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* Posts by Michael H.F. Wilkinson

2490 posts • joined 24 Apr 2007

DAMN you El Reg, CALL ME A BOFFIN, demands enraged boffin

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Weren't the Boffins related to the Bagginses?

Or was that the Bulgers?

Sorry, I'll get me coat

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Shock!

Boffins really, really need a sense of humour. If you cannot poke fun at life, the universe, and everything, you might end up starting to take yourself and (worse) your ideas way to seriously. You might even end up believing in them, which totally scuppers your critical attitude. A good capacity for self-deprecation or even self mockery is important in science.

This is why I like writing the odd paper for Annals of Improbable Research. Must get that paper on pasta-antipasta collision experiments finished.

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Texan parks quadcopter atop Dallas Cowboys stadium

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Dallas, we have a problem

Sorry, couldn't resist

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Plucky Playmonaut bails out of smoking Vulture 2

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Luckily the story is supported by evidence

otherwise it would be seen as a canard about a canard

OK, OK, I'm off!

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Boffins publish SciFi story to announce exoplanet find

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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I wonder

if they will be raising a glass at the Kapteyn Astronomical Institute here in Groningen.

I sure will (as if I need such an excuse)

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AMD tops processor evolution with new mobile Kaveri chippery

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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hUMA is very interesting

For many problems, getting things to work efficiently on a GPU is limited by the small working memory of the stream processors, and the costs of transferring data to and from this working memory. Besides, certain tasks have parts best performed on the CPU, and other parts better suited to the GPU, be removing the need to pump data from one memory partition to another, speeds could increase dramatically.

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Balls to the World Cup: Brazuca wins in the wind

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: I remember the old leather footballs

Concrete AND nails?! That's, posh, that is

We would have just LOVED to have concrete. We had a ball of depleted uranium (IF we were lucky), and died of radiation poisoning after EVERY game, and our dad would come and dance on our grave and sing "Hallelujah!"

And if you tell kids they never believe a word of what you are saying

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Spammer sprung to run Russian national payment system

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Going Postal ...

springs to mind. As does "Making Money"

Although in this case one wonders if the "angel" was bought. After all, I would hesitate to equate Havelock Vetinari to Vladimir Putin. Someone might raise an eyebrow at that

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How to grill an EMC division chief

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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If you grill an EMC division chief

does it smell like bacon?

Sorry, cross-talk with other thread. All that talk of bacon has made me hungry

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Watch: Sun BELCHES PLASMA large enough to ENGULF 35 EARTHS

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Great video at stunning resolution

The sun has been very active over the weekend too, some massive prominences visible. I imaged one which was still active this morning. Hugely fascinating object, that sun of ours

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ASUS launches 5-in-1 Android Windows Phone laptop tablet (breathe)

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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That device is perfect ...

to freak out my missus. While she is working in windows mode, and slips out to make a cup of coffee, slip in the phone (which is behind the screen and therefore not visible), tap the screen, and sit back to observe the ensuing panic. As my wife panics whenever a button or menu is shifted in software she demanded me to install, I cannot imagine the degree of panic caused by an "inexplicable" change in OS.

Tempting, very tempting

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Readers' choice: What every small-business sysadmin needs

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Like

the mention of the cattleprod

but then I love the sound of KZZZEEERT in the morning

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Fat-fingered admin downs entire Joyent data center

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Fat fingers or ...

BOFH keyboard, or BOFH control centre

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What can The Simpsons teach us about stats algorithms? Glad you asked...

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Or you plot the data or residuals at check out if the linear trend you are assuming is evident.

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Not just government officials, but many others in big data. Too often they assume that arbitrary aggregation will result in better statistics (e.g., because the standard error in the mean is reduced), whereas all too often piling up data from different sources in fact obscures certain effects.

Well-written article again.

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Did NASA probe detect a KILLER GAMMA-RAY burst in Andromeda?

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Off-axis in this context means outside the centre of the field of view of the instrument. Raw brightness data from many instruments need correction for contamination from nearby bright sources.

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: NASA have changed their mind

Pity

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: That could mean a VERY bright supernova in visible light

I do not doubt that (in the words of sir Patrick Moore) this will have "all the crackpots crawling out of the woodwork". A type 1a in M31 would be about magnitude 5, but that would not cause a GRB-like event. I would expect this to be brighter (although much depends on extinction by dust)

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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That could mean a VERY bright supernova in visible light

Naked eye most likely. I'll be getting out the bins the moment the clouds clear (not likely at the moment), but supernovae last quite a while, so we should get to see it.

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Watch: Kids slam Apple as 'BORING, the whole thing is BORING'

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy

Re: When I were a lad

LUXURY!

We would have LOVED to have a hoop, people with hoops were posh.

All WE had was a broken twig, but we were happy!

</Yorkshire accent>

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Tech that we want (but they never seem to give us)

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Slood?

sorry, I'll get me coat

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Print dialogs

Or printers that do not refuse to print a black and white document just because the yellow ink has run out (again!). Funnily enough, some Linux printer drivers will allow B&W printing, whereas the windows version won't

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Beautiful balloon burst caught on camera

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Wonderful footage and images

One to show my kids for sure

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CERN: Build terabit networks or the Higgs gets it!

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Alternatively

You need to realise that 1 PB/s is 0.02% of what is detected. 99.8 or so % is discarded on detectors "boards" already, before it hits the first cable.

Very true.

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Alternatively

True, as a scientist you do not like throwing away anything, but with projects like LOFAR, SKA, and the like there is little other option. One trick in the case of LHC-like is to store the detected tracks in a parametric way rather than storing every point that made up the track. That makes a big difference. Might we miss things? Certainly, can we store all the data for later reuse? Not at the moment.

You really want to be able to do both. Processing faster to get the information from the data and store every bit quickly.

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Alternatively

They need faster data reduction methods. We are actually working on much faster processing methods to extract the information from the raw data, so the raw data need not all be stored before processing. They do use preprocessing methods for reducing storage now, but existing methods do not scale well, so for ever faster data rates better, lower complexity algorithms are needed.

Not that I would mind kit with the specs they want. I want that too. And not to run Crysis!

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Facebook wants to LISTEN IN on the songs and vids playing in YOUR living room

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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I would let them listen to an endless tape with Marvin's autobiography

That should do it.

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Boffin fights fire with EXPLOSIVES instead of water

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: It's not going to scale up to wildfire size

NUKE THE FIRE FROM ORBIT

It's the only way to be sure

Sorry, couldn't resist. Mine is the one with the Aliens DVD in the pocket

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Scientists capture DEATH STAR in VIOLENT EXPLOSION

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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First-rate boffinry!

Really interesting stuff.

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Fuel for jets DOES grow on trees

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Fetch us a ..... SHRUBBERY!!!!!

I nice one.

And not to expensive!

NI!

sorry, couldn't resist, mine is the one with the Holy Grail DVD in the pocket

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Microsoft Surface 3 Pro: Flip me over, fondle me up

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Screen too small?

I actually rather like my 13" laptop (16:10 ratio, rather than 16:9). I am looking to replace it by a 13-14", no bigger. I am also very happy with my 10" ASUS transformer pad. That seems to be a MUCH better format for a tablet/laptoplet(or notebooklet) than this offering from MS, and gives me 15-16 hours of use (with less grunt, but I get that from my laptop. I do not mind having two or three devices, but maybe I am weird (i.e. not the category the marketeers are interested in)

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Achtung! Use maths to smash the German tank problem – and your rival

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Nice one again

Had not heard of this one. Very interesting read. Looking forward to the rest of the series

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FINGERS CROSSED: Apple and Samsung said to be hammering out settlement

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Or...

Maybe a beancounter worked out that the cost in lawyers' fees was outstripping the amount of cash to be gained from a victory

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Uncivil engineering: US society skewers self-published science

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: What happens-

ArXiv is an example. Some journals do not allow you to publish with them if it has been released previously (even some bone-headed reviewers have difficulty with it), but many just see it as an "author accepted" form that is OK.

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Boffin

Copyright transfer forms come in different forms

When you publish with any scientific publisher you almost always have to sign a copyright transfer agreement. Many publishers simply use this as a means to clear themselves of copyright infringement charges, because you have to declare that the material is your own, and you have the right to sign over the copyright to them. Any extraneous material must be covered with a separate permission from the holders (which is never a problem, because the holders are only too happy that their material is being used, and that therefore they are cited).

Some publishers also want exclusive rights to publication, although all I know allow you to use your own work freely in non-commercial publications like e.g. a PhD thesis. Springer in its Lecture Notes in Computer Science requests you not to put your material on-line until one year after publication. It is not a prohibition, but since they ask nicely I tend to comply. IEEE allows you to post your material provided you show a clear copyright statement and state that the material is only provided for quick dissemination of scientific results for research and educational purposes, but not for any commercial use. This is entirely reasonable.

What the ASCE is doing seems a bit harsh, but the authors must read what they are signing. A colleague of mine crosses out any condition he does not like, initials the changes, signs the forms, and sends it in. He has never been challenged on these changes. I suggest all authors in ASCE publications follow that example.

Alternatively, you can publish in open access journals (or use the open access scheme of some journals with hybrid publishing format). Somewhat more expensive, but compared to the cost of doing the research itself it is nothing. You then simply link to the version on the journal's website and everybody can access it.

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BEAM ME UP SCOTTY: Boffins to turn PURE LIGHT into MATTER

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Star Trek Replicators

The only downside of a replicator based on this mechanism is the formation of an anti-hamburger together with your hamburger. It may be a balanced diet, in a manner of speaking, but could lead to explosive indigestion to which the phrase "blast radius" would seem to small (swamp dragons would be jealous)

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'Executed ex' of Norkers' bonkers Kim Jong-un rises FROM THE GRAVE

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Pochonbo Electronic Ensemble

I trust it spells something else when abbreviated in Korean

Deary me, is it that time already?

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Picture special: LOHAN makes fire in the sky at 15,000m

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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I love the smell of ammonium perchlorate in the morning

Packs a punch (or two)

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Urinating teen polluted 57 Olympic-sized swimming pools - cops

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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@ magickmark Re: No way near Homeopathic standards..

Coffee went everywhere when I read this "In quantum parlance, the "wave function" of the particle is said to "collapse" into a specific state (or flask) due to the act of observing. Incidentally, this is why cats resent people staring at them: the constant collapse of their wave function is a strain on their delicate senses". Worthy of Terry Pratchett or Douglas Adams.

WAY too much honour, you are making me blush

I might have a spare keyboard somewhere that I could send you

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: No way near Homeopathic standards..

Thanks! It's been translated to Czech and Spanish much to my amusement.

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: No way near Homeopathic standards..

I wonder whether believers in homeopathy ever worry about the "memory of water" theory. It would certainly worry me, if I believed in it, because one of water's persistent memories must be being piss at many times during its existence.

I once wrote a paper on a quantum mechanical theory homeopathy. It got accepted in Annals of Improbable research. A preprint is here.

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Cloud computing is FAIL and here’s why

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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I can't do that for you, Alistair!

As HAL would say, or as Sirius Cybernetics would have it "Share and Enjoy!!", which does sound better than "Go stick your head in a pig!" but amounts to much the same.

This is my problem with several LaTeX offerings available for Android. All the ones I know require you to be online to actually compile the LaTeX source. Not easy (or affordable if available) somewhere outback in Uganda or the like.

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How to catch a fraudster – using 'top cop' Benford and the power of maths

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Very nice read

We use Benford's Law in some assignments. I'll point students towards this nice informal introduction. Looking forward to the rest of the articles

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Stop bullying SUPER FAT GODZILLA, urge movie stars

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Americanized Godzilla?

Nah, he's into sumo. Perfectly Japanese

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LA air traffic meltdown: System simply 'RAN OUT OF MEMORY'

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: nagative altitudes

Even if the system was designed with a limited altitude range in mind, it still should be able to cope with input outside that range, e.g. by flagging an error in the input. My very first job as a programmer was to write a (half) decent UI for a DOS image processing package written mostly in Pascal. The previous programmer's effort used READ and READLN to get floating point values from the (mainly Dutch) users, which resulted in frequent crashes when users entered 0,23 instead of 0.23. I wrote a simple parser that only assumed it was getting a string of characters, tried to parse it, and flagged syntax and other errors to the user. Not rocket science, but simply going back to basics: does the string of characters entered as input meet the preconditions of the code that is going to use that data, if so, use it, if not, flag an error. This very basic approach ensured that medics could use the program without swearing at the computer several times each day.

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Indian climate boffins: Himalayan glaciers are NOT MELTING

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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"Yes it is!"

"No it isn't"

"Yes it is!"

"No it isn't"

"Yes it is!"

"No it isn't"

"Yes it is!"

"This is not an argument, this is plain contradiction"

"No it isn't"

"Yes it is!"

.....

Sorry, couldn't resist

Mine is the one with Monty's Encylco Pythonia in the pocket

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We're from the SAME DUST CLOUD, BRO: Boffins find Sun's long-lost sibling

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: "...4.5 billion years ago...” Ramirez said. “A lot of things can happen in that amount of time.”

Still haven't invented slood, however

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Interesting

I'll give HD 162826 a wave next time the clouds part and I can do some stargazing

Stellarium is a great (free) tool for finding the star (and much more besides)

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US alliance strengthens LOHAN imaging arsenal

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Last Words

If the heroic playmonaut has a sense of history he will say "Pojechali"

Also used when raising a glass in Russia

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Kudos to David Patterson

Really nice to see such generosity

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