* Posts by MacroRodent

864 posts • joined 18 May 2007

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Windows 10: THE ULTIMATE GUIDE to Microsoft's long apology for Windows 8

MacroRodent
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Windows

Return of the Program manager

... Pinning does work well though, as a way of organizing the apps you use most. You can drag them around and form named groups as you would expect.

Am I the only one who is reminded of the Windows 3.* / NT 3.* "program manager" by this? (For youngsters: it was a window that contained the icons for starting apps, before the "Start" menu was introduced in Windows 95. Yes, you could arrange the icons to named groups.)

(We need an icon for old fogey).

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MORE Windows 10 bugs! Too many Start menu apps BREAK it

MacroRodent
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Holmes

the 640k quote

just a huge amount of Internet lore

I seem to remember hearing about it long before everyone and his dog started using the Internet. I think it is a real quote (probably taken out of context, or distorted), but the original exists only on paper in some computer magazine from the early 1980's.

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OnePlus 2: The smartie that's trying to outsmart Google's Android

MacroRodent
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WTF?

Zap

Laser rangefinder? Somehow this makes me uneasy. Will you go blind if you take selfies?

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Feel like you're being herded onto Windows 10? Well, you should

MacroRodent
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Trollface

Re: Meanwhile....

Less people use BSD, OSX and Linux on the desktop than use Windows Phone so they must be totally irrelevant.

On the other hand, far more people use Linux on their phone or tablet (Android and some rarer variants) than use Windows Phone. Also, practically all network devices run some form of Linux or BSD internally (Windows is completely nonexistent in this space). Plus innumerable consumer devices like navigators, smart TV:s etc. run Linux. So Windows must be totally irrelevant...

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GOOGLE GMAIL ATE MY LINUX: Gobbled email enrages Torvalds

MacroRodent
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Re: I guess they picked the wrong guy to test the spam algorithm on.

Uh? systemd != kernel

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Did speeding American manhole cover beat Sputnik into space? Top boffin speaks to El Reg

MacroRodent
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Re: Very interesting story,

Considering that state of the art of that era was vacuum tubes, which intensely disliked high G acceleration

You are thinking of the variety used in living room equipment, with thin glass and delicate insides. Ruggedized equipment used much more sturdily built ones. I have a very small tube from a WW2 German military radio (probably) somewhere among my assorted junk. It does not even have a socket, just wires coming through the thick glass and says "Wehrmacht" on the label.

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Vale Matti Makkonen, SMS dreamer

MacroRodent
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Re: @Champ (was: 160 chars)

Universality, as in supported by every phone and carrier (after the early years) compensates for the shortcomings of sms. There still is no convincing replacement. For example, to send WhatsApp I must know the recipient used it as well, but he might prefer some other system. Sms avoids this problem by being part of the standard. That is how telecommunications was done in Makkonen's day. Slower-moving, sure, but interoperable. Seems quaint in the internet age...

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Cisco gobbles OpenDNS, sorts out cloud security portfolio

MacroRodent
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IntimateDNS

I use OpenDNS at home (to filter pr0n from the kid - at least until he wises up and learns about DNS and how to change the name server setting :-), and have enabled the statistics. It is eye-opening how much one can deduce about browsing habits from even rough statistics about the DNS lookups (and also the staggering amount of tracking and advertisement lookups). Something that could be pure gold for advertisers, and also various spooks or other shady characters. I'm keeping an eye on whether OpenDNS keeps its integrity. Any alternatives if it goes sour?

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Supreme Court ignores Google's whinging in Java copyright suit

MacroRodent
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The take-home message is...

... do not base your business on any API or language owned by another company! Either go for open standards, a spec controlled by a benign nonprofit foundation, or roll your own. Relying on interfaces copyrighted by another company now means that company has you by your testicles. You cannot rebase on a 3.part implementation of the API.

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Apple wants to patent iBeacon stalking

MacroRodent
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Nokia had it first...

I recall looking at a bluetooth app much like that in a Nokia feature phone a decade ago. Nobody used it, probably because they thought it too creepy, and it was dropped. To bad I don't remember what it was called.

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We need to know about the Internet of Things, say US Senators

MacroRodent
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Big Brother

Re: Smart TV

It will still be connected to an external network: where do you think the pretty pictures and sound come from?

But over-the-air TV broadcasts, whether analogue or digital, are one-way only. Hard to spy on you that way. Of course it is likely that at some point in the future it will be decided that OTA broadcasts are redundant, because most people watch TV only over the Internet, and the bandwidth is repurposed for cellular networks. Then indeed it is time for the privacy-conscious to throw out their TV:s...

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MacroRodent
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Smart TV

It is getting difficult to NOT buy a "smart" TV, if you want a TV big enough for comfortable living room viewing... At least the one I recently bought to replace a 20-year old tube set has no built-in WLAN interface (a bit old model), so I can reliably cut the connection.

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This whopping 16-bit computer processor is being built by hand, transistor by transistor

MacroRodent
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Re: stack based

Sure! Zap, ping etc. made the Oric easier to get started with, as I remember in C64 you needed peeks and pokes for sound effects. Sadly my Oric 1 (64k) does not boot any more, I suspect the EPROM has lost its contents.

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MacroRodent
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Re: stack based

The 6502 is not a stack-based machine. It does support a stack for push, pop and subroutine call instructions, but so does almost every other microprocessor. I think the 6502 can be best described as an accumulator machine, where all arithmetic and logical instructions require one of the operands to be in the accumulator (A) register. (The first CPU I ever tried programming in machine language, on the Oric 1, which is why I go on about it...).

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MacroRodent
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Re: Quite a challenge

The 6502 does everything in 8-bits width, except addresses. An opcode byte is optionally followed by an 1 byte immediate value, or a 1 or 2 byte address. I'm guessing that it has 2-bit field in the instruction byte that causes it to load 0, 1 or 2 following bytes to a register determined by rest of the opcode (and increment the PC). If performance is no big concern, shouldn't this operand loading sequence be implementable with a simple state machine? Though I must admit my knowledge about CPU design comes from one mostly-forgotten university course a quarter-century ago... (the final exercise was creating a paper design, which was not even simulated, never mind built.)

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MacroRodent
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Quite a challenge

...building a 16-bit system. Doing a 8-bit design would have been less than half the work. If he had chosen to clone the 6502 or some other early 8-bit CPU, there would also have been lots of existing software to run. But maybe he considered it too easy.

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Killer ChAraCter HOSES almost all versions of Reader, Windows

MacroRodent
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Re: Does this also ...

The font handling in Linux kernel is trivial, just fixed-width bitmap fonts. Should be easy to check.

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So what are you doing about your legacy MS 16-bit applications?

MacroRodent
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DOSBox

Another alternative is DOSBox (www.dosbox.com). Runs on Windows and Linux (and various other systems as well). This is a software-only emulator, but so is dosemu as well, if you run it on a 64-bit Linux system (the reason is the VM8086 feature that dosemu uses to run MS-DOS code at native speed on 32-bit Linux does not run in the 64-bit mode).

DOSBox is a bit easier to get started with because it includes its own built-in MS-DOS clone (unfortunately it is a bit behind the times, for example it does not support the long file name extension).

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How Music Got Free and Creatocracy

MacroRodent
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No cracking needed

reports that the Germans’ meticulous memory for details deserts them for a year or so, by which time their software has been cracked and has become the standard.

Cracked? As I remember it, the early MP3 software was based on Fraunhofer's reference implementation, which wasn't exactly a secret, being an attachment to the MPEG standard (and before it was published, probably circulated quite widely with the drafts and other working documents for the standard, as is the usual practice).

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Chrome, Debian Linux, and the secret binary blob download riddle

MacroRodent
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Re: minor quibbles

>All so Red Hat can steal other's work and cash in.

That is quite uncalled-for. Whatever one thinks of Red Hat products, it still is one of the largest sponsors of open source software developers.

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Philae warms up nicely, sends home second burst of data

MacroRodent
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Re: It does seem as if its a bit of a hole

Given that the probe woke up because its getting warmer and is on a ball of ice and dust, it's hardly surprising that its position has shifted slightly as the environment around it warms up.

I wonder if there is any serious risk of some kind of geyser becoming active under Philae, and literally blowing it back to space? I don't suppose it has been attached in any way to the comet now. I believe the original plan involved screws that drill into the comet, but they did not work.

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EU MEPs accept lonely Pirate's copyright report – and water it down

MacroRodent
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Re: “The commercial use of...

There is also some tower in Paris that keeps appearing in many photos taken there. Will they all be confiscated now?

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Confusion reigns as Bundestag malware clean-up staggers on

MacroRodent
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Black Helicopters

Purging the plaque

But in this case it might be they do not dare to use anything from the old installation, except possibly the cables! Backups? Could be infected (eg. if most of the documents are DOC files, as they probably are). . Servers? Disks? The worm might be in the firmware.

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Undetectable NSA-linked hybrid malware hits Intel Security radar

MacroRodent
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Re: No of course not

If we have to assume NSA can force any vendor to do things like that, then there is no solution. Even if the firmware were burned into real ROM, and unmodifiable by anyone, we would have to worry about NSA forcing manufacturers to pre-install their malware. That way lies madness...

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MacroRodent
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Shouldn't signing firmware prevent this?

- assuming the signing process is done competently: good algorithm, long keys, keys kept secure. I think many manufacturers already do this, but apparently not all.

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Kaspersky says air-gap industrial systems: why not baby monitors, too?

MacroRodent
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Re: Baby monitors?!

If you are within 30 meters of your baby, then don't you have a pair perfectly functional baby monitors attached to either side of your head?

They are not enough.The point is getting to attend to the baby when he wakes up but before he starts crying at full blast.

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MacroRodent
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Re: Baby monitors?!

Your use case sounds more like a general webcam. For me. a baby monitor was a voice-activated radio that alerted me when the sleeping baby was waking up. Range beyond 30m or so is pointless (in fact possibly harmful), one has to be near enough to respond. The main security threat would be a denial of service that disables the alerting, since for obvious reasons there would not be much to eavesdrop on in the room the baby is sleeping in.

In this case, I don't see any benefits in internet connection, but there are downsides in the form of decreased reliability.

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MacroRodent
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Baby monitors?!

Are there really internet-connected baby monitors? It seems to me a prime example of an item where internet is a bad idea anyway, simply because if you go further from the baby than the range of normal wireless, you are too far already.

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FBI: Apple and Google are helping ISIS by offering strong crypto

MacroRodent
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both ways

Encryption helps also those who resist ISIS. In ISIS-controlled area they are the ones you want to hide things from! Also, If there was a mandatory backdoor, well-funded bad guys like ISIS would probably take advantage of it.

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Your servers are underwater? Chill OUT, baby – liquid's cool

MacroRodent
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hard drives?

What about hard drives? I think they still have a hole with a filter for equalizing air pressure inside the shell, and will certainly not work if full of oil. Of course not an issue if all your storage is solid state.

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SpaceX asks to test broadband in SPAAACE

MacroRodent
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Firewall beater

I wonder if such a satellite could be made powerful enough when transmitting and sensitive enough when listening, so that consumer WLAN equipment could be used to contact it? (Possibly supplemented with a directional "Pringles can" antenna)? That would by-pass the firewalls of authoritarian regimes (or at least of those that cannot shoot down satellites...).

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VirtualBox 5.0 beta four graduates to become first release candidate

MacroRodent
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cost

What kind of a developer can't afford a $50-60 tool? If its actually needed

In a company, you save more than that: the hassle of purchasing and managing licenses. You can also install more copies when needed, without asking permission from anyone.

VMWare is actually more that $50-$60. The version of VMWare Player licensed for commercial use is 117.39 € (excluding VAT), and if you want the full VMWare Desktop product (which would be a more accurate comparison to VirtualBox), it is 186.96 € (checked today at their web site).

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Siri, please save my iPhone from the messages of death

MacroRodent
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Re: Bring back the good 'ole days

Unfortunately, Nokia and other manufacturers have had similar bugs in SMS, like the stuff in this The Register article: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/03/21/sms_of_death_explained/

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Finally! It's the year of Linux on the desktop TITSUP

MacroRodent
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Unhappy

Sad, but not unexpected

At one point Mandrake, later renamed Mandriva (for trademark reasons) was a really good desktop distribution, perhaps the best if you liked KDE. I used it at home. But they had financial missteps and also managed to annoy their community with the for-pay Club whose benefits did not meet the expectations of many who signed up. I myself switched to OpenSUSE some years ago when it became clear Mandriva was going nowhere (tried also Mageia, but for whatever reason I could not get its early versions to work on my machine). But mostly I have good memories of the distribution. Some ideas and software from it still live on in others.

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Unicode wonks are bringing home the BACON, as an emoji

MacroRodent
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Re: "I want to be called Loretta"

Where's the foetus gonna gestate? You gonna keep it in a box?

Schwarzenegger and DeVito had a solution in "Junior" ( http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0110216/ ). Probably the strangest Schwarzenegger film ever...

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MacroRodent
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Facepalm

Re: In a Pickle

An "f" (MUSICAL SYMBOL FORTE) does look a lot like an "f" (LATIN SMALL LETTER f WITH HOOK) and both have more than a passing resemblance to the "f" (LATIN SMALL LETTER f), but they are all unique CHARACTERS even though the GLYPHS for these may be indistinguishable from each other, depending on font, styling etc.

Not to mention that there is a separate code point for "å" (a-ring) and the symbol for the ångström unit, although these are really the same character originally. All of which makes Unicode the Phishermans Friend. Ironically, originally Unicode tried to cram all the code points to 16 bits by "unifying" Asian letters that look the same. It is incomprehensible that "å" the letter and "å" the unit name, and many similar cases were not unified.

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City of birth? Why password questions are a terrible idea

MacroRodent
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Questions

I've always preferred sites that allow you to create the question and answer yourself

Agreed. I have long wondered why there are prepared questions at all. When you write the question yourself, it can be made to relate to a personally memorable event or fact, which is easier to remember and far less likely to be discoverable by an attacker than something like mother's maiden name.

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Russia will fork Sailfish OS to shut out pesky Western spooks

MacroRodent
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Boffin

Re: What about the toolchain?

Do you recompile all of the libraries going into GCC/etc. from source? Do you recompile all the compilers from source? Do you trust the underlying OS?

When the source is available, there is a verification method for the toolchain: Diverse double compiling, described by David A. Wheeler here: http://www.dwheeler.com/trusting-trust/

The general idea is to use multiple independently developed compilers as a cross-check. It is not plausible that they are all subverted the same way.

Note that this verification is possible only if the source is available, giving open source an edge in trustworthiness.

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MacroRodent
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Linux

Re: Same old hokey-cokey

Poor old Sailfish - started as Nokia's great hope, now bedrock for Finland's historic foe.

Aren't you exaggerating a bit the historical significance of smartphone operatng systems?

Anyway, too bad Sailfish hasn't exacly made it even here in Finland. The only Jolla:s I have seen have been in the hands of certified Linux fanatics. Lumia:s are fare more common. (I have one, so the NSA probably knows -or could easily find out- all my movements).

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Airplane HACK PANIC! Hold on, it's surely a STORM in a TEACUP

MacroRodent
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Black box?

One would expect the flight recorder could be used to determine if the alleged hacking actually happened or not.

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MacroRodent
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Re: Don't rely on passengers to catch this

Besides, it would be easy to book the whole seat row with accomplices.

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Attack of the possibly-Nazi clone parakeet invaders

MacroRodent
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Easy boring explanation for lack of genetic variation

They are probably descendants of a single pair of parakeets (or maybe a very small number of them) originally brought over by some pet importer. The descendants of these have then been sold in both Europe and North America, and escaped.

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DEEPENING MYSTERY of BRIGHT LIGHTS on dwarf world Ceres

MacroRodent
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Re: Reflected Light

Exactly! It has been reported that Ceres is very dark. So if you were flying with Dawn, it would appear almost black to you, and the spots are blindingly bright in comparison, even if they are just a bit of dirty ice.

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All-Russian 'Elbrus' PCs and servers go on sale

MacroRodent
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Will the real instruction set please stand up?

The Elbrus 4c used in the PCs and servers is said to support two instruction sets: very long instruction word and SPARC. It's also said to be capable of x86 emulation, and to run Linux natively, after one performs binary translation.

This is confusing... what is the real instruction set in it, homegrown, SPARC, x86 or ARM? After googling links for Elbrus 4c (hampered by my lack of Russian skillz), the most likely answer seems the homegrown VLIW, with some emulation support for x86. Sounds just like the plan that worked so splendidly for Intel Itanium... The native VLIW code might not be too slow, despite the low clock speed, provided there is a good compiler, but then all software has to be ported, so it is likely most users (if any...) will use it as a slow x86 replacement.

Elbrus by the way seems to also have been the name for a line of Soviet mainframes.

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PEAK PC: 'Most' Google web searches 'come from mobiles' in US

MacroRodent
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Re: Big display

I find search on mobile devices to be too frustrating.

I find the search is generally OK, but often the sites the found links refer to are poorly visible on mobile. But this is improving. The fact that the the mobile is always there when I need the answer is a killer advantage.

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Oxford chaps solve problem in 1982 Sinclair Spectrum manual

MacroRodent
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Overcoming memory limits in Spectrum-only solution

2) Memory limitations. The symphony is over an hour long, so can't be crammed into 48k of memory, especially in BASIC.

If a sufficiently large supply of Sinclair Spectrums can be assumed, the memory problem could be solved by using a number of them for storage. Some Spectrums act as "conductors" that issue playing commands to the "orchestra". When conductor #1 reaches the end of the score in its memory, it "passes the baton" to conductor #2 which continues where the first left off, and so on....

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NASA spies weird glow from Pluto's FRIGID pole

MacroRodent
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Bps

We won't get them back for two weeks due to the distances involved and the 1Kbps bandwidth for data transmission.

Bah, that is still faster than my first dial-up modem that ran at 300 bps. I managed to edit with Emacs through it, although some patience was needed, and an optimized /etc/termcap.

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NINETY PER CENT of Java black hats migrate to footling Flash

MacroRodent
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Firefox too

Another significant factor is that Firefox has started to prevent Java plugins from being run, unless you ask for it. But a Microsoft guy of course would disregard that.

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Japan showcases really, really fast … whoa, WTF was that?!

MacroRodent
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Re: maglev is the way to go

This becomes less of an issue if the train is in a tube or tunnel (the proposed track between Tokyo and Nagoya is 80% underground!)

They should dig it all the way, and also evacuate (as far as practical) the air from the tunnel. That would allow it to go even faster (1000km/h ?).

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Yay, we're all European (Irish) now on Twitter (except Americans)

MacroRodent
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You cannot be compelled, as an EU citizen, to break EU law in order that a DIFFERENT US company satisfy a US court order.

In theory. In practice, if a senior guy from the parent company, say Twitter (US) comes to Ireland and tells an IT guy working at Twitter (Ireland) to hand the data or clear his desk, how many have the balls to resist the order?

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