* Posts by Primus Secundus Tertius

726 posts • joined 31 Oct 2010

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Excel hell messes up ~20 per cent of genetic science papers

Primus Secundus Tertius
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Re: My pet gripe is

@imanidiot

When I worked for the London branch of a US company, in my documents I would write 01-Apr-99 to avoid confusion with 04-Jan-99. But our software product used US dates (MM/DD/YY) on every screen, so I used US dates on any new screen.

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NIST spins atomic gyroscope to allow navigation without GPS

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Re: "......and the kit to do this is huge."

@B. A. G.

One of my university lecturers demonstrated that a radio signal was largely extinguished in sea water in about half a wavelength. That's why subs have to use long wave radio for communication.

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Stop lights, sunsets, junctions are tough work for Google's robo-cars

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Re: RE: sound horn

New York City seems to be pwered by car horns.

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@AndrewDu

You are quite right. I have visited countries where they paint zebra crossings on the road, but nobody pays any attention, least of all the pedestrians. Americans and Germans usually cross only at a crossing; in Britain we are more flexible. Taking a Google car abroad could be exciting, from keep-left UK to right-on Europe. And those countries where they just drive in the middle anyway.

UK roundabouts have two priority conventions: (1) the Highway Code scheme, (2) the heavy lorry scheme. It will take a smart computer to make the right decisions there.

But the road safety campaigners and the police will want to encourage robotic cars. All speed limits rigidly obeyed, all traffic lights (even the most exasperating roadworks ones) obeyed, cars arrested at the flash of a blue light.

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UK's mass-surveillance draft law grants spies incredible powers for no real reason – review

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Re: Poor sods.

@Pete65

It is the GCHQ computers that read through all the drivel, looking for phone numbers, email addresses, etc. Only if something is spotted does a person start looking, and sooner or later they have to get a warrant. The current fuss is about the warantless sifting of drivel by machines: the movies, the porn, the tweets, and the facebookery.

As I said in a comment a year or two ago: believe me, They are not interested in Us. I went to a privileged university with some of Them.

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Primus Secundus Tertius
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US needs help

America's Finest News Source, aka The Onion, reports today that the NSA is asking for help form "somebody good at computers".

See http://www.theonion.com/article/nsa-can-somebody-good-computers-help-us-53545

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Re: Business as usual

@AC

"GHCQ and their cronies are the ones attacking society."

Eh? Who killed Fusilier Lee Rigby? Who blew up three underground trains and a bus?

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Password strength meters promote piss-poor paswords

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Re: Passwords need to be rethought

Passwords always have been difficult for the non-spellers.

I remember a group shared account where the password was set to 'pterodactyl'. The non-spellers were complaining within the hour.

It is better to write it down in e.g. a diary, rather than on a post-it note by the screen.

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Revealed: How a weather forecast in 1967 stopped nuclear war

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@B Miller

I was asked, in an interview for a Civil Service job, what would happen if Britain suffered a nuclear attack. I replied that the economy would be destroyed but people would survive: and that had been the case in Germany in 1945 after the thousand-bomber raids that dropped enough TNT to match a fission bomb.

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London's Met Police has missed the Windows XP escape deadline

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Re: Government investment in the Police

Not yet.

We voted out but we are not yet actually out.

We will probably need that £350m per week to fight all the vexatious lawsuits brought by frustrated Remainers.

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Breaking 350 million: What's next for Windows 10?

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How to sell hardware

Selling Windows is one thing, selling hardware is another.

Surely the manufacturers could persuade MSFT to issue a Windows 7 SP2. Then the boxes would fly off the shelves as if they were going down the Cresta run.

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Windows 10 Anniversary Update is borking boxen everywhere

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Language shortsightedness

@Diogenes

I have had a Windows 7 lappie since 2010, but only recently decided to try out its voice recognition software.

It begins by telling me that my voice must be British English to match the windows locale and language.

But then it insists I speak American English with a British voice. So the '#' key is not the 'hash key' but the 'number key' or the 'pound key'. The '£' key is the 'pound sterling' key. To select text I utter 'first through last', not 'from first to last'.

Finally, if I create a wordpad document from the keyboard, it is a British document. But if I create it by voice, it is an American document: 'favorable maneuver' rather then 'favourable manoeuvre'.

I hope they did a better language job with the French and other truly alien versions.

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BBC detector vans are back to spy on your home Wi-Fi – if you can believe it

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Re: Hounded

@Novex

During my time in the defence industry I learned that the old CRT displays radiated signals that could be picked up by nosey foreigners lurking nearby. I therefore assume the old detector vans were looking for those EM signals, and did not need to detect sound waves.

Special CRTs could be bought at enormous prices, and they were also jolly heavy, that did not radiate thus. TEMPEST was a buzzword.

Of course none of this applies to modern computer screens or plasma screens: they place pixels in arrays instead of doing a raster scan.

There was another story that the old detector vans were really looking for illicit radio signals from foreign spies.

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My Microsoft Office 365 woes: Constant crashes, malware macros – and settings from Hell

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Re: all those dumb "smart quotes."

@W Cheez

You can avoid the smart quotes by drafting the document in One Note, and then exporting to Word.

But then you hit another problem: headers are implemented as low level font and size settings as opposed to themes and styles.

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Astroboffin map 1.2m galaxies

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Not a lot

6.5E11 cubic light years.

A cube of side 8.7E3 light years. Does not even get beyond our own galaxy.

Poor reporting somewhere, I expect.

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Student Loans Company burns £50 million in IT project superfail

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Re: £50m - why not simply pay the fees?

In my student days about 5% of children went to uni, and giving them the money was affordable to the rest of the population.

Nowadays, with up to 50% of children eligible for a three year bonanza, it is not affordable.

The mistake has been to suppose that many rather than few can benefit from a genuine university education. That's what happens when our arts graduate masters are allowed to ignore the concept of IQ because it is based on statistics, i.e. numbers.

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SETI mulls reboot: Believing the strangest things, loving the alien

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Re: if we were seeded from extra terrestrial (unlikely)

All they have found in asteroids are a few relatively simple organic compounds such as the less difficult amino acids. No RNA, no proteins, no chlorophyll or haemoglobin.

So our DNA was probably invented on planet Earth.

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fMRI bugs could upend years of research

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Re: Cargo Cult Science

While I was a physics undergraduate, I had courses on statistics. I concluded that it was a difficult subject to teach.

To prove the results that applied stats uses needs very advanced maths, which only a mathematical specialist will master. So those results are one-off recipes that have to be memorised individually. Contrast this with the classical geometry of Euclid, where the proofs are relatively straightorward and can easily be checked and re-proved if one needs to do that.

We therefore reach the situation in statistics where in the physical sciences they are usually reasonable, in the biosciences they are wobbly, and in the social "sciences" they are non-existent. That last is particularly grievous because a lot of public expenditure is at stake there.

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Gun-jumping French pols demand rapid end to English in EU

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Re: Lingua Franca

@Capt. Veg.

Even in Europe, once you are away from the touristy places, English produces blank looks. Supermarkets, ordinary bars, ordinary bus and train services, petrol stations off the main motorways,...

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Die beste Sprache

In my experience more East Europeans speak German then English. The French may find a language forced upon them that they dislike even more than English.

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BOFH: Follow the paper trail

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@Boris

I do wonder if the so-called speed awareness courses are like that.

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London Mayor election day bug forced staff to query vote DB by hand

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Re: WAT?!

When I stood for election to my local council, I saw ballot papers marked with a tick instead of a cross.

Does the scanning of ballot papers cope with this?

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Astroboffins' discovery gives search for early life a left hand. Or right

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Re: I know, obvious is not scientific proof,

The textbooks tell us that if a molecule with L- and R- forms is synthesised in the lab from non-chiral components, then equal quantities of each will be produced. Some chiral molecules if left in the lab will racemize: turn into equal amounts of L- and R-. That is the equilibrium state of affairs.

Biosynthesis uses enzymes which themselves are L- or R- and so produce one result only.

I have wondered what might happen in a steady-state non-equilibrium situation: for example, if water was slowly streaming through a system. Then a chance fluctuation might lead to a build-up of one chirality rather than the other. Needs suitable experiments, of course.

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Surveillance forestalls more 'draconian' police powers – William Hague

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...or anarchy

@NoneSuch

The alternative is anarchy.

At the end of WW1 and of WW2, Eastern Europe was in sheer chaos. Twice in a lifetime for many people. Even communism might seem less worse.

So Government, like so much else, is compromise. We argue where the compromise should be, but there will have to be some rules.

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EU referendum frenzy bazookas online voter registration. It's another #GovtDigiShambles

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Grow a pair

@Symon

It is called 'pairing'. The advice to every new MP is to grow a pair (or whatever, depending on sex).

So the PM is paired with the leader of the opposition and so on all the way down; as a result they don't have to be bothered with minor votes.

The ones who get left out are the newest MPs in the governing party. It is not surprising that sometimes they feel rebellious. The junior opposition MPs have great fun choosing who will be their pair.

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Software snafu let EU citizens get referendum vote, says Electoral Commission

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Re: damn

@Phil...

In 1963 after MacMillan resigned she invited Lord Home (pronounced Hume) to be PM. From the House of Lords, not the Commons.

For practical purposes she has to invite someone who can get laws through parliament, especially tax laws.

H in his memoirs described going into hospital for a spinal operation. Afterwards he congratulated the surgeon for putting backbone into a politician.

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@crazy ops guy

The EU could be repaired if they ever actually listened to us. But they never have before, why change the habit of a lifetime?

Mrs Thatcher descibes an EU summit in her memoirs, where one day after lunch all the other leaders had disappeared. She tracked them down and they were all very embarrassed when she burst into the room.

The reason the EU has stopped them fighting each other is that they are all conspiring against us.

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Mars' poles shrink during ice ages, boffins say

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Not temperate, semi-frigid

"During temperate periods, such as the current epoch..." says the article.

No sir! we are still semi-frigid, not by a long way out of the last ice age. When the dinosaurs basked in the sunshine by British lakes and rivers, they did not have to worry about frosty winters. The plant(*) eaters among them had a choice of tropical delicacies.

(*)Plant as in English. In Welsh, plant means child.

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Lost containers tell no tales. Time to worry

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Re: dev0ps

Three of my fellow students (one physicist, two chemists) retrained as accountants.

As for Devops, this looks to me like just another buzzword for people who are actually not very good at actual programming. I spent my career wondering how to turn graduates into capable programmers, and never did find an answer.

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Got $130,000 down the back of the sofa? Great. Grab an HP 3D printer

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Re: This article lacks technical detail.

@Dave 126

Thanks for the info. But Cynic_999 is right, the Reg reporter should have told us that.

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We're calling it: World hits peak Namey McNameface

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Re: Hmm...

Looks like it's POETS day (*) at Reggie McIsterface.

* Friday.

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Google: Trust us with NHS AI

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Beancounters' wheeze

Everyone knows the British National Health Service is stoney broke. This looks like desperate NHS 'management' taking the money offered by Google, egged on by the myopic British Treasury..

Google are only partly to blame; there are many faults in the NHS.

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F-35s failed 'scramble test' because of buggy software

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Re: Dumbasses.

@Driver's Door

When I tried to get specs corrected during review, before coding, I was told by management to stop holding up progress on the workplan.

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Contractor companies

Sometimes it seems the customer/contractor model needs a major reset.

Like, hire a bright professor and some of his better students. Even if the total job is 1000 man years, you will get a useful prototype out of them. Most contractors can follow a prototype but are incapable of original design.

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Who you callin' stoopid? No excuses for biz intelligence's poor stats

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Inspector Nectar

Is it stupidity or perversity?

My nectar card regularly receives vouchers for immense discounts if:

  • I buy far more than I want to buy
  • I buy things I would never dream of buying.

I wonder why I bother.

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US data suggests Windows 10 adoption in business is slowing

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Re: Have an upvote.

@Ivan 4

Take it from me, another XP user: the update is very likely the malicious software removal tool.

I keep wondering when MS will consider anything other than Windows 10 to be malicious software.

XP is fairly safe if you run as a non-admin user. Fine, if you don't have to use some shoddy old in-house app that won't run unless it is an admin user.

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Daft draft anti-car-hack law could put innocent drivers away for life

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Popular Revolt

It is all very well for us experts (some real, some self-proclaimed) here to criticise outsiders efforts to regulate, but there are real and general problems which concern everybody, not just us. If we do not listen to public concerns, our work will eventually be overthrown.

The world has changed immensely since I was born about seventy years ago. In particular, many problems are world-wide and cannot be solved by a single nation. What is a minimum standard of decency in one country is an outrageous imposition in another, yet the Internet brings it to us all (unless you are behind a Great Firewall).

What has not changed is the difficulty of getting politicians, democratic or otherwise, to listen to good advice. If you can't beat them, join them!

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The web is DOOM'd: Average page now as big as id's DOS classic

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@Ken H

I save, for personal use, the occasional worthwhile web wisdom (aka www) and then edit it to clean text.

The average el Reg piece is 2K to 3K bytes, but up to 10K for extended articles. Other publications are 5K to 15K bytes.

So most of our bandwidth goes on pictures and video, which add little to the occasional well written piece; and mostly to adverts which add nothing.

I resent the way adverts dominate the byte count, with their feeble excuse that they are paying the bills.

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Universal Credit at high risk of cyber-attack, fraud from the outset

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Re: One question : are those "responsible" still in place ?

The Civil Service are, as an almost forgotten election slogan once put it, "Failing the nation". They should therefore be taken into public ownership, er, or something.

It would indeed be a punishment for the mandarins if they were lectured and ordered to do better by the ordinary people they so despise, for our ignorance of "higher considerations" i.e. departmental policy.

In other news today, the deputy chief of the Home Office was ordered out of a parliamentary committee hearing for failing to give proper answers. That is an example of mandarinate arrogance.

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Google, Facebook's CAPTCHAs vanquished by security researchers

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Re: Can you solve this Captcha?

It looks like a press release edited by an arts graduate who can manipulate words but not grasp their meaning.

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Britain is sending a huge nuclear waste shipment to America. Why?

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Re: How is this waste?

Well said, sir!

U-235 has a half life of 700 million years, and U-238 of 4500 my. They are not the problem; it is fission products that are.

I believe, though I would like to see someone else do it first, that one can safely walk past a freshly manufactured fuel rod. But a rod just withdrawn from a reactor is spitting wild rates of radiation from isotopes with a half life of just a few minutes, and would probably kill you. So those rods are left in a deep pool of water for a year, until there are two main fission products left: caesium-137 and strontium-90. These have half lives of about 30 years.

A half life of 30 years makes them emit, weight for weight, over 50 times more radiation than the classical radium (half life ca 1700 years). They could, however, be useful for peaceful applications of radiation. This may be why the story mentions hospital uses. Or, as commented above, they can be turned into glass and buried.

I have read that much of the earth's internal heat comes from the decay of potassium-40 in the earth's crust, with a half life of many billions of years. So I calculated the internal temperature of a football-sized sphere of sodium strontium silicate (glass). It would be red hot at the centre. So burying glass needs some thought and design.

But the story is unconvincing, a cloud of ackamarackus to hide some real objective, which may even be as mundane as money.

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We bet your firm doesn't stick to half of these 10 top IT admin tips

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The Security Chief

At one place I worked, you could easily spot the chief security officer. Everywhere he went people asked to see his pass.

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Bloaty banking app? There's a good chance it was written in Britain

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Re: Cheques

I am the Treasurer of my local town twinning committee. We use cheques for two main reasons: we do not have the business status to collect direct debits for subscriptions; and we require two signatures for payments. That latter is a protection for us committee officers as well as for the money.

Our German counterparts, however, use giro transfers to receive payments for the events they organise. I have not yet asked them about payments: do they need multiple authorisation, and if so, how is that arranged?

One problem we have: for every event we organise, some cheques arrive payable to the organiser personally rather than to the twinning association. Fortunately our bank is sympathetic to these things.

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Re: A few notes ....

My experience of looking at outsourced code was to conclude that the coders never had a chance to query what the specification really meant. It may have been due to the price of phone calls from some countries, and also a reluctance by the outsourced bosses to admit to problems.

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China enacts 'real name policy' for internet addresses

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No laughing matter

I have read that there are very few personal names used by the Chinese. How, then, does one distinguish Messrs Ho, Ho, and Ho?

Social security numbers, I suppose; or whatever the Chinese call them.We live in a world of sophists, economists, and calculators, wrote Edmund Burke long ago.

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Mud sticks: Microsoft, Windows 10 and reputational damage

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Re: Exhibitionists vs. Mormons

@TheOtherhobbes

"makes Twitter look like a Mensa pub quiz".

Well written, sir! Have an upvote.

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Crap IT means stats crew don't really know how UK economy's doing

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Cloudy statistics

Can't they just put all their data into some marvellous cloud? Then all they need for each important staff member is a PC running MS Access. Bring Your Own would save costs, the Treasury might suggest.

Except, of course, they have to get data into the cloud. I suspect that is where the problems are.

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A typo stopped hackers siphoning nearly $1bn out of Bangladesh

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Re: Bah

N'Draghi??

No, this is not US non-recognition of foreigners. It seems to be hinting at the Naples version of the mafia, the Ndrangheta.

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GCHQ: Crypto's great, we're your mate, don't be like that and hate

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Re: ...just like the police

No, they were not respected by the plebs (e.g. my grandparents, on one side at least). It is a middle class delusion to say the police were respected - and they lost that respect after everyone bcame a motorist.

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Re: Wedges with thin ends

No, sir, not Owen's.

I guess my old place is not the only one now restricted to the rich.

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