* Posts by Chris Miller

3313 posts • joined 6 Apr 2007

Capgemini: We love our 'flexible, flowing' spade

Chris Miller
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I can see there may be some point to marketing bullcrap if you produce consumer goods, such as fish fingers or cars. But has anyone ever selected an IT service provider because they had a pretty logo?

IBM have their faults, but at least they kept the same logo for decades at a time.

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Grant Shapps of coup shame fame stands by 'broadbad' research

Chris Miller
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"So my village, probably to get me off their back, they came in and put FTTP in of 300Mbps. It's amazing, but then there is a gap between people taking it up and availability. Actually, largely that's because operators don't tell people it's available."

There will probably (and correctly, in my view) be a higher charge for the higher speed. If the alternative is 2Mbps, most people will pay, but if they can already get 20Mbps, why would they* pay extra for 300Mbps?

* Yes, I'm sure there are some exceptional use cases, and that many of them read elReg. I pay a few extra quid a month for 100Mbps VDSL rather than 17Mbps ADSL+ - but I'm fortunate that I don't have to choose between higher speeds and food/housing.

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Drone smacks commercial passenger plane in Canada

Chris Miller
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With apologies for uber-pedantry

Efficient modern engines use 2 or 3 fan stages

True, but only the first stage is used for bypass thrust, and hence can be considered analogous to a traditional propeller. The other stages compress the air prior to ignition.

if the [turboprop] blades are rotating, pedestrians need to avoid walking into them

And if turbofan blades are rotating, pedestrians need to avoid walking within several metres of them.

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Beardy Branson chucks cash at His Muskiness' Hyperloop idea

Chris Miller
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Re: Main benefit of HS2?

Chiltern trains are limited by the length of the platforms. They've been busy extending many stations, just to get from 6-car to 7-car trains.

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Chris Miller
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The West Coast Main Line, which HS2 will mostly duplicate, is at near full capacity during morning peak hours on its southern stretches

I call bollocks. The WCML is far from the most crowded of the lines into London. What 'independent' consultants showed was that if you cherry pick your data and forecast it forward for a decade and a half, you can show that there will be capacity issues. But if the purpose of HS2 is to relieve (potential, future) bottlenecks, there are far, far cheaper ways of doing this. They don't generate cushy non-executive directorships for retired politicians and civil servants, though.

When the history of the 21st century comes to be written, HS2 will feature in similar terms to the East Africa Groundnut Scheme.

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Equifax: About those 400,000 UK records we lost? It's now 15.2M. Yes, M for MEELLLION

Chris Miller
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That EU 'protection' was in place when all this happened. It did a whole lot of nothing. Quelle surprise.

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Google: This may shock you, but we also banked thousands of dollars to run Russian propaganda

Chris Miller
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Re: More bullshit

Hillary's campaign alone spent $1.4 billion (Trump a bit less than a billion). Even if these numbers for an alleged Russian spend are real, and represent only 1% of the true amount ... that's still just a rounding error.

In 2004, the Guardian urged its readers to write to constituents in marginal Ohio, in an effort to swing the presidential election against Bush. I don't recall any howls that the evil Brits were trying to steal that campaign. And it worked so well, too.

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MH370 final report: Aussies still don’t know where it crashed or why

Chris Miller
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@Ledswinger

I suspect in future we'll see near-continuous tracking via the satcomms, whether that will be fault resilient and tamper proof who knows.

Whatever systems we build (or retrofit) into aircraft, there will always need to be a simple means of switching them off - you need circuit breakers that can swiftly be pulled in case a fault develops that could turn into a fire and threaten the aircraft. So someone who knows what they're doing will always be able to disable them.

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30 strong fingers but still no happy ending for robotic back rub

Chris Miller
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"The Shiva physiotherapist massages with her own hands" – it says here, proving that workplace gender neutrality has yet to reach The Netherlands

Dutch (like many languages) has gendered nouns, so it's easy for an unsophisticated (or automated) translation to carry across the gender of pronouns, resulting in something that isn't quite fluent English.

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EasyJet: We'll have electric airliners within the next decade

Chris Miller
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Re: @Steve Evans

The whole concept is bonkers (unless they're in possession of some technology beyond the currently understood laws of physics). Electric cars work well (up to a point), but they're massively heavy because they're full of batteries. On a surface vehicle this isn't an insuperable obstacle, but aircraft designers grapple constantly with how to shed every excess pound. An aircraft (even a personal one*) with sufficient battery power for an hour's duration flight would be far too massive to get off the ground.

* Unless you're looking at something like the Gossamer Albatross or the Solar Impulse - but they're no-ones idea of a prototype airliner. A top speed of 75 kts would be a bit of a drawback, for a start.

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Why Uber isn't the poster child for capitalism you wanted

Chris Miller
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efficiency doesn't increase in response to competition, or at least not very much

I can't quantify 'not very much', but one way that Uber improves the efficiency of private hire (while reducing CO2s) is matching up return journeys. When my local private hire chap takes me to Heathrow (or wherever), there's a very good chance that he's coming back home empty. Uber offers the prospect of a paying fare back.

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Brit broke anti-terror law by refusing to cough up passwords to cops

Chris Miller
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Obligatory xkcd

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Compsci grads get the fattest pay cheques six months after uni – report

Chris Miller
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Oxford? Tick. Imperial? Tick. Cambridge? Tick.

Bournemouth?? WTF?

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NCC hires three Bank of England cyber experts to beef up assurance business

Chris Miller
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My buzzword bullshit detector is now wrapped around its endstop. Thanks a lot, ElReg.

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Weird white dwarf pulsar baffles boffins as its pulsating pattern changes over decades

Chris Miller
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Your boss asks you to run the 'cloud project': Ever-changing wish lists, packs of 'ideas'... and 1 deadline

Chris Miller
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Re: 'utilise our resources to leverage the actioning of the process-driven outcome'

Don't forget to "counterpoint the surrealism of the underlying metaphor".

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Hi Amazon, Google, Apple we might tax you on revenue rather than profit – love, Europe

Chris Miller
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@Credas

You can use a very similar argument to 'prove' that you don't pay income tax.

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Chris Miller
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VAT is chargeable, but mostly reclaimable by businesses on their purchases, which means that it is (in effect) a consumer tax.

VAT is paid on value added (the clue is in the name), which is similar to (but not the same as) gross profit - if you're not adding value, you won't stay in business very long. As a consultant, I have minimal outgoings to offset against my VATable earnings, so it certainly feels like a tax to me when I write out my cheque to HMRC every quarter.

Anyway, as Tim Worstall (late of this parish) would have pointed out, corporations (being merely a useful legal fiction) can never pay tax; it's always ultimately borne by people, whether customers, employees, suppliers or owners - there's no-one else.

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44m UK consumers on Equifax's books. How many pwned? Blighty eagerly awaits spex on the breach

Chris Miller
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Re: Crucifed

The class action lawyers (in the US) are already recruiting. This is going to cost Equifax a minimum of 9 digits.

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Brit aviation regulator is hiring a space 'n' drones manager

Chris Miller
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The UK is the second largest satellite manufacturer (after the US). So not too ridiculous.

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Retail serfs to vanish, all thanks to automation

Chris Miller
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Why should freight be carried from New York to Chicago by railroads when we could employ enormously more men, for example, to carry it all on their backs?

Economics in One Lesson - Henry Hazlitt

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Thousands of hornets swarm over innocent fire service drone

Chris Miller
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Re: Eek!

Hornets (the European ones found in the UK, anyway) are much less aggressive than wasps. They have little interest in your picnic sandwiches, either, their main food source being other insects.

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Argentina eyes up laser death cannon testbed warship

Chris Miller
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@Voland's RH

The Argentinians not having the capability to buy (or get as a present) the data from the Chinese, Russians or anyone else who keeps an eye on them from space.

If the Russians could spot submerged nuclear subs from a satellite, we'd have bigger problems than Argentina to worry about. But they can't. They can tell how many boats are in port (as can a tourist with a pair of binoculars), and that's about it.

At least at one point this year there was not - the Admiralty unintentionally leaked the fact by stating which one is in for repairs and which one is participating in various junkets (all away from there).

There are three commissioned RN nuclear hunter-killer submarines, with three more under construction in Barrow, and a seventh planned.

The problem with the Falklands in 1982 was that there was only a token military presence (a couple of dozen Royal Marines) and no way to reinforce by air (the runway being relatively short), allowing the Junta to calculate that they could quickly occupy the islands with minimal risk of casualties on either side. This is no longer the case.

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Dell's flagship XPS13 – a 2-in-1 that may fatally frustrate your fingers

Chris Miller
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Re: "Prices start at £1,299/US$999."

True, but when the exchange rate was ~£1=$1.50 IT kit was still (often) priced at $1=£1. 'Twas ever thus!

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Chris Miller
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"Prices start at £1,299/US$999."

I realise the £ has fallen against the $ (and one includes VAT and the other doesn't), but that's still a bit harsh!

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Headless body found near topless beach: Missing private sub journalist identified

Chris Miller
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If this were the plot of a Scandi-noir novel, it would be dismissed as ridiculously implausible.

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Disbanding your security team may not be an entirely dumb idea

Chris Miller
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Whether you call it "appetite for risk" or "tolerance of risk" is not a big deal. But the point is that this isn't (shouldn't be) a purely IT decision, because security is not purely an IT issue. Businesses exist in order to take (and share) risk - but how much risk they're prepared to take is a question that is ultimately for the owner(s) of the business to decide.

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Chris Miller
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It's never (well, hardly ever) the job of Security (or IT in general, for that matter) to say "No". It is their job to point out the costs and risks associated with a particular course of action. Given that there's no such thing as absolute security, security is always about managing risk. The appetite for risk varies greatly between different (and different types of) organisations, which is why 'one size fits all' security solutions are few and far between.

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NotPetya ransomware attack cost us $300m – shipping giant Maersk

Chris Miller
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"He says he learned that there was nothing that could have been done to stop the attack"

Because a thing seems difficult for you, do not think it impossible for anyone to accomplish.

Marcus Aurelius

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Google and its terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week in full

Chris Miller
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Re: Out of Date Discussion

IBM has had in various forms an active and successful policy of employing and promoting strictly on merit since the 1920s

The argument is not about whether such a policy is a good idea, but whether you look at a resultant situation where there is a significant disparity in male:female ratios and conclude that therefore we are not promoting strictly on merit and must apply different criteria to male and female candidates in order to rectify the perceived discrimination.

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If we're in a simulation, someone hit it with a hammer, please: Milky Way spews up to 100 MEELLLION black holes

Chris Miller
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Re: Quid of dark matter then ?

Should have added that there's been a lot of searching (looking for transient gravitational lensing events) for MACHOs (MAssive Compact Halo Objects) with largely negative results. This would be much more likely to find brown dwarf sized objects rather than black holes (simply because there'd be a lot more of them). Which is why the dark matter search remains focused on WIMPs (Weakly Interacting Massive Particles), but with no more success :).

Anyway, these putative (this is only a computer simulation, no-one's actually found any!) black holes would, as stellar remnants, be mostly within the disk of the Milky Way; which isn't where the dark matter needs to be in order to account for the observed anomalies in galactic rotation rates (it would need to be in a halo surrounding the galaxy).

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Chris Miller
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Re: Quid of dark matter then ?

Not really. Mass of Milky Way ~6x1011 solar masses, so even a billion solar masses in black holes is less than a rounding error. If dark matter exists (and it's not a failure of understanding of how gravity works at very large scales), there's more than 5x as much of it as there is baryonic matter.

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Chess champ Kasparov, for one, welcomes our new robot overlords

Chris Miller
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Kasparov ... was creamed by IBM’s Deep Blue computer in 1997

He beat Deep Blue 4-2 in 1996, and then lost to a version with improved software a year later (2½-3½). I wouldn't call that being 'creamed', particularly as IBM refused a third match (probably on cost grounds).

Kasparov later said (IIRC) that he would have needed a different technique to play against a computer. Playing a human, a good chess player will think along the lines of "it appears my opponent is trying to develop his queen's bishop, but I can block that if I advance this pawn ..."; but that doesn't work as well against a computer, which doesn't have a 'plan', but has just scanned through a lengthy series of all possible moves and identified the strongest.

Apart from that, a genuinely 'strong' AI that could play chess well could also be taught to bake a cake or change a baby within a couple of hours. We're still a minimum of decades away from such a machine.

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Astroboffins discover that half of the Milky Way's matter comes from other galaxies

Chris Miller
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Re: Given that no matter to speak of ...

All matter and energy was once contained within the 'big bang', as was all our space-time, so it's correct (or at least, not wrong) to say that the big bang occurred within the local galaxy (and within your living room, too). All of the hydrogen and most of the helium we now observe was a product of the big bang (some helium has been created in thermonuclear processes within stars, and some is the result of nuclear decay of heavy elements created in supernovae) as was some of the lithium. The observed ratios of these elements in the universe provides strong evidence for the existence of an initial big bang.

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Wisconsin badgers Apple to cough up half a BEEELLION dollars for ripping off chip designs

Chris Miller
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Re: ICAN has Cheese?

Wisconsin = America's Dairyland

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Chris Miller
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Wisconsin court rules in favour of Wisconsin U

#holdthefrontpage

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An 'AI' that can diagnose schizophrenia from a brain scan – here's how it works (or doesn't)

Chris Miller
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74% is a level of accuracy most human psychiatrists can only dream of reaching. (They'll never admit this, of course, because they're 'in denial'.)

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Cyber arm of UK spy agency left without PGP for four months

Chris Miller
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Re: "without PGP"

Yes. I'm probably just missing something obvious, but I can see how you can mess up PGP (accidentally deleting your private key, for example), but not why it would take 4.5 months to correct the error.

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Guess who doesn't have to pay $1.3bn in back taxes? Of course it's fscking Google

Chris Miller
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Re: Ok, so France can't claim the tax cash

Some of it is paid in Ireland, who are often chosen by multinationals as their European HQ (which in EU law they are required to have) because their CT rate is relatively low (see also Luxembourg). But international tax treaties imply that taxes on profits are due where the profits are made - and in the case of Google, it's hard to see that the bulk of their profits are not generated in California.

The US (and California in particular) has one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world, but it becomes payable only when the money is repatriated. This is why Apple, Google etc have vast piles of cash sitting in 'tax havens' in the Caribbean - they're waiting for a US government to reduce the corporate tax rate to something closer to the global average, a change that the Donald has promised to make.

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Chris Miller
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Re: Basic accountancy problem

Corporate (and to a large extent personal taxes such as VAT - hence the arguments about 'tampon tax') are standardised by the EU, but the rates at which they are charged are (within limits) still the decisions of individual countries. The EU has created competition between countries to keep a downward pressure on corporate taxes, partly because (economically speaking) these are a relatively inefficient means of raising government revenues.

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Astroboffins spot tiniest star yet – we guess you could call it... small fry

Chris Miller
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Re: Hmmn.. interesting..

the densest that matter can get short of being crushed into neutronium

White dwarf (degenerate) matter is ~1,000,000x density of water. They're much more massive than this object, of course.

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Chris Miller
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Re: "then you're also telling me it has a density 144 times that of the Sun, "

To answer my own question, yes you can get a density 193x water from a tiny red dwarf. There's little radiation pressure to expand the size, as would happen with a larger star. So you get the apparently contradictory result of an object smaller than Jupiter, but 80x more massive; while having a similar composition.

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Chris Miller
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Re: "then you're also telling me it has a density 144 times that of the Sun, "

It may not have a composition identical to that of the sun, but if it's evolved in place as a red dwarf it must be hydrogen and helium (with just a trace of what astronomers call 'metals'), as it's far too small to fuse helium. So a density more than 100x greater is hard to explain. Unless it's some sort of stellar remnant from a much larger object?

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Mappy days! Ordnance Survey offers up free map of UK greenery

Chris Miller
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We've got two 'adjoining commons' near me (in the Chilterns). One is shown as a 'green space', the other isn't. I think most people would struggle to tell when they cross from one into the other.

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Multics resurrected: Proto-Unix now runs on Raspberry Pi or x86

Chris Miller
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The first commercial mainframes I worked on (in the 70s) were Honeywell 36-bit machines running GCOS (originally GECOS for General Electric). They also had the ability to run Multics (and we had the manuals), but there was no commercial software (such as COBOL compilers) available for it.

All customers got the source code for the OS - it was on microfiche. This enabled you to write and implement your own patches, which we did. I think some universities ran Multics, but whether they got the source code, I can't say.

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On the couch with an AI robo-doc asking me personal questions

Chris Miller
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All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That’s his.

OFOW Wilde

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Boffins with frickin' laser beams chase universe's mysterious trihydrogen

Chris Miller
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H2 + H2+ → H3+ + e

doesn't balance either for hydrogen or charge

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Extreme trainspotting on Britain's highest (and windiest) railway

Chris Miller
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Re: Choo Choo!

Bringing a new station, that's 15 minutes from any onward rail connections, in Birmingham 20 minutes closer to London is essential for London.

FTFY

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Constant work makes the kilo walk the Planck

Chris Miller
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Re: "discovering an increased value for Planck's constant"

In theory, yes, but an adjustment of a few parts per billion won't affect very much. Many other key cosmological values are know only approximately - Hubble's 'constant' to just two significant figures, for example.

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Humanity is doomed: We watch 45 BILLION hours of YouTube a month

Chris Miller
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Re: In all Fairness

TV in the uk is crap.

I can't disagree (and getting worse), but it's still pure gold compared to anywhere else in the world (that I've visited, at least).

I also agree that there's plenty of useful stuff on YouTube, it's not just cat videos. I have three webcams streamed via YouTube running more or less continually while my PC is on, so that's several thousand hours a year of 'watching', right there.

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