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* Posts by Michael H.F. Wilkinson

2546 posts • joined 24 Apr 2007

LA air traffic meltdown: System simply 'RAN OUT OF MEMORY'

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: nagative altitudes

Even if the system was designed with a limited altitude range in mind, it still should be able to cope with input outside that range, e.g. by flagging an error in the input. My very first job as a programmer was to write a (half) decent UI for a DOS image processing package written mostly in Pascal. The previous programmer's effort used READ and READLN to get floating point values from the (mainly Dutch) users, which resulted in frequent crashes when users entered 0,23 instead of 0.23. I wrote a simple parser that only assumed it was getting a string of characters, tried to parse it, and flagged syntax and other errors to the user. Not rocket science, but simply going back to basics: does the string of characters entered as input meet the preconditions of the code that is going to use that data, if so, use it, if not, flag an error. This very basic approach ensured that medics could use the program without swearing at the computer several times each day.

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Indian climate boffins: Himalayan glaciers are NOT MELTING

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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"Yes it is!"

"No it isn't"

"Yes it is!"

"No it isn't"

"Yes it is!"

"No it isn't"

"Yes it is!"

"This is not an argument, this is plain contradiction"

"No it isn't"

"Yes it is!"

.....

Sorry, couldn't resist

Mine is the one with Monty's Encylco Pythonia in the pocket

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We're from the SAME DUST CLOUD, BRO: Boffins find Sun's long-lost sibling

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: "...4.5 billion years ago...” Ramirez said. “A lot of things can happen in that amount of time.”

Still haven't invented slood, however

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy

Interesting

I'll give HD 162826 a wave next time the clouds part and I can do some stargazing

Stellarium is a great (free) tool for finding the star (and much more besides)

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US alliance strengthens LOHAN imaging arsenal

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Pint

Re: Last Words

If the heroic playmonaut has a sense of history he will say "Pojechali"

Also used when raising a glass in Russia

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Pint

Kudos to David Patterson

Really nice to see such generosity

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Quick Q: How many FLOPPIES do I need for 16 MILLION image files?

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy

Re: 16-page document I was working on last night won’t fit onto a floppy

Still got an 8" floppy lying around somewhere; one from Digital with CP/M 2.0 on it. 128kB capacity, WOW!

And yes, I still have an Iomega Zip drive somewhere.

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Amazon granted patent for taking photos against a white background – seriously

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

One might well argue the USPTO has negative credibility.

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: What needs to happen

I have yet to see patents so patently absurd awarded in the Netherlands or indeed the EU. I have one patent to my name, and the process appeared to be quite thorough. There may certainly be the odd one that slipped through (would love to see one), but not the spate of silliness coming out of the USPTO.

Note that the USPTO gets funded based on how many patents it awards not how many it processes. That is a perverse incentive if ever there was one.

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Apple files patent for typo-sensing buttons

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Force feedback?

<Aussie accent>

That's not force feedback, proper force feedback is when the button punches you in the face when it thinks you have punched the wrong button! That'll teach ya!

</Aussie accent>

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ARM exec: Forget eight-core smartphone chips, just enjoy a SIX-PACK

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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8 cores should also appeal to wizards

or even a wizzard

The one with Interesting Times in the pocket please

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Potato in SPAAAAACE: LOHAN chap cooks up stratospud with Heston Blumenthal

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy

Re: Would you eat anything of his?

Sure, no worries! I have had alligator on pizza (seriously) in Quebec City which was very nice, and sheep's brain (rarely used, always fresh) in Indonesia, so bollock pie sounds fine to me

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Thumb Up

Brilliant stuff

Great read over breakfast

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Report: Climate change has already hit USA - and time is RUNNING OUT

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

It seems to me

that quite a bit of global warming is clearly anthropogenic. It is all the hot air emanating from politicians and commentards alike. Most models fail to take that into account

On a serious note, I do not know (i.e. with 100.0000% scientific certainty) whether global warming or climate change is anthropogenic or not. Climate has changed a lot over earth's history, and CO2 levels are quite low at the moment, as compared to the mesozoic era AFAIK. It is also rather cold compared to e.g. the Jurassic. That suited a bunch of big lizards (OK, not really lizards), but not our current society, which has adapted to the current climate. Climate change may therefore disrupt our cosy lifestyle. To me it does not matter so much whether we are to blame. It is more important to see how we can get by, using fewer non-renewable resources, and how we can deal with a potential crisis, preferably without bloodshed. Mankind's performance in the latter case is not stellar, I agree, but maybe we can work things out this time.

Just my tuppence

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Cold War spy aircraft CRASHED Los Angeles' air traffic control

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Coat

Re: A U-2 you say?

Still haven't ....

I'll get me coat

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Atom, GitHub's code editor based on web tech, goes open source

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

HERESY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

"The real sell of Atom is the synthesis of a lot of different things that no one editor does well."

Marches back to the Church of Emacs in a huff

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PEAK APPLE: Mystery upstart to hurl iLord from its throne 'by 2020'

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

"one that we have never heard of"?

That's a relief, I thought it might be "the one that must not be named"

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Hacktivists hijack BNP Twitter account, crayon over leader Griffin's too

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

I think it is wrong to hack pages (freedom of speech and all that), and linking the LGBT community to this honourable gentleman (phrase used without prejudice) might seriously offend members of said LGBT community.

Besides, the honourable gentleman (phrase used without prejudice) is much better at making a fool of himself than any parody could ever manage.

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Scariest NSA revelation yet: Spooks are RUBBISH at CIPHERS

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Joke

Re: So to get the job

But they don't have the resumé that was hidden in a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying "Beware of the Leopard", and that might (or might not be) the correct one.

Besides, if they know so much about everybody, they already know who is perfect for the job, don't they?

I think my tinfoil hat is on too tight

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy

So to get the job

do I send in my resume encrypted with a one time pad?

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Apple tips Shiraz down all its techies' throats (that's the rumoured name for OS X 10.10)

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Happy

Re: MMM!

Ooh, that bring back memories. Tuscan food (all I tried last summer) takes a lot of beating. Having said that, I had some really nice Shiraz/Syrah wines last time I was in California. Some excellent food too. Not all food in the US is fast or fattening.

Darn, hungry now!

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Script fools n00b hackers into hacking themselves

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Reminds me of a line from BBC Hustle

And they do not go an complain to the Watch

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Shocking 'new iPhone' is also - BZZZZT!! - a Taser-like stun gun

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Coat

BOFH gear, evidently

Better still, replace the head beancounter's phone by such a device modified to give the holder a shock (remotely operated?)

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Fix capitalism with floating cities on Venus says Charles Stross

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Just make Venus the ultimate tax haven

But only if you actually live there, and then have all the greedy fat-cats see how they like clouds of sulfuric acid. As a side effect, that might encourage them into terraforming Venus very quickly

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Trolls and victims watch Supremes for definition of meaningless patents

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy

Were they ever good for anything?

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Re: x+delta

"Oh, you mean the law forbidding gnomes to become curators? Of course we know about that one..."

Don't be ridiculous, next you will suggest Feegles become lawyers!

Ya wee scunner!!! Bigjobs!

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Trollface

Patents and trolls aren't a problem

Here is a complete list of troll patents:

0ne: Club

Two: Hit other troll over head wid der club

Many: Hit man over head wid der club

Lots: Hit dwarf over head wid der club

Infringements currently policed by sgt. Detritus

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All men are part of a PURE GENETIC ELITE, says geno-science bloke

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy

Genetic elite!

Just like every living organism today! After all, we are all the product of an unbroken line (or actually, massive numbers of twisting interwoven lines *) of survivors reaching back until the first organisms.

Comforting thought, I always find

* Makes a squadron of Arcturan stunt apples look tame

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Coat

Y?

Because!

Sorry, couldn't resist. I'll get me coat. The one with "Get thee to a punnery!" in the pocket

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Re: Could read it both ways.....

But unlike squirrels, we never forget where they are

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LOHAN spaceplane's budget minicam punches well above its weight

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Thumb Up

Nice footage

Amazing what cool stuff is available these days

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'Maybe I'll go to Hell, but I think it's a good thing' says plastic Liberator gunsmith Cody Wilson

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Re more guns, lower crime rate

Please note the sarcasm I intended with "quite a bit of sense". ;-)

I do not buy into his anarchistic ideal. I do not like over-intrusive government either, the best we can manage in the sublunary is some compromise.

Lower crime rates might also depend on what you consider crime. If you do not consider shooting somebody who appears to be threatening a crime, then guns are not a problem I suppose. I do see shooting people because they appear to be threatening as a crime.

Gun availability in itself need not even be the core of the issue. The core of the issue on the astronomical gun related killings may have something to do with a culture that has less problems with violence in movies than with sex.

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Facepalm

“More guns in the hands of more people leads to a lower crime rate."

What a pity Cody, up until that remark you were making quite a bit of sense!

I guess he has been indoctrinated by the USA government and gun lobby more than he realises.

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True optical zoom coming to HTC smartphone cameras

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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I'll keep that DSLR

until I can fit my 85mm F/1.4 Carl Zeiss Planar to my phone (fits my EOS through an adapter). My smartphone is fine for every day shots, but in low light conditions (theatre, animals around dusk, astronomy) I need to catch more photons than the puny lenses of camera phones can catch. Simple physics: double the aperture in diameter for a given pixel count, double the signal to noise ratio (when photon-noise limited). Nothing can alter that. What could change is the maximum electron density per unit of area on photosites of CCDs or CMOS chips. That would allow better dynamic range on small photosites, provided the number of photons captured allows that increase in dynamic range.

This does not mean I do not applaud the improvements in camera phones. They have come a long way from being a barely usable gimmick to a pretty decent instrument for everyday photography. The only downside is the sheer number of selfies produced. Finally, I would not like to carry the bulk of said 85mm lens (close to 900 gr) on a daily basis, of course.

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OK, we get the message, Microsoft: Windows Defender splats 1000s of WinXP, Server 2k3 PCs

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Subtle hints

Your OS, hey? Should it go? Hey? Should it go? Hey? Know what I mean, know what I mean? Nudge, nudge, wink, wink!

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Is tech the preserve of the young able-bodied? Let's talk over a fine dinner and claret

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy

Much as I would like a chin-wag over claret, even with the chinless, or those endowed with more chins than strictly necessary for the support of a face (doffs hat to Leslie Charteris for the latter phrase), I am afraid I wont be able to hop over the Channel for that.

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KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy

What about scaled-up versions?

I somehow picture a record sponge in the fossil record, holding a mosasaur in its deadly embrace.

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy

Re: asbestos plume of rickets

Could easily compete with "correct horse battery staple" for a pass phrase :)

Indeed, although we use Foul Ole Ron as a source of pass phrases (but NOT "Millennium hand and shrimp").

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MIT boffins moot tsunami-proof floating nuke power plants

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Piper Alpha

somehow came into my mind. I wonder why?

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BOFH: Oh DO tell us what you think. *CLICK*

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Pint

The BOFH is evidently

as student of C. Northcote Parkinson

Excellent

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Red-faced LOHAN team 'fesses up in blown SPEARS fuse fiasco

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Thumb Up

Nothing is fool proof for a sufficiently talented fool

Thumbs up for fessing up!

I do not doubt that <Austrian accent>You'll be back</Austrian accent>

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Nvidia's new CUDA 6 has the 'most significant new functionality in the history of CUDA'

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Hmm

In my experience hiding memory complexity is a mixed blessing. To gain maximum performance I need to understand the architecture the code runs on, to avoid costly operations, as others have said. I will get my code up an running sooner, but it will not necessarily be as fast as hand-tuned code. Where I do see use is in getting more-or-less machine independent code up and running quickly. If it does not run fast enough, you can then tune it to get the most out of the hardware and reduce costly copying from one part of memory to another, and so avoiding bandwidth and latency problems.

Nothing beats better bandwidth and lower latency, of course, but that is something the hardware guys must do for us software guys (and I know they are working on it). If the GPU and CPU truly share memory (i.e. the memory is physically unified), many difficulties will drop away, but that is something to dream about, for now

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Sorry London, Europe's top tech city is Munich

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Strange choice of graph type

Agreed. Any of my students presenting this kind of data like that would get points deducted (and/or instructions on how they should present these data).

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Look out, bankers! It's Lily Cole and her (Brit taxpayer-funded) WISH-PRINTING ATM

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Is it me?

Or should that "impossible" website be labelled "Unsuitable for diabetics" (and it's not just the presence of cookies)

My conclusion is: "I do not know about impossible, I prefer things that are very, very, improbable

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Live coverage: Blood Moon looms large for North, South America

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Below horizon here

And cloud, of course, but sites like slooh are just great for this. Showed the kids the transit of Venus two years back by logging onto slooh on the smartphone. It's just great what IT has brought us.

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NASA to unsheath GIANT ASTEROID SPACE PROBE

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Re: OSIRIS-REx?

The chances of funding are proportional to the effort put into the (b)ac(k)ronym. Politicians gladly fund a project named OSIRIS-REx, however tenuous the connection between name and purpose, they might go for Yet Another Asteroid Bashing Attempt (YAABA) because you can at least pronounce it, but Probe For Planetoid Research (PFPR) stands little chance

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Windows 8.1, which you probably haven't upgraded to yet, ALREADY OBSOLETE

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Who at Microsoft is making up the names... and why do they still have a job?

I heard someone at MS proposed

Windows 8.1 Falls On Sword Silently

as a final option on the roadmap, instead of FU2, but management didn't like the acronym.

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Mushroom

Re: No

"Possibly with a sharpened bargepole."

Or the type of modified bargepole known as a spar torpedo

Icon, well, because that's what a spar torpedo does

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New FEMTO-MOON sighted BIRTHING from Saturn's RING

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy

DON'T PANIC

How do you switch on large, friendly letters?

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Audio fans, prepare yourself for the Second Coming ... of Blu-ray

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Re: I'll definitely be buying this...

Indeed, frequently range clearly designed with Agnes Nitt (a.k.a. "Agnes-who-calls-herself-Perditax") in mind. It might be a problem to filter out the occasional thud of a falling bat from the recording

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