* Posts by Flocke Kroes

2646 posts • joined 19 Oct 2007

US gun lobby blogs Thanksgiving gun 'facts'

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They could stop using lead ...

... and use depleted uranium instead.

By they way, the PDF warning is serious. PDF's increase your chance of suffering from schizophrenia, cause blindness and are becoming the terrorist's home brew explosive of choice.

'Bloody' is an offensive word, declares ASA

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Blooming hades

If Winnie the Excrement can say "Bother!", I should be able to order a Pygmalion Mary without a fuss.

Group Test: AMD Radeon HD 4000 series

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Can we bury 'effective clock speed'?

'Effective clock speed' is marketing drivel for confusing newbies. If you cannot stick to GB/s please use something obviously useless like 747's full of mag tape.

Government finally names the day for porn ban

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Whilw they are at it ...

... why don't they ban some medical textbooks.


DARPA wargamer calls for US X-Men superplane fleet

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They missed a requirement:

Must be able to take off and land in a basketball court.

Heidemarie 'Toolbag' Piper set for second spacewalk

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Three other embarrassing mistakes

That's one small step for _a_ man; one giant leap for mankind.

The space shuttle


BNP list hunters bring down Wikileaks

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@ AC 13:46

The article does not say that the BNP list is on wikileaks. It only says that people are looking for it there. IANAL, but I suspect that distinction is enough to keep the register out of the front line if there is any fallout about guiding people to the list. I would rather have the register spend money researching articles than fending off a pack of lawyers.

I am sure reg reader would think of wikileaks as a good place to start looking without any hints.

Pininfarina B0 production schedule slips

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design flaw

Solar panels do not work in a garage, inside a multi story car park, at night or in most of the UK. Now if I moved to the Caloris Basin they might come in handy.

Main BBC channels to be broadcast live via web

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Could be worse

You might need a license to connect to the internet.

PC virus forces three London hospitals into computer shutdown

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What is a PC virus?

A computer virus is a modification to a program that among other things modifies other programs to include the virus. Viruses are spread when infected programs are moved from one computer to another such as by removable media or a shared filesystem.

A PC virus would be one that can infect any PC. The software common to all PC's would be the BIOS. A boot sector virus could potentially infect any PC. In practice, people rarely boot from removable media, and it is not difficult to spot or prevent changes to the boot sector of a fixed disk.

Mytob is a worm - it does not spread by modifying programs. Instead, it emails itself to vulnerable machines. The list of vulnerable systems is: Windows 2000, Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows Me, Windows NT, Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP.

Can the register please call this thing a Windows Worm. It will be accurate, irritate some iTards, please the Penguinistas and annoy the Windozians.

Lord Ahmed faces dangerous driving charge

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Even if he was not texting ...

... how many people did not crash into the Audi?


Linux weaktops poised for death by smartphone

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What about all the returned XP machines?

According to Jerry Shen (CEO of Asus), returns of Linux machines is equal to returns of XP machines. He also said Asus sell equal numbers with each operating system (for machines capable of running both). Small cheap computers are not an idea from Marketing. Marketing hate them because the margins are too slim. These boxes exists because OLPC showed it was possible and popular and because there are big markets (China and India) for something far cheaper than a £350 laptop.

I do agree that small cheap computers are over priced. They sell despite that because they are useful. There are rumours that the prices will fall. Add a pixel qi daylight readable screen, and I will buy. My current laptop drowns out low flying aircraft if I give it any serious work to do. I already ssh my desktop for big tasks. At least a netbook will not deafen me if I accidently start something complicated.

PS: I shower every day and I do not download illegally distributed music or films.

Endeavour launch heralds new dawn for piss-drinking

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What do you think you are dinking?

In the UK, sewerage plant output has to be processed to drinking water quality. Guess what happens next.

A quick web search for reverse osmosis drinking water shows a 50GPD system for $199. If they mean US liquid gallons per day, that is about 190Kg/day. In the UK people average 150Kg/day (380Kg/day in the US). Even if 10 astronauts use drinking water to water the garden and wash the car and flush the loo, $4000 should be enough.

'Ruggedised, weaponised' raygun modules now on sale

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Big car batteries


These batteries can provide 20kW for about five minutes. You would need four of them to power one laser module. A module plus batteries would weigh about 300Kg. You could put this in your car and still drive around, but if you fire it, you are sitting next to a 60kW heater (in the UK, domestic electric heaters are limited to about 3kW).


Here is a tank with a 1MW engine, so a 100kW laser on a tank is possible, but I have no idea if it would be useful.

AMD buys (a little) breathing room with Shanghai

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If AMD does have problems, their FAB's will not be idle. 90nm MIPS and ARM SoC's compete with current Atom CPU's. 45 and 32nm versions will give Intel a run for their money.

Carphone Warehouse denies mass Linux Webbook recall

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If you do not like the user interface ...

... fix it, or hire someone else to fix it.

If you whine on the mailing lists and demand that volunteers spend all their free time make changes to suit you, you can get an abrupt response because other people have made different demands before. Programmers are not going to spend their own time switching between different variations each time a new user turns up on the mailing list.

Even when you are completely right, and a small change will make life easier for XP refugees, it still may not be a priority for the coders. If the problem is that you have not read the friendly manual because you are lazy then at best you will be ignored. If you have read the friendly manual, made some effort to solve a problem yourself and are still not making progress, then by all means contact the mailing lists and clearly explain what you are trying to do. If no-one is interested in helping you for free then buy some support from Red Hat or SUSE.


If Linux is not ready for the desktop, please explain why PHB's had no problem with DOS.

ARM to fuel netbook, internet gadget drive with Ubuntu

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Intel architecture SCC?

Where are they?

All the Atom boxes I have seen are smallish barely-cheaper-than-a-laptop computers.

AMD's 'Bobcat' to leap out and claw Intel's Atom tomorrow?

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Cost of Atom+chipset?

Who here believes Intel and AMD are enthusiastic about competing on price with ARM and MIPs SoC's?

ISP boss pledges to undermine Great Aussie Firewall

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Smaller scale version:

Filter politicians internet access to hide the fact the other Australians have unfiltered access.

Universities reject Stasi role

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Role call at the house of commons

While we are at it, have members of parliament write one essay per week on the reasons behind their votes on any one issue. Handing in someone else's work, plagiarism, saying "its a secret", or "the dog ate it" means their Littlewoods list purchases go to the local charity shop. Failure to attend the house of commons gets them deported to Iraq where the locals can express their appreciation for being liberated.

US stocks up on semi-automatic rifles

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Barak Obama to ban goldfish

Quick - buy now before they become illegal. Only $50 each or $500 for eight.

Microsoft: Windows 7 ready for Christmas 2009

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@David Simpson

"The simple fact is no-one has to buy Win 7 for it to be a hit, it will come pre-installed on every new PC."

Vista comes pre-installed on every PC, and it is hated by the people who are forced to use it.

My main objection to Vista is it is installed on new PC's, so people have to pay for it even when they have no intention of ever using it. Come on Mr Simpson, promise to buy the next Red Hat, SUSE and Mac OS when you buy new PC's and you will experience some of the feelings the rest of us have about Microsoft.

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2010 is the right date

Windows 7 will be September 2009. Windows 8 will be September 2010. Windows 9 will be March 2011. From then on, a new version will be released every Tuesday.

The secret sauce in SanDisk's ExtremeFFS

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random/sequential writes and ssd prices

Back when SCSI interfaces could to 1MB/s, you could reformat a SCSI disk with a new sector size. Microsoft can only handle 512 bytes/sector, so over time support for larger sectors disappeared. (Larger sectors mean a higher capacity because there are fewer inter-sector gaps, but waste time or space when many files are smaller than a sector.)

Nand flash typically has pages from 2 to 8K. Last time I used Nor flash, the page size was 64K. You can change any single 1 to a 0 in Nor flash, but it takes time. It is more efficient to write as many bytes at once with the chip allows (32 on that 16MB chip with 64K pages). The only way to change a zero to a one is to change all the zeroes to ones in an entire page. It used to be possible to change a few zeroes to ones in Nand flash. Modern devices cannot do this. It is only possible to write or erase an entire page.

When Nand flash is packaged up to pretend to be a hard disk, the operating system will issue some 512-byte writes all over the place. The wrong thing for the disk emulation layer to do is to read an entire 8K page, change 512 bytes of it, erase the page and write the data back. Sandisk have finally caught up with JFFS2.

JFFS2 is a Linux file system designed for Nor flash that is not hidden behind a hardware disk emulation layer. All writes are go sequentially to a single page until it is full, then the next erased page is used. This make some of the data on previous pages irrelevant when a more modern version is written. When there is only one erased page left, (or if there is a lull in disk activity), a full page is selected and its useful data is copied to the erased page and the selected page is erased. This leaves one erased page and one partially written page, so further writes can go into that partially written page.

JFFS2 is old tech. It takes a long time to mount large filesystems because the kernel has to read the entire device to map out where the most modern version of all the data is. OK for my ancient 16MB chip, but not so good for 1GB - which is a bit small by modern standards. There are newer shiner flash filesystems in Linux. Unfortunately I rarely get to play with them because most flash is hidden behind a defective disk emulator.

Nand flash comes in two flavours: ordinary, which is fast and costly per gigabyte and multilevel cell which is slow and cheap. You can make a fast SSD out of ordinary Nand flash, or by writing to multiple channels of multi-level flash simultaneously. The most profitable solution is to use multi-level flash with a single channel controller and sell it at a high price to people who do not check if the sustained transfer rate is tolerable.

Big SSD's are expensive because people will pay lots of money for the reduced latency. If you want these things at a good price, wait a bit.

Is the internet going down down under?

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If ISP level content filters were popular ...

ISP's would be selling that as a service.

(Paris Hilton picture missed out to avoid content filtering)

Oxford don offered $10,000 for proof terrorist penned Obama memoir

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Absence of evidence is not essence of absinth

Who wrote Ayers' book?

Top aero boffin: Green planes will be noisy planes

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@AC 2008-11-02 03:04

I live 50 yards from a railway line. Two slow trains and a two fast trains have passed while I wrote is. I could hear the slow ones for about 10 seconds and the fast ones for about 5. I do not normally notice the trains. They are not loud enough to interrupt a conversation - when the neighbours have a row they are louder than a train.

A hefty goods train passes every morning before dawn. It does shake the house, but it is almost silent and does not wake me up.

In the same amount of time, five planes flew over (Stanstead is about 10 miles away.) I could hear them for about minute. They were about as loud as the trains.

I used to live 20 yards from the Central line where it is a surface railway. The tube trains did not bother me.

I used to live 200 yards from the M11. The double glazing screened most of the noise during while it was closed. During summer I had to flee because it was too hot to have the windows closed and too loud to have them open.

When they threatened to enlarge Stanstead, some people were given double glazing. That is not a solution.

Anyone got real figures on the number of rabbits flattened by trains and the number of pigeons shredded by aircraft. Does anyone care?

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Think inside the box

How much does it cost to develop a magical silent light clean reliable aircraft engine that runs on sustainable fuel?


Virgin cuts broadband to a fiver

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Economies of lies

Pretend a whole 10% of the population have enough sense to get near enough the best deal for their requirements. Assume another 10% somehow avoid being sold overpriced crap, or something more expensive than they need. That leaves about 80% who have been mis-sold. Only "ten per cent of wireless broadband users feel mis-sold", so about 70% of customers are happy to pay extra for things they do not need or do not actually get.

With a customer base like that, what incentive is there for a provider to be honest?

Obama leads McCain on pre-teen virtual battleground

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Why does someone need to be qualified to become president?

Who would you want to screw up your country, someone ignorant or someone qualified?

Sarah Palin's words get data mined

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BI is the modern phrenology

How about Palin's astrological chart. What does numerology have to say about people called Sarah Palin? Got a sample of her handwriting? How about some graphology or for some professional pseudoscience, use a lie detector.

I am sure any of these methods would have made a funnier article - better still, use them all on ten year old material about George Bush, and compare the results to what we found out the hard way.

If you want to know the future, I recommend interpreting the howls of dogs. Dogs do not charge that much and they know as much about the future as most stock analysts.

Intel to present 32nm chip while AMD shows off 22nm part

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How to measure small distances

For relatively large objects, use a micrometer screw gauge: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Micrometer

Or use a travelling microscope: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Travelling_microscope

Visible light is at least 350nm across, so that would be useless for photographing a modern chip. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X-ray_microscope

Even X-rays are a bit big for measuring details on a 32nm chip. I suspect they used an electron microscope: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electron_microscope

An expensive electron microscope can resolve individual atoms. That is nowhere near the limit of modern technology. If you want to take a look at the structure of sub-atomic particles, you need a toy that probably wont fit in your back garden: http://lhc.web.cern.ch/lhc/

Plymouth nurse punted panties on eBay

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How about ...

... firing the people responsible for this over-reaction and using the money saved to give nurses a pay rise so they do not need to sell their knickers to make ends meet.

Plasma rocket space drive in key test milestone

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Launching nuclear reactors

This has been done plenty of times. The pioneer and voyager space craft are nuclear powered. The reactors were designed to 'survive' a huge chemical explosion followed by a long drop and impact with the Earth. By 'survive' I mean they would be in one piece but not in working order.

The netbook newbie's guide to Linux

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Ukrainian man pages?

man-pages-uk contains man pages translated into Ukrainian. For American man-pages, try man-pages. If they have been translated to British English, you would find man-pages-gb.

If iTunes does not support Linux, that is their problem. There are plenty of alternatives. For legal DRMless music, try www.play.com.

For synching, I use rsync. If you have a fast network connection to your desktop machine, you might prefer to log in to it remotely (one of the options when you are about to log in on you laptop, or if you start a new session).

If you are concerned about being locked into a cloud, and openoffice is a bit too big for you laptop, try abbyword or koffice.

This 80% returns of Linux laptops rumour is just FUD. According to Jerry Shen (CEO of Asus), the figures are about equal for Linux and XP. Are 80% of XP machines being returned?


To get the same 'out of the box' functionality as an XP or Vista machine from Linux, I recommend deleting most of the software, removing half the memory and posting you paypal account details on some news groups.

Asus' sexed-up Eee PC 1000-series netbook spied on web

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What happened to Moore's law?

I took a quick look for a laptop similar to the one I bought 2 years ago. The closest I could find had a worse CPU, a better northbridge/GPU chip and cost £30 more. Forget trying to make a machine almost capable of running Vista. Where are the small cheap (<£200) computers?

Home Office guides plods on photography

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When's the next election?

"Do you know where the local police station is?"

"Yes, but I cannot tell you as that information could be of use to a terrorist."

Student charged after alerting principal to server hack

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Silence him quick

He might uncover the conspiracy to hide the fact the county hires Martians and that a disused school building is really a UFO traffic control centre.

Germany laughs at EU's full-body scanners plan

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Innocent unless proven guilty

"MEPs said the privacy implications and cost benefit of the scanners should be investigated before the machines get the go-ahead."

When the investigation shows the machines are intrusive, expensive and useless, they can get the go ahead because there has been an investigation. Next election, can I vote for "None of the above" please.

Forgotten what an egg looks like? We can help

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If you carry an egg ...

... can you be imprisoned without charge for 42 days?

BBC's TV detector vans to remain a state secret

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There are good reasons ...

The purpose of all the letters is to demonstrate how expensive it is to run the TVLA, and to justify their fee. Real TV detector vans are possible, but not cost effective - the idea is to get people to pay whether they need to or not, not to get proof one way or the other. The BBC could have opted for encrypting their digital service. I assume they did not because the expect to get more revenue by bullying people into paying for a service they do not want than be selling decryption cards to only the people that want them.

Switching to an advert funded service has problems. The adverts have become louder to reach people making tea. So loud that turning the sound off is a requirement - if you do not have the kit to skip past the adverts. TV advertising does not lead to much in the way of sales, and businesses are catching on and moving their budgets elsewhere - to the point where commercial stations cannot afford to broadcast anything but cheap crap. That leads to fewer viewers and even less value to adverts. Look for commercial broadcasters lobbying for a slice of TV license pork.

I recommend opting out of the license fee, and spending the money saved on DVD's instead. At least that way, you get to choose what you pay for and you do not have to pay for repeats. It's not like there is any real journalism from BBC - remember end of the world stories when they were testing LHC with only one beam?

UK Govt to spend £100m on three-city electric car trial

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Canadian parking meters

I heard Canadian parking meters have a power socket for your car heater so your car does not freeze up while you are shopping. If that is the case, how about a few of those here connected up to a new nuclear power station?

Google: Guinea pig brainwaves prove video ads 'compelling'

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@AC 23:03

Ssshhh - If fragile laptop distributors hear you, the net will be plastered with irritating animations advertising each other's products.

US forces want man-hunting robot wolfpacks

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Be wery quiet - I'm hunt wobots

If there is a shortage of human soldiers, they should not be developing killbots that hunt humans. The other side will be short of soldiers and will be using killbots too. They should be working on a robot that hunts robots.

Intel apologises for 'inappropriate' iPhone critique

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There is an open source flash player called gnash. AFAIK, it is coded in C, so will run on ARM, MIPS and all the other architectures gcc supports. I have not tried it as I would prefer websites not to use proprietary formats. Thankyou Gootube for taking a step in the right direction.

Fiat unwraps 'leccy buggy concept

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Bugster in the mud ...

Does spray from the front wheels plaster the passengers?

All Android apps are not made equal

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Google and Apple are both lock-in vendors. Anyone with a clue has known this for years. Googleization refers to a way of defeating the spirit of GPL Version 2, so they could hardly be more famous for systematic lack of openness.

For those of us that care about the freedom to do what we want with our kit, there are products on the market: http://www.openmoko.com/product.html

Speed cams ditched in Wiltshire

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The other way of improving road safety

20 years ago, most of the roads near home had no speed limit. Now most of the big wide major roads are 30 with a few 40's. 20 years ago I paid attention when driving. Now, there is a real danger of dozing off at the wheel.

Some of the narrow windy back roads still have no limit. Occasionly you can find a boy racer's wreck in a ditch. More please!

Toshiba charges ahead with electric car-friendly battery building plan

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Full specs please

Take an ordinary battery rated for 500 charge/discharge cycles. Recharge every week. It lasts 10 years! First rule of reading adverting blurb: any figure not quoted must be sufficiently poor to cripple sales.

Eee PC series to get Windows 7 but not Vista, says CEO

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@Mark H

All the ISP's I have had contact with say "We do not support Linux". They all supply a CD and say you have to install the software (malware/adware?) on it. Every single time I have thrown the CD in the bin without opening it and connected with Linux without any hassle whatsoever. I would be shocked it Talk Talk were any different, but I will take your warning at face value and avoid Talk Talk unless someone who knows better speaks up.

Asus do not need to have outstanding Linux support for every WIFI chip. They only need to select one of the chips that is well supported.

As for Windows 7, MS did say something about chopping it up so a subset of it could run on a mainstream computer. Perhaps Asus are basing their decision on a sneak preview of XP7^W VistaSP3^W Windows 7. I have yet to hear any advantage for the customer in Windows 2017 over Vista. Asus could save themselves some time and money by sticking with Linux/XP until hell freezes over^W^W^W MS release something better.

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