* Posts by John Robson

1754 posts • joined 19 May 2008

Amazon tweaks so-called 'assisted suicide' publishing contracts to ink EU deal

John Robson
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Re: A Monopsonist is...

And when you are the middle man you do both. The dominance is in their retail arm, but that means that they buy more books than pretty much anyone else.

So the description is reasonable (when talking about the relationship amazon have with the publishers).

Of course you could argue (as does the linked article) that the description is unreasonable for other reasons.

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US Navy developers test aircraft carrier drone control software

John Robson
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Really??

"The drone is specifically being developed to be resistant to hackers, according to the USN"

As opposed to every other computer system in the world where resistance to hacking is optional?

(I discount IoT devices for good reasons)

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SpaceX spin-out plans to put virtual machines in orbit

John Robson
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Aren't most satellites designed around specific sensor packages?

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M6 crowned crappiest motorway for 4G signal

John Robson
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My Sat-Nav doesn't need 4G...

3G is fine...

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Homebrew crypto SNAFU on electrical grid sees GE rush patches

John Robson
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"what about Windows service accounts who's passwords never change or passwords of last resort that never change (only useable once central authentication system is unreachable) there are some use cases where hard coded password is the only option, but admin process should change that password on regular basis."

Passwords of last resort don't need regular rotation - the account wants monitoring for login attempts, but the password of last resort is presumably a) horrific and b) printed on two pieces of paper, each held in a safe in separate locations...

Why rotate an unused password - no-one can be getting it by key logger... And the login rate (failed and successful) can easily be monitored

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IT error at Great Western Railway charging £10k for 63-mile journey ticket

John Robson
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Re: small city

This does not make it a University, in my opinion, so Taunton does not qualify as a city.

A city needs a royal designation saying it's a city - nothing more, nothing less...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/City_status_in_the_United_Kingdom

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Tesla hit by class action sueball over autopilot software updates

John Robson
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Because even the initial versions we are working with now are better at driving than you are...

The most dangerous thing on the road is the nut behind the wheel - that's what we need to get rid of...

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Worry not, Python devs – you can program a quantum computer

John Robson
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Re: Schrodinger's bank account

Or maybe they just want to able to do encryption once the quantum cat is out of the proverbial bag/box

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Why do GUIs jump around like a demented terrier while starting up? Am I on my own?

John Robson
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Re: Zombie hard disk

Slow doesn't help people who can touch type, and so are reading a document off to one side, typing away merrily only to find that some shitty app has decided to tonoffer a reboot, with the yes button as default

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John Robson
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Re: Zombie hard disk

>> How about a blanket OS rule that shit apps can't grab focus unless the last user command was to launch that app?

>I've written software that needs to grab focus (yeah we all claim that). In my case, it is in response to a biometric hardware events​,

So that's a user command, it's just not a mouse/keyboard command.

Rule not violated (in fact it is supported).

Anything that want my attention can send a terminal bell, which can be represented by some audio and/or visual representation of a toddler.

Flash the task bar button, IIRC MacOS does it by bouncing items in the dock.

The PC speaker beep used to be a good option, but I'm not convinced they even exist any more on many machines...

In any case the OS can have the appropriate response configured.

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John Robson
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Re: Microsoft time

"I'm curious - what's the longest "X hours remaining" any of you folk have seen Windows display?"

Sufficiently long that I was pretty confident the the HDD would die before the transfer completed is MS was to be believed (it was several decades, but is now so long ago (hey it might have finished) that I genuinely cannot remember exactly how ridiculous it got)

(This would have been with Win95, maybe 98, with thin coax)

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SpaceX wows world with a ho-hum launch of a reused rocket, landing it on a tiny boring barge

John Robson
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Re: Question: How many engines does....

Camera at top of first stage, grid fins below, then legs (neatly folded until seconds before hitting the deck) then fire breathing equipment.

First stage returns with the business end still pointing down

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John Robson
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Re: Kerbal Space Program

I still want them to produce an 'alternative' stream with the KSP interface to show the numbers...

NAV ball, and Kerbal Engineer stats etc...

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Cheap, flimsy, breakable and replaceable – yup, Ikea, you'll be right at home in the IoT world

John Robson
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Re: If the lights can dim properly....

"Thats an issue with both the dimmer and the bulb."

And when the LED claims to be dimmable, and the dimmer module claims to be LED compatible it's a problem with the manufacturers.

And I'm wondering whether letting lamps do their own dimming isn't that bad an idea.

The issue will always be the comms... I still think that with LEDs we should be doing lighting over Cat5...

PoE and control signals from the same place, all cabled, all simple.

Only works in new builds or major refurbs though...

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John Robson
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Re: If the lights can dim properly....

But dimmers sold as 'LED compatible' really ought to be able to manage it...

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John Robson
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If the lights can dim properly....

Then I might be tempted. I only really need it for the kids' bedroom mind...

Although the hall might not be a bad idea.

Having gone fully LED throughout the house there is an issue that even 'LED specific' dimmer switches don't actually dim LEDs very far. If these lights can actually run properly low level, then I can forgive them a lot.

Plonk the ZigBee gateway on a Sewer VLAN...

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One in five mobile phones shipped abroad are phoney – report

John Robson
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Define abroad...

Abroad from where exactly?

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People may have been wrongly sent back to prison over faulty tags

John Robson
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Re: So it is unlikely that a first tamper on its own will result in an offender being recalled

"Hopefully the compensation the victims get for unlawful imprisonment will come from G4S profits, not the public purse ?"

Hopefully it will be accompanied by the CEO of G4S, being sent down for the duration of wrongful imprisonment of each person who was so affected.

Possibly we should order the durations longest first, then the employees of G4s by salary (highest first) and apply the 'sentences' imposed in that order.

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Douglas Coupland: The average IQ is now 103 and the present is melting into the future

John Robson
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"I think IQ of 100 is determined by the median of the test scores. It could depend on what you mean by "average"..."

IIRC IQ scores conform pretty accurately to a normal distribution curve - so you expect median, mode and mean to be the same.

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UK Home Sec: Give us a snoop-around for WhatApp encryption. Don't worry, we won't go into the cloud

John Robson
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Re: perhaps itself encrypted with a key known only to law enforcement

"The argument levelled against "backdooring" is that it opens the door for everyone, not just law enforcement, and I am saying that is simply not the case here.

"

I'm sorry - any key with access to that much data will leak.

You might be better off suggesting that a messaging provider sets up proper encryption, but that by default it copies all messages directly to GCHQ. At least there would be a shred of honesty in there.

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Trump's America looks like a lousy launchpad, so can you dig Darwin?

John Robson
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You also need a reasonable body of unoccupied territory (an ocean does quite well for this) in the direction of launch...

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John Robson
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Re: Fuel + oxidizer = thrust

http://library.sciencemadness.org/library/books/ignition.pdf

Brilliant book - sufficiently technical to be interesting, but with enough back story and humour (which seems to have been a requirement of those working the industry) to make it a good read if you can't deal with the chemistry.

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Good news, everyone! Two pints a day keep heart problems at bay

John Robson
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Re: Cider!

Only one of your five can be in the form of juice IIRC.

Sorry...

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John Robson
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I note that the gap...

... between 'occasional' and 'moderate' is very narrow indeed.

Makes a more interesting comparison for most of us I suggest.

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Coppers 'persistently' breach data protection laws with police tech

John Robson
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>> but are told if you need to be wary.

>This would be a good way to ensure that no-one who has been convicted of a serious offence is

>considered to have paid off their debt to society. It is also a great way to increase the likelihood that

>the offender will commit further crimes.

>If you can't see how that works, please do sit down and think it through.

Or maybe the 'be wary' flag could expire when the conviction is spent?

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Git sprints carefully towards SHA-1 deprecation

John Robson
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To all those saying bah to the concept of dual hashing...

The idea is that you reduce the target to the area of changes which collide in BOTH MD5 and SHA1 (other hashes are available). And that collision also has to make sense in terms of being a file - hopefully of the expected type.

The odds do 'only' go down. But they've only ever been 'long odds' - so making them longer is exactly what we are trying to do...

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Judge issues search warrant for anyone who Googled a victim's name

John Robson
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Re: I think we should be told...

My first thought too, but there is a limitation of the time of query - so we'd need to have done it in the past :(

Spoilsports with their narrow warrant ;)

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Manchester college swaps out disk for rackful of hybrid flash

John Robson
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My thought exactly - I suspect they used to over provision capacity in order to be able to use more spindles for performance reasons.

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Van Allen surprise: fewer nasty particles than NASA expected

John Robson
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Re: "Houston...we have a problem"

No - those astronauts were exposed to about as much radiation as an abdominal/pelvic CAT scan...

However the computers they had were slightly less radiation susceptible than the current generation...

Amy did a video only this week:

YouTube Link (Video ID: bLtgS2_qxJk)

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Headphone batteries flame out mid-flight, ignite new Li-Ion fears

John Robson
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Re: Water

"They poured a bucket of water on what was suspected to be a lithium fire?"

No - they put a known *lithium-ion* battery fire into a bucket of water.

Which is exactly the right thing to do. Lots of lovely heat absorbing water all around the get the temperature down and stop the reaction.

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UK to block Kodi pirates in real-time: Saturday kick-off

John Robson
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Re: I take 2 things from this.

Unfortunately I think the *next* season starts in April :(

Countdown to proxy shift and VPN access in 5..4..3..2..

Not entirely sure that nearly two hours counts as 'a few minutes'

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BBC hooks up with ITV, launches long awaited US subscription VoD

John Robson
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Re: Please....

"You may also wish to register a complaint with ITV directly about this.

Unless you're on a terrible access network, somewhere rural or on a saturated ADSL, there's no real reason you shouldn't be able to watch live linear content in pseudo HD."

I did..

There is no reason at all... except that they don't support streaming in more than SD (their words when I complained).

My connection is pretty good (~76Mb/s by 17Mb/s), and I virtually never have an issue with iPlayer (certainly not one I've noticed during the rugby - the kids occasionally have to wait a second or two for an on demand show to start).

I'm pretty confident the issue isn't at my end - it's their abysmal streaming platform.

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John Robson
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Please....

Let the use iPlayer tech, not ITV.

How do ITV get away with calling ITV hub anything other than a complete technical failure.

It's sufficiently low quality (they claim SD, but I doubt it qualifies as that) that aside from just dropping out on Saturday I couldn't actually tell which big square smudge on the screen was the rugby ball...

iPlayer manages pretty much flawless HD from the same fixtures - it's entirely achievable...

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What went up, Musk come down again: SpaceX to blast sat into orbit with used rocket

John Robson
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In case of accident and to have hardware available for debugging in twenty years time

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Shopping for PCs? Ding, dong, the Dock is dead in 2017's new models

John Robson
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Re: Or we can read this as

50% - I swear I get USB ports wrong 75% of the time.

Out of the two possible orientations it's normally the 3rd or 4th attempt that sees them connect.

The exception is in the office, where I have a USB connector with tape marking 'UP'

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Controversial opinion alert: Privacy and the public cloud – not just possible, but easy

John Robson
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Why...

Are we not distributing public keys (for everything, crypto and authentication) over DNSSEC?

It's not as if this is a new problem - is it?

Key rotation and replacement becomes a simple job for the person receiving the data - distribution is handled automatically.

Have a reverse lookup of the key with a flag to indicate key revocation before the expiry date.

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Raspberry Pi gives us all new 'Pi Zero W' for its fifth birthday

John Robson
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Re: Android Things?

You can have kettles with water storage...

So all you need to do is leave a cup and teabag on the tray - and trigger the 'boil 250ml water' command.

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John Robson
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I might have to get one - with the camera connector as well now...

That makes me happy...

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$310m AWS S3-izure: Why everyone put their eggs in one region

John Robson
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Re: "companies should consider building redundancy into their cloud instances "

"A cursory glance at the documentation would have educated you. I don't see how you making incorrect assumptions because you haven't done the most basic research is AWS's fault."

Why would I do that research - I don't run anything there.

I kind of expect large cloud providers to do sane things with customer data...

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Smart meter firm EDMI asked UK for £7m to change a single component

John Robson
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Re: Really smart meter?

If it could do load shedding/scheduling then I could justify it.

But it doesn't need a meter - I could simply plug in my washing machine through a plug that can schedule the load...

If I had an electric car then it could be scheduled as well (I just say when I need it charged - the next morning)

I can't do that as easily with the dryer because it's more important that I know when it's stopped.

I can't do that with the freezer - because food safety.

No-one can do that with a kettle/toaster/cooker because they are needed at the time they are needed.

Without load shedding/scheduling there is no significant benefit to the network - there is no chance that these meters will take less energy than the current breed of meter.

So how are they saving energy? They're not.

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TWO BILLION PCs to sell in next five years

John Robson
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Re: The market is saturated

"(50 W all the time is 12 kWh a day)"

I make that 1.2kWh/day, rather than 12kWh/day - so about 15p/day (12p/unit and rounding)

That's over £50/year

So a watt of saving is about a pound a year - that ended up at neat, easy figures...

Hmm, I just paid a few quid extra for a 'low power' HDD.

It'll sit in the server, running all the time for the next few years - at what point will my decision have paid off...

Assume it is 2W less consumption (what the specs say) - it's £2/year that I save, so it will take 2-3 years to pay me back.

Most of the HDDs in my house are significantly older than this one, and significantly smaller as well. I suspect that a I fill up this server with another three similar disks (probably not from the same manufacturer - diversity is good) that I can retire many of those smaller disks.

Those savings will be larger of course. I can take three old HDDs (maybe 8W each) and replace them with a single low power disk at 4W - 20W saved is £20/year...

That almost makes sense, 4 years and I have one disk that is less old than the TB disks I have are at the moment..

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John Robson
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Re: The market is saturated

"Well, she's nine years old now my dear workstation and I will shed tears when this old dual quad core baby goes down and I can't fix it! Keep them cool, they live longer."

At some point does the extra energy consumed by the older hardware outweigh the capital cost of replacing it with a lower energy version from a more recent architecture?

That point may well be further away than we'd care to admit of course...

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Your next PC is… your 'Droid? Remix unveils Continuum-killer

John Robson
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Re: I remember when I pointed this out last year

Heck - I said it 10+ years ago.

I had an XDA mini S at the time.

A colleague and I envisaged a block about the size of a pack of cards which had a few essential connectors (power/USB/ethernet/vga <- feel free to update all of these to a single USB-C nowadays), 3G, WiFi, decent battery... and then you would have a remote display/audio device which would connect over bluetooth and use the mobile signal from there. You could dock it at your desk and work on it, you could have a portable screen/keyboard to use with it when out and about.

It's not far off, except that the form factor has been rolled out, and a screen has been added where we didn't see the technology being ready (and it wasn't).

USB-C is actually a pretty good answer to the issues the design faced (because those ports were annoying but absolutely necessary in our eyes, nothing proprietary).

Current phone specs (sum of core speeds shown):

16Ghz (8*2) A53, 3GB RAM, 32Flash, 2TB removable (keyONE)

7.9GHz, 6GB RAM, 128GB Flash (OnePlus 3T)

7.5GHz, 4GB RAM, 128GB Flash 2TB removable (LG V20)

Those are ridiculous spec machines - yes you'll want a USB-C connector and the ability to drive a couple of screens from it, you'll want your multi TB raid array hooked in at the same time...

But do we seriously think that 99% of tasks couldn't be done on the above.

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Git fscked by SHA-1 collision? Not so fast, says Linus Torvalds

John Robson
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Re: Lifetime of Hash Algorithms

So yes, a small visible difference. Sufficient to turn a "site licence" into a "named user licence".

Particularly if those are check boxes on a list...

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Bring it BACK... with MODs! Psion 5 storms great tech revival poll

John Robson
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Re: I suspect that the linux/android question is a bit false...

I'd rather have a stand a bit further away than the keyboard personally. Having them together makes them pocketable, but given the power of a modern phone, and it's screen....

Why not push it a bit further away and have a better gap between the two. You don't put a monitor right up against a keyboard unless you have no choice (laptop).

Pop a decent foldable BT keyboard in a pocket - it's a compromise, but less of one than carrying a phone and a Psion5 imho

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John Robson
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I suspect that the linux/android question is a bit false...

Could easily allow either - particularly since the 5mx had a CF card slot anyway...

Personally I'd be happy to have a 'long AA' modern rechargeable pack as an option to improve capacity over a pair of AAs - but that's clearly a reasonably place for the battery.

A Pi Zero, or do we wait for the PiZero+? class hardware inside, with what effectively amounts to a pair of iPhone3 class screens would be a pretty nice bit of kit.

But all of that requires power. If it did bluetooth&3.5mm headset and mobile capability then it would easily replace the device everyone uses nowadays...

I have a folding bluetooth keyboard that is *almost* as good as the Psion 5mx (which I used to use to take lecture notes at uni - brilliant to be able to sribble the equations in with the stylus). And frankly that's what the Psion5 had that most modern devices don't.

So whilst I have a nostalgic 'that's be great' I also have a realistic - but why not just make a decent compact bluetooth keyboard?

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Intel scales Atom to 16 cores, updates Xeon SoCs

John Robson
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Re: Intel scales Atom to 16 cores

Since it's now a '3000' one assume it will take 27 months to die. I doubt the increased core count will bring that down again...

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Amid new push to make Pluto a planet again... Get over it, ice-world's assassin tells El Reg

John Robson
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I presume it's a Very early sandwich?

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Netflix treats security ills with Stethoscope: Open-source self-probing tool

John Robson
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Re: Sounds a bit involved but...

I read it as employee devices...

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Cancel your cloud panic: At $122bn it's just 5% of all IT spend

John Robson
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Does this count Amazon...

spending stuff on real hardware to supply the cloud as cloud spend or as 'real' spend?

Because if the latter then surely cloud spend will never achieve 50% (or people are making a loss)

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