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* Posts by Richard 12

1541 posts • joined 16 Jun 2009

That square QR barcode on the poster? Check it's not a sticker

Richard 12
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Facepalm

Re: What kind of idiot uses these things anyway?

I stick mine to the products I've commissioned when on a call, and hand them to customers when I've given them training.

Gives the customer a phone number (and website address) reminder when they get stuck. Seems pretty useful given the general complete and total failure of people to look on our website for phone numbers. Or look at our website at all, in many cases.

- Of course, my mobile number is not on the card, just the main office number.

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Kiwi archaeologists cook up a record of Earth’s magnetism

Richard 12
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Re: Rift zones, anyone?

Yes, however the magnetic field orientation isn't consistent across the whole globe.

At the very least it wobbles up and down, but there is also sideways movement.

So it's useful to know the historical orientation at as many points on the surface as we can.

As to a real-world use, there are databases of how it varies "locally" at the moment that are used by smartphones and drones, it would be useful to know how often those will need updating.

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White Van Man could become a rolling radio relay

Richard 12
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Re: Why bother putting the relays on vehicles?

Indeed.

Although there are many roads with no lamp posts.

I'm also rather confused about what this could be for - the roads that are congested enough for this to work are within range of mobile phone towers, and the ones that aren't in range of mobile phone towers aren't busy enough for it to work.

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I've got the 'fastest growing THINGY ever', boasts Google+ chief

Richard 12
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Boffin

Re: Google worries me

Nope, your tablet knows where it is.

I'd guess the app simply defaulted to "the town you're currently in" when it started up for the first time. It's a fairly reasonable assumption for any software developer to make.

How did the tablet know where you are?

If it's got a cellular telephone system, that's enough to pick a town - and often enough to locate within a few hundred metres. GPS would clearly work down to much finer position.

If it has neither of those, it's still got WiFi, so it just looks up locations of the visible access points on the Google database. Originally acquired by Google Street View cars, and continually updated by any GPS-equipped device owner using Google Location Services (as per their terms of use).

Apple and Microsoft do exactly the same thing - just without the cars.

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Microsoft's anti-Android Twitter campaign draws ire, irony

Richard 12
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Re: Hackers would go after Windows phones...

Also most set-top boxes and TVs, and quite a few routers.

There's a bit of Windows CE out there still, but MS don't recommend it for new designs.

So these days pretty much every consumer "black box" device with a network connection is running a version of Linux, because it's cheap and lightweight.

Industrial are mostly Linux or VxWorks - the latter is properly real-time, but modern hardware is so fast that's starting to matter less in real equipment.

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Google puts Nexus 4 back on sale, sells out pronto

Richard 12
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In many cases, yes, plastic is better than glass.

Glass is harder so doesn't scratch as easily.

However, plastic (eg. polycarbonate) is much tougher than the toughest glass, so does not shatter.

Personally, I would prefer my phone to scratch rather than shatter when I drop it, as scratches are easier to ignore than shards of glass in my ear, or a starred screen.

Your opinion may differ.

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Slash A THIRD off Surface RT price or it's toast, Microsoft told

Richard 12
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Re: Anybody know what Surface does?

You can pretend to be a robot if you buy enough of them.

I suspect you could build a robot like that Stephen Fry one at Golden Joysticks for less money though.

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Pioneering spidernaut snuffs it after short Smithsonian stay

Richard 12
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Flies in Spaaace!

It's harder than that for flies, as their entire physiology is based on wing beats, pumping both the air and 'blood' through their bodies.

So I think that not being able to flap wings without large effects will make them a bit short of breath.

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Forget fluorescents, plastic lighting strips coming out next year

Richard 12
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Unhappy

No, not dimmable.

Absolutely, 100% certain that no, they are not dimmable by 'existing' dimmer switches.

Your existing ones are either SCR or rheostat, although if they were particularly expensive then they might be reverse-phase (IGBT).

EL panels use a very high-frequency driver. Any dimming possible is done by giving the drive electronics hard power and a separate control signal to indicate desired level.

Most EL drivers aren't dimmable at all, and those that can don't go very far - maybe 50% minimum?

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Richard 12
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Boffin

Re: Halogens don't like dimmers?

Rubbish! Tungsten Halogens on dimmers are absolutely fine.

They're only warm enough for the tungsten to evaporate once they're already hot enough for the halogen cycle to run. These are a pretty big part of my day job, we'd notice this!

Domestic ones are even better as the actual halogen capsule is tiny, protected inside the outer envelope so stays clean and loses less heat to the environment.

Also - run them at 90% and you increase the lifetime by around 30% with a small drop in brightness, equally, run them at 110% and the lifetime drops by about 30-50% (with a bit of a brightness boost).

Overvolting is pretty common in the UK - many lamps sold in the UK and Europe are 230V (or even 220V). In the UK, your actual mains voltage is usually 240V, sometimes (eg most of Central London) as high as 250V.

- This is also why a lot of CFLs and LED lamps are awful. They're just not designed for the mains voltage we actually have.

Flashing may kill them, but that's thermal shock snapping the supports or filament, not evaporation.

So dimmer switches can be better - soft start, can run them at the actual rated (RMS) voltage, and the option to run at 90%.

That said - GU10s are fragile as heck. Choose MR16 if you can, they last considerably longer. Low voltage halogen is also more efficacious than mains voltage of the same wattage, which is nice!

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Richard 12
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Interesting, but I want to see the real thing first!

It's just EL panels/strings.

EL has always been pretty expensive and rather dim (although high efficacy).

What's new here is the colour - previously it was mostly greenish, although some new colours have become available.

My guess (not read the paper) is that they've simply mixed a few EL colours together into one sheet of plastic.

As to lifetime, EL items don't "blow", they just get dimmer and less efficacious as they age, until you finally get annoyed with them.

Without the degeneration curve the claim is meaningless.

LED actually does the same, (except for the odd ruptured diode). The lifetime quoted is generally either to 70% or 50% of output when new.

Finally, a lot of white LEDs look horrible because many of the bins allow green, which humans really cannot stand, instead of allowing magenta which we can.

It remains to be seen what the actual spectrum of this is.

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IETF bakes Google's SPDY protocol into HTTP 2.0

Richard 12
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Re: 150% increase?

Google knows what pages and adverts you wish to see, so provides them before you decide to click the link.

That's Web 3.0!

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Hearts, minds and balls: Microsoft's Windows 8 Surface gamble

Richard 12
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Re: Not getting either RT or Surface Pro

You clearly haven't worked with many consultants or salescritters!

The pub session is where most of the important "seriously, what did you really want?" discussions take place.

Beats dry, incomplete PDF documentation hands down for both completeness and speed.

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Data cop slap for Brit text pests

Richard 12
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Re: Ah but

Now that's a good idea!

I tend to mute the mike and let them chat to nobody, but a rape whistle sounds much better.

... Or perhaps a modem handshake.

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Apple granted patent for microphone silhouette

Richard 12
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Re: Barmy

A US "Design Patent" is what the civilised world calls a "Registered Design"

That's somewhat similar to a trademark.

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Ten technology FAILS

Richard 12
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Re: MiniDiscs

It's only in the last year or so that MiniDisc has been replaced in professional theatre and radio, and only then because its got too difficult to get the discs.

Good audio quality, and many players that could cut, chop and cue up tracks without needing anything else, coupled with instant-start once cued up made them perfect.

Even modern PC-based players often struggle with that.

- If you want some the BBC World Service are selling theirs off.

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Facebook tries to stop its staff using iPhones in 'dogfood' push

Richard 12
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Re: I don't think so

Yes, if your employer is buying the phone and paying the contract, you get what you're given.

Although, if they said "We'll pay 50% of your contract costs if you get phone X as your personal phone", that might be tempting.

Finally, "We recommend you get phone X, or your job is at risk" (outright or implied) may be unethical, and even illegal in the EU, but it's permitted in much of the USA.

Personally, I'm guessing they are doing the first one.

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Richard 12
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Re: Don't get it

Nope, it won't.

Tech company employees are not the kinds of people that Facebook is really aimed at.

After all, how many commentards actually like Facebook?

It appears to me that the majority either tolerate it or actively hate it, and commentards are mostly employees of tech companies - that's the nature of the self-selection here.

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GE study pimps ‘industrial Internet’

Richard 12
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Re: Broadcast only while in the air

The funny bit is that Rolls Royce already do this.

They can call up the airline to tell them about increased wear in the engines before the aircraft even lands, so that the airline can plan maintenance and arrange alternate aircraft, routing etc.

I recall hearing somewhere that they have even been the ones to inform air traffic control about aircraft crashes, and their data is often the first the investigators get.

Once again, the Americans are touting something the Brits have done for years as "new".

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Cambridge boffins fear 'Pandora's Unboxing' and RISE of the MACHINES

Richard 12
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Re: Seriously

"Until then, humans will easily outmaneuver, subvert, confuse, deceive and turn into junk (by unscrewing a strategic bolt or nut) any machine intent on world domination"

I wouldn't be too sure about that.

Given enough time to chat with enough people, I'm pretty sure that a human-level AI could convince at least one person with the physical/logical power to either deliberately let it out (believing it to be the "right thing" to do), or do/not do something that permits it to escape.

After all, many people are already being convinced to run arbitrary software that damages them - and what is an AI if not software?

Even if you accept the (possibly wrong) idea that an AI researcher could never be convinced to let the AI out voluntarily, it's pretty plausible, if not likely that an AI bent on escaping could still come up with a way to do so, if given enough computing power.

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Richard 12
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Re: "Nature didn’t anticipate us"

Nature didn't anticipate anything. It can't, it's not an entity.

So I'd call that "Argument from fallacy", or possibly "Argument via lunacy"

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Hefty beauty GAGA gets voluptuous new undercarriage

Richard 12
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Re: Extremely Important - Fit a removable link

Just to clarify - a (reasonably-priced) switch isn't good enough.

Most designs of switch can weld together internally should they get overloaded (eg motor controller failure), also you really want to be able to hold "the keys" in your hand or in a safe box when working on this thing so it's definitely impossible for it to fire up the Spinny-bit of Death (and grass-cutting)

Yours, a former Robot Wars competitor...

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Richard 12
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Extremely Important - Fit a removable link

You really want to be able to physically cut the power from a distance.

Find a sufficiently-high current rating 2 or 4-pole connector, (eg the ones found in forklift trucks) add loop of wire to one sex and wire the other in series with the battery.

(4-pole means it can be an aux. charging socket as well)

Then you can grab that loop and yank it out to immediately shut down the machine should it blow something and jam a motor on, or get bored with grass and go on a rampage.

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Heroic Register reader battles EXPLODING COMPUTER

Richard 12
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For a refund, natch.

No legitimately CE marked PSU could fail like this unless there is a manufacturing defect, so either it's a bad one and you get your money back, or report the supplier to Trading Standards (or local equivalent) for selling dangerous goods with an improper CE mark.

You'll know which when you ask for your money back, and request incidental damage payments as well although I'm not certain of the law in this case.

- Note that it is the importer, not the manufacturer that's responsible for the CE mark.

Even "reputable" PC PSUs are so variable it's crazy - I've seen some dangerously shoddy soldering inside some well-known brands.

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Apple versus Samsung: everything infringes everything

Richard 12
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EU != USA on patents, praise $deity$

As the lawsuits Apple have won (subject to appeal) are in the US, I think the scope was obvious.

In the EU our patent examiners, judges and presumably some lawyers are not as foolish as the US.

The USPTO has plainly taken to approving everything, regardless of prior art or obviousness and letting the lawyers sort it out afterwards: ref. the recent design patent awarded to Apple quite literally and specifically for rounded corners.

In other words, the USPTO is now clearly utterly and irreversibly useless, and needs taking out back and put out of its misery.

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Google, Apple, eBay shouldn't pay taxes - people should pay taxes

Richard 12
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Re: Err

I think that commentard meant "make it impossible to assign IP to a corporation, and make sublicencing illegal".

In other words, the original inventor/creator human(s) can (and often would) license it to their employer for the nominal 1 penny, but that employer cannot then sublicence it to any other entity.

It's an interesting concept, although it will never happen because too many corporations (Disney et al) are dependent on the current way that licences can be bought and sold.

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Asteroid miners hunt for platinum, leave all common sense in glovebox

Richard 12
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Re: Is there any Titanium up there?

Up there it may not be as TiO2, as there's no free oxygen in space it might even be as free metal.

Is Ti able to strip the oxygen from H2O etc at the low temperatures found in space?

I don't know enough chemistry to guess the most likely compounds in a rocky asteroid, and the summaries I remember only listed the elements.

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Warming up the thruster that will ram LOHAN to glorious heights

Richard 12
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Re: Latent heat of freezing?

One of the goals of the heater is to reduce the amount of ice formation, so using ice formation to do it probably isn't such a great idea.

Also, I'm pretty sure the rocket motor (and especially LiPo cells running the electronics and the heater) need to be kept warmer than 0C.

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Super-Earths' magnetic FORCE FIELDS could harbour ALIEN LIFE

Richard 12
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Did he really say that?

It makes him sound rather silly, and I suspect he's probably pretty clever on account of using large numbers of giant frickin' lasers on a daily basis with killing or maiming anyone.

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Pirate cops bust LITTLE GIRL, take her Winnie-the-Pooh laptop

Richard 12
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FAIL

Re: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

No, by definition "theft" is an act that is fundamentally IMPOSSIBLE to do to any form of intellectual property.

IP can only be infringed.

Words are important - you'd find it rather strange if somebody said you were flying a book or eating a bicycle. Saying that copyright infringement is theft makes about as much sense.

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Why did Comet fail? Hint: It wasn't just the credit insurers

Richard 12
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FAIL

Re: The one advantage that physical retail has..immediate availability

Indeed, I see no reason why this kind of "home electricals" shop can't offer "Next day delivery" on pretty much everything, with "Take Home Right Now" on a small selection - clearly marked as such.

Ok, if you live too far away from a major city then next-day can't happen, but you wouldn't need many depots. We do next-day for most of the country on goods of similar sizes from just one depot - ok, higher margin goods but still.

Argos, John Lewis and Amazon do 3-day home delivery on white goods, while holding a much greater range of products. Comet didn't appear to do that.

I rather suspect that Comet didn't actually hold any stock of many of their lines, and was trying to buy from their suppliers after the customer purchase as that's the only way I can think of to justify a 2-week lead time. It was certainly impossible to get a replacement for a failed unit in a reasonable time both occasions it happened to me - ended up with refunds and bought replacements from John Lewis, much faster.

The Comet staff were also really pushy and rude, so I decided never to go back - and I laughed when I saw my local Comet being boarded up earlier this week.

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Human Rights Watch proposes new laws of robotics

Richard 12
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Good point!

Same with tripwire munitions, which are still permitted.

Who said there was a minimum amount of intelligence needed before a "smart" bomb can kill a child?

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Richard 12
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Every single anti-missile system is human-out-of-loop

Unless you count "human turns the system on and off" as human-on-the-loop.

They have to be, because once a missile pops over the horizon there's single-digit seconds before the anti-missile missile must launch or the interception will fail.

While they might have a "do-not-fire" button for a human to hit, if you've got less then five sec to hit it then it won't be pressed - nobody is that alert for more than ten minutes or so - and under 2sec means it can't be pressed.

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.WTF? Governments object to .sucks, .army and .airforce

Richard 12
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Re: Is any of this addressing a real need?

Correct, it's all about the bucket of cash.

Nobody except ICANN wanted this, and the applications were clearly almost entirely defensive.

It will be very interesting when the lawsuits start flying.

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Just what you needed: A cell phone with a remote control. No, really

Richard 12
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Re: Driver vs transducer

Bluetooth "chips" usually include the entire radio, sometimes even the antenna, and if not that's just a PCB trace.

Feed it power and data and you're done.

The elephant in the room is regulatory compliance, as once you go wireless the requirements get more expensive to test, although some jurisdictions let you stretch the bluetooth module certification to include your device and others (CE) you'll probably never get caught at Bluetooth power levels.

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Why do Smart TV UIs suck?

Richard 12
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"More..."

Where do I send my invoice?

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Microsoft building poo-powered carbon-neutral data center

Richard 12
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Re: Really it's *too* easy to scoff about MS and poo.

It's a genuinely good idea.

Not seen one of those in relation to "green" energy for at least a decade.

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Retailers report slow Windows 8 sales, low demand

Richard 12
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How many exercised their downgrade rights?

All of the ones who know that they have those rights and have access to the media needed to do so.

In other words, almost none of them.

I'm not even sure whether the OEM versions of Win8 even offer downgrade rights, as MS have screwed around with these rather a lot in an attempt to stop people doing it.

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How can the BBC be saved from itself without destroying it?

Richard 12
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@iain - go read the actual law

Or even the summary the TV Licence people put up.

Owning a TV is in fact completely irrelevant - you can own a TV and not need a licence, or not own a TV and need a licence.

The two are not directly related.

The licence is needed if you "operate TV broadcast receiving equipment"

That might be the live iPlayer, it might be a TV, and until recently it might have been a Ceefax receiver.

Although owning a TV does make it rather more likely you'll need a licence, they still have to prove you used it for broadcast as opposed to being a dumb monitor.

After all, my TV has never actually used its tuner and isn't attached to the antenna. I actually need a licence for my Freesat box, not for my TV.

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Richard 12
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FAIL

Re: "guess what you still have to pay"

Rubbish.

If you don't watch or record "live broadcast TV" then you don't need to have a TV licence. That's the law.

Yes, you can still use iPlayer Catchup, and you can listen to BBC radio.

I do have a TV licence that I even pay for, and I have absolutely no worries about the odd individual (probably less than a thousand in the country) who only watches iPlayer catchup and listens to BBC radio, no more than I worry about the many thousands of old people who get their TV licence for free.

If you disagree, then fine, write to your MP and suggest that the law should be changed, but there's no need to insult people for obeying the law.

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Survey: Win8 only HALF as popular as Win7 among IT bosses

Richard 12
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So if you change the UI it's usable.

Well, that's nice.

It's also proof of Microsoft's abject fail, because they could have shipped the desktop version with a similar UI to Windows 7, but they actively chose not to.

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Power to the people - if you can find a spare socket

Richard 12
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Re: Rond hole sockets?

Nearly everything in my house needs an Earth.

Almost all electrical equipment needs it - the only things that don't are the "double-insulated" items with the box-in-box logo.

I've also lost count of the number of electric shocks I've had from unearthed equipment that was in otherwise perfect working order - because many PSUs use Earth to drain their suppression caps.

It is a rather unpleasant tingly-buzz, jumping to a killing blow if a single fault occurs.

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Richard 12
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New Zealand plugs are stackable.

Neat idea, but people do tend to take it too far.

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Richard 12
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Most 4-way BS1363 extensions are rated at 10A or less.

Do not uprate their plug fuse, they really can't take 13A.

You do see quite a few that really are rated at only 5A.

Piffling tiny copper busbars inside and thin flex is usual.

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Richard 12
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Re: You should see our data centre

Don't you mean CEEform sockets?

Never heard them called "commando" before though.

Blue ones are 230V, red 400V, yellow 110V to name the three most common.

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Richard 12
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That's a widow maker.

If it passed a single PAT, fire the tester because he or she is utterly incompetent, and a danger to everyone.

A male-to-male power lead should be an instant fail in the visual, you don't need to do anything else to know its a serious fail and immediately destroy it.

Any so-called PAT tester that just plugs the thing into the machine is a waste of space, and by using them your employer is in breach of PUWER, which is actual legislation with criminal penalties.

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Richard 12
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Re: Adaptors.

Great, so he couldn't be bothered to buy an adapter in the airport at either end, so risked burning down the building.

Then compounded it buy yanking on the wire, which you NEVER do under any circumstances whatsoever, because there's a reasonable chance of what he did happening, along with a much bigger chance of damaging the plug.

There's a reason UK plugs have the wire out of the bottom - it's so pulling on the wire doesn't pull out the plug, so people don't try.

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Should Microsoft merge Office into Windows - or snap it off?

Richard 12
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Oh come on, Access is useful

It's perfectly adequate for prototyping DB applications, teaching the basics of relational databases, and for single-user databases - where it's orders of magnitude better than Excel.

The issues arise when people forget it's just a prototype and try to build it up into a multi-user system instead of migrating it.

That's when you get a monstrosity.

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Richard 12
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Re: 'data' != valuable

Most of that data isn't even valuable to the entity who created it!

Even those enamoured of "big data" acknowledge this, hence most of the point of the big data tools is boiling down crazy amounts of data into tiny nibbles of potentially useful information.

Even outside of that, a log file is useless >99.9% of the time, only becoming useful on rare occasions to figure out what went wrong.

The useful stuff is in emails, the important stuff is generally in Word and Excel documents, maybe PDF-d once ready for publication.

- It's very common to bash something out over IM and email, then "write it up" in Word.

Back at the article - it doesn't matter whether MS want to merge Office and Windows together, because if they do that on the desktop they'll be immediately done for abuse of monopoly.

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Humans becoming steadily STUPIDER, says brainiac boffin

Richard 12
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@Robert Long

True, and the morality of this remains both debatable and highly contentious.

Either way, it's an extremely recent societal change and evolution doesn't work on the timescale of individual lifetimes, it takes quite a few Grandfathers.

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