* Posts by Plankmeister

21 publicly visible posts • joined 30 Nov 2007

Large Hadron Timewaster

Dead Vulture

@AC @10/2 17:08

The most fantastic comment so far. Everything is relative. And the LHC is apparently relatively cheap.

£4bn over 20 years? Bargain!

The author of the article should be squelched as a troll, methinks.

VbyV password reset is childishly simple

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Here in Denmark...

...the banks issue a printed-grid keycard with 100-odd cells, each with a unique number, and every online transaction requires one of these values to be entered into the browser. When a cell's value is used, it expires, and this continues until all 100-odd cells have been used, at which point a new keycard is issued. As well as the key-card, it's also necessary to use one's customer login number and password.

Therefore, unless you have this particular printed keycard in your posession, it's not possible to use the VbV system (unless you get incredibly lucky entering random numbers!). And I keep my keycard in a very safe place, well away from my credit card.

It's a system that is supremely secure, I think, especially seeing as if you lose the card or enter a number wrong 3 times (at which point the keycard is cancelled) you have to order a new one.

I'm very happy with it, anyway, and always feel completely secure shopping online using VbV.

Dawkins' atheist ad campaign hits fundraising target



"Mother Teresa spent 50 years in the Calcutta slums in the belief that God existed and that he had told her to work there. This enriched her life and the lives of those that she helped."

Ok... so by this statement you are saying that Mother Teresa enriched the lives of the people she came into contact with, and thereby enriched her own life.

I feel my life has been greatly enriched by reading Dawkins' "The God Delusion". Therefore Dawkins has at least enriched my life, and undoubtedly the lives of others all over the planet, not just in the Calcutta slums. In doing so, I'm pretty sure that Dawkins' derives a certain satisfaction from the fact that he's helping people become cured of religion.

So - in that context - he's not that different from Mother Teresa after all. If you'd read any of his works you'd understand that - at least where the existence or non-existence of god is concerned - he has no fear of that. If you believe there's no god, how is it possible to fear it?

You're just spouting righteousness, which just makes your comments seem crass and closed-minded in the context of open and serious debate about the subject; the ultimate "ner ner!"

Perhaps you should read a few books on atheism, or at least realise that the possibility that there actually is a personal god "out there" that listens to your prayers is actually highly, *highly* unlikely.

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Consciousness raising.

The entire point of this campaign is to raise society's consciousness regarding the special priveliges that religion enjoys. It's certainly acheived that goal already, even before the campaign has started. I guarantee that there'll be a whole bunch of fuss made about this, and the Humanist Society and Dawkins et al will be interviewed, and the net result almost certainly will be an increase in the nation's numbers of atheists.

And to those who are saying "Isn't Dawkins an atheist? Why's he saying probably?" Read the article again. The entire thing was set in motion by the British Humanist Society, and received the backing of Dawkins. Dawkins is not behind this. He's a late-comer to the party, offering to match the first £5500 in donations with his own money. Dawkins therefore had no kind of input into what wording the advert contains. If it had been up to Dawkins, I'm sure it would have said something like "A personal god does not exist. Your prayers are not being heard."

On a personal note, I give a big thumbs-up to the campaign. Dawkins got it unequivocally correct when he stated that religion enjoys privileges not afforded any other kind of opinion- or belief-based subject. It's about time non-religion enjoyed the same privileges.

Scientists study near-death sensations

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I've had an OBE.... does that count?

That is.... an Out of Body Experience. Was a most peculiar experience. All I can say is, if that's what it's like when you die, then I have no fear of death: Peace, calm, serenity, wellbeing, supreme self-confidence, and yes, there was a bright pinpoint of light in the very far distance...

Beauty contest judge canned for slamming 'munter' contestants


Reminds me...

...of a song a friend of mine wrote at school. I can't remember the whole thing, but it started - quite unforgettably - like this:

Muntas, muntas, everywhere,

Big fat tits and greasy hair.

Still makes me lol when I see a fat greasy-haired munta. Which is a rare occurrence here in Copenhagen :D

NASA chief blasts US space policy in leaked email

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@Stuart Van Onselen

Well said! Hopefully the next 10 years will see an explosion (pun not intended) in the commercial space access market, progressing hopefully towards commercial heavy-lift boosters within the 20-25 year range.


Politics = Poo

Decisions about technology made by politicians who have zero understanding of anything to do with technology will always boil down to one thing: money. If it costs "too much" then don't approve the budget, or put in place a set of requirements that are impossible to meet, the outcome of which will be a scenario hyped by the media as a failing by NASA, not the devious bastard politicians behind the scenes pulling the strings. "NASA fails again" is a much more sellable headline than "Politicians re-evaluate Shuttle's operational lifespan."

Bastard politicians.

Let's hope that the new administration is a little more friendly towards NASA. They need the budget to keep Shuttle running *AND* develop Ares/Orion, preferably with a couple of years of overlap.

Alternatively, if the new administration does mothball Ares/Orion through lack of funds and make no attempt to extend Shuttle's lifespan beyond 2010, then it almost certainly will be the start of commercial space access. So, perhaps it's not such a bad thing after all if the politicians are bastards.

Hmmm... I wonder how many politicians have vested interests in all those commercial space access companies... *THAT* would be an interesting story.

Internet Explorer - now with 35% less FAIL


Dutch Lobster

Ha ha! He searched for Dutch Lobster! Must be a n00b if he doesn't know what it is.

McKinnon loses extradition fight



Every person in the world knows that killing someone in cold blood is a far more serious crime than hacking into a poorly secured network.

The reason I mentioned the Danish killing is because it's been all over the media here recently, and it's caused a lot of uproar here - understandably.

At the same time, of course I also have boiling blood at all the other attrocities you mentioned. They have no place in modern society. But I can hardly go ranting on about every injustice in the world to placate you. IMHO Sharia law should be abolished. It has no place in modern society.

I was merely making an observation about the imbalance between two western countries who have similar legal and sentencing systems.

America's actions in this case are inexcusable. They are over-reacting. Fair enough, the guy committed a crime, and he should be punished for it. But making an example of him will NOT prevent people in future from hacking. If they wish to prevent future attacks they should properly secure their network.

Imagine a scenario where you left your house unlocked while you were out and a guy lets himself in. He looks around a bit, goes through any papers he finds, maybe moves the furniture around a bit, leaves a bit of graffiti on the walls. Maybe even eats what's in the fridge, sleeps in your bed and watches your TV. This happens for a few months every time you go out. The police catch the guy. He's been a severe irritation to you. Is it justifiable to send him to prison for the rest of his natural life? I think not.

As I said: The punishment should fit the crime.

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The punishment should fit the crime...

Here in Denmark last year a 15-year-old savagely and unprovokedly attacked another guy (family guy - 2 kids and a wife) walking down the street. He jumped up and down on the guy's head until he died. Then he filmed the aftermath on his mobile phone and went to a party, showing off the clip on his phone, and his bloodied shoes and clothes.

Just a few weeks ago, the attacker (now 16 - who can't be named for legal reasons) was given 4 years in prison, and will likely be out in two.

And McKinnon caused $a couple hundred K damage to some PCs on an unprotected network and he could potentially end up dying of old age in prison in America.

What the fuck kind of fucked up society is this? Makes my blood boil.

John Glenn blasts Moonbase-to-Mars NASA roadmap

Dead Vulture

Space Elevators...

...are LONG. The geosynch altitude for earth is approx 35,000km up... And you need either an asteroid at the other end that's equal to the weight of the elevator shaft/cable, or a double-length shaft/cable to act as a counterweight, which also has the added benefit of slingshotting interplanetary craft off the end at a very tasty d/v. So if the elevator had a catastrophic failure, and snapped in half, or the asteroid twanged off the end, it would wrap almost once around the earth.

And depending on how much resonance there was in the cable, a fairly wide band all round the equator would be in danger.

Billions, maybe even trillions of tons of (probably) bonded and spliced carbon nanotubes crashing into the earth would cause an unhealthy amount of global devastation.

And if the cable went for the double-length approach (and it snapped), there'd be a new artificial satellite in orbit around the sun right in the Earth's ecliptic, and there would undoubtedly be a time in the future when the two would collide... Which would be even more devastating than a falling cable.

Best we steer clear of space elevators, methinks.

Paris Hilton

Mars Direct @ Zubrin

Zubrin's got the right idea. Check out his books "The Case For Mars" and "Entering Space". Both very interesting, and he does a good job of highlighting NASA's obsession with over-engineering things for the sake of the engineering.

Mars Direct is the only way to go. It may take another 25 years for the politicians to realise it, but I'm 100% certain that the first mission actually undertaken to reach the Red Planet by humans will be exceptionally similar to Zubrin's Mars Direct plan, if not sticking to it 100%.

Using the moon as a technological stepping stone is folly. At least claim we're doing it because it's the moon, rather than camouflaging the motivations to appeal to the SF-fan voters...

Bloody politicians.

Paris, because she fires my rockets. :D

British pilot makes first supersonic stealth jumpjet flight

Paris Hilton

@Edward Rose

Yeah, I guess the plane is built by a load of ex-NASA Space Shuttle designers and engineers.

Paris because I'd inspect her payload bay good and proper.

W3C 'clarifies' HTML 5 v XHTML

Gates Horns

XHTML/XML get the job done.

XHTML is far more robust than HTML. It really is designed from the ground up as being a markup language. That is to say, its strengths are in the separation of the presentational content from the informational content.

IMHO, I'd choose well formed Strict-XHTML and CSS over plain old HTML and CSS.

It's not XHTML that's the problem... It's the different way user agents render CSS. If you ask me, the WaSP project is a step in the right direction. The best all-round solution would be if there was an open-source project to build a rendering-engine that ALL user agents would use. Then it's just the feature-set built around the rendering engine that would separate the different browsers.

Imagine that... KNOWING with 100% certainty that your page will look pixel-for-pixel identical on every browser. Ah, bliss!

It might take 10 years, but Rome wasn't built in a day.

Evil Bill because he allowed IE6 to be so.... SHITE.

NASA confirms manned mission to 10 Petaflops


This is NASA we're talking about...

...NASA don't do things efficiently. It took them 30 years to realise the Shuttle was the "wrong way around*". Well... that's not true. They *KNEW* it was the wrong way around, but it was a good excuse to pour time, effort and money into some really cool engineering.

*By "wrong way around" I mean that it *should* be the first stage that's re-usable, with an expendable payload delivery system (a lá ESA's ATV). Much more efficient, especially in terms of cost of repair/maintenance. It's just nowhere near as cool.

YouTube divorce rant vid wows the crowd

IT Angle


I mean... seriously. She must have *approved* the final cut before it was uploaded. WTF was she thinking as she was watching it? "Yeah, that's good. People will really sympathise!"

And she's admitting in hard evidence that the marriage was never consumated, therefore, the marriage is not legally binding, and can be anulled by either party at any time.

Effectively, that makes her a squatter.

IT? because.... well... other than the gossamer thin reference to youtube, it's not really IT news, is it? Not that I actually care; I read The Reg for its pure entertainment value! :D

NASA's Phoenix closes on Red Planet


I had my doubts...

...about being correct. I also arrived at the same 0.003, but in my slightly pickled state interpreted this as one rock per 3mm^2. Which would be ridiculous. So I magically re-worked my calculation until I had something that was more reasonable.

Oh well... Mine's the one with "Maths n00b" written on the back.

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I calculate... (though I could be wrong...)

So... 100km * 20km landing ellipse. That's 1.5 billion square metres. 5 million rocks in that area... That's 300 per square metre. (So I think some NASA folks have been exaggerating!) The lander itself occupies approx 1.5 square metres. So that's 450 of these rocks within the area of the lander. If they were evenly distibuted, it's one "rock" per 36 square centimetres. Given that each of the lander's three feet undoubtedly occupy approximately the same area....

"The chances of this thing landing unscathed on Mars, are a million to one, he said. Aaaaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa."

So either some NASA-type boffins are really making it sound worse than it is, or those mission-threatening "rocks" could be more accurately described as "small stones".

Gates teases bankers with Windows 7 dates

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They should...

...just open-source Windows for the desktop. Then they can still sell Windows Server products and all the office apps and other assorted piles 'o' poo they peddle...

By open-sourcing Windows, they'd - within a couple of years - have a *very* strong product free of all bloat, that pretty much everyone would use.

Surely M$ make enough money already... Think of all the money they'd save if they didn't have to employ all those useless Windoze coders who use dubious programming techniques (Such as this one plucked from the leaked Win2k source:


* The magnitude of this hack compares favorably with that of the national debt.)

Open-sourcers do it for FREE!

NASA reveals manned Mars mission plans


I find it absolutely bizarre...

...that NASA still continues to implement the biggest possible project it can under the guise "we need to design a whole bunch of new technology to get this working!", especially in today's technological environment.

Bob Zubrin is right... NASA is an oversized, mal-managed money pit filled with aerospace engineers and managers who aren't interested in progress of space flight; they simply want to get their hands on all that ca$h so they can develop exotic solutions.

Using Zubrin's Mars Direct program, the goal of landing humans on Mars is much easier and MUCH cheaper than any of NASA's hair-brained schemes. If only NASA's administrators, top management guys and technical advisors would stop trying to bring back the Apollo glory days...

In theory, with a government that was willing to fund space exploration instead of country invasion, NASA could have put humans on Mars more than a decade ago.