* Posts by Brewster's Angle Grinder

2265 posts • joined 23 May 2011

We spent billions building atom smashers – and now boffins think nature's doing the same thing for free?

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Re: Fascinating stuff

"It does beg the question of whether it might even be possible for the speed of sound to be faster than the speed of light.

In order for a pressure wave to pass through a medium, the particles have to react to each other. That reaction---the force that causes them to move---is typically communicated through light (photons) so particles can't react to each other faster than photons can shuffle between them.

Light isn't the only option. But all massless bosons (e.g. gluons) are limited to the speed of light. And massive particles always travel slower than massless ones. So particles can't react faster to each other than light can move between them. And if they can't react faster than light, then a sound wave can't propagate faster than light.

There are probably issues close to the Planck scale. But I'm not sure they apply here.

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A mechanical pressure wave nearly always makes sense and is a useful physical property of a medium.

Nice wallpaper you've got there. It would be a shame if it bricked your phone

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In the good ol' days, we'd have written all over the stack and it'd've worked fine - mostly...

Well there's this new-fangled thing called automatic bounds checking. If you try to access an out of range index it throws an exception and your code catches... Oh.

Well, the worst that can happen is it safely takes out the process without corrupting memory. It can then be restarted and... Oh.

Maybe we do need to think about this a bit more carefully. This error checking stuff is quite hard, isn't it?

cmd.exe is dead, long live PowerShell: Microsoft leads aged command-line interpreter out into 'maintenance mode'

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Who the hell uses a cmd.exe? Surely your text editor has a command-line that does everything you need? Or, at a push, you use bash on the linux subsystem.

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Re: It's verbose, but logical... usually...

I'm wanted to find out what version of powershell I have. So I opened it up and tried ver (the cmd.exe equivalent), and then version and help, all with no luck. I had to hit google to find out it's Get-Host. As newbie, it wasn't the thing that popped into my head.

Linus Torvalds drops Intel and adopts 32-core AMD Ryzen Threadripper on personal PC

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Re: AMD Dreams

Itanium was a mixture of second system syndrome and a genuine attempt to overcome the limitations of x86. But in the end, it failed even on technical grounds - it just didn't perform. It relies heavily on static analysis which is very inflexible. Run-time analysis enables you to have completely different cores optimising the code for the resources they have without recompilation.

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Re: New PC

Was that a sin off?

Apple, Google begin to spread pro-privacy, batt-friendly coronavirus contact-tracing API for phone apps

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Re: "the politically fraught task of policing home-grown implementations"


I propose we take the "App" from Apple and the "le" from Google and make the portmanteau for the the combined Apple-Google collective: LeApp.

If you're appy and you know it: The Huawei P40 Pro conclusively proves that top-notch specs aren't everything

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Re: Chocolate teapot

"It's the functionality they want..."

But the functionality they want is to join Whatsapp or Zoom conversations and to (apparently) access Google Drive natively and all the other functionality apps provide...

You overstepped and infringed British sovereignty, Court of Appeal tells US in software companies' copyright battle

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For all its faults, the law stops us turning into an elected dictatorship. The law can and does constrain the government. Notable examples include the government's attempt at prorogation and the time I beat the government in court myself.

Penny smart and dollar stupid: IT jobs slashed in US, UK, Europe to cut costs – just when we need staff the most

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Re: Worst case scenario

Out of interest, did you ever raise the potential for a global pandemic to shut down the world economy?

What do you call megabucks Microsoft? No really, it's not a joke. El Reg needs you

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Re: Big Grey

I was going to say "Big Flaccid".

But "Bit Flaccid" is almost a direct translation of their name and a summary of their current corporate position.

Nervous, Adobe? It took 16 years, but open-source vector graphics editor Inkscape now works properly on macOS

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I can't get on with Inkscape; I've tried quite hard but it doesn't work the way I work. I had the same problem with CorelDraw and most CorelDraw derived software. Inkscape is also missing a few critical features.

Gimp I get on with a lot better - it's consistent and where it's incompatible with Photoshop the Gimp way is often better, once you've got used to it. (Although, my God, do its file dialogs take forever to open.)

Academics demand answers from NHS over potential data timebomb ticking inside new UK contact-tracing app

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Re: How to stop people from having "fun"

"they enter a few of the persons details, and it generates a code, perhaps using the persons details as a seed, to make it unique, so no one else could use it?"

I'm hoping there'll be private keys involved. But the keys and the algorithm used to generate the code will leak - far too many people will need it.

India to build contact-tracing app for feature phones that still use 2G, don't have Bluetooth and can't run apps

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It worked in South Korea - the ususal source:

In South Korea, a non-app-based system was used to perform contact tracing. Instead of using a dedicated app, the system gathered tracking information from a variety of sources including mobile device tracking data and card transaction data, and combined these to generate notices via text messages to potentially-infected individuals.

Microsoft decrees that all high-school IT teachers were wrong: Double spaces now flagged as typos in Word

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Re: So what's their position on Oxford commas?

So the AI that's adjusting the spacing will grok the content and determine whether it's the end of a sentence or an abbreviation?

I'm playing devil's advocate here - not least because these dots are rarely used. But the software could treat two spaces after a full stop as an end of sentence marker and adjust the kerning accordingly. Contrast this with an algorithm that expands the spacing following a full stop unless it's a single letter (J. R. R. Tolkien) or on a list of (hopefully) user-definable abbreviations. And the user has now go to realise this is happening, locate the list of abbreviations and add every abbreviation they want to use (and never use the abbreviation at the end of a sentence.) All because...?

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So what's their position on Oxford commas?

A full stop and a single space could be the end of an abbreviation, if you're the kind of person who still writes "Dr. Smith". Double space disambiguates that.

Somewhere, way out there, two black holes, one large and one small, merged. And here on Earth, we detected the gravitational wave blast

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Re: Another silly question...

Black holes a couple of orders of magnitude bigger than these are really rare (I'm not sure there are confirmed example) so finding two merging into each other would set scientists abuzz.

But in black hole terms, they're only medium sized "intermediate mass". Supermassive black holes are a lot heftier; for example, the one at the centre of the Milky Way is 4 million M.

So how do the coronavirus smartphone tracking apps actually work and should you download one to help?

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Re: Maybe I have missed the point

You've confusing antigen and antibody testing. "Antigen test" is a synonym for the PCR tests used to find parts of the virus RNA (they're testing for the presence of the antigen itself); antibody tests are serological tests for the presence of, well, antibodies.

In the case of SARS and, it appears, SARS CoV2, the memory B cells lapse quickly and it's only the T cells that linger. That's making antibody testing harder. It's also possibly that contributing to instances of "reinfection". (Although, I'm still inclined to believe false negatives - PCR is pretty accurate but getting swabs with a sample can be hard. And T cells were sufficient to fight off SARS 17 years are initial infection.)

COVID-19 is pretty nasty but maybe this is taking social distancing too far? Universe may not be expanding equally in all directions

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As always, neutrinos are left out the mix.

Point 1 is the only point that's fine - at least as I parse it. Photons and other particles experience identical "mechanisms of motion" (geometry) which is why light bends round stars and black holes. But, obviously, without a quantum theory of gravity we can't be certain.

Please, just stop downloading apps from unofficial stores: Android users hit with 'unkillable malware'

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Landfill Android

"...which are old and out of date..."

And I'm sure my upgrade will be along RSN. Any day now. I'm just waiting for that notification and then I'll straight away upgrade. Coz, other than that, this phone works fine.

If you thought black holes only came in S or XXXL, guess again, maybe: Elusive mid-mass void spotted eating star

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Re: Only in Astronomy

In ballpark terms, a star can range 0.1 - 100M. Wikipedia has a list of some inferred superweights - with it topping out at 315 M for R136a1.

However, big stars tend to be shed a lot of mass duriing their short lifetimes, and turning into a blackhole typically involves shedding even more. So those aren't good guides to black hole masses. OTOH, a lot of star systems are binaries so a black hole can easily double it mass by slurping up its partner.

Zoom's end-to-end encryption isn't actually end-to-end at all. Good thing the PM isn't using it for Cabinet calls. Oh, for f...

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Re: Security Services

I'm hoping it's PR and that they played with Zoom so they could say, "See, we're all in it together - we're using Zoom like you plebs" before switching to something more secure.

Sun storm probe OK'd: 'Our motivation is a fascinating signal that we have detected for decades but never been able to make an image of'

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Re: Interesting project

Yeah, stock interferometry. Their press release goes into a bit more detail.

The signals in question are observed down to 30kHz (10km). Although, according to the press release, they're only planning to look from 100kHz (3km) to 25 MHz (12m).

They're using off the shelf "GPS" which they think will be able to pin down the sats to under a metre (a fifteenth of the wavelength at 25 MHz) and claim the satellites' positions "do not need to be controlled to better than 1 km".

Good luck to them!

What happens when the maintainer of a JS library downloaded 26m times a week goes to prison for killing someone with a motorbike? Core-js just found out

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*cough* electron *cough*

I've just installed electron to start evaluating it. And this was spewed to the console:

Thank you for using core-js ( https://github.com/zloirock/core-js ) for polyfilling JavaScript standard library!

The project needs your help! Please consider supporting of core-js on Open Collective or Patreon:

> https://opencollective.com/core-js

> https://www.patreon.com/zloirock

Also, the author of core-js ( https://github.com/zloirock ) is looking for a good job -)

The author is available to start any employment opportunities in eighteen months...

Brit housing association blabs 3,500 folks' sexual orientation, ethnicity in email blunder

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Re: They emailed...

"Oh well, just change all of them!"

That rule only applies for people called "Perky Pat".

Bad news: Coronavirus is spreading rapidly across the world. Good news: Nitrogen dioxide levels are decreasing and the air on Earth is cleaner

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Re: Pharmacologists on el Reg?

"I just put some baby soap in a pan of boiling water and breathed in the fumes under a towel and fuck me if my breathing isn't a lot clearer."

When you get bunged up again, try it without the soap. I think you'll find the effect is about the same - and probably slightly less than if you add something like Olbas Oil to the water.

NASA to launch 247 petabytes of data into AWS – but forgot about eye-watering cloudy egress costs before lift-off

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Re: Just wondering

Damn space scientists - always with their heads stuck in the clouds.


Mercury, the closest planet to the Sun, surely has no frozen water, right? Guess again: Solar winds form ice

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Re: Interesting process

I reckon we put in a new moon. We could "borrow" one of the dwarf planets. If we got it in close enough it would stir up Mars' interior and, given a few millions years, get the magnetic field humming again.

And, much like the Earth/Moon system, our new Mars/moon system would orbit its barycentre. So, if we plum for the obvious choice, we'd have Ceres in parallel with Mars.

Sorry. That was a helluva lot of set up for a really lame joke.

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A loud place

"...convection currents..."


Apple grudgingly opens up its check book, pays VirnetX $454m in patent royalties after a decade of wrangling

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Re: Here's the detail

If Apple had any sense they'd use some of their money to lobby for patent reform. But one suspects that, under the current system, they gain more than they lose.

IBM veep partly blamed Sopra Steria for collapse of £155m Co-Op Insurance Agile project

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Now I want to see a graph of rejected defects and a graph of accepted defects. If IBM are blameless then the latter should look like a typical S shaped curve. But if that defect list 'grew at a "linear" rate over time' then IBM are just blowing smoke.


Microsoft frees Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 from the shackles of, er, Windows?

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Use a cat. They're nice and soft - if you avoid the clawry bits. Pick a tortoiseshell one and no-one will notice. You don't have to put them in the wash, either, as they self clean. Very environmentally friendly.

My coat? Yes, it's that sloth.

If you're looking for a textbook example of an IT hype cycle, let spin be your guide

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Re: 2012 is the corpus of words

>Try "chocolate" and you'll similarly see the decay down to 2012.

Or try "google". (I did worry it might break the internet - but it seems okay.) Apparently Google peaked in 2005 and dropped off so that by 2012 we weren't talking about then at all. I wonder who they got bought out by?

Microsoft throws a bone to those unable to leave the past behind: .NET 5 support on the way for Visual Basic

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Re: VB.net, not Visual Basic for Applications (VBA)


Although anybody with any sense ran OPTION BASE 0 The statement dates to GwBasic. (Which is why I know it exists.)

The Reg produces exhibit A1: A UK court IT system running Windows XP

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Re: in fairness

"The real question would be how well the media had survived."

My experience is that 5¼" are probably still readable but good luck with a 3½".

Partly it's because 3½" were mass produced commodities whereas 5¼" date from a time when the price of a disk meant it could be made to a decent standard. They're also well spaced out - so there's no interference. (And the older stuff is single sided.) And because the tech was rudimentary it was written using a fridge magnet (in terms of strength of signal and signal area) in order to accommodate the varied tolerances of drives.

I imagine all that applies even more to 8". If its been well looked after, there's probably recoverable data.

Resellers facing 'months' of delays for orders to be fulfilled. IT gathers dust on docks as coronavirus-stricken China goes back to work

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Re: Just an FYI

With respect to More or Less, they'll conduct studies looking for Covid-19 antibodies and use that to estimate how many people have been exposed. (Apparently such programmes are already under way in China.) Once the infection has damped down, you can use that to get a good estimate of the death rate. That covers (b) and (b) is probably the predominant source of error. And (a) is neutered by looking at the infection as a whole.

The UK's death rate is certainly inflated because the NHS have only been testing people who have come back from an affected region or have come into contact with an infected person. (At one point they weren't even testing people admitted to hospital with pneumonia.) Although, without some limit, everybody with a cough would want a test.

Good luck pitching a tent on exoplanet WASP-76b, the bloody raindrops here are made out of molten iron

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Re: Puzzled!

"Since none of you specified the reference frame, you are both right and wrong."

In low energy situations, you can separate an inertial frame from a non-inertial one - e.g. Foucault's pendulum will reveal you are in a rotating frame embedded in a large volume of flat space.

Stuck at home? Need something to keep busy with? Microsoft has 115 ideas – including an awful SMBv3 security hole to worry about

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Re: Imagine a user...

It's not deliberate, though. Programmers, being humans, make mistakes and these mistakes are exploited by other, malicious human beings. And most users would agree that "preview" is a useful, time saving feature.

How does Monzo keep 1,600 microservices spinning? Go, clean code, and a strong team

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Re: It's certainly bold, but is it naive?

"...going this way closes the door on people without the new hipster skills..."

How's the recruitment for COBOL programmers going?

I've not programmed Go. But it looks a fairly straightforward language to pick up. Programming is programming. I agree with the rest of your point, though.

'Unfixable' boot ROM security flaw in millions of Intel chips could spell 'utter chaos' for DRM, file encryption, etc

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According to the article it had dedicated RAM. And yet, still, some devices could DMA into it.

FYI: When Virgin Media said it leaked 'limited contact info', it meant p0rno filter requests, IP addresses, IMEIs as well as names, addresses and more

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Re: Which is why...

How many "small" web sites have dedicated IP addresses? They're going to be shared hosting.

HMRC claims victory in another IR35 dispute to sting Nationwide contractor for nearly £75k in back taxes

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Re: Final paragraph.

I haven't got time to look it up. But if the rules were opaque or missing, then the Tribunal may have had to "clarify" the law to the cover the case. In that situation, I would expect them to be let off as a matter of natural justice, provided they weren't taking the piss; there would be no way they could know they were in the wrong till a court adjudicated. And I would expect anybody who'd behaved in a similar manner to be let off prior to the precedent.

DISCLAIMER: IANAL, but I have beaten HMRC at a Tribunal. :)

If you're writing code in Python, JavaScript, Java and PHP, relax. The hot trendy languages are still miles behind, this survey says

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Everybody is dissing stackoverflow. But that's an example of a page with a couple of really good answers.

It's Terpin time: Bloke who was SIM jacked twice by Bitcoin thieves gets green light to sue telco for millions

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The security services may have wised up to this after that Michael Scofield incident.

Tattoo remove is a thing. Besides, the area in question is big enough to take a good few passwords.

As to silencing the tattoo artist: steganography. Or just make the password "I love mum".

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The first thing you do when arresting Bruce Schneier is shave off his beard...

And the consensus in the comments was it was inconceivable anyone would conceal their password alongside their fishing tackle.

But this case shows exactly why downloading it onto unhackable media is not such a dumb idea. Although, personally, I would tattoo it onto a part of my body that is never normally visible in public - ideally a part that is covered in thick, curly, dark hair so even a strip search wouldn't reveal it.

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Re: File Encryption?

In that situation, I wouldn't even commit my password to digital media. I'd write it on a piece of A4 and hide it with my fishing rod.

Departing MI5 chief: Break chat app crypto for us, kthxbai

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Bring your own psychic paper

The Queen, Prime Minister etc... are guarded by police officers. And I bet a single piece of id issued by "the authorities " will allow you past those guards - they'll even unlock the doors for you.

Galileo got it wrong – official: Jupiter actually wet, not super-dry: 'No one would have guessed that water might be so variable across the planet'

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They're looking within a 4° band at the equator. I think they're talking about variations of water by depth.

One man is standing up to Donald Trump's ban on US chip tech going to Huawei. That man... is Donald Trump

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Re: Imagine what it's like to work for this guy

Have you seen the @PresVillain Twitter feed?


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