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* Posts by Alan Brown

3124 posts • joined 8 Feb 2008

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

Alan Brown
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Re: reducing energy consumption

"it's not "the rich" that are increasing the population at 2-4x their replacement levels."

The funny thing is, that once the "poor" become "rich", they decrease reproduction rates of their own accord.

last time I was in Myanmar (Burma), I was a little surprised to hear people talking about having children for the specific purpose of ensuring someone would be there to look after them in their old age - but when you think about it, that's been one of the prime drivers for reproduction all along.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Between a rock and a hard place

"The one thing they all agree on is no nuclear power. And they do know how to freak out the man in the street. But not, usually, the man or woman in a white coat."

Unfortunately the men in white coats don't have any canvas huggy jackets(*) to put on the anti-nooo-cle-ar nutters.

(*) The ones with 4 foot long wraparound sleeves.

LTFRs really do look like the way of the future. Uranium may be ubiquitous now, but it's worth bearing in mind that the amount of energy required in the United States to enrich natural uranium to "fuel grade" levels is a closely held secret.

BWR/PWR reacters are a decent technology at 5-10MW (ie, shipping engines) , but scaling them up to civil power requirements is on par with using piston-based steam engines to generate electricity. There's a reason that steam turbines are used at those scales.

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BOFH: WHERE did this 'fax-enabled' printer UPGRADE come from?

Alan Brown
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Re: I deal with a big multinational's UK head office

OTOH the main printer here has just topped 180k prints after 14 months.

Doesn't stop it being fragile, but it's less fragile than the HPs it replaced.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Purchasing live in a different universe

> When you go back complaining that Z,Y & T don't work, all you get is

> "It is company policy to buy the cheapest parts available".

"I know where you live. Nice house, it'd be a pity if it caught fire with your nice kids inside, wouldn't it? Especially when the investigations show that you've been using kiddyporn sites and making websearches on concealing arson"

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'It is comforting to know where your data centres are.' UK.GOV does NOT

Alan Brown
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"dodgy hotels"

"We have taken advice from our local trading standards and have also removed this policy from our terms and conditions."

An interesting way to describe being told that if they didn't, they'd get the book thrown at them. (The hotel in question has a shedload of incredibly bad reviews predating any publicity about this event, so it's not as if the trolls have made much difference)

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The cloud that goes puff: Seagate Central home NAS woes

Alan Brown
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Re: Server or backup?

"Always keep at least two copies of everything, preferably three."

And keep the bloody things in separate locations.

We've had a number of instances where staff have been burgled and lost not only their computers, but also the backups - obligingly kept on a shelf above the computer.

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In a mall at the weekend? WORSE STILL, are you LOST?

Alan Brown
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This would be the same CSR/SiRF libraries which included backdoor hooks for Carrier IQ?

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Coming clean: Ten cordless vacuum cleaners

Alan Brown
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Some countries have shown vac ads with heavily tattooed men doing the vacuuming, but apparently they got complained about.

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TalkTalk's 'unbeatable signal strength' and 'fastest Wi-Fi tech' FIBS silenced by ad watchdog

Alan Brown
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Re: I have a VM Superhub...

Talktalk _are_ AOL.

Just because AOL UK's offices are in Luxembourg doesn't mean that the company isn't wholly owned by TalkTalk, it just means that they're trying to hide it.

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Alan Brown
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Re: I have a VM Superhub...

"P.S. TalkTalk: Worst. ISP. Ever."

The odd thing is that the underlaying TT network is fine and if you buy from TT business or an ISP reselling TT you'll get very good service (see below).

Talkltalk's rotten customer "swervice" and "unhelpful"desks (They're all as useful as a shower of shit, no matter which country they're in) are a direct result of management decisions based on knowing that customers would prefer to complain than move somewhere else.

(Not that TalkTalk are alone in this, the big suppliers are all bloody awful)

You don't have to wait a week for openreach to show up and not bother to fix a line, or 14 days for a rebooking if they missed their appointment for VDSL installation - that's just TalkTalk's internal rules "because they can".

My current ISP (http://phone.coop) had Openreach out the following morning when the bastards failed to show up (yet again) for a VDSL installation. That was after 4 months of TalkTalk failing to get it installed (13 visits where Openreach cablemonkeys either didn't bother showing up, couldn't complete the install or thought they were doing a fault and claimed "I'm not trained to do installations") and insisting on at least 10 days between rebookings.

The irony is that Phone.Coop mostly resell TalkTalk lines - but the SLAs are stratospheric by comparison to TT retail, for about £5/month more than TT.

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Alan Brown
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Re: ASA...

ASA is a TRADE ASSOCIATION.

NOT a regulator.

It has ZERO legal powers.

It exists to avoid govt legislation and as such has always done the minimum necessary to stave off govt intervention and always will.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Dear ISPs

The other approach (if recording) is to ask them if they're guaranteeing that you'll get that speed, buy the service if they do, then take them to court when they can't provide it.

Small print in followup mail isn't revelent to what was originally agreed in the sales call. In fact, should the mailed out stuff differ substantially from the sales call then any agreement is null and void (IANAL, however this has been thrashed out time and again)

The ASA currently requires that at least 10% of customers are able to get the "up to" speed.

Which is pushing for that figure to be raised to 51% - which may be unrealistic, but 10% is definitely too low.

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CERN IT boss: What we do is not really that special

Alan Brown
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Re: The so called God particle.

"PS, the name "god particle" for the Higgs was coined by a physicist, not the DM"

IIRC, it was originally "the goddamned particle" until the usual PC objections got raised.

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Intel offers ingenious piece of 10TB 3D NAND chippery

Alan Brown
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Major issue

Higher density doesn't always mean lower prices

Write wear and speed aren't a major issue.

Firstly: large disks have far lower percentages of writes, which means the sparing load is much reduced.

Secondly: Samsung stepped back to ~40nm architecture when they went to 3d, specifically because it's a lot faster and more robust (and cheaper to fabricate)

Spinning rust drives _are_ less reliable than flash ones, the failure rate at work is testament to that (thousands of drives, flash fails at a rate of less than 1% of rust)

Now that Sammy are offering 3-10year warranties and almost all the spinners come with 12 months, the math favours flash even though rust is much cheaper upfront.

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Toyota to launch hydrogen (ie, NATURAL GAS) powered fuel cell hybrid

Alan Brown
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"Hydrogen is generally made from natural gas"

Which is why it would make far more sense to make a fuel cell which can handle that.

And such things already exist.

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Alan Brown
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"No one ever seems to point out that most electricity is made by burning coal?"

That depends where you are

http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/france/ shows that 80-85% of french power is nuke-sourced.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Hydrogen advocates forget to mention the obvious

"The obvious problem of hydrogen that is always over looked, intentionally, is the fact that hydrogen extremely inefficient to produce with electricity"

Steam cracking is probably the way forward and powering it with a LFTR nuke plant would be the obvious cheap energy source.

Hydrogen from electrolysis is never going to be efficient, the only way to make hydrogen cracking cheap is to use waste heat from another process - like the "cold" side of a power station powered by the above-mentioned LFTR

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Alan Brown
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Re: Dreaming

Binding the hydrogen makes it a lot easier to store and transport - metal hydrides being one solution with an energy density much higher than that of liquid hydrogen.

Binding it with carbon is even easier because you don't have to "recharge" the metal. There's a lot more hydrogen in a litre of diesel than in a litre of liquid hydrogen.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Fission is renewable.

There's enough thorium in mining tailings to do it for the next 1000 years and it's not as if those piles are getting smaller, given they're leftovers from rare earth extraction.

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Blackpool hotel 'fines' couple £100 for crap TripAdvisor review

Alan Brown
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Re: Simples...

"Unfortunately if it is two transactions under the law, the CCA doesn't apply."

There's no lower limit for card-not-present transactions, therefore If it was two separate transactions then it's covered and the offence ends up compounded because it wasn't separately authorised by the cardholder.

Retaining credit card details is an explicit breach of Visa/Mastercard merchant agreements without jumping through a lot of hoops and I seriously doubt a fleapit hotel in Blackpool with cheap'n'nasty rooms is going to have the readies to invest into a fully compliant structure to Visa's satisfaction.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Simples...

"It's in their terms and conditions, so they can tell the credit card company that it's not unauthorized. "

The contract term is illegal, therefore the charge is unauthorised and the Credit Card companies are jointly and severally liable for any legal penalties.

Understandably, they take a very dim view of merchants who try these sorts of games.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Legal?

It's illegal anyway - unfair clauses in consumer contracts, etc.

I see the local Trading Standards office has weighed in on it.

I'd have loved to have been a fly on the wall for that conversation - and the one from Visa threatening to revoke their merchant account for making bogus charges (Visa and Mastercard both stomp bloody hard on merchants who try this sort of shit)

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Alan Brown
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Re: Boohoo

> Just state "what the hell do you expect for 35 quid a night? The fucking Ritz?"

The average Travelodge is about this price and they're generally (some exceptions) clean and quiet.

Rising Damp was supposed to be a situation comedy, not a documentary.

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NSA mass spying reform KILLED by US Senators

Alan Brown
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Re: PUBERS

It wasn't so long ago that the Republicans were the progressive party in the USA and it was the Democrats who were the conservatives.

The amazing tribalism of political party supporters is demonstrative proof that civil war is never very far away.

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Alan Brown
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Re: voting reasons?

" In most elections, for most races, the choices I'm faced with are between "ugh" and "oh, hell no". A bunch of explanations for past votes is not likely to change that."

Then go in and spoil your ballot paper, or vote for the greens, or write "NO CONFIDENCE IN ANY" across it.

"Not voting" is not an option. It's tacit acceptance of the status-quo and anyon dressing it up as a "protest" is leading you up the garden path.

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Alan Brown
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Re: voting reasons?

"Even if written by a staffer, it's still attributed "

The average politician will deny he wrote it, then when confronted with the evidence, deny the denial, ad nauseum.

There's a reason George Boole developed his special form of algebra - it was to analyse what policitians say and do.

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Alan Brown
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"Since Justin Amash is also the only member of Congress to explain every vote he makes on his Facebook page, I'll let him explain:"

Short version: What goes into committee from the floor usually bears almost no resemblance to what comes out.

Longer version: If an act says what it's going to do in the first paragraph, by the time you get to page 2 it usually turns out to be doing the exact opposite.

Add to that the obscene practice of "riders" - tacking sections onto an act which have nothing whatsoever to do with the legislation at hand and usually seek to further someone's personal ends

One could spend several lifetimes just unpicking the tangled incoherent mess of USA legislation passed in the last 50 years, let alone the 100 before that.

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Alan Brown
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"While people are still relatively wealthy, I suspect there will be little impetus for them to tear themselves away from the goggle-box and organise enough to swing the voting system."

Global wealth is increasing. It's just increasing faster in "poor countries" than in "rich ones"

Not that it's any consolation for Billy-Bob McTwat from Bumfuck Nowheresville, who's been laid off, can't afford a dentist for his rotting teeth and is just bright enough to hate who the media tells him to.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Do I care enough to comment???

If the USA was an actual democracy, the "electoral college" wouldn't exist.

"The People" could vote Hairy-Ass McCracken in on a 90% landslide, but the Electoral College still wouldn't appoint him to office.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Do I care enough to comment???

" but all it's done is to reduce our safety and cause death and destruction elsewhere. "

Damned right sparky.

The absolute best recruiting tool for turning mild-mannered family guys into hate-spewing enemies of the state is letting him see his wife and children blown up by a bomb launched by an jittery ampthetamine-crazed US Navy pilot who'd have trouble identifying the right target, let alone putting anything near it. It doesn't matter that the pilots were ordered not to attack. The fact remains that they did.

Yes, that's right. They really do feed amphetamines to navy pilots and the resulting carnage is fairly predictable.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Do I care enough to comment???

"whilst us Americans try to deal with the political upheaval and constitutional upsets here at home, why don't we just leave all that pesky Middle East / Ukraine / ISIS terrorist business to you Brits & Europeans to handle, "

If it wasn't for american interference in foreign affairs, most of these current issues wouldn't have occured in the first place.

Bashir: put in place by an CIA-organised coup

Iran: Resah Palavi (The Shah) put in place by an CIA-organised coup

Iraq: Hussein put in place by a CIA-organised coup

Bin Laden: Former CIA operative, trained and financed by the CIA.

Israel (one of the biggest destabilising influences in the Middle East) - a state FOUNDED on terrorist practices (Every single type of attack seen in the middle east today was pioneered by Jewish Extremists) and propped up unilaterally by the USA.

Saudi Arabia: A repressive state, which has funded much global terrorism - but that's OK because the King is personal friends of the Bush family.

Starting to see a pattern here? Every single USA action in the middle east in the last 60 years has made things WORSE.

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Anonymous ‪hacks the Ku Klux Klan after Ferguson‬ threats

Alan Brown
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Re: Do any of you realize...

"A PD was disbanded because of problems. "

And the officer in question was from that disbanded PD, plus has a string of complaints about his actions already.

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Alan Brown
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Kind of interesting

Several of those outed KKK members are cops and civic officials.

I wonder how long they'll hold their positions.

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Philae healthier... beams CHEESE: Proud ESA shows off FIRST COMET SURFACE PIC

Alan Brown
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Re: Difficult to tell

"Perhaps it bounced along until it hit a rock?"

Microgravity doesn't mean no inertia. hitting a rock whilst going sideways is a bad thing.

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VINYL is BACK and you can thank Sonos for that

Alan Brown
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Re: how to give your Vinyl a "deep clean" using wood glue

"Lighter fluid & a soft cloth seems to work better."

Keith Monks still makes the best record cleaning machines. The only way to properly clean the grooves is to vacuum the liquid out.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Vinyl introduces a lot of failings

"(No, I do not know why 44.1 rather than 44.8 or some other number)"

Simple: it's mathematically related to BOTH the PAL and NTSC linerates used by u-matic derived digital mastering recorders of the time. More detail than you ever wanted to know at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/44,100_Hz

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Alan Brown
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Re: Vinyl introduces a lot of failings - Laser Turntable

ELP turntables are a nice idea with a lot lacking in the execution.

A stylus melts the vinyl under it as it passes (like an ice skate melts water), resulting in high frequency bits flattening out with each play and dust being pressed into the material - but they tend to ride the same point of the groove (which is where Stereohedrons used to claim an advantage by riding a wider spot).

An old trick for recovering decent sound off rare records was to use a different size stylus to ride a different level of the groove. The laser systems could theoretically read the entire groove and average out dust/gouges, but the ELPs don't and they don't sound particularly good.

FWIW the contact pressure with 1 gram tracking force is several tons per square inch - and one should never leave a stylus sitting in a stationary groove as it melts a little dimple into the groove which results in a "pop" being there forevermore (although most pops are stuff like fly shit sitting on the surface and banging off the sides of the stylus as it rides by)

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Alan Brown
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Re: Vinyl introduces a lot of failings

"I've often wondered just how much the "warmth" of vinyl would change if you used a laser "needle" to play? "

A lot of the "warmth of vinyl" is acoustic feedback coupled into the tonearm. If you play a record with the lid up and the volume set high enough it can act as a sounding board and start howl-around.

There are lasertracking turntables but the prices are extremely high and they're not particularly reliable. Some wags have scanned LPs at 1000dpi and claimed to be able to decode stereo audio from the resulting image.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Vinyl introduces a lot of failings

" the length was due to the VP of Sony arbritarily setting the length of a CD to 74 minutes because that was the length of a specific version of Beethoven's 9th Symphony - although Philips seem to imply that may be urban legend"

Well it was certainly true that Sony drove the length (CDs were to be originally 60 min) and the size "Must fit in a (Japanese) shirt pocket"

Given that the first big market for CDs was classical music there's a lot of milage in them deciding that the longest common piece should play in its entirety without changing discs.

The dataset could have been _much_ smaller if the samples were defined as deltas rather than absolutes but the processing technology of the time simply wasn't up to it (original preproduction demonstrations used several racks of equipment and had noticeable artifacts in the playback)

I can still remember playing my first CD purchase in 1984 (Dire Straits "Making Movies") and nearly blowing the cones off a pair of Kef C60s when the guitar solo kicked in at the start of "Tunnel of Love" I instantly fell in love, because despite what the naysayers were putting about, the sound was clean and clear and lacking all that dust crackle + tracking distortion (no tonearm _ever_ tracks a groove tangentially from leadin to leadout) everyoine was used to. It wasn't so much listening to a recording as sitting in the studio whilst they were making it. (Many other discs since were badly made and sounded awful).

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Rosetta probot drilling DENIED: Philae has its 'LEG in the AIR'

Alan Brown
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"The ESA has a significant but small budget compared to NASA."

And NASA's budget is smaller than the amount the US military spent on air conditioning in Iraq.

The amazing thing about space exploration is that so much gets achieved on so little budget.

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Alan Brown
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"the practical difficulties with coping with tiny amounts of gravity should certainly give any asteroid hunters food for thought"

There's already been one asteroid landing. Unfortunately it was too late to inform philae development and it didn't have legs or perform sampling, so stability wasn't a consideration (it was flown on using ion engines)

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Alan Brown
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"It will be a great shame if after 10 years and 6 billion kilometres it only gets to party on the comet for 64 hours."

Huygens (the Titan probe) got less than 64 minutes before it froze to death.

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Elon Musk and ex-Google man mull flinging 700 internet satellites into orbit

Alan Brown
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Re: isn't there enough shrapnel orbiting this ball?

It doesn't need to be a "chute". A simple ribbon would be enough and have a nice effect of exponentially slowing the things down.

Then again an ion drive would have much the same effect and is a lot more compact.

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Printing Bad: Meth found in laser printer cartridges

Alan Brown
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Re: This doesn't make sense..

"Every time the regulatory bodies declare the current variety a control substance, it gets modified - "

Only in jurisdictions which legislate specific chemical combinations and don't have a "XYZ family" definition too.

The only reason this stuff is happening at all is simple: Profit.

Production costs are very low and sale prices are very high so no amount of interdiction will stem the trade. Paradoxically, the more interdiction that occurs, the more profit can be made. At some point this results in people pushing crack to schoolkids because they can make a few bucks by doing so, regardless of the possible consequences. It's interesting to note that Cannabis use amongst teenagers in Colorado has substantially decreased with legalisation, because it's a now a lot harder for them to obtain and it looks like the same thing is occuring in other areas where it's been legalised.

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Eye laser surgery campaigner burned by Facebook takedown

Alan Brown
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"Since https://www.facebook.com/OpticalExpressRuinedMyLife is reachable right now"

It's not from my facebook login - and a search on the name says "no such page"

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Alan Brown
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Re: Surprised nobody's mentioned

> If I say to you "You are a murderer" you can't sue me.

If you say it loudly in a public space or in front of a number of witnesses, then you can be sued.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Depends on perspective

"if a grumpy moderator doesn't like you then tough."

Under US law in particular, once a moderator gets involved the company is liable for what it misses (Cubby vs Compuserve, Stratton Oakmont, Inc. v. Prodigy Services Co. ) - although there's a safe harbour provision written into the 1996 CDA

It's becoming _extremely_ common to have gripe pages taken down by making bogus "copyright infringement" claims. At some point there's going to be a reckoning - making a false DMCA complaint is a criminal offence but for some reason noone's ever been prosecuted for it.(*)

(*) DMCA complaints are the way these are usually taken down, even if all parties involved are outside the USA. There's a legislated dispute procedure but Facebook and Google don't bother with them.

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Virgin 'spaceship' pilot 'UNLOCKED tailbooms' going through SOUND BARRIER

Alan Brown
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Re: Why are these guys even in charge?

"The Comet, being a jet aircraft and sporting hydraulic controls, flew differently; perhaps the biggest problem a pilot faced was over-rotation on takeoff."

That, and the issues raised by hot-and-high airfields on low-chord wings wasn't fully appreciated by designers of the era. Reliable takeoff speed was around 20 knots higher at Karachi than at Heathrow as a f'instance, but the manuals didn't reflect that information until there was at least one runway overrun.

It's lessons specifically learned from those kinds of incidents which make aviation as safe as it is today and are the reason modern jetliners can extend such massive acreage of flaps/slots for extra lift at low speeds. (~30% extra wing area in the case of a 747)

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Alan Brown
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Re: Over-Speed lock

"The tail feathering is designed to operate at ludicrous speed,"

Mach 1 in thin air is going to have vastly higher aerodynamic pressures than mach 1.5 in "virtually no air at all" (At that altitude, the whole concept of "mach" is nebulous anyway. Sound doesn't travel because molecules aren't close enough to interact, so how does it have a speed?)

The question is why the feathering mechanism was unlocked _at all_ whilst thrust was still active. There's plenty of time to feather whilst the craft is travelling ballistically upwards after the rocket cuts out, so unlocking early makes no sense whatsoever as a procedural step.

I do have faith that the NTSB will get to the bottom of the problem and its root causes - as others have said the real issue isn't that "the tail feathered under thrust", it's how it happened and how designs allowed it to happen which are of more interest.

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Why Comrade Cameron went all Russell Brand on the UK’s mobile networks

Alan Brown
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Meh

"No.10’s preferred solution isn’t better infrastructure, but giving consumers the ability to roam from network to network. "

Not going to help much if there's no signal to roam to. They do tend to co-site their antennas so coverage maps are very similar and that 20% of the landmass without coverage will still stay without coverage.

One of the more irritating things about the current setup is that you can't get a multinetwork femto/micro cell setup. To cover all the networks you have to get at least 3 sets. (EE/O2/Voda), which substantially increases setup costs.

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