* Posts by Michael H.F. Wilkinson

3349 posts • joined 24 Apr 2007

Kids' tech skills go backwards thanks to tablets and smartmobes

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

There is hope yet

Enter the Arduino

My eldest (who loves his tablets and smartphones) is now in second year of secondary school, and in his research and design class was introduced to an Arduino, and had to do some basic programming on it, wiring up and controlling traffic lights and the like. He was totally captivated by it! That is the way to teach understanding and stimulate fascination at a young age. I want to go to that school and hug the teacher.

At home I showed him a little Arduino set-up programmed to play "pong" by some first-year students of mine, as part of the course Introduction to Computing Science. Both he and his younger brother found this totally cool. So for Xmas my eldest wants an Arduino set. Guess what he is going to get (and I might get one for myself as well)

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Astronomers catch first sighting of a planet's birth pangs

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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I checked the original paper and it is indeed 450 light years. It is quite easy to see further into the past. Even naked eye you can see the Andromeda Galaxy at 2.5 million light years, and Edwin Hubble could already study individual stars in it from earth. Furthest I have managed so far with my 8" scope is 3.5 billion light years (blazar OJ-287). Odd to think those photons exciting my retina (and brain) left the source 3/4 of the age of Earth ago.

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Microsoft chief Satya drops an S bomb in Windows 10, cloud talk

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Newspeak from Nadella?

I do not seem to be able to understand his use of the words "privacy" and "trust", given the way Windows 10 works

I am consequently looking hard for replacements for those few programs I still have to run under Windows (8.1, 10 will not be installed). I have used both Windows and Linux for a long time, and never liked the "OS wars" because I just want an OS that works, and I can trust. It seems I am now forced to make a choice for just one OS.

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Symantec's salvation plan is more and better integration. No, really

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Coat

Re: Contradictions?

Maybe the balance he was talking about his bank balance.

Sorry, couldn't resist, I'd better be going

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French Playmobil heist: El Reg denies involvement

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Mushroom

Re: Perhaps time for a change of format?

lego?

LEGO!!!

HERESY!!!!!!!

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Aircraft laser strikes hit new record with 20 incidents in one night

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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"Putting the laser where the sun doesn't shine" is the phrase that somehow springs to mind. Can't think why. Of course, it is the perpetrator's minds in need of illumination, not their lower intestines

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Now we know why Philae phouled up comet landing

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Pint

I will be looking forward to the last stages

of this epic project.

Well done those boffins!

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Got a time machine? Good, you can brute-force 2FA

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Re: This might be useful

Some banks don't seem to know what century it is

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GCHQ director blasts free market, says UK must be 'sovereign cryptographic nation'

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Black Helicopters

So what if you encrypt in such a way that password A gives access to some innocuous data (maybe embarrassing enough, or personal enough to want to encrypt, but nothing illegal), and password B (possibly in combination with A) gives access to the real deal. If you hand over password A, could law enforcement know about the extra payload, especially if the payload has a limited number of bits compared to the other content?

The above scheme is hardly rocket science (or even computer science for that matter, more like a simple form of steganography). If I can think of a way of circumventing a law requiring me to hand over passwords in 60 seconds, so can many others. This does make me feel that laws like that are either simply ill though through, or just a matter of lots of sound and fury to show people the government is taking ACTION!!!!! whilst signifying nothing in real terms. Could be both, of course.

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Rasputin?

"Rasputin, bring hither the skindiving suit with the bottom cut out and unleash the rampant Wildebeest"!

Shouldn't that be Igor?

Yeth, Marthter!!

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Glowing dust doughnut circles white dwarf

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Radii confusion

Actually, the Doppler tomograph shows the velocities of the materials in different directions. Faster things (further away from centre) are objects in a tighter orbit. Hence the remark of an "inside out" image.

Thumbs up to the astroboffins for capturing all this detail

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Ice volcanoes just part of Plutonic pandemonium

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Thumb Up

Fascinating stuff

Really great work by the New Horizons team

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Space fans eye launch of Lego Saturn V

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Thumb Up

Count me in!

I grew up worshipping the astronauts (and cosmonauts, when we did get the news of them) as heroes. I successfully nagged at my parents to allow me to stay up late to see the first moon landing live on our old B&W tele.

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Sun of a b... Solar winds blamed for ripping away Mars' atmosphere

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Easy!

Send all the politicians, they tend to generate LOTS of hot air. Pulling together they should be able to regenerate an atmosphere in no time. It might be a nasty atmosphere, given the source, but at least it's an atmosphere

Bit like the B-Ark idea, only without the telephone sanitizers

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UK cyber-spy law takes Snowden's revelations of mass surveillance – and sets them in stone

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Boffin

I have said it once, I will say it AGAIN

Three words:

One .... Time ... Pad

To explain to the apparently hard of hearing (i.e. those in government): If people REALLY want to encrypt, they can, and NOBODY can even tell it is an encrypted message, not just a load of digitized line noise. Hide the line noise in a cat video and only those who know which one it is, and what pad to use can decrypt. GCHQ knows this, the NSA knows this.

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Music lovers move to block Phil Collins' rebirth

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Not my music but ...

I remember Alexei Sayle stating German scientists had discovered the gene that turns you off pop music at the precise age of 37.5

Still like some modern music, but I do sound more like me mum these days

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Linus Torvalds fires off angry 'compiler-masturbation' rant

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Coat

Re: Goto vs Break

Come on you guys, give goto a break

Sorry, couldn't resist. I'll get my coat. The one with that Kernighan and Ritchie book in the pocket please

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Linus looses Linux 4.3 on a waiting world

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Confusion can be a real problem. Confusing the order "loose the dogs" with "lose the dogs" could have bad consequences for the canine companions, especially in certain shady circles

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How Microsoft will cram Windows 10 even harder down your PC's throat early next year

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Coat

Re: Stonehenge

Nah, all the Druids know it is far easier to build a new 64 MegaLith computer than upgrading the old one

Doffs hat to the late great Terry Prattchet

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Safe Harbor 2.0: Judges to keep NSA spying in check – EU justice boss

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Meh

Somehow ....

I am not impressed. Can't think why

</sarcasm>

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Black Helicopters

Re: And??

"I am sorry, Dave, I am afraid I can't tell you that."

Where is that HAL9000 icon when you need it?

Oh well, black chopper then

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Ex-Microsoft craft ale buffs rattle tankard for desktop brewery

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Pint

Re: It looks like you're trying to get pissed...

Nah, I have plenty of experience

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'Govt will not pass laws to ban encryption' – Baroness Shields

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Big Brother

So how do you distinguish REALLY good encryption from noise?

now where did that one-time pad go?

Trotting out the security excuse is getting tiresome. You fundamentally cannot be free without an element of risk being present, just as a democracy cannot function if there is no guarantee of privacy at some level (the election booth at minimum).

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Brit boffins build 'tractor beam' out of sound

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy

well obviously the sargent shouts

but the grunts to the moving

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

There is some prior art for single sided emitters moving things

Brian Blessed can move things with sound, especially people, many of whom move away with alacrity.

Joking aside, this is a very interesting development, and well done to the acousto-boffins! This might also be an interesting project to simulate for our students. I'll give the paper a thorough read

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Mutant space germs threaten International Space Station

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Boffin

Opportunistic pathogens

are simply bacteria that are harmless under most circumstances, and happily coexist with us on our skin or in our bowels. Only when there is serious suppression of the immune system can they become a problem (i.e. when there is an opportunity). It should come as no surprise that these creatures were found, and I would go along with the advice on the cover of the book

"What book?"

"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy"

"Oh, that hack rag"

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Anons blow Japanese airports off-course in dolphin cull protest

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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At some point the dolphins will just be gone

and we will find in our inboxes the message:

So long, and thanks for all the fish!

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'Death star' reaches out invisible hand, rips planet apart

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Very interesting

Makes you wonder what fireworks would go of if the planet (or its remains) finally nosedive into the white dwarf

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Don't Panic: Even if asteroid showers cause mass extinctions ...

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Joke

We really, really

need to invent slood!

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Elderly? Disabled? You clearly need a .38" Palm Pistol

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Joke

Vimes is going to go spare!!

This reminds me of the pistol crossbow from The Fifth Elephant: the one shot nobody expects. Given the short barrel you would almost need to press it against somebody to be sure of hitting him. At zero mm range, almost any ammo can cause severe damage. As such you might go along with Vimes' conclusion that it is a weapon designed to kill, not to deter, as a more fire-arm shaped object might. No doubt, if he found it, he would insert it where the sun doesn't shine.

No doubt various secret services who might find such an object useful have more Q-esque versions readily available

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Re: Second Time's A Charm?

I thought they were Holy Hand Grenades? Those should be booked under clerical supplies, shouldn't they

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India's mobile operators move to head off dropped-call refunds

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy

Re: The old microwave trick

<Clouseau accent>

Ah, the old Faraday cage ploy!

</Clouseau accent>

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Lead lined?

Silver or copper would shield just that little bit better than lead (better conductivity), unless Indian Telcos use X-rays or gamma rays for communication, which would explain dropped calls: people dropping dead at the other end

</pedantry> ;-)

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Nippy, palaver and cockwomble: Greatest words in English?

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Wainscotting

Which does sound like a village in Dorset

I also rather like Terry Pratchett's use of the word "preventative" for a condom. So much better than "preservative" (which I still don't get)

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Microsoft now awfully pushy with Windows 10 on Win 7, 8 PCs – Reg readers hit back

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Hardware support/drivers

Don't get me started. Windows 2000 didn't support a bog-standard S3-based graphics card from a well-known vendor made in 1999(!). In did support my considerably older Matrox Millenium card, fortunately.

I thought I had blocked the Win10 nagware on our main home desktop PC, but it has started nagging again. I will see what I can do about that

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NASA preps test of broadband-from-spaaaaace project

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Joke

Given that this laser system is so compact

Can it be put on a frickin' shark?

Sorry, couldn't resist

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Man goes to collect stolen-car court docs found in stolen car in stolen car

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Facepalm

Clearly from the shallow end of the gene pool

Doh! indeed

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Factory settings FAIL: Data easily recovered from eBayed smartphones, disks

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Mushroom

Re: Re. Microwave

Alternatively, when disposing of larger quantities, use a flame thrower, and say:"I love the smell of napalm in the morning" for the sake of style.

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US Treasury: How did ISIS get your trucks? Toyota: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Mushroom

Maybe, just maybe

these heavily armed people used coercion to obtain these vehicles

"Nice showroom you have there, would be such a shame if someone blew it up" (hence icon)

certainly an option worth considering

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Australian boffins say Quantum Pentiums are on the horizon

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Joke

So a quantum breakthrough

is a superposition of success and failure

Until observed consciously, of course!

More seriously: well done to the Ozzy boffins!

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Beard transplants up 600% for men 'lacking length elsewhere'

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

A modest proposal for another potential use of beard transplants

They could have been popular back in the days of Brian of Nazareth

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Coat

Re: Shave every day?

11) Bearded men are incessantly approached by improbable researchers to test feline reactions to them

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Re: Shaved my beard yesterday.

Don't look at me, I never get a cut of that money

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Ubuntu 15.10: More kitten than beast – but beware the claws

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Coat

I always thought

Wile E. was a coyote, not a werewolf

I'll get me coat. The one with the Roadrunner cartoons in the pocket please

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Mars water discovery is a liberal-muslim plot, cry moist conspiracy theorists

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Joke

Re: Someone's lift... @Grikath

We STILL need to invent slood before we can make any headway

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The Steve Jobs of supercomputers: We remember Seymour Cray

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Happy days

Same here. My first programming was on a CDC 7600 and much later did loads more serious work on the J932 and SV1e. Cray didn't just provide good hardware, but also cracking good compilers. They could recognize just about the most obfusticated bunch of for-loops as a matrix multiplication and replace the code by some optimized routine from their library. What I really liked about both the SV1e and J932 is how these shared-memory machines managed to attain an average performance of roughly 2/3rds of the theoretical peak. Some really nifty scheduling going on, which is VERY hard to accomplish on clusters.

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

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Thumb Up

Absolutely classic episode!

Simon is on form

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Anthropology boffins solve 9,000-year-old headless body cold case

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Coat

Re: Post-mortem decapitation

Maybe their coffins were just not quite long enough

Sorry, I'll get me coat

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Boffins make brain-to-brain direct communication breakthrough

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Just "yes" and "no" can go a long way

After all, that's just binary. Send enough bits, and you can encode anything. OK, bitrate might be a tad low, but hey, just overclock the brain!

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Our cookies save you from TERRORISTS, Facebook thunders to Belgian judge

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Mushroom

And people still wonder

why I do not do Facebook.

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