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* Posts by Alan Brown

2567 posts • joined 8 Feb 2008

FBI: We found US MILITARY AIRCRAFT INTEL during raid on alleged Chinese hacker

Alan Brown
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Re: Good luck with that F35

The F22 is supposed to be the capable fighting system which suppresses enemy airpower.

The F35 is supposed to be the cheap swiss army knife which acts as followup and finishes off the stuff on the ground, etc etc

Except it isn't and it won't - and for the stated mission profile it certainly doesn't need stealth.

If it ever goes up against moderately capable opponents flying F15s (or even A4s) the F35 will LOSE.

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Kiwi Rocket Lab to build SUPER-CHEAP sat launchers (anyone know 30 rocket scientists?)

Alan Brown
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Brain Drain

The reason New Zealand has one, is that the envionment there is hostile to new ventures. In particular there are no taxation breaks for R&D and the telecommunications environment is expensive thanks to 30 years of monopolistic abuse by the incumbent telco

The former is why many companies jump across the Tasman (Australia offers 150% rebates on R&D) and the latter is why virtually every attempt the NZ govt has made to encourage establishment of things like call centres in Kiwiland has foundered (the exceptions have mainly been "adult services", which the NZ govt definitely hasn't been encouraging).

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Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network

Alan Brown
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Re: I have to defend the police here...

"I am sure a quick call to the local plod should sort that out."

Yes it would, there are Peeping Tom laws in this country.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Not wanting to defend plod, but

I'm more tempted to offer open, now that the firmware for my AP allows bandwidth restrictions for the guest AP SSID.

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Are you broke? Good with electronics? Build a better AC/DC box, get back in black with $1m

Alan Brown
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Re: disconnect?

"you don't disconnect 450VDC under load using a plug unless you really hate your present eyebrow configuration."

For that matter, you don't disconnect ANY high current DC circuit under load - and it's not just your eyebrows which may suffer. The spray of molten metal will see to that.

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Alan Brown
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Re: No they don't

"The average UK 230V 13A plug will get warm running that for more than a few minutes."

Only if badly wired.

UK 13A sockets are rated to pass 3.2kVA (not kW) and under normal circumstances they won't change temperature if that kind of current is passed through them.

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Alan Brown
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Re: No they don't

"The reason we use AC rather than DC is because it's more efficient to transport over long distance, lossy power lines, and more efficient to step up and down in voltage"

ITYM: It's more efficient to use High Voltage to transport over long distance.

HV AC lines have non-insignificant losses when transported over long distances.

DC is better - the higher the frequency, the higher the losses, but the less iron needed in transformers - which is why aircraft systems are 400Hz and older HV electric train systems used 16Hz (AC has one major advantage over DC - any arcs which might be generated self-extinguish every half cycle)

What is true is that it USED to be more efficient to step up/down using AC, but that hasn't been true for over a decade, and that's been leading to quiet changes in power distribution infrastructure worldwide.

+1 for standardised DC supply voltages, but it has to be borne in mind that DC distribution setups have to be built to deal with and control arcs (this is why switches are usually rated for 20% of the DC current vs their AC rating.).

240V DC distribution used to be common in many industrial areas. It was discontinued because it's unsafe - one anecdote I've heard related was that a blown bulb arced internally, and the arc then ate its way through the bulb base, socket, suspending wire and into the ceiling rose before someone managed to shut the power off.

Personal experience from cutting through a live 48V feed (4mm2 wiring) is that the amount of current which flows is scary (the wiring got hot before the fuse at the other end blew and the arc completely destroyed the wirecutters I was using - the feed was supposed to be dead.). On another occasion I watched a 22mm spanner accidentally dropped between 48V busbars get completely destroyed and the resulting arc almost became self-sustaining.

Lower voltages may be less inclined to arc, but they need higher currents, which in turn means heavier cabling. It's all roundabouts and swings.

+1 also for 48V battery, but higher voltages are better in your storage bank because that translates to lower charge/discharge current (longer life, less droop) and thinner wiring (less voltage drop, lower cost). Electric cars often use 600V - 48V is used in telcos because that's about the highest voltage which is "safe" for dry skin to come in contact with. and using heavier wiring isn't a major problem. Higher voltages are regarded as "mains" for all intents and purposes and usually require electrical qualifications to work on and sign off on.)

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Report: American tech firms charge Britons a thumping nationality tax

Alan Brown
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Re: @cynthb

"Ditto for Australia."

It's even worse for items - such as books/magazines - which are published in the USA but get to Oz/NZ via the UK

They generally arrive 2-4 months after the cover date (bearing in mind that magazines are on sale in the USA 2 months before their cover date) and costing 3 times as much.

The global book publishing copyright/distribution cartels are still in rude health.

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Alan Brown
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Re: I think... Far East manufacture there you have it

"Much cheaper to ship stuff to the States across the Pacific than send it to Europe across the Indian Ocean, around southern Africa and up the eastern Atlantic, less pirates too. Probably shipping larger volume to the States as well."

It's even cheaper+faster to load it onto a train and have it arrive in a marshalling yard in germany 2 weeks later.

The reason we're seeing supercontainer ships on EU runs is largely because it's the only way to bring prices down enough to compete with railfreight - right now thet volumes passing over the EU-russia-china line are modest but they are increasing all the time.

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Alan Brown
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Re: I think...

"I think the interesting point is that we would know precisely how much we were getting ripped off if the grey channel was not considered illegal"

It's explicitly NOT illegal to buy in mainland europe and it's often substantially cheaper even with shipping on top.

I've had a number of UK "exclusive distributors" bluster at me about "You can't do that" and had them go remarkably quiet when I point out that should they try to prevent me (or my employer) from doing so they'd be facing legal action for breaches of the rules regarding the single european market.

IANAL but my opinion is that "exclusive distributors" are probably illegal under EU competition laws.

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ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US

Alan Brown
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Re: Good to know

"So patents only apply in the country where they're taken out."

This has always been the case.

However just because something's been patented in the USA doesn't mean it hasn't ALSO been patented in your local jurisdiction (generally the limit for filing in another country is 12 months after first filing or grant date in any other)

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'iPhone 6' survives FRENZIED STABBING. Truly, it is the JESUS Phone

Alan Brown
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"A real gentleman has his manservant carry his mobile communication apparatus a respectable 10 paces** behind his master."

A real gentleman leaves such things as communications to the lackeys and only deals with other real gentlemen - face to face.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Fantastic!

"Glass is a relatively poor heat conductor"

Silicon dioxide may be, but Sapphire isn't.

One of the problems with metal cases is letting the signal in/out.

Skeleton slot antennas work, but they defeat the asthestics of an unbroken metal surface.

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Alan Brown
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Re: But will it blend?

As soon as the device is released you'll get to see the video.

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Apple orders huge MOUNTAIN of 80 MILLION 'Air' iPhone 6s

Alan Brown
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But if he did, would we go to war over the question of whether he was wearing green socks or blue ones?

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Alan Brown
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Re: Air Jesus?

Shoephone? Are you Maxwell Smart?

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Alan Brown
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Re: As a Moto G user

Rooting is trivial - and most users don't bother with any manufacturer update.

SGS2, running latest/greatest cyanogen.

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Alan Brown
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Re: or the rather more sophisticated gold ..... 5S.

'Well, the the word "sophisticated" was originally meant as an insult, meaning superficial, false, decadent, impure and/or morally corrupted* '

Yup, that pretty much sums it up.

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THUD! WD plonks down SIX TERABYTE 'consumer NAS' fatboy

Alan Brown
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Re: 6TB Red Drive ? Cool, it lasts 3 yrs...

"20 days ago= in a Reg article: New Research - Flash is Dead, it was made apparent that no matter what you use, your data degrades in 3 to 5 years... What to do ? "

Raid, data scrubs, backups.

This isn't new territory.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Red or Black.

Given the price/density of SSDs these days, I wouldn't be surprised if the next generation of Evos are 6Tb for $500

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Alan Brown
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Re: Storage cost

Through the 90s density increases on disk platters exceeded Moore's law by a wide margin.

Since 2001, density increases have been hard-won.

Will _anyone_ (other than the foolish) buy shingled drives? I'd prefer to HAVE shingles.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Are you implying...

"I'm thinking of just saying "fuck it" and upgrading to 10 GigE at home"

You're more well-heeled than most of us then. Even low end 10GbaseT interfaces are £ouch! and switches with more than 1 10Gb SFP+ interface are £ouch!ouch! (let alone ones with 10GbaseT interfaces)

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LG unfurls flexible SEE-THROUGH 18-inch display

Alan Brown
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"This will be convenient when we can have a useful size of screen rolled up in a pocket. "

If anyone remembers TekWar from the 90s, this concept was used for "PDAs" in the series.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Fit inside double glazing windows

Or just turn them into roller blinds. Marty McFly would be very happy.

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We got behind the wheel of a Tesla S electric car. We didn't hate it

Alan Brown
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Re: When all cars are electric and no-one pays fuel tax

"Given roughly £7k to replace the car's batteries every 7-10 years (quote is for a Lexus), I don't see that there is currently an economic argument for purchasing a purely electric car. "

The oldest Priuses are at that point and noone's paying that much for new packs.

1: They're lasting a lot longer than envisaged

and

2: It's far cheaper to replace individual defective cells than an entire pack.

and

3: The batteries are almost 100% recyclable

As a result there's a burgeoning industry in reconditioned battery packs - which are quite cheap on a swapout basis.

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Alan Brown
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Re: domestic power....

"It would seem that once there is a critical mass of chargers (for transit) and sinks (for domestics), the grid will have a reserve capacity not unlike a big dam..."

Yes and no. Overall efficiency of such setups will run around 50%. You'd better have a very cheap source of primary power to make it economic.

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Alan Brown
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Re: This is NOT Top Gear!

"Since when does the Nissan LEAF have an odd quirk about being electric? Other than an unusually-styled shifter knob, how would one even know this car was electric? The i-MiEV has a standard shift knob. It's even less obvious that you're driving an electric car."

Both of these are repurposed IC bodies, not electric-dedicated designs. The Leaf's quirk is that it can press you back into your seat with a surprising amount of force if you floor the pedal. The i-Miev's quirk is that it can't.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Wow. FUD sprayers are *still* at the electric car?

"I'd almost be inclined to put some sort of noise maker on mine if I got one -- I live on one of those little side streets with 100,000 kids that like to play in the street."

I want one which makes the same sound as George Jetson's flying car. The Leaf makes a noise like alternator when on an untuned fm radio - which is just naff (but disableable, unlike creep mode)

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Alan Brown
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Re: On the verge

If you have an all-electric vehicle and think you'll be pushing your range, you can always invest in a $400 honda generator to go in the boot for those one in 1000 events.

For longer trips an electric trailer is probably a decent option, assuming the car can be trained to accept power whilst rolling.

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Alan Brown
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creep mode

"I’ve never really liked the way most electric cars creep like autos."

A new auto box (back in the 70s) wouldn't do that. They only started creeping when things started wearing.

I detest creep, but when test driving a Leaf a few weeks ago it was useful in crawling traffic. I'd still prefer to be able to toggle it off.

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Infected Chinese inventory scanners ships off logistics intel

Alan Brown
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Embedded WindowsXP device

No worries about that then...

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Another Samsung supplier fingered in new 'child labor' probe

Alan Brown
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CLW has been raising a stink in China. Heads have been rolling, but corrupt officials are still a fact of life (Look at what happened at Foxconn last year) and it's a problem which needs chipping away at from all sides.

Large buyers have a LOT of clout, simply by threatening to take their business elsewhere.

In all liklihood, given the scenario posted, Samsung audited between the "rushes" and found things were in order, but haven't conducted any random inspections - scheduled ones give the bad guys time to sweep problems under the rug.

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Computing student jailed after failing to hand over crypto keys

Alan Brown
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Re: Why inflict them on Mars?

Either way, if thet get to venus, they're baked.

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Alan Brown
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Re: A doofus, with weak lawyers, but the law is broken

"This is also what all those US startups developing "NSA proof" email don't seem to get: the technology becomes entirely irrelevant if you can be legally forced to cough up the data in cleartext."

The law as written is the legal equivalent of "beat him with a $5 wrench until he gives you the key"

As others have noted, refusing to disclose the keys could easily be a revolving door - all they have to do is keep demanding the keys the day you're let out of jail.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Silly sod

In some parts of the DoD, his refusal to hand over passwords might well make him more desireable

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Plucky Rockall adventurer prepares to leave islet

Alan Brown
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Re: Brit adventurer?

"You can tie things down as much as you like but if the elements want to rip it away there's very little to stop it"

And it's surprising how high the water can reach. A friend of mine was working halfway up one lighthouse in northern europe (over 100 feet above the water) and got himself (and all his test equipment) soaked by a rogue wave.

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The truth on the Navy carrier debacle? Industry got away with murder

Alan Brown
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Re: Carriers without catapults? Sold out your jump-jets? I have the solution!

"the Hercules could land and takeoff from ANY post-WW II carrier with so-many-feet of flat deck on it. The only real hazard was the tip of the wings would come REALLY close to the upper structure."

I've seen the footage. It's quite scary - and they had to clear the entire deck, which is a significant operation all by itself.

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Alan Brown
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Re: T34, IS2 vs Tiger any Panter any

"but in the mud and dust of Belarus and the east German plain they looked good in the German cinemas but failed consistently. Mechanical breakdowns, way to expensive to make and almost impossible to repair in the field."

What stopped most Tigers wasn't direct enemy action, but their prodgious fuel consumption.

Tankers are seldom armoured, but if they don't make it to the heavy armour, the heavy armour isn't going to travel far.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Chocolate Teapot

"The RN's most effective anti-ship weapon is a submarine; we miraculously actually have some quite capable of dealing with the kind of gunboat you describe."

Only of use if they're in the area at the right time.

Sinking the gunboat AFTER it managed to sink a Type45 might make you feel good but it doesn't get the Type45 back above the waterline.

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10Gbps over crumbling COPPER: Boffins cram bits down telco wire

Alan Brown
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Re: Dumb concept - stop being lazy and just run the fiber to the home

"Oh and by the way, recently fibre was being rolled out to Melbourne consumers by tacking it onto the existing electrical poles. They were blocked by the citizens and local councils as being unaesthetic."

One town I lived in had everything underground as a result of a 30 year program (It was cheaper overall than the maintenance of above ground infrastructure and dealing with the inevitable "car vs pole" stuff which happens.)

Along came a cable company which sued the city council for access to string cables between lighting poles - the emphasis being on the first part of that name. The poles simply weren't strong enough to handle the weight of cable and they'd been told so, but tried to force their way in anyway.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Bell Labs GaAs modem from 1960s

"yes they failed pretty quickly"

Because the insulation failed. This was finally cracked by the Gutta-Percha rubber company, which 150 years later is known as Cable and WIreless.

So it wasn't just Nokia who got started selling rubber products.

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Alan Brown
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Re: not round here

"But completely ripping and replacing all the copper is hideously expensive, which is why firms will pay for such tech as a fudge. "

The endpoint gear for this kind of shenanigan is more expensive that replacing with fibre but that's a cost which can be charged to the customer immediately, vs recovering it over 20 years.

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Alan Brown
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Re: not round here

"This is despite unplugging everything from the master socket and still hearing crackling and popping on the line."

Your voice circuit is still copper all the way back to the exchange. Most likely when the circuit was rejumpered it was done badly. I'd raise merry hell about it.

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Alan Brown
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Re: not round here

Regarding dig-your-own (commercial rollouts)

The moment you announce it, BT will suddenly decide that DSL is viable - which in turn will lock any EU funding which was acquired to make it possible.

BT will then take their sweet time in actually providing the service (2-4 years is common) and at a significantly worse level than originally announced.

They've done it a number of times. Ofcom aren't interested.

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Alan Brown
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Re: not round here

Not just aluminium cable.

BT have told ofcom that there is no paper-insulated cable in their network.

Ofcom have repeatedly rejected mountaions of evidence to the contrary, even taking into account BT's absurd claim that "In their network" means up to the local distribution cabinets, not to the customer premises termination.

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What's that burning tire smell? It's Microsoft screeching away from the No-IP car crash

Alan Brown
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Re: 4 million small-claims damage suits.

Class action is not allowed in a significant number of countries - and in most which do allow it, small claims actions can't be pulled into a class action by the respondant.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Did it ever cross anyone's mind in Redmond...

If you have proof of that I know some people who would make things difficult for cloudflare.

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Alan Brown
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Re: If only...

"I think you, and every other user of the service should take Microsoft to small-claims court."

Tortuious interference with contract?

It might fly - IF you were a paying customer.

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Say goodbye to the noughties: Yesterday’s hi-fi biz is BUSTED, bro

Alan Brown
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Re: "If you want to listen to great-sounding music"

"There is a problem with that - concert halls with good acoustics are few and far between."

Good musicians adjust their performance to cater for the poor acoustics. I know because I've watched (listened to) them do it.

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Alan Brown
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Re: hi-res audio bullshit

" As has been discussed in these pages previously, the science *proves* that as a *playback* format 16 bit 44.1kHz can't be improved upon. "Hi-res" audio belongs solely in the studio, not in the home."

Nyquist theorum is good for reresenting analogue signals, but if phase representation is critical then it has problems above a single n/4 stage (which would put the cutoff at 11kHz)

After a few stages of that, phasing can become rather bothersome. 16bit 44.1kHz is (mostly) good as an end-format(*) but not for recording/mixing, etc.

(*) The encoding system on CDs is hugely inefficient, but that's a result of its 40-year-old design heritage. Having said that there were simple compression algorihms available even in 1980 which would have worked on the available hardware.

There's a shedload of wanking on about how XYZ amp or preamp sounds better than ABC, but what makes more difference than everything else put together is the quality of the speakers. When "acceptable" speakers have 30-40% Total Harmonic Distortion and "Good" ones still have 10%, every other distortion of the original signal introduced along the chain is of virtually no consequence.

I like LPs for their sound but I have no illusions that they're "hi fidelity", given the amount of preprocessing that has to go into the chain in order to get any kind of acceptable output, plus there's the small matter of variable distortion across the record introduced by the changing angle of the tonearm to the record as it tracks which can only be eliminated with a linear slider (most implementations of which are utter crap) or a 2 metre long tonearm - which would introduce its own sets of problems by acting as a sounding board for any audio source in the room. It's bad enough keeping most setups acoustically under control at highish listening volumes - speaker vibrations do feed back into the tonearm unless they are in seperate _well_isolated_ rooms

Phase reproduction is more important than people give credit for, but every aspect of speaker design is a compromise - and besides - at the end of the day, the human ear is vastly non-linear and there's a surprisingly large amount of processing going on between the ears that allows suboptimal noise to be interpreted as music. I've only ever heard a couple of systems which I could honestly describe as "just like being there", even in high end studios, but I've heard a lot of systems which are good enough to listen to most music on and a lot more which are "good enough for background burble".

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