* Posts by Rik

29 publicly visible posts • joined 19 Oct 2007

'Stop NASA bombing the Moon!'


Another demonstration

of Poe's Law?

Super 'sun-hot' plasma rocket in fullbore bench test triumph



"i.e. a chemical rocket cannot go faster than the speed of it's propellant (or something like that...I'm no rocket scientist!)."

Indeed, it's clear you're not. Powering rockets is about impulse, and the law of conservation thereof applies. If you're sitting in a space craft, you wind down the window and flick a piece of chewing gum out, backwards, your craft will go faster (an infintesimally tiny bit, but still) even though you can't seriously expect to be able to flick it faster (backwards) than the craft is going (forwards).


Five-year-mission solar stratocruiser prototype is go


Good work, lads

Congrats to The Reg for getting DARPA to work on this project as if it was their own.

Toshiba unveils new external 3.5-inch drive



There's a 50% chance you're joking (decreasing to 0% if you're American); if not, there's a 100% chance you don't understand probability calculations.


"First" only in a very limited sense

Its first external 3.5" drive? Then why have I been seeing rectangular aluminium boxes with "Toshiba" on them, an USB connector on the back and presumably a hard disk inside, of capacities surpassing even the most recent 2.5" drives, for the past two or three years already? Is this because I'm in Europe, and it's the US where they only now introduced them in the 3.5" form factor?

Dutch court clogs Pirate Bay



"Hold on, your allows to run a company from prison in the netherlands???"

Don't know what you've been smoking, but you need to change to something better. The PB guys aren't even in prison at the moment, let alone in a Dutch one.

And your spelling sucks too.

US city demands FaceSpaceGooHoo log-ins from job seekers


"reach out to the city of Bozeman"

... grab them around the neck and wring the fuck out of it.

Toaster used to recharge gadgets



given the pyrotechnical aspirations of Li-Ion batteries, as demonstrated by a number of Dell and Sony laptops, some batteries will indeed come out toasted.

CERN: LHC to fire first proton-smash ray next month


@Mike Flugennock

The experiment you propose, while having merit, will cause the release of massive quantities of Bogons and Stupons. Failure to contain these will have pretty disastrous effects.


Protocol dictates

that not only they announce their plans by grabbing all broadcast channels at once, but also that they do so with a white Angora cat sitting on their lap. This seems not to have been the case either.

GPS tracking slapped on laptop recovery service


Second flaw

GPS devices tend to use power.

So the first thing you do after 'finding' a laptop is to take the battery out, after which you can leisurely figure out how to disconnect the GPS antenna before powering it back on. You can also keep the machine off and just move the harddisk to another system to copy those umpteen million personal records that's bound to be on it.

IBM's eight-core Power7 chip to clock in at 4.0GHz


an exabyte of archival storage

I hope they do actually mean a million* GB, and not those video players with delusions of being a backup device.

ExaByte: for people who don't know their system has a /dev/null already.

*it's storage, so not 1024*1024

Bolluxed router configuration? Click here for help


"Presumably, PacketTrap's solution boasts an emergency "Debollux" button"

Buttons? I want the kit to provide three commandline tools: bolluxfind, unbollux and bolluxmon. GUIs just get in the way of efficiently debolluxing what needs to be debolluxed, and furthermore, the leaner and meaner the tools themselves are, the less chance of a programmer bolluxing the unbolluxer.

Lenovo intros skinny, low-weight ThinkPad


@And getting a HP is bad, because?

Because HP needs to die. Slowly and painfully for maximum satisfaction, but plain bog-standard dying will do. Including specifically Capellas and Fiorina, who've gone elsewhere.

You know their slogan? "HP - Invent". They stopped after inventing how to make money from pigments, and they wouldn't know excellent tech if it did the full-blown extended hardcore dancing on the piano act, with a strobe-lit fluo-hot-pink tutu and accompanied by several dozen Klaxons and a couple of air-raid sirens.


@Peter W

>why would you buy this?

>when you can get virtually the same for half the price by buying a HP 2510p.....

Here's a Service Message for you from the Department of the Bleedingly Obvious: because when you buy a HP, you get a HP. Which is not a Thinkpad.

SCO details bleak future



> but does anybody know anybody who actually paid SCO money last year?

And. at least as important a question: WHY?

Do we need computer competence tests?


@Nice try, but you evidently don't know the first thing about security...

My firewall blocklists serve more than just that one purpose you tried to infer from their name, dear twat. And rather than have all sorts of config files here and there I put some effort in allowing me to be lazy.

I also reserve the right to deal with known threats differently than I would deal with the Internet at large.



>The underlying issue is that everyone believes everyone else is stupid, yet few will recommend education.

Waste of effort.

I do not believe everybody else is stupid. I *KNOW*, from my 20-years-in-IT experience, they are. Simple as that.

If people had to use circular saws, then they would also use them to clean their toenails. And in the US, they'd then sue the manufacturer for putting such a dangerous device on the market.


@Michael: The other Guy Kewney seemed more competent ...

>My 8 year old, special to his parents but just an ordinary child, uses a computer,

>without any AV software installed, and, with nothing more than simple advice.

>He's never installed a virus, clicked a link that took him to some mythical ha><0r >page, clicked a link that asked him for his details which he then has given away.

And all of the legitimate, non-iffy pages he (or you) has visited, is visiting or will ever visit will never be compromised, surely?

Can I have your IP number, so that I can add it to my firewall blocklists?

Decent advice, but you're still an idiot.



>...live in a house. You have to be able to fix basic problems like faulty plumbing or electrics.

Nonsense. You *DO* however need to be able to spot plumbing or wiring problems and get someone in to fix it before it floods your basement/downstairs neighbour, or set the house on fire (as applicable).; if you can fix it yourself, more power to you. Those matters can inconvenience more people than just yourself unless you're living in a sufficiently remote freestanding house (computer equivalent: standalone, not connected to the Internet).

>....drive a car. you have to be able to fix basic problems like failure to start due to loose wiring to ECU.

Nonsense again. You *DO* however need a license to show you're able to control a hefty lump of metal weighing a couple of hundred jubs at speeds of up to 1000 brontosauruses/hour and not inconvenience others who're doing likewise too much.

>....use a camera. You have to be able to pass a test of all the basic features like use of Program mode.

Who exactly are you inconveniencing by not being able to do that?

>...use a cooker. You have to pass a basic cookery course.


>...use a mobile phone. You have to pass a test in the the current SMS jargon and know how to setup MMS and data features.


The licenses, you oaf, get to apply when there's interaction with a larger group of unspecified 'others'.

UK gov sets rules for hacker tool ban



Locksmiths have a handicap, as it were, in having to be physically present at the door they're working on, and therefore tend to be within the jurisdiction the law on locksmithing applies to when you want to invoke that to keep your door closed.

The script kiddie trying to get into your computer systems can be in the Ukraine, Sri Lanka or Argentina, and do they care about whether there's some British law prohibiting their activities?

Microsoft spits out final XP service pack, beta version


@Steven Hewitt

"Vista uses as much RAM as it can instead of just the bare minimum. Once an application requires RAM, the less used components of Vista are taken out of RAM so there's enough free for applications."

So tell me, if it doesn't *NEED* it, what business does it have grabbing all that RAM in the first place?


@I have an XP machine and it never crashes or gets viruses or.... etc, etc, etc.

It's switched off and disconnected, sitting in the back of your shed supporting whatever is piled on top of it?

US switches off the incandescent lightbulb


@Not too bad ...

"I've never replaced a CFL bulb. I got my first about 8 years ago."

I have. Several.

"There is rumoured to be a dimmable bulb available somewhere in the world, but not it seems in the EU."

Apparently The Netherlands has left the EU then, as I can get dimmable CFL's at an electrician's supply store a few blocks away. I haven't bothered to look further.

@Don't ignore the heating effect

I've heard rumours that in significant areas of the country Shrub Jr. is presiding over, housing requires cooling rather than heating.

Validus backers banking on swing to DC


The big(ish) gain can be in the UPS

Couple of points:

Almost all PSUs you'll find in a datacenter are of the switching type; exceptions may be the odd wallwart supply for a modem. Guess what? The very first thing a SPSU does is rectify and smooth the incoming AC. Next step is a chopper at several tens of kHz, then a smallish transformer (the power a transformer can handle is tied to the cross-section of its core, times the frequency at which it operates. Frequency goes up, required core cross-section goes down for a given power rating. If your PC's power supply was using a transformer at 50/60Hz it alone would weigh at least a Jub, and it would require several capacitors the size of a Bulgarian Airbag). Basically a DC-DC converter. I haven't tried feeding DC at the appropriate voltage to a bogstandard PC PSU (mainly because I'm lacking the required DC source), but theoretically it should just work.

If you're going about feeding DC power into your data centre you wouldn't want to run your distribution system at the voltages the systems require (12V, 5V and 3.3V) as that would require three buses (+ground), at several tens of amps per bus, per system. Meaning humongous busbars and connectors if you want to keep voltage drop at acceptable levels. So you choose 48V, which is a Telco standard already. Or 42V, an automotive standard, if you dislike Telco standards. Or 36V if you dislike both. Now what? You need a DC-DC converter, making the PSU exactly like it is now, save the rectifier and smoothing caps, and designed to work from 48V instead of 150..300 VDC (rectified 110V or 230V AC).

So, basically, no gain here so far. But 48V DC is much easier to make uninterruptable as apart from the right bunch of batteries and their charger (as with UPSes now) you just need a beefy diode, saving the DC-AC conversion step.

UPSes can generate a lot of heat too, as I noticed at a previous gig where the power requirements for the computer room was more than adequately met by the UPSes, but *their* cooling was, ah, somewhat lacking. Pulling more than 20% of the rated power tripped the UPS room temp sensor until we got some serious cooling in...

Rosetta spies nightlife on our sleeping planet



"Anyone up for a bit of identification of which hemisphere we're looking at?"

The article already says the pic was snapped while Rosetta was over the Indian Ocean, and you can see the outline of the Indian subcontinent somewhat north of the centre. The Indonesia archipelago appears to the lower right of it, and the crescent in the upper right is Japan.


Prolly to do with the timezone the respective countries are in.

Babbling net software sparks international incident


@Robert Ramsay

"challenged the creature to take back what it had said about his mother."

"Do you stand by the assertion that she is a member of the Mesocricetus Auratus family, and that her spouse disperses the fragrance of Sambucus Nigra?"

Flying cow destroys minivan


Notice it didn't so much fly as plummet.

No noticeable improvement over sheep.

Erratic fleshies sabotage, wreck innocent flying robot


@Martin Gregorie

"The sim attitude most likely applies to piloting remote controlled UAVs as long as the consequences of mistakes are minor for the pilot. There are only two ways of fixing this:

a) put the pilot in the aircraft

b) use autonomous systems for all flight control aspects, leaving only course selection and weapon/surveillance systems to be controlled remotely."

The third option is to bring the consequences of mistakes back to the level of the pilot sitting in the cockpit. Explosives in the controller's chair, a sixteen ton weight suspended from the ceiling, a trap door over a spiked pit, the possibilities are endless.