* Posts by Dave 32

291 posts • joined 22 Jun 2009

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CERN also has a particle decelerator – and it’s trying to break physics

Dave 32
Coat

Re: Breaking physics

Can't say that I've ever inhaled Sulfur Hexafluoride gas, but I have had it injected into my eyeball.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vitrectomy

Dave

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Hell Desk's 800 number was perfect for horrible heavy-breathing harassment calls

Dave 32
Coat

3825

When I was growing up, we had the phone extension of 3825. We couldn't figure out why we kept getting so many obscene phone calls late at night, at least, that is, until a nice young lady called up one afternoon, and told my mom, when she answered the phone, "Did you know your phone number spells F**K?". We had a new extension the next morning.

Dave

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What should the Red Arrows' new aircraft be?

Dave 32
Coat

Fokker Dr.I

If you're going for maneuverability, why not go with a Fokker Dr.I?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fokker_Dr.I

Dave

P.S. There are no originals left, mainly because they're so unstable that they tend to fall out of the sky if the pilot loses attention for a moment. But, that makes them exciting and challenging to fly, as well as great for dog-fighting.

P.P.S. I'm fortunate to have seen the airshow at the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome, back when Cole Palen was still alive and flying some of the planes there:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Rhinebeck_Aerodrome

P.P.P.S I'll get my coat. It's the one with the neck-scarf attached.

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Possible reprieve for the venerable A-10 Warthog

Dave 32

Hacking

See what y'all think of this:

http://www.shtfplan.com/headline-news/a-foreshadowing-of-things-to-come-this-cyberattack-was-initiated-by-the-u-s-government-a-beta-test-done-in-preparation-for-a-false-flag_10242016

Got this from a friend who got it from a state police organization. There are people looking into this, but probably at too low of a level to do any good.

Dave

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BOFH: There are no wrong answers, just wrong questions. Mmm, really wrong ones

Dave 32
Coat

Organophosphate-based Nerve Agents

The appropriate response is: "Yes, but in quantities that fall into the exempt category for reporting."

Dave

P.S. I'll get my coat. It's the one with the bottle of Atropine in it.

P.P.S. And, lest any of you think I'm jesting, I really do have a bottle of Atropine in my coat pocket!

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Security analyst says Yahoo!, Dropbox, LinkedIn, Tumblr all popped by same gang

Dave 32
Coat

IDs

Well, I only have one ID on that list. And, for that one ID that I have, most of the data associated with it is false anyway. Why would anyone enter their real data on a site like that in the first place?

Bad data rulz! ;-)

Dave

P.S. I'll get my coat. It's the one with the fake IDs in the pocket.

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Portsmouth bomb about to be detonated

Dave 32
Coat

Damp Squib

Hey, that sounds like a good project name!

Dave

P.S. I'll get my coat. It's the one with the project specification, with more red ink than black ink, in the pocket.

1
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South Australian mega-storm blacks out whole state

Dave 32
Coat

Resynching generators

I've done it, decades ago, back in engineering school, on devices in the single digit KW class, using techniques mostly out of the 1930s. The concept is rather simple. You adjust the speed of the machine to be the same as the power line. Then, you adjust the voltage of the machine to exactly match the power line (where exactly can be in the milliVolt range, despite a multi-hundred or multi-thousand volt output from the machine). Then, you adjust the phase of the machine so that it exactly matches the power line. And, at just the right moment (because those conditions of matched frequency, phase, and voltage only exist for an infinitesimally small period of time!), you close the main breaker. If you got everything exactly right, and were lucky, the machine locks to the power line, and all is well. If you were unlucky, the breakers pop, possibly explosively. If you were really unlucky, and the breakers fuse, large multi-ton rapidly spinning machines explosively disassemble themselves. You don't want to be in the same building when that happens.

Now, there are automated, computerized devices that assist in synchronizing generators (well, actually, alternators). Those tend to make the process MUCH easier and simpler, when they work. When there's a bit of noise on the line, or harmonic distortion, if can cause things to mismatch, which produces a fail-to-lock scenario, at least until some frustrated low-level person is forced to push the manual override under pressure from upper management to get the thing back on line. In that case, see the previous paragraph about explosive disassembly.

We won't even get into power factor effects, line delays, and harmonic distortion causing difficulties.

The amazing thing isn't that it's so hard to synchronize alternators; the amazing part is that it's possible at all!

Dave

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AT&T tries broadband over power lines again

Dave 32
Coat

Goubau Line

It's old technology (1899, 1907, 1950):

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goubau_line

Dave

P.S. Now, if we could just get beer to flow along the surface of power lines...

2
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BOFH: The case of the suspicious red icon

Dave 32
Coat

Re: Window?

Oh, I don't know about that. The few times that I've pushed a (l)user out of our faux window, which is painted onto the reinforced concrete wall of the basement, it has been quite effective. It does mean that I have to push a little harder, though.

Dave

P.S. I'll get my coat. It's the one with the (saturated) Radon detector in the pocket.

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Is there paper in the printer? Yes and it's so neatly wrapped!

Dave 32
Pint

Unlocked

My story is almost the reverse. I supervised the moving of a 150 person team into a new building. As the only company employee on site at the time, which was over a holiday weekend, I was responsible for the security of the equipment and data being moved into the building. I had a team of about a dozen professional movers working on the actual moving of the equipment (desks, file cabinets, servers, workstations, etc.). They finished about midnight on the holiday. As I was about to exit the building, I noticed that the security/maintenance team had never installed the cores in the locks on the doors. So, here we had just moved about US$1.5M worth of computer equipment into an unlocked/unlockable building. But, all I could do was drop by the security office and give them an earful about the missing lock cores. I wasn't about to sleep through the rest of the holiday weekend in that building.

Dave

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False Northern Lights alert issued to entire UK because of a lawnmower

Dave 32
Pint

Re: Lawnmower man

Lawnmower Man can affect computer systems almost as devastatingly as Vacuum Cleaner Woman (especially when she unplugs the server so that she can plug her vacuum cleaner in). ;-)

Dave

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Don't want to vote for Clinton or Trump? How about this woman who says Wi-Fi melts kids' brains?

Dave 32

McAfee

And, I was pulling for John McAfee, but he lost in the primary election. :-(

Dave

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Cycling paramedics in epic rush to save patient who ate stale sandwich

Dave 32
Pint

Be Careful Out There

Be careful out there, guys and gals. We lost one of our paramedics not too long ago in a tragic traffic accident. The dangers of being on a bicycle must multiply that significantly.

http://www.lex18.com/story/30466581/jessamine-county-paramedic-dies-escorted-home

Dave

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Microsoft's Windows 10 nagware goes FULL SCREEN in final push

Dave 32
Coat

Windows XP

I'm glad I'm still running Windows XP. It does everything that I need, without all the annoying feetchures of the more modern Windows.

Dave

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Bees with numberplates will soon be buzzing around London. Why?

Dave 32

Aphid?!?

You subtitle is wrong:

"Scientists hope Big Smoke inhabitants will plant aphid-friendly flowers"

Aphids are obnoxious little creatures that suck a plant's juices, often killing the plant. They're also referred to as plant lice.

Perhaps you means "api-friendly"?

Dave

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Watch as SpaceX's latest Falcon rocket burns then crashes

Dave 32
Coat

Engines are hard

Rocket engines are nontrivial. Not only do you have white hot pieces of metal trying to contain a high pressure burning fuel, but you also have to ensure that the oxidizer doesn't impact the walls, else it will cause a burn-through. And, that has to be done at any throttle setting. Oh, and you have to make sure that the thing doesn't begin to oscillate in any matter (Think of a whistle.).

Starting a rocket engine is nontrivial, too, since you really need to inject the fuel and oxidizer such that there isn't an explosive mixture present at any time before ignition, else the pressure wave will shatter the thing. Restarting one, especially in space, is even trickier, given that the fuel (and oxidizer) isn't always positioned correctly in the tanks (Consider ullage rockets.). And, restarting multiple rockets engines in space is even trickier, since, if one ignites first, the thrust imbalance may cause a spin or destructive torque on the vehicle.

Thus, I'm amazed that he's had the successes that he has had, and has even come close.

As a friend of mine, who wrote most of the FCS (Flight Control Software) for the Space Shuttles, once said "It is rocket science!".

Dave

P.S. My friend also compared the flight characteristics of the Space Shuttles to a number of uncomplimentary items, such as "A Buick with the doors open", "A garbage truck", or, most commonly, "A flying brick". ;-)

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BOFH: Follow the paper trail

Dave 32
Coat

Pens...

The real secret to preventing people from borrowing your pen is to use a fountain pen. Very few people even know how to use one, and, fortunately, almost all of them know better than to even try (You can tell the very few who do try by the large permanent ink stains on their fingers, clothes, face, etc.).

Dave

P.S. And, yes, I actually do have an inkwell sitting in my cubical. 99+ percent of the people don't know what it even is. ;-)

P.P.S. I'll get my coat. It's the one with the large ink stain on the pocket.

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Dave 32
Pint

Scratch Monkey

I haven't thought about scratch monkeys in years. I actually snorted when I saw that. Well done, sir, well done.

Dave

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Lester Haines: RIP

Dave 32
Pint

Re: Uncle Lester

My deepest condolences from the left side of the pond. He was well respected over here on this side of the planet, too.

Dave

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TWELVE YEARS of US Air Force complaints lost in database crash

Dave 32
Pint

Edward Snowden

Has anyone thought to check with Edward Snowden to see if he has copies?

Dave

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Marauding monkey blacks out Kenya

Dave 32
Mushroom

Re: Huh?

It's called a "Cascading Failure", and we have had experience with it in North America. All it took was for one tiny little tree branch to contact one phase of a electric transmission line, and a very large portion of the northeastern US and eastern Canada went dark, in some areas for up to two weeks. That one transmission line that experienced the fault went off-line. Incorrect network management software didn't spot that failure, and adjacent transmission lines were overloaded while taking on the load of that first transmission line, which caused them to go off-line. As more and more transmission lines overloaded and tripped off-line, power plants started seeing over/under-load conditions, and would go off-line, including a couple of nuclear plants that had the reactors scrammed. Restarting those was a fairly intensive process. And, all because of one tiny little tree branch.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northeast_blackout_of_2003

Dave

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Dell finds liquid cooling tech on eBay, now wants you to buy it

Dave 32
Pint

Water

Mainframes have been water cooled for quite a few decades. I can remember, from back in the 1980s, one of the mainframes had a plumbing elbow fracture (probably due to vibration or temperature cycling causing metal fatigue of the Copper joint). The first indication of a problem was when the people working on the floor below called up to ask why there was water dripping through the ceiling. Uhoh! The next indication of a problem was a CPU over-temperature alarm, and a subsequent automatic shutdown of the machine. The service tech showed up a few minutes later, and replaced the plumbing elbow. Everyone was really dreading the need to replace the CPU, which, at that time, was going for about US$50K! Fortunately, when the machine was powered back up, it started working normally, and did so for quite a few more years until it was finally retired.

Part of the trick is that you install the CPU, motherboard, and chiller such than any condensation/leakage/etc., drips down away from the electronics, not on to them (e.g., install the stuff "upsidedown"). Next, put a drip tray under the motherboard, with an appropriate drain in it to drain any drips out of the system and into a drain.

For those cases where you absolutely cannot use water, the alternative is Fluorinert. However, make very sure that you're sitting down before you see the price.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fluorinert

Oh, yeah, you can breathe the stuff, too. ;-)

Dave

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Norks' parade rocket fails to fly, again

Dave 32
Pint

Re: Parade rockets

> To be fair I doubt anyone thinks it's a good idea to wheel a fully armed warhead through the streets.

No, it's a much better idea to load them on accident prone aircraft and fly them overhead. ;-)

Dave

P.S. I'll get my coat. It's the one with the Potassium Iodide tablets in the pocket.

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Dave 32
Mushroom

Ah, that would be a "Broken Arrow" incident. We've had enough experience with them on this side of the pond:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_military_nuclear_incident_terminology#Broken_Arrow_incidents

As for programming language, that would presuppose the use of a computer on board the rocket. Is there any evidence that the rocket has such a computer? Or, is it the ultimate in "fire and forget" type of a rocket (as in, once you fire it, you can forget about it, because you're not going to have any control over it anyway!). ;-)

Dave

P.S. My father-in-law was very close to the impact point for that first Broken Arrow. And, I have a friend who was quite close to the Goldsboro incident (close as in "would have been in the blast radius"). And, that one came perilously close to going off. For that matter, the Damacus incident was a little too close for comfort, although, really, all of them have been.

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Microsoft's Windows Phone folly costs it another billion dollars

Dave 32
Pint

Re: As a consumer - 2 key issues ...

>(cf.IBM - can you still run VM/360 code on a iSeries ?)

Not an iSeries, but a zSeries. And, it's VM/370 code, since the S/360 didn't support virtual storage (well, excepting for the S/360 model 67, which was a bit of a strange beast, and for that hardware hacked model 40 that the Cambridge Scientific Center had, which was a one-off beast). But, yeah, for application mode code, you can (The privileged instructions aren't necessarily the same, but the non-privileged instructions mostly are upwards compatible.).

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Google-backed solar electricity facility sets itself on fire

Dave 32
Flame

Re: Is it just me?

> I'd love to have a little sun-steam generator (if only there were enough sunshine here).

Do a Google search on "solar stirling engine". They're somewhat common, although the commercial versions are not necessarily cheap; however, I have seen some Do-It-Yourself plans for them.

Dave

P.S. Then, you, too, can set fire to things with a misaligned mirror!

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Dave 32
WTF?

Archimedes' Laser

> Or, going back to Archimedes, charging up the satellite-mounted laser.

Archimedes had a laser? And a satellite? Do please tell us more! ;-)

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Boffins flip the unflippable: Meet the latest storage extender contender

Dave 32

Hematite

So, is anyone playing with the magnetic properties of Hematite?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hematite#Magnetism

Dave

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UC Davis chancellor suspended after headlines like this one undo $175,000 online name-scrubbing efforts

Dave 32
Devil

> When will those in any form of authority ever learn?

Yeah, just ask Richard Nixon. Trying to cover up for his bungling buddies cost him the presidency.

Oh, wait, you can't ask him; he's dead (Well, I suppose you could still ask him, but if he answers, well, we will all have MUCH larger problems...).

Dave

0
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Google Loon balloon crash lands in Chile

Dave 32
Pint

Balloons

So, let's see, the American National Weather Service (NWS) operates a total of 102 radiosonde launch sites in North America, and each of these sites launches two weather balloons with radiosondes each day. That's a total of 204 balloon launches PER DAY. When's the last time anyone heard of any damage from one of these things coming down?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Weather_Service#Upper_air_observations

Of course, larger payloads have a larger chance of damage. I've heard of some balloon operators who suspend a audible beeper on their payloads so that any humans or animals on the ground can hear the thing coming down (via parachute) and get out of the way. The beeper also makes it easier to locate and recover the payload.

Manned balloonists typically would carry a bottle of champagne with them, to placate the farmer whose field their balloon landed in (I was once part of an impromptu landing crew for a manned balloon.).

Dave

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BOFH: Thermo-electric funeral

Dave 32

Re: as if owning IT antiquity was one of those positive character traits

Darned young whippersnappers. What's the use of having a memory device if you can't see the memory bits? So, I keep one of these things around:

http://pw1.netcom.com/~wa4qal/core.jpg

For you youngsters that don't recognize it, it's the magnetic core storage plane out of an IBM System/360 model 65 processor, vintage about 1965 or so. Should still have data in it (Probably OS/360).

But, for when the electricity goes out, and you really need to do computing, I have this device to fall back to:

http://pw1.netcom.com/~wa4qal/abacus.jpg

Who says an IBM machine needs electricity to work?

http://pw1.netcom.com/~wa4qal/abacusfr.jpg

Dave

P.S. I don't live totally in the stone-age. I have a USB flash key. I think it holds 16 MB. Oh, and I also have a stack of IBM 5081 devices (Google them if you dare!).

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Linux command line mistake 'nukes web boss'S biz'

Dave 32
Mushroom

Format C:

Who amongst us hasn't typed "FORMAT C:" and then replied yes to the prompt without realizing that we had meant to type "FORMAT A:"? I certainly have. Whoopsie. Spent the next day rebuilding the system. And, yeah, I've also did variants of that on just about every other system I've ever used at one time or another (e.g., "FORMAT 191".). When you've been dealing with computers for close to 40 years, you have had a LOT of opportunities to make mistakes.

However, this also goes to show the silliness of only having one backup. A true IT professional knows that you never only have one backup. What happens if you have a file system error part way through the backup process, such that the original file system is wiped out, and the backup is corrupted? (And, this is coming from a guy who managed to wipe out 400 man-years of data, due to a disk crashing part way through a database compression!!! Felt like tossing my cookies when that disk error appeared. Fortunately, had another backup that saved my bacon. Whew!).

For the truly paranoid, one should ask themselves if their data will be safe if the technician down the hall accidentally denotes that nuclear warhead that he's fiddling with in the building.

Dave

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Astroboffin discovers exoplanet by accident ... in 1917

Dave 32
Coat

IBM 5081 Devices

I keep all of my critical data on IBM 5081 devices.

Dave

P.S. I'll get my coat; It's the one with the pockets full of chad.

0
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The Register to publish Mindful Sysadmin adult colouring book

Dave 32
Pint

Darn

I was ready to order a couple of copies.

Dave

0
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Reddit's warrant canary shuffles off this mortal coil

Dave 32
Coat

NSLs and the First Amendment

NSLs violation of the First Amendment are being battled out in court, but the case is still somewhat up in the air:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_security_letter

Plus, we won't know for sure until an appeal reaches the Supreme Court.

Dave

P.S. I'll get my coat; it's the one with the mail order law degree in the pocket.

3
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Dodgy software will bork America's F-35 fighters until at least 2019

Dave 32
Flame

Idea

Hey, why not convert the carriers over to handling Zeppelins? Those won't require a catapult, nor arresting wires. And, those Zeppelins were somewhat effective in the World War I.

Dave

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Wait! Where did you get that USB? Super-stealthy trojan only drives stick

Dave 32
Unhappy

Mass Storage

Don't forget that one of the benefits of the USB system is that a particular device can choose to appear as a Mass Storage Device, or a Keyboard, or a Mouse, or a temperature sensor, or .... For that matter, a sufficiently adept hacker can probably make a single device appear as any of these. So, that USB flash drive you plug in very well may act as a keyboard, and start "typing" commands into the system, even if Autorun is turned off.

Dave

P.S. Ohoh, now I've gone and given some d*mned hacker an idea. :-(

6
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Canuck named as next UK privacy watchdog

Dave 32
Thumb Up

Not a Stuffed Shirt

It looks like she's not just a stuffed shirt; she's not pulled any punches in Canada:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Highway_of_Tears_murders#B.C._government_email_scandal

Dave

P.S. Even if she isn't a stuffed shirt, she is remarkably cute. :-)

1
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What to call a £200m 15,000-tonne polar vessel – how about Boaty McBoatface?

Dave 32
Pint

RRS Davy Jones?

RRS Davy Jones?

0
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Uncle Sam's boffins stumble upon battery storage holy grail

Dave 32

Prussian Blue

I wonder what will be evolved in the event of a fire in that Prussian Blue battery? Remember that Prussian Blue is the nice name for Ferric FerroCyanide. Someone should at least ask the question.

Dave

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Amazon kills fondleslab file encryption with latest Fire OS update

Dave 32
Unhappy

Drat!

Just got one for Christmas. Price was right. Functionality just went down the toilet, though. :-(

0
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Spanish cops discover illegally parked flying car

Dave 32
Happy

On this side (left) of the pond, MIT is famous for various pranks:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hacks_at_the_Massachusetts_Institute_of_Technology

Dave

3
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Google wants new class of taller 'cloud disk' with more platters and I/O

Dave 32

Disks

There are all sorts of variations possible.

Consider, for example, a disk with 12 platters instead of the more normal number (3?). Now, that many R/W heads (23 or 24) will be a lot more massive than the 5 or 6 heads for a three-plattered disk, which would either require a strong drive mechanism, or slower access. But, who says that all 24 heads have to be controlled from the same actuator? Group 6 heads together in a group, and put four actuators around the disk. Now the drive mechanism can be the same, along with the same speed, as for the smaller disk, but you have four times the capacity out of the disk.

There used to be disks with multiple heads per platter surface. These could produce faster access by reducing the wait time for the desired sector to pass under a R/W head.

There also used to be disks with fixed-mounted heads. These were mainly useful for paging applications, and areas where extremely fast access was required to a limited amount of data.

And, may other variations were done historically.

0
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How one of the poorest districts in the US pipes Wi-Fi to families – using school buses

Dave 32
Pint

Re: How does the driver get home?

I'm guessing that the driver drives their private car to where the bus is parked, makes the bus trip, deposits the bus back at the trailer park, and then takes their private car back home.

Or, maybe some of the bus drivers live in the trailer parks?

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This is why copy'n'paste should be banned from developers' IDEs

Dave 32

Temporary Fix

Not too many years ago, I was doing some maintenance on a compiler, and came across a comment which stated:

/* The following two lines are a temporary fix for the xxxxxx problem 11 September 1971*/

I wisely decided that a temporary fix that was old enough to drink legally wasn't one that I wanted to touch. As far as I know, that temporary fix still exists!

Dave

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Dave 32
Pint

IEFBR14

For a real howler, look up the story of IBM's IEFBR14 routine. Nuff said.

0
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Hackers mirror 250GB of NASA files on the web

Dave 32
Black Helicopters

Eyewashing

So, is this just another version of "Eyewashing" that the hackers fell victim to? Sounds awfully convenient for them to find machines with root/root access.

http://www.businessinsider.com/cia-distribtues-false-memos-to-deceive-its-own-workforce-2016-2?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=referral

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Did water rocket threaten Brum airport Airbus?

Dave 32
Devil

Re: Extreme water rocket

I had a buddy, who owned a welding shop, and was carrying an Oxygen cylinder down a flight of concrete stairs into the shop. It slipped as he neared the bottom, and the bottom step sheared off the valve. That cylinder shot across the shop (narrowly missing one of the workers), and then smashed through a six inch thick poured concrete wall, before embedding itself some distance into the adjacent hillside!

Dave

P.S. Ohoh. Now, we've done it. There will be a rash of out of control Oxygen cylinders in the news now.

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Criminal records checks 'unlawful' and 'arbitrary' rules High Court

Dave 32

Time Travel?

"Among the claimants was a woman identified only as P, who was charged with shoplifting a 99p book in August 1999. After failing to attend her appearance before a Magistrates' Court 18 days later, she was summarily convicted of a second offence under the Bail Act 1976.

In November 1990, she was given a conditional discharge in respect of both offences."

So, she was discharged 9 years before the offenses? Cool! ;-)

Dave

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