* Posts by ocratato

30 posts • joined 19 Mar 2013

Nope, we can't find dark matter either, says LUX team

ocratato

Antimatter

My wild guess is that we will see some interesting recalculations about the amount of dark matter in the universe in a year or so when CERN's experiment to weigh some anti-hydrogen is performed and they find it falling up.

(Roughly - you fall down because the Earth's mass causes a small distortion in space-time that results in the time component having a small spacial component in the direction of down. Antimatter particles are equivalent to ordinary matter with the time dimension reversed, hence in the same gravity field their future is our past, and hence they fall up.)

As yet there is no convincing argument as to why there is more matter than antimatter in the universe, so perhaps the antimatter does exist, but is in the intergalactic spaces providing a pressure that allows the observed rotational distribution of stars in galaxies and might also explain dark energy pushing the galaxies apart.

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Liberal MPs paid AU$2,500 a YEAR to donor for electoral software licences

ocratato

Agree that $2500 annual license is not hugely expensive for what is possibly quite sophisticated constituent tracking software. However, since the company seems to have no other source of income and is able to make rather large donations to the Liberal party, it would seem that the price has been inflated as a means of directing taxpayer funds into the party's coffers.

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'Impossible' EmDrive flying saucer thruster may herald new theory of inertia

ocratato
FAIL

Conservation of Energy?

This thing is supposed to produce some thrust from an input of energy. In other words it would have a constant acceleration as long as the power was provided. Since the kinetic energy of an object is proportional to the square of the velocity, it would eventually reach a point where the increasing kinetic energy was larger than the input energy.

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US anti-encryption law is so 'braindead' it will outlaw file compression

ocratato

Technocrat vs Bureaucrat

Its been my experience the bureaucrats and technocrats have fundamentally different understandings for the word "impossible". The technocrats understand the word to mean that there some mathematics or physics that prevents it from being done, while the bureaucrats think that it just too difficult, but that if enough money and effort is thrown at it then it can be still eventually be done.

This generally means that bureaucrats tend to win arguments - if its something they don't want to do (a bit expensive), they say its impossible and the technicians go away thinking that there is some physical reason which, of course, it's not sensible to argue about. Conversely, if the technicians say something is impossible they find it amazing that the bureaucrats will try to keep arguing their case.

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US Congress locks and loads three anti-encryption bullets

ocratato

Bureaucrat vs Technician

When a technician says that something is impossible they usually mean that the laws of physics and mathematics won't allow it.

When a bureaucrat says that something is impossible they usually mean that it too expensive.

I have seen some monumental stuff ups that have resulted from that different interpretation of "impossible" since each group interprets the word in their own way.

This is why telling a politician that something is impossible will just result in them asking you to spend more on getting to the solution.

Interestingly, the advances in technology just reinforce the view that anything is possible if you spend enough on it.

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Reg readers battle to claim 'my silicon's older than yours' crown

ocratato

Is 1973 old enough?

I have the chips (note plural) for a 1973 vintage Fairchild Semiconductor microprocessor.

It was a single bit bus, and unfortunately for them was overtaken by Intel's 4004 with its 4 bit bus before it got past the prototype sample stage.

Unfortunately they are little more than pretty gold and ceramic objects as there is nothing even vaguely like a data sheet for them.

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You've seen things people wouldn't believe – so tell us your programming horrors

ocratato

Re: Welcome to the year 19100

I had to fix many instances of that in a system for an important government organisation. Annoyingly it had only been written a few years prior.

In our case the dates were often used for generated file names, and they were often placed into fixed size buffers. An extra digit would have caused a lot of buffer overflow errors.

I think about what might have happened every time some idiot says that Y2K was a beat up.

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

ocratato
Alien

Re: Coms

Try running the numbers on the power levels required to send a radio signal over interstellar distances - I don't think we will be getting a radio signal from our probes, we will need to wait for them to return with their data.

Hence, its likely that any such endeavour would not get any results in the lifetime of those that sent it. That would make it a fairly hard sell to get funding.

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Robotic exoskeleton market to grow 40 per cent a year until 2025

ocratato

Telepresence Robots

This might be OK for a start, but the real game changer will be when the operator doesn't have to be _in_ the device.

From working in space, to soldiers and emergency workers there will be a lot of demand for a walking drone that can do manual tasks under remote control.

Later the economic impact of having robots controlled by operators in low wage countries doing everything from domestic chores to farm work will be "interesting".

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Volvo eyes kangaroo detection tech

ocratato

Unsealed roads

I hope their system takes into account the road surface. Slamming on the brakes on a dirt road will just result in a quick visit to the nearest gum tree.

I was in a repair shop after hitting a roo, chatting with another customer. His vehicle had been damaged when a roo jumped on top of it from a cutting.

As others have noted they tend to lurk on the verge (the grass is greener there) and can be panicked into crossing the road when a collision is almost inevitable. Any automated system would have the car crawling along a 30KPH. As Allan George Dyer above noted this will get you flattened by a truck.

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We can't all live by taking in each others' washing

ocratato

Re: First time I have to totally disagree with you, Tim

"The only problem with that model is, who buys the stuff the business owners are making, if almost everyone is poor? I'm not saying they don't want to go in that direction, I'm saying that it isn't sustainable even in a mild sense, over a decade or so."

While it is not sustainable in the macro sense, there is no point for any individual business where employing a person is a better decision than employing a machine that can do the same work for less cost. This logic continues to apply even as the size of the market shrinks.

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Did rock-hard aliens turn young Earth MOIST? New probe data emerges

ocratato

Distilled

Or, perhaps the lighter H2O has boiled/sublimated off more quickly over the last 4 billion years leaving a higher concentration of the heavier D2O.

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Australia dumbs down: Chief Scientist says research performance lags the world

ocratato

Too many multinationals

While we had good government (CSIRO) and university researchers until this government started to gut them the real problem has been at the business level where fundamental research is turned into products.

I think that as soon as an Australian company gets close to the size where it can afford to invest in R&D it is bought up by some overseas company that is only interested in doing R&D at its head office.

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Androids in celluloid – which machine deserves the ULTIMATE MOVIE ROBOT title?

ocratato

Re: Good question....

I am fairly sure there was at least one episode where both featured, with Robby as the bad robot.

(This is based on my memory from when it first aired - so I might be wrong)

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Tesla's Elon Musk shows the world his D ... and it's a MONSTER

ocratato

Only 2 motors

Interesting that they went with two motors. It means they still have to mess about with differentials, whereas a four motor design can do all the power distribution electronically as well as use smaller motors which would be easier to cool.

I am still not interested in an all electric vehicle - their max range is not much more than where the low fuel warning light comes on in a regular car.

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Italy's High Court orders HP to refund punter for putting Windows on PC

ocratato

Re: I think the real issue here was the EULA thing

When I bought this computer it had Windows 7 installed. I decided to leave it in place just in case the machine ever needed to be returned for repairs. Unfortunately I made the mistake of turning the machine on before installing Linux and was promptly delivered to the EULA screen which does not have a "No" option - you are forced to power down the machine or accept the agreement. Powering down the machine results in the NTFS file system being left in a state that cannot be repartitioned - which makes installing Linux a bit tricky.

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Oz metadata retention won't include URLs: report

ocratato

Re: Rupe's "The Australian"

Agreed. In the report I just read they want your IP address and the data volumes.

That only makes sense if they are after movie downloaders.

Collecting our IP addresses only makes sense if there is something else monitoring all the traffic. From what now know of the "5 Eyes" I think we can be fairly sure every packet is being logged somewhere.

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No, minister Turnbull, IP addresses aren't part of routine billing data collection

ocratato

How would the data be used?

What use is it for the authorities to know that on December 2, 2012, I was connecting to the internet via 234.123.178.3 ? How would they be able to use that information unless they were already monitoring the internet backbones and building a database of every packet that was going to any site they considered "interesting".

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Windows 7, XP and even Vista GAIN market share again

ocratato

Shrinking Pool

I suspect that what we are seeing is a side effect of more people using tablets and smart phones for their browsing. Thus the percentage size of the desktop market in the web logs is shrinking. Hence a constant number of users on XP is showing up as a percentage increase.

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Linux turns the crank on code for cars

ocratato

Re: "key applications developed in HTML5 and JavaScript"

You are not alone.

JavaScript might be OK for some random web page that no one really cares about, but for something requiring a reasonably robust implementation, not so much. While I don't think we need aerospace quality, I want a bit something a bit better than a web page in my car.

For this to work it will also need some way of getting software updates FOR THE LIFE OF THE CAR. This does not mean I need to buy a new car every time a new version of the OS is released.

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NASA agonizes over plan for Mars rock sample return mission

ocratato

We need a broader survey of Mars

So far we have only landed 4 rovers and a couple of stationary probes. The rovers have only been able to explore a few kilometres.

What we need is hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of small, simple explorer rovers that cover much more of the planet. These can then be used to explore places that would normally be too dangerous, like the bottom of canyons.

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Feast your PUNY eyes on highest resolution phone display EVER

ocratato

10 touch points

I tried to place all my fingers and thumbs on a 4.3x2.5 inch area - its possible, but you can't do much in terms of moving them - piano playing doesn't seem likely.

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Fibre fanaticism overrode proper NBN planning says report

ocratato

How do you predict the benefits?

The problem with doing a cost-benefit analysis of major infrastructure projects is that their very existence transforms the environment around them. We have all seen entire towns spring up when a new freeway is built - which usually results in even more crowded roads that the freeway was designed to fix.

A project like the NBN has the potential to completely transform almost every aspect of daily life with enormous benefits for transport, housing, energy use, education, health etc, etc. Unfortunately for anyone attempting this analysis it would be impossible to put a value on those benefits, even if we could predict which ones will eventuate and what form they will take.

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Alcatel unveils 'cheaper-than-Chromebook' Lapdock-alike phablet-powered laptop

ocratato

Re: This sort of makes sense

This needs Google to specify an interface standard for Android docks. Then these can be made in large numbers at low cost.

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Sony on the ropes after Moody's downgrade to junk

ocratato

Lost trust

There is an implicit conflict of interests with Sony equipment - will it do what I want, or will it do what the media arm of Sony wants? Until that is resolved, by splitting the company, their products will remain at the bottom of my list.

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Virgin Galactic's supersonic space ship in 71,000-ft record smash

ocratato

What is the long term goal?

It might be nice to be able to pop up to space and fall back again, but I fail to see the long term advantages of this craft. Without attaining orbital velocities it will never be more than a really expensive roller-coaster ride.

It seems unlikely that the propulsion system being used could reach orbital velocities, and I am fairly sure the design would not survive re-entry at those speeds either.

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Microsoft: Ha ha, my Wall Street friends - THIS time the victory is OURS

ocratato

A good result ?

So the consumer side went backwards and would have been much (22%) worse but for the Windows Pro contribution (which is probably mostly for business use anyway) and the commercial side increased revenues, but we have no idea if that was due to increased sales or increased prices for existing customers.

There is a suspicion that MS is surviving on its ability to gouge the business market. Long term that is not a winning strategy.

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Turnbull floats e-vote, compulsory ID

ocratato

None of the above

They would get a lot fewer "informal" votes if there was an option to select none of the above.

The informal vote was much higher in the western Sydney region which is typically a Labor stronghold. My guess is that a lot of voters did not want to support Labor this time, but could not bring themselves to vote for the Libs either.

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Notebook sales to surge, says notebook seller

ocratato
FAIL

Competing in the wrong direction

The notebook PC designers should stop trying to compete with tablets - that battle has been lost. Trying to make a notebook as portable as a tablet just results in something that is too cumbersome compared to a tablet, yet not much good at being a powerful computer either.

We want notebooks that replace desktop PCs and are portable. They should have high power processors and high resolution screens, oh, and please keep the optical drive.

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World's largest solar collection plant opened in Abu Dhabi

ocratato

Re: Not the usual suspects!

The reason that this is expensive is because the parts are not yet being mass produced, and because its new the cost of financing is high (banks don't like experimental stuff). Since interest rate are at historic lows it is the best time for governments to subsidise infrastructure development.

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