* Posts by Alien8n

862 posts • joined 15 May 2007


Red dwarf superflares batter formerly 'habitable' exoplanet

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Solar surfing

This is why the tri-annual solar surfing championship will be held there. Assuming there are enough contestants after the little accident with a neutron bomb caused the star to go supernova at the event a couple of years ago, wiping out the entire committee and all the contestants. Tri-D viewing figures went through the roof for that one...

Terrorists seek to commit deadly 'cyber attacks' in UK, says Chancellor Osborne

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Re: Has Osborne just watched Spectre?

At least this way we'll know where all the wankers are :p

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Re: "If our electricity supply, or our air traffic control, were.....attacked online,

My thoughts exactly. All key infrastructure should be entirely isolated from the internet. Every time I hear about someone who's hacked NASA or the Pentagon my first thought is always "why do they still have this data connected to the internet?" It's just a disaster waiting for a game of tic-tac-toe...

Commentard achieves bronze badge, goes directly to jail

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Re: I've been around here for ages

Surprised the heck out of me as well. Although the "member since 2007" bit is a little out of date as I've been around since around 2000. I'm finding the Doctor Who reviews are doing wonders at keeping my comment rate up :)

More POS malware, just in time for Christmas

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Re: What is the attack vector ?

Before anyone else gets in, a correction (in my defence it's been 7 years since I worked at Torex). It wasn't the Finance Director who shopped the company, it was the CEO (who as stated was an advisor to Enron when Enron went bust...)

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Re: What is the attack vector ?

I used to work for Torex (Retail J, LUCAS and XN Checkout were all Torex applications).

The software was all JAVA, with either SQL, PostGRES or Oracle DB at the backend. Front end would be either Debian or Windows XP.

A bit slow but generally well written, configurable to any language of choice. Certainly no back doors in any of the software.

The chairman on the other hand was as dodgy as they come. The company was actually taken down from within as the Finance Director took all the financial documents in the back of his car and dropped about a dozen boxes in the lobby of the SFO with the line "I think my boss is breaking the law, here's the evidence". The chairman was also implicated in the $400M write down of iSoft's healthcare software division (guess who iSoft bought? Yup, Torex Healthcare). Part of the reason for the write down was the fact Torex Retail sales had been booked through Torex Healthcare's books. You'd think someone might have queried why the 99p Stores were a client of Torex Healthcare and why $400M of sales revenue suddenly disappeared overnight. It gets even murkier when you realise the Australian company that ended up buying iSoft was run by an ex-director of... Torex Healthcare.

[subnote: in pure irony at it's finest the Finance Director's previous role was as Special Financial Advisor to... Enron.]

Doctor Who: Nigel Farage-alike bogey beast terrorises in darkly comic Sleep No More

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Re: 'Morpheus wide-awake pods'- dumb hole a-hole

"This weekends 2000AD? Did I just dream I was asleep for thirty years?"

Nope, somehow despite all the odds against it 2000AD is still going strong (even if pretty much only available by subscription nowadays). It really is quite amazing when you consider how many British comics it's managed to outlast/assimilate. I hope it continues well into the next millennium as well as it's been a great starting point for many artists and story writers, most of whom have ended up working for DC and Marvel in the US as a direct result of their work for 2000AD.

Your taxes at work: Three hours driving to turn on politician's PC

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Colour blindness

I've worked with 2 people who are colour blind. The first was the assistant factory manager who was given the job of choosing a green anti-static bag so the operators could quickly tell the engineering batches from the standard production batches (amazing how many operators would completely miss the big "CALL ENGINEERING BEFORE PROCESSING" stickers if they were in the same colour bags. After 2 hours he finally says "I'm probably not the best person to be doing this, I'm colour blind".

The second one was one of the engineering managers at a site where we upgraded to PROMIS (the engineering version being terminal access). I had to create a blue/yellow colour scheme for his terminal as the standard colours for the terminal shortcut keys were red and green. I also completely redesigned the alert graphics for the production GUI as PROMIS is primarily a waferfab system and green/amber/red warning graphics don't work too well in orange lighting (it's pretty much only used for wafer fabs, and all waferfabs that I know of have at least one room that has orange lighting in which begs the question what drugs were the GUI designers on when they created it)

Is the world ready for a bare-metal OS/2 rebirth?

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Re: Major niche OS

"It would be like suggesting people run BeOS or AmigaOS as their daily driver platform."

Once upon a time that wasn't that far fetched. Used to be AmigaOS was THE 3D rendering OS of choice. Early VR machines ran on Amiga and a lot of the early CGI in movies and TV were run on Amiga as well. It's surprising that Babylon 5 CGI (originally done on an Amiga, not sure about the later series) are still better than most of the CGI in the latest Dr Who series.

Star Trek to go boldly back onto telly, then beam down in streams

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Re: @Alien8n

My comment was in response to

"that result in a portion of the crew dying every few weeks"

which doesn't specifically state that it has to be a named character being killed off (yes I know the previous sentence is with regards the Game of Thrones-esque killing off of half the lead characters every season).

Reminds me of the joke about the actor whose agent calls him up to tell him he has a job:

"I've got you a major role in a leading fantasy series"

"How many series?"

"Just 1"


"Just 1"

"I'll be in the whole episode though right?"

"No, your character gets killed in the opening credits"

"How is that a leading role?"

"It's Game of Thrones"

"So he's quite a long lived character then?"

Alien8n Silver badge

But the original series was so notorious for killing off crew members it became a standard trope of any series featuring red shirts...

Cops use terror powers to lift BBC man's laptop after ISIS interview

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Re: So What?

The best defence against extremism is knowledge. It's as true now as it was in the 70's/80's/90's in Northern Ireland. To combat extremism you must first know the mentality of an extremist and in order to know that you must talk to extremists. How many people actually know why the IRA existed (not why it still exists, it takes time for that kind of hatred to be expunged from society)? How many people know that the army were not sent in to combat the IRA, but to actually protect the Catholics from the Protestants? And how many realise that the Troubles ended because the government talked to the IRA instead of carpet bombing half of Belfast? It's the same with ISIS, there is a reason ISIS is a growing terrorist organisation and it can only be finally defeated through knowledge. If you know why people join you can combat the causes, rather than the recruits.

Mystery object re-entering atmosphere may be Apollo booster

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Re: @TheProf - @Alister

Unless it's big names in plural doing the writing. Excellent collaboration between Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter (Long Earth series). They even put in quite an emotional ending given the knowledge that it would also be the final book in the series.

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Re: Hey, Zerlfa!

Don't forget a packet of salted nuts

Kidnapped IT bod Peter Moore: My journey to Iraq began in Guyana

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Fairly sure a guy I know has a few tales to tell. At a job interview I had at for the company he worked for I was told by the MD that part of the reason they paid so well was due to the risk of being shot at. Some of the employees had to leave Rwanda rather quickly, it was described as driving through the fence at the airport at high speed to intercept the plane that was already starting to leave while being shot at by rebels that were chasing them. The actual job involved setting up satellite uplinks ready for news crews in what could only be described as prospective war zones.

(It's also at this point that due to not remembering names properly I discover that a friend of mine from the old afp days passed away earlier this year, RIP Rocky, at least pTerry will have you for company)

You can hack a PC just by looking at it, say 3M and HP

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Re: virtual monitors

Wasn't this one of the original premises for Google Glass? The idea that you could "project" a screen for work which if you look slightly to the side the screen "disappears"?

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One company I worked at one of the senior managers came in complaining that his laptop was really slow. A quick search for all emails with attachments confirmed the issue was the thousands of emails containing videos and pictures. Including a rather inordinate amount of porn that was being emailed to him by one of the machine operators. We hit delete and told him not to be so stupid again or he'd be losing his redundancy pay (the only reason they weren't reported to HR was the fact that both he and the operator were leaving 2 months later on redundancy and the redundancy pay was in the 4 to 5 figure range). Same company had another user who we didn't report for downloading music and movies from file sharing sites. Turned out the IT manager had his download folder set up as a network share to save him from downloading the same files...

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Re: Firewall

My father in law used to work at NatWest and they had an issue with their Swansea branch many years ago, so they sent one of their head honchos over to sort the branch out. Every time he walked into a room the staff would switch from English to Welsh so he couldn't understand what they were talking about. Imagine their horror when on the final day he says goodbye to them in fluent Welsh. Turned out that despite no longer having the accent he was Welsh as well...

NASA preps test of broadband-from-spaaaaace project

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Re: Pedantry?

If you're looking at spying potential it's also a lot harder to intercept or disrupt a laser signal. Yes I know you could just shove a big block in front of it and that would disrupt it, but I mean in the conventional jamming way. It's a bit obvious when someone moves a physical block in the way, it's not so obvious if you disrupt microwave signals using another signal.

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Re: Secret sauce?

It's only a 6 watt laser, you wouldn't need much in the way of solar panels to keep it powered, especially as you wouldn't have to worry about atmosphere. You can buy 6 watt solar panels for charging car batteries that would still fit on a cube sat.

Doctor Who's Under the Lake splits Reg scribes: This Alien homage thing – good or bad?

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No more Dr Who?

Just read that next year's series may actually get cancelled (it's speculation, but given who's in charge it's not far fetched speculation) to be replaced by 3 or 4 "specials" similar to Sherlock. The other option is to completely reboot the series from scratch the following year. The big issue for me with this is Dr Who seems to have become a poisoned chalice where no actor remains long enough to really make their mark in the way the first 4 did. The only one to do that since the reboot was David Tennant. Add to this the ridiculous scheduling, you don't know from one week to the next when it's going to air, it's no wonder they can't maintain viewing figures if no one even knows when to watch it.

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Re: Damned if you do and damned if you don't

There are plenty of real life examples to allow this. There was a story just this year of 2 totally unrelated people who actually lived in the same town and went to the same school but who look like twins. And then you get all the people who actually make a living impersonating famous people. So getting away with having the same actor play 2 different characters in a series isn't that far fetched (and not the first time either in Dr Who, at least 2 companions have started out as secondary characters before becoming companions, and that's just since 2005)

Boffins: We know what KILLED the DINOS – and it wasn't just an asteroid

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Re: Fools

The whole plot was nearly revealed when that pesky Tharg did a documentary called Flesh in 2000AD. Thankfully it was mistaken as a work of fiction by the earth lets of the time.

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Re: Fools

It was a mistaken foray into time travel, we were farming the dinosaurs for meat and shipping it to the 25th century. By the time we'd realised that we'd culled too many dinosaurs and the 26th century liberals started complaining the only option was to drop a large chunk of martian moon onto the earth to cover up what we'd been doing. Unfortunately removing a moon from Mars required moving it and destroying it forming the asteroid belt at the same time. The knock on effect was to cause massive climate change to martian causing the martian atmosphere to evaporate till all that was left is what you see now. Oh well, no harm done :)

Holy litigation, Batman! Custom Batmobile cars nixed by copyright

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Re: It might because because its early so I apologise

"If you are not sure of the law don't try quoting it - you are confusing copyright and trademarks. If you don't defend your trademark you loose the rights to it. Copyright is NOT the same."

While correct, you can hold a trademark on a copyrighted item. The design of the bat mobile would be copyright, it's use it media would be trademarked. It was this that Games Workshop failed to prove when they sued a US author for the use of the words "Space Marine". They tried to claim trademark on a term that wasn't able to be copyrighted or trademarked due to it's generic history. Ironic really as they would have had no problems at all trademarking something like "Space Marine Battles" as a sub header, much in the way character names are trademarked by using a sub heading such as "A Stainless Steel Rat Novel".

You want the poor to have more money? Well, doh! Splash the cash

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Re: National Insurance and "Reallocation"

No different from any insurance scheme. If you have an accident in your car they don't compensate you from what you've paid in, they compensate you from the pool of money paid in by everyone else who has an insurance policy.The only difference is with NI your "premiums" don't double when renewed if you're claiming benefits. My point though is that you've paid into NI as a safeguard against redundancy. Those benefits when unemployed are a right bought by those NI contributions. But we cannot pick and choose who gets those benefits and the reality is we shouldn't. Yes it means accepting that part of my NI money goes to people who have never worked, but the alternative is to go back 100 years to a time before the welfare state when people starved to death when unemployed.

Alien8n Silver badge

National Insurance and "Reallocation"

I see a few people complaining about reallocating money to the poor who are on benefits. Reading some of the comments here I'm led to believe you're all for a system where no one who is unemployed should receive a penny in benefits as they're clearly all scroungers on the take. As I've already stated this is not the truth, nearly everyone I know who is unemployed (I say nearly, there are scroungers who need a good kick up the arse) wants to work. Most of them have worked at some point and this is where the following becomes important.

One thing that seems to have been missed is that for many of us they aren't taking our tax money and giving it to the poor, the whole benefit system is based on your National Insurance contributions. The key word here is Insurance. Whilst in practise the government does effectively take our tax money and redistribute it what is actually being distributed is your insurance payments. These are the payments you make while working so that when you aren't working they can provide you with a basic income, be that unemployment benefit or pension once you retire. When I'm unemployed I'm not taking your tax money, I'm getting money back from my Insurance payments. My point here is that it shouldn't be a privilege that can be taken away. It's a right that should be payable to me when I require it. You expect your insurance company to pay out in the event of a car accident, and in the same manner you should expect the government to pay out in the event of unemployment. The reality is the government will do everything it can to not payout and tarnishes the unlucky person who has worked their entire life to be suddenly unemployed a couple of months away from retirement with the same brush as the long term unemployed who cannot find a job because they live in the once thriving coal mining valleys of Wales and the real scrounger who has played every trick in the book to stay on the dole and spend as much time in the pub as possible.

Where tax money is reallocated is the tax credit system, which is a system based around working. And again the arguments I've read don't add up. They aren't taking your tax money and giving it to someone sat watching Jeremy Kyle all day. They're giving it to someone who is working, doing the low paid jobs that us, in the IT industry, would never think twice of applying for (although in reality the truth is you have to be quite high up in the IT industry before you no longer qualify, you can still claim some tax credits even if your combined family income is around £30,000).

With UBI all they are doing is combining both pots, your NI and your tax, and rolling the benefits and the tax credits together to provide what is your basic income. And it's a much better system in theory than both the NI scheme or the Tax Credit scheme or even the new Universal Credit system. The reason is quite simple, with NI, Tax Credits and UC the money you receive is means tested. As a result there are diminishing returns on every pound you earn. With Tax Credits this can be very expensive as an increase is salary over the threshold can result in a rather large (potentially) demand for money to be returned. So unless you're able to make a considerable jump in income there is little incentive to move up the pay scale. Why chase that extra 50p an hour down the road if you won't actually see any of the money at the end of the week? So with UBI there is no disincentive to work, every extra pound (after tax) becomes yours so the incentive is there to go for the higher paid jobs and to demand the higher wages if you merit them. The disincentive is there for the people who simply want to sit at home or in the pub all day, they will never see an increase in their standard of living. You have now built into the system the ethic that if you want that holiday, or that new car you can have it. You just have to work for it.

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Re: Alien8n

Firstly I don't live in Wales, in fact I live in a rather nice part of the country where no cash is ever splashed out for development, something to do with the below average rate of unemployment in this area. Secondly in order to qualify for retraining schemes you need to be out of work for a significantly longer period of time then I've been fortunate to be. So no, I've never qualified for all the retraining schemes you say I can do (and nearly all retraining schemes I've seen for IT skills are at the level of a GCSE in IT or how to use MS Office). And I never said I was a sys admin, I said I do systems support, my speciality is supporting bespoke systems and it has been very lucrative for the past 15 years or so. As for helping the unemployed back into work, I think you'll find the government's policy right now is to force people to take any and all jobs by removing their access to benefits. And that I am speaking of from experience. Lastly, I was using my experience of IT as an example. Your assumption that I lack knowledge of virtualisation and control software shows your usual level of arrogance, prior to moving into IT I was a production engineer in the semiconductor industry. My job was virtualisation and control software.

Alien8n Silver badge

This in so many ways. A Universal Basic Income should not be seen as a replacement for the Welfare State, instead it should be seen as a basic universal right allowing all to maintain at least a basic living standard, i.e. a home and food on the table. The problem with the current government is their sustained belief that the way to get people into work is to use a stick and beat them into submission. That somehow by starving someone by removing their only source of welfare it will magically make them employable and create jobs for them where they don't exist. The Daily Mail crowd have somehow convinced the country that anyone on benefits is richer than those working and so they must be punished in order to force them to work. The fact is most people want to work, the simple truth is there aren't the jobs available for them. But instead of admitting that fact and allowing that 1 in 4 who just wants to sit on their arse all day to do so we instead try to force them into taking the jobs that the people who genuinely want to work should be doing. Even if 3 in 4 want to be lazy buggers there are still not enough jobs for all of them. We also need to look at what jobs are available and the skills of the people who wish to do those jobs. Here on El Reg we almost all work within the IT sector in some manner. What do you do when the jobs available just aren't suitable for the unemployed? In certain sectors we hear about skills shortages. As an IT person I've been fortunate to not be out of work for more than a few months at any one time, however even here I do sometimes see cycles. At this moment there's a very high demand for .net programmers. If I was to be unemployed tomorrow I could genuinely be in trouble as my specialisation is in systems support (there are jobs out there, but there are also a lot of systems support people), which means the majority of the jobs available are not suitable for me. Under the current government what would happen is I would then be forced to apply for jobs I'm not qualified to do and jobs I'm too qualified to do. This is a complete waste of my time, employers time, and government time, but due to government rules I must do this in order to avoid the "stick". With UBI I'm freed from this scenario and able to concentrate on looking for suitable work, or even to look at training myself in the skills needed for alternative work. Using any funds saved while employed in systems support I can now, safe in the knowledge that I have enough money coming in to keep me fed and housed, look into those .net training courses I've been unable to indulge in due to working. Alternatively I could also look at setting myself up in a creative industry, at various points in the past I've run a t-shirt design business, a computer building business and a jewellery business. None of these has made much money and were simply a means to earn a bit extra, but with UBI these do become viable options.

Alien8n Silver badge

Re: I came to the same conclusion ...

Many years ago when Tax Credits first came into being I was actually put in the rather difficult position of having to turn down pay rises as the loss in credits and other benefits was greater than the pay rise I was offered. In the end it took a change of jobs to increase my salary sufficiently enough that I no longer needed any credits or other benefits. Ironically I'm now in the position of no longer receiving tax credits again (they upped the limits some time after I changed jobs, it took a few years before it was pointed out that we were eligible for them again) as my salary has again crept over the threshold for them.

Doctor Who storms back in fine form with Season 9 opener The Magician's Apprentice

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The ultimate paradox question

On the one hand I didn't enjoy the opening scenes, The Doctor as medieval jester doesn't ring true. But the main storyline was fantastic. The reminder that The Doctor and The Master (Missy) were the oldest of friends as well as comrades in arms before going their separate ways was good, but for me the best bit has to be the ultimate paradox question. Will The Doctor kill the child Davros to prevent the Daleks ever being created, preventing the Time War, or will he save him and hope that in saving him he influences Davros enough that he becomes a force for good instead of evil. Either at this point is a viable option given that it would appear to be The Doctor's abandonment of Davros that turns him evil.

All in all, it's just another hit in the stalls: Roger Waters The Wall

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Re: I would have thought...

His mortgage might be, but has The Wall finally paid off the tax bill?

Brown kid with Arab name arrested for bringing home-made clock to school

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Re: U.S. V UK

Seeing some of the stuff they're teaching nowadays you may be right about UK education not being trusted. They still can't teach the correct components that make up a computer (no, that's not the memory, that's the CPU).

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Better cancel my daughter's trip to Disney

We were planning to go to Florida in a couple of years, guess we'd better cancel that trip as she has a homemade clock on her bookcase that she made a few years ago...

Confession: I was a teenage computer virus writer

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Virus names

I have the dubious pleasure of having a virus named after me (Trojan/Downloader-MB). Only AVG had seen it at the time but I was able to provide the other AV vendors with a full and detailed description of what it did and how to remove it. Was caught because I was running Sygate firewall at the time and the firewall actually flagged it trying to send home to download the main payload.

Actually have a book on virus writing at home which I've never used.

Doctor Who returns to our screens next week – so, WHO is the worst Time Lord of them all?

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The quality of his writing overall though has been pretty good. But then again Moffat's earlier stuff was also good, his later stuff has been appalling. Saying that the same can be said for most of Moffat's work, the first couple of series of Sherlock were excellent, and then series 3 was a mess. Is it just me or does series 3's Moriarty come across a bit too much like the Master? Then again you could half expect Sherlock to pull out a sonic screwdriver in series 3...

Alien8n Silver badge

For the budget they certainly have the best special FX team going. Dr Who's special effects are done by Millennium FX, owned by a guy I went to school with. They aren't your usual "hire a bunch of theatrical make-up artists on the cheap", their credits include the special FX on Saving Private Ryan and From Hell as well as others. Which also ironically puts me only 2 degrees of Kevin Bacon away from anyone working on Doctor Who in the last few years :)

Have to agree about Moffat's writing though, not a patch on his earlier stuff. We need more Neil Gaiman stories...

Alien8n Silver badge


Quite a few comments regarding the costumes. I seem to remember though that they weren't forced to wear the costumes, they were basically given access to the BBC costume department and told to choose what they believed their Dr Who should wear. After that there were a few "quirks" added, such as the recurring theme of the question mark. Certainly all the recent incarnations chose their own costumes, with Peter Capaldi working very closely with the costume department to design his look.

They’re FAT. They’re ROUND. They’re worth almost a POUND. Smart waaatch, smart waaatch

Alien8n Silver badge

So the next-gen smart watch should be the Pip-Boy 3000?

Mad Max: High-octane dystopian desert demolition derby

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Re: Re:Console n00bs?

If you buy the retro games pack for the Xbox One you get a load of classic old ZX Spectrum games. Atic Atac is still just as difficult even now... :)

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Re: Re:Console n00bs?

John, should try some of the GOG sales...

Alien8n Silver badge

Re: Re:Console n00bs?

For the techies amongst us building is fine, but I would have bought my daughter's new PC if I could have found it at the spec I wanted and cheaper than what it cost to build it. Not an easy thing to do given the MSI Godlike motherboard and GTX 980Ti graphics card. Total overkill for a gaming rig, but this was a custom built rig designed for games development and has to last through college and then University.

What's Russia smoking? Kremlin bans Wikipedia for dopey article

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Re: "local ISPs must block not just the offending article but the entire site"

"Why such restraint ? He should've simply banned the Internet, that would have solved all the problems, right ?:

What? And slash Russia's economy? (How much of their GDP is generated by scams and email phishing I wonder?)

All aboard the Skylake: How Intel stopped worrying and learned to love overclocking

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The build I've just made (for my daughter's college course of all things) is an MSI Godlike motherboard with the entry level X99 CPU. The beauty of so many of these gaming boards is there's no need to worry about over clocking, it just does it all automatically for you.

NASA dismisses asteroid apocalypse threat

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Don't forget the salted peanuts...

Camera-carrying DOLPHIN SPY caught off Gaza

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Re: Bah!

David Brin, the only person I know to write a book containing a masturbating dolphin...

His Uplift War series though is excellent.

China shutters 50 websites for spreading explosion 'rumours'

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Conspiracy theorists

Wish they could silence the conspiracy theorists. I've already seen one story that claims the site was nuked by the US in order to bring China "in line" with US foreign policy. Er no, when you ignite that much ammonium nitrate you do get an explosion that big.

Put it away: Dwarf's 'supermassive' marvel is actually smallest thing boffins have ever seen

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Surely it's also dependant on location? A microscopic black hole forming in the depths of space would eventually evaporate, but what about one forming in the middle of a giant gas cloud? Would it survive long enough in the cloud to grow into something self sustaining?

'Sunspots drive climate change' theory is result of ancient error

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Re: Here we go again

"warped out of all recognition"

I was wondering what had happened to Slaine...

UK.gov makes total pig's ear of attempt to legalise home CD ripping

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Re: The problem with format shifting...

Actually that was from Kerrang, regarding the release of the double CD at HMV on Oxford Street in London. Guns and Roses turned up with a tank to promote the album. As for why I was reading that article, that might be the fact that I went out and bought the album for myself. May still have the magazine at home in a box in the loft...


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