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* Posts by Michael H.F. Wilkinson

2528 posts • joined 24 Apr 2007

Astroboffins spot HOT, YOUNG GIANT where she doesn't belong

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Re: and now for some math...

And anyway, please express the result in Vulture-Central units

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Inside Steve Ballmer’s fondleslab rear-guard action

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: No, Liam, I won't be using a fondleslab as my primary computer.

New tools rarely replace old tools outright. Since buying electric drills and screwdrivers I have not thrown away my hammers, or manual screwdrivers, nor will I. I use tablets (just got an ASUS Transformer Pad cheaply, like the hybrid set-up) and like them for browsing, but I still use my laptop and desktop machines (writing articles and coding), and when I need more serious grunt (Gigapixel images) a 64 core compute server, and when I want to play with the big boys with big data: clusters or supercomputers. I use WIMP or touch as needed, but very often still use the command line. As new tools are added to the toolbox, we gain flexibility. Do most users need the command line? I would not think so. Do I see my students use the command line? Not as much as I do, but they still revert to it for certain types of work.

I love using editors, or word processors, but boy am I glad I still have pen, pencil and paper.

I might also suggest PC sales are going down because many people have PCs that work just fine, and are in no hurry to upgrade.

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Creepy US spy agency flings WORLD SLURPING OCTOPUS into orbit

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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At least they are being honest about their intentions. Rare enough in politicians, spooks, and bureaucrats

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Blighty's winter storms are PUNY compared to Saturn's 200mph, 15,000 mile wide HEXACANE

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Looks like a copyright symbol on that storm (top image, lower part of hexagon)

SOMEBODY HAS COPYRIGHTED SATURN!!!!!

Quick! Who can we blame?

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NASA opens its Jupiter photo album to honour Pioneer 10

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Pint

That brings back memories

I followed all the Mariner, Viking, Pioneer, Voyager mission as a kid/youngster. Awesome era of space research. I will raise a glass to this anniversary, and all the engineers and other (other) visionaries involved.

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Calling Doctor Caroline Langensiepen of Nottingham Trent uni

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Neat, but...

a true compute science approach to generate an ElReg-style paper would be to write a script to turn an ordinary paper into and ElReg paper by auto replacement of terms like "scientist" into "boffin", "psychologist" into "trick cyclist", and convert every SI unit into approved ElReg units. Alternatively, adapt the SCIgen automatic scientific paper generator into an ElReg article generator

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What is thy bidding? Han Solo’s shooter goes under the hammer

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Coat

Z: "Imagine I have a blaster ray in my hand"

Captain: "But you have a blaster ray in your hand"

Z: "So you wouldn't have to tax your imagination too much"

Mine is the one with the Genuine Kill-O-Zap Gun in the pocket

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Top comet-watcher pens ISON's emotional obituary

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Pint

Great In Memoriam! I'll drink to that (as if I needed an excuse )

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Saturn's moon Titan had swamps, say astroboffins

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Coat

Yes, they were all called Zem

The one with the radio plays on cassette tape in the pocket please

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Fun-killing fireshow-flunking ZOMBIE COMET ISON only LOOKED alive

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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RIP ISON

Pity it fizzled out. For those eager to see a comet, try Lovejoy, a finder chart can be found on the same site. Nice comet to view in binoculars

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India's Martian MOM leaves the nest

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Alien

Re: Wrong Priorities

You are right. By not going on this mission they could have spent a whole $0.06 per capita on education and the like. Besides, by developing the capability to launch hefty kit into any orbit they please (cheaply), they are not gaining access to any kind of useful market. After all, satellites aren't money spinners, and level-headed business men like Elon Musk steer well clear of this kind of frivolous, money-wasting projects.

Aliens, because, well, it's about Mars, init?

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China's Jade Rabbit takes great hop for mankind

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Thumb Up

Big thumbs up to the Chinese

I'll keep my fingers crossed for Yutu (is there a U2 fan in the team? ;-) )

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Fancy knocking off early? Just run our fake computer crash 'virus', say admen

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Joke

Re: Utter Bastards

The UTTER bastard is the one wielding the cattle prods and sending abusive e-mails in your name to the CEO to get you fired. Oh, and his PFY would put you on some most-wanted (armed and dangerous) list to give you a well-deserved wake-up call by armed police.

Isn't that about right, Simon?

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Coat

I sense a little student project with webcam and computer vision software coming on. Detect hat + coat = crash system.

Hat and coat please!

Deary me, the computer cra...

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Asus Transformer Book T100: Xbox One? PS4? Nah, get a cute convertible for Christmas

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

I have seen it for 349 Euro here in the Netherlands also too much compared with US prices, but not as ridiculous as the UK. Rip-off Britain at work?

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'Schrödinger's Comet' ISON LIVES (or DOESN'T) after Thanksgiving solar roast

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Joke

Re: 'Schrödinger's Comet'

No, no, no!! Quantum theory states:

1/√2 | IsON ⟩ + 1/√2 | IsOff ⟩

Until the observers can reach agreement, I suppose

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RIP Comet ISON: ???-2013. We hardly knew ye

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy
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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Joke

If it does emerge again if should say

"I'm not dead yet!!

I'm feeling better"

Alternatively, we should train larger scopes on it to see if there is a card

"I aten't dead!"

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Unhappy

There does seem to be some remnant there, but it is unlikely to give us a spectacular show. Pity for those living in parts of the world not covered in solid clouds for the next week or two.

I am happy I took the time to spot it in the morning sky (and was lucky enough to have two whole clear mornings this whole autumn),

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I ATEN'T DEAD?

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy

I ATEN'T DEAD?

Latest SOHO image suggest ISON is lighting up again. Now all I need is a clear patch of sky

ftp://sohoftp.nascom.nasa.gov/incoming/lasco/rtmovie_jpg24/20131129_0818_c3.jpg

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Anglo-Australian cricket brawl spills over into coding clash

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Coat

Howzat!!!

For a lame game?

Sorry, I'll get me coat. The one with Wisden in the pocket please

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Mass Effect: Ten lightweight laptops that won’t bust your back

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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No nVidia = no CUDA = No deal

For me at least, though for many others it is no problem.

My battered old VAIO SZ series machine came with an nVidia card, and weighed in at onl 1.67 kg. I seriously need to replace it, but this crop of machines does not fit the bill. Pity, because there are some nice screens out there that finally push beyond the poor 1366x768 that plagued so many 13.X" screens (and beyond).

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Thai man reportedly dies clutching his scorched iPhone 4S

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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@ Stoneshop Re: The wonders of having a metal phone body

You are right: the filter is the main culprit. Possibly the reduced distance between mains and low-voltage ends of the small transformer (compared to the beefier old ones) increases risk, but that distance is not smaller that the distances typically found in optical couplers (and they are safe, as a rule).

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: The wonders of having a metal phone body

As the charger is only designed to deliver a few volts, and almost any plug you think of has the zero/earth on the outer shell of the plug, a metal casing should be perfectly safe. An old-fashioned charger with transformer would insulate the low voltage circuit completely from mains, and is therefore the safer option. However, with copper prices the way they are, and the weight and bulk of a transformer, most supplies are now switching power supplies, in which there is a potential conductive path from mains to low voltage. Properly designed, there should be fail-safes that should prevent accidents happening. In cheap replacements, these can apparently fail. So while I can understand why phone designers can get metal casings approved, a plastic case would provide an extra fail-safe. Not buying dodgy chargers is another.

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Sysadmin job ad: 'If you don’t mind really bad work-life balance, this is for you'

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy

They clear studied C. Northcote Parkinson

This ad is a page out of The Short List. The aim is to frame the ad in such a way that you only get one candidate,

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China: 'JADE RABBIT' will be FOUND ON MOON

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Joke

Rabbit?

What will it's first instruction be: "Go forth and multiply"?

Sorry, couldn't resist. I'll keep my fingers crossed for their mission. It is great to see more people get involved in serious space exploration.

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Our Sun menaces comet 'of the century' ISON with FIERY DESTRUCTION

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Fingers crossed

But I fear clouds will spoil the party here.

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Revealed: How Microsoft DNS went titsup globally on Xbox One launch day

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Joke

Re: Translation from MS BOFH speak to English...

A BOFH would have issued some non-maskable interrupts to the groinal area of those responsible. Next time (and I do not doubt there will be a next time) Azure and Office 365 fail be on the look-out for heads of IT or beancounters showing signs of discomfort in said area

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Vintage WINE laid down in SIXTEEN HUNDRED BC was 'psychotropic'

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

If you are right

there should be a HUGE room full of ancient shoes nearby

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BOFH: Resistance is futile - we're missing BEER O'CLOCK

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Thumb Up

Very nice indeed

Simon is on form. The long wait we had before this sudden burst of episodes has been spent well, methinks. Or maybe he had to recharge a battery (of the cattle prod, no doubt)

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Google deletes Maps satellite photos of 14-year-old's unsolved murder

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Boffin

Re: @SeeingMole

Good points. I do satellite image analysis as part of my research, and most satellite data are used (panchromatic) at 1m resolution (these are often down-sampled to 2m to reduce the compute and storage load by a factor of four). To process the entire land surface of the world (150 Tpixel at 1m, give or take) in a week is quite a challenge, logistically and computationally. The new generation of satellites can give 30cm resolution, so roughly ten times more data: 1.5 Exapixel (ouch). Recognizing anybody at 30 cm resolution is impossible. Better resolution may be available in military satellites, but normally higher resolution work is done by aerial imaging.

What I do not understand in Google's reaction is why they do not apply some simple morphological filters to the image patch to remove the details. This is quite easy and fast. Using simple area-open-close, or levelling from markers you could remove the small features on the road without affecting the rest. Alternatively, edit out the data manually, and use image inpainting to stitch up the hole.

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Reg hack fondles a sexy Pro: An Apple MacBook 13in with Retina display

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Happy

The lack of upgrade option is slightly ironic

Given that the original Apple II was a runaway success precisely because it could be upgraded and extended so easily.

Having said that, I have never yet upgraded my laptop. My desktop is another matter. That has had its guts removed frequently, and between complete rebuilds has had many graphics card, memory, and disk upgrades. Most people expect to replace laptops every 2 or 3 years, which is why they wonder why I still use my battered old VAIO SZ (8.5 years old). The reason is probably that I am cheap and/or too lazy to get another one.

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Autopilot guides Texan plane home from a dizzying 30,000m

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Thumb Up

You guys really know haw to build up excitement!

Go LOHAN, GO!

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LOOK UP! Comet ISON could EXPLODE in our skies – astronomers

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Darn

I have spotted ISON a week or so ago, not much to look at through my 15x70 binoculars, but nice to have seen. Solid grey cloud ever since, so any brightening or fragmentation well hidden here in the Netherlands. I did spot comet Lovejoy in Leo, and it is very nice indeed through binoculars. Comet C/2012 X1 was visible too, but only just in my big binoculars,but alas I missed Encke. Still three out of four reasonably bright comets in one (early) morning session is great.

Now we hear Comet Nevski (also in Leo) has brightened and should be visible in small telescopes or big binoculars, but of course, clouds block the view (the Netherlands is every bit as bad as the UK).

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Who’s Who: a Reg quest to find the BEST DOCTOR

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy

I only ever got to see Tom Baker as a kid in the Netherlands. That is probably why he is my favourite. For the same reason, the original Star Trek is my favourite. Mr Spock was my favourite character, but that is of course logical.

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WHO was it that TAMED the WOLF? Heel, Rex! No! Aarrghh!

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy

I thought cats domesticated us

See "The Unadulterated Cat" by T. Pratchett

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Goodbye cruel world: Robot 'commits suicide' in KITCHEN FIREBALL

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Coat

You people do not understand the suffering

caused by a pain in all the diodes down its left side

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Coroner suggests cars should block mobile phones

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Boffin

Re; Yes well... + Statistics 101

"4: Fix the roads. 80% of deaths on country roads occur on bends because 80% of country roads is made up of bends."

If 80% of deaths occur on 80% of the roads, that strongly suggests the remaining 20% has 20% of the deaths, and therefore are no safer that the 80% referred to previously.

Bends are likely to be more dangerous, but the "statistics" cited don't show it

Just my tuppence

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Tales from an expert witness: Lasers, guns and singing Santas

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Thumb Up

Very interesting read!!

Thanks for that

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BOFH: One flew over the PFY's nest

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Superb!

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Forget invisible kittens, now TANKS draped in INVISIBILITY CLOAK

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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What we really need

is an invisibility cloak to bring new bits of kit into the house under the missus' radar. Very difficult as the missus' radar is sensitive to non-electromagnetic guilt waves given off by any man who has just bought yet another tech toy.

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Look at how many ways we ruin your life, Redmond boasts

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Happy

A modest proposal for correction

Perhaps the sentence

"47 per cent have worked while on vacation (either they or their employers have an inadequate grasp of the definition of “vacation”. Hint: “if you call me about work on December 25, I will hang up”)."

Should be amended to

"47 per cent have worked while on vacation (either they or their employers have an inadequate grasp of the definition of “vacation”. Hint: “if you call me about work on December 25, I will hang you from the highest gallows”)."

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Stephen Hawking: 'Boring' Higgs Boson discovery cost me $100

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy

Memorable phrase

"boffinry bitchslap brouhaha"

Well done, sir(s) well done!

How long did the Reg hacks wait for a suitable situation to use this phrase?

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Ricoh Theta 360˚ camera: Point and click immersive imaging

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Coat

Re: No Photosphere ?

Photosphere? I just observed the photosphere, and it was full of spots, by contrast, the chromosphere showed lots of prominences.

Coat please, and hand me the backpack with the solar H-alpha telescope

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Oracle pours hot, steaming Java into heterogeneous heaven

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

Mixed feelings

It is good to see movement towards better tooling to deal with the complexity of coding on complex platforms such as GP-GPU/CPU hybrids/clusters you name it. At the same time I sometimes doubt that I will always get an efficient solution if hardware details are hidden from the coder. Some code optimizers to a sterling job on a variety of tasks, but sometimes you need to tailor your approach to the underlying architecture. Of course, if a tool works well in a large percentage of cases that is still a bonus, so long as the tools do not get in the way of people needing to access the machine at a lower level of abstraction, for those instances not properly covered by the tools.

One real fear is that people will assume that the code optimizer (or smart virtual machine in the case of Java) will do the work for them, and solve all their problems. I do not so much fear that real coders of parallel systems will walk blindly into that trap, but things might be different in higher management layers of an organization. I can just hear them say "Why do we need these expensive experts, when the code optimizer can automatically parallelize your code?"

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Boffins boggled by ORB-shaped electrons

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy

Re: The good old boring standard model

Who is running the simulations?

Easy: White mice!!

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HUMANITY STUNNED - Apple Retina iPad Mini arrives. A solemn moment

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Coat

Re: Nice display

Waddyamean pointless! it has far more little points than the old one!!

Sorry, couldn't resist.

Best exit fast before Bad Punnery Enforcement Squad arrives

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RETRO-GASM: The Fuze electronics kit for the Raspberry Pi

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Really really basic computers

It is important that we still teach machine coding at some level. I have included coding very simple programs on a simulated microprocessor in our course "Introduction to Computing Science". It helps people understand what goes on "under the hood" when coding in C (in the course "Imperative Programming" running in parallel). These simulators can run on the Pi or Arduino controllers, I suppose. In particular, simulators can show what is going on graphically, and that helps understanding as well.

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy

WANT!!!!!

Ah, what a trip down nostalgia lane, but with the processing grunt of a million pound (or more) machine from the 70s and 80s.

I must get myself one of these things (with the excuse of getting it for educational purposes for the kids, to make it fly under the missus' radar)

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BOFH: GOATSE? No, I said goat fetis... you know what, forget it

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Happy

Re: Baaaaaaaaaaa!

As Blackadder said to lord Melchett.

Brilliant episode (both this BOFH and that edition of Blackadder)

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