* Posts by Nigel 11

2567 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

E-cigarettes help you quit – but may not keep you alive

Nigel 11
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Re: 'vaping' == drug paraphernalia

It's beginning to be said that nicotine is more or less equivalent to caffeine, it's a mild stimulant which in itself does no real harm.

Which can't be held as proved until a lot more research is done. For starters, what's the ratio between the effective pleasurable dose and the LD50 for Caffeine and Nicotine? Then, what are the long-term effects?

Smokers have elevated rates of cancer and heart disease. The tar explains the cancer. Does it also explain the heart disease? If not, what does?

Despite my skepticism, I'm all in favour of vaping, since it appears to allow a majority of smokers to break their addiction, and many of the rest to substitute a seriously harmul product by a far less harmful one. Just saying "safe" is overstating the case.

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Microsoft walks into a bar. China screams: 'Eww is that Windows 8? GET OUT OF HERE'

Nigel 11
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I'm still hoping that "Elephants never forget", and that IBM is going to take its revenge on Microsoft at some future date. Possibly if/when Microsoft announces EOL on Windows 7 with no business-appropriate replacement in sight.

I'm told IBM uses Linux on a large scale internally, including on desktops.

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Nigel 11
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Linux

Linux alternative?

China may not have many alternatives to Microsoft, though, given that the country's homegrown OS "Red Flag Linux" apparently shut its doors and fired all staff in February.

the question there should be "what did Red Flag Linux offer, that the commonly used Linux distributions do not?" The common distros all come with Chinese Language support. Not being Chinese, I cannot comment on how good or otherwise that might be. But maybe they simply felt there was nothing that Red Flag Linux offered, that Ubuntu or Fedora or Centos could not also offer. They can read all the source code. They can modify or add packages to their own requirements. Linux isn't all-or-nothing in the way that Windows is.

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BEAM ME UP SCOTTY: Boffins to turn PURE LIGHT into MATTER

Nigel 11
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Re: Gooooooowld

A gold+research lab story.

Some years ago, I heard a story about how a company resolutely insisted on wasting the not insignificant cost of about three ounces of gold.

One of the many research uses for gold is vacuum deposition onto objects prior to scanning electron microscopy. The gold blank in the heavily used gold plater had finally been used up. (Most of it deposits on the bell jar that maintains the vacuum, and then gets washed down the sink a few milligrammes at a time, because you don't want a shiny gold opaque bell jar, you want a transparent one.)

A replacement gold blank made of ultrapure 99.999 gold cost several times the gold content. The cheap approach was a Krugerrand, which happened to be the same diameter. Of course it's less pure gold, but that didn't matter.

But could these guys get an order for a Krugerrand past purchasing? To cut a long story short, no, No, NO!!. Expensive ultrapure overpriced gold blank it had to be. Laboratory equipment suppliers good. Bullion dealers bad.

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Nigel 11
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Re: Get your tin-foil hats here -- at these prices I'm cutting my own throat

There's a rarely-considered particle that is created by all high-energy physics experiments. They violate causality, because they always appear before the experiment is carried out, and never afterwards.

They're called Trolls.

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Nigel 11
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Re: Gooooooowld

Physical properties. Amongst others it's highly reflective, highly malleable, polishes to a near-perfect mirror surface, conducts electricity very well, doesn't tarnish(*), and it's very dense.

(*) More accurately it's a noble metal - a gold surface is actually gold. C.f. aluminium or zirconium or many other shiny metals which also polish to a good mirror, but which have surfaces of protective metal oxide, not pure metal.

Here I guess that the high density is key for the target. Platinum is slightly denser but won't offer such a clean surface, is harder to fabricate, and costs even more in any case.

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Chip and SKIM: How dodgy crypto can leave shoppers open to fraud

Nigel 11
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@Irongut

Isn't definition 4 appropriate?

BTW It struck me that definition 4 also leads to definition 3, if used in the context of a lynch mob.

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'Executed ex' of Norkers' bonkers Kim Jong-un rises FROM THE GRAVE

Nigel 11
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The real truth is that they won't allow independant verification of their version of "truth". Also, that they are now issuing official denials of what has previously been reported.

Draw your own conclusions.

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Urinating teen polluted 57 Olympic-sized swimming pools - cops

Nigel 11
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Re: I think a certain water bureau might not be very good at their job

The interesting thing about arsenic is that we need some, in the correct form, in our diet

Has that actually been proved?

Last time I read about it, the status of Arsenic as a trace element in higher organisms was unknown. It's omnipresent in the environment in small concentrations, so it's impossible to feed a rat on a completely Arsenic-free diet to see whether it develops a deficiency disease. On the other hand, there wasn't any known enzyme or other bio-molecule with Arsenic as an essential component.

Best guess was that Arsenic is an element that higher organisms have evolved to tolerate in low doses, because those doses are omnipresent.

I do know that certain micro-organisms are known to have evolved in Arsenic-rich waters to substitute Arsenic for Phosphorus in many (not all) of their biological pricesses. But drinking those same waters would soon kill a mammal, so any read-across is doubtful.

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Nigel 11
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Where did the water go when they "flushed it"?

The local soft drinks bottling plant, of course. (With a 20% discount).

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Nigel 11
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Re: Here comes the science bit

The law just needs to get a sense of proportionality.

Yes, he's guilty as charged. But let's see. If three years is an appropriate sentence for a waiter caught pissing in the soup, then for pissing in a reservoir you get three-billionths of that sentence. I make that a shade under fifty milliseconds.

BTW just one anthrax spore might be enough to kill you, if it's the lucky one in a million. This is the difference between biological and chemical weaponry.

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Nigel 11
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Re: Some one else needs to be charged ...(@ Evil Auditor)

but dead animals and bird droppings added AFTER the chlorine... that really would freak me out.

I hope you are one of the few people who never allows any tap water that didn't come from the kitchen cold tap past their lips. Also, that you have checked the routing of all the pipes in your property, and have inspected the situation in the loft.

Commonly in a flat in a Victorian building, the other taps are fed from a header tank in the loft, that is not covered, and which is accessible to any wildlife that can get in under the eaves. I have heard of cases where people complained to the water authority that their water tasted unpleasant, and the problem was traced to a decomposing pigeon or rat in the header tank. It's also not unknown for the kitchen cold tap to be mis-plumbed into the supply from the header tank. And of course, mixer taps mix a bit of impure hot water into the "pure" cold water, if you select cold but the previous usage was warm.

Personally, I'm rather more concerned about leachate from the coal tar (ie concentrated polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, bio-accumulative carcinogens) with which the Victorians sealed their cast iron public water supply systems against leakage. Many of these pipes are still in use. At least London has the saving grace of hard water coating the innards of everything in limescale.

Oh, and "plumbed" my well mean plumbed with actual lead pipes, if the building is pre-war. Again I'm glad of the hard water in London.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. You now have permission to vomit.

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Nigel 11
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Re: Urine is sterile

Potassium Cyanide can also be 'sterile' , but by your reasoning it would also be safe to 'drink'

Diluted to the extent that's being considered here, it would be.

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PostgreSQL 9.4's secret weapon? YES, IT'S A NEW FILE FORMAT!

Nigel 11
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Re: Well done postgres hackers - fantastic job

Open source:

"We've found a bug in your product."

"Great. Let us have the details and we'll fix it"

"By soonest? Well, yes, if you're willing to pay someone to work specifically on your problem for a few days ... actually it's already been fixed in the latest release, but we understand you may have operational reasons for prefering to pay for a back-port of the bug-fix ..."

Closed source:

"We've found a bug in your product"

"Great. pay us $$$$$$ for an upgrade to the current version"

"Is it fixed in the current version?"

"No, but we can't open a ticket against your obsolete version"

[snip - unproductive dialogue]

"Whaddya mean, you'll sue? Haven't you read our terms and conditions? Anyway, we've got more and better-paid lawyers than you. You ought to know that, after all it's you that's paying for them when you buy our products"

(It's Friday. Don't take this too seriously).

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China 'in discussions' about high-speed rail lines to London, Germany – and the US

Nigel 11
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Re: There's a sweet spot

Who will spend two days travelling from Shanghai to London when you can fly in under 12 hours?

Someone deeply air-travel-phobic?

By 2100, with an optimist's perspective, it's probable that we'll be back to the 1920s with only the very rich or very important people flying, and everyone else using electrically-powered trains. (And quite possibly sail-powered ships, unless they allow ships to burn coal, or build nuclear-powered mega-ships. )

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Nigel 11
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Re: Doesn't add up

So why are they proposing to lay 13,000 km of track?

THINK BIG! By the time China Global Railroad is complete, much more than 13 Megameters.

From Seattle, across the USA, and South to Latin America (via Panama)

From Beijing, through Russia to Europe, and either across the Straits of Gibraltar into Africa or possibly via Iran and Saudi. Either way, ending at Capetown.

Don't forget the branch line tunneling under the Himalayas to India.

It's not even a new idea, but its time just might be coming (ie when the oil finally starts running out). Yes, the politics is "interesting", on top of which there are a few other rather tricky bits of geology asides from the Bering Strait.

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Britain'll look like rural Albania without fracking – House of Lords report

Nigel 11
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Re: Fresh water: It's the new oil.

The UK has considerable advantages on that front. We have high rainfall (Southeast excepted), and we're a fairly small island so it ought to be possible to pipe seawater to just about anywhere. I'm assuming that one can frack with seawater? Not so sure about what sort of pollution is in the water returned post-fracking, but unless there are cumulative toxins, the sea is very large and can dilute almost anything that's not bio-accumulative to harmlessness.

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Disks with Ethernet ports? Throw in some flash and you've got yourself a HGST p-a-r-t-y

Nigel 11
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Re: Another reason the standard should have been 10gbit/sec long ago

10Gb/s copper as a viable upgrade from 1Gb/s would be a serious power drain, if it could be done at all.

10Gb Ethernet over copper as standardised today is limited to 10 metres. That's enough for some server room applications (including this one?) but not far enough for networking premises. If 100 metres at 10Gb over copper is possible at all, it would eat considerably more power than 1Gb/s (which in turn eats significantly more power than 100Mb/s - IIRC a good fraction of a Watt per link).

BTW for performance, Flash-SSD memory shouldn't be on a disk bus at all. It should be a card on the system's PCIe lanes. It's often made to look like a disk drive because that way it can supply a performance boost to existing disk-based infrastructures, but it's hardly the best way to use the flash memory.

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Nigel 11
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Re: How long...

Which maybe points to why full migration to ipV6 isn't likely any time soon?

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Fix capitalism with floating cities on Venus says Charles Stross

Nigel 11
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Re: Anyone else think "Golgafrincham" while reading this?

I'm afraid I thought of pretty much the opposite, as written in Kornbluth's "The Marching Morons". (Classic SF from the 1950s - I think it actually predates me).

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Nigel 11
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Re: Weights and Measurements

Was this not the basis of the Issac Azimov 'Foundation' books?

Sure was. And that's fiction. Which was pretty much the point I was making.

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Nigel 11
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Re: ummm right....

And... Floating a balloon in that stuff with rather...uncomfortable.... conditions to crash right in to makes for a nice suicide bet.

Like, living on Earth during the cold war wasn't pretty much the same? (We came within minutes if not seconds of mutually assured nuclear destruction more than once). Come to that, how much better are things today?

People still live in Tokyo, Istanbul and San Francisco ... what are their chances when the big earthquake hits? Definitely when, not if, though maybe when is after their life comes to some other natural end. That's the key.

What are your chances if an airliner in which you are crossing an ocean develops a major mechanical malfunction? I'd expect a floating city to have a fair degree of self-repair capability, and lifeboats, both conspicuously missing from our airliners.

I can actually imagine the idea of floating cities above Venus working, but not in the near future. First, we'd have to solve the problem of getting raw materials to first build and then maintain those cities. Robot miners working down below (at 600C in Sulphuric Acid vapour)? Or mining asteroids, and delivery from above ... how, exactly?

Maybe five hundred years hence, if we don't wipe ourselves out or develop the social equivalent of senility.

And I think O'Neill colonies in Earth orbit or Earth's Lagrange points might be easier.

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Nigel 11
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Re: "may make a good sci-fi writer"

"Halting state" is written in the second person. It didn't bother me that much. It's the sort of thing that authors do as part of being creative. I wasn't convinced it added anything compared to the conventional mode of narration, but I didn't find it hard to process.

Have you ever tried Iain Banks' "Feersum Endjinn", in which one of the narrators is dyslexic? Or (the book) "Clockwork Orange"?

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Nigel 11
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Re: Weights and Measurements

Stross is a completely awesome writer of entertaining and thought-provoking fiction.

As for economics, I have yet to be convinced that anyone understands economics. As a physicist, I know that fluid dynamics is really hard, and climate modelling even harder. Now try climate modelling with particles (people) that make their own decisions about how they are going to behave, based on the conditions in which they find themselves. You really think you can do that?

Most economists I've talked to don't know enough maths to recognise an (impossibly?) hard problem when they see it. They just catalogue what's (mostly not) worked in the past and suggest on that basis things that might work in the future. Like one would expect,they mostly don't work. But what hey, sometimes you luck out, and then you're famous and influential and enjoying tidbits from the tables of the seriously rich.

To the extent that they are reminding us of the bits of history to remember rather than repeat, they're not entirely bad. Compared, say, to parasitic "professional managers" who claim that they don't need to know anything about the business activities that they are in charge of and the lives they fsck up.

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Security guru: You can't blame EDWARD SNOWDEN for making US clouds LOOK leaky

Nigel 11
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Re: Snowden was/is a chinese spy.

Chinese??!

So why is he stuck in Russia?

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Nigel 11
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If you really want to scare yourself about the future ....

Read some good SF. I found the back-stories in Vernor Vinge's "A Deepness in the Sky" particularly haunting. Societies that were driven back to the stone age or extinct by inflicting omnipresent surveillance on themselves. Others which avoided that trap, and fell into the more subtle trap of over-optimizing their civilisations, thus finding themselves powerless to avert a complete collapse when entropy finally gained the upper hand.

The front story is also pretty darned good, though (IMO) a bit less frighteningly plausible.

Do we have the wisdom to avoid in real life, that which will haunt your dreams when you read it as fiction? I very much fear not.

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Nigel 11
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Re: Well said that man.

Where are the EU alternatives for email, cloud storage, and social networking?

Email - if you care, use encryption. The e-mail protocols are absolutely as open as a postcard in the mail unless you encrypt. PGP also allows your correspondent to verify that it was you who sent the e-mail, not someone impersonating you. Alternatively just don't say anything in e-mail that you wouldn't write on a postcard.

Cloud Storage: again, if you care, keep your live data locally and encrypt your backup data before it enters the cloud. Or decide that the risk of putting your corporate crown jewels outside the physical boundaries of the corporation is not worth the cost savings from using cloud services instead of locally-hosted ones.

Social networking: oh really? I find the best way of not having spooks, burglars, con-men, salesmen, salesdroids, bosses, promotion rivals, exes, and random nutters knowing more about me than I know about myself, is not to use social networks at all. Call me paranoid if you want, but surely the USA gubmint comes very far down on the list of people that most social network users should concern themselves with?

If you are of dircet interest to the NSA none of the above will help. Your best bet would be to refuse to use any electronic device manufactured since 1990, but they'll probably still have you bugged and monitored 24x7. There are people out there who choose to live without any technology not available several centuries ago. I should think that a modern spook's biggest challenge would be spying on someone living an Amish lifestyle!

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Nigel 11
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Linux

Re: Well said that man.

There's even no operating system available which wouldn't be controlled by an American company.

Boggle. Ever heard of Linux?

Not only is it not controlled by an American company, it is not controlled by any company or other organisation at all. It's Free Open Source Software.

It's possible that there are backdoors in Linux or related software that were engineered by the NSA and which are sufficiently obscure that all the folks who have since looked at the source code have missed the problem. Witness Heartbleed (which was probably an accident, but similarly was not noticed for quite some time). But that's not the same as controlled.

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The quid-a-day nosh challenge: Anyone fancy this fungus I found?

Nigel 11
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Re: The May blossom is out @Captain Hogwash

For me, all along the Thames footpath at Richmond (SW London), last Saturday. Is this a long way South from you?

The horse chestnut trees are also all in blossom, which I think is even more advanced than the May in April.

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Boffins build billion-synapse, three-watt 'brain'

Nigel 11
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Re: As a matter of interest ....

So what's the fastest processor you can currently get that runs at 20W?

It's a question of connectivity rather than operations/second. That's where a brain retains an orders-of-magnitude advantage over man-made Silicon. It's a distributed 3-D processing network, compared to Silicon 2-D ones. (If you estimate fractal dimension the gap isn't quite so huge - maybe 2.8D versus 2.3D).

If operations/second was all it took, we'd have lost several years ago. Brain: 10^11 neurons switching maybe 10Hz. Computers: 10^4 CPUs switching at 10^9 Hz. But each neuron has around 10^3 synapses, so brains boast ~10^14 independant full-bandwidth interprocessor links!

I'm also perfectly prepared to believe that the only way to program a brain is the way that nature does it: grow one, connect it via high-bandwidth links to its environment, and wait fifteen-plus years for it and its parents and its society to bootstrap it. (NB it is scientific fact that the physical structure of our brains changes very significantly at puberty - adolescence really *does* do one's head over! )

The joker in the pack will be if any subsystems in out brains are discovered to be quantum computational devices. Most think this unlikely. I'm not so sure. Did the quantum realm really remain completely unexploited throughout six hundred million years' evolution of nervous systems?

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Nigel 11
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Re: “you have to know how the brain works to program one of these”.

I've seen plenty of instances of cats programming human brains ....

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Fresh evidence Amazon is ARMing its huge cloud against Intel et al

Nigel 11
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Don't write Intel off!

Intel has two advantages. Its process technology is second to none. And it is the platform of choice for proprietary binary-only applications.

Intel was in grave danger when Netburst (P4 architecture) failed and AMD (briefly) gained the whip hand, but they've long since spotted the danger presented to their business by inefficient electricity usage, and are well down the road to remedying it.

The mot efficient ARM CPU would be the one fabbed by Intel ... but until someone else can make serious inroads to the server-room under the handicap of a less advanced process technology, the world is unlikely to see that CPU. I'd be surprised if it didn't already exist in a secret R&D lab somewhere inside Intel ... plan B stuff ... unless they've forgotten that "only the paranoid survive".

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UK.gov data sell-off row: HMRC denies claims it'll flog YOUR private info

Nigel 11
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A different perspective

Although I can't agree entirely, it's worth pointing out that in Sweden and other parts of Scandinavia, there is a very different attitude to taxpayers' privacy. There isn't any, and there's no significant public disquiet with that state of affairs.

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/danielhannan/100150768/if-tax-transparency-turns-us-into-scandinavians-so-much-the-better/

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Cash slump a Seagate problem, or a hard disk industry problem?

Nigel 11
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Now a mature market, possibly declining?

1. Replacement interval for PCs is getting longer. Once 3 years to obsolescence, now 5 years, will probably soon be 7+ years, and determined by hardware becoming unreliable rather than obsolescent.

2. Many new systems use SSDs not HDs. SSDs are getting larger and cheaper. I expect that soon the default system device on a new corporate desktop PC will be an SSD, not a HD. The domestic PC market is in obvious decline. Consumers prefer tablets (with SSDs)

Which leaves cloud storage and enterprise storage on multi-Terabyte drives, but for how long?

IBM sold its disk drive business to HGST quite a few years back. I think IBM worked out what was coming on the SSD front long before the crowd did.

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NASA spots 'new' star just 7.2 light years away

Nigel 11
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Re: Why is it warm?

There's a third possible heat source: a matter phase change in the core. Inside the earth, a solid(ish) iron(ish) core is believed to be crystallizing as an on-going process, and releasing heat as it does so. Heaven only knows what corresponding process might be going on in the core of a brown dwarf.

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Asteroids as powerful as NUCLEAR BOMBS strike Earth TWICE YEARLY

Nigel 11
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Re: worried?

Much more to the point, the Yellowstone super-volcano is going to errupt all by itself "soon". (That's a geologists' "soon". Something like within 300ky, probability 0.9).

So it probably won't happen within our lifetimes. OTOH, when it does happen, one might expect it to usher in global starvation, anarchy and war, leading to the death of at least half the human population of the planet. (It could be much worse than that). Statistically, that's around a one in 10,000 chance it'll kill you. And there are a dozen or so other supervolcanoes around the planet!

Unlike looking out for large meteors, I'm not aware of any even slightly plausible way to tame a magma-filled supervolcano reservoir.

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Nigel 11
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If a 50 metre chunk of iron is plummeting towards a city at 50000mph then there is nothing anybody can do about it one way or the other. There's no way to stop it happening and it's doubtful that you could evacuate the city in time

Depends how long ahead it is spotted. You don't need to impart much delta-V to convert an earth-hitting meteor into a near-missing meteor, if you spot it early enough.

Even if it's too late to move it (or even just to steer it away from an urban centre onto a less-populated area tens of miles away), with a single day's warning you could get people away from ground zero and into basements and strong buildings with all the glass taped up. They'd then survive (and with a meteor, there's no radioactive fallout).

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Nigel 11
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Re: Maybe we need a couple hits near some major cities

Any hit with any human casualties, in a place that other folks can travel to, would be sufficient. Tunguska is too remote, in both space and time.

BTW a kiloton-equivalent object vaporising ten or more miles above the surface (ie Chelyabinsk) is no great deal. Lots of broken glass, but few severe injuries. It's anything that reaches (or comes very close to) the ground and creates a nuke-equivalent plasma ball there, which we have to be more concerned about.

The other danger, not mentioned above, is what might happen if a meteor strike devastated (say) Karachi. Would it be mis-identified, leading to an all-out nuclear strike and counterstrike in the following minutes? Indeed, are we sure that the USA or Russia would correctly identify what nature could throw at Washington or Moscow or other major cities?

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Apple stuns world with rare SEVEN-way split: What does that mean?

Nigel 11
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Seven for one: WHY??

It baffles me why a company ever splits its shares other than ten for one. That way you can keep track of how your investment is doing (just read the digits and move the decimal point for the pre-split value).

Two for one and five for one are manageable with a little thought. Seven for one perhaps suggests that the company wants a complete disconnect in investors' minds between the old and new share price. What do they know is coming, that we don't?

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Nigel 11
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Re: No change

Seriously, revelations reads like a bad trip

Probably, that's exactly and literally what it was.

Until recently, it was not understood that if grain was stored damp (ie after a bad harvest), a fungus called ergot would grow on it. The fungus produces ergotamine, which has effects similar to a bad LSD trip. And since an entire community likely ate bread baked from the same batch of bad wheat, they all went on a bad trip at the same time, and that made it even harder to dismiss the (shared) experience as mere hallucination.

Revelations indeed, though not divine.

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95 floors in 43 SECONDS: Hitachi's new ultra-high-speed lift

Nigel 11
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Mineshafts

Out of interest, how does the speed of this elevator compare to the devices that get people to work down deep mines? (some of which are over two miles deep).

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It's GOOD to get RAIN on your upgrade parade: Crucial M550 1TB SSD

Nigel 11
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Re: Power savings

OTOH for every hard disk that is replaced by an SSD, watts of power spent keeping the platters spinning are replaced by milliwatts of SSD standby power.

Yes, I know that modern operating systems can spin down the HD when it's not being used, but in quite a few cases there's some pesky app that regularly prods the disk so it doesn't spin down. Also spinning down a hard disk too often rather shortens its life, to the extent that I prefer mine to spin continuously except when I actively shut down or hibernate my PC.

Anyway, after reading that I'm not sure my PC will have a hard disk for much longer.

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DeSENSORtised: Why the 'Internet of Things' will FAIL without IPv6

Nigel 11
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Re: the lightbulb moment...

I'm surprised no-one has asked yet ...

How many network technicians does it take to change a lightbulb ?

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Boffins brew graphene in kitchen blender

Nigel 11
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Re: So not actually making graphene then.

(perfect) Graphite is lots of layers of Graphene held together (mostly) by Van der Waals force between them. Graphene was first discovered by peeling one layer off a Graphite crystal (using sticky tape!). Prior to that, it was believed that a single isolated layer would not be chemically stable. Anyway, I too am puzzled as to what is the actual difference between Graphene in bulk, and ordinary Graphite. The area of the perfect atom-thick layers? I don't know how many imperfections there are in Graphite crystals.

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Ancient Earth asteroid strike that dwarfed dinosaur killer still felt today

Nigel 11
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Re: So

Are there any mass extinction events around this time that corroborate this?

Is there an iridium or ash layer like chickycluxal?

No, because it was too long ago. 3400 My compared to 60My. Erosion and subduction will have long ago destroyed the macro-structure.

However, there will be special minerals such as shocked quartz that can only be generated by extreme pressure waves. And it may not be complete coincidence that the impact site seems to have been where we now find some of the the richest Platinum-group-metal-containing rocks on the planet.

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Nigel 11
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Re: Assuming that..

the dinosaurs weren't very bright, and rather nasty to boot

You've got a time machine to hand?

Dinosaurs are still with us. We call them "birds". The big flightless ones all died out. The small flying ones didn't.

Of non-human intelligences on the planet, parrots and crows have to come pretty high up the list. Parrots have the verbal abilities of a human toddler, and that's speaking in human language. Some crows make tools (a step up from just using found tools). Considering that their brains are constrained to be so small, that's even more impressive.

So big dinosaurs might have been scarily smart critters. We'll never know (short of finding some 60My-old fossil tools made by intelligent 'saurs! ).

As for nasty, that's plain silly. Some were carnivores. So are many humans. They evolved to be carnivores, like tigers or killer whales. With humans, that's chosen behaviour.

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Nigel 11
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Re: Wiped out species in existence?

impactor of that size would cause what is known as crustal tsunami. would just crush all underground shelters as it traveled around the globe

But life at that time was single-celled organisms living in oceans. Provided the water around them didn't vaporise or get hot enough to kill them, they'd survive with no trouble at all. An impact like his could sterilize all life on land and within rocks, but deepwater life away from the impact site would stay safe.

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Nigel 11
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Re: @Tom 7

The hard thing about life is getting it started

Maybe. Or maybe not. Maybe it's a virtual inevitability, given a planet continuously covered in liquid water for a few tens or hundreds of millions of years. There's only one instance of life known to us at present, and you cannot calculate anything about the likelyhood of an event from a single datum.

However, one can observe that life started within a few hundred million years of the formation of this planet, and closer still to the later time when Earth developed stable oceans that weren't periodically boiled or vaporised. So life got started fairly quickly compared to the length of time it's been running for.

The same cannot be said of multicellular life. It may be that almost every planet in a habitable zone around a star is covered in slime, that only one in a million has multicellular organisms, and that we are currently the only intelligent life in our galaxy. But that's also speculation - only one datum, from which it's hard to make deductions about the likelyhood of life of any sort.

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Revoke, reissue, invalidate: Stat! Security bods scramble to plug up Heartbleed

Nigel 11
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Re: Is this really as bad as it sounds?

I shoud think that if they sit out there and repeat every day / hour / minute, they'll soon find out how long one has to wait on average for a new chunk of un-zeroed memory to leak.I'd expect heap-management on the host system to recycle blocks of free memory fairly fast, unless it's a very lightly loaded system.

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NORKS' own smartmobe pegged as Chinese landfill Android

Nigel 11
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I wonder where they get their apps from, and how they stop stuff "leaking" through "their" handsets to the NSA?

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