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* Posts by Richard Tobin

115 posts • joined 13 Aug 2007

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The Sun ERUCTATES huge ball of GAS at 4 MILLION MPH

Richard Tobin

Re: What does X mean?

The scale measures power per unit area of solar X-rays, measured by earth satellites. It starts at A1, which is 10^-8 W/m^2, and increases linearly up to A9 (9x10^-8). Then instead of A10 for we have B1 (10^-7), and similarly up to B9, then C1 (10^-6) up to C9, then M1 (10^-5) up to M9, and then X1 (10^-4). There's no scale beyond X, so after X9 we just continue with X10.

An X4.9 flare is large but not exceptional. The largest recorded was at least X28 (during the previous solar maximum, in 2003), but it went off the scale of the recording instruments. The Carrington event of 1859 may have been even bigger. The current solar maximum is a weak one and we haven't had anything bigger than X7.

Look at http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/rt_plots/xray_1m.html for a graph labelled in both A/B/C/M/X scales and plain W/m^2.

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NHS care.data leaflet shovage: Like a 'notice for Earth's demolition' posted to Alpha Centauri

Richard Tobin

Dyson

"The patent system offers us some protection but not enough: with an army of lawyers, hidden prior art is occasionally found and ways to design around existing patents identified."

In other words, he wants a monopoly on things that he wasn't the first to invent, and on ways of doing things that he didn't think of.

(I have a Dyson cordless vacuum cleaner. It broke just after the warranty expired, and was pretty useless anyway. Why anyone would want to copy them is a mystery.)

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Language-mangling Germans fling open Handygate to selfie-snapping whistleblowers

Richard Tobin

If Watergate happened now...

... they'd have to call it Watergategate.

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Ian Williamson: The engineer who gave Sinclair his first micro

Richard Tobin

The keypad might have lasted longer if the software had been better - when typing in code you had to press MEM-TERM-MEM between every byte, so guess which key was likely to fail (quite apart from it being unnecessarily tedious and error-prone).

All in all it was a typical Sinclair product: unavailable, unreliable, unpleasant to use. They always aimed to build the cheapest possible usable product, but somewhere along the line the "usable" part of the specification was lost.

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FreeBSD abandoning hardware randomness

Richard Tobin

Re: Linux wasn't using RDRAND directly

"if EITHER the Linux algorithm output is good, OR the RDRAND output is good, THEN the final output is good"

... provided that the two are uncorrelated, and that the XOR instruction hasn't been modified to recognise when it is working with RDRAND output.

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Possibly EXPLODING or GLORIOUS Comet ISON: The (GIF) MOVIE

Richard Tobin

Re: As any fule kno

You can't determine pronunciation from etymology.

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Fukushima fearmongers: It's YOUR FAULT Japan DUMPED CO2 targets

Richard Tobin

Oh dear...

Every time Lewis Page writes an article about how safe Fukushima is, a few days later Tepco admit they've lied again and the figures they gave before were completely wrong. So watch the news over the next few days.

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'Bet Lynch' types BANNED from zoo for upsetting not-so-wildlife

Richard Tobin

Re: Chessington Marketing Dept. Plays a Blinder

Yes, it's just another example of advertising by press release. They've taken lessons from Ryanair.

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So, Linus Torvalds: Did US spooks demand a backdoor in Linux? 'Yes'

Richard Tobin

The issue was not about wasting cycles - it's about whether it can *reduce* entropy. Linus thought this was absurd because even if the data was not random, it wouldn't reduce entropy. That's true so long as the data is produced without any knowledge of the other random data it will be combined with - but the sufficiently paranoid observe that we can't check that's the case.

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Report: Secret British spy base in Middle East taps region's internet

Richard Tobin

"Legally required to do so"

We have had several companies stating, like BT, that they "do not disclose customer data in any jurisdiction unless legally required to do so". This makes it sound as if it's something they only rarely do. But it may well be that they government's interpretation of the law is that they are legally required to disclose *all* customer data to the intelligence services. It would be interesting to hear what BT say if asked whether this is true - my guess is that they would refuse to answer.

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Samsung wins Apple MacBook contract, starts spitting out PCIe SSDs

Richard Tobin

You can see right now at http://store.apple.com/uk/browse/home/shop_mac/family/macbook_air. What Samsung announced is the non-Apple-specific version of what Apple already has.

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Seven all-in-ones that aren't the Apple iMac - and one that is

Richard Tobin

Style over substance

Apple needs to get over its obsession with thin edges. As you point out, you can't even see them when you're using it. It started with the Macbook Air, which Apple had obviously hoped to sell as the lightest laptop, but when they found that it wasn't they had to settle for "thinnest at the edges". I use a previous generation iMac and giving up the optical drive for something I'd never notice is absurd.

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Mozilla teams up with Foxconn for Firefox 'fondleslab'

Richard Tobin

Re: open handset alliance

Is Firefox OS really an Android fork? Isn't it just another Linux-based phone OS that shares some code with Android?

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COLD FUSION is BACK with 'anomalous heat' claim

Richard Tobin

Scientists are easily fooled

Did they put an ammeter on the earthing cable?

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IBM storage crew: Why bury your BEST kit at the back of the larder?

Richard Tobin
Stop

Truffles

Exquisite truffles are not found in jars. They must be eaten fresh.

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Stephen Fry explains… Alan Turing's amazing computer

Richard Tobin
Stop

Fry' comments have a perfectly reasonable interpretation

The term "universal machine" does not only apply to the theoretical tape-based machine described in Turing's 1936 paper. It is quite reasonable to consider the ACE as an attempt to implement a universal machine. I don't see anything in Fry's comments to indicate that he thinks Turing built a physical "Turing machine" in the silly sense you imply. Fry is quite correct that Turing developed the idea of a universal machine and then went on to build - or at least design - a machine that implemented that idea.

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Judge slashes Apple's pile o' cash Samsung judgment

Richard Tobin

Re: even ~600m is ridiculous

They haven't had the appeal yet. This is about how much Apple gets supposing that Samsung don't overturn any of the verdict on appeal, which they most likely will. The final amount will probably be much lower.

You should see how outraged the fan boys are on sites like Apple Insider.

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McAfee dumps signatures and proclaims an (almost) end to botnets

Richard Tobin

Suspicious figures

"100 per cent rating at killing rootkits, compared to 83 per cent for Microsoft and 67 per cent for Symantec". Did they by any chance test exactly 6 rootkits?

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BT in ad slapdown after 'misleading' punters on fibre deployment dates

Richard Tobin
Unhappy

Date ushed back 5 times

My exchange and cabinet were originally scheduled to be enabled in September 2011. The date has since been pushed back by 3 months 4 times and by 6 months once and is currently listed as March 2013.

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Lovefilm does a Wii after rival gets loaded on new Nintendo

Richard Tobin

Wii U

The Wii U already has a placeholder Lovefilm application installed when you buy it. But when you try to run it, it says an update is needed, and none materialises. The Netflix application is similar, but something does get downloaded.

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NASA: 'Those life-on-Mars rumors? Chill, dudes and dudettes'

Richard Tobin
FAIL

At least you didn't fall for this one...

... like Slashdot did: http://science.slashdot.org/story/12/11/29/2331246/nasa-curiosity-has-found-plastic-on-mars

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Cawing retail vultures circle dying Comet, might rip some chunks off

Richard Tobin
Unhappy

Maplin

Well that will be the end of Maplin then. They'd be better off remaining what they are.

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Apple must apologise for its surly apology on its website on Saturday

Richard Tobin
FAIL

Maybe more trouble for Apple

The court required Apple to make the announcement (rather than leaving it to Samsung) because it had to come "from the horse's mouth". The newspaper statement does not say that it's Apple who is making it, so they may be in for another hard time from the judge!

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BT to fibre up another 163 exchanges, coy on exactly where

Richard Tobin
Thumb Down

What they don't mention...

... is that they have also delayed many already-announced exchanges. My exchange was due to get FTTC in summer of 2011, but every three months, a week before the deadline, they put it back three months (and yes, today it's changed from 30 September to 31 December). So these 2013 announcements should be taken with a pinch of salt.

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Single NFC bonk subjugated Samsung Galaxy SIII and slurped it out

Richard Tobin

NFC off by default

You have to enable NFC explicitly, so most users will not be vulnerable.

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Apple CEO: Frothing fanboi iPhone 5 hype screwed our sales

Richard Tobin
FAIL

Entirely Apple's own fault

<Nelson>Ha ha</Nelson>. Apple's uses fanbois' obsession when it suits them, so it's nice to see it hitting their sales. Secrecy is their choice, and those who live by the sword shall die by the sword.

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Strong ARM: The Acorn Archimedes is 25

Richard Tobin

ROMs

0.2 probably came on EPROMs, which could be re-used.

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Google in the clear on Oracle patents

Richard Tobin
FAIL

100% record

Has Florian Mueller ever been right about anything?

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Solar quiet spell like the one now looming cooled climate in the past

Richard Tobin

Re: Absolute nonsense Zurich graph

The coloured dots indicate missing observations - 200 years ago there wasn't always someone counting sunspots. They have nothing to do with the number of sunspots.

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Richard Tobin
Boffin

Absolute nonsense

We have not had any "decades-long trends of declining sunspot activity" as Battsman claims. On the contrary, we have had 70 years of high solar activity. See for example http://solarscience.msfc.nasa.gov/images/Zurich_Color_Small.jpg which shows the sunspot number for the last 250 years.

I wouldn't put too much trust in predictions of a forthcoming long minimum either. Only 6 years ago many scientists were predicting that this solar cycle would be another big one, for example http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2006/21dec_cycle24/ which forecast "one of the most intense cycles since record-keeping began almost 400 years ago". On the contrary cycle 24 was delayed and could well be the weakest since the 1920s. The mechanisms of solar activity are becoming better understood, but any long-term prediction should be taken with a large pinch of salt.

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Phone-hack saga: Murdoch 'not fit' to run News Corp, blast MPs

Richard Tobin

"split on party lines"

Tories are denouncing the report as partisan - Labour and Lib Dems support it, the Tories don't. In other words, Murdoch can *still* rely on the Tories to protect him. What has he got on them?

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WTF... should I pay to download BBC shows?

Richard Tobin
Thumb Down

Unrealistic pricing

The author seems to think that because the BBC can't make all programs available free, anyone who won't pay to download them is being unrealistic. Why? Maybe, like me, they just don't think it's worth the money. The TV licence is 40p/day, so why would I pay more than a few pence to watch a single program? The suggested £1.89 is absurd.

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Mac OS X ARM port by Apple work experience kid revealed

Richard Tobin

I don't believe a word of it

It's inconceivable that Apple haven't been building MacOS X on ARM for years, just as they did with x86 while selling PPC Macs. They may well have had a student do a project, but not because they didn't already have a port.

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UK punters happy to pay £3 to top up e-wallets

Richard Tobin

Did they understand the question?

Perhaps they thought they were being asked how much they would want to top up each time.

Unless they report the questions actually asked, the results are worthless.

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WikiLeaks releases full searchable US secret cable files

Richard Tobin

"Not how PGP files work"

That phrase makes me distrust whoever said it. Of course it isn't how PGP files work, but it's just a smoke screen - the file was only supposed to exist for a few hours, and be on a secure server. That's what makes it temporary.

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LulzSec disavows alleged Census hack

Richard Tobin
Trollface

Grammar flame

That should be "stupider than you and ME". Don't these hackers know anything?

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Is iPhone data collection legal?

Richard Tobin
Grenade

The dangers illustrated...

They'd have got Bin Laden years ago if he hadn't been waiting for a white iPhone.

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Mozilla ships first security update for Firefox 4

Richard Tobin

Garbled

"including one in the XSLT generate-id() function heap"

There's no such thing as a function heap. The actual description is "XSLT generate-id() function heap address leak" which means revealing a heap address in the generate-id() function.

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UK is fifth free-est nation on the internet

Richard Tobin

Not the fifth free-est

Just the fifth in a list that doesn't include France, Spain, Sweden, Austria, Norway, Ireland, Japan, Greece, ...

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Arcam FMJ AVR400 AV receiver

Richard Tobin

Yes, but...

... what does it do?

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Ex-PM blocked Steve Jobs knighthood

Richard Tobin
Thumb Up

Good for Brown

See, he wasn't so stupid after all.

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Sandy Bridge MacBook Airs inbound

Richard Tobin

Bug

I would have thought laptops like the MacBook Air could avoid the chipset bug, as two of the SATA ports work and Apply can control which ones are used.

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BBC apologises for Top Gear outrage

Richard Tobin
Thumb Down

"Only the insecure take offence"

What kind of argument is that? It's ok to offend the insecure? Sounds like bullying to me.

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Richard Tobin
FAIL

Not funny enough

Some people reject a joke because <whatever subject> isn't funny. But it isn't the subject that's crucial; you can have a joke about anything provided it's funny enough. And that's where Top Gear failed. It just wasn't funny enough. It's stretching to call it a joke at all - more a list of insults. Clarkson et al aren't comedians - they're just not good enough to judge the line between humour and unmitigated offensiveness.

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UK a 3D TV nation? Not half

This post has been deleted by a moderator

FBI 'planted backdoor' in OpenBSD

Richard Tobin

NDA?

Does the FBI really use 10-year NDAs for this purpose?

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'Superb' Apple 1 on the block for £100k-£150K

Richard Tobin
WTF?

offprints?

300,000 pounds for offprints? These people are nuts!

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Clive Sinclair unveils 'X-1' battery pedalo bubble-bike

Richard Tobin
Thumb Down

Remember the "Black Watch"?

If it's up to the usual Sinclair standard you will have to assemble it yourself out of pieces that don't quite fit together, and the battery will stop working after a couple of weeks.

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BBC One HD to go live tonight

Richard Tobin

upscaling

It's not just a question of the BBC's upscaling hardware being better; it will be working on the undegraded source material rather than the compressed and bandwidth-limited SD Freeview stream.

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