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* Posts by Richard 12

1516 posts • joined 16 Jun 2009

Brit Skylon spaceplane moves closer to lift-off

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

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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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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UK gov's smart meter dream unplugged: A 'colossal waste of cash'

Richard 12
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Boffin

@dajames Re: Bring them on....

I agree that brute-force cracking AES-128 is likely to remain too expensive to bother attacking an individual Smart Meter for at least a decade.

However, you're assuming there are no other points of attack.

There's only two ways to implement the security on smart meters:

1) Every meter has its own, individual key. This requires either a large backend database of SN:Key or an algorithm to generate a key from the meter serial number.

- So a miscreant attacks the database or keygen algorithm. This is a high-value target because once cracked, the miscreant has all the meters. The database is as secure as the weakest organisation with access to it.

2) Every meter has the same key (or there are a small number of keys). This key will be written down somewhere.

- So a miscreant only needs to find a copy of the key.

Both methods leave the system open to attack without even touching the meter - and assume that the implementation is perfect, which is highly unlikely.

You're right that if cracking these meters only gave you "free energy", it probably wouldn't be much of a target because there are easier (if more dangerous) ways to do this already - just bypass the meter. Yep, it's live working but you don't die too often.

However, cracking these meters gives you control over whether power is delivered at all. What would happen if a "terrorist group" decided to cut off a significant number of properties at the same time?

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Richard 12
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Flame

Google for "Dryer fire"

(Obvious icon is obvious)

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Richard 12
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Unhappy

Re: Seems unlikely they would be used for cut-off...

Thanks for the link. They really do mean "Black you out after X kWh"

So just like the old pre-pay coin meters, except able to be 'activated' remotely (thus wrongly from time to time). Brilliant.

How long before somebody dies because of this?

- I'm serious. There are a lot of pieces of equipment that could kill if shut off at the wrong moment. The most obvious are the ventilators used by some paraplegics, but there are many other, less obvious ones.

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Richard 12
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Mushroom

Re: Seems unlikely they would be used for cut-off...

How the heck does 'load limiting' work? (without the loads themselves co-operating)

As an electrical engineer, all the methods I can think of would either damage or completely destroy many types of connected equipment, or are simply "blackout after X kWh" - normally called "demand management" in the newspeak of "Let's black out the whole nation."

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Beijing fanboi in coma after iPhone 4 shock treatment

Richard 12
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FAIL

Re: I'm No Fan

It's irrelevant whether or not it's got the letters "CE" on it.

The act of importing a device for sale into the EU that does not meet the CE requirements is illegal, and the importer is the one held liable.

Most of the "China-tat" chargers are bloody dangerous.

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Russian mobile operators say 'nyet!' to Apple, 'da!' to Samsung

Richard 12
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Tim Cook seems not to understand the market

CEO Tim Cook reportedly expressed dismay that 80 per cent of all iPhones are sold through carrier stores, rather than Apple Retail Stores, and suggested that he'd like to see that figure drop to 50 per cent.

Straw poll: Hands up who didn't get their phone from their carrier?

The idea of buying the phone direct is an alien concept to most people in Europe, and I don't think the US is much different. Most places where you buy phone and service separately are poor, and can't afford iPhones.

Fool. He's chasing a higher per-unit margin by throwing away the market.

- I only know two people who bought their phones from a store of any kind rather than from the carrier.

One of them only did so because the phone they'd originally got via the carrier got nicked!

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Apple needs help: iWatch, 'Retina' iPad mini delayed until 2014?

Richard 12
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If true, it's proof they've lost the plot

Everybody knows that adding more people to a late engineering or software project makes it later.

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Pure boffinry: We peek inside Nokia's miracle cameraphone

Richard 12
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Mushroom

The best camera is the one you have with you

If your Hasselblad or Nikon D600 is sat at home, you're not going to capture the photo of %MAJOR_EVENT%.

For example, the reason we got so many videos of the Russian meteor is because so many drivers have cameras in their cars, and almost everyone has a smartphone with a camera.

I don't think many people had time to run for their DSLR or broadcast-quality TV camera.

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Boeing batteries back under spotlight as 787 burns at Heathrow

Richard 12
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Flame

Perhaps an unattended fire in the cabin?

If somebody left their phone in there and it caught fire, the alarm goes off and if there are crew on board, an attendant comes by within moments to investigate and (if necessary/appropriate) attack the fire.

But if nobody noticed the alarm, there'll be time for a very small fire to become a large one.

Fire was always the biggest event on board ship, and a ship's bridge is never unmanned. A plane's cockpit however?

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Outlook son of Hotmail goes titsup for many in the US and UK

Richard 12
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Re: @AC18:12GMT - @h3 - See what happens when you're an exchange/hotmail user ?

In the US of A found on planet Earth (Sol 3), software is patented more than anything else. Along with business processes and plenty of "bloody obvious to someone with a vague idea of the Art".

Your USA sounds much better than the one that actually exists. Shame.

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STEVE BALLMER KILLS WINDOWS

Richard 12
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Unhappy

Re: "Cloud and Enterprise Engineering"

My thoughts entirely.

He couldn't be more obvious without hanging a giant poster down the side of the Shard! (Perhaps that's what those loonies are doing?)

The departments read as "back office, phones & games consoles, consumer applications, cloud".

Not a lot of room for Enterprise there.

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Win 8 man Sinofsky's 'retirement' deal: $14m shares, oath of silence

Richard 12
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Facepalm

Indeed, it's musical chairs up there

However, sooner or later the whole room falls down.

We saw a partial collapse a few years back in the banking crisis - unfortunately, the ones playing with the chairs don't appear to have learnt from it, so the next collapse will be worse...

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Eww! What have you done to the layout?

Richard 12
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WTF?

Indeed, I thought all the icons had vanished entirely for a good few seconds before realising they'd moved to the right.

Really don't like the separate button to add an icon - please put it back under the text box!

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Boston U claims LED patent, files against tech giants

Richard 12
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Mushroom

"Dear BU"

"We patented the method whereby your university buildings were constructed. Pay up or knock them down."

That's appears to be what they're trying here.

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Richard 12
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WTF?

Re: Timing?

It certainly is trolling, because Apple don't make LEDs.

They buy them.

From people like Philips, Cree etc... Who are already paying the royalties...

This is reasonably likely to get a one-line response along the lines of "We buy them from X. Talk to them. BTW, our legal costs were Y, pay up!"

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ICANN puts Whois on end-of-life list

Richard 12
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FAIL

I'm very, very glad "he" got caught.

My first thought is "Good riddance to the freeloading bastard".

Did you really mean to say "Removing WHOIS would let me my friend get away with copyright infringement on a commercial basis", because that's what it sounded like.

Wouldn't have worked anyway, because it's a tennis club, so it's got a real, physical location given on the website. (Incidentally, Getty embed a watermark into all images to ensure they can be easily identified. This survives physical printing, so forget 'print-screen' copy.)

If you're foolish enough to use a Getty image or any other clearly in-copyright, all-rights-reserved image without a licence - whether as a 'placeholder' or not - you deserve everything you get.

Just don't do it - if you want a placeholder, search one of the many free-for-commercial-use sites or take your own photo. Nobody forced you him to use a Getty image.

Getty are simply a group of photographers who'd like to get paid for their work!

If you genuinely think photographers should just give away all of their work for free, then your acquaintance should be giving away his website design service as well.

Let me guess - he doesn't agree with that?

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Nissan to enter 300 kmh electric car in Le Mans endurance race

Richard 12
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Boffin

Amusingly, the hardware reliability is where the EV wins

Or at least, where it should win.

I expect this Nissan will be going down the route of high-torque, (switched-reluctance or multipole) motors either right in the wheelhubs or on short shafts (to reduce unsprung weight).

Essentially, the complete drivetrain made of either four or eight moving parts. (Ignoring the suspension itself as you need that on all vehicles.)

Done that way, if a motor goes down you lose 1/4 of drive power and some stability, but swapping it out may only take about twice as long as changing the tyre. While that would lose a short race, it could win an endurance race!

Unfortunately none of the EVs (aside from bicycles) currently on the market seem to be playing to the strengths of electric motors, keeping all the gearboxes, differentials, clutches etc that an IC needs but are simply unnecessary for an electric motor.

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Tesla unveils battery-swapping tech for fast car charging

Richard 12
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Re: Nice idea but doesnt work

All consumer rechargeable lithium batteries have a built-in "fuel gauge" chip to ensure they aren't overcharged.

It's not much of a leap to add enough Flash to store the entire history of the battery charge/discharge cycles!

The only ones you'll buy that don't are the hobbyist Li-Po cells for electric R/C aircraft and the like, where they basically will catch fire sooner or later.

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Brits' HSBC bank cards, net access goes TITSUP

Richard 12
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Devil

Re: "We are sorry for ANY impact"

The phrase "Sorry for any..." feels like "Nya nya, we don't really give a toss" to me, and I doubt I'm the only one who feels like that.

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Microsoft's canceled 'Project Brazil' took aim at Amazon, eBay

Richard 12
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Abuse monopoly much?

I suspect this was probably dropped on legal advice.

The EU would have loved getting its hands on a few billion Microsoft dollars, and even the USA would have had trouble justifying not prosecuting.

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Stay away from the light, Kodak! Look, here's $406m to keep you alive

Richard 12
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You what?

Unless you're shooting large format, you're talking utter rubbish!

Film has a grain size, you can see the actual 'pixels' with a hand lens. They aren't square, but they are there.

Even medium-format is only about 50MPixels.

35mm is 4 to 16MPixels depending on the emulsion (faster = lower resolution)

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Richard 12
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Re: Film Isn't Dead

But it is niche!

How big are the markets for floppy disks and new pressings of vinyl?

The large markets for film are gone.

Consumers do not want it, and professional photographers and cinematographers barely use it anymore.

Only enthusiasts and artists (arguably a subset of the former) want it now.

That kind of market simply cannot support a large enterprise. It can only support a small number of small businesses.

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IT mercenaries and buy-to-let landlords are my HEROES - here's why

Richard 12
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"Renting less than a mortgage"

How exactly does the landlord pay the mortgage if the rent is less than the mortgage payments?

The rent must be significantly higher as the landlord is hoping to make a profit on the enterprise.

If thats not through the rental income being much higher than the outgoings, they are betting on house prices going up and selling the property after a few years - which kicks the tenant out as the new owner must up the rent to cover their new, more expensive mortgage.

The general rule is that the rental income should be around double the mortgage payments, so that "voids" don't result in a loss and the landlord can afford the necessary maintenance, repairs and replacement items.

Renting can only be cheaper if multiple tenants pay for the same property - flats or multiple-occupancy houses - or the landlord owns the house outright thus has no mortgage.

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Richard 12
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Birmingham commuter belt wouldn't be bad

The commuter belt is where the shops end up, because while people are willing to do a daily point-to-point train commute for work, they won't be bringing the weekly shop home on that train.

So the effect is to boost the local economy.

The downside is that house prices go up as locals now compete with bankers who can buy a house with their monthly bonus...

That inequality of income actually the problem. The bigger the gap, the worse everything is.

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Soylent days and soylent nights

Richard 12
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Re: Not gloopy

Blue 1, Blue 2, Green 3, Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6...

What are those in real money? Nobody else uses those monikers for the compounds.

'E' numbers are more widely used and less confused with others, even better is the common name of the compound.

The FD&C "Yellow 5" is also known as Food Yellow 4, E102...

Or better, Tartrazine. It is associated with hyperactivity and at higher doses, random heart attacks.

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SCO vs. IBM battle resumes over ownership of Unix

Richard 12
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Re: Flogging a dead horse

A dead horse can still kick you in the balls.

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Bjarne Again: Hallelujah for C++

Richard 12
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Re: C++

RAII and the appropriate smart pointers make it damn near impossible to forget to deallocate - the data is gone the moment the last reference drops out of scope.

RAII predictable, while garbage collection is anathema to predictable timing. If repeatable performance doesn't matter for your project that's fine, but not everybody is doing that kind of stuff.

TBH I find it hard to come up with a valid reason to prefer GC over RAII - why would you want the object to get erased some random period after you don't want it anymore? Why not kill it now?

Aside from all that, you still get memory leaks in garbage-collected languages, it's just a case of holding onto references you don't actually need anymore, or otherwise confusing the GC into thinking you might still want it.

You can shoot yourself in the foot in any language.

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