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Comment Re:What the fuck are they talking about? (Score 1) 109

What does currency have to do with weight?

A pound coin originally weighed one troy pound (around 370g) of sterling silver; this is why the currency is called "Pounds Sterling". Nowadays the pound coin is made of copper, zinc, and nickel, and they weigh less than 10g.

I'm not sure why the # symbol on telephones is called "pound" in America though, especially when on Twitter it's referred to as the "hash tag". In the UK it's called "hash", whether it's on phones, or typewriters, or keyboards, or Twitter. I've occasionally heard Americans refer to it as the "grid" button (again, talking about phones), which makes more sense than "pound".

Comment Re: Not bad (Score 1) 166

The winds on Mars would never be enough to cause the rocket to topple over, because the atmospheric pressure is so low. Yes, the atmospheric gases move at hundreds of miles per hour in a storm - but the most they seem to be capable of is kicking up dust.

Comment Re:Oilfield services company (Score 4, Informative) 93

They're typically used in wireline logging (real-time collection of down-well data, used for measuring the mineral content of strata being drilled through - this is how they're able to tell there are hydrocarbons present). They also use them to measure flow rate.

This Wikipedia article is reasonably good:

"As of 2003 the isotopes Antimony-124, argon-41, cobalt-60, iodine-131, iridium-192, lanthanum-140, manganese-56, scandium-46, sodium-24, silver-110m, technetium-99m, and xenon-133 were most commonly used by the oil and gas industry because they are easily identified and measured.[3][5] Bromine-82, Carbon-14, hydrogen-3, iodine-125 are also used.[3][4]"

Submission + - Apple CEO Tim Cook Goes Thermonuclear On FBI Over iPhone Backdoor Demand (

MojoKid writes: Ever since Tim Cook took over the reigns as CEO of Apple in 2011, the mild-mannered man from Alabama seemed quite the polar opposite of the late and great Steve Jobs. But that southern charm has been stripped away following the decision by a U.S. Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym that would force Apple to provide backdoor access to an iPhone 5c that was used by the terrorists that killed 14 people during a mass shooting on December 2nd in San Bernardino. Up until this point, the mild-mannered Cook has spoken in a firm tone about his company's unwillingness to provide backdoors but the yesterday's ruling unleashed a bit of fire from Cook that we have never seen before. In an open letter, Cook explains that Apple has done everything in its power to help the FBI with "requested data that's in our possession" and that it has "[complied] with valid subpoenas and search warrants" in relation to the San Bernardino case. Cook goes on to state "We have no sympathy for terrorists." But Apple's CEO then changes gears and moves from relatively diplomatic language to accusing the FBI and the U.S. Government of putting us all at risk. "[They have] asked us for something we simply do not have, and something we consider too dangerous to create. They have asked us to build a backdoor to the iPhone [which would circumvent] several important security features, and install it on an iPhone recovered during the investigation. In the wrong hands, this software — which does not exist today — would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone's physical possession. The FBI may use different words to describe this tool, but make no mistake: Building a version of iOS that bypasses security in this way would undeniably create a backdoor... Rather than asking for legislative action through Congress, the FBI is proposing an unprecedented use of the All Writs Act of 1789 to justify an expansion of its authority. While we believe the FBI's intentions are good, it would be wrong for the government to force us to build a backdoor into our products. And ultimately, we fear that this demand would undermine the very freedoms and liberty our government is meant to protect."

Submission + - Student project aims to create a map of water on the moon (

MarkWhittington writes: When NASA's heavy lift Space Launch System lifts off on its maiden flight in 2018 it will carry an uncrewed version of the Orion spacecraft for a trip around the moon. The SLS will also take 13 shoebox sized CubeSats that will perform various scientific missions, around the moon, to asteroids, and other destinations in deep space. One of the CubeSats is a project being built by students at Arizona State University and is called the Lunar Polar Hydrogen Mapper or LunarH-Map for short.

Submission + - Release of ReactOS 0.4 brings open source Windows closer to reality (

jeditobe writes: What's new in ReactOS 0.4?
The release of ReactOS 0.4 brings improved file system support, including native, out-of-the-box support for ext2, ext3, and ext4, as well as read-only support for NTFS.

Additionally, the bundled version of UniATA was updated to add better support for SATA and PATA devices. Support was generally improved for third-party device drivers, making it substantially easier to install and use real hardware, as opposed to just virtual machines like VirtualBox.

The internal WINE library was updated to improve support for Win32 programs. Support for Python 2.7 was added, making it possible to use python scripts in ReactOS. A substantial number of visual changes were added, with a vastly improved shell and file explorer, newer icons throughout ReactOS, improved support for fonts, and customizable visual themes.

Even with these improvements, ReactOS 0.4 is still generally considered alpha-level software, though Alexander Rechitskiy, the innovation manager for ReactOS, notes that 0.4.1 may be almost beta-level software.

Submission + - EU lacks 118 billion euros in nuclear decommissioning funds (

mdsolar writes: Europe lacks more than 118 billion euros ($132 billion) needed to dismantle its nuclear plants and manage the waste storage management, a working paper by the European Commission seen by Reuters shows.

Assets covering only 150.1 billion euros in decommissioning costs — which includes the lengthy dismantling of stations as well as the removal and storage of radioactive parts and waste — are available, compared with 268.3 billion euros in expected costs, the paper shows.

The data is part of a broader analysis of Europe's nuclear capacity, the so-called Nuclear Illustrative Programme of the Commission (PINC), the last of which has been published in 2007, before Japan's Fukushima nuclear crisis five years ago.

Comment Re:Title (Score 4, Informative) 85

Not sure if serious, so I'll answer anyway.

No - the BBC is not the only game in town when it comes to television and radio in the UK. The BBC is uniquely-funded through a "television license" which anyone who watches live broadcast television must pay, regardless whether they watch the BBC's channels or not. There is no commercial advertising on the BBC when watched in the UK (though I understand this is not necessarily the case with the versions of the BBC that are shown internationally).

But there's also the commercial broadcasters:

ITV (a regionalized network of broadcast companies) operates a number of channels

Channel 4 (also broadcasts E4, more4, Film4 (which makes original film content as well as screening Hollywood and independent films)

Channel 5 (again, they operate a few channels).

Sky (satellite TV provider, which has its own channels, but also broadcasts channels from overseas, typically US channels - their set-top boxes also have access to a streaming catch-up service with access to download TV show box sets for you to watch. Sky is hideously expensive, though)

There's the usual assortment of TV shopping channels and adult entertainment

The BBC also has its 24-hour news channel.

Telephone giant BT also has its own service, but it's a streaming service that is (as far as I know) only open to BT Broadband (DSL) and BT Infinity (FTTC) customers.

And we can watch Netflix and Amazon Prime here too. Just not with as much content as the US gets (this is true of Netflix everywhere though).

Submission + - Raspberry Pi's Raspbian OS Finally Ships With Open-Source OpenGL Support (

An anonymous reader writes: With this month's Raspbian OS update, the Debian-based operating system for the Raspberry Pi ships experimental OpenGL driver support. This driver has been developed over the past two years by a former Intel developer with having a completely open and mainline DRM kernel driver and Mesa Gallium driver to open up the Pi as a replacement to the proprietary GPU driver.

Comment Re:Lessons from SpaceX landing (Score 2) 51

The first stage isn't supposed to land with humans on board. It's just designed to land so that they don't have to build another one from scratch every time they launch a customers' payload into orbit.

This will mean they don't have so much cost per launch, so they can either pass those savings on to their customer (customer wins), don't pass those savings on to their customer (SpaceX profits), or pass SOME savings on to the customer (so both parties benefit).

Comment Re:International efforts, please Google (Score 1) 37

Virgin were deploying cable internet here years before BT spun off their infrastructure into what is now known as Openreach, let alone began their FTTC rollout

However, they've still not got cable anywhere near me, so they're not an option.

BT Openreach upgraded my telephone exchange to allow FTTC connections more than 2 years ago. However, they only got around to enabling my cabinet back in June. I can therefore get a FTTC internet connection from any number of providers - but my estimated maximum download speed is between 8 and 11 Mbit/sec, regardless which provider I ask. I currently get anywhere between 6 and 9 Mbit/sec on ADSL (but mostly nearer 6). There's almost no point in upgrading. I am guessing my cabinet is a fair distance away (I have absolutely no idea where it is).

Comment Re:Queue the PCMasterRace kids (Score 1) 86

1541? Get off my lawn.

When I were a lad, we used to load up games off audio tapes. If you were lucky, you'd have a tape deck with a counter on it, so you could fast forward or rewind the tape to the right place so that you could load the game you wanted. And it would then take about 15 minutes to load the game. The border of the screen would generally have rainbow striped patterns flashing all over it all the while, apparently something to do with how it loaded data from the tapes.

Sometimes, it'd take so long to load the game that the game makers would put in a little mini "loader" game for you to play while you wait for the actual game to finish loading in the background. Or, they'd have a tune for you to listen to (Ocean was famous for doing this - the "Ocean Loader", with music written by Martin Galway). That's right - Commodore 64 had multitasking and multimedia, 8-bit style.

And if your game failed to load, you'd have to turn it off and on again, rewind the tape to the right place, and try loading it again. With your fingers crossed harder, this time.

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