* Posts by Dr. Ellen

212 posts • joined 14 Jul 2007

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Brain brainiacs figure out what turns folks into El Reg journos, readers

Dr. Ellen
Pint

Pessimist? No.

I am not a pessimist. I am paranoid. My major jobs have required paranoia.

I ran and helped maintain a large Van de Graaf generator. It had high voltages all over the place. Bad things could happen if those voltages got loose. The machine even gave me electric shocks when I wasn't careful to keep me alert.

And then I joined the museum world. Let me put it straight: entropy is out to get your stuff. Your job is to find all the ways entropy can get in, and block them.

As for the glass being half full, or half empty? Forget it. The glass is twice as large as it needs to be to handle the drink.

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Boss helped sysadmin take down horrible client with swift kick to the nether regions

Dr. Ellen

Re: Magical policing

So all the Little Old Lady needed was a bit of exorcise?

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Cosmic prang probe: Euro space boffins to smash sats, virtually

Dr. Ellen

The experiment could be in space, and still not cause permanent debris. Simply have two satellites, aimed carefully at a convenient very-low-orbit crashpoint over the Pacific Spacecraft Graveyard. The immediate debris would make a lovely display, which could be examined for trajectory, brightness and spectrum. That'd give a rough idea of what came out of the crash, size and material and all. Of course there would be things that headed out - but it's an orbit. They'll be back, to very-low-orbit. The whole mess would decay rapidly into the atmosphere, and we'd know where to watch for it.

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Windows 10 to force you to use Edge, even if it isn't default browser

Dr. Ellen
Mushroom

What? More Windows 10 bumf?

I don't plan on using Windows 10, but Microsoft plans on my using it. They seem to think they're in charge. Google has redefined "evil". Apple is just as bad, and twice as expensive. I hope Linux doesn't catch the disease ....

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Developer mistakenly deleted data - so thoroughly nobody could pin it on him!

Dr. Ellen
Boffin

And now for something completely different:

I had an inverse experience of this sort. Way back in the 1960s, I had a night shift on the CDC 3100. (It had a magnificent 12K of 24-bit words!) It wedged. Nothing I could do made it work again. Frustrated, I began pouring curse-words into the console typewriter. Somewhere in all this foulness I must have done something right, because it began working again -- properly. The digital gods answered my prayer.

They really shouldn't stick grad students with the night shift, but I came out okay that time.

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Rhode Island proposes $20 porn tax. Er, haven't we heard this before?

Dr. Ellen

This would be good advertising for VPNs.

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The e-waste warrior, 28,000 copied Windows restore discs, and a fight to stay out of jail

Dr. Ellen
Devil

Re: Oh, come on

In my early days with frameworks, they were hammertone grey. Later, they became beige. These days, legal frameworks are indisputably green.

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Can't wait to get to Mars on a SpaceX ship? It's a cold, dead rock – boffins

Dr. Ellen
Go

Re: Start of a retraction

The problem with Jupiter's larger moons? First, they have their own gravity wells. Second, they are well within Jupiter's gravity well. Third, they are much further away than Mars. It'd take a lot of delta-V to get whatever you were mining to any Terrestrial point-of-sale. The moon and Mars are less habitable than Antarctica, but we do have bases in Antarctica. And you'd need a lot less delta-V to get to the asteroid belt from these smaller worlds. So have robots doing the grunt work -- but it might be wise to have humans there to repair the robots. Both Mars and the moon seem to have enough water to mine for fuel.

Besides, there are research opportunities. The far side of the moon has good radio silence, and lots of the time, no light pollution whatever. Mars is further out, so it'd be useful for VLBI and parallax studies. And liveable or not, they have raw materials to support the studies.

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PACK YOUR BAGS! Two Trappist-1 planets have watery oceans, most likely to be inhabitable

Dr. Ellen

Re: Food chain

Habitable, inhabitable -- same confusion as flammable, inflammable. English is a crazy language, but it sure has a lot of words. It can afford redundancy.

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Feds may have to explain knowledge of security holes – if draft law comes into play

Dr. Ellen
Big Brother

Re: Yeah, Right

And when they're caught not-doing-it, nothing bad will happen to them. Pity what happened to that whistleblower, though.

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1 in 5 STEM bros whinge they can't catch a break in tech world they run

Dr. Ellen

Re: If women are REALLY "equal"...

I don't think you DID read Bambi's comment right, though Bambi could have presented the comments more effectively. The argument was that men and women do not have the same capabilities; the mistake was in using examples involving superior male performance. I don't think anybody feels women would make better weightlifters -- but in my experience, women make better psychologists and doctors. Your mileage may vary, but I doubt it would vary enough that you would assemble a 50/50 Olympics weightlifting team.

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Dr. Ellen

In the 21st century, the finding of reasons to be aggrieved seems universal. Men complain about women, women complain about men, elites complain about deplorables, and hard-working deplorables complain about useless elites. And they ALL complain about their bosses.

Frankly, I think it's the bosses' fault.

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Which distant Mars-alikes could we live on? Ask these Red Planet data-sifters

Dr. Ellen
Boffin

What about the type K stars?

We live on a planet circling a type G main-sequence yellow dwarf star. In our region of space, about 7.5% of the stars are type G. Everybody talks about the type M red dwarfs. That's reasonable: there are a lot of them, about 76% of the stars in our neighborhood. But they don't give out much light. For a planet to be in the Goldilocks Zone, it has to be quite close to the star. It's probably tide-locked. Worse, red dwarfs are given to tantrums, with flares and radiation. I wouldn't want to live next to one.

Why is nobody talking about the type K orange dwarfs? They make up about 12% of the stars in our neighborhood. They're heavier than the red dwarfs, and give off more light -- and they're not nearly as excitable as the red dwarfs. There'd be more mass in the system, the planets would probably be larger, and they'd have more of a chance to keep their atmosphere. Why, they might not be tide-locked, even!

I certainly hope it's because everybody is so busy talking about the planets they don't bother going into fine detail about the stars.

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Universal basic income is a great idea, which is also why it won't happen

Dr. Ellen
FAIL

UBI is not a good idea.

There is an old saying: "Idle hands are the devil's workshop." I don't know if that's one of the official Gods of the Copybook Headings, but it should be. Busy people, people with a job, don't have time to cause trouble. (Politicians and bureaucrats don't count there.) People who have nothing useful to do, will do SOMETHING. Some on the UBI will sit there watching TV. Some will be busily making more people to go on UBI. Some will discover an interest in painting and literature, or perhaps invention. And a lot of the rest will make trouble. Multi-generational welfare is not a pretty sight, and that is, at heart, what UBI would be.

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Brace yourselves, fanboys. Winter is coming. And the iPhone X can't handle the cold

Dr. Ellen

Re: as autumn weather turns to winter

"As autumn weather turns to winter" speaks of countries that are busy having an autumn. In Australia, autumn also turns to winter -- it just does it six months differently than the northern hemisphere. Nearer the equator, things like "rainy season" get their chance to strut.

"Much of the world," I'd say, means "a pretty decent percentage." If they'd said "most", I could go with you. Remember, also, that the northern hemisphere has almost twice the land surface as the southern hemisphere does -- and that "winter" means different things to different people. I was in Thailand during their cold season, happily wearing short-sleeve shirts, but saw the occasional Thai going past in a light parka or heavy hoodie.

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Slashing regulations literally more important than saving American lives to Donald Trump

Dr. Ellen
FAIL

Re: Wow

During the Carter administration, and continuing, the maximum speed allowed on American roads was 55 mph. Everybody hated it. As one traveling salesman said, "crossing Texas at 55 isn't a job, it's a career."

Highways are not one-size-fits-all, especially when the garment in question is a straitjacket.

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Oh, Google. You really are spoiling us: Docs block cockup chalks up yet another apology

Dr. Ellen

Re: New "Feature" activated too early

Even if Google, Facebook, et al were pure as the driven snow, I wouldn't use them. If the internet, the ISP, or the servers go down -- how will I get at my documents?

(I'm from Minnesota, and familiar with driven snow. It doesn't stay pure very long.)

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Hey, you know why it's called the iPhone X? When you see Apple's repair bill, your response will be X-rated

Dr. Ellen

Re: And now for something completely different:

I suspect plenty have noticed it. How many have mentioned it, I cannot say. I'm now up to 53 up-arrows.

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Dr. Ellen

Re: And now for something completely different:

Well, then. If it is El Reg's web server, why has it not been tweaked for legibility? If my initial comment has gotten 40 thumbs up, this problem seems to be bothering quite a few readers.

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Dr. Ellen

Re: If iPhone owners are sheep, what are Android phone owners?

People who save money. I mostly use my smartphone for a reader, with calculator/camera function. Oh, and it makes phone calls. My current smartphone is an LG 16C with Android 4.4.2. It cost me about $20 new. If it breaks, I'll get something else, no guarantee needed. My tablet is an ASUS with Android. My preferred operating system is Windows 7. Life is calmer and cheaper behind the bleeding edge, and when I wanted more speed and power, I threw RAM and a SSD at the same ol' computer, and got it.

Over the years I've learned one machine language, three assembly languages, several versions of Fortran, and several versions of Basic. None of them work any more without a vintage machine or an emulator -- like the Red Queen's Race, it takes all the running you can do to stay in the same place. I'm tired of running. If it does my job and I can afford it, that's what I'll get. Android does the job, and it's cheaper than Apple.

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Dr. Ellen

Re: And now for something completely different:

If I were faced with using that illegible an image, I'd run it through GIMP to increase the contrast. I've seen too many sites use pale, pale grey text -- sometimes I have to highlight the text to read it. It's web design fashion these days, and I don't like it. I read entire novels on a smartphone with a 3-3/4 inch screen, so even at my advanced age, I'm visually capable.

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Dr. Ellen
Flame

And now for something completely different:

Your article has nice black type. Then you put in a list of repair costs, and it is pale grey. Why cannot you Web-design jerkwads realize that you are communicating here, not committing Art? I admit, I've seen even paler text, but this isn't a competition to be the least legible. Keep the stuff READABLE.

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A draft US law to secure election computers that isn't braindead. Well, I'm stunned! I gotta lie down

Dr. Ellen
Devil

Paper ballots?

Don't trust paper, either. Al Franken lost his election to the senate until somebody "found" a box of ballots in the recount.

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Is the FCC purposefully screwing up US school broadband projects?

Dr. Ellen

Re: As Always

Depends on the government, the enterprise, and the type of help needed. Waffle House is famous for getting restaurants up and running after a disaster, far faster than government aid. When the power's out, the power company is the one that gets the electricity grid back up and running, and in the meantime, major hospitals supply their own. In Minnesota, when the roads are covered with snow after a blizzard, all levels of government turn out to plow them. In New York City, I hear it doesn't work nearly as well.

Business or government, though -- they all charge us for their services. The government calls the charge "taxes". The main difference is the size and complexity. Government is a large and complex thing and takes time to set into motion. Businesses are smaller and more focused, and probably more nimble.

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Dr. Ellen
Big Brother

As Always

I'm from the government, and I'm here to help you.

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This is no yolk. Newegg scrambles against rotten shell company claims

Dr. Ellen
Windows

Don't panic, and always carry a balance.

I've bought from NewEgg and never had any trouble, but not recently. There's a Micro Center just five or ten minutes down the road. There's much to be said for buying everything from your local brick-and-mortar store: if something goes wrong, they can't point the finger elsewhere.

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Let's make the coppers wear cameras! That'll make the ba... Oh. No sodding difference

Dr. Ellen

Re: And no significant change can be expected until...

It would be nice if the perps and civilians involved had body cameras, too. Police have shown a great (and occasionally violent) aversion to that. But with higher cellphone speeds and larger storage, it might be able to store the video/audio somewhere safe from (ahem) official discretion. If a defense lawyer can present the video of a policeman ripping the suspect's bodycam off and stomping it -- that policeman's bodycam had better show a good reason for it or the case will be fatally compromised.

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Microsoft silently fixes security holes in Windows 10 – dumps Win 7, 8 out in the cold

Dr. Ellen
Big Brother

Windows 7, 8, 10? I'll take 9, please.

Windows 10 is being patched? That OS is spyware all by itself. They're just worried somebody else may get the information they want to be theirs alone. I'll stay with 7. I'd consider Linux, except somewhere along the way, Linux stopped working on my Linux-rated tower. It seems to run, but the display twitches and jumps around.

Upgrades are not always improvements.

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Bill Gates says he'd do CTRL-ALT-DEL with one key if given the chance to go back through time

Dr. Ellen

Re: the RESET key was an Apple idea!

If my computer reboots, I want it to happen on purpose. CTRL-ALT-DEL is something that does not happen by accident. Single keys happen all too often.

10
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Flying electric taxi upstart scores $90m from investors

Dr. Ellen
Paris Hilton

Re: "it can land vertically in practice, much like the F-35 fighter jet"

Small planes can lift off easier than big ones. There's this little thing called the square/cube law.

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Boffin rediscovers 1960s attempt to write fiction with computers

Dr. Ellen
Terminator

Re: there is a science fiction story about this ...

There's another: The Silver Eggheads (1979) by Fritz Leiber. There, humans serve as the plot generators, which are then fleshed out by computers/wordmills into something called "wordwooze" which was the human populace's chief entertainment. It was a desperate time indeed when the 'writers' rebelled and destroyed the wordmills, for none of the humans were really competent at writing. Fortunately, Zane Gort (a robot who wrote stories for other robots) was able to help out. His robot pronography was ... interesting. Pray you do not fall into the hands of Dr. Tungsten.

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Trump-hating Iranian is the new Uber CEO

Dr. Ellen

Re: Uber...San Francisco...

Everybody hates Trump - except for the people who voted him in as President.

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Google's macho memo man fired, say reports

Dr. Ellen
Flame

Re: Feel Good

I went to the post, and read it. It was sober and cautious, and far from stereotyping. He merely said that men and women are, on the average, different; so it's only reasonable they're not all interested in the same things.

But then, everybody knows: men and women are exactly and totally the same, except men are bastards.

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Kid found a way to travel for free in Budapest. He filed a bug report. And was promptly arrested

Dr. Ellen
Windows

Re: Cat Video

Squirrel!

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One thought equivalent to less than a single proton in mass

Dr. Ellen
Pint

Re: Confused units

Five parsecs. They wrote it on the Kessel run.

0
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BOFH: Putting the commitment into committee

Dr. Ellen

Re: You miss the point

I was in one of those meetings. It was obvious what the boss wanted -- but he wanted US to want it, too. We didn't. After an hour, I said "It's obvious what you want. We don't want it. You're the boss -- just do it. But stop nudging us to agree." Strangely, I kept my job.

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Dr. Ellen

Re: A definition

Steering committee: where you send the bull to be gentled down.

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Dr. Ellen

Re: Websites

They didn't bother the website I put together, because I was the only one able to do it -- and good with sarcasm. Besides, every time we got a new boss, he immediately got busy designing the new stationery. Got quite a stack of quality bond second sheets every time that happened.

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Fear the dentist? Strap on some nerd goggles

Dr. Ellen
Facepalm

There is one slight problem...

For many years, my dentist has offered headphones, to play music of my choice. And then, at least once a minute, "Turn your head to the left." "Open a bit wider." "Are you doing okay?"

What good is something carrying your mind off to a soothing place, when you get dragged back to reality dozens of times during the process? I've given up on the headphones.

2
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Boffins find evidence of strange uranium-producing bacteria lurking underground

Dr. Ellen

Re: The usual baloney

"But then on reflection when you consider that 80% of published scientific papers are crap."

Aren't you the polymath !

The canonical answer to this comment is 97%, though 42 is a close second.

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Dr. Ellen
Pint

Re: I have personally transmuted palladium into silver

In my defense, I didn't transmute very much, even on the microgram scale. And I had a government grant, so money was no object.

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Dr. Ellen

Re: The usual baloney

I have personally transmuted palladium into silver. The atom-smasher I used was a LOT bigger than your basic microbe. That uranium stuff, I didn't want to get involved. Who needs neptunium in the back yard?

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Emissions cheating detection shines light on black box code

Dr. Ellen
Black Helicopters

Cheating?

The emissions testing rules said "this is how we will test your car" and "here is what we expect to see when we do it." So the carmakers gave it to them. This is called "teaching to the test" in schools, and while it's bad form, it probably isn't illegal. Unless, of course, you do it to the government.

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MP3 'died' and nobody noticed: Key patents expire on golden oldie tech

Dr. Ellen
Megaphone

The perfect is the enemy of the okay.

My ears are far older than the MP3 codec. Perfection would be wasted on me. Nor am I alone in this situation.

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On today's a-gender: Axing net neutrality will harm America's women, say women senators

Dr. Ellen
Facepalm

The chorus to ALL the songs in the papers.

World ends tomorrow! Women and children hardest hit!

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Microsoft nicks one more Apple idea: An ad-supported OS

Dr. Ellen
Black Helicopters

Starve the beast

A much easier way to avoid ads is to avoid Windows 10. I'm happy with 7, and getting practiced with Linux.

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User lubed PC with butter, because pressing a button didn't work

Dr. Ellen
Facepalm

The March Hare strikes again.

But it was the best butter!

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Hard numbers: The mathematical architectures of Artificial Intelligence

Dr. Ellen
Devil

Evil Twin of AI

Artificial Intelligence may or may not exist. Artificial Stupidity has been around since the first bureaucrat.

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NASA sets fire to stuff in SPAAACE. On purpose. Because science

Dr. Ellen
Facepalm

Re: "If you're going to have crime, it might as well be organized crime"

Oy vey ist Mir!

0
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Chap creates Slack client for Commodore 64

Dr. Ellen
Boffin

Major Technical Mistake!

That's a Commodore 128. (I know. I had a VIC-20, a C-64, and a C128. Sequentially, not all at once.) Of course the 128 had a C-64 under the hood, but it also had a CP/M machine. Who knows what they were up to, in there out of sight?

It may have a 64 sticker on top, but a REAL 64 didn't have that ledge on the back.

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