* Posts by Flocke Kroes

2646 posts • joined 19 Oct 2007

Google's 'instant' search springs keyboard controls

Flocke Kroes Silver badge


In konqueror: tap <ctrl> and a letter appears over each link. Type the letter to follow the link. I mostly use it to defeat stupid web designers who like to make links invisible. Lynx and Links both have excellent keyboard navigation.

Back in the dark ages, when I still used Microsoft, you could fix problems like "Mouse not detected, click here to change" with the keyboard. I cannot remember the buttons, but they worked in almost everything including IE. Has this been <i>fixed</i>?

Tech firms promise EU they might cut electricity use

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

UK politicains solved this by passing wind

Wind farms produce really expensive electricity. The government insists that distributors buy a percentage of their power from wind. The cost is passed straight to consumers. Thanks to the construction of massive off shore wind farms, the price of electricity in the UK should rise high enough that:

1) Central heating becomes impractically expensive and we all wear fur coats.

2) Hot water for showers and clean clothes becomes impractically expensive and we all use aftershave/perfume to mask the smell.

3) Leaving broad band equipment on 24x7 becomes a luxury that few can afford.

Taxman rejects 'lie detector' tech

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If VRA catches on ...

... I want one so I can practice fooling it.

PARIS emerges triumphant from hypobaric chamber

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Now make it smaller

If that release mechanism holds too much water/sand, it will run to one end and Paris will dive or stall.

Windows malware dwarfs other viral threats

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I did not know ...

... that there was more free software available for Windows than for Linux.

UK patent attorneys: ECJ should reject advisors' opinion

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Where are the emergency fish this time?

The undoubted benefits of a pan-EU patent court is the empty set.

The only reason why I do not consider the European Patent Office an unmitigated disaster is because the UK Patent Office is about as bad. The last government spent milions of pounds of tax payers money advertising the patent system. The fact that the adverts did not increase the earnings of patent lawyers shows that businesses understand that the entire patent system is a complete waste of everyones' time and money.

Your genes determine whether you will respond to surveys

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Policy based evidence

Select your policy, then chop it to pieces. For each piece, find a few worse alternatives. Now put the whole lot together a multiple choice survey. If you do it right, you should be able to prove that your policy is the most popular choice.

Short passwords 'hopelessly inadequate', say boffins

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Some of the answers

A source of good passwords: strings < /dev/urandom | less

Keep your passwords in a file encrypted with gnu privacy guard, and paste them into place when required. Remembering one 20 letter password for gpg is not that hard. Non-techies can often remember one decent password if they press the key above or to the right each letter of a memorable quote. Requiring users to change their password every month ensures that the password is written on a post-it note stuck on the monitor.

If a site should not need a password, try to log in as 'username' with 'password'. If someone else has not set this up for you, then you can set it up for everyone else.

Ballmer's 'lost generation' note finds resonance

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Business paid through the nose for the expensive version of Vista because it was the only way to buy an XP license. The UK government have recently announced that IE6 is worth hundreds of millions to them. What would you boss pay for pre-ribbon MS Office?

Microsoft's business is lock-in and control of the channel. The sooner they remember that and flush everyone else's new ideas down the toilet the sooner they can cash in again. They should put Bill back in charge - that way they would never release anything new.

Lite-on iHBS112 internal Blu-ray writer

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Who wants to suffer the death of a thousand media changes?

Blue ray media: £130/TB

Hard disk: £45/TB

Carousel fraudsters must pay back £92m

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Crime pays

The seven year sentence pays £6.5M/year. Increasing it to 17 years is still £2.7/year. With no expenses and a decent rate of interest, they should be able to double their money by the time their new sentences finish. The only deal that will really work to tell the they stay in prison until they pay up.

FLYING CAR, full hover, fairly quiet, offered to US Marines

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If I recall correctly, one of the problems with sending a flying car to Afghanistan or Iraq is that it would get shot at. Adding the specified amount of armour should make this a suitable DARPA project.

Why we love to hate Microsoft

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

The most valuable component in a computer ...

... is the user's data.

Microsoft chose to make each new version of Word sufficiently incompatible with the last that people would be inconvenienced into buying the extra bloat. I parted company with Microsoft over a decade ago partly because I could get better software for free, but mostly so I could keep my data forever. If Microsoft had any interest in getting my custom they would have to:

1) Use open standards so data can be exchanged without everyone having to buy Microsoft software. No Silverlight. No patent half promises that will get re-worded when they have my data hostage. The free in free software guaranties freedom from lock in.

2) Distribute under the GPL. That way, I can fix problems that annoy me, and non-programmers can hire programmers to fix problems that annoy them. Without the source code, and a license to play with it, you cannot be certain there are no backdoors. Also, GPL software can be linked to the vast supply of existing GPL software so people do not have to re-invent the wheel.

3) Compete on quality. At present I am required to pay the Microsoft tax, and spend time and effort to get it back. Most people do not bother, so Microsoft still get paid no matter how bad their software.

A month ago I would have said Microsoft were still years away from being an acceptable software supplier. Now there is the first sign progress. There are rumours of a Microsoft App store. Imagine if it became a reality:

Hardware distributors earn their profit from software sales. Selling a Microsoft box means selling MS Office, antivirus, and getting a handful of cash for pre-installing crapware. They hate to sell Linux boxes because a Linux box can do plenty with free (as in beer) software, and crapware has not been ported to Linux.

Microsoft need an App store to compete with the convenience of Apple and Linux distros. When they have an App store, they remove distributors' motivation to pre-install Windows. When that happens, Microsoft will have to compete for real.

Linux game-time refined with latest Wine

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Sage will not port their software until you switch to thyme


Royal Mail's website covered in broken eye-candy, but it does work with firefox.

$11.7m judgment against Spamhaus slashed to $27,000

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Another meaningless judgement?

When this started, Spamhaus did not bother to respond to the summons because there was not one thing a US judge could do to them. Doing nothing would just make e360 spend money wasting the court's time. A more sensible response might have been a letter telling the judge exactly that because, done correctly, it could have ended the proceedings then and there.

e360 sent out loads of spam. Lots of people reported this to Spamhaus. As a result, e360 was added to Spamhaus's list. Many people chose to use Spamhaus's list even though they new it would occasionally block genuine email as well as lots of spam from e360 and their competitors.

IIRC, Spamhaus explained this to the court.

Has anything changed since this started? Is there any way to collect this $27,002? Is that the cost of not being the next Dmitry Sklyarov? (Sklyarov spent a month in prison, and was held in the US without a work permit for 4 months. Later the court found against Adobe: Sklyarov's employer Elcomsoft had not broken US law.)

DHS deploys HD 'video quilting' chandeliers in Boston

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It was in the TV series

Season 1 episode 8.

Apple adds 'make the web go away' button to Safari 5

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Yes - pretty much

Lynx is extremely readable because it ignores the site's fonts, sizes and colours. It also loads really fast because it ignores pictures and it does a thorough job of ignoring javascript malware.

I used it until my internet connection was quick enough for pictures, then I switch to konqueror with javascript disabled and a user style sheet that fixes the vast majority of web designers' font+colour insanity. AFAIK, other browsers support user style sheets, but well done Steve for making it easy for Apple-munchers to see the web as Penguinistas have for years.

New laser raygun tech: Our sharks kick the tyres

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Lasers not that hot


To turn heat into electricity you need a source of heat and a source of cold. The more extreme the better because the best possible efficiency is:

1 - Tcold/Thot [temperatures in Kelvin, which is centigrade+273]

At present, politicians like killing people in hot countries, so pretend Tcold 27°C (300K). I am not sure what the operating temperature of a solid state laser is, but mil spec is 125°C (398K). That gives a theoretical best possible figure of 25% efficient. Getting 12% of the power needed to run a 50% efficient laser is not worth lugging around something bigger and more complicated than the generator providing the other 88%. (You cannot have the heat from the generator - it must be at a low temperature already because the generator is near the limit of efficiency.)

Remember the entire point of the article was that it is difficult to dump 100kW into air. Computers dump heat into air by raising its temperature. You want a large difference in temperature to reduce the amount air whistling through the fans. For a generator running on waste heat, you want to maximise the amount of air screaming through your cooling turbines to avoid increasing Tcold. You also have the same problem on the hot side - you have to run the lasers just short of melting point and pump coolant through them very hard so the coolant is not much colder than the laser and you get a useful Thot at the generator.

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Sharks rarely fly

The reason why sharks are the carrier of choice for lasers is they normally swim in the sea - which is a much easier place to dump heat than the air. Dumping 100kW into sea water requires about 1L/s of water going through the heat exchanger. (You could use less, but then you risk scolding a shark armed with a big laser.) To fire your 100kW laser continuously, you need to pump over 600kW of fuel into an engine to get 200kW of electricity to the laser. As well as dumping 100kW of heat from your laser, you also have to dump 400kW from the generator.

Even so, the real challenge is fitting your shark with a generator:




Fitting a 3 ton generator onto a 2 ton great white shark is going to sink the shark. Perhaps a 21 ton whale shark could carry the kit, but they are filter feeders. They lack the 'I am going to bite off your torso' image that people expect from a shark guarding an evil super-villain's base.

The art of desktop deployment

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Cave-penguins use dd

info "(coreutils)dd invocation"

You can find the name of the drive you are about to overwrite with:

cat /proc/partitions

BTW: With a drive image, I can be sure that all my test and diagnostic software is correctly installed and availabe to debug a broken computer. With a scripted install, I would have no confidence what the script said was going on if I lack confidence in the hardware.

AMD ships low-cost six-core Phenom IIs

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Parallel software

Make: (builds software projects and can split the task over a large number of cores). Compiling software is cache intensive. At some point, adding more cores will not make the build faster but adding more computers can. The first time you build a large project, you might have to wait a couple of minutes, but on subsequent builds, Make only rebuilds the parts of the project you have modified.

Apache: Can put separate http connections on different threads - if you have enough visitors. Again it is possible to distribute a web server over multiple computers, and doing that can be more efficient than having more cores.

My home machines have been fast enough for a long time, and are now optimised for silence. The next useful step will be to cut the number of cores to the point where the CPU is cold enough to put DRAM dies in the same package as the CPU. (ARM did this years ago). Much of the energy wasted by AMD/Intel/Via machines is used to send high speed memory signals through a chip socket, across the motherboard, through some DIMM sockets and along all the DIMMs.

I am surprised combined memory and processor chips are not already used on graphics cards. ATI-AMD and nVidia make separate expensive and cheap chips for noisy and silent graphics cards. The expensive chips are too hot for DRAM dies, but the cheap ones should be fine. A few cheap combined graphics/DRAM chips would be just as fast as one expensive chip with separate DRAM. Smaller chips have a higher yield than large chips, and cutting the number of different chips cuts down costs too. The graphics market is still competitive enough to be driven by performance per dollar (certainly compared to the Intel market).

HP: last Itanium man standing

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The sixth horse

When Intel started talking about x86 phones, ARM came up with ARM for laptops. Now ARM comes in sizes suitable for servers. By the time Itanium have reach the end of its current road map, we may see ARM mainframes.

More 'Son of Nehalem' details leaked

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Many years ago

RAID is software (sometimes buried in firmware). If that software is soldered to your motherboard you will have hassle accessing your data when the motherboard dies.

PS in this decade we use solid state disks.

Police send Reg hack CRB check database

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Could have been worse ...

If they made a proper effort to prevent a repetition, then an apology would be sufficient. If they just try to cover it up instead, then they would really deserve a headline story on a news website on top of the penalties for being lax with confidential data.

Obama: We're off to Mars

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All that effort to find ice on the moon ...

... and now no plan to use it.

Intel: Killer cables may leapfrog USB 3.0

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Home computers have been fast enough for years

About 15 years ago, I my monitor resolution was 1600x1200 at 85Hz (4Gb/s). Although the resolution has gone up to 1920x1200, the huge frame rate is no longer needed to prevent flicker so the bandwidth requirement has dropped to 3.3Gb/s. Years from now, when 3D films become common, the first generation of Light Peak will have no problem shifting a pair of uncompressed high definition videos. A single 100Gb/s link could handle a 4x4 grid of high definition 3D monitors. That is so big I could not put one in my living room. Perhaps weather forcasters and nuclear bomb simulators will want more, but I do not expect to need over 100Gb/s at home.

Bribery Act passed by Parliament

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Sounds like half a law to me

The other half is about accepting bribes. Imagine what would happen if it worked both ways. Next time a politician takes a bribe, it could be because there are inadequate procedures in place to prevent it and all MPs could then be found guilty. Can anyone think of a good reason why they only tried to fixed one side of the law?

PDF security hole opens can of worms

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Looks like virus support has not been completed for Linux

Xpdf's change log does not mention javascript, and one of the design goals is to keep it simple. There is a good chance that Xpdf will remain safe for years/decades. The Gnome and KDE pdf viewers used to use Xpdf's backend library, so old versions of KPDF and GPDF are safe. New versions are switching / have switched to Poppler - a derivative of Xpdf. Poppler got javascript support late in 2009. It looks like animation support is in progress but not yet complete. (I am not sure how to print out an animation ;-).

For full virus support you may have to wait for the gnu pdf library and the viewer (Juggler) that uses it. When complete, Gnu PDF should be able to run portable malware, but so far many malware authors have not made the effort to write portable viruses. Perhaps one day, the open source community will be able to experience the full range of malware available to Windows users, but today, that is still a far off dream. Has anyone got any Microsoft malware that runs properly in WINE?

If you are looking for a new pdf reader, take your pick: http://www.pdfreaders.org/

IBM tears up open source patent pledge, claims FOSS

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A product built under a commercial license would NOT have to respect bogus patents

1) Several broad fields of knowledge are explicitly excluded from patentability by internation treaties. One of the fields is software. IBM's software patents should never have been granted. No-one should have to knuckle under when threatened with software patents - and doing so is foolish as feeding trolls simply attracts more trolls.

2) IBM chose to promise not to use certain patents against open source software. No magic is required. The project is open source, so IBM is breaking a promise.

If internet had existed before we were born would we be here now?

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Ich bin ein Anmerkungverzögerung (not a doughnut)

Hans Krankl is an Austrian singing football player according to wakipedia. Bad Krautspröse is made up, but I searched the internet for Bilje and found a village in Croatia - I was a bit disappointed because there normally someone selling "the cheapest <insert search key here> online". No hits for Porsha, bit I found her sister Paula: http://stardust.jpl.nasa.gov/overview/microchip/names2k12.html

Microsoft clutches open source to its corporate heart

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Nothing about the Microsoft tax then?

The plan is simply to push patent encumbered proprietary formats (mono/silverlight), contribute patent encumbered code and repaint correcting GPL violations as altruistic code contributions (Linux network interface driver for Hyper-V). 'Get the facts' was well past its shelf life and was stinking out their shop. It is certainly well past time they hid it from the public and restricted it to their targeted lobbying efforts.

Novell (not SCO) owns UNIX, says jury

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2 million to go

SCO is currently run by Judge Cahn, but he needs approval from the bankruptcy court to pay anyone. So far this has not been a barrier to Cahn paying SCO's bankruptcy law firms and his own law firm. Judge Cahn used the right to argue about copyrights SCO never received as collateral for a loan for up to two million dollars from the former management of the SCO group. He has not spent it all yet. When he has given as much as possible to his lawyers, he will default on the loan and the virtual collateral goes to Ralph Yarro and his friends.

SCO (currently in chapter 11 bankruptcy) will go into chapter 7 bankruptcy. This means that anything that Cahn could not sell gets sold off and the tiny proceeds are divided between the people SCO owes money to: Microsoft, SCO's expert witnesses, SCO's pet journalist, Novell, the local pizza delivery service and everyone else daft enough to give SCO credit in 2007.

Zombie SCO's brain will be transplanted into Yarro's SNCP (Suing Novell Capital Partners?). He can keep Boies Schiller Flexner (SCO vs IBM+world+dog lawyers) to their agreement and have them argue with IBM all the way through to the supreme court without getting another pay day (unless they win ;-).

The jury has decided that the copyrights to Unix did not transfer from Novell to SCO. Next up, Judge Stewart decides if the copyrights should have transfered. After that, the remaining disputes are still on hold by order of the bankruptcy court while SCO puts it finances in order. Judge Cahn has so far been unable to determine decisively what SCO's finances are, so I am sure he can drag that out as long as he wants.

If SCO won the lottery, they would still have to deal with the arbitration with SUSE in Germany, IBM's counter claims, Red Hat's complaint and perhaps a few more. SCO could argue about breach of contract by IBM, but they have made no progress on that front in the last 7 years. They could say their code is illegally distributed in Linux, but they have never provided convincing evidence to back those claims (and they cannot say it in Germany because they have already been found guilty of slander there). Even if some copied code does magically appear, SCO (née Caldera) gave everyone a license when they distributed Linux with the GNU Public Licence.

US Army considered attack on Wikileaks

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If they stop people going to wikileaks ...

... they will have no idea what is being leaked.

Ad industry OKs climate porn

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3.5% _extra_ CO2

A few hundred years ago, humans did not produce enormous amounts of CO2. The CO2 levels were constant, so the amount of naturally released CO2 was equal to the amount absorbed. Since the industrial revolution, CO2 levels have risen (look at the CO2 trapped in old ice if you want to check). Humans deserve the blame for the rise in CO2 levels even though they only contribute 3.5%.

The point at which global warming gets really wobbly is when people try to predict what that extra CO2 will do to the climate. The message used to be, "We do not know, but it could be very expensive so it would be wise to take action just in case". Somehow, that message morphed into drowning puppies. By all means debunk wild claims about climate change, but please check the facts - sometimes the reports are honest.

When the government started selling global warming, I switched on my junk science detector and pointed it at climatology. It looks like plenty of others did the same. As the adverts were so counter productive, can we repeat the adverts for patents please?

UK shoppers ignorant of online rights

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Less ignorance please

Some online retailers try to cheat. One tried to convince me that a mother board that died within two weeks was not covered by the statutory 12 month warranty because I had not bought an extended warranty. Another tried to tell me I was stuffed because I bought 400MHz memory when his chart said I needed to pay extra for 333MHz. He did not give up until I asked him why one of a pair of matched SODIMMs worked fine by itself but the other did not.

One conversation like this is sufficient to loose a supplier all my business, most of my friends business and probably my employers' too. I assume that they do this anyway because they unload so much broken kit onto ignorant customers that they do not care when people with a clue take their friends elsewhere.

BOFH: The PFY Chronicles part 2

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Excellent colour on CRT's

My two are 10 and 15 years old, display 1600x1200@85Hz with no moiré and have better colour reproduction than any LCD I have seen. Even though the two of them weigh as much as I do, and need a desk of their own, I am in no hurry to replace them.

BBC might pay for Tory broadband promises

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If I am paying for it, I want to own it

If I get charged extra for my internet connection so the money can be used to lay fibre, why should BT own that fibre and not me. If I pay extra for a TV license so the money can be used to lay fibre then why does the BBC own that fibre and not me? If either of these schemes goes ahead, the recipient will enjoy the money and tell the government "You promised everyone 100Mb, now you will have to pay for it".

It is easy to massively cut back on copyright theft. Criminalise speculative invoicing. At present, the music industry makes so much money from threatening file sharers that they have little incentive to actually sell music. Without all those settlements from people who have not read the speculative invoicing handbook, the music industry would have concentrate on making proper sales by, for example, selling at a reasonable price.

Mutated genetic supertrout developed in lab

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Yes you need to explain

Bigger muscles cost more food to grow and maintain, but at some point provide no advantage to a trout. Evolution has already selected the ideal amount of muscle for a trout. If you double the amount of muscle on some trout, and release them into the wild they will stand a smaller chance of survival than normal trout.

It is like the insecticide gene placed in some plants. The gene requires lots of energy to produce insecticide. It is an advantage in a field dosed with loads of fertiliser. In the real world, other plants not wasting energy on insecticide grow faster and overshadow plants with the insecticide gene.

Moving a gene from one species to another is challenging enough. Selecting the required genes to give a significant advantage compared to the results of millions of years of natural selection is beyond our ability.

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Easy to double size with constant food

Simply halve the quantity.

UK is safer from al-Qaeda 'bastards', says security minister

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Strange network security plans

They could educate users about how to pick and remember good passwords (initial letters of a memorable quote / type with hands one key left or right of the home positions). They could explain when an admin needs to know a user's password (never). They could replace the easy target applications (acrobat and MS word). They could disable javascript and flash. After they have done the basics, they can explain why they need to monitor the entire internet for the source of leaked expenses claims.

UK pol touts canine chip implants

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What is in it for the dog?

If Alan Johnson wants dogs to buy ID cards, he should talk about what is in it for the dog. For example many barmen have difficulty assessing the age of a dog, and simply ban them all because they might be under age. With an ID chip, a dog will have no trouble being served alcohol - even if pubs do not want to pay for a chip reader. With a chip, dogs will also be able to purchase knives, solvents and cigarettes. They will be able to enter adult clubs (might need to warn them about the new laws on bestiality). Dogs could use the chip as a form of ID when they want to travel around Europe. It would simplify signing on for benefits (most dogs are unemployed, but few of them have any success claiming). Likewise, dogs would have an easier time getting treatment on the NHS.

Remember we could get all these benefits on the cheap by repurposing the national database and ID card programs for chipping dogs. As a bonus, no-one would ever get bitten again as chips prevent dogs from biting. Personal injury lawyers will advertise chip readers and say: "Go out and get into an argument with a dog. If he stabs you, we will sue the legs of him."

'Curiosity' nuclear Mars tank passes key tech test

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When they iron out the bugs ...

... they will be running on flattened bugs. I bet that is a less demanding surface than most of Mars.

BBC claims angry iPlayer plugin mob 'conflated' open source term

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Where is this source code?

They do not say word about free software - ie freedom to tinker, freedom to install on hardware of my choice (ie non-x86). They go on about the much weaker term open source, but after a few web searches, I have not found the source code for the BBC's iplayer. Clearly the BBC has an unusual definition of open source and are in complete denial about free software. Anyone would think a bunch of ex-Microsoft executives joined the BBC to boost the value of their share options.

Microsoft embraces another Linux company

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Unspecified amount

Thanks to Bilski: $0.02

New use found for 'world's most useful tree'

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Isn't this the Wompom?

Flanders and Swann mentioned it years ago


(About two pages down, the post from Soundcatcher.)

Microsoft wants to put infected PCs in rubber room

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Old half idea - still waiting for the other half

Decades ago some ISP's tried contacting their customers with infected PC's and helping them deal with their problems. The result was often a happy customer not wasting the ISP's bandwidth with spam. The other possibility was an angry customer wasting a competitor's bandwidth with spam. I am not sure it would still work - malware is smarter and customers are more computer illiterate.

ISP's compete hard on price. If they put up there prices a little and offer a discount for not running malware then there is a chance customers will make an effort to keep their machines clean.

Incorporate Microsoft's BSD licensed source code today and get hit for patent infringement tomorrow. Even a PHB can see that one coming.

SCO's Linux litigation architect angles for SCO's mobile biz

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Chapter 11 Bankruptcy can last decades

Chapter 11 is an amazing way to run a business. You do not have to pay anyone you owed money to before filing for chapter 11. All outstanding lawsuits are delayed unless you convince the judge to let them continue. You get months to come up with a business plan that pays off your creditors. You can convince the judge to extend that those months to years with a few promises that an amazing deal will be ready real soon now.

In theory, the biggest creditors can form a creditors committee that has some say in what goes on. If you run up bills with your allies, you can stuff the committee full of people who will do nothing. In theory, you are supposed to file Monthly Operating Reports that say how much money is left, what you have spent and what you have earned. It appears you can delay these for months and say "All the MORs could be completely wrong because it is not clear whether income/liability belongs with the debtor or one of its non-bankrupt overseas subsidiaries".

There is some good news: SCO's reporters and 'expert' witnesses are (low down) on the pre-petition creditors list. The teams of lawyers SCO hired to handle the bankruptcy are asking to get paid, and it looks like the trustee and his lawyers may end up large unpaid bills too. It looks like going to enormous lengths to help a company delay chapter 7 bankruptcy is not a good idea. (Ch 7: trustee sells the disected corpse of SCO to the highest bidders.)

'Promiscuous slapper fruitfly sluts prevent mass extinctions'

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I hope those fruit flies are over 18

Think of the dirty minded censoring politicians.

Microsoft's wiretap guide goes online, security site goes offline

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Of course MS can be trusted with all your private data

Its not like MS's own secrets ever get posted on the internet.

Google eyes hypegasm fuel cells for 'whole data center'

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Scalable or reneable?

You can find proper figures for biomass (in Cambridge) at www.withouthotair.com

Sunlight is 1000W/m^2. Cambridge is 52° North, so a square metre gets about 600W of sunlight at midday. It is not midday all the time. Including cloud cover and seasons leaves 100W/m^2. Plants are about 0.5% efficient at converting sunlight into chemical energy.

If we miss out the energy required to transport plants, convert them to fuel and the efficency of the fuel cell (probably about 50%) then a 100kW generator running on plants needs a square of farmland 500metres across.

It gets worse if you try waste. You have to include the percentage of vegetarians, the efficiency of cows converting grass into meat and the amount of energy people take from food when they produce waste. On the other hand, solar panels are 10% efficient (expensive) to 20% efficient (very expensive) compared to something like 0.2% for grass + fuel cell.

A fuel cell might be a little more efficient than an ordinary generator, but if it is renewable it needs to be much bigger than a parking space to power a toy data centre no matter what you drive.


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