* Posts by Paul Kinsler

602 posts • joined 9 Aug 2007


Nest thermostat owners out in the cold after software update cockup

Paul Kinsler

Re: Remind me why one needs a thermostat connected to the web?

Becasue you can keep it disconnected from your heating system, and feed it fake data? It'd be like the heating version of those timers you use to turns lights etc on & off to make the house look less unoccupied. :-)

Mozilla: Five... Four... Three... Two... One... Thunderbirds are – gone

Paul Kinsler

Re: telnet pop3.superfrog.com 110

That's a bit hair shirt for me. I prefer this newfangled "mutt" email program I found...

Lights, power, action! Smartplugs with a twist

Paul Kinsler

Re: Does anyone make smart plugs that are actually built into the powerpoint?

Wow! What kind of presentations do you make that need integrated smartplugs? It'll take libreoffice presenter & latex/beamer a while to catch up with that one :-)

Many UK ecommerce sites allow ‘password’ for logins – report

Paul Kinsler

Re: " I'll have to wave a strange shape in the air at them.

while intoning : "these are not the cards you are looking for"?

Goodfella's attack smacks Slack chap for whack crack? It's a fact, Jack

Paul Kinsler

Re: Getting Slack

Getting slack? Easy!



Drones are dropping drugs into prisons and the US govt just doesn't know what to do

Paul Kinsler

Re: OTOH you don't stop people who are already breaking laws by giving them more laws to break.

Hypothetically you might, /if/ the new law that they will now (also) break enables you to either (a) disrupt the specific lawbreaking activities more easily, or if it (b) enabled you to catch and/or convict them more easily.

But you are right that merely passing the law is not what will stop them - its the enforcement that counts. But enabling easier or simpler enforcement can still be beneficial.

Rosetta probe delivers jaw-to-the-floor find: Molecular oxygen

Paul Kinsler

Re: the sound is "BASTARD!!! I based my grant funding around the old science.

Not really. If the funding has already been awarded, you just use it to do some science in the same area, but based on the new data.

The "BASTARD!" would come in if you've just /submitted/ an application whose premise is ruined by the new data; because it now has 0% of getting funded (instead of e.g. 30%), and all the work writing it will have been for naught.

California enormo-quake prediction: Cracks form between US boffins

Paul Kinsler

historical observations from England in November 1755

just because I think it's interesting:

"An Extraordinary and Surprising Agitation of the Waters, though without Any Perceptible Motion of the Earth, Having Been Observed in Various Parts of This Island, Both Maritime and Inland, on the Same Day, and Chiefly about the Time, That the More Violent Commotions of Both Earth and Waters so Extensively Affected Many Very Distant Parts of the Globe; The Following Accounts, Relating to the Former, Have Been Transmitted to the Society; In Which are Specified the Times and Places When and Where They Happened "



Nowadays they'd just say "OMG!" on twitter

Hackers can steal your BRAIN WAVES

Paul Kinsler

Re: alter your brain waves , and take control

well, I suppose they could tweak your brainwave recording, either in transit or after storage, so that the EEG now matches both you and the criteria for being a bit murdery (or whatever worse thing can be thought up) ... now /that/ could cause you a few problems.

"Just /look/ at the EEG response we have on file when we show the accused this type of picture instead of all these other ordinary pictures. Clearly, etc etc"

Top boffin Freeman Dyson on climate change, interstellar travel, fusion, and more

Paul Kinsler

on the subject of climate science,

here's an interesting take on how the scientific conclusions on climate differ from most; broadly that any conclusion useful to society at large is by /necessity/ a judgement made by averaging over a vast range of disparate data, models, simulation, and theory:


Hurrah! Doctor Who brings us a bootstrap paradox treat in Before the Flood

Paul Kinsler

Dr Who wrote Beethoven's 5th?

... and also made Frankenstein, apparently :-)


Paul Kinsler

Re: Osgood

The killed Osgood "smelled bad" according to Missy. Thus, posssibly it was Zygon Osgood that got vaporised?

Doctor Who's Under the Lake splits Reg scribes: This Alien homage thing – good or bad?

Paul Kinsler

Re: Event Horizon in the same league with Alien?

I recall seeing Event Horizon in a cinema in Leeds - a proper pre-multiplex job, with a screen so wide I can only assume it must have been built at peak cinema. Quite enjoyed it, even if it did go a bit toosupernatural horror at the end.

Tree hugger? Your wooden harem is much bigger than thought

Paul Kinsler

Re: 3 Peta-trees vs 7Giga-humans.

Yikes! Did I say Peta-trees?

I meant Tera-trees (10^12 trees). Peta-trees would be 10^15 of the leafy blighters.

Paul Kinsler

Re: Wrong units!

While I'd once have agreed with you, I think the argument has been utterly lost in terms of real-life usage. I can't think of a single case where I might use (eg) a 10^12 "billion" instead of a 10^9 one without also having to explain what I meant. IMO, you may as well try to argue against the primary modern usage of the word "gay".

Might I suggest that a better strategy would be to argue for the SI prefixes instead? Hence 3 Peta-trees vs 7Giga-humans.

West's only rare earth mine closes. Yet Chinese monopoly fears are baseless

Paul Kinsler

Re: Surely the final line should be prefaced with 'contestable'?

I think a contestable/uncontestable division is a bit too binary. After all, the Microsoft or Google (near) monopolies are eminently contestable in principle, except that they have too much cultural and financial momentum and to make them easily contestable. Other in-principle contestable monopolies might (e.g.) be in-effect uncontestable because of agressive and well-funded lawyering, or other factors.

Rare earth mining might easily contestable from a technical point of view, but might be hard from a raising-finance, or environmental-permissions perspective.

It would be better to focus on whatever makes the monopoly under discussion most-hard (or least easy) to contest, rather than claiming that it is "contestable" in some idealized sense.

Earth wobbles on axis as Google rebrands

Paul Kinsler

Re: Yet another serif logo goes the way of all print

Well, it has been nearly a century since the notion of "modern" embraced, amongst other things, an enthusiasm for sans serif fonts. It's nice that Google have finally got around to catching up, although maybe they should also lose the upper case G if they really want to get with the program.

The Raspberry Pi is succeeding in ways its makers almost imagined

Paul Kinsler

Re: Programmer-archaeologist

... some of the requests for help on comp.lang.fortran get pretty close to this concept. :-)

Exploding Power Bars: EE couldn't even get the CE safety mark right

Paul Kinsler

Re: The CE logo looks better when compressed

Think of it as a sort of checksum. If the logo is altered for reasons of appearance, you can be sure that they are interested in only superficial criteria, rather than them actually being interested in meeting the required standards and specifications :-)

Rise up against Oracle class stupidity and join the infosec strike

Paul Kinsler

Re: Now Fuck Off And Die in an Orlowski thread.

Ah! a FOADIOT :-)

What a shower: METEORS will BLAZE a FIERY TRAIL across our skies

Paul Kinsler

Re: fuzzy dot with visible rings around it

My son got an unremarkable telescope for xmas a year or so back (M&S kids special). Haven't yet managed to see Saturn as anything but a blurry dot, although the grey (light polluted) London skies are likely helping out there. Jupiter is a bigger dot, albeit one that you can't quite see any discernable stripes on, although the four big moons can be reliably seen.

Best thing was a few months ago when I managed to get it lined up to see Venus as a crescent. Although aligning it manually is a bit of a barsteward, especially since things walk out of the field of view fairly quickly with the more powerful eyepiece in.

Last year, with clear skies, I saw about one Persied every 10 minutes....

W is for WTF: Google CEO quits, new biz Alphabet takes over

Paul Kinsler

Re: "Don't be evil"

As has been oft said, "All that is necessary for the triumph of good is that evil men do nothing".

(I /think/ I remembered that correctly, didn't I..? :)

Small number of computer-aided rifles could be hacked in contrived scenario

Paul Kinsler

spin drift.


But in order to break the rotational symmetry (and get this `spin drift'), we also need something else, presumably gravity. So the bullet deviates right because gravity pulls it to (errrrm) sit slightly below the barrel's central axis, hence kicks off (in some sense) the bottom of the barrel (or the gas layer between bullet & barrel) harder than off the top ... thus a clockwise bullet deviates right.

So if the marksperson were to fire whilst hanging upside down, the bullet would (to them) deviate left; while to a non-upside down bystander, it still deviates right.

Any comments or corrections?

This is TRUE science: Harvard boffins fire up sizzling BACON LASER

Paul Kinsler

standard comment in laser physics:

""anything will lase if you pump it hard enough"

Not sure who to attribute it to, though.

Chat about Safe Harbour all you like, the NSA's still the stumbling block

Paul Kinsler

Re: The commentard probably assumed ...

You can't use the icons when anonymous (IME).

Rise of the swimming machines: US sub launches and recovers a drone

Paul Kinsler

Re: Question

I don't know either, but of the three options come to mind (optical, acoustic, wire) only by wire seems very stealthy and/or immune to interference. And I'd guess that optical would have the worst range limitations,and acoustic would be very good at giving away your (and its) location.

Wait, I forgot one: trained carrier piscines? :-)

Roll up, roll up, for the Meta35: The hybrid snapper's data dumpster

Paul Kinsler

Re: impossible to buy camera film?

Ah, never mind. Someone will write an emulator for all that quaint old chemistry, the camera design, and all that. You'll probably be able to run it on your smartphone just fine. And for the true believer, there'll also be a cardboard model you can make yourself, in which you mount your phone sideways. :-)

/runs away....

What makes our planet's clouds? Tiny INVISIBLE CREATURES. True story

Paul Kinsler

Re: but I suspect that would increase the DMS aerosol, ...

Suspicion doesn't imply causation :-)

Paul Kinsler

Re: correlation doesn't imply causation

And while on the subject of trying to disentangle the two...

http://www.ssc.wisc.edu/soc/faculty/pages/docs/elwert/Elwert 2013.pdf

Your gadget batteries endanger planes, says Boeing

Paul Kinsler

Re: more evolved than a baby

Umm. Babies, as next generation humans, should be /more/ evolved, shouldn't they? :-)

Did speeding American manhole cover beat Sputnik into space? Top boffin speaks to El Reg

Paul Kinsler

Re: 2.0013% of the maximum velocity of a sheep in a vacuum.

Hmm, interesting. If I calculate correctly, a 55ton yield gives about 55*4GJ energy (since 1Mton is 4PJ), so that if all the explosive energy turned into the kinetic energy of a 100kg lid, it would end up travelling at 0.0002 of c as well.

Perhaps that was the original calculation :-)

(bah - half ton lid ... so erm, 0.0001 of c)

Paul Kinsler

Re: 2.0013% of the maximum velocity of a sheep in a vacuum.

Maybe we should recalculate:

60e8 / 3e8 = 0.0002,

ie 0.02% of the maximum velocity of a sheep in a vacuum.

New Horizons: We've got a pretty pic of Pluto. Now let's get our SCIENCE on

Paul Kinsler

Are you worried by space probes pictured at the wrong angle for your eyes?

... if you think so, look here:


load 'em up and rotate to your heart's content. There's one of New Horizons...

Chinese takeaway, hold the Google: Xiaomi Mi4 LTE Android

Paul Kinsler

Re: USB - a nonstandard one?!

Well, what's the point of having a whole /universe/ of different connectors to chose from, if you have to keep using the same boring old one over and over and over again? Defeats the point, doesn't it?

Argentina finds messenger to shoot after e-vote vuln allegations

Paul Kinsler

Re: "Democracy is in the counting" (Tom Stoppard)

Statistical test for irregularities are also possible: see e.g.


Boffins demo 'memcomputer', plot von Neumann's retirement

Paul Kinsler

Re: a Fourier transform in real time but it couldn't run a simple spreadsheet with ...

Your requirements might be different, of course, but my use for fourier transforms is much greater than that for spreadsheets (although, to be fair, I did use a spreadsheet about three years ago).

It can be quite useful to dig up old ideas and see how much further you can push them with modern technology. Perhaps we should wait and see how far they can get before turning on the full-strength pessimism.

Giant FLYING SPACE ROCKS could KILL US ALL, warns Brian May

Paul Kinsler

Re: Scientists are trying to raise funding ...

Sure. But being scientists who work in the field of "flying space rocks", they're really quite keen on knowing all about flying space rocks, and you can be quite sure that if you give them money to spend on learning about flying space rocks, that's what they'll spend it on (although they might spend some of it on flying space icebergs, or some other field closely related to flying space rocks instead).

Kamikaze Rosetta probe to ram comet it's chased for billions of miles

Paul Kinsler

Re: we'll have splattered repeater Rosetta. D'oh.

There's little choice - Rosetta isn't in an orbit, the comet doesn't have enough gravity - Rosetta is being flown around the comet in arcs (IIRC). A gentle touchdown would at least keep Rosetta on the comet, but than a high-speed crash would be more totally awesome!

I'm not sure from this reporting what sort of `landing' will be attempted. I suspect, from the Philae attempt, it'd be a bit of a lottery anyway.

British banks consider emoji as password replacement

Paul Kinsler

Re: good luck writing it down on a post-it :D

But on the plus side, the chances of anyone /else/ being able to decipher the password written on the post-it are very greatly reduced.

Glass door to the ancient past FOUND ON MARS

Paul Kinsler

Re: How do they know there are algae in the crater?

They don't ... but if there was, a bloody great rock landed on its head, and then entombed it in glass - it sure as hell wasn't going to move very far after all that!

Paper driving licence death day: DVLA website is still TITSUP

Paul Kinsler

Re: Are they supposed to get a new code every few days?

Do you want a non-expiring code that can be kept by (or leaked from) the car hire company or its employees, and be (mis)used to check up on your driver record at some undetermined later date?

I take your point - but being able to pre-generate codes with fixed & limited future validity dates would be better. You could create a stack for sequential hires, if needed, but they wouldn't persist longer than necessary.

Bill Nye's bonkers LightSail spaceship unfurls solar sails at last

Paul Kinsler

Re: Hence momentum is a derivative of energy.

Hmm, not really: energy & momentum have very distinct conservation laws:


Notably, a perfectly elastic collision can change momenta but not energy. The fact that typical collisions involve both energy and momentum transfer is not quite the point.

RAF Eurofighter gets a Battle of Britain makeover

Paul Kinsler

Re: What devious weapon requires a tank full of gravity?

If you think that's bad, wait til it points its Entorpy Ray at you :-)

Chap mines Bitcoin with PUNCH CARDS and ancient mainframe

Paul Kinsler

Re: Did he feel bored one day?

Nah. If he'd been bored, he'd have tried it using an abacus :-)

Mobiles at school could be MAKING YOUR KID MORE DUMBER

Paul Kinsler

Re: Another thing entirely is to ban mobile phones in class and enforce the ban.

Read the article: they take into account estimated compliance rates.

Paul Kinsler

Re: Hmm

See fig.2, with 95% confidence limits indicated.

Google DOG WHISTLING fails to send URLs across the room

Paul Kinsler

Re: I can see it now...

... and just think of those offices/workspaces with some radio station playing in the background...

Metadata scope creep sees Border Force ask for access

Paul Kinsler

Re: People think Arachnaphobia was a fictional film

.... a fictional film that used Avondale spiders from New Zealand, I could add. Although Australian spiders may be more deadly, apparently they lack the "star appeal" of large, sociable spiders from the other side of the Tasman.

Look out, law abiding folk: UK’s Counter-Extremism Bill slithers into view

Paul Kinsler

Define 'extremist'.

How about this: "Anyone who can be found using the method of Lagrange multipliers". Women who have had children are a case in point: they might be an Extremum.


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