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.
2605 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009
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.
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?
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)
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).
... with 42 users.
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!
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?
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, 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!
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.
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.)
On the surface of a neutron star. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dragon%27s_Egg
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.
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.
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.
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, 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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Window pains, surely?
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.
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.
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. )
Might be Heard, not seen.
I believe that at Krakatoa, what happened wasn't much dependant on the lava type. The ocean got into a (half-?) empty magma reservoir, and the result was possibly the biggest steam explosion that humanity has ever seen. (Unless Santorini was bigger).
True, if it's the highly fluid lava they get on Hawaii, the chances of the ocean finding its way into a large empy magma chamber are lessened.
Katla also isn't particularly explosive. Just high enough in toxic fluorides to poison cattle in Ireland, and acid enough to cause severe respiratory distress in London. It also upsets the climate, though not as badly as Tambora did. EjaFyallawhatever was a small forewarning of what's long overdue from Katla.
Android IS Linux under its skin.
As for why Google might ever do "Desktop Android for Business" ... certainly not to give the penguin a helping hand. It would be because they thought businesses were looking for something that could replace MS Windows and MS Office, and they thought that they could make a profit out of supplying it. Odds: 3:1?
IBM is the other giant with the means to take on the MS desktop stranglehold. Whether they have a motivation is quite another matter. They don't sell desktop hardware (having sold the Thinkpad business to Lenovo). However, if the business really is like an elephant, they won't have forgotten being shafted by Microsoft over OS/2, and revenge is a dish best eaten cold .... Odds: 12:1?
I never had much joy with MS keyboards. They felt "wrong", and that's before they started going glitchy after a couple of years (non-entries and double-entries). Low-end Logitech keyboards, on the other hand, are the best you can buy for little money. I actually prefer the cheap ones to some of their expensive ones that I've tried, and they seem to last very well.
I agree, MS mice are as good as Logitech ones, and both beat the rest hands-down. The choice mostly boils down to whether you like your mice fat (MS) or thin (Logitech).
What I was thinking. HP Linux? Pity HP is a shadow of its former self.
Or maybe Google will see its way clear to do Android Desktop for businesses?
So, then you have a radioactive tank containing a tank crew knowing they have less than a month left to live. My comment about ultimate suicide warriors stands, except they are also well-armed and well-protected. Of course, I'm assuming that the opposition would be smart enough to realize that you have to keep your heavy armour dispersed, rather than all gathered together in a small area.
I think even Ghadaffi knew that. The problem is now solved with laser-guided conventional bombs, rather than nukes. Dunno what they can do to counter that. Better camouflage? Advance planning, plant lots of small forests so there's always tree cover handy? Hey, that's a good idea - make being "green" a military imperative!
Maybe they took the opportunity to test EMPs as well.
What was well-reported was the use of carbon monofilament wires to short-circuit electricity transmission lines. That was extremely effective. it's amazing how much electricity a carbon-fibre wire can pass before it gets hot enough to turn into CO2. The resulting spikes and surges on the electricity grid may well have been mistaken for EMP activity.
I have no idea what WW3 will be fought with, but I'm sure WW4 will be fought with stones.
I dunno. Did they say eject in one piece? You ever seen why they stopped making 72X CD drives and backed down to 56X ? I was once on the receiving end of a shower of sharp plastic shrapnel, and (not for the first time) was thankful that I wear spectacles.