* Posts by MacroRodent

801 posts • joined 18 May 2007

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Forget Nokia: Finland's promising future is to be server central

MacroRodent
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Foot-shooting

Finland is said to enjoy strong legal protection over government surveillance of data, particularly when compared to neighbouring Sweden.

That is the current situation, but in a fit of incomprehensible me-tooism, officials now want to change that and allow mass surveillance of the net. Pure stupidity. It would not really help with security (baddies can always find a way around such wiretapping when aware of it), and would remove one competitive advantage in the data centre business.

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On 50th anniversary of first spacewalk, Aurorae light up two planets

MacroRodent
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Re: Aurora on Mars?

I am guessing that a sufficiently strong blast from the Sun makes the Martian atmosphere glow at all latitudes. On Earth we see aurorae only in the north and south because the magnetosphere funnels the particles there, and concentrates them.

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Honey, I shrunk the Windows footprint

MacroRodent
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Re: Old update files

If you compress your program files, however, the whole file needs to be read and decompressed before the handful of pages you were interested in can actually be used.

Not necessarily. If using a transparently compressing file system along the lines of DoubleSpace, a file consists of a number of compressed blocks. You can access randomly something within the file, and the file system figures out which compressed block holds the data you are interested in, and uncompresses only that. DoubleSpace actually worked at the level of blocks, not files, in order to support an unchanged FAT file system on top of it. What FAT thought of as an allocation block was compressed and stored in from 1 to 8 (or was it 1 to 16) smaller blocks, depending on how much the block could be compressed.

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MacroRodent
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Windows

Decompression is fast

There's another 1.5GB to 2.5GB to be saved with compression of system files, but Microsoft says it won't put the squeeze on unless it can be done “ without compromising human-perceivable system responsiveness.”

Huh? Even in Pentium I days, compression&decompression was fast enough so that using "doublespace" or similar was feasible. What time the compressor took was more than made up by the reduction in disk I/O. (Personal experience, used doublespace to get most out of my 500Mb disk drive). Nowadays the gap between CPU and I/O speed is even larger, even on low-end gear, so this should be a no-brainer.

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ALIEN LIFE drenched in HOT FLUID on Jupiter's Ganymede – is that so?

MacroRodent
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Alien

Watery solar system

"Liquid water outside of Earth is very rare indeed, "

Not sure if we can say so any more. We now have strong evidence of three moons having ice-covered oceans (Europa, Ganymede and Enceladus), and there might be even more. Suppose we eventually find most of the liquid water in the solar system is not on Earth...

Several old sci-fi stories revolved around the idea that water is very rare outside Earth (like the TV series "V"(1983) where the aliens came to steal Earth's water). They seem quite dated now!

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Grab your pitchforks: Ubuntu to switch to systemd on Monday

MacroRodent
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Re: read around...

>> enough large distros have decided in favour of it

>Err have they ?

>AIUI Debian haven't decided in favour of it, more like determined that they don't have the resources to fight it !

I never said _all_ large distros, just _enough_ of them. Including the most commercially significant Red Hat (and its derivatives), and SUSE/OpenSUSE, and now it seems also Ubuntu. Sure there will be non-systemd distributions, which is fine, in fact desirable, to avoid monoculture. But it is now clear that those who work with Linux in their day job (like me) just have to learn the ins and outs of systemd.

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MacroRodent
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Re: Blame Microsoft for this

Once Microsoft decided they wanted to improve boot speed, some Linux people started worrying about it too, not wanting Windows to be able to boot faster than Linux.

Boot speed is important in many cases. Think cloud where you might set up a server very frequently. Or an embedded system where you want the device to start working as soon as possible after being turned on. (I just hate it how my shiny new flat-screen TV takes more time to become viewable than the old B/W valve-based TV from my childhood! - that at least had a good excuse for being slow: all the valves had to warm up first). Yes, SSD makes handling lots of small files more tolerable, but not having them in the first place is faster still. Another problem with traditional init is the large number of process launches that happen while processing the scripts. Process set-up eats CPU. Systemd avoids this, too.

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MacroRodent
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Re: read around...

(The logs and config may not be an issue with systemd if it has a decent text-mode viewing program - I honestly don't know!)

journalctl gives you pretty much what catting the log file gives. It also has various options for filtering the output, or printing in reverse. Still learning my way around systemd, but it clearly seems to be the future: enough large distros have decided in favour of it, so one either has to get used to it, or switch to some other OS (if you want BSD, you know where to find it), or some niche Linux distro. (No doubt holdouts will remain for a long time).

(where is the Borg icon?)

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Boffins say Mars had ocean covering 20 per cent of planet

MacroRodent
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Mushroom

Re: Where did it go?

One theory I have read in some places blames the lack of Martian magnetic field, which allows particles from the Sun to blast away gases from the upper atmosphere. So the first step in terraforming Mars should be building a humoungous superconducting coil around the equator, and a big nuclear power plant to feed it :-)

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‪Obama criticises China's mandatory backdoor tech import rules

MacroRodent
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The Gemalto hack is the product of poor use of cryptography that requires the private key exist somewhere other than on the SIM.

Remember that back when GSM was designed (1980's), mandaring public-key cryptography might not have been feasible. The first GSM phones had very little processing power. We are lucky to have any cryptography at all in the spec, some countries still force it turned off or weakaned in their networks.

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FREAK show: Apple and Android SSL WIDE OPEN to snoopers

MacroRodent
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Re: A Question

Also, how long would factoring the 512 bit value take on a modern top of the line CPU you already might have in your PC? (Or if not the CPU, then the GPU).

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Bad movie: Hackers can raid networks with burnt Blu-Rays

MacroRodent
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Re: Java - again

There is nothing wrong with Java if you use it as a "normal" programming language. Used that way, it is safer than say C++. The trouble starts only when you try using it as a sandboxed runtime for executing code from unknown sources.

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Acer enters Windows Phone fray with cheap Liquid M220 mobe

MacroRodent
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Backing the underdog

We differentiate or die. We always do that. Windows Phone is an opportunity because no one is doing it at the moment.

Exactly same logic Nokia used when switching to Windows Phone. See how well that worked out.

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Assemblers were once people: My aunt did it for NASA

MacroRodent
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Re: The 60's and computers...

The prof introduced us to the instruction set of the year old intel 8008 and we ran the code on an 8008 simulator running on a CDC 6400.

At the Helsinki University of Techonology we had an actual 8008 machine, very obsolete even then in mid 1980's, but still used for some student exercises. We were to write a little program by hand in hex, for and burn it into an EPROM chip, and run (the simple 8008 machine had no other storage devices). I must admit I cheated a bit: I used a 8080 assembler (running it inside a CP/M emulator in a PC, a set-up I already had around because of other interests), and avoided those instructions that were not available (the 8008 instructions were a sub-set of 8080).

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Russia considers keeping its own half of the ISS alive after 2024

MacroRodent
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Re: That reminds me, I saw 2001 the other evening

Isn't the situation also a bit like "2010" where the astronauts&cosmonauts orbiting Jupiter are informed that a war has broken out between the countries.... (or something like that. Unlike "2001", I have seen "2010" only once; it is definitely not in the same league as the first film).

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NASA: Check out this TWIRLY SPACE DWARF – and NEVER moan about our budget

MacroRodent
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Hope the cruise continues

>The probe is scheduled to continue studying Ceres through the end of its primary mission in July.

It would be neat if they still had enough propellant after that for even more asteroid-prospecting. After all, the solar-powered ion engine has a great mileage.

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Likes of Google to have undue influence in Brussels, say activists

MacroRodent
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Unhappy

Writing legislation

The civil liberties lobbyists say this is tantamount to letting business lobbyists co-write legislation.

Actually, they are pretty much doing it already in the EU. But I agree that the treaty would make it even easier, and that is bad.

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Enough is ENOUGH: It's time to flush Flash back to where it came from – Hell

MacroRodent
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Re: There's gold out there

Many visual artists are just unable get the notion that in the online world, they cannot completely control what the viewer sees, even if they try their best (even if the display size and resolution happens to be exactly the same that the artist had, the colour rendering is off, unless you have a calibrated display!). That explains the obsession with Flash, which seems on the surface to do what they want. I know an artist, well-regarded in his field, whose web site is a huge Flash application that simulates a book, down to requiring navigation by "turning pages".

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MacroRodent
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Re: Legos going pop in the night

Yes, but unlike flash, Lego is the best thing in the world.

Sure! Except when you step on it. And especially if the brick is upside down. An event like this in my childhood caused me to learn just how thick the epidermis is under the foot. The brick sliced a neat sample of it.

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MacroRodent
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Legos going pop in the night

"It's the Lego brick in your foot when you're feeling your way through a dark kitchen at 3am."

Love the simile! The writer has kids, too, I guess.

Incidentally, I'm planning to upgrade the laptop whom I maintain for a totally computer-illiterate auntie type person, who needs it mostly for online banking. It certainly would be safest to leave Flash out of it this time, but I must first test who many of her favourite sites it would affect (resulting in a call to me about the computer being broken...).

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Bill Gates – I WISH I was like Zuck and spoke Chinese. Yep, I drink poo

MacroRodent
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Re: Don't Forget...

Don't forget that some commenters on this forum opined that Zuckerberg's mandarin was scarcely intelligible.

One of the hardest things in learning a foreign language in adulthood is getting the pronunciation right, if the phonetics of the new language differs a lot from your native language. I suspect Mandarin is an especially difficult case in this respect, because the right intonation is very important for meaning, unlike in English.

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MacroRodent
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Re: French - Anything but easy.

For someone whose native language is English, the easiest languages probably would be other Germanic languages, like German or Swedish.. From my point of view (as a Finnish speaker), these are almost dialects of each other...

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Humanity can defeat SkyNet with BOOKS, says IT think tank

MacroRodent
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Re: Reading books - wats dat ?

"of all fiction apart from Hemmingway-style realism"

Wasn't 451 the Bradbury story where all books were banned? (And burning them was the job of the firemen). He had another story where only non-realist fiction was burned... I think it was (google google) "Usher II" (part of the Martian Chronicles).

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MacroRodent
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Re: Yeah, right

About as effective as us defeating the Surveillance State by reading 1984 and the Animal Farm.

But reading those books are a good start towards that goal! Add also "The First Circle" by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (which also includes a good demonstration of how not to manage a R&D project).

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MARS NEEDS BROADBAND, insists Elon Musk

MacroRodent
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Re: Wrong question altogether

A case of diminishing returns. It has been argued quite convincingly that getting some kind of eletronic messaging to everyone does "lift people out of powerty" by making the markets more efficient (see the article on sardine fishers in Kerala, a few weeks back on this august web site). But that can be achieved with GSM. It could be broadband just adds access to kitten videos...

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Are you running a Telnet server on Windows? Oh thank God. THANK GOD

MacroRodent
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Re: Please help a penguin

You're right, telnet has no place on modern systems unless you have a need to leak credentials.

Telnet is quite OK in a closed network where you have no need to secure communications. In this case its simplicity and low overhead is an asset. But naturally no telnet port should be open to the internet, not even to the company intranet.

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Windows 7 MARKED for DEATH by Microsoft as of NOW

MacroRodent
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Re: Year of Linux on the laptop

I use an old scanner with XP drivers with Windows 7. MS supplies a handy virtual XP machine free of charge...

Yes, if you have Windows 7 Professional or better. Home computers typically come bundled with Windows 7 Home, and I'm not going to pay any more Windows tax than absolutely necessary. MS also no longer patches XP and their page about "Install and use Windows XP Mode in Windows 7" now warns not to use XP mode for any PC connected to the internet.

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MacroRodent
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Mushroom

Re: Year of Linux on the laptop

>have not had a desktop in the house for 8 years and not had windows since xp

The only reason I have Windows at home is some equipment makers (in my case the really sore point is a film scanner) who neither release Linux drivers, nor provide enough information for the open source community to create them.

I have come to the conclusion this is really a case of planned obsolescence. Closed-source drivers eventually stop working on Windows, as Windows itself changes internally (good luck using an old device that only has a XP driver on Windows 7!). So the user finds it easiest to solve the problem by buying a new device, even if the old one is in perfect working order and fulfils his needs.

There ought to be a law against this...

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Hey, bacteria: Resistance is FUTILE – boffins grow new super-antibiotic

MacroRodent
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Re: Past, learn from, uh...duh...huh?

Just an idea. Maybe we'll want to ban the use of these antibiotics in animal feed???

Agreed! The practice should be made illegal world-wide. Protecting millions of human lives is far more important than making some cows grow a bit faster.

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MacroRodent
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Re: Past, learn from, uh...duh...huh?

I guess it's tough to regulate "common sense" when someone is sitting in the doctor's office with a bad cold and demanding to be given something for it... usually by the name of the drug.

This is not a case of lack of common sense, but a failure of education! While not everybody can be expected to be an expert in microbiology, teaching the difference between bacteria and viruses, and why antibiotics don't work on the latter should be taught in elementary school. (A couple of picture book pages with cute cartoon bacteria should do it...). It is vital to get this knowledge to the public.

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Cheap Android phones? Bah! How about a $29 mobe from Microsoft?

MacroRodent
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Re: No 3G? Useless in some parts of the world...

Secondly, in their desire to keep the name Microsoft "exclusive" (hah!) they've created a situation where even if this new cheapy phone is a success, there's no brand upgrade path. Microsoft must have a special strategy department dedicated to snatching defeat from the jaws of any potential victory.

Indeed, Microsoft is looking more and more like Nokia did in its last mobile phone years...

Here's a free idea for Microsoft: Reintroduce WP 7 for the low-end phone range. By today's standards, WP 7 is quite frugal with hardware, so it should work well on cheap phones, but yet allows a smooth upgrade path to phones with a newer WP.

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MacroRodent
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Re: They're called feature phones

They're great as "leashes" because you can always call them (or send a text) to ask "where are you and why aren't you home yet?"

On the other hand, they don't support "leash apps" like dondeEsta (which allows you to text a phone, and it automatically sends back its current location).

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NASA preps lobotomy for Opportunity rover to cure amnesia

MacroRodent
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Re: Necessary XKCD Reference

> fire up a local copy of the software and shutdown the one on Mars.

Ah, but would that really transmit the "being"? The original might not want to shut down. I recall once reading a science fiction story, where a alien race introduced a "teleporter" to humans. The problem is, it worked by transmitting all data about the subject to the destination, where it was reconstructed, then the original (which was not harmed by the process itself) was normally killed. The aliens saw this as a necessary clean-up operation, the humans ... objected.

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MacroRodent
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Re: Necessary XKCD Reference

Interesting question: if an human-like AI (able to pass the Turing test any day with flying colours) were developed, would it be ethical to send it (him? her?) on a space probe without a return ticket?

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German minister photo fingerprint 'theft' seemed far too EASY, wail securobods

MacroRodent
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In a sane world

...this should be the nail in the coffin of fingerprint authentication, at least of the cheap variety. What is the use if it is tuned to accept anything vaguely resembling the real print?

In the real world, we of course identify each other by "biometrics", but we take into account many factors: facial appearance, voice, height, gait... mostly unconsciously.

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The Theory of Everything: Stephen Hawking biopic is immensely moving

MacroRodent
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Weird

I find the idea of biopics of people that are still alive extremely weird. I wonder what the man himself thinks of it?

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Ghosts of Christmas Past: The long-ago geek gifts that made us what we are

MacroRodent
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Polaroid Zip

I never had a Polaroid Swinger, but while at high school, a local tiny photo store offloading some older stuff sold me a Polaroid Zip, which I believe was the follow-on version. Had the similar "Yes" exposure meter. It was fun using it at school (you kids who are used to digital cameras have no idea how cool it was a the time to see the resulting photograph immediately, instead of days later), sadly some of the prints have faded a bit, even though the Zip shot only B/W film.

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'I've got a brick feeling about this' - El Reg's guide to the best Lego films + TV

MacroRodent
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pseudobricks

> I just think it was a shame The Lego Movie was not actually created using Lego bricks!

However, they tried to make it look as it it had been, unlike most other professional Lego films. For example, the legs of the minifigures do not bend.

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Judge spanks SCO in ancient ownership of Unix lawsuit

MacroRodent
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groklaw and grokthelaw

I'm surprised the file is at groklaw.net, which PJ stopped updating over a year ago. Maybe she saw this news as important enough (in any case, there is no link to it at the front page).

But this news and related discussion can be found at http://grokthelaw.freeforums.net/ which was set up to try to continue Groklaw, but is not affiliated with it (and has been a rather quiet place).

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Dr. Dobb's Journal sails into the sunset - yet again

MacroRodent
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Went downhill even earlier

I used to subcribe to it in the 1990's, but stopped because at some point too much of the magazine started to be full off tips and tricks specific to Windows programmers, and I just didn't care to read about the finer points of OLE automation. Older Dr.Dobbs tended to be useful for programmers on all platforms. Besides it was no longer tongue in cheek, hacker style had changed into white shirt and tie...

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Microsoft whips out real-time translator for Skype calls

MacroRodent
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Boffin

Re: German

It obviously has to wait for the ends of sentences, and not just for German. As anyone who has done translation the old fashioned way knows, words usually cannot be translated properly without knowing the context, and the word order often has to be rearranged for the result to sound natural in the target language.

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Web daddy Sir Tim Berners-Lee: Back off Putin, I'm no CIA stooge

MacroRodent
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Re: No such thing

even education although it should be a right is not basic.

In a modern society, not being able to read, write and to do simple arithmetic relegates one to a second-class citizen status, with hardly any jobs available. Therefore at least the elementary education should be considered a basic right in our current society.

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Google App Engine has THIRTY flaws, says researcher

MacroRodent
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Re: Do these flaws apply to all GAE; or just to Java GAE instances

I also wonder if they escaped the Java sandbox only to be confined in a private Linux virtual machine instance. Or does Google run multiple Java sandboxes in one (real or virtual ) host? The latter case would make the exploit very bad news.

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Yotaphone 2: The two-faced pocket-stroker with '100 hours' batt life

MacroRodent
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designed by ex-nokia guys

The YotaPhone was actually designed in Oulu, Finland by a team which included ex-Nokia engineers.

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Apple knob refusenik Sir Jony Ive handed award - for talking BOLLOCKS

MacroRodent
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Re: Crown is correct

Maybe it was common parlance when wrist watches were the kings of personal technology, but Ive's reference to it is the first I have seen for many years.

(I stopped wearing wristwatches years ago, because they seriously irritated my problematic skin, particularly in winter, and the mobile phone became available as an adequate replacement timepiece. Apple and others can keep their smartwatches as far as I am concerned).

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Orion: To Mars, the Moon and beyond... but first, a TEST FLIGHT through Van Allen belt

MacroRodent
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Boffin

Re: Competing with Soyuz...

So in order to have heavy shielding we're going to have use an absurdly large number of launches to get it up there

The radiation refuge for the crew (where they would sleep and otherwise spend as much of their time as possible) could be a polyethylene sphere some metres across inside and with 2m walls (some article or other on SciAm suggested that is enough). The weight of this component is in the 100's of tons, could be launched in 2..3 parts on existing launchers. This sphere could of course be reused on multiple flights.

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systemd row ends with Debian getting forked

MacroRodent
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Re: enterprise systemd

>Depends on your definition of pretty soon.

Well, two or three years... The server guys here are just starting to install RHEL6 instead of RHEL5, and we have just barely got rid of RHEL4...

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MacroRodent
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enterprise systemd

> Of course not that it would matter much in the enterprise, systemd has never been there and never will.

systemd is in RHEL7, so it will be in widespread enterprise use pretty soon.

I'm personally still suspending judgement on systemd for lack of experience with, but that is likely to change, as I am seeing more and more of it at work, as Linux systems get upgraded.

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Ten excellent FREE PC apps to brighten your Windows

MacroRodent
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Re: VLC

> Why does everyone love VLC so much, I've always found it to be resource hungry and buggy.

I at least have not found it to be resource hungry and buggy. Don't know about loving it, but since VLC generally plays any type of media I throw at it, and is free, I tend to install it on any computer I use for any period of time.

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MacroRodent
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Re: Cygwin

The trouble with Cygwin is that it runs applications on a kind of Unix/Linux compatibility layer, which leads to various impedance mismatches with Windows. For example, under Cygwin file name wildcard expansion is done case-sensitively, which is OK for Linux, but frustrating on Windows. Performance also suffers. If you want to use Linux apps on Windows, a better solution is to run a real Linux distribution inside VMWare or VirtualBox.

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