* Posts by Simon Harris

2432 posts • joined 1 Mar 2007

Bandersnatch to gander snatched: Black Mirror choices can be snooped on, thanks to privacy-leaking Netflix streams

Simon Harris Silver badge

Re: Oh for god's sake...

If your viewing habits can be intercepted, there's a chance you can infer an awful lot about a person... even to the point where it could be damaging, even ending someone up in jail

Maybe Charlie Brooker should write an episode of Black Mirror about how someone's Bandersnatch choices turned them into a social pariah.

Brit prisoners to be kept on the straight and narrow with JavaScript and CSS

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Those prisoners still protesting their innocence.

"It wasn't me, guv, I've been iframed"

Crew Dragon returns to dry land as NASA promises new space station for the Moon

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"Surely for it to be viable, you would need to be able to bring back orders of magnitude more than you sent up."

Surely orders of magnitude in value, not necessarily volume. Earlier in the thread was the suggestion that precious and rare earth elements might be mined which might mean being able to pack a high value commodity into a smallish space if the extraction facilities could be built on the moon.

I wouldn't have thought we'd need to send back huge quantities of moon-rock for general use - we've got plenty of rock on Earth already!

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"otherwise you need to factor in the cost of lifting the container into orbit"

Couldn't that be offset somewhat by filling it with things that need to go to the moon in the first place, making it more cost effective by using it on both legs of the trip?

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@ I ain't Spartacus

When do nominations open for the packed-lunches passengers?

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"And we need to remember that the whole thing starts to look decidedly under-specced if Musk is successful in launching >100 people at a time on StarShip by 2025-30."

Even if Musk could launch >100 people at a time by 2025-2030 (that's only 6-11 years away), I'd be surprised if there was the infrastructure in space for that many people to have anywhere to go after they were launched.

Buffer overflow flaw in British Airways in-flight entertainment systems will affect other airlines, but why try it in the air?

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Re: Big deal

On one flight I had a seat with a defective frozen entertainment system.

I got them to bump me up to a better seat when I told them it was a health and safety risk to leave me where I was as I was unable to watch their 'what to do in an emergency' video.

From hard drive to over-heard drive: Boffins convert spinning rust into eavesdropping mic

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Re: Extra Security...

Good job it wasn't stuck more firmly or it would have been a marathon effort to get it out.

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Extra Security...

Just to be on the safe side, I've coated my hard drive with aerated chocolate.

Now all it can hear is a Wispa.

SPOILER alert, literally: Intel CPUs afflicted with simple data-spewing spec-exec vulnerability

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Re: It's interesting...

Back in the DOS days a competent electronic engineer could take the cover off the computer and know what (or know where to find out) exactly what every component did - in those days it wasn't uncommon for the PC's hardware manual to come with a BIOS assembly code listing and some level of schematics.

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Re: I am always disappointed in modern computing

A quote (or variations upon) sometimes attributed to John Glenn, sometimes to Alan Shepard.

The infamous AI gaydar study was repeated – and, no, code can't tell if you're straight or not just from your face

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Haven't we been here before?

This seems to be the 21st century's answer to the 19th century's phrenology.

SpaceX Crew Dragon: Launched and docked. Now, about that splashdown...

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Ripley and a cuddly earth

Surely they should have used a cuddly cat toy instead.

Ah, this military GPS system looks shoddy but expensive. Shall we try to break it?

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"in the hangar in the tank park"

It was a bit disappointing to read that no tanks were involved in the "survivability testing". Surely "being driven over by a tank" is an everyday hazard of army kit.

Three-quarters of crucial border IT systems at risk of failure? Bah, it's not like Brexit is *looks at watch* err... next month

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Re: "We are fucked"

I didn't get frotted once on the train from Schiphol Airport to central Amsterdam (or back the other way) - I demand a refund of my train fare.

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Re: Cheer up, what's the worst that could happen?

and border control was in Latin.

Rees-Mogg is getting excited with that idea.

Simon Harris Silver badge

Re: What possible delay?

If you think all those trips to Brussels are about trying to get a new agreement...

Theresa May: "Oooh, that's a nice crate of wine in the AirMiles catalogue... How many points have I got?... Oh, a couple more trips to Brussels and I'm sorted".

Mine's the one with the copy of the Lisbon Treaty in the pocket ------>

I say, that sucks! Crooks are harnessing hoovers to clean out parking meters in Chelsea

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With German vacuum cleaners...

Bish, Bash, Bosch, job done.

Age checks for online pr0n? I've never heard of it but it sounds like a good idea – survey

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Re: Age check = ID

Or conversely, ask questions that only an underage person would be expected to know...

Who's winning X-factor? What's happening in Hollyoaks?... that kind of thing.

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Yoti's recently launched age-estimation tech, which uses neural network learning to estimate a person's age from an image of their face, with a mean error rate of ±2.5 years in the 18-30 age band.

They found some of the estimates were way off, until they discovered the subjects were just out-lying about their age.

Mine's the one with SPSS for Dummies in the pocket --->

Spooky! Solar System's Planet NINE could be discovered in the next NINE years (plus one to six), say astroboffins

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Re: It's Dark out there.

"it is probably composed of dark matter..."

Either that or Hotblack Desiato's gone and had a stunt planet built.

In a galaxy far, far away, aliens may have eight-letter DNA – like the kind NASA-backed boffins just crafted

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Re: 8 letters not needed - here anyway

"20 different amino acids are used... there is plenty of space for more."

I believe the official DNA datasheet has them marked as 'reserved for future expansion'.

Currently the unused codons perform a 'halt and catch fire' function, so their use should be avoided.

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When it turns out that 4-base human DNA is a subset of galactic 8-base alien DNA, Aliens will surely say...

All your base are belong to us.

Mine's the one with the Sega Mega Drive in the pocket --->

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"The additional four molecules have incredibly long complex chemical names to spell out here"

Maybe NASA could run a competition for more snappy names for the four new bases.

I would suggest Ali-ine and Predat-ine for the first two.

Not so smart after all: A techie's tale of toilet noise horror

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Re: Ironing

That sounds like the sort of thing Charlie Brooker would come up with.

What's in a name? Quite a bit when it's the most hated abbreviation of 2018 (GDPR, of course)

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Surely BENELUX is a portmanteau word BElgium + NEtherlands + LUXembourg rather than an acronym. It's ironic that the smallest country gets the most letters.

'Occult' text from Buffy The Vampire Slayer ep actually just story about new bus lane in Dublin

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Re: In jokes on screen

I'm sure I remember one of the mid-80s (no special effects budget) Dr Who episodes with a special effect consisting of flashing stars covering one of the characters in the Tardis.

It appears they'd genlocked a BBC Micro's (identifiable by the style of the character set) video signal to the studio's video and overlaid some randomly positioned asterisks onto the picture.

Simon Harris Silver badge

Did the spells get worse over the years?

I'm sure in the earlier series of Buffy they made some pretence of creating spells that had to be incanted in some ancient language.

By series 6, it seemed at least some of Willow's spells had shrunk to single words of Latin (or something that sounded Latinish), quite possibly influenced by Harry Potter, whose films had started to appear by then.

Last night I saw a series 7 episode, where Willow's spell was in English, consisting of a poem that a greetings card would have been embarrassed to have inside it.

Simon Harris Silver badge

Re: In jokes on screen

I still remember an Acorn System 1 featuring as the computer that controlled the Scorpio spaceship on Blake's 7.

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Re: Season Four is bad

Hush being one of those series 4 redeeming episodes.

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Re: In jokes on screen

"and in some cases even books with blank pages."

That's usually after Willow's had a go at them.

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"A beer while we wait"

Beer Bad

(which happened to be one of the episodes best forgotten)

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Re: pro-Buffy flame war.

Better not, or you'll spoil the Harmony of the forum.

Cut open a tauntaun, this JEDI is frozen! US court halts lawsuit over biggest military cloud deal since the Death Star

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Re: Blakes 7

Bloody Hell! I've made two Blake's 7 comments within 24 hours (the other in the Buffy article).

Do we need a proper nerd icon here, or is that

taken as read if you've got an El Reg account? --------------------->

Simon Harris Silver badge
Big Brother

Re: Blakes 7

I'm thinking it may be a reference to the Federation's Control.

Control was located on Earth, in the Forbidden Zone, it housed the Federation's computer complex to monitor information; political, civil, military: everything related to the Federation's operations and interests. It was the nerve centre of all Federation activity. Thirty years before Roj Blake infiltrated the location the Federation popularised as being Control's location it was moved to Star One.


WWW = Woeful, er, winternet wendering? CERN browser rebuilt after 30 years barely recognizes modern web

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Re: Sigh. Those were the days.

I remember when if you wanted Yahoo to include your site you had to write to them to get it put on.

What did turbonerds do before the internet? 41 years ago, a load of BBS

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Re: Booting

"You'd be hard pushed to get a system up-and-running within 30 seconds these days."

Somewhere along the line we seem to have lost the ability to make things that instantly start up.

My TiVo takes forever from power-on to being usable, and my (not very) 'smart' TV seems to take longer from switching on to showing a picture than my grandma's 1960s Pye black and white valve TV. At least the smart TV doesn't whistle while it warms up!

A once-in-a-lifetime Opportunity: NASA bids emotional farewell to its cocky, hardworking RC science car on Mars

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"Might be an idea to use an ultrasonic cleaning system as used in digital SLR's for getting dust off the sensors?"

... and my SLR sensors still have dust particles stuck to them that need a proper fluid based clean.

Pandas so useless they just look at delicious kid who fell into enclosure

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"They're needlessly picky when it comes to selecting a mate"

Maybe add some beer into their diet and wait for the goggles to take effect.

Fun fact: GPS uses 10 bits to store the week. That means it runs out... oh heck – April 6, 2019

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"banking... GPS based time server"

Does the roll-over mean I have another 20 years to pay off my mortgage?

RIP Dr Peuto, Zilog and Sun's bright SPARC

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By the end of the 1980s I'd used all three (6502, Z80 and 6809), programming in assembly and building hardware around them for different projects. I grew up with the 6502, and that was where most of my 8-bit experience came from, a Z80 project got me my MSc, and the 6809 actually made me some money.

If you want to get that 'puzzle' spirit back try making up a small PCB with a microcontroller such as a PIC, and try fitting your application into the limited ROM available and making it work with the rather small amount of RAM on the devices. Since pretty much giving up 8-bit CPUs around 1990, I've played around with some 'puzzles', as you put it, in assembler on some 16F-series PICs.

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Re: I have a feeling that was the first one I owned too

"...although I seem to recall the cover of the edition I had being pink"

Mine was the more commonly available one with the Blue/Grey cover with the lightning bolt, however Google did also throw up a Radio Shack branded version titled "How to program the Z80", but with the same contents, that had a red (possibly pink?) and white cover.

Hold horror stories: Chief, we've got a f*cking idiot on line 1. Oh, you heard all that

Simon Harris Silver badge


Back in the pre-Virgin days when Telewest were laying fibre across London (that'll be the 1990s) they were doing door-to-door visits to sell connections to their network.

At the time I had a girlfriend who was some years older than me, and one day their marketing-droid turned up at her house and went through their spiel of what they could offer with service. Not being so technically minded, she asked if they could come back later when I would be home.

True to their word, he came back, I answered the door and he ran through their spiel and I probed him with a few questions about their network, and their cable TV which seemed reasonable enough. Then to finish off, trying to gauge which pay-TV channels they might be able to sell, he said "And what sort of films does your mother like to watch?"

Momentarily confused, since my mother lives 50 miles away, I paused and then it clicked...

The way the colour drained from his face when I said "That's not my mother you talked to before..." was a sight to behold.

Defaulting to legacy Internet Explorer just to keep that one, weird app working? Knock it off

Simon Harris Silver badge

Re: Windows

Someone must have seen sense at Microsoft.

Back in the old days I managed to trash an XP installation when I tried to uninstall Internet Explorer.

Brit Mars bot named while NASA 'nauts must wait a bit longer for a US rocket trip to the ISS

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Unless I'm missing something Thales were responsible for Schiaparelli but Airbus are indeed building the ExoMars rover.



Having said that, Thales and Airbus do have a partnership on many projects, so I wouldn't be surprised if they both have a hand in it.

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Alternative name for the Brit Mars bot.

Roy of the Rovers?

Pants-purveyor in plea for popularity: It's not just any pork push... it's an M&S 'love sausage'

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Re: M&S and MS

Is there a version of MS Office made out of sausages? That might get me to buy it.

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M&S Love Sausage...

Are they taking the St. Michael?

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Re: Not pants, knickers.

IoT - Internet of Thongs.

Simon Harris Silver badge

Re: Not pants, knickers.

I wouldn't get your knickers in a twist over the M&S lingerie wars - it'll turn out to be nothing more than a storm in a C-cup.

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