Feeds

* Posts by Frederic Bloggs

156 posts • joined 17 Aug 2010

Page:

Whoever you vote for, Google gets in

Frederic Bloggs
Headmaster

If you found this surprising then ...

you will want to read this very long article which posits that the US is not a democracy but an oligarchy. I await a similar analysis of the UK with some interest (even though I think we all know what any conclusion might be already).

3
0

UK.gov recruiting 400 crack CompSci experts to go into teaching

Frederic Bloggs
Headmaster

Syllabus? Exams?

Has anyone got a clue what the syllabus might look like? What operating systems will it cover? Which APIs? Got any interesting and/or worthwhile sample programs that the little darlings might have a chance of completing? Given that course work is no longer going to count, how are they going to examine programming? 24 hour / Weekend Hack-Fest?

Obviously the programming languages taught will be out of date long before pupils pop out of the system into useful work, so I won't bother asking which ones will be taught. But somehow I doubt it will be C or assembler.

2
0

When the lights went out: My 'leccy-induced, bog floor crawling HORROR

Frederic Bloggs

Re: Always carry a torch

Fenix make excellent torches. I recommend one of these reviewed here. A standard alkaline AAA cell lasts 2.8 hours continuous use (a conservative estimate for decent alkaline batteries).

1
0
Frederic Bloggs

Re: Welcome to the pretty countryside

Just to give you an idea of the volume of wood that DRAX might consume: I have a 25KW (nominal) gasifying wood log boiler that is 92% efficient. During the heating season I put through about 1m3 of dry waste wood every week (it depends a bit on how much hardwood there is in the waste). A m3 of dry wood weighs about 350-500Kg (again depending). Double->triple that for freshly felled logs. Fresh (> 20% moisture content) wood will reduce efficiency by up to 80% (depending on species and water content).

Each of DRAX biomass sets will burn about 2.4 millon tonnes rising to 7.5 million tonnes in 2017 when they all convert. It is claimed that they will need 1.2 million hectares of forest on a continuous basis to supply this. I think that they are using optimistic growth factors for their forest regeneration to get something as low as this and, in any case, the US (unlike the UK and Europe) is not noted for restocking and managing their forests. They are still mining virgin forest there. And that 7.5 millions tonnes will be mainly wood pellets and thus dry. That implies at least double the weight per year of actual trees.

5
0
Frederic Bloggs

Welcome to the pretty countryside

And the dark skies we have here in Sussex. Hang on, aren't they even darker than usual? Why yes, we seem to have another power cut. The fifth this year in fact.

On another note, the problem in the UK is not generating capacity as such. We actually have several mothballed power stations, some of which could be switched on within days. The real problem is the balls up of an electricity market where the incentives dictate that, for instance, gas powered stations can't be economically run (because one needs them to be running for at least 10 hours per day to make some money) whilst, at the same time, fields full of containerised diesel generators are being planted to cope when the wind doesn't blow.

In the meantime the DRAX power station is "converting to biomass". I can't imagine that is going to last when someone realises that, within a very few years, it will consume every burnable stick currently being grown in the UK (and probably Scandinavia as well) . It make a mockery of all that effort now being made to put back the forests that once covered the UK.

20
2

Patent law? It's all about Apples, Newton and iPads

Frederic Bloggs

Re: Well, thanks for not descending into Randian lunacy

To state the bleeding obvious: They may live longer, but they are very unlikely to pay more tax per year of life as a result (unless, of course, the government ups everybody else's tax to compensate).

0
0

Fukushima fearmongers: It's YOUR FAULT Japan DUMPED CO2 targets

Frederic Bloggs

The elephant in the room

Is, of course, all the wasted heat that any power plant has to get rid of generating all that 'leccy.

Personally, I tend to agree with Lewis that the menace of CO2 is somewhat over done. It can't help that burning any kind of coal has, historically, dumped more many times more radioactivity onto the ground, as well as other solid pollutants both onto the ground and into air than all the nuclear + their accidents put together (by several orders of magnitude).

However, none of them are thermally efficient on any objective measurement. Then there is heat wastage during usage. If one ignores the comparatively tiny amount of useful work that 'leccy driven widgets do, as well as the woeful insulation status of most human 'leccy usage, one is drawn to the conclusion that all power stations are essentially atmospheric heaters with a wide distribution network making sure than few parts of the planet escape some local heating. Oh and BTW physics tells what all that "useful work" ends up as.

So current power generation digs something out of the ground and uses it to heat its surroundings. The heating might be local, but do enough of it for long enough, over large area of the planet and one has to ask if there is a better definition of "Global Warming". What we are doing is systematically overloading the planet's ability to dump excess heat. The other "bad" things simply add to the problem.

So are we all doomed? Well yes, obviously. However if one needs to choose"fossil" then nuclear is easily the least polluting fuel generation method. But solar based generation has one advantage in that they can never *add* to the local heating of an area. The plant even (eventually) makes a profit on the energy expended on its manufacture - unlike windmills.

I see a small ray of sunshine in the German government has belatedly twigged what periodic generation of 40% solar energy does to a distribution grid and is starting to think about subsidizing house sized energy storage systems to bring down the cost. To the point that households might largely (in the sunnier seasons in Europe) be electrically self sufficient (and therefore excess heat generationally "neutral" for a large part of a year - but they aren't thinking of that bit - yet).

If they succeed in bringing the cost of storage at the same rate as the reduction in cost of PV cells, together the continuing improvement in PV cell 'leccy conversion rates, then the agreement that UK PLC has just made with France and China will look even more expensive than it currently does. It may never get finished.

I've put my coat on, as it's cold.

6
3

Sail HO! Look out Bay Area - it's the GOOGLE GALLEON

Frederic Bloggs

Another "Eye of Sauron" transport mechanism?

They could get yet another view of the world from their barges and, obviously, do some extra erm... triangulation on all those (open, obviously) wifi hotspots that they will be able to "see" along their journeys around the bay and up river.

1
0

The importance of complexity

Frederic Bloggs

Here's a little job: try name and address deduplication. For about 60 million addresses (for starters). And get them all right.

That is a real problem, has nothing in particular to do with NP. Probably doesn't even count as "computer science". But it's bloody hard.

0
0
Frederic Bloggs

Re: Don't forget the data structures

* Cough, erm I think you mean Pascal.

0
0
Frederic Bloggs

How many professional programmers have a CS degree anyway?

And does it make any difference at all to the end result? Surely anyone calling themselves a programmer should be able to recognise their limitations and will be able to find and then leverage other people's work.

Nearly all the work I have done in my professional life (now 40 years) has been anything from straight forward -> really quite hard. Only two have been NP hard. Both of these got solved using good old "monte carlo methods" and using existing libraries (NAG in one case and something that was written for a different, but related problem). Both gave satisfactory answers and in a very short time (as these things go).

I don't have a CS degree.

3
0

Nokia, Indian upstart square up to Google's mighty mapping empire

Frederic Bloggs
Unhappy

Does the Indian Government know about this?

I only ask because the Indian Government has, historically, been extremely paranoid^Hreticent about making available the exact lat/longs of stuff that it considers important or just "useful to an enemy" (read: any of India's neighbours).

One of the standard tests of "competence" they apply to (probably non-Indian) prospective mapping companies, that supply to organs of the Indian state, is whether that company can discover the nature and size of the offset that is routinely applied to mapping data v WGS84 coordinates. One won't get this information from any official source, one has to divine it oneself. Not that this is in any way difficult - it's just annoying.

2
0

UK plant bakes its millionth Raspberry Pi

Frederic Bloggs
Unhappy

Re: Well done

Well I don't. As far as I can see the DoE has done its level best to do the exact opposite, as this article on Auntie published today, helpfully lays out.

0
0

Robot WildCat slips its leash and bounds around parking lot

Frederic Bloggs
Coat

I'm clearly a Luddite

But has anyone considered using a mule as a pack carrier at all? It is trainable, it will defend itself (trust me here), handles any terrain that a human might want to (and then some), runs on a grass (or anything else edible lying around) and does more Kg/Km/unit of energy consumed. A mule is also much cheaper to buy and, with a bit of organisation, easier to source.

I can see my coat.

3
1

Down with Unicode! Why 16 bits per character is a right pain in the ASCII

Frederic Bloggs
Holmes

Re: Fixed Length

One has a choice: either stateful, shorter, but potentially fragile and non-self synchronising or UTF-8. Me? I choose UTF-8. But then I spend a large part of my programming life dealing with radio based comms protocols which means - by definition - I am rather strange.

Oh, and it doesn't help that I spent a lot of time in my formative years having to deal with 5 channel paper tape...

7
0

Fondling slabs during takeoff WON'T end in a fireball of death - report

Frederic Bloggs
Unhappy

I'm confused...

Some (considerable) time ago, the FAA permitted pilots to carry on and use iPads containing flight data (such approach plates, flight plans, manifests and the aircraft manual) during "all phases of the flight". The rationale being that the physical size and weight of the paper was exceeding safe limits - together with the real problem of: "where is that sodding check list?". The FAA also identified that using a slab meant that they could routinely check compliance with (for example) check list use.

So why has it taken this long to allow the cattle in the back to fondle their slabs?

0
0

Reg readers! You've got 100 MILLION QUID - what would you BLOW it on?

Frederic Bloggs

Re: Baldrick inspired

Ten turnips and, as I like you, a FREE leek.

2
0

Thorium and inefficient solar power? That's good enough for me

Frederic Bloggs

Re: "What is wrong with this idea?"

They are available, houses have been built with them, but they are significantly more expensive both to buy and then get past the planners who don't seem to be with the zeitgeist (unless one lives in Germany, obviously).

1
0
Frederic Bloggs

Re: Thorium reactors

No-one said anything about "Big-Oil". And you're right that this might only be an argument in the US and then only if they decide not to play.

There is simply too much money staked in the uranium fuel cycle plant that both exists and is planned. No-one in industry wants to "waste" money punting on some "new" (but actually older than the uranium reactor) design(s). As for the politicians, they don't want to invest money in anything useful and they want to keep "their" bomb.

2
0
Frederic Bloggs

Re: Thorium reactors

Because there are too many vested interests, both business and political, preventing it.

7
2
Frederic Bloggs

Re: Storing H2 is not a problem

And, as it happens, is one of the big issues with some thorium reactor designs. To be fair, dealing with the side effects of hot H2 in traditional reactors is a bit of an issue as well.

0
0

'Occupy' affiliate claims Intel bakes SECRET 3G radio into vPro CPUs

Frederic Bloggs
Unhappy

Re: Do have a extra CPU

Not much point putting it in a cpu here in deepest Sussex. No 3G. Not for miles.

1
0

'Who knew in 1984 that Steve Jobs would be Big Brother?'

Frederic Bloggs

Linus really lost it? Really???

A quick read of the thread will show that a) Linus was (for Linus) being *very* mild mannered and b) it was part of a serious discussion about the nature, consequences and frustrations of trying to cope with explosion of interfaces / features of ARM based systems. As someone that occasionally has to dabble in these areas I share his pain - but probably in more explicit terms.

3
0

Massively leaked iFail 5S POUNDS pundits, EXCITES chavs

Frederic Bloggs

Re: >> You, sir, owe me a new keyboard.

In that case: me too please

0
0

'Kim Jong-un executes nork-baring ex and pals for love polygon skin flick'

Frederic Bloggs
FAIL

Er... Who writes these headlines?

Is this a reasonable way to go about reporting it? It just might be true and people may have died.

Come on El Reg. We all like a joke and a laugh at the IT industry's expense, but is this a suitable case for this treatment?

14
2

BILLION-TONNE BELCH emitted from Sun to hit Earth this weekend

Frederic Bloggs

For them's that are interested...

This is a useful compendium site that gathers together all the various sun related data, graphs and pictures. It updates itself regularly, so that one can watch the whole thing unfolding. As usual on these occasions the southern part of the UK will be under cloud and rain during this CME's likely earthfall.

1
0

Boffins harvest TV, mobile signals for BATTERY-FREE comms

Frederic Bloggs

And is illegal in the UK

As case law has (more than once) defined this as "stealing electricity". As in the celebrated case of a a farmer using fluorescent tubes with some wire attached to the ends to light his cowshed. He was in the near field of a some large (IIRC BBC) transmitter.

5
3

Do you really want tech companies to pay more tax?

Frederic Bloggs

Dividends?

The article mentions various large US tech companies paying dividends. Unfortunately, very few of them actually do this and, when they are forced to (because they won't do it voluntarily), they use all sorts of shenanigans to pay as little as possible, whilst trying to protect their huge (usually offshore) cash piles.

7
1

Bugs in beta weather model used to trash climate science

Frederic Bloggs

Re: If it's "not ready for prime time" ...

You'll be accusing ElReg that they are BBC huggers next.

1
0

SIM crypto CRACKED by a SINGLE text, mobes stuffed with spyware

Frederic Bloggs
Devil

Is the "Java machine" up to date?

I notice, in an other article today, that only 1% of java implementations are up to date. Not that it matters much as there has been yet another 0-day disclosed today. One does wonder what version(s) of java sim cards run on and how it is proposed to keep them current.

One could also speculate whether there might be resistance from our Lords and Masters if any attempt is made to improve sims' security.

2
1

'New' document shows how US forces carriers to allow snooping

Frederic Bloggs
Headmaster

A UK perspective from history

Many years ago, when Great Britain had an Empire and the US was still ramping up its financial and industrial power (say late 1800s -> 1939[ish]), this country owned and/or controlled most of the international and intercontinental communications cables in the world. This started off as a side effect of running the Empire, but it became apparent, very early on, what the possibilities were when foreign governments and companies embraced the advantages of "instant" communications.

GB, having grasped the usefulness of being able to tap the cables, then went to a great deal of trouble to try to prevent other states from laying cables of their own on routes that did not touch one of the GB controlled nodal points. And GB was, for many years, successful at this - until those pesky Americans started throwing their growing weight and money around...

There are many papers out there on this subject, but they all point to the same result: GB wanted to eavesdrop on as much communications traffic as it could.

So why on earth should anybody be surprised that a) the US does too and b) the UK still carries on recording everything that flows in, out or around the country?

Those that ignore history are destined to repeat it [or apparently be constantly surprised].

4
0

Germans brew up a right Sh*tstorm

Frederic Bloggs

Unlike the Dutch, whom nick good words from anyone provided that they sound "right" when pronounced in a Dutch way (possibly having had their endings modified to Dutch norms). It also has to be said the Dutch like to use pure English words (or phrases) for emphasis.

0
0

Obama says US won't scramble jets or twist arms for Snowden

Frederic Bloggs

Re: Wait a minute...

He is a "hacker" because it changes the narrative away from the connotations of the word "leaker". "Hacking" is evil. "Leaking" information means that what he says might be (gasp) true?

Do you suppose Obama is taking advice from the UK spinmeisters?

7
0

How City IT is under attack from politicians, diesel bugs, HR

Frederic Bloggs

Re: Diesel Bug

Specifically, there is a problem with biodiesel in that it is hygroscopic, thus providing more house room for bugs. Another *major* problem with biodiesel is that is much more corrosive to the sorts of "rubber" glands, seals and pipework that "traditionally" are used with mineral diesel guzzling engines. This is why many diesel cars specify what percentage of biodiesel is allowed in the the road fuel that cars burn.

The impending road crash(es) that will occur very soon when the EU start enforcing much higher biodiesel content for road cars is for another article...

1
2

New super maxed out on first day of operations

Frederic Bloggs

If you pick the right spot, it probably can (poach an egg).

One does wonder what the power budget of this beast is.

1
0

Nuke plants to rely on PDP-11 code UNTIL 2050!

Frederic Bloggs

George 3 for me!

0
0

Washout 2012 summer, melty Greenland 'nothing to do with Arctic ice or warm oceans'

Frederic Bloggs

Re: Disclaimer

Although the cynic in me would say that say that "assume the opposite of any Met Office pronouncement on long term weather" probably stands a better than chance probability of being near.

3
1
Frederic Bloggs
Happy

Disclaimer

"Past climate and weather is no guide to the conditions in the future"

1
0

Robbing a bank? Carberp toolkit now available for just $5k

Frederic Bloggs

Re: 5Gb seems very large

Password cracking rainbow tables?

1
0

Girls, beer and C++: How to choose the right Comp-Sci degree for you

Frederic Bloggs

Re: No you choose your degree at 13

Many of the best programmers (as opposed to computer scientists) I know are music, essay writing arts or (intriguingly) chemistry graduates. Arguably, some of the worst were maths graduates.

This has nothing to do with intelligence or knowledge. Let's face it squarely: at the end of the day a talented programmer can structure and design a reasonable system in his (sadly yes) head while you wait. He then has to spend the next three to six months writing it down. That's a bloody long (and very *precise*) essay/dissertation by anyone's standards. And he has to do that year in, year out, during his programming career.

Programming is craft, not science. It is more akin to carpentry with book authorship than abstract maths.

6
2
Frederic Bloggs
Linux

Pascal had a use (for me at least)

"Algorithms + Data Structures" by Nikki Wirth was probably the most influential book on programming I ever read. It caused me to change from Algol to Pascal (and later avoid Pascal 68/Simula etc) as my high level language. Anything was better than Fortran and (spit) Basic. Mind you I was still writing a load of machine code, assembler and Plasyd at the same time. So when I came across unix and C in 1981 I was ready for the change. I have been writing in C ever since. I have never understood why people think it is so hard to use.

Caveat: I started computing ten years before you.

Good article.

9
0

EU boffins in plan for 'more nutritious' horsemeat ice cream

Frederic Bloggs
Thumb Down

Pigs Blood

I am old enough to think that I remember a big scandal thrown up 10s of years ago, because it was discovered that the "non-milk protein" and also some "non-milk fat" in ice cream was being derived from animal by products such as pig's blood.

They do say that people that don't study history are destined to repeat it ...

0
0

Voda: Brit kids will drown in TIDAL WAVE of FILTH - it's all Ofcom's fault

Frederic Bloggs
Facepalm

But hang on a minute...

If one wishes to surf anything that Vodafone deem to be "adult" (which is by no means the same as pr*n), one has to ring them up and convince the support service that you are an of age. Therefore, since this mechanism already exists, why not just extend it to ("adult"?) premium numbers?

Job's a guddun

2
0

Bitcoin prices spike on Euro woes

Frederic Bloggs
Unhappy

Re: In troubled times...

"Cyprus *had* a deposit guarantee, they just threatened to bypass it by taxing deposits. And it was the ECB who was encouraging this theft of depositor funds. The sudden interest in bitcoin is from other people in Europe wondering which other banks might decide to renege on their guarantees."

Apparently it was the IMF that were the cheer leaders. The ECB went along with it (gratefully) to spare Angela Merkel's blushes in the upcoming election in September. As she will doubtless lose that I, for one, am looking forward nervously to the resultant fall out.

0
0

How to survive a UEFI BOOT-OF-DEATH on Samsung laptops

Frederic Bloggs
Alien

Samsung S3 Android Hack

Any similarities between these UEFI problems (plus any more that no-one has found yet) and the recent revelations that Samsung's Android "customisations" have security openings the size of regular barn doors are completely coincidental.

Honest.

0
2

Amazon: IVONA bevy of 'all natural' blabber babes to beat Siri

Frederic Bloggs

I did a load of work on this in 1994 and, clearly, they have some better inflection and frequency models than we did then. Also the pacing for English (and probably Polish) is much better than then. However, it's clear that the phoneme splitting and reconstruction is not always being done correctly. Which probably reflects on the language skills of the people doing this tedious and exacting work. The corpus of sentences being split may also vary quite a bit in size for each language. That will make quite a difference when doing contextual reconstruction.

0
0

Michael Dell and the Curse of the Exploding Batteries

Frederic Bloggs

Re: I like my aircraft to have metal, not glorified plastic

And let's not forget that wooden aircraft are lighter than metal ones.

0
0

This week's BBC MELTDOWN: Savile puppet haunts kids' TV

Frederic Bloggs
Headmaster

Re: What was more shocking was

He's dead. You can say what you like.

3
1
Frederic Bloggs
Happy

Re: boo fucking hoo

Sorry, we are fresh out of fetid horse. They are currently being processed and used for other purposes.

Got some nice fresh roadkill you could use instead - how about a slightly battered dead badger?

5
0

Steve Bong's 3D printing special Xmas showcase

Frederic Bloggs
Facepalm

Tap, tap... Er hello?

This is late December and not (very) early April isn't it?

1
0

Page: