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* Posts by petboy

34 posts • joined 15 Dec 2011

My HOUSE used to be a PUB: How to save the UK high street

petboy

Re: A missed opportunity

Yes, there is also the "InPost" company now who have parcel lockers, totally automated. I needed to post a parcel at 2130 on a Sunday. Went to their site, printed off the label, nipped up the road to the local set of lockers and popped it in. Arrived first thing Tuesday morning without any hassle for me at all.

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Programming Office 365: Hands On with Microsoft's new APIs

petboy

It's interesting that there seems to be an implicit assumption that because this is Microsoft, everyone will fall over themselves to use it "It is inevitable that if Microsoft sustains the momentum behind Office 365, there will be increasing demand for mobile apps that integrate with the service."

Demand from whom? Sensible developers will see the new Microsoft standard of half-baked documentation; missing code from samples and non-working "features". They will then run a mile, or at least quote based on the effort required to wade through the morass - and add a huge maintenance fee to cover the inevitable failures that will occur as Microsoft flings more mud at the wall in the hope some might stick.

"The Business" might "demand" integrated mobile apps, but it is likely to have a heart attack when presented with the price tag to produce them.

This said from a twenty-year Microsoft veteran who has watched it become ever harder to produce a working application on the Microsoft stack ...

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Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know

petboy

Which Google self-driving cars are modified Ford Fusions? The original Toyota Priuses, or the newer Lexus rx450h? Genuinely interested if they have switched allegiance ...

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BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff

petboy

The rare earths are also, ironically, not that rare :-)

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EE dismisses DATA-BURNING glitch with Orange Mail app

petboy

Happened to my mum too - she burned through £60 of top ups (about five years' worth, for her) before I took a look. Now on Vodafone ... and watching it like a hawk.

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Morrisons supermarket hit by MASSIVE staff payroll data robbery

petboy

Re: By payroll data

Well no, Morrisons provide their own data. If you check the first link you'll see the Oracle system was implemented by Wipro

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petboy

Re: By payroll data

Oracle provides Morrison's payroll (via Wipro) - http://www.wipro.com/Documents/MORRISONS%20CASE%20STUDY-final(curve).pdf

http://www.computerweekly.com/news/2240106307/Former-Whitbread-CIO-joins-Morrisons-as-IT-transformation-director

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Microsoft claims victory over second-hand software broker

petboy

But they are committed to saving us from the risks. Any business with half a brain will look at this case, the Microsoft T&Cs and the veiled threat from Microsoft and immediately use someone else's software instead.

The Microsoft Spokesman didn't specify *how* Microsoft was aiming to protect us ...

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UK.gov: NO MORE tech deals bigger than £100m. Unless we feel like it

petboy

Re: Is this the first time that ...

Thanks for the long post, but you mention "stood up this team in a week". That rather implies a total lack of planning - on the part of the customer, or on the part of the supplier?

I presume your 300-table database was only one tiny component of the system BTW?

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El Reg's contraptions confessional no.3: the Apple G4 Cube

petboy

Re: Bloody British 3 pin mains plugs.

It's worth pointing out, however, that the British plug design had a great deal of thought put into it.

For example, the sockets have shields so that children cannot put their finger in - the designers actually tested it.

The shield and socket system means the plug won't go live until the earth prong is connected (whether that is wired up inside the plug of course is out of the socket's control, this is just a physical connection!)

UK plugs can't be pulled out by the lead - you have to exert significant force to overcome the friction, and that applies in every direction. Anyone who has tripped over a US lead and found it flying out the socket will understand how frustrating that can be ...

So yes, a bit big and clunky but when they were designed electrical appliances were fixed installations.

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Visual Studio 2013: 50 Shades of Grey not a worry for MONSTER dev TOOL

petboy

Re: I Confess

"Executive summary: The world does not work on VS20xx developed code and is not likely to -- ever. We need better tools."

If I could upvote this more I would. Those of us old enough to have written code in the days when memory was measured in Kilobytes are often ignored by the cool new kidz.

Android 4.4 requires nearly 2Gb of storage just for itself and "should" run in 512 Mb of RAM. We stand in awe at how "modern phones have more processing power than a 1990s mainframe". But ignore that all that power is sucked up just running an email client.

I can recall the days of VB6, being able to sit with a business user and bash out a quick-and-dirty application for them more or less in real time then walk away with confidence it would keep working.

No, we didn't have deep Computer Science constructs such as generics, delegates or lambda functions. But for 95% of Line-of-Business applications being able to bang it out in a week won over spending three months designing a beautifully pure architecturally perfect platform. Yes, there were times I was knee deep in VB6 code and wished I'd written it in Java, or C++ for that matter. But there were plenty of other times when the speed of connecting everything up and plugging in a tiny bit of business logic *while the user who needed it was there* made me much happier.

Good programmers write good code no matter what language they are using - bad programmers can make a mess in C#, F#, Erlang ...

Today we not only have gigantic frameworks, but the prevalence of the internet means it's nigh on impossible to have confidence your code will work, keep working, and deploy nicely to a new server too. If it's not Patch Tuesday tripping something up, it's a minor undocumented glitch buried somewhere deep in the recesses of the millions of lines of code on top of which your three text boxes and a button app sits. Anyone who tells you every single deployment they have made with .net went without a hitch has either been amazingly lucky; is a genius who has someone psychically absorbed all the workarounds required for various non-working pieces of the framework; or has only written tiny simple "example code" systems.

The people who comment that no-one should take 20 minutes to compile an application seem unaware that the world has been in recession since 2007.

A former employer has staff still using 2006-era machines. Hard to justify buying new shiny-shiny when staff are being ushered out the door to the dole queue.

But customers still want their new systems, so the poor programmer has to run at least VS2010 on a wheezing 2-4Gb Core2Something. Should the coder need a fire-breather of a new machine with "more processing power than a Cray" just to create a tiny little tool that makes querying someone's database easier? Probably not.

It is the pareto effect at work - as the old joke goes, 80% of problems can be solved with duct tape and WD40. But as programmers we have a horrible tendency to dismantle the entire house just to fix a light switch.

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SR-71 Blackbird follow-up: A new TERRIFYING Mach 6 spy-drone bomber

petboy

Re: Remember battlecrusiers?

"'Speed is Life' - The Israeli Air Force"

All pilots say that. Stop moving and you stop flying as your wings stop generating lift (*)

The second part of the saying is " and Altitude is life insurance". Since you can convert height to speed by diving (i.e. gliding if the engine stops).

That isn't to say it doesn't also hold true for avoiding the missiles of course as if you are high and fast then the interceptor has to go a long way both vertically and laterally in order to close with you.

However, as radars operate line of sight if you cruise along at 100,000 feet you are making it very easy for the enemy to spot you coming from a long long way. So they have plenty of time to get their missile to the same altitude.

The U-2 incident was a nasty shock as no-one thought the Soviets had updated their WWII lend-lease radar units to see above 60,000 feet. Turns out they had and in fact, today you can't get high enough to avoid detection. Hence the old idea of hugging the ground to use the "line of sight" limitation on the radar - it can't see round the curvature of the earth. But an AWACS can. As can a satellite if you are hoofing along at Mach 6 leaving a thermal trail visible from space. In fact, this aircraft would almost certainly be bright enough to trip ICBM launch detection satellites.

So unfortunately there is no altitude at which the aircraft can avoid being detected from several hundred miles away.

That means you only hope is to be travelling so fast there isn't time to put a missile in the air.

Unfortunately there are already claimed Mach-12 missiles out there (The S-400, http://www.dtig.org/docs/S-300_Familie.pdf).

Since space launch requires around Mach 25, a Mach 12 SAM is not unreasonable even if its performance has been slightly exaggerated. More importantly with 20 years to get ready, taking a Mach 25 ICBM and converting it to a SAM is not going to be a huge stretch.

So we have an aircraft which is visible around half an hour before it arrives overhead and is flying at about between one half to one quarter the speed of any intercepting missile.

I wouldn't bank on gaining any useful intelligence from it ...

(*) Unless the wings themselves are doing the moving, i.e. a helicopter

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Borland's heir Embarcadero says one dev tool can rule them all

petboy

Yep, if there is no indication of pricing then given the press release comments about "taking the hit" it's going to be way more than £10000.

Even an MSDN Universal licence has a price tag online.

Given that as I type this there are adverts for developers offering only £18k p.a. (and presumably people to bite or else the salary would quickly change) then the overwhelming probability is that it will be cheaper to hire extra developers for each specific platform. Even if the coders aren't that good, they will probably work as well as an "automatic" quad-platform converter ...

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Microsoft cans three 'pinnacle' certifications, sparking user fury

petboy
Coat

Re: What the Frack!

Well, just to give the official answer rather than having things swing back and forth.

Unless you hold a Masters Degree in Engineering, followed by at least five years' of Professional Development and Experience and then pass an assessment by a panel then you aren't going to be granted the status of Chartered Engineer by the Engineering Council.

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Osbo jacks up spending on spooks to keep us safe from TERROR

petboy

Re: I'm a big fan of the security industrial complex, but...

Er, surely Mr Franklin rebelled against the Government of the day and therefore was, as they say "a freedom fighter". That he happened to win is why he is remembered as a "Founding Father" and not a "Rebel Martyr".

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Scramjet X-51 finally goes to HYPER SPEED above Pacific

petboy

Can be recalled?

The bootnote points out that an ICBM would be cheaper and already exists.

However, an ICBM once launched is impossible to recall. At a certain point you can't even initiate self-destruct (like when there is a plasma sheath preventing radio communications ...)

This sort of weapon could be launched at the first sign of trouble but give the politicians an extra 30-45 minutes of negotiation time during which it can still be "called off". Which may be all that is needed. Depending on the situation, the simple launch of such a vehicle may be sufficient to resolve it.

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How much will Google pay to bring fiber to Provo, Utah? Try $1

petboy

Re: Legal oddity.

A contract is only valid if there is a "consideration", i.e. a payment. [Okay, that's a simplification but close enough]

Standard law in UK and US - hence lots of things in the UK are "sold for a pound" (and I don't mean at Pound Saver type shops!).

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'Not even Santa could save Microsoft's Windows 8'

petboy
Thumb Up

Re: How things have changed....

Agree completely about Microsoft's loss of direction for developers.

They seem to be throwing a rising volume of half-finished development "platforms" out the door at a frantic pace hoping that one will stick. The forums are full of people asking how to get XYZ framework to function, or wondering why a call that works in "A" fails on "B" even though they appear identical. The days when Microsoft had a reputation for "making it easy" are long gone - it's now the same sort of "Knife and fork the install, then pray it hangs together" as the worst flaky platforms of the past. Add to the that the predilection for dumping anything which doesn't grow as fast as the Ballmer bully wants ... Silverlight has managed to go from "next big thing" through "wunderkid" to "deprecated" in the blink of an eye.

It is not just annoying, but also deeply worrying. As programmers we cannot "just switch" to Java, or gtk C++, or whatever. It would take time and effort - and a degree of fudging on the CV.

Right now it would be a very brave professional who decided to bet their career on sticking with "the Microsoft. way"

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Rocket 'Grasshopper' leaps higher than tall building in single bound

petboy

Navigation Budget

I see some people have pointed out the difficulty of returning to the launch site, or the amount of fuel required to reach the landing site.

Has anyone got a link to the explanations by Musk regarding what the ultimate plan is? Logically you would time separation such that the returning booster could simply go ballistic with gravity doing the work. Aim for one of the Shuttle alternate landing sites such as the one in Spain. That would minimise the fuel required

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Musk's SpaceX gets foot in door of US secret 'black' space program

petboy

Re: USAF?

The weather can seriously affect the military, even today.

The "Battle of the Bulge" was primarily because low cloud and rain prevent Allied aircraft from operating and gave the Wehrmacht an opportunity to deploy its forces effectively for the first time in months.

Most of the attempts to invade Russia have foundered when encountering the, er, delightful winter conditions.

Even today, low cloud will blind many sensors; rain will make the infantry miserable; sandstorms can destroy electro-optical equipment etc.

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Revealed: The gift that keeps on giving to Oracle ... is dying

petboy

Re: No one ever got fired for choosing to stick with Oracle...

"It's like when an ISV goes "oh we support Oracle or SQL Server" and I think "why? Shouldn't you have focused your efforts on a single database? If you can support those two then can you support postgres or mysql? I'm concerned..."

No reason to be concerned. If you tell customers that you support Oracle, SQL, postgres and MySql that means that each release needs to be tested on ... Oracle, SQL, postgres and MySql. Your support staff need to know their way around ... Oracle, SQL, postgres and MySQL. Your implementation team need to be trained up on and aware of the differences between ... Oracle, SQL, postgres and MySQL. And so on.

Add in that you need to support multiple versions of each database (SQL2005, 2008, 2008R2, 2012; 64-bit and 32-bit) and each new platform massively increases the size of your lab.

A large Enterprise application can take weeks to test each build, even with automated tools. If you move from supporting two platforms to four then you move your release cycle out by months. I know this from when we used to support Three different platforms. Reducing that to only supporting Two cut our overheads by roughly 50% (not 33%).

It is not just a case of "a database is a database", even if you have been careful not to use any platform-specific features (in which case your system will perform like a dog). With one product we went to the extent of coding *Foreign Key Relationships" into the middleware in order to avoid the overhead of supporting different methods on different platforms (one of the platforms in that case didn't do proper RDMS - this was many years ago). Even stripping back the database to be more like a set of name-value pairs, supporting the multiple versions and platforms was *still* a major headache.

So next time your ISV says they only support one or two platforms, have a think about how much testing and support you can expect on a product from a vendor which doesn't care what platform you use ...

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Why did Comet fail? Hint: It wasn't just the credit insurers

petboy
Happy

Re: news to me

Which Nimrods would they be then? The ones that were cut up for scrap or the ones that are now in museums?

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Gates: Microsoft will merge Phone and Windows platforms

petboy

Painfully obvious that MS are starting panic - wheel out Bill to boost Windows 8 and Windows Phone which are both sinking before they even ship.

It's worth noting that in the early years of the 21st Century Microsoft did come close to winning the Mobile OS race. Psion walked away, Palm never got to grips with Smartphones and Symbian took a long while to never-quite-make-it. Windows CE/Mobile found its way into a *lot* of devices.

Unfortunately Microsoft crippled this nascent Smartphone dominance by insisting that they wanted a common UI across PC and phone. So Windows Mobile was lumbered with a "Start" button, task bar and everything being driven by the stylus and tiny little icons/menus/etc. Which left the way wide open for Apple & Android who had "touch friendly" UI from the start.

Now Microsoft are going in the opposite direction and crippling their PC operating system by insisting on making it like a Phone.

You have to laugh.

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Endeavour: donuts and a Toyota ease shuttle's drive through L.A.

petboy

Re: Lightweight Pickup?

Half ton refers to the payload capacity.

But these days it is a marketing term only.

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iOS 6 Alarms bug hits Australia

petboy

Re: Spring forward?

Just consider what season it currently is in Australia ...

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Google offers tool to bridge Android and iOS app dev

petboy

Re: That's one way of doing it.

Is that the Unity 3D game engine thing (http://unity3d.com/unity/engine/programming)? Only reason I ask is because at first glance to a C# programmer "Unity" brings to mind the IoC container that Microsoft created : http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ff649564.aspx

What's your feeling on Xamarin's toolset (Mono/MonoTouch?)

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Airbus predicts catapult takeoffs and formation flying by 2050

petboy

Re: Burst ear drums

@ Alan "Whats next.. 'Sorry Sir, you can't fly. Your ear canals are too narrow to withstand quick pressure drops..'?"

Probably - if that is made part of the conditions of carriage, then you can't sue them so they will have zero legal fees or medical bills. Although how would a first time flier know? Medical before you are allowed to fly?

I rather suspect that the accountants can quickly work out whether the loss of income from people with difficulty equalising the pressure in their ears and deduce whether that is greater or lesser than the fuel savings from a steeper descent.

In fact, I would not be surprised to find there is already a disclaimer in the conditions of carriage - much as the airline can refuse to carry someone who is drunk, pregnant past a certain point etc.

Oh, and as for saving fuel by flying in formation - only if the computer is in charge. Anyone who has done any formation flying will be well aware that lead almost always lands with more fuel than everyone else - staying in position requires lots of throttle adjustments.

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Emotional baggage

petboy

I've used the 5.11 range of backpacks for a while. The "camelbak pocket" is perfect for a laptop (had a 17" in there). They are covered in MOLLE strips which means that I can add and remove extra bags as and when required. Can be easier than trying to find one bag that works for everything.

As for the A-level; similar to another poster I took one without any input from the school (they just entered me for the exam). Still passed at A grade (no A* in those days). I'd be inclined to order a Syllabus from the Exam Board and if it looks do-able you son could take the exam only.

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Devon NHS trust left data of 1,373 staff online for MONTHS

petboy

It's interesting how the thread seems to be that someone (albeit negligently) uploaded the file to the website and "should have known better".

Given the state of IT configuration in many organisations, it would not seem at all unlikely that there was simply an unsecured share on the webserver which was wide open (no DMZ, no firewall) to the internal network.

If, as a low level admin clerk, someone tells you "save that spreadsheet to \\thebigfileserver\myfileshares\" then you are hardly going to think "hmm, I wonder if one of the web team has created a path pointed at the file server and exposed it to the internet"?

Similarly, the web team may have been told "yes, we need a way to publish CSVs of waiting lists statistics in accordance with the government open data policy. Where can we put them" and created a share specifically for that purpose ... which just happened to be \\thebigfileserver ...

It's easy to see how this sort of thing falls through the cracks, when you have no proper separation of systems. So perhaps best not to just blame the staff?

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Code glitch floored Reg reader altimeter

petboy

Re: Arcane measurements

In aviation feet are still used for altitude in the UK, USA, NZ etc. All the Flight Levels are in Thousands of Feet (or, in fact "500s of feet" here)

The only places that use Metres to measure altitude are the former Eastern Bloc.

Yet, other than in the USA, the altimeters are set using hectoPascals (not millibars anymore ... same thing though!)

A bizarre mix!

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Man's car warns of AIR RAID OVER LONDON

petboy
WTF?

Re: Alternatively

" a cameraman tripping over a cable and falling further than they would under normal gravity"

Surely they will fall exactly the same distance - to the ground? It would just take longer to get there if the acceleration from gravity was lower?

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Iran spy drone GPS hijack boasts: Rubbish, say experts

petboy
Thumb Up

Interesting supposition that it is essential to prevent the drone losing GPS lock, as if there were a human on board who would think "that's strange, before we lost lock we were 14 miles from the coast of China, now it says we're 20 miles" (*)

Setting aside that it probably was incompetence, if an "attack" were to be made then It may well be enough to *force* a GPS loss-of-lock with any old jamming and then broadcast a fake Ephemeris at a higher strength than the actual signal.

If the receiver has not been programmed appropriately with how to handle a temporary loss of lock, it would happily start using the "reacquired" spoof signal and never know ...

Oh, by the way, I was under the impression that the military signal *was* encrypted, which lends credence to the "incompetence not conspiracy" angle.

(*) That was the plot of the Tomorrow Never Dies Bond film ... GPS spoofing by hacking the receiver itself I think ...

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Paul Allen latest plan: Space rockets on MEGA PLANE

petboy

@Kharkov

re: Market for 50 tonne objects too big to fit inside a 747/A380/An225 :

I must admit to having no idea!

Although I think the range is a very important part of the sale, if they are saying they can carry the 50 tonnes the entire 9600 nautical miles in one go (other aircraft in this calls have to trade fuel for payload I believe).

However, since they appear to have designed the "payload carrier" on a modular basis, it may be that it can carry more than 50 tonnes anyway if the payload is fixed rather than being launched; the weight limitation for the rocket could well be specific to things you plan to drop. There isn't enough information to be sure.

The modular approach also implies that they can build a bespoke fairing to suit anything, so awkward objects (e.g. oil rig derricks, bridge spans) can have a custom container. Could be a big as yet untapped market. Landing on the ice in Alaska perhaps?

We'll see ...

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petboy

Ongoing Revenue

Alternative Payload Range - 9600 nautical miles

Having found the above nugget on their website, I suspect *that* is from whence the revenue stream will come. 9600 nautical miles hauling an An-225 size payload is a massive USP (nothing else comes close).

The airborne launch is probably a side-show, given that "Big Dumb Booster" (e.g. Sea Bee) is a cheaper way to get the "launch from anywhere" benefits.

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