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* Posts by Michael H.F. Wilkinson

2490 posts • joined 24 Apr 2007

Microsoft: We've got HUNDREDS of patents on Android tech

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Of course its true!

As far as I understand it, if I develop a piece of code which infringes patents (as Google allegedly has), I do not necessarily require a licensing agreement. If I sell a product with such software on board, I certainly do. This might be the reason MS is not going after Google (or maybe there are secret agreements, where's me tinfoil hat!!)

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Raspberry Pi to serve up bite-sized modules for bulk-buying biz bods

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: I don't know...

This could provide a cheap way for students to learn MPI computing, although you can run MPI on a shared-memory architecture (but without same the penalty of communication overhead as in clusters). Using a "nano-cluster" like this you can have student mess about without interfering with the workloads of the big "production" clusters of the university, or, as the students see it, without production work interfering with their projects.

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Get your MOON GEAR: Auction to feature Space Race memorabilia

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Too expensive for me, alas. I will just retain the fond memories of being allowed to stay up late as a seven-year old to see men step out onto the moon on a little black and white TV. Greatest event in my life until then.

Every single boy at school wanted to become an astronaut that day.

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European Court of Justice rips up Data Retention Directive

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Pint

Good!

Good to hear the European Court make such a sensible decision

I'll raise a glass to that

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The... Windows... XPocalypse... is... NIGH

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy

Nice to hear a sane voice from time to time

You could have started the piece with DON'T PANIC in large, friendly letters. Good selling point, I read somewhere

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Windows XP still has 27 per cent market share on its deathbed

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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I'll try to get Win 7 working on my old (8.5 years), decrepit, but still functional VAIO SZ2XP/C, which should be able to run it (with some drivers I have unearthed) later this week. Through a university license I can get a win 7 pro update cheap, so it is worth a punt. Should it fail I will wipe my last Win XP install make it single boot again (but this time with OpenSUSE Linux).

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'Graceful' solar flare erupts from surface of Sun – NASA vid

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy

Great footage

A lot of interesting activity has been visible on the sun the last few weeks. Great to watch either on various web-sites, and even better with a solar scope.

The websites like GONG (http://halpha.nso.edu/) and the like are ideal for those without solar scopes, and/or with British weather.

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'Hello, is that the space station? NASA here. Can you put us through to Moscow?'

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: To paraphrase the king of the swamp castle in the Holy Grail

In all seriousness, I do not know enough about everything that has happened in the Ukraine to take any side. Various sources contradict each other, and I am left with the cynical baseline thought that I trust no politicians. There are evidently thugs on either side, there are people with little or no regard for what "the people" really want jockeying for power on either side, and many, if not most ordinary people get squeezed in the middle. A summary of the politics of power struggles that holds true all too often.

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

To paraphrase the king of the swamp castle in the Holy Grail

Let's not bicker about who invaded who!

A pointless exercise, as every nation that has ever thought of itself as or has aspired to be a Power (capital P mandatory) has behaved pretty badly during its history

Indeed, as the late, lamented Douglas Adams stated succinctly in his summary of the summary of the summary:

People are a problem

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Five-year-old discovers Xbox password bug, hacks dad's Live account

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Re: help!

Nice list.

Rule 50: My main computers will have their own special operating system that will be completely incompatible with standard IBM and Macintosh powerbooks.

is easy to fulfil: just use an old CDC 7600 with its 6 bit bytes and ten byte words, and an OS that is not so much "not user friendly" as "user hostile." The only downside is that it is slower than your average smartphone.

As an alternative, you could up the voltage on all the i/o ports to fry any PC or macbook attached to it without authorization, inspired by the idea of the etherkiller

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USA opposes 'Schengen cloud' Eurocentric routing plan

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Re: What terrorists?

The only sane reason for spying on friendly governments was of course given by Lord Vetinari, who states that spying on friends improves mutual understanding and therefore promotes friendship even more.

There is of course another school of thought who points to the bablefish, which by removing barriers in communication between species has lead to more and bloodier wars than anything in the history of creation, but it could be argued that the opposing sides in these wars weren't friends to begin with.

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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What terrorists?

I gather a recent report has shown that no terrorist was caught and no act of terrorism prevented as a result of the blanket snooping program by the NSA. I really do not see how snooping on a head of a friendly government helps fighting terror.

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WIMPs wipe each other out in giant radiating spot at galaxy's centre

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Interesting, but

more data needed (as they indicate). If correct, it gives a clear indication that dark matter is actually there, and not (only) an error in our understanding of gravity. The main reason to postulate the existence of dark matter was the lack of visible mass needed to explain both the orbits of gas and stars in galaxies and gravitational lensing. An alternative theory would be to postulate our law of gravity is wrong (which is also hard to reconcile with other observations).

I await more data eagerly

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Organic food: Pricey, not particularly healthy, won't save you from cancer

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Coat

If food is not "organic", it logically must be "inorganic"

which, chemically speaking is odd

I'll get me coat

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BEHOLD the HOLY GRAIL of TECH: The REVERSIBLE USB plug

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Re: We have all experienced Schrödinger's USB stick

I never realised the humble USB plug was a quantum computing device, but this revelation makes perfect sense. I am sure I have noted the orientation flipping on certain devices (top -> bottom transitions and vice-versa), but always attributed this to Murphy's Law (a.k.a. High Auditor Activity, as can be confirmed by the usual garden hose test). The two explanations are of course not mutually exclusive.

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Does my mass look big in this? Roly-poly galaxy El Gordo more porky than first feared

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: re. "three quadrillion times the mass of our sun"

Our galaxy is between 1.0 and 1.5 trillion solar masses, so El Gordo is more than 2,000 times heavier

Needs a high fibre diet and more exercise

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Tesla cars can now 'do an ET' without hurting anyone's bottom line

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy

If the cars are chatty ..

do they also make chatty doors? You know, for Elon's spaceship? The ones that you can tell are about to open by the intolerable air of smugness they suddenly generate?

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Lego is the TOOL OF SATAN, thunders Polish priest

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Where are the values? Ronnie Soak

Love his Yak milk from 600 years ago. Still fresh too

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Boffins make noise about D-Wave chip: it seems quantum

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Coat

Maybe it's only quantum

if you don't observe it consciously

I'll get me coat, the one with "What is life?" by Erwin Schrödinger in the pocket please

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Money? What money? Lawyer for accused Silk Road boss claims you can't launder Bitcoin

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy

Re: Chewbacca defense

Or should that be "the alleged jury"

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy

It's a bit funny

If payment in bitcoin is accepted by him (i.e. some arbitrary real or virtual item of no intrinsic value is nonetheless accepted by mutual agreement to represent some value), but he then does not count bitcoins as money (which can be defined as some arbitrary real or virtual item of no intrinsic value which is nonetheless accepted by mutual agreement to represent some value)

Legal wrangling about words without looking at their meaning. Par for the course in court, I suppose

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Middle England trembles before roaring LOHAN

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Yes, it is rocket science

Great, looking forward to that. I'll get my kids to see it too.

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Yes, it is rocket science

Would love to have seen a video, though

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Want to see at night? Here comes the infrared CONTACT LENS

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: More realistic...

I have seen interesting experiments (by Jaguar, as I recall) with near infra-red (NIR) headlights (apart from the normal ones), a simple CCD camera without IR blocking filter (required for normal visual use), and a jet-fighter style HUD showing the image ahead superimposed on the normal view through the windscreen. I heard some up-market cars now can be ordered with a similar system, but with the HUD replaced by a simple screen on the dashboard. The NOR lights can just shine straight ahead without blinding anyone (except those with (N)IR contact lenses/Google glasses).

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How Microsoft can keep Win XP alive – and WHY: A real-world example

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Interesting article. I have an ancient laptop that is still soldiering on, and I am tempted to upgrade to win 7, which apparently is possible (and cheap: < 8 quid for me at uni), or failing that to wipe the entire windows partition and do a clean Linux install on the entire disk. Others, as indicated do not necessarily have such an option

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Chinese patent app tries to own Wine on ARM

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy

Re: Hold your horses ....

And before getting excited we should glance at our calendar

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Can you tell a man's intelligence simply by looking at him? Yes

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy

Re: And the 18th Century Says

Or in more modern guise: plastic surgery as retrophrenology!

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NSA plans to FREE YOUR DATA with range of cloud services, analytics

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy

Suspense of disbelief

did not last long enough

Nice try

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Researcher lights fire under Tesla security

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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I smell

a rat.

Maybe it is the date that makes me suspicious.

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Boeing, Cupertino to 'explore weaponisation of Apple technologies'

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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"Speculative engineering"??

Sounds like a new department at the Unseen University, right next to "Woolly Thinking" and "Cruel and Unusual Geography", or is it a new section of the Guild of Cunning Artificers?

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OkCupid falls out of love with 'anti-gay' Firefox, tells people to see other browsers

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy

Freedom of expression in action

There are many political movements with ideas despicable to me (anti-gay rights views are among them), but they have a right to say it out loud. In fact, I had rather they say it out loud, so I know what they are thinking, rather than having them scheme in the dark. In a democracy every political opinion may be expressed, and you may join or support every political party. At the same time you may be held accountable for your expressions, and if you step beyond the boundaries set by law, you may get punished. Furthermore, if you express opinions held in contempt by others, do not be surprised if they in their turn voice their contempt. It is their right.

Thus, Eich is perfectly allowed to support a political cause, OkCupid is perfectly entitled to protest, and we can hold both sides in contempt (or not) for different reasons. All part of democracy (nobody said it was going to be nice).

I still think the message of "love promoting" OkCupid comically full of bile, hence my smile.

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LOHAN team gears up for Punch and Judy show

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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It's been a long time since I watched a Punch and Judy show

But this one I'll watch.

I'll keep my fingers crossed

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Google confirms Turkish ISPs 'intercepted' its DNS service

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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I never thought I would be defending Twitter

I "block" my personal access to it by never logging in to it, and effectively ignoring it, but people wishing to reach it should be allowed to do so.

Blocking Twitter (and Youtube) was a pointless thing to do anyway. People work around it easily, and all it does is show that you are a humourless bully who cannot take criticism.

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Artists install Monty Python silly walk signs in Norwegian town

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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These bureaucrats have clearly all had their mandatory humourectomy

Yours sincerely

Tarquin Fin-tim-lin-bin-whin-bim-lim bus stop F'tang F'tang Ole Biscuitbarrel

(Silly Party)

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Dutch doctors replace woman's skull with 3D-printed plastic copy

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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One of the best uses of 3D printing I have seen

If not the best

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Say WHAT? ATVOD claims 44k Brit primary school kids look at smut online each month

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Re: Only 44,000?

The rest are net-savvy enough to hide their identity

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Sticky Tahr-fy pudding: Ubuntu 14.04 slickest Linux desktop ever

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Head to head

"A lot less than Windows to Linux as you're not going to have to change all your applications."

My main applications are IDEs, compilers, text editors (code plus LaTeX), MatLab and Mathematica (apart from the browser). All of them available in Linux. The odd MS-Office document I get opens well enough in LibreOffice. In our department people use Windows (7), Mac OS-X and Linux (Ubuntu) roughly equally. I myself have used all three. Despite my earlier struggles with windows versions, I quite like Win 7. For most of my work I prefer Linux.

Just goes to show: OS wars are SO last century

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VDI a 'delightful' experience... Really?

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Inetersting points raised

One thing I did not see is how to deal with a highly diverse user base. What is suitable for our secretarial staff is totally unsuitable for researchers and developers, and what is suitable for a researcher in software engineering is not suitable for somebody doing image processing or CUDA development. There is a tendency towards "one architecture to rule them all" in many IT departments, which would either deliver a complete overkill system for the low end users (leading to cost overruns for which IT is famous), or frustrate the hell out of power users. All to often, the latter is chosen.

There is of course a tension between keeping things simple for the IT staff and at the same time keeping a highly diverse and constantly changing customer base happy.

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First pics: Comet-chaser Rosetta hurtles towards icy prey, camera in hand

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy

Re: Science is amazing

Somebody gave me a very strange look when I said I was organising a star party. She wondered who I had invited, and when I answered that at least 4 people with scopes would be coming puzzlement was replaced by bafflement. Apparently she was expecting some celeb names.

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FINALLY Microsoft releases Office for iPad – but wait there's a CATCH

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: 5 people editing one document simultaneously

I can readily see that happening. Working with documents in some repository is commonplace. Having your docs in the cloud has problems however. My problem is that when I am in Uganda, Indonesia, South Africa or even Australia, I must have access to the full editing suite off-line. Never mind the annual subscription, connectivity problems and roaming charges would be my main concern. Even if the hotel or institute I visit does have good WIFI, I have had issues with connecting to data on servers here in Europe, and the moment you step out of the hotel or institute (e.g. working during a train journey) your only option is by mobile internet. That bill is going to hurt. In a plane even mobile internet is an issue.

This is not a Microsoft issue alone. I have tried one or two LaTeX editing suites for Android, and the ones I tested required access to internet to give full functionality. This is far from ideal.

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Bitcoin bloodbath as China shutters all trading sites

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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As Terry Pratchett said

"Rumour is information distilled so finely that it can filter through anything"

No currency or stock is totally immune to it. The value we assign to stocks, bonds or currencies is very much based on trust (or confidence, if you like). Rumour can shatter that confidence, or at least shake it sufficiently to wipe out a large amount of the assigned value. If I held any bitcoins I would be seriously worried.

I would go for Flainian Pobble Beads any time, and I have almost got one ningi (quite a way to go before I can deposit my first Triganic Pu)

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Nvidia unveils Pascal, its next-gen GPU with hella-fast interconnects and 3D packaging

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Interesting news

Memory bandwidth (also between CPU and GPU) is a major bottleneck, and designing algorithms to minimize data traffic over these buses is sometimes very difficult. Higher bandwidth should make designing algorithms for these machines less of a hassle.

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WOW! Google invents the DIGITAL WATCH: What a time to be alive

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

The arrival of the Vogons is nigh!!!!

As some ape-descended life forms apparently STILL think digital watches are a good idea.

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Nvidia unveils Titan Z: An 8TFLOPS off-the-shelf supercomputer disguised as a gfx card

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Would love to have one for certain HPC loads, not for others

It is amazing what can be done with "cheap" HPC systems. I do note that this kind of architecture is not that good at the type of compute load I tend to work on: heavily data-driven processing order. GPUs still prefer SIMD-like problems of "lots of the same" type seen in many physics problem. Alternatively, I need to rethink my algorithms, but at the moment the fastest kit we use for our problems is a 2U rack server with 64 AMD cores and 512 GB RAM.

As you might guess from the above, 12GB is also too small for most of my data sets, and we still haven't quite worked out how to do our work in distributed-memory machines. It would be great if we could find a way to harness these beasts for our kind of work, however

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Stop fondling that slab and shag, says lover rubber-glover

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

I thought that it was mandatory that every item used during Earth Hour must be reusable.

hmm, condoms? Reuse?

Yech!!

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NASA: Vote now to put FLASHY LIGHTS on future spacesuits

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Coat

Any votes for Cylon style sweeping red leds?

Sorry, couldn't resist

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As WinXP death looms, Microsoft releases its operating system SOURCE CODE for free

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Anybody else ever used brown-bag word processor?

I got the disk for HFL 4,- (less than 2 euro) and my wife wrote her MSc thesis on it. Simple, but it worked. I was more of a Wordstar user, as my documents (text data files from our image processing system) exceeded 64kB frequently. The column-mode editing in Wordstar was ideal for certain tricky manipulations with columns of data. I did like the first Word for Windows editions, but have switched to LaTeX since. I only ever use Word or Open/LibreOffice if I get documents from our management.

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Improbable: YOU gave model Lily Cole £200k for her Impossible.com whimsy-site

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

The words of Trillian ring true

"I don't know about impossible but it's very, very improbable."

In fact, it is so improbable I think they must have hooked up the logic circuitry of a Bambleweeny 57 sub-meson brain to an atomic vector plotter suspended in a strong Brownian motion generator to get this far.

I'm of to get a really hot cup of tea

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Ray-Ban to produce Google Glass data-goggs: Cool - or Tool?

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy

Re: Like the Blues Brothers reference

Or the more extravagant ones of Elton John or Dame Edna

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