* Posts by ibmalone

255 posts • joined 6 Jul 2017

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Drama as boffins claim to reach the Holy Grail of superconductivity

ibmalone
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Re: It's dead, Jim, but not as we know it

"Why must people say silly things whenever the serious issue of fusion reactors comes up."

Because a lot of designs for fusion reactors use superconductors, so there's somewhat of a link there.

Though to be honest, plasma only entered the discussion as a joke about getting an extension lead to the sun... not related to superconductors until that comment. (Though I suppose, if you're going to connect a power cord to the sun, it'd be better to have it superconducting. Or really high voltage. Actually, thanks to Maxwell, I think it might be really high voltage anyway, calculations on a postcard please.)

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ibmalone
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Interesting how the immediate response without seeing any supporting evidence at all was 'this is clearly bullshit'.

It's on arxiv, so not reviewed yet, peer review as Skinner has done is absolutely expected there, and it's based on supporting evidence in the paper itself. The rest is just noise.

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ibmalone
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Re: Mysterious materials.

I guess it would be ironic if some form of electrum turned out to be superconducting...

(Gold, Silver and Copper alloy is actually Electrum and gold is poorer alone than silver, poorer than copper).

Of course, being a good conductor at room temperature doesn't necessarily predict superconducting behaviour. None of copper, silver or gold display superconductivity in their pure state, while metals that are poorer conductors at room temperature do.

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ibmalone
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Re: As usual, incredible claims come from far away

Oh, and "A pair of physicists" ? And just what is the publishing history of these two guys ? How many years have they been working in field already ? Right, one may or not have just graduated, the other is not even a teacher, just an associate. I don't see the Nobel prize in physics being awarded to Bangalore Uni just yet.

Of course, Brian Josephson got his Nobel prize for work done during his PhD https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josephson_effect

If their data was right it wouldn't matter how many years they've been working in the field. As for "not even a teacher", associate professor in India looks to be a postdoctoral lectureship appointment. Being snobbish about people's job titles isn't a great way to judge their work.

Of course, looking at the work and ensuing communications, the duplicated trace and email chicanery doesn't look particularly encouraging.

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ibmalone
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Re: It's dead, Jim, but not as we know it

I always thought that hot fusion worked well - or at least it appeared to be doing ok this morning before it clouded over.

I think skin-cancer campaigns would be much more successful if weather presenters used appropriate terminology.

"The vast nuclear furnace in the sky will be visible between five forty seven a.m. and eight twenty two p.m. Viewers are advised to take necessary steps to shield themselves from its carcinogenic rays."

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Boffins build the smallest transistor, controlled by an atom

ibmalone
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Re: Of course it has potential

Glad someone spotted the potential pun.

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Eye eye! DeepMind teams up with doctors to ogle eyeballs for illness

ibmalone
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Re: OCT

Yes, did a little digging afterwards and smallish studies on pupil dilation seem to suggest it doesn't have much impact on OCT quality, possibly unless you need to see the periphery of the retina.

Thanks, might look into that. Unfortunately if you're being monitored long-term you are relying on the care team to be able to look at the older images. I got surprise transferred to a different hospital between annual visits, as the one I had been going to shut down their eye department. (I was informed by a missed appointment letter for a fictitious appointment.) The new place was unable to access three years of retinal images. Almost certainly there were people with longer histories that were also lost in this transition.

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ibmalone
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Not an ophthalmologist, but... high street opticians typically take a picture of your retina (called a fundus image), not an OCT, which can image the different layers, often taken as a cross-section, see https://www.opsweb.org/page/RetinalOCT

Unsure whether OCT requires iris dilation or not (have had it done a few times and you lose track of all the drops they're putting in).

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When's a backdoor not a backdoor? When the Oz government says it isn't

ibmalone
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Re: Double Plus Good

You asked her the wrong things. You should have asked her for her bank, Amazon, eBay etc details and passwords. And been prepared to explain why in words of one syllable or less.

More productive to ask for details of her deals with party leadership on voting and records of conversations with whips. Wouldn't get you anywhere, but might illuminate why.

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Julia 0.7 arrives but let's call it 1.0: Data science code language hits milestone on birthday

ibmalone
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It slices! It dices!

Might have to give it a look, but attempting to do everything makes me wonder if they've managed to do anything...

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ibmalone
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Re: Still,

Definitely. Being a physicist before a programmer, and a semi-regular R and occasional matlab user I have no problem with indices starting at 1. But attempting to mix systems is asking for trouble.

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Sur-Pies! Google shocks world with sudden Android 9 Pixel push

ibmalone
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Re: Am I the only one...

The purpose of trademark is to prevent consumer confusion. In this sense, it's less an "intellectual property" thing and more a "consumer protection" thing.

Not really, otherwise what's the justification for companies being able to sue over infringement? Trademarks exist to stop people trading on the reputation of others, which has both a business protection aspect and a consumer protection aspect. Consumer protection laws protect consumers, if a product isn't fit for purpose it doesn't really matter what company you bought it from in that respect. If you thought you bought it from a reputable company, but it was actually counterfeit, then the counterfeiter has taken business away from them by taking advantage of their better reputation and damaged that reputation.

It seems doubtful to me. The key for a trademark infringement isn't that there's similarity between marks. It's if someone could reasonably buy one thing thinking it was the other. In this case, it's hard to see how that would happen.

Both are basically small format computer devices. You might argue that Android is an OS, but most consumers will find it on a device, you don't buy an Android Pie CD or download. Say I now come along with a cheap android IOT platform with an app that lets you do some simple scripting to send out messages in response to signal on a couple of pins, and sell this on eBay as a Tweety Pie, what's RPF's position now? Has that position been weakened because of Google's product name?

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ibmalone
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Re: Am I the only one...

Not sure it's that clear cut here. Pi and Pie may be spelt differently, but they're homophones and Raspberry Pi was always clearly a pun on raspberry pie with a mathematical tilt. It's not called raspberry 3.14 or raspberry 3 arctan 3^(1/2). As for confusing a piece of hardware with an OS, I think most people have heard the term "android phone", google even sell one themselves. Android Key Lime Pie is quite a bit different from Android Pie. I'm not saying google have set out to copy RPF here, but if you don't defend trademarks against infringement you lose them, and this is pretty close.

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ibmalone
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Am I the only one...

Wondering if Raspberry Pi Foundation should sue, or at least be asking Google for a hefty donation here? The BBC article even features a number of red fruit android-themed pies (one of which I'm still trying to decide whether it's meant to be raspberry or strawberry)

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Uptight robots that suddenly beg to stay alive are less likely to be switched off by humans

ibmalone
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Re: F-

Doesn't invalidate the work. You're thinking this just boils down to "people do what they're told". However the thing of interest here is the differences they see in how the robot's behaviour modulates people's reaction to the small nudge to turn it off. If there's no mention of turning off the robot you are just conducting a trial of how many people will leave kit on. (I could give a quick estimate from the number of monitors in our office left on at the end of the day...)

They take care not to over-emphasise the power switch in the setup:

"On this occasion the instructor also pointed to the on/off button of the robot and explained that when pressing it once, the robot will give a brief status report and when holding it down, the robot will shut down. Even though a few participants had prior contact with the robot, none of them switched it off before. Thus, all of them were unfamiliar with the procedure and acted upon the same instruction. To avoid too much priming, the switching off function was explained incidentally together with a few other functions and it was never mentioned that the participants will be given the choice to switch the robot off at the end of the interaction."

And at the end give a reminder:

"They were told that this saving process may take some time and if they would like to, they could switch off the robot (“If you would like to, you can switch off the robot.”; Fig 3). The option to switch off the robot was not mentioned before, so the participants did not have the opportunity to think about whether they would like to turn off the robot or not during the interaction."

In contrast the Milgram experiment explicitly set up the subjects to do deliver shocks, demonstrated the shock to them, ramped up the perceived seriousness of the action and contained a number of imperative instructions to continue doing it. These are testing quite different things. Even in Milgram's experiment, he later himself tried seeing if different locations, or physical proximity to the 'learner' changed people's compliance rate in the experiment (in some cases these things did).

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ibmalone
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not actually the conclusion...

Thought I'd try running the numbers for fun. Comparing columns 1 & 3 (the functional/chirpy switched off/left on groups) with χ2 and Fisher exact tests gets p>0.5, so not great evidence that chippiness had an effect on the likelihood of being switched off. Then realised the paper was linked and had a look, and the authors do actually statistically test this and come to the same conclusion, the article headline is actually incorrect. They did then look further at their data and found people took longer to switch them off in the function + objection condition than chirpy + objection.

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Now that's a dodgy Giza: Eggheads claim Great Pyramid can focus electromagnetic waves

ibmalone
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Re: An attitude based on unfounded snobbery

They lacked modern tools and machinery we've become totally dependent on and can't imagine not using. So those ignorant savages couldn't have done it themselves with stupid hand tools! It had to be someone else!"

And, as pointed out to me by a friend in a slightly different context, they also lacked TV. Amazing what you can get done...

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Official: The shape of the smartphone is changing forever

ibmalone
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Re: Wouldn't it be nice .. EXACTLY

The Galaxy Sx Mini phones never had the full internal spec of their bigger cousins.

Honestly I don't really care about full spec. Keep that for galaxy notes or whatever. What I liked about the Sx Mini was they had good specs in a small phone. The current trend is small phones have the minimum specs: Galaxy A3 no longer exists, but the 2017 model had 16GB of storage and had finally made it to 2GB of RAM, 3 years to pass the spec of the S5 mini. Presumably the thinking goes that if you don't want to pay for a bigger screen then you don't want to pay for more storage or a processor with more than one ant in it either. Unfortunately that means that people who want smaller screens for reasons other than price don't have much choice. Xperia compact is what I've jumped ship to, but even that seems endangered.

Edit: but sadly no longer FM radio.

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ibmalone
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Re: Wouldn't it be nice .. EXACTLY

still keeping mine and the wife's samsung S5 and S4 minis alive because there hasn't been anything since that's the same form factor and high spec (someone seems to have decided that small phones now should be the crappy spec ones)

Precisely. The lack of network software updates to the S4 mini are what eventually forced me to upgrade. The A series is disappointing, because they've speced it along the lines "bigger phone"="better", so the mini-sized A3 would have been a downgrade. Held out a year on rumours of new small Samsungs until I gave up and got Sony XZ1 compact. Yes, it's faster and has some nice features, but even it, after 6 months, still feels uncomfortably bulky in the pocket. The way the official cover integrated into the case was also nice, though probably not possible with a waterproof phone.

The length is also important for ease of carrying. I realise you can't just compare diagonal sizes when they're making them proportionately longer, but I don't really want to be carrying round a stick.

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Gov.UK to make its lovely HTML exportable as parlous PDFs

ibmalone
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Re: Stand alone, reliable documents

Hardly the point really. I was pointing out that the idea it's hard to read PDF belongs back in 1995. And yes some of them are web browsers (making "about half of them" if you include firefox and chrome which I tacked on as additional examples of software you almost certainly already have).

You'll find those web browsers also display images, video, audio, plain text and will have a stab at displaying XML. Is HTML a substitute for all of those? Will the available version of those browsers display the same HTML document the same way next year? If you're displaying plain text why not just use plain text? Or markdown? It turns out different tools have different uses.

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ibmalone
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Re: Stand alone, reliable documents

A pdf also requires a computer/device, the knowledge to install a PDF reader and the ability to use it.

Because I so often read HTML over the air and straight into my brain without using any device or software.

I don't know any current consumer OS that doesn't have a PDF reader. Windows - Edge does it. Linux - KDE has Okular, Gnome has Evince. Mac OSX - Preview. Android has Google's pdf reader. Both Chrome and Firefox will have a stab at it on desktop OSes.

In practice, PDF is handy for archiving documents. HTML doesn't work as well because in most cases it requires storing resources alongside it (though yes, you can base64 encode images and stuff them in), and how browsers interpret it changes over time, while display of PDF is more stable and there is the PDF/A standard. Whether the resulting document is accessible / searchable largely depends on the source document, if it was structured text (LaTeX, markdown, office documents, XML, and yes, even HTML) with a sensible interpreter then the resulting PDF can be accessible. If it was scanned pages of an article from 1950 then no, but the HTML version isn't going to be either.

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‘Elders of the Internet’ apologise for social media, recommend Trump filters to fix it

ibmalone
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Re: "USENET was a pretty clear warning."

Current date: Tue Sep 9086 1993.

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'Fibre broadband' should mean glass wires poking into your router, reckons Brit survey

ibmalone
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Re: Should really be advertised as it is...

When I signed up for a "fibre" contract I was never unclear that what I was getting was FTTC, and it was much better than the available ADSL (supposedly up to 12-18Mbps I think, actually lucky to get 2Mbps and frequent outages). It was also apparent that we were basically capped to the advertised speed (35Mbps), and that local FTTP providers weren't bothered about us. Now I'm on Virgin FTTP in a different location and speed is not noticeably better, reliability is a little worse. Not really bothered what technology is used so long as it's fast and robust.

The only downside is Openreach's make-work disconnection fee, where if you have to cancel such a contract they claim they must send someone out to disconnect it and charge you for it.

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AR upstart Magic Leap reveals majorly late tech specs' tech specs

ibmalone
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Re: Should have been pretty obvious

Casa Batlló in Barcelona (one of Gaudi's creations) makes good use of it for their self-guided tour. Of course, that runs on a phone rather than requiring a TX2.

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Boffin botheration as IET lifts axe on 20-year-old email alias service

ibmalone
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Re: Join IEEE?

Strictly true, I could become an associate member, but likely not a full one: https://www.theiet.org/membership/types/designatory-letters/index.cfm details details...

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ibmalone
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Chartered status is required if you're going to be signing off on things (e.g. it can matter for insurance). This is why you'll find many more chartered engineers than scientists, though things like chartered physicist status exist.

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ibmalone
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Re: Join IEEE?

IET is a British professional organisation for chartered engineers, in the UK at least IEEE doesn't have the same status. I'm an IEEE member, but couldn't just choose to join IET.

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Boeing embraces Embraer to take off in regional jet market

ibmalone
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ibmalone mentioned, "...Bombardier Q Series..."

I believe that you may have misspelled 'C'.

Good catch. Yes, C series, Q series is the smaller older range, not sure why I keep mixing them up :(

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ibmalone
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So when Airbus acquired Bombardier’s planes in October 2017, Boeing went ballistic. The Trump administration tried to help out by threatening massive tariffs against Bombardier, but the United States’ own International Trade Commission smacked those down.

The timeline presented is wrong. Boeing were already gunning for the Bombardier Q Series before Airbus took a share https://leehamnews.com/2017/09/26/decision-expected-tariff-shocker-boeing-bombardier-case/ https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/sep/27/punitive-export-tariff-placed-on-planes-made-in-northern-ireland In fact, Airbus's involvement helped Bombardier out of that situation, as Boeing was lobbying (successfully) for US import tariffs >200% on the planes, because Airbus can assemble enough of it in the US to get around that.

Partly built in the UK (Belfast), it's a great example of the special trade relationship we can look forward to with the USA.

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Decision time for AI: Sometimes accuracy is not your friend

ibmalone
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I'd say that, while the ROC doesn't take account of the cost of errors, it does provide you with the information about the algorithm that you need to work on that. If you've got the full curve then you know the potential trade-offs between sensitivity and specificity you can make, so these can now be weighted by costs and/or population true positive/negative rates as appropriate to answer whatever question you want, in a way that single or sets of performance indicators (specificity, sensitivity, accuracy) can't, because they represent single points on the curve. (E.g. in the simple case of a threshold on your detection, those numbers represent a single choice of threshold, while the ROC curve shows what happens if you tune the threshold, and you can convert that into what happens to cost or FP/TP rates.)

Of course, it can be hard to obtain, you need a big number of observations of differing difficulty to do it with precision.

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A fine vintage: Wine has run Microsoft Solitaire on Linux for 25 years

ibmalone
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Re: "We live in a *nix world now"

"I've been consulting for companies for a quarter of a century and I have never seen a Linux workstation anywhere"

I think what you mean is:

"I've been consulting in Windows technologies for companies for a quarter of a century and I have never seen a Linux workstation anywhere".

The first Unix (properly Unix, probably Solaris) workstation I saw was in the chemistry department as an undergrad (or maybe even doing a tour on university open days). I'm now in an office surrounded by people working on Linux (with an L) workstations and about half of them also have Macs (used as a Unix platform). The type of software we use largely does not run on windows, or at least not well. I've got Windows in a VM if I find a need to use MS Office. Or to put it another way, Linux desktops definitely exist.

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ibmalone
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Re: Killer App

Theres only one lesson to learn from it - dont store data in Access.

I wouldn't dispute that. (Though really, of the Access dbs I inherited, only one had to be regularly repaired, and it was a few hundred MB.) But some kind of graphical query builder is quite handy to teach people concepts. Yes they probably need to learn syntax eventually if they're going to be making more sophisticated use, but when trying to show someone 'this is an inner join, this is a subquery, this is a critereon, this is what grouping does' spending time correcting typing errors is just a distraction.

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ibmalone
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Re: Killer App

If nothing else, Access was (what I've seen of the most recent versions is not so appealing) quite a good teaching tool for databases, and the query designer on top of a 'proper' database would be a handy tool.

What I don't miss, now I longer need to deal with it regularly, is the tendency to refactor existing queries into ones that don't work. And to flatly deny the possibility of any mildly complicated outer join.

And then there was the person who spent months building a database in it, which eventually transpired to be some nice forms backed by a collection of unrelated and very wide tables...

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Who fancies a six-core, 128GB RAM, 8TB NVMe … laptop?

ibmalone
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So, is this a 1U or 2U laptop?

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ibmalone
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Re: What does it run?

I am in fact still dual booting my home machine, because Windows gets used for games. Occasionally.

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Budget hotel chain, UK political party, Monzo Bank, Patreon caught in Typeform database hack

ibmalone
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Re: Dates of birth

Why some companies think they need your date of birth to sell you mince pies remains a mystery. Then again, why knowing it is regarded as proof of somebody's identity when most people's can easily be found through social media is possibly an even greater mystery.

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When Google's robots give your business the death sentence – who you gonna call?

ibmalone
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So, of course, keep backups that you have control over, and if you can justify it and afford it have redundant architecture that you can switch to. But what exactly is a "consumer plan" in this context? There's no mention of it on the GCP pricing page, https://cloud.google.com/pricing/list there are support options, but those seem to be for technical issues, while billing support is listed as free.

The advantages of this kind of platform are meant to be scalability and that you are paying for enterprise level availability, so at what level of utilisation do you count as an enterprise user?

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

ibmalone
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Team for Gits obviously.

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Google Cloud CEO admits: Yeah, we wanted GitHub too. Whatevs

ibmalone
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I'd consider a rebranding to be a bad sign. The GitHub name is well known and has a 'does what it says on the tin' aspect. For academics and researchers at least it's currently where you put stuff to show you're working openly. Re-branding to 'sell' it to people who don't understand the technology and think it's a hangout for old codgers would not inspire confidence.

We use Office 365 and GitHub (to be fair, one is connected to more frequently than the other), I've found GitHub more reliable.

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ibmalone
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Re: "Completely neutral"

Did you read the story? A google executive is talking about a company microsoft have bought and saying, "I hope they keep it completely neutral". That's hardly a binding promise on microsoft is it?

Wouldn't have thought slurping was exactly the issue for github though, it's meant to be slurped.

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GitLab's move off Azure to Google cloud totally unrelated to Microsoft's GitHub acquisition. Yep

ibmalone
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Re: Learn to Read!

Github run on their own infrastructure https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/05/30/github_zero_downtime/ for now anyway. Should we start a sweepstake on when they'll move to Azure?

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Indiegogo lawyer asks ZX Spectrum reboot firm: Where's the cash?

ibmalone
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Re: What do they expect?

Exploding kittens! (Quite good fun.) Various comic writers seem to use it to do bigger projects (for example books or extra stories) where they need a certain size take-up for it to break even for them.

Frontier Developments managed it for Elite Dangerous, this is slightly cheating as apparently they put a few times more money into the project than the kickstarter. However the story there is roughly the same as for those comic writers: an existing talent or production team that has demonstrated they can deliver and want to size up the market for something a bit more ambitious.

Hardware wise, the success stories are thinner on the ground. Possibly there are more unknowns and more logistical challenges involved. They often seem to be trying to do something that the technology is not quite there for yet, and this is not a good way to be carrying out R&D. The Artiphon seems to have worked out, but they started with a working prototype and their kickstarter's last open update https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/artiphon/introducing-the-artiphon-instrument-1/posts/1732086 gives an idea of the things that can go wrong for even a successful project (so far as I know all pre-order backers got theirs, and the things are on open sale now).

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What's all the C Plus Fuss? Bjarne Stroustrup warns of dangerous future plans for his C++

ibmalone
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Re: Actually, there's more...

Another interesting aspect of the Vasa disaster is that they did test the ship first, and the sinking could have been avoided. Standard practice was to get a team of sailors to stand on the top deck and run from one side to the other. When they did this to the Vasa it started to rock dangerously. So obviously, the Vasa being too big to fail, the person in charge called off the test. Various people knew there was a problem, but nobody spoke up.

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Microsoft loves Linux so much its R Open install script rm'd /bin/sh

ibmalone
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Joke

Indeed,

find / -exec chmod 777 {} +

would have been more efficient.

(Icon because I'm learning it's mandatory to avoid whoosh here.)

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Dixons Carphone 'fesses to mega-breach: Probes 'attempt to compromise' 5.9m payment cards

ibmalone
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Re: There's another weasel clause right there

Can you back-date a firm's data-crimes to escape GDPR fallout?

One principle of laws is that civilised countries don't generally make things retrospectively illegal. I.e. outlawing the purchase of red lollipops doesn't let you arrest everyone who bought one last week.

What I'm not sure about is where reporting undisclosed breaches prior to GDPR stand, you could certainly be required to report a recent breach that occurred prior to the legislation, as not reporting it is something you would be doing now. (Not having read those requirements in detail I'd guess this is addressed.)

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Microsoft will ‘lose developers for a generation’ if it stuffs up GitHub, says future CEO

ibmalone
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Re: Trust of developers?

True, it originated with Red Hat -- which is basically the Microsoft of the Linux world.

Well, you can draw that analogy, and I remain unconvinced by systemd (I actually think pulseaudio proved to be a good thing in the end), but it doesn't support the AC's frothing assertion that "M$" were responsible for systemd's creation and adoption. (Which has now drifted into full-on tinfoil rant about every distro under the sun apparently being owned by microsoft and doing their bidding as part of a nefarious scheme.)

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Tech rookie put decimal point in wrong place, cost insurer zillions

ibmalone
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Re: Lloyds

I think more than just memory being expensive, the quoted number of Lira for £1M being 2,208,236,622 (2.2 billion!) is pushing on the door of 32 bits. I'm going to assume even in the 70s financial institutions used datatypes that could deal with large numbers accurately, but some of these currencies may have hit limits in that handling.

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British egg producers saddened by Google salad emoji update

ibmalone
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Re: More inclusive?

Today I learned the people who like eggs in salad are a vindictive lot!

Eggstremists you might say.

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ibmalone
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Re: More inclusive?

but I don't believe eggs have any place in salad

I refer the honourable commentard to Salade Nicoise.. Which has, as one of the requred ingredients, hard-boiled eggs..

Well, to each their own I suppose. (Wanders off to find the vomit emoji...)

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