* Posts by Robert Sneddon

313 posts • joined 14 Dec 2007

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Drunk user blow-dried laptop after dog lifted its leg over the keyboard

Robert Sneddon

Doggy piddle

My flatmate had a visit from a friend with a yap-dog. I unwisely left the door of my room open and said yap-dog came in while my back was turned and proceeded to "lay claim" to the HP LJ4 sitting on my floor, right in the ventilation slots.

I powered it down, got out the big rubber gloves and cleaned it out and it worked fine ever after. The carpet was another matter...

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China successfully launches its first robot space truck

Robert Sneddon

Dragon capsule capacity and capability

The SpaceX Dragon capsule used for cargo launches to the ISS usually carries about three tonnes or so of supplies on each flight, not six. It can't transfer fuel and other liquids to the station via the docking port adapter and it can't dock automatically, it's captured by a robotic arm under manual control. It can return scientific samples, equipment and other materiel to Earth which no other unmanned capsule can.

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Nerd Klaxon: Barbican to host Science Fiction exhibition this summer

Robert Sneddon

Gilgamesh

One of the earliest stories known, Gilgamesh is putatively SF with supernatural elements and wild impossibilities -- one of the key requirements of a good SF story is engaging the reader's Willing Suspension Of Disbelief (WSOD) and anything that noticeably distorts reality needs some serious WSOD for the reader to stay engaged with the story.

As for adventures, the definition "Bad things happening to people I don't personally know a long way from where I'm sitting comfortably reading about them" springs to mind.

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Customer satisfaction is our highest priority… OK, maybe second-highest… or third...

Robert Sneddon

Re: Card - no

Which kind of claymore, the long pointy stick kind or the gently-curved plastic slab with "this side towards enemy" stencilled on it?

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Robert Sneddon

Re: "coffee please"

"Captain Vimes will have it boiled orange in a builder's boot with two sugars and yesterday's milk."

Proper copper tea.

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Linus Torvalds lashes devs who 'screw all the rules and processes' and send him 'crap'

Robert Sneddon

Testing Testing Testing

"How can anyone working towards something as important as the Linux kernel not do at least at much?"

Nobody has created comprehensive code testing processes for Linux. Nobody is continuously improving those testing processes. Nobody is working to ensure all code submitted gets tested to a high standard. Nobody is paying them to test their own code. Nobody is standing over them ordering to test their code. Nobody gets their code and tests it independently. Nobody reviews their code. Nobody provides the sort of expensive hardware systems to run exhaustive tests on their code to ensure a high level of hardware compatibility over multiple platforms (not just two or three).

Linux is Open Source written in the main by folks who are doing it as a hobby. I have a vision of Mr. Torvalds standing up on a stage screaming "Testers! Testers! Testers!" while throwing chairs.

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LOST IN SPAAAAAACE! SpaceX aborts Space Station podule berthing

Robert Sneddon

Busy car park

The Dragon capsule is hooked by a robotic arm once it approaches close enough and is then coupled to an airlock in the middle of the ISS. The Soyuz Progress capsules dock automatically at the far end of the station where they can transfer liquids and fuel as well as boost the ISS and raise its orbit by firing the service module's main engines. This means there's no need for one cargo capsule to get out of the way of the other to find a parking space. Usually though the mission controllers don't like two ships manoeuvering around the ISS at the same time so they'll probably prioritise one docking operation over the other.

I think the record for number of cargo and passenger ships at the ISS at one time was six, including a Space Shuttle as well as an ATV launched by ESA but none of them docked while the others were still in free flight near the station itself.

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Clone it? Sure. Beat it? Maybe. Why not build your own AWS?

Robert Sneddon

Down as well as up

Renting services from AWS or other providers makes sense if you carry out projects that might fail (such as the CEO's pet buzzword du jour concept) or have a fixed lifespan (such as migrating to new services) -- a year down the line you can simply trash the data and tell the provider the monthly contact is at an end. The alternative is to be paying for hardware and premises that you built out for a project but have little use for now (until the CEO hears a new buzzword...)

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In colossal shock, Uber alleged to be wretched hive of sexism, craven managerial ass-covering

Robert Sneddon

Part-timers

There was a case about a year ago of an American Uber driver working the late shift who was shooting people in drive-bys between picking up passengers.

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Installing disks is basically LEGO, right? This admin failed LEGO

Robert Sneddon

Large rubber mallet job

I got a defunct 2U server cheap off a site clearance, planning to break it for parts. It had apparently stopped working in the rack and been taken out to be fixed but no-one could get it to power up so the HDDs were pulled and it was left on the workshop shelf until the annual turf-out of old and broken kit came round.

A couple of minutes under the hood revealed both hot-swap power supplies had been inserted upside down in their docks with sufficient force (quite a lot, really) to bend the PSU mating connector structure inside the server out of the way far enough for the retaining latches at the back of the PSUs to snap into place. For some reason the designers hadn't polarised the PSUs and the docks to prevent this happening in the first place. A minute or so with a rubber mallet bent the mating connector frame back into alignment, I put the PSUs back in the correct way round this time and the server powered up perfectly.

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All of Blighty's attack submarines are out of action – report

Robert Sneddon

Battleship inflation

The Royal Navy had a lot more subs thirty years ago but about half of them were diesel boats built in the 1960s and 1970s. The first nuclear submarines were in the 3000-4000 tonne displacement range, effectively large diesel-style hulls with a nuclear power plant providing steam to conventional turbines or (later) pumpjets for propulsion. They had operational problems including requiring refuelling every ten to fifteen years which necessitated the hull being cut in half to get at the reactor spaces which took them out of action for years at a time.

The new Astute class boats are 7000 tonnes plus, use electric drive resulting in extraordinarily low levels of noise, carry cruise missiles as well as a massive towed sonar suite, cruise underwater at thirty knots plus, never need refuelling due to improvements in reactor design and they can do all sorts of things the older subs can't. The downside is they're much larger and more expensive to build than their predecessors so we get fewer of them. It's like the old battleships which got bigger and more expensive as time went on but fewer and fewer got built for the same reasons.

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USMC: We want more F-35s per year than you Limeys will get in half a decade

Robert Sneddon

The Bad Guys shoot back

"An A-10/Harrier can get in close on a strafing run within a couple hundred feet, "

The Bad Guys, even irregular guerilla forces usually have heavy machine guns that can shoot back if a ground attack aircraft gets within "a couple hundred feet". Pilots that want to go home after work shoot up the Bad Guys from a few kilometres away using Hellfire and Brimstone missiles from well out of range of heavy MGs and shoulder-fired missiles. As a bonus they don't accidentally walk cannonfire through friendly forces when the nose of the aircraft drops in a rough air pocket.

A sniper wouldn't charge his target to bayonet them, why would it be necessary for ground attack aircraft to knife-fight when they can stand off beyond visual range and turn the opposition into mince without allowing them a glimpse of the weapons platform that is destroying them?

As for the Harrier, a triumph of 1970s engineering, it is slow and short-ranged with a limited payload compared to regular catapult-launched aircraft such as the F/A-18. Its big advantage for the USMC is its ability to operate from rough airfields and short decks on the Tarawa-class and new America-class Marine assault ships, America's other aircraft carriers. The F35-B can also fly off those short decks as well as being faster, longer-ranged, smarter, stealthier and generally isn't falling apart due to the age of the airframe hence the USMC's keen interest in getting more of them as soon as possible to replace their forty-year-old Harriers.

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Would you like to know why I get a lot of action at night?

Robert Sneddon

Shinkansens

No WiFi, free or paid-for in shinkansens but there are power sockets. They're at every seat row in some trains down near the floor or just at the front and back of the carriage in other trains.

2
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BOFH: Password HELL. For you, mate, not for me

Robert Sneddon

Reverse engineering

Doing contract support at $Large Financial Organisation I temporarily needed a better login than the one I had to do something dangerous and irreversible without leaving (my) fingerprints in the logs if shit went wrong, so I asked my manager for his login and password which he gave me quite happily... The password ended in 22. Knowing the AD enforced password changes for security purposes every two weeks I speculated he had been there for about 10 months or so.

"How did you guess?"

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Modular dud drags LG to first loss in six years

Robert Sneddon

Panasonic

sells a ruggedised phone with add-on modules. It's a tech tool though, not consumer oriented -- if you want a laser barcode scanner or a real serial port on your phone you pay serious money for it.

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IT team sent dirt file to Police as they all bailed from abusive workplace

Robert Sneddon

Hired Guns

The Union representative will probably be one of your co-workers. The Union lawyer at your side during the Interview with HR and senior management is your employee and she faces down bigger bastards than them five days a week.

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Robert Sneddon

Fruit of the Poisoned Tree

"UK courts do not have that doctrine. Nor do most commonwealth ones."

A long time back I was a witness in a Scottish court giving evidence and heard the defending counsel say those words to the justice. The case was about property theft from a company I had worked for and the "fruit" assertion was, as I understood it, that the chain of custody of the physical evidence was broken in some way.

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Britain collects new naval tanker a mere 18 months late

Robert Sneddon
Pirate

Cabling and paperwork

The South Koreans have a track record of covering up bad cabling installs with fake paperwork. Several of their nuclear reactors were taken offline a few years back when it was discovered cable suppliers had faked up certification of the control and power wiring in the reactor buildings. The operators had to rip out and rewire the reactors to spec before they were permitted to restart them. This delay to the RN's acceptance of the Tidewater may have been something along the same lines.

The South Koreans produce some decent bits of kit but they have major institutional corruption problems in government and industry.

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Japan's terrifying techno-toilets will be made foreigner friendly, vow makers

Robert Sneddon

Re: Aliens

There was the Twin Choron bar on a space station visited by Earthlings -- it had three doors marked "Oozers", "Squirters" and "Emitters". They decided they could hold it until they got back to their own ship.

("Illegal Aliens" by Phil Foglio and Nick Pollotta).

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Google nukes ad-blocker AdNauseam, sweeps remains out of Chrome Web Store

Robert Sneddon

Firefox is blocking extensions too

The latest builds of Firefox block the use of unsigned and unapproved extensions. I switched some of my browsing to Pale Moon so I could run a couple of old "Jet Pack" extensions that no-one is maintaining since the Pale Moon developers said they would continue to allow unsigned extensions to run. The next release of Pale Moon kicked Jet Pack to the curb...

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Meet the Internet of big, lethal Things

Robert Sneddon

Farming is not a hobby

"I've heard EFF argue that "who knows their land and equipment more than the farmer who owns it?"

Actually, for most farmers the land and equipment belongs to the bank that provides the overdrafts and loans to buy said land and equipment.

Someone I knew was the last of a farming family which worked land in Lincolnshire for about 150 years. He said that at no time in the family history as recorded in the account books he knew of did they ever own the land outright, it was always mortgaged up to the hilt. In a good year they didn't have to give most of their earnings to the bank at the end of the year to service the loans, in a bad year they had to extend their borrowings to buy seed for the next year's plantings.

He fixed the heavy machinery on the farm himself when he could but he knew the older models of tractors, seed drills and combines were less efficient, more work for the "owners" and more likely to break down at the wrong time because they didn't have the sensors and monitoring software that would give him a heads-up and book a visit from an engineer to carry out preventative maintenance, leaving him more time to actually farm the land the bank owned.

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NASA – get this – just launched 8 satellites from a rocket dropped from a plane at 40,000ft

Robert Sneddon

Efficiency and convenience but not that much of a boost

There are a couple of benefits of air launch such as flexibility in where the launch takes place from (basically anywhere a couple of hours flying time from a suitably large runway) and fewer problems with weather on the ground or range safety which can abort or hold a launch at the last minute.

Rockets work better in vacuum or close to it since there's less back pressure so an air launch at altitude is more efficient, but only by about 10% or so.

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DDoS script kiddies are also... actual kiddies, Europol arrests reveal

Robert Sneddon

Criminals, not the sharpest SSD in the SAN.

The one thing that stops people committing crimes is the fear of being caught. Tough sentences etc. have no real effect. The bad news is that habitual criminals don't think they'll be caught, even after they have been caught many times before. This time it's going to be different, they think. They're usually pretty stupid and have little impulse control. Drink and drugs don't help.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvmYfcQB5HY

There are a lot of court cases where someone does get caught early on, first-time offenders and they learn their lesson, grow out of it or give up and live a mostly crime-free life as upstanding members of the community, only evading taxes, speeding, drinking and driving, working off the books, taking backhanders etc. It's the 19-year-old with sixty-odd convictions for burglary and aggravated assault that makes the headlines but they are very much outliers.

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NASA spunks $127m on SSL-powered robot to refuel satellites in space

Robert Sneddon

It doesn't work that way

Delta V is the total change in velocity of an object, its vector as well as its speed. A low delta V means the robot wouldn't get to its required position in space travelling at the correct speed in the correct direction (vector).

A rocket motor produces a given amount of thrust per unit of fuel and oxidiser burned, the so-called specific impulse (Isp). Using it up slowly or quickly doesn't make a difference to the total amount of fuel needed to rendezvous with a target, at least in free flight in space where air friction etc. is not a factor.

Electric thrusters like ion engines are very efficient in terms of Isp but they have very low thrust -- the engine that propelled the SMART 1 probe to the Moon had an Isp of about 1600, more than four times the best chemical rocket engines but it could only generate 68 milliNewtons of force using xenon as fuel.

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Robert Sneddon

Re: Yikes

ESA and the Russians have flown refuelling robots several dozen times quite successfully. The International Space Station has thrusters to provide attitude control and some repositioning capability, to dodge space debris mostly. The Soyuz Progress capsules and the ESA ATV modules both have the capability to transfer fuel to the ISS as well as liquids such as water, ammonia etc.

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Chernobyl cover-up: Giant shield rolled over nuclear reactor remains

Robert Sneddon

Hot and fast or cold and slow

Effects on biological tissue from radioactive materials are not simple to evaluate for a lot of reasons. The rules and guidelines on exposure and intake currently in place are the result of a lot of empirical data and lab testing plus a fudge factor on top i.e. the maximum exposure permitted might be 10% or less of a dosage that produces any noticeable effect at all in trials. There's also the As Low As Reasonably Achievable (ALARA) limits which presuppose people shouldn't be exposed to any amounts of man-made radioactive materials at all. Radiation from natural (organic, free-range, cruelty-free, vegan-friendly) isotopes such as potassium-40, carbon-14 and others are tacitly ignored in these limit settings since there's nothing anyone can do to avoid them.

Radioactive isotopes with a short half-life are very "hot" so a small amount will do a lot of damage but it stops being a problem after a few hours, days or weeks. I-131 is one example of a problematic isotope in an accident, with a half-life of 8.5 days so it's "hot" plus it concentrates in the human thyroid gland like regular iodine. That fast decay rate means that a few weeks after any release it stops being a problem.

Very-long lived radioactive materials like U-235 (half-life 700 million years) and U-238 (4 billion years) aren't particularly dangerous in terms of the radiation they produce. They'll be around for a long time but they're not "hot" even in large quantities. It's the medium-life isotopes that escape an accident site that are really a problem -- Cs-137 and Sr-90 are the usual suspects here with half-lives of about 30 years.

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Robert Sneddon

The other major radiation release that week...

Even funnier, a couple of days after Chernobyl 4 burned to atmosphere a German pebble-bed reactor, the THTR-300 released some radioactive particles into the air after a fuel pebble broke up in its feed channel. The operators tried to cover it up, hoping nobody would notice the release because of the Chernobyl contamination but some isotopic analysis showed it couldn't have come from the Ukraine-based reactor and they got caught.

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Airbus flies new plane for the first time

Robert Sneddon
Angel

Knock in Ireland

has an international airport, the fourth largest in Eire. It's there to handle the half-million or so Catholic pilgrims who visit the nearby shrine every year. Religion is big business in the travel industry.

Oh, and Lourdes? From the Wiki article on the airport at Knock:

"On 1 June 2003, hundreds of people gathered to view an Air Atlanta Icelandic Boeing 747 land with 500 returning pilgrims from Lourdes."

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New state of matter discovered by superconductivity gurus

Robert Sneddon

Re: Yttrium Barium Copper Oxide

I was working in Cambridge when the first LN2-temp superconductors were discovered -- the pub convos were *interesting*. People were frantically trying to get hold of quantities of yttrium and other odd elements. I suggested they try contacting Brock's Fireworks.

1
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Robert Sneddon

Re: using liquid helium or liquid nitrogen, which is expensive.

There's more helium in the atmosphere than xenon. If the cheap helium (sourced from some natural gas wells) runs out it can be scavenged from the atmosphere like xenon. The price tag just goes up, that's all.

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ESA lofts one astronaut and four Galileo satellites into orbit

Robert Sneddon

Orbits and energy budgets

Geosync satellites are placed in an equatorial orbit but the Galileo satellites, although in a lower orbit are flying in a ball-of-string pattern at different angles to the equator. This single ES-variant Ariane V flight had to deliver the four satellites into different orbits hence the use of a new upper stage "dispenser" with a restartable engine that carried out multiple burns to do the job.

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UK warships to have less firepower than 19th century equivalents as missiles withdrawn

Robert Sneddon

Battleships

The day of the big-gun battleship ended in WW2 when most of them were sunk by aircraft without ever coming within gun range of the carriers or airbases that launched them. Many of the rest were sunk by submarines. There were only a few times during WWII that battleships engaged each other (I think a sideshow action in Leyte Gulf II was one of them, the real fight was between carrier forces and subs).

Fall of shot charts of an Iowa class BB at extended range cover an area of a square kilometre or so, and that's with the ship stationary in clear weather and calm seas. A modern shipkiller missile can practically choose which porthole to fly through no matter how much the target dodges.

http://fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/ship/weaps/bb-61-dnsn8709176_jpg.gif

BBs are a great way of killing a thousand or so expensively trained personnel to no great effect -- see the General Belgrano (a refurbed WWII American cruiser) as a more recent worked example.

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Brexit may not mean Brexit at all: UK.gov loses Article 50 lawsuit

Robert Sneddon

The unrepresentative and unelected bureaucrats in Brussels have been very generous to places like the West Country and the North of England in terms of regional development funding, agricultural subsidies etc. I suspect the London-centric Tories will be less enthused about handing their cash over to the rural peasantry while there's Crossrail, Crossrail2, the Heathrow third runway etc. to pay for.

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UK oversight body tipped to examine phone snooping tech in prisons

Robert Sneddon

20 if you can manage a Strowger rack.

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EU verdict: Apple received €13bn in illegal tax benefits from Ireland

Robert Sneddon

Re: Right about now...

Problem is, those tax shelter republics aren't in the EU so any profits they make selling Shiny!s in the EU can't be shuffled through a third-floor rented office in TaxShelterStan to appear on Apple's books for their quarterly reporting without paying the going rate of corporation tax. Bit of an embuggerance, that.

1
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NIST spins atomic gyroscope to allow navigation without GPS

Robert Sneddon

The Saturn V rocket flew with an ST-124M inertial navigation unit providing acceleration and roll, pitch and yaw information to the flight control system. It was about 60cm in diameter with beryllium gimbals and frame and tungsten gyro rotors and weighed a chunk along with its associated nitrogen gas supply and electronic control box. The MEMS accelerometer in a cheap phone today would do better.

As far as accumulating errors in position over time, subs can cheat by using topographic maps of the sea bottom and comparing them with sonar images instead of coming up close to the surface to get a GPS lock. There's a reason for all those hydrographic survey vessels many navies employ, after all. It's only really useful though in a few rare circumstances and it requires them to use their active sonars, not something the Silent Service likes doing unless they're shooting at someone.

3
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What's losing steam at Apple? Pretty much everything

Robert Sneddon

Doomed by Jobs

Apple's doom was sealed (so to speak) by Steve Jobs back in 2008 when he slid the first Macbook Air into an envelope during the Macworld keynote to demonstrate how slim it was. Ever since then new Apple kit (absent the dustbin Pro) has had to be slim and every succeeding generation of tablets, laptops and phones has had to be slimmer than the previous one. That means pro-class laptops that can't be opened for repairs or upgrades, iMacs that are glued together to be pointlessly slim on the desktop and ever-slimmer iPhones which will be losing their headphone jack in the next release because it limits a further reduction in case thickness.

Slim has had a good run but it's hit the buffers.

1
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Galileo satnav fleet grows an extra pair

Robert Sneddon

Paper Terrors

I was breathlessly informed a few years back that there would be EU-wide road pricing based on GPS in place by the end of 2015 with every vehicle including kid's trikes tagged and monitored 24/7 by the Evull EU. The respondent had probably seen the same document you're hyperventilating about, a "what if" paper saying "could we do this?" like sixty-thousand other Powerpoint presentations that went nowhere.

If the UK government wanted to do this they've got enough ANPR cameras on the main roads to implement a road-pricing scheme without requiring everyone to fit a GPS tracker on their vehicles -- it's already illegal to not have camera-readable licence plates, after all.

1
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Sick to death of mighty rocket launches? Avoid these dates

Robert Sneddon

Bit slow

December 2015 had fourteen launches, a record for a single month I believe. There were three launches in a single 24-hour period on the 16th and 17th of that month comprising an Indian GSLV with a range of payloads, a Chinese Long March with a dark matter experimental satellite and an ESA Soyuz from Guyana carrying two Galileo satellites.

It's a rare month that doesn't have at least eight launches these days.

1
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Amazon Shocker: Firm recalls Fire and Fire Kids power adapters

Robert Sneddon

Received the recall email yesterday

I'll probably take the 12 quid credit as I'm not actually using the wallwart adaptor that came with my Fire tablet (it was an Xmas present) anyway. They said they'll send a prepaid envelope to return it.

2
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Europe's ExoMars mission enjoys orchestral fanfare

Robert Sneddon

Seven Minutes of Terror

Mars missions seem to bring out the John Williams in all the teams that make an attempt to put something on the ground there. Google "Seven Minutes of Terror" for the JPL video about the Curiosity rover landing a few years ago and listen to the dramatic heart-in-your-mouth music soundtrack.

3
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Post-pub nosh neckfiller: The gargantuan Gatsby

Robert Sneddon

Re: Par frying chips

There's a reason chip pan fires was one of the top five causes of house fires in Scotland for a long time -- the second pass in the liquid cow has to be at a temperature that is damn close to flashover. My Dad didn't know the the old radio ham phrase "tune for maximum smoke" but he always kept a wet towel handy when making chips. Oh, and he grew his own tatties too, Maris Pipers, a great chipping potato but now, Ghod Preserve Us, an "heirloom" variety. I blame the English and their foofy King Edwards.

1
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Bijou Linux autopilot takes to the skies

Robert Sneddon

Re: Pi Zero availability

I need a cheap-as-chips blob of computing power to connect to a cheap USB microscope and feed a TFT display I got out of a bin. A full-size full-price Raspberry Pi is quadruple the price and it would be overkill with all sorts of features I don't need. The Pi Zero at a fiver is within my three-pints of beer budget for this project, if I could find any for sale.

It says something about the market for such a board that they can't keep up with demand at the moment. Maybe when things quiet down a bit...

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Robert Sneddon

Pi Zero availability

I've been looking to buy a Pi Zero for a "blob" project (i.e. a small lump of computing power to do a simple specific job, nothing more). Is there a source for Pi Zeros out there that is not permanently out of stock and is willing to sell one at a reasonable price including postage today or tomorrow? Anyone?

2
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SpaceX launch is a go for Sunday after successful static fire completed

Robert Sneddon

Re: Someone forgot Grasshopper

And those that recall Grasshopper have forgotten the NASA vertical-takeoff and landing rocket, the DC-X which did pretty much everything the Grasshopper did but twenty years earlier.

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1

Adobe: We locked our customers in the cloud and out poured money

Robert Sneddon
Pirate

Adobe Creative Suite 2

A couple of years ago Adobe shut down their registration servers for Creative Suite 2 and published universal keys for users still working with the several-generations-out-of-date software suite. About five microseconds after the keys were released sites with downloadable installation media for CS2 started appearing on the web...

1
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Microsoft Lumia 950 and 950XL: Clear thoughts of Continuum with a snazzy camera

Robert Sneddon

Mobile phone review

Weird to read a review of a phone that actually considers voice call quality and the radio stack as being worthy of being discussed. That's usually relegated to page 23 of any review if it's mentioned at all.

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Randall Munroe spoke to The Reg again. We're habit-forming that way

Robert Sneddon

Re: If you try the hoverboard game..

And up above too (lots of Star Wars references...). There are also "soft" areas here and there in the floors and ceilings where the hoverboard can get through.

1
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BOFH: I'm not doing this for the benefit of your health, you know

Robert Sneddon

Use the right equipment for the job

Taping the grip of a CO2 extinguisher is fraught with danger, there's a risk someone could undo the tape in time. Cable ties, now... They're also good for bypassing those bothersome "grip safety" cutouts on chainsaws and the like, tape peels off when it gets soggy with, uh, "fluids". Or so I conjecture.

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West's only rare earth mine closes. Yet Chinese monopoly fears are baseless

Robert Sneddon

Re: The comic book element Thorium..

The Germans have a pebble-bed reactor, the THTR-300 which was partially fuelled with thorium. It blew up a couple of days after the Chernobyl reactor went kaboom! back in 1986 and the operators tried to pretend the plume of radioactive pollution from their reactor was actually from the Ukraine until someone did some isotopic analysis and said "hold on, that looks funny...".

The Germans are still wondering what to do with their THTR-300. Waiting for the radioactivity to decay is the best option they've come up with but it's basically passing the buck to the next generation (so to speak). They might, just might be able to start disassembling it in 2027 according to the Dickipedia article.

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