* Posts by André

22 posts • joined 9 Oct 2007

Logic3 Valve80 thermionic iPod dock and speaker set


Valve Madness

Over the last 25 years, I haven't read a single review of any type of domestic audio gear that wasn't completely pointless. One might as well read a fashion show review.

As far as this piece of kit goes, it may indeed well be that the valves are simply sitting there turning 'leccy into ordinary heat (and a tiny bit of orange glow). And even if the signal actually goes through them, you probably would't hear the difference. They might add in a bit of second harmonic (which some people like, 2nd harmonic tends to be "euphonic") but there are cheaper and less power-hungry ways to accomplish this.

The only place where valve circuitry really shines is in musical instrument amps, because it handles the tremendous dynamics (as in very high peak-to-average signal ratio) of most instruments fitted with magnetic pickups in a graceful manner, without the need for elaborate compresser/limiter circuitry.

Glasgow Cops pound Facebook to blunt knife crime


Re: hmmm

...especially when 1/2 the labour gov has admittedly smoked in their past.

Yeah but they "didn't inhale"...

Microsoft's IE 8 beta adds 'special' list

Paris Hilton

web savvy


Microsoft has issued a third Internet Explorer 8 beta that includes a list of compatible websites for users less than "web savvy".


If you *are* web savvy, you're not using IE.

Paris because, well, duh.

Google and the Great Wikipedia Feedback Loop


I'll tell you what...

I actually have a link to the wikipedia main page at the top of my bookmark list. It's much more likely I search for something in wikipedia rather than using google.

IMNSHO, wikipedia content is relevant and of fairly good quality in most cases. In articles that are within my field of expertise, glaring errors are *extremely* rare. In other words, wikipedia works for me, and probably for countless others as well.

Also, please note that google measures relevancy by, amongst others, the number of links to a page. Not many people will link to Brittannica, as a link to a paytard site is pretty useless. Is it any surprise that wikipedia comes up higher than Brittannica in search results?

EU says Microsoft violated law with IE on Windows


How do you get a browser etc...

A total noob should not have access to a windows box with a browser installed by default, especially if that browser happens to be IE: the box will likely be part of a botnet within half an hour after its first boot.

If you're not a total noob you'll most likely have an USB drive around with a reasonably recent copy of Firefox. Otherwise, you get hold of someone who is not a total noob and have him install firefox for you (and while (s)he's at it, see to it that the box is fully patched and fix a few other annoying windows default issues).


The real pain in the @$$...

... is that once you've installed your browser of choice (in my case, firefox), set it as default, and gone through all the motions to banish IE from your windoze box...

Guess what happens when you click on an URL in HTML Help?

Speeding Oz teen may face 'gorillas in the mist'



If it was actually horny gorillas that the lad would have to deal with in prison, he'd run very little risk of anal rape since a male gorilla's "equipment" is of rather diminutive size.

On a humorously coincident note, Italian singer/songwriter Fabrizio de Andrè wrote a rather hilarious song about a judge and a gorilla, "Attenti al Gorilla!" ("Watch out for that gorilla!"). It appears de Andrè did not know about the anatomical details of this particular species of primate either.

Photography: Yes, you have rights


@ AC 31st December 2008 03:48:

"I do not go out in public for fun. I go out because I have to."

Poor sod. You obviously really, really need to Get A Life.

US gun lobby blogs Thanksgiving gun 'facts'


Brought to you courtesy of...

... Dick Cheney.

Mine's the camouflage jacket with the sawn-off 12 gauge in the inside pocket, thank you.

OMFG, what have you done?

Thumb Up


Clean, sweet and fast.

That's the way (aha aha) I like it...

The war on photographers - you're all al Qaeda suspects now


Re: Idea

Making police officers carry responsibility for their actions would obviously be the right thing in a civilized society, but don't hold your breath: It Ain't Gonna Happen.

And BTW: in my country of residence (Italy) it is forbidden to take photographs (or video footage) of public officials if their faces would be recognizeable - and that includes cops, and even firemen and ambulancemen. To be on the safe side, you just totally abstain from having any uniforms in your viewfinder, ever, unless you're a professional photojournalist or camera operator. But, I haven't had any grief from the police for taking photographs so far.

Some random members of the public however, tend to believe that one cannot take photographs in public **with a SLR** (as opposed to cellphones and point-and-shoot cameras)...

UK electricity crisis over - for now


A few points, just for good measure

Volts and Amps:

Switching power supplies as used in most electronic equipment to date will indeed react to voltage drops by drawing more current, thereby maintaining constant power. However, the SMPS's in most consumer equipment will start flaking out when voltage drops more than 10% below nominal. Some SMPS's are however capable of operating anywhere between 100-250Vac (sometimes even 90-260Vac), these are mostly found in pro gear.

Heaters will indeed consume notably less power as the voltage drops, but most heaters tend to be governed by thermostats so they will just spend more time being switched on, and in the (medium)long term there'll be no difference in energy consumption.

Incandescent ligth bulbs and motor driven appliances are the few things I can think of that will effectively use less power in brownout conditions.

Uranium scarcity and thorium reactors:

Uranium is indeed getting somewhat scarse though the figures quoted (about 40 years of supply @ status quo, 70 years if we include military inventory) are the most pessimistic I've seen so far. A few other sources I came across (print publications so alas no url) went for 100 years @ status quo, and maybe twice that if uranium reserves that are currently considered uneconomical to mine are brought into the bargain.

Also note that nuclear reactors have few emissions, but uranium mining causes severe pollution.

Thorium can be used as fuel in breeder reactors, as can uranium. But breeder reactors are a tad more dodgy to operate than conventional reactors. The few known practical breeders use liquid sodium as a coolant, which:

* becomes very radioactive (Na-24)

* is extremely chemically reactive and will cause severe explosions if it comes in contact with water.

Apply Murphy's law to the above, and then tell me if you'd want such a reactor anywhere near where you live.

The most promising new reactor design from a safety point of view is the pebble bed reactor, which has its fuel encapsulated in graphite/ceramic spheres that are just about indestructible, in other words there's very little risk of irradiated fuel and fission products (aka radioactive waste) getting into the environment where it can do damage.

Regrettably, this also means that fuel recycling is not viable.

Radioactive waste:

Disposing of radioactive waste by shooting it towards the sun with rockets is 1950's sci-fi, except there's a lot of fi(ction) and very little sci(ence) involved. The largest current vehicles have payload capacities in the low tens of tons, there are tens of thousands of tons of higly radioactive waste to be disposed of, and operational safety would require the waste to be packed in shielded containers which weigh something like ten times the amount of waste they contain. Which means that all the rockets launched since the 50's would not have been sufficient to deal with even a small part of the nuclear waste that has been produced till now.


For the past 30 years, science pundits have been telling us that we'll have viable fusion reactors in less than thirty years. Don't hold your breath. Also, contary to popular belief, fusion reactors *will* have radioactive waste problems. The fusion process does not produce fission products ,of course - but it does produce truckloads of very fast neutrons which will "activate" (= render highly radioactive) the materials that the reactor is made of, and damage them in the process. Parts of the hypothetical fission reactor will have to be periodically replaced, these parts will be extremely radioactive and will need to be disposed of safely.

Building a fusion reactor has been likened to "putting the sun in a box", but "we still don't know how to make the box". I'd like to remind y'all that we already have a fusion reactor, which is sitting at a safe distance, has a MTBC (Mean time between catastrophe) of about 10*10^9 years which leaves us still about 5*10^9 years of stable operation, is totally maintaince free and supplies the earth with more energy each hour than all industrialized countries consume in one year.


The U.K. has a lot of potential for viable wind energy, but it is currently among the european countries with the lowest installed base in wind power. While it is true that wind does not blow all of the time, it does most of the time and the possible contribution of wind should not be dismissed as an ecotard hobbyhorse. Wind energy has come of age, it is one of the cleanest sources and now economically viable.

Also please do not confuse (most of) the anti-wind-turbine crowd with "ecologist" or "conservationists". A sizeable part of this crowd is made up of nimby's who gratefully accepted the Exxon Kool-Aid. As for yours truly, I cringe at the thought of strip mining for coal - which comes down to blowing off entire hilltops - but I would not have any problems with looking at an array of windmills perched on those same hilltops.

For those who managed to get to this point, thanks for sitting this one out. However, the above arguments barely scratch the surface of a very complex set of problems humanity is currently facing. I'd just like to remind y'all that all such complex problems do indeed have simple solutions, and these solutions have one thing in common: They're invariably wrong.

My excuses for any typo's and spelling errors: this post has become an article proper and as such should have been proof-read, but I don't have a proof-reader handy.

Alien, just because that's what I feel like at the moment.

Ballmer and Gates defend Vista, drop Windows 7 hints

Thumb Down

@ Vista is great

Oh yeah, I also know quite a few people who thought WinME was great.

BOFH: The Boss gets Grandpa Simpson syndrome



No "walking drive" races???

mine's the one with the custom 60ft channel cable hanging from the side pocket...

Yahoo! pimping malware from banner ads


Re: Ads? What ads?

AdBlock Plus solves 99.9% of problems here.

I hear site owners rant and rave about how I "steal" their content... but until the online advertising industry gets its act together, which IMHO means:

* Proper vetting of banner ad providers;

* Promptly (response time of minutes rather than days) yanking malware-spreading, fraudolent and/or otherwise non-kosher ads;

* Do away with intrusive ad formats

I will continue to do everything I can to get rid of online ads.

As things are now, it appears that online advertising is truly "the pits", as in pushing advertising that no other mainstream media would accept.

Were the snatched Brit sailors in 'disputed waters'?


@ Karl Lattimer

Matt's comment may have been invalidated because he got the other facts messed up, but he was right about the most important part. The US/UK//"coalition of the willing(ly strongarmed)" war against Iraq was/is an illegal war of agression under international law. Thus, the Royal Navy shouldn't have been anywhere near there in the first place.

Geert Wilders faces legal threats over footage copyright



...Geert Wilders does *exactly* the same thing that he accuses Muslims of: He takes a handful of sentences from the Qur'an out of context, and then uses these to sow hatred.

For the record: In the Netherlands, inciting racial hatred is a crime, punishable with jailtime. In a (not too) distant past, an extreme right MP got 6 weeks for having diffused a pamphlet against Jews. And I guess that if Wilders had been targeting Jews instead of Muslims, he would have been in jail by now. Muslims, it appears, are fair game...



You might not know this, as the mass media usually do not make such a big deal out of such events, but so called "Pro Lifers" in the U.S. of A regularly threaten people who work at abortion clinics, and sometimes follow up with the occasional drive-by shooting.

For some reason such acts are not recognized for what they are: terrorism, that is.

Lost HMRC discs pop up on eBay


@Jon Nicholas

25 million records could comfortably fit on 2 CDs.

500 bytes is rather abundant for this type of record. An average of 120 - 160 bytes per record is more likely. That would make 3-4 GB of data, if we assume CSV or similar format.

Furthermore, the only part of this data that does not have lots of redundance are the bank account number and social security number, which are supposed to be unique. The remainder of the data has lots of redundance (How many different first and last names are in common use? How many different street and town names?) and will compress quite well. I've seen compression ratios of as much as 6:1 for this type of data. Also, as mentioned earlier in this thread, if it's a relational database, postcode and town could be referenced to a separate table and take up only 4 bytes (INT). Thus, fitting all in 1400 MB is quite possible.

Australia to get 1,000 megawatt wind farm


Re: The Australian Reality

Points taken.

However, one should keep in mind that the economics of power generation and transmission may well change significantly in the not-too-distant future. Oil and gas prices will continue to rise, and coal will (hopefully) become too much of a liability due to the huge amount of CO2 emitted. Conversely, the (relative) cost of HVDC transmission lines - which are more efficient than traditional three phase AC lines when long distances are involved - will probably drop as they become more common and power semiconductor prices continue to fall. Wind turbines themselves will become cheaper and more efficient too - as soon as sufficient production capacity will have been established.

Baseload capacity is one of the more hairy problems that must be dealt with. A combination of solar trough, tidal/wave power and flexible fossil fueled capacity might be the best bet.

Tomorrow's world will need electrical energy, probably more than today's despite energy conservation efforts - but if we don't get off our lazy arses to begin with, tomorrow's world might not be worth living in.


@ starace

As for the "paid shills" line, Exxon Mobil sponsoring climate change deniers of all stripes can be considered established fact. The Royal Society can hardly be considered a bunch of greeny loonies. Did you bother to read the linked document?

Regarding the performance of UK wind farms, I can more or less agree. But then the British performance when it comes to alternative energy sources is among the worst in Europe. A shame really since Britain has a lot of potentially excellent sites.

One of the reasons might be that Britain is more eager to push nuclear, possibly for military reasons - read Trident. Compare France and the "force de frappe".

Tuning of wind turbines is usually *not* achieved by different blade profiles as your "out of the mold" line suggests, but rather by rotor diameter and gearing wrt to nominal generator output.


Yes indeed, Green Energy...

Strange how most posters seem to have been getting high on the Exxon Mobil kool-aid. Paid shills maybe?

See also:



Doesn't a windfarm turbine have to run for something like 10 years to become "carbon neutral"?


Much less. Reports confirmed by independent auditors indicate about 9 months worst case, with documented instances of achieving "carbon neutrality" in as little of three months. This includes construction of the turbines, siting, maintenance over the projected lifespan of 20 years, infrastructure (power lines), and tearing the turbines down and scrapping them after their useful lifespan has expired.


Don't they wreck miles of wildlife habitat and interfere with the migration of birds.


Answer to the first question:

If you want to see a wrecked wildlife habitat, go visit an open pit coal mine. Or the Niger delta, or any of quite a few other places literally polluted to death by the oil industry. Or an uranium mine (the aussies happen to have the biggest known uranium ore deposit in the world btw).

Answer to the second question:

It appear that wind turbines do not much bother birds. They simply either fly over them, or between them. Good old fashioned power lines cause a lot more casualties.


Also all this talk of capacity I'm guessing means if each turbine was running at maximum - which will happen how often? What about average output - can we have figures for that? Or will that fact if they're lucky it will run a lightbulb be too embarrassing?


Planners will not put a wind farm just anywhere. Sites are chosen according to their aeolic characteristics, and the design of the turbines tuned to the specific site. This means that a well planned windfarm will yield on average between 25 and 50 per cent of nominal installed capacity. Best documented performance is credited to a site in Denmark with just over 50 per cent average.

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