* Posts by Michael H.F. Wilkinson

3035 posts • joined 24 Apr 2007

UK cyber-spy law takes Snowden's revelations of mass surveillance – and sets them in stone

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Boffin

I have said it once, I will say it AGAIN

Three words:

One .... Time ... Pad

To explain to the apparently hard of hearing (i.e. those in government): If people REALLY want to encrypt, they can, and NOBODY can even tell it is an encrypted message, not just a load of digitized line noise. Hide the line noise in a cat video and only those who know which one it is, and what pad to use can decrypt. GCHQ knows this, the NSA knows this.

11
2

Music lovers move to block Phil Collins' rebirth

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

Re: Not my music but ...

I remember Alexei Sayle stating German scientists had discovered the gene that turns you off pop music at the precise age of 37.5

Still like some modern music, but I do sound more like me mum these days

11
0

Linus Torvalds fires off angry 'compiler-masturbation' rant

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Coat

Re: Goto vs Break

Come on you guys, give goto a break

Sorry, couldn't resist. I'll get my coat. The one with that Kernighan and Ritchie book in the pocket please

3
0

Linus looses Linux 4.3 on a waiting world

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Joke

Confusion can be a real problem. Confusing the order "loose the dogs" with "lose the dogs" could have bad consequences for the canine companions, especially in certain shady circles

9
0

How Microsoft will cram Windows 10 even harder down your PC's throat early next year

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Coat

Re: Stonehenge

Nah, all the Druids know it is far easier to build a new 64 MegaLith computer than upgrading the old one

Doffs hat to the late great Terry Prattchet

10
0

Safe Harbor 2.0: Judges to keep NSA spying in check – EU justice boss

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Meh

Somehow ....

I am not impressed. Can't think why

</sarcasm>

2
0
Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Black Helicopters

Re: And??

"I am sorry, Dave, I am afraid I can't tell you that."

Where is that HAL9000 icon when you need it?

Oh well, black chopper then

3
0

Ex-Microsoft craft ale buffs rattle tankard for desktop brewery

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Pint

Re: It looks like you're trying to get pissed...

Nah, I have plenty of experience

3
0

'Govt will not pass laws to ban encryption' – Baroness Shields

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Big Brother

So how do you distinguish REALLY good encryption from noise?

now where did that one-time pad go?

Trotting out the security excuse is getting tiresome. You fundamentally cannot be free without an element of risk being present, just as a democracy cannot function if there is no guarantee of privacy at some level (the election booth at minimum).

19
0

Brit boffins build 'tractor beam' out of sound

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Happy

well obviously the sargent shouts

but the grunts to the moving

1
0
Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Joke

There is some prior art for single sided emitters moving things

Brian Blessed can move things with sound, especially people, many of whom move away with alacrity.

Joking aside, this is a very interesting development, and well done to the acousto-boffins! This might also be an interesting project to simulate for our students. I'll give the paper a thorough read

7
0

Mutant space germs threaten International Space Station

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Boffin

Opportunistic pathogens

are simply bacteria that are harmless under most circumstances, and happily coexist with us on our skin or in our bowels. Only when there is serious suppression of the immune system can they become a problem (i.e. when there is an opportunity). It should come as no surprise that these creatures were found, and I would go along with the advice on the cover of the book

"What book?"

"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy"

"Oh, that hack rag"

11
0

Anons blow Japanese airports off-course in dolphin cull protest

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

At some point the dolphins will just be gone

and we will find in our inboxes the message:

So long, and thanks for all the fish!

5
1

'Death star' reaches out invisible hand, rips planet apart

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

Very interesting

Makes you wonder what fireworks would go of if the planet (or its remains) finally nosedive into the white dwarf

0
0

Don't Panic: Even if asteroid showers cause mass extinctions ...

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Joke

We really, really

need to invent slood!

4
0

Elderly? Disabled? You clearly need a .38" Palm Pistol

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Joke

Vimes is going to go spare!!

This reminds me of the pistol crossbow from The Fifth Elephant: the one shot nobody expects. Given the short barrel you would almost need to press it against somebody to be sure of hitting him. At zero mm range, almost any ammo can cause severe damage. As such you might go along with Vimes' conclusion that it is a weapon designed to kill, not to deter, as a more fire-arm shaped object might. No doubt, if he found it, he would insert it where the sun doesn't shine.

No doubt various secret services who might find such an object useful have more Q-esque versions readily available

1
0
Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Joke

Re: Second Time's A Charm?

I thought they were Holy Hand Grenades? Those should be booked under clerical supplies, shouldn't they

1
0

India's mobile operators move to head off dropped-call refunds

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Happy

Re: The old microwave trick

<Clouseau accent>

Ah, the old Faraday cage ploy!

</Clouseau accent>

2
0
Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Joke

Lead lined?

Silver or copper would shield just that little bit better than lead (better conductivity), unless Indian Telcos use X-rays or gamma rays for communication, which would explain dropped calls: people dropping dead at the other end

</pedantry> ;-)

1
0

Nippy, palaver and cockwomble: Greatest words in English?

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

Wainscotting

Which does sound like a village in Dorset

I also rather like Terry Pratchett's use of the word "preventative" for a condom. So much better than "preservative" (which I still don't get)

1
0

Microsoft now awfully pushy with Windows 10 on Win 7, 8 PCs – Reg readers hit back

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

Re: Hardware support/drivers

Don't get me started. Windows 2000 didn't support a bog-standard S3-based graphics card from a well-known vendor made in 1999(!). In did support my considerably older Matrox Millenium card, fortunately.

I thought I had blocked the Win10 nagware on our main home desktop PC, but it has started nagging again. I will see what I can do about that

1
0

NASA preps test of broadband-from-spaaaaace project

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Joke

Given that this laser system is so compact

Can it be put on a frickin' shark?

Sorry, couldn't resist

2
0

Man goes to collect stolen-car court docs found in stolen car in stolen car

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Facepalm

Clearly from the shallow end of the gene pool

Doh! indeed

2
0

Factory settings FAIL: Data easily recovered from eBayed smartphones, disks

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Mushroom

Re: Re. Microwave

Alternatively, when disposing of larger quantities, use a flame thrower, and say:"I love the smell of napalm in the morning" for the sake of style.

0
0

US Treasury: How did ISIS get your trucks? Toyota: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Mushroom

Maybe, just maybe

these heavily armed people used coercion to obtain these vehicles

"Nice showroom you have there, would be such a shame if someone blew it up" (hence icon)

certainly an option worth considering

20
1

Australian boffins say Quantum Pentiums are on the horizon

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Joke

So a quantum breakthrough

is a superposition of success and failure

Until observed consciously, of course!

More seriously: well done to the Ozzy boffins!

11
0

Beard transplants up 600% for men 'lacking length elsewhere'

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Joke

A modest proposal for another potential use of beard transplants

They could have been popular back in the days of Brian of Nazareth

2
0
Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Coat

Re: Shave every day?

11) Bearded men are incessantly approached by improbable researchers to test feline reactions to them

2
0
Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Joke

Re: Shaved my beard yesterday.

Don't look at me, I never get a cut of that money

2
0

Ubuntu 15.10: More kitten than beast – but beware the claws

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Coat

I always thought

Wile E. was a coyote, not a werewolf

I'll get me coat. The one with the Roadrunner cartoons in the pocket please

1
0

Mars water discovery is a liberal-muslim plot, cry moist conspiracy theorists

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Joke

Re: Someone's lift... @Grikath

We STILL need to invent slood before we can make any headway

1
0

The Steve Jobs of supercomputers: We remember Seymour Cray

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

Re: Happy days

Same here. My first programming was on a CDC 7600 and much later did loads more serious work on the J932 and SV1e. Cray didn't just provide good hardware, but also cracking good compilers. They could recognize just about the most obfusticated bunch of for-loops as a matrix multiplication and replace the code by some optimized routine from their library. What I really liked about both the SV1e and J932 is how these shared-memory machines managed to attain an average performance of roughly 2/3rds of the theoretical peak. Some really nifty scheduling going on, which is VERY hard to accomplish on clusters.

0
0

BOFH: I'm not doing this for the benefit of your health, you know

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Thumb Up

Absolutely classic episode!

Simon is on form

1
0

Anthropology boffins solve 9,000-year-old headless body cold case

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Coat

Re: Post-mortem decapitation

Maybe their coffins were just not quite long enough

Sorry, I'll get me coat

0
0

Boffins make brain-to-brain direct communication breakthrough

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Joke

Just "yes" and "no" can go a long way

After all, that's just binary. Send enough bits, and you can encode anything. OK, bitrate might be a tad low, but hey, just overclock the brain!

3
0

Our cookies save you from TERRORISTS, Facebook thunders to Belgian judge

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Mushroom

And people still wonder

why I do not do Facebook.

5
0

Indianapolis man paints his ball every day – for FORTY YEARS

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Pint

I'll raise a glass to eccentricity

Brilliant case of doing something "just because". More of this kind of harmless weirdness can make the world a better place (in a small way), simply by putting a smile on peoples' faces.

I wonder if he has photographs of the increase as a function of time. Could be publishable in Annals of Improbable Research. Might even be a candidate for an Ig Nobel Prize.

24
0

Microsoft starts to fix Start Menu in new Windows 10 preview

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Boffin

Re: M$

There is a subtle distinction between infinite and unbounded, ask any mathematician. I certainly do not want an infinite number of items, but I might not want to set a rigid bound. This is the subtle distinction between implementing a list as a static array or a dynamic data structure like a linked list. More than a decade ago one PhD student here scorned LaTeX, and wrote his thesis in MS Word, calling us LaTeX users old-fashioned, stuck-in-the-mud, conservative, etc. There were one or two sniggers when his equation editor stopped working after 128 equation objects were in the file. He phoned the helpline, and they simply told him to split the thesis into smaller chunks, each containing no more than 128 equation objects. Now this was an old version of MS-Word, and the problem may since have bee sorted, but having the limit in the first place is odd, especially given the phrase "Object Link Embedding" used for the implementation method. The phrase suggests an underlying dynamic structure, which clearly wasn't there.

Of course, I might not want infinitely many equations, but I would hesitate to set a fixed upper limit.

18
0

Mars needs TRAFFIC COP to stop probe prangs, says NASA

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

Re: Just add SPICE

In principle, SPICE should work. However, to work accurately SPICE needs an accurate model of the gravitational field around the planet. For Earth, decades of data gathering have yielded a good model, but it is still being refined. For Mars, the data are far more sparse, I would assume, so the model is not nearly as good, I would assume. It might be good enough, of course

SNAP ;-)

0
0

SOHO solar scope spies 3000th 'sungrazer' comet

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Pint

Well done that man!

A toast to the 3000th Soho Sun-grazer and Worachate Boonplod!

(and yes, that does sound a bit like a History Monk's name to me, but goodness knows what my name means in Thai)

2
0

Asus ZenBook UX305: With Windows 10, it suddenly makes perfect sense

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

Re: touchpad

The UX305 I have does support multi-touch and swipes on the touchpad, and that is a definite step up from my older laptops. I haven't compared it directly to the MacBook, so cannot say which is better. I have worked on earlier MacBooks and got on perfectly well (give me bash, emacs, LaTeX and a compiler and I am quite happy ;-)). OS-wars are SO last century ;-)

0
0
Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

Re: RAM?

My UX305 model has 4GB which actually is enough for my work on the laptop (8GB would be nicer, of course, but that model, with 256GB SSD was beyond my budget). I have a 16GB desktop for heavier lifting, and a 512GB compute server at work for more serious stuff. Replacing the disk is something I may well consider. I was thinking that if I clone the windows disk image and it doesn't work, I could put back the original disk, and put the bigger SSD in my desktop (which has only HDD). If it does work, I would wipe the 128GB one and install that in the desktop.

0
0
Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

I like it

I have bought one some weeks back and really like it. Excellent travel laptop. Haven't put Linux on it just yet. Apart from work, I use mine to capture solar H-alpha mosaic images, and the SSD keeps up with the full-HD 128FPS camera I use for that. It is also really fast processing the 60-odd GB of data I collect for each mosaic. Much faster than a Core i5 HDD machine I have. I will put Linux on when I get that external USB3 SSD to stream the captured data onto, so I can split the 128GB disk into a Linux and Windows partition.

4
0

Brown kid with Arab name arrested for bringing home-made clock to school

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

Re: Hysteria

"Lets just hope Hollywood never depicts a car bomb, we'd all get arrested driving to work."

Only if you look Arabic (to a cop, that is)

Regarding the poor kid: Appalling behaviour by the police and the school principal, but alas not unexpected. The principal is rather unprincipled, methinks

32
2

PRIME SPACE: Bezos in Cape Canaveral SPACE PODULE debut

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Happy

Is a commercial space race hotting up?

Could be interesting. I will watch (this) space with interest

1
0

BAN the ROBOT WHORES, says robot whore expert: 'These AREN'T BARBIES'

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Joke

Re: Where does she draw the line?

I think you should draw the line when they implement the GPP-feature. Not necessarily for ethical reasons, but just because Sirius Cybernetics is bound to get something HORRIBLY wrong in "your plastic pal who's fun to be with".

That, and inevitably the genuine people personality will be thoroughly annoying in some way

3
0

KREMLIN: Google is ABUSING ITSELF, misusing its mighty market position

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Joke

Re: Surely the Kremlin would be familiar with rule #1?

BTW, I thought rule 1 was:

"Do not act incautiously when confronting little bald wrinkly smiling men"

0
0
Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

Re: Surely the Kremlin would be familiar with rule #1?

I am not at all opposed to a little introspection by Google, but I am not sure Putin sees them as a crazed tyrant. I think he just sees them as a potential source of protection moneyfines.

"That's a nice data centre you have there. It would be a shame if something happened to it"

2
0

Vanished global warming may not return – UK Met Office

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Joke

WHAT??!! No mention of an impending Maunder Minimum?

Which may plunge us into a mini ice age!! (Or not, of course)

Runs for cover ;-)

<sermon>

Seriously, as a scientist (not climate science, I hasten to add) I find the bickering and mud-slinging (perpetrated by both sides) tiresome and unhelpful in the extreme. As scientists we are bound to disagree, but at least keep the discussion civil

</sermon>

And anyway, not burning up non-renewable fuels might be a good idea whatever the truth about global warming. We might need that stuff in the future for other things

6
0

Post-pub nosh neckfiller: Fancy a ham and cheese 'dry tree trunk' sarnie?

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Pint

Re: @ tfewster

I will comment on the quality of Asturian cider when I have had a statistically significant sample of it.

1
0

Forums