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* Posts by Alan Brown

8823 posts • joined 8 Feb 2008

Intel didn't tell CERTS, govs, about Meltdown and Spectre because they couldn't help fix it

Alan Brown
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Re: Nothing to do with .GOV assistance..

"The Intel services would rub their hands in Glee, and force Chipzilla to sit on this for as long as possible."

They probably _did_ rub their hands with glee.

Forcing Intel to sit on it would have lead to leaks. It was better to say nothing and let them be ignorant of the hole they'd created.

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Batteries are so heavy, said user. If I take it out, will this thing work?

Alan Brown
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"After testing the battery there is a at least one dead cell in it."

Quality British Customer Service.....

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Alan Brown
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Re: Two stories:

Doesn't matter. If you're up to your chest in water, either will kill you just as well.

For that matter so will 12V - the importance of voltage is mostly about breaking down dry skin resistance and it's the current that does the real work. (volts jolts, mills kills)

(For the pedants, the difference is that DC causes muscles to tense and stay tensed whilst AC pulses them a little. The reality is that it makes bugger all difference above 25Hz)

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Alan Brown
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Re: Two stories:

"Had she put batteries in? Yes - she said. Opened it up. Two new AA batteries - nose to nose."

In my very early days of being a service tech I lost count of the number of pieces of battery powered kit that came in with problems that were solved by changing the batteries - because the user had put in less than a full set when changing them.

1-2 flat and several new ones (or several unknown mixed brand ones from the back of the drawer) doesn't work in an early-80s generic walkman or boombox - and a battery tester needs to have a good-sized load resistor in it - measuring open circuit voltage isn't enough, nor is the lick test.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Hmmm

"So he laughed and said to hand them over but she looked blank and repeated they were in the trash"

I worked in a radio station. Our line for new staff 'Those rechargable and reusable battery packs are $300 each. You signed them out, you're responsible for them. If you don't return them then they're charged to you.' (or whatever they took out) Sometimes things simply went missing without being signed out, but the simple solution was not to replace it until someone 'fessed up or it reappeared and the appearance of a (dummy) cctv camera over the doorway of the equipment store solved that for the most part.

Being a US station, yes, they can charge staff for things like that, but scare them like that when they take them out and you'll never have equipment lost unless it's an emergency. Journalists are amongst the most contemptuous users of 'not my stuff'

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Alan Brown
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Re: Its powered by magic fairies and gnomes

"The cleaning staff also worked for the company and had a clearance level almost as high as the techs."

They were still known to unplug random equipment in order to get power for the vacuum cleaners.

Clearance != training

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SpaceX's internet satellites to beam down 'Hello world' from orbit

Alan Brown
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Re: Whining about Elon

"If he says he can do it, then he's already thought it through and knows that he can."

Yup.

Note the differences between when he's talking about stuff he hasn't nailed down and stuff that he has. He doesn't take bets unless he already knows he's got the kit on hand to win them (vs having done it in the lab and not in the real world).

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Alan Brown
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Re: Parachutes

I assumed when I read this that SpaceX was using a parafoil due to their steerability. (This is the same reason that Dyna-Soar plans in the late 1950s proposed using Rogallo airfoils and these were considered for the Mercury/Gemini/Apollo capsules before water landings were decided on.)

One of the more interesting properties of a payload fairing is that it's a natural lifting body, which means that even if initially tumbling they're going to naturally align themselves for stable reentry as long as the centre of pressure and centre of mass are arranged appropriately. I wonder how much penalty there would be in adding control surfaces.

IIRC the one that washed up on the Isles of Scilly showed no sign of burn damage, so they must be light enough that deceleration energy is very low.

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Alan Brown
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Re: One wonders ...

"since the satellites are moving there will be a need for a lot of updates or some other form of management"

There are already best-path routing algorithms in existence which converge in sub-millisecond periods. (eg OSPF and TRILL). This is a fairly solvable problem given enough computing horsepower in orbit.

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Alan Brown
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Re: One wonders ...

It's an interesting question.

Back in the bad old days of having to use geostationary birds for international internet, "awful" was a pretty good summary.

This should be much less (2-500 miles vs 34,000 miles) BUT there are a lot more hops to traverse and the second can pretty quickly overwhelm the first.

This is the kind of solution where a low level constellation uses a midlevel constellation that actually talks to the ground. The problem with relying on ground stations within sight of the low level birds is that in a lot of cases they're going to be over countries where the "awful connectivity" is by design rather than by topography.

China in particular isn't going to take kindly to the Great Firewall being backdoored in this manner.

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Hot NAND: Samsung wheels out 30TB SSD monster

Alan Brown
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Re: Where to buy? No price!

"but it's going to cost you an arm a leg"

That's actually around 1/3 the price of the SM863 2TB drives I bought a while back.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Backup

"What, you're going to back up to tape? Really? "

Yes.

I may not _ever_ have to use it, but if shit and fan ever mix, I want to be able to do so, and do so for any point in the last 1-8 years.

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Yorkshire cops have begun using on-the-spot fingerprint scanners

Alan Brown
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Re: The usual suspects complaining

"A rapist has just been convicted based on his stored DNA."

And a _much_ larger number of convicted people have been exonerated based on DNA

As I said previously. DNA (and fingerprints) is a fantastic tool for _eliminating_ suspects.

When it comes to matching, you're in a different ballgame and you need to be a hell of a lot more careful.

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US docs show Daimler may have done a Dieselgate – German press claims

Alan Brown
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Re: Neither

"1792 road deaths in 2016"

How many are down to foreign/unlicensed drivers?

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Alan Brown
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"Essentially, the Bosch people programmed the cheating version and gave a copy to VW"

It's a test mode and it's an _essential_ part of the system for development and diagnostic purposes.

As I understand it, when Bosch found out about what was happening it complained pretty loudly to VW and attempted to tip off the regulators.

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Alan Brown
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"And a similar amount die due to people who should not be driving on the roads so why not ban cars altogether?"

In the USA perhaps. In the UK the figure attributeable to this is down in the low hundreds.

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Alan Brown
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"It's been reported elseware that 50,000 people in the UK die every year due to cars that shouldn't have passed emissions tests emitting illegal levels of pollution"

It's all relative.

NOX emissions are only a problem in heavily built up areas and in places like the immediate vicinity of the M25 (go 100 metres either side and the levels are fine). The penalty for reducing NOX is increasing CO2/poor mileage.

ECU processing power is thousands of times higher than it was 15 years ago and NOX sensors are 1/100 the cost they were a decade ago. It's perfectly possible to make a car system which sniffs the intake air and switches to low emissions mode when local conditions are getting bad.

That said, around HALF of the NOX emissions in UK cities are from stationary sources, with almost all of that being boilers and almost all of those boilers being pre-1990s installations. There are residential streets in London where NOX levels can be 100 times the legal limit without an operating car in sight, thanks to a couple of these installations. They also tend to be extremely heavy CO emitters.

This is despite the emissions cheating on Euro5/6 vehicles. If car makers had been honest, then boilers would probably be 2/3 to 3/4 of the emissions by now (which demonstrates the laws of diminishing returns quite well - all the fuss about dieselgate and 40-60,000 of the heaviest emitters carry on with no attention paid whatesoever)

Boiler NOX emissions have been regulated since about 2004 but old installations are grandfathered for 20 years. Attempts to persuade owners of these boilers to upgrade (including offering to pay for the work) have been fruitless. It's not a case of them not affording to do it, they actively don't WANT to do it and they're likely to spend significant amounts of money resisting legistlative attempts to force them to change when the grandfathering runs out int he mid 2020s.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Over the Air...

"Actual GPS co-ordinates of all the MOT centres would need to be used instead."

Ford got caught doing that in the 00's

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Alan Brown
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Re: "...any visible smoke..."

Using veg oil (or a blend) reduces NOX and smoke dramatically, but the heavier oil gives startup difficulties. The bigger problems for busses and suchlike is the highly variable loadings and a decent hybrid drivetrain (NOT Boris busses) might go a long way towards solving that. (the existing ones are a bit of a faff, or constantly breaking - or both - quality british designs and all that.)

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Alan Brown
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Re: "...any visible smoke..."

" belching great columns of black soot."

The black columns of soot aren't actually as much of a problem as you may think. Those are heavy particles which don't get deep into lungs and don't stay in the air very long.

The dangerous stuff is invisible and emitted by cars too - and cars running lean emit shitloads of NOX - it's one of the reasons the USA legislated stociometric fuel mixtures (they could have regulated tailpipe emissions and let makers solve the issue however they wanted but regulating fuel ratios meant cheap 3-way catalysts and meant that a lot of japanese R&D into high-milage/low NOX had to be thrown out. Advantage Detroit - and that's why VTEC and friends went away.)

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KFC: Enemy of waistlines, AI, arteries and logistics software

Alan Brown
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Rearranging anything to be misinterpreted as a hexagonal red sign on an intersection (or not as such) takes some doing. What's inside that hexagonal sign isn't as important as the shape and colour.

Ditto an upside down triangle on an intersection. (yield/give way)

The lines on the road give an important secondary clue,

At least some of these attacks are bring over/under thought and OCR is for hoomuns more than machines.

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Opportunity knocked? Rover survives Martian winter, may not survive budget cuts

Alan Brown
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Re: Got money to build a wall and reduce corp mates tax bills

"Getting out of bed most days is a bad move by Trump."

Failing to, would be an even worse move. The backup plan is Mike Pence.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Bluechip Gofundme...

"Google, to get a head start on Mars Street View"

To have street view you need streets - and if you have streets, you'll get potholes and if you have potholes you'll lose the rover down one.

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Alan Brown
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"By using an RTG instead of solar panels"

Solved in several ways - you KNOW when it will run out of power and can budget for a hard stop accordingly.

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Alan Brown
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Re: 2 years Opportunity = Trump's new gin cabinet

"so instead he spent his weekend watching TV and angry tweeting"

Given the choice between that and golf, I suspect they now wish they'd let him golf.

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Kentucky gov: Violent video games, not guns, to blame for Florida school massacre

Alan Brown
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Re: What a load of Trump...

"The US has a deeper cultural problem that needs to be cured."

It can be summed up as toddler rage.

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Farts away! Plane makes unscheduled stop after man won't stop guffing

Alan Brown
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"Internal pressurisation and bloating and the relief thereof - voluntarily or otherwise - seems a not unexpected result."

Drinking a milkshake an hour before the flight is not recommended. Especially on an unpressurised flight.

Personal experience.

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Developer recovered deleted data with his face – his Poker face

Alan Brown
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Re: Poker face fail

> Accompanied by a screamed "I lost all of my day's work!"

I was told the story of an electrician who popped a circuit breaker in a university department to change some wiring in a few offices only to hear some screaming from along the hallway and see an academic run into the hall screaming "my work, my work!". It turned out that he was working off floppy and hadn't saved back to disk for several _years_ due to the reliability of the power.

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UK.gov: Psst. Belgium. Buy these Typhoon fighter jets from us, will you?

Alan Brown
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Re: Maxi

"MG 6 ....sells in tiny numbers in the UK."

Sold. Past tense. It was discontinued in 2016.

That probably has a lot to do with memories of the absolute shit coming out of Longbridge for many years and would probably have sold better without the MG badge on it.

(WRT the Maxi: there's another name for them: "The Austin Landcrab", due to their tendency to drive like one)

China needs to learn that buying up and using "prestige european brands" is frequently counterproductive when you're actually turning out a better product.

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Alan Brown
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Re: @ wolfetone

"As long as radar technology stays put which is not the case, and as long as every one of its anti reflecting tiles is carefully examined and replaced "

And as long as the avionics doesn't overheat. Opening the doors to cool things off negates the stealth.

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Alan Brown
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Re: f-35 - air inferiority fighter-bomber

It's very good at its mission.

The thing is the mission is spending lots of money and making lots of profit for the people who make it and sell spare parts for it, not to fight wars.

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Helicopter crashes after manoeuvres to 'avoid... DJI Phantom drone'

Alan Brown
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Re: It's time...

"The number of drone incidents involving Heathrow planes nearly quadrupled from seven in 2015 to 26 last year (Note: The article date means this refers to 2016!), according to reports by the UK Airprox Board."

Now go back and compare with the number of bird reports over the same period.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Pink Unicorn?

Fact: UFO reports are down by pilots.

So are bird reports.

In fact at Heathrow (along with most other airports) there's a near linear relationship between the decrease in bird sightings and the increase in drone sightings.

Never mind that the airspace around airports is heavily surveilled and anything with weather radar looking for microbursts is going to see drones lit up like christmas trees thanks to both their metal content and the doppler effects of the rotors.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Pink Unicorn?

"If a DJI Phantom hits a rotor blade and leaves any sort of damage, that requires a new and very expensive rotor blade."

Which is _STILL_ cheaper than having to replace the rotor, gearboxes, tail, landing gear and crush seats after a rollover crash and you'll have evidence that it was actually a drone and not a plastic shopping bag caught in a wind gust.

I mention that specifically because of the case at Heathrow of a "dronestrike" which turned out to be exactly that - a plastic shopping bag which was still wrapped over the nose on inspection

Instructors aren't million-hour gods. In the case of light aircraft and helicoptors they're usually people with a few hundred hours under their belts working up to a commercial seat and when I was learning I had a couple allow me to make quite boneheaded procedural errors without them noticing it (busting height limits against an incoming civil transport and not squawking in military airspace. Minor, but should have been picked up on in the checklists.)

A quadcoptor drone flown into a helicoptor (even a R22) will be tossed into the ground _hard_ by the downwash if it gets that close - the outwash donut from the rotor disc in ground effect will probably flip it long before it gets near.

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Transport for London to toughen up on taxi firms in the Uber age

Alan Brown
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Re: It's all about control

"If the hire company gets a complaint from a passenger, they are supposed to track that sort of thing and discipline employees"

Unlike Minicabs - which _must_ be centrally booked and dispatched, the vast majority of black cabs are owner-operators or self-employed in a hire taxi with no tracking of who was taking what fare where.

So, when someone complains about anything committed by a black cabbie, unless they have the taxi number AND the driver's ID, they're essentially untraceable.

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Alan Brown
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Re: It's all about control

"Despite Black Cab drivers having their number on display, they are very anonymous."

That's why they seem to think they can get away with nearly anything - in general they do unless there's an inspector about. Not only are those few and far between but the cabbies rapidly inform each other when they're about instead of letting the bad cabbies get caught. (Hint, you only need to be afraid of a taxi licensing inspector hailing a ride if you have something to hide.)

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Alan Brown
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"drivers that have criminal records"

You mean people like John Worboys?

https://www.channel4.com/news/factcheck/factcheck-are-black-cabs-safer-than-ubers

Black Cabs are one of the last City of London Guilds with arcane entry conditions which exert control over a much larger extent of Greater London than they should. TFL would do itself a tremendous favour if it restricted them to the square mile.

In any case in the longer term autonomous vehicles are the disruptive factor that noone seems to want to talk about with the potential to replace _both_ busses and taxis with 6-8 seater vehicles that are flexible enough to handle peak and offpeak requirements (the ability to peform entraining for peaks with pods breaking out for individual stops is a game changer)

I'd have more respect for black cabbies if they weren't generally assholes to other road users AND customers. If they want to keep their privileges then they need to do a better job of self-policing and removing drivers who don't conform to licensing conditions (especially refusing fares for invalid reasons) and don't drive safely. Passing the "knowledge" seems to be regarded as a substitute for a number of other essential skills.

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Astro-boffinry world rocked to its very core: Shock as Andromeda found to be not much bigger than Milky Way

Alan Brown
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Re: dodgy maths?

"Do people still use British trillions?"

I hear Zaphod Beeblebrox does.

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Alan Brown
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Re: What a waste of time and money

Modified monkey brains

Which are modified insect eater mammilan brains

riding on reptile brains.

riding on fish brains.

And we're all riding on a large rock hurtling through the universe in in the general direction of the Great Attractor.

What that is, nobody knows. If we name it, do the stars start going out, silently, one by one?

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Alan Brown
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Re: If the mass is 800 vs 700...

"The black hole left after the collapse of a giant star is so much smaller than the original star that the escape velocity increases from a few hundred kilometres per second to the speed of light. Less dense objects have a lower escape velocity than dense objects of the same mass."

Wrong on a number of levels.

Firstly, only a small amount of the mass of the original star actually forms the black hole. The rest blows off into space.

Which means that anything orbiting will see its escape velocity _at that orbit_ decrease dramatically.

But if you setup shop in orbit close to the event horizon, then yes your escape velocity will be high. That orbit will be well inside the diameter of the original star. (gravity follows the inverse square law of distance)

Fun quiz for the day: If you were to go straight up from earth to the distance of the moon's orbit, then you'll experience a gravitational pull from the earth of about 1/3 G - and start coming straight down again as soon as you stop counteracting that pull and lose any outward momentum you had. It's a long way to fall. At times like this, how long will you have to consider all those things your mother told you before you discover if the ground will be friendly?

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Alan Brown
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Re: 4 billion years...

"the Earth is predicted to lose its oceans in a billion years or so. "

It will become too hot for life in about 500 million years. We'll be long-gone by then. In one way or another.

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Alan Brown
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Re: @jake -- Films / TV-shows ever dramatize the collision of galaxies?

"It's a real eye opener as to the laws of physics with regard to automobiles."

There's a standard joke that most automobiles understand the laws of physics far better than the monkeys driving them.

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Alan Brown
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Not today anyway.

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If this laptop is so portable, where's the keyboard, huh? HUH?

Alan Brown
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"My GP was the one who agitated for the health trust to use Linux"

My GP and I discuss the security aspects of smart card logins, the relative merits of various keyboard types and how cheap ones can make your hands hurt like hell due to the lack of cushioning at the end of keyboard travel (the relevance of this being that the NHS was supplying the cheapest possible keyboards for a while and staff were suffering joint problems)

We even arranged shootouts of a bunch of models so that people could feel the differences. It killed the "A keyboard is a keyboard is a keyboard" arguments. (No, you don't need to spend £200, but a £14 Cherry G80 keyboard is far more comfortable and has a longer service life than a £3 Logitech one.)

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Former ICE top lawyer raided US govt database to steal aliens' identities

Alan Brown
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Re: @Doctor Syntax

"In the end he got one thing right and became an honest lawyer - by pleading guilty to his criminal behaviour."

This is the USA we're talking about. It was plea-bargained and negotiated _down_ to 7 counts of ID theft from whatever they could have reasonably stomped all over him with in court, plus whatever else they were threatening to throw and see what stuck.

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Alan Brown
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power attracts the corruptible.

And in the case of US law enforcement, it's not just "one bad actor". There's a systemic problem.

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Mobile phone dealer boss faces 12 years in director limbo

Alan Brown
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"starts off saying only a small amount owing but then 'vast' amounts involved in a VAT carousel fraud. So which is it?"

Quite possibly both.

VATman shut him down for tax arrears, and then the administrators turned up the fraud.

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Alan Brown
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"He is not personally liable for the debt."

As a shareholder, perhaps not.

As a DIRECTOR, deliberately engaging in criminal activity, _yes_, he is.

Limited liability only shields the shareholders and only if they don't know what's going on.

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Microsoft's Windows 10 Workstation adds killer feature: No Candy Crush

Alan Brown
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Re: A thought.

"I'm guessing that only a few businesses running open source use 1,000-CPU desktops."

...Yet.

The size and power consumption of ARMs means that stuffing fifty to one hundred plus a suitable GPU in a SOC the size of an existing intel socket and a 70W TDP should make sense for most use cases.

Interestingly I'm seeing grumbles that ARM's licensing fees are too high. Perhaps MIPS time has come.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Consumer refers to who's paying

"It's patently obvious that Microsoft actually wants everyone on 10"

As long as they're on 7 or higher to start with. I have a bunch of older kit and they won't accept those serial numbers.

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