* Posts by Wilco

83 posts • joined 15 Jan 2008


Boss of venerable sect with millions of devoted followers meets boss of venerable sect with... yeah, you get the idea


Unethical cultists with little intelligence

They deserve each other.

Apple hardware priced so high that no one wants to buy it? It's 1983 all over again


Re: Multi-tasking


Eskimos are unlikely to be in the market for any snow, what with it lying around all over the place round their gaff



You think they were expensive then?

One just sold for USD56K


Wish I'd bought that one I saw in a junk shop in birmingham in the early 90's for £500

The Large Hadron Collider is small beer. Give us billions more for bigger kit, say boffins


Re: Dark matter/energy question

It's a good thought, one that was first raised more than 100 years ago. Unfortunately when you calculate the energy generated by quantum fluctuations the number that you get differs from the observed value of the cosmological constant by up to 120 orders of magnitude - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosmological_constant_problem.

My interpretation of this is that our understanding of quantum mechanics and/or the universe is incomplete. Dark energy probably isn't caused by the quantum vacuum, and may not exist at all. Perhaps Mike McCulloch is right with his theory of quantised inertia which claims to be able to derive the expansion of the universe and galaxy rotations without dark energy or dark matter. Or perhaps we won't come across the correct theory for another 100 years. I do know that the smartest and best funded people we have have been looking really hard for both for a number of decades and so far they've got zilch. You do the maths.

Facebooker swatted, Kaspersky snares an NSA thief, NASA server exposed, and more


Re: Why loathed care to elaborate?

Ill informed journo - it's better than a lot of the alternatives.

Jira is a very good issue management system. It's not as good as it could/should be as a tool to manage Scrum/Kanban projects but if you have distributed teams or need to do some level of management reporting on progress it's better than a physical board.

My main complaint is that the agile feature set isn't really evolving - it doesn't seem to have changed much for years. I guess atlassian are now too big to be able to innovate

Waymo's revolutionary driverless robo-taxi service launches in America... with drivers


Re: Excessive Snark

Especially when they are being disruptive. Top of the list you linked to is SpaceX

They started off launching and in fact exploding a 21m, 27 tonne rocket in 2006. They are now sucessfully launching a reusable 71m, 1400 tonne rocket. Incremental delivery.


Excessive Snark

Of course they are rolling it out to a tiny number of people in the easiest city they can find with humans to monitor it. That's how they get the data they need to scale it up and out.

This is how we do technology development in the 21st century - incremental delivery.

What a meth: Woman held for 3 months after cops mistake candy floss for hard drugs


The Met or South Yorkshire police (to name but 2). Doubtless some are fine. Many are one or more of lazy, incompetent, racist and badly lead

You wanna be an alpha... tester of The Register's redesign? Step this way


Comments on redesign

I like the general direction but there are some things that could be improved. I'm using latest Chrome with adblock on.

1) I don't like the hover over grey highlight. It seems more extreme than the current site Also the hover state is much lower contrast than the regular state, which makes it hard to read for old blind people like me.

2) The alignment of boxes seems quite random. The main headline width doesn't align with the smaller story box underneath. The picture width doesn't align with the story boxes.

3) Ad boxes mess up the size of the other boxes. There is a random ad at the right in row 3 whose size is completely unrelated to other boxes, bit which makes the other story boxes smaller and messes up the alignment.

4) The new page seems to be divided into "Top Stories" and "Most Read". Is the most read section fully controlled by page views? Is this different to the current site?

5) Too many ines around things - I would get rid of them all

6) The top row of the most read section has a grey background for no obvious reason

Notes/Domino is alive! Second beta of version 10 is imminent


My favourite Notes bug

I am surprised that IBM continues to flog that particular nag. Notes was always full of surprises, but not in a good way.

Back when I was a Notes victim^h^h^h^h^h^h user I dutifully set my out of office message for my upcoming holiday in July 2006

I messed up the dates, so that I set it to apply from (say) July 20 2005 to July 28 2006

Notes immediately sent an out of office message to absolutely everyone who had sent me an email in the past year. I knew this because I immediately received dozens of out of office emails (presumably from Outlook users who had managed to correctly set their out of office messages).

It kind of makes sense, if you remember that Notes is not a mail client - it's an application development platform that someone used to make a mail client as demo, and things got out of hand from there.

Python creator Guido van Rossum sys.exit()s as language overlord


Re: Futuristic progression of Programming Languages?

"All hardware sucks, all software sucks, all languages suck. They all suck the same (but in different ways)."

... except Scala, obvs

Mine's the one with the trefoil on the back ...

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


Re: Disagree....

If you want type safe resource safe programming I'd suggest Java, or preferably Scala.

There are now only narrow use cases for C++: embedded systems, low level systems programming, hard resource or performance constraints that you have demonstrated that you can't meet with a more tractable language.

I spent a decade writing C++, and nearly 20 years more working in Java, Scala, C# and F#. Only very occasionally have I had to fall back to C++ to meet some non-functional requirement.

The idea of writing a large scale system with a modern distributed architecture in C++ is ludicrous. Even if you could, what would be the point? And where would you get the developers.

Not quite a dead language, but one with increasingly little point

So when can you get in the first self-driving car? GM says 2019. Mobileye says 2021. Waymo says 2018 – yes, this year


Re: I have a 2018 Nissan Leaf with ProPilot...

No, they just have to work significantly more safely than human driven vehicles, which is actually a pretty low target. In the UK there were 1716 road fatalities in the UK, and 24,101 serious injuries. No automated technology that caused that level of injuries would be acceptable, and it's actually quite hard to see how we could make self driving cars as bad as that. 26000 serious injuries and deaths is 70 every single day.

If we had most cars being self driving I suspect that we could reduce that by 90% or more. For a start 13% of those fatalities involved drivers over the limit.

Data here:



Wow, did you see what happened to Veracode? Oh no, no, it's not dead. It's been bought by CA


Re: Well, I guess we're not going to proceed with Veracode then

Probably a good call. Software company acquisitions very rarely work out well for customers or employees. Presumably they work out OK for the shareholders of the companies concerned, but I'm not usually in that category..

I used to work at CA in the dodgy days of recently released convicted felon and ex CEO Sanjay Kumar and completely innocent ex CEO Charles Wang.

I sure it's all absolutely fine there now. Oh yes, definitely.

Watch: MIT's terrifying invisible gel robo-eels snatch live fish


Huge Progress

The fish is interesting, but the work that boston dynamics have done as part of Alphabet is amazing. And yes, a bit scary. I for one welcome our new roller skating robot overlords.

Oh, the things Vim could teach Silicon Valley's code slingers


Stone age tools

vi is a stone age tool, emacs is probably bronze age.

I've been using emacs (and vi/vim, if necessary) since the 80's, but you I know for a fact that I can produce better code faster in Java or Scala with modern tools.

You can carve what ever you want out of wood with a flint axe, but you can't build a 747 or a skyscraper with one. You can strap whatever you want to vim by way of plugins, but it's never going to be the sort of power tool that IntelliJ is.

Boffins link ALIEN STRUCTURE ON VENUS to Solar System's biggest ever grav wave


Re: Will nobody think of the tax payers?

If the fluid is moving and the phenomenon is stationary, then it's surely it is being propagated.

Outage-hit Lloyds Bank in talks to outsource data centres to IBM


Re: Banks...who needs them anyways?

Pedantic, perhaps, but retail banks in the UK can't print money, except in Scotland where RBS, Clydesdale and BoS can. Proper beer tokens are issued by the Bank of England.

This 'cloud storage' thing is going to get seriously big in 2017


Re: Stick with RAID and LTO instead.

Any business? What about, say, a big online retailer? There's one beginning with A that might disagree. Or that large search engine beginning with G.

The old ways are the best, aren't they? Young people today, they don't know they're born, what with their tattoos, and their beards, and their hyperscale resilient distributed architectures. And you can't tell if they're boys or girls. And their music, it's just thump thump thump ...

Chinese boffins: We're testing an 'impossible' EM Drive IN SPAAAACE


Re: There is one born every day...

I don't think it's a scam, because there's no mark, and there's no payoff. It might be wrong, but having followed this for a long time, I think it's most probably either genuinely wrong or genuinely right.

Black Light Power is more likely to be a scam, because they've been tapping investors for large sums of money for a really long time. However their recent results are certainly intriguing.

And yes, if you combine a working emDrive with an efficient BLP you can get to the outer solar system in months, the nearest star in a decade or two.

The probability that both are real is low, but if it turns out that they are, then the future we were promised might just arrive before I pop my clogs.

We're going to have to start making changes or the adults will do it for us


You OK hon? Really?

Uber drivers entitled to UK minimum wage, London tribunal rules


Re: When UBER loses the Appeal

Uber isn't prebooking. You can't prebook a car with Uber. It depends on scale so that it usually (in London at least) has a car only a few minutes away. It's unclear how this ruling will affect their business model. I would guess not that much.

They'll need to figure out some way of defining when people are getting their hourly rate, and some kind of controls about how many rides they have to accept during that time, but other than that it will be business as usual

The fares will probably go up, but there will be even more people wanting to drive for Uber as a result, which will make the service better, and that may be enough to keep demand up too.

Latest F-35 bang seat* mods will stop them breaking pilots' necks, beams US


Re: minimum weight

Even if s/he's upside down his forward velocity will decreasing fairly violently if the aircraft was doing mach 2 when the handle was pulled

It's quite possible that drag will slow down the pilot vertically too - a bang seat will initially be accelerating at 20+G and won't take long to exceed the terminal velocity

Adventures in (re) naming your business: Fire up the 4-syllable random name generator


What is this Sh1t? Why is it here? What does it mean?

Apple's Breaxit scandal: Frenchman smashes up €50,000 of iThings with his big metal balls


I don't want to defend the apple tax, or journos using the full retail value of unsold goods, but 16 USD for an iphone is way off


According to this reasonably credible sounding thing


The bill of materials for an iPhone 7 is 225 USD.

To this you need to add manufacturing costs, packaging and shipping - maybe 25 USD

You should also allocate some portion of R&D, marketing and admin costs, Apple spends around 10B USD a year on R&D, amounting to 4% of revenue (234B USD), so we could estimate that around 30 USD of the 650 USD price of an iPhone is R&D.

If we allow similar amounts for marketing and admin, we get to around 100 USD total for overheads.

So my estimate of the cost of an iPhone to Apple is 350 USD, call it 350 euros.

So our lunatic froggy friend would need to smash 140 or so iphones to reach 50K euros - unlikely, though he did smash some macbooks and imacs too, which which will have increased his run rate

Hololens for biz shocker: Surprisingly, it doesn't totally suck


Re: Anyone know how well it works with spectacles?

It works OK with specs. I have high prescription astigmatism and the headset fits well over my glasses, The headband is adjustable. There's a removable nose support that I tend to take off. I've worn it for quite long periods and it's not caused any eyestrain. Main problems are people in the office wanting a go and/or taking the piss.

Generally it's a really interesting technology. If I can get the thing I'm working on working it might even be useful.

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's... er, Graphene bubbles – 200 times stronger than Superman


Re: Gigapascals?

Quite right, I GP = 1/29 of an elephant pin standing. A new reg unit dawns.


Re: Gigapascals?

Since you asked

area of pin head = 2mm^2 = 2 * 10^-6 m^2

mass of an african bush elephant = 6000 kg

force exerted by elephant on earth = 6000 * 9.8 = 58,800 N

1 pascal = 1 N / m^2

Pressure of 1 elephant standing on tippy toe on a pin head

58,800 / 2 * 10^-6 = 58,800 * 10^6 / 2 = 29.4 gigapascals

Therefore 29 and a bit elephants

Bimodal IT: Let the backlash begin


Yep, that's the point. The people who have the money can't usually do any of it. That's not their job - their job is to make decision about how the money gets spent. It was much harder to get those people to invest in automated deployment before we started calling it DevOps.


Whenever someone comes up with a name for something, hoary old IT greybeards immediately pipe up with "we've been doing that for ages, what's everyone so excited about?". The fact is that giving abstract ideas names enables people to have conversations about them, to refine them, to decide how they apply to their situation and to secure backing to roll them out. See also agile, DevOps,

In mourning for Nano, chap crafts 1k-loc text editor


Re: Nice

Not sure about that. It's neat enough, but most of it depends on updating a global struct editorConfig instance E. It wouldn't have been that hard or that many more lines (could be less), to wrap this up so that changes to this global state were encapsulated. Some tests would be nice, too.

Love the comment on enableRawMode

Three non-obvious reasons to Vote Leave on the 23rd


I don't think that the "oeriod of air turbulence" as you call it will be short, and is quite likely to result in the the wings coming off the plane.

While I have some sympathy with your arguments, it's simply not worth the recession, the nosedive in the value of the pound , the inflation, the rise in interest rates and the additional unemployment that will inevitably follow for the at least a couple of years until the divorce is finalized.

There are lots of positive reasons for remaining in - trade, the economic benefits of migration, solidarity and common purpose with our neighbours - but fundamentally the main reason for staying is that we will all be poorer if we do.

London Mayor election day bug forced staff to query vote DB by hand

Black Helicopters

If it sounds dodgy, it is dodgy

It should be a legal requirement that all software used to decide the outcome of elections should be open source. Determining the winner in elections run on a non First Past the Post basis (Single Transferrable Vote and various forms of PR) can require some relatively complicated algorithms. The implementation of these algorithms needs to be open to public scrutiny so that it is harder for errors or deliberate cheating to affect the outcome of the democratic process.

Human counted election are transparent because the counting is done in public by a large group of people.

Computer counted elections can only be equivalently transparent if the source code is open to all for inspection.

And there's no need for this code to be closed source. The vendors have to adjust their business models from "selling election software" to "providing election vote counting services"

Don't go chasing waterfalls, please stick... Hang on. They're back


Oldies can still function

Can I just say that I am in my 50s and I'm doing Agile Scala development on Spark.

'Impossible' EmDrive flying saucer thruster may herald new theory of inertia


Re: enables high speed interstellar travel – but with only minimal fuel

Yes it does. It's electric. You gather your electrons using Solar panels. You accelerate half way there, then turn around a decelerate the rest of the way. No fuel. If you are heading away from the sun then you might need to start decelerating a bit sooner, to account for the lower power as you get further away

Google broke its own cloud AGAIN, with TWO software bugs


Re: Storing your Companys' commercial secrets on Google Cloud ...

Why? This issue didn't affect commercial confidentiality or data security, it affected availability. I'd be confident that my data is more secure in google's data centre than it is in some poorly patched corporate data cupboard-under-the-stairs. I might not always be able to get access to it, but hey, if I can't then the h4xx0rs can't either.

Moreover, when something goes wrong they are pretty good about finding out what it was, fixing it and then telling everyone in detail about it. Working at large financial services organisations, I've seen any number of major outages where the root cause analysis was "dunno" and the follow up action was "cross fingers".

Spinning rust fans reckon we'll have 18TB disk drives in two years


16TB SSD is already available from Samsung http://gizmodo.com/samsungs-16tb-ssd-is-now-an-actual-thing-people-can-buy-1762536707 for those with deep pockets

By the time they get the 18TB rust-twirler working the chips will be cheaper than the platters.

Game over, man.

Microsoft's equality and diversity: Skimpy schoolgirls dancing for nerds at an Xbox party


Re: Sex is a marketing way to sell stuff? What a news!

Sexism isn't hip. You're the square, daddy-o

Trump's new thought bubble: Make Apple manufacture in the USA


Re: Corrections and Clarifications Column

It's undoubtedly true that workers in China are paid a lot less than those in Merryka, In 2014 Foxconn paid US$370 / month to it's workers (http://www.chinalaborwatch.org/report/107). The minimum wage in the US is US$7.25, corresponding to $1257 / month for a 40 hour week (7.25*40*52/12 - though workers in china work a lot more hours than that)

However, Apple has plenty of spare billions and could afford to eat the additional cost (and the additional US tax it would pay), or raise prices a little and accept slightly lower sales.

The real problem is going to be finding 1,500,000 american workers skilled/trainable in microelectronic assembly who aren't otherwise employed, not to mention, say, 100 enormous factories for them to work in. Foxconn's revenues are 131 billion, and it's taken 40 years to get to the scale that they are at now.

You can't force Apple to do the impossible.

Anyway, chances are that President Trump will have started a nuclear war long before Apple can finish even one factory

Group rattles tin in bid to snatch TfL licence from Uber's paw


Presumably they have, since Uber does check that its drivers have commercial insurance and a private hire license.

The guardian ran a story a few months ago in which they managed to get someone signed up as a driver with faked insurance docs, but I doubt that that loophole is still open. In any case it's against both the law and the terms of a private hire license not to have proper insurance. If you want to commit a crime this doesn't seem like the easiest or most fun one to pick.

Minicabs are crap. Black cabs are expensive. Uber is convenient, reasonably priced, and people seem to want to drive for them. I don't think raising best part of a million quid and giving it to lawyers is going to change these facts.

Decoding Microsoft: Cloud, Azure and dodging the PC death spiral


Yes, MS are powering Azure with Windows Server - the underlying OS appears to be Windows Server 2008 according to wikipedia.

You are probably right that you get a bit more bang from given hardware with Linux, though it's quite hard to find any compelling recent evidence for this. I'm not sure that this really matters very much in a world where compute resources are metered.

Is the world ready for a bare-metal OS/2 rebirth?


Security and Windows support

How secure is this going to be? In the 90s security from malware wasn't really on the agenda. Surely both the apps and the OS are going to be riddled with the type of issues that get patched every day on the Windows. I did a lot of OS/2 programming back in the 90s and any of the web stuff I did would I'm sure be massively vulnerable.

Adding to that is the fact that I would be astonished if the windows app support worked for 64 bit apps, and pretty surprised if any recent win32 app requiring windows 8 or .net framework 4.5+ worked on OS/2. The windows support was the result of a cross licensing agreements with MS that have doubtless long since expired.

So although there will be fewer people trying, if anyone does it's not going to take them long to get in.

Linus Torvalds fires off angry 'compiler-masturbation' rant


Re: @Def

Not true. C requires constant vigilance for buffer over/underruns, arithmetic overflows pointer aliasing etc etc, all of which can occur in C code without any compile time or run time warning. Other languages have features that reduce the impact or interrupt control flows when these things happen. Unfortunately most of them aren't very suitable for writing OS kernals.

Ex-Microsoft craft ale buffs rattle tankard for desktop brewery


Re: "Real Ale, by contrast, does have a definition."

Tough break, Gluten free beer here: http://omissionbeer.com/

'Merican, but sounds alright if you can get some shipped over.

Linux kernel dev who asked Linus Torvalds to stop verbal abuse quits over verbal abuse


"Every attempt to mobil-ify desktop OS has resulted in a train wreck."

Really? iOS is a mobil-ified version of OSX, and whatever your opinion of Apple, it's hard to say that iOS is a train wreck.

All the attempts to moblify Linux (Tizen, Meego, Firefox OS) have definitely been train wrecks. Maybe Linux on mobile needs Scott Forstall. He's available ...

More BlackBerry layoffs: 200 Venice devs binned amid Android shift


BB Bought Good?

That's a big deal (and a smart move). All the banks use Good to support BYOD on iPhone. I am surprised that the Register didn't cover this. I may have to start looking elsewhere for my primary tech news source if el reg continues to waste time snarking about climate change while not covering important news stories like this

Uber is killing off iconic black cabs, warns Zac Goldsmith


Re: It's minicabs not black cabs that are at risk

Glad that suits you, but you do sound a bit like my 6 year old, who won't eat anything he hasn't tried before. Uber is very convenient, cheaper than a black cab and provides much better service than any of the minicab firms I have ever used. There's no waiting for them to answer, no "sorry mate we've got nothing for at least 40 mins", no anxiety about whether/when the cab will arrive - you can see it in realtime on the app. I hope that some of the better minicab firms will survive, but I'm not optimisitic


It's minicabs not black cabs that are at risk

if you need to be somewhere in a hurry in central London black cabs are probably the best option. I suspect there will continue to be a market for a cab that you can hail on the street at a premium price (like now).

What seems more likely is that existing minicab firms will go to the wall, If everyone is driving for Uber who's going to drive for your local minicab firm? I know I haven't phoned for a minicab since I first got the Uber app, and I don't imagine I ever will. Most minicabs are a bit shit, so I can't say I'm heartbroken, but it is bad for competition - once it's just black cabs and Uber, prices are bound to go up. Saddiq Khan appears to understand this - Goldsmith, and the Reg hack who wrote the piece, don't seem to.

Apple's big secret: It's an insurance firm (now with added finance)


My iphone 4 lasted nearly 4 years before I chose to upgrade. I expect my iPhone 6 will last a similar length of time, during which it will continue to be upgraded and improved by software updates - which seems to be far from guaranteed for android phones

Upgrading is a hassle, so buying something that lasts longer makes sense to me. And it's better for the environment.

There do seem to be a few phones that are roughly equivalent to an iPhone 6 available for £250. There aren't any close equivalents to an iPhone 6s for that money.

Apple's tight control results in a somewhat more secure ecosystem

Apple phones have a higher second hand value than android phones

So overall you might save some money by buying cheaper android phones - but not necessarily, and you're probably going have to spend more time upgrading

That sounds like quite a reasonable deal for a higher up front cost

Why do driverless car makers have this insatiable need for speed?


Re: Descisions

This specific situation is easy to deal with:

You should never program a car to swerve into oncoming traffic, because the forces involved between two cars in a head on collision will be much, much higher due to the rapid deceleration. Also you are increasing the average number of people involved, since the average occupancy of vehicles is > 1.

Even if it's inevitable that the pedestrian is going to be hit, the car will have some time to reduce the impact speed, and possibly deploy pedestrian safety measures such as pop up bonnets, which will reduce the severity of passenger injuries.

In practice programming a car to minimize harm to the occupants of the car and other road users (probably in that order - who's going to get in a car that will drive them off a cliff to avoid a pedestrian?) should give acceptable results.

You can probably devise some contrived situation where an impossible choice has to be made (see "The Trolley Problem") but the chances of any such situation actually arising are very small


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