* Posts by Chris Miller

2593 posts • joined 6 Apr 2007

Opera Jon weaves a brand new browser

Chris Miller
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Just what the world needs

Another browser. Because ensuring that your new web site looks good and works correctly on every available browser just isn't time-consuming enough already.

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A Bombe Called Christopher, or A Very Poor Imitation

Chris Miller
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Oh noes, next you'll be telling us that John Wayne didn't win the war single handed!

I am afraid Mr C, much as I admire his ability, is in danger of becoming stereotyped: "In this part, Benedict love, you're playing an autistic man - give us your Sherlock."

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Telefónica to offload O2 to Three daddy Hutchison for £10.25bn

Chris Miller
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Re: So the UK once had the most competitive mobile markets..

Given that when Hutchison owned Orange they were pretty good - agreed.

all downhill after French & German equivalents of BT bought it - Deutsche Telekom never had a hand in Orange. Hutchison sold it to Mannesmann, who were swiftly bought by Vodafone and forced to divest, at which point France Telecom snaffled it.

Three are generally better than the other big players - better coverage and pricing*, maybe, but O2 has much better customer service. Ideally, we'd get Three technology with O2 customer service, but what's the betting it'll be the other way round?

* I have a PAYG Three SIM just to take advantage of their 'Feel at home' overseas prices.

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Hong Kong mogul mulls MULTI-BEELLION POUND bid for O2 – report

Chris Miller
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Re: It's Complicated

Trying to remember the events of 20 years ago, I think at launch that Orange had a promotional offer of free calls between Orange phones 'out of business hours' (may well have been 8pm-8am). As a result, private hire firms bought them en masse for their drivers who overwhelmed the network making free calls.

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Chris Miller
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At least the name of the new company should be obvious: Ozone.

IIRC Hutchison originally developed the Orange mobile phone brand before selling it to Mannesmann.

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Windows 10, day ZERO ... Will Nadella be the HERO?

Chris Miller
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Re: Timezones

If you're going to be operating in multiple timezones, it might be a good idea to get to grips with the facility to associate the times of an appointment with the relevant timezone. All the calendar systems I'm familiar with have this capability and will behave as you describe if you select the wrong (default) one.

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India pushes ahead with slimmed-down fibre rollout

Chris Miller
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It would be useful to know how many 'rural villages' there are in India. Clearly >60,000.

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OTHER EARTHS may be orbiting our Sun beyond Neptune

Chris Miller
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The second link (abstract, I haven't read the full article) talks about a super-Earth.

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Ski MOUNT DOOM or take top coffee to the beach? Your choice

Chris Miller
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A couple of minor quibbles: half the houses in my village don't have mains gas, and that's less than 30 miles from London; and though you may not need heating in Auckland (climate-wise, think Lisbon), you will in Dunedin (very similar to it's namesake, Edinburgh) - admittedly, IT jobs are much more likely to be in the former than the latter. And don't forget the best lamb, seafood (they take fish and chips very seriously) and wine in the world (best not to mention the beer, though :).

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‘Whatever happened to Vladimir Putin?’ and other crap New Year prophesies

Chris Miller
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Re: @ Chris Miller Y2k - in your experience

I certainly wasn't trying to understate the Cobol problem - many man-years of effort were spent resolving it. Though I would observe that if you have critical systems for which you have no documentation, Y2k was probably the least of your problems (and yes, I realise many organisations were and are in just this position).

Regarding 'embedded' systems - I certainly hope safety critical ones got thoroughly tested. But I must admit we didn't test every Ethernet switch on our systems, which were mostly agnostic about whether it's 1900 or 2000. Not many such systems hold dates in character format - binary counts of elapsed time units since a 'zero' date are more common, though this can give rise to Y2k-style issues too (like the year 2038 problem).

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Chris Miller
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Y2k

There were two distinct Y2k 'problems'.

1. (The real one.) Many (mostly) mainframe (mostly) Cobol programs held the year portion of dates as a 2-digit field. After 1/1/00, these programs could no longer reliably identify which of two dates was the earlier or calculate the period between two dates. Each program needed to be checked by hand and amended appropriately. This was done so successfully that very few obvious problems occurred, as described by Alistair.

2. (The fake one.) There was supposedly a problem with the BIOS in many PCs that would cause them to fail on 1/1/00. In reality, very few PCs (those less than 3 years old) had any problem at all. Of those that did: most booted to a date of 1900 which needed to be manually reset one single time; a few would continue to come up with an incorrect date after every reboot; and a tiny fraction would be bricked (apparently - I personally never found one of these mythical machines). This didn't stop flim-flam merchants selling pointy-haired bosses TSR programs that would 'fix' the 'problem' and computer salespeople trying to get your entire fleet replaced with new 'Y2k-proof' models. Some managers responsible for PCs may even have connived at the latter, unable to resist the lure of a nice shiny new PC on every desk.

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The Year of Living Danishly, The Internet is Not the Answer and Classical Literature

Chris Miller
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Very little tundra in Denmark, in my experience. Are you getting your Scandis in a twist, Helen?

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Virgin, Qualcomm, back 600-satellite space internet plan

Chris Miller
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Re: Sun-Synchronous Orbit

I think the NRO have their own launchers :)

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Chris Miller
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Sun-Synchronous Orbit

Isn't that a strange number to quote, unless you're hoping that someone will misread it as geosynchronous? There's a quite limited demand for sun-synchronous satellites (mostly IR earth observatories).

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NINETY new DOOM ASTEROIDS found in 2014

Chris Miller
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Earth-bonking?

or Earth-borking?

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What will happen to the oil price? Look to the PC for clues

Chris Miller
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Re: Fracking

Extremely fragile? That must be why we're continually seeing cities in meltdown as their infrastructure fails. Except we don't, do we.

And for 'pursuit of profit' read 'improving the lives of billions' - this is, after all, the reason that vast numbers of people are migrating to cities.

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Computers know you better than your friends

Chris Miller
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Psychology

The study of people who don't need studying by those who do.

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'American soldiers, we are coming...' US CENTCOM military in Twitter hijack shame

Chris Miller
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Re: Muppets

I think you'll find that the BBC newsroom employs about 10x as many reporters as the whole of ElReg.

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Chris Miller
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Re: Got beaten to it...

I was about to say much the same thing, if it wasn't for the accompanying documentation. But presumably this didn't come from the Twitter account (or, at least, I certainly hope not) - more likely just public stuff scraped from the general Internet and made to look 'official'.

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India digs deep to bury neutrino-hunting chamber

Chris Miller
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Re: AID !!

The QI klaxon is for falsehoods that are widely believed to be true. But aid to India (£200m pa) is real, although it is planned to stop this year. Here is an article from that hotbed of right-wing propaganda, The Guardian, explaining.

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Tesla S P85+: Smiling all the way to the next charging point

Chris Miller
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@Mike

Since the first cellular 'handheld' (though it did weigh >1kg, so you needed strong hands) phone was demonstrated in 1973, and commercial systems were operating in Japan by 1979, I think your memory may be faulty.

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Chris Miller
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Re: If only..

You're right, Graham. It may be that even as I type, some genius has thought of a better way to store energy*. Only it won't involve electrochemistry, because we understand these properties quite well and are already pushing the boundaries of what is physically possible and it's a similar story with capacitors. And if someone makes that discovery today, it'll be a decade or two before it can be fitted into something like a Tesla. So, unfortunately, this is as good as it gets, for quite a while.

* Or maybe the Lockheed skunk works really will get their mini fusion reactor to work.

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Comet Lovejoy's greenish glow visible with naked eye this weekend

Chris Miller
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Re: > much better view of it with a telescope or good pair of binoculars.

Just come in from comet watching using a 10x42 monocular. Fuzzy monochrome ball - TBH Jupiter is far more impressive at present. The trouble is that the naive public sees long exposure telescope shots like the one adorning this article, and expect to see something similar above their heads (and blame the astronomers when they don't).

I remember (strokes long grey beard) as a teenager on holiday in the west country, a 'proper' comet with a coma and a long tail (2-3 degrees) looking like a Giotto painting, this must have been around 1967/8. Everything since (visible from the UK) has been a fuzzy blob.

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Chris Miller
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Re: > much better view of it with a telescope or good pair of binoculars.

Forecast for SE England is currently clear skies tonight. But don't expect to be able to make out much more than a slightly fuzzy dot or to see any colours, even with bins. For that you'd need darker skies than are available within 100km of London :(

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Post-pub nosh neckfiller: Hot Spanish tongue action

Chris Miller
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Tongue not gone

Most decent British butchers stock sliced tongue - very nice with salads or in butties. You can even buy it in supermarkets. I'd draw the line at cooking a whole one yourself, unless you're planning to feed a family of ten for a week.

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Healthcare: Look anywhere you like for answers, just not the US

Chris Miller
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Re: @Chris Miller

Your suggestion is extremely sensible, and therefore it will never happen.

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Chris Miller
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Re: THE NHS IS NOT A SINGLE ENTITY!

Didn't they try the 'single IT system for the NHS' and ended up pissing away several billion before calling a halt to the clusterfuck (to borrow Tim's favourite expression)?

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Chris Miller
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Competition and choice

A couple of years ago my brother had what turned out to be a (fortunately, relatively minor) heart attack. The ambulance was there almost before his wife put the phone down (it was a Sunday morning) and the crew correctly diagnosed the problem. "Where would you like us to take you?" was their question. He lives roughly equidistant between three hospitals. He knew absolutely nothing about how good they were at treating cardiac problems (and nor, it appears, did the ambulance crew), but getting to hospital A involved a short section of M25, visitor parking at hospital B was widely known to be terrible, so he opted for C. He was lucky, and it turned out that they'd just had a major refit of their Cardiology Dept, had all the latest kit and fixed him up a treat, but we did end up wondering what the point of patient choice was.

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Stale pizza, backup BlackBerrys, payroll panic: Sony Pictures mega-hack

Chris Miller
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Re: absence of disaster recoevery

What I don't understand, is not the absence of DR - most organisations (though Sony has been around a long time) will startup, grow and fold without ever experiencing a real 'disaster' and can therefore get away without a 'plan'. But in my experience a company as large and high-profile as Sony will experience cyber attacks (not necessarily APTs, just DDOS, boring old viruses etc etc that still have the potential for serious disruption) several times per year (if not per month). The very first time it happens, you may not have put together an incident response plan, but surely after the 20th time, even the most clueless operation will begin to think that something better than headless chicken syndrome might be a good idea? Obviously not.

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Really, govt tech profit cash grab is a PRIZE-WINNING idea?

Chris Miller
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Re: "wealth creators"

It's a Tim thread, not an Andrew thread (though the latter does get an honourable mention).

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The Shock of the New: The Register redesign update 4

Chris Miller
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Re: Thanks!

Concur. Though in Chrome links from 'The Channel' don't show as visited (the same problem existed on the 'old' web site) - works in IE, I imagine it's something to do with the different web site (channelregister.co.uk).

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Independent inquiry into British air-traffic-control IT nightmare

Chris Miller
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Re: If it works, don't fix it.

I suspect Matt (Viscount) Ridley had written the article before the NATS problem, but found it a convenient peg to introduce the subject, even though all Reg readers would know it's actually irrelevant.

The main point of the article is that government ought to stop (and perhaps is actually stopping) trying to deliver giant multi-year, multi-billion pound IT projects and instead adopt agile development methods, a sentiment I suspect many on here would agree with. As an article on a technical subject, written by a non-technician for a non-technical audience, I don't think it's too bad (if you delete the first couple of sentences mentioning NATS - agile development is not necessarily the best approach for safety critical systems).

Whether the GDS, civil service mandarins and (more importantly) politicians would be capable of successfully participating in agile development is another question entirely (A hae ma doots).

No apologist for Matt - I was one of the many criticising his earlier article about replacing pilots by automated systems (I use the same handle on The Times).

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Chris Miller
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Re: If it works, don't fix it.

"there should have been a parallel system to failover to"

Parallelism doesn't help if it's based on identical hardware running identical software and the failure is the result of a software error. (Unless you have an independent system produced by an entirely segregated group of developers - some safety critical system work this way, but then you may need a third system to vote on which of the two disagreeing systems has actually failed.)

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Is there ANOTHER UNIVERSE headed BACKWARDS IN TIME?

Chris Miller
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!daehbus eciN

Just sayin'

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The Great Unwatched: BBC hails glorious digital future for Three

Chris Miller
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Yet, as Andrew mentioned, there are occasional nuggets. Our War and Bluestone 42 for me, no doubt others will have different opinions. I don't know how much you have to pay for basic channel + HD bandwidth on Freeview, is that where the savings are coming from?

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Confused about 5G? So are we, say carriers

Chris Miller
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What is it for?

Please help, I'm struggling to understand what benefit I would get from 1 Gbps to my mobile device - the ability to stream (multiple simultanous) 4K movies to my 4 inch screen? I realise that there are some areas where a physical line is practically impossible (or, at least, hugely expensive), so a 5G service might be a good alternative to a fixed broadband wired connection. But what I (and I bet I'm not alone) want from mobile data is reasonable speed (a few Mbps) that works everywhere and on the move and (preferably) doesn't flatten my battery after an hour's continuous use. Instead of building out new 5G networks in city centres, let's improve 3G so that it extends to 98% coverage by location (not by population).

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Drone in NEAR-MISS with passenger jet at Heathrow airport

Chris Miller
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Re: MI6 on a test run?

It might look a bit like this.

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Shhhhh! It's a Swiss Sunday shutdown. Kill the lawnmower, punish the kids with CHEESE

Chris Miller
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Joke

Re: Sunday shutdown...

Germany as well (mowing on the Sabbath) - though I think it's a local ordnance rather than a national one. Always remember how laws work in Europe:

In Britain, everything that is not prohibited by law is permitted.

In Germany, everything that is not permitted by law is prohibited.

In Russia, everything is prohibited, even if permitted by law.

In France, everything is permitted, even if prohibited by law.

In Switzerland, everything that is not prohibited by law is obligatory.

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Misty-eyed Ray Ozzie celebrates 25th birthday of Lotus Notes by tweeting about it ...

Chris Miller
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@AC

I don't want a database that also does mail, I want an efficient, reliable email client that helps me read and deal with my email with the least amount of aggravation

If you're using Notes purely as an email system, you're using the wrong product. But you can (with skilled developers) build impressive corporate workflow systems, that would be much harder to achieve on any other platform.

OTOH The versions that I used to have to administer (c. 2000) leaked memory like a stuck whale. I remember having to reboot our Notes server every 24 hours to avoid it running out of memory - even with a (then) humongous (and humongously expensive) 1GB of RAM.

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Yotaphone 2: The two-faced pocket-stroker with '100 hours' batt life

Chris Miller
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Clever and innovative - rather like Apple used to be. I imagine they're manufactured in China/Taiwan rather than Siberia!

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Quantum computing is so powerful it takes two years to understand what happened

Chris Miller
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Thanks, Forget It

So, if I understand it correctly (probably not), the method only works to factorise numbers that have two odd factors that differ by a power of 2 (e.g. 56153 = 233 x 241), and so could be easily defeated (for cryptographic purposes) by minor tweaks to the choice of the two large prime numbers used to compute the private key.

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Hawking: RISE of the MACHINES could DESTROY HUMANITY

Chris Miller
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Demonstrating once again that being a world-leading authority in one area of expertise, gives you no credibility whatsoever in another, unrelated area.

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SUPER-SUEBALL heading IBM's way in Australia

Chris Miller
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Re: Are you listening UK Gov?

I agree, but the problem is that bidding for government mega-contracts is so complex and expensive (and, inevitably, ends in failure for most participants). that only huge operations can afford to play. You or I (or the small, competent computer shop round the corner) may say "bloody hell, I could do that for a tenth of the price and still make a huge profit", but we can't possibly afford the cost of the bidding process. The result is that the only people in the frame are a handful of large players (IBM, Crapita, ...) who all have a long track record of constructive (or should that be obstructive) incompetence.

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Under the Iron Sea: YES, tech and science could SAVE the planet

Chris Miller
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It isn't a bureaucracy, it's a religion

We've all offended against Gaia, the Earth Mother, and now we must all be made to suffer for our sins. Proposing quick, cheap and effective solutions (or even suggesting that they could be worthy of investigation) is simply missing the point, which is penance.

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Lord Lucan, Murakami's Strange Library ... and a hitchhiker's guide to the Computing Universe

Chris Miller
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Headmaster

Bugs

Please put a stop to this idea that the use of the word 'bug' comes from a problem caused by an insect trapped in the workings of an early computer. It's a nice story, and may even be true, but the use of the word 'bug' in the context of a glitch or problem is far earlier than this. Thomas Edison used the word in its later sense and it was well-established (in the US) during the 19th century. It probably derives from the original meaning of 'bug' (Welsh bwg) as a euphemism for a goblin or the devil (cf 'bugbear') - the use of bug to describe a class of insect is also a derivative of this form, after it became popular the archaic use gradually faded away.

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Sacre vache! Netflix ne parle pas le Frenchy ... zat is against ze LAW

Chris Miller
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Does this imply that anyone making their wares available over the Internet must produce Ts&Cs in Khmer, on the off chance that someone in Cambodia decides to make a purchase?

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Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs

Chris Miller
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A superlative idea, sir, with only two minor flaws:

1. We have no idea what kind of material could support its own weight over a length of tens of thousands of kilometres; and

2. We have no idea what kind of material could support its own weight over a length of tens of thousands of kilometres.

Now, I realise that, technically speaking, that's only one flaw. But it's such a big flaw, I thought I ought to mention it twice.

© Red Dwarf

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Get a job in Germany – where most activities are precursors to drinking

Chris Miller
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I wonder where William is working in Germany (I would guess NRW, in the Cologne-Düsseldorf area)? German Länder are quite distinct - culturally, politically and even economically. There's a world of difference between Hamburg and Munich, and traces of the Ostie approach of 'we pretend to work and they pretend to pay us' persist in former DDR areas.

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Leaked screenshots show next Windows kernel to be a perfect 10

Chris Miller
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@Frank

Yes, in my case it was an even older 1240U model. It runs quite happily in Windows XP mode.

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