* Posts by Paul Kinsler

813 posts • joined 9 Aug 2007


Intrepid squid mission may help in kraken riddle of why zero-g makes astronauts sick

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: Clothes washing

Hmm. Would you also need carefully balanced counter-rotating washing machine spins so as to avoid also gradually rotating the whole space station in a possibly inconvenient manner? :-)

It's 2021 and a printf format string in a wireless network's name can break iPhone Wi-Fi

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: Time to try a fresh honepot

Downvotes? It would seem that the events of 1845 in Kororāreka (Russell) are still far too fresh in the minds of some around here. I can imagine Chief Heke being quite pleased that his actions still resonate today.

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: Time to try a fresh honepot

Is that like when you leave a temptingly sharp axe next to a flagpole flying the Union Jack? :-)



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

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: the rate of coin mining

I would guess that the rate of mining remains a small fraction of the total number of coin (to avoid bitflation).

But the other problem is the volatility, which (IMO) has little to to do with the rate of mining, and is instead due to speculation and external shocks to its perceived value and/or utility. I'm not an economist, but I'd have thought you wanted something like the total value transferred in transactions to be overwhelmingly made in very-many, very-small amounts; and that even the biggest transactions remained significantly smaller than this background; and that conversions of other value into or out of bitcoin were similarly distributed.

What job title would YOU want carved on your gravestone? 'Beloved father, Slayer of Dragons, Register of Domains'

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: Headphones - Bone Fone

Bone fone? Fonebone?

Shades of Don Martin!

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: Exploring cemetries

Perhaps there is someone in London who could help you finish that. It's quite populous, for a tiny unfinished village in the middle of nowhere :-)

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: Samuel Holberry, Charterist

[died in prison] "for advocating what to him appeared to be the true interests of the people of England."

I happened across the gravestone quite by accident a few decades ago in Sheffield General Cemetery; and have always been impressed by the very careful wording.

Japan assembles superteam of aircraft component manufacturers to build supersonic passenger plane

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: The sky was the colour of television, tuned to a dead channel

On the plus side, dead channels now show up as bright blue. So the future *is* here, if it's a nice sunny day.

Dependable Debian is like a rock in a swirling gyre of 'move fast and break things', and version 11 is no different

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: Debian ... a little boring and behind the times on the desktop.

Well, that's not fair. You can run a few xterms under twm on *most* linux distros, not just debian. :-)

Michigan Micro Mote works well escargot: Tiny computer makes it into the field strapped to backs of predatory snails

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: link to paper


Millimeter-sized smart sensors reveal that a solar refuge protects tree snail Partula hyalina from extirpation

Communications Biology volume 4, Article number: 744 (2021)

Linux 5.13 hits rc5, isn’t yet calm, Linus Torvalds is only mildly perturbed

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: Mainstream distributions work on most hardware without a problem,

In my fairly long experience it's *recent* laptops, not old ones, that have a problem with hardware drivers when installing linux. For a few recent laptops I've had to get a newer kernel, or install the very latest firmware (usually wifi card related), or perhaps tweak the display config. Nothing too demanding, but I imagine more than enough to put off any not-especially motivated windows user, and certainly reasonable grounds for a gripe or two.

But old laptops? I don't ever recall having a problem.

Home Office slams PNC tech team: 'Inadequate testing' of new code contributed to loss of 413,000 records

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

an affective spell checker

Apparently "affective" is actually a word - e.g. relating to, arising from, or influencing feelings or emotions : emotional.

So perhaps their spell chucker was just fine. It is however hard to imagine why actual "affective testing" might be useful in this context.

Graph databases to map AI in massive exercise in meta-understanding

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

... analyse network relationships

.. at which point you might decide to start with some basics, like here:


The Atlas for the Aspiring Network Scientist

Michele Coscia

Network science is the field dedicated to the investigation and analysis of complex systems via their representations as networks. We normally model such networks as graphs: sets of nodes connected by sets of edges and a number of node and edge attributes. This deceptively simple object is the starting point of never-ending complexity, due to its ability to represent almost every facet of reality: chemical interactions, protein pathways inside cells, neural connections inside the brain, scientific collaborations, financial relations, citations in art history, just to name a few examples. If we hope to make sense of complex networks, we need to master a large analytic toolbox: graph and probability theory, linear algebra, statistical physics, machine learning, combinatorics, and more.

This book aims at providing the first access to all these tools. It is intended as an "Atlas", because its interest is not in making you a specialist in using any of these techniques. Rather, after reading this book, you will have a general understanding about the existence and the mechanics of all these approaches. You can use such an understanding as the starting point of your own career in the field of network science. This has been, so far, an interdisciplinary endeavor. The founding fathers of this field come from many different backgrounds: mathematics, sociology, computer science, physics, history, digital humanities, and more. This Atlas is charting your path to be something different from all of that: a pure network scientist.

Ethics isn't a county east of London, but it's the only way to look at security

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: So I don't have a personal cynical definition.

Perhaps not, but if I google/bing/duck that very phrase, I get no useful hits. My own concise oxford dictionary does not have that definition, but "1. relating to morals, treating of moral questions, morally correct, honourable; 2. set of principles of morals, science of morals, moral principles, rules of conduct, whole field of moral science."

If, as I believe you say, your preferred definition, as quoted by you, is from 1789, you do at least to seem to have personally chosen a rather cynical take on an archaic definition ... unless you are about 240 years old, I suppose, which might explain your preference.

I think that if wanted to make a further point here, it would be this: "morally correct" does not imply (only) behaviour only just "moral", or such should be better described as "not immoral"; likewise the words "honourable" or "ethical" do not imply similarly borderline behaviour. It is your apparent choice to say that "ethically" applies only(or at least primarily) to barely ethical or borderline unethical behaviour that strikes me as that of a cynic.

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: Ethics ...

... according to the Cambridge dictionary, is:

"the study of what is morally right and wrong, or a set of beliefs about what is morally right and wrong"

... which I am not sure is the same as your proposed definition (irrespective of how useful the distinction you are making might be).

OK, so we don't have a flying car yet, but this is possibly even better: The Internet of Beer

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

OK, so we don't have a flying car yet ...

As I looked out of the window today, at the bright cloudless skies of London, it occurred to me that some part of the Future *was* here. After all, a little way down river, in the vicinity of Tilbury, this was true:

“The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.”

That is, bright blue :-)

MI5 wants to shed its cocktail-guzzling posho image – so it's opened an Instagram account

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: They need a Facebook / ...

Nah. Just a few random posts here on El Reg - which will clearly establish them as the sort of people who quite plausibly wouldn't have any social media :-)

Sucks to be you, any aliens living anywhere near Proxima Centauri's record-smashing solar flare

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: amoebas don't have tentacles, they have pseudopods.

I think a highly advanced and technologically proficient species - whether of amoeboid type or not - will just give itself any damn sort of appendage it wants to have. :-)

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: move the Earth to a higher orbit,

Like this?

The 'Earth Rocket': a Method for Keeping the Earth in the Habitable Zone

Mark A. Wessels

The Sun is expected to increase its radiant output by about 10% per billion years. The rate at which the radius of the Earth's orbit would need to increase in order to keep the present value of the Sun's radiant flux at the Earth constant is calculated. The mechanical power required to achieve this is also calculated. Remarkably, this is a small fraction (2.3%) of the total solar flux currently intercepted by the Earth. Treating the Earth itself as a rocket, the thrust required to increase the orbit is found, as well as the rate of mass ejection. The Earth has sufficient mass to maintain this rate for several billion years, allowing for the possibility that the Earth could remain habitable to biological life for billions of years into the future.


Apple, you've AirDrop'd the ball: Academics detail ways to leak contact info of nearby iThings for spear-phishing

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

how an SHA256 hash can be cracked in milliseconds?

I presume the task is greatly simplified since phone numbers consist only of digits.

Lego's Space Shuttle Discovery: No trouble with Hubble, but the stickers will drive a grown man to insanity

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Lego Technic 8480

That does indeed look /very/ nice.

Oh hello. Haven't heard much from you lately: Linux veteran Slackware rides again with a beta of version 15

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

2016's 14.2.

Well, if you must, you can always run Slackware current. :-)


And for non-core stuff, the slackbuilds.org versions often stay updated pretty well. Frequently easier to update IME than trying to find a new-version deb for my Stretch installs (but maybe my debian-fu is just weak).

UK government opens vaccine floodgates to over-45s, NHS website predictably falls over

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: vaccinations are being handled by GROCERY STORES.

Just out of curiousity, is this perhaps because some grocery stores have pharmacy counters and pharmacists on site?

Neural networks give astronomers huge boost in identifying galaxies: 27 million done, 600 million to come

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: the speed of light isn't a constant,

The speed of light (in its space-time metric/ relativistic sense), is probably best just given the value 1. It's simply the maximum speed allowed by the universe.

Any other amusing numerical values and units given to the speed of light based on cultural mores, perhaps based on archaic unit systems or the like are simply a matter local convenience (or deliberate weirdness) on the part of the user. :-)

Feature bloat: Psychology boffins find people tend to add elements to solve a problem rather than take things away

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

until there's nothing left t

Reminds me somewhat of the stained glass window reconstruction project in KW Jeter's 'The Glass Hammer' ...

CERN boffins zap antimatter with ultraviolet lasers in the hope of revealing the secret symmetry of the universe

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: photons - particles, except that they aren't…

Indeed; photons are countable, but, unlike massive particles, are not also naturally localizable (although you can always build yourself a shiny-on-the-inside box and use it as a trap :-).

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: no mass at rest, gaining it as a side-effect of their energy.

The source term in GR is the stress-energy tensor, and so it is in fact not even necessary to consider a "rest mass", unless for some other reason it happens to be useful.

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: Space is just a coordinate system of our choosing

Not really - you might like to know there are physicists and mathematicians who very much prefer to write things in entirely coordinate-free notation (perhaps at this point you might look up the definition of a tensor).

We can certainly put coordinate systems of our choosing onto a chosen space (or a spacetime), but how useful this is depends very much on the spacetime and the coordindates (e.g. a black hole spacetime, and the non-trivial process of getting coordinates that work at the event horizon).

New systemd 248 feature 'extension images' updates immutable file systems without really updating them

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: why in hell?

Yeah, enough about systemd already. Where's this year's April Fool article?

Distorted light from ancient explosion when the Universe was 3 billion years old helps point astroboffins to intermediate black hole

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: "electro-magnetic photons"

Perhaps "dark photons"?


... which are indeed apparently a thing, of sorts.

However, in this case it was probably just belt-n-braces journalistic description.

Yes, there's nothing quite like braving the M4 into London on the eve of a bank holiday just to eject a non-bootable floppy

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

so that the robot can read the bar code and know where it is

Perhaps these days you could ask them to send you a photo of the bar code in place on the wall, so you can "check for its readability in the light conditions" or something. They can either refuse or have to remove the poster themselves, the latter of which might resolve the problem. And if they might be inclined to put the poster back asap, ask for three photos at ten minute intervals, or whatever time it might take for the robot to recover :-)

The kids aren't all right: Fall in GCSE compsci students is bad news for employers and Britain's future growth plans

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: Because not enough people can type?

We can fix that ... ... by using computer languages which are not strongly typed! :-)

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: makes no contribution to the final mark so it is kind of pointless.

Such a judgement might depend on whether you thought the goal was actually to learn, or merely to pass exams ...


...although of course in practice the two are linked.

Boldly going where Elon Musk will probably go before: NASA successfully tests SLS Moon rocket core stage

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

a proper unit of time

Well, I would suggests the "badger's heatbeat", but that's probably too close to a second to be much use...

Where did the water go on Mars? Maybe it's right under our noses: Up to 99% may still be in planet's crust

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: I think Venus is a better long-term option ...

Or perhaps:


Terraforming the dwarf planet: Interconnected and growable Ceres megasatellite world

Pekka Janhunen

We analyse a megasatellite settlement built from Ceres materials in high Ceres orbit. Ceres is selected because it has nitrogen, which is necessary for an earthlike atmosphere. To have $1 g$ artificial gravity, spinning habitats are attached to a disk-shaped megasatellite frame by passively safe magnetic bearings. The habitats are illuminated by concentrated sunlight produced by planar and parabolic mirrors. The motivation is to have a settlement with artificial gravity that allows growth beyond Earth's living area, while also providing easy intra-settlement travel for the inhabitants and reasonably low population density of 500 /km$^2$. To enable gardens and trees, a 1.5 m thick soil is used. The soil is upgradable to 4 m if more energy is expended in the manufacturing phase. The mass per person is $10^7$ kg, most of which is lightly processed radiation shield and soil. The goal is a long-term sustainable world where all atoms circulate. Because intra-settlement travel can be propellantless, achieving this goal is possible at least in principle. Lifting the materials from Ceres is energetically cheap compared to processing them into habitats, if a space elevator is used. Because Ceres has low gravity and rotates relatively fast, the space elevator is feasible.

PSA: If you're still giving users admin rights, maybe try not doing that. Would've helped dampen 100+ Microsoft vulns last year – report

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: Better idea.

I use mutt and have thing where I can pipe html emails (or parts of emails) through "lynx -dump" to render them in a text-compatible and fairly readable manner. Can you not do something similar?

Millimetre-sized masses: Physics boffins measure smallest known gravitational field (so far)

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: General relativity

It would be slightly better to say something like: gravity is not really a force, but a result of the spacetime curvature caused by masses.

GitLab latest to ditch 'master' as default initial branch name: It's now simply called 'main'

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: Information?

Here's an alternate discussion to the link I found above (or at least it has a wider context), for those interested in such topics...


Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: But that won't make any impression

What I find often doesn't make an impression is turning disagreements into a confrontation, which typically just tends to end up with everyone staying entrenched in their starting position and not really engaging with the other side.

I'm curious, though. Why do you say to me "your page", when I tried to be very clear that it was nothing to do with me, but just an alternative pov I happened to find, and I rather deliberately did not even claim to believe it. I'm also not sure why a disagreement about the appropriateness of some words seems to have been amplified into the apparently emotive "stealing our language". I guess we just have different strategies for how we approach these things.

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: Information?

Well, rather than just trying to slap the poster down with the mighty force of my righteous wrath -- based solely on a single webpage I happened to find after probably less than a minute of looking -- I thought I might just ask whether they had a good reason for their belief.

This means I can remain polite whilst still directly questioning the reason for their belief, give them a chance to answer and provide whatever reasons they might have in a non-confrontational context, and (even better) not look like a knee-jerk reactionary if it so happens that they *do* have an excellent basis for their assertion. A win all-round, IMO ... but YMMV.

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: nitty gritty

Well, this link


disagrees with the slavery angle you suggest, but then it's just a thing thrown up by a quick search. Have you any more information?

You only need pen and paper to fool this OpenAI computer vision code. Just write down what you want it to see

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: The problem is perhaps more with the question which was asked.

Or, perhaps, the problem is with the humans who don't understand the *actual* question that was asked, they only understand what they *think* they asked. :-)

Remember, your code is not required to do what you want it to to. It only does what you tell it to do (i.e. have coded it to do).

Memo to scientists. Looking for intelligent life? Have you tried checking for worlds with a lot of industrial pollution?

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: "`Oumuamua, the first-known foreign interstellar object to visit the Solar System"

Some alternative arguments are here:

`Oumuamua is not Artificial

J. I. Katz


The 40-Year-Old Version: ZX81's sleek plastic case shows no sign of middle-aged spread

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: "Some dealt with the RAM pack with..."

... and now I think of it, I even have my old fx785p, a clamshell thing that was more progammable and even allowed you to work in (its) assembly language ... not sure why it didn't have an exciting large marketing number like the 3600p, given it had more features. And for that, the manual are even in a non-tatty condition ... especially the assembly language one, which saw little use.

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: "Some dealt with the RAM pack with..."

What catches my eye is the Casio 702p on page 13, was it my brother that had one? But I still have the 3600p which I bought some time later... even, somehow, still with the manuals!

Boffins trap ultra-cold plasma-in-a-bottle, a move that may unlock secrets of exotic stars

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: Anyone seen Mr Heisingberg's invitaton to the party?

It's not as binary as a simple reading of your remark might seem to be implying.

The more accurately you know about position, the less about momentum, and vice versa; but the thing that is bounded is the *product* of the position uncertainty and momentum uncertainty; but fortunately bounded by a number generally regarded as small, i.e. Planck's constant.

Valheim: How the heck has more 'indie shovelware with PS2 graphics' sold 4 million copies in a matter of weeks?

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: your nascent civilisation would be ground down to the bedrock l

I played a game of Diplomacy like that - first ever game, first turn, immediately attacked and crippled by an opposing alliance, ceased to exist shortly after. Put me right off, I can tell you. :-/

NTT boffins reckon they’ve out-randomed current quantum random number generators

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: It's not random.

I think the easiest thing to do here is to review the derivation of the quantum optical master equation (e.g. Louisell, 1973, Quantum Statistical Properties of Radiation) so you can see an example of how probabalistic behaviour can arise in quantum systems. Good luck! :-)

NASA sends nuclear tank 293 million miles to Mars, misses landing spot by just five metres. Now watch its video

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: it's difficult to top the footage from Cassini-Huygens

I tend to agree, and I think it stands up now if you remember that was way back in 2005 on a probe launched in 1997. Of course, iirc, the Cassini-Huygens video was something of a construct built from not-really-video sources.

MMV, naturally. What seems "best ever" is often dependent on ones age and personal history.

Spotify to introduce lossless audio streaming: Better sound or inefficient gimmick?

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: a room full of audiophiles couldn't tell the difference

My impression is that a lot of the "audiophile" angle is more about the ceremony of listening, rather than actual the sounds hitting their ears. The idea that everything is set up just-so with high quality components adds to their enjoyment.

For example, I have some very nice drinks glasses. Although I have no expectation that the beverage within actually tastes any different; sitting down and relaxing with a drink from a very nice glass is just generally a more experience pleasant than slugging something down from a generic cylinder whilst in the middle of some household chore. It's not just about the beverage, it's the whole experience package.

Mind you, audiophile pricing is just crazy. Even my nice drinks glasses were less than £10 each. I do find it hard to believe the "ceremony" bonus in listening can really be worth that much. Still, it's their choice.



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