* Posts by Grumpy Fellow

60 posts • joined 7 Feb 2010

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I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations

Grumpy Fellow
Go

Giant Blancmange south of London with Time Travel

Does anyone else remember visiting a giant white dome down near Greenwich back in 2000? They had a special theatre set up on the site that showed the time travel film "Blackaddr: Back and Forth". That film treated time travel with just the right amount of irreverence. Ah, the memories! Particularly when Shakespeare gets his comeuppance. By the way, what ever became of the dome? That thing was frickin' huge! Probably a shopping mall now? I'm off to the Google to check.

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Remember that internet sales tax? Wasn't that a great idea? It's dead

Grumpy Fellow
Meh

Not dead yet

Amazon collects sales tax for 23 states at the present, including many big ones. To the best of my knowledge the blocking of this bill doesn't undo that situation, it just keeps the present mess in place and lets the remaining states go after Amazon on their own if they wish. I live in one of the five states without sales tax so this is primarily of academic interest to me. I'm not a big fan of sales tax in general because I think it is a regressive way to fund a state.

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Elon Musk says Tesla's stock price is too high ... welp, NOT ANY MORE

Grumpy Fellow
WTF?

Blue Chip - Seriously?

My definition of blue chip is a large cap company that has survived several long business cycles and which pays dividends. I still see Tesla as a start-up company. That's not to say that you won't make money by buying the stock, but I would question the judgement of any financial analyst that described it as Blue Chip at this point. In my opinion it is still far from a sure thing that the company's profits will grow to meet their valuation in the stock market. Let me tell you about my Nortel "investment" some years back! <groan>

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Boffins suggest storage be baked into mobile base stations

Grumpy Fellow

Does their caching work for secure connections?

A lot of bandwidth-hogging content such as YouTube is delivered over HTTPS now. Can they cache that?

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Bad PUPPY: Undead Windows XP deposits fresh scamware on lawn

Grumpy Fellow
Pint

An optimist's view for your consideration

My optimistic take on the end of XP support is that Microsoft has stopped patching it because they found that after 13 years of removing flaws from the code every Tuesday, the software that remains is simply perfect and no longer needs patching. Consider this, would you feel more comfortable on the maiden flight of a new jetliner as it rolls off the Boeing assembly line (Windows 8.1) or flying into Dallas on one of American Airline's 1980s vintage DC-9s that has been proven with 30 years of six flights a day without crashing (Windows XP). OK, it's a bad analogy because XP crashes, but that's not the point here.

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BEHOLD the HOLY GRAIL of TECH: The REVERSIBLE USB plug

Grumpy Fellow
Joke

Re: We have all experienced Schrödinger's USB stick

Top and Bottom? What am I missing here? All of my USB ports are oriented with the long direction vertical. Is there a similar join on the Left or Right?

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Elon Musk slams New Jersey governor over Tesla direct sales ban

Grumpy Fellow
Meh

Musk in salesman mode much?

"There are no oil, spark plug or fuel filter changes, no tune-ups and no smog checks needed for an electric car," Musk wrote.

This is literally true but a bit misleading:

From the Tesla website it appears that they charge $600 per year for maintenance.

My internal combustion Ford requires the following maintenance: Oil change, $25 every 7500 miles. Tune up (i.e. Spark Plugs) $100 every 100,000 miles. Fuel filter $50 every 100,000 miles, Smog checks never since OBD-II introduced in the mid 1990s.

Mind you I'm not siding with New Jersey on this, but keep in mind that New Jersey law requires that your car be fueled by a professional petroleum transfer engineer (no self-serve allowed).

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Reg snaps moment when Facebook turned air Blu: 1PB box for unloved pics

Grumpy Fellow
Thumb Up

Missing the tactile joy

I'm not into tape nowadays, but in the 80s and 90s there was nothing more satisfying from a tactile standpoint than threading a nine track tape onto a tape drive with mechanical tensioning, starting the tape on the takeup reel with a couple of spins, then hitting the "Load" button and seeing it balance the loops and find the start of the tape. The most exciting tape of the year was the one that brought back the latest goodies from DECUS of course. A nerd could feel cool walking down the hall in sneakers while spinning the tape reel in hand and catching it after exactly one revolution. Brings tears to my eyes. Jay doesn't know what he is missing.

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Crooks target Target: 40 MILLION bank cards imperiled in cyber-heist

Grumpy Fellow
Headmaster

Just to clarify

Please be aware that those of us who shop at Target regularly pronounce the g as a Voiced palato-alveolar sibilant.

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'Disruptive, irritating' in-flight cellphone call ban mulled by US Senate

Grumpy Fellow
Pint

This works for me

I ride the train fairly often, and they allow cellphone use. I have found that a good way to quiet a motor-mouth is to simply show an active interest in their conversation. Open a pad of paper and start taking notes if they don't get the hint. Write down what they say and underline it for full effect. Nod your head in agreement. Toss in an occasional verbal "Amen!" for emphasis.

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Hot Stuff! NASA mulls 'urgent' space walk as ISS cooler conks out

Grumpy Fellow
Coat

Just asking

Have they tried turning it off and on again?

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SuperStride Me: Reg hack spends week working at 'treadmill desk'

Grumpy Fellow
Go

Wheel vs. Treadmill?

Would it be possible to make the desk more efficient by having you walk/jog inside of a big wheel instead of on a flat surface? This would greatly reduce friction and you could rock it back and forth when you stopped walking/running. Another advantage is that the wheel would clean the cedar chips off your shoes.

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MacBook Air fanbois! Your flash drive may be a data-nuking TIME BOMB

Grumpy Fellow
Meh

Speaking of SSDs in general

I have been disappointed in the reliability of SSDs that I've purchased (not from Apple) over the last five years or so in general. The advertised MTBF is very optimistic, I would say. I think the part I like the least is that they will go from working perfectly to not working at all just like a switch was thrown. In the old spinning drives I usually got a warning in the form of bad sectors as a signal to replace the drive ASAP, but you had time to order a replacement drive and copy your data off in most cases. If the system wasn't so fast booting up with the SSD, I would go back to spinning disks in a minute.

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US red-tape will drain boffins' brains into China, says crypto-guru Shamir

Grumpy Fellow
Flame

Pot, meet Kettle

Excuse me? The US visa system discourages travel? How about the UK's exorbitant Air Passenger Duty?

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iOS 7 SPANKS Samsung's Android in user-experience rating

Grumpy Fellow
Joke

Bell Telephone

The old rotary dial phone I have hooked up in the basement would score 75 and beat them all based on these criteria. Not bad for 1950's technology. Cognitive Load: 100, Efficiency: 100, User Experience Friction: 100, Customization: 0 (Fail). Average: 75.

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Space-walker nearly OPENED HELMET to avoid DROWNING

Grumpy Fellow
Pint

Re: He did that!

If I were designing a cooling system for a spacesuit it would circulate Beer. The alcohol could substitute for iodine as a disinfectant. Then if there was a leak there would be a positive side to the situation and no funny iodine taste. How many liters could one drink (in an emergency, of course), 3, 4, 5? All in an evening's work for most Reg readers, yes? Which brings me to a follow up question, is there currently Beer on the International Space Station? If not, why not? Also, can they smoke indoors or must they step outside? I have to say, this article has piqued my interest in space!

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Portuguese chicken invades Spanish airspace

Grumpy Fellow
Thumb Up

Helium?

Given that it is a one way trip for the buoyant gas in the balloon (great video of the bursting), why not use Hydrogen? I'm not complaining, mind you, just curious what the trade off is.

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3-2-1... BOOM: Russian rocket launches, explodes into TOXIC FIREBALL

Grumpy Fellow
Facepalm

Empty feeling

As cool as the video is to watch, I can't help rooting for the rocket to straighten up and fly right each time I watch it. In the old days I worked on satellites, and I can say from experience that it is just a terrible feeling when you are in the control room and you realize with horror that half a billion dollars and several years of your life have just turned into scrap metal. At least launch failures like this, with a big ball of fire, leave no doubt. The ones where something goes wrong later in the mission and all you have is telemetry to look at, or maybe no data at all, are even harder, I would say.

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Tesla unveils battery-swapping tech for fast car charging

Grumpy Fellow
Boffin

Trip planning will be hard

Planning any non-trivial trip with the constraints that you have to visit all of your destinations without running out of charge AND also finish up with your original battery pack is an NP-hard problem. I have discovered a truly marvelous proof of this, which this margin is too narrow to contain.

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Rocket 'Grasshopper' leaps higher than tall building in single bound

Grumpy Fellow
Pint

Re: Fifteen years earlier

The shuttle wasn't designed to need that much refurbishment between flights, it just happened somewhere betweeen design and reality. I wish Elon all the luck in the world.

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Senator threatens FAA with legislation over in-flight fondleslabbing

Grumpy Fellow
Trollface

Check the compliance label on the back

If it doesn't comply with DO-160G then it should be stowed for takeoff, landing, and taxi.

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Hearts, minds and balls: Microsoft's Windows 8 Surface gamble

Grumpy Fellow
Pint

The Surface RT is pretty slick in person

My wife ordered a barebones 32GB RT last weekend and it arrived just 5 days later here on the East coast (of the US). It really seems to be a decent unit. Nicely packaged and has lots of expansion ports (compared to her iPad 2 certainly). Windows 8 seems to suit it (as opposed to how 8 seemed on non-touch equipment). You don't need to buy a stand for the RT because the back folds out into a stand. I would say you can skip the expensive keyboard too as a standard Bluetooth keyboard works fine with it. You can tell it is Windows because when you first get connected to the Internet it takes a break to install updates. Having seen the RT close up, I think the product might actually do OK in the market. I'm not praising the RT because I'm a Microsoft fan (I'm a dyed in the wool Linux fan), but because the folks that engineered it and built it deserve a tip of the hat for a competent job.

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Ten... alien invasions

Grumpy Fellow
Alien

But the War of the Worlds really happened

I've been to Woking and I've seen one of the Martian fighting machines. The other films are based on fiction as far as I know.

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Ethiopia to send Skype users to the slammer

Grumpy Fellow
Pint

Both ends of the call?

I wonder if Ethiopia will seek extradition for the folks at the far end of international VOIP/SKYPE calls. I can see the states going along with that in exchange for the extradition of Ethiopians who "pirate" videos and music.

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Microsoft to devs: Don't ruin Win 8 launch with crap code

Grumpy Fellow
Linux

Re: Linux and OS X

I'm just curious, why is it that I can have my pick of half a dozen desktop environments on Linux, selecting one at log-on, but each Windows version only offers one desktop? It would seem an obvious advantage for Microsoft to offer choices as well, so why don't they?

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The best April 1 gags … or were they?

Grumpy Fellow
Linux

Floating Wanda (the Fish)

Wanda the Fish who has been swimming happily in my Gnome panel for years suddenly was still and floating belly up (not sure a fish has the tits required to go tits-up). When clicked upon, instead of a random fortune, I got a message that the water needed changing. Once into April 2nd, GMT?, she resumed her normal swim. That was scary.

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Cryptome releases list of social sites monitored by DHS

Grumpy Fellow
Pint

Yet another Sun Tzu quote?

Did he really say/write all those stupid things? He must have been a remarkably annoying fellow to have around. If Hollywood ever films a Sun Tzu biography I'm seeing Rowen Atkinson, Adam Sandler, or maybe Larry the Cable Guy in the role.

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Study finds piracy withering against legal alternatives

Grumpy Fellow
Pirate

If 46 percent are doing it

I suppose it is too late to reclaim the word Piracy to mean hijacking ships and their cargo? Arrrr!

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Jimbo Wales ponders Wikipedia blackout

Grumpy Fellow
Happy

Go for it

I would back a permanent blackout of Wikipedia to US IP addresses. It would be interesting to see what evolves in a US-only Internet where content corporations rule. We would still have the Internet to use for shopping and for reading carefully regulated non-infringing official news releases, of course. There will probably even be a US only replacement for Wikipedia that will give more balanced coverage of international topics such as censorship in China. I do love new clothes.

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Ten... colour laser printers

Grumpy Fellow
Go

AirPrint

It would be nice (for future reviews) to point out which printers support printing from iOS via AirPrint. With the iPhones and iPads taking over the household, I went for the wireless version of the HP CP1025 to get that capability.

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‘Want to be more secure? Don’t be stupid’ redux

Grumpy Fellow
Trollface

Get a Mac?

I'm a Linux user, myself, but I've had good results with convincing my friends and family to replace their Windows PCs with products from Apple. I could never get them to keep their Windows systems patched and virus signatures up to date, and I could never stop them from clicking on the most ridiculous attachments. Then there were the drive-by downloads from banner ads. Once they switched to Macs, the problems just went away and did not come back. I can't imagine that they all got smarter. I'm surprised that SANS didn't include a recommendation to stay away from those easily infected Windows boxes as a one-step security solution.

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FSF takes Win 8 Secure Boot fight to OEMs

Grumpy Fellow
Coat

As long as it is open, like Apple products.

My MacBook is running Windows XP, my Dell Mini 9 is running OS X Snow Leopard, my "designed for Windows Vista" Gateway PC is running Ubuntu Lucid Lynx, and my Nook Color is running Android. If PC makers lock me out, I will just have to switch to Apple hardware to retain the ability to run whatever I want on whatever hardware I purchase.

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1-in-3,200 chance* that a fiery satellite chunk will hit someone on Friday

Grumpy Fellow
Thumb Up

Good old days

Back from 1986 to 1991 I worked on the flight software for UARS. The onboard computer was a NASA Standard Spacecraft Computer-1 that I think was made by IBM. It used magnetic core memory, which was great because you could turn one side off for years and when you powered it back up, not a single bit was flipped. Memory words were 18 bits, so we did everything in Octal, not Hexadecimal (since 18 bits made 6 octal digits). The design language was FORTRAN 77. Once we got the FORTRAN running in simulation, we converted it to NSSC-1 assembly language manually (no compiler). Seems to me it ran about 150K instructions per second. UARS was a good satellite and worked for a long time.

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Google points finger at human after robo car accident

Grumpy Fellow
Joke

Flawless record - easy!

If I was Google, I would spend far less money perfecting the autonomous driving part and about five minutes ensuring that searches for "Google Robo Car Accident" produced either zero results or else a full page of sponsored ads for auto insurance.

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World IPv6 Day fails to kill the internet

Grumpy Fellow
Pint

How about a compromise?

I would be willing to go along with 64 bit IP addresses, but 128 bits is just plain silly. Can we get an IPv5 that preserves all the stupidity of IPv4 but simply doubles the sizes of the addresses? I'd be willing to bet that we could get away with just 48 bits for the next 20 years or so.

Beer logo because we obviously would need an Internet Draft for this.

OK, ready, set, DOWNVOTE!

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RSA breach leaks data for hacking SecurID tokens

Grumpy Fellow
Joke

Keyed by the vendor?

Regarding: Why would you use a system like this whereby the vendor issues the keys?

I know you will find this hard to believe, but over here in the USA, we buy automobiles for many tens of thousands of dollars that are keyed by the manufacturer, not the purchaser. Oh, and when we spend half a million for a house, the keys are furnished by the builder.

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New York Times tucks skirt behind stilted paywall

Grumpy Fellow

Pricing advice

I would be willing to pay $3 a month (same as Pandora Radio) for reading NYT online. $15 a month seems high to me.

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Windows Phone 7 unlockers let off with a warning

Grumpy Fellow
Joke

Yes it can

and don't call me Shirley.

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Distressed cock whipped out of wheelie bin

Grumpy Fellow
Go

I can empathize with the chicken

A few months back I had reason to climb into one of those really big dumpsters (tossed something in by mistake) and I was shocked to discover that they only weld steps onto the outside. The inside is smooth as glass (and a bit slimy). Thought I was a goner! Fortunately I was able to pile up enough trash to climb out before the trash truck arrived. I'm thinking it likely that the chicken made the same mistake that I did.

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Robot teddy bears attack Alzheimer's

Grumpy Fellow
Pint

Not getting one for Dad

I want one to keep my Furbies entertained. That should be a riot to watch!

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Google open sources JPEG assassin

Grumpy Fellow
Pint

Lena/Lenna required

It is pointless to discuss a new image compression algorithm without side by side (uncompressed / compressed) pictures of Lena for reference.

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Shareholders sue HP over Hurd's sex scandal probe

Grumpy Fellow
Thumb Up

Would this work?

I wonder if the shareholders could be counter-sued for funding the CEO's alleged escapades!

p.s. Do you suppose we could have a Barrister icon (with international "not" slash) for these "I am not a lawyer, but..." topics?

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Microsoft should starve on radical penguin diet

Grumpy Fellow
Linux

Microsoft needs the geek army

Windows is only usable if you have someone to fix it when it breaks. Businesses have paid IT departments. Everybody else relies on the billions of unpaid hours donated by the geeks that they know. When I get a crashed Windows PC to fix nowadays with XP or Vista, it goes back with a fresh Ubuntu install. No way I'm spending 40 hours looking for Windows drivers and coaxing all those hundreds of Windows updates to install themselves. When Microsoft loses their army of unpaid Windows repairmen (and women), they will no longer be viable. That's why Microsoft needs Linux, because they need the geeks that come with it.

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Sluggish corporates ill-prepared for death of Win XP SP2 support

Grumpy Fellow
Thumb Up

Me too!

I've a Gateway laptop that would not load its video driver under XP SP3. I had the latest drivers and the latest BIOS, but even with clean installs, SP2 was fine and then SP3 gave a black screen. I finally gave up and installed XP Service Pack 4, a.k.a Ubuntu 10.04.

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Grumpy Fellow
Headmaster

Nonsense

The statement that "their systems will start to accumulate attackable vulnerabilities" is nonsense. The vulnerabilities have been present for the last 10 years and were attackable during the entire time. It would be more accurate to say that they "will be running systems with an increasing number of vulnerabilities which are widely known to hackers."

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Consumer Reports: 'We were wrong about the iPhone 4'

Grumpy Fellow
Thumb Up

Not the most respected testing lab

Not by Engineers, anyway. I believe that would be MythBusters. At this point they are the only folks I would trust on this.

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eBay shill bidder gets £5,000 fine

Grumpy Fellow

Seen it a lot

I estimate that about 1 in 10 ebay auctions that I have bid on smell of shill bidding. Someone bids up in small increments until they outbid me, then they cancel their last bid for "entered wrong bid amount". I complained to ebay a few times but nothing came of it. Nowadays I either stick with "buy it now" sales or else make darn sure that I don't bid an auction up beyond the price at which I will be delighted to win it.

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Researchers probe net's most blighted darknet

Grumpy Fellow
Thumb Up

missing htonl ?

I'm thinking that code ported from big endian processors like Motorola to small endian processors like Intel explains the 1.1.168.192, 1.0.168.192 and 1.2.168.192. On big endian machines you can omit the htonl macro and you still get Network byte order. There are lots of code examples available on the Internet that do just that.

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This witch-hunt will hurt Adobe more than Apple

Grumpy Fellow
Pint

This might be something worth test marketing

How about a special version of the iPhone for the states where they add Flash (more crashes) but make it work on Verizon's network (fewer dropped calls, better 3G)? Give it 6 months then drop the line that nobody is buying any longer.

It's Friday evening and I'm too sozzled at this point to think of what is wrong with this idea. Just thumb it down if you must, but have a good weekend regardless.

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Microsoft: 'Prepare for 15 billion more clients'

Grumpy Fellow
Gates Horns

OK, if they support it

My beef with Windows current embedded offering, Windows CE, is that support for the development environment is non-existent. To the best of my knowledge, there hasn't been a release of a manual for Platform Builder since 2002. When Platform Builder is working, it is great, but when it isn't, you are really screwed!

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