* Posts by Starace

86 posts • joined 16 Jun 2007

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Apple wants to buy Formula 1 car firm McLaren – report

Starace

Talk about the right company

What seems to be up for discussion is McLaren Automotive which is a separate company from the other activities and these days mostly owned by former McLaren bondholders who swapped debt for equity.

Bringing the other companies into it could be seriously misleading.

Not sure what exactly is worth buying into as pretty much everything in terms of technology and manufacturing at Automotive was subcontracted. About the only things in house are marketing integration paint and assembly.

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'Inherent risk' to untried and untested 4G emergency services network – NAO

Starace

It's a stupid idea

Everyone knows it's a stupid idea.

The key requirements are coverage, reliability and voice performance. Instead they've gone for cheap, shiny plus a bit of extra data.

The current solution might be a bit expensive and a bit clunky but it has the key advantage that it actually works unlike this 4G fantasy concept.

The same thinking comes up again and again - why should I spend XXX when my cheap gadget does sort of the same thing? Because maybe your cheap gadget won't work or won't survive?

On a side note I recently had a go with a prototype to try one of the peer to peer forwarding modes for voice in environments without a proper basestation signal. The latency was comical.

3
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Tesla to stop killing drivers: Software update beamed to leccy cars

Starace

Re: Radar is well proven, why has it been ignored by Tesla ?

We won't mention why Audi moved to twin transceivers plus camera - OK we will, the earlier version with a central transceiver was prone to getting confused by oncoming traffic, corners and other things, plus the vagaries of the interesting range of radar profiles of other traffic such as the stealthy rear end of a mk2 Mondeo saloon which could appear on occasion to have accidentally matched what needed millions for the F117 to achieve.

It also isn't widely mentioned how the camera positioning has evolved over a short period as real life proved certain engineering assumptions wrong.

I have to say that the Tesla statement suggests they don't really properly understand how the sensors behave, or the best way to use them, or what is reliable and even things like their iteration rates seem a bit optimistic when you consider what can happen in 100ms at normal traffic speeds. And this assumes they have used a proper certifiable scheduler to drive it.

You can throw software updates at the thing but their hubristic approach smacks of an Internet startup way of thinking that doesn't match with the sound engineering approach something like this demands.

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Brexit makes life harder for an Internet of Things startup

Starace

I feel dumber for having read this

So the key point is there is nothing to worry about?

Yet somehow wrapped with a misleading headline and a load of scary what-ifs.

Note: I have occasionally been involved with CE and other test processes in house or carried out by a third party. None of these things are scary. An extra one on the list isn't a worry, even in the extremely unlikely event that the UK diverged from the CE process.

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Drone speedboat isn't

Starace

You do understand why it was manned?

The story implies it was manned because it didn't work.

The actual reason was that it wasn't legally allowed on the river without a crew being present, even if they were just sat back having coffee.

Slight difference.

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USBee stings air-gapped PCs: Wirelessly leak secrets with a file write

Starace

Not even news 30 years ago

Seriously. This is hardly some great revelation that a machine can leak noise of whatever sort that may include information.

It's also not much of a challenge when you have physical access, can install and run arbitrary code and maybe even plug something in, and the installation environment allows you to get some sort of detector close and then let that in turn get information outside.

A five year old could probably achieve the same 'research' and maybe get someone to write about it.

Proper air gapped systems - as opposed to something that doesn't just have Internet access unplugged - are slightly harder to crack and the ways of protecting them have been much the same for decades and would have prevented this sort of amateur nonsense right from the start.

In further news I can get information off an air gapped system by pointing a camera at the screen through your office window. This is a new and exciting technique as I use an IP camera so I can 'hack an air gapped system remotely'...

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Labour's Jeremy Corbyn wants high speed broadband for all. Wow, original idea there

Starace

25 billion fits easily into 500 billion

The big question is where exactly does the 500 billion come from?

Not worth worrying over too much though as my dog has more chance of becoming Prime Minister than Comrade Jez does.

17
8

US military's fake chips battle

Starace
Flame

Who are they buying from then?

Unless they're going to some really dodgy sorts I remember that the whole purchasing system involved (and still does) a ton of certification and QA on all the parts for a military or aircraft manufacturing process. Almost exactly like Suricou Raven suggested could happen; it all ready did.

Which is why everything turned out to be so expensive to buy due to the volume of paper and process involved all the way through.

It also made life interesting if you wanted small quantities of something (say 50 chips) where you could get them easily enough - maybe even free - from the manufacturer but then you had to insist on the full purchasing & QA process on a really tiny order when the usual MOQ was 1000.

Maybe that has broken down recently for some of their suppliers or maybe the military's purchasing side have been deciding things were too expensive from the official source, gone grey market or to broker then finding out where the saving actually came from.

1
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Protect your staff from Toronto's terrible Twitter trolls, bosses told

Starace

Re: The Reg = SJW?

Look at the byline on the article. Kieren is at least consistent.

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Starace
Meh

Easy solution

Just subcontract their Twitter account off to a third party, then it's not their problem and they're compliant by default.

This is what most corporates do anyway, no point keeping it in-house.

1
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Jeep hackers: How we swerved past Chrysler's car security patches

Starace
FAIL

Re: Physical Access

Exactly.

You wouldn't even need to use the diagnostic port, you could splice straight into a bus on the other side of the gateway and push anything you like down it, which would also nobble their stupid little security idea.

Which in part is what I suspect they did because they're claiming to have done stuff that doesn't seem to be possible if you're going in via diagnostics, but could be if you went in elsewhere. Like overriding the vehicle speed messages which aren't on the diagnostic bus if you're talking about the ones between the control modules.

It's like claiming I can hack your banking passwords on your ultra-secure system after I've stuck a keylogger on the keyboard cable; not exactly complicated and doesn't really prove much.

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Firefox to banish hidden Flash files – and kill off sneaky ad snoopers

Starace

Figleaf

They're busy knocking back Flash and claiming it causes instability (fair enough) but what is their excuse for the utter lack of stability in their Flash-less and feature restricted Android client?

Once they knock down Flash what are they going to have to blame for the bloat, resource leaks, insecurity and instability other than their own junk code base?

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Nitwit has fit over twit hit: Troll takes timeless termination terribly

Starace

Re: So reporting the ban of an abusive guy is like the Guardian?

I don't know that they should have bothered reporting it as it isn't tech related beyond being on Twitter, though this is a comment piece not a report so reflects the author's opinion as opposed to just facts.

Someone was suspended by Twitter. So what? Happens daily. And as far as I can tell there were no innocents in this. On one side there seems to be a right wing attention whore and on the other a semi literate comedian prone to racist outbursts who seems to have been upset by a film review. Both seem happy to stir the crowd when it suits them.

And ultimately to the wider world it's meaningless.

But I still see an article reflecting a particular viewpoint that not so long ago would have come nowhere near this site but looks right on target for Comment is Free.

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Starace

Kieren generates yet another article turning the once great Register into an outpost of the Guardian.

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Martha Lane Fox: Brexit is all about MEEEEeeee!

Starace

Re: Her dad brilliant as well

Because as they've both found a sub-90 IQ is no handicap if you know the right people.

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What Brexit means for you as a motorist

Starace

Possibly maybe.

I just ended up wondering what an opinion piece about Brexit related motoring costs is doing in the hardware section of an IT site?

Though El Reg is rapidly morphing into the technology wing of the Guardian so I'm not surprised this got shoehorned in.

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SWIFT hackers nick $10m from Ukraine bank

Starace

So not a SWIFT hack then?

So they attacked the bank computers and the mechanism used was the normal one for all transfers.

So SWIFT as such wasn't hacked? A bit like saying 'Openreach hackers' when someone's private online banking gets hit.

I guess 'Ukraine bank hacked' isn't much of a headline so SWIFT is in there to spice it up.

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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'

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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
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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
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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...)

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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.

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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.

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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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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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?

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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.

2
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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.

0
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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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