* Posts by Phil O'Sophical

2069 posts • joined 28 Oct 2011

Belgian telco prepares to tear out last of nation's phone boxes

Phil O'Sophical
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Alien

Re: "travelling in time and space"

I wonder what proportion of El Reg readers read the article and thought "Bill & Ted" compared to "Dr. Who" ?

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NASA plots interplanetary cubesat swarms

Phil O'Sophical
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Pint

Excellent

I trust the LOHAN team are looking into this as the next special projects mission?

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Driverless cars deal DEATH to Detroit, says Barclays

Phil O'Sophical
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Re: Misses the piint

Legally at the moment you have to be behind the wheel, sober and qualified and paying attention.

Exactly.This could be offered as a sort of "autopilot" driver aid, which I can see being attractive for people who spend a lot of time stuck in motorway queues, but if it still requires a sober and qualified driver to be present it isn't going to replace ordinary cars.

Alternatively, as the article,suggests, it will become a kind of robot taxi, essentially a "robo-uber". That is likely to meet with pushback in two areas, just like the meatbag-uber:

1) Taxi drivers will hate it, loss of jobs etc.

2) Lawyers will love it. What happens when one of these vehicles is in an accident? The passengers (especialy in the USA) will look for someone to sue, and without a formal driver that will fall on (a) the owner, and/or (b) the manufacturer.

If the owner has to have insurance to cover the likely $$m claim because someone spilt their coffee and so missed a critical business meeting it will be offputting to say the least. If that owner risks jail on similar grounds to someone who keeps a "dangerous animal" which bites someone then there will be even fewer takers. It will require a whole new set of laws. If the blame falls on the manufacturer then you only have to look at the PR effects of cases like the exploding Pintos and accelerating Toyotas to see how that will discourage Detroit, or anywhere else, from getting involved.

As yet another driver aid gimmick, I can see it appearing. As to robo-taxis, though, I'm not holding my breath,

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Airbus warns of software bug in A400M transport planes

Phil O'Sophical
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Fail Safe?

three engines shut down after receiving “contradictory instructions” from the flight control system.

There's obviously a need to respond safely when contradictory instructions are seen, but wouldn't "just stay as you are" be better than "all stop" ?

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LOHAN's final test flight set to honour PRATCHETT

Phil O'Sophical
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Re: 4 years

Civil aviation beaurocracies are just slowmoving entities.

Whatever you do, don't suggest that the playmonaut hooks his laptop up to the inflight entertainment system. Things will move unpleasantly fast then...

Anyway, I finally got my tankard today, so I shall raise a glass to PRATCHETT

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Apple threw its TV out the window after years of research: report

Phil O'Sophical
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gave up last year after deciding it couldn't devise something that would crack the competitive market.

That's because TVs with rounded corners are so 1980s

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EU wants a panel o'boffins to replace solo science advisor

Phil O'Sophical
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Optional

Science by politically-appointed committee. What could possibly go wrong?

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UK safety app keeping lorries on the right side of cyclists

Phil O'Sophical
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A good thing in principle, but

For a cyclist to be killed by a left-turning lorry implies that the cyclist is in the driver's blind spot, and basic defensive driving/cycling would suggest that an aware rider wouldn't get there at a dangerous moment. To put it another way, if I were riding a bike and approaching a junction, I'd make damn sure not to try and pass the lorry on the left just at the corner.

Like most road "accidents" there's rarely only one party to blame, most of them involve some stupidity or lack of attention on the part of both vehicles involved.

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SHOCK! Robot cars do CRASH. Because other cars have human drivers

Phil O'Sophical
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Re: Luddites

Perhaps someone here could tell me if this is still the case, or if it was abandoned because theory didn't match reality.

No idea about Toronto, but it's standard practice on the M25 around London. Speed limits are varied according to the traffic levels, and it works.

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Swedish Supreme Court keeps AssangeTM in Little Ecuador

Phil O'Sophical
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Hasn't he finished digging a tunnel from the Ecuadorian Embassy to the Thames

He tried. It leaked.

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Chill, luvvies. The ‘unsustainable’ BBC Telly Tax stays – for now

Phil O'Sophical
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Re: Stop Sky Subsidy!

I do find it unbelievable that the BBC has to pay £10 million a year to Sky just so they can broadcast their output on satellite TV

I'm glad you find it unbelieveable, because it isn't true.

The BBC's satellite broadcasting is completely independent of Sky, and is paid for by the BBC. You can watch it without any need to involve Sky. The only thing that the BBC pays Sky for (as has been pointed out) is for Sky to include the BBC programme listings in its programme guide. That's makes sense, when Sky viewers page through the guide to see what's on, it's in the BBC's interest that BBC channels show up as well. Essentially the BBC is paying to advertise on Sky, since there is little incentive for Sky to encourage people to watch BBC1 or BBC Four instead of, say, Sky 1 or Sky Arts.

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Phil O'Sophical
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Re: see my argument for music....

of course some IDIOT (there are probably nastier words for the manager....) deleted old BBC programmes to save space

Not idiocy but economics. Most of the deletions were because video tape cost a fortune at the time, and after the standard union-agreed 3 (or 4? I forget) re-runs they had to renogotiate repeat fees with each cast member at considerable time and expense before a programme could be shown again. It made perfect economic sense just to wipe and re-use the tapes once the programme had been shown a few times, they had no idea that VHS and DVD would create a future market selling "classic TV" for home viewing.

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Phil O'Sophical
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Re: We know you, you know!

The British public hated the Poll Tax,

That's a completely unjustified generalization. I know many people (me included) who were very happy with it, it would have cost me much less.

The problem with any tax change is that there are winners and losers, and those who had to pay more of course hated it. Needless to say, they were the vocal ones, you obviously didn't see people out demonstrating because their tax bills went down...

not bundle it into general taxation and pass a bill making proper funding obligatory

Who defines "proper" ? It has to be Parliament as a whole, not Government, and since general taxation is defined by the budget that tends to be a Government matter. If BBC funding became just a line item in the budget it would be very open to abuse by the party in power.

we need International Rescue, but weren't they on he other side

Ah, but who was pulling their strings (literally)?

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Phil O'Sophical
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Re: Stop Sky Subsidy!

What do you mean "getting them" ?

You do know that when you watch BBC on a Sky box you're watching exactly the same signal, from exactly the same satellite, as you are when you watch BBC on a Freesat box, or a plain ordinary FTA box? The only thing Sky "gets" is the programme info that goes into the EPG, just as the Radio Times etc. do.

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Lies, damn lies and election polls: Why GE2015 pundits fluffed the numbers so badly

Phil O'Sophical
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Re: As with any survery

why not ban polling during the campaign?

Some countries do, France won't allow publication of polls in the last two weeks of an election. The Internet makes a nonsense of it though, people just go to non-French websites & read the polls and speculation there.

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Amstrad founder Lord Sugar quits 'anti-enterprise' Labour party

Phil O'Sophical
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Re: actually voting for their local [..] MP

Until Tony the wannabe-president became PM, the party affiliation wasn't even allowed on the ballot paper. Voting for a person was all you could do, you were expected to know what their politics were instead of just blindly toeing the party line.

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OECD nations gang up on internet retailers, tax dodgers

Phil O'Sophical
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Re: This will not work

what'll happen is that an Australian phone redirection service forwards a call to an office in Singapore, and the customer deals with somebody there.

Have we found the real reason that Google is investing in Space-X? Lunar call centers, no tax to pay at all.

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So what would the economic effect of leaving the EU be?

Phil O'Sophical
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Re: Avoiding war

But the most important political aspect of the EU is avoiding war.

That's nonsense. We've avoided war for the past 70 years due to economic prosperity and better communications, as much in spite of the EU than because of it. The last two European wars were driven by individual fanaticism, and there's no sign that an EU would have stopped them if it had existed then.

Indeed, a far more worrying aspect of EU policy is its encouragement and subsidy of regional identities, Basques, Catalans, Scots, Walloons, etc. There's a certain "divide and conquer" logic to that when seen from the Brussels viewpoint, a fragmented large country is much less likely to be able to challenge EU political hegemony than a united one, but in my view it will lead us to a period of permanent instability. Maybe not WW III, but a state of continuous nationalistic guerilla war between regions that aren't big enough to do anything but cause trouble for their neighbours. Little bursts of 15-20 year "troubles" that "only" kill a few tens of thousands each time.

Awarding the EU the Nobel peace prize was a joke that demeaned the whole Nobel system.

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SOD TABLETS, if you want to get anything done travelling get a ... yes, a LAPTOP

Phil O'Sophical
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Re: This video is not available in your country

I'm surprised the Scots still allow us to watch this in England.

It has a built-in virus, you'll not be able to get it out of your head afterwards.

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EC probe into murky cross border e-commerce kicks off

Phil O'Sophical
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Facepalm

why Europeans aren’t buying across national borders much.

Have they looked at shipping costs? They're usually enough to wipe out the small price differences, especially once you think about what will happen if you need to return something because it's unsuitable, or for a warranty repair.

Still, they need jobs for the boys, I suppose. While one bunch are encouraging us to shop locally, reduce food miles, etc. another lot are spending our tax money trying to work out why we don't do more cross-border shopping. D'oh.

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Round Two in Sky vs Skype trademark scrap goes to Murdoch's men

Phil O'Sophical
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Re: I can't believe (well I can), but all the same...

The lawyers.

Come the revolution, even the Great Wall of China may not be big enough

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French BIONIC EYE sits IN your peeper, feeds infrared light into nerves

Phil O'Sophical
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To view pornography^W useful augmented reality displays, directly in our own visual fields?

"Close your eyes darling" <click> "Now you can look, see: 38DD"

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From Manchester to Microsoft – missing mum :-(

Phil O'Sophical
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Re: Yeehah! We're expecting some tumbleweed next week.

The car park was /sarc.

Yes, it seems to be a part of those wonderful roads that are sooo much better than in Manchester. Sounds just like the M6 to me...

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Major London rail station reveals system passwords during TV documentary

Phil O'Sophical
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Re: Move along now, nothing to see here...

Sadly, knowing the username and password won't do you any good unless you happen to work for SWT and have access to their Intranet.

Or manage to insert a virus onto a USB stick or BYOD gadget used by someone who works there. CF stuxnet.

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Instagram's HTTPS cert expires, millions of crap photographers panic

Phil O'Sophical
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how the hell do you let a cert expire that has millions of people hitting it?

My guess is that the certificate was registered to fred.bloggs@instagram.com and no-one though to change that to fred.bloggs@facebook.com, so the reminder email never arrived. Maybe Fred Bloggs didn't even stay after the acquistion?

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High-speed powerline: Home connectivity without the cables

Phil O'Sophical
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FAIL

Re: Noise!

Talk about Kanute and the tide.

Cnut's demonstration was intended to show his sycophantic followers that he was not all-powerful, and could not command the tide. No-one would have been more surprised than him if the waves had rolled back.

Also, comparing CB to amateur radio is a little bit like comparing a McDonald's burger flipper to a Michelin-starred chef. Both fun in the right circumstances, but the latter has a lot more training and qualifications, and can do a lot more with his kit.

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Barclays, Halifax and Tesco still being gnawed by POODLE

Phil O'Sophical
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Who's doing the IT for these banks?

I wonder if there's any correlation between response time to this and in-house/outsourced IT?

If you have an in-house IT department you can tell them to drop the current work, routine upgrades etc., and get patching. If the fault is in a 3rd-party switch or router and the manufacturer isn't responsive you can swap it out. Some network admin will have to spend a day with the user manual figuring out how to configure it, but overall cost and inconvenience are likely to be low-ish in bank terms.

If it's all outsourced, you can file a P1 trouble ticket but, assuming you're not the only people impacted, what happens after that is going to depend on where you are in the "big client" pecking order. Also, if the outsourcer has based their business model on using kit from one supplier, and that's what all their support techs are trained in, they'll have little interest in swapping it for a different brand and so making your company the special case that only one re-trained support tech can deal with. They'll just keep stalling until their suppliers come up with a fix. There's almost certainly nothing in your SLA that guarantees a fix to all security issues within, say, 48 hours.

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SpaceX in MONEY RING shot, no spare juice for tail backdown this time

Phil O'Sophical
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Re: Elon's Tweet...

Yet, it is normal. I am not excited and nervous when I press that power button. I am not even fully awake, to be honest.

I do wonder what today's generation will look back on as that sort of moment, if any?

I think back to my Grandmother telling me about everyone going out in the street to watch the first aeroplane they'd ever seen. I remember seeing Neil Armstrong's "one small step", live, I remember the first time I saw colour TV. Today's kids take it all, and more, for granted. What will today's 10-year-olds look back on in 40 years time as "wow, that was amazing"?

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Surgery-bot can be hacked to HACK YOU TO PIECES

Phil O'Sophical
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Really, do people not understand that the internet is not an interference-free, guaranteed availability network?

No, they don't. To "Joe Public", and the politicians in charge, the Internet is a utility just like mains water, power and gas. They assume it's rigidly held to exacting standards, highly available, centrally-controlled, and has a safe off switch. Tell them what it's really like and the result is total disbelief, along the lines of "don't be silly, no-one would ever have made it like that".

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MONSTROUS iPhone sales are CANNIBALIZING iPads, gabbles Apple CEO

Phil O'Sophical
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Re: Cool

it seems that he hasn't realised that most that an iFan will need is one Mac, one iPhone, and one iPad.

The next iThing shoud be earrings, not a watch. You usually buy two of them.

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Euroboffins want EU to achieve techno-independence

Phil O'Sophical
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It notes that strengthening Europe's data protection rules – particularly with respect to what can be sent offshore – would encourage more cloud operations to set up servers within the EU.

Really? Sounds more likely to encourage companies to leave. What about the multinationals that have info in several jurisdictions, and find they can't move data between them? They'll head for the places with the lightest regulation, as always, and the jobs will follow them.

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Not so fast on FM switch-off: DAB not so hot say small broadcasters

Phil O'Sophical
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Power consumption.

If I'm using my phone to play music it's usually plugged into a dock or power supply anyway, so that's not necessarily a problem.

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Phil O'Sophical
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Leaving aside the DAB/FM religious arguments for a moment, this:

unlikely that DAB will be implemented on mobile phones (which usually have an FM receiver).

is an interesting point. Why don't mobile phones do DAB/DAB+? On the face of it it wouldn't seem to be a difficult feature to add to a largely-SDR architecture.

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Looking for laxatives, miss? Shoppers stalked via smartphone Wi-Fi

Phil O'Sophical
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Re: Am I the only person in the world

Just seems daft to have GPS, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi enabled if you are out shopping, simply for battery life

I was quite surprised how much difference turning off bluetooth made to battery life, when I was travelling and had a hire car with no hands-free. As for WiFi I'd say it's off 95% of the time, for the same reason.

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SUPERVOLCANIC MAGMA reservoir BUBBLING under Yellowstone Park

Phil O'Sophical
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Re: Time to develop a good exit strategy

I've long since stopped believing (hoping?) that any virgins are waiting for me. Anywhere.

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Phil O'Sophical
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Mushroom

Re: Geothermal energy?

Isn't there a risk that could be a little like sticking a pin into a balloon?

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FBI alert: Get these motherf'king hackers off this motherf'king plane

Phil O'Sophical
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Re: oh hell....

painfully slow load up messages

Including hundreds of missing modules, undefined symbols, etc. It works after the reboot, which shows that the missing crud isn't needed anyway. I'd really hate to think that any system which was that crappily assembled and tested shared more than a power cable with the actual avionics.

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Google versus the EU: Sigh. You can't exploit a contestable monopoly

Phil O'Sophical
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Re: So what next?

The business of Google Search* is to deliver search results, not price comparisons. That is the business of Google Shopping,

Maybe you feel that they should be different, separate, services, but that is irrelevant. Both are Google products, and Google is entitled to use one to promote the other.

If you went to the dairy aisle in Tesco and found a BOGOF advert for strawberries would you start foaming at the mouth because the dairy department dared to advertise a price for a product that rightfully belongs in greengrocery? Or would you accept that people buying cream might indeed like some strawberries to go with it, and find the BOGOFadvert useful? Obviously some dairy users will hate strawberries, and Asda strawberries might be cheaper anyway, but is that a reason to criticize Tesco for advertising theirs?

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Radio 4 and Dr K on programming languages: Full of Java Kool-Aid

Phil O'Sophical
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Re: This is exactly the problem

who'd like to see a revival (or even just a repeat) of Channel 4's Salvage Squad

It's being repeated on Quest, S1 Ep6 was on today.

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Phil O'Sophical
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Re: “Goto statement considred harmful”

Why pick on the 'Goto' when it is the 'If' statement which causes the damage,

Use Fortran's arithmetic GOTO, no IF required :)

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National Grid's new designer pylon is 'too white and boring' – Pylon Appreciation Society

Phil O'Sophical
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Re: > Burying

Still waiting for the superconducting cables.

Just chill...

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Credit card factories given new secure manufacturing rules

Phil O'Sophical
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say again?

fire doors open one-way only

I'm still trying to figure out what this means. I know that normal fire exit doors only open outwards, for safety, but that doesn't seem relevant here.

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Lenovo: MSPs and CSPs, PLEASE come buy our servers

Phil O'Sophical
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Price-conscious Express bundles are also included in the scheme, along with “special rate incentives on Enterprise Solutions Services” to speed deployment, Lenovo told us.

And some free root certificates thrown in for good measure?

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Wi-Fi hotspots can put iPhones into ETERNAL super slow-mo

Phil O'Sophical
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Re: I don't really have much sympathy for people who fall for such tricks

At one time the CPU power of certain IBM computers could be increased basically by setting jumpers - whereupon everything cost more.

Funny, I just knew that would be the first response! Those systems, of course, were the ones rented by IBM (they didn't sell systems in those days) and you paid a license for the power you used. Just like today where applications are licensed according to things like the number of CPU cores. Even then it would have been obvious that by changing the jumper you were getting something you hadn't paid for.

Back in the 80s there were stories about some minicomputers (DEC? I can't remember) which had a similar trick. Due to a shortage of small memory boards, some low-end systems were shipped with larger boards which had a chip-select line cut, it was cheaper than losing the sale. If you knew which line, you could reconnect it. Hardly standard practiuce, though.

Remapping ECUs is another case where it isn't "free". The cars sold with increased power often have other systems (tyres, brakes) updated to match. Simply tweaking a map without understanding the consequences can cause many problems, not least when the insurance company won't pay out after an accident. That's why most ECU maps these days are encrypted.

why would they be suspicious of other "performance enhancing" tricks?

Because they're free. You don't get free stuff from big companies, but too many people are still too greedy to see that. If it looks too good to be true (in IT or any other domain) it almost certainly is too good to be true. Just like that nice man offering you candy to get in his car. It might be safe, but why take the risk when it almost certainly never is?

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Phil O'Sophical
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Re: I don't really have much sympathy for people who fall for such tricks

Only a small minority of people have an understanding of IT security,

It has nothing to do with IT security. If someone tells you that you can get "X" just by doing "Y", and the value of "X" is much, much greater than the cost of "Y", it's a scam. That has been the case since long before the days of the snake oil sellers in the Old West.

Apple has created a brand around the idea that in exchange for extra money, non-IT people get security and IT support along with really cool gadgets.

I think that Apple, like other luxury goods suppliers, has actually created a brand where many people assume that the price has been inflated well above the actual cost by the presence of the name. As such they are more willing to believe that they're being ripped off, and more willing to assume that some simple trick will release the extra value that Apple is hiding from them.

Tell someone that there's a special command in their $500 iPhone that will release more storage, they want to believe it. They'll happily believe that Apple has hidden the storage to make more money.

Tell them the same thing thing about the $25 chinese knock-off from the local discount store and they'll laugh at you, since it's clearly way too cheap to have anything big hidden in it.

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Phil O'Sophical
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thinking that the rm rf commands will unlock extra storage

Well, that's not entirely false. You'll certainly have lots more free space afterwards...

I don't really have much sympathy for people who fall for such tricks, anything which offers you something for nothing is bound to be a scam. No free lunch.

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Bad news everyone: Cybercrime is getting even easier

Phil O'Sophical
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tapes going back long enough to cover my arse

I could have done without that mental image at lunchtime, thank you very much...

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Instead of public sector non-jobbery, Martha, how about creating REAL entrepreneurs?

Phil O'Sophical
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But only in an educated and ethical fashion, of course.

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It's all got complicated: The costs of data recovery

Phil O'Sophical
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Re: Puzzled

Backups are indeed complicated, and the first thing to do is work out what your needs are. Do you even need to be 'disaster proof" ? Start with the analysis, which data are critical, how much can you afford to lose before the business is impacted, how long can you afford to be without them, etc. The results of that will tell you if you need dedicated live synchronous replication across multiple sites, cross-your-fingers cloud, or just a DVD in the safe at home once a month. Part of that analysis, of course, will involve looking at the Data Protection requrements for the info you need to save, where you can legally put it, and how concerned your customers might be if they don't know exactly where it's being kept.

Starting with the solution ("put it in the cloud") and trying to make the problem fit that solution is a recipe for disaster, not one for disaster recovery.

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To defend offshore finance bods looting developing countries of their tax cash

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Far better that the resources are controlled and exploited by a nationalised monopoly. I realise that then offers scope for diversion of funds into the greasy hands of politicians and their cronies but at least the money has a chance of staying in the country,

Except that all the evidence in the former Eastern Europe, Balkan states, etc. is the exact reverse. The money goes straight into the greasy hands of the politicians, and thence into Swiss bank accounts. What incentive is there for the politicials to keep the money in the country? There's nothing there they want to spend it on. Letting a nationalized monoploy run things not only provides no incentive to reward the workers, it also removes all chance of unbiased oversight.Not to mention that the political cronies who run the monopoly are unlikely to have been selected on the basis of their competence in the industry concerned, as 1970s Britain showed.

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