* Posts by Bernd Felsche

81 posts • joined 3 Apr 2008

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Australia shuts up shop for tech temps

Bernd Felsche
Pint

Re: Must be a lucky one

Bring your wet weather gear and lots of warm clothing.

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Bernd Felsche
Unhappy

Re: Govt skills shortage does not reflect reality

Unfortunately, quality candidates are often filtered out by hiring monkeys as the candidates will typically not be ticking as many boxes as those who think they know what they're doing.

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BYOD: A bigger headache for IT bosses than Windows Metro?

Bernd Felsche
Coat

Re: Who's pushing this exactly?

Strongly agree.

While there may be some "push" from employees if inadequate tools are provided by their employer, letting ("unwashed") employees bring their own won't solve the inherent problems.

It is essential that IT understands what tools are necessary for people to do their work effectively and efficiently. IT staff need to understand the underlying business processes and work towards introducing improvements that they can see with their knowledge of the technologies.

Shock! Horror! There is a lot of "push" from employees to bring their own devices so that they can do personal stuff at work using their employer's resources, including time.

The issue of being connected directly into the corporate network with "uncontrolled" devices is one that is seldom explored. While wired connections are "easily" dealt with by treating every one as "hostile", the wireless network is one presenting a plethora of new security challenges.

Is every wireless device assigned its own WPA key? I doubt that the employer has the infrastructure. If such a key is "permanent" and pre-shared, then the key goes with the employee's device anywhere that the device goes and connects -- beyond the control of I.T. management. Even if every device has a unique wireless access key, malware can collect vast quantities of data using promiscous wireless operation and a platform for key cracking and subsequent tunneling from the Internet into the corporate network.

Lobotomising BYODs of departing employees is closing the gate after the horse has bolted. Critical data are probably synched to computers at home or into their own "cloud".

Some businesses believe that they are too small a target to be "hacked". In reality, an Internet connection is a sufficient asset. The objective of hackers isn't generally to obtain intellectual property. (That's just a bonus.) The primary objective is to get a toehold from which they can launch further attacks so that they can get at real money, by whatever fraudulent means present themselves.

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Australian cops bust Romanian credit card thieves

Bernd Felsche
Facepalm

Punters aren't out of pocket?

"Australian financial institutions have made sure punters aren't out of pocket, refunding them for fraudulent purchases."

Watch for the next bank fee hike.

As far as retailers are concerned, many "understand" that it's sufficient to have cameras record offences taking place. Then they let their insurers deal with the losses. Rising insurance premiums?

NB: The upcoming CCC conference is entitled "Not my department.". Entirely relevant.

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New table-munching worm ravages Iranian biz databases

Bernd Felsche
Boffin

Re: Well-managed backups - what a good idea.

A second "production" system would be the one that you have provisioned for disaster recovery (DR). That's the one in a separate building, with its own electricty, etc supply. Connected only by optic fibre or a directional, wireless link.

How else does one cope with e.g. a physical catastrophe that might take days to weeks to resolve?

The DR system doesn't have to have 100% of the capabilities of the live system. It "only" needs to provide core business functions. You must be sure that it can, so you have to test it irregularly but at least several times a year; perhaps running a full "DR drill" once every year to 18 months if the plan isn't exercised out of necessity.

As for rogue RDBMS transactions, most engines support transaction logging. Those seeking to milk the last bits of performace out of the system may not have turned it off or never enabled it. The performance hit from transaction logging, when properly configured is a few percent. That is well worth it for protecting the integrity of enterprise data.

The vanilla procedure for recovery from a committed rogue transaction is to restore from the previous backup and then roll forward on the transactions up to the one which was rogue. It *may* be safe to roll forward on subsequent transactions but that is not the general case.

If you don't have a transaction log, then restoring from teh previous backup required "re-keying" all the data. Which is more likely not "possible" nowadays with EDI and web-presence. It may be possible to replay electronic transactions but their ORDER is significant in most EDI systems to preserve e.g. order numbers. Otherwise shipments, etc using such sequence numbers will become lost.

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Heroic Register reader battles EXPLODING COMPUTER

Bernd Felsche
Facepalm

Non-fire failure

A friend had a PC which had had problems since he got it. Prone to crashing, etc.

After a couple of years of torment, he asked me to check to see if I could get it going again for him to extract some of his old files.

The first thing that struck me as I took it out of the car at home was that it rattled quit a bit more than a PC should, even when turning it slowly. Once I had it on the table and the side dropped off, I gently rocked the case and isolated the rattle to the PSU. As it was never in warranty, I removed the PSU and cracked it open. Trying to discharge the caps to avoid an unpleasant shock, I noticed that the components moved a bit under the probe's pressure.

So out came the long-nosed pliers and I pulled on a component .. which came clear off the board. And so did the next. And the next. Releasing the PCB from the PSU chassis revealed that there was no solder at all. Electrical contact existed purely by pressure of component leads onto the copper of the PCB. Looks like it didn't get wet when sailing across the solder seas.

I'd cut through the QC sticker when opening the PSU case. Obviously, placement of that sticker had been quality controlled.

Replacing the PSU, brought the machine up and running a rescue system without a problem. The machine was riddled with malware which was knobbled/removed before booting the installed OS. The installed OS turned out to be unlicenced and was probably a pirated version (being from a different region) so no updates/patches were possible, nor was, as a consequence, the installation of recent versions of anti-virus software.

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German city dumping OpenOffice for Microsoft

Bernd Felsche
Mushroom

Office suite?

My guess is that the vast majority of computer users don't actually need a word processor or spreadsheet. They probably don't appreciate that they are wasting time and effort. Nor do their lords and masters, by and large. They simply do things like that because they do things like that.

In fact, those systems can work against the efficient and effective management and collection of data as each piece of information becomes an orphaned island, soon forgotten and frequently backed up.

Word processors take time to learn... but most people aren't trained and/or get away with poor practices such as using spaces and blank lines to achieve the "look" that they want for a document.

Spreadsheets? Yeah ... a swill of unauditable calculations and undocumented formulae that blow up in the face of the third user down the "pass the spreadsheet bomb" chain.

Nope. The pervasive problem is one of managing data and business processes so that users can get on with doing work instead of futzing about and "programming" without; judging by the results; the training or the aptitude.

Get a proper ERP system with the necessary plugins configured for all you form letters, etc (it's called "CRM", but you don't have to use it just for customers) so that all significant data originates and is managed within the ERP system and its database(s). The outcome is that documents issued have a consistent look, with key information correlated to other relevant enterprise data. ANYBODY with appropriate access rights can then see e.g. correspondence against other activity with the external and internal parties.

Then PAY some COMPETENT experts to analyse the enterprise's objectives and business processes; make changes to tailor the ERP system to the enterprise and change business processes to make the most of what computers can do best.

The whole "office suite" thing for corporations reeks of the mentality of treating each document on its own and not part of the information trove for the enterprise. Paying Microsoft (or anybody else for that matter) a licence fee will do nothing to improve the operational efficiency of Freiburg Council. Their hopes won't be enough.

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SECRET 28 'scientific experts' who Greened the BBC - Revealed!

Bernd Felsche
Headmaster

Re: tangentially

How about 133 active climate scientist who don't agree on much at all?

http://www.welt.de/welt_print/article1210902/Die-Klimaforscher-sind-sich-laengst-nicht-sicher.html

Just because it's in German, doesn't mean that it doesn't exist.

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Bernd Felsche
Coat

Jeremy Clarkson to Run the BBC

You know it makes sense.

Sack the board(s). Hand the cutlass and whip to JC and let him loose.

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The Register lands in Australia

Bernd Felsche
Devil

Apple-plectic?

I don't yet need an incontinence pad (iPad).

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Coding may not make national curriculum

Bernd Felsche
Facepalm

http://www.blablameter.com says:

Your text: 875 characters, 111 words

Bullshit Index :1.03

Congratulations, you managed to blow up our index scale from 0 to 1. It is highly unlikely that you will impress anybody else, but you did manage to impress us!

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Climate denier bloggers sniff out new conspiracy

Bernd Felsche
Thumb Down

Richard Chirgwin; you NEED HELP.

You don't seem to have the neceessary command of the English language to understand the meaning of "denier" (not having declared what is being denied) and "conspiracy" when it is the products and the subsequent behaviour of an individual that is being criticised.

Like Richard Chirgwin, Professor Lewandowsky of the University of Western Australia seems to prefer infamy over obscurity; refusing to withdraw/hold the LewPaper from press in the face of the massive cockups in the design, conduct and analysis of the "experiment".

When even a cursory analysis of the raw data lead to a conclusion that contradicts the headline hypothesis, the Professor doesn't blink.

When further analysis shows that his hypothesis is dependent largely upon results tainted by obvious gaming of the survey which was conducted by soliciting responses largely from one demographic, the Professor doesn't blink.

When the questionaires omit the vastly more popular conspiracy theories of e.g. big oil/fossil fuel industry supporting the "skeptics", the Professor doesn't blink.

Instead of addressing the tangible, substantial flaws identified not only by the "usual suspects" but by "believers" in CAGW, the Professor "defends" with insults and distractions.

It doesn't take a conspiracy for Lewandowsky to behave like Chirgwin or vice versa. Self-interest, arrogance, ignorance and a degree of sociopathy are sufficient.

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Google makes Opera bloggers an offer they can't refuse: Use Chrome

Bernd Felsche
Mushroom

Standards optional for Google?

Imagine if ...

... your web site(s) only had to support standards and not browsers.

Oh I remember: That's what (Sir) Tim Berners-Lee had in mind when he invented the mechanisms for the WWW in 1990

Google not evil? Perhaps.

But it's certainly not doing any good by attacking browsers instead of encouraging compliance with standards.

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Europe's prang-phone-in-every-car to cost €5m per life saved

Bernd Felsche
Facepalm

Unintended consequences

+ bystanders will no longer call for emergencies assuming that the crashed car has already called

+ provides an attack vector against emergency services as connections are inherently untrusted

+ GPRS (minimum) connectivity to connect to 112 call centres to post the XML object isn't ubiquitous

+ each vehicle will require a "slot" in a mobile cell and be constantly connected for rapid response

+ if the vehicle isn't constantly connected, it can take minutes to establish a connection

+ "constant" connection facilitates vehicle tracking

+ powering an electrical (radio transmission) device in a crashed vehicle can add to fire risk

Some of those things can add to the road toll.

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Look back in Ascii: Computing in the 1980s

Bernd Felsche
Facepalm

Seeing green

"Modems

It wasn’t long after the Mac was installed that I was hooking up my first modem and watching the glowing green characters coming up on-screen almost as fast as I could read them."

Glowing GREEN characters on a Mac screen? IIRC, they didn't do colour until late in the 1980's; except with "hacks". Perhaps Chris had one of those fancy screen filters.

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EXTREME weather blown away from unexpected direction

Bernd Felsche
Facepalm

Re: Oh, knock it off

Download the full report. (http://www.ipcc-wg2.gov/SREX/images/uploads/SREX-All_FINAL.pdf) Not the gloss-over for political apparachiks.

It (cites elided) states:

----------------

4.5.3.3. Attribution of Impacts to Climate Change:

Observations and Limitations

...

There is high confidence, based on high agreement and medium evidence, that economic losses from weather- and climate-related disasters have increased. A key question concerns whether trends in such losses, or losses from specific events, can be attributed to climate change. In this context, changes in losses over time need to be controlled for exposure and vulnerability. Most studies of long-term disaster loss records attribute these increases in losses to increasing exposure of people and assets in at-risk areas, and to underlying societal trends – demographic economic, political, and social – that shape vulnerability to impacts. Some authors suggest that a (natural or anthropogenic) climate change signal can be found in the records of disaster losses, but their work is in the nature of reviews and commentary rather than empirical research.

--------------

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Oz says 41 hits a day turn bloggers into publishers

Bernd Felsche

A few facts:

The private industry press council and government ACMA can take action against real publishers.

Defamation is a crime under Australian law.

Civil action against those making defamatory comments online date back to at least the late 1980's; from Usenet postings.

85% of the comments received by the enquiry run by The Fink et al were obviously the result of astro-turfing by Avaaz and GetUp!. GetUp! is funded heavily by the Australian Union movement; which also pulls the ALP's strings. Avaaz is a foreign political movement; supported by GetUp! and the likes of Soros.

The Fink's report was pulled together in a hurry. Apparently without any technical advice as to scale and feasibility. There's no legal way for the Australian authorities to track hits to blogs hosted overseas. (Maybe it's hidden in ACTA.) It is trivial, given the low threshold, for authorities to become overwhelmed with the number of web sites that require monitoring for "correctness".

The proposed mechanism to adjudicate transgressions is by a panel of judges nominated by political masters. The judges nominate henchmen to do the nasty work. It's unclear if such with be as part of the judiciary; with formal injunctions allowed, or a bureaucratic machine which doesn't itself suffer consequences for bad decisions. Those with "incorrect" blog/web pages, have only 2 days to "correct" and to publish an apology.

Political support of the report by the Greens isn't surprising. They're also in favour of "suspending democracy" and surrendering national sovereignty to save the planet.

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'Kill yourself now' - Torvalds throws openSUSE security tantrum

Bernd Felsche
Facepalm

Linus: RTFM and use the openSUSE support pages

openSUSE provides 3 sets of security policy settings; slut, secure and sheldon (officially Easy/Secure/Paranoid). ... in addition to custom settings. One of them is selected at installation time. Slutty is the default.

The presets aren't perfect for everything and the interpretation of "secure" varies from individual to individual. Defaults were initially too restrictive for NetworkManager to do its thing without superuser privileges. And it's also annoying for removable (USB) media, but the risks of mounting a strange filesystem automatically should be considered.

Networking is either "classic" or NetworkManager. The latter is appropriate for most mobile computers as it allows the user to choose the network connection.

The settings can be changed in the policykit files. That's how I got NetworkManager to connect to WLANs without root password; just the one for my KDE Wallet which stores the network passwords.

Printing on openSUSE is by CUPS. The system can be configured to listen for CUPS servers on the network; whichever network is connected. The appropriate printer can be chosen by the user in an application dialogue.

The user's timezone can be selected without root privileges. Users should not change the date-time on a *nix computer. If the network has been configured correctly, then NTP can be used to adjust the clock automatically.

A user chooses their timezone from the desktop environment settings. pre KDE4, the timezone selection was possible directly as a "clock" option. In KDE4, it's selected from the Mac-like configuration thingy.

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Aus business learns to love the NBN

Bernd Felsche
FAIL

BS Meter broken

I copied the quotes from O’Halloran into http://www.blablameter.com/index.php and it responded:

-----

Your text: 748 characters, 114 words

Bullshit Index :1.61

Congratulations, you managed to blow up our index scale from 0 to 1. It is highly unlikely that you will impress anybody else, but you did manage to impress us!

-----

Drivel like "digital economy participation" are sufficient for me to insist that the utterer leave the premises immediately!

Most businesses in Australia, outside of the ISPs rarely understand the concept of latency. Australia is about 50 milliseconds "wide" in latency. IMHO, NBN deliberate avoids talking about that. That higher speeds don't mean reduced latency; that latency is what makes most things on the Internet appear to be "slow".

Nor that the promised higher speeds of the NBN won't extend across the whole country; let alone internationally.

The survey only shows the depth of ignorance about the NBN.

1.61 is interesting because it is about the magnitude of the cost blowout anticipated for the NBN, which most subscribers won't see as anything better than what they had before, at the same price. Some will get LOWER speeds when changing from ADSL2+ to the entry-level NBN.

Meanwhile, taxpayers are forced to pay to build another quango monopoly.; which controls the flow of all electronic data throughout the country; except that on private radio links.

BlaBlaMeter is a handy device that can be used by anybody; even those who've broken the BS Meter with which they were equipped in childhood.

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Apache releases first upgrade to HTTP Server in six years

Bernd Felsche
Coat

Problem ahead?

"with some estimates putting its use at just under 400 million websites worldwide."

Hope it doesn't get 404

:-)

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Scroogle unplugged for good this time

Bernd Felsche
Facepalm

Re: Re: Goodbye and thanks for all the fiche

There was no stealing.

The price isn't advertised.

And when you figure out the price, it is far too high for what is delivered.

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Bernd Felsche
Thumb Up

Goodbye and thanks for all the fiche

Big thumbs up to Daniel Brandt for trying to do the right thing.

May all your toast be warm and crisp.

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Bernd Felsche
Mushroom

Google "results"

I used Scroogle because my searches weren't tracked.

Prior to that, I used Google; but made sure that it was searching for "random" stuff a lot more often than my genuine searches. What people search for in the commercial arena may be related to what they do in confidence. Aggregation of search strings provides the intelligence to indicate the direction of such activity. The objective may be to place targeted adverts alongside the search results, but the uses of the collected data go far beyond that purpose.

From what I've seen, a great many people use Google when it's not needed. They type the url of the web site that they want into the Google search text. Then they click on the first match. (Yikes and Yikes!) Many refuse to be educated as to the "address bar" in their browser window..

Bad? Much worse.

Some prominent blogs frequently use a Google search URL with embeded URL for the real site. Bloggers already have the ability to collect statistics about which links are clicked from their site and have the REFERER information to tell them how some users got to their blog.

Intellectual enfeeblement is rife.

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Aus visual search start-up goes global

Bernd Felsche
Coat

Old shoes

Didn't Penny and Sheldon build an app for that years ago? ;-)

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An iPad in every pot, says Anna Bligh

Bernd Felsche
Coat

When I were a lad ...

We all had tablets from the first day in school.

We could play games like Hangman and Battleships on them.

And they didn't need batteries.

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Bernd Felsche
Facepalm

Streetlamps?

You idiot.

Streetlamps are nowhere near strong enough to dangle a well-fed politician.

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SanDisk daddy: Flash to 'checkmate' hard drives by 2020

Bernd Felsche
Boffin

NAND shooting at the moving target of DRAM

DRAM technology keeps moving too; trying to keep up with the feeding frenzy of processors.

Computer architecture didn't make the expected leap back to "core storage" in 2008; probably because funds dried up. In 2008, it was expected that NAND would soon plug into system boards; extending NUMA space in another dimension.

The other obstacle is of course that the paradigm shift is so substantial, that the industry can't cope. Architects, hardware, systems and software are stuck up to their necks in a world where mass storage is on a different medium and needed to be fetched from cards/tape/disc/... and there's little hope that the non-technical industry participants will recognize the fundamental change; because they don't, for the most part, have an inkling about how stuff works.

Many simply can't get their minds around the fact there there is now the potential for "mass storage" to be directly addressable. It is what VM "hoped for", but now that that's deliverable at (near) full force, most don't understand how to use more than a smidgen of its potential.

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Feds to carmakers: 'Rein in high-tech dashboards'

Bernd Felsche
Facepalm

Device-specific guidelines/legislation/rules unnecessary

In Germany at least, the first article of their traffic code (StVO) says that participation in road traffic requires constant attention (and mutual regard). It applies to ALL road users.

Constant attention. What were they thinking when they wrote that!? That makes sense.

Subsequent legislators must've skipped reading that bit and explicitly added explicit prohibitions. E-Jits. A vast horde of nincompoops are actively preoccupied with making roads "safe" by paving them with legislation and regulations. When each has done their bit, they claim to have improved road safety, the almost always declare a great leap forward, and other nincompoops believe it; paying even less attention to the traffic -- because the roads are safe as long as they don't exceed the speed limit, etc.

The onus is on the road user to ensure that traffic gets their constant attention, to avoid distractions and not to be in traffic if they cannot give it that attention.

Widgets of Mass Distraction shouldn't be a selling point in cars. Drivers need information about traffic, presented in a way that is easy to grasp, timely but not distracting. The vast majority of that information is outside the windows of the car.

There should be no need for industry guidelines on what's accessable to the driver of a car. Let alone regulations or laws. If car makers run sheltered workshops where they think it's a good idea to isolate the driver from traffic and to maximise possibility of distraction, then let them build the cars.

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Met Office cuts off Linux users with new weather widgets

Bernd Felsche
Facepalm

Greatly Surprised

That the Met office produces results that are of use to anybody at all.

Even those using a "wide range of operating systems" (numbering two).

Adobe dropping "support" for Linux is a good thing. One less vector for malware attack squashed. Adobe; just say NO! I avoid their festering bloatware (I mean, seriously; 80 MB of software for a PDF reader?) that's riddled with holes waiting to be exploited and requires a constant Internet connection to download patches every other day.

It's only their shiny presence in the view of the "decision makers" (not the people who have to clean up the mess) that allows them to get away with buffing their mediocity for another generation of products that use more resources to do even less for the user; in a locked-down, proprietary way.

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Solar installations skyrocket in Oz

Bernd Felsche

Regulations don't protect. They will endanger if you believe that they protect.

The regulations require isolation of the solar system from AC and DC side. Like this: http://www.sa.gov.au/subject/Water,+energy+and+environment/Energy/Energy+efficiency/Choosing+renewable+energy+for+your+home/Installing+a+solar+photovoltaic+%28PV%29+system

But that doesn't stop the PV from generating. Electricity is only isolated from the switch "down". PV panels are still "hot". And my statement was with respect to the roof space.

The regulations don't require e.g. a severing of interconnects between PV panels, from which substantial DC voltages are established and can easily deliver a lethal current, even on somewhat-overcast days.

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Bernd Felsche

@Michael Xion

Figured by taking the estimated total generated (which is the government figure) of 680 GWh and dividing it by the advertised generating capacity (of 1031 MW) multiplied by the number of hours in the year. You can use the figures from the article "there is now more than 1,000 MW of solar power installed, delivering 680 GWh annually." or from the government slide-show: http://www.cleanenergycouncil.org.au/dms/cec/reports/2011/Clean-Energy-Australia-Report-2011/Clean%20Energy%20Australia%20Report%202011.pdf

By the "miracles" of arithmetic, one can do it the other way around; divide the total amount generated (680 GWh) by the number of hours in a year and then divide by the advertised generating capacity.

I don't know where you get 1000MWh from. MWh is an amount of electrical energy. MW is electrical power; the rate at which energy is delivered.

You seem to have pulled figures out of the air ("The average daily generation from a 1kw [sic] system in Australia is 4KWh[sic].") and then jumbled up the numbers until they supported your argument. PV solar is nothing like "46% efficiency"; nor does it have a capacity factor or availability anywhere near that.

Even if one allowed for the previous year's total installed base (493 MW; which would ignore the 540 MW of "capacity" added over 9 months, and assumes that they only came online on August 31st) for comparison it doesn't reach 16% capacity. Nothing like the 46% you calculate.

Generating plant that is advertised as being 1000 MW should be able to deliver 1000 MW whenever 1000 MW is needed. It is clear that PV solar neither delivers that amount on average; and experience tells us that it's seldom anything like that on demand.

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Bernd Felsche

Fantastic generating capacity

Or is it? 1000 MW installed capacity should be producing 8760 GWh of electricity a year and it's produced 680 GWh. A stunning 7.8%

To put it another way, the generating capacity averaged over the year isn't 1000 MW; it's 78 MW. A real successs story. A triumph of feeling good over doing good.

Not surprising given the preponderance of ill-sited and badly oriented PV systems; some actually pointing South of East or West. Because the roof slopes that way.

Wait until the authorities audit the certificates issued; which are each granted in return for (IIRC) 1 MWh of conventional generation averted. Accepting the certificate effectively means entering into a contract to supply. Not generating enough could become costly.

Still, it must be rewarding to know that there are now half a million homes where, in the event of a fire, the fire brigade will simply watch the fire and stop its spreading to other buildings without PV until the PV panels have been destroyed. Especially rewarding for insurance companies. Who will also have to reinstate the solar system, or the person who got the certificates will have to pay back the taxpayer for the ungenerated portion of certificates issued if the system isn't insured.

Gives one a warm glow, knowing that.

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Fusion-io: SSDs are useless ... Let's build one

Bernd Felsche
Boffin

Paradigm breaking?

It's not the SSD paradigm that needs breaking. It's the disc storage paradigm. The one that places active data onto a poorly-connected interface and stores it in a funky way.

Flash is (non-volatile) memory. It should be directly addressable. Even if the storage words are block-sized. We don't need no steeking "filesystems".

NUMA is the way to handle it hardware-wise.

Software-wise; clean up your act and treat all memory as "virtually non-volatile". Flash is fast enough to "mirror" memory pages. Let the operating system pull the pages from NV to volatile RAM... which would conceptually be no more than an "L4"-cache.

That's a paradigm change. Such changes aren't done by nibbling along the edge of the slice of pizza; one has to stuff the whole thing in the gob and chew like buggery to get it down.

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Motorola rolls out Australia’s biggest digital radio network

Bernd Felsche
Facepalm

Covered?

Police, FESA and DCS get new radios. Great.

So the DEC still have to send smoke signals?

Tangent: "Oversight" has two meanings.

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Oz rail company sold USB keys from lost property in auction

Bernd Felsche

In some ways this is better...

... than handing over the storage device somebody who turns up claiming to have lost a USB key on a train last week.

But only slightly.

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Oz robo-soldiers in US Marines' firing line

Bernd Felsche
Black Helicopters

What happens if the enemy can't be programmed?

"The free-ranging, armour-plated and networked robots are programmed to mimic human behaviour to provide a realistic, interactive training scenario for marksmen."

They're not realistic until they're capable of shooting back.

And sadly; "Andrew Stoner" is a real name. That's not irony.

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WD dries out flood-trashed fab, pumps out first disks

Bernd Felsche
Coat

The Spin Cycle of the Terabytes

Just thinking that it's an opportunity missed for a great headline before I fetch my coat.

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Superhero oil-burping algae will save the world

Bernd Felsche
Boffin

Rehash of 1970's research

FAO has publishes quite a resource on lipid production by algae; and the ways in which it can be optimised. Some of the research was originally funded by NASA while it still had a hankering to put colonies onto the moon and Mars. As well as bigger ideas.

I'm unconvinced by the "current" research and moreso by the claims being made. about algae being able to satisfy the need for carbon-based fuels. They won't. Supplement is the best that they can do. algal ponds scale to meet teh transport fuel requirements for settlements in the size of hundreds to perhaps a thousand inhabitants with lots of surrounding area to use to for production.

Tropical island communities come to mind. Howvere, tourism pays better for those communities. They'd have to do without tourism because nobody wants to dive into murky ponds of algae for recreation.

The environmental concern about super-CO2-gobbling-algae is that it has the potential to devastate the planet if it doesn't startve at a sufficiently-high level of atmospheric CO2. Such as 300 ppm. Much of today's argicultural productivity, producing food, results from ambient CO2 levels being locally well in excess of 300 ppm. If the algae "scrub" to below 200 ppm, they will impair growth in most plants; beginning with trees; expecially at higher altitudes.

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Compact Disc death foretold for 2012

Bernd Felsche
Coat

The next big thing?

But they haven't yet finished putting all the old stuff from vinyl onto CD yet.

How will I preserve my CD collection (which is nearly as old as the format) when the format becomes extinct? Do I wrap th CDs in foil and bury them deep enough to avoid CD-targeted neutron flux? ;-)

When CDs came out, we were told that they'd last a century. Or something like that.

CDs will go the way of cash I guess. You don't need a login to buy a CD legally. You walk into a shop, pick something that you like, pull some change from your pocket and pay for the CD. Nobody need ever know that you're an ABBA fan.

Compare that to downloading... suddenly a million people know what music you like and will keep pestering you with offers until well after the last shovel of sod fills your grave.

Now when you leave the store, they say "Buy! Buy!", not "bye bye".

And all those songs you paid for downloading ... they're in the player somebody just took from your coat pocket.

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India uncloaks new thorium nuke plants

Bernd Felsche

People could be frightened by things that they don't understand

I put that down to "education"; replacing inate curiiosity with fear during the upbringing of a child. We now have adults who are supposed to be running counrties who are inept at everything because of paralysing fear of everything.

Generations have been wasted by turning fear into a fashion; exascerbated by ostracising those unfashionables who try to understand what they do not understand; instead of buying the fears of the unknown.

People who want power tell scary stories. So that the over-aged children can be maintained in a compliant, frightened state.

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Bernd Felsche
Black Helicopters

Cannot be weaponised easily without somebody noticing.

I understand that it is difficult to work with the hard gamma radiation in order to make a bomb and repositories of 233U are very difficult to conceal.

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TomTom Go Live TopGear Edition

Bernd Felsche
Linux

TomToms suffer from brain damage

I bought a TomTom thingummy on hols in Europe earlier this year because I don't speak Czech and Plzen seemed like a nice place to go for a few days. It was. But after returning back to Germany, I found that it at first refused to plan a new route. So I tried resetting to factory default. Which it said it couldn't because it couldn't write the file. OOPS!

Fortunately, I had a backup (TomTom Nav 5 running on a Palm Treo 650) albeit with old maps. I managed to swap the broken unit at the retail chain which'd sold me the flakey unit. They had one with a smaller screen but gave me 10 Euros due to the price difference. As the replacement unit had maps of 19 European countries, I redeployed ownership to a worthy soul before returning down-under.

Earlier this October, I still has store credit that was burning a hole in my wallet so decided to give the next generation (the 820) a go, live. All went well ... for a few weeks. Yesterday, before the first hookup to the interwebby (I had to first dig up a disused WinXP and update because TomTom don't support Linux) I was trying to fix some map errors and the screen blanked with a message saying domething like cannot read file:///blah/blah/blah ... OMG!

But as the WinXP was finally catching up with patches, I decided to give doing an online update of the TomTom a spin before giving TomTo another piece of my mind. (I went online and saw the latest promotion ... the w@nkers are giving 3-years of map updates with new units sold... sold one week after I bought mine.) Well, the computer detected the device and I followed the twisty maze of passages, all alike ... and half an hour later had a re-flashed and updated 820.

I hope that this version of firmware won't over-write its critical storage when a user innocently marks a different speed limit on a section of road or tries to customise the customisable menu.

I suppose JC has to make his money somehow,. and his voice on TomTom is mostly harmless.

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El Reg in SHOCK email address BLUNDER

Bernd Felsche

Just guessing...

The a's and the b's most likely. After that, somebody may have noticed the outbound mail queue with 40,000 messages, each almost 2MB in size. Or maybe a snarky comment on "Privacy blunders by UK biz soar, websites least trusted", or my email to a body @theregister.

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Bernd Felsche
Coat

Should not be able to happen

As one of the lucky recipients, I hope that there was a good reason to hurry!

Why does the person sending marketing emails have access to the full list of subscribers? That's not necessary, is it?

If there is a two-step procedure where one mis-step can result in such a bludner, then take the two-step and shred it. Redesign the process so that subscribers are listed as one address; visible only internally to TheRegister and have the MTA use that to retrieve the list of recipients and to send to all

Limit the size of marketing emails to 5 kilobytes per message. The mailing list message is nearly 2 megabytes.

I'm not too worried about subscribers seeing my name and email address. But if some malware finds the list stored on their computer/network, then that does create a problem.

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Privacy blunders by UK biz soar, websites least trusted

Bernd Felsche
Paris Hilton

Would this be like ElReg's Bludner?

... of emailing out the entire mailing list of 46,000+ to subscribers by "marketing@ElReg'?

Paris ... because of the deliberate mis-spelling.

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Japanese take World Solar Challenge

Bernd Felsche
Facepalm

Be fair to constructors

Solar car racing is not a "hobby" (for most). It's a learning exercise for students. Usually university students. And with limited budgets, tight schedules to fit into busy study timetables, it doesn't leave much time to develop craftsmanship, let alone refinement.

There is some opportunity for re-use and refinement in long-lived vehicles; cars that are competitive and adaptable to changes in rules. But many choose to start over again, carrying over almost nothing tangible from previous cars.

Construction is hard. Least of all because many things have to be built from scratch; from near-raw material in order to be application specific, allowing a reduction to the simplest, lightest component that will do the job. They often end up re-inventing wheels.

But such isn't a bad thing in the bigger picture. It's a learning exercise for the participants.

Solar cars will never be practical for ordinary transport. The energy source is too diffuse and unpredictable for reliable transport. The actions of inventing and developing novel, "practical" solutions to problems; and facing up to their "failure" are valuable lessons. Expensive ones, but not nearly as bad as mobile phones "bursting into flames" because the battery management system doesn't have working fail-safes.

Here's a glimpse of the tip of the iceberg:

http://scg.levels.unisa.edu.au/src/pmwiki.php/Main/HomePage

It's a little dated but sufficiently vague to be malleable to current conditions and technologies.

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Bernd Felsche
Black Helicopters

It's F1 racing for geeks who don't want to look like planet destroyers

The WSC is now an extreme (expensive) "sport". Sadly, the total cost of entry is now in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Even for those on a "shoestring" budget. For most schools, such things are now well out of reach. It's become a spectator sport that is very, very boring.

And unlike F1, where one has reasonable control of the operating environment, "competitors" have no reliable way of telling how much "fuel" they'll have; and when. Given the variability of conditions, even finishing the distance in the allotted time has only about 90% probability with a "perfect run". Even knowing how the weather is about to change doesn't help significantly with the leading (best) cars which are restricted to the speed limit formuch of the distance. Finishing in half the time ... less than 50%.

It's a huge gamble. It's a casino. We know who wins in a casino.

Even the best strategist, running a perfectly-engineered car and team won't help if there's a cloud-bank persistently between your car and the sun. Your best strategy is to rely on the unreliability and misfortune of those with notionally-quicker cars.

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Apotheker right hand man Wohl exits HP

Bernd Felsche
Coat

Apotheker Wohl?

Garnicht!

Sad constellation of names for those who are Germanically enhanced.

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Oz tech retailer threatens parallel import strategy

Bernd Felsche
Black Helicopters

Liberating the supply chain

If the importer honours warranty requirements; meets laws regarding product safety, standards compliance and merchantability, then the "grey imports" will only damage the profits of the 200%-ers in the supply-chain who've grown fat on imports.

It means that the customer can get a better deal and the retailer gets a bigger slice.

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Aussies’ password habits still slack, says study

Bernd Felsche
Paris Hilton

Corporate culture often the culprit

Some managers *insist* that the workers under their charge supply the manager with any passwords related to work; and then store them conveniently in an Excel spreadsheet. Such managers cannot understand that if the passwords of co-workers can be easily known; that there is no individual accountability amongst the workers.

If something goes wrong, then the manager has to wear the consequences.

It is beyond their comprehension that competent computing system admnistrators don't need to know the user's passwords. And it is beyond many corporate IT departments to establish mechanisms so that the need to know information can be satisfied without losing track of who did what.

There's a thick-headed "not my problem" issue with management at all levels regarding data security and the consequences of impersonation. They care not to understand. At the highest level, executives employ "security consultants" to find that there isn't a problem. That is the mission of the consultant. To find no problem. (The post-It notes stuck to the edge of the monitor disappear under the keyboard or mouse-mat during any well-publicised "audit".)

Paris; because that's the attitude.

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