* Posts by phuzz

6356 posts • joined 23 Feb 2010

Scientists unveil a physics-defying curved space robot

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Re: Flat out wrong

A better way to phrase it would have been "GPS systems must take into account the slight gravity-induced timing shifts in order to achieve accurate positioning".

I remember an anecdote (which I can't find anywhere), that one of the original US Military customers for GPS wasn't sure about this new-fangled Relativity thing, and asked for the option to disable the compensation. They found (as predicted) that the clocks on the GPS satellites run about 38ms faster per day than clocks on the Earth's surface, which gives you a compounding position error of about 10km (per day!). The "take Relativity into account" fix was left turned on.

(This is a combination of the relativistic time dilation due to the satellites moving fast, relative to the ground. This slows down the clocks by 7ms. And the dilation due to being in slightly lower gravity, which makes the clocks run 45ms faster, hence 38ms fast overall.

And all this is without the very slight changes in signal propagation caused by changes in the atmosphere, perturbations in the satellites' orbits etc. etc. GPS requires a wide spread of different parts of physics)

A quick back-of-the-envelope calculation tells me that the very first GPS satellite is a whole 0.6 seconds older than a ground spare by now!

'I wonder what this cable does': How to tell thicknet from a thickhead

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Re: colour me sceptical

That's like saying a USB type A connector isn't compatible with an RJ45 Ethernet socket.

It's not going to do anything, but a sufficiently motivated user can definitely jam the USB plug in there.

And then complain that their network isn't working...

DoE digs up molten salt nuclear reactor tech, taps Los Alamos to lead the way back

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Re: REstart?

Presumably if you poured it out into a thin enough sheet, it would lose enough neutrons out of the top and bottom, to no longer be self-sustaining?

Yeah, we'll just take that first network handshake. What could possibly go wrong?

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Part of a 'Change Management System' is managing people. In the article's case,a "phone number to call if something weird happens" should have been available, or even just instructions on how to stop the new process.

Hope for success, but always have a plan for failure.

Lockheed Martin wins $213m contract to update F-35 datacenter

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Re: eff-35s

Congratulations, you got about 90% of that anecdote is completely wrong.

When the UK decided that the best aircraft to use as an air defence fighter was the Tornado ground-attack aircraft, they went to Marconi for a air-to-air radar, (with Ferranti providing some parts.)

As with basically all defence projects, it was late, but in order for a plane to fly, it has to be balanced, and so in place of the unfinished radar, the first Tornado F2 jets flew with a concrete ballast where the radar should be. This garnered the nickname of "Blue Circle" radar, because there was a famous brand of cement called Blue Circle, also, various MoD projects used 'rainbow' codenames, which began with a colour (eg, Blue Cedar, or Blue Danube).

Anti-piracy messaging may just encourage more piracy

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Re: Gross overestimates don't help either

The opposite is true as well.

When Apple made it really easy to buy music via iTunes, sales went up, and piracy went down.

When Amazon made it really easy to buy ebooks, sales went up, and piracy went down.

When Netflix made it easy to stream TV and movies, you've guessed it, piracy went down. Except that now every company is trying to start their own streaming service, (meaning it's complicated to find the service that has the show you want to watch, and expensive to subscribe to), people are once more going back to piracy.

Most people will quite happily pay a 'fair' price for media, if it's easy and convenient. If it's not easy, convenient and cheap, they'll just go straight to piracy which is always quite easy, fairly convenient, and above all, free.

Like Ubuntu, just a bit less hassle: Linux Mint 21 'Vanessa'

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Re: Not only a beginners Linux

Instructions written for Ubuntu almost always work unchanged for Mint.

That's the important bit right there. Not only do instructions work, basically any software made for Ubuntu (ie, most linux software) will also work unchanged.

I'm managing a whole bunch of Mint desktops at work and it's pretty straight forward.

Suspected radiation alert saboteurs cuffed by cops after sensors disabled

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Re: Occam's never ever applies to people

Rather than Occam, a better razor to use here is Hanlon's:

"never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity."

Maybe they were shit at their job, accidentally deleted the control app, and they were actually trying to log into the sensors to fix them before their boss noticed, but fucked it up even worse?

A character catastrophe for a joker working his last day

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Re: Nothing so severe

A landlord of one of our local pubs would play Irish folk music to get everyone to leave.

Well, to get the tourists to leave. He knew that there was no way to get rid of the locals, so we'd just close the curtains and have a lock-in.

Upgrading what might be the world's oldest running Linux install

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Chiark also hosts a good Minesweeper clone, which only presents you with guaranteed solvable maps.

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Re: I don't believe in the Windows reinstall

My Windows install has been through every version from Vista onwards, up until a motherboard failure prompted a clean install.

We've got a photocopier and it can copy anything

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Re: modern technology will prevent such counterfeiting efforts

In the UK this use case is covered by people using the NFC in their phone linked to a bank account/card. That way merchants can still use the same terminals they use for credit/debit cards, and the punter just has to carry their phone.

I'm assuming this would also work with contactless terminals in other countries too.

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Re: Years ago....

Not tried it with just a house number but:

7 Fake St


Is all you need in a city.

Dev's code manages to topple Microsoft's mighty SharePoint

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Re: It's still going on

The trouble is, your user name will probably come out fine, (because both en-GB and en-US use qwerty). That means there's no way to notice that the computer is using a different map than the keyboard you're using, so you'll blithely type @ when you thought you pressed ".

Almost as much fun as trying to set up a computer in French, when you only have a UK keyboard.

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Re: It's still going on

Bouncing around between different OS's has taught me to only use alphanumerics in file names, and maybe a - or _ (if I'm feeling fancy).

It's the same with passwords, eg, I don't have a £ in a password, in case I end up having to try and logon to a machine with a US keyboard layout. (and yes, I have had that problem)

Tories spar over UK's delayed Online Safety Bill

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Re: Authoritarianism

socialist-type mindset

So we're blaming this on Corbyn as well then? Those perfidious reds, always causing mischief!

Of course, that this law is being proposed by Conservative politicians just shows how insidious these communists really are.

These centrifugal moon towers could be key to life off-planet

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Re: Bonkers video

Mind you, all that water would make a great radiation shield in just the place you'd want one.

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Re: Not practical

The idea of a space station rotating to produce artificial gravity dates to Von Braun (helped by illustrator Chelsey Bonestell) in the early 50s

Werner always did have good PR, however, Tsiolkovsky (of the 'Tsiolkovsky rocket equation') wrote about rotating habitats in 1903, and it wasn't even a new idea then.

Watch a RAID rebuild or go to a Christmas party? Tough choice

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Re: RAID is not backup.

But it's this moment when you find out that the remaining power supply can't actually cope with all the load, and fails hard.

Had this on a blade enclosure that had four supposedly-redundant PSUs. I pulled the power out of one PSU to move it to a different UPS, the enclosure tried to shunt all the load to one of the other PSUs, which promptly failed. It claimed to be 1200W, but only worked ok up until about 300W...

NOBODY PRINT! Selfless hero saves typing pool from carbon catastrophe

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Re: Why do anything?

I've come across a surprising large number of people who type capital letters in the following way:

1) press Caps Lock

2) type letter

3) disengage Caps Lock

I'm not sure what they did when they needed a symbol like !. Possibly just type 'Exclamation Mark'

Misguided call for a 7-Zip boycott brings attention to FOSS archiving tools

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Exactly. If I'm writing (eg) a backup script then obviously I'll be using the command line version, but if I just need one file out of an archive, and I can't quite remember the name, then it's GUI all the way.

PowerShell pusher to log off from Microsoft: Write-Host "Bye bye, Jeffrey Snover"

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Re: Enjoy your retirement Jeffrey

The with the next release IIS suddenly gained the ability to use a config file, which was quite the coincidence...

Say what you like about Microsoft, but their 'dogfood-ing' policy does often work.

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Re: I decided I was going to be in all in on this automation technology and was demoted

I wonder how much of the GUI/CLI split is down to how different people remember information?

Personally, if I've not used a command for a a few months, I've generally forgotten the syntax and have to look it up. Exact text just doesn't stick in my brain.

On the other hand, my spatial memory is good, so I can use a GUI I've not touched for years and still find the option I need. Even when the GUI has changed it doesn't slow me down much because I've got some memory of all the other GUIs I've come across and can make an educated guess of where best to look. Plus the first thing I do in any new software is find the settings and see what I can change.

Is computer vision the cure for school shootings? Likely not

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Knives are inherently less dangerous than guns, which is obvious when you look at the numbers of people killed in mass stabbings, compared to mass shootings.

NASA's mini-spacecraft CAPSTONE just launched on its journey to the Moon

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Re: Electron rocket, Proton engines...

The innovative part is that they're using electric pumps to pressurise the fuel going into the engine, which makes it drastically more simple and reliable.

Hence the name 'Electron' for the first stage. As the 1st stage engine is named "Rutherford", and the second stage engine is named "Curie", naming the rockets themselves after elementary particles is an obvious step.

You need to RTFM, but feel free to use your brain too

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Re: Check you can complete before you start

The exam was looking for people who could follow buried instructions without question. So if you're quibbling about the instructions you're not the kind of person the RAF was looking for (for this role).

The perfect crime – undone by the perfect email backups

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It does make me wonder how to cope if you have data that falls under GDPR or similar laws. If a customer wants you to delete their account, do you have to go through all the backups and remove it there too?

Don't ditch PowerShell to improve security, say infosec agencies from UK, US, and NZ

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Re: Good

Mate, as it happens I prefer using PowerShell to Bash, but this was clearly just an extended joke.

(Although I did learn about the *nix command yes, which quite frankly made me like PS more).

phuzz Silver badge

Re: Good

I feel that

unzip; touch; grep; mount; fsck; more; yes; fsck; fsck; umount; clean; sleep

is slightly more poetic than

Expand-Archive; New-Item; Mount-DiskImage; Select-String; Repair-Volume; Get-Content; -Force; Repair-Volume; Dismount-DiskImage; Clear-Host; Start-Sleep

but each to their own.

BOFH: HR's gold mine gambit – they get the gold and we get the shaft

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Favourite CPU socket?

For me it would have to be Socket 754, as used by AMD's first ground-breaking Athlon 64 CPUs. Fine pin pitch, the perfectly proportioned hole in the middle, and a very satisfying mechanical clamping when you lower the lever, just brilliant.

Never been a fan of LGA sockets :(

Know the difference between a bin and /bin unless you want a new doorstop

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I was fixing an Outlook problem on my boss's laptop. I noticed he had a huge Deleted Items folder, so I decided to be helpful and empty it.

(Bare in mind that as head of IT he was a very technical person, and the only reason I was fixing the problem was that he had to go to a meeting.)

It turned out that his email filing 'system' was to delete any not immediately-relevant email, but leave them in the bin just in case he needed them later. Fortunately he understood that this was a carzy system, so he forgave me for deleting what was effectively his 'inbox'.

(I hope you have a better system now Malc!)

SpaceX staff condemn Musk's behavior in open letter

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Re: I'm split

The day-to-day boss of SpaceX is Gwynne Shotwell, and she doesn't fit either of those categories.

Nothing says 2022 quite like this remote-controlled machine gun drone

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Re: smart or stupid

But most people are more likely to encounter one rather than the other.

Password recovery from beyond the grave

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Re: Not happened to me, but

I've made sure my mum has written down her passwords etc. in a notebook. Potentially useful for me in the (hopefully) distant future, but also handy for her if she forgets one.

Consultant plays Metaverse MythBuster. Here's why they're wrong

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Re: Holodeck

For reference this is what it took a couple of years ago to generate the virtual sets for The Madalorian (although it's a bit light on the nitty gritty tech details so if anyone knows of a deeper dive I'd love to read it):

Bear in mind, the image isn't static, it's changed so that the parallax looks correct from the camera's PoV

It takes 11 interlinked computers to serve the images to the wall. Three processors are dedicated to real-time rendering and four servers provide three 4K images seamlessly side-by-side on the wall and one 4K image on the ceiling. That delivers an image size of 12,288 pixels wide by 2,160 high on the wall and 4,096 x 2,160 on the ceiling. With that kind of imagery, however, the full 270 degrees (plus movable back LED walls) and ceiling cannot be rendered high-resolution photo-real in real time. The compromise is to enter in the specific lens used on the camera into the system so that it renders a photo-real high-resolution image only for the camera's specific field of view at that given moment while the rest of the screen displays a lower-resolution image that is perfectly effective for interactive lighting and reflections on the talent, props and physical sets, but of a simpler polygon count for faster rendering times.


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Re: Holodeck

Part of the reason it was so necessary for The Mandalorian was that shiny armour he wears.

With a traditional green screen they'd have to CGI in all the correct reflections onto the reflected green. With screens all the way around, most of the reflections will be close enough to not need touching up.

512 disk drives later, Floppotron computer hardware orchestra hits v3.0

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We've got a (fairly worn out) Utlimaker 2 at work which has pretty loud servos. You can hear what shape the head is drawing from the different sounds because the x and y axis have slightly different tones. A curve will produce a rising and then falling tone (or vice versa), diagonals at different angles are different chords etc.

If someone with more electronics ability than me wired straight into the servos (or motor controllers?) they could certainly coax some tunes out of it.

Or now I think about it, it should be possible to design a 3D shape, which also played a tune as it printed. Although if you wanted it to actually be a printable shape then your tune would have to have a repeating structure with new sounds being introduced slowly.

Fun idea now I think about it.

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Re: 512 drives?

It's so that he had enough to make a keyboard motif out of the black and beige drives ;)

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Re: A pint and a memory

He does mention in the write up that instead of every floppy drive in a bank playing a single tone, he changes how many are playing over the course of the note to approximate a guitar, or piano etc.

I guess that sort of makes it a synthesizer, but as you say, that's the whole point!

The drives are grouped in columns by the software and the whole column can only play one tone at a time, but with varying number of drives playing. By changing the number of active drives I can make the tone volume change over time and mimic piano keystrokes or plucking guitar string which volume decays exponentially. The envelope can also be used to get other nice sounding effects, like vibration (sinusoidal envelope), etc.

From here

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Maybe we should update it to; "Them Wot Must Be Obeyed" aka TWMBO's.

Twimbos has a I nice ring to it I think.

Internet Explorer 11 limps to the end of Windows 10 road

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This weekend, on my home computer (running Windows 10), I was getting annoyed by security dialogues popping up when I was trying to copy stuff from my NAS.

The official MS solution? Go into Control Panel (itself already an anachronism), and access 'Internet settings', AKA, the original Internet Explorer settings program.

I'm pretty sure there's not even any installed version of Internet Explorer on that PC, but Microsoft integrated it so deeply that it's control panel is still there. Probably still in Win 11 too.

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We have an old laptop, which lives in the server room, and has a battery life of <10s, and which has all the old software for talking to UPS's, network switches, iLO's etc.

It's a piece of shit, but it's staying until we get to retire the very last of the kit that relies on it.

France levels up local video game slang with list of French terms to replace foreign words

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Re: Now that is a fine example of administrative busybodies

As far as I can tell, the Quebecois try and remove every English word from their language, rendering it comic or indecipherable to French speakers.

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Re: "French guy here"

English isn't a language!

It's at least three languages in a trenchcoat.

Capita to see wave of UK government contracts come to an end by 2025

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Re: Ahh the talented government

I guess in a Communist country it's all technically "our money". Maybe that's what OP meant?


Sick of Windows but can't afford a Mac? Consult our cynic's guide to desktop Linux

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Re: choose how the OS will annoy you

Not sure you deserve those downvotes, unless people are taking exception to the word "quality".

For most people, the question they ask about a new OS is "can I run xyz?", and with Linux the answer is usually "well, x runs fine, there's v instead of y but it works identically, however instead of z you'll have to use s which does similar stuff but in a completely different way".

Personally I enjoy learning new software, but most people do not.

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Re: Home workhorse

I wouldn't spec a laptop/desktop with less than 8GB of RAM these days with any OS.

Not because of OS bloat, but because 4GB isn't enough RAM to fit an OS and a modern web browser (connecting to modern websites).

I'm right in the middle of a project upgrading a whole bunch of desktops that were quite happily running Linux Mint on 4GB of RAM to 8GB purely because the users are having to access more 'responsive' websites (which are anything but).

Or I suppose I could run a different web browser which isn't compatible with those sites, that's not really a solution in a business though.

Keeping your head as an entire database goes pear-shaped

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A good explanation of this is "Smashing The Stack For Fun And Profit" from Phrack 49.

The technical details are slightly outdated (it's from 1996), but the basic concepts are as relevant as ever.

Beijing needs the ability to 'destroy' Starlink, say Chinese researchers

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I'm going to guess that whatever the US special forces use is probably bloody expensive. Starlink+cellphone gives the Ukrainians some of the capabilities at a far lower cost, so they can equip far more people with it.

As Stalin may have said; "Quantity has a quality all of it's own".

Ex-spymaster and fellow Brexiteers' emails leaked by suspected Russian op

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Re: some dodgy plotting

To be pedantic, turnout was 72% (which is pretty good for a UK vote), 28% of people did not vote at all, and so technically the majority of Britons did not vote to leave.


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