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* Posts by Michael H.F. Wilkinson

2534 posts • joined 24 Apr 2007

Nanodot memory smashes RAM, sets new speed record

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Boffin

Re: maybe i'm stupid

why do you think we have fast caches for chips? Imagine the entire memory working at the speed of the CPU. That would be awesome.

At the moment, I have to think hard about cache friendly processing orders. Getting it wrong can incur a 10-fold speed penalty, easily. If have a set of for-loops to traverse an image, having the x-coordinate loop outside the y-coordinate loop is tens times slower than the reverse, because of the way images are stored (row by row). A step in x moves to the next element in memory (= cache hit with standard read-ahead), whereas a step in y steps a whole row of data further, yielding a cache miss.

Such simple cases are easily sorted out, but some image processing has data-driven processing orders, very frequently requiring odd memory jumps. In these cases getting rid of latency is a godsend. Also, think of multi-core: ensuring cache coherence is a pain. Older Cray machine had no cache, and the memory worked at the speed of the CPU. This is much simpler and yields much better parallelization.

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Biologists create synthetic DNA capable of EVOLUTION

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Re: and to think...

Clearly none of you have read the opening page of "Good Omens" by Pratchett and Gaiman properly!

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Pirate

WHAT?

Nobody welcomes our XNA-based overlords?

After all, we all know how this ends in SF films

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Killers laugh in face of death penalty threat, say US experts

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Can you imagine 70 years or so in a prison,

knowing you aren't getting out?

Good point. I sometimes wonder if even for the likes of Khadafi or Saddam Hussein, being put in prison for the long haul and being treated as if you were ordinary would not be the worst possible punishment for those types.

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Battlefield Earth ruled worst film EVER

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy

I must have an unerring instinct for avoiding these bad movies. I have not seen a single one of them (so I will have to take other peoples' words for the lack of quality), except a few dislocated fragments of Highlander II, whilst flicking around channels as it was on one of them, couldn't be arsed to stay on that channel for obvious reasons. Even in my state of boredom at the time that film did nothing to make me want to see it.

Not that I have not seen some cringeworthy films in my time. I saw "Once upon a time in the west" in a showing at my student union donkey's years back. It had some good bits, but so many silent, LOOOONG drawn out scenes, and pointless close-ups of people looking constipated as they are waiting (endlessly) for the other to draw first. I felt like shouting "Come on, shoot the guy, get on with it!" but I kept my peace for the sake of the other people watching. Afterwards, it turned out about 80% of the audience felt the same way.

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Mayor Boris' Chinese vote master stroke backfires on twit clone

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Good old Boris!

You can rely on him for comedy at least, ans politicians you can rely on on any topic at all are rare enough.

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Fusion-io shoves OS aside, lets apps drill straight into flash

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Hmm

Were are getting a compact little monster for giga-pixel and later tera-pixel image processing coming Monday: 64 cores, 512 GB RAM, 6 1TB disks in RAID, and a 320 GB Fusion-IO card. I do not think I will let my students loose on this API just yet. First let them code in a transparent portable way, and only then (maybe, just maybe) check whether this API has any benefit (which I doubt).

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Swiss, German physicists split the electron

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Re: Hmm, I wonder what the fundamental particle of rabid control-freakery is called?

I prefer the Politicion. It comes in three quantum "flavours": Labour, Conservative, and Libdem. When observed before an election, the three flavours are distinctly observable. After an election Conservative and Labour turn out to be identical in terms of greed, incompetence, and all other observable quantum properties, and Libdem vanishes.

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: The seperation of spin . . .

Yes, but creatively. We might of course find that politics is nothing but spin, and taking spin away leaves nothing but emptiness (or a residue of hot air at most).

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Oakley: 'smart' sunglasses ready to shine

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

But are they peril sensitive?

Well, are they?

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PLANET-SWAP shock: Stars grabbed dirtballs from other clusters

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Cue planetary racism: we do not like your type here, you do not belong here really!

But maybe planets of a certain age have gained wisdom, rather than becoming stupid with more authority (as Lu Tse said in "Thief of Time")

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Austrian village considers a F**king name change

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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And in Austria you can stay in Camping Hell

In the Zillertal to be precise. At least they are honest, one might say.

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China's bullet trains to get face-invading cameras

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Joke

Re: One way the software may work better

Au contraire! Some criminals do regularly get their nose bridges realigned. Not necessarily voluntarily, I'll grant. As I recall a usual start of such a procedure is "What yer lookin' at?!!"

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Quite simply really

In true style, you should wear a Guy Fawkes mask, shouldn't you?

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Re: The problem...

Conveniently, a criminal is defined as anyone recognized by the system as being a criminal. Hey, look! Our system makes no mistakes!

What? Do you say our system makes mistakes? That is criticism of the Party! You must be a criminal!

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POWERFUL solar flare belched at Mars rover Curiosity

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Coat

Unfurl the solar sails and pick up a tail wind!

If only it could ;-)

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SpaceX Dragon gets green-light for launch to Space Station

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Pint

A toast to Elon Musk and his team! They will be first on Mars, I bet.

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Global chocolate crisis looms

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Childcatcher

WON"T SOMEONE THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!!!!!

and those that haven't grown up

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Himalayan glaciers actually GAINING ice, space scans show

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Joke

Re: Then lets take the financial incentive away

Unfortunately, politicians only know how to take financial incentives away by taking the finances away. This does change the scientific outcome, in that there is less science. Please do not give the powers that be any ideas

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Thumb Up

Good news for snow leopards.

The real beasts that is, not the OS (which by all accounts was and is doing well).

Also good news for the scientific debate. Basing theories on shaky data is like building on quicksand. Better data are always a boon.

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So what's the worst movie NEVER made?

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Joke

Re: Re: The Teletubbies

Unfair! The Predator's brains would implode after watching just one episode of teletubbies

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: retelling of Heart of Darkness

"This too was one of the dark places of the world"

That start of storytelling by Marlow is just great. It is very hard to top. Then there is the crazy case of the lone French cruiser shelling the amorphous jungle while its crew members are dying at a rate of fifteen a day from disease. They still keep to their task of shelling the "enemy" who is totally invisible.

So my question has to be: Does Heart of Darkness need retelling? I am not against retelling and reshaping stories (that has been going on through history). Even great stories can grow in retelling, and retelling can get people to read the original. The original in this case is very powerful indeed. Much as I liked Apocalypse Now, I still prefer reading Heart of Darkness. Does it need retelling in SF?

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Valiant effort for a really poor film script!!

However, you risk going over the top and becoming hilariously funny. The simpler method would probably be simply giving Michael Bay a very big budget and whatever you do do not interfere with his decisions. The man has an unerring instinct in getting it wrong. He could be considered the Bergholt Stuttley Johnson of cinema.

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Euro climate probe Envisat silenced, boffins baffled

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Joke

This is your satellite help line

For communication problems, press 1

For launch failures, press 2

For attitude problems, press 3

For software failure, press 4,

To speak directly with some guy who knows nothing about the problem either, press 0

0

Is your satellite dish pointing the right way?

Have you tried rebooting the satellite?

Did you try switching it on and off?

Have you tried reinstalling Windows?

How old is your software? I am sorry, we do not support that version anymore

<CLICK>

Seriously though, excellent engineering to keep something working for 10 years, we are so used to things failing just outside of warranty.

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Life on Mars found – in 1976

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Boffin

Isn't life a physical process?

The presence of pink noise is not a proof of life. Many physical processes (including life, in my book at least) produce forms of pink noise. If a white noise random source is effectively filtered by some damping process you will typically get similar effects.

If they were really sure of their results, would they not submit this to Nature or Science? I will read the article more carefully, but I have my doubts.

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Judge: Checking Facebook at work is not a crime

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Childcatcher

Re: WHT IS THIS WORLD COMING TO

WON'T SOMEONE THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!!!!

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Death Star dinosaur aliens could rule galaxy

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy

Question:

What were these guys smoking?

I want some

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Pint

Re: FTL Velociraptors

And a packet of peanuts I trust

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German scientists link two labs with ‘universal quantum network’

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Maybe because

people who do not believe in carbon dating are outdated?

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Japanese bank palms off customers with biometric ATMs

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Looks like you need their whole hand

Ever been to Japan?

It is just about the safest country on this planet. Tourists getting mugged in Japan is unheard of. In Tokyo half the bikes I saw parked there were unlocked (no kidding). If this scheme is going to work anywhere, it is in Japan.

Incidentally, it is possible to use Doppler laser scanners to check blood is flowing in veins of the hand, to check it is a real hand (I do not know if these scanners support this).

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Employers' group: New comp sci GCSE driven by vendor agenda

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

We have similar problems in the Netherlands

Initially, ICT courses at schools were really a mess, consisting of rote learning which shortcut key did what in MS Word or even WordPerfect (shudder). Now things are improving slightly, and some programming is entering. The results are very mixed however, and many think VB is all there is. As an experiment, I allowed one student (of Technology Management specializing in IT) to hand in one assignment in VB rather than Java. It was a total pile of crud, without any structure, sensible object hierarchy (or proper comments). In fact he had simply searched the API for soe suitable library calls, and lashed these together in one monolithic lump. He had managed to create an app that sort of worked with minimal effort, but I would not call that programming.

I am not saying that VB is bad per se. After all, I have seen many horrible examples of code in any language you care to name, and well-structured pieces of x86 assembly in my time. My point is that this boy had not learned any programming discipline. What is needed is a programme which gets the enthusiasm of kids fired, and teaches them rigour in analysis and implementation (and pick one (or two) of many suitable toolboxes out there). Not an easy task, perhaps, but we are trying as a university to reach out to teachers to show them what is possible, and have some of our students develop stuff for use in the classroom. There is a small, but steadily growing band of teachers who are really developing good materials out there.

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Ten... Kitchen Gadget Treats

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Happy

Love the Imperia pasta machine

My kids love to crank the handle, so no need for a motorized version. Makes great ravioli too.

I have one Japanese knife as well (not the one shown). It is a three layer sandwich of softer but tougher stainless steel on the outside, with harder, but more brittle carbon steel in the centre forming the cutting edge. My brother brought it from Japan. It stays sharp in part due to the fact that the missus does not dare use it.

I would also put the Porkert No 8 meat grinder (tin plated cast iron affair, mine is made in Czechoslovakia, it is that old) on the list. Brilliant piece of kit to make your own pate and terrine. Again, the kids crank the handle, so I can relax.

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Chinese coders beat all-comers

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Dueling Headlines

The question is whether people are duds because they are rotten coders, or because they lack other skills. I have had some very good students from China (really top of the class), but receive many applications for PhD positions written in such poor English I would not dream of accepting them, however good their coding skills. Being a good IT worker requires more than just coding skills. Besides, there is a huge pool of recruits in China, so even if the top ones beat our top ones, there is plenty of space for duds down below.

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Vintage alien tech crash-lands in field

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

So the aliens are:

Dick Dastardly and Muttley!

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Dark matter hits you once a minute

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Happy

Better WIMPs than MACHOs

MACHOs (MAssive Cold Halo Objects) are another proposed source of dark matter: orphan planets and other regular material that is simply too cold to see easily. Being hit by an orphan planet would be a once in a lifetime experience.

Therefore: as below, so above: Being hit by a macho is worse than being hit by a wimp.

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Mega-star HD 10180 could have more planets than the Sun

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Boffin

Bode's law is really the result of gravity and time

Bode's law was quite mysterious, until people realised that the curious sequence of orbital radii of planets meant an equally curious sequence of orbital periods (see Kepler's second law). Effectively, a sequence of orbits obeying Bode's law have simple resonances between the orbits. This increases stability. Over time, we would expect planetary systems to stabilize into orbits which obey this law.

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Whisky IN SPAAAAACE: Zero-G Scotch is matured aboard the ISS

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Pint

If the whisky does get back to earth

we must really salute the astronauts' and cosmonauts' restraint.

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Headmaster

Re: Of course we must have Scotch Whiskey in space....

contradiction in terms:

Scotch Whiskey

Scotch whisky now, is another matter. It reminds of an man "kindly" asked to leave the premises of a Scottish "watering hole" after asking for a Bourbon.

He does still have his own teeth, as I recall

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CSIRO patent-trolls ALL OF AMERICA!

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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"Doing the science, but leaving the commercialization to the private sector, is not patent trolling"

Sums it all up. I have been to the CSIRO in Sydney, great place to do research, when they patent something, take it seriously. "Ars Technica" suddenly reads "Arse Technica" as seen from down-under, I suppose.

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Nature ISN'T fragile nor a bossy mother-in-law - top eco boffin

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

Re: But what is the "balanced view"?

I simply mean that if each side demonize the other, we do not get anywhere.

Making money is not evil in any way, nor is preserving nature. It is not wrong to hunt, or cut down trees, it is wrong to hunt creatures to extinction, and wantonly cutting down trees in such a way that whole forests disappear. A forest can be productive, and yet be a nature reserve (many are). If creating large nature reserves means chasing farmers off their land, you not going to make any friends. It causes resentment, and locals often start justifying poaching. If you make nature reserves that include sustainable farms, sustainable wood production, sustainable hunting and tourism, you get a win-win situation. Locals then tend to help track poachers, rather than be the poachers. You do not have to go to Africa for good examples. In the Netherlands many farmers contribute to care for the environment.

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Thumb Up

Interesting piece. It has strong echoes of how someone like Darwin saw nature. In excerpts of his journal published in "A Narrative of the Voyage of HMS Beagle" his descriptions of landscapes and natural scenes are surprisingly utilitarian, focusing very much of how the landscape could be used to man's benefit. Not at all what many modern environmentalists would expect.

I think Kareiva is dead right that a more balanced view is needed. I have seen several efforts to set up reservations and protect species at the expense of the local population in Africa fail. Likewise I have seen other efforts in which the local population benefits be highly successful. Not really surprising when you think of it.

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Arizona bill makes it illegal to 'annoy or offend' online

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Joke

Ted Nugent? Rush Limbaugh?

This bill (now amended and dying or dead) could have been used to sue Ted Nugent, who openly threatened the President and Hilary Clinton (and assorted others) with a gun in one of his rants. Rush Limbaugh (in the way he described a certain student who testified before congress) could be seen as insulting and harassing using obscene language (i.e. business as usual). He too could be sued. Did the Republicans involved realize this? If so, they might be commended for trying to deal with extremist views from people who claim to be on their side. If not, they might have made the amendments and killed it because they collectively went "oops."

As others have said, you cannot legislate for good manners. Besides, notions of what is acceptable change. We can now say "swut", "jujuflop" and turlingdrome" and know we are healthy, well-adjusted and completely un*****-up personalities. So long as we do not say "Belgium"

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Feathered Tyrannosaurus uncovered in China

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Coat

Did it taste like chicken?

Sorry, I'll get me coat

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Help Astronomers in Britain

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Help Astronomers in Britain

Light pollution is a huge problem for (amateur) astronomers. Nobody is suggesting we switch of all the lights at night, but a lot of unnecessary lights could be turned off or dimmed.

There is an e-petition here on cutting back light pollution and energy waste at the same time. All British citizens and anyone living in the UK can sign.

Thanks

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Browsium rescues HMRC from IE6 – and multimillion-pound bill

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Coat

Is it just me,

or does Browsium sound like a Discworld element like Narrativium?

Mine is the one with "Thud" in the pocket

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iPhone fanbois enraged by Instagram's Android triumph

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Coat

Re: iPhone users <> Apple fanbois

or:

Pascal programmers .NE. Real programmers

Mine is the one with the Fortran 77 Manual

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Prehistoric monster snake crushed prey under 1.5 Brooklyn Bridges

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Boffin

"so could this thing lift the Brooklyn Bridge?"

Yes, and so can you. If I give you a long enough and strong enough lever and a place to stand you can lift the world, as Archimedes would say (but then in Greek)

;-)

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Blighty's new top supercomputer bagged by software boffins

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy

Re: Yes

quite likely

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Coat

But will it run Crysis?

Mine is the one with the MPI manual in the pocket

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Condom compartment hidden in iPhone case

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Joke

According to "Good morning Vietnam!"

the sizes are:

Large

Medium

Caucasian

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