* Posts by Flocke Kroes

2601 posts • joined 19 Oct 2007

HP clocks up 24-hour laptop battery life

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

On a beautiful summer day...

... i take the laptop outside have to go back into the hot box office because some twerp set the maximum brightness to pathetic when running on batteries.

Is the XO the only laptop that really works in daylight?

Nuke-nobbling US laser jumbo fires test beams

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Who flies these things?

A quick web search of chemical oxygen iodine lasers suggests they are 20 to 25% efficient. For every kilowatt sent sent vaguely in the direction of the missile, 3 or 4 kilowatts heat the aircraft full of chlorine, iodine, potassium hydroxide and hydrogen peroxide.

Reflective missiles look promising. I found an infrared telescope mirror that reflects 98%. http://sciencelinks.jp/j-east/article/199922/000019992299A0938787.php

Google launching its own navy?

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

At least this obvious patent is a waste of time

When Google threaten legal action for patent infringement, the captain can reply "I am in internation waters so I am beyond the reach of US patents."

Come on patent trolls, patent the floating patent office!

Mens mag debuts e-ink cover

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Is it hackable?

Screw the dirty pictures. If I can use the front page as an extra monitor, I want a copy.

Government told: Release secret Iraq documents

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Publish the draft as is

Cabinet Office claims that publication of one half-sentence would damage "the trust within which confidential exchanges between the United Kingdom and other Governments takes place"

Please can we damage this trust. We do not need "confessions" signed because of threats of more torture.

Lockheed demos AI-based roboforce command tech

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

No wonder they want McKinnon

How many killbot commanders still have a default password?

Homeland Security backs deportation with Wikipedia

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Is wikipedia reliable? Check in wikipedia ...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reliability_of_Wikipedia

It's a big article. If you have a bit more time than me, add a section to say Wikipedia is not a suitable source for deciding immigration cases. Next time a Judge uses Wikipedia they can say its OK because Wikipedia said "don't" and he didn't follow the advice.

Now which goblet contains the iocane power?

McKinnon a 'scapegoat for Pentagon insecurity'

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Why doesn't the US get some evidence to support their allegations

If McKinnon is supposed to be a terrorist, where is the confession tortured out of his accomplice captured in Afghanistan?

Chinese boffins crack invisible-shed window problem

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Levitating sheds

To be invisible, the shed has to take sunlight, bend it to the ground under the shed, let the ground scatter it, and bend the scattered light back around the shed to the eyes of the <strike>showering girls</strike> enemy soldiers.

There has to be some minimum radius of curvature that the metamaterial can achieve, so the shed would have to levitate to avoid leaving foot-print shadows. How many showers are on the bullet train track?

While we are at it, metamaterials are only effective over a small range of frequencies. If your shed can hide in grass, it might have difficulty hiding in mud or in the sky. It certainly could not hide from a bat.

The advantage of the military research budget being wasted on metamaterials is that the budget is not being wasted on testing to see if it is possible to weaponise anthrax with home made kit or if it is possible for badly trained pilots to crash an aeroplane. Oops - too late.

Northrop in electric blaster cannon milestone

Flocke Kroes Silver badge
Linux

What to do with the other 400kW?

Make lots of tea/coffee: The laser can heat a litre of freezing water to boiling point every second.

How much hot water does a washing machine use? How about a built in hot tub and steam room with your frikking laser?

If you want a shark-mounted laser, you will need one of the bigger sharks to pull the power supply at a reasonable pace.

Aussie Customs in presentational-aid crackdown

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Ban lamps and lenses!

A 100W lamp produces about 1300 lumens (1600 in the USA). 683 lumens of 555nm (green) light make a watt, so that is about 1.9W in all directions. A 5cm lens with a focal length of 10cm will collect 7% of the light into a parallel beam: 133mWatts. The beam will be 5cm across, but a pilot's pupil is only 5mm (in the dark), so the pilot only gets 1.33Watts. On the other hand, you are not going to be able to hold the beam steady on the pilot, so the wide beam from a lamp and a lens will be on the pilot's eyes for more time than the narrow beam from a laser pointer.

That is just with cheap kit. Try adding an extra lens to a projector. A projector has a more powerful lamp, and does a good job of getting most of that light onto your lens. You should be able to get the equivalent of a 25-30mW laser.

Fujitsu wants NHS exit payment

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

I want £700 million too!

Why bother with secracy? We already know the government are a best massively incompetent at IT. Most people are far to apathetic to do anything about it because the result would be a different bunch of incompetent officials.

VPN security - if you want it, come and get it

Flocke Kroes Silver badge
Linux

The other downside:

They don't know what your doing, but they do know the IP address of the VPN server. That can tell them who you are or who your employer is. If you want privacy, you have to set up your VPN server on a zombie located in the home of a clueless newbie.

BTW: Use iptables to limit all network access except the tunnel to the tunnel. That way, if your tunnel caves in your communications do not suddenly become public. Oops, XP does not have iptables. Set XP's default route to a linux box use filter the packets there.

Federation borgs asset org

Flocke Kroes Silver badge
Linux

I asked Google, so now I can make an idiot of myself?

I have my original MS Office '97 CD with a license printed like a bank note. That is not enough to convince FAST. I can still use this software because I kept the receipt and it is (barely) legible. My DOS disks (original, honest and paid for) have had to go because the receipt faded to the point where I do not think it would keep FAST at bay.

Do you have all your receipts? Do you have a climate controlled room to keep them in? If not, there is no point in buying license management software.

http://www.smashingparticles.com/archives/2004/11/how_to_make_an_2.htm

Concrete-jet 'printers' to build houses, Moonbases in hours

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

If you want to put a large building on the moon, hire Guy Fawkes

Normal 3D printers lay down a layer of powder then melt the parts of the layer that will be part of the final object. The remaining powder is left in place as a support. Perhaps you could put down a layer of concrete power and only add water where the final structure should be. I would like to see the machine that picks up a house and shakes out all the concrete powder.

While we are at it, what type of glue will set in a vacuum? This would have been a handy glue when the space shuttle had heat shield tiles on the front which fell off. Being able to go outside and stick on a few replacement tiles would have been very handy - except liquid glues evaporate in a vacuum. A 3D printer working with moon dust would only work inside an atmosphere. You could ship moon dust to earth, and print your building, but then you would have to put it back on the moon.

US to give some rendition info at Gitmo trial

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

If you took away all the US information ...

... the British government wouldn't ever get to see 'confessions' signed to avoid further torture.

Intel buys up UK Linux lab

Flocke Kroes Silver badge
Linux

I can't remember where my floppy drive is ...

... but the kernel would still fit on it.

My kernel is 3299K including all the drivers for all the non-hotplug devices I have. Fdutils can format floppies up to 3984K.

Ofcom considers termination charges

Flocke Kroes Silver badge
Pirate

Unsolicited calls are effective

If you are a died in the wool Republicrat, set your autodialler to call a bunch of indecisive voters with a long message telling them why they should vote Democritan.

There was a very effective advertising campaign for branded washing power. The adverts were patronising and irritating. They increased sales of the other branded washing powder (made by the same company) at the expense of the store's own brand powders (also made by the same company, but sold with a lower margin).

At the moment, you can ask cold callers to wait a minute, or you can ask them a few simple questions again and again until they go berk. If OFCOM want termination charges, I want their mobile numbers. If a website asks for my number, they currently get their own sales number, but OFCOM could change that.

Samsung samples SSDs for SCCs

Flocke Kroes Silver badge
Linux

Over complicated for an SCC

The linux kernel has drivers for nand flash. The flash chip could go directly on the laptop PCB, then they could remove the pointless sata->nand controller chip, the sata signal+power connector and anything that plugs into it.

Dell turns to Linux, Atom for budget biz boxes

Flocke Kroes Silver badge
Linux

Linux version cheaper than Vista!

I almost gave up searching for the A860 and A180, but determination paid off, and I found technical specs, BIOS download and related bumpf. No price though.

As I was there, I went through the A200 and A200n pages. As is normal for Dell, you have to look carefully to find the n-series. The javascript screwed up (for both A200 and A200n), but after finding a workaround, I was able to compare prices with some mildly irritating animations. (Off topic rant: Why do people use pointless javascript to drive potential customers away?)

After going through all the options, only one option was cheaper for the A200 than for the A200n. I think is was a typo. There are more options for A200. Some were pointless (second optical drive) some could have been related to drivers but none stood out as something I would actually want with a Linux box.

You can buy a wide variety of Windows software with your Linux box. I liked the option to not have Adobe Acrobat Viewer for no extra charge. (There is an Adobe Acrobat viewer for Linux, but there are better alternatives like kghostview and xpdf).

The A200n always came out $30 cheaper than the same configuration with Vista. (Upgrading Vista to XP costs and extra $99.)

I am shocked. Normally Dell machines with Windows come with sufficient crapware to more than counter the costs of the windows licence. Dell used to hide this by using fewer/crappier components in their Linux boxes. Have Dell found some crapware for Linux? Have Dell found some cheap Vista licenses? Is their a shortage of crapware for Vista?

Dell have finally removed two of the three barriers that meant I would not buy from them. Although their website is still horrible, it does now actually work - with a little help. At least one of their Linux machines is cheaper than the equivalent Vista machine, so buying Dell no longer means throwing a windows license in the bin and paying Sir Bill for the privilege. Now for the final barrier:

Do Dell still swap the power connections around to break power supplies and main boards if you connect a Dell main-board/power-supply to a non-Dell power-supply/main-board?

Apple slapped for dodgy ads

Flocke Kroes Silver badge
Linux

@James Bassett

I am one of the people who thing the world would be a better place without javascript. I know, the article was about Java and Flash not Javascript. Very occasionally there is a good reason for some noncompulsory javascript. I have ye to see a reason for Flash and Java.

I do not use internet banking at all, so I do walk into my nearest branches when necessary. I have heard good things about the HSBC web site, but not enough to get me to try it.

It would be nice to send gpg signed emails instead of cheques. It would be nice to receive gpg encrypted statements signed by my bank - if they gave a real commitment not to use my email address for junk mail.

A browser is too big and complicated to trust with my investments. I might be tempted if the site worked with lynx.

Unfortunately using gpg securely requires a tiny bit of effort on the part of the customer, so 99% of them will never be able to handle it. How much am I paying so the banks can fart about with flashy web pages that encourage users to use security flawed software?

Hackintosh maker bites back at Apple

Flocke Kroes Silver badge
Linux

@Alexis Vallance

Good theory, but impractical.

If you start by trying to get Apple's license declared unreasonable, Apple can simply procrastinate. After about five years you will have spent money on lawyers, will have made no income, and might have made some progress on the license. Apple can then make some trivial changes to the license and kick the process back to the start again.

Apple want to sell kit to people with money to burn. It is their choice. Psystar want to sell to a different segment of the market. They could both profit by negotiating an agreement. Instead they are throwing money at lawyers.

If I were Apple, I would want at least three Psystars competing each other out of a profit in the cheap and crappy segment of the market. That way, I could sell more profitable upgrades because Psystar and friends are effectively subsidising the hardware, and I could keep the high profit hardware segment by maintaining a reputation for quality.

At least there is no mandatory Apple tax on laptops.

Council clamps down on 'man on the street'

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Report needs more work ...

'... operatives are advised to avoid dismissing old timers as "old woman", "old fool" and "old codger" in favour of "old person".'

It is good to know that there are politically correct terms for dismissing old people. What are the politically correct terms for dismissing children, and the middle aged? Do we need some quotas to ensure that people of all ages are dismissed equally?

Cloud computing: A catchphrase in puberty

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

@Luther Blissett

Do not despise the snake for having no horns for who is to say it will not become a dlagon.

If a problem is a good match to grep's strengths (picking out lines from a text file that match a regular expression), use grep and you will get results with less effort than with C++ or python.

If a simple problem is a good match to sed's strengths (making changes to a text file), use sed and you will get results with less effort than with C++ or python. Insanely skilled programmers can solve complex problems with sed, but sane skilled programmers know better.

If a problem is a good match to awk's strengths, (source text files are divided into records and records are divided into fields by simple patterns and you do not have to do complex processing to get to the required answer), use awk and you will get results with less effort than with C++ or python.

None of these tools are a good choice for a large project. Awk's arithmetic is primitive and the others can barely add. If you have a problem that is large or not a good match for the strengths of these text manipulation tools (you missed M4 ;-), then pick something more general purpose like C++ or python.

Python is sufficiently fool proof that even a half wit can get some results from it (probably needs at least a one third wit). Let a one-and-a-half wit loose with a python interpreter, and she will get results quicker than with C++. The results will be more CPU intensive than C++. If this actually matters, she can recode the inner loops in C++, C or assembly language and still give a C++ snob a good race.

Python is not awk+extras. It is not dumbed down C++ either. It is a high level language with the costs and benefits of an extra layer of abstraction. (Likewise C++ is not just C with // for comments :-)

Anatomy of a malware scam

Flocke Kroes Silver badge
Linux

Most common OS

Will Vista ever get enough installations to become a malware target?

Now lets count some Linux installations. How about your router? Your satnav? Your search engine's data centres? The Register? Linux also shows up in traffic control signals, mobile phones, video games, tivo, XO, Eee, ...

Despite the large number of high value linux installations, the only attack which came close to damaging my computers was in an email: "Welcome to the Linux Email Virus. This virus works on the trust system. Please forward his email to all your friends and delete a few files." (I do not get to see most of the scams because I disable javascript and animations.)

Scamware authors are going to have fun detecting the distribution, the window manager, style, window decorations and the colour scheme so the can display a fake system message. Then they have to get a user to type the root password. My users have enough trouble remembering their own passwords. They probably could not type (let alone remember) the root password.

If a linux user sees "Your computer is infected with a virus" dialog box, she will race through scepticism and become incredulous. Scammers will to have to sell something else to get into the linux market. Software is not an obvious choice because distributions have more software than a sane person could try out. "Send us some cash or the penguin gets tarred and feathered"?

Pedantry: http://linuxmafia.com/~rick/faq/plural-of-virus.html Octopedes!

Debian delivers FreeRunner open-phone package

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Desktop linux has been delayed because...

... Microsoft took ages to ship Vista.

Manufacturers are targeting markets that cannot afford Vista capable machines. To do that, they are finally selling (small) Linux machines. Get cracking MS and release Windows 7: If it requires a higher spec machine than Vista then manufacturers will be selling powerful Linux desktops.

PS - I have been putting Linux on embedded systems for over 5 years. The only difference now is that journalists report on it.

Google flicks pennies down geothermal well

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Noddy's guide to geothermal

You drill two holes that almost meet a long way down. Drop some bombs down each hole to make some cracks. Some of the cracks will intersect, so when you pump cold water down one hole, you get hot water out of the other one.

The good news 1: we will have cheap fusion centuries before we make a measurable difference to the earth's core temperature.

Good news 2: Hot pressurised water dissolves silica, which comes out of solution inside the turbine. Over time, if you clean out the silica regularly, you can make a really huge sand castle. (What do you mean? Why don't you want a huge sand castle in your backyard?)

Good news 3: Rock is not all that thermally conductive. If you pump out heat too quickly, the temperature falls in a small area around the expensive holes you just drilled. To get more energy, you could drill more holes or drill further apart and use much bigger bombs! Where is Guy Fawkes when you need him?

Bad news: The UK is on a thick bit of the earth's crust. You would have to drill 20km here to find a useful amount of heat. Like most sources of renewable energy, you are better of building elsewhere. If you are worried about buying oil and gas from Arabs and Russians, you can get some hydroelectric from Wales, some wind from Scotland, solar from ... Libya, geothermal from Iceland or nuclear from France.

A third of Vista PCs downgraded to XP

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Marketing is not the same as Advertising+Spin

Marketing involves researching the market to find customer requirements. Implement the requirements and then demonstrate the value of your new product so customers buy it. (Advertising vendors often have a different opinion: any money spent on market research is money not spent on adverts - and might reduce the need for adverts.)

MS selected new features for Vista that are opposed to customer requirements. They implemented some, and scrapped others because they could not get them to work in a reasonable timescale. For the first time in decades MS are now involved in sales (product is cast in stone - convince people to buy it as it is).

In the past, if you bought a computer you had to pay the Microsoft tax. MS honestly believed that people would have to pay for whatever MS told them they had to buy, so customer requirements were irrelevant. As far as I know, Dell still throws a windows licence in the bin for each Linux machine they sell. Asus and Acer now sell Linux machines cheaper than equivalent hardware with windows, so MS now has to compete.

If you want Windows 7 to be any good, try Linux. It is the only way you will get MS to consider doing some real marketing.

Microsoft Silverlight: 10 reasons to love it, 10 reasons to hate it

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

@Mark Allan

MS wanted to rent out massively overpriced NT derivatives for servers and foist windows 95 derivatives on everyone who could not afford it. The only reason you have XP is competition from Linux. If you want to live in a world where you are required to spend £1000 on software each year for a £200 computer then you can get the same effect by donating to charity.

Plenty of people do not use an 800W gaming rig with a 1Gb/s internet connection to browse the net. Using flash just drives away customers with old, mobile or cheap computers for no benefit. Retailers who do not like flash, but still want to loose business can now choose silverlight.

Microsoft's Vista push probed by Fair Trade Commission

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Most vendors still pay the MS tax on Linux machines

That is why Dell Linux machines are a lower spec then Windows machines in the same price bracket.

I think some countries have an interesting bit of copyright law: If you do really cannot buy copyright material because the owner will not distribute it, then you can legally make a copy for yourself. Do not take my word for it as I am not a lawyer. While you are at it, be prepared to pay a ridiculous licence fee if the copyright holder chooses to re-enter the market.

MS have side stepped this detail by selling XP - at a high price with some bundled crapware.

I wholeheartedly support Bill's right to rent out third rate software at exorbitant prices. I do not want to use it, and I certainly do not want to pay for it. To get real competition in the market, manufacturers should not be permitted to pay license fees to Microsoft. They should be able to install deactivated windows for free and XP/Vista addicts can pay an activation fee to MS if they choose.

ISO rejects Office Open XML appeal (redux)

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Not really a win for MS

There is no implementation of ISO/IEC 29500. It is unlikely that there ever will be. Leaving aside for now the poorly defined and self contradictory parts of the standard, MS have shown no inclination to modify MS Office to match changes made during the standard's discussion period.

A large proportion of computer users have howled and cursed because MS word messed up reading a document produced by a different version of MS word. As a result, people put lots of effort into making this a thing of the past by ensuring ODF met their requirements. Several different office suites already interoperate by using ODF.

MS may have bashed their format through ISO, but it has cost ISO their reputation for producing quality standards. MS has gained nothing of value, but the hardworking and dedicated members of ISO get blamed, and everyone looses confidence that future ISO standards match their previous quality.

It is hardly suprising that MS are not crowing about this 'achievement'. MS realise OOXML will not lock people into using MS Office. Instead lack of proper ODF support will lock MS out of some big contracts.

Asus goes official on extended Eee PC line-up

Flocke Kroes Silver badge
Linux

If Intel cannot supply Atoms, use something better:

Via C7 faster than Atom

http://enthusiast.hardocp.com/article.html?art=MTUzNSwxLCxoZW50aHVzaWFzdA==

US judge says University can ignore Christian course credits

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

@Richard Scratcher

If Jupiter's Witnesses ring my doorbell and try to sell me a leaflet, they will get the same treatment as the other JW's. If some people try to push Yggdrasil Design into the school curriculum, they will have to explain clearly what their theory is and abandon it when it is shown to be contrary to the results of experiments.

I am not picking on Christians any more than I would on any group that tries to convince me that their invisible friend is real.

"God is as real as I am." he assured me, and my faith was restored, for I knew Santa would never lie.

US Air Force halts plans to establish a Cyber Command

Flocke Kroes Silver badge
Black Helicopters

Quick: Lock up McKinnon

If the US build Skynet, they will have to find ways to prevent it from being used against them:

1) lock up everyone capable of looking for accounts with empty or simple passwords.

2) publish some fake UFO reports to keep conspiracy theorists busy.

I am not sure why the US bothers with armed forces. They should just threaten to sue anyone who attacks them.

Cybercrime bust highlights PIN terminal insecurity

Flocke Kroes Silver badge
Dead Vulture

Put the keypad on the card

While you are at it, put a display on the card that shows the amount and the recipient. Also use proper encryption - libssl is only about 200k, so it will easily fit on a chip.

Engineers and managers can end up in prison for not taking enough care with safety. Unfortunately that law does not apply to bankers funding crime with customer's money. (All customers - not just the ones who use 'portable' terminals at an open air auction.)

Amazon Kindle set to go massive

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Electronic books without DRM

http://www.baen.com/

There are some free samples, so you can decide for yourself if it suits you.

Teens admit to Grand Theft Auto-inspired petrol bombfest

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Children tell ridiculous lies: Ban politicians

I thought the boy from Thailand killed someone because his parents would not buy GTA for him.

McKinnon UFO hack 'looked like cyberterrorist attack'

Flocke Kroes Silver badge
Paris Hilton

Hands up everyone who hasn't thought something nasty about US foreign policy

I would clutch at every available straw to avoid facing charges of terrorism infront of the US military.

If he did leave a silly note it only shows he has sufficient mental incompetence to believe the US government are capable of hushing up contact with aliens. If the US was involved in a giant cover-up, it would on all the news outside the US and they would make a movie about it for he US market.

$700,000 to train the 97 most computer illiterate soldiers in the US to remember a secure password? A bargain price, but I do not see why McKinnon should have to pay it. The US has lots of soldiers. There must be plenty capable of remembering a password. Who selected those 97 for vital defence computer work?

I am sure real terrorists are cowering in fear at this message from the US: "Don't mess with us or our lawyers will hound someone else!"

Paris for president!

Linux risks netbooks defeat to Microsoft

Flocke Kroes Silver badge
Black Helicopters

Plenty of time

"too many packages to download" on a pre-installed Linux box? Amanfrommars is more coherent.

For years, manufacturers would not pre-install linux. Now that there reviews of Linux machines, distributors will not sell them. So what if it takes another few years for distributors to give Linux machines an equal place on their websites. The market will still be there and Microsoft will still be losing market capitalisation.

@Charles: End users do not want a giant product library. They may want a few specific things and get pushed into Windows because of one of them. If someone wanted a really enormous software library, they would use Linux. As the article says: there are too many packages to download. Even Microsoft have caught on to the fact that people are not making enough software for Vista for them to claim there is a giant product library - hence all the news that Microsoft are failing to get free software programmers to develop for Vista.

Federal judge halts Defcon talk on subway card hacking

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

People accuse others of their own crimes

I am curious about security inpayment systems - so I can evaluate the risk of having a credit card, decide the risk of my business being used to defraud others and so I can build a better payment system.

Some people think the only reason to go to defcon is to learn how to steal from a mass transit system. Some people are asking for copies of the materials before they are widely distributed. Apparently the research included monitoring data inside the MBTA. "The level of concern reached all the way up to the governor's office"

GPS tracking slapped on laptop recovery service

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Should have bought an XO

Years ago the salesman from Qinetiq demonstrated GPS in a room: He used a huge (8cm) antenna, a thick pipe from the antenna to the GPS, the GPS was plugged into his computer and for all I know, the computer was reporting calculated satelite positions and ignoring the GPS completely. I never was able to demonstrate GPS in a room with a low power antenna and trusted software.

Modern GPS can work in some buildings. If the GPS antenna is inside the laptop, the attenuated GPS signalwill be drowned out by RF interference from the CPU. A decent GPS has enough CPU power to turn on and get a fix when the main CPU is off, so the problem is solveable. GPS altitude is OK, and might even work inside a building. I have never had maps with useful altitude figures and even ten meter accuracy does not get you on the right floor. The GPS may be accurate to 10m but the GPS signal is only accurate to 30m. You need to know the error in the GPS signal to get 10m accuracy. It is not too hard if you can communicate with a GPS in a known position within a few hundred km.

My current laptop has a BIOS controlled hard disk lock. I want this destroyed with extreme prejudice. When the laptop dies, I want to connect the harddisk to my desktop to retrieve the last day's data and use it as a back device for my next laptop. As it is, anyone could power cycle the machine, set the BIOS password to something random and ruin my day. Fortunately lack of portability is no loss to this laptop: it is completely useless outside. Without mains power the backlight is set so dim that I can barely read the LCD in the dark.

My last laptop was stolen. The police recovered it promptly from a shop full of stolen laptops and left it in their evidence locker. By the time a policeman had time to spend a day returning laptops, the battery had died of self discharge, and the charger had got mixed up with other people's chargers.

Looks like more effort was wasted on this GPS tracker than on fingerprint scanners. Image the hard disk and install openbios and you are away. One day fingerprint scanners will be sufficiently secure that they require a severed finger for authentication. I will not buy one then either.

My next laptop will have a daylight readable screen, be too cheap to be worth stealing and have a "Vista incapable" sticker.

Carbon Trust: Rooftop windmills are eco own-goal

Flocke Kroes Silver badge
Alert

@"880,000 x 200Wh x 4hrs = 704,000 KW"

You mean 200W, not 200Wh

880,000 x 200W x 4hrs/day = 704MWhrs/day

Sizewell B nuclear station produces 1,188 MW and runs about 24 hours per day, or 28512MWhrs/day.

If you increase unemployment and prison population by a factor of ten (probably the correct government targets), and double the number of hours they pedal/row then they are almost equal to half a Sizewell B. As a punishment for incompetent arithmetic, repeat "Educational standards are not falling" three times. (This is how politicians deal with problems, so it must work ;-)

The price of a mini windmill has nothing to do with materials or engineering. Manufacturers can sell sufficient windmills if they can show payback in ten years (with inappropriate figures for maintenance and wind speed). Double the peak power output, and you can double the selling price.

The interest on a loan for £5000 for photovoltaic + solar heating + windmill is similar to my gas+electricity bills. Now add costs installation, maintenance and energy storage (because the sun does not shine at night, and the wind hardly ever blows). I would rather spend my money on insulation and heat recovery ventilation.

Paris Hilton - the compromised candidate

Flocke Kroes Silver badge
Go

Never liked the kick-Paris 'humour'

(A fool and his money are easily parted)+(Paris is still rich)=>(Paris is not a fool)

PS - She did not use a teleprompter. They had cue-cards for her, but she did not need them because she memorised her lines.

Knights Templar to Vatican: Give us back our assets

Flocke Kroes Silver badge
Go

Templars vs catholics

If you see a leech in a fight with a digger wasp, do you care who wins?

Old ships' logs show temporary global warming in 1730s

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Easy way to find historical temperatures in a ship's log:

If the handwriting was a bit shaky, it was cold. If the page has sweaty finger marks it was hot.

Nvidia denies chipset farewell

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

When are we going to see nVidia CPU's?

They could put a respectable CPU in one tenth of the area of one of their expensive GPU's. In the long term, they will need a CPU+GPU chip because that is the way the market is going. Just ask Intel, AMD+ATI and Via.

US Senate polishes new teeth for cyber cops

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

So keyloggers on nine computers is OK?

if I remove those nine, can I install nine more on different computers?

Are dwarves limited to 7 and elves to 3?

What are the rules if I find other people's keyloggers bring them under my control and in the darkness bind them?

John Glenn blasts Moonbase-to-Mars NASA roadmap

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Luna base for robots

If you have a spaceship building industry on the moon, it would be able to build transport to Mars cheaper than a spaceship industry based on Earth. An Earth-built one shot trip to Mars is much cheaper than building a huge infrastructure on the moon and then using that infrastructure to go to Mars. If you wanted ten thousand trips to Mars, then it would be worth checking the price of setting up shop on the moon. As far as I know, no-one is ready to pay for ten trips to Mars with present technology.

A rush to Mars is about as useful as the rush to the moon. You get some pictures of space suits lurching about on a barren wasteland, but it would be decades before you build up infrastructure to the point where someone will pay for another trip.

A more sensible long term plan might involve advancing robotics on Earth to the point where robots can run a mine or a factory with minimal human supervision. There is a diamond mine in South Africa that is getting too hot for humans, so there is a practical application for mining robots now. Factories already have a considerable amount of automation. There is a new story about killbots every week so there are plenty of funds for improving robotics.

When robots can do a good jobs of building spaceships from raw materials on Earth, send them to the moon. Let them build mines, factories, human habitats and all the infrastructure for cheap travel between plannets. By the time that is working we might have a cheap enough way of getting off Earth to use it.

NASA are not in the business of making sensible long term plans. Instead the go for plans that they can get funding for. If you do not like that, vote for someone with a clue:

"Mars is essentially in the same orbit... Mars is somewhat the same distance from the Sun, which is very important. We have seen pictures where there are canals, we believe, and water. If there is water, that means there is oxygen. If oxygen, that means we can breathe." - Dan Quayle, 1989-08-11

Blu-ray to rule by 2011

Flocke Kroes Silver badge
Linux

DRM is dying - get used to it

I wait for DVD's to reach £5 before I buy. Some people do not wait, and pay £5 for illegal copies. If distributors just sold at £5, they would do far more to prevent illegal copying than DRM ever did, and they would make more money (by taking a larger percentage of the market and by not having to pay for DRM licenses.)

When £5 blue ray disks play on Linux I will be interested.

In the mean time people - please stop paying huge amount of money for films. The price is only that high because people are prepared to pay it, and the exorbitant prices are just funding a market for illegal copies.

Blighty's nuke-power push stalled as EDF buy falls through

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

If you are worried about nuclear safety, go train as a nuclear safety inspector

About twenty years ago, one graduate of the department of nuclear engineering ant QM&WC got a job selling cars. The other two didn't. The department closed down. Now we have a choice of buying nuclear power stations from abroad or cutting demand for power.

The cost of fuel is going up and that is never going to change. Renewables have a substantial maintenance cost that often disappears from their budgets. They require big energy storage facilities that almost never get included in their budgets. I would like some renewables in the mix, but in reality, if you want to drive a car, in future you will need a nuclear power station to charge it. If you want to eat for a reasonable price, in future you will need nuclear power to make the fertiliser.

The UK could build a huge number of windmills to supply our current usage of electricity (Watch the numbers here - a windfarm backed by energy storage produces about 1/3 of its capacity because the wind does not always blow). Covering the country in windmills would not run transport and agriculture. The other non-nuclear option is to reduce population by about half, but that plan would still be less popular than nukes if those in favour ate the most vociferous objectors.

Current sources of uranium are limited. They are meeting meeting demand so there is no incentive to exploit more sources. The fuel is not a major cost in nuclear power. Even if it takes ten times as much money to get uranium from less convenient sources nuclear power will still cost about the same amount. Fusion would have the same problem and solution with deuterium if we had cost competitive fusion plants.

Existing nuclear sites are more valuable to some pension funds than they are to EDF. I do not have a problem with that. The price of energy will rise until people are prepared to accept nuclear. This might even happen while we can still afford to buy nuclear power plants. If not, those who can afford it will move to a first world country, and any of the remainder that survive can sell beef to Europe like we did before we had any industry.

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