2223 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009
Zopa is a great idea but you are playing on a field tilted against you. Put your money in a bank, and the government guarantees you'll get it all back, even if the UK economy tanks and many people that the bank has lent your money to default on their loans. Also the bank is too big to fail, so it makes reckless loans and drives loan rates down, knowing it cannot go bust. Bankers! Lend your money through Zopa, and you are on your own. Yes, you get more interest, but personally I don't believe you get enough to compensate for the risk to your capital, especially after it's taxed.
Silly question of the day: if the government takes 40% of your interest in tax, shouldn't it reimburse 40% of your losses if things later turn sour? :-(
Batch processing has considerable advantages. You have large-scale commit rather than small-scale commit. The batch is either processed in its entirety, or not at all. (Or at least, if it's being done right, that's how it should be).
That ought to make disaster-recovery easier, which is why the RBS fiasco was so shocking. Not only was there a loss of service for some considerable number of days, but it became clear there was also a loss of data integrity in the case of some customers' accounts.
Re: A: drive
Nicely ironic name if you ask me. It's about the same size as a floppy disk, but stores about six hundred thousand times more about ten thousand times faster. I can think of worse adverts.
Best of both worlds?
If you never use more than 32Gb this drive will behave like an SSD, because everything you store will be cached in the solid-state part. The difference is that you won't run out should you want to store more. The stuff that you store and subsequently don't refer to for a long time will "disappear" into the magnetic disk. The stuff that is active will be solid-state cached.
Should be the best of both worlds.
Especially if it can tolerate complete failure of the flash cache, and revert to being a magnetic-only disk. Anyone know? The failure mode of solid-state memory is reportedly often to stop working in a flash (sorry). Magnetic disks can also fail like that, but more often degrade progressively and gracefully giving plenty of time to copy your data elsewhere.
Re: Duplo is very much a trademark
Window pains, surely?
Re: So they will be paying you then?
Ever heard of the common good?
It might be a good idea for the mobile company to offer you a femtocell in exchange for a refundable deposit. On the other hand if it costs £50, I'd happily pay that for my convenience, and extend the convenience to anyone else with a phone in or very close to my premises. Administering a refundable £50 deposit might actually cost more.
Doing so for phone calls and texts has effectively zero cost. A phone call is 24 kbit/sec before compression, compared to 2 Mbit/sec on the poxiest of broadbands. A data throttle on "my" cell would be appreciated, so my internet doesn't get flooded by people downloading movies to their smartphones.
Re: Get one at home?
Actually the fact that you are registering the phones does create some degree of legal liability for you, if only for the act of registering them.
If the box just DHCP'ed, connected back to the mobile operator via a preconfigured encrypted VPN, and then accepted any phone in range, then you'd be acting as a carrier (for encrypted traffic that you can't even read) and all liability would be back with the mobile operator who could remote-control "your" (their!) femtocell.
I don't know if one can get a plug-in-and-forget box such as I've described above. I can think of a few basements where a cheap box of this nature would be very welcome!
Early computers tended to work in decimal (or rather, BCD). It was often more efficient o make hardware that crunched pseudo-decimal than to convert long strings of 32 or more bits into decimal digits after the computations were done.
Re: "...it's in the middle of nowhere"
I thought that the official middle of nowhere was more or less the corresponding location in the South Pacific, marked by a lack of islands and any other reason to be there. It's also not even on the way to anywhere much.
Rumour has it that the middle of nowhere is the default target for the major nuclear powers' missiles, so that should one ever get armed and launched by mistake, as little harm as possible is done. (Unless you are a blue whale, of course. )
Re: If the volcano explodes and no one is there...
Might be Heard, not seen.
Re: Don't tempt fate
I believe that at Krakatoa, what happened wasn't much dependant on the lava type. The ocean got into a (half-?) empty magma reservoir, and the result was possibly the biggest steam explosion that humanity has ever seen. (Unless Santorini was bigger).
True, if it's the highly fluid lava they get on Hawaii, the chances of the ocean finding its way into a large empy magma chamber are lessened.
Katla also isn't particularly explosive. Just high enough in toxic fluorides to poison cattle in Ireland, and acid enough to cause severe respiratory distress in London. It also upsets the climate, though not as badly as Tambora did. EjaFyallawhatever was a small forewarning of what's long overdue from Katla.
Don't tempt fate
Heard Island's remote location means any eruptions are unlikely to bother anyone
You hope (assuming that the island has not been the subject of the same sort of detailed study by vulcanologists that, say, mount Vesuvius has been)
Some volcanoes go with a very big bang. The fallout can have regional or even global consequences. Krakatoa. Katla. Tambora.
Re: Perhaps it's time for other hardware manufacturers to seek another O/S.
Android IS Linux under its skin.
As for why Google might ever do "Desktop Android for Business" ... certainly not to give the penguin a helping hand. It would be because they thought businesses were looking for something that could replace MS Windows and MS Office, and they thought that they could make a profit out of supplying it. Odds: 3:1?
IBM is the other giant with the means to take on the MS desktop stranglehold. Whether they have a motivation is quite another matter. They don't sell desktop hardware (having sold the Thinkpad business to Lenovo). However, if the business really is like an elephant, they won't have forgotten being shafted by Microsoft over OS/2, and revenge is a dish best eaten cold .... Odds: 12:1?
Re: MS Hardware
I never had much joy with MS keyboards. They felt "wrong", and that's before they started going glitchy after a couple of years (non-entries and double-entries). Low-end Logitech keyboards, on the other hand, are the best you can buy for little money. I actually prefer the cheap ones to some of their expensive ones that I've tried, and they seem to last very well.
I agree, MS mice are as good as Logitech ones, and both beat the rest hands-down. The choice mostly boils down to whether you like your mice fat (MS) or thin (Logitech).
Re: Perhaps it's time for other hardware manufacturers to seek another O/S.
What I was thinking. HP Linux? Pity HP is a shadow of its former self.
Or maybe Google will see its way clear to do Android Desktop for businesses?
So, then you have a radioactive tank containing a tank crew knowing they have less than a month left to live. My comment about ultimate suicide warriors stands, except they are also well-armed and well-protected. Of course, I'm assuming that the opposition would be smart enough to realize that you have to keep your heavy armour dispersed, rather than all gathered together in a small area.
I think even Ghadaffi knew that. The problem is now solved with laser-guided conventional bombs, rather than nukes. Dunno what they can do to counter that. Better camouflage? Advance planning, plant lots of small forests so there's always tree cover handy? Hey, that's a good idea - make being "green" a military imperative!
Re: Not new...
Maybe they took the opportunity to test EMPs as well.
What was well-reported was the use of carbon monofilament wires to short-circuit electricity transmission lines. That was extremely effective. it's amazing how much electricity a carbon-fibre wire can pass before it gets hot enough to turn into CO2. The resulting spikes and surges on the electricity grid may well have been mistaken for EMP activity.
I have no idea what WW3 will be fought with, but I'm sure WW4 will be fought with stones.
Re: CD eject?
I dunno. Did they say eject in one piece? You ever seen why they stopped making 72X CD drives and backed down to 56X ? I was once on the receiving end of a shower of sharp plastic shrapnel, and (not for the first time) was thankful that I wear spectacles.
Re: Not new...
I once read an account of how an electronics engineer fought back against the yob who moved in next door and subjected him to loud music 24 hours/day. He built an EMP generator and repeatedly took out the yob's audio system through the wall. Eventually the yob decided that the place was jinxed and moved out. I guess inverse squares makes it far easier to do that at a range of just a few feet.
If it was a hoax, it was a well-written one. It was, of course, posted anonymously, since it's illegal to do this.
A James Bond reference, surely?
Wouldn't have worked, either. Inverse squares. There would be a large perimeter within which the people would have suffered a large radiation dose and would know that they'd be dead within a month. For a few days, though, they'd be alive, active, angry. Knowing their inevitable fate they would become pretty much the ultimate suicide warriors.
I hope it was the inhumanity that was the reason these weapons weren't persued, rather than the above.
Re: Selective crowd control
Chain mail would be. A modern implementation thereof would use a lightweight metal rather than Iron (Aluminium or Titanium alloys). If one wasn't interested in protection from bladed weapons, knitwear made with fine copper wire would suffice (something any self-respecting anarchist's granny could knock up in a few hours).
Re: These People Are Nuts
Actually long-term stable climate is the norm, for most of the last few hundred million years.
The trouble is, it's a state that we don't want ever to see. No sea-level ice anywhere on the planet, and far too hot for large warm-blooded creatures like humans. The stability is created by cloud cover. It gets hotter, more water evaporates, more clouds form, more sunlight is reflected into space. Negative feedback (up to the point where the cloud cover reaches 100% and global warming soars to Venusian levels, which will happen in another few hundred million years because our Sun is getting older and hotter.)
Ice, on the other hand, creates instability: it's cold that creates more ice, which reflects more sunlight .... but it also traps methane, which causes rapid global warming should the ice ever melt .... We live in that least stable of global climates, an interglacial era between ice-ages. Once upon a time, just before multicellular life evolved, the global cooling ran away and the whole earth became a snowball. It's probably a good thing that the sun is now a bit older! Though the difficulty of surviving under a kilometer of ice might have been the trigger that got multicellular life started in the first place.
Re: But what happens if
It's actually quite possible that the interglacial period during which humankind developed civilisation wold naturally have come to an end a couple of hundred years ago, or a few thousand ... and it's us burning fossil fuels, or us burning forests for agriculture, that is the reason we're not fighting the next ice age. But if we over-do it, the ice goes away altogether, and that's also a bad thing.
We don't know what we're doing. We're trampling on an unstable natural system. The one thing we can be sure of is than an interglacial period is a global climate system NOT in long-term stable equilibrium. "Stable" is either an ice age, or an ice-free planet. One is too cold for humanity, and the other is too hot.
Re: Careful now!
You mean burning fossil fuels, clearing forests, genetically engineering crops *isn't* deliberate?
Re: Digital Research?
ISTR the rumour was that NT 3.5 was every bit as secure as VMS. This meant that the graphics performance was seriously limited, and that it would be almost impossible to put a Windows-98 style interface on top of it with the hardwarre of the day. Microsoft wanted to blow holes in its security to do so. Cutler said over his dead body. Microsoft overruled him and he resigned. Thus NT4 was created. Microsoft then blew more holes in it to make Windows 2000 and yet more to make XP. It wasn't until XP SP1 that they realized Cutler had probably been right. By then they'd made such a mess of the code base that they had to start again with what became Vista (and then 7).
Re: So the only option is...
There's more to this to come. If this is a genuine aggreieved customer, courses of future action include requesting credit-card charge-backs for failure to deliver the produce as advertised, or a small-claims court summons for breach of contract. Or just maybe, Amazon isn't quite the bad guy it's being painted.
Or the fourth option, just stick to chunks of mashed tree. Seriously, they're less portable, but a lot more readable. Especially techie ones where you want to flip through the pages fast.
Make a display
Line a deep-ish picture frame with velvet. Arrange all the RAM modules in aesthetic and/or chonological order and make labels for them. When you're happy with the result, glue them down and hang it on the wall.
Last time I made a display, it was of German hyper-inflation era stamps (none valuable) arranged by date on one axis and roughly by the log of their value on the other. Pfennigs (10^-2) to Milliarden (10^9) in two years. One glance and you know why the Germans really, really, really don't want to let the ECB print money for the Greeks.
I've got fifteen old stopwatches made in the 1950s that will be my next project when I have an idle Sunday. (No glue for them. Little velvet compartments. They still work! One goes in 20ths of a second, 10 seconds per 360 degrees. Possibly the first casualties of the digital revolution? )
I quite like the idea of doing a display frame of Motherboards, but I don't have a big enough frame or wall. Pretty things, though, and there are definite fashion trends to be noted as well as the evolving technology.
Lofts and Altruistic non-hoarding
I rescued a sack of 1920's physics teaching aids from a skip outside my University and took it home. Brass and Bakelite stuff. Initial intention was E-bay, but soon discovered it wasn't old enough to collect.
I have thrown the sack into the furthest recess of my loft, with a letter explaining what the junk is, and that if it isn't 2170 yet, just leave it lying there hurting nobody, and some day after that date it'll make a future owner of the house very happy.
(Do you know how much lab junk from the 1850s is worth these days? Oh, for a time machine! )
Radiator bleed key
You checked they were both exactly the same?
I'd have guessed one was for modern Metric radiators and the other was for old Imperial ones. Like the connectors and converters in your plumbing kit, for 3/4 inch to 22mm (to six inches of 22mm pipe and back to 3/4, because nobody ever thought to hoard 3/4 inch pipe).
No plumbing kit??
A pipe hoarder???
Believe it or not
Some of us are still maintaining systems running NT or 98. Even 3.11 and MS-DOS 6.22 sometimes.
The usual scenario is that someone buys a piece of lab kit for £100,000 that came with a £1000 computer. The lab kit is still fine and dandy, and the computer interface works as well as it ever did. Up to the day that the computer expires. Sometimes, it's embedded so well they didn't even realize there's an ancient PC inside. (Screwed to metal brackets with self-tapping screws!)
At this point the manufacturer quotes you £100,000 for a new instrument that's so much better than your old one (but £98,000 more than you can afford). Or, £5000 for a "new" antique computer and an engineer to install it (plus labour and travelling time). That's if the manufacturer is still in business.
Cue a call to the IT geek, who hoards old computers ... with good reason. And yes, he's also hoarded a copy of the disk with the software installed on it. So easy these days ... 40Mb disk? 10Mb disk? But try finding a replacement disk small enough to replace it with!
Re: I used to have a cable box like that...
An easier solution is a freezer-bag tie.
At work I cut short lengths of scrap Cat-5E cable and push out the copper innards. Voila, four wire tidies. (Eight if you're the sort that enjoys untwisting twisted pairs).
Never use cable ties. Quite apart from the un-green-ness of it, you'll look a right Charlie when you deliver a patch or VGA cable to someone and forgot to bring wire-cutters.
Re: It may be scrap, but it's got memories associated with it!
Have you asked the National Museum of Computing (at Bletchley park) if they want any of it? I'd have thought that the AJ832 might be the sole surviving specimen by now. I once had an acoustic coupler in a polished mahogony box, E-bayed it for twenty-some quid more than a decade ago. If it was a collectible then ....
Eventually our scrap will be worth a fortune ... to our great-great-grandchildren, if our grandchildren don't pile it in a skip when they get to sell the house that we don't need any longer.
My disk platter is at least 16 inches and hangs on my living-room wall. I've been asked "who is the artist"!
Agonizing over my TV
It's a 1985 25" Philips Vacuum-tube model that still works perfectly (connected by SCART to a PVR, since digital TV hadn't been invented when they made it).
I really ought to replace it with a modern flat screen except
1. 25" 4:3 aspect ratio fits in my living room perfectly. A flat-wide-screen that fitted would either give me a distorted picture, or a smaller one with black strips down the edges. (Movies excluded ... but I'm not a TV or movie junkie).
2. I have huge respect for a piece of hardware containing 25kV and complex analogue circuitry, that still works perfectly 27 years later, and I can't bear the thought of throwing it away for no good reason.
PS At work there's a 25 inch Iiyama vacuum-tube monitor that prpbably also still works perfecty, but that hasn't been thrown out for a different reason. It took four people to get it up the twisty narrow stairs, and it would take at least three to get it down again for disposal. Easier to just let it lie in the bottom of a cupboard that no-one ever uses, until they decide to demolish the building.
If you buy your PCs from a decent vendor in significant quantity (20+), you tell them what model of drive you want and they'll build them. Ditto motherboard, graphics card, anything else you want to plug in.
Oh ... the beancounters say it's got to be Dell. Find another employer.
If you want to control it, surely VLANs are your friend.
Registered devices connect to internal VLAN.
Unregistered devices connect to "external" VLAN, and are thereby treated the same way as the rest of the internet. If you have VPN etc. arrangements for working from home, exactly the same procedure will then work with the home computer brought into the office.
Did anyone who was blocked from accessing Firstdirect online, pick up the phone to do their business that way?
I'd be interested to know whether the telephone service was also DoS'ed ("experiencing high volume of calls, please try later") or whether Firstdirect was able to handle the increased telephone traffic with aplomb.
Good publicity for that movie
The more these idiots do this sort of thing, the more all the sane people in the world will start thinking that there must be a good reason to find and watch that movie.
Definition of a fanatic - someone who redoubles his efforts when he's forgotten his aims.
Re: This whole tale
A beancounter once decided to save 0.01 cents per unit by substituting a glue, on an order that said "Non-Parametrically specified, DO NOT SUBSTITUTE".
The units were disk drives. About 100K units had to be replaced under a manufacturer recall, because they would all have failed in service within a year. (Something outgassed from the glue settled on the platters and built up in lumps until it crashed the heads).
Re: Obligatory UPS anecdote...
I can't remember why they weren't set to shut themselevs down
Mine are set to shut the servers down when the battery power reserve is down to 30%, about 5 minutes later. Usually the mains is back on before then so the server stays up 24x7.
Except for the time the cleaner unplugged the UPS to plug in her vacuum (in a room she shouldn't even have been in), and then found the UPS "Off" button on the UPS within the five minutes, and even worked out she had to hold it in for five seconds, all because she didn't like the bleeping noise while she was hoovering.
Re: There's no excuse for IT to bypass UPS issues.
Add to that, there are 5 racks around the factory with UPS protecting them; 3 of these have flashing red lights indicating a fault. These have been showing the same fault since I have been here. I'm told that a request for replacement batteries was submitted and they are waiting for details of when this will happen.
I saw what happens if you leave a battery in a UPS for ~3 years after it first complains that the battery is failing.
First, the battery gradually swells. Initially past the size of the aperture through which you are supposed to replace it. Good built-in obsolescence, that. So they needed a new UPS not a new battery. Then it swells past the size of the welded steel compartment it rests in, with sufficient pressure to bend the steel. By the time they'd procured a whole new UPS the old one was immovably wedged in the rack. But you couldn't actually see why it was stuck, until finally, one night ...
Not on my ship. Someone sent me the pictures.
Re: Secure, Reliable, Cheap pick two
Can't we have a third option: nonreprogrammable and reliable, like the ones they made in the 1970s and 1980s? Nothing to be hacked, short of opening your chest cavity. Completely secure, but by being dumb not by being "secure", like the unbreakable firewall known as an air gap.
Sometimes less is more.
Data Protection Act!
The moment they accuse you of something, all data relating to what they accuse you of becomes personal data and they have to supply you with a copy of all the personal data they hold if you make a data-protection act request. It'll cost you a tenner, but it'll probably cost them a lot more.
If they refuse and say it's not personal data, they have either committed a criminal offense or they've irrevocably lost the right to use that data against you. Ditto if they miss out anything that they later try to use.
If they disclose anyone else's personal data then you report them for that to the data Protection Registrar (and the third party if you can identify him).
If they accuse you of something that's not true and cause any damaging action to be taken against you, such as disconnection, then demand damages. They have libelled you. Even if you just feel the need to write a letter to put the record straight, try invoicing them for the cost of writing it (at £250/hour as your own legal adviser) and small-claims summons them for non-payment of your invoice.
What have you got to lose? This isn't even civil disobedience. It's just requiring them to be civilly obedient!
Re: Inquiring minds...
You forgot this. At 2W it is working on 900Mhz. It is at 33,33cm. So the radio wave it self is too big to harm you, your cells and your DNA. It just does not happen. It is also non-ionizing radiation. So no harm there.
Your physics is wrong. The wavelength being bigger than your head doesn't mean it cannot interact. It just means you need to use different mathematics to properly model it. (Were you right, holding a nail and sticking it into the live hole in a plug would be harmless ... a mere 50 Hertz! )
It is absorbtion of EM radiation that makes your ear get hot, at least in part. And the calculation is that the nearest parts of your brain may be warmed by a small fraction of a degree celsius by the same radiation.
Harmless? Almost certainly. Your normal body temperature fluctuates daily by more than this amount, and it rises by much more and at a greater rate in response to a mild infection. Nevertheless, "no biologic effects" is provably untrue.
There's also a putative mechanism whereby HF radiation could cause Zeeman splitting of energy levels in free radicals causing more of them to escape destruction by the body's anti-oxidants at the site where they are generated. They could then be free to cause damage to less-well-protected tissue further afield. Experimental proof of the effect would be VERY hard to come by, the effect would be small, the epidemeology proves mobiles are mostly harmless, but the physics is impeccable.
Re: Inquiring minds...
Teeth and bone contain piezo-crystals. They change shape depending on electric field. (Also vice versa, which is why evolution made it happen. A stress concentration in a tooth or bone, such as an incipient crack, generates an electric field that probably signals to osteocytes that a local repair job is urgently needed, and precisely where).
Anyway, this makes radio detection by a filling in the upper jaw very plausible, and I believed that it had been reported at least once. If it's an urban legend, it's several cuts above the average.
Re: I think we all know the cause of his symptoms
There was a reported case of a man whose mercury-amalgam dental filling created a resonant cavity and piezo-crystal detector in one of his teeth. (Teeth and bones are natural piezo-crystals). He ended up talking to a psychiatrist about being able to hear a local radio station playing inside his head 24 hours/day. When he said "if you put your ear on my jaw you'll hear it too" the psychiatrist did ... and did!
A visit to a dentist fixed his problem.
Never say flat-out impossible. You'll probably be wrong. (My head says a FTL star-drive is a rare exception, my heart still hopes otherwise).
Re: In princinple, what is the difference.....
And Voice of America, so I'm told, was once transmitting 10MW of short-wave AM aimed at the USSR.
Let's see. Inverse squares ... one mobile on max = 2W at 2cm = 10MW at a shade over 400m.
Re: Think of the Children!
Of course these days almost everyone has a TV, and it sometimes seems that the lower the household income, the bigger the TV will be...
Leading to another self-perpetuating bureaucracy that ought to be hit on the head.
Scrap the TV license. Reduce the income tax personal allowance by sufficient to generate the same income. People too poor to pay income tax get to watch TV for free without having to break the law. There is no collection cost. There might be a few esoteric religions that feel offended.
OK, put an "I do not watch TV" box on the income tax form, to claim back your allowance. Telling lies to HMRC is a really bad idea, especially since they now have a much shorter list of people claiming not to have TVs, and the ability to collect the fine when they catch you through your next year's PAYE.
Next for the chop, NHS prescription charges: a tax on the chronically ill to subsidize the acutely ill, that probably costs more to administer than it actually raises. You couldn't make it up ....
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