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* Posts by Richard 12

1543 posts • joined 16 Jun 2009

Happy 50th birthday, Compact Cassette: How it struck a chord for millions

Richard 12
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*Ahem*

Windows and Linux recording software can use the live audio output of the PC as the recording source, no cables required. Still digital all the way as it's a function of the audio CODEC chipset.

Macs probably do the same but I don't have one.

(Yes, I am saying that all DRM ever applied to music is completely and utterly incapable of doing what it's designed to. When Bob, Eve and Mallory are the same entity, what does one expect?)

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Microsoft cans three 'pinnacle' certifications, sparking user fury

Richard 12
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Re: Certification devalued

I'd agree if it was the bottom end they were scrapping.

However, that bottom end of "You turned up, have a cert." is staying.

It's the top end that's being killed - the ones who are few in number and peer-reviewed, so they have to be convincing (if not actually good) enough for their competitors to acknowledge that they should be in the club.

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Hey, Bill Gates! We've found 14 IT HOTSHOTS to be the next Steve Ballmer

Richard 12
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Re: Money men

If they get one of those financial-manipulators, MS will have ceased to be within a decade.

They have a pretty big cash pile, but without compelling product they'll burn it very quickly.

That's been Ballmers problem - he's burnt a few billion in the last few years, and you simply can't keep doing that.

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Happy birthday MIDI 1.0: Getting pop stars wired for 30 years

Richard 12
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Boffin

Re: One really cool feature...

The ANSI E1.11 - DMX512A standard requires the receiving circuit to be electrically isolated, and has done since 1990. IIRC, only the original 1986 version of the standard didn't require it, but did recommend it.

See sections 4.6, 5.7 and Figure 3. (There may be an RF bypass capacitor to Chassis, but nothing else.)

There is some very old (pre-1990) reputable kit without it, but nothing reputable designed since 1990.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of cheapskate pieces of **** which use an explicitly disallowed receiver circuit which breaks that isolation, either to save ~5p on 5V-ISO and opto or because they have never actually read any of the standard. I'm guessing the latter, as there's been a lot of inaccurate or outright wrong info on the Internet over the years. (Including some app notes with firmware (PIC) that get it wrong.)

This kind of equipment can usually be identified by the 3-pin XLR connector labelled "DMX", which is also specifically prohibited by the standard.

The standard is currently available for free from PLASA Technical Standards Program.

The reason MIDI uses current loop and DMX512A doesn't is that MIDI is a point-to-point (daisychaining is not recommended, but works for very short runs), while DMX512A is 31-receiver multidrop over very long (500m) runs where the devices could be a long distance from each other.

Current loop doesn't work for a long multidrop run as the resistance of the cable means the current vanishes into the first couple of receivers.

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Top 10 Steve Ballmer quotes: '%#&@!!' and so much more

Richard 12
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Developers Developers...

That was and is true.

Making Windows easy to develop for is what made Windows in the first place. Without that it'd be a mere footnote in history.

Failing to do that is part of what killed Windows Mobile (the other being it was awful) and what's killing Windows 8, damaging 8.1 before launch and is the main reason Windows Phone 7 tanked utterly and why Windows Phone 8 is not doing well.

A lack of applications will always damage a consumer computing platform, a lack of support for developers kills it stone dead.

In the last few years MS has been pissing off developers by doing practically everything wrong.

The new guy had better dance!

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Delta Air Lines makes mass Windows Phone 8, Lumia 820 buy

Richard 12
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No, it'll be about 2000 devices at most.

If they were even considering providing them to a significant number of aircrew as a company phone, that would have been the headline, not "in-flight purchases".

The phones will be provided per-aircraft, there will be at least two per aircraft but likely no more than four even on the biggest jets.

One main and one spare on the small aircraft, and two per aisle at most on the big ones.

Plus a few spares on the ground at hub airports.

They'll want the spares because if none of the device on a given flight are working they can't sell anything.

How many tills does a plane need?

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Marissa Mayer causes controversy after KEEPING HER KIT ON

Richard 12
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FAIL

Re: Awkward

The legs don't match with either the torso or the lounger.

That's why it's firmly in Uncanny Valley.

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Guardian lets UK spooks trash 'Snowden files' PCs to make them feel better

Richard 12
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FAIL

Your grandfather would definitely have been against it, don't you worry.

If nothing else, it's a bloody stupid thing to do.

Radio interception worked because neither end knew whether GCHQ was listening in - they might suspect, but they did not know.

Marching in at all defeats the point.

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Richard 12
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Angel

Re: DeMockRacy

Vote Monster Raving Loony!

It's the only way to get a sane Government.

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Richard 12
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Facepalm

Re: Tantrum

It sounds absolutely ridiculous - and that's why I believe it's true.

You wouldn't try making this up, you'd invent something much less preposterous.

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Green German gov battles to keep fossil powerplants running

Richard 12
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FAIL

Enough empty myths already

Long term disposal was solved decades ago.

The problem is the "green" activists who refuse point blank to allow the disposal sites to be built, even though the local population want them.

- ref. Sellafield/Windscale.

Nuclear has little to no subsidy - though it is hard to calculate, it's pretty much zero for new plant. (Old plant was subsidised by the military for obvious reasons).

Wind has a massive subsidy and solar has an IMMENSE subsidy - yet both of those added together made up only 14.5% of German electricity during the first half of 2012.*

In 2011, nuclear was 23%. Even after the eight plants were shut down it was still more than wind & solar put together.

* Electricity - Renewable Energies in the first half of 2012

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Richard 12
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WTF?

Re: The answer is obvious...

Nope, this should be a solved problem, but the Greenies refuse point blank to allow anything other than their current mania. Right now they only want Wind and Solar - everything else is the work of the Devil and Cannot Be Permitted.

The problem is the idiot greenies and BANANAs* who simply aren't interested in solutions, and are intent on shouting down every single attempt at actual solutions because they don't precisely match their fatally flawed preconceptions - flawed because none of them have any idea what "national scale" actually means.

They simply aren't interested in a reasoned discussion of "Here is the problem, what solutions can we afford, how can we move towards the final goal without bankruptcy and death?", they are simply Against. Against what? Well, everything.

The problem of Low-Emissions electricity supply in Europe is relatively easy to solve, if we actually wished to do so. It looks very much like our current mix, just replacing the coal with nuclear. Simples.

Or at least it would be if we'd started building them a few years ago. Now, we're simply utterly screwed.

* Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything

Oh yes, Solar-Electric has no place at all in northern Europe. The Sun doth not shine enough here.

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Google goes dark for 2 minutes, kills 40% of world's net traffic

Richard 12
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Nah, Outlooks down most days

Falls over more often than a drunkard in high heels on a Saturday night.

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Richard 12
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Isn't this only the second time Google has gone down?

I mean ever.

But I can well believe the 40% of traffic - Youtube alone is probably most of that.

On top of that, a lot of applications poke Google.com to determine if they've got Internet access or not - because they are quite simply the world-wide server farm that's least likely to have gone offline.

Along with every other commentard, I would really, really like to know what happened - and how they fixed it so fast. Most of the other "cloudy" services don't appear to have even realised they're down in the time it took Google to bring it back up.

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Fear the JOBZILLA! 150ft STATUE of Steve planned 'lest fanbois forget'

Richard 12
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What's so special about him?

While Gates might deserve a statue for his charity work, should he for his computing work?

Does Ballmer?

Jobs was just a marketing CEO. A good one, but that's it.

This is the product of a crazy fandom, frankly I find it creepy.

Also, $50k doesn't get you a public statue. It gets you a custom mannequin, only suitable for protected indoor display.

A public statue has to survive the weather - and the traffic cone on its head!

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NSA coughs to 1000s of unlawful acts of snooping on US soil since 2008

Richard 12
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Coat

Re: mea culpa

We have the Monster Raving Loony Party!

Sanest guys in politics.

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OWN GOAL! 100s of websites blocked after UK Premier League drops ball

Richard 12
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Boffin

The judge can only decide based upon the evidence laid before the Court and the relevant law. They're not allowed to use other information.

An entity placing evidence before the Court that it knows or could be reasonably expected to know to be false or is deliberately misleading is committing an offence.

So they should certainly be tried for it, because they specifically said that there wouldn't be collateral damage. Thus they either lied or are simply idiots.

It would be interesting to see a case where the only defence is "We're complete and total idiots and you should never listen to anything we say ever again."

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'Database failure ate my data' – Salesforce customer

Richard 12
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Re: You certainly don't mean an "uptime of *30* years"

Not necessarily.

A good design allows bits of the server(s) to be removed for inspection, repair and upgrade while the service is running, without ever taking the service as a whole down.

Eg dual-or-more PSUs, pull one, check it over, replace, pull other etc. Same with critical software components.

Mainframes are designed so you can do that, and you can do it with commodity-hardware as well.

Costs a lot though.

- And why would you even have a clock battery anyway? That's for keeping the clock going when the machine is off, and it never turns off!

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Peak Apple? HOGWASH! Apple is 'extremely undervalued,' says Icahn

Richard 12
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Paris Hilton

Reality distortion fields take a while to collapse

To be more specific, Cook didn't make any real decisions in the first few months after Jobs died because the forward planning was already there, he just needed to carry it out.

That's why so many new CEOs start with a massive restructuring - it's to stamp their predecessor into the mud and get people to think any success is purely down to them and not the predecessor. And any failure must be their predecessor's fault, of course!

Now that most of Jobs' plans have already been done or deemed irrelevant in the current market, Cook is on his own.

Apple have a huge cash pile but not really much else - rather like Microsoft under Ballmer. That much cash goes a long way, down the drain or otherwise.

They're also very behind on technology and are fighting several ridiculous legal battles.

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Philips' smart lights left in the dark by dumb security

Richard 12
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Re: Frankly I'm surprised it had any security at all

In this case it's that gateway that was cracked.

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Chrome, Firefox blab your passwords in a just few clicks: Shrug, wary or kill?

Richard 12
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RTFP

"As secure as the OS"

No more, no less.

If you are an admin or get root over a computer then you can do whatever you like and nothing whatsoever is going to stop you.

That's what the word "Administrator" means.

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Richard 12
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FAIL

Re: Firefox already does what he asked

If they've got to my desktop then they can copy the browser's keystore and upload it somewhere to crack at leisure - how do you propose stopping that?

I lock my desktop when I leave it. Very simple solution, and as secure as the OS.

That said, how big is the set of people who may attempt or gain physical access to steal data?

A corporate machine may be worth an attacker trying for physical access due to the nature of the sensitive data, a personal one probably isn't.

I don't use my corporate machine for personal stuff, and I trust that our IT dept have put in place reasonable protections given the value the company places on the data I have.

At home, the only miscreant who might want my PC is going to smash it or sell it. He's not going to go after the data quick enough for any saved passwords to be worth anything.

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Richard 12
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Firefox already does what he asked

Optionally, anyway. I don't use the master password though, because if someone has got to my desktop it's too late anyway.

To be honest, I think this is a good feature.

Lots of people have more than one device now, and damn near every website wants a username and password just to look at the weather or other stupid things that shouldn't even have a login, let alone credentials.

A simple way to find out what you used so you can type it into A N Other device is necessary.

All the major browsers ask before saving login credentials as well, with the warning "don't do this on a shared computer"

So I'm with Google here.

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Despite Microsoft Surface RT debacle, second-gen model in the works

Richard 12
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Re: Outlook filters? Hah!

So where are these "search folders"?

I haven't found any indication of them in the years I've been using Outlook, so they must be very well hidden.

If they really are like Gmail labels (an item can be un/assigned to one or many both manually and automatically) and show up like that on my mobile device, then I'd love to use them.

If they're anything like Outlook's abysmal search function, I don't think I will!

Outlook's real killer feature is the shared and status-only-shared calendars. Unfortunately for Microsoft, those are also the thing most easily copied into cloud services.

These days a lot of my friends organise their private lives using Google's online calendar.

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Richard 12
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Outlook filters? Hah!

Outlook's mail filters and rules are hideous, though did get slightly better with recent versions because "and stop" is finally turned on by default when making new rules.

- I still can't figure out why my rules behave differently from what the order and content seems to say, and there is no way to test a rule other than to run it, then you can't revert it to try again...

Gmail does it much better - if only because it shows you example emails that will get picked up by the filter.

Editing rules is horrible on them both because their interfaces are really poor once you have more than 10 or so, but at least gmail helps you more when making them.

Plus the whole concept of email "folders" is flawed. Many emails fit in many folders - which one do I put it in? Labels make far more sense because it can go in all appropriate labels.

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End of an era as Firefox bins 'blink' tag

Richard 12
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Re: "Enable JavaScript" preference checkbox has been removed

Blimey!

Alex Limi is a frightening UX designer. His entire approach seems to be "This setting might confuse, therefore it must be removed and set to the value Alex Limi wants. All our users are idiots and cannot ever learn anything."

He's not even considering the approach of "Let's explain it better, and if it does break something, immediately show the user where to go to fix it. Maybe even give them a button right there".

Teach the user. Explain things. The approach "Don't worry your pretty little head about it" is what Apple are good at. Nobody else should try because one of the reasons for not going Apple is to avoid that approach.

He's ignoring where Firefox got its users. Most are semi-technical, the majority chose it because of the customisability. Why should I download and run an add-on simply to turn something on or off when there used to be a perfectly good UX tickybox that did it? Maybe I got the browser entirely because of the tickybox you want to take away?

Every single example he gave has very good reasons for existing, and burying them in about:config simply turns the setting from "easily visible but perhaps not explained well" to "invisible, and completely unexplained"

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Brit Skylon spaceplane moves closer to lift-off

Richard 12
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Facepalm

Re: I forsee a teensy problemette...

So it does, I'd got that confused with the Mach 5.5 bit.

That makes the re-use of the transfer tug considerably easier as it could be retrieved in the same mission, assuming the Skylon can stay on-orbit for long enough.

They intend to use the aeroshell itself as the heatshield, coupled with refrigeration using the last bit of cryogenic hydrogen.

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Richard 12
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Boffin

Re: Frisbee time

I disagree.

The engines become the heaviest part of the craft very quickly after launch, and by the time it's coming in for landing the fuselage is an empty tube.

Unless the engines are in the middle it's going to be ungodly unstable, likely impossible to control once back in atmosphere.

I'll take "screwed if engine flames out" over "screwed on every approach"

Also, if an engine flames out it may still be possible to safely abort and rescue the craft and payload, if it's going fast enough.

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Richard 12
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Re: I forsee a teensy problemette...

Not necessarily.

The Skylon would be suborbital, dropping off the transfer craft and then descending back to Earth of its own accord.

The transfer craft then burns to put the sat into the proper orbit.

To recover the transfer craft, wait until the next Skylon launch and play swopsies - transfer B is launched, and transfer A is recovered around apogee.

The delta-v needed for that isn't too bad - though the timing is well beyond my meagre Kerbal Space Program abilities!

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Curiosity sings 'Happy Birthday' to itself on Martian anniversary

Richard 12
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Nobody has played them yet though.

I wonder if anybody ever will?

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Ye Bug List

Richard 12
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Addendum: I cannot log in either.

The new squared-off "one-line text entry" box doesn't work at all under the Safari on iPhone 4S.

Please fix ASAP, or just put normal boxes back and stop messing with it?

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Richard 12
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The m.forums (mobile) version recently broke for iOS 6.1.3 on iPhone. (It's a work phone so I get what I'm given.)

I can no longer type anything into the post title text at all.

I still see the box itself, but can't get a cursor in there. Which is odd.

Also the "Enter your comment" bit is in a huge box, which looks really silly next to the tiny text box for post title.

The normal site works ok on iOS.

- I've also found the Office 365 advert to be evil, it pops open extremely easily and once open, it covers part of the text entry field, including the Preview button and won't go away without changing page. Can you get them to fix the "close" button on the ad?

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They don't recognise us as HUMAN: Disability groups want CAPTCHAs killed

Richard 12
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Joke

What colour?

Is it Mauve? Puce?

Which puce? French, English, American or Pantone?

I reckon it's Surprise Peach! (The surprise is that it's not a peach)

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Barbie paints Red Planet pink with NASA-approved Mars Explorer doll

Richard 12
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She can't look down, either.

There's a reason for bubble helmets, and there's a reason they bubble at shoulder height...

- It also really emphasises her misproportioned neck.

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Upstart's 'FLASH KILLER' chips pack a terabyte per tiny layer

Richard 12
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Boffin

Yes, how much does it cost?

That's what I want to know!

There are already several NVRAM technologies on the market that I could buy off-the-shelf right now, but the prices of everything other than MLC-NAND Flash are just way too high for anything other than specialist, high-value products. Military and aerospace, basically.

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Beam me up? Not in the life of this universe

Richard 12
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Re: Heisenburg

You can't know, but entanglement implies you can copy without actually knowing.

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Richard 12
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Re: Compression

Loss-less compression would do well on the data set, as almost all the molecules are identical copies of a small number of individual types but in different positions.

This work gives you some idea of the compression ratio you'd actually need to do it in a "reasonable" time. 1:10^15 would do the transfer in 4.85 years.

Or:

1 : 1,000,000,000,000,000

That's a rather high compression ratio. You can go first.

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British boffin muzzled after cracking car codes

Richard 12
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Re: Re. A warning to future security researchers

He got the source code from an "unspecified online source" dated around 2009, then rapidly found several flaws in it.

The judge took that to mean "must suppress for good of the people", which can only mean the judge isn't competent to rule on technical security matters and should be recused.

The only thing that shouldn't be published is the key itself. The design of the lock for your house is public knowledge, how is that any different to the one on your car?

Sorry to be so blunt, but the fact is, the cat was out if the bag years ago, and publishing why will only make future designs better and remind the likes of VW that security through obscurity is no security at all.

I do wonder if VW car insurance premiums just went up because of their legal action?

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Richard 12
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Facepalm

Re: A warning to future security researchers:

Indeed, and that's what scares me.

It certainly appears that security researchers are better off if they sell their results to the highest bidder, instead of privately disclosing to the manufacturer, waiting several months then publishing.

Which of those approaches is better for the consumer?

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Google Chromecast: Here's why it's the most important smart TV tech ever

Richard 12
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Of course XBone breaks HDCP!

Microsoft have the keys, so the XBone can do a perfect man-in-the-middle "attack" on it.

I never understood the point of HDCP though.

Like all other forms of intrusive DRM, HDCP only serves to irritate legitimate consumers (why does it go blocky on my Z?) while only acting as a minor inconvenience to miscreants.

- Even if finding a non-HDCP source for the media or cracking HDCP itself was a problem, the data must get decrypted eventually...

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Apple's shock treatment: An authentic charger-spotting guide

Richard 12
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Re: Random standard??

I assumed that was Goggle Transtate.

It's better than most of the Chinglish manuals I run into.

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Richard 12
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Alert

Re: Spotting a clone

If your fake is the tiny form-factor, DESTROY AND THROW IT AWAY IMMEDIATELY.

Or better, carefully pull it apart and post photos, then throw it.

I'm serious, those really are incredibly dangerous!

Every single one of the UK smaller-than-a-normal plug fakes I've seen have such tiny clearances that they will connect the USB shell (and thus phone chassis) to the mains merely by slightly wiggling the cable in the wrong direction.

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Chromecast: We get our SWEATY PAWS on Google's tiny telly pipe

Richard 12
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Smart TVs are doomed

This is yet another example of why putting "smarts" inside the TV is a bad idea.

Now the smart for a TV costs $35 - $70 and does everything any of the Smart TVs do. Next year, it'll be $20-$50 and they'll do far more than the Smart TVs can.

TVs are expensive, they have to last you many years.

The "Smart" bit is really cheap, you can buy a new one every year!

Of course, being commentards you knew that from the moment the first Smart TV was marketed.

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Are driverless cars the death knell of the motor biz?

Richard 12
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FAIL

Those Business T5 pods are fundamentally broken-by-design.

One, very simple change would have made them brilliant: External power supply.

- eg Third rail, 'scalextrix' slot, overhead line or lines etc. After all, it's a point-to-point railway!

But no, they decided that something that's going to spend its entire existence continually trundling back-and-forth for about 17 hours a day should be battery-powered, and thus have a flat battery by around 10am and be near-useless for the rest of the day, and wear out the battery within a year or two.

So higher operating costs, lower availability and greater emissions due to waste during the charging cycle! Fools.

They never have enough time to properly recharge during the day, so unless you go at a time when nobody flies, you end up waiting for ages for a podule with enough charge - and having to share it anyway because otherwise you'll miss your flight.

Compare to the free Miami downtown "Metromover", which uses a "slot-car" power supply.

I don't use the T5 Business parking anymore - the 'normal' one is cheaper and it takes just as long to get into T5 from the M25, even though I have to wait for the shuttle bus.

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Richard 12
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Mushroom

Re: all I'm hoping for...

Of course they have, it's the only way to stop it happening.

Consider the game theory:

If Company X overcharges and the others don't, X gets both more revenue and lower running costs than the others. Thus all of them charge each other the most they can possibly get away with.

If Company Y decides to stop overcharging the others, it simply reduces its revenue. Its costs stay high.

If companies A, B and C agree not to overcharge each other, they will gain when collisions occur that involve parties insured by those in the 'peering' agreement, but lose out if either party isn't.

But they don't get to choose who their insured crash into.

So the only way it can happen is with agreement between all insurance companies - because it only takes one git to ruin the whole thing.

Thus, legislation.

Although to be honest, I'd have thought it was already covered by "fraud", because you have a legal duty to minimise losses and I'm really not seeing how "selling the details on to ambulance chasers" and the various other schemes is doing that.

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Leap Motion Controller: Hands up for PC air gestures. That's the spirit

Richard 12
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Quick question

Can you point this thing sideways to turn %generic-piece-of-desk% with %any-old-pen% into a 2D tablet?

If not, then the Leap Motion guys had better get onto doing that because that, quite genuinely, is the killer app for the underlying technology.

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WAR ON PORN: UK flicks switch on 'I am a pervert' web filters

Richard 12
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Who will turn the filter off?

The question gets shown to the first browser to try to acces a web page after the moment of switch-on.

In most "at-risk" households, that's pretty likely to be one of the kids being babysat by The Internet.

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Richard 12
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Facepalm

Yes, banning drawings is utterly insane.

It has also happened - it is genuinely illegal in the UK to merely possess drawings of certain kinds of ill-defined "objectionable material". Thank Nu Labour for that one.

Hence El Reg needing to be pretty quick in removing links to things that could be construed that way.

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Richard 12
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FAIL

Stop it, these are totally different things.

This is like trying to prevent murder by requiring you to "opt-in" to eating burgers.

Perhaps they are trying to damage the Labour party by sending Jacqui Smith mad by preventing her husband from seeing porn?

That makes at least as much sense.

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Mass Sony DVR seppuku riddle: Freeview EPG update fingered

Richard 12
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FAIL

Re: bad EPG data from Sky

The Sony box still has an unforgivable error.

It should not be possible for any data, valid or invalid, to actually crash the box.

The box should have simply said "Whoops, the EPG data is corrupt." After that, showing either a blank EPG or the last-known-valid EPG data would be reasonable.

What does your browser do when you go to a malformed webpage?

Mine recovers from many errors (if the intent remains obvious), and shows a page saying what the error is and exactly where it happened if the intent has been lost.

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