* Posts by Starace

69 posts • joined 16 Jun 2007

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Lyft, Uber throw Texas-sized tantrum over Austin driver law

Starace

.'This cut and paste reply that has nothing to do with the article was brought to you by Uber'

14
2

Ford tops up Pivotal's $253m cash slurp, parks CIO on its board

Starace
Flame

I love this sort of thing

It never goes well though...

- Company invests in/buys out technology supplier. Large bonuses for key management!

- Internal policy starts to mandate the supplier is used for all future work in this area.

- Engineering staff point out technology isn't what they currently use/doesn't work/was already rejected/is inferior to competition/costs more than the competition/has worse license terms etc. etc.

- Arms are twisted.

- Situation turns out to be as bad as or worse than suggested, projects go elsewhere to try to find something workable.

- Investment is quietly written down.

- Key supplier management retire to enjoy the money they made.

I'm not saying this is will happen here but the pattern and experience is familiar. The trick is to be the one taking the cash, not the one trying to salvage something from the fallout.

0
0

FOUR Avatar sequels

Starace

Will probably never happen

He's been messing around for years now talking about these sequels that no one really wants.

I'll believe they're actually happening when there's a little more sign of actual production, not just messing about and random statements every year or two.

0
0

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

Starace

Old data?

So this is what the situation was in 2011/12.

So the meetings that happened in 2013/14 to fix it won't be included?

That said telling the civil service what they need to do and them listening are very different things but don't jump to the conclusion they haven't been told how to sort it. I understand the Treasury bods are particularly resistant to input.

2
0

Bundling ZFS and Linux is impossible says Richard Stallman

Starace

Stallman is a loon

All religions have their wild eyed prophet in the early days. But there comes a time when pragmatism takes the lead and the evangelists need to be retired to their hermit hole so new thinkers can bring the valuable core ideals to the world without the baggage.

License wars are the kind of stupidity we can do without, the key is whether the tech is free, open and works. Beyond that it's all arcane theology.

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The future of Firefox is … Chrome

Starace

Firefox used to be the future

Then everyone at Mozilla disappeared up their own arses. Over the years all they've done is climbed further inside.

Users and what they might want are obviously just an inconvenience.

13
0

Soho baroness at Twitter

Starace

Hmm

So yet again she proves a complete lack of any discernible skill or talent is no barrier to progress if you know the right people.

She should fit right in at Twitter.

3
0

Neighbour sick of you parking in his driveway? You'd better hack-proof your car

Starace

My thoughts exactly.

A scheduler, application partitioning and signed code on a secured SOC with a fixed and validated ICD with key handshaking doesnt leave much room for what they're selling.

On the other hand there have been a few muppets recently using a full operating system on an embedded computer to build entertainment systems plus at least one well known manufacturer who seem to think Linux and bog standard ethernet is a good platform for their electric car.

But mostly it sounds like marketing bullshit that no OEM would touch, or if they did it would be via their existing RTOS supplier adding what was actually needed.

5
0

Successful DevOps? You'll need some new numbers for that

Starace

Kill it with fire

Please.

I hope the payment to El Reg for running these articles is sizeable enough to compensate for the loss of credibility.

6
1

AdBlock replaced blocked ads with ads for Amnesty International

Starace

Uninstalled it ages ago

All this would be interesting if I hadn't binned ABP in favour of uBlock Origins when the former basically stopped working reliably with custom filters. It went from hiding elements one day to ignoring the filters the next for no particular reason.

uBlock on the other hand worked flawlessly. And better.

All the other shenanigans just makes a previous necessity look like a brilliant prescient choice.

ABP is now a dead product as far as I'm concerned.

2
0

What took you so long, Twitter? Micro blogging site takes on the trolls

Starace

Great idea

But oh, wait, have you seen who they appointed?

Feminism is one thing, SJWs another, but the crowd they've brought in are genuine nasty pieces of work.

Suprised this article didn't include a little more detail on who is involved and their qualifications for the role. Any comment from the author?

(Beyond the snark we've had so far...)

6
7

Trane thermostat is a hot spot for viruses on home networks

Starace
Flame

The real problem

The problem with this piece of junk and so many of the others boils down to the same basic issue - the barrier to entry is too low.

It used to be that getting hardware out the door was a slightly difficult process and you probably needed at least one person with a vague clue to be able to get anywhere.

Now you buy a cheap SOC and a reference design, push a Linux build through Yocto or whatever, chuck it at a Chinese contract manufacturer and *bang* you have your system. Minimal effort and minimal thought required. So if for example you want to chuck together an internet connected thermostat any half-educated student can manage to get something vaguely presentable without having to think about any of the details of the design, or an appropriate solution, or things like basic security.

And even worse than this some people are actually in a position where they believe the companies behind this crap have some sort of inherent value rather than just pushing out half finished versions of an easily duplicated idea for no profit.

There's probably a gap in the market for actual qualified engineers to get in and do things properly, but I doubt the market is there to drive the volume to make the financials work for a real business. So I guess people will have to continue to put up with junk knocked together by muppets in a small rented office in a suitably fashionable area.

4
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Who wants a quad-core 4.2GHz, 64GB, 5TB SSD RAID 10 … laptop?

Starace

Seems cheap

My Tadpole SPARC laptop was over £25K and that was 20 years ago.

Now that was a true mobile workstation.

5
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Mystery hacker hijacks Dridex Trojan botnet... to serve antivirus installer

Starace
Black Helicopters

Next iteration

For their next trick, they patch the link to install Windows 10.

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1

dotCloud dotGone: Ex-Docker PaaS passes away amid bankruptcy

Starace

Cloud doing what clouds do

It really shouldn't come as a surprise that clouds abruptly evaporate into thin air.

Or that people get rained on in the process.

6
0

Pause Patch Tuesday downloads, buggy code can kill Outlook

Starace
Flame

Move fast and break things

"Move fast and break things. Unless you are breaking stuff, you are not moving fast enough."

Seems that MIcrosoft have taken the same ideas to heart as a large part of the tech industry. Actual professionalism and things like QA have gone out the window. Now it's just 'you'll like what we give you, and who cares if it breaks, we'll be replacing it again soon enough'. Utter garbage is the result.

Not that the open source world is any better, far too many things are driven by ego or 'that'd be cool' instead of stability, usability and reliability.

Maybe when it eventually goes properly wrong there'll be a staff clear out from the top down and things might at least go back to how they used to be, imperfect as that was.

8
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TalkTalk: Hackers may have nicked personal, banking info on 4 million Brits

Starace

As far as I can tell everyone got pushed into the same billing system including 'legacy' business customers, so that website is really just an advertising portal.

0
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Oculus Rift noggin-bucket ... heyyy, errr ... have we all got them on already?

Starace

So have they fixed the problems yet?

I've had a prod at every version they've released so far and have yet to see any evidence that Oculus have really managed to overcome the problems everyone comes up against. I really want them to crack it but so far it hasn't happened.

The displays have always had inadequate resolution and the latency has always been too high to prevent motion blurring. Maybe they can fix it, I suspect it would need bigger panels further away to get something adequate which ruins their packaging.

But the killer is (and likely always will be) the delays from the sensor though to pushing image out of the frame buffer. Up/down/left/right motion isn't too bad because you don't notice it, but try rolling your head from side to side and you'll see exactly what's going on.

With tight integration of the hardware you could get the thing to work but a headset hanging off USB and driving a standard video card isn't going to manage it. You can work out what the latency is going to be and and the numbers aren't good enough.

From the way people talk you'd think Oculus had some really magic technology and had sorted out the issues everyone had come up against for years. The reality is more that they got to the same point as everyone else did with this particular idea and the last 10% has stumped them which is why nothing much has happened for so long.

It'd be brilliant to have access to cheap commodity headsets that worked but Oculus so far just doesn't feel like anything more that a bro driven hype machine with good PR and adequate hardware.

2
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Tesla S P85+: Smiling all the way to the next charging point

Starace

Re: Hmmmm.

The only real difference to other cars is the lack of the engine, gearbox and a few sundries like fuel pump(s).

These don't tend to be the life-limiting components on most cars. And most cars are scrapped due to minor faults that aren't economic to repair, or due to accident damage.

Suspension, wheel bearings, steering, chassis and electronics modules will fail at much the same rate as on other cars and will likely be the bit that pushes to an economic EOL.

So I don't see Tesla being special on this front, maybe even worse if they don't sort out the third party support they currently dodge as this will keep through-life maintenance costs high.

4
2
Starace

A few downsides

Having read the glowing reviews I had a serious look at an 'S', the problem isn't with the electric drive or the performance but with some of the other practical issues that affect car ownership:

- No service information available, except to Tesla. So you're stuck with them and whatever product support they choose to provide, which will be zero if they decide to void the warranty for some reason or you've otherwise upset them.

- No spares availability, except through Tesla. As in zero. And Tesla will only sell you spares if they choose to. See above.

- Limited crash repairability; the accident performance seems good but looking at cars which suffered relatively minor damage eg. slow offset frontal there was damage that couldn't be fixed - torn firewalls, bent A-pillar mounts - rather than being restricted to a crash repair section involving a few welds, rivets and some adhesive as seen on other aluminium chassis. Basically a lack of design for repairablility. And any repair can only ever be by Tesla. Not so good when spending £XXXXXX on a car, especially in light of lack of spares and info to 3rd parties; prang it and it could very easily be a writeoff. And the underlying salvage value will be non-existant except for parts (as one or two have found out the hard way).

- Tesla seem to have a similar attitude to Apple when it comes to people tinkering with their toys, they *really* don't like it. Prod around your car and if they see pictures they'll likely be in contact, have an active prod at things like the intruments to see how the flat panel could be extended and the monitoring system will phone home, they'll be in contact and threaten you with the purchase contract terms and voiding the warranty (which would leave the car unsaleable). And quite a large part of the community around the car is like the Apple one too, blindly protective of the company against other customers or enhusiasts - don't expect sympathy.

- As part of the above they actively work to stop anyone prodding at the car; case in point, people were looking at information via the (non-standard) diagnostics port. Cue over-the-air update to encrypt all the bus traffic and also to actively disable the port until it is temporarily reenabled by an over-the-air activation from Tesla when hooked to the official diagnostic system. This struck me as a bit unfriendly and revealing of certain attitudes.

- An 'interesting' (but very California/startup) attitude to how to implement certain systems. Like using a standard Linux, some X11 and standard ethernet for vehicle systems. Yes, it'll mostly work but there are reasons for certified OS's and vehicle bus standards. Gave me the same feeling as reading about a Linux version for drone avionics; yes you can do it but you learn why it's not the right place to start from.

The battery is really nice though, the fusible safety links are clever and they came up with a workable solution to density with all those 18550s. The charge control isn't quite as clever as is sometimes implied and it's a horribly expensive lump of a battery, but the engineering the subcontractors did is very tidy looking. The design for swapping the battery pack is good too with the clean-break cooling and the blade power connectors, the auto swapping might actually be practical subject to logistics.

I'm not so convinced the big LCD is so good, I prefer a slightly smaller display and a few more buttons as it's easier to work with when actually driving. But that's just me.

Styling wise it looks great, and stands out every time you see one even in black.

Anyway I thought the above worth mentioning as it's easy to get lost in the shiny shiny and forget what can happen when actually owning the thing as spares, repair and so on become more important.

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Dotcom 'saved' Xmas for Xbox – but no one can save Sony's titsup PlayStation Network

Starace
Devil

Re: Dotcom bah!

Kim does have a lot of form when it comes to DDOS attacks. I know enough people who were on the receiving end.

And he also has a huge amount of form when it comes to self promoting bullshit.

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3

Is this photo PROOF a Windows 7 Start Menu is coming back?

Starace

Re: LOL

What they also need to understand is that it's not just the Start menu, or the desktop, or the Metro bit, it's all those little subtle things they messed around with that just get in the way of the user.

Under the skin is a very good operating system and things like the Task Manager tease with what could have been.

But some of the changes are just stupid - why (for example) did the Wifi management get removed in 8.1? It makes life difficult and there's no obvious reason for it! Needing to drop back to the command line or drilling into the adapter settings just to change a password is a real backwards step and completely illogical. And there must be twenty similar things I hit daily.

I'm not anti Windows 8 - I'm using it right now to type this and even have a touchscreen for the full Metro experience - but it does feel that design got in the way of the engineering and that the design side went for shiny over usability.

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Sinclair's ZX Spectrum to LIVE AGAIN!

Starace

Re: Promise the world

I wonder if they've actually bothered to pay for the design rights to make their replica, or if they're just ploughing ahead regardless? Anyone know?

1
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Boffins claim battery BREAKTHROUGH – with rhubarb-like molecule

Starace
Boffin

Re: Thermal stores would help too

"Storing the energy as heat is no use if you want the energy to run an air conditioner/fan in the summer."

There are also existing systems (some very large scale) which use cheap overnight energy to chill/freeze a storage tank to provide building cooling.

Assuming the power is available at the right price and there is room for the thermal store it seems like a very simple and obvious way to provide a cooling system.

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4 Brits cuffed after shutdown of internet drug shop Silk Road

Starace
Flame

He should have converted his $80m to cash...

...then buried it in barrels in the desert. Nothing could have gone wrong with that plan.

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Highway from HELL: Volcano tears through 35km of crust in WEEKS

Starace

Liquid hot magma

For some reason I automatically read that with a Dr Evil voice.

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Trust me, I'm a computer: Watson takes on health care challenge

Starace
Boffin

If you're treating someone called Aeschylus you might find that one useful!

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RAF Eurofighter Typhoons 'beaten by Pakistani F-16s'

Starace
Alert

Update to the article?

Just waiting for Lewis to update the article to acknowledge this is all based on a false report, or better just withdraw the whole thing and replace with a note explaining why.

The giveaway - even if he hadn't checked the dates/attendees - was that pretty much every quote on the original source was obviously bollocks to anyone with even a small clue about the subject.

There are quite a few people who already consider these articles to be a joke and this one in particular really isn't helping the reputation of the author.

1
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Crash grounds RAF Eurofighters - for Battle of Britain Day!

Starace
Flame

And the point is?

Excuse me for being cynical but wasn't this just an excuse to push out the same old anti-Typhoon stuff again?

Given the fault was (apparently) in the seat, which is a variation on a part used on a wide range of jets there isn't actually much which is related to the aircraft itself, and certainly not enough to justify another 2 page rehash of old arguments.

If (for example) this had occurred on the late, over-budget and under-performing F-35 - which is just as likely given the common component - would we have seen the same outpouring?

2
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Lotus offers to end e-car silent running

Starace
Alert

Old news

I can remember Lotus announcing exactly the same technology a few years back, around 2000/2001 if I remember correctly.

Even the intended application was the same.

I was interested at the time as I'd completed development of pretty much exactly the same thing a year earlier.

The problem for Lotus is that they probably aren't able to bring much to the table product wise, everything hardware and software wise about this is well known and openly available, and as a result all the usual OEMs would be perfectly able to churn out their own versions without Lotus seeing any benefit. Indeed it's already happened as this really isn't new stuff.

Still, good to see they aren't turning down an opportunity for a press release.

0
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Itchy City wants scratch-window cash

Starace
Alert

Maybe I'm missing something?

If you've got, say, an N95 (as they show) or any other similar phone that can run this application, you've probably also got a browser so can just use their free web site? Can't see that the interface would be very different, and you save a quid.

Or if just doing a search there's always Google Maps which seems OK for finding places to go. No reviews on there, but then again Itchy seems a bit light on them too.

0
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Apple's AppStore closes in on $500m in software sales

Starace
Alert

Bad headline

The headline implies the AppStore is approaching sales of $500m *now*, when the reality is that at the current rate that will take 18 months. Which is a bit different!

The sales aren't bad but they're not exactly stunning - a dollar a day from the installed users isn't really that much. Especially as I doubt this rate is going to be sustained.

This isn't like music retail where people buy libraries of stuff, and lots of new material arrives all the time that people want. With applications I would suspect there's an initial spike and then people have everything they need - after all, how many types of applications can you think of that you'd want? And how many of those do you want on a phone? And how many of those need to be separate apps? And how many could be implemented via the browser instead of as actual 'applications'?

I'm sure a few apps will become must haves and every iPhone buyer will have them, but the user base isn't (and will never be) big enough to make really serious money.

I'm sure some people will make money from this, but I'm still waiting to be convinced that the iPod/iTunes model will work in this arena; both parts of the product are very different.

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MoD in £1.75m rush order for SAS backpack radars

Starace
Happy

MSTAR?

Don't we already have a man portable radar system? Not the newest of things, but still not too shabby.

On paper it might weigh twice as much, but that includes the whole kit. Including the terminal for display & control.

It also has the advantage of being a proper field tested bit of MIL-Spec equipment, Blighter on the other hand looks a bit fragile e.g. connectors that you'll snap off, and a not very robust tripod. And an MSTAR will work in extreme temperatures & conditions that would kill a 'rugged' laptop.

Then there's compatibility - standard equipment interfaces, and it runs on the standard radio batteries (or even a pack of AA's) rather than some unique to type lithium job.

I also believe the radar detection and target identification is rather effective too. Certainly you can identify someone just from them standing and breathing.

Not that Blighter is a bad bit of equipment. It's just that it looks like you get what you pay for, and it isn't a complete package or necessarily up to a full-on field deployment.

Probably OK as a network of 'cheap' sensors on a perimeter though, and given how things are in Afghanistan I guess that's how they'll be used rather than the way an MSTAR is usually deployed.

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Bonce-antenna education downloads foreseen in 30 years

Starace
Dead Vulture

An alternative option

I have to admit that my second thought on reading this (the first one was 'he's an idiot') was an actual practical implementation of a teaching tool based on a wireless related technology.

This would take the form of a unit, into which the head of an appropriate yoof^H^H^H^Hstudent would be inserted, and subjected to a pre-determined number of minutes of 'education' during which their brain would absorb what could be described as knowledge, in that it would be a learning experience and quite likely have a lifelong impact.

The resemblance of the educational unit to a microwave with the door removed and the interlocks bypassed would be purely a coincidence.

I'm not sure the student would be in a position to appreciate it, but depending on the selection criteria for the educational establishment offering this pioneering learning method, it's quite possible the wider community would find it highly attractive.

In time I would anticipate the application of this learning method being extended to a wider range of students - for example the latest series of Big Brother is likely to contain many people who would be ideal candidates for further education services utilising this technique.

<- Allegations that the appearance of the vulture is a result of this learning technique are false. It's merely a coincidence.

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Brain-plug weapons could provide war crime immunity

Starace

'tis bollocks

A typical poorly reasoned law student argument.

Method of control doesn't really provide a defence - you'd be hard pushed to prove that the design of the controls made you do something. And if you could prove it, 'brain control' would be no different to a poorly designed control panel.

I suspect that the method of interface doesn't actually matter - brain->finger->weapon isn't significantly different to brain-> weapon.

In both cases you could end up reacting too quickly, and cause a bad outcome.

And insufficient buffer between thought & action has always been a problem in all areas of human activity.

In any case I suspect anything designed with this interface concept would be built to require an explicit trigger (i.e. a deliberate thought rather than subconscious) which negates the defence.

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As for holding engineers liable - if you build a tool, you may well find yourself liable if it does something unintended but if it works as intended ultimately liability lies with the user.

Any object can be used for bad purposes - hammer, knife, car, biro(!) - and you don't hold the person who designed it liable when this happens.

Even the majority of 'military' objects can be used for defensive as well as offensive roles - and it gets even more complicated when you consider 'lesser of two evils' type arguments. It's a bit more difficult to argue when it comes to things like nuclear armed ICBMs - though even these can be said to have a 'good' purpose if used purely for deterrent.

So it's the end user who holds the can, not the engineer. Unless of course the engineer made a cockup!

0
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Shoebox man-tracker radar flies in nimble drone

Starace
Alert

So...

If it's built by a US company then it's good, but if it's a UK product it's pork? What a shocking conclusion! </sarcasm>

.

The antenna dimensions and design make it pretty obvious that the resolution isn't going to be great - I suspect the 35cm number is very much an optimal figure and probably at minimum operating altitude.

The lack of on-board processing is another reason it's so small and light - with this type of system you're constrained by the size of the antenna you can install, the weight of the antenna array & back-end signal conversion hardware, and the sheer amount of processing grunt it takes to convert the radar data into imagery particularly in real-time. Obviously computers get smaller & lighter constantly for a given amount of performance, but it still wouldn't be trivial to make an ultra compact platform. Though at least with the toy antenna they don't actually have much data to worry about.

Adding MTI and using it to steer a camera is trivial once the data is processed so I don't dispute this could be possible and useful. But obviously that requires real-time on-board processing of the radar data, and a radar actually capable of identifying smaller targets...

But anyway... the main point of the article seems to be to imply that the US product is great and wonderful, and that UK products are (as usual!) a waste of time. Not only is this line getting a bit boring, but it also shows a complete misunderstanding of the differing capabilities of the platforms.

If you had any knowledge of the SAR systems you'd recognise the difference between a large airliner hosted system (eg. SOSTAR or Nimrod), a full-sized drone based system (e.g. Watchkeeper) and a micro-sized system (eg. nanoSAR). While each is useful you can't argue that one could replace another as they have very different capabilities in terms of range, scan area and resolution. This means they'll do different tasks in the field and while the large systems can do the job of the small ones it doesn't work the same way in reverse.

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It's also worth considering that if you spend cash on US hardware the money is gone, never to be seen again, whereas if you spend it in the UK most of it is quickly recovered via taxes on companies, workers, materials etc., which makes the bill not quite so bad. The Treasury makes the 'benefits' system work on this basis and I imagine they have similar thoughts when it comes to defence procurement. I would guess other factors like increased employment of skilled workers, possible export opportunities and maybe even buying the best system for the job also come into it.

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Finally, for future reference you'll probably find that a border surveillance system (eg. Eye o' Sauron) will work on a completely different principle as it would be about classic target detection & location rather than generating imagery. Such systems can detect you just from the motion of breathing, but they'll only flag range & bearing rather than producing one of those nice SAR images. There may be a degree of target categorisation too (e.g tracked vehicle, large vehicle, large breathing animal, small breathing animal) but that would depend on what was on the back end - generally a man with some headphones....

0
0

Phorm launches data pimping fight back

Starace
Stop

Spin

If the answers given by BT in the following link are anything to go by, they either don't understand the system or they'll play games with semantics to hide the reality:

http://www.beta.bt.com/bta/forums/thread.jspa?threadID=2612&start=0&tstart=0

If I understand correctly, they argue that data doesn't go to Phorm but is retained in the BT network, which gives them a neat getout from privacy claims.

The argument could be said to be accurate given the relevant server is located in the ISP datacentre and therefore 'within' the network, but the reality is that a 3rd party box is sat on the network looking at the raw data with no guarantees of what will be done with it, and ultimately forwarding a processed subset of that data to external servers.

And the optout system still isn't clearly controlled - if they haven't worked out how to implement it yet it's hard to have any faith it could ever work.

Looks like BT have convinced themselves they're in the right and any customer protests will just be ignored.

0
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Lightsaber voted top movie weapon

Starace
Happy

Re:Wot, no phased-plasma rifle in the forty watt range?

'Hey, just what you see, pal.'

.

Personally I'd go for Ol' Painless. Who cares that the recoil would push you over, or you couldn't carry the batteries or enough ammo. In the world of film such things aren't a problem!

Or failing that I'd go for the M56 Smartgun. Or the M41-A at a stretch.

If you'd chosen any of the top 10 options short of the Deathstar you'd soon be learning that the ability to deliver large amounts of hot lead in a short time provides certain advantages!

0
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Remembering the Commodore SX-64

Starace
Thumb Up

Got one!

I've got one of these stored away somewhere, apparently one of the first few built to production standard.

Big heavy piece of equipment, especially with the size of the PSU at the back (the whole back end is a cast heatsink for the PSU) and the solidly built case (steel (!!) chassis, aluminium shell), but the feature set was OK at the time - I seem to remember MIDI was included? And the keyboard wasn't too bad, one advantage of all that space. Though you did have to squint at the display, so not that good ergonomically.

Talking of which, it's a very nice monitor, I believe based on some sort of portable Sony unit that was built-in in it's entirety. Very fine dot pitch tube (seemed to be a Trinitron?) so quite capable of displaying readable text even with the limited size available. And if you crack the case open you can drive audio + PAL Y/C video straight into the display cable, so it can work as a TV too if you've got a tuner. Later in its life I used mine as a TV for a couple of years...

Alongside some of the 'portable' PCs that came out in a similar style I'd say the SX compared favourably. I used some of the Compaq attempts and usually thought that the engineering was nowhere near as good, though I will admit Compaq put more thought into weight reduction and the specs were better!

In any case, when it was new(-ish) I thought it was quite impressive; compared to other home computers available at the time it seemed well equipped and the novelty factor of it being 'portable' was a bonus - certainly made my CPC seem a little tame. Plus I was *much* younger so more easily impressed.

I'll have to go digging for my example, though I think last time I checked the CPU had failed. :-(

Maybe it's time to gut it and put something more modern inside, the monitor will work just as well and it's big enough for almost anything to fit!

0
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USB Missile Launcher gets integrated spyscope webcam

Starace
Happy

Thoughts

A better idea would be some clever software to control the thing.

Ideally you'd be able to enter a floor plan, then select a target on it. The software would then steer/angle the launcher to suit, or just tell you the shot wasn't possible. The launcher would then lob the missiles in a nice arc onto the target.

The main reason for this is most offices don't allow direct line of fire. And it's a little more difficult to block/trace a shot coming in from above.

Another option would be to separate the camera & launcher. Put the camera up high with something to steer it, use it to designate a target, and the launcher is automatically adjusted to hit the target. Relatively simple stuff if you can mark out the position & height of the two bits of the system, especially if you add a range-finder onto the camera to get a proper target location...

0
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Office update disables MS files

Starace
Thumb Down

@Steven Hewittt

I would suggest this could be a major issue, it just depends if your business consists purely of chucking out new stuff all the time or if you have to occasionally go back to the archive to either support or update something you did a few years before. Or if you just value the knowledge that has been accumulated over the years.

And it really isn't difficult to manage 'security' by validating the file contents as you go. It just takes some extra thought in the implementation; unfortunately it frequently appears that most people don't go through any 'what if' cycle in their code design but they just bang out the first thing that works with a properly formatted file and leave it at that.

.

Lets say, for example, that 10 years ago I generated some documentation for a product/project. I followed all the rules and stored it away in the retrieval system along with all the drawings, code etc. etc. Any paper copies that existed may have been archived, but have probably just had the signature sheet scanned and stored (in the retrieval system) and have been shredded to save on storage.

Then the customer returns, wanting an update to their system and/or a replacement for the hardware someone flew into the ground.

I go back to the system, and pull all the files. I can still read and use the dxf, vhdl, C and other files are still fine. But for some reason I can't get at any of the documentation, even though it was saved in Word, and I'm trying to import it back into the latest flavour of Word... (replace Word with old/new software of your choice, this is just an example)

Obviously you could argue that it's worth storing documents in plain text, or in multiple formats, but then you end up with all kinds of formatting and layout problems, missing content (e.g. diagrams) and other glitches. Plus they aren't the document that was signed off. Or you could scan the document and store it all as TIFs, only downsides being you can't edit the document any more and the storage requirements are usually bigger.

(Obviously anything *really* special will be supported by the original machines for the service life of the program: it's not a problem using special files when you still have the original gear they were created on 20 years before!)

I've had to do this sort of thing a few times and while updating the documents to the latest template can be a pain, at least I can read them, usually without having to dig out some obsolete hardware and a few old install disks from around the place.

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The other issue to consider is that depending on how update cycles are managed you might find you've gone from horribly obsolete to the latest flavour in a couple of weeks. Imagine how f*cked you'd be if documents you created a couple of months previously on your old system were suddenly unreadable.

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So in the real world formats becoming obsolete, especially in a relatively short time can be a problem. Obviously it can be managed but that is something that potentially takes a lot of thought.

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N95 struggles to find itself

Starace
Thumb Down

Question

Question - do you get the tracking feature back if you by the navigation upgrade? Anyone know? From what I can see the tracking feature is just 'gone'.

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Looking at some of the other comments I wonder what some people are on?!

Some people don't understand what the feature is - I've lost count of the number of times I've seen the 'press 0' comment. All I can say is RTFM.

The full nav doesn't seem to be a replacement - on foot turn by turn voice commands aren't much use!

And how exactly is Google Maps (great as it is) any use if you're somewhere where you can't get at your bundled data access? Say, for example, roaming in Europe? Do you seriously want to pay all that money for data? At least the Nokia Maps lets you pre-cache the countries you want to use so it doesn't need network access. In the UK I don't have a problem with Google Maps, certainly now the GPS works with it, but if (for example) I'm wandering around Frankfurt it's not the kind of thing I'd activate.

Personally I think this decision is dubious by Nokia - it's an advertised feature, it's documented in the manual, and it hasn't been 'improved or upgraded', but deleted, just to make people pay money for something they already had. Can't even make the 'safety' claim stick as the user is just as easily distracted by other features of the phone.

Ultimately this is about a manufacturer making a decision to cripple an advertised, documented and working feature of a product post sale, with the only apparent explanation being they want to increase subscription revenues for an optional service. And surely this is wrong?! After all, where does it end?

Nokia better put this back in the next firmware, as they seem to have upset a fair proportion of their customers.

Personally I'm sticking with older firmware (which works adequately) until this settles down a little.

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Supersonic stealth jumpjet rolls off production line

Starace
Boffin

Re: Woah! No brakes!

Just to point out the flaw in this comment:

The only problem with the concept of the rapid deceleration (whether like this, or Topgun style using the airbrake) to attempt to cause the following aircraft to overshoot so you can shoot them in the arse is that it's a fundamentally flawed idea.

Any fast jet pilot will tell you that if someone tried that kind of thing, all they're doing is making themselves an easier to target to hit. And in a combat situation you'll probably point this out to them in the most direct manner possible.

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Starace
Happy

Alternatives

Couple of points:

Why buy E2s? If the Seakings are than much of a problem, then the Searchwater AEW system could probably be moved to something else (Merlin?) without huge problems as it's a pallet mount - the helicopters aren't particularly customised. And the radar is certainly OK given it's basically common to the current Nimrod setup. But one of the nice points about using the existing helicopters is that they can be tasked to AEW *or* the equipment can be quickly removed and they can be used in a conventional role - try doing that with a Sentry. Plus they can be deployed to smaller ships, used in conditions that don't allow fixed wing aircraft to operate etc. etc.

Naval Typhoon variant wouldn't be huge effort - main constraint to date has been no-one wanting them. More robust landing gear and extra corrosion proofing is quite simple. As is the landing sensor suite. Arrestor hook is already fitted on the existing aircraft. So technically it could happen, though I would guess failure of F35 program needs to happen first.

As I understand it the new carriers are designed to allow catapult retrofit so Plan B may still happen!

Personally I still think that for the role it carries out, a design refresh/update of the Harrier would have been a better plan - take something known to work, incorporate the material and manufacturing advances of recent years, fit more modern avionics and an updated cockpit suite, and see how it goes. Better than the hacked bastard child that is the F35B, and likely much cheaper too.

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Validus backers banking on swing to DC

Starace
Alert

WTF?

I guess they mean something along the lines of having a shared PSU, instead of lots of separate ones in each system. For what it's worth.

Though there isn't 40% worth of efficiency to be had there. Especially as you'll still need DC-DC converters as the distribution is likely to be 48V.

Doubt you use anything much above 48V as it starts getting dodgy and parts aren't so easy to get; can't imagine anything beyond 120V at a stretch. And of course this means you need big thick cables to handle the current (obviously current goes up compared to 230V/415V AC), which aren't cheap especially with the cost of copper at the moment.

Also might be an issue getting DC from a power plant (or any other form of generator) as the output tends to be... AC! So you'd still have the loss from conversion, plus higher transmission loss.

The bit I really laugh at though is this "it said it has developed a technology that takes the AC power provided by utilities and converts it into DC". So, something new and radical then, like rectifier diodes? Or a switchmode PSU? Or one of the other types of AC/DC converter Can't think of anything new they could have developed.

Personally I smell a company built to spend VC cash, but with no actual engineering content. If they were for real they might not have such fundamentally flawed ideas.

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US surgeon snaps patient's tattooed todger

Starace
Alert

Maybe a stupid question

If the guy was in for a gallbladder op, I assume probably keyhole, and given where the liver is located, what the hell was the surgeon doing down there anyway? Did he get confused between bladders?*

I too admit that I also initially read the headline as meaning something other than camera related, possibly indicating the result an LN spillage.

(*though I can accept the explanation is that someone probably put a catheter in and pointed out the tattoo during pre-op)

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Greenpeace slams next-gen consoles

Starace
Flame

Oi! Greenpeace!

...shut it, or we'll send the French 'round again!

Typical campaigners, concentrating on unimportant issues while ignoring the things that might actually work. So much easier to be a puritanical neo-Luddite and just try to stop other people having anything enjoyable in their lives.

If you're really that bothered about environmental impacts, go euthanise yourself and reduce your personal impact down to zero.

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Qinetiq wins Watchkeeper drone test contract

Starace
Stop

Re:Dodgy Photograph and the article itself...

The reason for the 'dodgy photograph', and why the statement 'smaller off-the-shelf Hermes 450s from Israel' isn't exactly accurate is that Watchkeeper is actually based on a reworking of the Elbit Hermes 450 platform (the WK450).

Hence the quick Photoshop job. And why getting a couple of 450's early is good training.

I suspect the whole Welsh testing thing doesn't really involve much money, it's more likely about the suitability of the location for testing UAVS (e.g. the terrain) rather than anything else. I doubt much actual work will happen there, or many local jobs are involved.

Certainly it's better to site the testing in Wales than doing the flight testing around Crawley (the design and integration site), or around Leicester (where the things will be built). Both of which are privately owned, and have enough work from various defence contracts from different countries that Watchkeeper is a 'nice to have' program rather than keeping lots of people in otherwise non-existent jobs.

I think we've already had the Watchkeeper cost argument in another comments section. In this case it's definitely the avionics that are taking the cash - the platform is f*ck all. And given it's the avionics that actually provide the capability, and you couldn't fit them in a Predator, it sort of forces the decision. Plus you assume the Predator is actually worth having - I suspect some research would show it's actually too big, too expensive to maintain, and the real capabilities are nowhere near the hype: nothing unusual for most US sourced kit....

I will admit I got a bit lost towards the end of the article, it seemed to degenerate into a general rant about subsidising jobs and 'why not buy American?', and then about BAE. Which sort of diluted the whole point.

Oh, and BTW Lewis, I know you're a Navy bod but it's worth noting that A400M and C-17, while both transport aircraft, have very different roles and can't really be compared. The propellers vs. turbofans are a bit of a clue...

Disclosure: I have nothing whatsoever to do with any of the programs or companies involved in the above. I just know how to do some background research and not randomly rant about pork-barrels and the UK defence industry.

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Microsoft wireless keyboards crypto cracked

Starace

Wireless security?!

You mean people who use wireless keyboards actually expect them to be secure? And some researchers actually thought it was worth pointing out that they aren't?

What you seem to be getting is enough encryption to stop interference between systems, and to stop 'zero effort' snooping by just plugging in another receiver of the same type.

If that isn't enough, use a keyboard with a cable.

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Cannon runs amok, kills nine fleshies

Starace

Inconsistent story

The majority of the reports I've seen suggest a quick burst (15/20) which at 1100 rounds/minute between the barrels would have been over before anyone could have reacted, so unlikely that anyone could have been in a position to even do anything during the incident, whether or not this put their life at risk.

The other version suggests two full (or near full) 250 round magazines were run dry, which would have been a ~30 second incident (not 0.8) in which case it's quite likely someone would have tried to do something.

It sounds like the original automation upgrade was a bit of a bodge, which would account for how bad the incident became (e.g. no proper stops to restrict the field of fire).

But I suspect the initial cause wasn't so much a software issue as a cockup in the repair/rebuild sequence after the previous stoppage, causing a misfire, with a second cockup causing a partial jam in the action so the trigger mech became stuck and the weapon ran until it was dry.

Bad outcome for those involved. But hopefully lessons will be learnt so no-one else gets the same outcome.

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