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* Posts by rh587

249 posts • joined 23 Mar 2011

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SCREW YOU, Russia! NASA lobs $6.8bn at Boeing AND SpaceX to run space station taxis

rh587
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"It's beleived the RD180 is quite manpower intensive to build (because man power was cheap in the former Soviet Union at the time it was designed?) so it needs a fair bit of metal bashing on each one to get it working properly."

Wouldn't be at all surprised - when that NASA team reverse-engineered that Saturn V F-1 engine, they reduced the number of components by an order of magnitude. Thanks to the wonders of modern manufacturing we can bend complex pipework from a single length or fabricate complex components from a single billet rather than having to weld simpler sub-components together. The result was an engine that looks the same but is built from the viewpoint of "how would we fabricate that today?" - and is thus far stronger, easier to produce (push "Start" on the CNC mill) and easier to bolt together.

If the RD-180 is simply an incremental evolution of earlier models I can easily imagine there are lots of parts that could be redesigned to be produced cheaper and more efficiently, but which aren't.

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Brit telcos warn Scots that voting Yes could lead to HEFTY bills

rh587
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Re: If they say yes...

Pax681

"No it isn't. Stop making things up."

read it and weep

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scottish_devolution_referendum,_1979"

I think he was possibly referring to your assertion that the 40% turnout requirement was higher than for most General Elections. The last two have had turnouts over 60%. 2001 was 59% and every General Election before that as far back as 1922 was over 70%, with a couple of elections in the 1950s tipping the odds at >80% turnout.

So yes. Stop making things up. 40% for a decision as important as secession and independence is not at all high. It should damn well have a turnout well over 50%. Either people care enough to vote or you're pandering to a vocal minority, which is no basis for rule.

Moreover, your claim of a 40% turnout quorum was wrong! The requirement in 1979 was for 40% OF THE ELECTORATE TO VOTE YES.

Although 48% of voters voted yes, that only equated to 32.9% of the electorate as the turnout was only 63%. Do you actually read the articles you post to...?

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Snowden shouldn't be extradited to US if he testifies about NSA spying, says Swiss gov

rh587
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Really? Tell that to Gary McKinnon.

Most of us - when someone pointed that we'd left the password blank on admin accounts network-wide - would have kept quiet and scampered off to do something about it (although we'd all like to think we'd have done a better job of it in the first place). Not the US though. They pursued extradition for a decade, claiming the damage to each terminal was exactly the value at which damage goes from civil to criminal charges. Convenient eh?

"Most" of the government are not the ones in charge - and sadly the ones who are tend to be bull-headed non-specialists more concerned with being seen to be "tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime", and not willing to be seen to back down once they've got their teeth into something.

Apparently admitting that the horse is flogged to death is a sign of weakness, presumably informed by that set of people who believe that you can flog it back to life and health again if you just carry on.

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Heavy VPN users are probably pirates, says BBC

rh587
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Re: iPlayer overseas

"But you know what? I maintain that just because you can't get hold of something you'd like to at the price you agree with that is not a justification to resort to illegal means to get it."

I would agree that if you are for instance, an Australian who wants to access the BBC simulcasts, that using a UK proxy or VPN would be morally and legally out.

However, for someone who has paid their licence fee, I'm not sure why there should be any legal or moral impediment to them accessing that service overseas, even if they do have do employ a VPN to get to their home's IP address, or a commercial proxy service because it's too difficult for the BBC to manage worldwide licensing on an individual scale.

It's no different to someone recording something off the TV at home and taking it on a USB stick to watch on the plane or in their hotel. If they've paid for it, does it matter where they watch it?

That surely, is far less of an issue than Europeans buying FreeSat dishes and tuning into free TV outside the UK because we can't narrow the transmission footprint adequately.

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rh587
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Re: Sorry Tom

"Part of the BBC license agreement includes an unwritten clause that says if you're not directly contributing to the UK economy in the UK or you're on holiday outside of the UK then you're not eligible to watch the BBC over the Internet on your domestic license."

Whut?

If it's unwritten then by definition it's not part of the license agreement.

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Data entry REAR-END SNAFU: Weighty ballsup leads to plane take-off flap

rh587
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Re: Next up: flying in circles

As S4qFBxkFFg says, it's to do with balance and Centre of Gravity. Too much weight up front and you can't take off, too much down the back and you take off, nose up, stall and crash as that 747 did in Afghanistan when the load shifted to the rear during take off.

That's why they weigh your baggage - not just for compliance with your allowance but so they can load the hold crates appropriately so heavy bags are distributed along the length of the aircraft, not all bunched up at one end.

For EasyJet and RyanAir, they're working on the premise that all things being equal, the passenger distribution will be about equal, and many of their aircraft are only 100 seats anyway, so a group that large would in itself equally distribute down the cabin! However, on a big several-hundred seat aircraft with allocated seats where they will be bunched together, groups may need breaking up, putting in the middle or counter-balancing with another similar group at the other end.

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NASA finds ancient films that extend Arctic ice record by 15 years

rh587
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Extending the ice extent records by 15 years adds a complete extra edition of the decadal oceanographic and meteorological oscillations, as well as getting us significantly closer to seeing any impact of a full cycle of the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation, which is thought to last 50-70 years.

Going from 35 years of data to 50 years is a big deal in terms of changes measured directly with satellites and modern instrumentation. Increasing the dataset by as much as 30% is big news.

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What do you mean, I have to POST a PHYSICAL CHEQUE to get my gun licence?

rh587
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It needs to be done right, and broadly speaking has been, though it was waaay over date and over budget. And they had to stuff "National" on the front because the Firearms Licensing Management System had become known as "FLIMSY". So now it's NFLMS, which ruins the backronym fun.

That was brought in after Dunblane when it became apparent that Thomas Hamilton had had adverse contact with the Police over the course of decades - but the regular beat bobbies had never thought to ask the Firearms Licensing lot to check their filing cabinets for whether he had guns (it wasn't really relevant). And then when they finally twigged, top brass wouldn't yank his certificate, even though there were a bunch of reasons they could have (wasn't a member of a Home Office Approved club for a start, which is a requirement to get a licence for Target shooting. Hunting is a bit different). Dunblane was truly a failure of Policing, not of the prevailing legislation, so the licensing process was tightened up. They also took away the pistols, but that was media grandstanding. The bit that made the difference was actually following the licensing procedure to the letter (I only mention Dunblane as it's important to understand how it came to happen and the reasoning behind the introduction of NFLMS. Anyone trying to make Political headway in either direction based on such a bloody appalling incident is a sicko).

So now if you're logging intelligence against a person, if they have a Firearm or Shotgun Certificate that'll pop up too, which is broadly a good thing.

And if you're pulled over, they can instantly check that your Firearms Certificate isn't a forgery designed to pass casual muster as they can get check from the roadside that it actually exists in the Police records, even if you're a shooter licensed by Devon and Cornwall Police, being pulled over by Surrey police on your way to Bisley or whatnot. This is a good thing.

Of course it only works if the person in the office actually logs all the records the firearms owners are dutifully sending in - that Person A has sold gun 1 to Person B, etc - and isn't just diverting the post into the bin whilst they spend all day playing Solitaire, which seems to be what happened in South Yorkshire.

Given some of those transactions must have involved certificate holders in other regions, it makes you wonder why NFLMS didn't start flagging when a transaction had been entered by, say, North Yorkshire Police, but not confirmed by South Yorks for their end of the transaction.

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rh587
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"Hand guns are basically illegal in Canada so only the criminals own them."

There's a bunch of Canadian Target Pistol Shooters who would disagree with you, shooting up to and including World Cup, World Championship and Olympic level.

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Surprise! Government mega-infrastructure project cocked up

rh587
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Re: assumption - better network = less commuting

"I'm not a coder myself, but my brother is - and he claims that if you're working in a team you often have to talk to the other members and discuss stuff. Presumably with a computer, some pads, a whiteboard, coffee and doughnuts..."

Define "coder".

Yes, for come applications, you're all working together, tightly integrated. My boss used to work as a pair with his colleague. He did the front end, his colleague did the database, so they'd sit opposite each other and be constantly passing handlers and such back and forth to each other - "What's that table called?", "Do you need column x in this query I'm writing?"

Conversely, for some tasks where you are writing a plugin, or some specific module, or you're a mathematician who sits and works out algorithms to throw to "the coders", you can quite happily sequester yourself away in piece and quiet and just submit your work for inclusion.

This is how Open Source works after all - people checking out code, working on it, merging it back into the code base, often on different continents, with most communication and "whiteboarding" done via mailing lists, forums, etc.

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rh587
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"I'm not sure. There's a lot of people living in the area affected who are objecting becasue of that, and will take on any objection. There are also some people looking at the vast cost and thinking it's a waste."

Yes and no. In my area much of the proposed HS2 is either tunnelled or below-grade. i.e. you won't see it because you'll look over the top of it, and won't hear it unless you're close.

Nevertheless, according to the extremely vociferous local No-HS2 group it will destroy the environment (yes, all of it, according to their campaign literature) and cause the coming of the apocalypse. As you say, they've long since passed from NIMBYism to plain BANANAs.

I would actually prefer it to have a somewhat larger impact and actually come into our main station. It would involve demolishing rather more houses than the edge-of-town station (or tunnelling under half the town) but it would also be a lot more useful in terms of changing for local rail and bus services and getting into the actual town you're travelling to rather than getting a bus from the new station to the main station for stopping services... but then my house also wouldn't be one that needed demolishing in the process so I'm biased...

As for CBAs. They wan tot be as good as possible, but sometimes the intangibles are very difficult - by their nature - to quantify. Municipal art has no tangible value (unless people come specifically to see it and you can measure the cash inflow), but generally it's a good thing to have if it improves the environment and encourages people to locate their home/business there. We don't mind councils spending a bit of money on communally "nice" things so long as it's not silly.

Likewise, quantify into financial terms the benefit of residents having a municipal park to enjoy and relax in, or a kid on a farm being able to play CoD with his town-dwelling school friends. Having grown up in a backwater I know how lonely it can be when you can't just walk round to a friend's house to play or socialise.

So as near to 1 as possible, but that shouldn't be a cut-off where it doesn't happen if it can't pay for itself. Same as the Royal Mail wouldn't have their service conditions of serving everywhere for the same stamp price. Sometimes you need to apply a fudge factor for "this is also a generally good thing to do".

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Top Ten 802.11ac routers: Time for a Wi-Fi makeover?

rh587
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Re: I mostly agree with this article

"Occasionally our department (being the catch-all for everything that plugs in) has to configure a home router for a customer that brought it in with them, complete with cables, printer, etc. to be thrown on our desks: "Here you go!" When I see an Airport router, I immediately begin swearing..."

If it's of any use, Airport Utility is available on iOS as well. Even if you're an MS/Linux house, someone is bound to have an iPhone/Pad.

Agreed it's a bit of a PITA not just having a web-interface like everyone else. Don't know whether that's a security improvement as presumably it's one less service running on the router. Guess it depends on how the Utility talks to the router and whether that's more or less secure than an inward-facing web service.

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rh587
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Re: speedy

As Spartacus mentioned. If you're streaming HD from your NAS, someone else can be using the internet (or their own stream depending how good your NAS is) and the wifi doesn't start running out of bandwidth. Unless you've got Infinity, 802.11n is far faster than your outbound connectivity, but internal traffic may well be higher still if you're in the habit of ripping your DVD/Blu-Ray collection to network storage.

By way of example my parent's ISP-issued 802.11-b (yuh, really) router is now seriously struggling when you try and connect a slew of phones, laptops and tablets to it simultaneously. It's 10 years old and was designed to sit next to a wired desktop with maybe one or two wireless laptops if you were one of the cool kids. Tablets and smartphones didn't exist back then. Still works fine as far as ADSL goes - they only get flaky rural ADSL so no one tries to stream (which would be pointless over 802.11b anyway) but the wireless chip itself isn't up to the job of talking to 3 devices per person. Gets confused when everyone is home for christmas and it's got 10-15 devices connected, if not doing anything. Just bought them a new n router and turned the wireless off on their old unit, leaving it to do modem/DHCP duties, which splits their devices over 2.4GHz and 5GHz and can cope with them all trying to talk to each other.

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rh587
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Re: ADSL, VDSL built in / requires modem

"More info required; it's all well and good you're testing the wireless speeds, but surely one of the other considerations is if the model is an ADSL / VDSL / Requires a cable/vdsl modem.

Hard to tell without going to each and every manufacturer page, (fritzbox, buffalo, tp-link excepted)."

Not that hard. The fact Orestis specifically mentions the presence of xDSL modems means it's a reasonable assumption that the others do not.

Or you can just look at the back-panel photos. If it's only got RJ45 sockets with one labelled "WAN" then you'll need a modem. If it's got an RJ11 socket labelled DSL then it's got it's own modem. Should be able to tell at a glance whether a modem is present.

Fair point that a matrix for other features like guest networks, firewalls, IPv6, VPN, etc would be useful.

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ICANN can't hand over Iran's internet, bomb victims told

rh587
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289 pages? Seems like a long winded way for ICANN to say. "F-off, don't be so stupid."

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Has Europe cut the UK adrift on data protection?

rh587
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Re: Democracy

"In short, if there is a nation that has historically been privileged in the EU, in terms that their opinion has often been accepted even when it was contrary to the majority and that a blind eye has been turned when it says "We don't like this global EU policy, so we decide that it applies to everyone except us.", that is the UK."

It's probably worth noting though that this in part to our attitude towards rules and regulations - i.e. we have clear, specific laws (though that's gone under a bus these past 15 years), but what we have we follow to the letter.

As opposed to the European example of pass some vague and broad-reaching laws in spirit, follow them in a manner that makes sense and if the Police disagree then a court can interpret...

Simple example, if a British farmer doesn't dot his i's and cross the t's on his DEFRA paperwork he'll get run into the ground by the bureaucrats. Mislay a movement form? Nice knowing you.

Compare that to France where no farmer worries too much about the paperwork and the ministry doesn't press them on it either.

As a result, we've always tried to be a lot more picky and specific. If there's an implementation date and you miss it, the French will come up with another date. If we miss it we're into fines, performance clauses, etc because we've done it as written. Culture clash and two fundamentally different ways of writing rules and laws. We stupidly end up trying to enforce broad directives to the letter, they get pissed off with us trying to be picky and specific because they rarely have any intention of actually implementing them anyway, just taking them as guidelines to inform their own policies.

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Apple winks at parents: C'mon, get your kid a tweaked Macbook Pro

rh587
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Re: Computers in Schools?

He kind of has a point, though hasn't made it very well. This obsession with putting laptops in front of every primary school kid can detract from actually getting on and learning.

That said, being given one of the coveted slots to play The Crystal Rain Forest with a partner on a Friday afternoon was a serious sweetener for the Primary school version of me to work hard. There was a Wizard of Oz text adventure as I recall. Those early RM games were great puzzle solving activities. Yes, there were non-computer based ones that we could do as a group - and we did - but variety is the spice of life and an hour on a computer each fortnight was no great detriment to our education, quite the opposite. Of course, those were the pre-95 days when the school had precisely two RMs (the Normal and the "CD-ROM") and few had a computer at home, so getting a go was a big deal to an 8 year old.

However, fast forward a few years and when I was using Autograph for my GCSE Maths coursework it didn't detract because I already knew how to graph a function on paper. I'd been doing it since we started separate science classes in Year 5. There was no gain to be had by me spending an hour doing that when I can rapidly plot multiple functions in autograph. But I understood what the software was doing on my behalf.

Likewise, submitting essays digitally allows much easier/quicker editing and writing for a student. It's also a lot easier for a teacher to copy-paste into a plagiarism-checker. Just because something is handwritten doesn't mean it wasn't plagiarised from somewhere.

It's wrong to say computers have no place in schools, but equally I think they've become overly pervasive. I did GCSEs just when a few kids started to have laptops, and by the end of A-Levels a lot had something they could bring in for writing up coursework. The school didn't have wifi by then though so the computer labs were the only source of internet access.

Even then though, I know one guy who spent all his A-Level Physics classes playing Half-Life, and someone I met at uni a couple of years younger than me reckoned a friend had become a reasonably senior Wikipedia Editor off the back of the stuff they'd done during lesson time when the teacher was at the board and had no idea if you were actually working or doing something else behind the screen.

There's a balance, and computers are best suited as a tool to speed something up and make the most of lesson time once they've learnt how to do it by hand.

I recall seeing a program lamenting the death of traditional skills and they visited a stone masons where everyone was workign with power tools - rotary sanders, etc. Looked very modern and industrial, but every apprentice had spent their first 12-18 months with a hammer, chisel and glass paper learning how to work stone properly before they were allowed the power tools as labour saving devices to apply their skills more rapidly and efficiently.

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Google Maps community competition falls foul of Indian regulations

rh587
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Because without Google Maps it would have been totally impossible for a member of the public to go to a public location, such as an Opera House, Bazaar or neighbourhood and scope it out for themselves. The absence of Google Maps would have totally scuppered their ability to plan such an attack...

As for Nuclear Installations... those would be totally impossible to know about.

I mean, it's not like there aren't thousands of people employed at those locations, at least some of whom will spill details when plied with alcohol. Not to mention news articles about them, multiple online sources of information like the IAEA, etc where details could be gleaned...

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Stick a 4K in them: Super high-res TVs are DONE

rh587
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Re: " were perfectly comfortable with the televisions they currently use"

"So anything higher resolution is unlikely to get much of a shout until the current set packs up or the price has dropped to the point that replacing it is a virtual no brainer."

Yup, my parents had an ancient 17" CRT that they'd had second hand off my grandmother.

That packed up the week before Christmas last year so an expedition to a suitable retailer was arranged with my little brother (on account of him being in at the time) and a 50" LG Smart TV duly appeared.

In fairness, at that size, the HD Freeview channels are noticeably better than their SD counterparts. It's also nice to have all the iplayer/Netflix/Lovefilm-AmazonFilm stuff embedded. Nothing I couldn't set up with an RPi but my parents much prefer just driving it all off one remote rather than having a Wireless keyboard, etc and introducing them to Raspbian, etc. And clicking a button is simpler than jacking in their laptop to an HDMI, setting up the right screen type (mirroring/extended desktop/etc - always defaults to the one you don't want at that moment!), having to wake it up when it goes into hibernation halfway through the film, etc.

Suffice to say, that TV ain't going anywhere until it physically dies. Not for 4K, not for nothing.

All they need now is something decent to watch...

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Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid: The plug-in for plutocrats

rh587
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Re: But why?

"Does anyone who can afford to lay out £90K for a car (probably north of £100K with extras) really give a damn whether it does 40MPG or 20MPG? Apart from giving you the chance to flaunt your green credentials at the country club this seems a largely pointless exercise."

Anyone who has £80-100k to spend on a Grand Tourer and doesn't buy a Jag F-Type ought to be sectioned. Dad had one for a weekend courtesy of work and oh my god what a car. Exciting when you want it to be and refined when you take your foot off the floor.

No, I know it's not a hybrid. But it doesn't matter. It's worth every penny.

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Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov

rh587
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Re: Plenty of sites warn you

Not quite. Most sites don't claim uploaded photos are exempt from copyright, but by using their service you grant the service provider a non-exclusive license to pilfer what they like.

So if I post a photo to Facebook, FB are within their rights to use that photo for their own purposes, including commercial and advertising. That still doesn't mean someone else has the right to pilfer it however.

Though as FB's minions strip all the metadata out of uploaded content, it potentially becomes difficult to trace origin once a photo has been saved and taken out of the context of FB.

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UK government officially adopts Open Document Format

rh587
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"Wonder if the EU will follow now."

They'll probably go the other way now Cameron's upset them, mandate .pages and .numbers and spend our taxes refitting the entire EU with Apple hardware.

Except for any British staff who will be issued Win95 boxes with MS Works.

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Report: American tech firms charge Britons a thumping nationality tax

rh587
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What TRT said.

A 13-inch Macbook is indeed:

£1499 on the UK store

$1799 on the US store, which equates to £1054 today on xe.com.

However, that £1054 is sans-tax. After normalising it with UK VAT, that £1054 becomes £1265. So there's still a £250 (16%) premium for living in blessed Blighty, but one does need to be careful whether you're comparing against America's tax-free online sales, or against local sales tax, which in most states is less than 10%, compared to our VAT rate of 20%.

I did once hear the UK referred to as "Treasure Island" by someone working for a US consumer electronics company. We're known for apparently being prepared to pony up premium prices.

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Motorist 'thought car had caught fire' as Adele track came on stereo

rh587
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Re: Red X

"Though I do understand your irritation at apparently pointless lane closures"

That and generally inappropriate usage of matrix signs. Whoever controls the M4 signage West of the Severn is a cretinous, unimaginative moron. The number of times I have been driving back to merry England in poor weather and been greeted with "Caution: Poor Driving Conditions"

Yes. I know. I can hardly read the matrix through the driving rain. But actually I'd quite like to know if the M50 is closed*, or what the traffic is like over the Severn Bridge. You know, useful and pertinent information that I can't glean by simply looking at the road ahead.

*It was. I chanced it and ended up being taken round a circuitous diversion. Trundling across the Severn Bridge and turning left would have been quicker. Thanks for nothing. Whoever does the M6 signage does a much better job of picking out the important nuggets, though I'm sure they'll also get in the habit of leaving the shiny new managed speed limits on far longer than is strictly necessary.

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SpaceX FINALLY lobs six sats into orbit (don't mention the landing)

rh587
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Re: Trailblazer or also ran

Noone is suggesting SpaceX are technically superior to anyone in particular in NASA, current or historical. They're certainly organisationally superior to many established players in the fact they have no associated baggage or legacy, which makes them nimble and agile.

You don't have to be doing things new to be impressive. Lots of people died trying to go to the South Pole. Once it had been done, noone set foot again at the South Pole again for decades (though people visited the continent), by which time they'd worked out how to do things reasonably safely, and they went with aircraft delivered by the commercial aviation industry. These days, most people who go to Antarctica don't die, despite it remaining a hazardous and hostile environment.

Similarly, NASA did amazing things with a blank cheque in the 60s. Since then it has slowed, working out how to do those things - and more - without killing their astronauts in the process. The level of risk they were prepared to accept dropped after they had proved it could be done at all.

So what that kerosene rockets are an established technology? Internal Combustion engines are old hat, that doesn't mean a new Ford EcoBoost is comparable to a 2hp unit from 1902 or that the engineers are any less skilled in their trade. Similarly SpaceX will employ plenty of people the intellectual equal to the early space cadre engineers. Doesn't mean they're better, but it's also not ass backward - they're not inferior either just because (by chance of birth) they weren't first or because they don't have to do it with a slide rule and test their theories by putting a physical rocket on the pad - they can blow shit up in computers before they have to spend money on fabricating something which could kill the person strapped to the top of it.

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Computing student jailed after failing to hand over crypto keys

rh587
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Re: What happened to the right to remain silent? @John G Imrie

Indeed. The right to remain silent is in place, and as worthless as ever. Silence means nothing.

The bit worth having (which is frequently referred to as the right to remain silent) is the right not to incriminate yourself.

However, that no longer exists. If you don't know who was driving your car when it got speed-gunned, the Police will assume it was the registered keeper despite the fact a rear-facing gatso will provide no conclusive evidence of who was driving.

Likewise a Judge no longer instructs juries that they may not infer anything from a refusal to answer a question.

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PANDA chomps through Spotify's DRM

rh587
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Re: Use spotify myself

For Spotify, it doesn't matter - it's a streaming service. You are paying a monthly access fee. If Spotify disappears then you move to another service.

The problem comes with things like iTunes (although iTunes specifically doesn't DRM anymore), where you are licensing the music in perpetuity (what we used to call "buying" - though you were only ever buying the vinyl, and licensing in perpetuity a domestic use license for the IP contained on it).

Unfortunately there is no guarantee of the Rights Manager existing in perpetuity. If they go bump, so does your music unless they release a tool to unlock everything as their dying act.

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You 'posted' a 'letter' with Outlook... No, NO, that's the MONITOR

rh587
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Re: But these are actually intelligent people ....

The best/worst one I had was with a laptop. I asked the owner "what's wrong with it"?

The answer I got was "your the computer expert, you tell me..."

I shoot target rifle in my spare time, and do a spot of coaching. I have a carefully crafted look for individuals who come off the range, put a target in front of me that looks like it's been peppered with a shotgun rather than carefully shot at with a rifle and ask

"So what happened there then?".

To which the simple reply is

"You didn't point the rifle at the middle when you squeezed the trigger".

The simplicity of this entirely accurate statement is not usually appreciated. However, since these are usually the same people who you can spend three hours coaching, and then forget it all by next week, I just smile, turn away and go coach someone who wants to learn.

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LONGER flights burning MORE fuel can CUT planes' climate impact

rh587
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Re: stupid question...

"yeah, planting trees doesn't actually trap CO2."

Yes. And no.

If you have a deforested area that you plant up, it will become a carbon store. Sure, individual trees will rot and cycle, but a forest ties up a lot more carbon compared to an open grassy plain or arable field.

Additionally, if you harvest it for building, furniture, etc, that carbon won't rot - in the case of hardwood it could last centuries if it's part of a decent building or worthwhile furniture (my parent's house contains 300 year old beams). In the case of wood getting mulched for engineered beams, those sorts of buildings don't tend to last as long before the next fad, but it still keeps the carbon locked up for a few decades longer than it otherwise would have, lengthening the cycle. It's not permanent storage (nothing is), nor does it put it back into the oil-bearing strata from whence it came, but it lengthens the cycle.

Of course offsetting for building usage assumes it's replacing something dirtier (in terms of embodied energy/carbon) like replacing a steel framework with wood or something.

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rh587
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Re: Reducing emissions

They already do. You can book a flight from Chicago to Winnipeg with about 3 different airlines. However, when you get to the gate, you're all getting on the same service regardless of who's logo is printed on your ticket or painted on the side of the plane.

That's why the likes of Star Alliance exist.

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How practical is an electric car in London?

rh587
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Re: On Street Parking

""spell the end of the ICE". Err, right. Not everyone lives in cities, you know. And some people even live near to power stations, which is simply where your pollution (in fact, a great deal more - given the inherently wasteful nature of electric generation and motive power) gets pushed.

I've an idea: re-build Battersea Power Station for the exclusive use of electric vehicles. Then London would see EXACTLY the consequences of all this "free, clean" electricity."

Mr Gray, a large gas plant with in-situ scrubbing and filtration would probably be a whole lot cleaner than the sort of catalytic converters you can sensibly squeeze onto a small vehicle. So yes, going to electric from ICE is a sensible idea, provided your stations are equitably located so as not to incur horrendous transmission losses.

And, you know, get the flock on and build the Gen IV nuke stations that should have been greenlit during Premier Blair's reign if our politicians weren't so utterly spineless when it comes to energy security.

Clean, safe, low carbon, can be turned on and off at will instead of (literally) going with the wind. Ensure at least one utilises a fuel cycle conducive to recycling our existing waste stocks, and sort out the boneheaded rules of what classes as "hazardous". Putting a watch with tritium elements into a drum of soil does not render that soil irradiated or hazardous in any sane sense of the term. Landfill the stuff that's less harmful than coal ash, recycle the good stuff and bury the vitrified remains of the relatively small remainder that are no good.

5
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AV for Mac

rh587
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Didn't know Sophos had a Mac offering.

Avast! have a free Mac offering for Home usage, and I've used ClamXAV as well in the past, though Avast! is probably more Mother-In-Law friendly.

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Tom Hanks NICKED my COPYRIGHTED PIC, claims Brit photog

rh587
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Re: Humbug

As Random Handle states, medals worn on behalf of someone should worn on the right. You wear your own medals on the left.

This is what Beckham got called out for at the Royal Wedding - he'd wore his OBE on his right, incorrectly as it was his.

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Greenpeace rejoices after getting huge renewable powerplant CANCELLED

rh587
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Re: Lower CO2 emissions maybe

"Anyway, I can't believe those figures. You could chop down a bunch of the vegetation if it's that bad. But the methane cost is a one-off. Once you've built a hydro-electric dam you've basically got carbon free electricity for ever. Sure you may have to keep repairing the dam, and buy new generators and impellors, but that's never going to have the same cost in methane."

It's not quite one-off. Due to seasonal changes in water level plant life can encroach on areas of the reservoir bed which are then re-flooded in winter. How bad this is varies from project to project - if you're flooding a deep rock-sided fjord or steep valley with a small surface area, then not very. If your reservoir is relatively shallow and wide, then a drop of a few metres can uncover hundreds/thousands of acres of land which can harbour plant life through the summer before being inundated again.

However, a lot of the statistics also only count the first 10 years of a reservoir's life, which is indeed bollocks when a well placed and constructed dam could easily serve duty for over a century, which will easily outstrip a fossil-plant unless it's exceptionally shallow and seasonal, in which case don't bother.

In this case, methane/CO2 arguments aside, this project was managing to hit pretty much every sore spot as (according to Wikipedia), it was liable to impact six national parks, eleven national reserves and twenty-six conservation priority sites, which is a stonking good effort by anyone's reckoning.

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World first: ANIMATED GIF of Mercurian SUN ZOOM from MARS

rh587
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I recall the 2004 transit better. Was at home, supposedly revising for exams, but as I had a few days till the next one and it was a gloriously sunny spell, opted to spend a happy few hours pointing a small telescope at the sun and plotting the transit across the piece of card that the telescope projected onto.

Dad had also thoughtfully provisioned a couple of layers of glass from a welding visor bonded together so you could safely observe it directly. Happy days.

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Everyone can and should learn to code? RUBBISH, says Torvalds

rh587
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Re: arehole

"I've worked with computers for over 30 years but my daughter has no interest in them, my wife is more interested in them than my daughter and my wife is a nursery school teacher. My daughter wants to be a theatre set designer, something none of us expected with me and my wife being techies. My daughter is very comfortable using computers, knows a little BASIC programming, understands enough to see technology as a tool and nothing more and I'm happy with that."

I think this is an important point. Programming isn't just about writing kernels and drivers. If you get into theatre or stage stuff, then you may well end up getting into lighting routines, which may involve a level of programming at professional production level.

Likewise a teenage artist who decides they want to get into animation is going to find the ability to program Blender with Python plugins rather useful.

Similarly developing Photoshop add-ons, etc. Programming is becoming ubiquitous not just in actual application programming but as a supporting tool for other hobbies, interests and careers.

They don't need to learn all this in school, but they need to learn enough that they can dip further into it if they want to, and the idea of programming isn't scary and perceived to be at the top of an ivory tower.

The little bit of BASIC I did with an enlightened IT teacher at school certainly made life easier when I had to learn MATLAB and some R at university (the teacher's view was that teaching people to use Word or Excel was the job of English and Maths staff as they are effectively tools to extend the content of those subjects. In his mind teaching IT did not constitute how to use a specific productivity package, which was good because it meant he used his lesson time to actually teach us a bit about how computers worked, why they tended to break (user error), etc).

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UK govt 'tearing up road laws' for Google's self-driving cars: THE TRUTH

rh587
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Re: Driverless car

Although to be fair the DLR rarely reaches any speed worth worrying about since stations are barely 500m apart. There are 3 serving the Excel centre alone, and 4 in the square mile to spare the poor commuters having to walk all of 200metres in the morning.

First time I rode it I kept thinking "We're slowing down again? Back of the train's barely left the last station."

The western end is okay (at least 1km between stops), but if you're trying to get out East you're better on the Tube or going Overground by the time you've sat through the ExCel and London Airport stops and treat them as an express service compared to the "local DLR stopping service".

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The Strippers, Unicorn Computers and Martian Watches of Computex

rh587
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Re: Depressing marketing non-science

Whilst MaH is fairly unforgivable, the usage of mAh in itself is a matter of context.

Whilst 3000mAh is indeed 3Ah, it's at the top end of capacity within it's category, and when you're comparing it against smaller batteries, as small say as 800mAh, then it's appropriate to continue with the same notation, even if it's a little clunky.

If you were comparing car or leisure batteries by contrast, you would never use mAh because no such battery has a capacity of less than 1Ah.

By way of example, lets say you had a bunch of products differentiated by length. Most were between 200mm and 900mm, but a few at the top end a few stretched out to 1500mm.

You wouldn't use metres for all of them, because 0.295m is unwieldy - you'd just say 295mm.

Equally however, it would be silly to have half your product line marketed in metres and the other half in millimetres.

Yes, people would understand if you said "this is our 900mm product, and here is the 1.2m version" but it's ungainly - you'd say "here the 900 and the 1200 options".

And so it is with mobile tech batteries which have developed from hundreds of mAh (where it's perfectly sensible to use that notation), through to predominantly thousands of mAh, but the notation has stuck for the sake of (now) bottom end products.

Also, fundamentally, it's what's printed on the side of the product. It could be considered remiss in some journalistic circles to paraphrase the manufacturer's description of the product.

Is it really a problem? No. Not really. Not until phones start regularly hitting 10000mAh levels at which point pretty much everything below it will probably be at least 1000mAh and it becomes a lot more wieldy to use Ah as the frequency of products less than 1 will be small.

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Queen's Speech: Computer Misuse Act to be amended, tougher sentences planned

rh587
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Re: Shark Jumped!

The BBC have used the wording "written paedophilia".

So better burn those copies of Lolita now. Surely written paedophilia (assuming it is entirely fictional) is the very definition of a victimless crime, however distasteful it may be. In any case, the Head of the British Library can look forward to a lengthy stretch inside unless they burn a sizeable chunk of their Victorian literature.

Seems like just the sort of laws the Police love - it can mean pretty much whatever they want it to mean, giving grounds for arrest and thus grounds to search for "other evidence". In other words, a charter to go fishing.

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About to make a big bet? Don't crash out, cash in with the power of maths

rh587
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Interesting, so it appears my first Python script was a Monte Carlo Simulation, and I didn't even realise! Go me!

After an evening of imbibing some years back, some smartarse posed the Monty Hall Problem to the table. The next day, after much discussion, I wrote a little script to play the game a million times. Turns out you are indeed better off changing your door.

Of course the Monty Hall Problem is not especially difficult to solve deterministically - though it is a bit counter-intuitive, but a nice example to get your head around :)

Also a nice problem to pose to Python beginners on a 101 course - call the rand module, use it to set a couple of variables, simple While loop (n<1000000) and If-Else block and a couple of variables to count win/lose. Doesn't need many lines of code, but there's a few different elements in there to make them think, and they learn a bit of probability at the same time.

For bonus points ask for user input at the start for number of repetitions and whether the player changes their choice or not (rather than hard-coding the logic).

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Windows XP fixes flaws for free if you turn PCs into CASH REGISTERS

rh587
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@Pascal Monnett

"The proper lifecycle of a product is that it is retired when its market share becomes negligeable. Millions of customers are not negligeable. Software, as it has been said, has no date limit, so Microsoft should continue and support its product until at least 90% of XP users have switched to something else."

Would that be until 90% of the current users have moved to something different, or until 90% of the people who used XP in 2005 have moved to something different?

90% of people still using it is somewhat of a moving target!

- XP market share is down to between 8-20% depending on who you believe and how those stats are collected.

- Given that a proportion of those are either:

> Pirate copies (80+% of XP machines in China are on pirate copies)

> Embedded XP (which is still officially supported for most of this decade)

> Desktop XP being supported past EOL by the NHS et al paying M$ many dollars

(None of which count for the purposes of this discussion since freetards get what they deserve and the other two are supported).

It is entirely reasonable to suggest that actual legitimate desktop XP share is well below 10% as people have moved to Linux, OSX, or their laptops have died - whether by baking, battery dying or hinges cracking off and have been replaced with Vista, 7 or 8.

Therefore by your own criteria, MS are well within their rights to drop it as usage is below 90%.

It's no surprise that the big holdout for IE6 usage is China, still running hooky XP with the original browser and no updates.

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Space hackers prepare to reactivate antiquated spacecraft

rh587
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Pint

Re: Very nice

It's certainly one of mankind's most notable spacecraft, but probably not "famous", except in space circles amongst people who know about these things. The "most famous" plaudits probably go to the ISS, Mir, the Shuttle, Eagle Lander, the Millennium Falcon and the Enterprise - the one with photon torpedos, not the original Shuttle frame. Sadly, a lot won't have heard of ISEE-3, despite it's significant achievements.

Nevertheless, picking over a phrase is not the point.

A pint to the team for getting this far, in an endeavour best summed up as 'kin awesome.

9
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Graphics pros left hanging as Adobe Creative Cloud outage nears 24 hours

rh587
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Re: Cloud

Which is fine if you only need RGB support for digital/web media or desktop printing. Show me the industry-standard Open Source CMYK solutions for commercial print.

No one in Open Source land has got around to cracking CMYK yet (there's Separate+, but if CMYK matters that much to you, then it's not up to snuff - yet), and until they do Adobe will retain their strange hold on the industry

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Get cracking on STARTTLS says Facebook

rh587
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Re: Hmm

Yes... and no...

Clearly encrypting client to client is preferable for those who actually use desktop clients, or a webmail service that supports PGP/public-private key encryption. But sadly the general public are not up to maintaining their own PGP keys and doing that. They just want to fire off a barbeque invite quickly and easily.

However, for those using exclusively the likes of Hotmail, gMail, etc, encrypting in transit makes life that bit harder for spooks - they can't just dragnet them on the wire (as easily), they physically have to hack the mail server or get a warrant to access the messages at the provider (and unless you run your own mail server, no provider is immune to warrants and court orders, short of burning all the data like Lavabit chose to).

You're not wrong, in that end-to-end is far superior, but as most people don't actually store their email locally, it's a moot point. The data is no more secure than the SSL connection to the webmail interface they use to read and write their emails, thus an SSL-alike level of encryption in transit is appropriate.

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ULA says to BLAME SPACEX for Ruski rocket rebuff

rh587
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Re: Sad indictment

"Yes it is about making money, but it seems that in this case SpaceX have been concerned about how that money is made."

If by that you mean they are concerned that the money is not being made by them, then you'd be correct.

SpaceX want in on the government launch contracts. Have for a while, which is why they've been working towards certification and approval for those jobs. The recent politics offer an opportunity for them to dig the knife in and play the "Jobs for 'Mericans" card that the DoD can't be seen to ignore, and leverage it against the ULA monopoly.

Supply issues aren't really the issue. If ULA genuinely runs out of RD-180s they can deploy the All-American Delta in place of Atlas, they'd just prefer not to. It's more a case of embarrassing ULA and twisting the DoD's arm to review the incumbent arrangements.

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Mozilla axes HATED Firefox-ad-tab plan ... but will try again

rh587
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Re: Sounds to me like...

Ironically of course, Mozilla is funded in no small part from the many millions Google pay them to be the default engine in the search bar (which incidentally is why a search engine is no longer my home page, because why default to search when I have a search bar permanently available?).

I'm not sure why people should be so conflicted with a few ads or sponsored add-ons here and there - provided they are not overly intrusive, and respectful of DNT settings, etc.

Firefox is already funded from sponsorship, ironically from their biggest competitor, which is why I'm sure they're keen to diversify their income stream.

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Spy sat launch wannabe SpaceX fails to stop rival gobbling Russki rockets

rh587
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"“Sadly, SpaceX’s frivolous lawsuit caused unnecessary distraction of the executive and judicial branch and increased tensions with Russia during a sensitive national security crisis,” the alliance said."

Yes, frivolous, I can see exactly how the awarding of a 36 core contract (which at the claimed $400m/launch amounts to $14.4bn) could be described as "frivolous".

But it's certainly not frivolous for SpaceX's bottom line, not frivolous for the US taxpayer, and definitely not frivolous for the bottom line of a bloated whale of a corporation who will struggle enormously in a free market where SpaceX can undercut them by up to 75% (and where Virgin LauncherOne may drop the price even further for small payloads in very low orbits, which fits the bill rather well for some of the short-lived, very-high-res spysats that noone knows about, especially as WhiteKnightTwo-alike craft can operate from any old airfield that offers an optimal launch profile).

Much cheaper to laugh them off as boisterous kids and pay the right people to make sure the "grown up" supplier gets the grown up contracts.

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Cold War spy aircraft CRASHED Los Angeles' air traffic control

rh587
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Re: If you only knew how old that gear is

Talking to a controller at NATS a few years back when they were introducing their electronic system, I gathered it also made the handling of a lot of the US-bound transit traffic from Eurocontrol through to the Atlantic a lot simpler as that traffic was already at cruising altitude and didn't usually need a lot doing to it, so the system could accept the "digital strips", effectively doing the paperwork and just let the controller keep an eye on it, focussing on sorting out those flights that actually needed at ascend/descend from/to airports or lower flight levels.

As he said though, it's nice, but when you have a problem, like an erroneous number on a strip, you can't physically throw it at an ATC assistant and have them figure it out, you've got to work out what's wrong, and manually correct it yourself, which distracts you from the rest of your airspace.

That said, errors shouldn't occur (as often) because the data transfer is automated, so no mistaking what the lovely Belgian controller said through their accent, and there were obviously failsafes that flagged for attention if you were asking an aircraft to achieve orbit or go Mach 7.

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HALF of London has outdated Wi-Fi security, says roving World of War, er, BIKER

rh587
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"I would imagine a large amount of unencrypted access points are "guest APs", where you log in with a username and password after connecting, or perhaps no authentication at all (by design)."

That and decade old domestic broadband routers that have sat on the phone stand since they were delivered, only being replaced if the owner moved house and was sent a new router for their new line, or if it went on the fritz. My parent's Orange Livebox went on 5 years before a thunderstorm spiked the phone line and the router with it, and it's replacement has been going for the best part of a decade.

No reason they will replace it unless it dies or they get sent a shiny new box for a fibre connection, which won't happen because fibre isn't coming to their rural backwater. Ever.

On the plus side their old farmhouse has "proper" walls built of stone and brick, not plasterboard and wood, so the wifi barely makes it downstairs, much less outside the house or the mile to their nearest neighbour (who has no line of sight in any case). The odds of anyone sniffing that access point are somewhere approaching nil.

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PEAK APPLE: Mystery upstart to hurl iLord from its throne 'by 2020'

rh587
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Re: Apple don't have anything in the cloud? Don't think about data?

"Like everything Apple has, Google has already done it, and it's better/cheaper/more comprehensive."

iTunes Store:

- Launched April 28, 2003

- 26 million songs

- 190,000 TV episodes

- 45,000 films

Google Music:

- Launched November 16, 2011

- 18 million songs

So Google has managed to "already do it" 8.5 years behind their biggest rival, with a 2/3 catalogue offering.

Price or user-friendliness notwithstanding (UI being in the eye of the beholder, and pricing no doubt varying label-to-label), remind us again how Google beat them to the punch with a more comprehensive solution?

Google do lots of things better than Apple. That doesn't mean they beat them to the punch every time. Nor that Apple don't have the edge in their own niches. They have a formidable wealth of experience and IP which is why they are where they are.

Remind me how old Sergei Brin was when Apple was developing the Newton arm-in-arm-with-ARM? Google didn't get there first now did they?

That said, Google was founded in 1998 and was a formidable force in search by 2003. It's not impossible that a disruptive start-up could be a household name in 5 years. If it replaced Apple though it would only because one of the other big players had toppled Apple with some game-changer.

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