2413 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009
Re: Dangerous or not (prediction)
Volcanoes are much easier to forecast than earthquakes, because they do give considerable advance warning. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prediction_of_volcanic_activity. Predicting how bad it'll be this time after it starts errupting is harder, but anyone sensible will give themselves a large safety margin rather than waiting around nearby to find out!
The trouble with an earthquake is that very often, the big shock arrives "out of the blue". Everyone knows it'll happen somewhere on a known fault line some time in the next fifty or five hundred years, but nobody knows how to predict it a week or a month ahead with sufficient reliability to request an evacuation.
A space-saving solution
What saves a huge amount of space is an extension strip with 6, 8 or more parallel IEC sockets rather than UK 13-amp sockets. IEC plug-socket cables are easily sourced and inexpensive. What' s infuriating is that two 4-way 13-A plug strips cost about £5, and an 8-way IEC strip with no flex (just an IEC plug) costs about £80. The components it's made from (8 IEC sockets, one IEC plug, a foot or two of wire and a plastic box) surely cost less than a tenth of that ... you can look them up in an electronics catalogue, apart from the plastic box.
Typically you'll find fancier metal-case versions of these strips fitted in 19 inch server racks (and the prices for these are even fancier! )
Re: No fair
Yes, I know that sort of expensive idiocy. It's a 13 amp socket (dammit), and you put a lower rated fuse in the PLUG if that's appropriate for the appliance at the other end. You can buy the special 5 amp fuses that go in those socket strips from electronics suppliers. I bought 100 of them, and have added fixing stupid electricity sockets to fixing IT equipment. What really annoys me is why they felt the need to fuse every outlet. The laws of physics say one can chain as many UK 13A extension blocks as one wants to. The 13 amp fuse on the first one will blow (and disconnect the whole chain) if the total current drain of all appliances connected to the string exceeds the 13 Amps at which all such blocks are rated. Not much risk of that with IT stuff. OTOH there are some laser printers that can take out a 5 amp fuse, since they take >5A for a few seconds while heating up from cold.
And if there were no 13 amp fuse, four times five amps is 20 amps, which is an overload condition for a 13 amp plug!
Re: We've all been there haven't we!
I'm afraid the best answer is to give the luser a USB memory stick and tell him to copy everything he needs to keep onto that, because the only way to cure a computer that badly infested with malware is to re-format the disk and start again(*). If s/he demurs, refer him to the shop s/he bought the thing from or to the manufacturer's warranty page. After a few round trips, s/he will beg you to wipe it!
(*) Only a slight lie ... it's certainly the best, the most reliable, and the fastest. Apart from a big hammer or creative use of an ITIL manual, that is.
Re: Something wrong here
My knowledge of cataract implants and how the eye works was out of date. Nothing Google / Wikipaedia couldn't fix. Yes, implants used to be rigid, which was less than ideal. Today, they are flexible. This seems pretty obvious - if one can make a biocompatible material with all the desirable physical properties of a natural eye lens, then one should. And today, they do. So, something slightly fancy needed, and available.
re Varifocals. I tried. I walked around for a month feeling that I'd wandered into a nightmare with invisible horrors haunting my peripheral vision. (I exaggerate slightly, but I did keep getting startled by nothings). I didn't get used to it, so I threw the expensive experiment away. Apparently I'm more conscious of my peripheral vision than most other people. I immensely dislike those trendy tiny-lens spectacles for the same reason, and wear the "classic aviator" sort.
Something wrong here
Applications of the new lens include lens implants for people with defective or diseased lens
We've had those for decades. Nothing fancy is needed to replace a diseased lens (typically a cataract), just a moulded acrylic lens implant with the same optical parameters as the natural lens. Nature focusses the eye with muscles around the eye stretching or squeezing the eyeball, thereby moving the lens in or out a bit.
Someone I know with such an implant swears that it's better than what nature gave him in the first place, so it seems unlikely to me that any further improvement is either necessary or possible.
Before implants, they just removed the clouded natural lens and gave the patient cataract spectacles, which he could focus by moving them to and fro along his nose.
Re: Couldn't they just put it on the 5th floor?
My thought also. Or choose a location reasonably uphill of sea level and any nearby rivers.
Not quite as remote, but Iain M Banks' "Against a Dark Background" is set (to very good effect) on a solar system that's been ejected from its galaxy.
It's just a matter of definitions. It might avoid a lot of arguments if it were done by mass, with a planet being a body more massive than an asteroid and less massive than a brown dwarf star, and with precise numbers setting the boundaries.
Note, any object gravitationally bound to our galaxy is orbiting at least one star. If it's wandering in interstellar space, it may be orbiting many tens or even hundreds of millions of them.
Re: Very strange stuff
There's also a grey zone between a wandering gas giant planet and a brown dwarf star. Jupiter emits more energy than it receives from Sol, because something (probably a very small amount of hydrogen fusion) is going on in its core.
"Torn loose by gravitational interactions" implies some sort of catastrophic interaction such as another star passing close to a solar system. That's not necessary. Any solar system with more than two bodies is stable only in a statistical sense. A 3,4, ... N body gravitationally bound system is chaotic, and it is always possible that what appears to be a stable orbit will in fact end up with one of the planets ceasing to be gravitationally bound to its sun.
You'll be unsurprised to know that the future of the solar system has been carefully modelled. Earth is safe for the next 200M years or so. Beyond that, we can't say. The observations aren't good enough to distinguish longer-term stability from its opposite. Such is the nature of a chaotic system. An unmeasurably small difference today may be the difference between earth remaining in orbit or not, 300M years hence. "Past performance may not be a reliable guide to future performance"!
Back to mini brown dwarfs or large wandering planets, it's possible that these might be the last habitable places after all the universe's stars have burned themselves out. Has anyone ever written a far-future SF story set on or within one?
Re: Perhaps we need a "Jobsian" second coming of Gates?
How could anyone at Microsoft take a look at Windows ME and say that it was OK and ready to be shipped? Going back a bit ... but Bates was in charge back then.
No, MS needs a completely new board, followed by a lot of sacking of people at or near the top. That's if it's possible to rescue the company at all. The rot may be too deep by now.
Yellow, with purple text
Black, with black text
Black, with smoke (permanent)
Re: you seee
Bringing NOTRO and Windows 7 UIs together would have been very easy. A start menu item "switch to NOTRO mode" and a tile in that mode "Switch to Windows 7 mode". Maybe they could still do that, depending on how badly they've smashed up the underlying code.
I'd have expected desktop NOTRO to have attracted less than 1% of desktop users, and could have been unceremoniously dumped from Windows 9. Unfortunately, certain people's egos were too big to allow a billion users to choose for themselves ... and now the recriminations have started. Good luck, chaps, you'll need it.
I'd say Microsoft has about two years to return to the Windows 7 interface on the desktop and send NOTRO to Vista-land. If they haven't fixed it by then, MS is doomed. (Might last another decade, but still doomed).
Re: Microsoft Bob Cloud Enterprise 1.0 (Professional)
... with 42 users.
Re: Simpler soloution
Just a mixture?
Not exactly. You can't completely separate Ethanol from Water by distillation or other physical means. Distillation gets you to "cask strength" (from memory, about 58% Ethanol). To get beyond that to 100% Ethanol you have to resort to chemical means. Be warned, 100% Ethanol is very highly toxic. Very much more so than twice the amount of cask strength spirit. It also tends to contain benzene (carcinogen) as an impurity.
At least that's only one person's germs. The buttons in the lift, that's everyone's, refreshed daily.
Train yourself to press lift buttons with your knuckle. Seriously!
Getting sugar out
Sugar isn't a problem if you're willing to take the slow route. Remove batteries (if any) and imerse in water. Leave several hours. Rinse. Repeat. Towel dry. Leave in airing cupboard for several days.
Cola, though ... kiss of death. Doesn't that make you wonder what it does to *your* innards?
Re: Simple solution
Another simple solution: cheap Logitech keyboards.
They're actually rather good. They'll put up with quite a bit of abuse. They're cheap enough so that when a luser tips a can of cola into his, you just put it in the nearest bin and give him another used one.
(Not a new one. That would boost sales of cola! )
But they aren't shiny and they don't have keys that well-known patented shape.
What they are thinking?
What they are thinking, is how can we make sure that it craps out as soon as possible after the warranty expires? Or even better, during the warranty, but in such a way that it's obviously the luser's fault and so not covered by warranty. And of course, it helps enormously if it can't be replaced except by buying it from us, with a mark-up of 400% on monopoly spare parts.
This is what you pay for "cool".
Where I work, we refuse to buy any PC that isn't constructed entirely from components that we can go out and buy for ourselves in a competitive market. mATX or ATX motherboards and cases. Standard PSUs. Quite apart from meaning I can almost always fix a broken PC in-house in minutes and within hours, it's also a legal way to keep the door firmly closed on Dell crap and HP crap.
Apple, though ... sigh. They've installed a virus in the lusers' brains. No other possible explanation. Shiny! Must be shiny! And rectangular with rounded corners!
One size fits all?
Never was a good idea, but it never stopped them. They tried to make pi 3-sized, once. Next, they'll decide that since the average size bust is a C cup, all other sizes of brassiere are banned.
The first one broke
Unfortunately in the real world, if they can't use "123456" or something short and crude, they write it down on a post-it pad and attach it to their monitor.
There's no reason you can't have liquid water in a high-G or high-pressure environment. It doesn't squash into a solid phase at all easily. Indeed, for everyday ice rather than one of the other high-pressure forms, squashing it converts ice to water rather than vice versa).
It's even possible to concieve of liquid planets - ones made of H2O all the way through. (At high pressure just about anything has high solubility in water, so that's where any small rocky or iron core would disappear to).
Maybe even a beer planet? (Microbial life in liquid suspension? Check. Excreting ethyl alcohol? Check.)
SF life in a REALLY high-G environment
On the surface of a neutron star. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dragon%27s_Egg
Re: Wrong end
We need to suss out what makes us what we are, and implant that in a body that has fewer stringent requirements for survival and doesn't age, something that can use anything as fuel, has a long sleep/hibernation mode.
Silicon chips optimised for energy efficiency, clocked very slowly during the long boring bit in interstellar space? Can't beat the speed of light, but can crank up subjective speed by any desired factor just as long as the hardware in the real world lasts the voyage.
Uploading a human being into a virtual reality is the hard part of the problem we haven't addressed yet. Indeed, we don't yet know for sure whether consciousness is a wholly classical phenomenon. If it's quantum in nature, a personality (soul?) is not uploadable to any conventional computer, and is not uploadable at all without destruction of its original. This is where physics meets theology via IT.
Re: EE 'Doc' Smith? Larry Niven?
An elephant is about the largest land animal (mammoths and dinosaurs were somewhat bigger). But that's on Earth, at 1G.
Consider stumbling and falling. Impact kinetic energy after a fall of any stated distance at 2G is the same as that for a fall of twice the distance at 1G. For a human, a pratfall at 2G would be like falling over the edge of a drop of his own height at 1G. A twelve-foot fall won't always kill you, but it will sooner or later. Big terrestrial animals (horses or larger) often die if they fall while running, but 4-leg stability means such falls are rare enough for the species to survive. Surviving a broken leg is also difficult to impossible for a large animal, and at 2G the load on the legs is doubled for any particular body weight.
Now consider 5G rather than 2G. 5G means the impact from falling over is the same as falling five times your own height on Earth. And consider that with a multiplied G force, you'd have to react many times faster to correct a postural instability before it becomes uncorrectable and results in a fall.
The elephant in the room on a 2G planet will be at most the size of a small pony. Which is good, not least because the maximum possible unsupported roof span will be a lot smaller than on Earth.
Re: EE 'Doc' Smith? Larry Niven?
Same thing. OK, EE was before genetic engineering was on the horizon, so no new body plan. But if you were picking human colonists for a high-G world, you'd select the shortest and most heavily muscled humans you could find. I confidently predict that if the colony survived, the fifth-generation children would be shorter still, more heavily muscled, with denser bone structure, and bigger feet for stability. Think Hobbit weightlifters in this case.
Unless we ever manage to tune in to their TV broadcasts.
Re: EE 'Doc' Smith? Larry Niven?
The Valerian colonists were huge and powerful ...
Showing an inability to understand basic physics (and Darwinian evolution). The larger a structure, the less able it is to resist gravity. A flea can survive hundreds (thousands? ) of self-inflicted gravities every time it jumps. A mouse can fall off a cliff and run away at the bottom, unharmed. A human being over seven foot tall is freakish, and at a clear evolutionary disadvantage. (Much more likely to break bones when he falls over, for starters).
Inhabitants of high-G worlds will be small by Earth standards. Rugged and powerfully muscled for their size, certainly, but above all sufficiently small as to be able to resist gravity.
Also unlikely to be bipedal, unless their nerves and reactions are much faster than ours. The consequences of falling over in high-G are greater, and the time available to avoid doing so is much less. Think small thick-set centaurs or wallabies.
Out of interest ...
Out of interest, what is it in the Linux kernel that needs to be so different for an AMD CPU compared to an Intel CPU that a specialist team from the manufacturer is needed to help write it?
The data could be anonymized. Names, addresses, day of birth and second halves of postcodes blanked out. For doing genuine statistical research, this would matter not one iota.
If it's not anonymized, what we have is a catalogue for paedophiles to choose their victims from.
Re: Different corcumstances
A while ago when AMD was causing Intel serious pain, ISTR Intel sued AMD for various IP infringements. I don't recall the resolution. Did it fizzle or get settled out of court, once Intel competed its way beyond AMD in the server arena?
My theory is that Intel needs AMD, to avoid being treated in law as a monopoly, and to keep itself at the sharp edge. AMD is now weak, and maybe Intel is cutting it some considerable slack with respect to other possible lawsuits? Not least to make it undesirable as a takeover target?
I'm speculating. However, I really don't think Intel would like to see AMD either go bust or taken over.
Re: So the new paradign for successful project management is the same as motor racing.
If you want to win, hire a Finn.
Just remember to hde the booze.
Or relocate your Finn well South of the Arctic circle. (Which Linus has done for himself).
Re: using his product ...
He doesn't have the power Jobs had, either. If a majority of the Linux community felt that Linus was a hinderance rather than a help, there would be nothing to stop them breaking away.
There's a lesson there for the wider world. Dictators are bad because they can issue orders and punish those who disobey. A "benevolent dictator for life" in open-source software can only issue suggestions and justifications. Anyone and everyone is free to ignore him. In general they don't until the dictator ceases to be benevolent, because it's much harder going on the outside of the fold.
Open-source projects are probably the closest thing to a working system of anarchy that we'll ever see.
Surprised no real mention of platform-independent coding. I'd have thought Python, Qt or WxWidgets for GUI, other platform-independant libraries deserve a mention. Even Java, if Oracle don't (accidentally?) kill it by getting it banned from every business PC as a security nightmare.
Files of type .pdf cannot be printed
Some cruel joker once created a file printme.pdf.txt containing the above title as text and e-mailed it as an attachment to a particularly clueless person ....
Not all printer problems are printer problems. I'm stlll wondering why it is that we frequently have users complaining that they can't print random.pdf (created using Adobe software) from within Adobe Acrobat reader. The same files print without any problem using Foxit, Evince, or any other pdf-capable program that wasn't written by Adobe.
Re: I hate printer "User Interface Engineers"
If you feel you have to break a perfectly good GUI just to justify your existence then spend your time doing something really useful like jumping off tall buildings or shooting yourself in the head with a .44 magnum.
What, no flame icon?
ISTR that Linus thinks that people who fail as printer UI designers, write BIOSes.
Re: Speaking as a printer engineer....
I thought that species was extinct (or mutated into big photocopier/ printer/ stapler/ puncher/ folder/ scanner/ shredder/ firestarter/ Allin1-and-a-bit engineer).
It must mean that there are places which still have one huge expensive printer for an entire building, which sooner (or occasionally later) will be unfixably broken and in need of replacement costing a five-figure sum because the breakage was caused by a luser sticking part of his anatomy in a place it shouldn't have gone. (The more highly paid an employee, the bigger the luser -- just as per the story).
Think what replaced the dinosaurs. Proto-rats. Try lots of expendable printers. Not really cheap ones, their engineering is crap and the ink or toner is ultra-expensive. Really cheap printers are Xmas gifts for people you hate. But cheap enough that there's plenty of them on the network around the workplace, and no need for crisis management or expensive service contracts when one of them expires. Just heave it into the skip and buy another out of the toner and paper budget, when your friendly non-BOFH can't fix it by staring at its innards and employing a few more brain cells than the average luser.
Re: Just one little thing...
But to me it looks like it's Nationwide's top managers that are laughing all the way to the, er, bank.
Zopa is a great idea but you are playing on a field tilted against you. Put your money in a bank, and the government guarantees you'll get it all back, even if the UK economy tanks and many people that the bank has lent your money to default on their loans. Also the bank is too big to fail, so it makes reckless loans and drives loan rates down, knowing it cannot go bust. Bankers! Lend your money through Zopa, and you are on your own. Yes, you get more interest, but personally I don't believe you get enough to compensate for the risk to your capital, especially after it's taxed.
Silly question of the day: if the government takes 40% of your interest in tax, shouldn't it reimburse 40% of your losses if things later turn sour? :-(
Batch processing has considerable advantages. You have large-scale commit rather than small-scale commit. The batch is either processed in its entirety, or not at all. (Or at least, if it's being done right, that's how it should be).
That ought to make disaster-recovery easier, which is why the RBS fiasco was so shocking. Not only was there a loss of service for some considerable number of days, but it became clear there was also a loss of data integrity in the case of some customers' accounts.
Re: A: drive
Nicely ironic name if you ask me. It's about the same size as a floppy disk, but stores about six hundred thousand times more about ten thousand times faster. I can think of worse adverts.
Best of both worlds?
If you never use more than 32Gb this drive will behave like an SSD, because everything you store will be cached in the solid-state part. The difference is that you won't run out should you want to store more. The stuff that you store and subsequently don't refer to for a long time will "disappear" into the magnetic disk. The stuff that is active will be solid-state cached.
Should be the best of both worlds.
Especially if it can tolerate complete failure of the flash cache, and revert to being a magnetic-only disk. Anyone know? The failure mode of solid-state memory is reportedly often to stop working in a flash (sorry). Magnetic disks can also fail like that, but more often degrade progressively and gracefully giving plenty of time to copy your data elsewhere.
Re: Duplo is very much a trademark
Window pains, surely?
Re: So they will be paying you then?
Ever heard of the common good?
It might be a good idea for the mobile company to offer you a femtocell in exchange for a refundable deposit. On the other hand if it costs £50, I'd happily pay that for my convenience, and extend the convenience to anyone else with a phone in or very close to my premises. Administering a refundable £50 deposit might actually cost more.
Doing so for phone calls and texts has effectively zero cost. A phone call is 24 kbit/sec before compression, compared to 2 Mbit/sec on the poxiest of broadbands. A data throttle on "my" cell would be appreciated, so my internet doesn't get flooded by people downloading movies to their smartphones.
Re: Get one at home?
Actually the fact that you are registering the phones does create some degree of legal liability for you, if only for the act of registering them.
If the box just DHCP'ed, connected back to the mobile operator via a preconfigured encrypted VPN, and then accepted any phone in range, then you'd be acting as a carrier (for encrypted traffic that you can't even read) and all liability would be back with the mobile operator who could remote-control "your" (their!) femtocell.
I don't know if one can get a plug-in-and-forget box such as I've described above. I can think of a few basements where a cheap box of this nature would be very welcome!
Early computers tended to work in decimal (or rather, BCD). It was often more efficient o make hardware that crunched pseudo-decimal than to convert long strings of 32 or more bits into decimal digits after the computations were done.
Re: "...it's in the middle of nowhere"
I thought that the official middle of nowhere was more or less the corresponding location in the South Pacific, marked by a lack of islands and any other reason to be there. It's also not even on the way to anywhere much.
Rumour has it that the middle of nowhere is the default target for the major nuclear powers' missiles, so that should one ever get armed and launched by mistake, as little harm as possible is done. (Unless you are a blue whale, of course. )
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