* Posts by Peter Ford

217 posts • joined 13 Jul 2007

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That's no – actually it is: DEATH STAR MOON 'could be full of life-friendly water'

Peter Ford

Even if we do go there...

... the prospect of drilling a 25km deep hole on a moon just to find out if there's water down there seems a bit remote. Have we even drilled 25km deep on Earh yet?

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Lies, damn pies and obesity statistics: We're NOT a nation of fatties

Peter Ford

Re: lies , damn lies, and who are all the pies?

Sure, running a marathon burns 3500kCals (or whatever), but just keeping your brain alive burns a big chunk of the 2500kCals/day, so that is on top of your marathon run - that day you burned more like 6000kCal.

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Banking apps: Handy, can grab all your money... and RIDDLED with coding flaws

Peter Ford

Re: Too big not to fail?

Cashing out is not necessary - after all, that cash may be worthless anyway if you really succeed in bringing down the system.

The banks just need a sufficiently large shock to restart their hearts.

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World's only flyable WWII Lancaster bombers meet in Lincs

Peter Ford

WTF is that!!!!?

I've seen both of these Lancasters in their natural habitats: the BBMF one flies over us at least once a year usually with his two pals, although I was buzzed by the Lancaster whilst kayaking up the river Medway when it flew over the War and Peace show one year - the title is an approximation of what was said as it came over from behind at treetop height... nearly fell out of my boat!

The Canadian one I saw whilst walking around a lake near Banff: in that case it was "I'm sure that's a Lancaster bomber - WTF is it doing here?". It was a little higher flying between the hills, so the noise wasn't quite as dramatic, but still very distinctive.

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Brit balloon bod Bodnar circumnavigates planet

Peter Ford

Around the world in 18 days

What was that Phileas Fogg mucking about at?

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Beer in SPAAAACE! London Pride soars to 28,000m

Peter Ford
Coat

My first reaction?

The text is missing from the speech bubble in the firstt photo..

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LG unfurls flexible SEE-THROUGH 18-inch display

Peter Ford

I need one of these

For my forthcoming patio doors - then I can watch the telly indoors, or move out onto the patio and watch it from outside too.

Oh, hang on, it would be mirrored on the other side... bugger.

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'Hashtag' added to the OED – but # isn't a hash, pound, nor number sign

Peter Ford

Re: Has anyone thought to.....

At least we'd know which was the wrong answer then...

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Real, hovering SPEEDER BIKE can be YOURS for cheaper than a house

Peter Ford

Re: Blades of Death

upvoted just for the sound effects...

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Dragon capsule arrives at space station for Easter Sunday delivery

Peter Ford

keep it up...

Or at least, let it down gently

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Surf's up near Saturn as boffins spot waves on Titan

Peter Ford

Re: Interesting news, but

About the same as South Shields, I reckon.

A hollow glass surfboard should do the trick on liquid methane - I suspect the common epoxy-based composites might dissolve in methane, as would the varnish on a wooden board.

Maybe something more exotic, like an aluminium/aerogel sandwich?

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Flying Toaster screen savers return on GitHub

Peter Ford

If I remember correctly ...

... the original flying toaster was a random event in the Fish Tank screen saver, in 2D swimming across the screen: none of this fancy 3D stuff!

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Google Glass: Reg man tests tech specs

Peter Ford

Is it waterproof?

I'd love a voice-controlled head-up display when I'm training in my kayak - two hands on the paddle mean pressing buttons or touch screens is a pain (especially when the river is a bit swirly)

Even if all it does is link to my smartphone in a waterproof bag in my pocket...

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Super-stealth FLYING CAR prototype seen outside GOOGLE HQ

Peter Ford

With all those littlw fans...

On no, it's the Pinky Ponk!

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Microsoft holds nose, shoves Windows into Android, iOS boxes

Peter Ford
Linux

Point and drool

Nothing special - I can ssh to my linux servers from my phone or Android tablet, and don't have all that windowy guff spoiling the command line experience!

I can even ssh *into* my phone or tablet - that's much more fun...

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MEGA ASTEROID could 'BLOW UP EARTH' - Russian space boss

Peter Ford

Re: Great!

Zin and Souv Blanc "good stuff" ? I'll hang on to my 2005 Chateau Figeac - should be about ready to drink then...

</winesnob>

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New iPhones: C certainly DOESN'T stand for 'Cheap'

Peter Ford

Re: Colours

My Samsung Galaxy Y came with a set of clip-on backs, including a *pink* one: £5 from TalkTalk, including some minutes, texts and data (albeit not much...)

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Meet the world's one-of-a-kind ENORMO barge-bowling bridge of Falkirk

Peter Ford

Lift my boat

Can I ride it in my kayak?

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Curiosity team: Massive collision may have killed Red Planet

Peter Ford

Re: Gussie

You can make a chiral molecule with five atoms (e.g. CHFClBr).

One you have a couple of branches in the carbon backbone it's pretty inevitable.

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Giant human-powered quadricopter wins $250,000 Sikorsky Prize

Peter Ford

Re: Power train?

It does appear to have four pulleys on the crankshaft which are drawing in lightweight thread to drive the rotors. I wondered why they kept the extra weight of a wheel and chain with it's very high gear ratio. I suspect it provides both a flywheel and a bit of gyroscopic stability: not exactly sure why the use an apparently stock wheel rather than some kind of carbon-fibre disc with appropriate weight on the rim...

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US Navy robot stealth fighter in first unmanned carrier landings

Peter Ford

I always assumed that was more a signal to the catapult operator that everything was ready to go, and warning the pilot that she's about to be launched...

In this case the robot probably gets some other signal, unless the software is designed to assume that the shove in the back means "let's go!"

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Elon Musk's Grasshopper tops 300m, lands safely

Peter Ford

Re: Pretty... but pointless

That would be a frickin' big parachute and a lot less likely to land on the black to it left behind (or even in the same state as the black dot...)

While they can easily change the launch schedule to avoid a windy day, once the thing is coming down on a parachute you're not going to be able to say "Too windy to parachute in: scratch that!". The controlled rocket descent has a much wider operating envelope with respect to weather.

However...

With a parachute landing you can have used/dumped all the nasty burny stuff before you come down, so a crash is just bits of metal... With a rocket landing, you still need some fuel in there and a crash is a bit more spectacular :)

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Asus FonePad: You may feel a bit of a spanner

Peter Ford
FAIL

No Camera?

Surely that just makes it cover two out of three bases again, like other devices!

I love the fact that I have a camera on my smart phone, but hate the tiny screen, so I use my tablet for browsing and stuff...

Why can't these manufacturers just come up with one device that actually does all the things we want it to (for a realistic price).

It would have added less than a tenner to the price to put a basic 5mp snapper in the case, surely?

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Atoms star in ball-bothering boffins' Big Blue movie

Peter Ford

How cold?

"a 2 ton scanning tunnelling microscope operating at -286 degrees Celsius"

are you sure about that temperature?

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Freeview telly test suggests 4G interference may not be a big deal

Peter Ford

Re: I checked last week

You can get a basic {Satellite HD box, dish and cable} kit for less than 80 quid, although it's not Freesat-branded so the EPG is crap...

I bought one to see if it would work: now all I need to do is upgrade the box and I should be able to go without terrestrial telly if need be...

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US lawmaker blames bicycle breath for global warming gas

Peter Ford

Re: I seem to recall...

As far as I am aware, VED is not ring-fenced, so yes: VED does contribute to the total tax income available to the government, some of which is spent on roads. However, the sort of roads that cyclists are allowed on are funded by local authority taxation (council tax, business rates, car parking income etc.), so assuming a cyclist is riding in his own county he probably pays for a fair bit of the road he rides on. Add to that the impact of a bicycle on the road surface compared to a motor vehicle, and I think the costs are pretty much covered. If everyone rode bicycles for local journeys (ever been to Shanghai?) there would be immense savings on road repairs...

The roads that are funded by national government in the UK are motorways and trunk route A-roads, which are usually out-of-bounds for cyclists anyway...

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Ride Riverbed's Whitewater all the way to Glacier

Peter Ford

Err...

I don't want to p**s on your chips, but in my experience the white water flows *from* the glacier...

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Boffins spot Luna-sized exoplanet

Peter Ford

What about a?

So there's Kepler-37b,c and d

Are they expecting to find another one even closer?

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Forget wireless power for phones - Korea's doing it for BUSES

Peter Ford
Thumb Down

Didn't Oxford do something like this?

Years ago, they put some buses on a limited route with a charging point at the railway station. Those buses I think used a big flywheel to store the power, which was spun up by induction while it waited at the stop.

To me, the bus application is a realistic use of something like this: the stops are fairly predictable and at the ends of the route are often a couple of minutes idle time to spend charging. Add in the fact that bus engines are not the cleanest things on the road, and that electric drive gives you the sort of low speed acceleration that works well on a bus, and you're sorted.

HGV's could probably get some use from this sort of thing, although it would be simple just to plug them in at service stations while the drivers take their requisite tacho breaks...

If we could remove stinky diesel engines from public transport and freight that would cut a big chunk of the pollution and emissions problems, even if the cars all stick to internal comustion engines...

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Twitter translated to LOLCATZ: Strangely this had not been done

Peter Ford
FAIL

Wot, nah Biffa?

Had awa' an shite, man!

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ESA proposes 3D printing on the moon

Peter Ford

Re: more techo-wanking

Problem with any type of cutting (like the CNC router) is going to be cooling it: although the moon is pretty cold there's not much atmosphere to dissipate the heat. Traditionally, cooling would be done with water, and that would need a lot more of it than making cement or printing like this.

Laser sintering might work, but again stuff is going to get pretty hot with no breeze to carry the heat away.

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Hydrogen on demand from silicon nanospheres - just add water

Peter Ford

Safe to transport?

Hang on a minute: this 10nm silica reacts with water to produce hydrogen gas, so it think transporting it is going to require careful waterproofing. You're not going to cart it around in open-topped railcars on a rainy day, that's for sure...

OK, there's established systems in place for bulk powders (like gypsum, for example) that react with water, but that will add to the costs. Perhaps to a level comparable with fuel tankers?

Oh, and don't eat it (unless you're a firebreathing act...)

So if it's as expensive to produce than petrol, just as tricky to transport and produces a waste product that doesn't just blow away in the wind, is it really any benefit? Maybe when the oil runs out the economics will get better...

I was hoping that the 10nm silicon would be a catalyst, rather than consumed by the process. Now *that* would be a win, even if it required regeneration every thousand litres of water or something...

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Boffins develop microwave weed-zapper

Peter Ford

Re: So Aussie BS knobs go all the way to eleven too!

"...how is this better than a hoe?"

A hoe has difficulty weeding my patio: this sounds ideal as long as I don't point it as the fish pond...

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Microsoft 'surprised' by Google Gmail 'winter cleaning'

Peter Ford

Doing IMAP right

If you want a *server* that does IMAP right, then Courier MTA is the one to have: Sam Varshavik has slavishly followed the various RFCs and standards to make a system that is totally standards-compliant.

However, you might need some help getting a client to work well with it...

Having said that, my own installation seems fine with Thunderbird, Apple Mail and the stock Android email app...

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Boffins spot planet that could support life... just 12 light years away

Peter Ford
Go

Re: Ping Time

I would say that it is within the scope of our current tech to get an autonomous probe there which could at least gently crash and send back a squawk of data about surface, atmosphere etc. before being smashed by the indiginous chimpanzee analogues...

Not sure how long it would take to get there (certainly much more than 12 years), and we'd have to wait another 12 years for the reply, but that's not a problem, is it? Voyager and Pioneer have been out there for decades and are still going. We'd need to kick our probe a bit harder than those to get it to Tau Ceti in anyone's lifetime, but they were tasked with looking at stuff on the way out, whereas this probe would be more single-minded.

Maybe send half-a-dozen: how about the next X Prize?

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Boffin claims Bigfoot DNA reveals BESTIAL BONKING

Peter Ford

"We describe it as a mosaic of human and novel non-human sequence"

Or, as we skeptics would say, "Made up"

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BOFH: Hasta la Vista... luser

Peter Ford
WTF?

Hang on...

What sort of person installs the printer in darkened stairwells?

Oh.

I see...

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ViewSonic VSD220 22in Android mega tablet

Peter Ford
Go

Re: 2nd TV

It's got a HDMI input, so a I don't see why you couldn't hook up a FreeSat or FreeView box to it: that was my thought when I saw it...

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Google, Amazon, Starbucks are 'immoral' and 'ridiculous' over UK tax

Peter Ford

Set a thief to catch a thief

obviously...

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Ancient 16m-yr-old beastie caught riding on much bigger flying mount

Peter Ford

Re: "...tiny aerial equestrian"

Even more important, Jockeys evolved from springtails!

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Peter Ford
Go

Just think of the numbers

P1 = Probability of getting trapped in amber: fairly small number (like 0.0000001)

B = Number of bugs at any one time: very large number (like 1 billion)

T = Amount of time available for it to happen (when trees and bugs exist at the same time): large number (say, 100 billion seconds)

P2 = Probability of that blob of amber fossilizing, and being found by someone: small number (like 0.0000001)

Therefore, expected number of bugs in amber = B * P1 * T * P1 = modest number (about a million)

These numbers are guesses, but you get the idea...

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Ay caramba, Ubuntu 12.10: Get it right on Amazon!

Peter Ford
Go

Kubuntu is still there!

My home PC runs 12.04. Kubuntu - I really couldn't get work done with Unity...

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BOFH: Uninterruptible patsy supply

Peter Ford
Facepalm

Re: There's no excuse for IT to bypass UPS issues.

Been there (nearly)

Luckily, I got ours out before it exploded.

But it was in the *top* of the rack, which is a tricky place to put 40+kg of batteries in the first place. When they've pinned themselves into their hidey-hole (humuhumunukunukuapua'a-style) it becomes a real mission...

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British car parks start reading number plates

Peter Ford

A recent case highlights the wrong here

I read of a case where a person had used a car park which has two entrances/exits as a through route to get to another (private) car park. They were spotted by ANPR going in, and then spotted coming out some hours later, but never actually parked in the car park. The parking company hounded them for money, but couldn't actually prove that the car had been parked in the car park!

So when challenged, you say "Prove that my car actually occupied a space in your car park, and then I may consider paying!"

It is much simpler to employ someone to walk around checking, surely?

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Swiss boffins jump in Lake Lugano for Cray super

Peter Ford

Never mind the birds

the algae will love it...

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Swiss railways ticked off at iOS clock knock-off

Peter Ford
FAIL

It's clearly different - no case here!

The minute and hour hands on the Apple version are rectangular against SBB's trapezoidal. The Apple minute hand doesn't reach the tick marks, while the SBB one sweeps over the ticks. The blob on the end of the Apple clock is rectangular against round on the SBB clock.

Distinctions of this sort would be enough to identify font designs, so why not a clock?

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OLYMPIC SECRETS to stay locked up for 15 YEARS

Peter Ford
Black Helicopters

Re: Rip, Old Boy Network Britain

But it *was* a military operation: how else do you explain the missiles on roof-tops, gunships in the Thames and soldiers on the gates??

It was all an inter-services exercise to test our response to terrorist threats - very successful, as it turns out :)

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It's Lego's 80th birthday party, but only the boys are invited

Peter Ford
Thumb Up

Role play

That's a very good point - my two girls (now 6 and 8) are lego users since birth (we started with Quattro, through Duplo and now onto the hard stuff)

The way they play with Lego is very different to the way I did: my aim was realistic and technically challenging construction, even more so when Technic came along (and I won a competition which got me the car chassis of the time - the rear-engined flat four one...).

They make approximations of birds, aeroplanes, cars, whatever: but they then make up stories and scenarios around those models and that's more important to them than the building.

I suspect that Lego's marketing people have seen the same thing, and the Lego Friends stuff fits that pattern very nicely. It could do with a bit more depth, perhaps, than beauty and shopping, but I think the kids can work that out for themselves, especially if they have a bucket of bricks on hand for the cars, aeroplanes, ships etc.

I haven't bought my girls and Friends yet, although we did get a couple of the pink buckets for them - that just adds a few more colours into the mix.

And their little brother is showing balance - trucks and diggers all the way for him :)

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‘Printed boat’ places second in novelty race

Peter Ford

Nothing new here

Many years ago we used to use bits of Yoplait (yoghurt drink) bottles to do field repairs on the plastic kayaks we spit on Alpine rivers. The kit was a bit less sophisticated - usually a gas stove to heat up a knife blade and melt the plastic into the hole...

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Outrageously old galaxy spied birthing new stars at furious rate

Peter Ford

Re: I'm so over pendantry.

Probably shoud be exsprogulation. Desprogulation sounds more like what you do if you don't want the sprog...

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