* Posts by Alan Mackenzie

37 posts • joined 11 Nov 2008

IBM tries to dodge $1bn sueball for deal won with 'ethical transgressions'

Alan Mackenzie
FAIL

For a payroll project?

One billion dollars, even of the Australian variety, for a payroll project?

Just how difficult can it be to pay the right amount of money to the right people at the right time, regularly? Even with a lot of people, gruesome tax laws, and so on?

Spaceprobes have been sent to Mars for less.

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You gotta be in it to win it: The Register presents its official Programming Competition

Alan Mackenzie
WTF?

It's a bit vague, isn't it?

What language are these exercises to be coded in? Assembler (for speed), or what?

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Germans in ‘brains off, just follow orders' hospital data centre gaff

Alan Mackenzie

Re: Probably air con fear

> Although I've never managed to elicit exactly which illness that is.

"Der Kreislauf", surely? :-)

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YOU! DEGRASSE! It's time to make Pluto a proper planet again, says NASA boffin

Alan Mackenzie
WTF?

This isn't science

Pluto is a particular lump of rock and ice in orbit around the Sun, and whether we classify it as a planet or a dwarf planet makes not the slightest difference to what it actually is. I'd be happier if the alleged scientists would just keep themselves out of such an inane and fruitless debate. Lets instead enjoy our increased knowledge about Pluto and the outer Solar system.

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UK.gov makes total pig's ear of attempt to legalise home CD ripping

Alan Mackenzie
Headmaster

"... you either buy a CD and rip or just buy digital ....".

Sorry, but that is ignorant. CDs _are_ digital. Vinyl records and cassette tapes are analog.

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Why OH WHY did Blighty privatise EVERYTHING?

Alan Mackenzie

Re: But public money...

> It would have made sense to keep infra-structure separate but to allow multiple operating companies to run competing services over them.

That would have been the worst of all worlds. Railways have a certain limited capacity, and there are only so many passengers. Typically, an (open) ticket is valid on any train on the route. If you had several companies operating the route, that ticket would only be valid on every nth train. That would have been dreadful for passengers.

> It would have made even more sense to have done the latter but split the infra-structure into regional companies so as to concentrate each management's attention on getting its own bit right.

Such fragmentation would have lead to horrendous interface problems at the boundaries. Infrastructure progress (new signalling systems, increasing speeds on long distance lines) would have been inhibited. Cross-"border" tickets would have become much dearer.

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That DRM support in Firefox you never asked for? It's here

Alan Mackenzie

Re: Good stuff

"Netflix and similar services need a way to protect their content."

Rubbish! Their "content" is not in any danger. And in so far as it is, the way to protect it is by backing it up, just like you do daily with your personal stuff at home. ;-)

What you really meant was Netflix et. al. want a way to RESTRICT people's use of "their content". That's an entirely different matter.

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Scot Nationalists' march on Westminster may be GOOD for UK IT

Alan Mackenzie

Re: "... would not seek another referendum ..."

"[Ian Hamilton,] the man who led the project to recover the Stone of Scone in 1950. By recover, I assume you mean steal?"

Not at all. To steal means "to permanently deprive the rightful owners of [property]". The Stone of Scone was looted in 1296 and reset[*] in Westminster Abbey. Who is the rightful owner of looted property? Nothing could have been further from the minds of the project members than theft - a short time later, Hamilton freely returned the Stone to the authorities.

[*] Scottish legal term. Look it up!

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Alan Mackenzie

"... would not seek another referendum ..."

You wrote: "After last September’s rejection of independence, the SNP said it would not seek another referendum for a generation."

This is entirely untrue. What the SNP, Alex Salmond I think, said (I don't have the exact quote) was something like "This is a once in a generation opportunity.". It was not a pledge, it was a warning: "If you vote no now, you'll not get another chance in a long time.".

Of course, Scotland did indeed vote no last September, to a large extent on the strength of "the VOW" for devolution-max announced by Gordon Brown on behalf of the unionist parties, and surprise, surprise, that now looks unlikely to materialise to any notable degree. As Ian Hamilton, the man who led the project to recover the Stone of Scone in 1950, once wrote: "I did not, do not and never will trust an Englishman in political office. Nice people as they are, they carry power as badly as a Scot carries drink.".

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NASA's Messenger craft SMASHES into Mercury: See ya later, alien crater

Alan Mackenzie

Ran out of fuel and crashed?

I don't understand that bit. If it ran out of fuel, surely it would stay in orbit round Mercury for ever, Mercury having no atmosphere to drag it down. We got past the notion of continual force being required for motion back in Isaac Newton's time.

Or did the controllers of the probe decide that they only had just enough fuel left to de-orbit it, and did that, probably according to plan?

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Audi TT: It's NOT a hairdresser-mobile, the dash is too flash

Alan Mackenzie
Happy

a combined consumption figure of 47.1mpg on the optional 20-inch wheels

Just think what the figure might be without this option.

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German court slaps down Uber's ride-sharing app

Alan Mackenzie

Re: No, you ignorant arse, not money…

"The problem is taxis live in a pampered world of regulated profit."

Oh, yes? You should try making your living as a taxi driver in Germany. On my last regular taxi ride, in Schweinfurt, the journey of ~5km usually took 10 minutes, for which I paid a mere 11 Euros (including tip). Given that it's going to have taken another 10 minutes for the taxi to get back to the town centre, that works out at around 30 Euros per hour in the best case, when the driver gets another passenger immediately.

From that <30 Euros per hour, the driver's got to buy and maintain his vehicle, pay for fuel and insurance and if he's lucky, there'll be a bit left over to pay his food and rent. No wonder they all work long, long days (and frequently nights). The service they provided was superb.

If these ratbags Uber get their way, it will be a race to the bottom. The already marginal livelihood of taxi drivers will be crushed out of existence by illegal competition from those who hold laws and social order in total contempt. I'm behind the German courts and taxi drivers all the way.

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Win Sun, lose Sun: How Larry's bet on old-world systems hurt Oracle

Alan Mackenzie

Re: Was this article paid by the world?

.... By the word, perhaps? Even the Reg doesn't have such pretensions.

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Wall St wolves tear chunk off Microsoft: There goes $30bn!

Alan Mackenzie

Price of everything, ....

Can we have a little less of the nonsense "....wiping $30bn off its VALUE", please? What has had that sum of money wiped of it is merely its (share)PRICE. Microsoft's value is its ability to produce nearly working software and (to a lesser extent) hardware, and this will be only very slightly different after that announcement (due to random variation).

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Windows 7 MARKED for DEATH by Microsoft as of NOW

Alan Mackenzie

Re: Year of Linux on the laptop

Everyone is indeed different. I've still got a desktop, but the last MS Windows I had was 3.1.

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Denmark BANNED from viewing UK furniture website in copyright spat

Alan Mackenzie

Protected?

Please, no more of this "protected" by copyright nonsense! The designs in question are not being protected - they are not in any danger. They are being _restricted_.

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Harassed Oracle employee wins case, cops huge legal bill

Alan Mackenzie
WTF?

$224,000??

How on earth did her lawyers manage to run up such a huge bill? It seems like an "ordinary" sexual harrassment case, not a round of Apple vs. Samsung.

Even if the lawyers were charging $500/hour (which seems excessive to me), that would work out at ~450 hours of work. What, precisely, did her lawyers spend several hundred hours doing?

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Nokia: OK, Q1 has been weak, but there's 'underlying' profit

Alan Mackenzie
WTF?

ASP? non-IFRS?

Any chance of an article written in English?

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Six things a text editor must do - or it's a one-way trip to the trash

Alan Mackenzie
Go

Speaking of Emacs, ....

,... Emacs 24.3 has just been released. It satisfies quite a few, but not all, of Verity's criteria.

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The universe speaks: 'It's time to get off your rock!'

Alan Mackenzie
FAIL

Re: Call the sub-editor!

Not forgetting "global warning wouldn't have been such a major issue any more.", too. Aren't global warnings exactly what the article is about?

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Wind farms create local warming

Alan Mackenzie
Boffin

Re: Earth's Rotation?

On the contrary, the Earth's tides, generated by the Moon (and Sun), are causing the Moon gradually to move away from the Earth. It's being pulled much the same way as a rope is, when swung around ones head.

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Ye Bug List

Alan Mackenzie
Boffin

Missing word in the comments guidelines.

"We don't the forums to turn nasty and uncivil." is missing the word "want". Please fix it!

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Big stars give birth to little stars in new WISE pic

Alan Mackenzie
Boffin

442 interlocking tiles?

That's a square, 21 x 21 tiles, with one left over. I wonder how that fits in. Hmm.

Or, maybe the tiles are "rectangular" with an array of 26 x 17 tiles.

Seems wierd.

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EU recording copyright extension 'will cost €1bn'

Alan Mackenzie

Sheet music goes out of copyright 70 years after the composer's death. There are some exceptional rules about "scholarly editions" in some places (Germany), but basically, 70 years and that's it. After that time you may photocopy even recent editions. If you want to play a Mahler symphony, download the parts from http://imslp.org/.

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Insulin pump attack prompts call for federal probe

Alan Mackenzie
Boffin

@cornz1 - The basics of diabetic control

I'm sorry Mr/s. Cornz, but you could hardly be more wrong on just about everything you've written.

The diabetic herself decides, from day to day, even from hour to hour, how much insulin to inject/pump. This varies around an "ideal" dose, and depends massively on what is eaten, degree of exercise, degree of stress, etc. The amount of variation can easily be as much as 50%, or even more whilst suffering an infectious disease.

The doctor does NOT decide how much insulin should be given, except by giving individual guidelines.

The whole idea of an insulin pump is for a diabetic to be able to adjust the dose of insulin easily and rapidly, and to give boosts just before (or after) meals.

I sincerely hope you never have cause to discover these things for yourself.

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Digital singles all the rage in Europe

Alan Mackenzie

Digital?

For crying out loud! Please don't say "digital" when you mean "online". CDs are digital too, remember.

For an analog recorded medium, you have to go back to records or cassette tapes. These media, for some reason, don't appear in your graphs.

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Google urges background tab websites to throttle themselves

Alan Mackenzie
Alert

Banking on good luck

You do banking with 150 tabs open? Is that wise?

Hopefully not with MS's browser!

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Mac OS X Lion debuts in July as $29.99 upgrade

Alan Mackenzie
Trollface

A new Mac capability

I didn't know a gang of Macs could shred disk images. You learn something new every day.

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End user productivity revisited

Alan Mackenzie
Joke

Why would anybody want to ....

end user productivity? ;-)

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Google shocks world with unthreaded Gmail

Alan Mackenzie

What's the big deal?

Threaded messages could be several thousand back from your current head.

Don't really understand what all this fuss is about - mutt has had the simple key sequences "ot" (sort threaded) and "or" (sort by order of arrival) for decades. With this you do "or", put the cursor on the pertinent message, then "ot" to see it in its thread.

Is this Google monstrosity something you have to configure rather than a runtime toggle? Yuck!

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Intel's Atomic 'Pine Trail' arrives early

Alan Mackenzie
Joke

Intel's atomic pile train arrives early .....

... unlike Eurostar's electric trains. :-)

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Department for Transport pours millions into eTicketing

Alan Mackenzie
Troll

The real reason .....

The real reason for this new card system is that the old Oyster system, based on an NXP chip, has been cracked open, and there's no pearl inside. Sooner or later they'll have to replace the flawed Oyster with something new.

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Premium rate regulator stops providers charging for free info

Alan Mackenzie
Pint

Re: reg Fail: UK not the US

Actually, PPP sounds like the way your modem talks with your ISP. You know, modems - remember them?

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UK.gov revives net cut-off threat for illegal downloaders

Alan Mackenzie
Go

How about some thinking?

How about actually deciding what the problem is before trying to fix it? This son of an almond has, for want of intelligence, decided the problem is "piracy", i.e. illicit file copying. Surely the actual problem is songwriters and musicians not getting a fair return for their efforts?

So, what's the best way for artists to be paid better? Impose a license fee on internet use, something like Britain's (former) radio licence and (current) TV licence. This would entitle each Internet user to download copyright files freely. Somewhere between £10 and £200 a year would surely be OK. You divide this up amongst the artists by sampling the Internet, measuring how much of each song/video/.... is circulating the wires.

Yes, this would be costly and perhaps a bit unfair. But it's got to better, and cheaper than the authoritarian punitive measures proposed by the current copyright holders.

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Pirate Bay guilty verdict: Now what?

Alan Mackenzie
Linux

Where's Lewis Carroll when we need him?

This thing's absolutely barmy, stark raving mad.

Quite aside from the philosophical question as to what degree of control discontent creators (YUCK!) should retain over their readers listeners and viewers, this just won't fly.

There are two workable ways to go:

(i) You keep a log of EVERYTHING downloaded by each internet connection and send a bill for everything which was copyright to the downloader; or

(ii) You make an "internet license" obligatory, much as a TV license is, and divide the money collected amongst the composers, performers, film makers etc.

The British government would clearly love (i). Everybody else would accept (ii). Really, how difficult can that be to implement when people start behaving like adults? People managed it when radio came in.

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Germany announces ITER fusion-reactor supercomputer

Alan Mackenzie

The sun's too gentle.

"This is plainly possible - the sun and all the other stars run on self-sustaining fusion reactions - but achieving it using human technology has had top boffins stumped for decades."

The power output of the sun is less than a microwatt per kilogram of "fuel". In fact, the reaction inside the Sun's core is such a damp squib that it takes several thousand million years before needing refuelling. This is clearly inadequate for a fusion power station.

It would probably be better if the nuclear technologists first built another sun as a proof of concept before going on to the much higher temperatures and pressures which will be required by a terrestrial fusion power station.

--

Alan Mackenzie (Nuremberg, Germany).

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Company That Can't Be Named slams critics

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