* Posts by I ain't Spartacus

9123 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009

Hubble Space Telescope sails serenely on in safe mode after efforts to switch to backup memory modules fail

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Re: Sounds like Hubble's software needs an update

There are different levels of safe mode - and also different levels of desperation. In general, if they're nto sure what's going on, they tend to not do anything but testing on the backup hardware on the ground, until they are. Hence these problems tend to get fixed slowly.

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Re: Now I'm just an old duffer when it comes to space tech but...

They'd also want boring things like oxygen and food.

Plus the suits on the ISS are old and not functioning in tip-top order anymore. Which is less of a problem when you're only a few feet from an airlock, than when you're off on a space jaunt.

Just because you've got the fuel to cover the distance, doesn't mean you're going very fast.

The next technology we need to make satellite repair viable, is some sort of in-orbit taxi. Something you can re-use and refuel - and 2 astronauts can live in for a few weeks. But to get that, you need spare crew in space that can be sent off on such jaunts, plus refuelling and repair capacity - to keep them working. I guess we're going to try some of this with the lunar gateway - but it all still seems quite a long way off with government space programmes.

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Happy

Re: Nothing lasts these days

The problem with steam is that the space-stokers would probably have gone on strike way before now, due to a lack of space-hookers.

We should have used horses.

Now that China has all but banned cryptocurrencies, GPU prices are falling like Bitcoin

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Re: I am no lover of the Chinese political system

The problem isn't China banning Bitcoin, as you say. That seems a pretty good thing.

However China's new digital currency - not so much. Sure it'll be better for the environment, but it's also designed to let the government track everything you do. If you read about what they've been doing in Xinjiang, for example, that should really worry you.

Apparently, if you're a foreigner (or exile), the way to learn that one of your loved ones has been in a concentration camp for 6 months is a text message praising Xi Jinping about a year after they get out. So they'll disappear, and you'll not be able to get news of them. They only get out if they toe the party line, say all the right things in political re-education lessons and do their slave labour properly.

But they also have their mobile phones taken off them. They're only allowed a Party controlled mobile once released. Clearly talking to foreigners is suspicious behaviour, and they're liable to end up back in the camps if they do that. So apparently what you do is wait a reasonable time, showing how good you are with your monitored communications device (if you don't use it every day that's equally suspicious - that you've got an safe phone). So after keeping your nose clean for a bit, you can now contact your friend abroad, so apparently the code for "I've been in a camp and am on a compromised device" is to send them a party slogan. But at least they know you're alive. And hopefully won't get re-arrested.

Foxconn builds stuff for everyone. Now it finds vaccines for Taiwan, and TSMC's chipped in, too

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Re: Well one thing's for sure

DS999,

I strongly suspect that this pandemic is going to end up saving more lives than it costs - simply by having accelerated the adoption, testing and commercialisation of mRNA vaccines by 5-10 years.

BioNtech, who'd admittedly been researching coronavirus vaccines already, got the genetic sequence of the virus from China and had the vaccine protein designed within an evening. The rest was "just" testing and logistics.

Which I suspect means that in the next 2-3 years we're going to have an awful lot of vaccines for diseases where it would previously have been too expensive (and/or complex) to get vaccines out the door. Plus an awareness of how cheap and amazing vaccines are from donor governments.

To its credid, the UK government has been banging this drum internationally for 20 years, and has been one of the main funders - we also upped that funding last year, not just for coronoavirus, but for the next decade. If only a few other rich governments join in, it could make a big difference. But also the prices are coming down, so billionaires like Buffet could make a significant difference with just a few billion.

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Re: Well one thing's for sure

AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson are selling the vaccines at cost. So there'll be no huge jumps in their profits. So it's mostly Moderna and Pfizer/BioNtech that'll be laughing all the way to the bank.

Although they were also the first two to get doses out the door at scale, with AZ and Sinopharm just behind. And I'd imagine they'll have to cut their prices, when selling to the developing world. As production is still increasing rapidly, there's going to be a lot of vaccines around towards the end of this year, beginning of next.

UK gets glowing salute from Bezos-backed General Fusion: Nuclear energy company to build plant in Oxfordshire

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Happy

Re: Hang on

The Farnsworth fusor

Isn't that one of the cars from the Wacky Races?

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Boffin is the approved El Reg terminology.

Although there is debate as to whether a true boffin can be said to exist in a lab environment, as opposed to its native habitat - the shed. But I believe that even pipes and sheds are merely paraphanalia, for true boffinry is a state of mind...

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Re: Hang on

ITER is running behind schedule. But I think it's more that there's a bunch of different research ideas in fusion being tried at various scales at the moment, and many of them are relying on different methods.

Given the pay-out if any one of these succeeds, some people clearly think it's worth a bit of funding on the off-chance of mega profits.

Whether this means that fusion research has got better, or just better at selling ideas that eventually don't work, is another matter.

Playmobil crosses the final frontier with enormous, metre-long Enterprise playset

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Re: tribbles, how to remove?

ShadowSystems,

Why thank you. But I wasn't asking about hot rhino on rhino action. Sweet, sweet rhino love does not appeal to me. But hot, hot rhino tapdancing - now that's another thing entirely...

I am aware that dancing is merely the vertical expression of a horizontal desire - but seeing rhino-porn is too likely to lead to mother-in-law jokes. And then I'll have to cancel myself - and it would all be just too sad.

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Happy

Re: But, but but!...

In its short history Firefly also did space toilets. Very important, and under-appreciated, aspect of science fiction.

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Happy

Re: tribbles, how to remove?

Shadow Systems,

To change the subject slightly, I would be very interested to see the footage you have of riverdancing rhinos.

Mayflower, the AI ship sent to sail from the UK to the US with no humans, made it three days before breaking down

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Happy

Re: Idiots

I can imagine a hammer being taken to the camera.

Ah, good old percussive maintenance. Is there any problem it can't fix?

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Happy

I'm totally fine with having to smile to get into meetings. Perfect excuse to avoid them - sorry boss, couldn't get past the door guardian.

But things can take an even more sinister turn, when said door-control system is also put on the break room or the toilets. The the shit really might hit the fan...

Stob treks back across the decades to review the greatest TV sci-fi in the light of recent experience

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Perhaps it's happy about being a rock?

BOFH: When the Sun rises in the West and sets in the East, only then will the UPS cease to supply uninterrupted voltage

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Thumb Up

Re: What a revolting story!

Groan, obviously.

But a massive thumbs up for "Sent 'Ohm". Top work!

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Happy

Re: Poor cyclist

I actually found my shiny new 80386 at 25 MHz with a Cyrix 387 co-processor and a whole 8 MB of RAM outpaced the big hulking beast by quite a margin.

I bet that's not true.

I'm sure your pooter got the simulations done in less time. But when it came to rolling down a hill, my money's still on the lumbering old VAX.

Also copes better with the inevitable interactions with cyclists...

Roger Waters tells Facebook CEO to Zuck off after 'huge' song rights request

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Happy

This is an IT rag. Sure, but even after years of Brain Damage reading it, you should be Comfortably Numb to the fact that Bootnotes exists? El Reg have got to make Money after all, and they also cover Astronomy Domine.

So just relax, Breathe, don't have too High Hopes, and feel Welcome to the Machine.

FYI: There's a human-less, AI robot Mayflower ship sailing from the UK to US right now

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Hmmm. MAYFLOWER?

Surely MAS isn't trying very hard.

Marine

Autonomous

Yacht

Floating

Leftwards

Over

Water

Enabling

Research

How's that?

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Headmaster

Re: Units

Are you sure that the measure of skateboarding rhinoceri is correct? After all, just adding the average weight of a rhino to that of a skatebaord, isn't going to cut it. You're going to need to find the weight of a sufficiently strengthened and enlarged skateboard - which is likely to be significant. Thus it might only be 2.5skbr...

UK spends £36m on 18 little 'bullet-proof' boats to protect Royal Navy assets

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Happy

Re: Well tried and comprehensively already field tested .....

Why park next to a cabin cruiser? Just blow it out of the water, and take it's dock - thus saving you an extra 50 steps before getting to the G&Ts.

As the saying goes:

Q. Where do you park a 50 tonne tank?

A. Anywhere you bloody well like.

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Re: £2 million each?

It's military procurement. Roll a 6-sided die and add that number of zeroes to the end of the price you first thought of.

Though nowadays military headline prices also often include the cost of the maintenenance support and sometimes even midlife upgrades. But the press don't bother to mention that, as they like big numbers and not quite telling the truth.

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Re: Feh.

Weren't these the ones that were effectively giant floating bombs, considering they mostly consisted of engine and fuel tanks? Very effective and fast though.

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Re: Feh.

The SAS "found" a warehouse full of the aircraft mounts in Cairo in about 1941. And "borrowed" a few to stick on their jeeps.

Then again, when "liberating" some equipment from a New Zealand division who happend to have more stuff than them - they were rumoured to have also nicked a piano out of the officers mess, to go with the tents, cooking gear etc.

If it ain't nailed down...

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Re: Well tried and comprehensively already field tested .....

Military procurement can get a bit fraught with any foreign supplier. For example during the first war with Iraq in 1990 - sanctioned by the UN security council and involving a massive coalition of about 50 countries to defend Saudi and then retake Kuwait. The army used FN rifles, and the Belgian government banned all arms exports to the UK (a NATO ally), because Belgium was staying neutral - so we couldn't get spares and extra ammo. I'm sure that's not the only time it's happened, just the first that came to mind.

Plus buying local creates jobs, and they notice, whereas the taxpayers don't always get told that buying foreign off-the-shelf is sometimes cheaper. Then again, off-the-shelf so often turns out to be a lie, as the military want the thing customised to their own personal requirements, thus doubling the price before anyone's noticed...

Google's diversity strat lead who said Jews have 'insatiable appetite for war' is no longer diversity strat lead

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Re: "Diversity"

I am deeply offended, on behalf of the entire poo poo head community! On copro-kopfs, as we prefer to be known.

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Devil

Re: "Diversity"

In the spirit of diversity, I disagree.

And also you should shut up, or be made to do so, for daring to disagree with me!

The Epic vs Apple trial is wrapping up, but the battle has just begun

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Re: Anyone remembered that Epic have their own store?

If they give a discount for being exclusive, then maybe not so much?

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Re: Tim Cook has no idea of how much money the App store makes? Really?

There are such things as management accountants. And large companies use them, precisely so they can estimate such cost breakdowns. After all, they need to know that an individual department is making a profit, or they'll stop doing it or sell it off.

When I worked in the finance department of a US multi-national, our management accountants regularly tested each business unit not only that it was making a profit, but that it made a larger return than just putting the money it cost into government or corporate bonds. And if not, it had to be justified why it was either worth doing anyway, or would make more money in future.

When and where to see the Super Blood Moon in a total lunar eclipse this week

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Coat

Re: Oh come *on*...

The performance of said 4-incher will be considerably improved by lubrication and a good mounting.

China's Digital Yuan not aimed at challenging US dollar, says former People’s Bank governor

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Re: "Replacing the US dollar’s role in international trade is not China’s plan"

China would really struggle to replace the dollar. Because having a major international currency has costs as well as benefits. Yes, you have seignorage, which means you can print money and make a small profit - because loads more people want to hold that money. But when you reissue your notes with new designs - you also have to pay to print loads more, because so many are in circulation. You also have to slightly tailor your interest rate decisions, because they have so much more of a global effect. But you can also have more leverage on international businesses in other countries, if they want to trade in dollars. So there's a lot going on.

At the moment China don't even let people freely trade in Yuan. They have exchange and capital controls to try and stop people from getting money out of China - and actually this is one of the reasons they are clamping down on Bitcoin. Because that could be used to circumvent those controls, hence replacing it with their own electronic system. If you can tempt even some people away from Bitcoin by doing that, then you make things harder for the rest - who want to use it to get money out.

China have also been running financial repression for years. This is an economic term, not a political one. It's what our Central Banks have been doing on-and-off since 2008 too. Keep interest rates below inflation, and that forces people to either lose money saving, or invest their money at higher risk, which will hopefully grow the economy faster than if everyone just saved in banks. Or of course persuade them to spend, rather than losing value. In our case it was QE and zero interest rates to avoid post crash (and then Covid) deflation. In China's it's because they have so little healthcare and benefits, so Chinese people have to save for that sort of thing, and old age - and therefore the savings rate was so high that Chinese domestic demand was lower than the Party liked - in order to generate economic growth. As was shown up by the crash in 2007 - where their export markets collapsed.

Since then, if not before, China has been suffering from capital flight. Business people (and Party bosses with their ill-gotten gains), wanting to keep a safe nest-egg abroad. Safe from being seized by the Party - and so China's Central Bank has actually been intervening on the money markets to stop the Yuan from falling in value - not manipulating the currency down as Trump kept complaining. They stopped doing that in about 2005. But you can't be an international reserve currency if you won't let foreigners hold your currency, or let your own people sell it - and it's also pretty tricky to do if you want to control the exchange rates.

An actress, an internet billionaire, and Tom Cruise walk into a space station ... not necessarily at the same time

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Happy

Re: a good pizza chef

It's the act of spinning it that stretches is. If you can spin it sufficiently fast, some of the dough moves to the edges and stretches the rest - you've created your own "gravity". Just like the space station in 2001.

Can we make a pizza large enough for astronauts to both live on, and eat? We'd have to site it close enough to the Sun to cook it, but the astronauts could live in a shelter made of pineapple.

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Devil

Re: Pizza from space

The US military have a pizza option in their field rations. It's heat in the bag with a three year shelf-life. What more could you ask for?

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Coat

I'm very disappointed

How could the Russians let us down so badly!

If you're going to send an actress into space, the other person should surely be a bishop.

As in, "that's a might big rocket, said the actress to the..." Well, I'm sure you get it - and yes I'm getting my coat.

Cloudflare launches campaign to ‘end the madness’ of CAPTCHAs

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Re: I just walk away

clue: Weary Postman?

1st letter T

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Devil

I'll do it. I can't see properly (c. 5% of normal vision), and am not allowed to drive due to the danger to other road users. So I'd be perfect for Uber's self-driving car program...

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Re: Hardware dongles?

And I really do wonder, what is the alternative for the visually impaired? There's sometimes a bunch on grainy pictures that I have a hard time to correctly identify. Now if you see less than I do, or just nothing at all....

Hello. The visually impaired here. Or at least one of them. Google at least have an alternative - it's an audio CAPTCHA. I don't think I've ever got one right though, and I have perfect hearing. So the answer is to repeatedly poke at the photo ones, until I guess right. I'd say I average somewhere between two and three goes. It would certainly help if their pictures were a bit bigger. Or less shit. Or less confusing. Or less low resolution and grainy. Or badly cropped so you've got a tiny sliver of what might be a bicycyle/traffic light (sorry, stop light)/car on the edge of the picture, hidden amongst the bushes. But I'm fucked if I can see what it is.

It is also interesting/ironic that I'm training the computers for Google's self-driving cars - which are allowed to drive, when I'm not...

Can't see the hassle of maintaining (and carrying around) some sort of identity dongle is going to be any lower though. At least for me. If you're totally blind, or deaf/blind I don't know how you handle it.

I await the comments from Shadow Systems, when he comes across this thread. Containing robust Anglo-Saxon language, no doubt...

You can listen right here to the whir of a robot helicopter flying on an alien world

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Happy

Re: Duty Free on Mars ?

You're correct. There are no taxes. However, while the cigarettes and booze are incredibly cheap, postage and packing does sting a little...

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Re: Great flight

Don't worry. The luggage has already been delivered to Venus.

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Happy

Re: Turned everything up to 11

If you listen really carefully, you can hear the Ride of the Valkyries coming out of the helicopter's speakers.

Researchers say objects can hide from computer vision by seeking out unusual company that trips correlation bias

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Happy

Re: Makes AI seem almost human

Is that why sat navs have to be programmed to say, "bear left"?

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Happy

Re: Rule 34

What? Is there porn about putting pineapples on pizza?

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Re: There may be regional differences to consider...

Hubert Cumberdale,

What? Scones without jam? Nooooooo! Thin layer of raspberry on the scone, and then very large dollop of clotted cream on top. One shouldn't spread the cream, so much as squash it flat-ish with the spoon so that you can fit it in your mouth easily.

This is why the cream can't go on first, because then the jam will slide off the top.

I'm bringing greed to the jam/cream debate, and therefore there's only one way to go. Jam, followed by CREAM!!

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Re: Hawaiian Pizza - why not?

Anonymous for exceptionally obvious reason

I'm not scared. Pinapple on a pizza with ham on is lovely. Hey! I'm a child of 1970s England. Pineapple on grilled ham was the height of sophistication! That's a garnish, that is...

My Mum's idea of cooking a curry around 1980 was some curry powder (no chilli, cumin, garam masala, ginger, garlic etc) added to a chicken stew - and then further to add raisins or dried apricot. Thus imbuing it with the savour of the mysterious East...

However I do still think that ham and pineapple go quite well together. My favourite pizza is a proper Fiorentina (spinach and egg) or just something simple with lots of mozarella and tomato. But if I'm having Dominoes, which is already covered in a weirdly sweet tomato sauce, why not bung some pineapple and ham on as well?

The Starship has landed. Latest SpaceX test comes back to Earth without igniting fireballs

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Re: Yes but!

Everyone should know where their towel is.

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I'm not flying now, and I'm fine. The problem is the sudden stop, in the transition from one state to the other.

Unless you can perfect the art of throwing yourself at the ground, and missing.

Crane horror Reg reader uses his severed finger to unlock Samsung Galaxy phone

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Simon says it’s yours!

Be well.

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Coat

Re: severed finger unlocker

Mage,

Do you unlock your phone with that Even in the office?

I've heard that biometrics is a growing field - with stiff challenges to overcome in order to solve some hard problems and offer protection from infection.

OK, OK, I'll get my coat. The long, dirty one with the suspicious rubber items in the pockets please.

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Re: Not all fingers are equal?

Mum sometimes has that problem on her phone - but seemingly not her iPad.

I'm in my mid 40s, and if I've just been washing up, or just got out of the shower, so all the oils have been washed out of the skin in my hands and the skin is totally dry - I sometimes find it takes a couple of goes to make the smartphone screen work. Or I have to hold my thumb flat, to have a larger surface area in contact, rather than just brushing the end over the screen.

As I understand it, our skin loses conductivity as we age. But I've had success suggesting to Mum that she use the flat part of the finger or thumb, instead of the end. It seems to give the screen more to detect.

I suspect there may also be an issue with some panels being less sensitive - though equally it could be software.

If you're the 1% and have 10 mins to spare this July, bid for a place on first Blue Origin space tourism launch

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Flame

Re: I think it's a great idea

But think how cool the stories would be - about how you'd been saved by the escape tower, and were now a steely-eyed missile man.

Like that guy who paid to be in the 2 seater Minardi F1 car. With Nigel Mansell driving round Donnington I think. He was supposed to impressively pass Alonso in the actual F1 car on the final corner, for pretty pictures on the main strait. But Alonso had other ideas and punted him off - so the guy got to spin at 150mph down a strait. Who else does he know that can top that story?

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