* Posts by Stuart Castle

631 posts • joined 19 Jun 2007

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PBX phone system hacking nets crooks $50 million over four years

Stuart Castle

Re: Anyone for 1996 IoT?

"This scam is the original IoT, and exactly why we should be very worried... The tech / electronics giants are just run by suits / lawyers that have indemnified themselves morally and financially from any holes in their products."

The problem is the most companies, assuming they are aware of the fault, will work out the cost of fixing it, the cost of any penalties (such as litigation) if it's not fixed and if the latter is lower than the former, will often just allow the fault not to be fixed. OK, so they may factor in damage to their image or reputation, but whether that has an impact depends on the cost they put on their reputation.

For instance, Whirlpool have safety bulletins out for tumble dryers from multiple brands with design faults in the UK. While they *are* fixing the problems, the rate they are doing it, they will take over a year to fix all of them. Yet they have still stopped short of a full product recall, even though the fault can cause the dryer to catch fire.

It is worrying that the same mindset will probably be held by the people who run the companies making IoT things..

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Send tortuous stand-up ‘nine-thirty’ meetings back to the dark ages

Stuart Castle

Re: Then again......

I remember one day our boss decided to have a meeting at a local pub. He was in a good mood, and bought everyone lunch. He had a couple of pints and jokingly announced to the whole pub that anyone not on his table (which was management) was fired. So, we sat in the pub for the whole afternoon and well into the evening until he begged us to come back to work.

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Stuart Castle

Re: RE an unlamented fragment of my past

"With a £150 tax free donation from your limited company on such an annual event of course."

Reminds me of a "meeting" I attended with the engineers installing our (then) new VMware infrastructure. In a local pub, on their expense accounts, getting absolutely plastered while doing the minimum amount of talking about virtualisation we could to justify the engineers staying there. Damn good night.

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Stuart Castle

Nice to know meetings don't change

You should try meetings in academia. I regularly have meetings where the actual meeting is dealt with relatively quickly, but then the inevitable questions in the "Any other business" section take over 4 hours.

A ex-colleague and I tried to introduce the Just a Minute rules to any future meetings (1 minute to discuss each topic with no repetition, deviation or hesitation) on the grounds it would make the meeting far more productive, but we were told "No"'

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Building automation systems are so bad IBM hacked one for free

Stuart Castle

Re: Sadly unsurprising

And I would suspect any remote access facilities in use have just been bolted on to those systems with little or no concern for security...

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Bank fail: Ready or not, here's our new software

Stuart Castle

Re: It's not that nobody wants...

I think part of the problem is Google. By releasing services to the general public (even if they are invite only) they label as beta, they've made it acceptable to release products without proper testing.

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Stuart Castle

Re: Nobody wants...

People forget that while Automated Unit Testing is a good tool for testing, it's nothing more than that. It's a tool. It's not a substitute for human testing. It may be able to test for thousands of potential bugs, but it will not find any bugs it's not been set up to test for.

IMO, the best test of any system is to let a few users loose on it, as well as a few testers with a devious mind.

One of my colleagues tested a website I developed for internal use and tried all sorts of tricks I'd never even thought of to break the error checking I'd built in. He did succeed and I fixed the errors. Funnily enough, I didn't even have to try to break the site he'd set up. Both sites were linked. Mine was a public facing one to do with booking equipment and his was an internal site dedicated to equipment inventory management. I entered a few codes for equipment that didn't exist, and the site let me manage them.. When I highlighted this, he told me that as the site was for staff only, he hadn't implemented any error checking (obviously he thought staff don't make mistakes).

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Stuart Castle

Re: Nobody wants...

Proper testing does need to be done. Proper testing also costs money without any direct benefit to the profitability of the company. As such, the beancounters may see it as a cost with no profit, and some may choose to reduce or scrap it.

They forget to include the costs if the system is rolled out company wide without adequate testing and goes even partly tits up. They forget to include the costs to the company reputation, lost customers, refunds and other gifts given to keep the customers you've just failed happy.

They also forget to include the costs of any resulting legal action.

Don't get me wrong, I've been involved in the testing of systems as both a user and sys admin, and I know that even with the most comprehensive testing, there can still be problems but when I see a failed upgrade taking out a bank's core systems for days at a time, I have to wonder how much they have tested both the upgrade and procedures used to do it.

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Cisco recalls switches that could short power to the case. And hurt you

Stuart Castle

Re: Scared? You shouldn't be.

While they may use 24 or 48V internally, all of the Cisco enterprise or industrial switches I have handled have had an internal PSU, with a 240V input. They also have metal cases, so if there is a problem with earthing in the PSU and there isn't an ELCB/RCD installed in the building (as there may not be in older buildings), there is a good chance of any shock killing the user, as by the time the fuse blew, the damage would already be done. So, yes, there is a good chance that some poor unsuspecting network tech would get killed in the event one of these switches failed. Remember, just because the safety regulations (and possibly the health and safety at work act) require that companies install RCDs doesn't necessarily mean companies have installed RCDs. Even then, there is no guarantee those RCDs have been tested regularly and are working.

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Fake Flash update malware targets gullible Apple users

Stuart Castle

Re: Warning

This may seem like nitpicking, but Adobe don't require you to log in with a password to install flash on ANY platform. OSX does, which is something it inherited from BSD (the version of Unix upon which it is based).

That said, it's good advice not to install anything if you don't need it, which is why when I re-install my Mac or PC, I tend to install software as and when I need it, rather than just install a whole list when I re-install the OS.

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The monitor didn't work but the problem was between the user's ears

Stuart Castle

I work at a Uni. One of our professors had a problem with his computer. Now, he certainly wasn't a stupid person (quite the contrary, he is considered an internationally renowned expert in his field of study). Dialogs would not appear. When I went to have a look, I realised they were actually appearing and being cancelled as soon as they appeared. So, I had a quick look around to see what I could see. I noticed a pile of books near the keyboard. When I looked more closely, I realised they were sitting on the escape key, moved the books and, lo, dialogs stayed on screen again.

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Stuart Castle

Re: Old IT joke - TRUE AT LEAST ONCE!

"Crappy pub. Decent pubs will have hand pumps for the proper beer. Only lager comes from electric pumps"

Of course, you can have all the hand pumps you want, but they won't help when the tills and card machines go down, thus making it impossible for the pub to accept cards and potentially dangerous to accept cash.

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You've seen things people wouldn't believe – so tell us your programming horrors

Stuart Castle

Checking other people's code..

As a Uni Lab tech, part of my job is to help students use our computing facilities. Inevitably, that involves some bug hunting where a student's code is not working, and they are blaming the computer or compiler rather than actually checking their code..

One day, I'd been called over by a student, who was trying to design a website in ASP.net using VBscript (I hated that combination of technologies before this happened, hated it even more after). This website was supposed to provide a way for users to log in and maintain their own personal details. It was also supposed to provide an administrator interface that enabled more functionality for admin users.

It wasn't working. At all. When I looked at the code, it was obvious that the student had copied and pasted the code behind the site from multiple sources. He had also carefully renamed all the variables to prevent claims of plagiarism, and seemingly added more. The trouble is, he really did not understand what they were doing. As a result, he had over 100 variables (estimated as I couldn't be bothered to count), all called things like a1, a2, b1, b2 etc. Clearly what had happened is that he was setting one variable, then reading the wrong one expecting it to have the correct value.

I asked him to go see his lecturer. Not sure if he ever did.

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Eighteen year old server trumped by functional 486 fleet!

Stuart Castle

Thankfully, I've been given permission to decomission the oldest server I support. It's a Power PC based Mac Pro, running OSX server. It was originally used as a host to our Mac deployment management system, and also provided a collaborative calendar for one of our departments.

The deployment stuff was moved to a newer, but still old, X serve years ago, but we could never get the calendar working reliably on this, so we had to keep the old server running.

Still, that server has been running since 2005. Since that time, it's been down for maybe 2 or 3 days. These have all been for software/patch installs or upgrades. It's never gone down by itself.

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Stuart Castle

That's the thing if you upgrade your PC continually rather than buying new.. The last time I bought a new PC for home was for my degree work in 1994. I bought an Escom 486 (IIRC) running OS2. I've upgraded and changed bits since then, and although the PC now bears no resemblance to the one I bought (I've changed everything at least once, even the power cord when the insulation was damaged), I've done it bit by bit and never bought a new PC to replace it. Note: This is not the same PC. I'm not trying to re-enact that Only Fools and Horses scene where Trigger boasts he has the same broom and it's only had three new heads and four handles. The PC currently has a Core i5, 16 gig of RAM and several Terabytes of SATA storage, so is a little more powerful than the 486 I bought.

I've bought a laptop for work, and a Macbook when that died, but that's it.

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Dick limps towards inglorious end: Gadget retailer on the brink

Stuart Castle

Re: JB HiFi killed them?

Glad to see that PC World in the UK isn't the only place that employs staff like that.

My ex-boss had an (admittedly weird) PC that only had SCSI on board (no IDE, and it was before SATA was around). His HDD died while he was doing some important work. Thankfully he had backups, but obviously needed the HDD to get the PC running. So, he drove down to the local PC World and was told they didn't stock SCSI HDDs as SCSI was a dead technology. We went up Tottenham Court Road in London (which was then a good place to go for tech) and had a new HDD within a few minutes.

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The Police Chief's photo library mixed business, pleasure and flesh

Stuart Castle

Indexing

I was only a lowly admin assistant, but as I knew a little about computers I wad called in to deal with this.

One of the PAs was having trouble. She was PA to my manager's manager, so I got sent in quickly. She was a lovely lady, and had come up with a novel solution to DOSs 8 character file name limit. She numbered all the files, then created a document in WordPerfect to act as an index.. That file had, of course, corrupted and she, of course, had no backups..

Thankfully, after spending an afternoon mucking around with the disk, I was able to retrieve most of the document, but she still had to spend several days checking it was up to date..

When I had finished, I had the pleasure of reminding both her and her manager of the importance of good and up to date backups..

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Drunk? Need a slash? Avoid walls in Hackney

Stuart Castle

Re: Really, Slash?

re : Here "trump" is slang for a noisy fart.

Actually, that's quite a fitting description for him. Also, it's presumably the reason you don't see his perfume in the shops (http://www.trump.com/merchandise/trump-fragrance/) much..

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Reg reader escapes four-month lightning-struck Windows Vista farm nightmare

Stuart Castle

Sounds like a typical manager who knows a little about computers and thinks he knows a lot more.. I've had managers like that. Ended up doing a lot of unecessary work because of one (three months of re-entering data that he accidentally deleted with no back up).

That company ran their "IT infrastructure" on an elderly IBM AT with several dumb terminals wired into it.

Another company expected me to do some quite heavy duty number crunching using Lotus 123 on a 286 with 1 meg of ram while our manager had a (then) state of the art 486 with 4 meg of RAM that he only every seemed to play minesweeper on..

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BBC bypasses Linux kernel to make streaming videos flow

Stuart Castle

Re: This is why I love the bbc

"I have written to them on these subjects and have received a polite but firm reply to the effect that "We do not support Linux" Presumably not because it's too difficult but that they see no future in supporting the OS, yet they use the thing themselves."

There is a marked difference between using something internally and supporting it for external users.

Writing the client is not only the easy part, it's also the smallest. They would need to test it (both internally and externally). This would need to be done far more thoroughly than any tools used internally and may divert resources from supporting the iplayer infrastructure.. Then they would have to train up any support personnel and create documentation for publishing online. All for an OS that apparently accounts for 1.74% of users (source:https://www.netmarketshare.com/operating-system-market-share.aspx?qprid=10&qpcustomd=0) and at a time when the BBC is under pressure to cut costs.

An example of this in commerce. Pixar are famous not only for creating a lot of very successful movies, but also creating and selling the Renderman software they used to render those movies.. They have also written a lot of other tools, none of which will ever be released. The reason? They do not have the resources required to fully test these tools and support them, and they don't think it's worth their while investing in the resources.

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As US$12bn is wiped off Apple's value in one day, iOS 9, OS X 10.11 and Watch OS 2 dates set

Stuart Castle

Re: Bubble bursting

From what I understand about Steve Jobs he wasn't technically that great, but he was able to push those around him to innovate, and he had a good eye for what future technology would sell. He wasn't a particularly nice boss, but he rewarded those who did their jobs well.

Remember things Apple have achieved under his leadership.. First relatively cheap all in one computer (the Apple II). First commercially available computer with a GUI (Lisa). First relatively cheap commercially available computer with a GUI (Macintosh). They were also (I believe) the first company to introduce full WiFi support across their range, as well as the first company to move away from floppy disks.

Apparently, the Apple II having an internal power supply was a major breakthrough as (at the time) no power supply small enough to fit in the case could provide anywhere near enough power for the computer.

I am not saying Steve Jobs achieved those things himself. He didn't. The technicians and engineers under him did.

Apple, under Tim Cook, does not seem to be innovating so much. The have improved the products they had, made them thinner and faster, while improving battery life (if appropriate), but where are the products that have the "wow" factor that the first iMac, iPod, iPhone or iPad had? Even the Macbook air, while a laptop (and therefore hardly anything new) had it's "wow" moment when Steve Jobs pulled it out of an a4 envelope.

I don't think it's only Apple though. Every new generation of every mobile device is the same as the previous one, just with more memory, a faster CPU, better graphics and a better camera. There's no real "wow" there. While Google do have some new devices with the "Wow" factor (like Glass), there is the added creepy factor that seemingly everything Google do is intended to track it's users.

Personally, with Apple, I'd like to see them move away from making things thinner and offer things like memory card support. With the laptops, I'd like to see them back away from the SSDs a little and offer HDDs to those of us who need more storage as much as we need battery life and speed of access.

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Hawking, Musk, Woz (and Riley): ROBOTS will KILL US ALL

Stuart Castle

I think Lewis missed the point.

I don't think the likes of Hawking and Musk are concerned about the fact that today's weapons can pick a target then guide themselves to that target without human intervention. I daresay they are aware of that (hell, Musk has been working with Nasa, so could well have military connections he wouldn't be allowed to broadcast. These weapons don't (AFAIK) generally launch without SOME human intervention, even if it's just a human telling them to launch.

I think what they are concerned about is giving that launch authority to a machine, so it can decide to attack people based upon it's own, arbitrary conditions. I don't know their full capabilities, but can today's missile systems go from being stood down (or however they normally are during peace time) to launch without any human intervention at all?

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Travel back to the 19-Z80s this weekend

Stuart Castle

Re: check the display - the 256 TC really is a time-machine, isn't it ?-)

"There were *lots* of Y2K bugs. The bulk of the real Y2K effort was in making sure that they didn't live to see the 21st century."

Indeed, and it's a testament to the skill of the people involved in correcting them that we were not badly affected by those bugs.

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'Web brothel' CEO, staff cuffed on prostitution rap – clue: the website is called Rentboy.com

Stuart Castle

Re: a simple solution to illegal prostitution

I think it's more an indication of the frankly bizarre attitude a lot of people (American mainly, but some here as well) have to life. They are happy to see (or use) guns and things that end life, but show (or offer them) something that has to do with creating life, and they object..

Think about it. Hollywood turns out endless TV shows and films where they show people being killed in all sorts of ways, and they are happy to show the weapons that kill the people, but on the few occasions someone has dared show a female nipple, the country has gone into uproar. I remember when Janet Jackson showed a (mostly covered) nipple during the Superbowl. The country was in uproar and the republicans (rather ironically bearing in mind they broadly support guns and my above statement) asked questions in Congress about it.

Don't get me wrong. I like action movies and TV shows, and I like to watch s**t get blown up, but I generally don't understand the attitude that it's OK to almost worship acts that end life, but express shock and horror at an act that (let's face it) has a primary purpose of creating life.

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Spotify climbs down on new terms and conditions

Stuart Castle

"I don't see what the big deal is? Yes, they could have been a little bit more transparent about why they wanted the permissions in the first place"

Personally, I'd be interested to find out why they need access to my friends' phone numbers and my photos.

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Boss hands dunce's cap to chap who turned off disk monitor

Stuart Castle

A friend told me this story a few years ago.

It was back in the days of Windows 3.1, so Windows actually didn't do very much to protect itself against abuse..

The aforementioned friend worked for a small budget software house, and they were working on a football game. They had a reputation of development cheap, low budget game. To give you an idea of the kind of money they spent on development, the soundtrack to each match (which the packaging made a big thing of it being digitised) consisted of the CEO and his PA cheering, then shouting "Palace" in one corner of his office. That sample was used whether Crystal Palace were one of the teams in the match or not.

Apparently, the CEO called my friend one morning to say his machine wouldn't start properly. When my friend got in (he couldn't drive, so had to get a bus which took a while), he booted the machine from a floppy. As far as he could work out, the boss had stored all his documents in the Windows folder on the C drive. He'd decided to have a clear out, and someone showed him the "del *.*" command, so he happily ran it on the Windows folder. Obviously he had no backups of any description.

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Hack a garage and the car inside with a child's toy and a few chips

Stuart Castle

Re: Well...

"The hack has a problem though. It's one thing to open garage door in the middle of nowhere - and the quicker the better."

If yours was the car that was stolen as a result of weak security, it would not matter to you whether it was the only one, or one of a thousand.

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Has Microsoft saved the Apple Watch with Outlook improvement?

Stuart Castle

Re: Hidden Agenda or no Agenda

It's worth pointing out that a lot of people (whether through choice or force) do use Exchange (and pretty much by default, Outlook) to keep track of their appointments..

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Vodafone adopts hydrogen fuel cells to dodge African outages

Stuart Castle

Re: but with an eye to CO2 emissions Vodafone is keen to reduce the use of diesel.

"This part sounds like geenwash bollocks. Fossil fuels are the dominant source of industrial hydrogen."

Not to mention the need for some sort of vehicle to distribute the fuel cells, which would obviously need fuel itself.

Surely if they were being totally green, they'd have gone for Solar power? It's not as if South Africa lacks sunlight.

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BBC veterans require skilled hands to massage their innards

Stuart Castle

I doubt it's just a case of bung a few chips on a PCB. For a start, I suspect many of the parts used by the BBC are no longer produced. As such, you would need to find fabrication plants both willing and able to product those parts, which would be expensive, especially for a short run, even assuming they could do it.

Then there is the assembly of the computer itself and testing. That is not going to be cheap.

And I haven't even mentioned securing the rights to reproduce all these parts, and the computer itself, from the various manufacturers (assuming they still exist), which will also not be cheap.

I suspect that if someone thought it feasible to do this, they already would have.

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Five data centres you can't live without

Stuart Castle
WTF?

Why is it odd? Amazon is split up into business units, and I daresay the unit running AWS isn't in competition with Netflix. Also, as noted above, Netflix will have Service level agreements with Amazon that will protect the service, and both the EU and the US are likely to slap Amazon should they use any insider access to damage the Netflix service in any way. In much the same way as the UK Government or EU would probably intervene if Virgin Media blocked access to Sky's online services.

Another thing to consider: Netflix will be paying a lot of money to use Amazon's service. This means that regardless of who offers the most popular On demand service out of Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video, Amazon will profit..

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'Fix these Windows 10 Horrors': Readers turn their guns on Redmond

Stuart Castle

Re: Mandatory updates

"Without the ability to control updates, what happens when an update breaks an app and stops the business running? If I can't roll back an update, "

The business version of Windows 10 does allow a sysadmin to block updates. Not saying Microsoft have done this out of concern for the small business though, I suspect it was more that they didn't want to have to deal with the fallout when an enforced update takes out half the computers of a massive multinational company.

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The Breakfast (Table) of Champions: Micro Machines

Stuart Castle

I think it is the simple formula that makes MM so enjoyable, and I don't think any update (whether it has the Micro Machines licence or not) should tinker with it. Too many games have tried to add a back story and in the process messed up the simplicity that made the game so enjoyable.. Thinking particularly of Battleships here, although the story wasn't added for a game, more so they could get a movie out of it.

Don't get me wrong: I like a game with a good story, but I also like a game where you can just go in and do something, like race. I also like games where, if you are in the mood, you can totally ignore the story and just go in and blow shit up. GTA and Saints Row are particularly good for this. Micro Machines had no real story, it was was just about having fun.

I would like to see it with updated graphics though. I might check out that other top down racer mentioned in the article..

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IoT DANGERS: BYOD’s trashier cousin becoming a right tearaway

Stuart Castle

Re: Suggestion

" Why not operate two separate networks in a house with an IOT network and another for your computers etc were the more sensitive data is."

Some routers (e.g. the newer Linksys ones) already offer something that could be used for this. They offer a guest network on the WiFi, which is blocked from accessing resources on the main network.

This does have a couple of problems though. One being that not all devices have WiFi, and it can be quite an expensive add on.

The other problem is that some devices (such as Smart TVs and smart thermostats) need access to the main network. Lets be honest, a lot of people don't buy a Smart TV because they can look at facebook on it, or to watch Youtube. They will probably use the On Demand services (such as iPlayer, Netflix etc), but they are likely to be using it a lot to view the collection of dodgy copies of TV shows they have stored on their computer. The problem for Smart Thermostats (and other smart devices, such as smart plugs) is that they are often controlled by an app, which would obviously need a way to both find the devices, and connect to them. Neither of which is going to happen if one network is separated from the other, unless the device and the app both connect to an external webservice, in which case you lose the advantage given by separation..

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Sydney adopts 'world's first' e-ink parking signs

Stuart Castle

Re: Fantastic!

"The article says they are "equipped with mobile broadband", I'm a little surprised at this, I would have thought that zigbee/z-wave or similar would have been lower power or even better some kind of MW carrier because the data requirement is low and the update periods are probably very long.

"

The advantage, from a cost point of view, of mobile broadband (or even SMS which doesn't need broadband and would probably suffice) is that it's cheaper to install as the infrastructure is probably already there.

This, I believe, is why the "next bus" displays in London (which TFL call Countdown) use existing mobile networks rather than zigbee or z-wave. if they'd have gone for Zigbee, z-wave or MW, they'd have to maintain their own infrastructure and, in the case of MW, there may be licencing hurdles to get over. By using the mobile networks, they've bypassed all that as the operator has already installed the infrastructure and already has licences for the frequencies their network uses.

And, would the power savings be that great? Bearing in mind that a simple mobile phone (ie not smart) can run for several days on a small battery, the current used to connect a digital sign to a broadband network is likely to be a fraction of the current required to run the sign (or even light it at night).

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Want longer battery life? Avoid the New York Times and The Grauniad

Stuart Castle

Re: and the same tests done with

"would be great to see this as a little browser add-on, how power hungry is this website. scored 1-100"

It would be a good idea, but it may be difficult to get accurate readings unless the OS actually makes power consumption figures available to developers. I know OSX (recent versions) tracks this, but I don't know if the readings are made available to developers through an API. I don't know if Windows or Linux even track this, let alone make it available to developers. The browser would also need to enable access to this information but would also need to track what it is doing in each tab. For instance, looking purely at the power usage by each process (which is what the OS would see), you would not get accurate power usage information for a largely text based site if you had a browser window or tab open in the background showing a flash movie.

Don't get me wrong. This info may already be available via the browsers. If it isn't, it should be.

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Apple Watch is such a flop it's the world's top-selling wearable

Stuart Castle

Re: Who actually wears a watch anymore? And why?

I have a Pebble (the old black and white one).

I wear it because if you are seen with an expensive item (such as a phone) in some of the places I travel through, you are likely to be attacked.

The Pebble enables me to see the time, and notifications from my phone while I keep the phone securely elsewhere.

Not sure I'd feel the same way about an Apple Watch though..

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Windows 10 Edge: Standards kinda suck yet better than Chrome?

Stuart Castle

Re: They should keep IE, but simplify it for its most common use

Or they could offer a choice, you know, like the Browser Choice screen? Not everyone likes Chrome.

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The roots go deep: Kill Adobe Flash, kill it everywhere, bod says

Stuart Castle

There seem to be a group of writers at El Reg who appear to have something against Flash Player. I see the same names cropping up again and again in articles condemning it as a bug ridden pile of hurt. I'm not saying Flash Player isn't a bug ridden pile of hurt. It is, and I would gladly get rid of it if I didn't have to use it to log on to the admin console for one of our VM clusters. Java, which seems to be largely ignored by the same people, is also a bug ridden pile of hurt..

I know that El Reg has never even pretended to be a balanced news source, but this is getting ridiculous.

And you are right. Mozilla have not announced they are dumpling Flash, merely disabling it by default, which is a good thing. Those who want flash animations to play can have them, but everyone else does not have to. I think other vendors should be doing the same, whatever product the flash movie is embedded within.

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Samsung, Oppo collared in smartphone bloatware probe

Stuart Castle

Re: I took a stand against bloatware a while ago

Sorry to spoil your sarcasm, but while Apple do include bloatware with their devices (thinking particularly of the Stocks and Apple Watch apps here), they include a lot less than most other companies, and also do not allow the mobile phone networks to include their own.

I still shudder when I think of the pink, white and grey colour scheme used by the dialer T mobile forced me to use on my old HTC tytn 2, and how long it took the f**king thing to respond when I dared use it to dial.

Even the Nokia N95 that replaced it rarely got updates as they had to be OK'd by the network before we could install them (which stopped happening once O2 had another phone to push).

That's a few of the things I like about my iPhone. I know that it's going to be supported for at least 2 years after release (my Nokia received updates for 1), and possibly more. I also know I will get those updates on the day Apple release them (no waiting for a network release that may never come) and I know that the network will not be allowed to install any bloatware on top of the minimal amount of bloatware already installed by Apple.

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'The server broke and so did my back on the flight to fix it'

Stuart Castle

"The system came up and said it couldn't find a boot disk, but hey, there's a hard drive here would you like to format it?"

Hmmm, I may be misreading this here, but I have several years experience with Mac, both on OS and OSX, and both Client and Server side. I've never once had a Mac offer to format the boot disk.In fact OSX will prevent you formatting the boot disk, at least from the GUI.

That's not to say you can't do some monumentally stupid stuff with it (mucking up the network connection while connected remotely is a favourite of mine, and something I've also managed in Windows).

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Setting up a new Mac (Apple ID, iCloud, spyware, etc)

Stuart Castle

You don't need an apple id to download updates for the OS and certain apps (e.g. Safari, Preview, iTunes). You will need it to download updates for other apps and suites, such as the iWork suite.

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Auto-playing video ads? People love auto-playing video ads – Twitter

Stuart Castle

While I realise they probably won't see this, I'll just say this:

"Twitter, if you are so convinced people will love to see autoplayed videos and ads, are you going to ask on first launch whether your users want the videos and ads to autoplay?"

That, to me, would indicated they actually do think people want it. If they just offer an option to disable it, even if they blatantly advertise how to disable it, that is, to me, implying they don't think people will opt to watch the ads.

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Fire, fire! Just move your data centre onto my lawn ... Oh rats!

Stuart Castle

Re: Power of Three

"All BC is a cost/benefit analysis. "

It is, and that is some a lot of people forget. How likely is a disruption? How likely is it that your primary systems will be disrupted at the same time as your backup systems? How much will any disruption cost? How will any disruption impact the business? How much will maintaining (potentially multiple) backup systems cost?

It reminds me of an old Jasper Carrot joke about a shop using £60,000 of CCTV and security equipment to protect £25 worth of Smarties.

The solution is easier if you are a massive international corporation as they are likely to know exactly how much they will lose due to primary systems going down, and it is likely to be considerably more than maintaining backup systems that may not be used 95% of the time.

I was talking to someone who manages security at a major bank (won't say which one, but they are large world wide, just not one of the big four here). In the last few years, they moved out of their old UK headquarters in to a new one. They are still maintaining their old UK headquarters though (even though the building is not used), purely as a backup so the bank can carry on trading in the event something happens that takes out their new HQ.

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The watts in a box that kept West London's lights on

Stuart Castle

Do you have proof that they wouldn't provide any help if it had happened outside London? Bear in mind that if UKPN and the power companies do their jobs right, most people would not even be aware the problem was serious enough to warrant bringing in generators, assuming they are aware of a problem at all?

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Science teacher jammed his school kids' phones, gets week suspension

Stuart Castle

Re: Why not fix the root cause of the problem?

And when someone walks by needing to make an urgent call and is unaware the signal is being jammed? OK, you could put signs up in the building where the jammer is, but radio signals do have a habit of penetrating walls, so can quite easily leave a building. The jamming signal may stop at the building wall. It might also prevent mobile reception within a several hundred metre radius. It might even, as this jammer did, take out a cell tower, in which case, it will affect reception for (potentially) several miles. Would you be willing to cover half your town with signs?

Jamming is not a good answer. What is a good answer is to educate people to use their phones considerately.

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Stuart Castle

Re: In the 1970's

I had a teacher that could, without turning away from the board, detect almost any form of communication between pupils then throw a chalk at (and usually hit) the person who initiated the communication. In a way, it was almost cool as it was like a superpower, but we learned quickly to not attempt any communication as it was also painful.

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Stuart Castle

Re: Faraday cage...

Goot idea in theory.. In practice, there's the slight problem of planning permission and the cost of refitting the room(s). Not to mention permission from the school.

It would be something the school may be able to implement, but the teacher almost certainly wouldn't be able to.

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Elon Musk's $4.9 BEELLLION taxpayer windfall revealed

Stuart Castle

Re: Comparing with a 'competitive' project

I think the problem NASA has is that the US started it's space program as part of a huge, very expensive, cold war pissing contest with the USSR. The US government would throw any amount of money into the programme as long as it kept delivering goals before the Ruskies.

As such, when the USSR collapsed, so did the US government's interest in beating them, and a lot of the funding dried up.

In the meantime, the various companies involved in the space programme got used to being given massive amounts of money. Companies in this position tend to be a little more relaxed about cutting costs. A lot of companies also assume that because something is government funded, the government won't bother checking the figures, so charge what they want. Believe me, I have experienced this, having worked in our local hospital and taken an interest in actively checking the figures.

Don't get me wrong, I am not criticising the US Space programme. It helped pave the way for massive advancements in technology (including computers) that we are arguably enjoying the fruits of now, and I suspect that SpaceX are also able to use them to reduce costs.

On to Elon Musk, I think $4.9bn is actually relatively cheap when you consider the potential benefits to mankind of what he has already delivered. Tesla has made massive advances in Electric vehicles, and particularly battery tech, many of which they have effectively open sourced. They have also increased sales of electric cars, which should reduce the sales of fossil fuel based cars, and thus (assuming they are charged by electricity from a renewable source) reduce pollution significantly. He has also effectively rebooted the US space programme, or enabled NASA to do so.

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Creationist: The Flintstones was an accurate portrayal of Dino-human coexistence

Stuart Castle

How many sources?

"Ken Ham, an Australian young-Earth creationist, says he is on the verge of proving that dinosaurs and humans coexisted only a couple of thousand years ago."

This sounds like he has started the investigation by looking for evidence to prove his conclusion. This is not good science. For the science to be good, he would have to have started his investigation with (at least) the view he may be wrong, or (at most) a determination to look at the evidence to work out his conclusion based on that. Either way, he should have gone into it with an open mind.

Of course, a good scientist is also ready to have his or her conclusions (however they reached them) questioned and even proved wrong. This is something a lot of religious people are not ready for.

Be interesting to see what (if anything) happens when(if) the paper is published.

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