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* Posts by Neil Barnes

1816 posts • joined 18 Apr 2007

Canberra drone team dances a samba in Outback Challenge

Neil Barnes
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Facepalm

So there I was, lost in the outback

And some rotter dropped a bottle of water on my head!

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Atlas plugged: Facebook hooks ads to profiles, smears 'em over the web

Neil Barnes
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Devil

But... but... but...

People like adverts! They love being shown adverts for things they've just bought, things they've once looked at, things they happened to see in passing, no? They love having their screen estate eaten and their eyes and ears assaulted and their bandwidth eaten!

Don't they?

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WHY did Sunday Mirror stoop to slurping selfies for smut sting?

Neil Barnes
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Joke

But under the new copyright rules

Wouldn't this count as using a previous work for purposes of parody?

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How the FLAC do I tell MP3s from lossless audio?

Neil Barnes
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Re: One thing which hasn't been mentioned re MP3 encoding

Depends of course on the bit rate... but (some!) high bit-rate coders are pretty bloody good.

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Neil Barnes
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Boffin

One thing which hasn't been mentioned re MP3 encoding

Is that it chops the sound into 24ms (from memory) chunks and performs a fourier transform to move the information from the time domain to the frequency domain. Within that frequency domain it's easy to filter and/or scale the frequencies you don't have bit rate to transmit, and to remove completely those parts which the perceptual encoding model selected claims cannot be heard.

When you replay it, the reverse occurs, and the remaining data is converted back into time domain (I've omitted details of other compression coding on the data itself as it's not relevant) and replayed. Two things have happened now: you've lost what the coder thinks you can't hear, or had it reduced in precision, and you've lost the phase information in the original signal, which may or may not be significant. The theory is that the human hear can't hear phase information; I'm not so sure, but...

A second point is that the mp3 standards *do not* define the codec. They specify that a datastream like *this* shall produce and output *thus*, but they don't say how you get to the datastream. Different codecs make different decisions on the perceptual coding models; some are audibly different with the same algorithm on floating point or integer processors - particularly at low bit rates. It's likely that similar effects pertain on the decoder.

Third point: the DAC on a phone or laptop is unlikely to be anything other than the cheapest the maker could get away with. A high noise floor, less than stable clock, cheap filters (apropos of which, many sound cards (in days of old - I don't know if this is still true) used switched capacitor filters for antialiasing, driven from the sample frequency. An excellent idea - things track automatically. But I came across some cards which also had a high pass filter at the bottom end to stop LF noise; some of those cut off at 300Hz or higher for 44.1k sampling).

Assuming for the sake of argument that FLAC/ALAC is truly lossless - that the bit pattern going in is exactly the same as the bit pattern going out, then the way to test the comparison would actually be to ignore the FLAC coded signal completely and find something clean in 16 bit audio - say a CD rip done with a good CD, ideally not one that's compressed to death as so many are - and get it in a WAV PCM file. Use that file with the codec of your choice to create an MP3 file at the bitrate of your choice; decode that using the decoder of your choice to another WAV PCM file.

Now play the two WAV files. If you can hear a difference, there is one; if you can't, it doesn't matter. The ADC doesn't matter *if that's what you normally listen through* since it affects both WAV files the same way. For completeness, FLAC encode and decode and listen to that, with the same logic.

If you really want to get silly, use an audio editing file like Audacity to subtract the two files (you'll have to delay the WAV file a little to get the timing right) and see how much signal is left. That's what the codec thinks you can't hear.

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Neil Barnes
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Re: Digital Clone - billat29

The hole in the track was part of the setup of professional (broadcast) CD players to ensure they maintained tracking across damage - there was a test CD with a series of increasingly sized holes to set up the servos. There was never any intention on a CD that the data should survive such damage, merely that you woul<tick>you woul<tick>you woul<tick>you woul<tick>you woul<tick>dn't get stuck in the 'groove'.

From memory - it's been a long time, (bloody hell, thirty years!) - the CD first tries for error recovery/correction from the parity/interleave, then tries interpolation of the signal for the duration of an error, then momentarily mutes (or holds the DC level) and only then gives up in disgust.

For what it's worth, the CD audio data is self-clocked, but uses a constant radial velocity drive to ensure the bit rate is approximately constant throughout. The bit encoding uses eight bits of thirteen (so a lot of wasted bits) to ensure sufficient transitions exist even on silence to clock the output.

Had memory been cheaper when the CD was invented, it might have been that reclocking the data - through a first in-first out memory buffer - would have been used; it would have made a noticeable difference to the audio output.

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Neil Barnes
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Mushroom

Re: The Cat Test

Re the BBC sound effects library - it turns out that if you hang some big speakers out of the window of, say, Bush House, with some decent amps behind them, and play the jet aircraft strafing and bombing tracks at high volume, people dive for cover...

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CURSE YOU, 'streaming' music services! I want a bloody CD

Neil Barnes
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I am the Luddite.

I buy my music on CDs, and rip for occasional use in the car.

No other use case for me.

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Turn OFF your phone or WE'LL ALL DI... live? Europe OKs mobes, tabs non-stop on flights

Neil Barnes
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Re: Will you be sitting in...

Sitting *on*.

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Stanford Uni: Google cash leaves us entirely impartial and unbiased

Neil Barnes
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the general public receives the benefits of its academic research

By not being allowed to see the papers generated by research paid for by their money - after all, they're not qualified, now are they? Wouldn't want to worry their pretty little heads with all these boring details...

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Neil Barnes
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funding is specifically designated not be used...

Surely the whole point of money is that it's fungible? Once it's all stirred up in the pot, you can't tell one dollar from another.

Or are they saying 'if the only money we have is from *them*, we won't use it for *this*'?

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Supercapacitors have the power to save you from data loss

Neil Barnes
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Er, no, automating 'soldering iron' soldering is not as far as I know practicable. Flow soldering requires the entire circuit board and all its components to be raised in temperature until the solder flows - said solder being placed on the board in precise amounts as required, and the temperature profile is set so that everything reaches the proper temperatures at the same time, give or take.

Doing it with a soldering iron means that the component is subject only to the heat transferred from the leads (or tabs, or whatever) while the joint is being made - a few seconds rather than a few minutes, and with much less energy transfer.

<edit - posted as you did yours, Trevor; it's a response to the first post, not yours!>

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MOM: CHEAP Mars ship got it right first time. Nice one, India

Neil Barnes
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Re: Congrats

Fifteen kilo payload... hmm... I'm sure they could have squeezed a paper aeroplane in there somewhere...

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US team claims PARIS paper plane launch crown

Neil Barnes
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Re: /me

I worked out the acceleration and terminal velocity for the launch some time ago. Lester asked me not to say, but let's just say that the launch could be, um, stressful.

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Neil Barnes
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/me

starts wondering if we can incorporate another plane on Lohan...

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THE DEATH OF ECONOMICS: Aircraft design vs flat-lining financial models

Neil Barnes
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Re: The Mission of Banks is to Cause Debt!

But that's exactly my point: I'm not asking you to lend me fifty grand unsecured; in a mortgage the debt is theoretically secured by the property. Your duty as the lender is to decide what the risk of my not paying you back is and to charge accordingly; if I fail to pay you get the house and that plus the overpayment should cover your costs - if you calculated the risk properly.

But instead, you lend me more than the house is worth, er, currently valued at, on the assumption that the price will rise over time, instead of restricting the loan to a sane value - the value at which you could dump the house on the open market and expect it to sell with some speed. That protects both your investment and my sanity.

In days of old, we had repayment mortgages: you took out a loan and every month you paid back a proportion of the capital plus interest; every now and then (depending on the lender) interest was added to the capital. It took some time to get to the stage where you're paying more of the capital than interest, but things were considered a long-term loan.

Now we have 'products' where you can be loaned ridiculous multiples of your salary for a mortgage worth more than the house; we have mortgages which repay only the interest and leave you with the entire original loan to repay at the end of the term. How can this ever end well?

Of course, the primary reason for houses appreciating is that they're considered an investment vehicle, instead of a machine to keep the rain off. Perhaps there's a way of persuading people that the latter is the correct viewpoint? We could start by shooting all the estate agents, and anyone who makes, appears on, or broadcasts a property/house show on the telly.

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Neil Barnes
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Re: The Mission of Banks is to Cause Debt!

Speaking from the UK, the US way is the way it *should* be done: when the bank lends me the money to purchase a house, it should be evaluating the risk of me failing to repay the loan. That risk (averaged over a number of purchasers), plus a bit of profit, should be the interest on the loan.

If for whatever reason I am unable to repay, and cannot negotiate alternative terms, then the house should revert to the bank but that should be the end of it. If they make a loss at that point, then the bank didn't get its risk calculations correct. It should probably have charged more interest, which would have reduced the price of the house I could afford, or it should have required me to put more cash up front to start with, which would have had the same effect.

But that would act to stop houses increasing so quickly in 'value', and that would never do, would it?

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Oh God the RUBBER on my SHAFT has gone wrong and is STICKING to things

Neil Barnes
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Re: Am I seeing the glimmerings of a business opportunity here?

Thee and me both. There are too many new materials around whose immediate properties are wonderful, but whose longevity is at best suspicious.

There's a reason pencils are made from cedar wood, and plenty of reasons why styli could be.

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Neil Barnes
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Go

Am I seeing the glimmerings of a business opportunity here?

Handcrafted eco-friendly earth-mother stylus casings made from pure wood...

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ISPs' post-net-neutrality world is built on 'bribes' says Tim Berners-Lee

Neil Barnes
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Re: What costs, is capacity and content.

That's the issue. The Telegraph is just another example... their business model requires them to bundle adverts (well, newspapers and magazines[1] have *always* been about selling those blank spaces in between the stories).

My usage model does not require me to see those adverts... so I don't, thereby saving bandwidth and sanity. Find me something worth paying for, and I'll pay for it (I do, for a couple of sites) but until then do not assume that you have any implicit contract with me that requires me to watch the adverts.

[1] Although I find myself fascinated with old photographic magazines - Amateur Photographer from a hundred years or so ago, simply for the references as to what was available for sale at the time.

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Neil Barnes
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Re: What costs, is capacity and content.

It's an interesting dichotomy: *I* pay my ISP to provide so many megabits of data to wherever, without specifying a destination. I expect my ISP to negotiate, supply, and maintain that bandwidth irrespective of my use of it (with due regard to terms and conditions - that's their negotiation with me).

What seems to be happening is that major data suppliers - the youtubes and netflix of this world - whose business model relies on *me* watching the adverts that they are paid for, want me to pay to see the advertising... I'd happily pay for a service without adverts, but while the entire world is wedded to this bizarre business model it seems we're stuck.

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Alien condoms. Stuck to the wall. That's entirely normal, y'know

Neil Barnes
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Childcatcher

Gloo...

I'm over six feet, but I'd have difficulty using that top row...

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Getting to the BOTTOM of the great office seating debate

Neil Barnes
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All very 'pretty'

But what are those chairs like to *sit* in - given that I spend a third of my life with my arse parked at a desk, I want a decent chair to park it in...

When I was a project manager, one thing that was always ignored was office seating. Fifty bucks a seat if we were lucky. I howled to spend more on decent seats and was always knocked back, even when I pointed out that one or two days lost to backache would have paid for the chair. Inevitably we returned a few months later to get some better chairs in...

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TOR users become FBI's No.1 hacking target after legal power grab

Neil Barnes
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Black Helicopters

And here we go again...

Using encryption labels you as a criminal.

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SCREW YOU, Russia! NASA lobs $6.8bn at Boeing AND SpaceX to run space station taxis

Neil Barnes
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SpaceX's cheaper Dragon capsule has room for seven

Nice picture, but who's driving this thing? Where's the bloody steering wheel?

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Drones CAN'T deliver goods ... oh. Air traffic control system backed by NASA, you say?

Neil Barnes
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Black Helicopters

cloud capability for controlling drones in an airspace

Instrument rated, then - none of this VFR rubbish for these guys!

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Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen

Neil Barnes
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Re: They need Neil Armstrong

The thing about landings is that you should endevour to have the same number as you have takeoffs.

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Neil Barnes
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Pirate

anchoring itself in place with harpoons

"Aaar, thar she blows, Cap'n Ahab, the Great White Comet!"

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Apple CEO Tim Cook: TV is TERRIBLE and stuck in the 1970s

Neil Barnes
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Re: I was there too

Couple of years younger than you, Mike, and in the UK - but I worked as an engineer and project manager in the BBC for thirty-odd years, all around the world.

I still maintain that there is enough talent in the UK to almost fill three, maybe four channels. The rest is crap, repeats, and recycled shows - it's depressing how often the same show is franchised to other broadcasters.

Meh.

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Neil Barnes
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Re: Some things so need reinventing

Well, if you're so smart, *you* tell us what colour it should be.

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Neil Barnes
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Surely the function of a TV is to show pictures

It needs a very simple interface: button to turn it on (with a rotary bit to set the volume), row of buttons to select a channel, and, er, that's it.

Once you've started watching there is absolutely no need for any sort of interface that doesn't use your eyes and your ears. Remove controls with a zillion functions; delayed recording; film rental; on screen menus... not part of the requirement. They're fripperies that we've come to expect and of course they're rubbish; they're unnecessary.

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Every billionaire needs a PANZER TANK, right? STOP THERE, Paul Allen

Neil Barnes
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It's *got* a big engine.

What it's lacking is wings.

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LOHAN tin-rattles to a whopping £27,000 on Kickstarter

Neil Barnes
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Coat

Make that 561, Lester

Finally got my finger out to make a pledge... I want a patch for my flying suit. I promise a picture...

---> Flying suit, obviously.

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NORKS ban Wi-Fi and satellite internet at embassies

Neil Barnes
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Black Helicopters

Personae no gratae

Pinging 8.8.8.8 with 32 bytes of data:

Reply from 8.8.8.8: bytes=32 time=21ms TTL=42

Reply from 8.8.8.8: bytes=32 time=21ms TTL=42

Reply from 8.8.8.8: bytes=32 time=22ms TTL=42

Reply from 8.8.8.8: PNG

Reply from 8.8.8.8: PNG

Reply from 8.8.8.8: PNG

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Leak of '5 MEELLLION Gmail passwords' creates security flap

Neil Barnes
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Logged into gmail for the first time in a year

And found nothing other than offers for pizza, different pizza, and for some reason I don't understand, tea.

Changed the password anyway.

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Microsoft introduces text search … for videos!

Neil Barnes
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This looks remarkably like

something I saw demonstrated at IBC, maybe ten years ago: a self-indexing content aggregation system that indexed metadata and audio from bulk video stores. I don't recall how good its speech-to-text was, but I believe it read subtitles too if they were present in the video stream, which would have probably been a lot more accurate.

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Finally, a USEFUL smart device: Intel boffins cook up gyro-magneto-'puter bike helmet

Neil Barnes
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Re: Meh, like with most fanciful undergrad projects, they've not thought this one through...

No, I work in the other direction. Three miles underground on the end of a deep drill string is a horrible environment.

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Neil Barnes
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Re: Meh, like with most fanciful undergrad projects, they've not thought this one through...

No reason why, if competently designed. I build stuff that takes 10,000g accelerations. With lithium batteries, too.

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Neil Barnes
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Re: The impact detection could be useful

In the UK radio is not often used for other than gossip between flyers (many of the radios are illegally used and discipline is poor; the number who have the training and certification to use an air-band radio and can thus talk to ATC are vanishingly small).

I'm up there for peace and quiet; for the same reason I don't fly with a lawn-mower engine strapped to my back.

Others no doubt have different views.

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Neil Barnes
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Re: Solution in search of a problem

Except that it looks likely to be delayed. In particular, the UK government isn't happy.

I'm not sure I am, either - yet another bit of tech over which I have no control. Meh.

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Neil Barnes
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The impact detection could be useful

I fly paragliders. The last time I hit the ground hard there were people around, and just as well or I wouldn't be.

Don't want the music and calls, though, nor the requirement to talk to a mobile; the comms should be built in.

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IT jargon is absolutely REAMED with sexual double-entendres

Neil Barnes
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Re: So, your wife is a linguist?

She's been to Croydon.

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Boffins hunch over steaming cups of coffee to find HIDDEN SECRETS of caffeine

Neil Barnes
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Boffin

All that information, and yet strangely,

They never mentioned that you can also use caffiene to develop silver nitrate photography!

(Search 'caffenol').

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Alien Ninja Fembot Pirates vs the Jedi SAS Chuck Norris startroopers: RUMBLE

Neil Barnes
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Re: Special Circumstances?

Or an Orbital. Kinda hard to argue with an Orbital, though they do have vulnerabilities.

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Video: Dyson unveils ROBOTIC TANK that hoovers while you're out

Neil Barnes
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Boffin

Is it...

less than 1600W?

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Crack team weighs LOHAN's substantial box

Neil Barnes
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Re: "Seven" and "one"

Unfortunately, despite being Brazilian, she's of German descent...

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Neil Barnes
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"Seven" and "one"

Works in my house, too, Lester!

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Sex is great in books, lousy in apps, says Apple

Neil Barnes
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Headmaster

"We view Apps different than books or songs"

Perhaps they meant "We view Apps differently from books or songs"?

That Noah Webster has a lot for which to answer.

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Our Vulture 2 rocket spaceplane crammed with MORE POWER

Neil Barnes
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Actually, on a slightly more serious note

High G testing - you might want to tie a piece of string to the back end of this wee bolide and swing it around your head rather quickly, to simulate the launch forces.

Edit - the *front end* - the back will simulate the motor cutoff, but that will be a lower acceleration.

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Neil Barnes
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Coat

Just in case no-one's mentioned it, Lester

You might want to solder the batteries in!

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