* Posts by Mark Dempster

164 posts • joined 6 Feb 2008


Hurrah for Apollo 9: It has been 50 years since 'nauts first took a Lunar Module out for a spin

Mark Dempster

Re: I always thought the LM was the greatest engineering result in reaching the Moon...

I think you're ignoring Gemini 8, which docked with the Agena. For a short time, at least....

Mark Dempster

Re: I'm planning aa marathon

The Spacewalker is pretty good, if you don't mind subtitles.


Danger mouse! Potent rodents 'see' infrared after eyeballs injected with nanoparticles

Mark Dempster

Re: Up to ten weeks

>Injections to the eyeball probably aren't fun.

My company has drugs that need to be administered in that way and it make me cringe to think about it.<

It's not as bad as you imagine (I had them monthly for a year or so). The first couple of times it's pretty scary, but it's mainly the thought of it - there's no pain involved because you've had anaesthetic drops. It's just that you can see the needle coming closer & closer... then your image becomes swirly for a few seconds as the fluid is injected.

It soon becomes routine, though.

UK.gov plans £2,500 fines for kids flying toy drones within 3 MILES of airports

Mark Dempster


Virtually all the reported sightings were at times when it would have been very dark. Even if the alleged drone had navigation lights on it, it would be very difficult to distinguish them from the lights of real aircraft - and there would be plenty of those in the area.

Iran satellite fails: ICBM test drive or microsat test? Opinion is divided...

Mark Dempster

It might prevent US aggression

Let's not forget that the USA have been making threatening noises towards Iran for many years now - just as they did toward North Korea.

Those states can be much more confident that Trump won't decide to invade if they're capable of causing some serious damage in return, even if they are totally out-gunned.

Your mates vape. Your boss quit smoking. You promised to quit in 2019. But how will Big Tobacco give it up?

Mark Dempster

You might have convinced yourself, but no-one with a brain...

Big Falcon Namechange for Musk's rocket: BFR becomes Starship

Mark Dempster

Re: Starship

>should've picked "Thunderbird 6"<

Thunderbird 6 was a Tiger Moth...

Scumbag who phoned in a Call of Duty 'swatting' that ended in death pleads guilty to dozens of criminal charges

Mark Dempster

Re: So the police bear no responsibility ?

>"pandering to the perception" (U.S. cops being trigger happy murderers waiting for an excuse, and gun rights being an 'enabler' for them to 'be that way') might make you *feel* better, but it's neither TRUE nor HELPING.

And in my opinion FEELINGS are IRRELEVANT.

More often than not, guns STOP crimes.<

Speaking as one of the relatively few people in the UK who shoots in a number of different disciplines (and even trained as a gunsmith many years ago) I can hardly be accused of being anti-gun; but your statement that guns stop crime is, despite being peddled by Trump supporters everywhere, absolute hogwash. There may be a small number of occasions when it's been the case, but it's the simple widespread availability of very dangerous hardware - and lack of suitable checks/restrictions - that is the root cause of the USA's problems with gun violence. It's why these things happen more in the USA than elsewhere.

US and UK Amazon workers get a wage hike – maybe they'll go to the movies, by themselves

Mark Dempster

>Who is championing the equivalent legislation in the UK? I suspect, nobody.<

The labour party is aiming to bring in a £10 minimum wage when it regains power, and to do away with zero hour contracts.

Mark Dempster

Re: What's the net benefit to workers?

>Now I'm confused. If Sanders is a dirty rotten commie why does this policy sound like Thatcherism ?<

You ARE confused. It's Thatcherism (and its US counterpart Reaganomics) that has led to the situation where large corporations are effectively receiving state benefits rather than individuals.

Mark Dempster

Re: What's the net benefit to workers?

>According to Sanders, the goal of the bill is to eliminate government subsidies to workers due to low wages. A bit surprising since Sanders is on the far left of the political spectrum. He must be torn between sticking it to Bezos et al and doling out other people's money.<

I think you've misunderstood his motivation. The point is that the state is currently subsidising companies that COULD afford to pay a living wage, by topping up the wages of their employees. State welfare is a great thing to have in society, but it should be there to help the individuals that need it - not to reduce the wage bills of multinational companies.

We have the same issue over here in the UK; I don't know how the figures compare in the states, but in the UK the MAJORITY of our benefits payments are made to people who are actually in work - not to the 'scroungers' that the right-wing media like to demonise. The Labour party have a similar living wage proposal to Sanders', so hopefully the problem will be addressed before too long...

Never mind Brexit. UK must fling more £billions at nuke subs, say MPs

Mark Dempster

Re: Here We Go Again.....

The MOD fully expected to have aircraft for the carriers. They were postponed by the Tory defence review in 2010, when they also sold our entire fleet of Harriers (which could have operated from them in the meantime) to the USA for £1

London's Gatwick Airport flies back to the future as screens fail

Mark Dempster

>It really doesn't double the cabling costs. Pulling a multi-pair cable is a sensible precaution and if it is combined with the appropriate type of switch failover to an alternative pair is seamless. The switch will even notify that a pair has failed so that action can be taken by the SOA. The only difference in price is the cost of cable + switches which is minimal because labour is the big spend.<

That probably wouldn't have prevented the issue, though, as pulling 2 cables from the same location to the same destination means they're separated by millimeters at best - so both would have been cut through at the same time.

If you're going to this trouble (and for something so important why wouldn't you?) then you need 2 completely different runs of cable, preferably from 2 different providers, coming into the building at different locations.

The last phablet? 6.4in Samsung Galaxy Note 9 leaves you $1k lighter, needs 'water cooling'

Mark Dempster

Re: Mifi+Tablet+(VOIP(Sipgate/Skype/Other))=Phablet

>Why does anybody bother getting a large screen smartphone?<

In my case it's because I have crap eyesight & fat fingers.

Mark Dempster

Re: Nobody buys Samsung anymore...

>Nobody buys Samsung anymore...

They're too common.<

Surely the fact that they're common PROVES that people are buying them?

Almost 1 in 3 Brits think they lack computer skills to do their jobs well

Mark Dempster

Re: Just wait until all the old people die off

>you mean the worlds 5th largest employer getting funding of nearly £4000 per second *underfunded*

The NHS employs 1.7 million people across the UK. It is the country’s biggest employer and ranks at number five globally

Planned spending for the Department of Health in England is approximately £123.7 billion in 2017/18<

So? It's still underfunded, even if the numbers do look scary to those who don't understand them. If you look at what the NHS does with that money, the outcomes it achieves, etc, it's still the most efficient healthcare system in the world. It would be more efficient still if this government didn't keep making 'efficiency savings' which actually make it LESS efficient...

I assume you favour an insurance based system like the USA? Where (like any insurance policy) they avoid paying out for anything they can wriggle out of, won't cover pre-existing conditions, & have limits on how long treatment can be funded? Most times that they do pay out they don't cover all the cost, and the patient has to cover some/most of it themselves. Healthcare-related debt is the most common cause of bankruptcy in the US - and still costs more per head than the NHS

Microsoft devises new way of making you feel old: Windows NT is 25

Mark Dempster

Re: "It took Redmond until 2000 to create a usable server edition."

>But in doing so you make it 4x more expensive. Not that NT was cheap, but Netware was pretty pricey and the difference was enough to pay for a substantial hardware upgrade.<

The genius thing that MS did to beat NetWare was not to bother enforcing user licence counts...

You could run 100 or more users on NT with only a 5 CAL setup as long as you weren't worried about the legalities - and many companies weren't. NetWare enforced the user count very strictly, so you HAD to buy the appropriate number of (very expensive) licences.

That's why you rarely see Netware any more.

Mark Dempster

Re: 16MB?

>Luxury! We had 1KB RAM and counted ourselves lucky!

And we could play a game a chess with that!<

Still the only computer chess game that I've actually beaten...

Brit spending watchdog brands GP Primary Support Care a 'complete mess'

Mark Dempster

Re: and to think...

>The State is inefficient. And NHS proves it, it does not matter if they outsource or not, the result is going to be the same.<

No, it's not. That's just an argument that neoliberals use to justify cuts.

The NHS is (or was) the most efficient healthcare service in the world. Despite always being a rationed service it delivered excellent outcomes for low cost (compared to other systems). The problems come from politicians trying to run it as a business. For example they see 80% bed occupancy as inefficient, so they cut the number of beds available to give 95% occupancy. That might work for a hotel, but not a hospital! That 20% 'spare' figure was in order to cope with sudden emergency demand, or natural increases such as happen during the winter. So now, in the 'newly-efficient' service, we can no longer cope with bad weather & hospitals grind to a halt - including, this year, non-emergency surgery being cancelled for 2 months! Just think what kind of backlog that causes, quite apart from increased suffering.

These organisations had specialised knowledge & experience that is lost when bringing in outsourcing. Politicians with none of these skills should leave them alone, beyond ensuring that they have the resources required.

Outsourcing never works as advertised - and I'm ex-Capita myself.

Sysadmin sank IBM mainframe by going one VM too deep

Mark Dempster

>That usage in the US has gone away decades ago. It was current when typewriters were a thing and was used then, but since computers came around, nobody abbreviates pound as #.<

The term still seems to be used by most telephone conferencing systems, automated licencing validations, etc

At last! Apple admits its MacBook Pro butterfly keyboards utterly suck, offers free replacements

Mark Dempster

>Whilst they are not as robust as the older models, doesn't mean you hammer the hell out of the keyboards just to prove a point! I keep my clean and where possible, for example when Im working from home, will use an external bluetooth keyboard.<

So, you yourself prefer to use a completely different keyboard and you admit that it's less robust than earlier versions, but you don't understand why people complain about them?

Do you not see any problem with that?

Tech firms, come to Blighty! Everything is brill! Brexit schmexit, Galileo schmalileo

Mark Dempster

>Here is how you make the UK the number one destination for business. Cut business tax rates to 17.5%.

Cut income tax rates to 20% for everyone and the first £20,000 of everyone earnings are completely tax free.

Dismantle the welfare state entirely and allow private free enterprise to take care of the rest.

If we have a tariff free trade deal with the US and EU we become the best place in the world to do business and companies would flood here from all over the world.

This isn't rocket science, it's simply a total rejection of socialism, marxism and post modernism which are a cancer that eat away at the soft under belly of our nation.<

In other words, let people starve as long as the 1% get richer. Well done.

Mark Dempster

Re: It's nice to see the government being courageously optimistic!

>IMHO, none of the parties in Westminster don't have a clue about how to solve the impenting fiscal meltdown especially JC who seems to think that nationalising everything in sight is the answer but has no idea how to pay for it.<

I suggest you read the labour party manifesto - how we pay for things is described quite clearly, despite what the media might tell you.

For instance, renationalising the railways costs nothing - you simply wait for the franchise to expire, and don't put it back out to tender again. The train operators only lease their rolling stock, so we'd take up that lease & retain the profit that they make.

Mark Dempster

Re: Brexit Schmexit

>But rather than demonstrating against the Tories, why didn't you demonstrate against the clueless twats of the Labour party who have kept the Conservatives in government through a string of utterly dislikeable and incompetent leaders, all with weird, incoherent policies that have made the Labour party unelectable even against the dislikeable, colourless, cloth-eared, lightweights of the Conservatives?<

Well firstly, I'd point out that it's the tories who are actually in control, and demonstrating aginst any other party is completely pointless. Secondly, I think you'll find that the current labour leadership is eminently likeable - and it's only those who are force-fed their opinions by media moguls who don't pay any UK tax or, indeed, reside her, that believe otherwise.

>My sympathies are somewhere towards the right wing of the Conservative party, but I'd welcome a good, strong, electable Labour party,<

No, what you actually want is a return to 'new labour' - the aberration created by Tony Blair that turned the party into a slightly-watered-down clone of the tories. It's not an opposition if they implement the same policies, you know! And no point voting between one or the other, either.

The fact is, the labour party has an ambitious and fully-costed manifesto put together with the aid of nobel-prize-winning economists that offers a completely different path to the one we've been following for the last 40 years, and which has left us in the mess we're in. True opposition, in other words.

No fandango for you: EU boots UK off Galileo satellite project

Mark Dempster

>Own satellite system now. If the concern is military use ... do you really want the EU calling the shots in a a time of crisis ?<

As a member of the EU they wouldn't be able to deny us use of it at any time. As a non-member then we won't be able to use it at all, according to the rules WE insisted on. And we currently use the US GPS system - which they can, and likely would, lock us out of if it suited them.

>The EU will be harder hit than the UK since we made 90% of the hardware and software. We can get other customers and we can build our own. Or is thereg also doing an indy/telegraph where all brexit is bad innit and we have to point out every thing not in our favour. This is an opportunity for us to build our own system who we don't need to ask permission to use and we know 100% that we will be in charge of it if the shit hits the fan.<

I really don't think you understand the costs involved. And why on earth would you allow access to it for countries you don't have a military alliance with?

Mark Dempster

Re: Meh

>Another amusing development I read about this morning (msn so I dont count it as credible yet) is the EU putting together some kind of security fund to only be spent in the EU for technological developments for war. If it is true it is a good job we got out before paying for another gravy boat.<

As a member state we had the ability to veto any development such as the one you mention. So it wouldn't be an issue.

>And of course the EU is now in a trade war with the US. We should be pushing to leave asap and demanding the gov just gets on with the hard brexit (the EU could always decide to do a trade deal if they want but lets not hang on for them to get common sense). In one breath it sounds like the EU understands 'tariffs are protectionist' and then they prove clueless as they then retaliate.<

You do realise that the US's aggressive new tariffs apply to the UK too? And would do whether we were in or out of the EU? But outside the EU we'll have a lot less ability to fight back.

Mark Dempster

>Time to withdraw the U.K. from Enhanced Forward Presence, Baltic Air Policing and all the rest. Let the EU do it and foot the bill for it.<

Are you aware that the EU and NATO are not the same thing?

Mark Dempster

Re: In perspective, Galileo isn't important

>I remain ignorant - of a practical application for why we need high precision (sub-1 metre) satellite positioning. It's claimed our military or emergency services need it, but why? (Seriously)<

Because if you don't have that accuracy, you end up with much more collateral damage - eg schools being blown up rather than the nearby military target. And, even if you ignore the moral aspects of that, in this age of full-coverage journalism of such attacks it would be a PR disaster

Mark Dempster

Re: EU Are Being Vindictive

>Did Cameron not ask to implement s temporary halt to immigration into the UK ? and Angela Merkel refused ?<

I don't believe he did, no. But did YOU know (most leaver's don't seem to) that EU rules specifically state that any EU migrant can be expelled from a country if they don't have a job sfter 3 months? The UK just chose not to impose that rule. And that would surely have removed the complaint that 'they come over here for benefits and housing', wouldn't it?

Mark Dempster

Re: Dictionary anyone?

>It's a mistake to portray leave voters as stupid in my opinion, especially when the government itself didn't know initially what leaving would entail. Expecting a member of the public to do so therefore when an entire civil service hadn't got to grips with it seems more than a little unrealistic.<

The remain campaign was run by the then-Prime-Minister, and warned of very dire consequences of leaving - but it was dismissed as fear-mongering by the leave campaign, if you remember.

>You could equally claim that remain voters didn't fully understand the implications of staying in the EU, however positive doing so may or may not be.<

As 'remain' literally meant 'carry on exactly as we are' I think we all knew the implications, even if leave voters WERE too stupid to realise that.

NHS England fingered over failure to forward patient correspondence

Mark Dempster

Re: True story.

>Why should we be forced to pay more so that this level of incompetence and indifference can continue unabated?<

Because if you always go for the lowest bidder for any contract then you end up with problems like these.

The only real solution is to bring everything back in-house where a single organisation can do a professional job

Ongoing game of Galileo chicken goes up a notch as the UK talks refunds

Mark Dempster

Re: It'll be worth it

>Just because one or two idiots misquoted its meaning and were corrected, it did not mean the NHS were going to get £350M a week<

Boris said it did. On live TV, while sat on the bus.

Surely he wasn't lying?

Mark Dempster

Re: Plane tiresome.

>We already have the capability to build one and I'm sure our new best friends in India would launch them for a few considerations.<

Absolutely. And it would only cost about 50 times what we're paying now, too.

Doctor finds physical changes to astronaut's eyes after ISS stint

Mark Dempster

Re: UFO/ Doesn't explain the purple wigs worn by the female staff on Moonbase.

Yes, but the female crewmembers had something underneath

British military spends more on computers than weapons and ammo

Mark Dempster

>Excuse me, but doesn't spending £6bn on 2 aircraft carriers count as new weapons? Also they spend more on aircraft than IT or weapons. But what is a fighter plane?<

I imagine that aircraft carriers, and fighter planes, would be more accurately thought of as weapon delivery systems rather than weapons in their own right.

MY GOD, IT'S FULL OF CARS: SpaceX parks a Tesla in orbit (just don't mention the barge)

Mark Dempster

Re: Academics

>The car gives nobody anything by way of science or inspiration.<

No, but it's pure PR - and good PR, too. If SpaceX had just lifted a block of concrete to orbit then the launch might have been given a few seconds of coverage on the news because it's a new rocket. But because of the car & everything else associate with it ('Life On Mars' on the stereo, HHGTTG & a towel in the glovebox, etc) everyone's talking about it - even those with absolutely no interest in space technology

Anti-missile missile misses again, US military mum on meaning of mess

Mark Dempster

Re: Missile Defense = "Hitting a bullet with a bullet."

>Instead of attempting to "hit a bullet with a bullet", they should sneak up from behind thus making the relative closing speed much closer to zero (as opposed to "Plaid" x 2). It would make the interception very nearly trivial, plus they could immediately try again if they missed the first time.<

You'd never catch it. Think how much faster the interceptor would need to be to get close enough to finally match the speed - you wouldn't normally be launching at the same time & from the same location. And the location of your anti-missile defences would have to be a long way away from the target as well in order to catch up with it before it reaches its target...

Mark Dempster

Re: but the target made it easier by sending back tracking data.

>So really, all we need is for everyone to install transponders on their ICBMs.

It is just the considerate thing to do.<

Yep. Except that the missile they failed to intercept wasn't an ICBM - it was a much slower, lower-altitude aircraft-launched missile. An ICBM travels outside the atmosphere, at far higher speeds, and typically delivers several different warheads to different locations. It would be orders of magnitude harder to destroy one of those.

Mark Dempster

Re: Kim Jong-un

>So what you suggest hasn't worked for 50 years, but you push that FAILED narrative anyway, against a POTUS you don't like, though the POTUS's you DID like failed utterly. You have a bit of a logic gap. Diplomacy has and will fail unless applied by China and Russia. It has nothing whatsoever to do with Trump.<

Well the US hasn't really tried diplomacy with NK have they? Just increasing levels of sanctions & threatening behaviour toward them, even with the 'peaceful' presidents. It's perfectly understandable that they've wanted to develop a deterrent against being attacked.

Now that you have Trump, though, the threatening language is becoming very stupid indeed. It certainly can't help, can it?

Your connection is not Brexit... we mean private: UK Tory party lets security cert expire

Mark Dempster

Re: El Reg is more influential than you would think

The Freemasons attitudes & actions are incompatible with public service

Alexa, please cause the cops to raid my home

Mark Dempster

I can quite believe this

We have an Echo in the lounge, & every now & again - even if the room is silent, so it can't have misheard a command - it will spring into life & give a weather report, play music or answer some question it wasn't asked! Only happens once every few day, so it's more amusing than annoying. Unless it starts doing it during the early hours, of course...

NHS could have 'fended off' WannaCry by taking 'simple steps' – report

Mark Dempster

>Let me correct you. My other half has been in the thick of the unholy mess for some years now, and the current structure of the NHS is almost entirely the work of one Tony Blair and his ministerial sycophants, in a series of changes from 2008 through 2012,<

You do realise that the Tories took over in 2010? And one of the first things they did (after promising not to) was to start a top-down reorganisation of the entire setup?

I used to work in the NHS, and I still do bits of consultancy for them.

Mark Dempster

Re: RE: "but where does the money come form"

>Thats easy: instant dismissal for all managers who should have sorted out security but didn't. And their bosses for slack supervision. The NHS is top-heavy with useless management anyway, so the savings made by sacking them will more than pay for replacing outdated PCs.<

I'm afraid that just shows that you don't really understand the issues here.

Hi Amazon, Google, Apple we might tax you on revenue rather than profit – love, Europe

Mark Dempster

Re: @Ledswinger "Its an excellent idea......"

>My business has 2 revenue streams - software reselling and consultancy. On software, I make between 10% and 15%. Consulting is 100% (it's only my time). A turnover tax would hit the software side disproportionately - I'd just stop reselling software.

Net result - less tax for government, less profit for me, more software sales going direct, customers get poorer advice. Everyone loses.<

Not true. The customers would still need that software, so would buy it from somewhere else & the tax would still be paid. You might just find that advising people on what software to buy becomes part of your consultancy, if you're not prepared to resell it yourself.

WannaCrypt NHS victim Lanarkshire infected by malware again

Mark Dempster

>Go read JinC's comment above. He's already nailed this political garbage. You know as well as I do that no party dare touch the NHS in the way you suggest and this is an over-used piece of claptrap that Labour drag out at every opportunity. And as JimC says, it inhibits everybody from trying to improve the situation the NHS has got into.<

No, YOU are wrong. There are many documented cases of in-house NHS services being barred from tendering for services in favour of private companies - and even cases where the internal bid came in cheaper, but was still rejected.

Plus you have people like Richard Branson buying up everything he can, & suing the NHS if he then doesn't win a tender operation.

When you introduce profit-making motives to any public organisation you will inevitably find that either service levels drop or costs increase (or both!) in order to keep the private provider in business.

Fewer than half GCSE computing students got a B or higher this year

Mark Dempster

Re:Fewer than half GCSE computing students got a B or higher this year

>I wish I had the willpower to do a proper rant about the new GCSE grading system. It's complete BS. Terrible idea. I don't even really know why, I just really, really don't like it. My main problem with it is that it seems entirely unnecessary. Every new Education Secretary thinks they know a new /revolutionary idea/ that I know first hand just makes it harder for students to know what the fuck is going on, and honestly? Students are pretty disorientated as it is, even without the system changing like pan's labyrinth.<

What's so hard about the higher number being the better result? Seems pretty intuitive to me. And it has the bonus that if you want an overall summary of a pupil's exam results, you just need to add them all together and have a single number - which incorporates both the number of subjects taken and their final grade.

Mark Dempster

Re: Isn't C supposed to be average?

"In my view exam scores shouldn't be set to deliver a normal distribution across each year's cohort."

In my view, however, that's exactly how it should work. As a population we are NOT getting more intelligent on an annual basis. And as the article describes, teaching isn't improving either. So the only explanation for consistent grade rises year after year is that the subject is getting easier.

At the school 2 of my kids went to they were allowed - even encouraged - to keep resubmitting their coursework multiple times in order to address the comments the teacher had made, and improve their marks. Followed to a logical conclusion there was no excuse for any pupil not to get an A* in every subject. The consequence of which is, employers/colleges have no way to differentiate between the new applicants based on academic ability.

You don't get that in an exam, which makes it a better test of a child's real ability. And while I accept that some don't thrive under exam pressure, they probably wouldn't do under pressure at work either for the same reason. And in order to prevent distortion of results by the exams being judged to be harder/easier than normal this year, you work out the grades based on the fact that the top X% get the top grade, the next Y% get the second-best grade, and so on.

There are very few things that the tory government has done that I approve of, but this is one example.

FUKE NEWS: Robot snaps inside drowned Fukushima nuke plant

Mark Dempster

Re: Time for some clever industrial design.

>Obviously the challenges of getting anything to work in that sort of environment are horrific. But someone is going to have to think up the machines that can work there, otherwise how will they ever get it dismantled? I think we need some sort of international organisation that has lots of big and rugged machines that can cope with any environment, permanently at the ready to go to the rescue after some major emergency. Best locate it somewhere neutral, ideally near the equator. Nice tropical island somewhere?<

I think such an organisation would be much more focussed on saving lives, & not worry very much about cleaning up afterwards.

Guess who doesn't have to pay $1.3bn in back taxes? Of course it's fscking Google

Mark Dempster

Re: Basic accountancy problem

>So perhaps we ought to just give up on taxing company profit, and slightly raise VAT & payroll taxes to compensate?<

So you want to move the tax burden even further from the corporates onto our own shoulders? That doesn't sound like a very good idea...

Sailor Moon? More like sail to the Moon: Japan vows to set foot on lunar soil by 2030

Mark Dempster

Re: Just ONE astronaut?

>Just one guy, though? I don't think they've really thought this through enough.<

I don't have any more insight to their plans than you do, but what you're failing to consider is that AI/autonomous flight is far, far more advanced now than it was during the Apollo days. The spacecraft could probably do a better job of docking with each other, etc, than a human pilot could.


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