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* Posts by Neil Barnes

1942 posts • joined 18 Apr 2007

ESA's spaceplane cleared for lift-off in February 2015

Neil Barnes
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"land on conventional runways"

Presumably it can already do that.

The question is whether it can be used again afterwards. And also, indeed, the runway...

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Androids in celluloid – which machine deserves the ULTIMATE MOVIE ROBOT title?

Neil Barnes
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Re: I voted for Gort

If one reads the book, that was explicitly the case - though not revealed until the last page.

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Neil Barnes
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Re: Marvin - Remember it's film version, not the book, radio or TV version

16mm, Keef - 8mm was looked upon with horror as a pale domestic thing unable to meet broadcast quality requirements (yes, we had them, a long time ago.)

HHGTTG had the titles and effects filmed, in particular the book animations. I don't recall whether the shot scenes were studio (and therefore electronic) but the exterior stuff was almost certainly 16mm.

I'd ask around, but I've lost the contacts these days...

(Since the only possible icon would be a painful diode, and there isn't one, I shan't attach one.)

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'Snoopers' Charter IS DEAD', Lib Dems claim as party waves through IP address-matching

Neil Barnes
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There have been a number of terrorist actions *claimed* to have been stopped. Oddly enough we never find out what they were.

I can't recall a single instance where someone has made use of an IP address to prove a case.

I'm not sure which would be most damaging to May's case: either 'we haven't actually had any cases like this' or 'yes, we've had seven hundred and forty in the last week, and this is the list...'

Once again: there is exactly *no* need for terrorist-specific laws. Everything a terrorist does is covered by existing law, and the terrorist-specific laws are designed to avoid little inconveniences like evidence, oversight, and a jury of one's peers. We have this odd convention in this country: you're not guilty until *after* the trial at which you are found guilty.

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Post-pub nosh neckfiller: Bryndzové halušky

Neil Barnes
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WTF?

Re: gnocchi??

My local 'vaguely eastern European' supermarket offers various things vacuum packed things - though not, as far as I have been able to ascertain - this, charmingly described as 'semi-prepared food product edible after heat treatment'.

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Bada-Bing! Mozilla flips Firefox to YAHOO! for search

Neil Barnes
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The first thing I do with a new browser installation

is kill the associated search, whatever it was.

If I want to search, I'll select the engine explicitly, each time, thanks.

(But then, I am an ancient Luddite who believes applications should be separate, simple, and explicit.)

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Boffins train robots to pull apart LCD screens – without breaking them

Neil Barnes
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Number Five is alive!

No disassemble!

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USB coding anarchy: Consider all sticks licked

Neil Barnes
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MS already have this patch...

Half the time when you plug in an FTDI serial port adaptor, it tells you it's a ballpoint mouse...

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Pics in SPAAAACE!: Hasselblad sells for $275,000

Neil Barnes
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Alien

And they said

Silver photography was dead!

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You really need to do some tech support for Aunty Agnes

Neil Barnes
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Re: What are the infection rates for desktop linux users?

Now what was the need to answer a straightforward question with abuse and contumely?

I'm sure my octagenerian parents or the bloke that fixes my car (hi Joe) would disagree with your categorisation.

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'Open source just means big companies can steal your code.' O RLY?

Neil Barnes
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Mushroom

Used to work with one of the robot wars competitors

Occasionally he'd bring one into work. It put the floor loading limit at some risk...

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BOFH: An UNHOLY MATCH forged amid the sweet smell of bullsh*t

Neil Barnes
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Subtle...

"Would you marry me?" instead of "Will you..."

Subjunctive mood; condition contrary to fact. It ain't gonna happen...

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Could YOU identify these 10 cool vintage mobile phones?

Neil Barnes
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Re: Vintage?

When I was a wee lad working in Shepherd's Bush in the late seventies, a friend and I car-shared and used often to meet the same Jag under the Westway flyover.

This was in the days when you had to book calls to a mobile phone, and the technology took up half the boot. Mr Jag made a point whenever he was stopped at the lights of holding the phone to his face.

One fine night we arranged to have a handset with curly wire and lead ends. We pulled up alongside him at the lights, my friend holding the phone as if speaking. Mr Jag looked at as a bit annoyed... until my mate dropped his window, tapped on the window of the Jag, said 'it's for you' and handed the handset over.

We then booted it across the lights, leaving Mr Jag sitting there with a phone in each hand and a rather confused look on his face.

We saw him after that, but never with a phone in his hand!

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Neil Barnes
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I don't think I knew any - is that good or bad?

But then, I think I've only owned two, maybe three phones in the last ten years and a couple of work-supplied ones before that.

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The Lambda that ROARED: Amazon unveils event-driven AWS compute service

Neil Barnes
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Brute force attacks

just got easier...

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Welcome to the fast-moving world of flash connectors

Neil Barnes
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And here's me...

Just trying to get a few hundred meg of 8-pin flash chips talking to me...

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BOING, BOING! Philae BOUNCED TWICE on Comet 67P

Neil Barnes
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Alien

Quiet!

Nobody sneeze!

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

Neil Barnes
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Re: Dear ISPs

Indeed it does. But the nice lady who rings me from time to time to try and sell it to me, she offers 60Mbit... it's only when I ask her to look at her own data on the link speed that she goes all quiet.

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Neil Barnes
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Re: Dear ISPs

There, there, there... they keep telling me I can have 60Mbit broadband *in spite* of the fact that I can't get more than 1.5Mbit from the (somewhat ancient and distant) cabinet...

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SUPER-JAMMY Philae comet probe got down WITHOUT harpoons

Neil Barnes
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Re: Yes, yes ...

Well, at least they didn't break the comet!

I read the piece this morning about landing on a rock doing 60km/second as a 'first' and thought, surely, no, the moon? But that's only doing a klick a second relative to earth. Kudos indeed.

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'Yes, yes... YES!' Philae lands on COMET 67P

Neil Barnes
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I am extremely impressed, and I shall be even more so

If it can stay on board and powered for a quick trip to the sauna.

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Neil Barnes
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Pint

Re: Accuracy

With a bullet a few picometers wide...

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Google DoubleClick goes TITSUP. ENJOY your AD-FREE WORLD!

Neil Barnes
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Re: Subscription to the Reg...

El Reg is one of a very few sites for which I'd pay.

Hell, I'd even pay *google* directly, if they got rid of the adverts. Not much, mind, but I'd pay. (Because I want a search engine to search without fear and favour, not to deliver what someone has paid them to deliver.)

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My HOUSE used to be a PUB: How to save the UK high street

Neil Barnes
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Re: Is there room for workshops and small businesses?

Indeed. There are apparently only *two* companies in Hertfordshire who do watch maintenance and repair on the premises (the remainder,mostly chains, send them away to $DEITY$ knows where).

I want to support local people (to the extent of refusing to use automated checkouts); I want to support skills and training and learning; I want to mend rather than replace where possible - but it's an uphill struggle!

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WATCH Rosetta's Philae's SUCCESSFUL drop on Comet 67P

Neil Barnes
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Thumb Up

Just one thing, guys -

Try not to break it, right?

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Amazon bags control of .book and .pay domains – but NOT .cloud

Neil Barnes
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Commercially valuable?

To ICANN, perhaps; to someone visiting my site (and therefore to me)? What does he care? Given that the average user will cheerfully attempt to log on to his bank account @russian.spammer.com, as the nice friendly email told him to, what's the point?

By the way - what will a browser autocomplete to now?

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Firefox decade: Microsoft's IE humbled by a dogged upstart. Native next?

Neil Barnes
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Meh

Re: Browsers make for impoverished interfaces

Not an area I have huge experience or expertise in - but isn't the USP of the web application that everything happens in the cloud? And that browser applications shouldn't touch your local storage?

For my use cases, that would be broken-by-design. I am not a friend of the cloud.

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'Tech giants who encrypt comms are unwittingly aiding terrorists', claims ex-Home Sec Blunkett

Neil Barnes
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Re: "they don't trust their own citizens"

<ach> *their* citizens, damnit! Too many abbreviated 'are's.

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Neil Barnes
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"they don't trust their own citizens"

We're not they're citizens. They're our government.

It's just that they (and often, we) don't seem to realise this rather fundamental point.

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Neil Barnes
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Re: Badge of Honor

Aye, well, I stopped reading passports when they no longer had the line 'Profession: gentleman'.

Though to be fair, the inside cover was always impressive.

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Neil Barnes
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Re: Badge of Honor

"of me.....a citizen...."

I think you'll find that's "of me... a subject..." but that's another discussion.

Meanwhile, take a merit point, er, uptick.

p.s. actually, he's right: with and average of five terrorist-caused deaths in the last ten years or so, and about three thousand road traffic deaths per year, *you* are sixty times more likely to kill him than a terrorist is... One thing that would truly disable a politician is a proper sense of scale.

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The Pirate Bay co-founder exits jail, now, er, free to eat vegan food

Neil Barnes
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Does he actually *want* to remove copyright?

Wouldn't he be doing himself out of an income stream? What need for a piratebay if everything is available?

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NASA floats million-dollar airship prize for 20-20-20 vision

Neil Barnes
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20kg payload?

That's a lot of weather balloons, given that the Lohan test stuff has only been a couple of kilos load.

I wonder how accurate the height has to be? Tricky to balance a balloon 'just so' and it might need some active control in the Z direction. I suspect this is a job for a lifting-body balloon, perhaps. What about that thing they rolled out of Cardington earlier this year?

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/03/03/massive_new_airship_to_enter_commercial_service_at_british_dirigible_base/

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Race is on to touch down on COMET 67P before WHIFFY SPACE DUCK breaks up

Neil Barnes
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Alien

It would be embarrassing

if the next news flash were along the lines of: "Well, we landed on 67P and, er, we broke it..."

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Be Your Own Big Brother: Going to pot

Neil Barnes
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Seeeeeeeed moisture sensor

Why did I read that as 'seaweed'?

More to the point - she who must be obeyed and I share a common plant meme: if you plant it, and it grows, great. If it dies, try planting something else. Which reminds me - I need to grab the last crop of rhubarb.

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Danish lit star Helle Helle, Marianne Faithfull and Jim Al-Khalili on Quantum Biology

Neil Barnes
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Re: About that title...

" I'd never heard of Ms. Faithfull being involved in scientific endeavors outside of pharmacology."

Were you not aware of her alleged (though denied) astronomical studies? To help her work, rest, and play?

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Got a STRAP-ON? Remember to TAKE IT OFF at WORK

Neil Barnes
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Re: Try looking at the real world ...

"Three years on..."

Four-year-old granddaughter managed somehow to crack the glass of my daily watch last weekend; it's five years old or so, so time for a new glass.

The watch I'm using to replace it for now is sixty years old and winds itself up as I move around. Three or four times a year I have to reset it. The 'date' function has given up; probably time it had a service...

There's something I find immediately attractive about a mechanical watch - it's probably the most robust bit of technology we make, expected to work, accurately, for decades. (Note - it must just tell the time, here, now; no complications.) Yes, quartz crystals are more accurate (if you keep them at the temperature they like) but, meh, electronics are the day job. They have no soul.

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At last! Now you can STIFLE dull chums you can't really unfriend on Facebook

Neil Barnes
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to be a personalized newspaper for all users...

So we can send them adverts they'll enjoy even more at an improved advert to clutter rate!

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Dating website for damaged-stiffy sufferers suffers stiff damage: £10m bill for leak

Neil Barnes
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"These profiles were shared with up to 1,000 individual websites"

And that's the crux of the problem. The lawyer maintains that this wouldn't be an issue were the subject something innocuous, but I differ... I wonder if there's finally a ground-swell opinion forming that sharing data - any data - is simply not on.

After all, one goes to a site to deal with that site, not a thousand others - nor even one other.

Do we smell some legislation in the air?

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Yes! It's DRONE PORN. And we don't mean shiny pics of UAVs

Neil Barnes
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Re: Strange

First thing I noticed.

Well, maybe the second thing.

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Amazon: Put our ALWAYS ON MICROPHONE in your house, please. WHAT?

Neil Barnes
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FAIL

Apart from the inbuilt creepiness

(It's another gadget that will never find its way into my home) I can't help feeling that anyone calling a 2.5" loudspeaker element a 'woofer' is suffering from a serious reality dysfunction.

<rant>

FFS - if you've got kids, talk to them. Teach them to read and write. Answer their questions when they ask you. Don't rely on the technology... Has everyone forgotten the obvious lesson in Harrison's 'I always do what Teddy says'?

We're humans. We live and learn and grow and thrive from *human* contact.

</rant>

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Trickle-down economics WORKS: SpaceShipTwo is a PRIME EXAMPLE

Neil Barnes
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The anti-space spending brigade

Seem - as a group - to think that the space guys are parcelling up that money in great bales and shipping it off the planet.

Not one of them seems to realise that each and every penny of that money is *spent on earth*. It pays the salaries of the folk who build it and the folk who design it and the guard that stands on the gate and keeps the undesirables off the spaceport and the folk that clean the toilets and run the payroll and paint the roof. And it pays the folk who fill the shelves in the supermarket and the folk who mow the lawns and the doctors and the dentists and the folk who lay the roads and grow the corn and herd the cows...

It doesn't really matter where money is spent, as long as it is - and anything that gets us off the planet is such an obviously good thing for one simple reason: we have all our basques in one exit.

Idiots.

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Spaceplane fan sips sweet nectar from LOHAN's copious cup

Neil Barnes
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Well done that man!

My mug has just dispensed the morning ration of Lapsang Suchong (I only drink the stuff to annoy Lester!) and the mission patch is sewn onto my flying suit, awaiting a paragliding holiday in a couple of weeks.

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Got a spare $600k? Then an ancient Apple-1 could be yours

Neil Barnes
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WTF?

The machine that started the digital revolution?

What? All on its own? Without all those other single-boards running machine code monitors or Basic or Forth? Or the IMB PC clones? Or the BBC Micro and a couple of dozen other similar things?

Nah...

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LOHAN test flight: Results in from Oz jury

Neil Barnes
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Zeners

Be *very* careful with your choice of zener if you're using it to clip a power rail.

I'm looking into this (though I care about hot use - 150C - rather than colder temperatures) at the moment, and I'm finding zeners which we have used for years are suddenly, well, not zeners any more. What I'm finding is that the number printed on the side of the zener doesn't seem to bear a lot of relationship to the value at which that zener, er, zenes; not only is it sensitive to temperature it's sensitive to current as well. Even at room temperature in the 3-5v range (where things change from bandgap reference to true zener avalanche breakdown) we've seen zeners that have a volt and more difference from their nominal value.

You may need to consider something a little more sophisticated...

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Snapper's decisions: Whatever happened to REAL photography?

Neil Barnes
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Geek hobbyists

@ TheOtherHobbes - some of us prefer 4*5 or larger simply for the lens movements - and some of us build our own cameras... don't know if that counts as geekish or merely points out that we can't afford to splash a couple of grand on what is essentially a box with a bendy bit in the middle and a hole at each end!

I don't *care* whether or what others care about my photography; I don't do it for them.

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Neil Barnes
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Re: Enjoyed this

@Mort - consider someone like Silverprint (er, I'm assuming you're in the UK - there should be equivalents elsewhere) - http://www.silverprint.co.uk/ - for both film and chemistry supplies. There are also 'daylight' developing tanks which will get you a negative.

From negative to print you might like to think about scanning the negative rather than a further stage of processing, particularly if you don't want the hassle of an enlarger and dishes full of wet stuff.

I love the orthochromatic (it doesn't see much red) Adox CHS 100 film - gives a lovely 50's look.

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Virgin's SpaceShipTwo crashes in Mojave Desert during test flight

Neil Barnes
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Unfortunately...

One pilot dead and one injured, according to a BBC report.

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So long, thanks for all the ...er, FISH BRIGHTER than boffins thought

Neil Barnes
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Fish swim in schools...

But the common wisdom has it that schools are becoming less effective.

So will fish become less smart (or just less well qualified)?

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Mozilla releases geolocating WiFi sniffer for Android

Neil Barnes
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Re: Let me get this right?

Astonishly enough, the first thing I did was to turn off location services - followed immediately afterwards by network data access and wifi. The battery life is almost fine now.

This in spite of the fact that the only application I have installed is Navigator (no, not Netscape).

It was not my understanding that messages would be read, just SSID and matches to GPS locations. But there's something there that creeps me out: knowing where every Wifi point in the world is doesn't sit well with me; bad enough they want to know where I am; worse that they expect me to weave the net that will trap me.

I wonder why it is that my use-case for so much modern technology is at odds from the rest of the world? Do you not *care*?

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