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* Posts by Flocke Kroes

2294 posts • joined 19 Oct 2007

Engineer named Jason told to re-write the calendar

Flocke Kroes
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Re: Can't we get rid of May?

Normally I have no faith in the ability of politicians but the is one thing they get right consistently. I know it is hard to believe, but when one finally gets kicked out they consistently find a replacement who is even worse.

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Hello, Dixons Carphone? Yep, we're ringing from a 2015 handset. Profits down 60%, eh?

Flocke Kroes
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Re: Maybe they should take responsibility for something?

How does vendors engaging in Brexploitation lead to vendors reporting massive loss of profits?

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Leftover Synaptics debugger puts a keylogger on HP laptops

Flocke Kroes
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Can anyone explain

Why is a key logger in any way useful in a mouse or audio driver?

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Looking through walls, now easier than ever

Flocke Kroes
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The system depends on a regular pattern to the intervening materials. Stucco might defeat that.

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Intel Management Engine pwned by buffer overflow

Flocke Kroes
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If you publish how something works ...

Someone with lots to lose will promptly fix it for you for free and share the fix with confidence that someone else with lots to lose will promptly fix the next flaw and share that fix too. Intel's management engine has convinced me to shop elsewhere whenever possible - that and their 'low power' CPUs are expensive, defective and not particularly low power.

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Apple looks forward to wiping $47bn off its overseas profit tax bill – thanks to US shakeup

Flocke Kroes
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Re: Or...

The repatriation tax holiday in 2004 dropped the rate to 5.25% and the big computing companies brought back about 9% of their cash and cut over 20,000 jobs. I doubt that 14% will be very tempting. There might be some movement at 4%.

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Samsung starts cranking out 512GB eUFS storage

Flocke Kroes
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Re: Wow. Stripping the active layer off 64 chips and stacking them together..

Not quite. The article mixed 512GB and 512Gb together, so I checked Samsung's press release. There is a 512GB package which contains a flash controller chip and 8x 512Gb flash chips.

The 512Gb chips are 64 layer. That is done by building up 64 layers of cells on the same chip just like CPU's (used to?) have about 10 layers of metal to connect the transistors. The impressive bit is that they drill a holes through all those layers to make the vertical connections for each stack of cells.

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Dentist-turned bug-biter given a taste of freedom

Flocke Kroes
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Swamp draining in action

Big John, here is your chance to show us deluded liberals how foolish we are. We knew there were gross problems with the legal system but doubted that Trump could or would do anything about it. As this is what you are talking about, please tell us what Trump has done to help Justin Shafer? What has he done about the FBI agent who ordered the raid or Patterson Dental?

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Want a new HDMI cable? No? Bad luck. You'll need one for HDMI 2.1

Flocke Kroes
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Re: I'll wait

Gold plated contacts are a requirement for low voltage signalling. Back when clock speeds were barely over 1MHz there were tin plated contacts that would corrode, jam and rip the sockets off you computer. Demanding gold paid for itself even though they could not plate anything like as thin as they do now. These days the difference between a £30 gold plated cable and a £3 cable the same thickness is the price.

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Russian rocket snafu may have just violently dismantled 19 satellites

Flocke Kroes
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Animal fuel additives

This is the first I have heard of possum power, but NASA did a small scale animal fuel test, presumably to prepare for this.

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SpaceX 'raises' an extra 100 million bucks to get His Muskiness to Mars

Flocke Kroes
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One of the pre-conditions for heavy was completing of repairs to SLC-40. CRS-13 will launch from SLC-40 on the 4th. The most recent progress report on changes to LC-39A for Falcon Heavy pre-dates Zuma. Unless someone can find something more recent, heavy gets carted out and fuelled up this month, a static fire of all engines at once about the middle of next month and a demonstration launch at the end of the year.

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Tesla reveals a less-long-legged truck, but a bigger reservation price

Flocke Kroes
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Re: Electricity vs Petrol/Diesel prices

Diesel has a volumetric energy density of 9.96kWh/L, but most of that is used to heat the atmosphere. Only about 20% is used to move the vehicle. You can see why here.

To compare with an electric vehicle, we need to add about 0% diesel spilled when refuelling, and 20% for heating the battery and charger when charging. Standby for electric is about 0.05% (one day of self-discharge in the battery). Accessories get powered direct from the battery in electric, but for diesel we get losses in the engine and alternator included in the 2%, so allocating 1% for accessories in an electric vehicle is a fair guess. An electric motor is about 90% efficient, so about 70% of the electricity you pay for reaches the driver train compared to 19-25% for diesel.

A diesel drive chain converts between ⅕ and ⅓ of its 19-25% input into heat. Electric does not need a clutch or gearbox, so I will guess about a tenth. The problem is it is a tenth of 70%, so it looks bad compared to the 5-6% in the diagram for diesel. Likewise the figures for aerodynamic, rolling and braking have to be scaled up by 63/13 (or 63/20 for motorway). That is a good thing! The entire purpose of a vehicle is to hammer the road and kick the air around. That gives a whopping 29% for brakes (6.3% motorway), and regenerative braking puts about half of that back into the battery.

For a fair comparison, you should be dividing your electricity bill by about 3 for motorways and about 5 for towns - then budgeting for a new battery every 2 to 4 years (longer if you do not drive the vehicles complete range every day).

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User experience test tools: A privacy accident waiting to happen

Flocke Kroes
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Designing software to create computer illiterates

Firefox used to have easily accessed off switch for javascript. The switch has been hidden because when illiterates view a broken website with javascript disabled they blame firefox, not the site's owner.

The checkbox could have been given a warning: "Disabling javascript will block irritating adverts and most spyware, but some badly/maliciously designed websites will become unusable." Dozens of people would have become slightly less computer illiterate. One or two broken websites would have been fixed for a few months.

If you have the choice between deleting something useful and providing an opportunity for people to become a little less ignorant, please think of the consequences.

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Massive US military social media spying archive left wide open in AWS S3 buckets

Flocke Kroes
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Re: I wonder

You missed tails (warning: clicking the link will put you on a list, but please help make it a big list).

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The Reg parts ways with imagineer and thought pathfinder Steve Bong

Flocke Kroes
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Re: Terrifying

When I first came across amanfromMars I found it difficult to read. After a few posts I could spot the travesty generator's style in the first sentence and move on to the next comment. TheU+1F426Register now has a significant number of commentards producing output less sane than a travesty generator while still passing a Turing test. I can now read amanfromMars straight through without pausing. The most obvious reason for this is I have got used to the style from the plentiful supply of new commentards who exemplify Poe's law. The more scary possibility is that amanfromMars is improving. Perhaps the age of machine learning really has arrived and that the machines are learning from travesty generators.

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DJI bug bounty NDA is 'not signable', say irate infosec researchers

Flocke Kroes
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Generic NDA translated into English

Our product is crap. We know it is fundamentally unfit for use in your project and by our other existing and potential customers. This information must not escape into the wild until after you are thoroughly committed to embedding our product in yours. At that time you and our other customers must each individually develop the same bodge to make your project minimally successful.

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User asked help desk to debug a Post-it Note that survived a reboot

Flocke Kroes
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Re: On switch location

TV: By the plug socket. Microwave: combination of setting the timer and closing the door. Kettle: on the back. Toaster: on the side. Fridge & freezer: by sockets behind the appliances. Cooker & central heating: anonymous switches on the wall to one side.

The most obvious devices with separate power switches are: VCR+TV and DVD player+TV. VCRs date back to late 70's. PCs (DOS) did not reach PHBs until the early 80s, so there was some hope that people could understand a display device and the device that creates the picture can have separate power switches. At the time it was widely believed that adults were too stupid to program a VCR* and they had to ask a five year old child to do it for them. Perhaps it was hoped that five year olds would grow up and dinosaurs would become extinct leading to the happy situation where everyone would have enough brains to program a VCR with a separate power switch to the TV.

*Note to millennials: A VCR is a stone age alternative to BBC iPlayer and youtube. Programming involved reading a magazine to find the channel, start and end times of the required show. People had to get off the sofa, walk to the TV, switch it on, and press a button to select the VCR channel. Next the VCR power state had to be set to on, input select to antenna, output select to TV then the frequency knob had to be twiddled to get to the right channel. At this point, the TV becomes superfluous and can be turned off. Press the eject button and remove the cassette (stone age USB memory stick) and put it away. Refer to your notebook (a device made from multiple sheets of compressed pulped dead trees) and pick a page where the last entry is a for a TV show no-one wants to watch again. Cross out the last entry on the page and write in the name of the show you want to record. Look at the number on the top of the page and select the cassette with the same number written on a sticky label on the back. Insert the cassette into the holder and press the holder back into the VCR. Press the rewind button.

Now things get tricky. Look around for the home's most reliable time source. Probably a battery powered clock. Check the second hand is moving and the time vaguely corresponds to the position of the brightest visible star. Compare this to the time display on the VCR and if necessary set the time selector "Time ADJ" and press the hour and minute buttons so the VCR displays the approximate time. Next select "Timer Set" and press the hour and minute buttons to about five minutes before the advertised start of the required TV show (Stone age technology did not include network time servers so all clocks were off by a few minutes, also broadcasters occasionally started a show a little early to annoy VCR owners). Advanced VCRs had a stop time. If present it had to be set at least half an hour after the scheduled end of the TV show. Failure to do this caused an extended news report that delayed all subsequent programming for the day. Almost there: when the tape has finished rewinding, press "stop", set the power selector to "Timer" and press "Play" and "Record" at the same time (the buttons should lock into place.)

40 years ago, five year olds were able to do all this. The engineers who came up with separate on switches for computer did not anticipate that a decade later the brains of over half of those five year olds would rot down to the level required to elect Amber Rudd.

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The NAKED truth: Why flashing us your nude pics is a good idea – by Facebook's safety boss

Flocke Kroes
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No need categorise submitted image at all

Facebook can collect are large number of hashes and it does not matter what the image is until an image with the same hash is posted. At that time a human or AI must decide if the posted image is revenge p0rn. If a submitted hash regularly catches pictures of the Eiffel Tower then the person who submitted it can get an increased "cries wolf" score.

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Flocke Kroes
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Better yet ...

If you must take a nude selfie, send the hash to facebook not the photograph. Give it a month and I am sure there will be a dozen Android apps to tag your photo collection that promise to send hashes to multiple social media sites and not send the pictures to newdamators.com, honest - really - cross my heart. (It took me three guesses to find a domain name that hadn't been taken.)

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Harry Potter to get the Pokémon GO treatment

Flocke Kroes
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If the occult is a problem ...

Next year's game can be Jesus GO. Exorcise demons to accumulate faith points that you can use to heal your allies or excommunicate your competitors. Go to a church on a Sunday to earn an indulgence. Self flagellate for preemptive absolution or interdict on a school or business. Collect holy water and trade it for indulgences. Bless and forgive your way up the ranks until you are a cardinal who can elect a pope. The Pope gets to issue bulls and sell coronations to new emperors of Rome.

Christianity has a rich mythology and mining it will be so controversial that the game will be advertised for months on every news channel.

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Alexa, please cause the cops to raid my home

Flocke Kroes
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Songs about where Alexa is

I am surprised we do not already have songs with lyrics that include things like "Alexa by a medium $group T-shirt" or "Alexa by a pair of $group concert tickets".

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Flocke Kroes
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Sure journalists aren't prophets

A few years ago a read an article about modern journalism. Apparently when journalists went to an event it was vital to them to get the article out first. The second journalist didn't get any cheese at all. In a race to be first, journalists could be seen hammering out an article before the event started. During the event they waited for something interesting, changed a paragraph to match and dashed out to sell to as many publishers as possible. This did not last. It was replaced by speculation on what the event would be like.

I am very happy for news to be a day or three late if it includes some evidence that the event actually happened. Without that, we will end up with people making stuff up and its opposite then sending links to the most gullible twits on facebook in the hope they will like it and pass the link to their friends.

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Google on flooding the internet with fake news: Leave us alone, we're trying really hard... *sob*

Flocke Kroes
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Re: Lessons from Orlowski

Actually I kept getting pulled out of the narrative because I was repeatedly being offered reasons for mindless hate against Google. Try reading the article again but pretend Google drowned your puppy yesterday. You will keep coming across phrases to confirm the bias I am asking you to hold for this exercise. Next, take the barest possible facts out of the article, imagine your puppy playfully chasing his tail and put the facts back into sentences. The bare facts to not have to confirm the seething fury you had when your puppy was dead. It is a matter of presentation. I am not talking about whether the article is true or false (probably various states in between). What concerns me is the way the article is intended to make me feel. At felt like an attempt to get me to feel common cause with the author and sufficiently angry to suspend critical thinking.

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Flocke Kroes
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Lessons from Orlowski

When I read the title of the article, I thought "Orlowski?". The(vulture)Register does not give the author's name on the front page, but you can check places like this to find out if a click bait head line belongs to an author with more opinions than checked facts. As the article made it past the first bar, I started reading. Just about every paragraph triggered warning signals like "an attempt to make me feel anger" and "an attempt to appeal to confirmation bias".

Google may have 50,000 employees, but the reason why they have $90G anual revenue is many of those 50,000 sell adverts. Presumably a few of them work on Android and a couple more maintain and insanely busy global web server. I have repeatedly come across people who see a whole factory full of employees but cannot get it through their heads that a particular product may have one techy who understands how to change it with perhaps two contractors familiar enough to do something useful at short notice.

I would like Google to do better at spotting fake news but all this article has done is make me wonder if I should bookmark Kieren's page for the same reason I bookmarked Andrew's.

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Lord of the Rings TV show shopped around Hollywood

Flocke Kroes
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Re: So if HBO were to take over....

Bored of the rings starts with a sex scene - an elf tries to bang the ring off Dildo or Frito (can't remember which). If they start with BOTR as the source material they will not need to change so much to make a TV series.

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Europe's one-patent-court-to-rule-them-all rocked by 'Brexit, EPO reforms, German laws'

Flocke Kroes
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How does the government work in Germany?

"With the appropriate political pressure applied, it should pass"

Do they have a bunch of politicians who vote on issues to the benefit of their constituents or a bunch of yes men who rubber stamp decisions made by some other authority?

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OpenSSL patches, Apple bug fixes, Hilton's $700k hack bill, Kim Dotcom raid settlement, Signal desktop app, and more

Flocke Kroes
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Re: Proving you are not a Russian spy

Yes, you are in a no win situation. This is the internet, so perhaps I am a team of IBM lawyers - I certainly cannot prove otherwise. We would need access to server logs and the ability into inject javascript spyware to stand a chance.

Although the possibility of you (and others) being Russian spies crosses my mind, I try to treat you (and others) like humans with different points of view. Doing otherwise quickly causes the thread to degenerate into name calling, and everyone else will think both of us are a pair of obnoxious twits.

If you are not familiar with the list of logical fallacies, I thoroughly recommend a read. You can test you ability to detect them with some old Andrew Orlowski articles (he has improved considerably this year).

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Flocke Kroes
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Re: What about Isreal

One reason Palpy may be wondering if you are a Russian is that whataboutism is one of Putin's preferred tools. Palpy has provided a handy list of evidence pointing at Russia using false flag sock puppets to influence US political discussion. Perhaps you could provide equivalent evidence for Israel doing the same thing? I am sure Israel attempts to influence US policy, along with Vanuatu and the Operative Plasterers' and Cement Masons' International Association. So far none of those three have been caught using Twitter, Facebook and Youtube to sow discord on anything like the scale that Russia has (unless the Great Firewall of May strongly targets Vanuatuan plasterers).

I have no idea if you are a Russian shill, but using Wikipedia's list of fallacies as an instruction manual does cause suspicion.

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Flocke Kroes
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Re: I wonder what the Trump apologists' excuse will be this time?

"can we stop trying to blame the Russians for fixing the election?"

Everybody and his platypus tried to influence the US elections. The Russians got caught trying to do it anonymously.

Putin hated Hillary enough to make ending her career in politics an end in itself. There will be stories about the Russians influencing the US elections every month until the Trump apologists stop trying to divert attention elsewhere (so at least three more years). Get used to it.

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Those IT gadget freebies you picked up this year? They make AWFUL Christmas presents

Flocke Kroes
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Re: Evil green liquid

Regrettably you are unlikely to see the green fairy. There is no evidence that the active ingredient (thujone from wormwood oil) has any hallucinogenic effect despite it structural similarity to THC. Perhaps absence of evidence is not essence of absinthe.

Absinthe was traditionally diluted to about 1 part in 4 of cold water. That could explain the bad taste, but so would an "absinthe" kit (vodka, wormwood oil and a risk of kidney damage).

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SCO vs. IBM case over who owns Linux comes back to life. Again

Flocke Kroes
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Re: s/SCO/TSG/g

IIRC it wasn't SCO at all. There was "The Santa Cruz Operation" that was frequently called SCO. For most of the active part of the litigation, the plaintive was TSG (The SCO Group) who fooled others into referring to them as SCO. The Santa Cruz Operation got renamed to Tarantella to avoid making the deception too obvious.

The good news is this has nothing to do with the vast majority of Linux/Android users. TSG's barely surviving complaint is violation of tort. If you never entered into an agreement with TSG then they have nothing on you.

There was a complaint about IBM contributing to Linux. It failed for pretty much every possible reason. According to TSG, when IBM added code to AIX that made the code a part of System V and therefore TSG's property and so couldn't be contributed to Linux without TSG's permission. Adding code to AIX does not make it a part of System V which belonged to Novell (later acquired by Attachmate). IBM created design documents for new features. Those design documents were used by different teams of programmers to implement the features in AIX and Linux, so AIX code was not contributed to Linux.

TSG filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy. What they got instead was a court appointed trustee who did a thorough job of converting TSG's (and Novell's) asserts into legal advice from his law firm. Something to do with System V was sold. I think the victim purchaser believed he had bought System V, which the trustee never had. TSG used to have the right to collect license fees for System V on behalf of Novell, give all the money to Novell and Novell would give back 5%. Long before the bankruptcy, TSG treated Novell's money as their own and there was no mention of the trustee sorting this out. The purchaser could have bought the right to collect license fees, but TSG could not transfer that right without Novell's permission.

Last I heard, TSG retained the litigation - and there is some value to it. David Boies of Boies Schiller and Flexner agreed his law partnership would do the legal work (including appeals all the way to the high court) for a percentage of the settlement. The obvious thing for the trustee to do is to keep sending BS&F to court until BS&F buy their way out. Clearly the Trustee and BS&F have not agreed on a figure yet.

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Micron gets edgy with 256GB surveillance SD card reveal in China

Flocke Kroes
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Re: So all I need is to destroy the camera and no more footage?

The police use a crow bar. Now for the tricky question - if you miss one camera, can you get its evidence removed from the record because you had an expectation of privacy?

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NASA reveals Curiosity 2020's 23-camera payload

Flocke Kroes
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When will the name change?

Curiosity 2021, ... Curiosity 202X ...

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Car insurers recoil in horror from paying auto autos' speeding fines

Flocke Kroes
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Daft idea

Have you looked at our government this century? Not just the party/coalition with the majority - I mean the whole lot of them. Do you really want these people drafting legislation?

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Manafort, Stone, Trump, Papadopoulos, Kushner, Mueller, Russia: All the tech angles in one place

Flocke Kroes
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Re: Who to blame

Trump promised to appoint a special prosecutor to find Hillary Clinton guilty. He has been in office for most of a year but has not delivered on that promise. Why? Is he part of the world spanning conspiracy that fails to bring charges against Hillary. Republicans have summoned Hillary to multiple hearings. Are none of them aggersive enough to find her guilty of anything?

Perhaps all the aggersive prosecutors were fired for investigating gwb43.com.

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Flocke Kroes
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Re: Who hired Manafort?

Manafort was the campaign manager but was not paid by Trump or the Trump campaign. I cannot imagine him contributing his time out of the kindness of his heart, so who was he working for?

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Flocke Kroes
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Re: Swamp creatures

As I recall, Trump was hated by the vast majority of Republican senators and congressmen. The hatred was consistent until Trump was close to getting nominated. After the nomination, the party convinced most of their politicians to stop hating Trump in public. A few held out almost until the election results.

Trump had difficulty finding his vice president. No-one with a future in politics wanted to stand next to him. Everyone who Trump invited failed a background check. Eventually Trump's final final first choice was announced by Mike Pence. Mike was on target to lose his re-election as governor of Indiana, and the GOP were keen for him to step aside because they could easily find a replacement who could win. After the announcement Trump phoned his friends looking for some way to circumvent Mike's acceptance, but there was not a single viable candidate available. In the morning, Trump kept a press conference waiting (to the sound of "You can't always get what you want"), rambled incoherently Trump style about Hillary, Obama and terrorism, then read the prepared section on Pence's introduction like he would rather be chewing burned tyres and stalked off.

Now for the strange bit. There is something we agree on! I would happily refer to all Republican politicians as swamp creatures, and here you are with a similar opinion of some of them. Please could you provide a list of senators and congressmen who have consistently supported Trump? It would be helpful to the leftist propaganda victims to be able to understand which are true Republicans, and which are genuinely swamp creatures.

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USB stick found in West London contained Heathrow security data

Flocke Kroes
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Library computers can be handy ...

... for examining suspicious USB sticks. Apparently the finder in today's story spoke to journalists. Either this is a very brave man or someone with appalling opsec. I would go with the traditional written statement made from words cut from a newspaper - probably quicker than putting together a disguise and sufficient false ID to get access to a library far from home. Right at the top of the list of things not to do is to use your own printer.

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Assange™ says Trump's voter-targeting firm asked WikiLeaks for something

Flocke Kroes
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Re: Sigh

Did Craig Murray mention the weight of the leaker? A vague estimate will do. What we really need to know is if the accused is over or under 181kg.

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Flocke Kroes
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Re: Chain drive

I had always assumed Putin and Mercer were working independently, but with similar methods.

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Fake-news-monetizing machine Facebook lectures hacks on how not to write fake news that made it millions

Flocke Kroes
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Repackaging

They started with a fake news instruction manual, put "Don't" at the start of each sentence and called it a restriction list. Fake news makers will be using the result as a check list to ensure maximum profit. Why did they miss out: "Don't invent news to match the target audience's bias"?

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Red (Planet) alert: Future astro-heroes face shocking adventures on Martian moon Phobos

Flocke Kroes
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What happened last time?

Apollo astronauts went to moon in daylight, but shadowed areas of the moon could build up an electrostatic charge.

Is ESD on Phobos more dangerous than Earth? Careless humans can easily zap chips with an 8kV discharge on a hot dry day.

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SpaceX gives free ride to replacement for Facebook's fried satellite

Flocke Kroes
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Re: Bottom of the class

It has been perfectly acceptable to blatantly split infinitives for ages. It will do you no good to plaintively whine. People will continue to repeatedly use them just to gently wind you up.

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Flocke Kroes
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Re: Foresight

The explosion happened while loading propellants before the static test fire before launch. As no intentional ignition had been triggered the bill for replacing the payload landed on Israel Aerospace Industries' insurer. AFAIK the exact details of the contract between Spacecom and SpaceX have not been released. Both lost plenty, and presumably each had some kind of insurance but apparently not enough to cover everything that burned on SLC40.

(The next launch is on the 30th. Falcon heavy demo has been delayed from "November" until "late 2017". The rocket is ready, but launch pad 39a isn't in part because it has been needed for launches while SLC40 gets repaired.)

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Raspberry Pi burning up? Microsoft's recipe can save it and AI

Flocke Kroes
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Re: Cooling

Here is the liquid nitrogen.

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Flocke Kroes
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Re: Microsoft's compute intensive AI task

Security reports: Just clocked /dev/null at 3GB/s on a Pi3.

Loss of revenue: Last time I checked, Windows Phone OS had a license fee of $0, but Microsoft is still in the mobile business. They get more revenue patent trolling Android than the wasted on Windows Phone.

Market segment: Depends ... based on revenue Microsoft has some outstanding successes. Based on customer satisfaction they have some craptacular failures. How about:

[ 0 == $(($RANDOM%2)) ] && echo Copy Apple || echo Copy Google

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Linux kernel community tries to castrate GPL copyright troll

Flocke Kroes
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You caught one key point ...

The law allows Mr McHardy to stop people using the entire Linux kernel (and user space code that is not conveniently portable to something else) until he says otherwise. The payouts are on that scale. If he was collecting on a par with his contribution, or he was splitting 99.75% of the profit with other contributors it would not be so bad, but there is more to it than that.

The vast majority of people who contribute to GPL projects do so with a deal like "I contribute a little, and I get back everything in return". For them, the purpose of enforcing GPL compliance to ensure everyone gets everything rather than some distributors profit from everything by keeping their small part secret. There are already organisations, (Like the Software Freedom Conservancy) that contact distributors who do not honour the GPL. SFC's massively preferred solution is for infringers to start (and continue to) make the source code available for the GPL software ex-infringers distribute.

Imagine instead of one McHardy there are a dozen, or a hundred each charging 100% for their 0.25%. The Linux kernel (and a ton of user space tools) becomes a much more risky proposition. Infringers have been complaining to groups like SFC for McHardy's action for years. They stop infringing, but they still have to pay off McHardy. The ex-infringers blame GPL enforcement organisations for McHardy despite McHardy refusing to even talk with them. Apologising for McHardy's existence has become a significant drain on resources.

If Mr McHardy behaved like this with his own project, that would be fine. His actions are poisoning the work of hundreds of thousands of others. It is hardly surprising that those others are taking steps to limit the damage. Decide for yourself what is surprising here: that there is only one McHardy or that everyone else has been so patient with him.

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Google adds planets and moons to Maps, but puts bits in the wrong places

Flocke Kroes
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Cannot be a mirror image problem.

Mirrors require gravity to work. They swap left and right, but not up and down. Without gravity, how would they know which was which?

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Australian senator Pauline Hanson wants devilish scam calls to flash '666'

Flocke Kroes
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Re: I propose another use for 666.

Telecom companies get revenue for connecting spam callers that (so far) exceeds any fine that might land on them, hence the excuses and tantrums any time there is pressure on them to do something useful.

Someone also needs to explain to Pauline Hanson that scam calls are not be convincing by design. Scammers require gullible idiots (preferably with Dunning-Kruger syndrome). The calls include blatant warning of the impending scam so scammers do not waste time on people who will catch on before giving their user name and password for on-line banking. The solution is to teach critical thinking in schools. Lie to children and reward the ones who catch the teachers out when they lie. The down side is that politicians with Dunning-Kruger syndrome would have a hard time getting elected.

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Neutron stars shower gold on universe in big bang, felt on Earth as 100-second grav wave

Flocke Kroes
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Re: Neutrons → Protons

The weird bit is not neutrons becoming protons, but why neutrons exist at all. Neutrons have more mass than protons and left to themselves decay to a proton, an electron and a neutrino. The half life of a lone neutron is about 15 minutes, so without some mechanism to keep them around they should all have gone before the universe was a week old.

The first excuse for neutrons comes from two places. Protons repel each other with the electromagnetic force and attract each other with the strong force. Neutrons are not affected by electromagnetism but are attracted to protons and neutrons (nucleons) by the strong force. Move two protons close to each other and the combined mass of the pair increases because of electromagnetism and decreases because of the strong force. The strong force is effectively zero at long distances but becomes stronger than electromagnetism at very close range. When the protons are close enough together the part of the mass that comes from electromagnetism is bigger than difference in mass between a proton and a neutron. One proton decays into a neutron, a positron and a neutrino. The positron and the neutrino wander off leaving a proton and a neutron bound together. The neutron cannot decay to a proton because the extra mass the new proton would need to be so close to the other proton is bigger than the difference in mass between a neutron and a proton. (The difference in mass between particles far apart and particles close together is called the binding energy).

There is a bit of quantum weirdness (called degeneracy pressure) that also makes neutrons stable in the nucleus of an atom: No two bound particles of the same type can have identical quantum numbers. The cheap way to get different sets of quantum numbers is to change the spin of one particle. As there are only two possible spins getting more than two protons or two neutrons in the same nucleus requires extra mass (reduced binding energy). That mass can be from nucleons being further from the middle of the nucleus or moving faster (in real life it is a bit of both).

Really big atoms cannot exist because keeping all the quantum numbers different takes nucleons beyond the range of the strong force. To hold a big atom together we need a long range attractive force. Crush the mass of two suns into the space of a city and there is enough gravitation binding energy hold neutrons together despite degeneracy pressure. Neutron stars are our second excuse for neutrons. The neutrons in a neutron star cannot decay into protons because they would be too close to the few remaining protons (the increase in binding energy from reduced degeneracy pressure would be less than the decrease in binding energy from electromagnetic repulsion).

For our next experiment, we need two neutron stars in orbit around each other. The pair lose energy by emitting gravitation waves. That energy comes from gravity as as the neutron stars get closer together. Conservation of angular momentum requires the neutron stars to orbit each other faster, which increases centrifugal force [The first person to say "there is no such thing as centrifugal force" has to name the direction of the force that a test tube exerts on a centrifuge]. Centrifugal force on the outside of the neutron stars counter act gravity until blobs of the neutron stars are thrown out. Once these blobs get away from the intense gravity they have no excuse to exist and start to decay into protons. The electromagnetic repulsion of the protons breaks the blobs into atoms - big ones like gold and uranium.

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