Feeds

* Posts by Michael H.F. Wilkinson

2546 posts • joined 24 Apr 2007

Hideous orchid that just wants a one-night stand found

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Joke

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

4
0

Apple boots MacBook Air wannabes out of slim case fabs

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

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.

4
1

Successful space station shift change by Russian rocket

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

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.

2
0

NASA nuclear Mars tank launch delayed by one day

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

Did the name SAM after Commander Vimes?

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

0
0

SQUID calls 'virtual photons' into real existence

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

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.

10
0

Jaguar to Titan? Not so bad…

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Coat

Dare I ask?

Will it run Crysis?

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

0
0

Mysterious sat-pic China desert markings - EXPLAINED

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Black Helicopters

They just want you to think they are calibration patterns!

where's my tinfoil hat!!

2
1

BOFH: The day the office budget bombed – literally

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
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.

1
0

New human-brain chip can be adjusted for cannabis effect

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

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.

2
0
Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Pint

Finally!!

A chip that can get completely spaced out!

I'll drink to that.

0
0

Go back to the future with Red Dwarf

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Alien

I did miss it

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

0
0

BOFH: Licence to grill ... stupid users

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Happy

Someone has just had an upgrade foisted upon them

Blessedly, it is not me!

Nice episode

0
0

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).

1
0

'Puzzling structures on surface' of YU55 spaceball

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Alien

So black it hurts the eyes!

According to Zaphod Beeblebrox, at least

0
0
Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
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

1
0
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!!

3
0

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.

0
0

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).

1
0

Colossal dead black neo-sphere approaching Earth

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Alien

That's not a moon !!

Had to be said

7
0

Is the electromagnetic constant a constant?

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Boffin

As life arose at least 3 billion years ago

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

0
0
Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Joke

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

11
0

Are we in the middle of a PATENT BUBBLE?

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

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).

1
0
Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

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?

0
0

Ginormous sunspot spews solar guts towards Earth

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

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! ;)

1
0

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.

1
0

Mars probe crippled by buggy SSD successfully jury-rigged

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
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)

0
0

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

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

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

0
0
Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

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.

0
0

Record flight is step toward HYPERSONIC SPACE AIRSHIP

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

Dark Sky Station

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

Where is that white Persian cat got to now!

1
0

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!!!!!!

3
0

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.

0
0

Official: Kindles get heavier as you add e-books

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Coat

What? No reference to L-space theory?

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

0
0

This weekend: First ever iPADS IN SPAAAACE

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Joke

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

0
0

CERN boffins re-running neutrino speed test

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Coat

Yeth, marther!!

4
0

Windows XP and iPod: A tale of two birthdays

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

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.

2
3

Apple gets patent for ‘unlock gesture’

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Coffee/keyboard

was that not on the xxxPad

Sorry, couldn't resist

2
1
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

12
0
Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

Many phones out there do just as described above

So it is still too flaming obvious.

7
1

Last mystery of first recorded supernova laid to rest

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Boffin

Yes, and the other major type is II

"nearby" galaxy M101 is currently (well, millions of years ago, but now in out frame of reference) host to a type Ia supernova. It was visible in binoculars just a few weeks ago, but now is borderline in my 8" scope.

0
0

Massive study concludes: 'Global warming is real'

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Boffin

Which has happened before.

There are now indications that the ice sheets withdrew at a huge rate at the end of the last ice age. The same seems to happen at the start. Initially people thought ice ages centuries or even thousands of years to get started or to end, now people are looking at much shorter periods. It seems climate can flip faster than was thought before. Some mass extinctions might be linked to these rapid flips (in particular the megafauna extinction at the end of the ice age).

I for one think it is good to have better data. By research standards not a huge amount of money was spent (one PhD position in our neck of the woods), and if we have better data, we have a better chance of understanding.

1
0
Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

Many people do:

My cooking range and central heating are gas-fired. Replacing all the incandescent bulbs by fluorescent lights saved us a significant portion of our energy bill.

0
0

Intel, MS destined to remain tablet underdogs

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Boffin

Linear growth?

I am somewhat puzzled how they predict this linear growth based as it seems on two data points: 2010 and 2011. OK mathematically that defines a line, but will markets not become saturated after a while? Some error bars might not be amiss.

0
0

Jobs: 'I'll spend my dying breath destroying Android'

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

As I recall

a law suit was threatened by Xerox, and Apple hastily withdrew its case against Microsoft on "look and feel"

The case was settled, making it legal in retrospect, I guess.

0
0
Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

Palm OS

seems to spring to mind unbidden

Does anyone see similarity between iOS components listed above and my ancient Tungsten T3 (grid of icons, lack of buttons, soft keyboard when needed)? Apple may have put them together in a better sleeker way, but they did not invent that stuff. This fits in with earlier Apple history (Xerox work on GUIs anyone). Again, Apple may have combine elements better than others before, and that is to be applauded, but they also often stood on the shoulders of giants.

0
0

Crap alchemist jailed for poo-into-gold experiment

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

Shit happens

so they say

0
0

Microsoft's saucy compiler exposes privates to devs

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

Rewriting compilers from C++ to Basic and C#??

Is this me, or does this remind others of Niklaus Wirth's (failed) attempt to write a Pascal compiler in FORTRAN?

Or are they just modifying the compiler to make interim listings available in C# and Visual Basic showing the transformations performed by the code optimizer (in much the same way as the Cray FORTRAN and C compilers I used in the 90s?

0
0

Jobs was 'working on future product day before he died'

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

However

The claim that Steve Jobs may have had a good idea for a product the day before he died is still more believable than a similar claim about Steve Balmer on any arbitrary day.

More seriously, though I am not an Apple user in any form, I do not find the former claim beyond the realm of the possible. Though the story does have a strong ring of spin on it, it may well be true, and it may be a bit cynical to reject it off-hand (though cynics are right depressingly often). Trying to keep working may be a good way of keeping your thoughts off what must be scary to anyone. It can also take your mind off pain, or give you some positive feeling.

3
0

0.5mm2 ARM chip offers 5X energy efficiency, jacks up performance

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Pint

Sounds neat!

We are living in amazing times, aren't we. At some point you will hold the compute power and memory storage of a Cray Y-MP in your pocket.

At which point it becomes possible to run MS-Office 2010

;-)

7
0

Japanese take World Solar Challenge

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Pint

Cheers to the lot of them

Glad to see the Dutch team on the podium (as me mum is Dutch), kudos to Tokai and Michigan too of course!

0
0

Ballmer disses Android as cheap and complex

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Thumb Up

Balloon, buffoon, baboon, they all mix nicely to spell Balmer, don't they?

1
0