* Posts by Steve the Cynic

536 posts • joined 28 Jul 2009

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Here's how the missile-free Royal Navy can sink enemy ships after 2018

Steve the Cynic

Re: lack of stealth ?!

"+1 for the Mosquito. I bet it could be made to work. The thing is probably even strong and solid enough to mount a few modern weapons systems."

Well, don't forget the "Tsetse", a Mosquito built with a 57mm anti-tank gun. (Officially, and boringly, designated "Mosquito FB Mk XVIII".)

After the war, apparently, they tried something ... larger ... , the Ordnance QF 32 pounder, a 96mm weapon equipped with a novel form of muzzle brake, firing 32-pound AP shells at 877 m/s. They built one, and flew it, and even fired live rounds from it without problems. Then they scrapped it. (I hear a familiar refrain...)

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Sysadmin figures out dating agency worker lied in his profile

Steve the Cynic

Re: Enter == submit

If the user had learned touch typing, he wouldn't have been looking at the keyboard. (I can mostly touch-type, and have learned to do it on AZERTY as well as QWERTY keyboards. My late wife learned it at school, and tested one time at nearly 100 wpm. She could accurately transcribe documents while looking only at the document, and not at either the screen OR the keyboard.)

And yes, I remember back in the day using an IBM 3278 terminal, with the Return key going to the next field and the Enter key submitting the screen.

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UK's new Snoopers' Charter just passed an encryption backdoor law by the backdoor

Steve the Cynic

Re: Dad

"The masses may riot, but they will NOT rise."

Eric Blair wrote a book about that, published in 1948. 'Course he didn't write it under that name, and his timescale was a bit short, but one important observation in /1984/ was that the proles would never rise. The masses you mentioned *ARE* the proles he was talking about.

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BOFH: The Hypochondriac Boss and the non-random sample

Steve the Cynic

"I always wondered what MCP stood for"

Master Control Program, duh.

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It's time: Patch Network Time Protocol before it loses track of time

Steve the Cynic

'Course NTP is important. Especially if...

Well, like one place I worked around 2000. For ... reasons(1) ... we used SourceSafe. (Yeah, I know, Mistake Number One)

As you may or may not know, a SourceSafe repository is just a bunch of files on a network share somewhere. Events in the history, therefore, have timestamps based on the only possible time standard: client workstation clocks.

And, of course, the placement of a label is strictly 100% based on timestamps.

OK, we're almost there.

A spate of weird build failures (specifically, that official builds didn't pick up new code commits) was eventually traced to a time sync discrepancy between client workstations where we did our commits and the build-launcher machine that would create a label for the build. Relative to (some of) the client workstations, the build machine was about five minutes in the past, so it inserted the label "earlier" than the commits even though in wallclock time, the commits were made first.

We installed NTP software (Tardis on Win2000/WinXP) on all the machines, and this problem went away.

(1) All I'll say here is "reasons". I'm specifically denying that they were good reasons.

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Steve the Cynic

Firewalls? You have firewalls?

Heretic.

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Swedish prosecutor finally treks to London to question Julian Assange

Steve the Cynic

Re: Bah!

"a short custodial sentence for jumping bail and fleeing the country"

Well, no. Jumping bail, I'll let you have, but he's still *in* the UK.

The Unreliable Source informs us that the interior of an embassy remains part of the territory of the host country, although the host country may not send representatives into the embassy without permission, even to, for example, fight a fire.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diplomatic_mission section "Extraterritoriality".

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MPs want Blighty to enforce domestic roaming to fix 'not spots'

Steve the Cynic
Joke

Re: That's rather unfair

"forces networks to provide the coverage the same as is currently in place with Royal Mail"

So your first-class data packets are delivered probably tomorrow if the destination is in the UK? Or you can spend twenty times as much for it to be almost(1) definitely delivered tomorrow instead of just probably?

(1) On one memorable occasion, I sent something to a guy in Belfast from near Oxford by Special Delivery post, and it took a week to get there. This was a guy who, when I phoned him about the item, mentioned in his broad Belfast accent that his place looked like a bomb had gone off. Seriously. He did comment on how that must have sounded.

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NYSE halts trading in Violin Memory shares

Steve the Cynic

Fussy point: The OTC market is a *market*, not an *exchange*. (For a long time, NASDAQ did not meet the regulatory requirements for being an exchange either.) OK, it's a technical vocabulary (jargon) thing, but the SEC will jump up and down on you if you say, in material for shareholders, that you are listed on an exchange and it turns out to be any sort of OTC listing.

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Despite best efforts, fewer and fewer women are working in tech

Steve the Cynic

Re: Yup, women are smarter.

@Prst. V.Jeltz

"sombody made those 8080s in 74 - but this was around the time that industry experts were saying things like " there will only ever be a need four 4 computers on the planet" and suchlike - so not everyone had to learn them . it was only literally about 1995 when computers appeared in the houses of "normal people" for the purpose of doing stuff OTHER than pissing around with a computer"

Your timescales are a little off. The four-computers thing was Thomas J Watson, chief of IBM, speaking in *1943*, when working stored-program computers were still five years in the future, and he actually said "five", not "four".

And I would contest the 1995 figure as well, although the discrepancy there is more like five or six years, and depends a little on how exactly you define the edges of "pissing around with a computer". I myself used a (home) computer in 1984 as what amounted to an advanced form of typewriter (Scripsit on a TRS-80 Model III), although I wouldn't class my family as "normal people" in this context.(1)

(1) My mother worked as a programmer at LEO in the 1960s, and my father worked all his career in what amounts to IT support, sometimes outsourced, sometimes in-house. When some of the last LEO IIIs to be decomissioned were finally turned off in the late 70s, the aluminium honeycomb side panels from the racks made their way into our house as floor panels for the loft.

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Trump vs. Clinton III - TPP looks dead, RussiaLeaks confirmed

Steve the Cynic

My first thought...

" no fewer than 17 civilian and government intelligence agencies point the finger to Kremlin interference in the election"

When I read this, my first thought was that Senator Johnny Iselin had a list of 57 known communists in the State Department. Make of that what you will.

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GPS spoofing can put Yik Yak in a flap

Steve the Cynic

Re: Oh

Well, I looked it up in the Unreliable Source, and I found this interesting paragraph:

"An update in August of 2016 in which the app mandated the use of profiles and removed anonymity was not well received by the user base, and it now has a "1 star" rating on the iOS App store."

So I'd suggest that it is, indeed, no longer a thing.

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Do AI chat bots need a personality bypass – or will we only trust gabber 'droids with character?

Steve the Cynic

Re: by answering more questions

"Hmm, should that be "questioning more answers"? It is "Jeopardy", after all. I guess I'll have to leave it to the AI to decide which is more correct..."

I'll have to admit to having seen enough Jeopardy to know that this is, indeed, the right response.

For the unaware: Jeopardy is a quiz-format gameshow much like any other, with the twist that the questions given by the host are phrased as simple statements, while the contestants must phrase their answers as if they were asking questions.

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Nuke plant has been hacked, says Atomic Energy Agency director

Steve the Cynic

Re: "Try finding a virus that would both be capable of infecting a PDP-11"

I remember a conversation by email with my brother from ... oh ... at least 15 years ago now ... concerning his job writing an emulator to allow PDP-11 code to run on PCs of some sort.

And I, too, wrote PDP-11 code back in the day. In assembler, too. Uni course with the final project organised as a competition to see which of the four groups could get the best aggregate score for a sort of jigsaw-solving algorithm(1). The score was an aggregate based on memory used and time taken.

My group won the competition with the best time *and* the smallest program. Two other groups were close behind, while the fourth trailed far, far behind because they wrote a chunk of the code in Pascal, producing a result that used prodigious amounts of CPU time *and* memory.

(1) N by M puzzle, each piece was four integers to represent the four edges of the piece. A zero meant an edge piece, while a pair of zeros meant a corner. Two pieces were correctly adjacent if there was a particular arithmetic relationship between the numbers. The pieces were all aligned correctly (no rotation was needed), but arranged in no particular order.

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Command line coffee machine: Hacker shuns app so he can stay at the keyboard for longer

Steve the Cynic

Re: Why aren't they following the standards ?!

And he hasn't used avian carriers either.

https://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc1149.txt

(I know the numbers of two different RFCs by heart. One is 7112, a deeply boring blither about IPv6 fragmentation as it applies to extension headers. The other is Avian Carriers.)

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Microsoft disbands Band band – and there'll be no version 3

Steve the Cynic

I agree. All I meant was that the whole "Mice By Microsoft" thing is still going, so they don't count as "defunct".

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Steve the Cynic

Other items for the list of defunct Microsoft hardware:

* I won't include the old mice because there are still new mice.

* I won't include the various Xboxes and controllers because there are still new ones

* I will include Mach 20. Read a teeny bit about it here: http://www.pcmag.com/slideshow/story/300240/the-secret-history-of-microsoft-hardware/10

* I will include Microsoft's very first hardware products, expansion cards for the Apple II. A couple are mentioned here: http://www.applelogic.org/PeripheralCards.html

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These diabetes pumps obey unencrypted radio commands – which is, frankly, f*%king stupid

Steve the Cynic

Re: Pumps have many challenges, security is certainly one.

And I haven't seen a syringe that size in a *very* long time.

And it wasn't an injection syringe, but a blood sample syringe, when I was first diagnosed with Type I diabetes in 1981. (At the age of 15, mind.)

For a while, I had a glass-walled syringe for injections (and a need to divide doses by two because it was for 20-U insulin and I had 40-U). The one in Pulp Fiction looks sort of similar.

Then I changed to 100-U insulin with 100-U syringes, which are skinny disposable plastic things, very vaguely similar, except much thinner and a bit shorter, to the one in the picture.

These days I use "pens" - pre-filled cylinders with screw-on disposable needles. Twist the cap to select the dose, push the protruding tube (that wound out as you twisted the cap) to inject. They are thicker than the disposable syringes, but *still* thinner than the syringe in the picture.

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Unlucky Luckey: Oculus developers invoke anti-douchebag clause, halt games for VR goggles

Steve the Cynic

:puzzled: What other kind of boycott did you think existed? :puzzled:

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BOFH: I found a flying Dragonite on a Windows 2003 domain

Steve the Cynic

Re: Not funny

"the GPO"

I saw this and had one of those moments where my brain seizes up. WTF does the General Post Office have to do with 21st Century IT?

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Patent trolls, innovation and Brexit: What the FT won't tell you

Steve the Cynic

"we can get rid of UK governments at regular intervals"

Pedantry strikes again! The intervals are not fixed. They are capped at five years, but they can be shorter. They are usually only a bit shorter than five years, but in 1974 we had two general elections in one year.

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Steve the Cynic

Re: Few problems with this....

"the US patent application was duly dismissed by the EPO as illegitimate"

I read this as meaning "The application in the EU by the US firm was duly dismissed by the EPO".

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Sophos U-turns on lack of .bat file blocking after El Reg intervenes

Steve the Cynic

Re: Hang on a second

"No, it doesn't. NTFS has ACLs, and Cygwin uses them to emulate POSIX permissions."

Well, when you look at the permissions on an ACL, there is one marked something along the lines of "executable". (On my system, whatever it actually says has been replaced by a French word ...)

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Steve the Cynic

Re: Hang on a second

"Like all Un*x variants OSX has an Executable bit in the permissions for a file"

Two bits of pedantry for you.

1. The executable bit is a property of the file system type, not the operating system.

2. NTFS has one, too.(1)

(1) I didn't know this either, until I did something unusual with Cygwin and ended up with a .EXE that could not be executed because it didn't have the Executable permission...

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Why does an Android keyboard need to see your camera and log files – and why does it phone home to China?

Steve the Cynic

Re: Why have 50 million people downloaded it?

"Is that not what the Darwin awards are for?"

They are only for *fatal* stupid. And even they don't *fix* stupid.

Side note: Many of the incidents that lead to people being shortlisted for the Darwin Awards are linked to an apparently innocuous molecule sometimes called methylcarbinol.

You or I know it by its full "scientific" (i.e. IUPAC systematic) name, ethanol. A distressingly large fraction of DA winners (and even runners-up and mere Honourable Mentions) were drunk to a lesser or, more frequently, greater extent.

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Space exploration: Are Musk and Bezos about to eclipse Gagarin and Armstrong?

Steve the Cynic

Re: Back to the Future

"considering a woman tall because she is four inches short of his six-foot height"

Even today, when people are taller than back then (better nutrition, duh), five feet eight inches is taller than average for British women.

And yes, novels often reveal much of their era. Day of the Triffids gives away the time it was written in an assortment of silly things:

* Bill Mason acquires half-tracks to move stuff. Good luck finding one these days outside a military museum.

* Bill and Jo stay for a while in a fantastically expensive flat, one whose rent totals *2000* pounds a year. I noticed this one when I reread the book in 2006/7, where 2000 pounds would have rented my flat for less than three months, and it wasn't really that expensive.

* There are significant stocks of food in shops.

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Pastejack attack turns your clipboard into a threat

Steve the Cynic

Re: Dangerous

"Then I remembered trying to get Linux to work. Everything's fine, and each time you try it it looks like they really have made it into a functional OS this time that one could get day to day work done on, and then you run into that essential piece of hardware you need, that simply won't function, but it's kindof like this other one, so maybe if you download this development software and a compiler you could compile your own driver and get it working."

I had something like this with Linux. ONCE.(1) And it was nearly 20 years ago. Since then, real hardware or not, I have had no such problems.

(1) OK, I'll tell you, since you insist. It was a PCMCIA Ethernet card, allegedly an NE2000 clone, by some cheap-ass Taiwanese outfit. The laptop in question, on a different hard disk, ran Windows 98SE, and that OS was perfectly(2) happy with the card. The relevant driver code in the Linux kernel checked the device IDs and such, realised that it was talking to that particular card, and refused to have anything to do with it as the silicon was too buggy for words. The conflict between the two attitudes was a bit startling.

(2) Well, no, probably not perfectly happy. More likely "sufficiently" happy. Better?

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US work visas for international tech talent? 'If Donald Trump is elected all bets are off'

Steve the Cynic

Re: "We'll see how well that goes"

"And then there's the inflatable tank, which helped the US save Europe's ass again in WWII"

Do you, here, mean DD (Duplex Drive) tanks?

They were a British invention... (Fussy: the inventor was Hungarian, living and working in Britain.)

Yes, the most successful DD tank was the Sherman - it was able to keep its gun pointing forward with the floatation screen up, while the British Valentine could not - but the DD system wasn't American in origin.

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A cracked window on the International Space Station? That's not good

Steve the Cynic

Re: Kessler Syndrome

In general, there would be a range of speeds and directions among the debris. Some would be steeply enough pitched and/or slowed enough to go deep enough into the atmosphere to be deorbited quickly. Others would, as you say, be faster than local circular-orbit speed, *but* from LEO circular-orbit speed to escape speed(1) is an increase of something like +50%, so actual escapes are unlikely.

So there would be a wide range of debris scattered "forward" from the collision (except in the case of a retrograde-prograde(2) impact, where all bets are off, but there would be a significant loss of speed), and some fraction of this debris would be at non-zero orbital inclinations and/or orbital eccentricities, and so would cross/touch the existing equatorial plane at significant delta-V and pose a significant risk to other satellites.

And yes, there have been collisions between satellites where the debris was tracked afterwards.

(1) It's a speed, not a velocity. Unless the path in a particular direction actually intersects the primary or some other orbiting body, it doesn't matter which direction an object that exceeds the escape speed travels - it *will* escape.

(2) Prograde: revolving(3) in the same direction that the primary rotates. Retrograde: revolving in the opposite direction to the one in which the primary rotates. A retrograde-prograde collision, then is head-on or close to it, and takes place at a much higher closing speed than a same-grade collision.

(3) Revolve: said of orbiting bodies, and describes their motion around the primary. Rotate: said of bodies in general, and describes their motion around their own axis.

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Bitcoin is an official commodity, says US gummint

Steve the Cynic

Re: Bitcoin discovers can't have cake and eat it

"Money has always been intangible"

Go back and reread your history lessons. Modern *fiat*(1) currencies, by definition, are intangible, and coins and notes are just physical representations, as you say, but of the currency, not a commodity.

However, historically, either the physical coins and notes were representations of a tangible good - the "I promise to pay the bearer on demand the sum of five pounds" meant, historically, five pounds of silver, at a time when a pound coin was made of a pound of .925 ("sterling") silver, or they *were* the good in question. The silver in that pound coin (there are examples in a museum in the centre of Oxford - it is an effing big coin) *is* the currency, not a representation of the currency.

It is only later that people started to make exchangeable currency, where the physical currency represents a quantity of the relevant commodity (silver, gold, blocks of salt, cowrie shells, future tax revenues, whatever) rather than being the commodity, and it is only much later still that we finally abandoned that idea.

Much later.

Like, try 1971.

(1) The phrase "modern fiat currencies" contains a redundant element. All modern currencies are fiat.

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West's only rare earth mine closes. Yet Chinese monopoly fears are baseless

Steve the Cynic
Trollface

Re: Bad luck Estonia

Often you'll find that in US usage, "Western Hemisphere" really means "North America"...

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French Uber bosses talk to Le Plod over 'illicit activity' allegations

Steve the Cynic

Re: Banning Uber reduces you to third-world status.

"driven by people who [...], and rely 100% for navigation on a cheap satnav."

Some years back, I spent a series of weekends in and around Brum, getting trains up there, and taxis to get around. So far, so good, except that on trips where I wasn't going to obvious places, it was difficult to get a taxi driver who had even heard of the destination.

Then on one trip, I got in a cab driven by an older Irish bloke, and his response to my question was enlightening. I asked him if Brum had a Knowledge, because the other taxis I had had before that didn't show any sign of it. He said that yes, there is a Knowledge in Brum, and he had passed it properly many years before. Most of the drivers, he said, were [South Asians] who would take the Knowledge repeatedly until they remembered enough to pass it and get their taxi license. And that meant that for practical purposes that there were very few taxi drivers who actually knew where much of anything was, and as this was before the widespread distribution of easy satnavs, getting them to take you anywhere except between the New Street station and the main hotel strip was a, um, challenge.

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Apple Watch fanbois suffer PAINFUL RASH after sweaty wristjob action

Steve the Cynic

Re: In fact, warning does make sense

"Peanuts are a legume, not a nut,"

This is true, or not true, depending on whether you are talking to a botanist or a chef.

In botany, peanuts are, indeed, legumes and not nuts. A whole bunch of things we call nuts are not nuts from the botanical point of view, just as strawberries aren't berries, but grapes, tomatoes and oranges are.

In cooking, however, most of those things we call nuts are nuts, and some berries, e.g. tomatoes, aren't even fruit.

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BBC gives naked computers to kids (hmm, code for something?)

Steve the Cynic

"with the hope of inspiring them to learn programming or (perhaps more politically correct) coding."

You lot all know that they use the words "coding", "coder" etc. as a means of diminishing the significance of what programmers do, don't you?

Think about it.

Which sounds more important / more valuable / more skilled / more expensive to hire, a "coder", a "programmer", a "developer"? My vote *ISN'T* on a "coder".

Which of those three sounds more trivial, more unskilled, more interchangeable, etc.? This time my vote is *DEFNINTELY* on a "coder".

Which do you want to be?

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SCREW you, GLASSHOLES! Microsoft unveils HoloLens

Steve the Cynic

Re: Hope they truly work

"This has been the case since they first got into the HW business (which is when no-one would make a keyboard with a Windows key on it for them, I beleve)."

You believe wrongly, unfortunately. Microsoft's first hardware product was an expansion card for the Apple II, released in 1980. And even if you restrict it to PC-compatible hardware, their mice date back to before the Windows-key keyboards, and the Mach20 board does as well.

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FERTILISER DOOM warning! PESKY humans set to WIPE selves out AGAIN

Steve the Cynic

Re: More interesting than "The Big AI fear", but....

"Internal Combustion Engine"

Um, the internal combustion engine in some form was invented long before 1914. Even if we concentrate on the thing we recognise as an internal combustion engine (i.e. an Otto cycle reciprocating engine), we still find working engines produced in the last quarter of the 19th century. Even gas turbines predate this "critical" date of 1914 - the very first working models were produced in the 1903-1906 time frame, although they were unusably inefficient.

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

Usual caveats about Wikipedian accuracy apply.

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Sacre block! French publishers to sue Adblock maker – report

Steve the Cynic

Re: "Les cochons vouloir de l'argent!"

@Neoc: Yes, indeed, it should. But the general standard of French in the sub-headlines on this august site is, um, not as high as it could be (see yesterday's howler: "Vous etes ayant un rire, n'est-ce pas?", a word-for-word-ism of "you're having a laugh" plus the standard French tag-question finisher "n'est-ce pas", but complete gibberish in French. It should, of course be something like "Vous déconnez, n'est-ce pas?" or maybe "Vous plaisantez, n'est-ce pas?" if you want to be less casual.)

(Spending nearly six years in France tends to make English-to-French literalisms extremely hard to read...)

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Mars was a WET mistress: Curiosity probes once-moist bottom

Steve the Cynic

Re: "Mommie, Can We Play Obombie Truth Origami"

You know, I've been reading ... stuff ... on the Internet long enough that I can't tell anymore whether this is just someone trolling us, or if the writer is truly sincere.

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MYSTERY Russian satellite: ORBITAL WEAPON? Sat GOBBLER? What?

Steve the Cynic

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.

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It's space WAR: Comet launches fireballs at space-invading EARTH

Steve the Cynic

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.

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Are MPs smarter than 5-year-olds? We'll soon find out at coding school – Berners-Lee

Steve the Cynic

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.

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It's the WORST game ever, just pulled from a desert DUMP ... now ET can be yours for $500

Steve the Cynic

"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.)

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Trickle-down economics WORKS: SpaceShipTwo is a PRIME EXAMPLE

Steve the Cynic

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.

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HUGE SHARK as big as a WWII SUBMARINE died out, allowing whales to exist

Steve the Cynic

Re: Bah!

"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.

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Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know

Steve the Cynic

"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...

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Chap runs Windows 95 on Android Wear

Steve the Cynic

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.

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Steve the Cynic

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...

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Activist investors DESTROY COMPANIES. Don't get me started on share dealings...

Steve the Cynic

"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.")

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EVIL patent TROLLS poised to attack OpenStack, says Linux protection squad

Steve the Cynic

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).

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'This BITE MARK is a SMOKING GUN': Boffins probe ancient assault

Steve the Cynic

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...

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