* Posts by Robert Sneddon

298 posts • joined 14 Dec 2007

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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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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...

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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.

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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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Japan's 'White Stork' soars heavenwards to ISS

Robert Sneddon

Re: That treaty is a two way street and The US has been doing Navy Exercises with them Lately

Yokosuka naval base south of Tokyo is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the United States Navy. It usually has a CVBG parked there i.e about 10% of the US' capital ship fleet. Time was the Yokosuka carrier was the Kittyhawk since it was the last conventionally-powered fleet carrier the USN had but it's now gone to the great razor-blade factory and the carrier parked there is currently the Reagan or maybe the Washington, both nuclear-powered of course.

A lot of the Japanese fleet is based on US designs like the Aegis cruisers in part so they can interoperate with the Americans. They've been carrying out exercises with the USN for decades.

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Robert Sneddon

Re: Wait, what?

"If the Japanese are launching orbital payloads on all-solid rockets, then you've got reasons to send weapon inspectors for a look."

You mean like the Japanese Epsilon satellite launcher?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epsilon_%28rocket%29

It doesn't have the lift capacity of the JAXA H2A or the H2B (the ISS resupply launcher) but it could certainly put a small-ball Bucket of Instant Sunshine pretty much anywhere on the planet in less time than it takes you to get a Deliveroo pizza delivered to the wrong door on a different street.

They've test-fired it once, it worked, they don't seem in much of a hurry to launch another one.

ESA has the Vega (aka Berlusconi's Bottle Rocket), same principle although it's been launched a few times now unlike the Epsilon.

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If Microsoft made laptops, it'd make this: HP Spectre x360

Robert Sneddon

Maximum video output

Will the mini-DP connector drive an external 4k monitor (3840x2160) at 60Hz? Can it drive multiple monitors with pass-through?

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SpaceX's blast shock delays world's MOST POWERFUL ROCKET

Robert Sneddon

Re: Let's replace "1970s-era hydrogen technology"...

LH2 is a sixth the density of RP-1 kerosene, not a tenth. It's still bulky and difficult to produce, handle on the launchpad and burn in a rocket motor but it produces much better performance than LOX/RP-1 during most of the flight once it's out of of the atmosphere as the jet velocity is a lot higher. At low altitudes rockets aren't travelling very fast so drag isn't that important and by the time they're going fast they're almost out of the atmosphere and drag is again not an important factor.

The most advanced liquid fuelled engines are LOX/LH2 -- the Ariane V Vulcain 2, the Japanese H2 series engines and the RS-68 that powers the largest launcher currently available today, the Delta 4 Heavy which is a pure LOX/LH2 launcher whereas the others use solid boosters as an assist during the early part of the flight.

Even SpaceX want to move forward from RP-1, developing the Raptor engine burning liquid methane (which is less dense than RP-1 necessitating larger tanks and with theoretically similar performance to LH2 without its deep cryogenic problems). However others have tried liquid methane before and abandoned it. I've heard there's a problem with coking up of the injectors and damage to the turbopumps using methane due to decomposition of the fuel.

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Did speeding American manhole cover beat Sputnik into space? Top boffin speaks to El Reg

Robert Sneddon
Flame

Numbers, man, numbers!

I ran the numbers on this event a while back during a discussion about it in an email bounce...

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Working the numbers as I go along while poking Dickipedia with a long stick... specific heat of steel averages 620J/kg per deg C. The steel lid is about 600 cubic inches if the size you give is correct, that's about 10,000 ccs in volume. Typical steel density is 7.9 g/cc so the lid weighed 790kg. Melting point of steel is about 1500 deg C so it would take 620 x 1500 x 790 Joules or about 750 MJ for complete slagging of the plate. I am ignoring any radiation heating from the explosion (X-rays, neutrons, gamma flux etc.) as I assume the cap was a last-defence thing and not directly coupled to the Device which was Exploding (i.e. it was not line-of-sight to the device).

Assuming the 50km/sec figure at ground level is correct and that is a SWAG at best -- explosive-gas-driven devices such as artillery shells top out at about 2 km/sec and light-gas guns using hydrogen or similar low-mass gasses are not that much faster -- then its kinetic energy on "takeoff" was 1/2 M x V^2 = 1/2 x 790 x 50 x 50 x 10^6 = 1TJ or over a thousand times as much energy as required to melt it completely. The Pascal-B shot only yielded about 300 tonnes equivalent, or about 1.25TJ which would mean the explosion would have to have expended 80% of its energy in driving the plate to that speed.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

There are other factors which also indicate the manhole cover never reached anything like escape velocity -- the shaft to the Pascal-B device was 150 metres deep and about 1 metre square assuming the size of the cap so there's another 180kg of air to be accelerated up to at least 50km/s before it hits the underside of the cover. There's also friction with the walls of the shaft, energy losses in compressing and heating that much gas etc.

Pity.

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Mathematician: SUNSPOT DROUGHT will mean mini ICE AGE from 2030

Robert Sneddon

Re: Poison?

Actually no. Scientists did SCIENCE! on it and discovered higher levels of CO2 in the atmosphere don't improve plant growth. Pity about that.

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Robert Sneddon

Re: This good be good news or bad news.....

Places like Canada (Cigar Lake) and Australia (Olympic Dam)?

Uranium is mined all over the place, it's not particularly scarce or very expensive. It can even be extracted in useful quantities from seawater although that's not as cheap as digging it up, extracting it from mine spoil heaps or underground leaching.

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Migrating from WS2003 to *nix in a month? It ain't happening, folks

Robert Sneddon

Re: viabilty

Not a problem. Just go to the board and tell them you need a few million quid to hire a team of upper-level coders and system analysts and put together a test setup to prepare the company for something that's going to happen in five years time. It will involve various parts of the company acting as guinea pigs, messing with their established IT setups as parts of it are rolled out and getting in the way of them doing their jobs. Large parts of it might not work anyway and need even more investment in new software, new systems and further training for users.

I'd keep your CV up to date while you do this, but don't mention any of this on it. Say you left the company to explore new opportunities or some other bullshit instead.

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Why SpaceX will sort out Sunday's snafu faster than NASA ever could

Robert Sneddon

Re: Saturns I, IB, & V

There are also the ESA Vega launchers with five successful launches and counting and the Japanese HII-B launchers, four cargo flights to the ISS and no failures.

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Robert Sneddon

NASA is not in the rocket business, it's in the space business

Nice bit of flim-flam about how lean mean SpaceX will fix the problem real quick once they figure out what happened not like stodgy old NASA who are, you know, the people paying SpaceX to fly the CRS missions to the ISS.

NASA doesn't build or fly rockets, it buys launches from manufacturers like ULA (Boeing and Lockheed) and SpaceX. The big kerfuffle about the Shuttle disasters was that people were killed and determining exactly what went wrong in the operational sense was what took the time -- the true causes were known a day or two after they happened.

This failure is going to put a crimp on man-rating the Falcon design which was otherwise moving along smoothly and it's also going to make the US DoD and No Such Agency a bit more wary of offering SpaceX contracts to fly their pricey military and spy hardware, just after Elon managed to wedge his way onto that gravy train.

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Japan showcases really, really fast … whoa, WTF was that?!

Robert Sneddon

Mobes on shinkansens

The entry/exit door areas at the end of shinkansen carriages are where folks go to to make and receive calls on their mobiles. There's a sliding door between that area and the rest of the carriage to keep the noise down. Loud ringtones get the Silent Walk Of Shame treatment as the offending salaryman scuttles off to the end of the car to deal with his call.

The really weird thing in some shinkansen trains is the smoker's aquarium room, a glassed-off compartment filled with grey smoke and (presumably, it's difficult to make out sometimes) people puffing away on their cancer sticks.

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Robert Sneddon

Re: Fast, but not that fast

The French steel-wheel speed record was achieved with a special "racecar" train set and it ripped up the track ballast and damaged the overhead as it passed. In comparison the Japanese maglev record train was unmodified from the trains that have been carrying out test runs for the past few years and it didn't damage the track while carrying over fifty passengers.

The same train raised the record from 581 km/h to just over 590 km/h last week, this week it got over 600 km/h. It looks like the maglev people are planning to raise the train's speed in 10 km/h steps until they can't go any further for some reason -- aerodynamics, instability, whatever. I've seen claims that they want to get up to 900 km/h eventually but I take that with a pinch of salt. The planned top speed for commercial service beginning in 2027 is 500km/h to start with.

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Grandmaster FLUSH: Chess champ booted for allegedly cheating with iPod app in the loo

Robert Sneddon

Endgames

The end-game in Go has many fewer legal moves as much of the board is occupied by placed stones, safe areas which can't be invaded and areas already given up as lost by one side. This is a lot simpler to analyse forward to a winning position than the mid-game position. It's also very useful for evaluating the result of ko fights and the number of points each fight accrues to the players.

Crazy Stone and other computer Go programs like Zen aren't a serious threat to the professional ranks, yet. Pros have lost games to programs, yes but only when offering large handicaps -- 4 stones is equivalent to forty points head start. In chess that would be like spotting the other player a queen and a bishop.

The KGS 5 dan rating that Crazy Stone has been assigned is not a pro ranking, I've seen folks say that the KGS amateur ranks are about +4 over real pros so Crazy Stone is maybe as good as a shodan (1 dan) pro. Maybe.

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An uncomplicated Buffalo in SOHO: The LinkStation 441D 4-bay NAS box

Robert Sneddon

Re: finger trouble.

It's more like the cleaner or someone in the office decides one evening their home 'puter could do with a nice big media hard drive upgrade and next day the NAS falls over with a "drive missing" error.

My old toolkit for desktop support in offices included a box of tamper-proof screws and the requisite screwdriver bits to secure machines. It didn't stop memory and HDs going walkies (and even a CPU in one instance) completely but it slowed the tealeafs down a tad.

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Intel offers ingenious piece of 10TB 3D NAND chippery

Robert Sneddon

Re: How is this "3D NAND" any different from stacked dies?

This 3D NAND process isn't stacking individual lumps of silicon, it appears to involve layering insulating material and new semiconductor substrate on top of a previous layer, etching and metallising that substrate, providing interconnecting vias through down into the previous layer and then doing it again as many times as they can get away with for decent device yields.

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