* Posts by Flocke Kroes

2646 posts • joined 19 Oct 2007

Windows 7 'upgrade' doesn't mark XP spot

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

@Steve (backlight too dim when using batteries)

Probably a BIOS feature - it allows manufacturers to claim a long battery life at the expense of making a laptop completely unusable outside on a sunny day. Try entering the BIOS and removing the power. If the backlight dims, it cannot be a Microsoft bug. There might be a BIOS setting to disable this irritation.

Why jump from XP to Windows 7 when you can leap straight to a current implementation of Windows 8. (Windows 8 will be the other name for Microsoft Linux).

Yes! It's the cardboard PC!

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

RF interference

Computers live in metal boxes to prevent radio waves from getting out and messing up your (neighbour's) TV. Unless the box is lined with foil and the edges carefully sealed, someone is going to find out about EMC laws the expensive way.

Geekerati brace for Unix timestamp milestone

Flocke Kroes Silver badge


C compilers will not need to be modified. The time function is part of the C library, not the compiler.

The time function in the C library returns a time_t. Archaic C libraries often implemented time_t as a signed 32 bit integer. Modern ones use something bigger. Competent C programmers do not make dangerous assumptions about the implemention of time_t, so their source code can work with ancient, modern and future C libraries.

BIOSes do not need to be recompiled. The BIOS works in hours, minutes and seconds (or ticks since midnight). 2^31 seconds since the epoch means nothing to the BIOS.

Tazzari specs up UK-friendly electric runabout

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Missed out the important numbers

How many charge cycles will the battery survive, and how much will a new battery cost? Electricity is cheaper than petrol (because of petrol tax), but a replacement battery puts the running costs vaguely level again.

I would not bet on these cars having any boot space at all. To fit a child behind the seats I think you will need a large liquidizer.

Microsoft SKUs Windows 7 clarity

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Microsoft doing what they do best

Apple users will pay money to avoid having to make a decision - hence one version.

Linux users get to pick whatever they want, and can expect it to run for ever without having to buy upgrades. They are peeved because retailers insist they buy a throw-away Microsoft license.

Microsoft users have to decide how locked in they are, and pick the version that runs their legacy software (eg Window 7 Super-pricey with bundled XP).

Microsoft own the copyright to their operating system. They get to distribute it in as many flavours as they choose. If this annoys you, you can accept it or switch to something else. Moaning is not going to help you (although I am sure MS will offer a $50/minute phone line so you can moan at them and they can ignore you and do exactly the same thing with Windows 8).

(PS dyslexia: skus -> suks & read the url :-)

Netbooks: A bit popular

Flocke Kroes Silver badge


If they were called laptops customers would complain that the CPU's do not go at full speed. (Laps restrict the cooling vents.)

I have always considered the Atom as a reason to delay buying a netbook. I would prefer an ARM or MIPS CPU, but if I had to go X86, Via's Nano is a better choice than Atom.

Wrong kind of winter brings England to a halt

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

North/South boundary

Go round the M25 and you will see a huge sign: "M1, Watford and the North".

Encryption standards are here - but not for flash or tape

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Better way to brick your hard disk

Linux can already encrypt a hard disk. The data going to and from the disk is encrypted too. Partitions can be encrypted separately. Swap partitions can use random keys so you do not need to do a mil-spec wipe on shutdown. Partitions used by several people can have a password per user to avoid the need for a shared password.

Using a password stored in the mainboard means you disk can get bricked by mainboard failure, BIOS update and walware that modifies the BIOS (that has been done before). After all the 'secure' wifi standards and bios backdoor passwords I have no confidence in any encryption without the source code and the right to create, distribute and use variations of it.

The trusted computing chip can work for or against you. Trusted means something that can betray you. If you store you secret keys on the chip, and the chip does not betray you, then changes in the boot sequence should make your keys inaccessible. On the other hand, such a chip can be used to brick the hardware if you try to change the operating system on your own computer. If your server has to boot up unattended, then a trusted computing module is a tolerable place to keep its secret key. If reboots can wait until you are available, then you do not need to trust someone else's chip.

The BIOS has been getting steadily more complicated over the years. The sooner it gets replaced by something open the better. Coreboot looks excellent, but getting a supported mainboard is a pain.

Memo to Microsoft: Enough with the SKUed Windows

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Lots of SKU's

Microsoft have customers with different needs. If those needs involve running legacy software designed for Windows, then Microsoft can make them pay through the nose. If a customer only needs Firefox, then Microsoft needs a cheap option to prevent users getting accustomed to Linux. Microsoft have skill at dividing customers by needs, and charging what they can get away with.

Apple has chosen a market segment that will pay money for something that gets the job done without having to learn about options. Apple customers may be paying for features that they do not need, but in the opinion of those customers, it is worth the money to avoid wasting time making a choice.

Each business model appears to work as both companies understand their customers.

Microsoft's Automatic Update - the way to browser competition?

Flocke Kroes Silver badge


Most Linux distributions give you a choice of Firefox/Iceweasel, Konqueror, lynx, w3m and others. You can make any program the default browser. In windows, selecting your own choice of browser exclusively is beyond the ability of most users.

Microsoft are accused of breaking the law in a way that puts Opera at a disadvantage. The courts may well impose a judgement on Microsoft with the stated aim of reducing the effect of that alleged illegal activity. This has nothing to do with what would really benefit users.

The competition laws do have a useful purpose - to prevent a company with a near monopoly in one field using that monopoly to gain monopolies in other fields. If such behaviour is accepted, companies become more powerful than governments. It would be nice to think that governments are protecting their electors from a state run by unelected coporate executives. Someone cynical might think they are just maintaining their own monopoly on the power to collect taxes.

If ordinary users get anything of value from this dispute I will be shocked. Even if an interesting judgement is selected, Microsoft have demonstrated their ability to pull the teeth from any serious judgement against them.

EC will force users to pick a Windows browser, says Microsoft

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Money back?

If someone chooses not IE, will they get a proportion of their money back? I seriously doubt it. Even if the law required it, Microsoft would make it more hassle than it is worth.

The real solution is to do it the other way around: OEM's should be forbidden from paying Microsoft. If they want to install windows, it should be a free demo version only. Customers who want Windows could then pay Microsoft directly to get an upgrade.

Airbus A380 bows out of Air Force One competition

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

How about Obama's shoes?

Is there a contract to supply infantry 1R and 1L?

Microsoft boasts 'out of box' IE8 clickjack protection

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

This problem was solved years ago

Use Lynx: http://lynx.isc.org/lynx2.8.5/index.html

Lynx is also immune to all flash and javascript based attacks.

Study slams brain-training games' mental improvement claims

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Minimum brain age of 20

Apparently brain exercise games sell on the myth that peoples' brains start rotting at age 20, and by 35 they are too stupid to be worth employing.

Google and the Great Wikipedia Feedback Loop

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@Robert Long

I think you will find wikipedians can spell Russian names:


There is more here:


Looks like comments on the Register are not corrected as well as wikipedia pages.

I have a degree in theoretical physics, so I know most of the page is correct. I have read plenty of Nature and Scientific American, so I am familiar with much of the rest. The page goes beyond my knowledge, and cites reference books that my library could find for me if I wanted to check further. Some people really cared about getting this page correct. So far, all the physics and maths pages I have read on Wikipedia have been excellent.

Thames windfarm execs: We need more subsidy

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

The numbers are at http://www.withouthotair.com/

The book can be downloaded for free. It was written by Professor MacKay from Cambridge university. It presents figures for calculating the cost energy supply based on your own mix of wind, geothermal, wave and nuclear power plants. The proper numbers are there for rocket scientists, as are clear explanations for anyone with enough brains to use a calculator.

Rave and rant all you like, but if you do not include the numbers and where you found them then you are just another commentard spewing twat-o-tron fodder.

C dominated 2008's open-source project nursery

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Graph for 2001 to 2006


Do not compare black duck's figures to directly to this graph - black duck counts projects multiple times if they use more than one language, so the total for all languages is over 100% at black duck, but only 100% at Berkeley. Javascript and Perl show the most obvious discrepancy. Perhaps many projects use a little Javascript or Perl, but are prodominantly in some other language.

Intel Atom heir in rumor mill upgrade

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Intel trying to compete with Via

Via's integrated northbridge/IGP/CPU (Luke) has been out a while (search for ITX UK if you want to buy one). There is a choice of mini-ITX mainboards with Nano (Via's alternative to Atom), but I have yet to see a laptop with one (there are rumours that HP will sell one). This is a pain because a Nano based computer gets similar bench mark scores to Atom and uses far less power than Atom's power hog north bridge.

Last year a mini-ITX case cost more than a mini-ITX mainboard + CPU + heatsink + memory + PSU. Now that cases are a reasonable price, I can put together a good SILENT mini-ITX machine for less than the price of a cheap Intel/AMD ATX box.

Cheap mass market CPU's get the R&D funding to beat expensive server CPU's. That is how x86 wiped out technically better (but more expensive) competitors and how Itanium got where it is today. I can see why Intel wants to compete with Via, and why AMD want to stay clear until the other two have have a long mutually destructive price war.

I have always like AMD - they kept the price of Intel CPU's down. By the time AMD is ready to produce a small cheap X86+IGP, ARM and MIPS will own the market.

Govt uses Obscenity Law to stuff up cartoon sex loophole

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Do not flame here ...

... respond to the consultation. You have until 2007-07-22. Oops - too late.

Where has all the bad storage gone?

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Another vote for rsync

Been using it for years.

Microsoft sharpens axe as PC sales drop?

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

What are they worried about?

They can simply triple the price of XP again. The beauty of lock-in is that their users are addicted and will pay any price when supply is short.

Prolific worm infects 3.5m Windows PCs

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@Andy ORourke

If the 80% of computers were split between Ubuntu, OpenSUSE, Fedora, Debian, Mandriva, Linux Mint, PCLinuxOS, Slackware, Gentoo, CentOS, and the other linux distros, malware authors would still get the most potential zombies by targeting XP. ARM and MIPS CPU's can make excellent small cheap computers. Add these variations and malware authors have even more work to do. Gentoo is typically compiled for the specific variation of the CPU, so that is a collection of separate targets by itself (for anything but open source malware ;-).

Microsoft have attempted to mitigate some of their worst security design flaws before. They have had to revert security fixes to maintain compatibility. Unix started out as a multi user operating system, so it needed a good security model from the beginning. This makes it far easier for Linux programmers to maintain security than for Microsoft programmers to bolt on security.

US nuke boffins: Multicore CPU gains stop at eight

Flocke Kroes Silver badge


DRAM is contains one capacitor per bit. The capacitors have to be big enough to hold enough charge to avoid a stray electron from changing the value of the bit. This is normally done by cutting trenches in the chip to provide extra surface area. It is possible to have trenches only in a DRAM portion of the chip. As far as I know, Intel and AMD have not done this but some ASIC manufacturers have. It is also possible to use unusual materials to get enough capacitance without a trench. Again, this is done by some ASIC manufacturers but not by AMD and Intel (as far as I know).

Intel and AMD could sell combined CPU/DRAM modules similar to the CPU/SRAM slot 1 / slot A devices from last decade. It takes a significant amount of power to send fast memory signals through a socket, across a PCB to another socket, along the DIMM to a memory chip and back. Putting the DRAM and CPU into a module would decrease the power and increase the speed at the cost of making it awkward to upgrade the memory.

ASIC manufacturers can put an ARM or MIPS CPU onto the same chip as some DRAM. The process is more expensive and the capacities are not as high as a dedicated DRAM chip. On the other hand, the bus width can be much wider and latency can be lower.

The Cell CPU, IBM's power CPU and several games consoles already use embedded DRAM for cache and 3D rendering. AMD is moving towards being a FABless chip designer. This might make it easier for them to catch up with the non-x86 crowd than Intel.

Experts trumpet '25 most dangerous' programming errors

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

It took -20 years to come up with a list like this


NASA deploys huge clingfilm strato-pumpkin over Antarctic

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Zylon is the trade name for poly(p-phenylene-2,6-benzobisoxazole). It is stronger than Kevlar, but you would not want to smoke it.

Ballmer talks 'post-PC' Microsoft with Windows 7 beta

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Windows center of the solar system?

So it is expensive to get to and intense radiation will quickly kill you. I am happy for windows to stay there.

Send old Shuttles to Mars, says Scotty ashes prang man

Flocke Kroes Silver badge


Extra fuel on Earth is not the same as extra fuel in orbit.

A normal space shuttle launch uses two 590T booster rockets, and a 762T external fuel tank to supply the shuttle's three main engines (3.2T each). This will lift a 109T shuttle into low earth orbit.

An extra fuel tank, two boosters and three main engines buy you an extra 100T of payload (a bit less really, because you need something to hold the extra bits in place).

If you want to take a space shuttle and a full external fuel tank to low earth orbit, you would need a stack of one space shuttle, 10 external fuel tanks, 18 booster rockets and 24 extra main engines.

The crawler-transporter would not be able to move your stack to the launch pad and the shuttle's orbital maneuvering system would be severely under powered. The external fuel tanks are designed for use inside the atmosphere. I doubt that one would survive the entire journey to earth orbit.

Intel accused of stealing chip virtualization, violating God's law

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Just another bored prisoner

Prisoners have some legal resources intended to help the falsely convicted get an appeal. Some prisoners choose to waste those resources on vanity law suits. Mr Young knows beyond all possible doubt that the accusations are bogus. He is doing this for his own entertainment.

Well done Mr Metz, you have just given this twerp free publicity and a huge ego boost. Next time you see wild accusations from a bored prisoner, please file them in the bin where they belong.

Indulge your fecal fantasies with a doll that craps

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

@Young pregnancy

There is a record of five year-old Lina Medina giving birth, but most of the facts are different. Lina is from Peru. Lina's father was arrested on suspicion of incest, but was released because of lack of evidence. As Lina's periods started at age 1, her father would have known of a risk of pregnancy. Lina's son was raised as her brother. A quick web search shows no evidence of a daughter born to a five year old from the Philippines.


MSI mobo ditches Bios for EFI

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Better solution already available for some motherboards

Anything hidden in the BIOS cannot be changed remotely, and means I have to suffer from crappy vendor support that disappears completely when they decide I have to upgrade. This EFI enables vendors to extend the same problems to add-in cards while limiting my choice of add-in cards.

I only buy motherboards that are compatible with coreboot: http://www.coreboot.org/

This solves vendor problems too because they do not have to code new drivers for third party kit if the card already has an open source driver.

Windfarm lobby bows to ASA and cuts CO2 saving figures

Flocke Kroes Silver badge


I do not have that much against wind energy itself, but I do take issue with the wind lobby's figures - especially when they try to push wind in place of other technologies.

The first bogus figure is average wind speed. The met office quote speeds for the top of a pole in the middle of a field. This figure is then used for a windmill on the roof of a house in the middle of a town where the wind speed in considerably lower. As a result, roof-top windmills rarely get up to their minimum generating speed, and the never repay the energy needed to construct them. A future generation of roof-top windmills designed for lower wind speeds might do something useful, but do not bet on it.

The next figure that gets missed out it maintenance costs. A cheep windmill will take expensive storm damage before it can pay for itself. A more expensive windmill will survive bigger storms, but will have a bigger chance of facing a damaging storm in the longer period before it pays off.

The next two figures that get mixed up are electricity use and energy use. Energy also includes transport and agriculture. Transport is large compared to electricity at the moment (electric cars will change that). I have not seen good figures on the energy required to grow crops (treat bio-fuel lobby figures with more scepticism than wind lobby figures). Typical hype mentions energy use then goes on to say windmill will provide X% of our electricity on the assumption that most people will not spot the spin.

One of the really nasty figures is a proposed subsidy. The price of a windmill is selected so a convincing argument can be made for it paying for itself in 10 years (using all the bogus figures a manufacturer can come up with). A subsidy would simply increase the price.

There are some good places to build windmills. When backed by pumped storage, they can make a positive contribution energy supply. A massive collection of windmill projects, built in all the best places backed by new pumped storage facilities in all the best places could provide a noticeable proportion of our current electricity demand. There is no way will wind ever make a major contribution to the total energy demand.

Tesla takes Top Gear test to task

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

@Rob Beard

If you think lithium batteries are dangerous, just look at what can be achieved with a bottle of petrol - let alone a whole tank. Hydrogen can be even more exciting as most people are not familiar with the required handling precautions.

(The best way to power electric vehicles is with overhead wires ;-)

To beat Google, Microsoft will become Google

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

If they are really going to google ...

... they will make their own Linux distribution for in house use (if they haven't got one already). Microsoft Linux is approaching faster than I expected.

Germany tests tadpole airship

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You would need lots to fuel to supply the energy needed to crack H2O and make hydrogen fuel. It would be simpler to just use a perpetual motion machine.

World's first 'thought images' seen on screen

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Smell the money

From the vague article, this is my guess at what the experiment was like, but modified for use on Register readers:

First wire up a Register reader. Have a computer show them the following pictures repeatedly in a random order: The Register logo, Tux, Apple's logo, Microsoft's Logo, an Intel Inside sticker and the Paris thumbnail. Wait until each image gives a consistent response. Get a second computer to display a guess of the image that the first computer is showing from the name of the Register reader and the electrode output.

The next step is to vague up a description of the experiment until journalists will misinterpret it as reading images from inside brains. Use the resulting confusion to get investment from Jacqui Smith and all the other confused thought-police wannabes.

For those of you who do not read Japanese, this will give you a clue about where I am coming from. The longest word for neuron that I found was shinkeisaibou, which is written 神経細胞 (if you have a kanji font installed). Each of the four letters has several meanings, and each letter is made of meaningful components.

神 shin: gods; mind; soul. Left component: salute; bow; ceremony; thanks; remuneration. Right component: have the honor to; sign of the monkey; 3-5PM; ninth sign of Chinese zodiac.

経 kei: sutra; longitude; pass thru; expire; warp. Left component: thread. Top right: or; again; furthermore; on the other hand. Bottom right: soil; earth; ground; Turkey.

細 sai: dainty; get thin; taper; slender; narrow. Left component: thread. Right component: rice field.

胞 hou: placenta; sac; sheath. Left component: moon. Right component:wrap; pack up; cover; conceal.

These letters are going to cause different responses all over the brain unrelated to the shape of the letter just like the logos will cause a conditioned response in a prejudiced fanboy/Register reader.

HP puts Linux on business PCs

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

There are good reasons why HP charges $150 extra for Linux

A linux machine comes with piles of useful software. If they sold you Vista, they would make an extra $150 on the software you would need to make it do something useful.

A linux machine runs fine on minimal hardware. If they sold you a machine that is still fast despite Vista, they would make an extra $150 on the CPU, memory, graphics card, power supply and noisy fans.

A linux machine lasts for years. If they sold you Vista, they could expect to sell you a new machine next year when this one is choked up with adware.

Linux machines cause less hassle for IT staff. You will make that $150 back ten times over in the useful life of the machine.

I am surprised they only charge an extra $150. After all, Dell charges an extra $150 for XP compared to Vista.

In-the-wild attacks find hole in (fully-patched) IE 7

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Switch to Lynx ...

... the browser that is immune to all possible javascript based malware.

Entire class fails IT exam by submitting in Word format

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

.doc appearance depends on the currently selected printer driver

Every piece of technical documentation for electronic components that I have ever seen has been supplied in PDF. The electronics industry simply does not tolerate the hassle that Microsoft inflicts on people who think .doc is a usable file format. Well done to the examining board for encouraging children to use portable formats. Only one school is in the news for failing that part of the test. Congratulations to every other school for teaching something useful.

Jacqui promotes police handhelds

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I can see it now ...

Two policemen hassling a third because his hand held device contains a camera.

Electric car seller hits brakes as UK EV sales plunge

Flocke Kroes Silver badge


Electricity works out cheaper than petrol. If that was the main cost of an electric car, it would be worth scrapping the family's petrol cars and replacing them with electric today. The real cost of an electric car is replacing the battery once every year or two. There is no way that I will accept lock in to a proprietary battery. If there were standard sizes, I would take the risk that competition will keep the price reasonable. As it is, I will delay the decision until the cars we have become uneconomic to maintain. (There is a much more efficient alternative to batteries:-)


Python 3.0 appears, strangles 2.x compatibility

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@yeah, right

I have python2.4 and python2.5 installed at the same time - so I can be sure my code works for customers who have not switched to 2.5. I could support older versions if anybody wanted. 3.0 has been developed in the open where everyone can see what is happening. Switching to 3.0 will be a minor irritation. To use python 3.0, my customers will not have to throw out all their old hardware, buy a pile of expensive computers with power hungry graphics cards, retrain all their staff and modify all their software. Perhaps there is an advantage to free software.

PS: Noddy's guide to programming says one of the most wasteful uses of programmer time is premature optimisation. First get your code working. Emphasise readability far more than efficiency. Delay all thoughts of optimisation until after the program works. Only then, if speed is an issue start profiling to find the places that would benefit from optimisation.

Networked multipack cruise missiles in successful test

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Come on McKinnon

Type 'WORDPASS' on a rocket box and control your own fleet Unfriendly Flying Objects. What have you got to lose?

US WMD report: Dirty bombs, chem weapons are bunk

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Quick! Before Obama bans them:

Get your weaponised 'flu virus now. Ideal for duck hunting. Special holiday offer: buy two bioweapons and get a half price nuke for home defence.

Plod punishes PC-reliant businesses

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Never ascribe malice ...

... where incompetence or lack of time will suffice.

The Met recovered my laptop after a robbery, but it then spent over a year in an evidence locker. The reason given was that they did not have enough staffing to dedicate someone to the full time job of returning stolen property. After I moved out of London, my house was burgled. The local police got almost everything back to me within a week. It looks like some regions have the resources to provide an excellent service, and others do not.

Oz MPs 'could be breathalysed'

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The world would be a better place if ...

... politicians were often too drunk to vote on anything.

Israeli Linux fan squeezes Windows refund out of Dell

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Last time I checked ...

Dell put Microsoft's logo next to the OS choice on their web page even when you have selected Linux. I was not expecting a Microsoft distribution of Linux until after Windows 7 has proved to be as popular as Vista.

Irish govt powers up electric vehicle drive

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

An amazing incentive to pay taxes

"businesses buying EVs will be able to write off the entire cost against their tax bill"

Buy electric vehicles instead of paying taxes export the cars ASAP. Similar deals work for Microsoft. Microsoft Ireland Research paid €460,000 in tax on profits of €1.2 billion last year.


EFF seeks shelter for iPhone mobile 'jailbreakers'

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

@Charles Manning

The EFF are not helping you avoid you repayments. They do allow you to repaint your house without buying lender approved paint, and to use electricity, gas and phone services from suppliers other than those that the lenders insist you use.

Brits decline to 'think outside the box'

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

How about the really offensive:

With all due respect

Honda: future's full of hybrids and fuel-cell EVs, not plug-ins

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Batteries aren't a problem ...

Electric trains can go thousands of miles without needing to recharge.

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