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Comment: Re:Actually, it does ! (Score 4, Insightful) 375

We've actually paid more tax per head, and received less back per head, than England for every one of the last 110 years, which is as far back as the available data goes. So it's long before the discovery of oil.

However, that's not the point. The United Kingdom has, through imperialism and military adventurism, very reasonably made itself the second most hated nation on the planet. I'm tired of being embarrassed to travel on a UK passport. I'm tired of paying taxes to bomb other people's countries. I'm tired of my country providing bases for the US to set up its torture centres. I'm tired of my country supporting every two-bit dictator who will buy weapons.

We can do better than this - and we will.

Comment: Political background (Score 4, Insightful) 151

by Simon Brooke (#47447527) Attached to: Scotland Could Become Home To Britain's First Spaceport

Relax, everyone. This is a non-story; it isn't going to happen, and no-one seriously expects it to.

We're having a referendum in September on whether to separate from the UK and become an independent nation. The UK government has woken up - very late - to the realisation that it's quite likely to lose, and consequently will also lose its only nuclear submarine base, 90% of its oil revenue, and probably its permanent seat on the UN security council. Consequently they're panicking and offering us all sorts of unlikely bribes. The spaceport won't happen because

  1. If we vote 'yes', it's not going to be an urgent priority of the Scottish government;
  2. if we vote 'no', this and all the other promised bribes will be quietly forgotten.

So relax. The fact that there's no money and no commercial use for it, and that we're too far from the equator, doesn't matter; no-one seriously intends to build it. It's a media stunt, pure and simple. It isn't going to happen.

Comment: Personal Hub (Score 4, Interesting) 56

by Simon Brooke (#47422709) Attached to: The Future of Wearables: Standalone, Unobtrusive, and Everywhere

Probably the future of wearables is the personal hub.

The problem with wearables is that a radio capable of sustaining a connection to the outside world - be it 4g or wifi - needs a fair bit of power and consequently quite a lot of battery. So devices have to be fairly chunky, or else have to be recharged more often than you'd like. But your bluetooth mouse probably goes months on one charge - mine certainly does. So the solutions is to have a device mounted discreetly on your belt or in your handbag, or carried in a pocket, which just acts as a personal hub/firewall, doing backhaul for your wearables. It doesn't need a screen. It doesn't need apps. But once it's paired with your wearables, you can use a device which has no backhaul capability to make phone calls or to access any service on the Internet.

This is an extension of how Google Glass or your Pebble watch already uses your smartphone. The smartphone acts as a personal hub. But if the display you actually use is the one on your Glass or the one on your Pebble, you don't need the big, fragile, power-hungry screen on your smartphone any more; so the personal hub can be cheaper and much more durable than any smartphone.

Once you've got that concept, there are other services that a personal hub can supply to your wearables, for example storage.

Comment: Re:Modern Day Anti-Evolutionists (Score 3, Insightful) 497

by Simon Brooke (#47414851) Attached to: Climate Change Skeptic Group Must Pay Damages To UVA, Michael Mann

Ain't going to happen, sadly. As the temperate zone moves closer to the world's poles, and the regions we're currently growing cereal crops on become progressively more arid, there is simply less area of land (square miles or kilometres or however you want to measure it) on which crops can be grown - and that's ignoring the costs of clearing and draining that land, and all the effects of ecocide.

At the same time as this is happening, of course, all our critical infrastructure will become unusable unless we make huge new investments in flood walls. For example, I work for a major international bank, which, obviously, has its critical data infrastructure replicated in seven cities across the globe. Only one problem: in six of those seven cities, our data centres are within ten metres of current sea level. Most major financial centres are old port cities, and all old port cities are on the coast. So over the next fifty years we have to either all relocate our trading infrastructure, or else abandon it. What I expect will happen is that we'll delay and dawdle until it's too late, and then our whole civilisation will collapse under the combined pressures of hunger, refugees, and rising water levels.

We're already past the point where there's any hope of the planet being able to support even half its current population in 100 years time. The real policy question is how we now radically reduce the population without war, pestilence, famine and death.

Comment: Re:Text adventure game (Score 1) 100

by Simon Brooke (#47323865) Attached to: Building the Infinite Digital Universe of <em>No Man's Sky</em>

Yeah i think it has 8 galaxies with 256 star systems in each all in 64K

Errr.... no. The BBC Micro had 32K, but in the mode Elite ran in the screen was eating about 20K of that. So it had 8 galaxies with 256 star systems in each - each with names, systems of governance, markets, et cetera - about twenty different ship types, and the physics and rendering engines - all in less than 14K.

I still think that's awesome. And, while I'm very impressed with what I've seen of No Man's Sky, the procedural universe of Elite Dangerous looks even more spectacular.

Full disclosure - I spent most of my final year of university playing Elite.

Comment: Re:So what? (Score 1) 193

by Simon Brooke (#47307993) Attached to: First Phone Out of Microsoft-Nokia -- and It's an Android

If Windows Phone were a good platform, or even an average sort of platform, why would Microsoft (who get it for free) sell a phone with anything else installed?

I've (personally) never used Windows Phone, so I don't have an opinion; but their choice of Android for this device is hardly a ringing endorsement of their in-house technology.

Comment: Re: Not likely. (Score 1) 365

My Asus machines have out lasted my ownership and the second owners are still using them.... Since when does everything fall apart because it's not apple? Lol Next time look at the Apple desks at the Apple store and realize that most of those people are receiving support or repairs

Work bough an Asus Zenbook Prime, one of the BEST Ultrabooks out there. Dollar for dollar, it beats the Macbook Air at its own game. Spec sheet wise, ditto - it simply outclassed it in every way we could measure - for the same price, you got a computer with a higher res screen, good construction, etc.

Just like mine...

But you know what? The power cable broke off the adapter! We ended up with an interesting jury rigged thing involving a Kingston Traveller power supply and lots of pigtails until our hardware technician saw the mess, and redid it nicely with solder and heatshrink tubing making a nice cable.

...also just like mine (except on mine it broke the motherboard, so the tech had to do some exceedingly fine soldering and bodge on a new external socket). The Macbook power cable connector is a thing of enviable excellence and pure common sense. Damaged power connectors are a main cause of laptop failure, and Macbooks just don't have the problem. Whatever you think of Mac software, the hardware is the best around.

Comment: Re:Not likely. (Score 1) 365

Absolutely. I thought long and hard about a MacBook Air before I bought the (superficially very similar, and nearly as expensive) Asus Zenbook which is my current laptop. My reason for not buying the Air was it seemed silly to buy a Mac when I was just going to strip MacOS off it to put Linux on... but I just stripped Windows off the Zenbook to put Linux on. About six months after I bought it, the Zenbook fell off the arm of a sofa onto its power connector, and although I've bodged a repair it's a bodge. If I'd bought a Macbook Air I wouldn't have the problem.

Macbooks are the best built laptop hardware available just now, whatever you may think of the software (and, if like me, you don't like Apple's software, you can just ditch it and put something of your preference on instead). Microsoft Surface? H'mmm, don't know, I've never actually seen one. But I very much doubt they're in the same league.

This is a very cheap offer for Microsoft to make, because my bet is they won't get a single taker.

Comment: 1986 (Score 1) 204

by Simon Brooke (#47273127) Attached to: X Window System Turns 30 Years Old

I first saw X on Apollo workstations in 1986. At that date all the Sun workstations in the lab still ran a windowing system called 'News', if I remember correctly. I saw X on both Suns and Silicon Graphics workstations before 1988, and on DEC Station and RS/6000 machines shortly thereafter. We also had PERQ machines in the lab but I don't believe they ever ran X. In those days I used Xerox 1108 and 1186 machines, which didn't run X.

The first machine I personally owned which ran X was an Acorn R260 running Risc IX (BSD 4.2) in 1990. I switched to Linux at kernel 0.99pl11 in 1993, which is to say more than twenty years ago.

Gosh.

Top Ten Things Overheard At The ANSI C Draft Committee Meetings: (8) I'm on the committee and I *still* don't know what the hell #pragma is for.

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