* Posts by Peter Simpson 1

983 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

UK spooks STILL won't release Bletchley Park secrets 70 years on

Peter Simpson 1
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Black Helicopters

In the 70's

I took a programming course on the CDC Cyber 74 from a CDC apps engineer. He pointed out the "count number of 1 bits in word" assembler instruction and asked if anyone knew why it had been included in the instruction set. Nobody did, and he told us that it was included at the request of one of their most important government clients, who used it in a cryptanalytic application.

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LOHAN's handsome young autopilot springs into life

Peter Simpson 1
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Joke

Re: Ye Gods!

if it's an air-shark, it will need a frickin' laser attached to it, no?

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Peter Simpson 1
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Alert

Pitot heater?

Don't want to end up like Air France, do we, now?

// a bit piggish with the limited battery power, though

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London's King of Clamps shuts down numberplate camera site

Peter Simpson 1
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Black Helicopters

Re: Scary Stuff

I currently work on ANPR and your figures are roughly correct, in daylight. Remarkably, we get closer to 90% accuracy at night using infra-red cams.

Here in Massachusetts (actually, it covers the entire east coast of the USA), we have something called EZ-Pass. It uses a combination of RF transponders and ANPR to bill for tolls. It works up to 70 mph, and there are several examples of this up and running. At night, you can just see the visible bit of the IR flash as it reads the plates. The slow-speed lanes have fixed illumination and the plates, of course, are reflective.

I suspect there is a manual reading of illegible plates going on, and I understand that the plates aren't used unless there's a problem with the transponder signal. Still, quite impressive.

Yes, there's a whole subset of drivers who refuse to use it, because they don't want the guvmint tracking them. They're the ones in the long lines, which, according to our overlords, will soon be gone, as the system is about to displace the toll-takers (overpaid relatives of politicians), with license plate readers used to bill those without tags (at a higher rate, presumably)

// and it sure beats having that ashtray full of change (or waiting while the chap in front of you digs through his)

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Private pain: Dell layoff bloodbath to hit over 15,000 staffers – insiders

Peter Simpson 1
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Unhappy

Dude!

You're gettin' Dell'ed!

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El Reg BuzzFelch: 10 Electrical Connectors You CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT!

Peter Simpson 1
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110 block in the US

I have a bunch of 66 blocks in may basement, each room has a pair of RJ-45 jacks, one for voice, one for data. Had them put in when the house was built, my only mistake was wiring them with CAT3 instead of CAT5, but it doesn't seem to have made much of a difference.

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Peter Simpson 1
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Facepalm

As an older electrical engineer, I was once told by a very attractive summer female intern at our company, that she could never remember which connector was the male, and which was the female.

I somehow managed to explain it to her while keeping the conversation on a professional level, but I can't for the life of me remember how I did it!

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Peter Simpson 1
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Mushroom

Re: Not just an angry American

USAian here. "Ground down" has been the standard, ever since those things were introduced (I know, I was there).

A few years ago, some bright light got the idea that they should be installed "ground up". This was post 1993, when my house was built, but I can't nail it down any more precisely than that.

The word-of-mouth reasoning for "ground up" is that a wire, metal cover plate, or other conductor, falling across a partially unplugged connector, would contact the ground first, instead of falling across the two line terminals, as it might, if the outlet had been installed "ground down".

This seems to me to be a low probability occurrence (to say the least) and the National Electrical Code agrees with me as it doesn't state a preferred orientation (and shows outlets "ground down").

So "down" is "normal", unless you're paraoid, then "up" is OK. It seems to be an individual preference or the preference of an overly controlling local electrical inspector.

A secondary reason is that some electricians mount outlets controlled by wall switches in "ground up" configuration to distinguish them from unswitched outlets. This seems to be an uncommonly sensible idea.

// yeah, I know, way TMI...have a nice weekend!

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Peter Simpson 1
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Re: #3 - terminal blocks

I prefer the pluggable ones (but they only work for PCBs). Don't need to unscrew each wire when the PCB needs replacing (or repair or whatever).

Oh, and +1 for the "Mumbai Multiway" -- I shall be using that from here on, in place of "rat's nest", when referring to spaghetti wiring.

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UK.gov recruiting 400 crack CompSci experts to go into teaching

Peter Simpson 1
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Childcatcher

Re: The real elephant in the room ...

Pupils as young as five will start learning to code in the new system and from the age of 11, children will be taught at least two programming languages.

We'll keep them after school, and outsource them as coders. It's like a 21st century workhouse!

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NASA probe orbiting Moon sights ANOTHER SPACECRAFT

Peter Simpson 1
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Trollface

Lawsuit

I demand that high resolution images of this object be released immediately!!!

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Man sues NASA: Mystery Mars rock is a UFO – an unidentified 'FUNGUS' object

Peter Simpson 1
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Alien

Who is Rhawn Joseph?

http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Rhawn_Joseph

First sentence is probably all you need to read:

Rhawn Joseph is a neuropsychologist who worked at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System in California. Since then he has become involved with the Journal of Cosmology and known for his eccentric views on the origin of life on earth.

An expert in his field, well regarded by his peers, then.

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The internet is 'a gift from God' says Pope Francis

Peter Simpson 1
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Linux

The Internet may be a gift from God...

...but Linux is from Linus. I know, I saw the email.

All Hail Linus, giver of Linux!

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Microsoft seeks patent for blade server chassis

Peter Simpson 1
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Get the patent first

Then worry about defending/asserting it.

There are an awful lot of crap patents out there, mostly due to management's expressed need to create a patent portfolio. At my previous company (3Com) there was a huge push and anything that even *looked* like it might be patentable was run through the applications process. I can't believe that other companies are much different.

Hey, at least it's full employment for patent lawyers.

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NASA's Opportunity rover celebrates 10 years on Mars with a FILTHY selfie

Peter Simpson 1
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Pint

Re: Expected lifetime

Just wanted to amplify this point: designed for a life of 90 days, still going after _10 years_.

That's not an "excellent" design, that's a f*cking AWESOME design!. The team that designed these two bad boys should be getting free beer for life from their management. Well done!

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El Reg preps relaunch of Cash’n’Carrion online merchandise emporium

Peter Simpson 1
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Paris Hilton

Re: Can we have?....

I think I have an illustration for the Bulgarian Airbags conversion section...

// Daily Fail link suppressed

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Peter Simpson 1
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Headmaster

Re: Tees and mugs?

I had a rather nice BOTH T Shirt a while back.?

Surely - BOFH?

I could go for one of those...

// F as in "Fine", right?

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Walking while texting can – OUCH! – end badly, say boffins

Peter Simpson 1
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I refer to them as iZombies, because they're mindless (or rather, their mind is elsewhere). Very annoying, especially when they're driving the [still stationery] vehicle in front of you when the light turns green.

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Pregnant? Celebrate your proudest moment ... by 3D-printing a copy of the foetus

Peter Simpson 1
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WTF?

Re: Oh that is all kinds of wrong!

Proving that once again, just because something is technically possible, actually *doing* it may not be advisable (or in good taste)

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LOHAN develops amazing mind-reading powers

Peter Simpson 1
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Holmes

Re: I stopped reading when......

How can you have a Guinness cert, but no Guinness?

Props for the inspirational and patriotic art, though. A very nicely done work area.

// England expects...and all that

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Mexican drink-driver shopped to cops - by his own gobby parakeet

Peter Simpson 1
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Pirate

Re: Odd timing.

...I think it was an African Grey.

You can tell by the lovely plumage.

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Yahooligans! cower! as! COO! was! reportedly! SACKED! by! Mayer!

Peter Simpson 1
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Re: That sweet goodbye

$100m sounds like a lot, but all those essential expenses soon add up.

A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you're talking about real money.

Everett Dirksen

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Peter Simpson 1
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Childcatcher

Re: That sweet goodbye

OK, so taxes take $50m of that.

I (and my family) could live out the remainder of my life in pretty nice style on $50m.

The interest off $50m, actually.

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Yahoo! chief operating officer de Castro exits web biz after just one year

Peter Simpson 1
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Joke

Re: Sub! Editing! Failure!

Have the people respponsible for the Yahoo! titles been sacked?

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Peter Simpson 1
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Childcatcher

Flashback

To my Data General days...and the "other" Mr. [Edson] de Castro.

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Hong Kong’s mobile-mad cabbies told to ditch dashboard devices

Peter Simpson 1
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Facepalm

It's a requirement, right?

Driver MUST be from a country other than the one he's driving a cab in.

Driver MUST not speak or understand more than 10 words in the language of the country he's in.

Driver MUST not use turn signals.

Driver MUST have working horn, and is required to utilize it at every opportunity.

Cabbies -- the same the world over...

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Top patent troll sues US regulators for interfering with its business

Peter Simpson 1
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Facepalm

NewEgg defense

The only way to stop these extortionists is to take them to court.

I, too, have read their patents. They're reaching. They'll be laughed out of court.

Any computer will scan to email with a simple script. The reason it was not done in 1980s was not due to technical inability, it was due solely to the lack of processor and/or communications channel speed.

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Furtive ebook readers push Hitler's Mein Kampf up the charts

Peter Simpson 1
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Re: The book about how

Almost certainly the only good thing to come out of the Third Reich - the VW Beetle

// need to deduct points for the ICBM though

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Tales from an expert witness: Prior art and patent trolls

Peter Simpson 1
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Childcatcher

A baldric

"I have a cunning plan..."

// hizonner seems to have been a fan

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Chinese Moon rover, lander duo wake up after two-week snooze

Peter Simpson 1
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Facepalm

Re: @ Dalek Dave

I sincerely hope you're too young to remember watching the Apollo missions on TV.

If you had seen them, you would have no doubt that men walked on the moon. For $DEITY's sake, man, ham radio operators listened in on the transmissions. And what's the motivation for all the people that supposedly worked on that soundstage to keep mum for all these years? You'd think someone would have sneaked a camera in and could make a fortune selling the photos of the soundstage to the tabloids.

We really did put men on the moon. More than once. And brought them home safely.

// With slide rules and IBM 360s.

// ...and Real Engineering

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Peter Simpson 1
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Pint

Re: even more impressed....

Real Engineers did that.

(not to minimize the present-day accomplisments of all who design for space exploration, but there has to be some bonus for doing it first)

// Beer's for them all, and the astronauts as well.

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Report: Prez Obama kicks Healthcare.gov contractor to curb for web disaster

Peter Simpson 1
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Holmes

Re: I don't get it

Because this small group of huge companies does two things extremely well:

- identifies, bids on and wins government contracts

- contributes to politicians' election campaigns

You'll notice that neither of the above involves producing a usable product.

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Take off, nuke 'em from orbit: Kill patent trolls NOW, says FTC bigwig

Peter Simpson 1
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Re: As far as I am concerned the lady is well named.

Still sounds a bit fishy to me.

That's krill.

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You... (Sigh). You store our financials in a 'Clowds4U' account?

Peter Simpson 1
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Re: IT can be a pain in the arse too

As another poster pointed out. So when a outsourcing company offers to take the hated IT dept off the companies hands - and makes loads of wonderful promises about 'making people happy' - don't be surprised when the whole IT dept is outsourced.

DO NOT allow this to happen in your company! If it does, prepare and circulate a resume.

I have been at a company (3Com, Massachusetts), where this happened. It was NOT a pleasant experience. We went from having IT bods who knew the environment and were employees, vested in the company's success, who wanted to help you succeed, to jobsworths who would do only what their contract said they would do. To be fair, this wasn't entirely their fault, they were not allowed to do anything outside what they were contracted to do. The outsourcing of IT indicates either a company cutting costs to the bone (why?) or an out-of touch management team. Both are valid reasons to begin a job search.

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Peter Simpson 1
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Happy

Re: IT can be a pain in the arse too -- or not.

I, too, work for a company in the "creative" field. Many, probably most, of the artists and designers use Macs. The engineers and administrative and sales people tend to prefer PCs (though a few use Macs). Our IT department supports both platforms, plus smartphones (we have a standard iPhone 5c platform) to a very high level. This is handled by *four* IT people for a company of around 250 in four worldwide locations.

IT's biggest gripe is supporting Windows apps on Macs. For this, they use Citrix, and they are, as I understand, less than thrilled, but it is the "standard way of doing it", so they suffer through. Incompatibilities betwen the Mac and Windows versions of various tools (notably MS Office and Outlook), and the continuing pressure from Microsoft to "upgrade" to the next version of applications or OS are also sources of stress.

In spite of all the above issues, everyone can work from home (up to the limits of the VPN server) and Mac users are *definitely not* treated as second class citizens (the Mac/Win7 split is about 50/50). Identifying, hiring and keeping quality IT staff is challenging -- the bar needs to be set high and there are many candidates out there whose opinion of their capabilities is overly optimistic. We are lucky to have four very capable and experienced individuals supporting us, and that definitely has a positive effect on our bottom line. "You can't do good work without good tools" is true, and you need capable mechanics to keep those tools working.

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Guess what happened when T-Mobile US's boss trolled AT&T's CES party

Peter Simpson 1
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Paris Hilton

CES [yawn]

Try as I might, I can't seem to care much about CES. I suppose there's a modicum of productive work done, but to me, it seems like a week-long whirlwind of announcements of products you might be able to buy someday, vaporware, and a lot of pushing and shoving by companies trying to get noticed (they'll worry about offering something useful later).

Oh, and spoiled children masquerading as C-level executives.

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Sensation: Chinese Jade Rabbit FOUND ON MOON

Peter Simpson 1
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Re: McDonalds on the moon

Oh, yeah. They had a GT40 setup at the DEC Westfield plant where I worked a couple of summers while in Uni. I was miserable at it, but impressed by the game.

Stumbled onto the Chinese landing and watched the whole thing "live" on the web as it touched down. Very impressive and totally autonomous, even to the point of hovering while it searched for and chose a suitable landing site.

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I KNOW how to SAVE Microsoft. Give Windows 8 away for FREE – analyst

Peter Simpson 1
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Thumb Up

Re: I wonder what the Pirate Bay stats are

Damn Pirate Bay!

Hated by all media producers, who nevertheless religiously watch the download numbers to see how their product stacks up against the competition.

If they manage to put it out of business, the stats go away as well...so what to do?

The media companies should form an association to *buy* and run Pirate Bay. It has everything anyone would ever want to download, all in one place. Charge a $10/month access fee. Profit! Of course, this would never happen, but it is fun to dream, especially when Netflix doesn't have the movie I want to watch.

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How's it going, Microsoft users? Patching your PCs? You SHOULD be

Peter Simpson 1
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Re: Eddy, have an upvote...

"...always been a chronic problem at Microsoft. Namely, executives' perception of what users want always trumps technical considerations."

That explains the "ribbon", then.

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How the UK's national memory lives in a ROBOT in Kew

Peter Simpson 1
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Facepalm

Re: Slightly off topic

The trick to avoiding disaster is to hire a firm that knows something about successfully completing large IT projects, as opposed to a firm (e.g.: CGI Federal) whose area of expertise is limited to winning government contracts.

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Peter Simpson 1
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Pint

Nice touch

Providing recommendations for the thirsty explorer at the end of the article!

Dad spent some time at the old PRO in the 1950s, researching his PhD on the Naval Career of Admiral Sir George Pocock. Which is quite a good read, actually.

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Mandela memorial. Yup, let's SNAP A SELFIE, say grinning Obama, Cameron

Peter Simpson 1
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Re: Bono

Although, to be fair, if one *is* trying to be a political activist, one can be much more effective if one mingles with the political elite.

// just need to try not to get any on you...

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Peter Simpson 1
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Black Helicopters

Looks like it was her phone

I thought Obama was forbidden to use an iPhone?

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Teary-eyed snappers recall the golden age of film

Peter Simpson 1
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Facepalm

Re: Looking at old photos

It's because we were all younger then!

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Peter Simpson 1
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Re: Great article.

Just picked up an F4 from KEH this week. $150. I'll shoot film until I can't get it any more. And now I can do it with cameras I couldn't afford as a kid.

// digital, too, but film builds more character

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How UK air traffic control system was caught asleep on the job

Peter Simpson 1
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Facepalm

Re: One million lines of code

Frequentis: a division of CGI Federal?

You'd think, when updating software in something as big and important, as the touch screen interface on an air traffic control system, that the software company concerned might do a bit more than the normal "yup, looks OK to me and it's out the door" variety of testing...

...but, apparently, you'd be wrong.

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When the lights went out: My 'leccy-induced, bog floor crawling HORROR

Peter Simpson 1
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Re: Always carry a torch

"Fenix make excellent torches."

And the Chinese, not to be outdone, make excellent copies of them, for a fraction of the cost. I have several, and on e in the glove compartment of each vehicle. The ones that run on CR123 Lithium cells will be fresh and ready to use when you need them, unlike those that use AA cells.

// dealextreme.com

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Peter Simpson 1
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Alien

Re: Power Generation

"He wonders whether gravity – "

No.

"...free power generation"

NO!

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Peter Simpson 1
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Excellent

Speechless.

// because I'm trying very hard to get the final image out of my mind

// old guy here, my coworkers are younger than my kids...

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