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* Posts by Richard 12

1514 posts • joined 16 Jun 2009

USB charger is prime suspect in death of Australian woman

Richard 12
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Sadly, I am not surprised this happened

Having taken the covers off a few of these USB chargers, the "Oh my god this is going to kill somebody" has passed my lips more than once.

Maybe UK Trading Standards will now pay more attention to fake and dangerous electricals, instead of the pudding about with handbags that they seem so keen on.

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TIME TRAVEL TEST finds black holes needed to make photons flit

Richard 12
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So that's how Heisenberg compensators work

All we need now is a few CTCs and bingo, teleportation!

Of things you can stick well within the high-stress tidal areas of black holes.

We can teleport spaghetti!

Or rather, anything we teleport becomes spaghetti, just don't tell the test subject...

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YouTube in shock indie music nuke: We all feel a little less worthy today

Richard 12
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90% of anything is crap

It might even be more than 90%

Most of the music, books, games, software etc ever made are crap.

The fun part is that some of what I consider to be crap, someone else thinks is good.

As record labels are obviously "not me", and big labels contain large numbers of these "other people", you can't assume that they will find the good stuff.

A large label will try to pick the 0.1% that is most likely not to sit in most peoples "crap" set, but that isn't the same as picking most people's "really good"

The way to find "really good" is to find a few pundits who come close to not being "not you", and take their advice - and the pundits will do the same.

This method is also broken.

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British Gas Twitter account hijacked by mystery phishermen

Richard 12
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They aren't a national utility

British Gas is one of several private energy suppliers who perform billing and energy price abitrage services.

In this case they also do some gas extraction and home and commercial services such as plumbing and electrical installation, including service contracts.

I believe they are also a DynoRod reseller. They certainly have fingers in many pies!

The actual distribution of gas and electricity is done by National Grid.

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Traffic lights, fridges and how they've all got it in for us

Richard 12
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Boffin

Re: ...of the term "the Internet of Things"

You want a DMX Shock Collar (PDF)

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Richard 12
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FAIL

Re: Don't connect them to the internet directly

Lyne also tested a number of faults in home automation systems, using existing research. He says he managed to cause desk lamps to explode by exploiting weak control channels in power devices.

That one is definitely false. A desk-lamp sized power-control device simply cannot do that, no matter what commands you give it.

The absolute worst you can do is flash it as fast as the underlying power controller can do. In some cases that'll reduce the life of the lamp, but it can't explode because electricity does not work that way.

The only thing I can think of is perhaps he dimmed a non-dimmable transformer. That's no different to saying you "hacked" a diesel car by getting the owner to fill it with petrol.

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AMD details aggressive power-efficiency goal: 25X boost by 2020

Richard 12
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Re: When does it stop being the GPU?

A GPU is optimised for "Do one identical action to thousands of independent datasets"

A CPU is optimised for "Do thousands of different actions"

It's the difference between very large numbers of rather simple processors (GPU) and small numbers of very powerful processors (CPU).

Many common tasks would be ungodly slow on a GPU, and many are ungodly slow on a CPU.

There will always be a need for a mix of technologies.

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Adobe all smiles as beret bods spaff cash on non-cloud Creative Suite

Richard 12
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You what!??

What it DOESN'T tell you, however is that it needs to check in on a SPECIFIC day - the 23rd day of your monthly license period. It will then keep trying for 7 days (bringing it to the end of the 30-day cycle) and, if it hasn't been able to contact the internet, you get 5 days of grace and then BAM - no more Photoshop for you.

Adobe, you morons! That turns the Creative Cloud from an annoyance into something that many of your customers simply cannot use at all!

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Canada to Google: You can't have your borderless cake and eat it too

Richard 12
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Indeed.

Somebody is hosting that site, and they are either Datalink or somebody paid by Datalink.

Thus taking money from Datalink will shut it down.

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Elon Musk: Just watch me – I'll put HUMAN BOOTS on Mars by 2026

Richard 12
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Re: That about wraps it up for SpaceX

Rocket science is easy.

It's rocket engineering that's difficult, and right now the only people doing it are SpaceX, the ESA (Ariane) and the Russians (Soyuz and ULA).

If the engineering was that easy, why are the ULA buying their engines from Russia?

Nobody else is making the size of rocket engine needed to put tonnes into orbit.

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Nokia paid off extortionist in 2007: Finnish TV

Richard 12
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Re: Dane-geld

It sounds like that was the plan, but the cops screwed it up.

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Internet of Things fridges? Pfft. So how does my milk carton know when it's empty?

Richard 12
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Re: Falling costs anyone?

RFID tags will always cost significantly more than barcodes.

Barcodes on packaged goods cost exactly zero pence per unit, as you're printing the packaging anyway and they only need one colour.

The two things an RFID can give you that a barcode doesn't are the ability to read without line-of-sight, and the ability to write.

Requiring line-of-sight is not expensive, and for a sell-once product, the ability to write to the tag is meaningless.

If you have expensive goods, RFID makes good sense, because you can spot the goods leaving the store. If you hire them out several times, even better - eg my local library does that with the books.

So the only useful bonus of RFID is the idea of a shop where you walk in, grab the things you need and walk straight out and get automatically billed.

In practice, this wouldn't save enough money to be cost effective for the kind of tiny-margin, low-cost goods you get from the staple-foods section of a supermarket.

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Richard 12
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Boffin

Re: The internet of fridges

No RFID is completely and totally stupid for this.

The only things you need for this are much, much cheaper and are already used in some food dispensers and also the pick'n'place machines that made the PCBs in the computing equipment you're using to read this.

♳ Every shelf has an array of weight sensors.

♴ The fridge has an array of relatively high resolution cameras watching the shelves from several angles.

♵ Tracked foodstuff item packaging has a 2D barcode printed on it.

♶ The fridge then uses the cameras and 2D barcodes to identify the foodstuff, use-by date and 'full' and 'empty' weights of each item.

♷ The array of weight sensors then allows the fridge to figure out whether a given container is nearly empty, and the historical database indicates when a given type of item has gone completely.

In theory the existing 1D barcodes that are already on almost everything give nearly enough information - they identify rough product groups (not specific products as UPCs are expensive), which is probably good enough for most purposes as "500ml Muller yogurt" is usually enough, even if you don't know the flavour.

They don't include the use-by dates though.

(Excessively ornate bulletpoints included because the whole idea is excessively ornate)

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TIME TRAVELLERS needed to secure Windows 7

Richard 12
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It must be deliberate

I mean, making it progressively more difficult to install "old" versions of their operating system is a great way to push people towards their newest one.

Or at least it would be if the newest wasn't a pile of stinking tripe.

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Yet another reason to skip commercials: Microsoft ad TURNS ON your Xbox One

Richard 12
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Re: Something for the next firmware update

Won't work, because ultrasound isn't broadcastable and even if it were, TV speakers can't make it.

TV broadcasting standards limit the range of colours and sound frequencies to a rather small range, considerably smaller than a young human can see and hear.

They could do a piercing whistle, except they'd then be thrown off the networks for breaching other rules.

There's a reason why the signals to indicate advert insertion times used to be visual - ever notice black and white flashing dots before an ad break?

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Google calls on carriers to craft IoT plans

Richard 12
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Re: Will it scale?

No, there is no need for much, if any additional radio or data capacity.

Compare with Amazon Whispernet,upon which I'm writing this.

IoT devices should connect once or twice a day at most and send 100kB at most -probably much less. They are not always-on!

There is the addressing issue, but that should be easiy solved as yes, these devices do not need a phone number, merely a SIM/IMEI

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Ofcom's campaign against termination rates continues

Richard 12
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Thumb Up

Re: Noooo!

No, this is a great thing.

Most landlines don't offer any way of identifying the caller beforehand, while every mobile phone has "Caller ID".

Almost nobody answers an unexpected "number withheld" call, thus cold-callers will have to start providing a caller-id, making them easier to trace. Furthermore, if they spoof the ID of another company, they can be done for fraud.

And if they start calling too much, somebody will make an app to blackhole them. Or toy with them...

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Devs get first look at next Visual Studio

Richard 12
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Re: Compiler as a service?

Hasn't CLANG been doing that since inception?

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Glassholes beware: This guy's got your number

Richard 12
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Re: Unlikely..

And all radio jamming devices are absolutely and definitively illegal to operate throughout the EU, and most other countries.

Technically they usually aren't illegal to own but turning them on will land you in court.

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Samsung, Chipzilla in 4K monitor price cut pact

Richard 12
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Quiet you!

I'd really like decently high resolution monitors on my computers, and if Intel are willing to bankroll Samsung to bring the price down to an affordable level I'm happy to let them think it'll mean buying better Intelgrated, rather than a better GPU.

Sssh!

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Android is a BURNING 'hellstew' of malware, cackles Apple's Cook

Richard 12
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I have to reboot my iPhone quite often

It regularly decides that the "telephone" function is beyond its ken, and the only way to change it from being a very small WiFi iPad into a telephone again is to power off, wait then power it back on again.

This happens at least once a month, possibly more often.

I'm not alone, it does seem that iPhones genuinely do have unstable GSM radios.

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Quantum teleportation gets reliable at Delft

Richard 12
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Re: Star Trek Transporter

It was "invented" as a plot device to avoid spending many minutes every episode tediously getting onto, off and flying a shuttle craft every time they wanted to get the characters on or off the spaceship.

It's a time saving device.

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FORGET OUR PAST, 12,000 Europeans implore Google

Richard 12
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But it'll be well-hidden

People will only be able to find it if they already know where to look.

Or if they use Bing.

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Facebook wants MORE EXPLICIT SHARING

Richard 12
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Now if they can only make it usable

And by that I mean chronological.

I, like most semi-sane people, only use Facebook to keep up with people I actually know.

Having the posts in such a random order means I often miss important things, like "X just died, funeral next Wed" under the deluge of old posts that leap to the top for no reason whatsoever.

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Boeing CEO says no more 'moonshots' after 787 Dreamliner ordeal

Richard 12
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Re: Boeing is not too bad at moonshots...

It's easy when somebody else is paying the bill no-questions-asked. You can do whatever you like because it really doesn't matter - the company will not get in trouble no matter what you spend.

That's why Government projects always go over budget and are always late.

Budgets only get proper control when the risk is on the company itself, and overspend reduces its bottom line profit rather than increasing it.

So no, the B29 isn't comparable.

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You know all those resources we're about to run out of? No, we aren't

Richard 12
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Boffin

Re: Ahem. @ BlueGreen

No magic is needed.

Unlike previous centuries, the replacements for coal, oil and gas are already clearly visible on the horizon.

Nuclear fission already works, and nuclear fusion is relatively close - we know how to make that work, but can't scale it up yet. That's coal replaced - and we could do that today if we wished.

Many energy uses of oil and gas are already easily replaceable by electricity - heat pumps, trains and trolleybuses. Other forms of transport will still need some form of oil, and battery technology is unlikely to change that, due to the energy density needed for lorries, aircraft and shipping.

Various forms of solar power already work but are too low efficacy to be economically viable, this can also change if funding switches away from the current insane subsidies for solar PV across to actual research into various forms of solar power.

- One interesting angle of solar power research is the engineered microbes that use photosynthesis to create artificial oil and gas. It is likely that one or more of those could be scaled up, so that's oil & gas replaced.

Even solar PV could be improved, along with the HVDC interconnects needed to get power from the good places to put solar PV and solar furnaces to the locations where the power is needed.

It is true that there will almost certainly be an energy crisis very soon, however it will be caused by the politics that have made it impossible to build appropriate generation capacity, and the decision to subsidise building and operating large numbers of white elephant installations of technology that simply isn't ready yet, rather than the research and development that would make some of them economically viable.

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BRITS: Wanna know how late your train is? Now you can slurp straight from the source for free

Richard 12
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Facepalm

Re: Good Thing (TM)

Indeed, it's cheaper to drive as long as you buy the car - the purchase price is amortised very quickly. (Car hire is a lot more expensive.)

A lot of the time it's cheaper to fly than to take a long-distance train.

London to Edinburgh/Glasgow flights are usually cheaper and always take less time (including check-in).

The train only wins if you need a long taxi ride from an airport and for some reason don't need a taxi ride if you go by train.

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

Richard 12
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Boffin

Re: Stop using Boffin's puhlease

No, no the Register has proper journalists who are careful to only Boffinry to describe actual science.

The Dail Mail, Fox News etc tend to report on trick-cyclists as if they were actual boffins.

Don't confuse it with boffo though, that's neither boffinry nor trick-cycling.

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Richard 12
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Boffin

Yes, matter is hammers and nails and cars

There is also anti-matter, which is exactly* like matter but opposite*, and the anti-matter version of an electron is a positron.

If a positron touches* an electron, both are destroyed* in a burst of photons.

The proposed experiment is to do the opposite - take a burst of photons* and turn it into a positron and an electron.

The smallest stable* type of matter is an electron, so should be easiest to make. Bigger types of matter will be much harder to make.

As to "is that one of those physics things?" - Everything is physics. Dropping a hammer on your foot is physics in action.

* This is a lie-to-children. It's more complicated than that.

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Chap rebuilds BBC Micro in JavaScript

Richard 12
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Re: Then again

I have two and a half.

One working Model B, a working Master and a 'break up for spares' Model B.

If I remember correctly, the dead B had a failed PSU (very common) and dodgy keyboard, probably some other faults as well but I forget.

That said, I haven't actually powered either of them up for ...some... years, so I might actually have three break-up-for-spares now.

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Cloud computing is FAIL and here’s why

Richard 12
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Facepalm

Re: You've got it all wrong

Blaming the cloud doesn't get the bills paid.

Ask the Daily Mail how much money they lost due to being unable to publish one of their publications.

How many projects were late because they'd just got back from the field and Adobe would not allow them to use their paid-for software until Adobe's servers came back up?

How many other projects would have been delayed if this had happened at an inopportune moment?

How much compensation are Adobe paying out to cover this loss of business?

How many lawsuits will be started to recover this?

It was obvious that something like this was going to happen from the moment Adobe announced this new business model, and now that the first failure has happened, businesses are going to be scrutinising their SLAs and many will realise that using Adobe is a risk they cannot afford to take.

It's just incredibly bad business to be utterly reliant on a single-source-supplier who can just stop all your work at any time without any notice.

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Apple updates OS X Mavericks, iTunes, Podcasts for iOS

Richard 12
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Played episodes can now be automatically deleted?

Great, so they've actually completely destroyed an important feature I was using, and called that a "new" feature.

There was an option "Episodes To Keep" in several previous versions, which had values including "All", "last 5" and "Only keep unplayed", where it would delete episodes sometime after playing them.

The "new" one has only got the options "All" and "Unplayed".

Thus isn't a new feature, it's removing choice.

If only they'd fix the things that are actually broken instead of removing existing, working and useful features.

I suppose I should expect that of Apple though, they really are a "You shall comply" company.

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LA air traffic meltdown: System simply 'RAN OUT OF MEMORY'

Richard 12
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Re: an endless spiral of bad choices here

It's not controlled airspace.

Controlled airspace has a top, once you get up that high you're on your own.

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Amazon granted patent for taking photos against a white background – seriously

Richard 12
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Re: If you read it

So the thing my camera does, the one I bought a decade ago?

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How Google's Android Silver could become 'Wintel for phones'

Richard 12
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You've got it the wrong way around

It's "Use stock without any overlay changes and Google will pay some of your marketing costs"

So not only do you spend less on R&D to create an (almost always) trashy interface overlay that most people dislike, you get some extra cash.

Bad for the companies who were making a good overlay as they now have a hard choice to make, but good for everyone else as there is a direct incentive not to screw around with the interface.

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Please work for nothing, Mr Dabbs. What can you lose?

Richard 12
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Mushroom

You think it's bad in journalism?

Try the performing arts. Too many productions expect most of the people to work for free.

The worst case is the chorus.

Everybody expects dancers to dance for free. You know, because dancing's only "fun" and not "real work". Never mind the gruelling hours, the risk of injury, and the years and decades of continuous training...

Especially the promoters for big names who are raking in millions, because "exposure" is apparently enough to put food on the table.

- For example, Kylie Minogue's production team decided they'd pay the dancers nothing because "exposure".

- Don't blame Kylie, the big name knows nothing of the contracts and terms of work for the cast and crew. She is reported to be very upset at this!

Then there's all the smaller productions where half the cast and crew are expected to work for free, either outright or effectively due to excessive hours and unpaid expenses, the others (including some pretty big events and tours) where invoices are never paid (and the few where the producer never intended to pay them either) etc...

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Windows 8.1, which you probably haven't upgraded to yet, ALREADY OBSOLETE

Richard 12
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Mushroom

Re: Still beats the alternaives

No Windows developer in their right mind uses .NET.

We tried it once, for one project. Never Again.

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Richard 12
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Boffin

Re: Still beats the alternaives

OSX is only stable because Apple have just broken EVERYTHING so nothing works.

Broken is stable.

I support some OpenGL applications that run on Win32 and OSX since the days of Windows XP and whatever OSX it was that ran on both Intel and PPC around that time.

So far almost every 'named' OSX update has broken something, Apple's support of OpenGL in particular is horrendous.

The only thing that's ever broken in the Win32 version are the drivers for external hardware, which have had to be x64'd.

(Although Windows 8's driver model is a complete and total screwup. We are NOT paying MS to 'certify' a bloody INF that points straight to a built-in driver!)

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NSA denies it knew about and USED Heartbleed encryption flaw for TWO YEARS

Richard 12
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Re: Maybe I'm naive,

What makes you think this isn't one of the methods they were using?

They aren't going to list descriptions of vulnerabilities in use on PowerPoint slides meant for the higher ups.

Basically, if the NSA did not know about this before public disclosure then they are incredibly incompetent because it's something they claim to be doing, and if they did know about it, then how long do they sit on vulnerabilities like this before nudging someone else to disclose?

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Solar-powered aircraft unveiled for round-the-world flight

Richard 12
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Rather surprised by the lack of full autopilot.

Given that a proper one-CPU autopilot capable of long and complex missions can already be found on sub-1kg drones, I fail to see why a triplet-set of the same hasn't been installed.

The pilot only needs waking up if the autopilots disagree or have confusing/missing data (pitot frozen, GPS fix jump etc).

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Time is on their side: NIST's new atomic clock accurate for 300 MEEELLION years

Richard 12
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Boffin

Re: Serious question @Stratman

You just *know* it's right.

More seriously, you know (or can measure) the tolerance of every component and thus can calculate the possible range of the total error.

In some cases this can even tell you the direction of the error - for example, car speedometers are (supposed to be) designed so they don't read lower than the actual speed. This does of course mean they nearly always read higher than the real speed.

The other way to tell is to build several and compare them, which was how it used to be done. That doesn't really work for very high accuracy clocks though because you have to wait too long before you see them diverge by a measurable amount.

(As opposed to other instantaneous physical quantity measurements, where it doesn't take too long to check.)

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Richard 12
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Mushroom

Re: Synchronous Power Grids

The grid will pull a small generator into sync almost instantly, accompanied by a loud BANG as the rotor is yanked around and the coils try to leap off the stator.

It's a very, very bad thing to do.

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Annoying adverts on mobile site

Richard 12
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Re: Annoying adverts on mobile site

Thanks! Will bear with.

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Richard 12
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WTF?

Annoying adverts on mobile site

This morning the advert at the top of the mobile site became so HUGE that it pushed all the content off the bottom of my mobile (iPhone 4S) browser screen.

I think it'll be more than 1/2 the screen on other phones.

It's now so ridiculously large and annoying that it genuinely made me think the site had been defaced!

Can you get it squashed back up to being a simple bar again?

An advert that size makes me certain to scroll away from it as fast as possible - or use an ad blocker.

I've always turned off my ad blocker for El Reg as you normally ensure the adverts do not annoy. However, this one for an MSCloud service is incredibly irritatingly huge, and now my impression of MS Cloud is that it deliberately gets in the way of what users want to do.

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How Microsoft can keep Win XP alive – and WHY: A real-world example

Richard 12
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Computers are easy.

Machines are not.

A single production line tends to start at £10 million and up, with an expected lifetime of 20 years and often a payback period of 5-10 years, bought via bank loan.

If the line still works and makes the product, what company is going to blow another ten years profit on a new line?

That money comes from the workers pay packets. Are you happy to forego a pay rise for the next few years simply to upgrade from XP?

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Richard 12
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Re: This is the fault of Trevor's clients

No it is not!

At the time these machines were bought, there was no other choice.

It takes at least two to three years to bring a machine like that to market.

If you were starting to build a CNC machine a mere ten years ago, the only possible OS for the host control machine was Windows XP.

I know a company that tried to use Linux back then - it failed miserably due to the poor to nonexistent driver support in the 00's.

That's no longer the case for drivers, Linux support is now very good.

However, it is still the case for much of the proprietary 3rd party software that such machines need to talk to.

- AutoCAD does not run under Linux, and won't unless Autodesk decide to port it, while Solidworks only added a Linux version in the last year.

(Much as I think AutoCAD needs to die, it's still an industry standard.)

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Nvidia unveils Pascal, its next-gen GPU with hella-fast interconnects and 3D packaging

Richard 12
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Joke

Can I write in Pascal for Pascal?

Or would that cause an infinite loop of headdesk?

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TV sales PLUMMET. But no one's prepared to say what we all know

Richard 12
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Re: @ John Brown

That said, most domestic wall plate dimmers effectively lie about their rating. If it says 100W, it doesn't mean it'll actually run a 100W lamp continually.

They tend to be very low duty cycle.

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Richard 12
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@ John Brown

Bzzt! Absolutely wrong, brimming over with wrongability.

Halogen lamps ARE incandescents.

The difference between those and "normal" GLS lamps is the gas fill, which uses the halogen cycle to deposit evaporated tungsten back onto the filament instead of staying on the glass.

- If you've ever been to the theatre, >90% of the lamps you see dimming so nicely are halogens. Bigger ones than you can get in Tesco, but still halogen.

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UK.gov! frets! over! Yahoo! exodus! to! RIPA-free! Dublin!

Richard 12
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She's a Home Secretary

It's job requirement to be evil.

- And if you aren't evil enough when you start the job, the civil servants arrange for the ethicectomy to be performed while you're sleeping.

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