* Posts by Michael H.F. Wilkinson

2757 posts • joined 24 Apr 2007

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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Thumb Up

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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Thumb Up

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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Pint

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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Pint

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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Pint

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
Silver badge
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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Using leather in 'leccy cars is 'unTesla', rages vegan shareholder

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Joke

Re: Plastic fantastic

OK, just to freak out the Vegans (or is it Vogons):

Can they guarantee that all the fossil bits in fossil fuel needed to make plastic is purely plant derived. I bet there are quite some hydrocarbons of animal origin in there; animals who quite likely (given the nature of natural death) suffered a horrible death, were crushed under tonnes and tonnes of rock for eons, their bodies slowly liquifying, only to be recycled as toys for a bunch of arrogant bipedal semi-hairless apes! The horrror, the HORROR!!!!!!

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Bill Nye's bonkers LightSail spaceship unfurls solar sails at last

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Pirate

In my mind's eye ...

I can see space pirates with black sails, preparing to board this craft. SHIVER ME TIMBERS!!!!!

;-)

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FLYING SAUCER crashes into Pacific off Hawaii - NASA

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Mushroom

Re: Failed?

True, progress is often made by eliminating most of the ways of getting it wrong. I tend to get an uneasy feeling when something I have built (or programmed for that matter) works perfectly at the first test. You are left with the awkward feeling that things might blow up in your face later.

Hence the icon

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Voyager 2 'stopped' last week, and not just for maintenance

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Perhaps. More likely, they might laugh more at the fact that some still feel digital watches are a pretty neat idea

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Coat

Re: If you play it backwards

Let's hope it doesn't say "I seem to be having tremendous difficulty with my lifestyle", and ends up in the hands of the Vl'hurgs (although a small dog might once again come to the rescue)

OK, time to go, the one with the cassette tapes of the radio play in the pocket, please

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Alien

Re: I was a bit sad ...

Quarantine barrier? You mean the one they errected because they took offence at the fact that we (or at least some of us) play cricket?

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Star Trek's Lt Uhura hospitalised in LA after stroke

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Fingers crossed for a full recovery

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Elon Musk's $4.9 BEELLLION taxpayer windfall revealed

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Red-in-Tooth-and-Claw?

Or indeed that being a "red-in-tooth-and-claw capitalist" is a good thing per se?

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Attack of the IT monuments men: Museum wants your kit

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

Things do change rapidly. I still have an 8" floppy (128 kB!!) with (supposing the magnetic layer hasn't degraded) CP/M 2.0 on it used in one of the first computers I used for image processing. I now think nothing of filling 80GB of disk space with solar data in the space of 10-15 minutes and then grumble the PC is taking a few hours to chug through that mass of data.

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IT-savvy US congressmen to Feds: End your crypto-backdoor crusade

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Pint

IT-savvy US congressmen?

An endangered species, methinks. I propose a toast to this rare utterance of (at least a little) common sense in a sea of paranoia-driven gibberish.

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Google patents DEVIL TOY which will BRAINWASH KIDS

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Joke

"in a secret Google lab that may or may not be filled with roving robots, space elevators and talking refrigerators"

What? No chatty doors?

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City of birth? Why password questions are a terrible idea

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Coat

Re: Even worse

Blue,....

No, RED!!

WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

And now for something completely different:

I could imagine some online forms choking on Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch as a place of birth

Coat please! Mine is the one with the souvenir ruler from Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch in the pocket

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Spell it phonetically

Reminds me of the BOFH episode where Simon reminisced about the time he set the password expiry time to 24 hours and minimum required length to 32 characters, forcing people to use a password generator which produced results looking like "vaguely pronounceable line noise"

Brilliant

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ZX Spectrum 'Hobbit' revival sparks developer dispute

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Re: Repeat after me:

I Just Thought It Was A Golem Speaking

Dorfl

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Last flying Avro Vulcan, XH558, prepares for her swan song

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: What a shame

As a kid I spotted these thundering over in Cornwall. I also spotted one while fossil hunting in Yorkshire. One of the most iconic British planes ever. Sad moment to see it grounded.

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Swedish government wins legal case to seize Pirate Bay domains

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Legal reasoning.

If you use those to commit a crime, according to that reasoning apparently: yes. Without wanting to go into the right or wrong of the current court decision, I would expect many countries have similar provisions. A home might be difficult to see as a tool in a crime, but if someone is a persistent drunk driver, and kills somebody whilst driving under influence, few would argue that confiscating car (and licence) would be excessive punishment. If someone uses his credit card to defraud people, confiscating it could be part of the punishment.

What is needed in most countries is a court order.

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South Korea mandates spyware installation on teenagers' smartphones

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Smart Sheriff?

Isn't that a contradiction in terms?

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Apple Watch rationing caused by the MOON GOAT, not quality

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

We're DOOMED!!

Oh, wait, moon goat, not giant mutant star goat.

OK everyone, get off that B-ark, false alarm

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BOFH: Getting to the brown, nutty heart of the water cooler matter

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Pint

Just what I needed

great episode

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Business or pleasure? Crucial MX200 and BX100 1TB SSDs

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Very interesting

Yes it is the extreme bursty nature of the data. I take mosaic shots like this twenty-three paner (do click on the image to see the full 3541x3451 res ;-)) and there is nothing more frustrating than to see the HDD suddenly throttle your speed from 100FPS to 4 or 5FPS just as cloud is approaching and you want to catch just one more pane. No doubt if acquisition was faster, I would catch more than "just" 80 GB per session.

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Very interesting

In solar imaging I am SERIOUSLY limited by the HDD I/O speed, with a camera spitting out 1936x1216 16bit grey level images at a rate of 128FPS. I easily gather 60-80 GB per sunny day, so speed and endurance figures like this are comforting

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GCHQ puts out open recruitment call for 'white hat' hackers

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Black Helicopters

Re: Wanted

I would have thought the advert read:

Come over to the Dark side!!

but most likely any advert is just a diversion to make us believe they don't already know who wants that job

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BILLION YEAR SECRETS of baking hellworld Mercury UNLOCKED by NASA probe crash

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Pint

Great thumbs up and glasses raised to the scientists and engineers who built this craft. Well done!! The only thing they do not seem to be good at is estimating how long their craft will last, but at least they tend to err on the (very) safe side ;-)

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All-Russian 'Elbrus' PCs and servers go on sale

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Joke

So in Russia ....

2015 will finally be the year of the Linux desktop?

Sorry, even as a long term Linux user, I just couldn't resist.

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