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* Posts by Nigel 11

2433 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

Germans purge selves of indigestible 63-letter word

Nigel 11
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Re: antidisestablishmentarianism...

My thought too. Unlike most lengthy detritus in the dictionary, this word is actually useful (and has been so for centuries). If it didn't exist, political discourse would require that it be invented.

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Quantum boffins send data ACROSS TIME AND SPACE

Nigel 11
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IT Angle

Re: look ma, no hidden variables

Does superluminal signalling automatically imply time travel?

I've read that it does. Interestingly, it's the IT angle of time travel (even if restricted to information only) which seems to me the greatest paradox. The problem is that if you can send even as little as one bit back in time, you can arrive at the result of any convergent iterative process in the time taken to compute a single iterative step (by sending the result of that iteration back in time to replace the initial approximation).

It's only a slight stretch to claim that such a computer would inevitably transform line noise into a strongly superhuman, perhaps ultimate, intelligence. So akin to the Fermi paradox, where is IT?

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Inside Intel's Haswell: What do 1.4 BEELLION transistors get you?

Nigel 11
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No bigLITTLE

Am I the only person surprised that Intel hasn't used a bigLITTLE design? (ie, one with a much-simplified core for housekeeping when there's very little going on, sharing state with a much faster core to which it would hand over when things get too busy). Can they dynamically shut down so much of a core that they don't actually need to use silicon real-estate for a separate housekeeper-core architecture?

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EFF files objections with W3C decrying addition of DRM to HTML5

Nigel 11
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Re: In an ideal world...

I'm trying to think of any reason why HTML5 needs to contain the DRM standard, rather than just having a separate standardised DRM.

Surely if the media lobby wants a single world-standard DRM they should decide on one themselves and put it forwards to ISO. Once standardised, users would download just one DRM entity to handle all standards-conforming media sites, and the (non-)problem of twenty incompatible DRM systems would be solved. Some browsers might even choose to implement ISOxxxx natively rather than as a separate user-requested plugin.

The only conclusion I can draw is that the media lobby has an ulterior motive in trying to get DRM into html5. Tell them to sod off and standardize it amongst themselves without fouling the HTML standard!

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Canadian regulators welcome US Bitcoin refugees with open arms

Nigel 11
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You could ask the same question about Gold, or any other fungible store of value. Whatever your nation enacts as law, is probably as good an answer as you'll get. In the UK, the rules are different for Sovereigns (=UK currency), Krugerrands (=SA currency) and gold bullion bars (commodity, not currency).

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Nigel 11
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Unhappy

Re: Unfortunately...

The irony is that Bitcoin is exactly the sort of thing that libertarian-leaning right-wingers ought to be welcoming with open arms and trying to protect. It's early days, but the intention is to create a form of currency that's (a) as "hard" as gold, (b) electronically tradeable, and (c) anonymous, just like fiat paper used to be, until circa 1970.

Shows how far the Republican party has fallen, that it will shoot itself in both feet just to bash the Democrats. Do they WANT the state to be able to trace every financial transaction by every "free" citizen? Do they WANT the state to be able to hyper-inflate everybody's savings out of existence? I feat that both of these things will be visited on the USA, and probably the UK, within my lifetime.

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Windows 8.1 Start button SPOTTED in the wild

Nigel 11
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Re: it rapidly fills to a point of becoming unnavigable

It's not a design flaw. It's an easily user-configurable option. It's also perfectly usable, if non-optimal, straight out of the box, because it's self-documenting. A program can't read your mind about where to insert itself, so it puts itself under its manufacturer's name and leaves it up to you to move or copy its entry to your place of choice. (Some programs do ask; more should). It also remembers the things you use most often and offers them to you at the top level (which is probably why most people never bother re-organising it).

If there's any problem, it's remembering how to change language, if the usual user of the PC is Finnish, or Arabic, or Chinese. But that's a general problem not specific to the start menu. Would have been so much more useful if there was a button (called Babelfish? ) on the keyboard, instead of a Windows button.

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Nigel 11
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Alert

Re: I'm Sick Of This

It's possible to run KDE on Windows (and possibly other Linux desktops).

Reference please! It can't be any more shit than those tiles!

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Nigel 11
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FAIL

Re: Confort zone

No, that's not how it is.

While one is learning to use one's tools, one has to think about the tools, and one's productivity is low. When one has mastered them, one doesn't really think about them at all. They are just a part of one's environment, while one thinks about the actual useful work that one is accomplishing.

It's the difference between learning to ride a bicycle (if you can remember that far back) and riding one. You don't think about how to move the handlebars or when and how to change gears, you think about where you want to be and about what the other road users are up to. You can even day-dream, and you won't fall off, though failing to keep your mind on the other road-users can be fatal for other reasons.

Windows was wired into me back in the days of Windows 98. Thinking back, DecWindows and he AIX UI weren't so hugely different. (What? say the youngsters. Windows pre-Microsoft). XP SP3 was probably the best UI, with Gnome 2 a close second. Windows 7 was a tolerable irritation, like learning to drive a new car that you didn't actually want but couldn't refuse. Windows 8 is not a tolerable change (and neither was Gnome 3, but the open-source community rapidly fixed that stupidity, whereas Microsoft are very hard of hearing and have a monopoly on the source code).

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Nigel 11
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Re: Bunch of nancies

Try configuring a PC for a university, or even a school. Large numbers of different programs. Students in each department and/or year use a different small subset of them. A menu is a perfect way to organise them. 1000+ tiles is random (or even defined) order isn't.

I'd be perfectly happy if those stupid tiles were a new option that an experienced sysadmin could turn OFF. But no, Microsoft insists on ramming them down everyone's throat. And that's only a small part of what's wrong with the Win 8 UI. It also insists on going full-screen at every opportunity. What I want to do is have several windows open on my nice large 1920x1080 screen, and switch between them with one mouse-click. That's WHY I have a large monitor (and they're cheap and flat these days, so it's no great expense - some of my colleagues have TWO).

If they don't fix it by the time Windows 7 is EOLed, I'll say goodbye to Microsoft even if I have to find a new job to do so. For now I'll just say no to 8. They've still got a while for the penny to drop, though it's looking a lot as if the board is going to have to eject Ballmer while there's still time to save the company. I've seen other big companies go down the plug-hole, because the boss's ego was too big to make the U turn that the customers were demanding.

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Nigel 11
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Re: Since when did Microsoft start taking design cues...

Nice to see a mention of Cinnamon.

When the Gnome folks messed up with "3", the open-source community bitched about it a lot and then got on with doing what Microsoft are signally failing to do. One lot wrote a user-friendly environment to run on top of the new Graphics libraries (Cinnamon). The other lot rescued the old interface, warts and all (Mate). And of course, KDE, Gnome 2, XFCE, and dozens of others never actually got taken away.

I tried KDE, Mate and Cinnamon, decided I liked Cinnamon most, made "yum install Cinnamon" a standard part of my set-up repertoire, and stopped bitching.

Microsoft's "start button" is no Cinnamon. It's a fig-leaf with very serious caterpillar damage.

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Nigel 11
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Re: PC buying slump and zero 'Comfy Chairs' at retailers...

Just tell them to buy one running Windows 7, because if they get "8" they'll hate it and you won't be able to do anything to help them.

If they're hard of hearing you get to say "told you so" and remind them that you said you couldn't help.

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Nigel 11
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What if there are 1000+ apps installed?

We're a university. Our computers have abnormally large numbers of prograpms installed, because they are shared by students from many different departments, each of which needs a few different programs to the crowd.

A heirarchical menu is the perfect way to organise these. 1000+ tiles is not. This isn't the return of the start menu, it's a sop thrown in our faces. I wonder if it'll mollify enough people for Microsoft to get its misguided (or evil?) way with us?

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Last time CO2 was this high, the world was underwater? NO, actually

Nigel 11
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Re: Really?

There is evidence of sudden level changes in the form of certain estuaries. Sea level fell quite fast, geologically speaking, creating a new steep run for the river down into the sea. The resulting fast-moving water caused rapid erosion of a steep-sided valley. Then sea-level rose again, and the valley flooded with seawater, preserving its steep underwater form because erosion below the low-tide level is very slow. Take a look at Dartmouth or the Wye. It's very unlikely that the level of the UK land-mass could change fast enough to account for this.. The UK is geologically pretty stable (large earthquakes are rare, for example). The Andes are an example of rapidly-changing land levels - frequent catastrophic earthquakes, river-flows reversed in their valleys, and beaches raised tens of metres in mere thousands of years, as noted by Darwin. BTW glaciation creates a straight-ish U-shaped valley (or fjord), river erosion creates a wiggly V-shaped valley, so we can tell these southern estuaries aren't the result of glacier erosion.

One can also calculate what sea-level will be if all the ice-caps melt. At the very least, that should put you off investing in any land or property anywhere near to present sea-level! More seriously, the worst-case scenario is so bad that I do think we ought to heed the precautionary principle before it's too late.

Worst-case is permafrost thawing releasing methane causing global warming causing more permafrost thawing ... a positive feedback loop that won't stop until all the permafrost has thawed. There is geological evidence that such runaway warming events have happened several times in recent geological history. There is also geological evidence that the long-term stable (say 30Myear-average) situation for the Earth is with no large ice-caps at all and a MUCH warmer climate regulated by percentage cloud cover. Ice causes instability and positive feedback loops. We live in climatologically interesting times.

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Forget tax bills, here's how Google is really taking us all for a ride

Nigel 11
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IT Angle

Laffer curve

Laffer discredited? It's surely bleeding obvious that the receipts from a tax set at 100% are zero, because you'd have to be mad to earn under such a regime. So there must be a curve from zero income at 0% tax to zero income at 100% tax. The argument is over what shape that curve is and how it varies with time, for tax rates between the extremes, and the effects of changing the rates. This, like many interesting things in economics, cannot be measured with useful precision. (Though gut reaction says that if a government is taking more than half of what one earns, it's time to start thinking about leaving! )

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Nigel 11
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A lot to be said for 0% corporation tax

Since so many companies can avoid paying this tax by relocating, why not scrap it?

There would then be no incentive to leave the UK and every incentive to relocate to the UK. More employment, so less benefits paid by the government to the unemployed. More purchasing by companies in the UK, so more indirect taxes raised. Maybe the government might find that it didn't need to raise taxes to make up any shortfall, maybe even the opposite. Worth a try?

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Big Data is bovine excrement says Obama's Big Data man

Nigel 11
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Meh

Re: First of all ...

One reason I don't use smart devices that can't run Firefox with Adblock-plus. I *know* I can't stop their systems correlating everything they know about my browsing and targeting me with laughably useless advertizing. But at least I never have to look at it!

Good advice to all. ALWAYS be a buyer, NEVER become a sellee.

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Lenovo planning US smartphone push as PC sales stall

Nigel 11
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Re: Unknown brand

Brand X is how it should be. You should be able to have the hardware of your choice running the software of your choice. As phone CPUs get more powerful, the arguments for software that runs only on a particular phone, or only on a particular manufacturer's phones, will look weaker and weaker. Lock-in? No thanks.

Samsung has just released a pure-Android version of the Galaxy. Looks as if they understand, and they should concentrate on what hey are good at. At present, they're much better at hardware than software.

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Stand by for PURPLE KETCHUP as boffins breed SUPER TOMATOES

Nigel 11
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Unhappy

Grow your own!

People seem to be under the mistaken impression that the only natural colour for a tomato is red. Actually, they can be red, orange, yellow, green(but ripe!), purple, or near-black, to say nothing of striped or blotched in various combinations of these colours. This is just using the normal techniques of selective breeding to create new varieties. Check out a good seed catalogue.

The tastiest tomato variety I've ever tried is called "Black Russian" and is green-purple-black with much the same aesthetics as a really bad bruise. Unsurprisingly you won't find it in supermarkets. I'm not sure if it's grown commercially at all.

The uniform red globes you get in supermarkets are bred for high yield, visual appearance, long shelf life, and resistance to bruising in transit, with flavour in a rather distant fifth place. (One commercially-grown variety is called "Moneymaker", which rather gives the game away)

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Spam and the Byzantine Empire: How Bitcoin tech REALLY works

Nigel 11
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Unhappy

Re: What it's for

few governments are actually evil. And most are trying their best to do the right thing, incompetence permitting.

I'd tend to agree, except that they've convinved themselves that they are doing good in a circumstance where there may be nothing good to be done. We're now the subjects of an unprecedented experiment in economics. (If you think the 1930s were the precedent, remember that led to WW2, so I very much hope not). Power corrupts. Government is forever taking more power. We know what is proverbially paved with good intentions.

UK govt. has "printed" £375 billion by QE in recent years. That's over £6,000 per citizen. Some day, it will come flooding out into circulation. When that happens, I fear that the 1970s will be seen as a mere dress rehearsal for what is still to come.

I can remember the 1970s. I hope I'm wrong.

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Nigel 11
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Same as other curencies!

It's all well and good to use progressively more difficult computational work to underpin bitcoin but that work uses not just real world time but energy.

The main reason gold is a store of value, is that mining more of it is expensive.

As for government paper, what is the energy cost of all the enforcement mechanisms needed to prevent forgers and fraudsters devaluing the currency? (Fraud squads, auditors, bankers all consume energy). Much harder to quantify, but it would be fair to say that if it wasn't substantial, the currency would be sunk pretty fast.

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Nigel 11
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Happy

What it's for

Like any currency, different things to different folks.

It's the seed of a currency that is not under the control of a government or any other human agency. in that respect it's a hard currency like Gold. But physical gold is expensive to safeguard and validate and impossible to use for e-transactions, and "paper" or e-Gold is vulnerable to fraudsters (who basically sell the real gold out of whatever vault it's supposed to be in, leaving a hollow shell of un-backed paper gold.

As for who is using Bitcoins: all sorts of people, but I fear Bitcoins are of greatest utility to those with most to hide. Apparently there are shops out ther in cyberspace on the Tor network, that supply illegal substances. You buy using Bitcoins, untraceably, and a packet may later arrive in the post which may contain your choice of illegal drug. Buyer beware, but E-bay has proved that the straightforward sort of fraud is not profitable. You can't maintain a reputation while ripping off many of your customers. Especially not for low-value transactions that promise repeat purchases. It's better to cultivate the repeat business. What works for legal products appears to work for illegal ones. (All allegedly ... I have no idea beyond what I've read about it).

It seems to me that the more governments gain access to our transaction histories and employ "big data" computing, the more attractive the Bitcoin will become. I don't mind Tesco having a record of everything I've ever bought at Tesco (except the cash no card transactions!), but a world where the government's computers analyze every single purchase and financial transaction that I've ever made is not apealing. Enter many more Bitcoin users?

Which is one reason governments hate Bitcoins and would like to kill them off if they could. Their propaganda (with more than a grain of truth) is that Bitcoins aid money launderers and tax evaders. Their other reason is that if Bitcoins flourish, it will be at the expense of all governments' ability to print their own money, and thereby rob (or tax) us all by inflation.

We live in interesting times. (Smiley face just worked out that the circle on the inside of the empty envelope is the bit he's supposed to eat).

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More than half of Windows 8 users just treat it like Windows 7

Nigel 11
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Re: OK. What's wrong with XP?

Quite a lot is wrong, but the faults are well-hidden "under the hood" to use a car analogy. Your mechanic (IT staffer) deals with the bad bits. You use the UI, which is actually rather good (and I say that as a 75% Linux user). You don't know anything of the bad bits until it breaks down.

Windows 7 is much better under the hood, but regrettably changed the UI in a lot of ways which didn't make it better, just gratuitously different. It was an annoyance, but soon enough one got used to it. Same level of annoyance as buying a new car from a different manufacturer. Major stuff the same, minor controls all different but same basic functions once you find them.

Windows 8 is slightly better than Windows 7 under the hood, but the UI sucks mightily. Square steering wheel, pedals swapped around, instruments that require you to take both hands off the steering wheel to use them ... like someone resurrected the controls from a Model T Ford and piled a load of 21st-century stuff around them. Couldn't happen with a car, because that sort of change would kill people.

MS can still rescue itself. It should give XP at least one year longer before ceasing bugfixes, and develop a smooth migration path from both XP and 7 to Windows 9 for techies and unskilled users alike. But they are walking ever closer to a cliff edge with their eyes shut.

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Nigel 11
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Devil

Re: Real Solutions

The solution is not to use Classic Shell or Start8. It is to not buy Windows 8. At. All.

The problem with that as a corporate user is that we have downgrade rights, and that the hardware sold with Windows 7 costs MORE than the same hardware with Windows 8. And since we always blow away whatever crapware a PC ships with by re-installing our customized image, we're "buying" Windows 8 if MS cares to view it that way.

However, I'm sure that they can count activations and work out the truth of the above. If they want to. MS has (maybe had) an "Emperor's new clothes" problem.

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Smartwatch face off: Pebble, MetaWatch and new hi-tech timepieces

Nigel 11
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Re: Smart watches are still pretty dumb

Yes, a watch needs to be readable without pressing any buttons.

Is it beyond our ken to make a screen (LCD?) that de-energises to transparent? Then put a conventional watch with hands behind it.

The other way would be if it could sense the characteristic gesture of turning the back of one's hand to face one's face. I doubt whether the tech to do that on a watch-sized battery is yet available.

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AMD's three new low-power chips pose potent challenge to Intel

Nigel 11
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Re: AMD senior manager of client, server, and embedded products Gary Silcot

Excludes mobile products? (embedded may mean machinery and vehicles, excluding smartphones). Or does it indicate that AMD has been in distress, and two or three posts got merged?

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Biz bods: Tile-tastic Windows 8? NOOO. We lust after 'mature' Win 7

Nigel 11
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Alert

38 per cent preferring Windows 8 ...

Compared to 35 percent for Windows 7. I presume the other 27 percent declined to answer the silly question because there were no tick-boxes for [ Windows XP, Macintosh, several flavours of Linux Desktop, Android, ...]

I.e. they asked would you prefer to be (a) boiled alive or (b) eaten by fire ants. Or didn't ask at all and just made up some numbers.

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They WANT to EAT YOUR COMPUTER - welcome your ANT overlords

Nigel 11
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Boffin

Re: It's no joke

If they're attracted to relays and motors (?motors with brushes only?) then I'd hazard a guess that it's Ozone or

Nitrogen Oxides that attract them.

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Stand aside, Wi-Fi - these boffins are doing 40Gbps over the air

Nigel 11
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Re: Where's the advantage over free space optics?

How much do lasers that can be modulated at 40Gbits/second cost, compared to this transmitter? That may well be the main advantage.

And does a 250GHz carrier go through or around a bird? Line of sight optical won't.

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Acorn founder: SIXTH WAVE of tech will wash away Apple, Intel

Nigel 11
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Re: You can call me AI

In the Culture universe, there's no competition for resources, expecially not between Minds and humans.

I expect that if we ever get as far as AI in our own universe, something similar will happen. Once we've accepted that AIs deserve to be treated as autonomous thinking creatures with "human" rights, it will become apparent that silicon-based intelligence is much better-suited to vacuum than to moist oxidizing atmospheres. So the AI-expansionist-tendency will expand outwards, leaving a few human-loving AIs to get along with the bio-life that can't breathe vacuum.

They''d also be much better-suited to the deep time needed for interstellar travel at less than light-speed. Somewhat ironically, the way to make ten-thousand-year journeys tolerable is to slow down one's clock-rate, thereby greatly reducing the subjective span of time.

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Nigel 11
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Re: "the incumbent always misses the next wave"

Have you never noticed that the railways tend to follow the canal routes?

Thi is not accidental. It's because they both had the same underlying need: an optimally un-hilly route from A to B. And so the railway companies bought out the canals for their rights-of-way, or the canal owners moved themselves into the railway business. Not sure if there's anything analagous in computer tech.

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Euro PC shipments plummet into bottomless pit of DOOOOM

Nigel 11
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Re: PC shipments ffailing for ONE reason

I'd prefer new things to upgraded things.

Try comparing a 3-year-old PC upgraded to 8Gb RAM and an SSD, against a new bog-standard PC with a conventional hard disk. You may change your mind. Admittedly, this presupposes that you don't actually need more than 250Gb of storage (i.e. that the 500Gb or 1Tb hard disk will never get anywhere near full).

At the place I work, there are going to be a lot of SSD upgrades in the near future. (It holds the PC's software, all the user data lives on a server).

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Nigel 11
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Re: PC shipments ffailing for ONE reason

Oh, they'll need replacing ... just not so often. It used to be standard to replace PCs every 3 years, because the technology was advancing so fast that a 3-year-old PC was obsolete and verging on unable to run today's software. That cycle is slowing. Now a 5-year-old PC is still usable, and today's state-of-the-art systems may be usable in seven years. Also (in the West anyway) everyone who needs a PC has got a PC. That's why the tablet market looks so healthy by comparison: lots of folks haven't got one yet. But it won't be long until the market for tablets is also saturated.

As for making them to fail as fast as possible: a manufacturer that does that will soon be recognised as selling short-lived crap. So they might get a short-term boost from making them cheaper than the competition and selling them at the same price, but you can only fool most folks once. Alfa Romeo never really recovered from making a car that rusted to death in three years instead of ten (ten was then acceptable ... not any more!)

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Murdoch hate sparks mass bitchin', rapid evacuation from O2, BE

Nigel 11
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Re: Going, going, gone.

Thinking along those lines, it might be better if I stay with Sky for a while (3 months?) and THEN tell Murdoch where to stick his service. This way BE gets to walk off with more of Murdoch's cash and therefore Murdoch has less of it.

Also my reason for leaving is made better-known to the cause thereof.

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Bing uncloaks Klingon translator

Nigel 11
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Headmaster

Enormous feat?

There are recent instances of new languages arising quite spontaneously, when groups of people without a common language find it necessary to communicate. Tok Pisin (Papua New Guinea, "pidgin english") is perhaps the newest. English itself was once such a language, born of mutual incomprehension between Norman French invaders and Anglo-Saxon natives. It's since evolved in a different direction to both parents, most noticeably by progressively jettisoning its formal grammar.

There's also a new sign language, born of deaf children being dumped in orphanages and left to rot (i.e. given no guidance on existing sign or other languages. So they invented one.)

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Apple asked me for my BANK statements, says outraged reader

Nigel 11
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Coat

Re: Not just Apple----correction

and I've recently been seeing a lot of headlines starting BANKS HIT ...

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China: Online predator or hapless host?

Nigel 11
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Re: soam..

I know of a small business that gets a significant percentage of its trade from China. It's not the business of BT to decide which countries its customers are allowed to receive connection attempts from. It's the business of each business to decide what firewall rules and other data security to impose on itself. the only sensible approach is to assume that ALL internet addresses are potentially hostile. It may have been your best customer until yesterday, but how do you know who is in the driving seat of today's connection attempt?

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Analysts brawl over 'death' of markup language

Nigel 11
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XML - "overuse in programming frameworks is annoying"

Indeed. in may cases it's used as a vendor lock-in to tie us into their XML-manipulation setup programs that restrict us to a subset of the product's capabiliries, unless we pay extra for "XXX Enterprise manager" or some similarly-named crap.

Which would you rather edit to configure a package?

[global]

option = value

option-2 = fred, joe, , ...

etc.

[section 1]

foo = value

bar = value, value, value ...

Or

<XXXconfig><XXXglobals><option>value</option>

<option2><option2-item>fred</option2-item><option-2 item>joe</option2-item>...

</option2>

etc

</XXXglobals>

<XXXsection1>

etc etc. etc?

And by the way, there probably won't be any CR's in the XML file, it'll be kilobytes of XML all on one line as far as a text editor is concerned, and it'll treat any CRs between the tags as actual data to be fed into the thing that you're trying to configure, thereby creating obscure problems.

Yes, I know you can get a generic XML editor ...

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Identity cards: How Labour lost power in a case of mistaken ID

Nigel 11
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Re: I wonder how much of the opposition matches mine?

I'm fairly sure that if I use a private boat to get to France or Ireland, the EC rules don't allow for me to be refused entry just because I've left my UK passport at home. (That's assuming someone actually notices that I've arrived). They can probably fine me for not carrying an acceptable ID document if their laws say that I should be doing so, and of course the hassle and wasted time would be a pain.

The easiest way to get out of the UK without a passport would be to take the ferry to Northern Ireland and then walk across the border into Eire. When Scotland leaves the UK it'll be even easier ;-)

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3D printed gun plans pulled after US State Department objects

Nigel 11
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Alert

Re: Oh please...

Not that I would ever walk through a backscatter x-ray machine, ionising radiation anyone??

With that attitude you shouldn't ever get on a plane! You need to compare the ionizing radiation dose you get from the detector at the airport, with the ionizing radiation dose that you get from cosmic rays at 40,000ft for several hours. Which is about 10x greater. And of course the greater danger is that the plane crashes, due to pilot error, mechanical failure, or even a terrorist. (Getting to the airport in a private car is even more dangerous).

I'm convinced that the radiation is close enough to harmless, because aircrew don't suffer an obviously greater rate of cancer than other people, despite spending much of their working lives at altitude. You can also find out about the native fisherman in India, who live and work on a beach made of natural thorium-bearing sand that would be deemed a serious low-level radiation hazard were you to bring a bag of the same sand back to the UK. They're far healthier than the books say they should be. The evidence is fairly persuasive that you can't extrapolate the measurable dangers of moderate doses of radiation down to the lower levels found in nature that living beings must have evolved to deal with.

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Nigel 11
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Crossbow!

If I ever wanted a one-shot lethal weapon I'd make a crossbow (or investigate the springonne which is more compact). They were making crossbows in mediaeval and roman times. You don't need advanced technology, though using modern plastics, you don't need metal either. You don't need anything controlled or explosive or traceable. You don't need anything you can't shape from raw material with hand tools.

A longbow is also a formidable weapon, given enough practice. Martial-arts experts can hit a three inch target at a distance of many yards, firing (wrong word) from a galloping horse, and it offers a quiverfull of shots.

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Standard Model goes PEAR-SHAPED in CERN experiment

Nigel 11
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Re: We don't *know*, but we are pretty sure it does

A major re-think like that might explain a lot, but since we have no data that would shape what that rethink should be, we cannot start it now

Sightly too strong. If a theory of everything exists that supercedes both quantum mechanics and gravitation, it might be concieved of tomorrow by a mathematician of genius. If it were simpler than the existing two irreconcilables, I'd wager Occam's razor that it was right. And it would probably make predictions which were at odds with one or other of the existing theories, which would then help the experimentalists know what to look for.

It wouldn't be the first time that the theory came first and observations that confirm the theory later.

Some might say that the theory *has* to come first, otherwise the universe wouldn't know what to do. And a few would say that it didn't, until something somewhere started thinking. Philosophy, again.

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Nigel 11
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Including the very slight fluctuations in the spectrum of that radiation in different directions?

Continuous creation for infinite time would even the background radiation out in all directions, unless you're prepared to countenance that empty space has different properties in different directions as viewed from here.

The big bang hypothesis predicts that there should have been quantum fluctuations in ther very early universe, the signature of which would be seen as anisotropy in the cosmic background radiation. Those fluctuations have now been observed, at levels that are not hard to reconcile with the hypothesis.

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Nigel 11
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Re: Sharing: Dream of Four-Dimensional State and Fivengtange-Dimensional State

Don't knock such visions ... but unless you can retrieve the underlying meaning, if any, and set it down in the language of mathematics, you'll find it hard to convince many people that it's anything other than a purely subjective imagining.

Organic chemistry was given a huge advance by Kekule, who dreamed of a snake swallowing its own tail and backtracked to the structure of a benzene molecule. Newton reputedly cracked gravity because of a falling apple, or its effect on his head. Many mathematicians and some scientists are Platonists. They believe that mathematics is the language in which the universe is best described, because it exists independantly and timelessly outside of all physical reality. Like most philosophies, it's hard or impossible to disprove, and I believe in Occam's razor! But allowing that they might be right, perhaps we do all occasionally come back from wherever we go when asleep with faint and scrambled recollections of the deepest of realities, and sometimes manage to reconstruct another tiny facet of the infinite?

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Nigel 11
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Re: We don't *know*, but we are pretty sure it does

Bosons are commonly their own antiparticles. The commonest such particle is the photon. Observation of light in gravitational fields on distance scales from smallish (Earth-Sun) to comsological show that photons are attracted by massive objects much as predicted by Einsteinian gravitation. And since they are their own antiparticles, then antiphotons are likewise attracted.

We don't know of any Majorana fermions - ones which are their own antiparticles. The equations don't rule out such particles, and neutrinos are not yet well-enough understood to rule them out as candidates. But gravity acts alike on bosons and fermions, so it would be a major asymmetry if it acted oppositely for antibosons compared to antifermions!

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Nigel 11
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Asymmetry can be an emergent property.

The general belief is that the universe started symmetric but unstable, or evolved to become unstable, and then spontaneously changed into a more stable but less symmetric configuration. Imagine a ball perched on a mound in the exact middle of a dish, with perfect rotational symmetry about the Z axis. Precisely because it is perfectly symmetric, the ball doesn't move. The slightest fluctation of anything changes the situation from metastable to unstable. The ball starts to roll. Once this starts, it will ultimately settle down to stability in a lower part of the dish, displaced from the centre. The arrangement of ball and dish is no longer symmetric about its Z axis. Incidentally the ball is also merely metastable with respect to rolling to and fro in its sponaneously chosen X-Z plane and won't "ignore" its freedom to also move in the Y direction for very long.

If you ask how it got onto the mound, one answer is that the dish itself always retains perfect rotational symmetry, but is evolving in shape from one with the lowest point at the exact centre, to one with a mound at the centre. At the critical point where the centre is no longer the low point, the ball ceases to be stable and becomes metastable.

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Coke? Windows 8 is Microsoft's 'Vista moment'. Again

Nigel 11
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Coffee/keyboard

Re: Telemetics is correct

ROFL.

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Nigel 11
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Re: I'm still curious to know

they seemed to be shifting old stock at a discount as the current version with win8 was £100 more!)

That's not the reason. On Toshiba's price-list the Windows 8 systems are cheaper than the same hardware pre-loaded with Windows 7, by about £50. Methinks if you buy a Windows 7 one you are paying Microsoft for a 7 license and for an 8 license. On the other hand, if you buy the 8 system, you have to spend hours "downgrading" it, and you'd probably be on your own if you were to need support from Toshiba for a software issue.

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Nigel 11
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Coffee/keyboard

USB teletype?

For a fairly close approximation ssh onto a machine in Australia and then back to a machine in the UK. Repeat until the character echo appears no faster than a quarter of a second after you type it, and often longer. This is what life was always like, in the days of 110 baud acoustically coupled modems.

(I've still got one at home in my loft. It needs an old bakelite standard-issue Post Office telephone to couple it to. And probably new valves and capacitors and rubber bits by now. Nice polished mahogany box, though! )

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Nigel 11
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Mushroom

Sinowsky hoisted by his own petard?

The number that Microsoft has, which we don't, is the number of Windows 8 activations versus the number of Windows 7 activations. By now they should have a very good idea how many systems shipped with Windows 8 never boot it, how many boot it for a day or a week and then get "downgraded", and how many excess Windows 7 activations in the period (as opposed to Windows 7 "sold").

Where I work, the ones that don't get nuked to Windows 7 the moment they are unpacked, get nuked to Linux.

Sinowsky lived by telemetrics, and may have died by telemetrics. Good riddance.

BTW to anyone at Microsoft reading this ... WE TOLD YOU SO!

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