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* Posts by Steven Jones

1349 posts • joined 21 May 2007

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You get what you pay for: Kingston's SSDNow V310 960GB whopper

Steven Jones
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Re: A matter of precision

@DougS

In fact, HDDs have to fly their heads nanometres above the disk surface, not microns.

However, to go back to the original question why HDDs are cheaper (per GB) than flash storage, it's largely down to how the data is stored. On an HDD, the data is stored in the form of magnetic domains on a substrate. The manufacturing process does not require every single bit to be represented by a photo-lithographic process. So once that bit of high-precision engineering has been produced to fly the heads into the right position (and decades of engineering have minimised that process), the coating comes relatively cheap. That's also why tape store is (per GB) less than on disk. The coating comes cheap.

The other issue is that each new generation of flash storage requires an immense investment in new equipment as it's dealing with fundamentally smaller elements. You can't, for instance, simply take something designed for 20nm elements and adapt it to 14nm. In contrast, the mechanical side of HDDs has remained relatively static for a long time. Platters, bearings, motors. servos and so on are pretty well the same save that a bit more precision is required in track location and following. The heads have to be designed to fly lower and with narrower gaps, but the process is more one of refining and evolution than having to throw out a whole plant.

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Steven Jones
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Write endurance /= reliability

Surely write endurance and reliability are two things which are only loosely connected. The first is essentially the lifetime of the device for a given workload pattern whilst reliability is much better descried using failure rate figures within the drive's anticipated lifetime.

However, I'd certainly sit up and take notice of those write endurance figures. If they are to be believed, and there aren't other factors at play, this would really open the device up for use in enterprise storage uses, especially if the storage device can balance write loads over many devices so that "hot spots" don't arise.

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White LED lies: It's great, but Nobel physics prize-winning great?

Steven Jones
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Re: LED Lighting: RGB vs UV/Blue + White/Yellow Phosphor

That's correct. In practice, most white LEDs don't produce "white" light by mixing primaries. The do it by using a phosphor coating which "downshifts" much of the blue light to longer wavelengths and mixing this with the blue light that penetrates the phosphor layer.

Of course, none of these technologies produce the continuous (black-body) spectrum of an incandescent bulb, although many people seem to believe they do.

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Revealed: Malware that forces weak ATMs to spit out 'ALL THE CASH'

Steven Jones
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Physical access to the machines control system doesn't give you access to the money cassettes. That's totally different. Bank staff, for instance, will have access to some parts of the machine to recover things like "swallowed" cards. What they won't have is access to the hardened money "safe".

It's far easier to gain access to the control panels than the money safe. The real issue is that it is so easy to "infect" a machine with malware.

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Top 10 SSDs: Price, performance and capacity

Steven Jones
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Unless you are doing something truly exception, hitting the write endurance limit is simply not an issue. Save that consideration for those running update intensive server applications. Most likely something else will fail on your machine first. HDDs don't have an indefinite like either (and don't make the mistake of thinking MTBF gives you expected lifetime - it doesn't; it's a statistical value that applies to devices within their rated lifetime and, generally, HDD manufacturers never give you rate lifetimes).

As for relocating MyDocs, MyMusic and so on, that's very easy. Assuming you are using Windows 7 or 8, then what I do is assign a system partition on the SSD large enough to take all the system files, program files and so on with plenty of room for expansion. Next I create a data partition on the SSD, which is where I place my MyDocs folder. Then, on an HDD I create partitions for my major data areas (like video, pictures). I then mount these as sub-folders in MyVideo, MyPictures. That way all these "mass storage" areas appear in subfolders in the relevant storage areas (you can also use symbolic links, but I prefer to "hard partition" the mass storage areas).

Of course you don't have to place MyDocs on the SSD. You can place it on an HDD, but personally I find that it's useful to be able to place some data files on the SSD for speed purposes. For example, I place my email client files on the SSD, and some applications (like Lightroom) greatly benefit from keeping the meta-data files on the SSD. As a general point, be careful to make sure that programs (like email clients) place their data and, as far as possible, config files in the data area. That way it's much easier to move to a new machine.

I backup the system partition using an imaging product (which allows me to restore the system without wiping out data). I backup the data areas using a synchronising backup to an external disk (USB3 in my case, but NAS eSATA etc. will work too). I prefer sync type backup as it allows me to mount those onto another machine and get to my data.

The general principle is you should always have a backup regime which is designed for the worst case. Any disk can fail catastrophically, so design the regime such that you don't lose everything. If all the things to worry about, write-persistence is one of the last to consider.

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Steven Jones
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Re: alas

Valuing storage solely by £/GB is like comparing food on the basis of how many calories you can buy. Yes, it's a factor, but far from the only one.

I did work for a company once where the accountants actually did work on that principle. They seemed to have great trouble understanding why anything else might matter...

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Steven Jones
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Re: I don't get it

For most users the PCIe performance gain will simply not show. Also, SATA reviews are applicable to more people. They fit laptops as well as desktops. It also doesn't involve complex issues over drivers, boot arrangements and so on.

For the most part, it's not throughput that makes the user experience so much better with SSDs, it's the vastly reduced latency and (the other side of that coin), increased IOPs. I'd venture for most people, 500MBps is going to be plenty. I think PCI-e is almost a separate market and really won't figure in considerations unless you are the ultimate speed freak or have some specialist server application.

If it's things like boot time, system responsiveness and application start-up times that matter, then the real-world difference you'll see on most PCs will be very small. That's not surprising, as most applications will have other resource bottlenecks (like cpu, network activity, or interactions with devices other than storage). These latter start to dominate response times.

For example, see this.

http://www.overclock.net/t/1489684/ssd-interface-comparison-pci-express-vs-sata

If you really must have hyper-fast copying of large files or are running an incredibly I/O intensive enterprise app, then go ahead. But my guess is that this is irrelevant to most people wanting a "consumer level" SSD. All of them will transform the user experience, and it's probably ease of migration, reliability and price that's is most important for this sort of comparison.

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Ellison: Sparc M7 is Oracle's most important silicon EVER

Steven Jones
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Re: Boastful bravado

The announcement appears to be an acceptance that Sparc is no longer a general purpose processing chip but something optimised for running Oracle applications. Admittedly that's an awful lot in the application space - it's not just databases of course. However, it does seem a retreat from what SPARC was once mooted to be. A high-speed RISC general purpose, cost-effect, CPU that could compete on all aspects of performance and suit a wide range of applications.

Of course the real problem is that the T series essentially gave up on single thread performance in favour of increased aggregate throughput. It's a bet that applications will be developed to suit this architecture. As many of us found when deploying T series machines (often bought by senior managers who swallowed SUN's line of power efficiency, throughput and virtualisation), they were fundamentally crippled for some sorts of applications. It often showed itself up where latency was an issue. Call centres are expensive to operate, and keeping agents (and customers) hanging around for slow systems is not efficient.

As it is I would not choose SPARC except for reasons of supporting legacy applications.

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WHY did Sunday Mirror stoop to slurping selfies for smut sting?

Steven Jones
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Re: Entrapment???

It's not entrapment in the legal sense by a law enforcement agency, but entrapment according to one of the other recognised definitions. See meaning 2 (a), which would seem to cover it.

Is to why quote an example in criminal law, as Andrew did, the justification would appear to be that the press can justify their actions under the press code by analogy to the way it's interpreted by the coursts as applying to criminal law. Quite why he chose a US example though, I'm not sure as the interpretation of entrapment is different in the two regimes. Generally the US allows the legal enforcement agencies far more freedom. Witness the various cases involving exports of arms perpetrated by the FBI. Those would not be allowed in UK law.

en·trap (n-trp)

tr.v. en·trapped, en·trap·ping, en·traps

1. To catch in or as if in a trap.

2. a. To lure into danger, difficulty, or a compromising situation. See Synonyms at catch.

b. To lure into performing a previously or otherwise uncontemplated illegal act.

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Steven Jones
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Re: the Mirror couldn't even take its own selfie

I've no doubt papers used to be lazy (remember all those stories of never ending expense-paid lunches, corrupt employment practices for printers and so on). However, those halcyon days have gone. These days newspapers (with a few exceptions) are under enormous financial pressure with their circulation eroded by media fragmentation and the internet. Then there other main source of income, advertising is being strangled by competition from the on-line world. Even those papers with successful on-line presence can't get anywhere near recovering the difference.

So the short story is, they aren't so much unwilling to do proper journalism as unable to finance it.

nb. what's true for newspapers is also true for free-to-air broadcasting financed by advertising.

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Ordnance Survey intern plonks houses, trees, rivers and roads on GB Minecraft map

Steven Jones
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Re: Liverpool underground nightclubs!

Down to a sunless sea.

Which accurately describes the Irish Sea on most summers.

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SanDisk Extreme Pro SSD – courting speed freaks and gamers

Steven Jones
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Re: An important question : SSD failure modes?

I'm not talking abut enterprise arrays (the article was not about such things). Where I used to work we had storage measured in petabytes and databases in the 100s of GB. Those sort of devices are actively monitored and, in any case, use RAID protection. Pre-emptive swapouts happened, but complete failures happened too. Sometimes the pre-emptive swapouts were done because of unexpected failures over a number of drives and batch failures were present.

No, I was referring to my own personal experience of consumer grade units. The monitoring of those is poor and I would hazard a guess that the vast majority of users never look at the smart stats and, in any case, wouldn't have much of a clue on what they mean. Also my experience dates back a long time when such stats didn't exist or were poorly monitored. The few clues you used to get were things like sticky bearings stopping the drive spinning up (a sharp rap with a screwdriver handle). The catastrophic failures tended to involve a lot of clicking or floods of I/O error messages followed by a locked up machine. Or a laptop that didn't work. (Or a PVR that stopped working).

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Steven Jones
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Re: An important question : SSD failure modes?

All the HDDs I had failed completely without warning. If people base their backup model on having warning of an impending failure then they are playing a dangerous game. Admittedly I've not had an HDD failure for a few years, but you have to be prepared for the worse.

Anyway, with 10 year guarantees, perhaps we'll hear less about write endurance which, for the vast majority of uses outside of enterprise servers, is simply not a serious issue.

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What the 4K: High-def DisplayPort vid meets reversible USB Type C

Steven Jones
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Re: sigh

True, in part, but as there are no commercial (or broadcast) systems generate more than 60fps and much of the original material is captured at 24 or 25ps, 240Hz gets you nowhere.

Video games might be different, but super-high frame rates for broadcast are pointless.

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Steven Jones
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Re: sigh

Motion blur is part of how moving images work. Indeed there are some cinematic advantages in having the blur in frames rather than the eye having to reconstruct it through the persistence of vision. Bear in mind that the great majority of films used to be shot at 24fps with a two blade shutter to greatly reduce flickering.

Indeed much electronic capture is also done at 24 or 25fps to maintain a "cinematic" look.

What high (video) frame rate can help with is dealing with flicker through higher refresh rates, and there's some evidence that there's evidence that 100Hz is preferable to 50Hz in that respect. But high refresh rates has nothing to do with "motion blur". High refresh rates also don't have to be done in the source. They can be synthesised by the display device.

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A SCORCHIO fatboy SSD: Samsung SSD850 PRO 3D V-NAND

Steven Jones
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Re: Worst article in ages

"I feel violated, thanks for wasting my time."

What a drama queen...

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Brit telcos warn Scots that voting Yes could lead to HEFTY bills

Steven Jones
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Re: If prices go up, we’ll know whom to blame.

I cannot imagine that the the UK (which has a veto) would agree to Scotland the EU unless it had a Schengen opt-out. I also expect that will be agreed as part of any independence negotiations as part of the agreement to have an open border with Scotland. Ireland is, after all, not part of the Schengen agreement. It may, or may not cause accession problems into the EU. Just one of those unknowns.

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Steven Jones
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Re: Obligations

Scotland would, like any independent state, be legally able to nationalise any asset on their land. However, they'd have to pay compensation or face enormous international consequences (especially if they were a member of the EU).

So the nationalisation of the assets (money aside) is not really the issue. The problem is untangling a highly integrated organisation and, especially, the IT systems which are largely split on functional, not regional grounds. Also the IPRs would remain with the registered company (in the UK) as would any licencing deals. So, plenty of work for lawyers, accountants and IT people...

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Steven Jones
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Re: More scare mongering

Indeed. The Scots could only nationalise the assets (for which they'd have to pay compensation or be an international pariah). However, their real problem will be trying to separate off what is a tightly integrated national company with common IT systems (most of them split on functional, not regional basis). All the IPRs for those systems will reside with the original company (registered in the UK) and you can bet that every single software and hardware vendor will require a renegotiation of their licences and support contracts for what will be a new organisation.

However, the big problem will be splitting all those IT systems into separate, national ones. That's, to put it mildly, a huge logistical problem fraught with difficulties and costs.Of course they could decide to just nationalise the assets covered by Openreach and, maybe, BT Wholesale. I'm sure such issues could be fixed, eventually, but it would come at a considerable cost.

Another little interesting issue is who would, in the event of such a renationalisation, be responsible for that part of the pension deficit attributable to BT pensioners (current and future). The employment contracts will have been variously made with the GPO, The Post Office and BT and so I would expect some form of split of responsibility.

So plenty of work for the lawyers, accountants and software people.

nb. a side-effect of the Ofcom/BT resettlement into three separate entities is that it would be operationally much easier to split along the OR/BTW/BTR boundaries than on regional lines. The latter formed no part of Ofcom's considerations.

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Steven Jones
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Re: If prices go up, we'll know who to blame.

Dead easy. It doesn't matter what the country is called, but the Scots will be legally leaving the UK. It's also well established in International law that were a relatively small part (in population) of a state gains independence, the "continuing state" effectively remains signatory of international treaties.

Not one single politician of any note that I've heard of, whether UK or EU has questioned that principle.

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Steven Jones
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Re: duh

Scotland can't "stay" in the EU as it's a new country and will have to be admitted as such. As for the UK leaving the EU, that's predicated on the Conservatives getting an overall majority (looking unlikely) and getting a "yes" to leave after the results of any renegotiating.

nb. one benefit to the Scots in not being a member of the EU is that they would have full control of their fishing waters. The Norwegians do a rather better job of administering theirs than the EU does of a what they view as, in effect, a common asset.

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Britain's housing crisis: What are we going to do about it?

Steven Jones
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That 2-3% figure of land occupied by buildings, according to the UK National Ecosystem Assessment is what's left of the 10.6% of England categorised as urban after removing the space occupied by gardens, allotments, parks, playing fields, open water and other green spaces.

So yes, you can build more, but at the expense of higher density housing, loss of green spaces, loss of gardens and a general reduction in amenities. Also, all that new housing requires amenities so that 2-3% number is highly misleading.

The real problem is too many people, but as nobody is going to come up with a solution to that any time soon, we are stuck with it.

So it's certainly possible to increase the supply of housing and, probably, decrease the price, but the environment will get more crowded, there will be less public and private space per person and it will be made even worse by attracting yet more people into the most overcrowded parts of the country. The price of space will continue to go up with the population.

The demand is not that of people already resident in the UK but those with the aspirations to be residents as well.

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Love XKCD? Love science? You'll love a book about science from Randall Munroe

Steven Jones
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Just keep near the surface

I'd be a bit worried if something significant did happen to anybody taking a swim in a spent nuclear fuel pool unless they were unwise enough to try and and swim down near the fuel (even then, exposure will be limited as there's a limit to how long people can hold their breathe; that's assuming nobody is using diving equipment). After all, besides cooling, the pools are designed to be deep enough to shield anybody at the surface from significant levels of exposure to radiation. They only need to be about 6m deep for that purpose, and are all at least twice that depth.

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China building SUPERSONIC SUBMARINE that travels in a BUBBLE

Steven Jones
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Re: I don't get it @Tom 64

Supercavitation does not vapourise and recondense all the liquid in the path of the "missile", just a relatively small proportion. The process is used to generate the bubble in which the object travels and massively reduces surface friction.

Most of the water will be displaced, but due to the very low friction the energy used in pushing the water aside will (mostly) be returned when it collapses back together after the "missile" bubble has passed.

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Bright lights, affordable motor: Ford puts LED headlights onto Mondeo

Steven Jones
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Re: Great, maybe...

The crazy thing is when you see somebody storming down the motorway at 70+ with read fog lights on. Either visibility is such that you don't need your fog lights turned on, or you shouldn't be doing anything like 70 mph.

Personally I hate rear fog lights being turned on at the slightest hint of mist or rain. Not only do they dazzle, but they also mask brake lights as both are rated the same (23 W I think).

Rear fog lights should only be used for really poor visibility when you should be traveling relatively slowly.

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Govt control? Hah! It's IMPOSSIBLE to have a successful command economy

Steven Jones
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Red Plenty...

Rather than read this fairly workaday piece by Tim Worstall, then I'd suggest getting a copy of "Red Plenty" by Francis Spufford. It's a semi-fictionalised version of the attempt to produce a planned economy in the Soviet Union, mixing up real characters. It paints a picture of idealistic economists trying to produce workable and attempting to reconcile them with party dogma. It also paints the role played by black marketeers and attempts to handle the rigidity of the systems. For good measure, it's also got an evocative picture of how lung cancer develops and an incredibly painful insight into what might be called a Soviet baby factory.

It's written with a good deal of sympathy for those who were young and idealistic and is no simple condemnation of the system.

It's a bit difficult to categorise as a book, but as with all Francis Spufford's books it's written with enormous panache and style.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Red-Plenty-Francis-Spufford/dp/0571225241/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1407933868&sr=8-1&keywords=red+plenty

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Stephen Hawking biopic: Big on romance, not so much with the science?

Steven Jones
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Re: Mr Hawking – Over-rated - Big Bang Mythology

Revered worldwide I'd say. Hardly just a UK phenomenon. However, you surely know the answer. It is that image of a great mind (and it is a great mind) trapped in a flawed body. Icons matter.

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America's hot and cold spots for broadband revealed in new map

Steven Jones
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Re: Average?

@Ole Juul

Absolutely. They should be reporting on percentile figures, like medians, quartiles and so on. A far better way of characterising statistics where there is a huge disparity between the bottom and the top of the range. That's why median income level is favoured over average. It far better represents the "typical" experience.

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London cops cuff 20-year-old man for unblocking blocked websites

Steven Jones
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Re: even if he did...

It's absolutely the same in the UK (with the same issues over interpretation). If somebody acts as to subvert an injunction, then they may - and I repeat may - be committing a criminal act.

Of course it's no surprise that US and UK jurisdictions are similar in this area as both are based on the same common law roots.

There are two interesting things here. The first is the reach of the law. A UK citizen resident in the UK is an easy target. The second, and maybe more worrying, is if the scope was ever extended to those who give advice on how to bypass injunctions on ISPs. The latter would make a huge number of people vulnerable, but as the common law in this area is not well established, who knows.

Incidentally, in this case I suspect the USA authorities will (eventually) close loopholes as the US is, if anything, far more intent on "protecting" IPR than is even the UK or EU authorities. I think there are already treaties being discussed...

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Brit kids match 45-year-old fogies' tech skill level by the age of 6

Steven Jones
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The real meaning of DQ...

The real meaning "Digital Quotient" is not so much how "technical savvy" somebody is, but rather a measure of how susceptible they are to being consumers of the latest products and services from Internet and gadget companies.

So not so much a reflection of understanding, but more a statement of fashion sense in the world of being a consumer of hi-tech services and products...

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Call off the firing squad: HP grants stay of execution to OpenVMS

Steven Jones
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Re: Jealousy reigns

DEC Alpha didn't streak away from anything. DEC got into trouble as it became greedy and complacent as it took its customer base for granted, charging ridiculous amounts for such basics as TCP/IP stacks. When a whole host of UNIX-based "hot box" companies came along, companies voted with their wallets to what they saw as a more open market where competition drove down pricing. DEC's reaction came too little and too late and VMS became just a legacy products with high costs.

Of course the independents selling UNIX based kit all gradually succumbed from competition and the impact of commodity hardware and growth of Linux and Windows servers. Only the big-boys survived, and even SUN fell into the hands of Oracle.

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4K video on terrestrial TV? Not if the WRC shares frequencies to mobiles

Steven Jones
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Re: A little alarmist...

The decision to open up the spectrum is not the same as actually having to deploy it. I know there are border issues so that adjacent countries have to coordinate allocation of bandwidth at a detail level, but that's mostly an issue for countries with land borders and not the UK (well, unless Scotland votes "yes").

So I don't see any reason why if country A wants to use a given band for mobile usage why country B has to implement it.

(nb. I am aware that there are actually issues with overlapping bandwidths between France and the UK such that transmission powers and direction are actually something which are subject to agreement at the narrower parts of the channel, but I don't think it changes the principle).

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Steven Jones
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A little alarmist...

Unlike the analogue switchover, politicians will get involved with this if Freeview was to be crippled. The reason there was no big outcry over loss of analogue was that DTV gave clear advantages. More channels, better quality (assuming the broadcaster didn't choose stupidly low bit rates) plus all the advantages of PVRs. All those VHS recorders had clearly had their day and we were also at the point where people were swapping out old CRTs for flat screens. In the big picture of things, the costs were modest and most people didn't have to do much save buy the right receiving equipment.

In short, all the planets were in alignment and it was, bar a few, clearly in (almost) everybody's. However, if the Freeview platform itself came under threat, then expect all hell to break loose. There are lots of issues with broadband as a universal platform; holes in the coverage, cost to viewers and reliability. If your broadband goes down at the moment, you've got the option of watching TV. If that's dependent on the same delivery system, then you're out of luck until it's fixed.

That leaves Freesat, but not everybody want's to stick a dish on their house (assuming they've got a reasonable location), and it means chucking away serviceable hardware with no obvious advantage. In a house with many receivers there's also a distribution problem. It's not as simple as putting a distribution amp in the loft space.

If there are sufficient grumbles, then it politically won't work. Think of all the issues that have arisen with shutdown of FM radio. People see very few advantages, but what the do get is a situation where their car radio won't work apart from and expensive swap-out or some nasty kludge which means their steering-column controls don't work.

nb. I see little point in 4K as, in the average UK living room, people sit far too far away from the TV screen to see any difference unless you buy a simply huge TV screen. Much better that any more bandwidth or improved codecs are used to enhance HD quality (which is often abysmal).

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Scotland's BIG question: Will independence cost me my broadband?

Steven Jones
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Re: Promises

From what I've read it would appear those born in Scotland would be automatically be granted Scottish citizenship, but other nationalities resident there, or those with other claims (like Scottish parents or grandparents) would have to apply and be granted citizenship by whatever means i

An interesting question is going to be which government will be responsible for paying state pensions (or, for that matter paying out occupational pensions for government employees where there's no funded scheme - such as civil servants). Entitlement for state pensions will have been by NI contribution whilst in the UK, but as there's not funded scheme, it just comes out of general taxation. Are future old age pensions then going to be paid by residency at the time of independence? Is it going to be by nationality (in which case, what about the very large number who will have dual nationality).

In all, this is is just one of thousands of detailed issues that arise from independence, and it's all meant to be sorted out (amicably) in a couple of years.

nb. interesting question - who will represent the interests of the "RUK" in the event of a yes vote? I would expect citizens of the RUK and Scotland respectively to want the best possible deal for themselves. As the "yes vote" has been taken in the absence of the actual terms of independence, then what happens if agreement isn't reached? Fascinating stuff.

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Steven Jones
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Splitting utilities on geographical lines?

Should Scotland become independent, then I can see that if the regulation becomes more onerous, it will be in the interests of several utilities, and their respective shareholders, to divest split into separate subsidiaries on geographic lines and even, perhaps, into wholly separate companies.

There would be tricky issues to resolve, especially where, historically, services such as IT are fully integrated. This could lead to a considerable increase in costs. But, if the regulatory regimes across the border are very different, then this would inevitably increase costs too.

In the case of some utilities (including that of BT), it may not be in the interests of Scots as I'm pretty sure that the (overall) lower population densities and greater distances involved will mean that the network north of the border is more expensive to maintain (per property) than that of the more densely populated rest of the UK. That might lead to wholly different calculations for things like wholesale line cost calculations.

Of course it might leave some interesting questions on how pension deficits are to be funded, although I imagine such liabilities could also be split on geographical lines.

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Stick a 4K in them: Super high-res TVs are DONE

Steven Jones
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Re: aware of the benefits of 4K

Personally, I don't see that my personal experience of a film is going to be much improved, if at all, by tiny perceptual differences like that unless I have a dedicated home cinema room. Even then, I'd gladly swap some sort of techno-fix for quality of writing, acting, plotting and screenplay. Measuring film quality by pixels strikes me as a strange game.

It's reckoned that at 2m or so, you need a 55 inch screen or more to perceive any difference in 4K. As I sit 2.6m away that makes for something more like 75 inches. Far too big for my room. Really something for those with dedicated home cinemas.

nb. the "streamers" ought to think about upgrading their HD bandwidths. If they want to use 10mbps+, then that's probably going to make a bigger qualitative difference to the "viewing experience" than heavily compressed 4K.

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Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network

Steven Jones
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Re: Not wanting to defend plod, but

There's no "alleged tracability". If you connect via FON, you arrive on the Internet via a completely public IP address using logon credentials. The traffic is just as traceable as that for any traffic coming from a device connected to your home network. Indeed, more so as there are not credentials passed from devices on your home network to the ISP (unless there's a back-door in the router which logs MAC addresses and sends them to the ISP).

Of course, somebody could always steal your details, but that is true of any public network where you logon with a userid and password. Indeed, it's true of somebody who gains access to your home network logon details (how many people freely give their WiFi passwords to friends and family to put in their phones and other devices; how secure are those?). The only systems which are really proof against stolen details are where one time password devices are required.

This is plod knowing a little and thinking he's somehow qualified to lecture the world. If he wants a security problem to worry about, then it's about accessing public networks at all. It would be pretty easy to mimic a BT FON connection.

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ARM: We've signed 41 new deals and we are IN to the Internet Of Stuff

Steven Jones
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What's the real market size of x86 vs ARM

ARM is a minnow in comparison with Intel. However, this surely gives an entirely misleading view of the relative value of the ARM semiconductor processor/gpu market vs that of the Intel x66/gpu one. It would be interesting to see such a comparison to give an idea of the relative financial strengths of the two competing architectures.

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FLAPE – the next BIG THING in storage

Steven Jones
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"El Reg wants to know: Could a disk read/write head work on more than 1 track at a time? Wouldn’t that increase disk I/O bandwidth?"

I theory yet, but in practice (with modern high density drives) it's not practicable. It's certainly not possible to put two completely independent head mechanisms on a disk due to vibration and air-flow issues. The other option, to have a single head with multiple read-write heads comes right up against the problem that the tracks are simply far too close together on disk to be written simultaneously. I suppose you might conceivably have some sort of staggered arrangement whereby the "parallel" tracks are being written a little distance apart, but I suspect problems will remain over heat dissipation, the size and weight of the head, error recovery and so on.

The reason that reading/writing tracks on tape is practical is that they are much wide apart (and they don't have to be moved fast).

nb. I seem to recall back in the days of fixed-head disks there were some that could work in parallel, although that may be my imagination.

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BT: Whew, we've been cleared of major privacy breach. Oh SNAP, another webmail blunder

Steven Jones
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Re: Why is BT relying on a US supplier for webmail?

What in-house resources? The great majority of development and support is off-shored in an attempt to keep costs down. Buying in solutions from specialists is the norm in business these days due to economies of scale (did you not notice the previous system was run by Yahoo! ?).

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10Gbps over crumbling COPPER: Boffins cram bits down telco wire

Steven Jones
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Re: "...can't I pay a regular ADSL type service charge?"

ISPs already offer TV & Films over broadband in the UK (as do the likes of NetFlix). You can buy them as bundles. However, there's a major difference in the regulatory regime in that there's no option to cross-subsidise infrastructure roll-out from retail revenues. Wholesale line rental is subject to extremely tight regulation, and whilst FTTC wholesale pricing is not regulated as yet, it has to be sold as a wholesale service to all operators.

The consequence? A lot of retail competition, but not much money for infrastructure investment.

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Steven Jones
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Re: not round here

VDSL and FTTC makes no difference to the copper run to the exchange. Apart from passing through a low-pass filter at the cabinet, there's no difference. Indeed, if you had ADSL before, the line would have passed through a similar low-pass filter at the exchange. (Plus a similar low-pass filter in your house). Unless there was a poor connection made at the green box, then I can's see why there would have been any difference to call quality at all.

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Russian law will force citizens' personal data to be stored locally

Steven Jones
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They could make business more difficult.

The Russians might not easily be able to prevent their citizens using Facebook, Twitter or the like, but they can make it very difficult for such services to make money from local advertising or local financial transactions. Of course, with services like eBay or Amazon, it's essentially impossible to operate without some form of local presence.

Bear in mind the US authorities became very aggressive with companies that offered on-line gambling to their citizens.

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BT and TalkTalk BOTH claim victory as Ofcom tackles fibre price row

Steven Jones
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Re: That old horse:

BT ducting is available under PIA.

http://www.openreach.co.uk/orpg/home/products/ductandpolesharing/ductandpolesharing/ductandpolesharing.do

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How practical is an electric car in London?

Steven Jones
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Re: @ecofeco

Indeed. The only way that the ICE will disappear is if somebody comes up with a cost effective fuel cell which can work off high energy content liquid fuels (perhaps ethanol). I discount liquid (or compressed) hydrogen as producing it is thermodynamically highly inefficient and it's tricky to store and distribute.

Batteries have fundamental capacity constraints dictated by electrochemistry. Lithium is already just about the best candidate we have, as it is the third lightest of the elements, but it still has very poor energy storage (in battery form) when compared to hydrocarbon fuels. Battery powered vehicles could well have a role in short range, commuting and delivery functions, but not for long range delivery or a general purpose family vehicle. For those, some form of easily transportable liquid fuel will surely still be best, and at the moment, the ICE is what we have.

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NASA beams vid from space via laser

Steven Jones
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Wildly misleading NASA claim. This is why...

NASA's claim is wholly misleading. A 1 metre diameter receiving dish might well subtend approximately the same angle as the diameter of a human hair at 30 feet, but that's not the most important factor. What is far more important is the degree of divergence of the laser beam, which you can guarantee is far more than a metre by the time it hits the Earth's surface.

Human hair isn't a great standard measure, as the size varies a lot. However, if we take 2/1000th of an inch, it will subtend an angle of about 5 micro-radians. To a good degree of approximation, laser beam divergence depends on the minimum (waist) diameter of the beam and the (1,500nm) wavelength. If we take a reasonable beam "waist diameter" of 1mm, that gives a beam radial divergence angle of about 470 micro-radians. In other words, the degree of precision required is, perhaps, only about 1/100th of that claimed. Also, of course, the ISS moves in a rather smoother, and predictable manner than a human being walking.

To put this in perspective, it's reckoned that competition level target rifles can manage accuracies as high as 100 micro-radians, albeit, not hand held of course.

Plug in the minimum ISS orbital height of the 350km, and you get a beam diameter of about 160 metres, so the receiver only has to be in that area. Of course the transmission was likely at a considerably greater distance than the minimum ISS orbital height, but then that doesn't change the degree of accuracy required.

ps. sorry about the mixed units, but that's NASA for you, quoting wavelengths in nm and distances in feet. You'd have thought by now, having crashed a probe due to mixing up systems, they'd have stuck with the metric system.

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Vodafone: SPOOKS are plugged DIRECTLY into our network

Steven Jones
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Re: Stop taking GCHQ money the first place Vodafone Executives!!!

There's no "allowing" involved. It will be mandated by government.

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Oh, wow. US Secret Service wants a Twitter sarcasm-spotter

Steven Jones
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A bit late for Paul Chambers

If the UK authorities had such a filter, it might just have saved Paul Chambers quite a lot of trouble, as it was fairly clear that the police, prosecution and lower levels of the judiciary were completely unable to do it using normal judgement.

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ARM to open CPU design centre in Taiwan

Steven Jones
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Re: Why Taiwan?

It's very common for multi-national companies to spread their research around the globe. It's particularly important for the likes of ARM which has a business model which involves licensing technology and working as a partner with customers. By having research facilities close to their main customers, then they can have a much closer and responsive relationship than would be possible from a purely UK base, with all the travel, language and time zone issues. It also has the side-benefit of being seen as a true partner, and not just a foreign supplier.

As far as China is concerned, then that's a bit of a different issue. Having research facilities in Taiwan might not be looked upon very favourably by the Chinese government.

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Vodafone turns to EU, asks it to FORCE 'fair' fibre pricing

Steven Jones
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Sensational headline trumps reading The Register's own news items...

Indeed, it's hardly unusual for The Register to confuse telecom products. Indeed in 2012 the Register actually published an item over Ofcom's proposed regulation of BT's leased line pricing outside of London. However, a sensationalist headline seems to trump proper research, even when it's stuff they've published themselves.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/07/05/ofcom_mulls_price_cap/

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