* Posts by Charles Manning

3024 posts • joined 26 Jun 2007

NSA bulk phone records slurp to end when law lapses next month – report

Charles Manning
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Who is really stupid enough to believe this?

Three letter agencies are above the law. They don't care what people tell them to do.

I grew up in apartheid South Africa. We had all sorts of sanctions from various countries (USA, UK, Canada,...). Later it comes out the CIA and South African government were arm-in-arm in the war in Angola. The CIA was supplying arms and arms design information to South Africa and South Africa was supplying info gathered from captured USSR weapons back to USA.

To think that anything has materially changed since then would be grossly naive.

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Airplane HACK PANIC! Hold on, it's surely a STORM in a TEACUP

Charles Manning
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Re: Old news

Tin foil on special in Isle 3.

Believing is bullshit. It is just feeling with no evidence.

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Charles Manning
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Times sure have changed

In the 1990s, a colleague of mine was on a trans Pacific flight and was having problems with the sound jack for entertainment system.

He's an engineer, so not a problem. Pull out the swiss army knife and leatherman, disassemble the arm rest, fix the problem and reassemble.

Nobody freaked out. A bit later an air hostess asked him to fix something else on the plane.

Fast forward to 2008. I pulled out a laptop and plugged in an Arduino-like board to do some development. After about ten minutes I was requested by cabin staff to put it away because the wires and blinking lights were making some passengers nervous because it looked threatening (they were very careful not to say "Bomb").

One thing about the War On Terror, it is making us terrified!

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Microsoft's certification exams: So easy, a child of six could pass them. Literally

Charles Manning
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Re: Nice

What a disservice to your child. You're setting him up with the template that you must just shut up and put up.

If the boss says to do something inefficient and stupid... well Dad taught me to just shut up and do what the boss says.

There are many things you could have done to make this better: eg Ask the school to just let him do some other, more useful stuff during that time (eg. python programming).

Any teacher worth anything does not just want compliance - they want their kids learning. They should support alternative education.

Any teacher that just wants compliance is out of date unionised scum unfit to be dealing with the future of kids.

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Milking cow shot dead by police 'while trying to escape'

Charles Manning
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A distressed cow just runs.... fences mean nothing.

About three years back my neighbouring farmer went away for the week end and two of his cows decided to go walkabout (leaving me to try sort it out). The cows were distressed having just been taken away from their calves and moved to a different farm. They broke through 7-wire fences like you would walk through cobwebs, smashed up about 15 fences and ended up many farms and about 7km away.

Once they were settled down though it was easy to drive them home, just walked along behind them giving them a nudge now and then.

Hence the need to get up high.... this wasn't just daisy munching buttercups in the field.

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Charles Manning
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A cow is actually quite dangerous

Last year 2262 cattle-caused injuries were reported in NZ. Even sheep caused 1500 or so injuries.You just can't stop a cow that wants to go in a specific direction. Even a sheep is hard enough.

But still, 20 cops to kill a cow? C'mon one shot with a rifle or shotgun will do it. Even Pom cops should be able to do that!

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The Harder They Come, Hunters in the Dark and Fall of Man in Wilmslow

Charles Manning
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It seems to be undisputed that he killed himself.

Only whether or not this was intentional is contentious.

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Right Dabbsy my old son, you can cram this job right up your BLEEEARRGH

Charles Manning
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Hey, are you...

Al's sister?

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Hacker 3D prints device that can crack a combo lock in 30 seconds

Charles Manning
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3d printed commentards

Using 3D in the headline seemed to have worked on both accounts:

1) It got you to read the article. Tick.

2) It wound you up. Tick.

Anyone half savvy realises you could have made the bracket faster & cheaper & more durable from a recycled baked beans can with $5 of hand tools.

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Oz battery bossmen: Fingers will be burned in the Tesla goldrush

Charles Manning
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It does not have to make sense...

The Power Wall is a status symbol. It is something for the e-hipster to buy.

The numbers don't have to stack any more than the numbers have to stack up for buying any other status symbol. Why buy a BMW-i8 when a Hyundai can provide the same - if not better - functionality at one tenth the price.

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BILLION YEAR SECRETS of baking hellworld Mercury UNLOCKED by NASA probe crash

Charles Manning
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Re: I don't understand how, please explain

The Reg text is very misleading when it says "boffins have learned it if 4bn years old"

What was said is:

" We infer a lower bound on the average age of magnetization of 3.7 to 3.9 billion years."

What that means is they gathered some data and stuffed it through some mathematical models they have and got the numbers.

Like all mathematical models, these are based on assumptions about how processes work and that it is valid to, say, use a model derived on one planet with data coming from another planet.

They really haven't learned anything.

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Cop in gay porn film advised to put his helmet away

Charles Manning
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Times have moved on

Making a porn movie or a fly fishing video... no difference unless kiddies were involved.

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Tesla's battery put in the shade by current and cheaper kit

Charles Manning
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50 load cycles a year

Sounds like the key customers are in Blighty.

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Charles Manning
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Nuke in Germany? Certainly not!

They filter out all the nuke derived electrons at the border so that the volk only have untainted leccy.

This is done with a filter made from crystals ground up and suspended in pure mineral water. The nuke electrons have a different vibration and bounce off the crystal particles and go back to France.

This is the same technology Apple uses to ensure that they only use untainted sustainable leccy from the CA grid.

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Charles Manning
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It isn't supposed to make sense

It's just trendy tat to sell to e-hipsters.

Battery storage is supposed to smooth out the spikes associated with PV and wind, but it is pretty inefficient. New batteries will only give you around 80% efficiency at optimal usage. Worse when the batteries get hot/cold/old or the load is not exectly matched.

Pump storage has been used for the same purpose for decades, has similar efficiency to new batteries and has a better ROI.

The scheme I am most familiar with is

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drakensberg_Pumped_Storage_Scheme. This has been operating now for 34 years with only relatively minor maintenance and has the added benefit of being able too use surplus electricity to pump water into a different watershed for agricultural use.

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Hey! Want a FREE TOASTER that makes BITCOIN? What? You DO?

Charles Manning
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Re: That explains that then

Even if they gave you a free toaster and free bread, you'd likely still be losing on the deal.

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Charles Manning
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Re: no heating needed

So why didn't you just pinch money and stationery to the tune of GBP600/month that would have been just as honest.

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Infusion pump is hackable … but rumours of death are exaggerated

Charles Manning
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We have hundreds of attack vectors that never get used

There are literally hundreds of non-electronic attack vectors out there that could be used by bad people but are not, mainly because people don't generally want to walk around killing or hurting other people.

Someone dressed as a doctor or a nurse could easily add extra chemicals/drugs to a drip.But no, we freak out about the new electronicy thing.

This is really no different from the whole 3D printed gun freak-out session of 3 years ago. Sum total of people killed with 3D guns during the last 3 years: 0. Meanwhile zip guns built with pre-internet tools ($5 hacksaw + hammer + pliers) kill people every day.

Nor for that matter is it much different to the recurring SARS/Bird Flu/Ebola panics. Sure these diseases get a few people, but nothing compared to the millions that die every year of boring old malaria and TB.

We're always looking for new ways to scare the people...

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New Windows 10 will STAGGER to its feet, says Microsoft OS veep

Charles Manning
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Why I don't want to be their kind of "tech enthusiast"

I am not a luddite. I have been developing software and embedded systems for over 30 years.

I **like** software. I **like** new software when it enables new things to be accomplished.

However sw is a TOOL. It must be useful. Just changing sw for the sake of change and for no good use is not exciting.

Their type of "tech enthusiast" is the sort of person that gets a stiffy from knowing that ALT-CTRL-X does something on Win8.x that. They're the sort of people who do case mods and their script kiddy mates think they are technically awsome.

For 90+% of people, PC software is a TOOL. It must function and must do it's job well.

You can take away my hand screwdriver if you give me something that is functionally better and easy to learn (eg. a battery screwdriver). What MS have done is take away my screwdriver and replace it with hammer and told me to stop using screws and I must now nail everything together.

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Charles Manning
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horsepower required to run each successive Windows version has gone down...

... mainly because nobody bothers to run it.

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Boeing 787 software bug can shut down planes' generators IN FLIGHT

Charles Manning
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Have the breakers been disabled?

"I'm not sure if the 787 has a breaker for each GCU to completely remove power from the unit. As I recall, some A/C do and some don't."

Since the German pilot crashed the recently, there has been a scramble to disable stuff so that pilots can't turn things off when they want. I wonder if preventing GCUs fits into that?

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Visual Studio running on OS X and Linux for free? SO close

Charles Manning
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All biz units are independent

Many years ago (1995 or so) I had some connections deep within Microsoft's OS group who were working on Windows NT. They were dual building their code with both Borland and Microsoft compilers and the Borland compiler way producing better output.

The story I was told was that the MS compiler crowd were not fixing compiler bugs and Dave Cutler finally threw a wobbler and said if MS didn't fix its compilers, then MS compilers would be dropped.

Big organisations are just umbrellas.

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The huge flaw in Moore’s Law? It's NOT a law after all

Charles Manning
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Well of course it would double....

They counted both the number of transistors in the CPU and the CPU transistor count.

But seriously... the trend is also going the other way. Look at the ARM Coretex M0s they're bringing the transistor count for 32-bit CPUs to unprcedented lows.

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Idiot thieves walk free after stolen iPad uploads pics of them with loot

Charles Manning
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Got it all wrong

"I think some people confuse punishment and revenge, the real question is which would be most effective in getting the criminal to engage with society correctly?"

The way things work now, this has flipped over. No longer doees the criminal need to adjust to fit back into society, instead society must adjust to fit in with the criminal.

Most criminals have a very poor understanding of the badness of their behaviour. They don't blame themselves, they think it was just bad luck they got caught.

Good punishment helps to clear up the confiusion: society is highly pissed off with your actions. We'll make things very unpleasant for you so you maybe think twice before you do this again.

Just loving on the crim and asking them about how his mother was an alcoholic is not enough. The crim comes away with the message that every time I do something bad, nice people love on me. So why not just keep offending?

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Charles Manning
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Who really got punished here?

It was JohnG that got punished, not the criminal.

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Oh, hi there, SKYNET: US military wants self-enhancing software that will outlive its creators

Charles Manning
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Committee from hell?

Nope. It sounds like the next greatest trough for the research snouts at universities etc.

The more outlandish your claims and "vision" the more you'll get funded.

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Chip rumor-gasm: Intel to buy Altera! Samsung to buy AMD! ... or not

Charles Manning
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Buy or shed? Gotta keep with the latest Wall St fashion

When companies are performing well, they just ignore the Wall St talking heads, but as soon as there are problems, the companies must start doing whatever is deemed to be the right thing to be dooing, otherwise the shareholders give them hell and want boards fired etc.

That's much of what drove dot-bomb. Even companies with savvy boards were driven to buying up crazy start ups because that was what everyone did back then.

Now everyone is being forced to buy up other companies. Does Altera make sense for Intel? Maybe.

Even though Altera SoCFPGAs are ARM based and not x86 based and have little in common with Intel, an injection of Intel process savvy could really help the FPGA people make faster devices that use less power. (The current Altera board I'm working on eats about 8W and gets HOT.)

Intel has lost effective market share - their Atoms are crap and being killed off by ARM. Intel need to find some new business to get some growth and maybe they can do that in the FPGA/Embedded space.

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50 BILLION devices: The future that Juniper Networks wants to tap

Charles Manning
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Numbers, numbers

The 50bn is probably a reasonable number if you count every appliance etc that will be reachable via the internet, but they don't need huge extra bandwidth.

Most of these inflated numbers seem to be made on the premise that if we now have 1bn devices, then 50bn devices will need 50x as much data.

A lightbulb needs a single packet to turn on/off. Maybe ten packets a day. It does not get boored and download kitty pics or post reg comments.

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Dutch Transport Inspectorate raid Uber's Amsterdam office

Charles Manning
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Insurance and all that...

This is all going to go pear shaped when there is a serious crash involving an Ubermobile and the driver does not have adequarte insurance.

Most insurance companies would have issues with people using private vehicles for business purposes and even want you to declare you're carpooling (due to the percieved increased risk of carrying mre passengers).

Providing public transport is a few steps above that, which is why taxis end up paying massive premiums.

So when an Ubercrash happens there's going to be some massive fallout - vehicles not covered, houses being conviscated...

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Israeli boffins hack air gap, fire missiles on compromised kit

Charles Manning
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Re: But wait...

Yes, the victim must be compromised after that the data can be transferred in various ways...

In this case, they used heat to send data via the victim's temperature sensors. You could also use all sorts of other methods.

A BT keybopard for instance.... If the host was to disconnect/reconnect a BT keyboard and the victim was listening for traffic - that would work as would pretty much any form of sensor.

Even LEDs can be used as sensors. A little known thing about LEDs is that they are also light sensitive and LEDs driven by microcontrollers can also be used as light receivers.

But, hey, once you've compromised a compter, just assume all bets are off.

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$250K: That's what Lenovo earned to RAT YOU OUT with Superfish

Charles Manning
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Re: Suckerfish

oooh... shiny thing over there... lol... Did someone say something about Lenovo? I forgot already.

Nobody remembers anything any more. It won't hurt them for more than a week - if that.

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Half a billion wearables... and guess whose kit has to support all that data, asks Cisco

Charles Manning
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Wearables doesn't need much data

The primary comms technologies for wearables are ANT and Bluetooth Smart/LE.

Both these are designed around the idea of very low amounts of data sent in short bursts. This is done to save power. These devices spend almost all of the time sleeping. They wake up, send data and go back to sleep all within a few milliseconds.

That does not generate exabytes of data and never can. The constraint is in the batteries and the comms these devices use.

Of course all this data implies someone is later downloading reports and pretty graphs etc. But as we really can only do one or two things at a time, that does not increase data. All the time we spend looking at our heart rate charts is time we are not watching kitty videos.

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They've finally solved it: Schrödinger's cat is both ALIVE AND DEAD

Charles Manning
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Re: OR, OR...

or put the box on the freeway and the wave function will become planar pretty smartly.

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Smartphones don’t dumb you down, they DUMB you UP

Charles Manning
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Re: WTF

" Free LANCE eh?"

I see what you did there. In a rant against the cock joke, you managed to slip one in.

Well done sir!

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Charles Manning
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Re: GPS maps are not the same

" when the road didn't change for 100 years"

Nope, the roads changed almost daily - like they still do in rural Africa.

When a bit of road gets too boggy, someone makes a bit of a detour around it and that becomes the new road. Miss that and your up to your windows in mud. After a while, detours got their own detours...

I don't live there any more but I did drive those parts for some 12 years or so - much of the skill in driving those areas was being able to spot these little detours and making a quick assessment if they were better or worse than the road.

No doubt many English roads were similar in the 1800s.

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Flash chips for flash cars: SanDisk dives under your bonnet

Charles Manning
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Not really under the bonnet

More likely under the dashboard which is a far more benign environment for electronics.

Of course none of this file system stuff is actually used in anything that is actually involved in controlling the engine, brakes or such - it is only used in the "soft" stuff like infotainment. These days top-end vehicles might have over 150 micros in them, but most of those will be running small bodies of code of 5000 lines or less.

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Kim Dotcom flails desperately, launches chat service

Charles Manning
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His last web effort

Getting NZers to sign up and pledge to vote (preferably for his party).

432 starry-eyed people pledged. Dotbomb predicted tens of thousands.

His predictions are likely way off this time too.

Online comms is very crowded. Having to deal with both Skype and Google is already too many.

You can't realistically add more players unless they inter-operate like phones do,

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What will happen to the oil price? Look to the PC for clues

Charles Manning
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The analogy is entirely broken

The oil price has not plummeted because fracking oil has come online. It has fallen because OPEC has fallen down. The fracking is just coincidental.

OPEC colluded to keep oil prices up and supply down, but these cartels rely on full cooperation between the players. This means they all have quotas to keep to. Then somewhere along the path someone wants to sell more than their quota so steps outside the lines. They sell more, then the agreement is off and the cartel breaks down.

If anything, this threatens fracking.If there's plentiful main well oil on the market there is no point bringing relatively expensive fracked oil to market.

To bend that back into the original analogy.... We're still all using mainframes, but mainframe prices were held high by IBM, ICL, CDC and others colluding to keep supply down and prices up. Then one day IBM decided to sell more computers at hallf the price... The fledgeling PC market gets wiped out because it is cheaper to use mainframes.

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Three expat Brits explain their move to Australia

Charles Manning
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Rule #1, don't live like a refugee

If you want to go somewhere, then go. Forget about the comparisons, they are just pointless.

If you are thinking milk/bread would be cheaper (*) back home every time you go to the supermarket, then you're going to have a hard time of it.

Life is not a spreadsheet where you can weigh up the cost of a BMW vs being able to go to the beach.

Footnote (*): They are not cheaper. They are subsidised. That means you just pay for them somewhere else. Australia has the second lowest agricultural and food subsidies with NZ being the lowest.

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Festive post-pub noshtastic neckfiller: HEARTY HOG MAW

Charles Manning
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For the purist there is no problem finding a pig stomach.

A purist would be killing their own pig. Keep the tomach.

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Dotcom 'saved' Xmas for Xbox – but no one can save Sony's titsup PlayStation Network

Charles Manning
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Dotcom bah!

Given dotcom's ability to fabricate "evidence" etc, I would not be at all surprised if he orchestrated the whole episode to try drum up brownie points.

3000 freebies to whomever takes him from our shores.

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Deprivation Britain: 1930s all over again? Codswallop!

Charles Manning
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Indeed. We get the same crap about "poverty" here in NZ too.

Having grown up in rural Africa, this notion of Western poverty riles me no end.

I'd love to load a bunch of beneficiaries on a plane and send them to live in Africa for a week. Or, perhaps, to give them the full experience, send them by small ship in steerage.

The worst off 10% of people in UK, NZ etc still live easier lives - with more material wealth ans social support - than 90% of the people in the rest of the world.

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Skinny Ubuntu Linux 'Snapped' up by fat Microsoft cloud

Charles Manning
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Slimmed down... bah!

If you want a small Linux build then build something with buildroot.

It is easy to build a whole system (kernel + rootfs) that's less than 5M.

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No wristjob, please, we're Apple fans: Just 10% would buy the Apple Watch

Charles Manning
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If Apple sold blood

they'd line up for transfusions.

There are at many fanbois out there that will buy anything new from Apple, no matter on how stupid it looks or how well it functions.

More than 10%? Perhaps.

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Let's vote on breaking up Google, say MEPs with NO power to do any such thing

Charles Manning
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Let's looking at breaking up EU

If big isn't good for business, then maybe it isn't good for political entities either.

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Intel's LAME DUCK mobile chips gobbled by CASH COW

Charles Manning
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Re: Intel never really got the "new embedded"

"Early embedded chips were just old desktop devices with narrower buse".

Sorry, I've been developing embedded systems for 30 years and I must disagree. If anything it is the other way around. Some embedded CPUs were used to make the first desktops.

Sure there have been some x86s put into embedded service, but they've never been more than single-digit-percent players.

Intel have dabbled in the embedded market often, but then dumped the industry - leaving them high and dry.

The part that really stumps Intel is how to make money from embedded and other low margin parts. The Intel corporate DNA is constructed around the concept of spending hundreds of millions to develop a new desktop/server chip, then sell them for hundreds of dollars each. This is a very high margin business.

Embedded systems and phones are a low margin business. 8-core ARM-based smartphone SoCs (eg. Allwinner) sell for about $10. You need to sell millions to break even, then millions more to be profitable.

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Bible THUMP: Good Book beats Darwin to most influential tome title

Charles Manning
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Darwin? A joke surely?

Perhaps Darwin has influenced people - but only indirectly.

I bet less than one in ten who talk about Darwin have ever read his writing. At best, most people have just read the overview in Wikipedia.

While Darwin has some interesting things to say, the book is heavy going. I've been reading it slowly over the last year. Not exactly a thriller.

As much as the bible is full of craziness, at least the people who use it as their guiding book tend to actually read it.

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Texas boffins put radio waves in a spin

Charles Manning
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Waveguide?

Ummm... down a waveguide?

A waveguide is essentially a pipe for RF to "flow" down.

A cellphone that has to be connected back to a tower by a pipe is going to look strange.

Perhaps Apple will be able to turn it into a "must have" cool feature for fanbois.

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GOD particle MAY NOT BE GOD particle: Scientists in shock claim

Charles Manning
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Re: The solution is always...

If the answer isn't "we need more toys and funding", then refine the question....

Even though physiciast are on the quest for truth, they are still human and are desirous of an ego-rub, nice houses etc.

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Ericsson boss sticks a pin in Google’s loony Loon bubble

Charles Manning
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Re: Not a panacea

"Network can help develop rural economies..." said by a person that' probably never been to a third world country and understands the obstacles.

I've lived in some of the more remote areas of rural South Africa - which is many rungs up the ladder from other third world nations. My sister still runs health clinics there, paying for everything herself.

Programs like providing tractors to help plough fields fail, because nobody can service tractors, fix stuff,... Within a year ot two all the tractors are buggered. Lots of money spent and the only accomplishment is a bunch of rich donors feeling good that they did "something".

When you don't have even the basics like water covered, fancy stuff like twitter access is pretty low down on the list of useful tech.

Where's the BOFHery going to come from? If you can afford to send them a BOFH etc, then it would make a lot more sense to send them a few rolls of PVC pipe instead so they can get water going.

Really, really, basic stuff changes these people's lives, not fancy shiny stuff.

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