* Posts by brainwrong

107 posts • joined 7 Aug 2007


ZERO-G DINOSAUR made from bits and bobs by space station flight engineer

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Did she take any bits off of Luca Parmitano's spacesuit?

Confirmed: Driverless cars to hit actual British roads by end of year


Who the fuck will I be able to shout at?

"Seriously, who is going to pay full attention when they have no actual need to control the car?"

This is the single most intelligent and accurate comment in the whole debate. Think about it.

From the main article:

"It's a great area to be working in because it's IT and computers and that's what changes things."

And that's the stupidest justification for doing anything. Does nobody think about the effects and consequences of the jobs they do anymore? Just because somebody will pay you to do something doesn't mean it's a good idea, it just means that they think they can make money out of you. We've totally forgotten personal responsibility in our career choices, and it depresses me.

Boffins chill out with new temperature measurement


Marks deducted...

"The triple point is a definition rather than a measurement: the three states of water can be calculated to exist at 0.1°C and a partial vapour pressure of 611.73 pascals – in kelvin, 273.16K."

Err, you missed a zero, it's 0.01 celcius. Everyone knows that, yet even QI got it wrong once.

And I'm pretty sure it's not calculated to be anything, the triple point of any pure substance is just whatever it happens to be, but it is fixed and easily reproducible which makes it a very good reference point.

Here's a thought:

The newton is defined in terms of the kilogram, which is a problem unit to define. Triple points don't just have a precise temperature, they also have a precise pressure. Could that be used to define the newton, and hence the kilogram?

Good news: Debian 7 is rock solid. Bad news: It's called Wheezy


Have they fixed the bugs from the last stable release?

I was rather disappointed when I switched to debian linux (squeeze) for my new computer.

1) Nautilus file manager mixed up file names when running multiple large file-copy operations simultaneously.

2) There are race issues with the startup on multicore processors.

3) Graphics card support is dire. The PCIe card uses the closed source fglrx driver which won't do custom resolutions/timing properly, the onboard adapter uses the open source driver which has no features, and the 2 won't work together for dual monitor operation.

I used to be able to do so many more things with my old win98 system than I can get this linux system to do.

Forget the invisibility cloak: Boffins invent INVISIBILITY FISHNETS


Oddly shaped objects

My car is oddly shaped*, can I cover it with this stuff to sneak past speed cameras??

* Why don't they put corners on cars nowdays? They're all just blobs, not a single straight edge by which to judge parking. And they have distorting wing mirrors to make you cross-eyed just as you want to change lanes on the motorway, it's bonkers!

Scan your branes LIVE IN REAL-TIME, thanks to GPU-surfin' boffins



"found that a 12.7 Teraflop-per-second, two-socket Xeon system with 96GB RAM and four Nvidia GTX 580 (total of 8 GPUs) will do the trick"

That's a lot of TeraFlops per second from some graphics GPU units soldered to a PCB board with some RAM memory!

Flops == Floating-point Operations Per Second, for any stupid people watching.

Elon Musk's 'Grasshopper' hover rocket scores another test success


Strange comment

"At touchdown, the thrust to weight ratio of the vehicle was greater than one"

Of course it was, what a pointless thing to say! Or is that just a fancy way of saying that it didn't crash land?

Brit boffins GANG-RESEARCH tiny LEDs for 1Gbps network


"And by making each LED a subtly different colour, they can all transmit separate data streams, which means 1,000 of them packed into a square millimetre can outperform existing techniques a million times over."

Given that current LED's are not monochromatic, I think someone's being a bit optimistic there.

To answer Norm DePlume, yes you could make proper white LED's by putting lots of small differently coloured LED chips in a single package.


Donkeys years ago there was an article in new scientist about the invention of the gallium nitride blue LED. They mentioned that it would be possible to combine the blue with orange light to make a white LED. I thought at the time that whilst it may appear white to look at directly, the colour rendering of such a beast would be terrible. Unfortunately that's pretty much what the manufacturers did. Now we have bright LED torches that are hard to see by, stupid flashing bike lights that cause loads of glare because of the blue content, and now the world is filling up with cars with over-bright daylight running lights! I fucking hate it all!


Is that a truncheon in your trousers, officer, or ... an antenna, you say?


That claim again....

'by combining the signals one can achieve a **much higher** level of accuracy than any network alone can offer'

Wouldn't this require that the clocks are synchronized between the different systems?

Other than the americans telling the europeans what the time is, i can't see that happening between any of the 4 or 5 systems.

europe has already let america interfere with the development of Galileo, we should be telling them to fuck off.

Oak Ridge lab: Behold, I Am TITAN, hear my 20 petaflop ROAR


"...the US Department of Energy hopes will facilitate significant breakthroughs in research in the physics, combustion, materials science, nuclear energy, and combustion."

Are they planning to set fire to it?

New nuclear fuel source would power human race until 5000AD


Processing seawater

Is it possible to process 1.3 billion cubic kilometers of seawater in 6500 years?

Thats 22.8 km^3 per hour, how much power needed to pump that through the extraction plants?

Also, where do you put the depleted seawater so as not to dilute the remaining water even more?

I wouldn't be surprised if even the natural ocean currents take longer than that to circulate most of the water.

If only we could stop trying to apply capitalism to everything we try to do then maybe we could do nuclear properly, with real security, over-engineering, breeder reactors, research, open international co-operation for the benefit of all, and probably lots of other stuff needed too. But that's all expensive and politically unpaletable, and it'll be a long time before we're in enough shit for that to change.

Yeah, I know I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. see first bit of comment.

Captain Cyborg accepts another degree from puny humans


Re: REAL cyborgs are those living daily with implants

Doesn't everything now have more compute power than the Apollo missions?

I used to install a PIC-chip based nurse-call system in care homes, each call point had more compute power than the Apollo guidance computers, all they did was make a light blink and tell other devices on the system to make a bleeping noise.

It was a very good system, shame the salesmen we worked for were such cunts.

bleep bleeeeep!

Kiwi pooches turn into ROACH MUNCHING DOPE FIENDS


Re: To quote one of my favourite T-shirts...

And mine...

"nine out of ten voices in my head agree that drugs are good for you"

Flexible Willow glass displays thin and curvy gadget future



Surely the flexibility comes from it's thin-ness, similar to glass fibres.

More marketing bullshit?

European Space Agency heads for Jupiter's moons

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Good choice

Glad they're not doing the gravity wave thing. I don't know the finer details of general relativity, but to me the idea of using a laser inferometer to measure changes in the fabric of spacetime rather smacks of using a ruler to measure itself to see if it got any longer.

Jupiter is magnificent, it's a shame that we didn't evolve on one of it's moons, the view would be awesome, and it wouldn't be so fucking sunny in the summer. Would we then consider sending probes to the funny little wet blue planet in the inner solar system?

Toy Story: Mystic Met needs swanky new kit, swoon MPs



The weather is a chaotic system.

Even if we know the precise differential equations to simulate it, the real weather will diverge from our calculated prediction simply because we can't measure the current state of the weather perfectly. Any error in our measurement of the current weather, however tiny, will be magnified with time. Predicting weather weeks/months in advance is foolish.

Meteorologist Edward Lorenz stumbled upon this phenomenon in 1961 while running computer simulations of convection cells.

As an aside, I hope those mini-weather-stations on a pole that I keep seeing by the roadside aren't used to collect met-office data. How are you meant to get reliable wind and temperature data with big trucks whizzing past!

Laser boffins blast bits onto hard drive at 200Gb/sec


missing more details

The obvious detail missing is how heat creates the magnetic field in the first place!

Is this a newly discovered phenomenon, or something already known or predicted that's just been done for the first time? Does this technique have a name?

- wearing my laser safety goggles.

Saudi oil minister praises renewable energy


Typical innaccurate green bollocks

"The Kingdom experiences roughly 3,000 hours of sunshine per year, emitting about 7,000 watts of energy per square metre,"

Unless the kingdom is in orbit aroud venus, then I'm not believing that shit.

At least it wasn't watts per hour.

Super-powered 'frankenmalware' strains detected in the wild



If different software can breed then why hasn't linux bred with windows to create a robust OS with a graphical frontend that can run more than just a few half-written apps?

- a dissapointed linux user.

More Brits desert high streets to spend £50bn online



"The average Brit web shopper spent about £1,400 online, picking out 39 items, in 2011..."

Does that include delivery charges, and how much were they?

As for not being home to accept delivery, I get stuff delivered to a friends. The few sites I've bought from have all allowed me to enter a delivery address different to the invoice address.

Boffins quarrel over ridding world of leap seconds


What's the fuss about?

so things that haven't been designed and/or tested properly to work with leap seconds use the time standard which has leap seconds.

well, duh.

those things should use TAI, the time standard without leap seconds.

the changeover may be problematic (adding back in the 34 leap seconds so far in one lump), but it only needs to be done once.

personally i still can't see the point in daylight saving time. fucking do-gooders. I don't wish to get up an hour earlier every day for the whole summer and autumn.

LG: 1mm bezel on your telly, anyone?


"Instead of flipping rapidly between left eye and right eye images, to create the 3D effect, the telly can swap player one and player two screens, so each gamer sees the correct viewpoint."

What does this sentence actually mean, and what's it got to do with a bezel?

NASA's twin GRAILs reunite in lunar orbit



Why does everything need an app? It's a fucking smartphone, it has a web browser, just bookmark the website! Are people really that lazy?

Oh, and why are you running ads that change size just as the page has loaded and you're about to click the link to the next story, causing the link to jump out from under my carefully positioned pointer? It's really really really irrrrrrrrrrrrrrrritating!

It is. So please stop it. Why are you accepting money from microsoft for ads, we all hate them.

WTF, because everything now makes as much sense as Spike Milligan on acid.

Latest El Reg project: Rise of the Robot Sheep

This post has been deleted by a moderator

Iran spy drone GPS hijack boasts: Rubbish, say experts


Mindless speculation

The Iranians transmit some kind of gibberish at the command channel of the drone. Something trips a bug, and the computer resets. When the computer restarts, it thinks "FUCK! What's going on!" and promptly lands.


Genetically modified mutants 'safe for release' into the wild



"Concerns that this might result in those populations being completely replaced by the superior lab-developed individuals can be addressed, they say, by the use of cunningly selected mutants"

Haven't these idiots heard of evolution? People like this are certainly arrogant enough to think that they can do better than evolution, and they are foolish. Evolution will likely do something totally unexpected with the modified genes. We still know so very little about how it all works.

Brussels: Water cannot be sold as remedy for dehydration


Heath benefits?

Why the fuck do these idiots feel they need to advertise the heath benefits of water?

Doesn't everyone just know what water is?

"My water is heathier than yours!". The world just gets more and more depressingly stupid.

I still don't understand why people buy icecubes.

Maybe they should try claiming it to be a placebo for alcohol, that would be more fun, drunk people who pass breath tests. Can I patent that stupid idea?

Smart meters: Nothing can possibly go wrong, says gov


"...told Parliament on Wednesday that a comprehensive risk assessment programme would accompany the deployment of the technology"

Accompany? Wouldn't "preceed" be the correct way of doing it?

I think I'll have to try hacking the thing myself to do the modern equivalent of bypassing the meter.

Fujitsu busts K super through 10 petaflops

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@Steve 48

Excellent idea! Slow mode or Fast mode?

The ZX81 didn't do double precision, it used a 40 bit format (documented in the excellent manual).

I don't know the flops rating of a ZX81, and I should think that the difference between adds and multiplies (done in software) would be much larger than modern hardware, which may complicate comparisons.

For a rough idea, a mandelbrot renderer I wrote in BASIC on a CPC464 (same Z80 running at similar speed, also 40 bit FP) achieved about 166 iterations per second. That was 4 adds and 4 multiplies, giving a whopping 1333 Flops!

Re-writing it in PASCAL tripled the speed, at the expense of reduced precision of 32 bit.

That was still so dreadfully slow that I re-wrote it again in Z80 assembler, bumping the precision back to 40 bit with my own routines. That ran at double the speed again, 1000 iterations/sec. Here I was able to replace a multiply by 2 with a single INC instruction, so I'll only claim 7 ops per iteration for 7 KFlops. I was still running renders up to 2 days at 320x400 resolution.

I have no idea how fast double precision could be done on a Z80, which is what is needed for a true comparison, maybe someone has done it and knows?

Is your old hardware made of gold, or just DIRT?


Digging up ore

There must be lots of ore buried in landfill, I'm sure that at some point in the future we'll be digging some of it back up.

As an aside, I'm curious to know whether modern solders are formulated in any way to reduce the occurrence tin whiskers.

interesting article.

@EddieD - surely a Cray-1 is worth something as a museum piece / historical artifact.

Airbus brews Scandium smackdown for carbon Dreamliner



"The most a failure of the latter (bicycle) can do is ruin one's crotch or day"

That's complete bollocks, as has already been mentioned elsewhere.

Anyone using an aluminium bicycle frame is nuts, and should be forced to take physics lessons to understand why. Steel only suffers metal fatigue when it is flexed more than a minimum amount, aluminium suffers metal fatigue when flexed by *any* amount. This was found out the hard way, when early alu aircraft fell out of the skies.

Aluminium is used for aircraft because weight is critical for performance and viability. Aircraft get lots of R&D to minimise the problems of aluminium, and regular thorough examinations to pick up the majority(*) of problems that still exist.

I doubt the same could be said for most bicycle frames.

(*) not all, i remember only this year a plane had a hole rip out of the fuselage skin, above the luggage racks IIRC. I don't think anybody was sucked out and torn limb from limb.

Corning launches can-stand-the-heat Lotus glass for phones


@ salerio

No, they don't need to say WHAT per degree C, thermal expansion is just a ratio.

How much it expands depends on how much you've got.

ITU heralds ultra-high def TV progress


I have a use for it

Just as soon as Xaos gains BigNum support, Multithread support, GPU acceleration and can distribute calculations across a large cluster (such as a second hand Tianhe supercomputer), then I want one!

Won't be needing 22.2 sound for that.

I don't expect the hardware to be cheap, except maybe the Tianhe.

Gravity wave detector gets more sensitive


I'm doubtful

These inferometric gravity wave detectors rather smack of using a ruler to measure itself.

Fingerprint scans learn to spot chopped-off fingers


Dead finger

Do they have a real chopped-off finger with which they can test their new scanner?

Dunno who the guy in the tiny little icon is, but he looks like the sort of person who would have a severed finger in one of his pockets.

Boxing boomers bounced building in Seoul


Nikola Tesla

Maybe Nikola Tesla was down in the basement with a hammer, tapping away steadily on the steel beams.

Sounds like a dodgy building they got there.

Panasonic TX-P65VT30 65in plasma 3D TV


3 man lift?

It took 3 of you to lift 60Kg? - You poofs.

Anyway, what's with the non-scrolling background image? The picture is crap anyway, and it just slows down the web browser, all for no reason. The online world lately seems to be going downhill just as much as the real world, I shall be wanting to give up on the online world too soon, where to go from here where things aren't a load of crap?

Earth may be headed into a mini Ice Age within a decade


11 year cycle

"The Sun normally follows an 11-year cycle of activity"

How do we know that? What we (OK, I) do know is that it has done that very recently (on solar system timescales), and that it has done other things in the past.

I would imagine that the interior on the Sun, as a dynamic system, is in general chaotic. It may flip chaotically between several different behaviors in much the same way as the lorenz attractor flips between tracing out 2 different unstable cycles.

In short, anything may happen, but is very unlikely to lead to the destruction of any significant proportion of the solar system. I hope you find these words soothing.

Spot-the-fake site launched


Waste of effort

I doubt you average chav really cares if something is genuine of fake, as long as it has the brand name stamped on it somewhere.

I never understand why people want to wear tops with "bench" or "lonsdale" or whatever stupid word written in big letters on them.

I find most goods, genuine branded or not, to be a load of shite nowadays.

Movie-goer punts 3D-to-2D cinema specs


Not New.

Mark Kermode done this ages ago


You take 2 pairs of 3d glasses, and swap the left lens of one with the right lens of the other.

Hot bodies get super-slippery when wet


It won't work

Pushing a ship either through or over the sea is vastly different to watching a drop of water dance about on a spoon heated over the gas cooker (I done that as a child, fire is great!).

If they're planning to ease the ship through the water, as ships move currently, then surely most of the resistance is due to moving the large bulk of water out of the way of the ship, and putting it back after the ship has passed. This won't change that.

If they're planning to ride the ship over the top of the water, then surely the waves will scupper that one.

Either way, sea salt will be deposited on the ship's hull, which won't help.

Even if the vapour layer does insulate well, warming the ship's hull up in the first place will require insane amounts of power.

This whole thing is just about as stupid as an article I once read in new scientist about supercavitation. The suggestion was to reduce the drag on an underwater passenger craft by going fast enough using rockets to cause deliberate cavitation at the rear of the craft. Not crashing into things like whales and other submarines would be difficult at several hundred mph, even if it did reduce drag.

Gordon Ramsay menaced by enormous TURKEY


Bell End

I've no idea what the video is about, given that I have that shit blocked mostly, but I did once drive through a place by the name of "Bell End". Unfortunately I didn't see a place name sign when I got there (I may have missed it), but it was clearly marked on my printed map, and is here:


6.9 miles due east of Kidderminster.

Personal jetpacks and solar-powered ships


ship power

A solar powered ship!

Well blow me down, what will they think of next, a wind powered one perhaps?


Can this solar ship not make the west to east return journey, or does it have to keep going round the world to get back to where it started?

Intel debuts '3D transistors' with 22nm chip recipe


Apples and Oranges

How much of the improvement is due to the new geometry, and how much to the process shrink?

How do the new 22nm tri-gate transistors compare with 22nm flat transistors?

When I read about this on the BBC, they seemed to be under the impression that the whole transistor was only 22nm across!

Windows phones send user location to Microsoft



Despite being paranoid, and currently stoned, my brainy brain brain thingy (we all have them, I'm reliably told), tells me that this one at least has another possible explanation.

Not wishing to defend microsoft, but signal strength and location data would be astoundingly useful in providing detailed coverage maps. Current maps are largely estimated.

Network operators could use the data to provide more masts where needed (there may be places where there are lots of people, but a poorer then expected signal strength). We'd all like that.

Microsoft could use publish the data themselves online, for us all to see. We'd all like that too.

The data will, of course, still be used for all the bad shit as well, which I'm dead against. Burn the bastards!!!

My brainy brain brain thingy can still type the keys! Look, no unintended spelling mistakes!

Carriers vs cops: Australia's spectrum conundrum


Sod the telco's

The emergency services should be given what they need.

1) Can the telco's not make it work in 35 MHz blocks?

2) If not, the telco's should take thier own advice and negotiate amongst themselves for access to the larger blocks.

Sinclair ZX81: 30 years old

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ZX81 Video circuitry

Steve the cynic is basically right, there was no dedicated video circuitry. There wasn't an FPGA either, there was a custom logic chip (made by Ferranti?) which replaced a bunch of standard logic chips that the ZX80 had, reducing the chip count from I believe 21 to 4 (or 5 on some units). There was some sort of hardware modification in the logic chip to allow slow mode, that would not work on a ZX80 with the ZX81 rom upgrade.

The video was generated with the help of the DRAM refresh cycle built into the Z80 microprocessor, this wasn't needed as the computer used static ram (1x 1K or 2x 512byte).

The refresh cycle was set up by sortware at the start of each scanline to generate addresses to read the screen data, the logic chip kept the Z80 executing NOPs (No OPeration instructions) for the duration of each line by basically shorting the data lines to ground.

Lots of use and abuse of the components, but they made a working computer system using just 4 chips all the way back then, and it was affordable. Within its rather tight limits (it was cheap) it was a very capable little machine.

You didn't mention the manual. The manual was awesome, it started right at the start (it had to, most owners would never have used a computer before), introduced more concepts as you read through, working up to documenting many of the inner workings. My favourite page is where it introduces the concept of variables by using the rapidly increasing price of eggs!

Your mind's '.brain' jpeg-like picture file format probed


At last!

“Psychological experiments have shown that subjects can still recognize line drawings of objects when flat edges are erased. But erasing angles and other regions of high curvature makes recognition difficult,” says Connor

So there is a scientific basis for childrens dot-to-dot pictures!

If you look at one (uncompleted) that has lots of curved lines broken up into dots, you can't easily tell what the picture is of. Much easier if the picture consists of straight lines broken up into dots.

Can you tell what it is yet?


LCD pushbutton sunglasses issued to US Navy SEALs


Response time

"Transition time is less than 0.5 seconds,"

That's far too slow to protect your eyes from a nuclear blast.

Harold Edgerton had the technology for that back in the 1940's, he used it to make a very fast shutter (<1µS) for a camera to photograph nuclear tests milliseconds after detonation.

Awesome pictures, e.g. http://simplethinking.com/home/rapatronic_2.shtml

'Air laser' tech could sniff bombs, probe atmos from afar

Black Helicopters


Lasers use reflecting surfaces at each end of the cavity, does the magic UV laser create these too at each end of the little cylinder of energised air?

I imagine it doesn't, and just produces a coherent light source which is fairly directional along the axis of the cylinder of air.

As others mention, it doesn't sound very safe. Does the little cylinder of air only emit IR, or is there any visible light too? It's bound to make a sound.

It also sounds like they haven't actually tried any sort of substance detecting stuff with it yet.

Best go with the laser warning symbol



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