* Posts by Andrew Tyler 1

64 posts • joined 11 Jun 2009

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Microsoft lures iOS devs with open-source app tools for Windows 10

Andrew Tyler 1

Languages

I'm pretty open minded when it comes to programming languages generally--the right tool for the right job and all that, but really can't fathom why anybody actually likes Objective-C and would willingly choose it when there are alternatives. Maybe if I'd put more time into learning it I'd appreciate it more (but why would I do that given its limited uses?), but it really doesn't lend itself to elegance, and also suffers a lot from 'different for the sake of being different' which I worry is Apple's real reasoning in using it.

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Epson: Cheap printers, expensive ink? Let's turn that upside down

Andrew Tyler 1

Hm..

Okay, I like the direction of the concept, but if the printers are still crap (ie, their $379 version is the equivalent quality of a $70 Canon) I dunno if it works on the average consumer level. Entry level printers are of such hideously poor quality, I can't possibly imagine paying more for them than I already do. They aren't amortizing the cost with the ink cartridges, that's just bonus money for them. If they really wanted to make a difference, why not establish an industry standard for printer ink, let anyone make that, and then the printer companies can compete on price and quality of their printers? All that aside, I'm glad to see somebody doing something different if not just for ecological reasons, then just sanity.

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Screw your cutesy plastic art tat, the US govt has found a use for 3D printing: DRUGS!

Andrew Tyler 1

FDA

Somehow I expect this is related more to milking more profits from a drug that's gone off patent than anything else. Is the 3D printed formulation patented? Almost certainly. Is it *really* so much better than the traditional tablets? It doesn't look like it's an emergency treatment for seizures so how important is this more rapid absorption? This isn't to say that the concept is unsound, and I suppose you gotta start somewhere and may as well make some money while you're doing it. It will only be evil if they start funding research aimed at "discovering" that the previous formulation is somehow dangerous and should be taken off the market, which has been known to happen.

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OS X remote malware strikes Thunderbolt, hops hard drive swaps

Andrew Tyler 1

Re: Doh!

I'd be pretty happy with a simple switch that forcibly de-asserts the write enable line or whatever. Presumably there are even more clever ways to go about it, but firmware is written to so rarely that making the user take some action is not unreasonable. It could even be one of those tiny ones you operate with a paperclip. Probably there are more complications to it than I am imagining.

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Are smart safes secure? Not after we've USB'd them, say infosec bods

Andrew Tyler 1

Waiting for...

...the official memo released by Brinks advising customers to squeeze a tube of super glue into the USB port. Or more likely, Brinks Secur-O-USB Brand Sealant, which is the same thing but costs $500 an ounce and requires a highly trained service technician to apply.

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Pew, pew, pew! Sammy shoots out updates to plug mobile keyboard snooping bug

Andrew Tyler 1

One of my old PC keyboards had something like this.

Seemed like a bad idea, so I disabled it, but anyone who got that info would be guessing that my password was WASD anyways.

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MIT's robo-cheetah leaps walls in a cyborg hunt for Sarah Connor

Andrew Tyler 1

Don't forget, robots overlords aren't bothered by radiation. The one coming after you will have a 10kg slug of plutonium in it providing 5kw of power. If you can manage to keep ahead of it for 90 years, it'll be down to 2.5kw though, so your chances will double.

Better hope you are a citizen of Mr. Lee's Greater Hong Kong.

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C++ Daddy Bjarne Stroustrup outlines directions for v17

Andrew Tyler 1

Re: Clang

If you judge tools based solely on your personal feelings about a company involved in their development then I pity your employers and co-workers. And, um, also Clang is free (as in beer, so not supporting anyone), and open source under a BSD-like license (forget which, exactly, but it's GPL compatible). It's a reasonably good bit of work, actually, though not without its caveats.

I do hate Objective-C passionately and probably hold a not totally justified prejudice against it, though. So it does go to show that nobody is perfect.

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Andrew Tyler 1

Re: C++

I used Clang++ to test compile modules on the side for a project for precisely that reason, even though the project itself was ultimately compiled with GCC. Clang gives lovely error messages in color and can parse through all the template crap. Instead of the wall of text indicating errors in header files nested ten deep, it prints the text and line of your own code and is even pretty good at guessing what the actual error is, even indicating where with a little caret (it would spot constness errors for sure). I'm not sure what the most recent versions of GCC do (this was 4.7.x), but Clang saved me massive headaches for that one reason alone. It's an ugly kludge hopping between compilers like that and probably not practical in most organizations, but the way template errors are handled in GCC is intolerable. I think Visual Studio might produce reasonable error messages too, but I haven't used that in a while.

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Andrew Tyler 1
Joke

VHDL

I'm not sure I'd call what VHDL does concurrent so much as semi-randomly sequential.

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Andrew Tyler 1

C++

I like the C++ I write, I just hate having to understand the C++ other people write. If you pick a limited feature set that does what you and your team wants and stick to it for the most part (re-evaluating as necessary), C++ is great. It's when you start going mad and doing things just because you can and the language supports it that things go terribly, terribly wrong. Even though it's anathema to many, I find just using it as "a better C" is usually the way to go. To be fair though, my projects are usually smaller in nature (<<1 million LOC), developed by a small team, and most of the actual function is firmware written in C/assembler, so I'm not an expert. I do know that Bjarne's book, "The C++ Programming Language," is one of the most infuriating texts on the subject of programming languages ever written. It's hard not to read that and get the impression that Bjarne had aspirations of academia (or maybe even politics), whereas K&R just wanted to get things done.

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Bone-tastic boffins' breakthrough BRINGS BACK BRONTOSAURUS

Andrew Tyler 1

Well done.

Now get Pluto classified as a planet again and all will be right with the world.

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El Reg reforms the Quid-A-Day Nosh Posse

Andrew Tyler 1

Nutrition?

Do you have to meet some sort of nutritional requirement? I could easily live on a cup of rice a day for five days, and often did in my sillier younger years, but I'd be looking at a nasty death of scurvy if it was five weeks.

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Gigabit web streaming in 2016? Live tests say yes

Andrew Tyler 1

History

Based upon past experience, this suggests to me that I can now reasonably expect to have a mostly legit 100Mbps connection sometime in the next four to eight years. I will also know better this time than to hope some new competitor will show up with a better, or even just different, realistic alternative during that time.

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NERDS KICK PUPPY 'bot in brutal attack

Andrew Tyler 1

That...

...is damn impressive.

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Turbocharged quad-core Raspberry Pi 2 unleashed, global geekgasm likely

Andrew Tyler 1

Re: *Really* Open Source now ?

While I agree that most customers probably don't care, at least not directly, about bare metal and the double secret Broadcom documentation, I don't see RE participation as meaning much. There wouldn't be any need to reverse engineer anything if the Broadcom would just release the real documentation or, *gasp* even the source, if the Raspberry Pi foundation would have picked an SOC from a more reasonable supplier. I think in the long run, it would have been worth an extra couple bucks, even for the people who just want a cheap linux computer.

I do tend to harp on about this, but it is an ugly black spot on an otherwise lovely idea. While I think this new Pi looks swell, I'll wait and see what TI does in response with their Beagle line.

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#VultureTRENDING: YESS! It's Pantsr, the Sharing Economy super app that delivers on the BOTTOM line

Andrew Tyler 1

Only 12 million pounds in seed money?

Okay, how about this.... my family gives me 12 million pounds, and in exchange, I retire.

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SCREW you, GLASSHOLES! Microsoft unveils HoloLens

Andrew Tyler 1

I want these.

Of course I want these in the same way I wanted a Power Glove because it was so bad, but it looks more like an augmented reality thing than a virtual reality thing, so not quite the same as the Oculus Rift (plus all the internal rendering hardware etc). On the other hand, the Kinect was a really impressive bit of technology, so I don't doubt MS's engineering chops.

I do want transparent OLED screens in my ideal VR goggles though, preferably with an ability to adjust the opacity via some liquid crystal filter whatsit. I want an Oculus Rift to play flight sim games, but they tend to have a billion controls, and I don't see myself ever being able to hit 'shift-alt-L' consistently by touch.

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Intel offers big bucks for black women

Andrew Tyler 1

Re: Forget true equality

At my school, just a few years ago, the undergrad computer engineering department had about 150 students. Two of them were women, they were both exceptionally bright and academically successful and neither felt they were being discriminated against in any way by other students (though there was some typical social awkwardness, but probably nothing like that coming from the dude bro fratboys at bigger schools) and certainly not by the faculty at all. The software engineering department had one woman among 250 students and it was the same deal there. The electrical electrical engineering department (500 students) had none during the time I was there. The school's overall claimed 85/15 split was almost entirely down to the biomedical engineering department, and still I think they were cherry picking an old statistic from a particularly good year.

Racially, there were five African-American students, and about twice as many Asian-American students (all men). There were indeed a significant number of other non-caucasian students (mostly Asian and Indian), but having come from other countries, it's not quite the same thing, though it will become so if they stay in the States.

The school certainly wasn't turning down female or minority applicants, and they did go to a good deal of trouble to get them to apply. They just didn't. Since it was a smaller school, it's probably an extreme example. The only reason I can imagine why there weren't more female applicants is because the idea of being such a small minority gave them second thoughts (perhaps why the women in particular tended to be unusually competent).

The problem is way, way deeper than undergraduate schools, and probably even high schools. I have no idea what it is, and maybe more visible role models would help some, but my money is the subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) lingering stench of America's puritanical past.

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US Navy's LASER CANNON WARSHIP: USS Ponce sent to Gulf

Andrew Tyler 1

Looks like it traverses and elevates exceptionally slowly relative to standard guns. I wonder if the innards can only take so much acceleration. Anyways, how can I be anything but positive about actual working laser cannon, even if they are terrible weapons of war. Hopefully they'll be shooting down flying cars and enemies on jetpacks before we know it.

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Sony Pictures struggles as staff details, salaries and films leaked

Andrew Tyler 1

Statement

Sounds to me like: "we would absolutely love to take credit for this, so go on assuming that's the case."

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Tough Banana Pi: a Raspberry Pi for colour-blind diehards

Andrew Tyler 1

The Broadcom chip is what sunk the Raspberry Pi from my perspective. I can't imagine it saving so much money as to make the lack of documentation worthwhile considering the Pi is meant for tinkering and education. The TI SOC's on the Beagleboards come with abundant, fairly high quality documentation. Regardless of anything else, that alone is worth the extra $10 for a Beaglebone Black.

That was a truly tragic choice on the part of the Pi Foundation. I could excuse almost anything else on economic grounds but that.

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Remember that tale of a fired accountant who blamed Comcast? It's kinda true, says telco

Andrew Tyler 1

About recording calls.

I always take the "this call may be recorded" warning the companies I call tend to play to be a mutual understanding between us. I'm recording them, they're recording me, so "this call may be recorded."

Is that a bad assumption to make? I don't usually like to start out conversations by saying things that suggest I'm going to be pain in the ass since usually just being friendly actually works better until it doesn't.

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No more turning over a USB thing, then turning it over again to plug it in: Reversible socket ready for lift off

Andrew Tyler 1

Size

The size is a bit of a concern for desktop-type applications. Smaller makes sense for a lot of things, but the standard A and B connectors are the right size for desktops. Now instead of which way does it go, the problem will be 'where's the damn port... no... that's an air vent... no... an ethernet port.... no... that's a hole for screw.....no... that's just a gap in the chassis.... ouch... that was a fan... etc."

Unless I'm misunderstanding and the 100W workstation variants aren't 8.3x2.5mm.

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Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source

Andrew Tyler 1

Formal Verification

I'm no an expert in formal verification techniques, functional programming and all that, but it all sounds like so much marketing dross and academic wanking to me. There are good ideas in there, but when the source hits the metal, all bets are off. Limiting your options seems counter productive when it all boils down to object code in the end. I'd be happy to be enlightened as to the benefits, but it seems to me that rigidly followed development practices (heavy on testing, review and refactoring) and no-exceptions coding standards are the way to go. And yes, I know it almost never actually works that way in the Real World, but it would be nice if it did.

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Tens of thousands of 'Watch Dogs' pirates ENSLAVED by Bitcoin botmaster

Andrew Tyler 1

This is probably among the worst nightmares of a game developer. Sure, it might make people think twice about pirating it (for a day or two), but suddenly you have all the earliest "reviews" claiming the their game is poorly optimized and runs terribly. As for the original pirate release group, I can't see it as too winning a strategy either. As I understand it, 16,000 people devoting 25% of their GPU resources for a few hours probably isn't a huge payoff. A banking trojan would surely be more profitable. Then again on the upside for the publishers, because it isn't something so droll as a keylogger or bank trojan, it gets news coverage along the lines of "piracy is dangerous" plastered all over the place. I'm sure a significant fraction of the stuff on the torrent sites contains much more malicious nasties that cause a lot more damage than 30 watts wasted and your ripped off game not working as well as it should

I was actually thinking of picking this one up at some point when the price dropped, but it seems even the legitimate copies suck a lot of computing power without a tremendous amount to show for it. That's kind of a shame. Even though in the end I'm sure it's just another GTA clone, the whole cyberpunk motif does strike enough of a chord with me to pique my interest.

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Teen girl arrested with 70-year-old man's four inch weapon inside her

Andrew Tyler 1

I don't think washing a steel gun in bleach is a good idea.

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Gran Turismo 6: Another glossy, gorgeous Mario Kart on steroids

Andrew Tyler 1

PC

You should try some of the current crop of PC racing sims. Have a look into iRacing, Assetto Corsa and maybe rFactor 2. They all share a heavy emphasis on realistic physics, and make no excuses concerning the difficulty of mastering them. In fact, a few of those mentioned above can be found (in customized form) running on the simulators for various Formula 1 teams.

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Our irony meter exploded: Apple moans ebook price-fixing watchdog is too EXPENSIVE

Andrew Tyler 1

Ouch

The irony is so lovely.

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Icahn trousered $700m from Netflix stock sale?! Er, it would appear so

Andrew Tyler 1

Rich asshole, richer, bigger asshole than ever before.

Quoth The Onion some time back.

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Wacky racers – The Reg's guide to 2013's Solar Challengers

Andrew Tyler 1

Tools.

To be fair about lending tools, that's not something I do anymore unless I'm well acquainted with the lendee in question. I have lost many, many tools that way. It's not that people intentionally steal them, but when everyone is in a rush (the usual circumstance for this sort of thing) people have a tendency to forget, and then I forget which tool I lent to whom, and then they're gone forever. Also, if it's not my personal property, I'm not really in a position to be lending it out to people. Maybe they had bad luck before. Maybe there is an even shadier team "borrowing" essential tools and then discarding them. Nerds can get pretty competitive, and not always in productive ways.

Of course, if this is just a case of "can I borrow that screwdriver for 30 seconds, I'll bring it right back," well then that's different. All the same, good tools are kind of sacred, and I've found (particularly amongst the younger crowd), that Good and Right attitude is increasingly rare. I'm still trying to get a not-inexpensive logic analyzer back from someone who then went and lent it to someone else who now swears they've never seen it before. They're otherwise trustworthy people, but the concept of treating other people's property with more respect that you'd treat your own isn't native to them.

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Valve uncloaks prototype Steam Machine console specs

Andrew Tyler 1

That seems like a lot of hot hardware to be hanging off a 450W power supply. My back-of-the-envelope calculations show that it could work, but it's pretty tight. I imagine they've thought all this through though.

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Finance watchdog: Big fingers + tiny mobe screen + banking = doesn't end well

Andrew Tyler 1

A synthesized voice reading out confirmations could be useful in some instances. Though I'm generally pretty good about at least performing the action of double-checking things, it's a bit like trying to find the error in a diagram or a bit of code you've been staring at for hours. It could be the most obvious and commonplace mistake, but I'm really reading what I expect to see more than what I actually see. The mistake is totally edited out at a conscious level. Since having someone else check your work isn't reasonable here, maybe presenting it to a different sense might help.

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Review: Beagleboard Beaglebone Black

Andrew Tyler 1

Re: And you missed...

Worked on a fairly involved project using a Raspberry Pi this last year, and the lack of documentation was a continual sticking point. There was enough info and code around to get by in the end, but that's really no substitute for a proper datasheet and manuals like TI have (and Broadcom presumably have locked away somewhere). I imagine they had their reasons, but trying to make an open platform on top of an MCU with double secret documentation isn't the best start.

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Alleged CIA spook cuffed by Russians: US Gmail 'spycraft' revealed

Andrew Tyler 1

Disguises

When I heard on the news he was caught with "disguises," I immediately pictured one of those old moustache+nose+glasses jobs and it made me smile. Turns out that's not far from the truth, which makes me laugh.

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Mexican Zetas ENSLAVING engineers to run crimelords' radio net

Andrew Tyler 1

Pay

You'd think with their income they'd be able to just pay well enough to get engineers to work for them willingly without all the pesky whinging and escape attempts.

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Pret-a-porter: LG boffins' bendy battery can be worn as PANTS

Andrew Tyler 1

UPS

Perhaps one day we could get a UPS that was just a slightly thicker than normal power cord. A couple CM in diameter, and six feet in length would provide a pretty reasonable volume for the battery itself. I suppose lithium isn't a good choice for a UPS though.

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Intel ignores Steve Jobs, adds touchscreen to Ultrabook

Andrew Tyler 1

Touch.

For normal computer (not tablet) stuff, I'd ideally have a mouse. However, I think I'd much rather have a touchscreen than a trackpad or nubby-pointer. So for mobile usage when there's nowhere to use a mouse, a touchscreen is probably the best option.

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World's only twin jet-engine bike drives onto eBay

Andrew Tyler 1

Because...

The power doesn't go through the wheel.

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Is your old hardware made of gold, or just DIRT?

Andrew Tyler 1

Metal

We sometimes do pretty well stripping out and separating the copper, aluminum and (to a much lesser extent) steel from the old lab equipment. In the grand scheme of things, it's a toss up whether it's worth it,but the last time, for a couple hours of stripping stuff down and a short drive we managed about $900USD.

The stripping down part makes a horrible mess though.

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Homeland Security bungles 'pre-crime' tech test docs

Andrew Tyler 1

Base Rate Fallacy

...and then some.

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Sony to ship VR-style 3D headset in November

Andrew Tyler 1
Thumb Up

Ah, now we're getting somewhere.

Hopefully this is popular enough to warrant a few follow up models. When they have a set at 1080p with head tracking, I would probably be pretty interested.

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Google points finger at human after robo car accident

Andrew Tyler 1

Overridden.

So, I take it when they say a human was in control at the time, they mean at the time of the actual collision, when the human driver was screaming at the computer and standing on the brake pedal. Presumably, this is how one operates the override.

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Australians safe from Mortal Kombat

Andrew Tyler 1

Get over here.

A B A C A B B

The one code I still remember after all these years.

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Anonymous hack showed password re-use becoming endemic

Andrew Tyler 1

The luggage padlock of passwords.

I use the same password for all my junk accounts, and its the same password I've been using for 10 years. Not familiar with rootkit.com, but Gawker would definitely qualify as a junk account if I had one there. I probably should graduate to using some password tool for them someday, but for the time being I'm not too worried.

Surely this is what most people do.

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Texter who fell in fountain threatens to sue

Andrew Tyler 1

Blob

Ah, so the unindentifiable blob's name is Cathy Cruz Marrero. Cathy Cruz Marrero ought to be terribly, terribly ashamed of herself. Mortified, even. If Cathy Cruz Marrero is so shy, she should have kept Cathy Cruz Marrero's identify a secret. If Cathy Cruz Marrero is just looking for a buck, Cathy Cruz Marrero is pretty foolish to do interviews for the news-media. Cathy Cruz Marrero's judge is going to say something or other about Barbara Streisand, and throw Cathy Cruz Marrero's case out of court.

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Ion readies book scanner for e-book buffs

Andrew Tyler 1

Ion readies book scanner for e-book buffs

Looks like it would take about as much time to read the book as it would to scan it in.

Not that it isn't a useful gizmo (I've got some old manuals and references it might be worth the time to scan to have a digital copies of), but hardly practical for everyday kind of stuff.

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Boffins baffled by 'magnetar': Ought to be black hole, but isn't

Andrew Tyler 1

Aw...

"If the Sun were located at the heart of this remarkable cluster, our night sky would be full of hundreds of stars as bright as the full Moon."

Now *that* would be awesome. Why can't earth be there? No rings, only one moon... damn this planet is boring. When I grow up, I'm moving to Westerlund 1. I'll find me a planet with big rings like Saturn, a few dozen moons, and I'll buy a beach chair. Probably listen to a lot of Pink Floyd.

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New US swarmsats will scatter to avoid space-war strikes

Andrew Tyler 1

Titles

That was actually the US test you're referring to (the excuse about having to destroy a wayward satellite).

I don't believe the Chinese needed any excuses. They just went ahead and tested theirs.

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Intel debuts hella-zippy optical future

Andrew Tyler 1

Units

It comes up often enough that the "Library of Congress" ought to become an official metric. How big is a Library of Congress anyways?

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