* Posts by Brewster's Angle Grinder

2310 posts • joined 23 May 2011

Geneticists throw hands in the air, change gene naming rules to finally stop Microsoft Excel eating their data

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The old Copper nanotubes back again.

UK insurance biz Direct Line drops 'misrepresentation' claims against IBM in £36m database platform lawsuit

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People complain about the government being unable to make IT projects work, let alone deliver them on time and to budget, but here we have another example of the private sector proving it's every bit the public sector's equal when it comes to screwing up IT.

We give up, Progressive Web Apps can track you, says W3C: After 5 years, it decides privacy is too much bother

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Re: Optional

Allowed: user1234.thing.com

Intel couldn't shrink to 7nm on time – but it was able to reduce one thing: Its chief engineer's employment

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Re: Eye off the ball

In fairness, at 7nm, it's a fairly small ball. You need the eyes of an eagle.

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"AMD were forced to go to foundries because unlike Intel they had no choice,"

Wasn't it a conscious decision to divest themselves of what would become GloFlo? It's really worked for them. But if TSMC was struggling and Intel was marching ahead it would look a very different decision.

Astroboffins map engine of a solar flare: Magnetic mega-fields and Earth-dwarfing blankets of electric current

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Re: Watts

It's a self assembly rarebit: here are some ions and your instructions, written in Martian; assemble the meal yourself using standard Martian atomic-force telekinesis. (Will require customer supplied electrons - not included. May also require additional Guinness, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, butter, cheese, bread and grilling.)

Russia tested satellite-to-satellite shooter, say UK and USA

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Space is big, take 2,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.

This may not be as effective as you think. There are also already 600,000 pieces of space junk of sizes 1-10cm. You've added few thousand <2mm pieces. And at that size, they won't need much abrading before they're harmless. (And the cloud will self abrade in the early phases.)

Or we can compare it with the hundreds of tonnes of rock hitting earth every day. We don't seem to have a good handle on this, but I just found one study suggesting a diurnal flux of 44 tonnes <100g particles. Much of that is on grazing, retrograde trajectories - as you can verify in any meteor shower.

There's also technical challenge of trying to disperse the cloud so it's not compact but doesn't end up too thin. And there's no chance to practice - because once it's done, everyone knows.

Black hole destroys corona

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Re: Boggle of the Day

This being El Reg, I will accept your pedantry in the spirit it is offered. Although your "give or take some blocking" has to include scattering by and gas (extinction) and allow for gravitational red shifting.

That's the problem with your light on Proxima Centauri b - most of it is extinguished before it leaves the atmosphere. But even if a photon hit our detector - we wouldn't be able to recognise it as such because of the noise.It's just another splat on our CCD.

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Re: Boggle of the Day

When you compress things, they get hot. If you compress them enough, they'll get so hot they shine. And if you compress them with a supermassive black hole, they'll beam across the observable universe.

Aggrieved ad tech types decry Google dominance in W3C standards – who writes the rules and for whom?

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Re: Boohoo

But, as you point out, some of the standards are now under WHATWG control - i.e. the major implementers. (Which was a breath of fresh air, and meant standards started progressing again.) So ponying up won't get them control of everything.

And the other problem with seats on W3C or an independent body is they have no way to make vendors follow whatever standard they devise.

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It ultimately comes down to power - the power resides with the implementers (providing they can persuade users to go along). If you want power - pay for devs to work on these projects.

You're testing them wrong: Whiteboard coding interviews are 'anti-women psychological stress examinations'

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"The experiment was designed to measure cognitive load and stress through the collection of eye tracking metrics, specifically fixation duration and pupil dilation."

We call it Voight-Kampff for short.

(They may be trying to hire the replicants)

Rust code in Linux kernel looks more likely as language team lead promises support

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Re: Is there a reason we need YAPL?

I've not programmed it, but Rust seems to be genuinely innovative rather than another reheat of common place ideas with a slightly different syntax.

An email banning our staff from using TikTok? Haha, funny story about that, we didn't mean it – Amazon

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And there's a good chance that an app that has unlockable content will, when the content is purchased, download it, unzip it, and start running it.

Rip and replace is such a long Huawei to go, UK telcos plead, citing 'blackouts' and 'billion pound' costs: Are Vodafone and BT playing 'Project Fear'?

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"Nobody is talking about making them remove Huawei from legacy networks"

Isn't that exactly what they are talking about? At least that's how I parsed the article.

If the Solar System's 'Planet Nine' is actually a small black hole, here's how we could detect it... wait, what?

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Re: Ah, so 5-10 *earth* masses

Compared to the CMB, it's having food shovelled down it's gob faster than it can burp - by a process we call the solar wind. And that's before we get to all the clutter out there, which will be orders of magnitude more significant. The loss to Hawking radiation can be approximated as zero without any loss of generality; the only question to answer is how quickly has it been putting on weight.

[Wikipedia gives a handy formula which suggests the lifetime of a 5 terrestrial mass black hole in a perfect vacuum would be ~7E52 years. Tthe universe is ~1.4E10 years old. So we are talking about a lifetime which is the_age_of_the_universe5]

Captain, the computer has identified 250 alien stars that infiltrated our galaxy – actual science, not science-fiction

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Re: So now we have Nyx

Off the top of my head: yes, this has been looked at and the kinematics and composition fit a star born in the Milky Way. Astrophysicists do this because they are looking for stars that might have been born with the Sun and clues about the environment that gave birth to it. But we've done so many orbits of the galaxy that everything is spread out and it's tricky to be certain. However I can't recall any suggestion we are anything other that a galactic native.

Utilitarian, long-bodied Nokia 5.3 has budget basic specs - but it does cost £150

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I'm not saying they are worse than the competition - I'm saying it's bad in absolute terms. You'd be able to put Windows 10 on a five year old PC. My four year old Mac Mini is getting OS updates. A right to repair is no good if the thing can't have the latest OS and is vulnerable as shit - it means perfectly good hardware going in the bin.

And while I can be a bit forgiving of this in the early days. Modern phones aren't undergoing radical evolution. There's no excuse not to commit a phone released today to a decent run of support.

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Two years of updates? That really is atrocious. And the hardware must be getting stable - so five years, at least.

Linux kernel coders propose inclusive terminology coding guidelines, note: 'Arguments about why people should not be offended do not scale'

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Re: scaling

It's a deeply depressing argument to say "etymology doesn't scale". It amounts to saying "the truth doesn't scale". While there is some evidence of that. It doesn't mean we give up on the truth.

And I find it even more damning in an argument turning on historical abuses to be told that the history of the words themselves is irrelevant.

Remember that black hole just 1,000 light years from Earth? Scientists queue up to say it may not exist after all

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Re: A petri dish

You're in favour of mass murder and economic apocalypse? That definitely marks you out!

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Ahhh, but the question seems to come to down to whether the Be start is moving along or not moving along...

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A petri dish

You can watch the same process playing out on the news for Covid-19. One group of researchers say X. Another group say "hang on a minute maybe not X or not quite X, because..."

But political groups who want X or Not X grab onto the relevant research as push it as the Truth™ as found by Scientists.™ And anybody who questions the research is suddenly in favour of mass murder or economic apocalypse.

LibreOffice slips out another 7.0 beta: Spreadsheets close gap with Excel while macOS users treated to new icons

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C'mon we're devs - not users

Isn't that what your choice of scripting language is for? Ideally with somebody else's CSV parser or one you've written yourself and battle hardened over decades.

This has the twin bonus that the script won't miss an entry while eyeballing a million rows and you have proven code ready to handle the file the next time it turns up. I've just spent the morning working on a 25,000 row TSV file. I could have hand hacked it, but the transforms I've made are documented in the code and if the source updates (or we want to use a bigger source file) I can run the transform again at zero cost.

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"Not really, a table at best."

I was being facetious. But multiple sheets?

"Using Excel as the file format has led to far fewer errors than I would ever have imagined."

I entirely believe that. I think it bolsters my facetious point: it is a different front end on a database.

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What do you call a spreadsheet with 1 million rows? A database.

One does not simply repurpose an entire internet constellation for sat-nav, but UK might have a go anyway

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Re: These satellites have high precision atomic clocks on board?

"But why buy a load of very expensive products that need to be completely redesigned and rebuilt? Surely it would be cheaper and faster to build from scratch?"

When you need to add a new feature to your software do you scratch build a new version?

While I've been unsuccessful in finding out if they have an onboard clock, they are claiming a "modular design" so presumably we could add a clock module. Even if the design isn't modular, modifying it would likely be small beer compared to scratch designing a satellite - particularly given the British Goverment's penchant for mission creep and gold plating; I'd rather they start from a proven design than come up with a plan that sees us offering GPS coverage to our planned Mars base.

(Also, because they are in LEO, they may not need such a high precision clock. Apparently they have 32ms latency so we might even be able to beam one to it from an earth station. TBH, you could probably reach up and touch them.)

Apple gives Boot Camp the boot, banishes native Windows support from Arm-compatible Macs

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It's hard to imagine that people who "must have" Windows will want an ARM build. If they want Windows, they'll want full fat x86. And if you're splashing out on a Mac, you don't expect sluggish, second-best emulation.

Once again, racial biases show up in AI image databases, this time turning Barack Obama white

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Researchers then tested it with a blurry photo of President Trump. It responded with a picture of a black man, leading them to conclude the algorithm was now smart enough to troll us.

Seriously, while I'd love to see the fireworks, the man doesn't need any more excuses to act the victim.

Grav wave boffins are unsure if they just spotted the smallest black hole or the biggest neutron star seen yet

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Re: Can't neutron stars grow bigger from accretion?

When neutron stars merge, as when anything merges, they tend to shed mass in spectacular fashion. (Astrophysics: the science for people who like big explosions seen from a safe distance.)

Accreting material gets burnt in a jet of X-rays. I'm not sure you could get enough mass from the ash to bulk up the star. But if it got too heavy, it would suffer explosive collapse which might produce a black hole or might produce another neutron star.

The real problem is we don't have a solid value for the upper limit for neutron stars. If Wikipedia is to be believed, this object is slightly lighter than the heaviest neutron star known (2.74M) And that's in pretty good agreement with the lightest stellar black hole (ibid - scroll down). But there's no theoretical minimum mass for a black hole and merging objects could, after shedding some mass, produce one that was, ahem. lighter than the upper limit for neutron stars. So it's probably a black hole

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Re: So too small for a black hole and too big for a neutron star

You need to type up a few equations first.

Laws on police facial recognition aren't tough enough, UK data watchdog barrister tells Court of Appeal

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Re: Not surprised

To be honest, you'll have to explain to me why a situation demanded Skype. Was it a video call where they were showing images? Did the recipient only have a laptop? What were the specifics that meant carrier pigeons couldn't be substitute for Skype?

Machine-learning models trained on pre-COVID data are now completely out of whack, says Gartner

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I initially downvoted that but then changed my mind. Even the country which is Covid-19 "free" still has border restrictions affecting the economy.

Facebook accused of trying to bypass GDPR, slurp domain owners' personal Whois info via an obscure process

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A bar set so low it's subterranean...

"Its representative continues to claim that being a registered trademark holder is sufficient to be granted full access to the Whois database"

Fortunately, I own the registered trademark for FacebookSucks™ so I will be able to Zuckerberg's registration details. And I will fund my legal defence by spamming everybody else in the whois database.

Ex-barrister reckons he has a privacy-preserving solution to Britain's smut ban plans

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Re: Mind of a teenager

"Whats the next thing i do? Give up on looking at b00bs or start scouring the internet for a browser / media player that doesnt check this new DRM thing?"

Unfortunately, as a teenager, you wanted to be cool and have the same phone your mates had. So you're stuck with an iPhone. And Apple won't let you install other media players.

Boffins find that over nine out of ten 'ethical' hackers are being a bit naughty when it comes to cloud services

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Colour? Mine is 50% magenta.

If they're wearing a hat, they're defo not hackers. As any fule kno: hackers wear hoodies.

Customers of Brit ISP Virgin Media have downloaded an extra 325GB since March, though we can't think why

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I was going to joke it was me downloading simulators from Apple. (2gig/pop) But I've barely scratched the surface of what you guys are capable of.

If you're despairing at staff sharing admin passwords, look on the bright side. That's CIA-grade security

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The entropic decrease of entropy

We're confusing two different things - statistical randomness and predictability. We really want passwords that are unpredictable but we use statistical randomness as a proxy since it's all but impossible to know whether a string of bits is predictable.

This is deep philosophical water. But if our dictionary of predictable strings constantly expands then the likelihood of password being predicted increases with time. So "entropy" (randomness) of passwords decreases over time until we hit a tipping point when the dictionary becomes unmanageably big. At which point we have to remove the least likely passwords - for predictable values of "least likely".

Germany prepares to launch COVID-19 contact-tracing app 'this week' while UK version stuck in development hell

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"...harmless like the coronaviruses that cause common colds."

I'm not sure we have a clear picture of that. People who die with or because of "flu" aren't routinely tested to see what viruses are actually present. I've read papers suggesting the endemic coronaviruses are often diagnosed as flu but might be orders of magnitude more dangerous that typical "seasonal" strains of influenza. I've lost the link.

The rest is fine. It's been suggested each of us have 8-12 chronic, "asymptomatic" viral passengers. It's certainly reasonable that some of us might be immune. It could also be that most of the people who are going to spread covid-19 far and wide have already contracted it. The spread from here on in could be much slower with flare ups as it reaches superspreaders who haven't been in contact with other superspreaders and that ignites an isolated chain.

You know Facebook has an image problem when major nonprofits start turning down donations over political lies

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The year is 2220. And a crowd of thousands cheers as the statue of Zuckerberg is pulled from its plinth and sent splashing into the harbour.

Sponge code borks square AI brains, sucking up compute power in novel attack against machine-learning systems

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Re: Artificial intelligence

The human brain is massively parallel, though. It also has the advantage of a lot more data - it's looking at the shapes, not a set of bytes.

There's probably a whole bunch of neurons representing portions of letter-shapes which trigger. The neuron which recognises "explainable" sees most of its triggers and says "could be me - not 100%". But no other neuron triggers so the next level goes with that.

And of course, if that subconscious process goes wrong, there's the conscious process which can recognise the mistake and retask the subconscious process to examine it more closely.

Moore's Law is deader than corduroy bell bottoms. But with a bit of smart coding it's not the end of the road

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Re: optimize / optimise

Self modifying code was a lot of fun. But an absolute bastard to maintain. And lets face it: memory, even cache, isn't in short supply and writing to the code segment is a security nightmare.

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Re: C rocks.

When I moved from asm to C and discovered null terminated strings were the norm I had a heart attack. It was a real step down. The problems you outline are just the beginning.

It could be 'five to ten years' before the world finally drags itself away from IPv4

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Re: Doomed to eternal limbo

"...many protocols have been redesigned to work with nat and often losing features or performance in the process..."

It's telling that people would go to those lengths and put up with those inconvenienced in order to avoid IPv6.

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

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There is a whole field devoted to understanding the sound of stars - astroseismology. There's even a wiki page covering it for neutron stars.

If you're being pedantic, and depending on the field, you might restrict sound waves to longitudinal modes of pressure waves. But they'll be in any medium. And the speed of sound is going to be important to analysing these and/or allow you to deduce important information about the medium and it's internal structure.

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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.


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