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* Posts by Michael H.F. Wilkinson

2546 posts • joined 24 Apr 2007

Are biofuels Europe's sh*ttiest idea ever?

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
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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Coat

@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
Silver badge
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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Hard luck lads, todger size DOES matter: Official

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy

Ig Nobel prize nominee

if ever there was one. Also suitable for the "Scientists now know" and "Boys will be boys" sections of Annals of Improbable Research

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MISSING LINK between HUMANS and MONKEYS FOUND

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Re: ObJoke

Millennium hand and shrimp, I told em I told em, they'd only run out, buggrit, buggrem, doorsteps, I told em, I told em, don't try the blarney gobble on me, juggins, buggrit, buggrit, millennium hand and shrimp

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US Navy blasts drones with ship-mounted LASER CANNON

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Coat

Re: Are they serious?

So the full name of the ship is not USS Ponce da Quirm?

Mine is the one with "Eric" in the pocket

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The ten SEXIEST computers of ALL TIME

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Thinking Machines

Oh yes! We had a CM-5 in our computer centre. That was seriously cool. The Cray J-932 right next to it mainly had an ultra-cool power led (rectangular, 1 x 10 cm or so affair), but the CM-5 looked like it would fit in in the higher budget class of SF movie.

The Elan Enterprise brings back memories, I used to have an Enterprise 128 as a kid. These had a nifty expansion slot at the side which allowed all sorts of people (students too) to build their own extensions (I once saw a working (!!) home-brew 4MB hard drive attached to one). It was a lot easier to get on with than the CDC-6600 (aka Cyber 74) on which I did my first computer practicals.

Is there no nostalgia icon?

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Website which 'could have prevented Rwandan genocide' goes live

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Back in the days . . .

The BOFH had a field day having his boss shout all the forbidden words "to build up a database" of forbidden words for their newfangled speech recognition software, as I recall.

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Hate speech not the best indicator

Very true, I do not doubt. You often see people of different ethnicity living side by side harmoniously during good times. It is when the economy goes down the toilet that people like to point the finger of blame to anyone who looks different (god forbid I am to blame, after all). Sad but very human, I am afraid. Much the same happened in former Yugoslavia.

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Re: Cue a random word generator.

Like swut, joojooflop, and turlingdrome?

So long as they don't start saying Belgium (whoops)

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Pyongyang to unleash NUKULAR horsemen of the Norkocalypse?

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Seriously Dave?

I somehow doubt you could do that unnoticed by any satellite. If anything elongated an of the right size is loaded onto a ship or barge, rest assured something up there will read the serial numbers (OK not quite perhaps, but close enough).

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Hold on! Degrees for all doesn't mean great jobs for all, say profs

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Joke

Re: It's whether the degree is *hard* or *soft*

If we want to be scientific about it, we should have a hardness measure for degrees. Before embarking into a formal definition of this hardness, we could at least devise an informal scale similar to Mohs scale in mineralogy: Hardness scale 10 might be a PhD in quantum physics or cosmology, whereas hardness 1 would be a bachelor in underwater basket weaving.

Furthermore, I propose that very hard degrees must come with a diploma or certificate that is hard enough to be used to whack potential employers around the head. The softest degrees should come with a fluffy pink certificate.

Note that hardness has no repercussion for usefulness in a particular trade or profession. A quantum physicist might be of limited use in a nursing home.

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NASA rules out leading new human lunar expedition

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: It's not the same without Neil anyway

Is it me, or are managers (and politicians of course, always hard to keep vermin out) in charge at NASA, rather than engineers, kick-arse test pilots, and people with vision?

Pity, NASA gave me some of my fondest childhood memories.

Having said that, there are still some awesome projects they do carry off. You have to just love those Mars rovers, to name just one example (OK, three). They show there are still star engineers at NASA.

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How I nearly sold rocket windows to the crazy North Koreans

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Mixed lessons from history?

The story I heard was that the Russians bought one Nene engine (legally) and said, thank you very much, we will copy them, without bothering about licences, but I might well be wrong. Both stories are equally believable: A government cynically copying stuff developed elsewhere or an arms manufacturer cynically selling military gear to anybody with enough cash.

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Hubble boffins: Incredibly old supernova could explain EVERYTHING

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Happy

Re: Ever wondered if...

The nearest supernova remnant to you is you, but it goes a bit far to point to a distant (actually, close by on a cosmological scale) supernova in Messier 101 a year or two back and say (in a high pitched voice) MUMMY!!!, as I heard one amateur astronomer do at a star party.

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Pyongyang Photoshop tomfoolery shows wet Norks, skirts blown up

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Thumb Up

Re: That's a lot of eels!

Stealthiest Monty Python link of the decade, methinks.

My nipples explode with delight!

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60-inch Apple iTV to be controlled by iRing remote?

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Coat

Doessss thissss mean ....

I can marry my TVsessss, my preciousssss?

I'll get me coat

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Kiwi boffins bid up Earth-like planet prediction

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Its an interesting idea...

A problem with bigger stars is that they burn up much more quickly. They also output much more UV. Besides, smaller stars are far more numerous, so it does not make much sense to go for the big ones

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Joke

Re:"If we did leave the solar system, where should we go?"

And when they find a perfect planet, somebody is bound to say:

Yeah, but you know how it is with travel destinations: they look all shiny in the brochure, but when you get there the landing strip is awful, the customs officers rude, the taxi driver rips you of and drives you to your hotel which hasn't even been built yet, the sand on the beach scorching hot, but the sea is freezing cold for some reason, and it's polluted, and the Germans have taken all the towels and deckchairs, the food is awful and the toilets wont flush, the next-door kids will making far too much noise and the disco next door means you can't sleep a wink!

We might just as well stay at home or go to Southend-on-Sea

Such people should be sent of on a B-Ark to a small blue-green planet at the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the galaxy.

Oh, hang on.....

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ANCIENT CURSED RING known to TOLKIEN goes on display

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Coat

Alternatively you could name your servers

Ankh, Morpork, Quirm, Pseudopolis, Lancre, Genua, Sto Lat, ..........

Here they used Pallas, Zeus, and Poseidon. I got some blank stares from the CIT crowd (Philistines, the lot of them ;-) ) when I suggested Offler, Om, and Nuggan

I'll get me coat!

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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"The only similarity is that both rings are round!"

As J.R.R. Tolkien said when a (Swedish, I think) translator drew lengthy comparison with Wagner's "Ring des Nibelungen." I think the museum is hoping to ride on the popularity of the film to draw in visitors (can't blame them).

Magic rings abound in myths and legends, and Tolkien new many (Kalevala, Mabinogion, Edda, etc.), and inspiration has many sources. Also, in the Hobbit, the ring is simply a handy tool, and only in the LotR does it become sinister.

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Why does our galaxy spiral?

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Interesting simulation

I have seen spiral arms develop in simulations of collisions of galaxies run by a colleague at the astronomy department, where they appear to be material structures. I must have a look at the paper later.

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Boffin

Interesting simulation

When I did astronomy at the Kapteyn Institute (in the 1980s), a similar theory floated about, which suggested the spiral arms are essentially a compression wave running through the gas and dust, triggering star formation in spiral patterns, and the hot, short-lived stars lit up the surrounding gas with their UV radiation. Shortly after the wave passed, the bright stars burnt up, and the amount of light decreased, without the total mass density changing much. The theory behind this simulation runs along a similar pattern, although in the 1980s simulating anything this big was impossible, of course.

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Veiny green 'scum' meteorite may be first visitor from Mercury

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Coffee/keyboard

Re: "Almost-planet Vesta"

New keyboard please

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Very interesing indeed

Curious looking stone as well (good-looking scum, one might say)

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Rocket boffinry in pictures: Gulp the Devil's venom and light a match

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Happy

Re: Kerbal Space Programme....

Nor does Goddard. He made a few contributions.

The thing we really need is an infinite improbability drive, so if anybody can give me a Bambleweeny 57 sub-meson brain hooked up to an atomic vector plotter, I will supply the cup of really hot tea and feed in the improbability of the infinite improbability drive.

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I've got a super free multi-petabyte storage box for you: /dev/null

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Joke

I think many of us share the view that we should archive all plans from middle management (and indeed many government plans as well) in /dev/null. It can be done without any loss of real information

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Dragon capsule makes fiery entrance, safe splashdown

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Pint

And rightly so!

I'll see your pint and raise you another one!

That image brings back very fond memories of the Apollo era.

Go SpaceX, go!

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GCHQ attempts to downplay amazing plaintext password blunder

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Coffee/keyboard

The sound you hear

is that of crypto-experts past (Alan Turing included) spinning in their graves

Hilarious blunder, especially coming from GCHQ

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CERN re-opens 'Animal Shelter for Computer Mice'

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: There's Comic Sans Again

The Higgs font?

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Experts doubt Anonymous Mossad spy outing claims are kosher

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Facepalm

Members of the Israeli Defense Forces?

Given that military service is compulsory for most Israelis (quite a few orthodox Jews are exempt, despite being very militant), and can be called up at any time as reservists, it might be quicker to list those Israelis not in the IDF.

Just my tuppence

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Not kosher?

Indeed, horse is not kosher

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Curiosity out of safe mode, doing science again

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Boffin

Re: Wot no checksums?

Even the best error correcting codes fail in practice when the signal is drowned out by MASSIVE random noise output by the sun. It would be like trying to shout at somebody on the other side of a football pitch while Motörhead are doing a gig in between. I think you will find that quite tricky (this is why people text each other in the disco, instead of talking).

Now make the football pitch a few hundred million km across, and replace Motörhead's few ten's of kilowatts of power by 3.9x10^26 Watts, and you get the picture.

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iPads in education: Not actually evil, but pretty close

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Coffee/keyboard

Re: "... Fondleslab: Jus' say 'AarrghaarrghpleeassennononoUGH'"

Precisely

And of course, when a troll fondles a slab the fingers go through the screen

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Why do people put forward the idea that iPads are good for art?

My kids much prefer to get their hands (and everything else in a 5 furlong radius) dirty with REAL paint, or real clay, rather than using a screen (they also like that, but the real deal is more fun).

I also totally agree that a device on which you cannot programme, and which is not sergeant-Detritus-proof, is not a good tool for IT in the classroom.

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Lightspeed variable say intellectuels français

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Coat

Re: Can you spare me the trip, too?

I thought the shortest possible time was the New-York second: the time between the traffic light turning green in front of you and the yellow cab behind you honking its horn.

Mine is the one with "The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul" in the pocket

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Furious Stephen Fry blasts 'evil' Reg and 'TW*T' Orlowski

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

None are so clearly upset ...

as those who repeatedly claim not to be upset.

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GE puts new Nvidia tech through its paces, ponders HPC future

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Happy

Cool, seriously cool!

We live in such exciting times. I several algorithms which could benefit from much faster global access (and just more processing grunt, but that goes without saying). I do worry how to harness the power embedded in your typical GPU architecture. They do not seem to like data-driven processing order much. Scientifically, that is a challenge of course, not a problem.

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Help save the endangered QUANTUM OWL, pleads Reg man

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Thumb Up

I will join

Even if, living in the Netherlands, I might not reap the full benefits. This is an important institution which is very worthy of my support

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Oi, Microsoft, where's my effin' toolbar gone?

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Joke

Re: What is this article supposed to be?

You are all misunderstanding it. It a very cunning advert for LaTeX. If you adjust your monitor settings properly, the message "LaTeX RULES!!" can be made out in the background.

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LOHAN fans drawn to magnetic coupling

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

Re: How about a "BIGGER HAMMER" variant of flaming

Good point. Maybe coat it with potassium perchlorate, for that extra oomph.

I just love things that go BANG

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Flame

How about a "BIGGER HAMMER" variant of flaming

Use a strip of magnesium as a conductor. In the path of the rocket exhaust it should burn up readily (brightly).

There might be a delay, but it does not rely on melting

And then I just love the extra fireworks display

Icon, because, ..... well guess

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Experts finger disk-wiping badness used in S Korea megahack

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Joke

Long, Dark Teatime of the Seoul

It could be the South Koreans doing it to fellow South Koreans they happen to dislike, and give them a excuse to attack North Korea with similar means. This suggests they are in the third stage of warfare according to Douglas Adams:

1. Retribution: I am going to kill you because you killed my brother

2. Anticipation: I am going to kill you because I killed your brother

3. Diplomacy: I am going to kill my brother and then kill you on the pretext that your brother did it.

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Space probe spies MYSTERY 'Cold Spot' in very fabric of cosmos itself

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Coat

Re: The cold spots...

Could be worse, it could be the Azgoths of Kria

"Ode to a small lump of green putty I found under my left armpit one midsummer morning" anyone?

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Voyager goes off a (helio) cliff

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Pint

Going places

I remember seeing the Voyager launches on the news. I followed all the planetary fly-bys. That thing is really going places. Almost makes me feel lonesome (and certainly small)

A toast to all engineers and scientists involved!

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Brit web biz waves white flag in Python trademark bout

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Coat

Originally they wanted to call the service "Monty" ...

I'll get me coat

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Refusal to swallow scuppers woman's tadpole-smuggling plan

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Joke

She should have brought dried frog pills instead

so she could hallucinate she was sane.

but then she would probably be able fly without needing a plane

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