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* Posts by Pete 2

2298 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

Web firms, DON'T PANIC: The Euro Google 'right to be forgotten' isn't a problem

Pete 2
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Just needs one test case

If only we could get a legal precedent that classifies everything on the internet (whether search results, web content, forum chatter or social media in its entirety) as being "hearsay" and therefore inadmissable, wouldn't that solve a lot of the problems of companies and individuals taking action merely on the basis of stuff they find on the web.

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350 DBAs stare blankly when reminded super-users can pinch data

Pete 2
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Re: Rouge DBA...

Is that one who makes-up after going rogue?

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Pete 2
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What IS surprising ...

> The report says staff can cause more damage to organisations than external attackers.

... is how little abuse there is.

Given that any sysadmin worth his / her / its salt can do pretty much anything and not be detected, or that they can hack the detection to cover their tracks, why is there so little advantage taken of this ultimate power?

Apart from the oh-so-boring opportunities to sell state secrets to the baddies (or to give them away to the good guys, depending where you work), almost all the naughtiness we experience is some twerp somewhere selling lists of email addresses for the price of a beer.

Where's the wholesale reading of the CEO's email to warn of future restructuring

Where's the "checking" of the finance department's databases for insider trading gains?

Where's the planting of nasty pictures on the boss's computer to get the promotion when they are arrested and jailed?

How come so few disaffected fire-ees don't "take out" that one single, critical machine when they are let go?

Surely someone must have considered adjusting their HR file to improve their company image?

I don't believe that every instance of IT badness gets discovered, fixed and the perpetrator then gets kicked out without a fight. Apart from anything else, some industries are legally obliged to report incidents of fraud. So are we really such an honest lot, that everyone plays nicely. Are we all so afraid of being caught, that even thinking of stepping out of line makes us break out in a sweat. Are we all so good at doing these things that none are ever caught and sanctioned.

I find all of those possibilities equally implausible. So the only alternative (almost as unlikely) is that we're all quite happy with our lot and don't seek additional gain, promotion, revenge or professional advantage. That would surely make IT the most honest group of professionals in the world.

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Brits to vote: Which pressing scientific challenge should get £10m thrown at it?

Pete 2
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A warning, not an incentive

As the article points out, the original guy got screwed out of his rightful prize.

So if the same level of honour holds with this prize, any right-thinking contestants should be very wary of taking part. And especially careful about handing over any intellectual property to the body running the competition.

Plus, in this day and age, you'd think there would be "Dragons" lining up to bung the odd 10-mil. at any individual or research outfit that could come up with anything like a half-workable solution to any of these issues.

The question then arises: is this a bona-fide "let's give science a helping hand"? Or is it merely some publicity for the organisers and the hope that (as with most commercial competitions) the value of the submitted entries far outweighs the benefits that the lucky winner will walk away with. If it's the latter, it's probably harming science, rather than helping.

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Picture special: LOHAN makes fire in the sky at 15,000m

Pete 2
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Light my fire

> got a trio of rocket motors to go bang

Meh, the russians can do that as well. Maybe their PROTONs need more gaffer tape, too.

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Welcome to Heathrow Terminal, er, Samsung Galaxy S5

Pete 2
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Link your brand with confusion and stress?

One third of all traffic through Heathrow airport (in reality, probably only 1 sixth of passengers, as they count as a landing and a takeoff), we are told, are in transit. That is they catch a plane, change at Heathrow and fly off somewhere else. No tourism in the UK, no hotels, no spending money here (apart from getting mugged by the prices in the airport itself): just in - wait - out.

So for these people all they want is to get off one plane and find out where to go to catch the next one. If their english ain't great, and the directions to the terminal for the flight out seem to indicate you'll be flying on some sort of smartphone, will that really instill confidence and ease, or will it be a WTF moment?

Guilt by association is never a clever ploy. To constantly remind travellers of the terrible time they had, wandering around LHR trying to find their terminal, every time they see an advert for Samsung doesn't sound like great marketing. I wonder it it's really Apple who are paying for this renaming exercise? Could Sammy pay for the tax office to be renamed Her Majesty's Apple Revenue and Customs in retaliation.

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Job for IT generalist ...

Pete 2
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Re: Act Appropriately Up To the Cxx Level...

When I "act appropriately at the Cxx level" it means a combination of things.

First of all: suit and tie. Imperative. Plus it saves a lot of time. (A modest, tailored, skirt/jacket if you prefer) Instead of having to spend the first 20 minutes of any meeting establishing your credentials, being dressed for the part and having "a firm handshake, a certain look in the eye and an easy smile" means you have at least 30 seconds to tell them something they need to know, before their attention wavers or their phone rings.

Second: listen.

Third: listen some more. This is more a sign of showing respect. If you've prepared properly, you will already know what they will say to you.

When you do speak, speak slowly. Use business terms (but never cliches you picked up from buzzword-bingo). Never, ever, make the person you're talking to feel stupid or insecure. Always explain everything - you don't get to be CxO by being stupid, so they pick stuff up quickly if it's in their interests to. So make it in their interests.

Leave your phone behind or switch it off. The chances of the caller being more important that your audience is almost zero.

Finally: know why you have gone into that meeting and know what you are going to ask for after you've made your pitch. The primary goal of the meeting is to tell them something to their advantage. Your goal is to get what you want. If you aren't asking for anything, there's no point being there. When you do ask, don't apply pressure - try to give them as much warning as you can (maybe a comment right at the start) and don't drop any surprises on them.

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Pete 2
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Bridge the gap

There is an almighty gap between management and technical staff. In large companies the rift can be so big that the two camps have little in the way of communication, no trust or even a basic understanding of what the other guys do.

That's where you come in. As someone with a foot on either side of the divide, you can act as a translator between tech-speak and management-speak, arbitrate technical requirements that are clearly impractical, explain management strategies that appear nonsensical and be each side's "trusted friend and ally" in the common battle to get stuff done.

One day you might be explaining in business terms to the CIO why he/she/it needs to spend £100k on a new storage array and the next you could be telling the developers why their pet project is doomed to fail and they need to focus on testing the new products instead.

The big problem is that most companies have their heads inserted so far ... , that they can't recognise the need for such a person as yourself. Both sides are firmly convinced that they are right, if only "those idiots could see what we are doing" and neither side has any respect for the other's point of view. You need an "in" which would probably only come from a (social) networking contact, rather than through an agency - which would be blind to this sort of role. You also need a direct (if "dotted") line to a C-level person, so I suggest you take up golf, too.

As for a job title: Recto-Cranial Removal Specialist might work.

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WORLD LOSES MIND: Uber valued at TEN BEEELLION DOLLARS, Pinterest pegged at $5bn

Pete 2
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Re: None of these sums of money are real, right?

Spot on.

If you took all the shares in Uber, or FB or any of the other internet "bubble" companies and said "right, who'll give me $10 billion?" you'd get exactly no takers. These ludicrous valuations are based upon someone, or some consortium somewhere bunging the company maybe 8 or 9 digits and taking a percentage slice in return. The media then say "oooh, if 1% was sold for $100mil, then the whole company MUST be worth .... carry the 1 ... $10 billion!!!" Until the next round of financing when someone else takes another 1% and only pays $50mil - then the headlines read: "Uber loses $5 Bn off its valuation".

p.s. Maybe the cabbies have all clubbed together to buy it?

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Pete 2
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Fare's fair

> in talks for funding that would value the startup at an astronomical $10bn

Sounds like they took the investors on the long route "to avoid the traffic"

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Who's going to look after the computers that look after our parents?

Pete 2
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Re: Why not work?

The thing about having local employment is that it pushes up property prices. If there are jobs, people will move to the area to take them. If there are no jobs, house prices drop - or become affordable, if you prefer that description.

However, there *will* be work available: the community will create the demand. It just won't be heavy industry. For example, there will be demand for a lot of caring professions: ones that are not traditionally very highly paid. So by making these communities in otherwise remote locations, those carers who chose to move to the area won't be priced out by higher-paid employees who would pay more to buy or rent in the area.

There is also a lot of scope to create brand-new sorts of jobs. Again, specifically tailored to the needs of the communities. As well as the usual sorts of services: gardeners, plumbers, decorators, meal deliveries that the elderly are less likely to "DIY", there may be a need for a "nice young man" (!!!) sort of job. One where a person (not necessarily a man) could pop over and in exchange for a couple of quid, could open that jar, get a box off the top of the wardrobe or do "that thing with the computer to make it work again". Do 40 or 50 of those 1 minute, unskilled, tasks in a day could be a nice little earner in a low pay/low cost location. Those sorts of jobs are only viable if there is sufficient demand for the services (or products) offered. In traditional mixed-population towns and cites there isn't the density of individuals needing them to make those tailored jobs attractive. But in a specific community of elderly people, providing it is large enough, a "nice young man" could make a living from it.

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Pete 2
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Social, not technical changes

People "invented" cities because they are efficient. You get more done per person in a city, there is a greater density of people and a greater density of business and a greater density of innovation. There is also a shorter distance to travel to get what you need (which is just as well, as traveling in a city is pure hell).

So what do the elderly need? Yup! their own cities. But cities, or more likely communities of a few hundred or thousand homes, that are designed just for them. Ones that don't have cracked and uneven paving slabs. Ones that don't need the infrastructure of jobs and schools to be built as well. Ones where the supermarkets don't have aisles and aisles full of babies' nappies and cosmetics - but instead have products and layouts tailored to the wants and needs of the over-70's. And of a scale where it won't take all day to get from one end to the other. And cities that don't have steps, stairs, slopes or a maze of twisty little passages, all the same. Possibly even having the streets colour-coded and homes and shops with entrance doors that don't need Harlequins' scrum to push open, oversized signage and house numbers and are visible from the road for those with less than 20-20 vision (or even proximity detectors that announce the address as you approach.

Provided you can persuade the elderly to vacate their 3-bed detached houses in the 'burbs (that are now worth £1million apiece) without the stigma of "going into a home" or losing their independence, a properly designed community would allow all their carers, supervisors, specialised medical facilities, media and social centres to be focussed locally, suppliers and service to be adjacent and with others around them with similar interests, common problems and outlooks the place could thrive.

The only difficulty would be for those outside the community, who'd have to find someone else to act as babysitters.

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EFF blows Snapchat a raspberry in gov't surveillance report

Pete 2
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Pretty rank

> issued its fourth annual ... report, ranking internet companies

Another self-appointed outfit giving the world the benefit of it's arbitrary opinion in an exercise of self-publicity.

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Surprise! Google chairman blasts EU's privacy ruling

Pete 2
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Re: Forget-me-not - Not!

> the contrasting right of free speech (of google)

Google (Inc.) is a company. There is no "right of free speech" for anything except people - and even for people, everywhere, that right is strictly limited.

There are, however, many aspects of freely available information that are in the public interest to be available. I would suggest that as long as the Rehabilitation of Offenders act is adhered to (some offences can be ignored after a given period - a "right to be forgotten" enshrined in law), that a person's serious criminal activity (i.e. not littering or similar), once proven, was in the public interest to be searchable.

However lapses of judgement, bad luck or accidental events: such as being in debt, drunken selfies or the like aren't really that serious (if embarrassing) and shouldn't be removable. Though I can see a strong case for _anything_ done, said or posted in childhood being forgotten automatically. We have all done silly things in our youth. We don't need reminding of them.

The difficulty is that the RoO act was written before the internet and this sort of thing seems to be a case of the internet (well: Google) being unwilling to catch up with our laws.

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Be the next tech hotshot – by staying the hell away from regulators

Pete 2
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The small, the big and the ugly

> leave people to get on with things and they'll tend to get them sorted out.

That works well at the "small business" level. Where there are lots (well, OK: a few) companies that are evolving: some will succeed and flourish, some will fail and some will mutate into something else. Early Silicon Valley startups would be prime examples. However once you get past a certain level, the lack of regulation can lead to exploitation and corruption as seen in Standard Oil monopoly and anti-trust suits around 1900 - when it controlled about 90% of the american oil/petrol market.

One might venture to think of some certain software companies as other examples - and maybe some of todays internet giants have some of those same features, too.

Now, I'm not in favour of protectionism, either for specific, powerful, lobbying, industries or for one country to erect barriers to prevent foreign competition. But there does come a time when some businesses get too large, too powerful and too influential. Then they stop being a "power for good" and mutate into entities who's primary goal is to maintain their own existence - or share price. Maybe that's one area where regulation needs strengthening: to stop the lizards from becoming Godzillas. Otherwise we may have another "financial crisis", but in a different area of business, occupied by different sorts of "too big to fail" companies.

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Europe's shock Google privacy ruling: The end of history? Don't be daft

Pete 2
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Re: Move the goalposts

> Your solution is for me to completely change my identity and start a new life. OK assume this is possible and I actually do it.

Well, thousands of women manage to do this [change their names] every year, with very little hassle, when they marry and adopt their husband's last name. The biggest problem they have seems to be "learning" a new signature. There certainly isn't anything as dramatic as "start a new life" - though I guess you could go for some plastic surgery as well, if you wanted to.

Sure, there are some hassles - like having to apply for a new passport and notifying your bank of a name-change. But you have to ask: which is more onerous? a few small administrative alterations, or dragging Google through the courts as the instigator of this whole story did, for many years, just to get one link changed.

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Pete 2
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Move the goalposts

IIRC this all kicked off because some spanish guy Googled his own name (and we all know: nothing good ever comes from doing that) and discovered that it listed a financial embarrassment from years gone by.

Now, whatever the ins and outs of that particular situation, surely the easier approach (easier than grinding your way through the courts) is to simply change your name?

So, if Mr Derek Stinky was to change his name to, say, Mr. Albert Stinky then Google would have no link between the two names - so far as they are concerned it's only data and there is no attribute (unless Mt Stinky was to explicitly add one) to link the two. Even then it would have to be an exceptionally clever little search engine to twig the fact - and since it's main function is to push advertisements, there's no reason to make it so smart. [ Now GCHQ: there's a search system to be reckoned with ].

So, being a lazy git and always taking the path of least resistance, I would always go for the simplest solution to a problem of this size: and simply become someone else. Pete 3 has a nice ring to it.

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Boffins debunk red wine miracle antioxidant myth

Pete 2
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Newsflash!

> red wine doesn't confer some of the alleged benefits

and none of the drinkers will care one jot.

If you like it and don't overdo it, that is probably doing you some good. Mentally if not physically (but who wants to live forever, anyway?)

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LA air traffic meltdown: System simply 'RAN OUT OF MEMORY'

Pete 2
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altitude overflow?

> the system crashed because an operator entered a value that was outside limits

You aren't thinking that if you enter a flightplan with an altitude of 2^16 feet, you might just get an integer overflow, are you?

After all, nobody could fly that high, so we'd never need to test it, right?

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London cabbies to offer EVEN WORSE service in protest against Uber

Pete 2
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Re: you're having a tin mate...

> never see a penny of tax

Even if a cab driver did manage to avoid having their fares recorded, they still pay a significant amount of tax (as we all do).

There's tax on fuel: 58p per litre - tax on the fuel tax (VAT) - making UK diesel the most expensive in the world¹. Then there's VAT on buying the car, car tax and tax on the servicing costs. Do Uber cars have to pay the congestion charge? - another tax!

Even when a cabbie does get home with his (or her) untaxed wad, pretty much everything he/she buys will have 20% VAT to pay on it, too - plus any "sin taxes" like booze & ciggies. Now you might think "it's only VAT - everyone pays that" but bear in mind that VAT is the government's second biggest earner and that you pay the same rate (unlike income taxes) whether you are on minimum wage or £1million a year - and it's easy to realise that even cash in hand will never escape the clutches of the HMRC.

[1] Daily Telegraph, May 6

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Pete 2
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Gets worse before it gets better. But who said it'll get better

So, you are faced with a competitor who undercuts you, actually turns up, is prepared to take you where you want to go (sarf ov the river????) and has a more flexible business. How do you challenge that?

> the demonstration ... will attract many many thousands of cabs

Obvious, innit. Withdraw ALL of your services, leaving the other guy to be the only game in town.

Maybe what London (well, OK: what everywhere) needs is a taxi service who's only barrier to entry is the servicabillity of the vehicle and the lack of criminality of the driver. After that, let anyone with the right insurance in on the game - and let them charge whatever rate they please.

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Spy sat launch wannabe SpaceX fails to stop rival gobbling Russki rockets

Pete 2
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Once through Google translate ...

> she [ the judge ] had received letters ... explaining that the ULA deal doesn’t violate sanctions.

One assumes that's the jargon du jour for someone stratospherically high up in the administration screamed threats and abuse at her if she didn't "see the error of her ways" - and then dangled the carrot, for when she did.

Energomash - really?

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Britain'll look like rural Albania without fracking – House of Lords report

Pete 2
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Question time

> The lords ... stating there is actually "little hard evidence of public opinion" one way or another on fracking

The answer you'll get as "public opinion" depends totally on the question you ask:

Do you want to see gas companies drilling in areas of outstanding natural beauty? or:

Do you think we should be doing something to keep electricity prices down and make sure we don't run out of natural gas?

In more than one place I've worked it has been very, very difficult to get changes approved. So hard in fact that it was often easier (and sometimes quicker) to let a failure occur and then have a "whatever it takes" emergency change rushed through to get the failed system back up and working again. In relation to fracking, I would be less than surprised if all the naysayers changed their attitudes in an instant if the lights went out.

Maybe that's the time to ask the question.

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Carphone Warehouse, Dixons embroiled in £3.7bn merger rumour

Pete 2
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Short and sweet

> Sky News claimed the proposed name of the merged enterprise is Dixons Carphone Group

Car Ware Dix House, possibly shortened to Cawadiho might work. Dix Ware Car Ho has a certain, kerb-crawling, ring to it too.

Though I still can't imagine buying anything from that outfit.

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Cost-cutting Barclays bank swings axe on 5,600 IT and ops bods

Pete 2
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cockup in three ... two ... one ...

Very soon after all the hackers realise that ...

> The bank promised automation of IT platforms across the Group

... means there aren't actually any people supervising the security systems. And even when an alarm goes off, it'll take some time for whoever's on-call to get their arse out of bed, realise what's going on and escalate the problem to the few capable individuals who are still working there.

But given the speed of financial transactions, will there be any money left by that point?

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Hungry for humbler Pi? Check out kid-friendly LED-laden Pibrella

Pete 2
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Re: ...really now?

> using those bloody interrupts

On a Pi, or other SBC running Linux, wouldn't it be more like using a poll() or select(), unless you fancy writing a device driver to get down 'n' dirty with the processor's interrupt hardware.

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Nuclear reactor sysadmin accused of hacking 220,000 US Navy sailors' details

Pete 2
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Best excuse ever

> he hacked naval computers "out of boredom"

Good. I'd hate to think that someone in charge of the software that ran a reactor was overworked and constantly too busy.

And while "the devil makes work for idle hands", that's surely better than "yes I know that alert's been going off for the past 15 minutes. I'll get to it when I have a mi<BOOM>"

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Look out, sysadmins - HOT FOREIGN SPIES are targeting you

Pete 2
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Re: They'd never get me

> Hmmm... How about "a ton of cash, an amusing clock and a sack of French porn. "?

Ach! you spies. You know every man's weakness. But before I betray my country and my employer, tell me more about the clock.

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Pete 2
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They'd never get me

I would just like to say that I will never be bribed by the offer of hot sex, fine wines, good meals and holidays in the Carribean (even if they were on a large yacht). And I challenge any interested spy agencies to try to prove otherwise.

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ARM exec: Forget eight-core smartphone chips, just enjoy a SIX-PACK

Pete 2
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Bigger is better

> My building? ...

and that is probably why an 8-core processor is important: as a sales tool.

Just like it's "better" to have a 12 MPix camera on your phone than just an 8MPix one (so 2013, darling!)

Maybe the trick that ARM should consider is not so much the "some biggun's and some little-uns". Just go for the numbers and have 8 (or 10, or 12) of the small processors. More people will be taken in by the processor-number marketing than will be by the benchmark number marketing - neither of which bears much relationship to the users perception.

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Please work for nothing, Mr Dabbs. What can you lose?

Pete 2
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Re: The saying or the doing

Is that the observation about romantic drama writers: those who feel the need to write about it aren't doing it?

> I bet you're a romantic sweet-talker in the bedroom.

You'll never find out.

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Pete 2
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Re: Absolutely and Schools

> Still who needs to bother with such things as the period table

I think Tom Leher could help you out there. or if that's not trendy enough for today's yoof (the teachers, not the children) there's a new, graphic version - though I'm not sure if the entry for Silicon(e) was a deliberate mistake. Or did I just imagine it?

http://www.tastefullyoffensive.com/2013/05/the-new-periodic-table-song.html

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Pete 2
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The saying or the doing

> Some would suggest that I earn my money disreputably and don’t really deserve to receive any.

The difficulty with paying people to write is that so little of it contains any actionable, credible, information. And so little of the tiny minority that is actionable is worth anything..

Anyone can write "do this and you'll earn $1m" - but is the value in the information: "do this ..." or in the actual doing?

For example: a boxing promoter can suggest that Wladimir Klitschko could make millions by fighting Alex Leapai (he did, he won). But merely suggesting the match takes no effort - even though the money-making opportunity was a certainty. And so it is with most writing. Merely suggesting a course of action is a trivial enterprise (even if you had to spend time researching it, writing it and doing your own editing and publishing) and, importantly contains no investment or risk for the writer. It's the effort: the activity and the risk of failure that deserves reward, not the writing or suggestion.

After all, if writers were able to identify all these ways of turning ideas into actions - wouldn't they be too busy doing them, themselves rather than just sitting there writing about it?

Now if you were to consider yourself an entertainer, and that the product of your efforts were supposed to engage the audience, rather than direct them to ways of improvement or profit, THEN there would be a way to place a value on the content. But it would be content for its own sake, not as a means to some other end.

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Script fools n00b hackers into hacking themselves

Pete 2
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Catch 'em young

If the "career" path of a hacker follows the conventional route: from starting as a script kiddie to either getting a girlfriend or becoming a hard-ass hacker, then anything that can nip the process in the bud sounds like be a good thing.

Maybe the world should start hacking back? With tools like this and then later on with malware that purports to prevent self-hacks. We know, from the life-cycle of hacking itself, how to escalate these things.

Maybe attack really is the best form of defence.

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Granny's Guardian: Acorn BBC Micro hero touts OAP watchdog kit

Pete 2
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Re: Cheap at half the price

I was thinking of blogging about it, but I had a word with myself and came to the conclusion that I would not want to be held responsible (rightly or wrongly) for a monitoring failure that led to injury or death. I could imagine a situation where someone had either implemented my project correctly but I had made a mistake somewhere, or that they had bogged it and the result was it failed to alert the right person in a timely manner. Now, one could counter that by saying that if said person hadn't had a monitor n the first place, they'd be no worse off - but I didn't want to be put in that position: of beta testing with some elderly folk who were unaware of the development status of the hardware and code.

Although the aged relative in question already has the full gamut of smoke alarms and CO alarms. I have added an air quality sensor (small analog device, looks like an electret microphone) to check the air in the room. It's surprisingly sensitve to fly-spray and other household chemicals / cleaners. There is also an LRGB sensor that can use the RGB components of the ambient light to distinguish daylight from room lighting. Dark in daytime implies curtains weren't opened (bad sign) and movement with no light is downright mysterious - unless they have a cat. The LiPo controller also makes it possible to detect power cuts and light an LED in that circumstance.

Apropos the Pi phone: yes I did see that and I'm hoping that when the code is published I can take a look at the GUI, for tips and shortcuts. At present I'm thinking of coding the touch interface (Olimex have a range of touch-screens, I have a 7-incher which should allow for sufficiently large buttons for shakey fingers to hit). At present the A20 is running Debian and Xfce, so the GUI would be a full-screen layer on top of that. I really don't want to expose any facet of the O/S to the users.

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Pete 2
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Re: Cheap at half the price

> Why didn't you just use the Raspi and RAMFS

Because in my impetuousness, I bought a very early (yes I was up at 6 a.m. on release day, trying to order off the website - won't do that again) Model B that only had 256MB. I think I've isolated almost all of the write activity to RAM, so hopefully NAND lifetimes won't be a limiting factor. Nor will mechanical connections to the n/v storage.

I also wanted the Mk2 to have audio input capabilities and the Olimex SBC also comes with a LiPo interface so it will run off an outboard battery (6600maH - the size of 3 * AA jobbies: good for over a day) thus making RAMFS viable. It also has enough GPIO for aforementioned 800x480 touch screen. But this is getting to sound a bit like an advertisement and I'd hate to make the Bulgarians blush.

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Pete 2
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Cheap at half the price

> It costs £225 for the goods,

Yikes!

The one I built for an aged relative, last year, amounted to the cost of a RPi + Wifi card + PIR, DHT11, loudspeaker + amp and a light sensor. Including the (tastefully varnished) wooden box the total was < £100.

It also had some additional features that proved to be the unexpected highlight, so far as A.R. was concerned. There's nothing quite as comforting (apparently) as entering your living room in the morning and hearing a cheerful "Good Morning" from a familiar voice.

Sadly, the SD card soon got tired with the constant writes to /var/log and gave up the ghost after a few months. But the Mk2 learned from that, runs from an Olimex A20 that has NAND on board and holds all the sensor data in RAMFS - and has lots of other added features.

Now, if I can just get the Kivy interface going on the touchscreen ...

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Behold! World's smallest 3D-printer pen Lix artists into shape – literally

Pete 2
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3D ink blots

> outputs solid lines as you move the pen through the air

My hot-melt glue gun has been doing that for years. Crikey! I have a 3D printer and I never even knew it.

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Today's bugs have BRANDS? Be still my bleeding heart [logo]

Pete 2
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GOTO be GONE?

> Because nobody uses goto in real code, right

Actually EVERYBODY uses goto's - they just turn a blind eye to it.

Look under the safety-blanky of your favourite compiler and you'll see the assembler which is produced is absolutely infested with goto statements.

I think what is meant is that nobody (again, incorrect) writes GOTO statements in their source code. The problem isn't actually the goto statement: which is so useful there would be no practical software without it. No: the issue is partly mere fashion/snobbery, but mostly the problem of documenting it: the lack of a complimentary, high-level, COMEFROM statement to tell the poor little debuggerer how the program-counter ended up at a certain point in the code.

Though if you debug your stuff with a logic analyser, or trace/emulator, working out where the GOTO came from is generally quite easy. There's nothing about a GOTO to sneer at or to be scared of.

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Chinese iWatchers: Apple's WRISTPUTERS ALREADY in production

Pete 2
Silver badge

Off the cuff

I wonder if Apple will bring out a range of attire with especially shortened sleeves, so that everyone will be able to see that you have an iWatch?

What's the point in having Apple gear, if nobody else knows that you have it?

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BBC hacks – tweet the crap out of the news, cries tech-dazzled Trust

Pete 2
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Re: Populism and the Licence

> university education is - a reward for being 'clever'

I think the OP is a little behind the times. These days (according to The Guardian - ooops!) about 50% of school leavers go to university. So maybe a "university education" (or 3 years of beer, brainz and bonking as it was recently explained to me: how times have changed) is now just a "reward" for being academically above average. If that's the new "clever", then so be it.

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Pete 2
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Re: Populism and the Licence

> audience share - 30% to 40% - because it was paid for by the universal licence

The logic is inescapable: what right does an organisation have to require a payment, if it provides nothing in return?

However, the idea that the BBC should cater for the masses falls into the "give a man a fish ... " category. If all it does is make itself accessible by adhering to the same standards of taste, intelligence and popular, faddish programme content as the commercial channels (and scheduling them head-to-head, then calling it "choice") then it's valid to ask: why have it at all, if it doesn't provide anything different or apply pressure to raise the overall standard?

For most people (well, most people here at least) the BBC has two unique properties: Dr. Who and no advertisements. Oh: and the silly notion that it's "free", just like the health service isn't. Given that the vast majority don't watch the programmes that have otherwise been tagged as "upper class" and "elitist", maybe the time has come to dump the licence fee and the ITV-esque (matron! he's using complicated words again) channels and simply have BBC2 & Radio 4 paid for by and only accessible to, the 40% tax-payers or those with a masters degree?

Or is it a case of: you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone?

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Pete 2
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No news is good news

When something momentous happens: some fool starts a war, the Martians land, a plane flies into a building then the whole country thinks "Hmmm, I should find out more about that" and accesses a news service - for big events and the BBC still seems to be the source of choice.

However, we live in an era where there aren't any wars (at least, wars in any timezone that are likely to cause us to flee our homes), the Martians have seen our TV programming and decided to stay away and there aren't that many crazies in control of aircraft. Under those circumstances, where most of the events that will actually have a material affect on most people are either political (new laws) or economic (no money) - both of which are abstract, complicated and out of our control, is it any surprise that most people don't actually care? It's not like the (good old) cold-war days, when the news programmes could dangle the threat of nuclear annihilation as a carrot to watch, and "big up" the fact that some foreign leader hadn't been seen in public and the new guy might press the button.

So what do the news people fill all these empty hours, on channels too numerous to mention, with? Stories about minor celebrities and who they snog, marry or avoid. Lurid, voyeuristic footage of suffering in far away countries and the random doings of sports "personalities" who can't string together a coherent sentence to explain themselves - if you know what I mean (harry).

In short, we have news broadcasts coming out of our ears, 24 hour rolling news channels that have 15 minutes of stories on a loop (and that hardly ever change at weekends as the news staff aren't working - but when most people would have the time to watch) for most of the day - and most of the night, too. Channels that are so desperate to cheaply fill their air-time and website space that they have descended into trivia and celebrity instead of going for depth and analysis. And using the televised, in-your-face, suffering of genuine victims, used merely to attract viewers: sitting on their couches shoving crisps down their necks, as people watch their houses being destroyed.

It is any wonder that most right-thinking people reject this form of "news" and only care about whether it will rain today, or if there are traffic jams on their way in to work? Having bigger or flashier graphics and tweets won't make any difference here, guys. The basic problem is one of quality and relevance.

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Google forges a Silver bullet for Android, aims it at Samsung's heart

Pete 2
Silver badge

Rooting for Silver

Isn't this the "experience" that most people who root their Android phones are doing it for?

Dumping the bloat-ware and getting up-to-date versions. I guess the differentiation will now come from things like hardware features: cameras, 3D on screens, number of cores and amount of memory and maybe even some "killer" accessories that no other manufacturers will have.

They may even play the security card and demonstrate a widening gap between themselves and the (explicit or covert) entities that monitor and collect data from Android phones.

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Cuffing darknet-dwelling cyberscum is tricky. We'll 'disrupt' crims instead, warns top cop

Pete 2
Silver badge

Re: A better solution: better defences

> the "eternal vigilance" problem

You're quite right. However the goal should be to design intrinsically secure systems. Not ones that require people to be vigilant, as we know they simply can't be trusted with secure information. No, the security has to designed in as the default option - and designed properly to not impact usability, so that users/owners have neither the need nor the ability to disable it.

I should add: I have absolutely no clue how someone would either design, or enforce the use of, such systems. Though I'd hope that the big internet players: the ones like Google, and FB who have the biggest investment in internet use - would be working on this problem as a "giving back" for all the wealth the internet has thrust upon them.

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Pete 2
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A better solution: better defences

Let's assume for a minute that all this "cybercrime" is actual crime: taking stuff that doesn't belong to them. Whacking law-abiding citizens with a large stick (or whatever the "cyber" equivalent is: tweeting that their mothers smell of cabbage, maybe?). Possibly even persuading online sellers to give them stuff in return for no money?

Rather than going through a public wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth as they bewail the fact that these criminals are doing the online equivalent of wearing a mask with two eye-holes, aren't there other ways to use their time and budget to better effect? Such as stopping crimes from occurring rather than running around - Keystone Cops style - trying to catch them afterwards: once they have their swag, or have tweeted vaguely insulting things about someones mother.

Obviously it's not as sexy: going from online business to online business and saying "did you know, that there are lots of bad people who can persuade you to give them your money, unless you do X, Y and Z". Given the lack of any visible deterrent on t'net, placing the onus on the e-tailers (e.g. refusing to insure them unless security holes were fixed) and using the existing cyber-cops to uncover those weaknesses, might get "cybercrime" down in a more efficient way than their current activities.

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Brit IT workers are so stressed that 'TWO-THIRDS' want to quit

Pete 2
Silver badge

Oi! less of that talk, if you please.

> I did a weeks worth of work in an afternoon by ... looking at the problem and then automating it.

Don't give away all the secrets. Yes, we know about automation and how it can do all the tedious tasks, while allowing you to do the work of four people (I could give you their names, except for the confidentiality clause) AND keeping abreast of developments, new languages and skills AND being able to do the crossword while waiting for the clock to strike 5.

But there are lots of IT workers who's only skills are tedious cut'n'paste: data from one spreadsheet into another. Who will see what's presented on one screen and dutifully type it, manually: new mistakes 'n' all, into an application's form and who STILL print out data and then highlight fields in yellow or pink, depending on whether they are above or below some fixed limits. One assumes it's these people who are in the two-thirds who want to quit and who feel the stress.

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Pete 2
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Re: 40+ hours of overtime

> in reality you haven't got much of a clue as to who I am, or what I do.

En contrario, mi amiga!

I can assume your gender, that you wear high heels for an IT job (which leads to conclusions of it's own - but let's not go there). I know that you are IT-literate and I know where you are going on holiday and roughly how much you earn. I also know that you have a lot of time on your hands, right now. That's as well as feeling stressed and overworked (which leads to yet more conclusions that I'm too polite to dig in to) and that you feel very, very defensive about your work: which leads to more conclusions, too.

And all that is only what you've divulged to the world in a few posts on a single morning. Who needs to go snooping when people volunteer so much personal info without even being asked?

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Pete 2
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Re: @msknight

> I've got to stop reading the reg and get on with some work (published an hour ago, at the time I write this)

same person wrote this, 39 minutes ago:

> @larsg @bearden - actually I started in programming ...

So what happened to the work?

Newsflash! and again, just now:

> @Caaaptaaaain kick arse - in my case

So is that you done for the day?

And yes: this IS a case of "I've been watching that (insert job title of manual worker here) for the past half an hour and he/she/it hasn't done a stroke of work". But then again, I'm sitting here in a sunny Andalucia: the birds are tweeting (mostly inane comments about food or nests), not a cloud in the sky and the bells on distant sheep can be heard wafting across the countryside. Bliss.

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Internet of Thingies bods: Forget 3G, let's go straight to 4G

Pete 2
Silver badge

The internet of cars

> a "connected" car sending significant data – both telemetry and perhaps video – might need the bandwidth of 4G.

This might sound like a good idea in isolation, but even a 4G network would soon collapse if presented by a whole motorway-full of cars, all streaming video - mostly of the cars in front and behind: all of which would be streaming exactly the same views back again - and engine management telemetry and all the other stuff that is unquestionably *possible* even if of questionable *worth*.

From my understanding, the IoT is more suited to being a "below the radar" network of small devices sending bitsy little packets on an infrequent basis: the comparison with tweets being not just the size, of the records, but their value, too. It's not meant to turn every road-borne vehicle into a Formula-1 racer, complete with live video feeds and EMU/biometric data. That would never scale (but would make a fortune for 4G carriers).

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