88 posts • joined 18 Aug 2009
Re: Telephone calls
Last time I had one of those, I got bored with stringing them along after about 15 minutes, and pointed out we didn't have a Windows box in the house. At which point he accused me of wasting his time!
Re: But these are actually intelligent people ....
"Mother-in-laws are great at it."
Add sisters-in-law as well. I've got two, finally managed to get both on to Mac OS as it's somewhat more non-techie friendly, still get really dumb questions. Pointed remarks along the lines of "I've never used Mac OS", "Google is your friend" and "first hit on Google tells you exactly what you need" get treated as so much background noise.
Either my maths is wrong, or Tim's is
"If you put the right doohicky on the side of this plant then you get the gallium out. It's at about 100ppm, 100 grammes per tonne of bauxite processed. Some 8,000 tonnes a year passes through those plants, which is useful because only a few of those BP plants have the doohickeys and globally we only use around 400 tonnes of gallium a year."
100 g/t * 8,000 t/yr = 800,000 g/yr = 800 kg/yr = 0.8 t/yr of gallium with 100% doohickeys fitted.
That's not going to cover 400t/yr. Have we lost or gained a thousand somewhere? Given that world-aluminium.org reports primary (i.e. non-recycled) Al production last month was 4,169 kt maybe that should 8,000 kt of bauxite a *month*? That would need only 5% doohickeys.
The R link is daft
R the programming language is very good for statistics hacking, but the "for example R" link points to an article on IBM's System R which was a relational database. Both data related, but not the same thing.
Re: Ummm PLATO did it first
Of course Plato did it first. He originally came up with the concept of a bunch of people in a cave in the 5th century BCE.
Re: "may make a good sci-fi writer"
Halting State was written in 2nd person singular because it's about gaming. How did the original computer games describe what was going on?
"You are standing on a road. There is a cottage to your right. There is a fork in the road.
> Take fork.
You pick up the fork."
The sequel, Rule 34, was also in 2nd person singular, but for a different reason that also made sense when you realised why.
Re: Weights and Measurements
"It suggests though that the guy is an illiterate economist at best and therefore would never make a very good writer."
Actually Paul Krugman has praised Stross' Merchant Princes series of books as being one of the few works of fiction that actually understand economics - the whole series is founded on ideas from development economics, specifically why aid from advanced societies given to feudal ones doesn't work.
Charlie is also prone to intellectual trolling and downright flights of fancy. As an example of the latter, see his latest post on "books he won't write", which has a plot with Vladimir Putin marrying Sarah Palin and the two of them winning the US presidential election in 2016.
Is there a rocket scientist in the house?
Who can explain how there's always one satellite out of four over Japan all the time? What orbit are these things in?
"was well into my teenage years before the birth of the web"
Jesus, I'll just crumble now. I'd done two degrees, been married and divorced and had set up my own startup seven years before the birth of the web.
I remember when it was all fields round here. Field 1 was columns 1-5 of the punched card and contained the statement label, field 2 was the continuation mark in column 6, ....
Unfortunate incidents at the Met
as several hundred Win 8 machines accidentally fall down the stairs and get broken on the way to the cells. "The different interface confused our officers, who were thus powerless to prevent these tragic accidents" said a Metropolitan Police spokesman.
I'm normally a pacifist but ...
some people should simply be beaten to death with a baseball bat. I've got a sick relative who has days bad enough to open one of these without thinking about it first.
Re: Please God no
I'm voting for <script type="text/haskell">. That way every web developer will end up spending their entire day worrying over what a monad is, and the rest of us can get back to the real world in peace and quiet without interfaces that change every bloody time you fire up the app.
Santander are very good at ignoring you
I've had this problem, although nothing has arrived in the last week or two. I'm with Cahoot, Santander's online bank, and most of the trojans I've received have been supposedly from Fedex or other large carrier claiming they were unable to deliver a parcel, details in the zipped attachment. The sole entry in the zip file has a long name so the extension(s) are probably invisible to most, and end .pdf.exe. The mails might be a tad more plausible if the source addresses weren't scattered round the world but claiming to be from the UK.
On several occasions I've complained to Cahoot, but my emails just get ignored. I've never been arsed to keep trying as I don't run WIndows, so the mail is a mere nuisance rather than a threat. One of these days I ought to change banks, but how the hell do you choose a good one? I had been thinking about switching to the Coop ...
Looks like people who want seriously secure systems are going to have to replace air gaps with vacuum gaps. I can just see the job adverts: wanted, sysadmins. Must be familiar with Linux and Orlan Ms.
Re: No mention of Frank Tipler's time machine design?
"isn't one of the limitations of such time machines that you cannot go back further than when the time machine was constructed?"
It's a problem with any frame dragging based time machine and AFAIR with wormhole based ones as well.
No mention of Frank Tipler's time machine design?
Tipler's 1974 paper "Rotating Cylinders and the Possibility of Global Causality Violation" is a time travel classic.
All you need for a time machine is an infinitely long cylinder of something denser than neutronium that's spinning at rates that mean its surface speed is about half light speed. Just a small matter of engineering. You could probably get funding on Indiegogo with no trouble.
I notice that the linked Wikipedia page for the haptic control has an image with the caption
"A pair of black Novint Falcons. The nearer one has the pistol grip attached, and the further one has the standard ball grip."
If the ball grip is standard then they were obviously intended for this use from the start.
Helping elderly relatives
So the next time an elderly relative asks me what this Facebook thing is that everyone talks about, I can say with a straight face "it's like a collection of hyenas' bottoms".
Re: This is disturbing
Actually the full online OED at www.oed.com does have an entry for the meat(-ish) product, it's in section 5 (out of 9).
"I'm expecting Tim Berners-Lee to pitch up in a minute and pwn the lot of you!"
Actually TBL is younger than me and started programming later. I'm not sure he had access to Arpanet like I did either.
The icon is the nearest thing to a smug grin that ElReg offers.
UPDATE: they've crashed the car
According to the Cambridge Evening News web site, the team have rolled the car and buggered the canopy and some of the PV cells. They've got two days to fix it.
Those cells cost about a quarter of a million. Ouch.
Re: How effective?
Again, from talking with the team.
Firstly the PV cells are gallium arsenide, which can AFAIR run hotter than silicon, and secondly the canopy material is opaque to infra red but passes almost exactly the visible and near UV spectrum that the PV needs, so there's less heating than you might expect. Their major worry was the driver overheating, and the car is designed to have an air feed passing over the driver and then over the PV to supply some extra cooling for both.
Re: Why GPS to work out where the sun is?
I talked to some of the team a few weeks ago, and at that point the tracking was going to be controlled from the support vehicle, with the tracking angle set by dead reckoning, not feedback in the car. When I asked why, they said there's already a couple of feedback loops controlling the motor speed and battery charging in order to maximise performance and adding another control loop for sun tracking potentially made the control theory a nightmare and risked reducing overall performance. Given the nature of the road they decided tweaking the tracking angle every few minutes was good enough.
Re: Big earner
"Look at Eastenders - why on earth is the BBC doing this?"
Apparently so Glaswegians learn to speak in a way that Londoners can understand.
Re: It doesn't have to happen sometime
"for example, there is no O(n) or O(1) sort"
Radix sort is O(n). Algorithms 101.
"I don't know what the theory is behind encryption"
but I'll make comments about it anyway, because this is the internet and that doesn't require informed debate.
Re: Tethering will be blocked
Question for those who know more about the subject than me: how do 3 know you're tethered if you have an unlocked phone? Active connection count? I'll be very miffed if they can check what apps I'm running.
The more I think about Miranda's detention ...
the less it makes sense. Why was he transiting through Heathrow when he could have flown Rio to Berlin direct? If he was being an errand boy for the Guardian, why didn't they advise him not to carry anything sensitive on his laptop or memory stick? Even I know that's stupid and I'm not a journo with copies of classified documents. If he was picking something up from Berlin, why wasn't it sent over the net in encrypted form instead?
Unless everyone involved is mind bogglingly stupid about data security and antiterrorism laws, the only explanations I can come up with is that either May et al are lying through their teeth, an obvious assumption, but why isn't the Guardian saying Miranda was carrying nothing significant in that case, or the whole lot's some sort of theatre cooked up between the Guardian and the government, and that way lies tin foil helmets and other lunacies.
Black helicopter icon for obvious reasons.
Who in their right mind would trust random numbers from a complete stranger sent over the net? Even if the site is genuine, how do you know you've not been spoofed by a man in the middle attack? Sure, it's fine for picking your lottery ticket numbers, but not for anything you want to be secure.
Surely Umbridge is where that well known soap opera, the Urchers, happen?
Re: From what I heard Kinvig was *weird*
"The Adventures of Don Quick."
Dear God, I'd forgotten that. Broadcast in 1970, Don Quixote in Space, written with acid trip sensibilities. Seriously weird.
It's a few days since I read the paper, but IIRC they were writing at ~1MB/s, so it would take 3.6e8 seconds (11.4 years!) to fill a 360TB disk. This is the lab prototype however, we're probably 5-10 years off commercial versions.
pictures from the farside observatory
Oh, Gary Larson is working for NASA these days?
Isn't this simony?
Trading of indulgences or other spiritual goods by church officials for temporal gain, in this case twitter following. According to Dante that gets you into the 3rd bolgia of the 8th circle of hell, stuck upside down in a hole with fire burning your feet, until the next sinner comes along and you get pushed down to make room.
Hmm, I've just realised - Dante invented stack architecture.
Next things after flash crowds
Flash "Being John Malkovitch" sessions by Amscreen installations.
Choose a face, print out many copies, pick a time. Then when the daft stats come in - "it seems the queen likes looking at condom adverts" - Amscreen loses what little credibility it had and advertisers leave in droves.
Well, I can can dream.
Re: Mass of NEXT and power source ?
It's likely for missions to the outer planets that NASA would use some form of radiothermal generator rather than solar panels. Cue the usual hysteria from the, er, "differently scientific".
Re: Do they have spare parts?
You could probably produce an equivalently behaving board for most parts. Most of the board would be empty apart from traces, and all the work would be done by a small FPGA. Bug for bug compatibility would be the biggest challenge.
“Normal flames produce soot, CO2 and water. Cool flames produce carbon monoxide and formaldehyde."
I'm definitely sticking to normal flames in any enclosed space then. Give me a lung full of soot any day rather than CO and CH2O.
Re: Test the secret ballot
I don't know what happens currently, but friends in the generation above me who were involved in invigilating ballot counting(*) during the 60s and 70s have told me that at the end of the count, when all was done and dusted, the small pile of ballot papers for the communist candidate used to be handed over to a nice gentleman from Special Branch for "safe disposal". There have also been cases when people just under eighteen voted and were subsequently prosecuted using their ballot papers as evidence. The number that gets logged in the polling station as you're handed the paper ties you directly to your vote. The ballot is only secret against other people, not the state.
(*) Ballot counters are often party political activists, and some are prone to adding votes for other parties to their candidate's pile if not watched, hence any sensible party supplies invigilators as well as counters.
@James 51: The format is irrelevant, it's the size (in both inches and pixels) that matters. My wife and I both read loads of academic papers and they're all formatted for approximately A4. A kindle is about A6, and tables of data, complicated multi-line formulae or complex graphs become completely unreadable, both because of the size reduction and reduced resolution. If the e-reader also tries to reflow text that's supposed to be in a fixed layout the result is worse than useless.
I used to have an iRex Iliad that was A5 and that handled A4 PDF well enough for me, but my visual acuity is slightly freakish, and my wife simply couldn't read research papers on it. In the end it died a death, and they'd gone bust by that point. Nowadays I use a 10" cheapo Android tablet that is near enough A5 size, but it's heavy compared to an E-Ink device, the emissive screen tires my eyes faster than E-Ink and the battery life is ridiculously short in comparison.
There is a definite niche market in the research community for A4 PDF based document readers. Simple monochrome would do for 80-90% of uses. However, academics aren't renowned for their huge salaries and off shore bank accounts, so the price would have to be around that of a cheap 10" tablet to get any sales volume.
Re: Pens should be banned
"And who designs stones?"
Stonemasons. A venerable and ancient craft still going strong in the modern world.
Re: is this the same
Exactly right. BT offered to have fibre to every home and business in the land by 2000 if they could maintain their monopoly. Thatcher vetoed it. What's the current percentage who have fibre today?
Re: No shoes!
I'm surprised H&S/HR allow that. They usually freak out about people going shoeless in offices, never mind labs.
Re: "I find it hard to believe that the life expectancy is as long as two years..."
Two years may be the average but the record time I know is 20 minutes from a manager being given a brand new, top end and very pricey laptop to it being a pile of useless junk. It had a docking station. The docking station had latches to hold the laptop firmly. Rather than undoing the latches to release the laptop, the manager (of the system programming group no less) decided levering it free with a big screwdriver must be the obvious and right thing to do.
Re: effect on birds
"I can think of a lot of much better reasons to pillory windfarms such as their devastating effect on local bird populations - especially raptors and other large predatory birds. Or the way they mash bats."
A few years ago Nature published a study of all US wind farms and bird mortality. The average result over the entire US was 0.5 bird deaths per turbine per year - vastly lower than the death toll caused by domestic cats or hunters. The reason why the "wind turbines slaughter birds" meme came about was because one of the earliest wind farms was placed in a pass in the Rockies that was the equivalent of the M25 for a species of endangered raptors, and they got sliced and diced in numbers high enough to affect the species' survival. That wind farm was shut down long ago, and current wind farms on migratory routes shut down as soon as radar sees large numbers of birds heading their way.
The real problem is bats. The pressure fluctuations near a turbine can make their internal organs rupture. That's why they're trying using ultrasound to keep bats away.
Geography is a bit screwed
Cambridge doesn't have a Hill Street, but it does have a Hills Road, and if they moved into Bridge Street opposite the Mitre and Barron of Beef, they moved into St John's College.
An increase of 3dB is twice the power. 10dB is 10 times the power. Bels are base 10 logs, decibels 10 times that.
Re: pronounce it as "squiggle".
Remembering Prince's little snit with his record label, how about "The computer scientist formerly known as Knuth"?
Re: replace all those copper cables that the metal thieves nick all the time
Wouldn't work. In many cases they're thieves because they're too stupid to do anything else. That's why they end up nicking fibre optic cables, thinking it's copper, and get a surprise when the scrap dealer tells them second hand glass isn't worth buying.
Well if it was specified in joules it would be "ten to the Forty Four Joules" and "ffj" doesn't trip off the tongue so easily as "foe". Cue endless repetitions "FFS, WTF is FFJ?"
Why on earth is monkey so popular? Are they reshowing the old TV series or something?
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