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* Posts by Nigel 11

2560 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

Spam and the Byzantine Empire: How Bitcoin tech REALLY works

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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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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Deep inside Intel's new ARM killer: Silvermont

Nigel 11
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"Netbook" - fast enough.

The fall of the netbook is largely down to Microsoft, not Intel. I have an EeePC 1000 running Windows 7, and it's usable. How? You upgrade the RAM to 2Gb and the disk to an SSD. I think it was Microsoft who insisted that manufacturers sold them with a maximum of 1Gb RAM and a hard disk (though of course, SSDs weren't cheap enough for the size needed until recently).

More cores and a bit more speed will be nice, but for anyone wanting to run Windows on something that we may as well still call a netbook (small, light in weight, long runtime on battery, and cheap) the keys are SSD and plenty of RAM. In the latter connection, I hope that Intel won't hamstring the new CPUs with too small a physical address space.

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Move over Radeon, GeForce – Intel has a new graphics brand: Iris

Nigel 11
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Headmaster

75 times faster snail is still a snail.

Err ... no.

Say a snail can do 1 cm/second. 75 times that may be a funereal walking pace, but is still far beyond any land-dwelling mollusc.

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Gaming app ENSLAVES punter PCs in Bitcoin mining ring

Nigel 11
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Flame

Re: Why not...

your VERY expensive GPU has its operating life shorted significantly

in that case it's your very expensive AND VERY BADLY DESIGNED GPU. Silicon should last effectively forever (at least a decade, by which time it's obsolete) running at 50C - 60C. Typically it suffers logic errors and crashes at around 100C, because the hotter it gets the slower the transistors switch. This, however, is crash not burn. Once it's cooled down it again works fine.

Modern designs normally throttle themselves back when they're getting too hot, on the basis that users prefer slower to crashed. The cynic in me suggests that it's also a great way to persuade users to buy a new "faster" computer when all they really need is a new fan on the old one's heatsink to restore its original operating performance. (Or even just a vacuum cleaner to get the fluff out of the heatsink fins).

"Damage" is cumulative, caused by thermally activated migration of atoms within the chip. The rate at which it happens rises as the exp of the ABSOLUTE temperature. 60C is 333K, 100C is 373K, the difference is fairly small.

I was once called in to service an AMD Athlon system with what turned out to be a failed hard disk. Before I got there I touched the heatsink and my skin sizzled. The CPU had been running at over 100C since the fan failed months? years? ago, without any problems at all.

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Nigel 11
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Re: In a word...

What, exactly, has been stolen?

Electricity.

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ISPs: Get ready to slurp streams from Murdoch's fat pipe

Nigel 11
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Pint

Re: So the Anti Murdoch brigade

Personally I wouldn't touch them with a bargepole

Seconded. It's nothing at all to do with Sky's technical competence or lack of it. Neither is it to do with their prices. It's to do with my perception that the Murdoch empire is evil, and as such I refuse to voluntarily give it any of my money.

I thought folks celebrating Thatcher's death was extremely distasteful, but I might allow myself a private drink or two on the day that I hear that Rupert Murdoch is no more.

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Thousands rally behind teen girl cuffed, expelled in harmless 'explosion'

Nigel 11
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Bloody ridiculous

When I was at school we were making similar devices - under the guidance of our Chemistry teacher! He also showed us a nice gas/air explosion in a cocoa tin, and a flour/air conflagration in a drainpipe. Lesson learned: even "harmless" substances can be dangerous if you don't understand the risks.

the USA is evolving from a land of can-do spirit to a land where nothing is allowed unless explicitly permitted. Sad.

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Cat ladies turned brand-squatters poke fun at religious right

Nigel 11
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Coat

Typo

I too am easily amused by funny things.

Furry things, surely?

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Guess who PC-slaying tablets are killing next? Keyboard biz Logitech

Nigel 11
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Upgrade ...

What came with your computer may be OK or may be completely ghastly. If you want a good keyboard and mouse at a low price, I'd still recommend Logitech entry-level ones over all others I've tried. As for the expensive gadgets - whatever floats your boat, but I've never been able to view the extra bits as anything other than a nuisance.

The trouble for Logitech is that once you've got a mouse and keyboard you like, why buy another? The PC market is now mature and saturated. People don't replace kit until it's worn out. Logitech will still have a business, but it'll be shrinking not growing, and the competition (far-east no-name stuff) is raising its game.

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Black-eyed Pies reel from BeagleBoard's $45 Linux micro blow

Nigel 11
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Re: I'll see your ARM core and raise you a SATA port. ;-)

Is a HD in a USB caddy that slow?

No, but an SSD in a USB caddy is. Actually the extra power drain of a USB to SATA chip may be greater pain, if whatever you are doing is supposed to run off a battery. (In which context an SSD eats far less electricity than an HD).

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SanDisk '2-3 years' away from mass-producing 3D flash chips

Nigel 11
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Meh

Re: 3D semiconductors

Getting rid of the heat? Are SSDs anywhere close to overheating at present? A 256Gb SSD with a 2.5 inch drive footprint runs on about 0.5W and is scarcely warm to the touch. A smartphone CPU uses more watts in a footprint of a square centimeter.

The first step that they don't yet need to take would be passive heatsinks on the flash chips, like a low-end fanless GPU or top-speed RAM. Active cooling wouldn't be a problem for a datacentre solution - after all, the CPUs are all actively cooled.

Not to say that memristors won't wipe out flash in the longer term!

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Nigel 11
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Re: Flash gets worse

On the other hand, SLC with small cells is probably better on all fronts than MLC even with cells with twice the area. At present MLC and TLC exist because they can't yet make tiny cells right down at the noise threshold for single-bit reliability.

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Microsoft CFO quits as quarterly results fail to sparkle

Nigel 11
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FAIL

They have just under a year

... to realize that a lot of businesses are still running XP and are quite happy with it. When they kill XP, they imagine all those businesses will upgrade to Windows 8. HA bloody HA!

Ok, there's Windows 7, which is perhaps less painful. Even so, lack of drivers will obsolete a lot of hardware, and lack of RAM will obsolete a lot of PCs. And there's no real upgrade path. MS say you should upgrade to Vista and then from Vista to Windows 7. Sorry I feel another attack of graveside laughter coming on. Even if it worked, how many extra man-hours will that consume?

Given the requirement to tear it all up and start again, how many will stick with Microsoft, and how many will go to Apple? Some may even find time for Linux. Those that do stick with Microsoft are unlikely to bear any goodwill for Microsoft in the future. Sooner or later someone will ship a Linux derivative for business use (just as Google shipped a Linux derivative for handset and tablet use: Android).

So what they have to do now is simple. Announce that XP will continue to be supported until an idiot-proof upgrade to Windows 7 is developed. And annnounce that you'll never have to learn a new interface because the Windows 7 one will be maintained in perpetuity (ie Windows 8, Windows 9 will have a "Windows 7 style" option). Ditto Office.

Oh, and to make money stop selling perpetual Windows licenses. That way you won't have to keep shredding old Windows in order to force customers to use New Windows. You'll just charge them renewal fees for continued support of what they want. Of course, it would help if your customers trusted you more than they trust a low-end used-car salesman. Sacking the CEO might be a good start, followed by a new CEO eating humble pie.

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Malwarebytes declares Windows 'malicious', nukes 1,000s of PCs

Nigel 11
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Unhappy

Need for speed

In partial and general defense of Anti-malware and Anti-virus software, it absolutely has to be released rapidly. This is at odds with the need to do comprehensive testing before release.

No excuse if it breaks ALL Windows installs, but I can imagine cases where it passes all the vendor's tests and then screws up a small fraction of configurations that weren't covered by the quick-release tests.

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Bitcoins: A GIANT BUBBLE? Maybe, but currency could still be worthwhile

Nigel 11
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Mushroom

Re: A finite calculable resource [like] gold/precious metals -- NOT

One unarguable difference - gold will survive something which returns civilisation to a pre-1950s level. Of course, its owner might not. Quite probably wouldn't.

Icon may represent a Carrington event, as well as the obvious

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Space elevators, vacuum chutes: What next for big rocket tech?

Nigel 11
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Zero velocity?

You misunderstand. It's got as much kinetic energy as you can pour into it via the maglev. A U-shaped track is a plausible maximum-length realization in a mountainous region.

There's no particular reason you shouldn't start at the bottom of a mountain and accelerate it to the top, but that would be a shorter run so you'd subject the crew to a higher G force for any particular "launch" velocity. A long horizontal run to get up speed before deviating uphill is also possible, if you can find a mountain that rises from a plain without any foothills. Whichever, you certainly want as much atmosphere as possible below you before "launch", in other words end the track at the top of a high mountain, and for other hopefully obvious reasons a mountain close to the equator.

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Nigel 11
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IT Angle

"When worlds collide"

Cine SF afficioadoes will have seen this film, in which mankind escapes from a doomed Earth in a spacecraft which is launched along a track from a mountain peak, down into a valley, and then up the other side.

I've never found out why this idea is unfeasible. The problem with rockets is that you spend most of your fuel getting the rest of your fuel up to mere subsonic velocity. So why not use a maglev track (or even a giant train track) to electrically accelerate your rocket up to maybe 600mph, and only then fire the rocket? The aerodynamics of a supersonic maglev launcher would be far harder, but physically there's no reason why your assist has to stop at subsonic speed. (Might be safer to accelerate only after the liquid-fuel rocket was burning. Throttle up from minimum to maximum after it leaves the track).

Launching from underneath a carrier aircraft is somewhat equivalent, but is limited to the payload that can be lifted by an aircraft. (There's a limit, to do with the bending strength of wings). A track launcher could handle much heavier payloads.

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Nigel 11
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One idea missed

That's the satellite with giant rotating arms which scoops a balloon out of the atmosphere and deposits it into space. Thanks to Charles Stross "Saturn's Children" for introducing me to this idea. It's probably even more hairy than a space elevator as an engineering project, but doesn't require quite such strong materials.

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Intel demos inexpensive 100Gb/sec silicon photonics chip

Nigel 11
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So it boils down to "Got Memory?"

Cue another mention of memristors?

Just when software is getting a bit stale, the world of hardware is starting to get very interesting all over again.

Should I be buying HP and Intel stock?

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'North Korea Has Launched a Missile' tweet sent by mistake

Nigel 11
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Re: Well that couldn't have gone wrong anyway...

In an alternative universe WW3 has just ended and WW4 is about to start. You know, the one that will be fought with stones and other bits of rubble.

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Want to know if that hottie has HIV? Put their blood in the DVD player

Nigel 11
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Re: Shatter!

Seriously, if you've ever wondered why the fastest CD rate is 56x, this is why. Early in the development of computer CD drives, they marketed a 64x drive and maybe even a 72x drive. I was once sprayed with plastic shrapnel by one of the 64x drives. The manufacturers soon worked out that 56x was the safety limit of what a CD can take.

Anyone know if anyone ever suffered actual injury and/or sued?

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Nigel 11
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Re: Lets see...The pregency stick came firts...

Home HIV test is already available! I vaguely remembered reading about it - Google found this http://www.hivhometests.co.uk/ and many other similar (including Wal-Mart in the USA!)

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Nigel 11
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Re: Clever

A cheap laser scanning microscope is a great idea. Couldn't it be marketed to schools? Or be used for quick analysis of lubricating oil samples? (the number and types of metal particles therein can give advance warning of bearing or gear failures).

I'm not so sure about the HIV testing. I thought that needed an antibody test? Counting the cells in a blood sample might tell you if someone is developing AIDS ... but that happens years after infection with the HIV virus, and the infection can be passed on during that time.

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Hey Intel, Microsoft: Share those profits with your PC pals, eh? - analyst

Nigel 11
Silver badge

Linux

Dell have tried a few times to sell PCs with Linux and the unwashed masses simply didn't care. I don't believe for a moment that it is the cost that is a problem, Apple are proof of that fact.

Dell didn't do it right. (IMO and in passing, Dell lost the plot even w.r.t. everyday Windows PCs. Their customer service went from one of the best to a candidate for the worst on the planet. I have no Idea if it has since recovered. Having jumped ship to a different supplier, there's never been any reason to look back! )

Anyway, if you are talking about selling Linux to the masses, Google did it right(ish). It's called Android. The masses don't care that it's forked from the one true Linux kernel tree. Nevertheless, it's a sort of Linux under the hood.

So far it's Apple iPhone / iPad that's the biggest loser, but I suspect Android may yet become a force to be reckoned with in the PC sector as well (ie where a big screen, keyboard and mouse are needed).

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