* Posts by FrancisKing

27 posts • joined 15 Oct 2010

Eco-activists arrested by Brit cops after threatening to close Heathrow with drones


Re: Good work MET Police

"Only a pedant would split hairs between vehicle tax and road tax."

It's not pedantry. The term 'vehicle tax' suggests a tax on an expensive thing. The term 'road tax' suggests that car pay for the roads, and in some sense the cars own the roads - this could not be further from the truth.

Taxation on cars makes up for the income tax that people don't want to pay.

Quantum goes open and passwords must die in a week of Microsoft fun


Re: Why pins might actually be better than passwords

My mother went down the PIN route, and it works. Except Chrome didn't allow her to check he saved passwords, because it didn't do/doesn't do PINs.

Cheap as chips: There's no such thing as a free lunch any Moore


Re: Nothing new...

I agree. The Archimedes Risc OS was written in Assembler, and ran in 1MB. My faithful Atari STFM had a windowing system within 512KB. My Windows 10 desktop required 4GB to run a web-browser, 2GB simply wasn't enough.

Admittedly, there's more going on, with more colourful displays and more pixels, but it does feel like that's been a lack of coding discipline.

Japanese astronomers find tiniest Kuiper Belt object yet – using cheap 'scopes and off-the-shelf CMOS cameras


Re: Solar system mass.

Indeed. The sun is a main sequence dwarf planet.

Like Pluto.

Start trek, the next generation: PCie 4 flash controller demo flaunts speedy peripheral vision


Err ... by my maths

"The PCIe gen 4.0 standard is produced by the PCI-SIG consortium and specifies a 16Gbit/s data link speed with up to 16 links or lanes, delivering 64GB/sec, double PCIe gen 3’s 32GB/sec maximum."

16 Gbits/sec x 16 lanes = 256 GBits/sec = 32 GB/sec, not 64 GB/sec.


Intel’s first 10nm CPU is a twin-core i3 destined for a mid-range Lenovo


Bleeding edge vs cutting edge

"Which places the 10nm Core i3-8121U a fair way from the bleeding edge."

This is not difficult to get right. The cutting edge is the leading edge. The bleeding edge is the exact opposite.

I'd say that the new processor is very close to the bleeding edge.

10Mbps for world+dog, hoots UK.gov, and here is how we're doing it


I'm one of the 95% too

"She added that 95 per cent of the UK already has access to superfast broadband"

In our area we have both Virgin Media fibre and BT fibre. Alas, Virgin Media is only on the neighbouring road, and BT has enabled the exchange but not run the fibre. Virgin Media don't want to add our road to their network, and BT don't want to run fibre through a Virgin Media area.

I guess I'm part of the 95% too.

Brit transport pundit Christian Wolmar on why the driverless car is on a 'road to nowhere'


Re: It appears from the article that Mr. Wolmar is a railway enthusiast...

The taxi fare is £8 from the railway station to my home. Knock 60% off, and it's still £3.20 for 1 1/2 miles. That's still way more than the 50p per mile that a private car costs.

Boffins show off speedy quantum CNOT gate - in silicon


Re: We certainly live in interesting times ...

OK. But is the book in the left pocket, the right pocket, or a superposition of both?

A certain millennial turned 30 recently: Welcome to middle age, Microsoft Excel v2

Thumb Up


Yeah, I like Excel and for many things it's my go to tool, but...

It's annoying that Excel is single threaded. The user interface locks up when you're trying to do anything sizeable.

There are also a few problems with large spreadsheets, which become unwieldy.

Python explosion blamed on pandas


Re: Python explosion blamed on pandas

Small pandas are OK. If the python gets greedy, then bad things happen.

Netbooks projected to become EXTINCT by 2015


Re: Like for like

The keyboard is the big weakness on a netbook. Using a keyboard means that you have to have the screen further away, which makes it look smaller. My 10" ipad has the same size screen as a netbook, but is an excellent size whereas the screens on netbooks were too small.

Study: Climate was hotter in Roman, medieval times than now


"Yes and the alarmists always point to the victorian "ice faires" as an example of how much the climate has warmed, they never know what to say when I mention those Roman the vineyards up North."

The restoration era had the Thames freezing in cold weather. Part of that was due to the London Bridge of the time, which restricted the flow of water downstream.

Lesser-spotted Raspberry Pi FINALLY dished up


Re: A rubber-keyed speccy?

"When I were a lad, we had to share one abacus between the whole school!"

Abacus? You were lucky. We had to do all our calculations in cuneiform.


Re: @Pete 2

"Since you believe its a far better solution, is there anything stopping you actually going out and doing this yourself?"

They already have. The Raspberry Pi, media craze not withstanding, is not the only development kit, not by a long way. So why just now has everyone got to buy one?

Quitting your job? Here's how not to do it


Re: Spanish Inquisition

no one expects them

The Spanish Inquisition always gave 30 days notice of their arrival.

Dutch astronaut unleashes 155 mph 'Superbus'



Because the whole basis of an effective public transport system is that you collect a large number of people at one place, not that you go around picking people up all over town.

The latter already exists, where a minibus picks people up from their front doors, and it is an economic failure - it costs too much, is tool slow, and picks up too much subsidy.

Oxfordshire cops switch speed cameras back on


Thank God for that

"Its for cars and they will smush you first and stop later."

Thank God for that. For a horrible moment I though that the roads belonged to the Queen, for everyone to use.

Toshiba NB500 budget netbook


Not sure about some things

"That said, I was particularly unimpressed with the NB500's 2.4GHz 802.11n Wi-Fi adaptor, which Windows states delivers a speed of just 72Mb/s, barely faster than 802.11g's 54Mb/s. 802.11n is capable of a much higher throughput, even allowing for Windows reporting the maximum possible speed rather than real-world throughput. The NB500 doesn't feel as quick as other 802.11n kit I've used, nor as able to cope with areas where a router's wireless signal is week."

Given the speed of the broadband behind the Wi-Fi, does it matter, beyond a certain point, how fast it connects?

DEC: The best of systems, the worst of systems


DEC Alpha

The Alpha processor was the hottest ticket around when it came out. The company for which I worked had embedded DEC engineers, and they could hardly contain themselves. The big problem was how much a system like that cost, and so it was never going to end up with home enthusiasts.

The thing I remember about VMS was that the root user wasn't top dog. There were also a few bigger accounts, including the site engineer account. User: site. Default password: engineer. I still wonder how many DEC systems never had the site engineer password changed.

Super-thin materials could POWER our WORLD


How does that work then?

You can't extract electrical power from heat, only from a temperature gradient.

That's why in a coal-fired power station, one end is hot (the boiler) and one is cold (river water).

"In gas-fired power plants, approximately 50 per cent of energy produced is lost as waste heat, while for coal and oil plants the figure is up to 70 per cent ... the development of efficient thermoelectric devices would allow some of this waste heat to be recycled cheaply and easily, something that has been beyond us, up until now."

The only way to get a temperature gradient across the new gadget is to increase the temperature of the cold end of the power station - so it produces less electricity. I'm feeling a little bit sceptical right now...

Britain takes delivery of first Nissan e-cars



Yes. It's a car aimed directly at the rich, yet all taxpayers will be subsidising it.

So much for progressive policies.

Who are the biggest electric car liars - the BBC, or Tesla Motors?


But in reality...

... the electric car would be used for a short journey to work, where a slow speed charger would charge the electric car over 8 hours whilst the driver was sat at a desk, before the short return journey. As long as the driver is doing something else, it doesn't matter how long the charging takes.

Indeed, car journeys are so short that most could be replaced with bicycles on, largely, a one-for-one swap, if we as a nation could be bothered to think rather more about what cyclists want, not just what car drivers want. In the 1960s, The Netherlands had the same attitude towards cars as in the UK, but they deliberately, not accidentally, decided to take a different approach.

South African wireless traffic lights pillaged by SIM-card thieves


UK too

"In the UK this practice was considered to deprive the exchequer of petrol duty revenue and councils were prohibited from using it till as recently as a couple of years back. So having traffic lights along major routes talk to each other is actually a very good idea and is the de-facto standard outside the UK."

The UK has had synchronised traffic lights for a long time. TRANSYT was (and still is to a large extent) the software which does the calculations for it. TRANSYT goes back to the days of punched card data entry.

Plasma space-drive aces efficiency numbers: Set for ISS in 2014



"Give me a place to stand, and I will move the earth" - Archimedes.

Has CERN made the VATICAN ANTIMATTER BOMB for real?*


Being even more pedantic

" in fact it would take 300 billion years by his estimates."

Before the Haber process was invented, producing ammonia in industrial quantities was very difficult. To fuse hydrogen and nitrogen required a lot of heat and pressure.After the Haber process, using iron as a catalyst, it was all much easier.

What happens when they figure out what makes antimatter tick? Do we get an anti-Haber process?

MoD braced for painful weight-loss surgery next week


Nice theory

"Even if you can find an enemy with lots of tanks and artillery to have a fight with, it makes far more sense to simply blast them in safety from the air using precision weapons, than to fight them on their own terms. Tackling enemy tanks using tanks of your own - in these days of all-weather aircraft, airborne radar and guided weapons - is rather like killing rottweilers by getting down on all fours and biting them to death."

Only, it didn't work in Kosovo. The Serbian armour didn't need to concentrate in one place, since it wasn't facing Nato armour. The Serbs deployed decoys, and many of these were hit instead. The armour is the anvil against which the airpower hammer is wielded.


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