* Posts by LeeE

246 posts • joined 12 Apr 2012

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App for homeless says walking on water is the way to reach services

LeeE
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Australian compassion and support

"a country that is known for its [...] compassion, for its love and support for those less fortunate"

And that compassion, and love and support for those less fortunate is expressed through Operation Sovereign Borders.

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I love you. I will kill you! I want to make love to you: The evolution of AI in pop culture

LeeE
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Re: Directors... [Dan O'Bannon]

Your mention of Dan O'Bannon called to mind Bomb #20 in Dark Star.

"Let there be light..."

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How to build a starship - and why we should start thinking about it now

LeeE
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Re: Sad reality

"...a dive toward the sun, then use (rather large) magnetic fields to catch a ride on a solar ejection..."

I think not. Some numbers from Wikipedia: "The Sun has a magnetic field that varies across the surface of the Sun. Its polar field is 1–2 gauss (0.0001–0.0002 T), whereas the field is typically 3,000 gauss (0.3 T) in features on the Sun called sunspots and 10–100 gauss (0.001–0.01 T) in solar prominences."

...and...

"The Sun's dipole magnetic field of 50–400 μT (at the photosphere) reduces with the inverse-cube of the distance to about 0.1 nT at the distance of Earth."

For comparison: the magnetic flux density at the surface of a neodymium magnet is about 1.25 T

So, even discounting the issue of finding the energy to generate a large magnetic field for the probe, it's not going to have much of a field from the Sun against which to operate, even within the Solar System, let alone between the stars. And that's assuming that, instead of using high-mass radiation shielding, you can use the probe's magnetic field to protect it from the intense radiation it'll experience when it passes close to Sol.

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LeeE
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Re: Sad reality

The sad reality isn't that "We've become too shallow to seek the stars any more" but that it's just not possible without fusion energy, and although fusion research is still on-going we're still quite some way from a working solution.

Without a high efficiency energy source, where efficiency equates to duration, there's just no way a probe could accelerate for long enough to achieve a high enough % of 'c' to reduce the journey time to less than millennia before it ran out of fuel.

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Ban internet anonymity – says US Homeland Security official

LeeE
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"The unnamed email provider uncovered this exchange..."

I suppose they'll need to remain unnamed if they expect to keep any customers after revealing that they've been snooping on the content of emails sent through their service.

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Techie on the ground disputes BlackEnergy Ukraine power outage story

LeeE
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"Next week - Network Rail reports leaves on line caused by Russian hacking...."

Effectively already happening. Our politicos, and their right-wing media bitches have been blaming Russia, and more specifically Putin, for everything they possibly can; anything to divert attention from their own lies and hypocrisy.

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Website admin cPanel hacked, loses a bunch of folks' contact details

LeeE
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Headline Error

"Website admin cPanel hacked, loses a bunch of folks' contact details"

Looks interesting, I thought to myself; how are they going get in touch with their customers if they've lost the contact details? Call me pedantic, but in I.T. you really do need to be pedantic if you want your systems to work as intended.

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Oz stargazers serve up interstellar noodles

LeeE
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Interesting stuff

It's interesting because if the radio waves from the quasar are "varying wildly in strength" it suggests that whatever is causing the variations has high density/intensity but, at the same time, the variations are relatively rapid, suggesting that whatever is causing the variations is also either relatively small, at least at astronomical scales, or very big and moving very, very quickly indeed.

I wouldn't have thought that interstellar gas lenses fit either scenario very well; if the variations in the lenses are small enough to match the rate of variation then it's difficult to see how they could be intense enough to produce the degree of variation but, on the other hand, if they were large and moving quickly then they'd be interacting with other interstellar gas and radiating on their own.

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Government in-sourcing: It was never going to be that easy

LeeE
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Re: Not as Directors

I think your post hints at the real motivation behind government outsourcing; reduced costs/value-for-money are plausible excuses, but the real reason is avoidance of responsibility.

Where work is done in-house you need to ensure your boss understands what he's demanding of you so that he can't turn around afterwards and say that you haven't done what he said, but this means that he needs to both justify and accept responsibility for his decisions. Responsibility remains 'in-house' and is easy to identify.

When a project is outsourced though, all that the provider needs do is satisfy the spec, regardless of whether what was specified actually matched what was required, or even whether it was complete nonsense; the PHB didn't need to understand the problem/requirement in the first place and there was no-one in a position to point this out to them. End result is that neither the PHB, nor the provider have to accept responsibility - they can both argue that the other has made the mistake.

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Boeing just about gives up on the 747

LeeE
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"It's looking like A380 production might end before 747s

The only customers [for the A380] are the few Gulf hub airlines and they have bought their fleet."

Whilst it's true that the number of customers, orders and deliveries of A380s will never approach the numbers that the 747 achieved, you're somewhat wide of reality:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Airbus_A380_orders_and_deliveries

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Space podule outfit inks Arizona launch deal

LeeE
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A bit worried about this

There are a couple of things that worry me about this project. When it first aired in El Reg I commented that if the headline photo (same one used in this article) is anything to go by then the occupants are likely to end up suffering from severe motion sickness; far from floating around serenely, it's clear from that headline photo that the 'podule' is swinging rather badly.

Now, just as worrying, there's an (artist's) image of the podule apparently ascending/cruising beneath a deployed and inflated parafoil... Um, well that's not going to work because deployed like that the parafoil canopy would simply collapse and, what with the inevitable twisting and spinning during ascent, would leave the tethers to the canopy badly twisted; there'd be little chance of the canopy successfully inflating during the descent. Moreover, with that configuration, there appears to be no scope for a backup canopy, let alone a smaller drogue chute to stabilise the podule before deploying the main chute.

But then, even assuming that they actually have a more practical deployment scheme, the use of a parafoil ensures a relatively high horizontal speed at touch-down; the landing is going to be more than a little bumpy so unless you're strapped in with a full five-point harness you're going to be injured as the podule tumbles across the ground. I wonder how much repair work to the podule is going to be needed after each landing.

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Boffins tentatively fire up grav wave sniffer

LeeE
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You're thinking of the High Sensitivity Array (HSA), not the Very Large Array (VLA). The HSA is based upon the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA), which spans the U.S. - Hawaii, but also incorporates the VLA (NM - USA), Arecibo (Puerto Rico), Greenbank (WV - USA) and Effelsburg (Germany) telescopes.

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Boozing is unsafe at ‘any level’, thunders chief UK.gov quack

LeeE
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What's it supposed to achieve?

"As Snowden shrewdly observes, the alcohol guidelines aren’t written for the public, which will simply ignore them..."

Indeed, the public will ignore them, but I can't really buy the idea that it's just to achieve faux moral one-upmanship at bureaucratic and diplomatic junkets either.

As the article points out, this advice/recommendation runs counter to all of the evidence thus far gained and as such is a contradiction of reality.

The most worrying aspect of this announcement is not that drinking is dangerous at any level but that the government's chief medical advisor thinks it's a good idea to make this announcement, in contradiction of reality, according to all the available evidence, and will achieve some objective by doing so.

Given that the announcement is targeted at the public, and in a pretty high-profile way, as it's in all of the national media, I can't accept that the objective is simply bragging rights at junkets.

I suspect that the real purpose of this announcement is to justify a big rise in booze prices, via a reduction in quantity for the same price, along the same lines as we've seen with recommendations to reduce sugar content and the size of food servings for health reasons, but with no corresponding price cut. Now these measures may deter those who do over-consume, but I doubt it; those who do over-consume already know they are doing so, and will continue to do so, as long as they can afford to. No, I think it's really for everyone else, who doesn't over-consume, and will just have to pay more to get the same (reasonable) amount.

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UK energy minister rejects 'waste of money' smart meters claim

LeeE
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Purpose

The purpose of smart meters isn't to enable people to save money but to enable remote-control by the by both the government and the utilities.

The government will be able to switch off your power before they raid your home and the utilities will be able to switch it off as soon as you fail to pay one of their bills on time, and then add an exorbitant charge to restore it.

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Curiosity Rover eyes Mars' creeping dunes

LeeE
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Wheel Damage

I recall reading, some time ago, that Curiosity's wheels didn't seem to be holding up as well as planned, and seemed to be receiving a lot more damage than expected, but that middle wheel looks totalled.

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Getting metal hunks into orbit used to cost a bomb. Then SpaceX's Falcon 9 landed

LeeE
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STS comparison

"...the space shuttle was supposed to be reusable..."

I don't think that the comparison of the STS with the Falcon 9 is valid; the STS had to cope with re-entry but the Falcon 9 doesn't, which will make a big difference in the refurbishment costs.

It's also not axiomatic that the cost of a re-usable launch stack has to cost a lot more than a one-shot launch stack; clever design should result in re-usable components that don't cost excessively more to manufacture than one-shot components.

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Janet pulls open network info for good after DDoSers exploit it

LeeE
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Why?

"...the non-departmental public body in the UK which administrates Janet..."

I can understand why the the relatively subtle differences between 'which' and 'that' catch a lot of people out, seemingly even trained and qualified journos, but I can see no reason for using the word administrate instead of administer under any circumstances.

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Russia's blanket phone spying busted Europe's human rights laws

LeeE
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Re: And Russia's response...

He'll probably just follow PM Cameron's example, and withdraw from the ECHR if it doesn't change it's rulings to suit UK law, allowing it to override any ECHR decisions it doesn't like.

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LeeE
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Governments spying on their own people for what?

Because in a world where <10% of the people have > 90% of the wealth the threat is not from without but from within.

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Manchester 'wins' £10m to test talking bus stops

LeeE
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Re: IoT Bikes and Bus stops!

Talking Bus Stops are ok if they only answer questions truthfully and stfu the rest of the time. But they won't; they'll be programmed to not give any information that might reflect badly upon any of the bus operators, such as "The next scheduled bus has been cancelled". They'll also deliver adverts, inappropriately targeted for people who have downloaded The App, and random ones for anyone else, triggered by proximity sensors.

Far from motivating people to get fit, nagging sensors in parks and along commuter routes will more likely just result in annoyance, resentment and a hammering [as with a hammer].

But achieving the stated aims isn't the real purpose of this scheme; it doesn't have to work because it's really just another way of transferring 'public' money to private hands.

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LeeE
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500 Bus Stops

You mean John Shuttleworth

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Galileo, Galileo, Galileo good two go

LeeE
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EU trying to set itself up as a rival to Nato?

"we can only hope that the EU is not trying to set itself up as a rival to Nato"

Fwiw... of NATO's 28 full member states, twenty five of them (~89%) are European. Of the EU's 28 member states, 22 are NATO member states, so ~78% of NATO is the EU.

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Doctor Who: Nigel Farage-alike bogey beast terrorises in darkly comic Sleep No More

LeeE
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Sorry...

...about high-jacking this thread but...

...I thought that most of this series, up to now, was execrable, but now words fail me; have we all become faeces connoisseurs?

That El Reg commentards are arguing over subtleties between turds is very depressing; we're supposed to be smart people - why else would we be visiting a tech-oriented web-site? This episode so full of tech-holes, right from the-get-go, like a group of elite (because they're on a rescue mission?) military who argue and bicker like nine year-olds, to the need for 'Gravity generators' to stay in orbit - FFS!

(and I don't use shrieks wantonly)

We had a glimpse of what Who could be, with Capaldi's performance at the end of the last episode, where he stepped out the the cartoon character to become a believable entity, transforming caricature to plausible.

This is the tragedy of the current series; in engaging Capaldi to play the Doctor, the Who series could have been transformed, much along the lines as how 'Bond' has been transformed by Daniel Craig i.e. from caricature to plausible.

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ARM's new Cortex-A35: How to fine-tune a CPU for web browsing on bargain smartphones

LeeE
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Re: Good thing ARM is a fabless company

"Brits are no good at shovelling electrons."

First radar, television, digital computer, particle accelerator... guess whom & where.

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Sun of a b... Solar winds blamed for ripping away Mars' atmosphere

LeeE
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Re: What's that smell?...

Re Venus's atmosphere: "thick dense" - there's the clue.

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LeeE
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Re: Subtitle error

"This is erroneous, since the background loss rate (100 g/s) divided into the mass of the atmosphere gives a 7 billion year life"

That 100 g/s rate is the _current_ rate i.e. from a body that has already lost >99% of its atmosphere - it simply doesn't have enough atmosphere left to lose it at a higher rate. Furthermore, what atmosphere Mars does have left is 95% CO2, which is relatively heavy; if you were to start adding relatively light Oxygen to the atmosphere of Mars not only would the loss rate increase but it would be the lighter gases, such as the Oxygen, that that made up most of that increase.

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LeeE
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Re: Might it be an opportunity?

"Or, maybe, we could reverse the direction of the [solar] wind, pulling Mars' atmosphere back on again?"

Seriously?

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Doctor Who's The Zygon Invasion shape-shifts Clara and brings yet more hybrids

LeeE
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Mexico is NOT in the USA!!

...but New Mexico is.

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The story of .Gay: This bid is too gay! This bid is not gay enough! This bid is just right?

LeeE
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Re: icann policy

Their application is clearly not hitting the Goldilocks zone. Or should that be the Judy Garland zone?

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Cassini probe teases with intimate Enceladus snaps

LeeE
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Re: Curious

Looks sublime.

Shame that close-up shot isn't quite in focus.

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Volvo eyes kangaroo detection tech

LeeE
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(To a) a moose (in the hoose?)

Wee, sleekit, cow'rin, tim'rous beastie.

Kangaroo mouse?

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'Govt will not pass laws to ban encryption' – Baroness Shields

LeeE
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Re: It's like

If a politician says something and no one hears him, is he still lying?

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Balloon-lofted space podule hits 30,000m

LeeE
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Re: Look Kinda Scary I would need the bar

From the headline photo, it looks like you're going to be swinging around too much to drink anything. Probably a good job too, as anything aimed at the lavvy is likely to end up all over the floor and walls. I assume that the interior can just be hosed down after each flight.

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WIN a 6TB Western Digital Black hard drive with El Reg

LeeE
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Being a bit pressed for time, she decided to combine today's Yoga exercises with her XrandR maintainer duties.

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Safe harbour ruling: RELAX, Facebook and Google will be FINE!

LeeE
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This is really just another symptom

The perceived need for Data Protection, and the ineffectiveness of the Safe Harbour agreements in providing that protection are really just symptoms of a more profound underlying problem; who is being served, and by whom i.e. do governments and business exist to serve us, the people, or do we exist to serve government and business?

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Linux kernel dev who asked Linus Torvalds to stop verbal abuse quits over verbal abuse

LeeE
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Re: all moot

Personally, I'm with you re "I wouldn't work somewhere where people were abusive to me about my work" but "On my way out I'd drag HR and the lawyers in to it" is just being resentful i.e. expressing a desire to hurt someone out of spite. That's small.

As to the legal aspects to which you allude; do you really think that opinions that are disagreeable to _you_ should be illegal? Or is it just the choice of words; would "I believe that you're profoundly wrong" be legal, and "You're a Belgian" be illegal? Same opinion, different words.

(No offence intended towards Belgians - it's a H2G2 ref)

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LeeE
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Re: The problem is, usually Linus is right

I must reiterate that the Linux kernel project _is_ his, because he controls it, and where not directly, then through people to whom he has delegated control; the method of governance is a dictatorship (and there's nothing intrinsically wrong with a dictatorship; it just depends upon the nature of the dictator)

However, I wouldn't necessarily go as far as to say that most developers are happy with the way that he runs things, but it seems clear that none of them want the responsibility or have the endurance to start and manage a fork of their own.

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LeeE
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Re: The problem is, usually Linus is right

The point isn't whether Linus's behaviour is justified because he is usually right about technical issues, or not, but that some people think his behaviour is intrinsically wrong (implying that there is an intrinsically 'right' behaviour). The fact is that the Linux kernel project is his and while it remains his he can behave how he likes; he has no obligation whatsoever, to anyone else, to act in any particular way, and if that's unacceptable then you can impolitely go away.

The people who complain about Linus's behaviour are essentially saying that they believe he has an obligation to behave in a way that suits them, but with no obligation on their part to behave in a way that suits him.

You can like, or dislike, the way someone behaves but you can't say that it's intrinsically right or wrong; that's just personal opinion.

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THIS is MASSIVE! Less-Masslessness neutrino boffins bag Physics Nobel

LeeE
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Completeness of the Standard Model

I don't think that any theoretical physicist has ever thought that the Standard Model was complete. I'd even go as far to say that the Standard Model isn't really a theory; whilst it's very good at predicting what will happen it doesn't explain why it will happen, except as a consequence of what happens.

Remember that much of the Standard Model is predicated on it being intrinsically impossible to know some aspects of it with certainty; they can only be dealt with statistically. The discovery of the Higg's Bosun is an example of this.

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GCHQ's exploding doughnut threatens to ooze into innocent field

LeeE
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Re: there's an opportunity here

Better than forming an 'I O', orient the long axis of the "rectangular floor plate" through the centre of the 'doughnut' to form the handle of a giant magnifying glass.

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Safe Harbour ruled INVALID: Facebook 'n' pals' data slurp at risk

LeeE
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Re: Am I the only one ...

No, you're not the only one, because only the hopelessly naive believed it ever really meant anything.

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Search engine can find the VPN that NUCLEAR PLANT boss DIDN'T KNOW was there - report

LeeE
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Re: Why are industrial control systems designed by babes in the woods?

Updates to nuclear systems will always be infrequent because they're not the sort of systems where you can just dump the responsibility for finding bugs upon the end-users.

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Ubuntu 15.10: More kitten than beast – but beware the claws

LeeE
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Re: Yay - magic disappearing scrollbars.

Not even a good try: this wasn't a review of an OS, just a superficial review of a GUI, supplemented with a list of version number bumps.

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Beard transplants up 600% for men 'lacking length elsewhere'

LeeE
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Among the scientific resources cited by Medigo...

...are articles by the Daily Mail and the Telegraph.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha... bonk! (me laughing my head off)

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Doctor Who's Under the Lake splits Reg scribes: This Alien homage thing – good or bad?

LeeE
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Re: The Abyssmal

"soggy old bilgewoggle"

An inadequate description: I think 'excrement' comes a little closer. The level of 'sci' in this sci-fi/sci-fantasy story barely approaches the level of astrology. We have an environmental management system that checks the integrity of door locks every minute during the day cycle but not at all during the night cycle - wtf? A nuclear reactor designed not to SCRAM in an emergency but to open its core to the outside environment i.e. the lake, but via the living quarters, rendering both the entire station (or at least the bits left after the inevitable ruptures in the pressure hull due to the water entering the core flashing to steam) and the lake highly radioactive - another wtf? That's just two examples: there were many more.

First rule of sci-fi/sci-fantasy writing: ensure you have at least some modicum of understanding of the science you're going to be using in your story. If you don't you'll end up with sci-farce, which is what Who has become.

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WIN a 6TB Western Digital Black hard drive with El Reg

LeeE
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Yep, it's definitely a bug; the puddle of earwax we're standing in isn't visible through the headsets.

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The Steve Jobs of supercomputers: We remember Seymour Cray

LeeE
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Re: The genious part was to simplify the problem

ISTR that the Cray-1 used phased memory banks to increase main memory access rates. The chips used to implement main memory RAM were much slower than the CPU and to get around this the main memory was arranged in multiple banks, running in different phases; access was switched to each bank, sort of one after the other, as each bank came 'in-phase'. Clever stuff, but not really simple, except in concept I suppose.

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Prehistoric mass extinctions

LeeE
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Prehistoric mass extinctions

The article about the part that the Deccan Traps may have played in the extinction of the dinosaurs reminded me of a thought I had some time ago concerning mass extinctions: pandemics.

The wikipedia article on mass extinctions mentions diseases in the 'Other hypotheses' section: "Many other hypotheses have been proposed, such as the spread of a new disease, or simple out-competition following an especially successful biological innovation. But all have been rejected, usually for one of the following reasons: they require events or processes for which there is no evidence; they assume mechanisms which are contrary to the available evidence; they are based on other theories which have been rejected or superseded."

However, I can't see how diseases can be excluded for the reasons given there.

For example, with regard to the lack of evidence, the number of complete fossilised animals found across all species is pretty small whereas we'd really need a large number of complete specimens from a single species to spot health differences due to disease in that species, and that's assuming that the disease leaves traces on the bits of the animal that do get fossilised. And then we must remember that many dinos are only known from partial fossil remains. In view of this I find it difficult to see how disease could be ruled out on the grounds of lack of evidence when the totality of the evidence we do have barely amounts to confirmation that the animal actually existed. Indeed, I think it's a pretty sure bet to say that we don't have fossil evidence of every creature that has existed, or even what percentage of all the creatures that have existed and become extinct that we are aware of.

I also can't see how a pandemic disease would necessarily be dependent upon other events or processes; diseases would have been evolving alongside everything else and wouldn't need special events or processes to result in a pandemic.

It seems to me that unless we postulate that there were no diseases in prehistory (which would mean that disease is a relatively new phenomenon) then diseases in dinosaurs must have been a certainty, and if diseases were a certainty then pandemics must have been a possibility.

What I do find interesting, and which might support a pandemic hypotheses for some mass extinctions, is the degree of selectivity when these mass extinctions occurred; they seem to have affected only a limited number of families/genera and whilst this may reflect the susceptibility of those particular families/genera to the environmental phenomena that is usually blamed for mass extinctions it may equally reflect their susceptibility to a particular disease.

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Conservation of energy

LeeE
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Re: Conservation of energy

Ta for that explanation - I hadn't thought down deeply enough to get to the electromagnetic level of the spring material.

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Astroboffins snap BREATHTAKING, WISPY Veil Nebula supernova debris

LeeE
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Scientific terms...

"...the fluffy green and red structures"

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