* Posts by Flocke Kroes

2646 posts • joined 19 Oct 2007

Smoke-belching flash drive self-destructs on command

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Why not use the TRIM command?

Why GM slammed the brakes on its $10m Facebook ads

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Tagadab's strategy is working

You have not seen adverts for the competitors.

Nokia Lumia 900 WinPho 7 smartphone

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1 Core 2xF MHz or 2 Cores F MHz

Both strategies would provide about equal performance and power use if manufactured with same process. In real life, the single core part has to be made with a much more expensive process to run at twice the frequency of a dual core part. There are savings in die area because only half the number of transistors are required and because the transistors are smaller. Despite that, the 2 core part is still cheaper.


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So many things wrong.

Effects that CGI artists might not know about:

They get really close to some other cars In the carpark, but none of them move or melt. No-one had coins or keys in their pockets? What about all the erased credit card strips?

CGI artists should know better:

Sometimes they drew a reasonable reflection on the windscreen. When driving along the pavement, they go from shadow into light, but this does not show in the reflection. Nor does the camera man. When the camera is right infront of the car, the reflection should spread out from the midline, not pan sideways across the whole windscreen.

MPs: Unified EU patent court framework would hurt small biz

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The problem is that patent litigation is far too cheap

A plaintive should face a minimum entry fee of €100,000,000,000 per claim. There should also be a similar fine for the judge if he rules that a claim is valid.

Microsoft's dumpster-diver partner strategy is rubbish

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Microsoft's method

1) First rate is expensive, second place has hopes of becoming first rate so they are expensive too. Third rate knows they will never be better than third rate and will sell for much less.

2) Piss in the source code until is has some Microsoft flavour then distribute as a part of the operating system. In the past people would try to make do with the Microsoft offering rather than pay for something that worked.

3) When the competitors have been hit in the revenue stream, add some Microsoft extensions and make other Microsoft products depend on them.

Used to work fine, but now Microsoft has to compete with high quality free software. The first time that the Microsoft offering causes a little hassle, people try the alternatives. Making other products depend on extensions just puts those products in danger of being replaced. Only the thoroughly locked in stay with Microsoft, which is why the prices went up 30%.

NAO: 1 in 5 of Whitehall's mega projects at risk of failure

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Institutions never solve the problems they were created to deal with

The easy way to avoid failure is to avoid defining success. If you can avoid measuring the initial problem, so much the better.

Glider pilot 'swallowed camera memory' say plunge tragedy cops

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How about a 1" hard disk?


Boffins cross atom-smasher streams, 'excited' beauty pops into being

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The other explanation

LHC software if about 50,000,000 lines of code. Even one bug per 100,000 lines of code is enough to have more bugs than detected hadrons.

Not to self: Remember to add "hadrons" to the spell checker's dictionary.

Half of UK smart TV owners don't know what the 'smart' bit is for

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New smart TV arrives tomorrow

Bought for picture quality. The smartness is a waste of space unless I can re-flash it with software I trust.

Microsoft guns for web sales biz in piracy crackdown

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Keep up the good work Microsoft:


Commentards! Know a good hosting firm? Recommend a good laptop?

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Chop and change

Fitting an SSD as standard is far beyond the ability of too many manufacturers. If you want to keep a reasonably wide selection, expect to buy your SSD separately. Add a USB enclosure for the surplus spinning disk and you have a backup device.

Can anyone think of use use for the surplus glossy LCD panel I end up with after fitting a matte one I can read in an office?

Windows 8 diet exposes Microsoft's weak ARM

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Why are manufacturers lining up to become Nokia 2?

Life on Mars found – in 1976

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Of course their is a reason

There is no point putting this in the shop window until senators are considering NASA's next budget.

Death Star dinosaur aliens could rule galaxy

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Explains nothing

If they think the predominance of laevo amino acids dextro sugars on earth is suprising then it would be just as suprising for the same thing to happen on another planet. Why would meteor transport favour a particular chirality?

Japanese bank palms off customers with biometric ATMs

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Looks like you need their whole hand

Now every tourist will need a T-shirt that says "My severed hand cannot access my bank account" in the local language. Lets hope theives can read, and that they are prepared to trust that tourists are honest about this.

I do not care if the machine looks for a pulse. How are theives to know that if they do not try it out themselves?

Home Sec: Web snoop law will snare PAEDOS, TERRORISTS

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Theresa May does not understand us

Paedophiles and terrorists are not scary any more. If she wants to cause enough fear to get dangerous legislation passed, she should threaten us with bankers.

Privacy worth piffling pennies to polled punters

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Anyone think I am really called flock of crows?

I would assume the 'privacy friendly' retailer was either lying or incompetent.

So, what IS the worst film ever made?

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Dark (they could not afford lights), dull and depressing.


Supersonic silent biplane COMING SOON ...ish

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The real problem with Busemann's biplane:

It does not generate any lift. A shockwave is created each time the angle of the wing increases. An antishockwave is created each time the angle decreases. Busemann's idea was to make each wing create an antishockwave at the point where a shockwave from the other hits. This makes the wings mirror images of each other - if one creates positive lift then the other creates negative lift.

If they have come up with a geometry that has no sonic boom but still creates lift then I would be really keen to see it.

American pies are cooling on the windowsill ahead of Pi Day

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Over a thousand years to π day

ISO 8601 date is YYYY-MM-DD, but I am not sure what the 59th month is. Discordian π day was close to 1975 but Aftermath has only 73 days. Today is Pungenday and the last day in Chaos. Discord tomorrow.

Microsoft hikes SQL Server 2012 price 'by 20 per cent'

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Microsoft can do better than that

Major releases are three or four years apart and they say with a 20% price rise this one pays for itself in 12 to 14 months. We should be looking at prices of between two and three times current levels to get to the break even point. I am very disappointed.

High Court asked to keep 'cheap DVD' VAT loophole open

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Corner shops not in the same market as big mail order

I type a film title into mail order firm's web site and get a page of matching films with descriptions and prices. My local shop does not have a web site, if it did, the film would probably not be in stock and if it was, the number of customers does not justify the cost of entering the description so I would not know if I was ordering the right film.

Physical DVD shops have either diversified away from DVD's or gone bankrupt. Being unable to compete on price is only a small part of their problem. They cannot compete on convenience or range of stock.

Top Brit authors turn flamethrowers on barmy IPO

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If the governmennt does not want to pay royalties on textbooks ...

... they can hire an author to write a textbook. They could require their teachers to spend one hour per month updating a wiki that becomes a set of textbooks and pay a software consulting firm £130,000,000 per year to maintain the wiki. Plenty of solutions without resorting to copyright infringement.

By the way, ideas are not concrete objects. If the supermarket has 100 bottles of wine, and I steal 10 copies of each, and the supermarket still has 100 bottles of wine then the laws that apply to ideas could bear some relation to the laws that apply to property. Until someone can demonstrate such a theft, the term intellectual property remains an oxymoron.

The true, tragic cost of British wind power

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Worked example

Start with a Vestas V164 (really big) off shore wind turbine. 7MW installed capacity, 105 meter tall tower.

Pick a load factor - I will be generous with 33.3% so P=2.331WM average power output.

Pick a calm period - Europe usually gets five consecutive days of calm each winter. T = 5*24*60*60 = 432000 seconds.

Required energy storage is E = PxT = 10^11 Joules

Pick a height and depth: I will go for H=100 meters high and D=10 meters deep. The density of water is d=1000kg/m^3, and gravity (g) is a little under 10N/kg. The required area A is: A = E/Ddgh = 10000.

Water can be sucked up 10 meters - if you try to go higher, the water rises 10 meters and you get a vacuum above it. My pumped storage V164 has to take its mechanical power to the base of the tower, then pump water up into the 40 Olympic swimming pools supported by a forest of 100 meter tall towers.

In real life, transporting several MW of mechanical power 100 meters is not trivial, and you are better of converting it to electricity and back (75% efficient).

Robot NIGHTMARE sets new leggy-bot speed record

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Now for a proper cheetah

Retractable claws and sharp teeth please.

Linux PC-in-a-stick to cost coders £139

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$195 each

First attempt at getting a price came back with $195 each. If I go to the Pi forum, I am sure I could find some people interested in clubbing together to get a quantity discount. First thing I do with a new laptop is replace the glossy display and the spinning disk. Even at £125, a Qi display is about double the one-off cost of an ordinary LCD panel, and I like to go outside when the sun shines.

I am tired of getting burned for the cost of a whole laptop when all I want is a CPU/graphics upgrade. In the long run, I see this option saving me money.

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Real pi's tomorrow - not pre-orders


FXI's box is faster, smaller, but more expensive.

My next laptop will be a (Pixel Qi LCD) + (Pi or FXI) + (keyboard) in a suitcase. The small cheap computer is back :-)

UK.gov to double number of biometric chips for immigrants

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Why am I paying for ID cards and scanners?

We make it really hard for people to come here, work and pay taxes so they come here, work and not pay taxes. Next plan: pay people to not grow opium, but don't pay anyone to check if people are growing opium.

Blighty's PC biz braces for another rocky ride

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How does Windows 8 increase demand?

I thought that when a new version of Windows arrives, you make every effort to keep existing machines running and let other people solve OS version change issues for you.

LOHAN's flying truss: One orb or two?

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A long piece of fishing line.

Nylon: Strength=78000000N/m^2, density=1150Kg/m^3. Gravity = 9.8N/Kg.

Mass of Nylon = (Mass of payload) * (length) * 9.8 * 1150 / 78000000

A 10Kg payload on a 100metre line costs 145g. Reliable real life figures are about double theoretical values, so 300g of fishing line for 9.7Kg of payload.

Zylon, Spectra and Kevlar are all better materials if you can get them:


Microsoft licensing hike sparks UK piracy, bankruptcy fears

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Microsoft's single digit raise ...

... is their middle digit. Take the hint now because they will do it again next year.

Texan TSA crew accused of nude scanner ogling scheme

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Missing the point

The machines are expensive and easy to deceive. Why have them at all?

Lumpy nanoparticles improve thin film solar cells

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Simple solution ...

... only turn the panels on at night.

HP Pavilion dm1-4125ea 11.6in netbook

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Glossy screen really BAD!

Take a look at a real side by side comparison. Then you will understand why I replaced the panel in my laptop:


Resellers: Microsoft price hike was 'demanded by Euro country bosses'

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Why do everything in one day?

I write portable code that uses cross platform libraries. Moving it to Windows or Mac requires only a little effort. Why haven't your 80 IT staff done likewise? Keep the interface constant and your 3500 users do not need to know what has happened.

Buy one new Linux server, get it to duplicate the work of one of your 3000 servers. When you are confident that it is doing its job, that frees up a high spec machine that you can install linux on to duplicate the work of two other windows boxes. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Or, you could keep buying Microsoft licenses and retrain everyone whenever Microsoft tells you that it is time to upgrade to the next big thing.

Demand for safety kitemark on software stepped up

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Can we start by teaching Noddy level security to banks

1) I can have some confidence that https://halifax.co.uk/ is my bank. Anything like https://halifax-online.co.uk/ requires additional scrutiny, but that is exactly what they have done.

2) I can reduce the attack surface by disabling javascript, flash and java while shopping, but the few sites I found that did not require javascript now do.

3) I actually found a new site that did not require javascript. After I confirmed the order, I had to enable javascript to get to a verify by visa page. That page was from a third party site I had never heard of, so I assumed I had a secure connection to a phishing site.

Please can we cancel all banker's bonuses until they fix these basic security disasters. (What I suspect will happen is we will get some tax-payer funded adverts saying that only software with a Microsoft logo is secure, and a law requiring that all software used by the government must have that logo.)

MasterCard joins Visa in pushing PINs into America

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Steps towards security

1) Keypad on the card.

2) Display the amount of money and the recipient's name on the card.

Can't see this happening any time soon. How much commission do the banks collect on uncancelled fraudulent payments?

Muscle chip strength leaves ARM shouldering meaty profit

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Why would anyone care about Windows on ARM?

Legacy software won't run on ARM even with Windows (you could try wine+qemu-x86_64). It took ages for vendors to recompile for x86-64, so I would not hold my breath waiting for ports to ARM/Windows. Micronokia phones don't sell unless they are Meego. There is already plenty of software for ARM. Microsoft's only hope would be to require manufactures to lock the boot loaders to Windows.

Korean boffins make e-books more like real ones

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Next: Reins and stirrups for cars

The real trick would be getting a real book to open at the next page that contains a word or phrase that I type on the front cover.

Ultrabooks to account for 35% of Acer laptop shipments

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Shipments are not the same as sales

I would rather have an infrabook - thick and heavy enough to be durable. Cheap enough that losing or breaking it is not a distaster.

WTF is... 802.11ac?

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Multiple antennas

At short ranges there are N signals. Each of the N signals are sent to each of the N antennas with a different delay. Each signal leaves the sender in a slightly different direction. The result is that the receiver gets a different signal from each antenna. N times the bandwidth.

At long range there is only one signal which is sent to each of the N antennas with a different delay. That signal is concentrated in the direction of the receiver. The receiver gets copy of that signal with a different delay from each of its antennas. It delays each copy by a different amount and combines them into a strong signal. The result is a directional antenna that improves the signal to noise ratio.

Alienware takes aim at consoles with mini PC

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No fans in the sitting room

If they drop the performance down so it is cheaper, fanless and the option of no Microsoft tax then I would be interested.

Government launches hydrogen motoring task force

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Electrolysis is expensive

Current nuclear capacity is near the end of its life, and there will be a gap before replacements are ready. We could use electricity from natural gas to create hydrogen but that would just make the coming power cuts worse. It would be cheaper to reform natural gas into hydrogen directly without converting to electricity as an intermediate stage. Even better, run cars off natural gas.

Most cars can have a natural gas storage added, and you can then switch between gas an petrol as needed. Gas storage is bulky so it does not has the same range as petrol, and the storage does cost some space. It is not for everyone, but it is tested and working technology (I used it decades ago in New Zealand).

The obvious reasons why this could never happen in the UK is it does not require everyone to buy a new car, does not provide a use for surplus wind power on windy days and does not require everyone to sit at home and freeze five days per year.

Oz skeptic offers prize if Rossi’s E-cat works

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Three challenges for you

1) Describe an experimental setup demonstrating LENR that gives results others can repeat.

2) Measure significantly more decay products than the background level.

3) Measure significantly more heat output than calorimeter calibration errors.

If you ever achieve all three, I will apologise for saying LENR is an investment scam.

Boeing backs biofuel boffinry

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Biofuels are made by collecting a little solar energy using plants, then adding lots of energy to convert plants into fuel. There are some numbers here: http://www.grist.org/article/biofuel-some-numbers Unfortunately that site does not go into detail about what energy costs are included in the calculations. I was using figures for corn, which I have just found out is abysmal compared to practical and profitable feed crops. That site has corn producing 1.5 litres of fuel for each litre used in production. If they have missed anything out, that could easily drop below one litre of fuel out for each litre in. Local processing reduces transport costs of the plants, but increases transport costs for the other raw materials and removes economies of scale. There are theoretical constraints. The sun is not getting massively more bright. Thermodynamics gives limits to the amount of energy you get extract from feed stock. While biofuels remain an insignificant source of energy, they can get cheaper. Go back to that site and look at yields per area and the amount of fuel that is used. Even using the most efficient plants, scaling up biofuel to replace fossil fuel will massively increase the price of farm land.
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Terrible idea

The most efficient plants convert 1.5% of solar energy into biomass. The fuel required to transport biomass to a processing plant, covert it to fuel and transport the fuel to an airport is about equal to the fuel created from biomass. The fuel required to create and transport fertiliser and pesticides makes the entire process use more energy than it supplies. Abolish the subsidies and let this eco-disaster bankrupt itself.

Battery powered aircraft are technically challenging. They are possible, but do not have anything like to capacity and range of a fossil fuel powered aircraft. Investment in battery technology will close the gap a bit, but I suspect the real place to invest is in converting CO2 + water into fuel using chemical reactions and nuclear power.

By all means put solar panels in the deserts where they can be cost effective and do not compete with agriculture, but do not expect them to make a significant contribution to the energy budget. Wind and solar power proposals always include a statement like: this project will power X thousand homes. What they mean is X thousand homes with gas central heating, gas hot water, fossil fuel transport and fossil fuel agriculture. For real numbers, divide the claim by something between 5 and 10.

There is a reason why the world is powered by fossil fuels and nuclear power - those are the only two that can scale to meet demand.

Nuclear Mars tank prepares for 8-thruster dance

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Send in the cryptoendoliths

Instead of sterilising our martian invasion scouts, why not send in some plants that might survive there. A million years later, there could be a measurable amount of oxygen in the martian atmosphere.

Apple land-grabs fuel cells for mobiles

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Prior art predates the register

Older readers will remember when video was stored on mag tape. There was a TV program called Tommorrow's World that covered the pocket calculator, mobile phones, jam covered CD's and fuel cells. All of this predates the standardisation of TCP/IP.

Fuel cells where expected to power mobile devices because the devices used much more power than modern toys and the batteries were not as good either. It proved challenging because the catalysts were expensive (modern manufacturing techniques allow massive reductions in the required amount of platinum), also storing hydrogen was difficult (still is), other fuels poisoned the catalyst, oxygen supplies are inconvenient and air poisoned the catalyst.

Fuel cells were used on the space shuttles. (The space shuttles were re-usable manned space vehicles - honest - you can see 3.5 of them in museums). Space shuttles had liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen for their rocket engines. The price of the catalyst was only astronomical, and the waste product of the reaction - water - was handy to prevent the astronauts from dying of thirst. I am not old enough to have watched the first man set boot on the moon. If the patent system continues as it is now, then I did watch the last.

If things go as I expect, we will get some standardised battery sizes which Apple will not use. If fuel cells ever become cost effective, they will come in standard battery sizes and be fitted as an after market upgrade for phones that are not welded shut. Apple can defend their fuel cell patents the way Edison's Motion Picture Patents Company defended theirs.

Latest El Reg project: Rise of the Robot Sheep

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The obvious name is Kusanagi, but I have to start cooking now, so I cannot pick a backronym.

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