* Posts by AndrueC

2606 posts • joined 6 Aug 2009

City of birth? Why password questions are a terrible idea

AndrueC
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Boffin

Re: Even worse

What about orange ? Both a fruit and a colour.

Fun fact: No they aren't. Not really :D

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AndrueC
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Facepalm

I think it was Apple iTunes that has the security question 'What is your favourite teacher's name?'

I'm 48 and left school in 1982.

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Robocalling Americans? That'll cost you $1.7 MEEELLION

AndrueC
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The best solution I've found is sold in the UK as a TrueCall unit. I also believe that at least one phone from BT (the 6500?) has this functionality built in.

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Doom is BOOM! BOOM! BACK!

AndrueC
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Re: This sums up the problem:

Very good links! Now can you tell me how to type FPS instead of TPS?

:)

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AndrueC
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Happy

If it sticks to the original simplistic but free-form 'go where you like' levels I might be interested. I gave up on TPS when they started to insist on the character following their story and route. Corridors that mysteriously collapse behind you. Beams that curiously fall over blocking a door you just came through. All those tricks to make you move through the level the way they want.

All I ever want from a TPS is to run around shooting stuff. I've no interest in stupid stories or the designer's 'vision' for how I'll progress through each level. Just let me run around like a blue arsed fly killing shit.

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Next-gen Freeview telly won't be another disruptive 4Ker

AndrueC
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Re: Why not a unified catch-up service?

The networks make plenty of their own content, so they aren't going away anytime soon.

Yeah but we can dream. I'm not sure what it's like in the US but in the UK at least there are several independent companies that make programmes. Even the BBC uses them for some programmes. So in theory at least those independents could make their output available direct to the public.

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AndrueC
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Re: PVR vs catch-up

I've got Gotham stacking up ready to watch. I saw the first episode but wasn't motivated enough to actually start watching the series. Now it just mocks me from the Sky Planner :)

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AndrueC
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Re: PVR vs catch-up

I also have some rather long programmes and films I do intend to watch but haven't so far, which are no longer available via catch-up.

Yeah me too. 'Filler' material for when I'm really bored. Last week I was watching something and was amused to see Christmas trailers and adverts go zipping past under fast-forward :)

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AndrueC
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Re: Why not a unified catch-up service?

Would it not be better to simply have a unified, generic 'catch-up' system, that merges all sources together into one common front end for the end user?

Better for the user but I suspect that the channels would be scared of losing their identity. That's probably the biggest threat of a truly free forn delivery system - channels cease to be providers and just become collators and with the right framework we could all become collators.

If the day ever comes (please!) when we can stream direct from the studio channels will become irrelevant.

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AndrueC
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Re: PVR vs catch-up

Reasons why PVR is (usually) a better option:

* You can skip over adverts.

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AndrueC
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Re: Sky...

Some of their HD channels are only moderately better than some of the German SD channels I've seen

Which channels? Don't forget that Sky aren't responsible for everything carried on their platform. Most channels available through a Sky subscription are actually being broadcast by someone else. As a general rule if it doesn't actually have 'Sky' in the channel name it's broadcast by someone else. Although in a few cases that 'someone else' has asked Sky to take over the uplinking. I seem to recall that FOX is now uplinked by Sky. But the likes of Discovery, NatGeo, Allibi etc. are doing their own broadcasting and have only paid Sky for a place in their EPG.

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Attack of the possibly-Nazi clone parakeet invaders

AndrueC
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Joke

Re: Wrong parakeet

The article is about Monk Parakeets which has only a small UK population and there are plans afoot to extirpate them

I hope the plan is zygodactyly then.

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AndrueC
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There used to be a breeding population of Budgies (Melopsittacus Undulatus) in one of the London parks but I imagine their genetics would be traced back to a converted garden shed in Peckham :)

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Forced sale of Openreach division would put BT broadband investment at risk, says CEO

AndrueC
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Re: Recent discussion with a senior BT person

Of course BT will run 1 fibre past all the premises and put an individual optical splitter at each one. They have that mentality.

Just like cable companies do with coax you mean? That's another sensible cost compromise although cable companies are beginning to sweat a bit as bandwidth demands increase. Don't forget that we're talking about a consumer grade service here. Corners sometimes have to be cut to reach a price point that the average consumer is willing to pay.

Anyway this is probably moot because BT haven't done that so far. They have been using optical aggregators and running individual fibres to properties from there.

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AndrueC
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Re: Rural Britain Wake Up!

Or that there's consumer resistance to the higher prices.

Isn't that the same thing though? If people want something they pay for it. They aren't paying for it so they don't want it. No doubt if there was no extra cost a lot more people would switch, but if there was no extra charge the entire roll-out would never happen.

There was no technical reason why the FTTC cabinets couldn't be full concentrators/DSLAMs

Could you expand on that please? An FTTC cabinet is a concentrator and DSLAM. Or are you suggesting that they should also support older versions of DSL?

I don't dispute that it's all a bit messy. All I'm suggesting is that incrementally upgrading the local loop is a sensible compromise. If BT had gone for an entirely FTTP roll-out I very much doubt we'd be in the current situation of over 95% of people having access to double digit speeds. Instead I think we'd have a few areas with triple digit speeds (that most of them have no real need for) and a lot of people still stuck on single digit speeds struggling to juggle bandwidth amongst family members.

It'd probably also have significantly increased the requirements for BDUK. Areas that struggle to raise a valid economic justification for FTTC would be up shit creek where FTTP is concerned. I would tentatively guess that the cost of a GPON concentrator is about the same as for an FTTC cabinet. But the big difference is that FTTP requires more groundworks. At the very least a microtrench from pavement to front door but it's also yet more underground ducting that needs cleaning or repairing. And if you're fed by overhead cable just how many more cables can a pole take?

I'm sure we've all been in situations where ripping out the old system and replacing it with a new one was the preferred solution. Unfortunately in the real world that's rarely viable. Most of the time incremental change is the only affordable and practical solution.

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AndrueC
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Re: New Builds

For rural areas the BARN model is showing that the true FTTP model can be both cheaper to install per node and it will be crucially cheaper to maintain and upgrade over the longer term, fundamentally there is less technology open to the elements, to go wrong.

And as I pointed out in another post B4RN have two major advantages over BT:

* They are working with the full and enthusiastic cooperation of the communities they are rolling out to. That can mean free labour, zero wayleave costs and even teams of volunteers doing the digging.

* They don't wholesale their network. If you want to use the B4RN fibre then your ISP will be B4RN. Maybe it's a good ISP. Maybe it's a cheap ISP. But would you be happy to forgoe all choice and be forced to stick with just one ISP?

Then you could pop round to all the home owners as they move in and explain to them why their homes cost a bit more because the developer had to comply with the national regulations you introduced.

There have also been a couple of cases where fibre was installed exclusively and the new owners ended up stuck with an expensive and poorly performing connection. At least if you go with BT you can choose your ISP and that competition helps keep prices down and gives you some choice over the standard of service you get.

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AndrueC
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Re: Rural Britain Wake Up!

Most of what you wrote is essentially correct. BT are upgrading what they have rather than rebuilding it from scratch. But the alternative would have been a much, much smaller roll-out. Or one that was nowhere near completion yet.

If we look at the figures from the B4RN posting we see that a small, efficient, company is managing to roll out fibre to cooperating rural communities for £750 per property. Assuming that scaled out to the entire country that would be over £18 billion to cover every home (BBC says there are 25 million houses in the UK) and a bit more for business premises. The problem is that B4RN's process won't scale out. In the other 95% of the country you have to pay landowners rent for trenches. You're not going to have teams of willing volunteers - you have to pay companies to perform the ground works.

FTTC is/was a sensible compromise. It was affordable. The next step will be G.FAST and a reinstatement of FTTPoD so we are moving toward a full fibre future.

Are we moving fast enough? Actually I think so. Take-up of superfast services shows that there really isn't huge demand for true FTTP speeds at the moment.

Is it good enough? Depends where you live. The truth is that economics hurt. At least BT can raise money from the private sector. If the network was government owned it'd either come from taxes (at an inflated cost) or just wouldn't come at all (which was why the old PO network got into the state it did). If you live in a BDUK area then the economics have spoken. No-one can ignore that.

Is it cost efficient..probably not but at least some of what they've done for FTTC will be a useful launch pad for FTTP (which is why they can offer FTTPoD) so it's not all wasted money.

The only thing that bothers me about BT's strategy is the cost of FTTPoD. I'd love to know how they came up with those figures. It smacked very much of an attempt to show willing whilst also trying to put people off.

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AndrueC
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Re: Et Tu, Virgin

That's because it was built by many small private companies, most of which went under and were bought out.

It's also because VM haven't achieved market dominance even within their own footprint. Consequently Ofcom don't demand that they provide access equivalence. I've never had personal experience of their service so I don't know why VM have not been able to dominate in the areas that they serve.

Therefore they can do what they want with it, within the terms of the licence they have from OFCOM.

But that is subject to review. Ofcom did review it a couple of years ago and decided in effect that VM still wasn't successful enough to warrant being forced to open up their network.

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AndrueC
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Re: Seen this before

Sure they're a community-owned not-for-profit (which is a major contributor to its success), but it just shows what can be done if "the old ways" are rejected.

Indeed it does and B4RN have done a good job. But there are a couple of points worth making:

B4RN work with landowners to get their cables across their land. If said landowner needs the service and/or is mindful of his neighbour's needs they will be receptive and may allow trenches to be dug for nothing. They may even lend the use of equipment or even help dig the trench. That model won't work outside of a few small desperate areas. Anywhere else and you have to negotiate wayleaves which can be very expensive and complicated. That's assuming you have open land to cross. In most places you're talking about digging up public roads.

It's also worth noting that customers on those networks have no choice over which ISP they use because B4RN don't offer a wholesale service. If they had to offer a wholesale service or something like BT's GEA their profitability would take a serious hit.

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AndrueC
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Re: If the board of BT plc won't invest in a demerged Openreach....

...there's plenty of other companies and financial investors who would be delighted.

I'm not so sure about that. The RoI on network expansion is generally poor and requires long-term thinking. How many investors do you think there are that would be willing to invest several billion pounds then wait a decade before they saw profit?

One of the problems BT faces at the moment is access equivalance. If this still applied to BTor after it was spun off (and it would probably have to) then you have another problem with investment. You're building an expensive network then letting other companies reap most of the profits from it.

For another example of how hard it is to get investment and make a profit look at VM. It only recently re-started network investment as the result of a take-over.

It's very hard to make money from the provision of internet services and I'm not convinced that investors would flock to the opportunity. Not under Openreach's current conditions. Which is a shame. An independent Openreach might mean end-users will be able to talk to them. That could bring an end to the current chinese whispers situation we have with fault reporting.

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Astroboffins eyeball MONSTER GAS HALO hugging Andromeda Galaxy

AndrueC
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Re: A Trillian Stars in a galaxy

I have a framed picture of Andromeda on my lounge wall with a brass plaque that reads Intelligent life may only arise around one star in a million

:)

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Round Two in Sky vs Skype trademark scrap goes to Murdoch's men

AndrueC
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Re: Someone won against Microsoft

I'd rather they both stop farting around and throwing money at their legal teams. They should spend the money on something that will actually benefit customers such as improving their service. You can buy a lot of programmer hours for the price of a single lawyer hour.

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TomTom MyDrive brings satnav syncing to PCs and mobiles

AndrueC
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Re: Google maps does all this already...

I know one car it won't be in for the forseeable future - my wifes 1966 Morris Minor 1000. It barely has electrics, let alone electronics..

It won't be in any of the later British Leyland vehicles either - but then again so few of them are still capable of being driven any significant distance(*) that it probably doesn't matter.

(*)Not much of a change there really :)

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Inside the guts of Nano Server, Microsoft's tiny new Cloud OS

AndrueC
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I once managed to fit a working Windows 3.1 installation onto a 1.44MB floppy disk. It took me half a day to whittle things down and tweak system.ini.

It wasn't worth it.

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UK exam board wants kids to be able to Google answers

AndrueC
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Re: Speaking as a parent....

these are the people who may end up choosing your nursing home later on...

And they need sufficient skills to hold down a decent job so that their taxes can fund our retirement.

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E-voting and the UK election: Pick a lizard, any lizard

AndrueC
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When you're choosing 'the best of a bad bunch' it's hard to motivated. It's even harder to give a damn when the two main parties have borrowed so much off each other that it's hard to spot the underlying ideology and the alternative parties have too many silly ideas or are just too bland and faceless.

The only time I was ever seriously motivated to place my vote was when Kinnock acted like he was going to win a few days before the election and I immediately realised I had to act to help stop it.

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Welcome, stranger: Inside Microsoft's command line shell

AndrueC
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Re: Obscure knowledge got me a job ....

My memory actually goes back a little further than copy con...

pip test.txt=con:

:D

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AndrueC
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hence the InDOS flag

Wow, I just got that lovely 'plink' from my brain as you unlocked another chunk of memory. Thank you, sir for reviving an old memory. Have an upvote :)

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AndrueC
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Re: paths

With DOS it was the first one, which made trojan horsing much easier

True and arguably it's even worse than that. That's because command.com always looks in the current directory and only resorts to PATH after checking the cwd. So even if your PATH variable is empty you'll still execute programs in the cwd. I'm pretty sure there is no way to stop command.com looking in the cwd first but I vaguely recall that with 4DOS at least if PATH did contain '.' then it overrode the default behaviour and thus at least allowed you to push it further down the list.

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AndrueC
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Boffin

Re: Obscure knowledge got me a job ....

And when you had finished, you would

Ctrl-Z

Nah. I'd hit F6 instead :)

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AndrueC
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Microsoft didn't really "get" the idea of pipes or concurrency.

Ah now, that I agree with. Sorta. Except that MSDOS was never claimed to be a multi-tasking operating system so it's a bit harsh to criticise it for the workaround of using a temporary file. Clearly Microsoft were aware of the importance of piping and went to some lengths in order to fake it.

As for not supporting objects - well yes that's true but the article didn't use objects for that example. It quite specifically mentioned directory listings. As another commentard with more time on his hands (or a better memory) has pointed out that there was such a filtering program available so the specific example given in the article is entirely possible under MSDOS.

And a note to the downvoters - I'm not attacking PS here. I know it's better and I love it - have interfaced to it from C# on several occasions. The only reason I've posted these comments is to point out a factual inaccuracy in the article.

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AndrueC
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Except you could only pipe into certain commands

Well..yes. Piping only worked with programs that had been written to use stdin/stdout. It's unfortunate that for performance reasons a lot of command line programs chose to perform direct I/O rather than going that route but I'm not sure you can call that a limitation of MSDOS. MSDOS piping works with any application that sticks to the MDSOS API.

IIRC you could only pipe once - you couldn't daisy chain them

dir | sort | more

:)

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AndrueC
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Boffin

Piping is the next powerful ability of PowerShell. Piping uses the pipe symbol | to split commands and feed the latter to the former. So get-childitem | where name -notlike Windows would show you the directory listing, but excluding anything that matches the name Windows. You can't do that with a single command prompt line.

Yes you can. The MSDOS command shell supported piping. Try this:

dir c:\*.* /s | more

That's not what the example asks about but it does demonstrating that piping commands was available in MSDOS and had been since 3.x - maybe earlier for all I know. I don't think there there was a built-in command you could pipe to that excluded by name but it wouldn't have been difficult to write one.

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The huge flaw in Moore’s Law? It's NOT a law after all

AndrueC
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JUNK in your TRUNK is Amazon Germany's new delivery plan

AndrueC
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Re: Its a BOOT.

The cars that is, not the elephants.

What've you got against elephants? They can have a bonnet if they wish. Maybe a fetching tutu as well :)

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Fed-up Colorado man takes 9mm PISTOL to vexing Dell PC

AndrueC
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homeopathic store owner

Is that a store that's been broken down into billions of pieces too small to see then spread across the entire country?

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Google pulls plug on YouTube for older iPads, iPhones, smart TVs

AndrueC
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Re: The ONLY way to watch YouTube is...

I literally never see ads

Me neither - but then I only use it for golf instruction videos and some old TV shows if I'm feeling nostalgic. I don't think anyone's going to bother inserting adverts into Project UFO :D

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AndrueC
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Facepalm

Google, characteristically, has tried to cast the end of service in a positive light, describing it as an "upgrade."

Plus ca change. Blockbuster video took the same approach many years ago when they closed the store on my estate. Instead of a five minute walk to the local shops I had a fifteen minute walk (or five minute drive) to the town centre. Nonetheless this didn't stop them describing it as 'Your new convenient store'.

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So why exactly does almost ALL tech live in Silicon Valley?

AndrueC
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Re: I'm sorry, but some assumptions are wrong

First of all Silicon Valley isn't about technology of knowledge. Silicon Valley today is mostly about business trying to sell advertisements

Imagine taking that to its logical conclusion. Imagine a world where advertising is the only thing that matters. Oh wait. That was done several decades ago. I think that should be required reading. I read that when I was a teenager and promptly vowed to do everything I could to avoid adverts. Thirty years later I still honour that vow.

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Go for a spin on Record Store Day: Lifting the lid on vinyl, CD and tape

AndrueC
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Re: Actually...

Lossless digital audio is what you get on CDs. If you want lossless digital audio computer files on your handy portable device (or whatever), it's not so hard to buy the CD and rip it.

Okay, I'll give you that. I should have phrased it differently. I should have written '..download digital audio..'. I agree that a CD is lossless audio but it's a bit of a waste of plastic as far as I'm concerned. For collector's editions I can see the point but 99% of what I buy is just 'music wot I like' and there's nothing special enough about it or the artist to warrant getting a physical copy.

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AndrueC
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Meh

It's a shame it's so hard (almost impossible) to buy lossless digital audio but I've given up the battle. Frankly the way most modern music is engineered I'm probably better off not being able to hear the finer nuances that MP3 hides. If/when fidelity re-enters the engineer's and marketing dictionaries I might give a damn, Unfortunately I just don't think most people care so I'm going with the flow. MP3 is fine for a car and fine for outside listening on the cheap Bluetooth headphones I use.

Meh.

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America was founded on a dislike of taxes, so how did it get the IRS?

AndrueC
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Re: House prices

Have you seen the cost of train fares lately? Sod that.

Meh, it's not that bad from some places. I live in South Northants (rural area in the UK for those who don't know). I can get to a train station on the Chiltern line in 15 minutes. From there it's £452 a month for the journey to London and parking is £99. So that's about £26 to get to Marylebone and back. It'd be going on for £20 if you went by car and that's not allowing much for parking or congestion charges. I think it'd be worth £10 just to avoid having to deal with the M25 and London traffic. And Chiltern run a very reliable service which usually has enough room for most people to find a seat.

Birmingham (second biggest city for those who don't know) is cheaper - about £15 per day. Journey times for me are about 90 minutes door to door in both cases. I did the trip to B'ham for 14 months until earlier this year. In fact I'll give a shout out to any of my ex- travelling companions. I got out just before the line was blocked - literally one day before, lol.

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WW2 German Enigma machine auctioned for record-breaking price

AndrueC
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Re: And should Cameron win...

have no idea which particular bunch of bastards I'm going to vote for this time round, but I'm sure I'll feel soiled for having voted for them

Living where I do (South Northants) it doesn't make much difference anyway. Even if everyone who couldn't be arsed to vote chose to vote 'not blue' they'd probably still get the seat unless they all voted red.

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Conservative manifesto: 5G, 'near universal' broadband and free mobes for PC Dixon

AndrueC
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Joke

So the Conservatives can't define 5G. I'm not sure that the telecoms industry can either.

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Because the server room is certainly no place for pets

AndrueC
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Boffin

The article mentions the issue of SCO or Novell servers. Virtualisation will not solve that particular problem. They will still be running an ancient OS that no-one 'cept old Bob understands after you've virtualised them. Virtualisation is a hardware solution and as far as ancient servers are concerned it only means you don't have to worry (so much) about sourcing IDE drives or a replacement motherboard that the OS can still run on.

Although I'd still want long odds on someone being able to virtualise a Novell or SCO server in the first place :)

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Your home automation things are a security nightmare

AndrueC
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Re: Even it they were security aware..

Until IPv6 arrives, home devices will almost always hide behind Network Address Translation and DHCP-issued public IP addresses

You're absolutely right about NAT, yes, but I'm not sure what you mean by 'DHCP-issued public IP addresses'. None of these devices will have a public IP address if they are behind NAT. That would be whole point of it.

Now the router itself will in most cases have a DHCP assigned public address but there's still a lot of connections out there that have a static IP address assigned. And even if your connection has a dynamic IP address a lot of those are quite sticky these days, With connections staying up for days and often weeks at a time there's not as much churn as there used to be. The DHCP leases for some ISPs are several minutes as well so a short connection bounce might not be enough to generate a new address.

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Belgium to the rescue as UK consumers freeze after BST blunder

AndrueC
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Re: Election Time

Summertime rules are set by the EU

Not sure what statement you're trying to make there. Are you suggesting it would be better if member countries did whatever they wanted whenever they wanted as far as DST is concerned? Bearing in mind how fractious Europeans are the result would probably be chaos.

Surely even euro-sceptics have to draw the line somewhere and accept that a degree of coordination is better for the common good.

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AndrueC
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I'm sure I can't be the only one?

No, you're not. If the weather was cooperating a bit more I could get a round of golf in this evening after work and will be able to for several months. My preference is actually to start work at 8am so that I can get even more light after work. Sadly at the moment that's not an option so the switch to BST is very welcome.

Anyway as far as the article goes I'll just point out that the 7-day programmable, predictive thermostat that's been controlling my heating for over a decade had no problems. Its radio controlled clock changed to BST and it did exactly what it was supposed to. Tell me again - what's the advantage of Nest and similar?

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