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* Posts by Francis Boyle

2050 posts • joined 29 Jul 2007

Postmates plans rollout of autonomous delivery robots in US

Francis Boyle Silver badge

Almost certainly

too slow for food delivery. Might be useful for sending things around relatively uncrowded campuses but anywhere else they're likely to be kicked to the kerb, literally.

Virgin Galactic test flight reaches space for the first time, lugging NASA cargo in place of tourists

Francis Boyle Silver badge

Re: "Superficial Marketing Tosh" Virgin is hardly a pathfinder

" it's merely an expensive carnival ride"

Exactly. If Richard Trevithick == 1950/60s NASA, Virgin Galactic == whoever built the first roller coaster.

Official: Voyager 2 is now an interstellar spacecraft

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Re: Oort what

Same as being under the influence of alcohol. You travel around in ever decreasing circles and every so often something happens to cause a spectacular ejection of matter.

Peak tech! Bacon vending machine signals apex of human invention

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Try the spam, bacon, bacon, bacon and spam

that's not got much spam in it.

Waymo's revolutionary driverless robo-taxi service launches in America... with drivers

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He just didn't want to be seen to be gloating.

FYI: NASA has sent a snatch-and-grab spacecraft to an asteroid to seize some rock and send it back to Earth

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Nicholas Cage can only be explained by dark magic.

European fibre lobby calls for end to fake fibre broadband ads

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Re: Meat

What's the problem? They're nuggets which contain a large proportion of vegetables. Since 'nugget' (in this sense) by default describes a meat product you should expect meat unless the name includes words like 'vegetarian' or 'non-meat'. I'm not a vegetarian but my sister is a vegan and I can assure you she checks things like this.

It's nearly 2019, and your network can get pwned through an oscilloscope

Francis Boyle Silver badge

Is it company letterhead

and has he put his signature at the bottom?

Boeing 737 pilots battled confused safety system that plunged aircraft to their deaths – black box

Francis Boyle Silver badge

Re: If a plane can do this, what happens to cars?

It is still claimed that we will soon have fully automatic driverless cars. These will be operating in a vastly more complicated environment, with far less time to sort out problems. And there will be far more of them. What are the chances that nothing like this will happen?

I can absolutely guarantee that something like this will happen with driverless cars just as I can guarantee that until we get drivers cars people will continue to die on the roads at a rate of over one million per year. To bring this post back on topic imagine the outcry if the airline industry killed a million people each year.

What a meth: Woman held for 3 months after cops mistake candy floss for hard drugs

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Re: Get rich quick?

$1,000,000 should be enough for a nice house in a different county (or preferably a different state). Hell, if it were up to me she'd get enough to move her whole family to the otherside of the country.

Francis Boyle Silver badge


I see the same point has been made multiple times before. And it was "in the floor board" whatever that means.

Francis Boyle Silver badge

Re: What?

"beneath the vehicle's floor" = under the floor covering (possibly even under an accessory mat). Easy place for a discarded bag containing practically nothing to end up.

CubeSat buddies, like those sent to track Mars InSight landing, can be used in future missions

Francis Boyle Silver badge


these "cube"sats are in fact rectangular I wouldn't be surprised to discover that softball is in fact wombat poo shaped.

Forget DeepFakes. This robo-Rembrandt with AI for brains is not bad at knocking off paintings

Francis Boyle Silver badge

I have zero problems

with a system that can reproduce paintings in 3D. Paintings are three dimensional objects and a photograph rarely does them justice. But how about some examples of how it deals with well known paintings rather than some (presumably) carefully selected input.

NASA has Mars InSight as latest lander due to arrive today

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Re: Information

And while there at it, how about UTC?

Talk in Trump's tweets tells whether tale is true: Code can mostly spot Prez lies from wording

Francis Boyle Silver badge

Not necessarily

Trump is the bullshitter supreme, but sometimes he'll just be regurgitating boring facts. Against that background the bullshitting is easy to spot, but only for us, not for him. I've known people like Trump and they really do believe that the story they've just concocted out of whole cloth is true simply because it feels true to them.

Big data at sea: How the Royal Navy charts the world's oceans

Francis Boyle Silver badge

I knew that

What surprised me is that the responsibility hadn't long since been handed over to a civilian agency. But then I've also never understood the point of the United States Army Corps of Engineers.

Big Falcon Namechange for Musk's rocket: BFR becomes Starship

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naff name.

Bloke fined £460 after his drone screwed up police chopper search for missing woman

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Re: Here's what's interesting.

The fact that the drone operator wasn't aware of the helicopter until the pilot turned "the big light" on says otherwise.

Francis Boyle Silver badge


in that case they'd just deserve a serious bollicking for not following the rules and coordinating with their colleagues.

iPhone XS: Just another £300 for a better cam- Wait, come back!

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Good Question

Maybe it's a 'lossy' algorithm.

Douglas Adams was right, ish... Super-Earth world clocked orbiting 'nearby' Barnard's Star

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That one's reserved for Uber.

Scam or stunt? It's looking like the latter... Xiaomi so sorry for £1 smartphone 'promo'

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Re: I have the list of winners!

X in pinyin is pronounced like SH. Yes, there's a sound spelt with SH but that a different sound pronounced like SH. Language is tricky. Don't get me started on the Chinese and Japanese L and R sounds.

Bloke jailed for trying to blow up UK crypto-cash biz after it failed to reset his account password

Francis Boyle Silver badge


my first thought was this sounds kinda fishy. Then I realised it's not like we dealing with some multinational conglomerate here. So, probably some sort of private arrangement to take over the lease — my brother knows a bloke who knows someone or "this bloke down the pub'.

Then something goes wrong:

"Our new place's not ready yet. We need another few months".

"But we've already given out the new address".

"Don't worry, we'll bung any letters into the cupboard in the storeroom. If it's urgent they'll use email".

So six months later someone bothers to check that cupboard in the storeroom. . .

Samsung 'reveals' what looks like a tablet that folds into a phone, but otherwise we're quite literally left in the dark

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Re: This

And if you divide the screen up into different areas, why not just have several screens?

Well, it would seem most users of the ironically named Windows would agree with you even if I don't.

Fight AI with AI! Code taught to finger naughty deepfake vids made by machine-learning algos

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Re: frank ly

That's not a fair. These days I generally classify the real Nic Cage as a fake.

The PCIe bus is coming, and everybody's jumping... New York to San Francisco, an NVMe disco

Francis Boyle Silver badge


I just feel old.

Has science gone too far? Now boffins dream of shining gigantic laser pointer into space to get aliens' attention

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Re: Giant laser attached to a telescope blasting into space...

No, there was this other guy, in Canada I think, who watched it as well.

'He must be stopped': Missouri candidate's children tell voters he's basically an asshat

Francis Boyle Silver badge

Nice joke but

it's that sort of easy cynicism that got us into this mess.

Which scientist should be on the new £50 note? El Reg weighs in – and you should vote, too

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No Mary Anning?

Shift-work: Keyboards heaped in a field push North Yorks council's fly-tipping buttons

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Re: Smoking jacket and pipe time....

Yeah, it looks like the cops should be keeping TABs on that lot.

Boffins have fabricated microscopic sci-fi tractor beams for real

Francis Boyle Silver badge

Re: using beams of light to manipulate atoms.

Not massless — they simply lack rest mass. Plenty of relativistic mass there though.

Should a robo-car run over a kid or a grandad? Healthy or ill person? Let's get millions of folks to decide for AI...

Francis Boyle Silver badge

That might have been what they were thinking

But it's not how it works out.

Samsung's graphene batteries promise to charge five times faster – without exploding

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Re: Still not what customers really want

I think the test is: I pick up the phone as I am about to walk out the door and discover the battery is at 15%. Can I charge it to a reasonable level (say 50%) and still not be late for my appointment?

Roughly 30 years after its birth at UK's Acorn Computers, RISC OS 5 is going open source

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Re: I see butt plug, i upvote...

Try using that as a butt plug and you'll be in the ER in no time.

London flatmate (Julian Assange) sues landlord (government of Ecuador) in human rights spat

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Assange isn't evidence

of anything other than the fact that Assange is a prick.

Haunted disk-drive? This story will give you the chills...

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Re: Similar scenario with a line printer

"The only thing I said that wasn't true was that the electricity that came out of the three pin sockets was better quality than the stuff that came out of the old two pin sockets."

Even that's not exactly untrue. "Less likely to kill you" is better in my book.

It's Two Spacecraft, One Mission as BepiColombo gets ready to launch

Francis Boyle Silver badge

Don't forget your sunscreen

Always good advice at least when heading for Mercury.

Good news: Largest, most ancient known galaxy supercluster is spotted. Bad news: It's collapsing on itself

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It's no more "conveniently imagined"

than the 'conveniently imagined' Jack the Ripper.

Alexa heard what you did last summer – and she knows what that was, too: AI recognizes activities from sound

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Re: I really wonder what goes on inside these companies

If (FeatureIsProfitable == true)

FeatureIsAcceptable = true;

Francis Boyle Silver badge


They trained it on movie effects. Your victim would have to do the Wilhelm scream for that to work.

Huge ice blades on Jupiter’s Europa will make it a right pain in the ASCII to land on

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You're making a lot of assumptions there

As I read it the penitentes are near the equator (warmer environment aiding sublimation, presumably). So, at the poles the radar signal just disappears into space unless it's pointing straight down. At the equator there are vertical and horizontal surfaces forming cavities which reflect the signal randomly creating a more or less omnidirectional return signal.

Does Google make hardware just so nobody buys it?

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for the music score display in Spazturtle's link. That absolutely makes sense. And maybe reading manga is somehow like playing music?

Russian 'troll factory' firebombed – but still fit to fiddle with our minds

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Re: Trust a troll? Everyone trusts Fox News,

"maybe Putin funds the Murdoch empire."

Murdoch finds trolling Americans very profitable. He doesn't need any help.

Punkt: A minimalist Android for the paranoid

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Re: Then, amid the oohs and aahs, the small boy said "but he has no clothes on!"

Just the Blackberry stuff and not looking cheap. If you think the asking price is too much for that, then you probably aren't in the target demographic*.

*And for that you can probably count yourself lucky.

Send up a satellite to zap space junk if you want Earth's orbit to be clean, say boffins

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Re: Idiots

That may be technically true but objects in LEO require constant reboosting to stay in orbit. Spack Junk in LEO doesn't remain a problem for long. (Not that it matter since we're talking about something like a 50% difference in orbital and the error in my figure is greater than that.)

Francis Boyle Silver badge

Re: Idiots

@Brewster's Angle Grinder

I don't understand what you're doing with your energy calculation but 0.06 m/s is a tiny delta V. One article I looked at suggests a delta V of around 200m/s is required to put a satellite in geosynchronous orbit into a Hohmann transfer orbit that would intersect the atmosphere.

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Re: Idiots

Reading the original article (always advisable before calling the authors idiots) reveals that the figure of 1800 seconds is in fact the specific impulse of the thruster not any actual time. Half an hour would, in fact, be a surprisingly low figure. Typically these sort of drives have to be operated for many hours to give any sort of useful delta V.

Francis Boyle Silver badge

I'll see your Spaceballs

and raise you Quark. (No not that one.)

Eat my shorts, watchdog tells every city mayor in the US – FCC approves $2bn 5G telco windfall

Francis Boyle Silver badge

It 2018

just buy shares in a company with blockchain in its name.

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