* Posts by Ian Johnston

709 posts • joined 28 Sep 2007

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Science fiction legend Harlan Ellison ends his short time on Earth

Ian Johnston

That goes for almost all science fiction writers, though. They get an idea but run out of plot very quickly so they write short stories. Very occasionally, if they are feeling exceptionally bold, a "novella" (Spanish for "padded-out short story") which is almost unknown as a form in any other sphere of writing.

But then, they know their audience. Who wants plot or characterisation when you can get the hang of an idea in a few pages?

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Strip Capita of defence IT contract unless things improve – Brit MPs

Ian Johnston

I thought Crapita was on the point of following Carillion down the tubes. With luck, all we have to do is wait, then when the euphoria is over, start shorting Serco.

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What's all the C Plus Fuss? Bjarne Stroustrup warns of dangerous future plans for his C++

Ian Johnston

Obligatory:

https://www-users.cs.york.ac.uk/susan/joke/cpp.htm

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Universal Credit has never delivered bang for buck, but now there's no turning back – watchdog

Ian Johnston

Re: The government position:

You want to solve the problems? Put an IT guy in charge of the IT projects, not a minister

IT guys have proved utterly incapable of delivering this project. Why on earth should they be able to manage it as well?

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Ian Johnston

Re: The government position:

The degree of incompetence demonstrated by the U.K. Govt. in its management of the U.C. project is astounding. It's a bizarre aspect of reality that those same people consider themselves capable of managing the country.

What about the degree of incompetence demonstrated by the IT professionals (sic) who are being paid by the barrowload to implement the project?

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Schadenfreude for UK mobile networks over the tumult at Carphone

Ian Johnston

I have a £60 Medion (=Lenovo) from Aldi. It has been working very nicely for 3.5 years and shows no signs of giving up. I'm buggered if I can see any reason to spend fifteen times as much on the latest shiny from Apple or Samsung.

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Automation won’t take your job until the next recession threatens it

Ian Johnston

Economists can't predict economies. Why on earth would we trust them to predict technologies?

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Hear that? Of course it's Indiegogo's deadline for a Vega+ whooshing by

Ian Johnston

A lot of people backed this was because:

a) Sir Clive Sinclair is linked to it.

And they are certainly getting an authentic Sinclair experience out of it, so what's the beef?

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Visa Europe fscks up Friday night with other GDPR: 'God Dammit, Payment Refused'

Ian Johnston

It's a good job I didn't know this, because if I had known it I might not have been able to made several successful purchases with my Visa card on Friday (chip-and-pin, contactless and Amazon) as well as withdraw cash.

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Fake NIPS slip site scandalizes AI world

Ian Johnston

"The real NIPS website is nips.cc. Please do not visit nips2018.org."

Why the hell would organisers of a reputable conference use such a fake sounding web address?

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Whois? Whowas. So what's next for ICANN and its vast database of domain-name owners?

Ian Johnston

Re: Rejected one year moratorium oddly similar to 12 months they say they need to devise a new model

A whois search on my .uk domains now shows that they are registered by an individual, it doesn't give my name, and the only contact details are for the registrar.

Mine say "Data validation: Nominet was able to match the registrant's name and address against a 3rd party data source on 10-Dec-2012". There is nothing about whether I am an individual, corporation or super-intelligent shade of the colour blue.

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Ex-staffer of UK.gov dept bags payout after boss blabbed medical info to colleagues

Ian Johnston

Re: balanced fact based reporting please

To be honest, sometimes I don't even see the need for the employer to know... "I'm having an operation" is perfectly acceptable. You don't need to know if that's a vasectomy, a circumcision, a hysterectomy or anything else unless that person chooses to tell you. But you certainly shouldn't be advertising whatever it is (even if the person in question is doing so themselves).

Many employers only give sick leave for illness, and using it for elective vasectomy, circumcision, or hysterectomy would be gross misconduct.

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People like convenience more than privacy – so no, blockchain will not 'decentralise the web'

Ian Johnston

Re: Spot on

What makes you so sure that a "real email account" isn't a gmail one? I have several user@domain accounts which use gmail.

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As Tesla hits speed bump after speed bump, Elon Musk loses his mind in anti-media rant

Ian Johnston

This sort of tantrum by Musk isn't new. Remember when a New York journalist borrowed a Model S and reported range problems, after being advised by a Tesla customer service advisor to warm the batteries with a quick charge before setting of in freezing conditions? Musk threw a total eppy, ranted about "big oil shills" and sacked the customer service advisor.

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Ian Johnston

Re: Don't forget critics..

I mean... take the idea for the rocket which can also land itself: there was already an actual working concept around in the 90's.

Indeed, and there is a huge opportunity cost to retaining enough fuel to land the first stages. NASA and the Russkis aren't stupid - they could and would have done it years ago if it made economic sense.

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Ian Johnston

Re: Can't have it both ways, guys.

You can't say "[all] journalists do [x,y,z]" and follow that with "the media is not a coherent whole".

Why not? Staff on the Guardian and the Mail work in very similar way but produce completely different results.

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Braking news: Tesla preps firmware fling to 'fix' Model 3's inability to stop in time

Ian Johnston

Re: A different problem

Braking distance is more seriously affected by how much G you can subject the user to than anything else. You can make the car stop on a sixpence, it'll just break your neck and make you unconscious in your burning vehicle.

The maximum deceleration to which you can safely subject a sitting human is around 9G - above that and internal organs start tearing off their mountings, which is a Bad Thing. For normal driving, you won't get tyres with a higher coefficient of friction than 1, so 1G is your maximum. Do what you like with brakes, ABS and regeneration - you're not going to hurt the driver.

F1 cars manage about 5.5 deceleration at high speeds, by the way, but that's because (1) their slicks have a friction coefficient of around 1.5 and (b) aerodynamic downforce means they have several times their weight to play with.

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Great Scott! Bitcoin to consume half a per cent of the world's electricity by end of year

Ian Johnston

Is Bitcoin really still a thing? I thought had gone the way of Myspace and Geocities.

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HMRC opens consultation to crack down on off-payroll working in private sector

Ian Johnston

Re: "most contractors would go permie"

Would they really take a huge hit in take home?

Oooh, bit of a giveaway there.

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‘I broke The Pentagon’s secure messaging system – and won an award for it!’

Ian Johnston

Re: The myth of the "rock star" IT worker

I've worked in R&D groups as well as product development groups with people like this, who create problems (or even sabotage) then "discover & fix" it for acclaim.

That basically covers the whole of Y2K, doesn't it?

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18.04 beta is as good a time as any to see which Ubuntu flavour tickles your Budgie, MATE

Ian Johnston

Re: @AC - It's a pity

Erm, for my own curiosity, who told you the FOSS community wants to replace Windows ?

I suggest you check Ubuntu Bug #1.

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Twenty years ago today: Windows 98 crashed live on stage with Bill Gates. Let's watch it again...

Ian Johnston

Re: Don't mention

I ran OS/2 from Warp 3 until its final eComStation incarnation until 2006, when I replaced it with Ubuntu. In those nine years I think I had two crashes.

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Ian Johnston

Re: "That must be why we're not shipping Windows 98 yet," quipped Gates.

Can you imagine how Elon Musk would have handled it? Screaming tantrum, wild accusations of big oil shills, the poor bugger doing the demonstration sacked before he left the stage and then a blank denial that any of it ever happened.

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Watchdog growls at Tesla for spilling death crash details: 'Autopilot on, hands off wheel'

Ian Johnston

I love the way Tesla are offering to sell for $3,000 a product they don't have and which, even if they had, could not be used. Vapourware bullshitting at its best.

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UK watchdog finally gets search warrant for Cambridge Analytica's totally not empty offices

Ian Johnston

I have a fiver which says that a Cambridge Analytica contract with the Conservative Party will eventually be brought to light.

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El Reg deep dive: Everything you need to know about UK.gov's pr0n block

Ian Johnston

Re: We'll add that to the list shall we?

"Home taping is killing music"

Adele? Justin Bieber?

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Ian Johnston

Re: We have some clueless, cloth eared, inept old dear as PM. and a victory for Clare Perry

Who couldn't set the age restriction rules on her browser.

There are age restriction rules in browsers?

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Five things you need to know about Microsoft's looming Windows 10 Spring Creators Update

Ian Johnston

Oi. Survey people. My next desktop OS, like my current one and my last one will be Linux. Not GNU/Linux, because that's pandering to the inflated self-importance of a man who has spent thirty years failing to produce an operating system and is clinging on to the coattails of someone who has succeeded.

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Uber breaks self-driving car record: First robo-ride to kill a pedestrian

Ian Johnston

On the bright side, it's nice to hear of a case in which a woman would have been safer inside an Uber car.

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Elon Musk invents bus stop, waits for applause, internet LOLs

Ian Johnston

Re: RE: Crossrail

If you want to be able to tunnel without care, you need to go at least 300m deep in London ? Maybe 500m ?

London is a tangle because almost everything goes through a layer of clay about 150m thick. Below that you won't run into anything ... but you will be tunnelling through rock, which is much more difficult. Explosives, rather than TBMs.

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Ian Johnston

Is there anything to his 'we can tunnel cheaper and quicker' stuff? How much money would that save anyway?

Mr Musk's theory seems to be that tunnels for electric vehicles can be very much smaller and therefore cheaper than tunnels for internal combustion engines. Which is a bit true, but only up to a point. You can reduce the size and complexity of the ventilation system, but humans still need to breathe and you still need escape routes and safety tunnels. All modern tunnels of any length - Crossrail, Gotthard Base, you name it - are for electric propulsion and they still aren't cheap.

As so often, Musk appears to think that all engineering problems can be solved by throwing money at programmers. It ain't so.

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Ian Johnston

Re: "Fact is, it's still just cheaper to ditch them in the ocean"

So the actual issue is control. Not simply re-ignition.

It's also the large amount of fuel you need to retain for the landing and which you therefore can't use to launch stuff into space and make money. There is a huge opportunity cost to reusing space vehicles.

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Ian Johnston

Rockets, monorails, tunnels ... Mr Musk seems to be going though the Evil Overlord List and ticking off the items in order. Coming soon: computer operators in his command centre will face the door.

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Your manhood is safe, judge tells ZX Spectrum reboot boss

This post has been deleted by a moderator

Microsoft says 'majority' of Windows 10 use will be 'streamlined S mode'

Ian Johnston

The Triumph Herald "S" was a cut-down version with rubber mats instead of carpets and no heater. I have a Casio camera with a "simple" mode, charmingly if tactlessly indicated with a green shamrock icon.

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Most IT contractors want employment benefits if clobbered with IR35

Ian Johnston

Message from the rest of us:

Pay your fucking taxes, you cheapskate bastards.

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Shock poll finds £999 X too expensive for happy iPhone owners

Ian Johnston

Re: They should have asked me ...

Casio made £211m in profits last year. meanwhile the top-end Swiss watchmakers are all in trouble with falling sales.

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Fancy sitting in a Level 4 driverless car roaming London? Get in line

Ian Johnston

Re: Can we have them

A driverless microbus could travel around the villages and pick up and drop passengers at a bus stop on the main road. It would be a fixed route. It would save time, driver cost, and allow a more frequent service.

To save a few minutes of driver time at £10 an hour you have to buy an extra autonomous vehicle which is parked out of use most of the time. This may not be the economic miracle you are looking for.

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Open source community crams itself into big tent

Ian Johnston

Was RMS there to complain that they weren't using the right licenses?

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British clockwork radio boffin Trevor Baylis terminally winds down

Ian Johnston

Re: Batteryless radio

As far as I know, his use of a spring winding continuously from one drum to another was the innovation, and a very good one too.

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Java EE renamed 'Jakarta EE' after Big Red brand spat

Ian Johnston

Re: I say, I say, I say

My wife's gone to the East Indies.

Java?

Twice over the kitchen table before she left.

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Mobile World Congress: 5 buzzwords, an homage to Windows XP and a smartphone snorefest

Ian Johnston

Re: Really?

That comes as quite a surprise after the total disaster of Microsofts Office appplications for DOS, Windows and Macintosh.

The ones which completely dominate the market, you mean?

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Ian Johnston

Re: Latency? In my self-driving car?

One side effect is that mountain roads could become an awful lot safer - once all cars without mesh networking are banned from them - as the mesh will allow cars to "see around the bends".

That's an interesting idea. At the moment cars can't see round bends because light travels n straight lines, but if they communicate with radio they'll be able to see round bends because radio waves erm, ah, um.

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Microsoft ports its Quantum Development Kit to Linux and macOS

Ian Johnston

Is this software open source?

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Full shift to electric vans would melt Royal Mail's London hub, MPs told

Ian Johnston

Re: Nice ROE

""Other factors included the expense – Tesla's entry-level Model 3 vehicle is $35,000 (£28,50) and there's no second-hand market.""

Damn, at that price (ROE) I'm putting in my order now :) :) :)

Save your money. They have only managed to make them in tiny numbers and those they have managed to make have dreadful quality and reliability problems. The big German manufacturers are rapidly heading electric, and when they do they'll eat Tesla alive.

Oh yes, and the entry level Model 3 comes with a titchy battery. If you want to do more than pootle to the shops and back you'll need to pay another £10 - 20k.

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Sheer luck helped prevent mid-air drone glider prang in Blighty

Ian Johnston

Re: It would have been...

When an aircraft is turning finals, it's airspeed and altitude are low, attempting any sudden maneuver risks a stall with very little possibility of a recovery.

Altitude may be low-ish - typically 350' AGL - but speed bloody well shouldn't be. You stick on extra speed during the downwind leg of the circuit for precisely this sort of situation.

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Ian Johnston

Well, I'm not convinced about the impact strength of a typical glider wing leading edge. It's not as if they're designed to fly in adverse weather.

On the contrary, gliders are designed to fly in the shittiest weather imaginable, and are extremely strong. I owned a plywood one which was good for +6G/-4G, with maximum design loads of +9G/-7G. Wing leading edges in particular are made very robust.

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Super Cali's futuristic robo-cars in focus. Even though a watchdog says tech is quite atrocious

Ian Johnston

Re: I keep saying...

Google/Waymo have been testing self-driving cars for nine years. They have a cute little buggy which trundles round at 25mph and can't cope with anything other than well-marked and predictable streets. Pedestrians are a problem; cyclists even more than one.

It's a little optimistic to think that in another nine years human drivers will be redundant, I fear.

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Samsung's Galaxy 9s debut, with not much other than new cameras

Ian Johnston

This seems to be another attempt to sell me a phone for around a thousand quid which can't really do any more than my sixty quid Medion/Lenovo from Aldi. What benefit would I get from spending fifteen times as much?

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SpaceX's internet satellites to beam down 'Hello world' from orbit

Ian Johnston

Litter louts

For this flight SpaceX didn’t try and recover the Falcon first-stage booster and let it crash into the ocean. The rocket was one of SpaceX's older models and had already flown once, but the company is now only recovering the last generation of its rockets, the Falcon 9 "Full Thrust" v1.2.

Since they could have recovered the stage if they wanted to, why the hell should SpaceX get away with dumping a huge lump of rubbish like that at sea? Antisocial bastards.

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