498 posts • joined 28 Jul 2009
Not a new idea...
"Another would be kinetic pellets which shoot out at another satellite."
Salyut 3 had (or so it is claimed) such a mechanism, aka a 23mm autocannon (some sources claim 30mm). And it's a rather coy name for bullets, too.
Pedantry strikes again...
Article: "while Earth-grazers come into our atmosphere at fast, low angles that leave them streaming long tails as they burn up."
Earth-grazers don't burn up. They burn (whence the trails), but they leave the atmosphere before they have time to burn up completely.
Re: Engineers in Parliament
"People who would support evidence-based policies"
Our (your?)(1) experience so far is that evidence-based policy-making tends to result in policy-based evidence-making.
(1) I say "your" because I'm not in Blighty anymore, although I'm disinclined to suggest that the French politicians are any better.
"it does seem to explain why people found the game so unplayable."
I'll admit to being one of the people who actually played this all the way to the end. I fell in holes (but I learned how to do it when *I* wanted to), and I found flowers. Hell, I even found a flower once in a hole that, instead of doing what the flowers normally did, turned into a Yar (protagonist from Yar's Revenge, a sort of pixellated fly) and flew up the screen. And before you ask, no, I couldn't tell you how I did it. That was more than 30 years ago, and I only did it the once, so I have no idea what pattern of activities caused it. Overall, though, I'd say it wasn't such a bad game, aside from being a trifle repetitive (and these days I play MMORPGs, so I can't complain too much about repetitive activites...). And I consequently don't get the way people pile so much hate on this game.
(I also found the dot in the 2600 game Adventure, and carried it to see the Easter Egg.)
Why supply-side / trickle-down failed...
It's easy, really. The version of SSE/TD that is most often attempted by politicians - lower taxes for the rich in the belief/statement that they will spend that money, so everyone lower down the ladder will be better off - fails because of what they spend their money on. Generally (technological wizardry like rocket planes, Challenger Deep-grade submersibles, etc. aside(*)), they spend it on luxury goods *imported* from elsewhere, so when (e.g.) the US government tries this, the American rich buy Italian or German cars, fashion from Italy or France, and so on. Most of the money is *not* seen by those lower on the US ladder because it leaves the country.
(*) Note also that the sort of rich man who finances the technological wizardry, whether from his own funds or via his company, will probably do it even if the government(s) is(are) on a no-SSE/TD schtick, so arguably these guys aren't an exception to the general failure of SSE/TD.
"Now if you'd said it was as big as a WWII fuel oil tender and resupply submarine, I'd have been impressed."
Boats like Surcouf (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_submarine_Surcouf) were bigger... And the idea of a 3000+ ton shark is a bit scary. Now all you need is a way to install the twin 8-inch guns on the shark. That'll beat your poncy lasers any day.
"A North Yorkshire startup called New Wave Energy has come up with a concept to deploy a network of drones at a high altitude to harvest solar and wind energy."
This claim intrigued me, so I checked out their site. No, they don't claim to be trying to defeat the laws of thermodynamics. A flying platform cannot generate enough energy to propel itself by deploying a wind turbine - if it could, that would make it a perpetual motion machine...
Re: Win95 on a 386DX?
"Sounds like what we did to a manager who complained that he didn't have an up to date PC "
Ah, but in my case, he knew very well that it was ridiculously slow, but it was capable of doing some small task (no I don't remember what it was) stuck off in a corner somewhere. He even set it up on purpose...
He worked at a client of the AV firm (that shall remain nameless) that I worked for at the time, and I had to talk to him when I released a new rev of the Win95 on-access scanner that included a timeout while something else happened. The machine was so slow that the process timed out. Fortunately, the timeout was adjustable, so he went away happy because he could stretch it to be long enough.
Re: Win95 on a 386DX?
I once talked to a guy who was running Win95 on a 25MHz 386SX with only 2MB of RAM. (Yes, I know the sysreqs said 4MB, and he knew it, too.) It was apparently a bit slow starting up, but once up, it would stay up and do whatever trivial task he had for it, but it made my software have to have a special timeout adjustment...
"Consider these ideas:
"1 People who buy shares should be forbidden from selling them for five years.
"2 Execs paid with share options should be prevented from vesting them for five years from the award date.
"3 Everybody in the company should be paid with the same share option deal.
"4 Public companies should go private to escape activist investor hell."
Let's consider these in order.
1. Sure, this stops the roller-coaster ride that is the modern stock market, but it also makes getting investment more difficult, because it means you can only access the people willing to hold for the long term, come what may. And that means the pension funds won't buy your stock because they will lack the flexibility to unbuy it when they need to. And the more prudent investors will only invest in sure things because they will be locked in for five years. No, this is a bad idea.
2. (Pedantry) Execs themselves cannot *vest* stock options. In the context of stock options, vesting refers to the process where, usually slice-by-slice, the options become eligible to be *exercised* (that is, eligible to be used to buy (or, in the more general case that isn't applicable here, buy/sell) the relevant shares). Five years might be a bit much for the first slice to vest, but for normal employee stock options, it's common to have to wait at least a year, so I'll put this on in the "open for debate over details" category.
3. I hope you don't mean that literally as it is written, that all employees get N options to buy at price X (variations on X subject to e.g. date of grant and its effect on the opening share price), with N and X being the same for everyone who gets a grant on a particular date - but I suspect that you do indeed mean that. N*X is likely to be small, then. Worth investigating but I suspect this is unworkable.
4. This is already an (effective-against-activist-investors) option for companies that can afford it / afford to borrow for it. It tends to make uninvesting difficult (because there isn't an effective/efficient/orderly market for the shares, aka the shares cease to be a liquid asset). The shares remain an asset for shareholders, but that asset is now hard to sell, and hard to price (because of that hard-to-sell nature).
All in all, these suggestions smell strongly of a (probably unwanted) result that the innocent are punished to make sure the guilty get hit. You know, like copy protection crap on software, which is based on the assumption that any and/or many of the customers are thieves. ("Because any of you *could* be a thief, and lots of you *are* thieves, we will inconvenience *all* of you by forcing you to have to have the original disk in the drive when you run the software, and to have to buy a new copy if you lose your original disk and want to keep running the software.")
It should, but the minutes would probably need to be published immediately after the meeting (so as to establish a priority date), including a list of attendees (so as to establish that the troll had a presence there).
And you're assuming that the patent-invalidation court / hearing would actually pay the slightest mind to these minutes when faced with the moneyed interests of the patent troll (or other grasping interest).
Re: I'd be more impressed if they found gun shot wounds.
"Yeah. I can't help feeling "smoking gun" is not a terribly apt metaphor for a multi-million year old fossil dinosaur bite."
The sub-headline made me think of Existenz, where they had a gun that fired teeth...
Re: Time to rethink
"What about DIrectX 12? Will be it retrofitted to 7 or will it be an 8+ exclusive? You may not need it, or you may..."
I'll observe in passing that DirectX 9.0c remains a strong (the strongest? the only?) contender for the title of most-demanded version in the consumer market - most games I've seen recently list it as the "required" version, sometimes with DirectX 11 as an option... Until this changes, then, I'd say that no, DX12 won't be particularly important. (YMMV in some specialised fields, of course, but that goes without saying.)
Re: The blame game
SD3: Please read the original post more carefully next time. He was saying that blaming Apple / Foxconn is fun, not that making fun of leukemia sufferers is fun.
Re: I'm with French on this
Dude, get it right: le_mot_de_pa€€e
Re: Stated Goals
"The Docklands Light Railway in London is apparently automatic"
The Lille Metro has been fully automatic for longer than the DLR. And unlike the DLR, there are *no* staff on the trains.
It offers trains once a minute during peak times.
"How about those guys that make motorcycle kits? No? Because too few people buy them to make motorcycle kits a thing?"
Might I direct your attention to http://www.tamiya.com/english/products/list/12bike/kit14001.htm , a page with the title "1/12 Motorcycle Series". Plastic model kits of, um, motorbikes.
For a UK vendor of motorbike kits, try http://www.emodels.co.uk/plastic-kits/-c-173_192.html which includes 4 pages of kits including Tamiya and Hasegawa products.
http://www.modelhobbies.co.uk/shop/plastic-model-kits-motorbike-model-kits-c-27_44.html has at least one non-Japanese brand...
So no, I suggest you try again with a different subject area.
"*[In practice of course they don't. Long ago, my brother once had his opinion reproduced in the local paper. I asked him if he had actually said he was impressed upon meeting a former MP (recently elevated to the peerage). He was sure he hadn't.]"
I can confirm this, in a different context. It was 2002 and I was out and about (for reasons that aren't relevant here) in the Weald near Crowborough (which is, in turn, near Tunbridge Wells). I was parked in a lay-by, taking some pictures of the scenery when a bunch of people arrive in one car with another car following them. I got some pictures of the other car as they also took pictures of it (and, more to the point, as they abruptly and bluntly said I shouldn't do so)... As I found out later, the car turned out to be the next year's version of, as I recall it, the Honda Accord, so...
... Auto Express magazine gave me some money for the pictures and wrote up a blurb. The things they had me saying were quite remarkable, and were almost but not quite totally unlike what I had said to the reporter.
Re: I'm not sure
"On the one hand, the retardation of the general driving populace in this country is funny."
This sort of remark makes me think of something I saw one day on the A40 heading east from Oxford toward the London-bound M40 junction. It's a two-lanes-each-way dual carriageway, and on that particular morning, the right lane (the fast one) was crammed full of cars. The left lane featured a tractor well burdened by mowing machinery (not in use at that moment, but travelling at tractor speed). Approaching the tractor in the left lane were a handful of cars valiantly attempting to merge right to pass the tractor. One of them, of course, left it a bit later than the others, and there was a sudden burst of tyre-smoke from all four wheels, and then the car shuddered and there was a spray of assorted fragments from the front of the car and/or the back of the tractor. Car and tractor pulled off the carriageway, and my god he made a mess of the front of his car. (Didn't do the mowing machinery much good either.)
Re: Babcock the Canuck
Let me adjust that:
"North American Nomenclature".
In a certain soggy country north of France, "hockey" is played on grass, and "ice hockey" is played on ice. I don't recall a special term for a hockey-like game played in gymnasiums.
Re: A shame
"It's how we behave afterwards that define our character."
I believe the line you're looking for is this:
Lou Mannheim: Man looks in the abyss, there's nothing staring back at him. At that moment, man finds his character. And that is what keeps him out of the abyss.
Re: Best Ignored
See also http://xkcd.com/937/ for another view on the value of online reviews.
"Tornado Guard: set up alerts for tornadoes in your area. Average 4.9 stars" Sounds good, and wow, 4.9 stars. Let's look at what they said:
"5 stars, great interface, lets me set up loads of alerts"
"5 stars, lots of good features"
"5 stars, superb interface"
"1 star, did not warn me about tornado"
"again no idea where euro is on a uk keyboard"
Wikipedia says that the UK keyboard layout puts € on AltGr+4. I use AZERTY(*), where € sits on AltGr+E.
(*) Because I live in France and it's too much like hard work using different keyboard layouts. Because it's too hard getting UK-QWERTY keyboards over here, I switched over to AZERTY when I moved here back in 2009. AZERTY's main sin is having dead-keys for typing less common accents like circumflex and diaeresis (umlaut to you, Chuckles).
Re: Dense diamond
"Take a fail point yourself. Electron degenerate matter is unable to form any kind of chemical bond (because of the lack of electrons) and therefore unable to crystalise."
Did I mention chemical bonds or crystals? No. I referred to it as a "diamond" (in quotes), meaning a so-called diamond, because various people had called it a diamond, not because I thought it would be even slightly reasonable to call it such a thing.
Re: 5000 times cooler... so simple
Or maybe "5000 times as much coolness". Coolness, when referring to temperature and not to jazz, is measured in reciprokelvins, and the thing that is 5000 times cooler has 5000 times as many reciprokelvins, or 1/5000th of the number of kelvins. "It is at one 5000th of the temperature of the Sun" would be a better way of saying it, but this seems to be another instance of a modern trend, that of using these sort of reciprocal units (coolness is the reciprocal of temperature, slowness is the reciprocal of speed, etc) in comparisons, so that "X is N times slower (cooler, smaller, etc) than Y" means that "Y is N times faster (hotter, larger, etc.) than X", or equivalently that "X is 1/N th as fast (hot, large, etc.) as Y". It's stupid, and it lives in the same house as "twice as hot" - this is often used to mean "at 40degC instead of at 20degC".
Re: Dense diamond
Take a FAIL point, dude. The "new kind of physics" you are seeking hides behind the terms "compact star", "electron degeneracy pressure" and more generally "degenerate matter". You should also take a tour around "Pauli exclusion principle" for a minor diversion and a bit of background.
And yes, the "diamond" is very dense. A white dwarf will have a mass of anywhere from 0.2 to 1.44 times the mass of the Sun, but packed into an object about the size of the Earth.
For more detail than you probably ever wanted to know, check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_dwarf .
And join the "5000 times cooler" sinner in the corner. There's plenty of spare dunce hats.
I'd love to know...
... WTF "5000 times cooler" is supposed to mean.
If it is supposed to mean "surface at 1/5000th the absolute temperature" (the only thing we can actually measure about either its temperature or the Sun's), then it has a surface temperature of 1.1 Kelvin, which is, indeed, pretty cold, but seeing it at that temperature is basically impossible, and anyway the surface is described as being at 3000 K.
If, on the other hand, we follow the 3000 K surface temperature, then the 5000 times cooler idea leads me to accuse the Sun's surface temperature of being around 15 megaKelvin, which is grossly over the mark (around 5800 K). 15 megaKelvin is reasonable for the Sun's core, but that's actually just speculation, and "5000 times cooler" comparing the surface of the white dwarf to the core of the Sun is a highly questionable comparison. (I would normally be a lot more blunt about this analysis, but I'm in a charitable sort of mood today.)
Overall, then, whoever said this is guilty of sins against language and should go sit in the corner with a dunce hat on. For shame!
"These things illicit the same emotions of pity as wearers of bluetooth headsets.. that bad."
Methinks you mean "elicit"(*), but for me it isn't so much pity as a sort of diffuse contempt.
(*) "To elicit" is more or less equivalent to "to provoke", while "illicit" is an adjective meaning not licit, more generally carrying a sense of dodgy dealings.
I guess I'll add this to my list of pairs and triplets of frequently-confused approximately homophonic words, alongside ours/hours, you're/your, their/there/they're, accept/except, affect/effect, lose/loose and a host of others.
Re: Back to the Future
"go back to 70s mainframes IIRC"
I'd have to say you don't RC... Unless 1967 is part of the 70s... ;)
"The assorted slide rules might qualify as such until I get around to building a nice display case for them. Then its a collection. Or a hoard, hanging on the wall."
Back a few years, around 1977, say, I took an open-day type tour round the secondary school where I would be going the following school year. In one of the maths classrooms, they had a (one) (1) slide rule on the wall.
Of course it was six feet long, for demonstrating slide rule technique to twelve-year-olds...
Re: Nice idea
Re: automated trains, or, as suggested, urban mass transit.
Every working day, I ride a fully automatic mass transit system with no on-train staff. There are no drivers, no "close doors" button-pushers, no puke-stoppers, nobody. Occasionally orange-jacket staff will use the trains to move around the system, or green-jacket staff will invade them to hold a ticket inspection party, but they aren't on-train staff in the way you'd normally use the term.
Where am I? Lille, France, which is the first city in the world to use this particular combination of technologies (driverless automatic rubber-tyre people-mover/light metro). The VAL trains mean they can run trains once-a-minute during rush hour.
And they've been doing it since 1983.
"Looks fairly head on since its almost circular"
For impact craters this line of reasoning is more or less complete bulldinkey. Impact craters for all but the shallowest impact angles are round because the crater is caused by an *explosion* whose effects are almost completely independent of the angle of impact.
Unless you are talking about the shot pattern of the array of craters. I'd give you that, sort of.
Re: Triffids - your time has come
"I read the book many years later, which was short, very dated, but alright."
I was amused recently by the thought of the expensive designer flat where Bill and Jo holed up for a while, because it might have cost 2000 pounds in rent for a year, and how that compared to my not-so expensive flat in a village between Oxford and Reading. Well, that and the flat I saw advertised in Finsbury Square (on the City Road north of Moorgate tube) somewhere around 2006. The rent? About 800 a *week*, or more than 41000 pounds a year.
Inflation, gotta love it.
"Secondly, The Pauli Exclusion Principle applies not only to electrons but to all particles."
All *fermions*. Bosons operate under different rules, and in particular are not subject to the PEP.
Re: Move the goalposts
"I have a name given to me at birth - as we all have."
Historically (maybe even now) this wasn't actually mandatory in England. There are still people who have no legal name, just a series of aliases.
Re: Gets worse before it gets better. But who said it'll get better
"Subways would benefit from automation right now because properly designed controls don't fall to sleep and drive twice as fast as conditions allow. Notice I said "properly designed"."
Come to Lille. The Lille Metro has, for *over*30*years*, operated a fully automatic driverless metro service. The driverless nature of the system means that the "headway" of the system (technical language for the spacing between consecutive trains) is one minute at peak times, which is a lot of trains per hour, and beyond the capabilities of human-operated trains. Lille operates the world's first system using VAL (Véhicule Automatique Lèger = Light Automatic Vehicle, originally standing for Villeneuve d'Ascq à Lille) trains, although there are now many such systems in cities around the world.
The headway of a metro / underground / subway system is strongly influenced by the nature of the control system, and automatic systems are always able to have a shorter headway than human-driven systems. The main cost-increasing aspect is the need for gates on the platforms to prevent people falling onto the tracks, as the automatic system cannot see obstacles that have fallen on the tracks.
Re: Hype marketing.
"Call it the 'V8' and Americans will snap 'em up"
Call it the 'V8' and it's tomato juice. "I coulda had a V8."
(Yes, I watched too much American TV in the 1980s...)
"DNT is great in theory, except it was doomed the minute Microsoft decided to make it on by default."
This is either hopelessly naive or hopelessly MS-bashing, more likely both. DNT was doomed the moment it was invented, even before the proposals were first published. The very first time I heard about the idea, I concluded that it was fatuously naive optimism on a scale that is rarely seen anywhere, and nothing in any of the subsequent discussions has inclined me to change that opinion.
Re: kill gazebo with broadsword
"The title, I remember watching a newbie (a term not known then) playing...
"you enter a woodland glade, a slender gazebo stands here.
"> kill gazebo with broadsword
Well, if it had said, "a slender bandstand stands here.", the user probably wouldn't have done it. Two nations divided by a common language and all that... (And let's face it, if you don't know what a gazebo is, you'd be forgiven for thinking, based on the sound of the word, that it is some kind of antelope or something.)
Re: Hold your horses ....
"And before getting excited we should glance at our calendar"
We should also note that Phoronix claims that its piece was written on 30 March...
Re: 沖縄国際映画祭 日本語 メールニュース
"We will now contemplate the awesomeness of having readers of Reg, and Dabbsie in particular, who also read Japanese..."
Speak for yourself. I used Goggle Mistranslate...
EDIT: Although the fact that I recognised 日本語 as being "nihongo" / Japanese-language tipped me off that there was a faint aroma of rattus rattus in the wind...
Re: Seperation of Powers (of thought)
'The technical route expected people to achieve recognition in their subject by research and publishing papers which IIRC reached the top of the tree with the title "World Authority".'
With respect, this is not as enlightened as you think. It imposes an alternative narrow path. Either you become a manager/bureaucrat or you become a publish-or-perish academic. Some of us aren't cut out for either of those paths. What about the third way, simply being very, very good at building software?
Oh, and 'The Soul of a New Machine' was written by Tracy Kidder. Gary Kildall (note two ells) created CP/M and founded Digital Research.
Behind the times...
Title: Domino's Tests Delivery of Pizza by Remote-Controlled Drone: The DomiCopter takes flight
Date: June 12, 2013
Right, then, I'm off.
Re: @ Aaiieeee
"This means when you want them they are usually hidden under something else"
Ah, so pliers are the cockroach of the toolbox then?
Re: no, just no
"but in what way will a turbine function better if it can read the inane tweets of the great unwashed?"
More to the point, perhaps, are some questions that arise from my interpretation, i.e. that the devices can feed *to* social media:
* Why is it necessary for an industrial turbine to tweet?
* What would the said turbine post to facebook?
* Do we have to fit the turbine with a camera so it can post pictures of the plant operators?
* Will the turbines start to post depressive existential poetry?
* If they do, are we allowed to attack them with heavy weaponry?
And don't forget the interesting possibilities offered by consumer-grade toasters that can post upward into enterprise level monitoring systems...
Re: My usual comment...
@ledswinger: *My* electricity supplier quotes 85% nuclear among the list of sources on the bills I get, which puts your numbers into a different light, I'd say.
'Course I live in France, but never mind that. (And no, I'm not French.)
Drinks cabinet (was: Re: Sir)
If you're planning to use the safe as a drinks cabinet, just watch out for Indio and his gang...
Re: simplistic idea
Hmm. Nothing could go wrong here, no, not at all.
I couldn't go abroad for a couple of weeks and forget the password, could I?
"..that's a radial engine, not a rotary engine. Rotary engines don't have pistons."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rotary_engine says you are wrong. Back in the day, people tried all sorts of weird stuff, and in some ways the weirdest was the pre-1920s device called a rotary engine. It had its main use in aviation, and it somewhat resembles a radial engine. The principal difference is that a radial engine's block is bolted to the airframe, and its crankshaft to the propeller, while a rotary engine's block is bolted to the propeller and its crankshaft to the airframe. The result is that the whole engine rotates, whence the name. It suffers two main disadvantages: relative inefficiency at high power levels, and a heavy gyroscopic effect, which outweigh the main advantages - they don't need a separate flywheel because the rotating cylinder blocks act as an effective flywheel, and they are, especially in aviation applications, effectively air-cooled without further work..
More modern applications of the term "rotary engine" refer to pistonless internal combustion engines like the Wankel rotary, and of course a pedantic application of the term would include turbine engines.
And anyway, if you look closely at the website, you'll find that it is an orbital engine, info at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orbital_engine .
Profit and value-add...
"And to the economist the ability to make a profit means that whoever is making that profit must, by definition, be adding value."
Not in all cases. An arbitrageur makes a profit (he wouldn't do it if he didn't think he has a better than even chance of making a profit), but doesn't actually add value. He buys where it is cheap, and sells where it is expensive, but he doesn't modify the stuff he buys and sells.
You might argue about whether he adds value by changing the object from "there" to "here", where "here" is an attribute of value, and "there" is an attribute of 'non-value', but I think that's excessively nit-pickingly pedantic.
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