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* Posts by Michael H.F. Wilkinson

2358 posts • joined 24 Apr 2007

Backyard astronomer snaps Beta Pictoris dust disk

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Pint

Hang the font!

That is one cool piece of astrophotography! Outstanding!

I will raise a glass to that

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Phobos-Grunt 'crippled by US aurora station', 'is a bio-weapon'

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Joke

More plausible theory:

The shipboard computer of Phobos-Grunt has the all new GPP feature (genuine people personality) and is offended about being given such a silly name, and is moping in orbit. Meanwhile the telemetry system is angry about what the mission control computer said about its software, and is no longer on speaking terms with mission control. Mission control is offended that Phobos-Grunt did want to talk to the Aussies, but not to mother Russia. None want to work before someone else has apologised.

The lesson we learn from this is that the last thing you want is computers with human-like intelligence.

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Radio hams pick up Mars rover Curiosity's signals

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Pint

I'll drink to that!

Brilliant work. They may be amateurs, but they are of an Olympic stature!

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LOHAN fondles substantial concrete buttocks

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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SHAKIRA

Shrapnel and

Heat

Absorbing

Kinetic

Impact

Resisting

Armour

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Scientists probe Earth's core, make mystifying discovery

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Alien

Am I the first to say

That is not a core!

I've got a bad feeling about this!

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Spillover from 400lb man squeezed fellow flier into galley

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Better still

Use an Antonov 225

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Coat

Was it the Dean of Unseen University?

always referred to as "two-chairs".

Mine is the one with the Unseen University logo.

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Exoplanet ranking suggests INTERSTELLAR WAR imminent

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Joke

Wouldn't any Gliesean Spaceship be rendered helpless

by the Trojan which no doubt hitchhiked along with this horrendous guff-blast?

After all, if SF movies are to be believed, all spaceships can be hacked using a Win-XP based laptop or MacBook.

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‘We know where dark matter is hiding’ claim boffins

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Thumb Up

Gotta love the acronyms

WIMPs vs MACHOs

Weakly Interacting Massive Particles vs MAssive Cold Halo Objects

You cannot get a better pair of names for a scientific dispute.

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It's ALIVE! Broken Russian Mars probe finally answers calls

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Maybe it thought the the Red Centre was Mars

Good going by the Aussies! hopefully something can be salvaged from the mission

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Chromebooks: the flop of 2011?

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Thumb Down

I never saw the point in Chromebooks

Tight cloud integration is fine, until you are abroad, and data roaming charges apply (arm+leg, generally), even assuming you have connectivity at all (try mountain tops in Indonesia, or Uganda, or even in many national parks in the US). I want something that works really well locally, without internet connectivity, AND has good cloud integration for when internet is available. Other offers at the same price point just make more sense.

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Nuclear power will let NASA Mars rover beat 1970s Soviet record

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Thumb Up

First et it get there in one functioning piece!

Fingers crossed!

If successful, it could far outstrip Spirit and Opportunity

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Hideous orchid that just wants a one-night stand found

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Should this not have been posted under "Open.... and shut"?

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Apple boots MacBook Air wannabes out of slim case fabs

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Carbon fibre?

The casing of my (aging) VAIO SZ series machine is made of carbon fibre, and has withstood severe bashing around for years. Not perhaps as elegant as Apple, but if you want a tough, lightweight case, carbon fibre takes a lot of beating.

The MacBooks do look good in their simple cases, but I chose my machine mainly on combined merits of compute power, gpu power, and light weight. As we had just got extra funding price was not an issue. Looks did not come into it.

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Successful space station shift change by Russian rocket

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Anyone remember the Apollo-Soyuz project of 1975

Collaboration was possible in space even then

We make small steps, some forward, some backwards. Hopefully our random walk shows net progress.

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NASA nuclear Mars tank launch delayed by one day

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Did the name SAM after Commander Vimes?

Would be appropriate to have him looking for water (though deep down he just wants a drink)

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SQUID calls 'virtual photons' into real existence

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Schrödinger’s Cat has tunneled away years ago

Any cat can always appear at the other side of a closed door, even when you just observed it on THIS side.

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Jaguar to Titan? Not so bad…

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Coat

Dare I ask?

Will it run Crysis?

Mine's the one with the MPI manual in the pocket

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Mysterious sat-pic China desert markings - EXPLAINED

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Black Helicopters

They just want you to think they are calibration patterns!

where's my tinfoil hat!!

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BOFH: The day the office budget bombed – literally

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Mushroom

What if it wasn't just diesel?

Some BOFH style additives should provide some more OOMPH!

Or should that be WHOOOOOOMP!!!

Here, et me install a new switch for you.

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New human-brain chip can be adjusted for cannabis effect

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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As Terry Pratchett put it:

"The IQ of a mob is equal to the IQ of the dimmest member divided by the number of mobsters"

See, simple math explains it.

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Pint

Finally!!

A chip that can get completely spaced out!

I'll drink to that.

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Go back to the future with Red Dwarf

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Alien

I did miss it

13 years should be enough to get some original ideas. I will look forward to seeing it.

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BOFH: Licence to grill ... stupid users

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy

Someone has just had an upgrade foisted upon them

Blessedly, it is not me!

Nice episode

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Mystery of MAGNETIC ROCKS FOUND ON MOON cracked

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Boffin

Not really

Extracting energy from the tides could theoretically increase the tidal friction which is drawing rotational energy away from the Earth-Moon system. This would make the moon recede faster and the earth's rotation slow down more quickly. The process stops when 1 day = 1 month = 50x24 hours (if I recall correctly).

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'Puzzling structures on surface' of YU55 spaceball

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Alien

So black it hurts the eyes!

According to Zaphod Beeblebrox, at least

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Boffin

To put the resolution into perspective

resolving 4m at 300,000 km is an angular resolution of 0.00275 seconds of arc. My 8" telescope does just 0.57 seconds of arc.

So yeah, HD would be possible easily, if you pad the image with a sufficient number of black pixels

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Alien

AH, A CLUE

If they have buttons which are labelled black on a black background which when pressed let a little black light up black to show that you have done it, it must be the HAGUNEMNONS!

Look out for horribly beweaponed, chameleoid death-flotillas!!

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Lost cities found beneath sands of Sahara by satellites

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

Interesting find

I for one had never heard of the Garamantes culture. It does sound like someone wants to enhance the idea of a Libyan cultural identity that transcends tribal differences. Might not be the worst thing to try, but let's hope that political aim does not bury the science, which might find that, rather than being a single, unified culture, the Garamantes were a loose association of tribes, who bickered as much as current tribes (or the Gauls for that matter).

Fingers crossed.

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New pics of giant black sphere hurtling toward Earth

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Boffin

Just look at the surface of the moon with a telescope

You will see it has been hit by FAR worse that a poxy little 300m pebble. There are several craters more than a hundred km in diameter (Bailly at 287 km for example).

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Colossal dead black neo-sphere approaching Earth

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Alien

That's not a moon !!

Had to be said

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Is the electromagnetic constant a constant?

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Boffin

As life arose at least 3 billion years ago

I do not think anything is changing in a big hurry.

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

I just thought the Greeks were charging for the use of their letters, you know, just to start balancing the books

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Are we in the middle of a PATENT BUBBLE?

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Or make patent duration variable?

In some sectors you can innovate quickly, and long duration patents can stifle innovation (potentially). In other sectors, innovation is slower, and patent duration might be longer.

Of course, you then end up with a question on how to judge the duration per domain, but it is worth a thought.

As others have said, the USPTO spends to little time evaluating patents. Things are a good deal better here in Europe, where investigation into prior art is generally quite thorough (as I noticed when I was (co-)inventor on a patent).

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Wouldn't it be simpler if patents were non-transferable?

This could actually harm inventors. If I invent something, I might be better off selling my patent to a company capable of producing and marketing it and policing for infringement of the patent, rather than doing all that myself. After all, many inventors do not have the capital and resources to police a patent properly, and fight legal battles against potentially very wealthy players. I could of course sell a unique, non-transferable license for production or marketing, but what of the policing bit, would the license holder do that?

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Ginormous sunspot spews solar guts towards Earth

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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It is a peak in the current cycle

But to date (as a sunspot observer for quite a while), I have seen far fewer sunspots now than in the maximum around 33 years ago when I started, even though I have a bigger scope than I had in those days. So while the 11 year cycle is more-or-less on course in terms of the period, the whole 11-year wiggle seems to be superimposed on a downward trend. The last minimum was amazing. Months might go by without a single spot. I never witnessed that in the first cycles I observed.

They don't make sunspots like they used to! ;)

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Maggie Philbin on tech, teens and cardigan fear

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

Loved watching Tomorrow's World too

However, in a long piece about British Engineering and/or current lack thereof, can we let this pass: We mention ENIAC, but not Colossus? Especially following the brilliant bit on BBC last weekend on Bletchley Park's lost heroes (William Tutte and Tommy Flowers). Told me bits of computer science history I did not know, and I work in computer science.

The comment on ENIAC was logical in context (given women involved). It is surprising how hard it is to get girls into science and engineering over here in the West. I was at a conference on image processing last September and many women presented really good work (no surprise to me), and the vast majority were from India or China.

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Mars probe crippled by buggy SSD successfully jury-rigged

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Thumb Up

Awesome!!

I think I will use this as an example of the awesome things computer science brings us when we have our next open day for potential students on coming Friday (apart from a host of other, more mundane examples)

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Miley Cyrus cracker: 'I'm too short for the slammer!'

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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In the Netherlands 5'6" is very short

At a shade under 5'11 (1.80m) I was the third shortest guy in my year

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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In the Netherlands 5'6" is very short

At 1.80m (just shy of 5'11") I was one of the shortest guys in my year when I left secondary school. In the US I gather my length fairly average. 5" shorter would be quite short then.

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Record flight is step toward HYPERSONIC SPACE AIRSHIP

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Dark Sky Station

Now there is a now to conjure up a super-villain image.

Where is that white Persian cat got to now!

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OpenBSD 5.0 reveals MAD-themed release

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Boffin

Ah, finally!!!

An OS suitable for mad scientists!!!!

IGOR, DOWNLOAD AND INSTALL IT!!!!!

I can feel an extra exclamation mark coming on!!!!!!

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Wooden Mars ark voyagers set to step out on Earth

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

It might work psychologically

but what about radiation issues?

Besides, the stresses involved are way higher on the real trip, because the chances of anything going wrong are higher in a real ship, and the chances of anyone from outside being able to help if something goes wrong are effectively zero.

Still good that someone is still working on manned missions.

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Official: Kindles get heavier as you add e-books

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Coat

What? No reference to L-space theory?

Mine is the one with "Small Gods" in the pocket.

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This weekend: First ever iPADS IN SPAAAACE

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Apple iPads? But we ordered a few kg of Granny Smiths!!

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CERN boffins re-running neutrino speed test

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Coat

Yeth, marther!!

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Windows XP and iPod: A tale of two birthdays

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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What I REALLY did not like in XP, as I had to move from 2000

was the lack of proper separation between admin and user.

At home, I had to prevent the missus from removing such unimportant items as command.com in earlier Windows incarnations, so quite early on I installed Windows NT 4.0. Later I moved to 2000 rather than going through 95, 98 and (shudder) Millennium. I did not like the level of privilege I had to give users on XP, when that became the next step (as MS throttled support for 2000).

Windows 7 is a good deal better than XP in many ways.

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Apple gets patent for ‘unlock gesture’

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Coffee/keyboard

was that not on the xxxPad

Sorry, couldn't resist

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Mushroom

Allowing patents for prior art is USPTO standard practice

This is how patent trolls work: scour the literature for interesting ideas, apply for a patent, and sue anybody using it EXCEPT the guy who came up with the idea in the first (he could too easily take you to the cleaners, if he works for a big company, if not sue him too).

USPTO: Fire the lot of them, and replace them by half the number of competent people

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Many phones out there do just as described above

So it is still too flaming obvious.

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