* Posts by LeeE

607 posts • joined 12 Apr 2012

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IT at sea makes data too easy to see: Ships are basically big floating security nightmares

LeeE
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Re: Just too smiple for words.

"Smiple?

Does not compute, Captain."

Kames prefect snese.

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Moon trumps Mars in new US space policy

LeeE
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Policy for Future American Leadership in Space

...and "America must be as dominant in space as we are here on Earth”

It's really difficult not to interpret statements like these as indicative of a deeply rooted feeling of insecurity and paranoia in the American psyche.

Why, when the U.S. actually has a record of high achievement, should it feel this way? There must be an underlying reason for it.

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LeeE
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Is it hit by objects nowadays?

Impacts still occur on all bodies in the Solar System, in proportion to their cross-sectional area. For example, the Earth, with a cross-sectional area of 127516118 km2 will receive about 13.45 times as many impacts as the Moon, with its cross-sectional area of just 9478716 km2

However, the chances of an impact at any specific location, on any specific body, is the same across all bodies, so you'd be as likely to suffer an impact on a Moon base as you would in any particular city on Earth.

On the other hand though, the lack of an atmosphere on the Moon would likely ameliorate the effects of a large impact there, unless it was a more or less direct hit, because the atmosphere on Earth would act as a conductor for the energy of an impact Earth and carry it further away from the impact site in the form of shockwaves and high-speed winds, which can't happen on the Moon. There's not much to catch fire and burn on the surface of the Moon either.

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What does the Moon 4bn years ago and Yahoo! towers this week have in common? Both had an awful atmosphere

LeeE
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It, closer & larger

"When the Moon had that atmosphere, it was nearly three times closer to Earth than it is today and would have appeared nearly three times larger in the sky.”

I think it is a bit poorly worded. Strictly speaking, the 'it' refers to 'that atmosphere' and not the Moon, 'three times' something is usually parsed as three times greater and, for the size of the Moon in the sky, 'larger' could refer to either its area or its diameter.

I think we all knew what he meant though.

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Blade Runner 2049 review: Scott's vision versus Villeneuve's skill

LeeE
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Pan Am Logo

I would not be at all surprised if the Pan Am logo becomes a bit of a meme in further Sci-Fi films, in part because of the films that have already featured it but also because the company is now long-defunct, which probably makes its use easier.

I would also not be at all surprised if this does not happen.

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Blade Runner 2049: Back to the Future – the movies that showed us what's to come

LeeE
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Re: The Machine / Chappie...

"True self-learning AI ?"

I was a bit surprised that there wasn't an entry for self-aware AI on the list.

The first unequivocally self-aware/sentient AI that I can think of was HAL 9000, in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Whilst the plot of Metropolis revolved around a robot that could seemingly pass for human, the robot itself did not appear to be self-aware, self-motivated or even have its own character; it just did its master's bidding.

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Foiled again! Brit military minds splash cash on killing satellites with... food wrapping?

LeeE
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Re: Currently... [Chinese test]

The Chinese test of which you refer took place in early 2007, so hardly current. And as you point out, it more or less doubled the amount of junk in orbit. The Chinese weren't the first to do this though; the U.S. carried out a similar test in 1985, although the satellite in the U.S. test was at a lower orbit and the last 'catalogued' bit of debris had de-orbited by 2008. However, I don't think anyone really knows how many uncatalogued (smaller) pieces of debris remain from the U.S. test - these would have been scattered further than the larger catalogued pieces.

And yes, the U.S. did shoot down one of its NRO satellites in 2008, but this was at an altitude of just ~150 miles, so most of that junk will have de-orbited by now.

Of course, no discussion of space junk would be complete without mention of project West Ford.

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LeeE
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Currently...

"Currently, space junk is destroyed by firing rockets at it."

Are El Reg's journos now deliberately trying to troll its readers? It's difficult to believe that's an honest mistake.

Anyway, hitting a piece of 'space junk' with a rocket, whether it relies just upon kinetic energy or has an explosive warhead, will not destroy the item of space junk; it will just turn that single item of space junk in to many items of smaller and more difficult to track space junk, spread out over a greater volume of space.

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FreeBSD gains eMMC support so … errr … watch out, Android

LeeE
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Linux kernel builds

I can't say that I've ever really had problems building my own Linux kernels, since the later 2.0 kernels - around 1999. Yes, there are one or two things to watch out for but by stripping out all the drivers and sub-systems I don't need means less stuff to go wrong and a reduced attack surface. My kernel packages are between one third to one half the size of a typical distro supplied kernel and come in at ~12/13MB, not that the size, in and of itself, is all that important.

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Developers' timezone fail woke half of New Zealand

LeeE
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Extinct vs. Dormant

"Isn't there an "extinct unless proven active" thing for volcanoes...?"

It's the other way around. Many volcanoes were thought to be extinct until we finally got our heads around the time scales involved and realised that they were just dormant. For example, the average interval between major eruptions of Yellowstone is ~600,000 years, so the last major eruption occurred about 350,000 years before the appearance of modern humans on Earth. Moving down the scale somewhat, it wasn't really until the 1914-17 eruptions of Lassen Peak in the Cascades that it was realised that all the Cascade volcanoes were merely dormant and not extinct.

Essentially, the only volcanoes that are definitely extinct are those that no longer have a magma supply due to tectonic drift, which carries the volcanic edifice away from its magma source. These include ancient hot-spot/magma-plume volcanoes, such as those north of Hawaii, along the Hawaiian–Emperor seamount chain, and the Deccan and Siberian Traps. Sea floor spreading, from mid-ocean rifts, also moves volcanoes away from their magma source and include those along the eastern and western boundaries of the Atlantic, such as Glen Coe and the Cuillens in Scotland.

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LeeE
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Re: "tectonically tenuous"

I just want to know WTF it means.

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LeeE
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Re: Aukward moment

"What time is it, when an elephant sits on your fence?"

Time to get a new fence.

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Microsoft shows off Windows 10 Second Li, er, Mixed Reality

LeeE
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Barrier to adoption?

In a world where, for many, personal appearance and style seems to be the most important aspect of life, methinks a lot of people won't be very keen on being watched while they're behaving as though they had St.Vitus's Dance.

Filming an office full of randomly jerking business suits would make for a pretty bizarre video.

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Mainframes are hip now! Compuware fires its dev environment into cloud

LeeE
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A confession

Ok - I liked COBOL.

I wouldn't use it for any number-wrangling stuff; I'd use FORTRAN for that, but I thought it was good for collating data and moving it around. At the time I was using it, in the mid to late 80's, I was happy using it for both batch processing and 80x25 'green-screen' displays, where screen layout via working-storage in the data division was a doddle. I especially liked what you could do with REDEFINES in working storage. Once though, I had to use the memory segmentation feature, on a large prog that had to run in the 128kb of an ICL DRS-20 (8085 cpu), and although it felt like a bit of a messy compromise, it actually worked and made the difference between being able to do what was needed and not being able to do it all. Personally, I didn't mind its verbosity.

It was far from perfect, of course - Oh! how amusing to have your biggish compilation fail with several thousand errors, every line of code having thrown up a syntax error after the missing '.' at the beginning of the Identification Division.

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Geoboffins claim to find oldest trace of life in rocks 4bn years old

LeeE
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Re: "...Canadian rocks 3.95 billion years ago..."

"Thus we Canadians will be submitting our territorial claim for the entire planet."

Sorry buddy, the Australians beat you to it with the 4.39 billion year old zircons they found in the Jack Hills, Western Australia.

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LeeE
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Re: More fake news

+1 for mention of William Smith.

Recommended read: The Map that changed the World, by Simon Winchester, ISBN 0-140-28039-1

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LeeE
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Re: More fake news

"This bible doesn't say the earth is only 6000 years old."

The ~6000 years figure comes from James Ussher's 'Annales veteris testamenti, a prima mundi origine deducti ("Annals of the Old Testament, deduced from the first origins of the world")' which, for its time, was a reasonable bit of research. Apart from the fact that all of his research material consisted of after-the-event fiction and propaganda.

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US yanks staff from Cuban embassy over sonic death ray fears

LeeE
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Sonic Attack

In case of Sonic Attack on your district, follow these rules:

If you are making love it is imperative to bring all bodies to orgasm simultaneously.

Do not waste time blocking your ears.

Do not waste time seeking a "sound proofed" shelter.

Try to get as far away from the sonic source as possible

Do not panic

Do not panic

Use your wheels. It is what they are for.

Small babies may be placed inside the special cocoons

and should be left, if possible, in shelters.

Do not attempt to use your own limbs.

If no wheels are available - metal - not organic -

limbs should be employed whenever practical.

[...]

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Ancient fat black holes created by belching Big Bang's dark matter

LeeE
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Re: So...

The generally critical/sceptical nature of the comments in this 'So...' thread (so far, as I write this) are sort of understandable because the hypothesis we're talking about depends so strongly upon something we can't prove to be true and only really understand in terms of it being an anomaly i.e. Dark Matter.

The trouble with this attitude though, is that if we don't try out different plausible hypotheses then how else are we going to find answers? Should we simply label that aspect of the universe and physics as "There be dragons", no longer even try to understand it and just leave it at that?

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WDC's My Cloud Home Duo is a natty piece of kit but beware iContent

LeeE
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Looks?

"...and the shiny white upper half and textured silver metallic lower half combine to make a basic box look interesting"

It doesn't look at all interesting to me; it just looks like something I might have knocked up in the shed, when I didn't have one empty case of the right size.

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Hurricane Maria leaves Arecibo radio telescope damaged and dark

LeeE
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Re: Puncturing the metal mesh of the main dish

The main reflector of the Arecibo telescope is supported by steel cables and if any of these have been severed then it'll be likely to affect the alignment of larger areas of the dish. Similarly, some of the supporting cables, even if not severed, may have been over-stressed and may need to be replaced.

Quite frankly, I'm a bit surprised that they didn't lower the main receiver platform, not only to reduce the height it might drop but also to reduce stress on the supporting towers; hopefully, these have not been damaged or over-stressed.

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Sputnik-1 replica used to test the real thing goes under the hammer

LeeE
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Re: Not quite

@Simon Rockman: it seems rather odd, confusing and somewhat misleading to claim that Sputnik 1 was only left in orbit because the USSR didn't have the capability to return it to Earth when the US did exactly the same thing with their first orbital satellite, Explorer 1. Both satellites were intended to stay in orbit, where they could produce useful data, rather than return to Earth, where they could not.

Whilst the US started testing re-entry vehicles suitable for sub-orbital IRBMs in 1956, the entry in to service of the R-7 Semyorka in 1959 shows that the USSR had, by then, ICBM re-entry vehicles capable of re-entry from orbit, which suggests that the USSR must have started research and development in this area to around the same time-frame as the US; it seems that if the US had any lead over the USSR in re-entry vehicle capability it wasn't very great or of any practical significance because the US didn't have orbital capable boosters, at least for non-trivial payloads, until the entry in to service of the SM-65 Atlas booster, also in 1959.

If there was any clear lead during the early stages of the 'Space Race' it was by the USSR, largely because they focused all their efforts and resources upon developing the single R-7 project. The US, on the other hand, were somewhat hampered by the in-fighting and splitting of resources between the entirely separate and competing US Army and US Navy projects.

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GitLab freezes GraphQL project amid looming Facebook patent fears

LeeE
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Re: Facebook trying to do the right thing?

They aren't actually trying to do the right thing - they're just trying to give the appearance of doing the right thing.

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Behold iOS 11, an entirely new computer platform from Apple

LeeE
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Object Oriented Computing

[...ambitious new feature that harks back almost 30 days...]

Damned new-fangled hoopamajiggy idea that'll never take off.

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UK Prime Minister calls on internet big beasts to 'auto-takedown' terror pages within 2 HOURS

LeeE
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Re: Why not fuck off and sort out Brexit instead

I doubt that there's any real intention to actually do or have something done about this; it's just a no-lose announcement intended to make the Prime Sinister* look like she cares. When it doesn't work it won't be her fault but that of the tech industry.

First rule of Politician Club: It's never your fault.

* Yeah, I know it's a bit childish but it's a reminder to myself of her enthusiasm and desire for widespread and unrestricted domestic spying powers when Home Secretary.

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Sure, HoloLens is cute, but Ford was making VR work before it was cool

LeeE
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Build Quality

I think that improvements in build quality are more likely due to increased use of automation/robots than VR.

Although well outside your 'last decade or so', along with my fellow engineering students, in 1973 I visited Ford's Dagenham Plant and one of the process stages that stuck in my mind was the finishing of the join between the roof panel and the rear pillar of the Cortina Mk3; the roof panel and rear pillar had a spot-welded overlap joint and this was covered over with a metal filler (which actually looked like solder) and then manually ground smooth with angle-grinders to produce the final shape or form. The grinding was done purely by eye and each worker on the line had their own aesthetic sense of what looked right with the result that, once you were aware of it, you could see clear variations from car to car. Less common were variations between different sides of the same vehicle and I speculated that these might have occurred as a result of a change of shift.

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Hubble catches a glimpse WASP-12b, an almost pitch-black exoplanet

LeeE
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Right turn?

Yes, it was a bit remiss to use that illustration without explaining it.

I believe it's meant to show that the orbit of WASP-12b around its star is close to its Roche Limit and is forming a ring.

Planets are held together by their own gravity but if you move a planet close enough to a star (its Roche Limit) then the gravitational tidal force from the star is greater than the gravitational force that holds the planet together. The result is that the planet starts to come apart and form a ring around the star. Saturn's rings, apart from the outer 'E' & Phoebe rings, were formed in this way.

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Yet more British military drones crash, this time into the Irish Sea

LeeE
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All weather claims

Given its low weight and high aspect ratio wings and tail surfaces, any claim of an all-weather capability, at least with regard to strong winds, is very dubious.

Its sensors may well allow it to fly ok in limited optical visibility, such as fog, rain or snow*, but I wouldn't reckon much on its chances in strong winds and turbulent conditions.

* But if my memory serves me correctly, even that seems to have been a factor in one of the earlier crashes)

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AMD Ryzen beats Intel Core i7 as a heater (that's also a server)

LeeE
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Swimming pools on roofs

Although not generally applicable to purpose built DCs, which tend to use inert gas fire suppressants, many of the swimming pools on the roofs of buildings, especially multi-story buildings, are usually primarily put there to act as the reservoir for the sprinkler system.

In most cases, the mains water supply has insufficient capacity for a sprinkler system, which needs to deliver a lot of water very quickly, but you can't use a pump to try to draw water from the main at a higher rate, by under-pressuring it, without the risk of collapsing the main.

Thus, for sprinkler systems, you need a large reservoir at the top of the building that can be trickle-charged, as it were, in times of non-fire and in suitable climates these can double up as swimming pools.

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New Horizons probe awakens to receive software upgrade

LeeE
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What will they do if they find out the duck is made of wood?

Of course the duck is made of wood:...

BEDEVERE: So, why do witches burn?

VILLAGER #3: B--... 'cause they're made of wood?

BEDEVERE: Good!

CROWD: Oh yeah, yeah.

BEDEVERE: So, how do we tell whether she is made of wood?

VILLAGER #1: Build a bridge out of her.

BEDEVERE: Aah, but can you not also make bridges out of stone?

VILLAGER #2: Oh, yeah.

BEDEVERE: Does wood sink in water?

VILLAGER #1: No, no.

VILLAGER #2: It floats! It floats!

VILLAGER #1: Throw her into the pond!

CROWD: The pond!

BEDEVERE: What also floats in water?

VILLAGER #1: Bread!

VILLAGER #2: Apples!

VILLAGER #3: Very small rocks!

VILLAGER #1: Cider!

VILLAGER #2: Uhhh, gravy!

VILLAGER #1: Cherries!

VILLAGER #2: Mud!

VILLAGER #3: Churches -- churches!

VILLAGER #2: Lead -- lead!

ARTHUR: A duck.

CROWD: Oooh.

BEDEVERE: Exactly! So, logically...

VILLAGER #1: If... she... weighs the same as a duck.. she's made of wood.

I rest my case.

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Signs of ground ice found on ancient protoplanet asteroid Vesta

LeeE
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Re: Water from comets or asteroids?

"Did the water on Earth occur as a part of planet building (and also other planets)? Or did the water need to come from someplace else?"

Water would have been fairly evenly distributed amongst the stuff from which the Solar System formed and it also seems probable that the inner planets were at least partially formed by the time that Sol ignited because the solar pressure from Sol, after its ignition, would have prevented or disrupted their formation. Thus, it seems likely that Earth, and the other inner planets, would have already possessed as much water as anything else in the solar system when and as they formed.

Furthermore, if Earth acquired water from asteroid and cometary impacts then the vast majority of this would have arrived during the Late Heavy Bombardment, from about 4.1 to 3.8 billion years ago, but the earliest zircons found indicate that Earth already had surface water about 4.4 billion years ago. And whilst the asteroid and cometary impacts during the LHB would have delivered water to Earth, the high-energy nature of those impacts would have meant that a quite a bit of that water in those asteroids and comets would have been turned to free vapour by the impact and lost to space.

It seems then, that the asteroid and cometary impacts would have delivered some of Earth's water but didn't supply the majority of it.

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The new, new Psion is getting near production. Here's what it looks like

LeeE
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Sadly commonplace occurrence here, these days.

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LeeE
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Re: Pocketability

"Can files created or saved in Android be seen from Linux, or are they on completely different partitions?"

I imagine that the Android filesystem could be placed in a folder on the Linux filesystem but that would make it rather fragile. I'd prefer and, quite frankly, expect them to be on different partitions. It shouldn't be a problem to mount the Android partition on Linux though.

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LeeE
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Re: Great start ....

I really like the idea of being able to run the same linux on a pocketable device as I do on my servers, workstations and laptops/notebooks. Atm I'm using an old MSI Wind as my not-quite ultra-portable but one of these would remove that 'not-quite' qualifier.

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Gov claws back £645m in BT broadband from subsidy

LeeE
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Re: Er.. what?

"Gov claws back £645m in BT broadband from subsidy"

..."Gov claws back £645m from BT broadband subsidy ?"

Probably.

But if a similar sort of thing appeared in a system or program specification would you just unquestioningly do what you thought was probably intended?

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F-35 firmware patches to be rolled out 'like iPhone updates'

LeeE
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Versioning scheme

Hmm... If they're going from 3i to 3F it seems to imply that they didn't anticipate needing more than 26 interim versions between each major release.

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Red Hat speed fiends celebrate automation

LeeE
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Why the focus on speed?

It seems to me that the major benefit of these automated management systems is not speed of action but a combination of consistency and concentration of expertise.

I think the virtue of consistency speaks for itself but whilst these management systems do not have any inbuilt expertise they allow the expertise of those techs who do have it to be projected beyond their physical presence, as it were; the people who do know how to do things properly don't have to do everything personally and individually. Thus, the expertise is put in to the management system and the management system then distributes it.

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Vid game's easiest level makes players white, hardest level makes them black

LeeE
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Why pissed off?

'If they select the game's easiest level, their character has white skin. At higher levels, the character's skin becomes progressively darker. “Don't worry,” says South Park character Eric Cartman during the difficulty selection process, “this doesn't affect combat, just every other aspect of your life.”'

I think that this is a superbly laconic expression of a fundamental truth about the human condition. If it pisses anyone off then it's because they're in denial about that truth.

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Oracle 'systematically denies' its sales reps their commissions, forces them to work to pay off 'debts', court told

LeeE
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Facepalm

Re: Just when you thought...

Re Pratchett: Doh! - you're correct, of course.

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LeeE
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Re: Just when you thought...

"So even in the (probably unlikely) event that Oracle goes titsup (which I definitely see happening some time in the future)"

Umm... something that is unlikely to happen is definitely going to happen?

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Flying electric taxi upstart scores $90m from investors

LeeE
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Re: Using the jets instead of a rudder

@Eddy Ito: Whilst it's true that some washout, along with vertical surfaces, on the wing tips can aid yaw stability on swept wings, I'm still not convinced that they'd help restore yaw stability once it had been lost. Variable aerofoils are a nice idea but fiendishly difficult to implement, and I can't really see it helping much with yaw.

You're absolutely right about the yaw issues with flying wings: one of the problems with the X/YB-35s was that they took far too long to line up and stabilise for the bomb-run due to lack of positive yaw control and some aircrew actually reported suffering from motion-sickness while trying to get it flying straight. The addition of vertical control surfaces to the YB-49 only compensated for the removal of the prop-shaft fairings, which acted as vertical stabilisers on the XB-35, and didn't actually improve yaw control beyond that of the XB-35.

The earliest flying wing designs of which I'm aware are those of J. W. Dunne; apparently his 1912 D.8 was rejected by the War Office, funnily enough, because it overemphasised stability at the expense of controllability. It has to be said though, that Dunne's primary objective with his swept-wing tailless biplane designs was stability. I suspect that up-sized Dunne designs might have made good bombers (for their time) but as far as I'm aware no consideration was given to this.

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LeeE
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Re: Using the jets instead of a rudder

@ArrZarr: "Wouldn't it be possible to vary the strength of each jet to act as a virtual rudder instead of a physical vertical tailplane?"

One big problem with using differential thrust for control is that its effectiveness is linked to the power settings; at low power settings you have very little control authority, which is not a Good Thing, especially when trying to land.

@Eddy Ito: "Finally, if the wing sweep is sufficient it might be done passively such that as the aircraft yaws the leading wing presents greater surface area and more drag providing a restoring torque in the same way the wings dihedral results in a differential lift when the plane begins to roll."

The increase in drag on the 'leading' or advancing wing is due to an increase of its effective span (which increases the presented cross-sectional area, not the surface area) but this effective increase in span (and decrease in sweep) results in differential lift, which in turn results in a roll. Because the wing produces more lift than drag, which is pretty crucial if you actually want to fly, a passive solution isn't really viable - the rolling factor will be greater than the retarding factor and you'll soon be inverted. And still in yaw.

There was some thinking, a decade or two ago, that future fighter-class aircraft might be able to do away with all flight control surfaces; not just the rudder but the ailerons and elevators etc. too. The advantage of this idea is that the wing design can be both more simple and stronger for the same mass (weight) due to not having to 'waste' some of its mass on control stuff. But, as I mentioned above, your control authority then becomes linked to the power settings and even trimming the aircraft for different regimes becomes problematic. An adaptable wing would get around this but then you're back to trading structural wing mass for control wing mass.

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Facebook ran $100k of deliberately divisive Russian ads ahead of 2016 US election

LeeE
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Re: Just when you thought...

@h4rm0ny: a simple up-vote seems insufficient for such a well put comment.

"If you want to know what someone else is doing wrong, read your own news. If you want to know what your side are doing wrong - read theirs."

That's an aphorism well worth remembering.

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Big Tech fumes over Prez Trump's decision to deport a million kids

LeeE
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WTF is going on?

What's happening in the U.S.A. seems to me to be devoid of considered and rational thought. The image of a headless chicken keeps coming to mind - a 400lb one, randomly ricocheting off of the rest of the world as it follows its drunkard's walk to Clapton knows where. I feel that I now know what happens when the lunatics are put in charge of running the asylum: chaos.

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Airbus issues patch to prevent A350 airliner fuel tanks exploding

LeeE
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Re: I Am Not An Aeronautical Engineer

@SkippyBing: Summary & link to report (pdf):

https://www.gov.uk/aaib-reports/1-2010-boeing-777-236er-g-ymmm-17-january-2008

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LeeE
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Re: Stop <> prevent

@DropBear: In the context of the article stop can't apply to something that hasn't started because there is nothing, as yet, to be stopped. Prevent can only be applied before something has started because if you try to apply prevent to something that has already started then it was not prevented.

I agree that prevent isn't ideal though, because it's comprehensive and implies that the outcome can never happen even though only one of many potential causes has been addressed - it really needs the addition of the clause 'for this particular reason'.

I don't think eliminate really gets us anywhere better.

I also don't think it's just splitting hairs either - there was fundamental difference between what was meant and what was actually said.

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LeeE
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Re: Stop <> prevent

@gazthejourno: "Boeing fixes code to stop prevent its aircraft piling into mountain sides"

FTFY

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James Webb Telescope will be infatuated with Europa and Enceladus

LeeE
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Main purpose

Although I'm sure that the JWST will be used to make observations of many objects in our solar system I rather suspect that it will spend the majority of its time observing very distant objects where, due to their red-shift, a lot of the info in which we're interested will have been shifted down to the IR.

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NSA ramps up PR campaign to keep its mass spying powers

LeeE
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Re: @John Smith ... NSA"Last year we proved <redacted> really did kill 20 US citizens at <redacted>

"... sorry, I trust the government which is bound by laws..."

Which government is that then? The point of the article is about how government agencies evidently believe they are not bound by the laws to which you allude.

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