* Posts by Peter Gathercole

2437 posts • joined 15 Jun 2007

Kindle Paperwhites turn Windows 10 PCs into paperweights: Plugging one in 'triggers a BSOD'

Peter Gathercole
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Re: I remember @AC

The way that Windows device driver identification works is fundamentally broken IMHO.

It requires you to have a specific driver for the USB and PCI (and I presume PCIe) device identity. This is normally provided by the manufacturer (remember all those shiny round things that came with the device).

The result is that if you upgrade a windows system, and the existing propriety driver that used to work fails the upgrade compatibility check and is removed from the configuration, the device will be left with no driver loaded. This is even if there are perfectly good drivers for that particular device on the system (this is particularly bad for network devices that are largely built from standard chipsets).

in the case of network drivers, this may mean that you can't even get to the Internet to try to find working drivers!

The Linux model, which has generic drivers for almost all of the chipsets included with the OS, and a device ID mapping file that points to the correct generic driver for a particular device, means that as long as you can identify what driver should be used, even if it is not in the config. file already, you have a fighting chance of getting it working without having to find another machine and start mucking about with USB memory sticks to copy the driver to re-install.

And you're not beholden to a device manufacture who has no real interest in providing new drivers for old hardware.

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Former RN flagship HMS Illustrious to be sold for scrap – report

Peter Gathercole
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And, if you remember, they were only going to buy a single catapult, and swap it between the two ships as they entered/left refit. (Even now, it is only intended to keep one at sea at a time, which is how they intend to get away with so few planes.)

A ship of the size of these, with only a single catapult would be useless. Nimitz and Ford class carriers have four....

Whatever idiot suggested this method of working obviously thought that removing/fitting a catapult could not possibly be any more complicated than changing a car tyre!

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Peter Gathercole
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Electrical energy

Well, the US EMALS system is not going to be retro-fitted to the Nimitz class of carriers because the two nuclear reactors installed on these ships do not provide enough energy. So the chances of a gas-turbine/generator system providing enough juice seems unlikely.

They're being installed on the Gerald R Ford class, which have an uprated generating capacity compared to the Nimitzs.

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Peter Gathercole
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The biggest problem with the QEs is that they are powered by gas turbine/electric propulsion.

They could not have had steam catapults fitted, because there is no steam plant to generate steam (unlike the US nuclear carriers). And the electro-magnetic plane flingers were not available when the ships were first planned, need huge amounts of electrical power, and are bloody expensive (being current US technology).

If the design had been built around four or six Astute sub. reactors, they would have had either steam or surplus electrical power. But some bleeding hearts had decided that the UK should not have nuclear powered surface warships. So we have ships with limited range, reduced accommodation for crew, provisions, weapons and aircraft because of the need to have J-fule bunkers and fresh water tanks.

IMHO, they are seriously compromised ships, along with their built-around a-single-weapon system escorts, the Type 45 destroyers. I though the navy had learned this lesson after the County class and Type 81 large destroyers of the 1960's.

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Peter Gathercole
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Re: Saving ships @GrumpyKiwi

We scrapped nearly all of the WWII battleships very soon after the war. All of the surviving QE class were knackered after bearing the brunt of the Mediterranean conflict, with Warspite, Valiant and Queen Elizabeth all seriously damaged at various times by mines and consequently not suitable for preservation.

The Revenge class were already in reserve at the close of WWII, because they were very slow and had fueling issues (they were built as oil/coal fired, and did not have the oil bunkerage for operations outside of the North Sea).

Nelson and Rodney were... odd. Very atypical, and would not really have been representative.

Keeping a King George V should have been possible, but it was again, these were paid off into reserve or used for training duties very quickly after the war.

Although it was not a WWII battleship, Vanguard, as the last operational British battleship (and probably the best looking example of British big-ship design - being closest to the canceled Lion class in design) would have been an excellent choice, but preservation efforts failed because it would have been so expensive (and the government in the '60s were desperately trying to cut the cost of defence).

But Belfast is not such a bad remnant. In terms of size, being the same length as the smaller British battleships, is reasonably representative of wartime cruiser design (being a stretched, or improved Southampton class), had been active in WWII and was in the best condition of all of the remaining available large ships. As such, she gives some impression of size and conditions for a large number of British ships.

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Peter Gathercole
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Re: I would actually argue..

I stand suitably corrected. I was trying to avoid calling them Hawker Siddley Buccaneers.

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Peter Gathercole
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I would actually argue..

..that carrier based fast jet operations actually ended with the decommissioning of the Audacious class R09 HMS Ark Royal in 1979.

Compared to that venerable old lady, the Illustrious class were relatively small.

The Illustrious class were designed with a full-load displacement of around 18,000 tons. R09 Ark Royal was designed at 35,000 tons, and evolved to over 40,000 tons full load, over twice the displacement. In addition, she embarked F-4K Phantoms, the last supersonic aircraft to fly from a British carrier, and Bristol Buccaneers.

The Mighty Ark was a hold-over from WWII armored carrier design, and by the time she was decommissioned was completely worn out through a long life and incremental modifications. In the '60s, there was a grand project to build CVA-01, a suitable replacement, but this was canned by a Labour government, who deemed that the Navy no longer needed ship based fixed-wing aircraft. As a result, the Illustrious class then on the drawing board, were re-christened Through-Deck Cruisers, and were only intended to fly helicopters for anti-submarine purposes.

It was only after trials of P1107 Kestrels and early Harriers on R09 Ark Royal and HMS Bulwark (a light fleet carrier converted to operate helicopters) proved that they could be operated from smaller ships without CATOBAR facilities that it became feasible to actually use the Illustrious class as light fleet carriers. They were completed with ski-jumps to assist takeoff, and I actually saw Ark Royal and Illustrious being fitted out on the Tyne in the '80s.

But as the Sea Harrier was subsonic, I maintain that it did not really count as a fast jet.

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Google broke its own cloud by doing two updates at once

Peter Gathercole
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Re: Still planning to have these clown in your infrastructure? @Adam

... but with your own infrastructure, you can plan your own changes to avoid conflicts, and also make sure that changes don't happen during your critical business periods. You know how good the people doing the work are, you have the responsibility for hiring them!

You're also free to analyze what happened to whatever depth you want post incident, assigning the correct blame and improving future work without relying on partial, face-saving reports and promises from a service provider whose interests are not served by making the full details of their mistakes public.

I know Google have very skilled people in some places in their organization. But you think they're the people actually doing the day-to-day grind? They're probably mostly in design/third level escalation, The people doing the grunt work will be like every other company, the cheapest they can get to fill the roles.

And when it comes to suing service providers, trying to take legal action while trying to recover a business, especially against companies that employ good lawyers, is the last thing a company would need. Even if you won (after the appeal, of course) chances are the financial gain might be too late to save a business.

I would be pretty certain that for most tiers of cloud that people are using, the terms of the contracts and their resultant SLAs that the likes of Google provide will not have clauses that provide significant redress. And did I say that they employ good lawyers? And it might even be difficult to identify which legal jurisdiction any case should be brought!

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More gums than Jaws: Greenland super-sharks live past 400 years old

Peter Gathercole
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Re: New dating techniques

"...it reproduces very slowly".

Sounds like a new dating technique is required. Catch,com, maybe, or possibly eHARMony. How about EliteSinglePreditors.co.uk? GreenlandSingles.com?

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'I found the intern curled up on the data centre floor moaning'

Peter Gathercole
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Re: Locked in a machine room

Nope.

Neither the company I was working for at the time, nor the one in London was IBM!

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Peter Gathercole
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Early hours of the morning

While I was working in the support center of one of the major IT suppliers, I was awakened by the pager in the small hours of the morning.

When responding to the call center, the operative said "I hope you don't mind, but the customer has asked who was on standby before they placed the call". Obviously, the customer had different opinions about the people who were on the standby rota. Apparently, I had passed their vetting, and I called them up.

I then spent about 20 minutes listening to the details of the problem, interspersing a few appropriate noises. At the end of this, the customer said "OK, I think I know what I need to do now".

I said, "But I've not given you any help or assistance", to which she replied "No, but you let me describe the problem to someone who would understand it, which has allowed me to think it through".

I said that I would be available if she needed to call me again, and she thanked me, and hung up. I did not hear from her again that night, so her solution must have worked. Easiest call-out I ever had.

I came across her again several years later after I had started contracting. Apparently, my CV passed across her desk for a role they were trying to recruit, and she remembered me (not just form the call described above, but from other support calls). I got a rather bemused agent on the phone, who said that she's called them unprompted to say that the role was mine if I wanted it, without any interview, and at the highest rate he'd been told to recruit at.

Unfortunately, it was London based, and I was not looking a role in the Capital. Still, it's nice to be appreciated sometimes.

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Peter Gathercole
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Locked in a machine room

I was working for a large telecomms company that had outsourced development of a call billing package to a supposedly premier UK based software company. The third party were provided with a rather obscure proprietary UNIX system (made by the telecoms company) to develop on, because that was the platform the system would run from.

They proceeded to break it, and I was told to go up to London to investigate and rebuild the system for them.

After I arrived and booked in, I was taken and left (unescorted!) in a machine room in a building just off the Tottenham Court Road in London, where I discovered that they had extended the /usr filesystem over the swap space (this was when you had sys-gen'd disk partitions - it was some time ago), and diligently sorted the disk partition table, and restored the filesystem from the backup tape.

When I finished, I looked around. The machine room had no 'phones in it, and it was before mobiles were common. The door could only be opened with an electronic tag. There was nobody in listening distance of the door, no matter how much I pounded it. The only system I could log into was the system I had fixed, and there were no other users logged on.

Something like 4 hours after I had finished, someone thought to look in on me. I was cold, thirsty, and really needed the toilet. I had toyed with the idea of the fire alarm, or turning random machines off to try and attract attention, and also considered lifting a floor tile and leaving a 'present' under the suspended floor.

I cannot remember whether I received any form of apology. All I wanted to do was get out of there.

And you can guess how I felt when just two weeks later, I got a call saying that this 'premier' software company had done exactly the same thing again (after being given an explicit report of what they'd done wrong previously), and could I go up and fix it....

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Vodafone bins line rental charges as it moves onto TalkTalk's turf

Peter Gathercole
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Line rental

I've never understood why there is such a huge complaint about paying line rental.

The cost of the copper/fibre infrastructure, and the ISP end equipment has to be paid for somehow, whether it be by a broken out line rental, or by having it wrapped into the monthly package.

The cost of the voice component of the phone line is minimal in this day and age, and probably most data only lines still have the hardware to do analogue calls anyway. Just think, I can buy outright a whole mobile phone, with radios, batteries, displays and everything for £10. How much does the A-D and D-A converters cost at the exchange? And the amount of digital information generated by an analogue voice call is trivial.

This means that it is extremely unlikely that a data only line with the infrastructure costs wrapped into the costs will work out any cheaper.

I'm all for making the eventual costs more transparent, however.

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Internet of Car...rikey what the hell just happened to my car?

Peter Gathercole
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Re: KITT is screwed, then.

KITT was always interfering with other car's ignition and locking systems (it was one of it's/his normal tricks), and I'm pretty sure was hacked more than once.

But of course that was fiction.

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Big Red alert: Oracle's MICROS payment terminal biz hacked

Peter Gathercole
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Re: MICROS payment terminals hacked @bazza

Unfortunately, many small-business merchant services do use the Internet as a communication path (small shops don't want the cost of a separate communication infrastructure, and dial-up is becoming history), either via *DSL lines or mobile, and this means that the central servers for the merchant systems must also be connected to the Internet.

One hopes that they establish secure VPNs for the actual transmission of the transaction details, and that the central servers are properly secured, but I'm afraid with the advent of payment services run via mobile phones, like PayPal and others are doing, it could be the security of the mobile phone and attached card devices that will become the attack target,

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'Alien megastructure' Tabby's Star: Light is definitely dimming

Peter Gathercole
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Re: If this continues ...

Surely, it must be The Mote in God's Eye.

The light sail of the Motie ship is just obscuring more of the star as it gets further out, and the rapid change was the planet-based propulsion lasers being turned off.

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

Peter Gathercole
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Re: Same old, same old from the Telegraph @Fuzzy

It needs to be funded separately, from sources not directly controlled by the Government.

This is so it can maintain some sort of independence from the Government, especially when it comes to news coverage, and not be accused of being a mouthpiece for whichever party is in power.

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Peter Gathercole
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Re: Once upon a time detector vans existed @AC

So called TV detector vans did really exist and used to be technically feasible in the days before digital TV, but they were largely a psychological instrument of FUD. As a previous commentor said, many of them were probably non-functional and just for show, with a deliberately obvious 'antenna' on the roof to make them visible.

My Mother-in-Law claimed to have seen one in the last couple of weeks, but I'm not sure whether she could really differentiate one from, say, a satellite installer, or another van with a transport tube on the roof.

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Peter Gathercole
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Re: Once upon a time detector vans existed @katrinab

Whilst I think you have the wording correct, the original intention of this type of clause was to allow caravan owners to watch TV under their home license (it would have been very difficult to buy a license for a caravan, which has no fixed address). It also used to say that you should not simultaneously use a portable device and the TV in the licensed address at the same time.

Very few portable TVs had internal batteries until the advent of Sir Clive's Micro TV and the following advent of LCD TV's i the '80s and '90s. They either relied on the battery of the towing car, or had a car-type battery in the caravan.

Nowadays, with technology moving as fast as it is, it's almost impossible to come up with some sensible definition of a device capable of receiving broadcast TV. Tying iPlayer to the license is desirable from the BBC's perspective, but makes a mockery of the fact that the license was supposed to cover the operation of receiving equipment, not access to the BBC's content.

I don't know the answer, and I don't want the BBC's independence from commercial pressure or government interference to change, but something needs to be done. Moving to a pure subscription model with encryption appears to be the best and most fair model IMHO, but would require an increase in cost, and a similar upheaval to that when DVT came in!

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Your 'intimate personal massager' – cough – is spying on you

Peter Gathercole
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Re: Security research. Yeah, that's what it was

> Go forth and multiply

You said it.

: MULTIPLY ( a b -- c ) * ;

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Temperature of Hell drops a few degrees – Microsoft emits SSH-for-Windows source code

Peter Gathercole
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@AC re. IPSEC.

Ah, but SSH works at a user level, so you can use it to do tricks through systems that you don't have admin access to (like most organizations with silo'd platform support.)

Whether this is a good or bad thing depends on whether you're a sysadmin in a heterogeneous environment that you don't completely control, or whether you're in IT security!

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Peter Gathercole
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Re: POSIX @h4mn0ny

Octal use in UNIX comes from it's DEC roots, not anything IBM did.

DEC PDP-6, PDP-7, PDP-8, and PDP-10 (aka System10) variously had 12, 18 and 36 bit word lengths, which fitted octal (3 bits per nibble) very well, especially as they used 6-bit characters.

When the PDP11 came along, which was a 16 bit system, DEC programmers had octal so ingrained in their mindset, that they stuck with octal, rather than switching to hexadecimal, which works better for 8/16 bit words. This stuck with the original UNIX developers at Bell Labs.

You will also remember that Unics(sic) started on the PDP-7.

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Fork YOU! Sure, take the code. Then what?

Peter Gathercole
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Re: Forking Debian...

Ubuntu is not a fork of Debian. It's a down-stream distro. It still relies on Debian being there, and contributes work back into Debian.

Similarly, the core Mint releases are a down-stream distro of Ubuntu.

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InfiniBand-on-die MIA in Oracle's new 'Sonoma' Sparc S7 processor

Peter Gathercole
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Re: It's SPARC @Destroy All Monsters

You missed out the space! It should be UNIX ®, at least according to the Open Group trademark usage guidelines - "The Trade Marks must always be used with white space surrounding them".

See Section 2.1.

UNIX ® is a registered trademark of The Open Group

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UK gov says new Home Sec will have powers to ban end-to-end encryption

Peter Gathercole
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Re: Domestic? @Soruk

OK, point taken. But I was assuming that you were looking for workable solutions.

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Peter Gathercole
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Re: Domestic? @cbars

"idiots don't understand..."

But if they are in a position of power (as the CSPs are w.r.t data over their own infrastructure), what they don't understand, they can block, using the precautionary principal.

And even if the data is fetched via a GET, it can still be DPI'd, and again, precautionary principal applies if they don't understand it.

The only thing you can do is have some infrastructure that is not run by a CSP (I've never heard Communication Service Provider used as a term before, but whatever...) that runs over a UK border to a friendly neighbor, like a satellite link, direct wire, microwave link, or even a focused WiFi antenna.

But that could be made illegal as well.

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Peter Gathercole
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Re: remove or disable end-to-end encryption

I seriously suspect that being in or out of the EU makes not a jot of difference to these pie-in-the sky policies.

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Peter Gathercole
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Re: Domestic? @Soruk

Ummm. Who provides the telephone line for the dial-up service?

One of the CSPs mentioned in the article. All the CSP needs to do is to put some traffic analysis on the line. If it looks encrypted, or even just unintelligible (like if you've created a new modulation technique), it drops the call, or just puts some phase modifying filters to corrupt the modulation.

The result is that there is no data flow. With no data flow, there is no encryption.

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Peter Gathercole
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Re: Wow @Danny 5

They don't have to control encryption as such.

Before I go on, this is just a thought experiment, OK. I'm not actually suggesting the following.

It would be perfectly possible for ISPs to block everything by default and whitelist allowed services, and then use DPI to see whether the allowed services were being subverted to tunnel encrypted traffic. That would mean as soon as you put traffic that was not allowed down your link, it would be quenched.

They would also have to make sure that non-IP data circuits (dark fibre etc.) services out of the country were also banned. That would just leave bi-directional satellite services and point-to-point microwave/wireless across national boundaries (like the Northern Ireland border with Eire) to worry about.

Mind you, the Internet in the UK would then bear no resemblance to what it looks like at the moment, and it would look more restrictive than China.

Unfortunately, there is something in the Home Office that seems to make seemingly ordinary cabinet ministers and MPs adopt completely stupid ideas once they become Home Secretary. And we now have an ex-Home Secretary as PM, and a new one with the same ideas.

We're doomed, I say!

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Seminal adventure game The Hobbit finally ported to the Dragon 64

Peter Gathercole
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Re: Posh Gits

If you thought that only poor people bought Trash-80s, you obviously did not look at the prices. In the UK The TRS-80 model 1 was seriously expensive (in the UK, it even needed it's own special monitor), though it was a quite well engineered machine.

But it fell into the Commodore Pet and Apple ][ generation, and should have been replaced, or at least price reduced when the likes of the VIC-20, Commodore 64 and Spectrum came along. Instead, Tandy RadioShack introduced the TRS-80 Color (sic) Computer was produced, again expensive but also incompatible with the Model 1 and III.

Interestingly, the Dragon32 was moderately compatible with the TRS-80 Color (sic) Computer, but I doubt that this Dragon64 port of the Hobbit would run on a TRS-80 CoCo (too little memory).

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Peter Gathercole
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TI99/4A

This was an interesting machine, although it never received sufficient market penetration in Europe to give it critical mass for games writers (many of whom were based in the UK) to port to.

It was quite popular in the US, despite it's high price, but the differences between the US and UK specs (mainly the different screen size) meant that the US games were not able to be used. The dollar-to-pound exchange rate used for US computers sold in the UK at the time made it unaffordable in the UK.

The other problem was that although it's processor was 16 bit, the machine was terribly slow, but that could have been the TI-Basic implementation (although I seem to remember reading about the memory implementation being a major factor in the slowness). This made it one of the slowest ever machines in the Personal Computer World Basic benchmark (which was dominated by the excellent Basic implementation of the BEEB for several years).

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Peter Gathercole
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Re: Platform War

The problem with the Oric was that the graphics format of the display (in-scan, or horizontal, line colour attributes, IIRC) was almost as eccentric as the Spectrum's per-character cell colour attributes.

This made it difficult to port games to the Oric, as you had to completely re-write the way that the graphics were coded.

You really needed a fully bit-mapped multiple bits-per-pixel for a full display, and that took memory, as BBC micro owners had to contend with. BEEBs should have been shipped with 6502 second processors. That made them really fun to use (64K of memory plus full graphics and even faster than a normal BBC). But they decided to go with the shadow memory of the B+ and B+128 instead.

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Peter Gathercole
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The Hobbit on the BEEB...

...was a bit of a joke. It did not have the graphics, and ran in Mode 7 (Teletext mode).

Mind you, I accept that this would have been difficult, given that even if you had used mode 6, which used 10K of the 32K available on a BBC model B, there would have been insufficient memory to store the game data in memory.

I has a moan to WH Smiths where I bought my original cassette copy (I don't think it was sold on disk at the time), and they pointed out the small note inside the sealed box that said something like "Because of the memory limitations of the BBC micro, some features of the game are not available". Yeah, right. All of the pictures!

They would not get away with that in this day and age, but apparently it was acceptable then.

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HMRC research finds 'resistance' to proposals to shift contractor tax compliance burden

Peter Gathercole
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Re: Allowances and caps @AC re. Ltd company

It is still possible to claim travel and accommodation expenses even if you run a Ltd company, or even work through an umbrella, so long as your business contract fall outside of IR35. The wording of the legislation that came into effect this April is convoluted, but clear.

There are, however, a number of accountancy practices (including some of those that will manage the finances of your PSC for you) who seem to want to play it very safe, and recommend stopping claiming expenses now. Whether they are being over cautious or overly risk averse is debatable.

George Osborne was quite clear that he wanted this practice stopped completely for umbrellas and PSCs, by reworking/replacing what is still known as IR35. Hopefully, once Philip Hammond gets his feet under the table, we may get a more fair policy. We'll have to wait and see.

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DevOps: The spotty faced yoof waiting to blossom

Peter Gathercole
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Automation

The automation part of the Wikipedia article is there to suggest that in order to be able to do rapid development and deployment (which is really an agile concept, not necessarily a DevOps one), it is necessary to be able to do rapid and consistent regression and functional testing and deployment with minimal effort.

Unfortunately, automated regression and acceptance testing is good at finding the problems you've seen before. It's not so good at finding new problems. That requires time and rigor in the testing processes.

So, by reducing the testing effort to enable rapid deployment of new code, you're actually exposing yourself to unexpected problems closer to the live environment. To my mind, this is the single biggest issue with agile development, and by extension DevOps. IMHO, large organizations that have a critical reliance on their IT systems will remain with their traditional testing regimes, which will make DevOps difficult to integrate into their working practices. It's a Risk thing.

It's interesting that in several organizations I've worked at over the 35+ years I've been working in IT, Operations team members have been present during all phases of projects, and on the distribution and approval lists of the change processes, so communication isn't a new thing. It just seems to have dropped out of favor a bit in recent decades as IT has become more silo'd.

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RM: School spending on tech is soft, soggy and downright subdued

Peter Gathercole
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480Z...

... was seriously overpriced even when compared to it's contemporary, the BBC micro (which was also expensive).

There were niches where the 480Z was a more appropriate machine than a BEEB, but IMHO, if you didn't need CP/M compatibility, the BEEB was more versatile and accessible machine for schools.

The 380Z was from a different time, several years before most schools had budget to buy computers (and could be built and upgraded piecemeal) and before cheaper machines were available. They were well built, however, and survived for years, especially as they were often locked away from general use, or used as file and print servers for 480Zs.

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Linux letting go: 32-bit builds on the way out

Peter Gathercole
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Bringing this in in 18.10 means that there is one more LTS release (18.04) for Ubuntu on 32 bit Intel hardware, and as the article points out, this means that there will be security updates well into the 2020s (Ubuntu LTS has four years before the repositories stop being updated, and years more before they are retired).

Even though I use older kit for all of my systems, I seriously doubt that even I will have non x86-64 Intel kit doing serious work. As it is now, my daily system, a Thinkpad, is a Core 2 duo, as is my desktop mule that I use for things too large for my laptop (and I have some Core 2 quads sitting in a drawer waiting to be deployed).

I have a quick-and-dirty Atom based netbook running 32 bit Ubuntu, and my mostly retired Linux firewall is still 32 bit, but both of these are close to the end of their life. My wife's laptop is not 64 bit capable, but it probably won't last until 32 bit support is dropped.

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Microsoft's Windows 10 nagware goes FULL SCREEN in final push

Peter Gathercole
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Re: A final throw of the Minty dice before

My wife wanted to stay with WinXP. I told her she couldn't, and built a Win7 machine for her, which she hates (she's such a techno-luddite, she wouldn't learn the XP->7 UI change). If she needed to use a PC, she reluctantly asked to borrow my Thinkpad (Ubuntu LTS), and asked me to start "Google" for her (Google is the Internet, as far as she is concerned).

When I replaced my Thinkpad (with another one, of course), she asked whether she could have my old one. As a final piece of maintenance work on that system, I put in an SSD and one of the XP skins on Gnome.

She is now happily using this Linux laptop daily for genealogy research, Whilst she knows it's not Windows XP, it works and looks pretty much as she expects. She even uses LibreOffice on occasion, and does not appear to miss MS software at all.

I check it on occasion (I now borrow it if I just need to look up something quickly), and install any updates, but she admits that even she could manage this if I didn't.

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Peter Gathercole
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Re: A final throw of the Minty dice before @Adam 52

The question we need to know is whether you have some esoteric or maybe cutting edge graphics card, or are maybe trying to use the proprietary binary graphics driver from AMD or Nvidia on an older graphics card..

For new high end cards from both Nvidia and AMD, the proprietary Linux drivers often lag the availability of the cards by some months, and the open drivers may not support the newer hardware until some bright spark works out how the API has changed.

There are also some obscure cards that there may not be drivers for in the Linux repositories, but this is rare.

What is more annoying is that the proprietary drivers are dropping support for older cards. I was caught out when I upgraded an LTS release on a system with an Nvidia fx7800 onboard that had the proprietary Nividia drivers loaded. After upgrading, I suddenly was down to un-accelerated 800x600 256 colour (i.e. basic VESA) rather than the 32 bit colour 1280x1024 that I was expecting. This sounds similar to your situation. I've had similar problems with older AMD/ATI cards as well.

The new release of the proprietary Nvidia binary had silently dropped support for the older chipset, leading to the lowest-common denominator driver being used. Unfortunately, the main way of removing the binary driver, which is required to get the open source drivers configured correctly, is normally written using dpkg from the command line. It is also possible from Synaptic (which is no longer installed by default), but is rather more difficult from the Ubuntu Software Centre (which seems to decide that removing software is something that users should be dissuaded from doing).

Unless you actually desperately need them, I would nowadays always suggest that you use the open drivers, and if you do use the proprietary drivers, switch back to the open drivers before doing a dist-upgrade.

Of course, this is not Linux's fault (if Linux can actually have fault attributed to it). It actually shows up a fundamental support issue with the companies that produce PC hardware without a full commitment to Linux. This should even extend to the obsolete chipsets IMHO, because Linux is very often deployed on old kit. Companies should either fork their proprietary drivers and leave the old ones in the repositories so you can keep using the old drivers without having to hold them back (and don't get me started on this, it has huge problems), or open-source the drivers, or even just the full API for the cards they deem obsolete to allow the community to support the cards without having to reverse-engineer the chipsets.

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Those Xbox Fitness vids you 'bought'? Look up the meaning of the word 'rent'

Peter Gathercole
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Re: Refund? @Doctor Syntax

I was not saying that there is not consumer legislation or small claims courts outside California, but that article itself says that that case would be unlikely to succeed outside of California.

I don't understand your analogy of Jane Fonda. Whether you had watched it or not is irrelevant. I appreciate that in the case of a tape, you retain physical control of the tape, whereas the MS product you never own a physical copy, but the point I was trying to make is that technologies become obsolete. The difference I will admit here is that MS are able to declare the technology obsolete, but suppliers are not legally bound to provide alternatives.

Maybe the providing servers run on Windows Server 2003 with one of the withdrawn windows application deployment frameworks, and porting it to a more recent version is not feasible/cost effective, rendering it obsolete.

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Peter Gathercole
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Re: Refund? @Doctor Syntax

Crossed purposes. That case relies on the particularly consumer friendly court system in California. It's pretty much not applicable anywhere else in the world.

And I'm not sure that the small claims courts elsewhere would be prepared to rule on this issue, as the perceived loss verses the use the customer has already had from the product is debatable (how many people are prepared to try to claim back the cost of their VHS fitness tapes, because you can no longer buy a tape player). They may well require it ti be handled by a higher court.

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Peter Gathercole
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Re: Refund? @Deltics

It will be covered in the small print of the EULA, or at least if it's not, it will be soon (according to the same EULA, it will be your responsibility to check online for changes in the conditions).

Of course, that cannot trump local consumer legislation, however MS or any other company choose to fence their responsibility, but how many people are prepared to take on a company like MS in the courts!

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Lightning strikes: Britain's first F-35B supersonic fighter lands

Peter Gathercole
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Re: "supersonic fighter" @Steve Davies 3

Supersonic in a dive is known as transonic.

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Vodafone hints at relocation from UK

Peter Gathercole
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Re: Bye Bye Then

The Vodafone Group PLC holding company probably does not employ many people, so income tax and NI is not a huge issue. Corporation tax is another matter, but I'm sure a company like the Vodafone Group employs advanced financial engineering to minimize it's corporation tax.

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Peter Gathercole
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Re: London based?

I actually think you'll find that the Vodafone Group PLC, the holding company which owns Vodafone UK along with all the other national Vodafone operations, is in Paddington.

You are right that Vodafone UK, the UK operating company, has it's registered office in Newbury.

It's sometimes awkward to work things out when companies set themselves up for international operations. There have to be separate tax entities set up in each tax jurisdiction (at least at the moment, until further EU integration to form a superstate creates a single tax region for the whole of the EU).

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What Brexit means for you as a motorist

Peter Gathercole
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Re: Speculation

Rare would be welcome.

On my way to work yesterday, I was on the A34 southbound overtaking the commercial vehicles, in a stream of three BMWs immediately in front of me, and at least two behind!

BTW, I'm in something that could, just, be described as a British car, although it is a little elderly.

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You can be my wingman any time! RaspBerry Pi AI waxes Air Force top gun's tail in dogfights

Peter Gathercole
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Re: T500

No, I'm thinking of the X-9 Ghost in Macross Plus, or the F/A-37 Talon in Stealth.

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A month to save digital currency Ethereum?

Peter Gathercole
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Currency scarcity

Arthur - "What's that smoke"

Ford - "It's just the Golgafrinchams burning the trees"

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Lester Haines: RIP

Peter Gathercole
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Pint

I've nothing to say,

Too upset (reaches for Lohan mug for consolation, while wishing I'd got the glass for a more appropriate beverage).

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RIP ROP: Intel's cunning plot to kill stack-hopping exploits at CPU level

Peter Gathercole
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Re: It'd be nice to have a system...

What do you run the VM's on? Intel Mainframes of course.

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