* Posts by Dr. Ellen

150 posts • joined 14 Jul 2007

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

Dr. Ellen
Pint

Why, when I was young ...

I had a blind friend who was using an IBM XT286 to write -- stories, letters, keeping lists. He had it set up with a speaking word processor. He'd learned it, he'd liked it, and he never had much luck with updates. So I maintained that puppy for him until he died in 2012. I think he got it in 1987, so that would be 25 years. Had to replace the clock battery once, and get him a few new printers -- and put in a 3.5" drive so I could get data in and out. (Not that big a job with a 5 meg HD and a 1.44 meg FD.)

If something does a satisfactory job, keep it going.

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Discworld fans stake claim to element 117

Dr. Ellen

And if they find a new element that decays slower than the others in its neighborhood, Chelonium.

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Dr. Ellen

Richard Feynman might count as a scientist who was also a musician. In "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman" he mentions his exploits playing frying-pan in a Samba band in Brazil.

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Patch now! Flash-exploitin' PC-hijackin' attack spotted in the wild by Huawei bods

Dr. Ellen
Flame

Curse you, McAfee!

I don't know how many times I've unchecked the box that says "install McAfee such'n'so" while updating programs (including Flash). I wasn't paying sufficient attention, and this time they got me. Constant Vigilance!

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The ball's in your court, Bezos: Falcon 9 lands after launching satellites

Dr. Ellen
Thumb Up

Movie Landings

In the early films -- the Sixties, mostly -- they'd just run a film of a rocket takeoff backwards. Great fun watching that rocket suck up the smoke and fumes as it landed.

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Chicago cops under fire for astonishingly high dashcam, mic failures

Dr. Ellen

The chances of the equipment working are undoubtedly better if the cop is sure the recording will present his behavior in a good light.

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Work on world's largest star-gazing 'scope stopped after religious protests

Dr. Ellen

Re: this is a bunch of watermelons who want to stop anything

GOP? Every watermelon I've known has been hard left.

2
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Europe didn't catch the pox from Christopher Columbus – scientists

Dr. Ellen

Don't forget the chocolate!

Syphilis is merely the most terrible of four related diseases: Syphilis, yaws, bejel, and pinta, caused by four subspecies of Treponema pallidum. Yaws is mostly tropical, and easily cured these days. Pinta is found mainly in South America and the Caribbean. Bejel is mainly found in the Middle East, and is somewhat a non-venereal syphilis that doesn't affect the brain. Yaws are thought to be the oldest (1.8 million years) form. Around 1415 Henry the Navigator, and his father and brothers, conquered Ceuta, in northern Morocco, which had long been a port filled with Barbary Pirates.

Even if syphilis and pinta were new world diseases only Columbus could have brought home, Henry was poking around hotbeds of yaws and bejel. (Trade with the Middle East had been going on for a long time by then, but Henry intensified exploration further south.)

If this circa 1415 skeleton really does have diagnostic lesions, they could have been caused by yaws, or less likely, by bejel. Voland's Right Hand suggests syphilis could have been mistaken for leprosy, which sounds reasonable. And Grikath makes sense in suggesting that while it was there before, sailors could have brought back a more potent form. If there are at least four flavors of the disease, there may well be local differences in virulence.

Those making politically-correct whinges about Columbus should remember that chocolate is a new-world food.

7
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US 'swatting' Bill will jail crank callers for five years to life

Dr. Ellen

Details

On one hand, this bill will not make it one iota harder to SWAT somebody. On the other hand, it'll raise the consequences of so doing tremendously. On the gripping hand, this is something done by arseholes, who don't think before doing it. But at least they won't be allowed a phone in jail to do it again.

5
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US Army bug hunters in 'state of fear' that sees flaws go unreported

Dr. Ellen
Big Brother

Bosses

Bosses do not want to hear what they do not want to hear, and they have a regrettable tendency to take vengeance upon the person who says it. No amount of rule- or procedure-changing will affect that.

5
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Pirate Party leads Icelandic voting intentions poll

Dr. Ellen

Re: Yarr!

The Certain Party is not interested only in keeping the Mouse out of the public domain. "Steamboat Willie" was the first cartoon with synchronized sound, and debuted very near the beginning of sound movies. They're trying to maintain an iron grip on the Talkies.

0
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PETA monkey selfie lawsuit threatens wildlife photography, warns snapper at heart of row

Dr. Ellen

Re: when will this madness stop?

"What does the monkey say?"

Can they even FIND this particular monkey to ask, let alone to accept the fruits (preferably bananas and figs rather than money) of its labors?

2
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SPACED OUT: NASA's manned Orion podule pushed back to 2023

Dr. Ellen
Facepalm

Trouble?

There is no denying it: building something as complicated as a Mars-capable rocket is beset with troubles. Civilian rocket? engineering, fabrication, explosions, and the economy. Government rocket? engineering, fabrication, explosions, the economy, the President, the Senate, the House of Representatives, the bureaucracy, public image ...

It's simple. Unless somebody (like Russia, or perhaps China) threatens their pride, the government will never do it. If you say "yes", you're liable for anything that goes wrong. If you say "no", the whole thing is somebody else's problem.

6
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Android 5 lock-screens can be bypassed by typing in a reeeeally long password. In 2015

Dr. Ellen
FAIL

Great Turing's Ghost!

This has been around forever. In the 1960s a CDC 3100 locked up on me. A long, steaming batch of profanity on the console typewriter brought it back to life.

2
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WIN a 6TB Western Digital Black hard drive with El Reg

Dr. Ellen

I suppose you're wondering why I've called you all here this morning.

0
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Yet another Android app security bug: This time 'everything is affected'

Dr. Ellen
Flame

Bah, humbug!

Google installed most of those flaws themselves. Every app I get wants access to everything on my tablet. It wants the microphone, it wants the camera, it wants the wi-fi, it wants to be able to modify the contents of the SD card. Google did that so *they* could get at our data. All those other guys are just unintended (but unpatched) consequences. Google wants our data, and they weren't even competent enough to keep it to themselves!

2
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EE recalls Power Bar phone chargers after explosion burns woman

Dr. Ellen
Boffin

With great power comes great hazard.

The more energy you stuff into an object, the more trouble it can cause if it gets loose. Since batteries are good at rapidly letting loose the energy, that ends up being either a fire or an explosion, depending on the details. The batteries of tomorrow will be even better at holding energy -- let us hope they are better at holding on to it as well.

3
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Windows 10 marks the end of 'pay once, use forever' software

Dr. Ellen

Re: Linux

I tried Linux Mint, but ended up using Zorin Linux. They're both Ubuntu at heart, but I preferred the default Zorin default GUI. After I use it for a while, I may diddle with appearances.

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SpaceX's blast shock delays world's MOST POWERFUL ROCKET

Dr. Ellen
Flame

Re: Slanted much?

The SLS is doomed. Not to say anything against NASA (they build good space probes) but they are at the mercy of presidents and congress. And those change every few years. The things they want built (and the places they want them built) change every few years. And every politician wants his/her name on a NEW something, not a maintained or improved something. Whenever NASA is in danger of completing a more powerful rocket, they are told to drop it and do something even better.

7
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Taylor Swift boycotts Apple Music over no-pay-for-plays shocker

Dr. Ellen
Big Brother

It doesn't matter if you remember the past - you're condemned to repeat it anyway.

Back when there was effectively one phone company in the USA, there was a saying: "We're Ma Bell. We don't have to care." This attitude always develops as a company thinks it has the world by the short and curlies. Microsoft? Comcast? Your friendly national government? Of course it applies to Apple.

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Boffins, feeling around in dark for Philae, lit up by bright spot on Comet 67/P

Dr. Ellen

Re: Oh so?

You were wanting a soft landing?

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Dr. Ellen
Alien

Oh so?

Deep Impact was the first Earth craft to land on a comet (Tempel I) -- for extremely emphatic definitions of "land".

3
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Assemblers were once people: My aunt did it for NASA

Dr. Ellen
Childcatcher

Great Zot!

The 704 was the first computer I ever programmed, not that they let -- snif -- STUDENTS actually touch it. But even back in 1959, there were higher-level languages for it. I've almost never programmed anything that didn't have at least assembly language. One experience coding in absolute octal was enough for me.

3
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C’mon Lenovo. Superfish hooked, but Pokki Start Menu still roaming free

Dr. Ellen

Re: Blank box

It's called PC Decrapifier. Get it at http://www.pcdecrapifier.com/ -- there's a free version, and a Pro version you have to pay for.

0
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WHERE'S WALLY? He's in this algorithm, says developer

Dr. Ellen

This is all very well, but --

Can the algorithm tell us where in the world is Carmen Santiago?

4
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Free Windows 10 could mean the END for Microsoft and the PC biz

Dr. Ellen

Re: WTF.....

The subscription is for Office 365. And a lot of other programs Microsoft will gladly provide for you.

2
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Dr. Ellen

This is why my desktop has changeable drive bays. Put in one hard drive - XP. Put in another, 7. Now I buy another hard drive, download 10 whenever it happens, and my computer will have yet another personality. On their proper drive, all the old (or new) programs will function just fine.If I get tired of it all, I pop in the Ubuntu drive. And it just takes adding a drive bay.

It's not that easy, with a laptop; it's even harder with a fondleslab. The desktop stays.

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Ghosts of Christmas Past: The long-ago geek gifts that made us what we are

Dr. Ellen

The Christmas present that started me off was a crystal radio kit. This was the mid-forties, when I was about five years old. Got it in the evening, put it together in time to wake my parents the next day with the weather report.

In subsequent years there were Lincoln Logs, Lego, an Erector set, chemistry set, and a lot of model airplanes. As somebody earlier mentioned, many flew like scalded cats when you put a Jetex engine on them. Others didn't survive. That was about when I started making model rockets. Making them, because there weren't any kits back then. I survived.

2
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Want disruption? We got disruption: Race protest halts VC Thiel's Q&A

Dr. Ellen

Unprecedented?

"We apologize to our audience members for the unprecedented interruption and that the event became an unsafe environment."

Unprecedented? In Berkeley? There's more precedent for this kind of hoo-raw in Berkeley than almost anyplace else in the Western World.

7
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I've got a new Linux box, how does it work... WOAH, only asking :-/

Dr. Ellen

Re: Windows is too hard for Windows users

If you are going to swap disks anyhow, clone directly to the SSD. Then swap the disks. Worked just fine for me. Add in drive trays, and the dual boot problem goes away -- just swap in a Linux disk instead. And if your old SSD still is functional, you can swap it in when you intend to take risks. Best reason ever for using a tower.

1
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Lies, damn pies and obesity statistics: We're NOT a nation of fatties

Dr. Ellen

Moving the goals?

When I was younger, "obesity" translated to "shakes when he laughs like a bowl full of jelly". Today, you can be slim, yet obese. Obese is defined (in these wailing articles) strictly by BMI. And BMI is defined as weight divided by the *square* of your height. If a given shape, proportionate to size, were ideal -- then you would want to divide by the *cube* of your height. As things stand, to maintain a particular BMI, people must get slimmer to counterbalance getting taller. Since I am tall, I find this unfair.

16
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Adobe spies on reading habits over unencrypted web because your 'privacy is important'

Dr. Ellen
Flame

There are evil lawyers involved.

Somebody has gotta simplify that agreement so it can actually be read!

11
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Particle that behaves like matter AND antimatter found: Majorana fermion

Dr. Ellen
Boffin

They didn't find a particle, they found a quasi-particle. An electron hole in a semiconductor (or, for history's sake, a hole in the Dirac sea of electrons) *acts* rather like a positive particle. It's useful, but it's not a positron.

9
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British boffin tells Obama's science advisor: You're wrong on climate change

Dr. Ellen

Re: Global Warming? @ Dr. Ellen

Hans, perhaps you failed to notice my point: whatever the problem, the recommended solution was always the same. Isn't that strange, and perhaps a bit thought-provoking?

1
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Dr. Ellen
Flame

Re: Global Warming?

Let's see, now. Back in the 1960s, the papers and magazines (journals included) were trumpeting the oncoming catastrophe of Global Cooling. Then things started warming up, and we got trumpets of Global Warming. Then things *stopped* warming up. The intelligentsia then began trumpeting Climate Change -- that way, they couldn't be proven wrong.

I have gleaned two conclusions from living through all this:

1) The predictions have never been even *close* to accurate.

2) The solution is always the same: pay more in taxes and energy expenses. Stay home, and stop using energy. Don't buy Stuff. LISTEN TO ME! DO WHAT I SAY!

Sorry, fellas -- you lost me when "Climate Change" became the mantra. Climate has always changed.

16
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Women are too expensive to draw and code – Ubisoft

Dr. Ellen
Facepalm

Re: non story

Damned if they do, and damned if they don't. With no female characters, they are cursed for having no female characters. If they DID have female characters, they'd be cursed for objectifying them, or their clothes, or whatever.

2
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Greenpeace rejoices after getting huge renewable powerplant CANCELLED

Dr. Ellen
Flame

Re: Lower CO2 emissions maybe

If a power project doesn't hit a sore spot, they will set to work finding or developing a sore spot it *will* hit.

2
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US sheddies knock up flying plastic toolbox

Dr. Ellen

Re: I have to ask...

If you only wanted to fly the piano once, it'd be simpler to use a trebuchet.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mr2GuK_RJS0

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Tech that we want (but they never seem to give us)

Dr. Ellen

Re: Everything that 1960's SciFi "promised" us (and more)

"TVs that "know" what programmes I like and will record them all for me"

I've run into machines that "know what I want". And they've insisted on doing it, whether I tell them to or not. Even when I tell them not to. No fun. NOT getting one of those has been my Prime Directive of Tech ever since.

6
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Boffins say hot air makes Antarctica COLDER

Dr. Ellen
Pint

Re: Warming more slowly=getting colder.

Mark Twain noted that everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it. We're halfway there. Now all we need is for everybody to shut up.

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Dr. Ellen

Re: Warming more slowly=getting colder.

Mark Twain noted that everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it. We're halfway there. Now all we need is for everybody to shut up.

4
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Target IGNORED hacker alarms as crooks took 40m credit cards – claim

Dr. Ellen
FAIL

Bosses

As long as the guys in charge don't want to hear what they don't want to hear, this is the sort of thing that will happen. There are none so blind as those who will not see; none so deaf as those who will not hear.

16
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Life support's ABOUT to be switched off, but XP's suddenly COOL again

Dr. Ellen
Happy

You can have it all!

Drive trays. My desktop runs Windows 7. If I remove that HD and put another in the tray, it can run XP. If neither 7 nor XP are in, a third HD lets it run Ubuntu. Dead simple, and hard drives are not that expensive these days. Similar feats are possible on laptops, though they usually involve screwdrivers.

If I want to run older software that 7 doesn't like, it's on the XP drive, and vice versa for the newer software. Since there's only one drive in at a time, anything that happens to one is unlikely to affect the others. By and large, I simply change HDs and keep on going. Backups involve external drives that are usually turned off. If I suspect a Windows bug, I can connect the Windows HD externally, then use the Linux system (which probably isn't vulnerable to the same bug) to scan for problems.

0
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Elderly Bletchley Park volunteer sacked for showing Colossus exhibit to visitors

Dr. Ellen
Big Brother

Re: Nothing new here

I've worked for museums. Sounds like the way they operate.

3
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Snowden speaks: NSA spies create 'databases of ruin' on innocent folks

Dr. Ellen

Amnesty?

If the US government ever offers amnesty to Snowden, they will be lying. He'll get home, and be disappeared into a deep hole, and whether he's dead or alive, nobody will ever see him again -- except perhaps for Attorney General Holder, who'll drop by occasionally to threaten him.

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Large Hadron Collider competition: VOTE NOW to choose the WINNER

Dr. Ellen
Pint

Choosing sides:

Shadowman for the Hero win, the hamster accelerator for the villain.

The hamsters could put out even more power if there were a cat behind as well as Hamster Treats (TM) before. For an even greater power boost, strap a piece of buttered toast (butter side up) to the back of the cat.

There is a Schroedinger's cat option, but it isn't worth the price. It only works half the time.

0
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How to kill trolls and influence Apple people: A patent solution

Dr. Ellen

Re: Duration of copyright protection is too long

Amen! Really good writing (movies, etcetera) will still be around when the copyright expires -- but everything else will have gone out of print and been forgotten. There are a lot of books that deserve better, but reprint is impossible because the copyright-holder is either unknown or unavailable.

Now imagine that happening to an algorithm.

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Ghosts of Christmas Past: Ten tech treats from yesteryear

Dr. Ellen

Re: Nice article

I *had* a Commodore 64. What I *wanted* was one of those portable SX-64 Commodores. I eventually ended up with a Kaypro portable CP/M machine instead, but that wasn't fun -- it was just useful.

1
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One-minute Koch-blocking earns attacker two years, massive fine

Dr. Ellen
Devil

Equal Time

How come all the outrage is directed at the Koch brothers? George Soros is at least as interfering a rich busybody, and funds just as many lunatics.

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Amazon throws Kindle sale party after FAA aeroplane gadget fondle ruling

Dr. Ellen
Unhappy

No Paperwhite

The offer is only good for some Kindle and Kindle Fire units -- not for Kindle Paperwhite. I'd buy if a Paperwhite was on offer ...

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