* Posts by Flocke Kroes

2601 posts • joined 19 Oct 2007

Brown pledges to make Britain's drivers greener

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

A big wind turbine for every 4 square km?

Combining the amount of fuel used in the UK for road transport in 2008-9 with the energy densities of petrol, diesel and LPG, I get a power use of 50GW. You would need over 35000 of the largest wind turbines in the world to generate that much power. (I assumed 25% load factor, which is optimistic considering that they are so close together and most would not be windy locartions).




Microsoft hit with €9m fine over German pricing

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

What is the problem?

I am a bit confused about what Microsoft has done wrong here. I assume the real reason for the fine has been lost in translation, or someone has avoided the main issue to make the judgement look controversial.

I do not see what is wrong with a supplier and a retailer agreeing on a retail price. I support Microsoft's right to rent third rate software at exorbitant prices. If Microsoft want to reduce the price of a product for one segment of the market, their choices are to sell direct, or to form an agreement with a distributor to pass on a price reduction to customers.

Microsoft's financial support for the adverts looks questionable. If that support required a promise not to install open source office software on all PC's for free, then I could understand a fine. Unlike Vista, it is possible to buy a computer without a copy of Microsoft Office. People can choose a free product that will work for years, or to pay Microsoft so they can swear when the format of a document gets screwed up because someone is using the wrong version of MS Office.

Does anyone know what is really going on here?

Intel intros 2GHz Atom

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

New invitation to an old scam

Quote the top speed, but neglect to mention that the heat sink is not big enough to maintain that speed.

Quote the top speed, but neglect to mention that the battery life was measured at a lower speed.

I would be peeved, but all computer parts are carefully labelled to cause confusion.

Nork splash shot snapped by passing satellite

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@Camilla Smythe

Low earth orbit starts at about 160km up. Orbital velocity is about 11km per second. Even at 10g, a rocket will have to travel over 1200km to reach that speed. Rockets turn to near horizontal not long after launch.

I have reading too many register comments - at first I thought it said: "US aerospace defence commentards".

Microsoft to offer Windows 7 downgrade to XP

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Or put another way ...

Microsoft has said: "We do not give a damn what people want. They will have to pay for Windows 7, even if they have no intention of ever using it, and would prefer something cheaper instead. In fact, if they want any Microsoft operating system except Windows 7, they have to pay for the most expensive version of Windows 7 we license. This is because older Microsoft operating systems are far more valuable to customers than the new ones and we need some excuse to say people want Windows 7."

If people swallow this, "Windows 8" require twice as much hardware to run half the speed of W7, but the $1000 version will let you upgrade to XP.

BT blocks up to 40,000 child porn pages per day

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

404 message is nasty

That 404 error message is a clear statement that big ISP's and the IWF do not want people to know what is being blocked, who is doing the blocking or that any blocking is taking place at all.

It also maligns people's competence by implying they do not take the trouble to find and fix broken links.

If the page came up as "blocked by the IWF because the page contains child pornography", it would at least be honest - but still a complete waste of time and money.

Boffin: Titan moon largely made of LPG, not cheese

Flocke Kroes Silver badge


Titan's atmosphere is 98.4% nitrogen, 1.6% methane with trace quantities of a few other compounds. There is no oxygen and no strong oxidiser, so your cigarette would not stay alight there, and would not ignite any of the chemicals that would be more exciting in Earth's 20% oxygen atmosphere.

Microsoft cries netbook victory against Linux

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

MS PR Flaks need to manufacture good news

Windows installation rate on netbooks has grown from 10% [...] to 96%" does not imply "customers really DO want netbook PCs to work like their larger brethren". It means the OEM's get a discount on all Microsoft licenses if they do not ship Linux. The cost of XP is effectively negative - subsidised by Microsoft's other products. If Microsoft want to prove that the value of Windows is not negative, then why don't they let people buy blank computers and the OS of their choice separately?

"those that try Linux are often returning it" has been debunked before. Why are Microsoft's PR flaks repeating such an obvious lie?


I think the "sheer number of applications" claim for XP needs a little thought too. Sheer number of commercial applications on sale beside computers is believable. That is a hefty incentive for retailers to bad mouth Linux. For XP, you have to buy an extra license for each piece of software you want to use on a desktop and on a portable PC. With Linux, everything most people want is already installed and the sheer number of free/open source programs available for download for free shows XP/Vista are not the best supported operating systems.


DARPA: Give us solar cells you can use to build stuff

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Why don't they look at their old research?

They cancelled a promising project to develop a UAV with months of endurance in 1964.


Microsoft's latest open-source release catches a wrinkle

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Licensing guide for newbie journalists


Ms-PL also stands for Microsoft Permissive License. There are also Ms-LPL, Ms-LRL and a few others. Take care (and legal advice) to make sure that you understand exactly what the license really means before making any contribution to Microsoft's software.

As Microsoft Licenses go, the Microsoft Public License is not that bad. The most obvious limitation is you cannot distribute software that has Ms-PL and GPL code linked to together (even dynamic linking). If I had any patents, I would take more time to understand the automatic world wide royalty free patent license I would confer by distributing Ms-PL software.

The more subtle limitation involves the non-Ms-PL software required to make any use of Ms-PL software. You will probably find you need to license some non-free software in order to distribute something useful based on Microsoft's free looking software. Microsoft are undisputed world experts on technology lock-in. Take time and advice before considering playing their game.

The OSI have approved many licenses. Some are pointless repetitions of others. Some are more free than others. Some are carefully prepared legal documents that have similar meaning all over the world. Others aren't. Even so, "OSI approved license" means slightly more to a penguinista than a Microsoft marketing phrase attributed to Miguel de Icaza.

Brits build e-car friendly solar parking bay

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

While we are at it ...

Subtract the energy cost of making the cells.

Photovoltaic needs to be in a sunny part of the world and vaguely near people who want electricity to come close to being green.

UK.gov to get power to force ISPs to block child porn

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

After looking at "art" by Damien Hirst ...

... would you:

a) Go out a pickle a sheep of your own.

b) Consider pickling Damien Hirst, then remember the reasons we got rid of the death penalty.

c) Lock up Zoe Hilton before she goes out and pickles a sheep.

Moderatrix quits El Reg: Latest

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If Miss Bee leaves ...

... it will not be a complete and utter disaster. If she does not have to waste her time dealing with commentards then she may have more time to spend on something useful like this: http://www.noliberties.com/book.htm

Which desktop Linux distribution?

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Linux on old Vaxen

A quick web search says near enough: http://lwn.net/2001/0621/a/linux-vax.php3

From the boot log I can tell you that a modern cheap laptop in low power mode is about 1000x faster than the one reported here. Also, Mr Airlie compiled his own mini-distribution using cut down versions of software intended to run on embedded systems. A large amount of effort to achieve what most people would consider a pitiful return, but if you really love your Vax then go for it.

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Fragmentation is only an issue in Microsoft FUD

Quick answer for newbies: use the same distribution as a friend who offers to help you get started.

Long answer for people prepared to take time to solve problems themselves: http://www.linuxlinks.com/article/20070528093134661/Linux_Distribution_Guide.html (That will give you a small list of testing the water choices, and a wider selection of links that are useful when you decide to wade in a bit deeper).

Microsoft have half a dozen different operating systems, and the current ones are sold in half a dozen different versions. As I have not used Microsoft software this millennium, I cannot comment on how much of an issue fragmentation is to a Microsoft user. From a distance I gather that some commercial software companies make a greater effort to deal with OS fragmentation than others, but almost all of them are poor at supporting multiple architectures (even x86/AMD64).

Things are very different in the free/open source world. Almost everything is available pre-compiled for almost all distributions. You can expect excellent support for x86 and AMD64, good support for ARM and MIPS, and some support for rarer architectures (ie if you want more than a basic system, you will have to compile some software and occasionally fix it yourself).

If you are planning to use commercial software on Linux, that will limit your choice of distribution - unless you are big enough to get a company to support what you choose.

If you make the effort, any distribution can be configured to do what you want. If you pick one of the larger distributions, the chances are that someone has already done so, and put up web web page telling you how they did it. If you pick one of the commercial distro's, you can hire someone to hold your hand as they talk you through the steps.

The distro's mostly use the same software. The differences normally relate to how you install software and configure the machine to do exactly what you want. Experience in one distro will be of some help with any, and lots of help with a related distro.

LametopsLaptops Direct offers free funerals

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

April 1st Advert?

A search for 'funeral' on http://www.laptopsdirect.co.uk/ finds no results, and a quick web search shows nothing realted.

If they had commissioned this article as an advert, they could at least have put something on their site.

Florida cops taser satnav lake plunge woman

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

More lies please

If you are suspicious, start Googling phrases from the story. If the story is only on one site, suspect a joke article.

If it is on more than one site, try looking for anything that is not just copied from a press release by a bunch of lazy journalists. If there is no evidence to back the assertions, suspect stock market manipulation.

If all journalists magically become careful researchers who publish only true stories, the population will turn into a bunch of gullible twits deserving of an obvious 419 scam. The reasons why humans are smart is because the need to be alert for lying humans. You cannot simply assume someone is honest just because they are not an MP.

Cosmonaut bemoans ISS toilet row

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The dangers of irony

Back when the Russians started space tourism, the Americans were upset, so they complained that the tourists had not been properly trained in the use of the facility. Then the Americans toilet broke, and asked to used the Russian one, which is a different design. The Russians tried some irony, and said the Americans lacked proper toilet training. That was perhaps a mistake as many Americans have difficulty recognising irony. It looks like some of them still have not got the joke.

Researchers poke holes in super duper SSL

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Another attack that requires javascript

I just turn off all javascript. Most sites work tolerably without it, and the good ones work well without it. If that is too radical for you, at least turn off javascript for your bank and any other site that asks for your credit card number. If the site stops working, go to a competitor - plenty of commerce sites work fine without javascript. Remember to turn off flash while you are at it.

Microsoft: Judge us by our deeds on open source

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

It could be worse:

With the ability to spout such utter nonsense with a straight face, Youngjohns would do well in politics. He could tell us the the government are responding to popular demand by requiring mandatory ID cards for £300 each. He could tell us that for our own protection, anyone looking at a cartoon in a funny way should be locked up like a sex offender. While he was at it, he could print a few billions and hand them out to his friends to help them cope with the recession. I am serious: remember who knighted Bill?

Stallman warns open-sourcers on Javascript-browser trap

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Follow the money

Some people sell a read only disk of pre-compiled software. This is how most games are funded. Microsoft is a small part of the gaming market.

Some people get government grants to write software. They often distribute under the BSD license, which permits modification and distribution for free. The BSD license (as used by OpenSSH) ensures that the team responsible for the software get mentioned in any derived product. Teams use this to demonstrate that the tax payer's money they receive is being turned into software that benefits tax payers. There aren't that many people using this model, but the few that are turn out an impressive amount of software with excellent quality.

There are contract programming shops. The bigger ones have great fun making sure that the software agreed to be delivered does not meet the customer's needs. That way they can collect their fees for doing what was asked for, and collect another fee to extend the software to match some of the real requirements.

The vast majority of programmers work for companies that are not in the business of selling software. Outsourcing to India has cost some jobs in this area, but companies have discovered that is much easier to turn requirements into software with an in house programmer than to explain what they think they want to an Indian bean counter who passes on what he understood to a programmer. The way to make inhouse programmers cost effective is to use free/open source software to avoid re-inventing the wheel.

There is a relatively new software business model involving automated tools to obfuscate javascript to the point where it is less clear than assembly language: Create a word processor in obfuscated javascript, restrict output to a proprietary format, distribute with a license that prevents redistribution of modified versions and you can hold your customers data to ransom.

Mr Stallman has spoken up about this expensive form of technological lock-in, but appears to be wasting his time. Half the commentards on this technophile inhabited site are too dim to spot conveyer belts being built ready to ship cash from their bank accounts to Google.

Worm breeds botnet from home routers, modems

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Kernel update time

Many years ago when Windows zombies tried to brute force my machines, I wrote a small script to block access from any IP address for 10 minutes that failed 3 ssh logins in a minute. The dictionary-like attack stood no chance because my team used decent password (according to cracklib). The real purpose of the script was to reduce the amount of wasted bandwidth.

These days, there are kernel modules to make the script superfluous. I am surprised modern routers do not use them.

It would be nice if I could send an IP address to my ISP, and have it blocked there.

Asus Eee PC 1000HE netbook

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Extra benchmark please

Daylight readable screen test please. In a good summer, we do get a dozen bright sunny days in the UK. If the office has air conditioning at all, it is broken during those days. Wouldn't it be nice to take your work outside into the fresh air? First unplug the power and watch the screen go dim; then go outside and try to make out anything on the screen at all. Until we get some reviews that say "totally useless on a summer day" backlights are just going to get dimmer.

I will match Albert's £200, and raise a Pixel Qi LCD panel and a non-Atom CPU: Via Nano for performance or ARM/MIPS for price/battery life. Atom is bad enough, but Atom+945GME is just downright silly - low power slow CPU plus ancient slow power hog chipset.

If Asus want to bundle XP, then I want real evidence that Microsoft are paying them to take it away. By now, Microsoft must be desperate enough to hide Linux that the price of XP is negative.

Astroboffins probe mysterious 'blazar'

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If you want to find nearby super massive black holes try looking in the middle of some large galaxies. As large black holes are not that hot, they cannot be detected directly. On the other hand, the period and radius of an orbit indicate the mass of the object in the centre. Given a fast enough orbit and a small enough radius, a super massive black hole is the only proposed object that would fit.


Hong Kong supplier punts Mac-alike netbook

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Should have used a penguin

I have been looking for a Via Nano laptop. A pity some berk put an i-logo on it.

A web search for WF188 just shows an ARM based pda/phone. That would have been interesting too if it were not infected with wince.

Ex-Star Wars boffins build mosquito-blasting raygun

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Mosquito's successor

Mosquito larvae eat algae and bacteria from the surface of stagnant water. I doubt that wiping out mosquitoes will cause an increase in human deaths from roaming packs of killer algae.

Bats and purple martins like to eat mosquitoes, but have other things to eat. Plenty of fish and some mosquitoes go for the larvae. Dragonflies eat mosquitoes and larvae - enough to make a big dent in mosquito populations (preventing stagnant water works too).

The most obvious predator to proliferate in the absence of mosquitoes is humans, but their numbers are on the increase despite the best efforts of blood sucking insects and politicians.

So, what's the f**king difference between a Netbook and an ultrathin?

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Forget 'Netbook'. 'Small CHEAP Computer' please

Most of these netbooks are more expensive and slower than my old laptop. The cost of equivalent computers is supposed to fall with time. Taking out the DVD and shrinking the screen and using only half a CPU should reduce the price.

I am sure the term 'Netbook' was coined because distributors did not like the word 'cheap' in the title. They wanted to include £300+ computers in the same category as the ones that were selling like there was no recession.

Channel 4 fails to open archives to Mac, Linux fans

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Why do they have to make their own software?

There are plenty of free video players around. The porn shops don't insist I wait for them to develop their own players. Even Google/youtube do not insist that I use flash.

Get a clue BBC/CH4/...: stick to making and broadcasting content and leave the custom software disasters to the NHS.

Linux-Lego man trumpets OSH revolution

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Microfabs please

Hardware details are not kept secret to protect IP. They are kept secret to make it more difficult for patent trolls to attack. Sometimes they are kept secret to avoid publicising a bug with a performance trashing work around. Some (many?) of the hardware patents are just as obvious and non-novel as software patents and serve a similar purpose - to keep new entrants to the chip design market in their place.

There is source code for hardware. The most obvious hardware description languages are Verilog and VHDL. Sounds like a good reason for hardware to get the same patent exemption benefits that software is fighting to keep.

Victor already mentioned opensparc. I will add opencores and opengraphics. There are plenty more.

The big problem with open hardware at the moment is economies of scale. It is often cheaper to glue a few massed produced proprietary chips together than to make a small batch of chips using open source cells that exactly match your requirements. If people could buy a small scale 50nm FAB for a few thousands open hardware would take a huge leap forward. If someone has evidence that microfabs are on the way then predictions of open hardware taking off might mean something.

Tata to release UK's first 'serious' electric car

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

@Elmer Phud

Electricity is massively cheaper than supertaxed petrol. The real cost of an electric car is replacing that battery after about 500 charge cycles. I did the math for a GWiz and decided electricity+battery was slightly less than petrol at the moment. Barrels of oil might get cheaper, but I cannot see the price of petrol falling. If world+dog buys electric cars, electricity will get more expensive until we get a pile of nukes and a grid big enough to handle the extra current. Guess yourself whether a huge increases in demand for lithium will be matched by increases in supply.

Feds file new felonies against alleged Palin hacker

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

unauthorized access of a protected computer?

If I set up root with an ssh password of wordpass, when I get pwned, can I still claim the computer was protected?

Vista to XP 'downgrade' lawsuit revised

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Could be worse

Imagine if you press the "no Internet Explorer" and "no Microsoft media player" in Windows 7 but do not get an automatic refund for software you never wanted.

It is time new computers were shipped only with free software - that can be a trial version of Microsoft's latest if OEMS want. Then any customer who wants to throw their money down the toilet can pay Microsoft for whatever licenses are available and the rest of us do not have to fund a convicted monopoly abuser when we want to use better software.

Did TomTom test Microsoft's Linux patent lock-down?

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

FAT, ext2/3 and patents

@Matthew Joyce

The implementation of FAT in the kernel is GPL. TomTom could create a new implementation under a different license and distribute it as a closed source kernel module. There is little point in doing this as Microsoft would still demand royalties for unenforcible invalid patents.

@facts and fairytales

1. Big difference between wilful and accident infringement.

2. Software patents can be purchased almost anywhere. In the US, software patents were seriously defanged in Re Bilski. In the EU, you have to call 'software patents' 'computer implemented inventions' or they will be rejected. Judges have caught on that a 'computer implemented invention' is a software patent, and should never have been granted. Even if there was not prior art, the FAT patent would unenforcible everywhere (except perhaps Australia).

3. IP is not legal term. There are patents, trademarks and copyright. The term IP is used by people who do not know any better and those deliberately trying to misapply the reasoning behind laws for physical property to patents, trademarks and copyright. If you have a point here at all, be very specific: what patent, what date, and against whom?

4. The GPL has always given you a choice: Cathedral or Bazaar. The only new thing here is that Bazaar is now popular enough to hit Microsoft's profits hard.

@Charles Smith, @Remy Redert

The patent is about long file name support that is compatible with a previous file-system that was limited to short names. There is still prior art. Not a problem to ext2/3/4.


SCO only achieved one thing beyond their own destruction: They demonstrated that caving in to nuisance litigation is more expensive than standing up to empty threats. Also: pay of one troll and you will get whole horde of them at your door tomorrow.

@Hugh McIntyre

> The point is that the justification for the patent system is to make sure the inventor can get "fair payment" for their invention and/or R&D.

The patent system fails to reward inventors. If you invent something, manufacturers can wait twenty years to use your idea for free (popular tactic for the car industry). Manufacturers can use your idea and be confident that you cannot afford to defend your patent - it is really expensive to defend a patent, and all the time you are trying, the manufacturer has a revenue stream from your idea which he can use to delay the litigation.

The most effective way to profit from an idea is to sell your own product. You get at least one and often two years before competitors get something to market. During that time you have a revenue stream for researching a second generation product, so you can repeat the cycle before a patent can even be granted.

There are ways to profit from patents: You can lie about the existence of a patent and get it included in a standard (Remember Rambus and JEDEC?). You can patent other peoples ideas. If any of them turn out to be profitable, you can the sue whoever did all the work to change an idea into a revenue stream. If you are part of a cartel of companies with cross licensed patents for a communications product, you can prevent new entrants into the market by updating the protocols to use new patents whenever old patents expire.

And as for drug companies: the patent system ensures that poor countries that cannot afford patented drugs and become sources of infection for people in rich countries. It would be far more sensible to reward drug research directly than to bump up the global price of medicine.

Out of all the thousands of patents filed in the last year, can you name a single one that should have been granted, earned money for the true inventor, was not submarined into a standard and will not sicken thousands of people in the third world?

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Patents, Clause 7, and alternatives to FAT

@Hugh McIntyre

Patents were created to increase the rate of technical progress by providing incentives for inventors to describe there inventions to others. Modern patents can only be read by patent lawyers - partly because they are written in patent jargon - but mostly because of the damages for willful infringement. If an inventor reads a patent (fails to understand it) and infringes it, she is liable triple the damages she would have to pay for infringing without reading it.

The world would be a better place if the entire patent system was abandonned. Patents on CODECs are particularly nasty. Many CODECs have features chosen to infringe as many patents as possible - even at the expense of making the CODEC less efficient. The purpose of this is to create a cartel of companies who have cross licensed that can prevent any new player from entering the business.

GPL/BSD License

For all those newbies thinking clause 7 is an own goal, it was chosen explicitly to prevent a problem. Some people distribute software under variants of the BSD license. These people often choose that license because it gives them evidence that the educational grant (tax payer's) money they received is being turned into software that has commercial value (tax revenue). Good for them, but the rest of us do not have that revenue stream.

Programmers pick GPL so that their software cannot suffer the familiar embrace, extend, extinguish cycle. BSD software can be incorporated into closed source products. Extensions can be added so that file formats and network protocols become incompatible. Victims of the closed source software are then locked in because they cannot move their data back to competitive software products. The GPL requires Microsoft to either make their own complete implementation, or to make the source code for extensions available to all.

The fact that Microsoft cannot get a free ride from GPL software drives them batty. Hence the old GPL is unamerican/unconstitution/comunist/... rants. The new plan is to make loud threats with unenforcible patents in the hope of getting people to switch from GPL to BSD licenses (SCO version 2?). No-one with a clue takes them seriously.


Alternatives to FAT:

The only reason why TomTom, digital cameras and so forth used FAT was to make life easier for Microsoft's users. Some kind person has written an ext2 filesystem driver for Windows (http://www.fs-driver.org/) so Windows users will not be left completely in the cold. If necessary, Linux devices can pretend to include a CDROM and CD containing Ext2fs.sys or a webserver, so Microsoft users can install Ext2fs.sys from a Linux device before Ext2fs.sys is installed.

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Bilski, GPL v2 or v3 and patents

In the US, the threat of software patents was crushed in re Bilski: http://www.fsf.org/news/esp-bilski

GPL V3 was written with software patents in mind. The Linux kernel is mostly licensed GPL V2, which has a clause that anticipated disasters like software patents, but was not explicitly designed for them. Ask your lawyers for opinions - they probably will not all agree with each other.

Assuming GPL V2 is strong enough to deal will patents, it does not prevent returning modified source code to the community. It prevents binary distribution of a kernel that includes material covered by patents that are not licensed for use by everyone.

If somehow the FAT patent is found to be valid TomTom must choose between buying a license for FAT that applies to everyone, removing FAT from any kernel they distribute or stop distributing Linux in their devices.

In reality, this is just nuisance litigation, and it is not well tollerated outside Texas. The fact that other have cross-licensed only indicates that they decided that was easier than disputing the validity of patenting FAT. It does not mean that any of Microsoft's patents are actually enforcible.

Vatican vetos 'dot god' domain

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

.xxx again

Some governments wanted .xxx for ease of censorship.

Porn dealers did not want xxx because of ease of censorship.

The Family Research Council put a stop to xxx because they "think of the children".


Come on FRC: Think of the children. Get your members to write in and demand religious TLD's. That way, religious leaders can waste time and money arguing over who controls .god and the rest of us can censor the lot of them.

(Where is the iGod - an overpriced easy to use fashion accessory that allows you to receive godcasts?)

Stargazers spy elusive binary black hole system

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

@Frank: Why an accretion disc?

Black holes spin, and the spin affects things outside the black hole by the Lense-Thirring effect. The Lense-Thirring effect works near any rotating mass, and was measured by Gravity Probe B.




Bootleggers jump on 'complete' Windows 7

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

How much does bootleg XP sell for?

I just wondered: When Microsoft users have a choice, which do they prefer?

Boffins: Send robot lawn tractors to the Moon

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Just bury the moon base in regolith

The moonbase will need radiation shielding anyway, so landers throwing more regolith onto it are doing something useful. You might want to time landings to when the solar panels are pointing away from the landing field because they might not work so well after a thorough sandblasting.

(We are already at least a decade behind schedule with the moon - not a single nuclear reactor. There should have been enough to blast the moon out of its orbit ten years ago ;-)

Microsoft sues GPS maker TomTom

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Are any Microsoft patents valid?

In May 2007, Microsoft claimed that Linux violated 235 of their patents. The response from the Linux community was "Tell us which ones". Microsoft has yet to reply.

The most obvious reason for this is that all these patents should never have been granted. If Microsoft tries to push it, the Linux community will invalidate every single one. Microsoft would prefer to keep these bogus patents untested so they can still use them as an empty threat. A few medium sized companies will knuckle under out of ignorance. The smaller ones aren't worth chasing and the big ones can fight back.

If Microsoft had an enforcible patent on FAT, digital cameras would switch to a different filesystem: there are dozens of open source ones available off the shelf. Some of them are explicitly designed for flash. Microsoft are not keen on that happening because FAT would promptly die out, and there would be no-one left to threaten.

Microsoft woos open sourcers with Visual Studio 2010

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

It is not a matter of animosity

The first barrier to entry is I do not use an IDE. Point and click makes sense for drawing pictures and a few other tasks. Programming is mostly typing, so moving a hand all the way to the mouse and then back to the keyboard is time consuming compared to simply typing the name of the command I want. Without a large collection of flexible command line tools, I would at some point die the death of a thousand mouseclicks.

The next barrier is lack of confidence in their code. I ran into serious problems with every commercial compiler I used until I switched to gcc. There are documented bugs in gcc, but so far they have been so obscure that I have not encountered them personally. The impression I get from Microsoft is that if dozens of people report a bug in their software, the bug will not be documented for months. Plenty of people will have to track down the problem themselves the hard way instead of just doing a quick web search.

The problem with using any tool to create software is that everyone else who wants to modify the software needs that tool. Using anything but free open source software creates a barrier to entry that excludes people from contributing to my projects. It also creates a lock-in: I would become dependant on Microsoft to maintain existing projects.

Free open source tools can create code for Linux, BSD, Mac, Windows and embedded systems. I do not have confidence that Microsoft has or will maintain support for any target but the current version of Windows.

The only legal problems with licensing are of Microsoft's own choosing. They wrote the code, so they get to pick the license. If they pick a license that prevents me from fixing bugs in their software and distributing the results for free then I have no interest in their product.

Comet Lulin poses for NASA's Swift

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Popular units of time

Olympic swimming pools and Bulgarian airbags are everyday objects that anyone can get a feel for, but what are these minutes you talk about? Surely the comet ejects enough water to fill a swimming pool in 5 CD tracks. This is equivalent to 7 swimming pools per DVD.

BTW: I think you will find the easy way to find the comet is to look behind the cloud.

Blu-ray Disc sales to hit 100m by Xmas

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Given the population of EU+US+JP ...

... on average people are going to buy under 0.1 blue ray discs this year.

Sounds about right to me.

New in-the-wild attack targets fully-patched Adobe Reader

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

There are other PDF readers

I have been using xpdf and kghostview for years - in part because of Adobe's history of security problems, but mostly because the open source alternatives had more useful features. I recently switched to kpdf because it is even better than the other two. All of these are Unix programs, but a quick search for "PDF reader windows" shows that windows users have a choice.

Perhaps its is time to change "PDF warning" to "Adobe warning" next to links to PDF files like people now say "Windows virus" instead of "PC virus".

Hacker pokes new hole in secure sockets layer

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Wrong title

Try one of these:

"Many webmasters still configuring SSL badly"

"Many users still do not check the target URL for 'https'"

"Hacker cannot defeat SSL, so attacks badly designed websites"

Why not try another security scare that has been around for years:

"If you still have javascript enabled, the target URL in the status bar cannot be trusted"

"Web browsers do not always handle unicode securely"

"Web journalist uses factually incorrect alarming title to get a few extra hits"

'Lenny': Debian for the masses?

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

@william henderson

If some unpaid volunteer was sharp with you on a support forum, either read http://catb.org/~esr/faqs/smart-questions.html or buy support for one of the commercial distros. You can always pay Microsoft $100 to report a bug. They like to get $100 from many users for the same bug, and perhaps they might fix it next year.

"if Linux is so good and so free and easy to use why isn't it a distro on all new PCs?"

Distributors like to sell antivirus software. If they do not get that sale, they like to sell an adware cleanout service. Most people do not need to buy extra software to do what they want with Linux. If you talk to a PC World employee, they will parrot last year's FUD about Linux so their employer can shift some high margin crapware. OEM's have said that Microsoft will not allow them to ship Linux. They certainly get discounts for being Microsoft only shops. They have started using Linux as a stick to beat down Microsoft's prices. They are not that enthusiastic about Linux because it does not require an expensive 140W CPU and two graphics cards to send an email.

Imagine a world without Linux: Home users would be spending £200/year for a DOS/95/ME derivative, businesses would be spending £500 per seatyear for Vista and XP would be dead. There would be no netbooks. Routers would cost the earth, and home users would have to pay extra for software to share their internet connection among multiple computers. Satnavs would need the latest Pentium, a large battery, a noisy fan and would only be useful for 30 minute journeys. There would be separate internets for Windows and Mac users. Google and wikipedia would be replaced by Microsoft Live and Encarta. PVR's would only record what the TV networks want you to record, would delete it within 7 days, and adverts would be mandatory - not even a mute button.

The truth is, Microsoft users are completely dependent on Linux. Get back in yer closet.

Samsung NC10 netbook

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

@Danny from Mars

Can't Microsoft just keep away from ONE laptop? This is about the hardware, so it isn't the place for your pre-installed OS. We really don't give a flying f*** about your pricy OS, stop trying to shove it down peoples throats. If it really is all that good, why does it need people like you hijacking every laptop from every manufacturer and forcing people to buy Windows? Your personal preference is not necessarily the same as someone else's.

Brits find accommodation a little uncomfortable

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Litteral pronounciation

Simplifying spelling would involve rewriting all books and making old books somewhat inaccessible to future readers. On the other hand, pronouncing words as they are spelt is cheap. Hands up everyone who is prepared to sound like a twit so children will not have to waste so much time learn how to spell.

Software body slams uk.gov's 'special treatment' of music biz

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

How to lose more than there is

The 'losses' claimed by the music industry are larger than the UK population's disposable income. Although there are some freetards, illegal file sharing is used by honest people for a try before they buy. Take away the opportunity to try out unknown music, and the industry will lose sales. If the music industry wants to shoot themselves in the foot, then they are welcome as long as they do not bill me (even indirectly) for the privilege. On the other hand, they could deal a death blow to commercial copying and increase revenues by dropping their prices.

Silverlight for Linux hits with Microsoft punch

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Linux users are not the BBC

The BBC might pay a million dollars per user for some codecs, but Linux users have theora, vorbis and speex already. These codecs were built on prior art, so they are explicitly legal and do not require Microsoft to keep to the spirit of some vague non-binding promises about remaining open. In twenty years, when the patents have expired, silver/moon light might have some real legal clout for Linux users.

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