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jQuery 2.0 kicks old Internet Explorer versions to the curb

Charlie Clark
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Re: Necessary?

Part of the reason JQuery is getting smaller is because of the increased use of native browser functions. As to whether it is used purely for cross-browser work I'm not sure if that is entirely the case. I view JQuery as a sort of prototype with an API for functions which are not necessarily natively available yet. As I understand it the 2.x series has a more modular architecture which will allow for more discriminating use.

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The fast-growing energy source set to replace oil: Yes, it's COAL

Charlie Clark
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FAIL

Re: Lunatics running the asylum

Get off your hobbyhorse and get a clue.

All EU policy was sanctioned by democratically elected national governments. As you obviously disapprove of what the "plebs" have chosen, you might as well dust off your blackshirt and photo of your-dictator-of-choice.

For the record: Germany yesterday produced the equivalent of 26 nuclear power stations from wind and solar power. Such peak production causes problems all of its own but is still an impressive feat on the road to energy independence. Nothing has been written off from the power stations - the courts will rightly award the power companies the profits guaranteed to them by contract. Yes, that will be expensive and I'm not looking forward to paying my share of it but it is the law.

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British bookworms deem Amazon 'evil'

Charlie Clark
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Heraclitus

Everything flows, nothing stands still. about 500 BC.

You are Jeremy Beadle and I claim my £ 5.

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Notebook makers turn to Android in face of Windows woes

Charlie Clark
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Killer app not an issue

I don't buy Office being much of a reason not to buy Android. Use of MS Office is in decline in corporates but there are solutions for reading and writing MS Office files on the go, with Softmaker's suite perhaps the most advanced. The biggest problem for large scale adoption of Android notebooks will probably be that, like Windows 8, Android is more suited to touch than to mouse and keyboard. This is probably why Google has not been pushing it. This might well change in a future release - no idea what's in the Android 5 roadmap. Obviously, if Intel contributes resources to the project (and they have a lot of IP from Moblin/Maemo/Tizen) that might accelerate matters.

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Software designers: Lose your inhibitions, embrace complexity

Charlie Clark
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Nice work if you can get it

But I've yet to see the successful implementation of a single IT system, and this article seems to advocating this, across a large company over time. Businesses are as much tribes as they are systems and the software has to be able to cope with that as well. Oh, and any good business worth its salt shouldn't be telling a contractor too much about how it actually makes money.

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Study: Most projects on GitHub not open source licensed

Charlie Clark
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Re: Whose Freedom... Payforward

Payforward and peer review. Always nice to be able to get even the occasional improvement on code and I know that I often browse other's code to see how a particular problem has been approached. I tend to do this less if there is a GPL attached.

Forcing developers to make choices about licences forces them to think about politics. Something which is not top of anyone's mind when they are programming.

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Charlie Clark
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Move along, nothing to see here

GitHub's position is absolutely right: if there is no licence file then all rights are reserved. That should be the end of it.

Apart from that the dominance of the very liberal MIT and BSD licences indicate to me that those who do add a licence choose the least restrictive. Good, thought I suspect this reflects the underlying preponderance for "webby" projects if JS and Ruby are the top two languages.

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Gov.uk named THE BEST THING Britain has made all year

Charlie Clark
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Re: On a more serious note

http://archive.org

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Is it only me...

It isn't just you. I thought my ad-blocker wasn't working.

The only thing I like is the cookie manifest which still breaks the law as Google Analytics is not essential and must, therefore, be opt-in.

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Desultory figures from Intel as Otellini makes his last call

Charlie Clark
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Re: Please explain

Getting rid of old kit means reduced maintenance hence reduced expenditure.

Maintenance isn't capital expenditure.

Every die shrink needs new fabrication equipment. By now moving to a smaller die again, the fabs from a few generations past can be disposed of.

So the older equipment is being sacrificed to boost use of while lowering margins of the newer stuff? That would explain the figures somewhat: more Atoms, fewer Xeons, i7s, etc. Shortening the lifespan of fabs which get increasingly expensive to make does not sound like good sense to me. Expect more news on Intel's work as a contract manufacturer to increase use of that very expensive production capacity with Global Foundries II no longer unthinkable.

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Charlie Clark
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Please explain

The company has managed to save over a billion dollars in capital expenditure by getting rid of older manufacturing equipment in preparation for the shift to 14nm production, Smith said. Intel is also using the extra fab space to ensure it has a chip to sell in every market.

* How does getting rid of older kit reduce capital expenditure except through accounting wizardry

* What kit is being used to make and sell those cheap chips "in every market" if the old kit has been disposed of?

Sounds frighteningly like desperate measures being employed to keep the expensive but underused new kit in production. I suppose we can expect big write downs over coming quarters if business does not pick up significantly.

Nevertheless, USD 12 billion profit a quarter is still fucking impressive.

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Are biofuels Europe's sh*ttiest idea ever?

Charlie Clark
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Don't forget biomass

It's a moneypit of even greater proportions.

The EU's policy on biofuels is slightly less insane than the US one as it is %. The corn lobby in America is already agitating for 15 % ethanol in fuel to make up the anticipated shortfall due to more efficient cars.

That said, the problems with the policy in the EU have been known for a while and debate is ongoing on how to rectify them. Of course, once you've created a subsidised industry there is a lot of resistance to overcome to dismantle it but that is what politics is about. Personally, I'm pretty certain that both biofuels and biomass have important roles to play in Europe's future energy policy.

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Oracle slaps critical patch on insecure Java

Charlie Clark
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Stop

Stop the FUD

The patch comes at a time when many security pros are questioning the value of Java, with many seeing its presence in user's browsers as a liability rather than a benefit.

While it might have been true 10 years or more ago, when Java provided better services and encryption than could be guaranteed by browsers, but apart from some web-based conferencing software (Cisco's WebEx still uses Java in some environments) I can't remember coming across Java in the browser for a very long time. Perpetuating the myth of this threat detracts from the real risks associated with Java or similar frameworks. The browser may be one way to launch attacks but there are plenty of other ways to do so. Of course, the vulnerabilities are another nail in the coffin of things like Java FX for mobile phones.

Java is still installed on many people's machines and used by various software packages not least because Java still has probably the best database drivers of any programming language out there. Good to see that Oracle has finally got its arse in gear and established a distribution mechanism comparable to that of Microsoft and Adobe.

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Kobo strikes new match against Kindle: The Aura HD e-reader

Charlie Clark
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Re: PDF reflow support?

Sony's still the best at PDF reflow but Kobo has by far the best controls for reading ebooks. Higher resolution and lighting do improve readability in subtle ways: it's not about cramming more onto the page but increasing contrast through higher definition of characters.

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Raspberry Pi space jaunt ends in dramatic mountain rescue

Charlie Clark
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Flame

Proper backronyms required

Standards at SPB are obviously slipping! Why on earth was HAB not REbranded to REHAB before launch? Where will this madness end? Proper science needs proper backronyms!

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Internet Explorer makes modest gains against Google Chrome

Charlie Clark
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Re: I love My Chrome… Fed up with “Chroooooome”

The ads served have little to do with your choice of browser and a lot to do with the cookies that you allow the networks to serve. Clear out your cookies, check their settings (disabling third party is a reasonable solution) and install something like NotScript.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Bias?

Yes, you are invisible to them, thought I suspect the proportion of such users is very small in respect to the overall population sample. The bigger problem is you have no idea which sites are included are, therefore, where the inevitable bias is. The counter argument, of course, is the pseudo-random distribution of websites included but that is to discount both network effects for acquisition and the bias towards professional service providers for larger websites: The Register itself does not use statcounter.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: DEAD CAT UPWARD DEATH SPIRAL ALERT!!

@Shades - don't feed the troll.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Meanwhile, in the antipodes...

@Pomgolian - interesting stats. Statistics for particular sites are almost always more helpful because the obvious bias needs little accounting for. Particularly transactional sites have everything to gain by scrutinising the numbers in detail.

We saw a slight uptick in IE use in early March which has since fallen off.

For other aggregated stats, Akamai now provides worldwide figures at the somewhat pompously named "Internet Observatory". There is a considerable bias in the set (very American, corporate and entertainment sites) but the sheer volume of data and the dependency solely on UA adds credence to those of us who use script blockers and, thus, never appear in StatCounter's figures.

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Charlie Clark
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And we're all very happy for you.

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Thatcher’s data protection legacy: Just fill out this 16-page form

Charlie Clark
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Re: Legislation of it's age

Sorry, you're glasses have misted up. Trafford Council was one of the first offenders to be caught, wot me mister? I ain't done nuffink, selling information from the electoral register and from other databases to interested companies. I think this was pre-web so can't find a link but the ability to peddle personal data was one of the carrots being offered to councils to try and sweeten the poll tax.

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Under the microscope: The bug that caught PayPal with its pants down

Charlie Clark
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That's because SQL is interpreted language (kind of).

This is the key security issue. Although the risk has been long understood and there are generally pretty reliable ways to pass data in separately so that is cannot, in theory, be run as code, it must be converted in SQL at some point and AFAIK most of SQL escaping techniques have in the past been breached, though I can't remember a server-based library having problems in the last few years. In the event of a breach additional precautions can be taken to limit the scope of any subsequent attack. But all this takes time and planning and you want to get your services out there as soon as possible.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: What about the testing ?

So who were the incompetent penetration testers who missed this flaw.

Who briefed the testers on what to test for? You do realise that in a great many countries the kind of software that you need to carry out penetration testing is considered and you may need waivers not just from the customer but also the software developers, the data centre operators, and maybe even special dispensation from the local law enforcement, etc. Even if you do get those permissions testing takes time and it is axiomatic in software development that no one ever allows enough time for testing.

Add to that the current paradigm of growing as quickly as possible with whatever works, depending on keeping your best programmers sweet until you IPO after which point, you want to replace them with cheaper ones who are expected to manage, maintain and extend largely undocumented and untested (see above) code.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: $3000

While I do agree that the sum isn't really commensurate this kind of research shouldn't be done for the money. The kind of research that is done for big bucks is the stuff that you generally don't hear a lot about. The Economist recently ran an interesting article about the sort of professional services that companies are willing to pay handsomely for.

The error is reprehensible for, as has been noted, allowing both SQL injection and excessive permissions. The spirit of openness and at least some kind of peer review should, however, be welcomed. If companies think that this can replace paying for proper reviews then they are likely to learn the hard way.

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63 TRILLION maths ops a second - in 5 inches? Mm, show me

Charlie Clark
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Very flawed comparison

The comparison should compare like-for-like workloads. FLOPS is an interesting base for comparison but is just that: a base. The cost of power of the whole system should be factored in and If you need Peta-FLOPS of computing power then it might become a real-headscratcher as to how you can do that with commodity hardware today.

Long-term actually owning any of this hardware is going to be too expensive for the calculations that "always manage to outgrow the available hardware" but getting a price for say 1000 Peta-FLOPS for 100 days may soon become a reasonable possibility. Isn't this where Google is aiming to be? Could be mucho-millions in it from the scientific community if they, or anyone else, can deliver.

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Half of US smartphone owners have no idea which mobe to buy next

Charlie Clark
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The best phone is the one you have

I reckon an increasing number of people look at their phone and wonder why they should bother "upgrading" it. Maybe the US will develop sensible phone tariffs which don't punish people for not getting a new phone every contract renewal. 10 - 15 USD ARPU anyone? You know it makes sense.

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Production-ready ZFS offers cosmic-scale storage for Linux

Charlie Clark
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Re: License madness

However I do think it's a real shame that licensing concerns prevent the inclusion of this in the linux kernel.

Why on earth would you want the file system driver in the kernel?

As for wanting to use ZFS: if you really need the features then it's probably worth looking at some of scale features that Solaris/Illumos offer. Best tool for the job, etc.

As for licence madness: the GPL was set up to provoke precisely this kind of conflict and try and force GPL onto other projects. Reap as you sow, done by as you did, etc.

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The UK Energy Crisis in 3 simple awareness-raising pictures

Charlie Clark
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Don't forget that US can't doesn't actually have any terminals that can produce LNG. It has quite a few ones that can accept it rusting on the Gulf Coast with maybe one or two being converted to produce it. However, once they get going then that gas will be sold to the highest bidder and they currently all sit in Asia where the spot price is far higher than in Europe.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Don't Worry

Germany isn't "raping Cyprus for cash". Along with Finland, the Netherlands and others, it is setting strict limits on how much money it will lend to Cyprus. They are bound to do so by treaty.

By the way, the levy on savers proposed by the Cypriot government, contrary to media speculation it was not the German government who suggested breaching the deposit guarantee, would be roughly similar to that which has already been imposed on British savers since 2008. Still, let's not let facts get in the way of some good, old jingoism!

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Charlie Clark
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Nail on head

Of course, the uncertainties of energy policy over the last 20 years haven't really encouraged investment, but what you say is the main problem.

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Charlie Clark
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Russian production is actually stagnant and will be kept that way to maintain prices.

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Charlie Clark
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What gives you that idea? There are still billions of boe of gas available in the southern North Sea gas basin with new fields coming online all the time.

Source?

AFAIK British North Sea gas production has <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peak_gas#United_Kingdom>already peaked</a>.

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Furious Stephen Fry blasts 'evil' Reg and 'TW*T' Orlowski

Charlie Clark
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Jim Dale does it better…

at least when it comes to reading the Harry Potter books.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: The lady doth protest too much.

Is she still around? Had to live through one of her talks. Who the fuck gave her a degree let alone a PhD?

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Japan's rare earth discovery bad news for China's monopoly plans

Charlie Clark
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er

could crucially give Tokyo the tactical upper hand over China in the on-going cat-and-mouse game between the two over supplies.

This makes for snappier copy but is simplistic and wrong. The market is global and has already reacted with Mongolia positioning itself as the new supplier with projects like "Oyu Tolgoi" dwarfing anything coming out of China. Ultimately the price and the environmental standards are dictated by what consumers like us are prepared to pay for our next piece of shiny, shiny.

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Wind farms make you sick … with worry and envy

Charlie Clark
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Re: Efficiency

Well that one IS sort of reasonable. Theoretical calculations follow, not based on any specific case but a feasible example....

Oh, I agree. It was one of most egregious mistakes of the current government, against the express advice of the then minister, to reverse the previous law on phasing out nuclear power and reverse that decision only two months later after having signed contracts with the power companies. The matter is now with the courts and as property is protected by the constitution I think it has a high chance of succeeding which is why I expect we will have to pay and why the current minister is throwing up smoke bombs about the renewables cross-subsidy.

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Charlie Clark
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Efficiency

Also a leaky nuclear plant wouldn't be very efficient and that wouldn't be very German would it

Oh, I don't know. The nuclear plants here don't have a particularly good record for efficiency just for making money for the owners which they do pretty shortly after being turned on. Or even after being turned off: we're looking at claims from up to € 20 billion from the owners about them being closed early. Against that background it's hardly surprising that the current environment minister is keen to talk absolutely anything else!

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Nvidia and ARM: It's a parallel, parallel, parallel world

Charlie Clark
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Re: Python

I think the point about using in Python is that many of the users of HPC are scientists with no formal training in programming. Python has several libraries like NumPy that have made it popular in diverse scientific domains and the are companies that also serve and support them. I think the combination is what continues to make it a popular language for scientists. CERN has some nice graphics that illustrate the increase in Python code once the code for heavy-lifting (usally in C++ or FORTRAN) has been written. Benedit Hegner covered this in his keynote at the German Python conference last November. An hour long and in German and thoroughly entertaining.

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ARM's new CEO: You'll get no 'glorious new strategy' from me

Charlie Clark
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Talk about apples and moonrocks

ARM confounded analysts during its fourth quarter growing sales by 19 per cent while chip giant Intel saw revenues down 3 per cent compared to a year ago.

Even with a slight drop Intel's profits are still enormous.

And then further down "Intel is throwing Atoms under ARM's wheels". Er, no. While Intel has indeed got Atom's to impressive performance/power levels so that the couple of phones with them compete favourably with ARM based stuff, the chips are still significantly more expensive than ARM chips and depend on Intel's better fabrication techniques.

Of course, ARM faces risks in the future. But so does Intel and, as Intel insists on being a manufacturer those risks are higher - sinking billions into a new fab is considerably riskier than trying out a new chip design. The rewards of success are also higher but those fabs just get more and more expensive to build.

Next to the fabless versus fab is also the difference in business culture. ARM's culture of co-operative competition amongst its customers and occasionally with them (Qualcomm, nVidia, PowerVR) and Intel's attempt to monopolise through instruction set. AMD only exists because IBM insisted that Intel licence a second supplier of x86. ARM's model is more in tune with component suppliers in other industries.

As for servers: there is now very little difference between Intel's CISC and ARM's RISC. Intel went RISCy with the Pentium and everyone has been adding instructions to their chips since MMX. ARM still gets more done with fewer transistors. Servers are likely to profit from exactly the same kind of commodification of components that has benefited Intel over the last 15 years. x86 has remorselessly gained market share from Power, SPARC, MIPS, etc. proving that new chips have a chance. This has meant vastly improved toolchains and compilers in the process from which ARM stands to benefit and the APUs of AMD and nVidia are starting to point the way: yes, a single instruction makes life easier for the compiler but if you can offload number crunching to GPUs then you will just get so much more bang for your buck. If ARM's big.Little architecture can demonstrate this kind of switching in real life then we can expect hybrid servers to really take off. x86 translation can be provided in hardware if necessary as the designs for the necessary silicon (Transmeta) already exist.

But it is also simply naive to put ARM up solely against Intel. Unless Intel goes fabless they are not competitors. Rather Intel is competing increasingly with nVidia, Marvell, Broadcom, Qualcomm, TI, Samsung, et al. and the competition will increase as the PC market fails.

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Syrian hacktivists hijack BBC Weather feed

Charlie Clark
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Re: But, But

Two things - RSS has no push mechanism and polling is resource intensive; but I think the real reason for people staying away from RSS is the inability to forward stuff to the friends with important comments like "OMG!", "LOL!", etc.

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