* Posts by Dr. Ellen

178 posts • joined 14 Jul 2007

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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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Judge nailed for trying to bribe Fed with fizzy water (aka Bud Light)

Dr. Ellen

Re: Not Really

I seem to have more downvotes that upvotes, but I can live with that. An earlier incarnation of Obama by the name of Franklin D. Roosevelt said “I ask you to judge me by the enemies I have made.” All things considered, I'm as proud of the downvotes as I am of the ups.

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Dr. Ellen

Re: Not Really

Beer may not work on the FBI, but being a Democrat seems to.

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Smoking hole found on Mars where Schiaparelli lander, er, 'landed'

Dr. Ellen
Trollface

Re: It's WAR!

Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters! (The probe is dead, afterall.)

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Four reasons Pixel turns flagship Android mobe makers into roadkill

Dr. Ellen
Pint

Re: Can any one suggest

Fortunately, I do not give a vulture's arse about Latest and Greatest. Let others bleed on the edge; I'm for simple, reliable, and affordable.

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'Geek gene' denied: If you find computer science hard, it's your fault (or your teacher's)

Dr. Ellen

"And you find it easy, it's through hard work ..."

Bull. If it's hard work, it's not easy.

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Is the world ready for a Raspberry Pi-powered Lego Babbage Engine?

Dr. Ellen

Re: Let them read the book

It's a very good book, but if we were to take it as canonical we would need an Isambard Kingdom Brunel figure.

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Pair programming: The most extreme XP practice?

Dr. Ellen

When it works it's very very good; but when it doesn't, it's horrid.

I'm a writer; I live with a writer. We tried writing as a team. It worked well, but we only lasted for six short stories. (They were *good* stories, too. All of them sold to a top market.) But it was a strain.

She tried collaborating with a good friend, and together they produced six novels, one of which was nominated for an Edgar. As time went on, they began screaming at each other. They quit while they were still friends. One took the series, the other started a different series. Both were successful.

It works when it works, but when it doesn't, give up after you've had a decent try..

Long ago, I was a programmer. Fortunately, I never collaborated -- it would have driven me mad. Your mileage may vary.

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'Planet nine' theory boosted by Kuiper Belt Object with odd orbit

Dr. Ellen

If we get pedantic ...

When we ignore adjectives (rocky, gas giant, dwarf) the planet under discussion would be planet eleven-plus. Ceres was promoted to dwarf planethood also, restoring it to its glory as of its discovery, making Pluto planet ten. (Let's just fold Charon into that "ten" to keep things simple.)

Who knows what other dwarf planets lie between Pluto and this hypothesis?

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Here's a great idea: Let's make a gun that looks like a mobile phone

Dr. Ellen

Re: "Absolutely no one can make sense of the United States' infatuation with firearms."

The archery practice every Sunday were one of the reasons the English won the battle of Agincourt. The English trusted their citizens with powerful weapons; the French did not. Nowadays, the English no longer trust their citizens with weapons.

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Four of the top 10 places in the world for internet are, er, in the US

Dr. Ellen
Flame

Pale Grey

What IS this nonsense about pale grey typefaces on graphs (as in this article), and in other places? Why should I have to magnify the screen and squint just because some wally thinks it's elegant?

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Hand in glove: Google and the US State Dept

Dr. Ellen
Big Brother

Name Your Poison.

If you own an Android device, Google knows what you're doing. If you own an Apple device, Apple knows what you're doing. Windows, Microsoft knows what you're doing -- and with Windows 10, they'll know even more. Have a Kindle or shop online, Amazon knows what you're doing. I'm not so sure about Ubuntu, but who knows?

As these things go, I'll take the Amazon surveillance with the most grace. They are making money off me *directly* and would probably just as soon not screw up the relationship. As for the others -- if something is free, YOU are the product being sold. Since I have a Kindle and use Windows, Android, and Ubuntu, and am not involved in plots, I content myself with feeding the spies I know, and trying to avoid the ones I don't know. It's the price we pay to be part of the technological world. I don't like paying it, but I'd like getting rid of all my gadgets even less.

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Science contest to get girls interested in STEM awards first prize to ... a boy

Dr. Ellen
FAIL

Re: Alternative headline

"The only people who fear giving women equal rights and representation, are the losers who despite after years of living with extreme privilege end up on the bottom, where they comfort themselves knowing that at least they can be superior to women. The future must be fucking TERRIFYING for you."

Good God Almighty, and Great Zot with a chaser! You sound like a true believer in the Patriarchy, and likely to make enemies wherever you go by telling everybody about it. Making enemies is a bad idea no matter what your cause. I avoid such people even when I agree with them.

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Reg readers battle to claim 'my silicon's older than yours' crown

Dr. Ellen
Pint

Why, when I was young ...

I had a blind friend who was using an IBM XT286 to write -- stories, letters, keeping lists. He had it set up with a speaking word processor. He'd learned it, he'd liked it, and he never had much luck with updates. So I maintained that puppy for him until he died in 2012. I think he got it in 1987, so that would be 25 years. Had to replace the clock battery once, and get him a few new printers -- and put in a 3.5" drive so I could get data in and out. (Not that big a job with a 5 meg HD and a 1.44 meg FD.)

If something does a satisfactory job, keep it going.

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Discworld fans stake claim to element 117

Dr. Ellen

And if they find a new element that decays slower than the others in its neighborhood, Chelonium.

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Dr. Ellen

Richard Feynman might count as a scientist who was also a musician. In "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman" he mentions his exploits playing frying-pan in a Samba band in Brazil.

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Patch now! Flash-exploitin' PC-hijackin' attack spotted in the wild by Huawei bods

Dr. Ellen
Flame

Curse you, McAfee!

I don't know how many times I've unchecked the box that says "install McAfee such'n'so" while updating programs (including Flash). I wasn't paying sufficient attention, and this time they got me. Constant Vigilance!

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The ball's in your court, Bezos: Falcon 9 lands after launching satellites

Dr. Ellen
Thumb Up

Movie Landings

In the early films -- the Sixties, mostly -- they'd just run a film of a rocket takeoff backwards. Great fun watching that rocket suck up the smoke and fumes as it landed.

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Chicago cops under fire for astonishingly high dashcam, mic failures

Dr. Ellen

The chances of the equipment working are undoubtedly better if the cop is sure the recording will present his behavior in a good light.

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Work on world's largest star-gazing 'scope stopped after religious protests

Dr. Ellen

Re: this is a bunch of watermelons who want to stop anything

GOP? Every watermelon I've known has been hard left.

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Europe didn't catch the pox from Christopher Columbus – scientists

Dr. Ellen

Don't forget the chocolate!

Syphilis is merely the most terrible of four related diseases: Syphilis, yaws, bejel, and pinta, caused by four subspecies of Treponema pallidum. Yaws is mostly tropical, and easily cured these days. Pinta is found mainly in South America and the Caribbean. Bejel is mainly found in the Middle East, and is somewhat a non-venereal syphilis that doesn't affect the brain. Yaws are thought to be the oldest (1.8 million years) form. Around 1415 Henry the Navigator, and his father and brothers, conquered Ceuta, in northern Morocco, which had long been a port filled with Barbary Pirates.

Even if syphilis and pinta were new world diseases only Columbus could have brought home, Henry was poking around hotbeds of yaws and bejel. (Trade with the Middle East had been going on for a long time by then, but Henry intensified exploration further south.)

If this circa 1415 skeleton really does have diagnostic lesions, they could have been caused by yaws, or less likely, by bejel. Voland's Right Hand suggests syphilis could have been mistaken for leprosy, which sounds reasonable. And Grikath makes sense in suggesting that while it was there before, sailors could have brought back a more potent form. If there are at least four flavors of the disease, there may well be local differences in virulence.

Those making politically-correct whinges about Columbus should remember that chocolate is a new-world food.

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US 'swatting' Bill will jail crank callers for five years to life

Dr. Ellen

Details

On one hand, this bill will not make it one iota harder to SWAT somebody. On the other hand, it'll raise the consequences of so doing tremendously. On the gripping hand, this is something done by arseholes, who don't think before doing it. But at least they won't be allowed a phone in jail to do it again.

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US Army bug hunters in 'state of fear' that sees flaws go unreported

Dr. Ellen
Big Brother

Bosses

Bosses do not want to hear what they do not want to hear, and they have a regrettable tendency to take vengeance upon the person who says it. No amount of rule- or procedure-changing will affect that.

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Pirate Party leads Icelandic voting intentions poll

Dr. Ellen

Re: Yarr!

The Certain Party is not interested only in keeping the Mouse out of the public domain. "Steamboat Willie" was the first cartoon with synchronized sound, and debuted very near the beginning of sound movies. They're trying to maintain an iron grip on the Talkies.

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PETA monkey selfie lawsuit threatens wildlife photography, warns snapper at heart of row

Dr. Ellen

Re: when will this madness stop?

"What does the monkey say?"

Can they even FIND this particular monkey to ask, let alone to accept the fruits (preferably bananas and figs rather than money) of its labors?

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SPACED OUT: NASA's manned Orion podule pushed back to 2023

Dr. Ellen
Facepalm

Trouble?

There is no denying it: building something as complicated as a Mars-capable rocket is beset with troubles. Civilian rocket? engineering, fabrication, explosions, and the economy. Government rocket? engineering, fabrication, explosions, the economy, the President, the Senate, the House of Representatives, the bureaucracy, public image ...

It's simple. Unless somebody (like Russia, or perhaps China) threatens their pride, the government will never do it. If you say "yes", you're liable for anything that goes wrong. If you say "no", the whole thing is somebody else's problem.

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Android 5 lock-screens can be bypassed by typing in a reeeeally long password. In 2015

Dr. Ellen
FAIL

Great Turing's Ghost!

This has been around forever. In the 1960s a CDC 3100 locked up on me. A long, steaming batch of profanity on the console typewriter brought it back to life.

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WIN a 6TB Western Digital Black hard drive with El Reg

Dr. Ellen

I suppose you're wondering why I've called you all here this morning.

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Yet another Android app security bug: This time 'everything is affected'

Dr. Ellen
Flame

Bah, humbug!

Google installed most of those flaws themselves. Every app I get wants access to everything on my tablet. It wants the microphone, it wants the camera, it wants the wi-fi, it wants to be able to modify the contents of the SD card. Google did that so *they* could get at our data. All those other guys are just unintended (but unpatched) consequences. Google wants our data, and they weren't even competent enough to keep it to themselves!

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EE recalls Power Bar phone chargers after explosion burns woman

Dr. Ellen
Boffin

With great power comes great hazard.

The more energy you stuff into an object, the more trouble it can cause if it gets loose. Since batteries are good at rapidly letting loose the energy, that ends up being either a fire or an explosion, depending on the details. The batteries of tomorrow will be even better at holding energy -- let us hope they are better at holding on to it as well.

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Windows 10 marks the end of 'pay once, use forever' software

Dr. Ellen

Re: Linux

I tried Linux Mint, but ended up using Zorin Linux. They're both Ubuntu at heart, but I preferred the default Zorin default GUI. After I use it for a while, I may diddle with appearances.

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SpaceX's blast shock delays world's MOST POWERFUL ROCKET

Dr. Ellen
Flame

Re: Slanted much?

The SLS is doomed. Not to say anything against NASA (they build good space probes) but they are at the mercy of presidents and congress. And those change every few years. The things they want built (and the places they want them built) change every few years. And every politician wants his/her name on a NEW something, not a maintained or improved something. Whenever NASA is in danger of completing a more powerful rocket, they are told to drop it and do something even better.

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Taylor Swift boycotts Apple Music over no-pay-for-plays shocker

Dr. Ellen
Big Brother

It doesn't matter if you remember the past - you're condemned to repeat it anyway.

Back when there was effectively one phone company in the USA, there was a saying: "We're Ma Bell. We don't have to care." This attitude always develops as a company thinks it has the world by the short and curlies. Microsoft? Comcast? Your friendly national government? Of course it applies to Apple.

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Boffins, feeling around in dark for Philae, lit up by bright spot on Comet 67/P

Dr. Ellen

Re: Oh so?

You were wanting a soft landing?

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Dr. Ellen
Alien

Oh so?

Deep Impact was the first Earth craft to land on a comet (Tempel I) -- for extremely emphatic definitions of "land".

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