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* Posts by Nigel 11

2430 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

Seagate: We'll bring down HAMR in 2014 ... this year, you get shingles

Nigel 11
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Boffin

Re: I would like

For warrantied quality, buy enterprise-grade drives. They do cost about twice as much as bog-standard desktop ones, though. Personally I'd much prefer two drives mirrored - one made by WD and the other by Seagate, so as to minimize the chance of both coming from the same defective batch. But that's not an option in a laptop.

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Nigel 11
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Meh

You must have bought a bad batch. It happens.

Other folks aren't having the same problem. It would be the number one story in the tech press if they were.

Did you buy all your drives in one batch? (Or all the PCs containing the drives in one batch? ) If so, the likely explanation is that all the drives are the same production batch, which contained a defective component. If PCs were cars, there would have been a recall.

Talk hard with the supplier. You need all the non-failed drives in the batch replaced a.s.a.p. and it should not be at your expense. (Although you're probably better biting that bullet anyway, if the drives are out of warranty and the PC vendor has gone out of business).

At my workplace we buy a couple of hundred PCs every year, and the reliability we've seen hasn't changed noticeably over the last five years.

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Nigel 11
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Re: SMR has its uses

Yes, SMR plus a big flash cache managed by the drive firmware sounds very plausible. I can't help observing that Seagate is the company that springs to mind in connection with flash-cache drives.

Also yes, one will need to be very careful that if one is doing server-style things with desktop rather than enterprise drives, one doesn't accidentally buy an SMR drive. (I have visions of someone replacing a 2Tb drive in a RAID-5 array with a newer one that uses SMR. Ooops! ).

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BT copper-cable choppers cop 16 months in the cooler

Nigel 11
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FAIL

Pour encourager les autres

That's more than you'd get for rape or manslaughter.

And arguably it should be. With those crimes there is one victim, seriously affected. With cable theft there are hundreds, thousands, even millions of victims.

At present they are getting away with it. In wartime it would be called "sabotage" and would be seen as a capital crime, punished much the same as treason. An appointment with the hangman would be quite likely.

Personally I'd say work out the economic damage caused by crimes that wilfully damage infrastructures, and sentence them to what they'd get for stealing the same amount of money from a bank's safe. What would yet get for breaking into a safe and emptying it of a million quid? Five to ten years sounds about right.

And the best thing is that with this sort of crime, one heavy sentence would convince just about all criminals to go back to the sort of theft where there is only one victim, where the gain to the criminal is not a tiny fraction of the cost to society.

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Bring out your dead: Reg readers reveal filthy, filthy PCs...

Nigel 11
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Suck not blow

Most of the fluff and dust in a PC is doing no harm. The exception is the fluff that gets blown down between the heatsink fins, which makes it run hotter and ultimately throttles its performance.

It got blown in so you have to suck it out. Make sure that you immobilize the fan blade with a finger, otherwise the reverse airstream from the hoover may rev your heatsink fan to destruction.

The usual hoover crevice tool is too large. I use a length of PCV oval electrical duct pushed into the crevice tool, that's narrow enough to get down between the fan blades.

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Nigel 11
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Re: Those aren't that bad

I found a dead mouse once. A mammal. Inside a PC. Poor little beastie had inserted its head between an Opteron's cooling fan and the heatsink. I really hope that this broke the beastie's neck, because otherwise its death was horrible in the extreme.

I then spent ages studying the case trying to convince myself that it had any hole that a mouse could squeeze through. I couldn't. But it must have managed it somehow.

Another time I took the side off a PC and bits of dust started hopping around ... the cat had had a flea problem.

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Quantum crypto still not proven, claim Cambridge experts

Nigel 11
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Boffin

Re: SciFi Toasts BRAIN

I don't know the details of AES etc, but it's a much greater class of problems than just asymmetric crypto-breaking that could in theory be tackled by a quantum computer.

Basically, N qubits can represent all numbers from 0 to 2^N-1 at once!. You then perform a series of operations on those qubits that if performed on a single number, would tell you (yes or no) that it was a member of the set of solutions smaller than 2^N-1 of your problem. For asymmetric cryptography, that search is for one of two large prime factors. You then observe your system in the quantum sense. It must collapse into one of the possible solutions of your problem - one of the two prime factors, which is all you need to break a code. For other problems there might be a known or unknown number of solutions larger than two, but provided the number of solutions is smallish, repeated runs of your quantum computer would statistically guarantee you'd find all of them ... even if knowing just one isn't all you need to get the rest conventionally.

As the number N of coupled qubits becomes large, quantum computing becomes exponentially closer to magic. That, or we discover a reason why it stops working when N is bigger than some new-physics-determined number.

The observable universe contains something of the order of (only!) 2^84 hadrons. This is why I find it inconcievable that a quantum computer could work with N qubits in the hundreds or thousands, let alone all the way up to millions, trillions and beyond. (Avogadro's number is ~10^26! )

Greg Egan writes the hardest of hard SF. For one possible implication of a working quantum computer for large N, read "Luminous"!

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Nigel 11
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Boffin

Quantum computing and Physics

I've long been telling people that I expect the on-going failure to construct a significant quantum computer (hundreds of qubits) will be a gateway to new physics. There's some reason, that we don't yet have an inkling of, why it can't be done. In cosmology, there are similar thoughts surrounding rapidly rotating black holes, naked and ring singularities, and time travel ... but (perhaps fortunately) experimental cosmology is a long way off.

The alternative is that the universe is even wierder than I'm currently prepared to contemplate. Also, mundanely, that all cryprography is toast!

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Sick software nasty uses child abuse pics to extort infected victims

Nigel 11
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Re: What about UK?

Would you be automatically guilty of crimes?

Probably, if you didn't immediately reach for the factory-restore disk .

Anyway, could you sensibly do anything else? God knows what else these sick bastards might have infected your computer with!

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Microsoft: Old Internet Explorer is terrible and 'we want to help'

Nigel 11
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the logic that's really required?

If ( browser in standard_compliant_browsers ) then

do standard_compliant_stuff

else

display get_your_standard_compliant_browser_for_free_from_here

fi

Of course if your business isnvolves selling stuff to morons, that's probably not good enough!

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How to destroy a brand-new Samsung laptop: Boot Linux on it

Nigel 11
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@RAMChYLD Re: NO problems with old Samsungs

Well, we're still using ~60 Samsung 1600x1200 monitors bought about six years ago and format-wise preferable to the 1920x1080 ones you get today. (They also pivot for 1200x1600 if you like that).

None failed in warranty. Two have failed since. I blame London Electricity for frying their power supplies.

Don't generalise from a small sample, or from a single product. All manufacturers occasionally ship lemons. The real test is how much hassle the warranty service puts you through. I don't have mucjh experience with Samsung because their products don't seem to fail during warranty. (And they stay reliable after). IIyama are very good. Acer and Dell were once so bad that we stopped buying from them.

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Commentards Ahoy! How about a Petabyte of storage?

Nigel 11
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Boffin

Re: 1TB? no problem!

Something wrong with that heat calculation.

1Pb = 360 (say) 3Tb drives. Power consumption of WD 3Tb "Red" active read/write = 4.4W. http://www.storagereview.com/western_digital_red_nas_hard_drive_review_wd30efrx . 360 x 4.4 = 1584W. You can run that off a single 13A domestic outlet, even allowing for PSU inefficiency and all the cooling fans.

You WILL have to make sure your domestic Petabyte server does a phased disk spin-up, because the power demand of a disk drive while it's spinning up is usually about 20W for about ten seconds. 360 x 20W is 7.2kW, about the same as a somewhat weak electric shower unit, so you'd just have to spread the load over two domestic circuits and four 13A plugs if you weren't sure it would never spin up all the drives at once.

BTW those WD Red drives are extraordinarily quiet, so you wouldn't need ear-plugs provided you could find some enclosures that used big 12cm fans, rather than huge numbers of 6cm fans.

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WORLD temporarily FREED from BURDEN of TWITTER!

Nigel 11
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IT Angle

Why ...

Why are people who Twitter not called Twits?

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Support for RHEL 3 ends one year from … now!

Nigel 11
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Meh

Idiots who pay for RHEL

I've always assumed the idiots want a multi-billion dollar company to sue, when they can prove that it was a known long-standing fault in the operating system that wrecked their business.

Yes, there are at least two huge holes in that argument, but the suits can't see them. And we should be thankful for these idiots, because they keep Red Hat in business.

If you don't want to pay, check out Centos or Scientific Linux. Or if you like bleeding edge, use Fedora, and help make RHEL8 better than RHEL7 by doing so. Yes I know, RHEL 7 isn't out quite yet.

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You thought watching cat videos was harmless fun? Think AGAIN

Nigel 11
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Unhappy

Re: And yet ...

Because rats beed as fast as rabbits. And rats hide down holes too small for cats. And rats are astonishingly intelligent for smallish rodents. (Some of the rat stories I've heard, there must be significant intelligence overlap with humans. There again, some of the dumb human stories I've heard ...)

Cats do catch rats, but they have to hunt carefully because a rat can seriously injure a cat. So the cat has to be hungry to bother, and the rat species isn't in any danger.

If you want a lot of rats killed quickly, get someone in with ferrets and/or terriers. But a week later, you'll still have rats. Smarter rats.

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Nigel 11
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Linux

Re: "Domestic cats"

Out of interest are IT people more cat or dog inclined?

Don't know, but cats definitely have hacker personalities. (Dogs are like suits).

Remember the man who was prosecuted for animal cruelty because his cat was riding on the passenger seat of his motorbike (with its claws firmly dug in)? He was able to demonstrate it was that cat's choice to be there. Indeed, the cat was extremely reluctant to be left behind and came running at the sound of the bike being started. A biker cat.

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Hard Glass Spinner Technology: HGST's new 2.5-incher

Nigel 11
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Boffin

Re: Full height drives

Why not go to a 10lb bag and go back to full height drives

Because a disk drive is an example of something that works better miniaturized. The smaller the platter, the faster it can spin without disintegrating or distorting. The smaller the arm carrying the head, the less it flexes and vibrates, so the faster the settling time after a seek. Both mean that a 2.5 inch datacentre disk has intrinsically lower latency than a 3.5 inch one.

It's like how a flea can accelerate itself at 300G, whereas it takes a lot less to make a human go squishy.

Also you don't need so much energy to move smaller head assemblies, so the drive generates less vibration to upset its neighbouring drives. With tens or hundreds packed close together, this is yet another advantage. I've heard tell of homebrew servers with four desktiop drives bolted into a single metal cage, that degraded quite atrociously under heavy loads. Those rubber drive-mount grommets in the better full-tower cases are definitely not just for show. They provide vibration isolation between drives.

Vibration is also the reason why a big stack of many tens of platters in a full-height enclosure wouldn't work well, if at all.

I wonder how long before we see the 1.8 inch datacentre drive? The one disadvantage of a smaller drive is smaller capacity, but 1Tb is more than enough in many applications.

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Nigel 11
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Boffin

Re: Glass platter

Does nobody else remember Pilkington's corporate-image advert with the glass hammer being used on a nail? And even more strikingly at the end, the glass claw of the hammer being used to lever out the bent nail?

My candidate for best corporate-image ad ever. Sadly, it couldn't save Pilkington from the French.

Glass, even the everyday sort, is very strong but brittle, meaning if a crack gets started it will spread catastrophically. A disk platter is of necessity perfectly polished, and installed in a very benign environment where there's nothing to scratch it (which is how cracks get started), meaning glass is an ideal substrate. In passing, it's metals that crack up after repeated flexing. Glasses don't. Flexing glass either breaks it first time, or not at all (provided it's perfectly micro-crack-free to start with and there's nothing to scratch it in service).

Tempered glass isn't deliberately weakened. It's cooled in a way that builds in a compressive stress to its surface (strengthened) at the cost of tension in its core (a disintegration waiting to happen). A tiny scratch or crack in the compressed zone won't spread in response to everyday flexing or temperature changes. But if a crack is ever driven through that zone into the core, the object instantly tears itself into small (and desirably un-sharp) pieces.

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Microsoft blasts PC makers: It's YOUR fault Windows 8 crash landed

Nigel 11
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HP

Everything they do, be it hardware or software, is absolute sh*t.

Except printers. Which is probably the last hold-out of the old pre-Compaq HP, but for how much longer?

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Nigel 11
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Re: Windows 8 FAIL

"a fair portion of the existing market for office migrated to libreoffice or openoffice"

Not the paying market.

Give them time.

A thing Microsoft doesn't (or won't) understand about many corporate customers is their desire for stability, upward conpatibility, and a quiet unexciting life on the IT front.

These customers are likely still be running Office 2007 (some, 2003), often on XP. Upgrading may well mean paying to have all secretarial and non-technical staff sent on an Office 2010 course, on top of the hardware, licensing and IT staff costs.

And if that's going to happen every 3-4 years (2003 - 2007 - 2010 - ??) maybe 2003 or 2007 - Openoffice starts to look attractive?

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Western Digital leaps out of a plane, forgets to pull the 'chute

Nigel 11
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Re: That chart on profits

I can't convince myself there's any trend to be seen. A better breakdown might help.

How does it break down for smallest-size disks (<500Gb these days moving to 1Tb soon) versus the big ones? How would it look for server-grade versus desktop-grade?

My guess is that sales of smallest desktop-grade disks are in terminal decline, because of the advance of solid-state storage (and probably, the PC market changing from an expanding one to a saturated one). Smallest desktop drives were doubtless the volume product, though also almost certainly the least profitable.

Server-grade should be less affected, and multi-Tb drives should be safe for the forseeable future. Question for these, is just how many Tb does the world want to store?

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Samsung set for compensation talks over staff death claims

Nigel 11
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Re: Were the 'new town clusters' similarly caused?

Clusters have also been found in small rural communities. AFAIR the first was spotted near Windscale, but a nationwide study found lots of clusters with no detectable correlation to nearby nuclear industry.

My personal guess would be that it's a legacy of historical in-breeding. The upper classes were rather keen on marrying their cousins, to keep their wealth all in the family. In villages, especially remoter ones, before modern transportation, the gene pool was naturally restricted.

Or it might be an infectious disease with negligible symptoms: one or more viruses as yet unknown, that trigger leukaemia in some individuals or circumstances.

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Nigel 11
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IT Angle

Ultra-pure water??

Please tell us more.

BTW pure heavy water (D2O) tastes oily.

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Red supergiant Betelgeuse heads for SMACKDOWN with 'dust bar'

Nigel 11
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Re: Betelgeuse.

If one had a life-span measured in billions of years, one's next thought might be "Whew! That really was a bit close for comfort!"

ISTR a supernova within 100 Ly presents a serious hazard to our biosphere. Some of the mass extinction events in Earth's history might have been so caused.

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Nigel 11
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Re: What has this got to do with a Supernova?

Probably not connected.

OTOH a supernova happens when the star can no longer generate enough radiation pressure to balance the inwards pull due to gravity. Any additional mass might do that if the star is close enough to its tipping point.

For a REALLY spectacular tipping-point event, find out about hypernovae (pair-production catastrophes).

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Intel to leave desktop motherboard market

Nigel 11
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Go

Opportunity for AMD?

It occurs to me that this might be an opportunity for AMD. Establish AMD motherboards as the ones you choose when you put stability and reliability and good documentation ahead of loads of fancy features. Maybe hire some ex-Intel motherboard people to make it happen. Above all, make sure there's good support for non-MS secure boot. Ship all such boards with all widely-used keys pre-loaded, and a bios menu to "enable [xxx] secure boot key", "disable MS-Windows secure boot key", etc.

I'd switch from Intel boards to AMD in a jiffy, if this happened. Even if AMD never again manage to compete in the CPU performance stakes. How much CPU do most business users need, in any case?

I'm probably dreaming.

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Nigel 11
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Re: Intel are struggling

Was Rolls-Royce struggling when it withdrew from manufacturing automobiles? (Rolls Royce aero engines, that is: they still license their name to a car company for historical reasons).

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Nigel 11
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Devil

Re: Oh dear..

duplicate motherboard GUIDs

Hah! I raise you duplicate MAC addresses. Until you've experienced it you can have no idea how much "fun" two PCs on the same network with the same MAC address can cause!

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Nigel 11
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Re: Oxymoron?

Not such a silly analogy, nor such a silly business plan. Witness Rolls-Royce. They make engines for aircraft. (They also license their name to a car manufacturer, because for historical reasons the brand has value). Or witness IBM getting out of HDD manufacture. Or ARM never getting into chip manufacturing in the first place.

Intel are primarily a silicon chip designer and manufacturer. Much as I wish they weren't getting out of motherboards, I can understand the reasons why they might be doing so.

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Nigel 11
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Business?

The conventional PC (in broad terms - regardless of OS) will be around for a very considerable amount of time in businesses. It costs too much to change platform. If doing so causes serious disruption to business function, it can be fatal to the business!

As I've pointed out many a time, any job function which requires user input in significant quantities requires a keyboard and a mouse. Until tablet manufacturers work this out, they'll make no inroads in such areas. Pure tablets are data-consumption devices. They may have business applications, but only ones where very little data is being fed in.

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Nigel 11
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And Asus is probably "best of the rest"!

However, you do well to avoid the most feature-packed of the Asus boards. Go for one that has only the features you actively want. It'll save you money, and it may well be more reliable. That's because it'll be the same or similar to the ones that they are supplying to large PC manufacturers, rather than one that sells in low volume to "enthusiastic" end-users. Less likelyhood of BIOS or hardware screw-ups, and more chance that BIOS warts will get fixed if a major customer demands such a fix. Avoid the very cheapest, though. The cheapest is likely built down to it's price.

Viglen, who we buy our Intel-board-based systems from, use boards made by Asus (to Viglen spec? ) for their lowest-priced systems. Will have to ask what their future plans are!

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Nigel 11
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Linux

Re: Intel Desktop Mobos

A great shame. They were rock-solid reliable. Even more important, you were absolutely certain that if you ordered another one a year or two later, the hardware on it would be exactly the same as the first one you ordered. (You'd have thought that was universal, but it isn't. Some manufacturers stick a small v1 v2 ... suffix on the part-number, which many suppliers drop. Some PC vendors feel that they have carte blanche to supply any hardware they feel like, whatever the stickered "model number" says!

Intel were also the most linux-friendly motherboard manufacturers that I know of.

Sigh. Maybe they know that there's a shit-storm of epic proportions on the way, because of secure boot and (non-)support for non-Microsoft keys, and they don't want to be making motherboards at all when it arrives so they don't suffer accusations of guilt by association?

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Engineers are cold and dead inside, research shows

Nigel 11
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FAIL

Re: Doctors caring & empathetic?

Screw up a bloodwork culture and/or misdiagnose something serious, and you can start (fail to prevent?) an epidemic which wipes out the human race / kick-starts the zombie apocalypse. Car mechanics don't build nuclear weapons, so they are far less capable of that scale of destruction.

No, you still laven't thought this through, even at the extreme. Suppose those screwed-up brakes are on a vehicle carrying the zombie plague blood samples to the path lab? In any case, it's not usually a doctor doing the path lab work that can distinguish the merely individually lethal cases from the imminent global pandemic cases. Certainly it won't be a surgeon.

As others have pointed out, cool and detached may be necessary for a surgeon because (a) he can't afford to get emotional while things are going badly for the patient and (b) sooner or later he will make a mistake that causes a death, and if he's too empathetic that's the end of his career. Highly empathetic doctors will go into other branches of medicine. General practice for example, or geriatric care, or psychiatry.

in fact thinking about it, a surgeon is very close to an engineer working on a human body. He needs to be a self-motivated perfectionist. He dosen't need to be empathetic, in fact it may be a handicap if he is.

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Nigel 11
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Alert

Re: Engineers often simply lack understanding of emotional situations

comparable in empathy to either cockroaches or starving wolves

An apology to wolves, please! They are extremely empathetic creatures, and not only to members of their own species.

A remarkable documentary I once watched showed what happened when scientists flew into the remotest wilds of Northern Canada to study wolves that had never before encountered human beings. What happened in one season was remarkable. The Wolves were neither hostile nor frightened. They were curious. Within a few months they had co-opted the scientists into their pack, and the alpha female was leaving her cubs for the humans to watch over.

A wolf, and man's best friend the dog, are the same species. It's very obvious how that got started. I'm afraid that it's my own species that too often comes up short on the intrinsic empathy score-sheet.

By the way, many large cities in both Europe and the USA now have urban wolves as well as urban foxes. AFAIK children eaten by urban wolves to date, zero. (Ditto urban mountain lions, which are potentially even more of a nightmare!).

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Nigel 11
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IT Angle

Why?

Kind of alarming, when you think about the fact that the mental attributes that you are born with are likely to decide the general course of your entire life.

Why alarming?

Most people, I suspect, "go with the flow" and do something that takes advantage of whatever natural abilities they discover they posess. Innate ability AND determination, that's a path to the top.

A few will choose to do it the hard way and succeed by sheer determination. Fine if that's a free choice. A recipe for terrible unhappiness for all concerned if the path is imposed by others (typically parents).

It's another facet of the old nature / nurture debate.

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Nigel 11
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Linux

I'll bet engineers are a lot more empathetic than what I'd call the uncaring professions. Lawyers, bankers, politicians ... the usual suspects. You don't have to be a psychopathic narcissist to be in that crowd, but it surely helps.

Engineers and programmers are far more commonly INT[JP]personality types than mere chance would suggest. Whether or not you feel that classifying personalities into sixteen groups has any more merit than IQ testing, the correlation is quite striking. These are quite rare personality types. (The rarest? I'm not sure).

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TSA to pull backscatter perv scanners from US airports

Nigel 11
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Happy

Re: For frequent flyers it

All frequent flyers should note that the (cosmic and solar) radiation dose from hours at 40,000ft considerably exceeds the radiation dose from a scanner. So those who are paranoid about radiation shouldn't fly frequently, if at all. BTW airlines avoid flying too close to the Earth's magnetic poles, not because it screws up compass navigation (which they don't routinely use these days), but because the radiation levels are far higher there than elsewhere during a solar storm.

The fact that aircrew don't have notably higher levels of illnesses that can be induced by radiation leads me to the conclusion that there is no significant risk to any passenger, even a frequent flyer.

There's also some research that suggests that low ionising radiation doses may be *better* for one's health than *very* low doses. Our immune systems may be evolved to deal with radiation up to the upper reaches of naturally-occurring levels (for example life above a naturally radioactive granite bedrock). It's hard to actually prove, since the statistical signals are very weak.

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Intel: Everything is absolutely fab-u-lous, particularly in servers

Nigel 11
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Re: Ostrich Corp

IF it's still the Intel of old, I expect that they have a plan B. Remember when it looked as if AMD had stolen the server market from Intel? The Opteron outperformed the Xeon at virtually all levels, and on top of all that AMD invented the 64-bit X86-compatible CPUs.

But Intel came out on top, because they'd never actually stopped developing the Pentium-3 architecture. They'd just mostly stopped selling it. And when the P4 architecture disappointed, plan B came to the front.

Plan B today might be "if you can't beat them join them". Pay license fees to ARM for the CPU design, but use their fab technology to make the fastest lowest-wattage ARM cpus in the marketplace.

Only the paranoid survive ... but also every corporation that reaches the top has no-where to go but down, and usually doesn't know how to descend slowly and gracefully.

INTC stock is remarkably cheap. The bankers are writing them off ....

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Swartz prosecutor: We only pushed for 'six months' in the cooler

Nigel 11
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Mushroom

Lesson for UK to learn: scrap extradition treaty with USA

What happened in this case is almost certainly what would also have happened to gary McKinnon, had our home secretary not suffered a last-minute attack of commonsense.

the US "justice" system is designed so that prosecutors can and do put innocent people in jail for several years, because the alternative is something like risking incarceration for life with no prospect of ever being released. We should not extradite anyone to the USA, until a UK court is satisfied:

That there is prima facie evidence of a crime and of the accused person's guilt

That the correct jurisdiction to try the case is the USA not the UK

That the alleged "crime" is criminal under "natural justice" or UK law, as well as US law

And IMO, that the accused person is not and will not be threatened with any punishment that is in the opinion of a UK court, grossly excessive. Because that's how they persuade innocent men to plead guilty, or to kill themselves.

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Security audit finds dev OUTSOURCED his JOB to China to goof off at work

Nigel 11
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Lesson to be learned?

Perhaps the lesson to be learned is that outsourcing can work well, IF AND ONLY IF the project manager is a darned good programmer in his own right.

If he is, then it's quicker to do the desining and quality control oneself, and hive off the actual coding to sub-contractors on Chinese wages. They can't get bad code past him, and will soon know not to try. If they aren't up to scratch, they don't get any future work.

The usual outsourcing disaster starts with managers who make up for in arrogance what they lack in ability. The subcontractors soon work out that they can leave the coding to their weaker colleagues, improve their margins by skimping on the debugging, and so on. (Much the same thing if the coders are still in-house, of course). Also, since the manager can't code, the designing and specifying is also likely to be insane.

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The Spherical Cow lands, spits out Anaconda

Nigel 11
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Devil

Re: Debian user here...

Hmmm.

Spherical Horse: a contaminated version of Spherical Cow. Someone starts with cow, adds the non-free repositories, and re-ships with a default install set including copyright-encumbered codecs and suchlike. Lawyers wouldn't sue someone with no money ... would they?

Spherical Beetle: like the above, but also feeds everything you search for to Amazon, so you can be bombarded with appropriately targeted adverts. (Beetle ... bug ... )

Spherical Rat: the sometimes-rumoured Microsoft Linux.

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Nigel 11
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Meh

Re: GNOME 3

So don't use it. the time for shouting and screaming because they took away the familar Gnome 2 interface is gone. You can now have Mate (Gnome-2 derived, but moving to Gnome 3 libraries underneath), or Cinnamon (layered on Gnome-3 in the first place). Both are now stable enough to use. Both are close enough to desktops as we know them that no-one should be too unhappy.

You can also choose Scientific Linux or Centos 6.x which still use good old Gnome 2 and offer at least five years' future support thereof.

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Nigel 11
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Linux

Don't forget Centos and Scientific Linux

To complete the distro-ology of the free Red-Hat flavour, you have to include Centos and Scientific Linux. These are both very close to the corresponding non-free RHEL version. Of the two, Centos tries very hard to be *exactly* the same as RHEL. Scientific Linux has a different kernel, but the differences are slight. Basically, if CERN needs it to do something that Red Hat don't support, then CERN patch their kernel.

As far as ordinary users are concerned, these are both almost identical to RHEL, and the most conservative option you can find. Rock-solid-stable, and still running Gnome-2. The latter is no bad thing, although I've made friends with Fedora + Cinnamon of late. I feel you can be more sure that SL will continue into the future than Centos, because CERN needs SL to stay working.

RHEL 7 is coming soon (months). It will be intersting to see whether CentOS ans/or SL are able to release their 7.0 within 2-3 months, or whether there will be more collateral damage as a result of Red Hat having to protect their commercial interests against Oracle.

BTW, for whoever was berating Fedora for not shipping with non-free software: Fedora is closely linked to Red Hat and therefore has to be VERY cautious when it comes to possible copyright infringement and lawsuits. There are repositories of all the non-free stuff that work well. You have to add them yourself, because Red Hat can't afford the risk even of shipping with them in place.

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Nigel 11
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Re: MATE is the future...for me anyway!

Give Cinnamon a whirl before you make up your mind. And remember to check again in six months or so, because both Mate and Cinnamon are moving fast. A few months back when I tried Cinnamon it crashed far too often to be usable. Now it seems quite stable. Nice once again to have a choice of desk-tops that behave like desk-tops!

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Intel bets the farm on touch-enabled 'convertible and detachable' Ultrabooks

Nigel 11
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WTF?

Re: Have you ever tried 'alternative' keyboards?

Even human beings have trouble with voice recognition! (Try going somewhere where people speak your language with a different accent. I'm totally baffled by Glaswegian and find Brummies hard going. Others have told me they can't understand folks in Devon, though I have no trouble with that one. That's just in the UK. Regional variation within Italy, say, or even that tiny country the Nederlands are much greater. Or so I'm told ... I'm no linguist.

Can you imagine what an office full of people talking to their PCs would be like? A call centre? Except if they were programmers trying to talk code. yum install es cee i pie meta delete pee i dash seven point two doubledash meta delete-two-char SPACE doubledash enablerepo a pill FUCKIT meta delete-three-words ee pee ee ell ENTER AAARGH <throws PC out of fifth story window>

Anyway, a good touch typist can type faster than most folks talk. If speed really is of the essence, there are chording keyboards that are much faster than QWERTY ones, although the learning curve is much steeper and not many people bother. After all how fast can a human think what to type or say? A pianist will tell you that the first stage is training one's fingers to play the notes, and only after that can you start to think about the actual music.

Keyboards are here to stay, at least until a direct interface to our nervous system becomes possible (if ever).

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Nigel 11
Silver badge
WTF?

Re: Have you ever tried 'alternative' keyboards?

Even human beings have trouble with voice recognition! (Try going somewhere where people speak your language with a different accent. I'm totally baffled by Glaswegian and find Brummies hard going. Others have told me they can't understand folks in Devon, though I have no trouble with that one. That's just in the UK. Regional variation within Italy, say, or even that tiny country the Nederlands are much greater. Or so I'm told ... I'm no linguist.

Can you imagine what an office full of people talking to their PCs would be like? (A call centre? Except if they were programmers trying to talk code. yum install es cee i pie meta delete pee i dash seven point two doubledash meta delete SPACE doubledash enablerepo a pill FUCKIT meta delete-three-words ee pee ee ell ENTER AAARGH <throws PC out of fifth story window> ) (and that example didn't even involve any of the well-known Intercal splats and rabbit-ears).

Anyway, a good touch typist can type faster than most folks talk. If speed really is of the essence, there are chording keyboards that are much faster than QWERTY ones, although the learning curve is much steeper and not many people bother. Also how fast can a human think? A pianist will tell you that the first stage is training one's fingers to play the right notes, and only after that can you start to think about the actual music.

Keyboards are here to stay, at least until a direct interface to our nervous system becomes possible (if ever).

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5.6TB helium disks could balloon, lift WD onto enterprise throne

Nigel 11
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Re: you need an "air bearing"

I think one party balloon is about twenty HDA-fulls, so not nearly such a waste!

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Nigel 11
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Re: Perhaps a Full Vacuum is the best Hard Drive environment then? (Patent Pending)

There's no way you could maintain a precisely defined tiny gap between the head on the end of a two-inch arm and the spinning disk in a vacuum. The head quite literally flies. It's the dynamics if the gas between the head and the disk that keeps it at the constanrt correct distance.

BTW what about Methane? It's about two-thirds the molecular weight of air (CH4 = 20, O2 = 32, N2 = 28), it's not prone to leaking through nano-pores like Helium is, it's not prone to reacting with metals like Hydrogen is, and although it's flammable it's hard to see how an HDA-full of methane could cause any sort of serious problem. Lighting a gas cooker burner probably lets more than an HDA-full out into the air and then deliberately sparks it.

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Ten affordable mid-sized Full HD monitors

Nigel 11
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Re: Once you've had 27 inches you never go back...

More like an extra £300! The question in my mind is whether I'd prefer one 2560x1440, or two 1920x1080 plus ~£120 still in my pocket. (There's also the miser's option, one new 1920x1080 for £150 and keep the old monitor as a secondary display).

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Nigel 11
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Alert

Upgrade??

These monitors have been affordable for a couple of years now ... serious screen-users probably have a pair of them by now. State-of-the-art is 2560x1600, but they don't come cheap! (Personally I really wish you could still get affordable 1920x1200, the extra vertical pixels make a lot of difference ... but I understand why PC monitors have converged on HDTV format. They probably sell ten HDTVs for every high-res monitor. )

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