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* Posts by Peter Simpson 1

949 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

Ford to dump Microsoft's 'aggravating' in-car tech for ... BlackBerry?

Peter Simpson 1
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Re: QNX is Blackberry by name only

Two reasons I don't design Microsoft into the user interfaces for our embedded devices:

1. Cost - licensing, limited hardware platform options (Intel embedded stuff is much more expensive than, say, i.MX or ARM. We're actually using RasPi with Linux on our latest UI)

2. Future - I can't be sure how long the software platform will be around

Our software guy loves the features of .NET, but there's so much "business baggage" that comes along with using MS in an embedded environment, I'm just as happy to do without the hassle.

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Peter Simpson 1
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Joke

Re: Maybe a QNX based system

It's been a long tradition here in the US of A, that vehicles should have a clock on the dashboard (an extra-cost option, of course), but that under no circumstances should that clock actually *work*.

Perhaps, somewhere, there is a US-made car with a working [analog mechanical] clock, but I've never seen one.

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Peter Simpson 1
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I can think of very few places where a touch screen interface is less suitable than in a car, particularly if it's supposed to be operated by the driver

The only thing worse than a touchscreen is a turn and push interface, as on the BMW iDrive system. My son had one of these, and if you think using a touchscreen while trying to drive is tough, try twisting a knob left and right to move a cursor to the item you want to select, then pushing down to activate it...while trying to drive. It controlled *everything*...radio, heat/cool, nav system. Whoever designed it obviously drove only on unpopulated, glass-smooth highways, because it was impossible to use otherwise.

"Infotainment" systems...they'd be banned if they were on a smartphone, but somehow, they're just fine if they're integrated into the vehicle.

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Battle of Bletchley Park: TNMOC chief calls for review of museums' Mexican standoff

Peter Simpson 1
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Unhappy

Re: Grow up

Yup. "Can't we all just get along?" The two museums would seem to this techie to have much in common, one being the historical antecedant of the other. Combining the two museums would seem the natural thing to do. I'm not clear on the justification for keeping them separated.

Perhaps the advice (and perhaps leadership) of someone who has experience successfully running a historical technical museum is needed? The Computer History Museum in California and the NSA Museum in Maryland are great examples of what Bletchley could be.

I have visited Bletchley and it would be a terrible shame to have it turned into a Disneyland cartoon version of what I saw. History should be presented as it was, warts and all. Save the Disney experience for something less important. Clearly, Bletchley and computing are never going to be on Joe Sixpack's "must see" list, no matter how tackily they're presented, so do it right and make it a good value for your intended audience.

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Enterprising French chap cranks up €100k 'flying car'

Peter Simpson 1
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...moi aussi!

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No, pesky lawyers, particle colliders WON'T destroy the Earth

Peter Simpson 1
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Holmes

...an inert hyperdense sphere about one hundred metres across.

Still, better than what we have now, amirite?

And it would be a solution to the Middle East problems. All of them. So the prospect is not without considerable merit.

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Judge: Odds of bankrupt Lightsquared sorting itself out are 'zero'

Peter Simpson 1
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Mushroom

...but in their defence the GPS manufacturers were apparently a little lazy, and didn't keep within their band - hence the interference.

Not in the least true. The GPS manufacturers designed their receivers, knowing that on either side of the band being used, there were frequencies allocated for satellite downlink use. The signals in these bands would have been of a strength equal to, or more likely, lower than the desired GPS signal, and so the filters were designed for this case.

Now, along comes Lightsquared, with a proposal to use these frequencies, originally allocated to satellite downlink, for something else: terrestrial transmitters. These transmitters would emit signals many orders of magnitude stronger than the signals the GPS receivers were designed to filter out.

You can't blame the GPS manufacturers for designing according to the current band plan, with the expectation that the interference environment would remain the same. After all, that's why we have band plans in the first place: to prevent interference.

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'No, I CAN'T write code myself,' admits woman in charge of teaching our kids to code

Peter Simpson 1
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Facepalm

Re: Few CIOs or VP ITs can code

...two years later the company went bankrupt among failing projects, falling quality, angry customers and so on.

Sadly, nobody in command ever seems to learn from these failures.

They just blame it on the incompetent developers and go somewhere else to do the same thing over again. "F*ck up and move up" is how a former boss put it.

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Peter Simpson 1
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Childcatcher

My first coding class

My mom signed me up for a summer school class. Learned all I needed to learn, taught myself the rest. There's no need to displace Readin', Writin' or 'rithmetic to make room for a coding class. It's quite easy for them to pick it up during summer holidays or after school, if they're so inclined.

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

Peter Simpson 1
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Re: What is the MTBF for a hard drive that is already 7 years old?

New hard drives are cheap. Why buy a whole computer if it just nees a new hard drive? Many of the computers I support are over 3 years old. They do the job just fine. You don't need a quad-core with 16G of RAM to surf the web and send emails.

I buy off-lease commercial-grade machines from resellers ($200-$400) and install Linux. Sure, not everyone's cup of tea, but it beats getting consumer-grade cr@p from Best Buy.

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Peter Simpson 1
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@goodjudge

Why not buy a spare hard drive (I get mine at NewEgg), swap out your Windows drive and install Linux on the new.drive. You can always go back to Windows by swapping drives again. It's really quite easy -- I'd suggest Mint 15 Mate, just download the CD image and burn to a CD, then power down, swap out the hard drive and boot from the CD.

You could even try it on the old XP machine first...

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Peter Simpson 1
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Linux

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

...infested windows machine to Mint (Mate)

That's one of my biggest "selling points", when I'm trying to get someone to try Linux. The antivirus programs on Windows can chew up a tremendous amount of processor resources, not to mention the purchase and update costs of such programs. On an older machine (because not everyone can afford to change machines) going to Linux can mean getting 25% of your CPU cycles back.

Oh, and the "doesn't suck any worse than Windows" was a joke...there's a perception that Linux is clunky and requires all kinds of nerdy skills to use. I just give my "clients" a short tour, and tell them to call me with any questions, reminding them that their old XP system is still there on the old hard drive if they feel they need to go back. With hard drives around $80, it's a lot lower cost than buying a new PC.

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Peter Simpson 1
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Re: I've been helping friends (and businesses) upgrade from XP to ...

I've moved several of my friends from XP to Ubuntu (and now, Mint, because Unity).

Some tricks I have learned:

- buy a new hard drive and tell them their WinXP drive is untouched if they feel the need to go back

- install Virtualbox and a WinXP machine for Windows apps they can't live without

The results have been excellent. For users who mainly want email and web browsing, with a bit of photo sharing and iTunes, this works well (with iTunes on the virtual XP machine, of course).

I get very few phone calls for help and my "users" seem happy with Linux.

My tagline is that Linux doesn't suck any worse than Windows, and they should give it a try.

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STRIPPED DOWN and EXPOSED: Business kit from the good old days

Peter Simpson 1
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Joke

Re: I'm obviously missing something...

I thought a RAM-raid was when you arrived early at work, with a screwdriver, and nearly simultaneously downgraded the amount of RAM in a co-worker's machine, while upgrading the amount in yours.

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BOFH: Attractive person is attractive. Um, why are your eyes bulging?

Peter Simpson 1
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Thumb Up

Heh. I'm exempt.

Color blindness, often considered a disability by those who aren't married.

// and a handy escape mechanism by those who are...

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LOHAN's handsome young autopilot springs into life

Peter Simpson 1
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Pirate

Don't forget

Flotation (just in case) to gurantee positive bouyancy, and a very waterproof and highly visible name and address label (in case it washes up on some foreign shore)!

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Peter Simpson 1
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Joke

Re: Ye Gods!

if it's an air-shark, it will need a frickin' laser attached to it, no?

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Peter Simpson 1
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Alert

Pitot heater?

Don't want to end up like Air France, do we, now?

// a bit piggish with the limited battery power, though

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UK spooks STILL won't release Bletchley Park secrets 70 years on

Peter Simpson 1
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Black Helicopters

In the 70's

I took a programming course on the CDC Cyber 74 from a CDC apps engineer. He pointed out the "count number of 1 bits in word" assembler instruction and asked if anyone knew why it had been included in the instruction set. Nobody did, and he told us that it was included at the request of one of their most important government clients, who used it in a cryptanalytic application.

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London's King of Clamps shuts down numberplate camera site

Peter Simpson 1
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Black Helicopters

Re: Scary Stuff

I currently work on ANPR and your figures are roughly correct, in daylight. Remarkably, we get closer to 90% accuracy at night using infra-red cams.

Here in Massachusetts (actually, it covers the entire east coast of the USA), we have something called EZ-Pass. It uses a combination of RF transponders and ANPR to bill for tolls. It works up to 70 mph, and there are several examples of this up and running. At night, you can just see the visible bit of the IR flash as it reads the plates. The slow-speed lanes have fixed illumination and the plates, of course, are reflective.

I suspect there is a manual reading of illegible plates going on, and I understand that the plates aren't used unless there's a problem with the transponder signal. Still, quite impressive.

Yes, there's a whole subset of drivers who refuse to use it, because they don't want the guvmint tracking them. They're the ones in the long lines, which, according to our overlords, will soon be gone, as the system is about to displace the toll-takers (overpaid relatives of politicians), with license plate readers used to bill those without tags (at a higher rate, presumably)

// and it sure beats having that ashtray full of change (or waiting while the chap in front of you digs through his)

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Private pain: Dell layoff bloodbath to hit over 15,000 staffers – insiders

Peter Simpson 1
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Unhappy

Dude!

You're gettin' Dell'ed!

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El Reg BuzzFelch: 10 Electrical Connectors You CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT!

Peter Simpson 1
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110 block in the US

I have a bunch of 66 blocks in may basement, each room has a pair of RJ-45 jacks, one for voice, one for data. Had them put in when the house was built, my only mistake was wiring them with CAT3 instead of CAT5, but it doesn't seem to have made much of a difference.

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Peter Simpson 1
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Facepalm

As an older electrical engineer, I was once told by a very attractive summer female intern at our company, that she could never remember which connector was the male, and which was the female.

I somehow managed to explain it to her while keeping the conversation on a professional level, but I can't for the life of me remember how I did it!

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Peter Simpson 1
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Mushroom

Re: Not just an angry American

USAian here. "Ground down" has been the standard, ever since those things were introduced (I know, I was there).

A few years ago, some bright light got the idea that they should be installed "ground up". This was post 1993, when my house was built, but I can't nail it down any more precisely than that.

The word-of-mouth reasoning for "ground up" is that a wire, metal cover plate, or other conductor, falling across a partially unplugged connector, would contact the ground first, instead of falling across the two line terminals, as it might, if the outlet had been installed "ground down".

This seems to me to be a low probability occurrence (to say the least) and the National Electrical Code agrees with me as it doesn't state a preferred orientation (and shows outlets "ground down").

So "down" is "normal", unless you're paraoid, then "up" is OK. It seems to be an individual preference or the preference of an overly controlling local electrical inspector.

A secondary reason is that some electricians mount outlets controlled by wall switches in "ground up" configuration to distinguish them from unswitched outlets. This seems to be an uncommonly sensible idea.

// yeah, I know, way TMI...have a nice weekend!

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Peter Simpson 1
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Re: #3 - terminal blocks

I prefer the pluggable ones (but they only work for PCBs). Don't need to unscrew each wire when the PCB needs replacing (or repair or whatever).

Oh, and +1 for the "Mumbai Multiway" -- I shall be using that from here on, in place of "rat's nest", when referring to spaghetti wiring.

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UK.gov recruiting 400 crack CompSci experts to go into teaching

Peter Simpson 1
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Childcatcher

Re: The real elephant in the room ...

Pupils as young as five will start learning to code in the new system and from the age of 11, children will be taught at least two programming languages.

We'll keep them after school, and outsource them as coders. It's like a 21st century workhouse!

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NASA probe orbiting Moon sights ANOTHER SPACECRAFT

Peter Simpson 1
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Trollface

Lawsuit

I demand that high resolution images of this object be released immediately!!!

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Man sues NASA: Mystery Mars rock is a UFO – an unidentified 'FUNGUS' object

Peter Simpson 1
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Alien

Who is Rhawn Joseph?

http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Rhawn_Joseph

First sentence is probably all you need to read:

Rhawn Joseph is a neuropsychologist who worked at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System in California. Since then he has become involved with the Journal of Cosmology and known for his eccentric views on the origin of life on earth.

An expert in his field, well regarded by his peers, then.

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The internet is 'a gift from God' says Pope Francis

Peter Simpson 1
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Linux

The Internet may be a gift from God...

...but Linux is from Linus. I know, I saw the email.

All Hail Linus, giver of Linux!

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Microsoft seeks patent for blade server chassis

Peter Simpson 1
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Get the patent first

Then worry about defending/asserting it.

There are an awful lot of crap patents out there, mostly due to management's expressed need to create a patent portfolio. At my previous company (3Com) there was a huge push and anything that even *looked* like it might be patentable was run through the applications process. I can't believe that other companies are much different.

Hey, at least it's full employment for patent lawyers.

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NASA's Opportunity rover celebrates 10 years on Mars with a FILTHY selfie

Peter Simpson 1
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Pint

Re: Expected lifetime

Just wanted to amplify this point: designed for a life of 90 days, still going after _10 years_.

That's not an "excellent" design, that's a f*cking AWESOME design!. The team that designed these two bad boys should be getting free beer for life from their management. Well done!

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El Reg preps relaunch of Cash’n’Carrion online merchandise emporium

Peter Simpson 1
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Paris Hilton

Re: Can we have?....

I think I have an illustration for the Bulgarian Airbags conversion section...

// Daily Fail link suppressed

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Peter Simpson 1
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Headmaster

Re: Tees and mugs?

I had a rather nice BOTH T Shirt a while back.?

Surely - BOFH?

I could go for one of those...

// F as in "Fine", right?

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Walking while texting can – OUCH! – end badly, say boffins

Peter Simpson 1
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I refer to them as iZombies, because they're mindless (or rather, their mind is elsewhere). Very annoying, especially when they're driving the [still stationery] vehicle in front of you when the light turns green.

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Pregnant? Celebrate your proudest moment ... by 3D-printing a copy of the foetus

Peter Simpson 1
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WTF?

Re: Oh that is all kinds of wrong!

Proving that once again, just because something is technically possible, actually *doing* it may not be advisable (or in good taste)

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LOHAN develops amazing mind-reading powers

Peter Simpson 1
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Holmes

Re: I stopped reading when......

How can you have a Guinness cert, but no Guinness?

Props for the inspirational and patriotic art, though. A very nicely done work area.

// England expects...and all that

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Mexican drink-driver shopped to cops - by his own gobby parakeet

Peter Simpson 1
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Pirate

Re: Odd timing.

...I think it was an African Grey.

You can tell by the lovely plumage.

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Yahooligans! cower! as! COO! was! reportedly! SACKED! by! Mayer!

Peter Simpson 1
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Re: That sweet goodbye

$100m sounds like a lot, but all those essential expenses soon add up.

A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you're talking about real money.

Everett Dirksen

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Peter Simpson 1
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Childcatcher

Re: That sweet goodbye

OK, so taxes take $50m of that.

I (and my family) could live out the remainder of my life in pretty nice style on $50m.

The interest off $50m, actually.

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Yahoo! chief operating officer de Castro exits web biz after just one year

Peter Simpson 1
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Joke

Re: Sub! Editing! Failure!

Have the people respponsible for the Yahoo! titles been sacked?

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Peter Simpson 1
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Childcatcher

Flashback

To my Data General days...and the "other" Mr. [Edson] de Castro.

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Hong Kong’s mobile-mad cabbies told to ditch dashboard devices

Peter Simpson 1
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Facepalm

It's a requirement, right?

Driver MUST be from a country other than the one he's driving a cab in.

Driver MUST not speak or understand more than 10 words in the language of the country he's in.

Driver MUST not use turn signals.

Driver MUST have working horn, and is required to utilize it at every opportunity.

Cabbies -- the same the world over...

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Top patent troll sues US regulators for interfering with its business

Peter Simpson 1
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Facepalm

NewEgg defense

The only way to stop these extortionists is to take them to court.

I, too, have read their patents. They're reaching. They'll be laughed out of court.

Any computer will scan to email with a simple script. The reason it was not done in 1980s was not due to technical inability, it was due solely to the lack of processor and/or communications channel speed.

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Furtive ebook readers push Hitler's Mein Kampf up the charts

Peter Simpson 1
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Thumb Up

Re: The book about how

Almost certainly the only good thing to come out of the Third Reich - the VW Beetle

// need to deduct points for the ICBM though

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Tales from an expert witness: Prior art and patent trolls

Peter Simpson 1
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Childcatcher

A baldric

"I have a cunning plan..."

// hizonner seems to have been a fan

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Chinese Moon rover, lander duo wake up after two-week snooze

Peter Simpson 1
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Facepalm

Re: @ Dalek Dave

I sincerely hope you're too young to remember watching the Apollo missions on TV.

If you had seen them, you would have no doubt that men walked on the moon. For $DEITY's sake, man, ham radio operators listened in on the transmissions. And what's the motivation for all the people that supposedly worked on that soundstage to keep mum for all these years? You'd think someone would have sneaked a camera in and could make a fortune selling the photos of the soundstage to the tabloids.

We really did put men on the moon. More than once. And brought them home safely.

// With slide rules and IBM 360s.

// ...and Real Engineering

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Peter Simpson 1
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Pint

Re: even more impressed....

Real Engineers did that.

(not to minimize the present-day accomplisments of all who design for space exploration, but there has to be some bonus for doing it first)

// Beer's for them all, and the astronauts as well.

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Report: Prez Obama kicks Healthcare.gov contractor to curb for web disaster

Peter Simpson 1
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Holmes

Re: I don't get it

Because this small group of huge companies does two things extremely well:

- identifies, bids on and wins government contracts

- contributes to politicians' election campaigns

You'll notice that neither of the above involves producing a usable product.

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Take off, nuke 'em from orbit: Kill patent trolls NOW, says FTC bigwig

Peter Simpson 1
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Re: As far as I am concerned the lady is well named.

Still sounds a bit fishy to me.

That's krill.

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