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Comment I have no problem with this (Score 1) 130

because I ALWAYS let my banks know when I'm travelling abroad, and where I'm going to. That means that when I use a credit or debit card in a foreign country, they know that it's unlikely to be a fraudster with a cloned card, and if a withdrawal is made from my card in, say, Hong Kong when I've not told the bank I'm travelling there, then they know it's fraudulent.

Therefore I have absolutely no problem with them knowing from, say, a hotel IP address, where I'm located if I use my laptop to log in to my accounts.

Comment Re:Time for a standardized DC power outlet in home (Score 3, Interesting) 198

The reason for electricity mains operating at a dangerously high voltage is that it reduces the current flowing through the wiring which therefore reduces voltage drops and wasted energy due to heat dissipation in the wiring.

IMHO the best way to maximise power efficiency is to use a decent quality switching power supply, either a wall wart or built in, which is correctly matched to the requirements of the equipment. I think manufacturers are getting better at this, for example my Virgin Media "Superhub" which is supplied with what appears to be a decent quality switching supply so both the hub and the wall wart are only slightly warm to the touch, certainly not hot.

I recall purchasing, something like 10 years ago, a small 5 port Ethernet switch which was supplied with the usual cheap wall wart with a simple transformer and rectifier inside. Both the switch and the wall wart ran uncomfortably hot with, I assume, a linear voltage regulator inside the switch which would have slowly roasted itself to death sometime after the warranty period expired. Not satisfied, I tried powering the switch with a laboratory supply which I adjusted to the minimum voltage required for the switch to operate reliably. Then I purchased from CPC a decent quality switch mode wall wart of the same voltage, which I think cost me several quid more than the switch did, and the switch has been running with no problems, just a little warm, ever since. Having used a plug in power meter on both wall warts I reckoned that the switch mode unit paid for itself in two years and the switch has lasted several times longer than I would have expected it to with he cheap over voltage supply. WIN-WIN!

Submission Why the hell is it even possible to crash an aircraft?

flightmaker writes: Or a cruise liner?

I just want to say, with the sophistication of modern aircraft, the on board navigation systems should know for themselves that it's a stupid thing to do to set the autopilot to 100m altitude when the ground terrain is, for example, 2000m altitude and simply prohibit it from being done.

Similarly, why are pilots permitted by the navigation systems to fly an aircraft on any old course? I refer to the MH17 incident. And why could captain Francesco Schettino steer the Costa Concordia so far off course without alarm bells going off? Surely with GPS systems fitted to all aircraft and ships, it should be a simple matter to prevent a captain taking an aircraft or ship outside a pre-defined corridor.

Modern aircraft can supposedly fly themselves from A to B, with the pilot being there to take action in emergencies. So why not let them do just that? Allow the pilot a suitably wide corridor to avoid thunderstorms, but lock out the controls if the aircraft goes off limits. If the aircraft suffers, for example, an engine failure and needs to be put down, hand over full control to the pilot, no questions asked.

If a cruise liner goes off limits, auto stop the engines and send in a boarding party.

There you have my disaster prevention ideas. I'd love to see comments in particular from Airbus and Boeing.

Comment In the case of dangerous fakes.... (Score 1) 284

My main problem is with the jerks who put out fake booze made from industrial methanol, dangerous fake electrical products, fake brake parts, fake aircraft parts etc. Any of these can cause injury or death, so the perpetrators, when caught, need to be put away where they can do no harm for a damn sight longer than 10 years.

Comment Re:Sweet F A (Score 1) 576

I don't think that to us, the sight of a space ship from another world would be such a shock as, say, a portable generator, DVD player and flat screen TV would be to people in the 16th century. We have historical records, so we know how technology has advanced during the past few centuries and assume that it will continue during the next few centuries. Assuming that we don't wipe ourselves out, which I think is much more likely than interstellar visitors.

We already know how to build rudimentary space ships. We just need a better drive system which may or may not be possible.....

Comment Re:Sweet F A (Score 1) 576

I am quite sure that if you went back 500 years and took modern technology with you, it would look quite "godlike" to those people.

I don't think I'd recommend a 500 year jump. You'd likely find yourself burning on a large stake, or drowning in the nearest body of water. OTOH it would be fun to go back and take Henry Ford for a spin in a GT40 or a Shelby Mustang. He and the other people around at the time would understand the engineering principles so you'd be perfectly safe.

Comment It also depends on the fuel (Score 1) 403

Firstly, I use petrol.

I now avoid all supermarket fuel, since the last time I bought a tank full (not saying where) that drove like all the staff had pissed into it and I really thought the poor car was going to give up and break down on it. Until then, mileage per gallon seemed to vary from tank full to tank full, suggesting to me that quality varies, so now I avoid the stuff altogether.

What surprised me recently, though, was that when I filled my 2003 Honda Jazz at a particular station on the way home from a weekend visit to a friend, and started driving off after resetting the trip counter as usual, the mpg indicator immediately started showing a far higher number than usual. So, I tried driving for economy for the rest of the 20 or so miles journey home which has a variety of level and hills, and when I got home it had done 64.5 miles per imperial gallon. What the hell was going on? I usually get more like 47 or 48 mpg.

I can only assume that the tanker driver accidentally dumped the "good stuff" super unleaded into the ordinary unleaded tank, because last weekend I purposely bought the more expensive super unleaded (again I'm not saying which brand) and achieved exactly the same mpg on the way home. If this is consistent, it's actually worth buying the more expensive grade of fuel to get the extra mpg.

My friend who has a 2005 Jazz is going to try the same experiment with the same fuel from the same filling station to do the same journey. We'll see!

My very limited experiment of three tanks of fuel also suggests that you get more mpg with the fuel from one brand than from others. So, I know what I'm buying in future.

Comment What a total load of bollocks! (Score 1) 478

At 55 years old I'm one of the youngest members of my walking club.

The guy I maybe admire most (although I would never tell him that!) is 75 years old now, and goes striding up hills that would defeat many 20 year olds. Most of the members are retirees, and absolutely loving and living life to the full.

Life is partly reaping what you sow, partly luck.

If you eat crap, smoke, don't exercise, you can look forward to a miserable and early death. If your parents taught you to cook, and instilled in you enjoyment of exercise and the great outdoors rather than sitting on a fat arse in front of a games console eating chips and burgers, then you're off to a flying start.

On the other hand, you can be just plain unlucky. My wife started developing MND at maybe 45, and suffocated to death at 50.

The lady customer of 92 who I drove to her home last week, after a holiday to the USA, is a little slow these days and has to use a walking stick to get around, but I hope that at 92 my mind is still as sharp as hers is today. Will I still be able to code in C++? Who can tell?

Looking on the bright side, I have a photo of my great grandfather who, also at 92, was looking very dapper, dressed up in his suit, out in the countryside with his bicycle. He got it exactly right - he went to bed one night, slept peacefully, and didn't wake.

Don't expect and look forward to death, be good to yourself and with good luck, look forward to a long and fulfilling life.

Comment Re:35mm film (Score 1) 635

I've got some Fuji Provia 400 and Velvia 50 in the the back of the fridge, in 120 roll format. I keep promising myself that I'll get it out one day and run it through my Bronica. Load the finished film into slide carriers and project it for the ultimate image quality. So long as you can tolerate some inevitable dust contamination nothing else comes close.

Unless anybody here uses large format?

We warn the reader in advance that the proof presented here depends on a clever but highly unmotivated trick. -- Howard Anton, "Elementary Linear Algebra"