* Posts by Richard 12

1598 posts • joined 16 Jun 2009

UK's thirst for energy falls, yet prices rise: Now why is that?

Richard 12
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Flame

Two thing - fractional distillation and crackers. Look them up.

The oil that comes out of the ground is a mix of many different types of oil, petroleum and impurities, so one of the big jobs after extraction is separating the stuff out.

Even after doing that, it's also relatively easy to crack heavy oils into lighter oils like petroleum if that's what you want.

These are what refineries are for.

Light oils into heavier ones is more difficult but can also be done.

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Richard 12
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Re: The root cause of all of this mess?

Not true, in this case it's actually Blair and the Green Party.

The coal mines were going to close either way simply down to safety concerns - we care if our people die down't pit so the costs escalate and countries who pay less attention to the odd mining disaster rapidly become much cheaper.

The problem we have here is the over-emphasis on wind and the outright refusal to build any nuclear plants in the last decade. Thankfully now that some Greens have realised that nuclear is the only carbon-neutral baseload generation, as we've got a chance of starting to build the plants we needed years ago.

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Richard 12
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Re: In Orlowski's world

In the real world it is miniscule.

It also won't get any higher until our politicians stop pandering to the idiot Greenies and start doing some joined-up and medium to long-term thinking as opposed to the current extremely short-termist, market and headline-driven approach.

Swapping a small amount of CO2 emissions for mercury and heavy metals pollution is not sane, and cutting CO2 by deliberately blacking out and pricing out consumers is also rather crazy. That's before you note that CO2 emissions per kWh are likely to increase by pushing wind as more gas turbines are needed sit in hot standby ready to sync.

The National Grid has repeatedly warned that our current path leads straight to rolling blackouts ("demand management") and various charities have already pointed out that the number of people in fuel poverty is increasing - as a direct result of this push to wind and solar.

The next ten to fifteen years are going to be extremely painful, and somebody in power is going to feel a sharp red-hot poker within that time period - but it won't have been their fault, because the ones who set us on this course will have quit before the faecal/fan interface occurs.

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Richard 12
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Re: In the 1950s....

Actually, your domestic water supply uses energy to purify it, and you could argue that they are effectively the same thing.

At the end of the day, all your domestic services (Electricity/gas, water, sewerage, broadband, phone) come down to energy, maintenance and capital infrastructure costs.

Such a shame that the first is being squeezed by short-term thinking... As is the second and third...

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Richard 12
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@mr_jrt

We'd need tens if not hundreds of GWh of storage - remember that flywheels and salt batteries are still fairly experimental and are really intended to provide the few minutes of UPS before the diesel generators kick in at sites like data centres and power stations.

So the only storage technology that could actually scale far enough is pumped storage hydroelectric.

Yet oddly enough, the Scottish seem unwilling to let us drown most of Scotland to provide the capacity.

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Qubits turn into time travellers

Richard 12
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Re: Practical applications ...

You already will have did*.

Such a shame you won't listened* to yourself.

* Time travel tenses are hard.

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Hidden Grand Canyon-sized ICE-HOLE hastens Antarctic melt

Richard 12
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Re: Doin yer own fact checking .. and checking out the sKeptitard from FourX land

And why do you think that's a good place to measure from? Hint - nowhere is.

The Earth's crust is not static. Is that place being uplifted, in which case it's less than 35cm, or is it descending in which case it's more?

Any single place to measure mean sea level is fundamentally wrong, it must be measured at many places around the world to account for local crustal variations.

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Skype: Nearly half of adults don't install software updates

Richard 12
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Re: Ha, that's arssing ironic

Important is not the same as critical.

Calling my inlaws on the other side of the planet is important, but nobody is going to die if it breaks down so I'm not going to spend £2.50 a minute for a shitty international line when I can pay 5p a minute for a reasonable VOIP line.

Oh yes, and Skype is generally more reliable and better quality than international phone lines anyway.

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Richard 12
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Re: Or maybe

You might be onto a winner there, we could call it "Aptitude" because it'd be a pretty good thing.

That said, Windows does have such a system already - Steam updates everything you buy through it.

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USB charges up to 100 watts

Richard 12
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Re: I still think Douglas Adams was right...

I strongly disagree. The car cig lighter socket is a horrible design, completely unsuited to its current purpose as the contacts are very poor and unreliable.

How many times have you had to wiggle yours to get it working?

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Richard 12
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Re: Size of Desire outweighs solution advantages

I've seen a few USB power supply modules for UK wallplates, so you can get them already.

About £20 IIRC.

This would have the possibility of making them a lot more useful - I can see monitor, printer and netbook manufacturers jumping on this, as 'generic' PSUs are much cheaper than branding your own.

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Richard 12
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Except even they are saying you'll need 5 different ones

Because you know for certain each USB3 PDS-powered device will come with a PSU at the very lowest profile it can possibly run on. (Also, PSUs are quite inefficient when run at the low end of their rated output.)

That said, Profile 1 (5V, 2.0A) is already in existence, most tablet chargers are rated at that.

The new bits here are the 12VDC and 20VDC ratings - do these higher voltages need to be negotiated between PSU and device (expensive), or do you need a cable with even more cores like they did for USB3 in the first place (expensive)?

More importantly, it won't do anything about the myriad of utterly shit "USB chargers" out there that claim 1A or more and not delivering anywhere near that, or even exploding because they don't meet any of the creepage clearance and insulation requirements. Take a look at this one.

(I really hope that's a clone and not a genuine Apple. Possible story for El Reg?)

I know it's not the USB Promotor Group's direct legal remit, but it is already incredibly difficult to buy a legitimate USB charger and I see this making it worse. Somebody needs to start stamping on the charlatans (and Amazon don't appear to care, I've seen so many from their 'partners' being left up after a multitude of "it exploded on me" reports).

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Microsoft promises Metro developers 'fame and fortune'

Richard 12
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Making some money?

That's probably true, if Microsoft like you they might pay you to develop something.

If yours is the only one of a useful type of application in the WP8 store then it might do pretty well, at least in the first few months after WP8 launches.

However, you won't be getting a 'huge hit' like Rovio managed and it would be stupid to bet your business on WP8 alone.

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Expert: EU Microsoft competition fine could reach $7bn

Richard 12
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Ok, we'll ignore the monopoly bit

I actually agree with you that it is not relevant, as the merits of the previous monopoly case are not at issue here.

Microsoft appear to be in contempt of the EU Commission by failing to implement agreed behaviour.

In their case, such contempt carries a maximum fine of around $7 billion.

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Richard 12
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@Callam

How about an accurate analogy?

Let's say you were accused of nicking my car.

You make a bargain with the court where you agreed to pay my taxi fares for a few weeks, as it was pretty clear to your lawyers that you were going to lose the case and go to prison.

Then you don't pay up.

What happens next is you are in the dock for contempt of court, which carries a much bigger sentence than the original accusation.

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Judge: Apple must run ads saying Samsung DIDN'T copy the iPad

Richard 12
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It's a very old and obvious design

Go watch 2001 A Space Odyssey, and take a look at the tablets shown in the film.

Who copied who, and how much do Apple owe to Mr Kubrick?

Actually building a real device to that design was quite difficult, but that's not the claim they have made.

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Hubble spots ancient spiral galaxy that SHOULD NOT EXIST

Richard 12
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Re: I wonder what

We already did!

The microwave background radiation is the glow of the big bang!

It's just red-shifted a long way on account of the Universe being a lot bigger than it was then.

We've even mapped it, albeit not at a particularly high resolution.

Isn't science amazing?

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WinPho to eke out 4% of US smartphone biz

Richard 12
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Re: There isn't even a decent torch app in the WinPho app store

And bingo, there's the problem.

Why does your TORCH need your music and video library?

Those are completely unrelated to the primary function of the app, so can only be for nefarious purposes.

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PayPal is bleeding market share and it's all eBay's fault

Richard 12
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Re: Second Hand Background is Wrong

I have to disagree with you there.

Paypal's dispute behaviour is extremely important to their long-term health, and it's almost certainly their key strategic failure.

The reason for this is that the most important asset of any online payments provider is the trust of buyer and seller.

Both parties need to be confident that if the other fails to deliver, the dispute will be resolved quickly and effectively.

Without that trust, Paypal will fail because nobody wants to use it.

People don't use a service that they think will screw them over, and trust is extremely hard to regain once lost.

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Olympic Security cock-up was down to that DARN software

Richard 12
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Re: Blatantly wrong operating model

You are correct.

They were (and are) only offering hourly rates in the "agency model", and apparently refused to pay for any of the incidentals.

Like being paid during training, or transport to and from the Games themselves.

It now appears that the reason most of their security staff didn't know when their shifts were because they never intended to tell them until a couple of days before each shift, yet G4S still seem surprised that many of them took up other employment.

Mr Buckles, here's a hint: A contract stating "You will work X hours each day from Day Y to Day Z for money W" is going to be fulfilled by far more people than a contract that effectively says "Don't call us, we'll call you."

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Richard 12
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Re: "They have promised to meet all costs faced by the police and armed forces."

G4S can take the monetary hit quite easily.

From the G4S website: "G4S has announced a seventh consecutive year of underlying revenue, PBITA and dividend growth in its preliminary results for the full year January to December 2011"

Last year their revenue was £7,522m, operating margin of 7.1%

The reputational hit is rather harder to quantify of course.

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Valve to raise Steam for Ubuntu

Richard 12
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Re: @SoaG: Valve's entire catalog will move

No harder than a MacOSX version, and probably easier in many cases due to wider OpenGL support.

In some cases it's actually trivial, as if you picked a cross-platform SDK to build on then almost everything will work fine - games don't have to interact much with the window manager.

If you use OpenGL, then the hard parts are sound and joystick, both of which should be abstracted by your SDK.

That is why WINE works so well.

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New UK immigration IT system late and £28m OVER BUDGET

Richard 12
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Terribly sorry Dave, but that's bollocks

The economy and the country would be utterly devastated by a vast influx of millions of people, as every unemployed person in the entire world who could raise the cash for a ticket came here.

Unlimited immigration only sort-of works if you have an empty world, transport links are very low capacity and no local infrastructure or other support is required. Even then it's nasty.

The influx rapidly overwhelms the local infrastructure and local population, resulting in poverty, death and disease.

Take a look at history and tell me if it actually ever worked - and remember that it was never unlimited.

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Tablets, copycats and Weird Al Yankovic

Richard 12
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Re: Lead time

...and shipping it on a slow boat from China.

Transport lead time alone is 6-8 weeks.

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Metro, that ribbon, shared mailboxes: Has Microsoft lost the plot?

Richard 12
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@AC 03:33 - They are ignoring decades of HCI research

For example, one of the basic fundamentals of HCI has been to make elements that you can 'click' on or 'touch' to activate look vaguely like physical buttons, using things like outlines, shading and drop shadows.

This has long been considered critical to a discoverable GUI interface, so much so that you'll even see that on the printed overlay for physical touch interfaces like microwave ovens.

Another is that anything 'hidden' must have an indication that it exists and how to get it - for example, comboboxes have that arrow indicating more options are available, all windowing systems allow windows to be partially covering others, and since the mid-90's the vast majority include a way of seeing the currently running applications (eg the Taskbar)

Metro is the very first GUI that throws away these fundamental ideas.

I cannot believe that every HCI researcher since 1970 was really that completely wrong.

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Build a bonkers hi-fi

Richard 12
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Happy

Re: Cables

My favourite are gold-plated TOSLINK optical.*

Because obviously the gold plating improves the quality of the light...

* I actually have these, because at the time they were cheaper than the normal ones and had physically stronger ends. Presumably not enough people were fooled and they had to dump them.

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Apple rejoins EPEAT green tech cert program

Richard 12
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Amusingly, *none* of the iPads ever made meet any of the requirements

So does that mean that any iPads purchased by US Governmental depts need to be sent back because they do not meet the requirements?

Or does this EPEAT requirement only apply to stuff that isn't "cool"?

It's not just Apple though, there are no tablets that are EPEAT registered in the US whatsoever.

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O2 outage outrage blamed on new Ericsson database

Richard 12
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You'd still want compensating though.

After all, you pay for those services to be delivered, so if they don't provide them you should be getting a refund.

You also clearly consider them to have value, as otherwise you wouldn't be dropping ~£100 a month on them.

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US deploys robot submarine armada against Iranian mines

Richard 12
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$100,000!? Fail!

Come on, if you want to do it this way then your foxes have to be a similar cost to the number of mines each can destroy.

Otherwise it becomes an economic battle that you will lose.

That is why mines (sea and land) are effective, after all. Very cheap and fast to deploy, extremely expensive and slow to clear.

I am wondering why they think this is better than the traditional methods though, as it's slower and costs more.

I suppose kamikaze robots sound cool, and it is a logical evolution of the torpedo. Which probably answers the question. You don't torpedo mines...

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How to fix the broken internet economy: START HERE

Richard 12
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Re: Geographical availability

This drives me utterly barmy.

I want to give you my money for $ELECTRONIC_FILE, yet you refuse point blank to take it because I don't happen to live in the USA.

I'm even happy to give it to you in US Dollars and take the currency exchange risk upon myself, yet you still refuse.

So I can either go without or infringe the copyright. (And in this case, infringing demonstrably doesn't harm you.)

While it might become available for me to buy months or years later, by then I've forgotten about it/am no longer interested. In many cases it never becomes available to me.

Either way, somebody else gets my money for something else. Well done, that region-lock was a great idea!

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Move over Raspberry Pi, give kids a Radio Ham Pi - minister

Richard 12
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Re: Rasp Pis in school

He's a politician, ergo "Statement of intent == Achievement"

Never mind the real world, like almost all our current crop of politicians he's probably never seen it, having gone straight into lobbying or political researcher then become a politician.

And now they want to do the same to the Lords. $Deity help us.

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Climate was HOTTER in Roman, medieval times than now: Study

Richard 12
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Re: The alarmist scientists know

Postdoc researcher pay has always been piss poor and well below average income, and probably always will be as there are far more people than posts.

The difference the funding level makes is whether or not said postdoc position exists.

You cannot blame anyone for wanting their position to continue to exist, or be surprised at project leads wanting to have as many postdoc researchers as they can get their hands on.

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Richard 12
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Re: The alarmist scientists know

AC 15:23

I'm afraid that's completely wrong. How are the scientists being funded? Funding for "Climate Science"-related areas is extremely high compared to other areas, and one common 'trick' is to imply that your research has a "green" agenda. That funding wouldn't be so high without the 'threat' of AGW.

On top of that, there is a massive "green" industry that is completely and utterly reliant on Government handouts, and thus has a life-or-death reliance on AGW. Namely that if governmental policy changes to take away those , they will go bankrupt.

On the other side, there are industries that rely on the general populace burning large amounts of fossil fuels.

In essence, the debate is beyond the point of no return. Nobody really wants to know the truth any more, everyone just wants their viewpoint confirmed and jumps straight onto anything that can be bent to fit.

Personally? It's fairly clear that consuming less raw materials (including fossil fuels) where possible for a given output is a good idea.

However most of the current low-CO2 policies are stupid, because they are pushing things that consume more raw materials towards the exclusive goal of reducing CO2 output, regardless of all side effects - to the economy and the environment.

And that pains me, because not only does it look like I'm going to leave a shithole to my kids, I'm seeing that shithole develop in the name of being "Green".

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Nutter bans Apple purchases over environmental fudging

Richard 12
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FAIL

Re: The one that more than a single brand uses.

Microsoft Windows is not a brand of keyboard.

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Can neighbours grab your sensitive package, asks Post Office

Richard 12
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Happy

Re: Did somebody mention HDNL without an expletive?

HDNL are apparently extremely variable.

If your local geezer in a hatchback is dedicated and enthusiastic, presumably it's pretty good.

If they aren't, well, you're screwed.

Personally, I always get things delivered to my office. It then rocks up on my desk without any bother, usually much faster than if I'd ordered for delivery to home.

The only downside is that if the parcel looks particularly "interesting" then everybody stares at me until I open it!

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Gov: How can renewable power peddlers take on UK's Big 6?

Richard 12
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Re: Level Playing Field

Good idea, except that's not how the FITs work.

Domestic FITs are quite simple:

You get paid a fixed price that's several times the "end customer" rate for every kWh you generate, regardless of whether you consume it yourself or not. Then you get an added kickback for 50% of whatever you generated at another fixed price that's just under the generation market rate, because they don't think it's worth metering what you actually export to the Grid.

The upshot is that Granny and people in rented accommodation are subsidizing the landed gentry.

Industrial FITs scale down the rate a bit, but it's still way above.

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Richard 12
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Re: Heads in sand - all of you!

You mean "If only we'd built the nuclear power plants", as solar cannot even get close to your domestic demand. Industrial and transport? Pah!

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British Gas bets you'll pay £150 for heating remote control

Richard 12
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A thousand times this

More importantly, will British Gas train their installers on how they work and how to use them?

The central heating installer I had didn't understand the simple 7-day timer he fitted, telling me a completely different tale to how it actually works.

What chance do ordinary mortals have?

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Richard 12
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Exactly the point

You could, *if you wanted*.

But you don't, do you?

I already have all the bits to attach my boiler to the internet as well, but I'm not going to bother.

I'll might attach the lighting and security systems once I get the firewall appliance for the PVR sorted out.

Yes, PVR. That is actually the killer home automation application.

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Computer error triggers mass rocket launch

Richard 12
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Happy

Re: Advanced WiFi control system

Actually, while humans have a long latency to unexpected events, given suitable warning and a 'click track' most of us mere fleshlings can reliably hit a cue within 50ms, and some people down to 10ms.

It's all down to the rhythm of the dance.

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Door creaks and girl farts: computing in the real world

Richard 12
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Unhappy

Re: You know...

You need a better USB-Serial adapter then.

The real problem with these USB serial ports is that most don't actually support all the signalling lines and 'standard' baud rates. It's really hard to tell whether or not a given one will work either.

If your device needs 9600/8-N-1 and no flow control, you'll be fine. Anything else...

The quality is also extremely variable - I've used some really great ones and some real dogs.

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Richard 12
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Re: Isometimes need a floppy drive

USB FDD are about a tenner, I have several USB floppy drives because I support legacy products that have them.

However, what about the actual floppy discs?

The disks you buy these days seem pretty rubbish, not lasting very long and I gather there's only one factory making them.

When they stop, then what?

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Richard 12
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Unhappy

Re: insist on the Source Code?

AutoCAD is rubbish compared to the various solid-modelling packages, like SolidWorks.

(And heck, even Google Sketchup is better for most of the things AutoCAD is actually used for)

There's a reason the car manufacturing industry (and probably a lot of others) never used AutoCAD. SDRC Ideas was not exactly great, but it was actually 3D and not the 2.5D that AutoCAD is.

- I personally think that AutoCAD is probably indirectly responsible for a great many of the cost overruns on building sites. I see so many "Oh dear, we'll have to move that now the air handling ducts are in..."

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Lowery: The blue-collar musician at the eye of the copyright storm

Richard 12
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FAIL

Did he proof read this?

"I've never seen a brand like Coca Cola, a real mainstream American brand on ad networks. They censor that too."

No, that's not censorship, it's Coca Cola deciding where to put their advertising money.

I do agree with Lowery on one thing - "You can't argue with someone that disingenuous" - but that statement flies both directions, and to date the copyright lobbyists have been the most disingenuous of all.

What we consumers want is to be able to purchase music at a sensible price, know that a decent portion of our money is going to the artist(s) who made it, and that we can listen to that music which we have paid for anywhere, anywhen and anyhow that we choose.

We resent and fight against the way that the megacorps have tried make us re-buy the same music over and over again, treated us all like criminals and even got taxes applied to blank media to 'reclaim' some of that 'lost' revenue.

We further resent and fight against the ridiculous length of copyright. When my parents were teens, their parents' music went out of copyright, and was re-used and re-generated into new works.

When my kids are teenagers, everything my parents grew up with will still be in copyright.

Is it any wonder people don't have any respect for the music industry?

Personally, I no longer buy any music at all, I just listen to "MTV"-like channels and the radio. Why? Because I resent being treated like a criminal whenever I do buy music. I suspect I'm not alone.

Finally, SOPA was written by extremists. Is it any surprise that this pushed many 'reasonable' people into becoming extremists, as that was necessary to shoot it down!

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Open source incest: GPL forked by its coauthor

Richard 12
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FAIL

@AC 7/7 17:42

I do work in a corporate environment, and you've missed the point.

You must never forget the risk of all external suppliers - what happens when the supplier changes their roadmap, decides to end-of-life a particular product, get out of that business area altogether or goes bankrupt?

The severity of these events are far higher for proprietary commercial software because you cannot fork it or take it over once abandoned - even if you have the source code (which you probably don't), your licence can evaporate so you can no longer use it at all!

If an Open Source thing gets abandoned you've always still got the source code and a licence to use it, fork it and even take it over entirely if you want. Thus the severity of the maintainer giving up is small.

The probability of these risks depends on the product you're using, the supplier and your contract with them. That's actually the hardest part about picking which product to use.

I know of several projects that have been completely screwed over by proprietary commercial software components going a different way to their roadmap at short notice.

I also know of projects where an open-source component lost the maintainer. It was merely annoying.

For example, we have to keep a copy of an ancient version of MS Visio because one of the commercial tools we use is a plugin for it, and their plugin does not run in newer versions. It's not an old or cheap product either.

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Richard 12
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Re: Woah...

Still beats when there's only one path and you find it doesn't go anywhere near where you want.

At least with a forked project it is usually possible to backtrack across to another fork if it turns out to be going the wrong way.

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Shuttleworth: Why Windows 8 made us ditch GPL Linux loader

Richard 12
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FAIL

Re: I give it a month

How do you get the new key on there? How do you revoke the old ones?

What happens when the 'master' key used to do the above is leaked or discovered?

If you accept that you need a revocation mechanism because individual keys might get exposed and thus need revoking, you must also accept that all keys could suffer that same fate.

The 'master' key is clearly the biggest prize...

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Richard 12
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Mushroom

Re: MS Dirty Tricks Again

No, it'll be completely ineffective for Joe Average, because once the keys are leaked or discovered, there will be a massive spate of signed virus and trojan infections.

Cleaning that mess up will take years, probably making Melissa and DNSChanger look trivial by comparison.

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Richard 12
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Facepalm

@Skelband

And also the one that everybody outside of Microsoft has thought of, suggested, and yet UEFI rejected the idea for no reason whatsoever.

Which is rather odd, don't you think?

Especially as the 'security' aspect of this supposed feature would be better served by a "Woah, your boot sector and/or UEFI firmware just changed. Did you mean to do that?" warning.

For bonus points, adding a signed Flash copy of what should be there that the UEFI could use instead or copy back to the drive.

Or you could instead put in a system that deliberately locks out other suppliers and hobbyists, and bricks the machine if a virus did ever infect the MBR or UEFI. Yeah, let's do that.

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