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* Posts by Hugh Pumphrey

45 posts • joined 20 Apr 2009

iPhone 6 FEELS your heat, wetness... and it'll TELL Apple – report

Hugh Pumphrey

Re: weather

>>GPS location is okay but it's very poor at telling you your altitude

> Really?

Depends on what you mean by "really bad". The height precision on a normal GPS tends to be about half as good as the horizontal precision. The latter is what they tell you about, so if your GPS says it is working to a precision of 5m, the altitude reading is probably only good to 10m. You may have a large offset (several 10s of metres) from the heights on your OS map IF your GPS is not correcting for the difference between the geoid and the ellipsoid.

So, if your geoid correction is working, the altitudes from your GPS are good enough for hiking etc. They are probably as good as you get from the cheap-ass barometers --- these are only good to about 1 hPa or 10m, and you have the additional problem that changes in the weather can re-calibrate the altitudes from your barometer by several 100s of metres.

The GPS altitude is therefore definitely as good or better than you will get from a cheap barometer, and better in some ways than even an excellent barometer. It still isn't brilliant: if you want centimetre accuracy you need to use differential GPS (MUCH more expensive) or old-fashioned surveying gear (heavy and slow).

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Plusnet goes titsup for spectacular hour-long wobble

Hugh Pumphrey

DNS problems likely

I'm not at home right now. But I have had internet supplied by PlusNet and their predecessors since the days of dialup. I have had sporadic problems for a while now and I strongly suspect that they are DNS-related. When the problem occurrs I can view simple web sites and ssh into work as long as I use the numerical IP address. Usually, the problem only lasts a few minutes. I keep meaning to nag PlusNet about it but I have been too busy. Today's fracas seems like a more widespread version of the ongoing problem I have been observing.

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LOHAN chap brews up 18% ABV 'V2' rocket fuel

Hugh Pumphrey

Read it. Now!

"This is from Clark's excellent and entertaining book 'Ignition' available out there on the interwebs."

I just went off to look for this, and I suggest you do the same. I'm up to page 10 and it is utterly gripping and pants-wettingly hilarious. Chuck out whatever dull novel you are reading --- this is guaranteed to be better.

I'm sure that the BOFH has a copy that he has not lent to the PFY.

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El Reg BuzzFelch: 10 Electrical Connectors You CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT!

Hugh Pumphrey

F---ing connectors

In these days of DAB radio and satellite TV, can I really be the first to mention the F connector? And what is the name of those odd co-ax plugs used for analog TV aeriels? And for proper wake-in-the-night-sweating nightmares: SCSI. All 573 varieties.

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Ten classic electronic calculators from the 1970s and 1980s

Hugh Pumphrey

Re: No early casio?!?

"check em under a magnifying glass to see the slightly glowing red anode lines..."

cornz 1, your post inspired me to put some batteries in my 1975(ish) casio fx31, just to see the turquoise glowing display light up again. You can indeed see the anode lines glowing; I can't remember if I ever noticed this before.

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BOFH: One flew over the PFY's nest

Hugh Pumphrey

Awesome!

I would be happy with an installment once every two months if they were all as brilliant as this one!

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Secret ROYAL BABY birth VIDEO leaked! (And other malware scams)

Hugh Pumphrey
Headmaster

Re: Obsession?

When monarchy has been broken (historically) it was fixed good and proper (one execution, one forced abdication).

You forgot "one replacement by a Dutch bloke because he was the only Stuart who wasn't useless".

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LOHAN chap to launch Raspberry Pi eye in the sky

Hugh Pumphrey
Boffin

Channel?

I'd say "North Sea" was more likely than "English channel" A quick look at the forecast charts suggests the balloons will fly somewhere between Stavanger and Schleswig-Holstein, depending on your rise rate.

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Spies in the sky: The leaps and bounds from balloons to spook sats

Hugh Pumphrey
Go

Re: SR-71 some planes are so cool

If you like that stuff, but live so far north that Duxford is not a day trip, you might like the museum of flight at East Fortune some 15 miles east of Edinburgh. There is a concorde and a vulcan, among other stuff. Lighter-than-air fans will enjoy the fact that it is the starting point of the R34's double Atlantic crossing.

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Solar undercuts coal in New Mexico

Hugh Pumphrey
Boffin

Re: re: clueless rubes

Does the heat stored in the soil / sand that is being released in the evening too help a solar plant somehow? I would have thought that it's only the sun rays that are converted into energy. But I am often wrong, so...

You are correct, it doesn't help the power plant at all. Solar power requires the short-wavelength (500nm) photons that come from a very hot thing, i.e. the Sun. The long-wavelength photons (10 um) that are emitted by the ground are essentially energy that is already more-or-less in thermal equilibrium with its surroundings. The second law of thermodynamics means that you can not get it to do any useful work.

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BEST reiterates ‘no solar forcing’ claim

Hugh Pumphrey
Boffin

Re: Open Journals

"Open Journals Will never have the endorsement of the scientific community as a whole"

This is a rubbish generalisation. Per se, the open-access-ness of a journal does not make it a bad journal. In atmospheric science the open-access jounal "Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics" costs a similar price (for the author) as the non-open AGU journals, has a similar impact factor, and has just as rigourous a peer-review process. (I know because I have published papers in both). Over the last decade, ACP has gone from a new journal that had people asking what it was for to being one of the two or three most important journals in the field.

Quite independent of the above is the recent phenomenon of junk journals with (I suspect) feeble peer review, many of them put out by Chinese and Indian publishers that you have never heard of. These publishers are a major source of spam email for working scientists. Their journals are often open-access, but it is not the fact that they are open-access that makes them an annoying waste of space.

For BEST to have chosen what appears to be one of these junk journals for their paper seems odd. It looks at first sight to be competent enough to get into a more established journal. It remains to be seen whether "Geoinformatics and Geostatistics" becomes the next ACP, or whether it vanishes without trace.

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Moon riven by colossal cracks

Hugh Pumphrey
Boffin

Re: Request for technical information

The thing about the Moon is that it has no atmosphere, so you can orbit it at a much lower altitude. Grace's initial altitude was actually 500km (typical for low earth orbit satellites: much lower and you drop out of orbit quite fast). GRAIL orbits at a mere 50km above the moon surface, so it can achieve much better horizontal resolution.

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Power to the people - if you can find a spare socket

Hugh Pumphrey
WTF?

Ewww! Really?

The "real world" out there is clearly a very different place from the gummint research labs and universities that I am familiar with, all of which have plenty of power sockets. Rutherford Appleton lab even hands you a temporary WiFi account as soon as you go through security if you are there for a 1-day meeting.

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BBC iPlayer downloads BORKED by Adobe Air update

Hugh Pumphrey
Linux

Annoyingness ^ N for some large N

I used to dislike iPlayer desktop because it uses Air, and Adobe stopped supporting Air for Linux, having first sold Air as "cross-platform".

Having spent an hour this week working out what was wrong with iPlayer on the family Windows machine, I decided that I hate iPlayer desktop because it uses Air, and the combination is a bug-riddled mess on any operating system where it is still supported.

And the reason the problem is serious is that many non-geeks (e.g. the wife, the mother-in-law) find that the "download now, watch later" service is exactly what they want, when it is working, and is therefore a huge annoyance when it is broken.

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Boffins create 100,000 DPI image

Hugh Pumphrey
FAIL

Re: It is over here:

Far too classy. I blame the "o" key on this keyboard.

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Hugh Pumphrey
Boffin

It is over here:

http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~chuck/lennapg There is a link at the bottom of the page to a scan of the whole image.

<=== Not Paris: Lena is far to classy to be compared to Ms Hilton.

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Amazon Kindle Touch Wi-Fi eBook reader review

Hugh Pumphrey

Uh, wot they said

Both the reviewer and Neil Barnes are pretty much on the money IMHO. We have both a touch and a Kindle-4-with-buttons and there are not many reasons for paying the extra for the touch, especially if all you want to do is read books. The touch is noticeably heavier and thicker, and its propensity for turning over a page when you didn't intend to touch the screen is annoying. You also can't use the touch inside a ziplock bag: a useful ploy when reading the K4 in wet or sandy environments. And the whole touching and scrolling experience is petty clunky; not at all android/iPhone-like.

The touch wins only if you want the rudimentary mp3 player, or for anything that demands you enter text --- using the on-screen keyboard is much faster on the touch than the K4. My intention is to jailbreak it so that I can entertain myself by using its command line --- you wouldn't want to do that on the K4; it would be laborious to type "ls" or "cd".

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'Biocoal' fuels steam train comeback

Hugh Pumphrey
Boffin

Re: Loco has been stabilised?

Tornado FTW: it would probably have a far better chance than a restored Mallard as far as re-capturing a record. But the other posters are surely correct: that 3463 thing has about the same chance of beating 126mph as $HEAVYWEIGHT_BOXER has of winning the 100m at the Olympics. (Look at http://www.a1steam.com/ if you don't know what Tornado is. Having been on the platform at Edinbrugh Waverley to see it start with a full rake of coaches, I was left rather deaf and blubbing like a girl.)

Another thing that various other posters are correct about is the efficiency. The thermodynamic efficiency of steam locomotives is pants. You can do MUCH better in a power station because you have the space to condense the steam rather than blasting it up the funnel. You get the suck as well as the blow. And you only lose a small fraction of your gains in transmitting the power to an electric loco and converting it into mechanical energy when it gets there.

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Greedy LOHAN draining away mankind's vital fluid ... allegedly

Hugh Pumphrey
FAIL

Re: But....

Natural gas is mostly methane. Methane (molecular mass 16 units) is considerably lighter than air (about 29 units).

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Vulture 2 trigger triggers serious head-scratching

Hugh Pumphrey
Boffin

Pressure: Nae Proablem.

I don't think that using a pressure sensor represents the problem that some people have made out. The standard sensor used on radiosondes (http://www.eol.ucar.edu/instrumentation/sounding/gaus/eldora-specifications ) goes down to 3 hPa (0.3 kPa) with a sensitivity of 0.1 hPa (0.01kPa). An entire radiosonde is only a couple of hundred quid and most of that isn't the pressure sensor. Sondes have temperature sensors as well, but I would avoid that as an idea because of the necessity of working out whether you are above or below the tropopause.

(I note that a quick trawl of the web suggests that there are various suppliers of industrial pressure sensors for vacuum equipment but goodness knows what those cost.)

Actually, modern radiosondes have a GPS unit in as well as the meteorological sensors. So that tells you that GPS will definitely work at radiosonde altitudes and speeds. And ordinary, un-assisted GPS is entirely adequate: it has an accuracy of about 20m in the vertical. I would avoid all of the various Heath-Robinson suggestions and concentrate on which out of a pressure sensor or a GPS unit can be obtained for the least money and at the smallest mass.

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New satellite will blow your socks off - and spot them from spaaaace

Hugh Pumphrey
FAIL

Re: ...anywhere within 24 hrs

Fail yourself. Near IR is not much better at seeing through clouds than VIS. Even thermal IR (not on this satellite) isn't much better. Seeing through clouds, guv? You need Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) for that.

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Publisher hails CS Lewis 'space trilogy' e-book debut

Hugh Pumphrey
Headmaster

It's a long time ...

... since I read these. I recall finding the books absorbing but I also recall being annoyed by the way he bangs on against contraception and against sex as a thing to be enjoyed except at the moment when you are actually procreating.

To correct an earlier post, the university which features in the stories is neither Oxford nor Cambridge, but an invented one called "Edgecombe" (supposedly older and much smaller than its better-known rivals).

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LOHAN's fantastical flying truss menaces kiddies

Hugh Pumphrey
Headmaster

Re: Quit launching balloons?

"I have a feeling what the payloads of weather balloons weigh a lot more than LOHAN"

A modern radiosonde such as the Vaisala RS92D weighs between 150g and 280g, depending on which battery you order. It is about the size of three fag packets.

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NASA snaps show Arctic melt

Hugh Pumphrey
Headmaster

Nice article but ...

... slight remote sensing fail. The data certainly didn't all come from Nimbus 7 because it was launched in 1978 and switched off in 1994 (and the SMMR instrument may well have failed before that date). As with any 32-year satellite dataset, this one would have been made by merging data from several missions which overlap in time.

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Conclusive PROOF of human activity causing glacier to VANISH

Hugh Pumphrey
Joke

No, he was descended from ....

... Juan de Fuca. But never mind these rude-named Hispanics. Where did they get a Bernardo O'Higgins to name their national park after?

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BOFH: Licence to grill ... stupid users

Hugh Pumphrey
Headmaster

Rehash ...

"...rehash of last weeks episode?" I think that is the meta-humour-style point, is it not?

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Ballmer disses Android as cheap and complex

Hugh Pumphrey
Holmes

Captain Obvious rides again

Ballmer describes Android as second rate. In other news:

(*) Pope states that Church of Scotland is watered-down Christianity

(*) Tony Benn describes Ed Milliband as "not very socialst"

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Bog builder pushes out poo-powered motorbike

Hugh Pumphrey
WTF?

NTNN Prior prior art

Viz prior art? Almost the same design featured in a fake advert in (IIRC) the Not the Nine O'Clock News book in about 1982 (and possibly in the TV series, which I missed because my parents were luddites and refused to have a telly). In a poke at the decline of British manufacturing industry, the "advert" stated that the frame and engine were made in Japan. But the porcelain components were British. (Vis's simian-fueled moped didn't appear until 1993.)

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Oracle in stiff competition with SF smut merchants

Hugh Pumphrey
WTF?

"Obligatory rental vehicle" --- WTF? For a meeting in central SF it would be entirely a liability as parking is impossible. The BART whisks you to central SF from the airport cheaply and rapidly, the buses and subway/tram lines are plentiful and there are always the lovely cable cars to play on as well. Get the whole-week MUNI travel pass for about $20 for the best value --- 4 single rides on the cable cars costs that.

Oh, and going back to the original story, when I go to SF for the American Geophysical Union meeting, no-one gives us free passes to, uh, "gentlemans' clubs" either.

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New NASA site offers solar system and time travel

Hugh Pumphrey

No "probably" about it

The mission I work on (mls.jpl.nasa.gov) has four big beowulf clusters to number-crunch the raw data.

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Hugh Pumphrey
Linux

Fail.

"This application requires the Unity 3D plug-in.

Unfortunately, the Unity 3D plug-in is only supported on Windows 2000/XP/Vista/7 and Mac OS X 10.4 or newer."

Linux may be OS to the Gods, but not to NASA's PR wonks.

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Argentina: home of Bavarian lager

Hugh Pumphrey
WTF?

1421 was the year ...

... but although the book is an entertaining read it is regarded by most serious historians as a load of nonsense.

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New Yorkers battle giant blindness-causing plants

Hugh Pumphrey
Alert

Turn and run ...

In addition to hearing the song, younger readers should check out this concert footage:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SDwyBWjfFaM ... and observe that LadyGaga did not invent the "bat poo insane" style of popular music performance.

The awful warning did little good, mind you, the plant is everywhere, including the patch of unused land next to my garden.

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Dixons reports huge losses of £224m

Hugh Pumphrey

This tallies ...

... with my own experience. None of these "boxed electr[on]ic gear" shops are wonderful and all try to sell you crap extended warranties. But Comet staff are slightly less clueless and are also much better at handling returns of faulty goods within the warranty period. I have found Currys in particular to be bad in this respect.

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Bloke pissing in reservoir prompts 8m gallon flush

Hugh Pumphrey

Homeopathic piss: non-fatal

Anyone interested in urine and homeopathy should check out this

http://crispian-jago.blogspot.com/2009/09/if-homeopathy-works-ill-drink-my-own.html

... and indeed some of the other excellent posts on crispian-jago.blogspot.com

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Massive online database of bird calls unveiled

Hugh Pumphrey
Boffin

They are exactly where you would expect

Type "Parus" in the search box: Parus ater and Parus atricapillus pop right up on the first of at least six pages. Dunno about Parus caeruleus though or the reg readers' favourite: Parus major. The later pages are not loading as the entire site seems to have become cheepdotted.

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PARIS looking 50/50 for Saturday launch

Hugh Pumphrey
Joke

This pilot ...

He wouldn't be a tiny paper copy of tiny Tom Cruse, would he?

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iPhone users get more sex than Android fans

Hugh Pumphrey
Paris Hilton

Logical inconsistency

More partners != more sex. Maybe all those iPhone users get through so many partners because those partners quickly get fed up with their iPhones users playing with their iPhones when they coould have been having sex.

Paris, because ... well, surely I don't have to spell it out.

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QinetiQ lends PARIS a helping hand

Hugh Pumphrey
Go

BOFH tool par excellence

You might want to ensure that the Reg team does not contain a combination of the BOFH and any of his usual targets.

"If you'll just step this way, sir, I'm sure that you'l agree ..."

>SLAM<

>Sssssssllllllllluuuuuuurrrrrrkkkkkkkkk<

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Open source R in commercial Revolution

Hugh Pumphrey
Thumb Up

Avast, me hearties. MatLubbers on the starRRRboard bow

I taught R to M.Sc students for a few years and was always ridiculously pleased when a class happened to fall on "talk like a pirate" day. I think it is excellent: it replaces expensive proprietory MATLAB/IDL for many purposes, being better than either for a good fraction of those purposes. If this new firm wants to get the academic world on-side they will have to make the full product at least as cheap as MATLAB for students because the sellers of MATLAB provide it almost-free for teaching purposes to get students hooked on it. (The drug dealer business model, essentially.)

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BOFH: The PFY Chronicles

Hugh Pumphrey
WTF?

But ...

But ... but .... but .... You can't ... he can't be ....

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Agincourt actually an even scrap, historians claim

Hugh Pumphrey
Troll

Get out your plastic longbowmen

"where they got bogged down and slaughtered by the longbowmen (all 11 of them, against 430,000 knights, according to new El Reg research)"

Massive-scale widescreen playmobil reconstruction, or it didn't happen.

Hugh

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Facebook eliminates parts of Wales

Hugh Pumphrey

Dunbar still in England

Dunbar is currently listed as "Dunbar, England." The SNP will go ballistic if they spot this --- I am looking forward to seeing Alex Salmond turning purple.

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Homer Simpson 'nuclear waste spill' panic at nuke sub base!

Hugh Pumphrey
Coat

Mocking lefties: how to do it proper

Re the AC who said "Quick, call the fucking Guradian!":

I think you will find that the approved mis-spelling when poking fun at said paper is "Grauniad"

Mine's the one with "Pedant" chalked on the back by the class bully

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Profs: Human race must become Hobbits to save planet

Hugh Pumphrey

As predicted in 1972 ....

"This is an announcement from genetic control:

It is my sad duty to inform you of a four foot restriction on

Humanoid height. .... "

Time to dig out Foxtrot or "Genesis Live" and crank it up to 11

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