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* Posts by Michael H.F. Wilkinson

2490 posts • joined 24 Apr 2007

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

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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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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iPhone fanbois enraged by Instagram's Android triumph

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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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
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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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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
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Joke

According to "Good morning Vietnam!"

the sizes are:

Large

Medium

Caucasian

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Star's guts turned INSIDE OUT in supernova mega-blast

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Stellar dyspepsia?

A serious case, by the sound of it

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No-strings nookie radar tugged offline in stalking backlash

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Geo-social exploration

Now that is a euphemism to remember:

"I can assure you, I am not looking to get laid! I am conducting a geo-social exploration!"

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Terrafugia flies first prototype: Flying cars 'within a year'

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Ok, if the flying car has been sorted

When will we get jet-packs?

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Steve Jobs biopic

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Re: STEVE BALLMER

SHOULD THAT NOT BE JACK NICHOLSON AND GLENN CLOSE?

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Balmer?

Option 1: Alexei Sayle

Accent may be a problem, but the thought of him chanting "developers, developers, developers!!" in a strong Liverpudlian accent has a strange appeal.

Option 2: Danny DeVito

might have to practice chair flinging, however.

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Coders' 'lives sucked out' by black-and-white Visual Studio 11

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

So will this new IDE work on my old Hercules card?

Just a thought

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What does the Titanic's sinking tell us about modern science?

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Boffin

Re: peer reviewed

You are right that publicly funded work should be available publicly. However, note that in all cases any scientist without access to a journal simply contacts the corresponding author (I still have some of those quaint reprint request postcards in a drawer somewhere). The author emails you the PDF, end of problem. IEEE and some other publishers allow you to put your stuff on the web for research and education purposes, provided a suitable copyright statement is included.

The same holds for code we produce: ask and ye shall receive.

Press releases are NOT under embargo in all cases except one (where patent applications are involved, nothing to do with the publisher), in my experience. In those instances where we want to do a press release, the university takes care of it, and the publisher has no say. We do often let this coincide with the (on-line) publication of the paper, so journalists can check out the paper.

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Use the holy word of God to stay secure online, says bishop

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Isnane or Welsh!

So do you use Llanfairpwyllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch as pass phrase?

Cwmtwrch is a shorter favourite

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Devil

Re: so...

You could always go for:

"Let him who hath understanding reckon the number of the beast, for it is a human number. Its number is 666"

A bit long, but very memorable.

Would be a good BOFH password, once he has given up on "Grievous bodily harm"

Icon, because, well....

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Third European supply podule docks with space station

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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What is this figure in double-decker buses per fortnight?

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy

'Smooth, gentle' mating at 28,000 kph

I trust that is with respect to our earthbound frame of reference, not the speed of the podule with respect to ISS.

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100 EARTH-LIKE PLANETS orbit stars WITHIN 30 LIGHT-YEARS!

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Boffin

Re: The other thing about red dwarfs

They have far less UV radiation output than the sun. Because the temperature is lower. If we put the planet near enough to the red dwarf to be comfy temperature-wise, the amount of shorter wavelengths (including blue light) hitting the atmosphere is less. Charged particles release might be energetic, but with a strong enough magnetic field a planet could be OK. One worry is actually that there is not enough UV and other hard radiation to cause enough mutations to keep evolution ticking over, but that is a rather speculative argument. There are many sources of randomness which could supply enough mutations.

Incidentally, the colour of light emitted by your typical red dwarf equals that of an incandescent light bulb (3200 K colour temperature) to that of a halogen light (3600K). So they are really yellowish red, whereas our "yellow" sun emits white (5800K) light.

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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They avoid us because of cricket!

It's in very bad taste, you know.

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Republicans shoot down proposed ban on Facebook login boss-snoop

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Um, what's a Facebook?

Potential answer if you really do not want the job

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Actively cooled rocket primed for easy re-entry

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Alien

Should this craft not be manned by Kryten?

Looks like the perfect pilot for it

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AVG nukes stalking ads at press of BIG SHINY BUTTON

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Sounds interesting. Might give it a try on the windows machine at home.

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Sitting down all day is killing you

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Cycling

Yer doomed, doomed, DOOOMED!!!!!

Private Fraser

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Pint

Does going to the pub for a quick pint count?

Sounds plausible, especially if we include earlier reports that beer is good for you.

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Female Chinese astronauts must have no scars, straight teeth

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Coffee/keyboard

Re: At least...

genius in its simplicity

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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So male scars are tough and do not bleed?

Was that published in the Journal of Dermatology, or was it Annals of Improbable Research?

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TSA bars security guru from perv scanner testimony

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Couldn't have that, now.

Exactly, we want fact-free politics!

Sounds like they like Gordon Way's inverse expert system: don't reason based on facts to get the best possible conclusion, but enter the desired conclusion beforehand (along with the known facts) and let the program come up with a plausible reasoning to support the conclusion.

Douglas Adams, you are sorely missed!

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Brazilian cops hunt pillaging 'gang of blondes'

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Brazillian policemen chasing blonde women?

is this unusual behaviour?

Sorry, I had to ask. Mine is the one with the ticket to Rio in the pocket.

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OAP sues Apple for $1m after walking into store's glass door

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Lucky lady

Elderly bones can be rather fragile. The septum (which I assume got broken) is not very strong to begin with. It is the only bone I have broken, and I can tell you it is pretty painful. Having it set is not fun either.

I really do not know what happened, so I will not jump to conclusions.

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Giant paper plane thunders across Arizona sky

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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So how many sheets of A4 (sorry, Letter) size paper would be needed?

to get the equivalent amount of paper.

Nice attempt, but could not match PARIS for altitude!

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Americans resort to padlocking their dumb meters

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: No tinfoil hats

Good points.

Really smart meters could be of benefit when you have really smart equipment in the house to negotiate good (=cheap) moments to switch on (like the washing machine automatically picking suitable times to do the washing to minimize cost). Whether there are any benefits now is debatable.

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Tinfoil Cures All

That and duck tape!

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy

Re: All the symptoms described...

"watching too many Republican Party nominees' speeches"

that is a major cause of stress ;-)

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Boffin

$300 savings for the company perhaps,

but what about costs incurred having to visit people to measure usage?

Very high levels of shortwave radio signals (we are talking powerful radar here) have been documented to have adverse health effects. I think some people do a linear interpolation between zero effect at zero W to a handful of points of massive problems in the MW range, with little or no data in the intermediate range. I very much doubt that damage at the levels experienced is real. All the symptoms described (including those of the diabetics) could be explained by stress (caused by the fear of the effects of radio signals, perhaps?). BTW, I am not saying the complaints are not real, I am saying that the cause might be different.

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Baffling barcode-on-steroids stickers plaster the EARTH

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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A QR-code for "42"

is what would like to stick on every QR-code I find.

Mine is the one with the cassette tapes of the Hitchhicker's Guide to the Galaxy radio plays in the pocket

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Hard-up Iceland plumps for cheaper open source

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Boffin

Re: Free stuff

We use Linux (and OS-X and Windows) at our research institute. My own work is mainly on Linux systems (but I am at writing code that is cross-platform portable). I do not consider my work a hobby.

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BOFH: Dawn raid on Fort BOFH

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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The description of the box is spot on, as many have said.

I still have an old 8" floppy somewhere (staggering 128kB capacity). It's got (or at least had) a legit copy of CP/M 2.0 on it. I sometimes fancy lashing up an old 8" drive with a USB interface (where is that soldering iron), and see if I can "upgrade" someone to CP/M 2.0 running on some Z80 emulation software. Unfortunately, I doubt the drivers will be available.

Still, a man can dream.

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Space probe in orbit above Mercury sees signs of polar ice

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Cool!

In more ways than one.

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iPad subsidies axed for Microsoft S&M fanbois

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Pint

Re: Even worse

For some brands of beer, that might be fine, in other cases (fill in your least favourite here) it is cruel and unusual punishment

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Man FLIES with Android-powered homemade bird wings

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Ye cannae break the laws of physics, capt'n!

As Scotty would say. He might well add:

"Powerrr, we need more powerrrr!!"

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Headmaster

Re: Gullable?

page 478, Concise Oxford Dictionary, 6th Edition (and showing its age)

Gullable, I agree is not in that dictionary, though it may be in Ultra-Complete Maximegalon Dictionary of Every Language Ever"

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New supernova pops up just over there

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy

Spotted this on March 19!!

Quite easy through an 8" scope. My fourth supernova to date (seen, not discovered). There is another one in the constellation of Virgo, which I am still hoping to catch.

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Windows 8 tablet freezes in Microsoft keynote demo

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Re: Don't see why the fuss

It's written in Murphy's Laws:

a) The chance of a demo crashing is an increasing function of the number of people watching

b) The chances of a demo running flawlessly is proportional to the inverse of the importance

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Giant planet pileups in far-flung star systems: Computer says yes

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Boffin

Interesting

I doubt this simulation will be the last word, but for now it explains the data quite well. Of course, the observational bias will also be there, but that does not mean the effects simulated do not exist. It does make the "habitable moon scenario" seen in star wars more likely. Whether they are inhabited by bear-like creature who using stone-age technology defeat an army equipped with technology as advanced as faster than light travel is another matter entirely (although the movie did show the physical disadvantages of walking tanks with a comparatively narrow spacing between the legs compared to the height of its centre of mass)

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Pope Benedict in .XXX pro-Islam cybersquat drama

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Did the guy miss paparazzi.xxx?

Just asking

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So, what IS the worst film ever made?

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Mushroom

I want to nominate a film 571 times

U571

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New steganography technique relies on letter shapes

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Re: Why bother with steganography?

Amanfrommars, is that you?

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Re: Yeah, who could possibly tell that a random-appearing string of characters .....?

And besides, a random appearing string of characters might be a program in Perl

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Supersonic silent biplane COMING SOON ...ish

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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I just had this mental image of a supersonic Swordfish hurtling towards Bismarck

Which would be "interesting" for the crew in their open cockpit.

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Austrian daredevil Baumgartner skydives from 71,581ft

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Is LOHAN going to make a playmobil re-enactment of this?

Just asking.

It is exciting when people go after such a long-standing record.

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