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* Posts by Michael H.F. Wilkinson

2490 posts • joined 24 Apr 2007

The BOFH is BACK: And it's cloudy with a 90% chance of beatings

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Nice

very nice indeed

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Pint

Re: If only..

Stewing the results in beer is recommended

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Smartwatch face off: Pebble, MetaWatch and new hi-tech timepieces

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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They seem to be getting better very slowly. I have yet to see a real killer app for these, but maybe one will come along.

I will just stick with my current watch. I only ever buy a watch when the previous one breaks in such a way that repair is no longer economical. Given that my current (only my third) watch is a year old, and on average, my watches last about 19 years (OK, N=2 statistics), there could be some really enticing options available when I am up for my fourth watch.

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WW II U-boat attacks prompt new US response

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Blame BP

They might be able to claim "Force majeure"

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Kaaaarrrlllll!!

Shouldn't that be:

AALLLLAAAAAARRRRMMMM!!!!

Tauchen!!!!!

Mine is the one with the "Das Boot" director's cut DVD in the pocket

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Soylent Corporation prepares to DEFEAT FOOD

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Pint

Thanks, but no thanks

Tonight I think I might be serving some portions of monkfish fillet, lightly drizzled in olive oil and some lemon juice, sprinkled with pepper and some fresh sage from the garden, wrapped in lean smoky bacon, baked in the oven at 220 C for just 15 minutes served with pasta and pesto alla genovese, and spinach.

Alternatively, I might just have some pizza. Some beer or wine would go down a treat as well

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HTC woes prompts 'leave now' tweet from former staffer

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Pity really, I liked my HTC Desire a lot. I now have a Desire X (in part because the interface was familiar, in part because I got a good deal), but when that needs replacement I may well have to look elsewhere, unless by then telcos are dumping their HTC phones as they too bail out (something tells me living in the Netherlands has influenced me ;-) ).

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Computer use irrelevant to education outcomes, says US study

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: The key to teaching is the teacher

One thing that the government here in the Netherlands might try (maybe the same elsewhere), is to let teachers teach, not administrate. I gave a few lessons of computer science at schools nearby, to show kids that CS is certainly not learning to work in MS-Office. I was appalled at how much time teachers have to waste on administration during each lesson. And then there are the endless assessments and test that are foisted upon school children here from the age of 4 upwards. Endless assessments to measure outcomes. As one teacher pointedly stated: "A pig doesn't get fatter by weighing it more often". This tendency to measure everything to death has even reached preschool creches we have. I have heard people agonize about the fact that a 3 or 4 year old kid only recognized 4 letters whereas they should know 5 at that age. As if that difference is at all meaningful!.

When teachers are assessed by the teaching outcomes of their pupils, they will train them to perform well at the test, which is not the same as giving them understanding of the subject matter (let alone stimulating them).

</rant>

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Curiosity plunges its drill into Mars AGAIN, seeks life-giving sample

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Cumberland

Or contains sauce

Darn, I'm hungry now

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New 4TB drive spaffs half a telly season into your eyes AT ONCE

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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16 channels simultaneously?

Just don't cross-connect it to an electric monk, it will try to believe all 16 channels simultaneously.

Mine is the one with "Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency" in the pocket

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German robots sent to Oz to make GPS millimetre-perfect

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Unprecedented precision!

So now, drivers can mess things up with sub-millimetre precision!

OK, stop this sketch it's getting silly

Mine is the one with a map in the pocket

(and yes, sub-millimetre precision is impressive!)

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The iWatch is coming! The iWatch is coming!

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Never? You mean only when they wrench it out of your cold dead hands. In which case you will be passed caring.

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Why not a BOFH watch?

which runs linux, allows you to log into your servers. A full keyboard would perhaps be a bit much, bt a small set of function keys with the following functions could be enough:

F1: rm -rf *

F2: kill -9

F3: shutdown -h now

F4: reboot

like this one

Suggestions for other keys welcome

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MYSTERY Nokia Lumia with gazillion-pixel camera 'spotted'

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Boffin

Let's talk photon counts and well sizes

Cramming 41Mpixel into such a small format is apparently possible, but only by making the photosites tiny. This means the electron well can only hold comparatively few electrons before saturating. This in turn means that the number of photons detected before saturation is low, which means increased noise and lower dynamic range. By binning multiple photosites together into a much smaller number of pixels, you can counteract this, and no doubt produce some very nifty 8MP images (especially with good processing techniques).

However, this will never match the quality of a DLSR, simply because the much bigger lens of a DLSR gathers more photons, which means better signal to noise. The reason is that quantum efficiencies (percentage of photons detected) of photosites are very high indeed (40% and above) so little can be gained there (and every gain at the phone end can be made equally at the DSLR end). A DSLR lens easily has 4x the diameter of that of a camera phone, meaning it gets 16x the number of photons. A phone sensor would need to collect 800% of all photons (which is clearly impossible) to match a DSLR sensor with 50% quantum efficiency.

So, will these cameras produce nice images, good enough for most purposes? Even when deducting marketing speak: yes. Will they match professional DSLR kit: No; this little thing called physics gets in the way. On the other hand, do I carry a phone with me all day? Certainly. Do I carry several kilogrammes of DSLR kit around all the time? No way!

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Crack Army pilot to be first PROPER British astronaut IN SPAAAACE

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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I do not care whether he is first or second: there is going to be (another) British astronaut. Cheers to him

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Nine-year-old Opportunity Mars rover sets NASA distance record

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: So...

Put like that, maybe NASA could get sponsoring from Ferrari to up the ante on that front

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Acorn founder: SIXTH WAVE of tech will wash away Apple, Intel

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Oh S*&t!

Share and enjoy!!

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Alien

Re: Oh S*&t!

More correctly:

"We'll tell you:' Go stick your head in a pig'"

As sung by a choir of robots with their voice boxes exactly one flattened fifth out of tune.

And remember:

Don't Panic!

No large, friendly letters available I am afraid

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Larry Page acknowledges creeping vocal paralysis

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: That sux

It might have been a scary (or more accurately, very, very sad) person who is responsible for the down vote, or alternatively, it might have been a very clumsy person.

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Bing uncloaks Klingon translator

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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What next?

Sindarin? Quenya?

Brindisian? Klatchian?

Mine is the one with Jingo! in the pocket

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Drone to deliver beer-as-a-service

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Black Helicopters

I am torn

between a beer icon and a helicopter icon.

OK, let's go for the tinfoil-hat brigade:

The government laces drone-supplied beer with truth serum so they can spy on you

In truth of course, beer in sufficient quantities can always let you divulge inconvenient truths

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Astronaut Chris Hadfield's Space Oddity ends in Kazakhstan

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Pint

Cheers to him

Every time I see the ISS fly over (happens quite often whilst stargazing, I could even spot its overall shape with big binoculars), I just have to give quiet praise to the people up there, and the people who helped put them there. However we bemoan not doing enough space exploration, some people are dedicating and even risking their lives in the name of space exploration.

People like Cmdr Hadfield set a shining example in my book. Cheers to him and all like him

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ScaleMP: Use RAM plus vSMP, not flash, to boost server performance

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Latency, it's all about latency

CSP is powerful. The main problem I find is in keeping communication down, especially in terms of how often processes need to communicate. It is much cheaper to have a few large chunks shuttled from on process to another, than it is to have a whole lot of little messages. It is not just the latency in that case (it also plays a role), but it is also the synchronization that costs time (barriers are particularly costly).

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Boffin

Latency, it's all about latency

I have some rather memory-intensive code, that I did once run (or rather walk) on a ScaleMP machine (8 boards with 8 cores each (older incarnation)). Performance was dismal. Why? Each core thread may need access to each part of memory, because the outcome for each pixel in these huge images may depend on any pixel in the image, and you do not know beforehand which ones matter. Everything works hunky-dory as long as each processor only accesses the memory on its board, but the moment it needs large amounts of data from another board, latency kills performance. Getting a speed-up of 0.5 at 2 threads (if they weren't explicitly pinned to cores on the same board) is rather discouraging.

What they are doing is putting a software layer over a distributed memory or NUMA machine, so as to hide the complexities and allow shared memory algorithms to run (or rather walk) without the need to rewrite the code. ScaleMP does hide the actual NUMA architecture very well. Curiously, this leads to problems when optimizing the parallel code for that particular hardware. Because details are too well hidden. You really need to understand the memory architecture and the latencies of the machine to design the appropriate algorithm. Parallel programming on shared-memory machines and distributed-memory/NUMA machines are two very different ball-games, often requiring a careful rethink of the algorithms, in order to get the processors spend their time working, not talking (just like an old-fashioned classroom), or waiting for data.

A ScaleMP-like approach could work if the latencies are kept very low (like the QPI approach). On run-of-the-mill network connections (or even Infiniband), you need to rethink shared memory code, not so much because of bandwidth, but because of latency. For Cell/GPU type systems similar rethinks are needed, for much the same reason

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Your Flying Car? Delayed again, but you WILL get it, says Terrafugia

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Re: Eeeek!

Or: OOOK! as the librarian warns you not to land on the dome of the library.

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PayPal security boss: OBLITERATE passwords from THE PLANET

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Heel, FIDO! Heel!

Sorry, couldn't resist.

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Builder-in-a-hole outrage sparks Special Projects Bureau safety probe

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

But, But, But...

Was he wearing suitable sun-block protection on his bare arms?

We must know!!!!!

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Coke? Windows 8 is Microsoft's 'Vista moment'. Again

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

A statement with "Balmer" and "overly aggressive" only needs

"is" in between

More seriously, it looks like my decision to postpone the acquisition of a laptop until such time as MS backtracked was a good one

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Don't bake your Raspberry Pi - now you can WATER COOL it

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Obviously

The coolant of choice is raspberry juice

I'll get me coat

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We've done it - we've gone and made LONG-LIFE BEER

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Pint

I'll drink to that!

Who says all researchers live in an ivory tower?

Cheers

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So long, Hotmail: Remaining users migrated to Outlook.com

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Mushroom

Seen from the other side, Hotmail is a pain too

When people subscribe to a forum I help moderate, our software sends an authentication e-mail, with a link to let the user authenticate himself. Hotmail, and hotmail alone, corrupts the url we send, so an administrator has had to programme a workaround. Let's hope and pray that Outlook.com does mess up in the same way.

Standards? MS has heard of them, I recall.

I know, I am an eternal optimist.

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Thousands rally behind teen girl cuffed, expelled in harmless 'explosion'

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Terrorist

Yep, noticed the same. Even the most measured posts are receiving thumbs down from somebody. Not necessarily an American though, there are plenty of idiots on either side of the big pond. Idiocy is very democratic in that sense

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Common Sense...

There is still a lot of common sense about, I see it all around me every day. I see morons too, of course, but they are in somewhat shorter supply. Modern communication technology just means you hear about the morons much quicker. Do not forget, people being sensible is not something that sells papers, or generates clicks on adds.

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Why next iPhone screen could be made of SAPPHIRE - and a steal...

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Boffin

Silica <> glass

Silica or quartz is not (often) a true glass. Fused silica is used in optics, but due to the high temperatures needed for glass transition it is limited in its use. Typical glass combines silica (about 75%) with sodium and calcium oxides. So silica is the main constituent in many cases, but not the whole story. Most silica typically has a proper crystalline structure, and is not glass-like in many properties (e.g. thermal conductivity of glass is typically closer to that of certain liquids than that of crystalline silica or carborundum (alumina)).

</pedantry>

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COCK-A-DOODLE-DOO: NASA rovers scrawl giant willy on Mars

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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It needn't be intentional, it could just be a cock-up

Sorry, couldn't resist. Sounds like it's time to go already

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Nvidia Tesla bigwig: Why you REALLY won't need x86 chips soon

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Boffin

Not all parallel programs have the same demands

There are many tasks that run like the clappers under CUDA. These are all those tasks that are of a more-or-less SIMD nature, like large matrix multiplications, Fourier transforms, and any other method that has a predefined processing order, preferably with a lot of micro-parallelism in there. Subtasks also need to be fairly isolated, to minimize communication load. For those tasks Kepler and Tesla-like processors are great (we have a couple).

However, there are also tasks in which the processing order is data driven, and where each processor might need to access arbitrary parts of the (large) data set here. I am currently doing multi-scale analysis of 3.9 Gpixel images, and doing that on a Kepler or Tesla board is a nightmare. Our 64-core Opteron machine gets between 32-50 times speed-up, because this algorithm is best using coarse-grained parallelism. X86-64 machines are not going away soon, and GP-GPU-processing is not a panacea (great though it is).

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BlackBerry OS 10.1 leaks its secret goo over all the web

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Pint

Re: Mrs F....

I cannot say that the fact that one particular missus cannot understand a phone is the best measure for usability. My missus moans about her android phone endlessly (which my kids understand in the blink of an eye), but at the same time refuses to listen to any advice (like what different buttons/apps do, what gestures are available, etc). In quite a few cases I find that moaning is not about getting help or advice, it is purely about getting attention. If you truly solve the problem, you deny them the chance to moan about that again.

BTW, this is not a female thing: we have several excellent and technically very competent female PhD students here. It is much more of an anti-tech mindset that some people develop.

Sorry, end of rant, it has been that kind of morning. Beer, because I feel I am in need of that.

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And they're off: Hubble, Herschel race for hot pics of space filly

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: That is so, so beautiful

To see the Horse-head nebula you need very dark sites, a big scope, and for preference an H-beta filter. Even with my 8" in the Alps I failed to spot it (did not have the filter though, next winter might be better).

We are lucky to live in a time when we have instruments like Hubble and Herschel to capture such beauty.

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Dark matter researchers think they've got a signal

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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So

even at the subatomic level, being hit by a wimp does have much effect

Yeah, right. I should have gone home long ago

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Ready for the car 2.0? Nvidia preps UPGRADABLE car system

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Can you install two dashboards using SLI?

Just to keep back-seat drivers occupied

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Ants have careers; you don't want them

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Maybe the queen just likes having all the hot-looking young ants to herself?

And the young'uns like to be near the queen of course. To paraphrase Loudon Wainwright III

"The cutest ant that I have ever seen

is our own big fat sexy queen!

True she hasn't got such great legs,

but you should see the girl lay eggs!"

Mine's the one with the dead skunk print on the back.

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Malwarebytes declares Windows 'malicious', nukes 1,000s of PCs

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

I patiently await

A virus scanner that identifies itself as malware

At least it will remove itself, or at least file harakiri.dll

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Review: Asus PadFone 2 phone-tablet combo

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Thumb Up

Interesting concept. From the same company that produces the transformer stuff that seems like the most interesting tablet to fulfil my needs. Next up, a padphone transformer?

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Boffins: Tireless star spurted deadly jets for half an hour at a time

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Boffin

That is why they talk about the edge of the observable universe. One could also call this "edge" our event horizon. Just because crayons work in 2D does not mean 3-D (or for that matter n-D, for any positive integer n) objects cannot have an edge (or boundary if you like).

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Are biofuels Europe's sh*ttiest idea ever?

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Biofuels do have a long history

T34 Tanks are said to have run on vodka or bootleg drink on occasion.

A waste of good drink, perhaps, but it may have prevented blindness.

(it cannot have been scumble, as that would have eaten its way through the metal of the engine)

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Raspberry Pi space jaunt ends in dramatic mountain rescue

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Locals bearing flaming torches and pitchforks

But, but, but,..... was one member of the team called Igor?

Please let somebody say "Yeth, Marthter!!"

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Microsoft brings back Windows watch after Apple seeks 'flexible' bod

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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@Danny 14

"but the battery life will suck. Even with induction charging it will be a pain."

I have this mental image of an induction charger based on a cattle prod

It's withdrawal symptoms from too few BOFH episodes

Really time to go; hat, coat, outahere!

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: meh....

".... a computer on their wrist and a computer on their face?(smart specs)"

I thought face-installed computers were quite old technology, generally available whenever someone ticks off the the BOFH

OK, time to go

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Mozilla devs plotting to put a stake in <blink> tag – at last

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

DARN!!

And I had almost got my special toner to get laser printed web-pages to blink where required perfected!

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NASA-backed fusion engine could cut Mars trip down to 30 days

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy

Re: Vaporware

Of course there are hurdles, that is why research is needed (hence the phrase "if we knew what we were doing it would not be research" ;-) ). There are many ways this can go pear-shaped, but I applaud the aim, and the proposal is plausible enough to investigate further. It is an audacious and exciting proposal.

This scheme will need a rethink when going to the outer planets such as Jupiter, or its moon Europa, given the much lower intensity of solar radiation. Some other source of electric power will be needed.

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