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* Posts by Dom 3

242 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

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Parent gabfest Mumsnet hit by SSL bug: My heart bleeds, grins hacker

Dom 3

My Mumsnet password

is really terribly advanced for its age.

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Apple poking at idea of bayonet phone fittings

Dom 3
FAIL

Re: a patent on a bayonet fitting?

We're commenting on the story, not the patent application. We shouldn't have to read the comments section (let alone the patent itself) to find out what the supposed novel feature is.

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Vodafone brings African tech to Europe

Dom 3

Re: Nice

The cents in the article refers to Kenyan cents. 50 cents is about 0.006USD, so much the same as bitcoin.

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Dom 3

Re: Not sure I can see this working well

Must be like Ethernet then - works much better in practice than it does in theory.

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Facebook Oculus VR buyout: IT WANTS your EYEBALLS

Dom 3

VR: Real Big, Real Soon Now, since 1989

Mind you, pads were the other Hot New Thing in 1989, so maybe the time really has come.

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Dear Reg: What is a 'Lag' and a 'Jacksey'?

Dom 3

Re: Tread carefully

I thought it was already.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-gloucestershire-26752592

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NASA: Vote now to put FLASHY LIGHTS on future spacesuits

Dom 3
FAIL

"NASA is retiring its current spacesuit, the Z-1"... the Z1 is an unflown prototype. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Z_series_%28space_suits%29

The current NASA suit is this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extravehicular_Mobility_Unit

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Improbable: YOU gave model Lily Cole £200k for her Impossible.com whimsy-site

Dom 3

Re: Figurehead?

ISTR the young lady got sent off to the Amazon and in an interview afterwards said summat like "I never realised that rubber comes from trees".

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

Dom 3

Re: Not the least of "their" capabilities.

"1500 METERS below the water taken from another helicopter hovering 50 meters above the surface THROUGH THE PROPWASH. The helicopter under the water was upside down... and you could clearly read the aircraft identification painted on the bottom."

April issue by any chance? According to WP at a depth of "100 m (330 ft) the light present from the sun is normally about 0.5% of that at the surface." At 15 times that depth it is pitch black.

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Bletchley boffins go to battle again: You said WHAT about Colossus?

Dom 3

Re: So why not

http://www.iwm.org.uk/exhibitions/iwm-duxford/battle-of-britain

http://www.iwm.org.uk/exhibitions/iwm-duxford/1940-operations-room

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Tony Benn, daddy of Brit IT biz ICL and pro-tech politician, dies at 88

Dom 3

Re: Concorde?

Boeing also won a government-funded contract to build an American SST. Before it got cancelled they'd chewed up more money than was spent developing Concorde, and they'd got as far as a plywood mockup of the cockpit (more or less). At the time of cancellation Concorde had 74 orders lined up.

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Get Quake III running on Raspberry Pi using Broadcom's open-source GPU drivers, earn $10K

Dom 3

Call *me* a cynic...

but I suspect the main reason that large companies are reluctant to release their source code is the amount of work involved in making them fit for public consumption, starting with removing all the comments that say things like "//Fred is an idjit, look at this crap!" and then ensuring that something embarassingly piss-poor hasn't slipped through the net.

Oh, and management thinking that "this cost us 300K to develop, therefore it is *worth* 300K"...

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But... you work in IT... Why aren't we RICH?

Dom 3

Re: Totally agree about WTFapp

I have a Vodafone Spain SIM and a GiffGaff UK one. When in Spain it costs roughly twice as much to send a text to a Spanish mobile - even another Vodafone - using the Spanish SIM than it does using the UK SIM.

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It's Satya! Microsoft VP Nadella named CEO as Bill Gates steps down

Dom 3

Re: Welcome to Toyland!

It would appear to me that on the contrary, there's been a large cultural shift in MS's engineering since BG took his hand off the tiller. Whereas BG famously argued against code modularity:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/09/06/ams_goes_windows_for_warships/

by the time of IIS 7, MS were trumpeting that very same modularity and replace-ability that Gates had argued against:

http://www.iis.net/overview/choice/modularandextensiblewebserver

Similarly you just have to look at the download size of the browser testing VMs that MS have made available to realise that they have put a lot of effort into modularising the OS.

Gates's point of course is that there's no *commercial* value in allowing other companies to release components that can replace your software - quite the opposite in fact.

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NASA probe orbiting Moon sights ANOTHER SPACECRAFT

Dom 3

Technically impressive and utterly pointless.

The reg's SPB should send them a commendation or something.

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Vile Twitter trolls thrown in the cooler for rape abuse tweet spree

Dom 3

Re: Would it be too much...

And not forgetting that Nobel prizes are not awarded posthumously...

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

Dom 3

Re: Expected lifetime

<sigh>

Shall I try again? If your design goal is that *everything* should be still working at the end of 90 days, unless you're really quite unlucky, then your design goal is *also* that *most* of it will be working some years later. Which is what we have. It's maths.

Don't forget that (for example) one of Spirit's wheels failed back in 2006.

Yes, I have grossly simplified things. Yes, I agree it's quite an achievement.

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Dom 3

Expected lifetime

It wasn't 'expected to last for 90 days'. It was designed to work (without significant degradation) for at *least* 90 days. That means that each component had to have a MTBF much higher than 90 days.

From that you can see that the *expected* working life *with* degradation - which is what we have now - is much much higher than 90 days.

I'll make up some numbers to illustrate the point. Let's say that the goal is 95% probability that the rover will have all of 20 major components (ten scientific instruments, ten functional systems) working at the end of the 90 days. That translates into each component having to have a 0.9974... probability of surviving 90 days. Ten years is (near enough) 40 x 90 days; 0.9974^40 = ~ 0.90. So there's still a nine in ten chance that an individual component will be working after ten years. (Ignoring wear and tear, obv). And despite starting off with a completely made-up 95% goal, this matches fairly closely what we observe: most, but not all, components still working.

Of course the other one died but I believe that was mainly a power issue.

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

Dom 3

Re: A lot of risk was taken for the Moon landings

@Vulch: I think you've taken two facts and drawn a slightly erroneous conclusion.

The "bingo call" was the point at which they had to abort OR land within the next few seconds. At the time, Apollo 11 was about 20 seconds away from the bingo call.

Subsequent analysis revealed that due to fuel sloshing around in the tanks, the low fuel level sensor (which triggered a latching indicator) was uncovered early and that the binggo countdown was started too early. The final analysis of fuel remaining indicated about 50 seconds left, which was on a par with all the other lunar landings. The lander was never designed to land with masses of fuel left.

Masses more here:

http://www.hq.nasa.gov/alsj/

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

Dom 3

Re: The bigger Question is :

The state of Bavaria is the rights holder, as covered here:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-25346140

although I appreciate that that might not really answer your question.

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Cygnus cargo truck on its way, and funding to 2024: Space Station is back in the game

Dom 3

Wot?

"flew airplanes strapped to Orbital Sciences' rockets during tests" is a REALLY strange way of saying "flew the B-52 from which the Pegaus was air-launched".

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Anatomy of a 22-year-old X Window bug: Get root with newly uncovered flaw

Dom 3

Re: Because free software is SOOOOOO secure, many eyes and all that.

The last few years I've been supporting a client who has a (relatively expensive) licence for a closed-source (and Zend-encrypted) PHP application. A few years back I noticed that the "display random image" feature was starting to get rather slow (client has more than 10^6 photos on site). With much wangling I extracted a non-encrypted version of the file from the vendor and discovered that they were using "ORDER BY RAND() LIMIT 1" in the SQL to select the photo. I rewrote it to ""SELECT COUNT(*)" to get the number of images and then used rand() in PHP to select one. So it ran about ten bazillion times faster.

I submitted my patch to the vendor.

More recently I wondered what they'd done with it so I requested an unencrypted version of the code from the latest release. And found this:

"SELECT FLOOR(RAND() * (COUNT(*) - 1)) + 1 AS offset " in the SQL

and then

$selected = rand(0, $num_images-1); in the PHP.

To save you the hassle I've done the workings; if you have three images then the first will appear three times out of four, the second will appear one time out of four, and the third will never appear.

There's professional for you - even when *given* a working patch they can screw it up.

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El Reg's contraptions confessional no.5: The Sinclair Sovereign

Dom 3

Re: The Golden era

Iain's Clive's brother, not his son.

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COW a-BUNG HER, dude! 'Secret Santa' Bill Gates buys lass a HEIFER

Dom 3

Malaria

It's not that malaria is less "fashionable" than cancer, it's that it no longer affects the developed countries. Malaria is an entirely eradicable disease. Until not long ago both the southern United States and southern Europe were malarial. For example during the invasion of Sicily, the disease was as much of a problem for the Allied troops as enemy action.

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Bank of America: Bitcoin could become THE currency of e-commerce

Dom 3

Re: Subtle thinking

4%!?!?! As you are mentioning names - I've used xe.com for many years (to do GBP->EUR) but I'm now using transferwise.com for my clients to pay me.

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Dom 3

Re: Subtle thinking

25% loss? That's even worse than Paypal. And I thought that was bad enough. Those of us who live in places with modern banking systems are able to use, without any undue hassle, currency exchange brokers, who will take only about 0.5%. And I'm able to set up the transfer specified in GBP so I can get exactly what's gone on the invoice. My US customers continue to pay me via Paypal - but my USD rate takes this into account.

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Space tourist Dennis Tito begs US to BANKROLL HIS manned Mars flyby

Dom 3

s/almost//

T,FIFY.

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The ULTIMATE cuppa showdown: And the winner is...

Dom 3

Milk

Lester, please tell us you managed to find some fresh milk for this, not the UHT crud that accounts for 99% of the Spanish market. If not, the whole thing stops being merely absurd and becomes farcical.

Absurd, yes; a Yorkshire Tea bag in a pot is good for two decent sized mugs of tea, four minutes brew-in-mug... urgh.

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Facebook fans fuel FAGGOT FURY firestorm

Dom 3

Re: This is disturbing

I followed the link to oed.com and found this:

5. (See quot. 1851.)

1851 H. Mayhew London Labour II. 227/2 He..made his supper..on ‘fagots’. This preparation..is a sort of cake, roll, or ball,..made of chopped liver and lights, mixed with gravy, and wrapped in pieces of pig's caul.

FWIW I just hoiked my copy of the "Shorter" off the shelf. That's the one that comes in two large and heavy volumes. Neither of the meanings under discussion is listed in the main body of the dictionary, but both are in the Addenda at the end.

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Techno-thriller author and gaming franchise Tom Clancy dies at 66

Dom 3

Technowibble

Clancy's technowibble was all a bit spoiled for me when he had a "computer expert" be handed a floppy and say "it's a Sony MFD-2DD double-density diskette", like anybody that knows anything is going to a) read out what's on the label and b) not just refer to it as a bog-standard floopy.

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Fondling slabs during takeoff WON'T end in a fireball of death - report

Dom 3

Re: Better to have no gadgets during take off

@Lee

You wrote "I do not WANT to listen to the safety briefing" and also "in situations requiring it, EVERYONE will forget at least one rule". Apart from yourself, presumably. Personally I take my lead from the guys / gals up at the pointy end. Here's a typical comment from one of them: "When the safety briefing starts, I stop what I am doing, then watch and listen to the Flight Attendant's speech or videoed safety briefing, no matter how many times I've heard it or how many times I've traveled or actually flown that type of aircraft" and then a comment aimed at someone making much the same noises as you: "But I'm very impressed that you must know a hell of a lot more about aircraft than I do, after all I only flew them for 42 years".

There's numerous reasons for paying attention to the briefing EVERY time - the fact that ignoring the cabin crew is rude should be sufficient.

"my laptop / Kindle / phone does NOTHING to the plane." Actually there's numerous cases. Here's Boeing's take:

http://www.boeing.com/commercial/aeromagazine/aero_10/interfere_story.html

Here's a more recent incident.

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/australian-it/iphone-blamed-for-flight-malfunction/story-e6frgakx-1226644142011

It's not just mobile phones.

The crucial thing is that although the avionics *should* be shielded, and the electronic device *should* be designed not to emit large quantities of radiation, there is no *guarantee* that both these things are true. Think human nature and poor maintenance on the one hand, and cheap-as-chips far-eastern manufacturing on the other.

There's lots of reports of instruments giving out dicky readings in the cruise, due to dodgy passenger

electronics. But it's not a crucial phase of flight and the passengers would not have noticed anything wrong.

"See how long it takes to clear a RyanAir flight on landing? That's how long it's going to take in an emergency". To get type approval they need to demonstrate that they can get a full complement off in 90 seconds or less, using only half of the emergency exits. And it can be done in real life - here's one where it took two minutes to get 309 people off:

http://www.cntraveler.com/dam/2005/11/air-france-2005-airbus-crash-infographic.png

"If a plane crashes, the people who come out the other end will be random" is not true either. It's the people who head for the nearest exit-which-may-be-behind-them, and don't hang about.

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Chinese building orbital lab by 2023 to make 'space medicine'

Dom 3

Fourth attempt?

"humanity's fourth attempt to build an orbital facility for humans." - I'm guessing that the first three are Skylab, Mir, and ISS, and for some reason the Salyuts and Tiangong-1 are ignored. On what basis, I do not know.

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Asus NV550JV 15.6in full HD notebook - the one we didn't have to send back

Dom 3

Cheap!

It's only 240 quid more than a B&O cordless telephone (http://www.bostpauls.co.uk/products/telephones/beocom-2/ if you don't believe me) so I hereby declare it a bargain!

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Want to sit in Picard's chair while spying on THE WORLD? We can make it so – ex-NSA man

Dom 3

reminds me.

Visited UUnet's Cambridge HQ once. Just off the entrance hall was the NOC. Which was arranged Houston Mission Control stylee, with big screens up front showing 24 hour news. Struck me as slightly unnecessary, and quite possibly a *bad* way of arranging staff in a NOC.

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Fancy some BEER ON TOAST? Italy invents spreadable booze

Dom 3

Re: This is new?

Marmite and vegemite in the fridge? WHY?

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But it's only wafer thin: Skinniest keyboard EVER is designed by Camby biz

Dom 3
Unhappy

Camby? WTF?

El Reg has come up with some great nelogisms but this isn't one of them.

If you are trying to save space then "Cambs" is established.

If you are *really* trying to save space you could try 'tab, although it may not be widely understood.

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BALLMER TO RETIRE FROM MICROSOFT

Dom 3

Re: Back to software...

Microsoft doesn't exist to make software.

It exists to make money for the company's owners.

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BILLION DOLLAR BALLMER: Microsoft chief makes $1bn simply by quitting

Dom 3

Better engineering in the SB era?

Since BG took his hands off the tiller there have been signs that the engineering inside MS has improved. Whether SB should be given credit for this I do not know.

99% of sane people agree that Modularity Is A Good Thing.

BG famously argued "In the commercial world, it is hard to see what value such replace-ability [sic] would provide even if it could be achieved.":

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/09/06/ams_goes_windows_for_warships/

Of course, BG's point is that in the commercial world, modularity just allows competitors to sell better drop-in replacements. A point that was well-learned back when DR-DOS was about to take over as the OS of choice. Gates's response to *that* was the infamous AARD code:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AARD_code

which created sufficient FUD that everybody bought MS-DOS to be on the safe side when installing Windows.

However by the time of IIS7, Microsoft were (and are) promoting it as "built with a completely modular architecture, on top of rich extensibility APIs. This enables developers to easily add, remove and even replace built-in IIS7 components with hand-crafted ones"!

http://www.iis.net/overview/choice/modularandextensiblewebserver

Fast forward a few years, and I've been downloading some of the free VirtualBox VMs that Microsoft provides to allow cross-browser testing. The Windows 7 VMs weigh in at something over 4GB - this for a cut-down OS + browser, no more. But with Windows 8 they've got this down to a "mere" 2GB or so. This is still ridiculous, but it indicates that they have managed to modularise a great deal of the OS. (Equally clearly, they still have some way to go - a Firefox / Linux browser-only VM would be a small fraction of that size).

The obvious conclusion then is that post-Gates, MS have started to apply sane engineering principles to their products. But this may not be good news for MS shareholders.

Gates has, since leaving Microsoft, turned into - to my enormous surprise and slight discomfort, because I hold that his business practices held back the development of good software - something of a hero. Time will tell, but it is possible that his initiatives - and spending of hard cash - in tackling malaria in the third world will do more good than years of Western government aid.

Other software squillionaires have also done Interesting Things with the money. Let's hope that SB does.

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Elon Musk unveils Hyperloop – the subsonic tube of tomorrow

Dom 3

Re: Sounds a lot like the Transit Tubes...

Or "2010: Living in the Future" by Geoffrey Hoyle, 1972:

http://2010book.tumblr.com/

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ULTIMATE cuppa contenders prepare to go mug-to-mug

Dom 3

Fresh milk?

In four or so years in Spain I never once ran out of Yorkshire tea. The real problem was finding fresh milk, when most of the supermarkets would have more varieties of UHT than bottles of the real stuff. And that was in a fairly posh bit of Catalunya. So $deity knows what it's like round Lester's neck of the woods.

(Ho yus, in a WARMED TEAPOT for dog's sake. And milk in the mug first).

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Free cloud server self-destructs in 35 minutes

Dom 3

Re: MiB?

Oh FFS. Mega is 10^6, always has been. If you have a 32 bit wide channel running at 10MHz, how many MB/sec does it shift? Correct, 40.

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GitHub to devs: pick a license, we dare you

Dom 3

"unlicensed code's copyright rests with its author, without the coder having to do anything to claim it." is misleading, as the copyright rests with the author regardless of the licensing (unless they assign it to someone else, or the licence gives it away). As I find myself pointing out on a continual basis, the GPL (for instance) is based on a very strong *assertion* of copyright, not an abrogation of it.

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The facts on Trident 'cuts': What the Lib Dems want is disarmament

Dom 3

Re: Lessons from Snowden

"The US would not let us have these things unless the knew there was absolutely no chance of us firing them without permission" - in actual fact the USA's nukes are controlled by PALs: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Permissive_Action_Link while the UK's nukes can be launched long after everything on the surface is toast.

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Dom 3

Re: Still don't really see the point in Trident.

"That's assuming an attack with no warning. And that a second boat isn't out on exercise with another lot of 48 warheads." My understanding is that the missiles have limited life "at sea" before they need to be brought in for (expensive) overhaul, and that therefore standard peactime practice is to run the boats with only four (IIRC) missiles aboard.

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Dom 3

"what is our nuclear force actually for?" - maintaining a veto-wielding permanent seat on the UN Security Council. I thought everyone knew that.

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IT bloke inadvertently broadcasts smut on vast public screen

Dom 3

Re: I never understood...

Lots. I had to do an on-site audit of some sort a few years ago which involved checking the firewall log. There was one user who would kick off every day nice and early with about 15 minutes surfing for pr0n. Maybe he'd found that he had just enough time to crack one off before anybody else got in to work.

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PRISM leaks: WTF, you don't spy on your friends, splutters EU

Dom 3

Re: Sauce for the goose

And there's long-standing accusations that the NSA help out Boeing etc:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ECHELON#Controversy

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COLD BALLS OF FLAME light up International Space Station

Dom 3

And on Mir

In "Out of the Present", the documentary about (inter alia) Krikalev's 1991 stay on Mir, there's footage of him playing with a burning candle.

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Dell bucks PC market tumble with Haswell business systems

Dom 3

Re: How many articles is that on Dell now?

Same here, I'm on to my second second-hand Latitude ultralight (or whatever) laptop. They run a modern efficient OS just fine and can be picked up for a song. Often still in pristine condition, cos they've been sat in the CEO's desk drawer for three years doing nothing.

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Fedora's Schrödinger's Cat Linux gives coders claws for thought

Dom 3

Bug report

Stupid bloody distro nicknames cause more hassle than they are worth.

I get the feeling the nerds love 'em, but I am a straightforward geek and I just want a readily understandable version number. And the Ubuntu system works just great because I can tell just how old it is.

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