* Posts by Paul Kinsler

582 posts • joined 9 Aug 2007


Hubble 'scope camera breaks down amid US govt shutdown, forcing boffins to fix it for free

Paul Kinsler

Re: https://www.businessinsider.com/how-hubble-images-are-manipulted-2015-3

That link doesn't support your claim of "artist's rendition".

Sample quote: "It's pure science that's driving the colors," Levay explains ....

Forget 2019's tech biz takeovers, here's the mega-merger everyone's talking about: Milky Way and LMC, coming soon

Paul Kinsler

Re: isn't every star in interstellar space?

Of course not. Since every star carries around it's own envelope of "stellar space", none of them are :-)

What a meth: Woman held for 3 months after cops mistake candy floss for hard drugs

Paul Kinsler

Re: replaced by a tyrannical oligarchic state!

Like the The Iron Heel

(because anything's better than yet another 1984 reference).

Wombats literally sh!t bricks – and now boffins reckon they know how

Paul Kinsler

Re: Finally we know...

I was surprised by your comment. So surprised that I had to read it again!


Washington Post offers invalid cookie consent under EU rules – ICO

Paul Kinsler

Re: Nothing. Nadda. Zip. Zilch.

Well, fine. But some newspapers and news sites quite successfully expand their readership by deliberately appealing to and attracting people from other countries.

As I understand it, the WP is quite a respectable newspaper, and so could well be of interest to many people in the EU who might subscribe. So whilst the WP can indeed say "Bollocks to EU", might it not be more pragmatic for them to fix their site and so enhance their overseas presence and reputation (and thereby hopefully their revenue)?

Douglas Adams was right, ish... Super-Earth world clocked orbiting 'nearby' Barnard's Star

Paul Kinsler

Re: quantum entanglement ... real-time communications may become possible.

Not under QM as it stands. Whilst you might argue that some kind of influence travels faster than light, no usable information does. To transfer information you need the measurement results at *both* ends,

and that from the far end still has to travel to you at the speed of light.

Astroboffins spot one of the oldest, coolest stars in the universe lurking in the Milky Way

Paul Kinsler

Re: someone will complain t

I imagine that writing "about 727 degrees Celsius" would have sufficed, which, whilst still implying unjustified precision, is at least without the two decimal places of 726.85 that make that form particularly jarring.

However, given it's an estimated upper bound, any of 720, 725, or 730 would probably have been better.

Mything the point: The AI renaissance is simply expensive hardware and PR thrown at an old idea

Paul Kinsler

Re: HUGE difference

So what we need to do is add "explain yourself" as one of the AI training goals, along with its core task performance! :-)

Which scientist should be on the new £50 note? El Reg weighs in – and you should vote, too

Paul Kinsler

Re: Put Boole on the ten pound note... it is really a two pound note.

And Gray on another different £10 note, because a three pound note would also be handy. :-)

Nikola Tesla's greatest challenge: He could measure electricity but not stupidity

Paul Kinsler

oh, very good!

(there should be more of this kind of noise-based amusement)

People outperform computer programs for 'compressing' pix

Paul Kinsler

Re: not sure HOW people would compress a movie?

You get them to watch it, and then ask them what they thought.

Even if they produce a ten page essay, that's going to be a pretty good compression ratio. :-)

Amazon tried to entice Latin American officials with $5m in Kindles, AWS credits for .amazon

Paul Kinsler

Re: Top level domains should not be allowed to be owned by companies

One solution could be to give the river itself legal rights (like the Whanganui, in NZ), and let it fight its own battles :-)

Excuse me, but have you heard the teachings of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Chr-AI-st?

Paul Kinsler

Re: Rab C Nesbit

I'd rather the style of one N. Molesworth, but each to their own...

Cosmoboffins think grav waves hold the key to sorting out the disputed Hubble Constant

Paul Kinsler

you're postulating the de facto existence of a fourth spatial dimension.

There is no mathematical requirement for a 3D spherical surface (a manifold) to be embedded in a 4D space. It's just that it's easier for most of us to imagine it as being embedded, just as we find it easier to imagine a 2D surface as embedded in a 3D space (rather than 3D embedded in 4D).

Some manifolds are weird enough so that an embedding in a 1-higher dimensional space is not possible (e.g. the Klein bottle is a 2D surface that is not embeddable in 3D)

UK space comes to an 'understanding' with Australia as Brexit looms

Paul Kinsler

Re: not the only country to have developed and scrapped an orbital launch system.

Perhaps "developed and scrapped, without an intention for any replacement", then?

Why are sat-nav walking directions always so hopeless?

Paul Kinsler

Re: the 10 hour one!

At that many views (3.6M), I make it about three and a half thousand eyeball-years of fun!

Attempt to clean up tech area has shocking effect on kit

Paul Kinsler

Re: I once measured 61,750ish volts on an empty, unused Styrofoam coffee

Just to be picky, you do not measure voltages "on" things. Voltages are differences, so you measure them "between" or "across" things.

Bombing raids during WWII sent out shockwaves powerful enough to alter the Earth's ionosphere

Paul Kinsler

Re: 300 lightning strikes

The 300-strike-equivalent bombing was presumably much more localized than a typical thunderstorm..?

Redis does a Python, crushes 'offensive' master, slave code terms

Paul Kinsler

Re: Nobody would ever say "That was an annoying high Hertz noise"

I'm not so sure about that - some people use words like "amperage", for example, and sometimes even might talk about the voltage through something. I agree they shouldn't, but not everyone has their terminology perfect, and could quite easily have learnt it from another misinformed individual.

Voyager 1 left the planet 41 years ago – and SpaceX hopes to land on Earth this Saturday

Paul Kinsler

Re: How much is it decelerating by?

Perhaps we might ask Isaac Newton? He's probably got a theory...

Drama as boffins claim to reach the Holy Grail of superconductivity

Paul Kinsler

Re: Sources (yet again el Reg)

The title of the comment contains the reference - arXiv:1807.08572,

... so just go to https://arxiv.org/abs/1807.08572

Papers published on arxiv are not ordinarily ever removed, only updated, with previous revisions still being present.

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

Paul Kinsler

Re: Hang on a moment

Indeed. Remember that the journalist's version isn't the same as the actual scientific paper. In particular, the j-version tends to focus on the paper's context and its plausible conclusions, as well as soundbites from the authors or peers, rather more than all the necessary scientific caveats and details of technique present in the actual work.

Consider this sentence of the abstract, and in particular its fourth word: "Here, we identified potential sources of such persistent states by microstimulating the striatum of macaques performing a task by which we could quantitatively estimate their subjective pessimistic states using their choices to accept or reject conflicting offers."

Oldest swinger in town, Slackware, notches up a quarter of a century

Paul Kinsler

Slackware... yikes!

Anyone still reading this thread? You might find this interesting....


Paul Kinsler

Re: 1994

That's about when I started. I used it because that's what a friend Bruce had used, not that there were so many options back then. I particularly remember the day-long kernel compile times... (depending on weediness of hardware).

Put WhatsApp, Slack, admin privileges in a blender and what do you get? Wickr

Paul Kinsler

Re: an unfortunate name.

... but the really big downer using with Wickr is their vendor lock in and penalty clauses, man. :-)

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

Paul Kinsler

Re: Clippy's a git

heh - "Gitty can see you are trying to pull. Would you like some help?"

Paul Kinsler



ICANN pays to push Whois case to European Court of Justice

Paul Kinsler

"most controversially $125m for .web"

I think if I had more money than sense, I'd prefer to buy something like .http or .https :-)

Astroboffins trace mysterious noise from hard rock in space

Paul Kinsler

Re: +1 for Nightwish \m/

...but I'm a bit worried about who"Steel Panter" is

NASA spots asteroid on crash course with Earth – with just hours to go

Paul Kinsler

Re: wasted money - a couple of months drifting in space at the cost of trillions

I think the point is rather that such a space program might /eventually/ allow a viable survival route - but you wont ever get that survival route without starting to build up the basic knowledge and infrastructure.

RoboCop-ter: Boffins build drone to pinpoint brutal thugs in crowds

Paul Kinsler

Re: I suspect this system will pick up dancing as violence too?

Possibly, but there's a lot of variation between the dance styles of a mosh pit and those of a Viennese Waltz.

You have suffered without red-headed emoji for too long. That changes Tuesday

Paul Kinsler

Re: the reference picture shown for "smiling face with three hearts"

Fortunately, in the linked pdf, the reference picture does only have three hearts.

Storm in a teapot: Anger brews over npm's jokey proxy error messages

Paul Kinsler

the idea once of adding offensive error messages

I recall that a long time ago I got my BBC B to augment its error messages with insults. I found it amusing for a short while, i.e. only until I had some slightly tricky bug to track down...

Meet the real spin doctors: Scientists tell H2O to chill out so they can separate isomers

Paul Kinsler

only holds true at the very low temperatures ...

(a) "spin", as applied to subatomic particles, or atoms, isn't the same as mechanical rotation (because that is called angular momentum).

(b) the nuclear spins referred to may not be strongly coupled to the atomic motions of the molecules that (in aggregate) make up the temperature.

It /might/ be that the temperature of the water has an effect on the nuclear spins of its constituent atoms on some relevant timescale, but it isn't necessarily so.

Zimmerman and friends: 'Are you listening? PGP is not broken'

Paul Kinsler

Re: "Disable HTML"

Ah, but what if the browser also does speculative pre-fetch, and so loads things in the background, just in case you decide to re-enable?

EmDrive? More like BS drive: Physics-defying space engine flunks out

Paul Kinsler

Re: I wonder what it pays as a percentage of the research grant.

It's a little bit unclear what you're asking here. Is this a question, or a rhetorical device intended to imply something?

If it's a question, even then it's not so clear. Still, I'll have a go at providing a rough estimate at an upper bound. In the UK, a pure theory grant will be probably be dominated by the costs of postdoctoral research staff, plus perhaps 10% of the PI staff costs. Costing for a fast computer and an annual international conference is small compared to this. Under FEC, the staff costs will be 2-3 times the headline salary of those staff (max UK postdoc salary is about £40k, plus a few k extra if in London). Thus "what it pays as a %" could be roughly 30% of the total grant ... at best; if you are also costing for expensive equipment, consumables, or whatever, it will be less. Three years of 40k theory postdoc and the usual other costs might come in at about 300k in the UK; but note that German cost calculations are probably structured differently, and this experiment need not have been run on an all research-grant funded model.

Anyway, in this case the reported result /is/ real work. The reported "experimental hygiene" required will no doubt be invaluable in other experimental setups, and if somehow - in outright defiance of theoretical expectation - they do find a result they've discovered new physics. So it's a win-win scenario. And undertaken solely on the basis of expected gains in "experimental hygiene", I'd expect.

10 social networks ignored UK government consultations

Paul Kinsler

Re: You don't ask supermarkets to "police" their customers, do you ?

However, large shops do generally have security guards, and I would expect that in the case of a non-trivial inter-customer fracas of some kind that that security (or the management) would intervene and try to either calm the situation or move it from the store, and, if necessary, call the police to deal with it.

I would not expect them to pretend it wasn't happening and/or do nothing, claiming it was merely someone else's problem and nothing to do with them [*]

[*] Not the least in their own self interest - that sort of thing is likely to be bad for business.

NASA fix for Curiosity rovers's damaged drill: hitting it, repeatedly

Paul Kinsler

Re: One wonders how long the tool will be able to handle the abuse.

Unless there is a better way of getting some use out of it, I suppose it doesn't matter about the "misuse". Since it no longer works as intended, and can't be fixed, any new data at this point are a bonus...

Decades-old data reveals shows Jupiter’s moon sprayed alien juice over Galileo probe

Paul Kinsler


I suspect the required number of cpu-months may have been rather larger than you think...

Australian foreplay: Bum-biting in an underground hole

Paul Kinsler

Re: Dr Swinbourne ... If he has, ...

if *she* has ...

Heir to SMS finally excites carriers, by making Google grovel

Paul Kinsler

Re: Anyone remember RCS

Actually, I still use RCS, for various latex documents I'm writing - it is simple, and just works. All it requires is a little bit of discipline about line breaks in order to keep the diffs useful.

AI boffins rebel against closed-access academic journal that wants to have its cake and eat it

Paul Kinsler

Re: [Nature] one has to wonder how it got that way.

I think it was always well regarded; but now there's an additional unholy feedback loop constructed by the interaction of job/promotion specifications (e.g. "papers in Nature or other high impact journals") and the publication strategies of researchers who have results of significant interest (well, even academics need a job, right?).

Since Nature is a commercial operation, you cannot really blame them for making the most of the situation. The real blame should be attributed to those who insist on simplistic measures of research success when making hiring/promotion decisions.

I spy with my little eye ... a quantum drum with TRILLIONS of atoms

Paul Kinsler

tells me microwave frequency photons are just about detectable

Presumably that is "a single microwave frequency photon", since lots at once are easy to detect - just heat up something in a microwave!

Paul Kinsler

Re: Both?

Some photons are microwave photons, some are not.

Paul Kinsler

Re: Entanglement with an object you can see with the naked eye.

Although I strongly suspect actually looking at it with the naked eye* is going to kill any entanglement rather quickly.

[*] (or rather simply adjusting the setup so it would be visible)

Academics: Shutting down Facebook API damages research, oversight, competition

Paul Kinsler

Re: so heavily upon Facebook, then already their research will be skewed

Well, perhaps not really that "skewed" if their research was on the usage or effects of /Facebook/ itself... :-)

Generally authors will be quite clear about their data sources and processes. Even if they themselves happened not to discuss any potential biases, the reader can then make up their own mind.

e.g. Some examples - although I have no idea whether they are the best ones, since it's not my field - might be seen at


Turn that bachelor pad into a touch pad: Now you can paint buttons, sensors on your walls

Paul Kinsler

Re: "airborne electromagnetic noise"

I suppose we could go all pre-Einstein (or pre- Michelson Morley, if you prefer) and say "etherborne" instead :-)

Here's another headline where NASA is dragged through the mud for cheap Mars wise cracks

Paul Kinsler

Write it up so we can get out of here.

Follow the publication link in the Register article and you can download the scientific article itself.

Nominet drains mug of tea, leans back, calmly explains how to make Whois GDPR-compliant

Paul Kinsler

Re: If they don't get the name or address then what use

They get a phone number and an email address, from which presumably they will have a reasonable chance - after some not especially taxing detective work - to find out the name & address?

Having ended America's broadband woes, the FCC now looks to space

Paul Kinsler

Re: ... one tenth of an English Breakfast.

... although you'd have to eat it in about 4 microseconds to get a more reasonable equivalence.


Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019