* Posts by AndrueC

2536 posts • joined 6 Aug 2009

'Utterly unusable' MS Word dumped by SciFi author Charles Stross

AndrueC
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Meh

Word is a bit more tolerable if people do the following:

1. Use styles.

Seriously - don't just select 'Bold' for your headings. This goes for paragraphs as well. Create styles and use those.If you want to include text in a different font (eg; italics for quotes or fixed font for some source) create a style. Don't just rely on 'Normal'. Create a style for the text under each heading (Heading 1, Body 1, Heading 2, Body 2, Source 2 etc.).

It makes Word happier (probably because it reduces the mark-up it needs so documents are less fragile) and makes a lot of document-wide operations more sane (like disabling spell checking and auto formatting for source code paragraphs). If a document has multiple contributors it encourages conformity.

2. Never (ever. Seriously)

Edit or define hierarchically numbered heading styles. Life is too short. Your co-workers might tolerate some occasional profanity but no-one should be expected to put up with the torrent of abuse that you will unleash if you start messing with these styles.

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Linux clockpocalypse in 2038 is looming and there's no 'serious plan'

AndrueC
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Meh

Re: filesystem time on a Window box filesystem

You might want to think about (or look into) whether NTFS and FAT (and FAT32) all behave the same way in this respect.

That's true but you might want to consider that it's largely irrelevant. FATx is pretty much only used on USB sticks these days (and even then NTFS would be preferred unless portability with another OS was a factor). NTFS has been the default file system for hard disks since Windows XP. As a consequence it's pretty safe to say that 99.9% of documents created under Windows on a local disk file system will be created on an NTFS volume.

The 'Windows file system' is NTFS and has been for over a decade. FATx is just a legacy file system that Windows (in common with most OSes) supports for inter system compatibility reasons and is mostly only seen on portable devices.

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AndrueC
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Boffin

Also being picky, that is local system time, which isn't necessarily the same as world atomic clock time..

Ah but most (probably all) modern OSes are using UTC (aka GMT) internally. Local time is a user feature that modern OSes only bother with as a convenience for us. Anyone who has had to muck about with date/time processing knows that you never store or manipulate local time. It's too much hassle and too error prone.

You can see this on Windows (and presumably on Linux as well) in a month or so when the clocks go back. Create a file just before DST kicks in and note the creation time. Check it after DST has started and it'll have changed by an hour. That's because the file system stores the time as UTC and applies a locale specific conversion when displaying it. DST yields a different result for that conversion.

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Euro broadcast industry still in a fug over that 4K-ing UHD telly

AndrueC
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Re: "Satellite is the ideal way to distribute 4K. We will drive it just as we did with HD"

720p had no traction in Europe either as acquisition format or deliverable.

Indeed not. When you have had PAL and SECAM already for several decades 720i doesn't bring much to the table especially if you get a bit carried away with compression. Some EU countries even made use of PAL+ to deliver widescreen format over analogue although in the UK I think only C4 did that and probably only for films.

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Win! Classic El Reg tees, plus something special for the weekend

AndrueC
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Happy

Oh I'd go for a pint glass. My last one (an old TeamB glass from Borland cracked when I tapped it last month). And just 'cos I'm a programmer doesn't mean I can't play golf. I've got my scores down to double digits now I'll have you know :)

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AndrueC
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Unhappy

I thought you meant golf tees. I'm a bit disappointed.

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Vodafone didn't have a £6bn tax bill. Sort yourselves out, Lefties

AndrueC
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Re: Abolishing Corporation Tax

Is it really a good idea that everyone could defer tax indefinitely by stashing their savings in a company?

It's so good that we should give it a name. I suggest we call it 'Capital investment'. Maybe we could set up some kind of marketplace where the funds we stash away can be moved between different companies in order to best benefit us. Perhaps companies would see that as an opportunity to compete and we'd develop a kind of 'Darwinistic' survival of the fittest environment.

All we need now is a name for such a marketplace. Lemme think a minute.

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Game of Moans: Sky coughs to BORKED set top box BALLS-UP

AndrueC
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Re: Glad I am on Freesat

Not always. Talk to a T1000 user. Now there was a box that had difficulty remembering series links. But my Freesat HDR is working like a charm. The EPG is horribly sluggish at first but otherwise a lovely box.

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AndrueC
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Go

Re: SOP. Never consider rolling back the previous version.

The real issue is pisspoor testing of releases - probably ignoring the spread of hardware they've dumped over the years that somebody is still using.

To be fair to Sky I've been a subscriber for over a decade now (my first box was a silver Panny). Only once have I been seriously impacted by a firmware fault and they rolled that back within a week. I don't agree with all the changes they have made over the years but my various Sky boxes have been some of the most dependable and reliable kit I've owned.

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AndrueC
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Coat

sometimes it doesn't even ask if you want to series link

That's usually down to the channel concerned not having set the metadata up correctly. CI has done this a number of times as has Discovery. I usually fire off an email and they usually fix it. That can also be the reason why series links sometimes break but if rebooting brings them back then that sounds like the box.

But another pet hate of mine is the way some channels just start repeating earlier shows to prolong a series. History does this a lot. They seem to just start randomly inserting previous episodes as they get close to airing the final few.

On the plus side it seems that ITV have stopped using series link as a way to get every episode from every channel on Freesat. I gave up using series link on Midsomer Murders because even if you only marked the new episodes on ITV HD you also got the endless repeats on ITV 3. One case where the more powerful series link of Freesat was not an advantage.

History have done that only a few days ago. The series link for Storage Wars (stop giggling) suddenly linked across to the series of repeats. They've also been known to mark repeats as being part of the series so you get two or three recordings of everything throughout the week. Very annoying when you only have two tuners in the box because it's pot luck what will get dropped and Sod's law says it won't always be the repeat you saw the day before.

Oh and this is only tangentially related but: Why the fucking hell can't Discovery broadcast to its schedule. It doesn't show live programmes. It must be possible to know to the nearest nano-second when everything is going to end. So how the hell do they sometimes end up running two or even three minutes late? Stupid arseholes.

Mine's the one with the list of grievances in the pocket.

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AndrueC
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Meh

I've not noticed any problems which is a relief. My Samsung box is on a timer that cuts the power to it every night at 3am and doesn't restore it until 3pm. It wouldn't be the first time that power cycling a Sky box has meant I avoided problems. What I have noticed are a number of channels being careless with series link data.

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Boffins baffled by the glowing 'plumes' of MARS

AndrueC
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Joke

Re: Sing it with me...

If you start impersonating David Essex I'm leaving.

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Over 50? Out of work? Watch out because IT is about to EAT ITSELF

AndrueC
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Re: A few words of Interview advice

At 44 I'd consider that a risky strategy. To a manager it may suggest that you don't want too much responsibility, yet when you're 55 you'll probably stll expect a salary commensurate with your age.

It's a risky strategy and one I only slightly applied. I said I wouldn't mind being a team leader but loved coding so much I didn't want to be a manager. The trick is to demonstrate that you still have the passion of a youngster but tempered by many year's experience.

As for my salary at 55 - that's what a private pension is for. Not saying I will retire at 55 but I'm making damn sure that the option is on the table ;)

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AndrueC
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Re: Grey beards pricing themselves out of the market

The true learning bit is often just mastering a new syntax along the lines of where does the comma,semi-,colon go this time.

Oh yes. Along with 'Oh you've given it a [new] name now'. On a good day there's also 'Wow, that's a lot easier than all that code I had to write'.

Only very occasionally do you come across something truly new. Mostly it's just a matter of mapping old concepts to new buzzwords.

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AndrueC
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Re: @AndrueC

Outstanding result! May I ask what type of C# dev? As in, industry segment, wpf/wcf/asp.net etc?

My primary experience these days is desktop development using C# and Winforms. I do also have some WPF experience along with some SQL. Multithreading is something I've done sporadically over the years. Some in C++ (15 years or so), some in C# (the last decade).

As far as industry is concerned I've just spent a year or so in the financial industry but prior to that it was data recovery at the disk then the application level. I don't really concern myself too much with a particular industry. Aside from real specialist roles I tend to just look at it as coding. Gimme the tools and a spec and I'll write it :)

I live in South Northants which is a pretty good location. I was getting a lot of interest and had about eight interviews lined up or taken in total over the almost two weeks. And that was despite choosing not to bother with Birmingham or London since both are reachable in an hour or so. Milton Keynes seemed to be a particular common location.

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AndrueC
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On the plus side I'm 48 and a software developer (C# currently). It's taken me nine days and three interviews to find a new job. I don't (yet) see any sign of agism in software development.

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EE 'best' of the UK mobile network bunch, but how good is that?

AndrueC
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FAIL

What the survey doesn’t do is give any information on call quality

And presumably not much info on indoor signal strength either. I can get an acceptable signal in my back garden or on my driveway but in my 22 year old house the phone sometimes deregisters from the network and if I don't at least go upstairs there's little to no chance of holding a conversation.

On the plus side my landline continues to give excellent service.

I was doing okay until EE did its little merger dance but I think they must have rearranged their coverage and now I'm in an effective not-spot. Vodaphone's checker suggests it might be a better bet but that would be a deal with the devil.

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What time do you call this, BT? Late, state-funded broadband rollout plods on

AndrueC
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Meh

Re: Speed - what speed

However reality is that most times during the day I struggle to get 1Mb/s; video streaming is often so blighted with pauses I give up in disgust.

If you can currently connect at 17Mb/s at any time then you already have a pretty good connection. The fact you can't saturate that connection 24/7 is probably a separate issue to that being discussed here. It's possible that your exchange is congested but that's pretty unusual. BTor are fairly good at managing SVLAN/VP capacity. What does your exchange status say if you put it in here.

I'd be inclined to blame your ISP or possibly you are using a wifi connection and interference from your neighbours is limiting throughput during peak hours.

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AndrueC
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Happy

Ironically the programme for Cornwall involving BT, the EU and Cornwall Council has been going great guns and is ahead of schedule. Seems like the weak link here is the government.

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Crap mobile coverage costs UK biz £30m a week, reckons survey

AndrueC
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Unhappy

Reception was okay for me until EE merged. Now reception inside my house is more than a bit dodgy. Do I live in the arse-end of nowhere? No. I live in a small town on the A43 about five minutes from the M40.

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'Tech' City hasn't got proper broadband and it's like BT doesn't CARE

AndrueC
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Facepalm

An MP has told Parliament she was left "shocked and surprised" by BT's response that it was "not commercially viable" to improve broadband access

MP. Parliament. Fiscal responsibility.

Spot the odd one out :-/

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Breaking news: BBC FINALLY spots millions of mugshots on cop database

AndrueC
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Facepalm

MacGregor told the Beeb last night that there were "grounds for doubts" about the reliability of facial recognition tech.

That's strange. It always works on TV. It can spot a terrorist wearing a fake beard and dark glasses in the middle of a crowd of people. What could possibly be wrong with it?

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'Linus Torvalds is UNFIT for the WORKPLACE!' And you've given the world what, exactly?

AndrueC
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Re: He is right though, too many cooks does make for shite

Ah yes, I 'got out' of data recovery just about when the first 4k sector drives were coming onto the market. Our software would have handled it because we didn't hardcode block sizes. Good job too - we once had to do an AS400 recovery and those used 528 byte sectors IIRC. I think we also saw some 1024 byte sector sizes but I don't know where they came from.

Some of the last stuff I wrote was for Windows. The joys of SPTI. Lordy that was a right PITA from what I remember.

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AndrueC
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Boffin

Re: How bad is Torvalds?

Including 48-bit LBA? [evil grin]

Lol, I don't know. It's been a while since I had much to do with low-level disk access. I used to write data recovery software for a living. Our DOS imager would have no problems with it as the default mode was via int 13h and it knew about the extensions. It also it had a 'no BIOS' mode and just twiddled the old task file registers so that could be a fall back in some cases where the BIOS didn't support a drive properly.

Lot of water under the bridge now. From C++ under MSDOS to C# under Windows. 25 years of programming - and still going :)

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AndrueC
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Boffin

Re: How bad is Torvalds?

And there's still the unanswered chicken-and-egg issue of consumer-oriented non-mobile-friendly software.

Yes but I think the poster was addressing the statement that:

Actually, IIRC, MS-DOS doesn't like modern hardware.

I suppose it depends what is meant by 'doesn't like' as I dare say there are any number of peripherals for which MSDOS device drivers don't exist. MSDOS v7 supports FAT32 and LBA so that means they can handle filesystems up to 16TB so would be fine with most HDDs. If by some miracle/perversion someone(*) is still using MSDOS for something I'd be pretty confident that a brand new off the shelf PC would still do what they want.

It makes me cringe a bit to think of someone doing that but I'm pretty sure all PCs are still compatible with MSDOS.

(*)Actually I do know someone still using it. They use it in a forensic/data recovery environment. That's because it gives better control over the hardware. There's no 'interfering' kernel to get in the way.

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Landlines: The tech that just won't die

AndrueC
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Re: Cheaper alternative to truecall

CPR call blocker worked fairly well for me but it doesn't have the screening ability. For me that's the big draw with TC. With CPR I'd have had to block all anonymous callers and that was a step too far. With TC they get screened and so far I've not had any marketing types bother to even leave a message. As noted previously my GP's surgery did though.

But CPR is definitely a more affordable alternative.

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AndrueC
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Meh

Ah, so you've had some bad experiences. Can't say I ever have. There was once the time that an insurer double charged me but I just called my bank (Barclays) and they refunded the money by next working day. I have heard that some banks can be a pain when it comes to the DD guarantee but my single experience of Barclays suggested that it worked really well.

Hmmm. I - almost - complement Barclays and BT in one post. That's a bit disturbing :)

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AndrueC
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I haven't paid my line rental to BT for many years.

..snip..

I 'foolishly' allow New Call Telecom to 'raid' my bank account for £10.09

Ah so New Call Telecom pay BT for you. You can run and you can hide but as long as you're jiggling electrons on BT's local loop they will get their two kilogrammes of flesh :)

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AndrueC
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Stop

Re: Call filtering

How is it acceptable that, as policy, their outgoing phone calls look like scams?

I think it's mainly to protect patient privacy. Not everyone wants their partner or family to know that they are awaiting the results of a test especially since the only reason ours calls is if the test shows a problem. Some people might not even want family to know they've been to the GP recently.

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AndrueC
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Facepalm

Re: Call filtering

and another that slips my mind at them moment.

GP's surgery perhaps? A lot of them withhold their number. Mine does although the receptionist apparently hasn't grasped the basic principals of why it seems. She left a message on my answering machine saying asking so-and-so to call the Dr's surgery to discuss the results of their test. It was a wrong number.

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AndrueC
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WTF?

Even if you're foolish enough to allow a direct debit

What the hell is that supposed to mean? Why is it foolish to allow direct debits? I'd say that not paying bills through DD is foolish unless you have an unreliable income.

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Secret Service on alert after drone CRASHES into White House

AndrueC
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Joke

Re: There has been mention before

Lets face it, you need a news outlet to report a scare and not actually bother to check the source or facts first.

In the UK that probably means having the Daily Mail on speed dial. Hell they'd write up the story even if it never happened.

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Is it humanly possible to watch Gigli and Battlefield Earth back-to-back?

AndrueC
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Meh

Re: BE

The book is bad

I haven't read it in a while (I bought it in my last year at school more or less when it was first published) but from what I remember the first hundred pages were okay. I mean it's not literary brilliance but it was interesting and fun which is more than most 'post human civilisation' novels are. For me it all started to go downhill shortly after Jonnie began planning the revolution and the after they nuke Psycho it goes downhill fast. Entire chapters devoted to reverse engineering then redesigning the teleporter. And as for all that financial crap when he manages to find a way to avoid the foreclosure on Earth. Yuk.

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AndrueC
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Meh

I didn't think BE was all that bad. I think it's just one of those films that for some reason people took too seriously. I've read the book and I thought it was a pretty good adaptation. BE never was high science fiction. It's a ludicrously long comic book without any pictures. I am glad that they didn't bother with the sequel though. The second half of the book is a test of endurance with little to nothing to show for it when you do struggle through.

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Your anonymous code contributions probably aren't: boffins

AndrueC
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Re: @Dan 55 (was: C++ ...)

FWIW I believe that the Windows kernel is also written in C but its data structures are objects so in that sense it is object orientated.

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AndrueC
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Meh

The mainstream idea is that better programmers write shorter and cleaner code which contradicts with line of code statistics

It depends what is meant by 'cleaner' in this instance. Introducing an unneeded variable might be considered 'unclean' but it could improve readability and any half way decent compiler will optimise it out. In my experience short and concise code is harder to read and by trying to be too clever people are more prone to making mistakes.

Unless you're doing embedded coding you can pretty much rely on the compiler to generate better code anyway (especially with languages like C# and Java) so clarity of source is more important than keeping things short.

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NASA probe snaps increasingly detailed shots of MOIST DWARF goddess

AndrueC
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Continuing a theme: Maybe it's the Gateway asteroid. Now there's a challenge. I've always wondered if that was one teat I was willing to squeeze :)

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Give ALL the EU access to Netflix, says Vince Cable

AndrueC
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Re: TV Rights

Yeah, I don't know why I even mentioned Ireland. Maybe I meant to type 'Northern Ireland' (but that's probably an insult so let's assume not). Anyway it gave you a good reason to explain an even more stupid situation so that's good :)

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AndrueC
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Meh

Re: TV Rights

There's also the issue of 'FTA' v. 'FTV' that impacts satellite broadcasters. If I'm a UK channel and I want to broadcast the latest blockbuster I don't want to have to pay for the rights to broadcast it EU-wide. Unfortunately if my channel is being broadcast from Eutelsat 28A that's exactly what I'm going to be doing. An unencrypted channel is 'FTA' (Free To Air) and from that satellite anyone of over 300 million people can watch my output. The only workaround if I'm using this satellite would be to encrypt the channel and require viewers to have an appropriate decoding card. If I don't charge more than a handling fee for the card it becomes 'FTV' (Free to View). I can satisfy the rights holders by ensuring that the cards can only be sent to UK addresses.

The better solution would be to broadcast from a transponder that, nominally at least, only covered the UK and Ireland. Unfortunately until recently the only satellite that could do this (Astra 2A) was pretty much full. The refusal to support encryption is why Freesat doesn't carry all the free channels that Sky does. It was also the cause of the delay in getting 5 HD to air. In the end they reached an agreement with someone else (the BBC I think) to sublet space on Astra 2A.

Hopefully now that there's a new bird up there some channels might migrate over but it depends how long their current contracts run although (for better or for worse) it seems like 5 are not interested in going FTA at the moment. They may have an arrangement with Sky which is more lucrative.

One issue around regional rights that might be relevant here is translation. Anything that has to be translated needs to either wait for all translations to be complete or else chances are it'll have been seen by everyone before the translation is complete which lowers the value/revenue from translation.

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AndrueC
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Joke

Re: Cable and streaming

@Big_Ted: I think Timmay is trying to make a pun.

Vince Cable v. Virgin Cable

;)

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DVRs at the ready tonight: El Reg's motor Vulture is on the tellybox

AndrueC
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WTF?

Not that long ago (fewer than 10 years) I was helping my Dad sort stuff out after my Mum died and was surprised to find he was renting his telly.

Apparently some people still rent their telephones from BT.

"For example if you are older, disabled or vulnerable you may find it preferable to rent a telephone so that BT will be able to maintain the phone for you".

'maintain the phone for you'. Um..whut? You mean like come out and give it a wipe down once a week?

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AndrueC
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Boffin

Re: Freesat

Sky customers may be able to get it too?

I think it's around there in the Sky EPG as well. Even if not you only need the frequency/symbol rate/polarity and you can manually tune it in.

Edit: Looks like it might be channel 963. That's BBC One South East.

Alternatively unless you live in the provinces (Scotland or NI) BBC HD will be BBC London. They can't afford to carry as many different HD streams so they aren't very regionalised.

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Hollywood vs hackers: Vulture cracks Tinseltown keyboard cornballs

AndrueC
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FAIL

Re: @AndrueC

it's a ploy to keep the un-enlightened on the phone for a critical 59-seconds in the hopes that they can get a local patrol car to the location

That's a pet hate of mine with a lot of cop shows. In the closing scenes when they've worked out where the bad guys are it's usually the main characters who have to get up from their desks, jump into their cars then drive out and storm the premises to make the arrest. In most cases it's going to be quicker to just alert nearby patrols who are probably far closer.

And even worse (Criminal Minds is a big culprit here, along with later CSI seasons) who the hell decides to send expensively trained and educated investigative officers into a probable firefight? You send in the relatively cheap and expendable grunts first not the poindexters!

Bah. I'm definitely sounding like I watch too much TV now.

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AndrueC
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Stop

What a terrible show NCIS is

It was okay for the first couple of seasons when it was just a variant of the old cop show format. I mean it was nothing stellar but it entertained. But then they began to develop weird, long running story arcs where they take on the world's most evil people and save western civilisation as we know it all the while trampling over the rights of the general public.

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AndrueC
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Facepalm

Re: "it's a Unix system, I know this"

And I find it odd that you haven't included Jurassic Park.

Or one of the other novels he wrote, Sphere. There's a couple of classics in that. While investigating the strange signals they are getting they refer to them as being the 'Askey' code. Good ol' Arthur :)

Then later on there's a page of digits (and no letters). One of the characters says it's a hex dump (er..no way to know that given that there's no letters) then makes the comment that it can't be from a 68000 processor because they don't work in hex.

The mind boggles :)

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AndrueC
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Joke

Re: CSI?

For CSI whenever they do a fingerprint search I have to resist the temptation to tell them it would be quicker if it didn't waste time rendering the image on the screen :D

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AndrueC
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Happy

I thought this was to prevent suggestible loonies actually trying to connect to that fictional IP address. If it's in a movie it must be real, right?

I suppose it could be,actually, although using one of the private ranges would be pretty good.

Similar to the non-existent 555 exchange or area code used in telephone numbers.

Yeah. I think the UK system is better. It makes it harder to spot a fictitious number. Oh and I always rewind to take a quick look at the source code. It seems to nearly always be C.

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AndrueC
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Happy

Ah, Hollywood and IT. So much unintended humour.

Like IPv4 addresses where one or more octects is often greater than 255.

Or locating someone using the IP address of an email.

Or referring to a GPS device as a 'tracker'. In one example they chose a GPS device because the vehicle was going where there would be no cell phone coverage.

To say nothing of the infinitely zoomable digital image.

NCIS had in intriguing one last week. A laptop that they plugged a USB stick into which managed to infect their network through the power cable. My first reaction was to laugh.

Why would the technician allow the USB device to infect the laptop in the first place? But it's possible to imagine that as the only way to see what it did (a VM might be a better idea but it depends how good the sandboxing is). And she did put the laptop into a Farraday cage to prevent the infection spreading over the wifi network (and a clever virus could switch the wifi on so that was sensible). So that just left the question of an infection spreading through a power cable. Stupid? Maybe not. Perhaps all their laptops come with power-line networking support. Not completely impossible for a covert agency. But frankly I just ended up laughing..which annoyed the other person who was avidly watching it.

But for me the big annoyance is the way Hollywood still insists on having people stay on the line for at least half a minute so that the call can be traced. I don't think that's been needed in the Western world since before the turn of the century.

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