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* Posts by Martin Gregorie

505 posts • joined 10 Apr 2007

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Fedora gets new partition manager

Martin Gregorie

Re: Yeah that's what Linux was missing!

NONE of the existing mainstream linux partition managers are 'good enough'. fdisk and most of its ilk can't handle devices over 2GB due to the limitations of MBR.

Are you sure you mean Linux and not Windows here? The Linux fdisk utility is perfectly capable of handling bigger partitions than 2GB: I just ran it up to check. I usually use cfdisk because I prefer its user interface.

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Ferraris, Zondas and ... er, a bike with a 500hp V10 under the saddle

Martin Gregorie

Re: I don't know much about big engines

Ever see the old Sunbeam with inline crankshaft in action? Every time the rider changed gear the bike rocked from side to side, so I reckon that you'd need to open the throttle really carefully on this monster or the bike would end up sliding down the road on its side with you perched on top burning your bum on the exhaust.

Sensible bikes all have transverse crankshafts to avoid this problem.

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NASA to reformat Opportunity rover's memory from 125 million miles away

Martin Gregorie

Why....

.... use a piccy taken by Curiousity to illustrate a story about Opportunity when there are perfectly usable ones taken by Opportunity itself from its current location?

Didja think we wouldn't notice?

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Brit Sci-Fi author Alastair Reynolds says MS Word 'drives me to distraction'

Martin Gregorie

Re: Big and not clever.

Word for Windows (version 2 or whatever) did NOT do the job.

IMHO the last worthwhile version of Word was Word for DOS 4.0. It was fast, even on a 12MHz PC-AT, blindingly fast on a 40MHz 386 box, and significantly faster than Word Perfect at operations such as 'go to end of document'. But, by far its best feature was that you didn't ever need to lift your hands off the keyboard or use the mouse. You could mouse round if you wanted, but that wasn't necessary because function key usage was very well thought out, e.g. hit F8 and the current word was selected, hit it again and the sentence was selected. Third tap selected the paragraph. Fast. Simple. Memorable.

Word 5.5 slowed things down by adding crappy drop-dpwn menus which were slower than Word 4's function key system. Word for Windows completely stuffed productivity by making a grab for the mouse a mandatory and frequent distraction from keyboarding. Yes, I know it has 'keyboard shortcuts' but can you honestly say you remember or use more than a couple of them?

In fairness, Libre Office suffers from exactly the same mouse-centric problems as do most graphical text editors (gedit, I'm looking at you).

Me? I use vi when I have to and microEmacs the rest of the time because its entirely keyboard-driven multi-buffered editor and so is the fastest way to input, edit and compare text files. Its also OSS, written in ANSI C and trivially easy to port between OSes and hardware architectures: took me 10 minutes to have it up and running on a RaspberryPi.

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ALIEN BODY FOUND ON MARS: Curiosity rover snaps extraterrestrial

Martin Gregorie

I saw the announcement and spiffed up photo on http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/ this morning. Its now item 2 of 6 on the Whats New list.

If you go to Mission:Where is Curiosity and look at the map for day 637 you can see where the meteorite was found.

To see the photos taken by Curiosity, go to Multimedia|Raw Images and look at those taken on day 637 by the Navcams and day 640 by ChemCam and Mastcam.

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Amazon begs Feds for drone test permission slip

Martin Gregorie

But to be fair, the very nature of many-rotor aircraft means they can be engineered for practically bulletproof reliability

Maybe so, but no amount of reliability can stop it falling out of the sky after it hits a wire the operator didn't see or after some miscreant throws a missile trailing a Kevlar line through its rotor disk(s).

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FAA shoots down delivery by drone plans

Martin Gregorie

Re: But...

Speaking as a glider pilot, I don't have a problem with RC models because they are under the control of a human operator who should be able to see and avoid any full-size aircraft where he is flying. In addition, the RC model has to remain close enough to its operator for him to see not only where it is, but its attitude. Without this visual feedback its impossible to control the model. This is also why many models have different colouring top and bottom and often use assymetric colour schemes. I used to fly a bit of RC and found that using this type of paint job made the model far easier to control.

However, the thought of drones operating in class G airspace is very scary. Almost by definition these will be either autonomous or outside visual range of an operator but none of them, as far as I am aware, give the operator anything like the field of view or the fine-grained visual resolution that any GA pilot has and I don't think any of the autonomous drones have any optical see and avoid capability. In other words, current drones have little or no ability to stay clear of gliders, paragliders, microlites or balloons. These aircraft types do not usually carry transponders, so an autonomous drone that can't reliably use optical sensors to see and avoid a full-size aircraft is just an accident looking for a place to happen.

Recent reports confirm my assessment: American military drones have collided with manned aircraft (a C-130 no less), crashed because the operator didn't realise it was inverted, and had to be shot down by F-16s when the radio link failed: a whole litany of crashes and failures which all prove that drones have no place in civilian airspace or over towns, at least until the failings that led to these accidents all have proven, reliable solutions installed in every drone and subject to regular inspection and certification. Achieving this will take considerable time and is unlikely to be cheap.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/investigative/2014/06/20/when-drones-fall-from-the-sky/?hpid=z1

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Linux users at risk as ANOTHER critical GnuTLS bug found

Martin Gregorie

Re: Open source - crap code

It is an unfortunate truth but a lot (I'll not say "most" even though I think it is justified) open source code is, quite frankly crap.

Thats just another consequence of Sturgeon's Law which stated that 90% of everything is utter crap. Think about it. Theodore Sturgeon, an SF author, was spot on.

I've seen bad OSS code, but at least I could look at it and see that it was bad. However, I've seen much worse closed source commercial code, which carries the extra benefit that you can't see how bad it is untill you've paid good money for that dubious priviledge.

How about a COBOL accounting system where all the programs were written to the same appalling standard. All the paragraph names in every procedure division were numeric though not in sequence. Section names? you must be kidding. No sections used. All the data names in every data division were of the form MT01 starting from the name of the first magnetic tape file and incrementing until the last field in the last record in the last mag tape file was reached. Same for cards (CR01,...), printed output (LP01,....) and working storage (WS01,...). Oh yeah, the code was totally devoid of comments outside the identification division. I only got to see this crap because the company I worked for had paid good money for it. It was so bad that it was unmaintainable and almost impossible to use so we junked it and wrote our own accounting package. Doing that was easier, took less time and saved us money on maintenance because we wrote it to be easily readable and well enough commented to be understandable even if the design documentation got lost or out of date - the norm in those days.

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Big data hitting the fan? Nyquist-Shannon TOOL SAMPLE can save you

Martin Gregorie

Re: Slight case of subject drift

Nope - he was talking about capture, i.e. permanent data storage. IOW it doesn't matter whether all sensors autonomously send in readings or the logging system(s) poll them for data. Once the data arrives at the server that will record it, its easy to scan through the stream from each device and discard everything except the changes in a sensor reading.

Think systems don't work that way? Here's a real-life example: the switches in mobile phone cells are polled on a daily basis and their call data pulled down as via FTP as a file containing a megabyte or two of data. This is then processed in various ways, e.g. run through fraud detection kit and analysed by the network performance team before being used to populate one or more databases.

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Martin Gregorie

Slight case of subject drift

The article started off talking about stored data volumes, i.e. storing logging data, and then drifted off into sampling rates, which is all very interesting and must be considered when deciding how to get a true picture of the behaviour over time of the variable being sampled.

The answer to the storage problem, that I expected to see, is to only record the timestamped new value each time the sampled variable changes. Unless the change rate approaches the sampling rate, the storage saved by logging timestamped changes will easily exceed the overhead of recording the timestamp.

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Privacy International probes GCHQ's mouse fetish

Martin Gregorie

Re: @ obnoxiousGit

...and upgrading an ICL 1902S CPU to a 1903S required one wire to be cut, to increase the clock speed, and use of a screwdriver to replace the 'ICL 1902S' badge with an 'ICL 1903S' badge.

I'd be somewhat surprised if IBM and the rest of the seven dwarves didn't pull similar stunts.

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JJ Abrams and Star Wars: I've got a bad feeling about this

Martin Gregorie

Re: Feed Abrams to the crocodiles!

OF COURSE it was the way you describe, and deliberately so. Star Wars was pure Space Opera, distilled from innumerable '50s pulp SF magazines and paperbacks and that was why it was magic: it left no cliche unturned. All the way from the archetypical kid from the backwoods planet making good, through the brawl in the sleazy spaceport bar to the mega spaceships and the galactic empire. When the first clips appeared at SF Cons many of the fans said it was rubbish because spaceships couldn't dogfight like WW2 fighter planes, but they forgot one thing: they do in Space Opera.

The thing that made Star Wars great was that George Lucas was obviously a pulp SF fan from way back and made the film as his tip of his hat to that genre. Subsequent films went down hill as they progressively stepped back from their origins, which is a pity because there was still a lot of unmined ore in the original seam.

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BEAM ME UP SCOTTY: Boffins to turn PURE LIGHT into MATTER

Martin Gregorie

Re: Get your tin-foil hats here -- at these prices I'm cutting my own throat

Trolling and trawling are very different ways of fishing. Even Shirley kno that.

Trolling is, as described, towing something at the end of a fishing line that should look tasty to a fish. Its often shiny or brightly coloured but can also be made from feathers that undulate as they're towed. Trolling is ecologically sound because it doesn't cause collateral damage.

Trawling is dragging a huge netting bag, with a heavy frame to keep its mouth open, along the seabed behind a fishing boat. This rips up and destroys all the corals, seaweed, etc in its path and traps all the fish that don't swim out of the way fast enough. Apart from causing seabed damage, the trawl scoops up and kills a lot of unwanted types of fish which are dumped overboard. Its not even a remotely sound activity from an ecological viewpoint: fish farming is better.

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Martin Gregorie

Re: Gooooooowld

GOLD because it is nice and dense, nearly twice the density of lead, and not radioactive.

There's not much thats denser than gold (SG=19.3). Osmium (SG=22.6) is the densest easily available substance and costs a lot more than gold ($77000/kg vs $27000/kg), which seems like a lot to pay for a 15% density increase. Density is important in this experiment: the denser the target, the more likely that the electrons in the beam are to hit a nucleus in that target and hence the stronger the resulting gamma ray beam. The most commonly available bulk radioactive, Uranium, is less dense than gold and half the price, but it seems likely that its radioactivity could screw up the experiment as well as making it nasty to handle or store.

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Curiosity GOUGES AND SCORCHES Mars with drill and laser

Martin Gregorie

Re: A hole in another planet...

...is smaller than you might think - 16 mm in diameter and 65mm deep.

Simon missed another ten laser strikes: as well as the seven inside the hole there's an 8th on the drillings at the rim and another nine in a row just beyond to hole, just visible at the top right of the picture, or can be seen in all their destructive glory here:

http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/news/whatsnew/index.cfm?FuseAction=ShowNews&NewsID=1634

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UN to debate killer drone ethics

Martin Gregorie

Take your head out of the sand and read Philip K Dick's "Autofac" - its the first story in his "Minority Report" collection and explains what can possibly go wrong far better than I can.

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LOHAN and the amazing technicolor spaceplane

Martin Gregorie

Finish weight?

Assuming that you weighed the aircraft before and after covering, how much did it weigh plain and fully covered?

Enquiring minds need to know!

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Apple fanbois eat static as Beeb, Sky web stream vids go titsup on iOS

Martin Gregorie

My Touch is working fine for Radio 4 FM, both listen live and for retrieving older programs.

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Lavabit loses contempt of court appeal over protecting Snowden, customers

Martin Gregorie

Re: living a lie

In the UK, it emerged that Prince Charles actually has special powers, largely secret, to lobby and veto policies by the democratically elected government. The Guardian has been fighting unsuccessfully to reveal the scale of use of these too

Dunno about you, but I'm rather pleased that Charlie boy and his mum have been busy keeping an eye on the last three numpties who've occupied the PM's seat and kicked their shins when needed. At least they seem to know what they're doing, have much more work experience that the average PM and appear to be much less self-serving too.

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Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?

Martin Gregorie

Re: code examples

Nope, no prize for you (or anybody else who suggested a solution) because you all forgot about weekends and other non-working days. A more correct solution would be:

Take the day and month of the contract start date

Add the current year to get a date in the current financial year.

If its a working day, you're done.

Otherwise step back a day and and check again. Keep doing this until you've found a working day.

Then have a word with your employer's tame contract lawyers to make sure you don't need to send the statement even earlier to allow for postal delivery and/or bank processing delays.

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CERN team uses GPUs to discover if antimatter falls up, not down

Martin Gregorie

Errr, please describe the experimental setup...

...because there's something in the setup that I don't understand.

If the anti-hydrogen atoms form a well-collimated beam but the expected drop under gravity is only 10 microns (over what distance and at what velocity?), why goes the detector need to be more than a few cm across? On the other hand, if the beam isn't well collimated, how is the drop of an anti-hydrogen going to be measured with sub-micron accuracy?

Obviously I'm missing something, because there's nothing in the experimental description on the Aegis site to indicate how the trajectory of individual anti-hydrogen atoms can be tracked through the accelerator with that sort of accuracy and nothing to say why the detector surface needs to be on the order of 1m^2 as stated in the article.

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MH370 airliner MYSTERY: The El Reg Pub/Dinner-party Guide

Martin Gregorie

Re: Here's more sensible analysis...

Another theory (haven't checked if it matches the arcs)

http://keithledgerwood.tumblr.com/post/79838944823/did-malaysian-airlines-370-disappear-using-sia68-sq68

This is one of the most unlikely ideas I've read this week.

Military radars are designed to resolve multiple targets: if enemy aircraft are incoming you want to know how many are in what might be a tight formation, not just that there is one or more aircraft coming your way. At the very least the two 777s would have been seen before MH370 formated on SIA68 and any half-decent military radar set would report two targets in close proximity thereafter.

While its true that one plane can theoretically hide in the radar shadow of another, you can only do that by putting the other plane precisely between you and the radar set and manoevering to keep it there. A military pilot might be able to do that because he will be trained in close formation flying; an airline pilot will not because formation flying is not part of his required skillset. To stay in the radar shadow at night MH370 would have to be carrying at least one receiver tuned to the military radar frequency, have a properly installed antenna on the 777 and, preferably, a flight computer programmed to keep it in the radar shadow. Lastly, you can only hide behind another plane while only one radar is operating. The technique simply won't work as long as long as you're in range of more than one primary radar set: at least one of them will see two reflections.

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Martin Gregorie

Re: Here's more sensible analysis...

An excellent theory when it was posted. But it is no longer consistent with the (apparent) fact that ACARS 'keep alive' transmissions were received for 7 hours.

I thought that on first reading, but its a wrong interpretation. Read it again. In the middle Chris Goodfellow says:

"What I think happened is that they were overcome by smoke and the plane just continued on the heading probably on George (autopilot) until either fuel exhaustion or fire destroyed the control surfaces and it crashed."

That explains the ACARS "remember me" pings as well as flying out to sea.

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Academic blames US for tech titans' tax dodge

Martin Gregorie

Re: Indeed

This certainly applies to ordinary individuals, but does it apply to corporations? Really?

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Heroic Playmonaut wowed by LOHAN's bulging package

Martin Gregorie

Rubber band problem?

Rubber bands stiffen when they get to the sort of temp where LOHAN is going. Does this also weaken them? If so , replacing the bands with thin cable ties may be a good idea.

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Labour calls for BIG OVERHAUL of UK super-snoop powers in 'new digital world'

Martin Gregorie

We need three legal fixes (OK, four)

1) Restrict GCHQ to operating OUTSIDE the UK and heavy fines/firings for transgressions.

2) A separate organisation to handle all the UK's internal letter opening/wire tapping/Internet snooping duties and a requirement for legally issued warrants. Counterbalanced with heavy fines/firings for any warrantless snooping.

3) A huge fine for anybody, especially journalists, using the term 'paedophile' when they actually mean 'child molester'. Tell it like it is FFS.

4) Rewrite RIPA to severely limit the people who can use it or, better yet, scrap it entirely as unfit for (any) purpose.

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Apple beats off troll in German patent fracas

Martin Gregorie

Re: >"to establish a bridge"

...also implies that something will cross said bridge - in this case one might expect, from their self-description, that it would be cash crossing the bridge and falling into the pockets of the patent developers.

Is there, or has there ever been, any sign of such a hypothetical dosh flow? No? Didn't think so.

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Worlds that could support LIFE found among 715 new planets

Martin Gregorie

Seems to be a mistake here...

...as the strongest conclusion that can be drawn from the facts reported here is that "Many stars have planets and some are similar to the Solar System in having planets in orbits that allow them to have liquid water".

Anything more is specious, seeing that the average habitable zone planet is reported to be 2 - 2.5 times the size of Earth. That doesn't sound much like the Solar System to me: Earth is the biggest of our habitable zone occupants, so saying that anything with planets of this size is "just like our Solar System" is pretty much bollocks.

In short, the astronomers *may* have said what El Reg reported, but I doubt it: the report reeks of having been sexed up by PR flacks and, probably, then rewritten at least once by whatever general purpose hacks got their hands on it after him.

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Moon flashes Earth after getting pounding from MASSIVE meteorite

Martin Gregorie

Re: This moon was brought to you by Enterprise Corporate Logos-"Я"-Us .com

...and the flash would have been a damn sight easier to spot if the moon had been logo-free and a nice, even grey colour. We wouldn't even have needed that nice, light blue arrow to show us where to look. Mind, it would have been even better if the flash hadn't been carefully placed under the video control panel which, in my case, didn't disappear until I hit replay.

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MEPs demand answers from EU antitrust chief about planned Google search biz deal

Martin Gregorie

Re: Is There Any Other Search Engine?

Agreed about Duckduckgo.

IXquick is quite good too. When I started to use it, I did some comparison searches with Google and found it compared quite well on searching ability and of course it is 100% better on not passing my search details to Google.

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Retiring greybeards force firms to retrain Java, .NET bods as mainframe sysadmins

Martin Gregorie

On the benefits of keeping knowledge in your own head

Far away and long ago (in the mid '90s actually) I was working with a bought-in package that interfaced an ATM network to a bank's accounting system. The system worked well but its documentation was, ahem, sparse, and so we relied on our accumulated experience with using it and with reading the code to customise it for new sites.

Much of the code carried the name of one particular programmer who was obviously rather good at cutting code and distinctly less so at documenting it. In due course we ran into a difficulty on one installation that resulted in this programmer appearing on site. He turned out to be a really nice guy with a proper enthusiasm for beer, top programming skills and had been in the business a long time. I got to know him fairly well and once asked him about the documentation. He had an excellent reason for its deficiencies: he was due to retire in 2-3 years and told me there was no way he was going to rewrite the documentation any time soon because he knew he'd be tossed out the door by his money-grubbing American management the moment he'd completed it.

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Tired of arguing with suits? Get ready to argue with engineers!

Martin Gregorie
Trollface

So does this mean....

....that Killdozer will soon exist in Real Life (TM)?

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Object to #YearOfCode? You're a misogynist and a snob, says the BBC

Martin Gregorie

Re: Is this the same Rory Cellan-Jones

I would say though that the only thing that you can be certain is on a machine is a web browser, so why not start coding there.

What complete bollocks. Marking up a web page using HTML is exactly the equivalent of emboldening or italicising text in a Word or Libre Office Writer document. It is doing exactly what it says on the HTML tin: marking up text. This is not coding because it does not involve writing executable logic.

Coding involves designing and writing executable expressions using a language designed for the purpose such as C, Java, Python, Perl, assembler or even hex machine code. The result is to produce something that accepts input data, applies the logic you've written to it and outputs results derived from the input.

Anybody who can't see the difference between coding and marking up a bit of text should not be given any job more demanding than school dinner lady.

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GPs slam NHS England for poor publicity of data grab plan

Martin Gregorie

Dont forget to opt out of summarycare.data too

Yes, I got the NHS junk mail. It was obviously an anodyne piece of pap that told me precisely nothing useful.

I got all the useful stuff by following up URLs in a comment on a previous El Reg article: you need to read both the following:

http://care-data.info/

http://www.summarycarerecord.info/

and follow up. I've opted out completely from care.data because allowing my data to go forward offers absolutely no benefit to me or the NHS. Its not at all obvious that the cash they get from flogging my data will benefit the NHS: its apparently not ring-fenced. IOW theres nothing to stop the govt from grabbing it and deciding that it could be best used by giving it to GCHQ, restocking the Commons Members Bar, or repainting the Downing Street railings.

I've also opted out from allowing summarycare.data to include anything apart from the data items they've explicitly listed.

Note that once data starts to be collected, you can't change your data access consents for either care.data or summarycare.data and that, although summarycare data will initially be for NHS use only, this can be changed without further notice, presumably as soon as the powers that be see that they can profitably flog the summary care data as well.

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Friends don't do tech support for friends running Windows XP

Martin Gregorie

Re: I've been helping friends (and businesses) upgrade from XP to ...

Do you have any specific Slackware experience with a ThinkPad X61?

No, but my sister, who got seriously pissed off with Ubuntu removing tools she used and with Unify in general, asked for help over Christmas. I replaced it with Mint and Cinnamon as the default desktop. Result: instant happiness.

The install was totally painless, so you might want to try Mint too.

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Larry Ellison: Technology has 'negatively impacted' children

Martin Gregorie

Re: About children playing outside...

Once they are 12-13 I will teach them how to program with the lowest level language I can.

And, starting before that, teach them manual skills. Most kids today are incapable of making anything. By that I don't mean using Lego - I mean something creative, like cutting parts from a sheet of balsa and gluing them together to make a simple glider that actually flies, making a simple analogue circuit (crystal set) that requires some soldering or painting a picture using actual paints on actual paper or canvas. These will be useful skills in later life for everybody, not just those who study sciences or engineering.

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US feds want cars conversing by 2017

Martin Gregorie

Re: V2V vs. on-board sensors

What everybody seems to have missed is that an active V2V system is pretty much useless until a significant fraction of vehicles are equipped with it.

In the gliding world we have FLARM, a short-range active GPS-based system in which every set broadcasts its 3D position and velocity vector while using the data sent by other sets to determine whether a collision is likely. Virtually every glider, helicopter and light plane operating in the Alps are now equipped and elsewhere in Europe coverage is, I believe pushing up to 50%. Experience has shown that FLARM was pretty much useless when less than 25% of local gliders carried it. Now it is starting to become worthwhile as usage exceeds 50% and so the remaining parts of the fleet are seeing that carrying it is a positive benefit and installing it too.

I'd say that V2V is less use on the road because a driver's traffic scan only has to cover the horizontal plane and in any case road vehicles already carry conspicuity features (lights, horns) and intentional signalling equipment (turn indicators and brake lights). Now add in the fact that FLARM is a small, self-contained box the size of a mobile phone that's easy to install in almost any cockpit while a road V2V system will need both something on the dash and (probably) external front and rear sensors. As a result V2V retrofit would probably not be easy or cheap. Consequently, V2V installation is likely to only be a feature of new vehicles and will be opposed on cost grounds by many owners.

The fleet coverage statistics for gliders are likely to apply to road users as well so, if we assume that a hypothetical V2V system is only available as an optional extra on new vehicles, how long is it likely to take for over half of all vehicles to be fitted with V2V sets?

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Volunteers slam plans to turn Bletchley Park into 'geeky Disneyland'

Martin Gregorie

Re: Says it all really

He told me that the tours had been standardised and that 90 minutes was too long for visitors.

He really is a complete pillock.

I've done the tour twice and on both occasions it felt about right for length. A lot of the most interesting stuff is the result of having time to talk to the guides and for them to be able to follow up interesting questions with extra details that aren't part of the standard talk.

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NatWest 'spam' email cockup got me slapped with late payment fee, says angry Reg reader

Martin Gregorie

Re: The ISP is to blame not the sender

I publish an SPF for my domain, but don't use SPF to block incoming mail. My only use for SPF is to fend off backscatter. It lets other domains recognise that the sending address is forged and so can discard undeliverable spam rather than bouncing it. This has benefits for both the target domain and myself and no downsides.

I run Spamassassin, which does a good enough job of spotting spam with the aid of some custom rules that SPF blocking is unnecessary.

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A BBC-by-subscription 'would be richer', MPs told

Martin Gregorie

Re: The quality would improve greatly....

The quality would improve greatly....if they cut back to three channels instead of watering down the quality to fill the 8 or so they currently try to make us think they can fill.

Absolutely, and its been that way for decades. There's about enough talent in the UK to fill 4 TV channels. Add a sports channel. Add another to deal with imported programs: by the time all the dross is filtered out there'd be just about enough good material to fill another channel . An all-news channel isn't needed as has been amply proved by any of the the current 24 hour news channels, so all the UK really needs is 6 TV channels in total.

Doing this would mean that the existing FM radio channels can be left as they are and DAB can be killed off. The bandwidth occupied by DAB and the un-needed terrestrial TV channels can now be sold off to the highest bidder.

There you go: fixed it for you. TV quality and the bandwidth shortage sorted out with a single swipe of the pen.

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US govt watchdog slams NSA snooping as illegal, useless against terrorism

Martin Gregorie

Re: Anon Cluetard Boston Marathon Bombing

Whether the Boston Bombing was AQ sponsored or not is utterly irrelevant. The NSA and their bosses have said that the mass grab of CDRs (Call Data Records) is aimed at "preventing terrorism" pure and simple. There has been no mention, express or implied, that it targets AQ or any other named group (not even Iran!) in any US Government statements I've seen.

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Marvell stuck with $1.17 billion patent bill

Martin Gregorie

Why these patents and Marvell? An explanation

It turns out that both patents are concerned with magnetic recording, specifically with recovering a clean signal from a noisy track, so it mystified me why such a patent should affect a chip fabricator who I'd only heard of in terms on making ARM-based chips.

However, it seems that they were in the Digital Signal Processing business long before they bought the Xscale chip design and production rights from Intel. Its a pity Mr Chirgwin didn't add a sentence about this after the patent numbers.

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EU gives Google JUST WEEKS to submit stronger search biz concessions

Martin Gregorie

Far reaching changes? Really?

My guess is that a oneliner to set the 'use standard page-rank' database attribute on google sites would take about 5 minutes to write and maybe an hour or two to run.

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Apple files foul-up-fixing patent for fumbling slab-fondling flubbers

Martin Gregorie

What a clever patent

So, if the patent can do all that, Apple doesn't have to add any new hardware or software to their iDevices: they just install the patent. Job done.

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Glassholes, snapt**ts, #blabbergasms, selfies and PRISM: The Reg's review of 2013

Martin Gregorie

Glasshole

Glasshole is actually 8 or so years old. It was formerly used by American glider pilots who flew metal and wooden airframes as a put-down for those flying more modern German glassfibre gliders.

This usage is now obsolete.

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El Reg's contraptions confessional no.5: The Sinclair Sovereign

Martin Gregorie

Re: Came after the HP-25, so?

I bought my HP-25 in august 1975, the year it was launched.

I bought mine a year later, 1976. It was my sole calculator until I got an HP-28S in 1990, at which point the HP-25 was retired, though I still have it and it, and its charger, still work if I clean out the dead NiCds from its battery holder and replace them with a pair of new NiCd or NiMH cells.

The 28C is more useful for programming, since it understands hex and logic operators. Its also the first bit of kit I got where the manuals outweigh the device and occupy several times its volume. I use it whenever a spreadsheet would be overkill.

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What is the difference between a drone, a model and a light plane?

Martin Gregorie

Re: Think they're against GA?

"Personally I'm in favour of anything that makes it more likely I won't hit the slow moving white thing against a background of slow moving white things, but apparantly glider pilots are less concerned about being hit because their planes blend in with the clouds."

We're up there near cloud base because that gives us a longer cruise before we need to find our next climb. As for the white colour: that's Regulations, mate, and dates back to the mid '60s when composite structures first appeared. The Powers That Were thought that a composite structure was bound to soften and fail unless it was painted white when, if anything, the opposite is true. As a result, gliders with a fibreglass or carbon structure, i.e. everything built since about 1970, has to be painted white except for the outer 1m of the wings and the nose area.

Comment: if you want to fly a full size aircraft reasonably cheaply, come gliding: operating costs are a fraction of that for any GA aircraft and most microlites. Flights of several hundred km are routine even in the UK. You can get very nice older gliders for a lot less than some of those large jet models cost, and a years' flying (all costs included) will be around £2500. I fly a Standard Libelle and really enjoy the challenge of going cross country without an engine.

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Los Angeles' weather is just like MORDOR, says Brit climate prof

Martin Gregorie

Re: As with all Climate models

Exactly so. Middle Earth has always struck me as just a set of scenes spatchcocked together as background for the plot rather than as anything that resembles a possible world. Its languages and legends may be carefully designed, but the world and its laws of magic are not.

Dr Lunt would be better advised to try the same analysis on Ursula Le Guin's Earthsea: in that world both the geography and the magic are much better thought out.

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DON'T PANIC: No FM Death Date next month, minister confirms

Martin Gregorie

Re: BTW am I right in thinking UK DAB <> Europe DAB?

Yes, the primeval DAB standard used in the UK is not compatible with DAB+ as used everywhere else. So, there's a lie by implication: you might reasonably think that DAB+ is a superset of the original DAB standard, just like Stereo FM is a superset of the original Mono FM, but it isn't. A mono FM receiver works perfectly when fed a Stereo FM signal, but a DAB radio can't deal with a DAB+ signal at all, so guess how well your shiny new in-car DAB radio is going to work on t'other side of the Channel.

I have a high-end FM receiver that I'm more than happy with (Quad FM3), or would be if the signal hadn't become noisy over the last year or two: it would be quite nice if Arquiva actually maintained the transmitters they're paid to maintain.

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LOHAN buffs body for sizzling vinyl wrap

Martin Gregorie

One word

Weight?

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