Feeds

* Posts by Dave Bell

1703 posts • joined 14 Sep 2007

Get your Indian Landfill Android One handsets - they're only SIXTY QUID

Dave Bell
Bronze badge

I agree, it's a pretty decent spec. It's a bit tight on system RAM but there are apps to let you store most of a program on the SD Card. No 4G? I don't get any trace of 4G out where I live.

It's not so different from the phone I use now, and the Google backing means that the hardware level will be useful for a while. It's a good enough smartphone to sell the idea, and cheap enough it's not wasted if used like a dumb-phone.

A micro SD slot in a cheap Google-backed phone as standard? What will the next general of Nexus 7 have?

1
0

Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom

Dave Bell
Bronze badge

Re: They arn't getting anything extra

It is a cipher, but with no more security than any other mono-alphabetic substitution. It's a little bit better than Julius Caesar is claimed to have used, because the dot-dash sequences are not all the same size, and you could argue that it's data-compression rather than a cipher, using a multi-dimensional binary straddling chequerboard.

In the end, saying Morse is a cipher is no more useful than saying written Greek or Hebrew, or written English, is an enciphered version of the spoken language.

0
0

Stonehenge's HUMAN ABATTOIR was just a prehistoric Burning Man hippyfest site

Dave Bell
Bronze badge

Re: Burning man

That story is attributed to Posidonius. There is evidence for human sacrifice, not just by the Celts, but not of this method.

But it made a great film.

1
0

DARPA-backed jetpack prototype built to make soldiers run faster

Dave Bell
Bronze badge

We're talking pre-WW1 thinking. And, for a while in the 19th century, it made sense. The French came up with the pas gymnastique. running rather than marching to attack the enemy. Bicycles were also popular in Europe, as a sort of mounted infantry, And the first British Army combat death of WW1, John Parr, was a military cyclist.

The British Army wasn't being so silly in those days, but the war and the fighting style shifted in an unexpected direction. Just running fast was no longer enough.

Well, I suppose they might come up with something useful in trying to make the things work. Like a way of stopping before you reach that brick wall.

0
0

Not pro Bono: Apple's audio junk mail made spammers' lives easier

Dave Bell
Bronze badge

Re: Well this is bollocks

It's not as if they planted it on any device

iStuff are not devices?

There are devices in Barad-dûr

0
0

Starship Troopers beat Aliens, Robots AND Chuck Norris to WIN in a FIGHT

Dave Bell
Bronze badge

Re: Daleks

Spitfires v. Daleks

And other flying machines...

1
0

Leak of '5 MEELLLION Gmail passwords' creates security flap

Dave Bell
Bronze badge

Re: Not my GMail password

I'd agree that something might be at risk if you didn't know you were on the list.

I suspect some confusion between the actual Gmail account, and accounts on other sites which use email address and password as login credentials. You can expect a site username to be a little less open than an email address, but I know of some significant (if not hugely sensitive) accounts which require an email address. I have to use that for the repeat prescription service offered by my GP.

Bu I don't publish my Gmail address. I redirect email through my personal domain name, to read through Gmail, and so my public email addresses don't have an obvious link to Gmail.

I set this up a long time ago and, while I am certainly a little worried about this, I don't feel vulnerable. I do have the feeling that conclusions have been enthusiastically jumped to.

I am more worried about how easy it is to find the answers to common "security" questions.

0
0

OwnCloud: Fiddly but secure host-from-home sync 'n' share

Dave Bell
Bronze badge

Re: Server to server

Yes, that combination is tempting.

I don't have quite that much confidence in my own abilities.

I do keep some stuff on Google Drive, mostly stuff such as fiction texts I am working on.

It does bother me that Google Drive doesn't support Linux, you need a 3rd-party product. I have an old ASUS EEE that still runs Linux, and it could be a useful machine. A lot of the time I don't need to burrow in the Linux stuff, it just works.

I maybe should get something such as a Pi. But could I cope with it?

0
0

Limits to Growth is a pile of steaming doggy-doo based on total cobblers

Dave Bell
Bronze badge

Re: It's a shame.

I suspect that there is a political motive behind many criticisms of The Guardian, and a hard core of truth, such as this article.

And there is also George Monbiot. The Register has one or two equivalents, I tend to be wary of what Andrew Orlowski writes on copyright issues. Some people don't notice such things, and some over-react to them.

3
2

The Schmidt hits the clan: Google chief mauls publishers' 'abuse of dominance' claims

Dave Bell
Bronze badge

Re: Search Results that Contain new Search Engines are crap

There are any number of bad business directory sites that show far too many dead businesses, but those entries get picked up by Google, perhaps because they show maps and images from Google sources such as Streetview.

And the sites show adverts which may have been provided through a Google advert service, from which Google skims off a percentage of what the advertisers pay, so they have a motive to show links to the crap data.

I have a suspicion that some of the crap data is either invented by careless searching: these business directories seem to grab business info from anywhere with no checks, or are copyright-theft evidence that nobody cares about. If there wasn't the Streetview picture, one business name would look like it came from a clumsy scan of a list of technical jargon, and it looks to have closed down several years ago.

But it's still a source of page-views to charge an advertiser for.

1
0

IT jargon is absolutely REAMED with sexual double-entendres

Dave Bell
Bronze badge

Re: It's not as bad as...

I'm not sure they were Logitech, and they didn't use SCSI, so I think you misremember.

But "Plug your Thrustmaster joystick into the game port at the back of the PC" is plausible, and more than bad enough.

2
0

'4chan may be just a sysadmin who knows his way around', claims so-called expert

Dave Bell
Bronze badge

I do find myself wondering just how much protection the usual security questions add to any website. My bank gave me a very narrow range of choices that were all on public records associated with me.

Would Miley Cyrus remember hers? Would she pick a dumb password? She might be ignorant, rather than stupid, on such things. She gives an answer that gets her mentioned in The Register.

2
0

Warrantless phone snooping HAPPENS ALL THE TIME in Blighty

Dave Bell
Bronze badge

If anyone asks you if you intend to vote Conservative in the next General election, tell them Yes.

And then vote to get a different set of bastards in. Maybe then we can get some of these legal work-arounds blocked.

3
9

Shitty what? Almost half of MPs have never heard of Tech City

Dave Bell
Bronze badge

Tech City?

Silicon Roundabout?

In East London?

Never heard of it.

I was at a conference recently, in East London, where people were selling space ships and using telepresence robots, but I don't think we got any money from the government. Did we miss a chance there?

1
0

Alien Ninja Fembot Pirates vs the Jedi SAS Chuck Norris startroopers: RUMBLE

Dave Bell
Bronze badge

So this is the acme of combative memes?

But just think, you could have had the originals in this game: Burton, Eastwood, and a castle full of Nazis ready to die. How can you beat that? Sure, there are some awkward mistakes — check the range of a Ju52 — but everything that follows is just a shabby imitation.

OK, so it would be improved by Lt Schaffer teaming up with Ellen Ripley (You get Ellen Ripley and who needs Colonial Marines?). He deserves to get a girl of his own by the time the movie ends, after all the shenanigans he has had to put up with.

3
0

Data entry REAR-END SNAFU: Weighty ballsup leads to plane take-off flap

Dave Bell
Bronze badge

There is nothing new in this, other than how the miscalculation happened. And I wouldm't like to bet on historical assumed weights being all that reliable today. Could they put an automatic weighing machine under the passengers queuing for that security check?

1
0

eBay, Facebook, Tumblr ALL go TITSUP in me-too MULTI-FAIL

Dave Bell
Bronze badge

If eBay goes down, I shall put in a bid for that "make your own guitar" kit.

Or maybe not. Keep knocking the rocks together...

0
0

Windows 7 settles as Windows XP use finally starts to slip … a bit

Dave Bell
Bronze badge

Re: "hard core of folks"

As I recall, there was an option when I upgraded to Win7 to choose an older-style UI. It was mostly the design of UI elements.

I'm inclined to think XP has hung on because of the rather trivial changes of this sort. Touch-screens do at least give a reason for a change. But if you're still using a mouse it's fair to ask why the hell they make some of the UI changes they do. There were some huge changes to the underlying structure. They do need some changes to use them new features. But how often do you use them. Some buttons, some menu entries, we use every day. And one day they seem to vanish.

It scares people.

(An example of a significant improvement which needn't change the UI is the way the TCP/IP stack behaves under load. In WinXP that could seriously slow the whole computer. In Win 7, on the exact same hardware, stuff keeps working at a usable speed, But look at how some browsers have hidden the existence of the long-established Windows menu system. It slows me down, and I switch fairly easily between a Wondows box and a Linux box,)

1
0

What do you mean, I have to POST a PHYSICAL CHEQUE to get my gun licence?

Dave Bell
Bronze badge

Clearly, it has to be done right.

I am not going to exclude the possibility of a filing cabinet with the printed list as back-up, but a reliable database on this scale isn't a problem that has never been solved before.

I haven't found any recent figures, but a couple of million legal guns in the UK is about right.

With multiple driving licences, a neighbour has ordinary car, motorcycle, and HGV licences, it doesn't surprise me that there may be over 60 million driving licences to keep track of. And 35 million vehicles.

Computerisation of the records looks a relatively small job. Plenty that might go wrong, but not even close to pushing the envelope.

Those are the sorts of number that Randall Munroe might use. And name-and-address info for every gun could plausibly be fitted onto one HDD, though that might be pushing it.

It's much harder to steal a filing cabinet.

2
0

'I think photographers get TOO MUCH copyright for their work'

Dave Bell
Bronze badge

There are some strong arguments that current copyright terms are over-extended. And different term rules for different media add to the confusion. Music recordings had a copyright life of fifty years, and one Beatles record did drop out of copyright before a change in the law took effect. But how many records from 1963 does anyone care about? (And the copyright on the music and lyrics is different.)

It's complicated.

And how many of these copyright extensions benefit the creators rather than some undying corporate entity?

11
1

Love XKCD? Love science? You'll love a book about science from Randall Munroe

Dave Bell
Bronze badge

Which award was accepted on his behalf by Cory Doctorow in XKCD cosplay.

2
0

Ninja Pirate Zombie Vampires versus Chuck Norris and the Space Marines

Dave Bell
Bronze badge

Military Alternatives

There are a huge number of alternatives to the human militaries you list.

And some not-human alternatives...

The Light Company of the South Essex Regiment, under the command of Richard Sharpe.

A Landing Force detachment of the Rain Island Army Union, with air support from the Naval Syndicate.

Any battalion of the British Expeditionary Force, August 1914

Or, if you really want to be nasty, any battalion of the same army, from the Western Front in August 1918.

0
0

Britain's housing crisis: What are we going to do about it?

Dave Bell
Bronze badge

People can be silly

Not every site is equal, and people can do the silliest things when picking pieces to build houses.

For example, the sewage from one village is pumped, under pressure, over a couple of hills to a neighbouring village's sewage works. A developer applied for planning permission on some land in the valley, saying that all that was needed was a simple connection to this pressurised pipe.

In the same area, the council granted planning permission for housing development on a site that was on noticeably lower ground than the sewage works. See also "flood plains".

So people will do the silliest things. And the people who decide planning applications can be just as silly. But zero controls look pretty reckless. And some of the ways in which development is distributed are questionable. It looks as though new housing is often distributed in strict proportion to existing housing, without regard to local availability of either employment or services.

The system is flawed, but can we throw away all controls to leave it to the market? The whole idea of the market assumes honesty and rational behaviour, yet we know that assumption is questionable.

21
1

Raspberry Pi B+: PHWOAR, get a load of those pins

Dave Bell
Bronze badge

Re: Bus powered HDD - bump up the USB current then!

If you have a power-hungry USB drive, check the drive connector. If it's Mini-USB it likely came with a Y-cable having two A-connectors, one power only. You can use a seperate USB-power wart, or two connectors in a proper USB hub. These cables are cheap from the usual net-sources.

Powering this sort of kit is one the the reasons I bought a Pimoroni PiHub.

I bought that product when it was reviewed here, and it fully lives up to the recommendation. There's a lot of expensive crap out there. If your USB-hub is running warm, it's a bad sign. This one delivers the power, and stays cool.

1
0

Sin COS to tan Windows? Chinese operating system to debut in autumn – report

Dave Bell
Bronze badge

Re: Good luck with that

If it's in every Chinese government office, what apps does it really need beyond an office suite and a web browser? They'll need Chinese Language support, and it might end up as yet another open office fork, but the idea they cannot produce a viable alternative Windows rather suggests we're all in trouble. And China does seem to do well with long-term projects. They don't seem to care about satisfying Harvard Business School graduates.

2
0

Six of the best gaming keyboard and mouse combos

Dave Bell
Bronze badge

Re: citóg

I'm right-handed, but an accident of history led me to mousing left-handed, and that's what I still do.

(It was an obscure all-in-one computer that ejected 5.25 floppies from the right side, clashing with conventional mouse use.)

0
0

Brit Sci-Fi author Alastair Reynolds says MS Word 'drives me to distraction'

Dave Bell
Bronze badge

Re: So they force him to use Word hmm?

People such as Charles Stross and Alistair Reynolds work with publishers. They know what they are talking about. They write stuff that is good enough to win Awards.

I think you underestimate how much Word gets used as a format. Mr. Stross has written a lot on how the process works, and I don't think you're far wrong on why it gets used. Most of the cost of producing a novel from a manuscript is in the editing, and Word is the de facto standard. Microsoft have been destroying the alternatives in the word-processing market, and nobbling the process that sets standards, and there isn't a practical alternative for what the publishers have to do.

Yes, it is possible to change file format. but if you go back and forth between Word and ODT a few times, what information about the document have you lost?

(There is, incidentally, a standard manuscript format which, within the limits of an ordinary typewriter, encodes a few format changes, such a bold and italic.)

If you just want the WYSIWYG, download Open Office or Libre Office.

Scrivener looks like a good choice for writing long texts. I use it a lot now.

Perhaps the biggest problem is that our schooling is focused on writing short, stereotyped, texts in response to exam questions. What was the longest thing you wrote at school? How many of us, when a novel today is typically 100,000 words, can judge the ability of a program to handle such a work?

Have you even tried NaNoWriMo?

5
1

The police are WRONG: Watching YouTube videos is NOT illegal

Dave Bell
Bronze badge

I had the fond belief that, most of the time, the law required intent. There are a few exceptions, such as child porn (and porn cases in general are full of Police crap). With all the malware and other virus-like downloads going on, even apparently from Microsoft, it's hard to be sure who decided what about a particular file on a user's computer.

And these PR departments seem to be optimised to feed stories to less-than-competent journalists who don't have the wit to ask awkward questions but are just capable of acting as another unit in the internet of things that connects the Police to a printing press. Abd it's not just the Police.

6
0

Cracking copyright law: How a simian selfie stunt could make a monkey out of Wikipedia

Dave Bell
Bronze badge

It used to be that one of the ways of settling the ownership argument, in Britain, was to ask who owned the film. It's a fairly sensible rule for some kinds of dispute, such as a press photographer who wants to take some pictures on his day off. But the technology has changed. Has the law caught up?

0
0

BT customers face broadband and landline price hikes

Dave Bell
Bronze badge

Re: It wouldn't be so bad...

Oh, it's a re-run of the football cock-up? That nearly killed ITV, as I recall, with the football on digital TV.

2
0

The Register Monopoly Pubcrawl Mobile Map: VODAFONE VICTOR in LONDON

Dave Bell
Bronze badge

I was in London last weekend, and the O2 Network worked well, But I wasn't anywhere near the places you picked. There's a lot of London where stuff happens that isn't on the Monopoly Board. There's not of the Docklands tested, for one.

0
0

SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk

Dave Bell
Bronze badge
Boffin

Spaceflight with rockets is always going to be dangerous and expensive.

Skylon

It costs less than policitians.

5
0

Need a green traffic light all the way home? Easy with insecure street signals, say researchers

Dave Bell
Bronze badge

Re: Why the different standards?

Also, they can use fasteners which need a specific "secure" tool to unfasten. Like all those secure fasteners used to hold together electical gadgets.

Just go read the story again and watch how many times "default passwords" are mentioned, and left un-changed when the system is installed, and so can be used by a hacker. It's possible that manufacturers have assumed the system operators would not be stupid: this is more a stupidity problem than a standards problem.

Not that the standards in the industry are all that wonderful...

4
1

Hello, police, El Reg here. Are we a bunch of terrorists now?

Dave Bell
Bronze badge

Re: imaginary friends in the sky

There I was in a bar with the Astronomer Royal and a Jesuit Vatican Astronomer, looking at the latest pictures of an asteroid, and we agreed that humans were good at picking out patterns and seeing things that didn't really exist, and part of that was asking "Why?" A lot of that is science. But many of the details of the universe have to be the way they are just so something like us can be here to see it. In a sense, the universe exists just so that we can exist.

"It's ineffable." I said.

We all nodded and ordered another round. Why do you think philosophers have a reputation for drinking a lot?

4
0
Dave Bell
Bronze badge

Re: Two girls and a cup

The word "execution" suggests suggests a legal process, which isn't apparent, and it's been used in both cases. But I can understand the death of Nguyen Van Lem. This current video is something very different: I can understand why watching it might be part of a pattern, but it's also a clear record of a crime. Can we really say that anyone who watches it is a terrorist? How many investigators does that line make a terrorist?

And sure the Met understand why intent matters?

2
0

UK mobile coverage is BETTER than EVER, networks tell Ofcom

Dave Bell
Bronze badge

Based on my own experience and observations, I have a suspicion that coverage maps are based on old data, though maybe current with transmitter locations, but the networks haven't noticed that trees don't need planning permission to grow.

Dead spots have appeared in places where trees are generally taller than they were a decade ago

0
0

Microsoft: Just what the world needs – a $25 Nokia dumbphone

Dave Bell
Bronze badge

Re: An Old Fogey Speaks

Yes.

And no.

Computers have been around long enough that some old people have had the chance to use them for a long time. Other old people have not.

6
0
Dave Bell
Bronze badge

Re: Cheap enough

I go my comfortable earphones at Tesco. They came with a choice of those plastic plug things, and the smallest is what I need. The earphones that came with my current phone don't offer that choice. Trouble is, they include a microphone for if you want to make a call.

0
0

Gov.uk's broadband boast: Superfast fibre piped to 1 million Brits

Dave Bell
Bronze badge

ISP matters more than fibre

The OpenReach vans are down the street installing the new cabinet. That will reduce the non-fibre part of my internet connect to tell that a quarter of what it was.

I am not quite sure whether I need it. I switched ISP a few months ago. Some hardware at the exchange must have changed: I am getting three times the usable speed, and it hardly drops at peak time. My old ISP did a good job for a long time, but their service quality plummeted as streaming video struck.

All I can say is, ask anyone trying to sell you an internet connection what they are doing about IPv6. If they don't know what it is, if they don't have a plan. forget 'em. If they don't have a plan, if they're still supplying routers to customers which cannot handle IPv6, they're incompetent.

3
0

World's only flyable WWII Lancaster bombers meet in Lincs

Dave Bell
Bronze badge

Re: Love that noise

Yep, seriously horrible weather moved into Lincolnshire from Cambridgeshire and the BBMF had to cancel flying. It was very severe rain in Cambridgeshire.

I think I might have seen Vera in the distance if the visibility hadn't been lousy.

You have to find the local news page for Lincolnshire to see any mention by the BBC. I haven't even seen a mention of the flash flooding except as local news. If it's not in London, it never happened...

1
1

NASA tests crazytech flying saucer thruster, could reach Mars in days

Dave Bell
Bronze badge

Cold Fusion, at the time of the first claims, attracted some substantial research budgets. The potential pay-off was so high.

This is in some of the same territory.

Cold Fusion was given a good chance. There are potential pay-offs on this too, though it might not be powerful enough a thruster for station-keeping on a satellite. But the fuel supply is a limit on satellite lifetime.

This thruster will get a good chance. Results need replicating. That's all part of good science.

15
0

Pentagon hacker McKinnon can't visit sick dad for fear of extradition

Dave Bell
Bronze badge

Re: Drive a few miles south...

Customs of Scotland do check you when you leave Scotland, to ensure you have the required amount of whisky, haggis, and porridge. If you don't, they force a White Heather Club DVD on you.

0
0

Amazon says Hachette should lower ebook prices, pay authors more

Dave Bell
Bronze badge

We pay Hachette for their good judgement

The traditional publisher and the author do a lot of work together that ends up giving us a better book. I am not sure that Amazon deserves a similar share for the work it does to deliver an ebook.

Hachette, and all the other traditional publishers. know they are taking risks, and giving us a better text, filtering the drivel-storm, is something they have to do to limit their risk.

Amazon doesn't do any filtering with the Kindle Direct model, and, believe me, you can see it. All you have to do is buy a few cheap ebooks and you will see it. There is a filter that comes from forcing the author to deal with the US tax system. but that's no effort for them.

It's a waste of my time to try to sell my writing through Amazon. I get better filtering from giving my stories away on fan-fiction sites. The Kindle is a nice enough tool, and Amazon run a decent, wide-ranging, internet retail operation, but no way are they a publishing company.

Dare I post a link, even a weird one? What's the point? The problem is finding stories that you like. I think that Google might matter more to authors than Amazon ever can.

5
4

LOHAN's stirring motto: Ad Astra Tabernamque

Dave Bell
Bronze badge

A Bicycle Built for Brew

Poul Anderson wrote the seminal beer-in-space story, published in 1958.

A Bicycle Built for Brew

It was his collaborator Gordy Dickson who wrote the seminal bear-in-space stories. Don't confuse them.

2
0

Bring back error correction, say Danish 'net boffins

Dave Bell
Bronze badge

A Prediction

You seem to be covering everything.

My prediction: you'll see this math in a proprietary video streaming service using UDP packets.

(I don't think it is tech yet. One of those little boxes plugged into your TV, something new, rather than replacing a huge installed base, that's when it will be tech.)

1
0

Say goodbye to the noughties: Yesterday’s hi-fi biz is BUSTED, bro

Dave Bell
Bronze badge

Re: hi-res audio bullshit

Valve or solid state, the problem when they're in the mass-market is poor design, and some elements of that aren't the same as cheap design. And since the speakers add far more bad things than a good amplifier does, that's the place that rewards careful thought.

Some things, like soundbars, can be an easy upgrade. The speakers built into a TV can, for various reasons, be not very good. There are better answers. Much better.

There's a bit too much fashion in some of the stuff people are swooning over, there always has been.There's a place for a Bluetooth connection, but some things sound more than a little silly. It's fashion.

0
0
Dave Bell
Bronze badge

Re: The benefit of being slightly tone deaf?

I'm inclined to agree, though I put my limits down to age and Massey-Ferguson. But a decent amp and speakers makes a difference I can still hear, and that is what matters. I don't want to throw money at the problems without thinking, but I can hear the difference spending a few quid more on the speakers can make.

Some of the stuff they're selling these days is a rip-off. Like everything, the bottom end of the price range has to be almost zero-cost to cover the sales and distribution cost and leave a profit. I'd like some of my money to be spent on my ears.

0
0

UK's emergency data slurp: IT giants panicked over 'legal uncertainty'

Dave Bell
Bronze badge

Re: Hasty ?? @ Titus Technophobe

The whole thing is looking a bit odd, but I'll concede the need for some legislation. I'm not lawyer enough to be sure whether RIPA provides any real protection for anyone. I don't have much confidence in the current government and their intentions. If there's a way to screw us, they'll use it.

But I do know you're missing one thing. This law will operate until 2016, and then it stops working. That's a good idea for this sort of emergency law. That doesn't mean we have to live with it until then. The next parliament could replace it before then, no legal problem at all. We need to watch they don't amend away the sunset clause, but whoever wins the election could start work on the long-term replacement as soon as they take over. And I hope we elect a government that is willing to listen to us, as well as the Americans.

0
0

Beer in SPAAAACE! London Pride soars to 28,000m

Dave Bell
Bronze badge

Re: Legonaut!?!?

I hope that your trusty Playmonaut is now demanding unionisation?

He'll only fly if he isn't charged.

0
0

TalkTalk talks itself into trouble with budget broadband package fibs

Dave Bell
Bronze badge

I used to be a Talk-Talk customer.

I came to doubt their competence. In the last year or so of my time with them, while there was no throttling, is was clear that their total provision was inadequate. When everybody was home, data-rates delivered were derisory.

I switched to another ISP. The physical line suddenly delivered twice the capacity, and maintains that with real data delivered (There are small variations with time of day, but they are small). With the Rural Broadband rollout looming, I'm now not sure I will need it, but I am much more confident that the speed increase possible, on the local loop, will be matched by the ISP's network.

The Stock Market seems to like Tiscali. They don't seem to care whether an ISP actually delivers. They're just hunting short-term profit, and that has become the business Tiscali is in.

0
0