* Posts by spider from mars

103 publicly visible posts • joined 12 May 2008


Why Chromebooks are the new immortals of tech

spider from mars

My 13 year-old Macbook Pro still runs just fine. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

95% of NFTs now totally worthless, say researchers

spider from mars

I have an NFT of the world's smallest violin to sell you.

UK comms regulator rings death knell for fax machines

spider from mars

Re: Much loved???


Old people in Japan don't trust email, and it's still a country where if it's not written down on a piece of paper somewhere, it doesn't exist. Also, the requirement to sign things with a physical stamp.

(not really relevant for the UK, I realise)

Three things that have vanished: $3.6bn in Bitcoin, a crypto investment biz, and the two brothers who ran it

spider from mars

Yay money laundering!

sooner or later some financial authority somewhere is going to decide that AML regulations apply to cryptocurrency transactions, and a whole lot of people are suddenly going to become very sad

UK Space ponders going nuclear with Rolls-Royce: Hopes are to slice the time it takes for space travel

spider from mars

Even assuming they build one, who's going to use it?

While I do think an NTR would be a great capability to have, there's no way UK.gov is going to pony up the money for a manned space programme. Who's going to buy it? I can't see NASA using a non-US system (especially given ITAR).

USA seeks Moon and Mars nuke power plant designs ready to fly in 2027

spider from mars

Re: What are they going to do with the heat?

You're not wrong, but radiators in space are a pretty well-understood technology. Many satellites have them, as does the ISS. They just need to be sufficiently big, is all.

Trivia fact: the ship from 2001 has originally designed to have realistically sized cooling radiators, but they removed them because they worried that the audience might think they were wings.

If it's Goodenough for me, it's Goodenough for you: Canuck utility biz goes all in on solid-state glass battery boffinry

spider from mars

Re: Progress

A solid metal anode would cut the weight of the battery by a lot.

I don't know if sodium batteries will be competitive for mobile devices or EVs, but they could be great for grid or home storage as it's about 1/30th of the price.

The delights of on-site working – sun, sea and... WordPad wrangling?

spider from mars

Re: echoing gifs

In my defence it was 20 years ago. :)

I remember it being more trouble that it was worth, though. We didn't start using CSS until most of our customers had moved to mozilla or IE5.5. Dark times.

spider from mars

echoing gifs

Back in the dim and distant past, php removed support for gif generation libraries between versions (presumably due to licensing issues or something)

This was the days when people still used Netscape Navigator 4, with no CSS support, and all our layout was done with tables, font tags and - relevantly - single pixel gifs in various colours. So that we didn't have to manage a hundred image files, there was a simple php file which would use said libraries to create a gif of the specified colour, and it was used all over the site. This was probably a stupid idea performance-wise but, compared to the rest of the site it was a drop in the ocean

What I did therefore, was open a couple of example images in vi, workout which the bytes were that stored the colour table values, and then change the php code to echo the same binary sting with arbitrary colour values concatenated in there.

Quick question, what the Hull? City khazi is a top UK tourist destination

spider from mars

Re: What about Bude Tunnel?


Furious gunwoman opens fire at YouTube HQ, three people shot

spider from mars


I knew youtubers were getting pissed at demonetisation, but wow.

Whizzes' lithium-iron-oxide battery 'octuples' capacity on the cheap

spider from mars

Where are they now

It might be instructive to go through a list of battery-breakthrough news stories from, say, 2013 (or even 2008), and find out what happened to them.

Tesla's driverless car software chief steps down

spider from mars

Re: Not a good fit...

In my experience, it generally means "he disagreed with the boss one time too often"

Robo-Uber T-boned, rolls onto side, self-driving rides halted

spider from mars

Re: Learning to deal with shitty drivers

There's even scientific evidence to back it up:


spider from mars

Learning to deal with shitty drivers

Is part of learning to drive.

Fake History Alert: Sorry BBC, but Apple really did invent the iPhone

spider from mars

I don't really see what the fuss is about

I listened to the podcast - the title was a bit hyperbolic, but the actual content of the program seemed uncontroversial.

Billion-tonne IceCube: Sterile neutrino does not exist

spider from mars

Re: kudos

It's really been a year of negative results this year. First LUX's failure to find WIMPs, then the disappearance of the 750-GeV bump, and now this.

Elon Musk takes wraps off planet-saving Model 3 vapourmobile

spider from mars

Re: Tesla a greencar, really ?

These figures seem.. suspicious.

For example, round-trip efficiency for a Li-Ion battery is usually quoted around 85-90%. Similarly modern transformers have an efficiency north of 95%.

Top new IoT foundation (yeah, another one) to develop open standards

spider from mars

Re: IoT - Has it's time passed?

"Is it a solution waiting for a question?"

My thoughts exactly.

Cash injection fuels SABRE spaceplane engine

spider from mars

Re: The wheel goes round

basically yes.

HOTOL had three main problems.

1 - they wanted full liquifaction of the air, which meant they ended up using waaay more hydrogen than they could burn. SABRE doesn't cool the air down that much, but even then there's spill-over in air-breathing mode.

2 - having the engine at the back led to problems as the centre of mass and centre of lift shifted through the flight profile. This is why SKYLON's engines are on nacelles.

3 - HOTOL had a launch sled which turned out to be a massive pain in the arse. Skylon doesn't.

Also, there are also advances in materials technology that help the design to close as well,

[PSA] go.theregister.com being blocked by MVPS Hosts

spider from mars

[PSA] go.theregister.com being blocked by MVPS Hosts

A couple of weeks ago El-Reg's RSS feeds stopped working for me - I eventually tracked the problem down to the above.

I've manually removed it from the file locally so it's working for me now, but I thought I'd post this in case others are afflicted by the same problem.

GDS monopoly leaves UK.gov at risk of IT cock-ups, warns report

spider from mars

This would be more persuasive

If the market had previously delivered any of these so called efficiencies.

Man asks internet for $1k for pebbles. INTERNET SAYS YES

spider from mars

~3 times the thermal conductivity, but half the heat capacity.

spider from mars

Re: Thermodynamics fail

As a back of the envelope calculation, a 2cm ice cube will take approx 3kJ to melt from a freezer temperature of -20C, once you include latent heat of fusion. The same size soapstone, although three times the mass, only takes ~500J to raise to 0C.

I'm fairly sure you can get ice cubes in flexible plastic that will cool drinks without diluting them, but that wouldn't be pretentious enough - which is the real point here. It's not about how you like your drink, it's about affectation.

Space Commanders rebel as Elite:Dangerous kills offline mode

spider from mars

well, fuck.

Mobile coverage on trains really is pants

spider from mars

Don't go south of the river

confirms what I suspected - there's a weird coverage black hole around Clapham Junction. Can't imagine why - it's not as if it's a sparsely populated area.

Stalwart hatchback gets a plug-in: Volkswagen e-Golf

spider from mars

compared to the BMW i3

Roughly the same price point, give or take a couple of grand, and the i3 has a range-extender version. Makes the Golf a bit of a hard sell.

Japan makes Prius palatable with road map to hydrogen cars

spider from mars
Thumb Down

Oh dear

Time for the standard fuel cell rant.

The problem is FCV's horrible grid-to-wheel efficiency.

Compared to a BEV, which just needs to account for grid distribution and the round-trip efficiency of the battery, the losses incurred by producing the hydrogen, compressing (or liquefying) it, distribution, and storage all result in FCVs using between 3-5x as much electricity as a comparable BEV - hence 3-5x the CO2 emissions (given the same energy generation mix - in fact it would be even worse because clean energy sources are currently a limited resource).

And that assumes you're getting your hydrogen from electrolysis. Commercial hydrogen is produced from natural gas, releasing CO2 in the process. If you run the numbers on this, it can be shown that FCVs emit more carbon than a traditional ICE car.

'Disruptive innovation' is nonsense? Not ALWAYS, actually

spider from mars

The article's not about Google's cars, though; I would be perfectly happy with an article predicting whether they will succeed or not.

The problem is that the author is trying to use his prediction as evidence, to make a wider point about innovation.

spider from mars

I think it would be prudent to wait and see if Google's car succeeds or fails before you use it as the central plank of your thesis..

Japan plans SEVEN satellite launches to supercharge GPS

spider from mars

Re: Is there a rocket scientist in the house?

@Imsimil Berati-Lahn

This is my guess too. Four satellites in elliptical geosynchronous orbits, tracing out the same analemma over Japan, so one of them is always at or near zenith.

e.g: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Analemma#Analemmas_of_geosynchronous_satellites

spider from mars

Address confusion

If you've ever tried to find a building by its street address in Japan, you'll know why everyone has GPS on their phone.

There are no street names - instead each block has a number, and each house on that block. Except that the numbers are not sequential. With just an address it can be nigh impossible to find somewhere in an unfamiliar area, short of just wandering around and hoping.

Whaddaya mean, No refund? But I paid in Bitcoins! Oh I see...

spider from mars

Re: Bitcoin is strongly deflationary

"Austrian economics is pretty much common sense when you think about it,"

There's your problem. "Common sense" is not a reliable guide to the functioning of complex systems.

spider from mars

Bitcoin is strongly deflationary

Dabbs touches on this briefly at the end of the article, but this is really the biggest problem with Bitcoin qua currency - even accounting for its vast impracticality.

Simply because it's based on a limited commodity, Bitcoin is strongly deflationary. It's like the gold standard of the turn of the 20th century - there's a reason we invented fiat currency! It's no coincidence that Bitcoin appeals to the same Austrian-economics right wing libertarian cretins as a return to the gold standard.

But I digress. Those of us that grew up in the 70s (or Germans who are permanently terrified of a return to Weimar economics - i.e. the paymasters of the ECB) are taught that inflation is a axiomatically bad thing. This is, of course, bollocks. Moderate inflation is a good thing - there's an argument that our inflation targets should be closer to 4%, not the 2% we have now.

Deflation is crippling - just ask Japan. During deflation, the best thing you can do with your money is sit on it. Investment and spending collapses, and your country enters a prolonged depression.

And if we think we have trouble with an oligarchic elite now, the problem would be so much worse without inflation there to erode inherited wealth.

In short, Bitcoin economics is awful on every level. It's almost as if it has been designed to undermine the ability of governments to control the supply of money and to heighten the power of entrenched wealth (and let's not forget all that lovely potential for tax evasion). And we, the techies, blindly buy into this agenda because it's shiny and new, and has "crypto" in the name, and we think being free from government influence is great when actually it's the only thing keeping the plutocratic wolves from the door.

Firefox biz Mozilla makes Beard new interim chief executive

spider from mars

what you did there..

..I see it.

Neil Young touts MP3 player that's no Piece of Crap

spider from mars

double-blind testing


Snowden documents show British digital spies use viruses and 'honey traps'

spider from mars
Thumb Up

surely I can be the only one

who feels a bit of pride that good ol' Blighty can mix it with the best of them?

Unmanned, autonomous ROBOT TRUCK CONVOY 'drives though town'

spider from mars

Mad Max

We've all seen this concept before in sci-fi, and every time it involved the trucks being hijacked and looted.

Apple plans to waggle iNormous 4½-incher in fanbois' faces

spider from mars

Re: Phablet

It's a perfectly cromulent word.

Ten classic electronic calculators from the 1970s and 1980s

spider from mars


I think I've still got mine in a drawer somewhere - don't know if it still works though. I coded up a very simple drawing program to entertain myself in boring lessons, and the program function was excellent for cheating in exams, as the "program" slot could be used to store useful formulae instead :)

Dropbox is most pleasurable storage cloud for the old in-out

spider from mars

"Does this result make Dropbox a viable NAS substitute"?

given that my NAS box has 5TB of data on it, no ;)

Oooh! My NAUGHTY SKIRT keeps riding up! Hello, INTERNET EXPLORER

spider from mars

what's the fuss?

If you have a passing familiarity with Asian culture, you'll know that in context this is completely unremarkable.

If there's anything here to laugh at, it's that "inori" means "prayer". Which I don't think they've got :)

Secrets of Apple's mysterious Arizona sapphire factory: Our expert whispers all

spider from mars


This reminds me of kickstarter - the "we could go into production if only we had guaranteed orders" thing

Thousands! of! Yahoo! Mail! users! driven! crazy! by! revamp!

spider from mars

I hated yahoo's tabs. My browser has tabs - tabs in tabs is redundant.

White House promises glitch fix for Obamacare website

spider from mars

Because the bill that established the ACA included its own dedicated funding. Same with Medicare, same with Social Security - they are not affected by the shutdown.

The debt ceiling, on the other hand, is entirely another kettle of fish. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/10/08/a-very-simple-timeline-for-the-debt-ceiling-crisis/

CERN releases retro 'Line Mode' browser

spider from mars


I used Pine up until about 2005, when the company I worked for finally blocked outgoing ssh connections..

3D printed guns are for wimps. Meet NASA's 3D printed ROCKET ENGINE

spider from mars

patents patience

The major patents on selective laser sintering run out in 2014. Expect the price to drop considerably - maybe not enough to put it in the reach of a home user, but certainly a small business.

Planet-busting British space bullet ready to bomb ice moon Europa

spider from mars


real life continues to imitate KSP

3-2-1... BOOM: Russian rocket launches, explodes into TOXIC FIREBALL

spider from mars
Thumb Up

Re: OOps

Anyone interested in this should read Ignition! by John D. Clark. It describes the early history of liquid rocket fules, and all their hilariously dangerous chemicals and experiments. It's out of copyright now so you can get a pdf.

Internet daddies win Blighty's 'Nobel for engineering'

spider from mars

Re: Number 4

As a lefty, I'm totally fine with UKIP being a "major political party". Split that right-wing vote, I dare you!