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* Posts by Lotaresco

1069 posts • joined 24 Sep 2007

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What's up with that ZX Spectrum reboot? Still no console

Lotaresco
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Re: Really?

ITYM:

"Mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself, but talent instantly recognizes genius."

-- Arthur Conan Doyle

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Lotaresco
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I don't think I dreamed it

But it is surreal enough to be a dream. I'm reasonably sure that earlier this month RCL were attempting to raise more cash from punters outside of Indiegogo, via Facebook. I looked at the offer, sniggered and promptly forgot about it. However a week later I saw people stating that they would be pledging cash support against the promise of receiving discounted Vega+ consoles.

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Apple MacBook butterfly keyboards 'defective', 'prone to fail' – lawsuit

Lotaresco
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Oh Ye Of Little Faith!

Apple solved this problem years ago with the MacBook Wheel. The MacBook Wheel lets consumers accomplish everyday tasks like typing with just a few dozen spins and clicks of a wheel.

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UK Ministry of Justice knocks down towers, brings IT BACK in-house

Lotaresco
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I fear this will not go well

MoJ had to outsource because there were no in-house skills suitable for the delivery that they wanted (needed?). The sort of thing they want to do - secure VTC, secure voice, roaming "secure"[1] end user devices, and plug in access to IT services across the entire Criminal Justice estate is bread and butter for commercial organisations and requires a skill mix not present in the Civil Service to implement.

This is a limited form of "taking back control" and is probably what should have been done from the beginning but it does not address the public sector skills shortages in both technical skills and project management for complex technical programmes. I've moved between commercial and government work quite often over the years and I find that the public sector is always behind in terms of how it manages work. Some of the blame lies at the feet of the CS hierarchical structure, some at the ludicrous policy of preferring arts graduates for all roles, some at the feet of individuals who are unable to stand up to nonsense from either their superiors or systems integrators.

This will only be sorted when a technical education is recognised as essential for delivery of technical programmes and when programme management are empowered to make decisions and reject stupid ideas.

[1] FSVO "secure".

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NASA dusts off FORTRAN manual, revives 20-year-old data on Ganymede

Lotaresco
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Re: Jupiter's magnetic fields

"for most astronomers a 'metal' is anything with atomic number greater than 2. E.g. nitrogen, chlorine, etc."

If that is the case then astronomers need to head back to school and learn some chemistry. Metals are electron donors which can share valence electrons between other metallic atoms in a mobile electron cloud which is why they can conduct electricity. Neither nitrogen nor chlorine is a metal.

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Lotaresco
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Re: Jupiter's magnetic fields

"Earth's>molten iron-rich core>moon"

The moon isn't important in this, it's just earth's metallic core that matters.

"What's causing Jupiter's?"

A metallic core. Hydrogen is a metal.

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Javid's in, Rudd's out: UK Home Sec quits over immigration targets scandal

Lotaresco
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Re: So who's Javid?

"How much of an authoritarian whackjob is he compared to Amber "Hashtags" Rudd?"

I think the evidence about Javis is that these days he's very keen on deporting all those horrible EU citizens from the UK ASAP. He also proposes that the UK should throw open it's borders to let in as many nice, cheap Indian citizens who know something about IT so that the government can escape from having to pay huge contractor wages. Some of these contractors earn more than the Prime Minister you know!

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Lotaresco
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Re: Hitting those notorious targets of illegal immigrants

"So, that means the H.O knows how many (illegal) immigrants it has actually allowed to enter the country."

No it doesn't. The setting of targets by ministers is unrelated to the ability of the civil servants to do the job and certainly takes no account of the possibility that any given department can meet those targets. A target is just something plucked from the air and then used as a stick to beat senior civil servants who do what they have always done, cascade the misery downwards until the problem becomes one for some under-educated under-achiever in some miserable, dank office hundreds of miles from London.

In the case of Home Office targets it will work like this, the Minister sets a target for removal of "immigrants" from the UK. The Minister hopes that this will mean that thousands of people who entered the country illegally will be removed. However the Minister is also careful not to specify that the "immigrants" are proved to be in the country illegally, they leave the definition of an illegal immigrant up to the department.

The department has not a chance of getting this right. It has no data to turn to that will tell it who entered the country illegally because they entered the country illegally and didn't fill in a form saying that they were illegal. It would be far too difficult to go looking for these people, so the department does not bother. What they do is to trawl through all the nice people who in all innocence engage with authority. People applying for a passport, driving licence, NHS treatment, pensioners etc. Then the department demands impossible levels of proof before accepting that someone is legally resident. They refuse to accept documents such as decades of tax payments, school records, mortgage, utility bills etc as proff of residence. They refuse to accept legally issued birth certificates unless, say, the person has the original signed-in-blood birth certificate issued at the moment of birth and handed to someone else who lost it. If they can't comply throw them on an aeroplane to some place they have never seen before then forget about the problem. It's just another step towards that 12,500 a year target.

It's always far easier to use bureaucracy to make life miserable for decent people than it is to find people who have actual criminal intent. There's not even an attempt to find out what the contribution of an individual to the UK is. So we end up throwing out doctors, nurses, teachers, grandmothers, kindergarten assistants (etc.) and letting the drug dealers, pimps and ladies of negotiable value stay.

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Amazon, LG Electronics turned my vape into an exploding bomb, says burned bloke in lawsuit

Lotaresco
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Re: Batteries in the pocket, eh?

"the most common underestimation made in the design sector of any product is the ingenuity of idiots."

It has been this way probably for as long as Hom. sap. have existed. Two notable SciFi works pointed to this, Cyril M. Kornbluth in 1951 in his novella "The Marching Morons" that described a near future society in which the few "intellectuals" are working themselves to death to stop the morons from harming themselves. H Beam Piper's "Day of the Moron" covers the same ground but from the point of view of a nuclear power station operated by people who will push buttons "just to see what happens". Also written in 1951 which makes me a suspect that some editor sent out a request for stories on a theme. The latter book was prophetic given that it was written 35 years before Chernobyl.

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Car-crash television: 'Excuse me ma'am, do you speak English?' 'Yes I do,' replies AMD's CEO

Lotaresco
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Re: F1 is a Car Crash

"I didn't realize people knew this much about people who drive around in circles"

You're thinking of NASCAR. HTH.

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Lotaresco
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Re: F1 is a Car Crash

"I go back to Sterling Moss"

Was he Stirling's more expensive older brother?

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Lotaresco
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Re: F1 is a Car Crash

"the most exiting was the pit stop"

Well, duh. The only place they can exit in normal circumstances is the pits.

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NASA's TESS mission in distress, Mars Express restart is a success

Lotaresco
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Gimp

That has to score some sort of record...

... for fastest, most OTT, fanbhoi knee jerk. First world problems or what?

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British government to ink deal for yet another immigration database

Lotaresco
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This will fail...

... for the same reasons that it has failed in the past. The Civil Service can't write requirements. They don't even understand the concept. So what happens is that they get the suppliers to write the requirements themselves with some contractual stipulation about "Chinese Walls". This is flawed because it assumes that the supplier's staff will have sufficiently broad knowledge to be able to write an inclusive set of requirements that leads to selection of an optimum design, build, service and support from the supplier. However every supplier, even with good intentions, only favours or understands what they do now. They can only choose from their own menu.

It gets worse when the Civil Service get involved with design reviews and their "new" ideas. When you get the likes of GDS screaming "Agile" and setting up some naïve process which isn't Agile because the government can't do Agile but they put some fairy-dust sprinkling of Agile in place then continue with their old design review boards and four month review periods. Then every decision needs to be signed off by a Minister who doesn't even understand what they are looking at because a PPE degree doesn't cover anything about IT, more delay, more cost, more flighty last-minute design changes.

Still we can fix it now by buying a cloud solution <rolls eyes>.

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Facebook admits it does track non-users, for their own good

Lotaresco
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"I'm going to stick with 'cause they are all greedy a-holes who use possible sales as merely permission to be data fetishists."

Good call.

It's so broken that, for example, staying at a hotel in Central France because the road was blocked with snow ahead sees me deluged with adverts to return to the same hotel. It's not going to happen guys, it was a distress purchase. I buy, say a DIY item like a drill, I get besieged with advertising for drills. I'm not a site manager, one drill should last me the rest of my life.

It doesn't even work for things I buy often. I'm working on a project where I need several mini PCs. I buy a handful from suppliers to test, I find one I like. I'm now receiving adverts from every single manufacturer tested for their mini PCs. But, the type I want is no longer in stock. So I'm getting ads for stuff I would never buy. So what happens? Yes, I add the names of the advertisers to my list of "Organisations that I will never do business with." Way to go, guys.

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Google's not-Linux OS documentation cracks box open at last

Lotaresco
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What's that you say Johnny?

No Fuschia, No Fuschia, No Fuschia for me

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Scotland: Get tae f**k on 10Mbps Broadband USO

Lotaresco
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10Mbps?

So less than half the rate that we (in a part of England that's so rural that you have to drive 9 miles to find a petrol station) get from ADSL? What is the actual point?

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UK rocket-botherers rattle SABRE, snaffle big bucks

Lotaresco
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Re: That's good, but...

" Mullard, Ferranti, Marconi and ICL should not have been squashed into the ground"

Mulllard - the investors sold all their shares to Philips in 1927

Marconi - merged with BAe

Ferranti - collapsed after an enormous management cock up of buying a pig in a poke

ICL - sold off to Fujitsu by a government too bone idle to work out what else to do with the company

Only ICL was "squashed into the ground" in that list.

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Furious gunwoman opens fire at YouTube HQ, three people shot

Lotaresco
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Re: Of all places

"What has to happen for people to stop wanting to kill one another?"

Relinquishing US citizenship seems to be one of the things that helps. Being 12th in the world for gun deaths and first in the world for gun ownership (more guns than people) isn't a great start in the "wanting to kill each other" stakes. It's also not gun ownership of itself that's leading to the appalling record in the USA. Norway, for example has one gun for every three people but has a firearm homicide rate (per 100,000) that is just 6% that of the USA. So the real factors in firearm homicide seem to be guns + murrican.

Interestingly most of the top 12 places in firearms deaths are taken by countries in the Americas/Caribbean. The only exception being Swaziland. Y'all need to calm (the fsck) down.

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Lotaresco
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"If you outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns."

And the police, the armed services... and indeed anyone with a legal purpose for gun ownership.

If you're going to blart what you think is a truism, it's a good idea to make sure that it's not a falsism.

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Lotaresco
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Flame

Hopes and prayers

Well that should work just as well as it has to-date.

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2001 set the standard for the next 50 years of hard (and some soft) sci-fi

Lotaresco
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Attention span

There are three SF movies that I can think of that demand a greater attention span than that exhibited by the average twitchy gamer. 2001, Solaris (the original) and Stalker. All of them are worth watching but require full attention. All three of them have been described to me as "dull, boring" by people born later than the 1960s.

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Here's the list of Chinese kit facing extra US import tariffs: Hard disk drives, optic fiber, PCB making equipment, etc

Lotaresco
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Re: Hats off!

"Don't forget to narrow it down to only those machines used in making hats out of felt."

Can I get felt here?

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Lotaresco
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Re: @ Tom 38 You don't get it...

"Trump is an interesting character."

In the same sense that Toxoplasmosis is an interesting disease, yes.

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Yes, Emergency Service Network will be late and cost more - UK perm sec

Lotaresco
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"When TETRA / Airwave rolled out well over a decade ago police forces gained a significant increase in communications capability."

It was indeed a long way over a decade ago - I worked on the next phase of roll out supplying Airwave for Fire and HA use, ending up with control rooms being commissioned in 2006. the police had been using it for some time before that.

The two problems that I recall were that few of the users liked it, mostly because end user training was dreadful. I once showed someone how to use a handset, including the emergency button and how to change to a different talk group. He said the five minute chat taught him more than the approved training course. The second problem being cost, to the extent that instead of being used as designed at as combination TETRA terminal and GSM phone the users ended up festooned with multiple mobiles and the Airwave terminal. This was because a separate phone cost a lot less than putting a SIM in an Airwave terminal.

However having got to the point where users can (just about) use it and the control rooms have more or less got around to integrating it with GIS and C2 systems throwing it out seems the worst option.

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Galileo, Galileo, Galileo, off you go: Snout of UK space forcibly removed from EU satellite trough

Lotaresco
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"We used to have one. Google blue streak. Cancelled by the usual short sighted politicians who thought sucking up to the USA was a better idea."

Blue Streak continued to fly up until 1972, as the first stage of Europa which was, a bit of usual national politicking aside, pretty much the Farnborough designed Black Prince built by a European consortium. That work lead to Ariane. Effectively, as ever, when faced with relatively modest costs the UK government bailed out before the payback point. A story that can be seen to happen over and over again.

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Lotaresco
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Re: The Swiss are in it

"I got a distinct impression the reason we ended up with a referendum is that "our representatives in Parliament" didn't do their jobs over several decades..."

Much of the "problem" has been caused by weak-kneed UK politicians (i.e. all of them) who didn't want to be responsible for enacting unpopular legislation. So they hatched a cunning plan of lobbying Brussels to get their unpopular legislation issued as an EU wide directive. Then they could shrug and say "Oh deary me, look it's the EU wot dunnit, not us." Even though the directives were drafted by UK civil servants then passed to the EU for rubber stamping.

After forty-odd years of using that particular wheeze they got bitten in the bum by it because the electorate were convinced that everything horrible in their lives was done by Brussels.

The bit that the MPs haven't worked out yet is that now they will have to implement ultra-austerity because there is no money, there will be no trade to create money and UK manufacturing such as it is will decline. We can't sell our services to new markets because the biggest new markets (Asia Pacific including China, the USA, South America, India) don't want our services. So more belt tightening on its way and now they won't be able to blame Brussels so it will be obvious that the pain is being caused by UK government. Enjoy.

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BOOM! Cambridge Analytica explodes following extraordinary TV expose

Lotaresco
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Re: Collapse of Facebook

"other social networks exist"

Yes, we could, for example, create a social network of peer-to-peer servers with no one organisation in charge of everything. It would be supported and standards policed by the users providing a demonstration of practical anarchy. Individuals would be permitted anonymous access and no one would have to state their demographic data to get access. We could call it by a name that reflects this user-centric view of social networking, say "Usenet". That's rather catchy.

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Lotaresco
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Re: Popcorn

"Under UK law, if you can prove material damage caused by spoken word, then you can sue."

Also untrue, there are things that can be said which are slander even if no material damage occurs.

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Lotaresco
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Re: Popcorn

"Don't think so. You can sue for libel, you can't sue for slander."

Slander has been assimilated into the law of libel. Hence there is no specific law of slander. Both libel and slander are now referred to collectively as "defamation". However it is possible and reasonable to sue for slander. It's certainly untrue to claim that "you can't sue for slander". There are specific instances of slander:

  • Words imputing a crime punishable with imprisonment;
  • Words imputing certain diseases [1];
  • Words disparaging a person in his office, calling or profession.

for which it is possible to sue for slander without any proof of damage.

[1] Mostly diseases of the nether bits.

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Ugh, of course Germany trounces Blighty for cyber security salaries

Lotaresco
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Re: Switzerland

I agree, many things are cheaper in Switzerland. Fuel for a vehicle, for example - you should see the queues from Italy to fill up at the co-op petrol station at Vacallo. Restaurants are a good price compared to the UK, you couldn't get a meal for one person for £28 at most UK restaurants this side of McDonalds, let alone a "simple meal" for three.

The bad things with Switzerland are that, scenery apart, it's more than a bit boring and as was identified above, racism is rife. Racism runs deep, from the petty racism of cheating on small change and muttering insults under one's breath to the institutional racism that is expressed particularly at anyone Turkish or even anyone from the non-German speaking cantons.

I lived and worked there for several years and ended up living in Italy which is more expensive, lower paid but at least it's a happier place than po-faced Switzerland.

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British clockwork radio boffin Trevor Baylis terminally winds down

Lotaresco
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A man let down by others

I bought a couple of Baygen radios to give to people who needed them. It was a double benefit because Baygen had a policy of giving one radio away in Africa for each radio bought in the UK. Trevor wasn't just an inventor, he was a true philanthropist. I don't think he ever expected to get rich off the sales of the radios but I think he was (rightly) upset about the way his idea was both pillaged and diminished by companies looking to make a big profit.

His genuine innovation was the control circuitry that governed the clockwork generator meaning that the spring unwound at a rate determined by how loud the radio was. The rest was good design. The Baygen radios were a pleasure to listen to with a decent sized loudspeaker. They were capable of decent sound levels and could be used to entertain a family or a number of people in a public space in a village.

There's another side to a successful product and that is selling the product on its features and benefits. The Baygen was well designed, reliable and was a good product even without the clockwork generator (it was possible to run the radio from an external PSU). It should have succeeded as a product in its own right, at which point the patent issues become irrelevant and the design is protected by copyright. I think something else went seriously wrong at Baygen but have no idea what it was. I do remember getting quite frustrated with the sales droids at Baygen who didn't seem to want to sell the radios in the UK, and who were oblivious to the point that this was raising revenue.

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New algorithm could help self-driving cars scout out hidden objects

Lotaresco
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No scary implications

None at all, no possible military use for a detector that can see around corners and determine the velocity of an object[1] hiding around the corner.

[1] People are objects.

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Lotaresco
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Re: Or it could

"let's create some nearly impossible to perfect technology to allow us to go around curves 10 mph faster..."

Sounds good to me. Although 10mph isn't very ambitious.

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10 PRINT "ZX81 at 37" 20 GOTO 10

Lotaresco
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Re: I had a ZX80

"I bought an ICL OPD when I was in college (spectrum with knobs on)."

Errm the OPD was a Sinclair QL with a built-in telephone handset. The similar device that was a Spectrum with knobs on was the Amstrad emailer.

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Lotaresco
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Re: Gateway Drug

"I had a metal bracket on to "secure" my ram pack "

I had a ribbon cable with a socket at one end and an edge connector at the other. that meant that I could use the RAM pack and any wobbling of the ZX-81 didn't cause any problems. The sockets and edge connectors were available at Maplin.

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Lotaresco
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Where are we now?

For the price that a ZX-81 cost at launch, I bought a "mini PC" last week. Today £99.95 gets you a N3450 1.1GHz quad core processor, 4GB of RAM, 32GB SSD and 4K graphics. Adjusted for inflation the ZX-81 would cost £482.03 today.

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Lotaresco
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I remember...

Writing a lunar landing game in Z80 Assembler then lovingly hand-coding it in hex. I worked hard to give it real-moon physics and "realistic" thrusters that displayed flashing '<' or '>' and '=" alternately to give the effect of 'flame' the sky was peppered with '.' and '*' and some of them twinkled in a completely non realistic manner.

I loved it, friends hated it, but then having declared their hate would spend hours trying to land it before the "realistic" and almost inevitable crash happened.

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Brit military boffins buy airtime on HD eye-in-the-sky video satellite

Lotaresco
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If only...

If only there were some technology we could adopt that would make it difficult to see us from space.

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Swiss see Telly Tax as a Big Plus, vote against scrapping it

Lotaresco
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Re: BBC from the days of Yes Minister and Spitting Image - yes

"The BBC from the 80s was a place where the Today programme set the political agenda for the day, where Panorama did political investigation"

The Today programme has set the political agenda for most of my life, however Panorama has not featured particularly hard-hitting investigations. The Granada TV series "World in Action" was the one that had the most impact and saw the production team taking the big risks. Panorama was (is) always a little too safe and keen to doff the cap to the BBC's political overlords.

It's a reasonable bet that any story that someone thinks was broken by Panorama was actually featured in "World in Action" or Private Eye.

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Senate mulls offensive AI, new training tools and now Chinese faceswaps Trump

Lotaresco
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A new contender...

"But they would be androids, so it wouldn't be slavery?"

This implies a new contender for "The worst job in History" and I think it's a winner. The person who has the job of hosing out the innards of sex robots. I also think it's likely to be one of the last jobs to be automated.

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Six things I learned from using the iPad Pro for Real Work™

Lotaresco
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Not universally useful

There are some things that a tablet can't do or where using a tablet would be overkill.

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Lotaresco
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"Details like... you can't drag-drop nicely, manage files, save a JPEG... god."

Details that don't exist you mean?

I can manage files just fine on an iPad/iPhone using FileExplorer. It's easy to keep them appropriately filed and tidy on my NAS, DropBox, GoogleDrive, OneDrive, WebDAV, Box, etc.

As to JPEG, I can export as JPEG, PNG or whatever the heck I like, depending on the App.

Here, for example, is the list of import/export formats supported by ArtStudio.

Import: Images - PNG, JPEG, PSD, HEIC, TIFF, Brushes - ABR, TPL, Color swatches - ASE, ACO, Patterns - PAT, Gradients - GRD, Fonts - TTF, OTF

Export: Images - PNG, JPEG, PSD, TIFF

Knocking Apple/iOS is fine by me, but try to do it from a basis of knowledge rather than ignorance.

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Lotaresco
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Re: blast away

"I disagree, I think he's got the comparison right. Comparing the iPad PRO to the MacBook PRO."

Not really. A maxed out 10.5in iPad Pro with keyboard and pencil is going to cost you the same as the cheapest MacBook. That's the comparison point.

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From tomorrow, Google Chrome will block crud ads. Here's how it'll work

Lotaresco
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Static ads good, javascript baaaad

The recent ICO et al cryptocurrency mining debacle demonstrates why it's a bad idea to permit third parties to execute code in your browser. For this reason I don't block ads, but I do block javascript. My firewall also blackholes all Amazon Adsystem cruft because I find it creepy to have a completely unrelated website to echo back to me what my recent purchases on Amazon were.

Oddly this thoroughly sensible security policy also removes 99.999% of all ads from all sites. This is the evidence that the vast majority of ads are not "well behaved".

No matter how desperately someone wants to sell me things, it is not a reasonable expectation that my computer should be used to execute their software without my permission.

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UK Home Sec Amber Rudd unveils extremism blocking tool

Lotaresco
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Re: Is anyone else here worried about...

"Remember SkyNet anyone?"

It's not exactly difficult to remember, it's been in operation since 1970 and is now on its fifth generation.

Skynet

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Lotaresco
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Re: Political bullshit

"R is the number of the rounds w-bit round keys S[0, ... , 2r + 3]"

r is still undefined

PEBUK

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Lotaresco
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Headmaster

Re: Political bullshit

r is undefined

loop does not execute

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Lotaresco
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Re: "unnamed algorithm"

"I was going to go with "Rudd's Crud""

Comprehensive Restriction of Upload and Download by DAESH

or CRUDD

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Lotaresco
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Coat

"They used to burn books.

IRTA "They used to bum books."

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