1997 posts • joined Wednesday 10th June 2009 11:28 GMT
Should be plaintiff pays all bills until he wins.
Short of scrapping patents or drastically modifying what is patentable, how about this?
The plaintiff should be obliged to pay for the defense as well, on a dollar-for-dollar basis. If he won, he would be awarded costs that cover all the money he paid for the defense as well.
This would mean that small companies would no longer fear being sued by a bigger outfit with deep pockets. They could never be forced to concede, because the cost of defending their patent would be even greater than the cost of paying for a license from a troll.
I've found myself wondering about submillimeter (Terahertz) directional antennas, and moth antennae. Do moths get completely confused by artificial lights not because they emit light, but because they're a strong source of THz emission? Just a thought. Has anyone tested moths' response to a completely cold light source (ie one that's not also strongly emitting at THz? )
Combustion of a "body" has been demonstrated, using a pig carcass dressed in clothes in place of a human body. No mystery.
Better still to buy some hybrid rechargeable AAs and a charger, so you use the same batteries over and over again. (Hybrid NiMH are the ones that will stay charged for many months - ordinary NiMH go flat in about two).
My DAB radio needs new batteries every week. Progress? I think not , but it does let me listen to BBC World service in my bathroom. Thank heaven for rechargeables. Must be approaching their 200th recharge by now.
I wouldn't even say tricky
Clockwork and dynamos are very old ideas. Putting them together to power a radio shouldn't be patentable. By all means register your design so that others can't copy it exactly. By all means patent any mechanical widget that makes the clockwork dynamo work better than it ever could without that widget - if there is such a widget involved.
But patenting a concept that amounts to connecting a radio to a power source ought to have been thrown out by the patent examiners! Even if there wasn't any prior art for clockwork radios, it STILL shouldn't be possible to patent the concept.
Whatever next - a patent on kiddies' play bricks with rounded corners? Oh, wait a moment ....
Re: Not a meterorite
It's literally boiling the water in the atmosphere as it comes in.
A masterly understatement. It's literally boiling the iron or whatever that it's made of. It's probably going past that, all the way to plasma. Afterwards, the iron, silicon, whatever condenses (as oxide, mostly) and hence the thick trail.
If you watch the car footage you can actually see the trail appearing to burn for a few seconds. I expect that's a Nitrogen - Oxygen fire, or possibly or additionally an Oxygen - Iron fire if the meteor was iron.
One of the worries prior to testing the first nuclear bomb was that it would ignite an (exothermic) Oxygen - Nitrogen combustion, that some thought might propagate to consume the Earth's entire atmosphere and everything living therein. I wonder if someone else pointed out that were that possible, a meteor strike would have done it long ago? Or did they just chance it?
Re: Russians - hard as nails, not fazed at all
My thought too. Are Russians completely unflappable, or is it a language where excitement is conveyed through choice of words rather than tone of voice?
It's even more noticeable in the other video, of people when the shockwave arrives and smashes loads of windows.
Re: Not a meterorite
"Should have been vertical". You must be a troll. No-one can be that thick around here, surely?
Almost horizontal means that its intersect with the Earth just clipped our atmosphere. Dumped most of its energy at a decent altitude. Bloody good thing too. If that had come in much closer to vertical it would have been far more destructive of whatever was underneath.
Re: How 'sensitive'? Not very.
Much better if society can be persuaded to mount an "immune response" BEFORE the next outbreak of ethnic cleansing, rather than after.
A lesson from history. In the late 19th century the unified state of Germany was formed to great public acclaim. Its new citizens queued up to obtain their papers. The form they filled in was quite simple. One of the questions was "Religion" to which many happily replied "Jewish". After all, this new state had for the first time granted them constitutional protection against harassment and discrimination.
Scroll forwards to the late 1930s and their parents' replies stored in dusty filing cabinets doomed not just the parents, but children and grandchildren not even born at the time.
For far too long councils and other quasi-governmental bodies have been recording our racial details for no good reason. What business is it of theirs whether someone applying for planning permission or a parking permit is black, white or green?
Anyway, perhaps now we can request all the data that they hold about us and the reason keeping it, point out that it was obtained coercively and that we do not consent to them storing or processing it.
Personally, I always tick the "Other" box and write "Human". It's only been rejected once.
Re: There's the Kool-aid...
people like me will get sick of trying to retrain them and just go with linux instead.
There's also Linux-lite, aka OpenOffice / LibreOffice running on a Windows PC. It's probably easier to re-train someone off Office 2003 onto OpenOffice, than it is to re-train them onto Office 2007. And the OO folks seem mercifully free of the desire to inflict new interfaces on their users in order to look cool.
And of course the price of OO / LO is very competitive indeed.
I'm surprised that the obvious seems to have been missed. Busses spend a lot of time stopped at predefined locations - bus stops. Put the induction chargers at the stops (only). Give the busses some sort of secure-ID so that the charging turns on only when there's a bus at the stop. Installation cost greatly reduced, freeloader problem greatly recuced. Add yellow lines and discharge monitoring and cameras for further defense against freeloaders.
Ooh err missus
Blow? Hole? Continu??!!!!!!!!
Re: We should be told...
No, the day after they turn it up to full, they should announce that they accidentally destroyed the universe last night, but nobody apart from a few particle physicists actually noticed.
Many scholars have tried and failed to crack Etruscan. There's no Rosetta stone. If this program can crack it, then it's a major advance. If not ....
Have they tested it on Basque, absent any help from a speaker of that language? Again that would be an acid-test. Banque is one of the world's anomalous languages, not related to any other in any known way.
Missing - hybrid drive?
I'd really have liked to see that review also compare a hybrid drive such as Seagate Momentus. Yes, it's a slow sleepy 2.5 inch laptop drive, but how much difference does that built-in flash cache make? And being out past the drive end of the SATA connector, it'll work with Linux or anything else you care to boot.
With Linux it is trivially easy to put the operating system and your own small / heavily accessed files onto a small SSD. One can configure a completely useful Linux system in 30Gb (about 15Gb of system files, 15Gb /home). Unfortunately 30Gb SSDs are slower than 256Gb ones, but they share the same near-zero seek time. Again it would be nice to see that benchmarked.
Re: no disincentive
For some criminals, especially the violent ones, you are right. Some aren't deterred. Their crime doesn't make any economic sense in the first place. But I'm fairly sure that most of those who steal for a living consider their personal risk-reward ratio. Upside: ££££. Downside: self-assessed cost of punishment times chance of being caught. Commit crime if upside > downside. Especially so for those whose crime is planned rather than impulsive.
Crimes against infrastructure cost society a large multiple of the gain to the criminal, and the sentence should therefore be disproportionately heavy. The criminals won't suddenly go straight. But they will go back to the sort of crime where the gain to the criminal approximately equals the loss to the victim or his insurer. In other words they'd stop nicking cable, and go back to nicking cars or breaking into banks, and society at large would be better-off.
Re: I would like
For warrantied quality, buy enterprise-grade drives. They do cost about twice as much as bog-standard desktop ones, though. Personally I'd much prefer two drives mirrored - one made by WD and the other by Seagate, so as to minimize the chance of both coming from the same defective batch. But that's not an option in a laptop.
You must have bought a bad batch. It happens.
Other folks aren't having the same problem. It would be the number one story in the tech press if they were.
Did you buy all your drives in one batch? (Or all the PCs containing the drives in one batch? ) If so, the likely explanation is that all the drives are the same production batch, which contained a defective component. If PCs were cars, there would have been a recall.
Talk hard with the supplier. You need all the non-failed drives in the batch replaced a.s.a.p. and it should not be at your expense. (Although you're probably better biting that bullet anyway, if the drives are out of warranty and the PC vendor has gone out of business).
At my workplace we buy a couple of hundred PCs every year, and the reliability we've seen hasn't changed noticeably over the last five years.
Re: SMR has its uses
Yes, SMR plus a big flash cache managed by the drive firmware sounds very plausible. I can't help observing that Seagate is the company that springs to mind in connection with flash-cache drives.
Also yes, one will need to be very careful that if one is doing server-style things with desktop rather than enterprise drives, one doesn't accidentally buy an SMR drive. (I have visions of someone replacing a 2Tb drive in a RAID-5 array with a newer one that uses SMR. Ooops! ).
Pour encourager les autres
That's more than you'd get for rape or manslaughter.
And arguably it should be. With those crimes there is one victim, seriously affected. With cable theft there are hundreds, thousands, even millions of victims.
At present they are getting away with it. In wartime it would be called "sabotage" and would be seen as a capital crime, punished much the same as treason. An appointment with the hangman would be quite likely.
Personally I'd say work out the economic damage caused by crimes that wilfully damage infrastructures, and sentence them to what they'd get for stealing the same amount of money from a bank's safe. What would yet get for breaking into a safe and emptying it of a million quid? Five to ten years sounds about right.
And the best thing is that with this sort of crime, one heavy sentence would convince just about all criminals to go back to the sort of theft where there is only one victim, where the gain to the criminal is not a tiny fraction of the cost to society.
Suck not blow
Most of the fluff and dust in a PC is doing no harm. The exception is the fluff that gets blown down between the heatsink fins, which makes it run hotter and ultimately throttles its performance.
It got blown in so you have to suck it out. Make sure that you immobilize the fan blade with a finger, otherwise the reverse airstream from the hoover may rev your heatsink fan to destruction.
The usual hoover crevice tool is too large. I use a length of PCV oval electrical duct pushed into the crevice tool, that's narrow enough to get down between the fan blades.
Re: Those aren't that bad
I found a dead mouse once. A mammal. Inside a PC. Poor little beastie had inserted its head between an Opteron's cooling fan and the heatsink. I really hope that this broke the beastie's neck, because otherwise its death was horrible in the extreme.
I then spent ages studying the case trying to convince myself that it had any hole that a mouse could squeeze through. I couldn't. But it must have managed it somehow.
Another time I took the side off a PC and bits of dust started hopping around ... the cat had had a flea problem.
Re: SciFi Toasts BRAIN
I don't know the details of AES etc, but it's a much greater class of problems than just asymmetric crypto-breaking that could in theory be tackled by a quantum computer.
Basically, N qubits can represent all numbers from 0 to 2^N-1 at once!. You then perform a series of operations on those qubits that if performed on a single number, would tell you (yes or no) that it was a member of the set of solutions smaller than 2^N-1 of your problem. For asymmetric cryptography, that search is for one of two large prime factors. You then observe your system in the quantum sense. It must collapse into one of the possible solutions of your problem - one of the two prime factors, which is all you need to break a code. For other problems there might be a known or unknown number of solutions larger than two, but provided the number of solutions is smallish, repeated runs of your quantum computer would statistically guarantee you'd find all of them ... even if knowing just one isn't all you need to get the rest conventionally.
As the number N of coupled qubits becomes large, quantum computing becomes exponentially closer to magic. That, or we discover a reason why it stops working when N is bigger than some new-physics-determined number.
The observable universe contains something of the order of (only!) 2^84 hadrons. This is why I find it inconcievable that a quantum computer could work with N qubits in the hundreds or thousands, let alone all the way up to millions, trillions and beyond. (Avogadro's number is ~10^26! )
Greg Egan writes the hardest of hard SF. For one possible implication of a working quantum computer for large N, read "Luminous"!
Re: What about UK?
Would you be automatically guilty of crimes?
Probably, if you didn't immediately reach for the factory-restore disk .
Anyway, could you sensibly do anything else? God knows what else these sick bastards might have infected your computer with!
the logic that's really required?
If ( browser in standard_compliant_browsers ) then
Of course if your business isnvolves selling stuff to morons, that's probably not good enough!
Quantum computing and Physics
I've long been telling people that I expect the on-going failure to construct a significant quantum computer (hundreds of qubits) will be a gateway to new physics. There's some reason, that we don't yet have an inkling of, why it can't be done. In cosmology, there are similar thoughts surrounding rapidly rotating black holes, naked and ring singularities, and time travel ... but (perhaps fortunately) experimental cosmology is a long way off.
The alternative is that the universe is even wierder than I'm currently prepared to contemplate. Also, mundanely, that all cryprography is toast!
@RAMChYLD Re: NO problems with old Samsungs
Well, we're still using ~60 Samsung 1600x1200 monitors bought about six years ago and format-wise preferable to the 1920x1080 ones you get today. (They also pivot for 1200x1600 if you like that).
None failed in warranty. Two have failed since. I blame London Electricity for frying their power supplies.
Don't generalise from a small sample, or from a single product. All manufacturers occasionally ship lemons. The real test is how much hassle the warranty service puts you through. I don't have mucjh experience with Samsung because their products don't seem to fail during warranty. (And they stay reliable after). IIyama are very good. Acer and Dell were once so bad that we stopped buying from them.
Re: 1TB? no problem!
Something wrong with that heat calculation.
1Pb = 360 (say) 3Tb drives. Power consumption of WD 3Tb "Red" active read/write = 4.4W. http://www.storagereview.com/western_digital_red_nas_hard_drive_review_wd30efrx . 360 x 4.4 = 1584W. You can run that off a single 13A domestic outlet, even allowing for PSU inefficiency and all the cooling fans.
You WILL have to make sure your domestic Petabyte server does a phased disk spin-up, because the power demand of a disk drive while it's spinning up is usually about 20W for about ten seconds. 360 x 20W is 7.2kW, about the same as a somewhat weak electric shower unit, so you'd just have to spread the load over two domestic circuits and four 13A plugs if you weren't sure it would never spin up all the drives at once.
BTW those WD Red drives are extraordinarily quiet, so you wouldn't need ear-plugs provided you could find some enclosures that used big 12cm fans, rather than huge numbers of 6cm fans.
Idiots who pay for RHEL
I've always assumed the idiots want a multi-billion dollar company to sue, when they can prove that it was a known long-standing fault in the operating system that wrecked their business.
Yes, there are at least two huge holes in that argument, but the suits can't see them. And we should be thankful for these idiots, because they keep Red Hat in business.
If you don't want to pay, check out Centos or Scientific Linux. Or if you like bleeding edge, use Fedora, and help make RHEL8 better than RHEL7 by doing so. Yes I know, RHEL 7 isn't out quite yet.
Re: And yet ...
Because rats beed as fast as rabbits. And rats hide down holes too small for cats. And rats are astonishingly intelligent for smallish rodents. (Some of the rat stories I've heard, there must be significant intelligence overlap with humans. There again, some of the dumb human stories I've heard ...)
Cats do catch rats, but they have to hunt carefully because a rat can seriously injure a cat. So the cat has to be hungry to bother, and the rat species isn't in any danger.
If you want a lot of rats killed quickly, get someone in with ferrets and/or terriers. But a week later, you'll still have rats. Smarter rats.
Re: Full height drives
Why not go to a 10lb bag and go back to full height drives
Because a disk drive is an example of something that works better miniaturized. The smaller the platter, the faster it can spin without disintegrating or distorting. The smaller the arm carrying the head, the less it flexes and vibrates, so the faster the settling time after a seek. Both mean that a 2.5 inch datacentre disk has intrinsically lower latency than a 3.5 inch one.
It's like how a flea can accelerate itself at 300G, whereas it takes a lot less to make a human go squishy.
Also you don't need so much energy to move smaller head assemblies, so the drive generates less vibration to upset its neighbouring drives. With tens or hundreds packed close together, this is yet another advantage. I've heard tell of homebrew servers with four desktiop drives bolted into a single metal cage, that degraded quite atrociously under heavy loads. Those rubber drive-mount grommets in the better full-tower cases are definitely not just for show. They provide vibration isolation between drives.
Vibration is also the reason why a big stack of many tens of platters in a full-height enclosure wouldn't work well, if at all.
I wonder how long before we see the 1.8 inch datacentre drive? The one disadvantage of a smaller drive is smaller capacity, but 1Tb is more than enough in many applications.
Re: Glass platter
Does nobody else remember Pilkington's corporate-image advert with the glass hammer being used on a nail? And even more strikingly at the end, the glass claw of the hammer being used to lever out the bent nail?
My candidate for best corporate-image ad ever. Sadly, it couldn't save Pilkington from the French.
Glass, even the everyday sort, is very strong but brittle, meaning if a crack gets started it will spread catastrophically. A disk platter is of necessity perfectly polished, and installed in a very benign environment where there's nothing to scratch it (which is how cracks get started), meaning glass is an ideal substrate. In passing, it's metals that crack up after repeated flexing. Glasses don't. Flexing glass either breaks it first time, or not at all (provided it's perfectly micro-crack-free to start with and there's nothing to scratch it in service).
Tempered glass isn't deliberately weakened. It's cooled in a way that builds in a compressive stress to its surface (strengthened) at the cost of tension in its core (a disintegration waiting to happen). A tiny scratch or crack in the compressed zone won't spread in response to everyday flexing or temperature changes. But if a crack is ever driven through that zone into the core, the object instantly tears itself into small (and desirably un-sharp) pieces.
Re: "Domestic cats"
Out of interest are IT people more cat or dog inclined?
Don't know, but cats definitely have hacker personalities. (Dogs are like suits).
Remember the man who was prosecuted for animal cruelty because his cat was riding on the passenger seat of his motorbike (with its claws firmly dug in)? He was able to demonstrate it was that cat's choice to be there. Indeed, the cat was extremely reluctant to be left behind and came running at the sound of the bike being started. A biker cat.
Everything they do, be it hardware or software, is absolute sh*t.
Except printers. Which is probably the last hold-out of the old pre-Compaq HP, but for how much longer?
Re: That chart on profits
I can't convince myself there's any trend to be seen. A better breakdown might help.
How does it break down for smallest-size disks (<500Gb these days moving to 1Tb soon) versus the big ones? How would it look for server-grade versus desktop-grade?
My guess is that sales of smallest desktop-grade disks are in terminal decline, because of the advance of solid-state storage (and probably, the PC market changing from an expanding one to a saturated one). Smallest desktop drives were doubtless the volume product, though also almost certainly the least profitable.
Server-grade should be less affected, and multi-Tb drives should be safe for the forseeable future. Question for these, is just how many Tb does the world want to store?
Re: Were the 'new town clusters' similarly caused?
Clusters have also been found in small rural communities. AFAIR the first was spotted near Windscale, but a nationwide study found lots of clusters with no detectable correlation to nearby nuclear industry.
My personal guess would be that it's a legacy of historical in-breeding. The upper classes were rather keen on marrying their cousins, to keep their wealth all in the family. In villages, especially remoter ones, before modern transportation, the gene pool was naturally restricted.
Or it might be an infectious disease with negligible symptoms: one or more viruses as yet unknown, that trigger leukaemia in some individuals or circumstances.
Re: Windows 8 FAIL
"a fair portion of the existing market for office migrated to libreoffice or openoffice"
Not the paying market.
Give them time.
A thing Microsoft doesn't (or won't) understand about many corporate customers is their desire for stability, upward conpatibility, and a quiet unexciting life on the IT front.
These customers are likely still be running Office 2007 (some, 2003), often on XP. Upgrading may well mean paying to have all secretarial and non-technical staff sent on an Office 2010 course, on top of the hardware, licensing and IT staff costs.
And if that's going to happen every 3-4 years (2003 - 2007 - 2010 - ??) maybe 2003 or 2007 - Openoffice starts to look attractive?
If one had a life-span measured in billions of years, one's next thought might be "Whew! That really was a bit close for comfort!"
ISTR a supernova within 100 Ly presents a serious hazard to our biosphere. Some of the mass extinction events in Earth's history might have been so caused.
Re: What has this got to do with a Supernova?
Probably not connected.
OTOH a supernova happens when the star can no longer generate enough radiation pressure to balance the inwards pull due to gravity. Any additional mass might do that if the star is close enough to its tipping point.
For a REALLY spectacular tipping-point event, find out about hypernovae (pair-production catastrophes).
Please tell us more.
BTW pure heavy water (D2O) tastes oily.
Opportunity for AMD?
It occurs to me that this might be an opportunity for AMD. Establish AMD motherboards as the ones you choose when you put stability and reliability and good documentation ahead of loads of fancy features. Maybe hire some ex-Intel motherboard people to make it happen. Above all, make sure there's good support for non-MS secure boot. Ship all such boards with all widely-used keys pre-loaded, and a bios menu to "enable [xxx] secure boot key", "disable MS-Windows secure boot key", etc.
I'd switch from Intel boards to AMD in a jiffy, if this happened. Even if AMD never again manage to compete in the CPU performance stakes. How much CPU do most business users need, in any case?
I'm probably dreaming.
Re: Intel are struggling
Was Rolls-Royce struggling when it withdrew from manufacturing automobiles? (Rolls Royce aero engines, that is: they still license their name to a car company for historical reasons).
Re: Oh dear..
duplicate motherboard GUIDs
Hah! I raise you duplicate MAC addresses. Until you've experienced it you can have no idea how much "fun" two PCs on the same network with the same MAC address can cause!
Not such a silly analogy, nor such a silly business plan. Witness Rolls-Royce. They make engines for aircraft. (They also license their name to a car manufacturer, because for historical reasons the brand has value). Or witness IBM getting out of HDD manufacture. Or ARM never getting into chip manufacturing in the first place.
Intel are primarily a silicon chip designer and manufacturer. Much as I wish they weren't getting out of motherboards, I can understand the reasons why they might be doing so.
The conventional PC (in broad terms - regardless of OS) will be around for a very considerable amount of time in businesses. It costs too much to change platform. If doing so causes serious disruption to business function, it can be fatal to the business!
As I've pointed out many a time, any job function which requires user input in significant quantities requires a keyboard and a mouse. Until tablet manufacturers work this out, they'll make no inroads in such areas. Pure tablets are data-consumption devices. They may have business applications, but only ones where very little data is being fed in.
And Asus is probably "best of the rest"!
However, you do well to avoid the most feature-packed of the Asus boards. Go for one that has only the features you actively want. It'll save you money, and it may well be more reliable. That's because it'll be the same or similar to the ones that they are supplying to large PC manufacturers, rather than one that sells in low volume to "enthusiastic" end-users. Less likelyhood of BIOS or hardware screw-ups, and more chance that BIOS warts will get fixed if a major customer demands such a fix. Avoid the very cheapest, though. The cheapest is likely built down to it's price.
Viglen, who we buy our Intel-board-based systems from, use boards made by Asus (to Viglen spec? ) for their lowest-priced systems. Will have to ask what their future plans are!
Re: Intel Desktop Mobos
A great shame. They were rock-solid reliable. Even more important, you were absolutely certain that if you ordered another one a year or two later, the hardware on it would be exactly the same as the first one you ordered. (You'd have thought that was universal, but it isn't. Some manufacturers stick a small v1 v2 ... suffix on the part-number, which many suppliers drop. Some PC vendors feel that they have carte blanche to supply any hardware they feel like, whatever the stickered "model number" says!
Intel were also the most linux-friendly motherboard manufacturers that I know of.
Sigh. Maybe they know that there's a shit-storm of epic proportions on the way, because of secure boot and (non-)support for non-Microsoft keys, and they don't want to be making motherboards at all when it arrives so they don't suffer accusations of guilt by association?
Re: Doctors caring & empathetic?
Screw up a bloodwork culture and/or misdiagnose something serious, and you can start (fail to prevent?) an epidemic which wipes out the human race / kick-starts the zombie apocalypse. Car mechanics don't build nuclear weapons, so they are far less capable of that scale of destruction.
No, you still laven't thought this through, even at the extreme. Suppose those screwed-up brakes are on a vehicle carrying the zombie plague blood samples to the path lab? In any case, it's not usually a doctor doing the path lab work that can distinguish the merely individually lethal cases from the imminent global pandemic cases. Certainly it won't be a surgeon.
As others have pointed out, cool and detached may be necessary for a surgeon because (a) he can't afford to get emotional while things are going badly for the patient and (b) sooner or later he will make a mistake that causes a death, and if he's too empathetic that's the end of his career. Highly empathetic doctors will go into other branches of medicine. General practice for example, or geriatric care, or psychiatry.
in fact thinking about it, a surgeon is very close to an engineer working on a human body. He needs to be a self-motivated perfectionist. He dosen't need to be empathetic, in fact it may be a handicap if he is.
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