* Posts by Michael H.F. Wilkinson

2781 posts • joined 24 Apr 2007

Space paparazzo captures bipolar butterfly

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Amazing image

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Google robo-car suffers brain freeze after seeing hipster cyclist

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Track Stand? Bah.

Haven't seen this kind of fix-gear bike hear yet (this being the Netherlands, and me being a cycle commuter, I get to see LOTS of bikes). The only single speed bikes I have used a lot myself had back-pedal breaks and certainly a freewheel. These types are still popular here, what with the Netherlands being so flat, there is not much use for the lower two thirds of the 24 speeds of my current bike Koga-Miyata (fun in Dartmoor, though)

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Oh no Wikiwon't: Russians plan own version of 'distorted' Wikiland

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Great

And slood? Have the Russians invented slood yet?

The one with Terry Pratchett's "Truth" in the pocket, please

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Perhaps the AIpocalypse ISN'T imminent – if Google Translate is anything to go by, that is

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy

Re: It could be worse

Brilliant, just brilliant.

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Hawking, Musk, Woz (and Riley): ROBOTS will KILL US ALL

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

"Perhaps these are actually human problems."

SSH! Don't tell the robots, they might decide this is reason enough to get rid of us.

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NASA's Dawn gets intimate with Ceres

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Pint

I'll drink to the name Byggvir

Excellent choice! Mine is a Westmalle Tripel

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What's Russia smoking? Kremlin bans Wikipedia for dopey article

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Crowd Control

Not just Vodka, Russians also like their коньяк (cognac), some of it pretty good too

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Stop

Re: You what?

Please do not feed the troll

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Manhattan-sized iceberg splits from glacier – and spotted FROM SPACE

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: when measuring things in terms of Manhattans

Given an ice cube of size of approximately 10cc, That would yield some 1.75x1015 ice cubes. At two cubes per drink we could make 8.75x1014 gin and tonics. This means roughly 120,000 drinks per person for the entire population of earth, equating to 32.8 years of partying at 10 drinks per day (modest enough I would say)

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FBI probed SciFi author Ray Bradbury for plot to glum-down America

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Interesting, and probably accurate way of putting it

From the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) report

“He noted that some of Bradbury's stories have definitely slated against the United States and its capitalistic form of government”

(my emphasis)

Interesting use of the word "capitalistic." Given the influence (then and now) of big money, it is perhaps a more important distinction than democratic.

I am also perennially amused by a certain group of Americans who shout at the top of their voices that America is the land of the free, and yet don't like liberals. Maybe they should look up the etymology of the word liberal. Just a thought

Many other Americans despair rather than smile at the attitude of these fellow countrymen

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High-heeled hacker builds pen-test kit into her skyscraper shoes

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

A kind of SEP-field, maybe

By making something EXTRA VISIBLE her shoes become Someone Else's Problem, and they are therefore invisible

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NASA dismisses asteroid apocalypse threat

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Er.

Or was that wonton destruction?

Hmm, dumplings ........

OK, I am off to the Chinese takeaway

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NASA reveals Cassini probe's last glimpse of Saturn's icy moon Dione

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Stunning imagery

The Cassini-Huygens missions has been such a huge success, it is sad (but inevitable) that it should end soon. A toast to the scientists and engineers who have worked so hard to make this a success. Looking forward to the extreme close ups of Enceladus and the other last fruits of the mission

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Gas giant cores actually built from shedloads of gravel

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: This must come as a surprise...

I gather he wanted to do Jupiter all in fjords

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Yet another Android app security bug: This time 'everything is affected'

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy

Re: Tip o' the hat to Mr Pratchett

In the name of preserving the good Anglo-Saxon tradition of alliteration (Beowulf and all that), I would turn that into

"An embuggerance of exploits"

Doffs hat (the Panama, today) to both Powernumpty and the late great Sir Terry Pratchett

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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A Fright of Flaws?

Just my tuppence

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Activist pens pirate's map to 'liberating' academic journals

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: big move towards open-access publishing

OA costs can certainly be a problem. Our research foundation does pay for those costs (as do EU programmes, I gather). In other countries the situation is worse. A key problem is that new OA journals lack the impact factor of established journals, making setting up a new journal (OA or otherwise) difficult. IEEE allows you to choose a model in certain journals at least, I understand. That might be the best way forward: established journals offering a choice.

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Boffin

Different publishers take very different stances

IEEE allows the authors to place the material on their website, provided that IEEE copyright notice is included, and that the server prominently displays a notice alerting readers to their obligations with respect to copyrighted material. An example is this one here (bottom of page in particular). This is a very good way of doing things I feel. Elseviers is FAR more restrictive, which is why I prefer publishing with IEEE.

There is a big move towards open-access publishing. This allows anyone to access the paper, but is more costly for the authors. However, given the total cost of a typical research project, open access publishing costs are insignificant

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Camera-carrying DOLPHIN SPY caught off Gaza

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Mushroom

Re: Whatever next?

Marlins with Missiles?

Icon, because them Missiles be Minutemen

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Boffins identify world's (possibly) first flowering plant

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Boffin

Like grasses which are wind pollinated, many if not most underwater angiosperms are pollinated through water currents (last time I looked I never spotted bees in scuba gear ;-) )

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Hacktivists congratulate Daily Show's Jon Stewart via Donald Trump's website

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Re: Trump

Are eggs and beans used in the production of this fragrance?

I somehow think there is sufficient hot air in the man not to need such assistance

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Microsoft replaces Windows 10 patch update, isn't saying why

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: “includes improvements to enhance the functionality of Windows 10.”

I do not think they would make ANY mention of "improved functionality" in that case, they would simply take a page out of their version of the BOFH excuse generator for patching. After all "correcting several buffer overflow errors" sounds perfectly plausible. Maybe the vague "improvements to enhance the functionality" clause simply is a euphemism for "bricks/borks fewer machines than the previous update"

Or if you do not want to be cynical, it might refer to some modest algorithmic improvements somewhere in this huge amount of code. I have often made a series of incremental improvements to code (improving memory efficiency, slight improvements to speed, etc) in image processing and visualisation code in various releases, and not bothered to specify each and every one.

Whatever the meaning I will not be installing it on any machine of mine any time soon.

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Flying Spaghetti Monster spotted off Angolan coast

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Re: Monday morning design

Fair enough, I would say. On the other hand I can never quite get the hang of Thursdays

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Susan Sheridan, voice of Hitchhiker's Trillian, dies aged 68

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Very sad news. I have fond memories of listening to the tapes of the radio plays driving a battered old VW Beetle through France.

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Mathematician: SUNSPOT DROUGHT will mean mini ICE AGE from 2030

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: What does this mean for PV?

The minimum does refer to sunspots, and the total energy output of the sun does not vary much, but there is a definite correlation between sunspot activity and global temperature (spanning hundreds of years). The current understanding of the physics suggests that the weaker solar magnetic field during minimum causes more cosmic rays to penetrate the atmosphere, seeding more clouds, which increases Earth's mean albedo.

This correlation between solar activity and global temperature does not necessarily deny the existence of AGW, but no doubt it will muddle (and muddy) the discussion on AGW (yet again). Futile, really, because getting rid of dependence of fossil fuels is a good thing for many reasons besides the warming issue (as many others have noted).

What worries me (a bit) is that I have got myself a load of (expensive) solar astronomy kit, and it would be a shame if the views get boring. On the other hand, nobody knows what the sun looks like in H-alpha during the onset of a Maunder-type minimum, so recording it (IF it happens) is going to be interesting. Even a fairly quiet sun in white light can be full of drama in H-alpha, as can be seen in this shot (with Earth to scale added)

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NASA pops open a big can of red planet whup-ass with Mars Trek

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Great piece of outreach software

I really like these kinds of releases of data and visualisation to the public. Great job NASA!

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Thinking of adding an SSD for SUPREME speed? Read this

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Coffee/keyboard

Re: You sir owe me a new keyboard

Seconded!

With a camera easily capable of generating a data stream of 600MB/s I really want some of this new tech in my next machine

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China wants to build a 200km-long undersea tunnel to America

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Sleep

I have much the same problems on long flights, and rarely if ever manage any real shut-eye. The same holds for the sleeper-trains I have been on, alas (not so much the toddlers, but the vibrations and noise). I have had a ride on a Shinkansen from Tokyo to Kyoto which was so amazingly smooth that I do believe I could sleep on that one.

My main concern is building a long under-sea tunnel in a tectonically active region.

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Wendi the horny dino named after Canadian fossil hunter. Charming!

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Is she really a "boffin"?

She must be at least an honorary boffin

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PLUTO: The FINAL FRONTIER – best image yet of remote, icy dwarf planet REVEALED

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Maybe they will find

You are right, that was Nereid.

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Alien

Maybe they will find

we rented the planet out to Outsiders, just their kind of environment, apparently.

On a more serious note: I cannot wait to see the real close-up images.

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Sorry, say boffins, the LHC still hasn't sucked us into a black hole

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Bravo

You won't be saying that as you get dragged screaming towards CERN one day!

Simple conservation of mass (or equivalently energy) will tell you that the black holes formed have no more mass than the particles from which they formed. The black holes do not exert more gravitational attraction than those selfsame particles. Only if they live long enough (which they shouldn't) and have time enough to accrete more mass could they pose any danger. The very same theory that predicts their formation suggests they should decay before this happens. A scenario like in Larry Niven's "The Hole Man" is perhaps not impossible, but very, very, improbable.

What you should not do is work out the exact improbability, and feed that into an infinite improbability drive, of course.

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DOUGHNUT (donut?) and whale FOUND ON PLUTO

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Excellent work

I just love these missions, they put me in mind of the excitement of the Viking, Pioneer, and Voyager missions to planets in my youth (not to mention the Apollo program I followed avidly as a kid). These blurry-but-best-yet images of Pluto are really thrilling. Cannot wait to see the results of the flyby

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Mars rover Opportunity shuns dodgy flash chips, relies on RAM

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Pint

I remember pointing out Mars to my kids a few years back, and they were reasonably impressed at the red appearance. I then told them that two robot cars from earth were trundling about on that red dot in the sky (Curiosity had not yet landed). That lit up their imagination. For that alone I am very thankful to the engineers at NASA.

Kids! The beer is for dad, and for the engineers, not for you two!!

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Boffin: Will I soon be able to CLONE a WOOLLY MAMMOTH? YES. Should I? Hell NO

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Mushroom

PULL THE LEVEL IGOR! WUH HAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAA!!!!

Yethhh Marthter!!!

We need an Igor icon. We really do

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German army fights underground Nazi war machine hidden in Kiel pensioner's cellar

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: So, good performer in heavy snow then?

For performance in the snow, I would want a Russian T34 rather than a German tank of that era

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BOFH: Don't go changing on Friday evenings, I don't wanna work that hard

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: It's my motto

Relax, he just forgot to add "each"

Unless he is in Sweden

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Re: Rule #1

I thought Rule 1 was "Do not act incautiously when confronting a little bald wrinkly smiling man"

Important as your rule 1 is, I think you may have to find another number for it (certainly if there is a sweeper nearby)

Maybe number 42 is vacant

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Pint

Very nice

I'll skip the espresso, but then to me all coffee tastes like it was individually tailored to my personal requirements of nutrition and enjoyment by a Sirius Cybernetics Nutrimatic machine

(and, no, I am not a masochist on a diet)

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This whopping 16-bit computer processor is being built by hand, transistor by transistor

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Beat the clock

Maybe he is initially being conservative. I bet there is some room for overclocking this BRILLIANT piece of work that I am certainly going to feature in next year's "Introduction to Computing Science" course that I teach.

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California über alles? Is MEP Reda flushing Euro copyright tradition down the pan?

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Interesting piece

I always find it interesting that people who see copyright only as a barrier are those who have created little themselves. Many people (like me) own copyright to stuff and explicitly state that anyone can use it freely, often through variants of the BSD, GPL, CC, or my favourite, the Free Beverage License (You can use it, but you owe me a drink next time). Alternatively, educational or other non-profit use is allowed. However, it is my choice.

People that create something very many people want to copy, are special in a way. Anybody else might have made it, but they didn't. Special or not, they are within their rights to say others cannot use it without my permission. The fact that it is much easier now to copy works than it has ever been before does not change that right per se. Let us not forget that that same ease of copying has lead to unprecedented generosity as well, as witnessed by the load of free stuff available today.

In the unlikely case the above is of use, please feel free to use any of the above, and you don't even have to buy e a drink ;-)

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The insidious danger of the lone wolf control freak sysadmin

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Did the PFY own a bus?

Or for curious invoices for large quantities of quicklime

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Philae warms up nicely, sends home second burst of data

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Re: Over engineered?

Actually, no. It is very hard work to engineer it to the precise tolerances needed for that exact 1,000,000 to one chance

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Pint

Great news again

A tip of the hat (the Tilley today) and a raising of the glass to the engineers once again

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Sun's out, guns out: Plucky Philae probot WAKES UP ... hits 'snooze'

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Pint

Great work

I raised a glass or two of the distilled version of the drink shown in the icon (Ardbeg Uigeadail) to celebrate

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Innocent Spaniards roasted by experimental napalm mead

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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In all fairness

I have had one or two beers from American microbreweries, and (very much unlike most of the alleged beer from big US breweries) they were quite good. Still prefer a Westmalle Tripel or a Duvel, but that is a matter of taste

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Mushroom

I think I will stick to mere Madame Jeanette peppers

in my home-made sambal setan (Malay for "devil sauce"). Its bright orange colour gives fair warning of the heat (and it has a nice fruitiness I rather like)

Icon, well,... obvious, innit?

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INTERNET of BOOBS: Scorching French lass reveals networked bikini

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

So who will be the first to hack this device

or the attendant app to broadcast "This girl is HOT" including temperature data to boys nearby (just so they can then gallantly offer to apply the suntan lotion, of course).

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LOHAN'S PRATCHETT mission set to soar Saturday

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Thumb Up

It's got to be a million-to-one chance

because million-to-one chances crop up nine times out of ten.

Sorry, couldn't resist. Fingers crossed for a perfect Pratchett project performance!

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Facebook: Your code sucks, and we don't even have to run it to tell

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

And once they add the GPP* feature to it

it might commit hara-kiri on seeing some of the code I have had to grade, and, to be brutally honest, have written at some points in time. Scientific code is often VERY ugly (but, hey, the article is documentation enough, isn't it? ;-) )

*GPP: Genuine People Personality is a registered trademark of Sirius Cybernetics. Please only use after clearance with the Sirius Cybernetics Complaints Division. Share and Enjoy!!

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