* Posts by Richard 12

1678 posts • joined 16 Jun 2009

We need to talk about SPEAKERS: Sorry, 'audiophiles', only IT will break the sound barrier

Richard 12
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Re: The ear can't hear square waves.

There is a fair bit of localised processing in the ear, both mechanically and hydraulically in the fluid-canals, and then 'traditionally' within the neural nets that further pre-process the signals from the sensory hairs before going to the brain.

There's a heck of a lot of physically-distributed processing in an animal - for an obvious extreme example, the patellar reflex does not involve the brain at all.

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British and European data cops probe Facebook user-manipulation scandal

Richard 12
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FAIL

Re: Did you notice...

Did you know that El Reg's Terms of Service allow the SPB to send your pets into space?*

It's their platform, their rules, they can do whatever they want with it.

Just because you own the platform doesn't mean you can do what you want with the users of said platform. There are laws governing what you can and cannot do.

* They don't, but there's nothing stopping them putting that clause in if they felt like it. It still wouldn't allow them to do it.

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Richard 12
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Re: Did you notice...

Doesn't matter whether he proved anything or not, they should not have done it at all.

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Virgin Media struck dumb by NATIONWIDE DNS outage

Richard 12
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You can't do it anyway.

The Virgin-provided routers do not expose options to do that anyway, neither client-side (internal DHCP) nor router-side.

Many devices don't expose this setting, either expecting the DHCP server to properly work or even assuming the Gateway is the DNS.

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Richard 12
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The Hub's not so "Super"

Annoyingly there is no way to change the Superhub's DNS settings, so I could only fix the PCs and not my wife's phone or the set-top box.

I spent 40 minutes on hold to find that out nugget of information.

At least "Cable Modem mode" is easy to set up, just not something I felt like doing during an outage.

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Remaining Snowden docs will be released to avert 'unspecified US war' – ‪Cryptome‬

Richard 12
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Re: Erm, no

Phrased that badly - the first is an example of something that probably shouldn't ever be published and the second an example of something that must be published - and will be important forever.

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Richard 12
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Erm, no

A list of informants names and addresses could still put them in danger many decades in the future, so should never be published.

Proof that the NSA was spying on the leaders of friendly nations would still be relevant for as long as people identify with those nations - which is longer than the nation itself continues to exist.

If proof was published showing that the French secret service had detailed knowledge of everything most US citizens were doing last decade, would they be happy about it?

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Facebook: Yes, we made you SAD on PURPOSE... for your own good

Richard 12
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Re: Just digging themselves into a deeper hole

Adverts are generally obviously trying to sell something.

Most people are clearly ok with seeing adverts a lot of the time, or even deliberately seeking out an advert-laden medium as they watch commercial TV.

However, this is manipulating the users by artificially changing the content, hiding posts which they probably will have wanted to see.

It's like broadcasting two versions of Corrie - one where everything went wrong for the characters and one where everything went right, and seeing if it made the viewers happy or sad without their knowledge

- Except that a week of a soap opera without disaster for someone would be suspicious in itself, which isn't true of Facebook.

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Richard 12
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This will have hurt people

It may even have provoked a couple of suicides.

It doesn't matter whether the study displayed negative posts, only that it hid them.

If you posted a "cry for help" on Facebook and your friends didn't answer, instead they continued to post inanities, then what?

You don't know that Facebook deliberately hid it from them.

This would never have got past a reasonable ethics committee, because you have to inform the subjects that they are part of a trial and allow them to withdraw if they don't want to be part of it.

"Assumed consent" is bollocks, pure and simple.

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Facebook 'manipulated' 700k users' feelings in SECRET EXPERIMENT

Richard 12
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Re: A couple of simple tricks:

For some reason, many Facebook settings only work for a few days before mysteriously resetting to defaults.

The Newsfeed settings vanish so quickly that I don't use it at all anymore.

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USB charger is prime suspect in death of Australian woman

Richard 12
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Boffin

@JeffyPoooh - "China Export" was a joke. It's not a real thing.

If you "make an item available for sale" in the EU, it must meet the requirements spelled out in the appropriate EU standards.

If you make it commercially available (ie selling it in shops), the entity making it available must affix the CE mark, and take personal responsibility for it meeting the appropriate regulations. This is usually either the importer (eg Tesco) or the manufacturer (eg Apple).

If it's a prototype, one-off or other very limited-run item, (eg custom-built in your shed for money) you don't have to affix a CE mark, but you do still have to make a "best effort" to meet the requirements.

It's just that an enforcement on a shed-built device wouldn't expect you to have done the more expensive testing, like EMC. They would still expect you to have followed the easily-checked requirements, like creepage, clearance, use of appropriate safety components, earthing metal cases, avoiding finger traps etc, and failing to do so could result in prosecution.

It doesn't matter if either of the above affixes a mark that looks like a CE mark but claims it meant something else - if the item doesn't meet the appropriate requirements, they have broken the law.

And if they do affix something that looks like the CE mark but claim it meant something else, they would immediately get done for "passing off", regardless of whether the device itself was bad.

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Richard 12
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Re: RCD

Yes, a Type A or B 30mA RCD would probably have saved her life.

She would still have got a very nasty shock, it just wouldn't have lasted for as long. One hopes that it would be short enough duration not to kill.

Here's a YouTube video that shows why these s****y little USB chargers are so bloody dangerous - published UK mere days before this tragic event:

The cheap s****y pink USB charger

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Richard 12
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Sadly, I am not surprised this happened

Having taken the covers off a few of these USB chargers, the "Oh my god this is going to kill somebody" has passed my lips more than once.

Maybe UK Trading Standards will now pay more attention to fake and dangerous electricals, instead of the pudding about with handbags that they seem so keen on.

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BOFH: You can take our lives, but you'll never take OUR MACROS

Richard 12
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Re: Single user PC database might be OK

I've found Access to be quite useful.

1) Get sent the data as stack of Excel spreadsheets

2) Import that data and build quick'n'dirty mockup in Access. Get most of the business logic agreed

3) Port to another database and front end

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Amazon offers Blighty's publishing industry 'assisted suicide'

Richard 12
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Anti-trust suit inbound...

Amazon also wants to dictate the price for the books industry-wide by forbidding suppliers from offering rival retailers lower prices.

I'm no lawyer, but that sounds very, very similar to the "most favoured nation" clause that got Apple into trouble over in the US.

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TIME TRAVEL TEST finds black holes needed to make photons flit

Richard 12
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So that's how Heisenberg compensators work

All we need now is a few CTCs and bingo, teleportation!

Of things you can stick well within the high-stress tidal areas of black holes.

We can teleport spaghetti!

Or rather, anything we teleport becomes spaghetti, just don't tell the test subject...

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YouTube in shock indie music nuke: We all feel a little less worthy today

Richard 12
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90% of anything is crap

It might even be more than 90%

Most of the music, books, games, software etc ever made are crap.

The fun part is that some of what I consider to be crap, someone else thinks is good.

As record labels are obviously "not me", and big labels contain large numbers of these "other people", you can't assume that they will find the good stuff.

A large label will try to pick the 0.1% that is most likely not to sit in most peoples "crap" set, but that isn't the same as picking most people's "really good"

The way to find "really good" is to find a few pundits who come close to not being "not you", and take their advice - and the pundits will do the same.

This method is also broken.

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British Gas Twitter account hijacked by mystery phishermen

Richard 12
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They aren't a national utility

British Gas is one of several private energy suppliers who perform billing and energy price abitrage services.

In this case they also do some gas extraction and home and commercial services such as plumbing and electrical installation, including service contracts.

I believe they are also a DynoRod reseller. They certainly have fingers in many pies!

The actual distribution of gas and electricity is done by National Grid.

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Traffic lights, fridges and how they've all got it in for us

Richard 12
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Boffin

Re: ...of the term "the Internet of Things"

You want a DMX Shock Collar (PDF)

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Richard 12
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FAIL

Re: Don't connect them to the internet directly

Lyne also tested a number of faults in home automation systems, using existing research. He says he managed to cause desk lamps to explode by exploiting weak control channels in power devices.

That one is definitely false. A desk-lamp sized power-control device simply cannot do that, no matter what commands you give it.

The absolute worst you can do is flash it as fast as the underlying power controller can do. In some cases that'll reduce the life of the lamp, but it can't explode because electricity does not work that way.

The only thing I can think of is perhaps he dimmed a non-dimmable transformer. That's no different to saying you "hacked" a diesel car by getting the owner to fill it with petrol.

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AMD details aggressive power-efficiency goal: 25X boost by 2020

Richard 12
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Re: When does it stop being the GPU?

A GPU is optimised for "Do one identical action to thousands of independent datasets"

A CPU is optimised for "Do thousands of different actions"

It's the difference between very large numbers of rather simple processors (GPU) and small numbers of very powerful processors (CPU).

Many common tasks would be ungodly slow on a GPU, and many are ungodly slow on a CPU.

There will always be a need for a mix of technologies.

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Adobe all smiles as beret bods spaff cash on non-cloud Creative Suite

Richard 12
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You what!??

What it DOESN'T tell you, however is that it needs to check in on a SPECIFIC day - the 23rd day of your monthly license period. It will then keep trying for 7 days (bringing it to the end of the 30-day cycle) and, if it hasn't been able to contact the internet, you get 5 days of grace and then BAM - no more Photoshop for you.

Adobe, you morons! That turns the Creative Cloud from an annoyance into something that many of your customers simply cannot use at all!

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Canada to Google: You can't have your borderless cake and eat it too

Richard 12
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Indeed.

Somebody is hosting that site, and they are either Datalink or somebody paid by Datalink.

Thus taking money from Datalink will shut it down.

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Elon Musk: Just watch me – I'll put HUMAN BOOTS on Mars by 2026

Richard 12
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Re: That about wraps it up for SpaceX

Rocket science is easy.

It's rocket engineering that's difficult, and right now the only people doing it are SpaceX, the ESA (Ariane) and the Russians (Soyuz and ULA).

If the engineering was that easy, why are the ULA buying their engines from Russia?

Nobody else is making the size of rocket engine needed to put tonnes into orbit.

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Nokia paid off extortionist in 2007: Finnish TV

Richard 12
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Re: Dane-geld

It sounds like that was the plan, but the cops screwed it up.

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Internet of Things fridges? Pfft. So how does my milk carton know when it's empty?

Richard 12
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Re: Falling costs anyone?

RFID tags will always cost significantly more than barcodes.

Barcodes on packaged goods cost exactly zero pence per unit, as you're printing the packaging anyway and they only need one colour.

The two things an RFID can give you that a barcode doesn't are the ability to read without line-of-sight, and the ability to write.

Requiring line-of-sight is not expensive, and for a sell-once product, the ability to write to the tag is meaningless.

If you have expensive goods, RFID makes good sense, because you can spot the goods leaving the store. If you hire them out several times, even better - eg my local library does that with the books.

So the only useful bonus of RFID is the idea of a shop where you walk in, grab the things you need and walk straight out and get automatically billed.

In practice, this wouldn't save enough money to be cost effective for the kind of tiny-margin, low-cost goods you get from the staple-foods section of a supermarket.

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Richard 12
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Boffin

Re: The internet of fridges

No RFID is completely and totally stupid for this.

The only things you need for this are much, much cheaper and are already used in some food dispensers and also the pick'n'place machines that made the PCBs in the computing equipment you're using to read this.

♳ Every shelf has an array of weight sensors.

♴ The fridge has an array of relatively high resolution cameras watching the shelves from several angles.

♵ Tracked foodstuff item packaging has a 2D barcode printed on it.

♶ The fridge then uses the cameras and 2D barcodes to identify the foodstuff, use-by date and 'full' and 'empty' weights of each item.

♷ The array of weight sensors then allows the fridge to figure out whether a given container is nearly empty, and the historical database indicates when a given type of item has gone completely.

In theory the existing 1D barcodes that are already on almost everything give nearly enough information - they identify rough product groups (not specific products as UPCs are expensive), which is probably good enough for most purposes as "500ml Muller yogurt" is usually enough, even if you don't know the flavour.

They don't include the use-by dates though.

(Excessively ornate bulletpoints included because the whole idea is excessively ornate)

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TIME TRAVELLERS needed to secure Windows 7

Richard 12
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It must be deliberate

I mean, making it progressively more difficult to install "old" versions of their operating system is a great way to push people towards their newest one.

Or at least it would be if the newest wasn't a pile of stinking tripe.

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Yet another reason to skip commercials: Microsoft ad TURNS ON your Xbox One

Richard 12
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Re: Something for the next firmware update

Won't work, because ultrasound isn't broadcastable and even if it were, TV speakers can't make it.

TV broadcasting standards limit the range of colours and sound frequencies to a rather small range, considerably smaller than a young human can see and hear.

They could do a piercing whistle, except they'd then be thrown off the networks for breaching other rules.

There's a reason why the signals to indicate advert insertion times used to be visual - ever notice black and white flashing dots before an ad break?

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Google calls on carriers to craft IoT plans

Richard 12
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Re: Will it scale?

No, there is no need for much, if any additional radio or data capacity.

Compare with Amazon Whispernet,upon which I'm writing this.

IoT devices should connect once or twice a day at most and send 100kB at most -probably much less. They are not always-on!

There is the addressing issue, but that should be easiy solved as yes, these devices do not need a phone number, merely a SIM/IMEI

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Ofcom's campaign against termination rates continues

Richard 12
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Thumb Up

Re: Noooo!

No, this is a great thing.

Most landlines don't offer any way of identifying the caller beforehand, while every mobile phone has "Caller ID".

Almost nobody answers an unexpected "number withheld" call, thus cold-callers will have to start providing a caller-id, making them easier to trace. Furthermore, if they spoof the ID of another company, they can be done for fraud.

And if they start calling too much, somebody will make an app to blackhole them. Or toy with them...

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Devs get first look at next Visual Studio

Richard 12
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Re: Compiler as a service?

Hasn't CLANG been doing that since inception?

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Glassholes beware: This guy's got your number

Richard 12
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Re: Unlikely..

And all radio jamming devices are absolutely and definitively illegal to operate throughout the EU, and most other countries.

Technically they usually aren't illegal to own but turning them on will land you in court.

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Samsung, Chipzilla in 4K monitor price cut pact

Richard 12
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Quiet you!

I'd really like decently high resolution monitors on my computers, and if Intel are willing to bankroll Samsung to bring the price down to an affordable level I'm happy to let them think it'll mean buying better Intelgrated, rather than a better GPU.

Sssh!

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Android is a BURNING 'hellstew' of malware, cackles Apple's Cook

Richard 12
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I have to reboot my iPhone quite often

It regularly decides that the "telephone" function is beyond its ken, and the only way to change it from being a very small WiFi iPad into a telephone again is to power off, wait then power it back on again.

This happens at least once a month, possibly more often.

I'm not alone, it does seem that iPhones genuinely do have unstable GSM radios.

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Quantum teleportation gets reliable at Delft

Richard 12
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Re: Star Trek Transporter

It was "invented" as a plot device to avoid spending many minutes every episode tediously getting onto, off and flying a shuttle craft every time they wanted to get the characters on or off the spaceship.

It's a time saving device.

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FORGET OUR PAST, 12,000 Europeans implore Google

Richard 12
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But it'll be well-hidden

People will only be able to find it if they already know where to look.

Or if they use Bing.

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Facebook wants MORE EXPLICIT SHARING

Richard 12
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Now if they can only make it usable

And by that I mean chronological.

I, like most semi-sane people, only use Facebook to keep up with people I actually know.

Having the posts in such a random order means I often miss important things, like "X just died, funeral next Wed" under the deluge of old posts that leap to the top for no reason whatsoever.

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Boeing CEO says no more 'moonshots' after 787 Dreamliner ordeal

Richard 12
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Re: Boeing is not too bad at moonshots...

It's easy when somebody else is paying the bill no-questions-asked. You can do whatever you like because it really doesn't matter - the company will not get in trouble no matter what you spend.

That's why Government projects always go over budget and are always late.

Budgets only get proper control when the risk is on the company itself, and overspend reduces its bottom line profit rather than increasing it.

So no, the B29 isn't comparable.

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You know all those resources we're about to run out of? No, we aren't

Richard 12
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Boffin

Re: Ahem. @ BlueGreen

No magic is needed.

Unlike previous centuries, the replacements for coal, oil and gas are already clearly visible on the horizon.

Nuclear fission already works, and nuclear fusion is relatively close - we know how to make that work, but can't scale it up yet. That's coal replaced - and we could do that today if we wished.

Many energy uses of oil and gas are already easily replaceable by electricity - heat pumps, trains and trolleybuses. Other forms of transport will still need some form of oil, and battery technology is unlikely to change that, due to the energy density needed for lorries, aircraft and shipping.

Various forms of solar power already work but are too low efficacy to be economically viable, this can also change if funding switches away from the current insane subsidies for solar PV across to actual research into various forms of solar power.

- One interesting angle of solar power research is the engineered microbes that use photosynthesis to create artificial oil and gas. It is likely that one or more of those could be scaled up, so that's oil & gas replaced.

Even solar PV could be improved, along with the HVDC interconnects needed to get power from the good places to put solar PV and solar furnaces to the locations where the power is needed.

It is true that there will almost certainly be an energy crisis very soon, however it will be caused by the politics that have made it impossible to build appropriate generation capacity, and the decision to subsidise building and operating large numbers of white elephant installations of technology that simply isn't ready yet, rather than the research and development that would make some of them economically viable.

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BRITS: Wanna know how late your train is? Now you can slurp straight from the source for free

Richard 12
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Facepalm

Re: Good Thing (TM)

Indeed, it's cheaper to drive as long as you buy the car - the purchase price is amortised very quickly. (Car hire is a lot more expensive.)

A lot of the time it's cheaper to fly than to take a long-distance train.

London to Edinburgh/Glasgow flights are usually cheaper and always take less time (including check-in).

The train only wins if you need a long taxi ride from an airport and for some reason don't need a taxi ride if you go by train.

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BEAM ME UP SCOTTY: Boffins to turn PURE LIGHT into MATTER

Richard 12
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Boffin

Re: Stop using Boffin's puhlease

No, no the Register has proper journalists who are careful to only Boffinry to describe actual science.

The Dail Mail, Fox News etc tend to report on trick-cyclists as if they were actual boffins.

Don't confuse it with boffo though, that's neither boffinry nor trick-cycling.

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Richard 12
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Boffin

Yes, matter is hammers and nails and cars

There is also anti-matter, which is exactly* like matter but opposite*, and the anti-matter version of an electron is a positron.

If a positron touches* an electron, both are destroyed* in a burst of photons.

The proposed experiment is to do the opposite - take a burst of photons* and turn it into a positron and an electron.

The smallest stable* type of matter is an electron, so should be easiest to make. Bigger types of matter will be much harder to make.

As to "is that one of those physics things?" - Everything is physics. Dropping a hammer on your foot is physics in action.

* This is a lie-to-children. It's more complicated than that.

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Chap rebuilds BBC Micro in JavaScript

Richard 12
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Re: Then again

I have two and a half.

One working Model B, a working Master and a 'break up for spares' Model B.

If I remember correctly, the dead B had a failed PSU (very common) and dodgy keyboard, probably some other faults as well but I forget.

That said, I haven't actually powered either of them up for ...some... years, so I might actually have three break-up-for-spares now.

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Cloud computing is FAIL and here’s why

Richard 12
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Facepalm

Re: You've got it all wrong

Blaming the cloud doesn't get the bills paid.

Ask the Daily Mail how much money they lost due to being unable to publish one of their publications.

How many projects were late because they'd just got back from the field and Adobe would not allow them to use their paid-for software until Adobe's servers came back up?

How many other projects would have been delayed if this had happened at an inopportune moment?

How much compensation are Adobe paying out to cover this loss of business?

How many lawsuits will be started to recover this?

It was obvious that something like this was going to happen from the moment Adobe announced this new business model, and now that the first failure has happened, businesses are going to be scrutinising their SLAs and many will realise that using Adobe is a risk they cannot afford to take.

It's just incredibly bad business to be utterly reliant on a single-source-supplier who can just stop all your work at any time without any notice.

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Apple updates OS X Mavericks, iTunes, Podcasts for iOS

Richard 12
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Played episodes can now be automatically deleted?

Great, so they've actually completely destroyed an important feature I was using, and called that a "new" feature.

There was an option "Episodes To Keep" in several previous versions, which had values including "All", "last 5" and "Only keep unplayed", where it would delete episodes sometime after playing them.

The "new" one has only got the options "All" and "Unplayed".

Thus isn't a new feature, it's removing choice.

If only they'd fix the things that are actually broken instead of removing existing, working and useful features.

I suppose I should expect that of Apple though, they really are a "You shall comply" company.

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

Richard 12
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Re: an endless spiral of bad choices here

It's not controlled airspace.

Controlled airspace has a top, once you get up that high you're on your own.

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Amazon granted patent for taking photos against a white background – seriously

Richard 12
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Re: If you read it

So the thing my camera does, the one I bought a decade ago?

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How Google's Android Silver could become 'Wintel for phones'

Richard 12
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You've got it the wrong way around

It's "Use stock without any overlay changes and Google will pay some of your marketing costs"

So not only do you spend less on R&D to create an (almost always) trashy interface overlay that most people dislike, you get some extra cash.

Bad for the companies who were making a good overlay as they now have a hard choice to make, but good for everyone else as there is a direct incentive not to screw around with the interface.

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

Richard 12
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Mushroom

You think it's bad in journalism?

Try the performing arts. Too many productions expect most of the people to work for free.

The worst case is the chorus.

Everybody expects dancers to dance for free. You know, because dancing's only "fun" and not "real work". Never mind the gruelling hours, the risk of injury, and the years and decades of continuous training...

Especially the promoters for big names who are raking in millions, because "exposure" is apparently enough to put food on the table.

- For example, Kylie Minogue's production team decided they'd pay the dancers nothing because "exposure".

- Don't blame Kylie, the big name knows nothing of the contracts and terms of work for the cast and crew. She is reported to be very upset at this!

Then there's all the smaller productions where half the cast and crew are expected to work for free, either outright or effectively due to excessive hours and unpaid expenses, the others (including some pretty big events and tours) where invoices are never paid (and the few where the producer never intended to pay them either) etc...

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