* Posts by I ain't Spartacus

5810 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009

HMS Windows XP: Britain's newest warship running Swiss Cheese OS

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Re: It doesn't surprise me that they are using XP if the alternative is cloud-based

Why can't they use cloud services? They've got lots of aeroplanes - so getting to the clouds should be easy-peasy!

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Re: Old Fashioned

Fizzle,

All military kit is old fashioned. As the chappie said, you order this stuff 10-20 years before you get it. Often from a spec that was mostly written before that. Every time you try to change that spec during the build process, the price goes up and the delivery time gets further away. So you tend to plan regular upgrades instead, and deal with the problem while the unit is in service.

So for example, Lewis Page of this parish spent many a happy article complaining about the Eurofighter Typhoon. But the design work for that started sometime in the 70s - where they were trying to guess what aircraft the Soviet Union would be operating by the 1990s, and then build something to be capable of dealing with them. The design work got serious in the 80s, and it was ordered by the mid-80s, just in time for the Cold War to be about to end. At which point who needed a pure air superiority fighter?

But cancelling it meant burning all the money already spent, and sacking all the people involved, plus possibly knackering the companies. So it was considered cheaper to keep going, then modify it to be more multi-role when they'd finished it. Also the price shot up, asl the various nations buying it chose to have fewer aircraft, thus spreading production and R&D costs over fewer units.

Was this mess anyone's fault? Well not really. They had to order way into the future when they thought the Cold War was a serious problem. The only alternative was to buy from someone else - which obviously has less risk. But that means your stuff won't be state-of-the-art by the time you get it, and that you lose the skill and ability to produce your own, should someone ever refuse to sell to you.

These carriers are such large and complex systems, that there'll probably be some bit of kit changed, updated or in testing every couple of months.

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Concorde without the cacophony: NASA thinks it's cracked quiet supersonic flight

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Re: "but your aeroplane has a big nose. "

Do you mean the self-loading cargo?

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Re: Let's just hope....

That's what I thought. I don't wish to be personal, but your aeroplane has a big nose. A really honking great hooter. A positively protuberant proboscis.

Why it almost reminds me of this kids TV classic.

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Google hit with record antitrust fine of €2.4bn by Europe

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Re: Google vs Spammers

Surely Kelkoo went the way of the dinosaur years ago? I remember actually using them deliberately in about 2005, when I was playing with Pricerunner and Google's brilliantly named (but sadly crap) Froogle.

I think I decided Pricerunner was best, but was returning so many prices from sites I'd never heard of and on inspection wasn't willing to entrust with my credit card, that I just gave up on the lot of them.

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Re: Where's the Line?

No. It's loose change. They made more than that just in tax credits on the losses Motorola had racked up in the 5 years before Google bought them. When they sold most of Motorola on to Lenovo, they of course kept the yummy tax credits...

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Re: How have I been harmed, exactly?

Oh Homer,

If you want to know how you've been violated, take a look at Google's privacy policies.

But this case wasn't about that, or about harm to you. This case was about harm to shopping price comparison sites - who were trying to make a buck in the market a few years ago and got unfairly (at least according to the EU) muscled out by Google. The argument being that Google's price comparison was crap at the time (which it was), and yet they got all the clicks when the actually popular and quite useful sites started slipping down the Google rankings.

I'm not sure how fair that is, because I didn't find many price comparison sites to be much cop, and so mostly gave up on them - but I do remember Google's being worse than the couple I was using back around 2005.

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Re: Erm

It's very simple. You can legally have a monopoly. If you're the best at doing something and so everyone goes to you, it would be totally unfair to regulate your monopoly out of existence. So you get to keep it. After all the aim of this law is to protect the consumer, and we can assume that they all went to you for a reason.

What you're not allowed to do is to use that monopoly (market dominance) in order to enter other markets. At which point it all becomes rather murky, as to what's being normally competitive and what's unfair competition.

You don't need 100% control of a market to be defined as a monopoly, it can be less than 50%, it's about your market power.

This case is also a bit weird of course, in that Google don't charge for search - and so the customers are the advertisers. Except that the ads are only going to get seen if people use search.

The Microsoft example was a lot clearer. They were considered to have a monopoly with Windows, and were using that to push their browser. Even though Netscape had a nice business charging for a browser. Not that the law intervened in any kind of timescale that would have saved Netscape.

A more traditional monopolistic abuse might be Vanderbuilt, in the late 19th Century. He built a nice railway that was used by a bunch of steel mills. Then he decided to go into the steel industry. And those mill owners were asked to sell their mills to him at a substantial discount. If they didn't, his railway would stop doing business with them, and they'd go bust.

Or say BT, who were charging about 50p a minute for daytime telephone calls in the early 1980s. Because your alternative was not to be able to make calls.

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EddieD,

Why get angry, before you've even been offended?

Google can't push this through the courts for years and years. There's only one avenue of appeal, and that's it. They can appeal to the European Court of Justice in Strasbourg - which is the EU's highest court and after that there's nowhere else to go. After the Commission fined Microsoft, they'd appealed and lost within 2 years. I'm sure it'll be similar with Google.

This isn't like the Apple / Samsung dispute that took place in a court in California, where there were all sorts of levels to appeal through. In this case the Commission is acting in a quasi-judicial role, and then then there's only one place to go.

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No way to sugarcoat this: I'm afraid Uranus opens and closes to accept particle streams

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Who do these scientists think they are to say Uranus is on its side? Does it have a this way up label? No? Thought not. Perhaps it's just resting then.

Or it's only there because someone missed a pot in a game of intergalactic bar billiards.

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It's worse than that. We're using a giant telescope to ogle our near neighbour's uranus flashing...

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Games rights-holders tell ZX Spectrum reboot firm: Pay or we pull titles

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Surely we expect better from El Reg. We want it Roger Cook stylee, a Reg hack following him down the road shouting questions, until he turns round and punches them. At which point the hack says, "why are you hitting me Mr Levy, I'm only asking you about what's happened to your product, that was promised to your customers months ago."

Bonus points for the doing it Damien from 'Drop the Dead Donkey' style, where the journo remains unharmed, and the camerman cops it. Possibly having paid an impostor to punch him, to make better telly and save the effort of finding the actual MD.

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Blighty's first aircraft carrier in six years is set to take to the seas

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Re: Uninspiring choice of name for the ship

No. ZoomyMcFlyPlane surely?

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SpaceX nails two launches and barge landings in one weekend

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Re: "Watched the BulgariaSat launch live,"

BulgariaSat is a vital part of the infrastructure for the litter collection equivalent of Interantional Rescue. Instead of Brains or John Tracy being up there in Thunderbird 5 - this early warning satellite is manned, or should that be wombled, by Uncle Bulgaria.

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Re: Things are getting interesting

I don't think the satellites will help, if the rocket is interfering with the signal. So it's obvious what he needs to do. A sonar link for the telemetry to his submarine, which can broadcast it via its own antenna from a safe distance.

Even if he's not yet bought himself an old soviet ballistic missile boat (or captured one with a giant oil tanker), he'll have a few mini-subs around for moving the stolen nuclear warheads to and from his yacht. I'm sure they'll do the job.

Oh, perhaps I wasn't supposed to say that. No! Please not the pirhana tank! NOOOOOooooooooo!!!!!

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Despite high-profile hires, Apple's TV plans are doomed

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Re: Must watch tv ?

Richard Jones 1,

A couple of suggestions for you.

You can get one of those tables on wheels they have in hospitals - where the table goes over the side of the bed - or in this case arm of the chair. Some can be set at an anlge, rest book on table at good reading - job's a good'un. Means you don't have to hold book. I've tried various solutions like this over the years, other things to try are sitting at a table with a portable lectern to hold your book - or something like a recipe book stand. Depends on what way you find most comfortable to sit. If bed is better with propped pillows, then you can get beanbag things which hold a book or tablet at the right angle.

If the neck problems make it hard to do, then I'd suggest audiobooks. Someone like audible.com? You pay a monthly sub and can listen to what you like. I think Amazon may do a similar service.

As for hunting through all the available telly content, there must be good websites that discuss review this stuff. I know my brother did this about 10 years ago, where he read about what was the best American telly on a discussion website, then ahem 'sourced' it via the internet.

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Re: Apple

Surely Androids dream of electrifying iSheep?

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UK and Ecuador working on Assange escape mechanism

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Re: so well resourced

Unfortunately judges do treat high profile cases differently to low profile ones. So he might get a stiffer penalty, as it's public, in order to make a public point. Which is the downside of facing the criminal justice system if you're famous - the upside being you probably get better lawyers.

But it comes down to time. If he surrenders himself in the expectation of getting just a slapped wrist from the magistrate, he needs to be seen that day by the magistrate, and then deported to Australia that day. Otherwise he's going to be in cusody (being a bail-jumper he's an obvious flight risk) and at that point Sweden can nab him again. I can't see the wheels of justice turning that quickly.

Obviously if the conspiracy theories are to be believed, so might the US. Though even if true, they'd have to move pretty damned fast. If he genuinely believes the US stuff, and I think he is possibly that paranoid, then how's he ever going to leave the embassy?

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Re: so well resourced

Credas,

There's no need for politics here. When was the last time a suspected criminal ran into a London embassy? This is something to be discouraged. So it needs to be seen to fail. Both to other crims, and embassies who might enjoy causing trouble.

Plus, if you very publicly take the piss out of the criminal justice system, it'll almost certainly try to bite you back.

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No. At least not officially. And I doubt they'd trust Ecuador or Assange not to blab/gloat about it afterwards.

Officially, and legally, the government can't tell the police what to do. Unofficially ministers can obviously have a quiet word. So long as the risk is worth it, or the likelihood of getting caught is low.

In this case I don't think anyone cares enough to risk their career over it. Plus I strongly suspect the Foreign Office are enjoying Ecuador's discomfort. They accepted his asylum for some cheap publicity, and to make the US look bad. With a side order of embarrassing the UK government.

So I think the FCO want to make them suffer for it. As well as the genuine policy goal of discouraging other embassies in London from sheltering criminals. The fact that Assamge suffers ten years self-imposed imprisonment for a crime many suspect he's both guilty of and would get off in court, is just a bonus...

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Re: Mail readers

Talking of Corbyn...

Conspiracy Cat meets Conspiracy Catweazle...

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Re: Shown the Ecuadoor

The Swedish Chef is a CIA plant! Keeping an eye on the subversive Muppets. Miss Piggy is a commie you know.

And Kermit is a radical green...

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Re: Mail readers

I did think for myself. He's an arsehole. A narcisistic self-publicist who doesn't give a fuck for anyone other than himself. He may, or may not, genuinely believe in his professed ideals - but that doesn't entitle him to sexually assault people. Now I don't know whether he's guilty of that, the running makes him look guilty, but I suspect he is genuinely paranoid so that could also explain his behaviour.

But most of the bad PR about Julian Assange, is generated by Julian Assange.

Did I say he was a total arsehole?

As for your bollocks about "Corbyn style character assassination", it's bollocks. He's supposed to be a big boy. He ran for leadership of a major political party, and then the country. With that territory comes both unfair political attacks and legitimate scrutiy. He doesn't appear to like either. Also with that comes standing on your own record. His record is pretty shit. Even many of the people on his own side don't think he's up to the job, why should anyone else?

There is no global conspiracy. Evil or otherwise. It's scarier than that. Nobody is in control. Stuff just happens. And conspiracies also happen, but more of them fail spectacularly than succeed. Conspiracy is hard.

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Re: And what does Assange say?

Well, all the Ecuadorians have to do is push him out the embassy door. Or just invite the police in to arrest him, they're fully entitled to enter with permission from the ambassador or home government.

Alternatively, if they want something less public, they cut off his internet access, and nice food, and ration him to one Ferrero Rocher per day.

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Re: Escape tunnel ...

Look, I dislike Julian Assange as much as the next man, but sending him onto the Tube in Summer, and then onto Heathrow, is way too cruel.

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Re: Is it worth it

Sweden haven't dropped the case. They've dropped the arrest warrant. On grounds that it's disproportionate to continue pursuing the case when there's zero chance of an arrest.

However the prosecutor made it clear that the case can be revived, should there be a chance to do so. The statute of limitations on rape charges is 10 years, so I think that leaves Julian 4 more to wait? And as soon as he ends up in UK police custody, Sweden just need to re-issue that EAW and the Swedish then get him. So even if our magistrates let him off with a fine, a slapped wrist and a one-way trip to Australia - that's enough time for Sweden to get the paperwork faxed across, if they want to.

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Re: On a serious note

There's no mechanism to do this, unless they pass a special law. The government can't officially tell the police what to do in operational matters and they can't tell the courts what to do at all.

And of course Sweden's investigation has been dropped for lack of progress. Their prosecutors office is apparently forced to act proportionately, and so give up when they can't get anywhere. It appears (though it's obviously hard to know), that Ecuador lied about cooperating with the Swedes, and didn't allow the formal interview at which Assange could actually be charged - only alllowed some sort of limited questioning - hence they gave up.

However as soon as Jules leaves the embassy, Sweden can re-issue the EAW on the one remaining outstanding charge and get him back. So even if he's only held by the Met for one day, before being taken to a magistrates court, fined for bail jumping and deported to Oz - that gives Sweden the time to get him again.

Last time Ecuador tried to get the Foreign Office to talk, they didn't get very far. And that was when the Met were supposedly spending a million pounds a second stopping his daring escape attempts - presumably overtime doughnuts cost extra...

So I suspect this is wishful thinking, give the attitude displayed here by the FCO:

At a meeting last Tuesday between Ms Alban [Ecuador's ambassador] and Hugo Swire, the Foreign Office minister responsible for Latin America, Ms Alban is said to have asked: "What are we going to do about the stone in the shoe?"

Mr Swire's response, according to a source who was in the room, was: "Not my stone, not my shoe."

From what I've read from Charles Crawford (an ex ambassdor of ours), the Foreign Office take a dim view of this sort of thing - he says the job of an embassy is to build as good a relationship as possible with the host country, and be as clear a communications channel as possible - and not deliberately creating embarrassment for them. Which is why British embassies would try to avoid taking in even legitimate cases seeking asylum if they can manage it, let alone this crock of shit cooked up by Assange. So they've no incentive to help, and from what I understand actively want Ecuador to suffer the consequences of having taken this pot-shot at the British system.

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Re: Diplomatic pouch?

This trick has been tried before - though it was Nigeria I think and the person in question had been kidnapped. British police seized the diplomatic baggage at the airport and opened it.

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BOFH: Putting the commitment into committee

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Re: The only committee I would be part of

Our office WiFi reaches the garden of the pub next door. Why am I still sitting here?

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I worked for a US multi-national. Our logo useage policy document was 19 pages long. I believe the logo had to be at an exact 23° angle. Heaven knows why.

I needed a copy of a logo to sling on top of an invoice. Marketing still gave me a stiff talking to, and made me read the document, before I was allowed a copy of the file though.

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Re: Wait a minute

You can easily get away with locking your manager in a cupboard. So long as you don't get caught. Admittedly this may mean the experience needs to be terminal for the manager in question, but you can't make an omelette without breaking eggs.

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My sister-in-law once asked me if the kettle and toaster set would match the accent colours in my kitchen/dining room.

All the words are english, it's just what she'd done with them that I objected to. I didn't bother telling her that the kettle and toaster didn't even match each other, let alone the non-existent cushions. I bloody hate cushions! Buy chairs that are comfortable, so you don't need them.

Still, most of us have certain things that we obsess about the details of, and others we couldn't give a stuff about. Some people get really upset about Microsoft Comic Sans, or even have preferences for different flavours of arial fonts.

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'No decision' on Raytheon GPS landing system aboard Brit aircraft carriers

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Re: Mirror landing system

In which case I sit stand corrected.

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Re: Mirror landing system

They'll have multiple systems. The US will likely have ILS as a backup, plus for use by other NATO planes.

We can't use the mirror system anyway, as we're not using arrestor gear. F35 will do short takeoff with ramp, and land vertically.

But I doubt GPALS is there for landing. It's to give approach assistance in bad weather, while creating less radio noise. So they may still be using the old landing systems. This is just to lower pilot workload on approach.

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Re: Read it as "JPALS emits an email burst of data that allows the approaching aircraft..."

It's just one single transmission though, rather than a continuous data transmission. So it's going to be very much shorter and harder to detect or triangulate on.

With the availablility of satellites and the like, I don't think anyone is trying to hide the existence of their carriers in a particular area. Just to make the positional fix vague enough that they can't be targetted with weapons. Obviously having all those fighters means they're then supposed to deal with any reconnaissance aircraft after a firing solution in the traditional manner.

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Re: EM noise

Strangely enough, they can turn the lights off if they think there's a threat.

Equally warships often operate on passive detection systems only, i.e. EMCON (emissions control). So if you're an aircraft carrier, the enemy know you're there somewhere, but the idea is not to let them narrow that down to a particular grid reference they can fire missiles at.

This is why you have AWACS aircraft on your carrier as well, so you can turn the radars on only when you're a decent distance from the carrier. Also because being higher up your radars can detect things further out, that would be over the horizon for the ship.

Strangely enough the admirals do tend to have thought of this basic stuff already...

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There's a very finely balanced decision to be made here.

The more automation you can introduce into aviation the safer you can make it. Because meatsacks make mistakes. Of course that's assuming that your piece of automation actually works as advertised. So making carrier landings easier is in general a good thing. Remember that you may be asking your pilots to take off, mid-air refuel, fly for several hours to a destination, get shot at, then fly back (possibly re-fuel again) and then try to land on a carrier at night. By the time they get back they're going to be tired and not at their most alert, being on the come-down from the stress of cobat. So the easier you make stuff, the lower the chance of accidents.

On the other hand, brand new systems take time to integrate, time to train on and time to iron out the bugs. Plus cost more. So tried and tested and less complicated may be the right solution initially. Maybe buy later, when it's an off-the-shelf job, tested by the Americans for a few years?

You may also get the attitude of senior officers that "In my day I had to fly when it was all manual and difficult, so why can't these young whippersnappers? Aren't they supposed to be elite?"

I also read that the US had much higher casualty rates than we did, flying Harrier. There could be any number of reasons for this, but the suggestion was that it was because the US Marines tend to get the third pick of the pilots, after the Navy and Airforce have taken the cream. Harrier was of course a bugger to fly when transitioning from normal to vertical flight, so much harder than the F35 will be. But I wonder if that also suggests to them that they want all mod-cons?

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last I heard they were considering cutting a hole in the side of the hull and yanking it out.

boltar,

I would be amazed if any marine engine is ever removed any other way. They're very, very big. They fill whole (large) compartments of ships, and being very heavy tend to get mounted below the waterline. It would be insane to design hatches large enough to get them out - plus you'd have to waste an awful lot of very valuable space to do so. As you're only expecting to do this sort of thing once or twice in the lifetime of ship - it's therefore much more sensible to do it that way.

They changed the reactor cores in some of the submarines by cutting through the hull too, some were re-fuellable but I think that it was decided later that it was cheaper to just swap out the whole core in the Trafalgar class boats. And that's a submarine, where you have to be really precise when you weld the pressure hull back together, or you get your feet very wet indeed.

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Canadian sniper makes kill shot at distance of 3.5 KILOMETRES

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Re: Canadians vs Americans

I like to have a martini,

Two at the very most.

After three I'm under the table,

After four I'm under my host.

==========

As no lumberjack said, ever.

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Re: Canadians vs Americans

Ineffective for sniper work - the bullets are too sloe.

Still, it's a tonic for the troops.

Was he using a Martini-Henry rifle?

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Re: I think the comment

As Gary Player said, "the more I practise, the luckier I get."

When you're shooting at that range, the target only has to sneeze for you to miss. Or even just decide to go for a walk 5 seconds after you pulled the trigger.

But it still takes immense skill and practise to get close, or in fact get into the right position to even be able to take the shot without getting yourself noticed, or killed.

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Re: 29" barrel

Have you not heard that radio documentary by Spike Milligan, 'Trouble at the Barami Oasis'?

"Put that 20,000 tonne battleship down Neddy, or my men will drink the oasis!"

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Plus, of course, there may be other people shooting at you who are even closer. If you're exposing yourself (fnarr fnarr) that's quite likely, as you may be engaged in shooting at them - as well as avoiding given them an easy target.

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Breaking news, literally: Newspaper's quakebot rumbled for fake story

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Re: To err is human...

Computers may only be as fallible as journalists, but they don't drink as much and don't fiddle their expenses claims.

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Researchers take the piss with pee-powered liquid energy project

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Re: like pavement power...you are looking at am absolute max of 5W per person.

I presume the idea is to power the toilet, rather than phones. I know that one of the Gates Foundation's things is to try and get better toilets, as an easy way to improve drinking water supplies, by keeping the human waste out of them.

So I'm guessing they're looking at enough power to operate pumps or filters. Though I'd have thought solar (with batteries for night time obviously) was just going to be cheaper and easier.

Of all the bad puns on display from El Reg and the commentards, I'd like to give particular praise to whiz kids. I think that's my number one. After that, I'm sure the writer was flushed with success.

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Elon Musk reveals Mars colony rocket capable of bringing pizza joints to the red planet

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Re: Plenty of oxygen on the Moon

IT poser,

I just don't buy that Mars can become a self-sustaining colony. And nor, I stronly suspect, will any potential colonists. I think this is trying to run before we can walk, and what we can do now is simply baby steps.

To say we might find something useful when we know more is actually quite a huge assumption. There's a really important elephant in this room and that elephant is shipping costs. It's a very big elephant. Anything that can be traded in space is going to have to be low mass and very expensive, or it ain't going to be worth shipping. Or at least anything that requires boosting out of a gravity well. You might be able to chop an asteroid up for minerals and send it on a slow trip to your destination - where you then do something with it, but even that's probably 50 years in the future.

The only possible revenue streams from space in the next 20 years are tourism and satellite repair. There might be some early money with micro-gravity crystals maybe, but I suspect only if it can piggyback on otherwise profitable infrastructure.

Satellites are currently not designed for in-orbit servicing, but then neither was hubble. Even if it's just replacing thruster fuel and giving a bird an extra few years of life, that's probably worth tens of millions of dollars to do - and that's enough cash to tempt people.

Mining the moon would not be for HE3, but for oxygen bearing rock, water, topsoil maybe, perhaps even just rock to use as radiation shielding for a small space station. And that only if it can be got cheaper than popping up and down from Earth.

I don't think there's any point planning longer term than that. NASA should just explore, as now, with a possible trip to Mars if the politicians want to fund it for the wow factor. In the medium term we need resources in orbit before we can do anything else ambitious, and we have a funding source to pay for that (fixing satellites). Once that looks likely, satellites can then be designed to be even more expensive, so they're repairable - or even modular, so you can add to them as demand grows. That ought to be self-sustaining, or at least the numbers don't look ridiculous - given the billions we spend on satellites now.

The Moon is just the nearest source of resources that doesn't require expensive boosting from Earh. But if cost to orbit keeps falling, that may turn out to be irrelevant. Here's hoping Reaction Engines can strut their funky stuff.

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The Internet of Flying Thing: Reg man returns with explicit shots

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Re: around 800kg

Just think how slow the whole satellite system is going to get with all the passengers watching videos and video-calling all their family, on however many thousand flights a day there are.

Well I guess we're safe from that happening in reality, given the hideous charges that the airlines will want us to pay to use this data. I'm perfectly happy buying a paper in the airport if I need news, or reading a book if not.

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Re: 844TB of data from 12 flight hours

It might well be that this is the data generated, rather than what's logged. There's a lot of very complex systems, making a lot of decisions, with an awful lot of data. I'm sure they actually log less than that. But I guess it means that engineering could log directly into the engines in-flight, and watch their actual performance, rather than what they chose to log by the time it's downloaded on the ground.

I guess you could use this for research. Or look at you most and least fuel-efficient planes to see what they're doing right/wrong.

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Devil

but were nonetheless very welcoming and happy to explain what the gauges and knobs did.

Ahem! If I was feeling malicious, I might suggest that the guages tell the pilots what the plane is doing, while the knobs make a noise and distract them with flash photography...

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NASA's Kepler space telescope finishes its original mission catalog

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Don't be such a pessimist. The aliens may be even more annoying than we are...

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