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* Posts by Michael H.F. Wilkinson

2362 posts • joined 24 Apr 2007

BOFH: Axe handles - occasionally quite slippery

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Really nice

What will the revenge be?

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Big Blue boffins scan 10 billion files in Flash in a flash

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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I am not too surprised you got a response

because doing it allows them to show off their system again. And Big Blue does have a lot of smart people, AND allows them to talk to the outside world.

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AMD readies Bulldozers to ship next month

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Interesting news

I am about to start looking a new machine (looking for something like a 48-core 256 GB RAM job), even if the bulldozers arrive too late, prices of older machine might drop.

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'There's too much climate change denial on the BBC'

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Actually, some "facts" are routinely manipulated

Like the output of weather stations in the USA to "correct for changes in the station's environment." This is not a good idea, it is better to let the raw data out, and explain any trends later. Anyway, the debate is not so much about climate change per se, but about the underlying causes. As we cannot see the causes, only correlations, it makes perfect sense to argue about that. It might well be argued that the Earth is unusually cold (starting in the Pleistocene), or that we are in an interglacial era.

Whatever the outcome of the debate, we still should not be wasting energy and other resources.

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Some very good questions indeed

I have read one report that the ice caps of Mars are receding, but the mechanism is not fully understood. We also don't have temperature readings over anything like the period we have for Earth. Venus is even more difficult, because it really is a runaway greenhouse, and surface probes do not tend to survive for any length of time (the Russians hold the record, I think). I remember reading a letter in Science in about 1989, that some Danish astronomers (IIRC) had found a 98% correlation between sunspot activity and temperature on Earth, over a period of some 150 years. That is quite a coincidence supposing there is no causal link.

Again, it is definitely wise to move towards more sustainable energy sources, but I am certainly not sure the solar cycle is not involved in some way.

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Say not: I will believe

say: I will understand

;-)

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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I live in the Netherlands

but still watch Beeb more than most other channels

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Boffin

As if science should be based on consensus?

Science makes progress whenever there is a lack of consensus. When everybody agrees, and we therefore think we are right (for a given value of right), and there is little incentive to refine our knowledge.

By contrast, whenever we disagree we work hard to prove the other guy/girl wrong. In the best cases, we do that indirectly, by trying to prove ourselves wrong. If we fail to prove our theory wrong, it may be right.

As an example, astronomy progressed a great deal simply from being annoyed by Fred Hoyle, who proposed preposterous (they thought) theories which were consistent both internally, and with observations (at the time), and very hard to prove wrong. They often were proved wrong, but the proof taught us a great deal.

If all scientists vote on an issue, say global warming, the outcome has no effect on the truth of the matter. Suggesting global warning has been proven beyond all doubt is not very scientific.

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Fujitsu installs Windows 7... on a phone

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Coat

Why does nobody ask

if it will run Crysis?

I'll get me coat

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Hubble detects new Plutonian moon

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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and of course he is feeling that cold and lonely

so thumbs up to that name

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Alien

P4 stands for Pentium 4

Imagine the overclocking you could do at -240 ambient temperature

On the other hand, imagine the overclocking you would NEED to do to stay warm enough

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Alien

Plutonian Ice and Molases

New flavour of icecream? At -240 deg centigrade, it may be a bit cold in the mouth.

Still sounds better than the tunafish flavour favoured by Kzinti in one Larry Niven story

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Mobile coverage comes to embattled Misurata

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Thumbs up to Ousama Abushagur

great work!

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Python orgy menaces Yorkeys Knob canoes

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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So the pythons showed

the full Monty?

Mine is the one with the Holy Grail DVD in the pocket

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End of an era: Atlantis hits the tarmac

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Pint

End of an era indeed

I remember I was just painting the my first ever student room when the first shuttle was launched. I will raise a glass to the guys at NASA, who despite many flaws and problems, still gave us a lot to cheer about

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Russia’s space telescope in orbit

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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They may have meant

the biggest space telescope, not the biggest satellite

Many satellites other than the Mentors can be seen by stargazers (even with the naked eye). With my 15x70 binoculars, I start to resolve structure in the ISS and similar sized satellites, but many others are readily visible.

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Boffin

Not necessarily better, but differnt

In astronomy, things get really exciting when you can line up different instruments on the same target, to see what it is doing at different wavelengths. Another important difference is that by itself, Spektr-R's images will be much poorer than any radio telescope on the surface of the globe. However, by combining its signals with ground-based scopes we synthetically make large dish, much in the way the Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope, or the Very Large Array, or more recently LOFAR build up an image using multiple antennae to simulate a very large one.

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Doesn't being in tune to disease mean

dying horribly of causes we can now not only cure but often prevent?

Science and engineering are the main reason human beings have FAR more heartbeats during their lives than other mammals.

Astronomy actually came into being because we needed to predict when to sow and harvest.

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Boffin

A lot of good science is happening right now, despite cuts

Perhaps you should follow real scientific literature now and then and not rely on newspaper articles (which I know can be seriously disjoint from what the scientist actually said). The very science you deride has brought you all the improvements in computing power, and many real cures as well. The work I do as a scientist (computer vision) has ranged from determining whether a drug attacks a specific cancer before administering it, through detection of malformations in blood vessels, and automatically scanning through terapixels of astronomical images for peculiar objects, to supporting post-disaster rescue efforts by automatically analyzing remote-sensing images for collapsed buildings. In the latest case we brought down the compute time from 104 days (=useless) to 8 hours (=useful). I also know cancer deaths have been reduced for certain types, in particular in the case of certain early cancers (no work of mine).

There is a lot of excellent science being done, though I agree more could and should be done. Funding cuts are not just undermining scientific progress, but also the status it has in society (or more particularly bureaucrats). I also agree school science can and should be improved.

I would invite every capable worker in science/technology to get involved in doing just that, by spending time at schools getting children involved in science. I taught some basic science/engineering lessons at my boy's school (they are 7 and 9) and it is great fun. We also organize outreach programs to secondary schools close to our uni, and that too is really nice. Too bad that that funding cuts are threatening even that.

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Sounds like a machine from a Bond movie

but great instrument once it gets operational. Very Long Base Line Interferometry (VLBI) is about to become ULBI (Ultra Long Base Line Interferometry), fitting, given ULTRA was a British (counter)-espionage unit involved in radio snooping and code breaking: Ultra meets Spektr-R.

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Intel CEO: 'Ultrabooks' will be 'holistic' success

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Quite right

In the words of Niklaus Wirth:

"Software is getting slower faster than hardware is getting faster"

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Apple kills MacBook, soups up MacBook Air

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Is it Apple's implementation you have a problem with

or bluetooth in general? I have few problems with my bluetooth kit (under Linux and Windows)

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Given Apple's attitude to Java

that is no surprise, at least as far as computer science students or any others that need to use Java code (bioinformatics anyone?).

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MPs probe science behind bogus gov booze guidelines

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Pint

I will do it

if they give me enough to drink.

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Pint

I'll dirnk to having a scientific symposium on this topic

After all, "symposium" means get together for the purpose of drinking (literally).

"One aspect absent from the call for submissions is the close relationship between the academic community and policy makers."

I am all for closer links between scientists and pubs

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'Wilful blindness? We've heard of it,' says Murdoch

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Well, at least he is old enough

to make the Ronald Reagan defense ( (I do not recall)^N ) plausible.

However, if he really does not recall, through whatever dementia, he should retire. If he does not retire, he cannot rely on dementia as an excuse.

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Japanese erections named 'Bollox', 'Wonder Device'

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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What a beautiful example

of Engrish!!

We collected quite a few on our trip to Japan, but this must be the best.

Thumbs up, because, well, where else would it point

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Robots form band, rock out to Marilyn Manson

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Yep!

see title

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UK top cop: Coulson 'blindingly obviously' mixed up in hacking

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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or all three at once?

or am I being obstructively cynical?

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Black Helicopters

Why is it obvious

we tapped their phones, obvious, init?

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First snap of giant asteroid Vesta from orbiting probe

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Neat shot

My scope only shows a speck, moving slowly between the stars

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Get your kit off for Putin, win an iPad 2, Russian ladies told

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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The century of the fruitbat

is nearly over

try to keep up

;-)

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Pint

Re: what

that's a nasty thought, cannot get the image you just conjured up out of my head.

Beer needed

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DARPA project seeks immortality, suspended animation

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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B u t i f I s l o w d o w n

to reach a high age, will that not be very boring?

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NASA

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Though you never know if NASA is not interested in geese

goose-powered space ship, anyone?

Mine is the the space suit

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Firms fight over universal remote control patents

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Can I patent pitching a brick

as a means and method for permanently switching off any television, or any audiovisual playback or recording device, or any other device controlled by IR remote control, or any other electromagnetic or ultrasonic means, without any learning involved?

Just a thought

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Pick a winner: The Sarah Hunter Google competition

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Boffin

I always thought

People in chaos theory were paranoid due to the shadowing lemma right behind them

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iPhone plunges 13,500 ft from skydiver's pocket - and lives

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Maybe Stephen Fry's explanation of GPS was used

init?

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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One in a million chances

always crop up, well known fact

Just ask Sergeant Colon

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Captain Kirk's Google+ account gets zapped

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Alien

He said hello on the wrong hailing frequency

maybe?

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CERN 'gags' physicists in cosmic ray climate experiment

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Boffin

Actually

as an amateur astronomer, with a long log of sunspot counts, I am seeing a very quiet sun in the last few years. The last minimum was very deep, and much too long, the current maximum is occasionally throwing up fireworks, but I have also seen some very quiet periods, unlike anything I got in the late 1970s, early 1980s when I started observing.

The current low activity may be a glitch, but it seems to be part of a trend. We may well be in for a prolonged period of low activity, which could be similar to the Maunder minimum.

Pity for those who invest heavily in a hydrogen alpha filter for their scope if it is true, because the fireworks they will get to see with this expensive kit may be less than hoped for.

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SeaMicro pushes 'Atom smasher' to 768 cores in 10U box

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Boffin

Sounds very interesting

I can almost fit my entire image (1.5 terapixel remote sensing stuff) into main memory

;-)

seriously, really interesting machine given the performance and power draw

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SpaceShipOne designer produces hybrid flying car

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Remarkable guy, this Rutan

for an encore, he will make this flying car go into space?

then all he has to do is invent slood for us.

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HP TouchPad 32GB WebOS tablet

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Shame about the delays, I liked the look of WebOS

but settled for an android phone nonetheless (to replace both a regular phone and my good old Tungsten T3).

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Microsoft rolls out One Big Windows strategy

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Just a bit of advice

Both Balmer and the Windows OS need to go on a diet. Balmer for continued health, and the OS for this plan to succeed.

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Flame

HERETICS!!!!!

EMACS is the one true editor!!!

vi is venom incarnate

;-)

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Parmo v poutine: Your cut-out-and-keep pdf guide

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Sounds like mr Creosote would like these

Put it all in a bucket, and have another bucket on stand by.

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Asteroid hunter achieves Vesta orbit

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Pint

Nah, the colour is all wrong

for vindaloo. It looks more like some dreadful, congealed concoction made from whale blubber. Nutritious, no doubt, but it rest on the stomach like a lead bowling ball.

Beer, because, well, in goes down well with vindaloo.

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Vote now for the juiciest LOHAN backronym

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Agreed!

In true GNU style recursive acronyms should be prefered.

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Samsung Chromebook: The $499 Google thought experiment

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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As opposed to adding a really fat goally

as in the case of anti-virus software in the MS world

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