* Posts by Nigel 11

3165 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

This whopping 16-bit computer processor is being built by hand, transistor by transistor

Nigel 11
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If you really want to go off-piste ...

A technology that existed in Babbage's time, but of which Babbage was unaware, is hydraulic logic. It's possible to create a bistable out of fluid (air) being pumped through an appropriately shaped cavity, and to switch it between its two stable states using pipework connected to the output of others. Logic gates are also feasible.

Anyone fancy building the world's first (?) hydraulic programmable computer?

Or even a simulation thereof, just to hear what it might sound like while it is computing.

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Nigel 11
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Re: Beat the clock

Those wires act as huge capacitors which need to charge and discharge on each cycle to allow the signal to stabilise.

Not huge.

The general rule for a signal to settle on a plain old wire is something like six times longer than the speed of light along the wire. (Or two to-and-fro bounces at 0.7c)

I've often wondered what is the optimum design for a discrete-transistor computer. Minimise the transistor count, build as small as possible, and clock as fast as possible, or go for wider buses and more transistors clocking more slowly? (Of course in the early days they went for small component counts, because transistors - germanium alloy junction ones - were significantly expensive, and suffered thermal runaway at fairly low temperatures so cooling really mattered. )

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It's OK – this was an entirely NEW type of cockup, says RBS

Nigel 11
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Re: Oh yes it is

The city-buster meteorite now has your name on it.

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Raspberry Pi guys want you to go topless in the heat

Nigel 11
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Re: Zeitgeist failure

3D printing costs more and yields results less polished than the hype suggests. For one-off prototyping it's great, and it may have a good future for rarely-needed replacement parts. For mass production of anything except very small components, injection moulding wins hands-down.

(Very small: well under a centimeter cubed, which a 3D printer can print in fairly large multiples per job)

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Nigel 11
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Built in SATA and space for at least one hard disk. A second SATA and space for an optical drive would be nice.

Room for a couple of expansion cards

And yes, I'd be prepared to pay thirty or forty quid for it. Frankly, I'd settle for an easily available board to make it ITX compatible.

You don't get SATA and PCI interfaces from a case! You're describing a different platform.

Are you aware that you can get an ITX format fanless Intel-x86 PC board with all you ask for, plus probably rather more CPU grunt, expandable RAM, etc. for £50ish? Gigabyte GA-J1800N-D2H. Built my home PC around this - a 100% solid-state PC, completely noiseless. Although to be fair this is around £200 by the time it's built into a full-blown PC, or around £100 for a bootable bare board.

More Pi-like, there's the CubieBoard series with SATA and more RAM than a Pi. I've not used one. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cubieboard

Cheapest linux system-in-a-box is a broadband router running OpenWRT or similar. I have a £17 Trendnet router (check the OpenWRT hardware compatibility list). Inside is a five-port fully VLAN-capable switch and double the RAM that most of them boast. Slightly dearer ones also have USB ports. Others cost under £10 for CPU, Lan and Wireless. Main drawback with routers is (usually) very small RAM capacity.

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'Snowden risked lives' fearfest story prompts sceptical sneers

Nigel 11
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Re: Too late was the cry

Dum-dum rounds have banned for military use since ~1900...

though probably only because all the world's militaries could work out that this both looked good and was how they'd act anyway.

Because you'd rather that your bullets seriously injured enemy troops than killed them. An injured soldier consumes far more resources on and off the battlefield than a dead one.

Isn't war horrible.

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Cinnamon 2.6 – a Linux desktop for Windows XP refugees

Nigel 11
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Re: Is there a Raspberry Pi (2) version?

I imagine it could run on a Pi. Might be a bit sluggish but hard to beat the price. For a faster desktop system, you can choose between an old PC that Windows won't run in (probably scroungeable for free, but will eat £30 of electricity quite soon if you leave it powered up) or a fully solid-state system based on a fanless mini-ITX board and case such as Gigabyte J1800N-D2H or its quad-core J1900 variant.

Anyway, whatever you run it on: Cinnamon - completely recommended.

In passing Cinnamon works (yum install) on Fedora 20, maybe older Fedora. And from memory, on Centos 7.

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If I get hit by a bus, Linux will go on just fine says Linus Torvalds

Nigel 11
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Re: Shut up and fix the video driver mess

Intel?

My experience is that Intel graphics hardware works well with Linux, and that's because Intel have been very supportive of Linux for quite a few years. Of course, Intel graphics hardware isn't the fastest, should you actually need high performance by today's definitions thereof.

NVidia are still sticking to their closed-source binary blob. When it works it works well, but when it doesn't work with your current kernel / distro / whatever, you are stuffed. Good route to upgrade hell as well. I buy these only if there's a good reason to (most often, a package demanding a CUDA-capable GPGPU to run at all or to run much faster). I sometimes wonder if they won't go open-source because when the card isn't doing your graphics, it's pillaging the internals of your PC on behalf of some three-letter agency! (yes I know ... more prosaically, they don't want to tip off whoever owns the IP that their hardware is arguably infringing).

ATI were late to the open-source party. Don't know how they are getting on, nothing I look after uses ATI.

Quite often, what's described as graphics driver problems is actually problems in Gnome / KDE / whatever (user mode code). Nothing to do with the Linux kernel or driver, but rather with the desktop project or your distro's packaging thereof.

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HGST shimmy shimmy shingles its way to a 10TB spinning rust drive

Nigel 11
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Re: A taller enclosure?

Actually I'm fairly certain that if they could get 20x capacity by stacking a dozen or more platters, each with twice the area, in a 5.25 inch full height container, then they would. But there are good physics reasons why they can't. Such large stacks will have all sorts of extra vibration modes, and failure to tame any of these would make the whole project non-viable. There's also the extra inertia of a bigger stack of heads, increasing problems with inter-drive vibrational coupling for those who design whole storage arrays. And of course, multiplying the number of heads and platters will considerably reduce the MTBF of the assembly, to the extent that it is heads and head/platter contact issues that dominate HD failures. I'm not certain as to this being the case, but in my experience over half of disks fail "soft" with deteriorating SMART metrics and increasing bad block counts. "Instant Brick" is relatively less common, especially once drives have survived in service for a month or so.

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Nigel 11
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Re: Cannot imagine wanting under any circumstances

Spinning rust as a storage medium has pretty much reached it's limits. I'm going to go out on a limb and predict that we never see a harddrive bigger than 20Tb in a 3.5" package.

Assuming you mean a drive containing a conventional hard disk purely electromagnetic write head, you are probably right. The physics limits for that have been reached. Magnetic domains can't be pushed closer together along the tracks (they become unstable if made any smaller), and heads cannot be made any narrower (the head would have to fly much closer, and there are power density issues even if that hurdle were overcome). Stacking tens of platters isn't likely to work either (too flexible / vibration coupling issues).

On the other hand, there's HAMR which uses a focussed laser to address a narrow track. It "softens" the magnetic film by heating it, so that a wide magnetic bubble from a conventional head operated at lower write intensity can change magnetisation only of the laser-addressed track and not affect the adjacent already-written ones. I expect that can go to many 10s, maybe 100s, of TB per 3.5 inch disk if it can get out of the lab, and if there is a market for such huge drives.

There's also BPM, about which I know less.

Wait and see. It's still possible that solid-state will obsolete all magnetic disks, but not current Flash which is also close to its physics limits. 3D flash may reach an affordable TB scale. Memristor tech has the potential to surpass that. It's rather further away than HAMR.

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Nigel 11
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Re: Cannot imagine wanting under any circumstances

I can think of plenty of applications where it's useful.

To start with, anything read-mostly. Fill the disk then hardly ever change anything on it. Wonder how many YouTube / Google will be buying?

Then databases, accessing the disk directly. Storage of large objects, or aggregates of small ones that get read, updates and rewritten as a block.

Anything, once a filesystem understands the underlying technology and can aggregate writing of small objects. It's a very good match to "everything is journalled" filesystems where nothing is updated in-place. Probably still best used for filesystems that get read more than written. Archival springs to mind. So do several of the computational physics modelling projects I used to be involved with. Those folks could never get enough storage to keep a fraction of the old results that they wanted to keep.

Interesting lack of mention of anything Microsoft or Windows in that diagram!

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Soon your car won't let you drink. But it won't care if you're on the phone

Nigel 11
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Re: Slippery Slope Indeed....

you don't have to be driving, just sitting in the driver's seat can do.

Yes, one of many moronic laws that gets coupled with Jobsworthy cops and rule-following unthinking prosecutors. Someone actually did get banned from driving for being asleep in his car in the pub car park after realizing that he was far too intoxicated to actually drive the thing.

The law on using mobile phones is similar. I completely support throwing the book at anyone who uses their hand-held mobile while trying to control a car that's moving at significant velocity. But they've made it illegal to use your mobile to let people know why you'll be late, when you are stuck in stationary traffic on a motorway that hasn't been moving for minutes. This, even if you have turned your engine off to save fuel.

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Nigel 11
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Reliable?

I can't believe it'll ever work reliably.

I'm thinking, for example, of bar staff and brewery workers, who may be trying to drive home in clothing soaked to some degree with alcoholic beverage.

Or of someone sober trying to provide a taxi service to three or four well-pickled passengers who quite responsibly *aren't* driving.

Or what happens when an entire bottle of spirits gets accidentally soaked into a car's upholstery. Or some other organic chemical, which may turn out to register much more strongly on the detectors than Ethyl Alcohol.

As for circumvention: as soon as it becomes known where are the sensors, the wilful drink-drivers will cover them with a suitable membrane (rubber glove or finger thereof, clingfilm, ...).

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The watts in a box that kept West London's lights on

Nigel 11
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Re: Nowhere else in the UK would this happen

I think what the uninformed are talking about, is what happens when the weather "nukes" the infrastructure across a wide area, and there aren't sufficient generators and human resources to fix it all within hours. So there's triage. The most economically important bits get fixed first. Which does mean that London will be prioritized over (say) Swindon, which in turn will be prioritised over Lower Cheeseworth (I made that one up).

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Au-mazing! Cornwall sold GOLD to Ireland back in the Bronze Age

Nigel 11
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Talk about beeding obvious

The value and significance placed on gold may have varied from region to region

And it still does. They're confusing price with value. Today, Gold is globally traded, so its monetary cost is much the same everywhere. But its cultural significance in, say, India, is vastly greater than its present-day significance to white anglos. Which supports its price in currency, globally.

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Did you almost prang a 737 jet with a drone over Dallas? The FAA would like a word

Nigel 11
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Re: Don't bother investigating

I don't think jet engines are going to digest these toys very well without some serious consequences.

They have to be able to digest a goose without serious consequences (although two simultaneous geese requires a miracle to survive)

They also have to be able to digest a stone during takeoff (that might be kicked up by the nosewheel). Not sure what size of stone is tested.

In short, aero engines are pretty tough and well-tested (including confined destruction).

Which isn't to detract from the message that putting a drone in the air where an airliner might collide with it is criminally stupid and thoughtless.

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Remake, remodel: Toshiba Chromebook 2

Nigel 11
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Re: If...

First thing I did was Google "Linux Toshiba Chromebook 2" and found

https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Toshiba_Chromebook_2

which says it won't work yet, because the boot device is UHCI not SATA. Anyone know more? I'd have liked a cheap full HD Linux laptop (I am one of those alleged nobodys who use Linux as their desktop of choice).

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Windows 10 upgrade ADWARE forces its way on to Windows 7 and 8.1

Nigel 11
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Re: @Charles 9 - Why are Microsoft giving this away?

"Free" has at least two meanings. One is zero cost. The other translates into French as "libre" and means "at liberty" or "not confined" or "not restricted".

Free software should be understood to refer to the second, not the first meaning.

Also, "cost" does not exclusively refer to money. If I let the air out of your tyres and lend you a pump, that unfriendly act has not cost you nothing, although air is free.

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Nigel 11
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Re: RE: `new features for desktop users` : Really!!!!

People don`t use Desktop Linux. It is irrelevant

Says who? With what definition of "people"?

You can argue about the size of the minority that do use Linux desktop. Maybe (and I agree, maybe not) there will come a day when the size of that minority starts growing exponentially until it is a majority. For something that has zero replication cost (ie free software) such exponential growth could come "out of nowhere" and be very fast. The past is not a useful guide to the future in software.

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Nigel 11
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Re: Thanks for spamming me Microsoft

Don't have your computer AUTO-INSTALL updates! I wait a week or so later, for those time when crap like this happens or a bugger patch is released, then pulled.

Unfortunately, if the update is for a vulnerability that is being exploited by bad guys out there, you are giving them an extra week to target your system. Also unfortunately, there may be circumstances when it is inadvisable for the vendor to tell the world precisely how important it is to install a patch (and more especially, *why*). Because if it is not already known to the bad guys, you don't want to give them any more of a heads-up than they'll get from the patch itself.

A responsible vendor should never confuse security (-critical, -sensitive, -remote-exploitable, local-expoloitable, whatever) patches/fixes with adware, or even with new genuinely useful features that not everyone will want to install (on security grounds), let alone auto-install.

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Nigel 11
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Why would you have to blow your win7 install. You can image your win7 install, try win10, and, if you don't like it, restore your win7 image

Always assuming that Windows 10 doesn't do anything irreversible to anything of yours that it may encounter out there on some network or cloud that you connect to. Just saying ....

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Nigel 11
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Re: I'm confused

was that 'Bok' short for Borked or Broke/Broken?

Or somebody's (nick)name?

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Chlorine gas horror leak at Apple data center puts five in hospital

Nigel 11
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Re: Quart in a pint pot

Is it because of the tilt of the panels?

Depends on whether "area" includes inactive area, i.e panel edges, support frames. If it does, then an inclination angle of arccos( 183/200) or greater would make sense of this. That's about 25 degrees.

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Home routers co-opted into self-sustaining DDoS botnet

Nigel 11
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Countermeasures

Routers etc. should have an effective "revert to factory" mechanism. At a minimum, this requires a switch that will boot (from uncompromisable ROM) a program that will rewrite the device's flash. Two options. One, to a ROM copy of the firmware with which the device was originally shipped. The other, to download updated and securely signed firmware from the manufacturer's site.

Then when an issue like this arises, tell home users to reload their firmware by using a physical button on the box.

Note, "reset to factory" as usually implemented is the exact opposite of what I'm suggesting. It normally resets the configuration data to factory, while leaving the code unchanged. One should be able to reset the code, while leaving the configuration data alone.

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Mozilla flings teddy out of pram over France's 'Patriot Act'

Nigel 11
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Laws and the public good

A broad comment.

There seems to be an unhealthy trend to legalize things that intelligence services want to do, and to hope or assume that such legalization won't then be used in a malign way by future governments.

Surely it's far better to turn a selectively blind eye to intelligence agencies breaking a the law, provided they are still operating in the nation's interest and not using illegally obtained intelligence in any way that's outside their remit. Then should they step out of the dark grey zone in which they are supposed to operate, it's far easier for the courts to do something about it.

If I'm unclear ... for you or I to break some speed limits is justified if we are getting a seriously ill person to hospital as fast as reasonably possible. The crown prosecution service would hopefully decide that to prosecute was not in the public interest. It's not written into the law which circumstances permit what degree of aggressive driving. How could it be? You have to claim that what you were doing was illegal but to the greater public good, and if necessary let a court decide.

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Self-STOPPING cars are A Good Thing, say motor safety bods

Nigel 11
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I hope this is programmed right ...

I hope that the car is programmed to slacken off the emergency braking when that's appropriate and to come to a halt no more than a few feet behind the obstruction. Otherwise I forsee some massive (albeit low-speed) pile-ups on our Motorways, when one of those density waves in busy traffic triggers some vehicle's autonomous emergency braking.

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Amazon, eBay and Oracle in dirty power SHAME

Nigel 11
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Re: More important things

they don't usually have solar panels or turbines on the roof

Well, they ought to. There are companies that will rent roof space and install the solar panels, should the server farm operators not wish to make the investment themselves. Heck, building codes ought to outlaw large areas of roof with high insolation that aren't equipped with solar panels!

(As for the cost - how about scrapping a few regulations that marginally increase a building's fire safety at considerable added construction cost? Unnecessarily pumping more CO2 into the atmosphere is a far greater hazard!)

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Nigel 11
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"AWS's continued lack of transparency is a problem that will likely become a bigger concern to its customers. AWS has recently stated that it is currently 25 per cent renewably powered, but with no additional detail provided,"

Which could mean "we get out power from the national grid in the country where our datacentre is located, and the statistics provided by our power suppliers suggest that 25% of the power that they supply to us comes from renewable sources".

Electricity can't be stored to any grid-scale meaningful extent, and it can't be labelled or assayed. For any company foolishly paying a premium for renewably sourced electricity, there's another one being subsidized to take the electricity generated by dirty power stations at a (slightly) lower price! Any claim for a grid-connected facility that it's "100% renewably powered" is greenwash, pure and simple.

Which isn't to say that renewable generation is pointless, but that targeting particular consumers is pointless (except if they have a facility that might be running with solar power off its roof, or might be using its "waste" heat constructively, and aren't.)

The greenest thing that server farm operators could do is to invest in cooling systems that dump "waste" heat into water, that could then be sold to surrounding communities for indoor heating during eight or more months of the year. Sadly, there seem to be no economic incentives being provided to encourage the recycling of "waste" heat so it ceases to be wasted. Solar or wind generation, yes. Running indoor heating with energy that's already been used once, no.

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Samsung offers $90,000 if you can fix California's epic drought with tech

Nigel 11
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Lawnkiller drone?

Equip a fleet of small drones with image processing kit that can detect bright green grass immediately adjacent to houses in the middle of a California summer. Deploy glyphosate spray. Once it is established that the choice is between a temporarily brown lawn or a permanently brown lawn, water consumption will drop dramatically.

There, solved.

By the way, why can't Almonds be grown somewhere with higher natural rainfall?

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EC probe into murky cross border e-commerce kicks off

Nigel 11
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FedEx still refused to enter into any discussion about it and started threatening me when I didn't pay the invoice. As it was only about twenty pounds, I paid it, but I feel that the money was effectively extorted out of me, and I have resented FedEx for their disgusting behavior ever since.

I'd have told them to sue me and be laughed at by the judge. In fact, I might well have counter-sued, alleging barratry on their part (which sadly hasn't been a criminal offense for quite a few years). £20 is small-claims court fodder, no need for a lawyer. But they're also liable for the court fee, and for your damages (such as having to buy another copy of the book because they won't hand over the one you purchased, also the cost of the time they force you to waste).

In practice a recorded delivery letter threatening legal action if a matter is not resolved in fourteen days is usually sufficient to cause whatever "little Hitler" you are dealing with to hand the matter over to someone slightly more competent and a lot more flexible.

Anyway, reading this has probably cost them more in profits than the £20 they extorted from you.

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High school students' record-setting pulsar STUMPS BOFFINS

Nigel 11
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Re: How to tell?

How unlikely is unlikely?

It must be *possible* for a star to go supernova in a very symmetric implosion that doesn't break its gravitational binding to a near neighbour.

There's a similar explanation of the Fermi paradox. Somebody had to be the first intelligent life in the galaxy, and the (very limited) evidence so far supports the hypothesis that it's us.

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Plod wants your PC? Brick it with a USB stick BEFORE they probe it

Nigel 11
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Re: Thermite

... only way to be sure?

I deduce you've never seen electronics that's been the victim of a lightning strike. High voltage and current is faster and more effective than any sensible amount of thermite. It gets at the electronics from the *inside*.

A large HV capacitor deliberately connected to the LVDC would probably be an adequate substitute for lightning,

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Nigel 11
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Re: Wonder if there would be a market for

There's not only a market, there's a company that is actually manufacturing storage devices with built-in hardware self-destruct. It was reported here in the Register some months back. Sorry, can't remember the details. ISTR they were rather picky about who they'd sell to, and the prices were eye-watering.

Suspect I could do much the same with an SSD, a large capacitor charged to 240V, and some homebrew electronics, if I had any reason to want to do so.

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Ad-blocking is LEGAL: German court says Ja to browser filters

Nigel 11
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What they *could* do ...

A company could become its own ad server, and use something such as server-side inclusion to make the adverts pretty much indistinguishable and inseparable from its own content. So why don't they do this? Well, some of their customers might take umbrage and depart forever. But the real reason is surely that they would then have to accept full legal responsibility for the advertisements they served. They'd no longer be able to claim that the advert came from some other server run by some other company, and that any malware served was therefore not their problem.

So we get to block ads (and one channel for malware delivery and snooping). They want to have their cake and eat it, and the court has very sensibly said that they can't.

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Huawei P8: Chinese mobes have arrived and the West should tremble

Nigel 11
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Re: It had to happen

... slowly become service based -> (not sure what's next, but I hope I don't live to see it) -> copy cheaply. -> ..

What comes next is to go down the Tesco, Ryanair or Microsoft route (or Digital, for those over 55 that remember). Get fat and lazy. Start ignoring your customers, treat them as sheep to be fleeced and led to (financial) slaughter. Until one day, there aren't enough suckers left and huge profit turns to loss.

At that point the company is headed for extinction, unless it remains able to remodel itself. (Ryanair seems to have managed that trick. Tesco and Microsoft, the jury's still out. Digital dismembered itself and died horribly.)

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Nigel 11
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Re: 2680mAh battery

Oh yuk. I was going to ask if it came with stock Android, or with loads on non-removeable apps like Samsungs. But if you can't replace the battery, I'll stick with my Samsung anyway.

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Flash dead end is deferred by TLC and 3D

Nigel 11
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Re: Is size everything?

Cost.

If they could be churned out really cheaply at some lower density, then they could be spread out over a larger form factor (such as the 5.25inch drive size) and stacked vertically as lots of circuit boards.

(Which is what happened in the early days of RAM, and going back further, ferrite core memory).

I wonder who really needs hundreds of terabytes of flash? Won't most folks be happy when a good flash cache solution is available as a front-end to lots and lots of good old spinning rust?

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Nuclear waste spill: How a pro-organic push sparked $240m blunder

Nigel 11
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Ammonium Nitrate _is_ fertiliser. You make a better bomb if you add some kerosene. At least, so I've heard. ANFO.

AFAIK this is the only time a terrorist organisation (anyone know which one? ) contributed something useful to the body of knowledge used by civilisation.

Mining used to employ high explosive (Dynamite, TNT, etc.) which is expensive and non-trivial to store and in some cases toxic to handle. Open-cast mining has now adopted ANFO - cheaper, non-toxic, and manufactured down the hole where you want the explosion. Nitrate fertilizer first, then add fuel oil, then top with a detonator.

BTW Ammonium Nitrate is also an explosive on its own. You do have to hit it very hard before it goes bang, but if you manage to do so, watch out. One of the largest non-nuclear explosions ever was in the Netherlands when the roof of a warehouse full of Ammonium Nitrate leaked, and the entire contents set solid. Someone had the bad idea of loosening it up with a few sticks of dynamite. He did not survive the several-kiloton non-nuclear explosion which resulted.

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Don't listen to me, I don't know what I'm talking about – a pundit speaks

Nigel 11
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But the floppy disk is quite definitely on its last legs.

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Snakes on a backplane: Server-room cabling horrors

Nigel 11
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It's not just datacomms ...

There's a long series of "crazy cabling" pictures over at DarkRoasted Blend

http://www.darkroastedblend.com/2008/03/disturbing-wiring-part-3.html

(parts 1-2 and 4-7 equally worth a look, all linked).

Datacomms, POTS, mains wiring, plumbing. chemicals plants ... entropy wins every time.

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The coming of DAB+: Stereo eluded the radio star

Nigel 11
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Music?

I have yet to experience DAB+ so I don't know whether it will provide an incentive for me to buy a new radio or not. The one I have is always set to FM, except when I use DAB to get BBC World Service. My current plan is that if they ever phase out FM I'll completely abandon listening to music on radio.

Why? Music (classical / acoustic music) on DAB is transformed into ghastly noise, even on a low-fi portable "transistor" radio in a bathroom. It astounds me that so many people cannot hear the difference. Yes, I get occasional interference on analog, but it's transient.

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This one weird trick deletes any YouTube flick in just a few clicks

Nigel 11
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F*king cat videos

But seriously, what else would a techie use to test that he's got the video and audio drivers right on a new install of someone else's device? AFAIK kittens are a safe choice.

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Building a better society from the Czechs' version of Meccano

Nigel 11
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Re: Plus.

Mine's the one with some 'Bayko' building blocks in the pocket.

Yes, I remember Bayko. A product that had the reverse influence on young architects, to that of Meccano on young engineers. They grew up, and started building with factory-manufactured brick- and tile-patterned panels, held together with steel bars, instead of real bricks and tiles. And within a few decades we are tearing down these horrid mouldering and disintegrating constructions, built of materials with no track record and as we now know, no staying power.

Please, somebody tell me that the Commies invented Bayko, in a half-successful attempt to cause the home of capitalism to sabotage its own future. I suspect it was an own goal, though.

PS anyone remember Architex? Same comments apply, with respect to system-built tower blocks.

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Why Feed.Me.Pizza will never exist: Inside the world of government vetoes and the internet

Nigel 11
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Yawn

Are there really people out there who remember and laboriously type in domain names? If it's not in my browser history I use Google - it understands my spelling mistakes e.g. Jonlewis, as well as knowing whether it's .com or .co.uk or anything else.

I guess there are browsers out there that don't have a Google box or which default to some inferior search engine in the one and only URL box ... a good reason to download Firefox if you have one of those!

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Helium-filled drive tech floats to top of HGST heap

Nigel 11
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Re: Yeah helium, great

So maybe a few hundred drives' worth per wedding rather than a few thousand. Same point.

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HUGE Aussie asteroid impact sent TREMORS towards the EARTH'S CORE

Nigel 11
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Re: Devonian?

The Chicxulub impactor was particularly devastating because of where it struck, on thick strata of both carbonate rocks and gypsum (calcium sulphate). Vaporised, these injected vast amounts of sulphur dioxide and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The sulphur dioxide would have formed sulphuric acid clouds that would have reflected much sunlight, causing far worse global cooling than mere dust from silicate rocks. Over the next decade it came back down as acid rain. And then after a brief spike of global cooling, the sulphur was gone leaving the carbon dioxide to caues global warming. This massive two-way fluctuation was probably the last straw for lumbering great dinosaurs. (The small flying ones did survive - we now call them birds).

This on top of a global environment already seriously degraded by the Deccan Traps erruptions.

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Nigel 11
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Re: Devonian? @ ~Spartacus

Fossil remains of civilisation: the ones that you will find intact in vast quantities after tens of millions of years are fired clay artefacts. House-bricks and pottery, complete with maker's marks and glazed decorations.

Many other things will fossilize like shells: the original will disappear but the hole in the rock will fill with some other mineral (often quartz, calcite or iron pyrites). This will include some truly vast fossils: sewage pipes and railway tunnels!

Gold and silver jewellery will survive but whethre any will be found is quite anothr matter. There's not enough of it.

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Blighty's 12-sided quid to feature schoolboy's posterior

Nigel 11
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Re: This is a lovely story

Overdue, I see so many hooky £1 coins and just pass 'em along as people losing faith in the currency is a bigger problem ...

I suspect that even if every single £1 coin was a fake, the damage would be negligible compared to HMG's efforts, generally referred to as "QE". And yet, faith is not being destroyed!

(Total value of coin in circulation in the UK: a mere 4 billion quid or thereabouts. Excluding the fakes, of course. )

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Nigel 11
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It would be a lot easier to create the fake ones if they didn't keep changing the design. I expect this new design is a lot more difficult to counterfeit.

Yes. You need much more specialized equipment to produce bimetallic coins that stay in one piece (even the royal mint had trouble with early production £2 coins). 12-sided is also harder than round. Also assuming the density of the inside and outside metals are different, then it'll be very easy for coin-accepting machines to reject fakes made of any single metal.

OT, but you never see many £2 coins these days.

I suspect people tend to hang on to them, because they are rather pretty and there's a new design out almost every year. I recently got a bunch of brand new ones out of a Sainsbury self-service till when I gave it a £20 note as payment.

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Nigel 11
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Re: Homage to the old 'Thrupenny Bit'...

Not sure of the rhyming slang for the new coin. . .

Not rhyming, but it'll remain a "Thatcher" to me. (Thick, Brassy, Rough round the edges, and trying to be a Sovereign ...)

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