* Posts by LeeE

844 posts • joined 12 Apr 2012

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Lo and behold, Earth's special chemical cocktail for life seems to be pretty common

LeeE
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Looking for life around white dwarf stars

The main thrust of the article - that the "building blocks for life" are fairly common throughout the galaxy - seems straightforward enough, but all the talk about white dwarf stars seems out of place.

A white dwarf star is a stellar remnant - it's what's left after a main sequence star has gone through its red giant phase, so if there had been life around the progenitor star i.e. before the red giant phase, it would either have had to leave or get fried.

Once the red giant has finally used all of its remaining fuel it will collapse to form a white dwarf, about the size of Earth but with a mass comparable to the Sun. It'll have no internal source of energy now though, and only radiate the thermal energy gained from its collapse, so once it has formed it will inexorably start to cool down and this is a problem for the subsequent development of new life because the habitable zone will change relatively quickly, in the order of a few billion years, so if life did develop it might not have very long to get used to it.

In addition, although white dwarf stars can start out to be very hot > 100,000K, their small size means that any habitable zone would have to be relatively close to the star, far closer than Earth, and quite likely to be close enough to be tidally locked.

Then there's the issue of where these closely orbiting planets have come from, following the red giant phase that would have entirely engulfed any existing planets in those regions.

I'm not saying that any of this can't happen, but white dwarf star systems seem an unlikely sort of place to look for life.

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Juno this ain't right! Chinese hackers target Alaska

LeeE
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Re: Tsinghua IP

"Unless it's all a double bluff?"

I suspect it's all propaganda.

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HPE flies low-energy Eagle into National Renewable Energy Lab's data centre

LeeE
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Low energy?

I can't see how this could be regarded as a low-energy computer either.

Capturing 97% of the 'wasted' heat for possible re-use doesn't make it low-energy - the energy still has to be used.

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Oh my Tosh, it's only a 100TB small form-factor SSD, SK?

LeeE
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I think the price is "read-intensive".

QLC 3D NAND just doesn't have the durability for lots of writes, at least in its current forms, so whilst it seems suitable for archival purposes I can't see it really having much use in more general server and workstation workloads.

In view of the relatively lower cost of MLC, perhaps extreme redundancy - let's say up to 10x over-provisioning - might bring the write endurance for an SSD device up to more acceptable levels but NAND, especially MLC types, rely heavily upon error correction and this might become a limiting factor - the SSD device may end up having to spend too much time monitoring, managing and correcting itself.

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Boffins blame meteorites for creating Earth's oldest rocks

LeeE
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Re: Confused

"how they can be the earliest?"

I think what was meant was that they are (amongst) the earliest rocks for which we have evidence i.e. they still exist - any older rocks have been entirely reprocessed by erosion or complete remelting deep inside the Earth and no longer exist in any identifiable form.

The Acasta Gneisses are not quite reckoned to be the oldest rocks - at ~4.4 Gy old zircons from the Jack Hills in Australia are older, but they are believed to be the oldest exposed rocks.

What bothers me about the hypotheses is that metamorphic rocks are formed under both temperature and pressure, with pressure seeming to play a greater part - Wikipedia says that the temperatures just need to be greater than 150-200C (the original rock doesn't need to be remelted to be transformed to metamorphic rock) but the pressures need to be greater than 100 megapascals (1,000 bar). Now whilst a meteorite impact will create great pressure, it will be in the form of a brief shock wave, which will have more of a brisant shattering effect than a compressing effect, and indeed, it is these shattering effects, such as 'shatter cones' and 'shocked quartz' that are regarded as proof of an impact.

Another problem is that whilst an impact event could certainly produce temperatures high enough to remelt surface rocks it would also mix them all up in that melting but all the pics of Acasta Gneiss that I've seen show some banding, which suggests that they weren't mixed up - the stratification appears to have been preserved.

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IPv6: It's only NAT-ural that network nerds are dragging their feet...

LeeE
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Re: "the world is clinging stubbornly to IPv4"

IPv6 is necessary for IoT, and IoT isn't just about 'smart' kettles etc.

For example, yesterday I read the RAIB report on the derailment at Loch Eilt on 22nd Jan 2018, which was due to a landslide. The landslide occurred at some time after the last train of the 21st had run and wasn't detected until the first train of the 22nd ran in to it*

Whilst systems are available to detect landslides in remote locations they could be described as being fairly primitive, usually relying upon the deflection or separation of a length of one or more wires, strung alongside the tracks, by falling rocks or movement of the underlying ground; they work ok but are a bit Heath-Robinsonish and, being primarily mechanical, are rather fragile (as a safety system) and need regular maintenance.

An IoT solution, using simple strain gauges and movement sensors, would be both cheaper, provide more information i.e. the exact location and scale of the slide, be more reliable and require less maintenance. But you needs lots and lots of them - IPv6 is ideal for this sort of stuff.

* The location at which the landslide occurred wasn't considered to be at high risk from such events so the expense of installing one of the current types of warning system there couldn't reasonably be justified; an IoT solution should be a lot less expensive though, through lower initial & maintenance costs.

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Hmm, there's something fishy about this graph charting AMD's push into Intel's server turf

LeeE
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Re: (misleading stats)

I've got to disagree; the two axis are clearly labelled, indicating the different windows and scaling, so there's really nothing 'misleading' about them.

People will only be mislead if they don't pay attention.

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Basic bigot bait: Build big black broad bots – non-white, female 'droids get all the abuse

LeeE
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Re: Automatically fails....

Using well known "celebrities" as the control subjects in an experiment where you're not assessing the influence of celebrity in the test subjects seems seriously flawed.

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Drink this potion, Linux kernel, and tomorrow you'll wake up with a WireGuard VPN driver

LeeE
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Re: Why?

"The Linux kernel is already heading towards bloat central."

By which criteria do you judge that - binary kernel packages, source tree, occupancy? And what do you mean by 'bloat'?

Growth in the size of the Linux kernel is inevitable over the course of time due to the addition of new features and drivers. However, much of that growth can be countered by compiling your own kernels and omitting all the stuff that you know you don't need. This also reduces the number of sub-systems where things might go wrong and can also reduce the attack surface too. Of course, you need to have a good idea of what you're doing, which brings us to:

"It seems to me that some Linux developers need to remember the design decisions that were made to try to make running Linux easier!"

I can't recall anyone ever claiming that Linux was designed to make running it easier [easier than what?]

But there are two issues here: why should Linux be easy to run and why do you think it isn't easy to run?

Is it wise to make it easier for people who don't know what they're doing, and who don't comprehend the consequences of what they're doing, to do those things? Would it not be a little like allowing anyone, of any age, to drive an automobile without first demonstrating competence?

I could understand the desire to make Linux easier to run if it was just a toy, but it isn't.

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Brit comms providers told: You must tell people when their cheap contract's about to end

LeeE
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Frankie Laine - they don't make 'em like that any more.

Not that I'm a fan of that particular genre - but can't deny that he could hold a tune.

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Beam me up, UK.gov: 'Extra-terrestrial markup language' booted off G-Cloud

LeeE
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Well done to A51 for getting their obvious joke published on a government website.

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FBI boss: We went to the Moon, so why can't we have crypto backdoors? – and more this week

LeeE
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Re: Man on the sun

"It's not physically impossible to put someone 'on' the sun, just insanely difficult."

Without some form of force-field, it actually is impossible to put someone 'on' the Sun.

The temperature of Sol's photosphere is ~5700K but the most refractive metal, Tungsten, melts at just 3695K. But even if you could find a usable compound that could maintain its integrity as a vessel at those temperatures then without a cooling system everything inside it would also soon reach the same temperature. That cooling system would have to remove the heat from inside the vessel to somewhere cooler, which would mean far away from the Sun - think heat-pipes that are tens of thousands of miles long. Trouble is, not only would the cooling system need to be able to transport heat energy away from the vessel but it would also need to be able to keep itself cool enough to maintain its own integrity.

Then there's the issue of radiating heat away in space...

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Shock Land Rover Discovery: Sellers could meddle with connected cars if not unbound

LeeE
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Re: GDPR to the rescue

"JLR needs a bullet-proof method for this to be automatically disconnected when the vehicle changes hands. I don't know how you do this..."

This is an unreasonable demand to make of JLR because any such automatic bullet-proof method would be dependent upon a similarly bullet-proof system/process whereby JLR is informed of the sale of any of their vehicles, including private sales.

I don't know how you do this...

No, and neither does anyone else, because it would require a legal obligation on the part of the seller of a vehicle to notify the manufacturer of that vehicle when it is sold, for without such an obligation upon the seller there would be no means for the manufacturer to receive notice of the sale and transfer of ownership.

And that's the problem with simplistic remedies like: "There is a bullet-proof method. It's called 'reminding' JLR that they can be fined up to 4% of global revenue..."

Whilst there's clearly a problem here it's not simply down to the manufacturer, despite all the outrage and simplistic but flawed solutions.

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Alien sun has smashing time sucking up planets

LeeE
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Re: what happens to planetary material sucked into stars

You need to remember the difference in scale between a star and a planet. In our solar system, with a not particularly large star, Sol accounts for 99.86% of the mass of the entire system, with the four gas giants accounting for just ~0.1386% of the total.

So, compared with a star, even gas giants are tiny and the amount of hydrogen they could deliver as potential fusion fuel is negligible. Rocky planets aren't even worth thinking about..

Having said that, there will be systems where you have a very small red dwarf orbited by a large brown dwarf, where the BD could be a significant fraction of the mass of the RD.

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Official probe into HPE’s Oz 3Par crashes would create 'further negative publicity' if revealed

LeeE
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Re: Reading between the lines...

@Stoneshop: No, I wasn't, but I don't think it makes much difference with regard to the question of whether the ATO are trying to protect HPE or point the finger of blame at them. It was the ambiguity in the ATO statement, and whether that ambiguity might have been intentional, or not, that I found interesting.

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LeeE
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Reading between the lines...

"the prospect of further negative publicity it could generate for HPE"

It's very interesting that the ATO only mentions HPE in its letter of denial when DXC were also involved "...tech services giant DXC, which installed the storage boxes..." in the implementation.

Are the ATO trying to protect HPE or are they implying blame?

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Azure running out of internets in UK South, starts rationing VMs

LeeE
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Re: Its not so grim up here

I have to wonder whether this issue might actually be due to DC cooling problems rather than a shortage of HW to run up new VMs in those DCs.

If it is due to a lack of HW to run up new VMs then it implies unforeseen business growth. On the other hand, given the current weather, unforeseen cooling needs seems more likely.

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Apache Cassandra at 10: Making a community believe in NoSQL

LeeE
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Features-led approach

"Proponents of Cassandra argue that the features-led approach of the current PMC will help to fight off such competitors..."

Personally, I'm not a fan of 'features-led' approaches in software development because, in my experience, they lead to frequent breakages, long-standing unfixed bugs, incompatibility between versions and upgrade problems.

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UK.gov is ready to talk data safeguards with the EU – but still wants it all

LeeE
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Re: Conflicted

"...the Data Protection Act has much in common with GDPR and will effectively enhance it."

Enhance it for whom - the data subject, or the data user?

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LeeE
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Re: DNA?

The idea of using an offer of access to the UK's criminal DNA database, to the EU, as a bargaining chip is really quite bizarre - it really highlights a fundamental difference in attitude between the UK and the EU with regard to the rights of the individual.

The UK just doesn't seem to, or is simply refusing to understand. How it thinks it will achieve anything with such an approach is beyond me.

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I see you're trying to leak a file! US military seeks Clippy-like AI to stop future Snowdens

LeeE
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Re: So then people rely even more on the system, what if it fails?

"So instead of educating the people..."

Yes. The implication of this is that they believe themselves incapable of doing what they require which, on the face of it, does seem worrying.

However, if the quantity of information that needs to be managed becomes great enough then the demand for categorisation and subsequent access control will outstrip the quantity of qualified resources that are capable of doing the work, in which case, an automated system does seem to be the only option.

This is still worrying, of course, but for different reasons; multiple AIs would be needed - at least one each, for categorisation, and another for access control, both of which will need their own high quality training sets. And, ultimately, none of the AIs will be flawless - that gaps will be left is guaranteed.

Ultimately, AIs do have the potential to do a better job than wetware but they still won't solve all problems, and they're very likely to introduce a few new ones.

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Hoping for Microsoft's mythical Andromeda in your Xmas stocking? Don't hold your breath

LeeE
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Re: Definitions time...

"If you get the replacements free it's ok!"

Does the warranty get extended with each replacement or will MS just stop sending replacements once the original warranty period expires?

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Hurry up and make a deal on post-Brexit data flows, would you? Think of UK business – MPs

LeeE
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"And the EU won't allow the US access to EU data via a UK free-for-all slurpgrab. They [the EU] have the GDPR, if the UK doesn't implement it then there will be no UK-EU data deal."

Precisely. The only legal way of accessing data covered by the GDPR is to be compliant with the GDPR. That is the whole point of it; access of that data without GDPR compliance would be illegal. Thus, the EU would have to regard itself as breaking its own law if it provided access outside of the GDPR.

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CIMON says: Say hello to your new AI pal-bot, space station 'nauts

LeeE
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Re: Is NASA sending 5-year old austronauts now?

"WTF am I doing here? And where's the rest of me?" cried Thomas the Tank Engine.

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Git365. Git for Teams. Quatermass and the Git Pit. GitHub simply won't do now Microsoft has it

LeeE
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Re: EXGIT

Exgit means Exgit.

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Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is it a giant alien space cigar? Whatever it is, boffins are baffled

LeeE
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If it really is dildo shaped (believed to be approx 235m x 35m) then I can't see how it could possibly be a comet because comets form by accretion in a low-gravity environment and are poorly consolidated, and with those proportions and tumbling end-over-end, it wouldn't be able to hold itself together by its own gravity.

The only place that I can think of, where the material could be sufficiently consolidated to hold itself together, would be on a rocky planet, which suggests that it might be a fragment of a destroyed planet or, more probably, a planetesimal in a forming planetary system around a young star, where and when collisions between planetesimals are believed to be common.

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MongoDB turns on, tunes in, drops ACID and goes mobile

LeeE
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"We firmly believe that 80 to 90 per cent of applications don't need transaction"

As well as that there was also:

"There are generations of devs and architects who have been conditioned by 30 or 40 years..."

I italicised conditioned because they're using it pejoratively; reflecting their skepticism of the need for transactional integrity, I can't help feeling a little skeptical of their conscientiousness in implementing it.

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Happy birthday, you lumbering MS-DOS-based mess: Windows 98 turns 20 today

LeeE
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Re: Memories

"Longtime readers will also note that 1998 saw The Register lumber online."

Ahh! - the good old days, when El Reg journos knew what they were talking about, and used to proof read their articles before posting them.

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UK.gov outsourcers must prove their 'social value' to win contracts

LeeE
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Re: social value

What does it mean?

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UK taxman has amassed voice profiles of 5.1 million taxpayers

LeeE
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Re: Give it a year

"What about Boris Johnson's two-word thought on the matter?"

"Woof! Briplp?"

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HMRC: Aria PC's £2m MSN Messenger deals bonanza was VAT fraud

LeeE
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Re: Honest brokers

If HMRC are resorting to using phrases like "must have known" and "ought to have known" it suggests that they haven't actually got any proof and that, sans evidence, they think that their belief alone should be sufficient grounds for a ruling.

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Software changed the world, then died on the first of the month

LeeE
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Re: Wait a minute...

String comparison of a numeric value?

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Skynet for the win? AI hunts down secret testing of nuclear bombs

LeeE
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Re: Need a test signal...

I understood the title of the article but little of the explanation made sense to me.

For example:

"The lab, buried beneath 81 feet of concrete, rock and earth, is blocked out from energy from cosmic rays, electronics and other sources. It means that the data collected is less noisy"

Now I would have thought that under those conditions, deep underground, all you're going to detect are neutrinos and very high energy cosmic rays whereas, I believe, that particles from nuclear testing will have lower energies and would thus be undetectable. The 'normal' way of detecting the products of nuclear testing is by airborne sampling.

But the biggest problem with the idea of using AI to identify rogue nuclear-testing events is the quality of the training data. I don't think that there have been enough real nuclear tests to have gathered sufficient training data and suspect that most of it must have been synthetic, which raises the risk of bias.

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Accountants HATE them: Microsoft's Xbox harnesses blockchain to pay games publishers

LeeE
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I too agree. The problems, as stated, seem to be with data collection and input for processing, and I can't see how a blockchain will help with that.

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NASA eggheads draw up blueprints for spotting, surviving asteroid hits

LeeE
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Re: 2 points here

With regard to "develop[ing] technologies for NEO deflection and disruption missions": this is a potential weapons system of devastating capability and if not done cooperatively with the rest of the world is likely to lead to a new arms race.

Commercial partners will be building everything, of course, but in view of the weapons capability, I can't see how they could be permitted to operate anything.

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Public, private, hybrid cloud? Take a dip in our GreenLake HPE urges

LeeE
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Take a dip in our GreenLake HPE urges

I can't help wondering if this was named after the 'Green Lake' that formally occupied the Kapaho crater in Hawaii, which was recently boiled off and filled with lava from the current lower East Rift Zone eruption.

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Microsoft Azure Europe embraced the other GDPR: Generally Down, Possibly Recovering

LeeE
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Re: MTBF vs Blast Radius

"Azure gives you the option for geographic redundancy."

Compliance with local legislation, such as GDPR, may limit your options for geographic redundancy.

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Capita admits it won't make money on botched NHS England contract

LeeE
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Re: Their Business Model

"On the other hand, the work has saved the NHS some £60m over the past two years"

I think it should be borne in mind that the number of admitted failures is likely to be the best-case/lowest impact interpretation of the data and the real number, in terms of actual consequence, is most probably greater. If so, then in view of all the stuff that should have been done over that period, but wasn't, it's easy to see how the 'work' resulted in a saving of money.

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HPE pulls sheets off largest Arm-based supercomputer Astra

LeeE
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A significant article

I think it could be significant that at least one major system h/w manufacturer now thinks that they can make a worthwhile profit from an ARM based system.

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Universal Credit has never delivered bang for buck, but now there's no turning back – watchdog

LeeE
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Re: The government position:

The degree of incompetence demonstrated by the U.K. Govt. in its management of the U.C. project is astounding. It's a bizarre aspect of reality that those same people consider themselves capable of managing the country.

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Ex-Rolls-Royce engineer nicked on suspicion of giving F-35 info to China

LeeE
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Re: Really?

"i'd think a generation or two behind in engines..."

The Spey has actually aged quite well; it still has good low-altitude economy, low maintenance costs and a very good safety record. The more modern Tay is pretty much a Spey, but with a larger fan and higher bypass ratio.

It was an advanced two-spool design when introduced and a lot of the performance improvements since then have been due more to advances in materials science (to allow the engines to run hotter) than fundamental design development.

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LeeE
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Re: Really?

"The Peg engine was a Bristol [Siddeley] design"

Indeed, cobbled together from bits of the Orpheus & Olympus engines.

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Geoboffins baffled as Ceres is crawling with carbon organics

LeeE
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Re: It's life Jim, but not as we know it.

Also: "a sign that [an?] it may have harbored an ancient ocean in its past."

Doesn't really sound plausible, notwithstanding JPL/NASA's speculations, nor its relatively high density; at just ~960 km (~600 miles) diameter Ceres' gravity is just 0.029 g (0.28 m/s2) and with no protection from radiation whatsoever (Ceres has had no magnetosphere) any liquid water on the surface would have been disassociated rather quickly.

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EU-US Privacy Shield not up to snuff, data tap should be turned off – MEPs

LeeE
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Re: Perhaps it's a silly question. . .

"...a political fix is simply not enough."

The U.S. has been a very important market for E.U. goods and the reason why so much time has been spent on trying to find a political solution, and kowtowing to the U.S. in general through various lop-sided agreements, was to preserve that market. However, the recent introduction by the U.S. of import tariffs on E.U. goods could have an effect here, as it makes the U.S. a less valuable and desirable market.

If the U.S. pushes too hard on agreements that favour only itself it may find that other countries will conclude it's just easier to forge new alliances and develop new markets on a more equitable basis.

No single country in the world is as powerful and important as the U.S. seems to believe it is.

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Microsoft will ‘lose developers for a generation’ if it stuffs up GitHub, says future CEO

LeeE
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Re: "Plans integration"

"We are buying GitHub because we like think we've found a way we can make money out of GitHub".

Isn't GitHub really just a PHP front-end to Git?

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NASA finds more stuff suggesting Mars could have hosted life, maybe

LeeE
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Re: Mars had life, but war broke out

"And the remnants had fled to Earth."

That's close to the plot of 'Inherit the Stars' - the first book of the Giant Series by James P. Hogan. The planet was 'Minerva', located in what is now the Asteroid belt, instead of Mars, and the human survivors got to Earth via the Moon, which originally orbited Minerva.

Not a bad read.

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HPE: Exafloppers need to be 'memory-centric' as world cannot afford internode data slinging

LeeE
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Reference to Clos networks?

"Think of a dimension as being like a butterfly's wing."

Usually, when someone says something along the lines of "think of so-and-so as being like a whatnot" it's to help explain something about the 'so-and-so' but 'dimension' as a 'butterfly wing' just made me think wtf?

Was this supposed to be a reference to butterfly topologies/Clos networks?

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GNOMEs beat Microsoft: Git Virtual File System to get a new name

LeeE
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All your VFS are belong to ms.

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USA! USA! We're No.1! And we want to keep it that way – in spaaaace

LeeE
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They want to be #1

It's not just the people of the U.S. wanting to be #1 - it's more like they have a psychotic need to believe they're #1. It's worrying that one of the most powerful nations on Earth feels so neurotically insecure.

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Mailshot meltdown as Wessex Water gets sweary about a poor chap called Tom

LeeE
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Cherry, cake

It's the way it's immediately followed by "Anything else you need to know?" that really puts the cherry on the cake.

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