* Posts by Frederic Bloggs

182 posts • joined 17 Aug 2010

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El Reg Redesign - leave your comment here.

Frederic Bloggs

"improving comments"

Clearly I am on some moderation list, but if you want me to "improve my comment", then how do I do that now? There is no link, nor is there an edit box any more.

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Europe's top court mulls vandal's right to privacy after bloke catches thug on home CCTV

Frederic Bloggs

The end of the Surveillance State?

I know I am be recorded by the 1000's of cameras deployed here in the UK. Does this mean they all have to ask my permission?

Of if one were to break one of the windows in a building, say in the Vauxhall area (one might, for instance, take agin green window glass) from the public pavement, does this mean one could get away with it?

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Boffins weigh in to perfect kilogram quest with LEGO kit

Frederic Bloggs

Re: I demand neodymium ring magnets based Lego

Ah, so you had that kiddies game that allowed players to dip their magnets attached to small rods (with string) into a pot and obtain cardboard fish with metallic noses as well then?

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UK national mobile roaming: A stupid idea that'll never work

Frederic Bloggs

Sadly not in the not(very much coverage) spots in the South Downs and other rural areas "served" by more than one distant base station. Before the EE/T-M roaming there was a degree of base station flip flopping here but when the roaming was switched on, the service became unusable. For some obscure reason (that EE [c/w]ouldn't explain) my mobiles tended to roam onto the even weaker T-M base hereabouts.

Ended up changing to Vodafone, but only because it has a local infill base station. With no 3/4G, but at least the 2G phone system works.

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Technology quiz reveals that nobody including quiz drafters knows anything about IT

Frederic Bloggs

Re: I assume this quiz was made up

And Facebook. Actually, I'm a bit surprised they didn't trial there first. Maybe (although it's unlikely) because Facebook was thought to be an unrepresentative demographic.

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El Reg reanimates Cash'n'Carrion merchandising tentacle

Frederic Bloggs

Re: /steel

And I know that red is a house colour an all, but red bottles are for fuel, blue for water.

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U wot? Silicon Roundabout set to become Silicon U-BEND

Frederic Bloggs

Re: And there goes another one

Not to mention the relief of still being alive to relish your feelings

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Flies WANT beer booze and now we know why - yeast

Frederic Bloggs
Pirate

Mozzy traps

One wonders whether well known "cut a lemonade bottle in half, fill bottom half with some water and add a sachet of yeast, invert the top half and force into the bottom half and gaffer tape together" style of mozzy trap - which is extraordinarily effective - was the inspiration for this research?

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Bruges Booze tubes to pump LOVELY BEER underneath city

Frederic Bloggs

Brugge (the town name that the locals use) means "bridges". The town is called "bridges" 'cos there are 10's of the things crossing the river and canals around which the city is built. Many of these bridges are old and not designed for modern heavy traffic. Which is why the council don't want lorries full of heavy beer crossing them or using the cobbled streets that surround them. Remember that road wear is proportional to the 4th power of the mass of the vehicle causing it.

So, no hills.

(PS why do the British insist on calling towns and cities in Flanders by their (hated) French names)

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BMC Software flings patent sueball at ServiceNow

Frederic Bloggs

The NHS?

Really? And this is an endorsement?

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Supercapacitors have the power to save you from data loss

Frederic Bloggs

Re: Correction

The "wet" capacitors are essentially electrolytic capacitors where the (very thin) "plates" of the capacitor are held apart by (again very thin) slightly damp "insulator" material. This dampness will, over time, evaporate out of the device through the weeny vent provided. This is why these capacitors have a finite life.

Obviously the hotter they get, the faster the electrolytic dampness evaporates. In the limit it will boil and, generally, an engineered weak spot in the cap will blow and, again generally, cause the case to fly away from the motherboard with a characteristic bang, clatter (as the cap body hits something) and nasty smell. Sometimes the cap develops an internal fault, this makes the boiling happen too fast for the safety valve; this is when the cap actually explodes.

But don't worry if you keep your computer case shut, you'll be fine.

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Frederic Bloggs

Re: Back in the day...

The crucial thing that the reservoir of power gave was the ability to guarantee that the current block would be written. This gave rise to some of the earliest logging filesystems, which resulted in a quantum leap in reliability in the (frequent) power problems we used to have. Mind you a huge 100KW motor-dyno-generator helped enormously come 8:30 in the morning when all the heavy machinery on our industrial estate started up more or less at once. Nothing like an huge flywheel to smooth out power spikes! (Happy times).

It's nice to storage principles being dragged kicking and screaming into the 1960s (again).

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Buying memory in an iPhone 6: Like wiping your bottom with dollar bills

Frederic Bloggs

Camels Milk

Is by all accounts is not only expensive, but may be a premium source of MERS as well. Still, after decontamination, the Jesus Phone that you had just bought earlier will make a nice heirloom.

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Give us a digi-Czar and more bureaucrats, begs UK tech-services biz

Frederic Bloggs

I'm confused

But is this the GDS that is beta testing a bit of "low hanging fruit" called Spine 2?

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Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom

Frederic Bloggs

Re: Anything goes?

Sadly, the heyday of RAYNET operating at small events on behalf of user services such as St John and Red Cross has largely passed. Most of these organisations now have their own handhelds and do their own comms (I declare an interest: I used to examine their users' competence to operate). As a result RAYNET groups are nothing like as active as they were before about the mid 1990s.

RAYNET now really only come into its own at large events (either in numbers or especially on area covered), maybe a cut cable or fire in a telephone exchange (happens surprisingly often) - or an actual disaster. But because members don't operate as frequently (I used to go out two, maybe three weekends a month in the summer) nor with the sort of ad-hoc (and variable) intergroup working we used to do; I wonder how the lack of that constant practice, doing real comms, affects operational efficiency and cohesiveness.

I worry about encryption, it has always been strictly verboden, and my concern is that it will be misused. I also wonder how it is going to be achieved in the field on an actual event. Practically, encryption really only makes sense on a digital circuit (voice or data). But doing it "on demand", and therefore in clear the rest of the time, is not going to be easy. will we see voice scramblers on analog circuits?

Then there is the tendency for "incident commanders" to take whatever is given (and still ask for more). Which in this case means: encrypt everything. Then, suddenly, one of the major checks / balances disappears because no other amateur can listen in. And trust me: there are are *always* people who listen and, if they can find a reason (however specious), they *will* complain.

How is the use of encryption going to be policed? Who is going to do it?

I am a bit curious about why this is being introduced now - in these times of universal monitoring of everything by our lords and masters. As I mentioned above, the onus has always been on what might charitably be called "self regulation". There has never been much in the way of official monitoring. What there was, generally relied on complaints made or tipoffs. Perhaps someone can enlighten us?

RAYNET is not universally loved on the bands and I suspect that being *allowed* to use encryption will prove very divisive. Therefore, yet more reason for grumbling and internecine strife - which probably means even more "unintentional interference" than usual for operators at an event to deal with.

Sigh...

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Whopping 10TB disks spin out of HGST – plus 3.2TB flash slabs

Frederic Bloggs

Re: Fighter Aircraft Simulator

The hardware must have improved by as much as 3 orders of magnitude since then...

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Hello, police, El Reg here. Are we a bunch of terrorists now?

Frederic Bloggs

Re: Collective Delusion.

Atheism is a bona fide religion.

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That stirring LOHAN motto: Anyone know a native Latin speaker?

Frederic Bloggs

And? :-)

Doing more research would suggest "cupona"(am) (as I am still quite liking the accusative). But "taberna" is still more universally understood and isn't actually wrong. After all "tavern", "taverna" etc still exist.

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Frederic Bloggs

to the pub

Like the 'ad astra et ad taverna' but it's clearly in the wrong order and not very latin really. How about "ad tabernam ad astra"?

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Oh SNAP! Old-school '80s Unix hack to smack OSX, iOS, Red Hat?

Frederic Bloggs

Re: Confused...

It doesn't have to be a root user especially, just a directory in which one has sufficient rights to create a file AND (rather more importantly) some dumb person (with sufficient rights) who is likely not to notice a a file called '-rf *' or whatever before doing some wildcard rm anyway.

The crucial thing is, of course, that the perp will have logged in with a username and left his (bound to be a bloke) fingerprints all over it, username, creation time etc etc. Any sysadmin worthy of the name is likely to notice these peculiarly named files and is going to investigate.

Surely?

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REVEALED: GCHQ's BEYOND TOP SECRET Middle Eastern INTERNET SPY BASE

Frederic Bloggs
Headmaster

History is sometimes useful (or at least informative)

The really interesting thing is that anyone is surprised - given that the UK has something like a century and a half of form in the "clandestine" submarine cable tapping business. The UK controlled every commercially useful submarine cable in the world up until (at least) the first World War. The official rationale being that the cables were there as a result of building, and to control, the British Empire. They were tapping away for 50 odd years before anyone either twigged or at least were in a position to get uppity about it. Is it any wonder that they continue doing it, and on any satellite links they can get hold of as well?

As the UK is about to have yet another war anniversary orgasm (sigh), El Reg's readers might like to research some of the antagonism that the US had for the UK's wire tapping activities - and the use that the information gleaned therefrom was used for - against what the US saw as its interests. And how that coloured the US's attitude toward the UK during the 20th Century and since.

So save the feigned anger. It's pointless and won't change anything. You should all know what to do, to obtain a measure of privacy, go ye forth and do it.

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Cameras for hacks: Idiot-proof suggestions invited

Frederic Bloggs

Read this man's website

Ken Rockwell

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Who fancies a billion-quid bonanza? Just flog the Home Office some shiny walkie-talkies

Frederic Bloggs

Re: Easy-peasy

Nah... no in-building or underground coverage. Crack that and you are in with a shout though.

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Frederic Bloggs

Just like the current one.

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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).

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Frederic Bloggs

Re: Don't forget the data structures

* Cough, erm I think you mean Pascal.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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...

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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?

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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.

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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).

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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.

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Frederic Bloggs

Re: Thorium reactors

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

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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.

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'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.

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'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.

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Massively leaked iFail 5S POUNDS pundits, EXCITES chavs

Frederic Bloggs

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

In that case: me too please

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