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* Posts by Richard Pennington 1

123 posts • joined 17 Jun 2009

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Galileo! Galileo. Galileo! Galileo frigged-LEO: Easy come, easy go. Little high, little low

Richard Pennington 1
Facepalm

Moon flybys?

Can anyone tell me how they might do a Moon flyby from an altitude of 26200 km?

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Think Google Glass is creepy? Wait until it READS YOUR MIND

Richard Pennington 1

The other worry ...

... is when it reads your mind and finds nothing there.

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Anatomy of OpenSSL's Heartbleed: Just four bytes trigger horror bug

Richard Pennington 1

Years and years ago (early 1990s), I was on a project which did static analysis on a safety-critical system. By static analysis, I mean automated code verification using a tool which checked for all sorts of consistency issues (but it could not deal with anything which involved concurrency, e.g. shared memory).

It would easily have picked up both the OpenSSL bug and the recent Apple GotoFail.

The technology exists, and has existed for a while now (the tool was written in Algol and was old even when I was using it). But it is slow and expensive to use (the tool's users need to be experts).

You get what you pay for.

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Money? What money? Lawyer for accused Silk Road boss claims you can't launder Bitcoin

Richard Pennington 1
Headmaster

What's the point?

Given that Bitcoins are untraceable by design, what is the point of laundering them?

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From 0 to ERUPTION in 60 days: You thought that volcano was COLD?

Richard Pennington 1

Basic physics

Paragraph 3: heating the magma *decreases* its viscosity, making it more mobile.

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Ten classic electronic calculators from the 1970s and 1980s

Richard Pennington 1

TI calculators

Texas Industries may be better known for chips than calculators (at least in the UK), but a quick trip over the Channel shows many TI models on sale in France.

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Richard Pennington 1

Those were the days

I went to university in 1978, using a TI-58 and a TI-59 for everyday work (I had to have two as sometimes I would put a program on one and have it running for literally weeks). You could run either one continuously with its mains adapter (I never bought the printer). Eventually the rechargeable batteries would, die, but I suspect that if I rigged up the right power supply I could have both machines working again. I also had a TI-30 - the early version with LED display. Unfortunately the TI-30 would silently give wrong answers when the battery was low. One reason for the TI-30 was that the TI-58 / TI-59 program modules were banned in University exams.

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'New' nova starts to BLUSH

Richard Pennington 1
Boffin

More info

A quick search of the usual available-to-the public sources reveals the following extra information:

Nova Centauri 2013 = V1369 Centauri, possibly identical to a 15th magnitude star seen before the nova event. There is no reliable distance estimate yet. The rise in brightness of about 12 magnitudes (from pre-event to peak) is a factor of about 10^5, and is fairly typical compared with other classical novae.

The evidence so far suggests that the star is double, with one of the components being a white dwarf accreting mass from its partner.

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

The primary peak brightness for classical novae is an absolute magnitude of about -8.8; the observed peak brightness of magnitude 3.3 gives a distance/extinction factor of 12.1 magnitudes. In the absence of extinction (absorption by dust clouds etc), this corresponds to a distance of about 8600 light-years.

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Richard Pennington 1

But not too close to the South Pole

Southward of about 67 degrees south, the Sun becomes circumpolar at about this time of year, so the observer could not see the nova at all.

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Richard Pennington 1

Your article states that "If you're at about 38° S or even closer to the South Pole, you're a chance to see it near the southern cross before dawn.". This figure is incorrect.

The nova's declination is about -59 degrees (i.e. 59 degrees south) so it will just touch the horizon for an observer at about 31 degrees north of the equator (neglecting atmospheric distortions, horizon obstructions, etc.); an observer at the Equator can easily see it. Southward of about 31 degrees south of the equator, the nova becomes circumpolar, so an observer can see it at any time of the night.

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Britain's costliest mistake? Lord Stern defends his climate maths

Richard Pennington 1
Coat

Peer review

After the review, he got his peerage.

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KILO-MACH SONIC BOOM probed in fireball embers of 1572AD SUPERNOVA

Richard Pennington 1
Boffin

Re: Mach 1000

Yes, one significant figure becomes 12 significant figures after conversion...

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What's wrong with Britain's computer scientists?

Richard Pennington 1

Not just the young graduates

The over-50s aren't getting a look in either ... even with a PhD.

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Hackers steal 'FULL credit card details' of 376,000 people from Irish loyalty programme firm

Richard Pennington 1

Given that they apparently held CVV data (a big no-no) and held all the data unencrypted (another big no-no), may I suggest that they should be held liable for any loss sustained by holders of the affected cards?

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Server, server in the rack, when's my disk drive going to crack?

Richard Pennington 1

Resetting the warranty expiry timer

Drives fail shortly after the warranty expires. Vagabondo's drives still had the warranty expiry timer set to 5 years.

I scrapped a laptop last year when its HD failed after 6 years (not replaceable because the design has changed fundamentally in the interim). The spooky thing was that I had cancelled the extended warranty on 18 September, only to have the HD fail totally on 23 September, just 5 days later. How did it know?

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Apple's Oct 22 WORLD-SHAKING San Fran party: New iPads or what?

Richard Pennington 1

Earth-shaking ... or just shaky?

Of course, San Francisco is just the place for an earth-shaking announcement.

How does this one score on the Richter scale?

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Techies with Asperger's? Yes, we are a little different...

Richard Pennington 1

And what about interviews?

As an undiagnosed-but-pretty-certain Aspie, I fully sympathise with most of the Aspie commenters above. I also have problems with sound sensitivity, to the extent that I would stay late at the office so as to get some quiet time to get all the work done.

I, too, went on a course and got some off-scale results on a Myers-Briggs assessment a few years back.

However, having been made redundant a couple of years ago, I ran into another problem. I have a difficulty with job interviews - in normal times I can cope, but in the current economic climate I have been frozen out of the job market for more than two years.

I have about the best possible presentation of Asperger's syndrome (multiple interests, which is unusual, strong mathematical and linguistic performance, and extremely strong academic performance, up to and including a PhD). My IQ is off-scale one way and my EQ off-scale the other way.

My self-assessment is that I am technically very strong but would struggle with either management or sales. Also, I am extremely non-confrontational (so I am prone to being bullied), I do not interview well, and I am prone to near-panic over the telephone.

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Would you hire a hacker to run your security? 'Yes' say Brit IT bosses

Richard Pennington 1

Re: An Experiment for All

Yes, we know. The open WiFi is connected to our honeypot.

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Blighty's great digital radio switchover targets missed AGAIN

Richard Pennington 1

Re: per cent

"Big Company X's share price crashed by 300 per cent. last Friday".

So their shares, previously valued at $10 each, now sell for MINUS $20.

I've known companies like that.

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RSA: That NSA crypto-algorithm we put in our products? Stop using that

Richard Pennington 1
Boffin

"Any one who considers arithmetical methods of producing random digits is, of course, in a state of sin."

Thus said John von Neumann ... who died in 1957.

This is hardly news.

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Now we know why UK spooks simply shrugged at SSL encryption

Richard Pennington 1

It just looks like a black helicopter

It's actually an encrypted tinfoil hat.

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Qualcomm reveals 'Toq' smartwatch

Richard Pennington 1

And on the other hand

To go with a Toq, you need a Tiq.

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Boffin snatches control of colleague's BODY with remote control BRAIN HAT

Richard Pennington 1
Black Helicopters

Re: The trigger finger experiment

And who controls what is typed in the history books?

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Philips' smart lights left in the dark by dumb security

Richard Pennington 1

Remind me ....

How many engineers does it take to secure a lightbulb?

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Terror cops swoop on couple who Googled 'backpacks' and 'pressure cooker'

Richard Pennington 1

Ex-employer

I take it he's not going to be asking his ex-employer for a job reference any time soon.

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US town mulls bounty on spy drones, English-speaking gunman only

Richard Pennington 1

500 feet altitude

What's the reference datum here? If the navigational airspace starts at 500 feet above sea level, then that's below the local ground level.

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Samsung Galaxy S3 explodes, turns young woman into 'burnt pig'

Richard Pennington 1

Electrical fires and water ...

Water isn't very good for electrical fires ... and the innards of a lithium battery aren't very water-friendly either.

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Of mice, the NSA, GCHQ and data protection

Richard Pennington 1
Facepalm

Re: How SWIFT works

Of course, Switzerland isn't in the EU.

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Sunday's night sky to be flooded by MASSIVE SUPERMOON

Richard Pennington 1
Alien

Spontaneous madness ...

How can they tell?

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Pussy galore: Bubble-bath webcam spy outrage

Richard Pennington 1

Re: miaow?

It's cat-speak for Woof.

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Richard Pennington 1
Coat

Re: Friday

More likely, talking lack of pants.

I'm not wearing a coat.

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The bunker at the end of the world - in Essex

Richard Pennington 1
Black Helicopters

Perhaps they should have sold it ...

... via a classified ad.

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Richard Pennington 1
Black Helicopters

Re: Only in Britain...

Not just in Britain ...

On a visit to Washington DC a few years ago, I spotted a car prominently labelled "US Secret Service - Uniformed Division". There is also a turnoff from one of the Baltimore-to-Washington freeways, labelled "National Security Agency - Employees Only".

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Massive EXPLOSION visible to naked eye SEEN ON MOON

Richard Pennington 1
Boffin

Suggestion for the next lunar lander: install a seismometer on the Moon, with capability to beam the results back to Earth.

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British bookworms deem Amazon 'evil'

Richard Pennington 1

Who is Big Brother?

Looks like Lord Sugar with a haircut...

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Kepler continues exoplanet bonanza

Richard Pennington 1
Boffin

Re: If we can detect these planets...

Spotting the radio waves could be problematic as there would be a background noise from the parent star.

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Foot-long slab too big? Microsoft 'has a 7-incher' to stroke

Richard Pennington 1
Joke

A foot-long slab...

... should be called the Subway.

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Google asks Blighty to slave over its Maps for FREE

Richard Pennington 1

Re: Patients?

Only in Wales

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ASA says 'unlimited' broadband can have 'moderate' limits on it

Richard Pennington 1

Re: Funny

As a private individual, if you want to complain about Sky, you should therefore address your complaint to the *marketing departments of Virgin Media and BT*. It's called "leverage".

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Don't buy a Google car: They might stop it while you're driving

Richard Pennington 1

Re: Don't be evil unless there's money to be made by being evil

1 Timothy 6:10

For added irony, Google it.

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LinkedIn password hack sueball kicked to the kerb by judge

Richard Pennington 1

Re: Unsalted hashes

You can be pretty sure that "j67-*^%fg" will be included in the next edition of the table.

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Trekkies detect Spock's Vulcan homeworld ORBITING PLUTO

Richard Pennington 1
Alien

Someone doesn't know their history of astronomy

There has already been a Vulcan (OK, they never managed to find it....)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vulcan_(hypothetical_planet)

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Tennessee bloke quits job over satanic wage slip

Richard Pennington 1
Terminator

07xxx xxx666

I claim to have the Mobile of the Beast

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Disney World slaps pay-by-bonk stalker cuffs on grown-ups

Richard Pennington 1

I went to the Los Angeles Disneyland a few years ago. At the time I had my own personal raincloud which had followed me from Los Angeles to San Francisco and back ... sure enough, it arrived in DIsneyland about half an hour after I did.

One thing about Disneyland in an extended downpour is that there weren't any queues!

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Sandy 'Mary Celeste' Island undiscovered - again

Richard Pennington 1
Mushroom

Google Earth

Google Earth shows a blacked-out area - with obviously pixellated edges - at the position of "Sandy Island". Given that Google Earth uses satellite images, something is obviously amiss.

There is also a strange pinked-out area just NW of New Caledonia (which appears on at least one side to be bounded by barrier islands or atolls).

Icon because that's what happened to some of the atolls in this part of the world.

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Mmm, what's that smell: Coffee or sweat? How to avoid a crap IT job

Richard Pennington 1
Facepalm

Interview Coffee

Many years ago I had an interview at a university spinoff, with free coffee provided. The coffee machine was the sort that started with real beans and a filter. Unfortunately they were less particular about the other ingredients ... have you ever tasted coffee with a couple of teaspoons of salt?

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Richard Pennington 1
Thumb Up

Re: I like the bit

... not to mention referring to coffee as a "perk".

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Scientists find safer way to store hydrogen

Richard Pennington 1
Coat

Re: Testing

"an H-Car *led* the women's marathon at the Sydney Olympics".

So it didn't win. Did the battery run out (after <27 miles)?

I left my coat in the car.

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Santander's banking website craps out

Richard Pennington 1
Headmaster

"an isolated group of personal banking customers"

... who were presumably "isolated" precisely because they couldn't log on to Santander's site.

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