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* Posts by AdamT

201 posts • joined 7 Sep 2010

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Adrian Mole author Sue Townsend dies at 68

AdamT

Awkward conversations

Ah yes, the days when parents let their young teens read the first book and prepared themselves for the awkward questions afterwards. (*)

"Mum? What are ..."

<what's she going to ask? what's she going to ask!?>

" ... Tunisian Baggage Handlers?"

(genuinely happened to some family friends)

(*) As the article alludes, these were probably the first (or at least the first, successful) Young Adult/Aimed at Teens books that frankly discussed a number of topics that were formerly "behind the bike sheds"/"unsubstantiated gossip"/"things the older kids told you (or lied to you) about" areas!

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Reg LOHAN spaceplane: Punch and Judy show in comedy non-explosive climax

AdamT

Hydrogen? Helium?

I may have slightly lost track of the latest plan but I though Helium was very much the SPB lift gas of choice (for lots of good reasons involving proximity of rockets, ignitors, etc.).

But those tanks are bright red, which I thought was the tank colour of Hydrogen?

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Eco-friendly fluid keeps SGI supercomputer cool and moist

AdamT

Re: Aesthetics

Bit like this perhaps? http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cray_X-MP.jpg

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The... Windows... XPocalypse... is... NIGH

AdamT

Re: Microsoft missed an opportunity here...

It's almost as if you read Trev's previous post :-)

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/04/02/the_mathematics_of_trust/

He reckoned about $65 per year should hit the mark as an amount businesses would pay and enough to directly fund the necesary staff at MS. With the added bonus to MS of getting lots of people used to the idea of paying for an OS by annual subscription...

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Nominet bins Optical Express' appeal against 'It ruined my life' website

AdamT

Sarcastic Panel

No way was the "eye-wateringly high" line an innocent and coincidental choice of phrasing!

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Want to see at night? Here comes the infrared CONTACT LENS

AdamT

Graphene ...

... now you're just showing off.

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LOHAN team gears up for Punch and Judy show

AdamT

That carbon rod ...

... is it inanimate?

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ECCENTRIC, PINK DWARF dubbed 'Biden' by saucy astronomers

AdamT

It's a nice idea but I don't think our technology is up to it. Firstly you'd need an imaging system on it that could spot these objects from many AU away and secondly you'd need a pretty awesome propulsion system to get out of the earth's orbit around the sun and into a new perpendicular one.

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Middle England's allotments become metric battlefield

AdamT

More or Less ...

... on Radio 4 covered this, I thought, pretty completely: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01p8bs2

But, having just listened again, I don't hear them mention "pole" though ....

Interestingly the Romans seemed to like the idea of "metricated" multiples as there was a Roman mile of 60,000 inches (as opposed to the normal mile of 63,360 inches, obviously).

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Battery vendors push ultracapacitor wrappers to give Li-ions more bite

AdamT

A level physics confusion?

So, I recall from A level physics (*) that you will always waste 50% of the energy if you charge a capacitor from a fixed voltage. Basic idea being that energy in cap is 0.5 x C x V x V but that the energy supplied from the fixed voltage source is Q x V = (C x V) x V. I guess these days you can use some clever electronics to break the assumption of fixed voltage, but even so there must be some losses, right? As well as the increased complexity of the combined cap/battery/electronics.

* - a while ago, deduceable from the fact that I also have a physics O-Level ...

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Why can’t I walk past Maplin without buying stuff I don’t need?

AdamT

Re: RS?

What about Machine Mart? Where do you stand on that?

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Roll up, roll up for the Commentards' Ball

AdamT

unfortunately that pub got turned into apartments. (let's see if a google streetview link works)

https://maps.google.co.uk/maps?q=39+Monson+Road,+SE14&hl=en&ll=51.477954,-0.047715&spn=0.000007,0.004549&sll=51.537794,-0.101624&sspn=0.55607,1.164551&t=h&hnear=39+Monson+Rd,+London+SE14+5EQ,+United+Kingdom&z=18&layer=c&cbll=51.477954,-0.047715&panoid=g5APZIJzrVnWGd3Z_WRAJw&cbp=12,355,,0,-5.94

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US Senator lobbies feds to BAN BITCOIN

AdamT

Re: "the currency helps facilitate criminal activity"

True that there are controls on cash entering/leaving the banking system (and in the UK too, as per Condiment's comment) but presumably you can still have a fairly significant chunk of the ecomony operating as cash that never enters/leaves a bank account? I wonder what the figure is of actual physical cash as a fraction of total ammount of currency (if that is even measureable) and whether you can establish a figure representing what fraction of that circulates entirely physically?

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Blighty's banks prep for repeated kicks to cyber-'nads in Operation Waking Shark II

AdamT

No matter how many times I read the headline, it seems that the use of "-'nads" (*) conditions my brain to mis-read "waking" and makes me think "hmm, didn't know sharks were in to that sort of thing. Thought that was dolphins".

Naughty headline writers forcing our innocent reader's brains to think of such things...

(*) Could also be "Banks", I suppose.

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Backup software for HDD and Cloud

AdamT

Re: Backup software for HDD and Cloud

Upvote for Cloudberry (and their technical support). I've used it for a couple of years running off WHS (and now from Server 2012 Essentials) to backup to Amazon S3 but it now supports loads of other destinations too. So kind of a double backup really: PC -> WHS/Essentials -> S3

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Tesla battery fire pushes beleaguered firm's share price even lower

AdamT

Indeed - think about how many millions (billions? trillions?) of man-hours of development have led to the current state of safety for trains, planes and automobiles with regard to both their flamable fuel (which Tesla need to do again for batteries) and with things like crumple zones, body cages, etc. (which Tesla can just use as is).

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Boffins build R2-WEE-2: The urine-powered robot with a human-like heart

AdamT

Re: I was going to make a "Spare some piss guv?" joke

You could have gone with "Spare a penny, guv?"

Or is that just a UK-ism?

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LOHAN's mighty thruster poised for hot coupling

AdamT

Tearing foil?

bit of a repost but:

How about using strips of foil that have a notch in them? If you align the clamps at each end of the foil to be slightly non-parallel then you can make sure that the tearing force concentrates at the notch. Bit like tearing a sheet of paper by putting a fold in it, making a small tear at the top and then just pulling the top corners.

Should be fairly robust and flexible on the way up if the rocket wobbles with respect to the truss but should tear with pretty minimal force when the rocket wants to leave.

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Could Doctor Who really bump into human space dwellers?

AdamT

Working both ends of the problem

Clearly I'm not an expert (as I shall now reveal with this question) but, as well as trying to mitigate the amount of damaging radiation that hits you in the first place - with lead, water, "force fields", etc. - what are the prospects for being able to just fix the damage?

Medical nano technology clearly isn't there yet, but is it within in the realms of plausibility (in the same kind of timescales that we are talking about for travelling to Mars, etc.) to imagine that you could have nanobots roaming within you that could just fix up a reasonable amount of the radiation damage or at least cleanly dispose of newly formed cancerous cells, etc.?

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Google barge erection hypegasm latest - What's in the box?

AdamT

If only all the other agencies of the US government were as well mannered and discreet as the Californian Coast Guard...

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DON'T BREW THAT CUPPA! Your kettle could be a SPAMBOT

AdamT

Re: They used to be protected against the Irons.

Doesn't have quite the same ring to it though:

<grave(*) voice>

From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic a kettle curtain has descended across the Continent...

</grave voice>

(*) - or churchillian, indeed

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How I BLEW my co-workers' HEADS OFF ... without going to jail

AdamT

Re: Self Curling?

Even though it was full of computers the desks were those lab bench type things with thin metal legs bolted to the (polished wood) floor. So you self launched on your 5-point caster chair down one aisle by grabbing one table leg and one bookcase and then had to handle the cornering force to do a right angle turn off the last table leg into the second aisle. Points awarded for accuracy of the right angle turn and speed with which you hit the cupboard at the end of the second aisle (which obviously required you to have achieved a reasonably accurate turn).

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Oz racehorse shod with 3D-printed titanium hoofwear

AdamT

Re: Wow.

and the other half of the farriers job is trimming the hoof itself. Now I appreciate that part of the trimming is to help it fit the shoe, so arguably that part becomes unnecessary, but the other purpose of the trimming is also just general "hoof care" so will still be needed.

<serious comment in reply to delightfully subtle sarcastic one!>

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AdamT

Re: If only someone had told them..

Having just read Charles Stross' "Equoid" this half-horse comment raises further disturbing mental images and also the thought that horse shoes made of lead might be safer...

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Slip your SIM into a plastic sheath, WIPE international call charges

AdamT

Re: A neat trick

I'm reminded of a science fiction story - probably Arthur C Clarke, possibly "Imperial Earth" - in which he notes the momentous day on which every phone call on the planet, to/from anywhere, became a "local call". I'm also guessing that he reckoned that date should already have passed but it seems that in real life we have some way to go.

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Boffins spot LONE PLANET roaming interstellar void

AdamT

got to find your multipass first though?

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AdamT

Re: Daleks

I always found that hiding behind a large cushion or your Dad worked too. Now that I am a Dad I'm thinking there is a flaw in this theory ...

Unless in becoming a Dad you acquire invulnerability to DWE's. Or perhaps you just acquire the appearance of such invulnerability. Hmmm.

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Brit boson boffin Higgs bags Nobel with eponymous deiton

AdamT

Re: These guys are old.

Although there are many cases in science/maths where the person who has their name on it isn't necessarily the most deserving of it (a) this isn't the case this time and (b) there would be a certain confusion caused by awarding the nobel prize "to Alice, Bob and Carol (but not Dave) for the discovery of the Dave particle".

c.f. my frothing at the mouth when anyone suggests the UK should drop GMT. "But the G stands for Greenwich - which is right over there! I can see it out my window! Look! Look at it! There's a hill with the observatory on top! You can go and stand on 0 degrees! Arrrggghhhhh!"

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British support for fracking largely unmoved by knowledge of downsides

AdamT

To be fair to the media (*)

I wasn't really paying much attention and I still ended knowing two "facts" about the protest:

1 - that it was a protest against fracking at an oil drilling site (turned out to be correct)

2 - that some of the protesters had previous form protesting against coal mine closures (no idea if true or not but seemed kind of hypocritcal)

(*) - although it does feel weird

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Our magnificent Vulture 2 spaceplane: Intimate snaps

AdamT

Re: Aamzing!

About 10 years ago the company I worked for was offered a trial of an incredibly expensive 3d printing machine and my first question was "do you reckon you could print a nut and bolt that were screwed together, take it out the machine and unscrew it?". The general consensus was "no, not really". But seeing the detail you've got there, I'm starting to think maybe we're nearly there ...

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Thorium and inefficient solar power? That's good enough for me

AdamT

Re: Thorium reactors

I guess I have the same questions about the Fusion Polywell thing (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polywell). Sounds plausible (to a non-physicist) but "what's the catch?". Even the initial estimates of the cost to produce a realistic sized prototype were being quoted in units of $100M as opposed to investments in "standard" fusion which is measured in $10B units. The cost of just building a plain old nuclear plant are measured in $100M to $1B units. So by any of those measures isn't it worth just building a bigger polywell and finding out?

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Douglas Adams was RIGHT! TINY ALIENS are invading Earth, say boffins

AdamT

Re: Journal of Cosmology?

well, you had your cake with the headline but you got to eat it too with these gems: "(get your pinch of salt ready)" and, my fave, "suspiciously easy to read" !

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AdamT

Re: Journal of Cosmology?

The Bad Astronomer has a full takedown on this: http://www.slate.com/blogs/bad_astronomy/2013/09/20/et_claims_of_alien_life_in_earth_s_atmosphere_are_unfounded.html

tl;dr - is this evidence of microbes from space? No, not even close

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First rigid airship since the Hindenburg cleared for outdoor flight trials

AdamT

Something new

Isn't there a bit of a risk that if you attempt an analysis based on "this is how freight and passengers currently move around the world using method X,Y and Z so new method Q will only be able to take r% of the traffic" then you are not taking into account new traffic generation? The last couple of decades have shown that, yes, some new technogies really are just solutions looking for needs (and disappear shortly thereafter) but that in some cases it turns out there was a hidden need that just wasn't serviced by X,Y or Z but for which Q is just perfect. I don't have any ideas what that might be in this case but, for example, everyone who analysed the mobile phone market 10 years ago and said "I've analysed current phone usage and there is no demand for a phone that is too big to fit in your pocket and, seriously, why would it need a camera?" is probably feeling pretty silly now.

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Smartwatch craze is all just ONE OFF THE WRIST

AdamT

and if you held them near the ferrite rod at the back of an AM radio you could hear tones? Or am I confusing that with something else?

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Hypersonic 'scramjet' aims for Mach 8 test flight

AdamT

Re: Scramjets?

well, there's SpaceX and ReactionEngines but, yes, this does seem a bit like trying to run before you can walk...

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Guardian lets UK spooks trash 'Snowden files' PCs to make them feel better

AdamT

Re: Suggested equivalents:

Watching someone feed the offending document into a shredder as you all stand around in a room that you earlier wallpapered with photocopies of that document.

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AdamT

In the context of someone saying "Now we want the stuff back" about a digital file I think we have to resort to mis-quoting Babbage: "I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a demand."

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Werner Herzog's latest film warns drivers not to text while driving

AdamT

Re: The UK seat-belt PSA

oh, the one that ends with something like "... and then, after he had killed her, he sat back down" ? Yes, even thinking of it again now gives me the shivers (in a bad way).

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Serious Farce Office: 32K secret BAE probe files spaffed to WRONG bod

AdamT

Re: Mr. Archibald Buttle

Don't you mean Tuttle ... <bzzzt> ... Tuttle ... <bzzzt> ... Tuttle ... <splat> <brrt> ... Buttle ... <bzzzt> Tuttle ?

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The terrifying tech behind this summer's zombie assault

AdamT

Re: Rotoscoping

If I recall, by the end of the film it was actually most of the orcs, etc. too. Started to get a bit off-putting as I felt the movements were too realistic espcially in comparison next to the clearly still animated main characters. At the time I heard that doing the "crowd scenes" this way was cheaper as there were some financial difficulties (hence no part 2, etc.). Hiring a bunch of people to dress up a bit and run around some fields waving swords then hiring people who can trace over them is presumably cheaper than hiring a sufficient number of qualified animators.

Surprised that A Scanner Darkly didn't get mentioned in the context of rotoscoping. Whatever you thought of the story (or of Keanu!) I found it quite captivating the way that things appeared to become clearer even as they moved away and moved out of focus. Not sure I'd want every film to be like that but it worked for me in that film.

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How Novell peaked, then threw it all away in a year

AdamT

There was also a tie-in with a round-the-world yacht race

Around '94 or '95 they also did some kind of tie in with one of the round the world yacht races - possibly the Global Challenge. Much lower barrier to entry which meant, rather to my surprise, I ended up winning a day out at a Land Rover offroad centre. Jolly good fun.

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European Space Agency goes for mostly solid Ariane 6

AdamT

Re: There are other issues

wow - I'd not heard of that method of shutting down an SRB before! From a shuttle crew point of view I'm not entirely sure that cutting the top off a lit SRB and thus presumably sending a fairly unconstrained flame up past your ears (and past the top of the main tank) is an immediately obvious improvement on the situation but I guess (as per JS19's comment) cutting the bottom off to reduce the pressure but keep the exhaust heading into the flame pit could help.

It still all makes me curious as to the general thought processes:

-So, we're going to attach you to this big firework to get you into space...

-How do you get it going?

-Big pyrotechnic thing up the middle of it set off with an explosive detonator...

-How do you stop it falling over?

-Big bolts...

-How do you undo them at the right time?

-We don't. They explode...

-Err, OK. What happens if you need to stop the big firework?

-Ah, that's easy - we've wrapped more explosive round the top and/or bottom of it to chop the ends off...

Not so much rocket science as officially approved pyromania!

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AdamT

Re: There are other issues

The BBC article on this (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-23241158) says that the upper stage is designed to be sent back into the atmosphere specifically to avoid adding to the space junk issue.

I also thought that another issue with SRBs and manned flight was the partial failure problem. i.e. that you have to be sure that none of them light or that all of them light. I think one of the nightmare scenarios for the shuttle was that only one SRB would light and the concern as to whether the pad would survive holding down an SRB for two minutes.

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NASA outlines 2020 plans for Mars life search with Curiosity v2.0

AdamT

Re: Dream bigger

And for venus you will need something rather different to Curiosity. The atmospheric pressure (90 times earth), temperature (460C) and it's corrosive sulphuric acid rain mean that even the few sucessful landers had expected lifetimes measured in minutes - there were many more unsucessful landers...

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Modern-day Frankenstein invents CURE for BEHEADING

AdamT

Re: Prescient much?

indeed

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Live or let dial - phones ain’t what they used to be

AdamT

Pulse dialling?

kind of amazed that it still actually works! Assumed that most exchanges wouldn't recognise it anymore. Anyone else remember spending ages trying to dial numbers by just clicking the handset rest?

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So, who ought to be the next Doctor Who? It's up to YOU...

AdamT

Re: Sean Bean

One does not simply walk into the Tardis

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Obama: Just call me Billygoat Gruff the Third, patent trolls

AdamT
Happy

Re: It occurs to me...

Hmmm, it sounds like you've just described a business process. Those are patentable, aren't they?

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A backdoor into Skype for the Feds? You're joking...

AdamT

Well, that's kind of what happened in the UK when the head of the Association of Chief Police Officers wrote to all the police forces to tell them to calm down on the whole harassing people taking photos thing. His motive wasn't that it was wrong or even illegal (in some cases) but that "the public" were actually starting to check what their rights really were ...

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