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* Posts by Nigel 11

2344 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

Middle England's allotments become metric battlefield

Nigel 11
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Re: Area?

The Barn is already taken as a unit. It is indeed a measure of area, but one so small that it's really of use only to atomic physicists. For agriculture, even a Yottabarn would be too small a unit. Oh, and it's metric.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barn_%28unit%29

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Nigel 11
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Re: When Did We Go Metric?

how come our currency isn't called the British 0.453592 Kilogram now?

Because of inflation.

You did know that a pound sterling orginally referred to a pound of sterling silver? (And that Europe, including the UK, had a single pan-national currency based on fractions of a pound sterling back in the middle ages. Florins, Francs, Marks, S[c]hillings, Crowns and Thaler (hence dollar) were all originally sub-multiples of a pound of sterling silver, and circulated across borders).

These days a (troy) ounce of silver costs around US$ 20. I'll leave working out how many grams per UK currency unit as an exercise for the reader, but it's a heck of a lot less than 453.

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Nigel 11
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Enter the metric pole?

The timber industry works in "metric feet" i.e. units of 30cm.

There's clearly a "metric pole" waiting to be invented, namely 5m. The ~1% difference between a square pole and 25 square meters is surely too small for anyone involved in small-plot agriculture to notice. in any case there's no way to change the allotment boundaries for existing allotments in order sto squeeze in one extra one at the nd of a row of 100. (Are there ever as many as 100 in a row? )

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This changes everything: Microsoft slips WinXP holdouts $100 to buy new Windows 8 PCs

Nigel 11
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Re: Too little, too late.

Try using a 13 year old install of XP on a 13 year old PC and you'll find that it doesn't work...very well at all.

Don't know about 13-year old, but 7-year-old is fine. Just as long as it has enough RAM for modern XP (1Gb minimum, 1.5Gb better).

Insert XP with SP3 DVD, install

Crank up Windows Update, install updates, reboot, install more updates, iterate several times until up to date. Tedious, slow, bandwidth-consuming, but it works. If you have a volume license for Office you might also install that, upgrade to Microsoft Update, go around the updating loop a few more times. And install MS Security Essentials if you don't have any other AV to install.

Once you have an up-to-date virgin XP install the smart thing to do is to sysprep it. Then boot a stand-alone Linux disk such as SystemRescueCD, re-size the boot partition as small as reasonably possible, and generate an image of the used part of the disk. (Alternatively you could use one of the paid-for snake-oil imaging tools for folks who don't understand the previous sentence).

Make sure you can restore and boot your image onto another PC with a blank disk.

And now you'll be able to install up-to-final-date XP onto 7-year-old or maybe 13-year-old PCs in half an hour, for the forseeable future ....

Until Microsoft shuts down their XP activation servers ....

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Bono bests Bezos in Fortune's 'World's 50 Greatest Leaders' list

Nigel 11
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Re: World?

Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un are bad and worst leaders. The jury is out on Xi Jinping. The recent leadership of China has accomplished some remarkable things. Heretical thought: would today's average Chinese really have been better-off if the country had become a Western democracy when Mao died?

Ancient Chinese wisdom:

“The best leaders are those the people hardly know exist. The next best is a leader who is loved and praised. Next comes the one who is feared. The worst one is the leader that is despised.

"If you don't trust the people, they will become untrustworthy.

"The best leaders value their words, and use them sparingly. When she has accomplished her task, the people say, "Amazing: we did it, all by ourselves!"

Lao Tzu, and as true today as in the 6th century BC. I'll leave it to fellow commentards to assess whether any of Fortune's list are those rare grade 1 leaders.

Does anyone know if "she" in the last paragraph of the quote is a modern translator's gimmick, or the most accurate translation? Or is Chinese personal pronoun ungendered "she/he"? Both seem unlikely given more recent Chinese society, but it was written ~2500 years ago.

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Nigel 11
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Re: Elon Musk would be my vote

Solar power is 100% efficient by any sensible definition. It is capturing energy for useful purposes, before returning it to outer space as low-grade heat. The earth's surface does exactly the same just by being there, but without the useful purposes stuff in the middle.

Conversion efficiency means that a 15% efficient solar panel is 85% no better or worse than a rock, and 15% useful. That's infinitely (divide-by-zero-error) better than plain rock, at least with respect to generating electricity.

The Earth's current total electricty usage could be met by current technology solar panels covering just 1% of the Sahara desert. To those saying that's a very large area, it's about the same area as the part of the planet covered by roofs. Average life-expectancy of a roof? Maybe 50 years. So given solar panelling at the same price as roofing materials, humanity could do it in fifty years.

In sunny parts of the world, solar roofs are surely the way to go!

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5 Eyes in the Sky: The TRUTH about Flight MH370 and SPOOKSATS

Nigel 11
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The human brain evolved to pattern match, and the cost of a false positive was usually far less than the cost of missing a match. The latter tended to involve being eaten shortly afterwards, thereby removing the less hair-triggered pattern matchers from the gene pool.

So we all spot patterns in random noise. Especially faces and straight lines. Get tired enough, drink enough coffee so you are still awake, and you'll end up hallucinating in a small way. For me it was small creatures running around in my peripheral vision, that weren't really there. (The programming part of my brain was still perfectly "in the flow". Odd things, brains. )

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Nigel 11
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Re: diNgo

They probably thought of DINGO, and decided that something that bites and occasionally eats babies wasn't the best of names for it.

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Nigel 11
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Re: Not surprised, but still skeptical

The problem is that of a needle in a haystack. Mostly, spysats are used to look for stationary things that have a fairly guessable appearance and location. Undefined drifting wreckage in millions of square miles of ocean isn't what it was intended for. A lot of eyeballs (crowd-sourced searching) might help, but that gives away the clasified capability of the system.

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Nigel 11
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Re: Resolution

Presumably the authorities realized that the high-res images were of more use to terrorists, jailbreakers and plain old burglars, than to the rest of us?

They're still good enough for me to work out the final stages of driving to a rural location where the postcode is several miles wide. (Fifth house on the left, about two miles from the right turn ... it worked first time).

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Nigel 11
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For over a year attempts were made to find it, in vain.

Because it had already sunk? Sometimes there IS a simple explanation. (No-one is going to bother looking for a wrecked ship under a mile of water - it it had still been afloat, it was just about worth salvaging. )

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Nigel 11
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Re: Last weeks images.

Reported on BBC, the "door" was actually a cable reel.

I think this article makes it clear, the images that are being released are not the best images available. They're just the completely unclassified reduced-resolution versions. To my mind there's nothing sinister if a government with spy-sats says "we think you should be looking at (coords), but we can't tell you why". (Ditto if it's got passive sonar arrays for detecting submarines, and they picked up the sound of a big impact, or a military radar system that works better / worse / differently to how other players think it does ).

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Nigel 11
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Re: Hindsight?

Er ... how could even a successful shoe bomber account for the plane crashing in the South Indian Ocean, when it should have been headed in the direction of Beijing?

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Microsoft exec: I don't know HOW our market share sunk

Nigel 11
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Re: innovation

Innovation in a GUI needs to be done by slow and careful incremental improvement. New features should be inserted somewhere that they won't cause a user any difficulty until he is ready to try them out. Menus (be they start, right-click, or hover) are a good way to accomplish this. Magic pixels that dump you into something you've never seen before when you get your mouse near to them, are a very bad way.

If the GUI won't work on some other class of device, you need a new GUI for that class of device. Or you can implement a mode-switcher, provided it's hard to get into if you don't know what you are doing, and easy to escape from if you blunder in to its first stage without knowing what it is.

An example that's only tangentially Microsoft. I was recently called in to look at two "broken" laptops where the mouse-pad had stopped working. It took a while to discover that Alt-F-something disabled the mousepad PERMANENTLY in one easy mis-type. Not even re-booting could "fix" it (not that it's easy to log in without a mouse), and you needed that one magic keystroke again to get it back. Idiots (no, not the users, Toshiba! ) The users were seriously contemplating scrapping and replacing them. If this had happened Toshiba would have lost a lot of custom because of "crap mousepads" -- maybe elsewhere, they have.

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Nigel 11
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Re: What language is this?

High-risk route up the greasy pole. Say what you are going to do in clear and plain language. Get some of the credit if it all works out. Get all of the blame, and then some, if it doesn't.

Low-risk route. Talk plausible-sounding gibberish that's as content-free as possible. Claim credit if something good later happens. Deny all responsibility if something bad subsequently happens. No-one will be able to gainsay you.

I can't bullshit. That's probably why I'm a programmer not a CEO.

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Microsoft alters Hotmail policy amid blogger inbox probe outcry

Nigel 11
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How much more snooping

How much more snooping will it take, before the world moves en masse to PGP or other securely encrypted e-mail?

At present, assume that your e-mail is going to be read by everyone with more than a casual interest in what you are saying. That way you won't be surprised when it is.

The snoops will overreach and kill their golden goose one day. I'm surprised it isn't today.

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Intel details four new 'enthusiast' processors for Haswell, Broadwell

Nigel 11
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Re: Sweet stuff

My guess is that the main market for mid-range ships is office-secretary grade systems where the merely adequate graphics is, well, adequate. Decreasing the wattage is the preferred design trade-off over increasing the graphics capability.

There's still plenty of mileage in adding a fairly inexpensive ATI or NVidia graphics card, if you don't need a faster CPU but do want faster graphics. Or get a system with an AMD CPU - inferior CPU but better (ATI) on-chip graphics. We have folks with boring desktop systems plus beefy NVidia cards, that actually use CUDA to good effect (molecular modelling results displaying).

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Nigel 11
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Re: Secret thermocouple compound

At the low wattage end, re-implementing any current design at 14nm will reduce the power it consumes very considerably. So we can assume that if the market exists, they'll make it.

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Nigel 11
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Re: Worrisome...

Intel has the best process technology bar none. 14nm CPUs is quite astonishing.

Intel made a big mistake with the Pentium 4 because they thought that dumb would be good enough when they got the clock up to tens of GHz. They found out that clocking Silicon much above 4GHz wasn't do-able, and AMD almost gained the lead by doing a much smarter CPU design (ie, using the available transistor count to accomplish more useful work) despite having to implement it with an inferior process technology.

Intel resurrected the Pentium 3 and worked on it. They got back level with AMD, then overhauled them and stayed there. AMD doesn't appear to know how to do smarter squared (nor does anyone else). It may be a software problem, not hardware: how to automate code generation for very many cored CPUs. Which ARM could make tomorrow, but they presumably know that 128 one-watt cores on one chip wouldn't sell. Heck, NVidia make them, but GPGPUs running CUDA code just point at the problems in using that approach more generally.

My theory is that Intel could put AMD out of business but never will, because it needs to point at AMD to justify not being treated as a monopoly (and maybe to stop itself behaving too much like one!). If the only place to buy high-power workstation and server chips was Intel, they'd end up being regulated as a monopoly, and then innovation at Intel would cease.

Maybe one day ARM will be competitive outside the mobile and low-power arena. Time will tell. Until then, Intel is top dog.

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BOFH: On the PFY's Scottish estate, no one can hear you scream...

Nigel 11
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Not running out of oil

We won't run out of oil, we'll jut run out of oil that's cheap enough to burn as fuel or to throw away as low-value packaging. There are huge numbers of oil finds that flowed a little oil and were then plugged and abandoned as hopelessly sub-economic. To get oil for use as a high-value petrochemicals feedstock, the day may come when it's worth re-opening those wells to extract said feedstock at $1000/barrel, $10,000/barrel or whatever.

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Micron embiggens personal SSD for storage-hungry public

Nigel 11
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The problem isn't how full it is. The problem will be if it wears out faster because it has less spare blocks available. It's users with write-mostly usage patterns who'll hit the proble first, if problem there is.

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Crap flap-app flap chap yaps: Yes, FLAPPY BIRD is comin' back

Nigel 11
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Coat

I was hoping for a game in which you play the part of a Pigeon navigating above and around the streets of London.

Crappy Bird?

GD&R clutching coat.

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GIANT FLESH-EATING DEVIL CHICKENS roamed North Dakota

Nigel 11
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Casawary not chicken?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nOPVVdg8noc

A smaller relative that didn't go extinct? Still has feet designed for disembowelling.

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Monkey steals iPod touch, loses interest in minutes

Nigel 11
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Next time....

Give him a tablet running Winows 8 and see if it's more or less desirable to a monkey.

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MH370 airliner MYSTERY: The El Reg Pub/Dinner-party Guide

Nigel 11
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Re: Hijacking foiled scenario?

And tech-savvy terrorist forgets how to read a compass....

So by process of elimination, one or terrorism's dimmer light bulbs? There was a bunch who hijacked an airliner and wouldn't believe the pilot that it didn't have the range to go where they wanted, until it ran out of fuel. (And ditched near a holiday resort island, with quite a few survivors).

A pilot who knew he was going to die and it was just a matter of saving people on the ground, might even cut power to the cabin pressurisation systems and reprogram the autopilot to take the plane out into the ocean after everybody had gone to sleep.

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Nigel 11
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Re: There's a lot more that can be said...

a) put it in a row of many similar other airliners

b) crash it into dense jungle or deep snow

c) land it carefully on a deep part of the sea so that it does not break up, and let it sink intact.

d) Put it in a (big) hangar

Are there any abandoned USSR airstrips in Khazakstan or thereabouts, with bomber hangars still roofed? (Or nuke-proof hardened aircraft shelters, probably good against weathering for longer than the Pyramids) Have all such airfields been checked on the ground by now? (How cooperative are the Stans? )

Still not my favorite theory. Flying Southwest (on auto-pilot? not?) until the fuel ran out is the most mundane way to disappear. It's a long way from land, always very rough ocean, and off almost all shipping lanes. How / why? We may never know.

e) Cut it up and put the bits in (a) scrap-metal compactor(s). I can't conceive of a reason, but if you had the manpower and plant normally used for demolishing buildings and crushing cars, I imagine it could be unrecognisable within a few hours and gone after a few more hours. One for the conspiracy theorists, I think.

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Nigel 11
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Cellphones

I'm certain there's no cellphone coverage over the Southern Indian Ocean.

You're probably right about Tibet and the Stans, though cellphone coverage is probably a lot less dense than over North America.

I fear that for whatever unknown reason, this plane flew South-West on auto-pilot until its fuel ran out.

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Nigel 11
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Re: Spy satellite?

Another good reason is that there may be nothing left to see from above, even a few hours later.

Break-up in the air and the pieces falling onto a jungle would look much the same before and after, especially if there was no fire on the ground. Even if it did make a hole in a jungle, how many big jungle trees succumb to rot and fall over every day? How many big trees are (mostly illegally) felled for their timber? How many small clearings are made by primitive farmers (slash and burn agriculture)?

The sea will also look much the same, apart from some floating seat cushions. AFAIK a one-foot square is about a spy-sat's resolution limit, and the sea is full of transient white patches (breaking waves).

And then there's cloud cover. Some parts of the world you have to wait weeks for blue sky. (London, from Xmas until recently, for one! )

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Nigel 11
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Plausible. I've seen an under-inflated nose wheel tyre suggested as a possible cause. Overheated during take-off, smouldered for ~80 minutes, then started burning with a vengeance giving off thick black toxic smoke at the front of the plane.

Could smoke be so thick that pilots could not see the instruments or anything outside the plane? They have Oxygen masks and smoke hoods, but no use if they are blinded.

Question for a pilot: can auto-pilots deal with a stall if the pilots don't supply any inputs?

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Nigel 11
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Risk analysis needed

It's a risk analysis problem. What is the risk from an ACARS system which cannot be shut down in flight, but which is protected by a fuse and circuit breakers so it shuts itself down if it draws excessive current or gets too hot? What is the risk from a malicious pilot? IMO the safest low-power electrical installations are probably much more reliable than human brains.

One thing to factor in is the much larger number of lives at risk on the ground from a suicide-pilot, compared to the fairly random crash location of a plane on fire that fails to reach an airport in time.

Oh, and instead of meaningless pings, have the antenna transmit the plane's GPS coordinates even when ACARS is shut down! How much extra bandwidth would mere GPS coords every half-hour actually cost? If this plane's black boxes are never found, this will be an accident or incident with unknown causes that may recur, so there is a strong interest in knowing where to look for a lost plane.

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Malaysia Airlines mystery: Click here for the TRUTH

Nigel 11
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Re: So what is going on?

Civilian "radar" relies a lot on transponders. What is its actual spatial resolution of genuine radar echoes?

As for the military, they won't say. However, I know that there has been a move from active radar to passive illumination, because anything that transmits continuously ends up blown to pieces by a homing missile soon after hostilities commence.

Scary question: if a civilian jet picked up another civilian jet flying dark a few hundred meters behind it in the middle of an ocean, would anyone notice until it was too late to intercept the suicide-piloted tail?

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Nigel 11
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Re: Phone signals

I was thinking about Scotland and Kazakhstan. I believe that there are large expanses of uninhabited Scottish highlands where you can't get a mobile signal (*). Same in Kazakhstan?

Don't forget a plane is a metal tube. It's not a perfect Faraday cage because of the windows, but they'll attenuate the phone signal considerably, and the windows point sideways not downwards.

BTW cruising altitude can be 40,000ft: that's 8 miles.Higher is possible though not used in normal civil aviation.

(*) I *know* there are small expanses of rural Dorset with the same problem.

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Nigel 11
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Re: So what is going on?

Would a 777 crashing into the sea make a noise that could be recorded by submarine listening arrays like SOSUS? If so would the owner of the array consider it to be revealing too much information about their capabilities to mention it?

A good question to which you won't get a reliable answer!

Possibly, the owner of the array will just happen to discover floating debris and won't let on how they just happedned to know where to discover it. Arranging the cover story will take some days.

It would have been a loud bang compared to, say, a submariner dropping a spanner. So maybe they can inform the world through confidential diplomatic channels that "we are 99% certain it did not crash into the Indian ocean. Search on land. No, I cannot say any more". That, without revealing too much about their actual capabilities.

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Nigel 11
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Re: Phone signals

I believe not, with the plane at cruising altitude. Not until the plane got down to (a guess) 10,000ft. Question: are there large tracts of central Asia with no cellphone infrastructure? Especially the same, with one or more abandoned Soviet airstrips and no mobile coverage?

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Nigel 11
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Re: hints

There are far more runways, if you want only to land or survivably crash-land, with no intention of taking off again.

This may be a theft or a theft-gone-wrong(*), rather than terrorism. Notably absent from the news reporting, any discussion of the cargo manifest or cargo screening. This may not be mere cluelessness.

(*) gone wrong: the passengers assumed terrorism, and the flight ended the same way as the fourth 9/11 jet. Or not gone wrong, just psycopathically ruthless thieves committing mass murder.

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Nigel 11
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Re: So what is going on?

"Why is there a need to have the functionality to allow an identification beacon on a civil aircraft be switched off in flight?"

Someone needs to urgently re-do the risk analysis here. Yes, there's a (tiny?) fire risk in having some active electronics on a plane that cannot be disabled by any volitional act in flight. Yes, it might catch fire. Most unlikely, if it's protected by an ordinary fuse inaccessible to the crew, that would shut it down if it drew excessive current.

But I think we can now see that there is a much greater risk to the safety of both passengers and the rest of us on the ground, in allowing it to be disabled. Potentially, there is now a 200-tonne suicide-piloted missile out there somewhere.

Edit @Vic

OK, accepted there are good reasons why the transponder needs to have an off switch. So apply my arguments to the data transmitter that the assumed hijackers failed to totally disable. Instead of meaningless pings, have it return (at minimum) Airframe number and GPS coords.

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They ACCUSED him of inventing Bitcoin. Now, Nakamoto hires lawyer to CLEAR his name

Nigel 11
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Get real

If he's really invented Bitcoin he'd be rich enough to buy a new identity, a private island, a Learjet, and wouldn't be working for a living (or trying to find work at an age when most of us would prefer to be retired)

He's also been made the target for a large group of idiots who have lost a lot of money, one or two of whom may be psychopathically vengeful.

Good luck to him with the lawsuit. I hope he doesn't just get the record put straight, but a large settlement. Unless, of course, Newsweek's story is true. (I doubt it. More likely, just make up the story about a small guy who can't defend himself. This smells just like the News of the World did, until it stank too much for even Murdoch to defend).

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Win XP holdouts storm eBay and licence brokers, hiss: Give us all your Windows 7

Nigel 11
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Re: Maybe I'm missing something here...

It's that people are used to a UI which, as far as they are concerned, defines Windows. Microsoft comes along and tears it up. Yes, it's possible to learn to use the new heap of shite. It may even be possible to become as fluent in it as one was in the old one, after spending many hours of one's life on it. But it's most unlikely that the hatred this incurs will ever blossom into love.

Not everyone learns the same way. I'm one of the 8-haters. XP was in my fingertips, and I just used it while thinking continuously about the real work. I (still) can't do that with 8. I still find the enforced mental context-switching stressful and damaging to my productivity (in a way that XP to Win 7 or Gnome-2 or even Cinnamon is not). I also dislike KDE and Gnome 3, but Linux gives ne freedon to choose so I'm happy that other people like the alternatives. On Windows, there's no fscking choice, just Microsoft shafting us.

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Nigel 11
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Re: It's not a "Windows 7 downgrade"

Many regard XP as the best, and Windows 7 as a small downgrade (compared to Windows 8 which is a large downgrade). This based on the UI experience.

If the hardware is old, then both 7 and 8 may take an elderly PC from usable to useless, in which case it's hard to argue that either represents an upgrade rather than a wrecking ball.

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Web inventor Berners-Lee: I so did NOT see this cat vid thing coming

Nigel 11
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Agreed on Facebonk and Twatter, but surely Stackoverflow is of some use? And Google?

Sometimes one deserves credit just for starting a ball rolling. And if you think "obvious" is obvious, find out about the Dot Conjecture. Proving it defeated all mathematicians who tried for many decades. Yet it has a proof that requires only schoolboy geometry, a proof which is "obvious" -- from the moment someone has shown it to you.

I don't think the WWW is anywhere near mature yet. It's an invention like Watt's steam engine. Could anyone have imagined (in 1780) everything that would be changed by or depend on that invention by 1880?

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Nigel 11
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Re: my useless contribution

The technological push/pull difference is absolutely no reason why one couldn't have sent e-mail to a mobile, even in the early 1990s. I'd send e-mail to (say) 08767654321@vodafone.com which would deliver it to a mailbox on a gateway computer at the mobile phone company. That system would periodically poll the mailboxes, check each mail therein for suitability for onward delivery to a mobile as text, and if suitable, push it to the phone using SMS. (For excessively large e-mails with attachments and suchlike, it could e-mail the sender with an explanation of the limits of what can be forwarded as SMS)

It's been done since, but it never caught on, and now smartphones do full-function e-mail.

The reverse (SMS to E-mail) would probably have required some extra hooks in the SMS protocol, but do you really think they'd have been impossible to implement? Anyway one-way e-mailing to text a phone would have been useful, just because it's easier to type on a computer keyboard than on a 0-9 keypad, and useful for many (even back then) for a computer to generate alert texts.

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Nigel 11
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Re: my useless contribution

In a similar vein, back when a mobile phone was housebrick-sized, I casually commented "Why can't we send e-mail to mobiles"?

A couple of years later, someone else invented Texting (and botched it by errecting a digital Berlin wall between the realms of text and e-mail). Sigh.

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Nigel 11
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Why cats?

Cats perform the same role for digital imagery, that "Lorem ipsum ..." does for Typography.

Nobody knows why (except, possibly, the cats ... and they aren't telling).

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BuzzGasm: 9 Incredible Things You Never Knew About PLIERS!

Nigel 11
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Re: Pliers, Wiring, No 2.

3) Any tool can be used as a hammer

aka a "Leyland hammer" from the same industry that gave us "Lucas, prince of darkness".

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Nigel 11
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Re: Mole grips

I had the reverse problem years ago when I thought "duck tape" was "duct tape" mis-typed. (Now, they sell Duck brand tape in the UK, and yes, duck tape works OK on ducts as well as a thousand other things)

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Nigel 11
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Re: Never 6ft away from pliers

Indeed. Spanners are wider at both ends than the middle, so one can tie a long string to them. Adjustable wrenches usually have a hole in the handle for the same purpose. But pliers ....

Why isn't the proverb "Pliers in the works" not "A spanner in the works"?

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Nigel 11
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Re: "epicaricacy"

So one can describe a person as epicaricacious ?

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Battery vendors push ultracapacitor wrappers to give Li-ions more bite

Nigel 11
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Re: Bah!

Dynamite is Nitroglycerine dispersed in clay. Pure nitroglycerine is dangerously touchy stuff - it will detonate in response to any slight impact. Cheap and easy to make, though. You can hit dynamite with a hammer and it won't explode.

TNT is used for filling bombs and HE shells. It's stable until subjected to a shockwave from a detonator (though it decomposes and becomes less safe after many years' ageing). Trivia question: what commonly-used substance was invented by terrorists for terrorist purposes? Answer: ANFO, ad-hoc explosive made by mixing Ammonium Nitrate and Fuel Oil. It's now widely used by the mining industry. Drill holes, fill with fertilizer, then add fuel oil, finally detonators. Much cheaper than "real" explosives and safe enough for in-situ preparation.

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Nigel 11
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Re: A level physics confusion?

Always some losses: yes. Not always 50% though, that's for charging through a resistor from zero volts and discharging back to zero. With a battery in parallel with a capacitor the voltage difference between the battery and the capacitor will remain small at all times (short of a gross overload, which is likely to start a fire unless of extremely short duration).

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Nigel 11
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Nothing yet known to man has that capacity!

Er ... no? You can go out and buy an ultracapacitor module that'll store a megajoule. That's a million watt-seconds, or 100kW for ten seconds. 100kW is comparable to a decent car engine at full throttle, so that's ten seconds of doubled power output. What does nitro do for that engine? I'm no expert, but I'd guess twice the power, and more than a ten-second boost is likely to damage something.

The ultracapacitor may not be a practical system, but very far from impossible.

BTW what is the technology behind KERS on F1 cars?

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