* Posts by Phil O'Sophical

2036 posts • joined 28 Oct 2011

Looking for laxatives, miss? Shoppers stalked via smartphone Wi-Fi

Phil O'Sophical
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Re: Am I the only person in the world

Just seems daft to have GPS, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi enabled if you are out shopping, simply for battery life

I was quite surprised how much difference turning off bluetooth made to battery life, when I was travelling and had a hire car with no hands-free. As for WiFi I'd say it's off 95% of the time, for the same reason.

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SUPERVOLCANIC MAGMA reservoir BUBBLING under Yellowstone Park

Phil O'Sophical
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Re: Time to develop a good exit strategy

I've long since stopped believing (hoping?) that any virgins are waiting for me. Anywhere.

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Phil O'Sophical
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Re: Geothermal energy?

Isn't there a risk that could be a little like sticking a pin into a balloon?

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FBI alert: Get these motherf'king hackers off this motherf'king plane

Phil O'Sophical
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Re: oh hell....

painfully slow load up messages

Including hundreds of missing modules, undefined symbols, etc. It works after the reboot, which shows that the missing crud isn't needed anyway. I'd really hate to think that any system which was that crappily assembled and tested shared more than a power cable with the actual avionics.

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Google versus the EU: Sigh. You can't exploit a contestable monopoly

Phil O'Sophical
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Re: So what next?

The business of Google Search* is to deliver search results, not price comparisons. That is the business of Google Shopping,

Maybe you feel that they should be different, separate, services, but that is irrelevant. Both are Google products, and Google is entitled to use one to promote the other.

If you went to the dairy aisle in Tesco and found a BOGOF advert for strawberries would you start foaming at the mouth because the dairy department dared to advertise a price for a product that rightfully belongs in greengrocery? Or would you accept that people buying cream might indeed like some strawberries to go with it, and find the BOGOFadvert useful? Obviously some dairy users will hate strawberries, and Asda strawberries might be cheaper anyway, but is that a reason to criticize Tesco for advertising theirs?

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Radio 4 and Dr K on programming languages: Full of Java Kool-Aid

Phil O'Sophical
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Re: This is exactly the problem

who'd like to see a revival (or even just a repeat) of Channel 4's Salvage Squad

It's being repeated on Quest, S1 Ep6 was on today.

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Phil O'Sophical
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Re: “Goto statement considred harmful”

Why pick on the 'Goto' when it is the 'If' statement which causes the damage,

Use Fortran's arithmetic GOTO, no IF required :)

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National Grid's new designer pylon is 'too white and boring' – Pylon Appreciation Society

Phil O'Sophical
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Re: > Burying

Still waiting for the superconducting cables.

Just chill...

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Credit card factories given new secure manufacturing rules

Phil O'Sophical
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say again?

fire doors open one-way only

I'm still trying to figure out what this means. I know that normal fire exit doors only open outwards, for safety, but that doesn't seem relevant here.

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Lenovo: MSPs and CSPs, PLEASE come buy our servers

Phil O'Sophical
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Price-conscious Express bundles are also included in the scheme, along with “special rate incentives on Enterprise Solutions Services” to speed deployment, Lenovo told us.

And some free root certificates thrown in for good measure?

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Wi-Fi hotspots can put iPhones into ETERNAL super slow-mo

Phil O'Sophical
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Re: I don't really have much sympathy for people who fall for such tricks

At one time the CPU power of certain IBM computers could be increased basically by setting jumpers - whereupon everything cost more.

Funny, I just knew that would be the first response! Those systems, of course, were the ones rented by IBM (they didn't sell systems in those days) and you paid a license for the power you used. Just like today where applications are licensed according to things like the number of CPU cores. Even then it would have been obvious that by changing the jumper you were getting something you hadn't paid for.

Back in the 80s there were stories about some minicomputers (DEC? I can't remember) which had a similar trick. Due to a shortage of small memory boards, some low-end systems were shipped with larger boards which had a chip-select line cut, it was cheaper than losing the sale. If you knew which line, you could reconnect it. Hardly standard practiuce, though.

Remapping ECUs is another case where it isn't "free". The cars sold with increased power often have other systems (tyres, brakes) updated to match. Simply tweaking a map without understanding the consequences can cause many problems, not least when the insurance company won't pay out after an accident. That's why most ECU maps these days are encrypted.

why would they be suspicious of other "performance enhancing" tricks?

Because they're free. You don't get free stuff from big companies, but too many people are still too greedy to see that. If it looks too good to be true (in IT or any other domain) it almost certainly is too good to be true. Just like that nice man offering you candy to get in his car. It might be safe, but why take the risk when it almost certainly never is?

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Phil O'Sophical
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Re: I don't really have much sympathy for people who fall for such tricks

Only a small minority of people have an understanding of IT security,

It has nothing to do with IT security. If someone tells you that you can get "X" just by doing "Y", and the value of "X" is much, much greater than the cost of "Y", it's a scam. That has been the case since long before the days of the snake oil sellers in the Old West.

Apple has created a brand around the idea that in exchange for extra money, non-IT people get security and IT support along with really cool gadgets.

I think that Apple, like other luxury goods suppliers, has actually created a brand where many people assume that the price has been inflated well above the actual cost by the presence of the name. As such they are more willing to believe that they're being ripped off, and more willing to assume that some simple trick will release the extra value that Apple is hiding from them.

Tell someone that there's a special command in their $500 iPhone that will release more storage, they want to believe it. They'll happily believe that Apple has hidden the storage to make more money.

Tell them the same thing thing about the $25 chinese knock-off from the local discount store and they'll laugh at you, since it's clearly way too cheap to have anything big hidden in it.

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Phil O'Sophical
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thinking that the rm rf commands will unlock extra storage

Well, that's not entirely false. You'll certainly have lots more free space afterwards...

I don't really have much sympathy for people who fall for such tricks, anything which offers you something for nothing is bound to be a scam. No free lunch.

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Bad news everyone: Cybercrime is getting even easier

Phil O'Sophical
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tapes going back long enough to cover my arse

I could have done without that mental image at lunchtime, thank you very much...

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Instead of public sector non-jobbery, Martha, how about creating REAL entrepreneurs?

Phil O'Sophical
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But only in an educated and ethical fashion, of course.

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It's all got complicated: The costs of data recovery

Phil O'Sophical
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Re: Puzzled

Backups are indeed complicated, and the first thing to do is work out what your needs are. Do you even need to be 'disaster proof" ? Start with the analysis, which data are critical, how much can you afford to lose before the business is impacted, how long can you afford to be without them, etc. The results of that will tell you if you need dedicated live synchronous replication across multiple sites, cross-your-fingers cloud, or just a DVD in the safe at home once a month. Part of that analysis, of course, will involve looking at the Data Protection requrements for the info you need to save, where you can legally put it, and how concerned your customers might be if they don't know exactly where it's being kept.

Starting with the solution ("put it in the cloud") and trying to make the problem fit that solution is a recipe for disaster, not one for disaster recovery.

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To defend offshore finance bods looting developing countries of their tax cash

Phil O'Sophical
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Far better that the resources are controlled and exploited by a nationalised monopoly. I realise that then offers scope for diversion of funds into the greasy hands of politicians and their cronies but at least the money has a chance of staying in the country,

Except that all the evidence in the former Eastern Europe, Balkan states, etc. is the exact reverse. The money goes straight into the greasy hands of the politicians, and thence into Swiss bank accounts. What incentive is there for the politicials to keep the money in the country? There's nothing there they want to spend it on. Letting a nationalized monoploy run things not only provides no incentive to reward the workers, it also removes all chance of unbiased oversight.Not to mention that the political cronies who run the monopoly are unlikely to have been selected on the basis of their competence in the industry concerned, as 1970s Britain showed.

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Dot-com intimidation forces Indiana to undo hated anti-gay law

Phil O'Sophical
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Re: It's called freedom, folks

IANAL but I believe that in all 3 examples the business owner is well within their rights to refuse.

It can get complicated, though. See the Belfast "Gay Cake" case:

http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/gay-cake-row-gareth-lee-felt-unworthy-over-ashers-bakery-refusal-to-bake-cake-31096066.html

even though the bakery owner was quite clear that "Our problem with producing the cake we were asked to make last year was with the message, not the customer" they've still been taken to court by the Equalities commission. I don't envy the judge.

It does seem that this case could hinge on the supplier having accepted the order and then cancelled it, we may end up with a situation where businesses have to make it clear in advance what they will & will provide. Seems likely only to make more lawyers rich.

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SPY FRY: Smart meters EXPLODE in Californian power surge

Phil O'Sophical
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Re: disinformation

Here in Europe (I think we count as part of the rest of the world) we have 240V single phase

Technically we have 230V single phase. When it came to standardizing, places like the UK with 240V ±6%, and others with 220V ±6%, didn't want the disruption of a change. In the finest traditions of bureaucats everywhere the tolerances were changed, so that Europe now has a "standard" of 230V, the UK has 230V +6%/-10% and old 220V countries are 230V -6%/+10% so we're now all the same. Without anyone having changed.

The only time it really mattered was when "real" 230V lightbulbs were used in the 240V UK, and had a shorter but brighter life. Less of a problem for LED/Fluorescent ones

</pedant>

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Nuclear waste spill: How a pro-organic push sparked $240m blunder

Phil O'Sophical
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Bear in mind you can be arrested if you use red diesel.

Only if it's in car bombs, though.

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Phil O'Sophical
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Re: Why not organic kitty litter?

It's easy to bash "organic", the real problem was ignorance.

Ignorance is, by its nature, an organic trait, though.

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Snakes on a backplane: Server-room cabling horrors

Phil O'Sophical
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Re: If you think that is bad....

.you don't remember the bad-old days of RS232,

I once had to pull in many metres of 50-way cable, to connect an old LPxx parallel printer. We couldn't use a ready-made cable, the plug wouldn't go through the trunking, so had to go for the homebrew approach. Then I soldered on the 50-way D-type plug (those things are right b*stards to work on). That's when I realised I'd not fed the screening cover into the cable first. After some mild headsmacking and choice language I decided that the stresses on the uncapped wires would eventually cause problems, so I unsoldered the plug and started all over again. I have to admit, I've only done it once, call it a"learning experience".

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David Cameron's Passport number emailed to footy-head

Phil O'Sophical
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Windows

Re: Empty Deleted Items....

> DEL file.txt

Are you sure?

Really, really sure?

Certain?

Shall I keep it for a while in case you change your mind later?

OK, it's gone, but let me know if you, like, regret this over the next week or two, I'm sure we can do something.

Well, that's not a nice thing to say at all.

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Belgium to the rescue as UK consumers freeze after BST blunder

Phil O'Sophical
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Designed by americans?

Most Americans I meet seem to think that "GMT" means "the time in London", and have no concept that Daylight Saving Time means that the UK is not always on GMT. They'll say "3pm GMT" when they mean "3 in the afternoon UK time", ignoring the fact that in the summer the UK is on BST. Perhaps this 'smart' thermostat software has the same assumption built-in?

Do we have an "IoT Fail" icon yet?

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Forum chat is like Clarkson punching you repeatedly in the face

Phil O'Sophical
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Re: Service? Industry?

couldn't be arsed to pay the kitchen staff some overtime

Doesn't that depend on whether the TG prima donna had a previous requirement for steak to be waiting when he staggered back from the pub, along with flowers and beer in his dressing room, warm hooker in his bed, or whatever? From the way the incident was reported he just rolled back the worse for wear and started the "I want a steak and I want it now, don't you know who the fuck I am?" rant, long after the kitchen was closed. Why should any hotel staff have to take that?

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BOFH: Never mind that old brick, look at this ink-stained BEAUTY

Phil O'Sophical
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Re: LP05

hack the VMS print symbiont

Ah, happy memories. Getting it to handle all the wheels on a Qume daisywheel...

Sadly, I too would have got excited about finding an LP05.

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Bye bye, booth babes. IT security catwalk RSA nixes sexy outfits

Phil O'Sophical
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Californian attire

"appropriate in a professional environment" - this is a show in California, so presumably torn shorts, tie-dye shirt and sandals are OK then?

Reminds me of Scott McNealy's reply when asked if Sun had a dress code. He said "Yes. You must."

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Ford: Our latest car gizmo will CHOKE OFF your FUEL if you're speeding

Phil O'Sophical
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Re: My wife's car has automatic headlights.

I've found that my automatic lights will often turn off when the day gets sufficiently bright, even if it happens to be foggy at the time. On several occasions I've left home on a dark foggy morning, and noticed the lights switch themselves off as it brightens, so I had to manually switch them on again. A handy gadget at times, but no replacement for actually paying attention and driving the car yourself.

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Mature mainframe madness prints Mandlebrot fractal in TWELVE MINUTES

Phil O'Sophical
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Re: Dot Matrix?

In theory it will print a compolete line in one revolution of the drum.

And makes a hell of a noise doing it, while throwing paper feet into the air if it wasn't in the guides properly. The band printers were slightly better, just a permanent ripping-calico noise, still way louder than dot-matrix, even they could get through a 2000-page box of fanfold in no time flat.

When I first saw a high-speed laser printer in action (looked more like an old-style newspaper press) it was truly eerie to hear how quiet it was, despite the paper spewing from the back.

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Phil O'Sophical
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Sheriff?

Ken Shirriff, surely? Also known for his reverse-engineered Sinclair Scientific, see his blog at http://www.righto.com/

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Sit back and let someone else manage your telephony

Phil O'Sophical
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There's no end to the flexibility required and therefore the system needs to be complex.

There speaks the engineer who designs the systems: "I can put a million knobs on it, so I will, then the customers will love me for making it so flexible."

Over 25 years our office (full of software design nerds) has gone from a small PABX that the sysadmins knew the password to, and which offered digital and analogue lines, voicemail, transfers, groups, etc. to a VoIP system with all sorts of bells and whistles, but with crappy call quality and where any change requires a service ticket with a 3-day turnaround.

You know what? Most people stil just use it to make phone calls.

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Phil O'Sophical
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Re: Said like someone that doesn't work in telecoms

So no hunt groups, pick up groups, voicemail, synchronizing with exchange, presence, follow-me, least cost routing, permissions, time based routing, IVR,redundancy, multi-tenancy, call recording, auditing, multi-lines appreance, barge-in, PA routing, faxing, emergency routing, vpn's...

All of which, and more, were being done by the main exchanges long before they became economical enough to be added to PABXs.

Sure, if you have a private planet-wide phone network you may want that stuff in-house, although since the article suggests outsourcing them to "the cloud" you might as well call the BT network the "phone cloud" and outsource it back to them.

(oh, and I've worked in telecomms 30+ years, on both customer and supplier sides)

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Phil O'Sophical
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In the case of Mitel we are talking two five-day courses – far from a walk in the park.

Which surely suggets that the phone system is overcomplicated? At the end of the day it has a simple job to fill, establish a voice circuit between two or more endpoints, with some frills like voicemail tacked on. If it takes 2 weeks training to configure that I'd say it was time to get a simpler system. Sounds like modern smartphones that do everything but make the tea, have no battery life to speak of, and yet most people don't use 90% of the "features" that their designers stuffed in. It's the downside of VoIP, glueing voice comms onto a protocol that was nevere designed for it, instead of using dedicated equipment that "just works".

The logical next step is to ask yourself whether you want to own the phone system at all. If the service provider is looking after it, why not think about renting it as an ongoing managed service instead of spending upfront on the hardware, software and licences?

You mean like we did 30 years ago when we just had the local Telco install phones in each office, each with a line back to the exchange where all the fancy stuff was done by experts who knew the kit? Sounds reasonable.

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Google Glass DIED from TOO MUCH ATTENTION, Captain Moonshot admits

Phil O'Sophical
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Captain of Moonshots?

I guess he doesn't have a Facebook account then:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/03/16/facebook_community_standards_acceptable_content_update/

Is Google+ less picky?

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Phil O'Sophical
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Second, optional, XKCD reference

http://xkcd.com/1251/

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Galileo! Galileo! Galileo good to go after six-week recovery effort

Phil O'Sophical
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Black Helicopters

Re: "reached its desired orbit."

So the world and Europe in particular should be relying on the whim of Putin, Obama and successors for GPS and timing

You're assuming that the NSA or KGB doesn't already have a backdoor in all the Galileo satellites allowing it to turn them off, or transmit false data, when required?

We need a tinfoil hat icon...

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Cisco posts kit to empty houses to dodge NSA chop shops

Phil O'Sophical
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The addresses exist, they simply aren't necessarily associated with the end-user. Like me getting a surprise gift for my wife delivered to a workmate, so that the arrival of a mysterious parcel doesn't spoil the surprise.

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OpenSSL preps fix for mystery high severity hole

Phil O'Sophical
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Re: "has to be written in C"

The point is, though, that it was written [in Pascal] by Dave Cutler (of VMS and NT fame) and it was done specifically because they had tight deadlines and didn't want to waste their time on avoidable bugs caused by buffer overflows and careless dereferencing.

Still a horrible language, though. Designed as a teaching tool that encouraged people to write 'good' code (according to Wirth) by making it impossible to write 'bad' code. Fine if your IO was limited to

writeln("Hello World");

but for any systems-level programming it was a nightmare. Each implementation had it's own, different, set of extensions for hacking the system which made it just as easy to screw up as with C pointers, but forced you to jump through unnecessary hoops to get there. Modula 2 was better.

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Phil O'Sophical
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Re: "has to be written in C"

UCSD P-System was also mainly written in Pascal. It saw commercial use in the 1980s and into the 1990s. I worked with a system which used it running on a 68000.

I suffered with it on an Apple II, although IIRC it ran on the Z80 coprocessor card, not the native 6502. It had an implementation of Fortran as well, which violated the data type rules in the standard and so made anything with COMMON blocks tricky to port. Ah, the yoof of today doesn't know how good they have it :)

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Phil O'Sophical
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Re: "has to be written in C"

"complex operating systems written in Pascal"

<shudder>

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Musk: 'Tesla's electric Model S cars will be less crap soon. I PROMISE'

Phil O'Sophical
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Re: Perpetual motion

built-in emergency sail

Tacking down the M1? I've seen those drivers...

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Phil O'Sophical
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Those are what are known as "rental cars".

That model only works while most people don't have electric cars. If the majority of cars were plug-in electric the demand for IC rental cars would be unmanageable. There would be massive over-demand for rentals every holiday weekend, for example, but there would be limited supply, since hardly anyone would want to buy them. Maintaining a rental parc would no longer be cost effective.

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Boffins brew up FIRST CUPPA in SPAAACE using wireless energy (well, sort of)

Phil O'Sophical
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Re: energy for cloud-cuckoo land

Normal photovoltaic cells are heading for 20% efficiency. Even if they only get full sunlight for, say, 25% of the day, this would mean that 20m² of earthbound solar panels could produce the same net energy as a 1m² microwave satellite reception antenna, and the satellite would have to have 10m² of solar panels to collect that energy (allowing for the stated 50% conversion to microwave efficiency).

I still don't see how this could be viable, when you consider the relative cost of 20m² of earthbound solar panels, versus that of lofting a satellite with 10m² of solar panels + the ground station.

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Phil O'Sophical
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Re: energy for cloud-cuckoo land

the problem is the Sahara is a long way from major population & industrial centres

So is geosynchronous orbit.

Running a transmission line from the Sahara would seem to be a more manageable problem, achievable with today's technology.

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Pi(e) Day of the Century is upon us! Time to celebrate 3/14/15 in style, surely?

Phil O'Sophical
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Re: 9:26?

And who puts the time after the date?

You mean that we should really be waiting until the early hours of September 15th, 2026?

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LOHAN unleashes 'waiting for the FAA' collector mug

Phil O'Sophical
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Re: Bigger Mugs

larger mugs

They're all fully occupied preparing the launch.

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Hurry shipmates - the black hats have hacked our fire control system

Phil O'Sophical
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Re: "Her two forward 6" turrets are trained on the M1's Scratchwood services"

I think Slough's expecting friendly bombs, not friendly shells.

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Life, the interview and everything: A chat with Douglas Adams

Phil O'Sophical
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Following the link from the article to http://www.theregister.co.uk/2001/05/14/rip_douglas_adams/ it's interesting to see that he foresaw the Twitter app, 5 years before it appeared. Sadly he seemed to think it would be a good idea...

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LOHAN leaps aloft & ports into virtual flight logger

Phil O'Sophical
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Re: Any closer

What about the Kickstarter tankards, any word on when the "arrives in kit form" issues will be resolved and the beerholders will ship? I have a pint here, waiting...

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Ouch! Google crocks capacitors and deviates DRAM to root Linux

Phil O'Sophical
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Re: @Phil-O-Sophical

Well, mine had 1GB RAM and a 2.13GHz Core2Duo, but it's got more RAM now, and extra disks. Still runs fine with Windows (XP, it was that or Vista) but more often Solaris or Debian. It was bought as a combined home + work-from-home system, so I did go for a decent one. I suppose more workstation than home desktop.

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