* Posts by Martin an gof

424 posts • joined 27 Jan 2010

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LeEco Le Pro 3: Low-cost, high-spec Droid takes on the big boys with a big fat batt

Martin an gof
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Happy

Re: Battery Life

Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 also has 4000MaH battery, and I get a good 2 to 3 days from a single charge.

Battery life depends entirely on how you use your phone. I have an original Moto G (now running Cyanogenmod) which has (I believe) a 2,000mAh battery, and when I recharged it last night it had been nine days since the previous recharge. I get worried if it's been under a week.

But then I only turn on the WiFi or the data or the GPS if I'm actually using them and (crucially) the phone gets an occasional reboot. There are one or two apps that once loaded, even if no longer in use, seem to drain the battery. Rebooting is a good way to kick these out.

A side-effect of fewer recharges is probably also longer battery life as Lithium batteries are limited by recharge cycles.

That suits my own use of the phone - for phonecalls and texts and the occasional snapshot or a bit of web browsing (I won't count tethering as doing so via USB doesn't drain the battery). I realise others make much more use of their phones' fancy functions, so of necessity use more juice.

M.

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New Euro-net will let you stream Snakes on a Plane on a *!#@ plane

Martin an gof
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shared between 200 passengers

Given how busy skies across Europe are, and given that there are only 300 ground stations planned, I suspect it won't just be 200 passengers in a single plane, but 200 planes per cell.

Not that I care :-)

M.

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Martin an gof
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Headmaster

Re: Better idea

Not too many ground stations in the ocean

From the article:

The European Aviation Network (EAN) will blend S-Band satellite coverage provided by Inmarsat with 300 LTE ground stations

From the video it looks as if they are going to launch a new fleet of satellites to cope. The question is whether a good experience in Europe will lead to the system going worldwide eventually.

M.

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Here's how the missile-free Royal Navy can sink enemy ships after 2018

Martin an gof
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Re: lack of stealth ?!

+1 for the Mosquito. I bet it could be made to work. The thing is probably even strong and solid enough to mount a few modern weapons systems. Wikipedia says there was a carrier-borne version, albeit just a small number.

M.

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User needed 40-minute lesson in turning it off and turning it on again

Martin an gof
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Flame

Re: Can you hold down the power button

Unlike with a car, computer users don't always (if ever) get lessons in how to drive the things.

Yes they do. And the particular user that got me cross enough to create that analogy twenty-odd years ago had (as mentioned) recently returned from a three day course in "what a spreadsheet is and how to use it". As for checking printer margins and the like, we realised that office staff who were now expected to type up their own letters and reports would probably have trouble, but we actually went as far as sitting with many of them and talking them through procedures. We even wrote short "how to" guides, and yet I still got calls along the lines of "the printer isn't working" when in actual fact they'd just sent four copies to the colour inkjet a couple of feet away from the monochrome laser printer they were fastidiously checking.

What (sort of) amused me at the time was that I was never offered any IT training. I was there to fix physical things - it was a radio station so I was employed to know which end of an XLR is which, how to wield a soldering iron and how to unblock the urinals, yet I was still expected to be able to explain to people who had been employed to do a specific job, how to do their job!

M.

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Martin an gof
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Facepalm

Re: Can you hold down the power button

> You've told people not to use jargon, but I have no idea whatsoever what 'top-up the jets' means*.

I'd hazard a guess he's American and means topping up the screenwash, but it is only a guess.

When I had an informal help role at a previous job (informal in that the company didn't see the need for a proper IT person when they had me knocking about who "knew a bit about computers") I used to get quite depressed at the lack of thinking involved sometimes. I likened it to the following hypothetical situation:

Newly-qualified driver sets out on their own for the first time. After a couple of days of happily running to the shops and taking their mum to the hairdresser's (or whatever), one day the car splutters and stops at the side of the road. Fearing the worst, the driver calls the AA/RAC/Green Flag/Best-mate-who-knows-about-cars and waits anxiously to be rescued.

It turns out that the problem is simply lack of fuel. "Why didn't you fill it up when the fuel gauge was showing low?", "What's a fuel gauge? I never had to fill up my instructor's car."

I often had people who couldn't understand why I got cross(*) with people who couldn't check the printer settings or reset the page margins or change a formula in a spreadsheet, because "it's a computer and only people like you understand computers". Using the above example often made them think again, particularly when the person I was getting cross with was (as was often the case) somebody who had been specifically hired to maintain a spreadsheet (or whatever) and had recently returned from a three day training course and still couldn't understand cell references properly.

M.

(*)Not to their faces, understand, but I'd moan about it later to anyone who would listen.

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Google and Facebook pledge to stop their ads reaching fake news websites

Martin an gof
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Re: Bit late now

When people are making independence type remarks, the balance sheet isn't something that gets the priority... ...people argued against what Leave were saying without understanding why they were saying it

Now you've changed the accusation. First you argued that "lies" on one side were not debunked by "truths" on the other, now you are arguing that it was a nebulous touchy-feely thing. What was it? Lies or opinions?

Lies can be debunked.

Opinions can't.

M.

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Martin an gof
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Meh

Re: Bit late now

these votes were lost by the losers, not won by the winners.

I understand your point, but what you haven't noted is that some (maybe not all) of the "lies" that you talk about absolutely were debunked by people telling the truth. The classic lie in the referendum debate was, of course, the "£350M extra per week for the NHS" lie. This was debunked time and time again and yet it was still emblazoned on the side of the bus and none of the Vote Leave people would admit it was a lie.

So people who didn't have access to any arbiter other than "he says yes, she says no" (which is what most of the reporting on non-partisan media outlets boiled down to) had no choice than to side with the person they liked better, or who was endorsed by the partisan media outlet they favoured.

There were people debunking the myths and lies spouted by both sides of the campaign; Radio 4's More or Less did a good job in the months running up to the vote, and the BBC News Website's Reality Check section did stirling work too (as did others), but many people chose to ignore these voices and vote with their hearts not their heads.

Assuming I'm not being too generous in that last statement, on an issue such as this, heart over head isn't necessarily a bad thing, so long as you understand the implications. Since before the vote, the implications weren't all terribly clear...

M.

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NHS IT bod sends test email to 850k users – and then responses are sent 'reply all'

Martin an gof
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Re: Office 365 Bcc copies addresses to everyone?

Bcc via Office 365 was showing all the addresses to each recipient.

That is unforgiveable, a security risk and probably explains some of the spam I've been getting to my domain recently; I, too, use Bcc when possible / appropriate. Thanks for that nugget.

M.

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Martin an gof
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FAIL

Re: Predictable?

A long time ago, the place I was working had a 3 day mail outage

Also a long time ago, when widespread corporate email was still a "new thing" and not everyone in the company had access to a computer, let alone an email address, the mail systems of the group I worked for were connected using 28k8bps dial-up modems, which dialled on demand - direct to the appropriate receiving modem (none of this send-it-via-the-internet stuff).

Somebody decided to send an everyone-on-the-system email, announcing a new launch (or maybe it was just a logo change) and had scanned, in 32bit colour, a black-and-white logo which came to a total of around 10MBytes.

Bearing in mind that the "mail server" was a re-purposed 286 with 512kB memory and a 40MB hard drive, and that in those days a typical desktop computer was a 386 with 2MB or a 486 with 4MB and that one poor secretary had (IIRC) a 286 with 1MB and a 20MB HDD (yes, just about enough room for WfW3.11 and a basic Office installation), there were some people who actually got control of their computers back by lunchtime, but others had to wait until the next day.

I had to run around the building warning people to delete that message and not to open it; the amount of page-file thrashing that ensued tied the computers up for another hour... well for a long time, anyway. Not that long waits were uncommon with MS Mail.

I don't think there were any serious effects on that particular manager, but a later send-to-all email, which was a simple 2kB text email containing a slightly "off" joke did result in disciplinary action I believe, and an edict that nobody should ever send-to-all again.

M.

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Yeah, that '50bn IoT devices by 2020' claim is a load of dog toffee

Martin an gof
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Black Helicopters

Re: Just the Start

What? Someone would actually pay for a palm-sized computer...

Really, really doesn't need that. Assuming an enabled 'fridge, all you need is RF tags on the goods, which is already being done in some cases. Add RF readers to a range of other things - if the 'fridge, why not your kitchen cupboards? Why not your wardrobe? Why not the bath? Why not your wheelie bin? Many of these things already have power nearby (cupboard lighting for example) so it's do-able without much inconvenience to the "customer".

M.

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Fire alarm sparked data centre meltdown emergency

Martin an gof
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if such a light is protected by a disposable 3 amps fuse at the wall socket then it often happens that the fuse also must be replaced

Once upon a time, when people built things to proper standards, all incandescent light bulbs actually included a very low-current internal fuse. When the filament breaks, a surge in current is caused if an arc forms - the arc will often travel to the supply wires in the bulb, bypassing the filament and therefore creating a low resistance path for the current.

A simple bulb failure resulting in all the lights in a house going out (as I note happened to a later commentard's relative) simply shouldn't happen, and the bulb's internal fuse was designed to prevent this.

Sadly, beginning probably in the 1980s, many bulbs were built without such a fuse. This (in my experience) was more of a problem for "fancy" bulbs (e.g. "candle" bulbs) than for the normal ones, and certainly the small-capsule Halogen bulbs were / are a pain in this regard.

In these days of CFL and (particularly) LED lighting, it isn't the failure of the bulb, per-se, that's a problem; it's the failure of the switch-mode power supply that is needed to run the thing. These power supplies should have some kind of internal fuse, but I've met far too many which don't. They do sometimes trip the main fuse, but more often than not they fail "safe" (for certain values of safe) by getting too hot, whereupon some component on the mains-side of the thing usually burns out, or burns the PCB sufficiently to break a trace.

M.

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Martin an gof
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I think you will find that that only applies of the cable is also rated at (not less than) 13A. Do not use a 13A fuse if the cable from the plug is rated at 3A!

Indeed. It is common for the flex from the plug to (say) a table lamp to be somewhat less than the 1.25mm2 which is really the minimum required to be safe under the protection of a 13A cartridge fuse. A flex with wires of 0.5mm2 cross-section is not uncommon and really does need a 3A fuse to be sure of not melting under fault conditions.

As for

all BS rated bulb holders are rated at 16 Amps

I don't know about that. If you consider the size of the terminals and suchlike and compare them with the (admittedly over-engineered, but that's not a bad thing) BS1363 13A plug...

Even if the bulb holder itself is capable of more, once again it's usually the flex that is the limiting factor. For a ceiling pendant, a thin flex is very common. Lighting circuits are protected by 5A fuses, 6A MCBs or 10A MCBs under certain circumstances.

The situation is a little more nuanced than that when you consider the harmonisation of electrical standards across Europe. Nobody else uses fuses in appliance plugs, for example, but then they don't usually run 32A to a wall socket either, as we do in the UK. Their socket outlet circuits are more commonly 16A. Hmm... unless they run separate circuits for lighting sockets (possible - it happens in the UK), do their table lamps have thicker flexes?

M.

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McDonald's sues Italian city for $20m after being burger-blocked

Martin an gof
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Re: The real reason

Top Totty

When my sister was working in Lugo (Spain) she was amused that a local cafe was called "Don Mac".

Can't imagine pulpo on the menu under the golden arches...

M.

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Facebook chokes off car insurance slurp because – get this – it has privacy concerns

Martin an gof
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Re: Dreadful idea anyway...

comes back to haunt us

I believe this is already happening in some companies, where it's becoming a common practice for HR to search new applicants' social media footprint. At least Admiral (no, I can't stand their adverts either) are being upfront about it.

M.

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Martin an gof
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think anyone without social meeja accounts must be a bit weird and therefore a high risk?

I'll tell you in a couple of years when my children - who have never ever had any kind of social media presence out side of education walled-gardens - start driving...

Some people already think we're a bit "odd" for not having accounts, and it's been a battle getting schools to continue sending paper letters home, but it's definitely worth it

M.

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Pluck-filled platter-stuff: Bold disk drive makers fatten up

Martin an gof
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Cost?

Capacity is all very well, but surely the main force keeping spinning rust alive is the fact that byte-for-byte it is still a heck of a lot cheaper than SSD. Until SSDs can match HDDs for cost there will always be a use-case for HDDs.

M.

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Drone idiots are still endangering real aircraft and breaking the rules

Martin an gof
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Re: The Lemon is in Play

Yellow car drone!

M.

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Martin an gof
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Bit miffed and surprised

Bit miffed that you felt the need to locate Welshpool as being "30 miles west of Birmingham" while Grays and Lippitts Hill (both of which I've barely heard of ) are just "in Essex". Essex is a pretty big place.

Surprised that the Welshpool report has the drone "about 50m below" and then "about 100ft above". Mixed measurements? Whatever next?

M.

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Apple’s macOS Sierra update really puts the fan into 'fanboi'

Martin an gof
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Re: "VLC seems to be getting better these days"

I like VLC - it is cross-platform and seems to play just about anything - but if you need to use it from the command-line for anything slightly out of the ordinary, best of luck. The documentation is an utter mess with apparently authoritative sections actually being completely out of date and simply wrong. For most video playback I now use mplayer, or (on the Raspberry Pi) Omxplayer.

If I were looking for an all-singing, all-dancing iTunes-alike, I've been quite impressed with Amarok which comes as standard with the KDE/OpenSuse setups I use.

For audio editing, I'm a little surprised I haven't seen mention yet of Audacity.

But if you need the stuff that only iTunes can offer - administering and syncing Apple devices - you don't really have much choice, do you?

M.

Please forgive all the Wikipedia links, doing this during lunch at work and the web filter blocks "freeware and shareware download sites", which is what it has marked the homepages of mplayer etc. as.

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FreeBSD 11.0 lands, with security fixes to FreeBSD 11.0

Martin an gof
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FreeNAS

...and FreeNAS 10 isn't even out yet. BSD10 has only recently made it into FreeNAS 9, so how long it will be before FN10 gets BSD11 is anyone's guess.

I already use FreeNAS and want to get some additional things running on the machines. Rather than learning jails, I have held off for bhyve to work properly...

...is there an alternative these days?

M.

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Linus Torvalds says ARM just doesn't look like beating Intel

Martin an gof
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Re: I *wanted* an Acorn Archimedes when I was at school...

I think the same is true for all Acorn's pre-Archimedes BBC machines, including those with 16 and 32-bit second processors.

Absolutely. While the Acorn machines had very little compatability with other 6502 devices, the fact was that in the multiple generations of machines Acorn produced, so-called "legal" programs were usually portable. Legality meant using the OS calls rather than ?-ing (PEEK & POKE to non-Acorn types) memory directly. To put it in slightly different terms, Acorn defined an API and very strongly encouraged people to use it.

The Archimedes was slightly more difficult in that it didn't natively take 6502 code (though Acorn bundled an emulator from the outset) but BBC BASIC V was 100% compatible with previous versions, as were the system calls. This did lead to some slightly odd behaviour, such as the ENVELOPE command that produced all sorts of useful effects on 6502 hardware being essentially useless on Archimedes due to the completely different sound system. Someone once said, "ENVELOPE takes fourteen parameters and does absolutely nothing."

But Acorn's efforts couldn't match the combined might of Intel and Microsoft, and in some ways it might be a good thing that they didn't as it enabled ARM (once it was spun-off) to do the clever things they have done with licencing and low-power and suchlike. If Acorn had been successful on the desktop, perhaps that wouldn't have happened?

M.

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Martin an gof
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Re: Is Linus's vision really this narrow?

Sadly, this is the same generation with a school "computer science" curriculum comprising mostly of how to use MS Office

Maybe, but things are changing. Here's the current WJEC GCSE Computer Science specification.

The year I did my Computer Science A-level was the last year they required binary maths as part of the curriculum, but it appears to have made a bit of a comeback.

Both above links are for the WJEC exam board. I dare say other boards differ.

M.

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Martin an gof
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Re: Almost bought a QL

Was the M68k really 32 bit internally? I never used it in anger (I went 6502 - ARM) but my recollection is that it was essentially 16 bits with some instructions capable of operating on pairs of registers, somewhat like the Z80. Would you call the Z80 a 16 bit chip?

The reduced-width data bus was common back then. Every pin added cost, not only in traces on the motherboard but the CPU's packaging - DIL packages become very cumbersome when you try to make them with enough legs to support 32 bit addresses and 32 bit data as well as all the control signals, power etc.

In the early 1990s I worked with Intel's MCS-96 family, a "16 bit" family, at least one variant of which had an 8-bit memory bus multiplexed with one half of the 16 memory address lines. Retrieving a 16 bit value from memory involved four steps - latching the address, an 8-bit read, a second latch, a second read. All to save perhaps six or seven pins on the package - although you saved 8 data lines, you had to have an additional line (or two?) to signal whether it was address or data on the multiplexed lines. Oh, and you also had to fit an external data latch.

Bearing in mind that I was a student on placement, and had to self-teach pretty much everything on this project (did all the digital hardware as well as 90% of the software in assembler), I remember one "lightbulb" moment very well. I couldn't work out why my code wasn't saving values properly to EEPROM. It took a couple of days of pouring through the code and probing signal lines before I realised that the EEPROM had a 1ms write cycle time. The RAM had no problem with 16-bit accesses, but the EEPROM couldn't keep up with the double-write required. Solved it by writing as descrete 8 bit writes with a few NOPs in between.

I really pity the poor person who had to take that code on when my placement year was over...

M.

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My Nest smoke alarm was great … right up to the point it went nuts

Martin an gof
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Re: You don't need "smart"...

Lucas? Possibly, dunno. Replaced it (the rotor arm and the cap) with cheap Halfords own-brand which also eventually failed through water ingress, but at a total parts cost under £20 (IIRC) I didn't really mind. The fact that contrary to normal practice, making something electronic and "intelligent" actually made servicing easier (no need to faff with the timing) was a pleasant surprise.

M.

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Martin an gof
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Re: Daylight Savings

(Americium / ionisation)

Point taken - I'm no chemist :-)

Mains alarms - fitted these when I rewired a previous house. Rate-of-heat-rise in the kitchen, smoke (optical) elsewhere. Never a false alarm, tested as well as I could (difficult for the RoH) and changed the batteries every two or three years. Cheap (see my previous links) and simple.

M.

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Martin an gof
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Re: The best tech is invisible

the contents now being in plain view?

Maybe it's one of these?

M.

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Martin an gof
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Re: Why would anyone have thought IoT was a good thing?

think headlights that steer around corners.

Most of these seem pretty dumb to me. The ones in my Renault Modus are simply extra bulbs in the headlamp clusters with directional reflectors and they switch on by a simple switch function on the steering wheel - well, it works like a simple switch function, though I have no doubt it is actually mediated by the ECU.

if(car_in_forward_gear AND dipped_beam_on AND (steeringwheel_deflection > 45 degrees))

switch(right_corner_light, ON)

or similar :-)

M.

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Martin an gof
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Re: Daylight Savings

And the unmentioned fact that detectors based on the ionisation of Americum have a lifespan of about 10 years or so. I've had a couple that have done a chirp just like the low-battery chirp but meaning that they are beyond this period.

For avoiding low-battery chirps, mains-powered and interconnected alarms are available and not expensive.

The first link is to alarms which take Alkaline batteries as backup - fit a Lithium instead and it'll probably last ten years. The second link has a rechargeable battery as a backup, so again, ten years at least.

Wireless versions are also available if running the interconnection wires is too hard, though also somewhat more expensive.

M.

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Martin an gof
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Re: You don't need "smart"...

(ECUs)

I had a Rover with a K-series engine. Electronic ignition still had a distributor and rotor arm, but the timing was all done electronically. Water got in the distributor and it all corroded and fell apart. At a road junction.

Fixed with the spring from a ball-point pen.

Drove the next 40 miles or so better than it had done for the previous couple of weeks :-)

Same car had this really odd problem where if the petrol tank was less than about a third full, the engine would cut out on left-hand bends. Bloke who has looked after my car for years and years couldn't work out what was wrong but I just learned to deal with it. I ended up selling the car at around 200,000 miles and it was still going.

I have a bog-standard smoke alarm that cost me about ten quid, and the occasional battery. IT JUST WORKS.

M.

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User couldn't open documents or turn on PC, still asked for reference as IT expert

Martin an gof
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Re: Is it on?

Thanks to all for the Alt-drag tips - I'll try it next time.

M.

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Martin an gof
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Re: "two monitors plugged into each other, a USB mouse plugged in to an ethernet port"

plugged his ethernet connection into his monitor port

Ethernet MAU to IBM MCGA? Both use 15 pin D-types.

M.

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Martin an gof
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Re: Just yesterday

issues getting to resource X

Thought I was about to generate a story of my own for a while - I couldn't get onto the company Outlook web interface from home. Suspected my network connection (nope, everything else is fine) or possibly my slightly flaky installation of Firefox (for some reason the entire web works, except for posting articles on The Register and accessing amazon.co.uk) but no, I got the same issue on another computer and another web browser (both of which work fine with El Reg and Amazon).

Came into work and reluctantly emailed IT (hi guys!) who sent back "aah, yes, we've reconfigured everything and not told anyone. We'll send an email around later". Not much good for us part-timers, so I've copied the new details to my home address, and that of a colleague who also often needs to access email at home.

Grrr...

M.

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Martin an gof
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Re: Is it on?

And entire pages designed to only fit onto screens of at least 6000x4000 pixels

Happens with the good old desktop too. I still use an Asus EeePC which has a 1024x600 pixel screen. Time and again, with various Linux flavours (currently using Mint) a dialogue box will pop up that is bigger than 600 pixels high and it is absolutely impossible to move it to enter data into the fields off the bottom of the screen. Sometimes you can press "enter" and hope they weren't important...

M.

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Dirty diesel backups will make Hinkley Point C look like a bargain

Martin an gof
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Re: Greens just don't understand numbers

Sorry, I hadn't seen yours when I posted mine, and I'll admit I posted mine without considering the real numbers...

Someone crunches the numbers and finds that Britain would need 390 more Dinorwigs

Interesting point. I believe Dinorwig is capable of 1.3GW for five hours? I also believe there's a total of about 13GW installed wind capacity in the UK, so logically you'd need 10 Dinorwigs to replace a complete loss of wind for up to five hours, or 50 to do so for a whole day. Your 390 stations could power the country for about a windless week.

It still strikes me as a better storage plan than anything else that's been proposed, but I have to admit here that I'm totally in favour of a few more nuclear stations.

Dinorwig is limited by the size of the top lake. If you could build another Dinorwig but give it a bigger lake you would change the equation. There must be places suitable...

M.

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Martin an gof
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Re: Storage as a service

For short-ish term use, pumped storage is still I believe the best option in the UK, and I'm sure there are plenty of places suitable for use. I have a document somewhere which was issued when they propsed building Dinorwic power station which also proposed a second site on (IIRC) Exmoor, or perhaps it was Dartmoor. It wasn't built because it wasn't needed; at the time we had all the base load covered by coal and nuclear, and Dinorwic's fast response was enough to tide the system over until gas plant could spool up.

Dinorwic is by far the largest of its kind in the UK and there a loads of much smaller schemes (for example, just up the road from Dinorwic at Ffestiniog, but surely we have plenty of options in the hilly parts of the country for more large stations to be built? It's not even as if they need be unsightly.

Why doesn't anyone talk about pumped storage any more? It seems to me to be the perfect way of smoothing the output from wind and sun.

M.

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Sinclair fans rejoice: ZX Spectrum Vega+ to launch October 20

Martin an gof
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Re: Hmmmm...

And a full keyboard!

And an analogue joystick - at least until you can afford a docking computer.

M.

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Dutch bicycle company pretends to be television company

Martin an gof
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Re: Doesn’t always work

I've always considered "left with neighbor" as "failed to deliver"

First off, they're contracted to deliver to my address. Not my neighbor's address or where ever.

Fair enough. I suppose it's difficult for a courier company to know the requirement for each individual address, this is why those "instructions to the courier" boxes are useful.

Second off, I don't even know the gender of my neighbors

A sad reflection on modern life. I have to admit that when I was living on my own I wasn't in the habit of socialising with my neighbours, though I did at least recognise the three or four nearest to me and would have trusted one or two of them with a parcel. Where we are at present is a very pleasant close of nine properties and everyone knows everyone else, more-or-less.

Having neighbours to catch parcels (because we're out at work all day) or spot that we've left a window open, or keep an eye on the teenagers if we're late back from work, or employ one of said teenagers to earn pocket money cutting the grass or, well, any one of a number of things, is brilliant, and obviously we reciprocate.

Looking at deliveries from another angle it is very "eco friendly" too, because the courier only has to make one trip. Likewise I am not always tied to the house waiting for a parcel, and if I miss it I don't need to travel 30 or 40 minutes to the depot.

I realise this doesn't work for everyone, but I bet there are many times when it could work, if people took a bit of time just to say hello to the people next door.

M.

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Martin an gof
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WTF?

Re: Doesn’t always work

Sometimes the parcel can't be delivered "because nobody was home"

Last week I genuinely wasn't at home. Parcel from CPC arrived a day or two earlier than expected but I had managed to squeeze "can be left with any neighbour" into that pathetically small "instructions for courier" box they sometimes (not always) give you.

Arrived home to find a UPS card on the doormat with a number "5" scrawled next to the bit that says "pick up at our depot after this time", but none of the tick-boxes was actually ticked to confirm that's what the courier intended. We are number 5, so had he actually left it in the shed or the greenhouse?

No.

Had he left it at number 4 or number 6?

No.

Went online to check and it was adamant that it had been delivered. "Proof" consisted of the single word, "OLIVER".

Who is Oliver? The delivery driver? Certainly no Oliver at number 2, 3, 4, 6, 7 or 9 neither forenames nor surnames (we're friendly with the whole street - it's a tiny place like that). Not sure about number 1 but pretty certain they're not Oliver...

...time to fetch the children from the school bus. On the way back, shout from behind the hedge of number 8 - "I have a parcel for you".

Would you believe that we didn't know our neighbour in number 8's surname was Oliver?

And why did he write "5" in the "collect after" box, instead of ticking the "I've left it with your neighbour" box and writing "8"?

Better than APC though - they flat out refuse to leave with neighbours and take the things back to their depot behind two levels of high security fencing about a 40 minute drive away. It's like trying to get airside at an airport (I'd imagine).

The postman tends to leave things in the recycling bin.

M.

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Heathrow airport and stock exchange throw mystery BSODs

Martin an gof
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Re: En route from CAI to NCL

When I worked at Magna in Rotherham (I started about six weeks after it opened and everything broke on the opening day), most of the machines were Win ME (IIRC), but we did have a single Acorn RiscPC doing an image recognition task - it used a video image and looked for strips of reflective tape on hard hats worn by visitors, counting them.

The thing just kept on working. Never stopped. Apart from having "a fiddle" (as you do) I never had to undertake any maintenance on this machine in my 20-odd months working at the place.

That part of Magna was flooded a little while after I left and I know that this part of the place - in the basement - had to be completely refurbished. I wonder if the Acorn is still in use?

M.

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Pull the plug! PowerPoint may kill my conference audience

Martin an gof
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Re: This is why....

I've often wondered whether, after a series of such presentations it would be more effective for the presenter to stand behind the lectern and look authoritative.

...and benefit from the built-in microphone, which actually means they can be heard at the back of the hall. I've met more than one speaker who doesn't understand that their voice simply doesn't carry well, however loudly they think they are speaking. These types often refuse to wear the proffered tie-clip radio microphone, so microphones on the lectern are a godsend, especially if you have hearing-impaired users who are relying either on clear audio or on an induction loop / infra red / RF system.

M.

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Martin an gof
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Re: Amateurs

Switching laptops is just asking for trouble.

Especially if Apple - why the heck do they keep changing the connector(*)?

And all brands and OSes are guilty of pure dim-witted inability to "see" the projector sometimes. I have had Windows, OSX and Linux machines all fail to find the projector, whatever port it's plugged into, or see it but misconfigure it so you get 800x600 in the middle of a 1920x1200 projection with no way to change it until you reboot the blasted laptop and often reboot the projector as well.

It used to be the case that the sure-fire way to make it work was to make sure the projector (or second monitor or whatever) was always turned on before the computer, but even that doesn't always work now.

And then there's Powerpoint's recently discovered religious zeal for "presenter mode" which completely foxes some people who've only ever used a single screen previously and sometimes decides that the "presenter" screen is the projector, with the laptop as the screen for slides.

Oh, and the people who bring Keynote slides expecting them to work on Windows.

M.

(*)Slightly different, but was setting up for a big university event a couple of weeks ago. Most people (lots of "stalls" in our main hall) were happy without a network connection, or using our WiFi, which doesn't really work well if more than 20 devices try to connect. One group "needed" a solid connection, so I plugged through a wire direct to the back of the WiFi system. "Oh, but we need two.", "Ok, I'll just sort out a small switch"... only to find that the Windows laptop they've brought is quite happy, but the other laptop is a MacBook Air and comes without a network socket. I can't repeat what I (nearly) said to the girl who blamed me for providing "the wrong sort of plug".

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Martin an gof
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My phone uses more battery during the day than my old one did.

Have you tried turning it off and on again? I have found that some apps don't seem to sleep or exit cleanly and can sit there just drinking juice without performing any useful function. Rebooting clears everything out, until the next time you need to use the app...

M.

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Radar missile decoys will draw enemy missiles away from RAF jets

Martin an gof
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Coat

Re: Security by melting?

And how many will inexplicably land on Holiday Cottages?

Don't need help with that...

Ta ta, tai ha'

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Martin an gof
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Re: Security by melting?

I imagine the Welsh will be delighted to have incendiary bombs falling on them

I've seen plenty of low-flying aircraft dodging in and around the hills and valleys (there are several places where you can be walking a ridgeway and have fast jets flying below you in the valley) but never seen one actually firing anything. I believe they keep that sort of shenanigans out to sea in this country, or go abroad to use dedicated ranges (as mentioned in the article).

Here's an old map (pdf).

M.

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Martin an gof
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Re: Security by melting?

Re: "the ground" - don't flares and the like generally come down under parachute to maximise time in the air confusing things?

M.

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Two Sundays wrecked by boss who couldn't use a calendar

Martin an gof
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Re: At least make sure your contract include TOIL

So you're saying you would rather prostitute yourself, rather than some else who's willing?

No, I am saying that while there are willing people out there, there is no pressure on employers to change their practices. You may have very little leverage in your current job and have to put up with it. That does not mean you shouldn't be out there looking for a better job, but neither does it mean you have to walk away from such a job if you don't have something else already lined up. Some of us have mortgages and families (and other stuff) to support.

It is particularly likely to happen to young or inexperienced people, and the only way permanently out of such a situation is to get yourself into a position where you do have vital and (preferably) unique skills that the employer would struggle to replace.

That is not to condone employers who take advantage of willing people. To take an extreme example I have a particular hatred of the unpaid "internship" arrangements common among some employers, feel they should be outlawed, and am surprised that they aren't already.

M.

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Martin an gof
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Re: At least make sure your contract include TOIL

The "inventions" clause is almost ubiquitous, at least the "while on company time" one. I don't think many would have a problem with that one - after all, that's what you are employed to do. I personally have never come across a similar clause covering things you do outside working hours but if I did I'd want to do something about it.

similarly around "you may be required....outside of these hours" pay me or i dont work for you, its very simple

Define "pay". Rarely does such a clause come with nothing but it often comes with a very low level of pay, or an impossible-to-cash "payment" such as Time Off In Lieu.

The problem is that if you won't do it, someone else will. Unless you have unquestionably vital or unique skills, or can persuade your employers that you do, it is very easy simply not to renew a contract at the end of the "probation" period - which is often as long as a year - and employ a recent graduate who has very nearly the same skill set but is desperate to get a "proper" job to add to his/her CV, is probably single and child-free so much more flexible regarding working hours, holiday and the like and will put in the extra effort for little reward that you can't or won't.

We've all been there. Think back to your first "proper" job...

M.

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Martin an gof
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Re: At least make sure your contract include TOIL

answer the phone and you will be online within 5 minutes etc

In the days before mass mobile phones I worked for a radio station which was based in a city centre. I was expected to fix anything and everything vaguely "technical" (and a lot more besides) on premises, at any hour of the day or night yet I was almost the lowest-paid employee, just above the cleaner and the "roadie". I couldn't afford a mobile 'phone, but had to be within ten minutes of a phone whenever on call (which sort of ruined dog walks) and within 45 minutes of the radio station which was tight, considering how far out of town I had to live in order to afford a place on my salary.

On the whole however, I did enjoy the job. Call-outs weren't all that often and my boss was a bit of a hoot. The worst part was some (by no means all) of the "on air" talent, who would get all shirty if you didn't ring in as soon as they'd put the phone down to the pager company, and who often refused to perform simple remedial tasks which would have sorted the problem - even if only temporarily - and enabled them to get on with things while I travelled in to sort out the root cause.

Most common was refusing to switch to the "spare" studio despite failing equipment making working in the "main" studio very difficult. The studios were within about three or four footsteps of each other, but the swap-over procedure involved an "offer, accept, release" procedure that was easy with two people, but meant moving a couple of times between studios if there was no-one else available. Their biggest complaint however was "but it means putting all my records back in my boxes and moving them!"

Made a point once. A couple of years into the job I had had a bit of a salary increase and managed to save up enough for a mobile phone. One weekend I was up a local mountain with the dog and my parents when the pager went off. The problem was easily worked-around by moving a pair of jack plugs in the patch panel just behind where the presenter in question was sitting, but he flat out refused to do so, so I bundled mum and dad and the dog into the car, trundled down to the studio, and took the dog in with me, who proceded to snuffle around the presenter's legs while I swapped the jacks, fixed the root cause (which could easily have been left until Monday) and swapped the jacks back.

Didn't seem to bother the presenter...

...and as for the number of times I was called in for the likes of "yes, the printer is definitely 'on line'"...

When I left the company (to do a post-grad course on something unrelated) they didn't replace me. My boss left soon afterwards, and they found getting a replacement very difficult. For several months I found myself on a "retainer" to the radio station which was only a little lower than my original salary, with call-outs on top at twice my previous hourly rate. They'll only pay what you are worth when they realise what you are worth.

M.

Oh, and my replacement lasted a year, after which the radio station moved premises (so all new kit) and did away with technical staff altogether, coming to a call-out-only arrangement with another radio station some 60 minutes drive away, though as the record players and cart machines were gone as were most of the CD players, with networked computers playing out most content, a lot of fixing could now be done on-line. Nobody is irreplaceable.

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Rise of the Machines at Sea: The British firm building robot boats

Martin an gof
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Happy

Flightradar24

...are using an autonomous robot boat to track aircraft where land-based receivers can't.

See here for more info

M.

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