* Posts by Dave 126

6264 posts • joined 21 Jul 2010

BBC risks wrath of android rights activists with Robot Wars reboot

Dave 126
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Re: apex predators

Actually, screw the BBC and let's launch the Reg Automonous Robot Death Match* tournament of our own.

As a bonus, it would make the forums more fun to moderate:

Sir, you have downvoted me and I demand satisfaction! Robots at dawn! Or about ten am if you want to get a full English first!

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Dave 126
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Re: apex predators

Yeah, the problem with the original show was that Robot A might be destroyed on its first round, and unable to compete. Why is this an issue? Because if one accepts a Rock-Paper-Scissors scenario as plausible, it makes competitor's fate luck of the draw.

So:

Contestants, working within material and construction constraints, submit their designs to the BBC. If there robot is damaged, new parts are laser-cut and 3D printed by the BBC, and assembled by the team. The team may also choose from a limited, but wide, selection of off-the-shelf components (Bloggs disc saws, Jones' hammer heads and centre-punches, etc, nuts, bolts, ) Hell, having the teams assemble their components into a robot could be a competitive round in its own right, rewarding design-for-maintenance)

Having robots that are smaller, lighter aqnd quicker to make using simpler tools (once custom laser and £d-printed parts are supplied) would result in a more rapid 'evolution' of the teams' designs.

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Dave 126
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Re: Pah. RC models vs more RC Models

>Why even bother with the physical machines smashing each other up?

Because software without hardware can be boring.

With the hardware, teams will be composed of people with different skillsets, as well as encouraging young people to learn practical skills.

Personally, I'd like to autonomous robot wars, with standard constraints. Just as an example:

- The CPU must be a XYZ with an RST GPU, programed in [language]

- Power supplies must be no more than N x li-ion batteries of DEF variety. If this was a commercial show, they could have sponsorship from an 18v powertool manufacturer, and state that all 'bots must use Ryobi/Makita/whoever model BAT018 batteries, for consistency.

I'd even be tempted to specify standard materials ( "No more than X Kg of 3mm sheet aluminium, X Kg of standard PLA or ABS polymer, X Kg misc, etc"), to place the emphasis on design and engineering, and not just whose dad has access to a milling machine. The materials I've specced can be easily worked (with a jigsaw, or laser-cut by a bueaea, or 3D printed) in almost any garage.

Just ideas.

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Dave 126
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That would be interesting, but might result in some boring matches (Robot A mistakes wall for Robot B, Robot B spins in circles).

The BBC could specify a standard processor and suitable language for programming the robots.

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Dave 126
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A man walked into a bar... and said ouch*

*I'm unable to provide any evidence or witnesses to this event. Sorry.

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Engineer's bosses gave him printout of his Yahoo IMs. Euro court says it's OK

Dave 126
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Re: Separate work from private life!

>I bet most people currently use a mobile phone for private comms, not their work desktop.

Exactly. This story begins in 2007, when smart-phones as we now know them weren't yet ubiquitous (and, more importantly perhaps, mobile data tariffs were still on the pricey side even for those with the handsets).

If he wanted to be really sly in this day and age, he could use a Bluethtooth keyboard equipped with a device-selection switch, so he can quickly change between typing into his desktop and into his phone.

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Dave 126
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> "[T]he court finds that it is not unreasonable for an employer to want to verify that the employees are completing their professional tasks during working hours."

Reading between the lines, it seems he was taking the piss a little bit.... had he just had a few short IM exchanges a week with his fiancée, along the lines of "I'll working late tonight, so hold dinner. X", there probably wouldn't have been a problem. As portrayed in the article, it sounds like he wasn't doing his work.

[I tried to follow the link, but it doesn't lead to an article]

Had the company policy been in place through fear of confidential company information being sent to unknown 3rd parties, they would have taken pre-emptive safeguards against IM and the like.

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Whatever Android-ChromeOS mashup looks like, it's gotta be better looking than this

Dave 126
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Whoops!!

In my comment above, I meant Chrome OS, not Chromium OS! D'Oh!

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Dave 126
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Re: Are you kidding me ?

@Qwertius

You need to read the article in the context of continued speculation about Google's plans for Chromium OS and Android.

see: http://arstechnica.co.uk/gadgets/2016/01/2016-google-tracker-everything-google-is-working-on-for-the-new-year/2/#h3 for the background.

As such, the article is a bit of fun, in the spirit of "What X *might* look like..."

Take it easy!

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BlackBerry baffled by Dutch cops' phone encryption cracked brag

Dave 126
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Re: Propaganda

Indeed. Spreading this 'news' might the effect of making the criminals or whoever wary of using their existing communication techniques, if only for a short while. There might then be knock-on effects that the police can take advantage of, such as more face-to-face meetings between criminals.

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Boffins switch on pinchfist incandescent bulb

Dave 126
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The above link kindly supplied by Whitter, above, is well worth two minutes of your time to read, IMHO.

Thank you.

It then lead me to start reading more generally about 'femtosecond lasers' and their current and future applications.

Now I've lost a bit more time than just two minutes!

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Dave 126
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Re: black-body radiation...

>Still at least you didn't copy the bit from the Daily Telegraph's "science editor" who described the incandescent filament as emitting

The MIT news letter uses the same phrase.

http://news.mit.edu/2016/nanophotonic-incandescent-light-bulbs-0111

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Dave 126
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Re: Sounds expensive

>As Da Vinci noted: Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. And usually a lot cheaper.

An LED light is more complicated and expensive than an incandescent bulb, but cheaper to run.

A bicycle is more complicated and expensive than a sled, but more efficient in many circumstances.

So, as others have noted: Horses (or bicycles, or sleds, or camels, depending) for courses.

Or: Anyone who overgeneralises is always an idiot. : p

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Future Snowden hunt starts with audit of NSA spooks' privileges

Dave 126
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Re: Shurley some mishtake

>Richard Chirgwin's "sudo cp -R * /dev/DVD" has multiple problems.

Maybe it was a deliberate mistake, in the same way Frederick Forsyth includes deliberate errors in his books (to avoid accusations of providing instructions to ne'er-do-wells)? In any case, the next Snowden is unlikely to look to Reg headlines for their MO!

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Discworld fans stake claim to element 117

Dave 126
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Hmmm, Travoltium.... urghhh

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Dave 126
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Re: Petition fatigue

Man: However, I would just like to add a complaint about shows that have too many complaints in them as they get very tedious for the average viewer.

Another Man: I'd like to complain about people who hold things up by complaining about people complaining. It's about time something was done about it. [sixteen-ton weight falls on him]

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Dave 126
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Feynman was well known for playing bongos.

Einstein, who of course already has an element named after him, was also an amateur violin player. During one attempted duet, Einstein's musician friend declared in exasperation "My God Albert, can't you count?!"

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Dave 126
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>It might be modern, but it's still myth:

>Myth - from the Greek word mythos (μύθος), which simply means "story".

The same could be said of Bowie's alter egos as well!

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Dave 126
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Scientist's tribute to Terry Pratchett

Physicist Len Fisher pays tribute to Pratchett's scientific observations.

http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/scienceshow/2016-01-02/7051062 link to webpage where MP3 can be downloaded from.

Example:

It’s very hard to talk quantum using a language originally designed to tell other monkeys where the ripe fruit is.'

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Dave 126
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Just as a quick game, which musicians are also scientists?

William Herschel, composer and astronomer.

Brian May, who has played with Bowie on Queen's Under Pressure, has his PhD for zodiacal dust.... who else? Join in, folks!

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David Bowie: Musician, actor... tech admirer

Dave 126
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Re: Ground Control to Major Tomb

Probably not - had he carried on by bounds of what was considered conventionally decent? In any case, he was ahead of you - a deceased astronaut features in Bowie's recent 'Blackstar' video. Much of that album, only released a couple of days ago, and its associated imagery takes on a new feeling in the wake of this sad news, the inevitably of which he had clearly grokked some time ago.

But hey, he's stage-managed his own departure! I can't think of a better way to go for a man who lived by playing with the myth of rock n roll, a genre known for elevating its deceased.

Well played, that man.

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Anyone using M-DISC to archive snaps?

Dave 126
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Re: Solves only the easy problem

Even storing a reader won't help because data interfaces and even power ones changes enough to make old readers unusable on newer system.

You have a pile of strange, shiny flat discs with a hole in the middle. You take a microscope to them and find patterns of dots, either pits or dye. You find quite a few mechanisms in former landfill heaps, in strata contemporary with the discs. Physically, the strange discs fit the strange machines, both in the outer diameter and sometimes the inner hole too. You take the machines apart, and see a little lens mounted on a screw-thread. You know what a screw thread is. You twizzle it, and the mounted component moves radially with respect to the disc.

You have a few of these machines, so you decide to experiment...

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Dave 126
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Re: Solves only the easy problem

I'm no expert, but what are the possibilities of bitrot when copying DVDs from generation to the next? Or rather, how does one ( by choice choice of file system, method of error checking when making new copies etc) limit/eliminate the impact of small errors on compressed (jpg etc) files?

If one uses a more capable but lesser-used file system, would it result in a greater headache for future librarians?

>(google for heroic efforts to extract data from old NASA tapes).

That was a system only used by a small number of people. The same is true iof the BBC LaserDisc-based hybrid digital data and analogue video overlay system used in the 1980s BBC Domesday project.

DVD drives are so common today that finding one in 50 years time (if only to reverse-engineer a non-functioning one) is likely to be easy.

(Whoah, DVD drives.... every laptop and desktop I've had in the last 15 years has had one, various units under the television, a games console or two... it's got be getting close to a dozen DVD drives at least, and I'm just one person. )

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VW floats catalytic converter as fix for fibbing diesels

Dave 126
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Re: VW floats catalytic converter as fix for fibbing diesels

@Swamp Dog

I think the reason The Quiet One was downvoted was because he launched attacks on both people who fetishised fast cars, and also those who just see their cars as tools for going from A to B.

Internally consistent comments are usually treated more seriously.

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It's replicant Roy Batty's birthday – but hey, where's my killer robot?

Dave 126
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Re: Deckard

The confirmation is the little piece of folded paper he drops on the threshold at the end of the film, when considered with Deckard's dream. I mean the proper end of the film, not the bolted-on aerial landscape footage from The Shining that Kubrick gave to Scott.

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Dave 126
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Re: A more intresting representation of AI in films

That Domhall Gleeson is getting around sci-fi films. As well as being the lead in Ex Machina, he's the hapless hacker in Dredd 3D, and a [redacted] in the new Star Wars.

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Dave 126
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Re: Seems Herbert and Dick had similar ideas

The original Duncan Idaho was a real human, but in later books duplicate Duncans were grown in tanks.

I've just finished watching the excellent comedy series Other Space from Yahoo! that features a man grown in a tank (to be a supply of spare organs for his older brother). The series is like a cross between Red Dwarf and Community, and fingers crossed another network picks it up for a second series now that Yahoo! has gone belly-up.

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Smartphone hard, dudes, like it’s the end of the world!

Dave 126
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Software SIM

I'd be great to just leave one's house with a suitable phone... a cheap one for drunk nights out, a big rugged one for weekend camping trips, a fancier phone for that long rail commute.

However, being tied to a physical SIM is an issue. Yeah, I can shrug off the loss of a £20 phone on a night out, but not having my SIM for a couple of days will still be inconvenient.

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Swiss try to wind up Apple with $25k dumb-watch

Dave 126
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Re: Acceptable Levels of Accuracy?

>Colin Wilson 2

You misquoted me, you naughty man you!

I wrote "and that's grand" (meaning 'that's good and I respect your point of view'), whereas you misquoted me as writing "and that's a grand" (meaning around £1,000).

Feel free to use square brackets to indicate added text!

Cheers!

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Dave 126
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Re: Acceptable Levels of Accuracy?

Well yeah, you choose that watch that suits you. Sounds like you want a radio-controlled, clear dialled watch, and that's grand. A diver will choose an appropriate watch, a lumberjack might use a G-Shock. Rolex made watches for physicists (Milguas), and others have incorporated slide-rules around the dial.

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Dave 126
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Surely the apogee of English watch-making was George Daniels? Every part of the watch he would make by hand, taking over 2,500 hours, and Omega licensed his dual-axial escapement.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Daniels_(watchmaker)

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Dave 126
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>Casio? Doesn't that make you a terrorist?

Worse - it makes you a hipster!

There is a weird phenomena of "I have a trust fund but I am wearing a £6 watch because I don't want you to hate me - but hey I've been travelling to exotic locations where one doesn't wear something I might get mugged for".

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Dave 126
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>Ive could not come up with anything new.

Marc Newson was a part of the Apple Watch team, and it looks very similar to the Manatee watch Newson designed in the nineties for his brand Ikepod.

Copying yourself is perfectly acceptable!

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Dave 126
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Re: watches

The astronaut in Ridley Scott's film The Martian wears a Hamilton - though you have to be watching closely to spot it. The contrast to the James Bond film Skyfall where the camera lingers on 007's Omega for no artistic reason is refreshing.

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Dave 126
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Re: Ive actually said that?

>I've always thought that Ive's comment about Swiss watchmakers was tongue-in-cheek. Did I give him too much credit?

It was tongue-in-cheek, and reported anomalously by someone near to his team. Who here hasn't joked around with colleagues during a drawn out project?

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Dave 126
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Re: Ive actually said that?

Jony Ive's not competing with the luxury watch market, since the Apple Watch is in the $500 - $1000 range - that's about the same as a steel and sapphire Tag Heuer with a quartz movement. The gold edition watch was a bit of fun for publicity's sake.

Ive understands the luxury watch market better than you think - at least he knows the ultra-rich don't just have one watch, they have several. At he conference last summer he said:

“I don’t see how we can compare these wonderful mechanical watches that we own and a product that has such a comprehensive functionality and capability that will grow and change beyond our imagining,”

The only area fit for comparison is the fit and finish of the watches, which even watch nerds agree is impeccable on the Apple watch. Of course Ive is 'cheating', by using ultra-high tolerance mass-production methods (such as lasers and Renishaw CMM probes) that Apple use in their previous products.

Of course, the Apple watch is a typically compromised MK I Apple product (like the first iPod, iPhone and and iPad) that is intended to be a placeholder in the market place until the technology catches up.

Jony Ive is actually a bit of a fan of mechanical watches, having designed a watch for Jaeger-LeCoultre with his colleague Marc Newson. Newson himself had his own mechanical watch brand - the Ikepod Manatee is an obvious forebear to the Apple watch.

If Sir Jony had a total lack of style or appreciation of design, he wouldn't own a black Bentley Mulsanne and an Aston Martin DB4.

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The designer of the IBM ThinkPad has died

Dave 126
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Another Sapper design

He was also famous for his adjustable Tizo desk lamp, which I saw in the London Design useum years ago. We were told that a little red-tipped stalk was added to the lamp head against Richard Sapper's original design, users were burning their hands on the hot halogen bulb (or worse, leave the lamp resting on some desk papers and start a fire)

Thanks to LED bulbs, he lamp is now sold as he designed it.

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Dave 126
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>I still use a ThinkPad X61. It was the last ultraportable with a 4:3 screen;

Yep! The only thing close is the 3:2 screen on a MS Surface Book, but it has some compromises (and strengths) of is own.

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Ten years in, ultra-high-def gets a standard

Dave 126
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Re: Really shit the bed with this spec

If they set the standards too high, there would be very few televisions that would qualify. As it is, the only 2015 set that might qualify retrospectively (through possible firmware update) uses a combination of quantum dot and multi-point back-lighting technologies.

Note also there are two parts of the standard - one for LED sets, and one for OLED, since they traditionally have had different strengths.

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Dave 126
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More excited about the dynamic range than the resolution

see above

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SpaceX makes rocket science look easy: Falcon 9 passes tests

Dave 126
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Re: @Dave How many times?

@Ian Michael Gumby

Sorry mate, I didn't down vote you.

However, I am guilty of 'replying' to your post, and then failing to write what i originally meant to... mainly because I would have been mostly musing on the state-of-the-art of non-destructive-testing of used rockets as regards quality control of new units. I apologise for straying off your topic. Genuinely.

As for the first moments in orbit details, those came from the autobiography of a NASA astronaut. Apparently, all those terrestrial centrifuges give no idea whatsoever as to who will succumb to nausea in microgravity, and a jab in the arse is standard procedure (it's a larger target than the arm for the 'stabees', who are themselves floating around the gaff) for those who feel sick. The rest of the book was a reminder of how ridiculously qualified this guy was - IIRC, a full medical doctor, pilot, and he completed special forces physical training. Being jabbed in the backside was amongst the least of the physical discomforts he endured to attain his dream.

Hope you get to get to enjoy some awe-inspiring views in 2016, be them in orbit, atop a mountain or under the sea. Without the blisters, altitude sickness or odd jellyfish sting, it wouldn't feel the same!

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Dave 126
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Re: How many times?

At this stage of the game, I would still be apprehensive about sitting atop a rocket on its very first trip to orbit. SpaceX themselves have had a rocket explode before it reached orbit, though their recent success strongly suggests they correctly identified the issue (a dodgy strut IIRC).

There will come, I hope, a point at which the risk is low enough that I would decide it is worth it to experience being in orbit... even if my first minutes in microgravity include me vomiting whilst a crewmate (or rather, flight attendant) pulls down my trousers and injects a syringe of anti-nausea medication into my buttock.

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The Register's entirely serious New Year's resolutions for 2016

Dave 126
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>Does this mean we'll see an end to the moronic use of "she" and "her" in articles rather than the more appropriate gender neutral terms?

Didn't we play out this discussion a couple of months back? Just saying.

You can make a hypothetical physicist any damn sex you want, and hell, Alice and Bob stories are easier to parse for having a mix of pronouns. Example:

Andrew tripped over Bob's desk and spilt his tea over his book. Ambiguous. Whereas:

Alice tripped over Bob's desk and spilt her tea over his book.

Alice tripped over Bob's desk and spilt her tea over her book.

Alice tripped over Bob's desk and spilt his tea over her book.

Alice tripped over Bob's desk and spilt his tea over his book.

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Dave 126
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Re: You are the correct.

>Throw Wired in with that lot too.... I don't even bother if I see the link leads to Wired.

The only decent thing Wired has done of late is to syndicate articles from, and thus bring my attention to: https://www.quantamagazine.org/

Now I just go straight there and skip Wired.

Quanta Magazine is an editorially independent online publication launched by the Simons Foundation to enhance public understanding of science.

Our reporters focus on developments in mathematics, theoretical physics, theoretical computer science and the basic life sciences. The best traditional news organizations provide excellent reporting on developments in health, medicine, technology and engineering. We strive to complement and augment existing media coverage, not compete with it.

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Dave 126
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Re: Better late than never

This article outlining the plan for 2016 is encouraging.

However, I also largely agree with what Gordon said above.

A belated Happy Birthday to the Reg!

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Here's your Linux-booting PS4, says fail0verflow

Dave 126
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Re: Typo?

PS2.

IIRC you needed a certain buggy game to break it, but then you had a handy network media player and C64 et al emulator. The only bit of PS2 hardware that was lacking was that that it didn't have USB 2 ports, so couldn't play AVI files from a memory stick.

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2016 in mobile: Visit a components mall in China... 30 min later, you're a manufacturer

Dave 126
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Re: Lol

Arguably they do. However, they are not making enough money from their fine handsets. They have vowed to sat in the game though, despite making losses.

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Dave 126
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Re: Maybe smartwatches are just ahead of their time?

The fashion at the moment is for large watches, 42mm or thereabouts. It might be that the people who can afford to buy a $1000+ tend to be older and thus might have weaker eyes,or it might just be that they want they expensive flashy item to be even more visible to others.

Personally, I favour a smaller watch with a rotating bezel, allowing me to see 'at a glance' the time, and the bezel allows for a very quick 'note' of the time, so I remember when to return to the car park to avoid a ticket, or when when to return to the kitchen to avoid a burnt dinner. So quick, so easy, so free of fumbling into a pocket for a phone and unlocking it and summoning up the countdown timer and then entering the desired number of minutes.

(Of course, if you still have an old Nokia, you can set a timer without needing to even look at the phone. Lets see now.... 'unlock star 5243 20'.... or was that to set the language to Norwegian, I forget. )

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Dave 126
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Re: Andrew !

"Rude alert! An electrical fire has knocked out my voice recognition unicycle! Many Wurlitzers are missing from my database. Abandon shop! This is not a daffodil."

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Dave 126
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Re: I do like the photo of the Apple Mouse

Function is a large part of design, they are not separate realms. It's a misconception so common that Dieter Rams prefers 'Form Engineer'.

I'm not sure why the USB port is underneath the Apple mouse, as opposed to on the 'nose' as it is on my Logitech wireless rodent. That said, the battery lasts so long I very seldom bother having the mouse plugged in whilst I am using it. This particular issue with the Apple mouse might be even less significant if the battery lasts for months on a single charge, as many mice do.

It doesn't matter to a user if a good idea is borrowed or stolen. Apple nabbed the iPod's scroll wheel from a Bang and Olufsen telephone, which made the iPod quicker to use than the otherwise superior iRiver H320 PMP. And who knows, maybe B&O themselves were 'inspired' by the jog wheel on a Sony analogue video-editing workstation? It really doesn't matter.

Apple have made some missteps, but there are enough examples of when they have included features that make life easier for the user.

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