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* Posts by Richard Tobin

136 posts • joined 13 Aug 2007

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Apple Fanboi? Stand by to get Beats Music LIKE IT OR NOT

Richard Tobin

You'll NEVER FORGET about Dr Dre NOW

Who?

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MYSTERY Russian satellite: ORBITAL WEAPON? Sat GOBBLER? What?

Richard Tobin

It's obvious

Its purpose is to distract attention from the other secret satellite they sent up at the same time.

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DEATH fails to end mobile contract: Widow forced to take HUBBY's ASHES into shop

Richard Tobin

Bank accounts

Many couples have joint bank accounts, and these are not frozen when one partner dies.

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Post-pub nosh neckfiller: The MIGHTY Scotch egg

Richard Tobin

Re: What do they call them in Scotland?

We call them Scotch eggs. Your Scottish friends were exaggerating. The ordinary adjective is indeed "Scots" or "Scottish", but "Scotch" is used in various traditional terms like the whisky and the eggs. It's quite likely gone out of fashion because of the sneering way some English people use it.

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Richard Tobin

Better hot

"Scotch eggs are, of course, served cold." That seems like a waste of all the effort you went to to make your own. A freshly-cooked scotch egg is delicious, unlike a warmed-up shop one.

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FTC tells 'scan to email' patent troll: Every breath you take, every lie you make, I'll be fining you

Richard Tobin

Re: Bogus

Patenting covers use as well as manufacture, so customers can be liable. You may think that's stupid, but it's the law.

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CATACLYSMIC Sun BELCH causes hour-long RADIO BLACKOUT in SPAAACE

Richard Tobin

Re: It is an amazing sunspot, and some massive flares going on

Even on the earth's surface the sun's orientation varies. It's upside down when viewed from Australia, and on its side in the morning and evening when viewed from near the equator.

It's much more noticable with the moon, because of its phases.

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Bash bug: Shellshocked yet? You will be ... when this goes WORM

Richard Tobin

Re: Stupidest bug ever

Using environment variables to export functions is not a stupid idea. Doing it in such a way that every variable gets interpreted as a function if it looks like one *is* stupid. A program's environment variables can contain any text; it's none of the shell's business if that text happens to start with certain characters. They could perfectly well have used a single variable with a defined name that contained all the functions, or they could have used, say, BASH_VARIABLE_foo for the function foo.

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Richard Tobin

Stupidest bug ever

How can anyone have thought it was a good idea to parse arbitrary environment variables to see whether they contain something that looks like a function definition?

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Sun's MASSIVE solar storm belch to light up Earth's skies

Richard Tobin

Re: A small clarification, please

It's not that narrow. The earth moves about a degree per day (obviously), and the CME is much bigger than that.

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Whopping 10TB disks spin out of HGST – plus 3.2TB flash slabs

Richard Tobin

Helium 6

"The helium-filled He6 disk drive tops out at 6TB". Helium-6 has a half-life of 807 milliseconds. Helium-8's is 119 milliseconds. I guess that's why the warranties are so short.

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Chelyabinsk-sized SURPRISE asteroid to skim Earth, satnav birds

Richard Tobin

Nowhere near satnav

GPS satellites are not in geostationary orbit. They're at about 13,000 miles, so nowhere near this asteroid.

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'Stop dissing Google or quit': OK, I quit, says Code Club co-founder

Richard Tobin

Non sequitur

"Despite studies showing computer use makes no difference to educational outcomes, the top-down coding gravy train rolls on". What? These are completely separate things. Whether using computers is useful for learning in general has nothing to do with whether learning to code is a good thing. You might as well say that despite refrigerator use having no effect on educational outcomes, we still teach thermodynamics.

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DON’T add me to your social network, I have NO IDEA who you are

Richard Tobin

Re: Simple

I've never had an account with Linkedin, but I still receive endless requests (all from people I have never heard of). I configured procmail to bounce all mail from linkedin.com with "unknown user", but it hasn't helped.

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'I'm for free speech!' brave Boris bellows, bewildered by 'right to be forgotten' bluster

Richard Tobin

I think people can ask Google to remove search links from its index regardless of whether the information is "old, irrelevant and not in the public interest". You don't need a law to be able to ask for something. So what exactly does this "existing data protection law" do?

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'Hashtag' added to the OED – but # isn't a hash, pound, nor number sign

Richard Tobin

Not its real name

What the OED actually says is "In technical contexts also called octothorp". That doesn't make it its real name.

Its real name, as all Intercal programmers know, is "mesh".

As for its being the same as the musical sharp sign, the OED calls this "erroneous".

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MIGHTY SOLAR FLARES fail to DESTROY CIVILISATION. Yes!

Richard Tobin

Re: "Sun on Trial" by Dr Pierre-Marie Robitaille

... a complete crank, as googling for his name will show.

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Richard Tobin

Re: A wimp?

"So that's almost 1.5^20 times this one."

Er no. X22 is ten times bigger than X2.2. An Xn flare has intensity n*10^-4 W/m^2.

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Richard Tobin

X scale

X3 is not twice as intense as X2. It is, as you would expect, one-and-a-half times as intense.

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China to become world's No 1 economy. And we still can't see why

Richard Tobin

Dyson???

If my Dyson vacuum cleaner had lasted as long as my Huawei VDSL modem, I might take that seriously.

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Earthly astronomers catch best-ever image of MASSIVE solar flare

Richard Tobin

Z Class?

I've never heard of a Z class flare before, and I can't find any mention of such a thing on the NASA web site. Beyond X9 they just go to X10, instead of (say) Y1.

Someone recently added "Z class" to the table on the Wikipedia Solar Flare page without any explanation. If, as that table says, it means > 10^-3 W/m^2, then we've already had several: the X17 flare on Sep 7 2005 would be Z1.7, for example.

Where does the figure of "a least 40 times as large as March's display" in the article come from? The March 29 flare was X1, so 40 times that is not a particularly interesting number. Or did you just misunderstand this statement on the Wikipedia page: "the extreme event in 1859 is theorised to have been well over X40 so a Z class designation is possible"?

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The Sun ERUCTATES huge ball of GAS at 4 MILLION MPH

Richard Tobin

Re: What does X mean?

The scale measures power per unit area of solar X-rays, measured by earth satellites. It starts at A1, which is 10^-8 W/m^2, and increases linearly up to A9 (9x10^-8). Then instead of A10 for we have B1 (10^-7), and similarly up to B9, then C1 (10^-6) up to C9, then M1 (10^-5) up to M9, and then X1 (10^-4). There's no scale beyond X, so after X9 we just continue with X10.

An X4.9 flare is large but not exceptional. The largest recorded was at least X28 (during the previous solar maximum, in 2003), but it went off the scale of the recording instruments. The Carrington event of 1859 may have been even bigger. The current solar maximum is a weak one and we haven't had anything bigger than X7.

Look at http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/rt_plots/xray_1m.html for a graph labelled in both A/B/C/M/X scales and plain W/m^2.

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NHS care.data leaflet shovage: Like a 'notice for Earth's demolition' posted to Alpha Centauri

Richard Tobin

Dyson

"The patent system offers us some protection but not enough: with an army of lawyers, hidden prior art is occasionally found and ways to design around existing patents identified."

In other words, he wants a monopoly on things that he wasn't the first to invent, and on ways of doing things that he didn't think of.

(I have a Dyson cordless vacuum cleaner. It broke just after the warranty expired, and was pretty useless anyway. Why anyone would want to copy them is a mystery.)

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Language-mangling Germans fling open Handygate to selfie-snapping whistleblowers

Richard Tobin

If Watergate happened now...

... they'd have to call it Watergategate.

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Ian Williamson: The engineer who gave Sinclair his first micro

Richard Tobin

The keypad might have lasted longer if the software had been better - when typing in code you had to press MEM-TERM-MEM between every byte, so guess which key was likely to fail (quite apart from it being unnecessarily tedious and error-prone).

All in all it was a typical Sinclair product: unavailable, unreliable, unpleasant to use. They always aimed to build the cheapest possible usable product, but somewhere along the line the "usable" part of the specification was lost.

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FreeBSD abandoning hardware randomness

Richard Tobin

Re: Linux wasn't using RDRAND directly

"if EITHER the Linux algorithm output is good, OR the RDRAND output is good, THEN the final output is good"

... provided that the two are uncorrelated, and that the XOR instruction hasn't been modified to recognise when it is working with RDRAND output.

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Possibly EXPLODING or GLORIOUS Comet ISON: The (GIF) MOVIE

Richard Tobin

Re: As any fule kno

You can't determine pronunciation from etymology.

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Fukushima fearmongers: It's YOUR FAULT Japan DUMPED CO2 targets

Richard Tobin

Oh dear...

Every time Lewis Page writes an article about how safe Fukushima is, a few days later Tepco admit they've lied again and the figures they gave before were completely wrong. So watch the news over the next few days.

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'Bet Lynch' types BANNED from zoo for upsetting not-so-wildlife

Richard Tobin

Re: Chessington Marketing Dept. Plays a Blinder

Yes, it's just another example of advertising by press release. They've taken lessons from Ryanair.

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So, Linus Torvalds: Did US spooks demand a backdoor in Linux? 'Yes'

Richard Tobin

The issue was not about wasting cycles - it's about whether it can *reduce* entropy. Linus thought this was absurd because even if the data was not random, it wouldn't reduce entropy. That's true so long as the data is produced without any knowledge of the other random data it will be combined with - but the sufficiently paranoid observe that we can't check that's the case.

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Report: Secret British spy base in Middle East taps region's internet

Richard Tobin

"Legally required to do so"

We have had several companies stating, like BT, that they "do not disclose customer data in any jurisdiction unless legally required to do so". This makes it sound as if it's something they only rarely do. But it may well be that they government's interpretation of the law is that they are legally required to disclose *all* customer data to the intelligence services. It would be interesting to hear what BT say if asked whether this is true - my guess is that they would refuse to answer.

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Samsung wins Apple MacBook contract, starts spitting out PCIe SSDs

Richard Tobin

You can see right now at http://store.apple.com/uk/browse/home/shop_mac/family/macbook_air. What Samsung announced is the non-Apple-specific version of what Apple already has.

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Seven all-in-ones that aren't the Apple iMac - and one that is

Richard Tobin

Style over substance

Apple needs to get over its obsession with thin edges. As you point out, you can't even see them when you're using it. It started with the Macbook Air, which Apple had obviously hoped to sell as the lightest laptop, but when they found that it wasn't they had to settle for "thinnest at the edges". I use a previous generation iMac and giving up the optical drive for something I'd never notice is absurd.

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Mozilla teams up with Foxconn for Firefox 'fondleslab'

Richard Tobin

Re: open handset alliance

Is Firefox OS really an Android fork? Isn't it just another Linux-based phone OS that shares some code with Android?

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COLD FUSION is BACK with 'anomalous heat' claim

Richard Tobin

Scientists are easily fooled

Did they put an ammeter on the earthing cable?

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IBM storage crew: Why bury your BEST kit at the back of the larder?

Richard Tobin
Stop

Truffles

Exquisite truffles are not found in jars. They must be eaten fresh.

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Stephen Fry explains… Alan Turing's amazing computer

Richard Tobin
Stop

Fry' comments have a perfectly reasonable interpretation

The term "universal machine" does not only apply to the theoretical tape-based machine described in Turing's 1936 paper. It is quite reasonable to consider the ACE as an attempt to implement a universal machine. I don't see anything in Fry's comments to indicate that he thinks Turing built a physical "Turing machine" in the silly sense you imply. Fry is quite correct that Turing developed the idea of a universal machine and then went on to build - or at least design - a machine that implemented that idea.

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Judge slashes Apple's pile o' cash Samsung judgment

Richard Tobin

Re: even ~600m is ridiculous

They haven't had the appeal yet. This is about how much Apple gets supposing that Samsung don't overturn any of the verdict on appeal, which they most likely will. The final amount will probably be much lower.

You should see how outraged the fan boys are on sites like Apple Insider.

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McAfee dumps signatures and proclaims an (almost) end to botnets

Richard Tobin

Suspicious figures

"100 per cent rating at killing rootkits, compared to 83 per cent for Microsoft and 67 per cent for Symantec". Did they by any chance test exactly 6 rootkits?

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BT in ad slapdown after 'misleading' punters on fibre deployment dates

Richard Tobin
Unhappy

Date ushed back 5 times

My exchange and cabinet were originally scheduled to be enabled in September 2011. The date has since been pushed back by 3 months 4 times and by 6 months once and is currently listed as March 2013.

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Lovefilm does a Wii after rival gets loaded on new Nintendo

Richard Tobin

Wii U

The Wii U already has a placeholder Lovefilm application installed when you buy it. But when you try to run it, it says an update is needed, and none materialises. The Netflix application is similar, but something does get downloaded.

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NASA: 'Those life-on-Mars rumors? Chill, dudes and dudettes'

Richard Tobin
FAIL

At least you didn't fall for this one...

... like Slashdot did: http://science.slashdot.org/story/12/11/29/2331246/nasa-curiosity-has-found-plastic-on-mars

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Cawing retail vultures circle dying Comet, might rip some chunks off

Richard Tobin
Unhappy

Maplin

Well that will be the end of Maplin then. They'd be better off remaining what they are.

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Apple must apologise for its surly apology on its website on Saturday

Richard Tobin
FAIL

Maybe more trouble for Apple

The court required Apple to make the announcement (rather than leaving it to Samsung) because it had to come "from the horse's mouth". The newspaper statement does not say that it's Apple who is making it, so they may be in for another hard time from the judge!

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BT to fibre up another 163 exchanges, coy on exactly where

Richard Tobin
Thumb Down

What they don't mention...

... is that they have also delayed many already-announced exchanges. My exchange was due to get FTTC in summer of 2011, but every three months, a week before the deadline, they put it back three months (and yes, today it's changed from 30 September to 31 December). So these 2013 announcements should be taken with a pinch of salt.

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Single NFC bonk subjugated Samsung Galaxy SIII and slurped it out

Richard Tobin

NFC off by default

You have to enable NFC explicitly, so most users will not be vulnerable.

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Apple CEO: Frothing fanboi iPhone 5 hype screwed our sales

Richard Tobin
FAIL

Entirely Apple's own fault

<Nelson>Ha ha</Nelson>. Apple's uses fanbois' obsession when it suits them, so it's nice to see it hitting their sales. Secrecy is their choice, and those who live by the sword shall die by the sword.

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Strong ARM: The Acorn Archimedes is 25

Richard Tobin

ROMs

0.2 probably came on EPROMs, which could be re-used.

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Google in the clear on Oracle patents

Richard Tobin
FAIL

100% record

Has Florian Mueller ever been right about anything?

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