* Posts by MacroRodent

1459 posts • joined 18 May 2007

Massive new AIRSHIP to enter commercial service at British dirigible base

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Hybrid helium - hydrogen?

To solve the problem of too much lift after unloading without wasting expensive helium, why not have hydrogen-filled ballonets inside the helium balloons and vent gas from those instead? Hydrogen does not react with helium, so there is no risk of explosion.

Linux-friendly Munich: Ja, we'll take open source collab cloud

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Good for them

"bucking the trend for going public."

Makes sense for a city administration that wants to avoid broadcasting sensitive information about its working and citizens to every foreign spy agency. Go Munich!

'G-WIZ like' object doing 40,000 MPH CRASHES on the MOON

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Use fullscreen

I didn't see it until I watched it in full-screen mode. Must have been quite a puddle of molten rock to glow for so long after the impact.

Years of AWOL Windows Phone features finally show up in video leaks

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Re: Stuck in the doldrums...

Wouldn't say creaking... The feature set is limited but to my utter astonishment, the WP 7.8 on my Lumia 710 has been astonishingly stable. After the last major update had settled down, it basically works reliably indefinitely without needing a reboot, unlike the Symbian I previously used, or every other Windows version I have seen. I guess it has reached the plateau of productivity. ("If it works, it is obsolete", like one character in "2010" grumbled about progress in computer technology).

Minecraft developer kills Kickstarted Minecraft movie

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Rendering on PC:s

Special effects, he promised, “will be done on PC's, not super-computers”

Not a new concept.. The sci-fi spoof "Star Wrek: in the Pirkinning" was rendered this way already in 2005. Looked pretty good despite the shoestring budget. See http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0472566/ (where the "trivia" section tells the rendering took 5 years overall).

Is modern life possible without a smartphone?

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Re: The browser

The Opera Mini does smart reflowing of pages, and also compresses them (Opera runs a proxy that does this). Small-screen devices actually are the ones where Opera Mini makes most sense. Touchscreen is not needed. (I used to browse a lot with Opera Mini before getting a Lumia).

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The browser

I suggest you check if Opera Mini works on it. It is available for all sorts of low-end phones, and if it does on yours, the browsing experience improves greatly.

Snap! Nokia's gyro stabilised camera tech now on open market

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Gyroscope - that makes me think of tiny spinning wheels, but I suspect that is not what is really inside the chip. I wonder how do they work.

Stephen Fry rewrites computer history again: This time it's serious

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Hope you CC your article to Stephen Fry directly...

...since he obviously does not read The Register. If he did, he wouldn't make mistakes like this. I remember The Register had a fine piece on the history of MS-DOS and CP/M a few years ago.

FreeBSD 10.0 lands, targets VMs and laptops

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Re: Legacy?

I wasn't cocky, just stating a fact about this particular IT segment. In some others (like desktops and laptops) Linux is almost nonexistent. Sure, Linux, Windows, Android, iOS etc. will get replaced eventually. So it goes. Personally I always try to write my code to be portable, and it has already paid off during my career.

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Re: Legacy?

An alternate way of saying that is that Microsoft put it there just to have ANY CHANGE AT ALL in the hypervisor market! All competitors supported Linux, and Linux is more or less what most cloud services run on, so only the 100% Windows data centres would have been interested in a Hyper-V that did not work well with Linux.

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Re: Legacy?

Besides, Hyper-V support is something Linux already has had for some time, FreeBSD must keep up.

Bottom falls out of Nokia's network rump

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Re: Philips

>I remember my auntie had a Nokia TV.

I still use one. Bought in 1994, works fine. Of course it now has to get its signal from a digi-TV box or DVD, since Finland no longer has any analogue PAL transmissions. Now and then I look at flat-screens in shops, but conclude that standard-definition TV on them looks worse than on the Nokia tube (the deinterlacing and other digital processing in flat-screen TV:s makes everything look cartoonish), and there is not yet enough on-air HDTV material here.

Rap for KitKat in crap app wrap trap flap: Android 4.4 is 'meant to work like that'

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They are now Windows-compatible

Ah, Google apparently wants to be Windows Phone compatible. The mobile IE browser has always behaved like that, and yes, it sucks. Sadly, Opera is not available on WP (before getting a Lumia,I always used Opera Mini on Symbian, which performed text reflow cleverly).

Ten classic electronic calculators from the 1970s and 1980s

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TI-59 memories

My father got a TI-59 from work around 1978 or 1979, and it was the first device on which I tried any kind of programming. Felt like using technology from the future! Unfortunately magnetic card reader was not too reliable, and eventually stopped working. There were also swappable ROM modules of programs. The calculator came with one, but others were supposedly available for special tasks. There was also a cheaper version TI-58 that lacked the magnetic card feature, but was otherwise similar.

Haswell micro: Intel’s Next Unit of Computing desktop PC

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Re: power cords

Not sure if you read my comment, but I did note they reverted the decision to omit the power cord.

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power cords

"Intel only left the cord out so it could reduce the size of the packaging - it can’t have saved it much money."

Could another reason be that the power sockets used around the world vary? Perhaps they thought this was a clever way to side-step the issue, but obviously annoying to buyers, so they reverted it.

El Reg's contraptions confessional no.5: The Sinclair Sovereign

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LED not so bad choice

As I remember it, in the 1970's LCD:s were still pitifully illegible. You had to look at them from just the correct angle to see anything, and even then it was murky. So putting LED:s or plasma displays(*) was quite reasonable at that time. (*)= not sure if this is the correct term for the kind of flat glass vacuum-tube-like element with the glowing number segments in it. Around 1980 I used to have a Casio scientific calculator with this kind of display.

Macbook webcams CAN spy on you - and you simply CAN'T TELL

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Nothing beats a physical shutter

So, as usual, if there is programmable logic involved, all bets are off. This is something my Asus 1225B mini laptop gets right: Next to the built-in camera there is a all-mechanical slider, which puts an opaque shutter in front of the lens. The user-facing side of the shutter is light-colored so I can immediately see its state. Hack that!

Apple owners can emulate this advanced security feature with a piece of duct tape.

Cassini spots MEGA-METHANE SEAS on the north pole of Titan

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Re: we'd use far more energy getting there and back

> Convenient outer solar system refueling station?

Having seas of methane is of no use as energy, if you don't have a corresponding amount of oxygen to burn it with.

Got a one-of-a-kind N9? Get ready to adopt Meego's baby Sailfish

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The N9 case and hardware is very similar to Lumia 800, the first Windows phone from Nokia. So much that people suspected Nokia rushed the Lumia out of the door by reusing the existing N9 design as much as possible . I wonder if Lumia 800 could also be converted to Sailfish.

Los Angeles' weather is just like Mordor, says Brit climate prof

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Re: As with all Climate models

"Middle Earth has always struck me as just a set of scenes spatchcocked together as background for the plot [...]"

I wouldn't be that harsh. It reflects a Medieval European world-view, where to the West you have an apparently endless ocean, and to the east endless steppes from which invaders occasionally emerge. North is a cold wasteland, and South is hot, with Oliphants and other exotics. This is just how a Medieval knight would have perceived the universe, and neither he nor Tolkien had climate modelling in mind...

I don't see how the Earthsea geography would be better defined. It seems to say nothing what lies outside the archipelago, except I think one book hints you hit the land of the dead if you go too far in one direction. How would you model the climate of that? But I agree the working of Earthsea magic is far better defined than in most fantasy books, it is almost science.

FreeBSD abandoning hardware randomness

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Black Helicopters

Re: "You could make a random number generator"

Of course, to be really sure, you have to solder it together yourself from basic components... After all, who knows what really is in the commercial black boxes.

Hear that? It's the sound of BadBIOS wannabe chatting over air gaps

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Acoustic malware

Having co-operating computers (where "co-operating" can mean infected with compatible malware) communicate acoustically is not surprising at all. After all, old acoustic coupling modems used to do this.

But I just do not believe malware could infect a computer that way.

Of course in theory the sound device driver is so buggy it overwrites buffers while receiving data from the D/A converter connected to the microphone, but such a driver would quickly crash the computer even without hearing any malignant sounds! It would also be impossible for the malignant sound to be controlled so precisely that the resulting digitized data would form a working program.

MINING in SPAAAACE! Asteroid-scoopers? Nah - consumers will be the real winners

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Arms race

"If there cannot be a legal right to a certain place, deposit or asteroid, then as soon as something does become profitable anyone and everyone can just move in. "

This suggests yet another group that will profit: Makers of arms usable in space.

Climate change makes phones obsolete: ITU

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Re: Well doh!

As long as they don't mess also broadcast radio with digital nonsense! (Like DAB). The beautiful thing about plain old AM and FM radio is that the receivers are relatively simple, robust and work for longer on battery than fancy digital widgetry. Perfect for emergencies.

(As every schoolboy knows, or used to know, you can even build an AM receiver that works with no batteries at all.)

Solar enthusiasts rays idea of 'leccy farms on MOON, drones

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Dark side of the Moon

The idea of placing solar panels in a belt around the moon is pretty daft, because half of the panels would always be in shade! If you put them floating in a geosynchronous orbit instead, they might get occasionally get eclipsed by the Earth, but only briefly, and by fielding several power-generating satellites, the majority would always receive sunshine.

Moto G: Google's KitKat bruiser could knock out, bury Landfill Android

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How would you rate this compared to the low-end Lumias (520, 620...)?

Microsoft gets GIANT GLASS HQ in FINLAND as part of Nokia deal

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Near the place Linux was born

- or at least named. The Nokia^H^H^H^H^H Microsoft house is just a few kilometers from the Helsinki University of Technology, whose FTP server was used to distribute the first Linux kernel versions back in 1991. The administrator thought "Freax" wasn't a good name for the project, and renamed the directory "Linux".


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I hope ISON makes it

Still smarting from comet Kohoutek...

When three Linux journos go crowdfunding

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Re: 50 percent of profits?

There's even research that suggests "dead trees" are still better than digital media for reading. Discused in latest Scientific American (which I get on paper), online here: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=the-reading-brain-in-the-digital-age-why-paper-still-beats-screens

Boffin says astronauts could hitch to Jupiter on passing asteroids

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Re: WTF?

Why would you ride an asteroid when to get on you have to match the speed and direction of it first. You might as well just let the ship keep going the same way.

The best reason I can think of is getting good radiation shielding against solar flares and cosmic rays. Provided is cheaper and easier to build a tunnel into the asteroid, than carry a heavy radiation shield.

Enlarging and furnishing the tunnel would also keep the astronauts nicely occupied during the long trip. Tired of you crewmates? Excavate a private den.

Mixed bag of motors lifts India's budget Mars shot

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Re: But...

Similarly, space exploitation makes sense (comms, etc.), but exploration?

There would not have been that space exploitation without space exploration! In the 1950's, just getting a simple satellite into low orbit was cutting-edge exploration.

'Burning platform' Elop: I'd SLASH and BURN stuff at Microsoft, TOO

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Re: Effect on WP

All the Windows Phones I have used let you select Google as the search provider if you wanted...

It seems on WP 7.x you cannot. At least the instructions you linked to don't apply to my Lumia 710 that has been upgraded to WP 7.8.

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Re: Effect on WP

@ I ain't Spartacus: Wasn't really trolling. In fact, I am an avid WP user (see the icon!). But it annoys me I cannot re-assign the search button now. There are good reasons Bing hasn't overtaken Google search that have nothing to do with imagined monopolies in on-line advertising.

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Effect on WP

If Bing is binned, I wonder what happens on existing Windows Phones, where the search button is hardwired to launch Bing? But that probably does not worry too much the man who managed to Osborne Nokia's entire smartphone lineup...


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why email is unencrypted

Because it dates from a time when processing power was an issue.

A more important reason for this state of affairs is that until fairly recently, the U.S. governement classified any encryption technology above toy level as munitions, and since most email software was originally developed in the U.S, the developers omitted encryption rather than deal with export restrictions.

Also, there are also many other countries whose governements view encryption with suspicion, so baking encryption into email standards (which is how it should have been done right form the start) would have seriously restricted their spreading.

Does 'Star Wars' casting call hint at DEATH of LUKE SKYWALKER?

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Re: This is Disney

I cant think of a single main character in a any Disney film I've seen who has both a mother and father (or doesnt at least end up having one of them knocked off in the first half of the film - aka Lion King).

Counter-example: Wendy in "Peter Pan". Although her parents don't appear much in the film. This might be the only one, I think you are right in general.

Galaxy is CRAMMED with EARTH-LIKE WORLDS – also ALIENS (probably)

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Re: As for actually *getting* there

Essentially a high efficiency no moderator nuclear reactor designed to fir those fission fragments out the nozzle.

Lovely. But hard to picture getting this device actually tested nowadays - I mean, it sprays out radioactive fallout by design! In the 1950's it would have been different...

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Re: Cool..but also oddly disturbing

- They're interested in colonising the galaxy. This "colonizing" thing could be just a human compulsion.

Like us, the aliens would be a product of evolution. They would not be top dogs on their own planet if they did not have a similar drive to expand as humans do. Even if that is not true of all alien species (assuming there are several of them), it takes just one with an urge to colonize.

You might think you are safe to assume these things, but really we're in the realm of such huge unknowns, it would be foolish to.

Of course. I was advancing a theory that to me seems reasonable, but it is quite likely to be incorrect. However, I don't really expect to know it for sure in my lifetime. Possibly we will never know if there really are aliens in our galaxy. That makes the issue fun to discuss...

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Re: Cool..but also oddly disturbing

Why? Just because you have a feeling that's so?

No. But because we are here.

The argument in the Fermi paradox does not depend on being able to listen to alien radio. Cleverer people than me have calculated that a space-faring civilization could colonize the entire galaxy in a matter of a few million years, even in the absence of any faster-than-light travel. We also known from the history of the Earth that there isn't space for multiple sentient species. Homo Sapiens out-competed and possibly annihilated other hominids.

So if there were ancient aliens, they would have colonized the galaxy, Earth included, and there would have not been space for us to evolve.

Therefore we are the first, or among the first.

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Re: Cool..but also oddly disturbing

I think the resolution of the Fermi Paradox is that even though there appears to be billions of planets that could support life, and possibly many of them do support some form of life, the sequence of events that lead to intelligent life capable and willing to create technology that can communicate over astronomical distances is so extremely rare that we really are alone, or at most there is one other civilizations in the galaxy, perhaps on the other side and who has emerged at about the same time, give or take a 100 000 years.

Perhaps we are living in the cosmic era where the first civilizations start appearing.

Helium-filled disks lift off: You can't keep these 6TB beasts down

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Re: leaks....

Why welding? Is helium so magic there is no gasket that can contain it?

I would imagine the main change from normal drives is sealing all mechanics to the "helium side". No drive axles coming through, no pressure equalization vents (so the case has to be sturdier than usual). This also has the benefit that the whole unit can be dipped into a cooling fluid.

Fed up with Windows? Linux too easy? Get weird, go ALTERNATIVE

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Funnily enough, Linux has moved it's graphics into the kernel.

Didn't it just move the mode-setting to the kernel, NOT the rendering operations? That makes sense, because initialization of all other hardware devices have also always been done in the kernel. The old situation where the X11 server initialized the graphics card directly was less stable, and made the screen flicker and flash more while booting and logging in to the system.

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Why go outside and risk skin cancer when there are so many toys to play with over the summer?

Looks like this article has been waiting in the publication queue for quite a while...

Could Doctor Who really bump into human space dwellers?

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Re: Time delays are the major difficulty

I think too much is made of this problem. After all, within the solar system, messages sent by radio will get to their destination way faster than messages sent by courier did Earth, yet people managed to organize things back before the invention of the telegraph and the telephone.

Just forget about voice -based communications and use some kind of e-mail. It is true the delay prevents real-time remote control of anything, but that is one reason why you might want to send intelligent humans on such missions.

Cinnamon Desktop: Breaks with GNOME, finds beefed-up Nemo

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Re: file type reassignment?

OK, OK, maybe I was thinking of some past Windows version or something. The hint about a command line interface for associations was news to me. I usually prefer command line anyway, these newfangled GUIs are too hard ...

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file type reassignment?

> Now it's simple to say, for instance, always open text files in GEdit (or Sublime or whichever app you prefer).

Is it also simple to change the file type association afterwards? This is where some desktops with similar feature (Windows included) have failed badly: reassignment is buried somewhere deep, or possible only by hacking a configuration file.

Sueball-happy patent biz slaps lawsuits on 14 tech firms

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@ skelband Re: Here's a thought

> Unless you are utilising the patent in products produced by yourself, then you cannot assert the patent at all.

Agreed! That really is probably the only way there is to get rid of patent trolls (short of abolishing patents completely).

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