9 posts • joined 9 Oct 2009
So it turns out that landing on a comet is harder than expected, and not necessarily for the reasons we expected either. That sounds like a pretty important result for doing this sort of stuff in future (the practical difficulties with coping with tiny amounts of gravity should certainly give any asteroid hunters food for thought). It also looks like our thinking about comets needs a shake-up. We knew from Rosetta that this was a weird shape, from Philae we also learn that it's heterogenous in its solidity - something that wasn't obvious from the photos. This mission already looks like it will leave more questions than answers, and that seems even more exciting than simply ticking the boxes of what we thought we knew.
I have only the faintest idea what a partition is, haven't bothered to find out what one does to compile code, and still have the nagging feeling that sudos are found in a corner of Private Eye. I run Mint on my laptop though, because unlike Windows, it just bloody works. On the rare occasion that something has gone wrong or won't work, the solution is generally easy to find, and I've never had an update create more than momentary trouble (I turned to Linux first when Windows messed up an update and wrecked the whole OS - having used Ubuntu to rescue my files, I couldn't face the five days of downloading patches if I restored Windows - so didn't).
I suspect the problem is people judging the merits of the two on the way things were a decade ago - when Linux only worked if you understood command lines and Windows was pretty usable out of the box. Nowadays Linux appears to be designed for normal people and Windows is the one with the terrible interface and endless obstructions to getting your device to work how you want it to. Quite the turn around.
Re: With which he taught himself to fly
Landing is a piece of piss. Being able to take off a second time, well...
Strings? Guitar body?
I'm not sure that the strings will be affected much, but in freefall there won't be much requirement to counteract the weight of a guitar with a strap or on your knee, so perhaps the reduced forces to keep the guitar still result in a different tone?
Imposter postal pigeons
Amusingly enough, the British did try to spike the German pigeon network with fake birds (carefully selected for their complete lack of homing ability) - although rather disappointingly the idea that their lofts may have been penetrated was discounted by the Germans on the basis that only a lunatic nation would bother attempting it...
Re: Best article - WTF?
In response to Binarydad, you'll know your daughter best, but nearly four is perfectly old enough to be playing with proper Lego - they've become incredibly conservative in their age guidelines and my daughter has been happily constructing the smaller Creator kits since around her third birthday (she'd helped her mother build the Christmas toy Shop) - my daughter needs a little help with the fiddlier bits and with reading the instructions, but that just means that Dad gets to play too...
I'd echo those who are saying Lego has rowed back from the brink with the reduction in stupid, big pieces - some of the newest models use standard bricks in some really rewarding ways, even in 'standard' City kits.
Game Retailer now available preowned...
RBS owning a trading rump of Game/Gamestation makes good sense from a business point of view. The business model isn't hopelessly screwed, and won't be until the next generation of consoles are established. It just needs to be managed much better than Game were for the last few years - cut the number of stores to the most profitable one in each town, make sure the staff know their stuff, ensure that customers can order games online in-store if the web price is better or you're out of stock (capture those sales at a reduced margin, rather than have them go home and order it from a competitor), make the customers feel like part of a club or tribe (Gamestation already seem to have a bit of this vibe), and really, really try to find a little time to dedicate to not screwing over the suppliers - maybe scale back the preowned a little bit, eh?
If they can do all that, they'll turn a bit of a profit again, RBS will get some cash back instead of writing off £80m, and we'll save on dole money for nearly 3,000 staff. That sounds like an ideal outcome for the taxpayer to me.
Game's entire business model went up the spout as soon as they bought Gamestation. They thought they would own the market by removing their biggest rival, but once the Competition Commission took an interest and published the actual profit margin on a pre-owned game it was only a matter of hours before the big retailers wanted a piece of the action. Luckily for Game, they anticipated this and didn't make all the experts from Gamestation redundant at this point and-
Oh. This has been coming a while, hasn't it?
@AC Pedants who can't understand probabilities...
It's not 50/50 on the basis that there are only two outcomes - one outcome is vastly more likely than the other. The reason for not being able to predict exactly where it will be when it crosses the Earth's path is that the observations we've made so far may contain errors (imperfect sightings, basically) and by multiplying up the estimated error for each one - and the effect it'll have on the path plotted - you get an estimate of how likely either outcome is. The more sightings you make, the less chance of cocking up and having your mistake confirmed with a loud bang and a smoking crater. That's why the new calculations are allowing the odds to move out closer to p=1
The argument that the odds are 50/50 would imply that crossing the road should result in you dying every other time you put the kettle on (I mean, hey, you either die or you don't die, so by your logic it's a 50% shot). If you really persist with this line of thinking, can I play you at poker?
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