160 posts • joined Wednesday 22nd July 2009 11:32 GMT
"of high profile law firm Steptoe & Johnson"
Brilliant thinking to add the "John"
(Non-UK readers may have to look it up, but it's not worth while.)
He was ad-libbing
What he was told to say that "All education is subject to UK law. Science and maths makes us all safer."
Not so much Mars colonisation...
...as Mars colon ionisation
Tux - 'cos have you ever been downwind of a penguin rookery?
It seems to me that the issue was the old "convergence" chestnut. Comms/Telecoms people knew all about the weird, wonderful and most of all, unique, world of telephony with its specialist cards, cabling and who knows what else. It was proprietary heaven Then the world woke up and realised that telephony could be delivered similarly to general purpose computing and that it needn't be proprietary at all, leading to the possibilities of IP telephony. That led the telecoms world into the "discovery" of that their switches could function as general purpose servers, which they then invented in the image of their old proprietary model. No-one was going to fall for that one just as they were reaping the benefits of commoditisation. To be fair, some horror stories were also possible when general IT service delivery people tried to deliver the robustness of old pone switches, and made their own mistakes along the way.
So to me, it's partly timing, partly an aspect of re-invention, resulting in over-marketing of shiny-thing-of-the-month. What people really wanted from a phone all along was a dial tone.
We have a LibDem MP to whom I wrote about this issue some time back. In his reply I was concerned that he seemed to leave the door slightly ajar by saying they would be looking at the details of what May/HomeOffice wanted before deciding. With the LibDems' record of saying "Those are our principles, unless you want us to change them" I thought they'd roll over on this, but I think they realise this is a fundamental to the LibDems' existence.
What gets me is how the guvmint talks up techno vapourware as the answer to the economic problem, but think that technology operates best in such a controlled atmosphere. Their idea of a free environment is one which includes tax kickbacks.
Odd for a kickstarter
This is of interest to me as we are off grid. However, given the choice of a passive chemical battery with no moving parts and something that has to run in a vacuum to close tolerances etc.,, I know which option I'll take. Now if they want to work on getting the nickel-iron battery into shape, that seems interesting. But as there is little patent potential (haha!) in it, as it was invented yonks ago, it's unlikely to be developed through the standard western greed model. See http://opensourceecology.org/wiki/Nickel-Iron_Battery
My requirements as one off grid are not necessarily the ability to store power for very long periods of time, just enough time when power from my few solar panels and my small turbine wane. Five days is acceptable. Given what I have learnt about the joys of running the mechanical wind turbine over the different joys of managing the passive lead acid battery, I know I would not choose a dynamic option such as a flywheel. By the way, my battery bank is a smidge over 15kwHrs.
I would much rather have a NiFe battery that can take un-ideal charge states when power comes in, and most of all, I would rather the battery bank did not deteriorate the way lead acid ones do, leading to replacement after 5-7 years even with careful management. I always laugh like a drain when battery how-to's talk about charging a battery using so-many amps at so-many volts when in the real off-grid world you're simply grateful for ANY amps at ANY voltage that flow in.
I am a (rather mature) student of the University of the Highlands and Islands, which is described as a collegiate university spread across an area the size of Belgium. (They don't give the area in Waleses.) All lectures are delivered via video conferencing, so there are many years of experience in this teaching delivery here. One of the best lecturers I have had is an archaeologist, who has a three-part routine, some talking where you see him, some powerpoint, and then he stops to take questions. This little pause makes all the difference. While MOOCs may not be as interactive as we enjoy in UHI, there may be ways of replicating this practice.
They're right to think about lecturer technique when delivering via communication technology, though. Some lecturers are awful at it, but some really have a knack, just as in face-to-face lectures.
By the way, from a technology perspective, the "VC Masters," who for UHI are based in Shetland, have been utterly brilliant. In the early days, they even helped me to access their Tandberg systems using Ekiga, as I am not anywhere near a UHI college. I was expecting academic (or BOFH) preciousness when asking for something outside their supported environment, but I got a real willingness to help. I have learnt how important their services are to a good learning experience. When the VC is dodgy, your ability to learn drops markedly, so to students, their services are important. Interestingly, they're rather taken aback after getting a thank you email from me every semester.
Ah, the NeXT
The thing about the NeXT cube was not only the box, which sat there growling wonderfully at you from its SCSI disk, but also the screen and even the design of the printer. All utterly wonderful and oh, so out of reach. I was fortunate (no really - they were different times) to sit through a demo by Jobs of the NeXT in London in 1990, and the cube as a development station really was astonishing. I recall, at that conference, Gates was on after Jobs. He came on and simply said "Wow. How can you follow that?" How indeed.
Fail at the first hurdle
The very use of the term "Human Resources" should disqualify anything further from such a report. Utterly degrading term. One suspects that reference to people as "human resources" think they're being seriously hard-nosed capitalists, yet in "Wealth of Nations," so often used by these nutters as a bible, Adam Smith uses the example of work specialisation in pin manufacture to gain efficiency _as a warning_ not as a positive reference. His worry was that mindless work creates mindless people, and that this was an immoral outcome to create.
Anyway, anyone with any real world experience knows that in some jobs which some consider dreadful, others thrive in. It's the role of these so-called "human resources" morons to find the right people to ensure round pegs appear in round holes. At this they are spectacularly adept at failing.
Disclaimer - my wife worked in the personnel dept. at one company, when a new broom came in and demanded that the dept. now be called Human Resources. The rot soon set in, so she left as she could no longer do a decent job.
Discalimer 2 - After 20+ years in IT, I have gone back to Uni and am just completing an Hons BA. It's obvious to the Real World that here are few degrees that are merely vocational, so does it really come as a surprise when simplistic qualification matching algorithms don't work?
Araine 5 record
the note that Ariane 5 has had 4 failures in 68 launches makes it sound worse than it really is - The last 53 successive launches have been without failure - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ariane_5
Yes, we all have this problem, but I think I have solved it. I wouldn't want to charge neighbours for IT work, because I don't /want/ to do that type of support work. So I say, in all honesty, that I'll have nothing to do with Windows systems, but if they want to run Free Software, most notably a Linux distro of their choice, I'll happily help. Occasionally the offer gets taken up, and after an installfest which is usually not unpleasant, and a few phone queries, it tends to go quiet as people either become more self-reliant or just have fewer random issues. Happy to do this as a contribution not only to my neighbourhood but also to further the cause of Free Software, which has been good to me.
You can see why it might be mistaken for an HCB shot, though, as it has a lot of his markers in it, but them, I am a fan of some, but not all. of HCB's stuff. This type of shot, with some strangely perfect element that isn't really the main point of the shot, is reminiscent of some of the great man's work. The trouble was HCB invented so much that has now become standard in images that we forget how ground-breaking some of his work was. I recently was asked to judge a photo competition, and one shot in particular used one of those Fuji X100's to take a brilliant shot in a dance hall. It was so Cartier Bressonesque, but none the worse for it.
Re: Why not use radio link?
I've been looking at this to connect village halls in our area, but the hills and mountains make it really difficult. I think it's possible, but the "£4k" you mention,. or even the cheaper mesh options, or using RaspPis as repeaters are really only a tiny part of a deployment story.* And as always, the issue is with the backhaul which outside of ADSL costs remains stupidly expensive when you are far from POPs.
* - on the face of it, you put some kit at the peaks, but apart from the aesthestics, you have to get power there, and with 120+mph winds at times at the tops, locally generated power like wind or even solar panels need to be heavily overbuilt to survive. Then you have to maintain the alignment in those conditions... etc etc. Doable, but not the easy option it seems.
Speaking as one who may be on the receiving end of this, it does sound good. There are problems with fibre-to-the-home in our areas, such as "villages" not really being the centralised development one may expect, but are typically a strung out series of houses, mostly for historical reasons associated with landlordism. In our case, we're about half a mile from the road rather than just a few hundred meters from a nice central cabinet as one may expect in a town. In our parish, fewer than 1000 people are spread around 250 square kilometres, and the main village has fewer than a third of that total. Our "township" of about 50 residents (and three times that number of holiday houses) is strung out over a couple of miles.
But Internet connections has enabled my wife to set up a yarn business, with her online shop being a significant route to market. It's also allowed me to go back to Uni, attending lectures of the Uni. of the Highlands and Islands via VC connections over the internet. I've actually physically been to my college, Orkney College (UHI is collegiate) only twice in 3.5 years. These are significant enablers to us in these areas. That wonderful piece of magic, "the market" is unlikely to allow areas like ours to partake of modern digital life without central funding.
Gravity sucks - use it
The rocket will, if I read the drawings the right way around, be pointing upwards from LOHAN's mighty rod, will it not? If so, can't the contacts be made with a washer or similar flat metal surface on one, and a spring on the other, to maintain the contact held in place by the sucking action of the planet?
"The long, dark teatime of the Seoul" Just wondering about how many journalist-hours of waiting it took for an opportunity to use that subline. Perhaps the less pure "The long, dark boot-time of the Seoul" may have offended St Douglas less? ;-)
I was a Suse user from v5.1, and I've been tempted to go back now that kde is where it's at. But I'm fond of jfs as a file system, which for some reason Suse stopped supprting some time back. Glad they're back on track though and putting the Novell years behind them.
Those days, of creativity and innovation, really were interesting. The microdrives as part of the affordability of the QL, for what it brought to market, meant that I was able to undertake commercial work turning statistical information into graphical reports (wow factor at the time) at a fraction of the cost of other options available at the time, at a time when the cost of alternatives was so high s to be unavailable. So my "ql" sig pays tribute to the system that started my time making a crust from IT.
The microdrives on the QL could be used as a swap file for large documents. A couple of years ago, I fired up a QL and found documents from the mid 80s on microdrive could still be read.
While I'm unable to agree with anything the idiotic and ideology-led rabble that govern the UK pontificates on, IF the result of downgrading IP and copyright legislation is fair and equitable across the board, you can see how it will be a resetting of the creeping of "rights" far past the time they have provided a recompense for the works' creators. But of course based on the ideology so far, this will inevitably be one law for the powerful and one for the rest of us.
The imbalance of rights is a real issue. I am involved with a local community digital archive, where we are very careful regarding copyright, but equally, fearful of the danger of the contents of the archive being hoovered up by the googles etc of the world. So the archive is not accessible via the net.
Re: I kept thinking "where's the evidence"
Yes, must agree. The leaps of logic were immense. A local archaeologist was saying a while back that neolithic archaeology is like trying being on a beach three days and six tides after a sandcastle competition and trying to say something meaningful about who did it, why and where they came from. There was also no discussion (that I noticed - I found it hard to concentrate on the programme) on the fact that Stonehenge was a johnny-come-lately to the party, with examples like the Ring of Brodgar in Orkney and Callanish on Lewis pre-dating it. If this was such a gathering place, some justification is surely in order. It's also hard to see any difference between the factual elements of the programme and the wildly speculative.
Just let it be* - we need a bit of mystery in out lives.
* - had a tour of the Ring of Brodgar with a local ranger once. She presented various facts, speculations about cause etc, but kept repeating "but we just don't know." Very refreshing.
It takes IT folk to know that "git" and "subversion" are associated with change.
Re: Another point of view
> Not to be disrespectful
Well actually, that suggestion IS disrespectful. Just because someone takes a job does not give the employer or someone carrying out a role for that employer any additional legal control over the individual. The suggestion of conflating corporate employment with total control over every aspect of life, including private life (really? private searching rooms is acceptable, or worse, necessary as you suggest?) is deeply worrying. And there IS a connection between nazi ideology and the type of corporate control you are suggesting is acceptable in this case. And it's not common sense to suspect "these people". It's prejudice. I would ask you to rethink the effect on the individuals concerned as fellow people, rather than consider this from the point of view of the corporate or your own prejudices.
Mmm, I've been puzzled by this too, as it seems self-evident to anyone understanding the virtuous circle of free software as instituted by RMS that it is the fact that it has built-in good controls - the positive aspects of copyright - that make it so useful. But the trouble is, there's also good cause to trust Glyn Moody's journalism, which is usually superbly well informed and very thoughtfully written (can't comment about Matt's bro other than to state the obvious uncertainty one feels when faced with a lawyer's prognostications.)
But I think the objective of the issue is just to note that in an ideal world, everything would be in the public domain, and suggesting that some brave folk may actually choose to believe, as a test, that we are in that ideal world. It does show the pragmatism and inventiveness of the GPL and other virtuous cycle licences, though, that they achieve an ideal in a decidedly un-ideal world. I would certainly find it hard to believe that Glyn, with his background, would suggest chucking it all on the hope that corporates suddenly behaved nicely.
Re: Microsoft IS a tech disaster....
Well if individual experience is valid tot his discussion (although your choice of ext3 speaks volumes (pardon the expression) for your little piece of fiction) I have had the unpleasant experience of a chkdsk on windows running for 36 hours while the business fumed waiting for it to complete. Sort the disk off line? Oh right, then the system wants to run chkdsk to ensure it's all been run to its satisfaction. Meanwhile, I also have experience of a linux complete disk system failure at a site across an ocean and 3000 miles away from a sysadmin. Total business time lost - 4 hours, including the hardware being replaced.
Neither your comment nor my anecdotes have anything to do with the story under discussion though...
Just wondering if it's necessary for the infrastructure to be under the road. Would it work in some form alongside the road, replacing the ubiquitous armco, or something like that? Don't really understand the technology, or at what point distance becomes too much of an issue.
Also, I can't help getting the mental image of Captain Shakespeare's vessel in "Stardust," deploying a net to catch the electricity.
The only trouble is...
whatever info you feed the program, the answer either comes out:-
One ring to rule them all, one ring to bind them
Re: LibreOffice still ahead of Microsoft in so many ways
Yes, these comments reflect my experience in a few organisations, and the uses we found are pretty much the same, eg using LO to fix MS files. Libreoffice is the one bit of software users have actually thanked me for, in 20 plus years of IT. One startup mentioned that using LO under Linux desktop was the first time in three startups that all the documentation and presentation for funding went off with no technical glitches at all. I cannot recognise the comments here regarding LO playing catch-up.
While we on ElReg may relish a technical scrap with these forms of pondscum, do remember that there are real problems they create, like elderly folk becoming too afraid to answer the phone, either because of a previous ripoff or fear of a potential ripoff. When you think about it, using a phone impiles trust in fellow humankind, and the predatory nature of these callers destroys that pretty effectively. This isn't "just business" any more, even for relatively legit operations. The consequences are too often just not good enough to excuse. As others have pointed out, it's possible for these callers, even non-UK ones, to be controlled better, so why isn't this happening? Hidden victims, perhaps?
Sexist for obvious reasons that he thinks only blokes would have such an interest, and idiot for choosing to splash 870 a month on what at that rate is no longer a home lab but a personal obsession. I've run servers at home since 1995 but don't think they've run me.
Mixed feelings about the sentiment he expresses though. Many in technology are in it out of interest anyway and enjoy the pace of change, so doing extra-curricula stuff outside of work is more hobby than intended for the somewhat single-minded reason of making oneself saleable.
Re: Global banking runs on Excel!
The article makes the case, though, that Lotus was in a similar position with 1234 at the time, such as the Oracle add-in to 123, and so on, that made it appear to be just as entrenched as current de facto standards are, and yet it still collapsed. We forget how fast changing the technology world really can be. I worked for a financial services company at the time and it's easy to forget how entrenched 123 was.
By the way,t he article fully matches my experience at the time. We held discussions with LDC and MS at the time of the rise of Windows 3, and came away dejected that LDC had no clear way forward while MS not only had good ideas, but understood where they needed to improve. The difference between the companies when you looked at IT strategically at the time was really chalk and cheese.
Re: Ability Plus?
Still going, AND the last DOS version, 3, is available for download here - http://www.ability.com/support/dos/ab3.php
Whew, I feel old
The article pretty accurately describes the situation as lived through in those heady days. 123 V3 was so slow and demanded such huge resources at time when we put huge effort into scrambling for every byte of memory andf it felt as though the writing was on the wall. The financial services company I was with at the time lived and breathed 123, but when Windows 3 came along we felt the need to have a good long strategic look at the way things were developing. Up to then, you sort of just went with the flow, but PCs were now core to the business in the same way as the minis in the computer room.
So we went to talk to LDC and Microsoft. (You could in those days.) We came away with the conviction that LDC really didn't know what to do next, and had no clear plans, while Microsoft (it pains me to say this with hindsight of the monopoly we helped build) really were determined to provide a tools as good as 123 (and Multimate, the other standard of the day.) Based on their road map, which we could see they were achieving, we went wholeheartedly with Microsoft and Excel, a difficult process with the more conservative in the business.
The other memory at the time was running "As Easy As," a spreadsheet compatible with Lotus .wks files. It was shareware,. but uncrippled,. and unlike123, did charts without expensive add-ons. A bonus was that it used less memory and was even faster than 123's best offering, version 2.1. That experience made me realise in a fledgeling state that it didn't need huge corporations to develop excellent software, so that when I started noticing Linux and Free Software around 96 or 97, my acceptance of Free Software was eased.
Symphony had some die-hard users in those older days too. I was all for standardising on all-in-one options like Symphony or MS Works, spending extra money for those whose work demanded it, as some people were battling with MS Write and so on, but that was too egalitarian for the top dogs for whom technology was part of the ability to dish out sweeties to the favoured.
I sense a lawsuit
Potato scones have rounded corners. And what about the plainly restrictive practice of only serving raspberry pi?
Sniff - we are in a similar boat
We're off grid here, and I run two inverters, (both Victrons, as pointed out by an earlier poster.) One is just 350w, which powers the lights, telly, hifi, bijour serverette (24 hours) ADSL router, AP, and laptops as well as charging sundry tablets. phones etc. The other is a 1.7kW which only runs the little fridge. What? you say. 1.7kW for a fridge? Well, the fridge only draws about 50-60w but to get the thing started - that's horrible thump, and the only was of doing it is using a larger supply.
Agree re the LEDs - they are now fine and the prices are getting to be where CFLs were a few years back.
Re the other suggestions, I'd be tempted to set up a hybrid system with solar panels and the grid feeding a largeish battery bank, but don't go down the earlier suggestion of "loads of car batteries" for a number of reasons. Feed 48V into a 5kW inverter, and you're away, and coping with any black/brown outs too.
It's not hard to manage on a supply like this, you just don't have the luxury of not having to think about your power use, no bad thing IMHO, though Snr Orlowski will no doubt have puppies at that thought.
Are iPads the real story?
I'm a (rather mature) student of the University of the Highlands and Islands, a Uni covering about 12 or 15 colleges over an area larger than Belgium (to be pedantically Reg-unit compliant.) I am over 100 miles from the nearest college, excepting the one 30 miles away across the Minch. All my lectures are over video conference* links, so students may be spread over multiple sites while the lecturer may be alone in a room somewhere. The geographic spread also means other systems need to support learning, and a "Virtual Learning Environment" is used to provide sources for lecture material etc. Even social networking is catered for.
The point is, these are all technology services that make it possible, not dependant the devices I use to access them. Regarding texts, a lot of my texts have been available as ebooks, but I have found it very difficult to use ebooks as reference material, when you want to browse to a particular place in the multiple books. Nothing beats the real thing for that, though if it's just books that need to be read, ebooks are a good alternative. The latest fad of ebooks from the library I find worrying too - the ebook vendors seems to me to be trying to take over the function of the librarian, but a faceless corporate service is not the way to dleiver such a service, from the students' perspective anyway.
* - I use a Tandberg 800 at home over an internet connection, but the VC admins were happy for me to use Ekiga on my linux laptop as an H323 client as well - very inclusive.
In a reverse from the normal "mine's bigger than yours," the article brought to mind sending email to a WAIS server for search info over a 2400baud modem circa 1989/90. A few mins later the results would arrive. Hard to think how we used the internet before it became "the web."
The difficulty is...
The CFO or "the business" sees these ELAs simply as the cost of running a business, almost like a tax, about which you can do nothing. The fact that there are structural or alternative product changes that can alter this is seen as business risk, easily managed by keeping up the ELA payments.
I still have a copy of OS/2 2.1 in the shed. I never managed to get it to do any work though it installed OK, as I recall. BUT, where OS/2 did feature in my life was in the early 90s. We had a branch network consisting of mostly 9.6kbps analogue lines used to access green-screen Pr1me applications. The network was incredibly expensive - a million a year if I recall. So when email started to become useful in head office, it was decided that branch managers should have email access. (Don't you love the way technology is used to consolidate inflated views of status? Rarely is early technology used to help actual work gettnig done.) Anyway,. my boss paid a wodge of dosh to a consultancy who tried to get MS Mail to work via a Netware connection using ppp. They scraped 1000bps on the 9.6k lines. A mate at Microsoft suggested I try Lan Manager's remote access server - RAS. To cut a lobng story short, test showed a throughput 8 times better than the consultancy, and I implemented, installed and trained the users of the entire thing, complete with horrid hand-soldered serial cables for the RAS board, for less than the cost of the consultancy. OS/2 1.3 as a server offergin seemed pretty good to me, but it was seen as a Microsoft, not IBM, product. On the basis of that, when Netware became surreally priced and just too weird, we sailed wholesale into NT.
Re: Free but rich
> Very, very frightening?
Geo-location by new European satteliite system,
Geo-location by new European satteliite system
Middle-eastern fruit good for the bowels plus the projectile from a bow
Free but rich
These types of articles are helpful to convery just how rich the options available to Free Software users really are, and the comments also reflect the joys of their being options. My own list also doesn't include any of the above, but does inlcude:-
Zim - desktop wiki-style note editor - I have three "notebooks" which have years of stuff in them. Also usable as a daily journal with eth calendar plugin
Radiotray - uses the gstreamer plugin system to play radio streams - all the Beeb output, including 3Extra for us non-DAB denizens, and other streams around the world. Very convenient and unobtrusive.
gthumb - for photo management ans imple manipulation. Not as fully fledged as digikam, the absolute must-have for serious photographers, but adequate and reasonably quick.
Thunderbird with Lightning. Lightning works against a centralised calendar provided by eGroupware or Owncloud, two server-based must-have offerings.
But coming back to the article, it's refreshing to see how others have different needs or wants to your own and the fact that Free Software doesn't place anythign other than personal demands against use.
> Sinclair’s Quantum Leap, or QL, flopped,
What? (see handle)
But really I wanted to retiterate heyrick's comment - they were interesting times. You'll probably still find Z80s in your nearest vending machine. At one company I worked, the local Arnold Rimmer, when refilling the machine, didn't believe me when I said the coffee was awful because of the Z80.
Wrong way round?
But there was also interesting research looking at the frequency of incidence of heart attacks, especially the ones that occur in the late morning, correlated against the fashion no longer to wear hats (I'm not kidding.) It seems baldies leave their warm homes, do their commute hatless, losing heat from their bonces and thickening their blood, then going in to a nice warm office, where a little while later their thickened arteries cause the attack. That woud suggest that the hirsutically unenvied have no insulation that the follicaly gifted have, and this contributes to the thinning of the herd as well as the head.
Gosh I'm bored....
Tux - make up your own reason.
Apple having it both ways
An interesting blog post here - https://plus.google.com/u/0/114476892281222708332/posts/246srfbqg6G - for those who can't be bothered, it's a report from a guy overhearing groups of people wondering, if Apple "proved" that Samsung's products were the same as Apple's why Apple was so expensive. No doubt the fanbois will say they're expensive because it costs to be innovative, but that neither addresses the issue not does it stack up that a rectangle with stripes is costly to produce.