* Posts by Dr Dan Holdsworth

252 posts • joined 16 May 2008

Page:

While Facebook reinvents Sadville, we still dream of flying cars

Dr Dan Holdsworth

Re: Flying cars? Pft.

This reminds me of experiences I had years ago, training to fly hang-gliders. The group I was with were doing short flights off a valley side in the Dales. The wind was slowly getting stronger, had been all day. When my second turn came round, I did the usual "run like hell downhill" launch, but instead of the expected pull away from the ground, nothing happened.

What had occurred was that the wind speed had gotten strong enough that instead of laminar flow over the opposing valley lip, down to the bottom and back up again, we were now getting break-away rotors of wind peeling off the opposite valley lip. These turned the wind from a strong uphill flow to gusts and occasional dead air.

Visually, everything looked the same. Neither I nor any trainee had any clue that this might happen (although I reckon the trainers had it in their minds to watch out for). Now, imagine you have a random non-pilot in a computer-controlled aircraft, which at some point performs an emergency landing in a field somewhere.

The cause: a thunderstorm visible on radar, not so visible to human eyes. A danger of downwards microbursts, hail and strong winds, so the aircraft HAS to land somewhere to avoid the danger.

Imagine now that you're the poor helldesk techie on the other end of the phoneline as our unclued, over-paid businessman rants down the phone at the hapless operator about missed meetings, broken contracts and the like. Hell on earth as the moron customer is certainly not going to listen to sense, yet if the danger factor were ignored then his surviving relatives would certainly sue.

Similarly the customer whose flight gets stopped or diverted because of a NOTAM for Purple Airspace over where he wants to go. Insta-rant over delays, which is much better than a short, painful visit from the RAF for endangering the life of a royal.

This alone is going to prevent the widespread take-up of flying cars.

0
0

Drunk user blow-dried laptop after dog lifted its leg over the keyboard

Dr Dan Holdsworth

Re: Good on Jim

Handing over an unpleasant biohazard to a techie without the equipment or the pay to handle such is basically impolite, irresponsible and just plain stupid. I'm with the techie here; dump the bloody thing straight off and perhaps even feed it through a shredder if there's any chance of there being unencrypted data on the laptop.

20
0

Squirrel sinks teeth into SAN cabling, drives Netadmin nuts

Dr Dan Holdsworth

Re: Yes! Mice

If you look in your local equestrian-orientated shop and ask for something to stop horses gnawing things, then they will show you a produce called Cribox. This is capsicum plus something that tastes vile plus some sort of smelly stenching agent in a grease base.

It looks bad, it smells bad and it tastes on the far side of appalling, so I am told. It also stings like anything if you get it into an open wound.

I have used it to stop a frustrated squirrel from gnawing a garden shed; I never saw the animal actually taste it, but it stopped the gnawing alright.

8
0
Dr Dan Holdsworth

Re: Best traps

Clearly the OP doesn't know how to safely and legally trap wildlife.

Best practice for the UK at least means that all snap traps such as the old Fenn mk4 and mk6 (soon to be banned for squirrels in favour of more certain-to-kill traps) had to be set somewhere that non-target species such as dogs, cats, roving network engineers and the like couldn't accidentally set them off. This generally means setting them inside a tunnel made either of mesh, or of some other durable material.

Rats, mice, squirrels and the like generally cannot resist the temptation to have a look inside any tunnel, hole or similar thing they come across, in case there is something to eat in there. This propensity can be improved by baiting the trap with peanut butter, in such a way that the bait is beyond the trap along the route the animal has to follow. This generally ensures a kill.

Mouse traps are a different proposition. Generally speaking, you get what you pay for with mouse traps and the cheap pressed-metal garbage off Fleabay are so insensitive that they don't work. Electrocution traps are best, and some can even be remotely monitored by SNMP to determine when they have caught something. Another interesting design is the Nooski trap, which uses an elastic rubber ring to strangle the poor victim. Not nice, but most effective and doesn't splat guts all over the place.

The final trick to try is the cellulose-based rodent baits. These work by dehydrating the animal to the point of collapse, but only work on rodents so anything else mooching along and eating the bait won't get killed. This bait has the other advantage of not actually being a poison, so no certification is needed to handle it.

7
1

Now UK bans carry-on lappies, phones, slabs on flights from six nations amid bomb fears

Dr Dan Holdsworth

Re: Security Theatre

Strange how everyone is thinking "Bomb" here. It may well be that some smartalec has worked out how to build an xray-transparent firearm, but the limitation of this is that it is quite bulky. So, the only way to hide such a device is to build it into a laptop.

Hence the ban on things over a certain size that contain various sorts of electrickery and thus look on Xray to contain wires, batteries and so on. The specific danger here is from the terrorist having his plastic gun with him in the cabin; it doesn't matter if the thing is in the hold because he cannot get to it during the flight. It also doesn't matter if some twit is importing a highly impractical firearm into the country; it isn't as if the engineering expertise to build working firearms doesn't exist here.

0
3

If fast radio bursts really are revving up interstellar sailcraft, here's the maths

Dr Dan Holdsworth

Re: Astrophysicists think

You don't honestly think that a civilisation that can build interplanetary megastructures is going to be sending actual live examples of its self between stars, do you?

Much more likely, they long ago started going down the cybernetic route and are now more or less indistinguishable from computers, or are even just software ghosts running on a computing substrate of some sort. This transport system you see isn't shifting biological entities, but instead compacted, backed-up software and information.

1
0

Watt the f... Dim smart meters caught simply making up readings

Dr Dan Holdsworth
Stop

Re: Please allow 6 to 8 weeks for delivery

I have a University-based institutional subscription to the IEEE journal, and I can confirm that the observed inaccuracies are ONLY seen with three-phase meters, and then only in circumstances where large photovoltaic arrays are feeding power back into the grid via Active In-feed Converters (AICs). It seems that these AICs are not subject to proper regulation regarding how much electromagnetic interference (EMI) they may generate, and thus having been built to the lowest possible standard many of these AICs generate quite a lot of EMI.

The dodgy photovoltaic converters weren't the only EMI emitters seen; the drive systems for fans in one farm's barns were also very noisy indeed. Reading between the lines, I would think that quite a lot of electrical equipment on farms especially is going to be very noisy in EMI terms, partly through age and partly because with the old mechanical three-phase meters, it didn't matter a jot.

Having discovered all of this and built a specially EMI-noisy measuring rig, the researchers then went on to test the single-phase meters that pretty much all domestic situations will have. They found no deviation from the specification, and no influence from interference, EMI noise or distorted voltages could be detected.

TL,DR: No problem detected for household meters.

9
0

The Psion returns! Meet Gemini, the 21st century pocket computer

Dr Dan Holdsworth

Re: Does this niche still exist?

Something like this, you mean?

http://www.cablestogo.com/product/29470/usb-2.0-usb-c-to-db9-serial-rs232-adapter-cable

0
0

'Hey, Homeland Security. Don't you dare demand Twitter, Facebook passwords at the border'

Dr Dan Holdsworth
Pirate

From the department of stating the bleedin' obvious

Facebook is an American company.

America has the Patriot Act, which effectively says that plod over there can shout "Terrorists!" then march in and seize data from any American company they so choose, with hardly a murmur.

So, if a person's Facebook record is of such amazing interest, the simple option for our idiot cousins over the water would be to ask the incoming suspect their name, then go over to Facebook, back their database up to that of the NSA and then simply grep through for info on that particular Facebook user.

Simple indeed, and not done because this trawl has been dreamed up by lackwitted goons in the ports, not in the American executive or legal hierarchy.

5
3

Installing disks is basically LEGO, right? This admin failed LEGO

Dr Dan Holdsworth

Re: Like Lego

Worse yet are power users, that is to say people with a little bit of knowledge but not nearly enough wit to realise how little they know.

Many years ago I took a support call whilst working for a particular dodgy ISP. Their main site name was $FOO, but their infrastructure was still named $BAR because nobody could be bothered to change the domain names.

So, when this power luser sees his machine connected to $FOO internet regularly making connections on port 53 to machines in the $BAR domain on his newly-installed firewall, he panics and uses this firewall to block these connections, thinking it to be a hack. Then, as he put it, this terrible hacker must have done something truly appalling to his machine since the Internet went ever so slow.

As slow, in fact, as a machine trying to connect each time to its primary DNS, getting blocked and timing out to hit the secondary DNS server...

13
0

Zuckerberg thinks he's cyber-Jesus – and publishes a 6,000-word world-saving manifesto

Dr Dan Holdsworth
FAIL

Re: meh

This actually all sounds astonishingly like standard corporate bollocks-speak, such as every senior figure in any large organisation involving IT seems to want to trot out at every opportunity. Every single one of these people are serious, earnest and really do wish to make the world a better place, and every one of them ends up sounding like a hippie high on a particularly successful weed plantation.

It basically all comes down to corporate grandstanding. Facebook is basically about deceiving people into thinking that they have a higher social status than they actually have. Humans are hard wired to be status-seeking little monkeys, and a system that lets them believe that they have oodles of friends who hang upon their every word is always going to sell on the basis of self-delusion. Facebook isn't going to change the world, but merely brighten it up for a lot of people.

Self delusion is a powerful motivator. This is why the National Lottery has worked so well at separating idiots from their money; humans are really crap at actually perceiving reality. Zuck is no exception here; he's very, very humans indeed.

9
2

Totally not-crazy billionaire Elon Musk: All of us – yes, even you – must become cyborgs

Dr Dan Holdsworth

Re: Let's Hope...

Let us hope that the Quiet War as described by several science fiction authors takes place soon. That event is when AIs take over from politicians in the running of politics, and is generally characterised by a mass refusal to revolt on the part of the proles who, when faced with corrupt and inefficient politicians being replaced by unbribe-able and efficient AIs, refuse to get at all annoyed.

2
0

Vapists rejoice! E-cigs lower cancer risk (if you stop smoking, duh)

Dr Dan Holdsworth
Boffin

This is all about carcinogen levels

If you compare smoking tobacco with snus tobacco (a sort of mini-teabag containing ground tobacco that you stick in your mouth and suck), a marked difference is seen. Snus users have no increased risk of cancer over that of the general population, whereas smokers have a marked increase in cancer levels.

This strongly suggests that nicotine in therapeutic doses isn't carcinogenic, but inhaling smoke from burning leaves very definitely is carcinogenic. This connection is also seen with the effects of breathing diesel smoke; it is the combustion products and particulates that do the damage, not the nicotine.

E-cigs are not combustion devices. What they do is take a mixture of propylene glycol (a permitted food thickener which is known to be non-carcinogenic and safe), water, some known-safe flavourings and a very low level of nicotine and pass it over a heating element, which causes it to vaporise then immediately re-condense into a fog of fine droplets. E-cigs never actually combust anything, and thus don't chemically transform the chemicals that are in them.

So, if e-cig juice is safe before vaporising, it is safe afterwards.

The quoted study merely shows that of the four groups compared, all were ingesting more or less the same amount of nicotine, but the levels of tobacco combustion products were more or less the same in all groups that smoked tobacco, but much lower in the e-cig only group.

The study is thus interesting on two levels. Firstly, e-cig use dramatically lowers levels of smoking-related carcinogens, leading to the conclusion that these are NOT present in e-cig vapour.

Secondly, carcinogen levels were largely similar in all groups who smoked tobacco, regardless of whether they were using nicotine patches as well, or e-cigs as well, or just smoking alone. That suggests that it is only the replacement of smoking with e-cigs that is a useful health measure, not the supplementation of smokes plus something else.

6
1

Coming to the big screen: Sci-fi epic Dune – no wait, wait, wait, this one might be good

Dr Dan Holdsworth

Re: Can't be a single movie

You have to remember that the society that Dune is set in is not a naturally evolved one, but rather a post-apocalyptic wreckage. At a point earlier in time, they had produced powerful artificial intelligences, but had not managed to keep these either friendly or on a short enough leash. Nor, apparently, had humanity started to turn into cyborg post-humanity, since the entire scenario turned into the Butlerian Jihad where the AIs got wiped out.

This left the society with a weird wreckage of AI technology, much of which was useless in fundamental ways. They had gravity control but only on a limited basis. They had shields which work well against most projectiles, but which fail badly if hit by laser-like weapons; their laser weapons in turn are deadly if used on shielding. Presumably AIs were capable of managing the technical intricacies of stacking shields or something.

Their technology included some form of faster than light drive, which worked but dropped the ship out of space without the ship being able to see what was actually there at the end point ahead of time. Again, AI presumably had an answer (or several answers, like only doing long distance jumps between known-empty points of space) but humanity wound up using Spice-addicted individuals who are able to predict whether dropping into normal space at a certain point will be deadly or not; very limited but accurate prescience.

This society is living in the wreckage of a much greater one; there's not really any surprise that thus handicapped they carry on messing stuff up. Indeed the movie is a repeated series of "How will they get out of this one" scenarios.

12
0

'Maker' couple asphyxiated, probably by laser cutter fumes

Dr Dan Holdsworth
FAIL

Re: This happened in Berkeley?

Yes, I own just such a house where I have been steadily rectifying the previous owner's attempts at DIY.

The house was at some time fitted with a back-boiler type central heating system, using a professional work crew. As per the regulations, they cut a vent through the solid stone outer wall to allow fresh air into the property, to feed the back boiler unit (which drew the air it needed for combustion from the interior of the house).

The moron owner plastered over this air vent, to stop the cold draft. The moron Homebuyers' Survey people completely failed to notice this little spot of potentially lethal DIY. Only after being warned by central heating service engineers of the danger I was in did I go looking for where the vent grille on the outside of the house led to, and discovered the plastered-over, wallpapered-over vent and re-opened it.

So yes, people really are stupid enough to ignore health & safety warnings for known killers.

3
0

Anti-smut law dubs PCs, phones 'pornographic vendor machines', demands internet filters

Dr Dan Holdsworth

Re: Now THAT is worth hacking

The law aims to ban pornographic material, yes?

All you do is get a sufficiently large number of people to claim that the local government websites are actually pornographic (in an extremely deviant manner) and really ought to be blocked so that young minds are not corrupted by the filth therein.

Then block these sites as per the law.

4
0

How Rogue One's Imperial stormtroopers SAVED Star Wars and restored order

Dr Dan Holdsworth

Re: Grunts

A bit hard on elves though, is Mary Gentle.

1
0

Landmark EU ruling: Legality of UK's Investigatory Powers Act challenged

Dr Dan Holdsworth

Re: But I thought we "took back control"

The other problem with allowing all manner of agencies to access the data is that these agencies are certain not to have anywhere near the levels of data security that the police currently have. The police know all about not letting secret information leak out of their systems, and their copies of the ICRs will be on machines physically separate from the open internet (or so one would hope, anyway).

A poxy ambulance trust or a food standards agency won't have that level of data security because frankly it will never have needed such security before, and the internal networking will be set up as cheaply as possible. Given that the equipment is likely to be running unpatched and rather antique versions of Windows, and that the staff are not going to be trained to the same levels of paranoia that police are trained, it is pretty much certain that these agencies' PC will be riddled with all manner of malware.

One thing malware does is looks for "interesting" data, and what could be more interesting than a huge amount of internet connection record data?

This level of retention, with this level of sharing, is an accident waiting to happen. It is also a gold-mine for VPN operators.

13
1

MPs suggest introducing web blocking to tackle suicide rates in UK

Dr Dan Holdsworth

Re: And so it begins...

Welcome to the thin end of the wedge.

Your right to look at a website that discusses suicide is being curtailed for your own good, citizen.

Next up, your right to look at a website that described narcotic drugs will be curtailed, because drugs are illegal.

Somewhat later, you will be prevented from looking at a website with a recipe for treacle pudding on it, because the sugar might make you fat.

Somewhat later still, the British Government will start to wonder if they shouldn't be banning VPN software...

2
1

Could a robot vacuum cleaner monitor your data centre?

Dr Dan Holdsworth

Re: Upgrade

Look, if you're monitoring a server room then what amounts to a mobile, internet-enabled tray is not what you need. A Dalek is what you need, with the sucker arm replaced with a more standard robot arm of some description, and a program to make the gun auto-track anything that walks past the unit even when it isn't being actively driven around.

4
0

Sysadmin told to spend 20+ hours changing user names, for no reason

Dr Dan Holdsworth

Re: funny thing about these requests

To be honest, this elementary BOFH behaviour. If a manager asks for something gibberingly stupid, then get everything documented then go about the task in a safe manner which will also cause the maximum pain, delay and annoyance to as many other users as possible, whilst being certain to use the name of the original fuckwit in the title of the plan.

The BOFH himself thereafter does not need to trouble to inflict further punishment on the fuckwit; said idiot's colleagues will conspire to mete out punishment as much and as frequently as they are able.

30
0

Stealing, scamming, bluffing: El Reg rides along with pen-testing 'red team hackers'

Dr Dan Holdsworth
Pirate

Re: It's a bit disappointing

Actually you need a little bit more to get anywhere much. For recon outside a building, a suit, hi-vis vest and clip-board work wonders for not alerting the CCTV people (bonus if the hi-vis has an HMRC logo on the back; people will avoid you like the plague then) since interfering with someone who is "obviously" not out to steal or damage and doesn't look like criminal scum isn't generally needed.

Inside a building, you need to pretend to be a contractor with a legitimate right to be there. That "explains" why you don't know your way around, and "explains" why you're asking funny questions. An audit is a very good thing to pretend to be doing, especially if the audit is of equipment that management think might be going walkies out of the building. That explains why nobody knows about the audit; it was arranged quietly so that the guilty parties wouldn't get tipped off.

You're aiming to hit that balance of "I have every right to be here" together with "I have authority and will be a truly horrible annoyance if you don't cooperate" together with "apologies for all of this, terribly sorry and I don't like it any more than you do but the money is quite good" etc etc... Affability and politeness together with "just here to do a job" gets you a hell of a long way.

14
0

I was a robot and this is what I learned

Dr Dan Holdsworth
Pirate

Re: Picture paints 1000 words

The robot design is, I feel, somewhat lacking. Luckily there are plenty of designs that could easily be copied and which would certainly make the average IT crowd give you a little more space; a Dalek of some description comes to mind.

As a design for a telepresence robot, a Dalek isn't actually all that bad. Nice stable wheeled platform, nifty excuse for using a synthesised voice instead of a voice link, plus slightly better body language than that telepresence system. With a Dalek, you can at least tell where it is looking and when it is speaking, plus few people would want to get in your way.

10
0

AI can now tell if you're a criminal or not

Dr Dan Holdsworth
FAIL

Re: dataset

There is actually quite a lot of scope of sample bias here. The characteristics the article describes sound quite a lot like the facial type you see with Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, i.e. children whose mothers boozed heavily during pregnancy.

People with FASD are basically damaged in a lot of ways. Facial features are altered, and brain function is compromised. These people are more likely than the general population to be criminals, and there's a fairly good chance that police consciously or subconsciously recognise this facial type as a likely sort to check for criminal activity, hence these people are going to feature disproportionately in the database.

1
0

Possible reprieve for the venerable A-10 Warthog

Dr Dan Holdsworth

Re: Pint due.

Keeping a known-working design like this flying for a while longer actually seems like quite good sense. Especially as recently we seem to have been having a run of war and insurgencies involving not so sophisticated adversaries against whom a modern fighter jet is overkill. A Warthog on the other hand is very well armed, quite well armoured and extremely good at delivering a large amount of damage to a target at little risk to its self.

6
0

I want to remotely disable Londoners' cars, says Met's top cop

Dr Dan Holdsworth

Re: Magical thinking

Paging Mr Stross, paging Mr Stross!

Some more loonies are being told to buy Equoids...

http://www.tor.com/2013/09/24/equoid/

1
0

Judge makes minor tweaks to sex ban IT man's order

Dr Dan Holdsworth

Bill of Rights, etc.

One part of the 1689 Bill of Rights states that promises of fines or forfeitures before conviction are void; another part that excessive bail should not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishment inflicted.

What the SROs are doing is imposing a punishment before or without a conviction. This is basically going against the constitution that we don't have (but arguably ought to have). The 1998 Human Rights Act states similar rights also.

So, how long before unconstitutional punishment before conviction is struck down?

15
1

You should install smart meters even if they're dumb, says flack

Dr Dan Holdsworth

It would help if the meters were actually designed for real-world applications

I live in an old terraced house. Lots of people do, and these houses were originally designed without most modern services. Water supply was someone with a bucket, and the toilet was in the back yard and given where I live, was probably made by Duckett's of Burnley.

Over the years modern services have been added, usually by the easiest route open to the new suppliers. Thus the gas meter is in the cellar, and the electricity meter is in an awkward cupboard on the other side of the house. Both are sited for the convenience of the installer, not for the convenience of anyone reading them, or for the convenience of the smart meter that would quite like to see a mobile signal, any mobile signal at all...

Many houses are like this. Many houses are thus wholly unsuitable for the current "made to the cheapest design possible" smart meters, because absolutely none of these things allow for a remote comms antenna to be wired into them. The mobile communications would work perfectly if a remote antenna could be placed high up on a house wall and wired into a socket on the meter, but unfortunately such trivial things did not occur to the muppets who design such things.

I therefore look forwards to many rounds of hairy-arsed engineers arriving at my place to discover like all previous engineers that no, there really isn't a mobile signal where the meter is and no, I don't want to pay for major building work for their convenience.

10
0

Inside our three-month effort to attend Apple's iPhone 7 launch party

Dr Dan Holdsworth

Re: Not missing much

So, some time next century Apple will finally work out that adhering to one of the many international standards on connectors is actually quite a good idea...

1
0

Height of stupidity: Heathrow airliner buzzed by drone at 7,000ft

Dr Dan Holdsworth
WTF?

Re: Cue loads of people saying...

So why didn't you exploit the superlative accuracy of your 22 long rifle rounds and shoot the damn geese in the head, which is not at all armoured and the loss of which will render the goose unable to fly off?

Even neck-shooting will disable birds nicely; there's no call to try for heart-lung shots when you can do much, much better with a little patience.

0
0

Labour's Jeremy Corbyn wants high speed broadband for all. Wow, original idea there

Dr Dan Holdsworth
FAIL

Re: Why ?

One thing that really is needed where fibre roll-outs are in progress is very widespread coverage of what a fibre cable looks like, and that it has not got any valuable metal in it. The advertising campaign will need to be in several Eastern European languages, since it is intended to inform potential metal thieves that they're wasting their time stealing the stuff.

2
0

UK IT consultant subject to insane sex ban order mounts legal challenge

Dr Dan Holdsworth

Re: "He was found not guilty, therefore he is innocent"

There is also the very real possibility that he will at some point realise that he can simply walk away from all of this, and build a new life under a new identity. Granted he can still be identified via fingerprints, but having had one brush with the Thought Police, I reckon he'll live out an entirely blameless life just to stay out of reach of Plod.

This is what happens when you go outside Common Law, which is what this effectively does.

0
0

West country cops ponder appearance of 40 dead pigeons on A35

Dr Dan Holdsworth
Black Helicopters

This sounds weird, strange and Fortean

Fortunately, help is at hand. Devon just so happens to be the headquarters of the Centre for Fortean Zoology, a strange and some might say shadowy organisation which specialises in the investigation of the strange and uncanny, and which just so happens to be holding its annual conference later this month.

More details here: http://www.weirdweekend.org/

3
0

What will laws on self-driving cars look like? Think black boxes and 'minimum attention'

Dr Dan Holdsworth

Re: Pointless and expensive technology

Asking a human to sit attentively and watch a machine drive is probably the most idiotic notion ever thought up by a lawyer ever; it displays a profound lack of insight into how human attention works, and how computer control systems work (or should work). The only way the concept could be made worse is to force the human to walk in front of the car with a red flag.

It also completely misses out on some of the easy wins for autonomous driving systems: autonomous motorway driving. It has been found that if cars on a motorway can driver very close together, on the order of about a metre separation, then fuel use for all but the front vehicle drops dramatically. This separation is controllable for a MESH communicating computer talking to all other cars, but is impossible for a human.

So, what happens if the computer gets confused and hands over control in such a situation? Easy, a big pile-up. Either the car rear-ends the one in front, or the human jams on the brakes and gets rear-ended himself. Cue a lawyer pointing out the utter impossibility of a person being able to function, and the law getting thrown out by a court.

The way for a computer-controlled car to fail safe is simple: if it cannot safely control the car, it must slow down and come to a full stop, and only then when stationary may it hand over control. Nothing else is safe or sensible.

2
0

England just not windy enough for wind farms, admits renewables boss

Dr Dan Holdsworth

Re: Stop Dicking about!!!!!

Look, we have a stockpile of plutonium that was used for making weapons and which now really ought to be reduced somewhat. We also have quite a bit of long half-life sludge, which also wants destroying. We therefore need a fast neutron reactor somewhere, and if we're going to build one, we might as well also go the whole hog and build a fleet of other smaller pure-power reactors as well.

Further to this, as well as standard nuclear power reactors we could also give serious thought to building district heating systems which heat water to steam, and distribute the steam as a form of heating. Much of the gas burned in Britain is burned to provide heating or hot water; a small nuclear thermal device would supply quite a large area with heating at similar cost to gas.

On a final note, it is about time we stopped listening to the Great Uninformed Green Blob. They talk an awful lot of utter and complete toot, and really ought not to be listened to quite so freely.

12
1

Label your cables: A cautionary tale from the server room

Dr Dan Holdsworth

How can you tell when a user is lying to you?

Easy, their lips are moving.

32
1

Brits rattle tin for 'revolutionary' hydrogen-powered car

Dr Dan Holdsworth

Trying too hard

What is going on here is that the consequences of trying to be too Green.

Hydrogen is apparently the ultimate Green fuel, but apart from being ultra low emission it has a very long list of major disadvantages. For a start, it is not energy dense, so you need to carry a lot of it and refuel frequently. It is difficult to store, so there are few hydrogen fuel stations out there, reducing the vehicle's utility still further. Hydrogen also explodes very readily, burns with a flame invisible to human eyes and isn't all that easy to make.

If the car makers had only tried a little less hard on the environmental front, then all manner of exciting things are possible. Ammonia is another, better candidate for a zero-carbon fuel. It can be made fairly easily, especially if you have access to electricity from a nuclear reactor, and can be contained in the same sort of technology as LPG is stored in. It can be burned in fairly conventional engines, in gas turbines and (with recently-developed catalytic systems) in conventional fuel cells.

Similarly LPG or methane are also good candidates for Green energy, as is pure ethanol. Once again, these sorts of fuels can be easily made, stored and used with conventional technology and systems, and don't require an absurd new car design to use them in.

9
0

Here's a great idea: Let's make a gun that looks like a mobile phone

Dr Dan Holdsworth

Re: "Absolutely no one can make sense of the United States' infatuation with firearms."

Yeah, right.

American civilians are limited to owning small arms. About the heaviest kit they may possess are Civil War era muzzle loading cannons; mostly semi-automatic self-loading rifles are the most potent weapons permitted.

The US Army and Air Force, not to mention the various police forces and militias are all permitted to have much more effective weapons than that. At best, any US citizen with a legal weapon would be able to make themselves mildly irritating to the government before getting themselves killed.

The US "right to bear arms" does NOT in any way hold the government to account.

3
3
Dr Dan Holdsworth

Re: Top Gear

True, but Terry Pratchett still had a great deal of fun with the concept:

"The King? Oh, he's out exercising his Droit du Seigneur. Damn great hairy thing..."

4
0

Zombie SCO rises from the grave again

Dr Dan Holdsworth

Re: Why can't IBM finish them?

No, SCO still apparently owns some intellectual property that it claims is worth something. As the previous comments said, IBM would be within its rights to demand that this be handed over in lieu of money, at which point SCO is completely dead.

2
0

Investigatory Powers Bill lands in Parliament amid howls over breadth of spying powers

Dr Dan Holdsworth

Re: Double taxation

The Paris attackers were working on the not-unreasonable assumption that if the police hadn't collared them by the night of the big attack, then the police weren't on to them sufficiently for unencrypted comms on the night to be an issue.

Just because comms chatter is unencrypted does not mean that it is intelligible, either. Look at teenagers wittering on in text-speak language. Lots of info, not easily understood.

1
0

Photographer hassled by Port of Tyne for filming a sign on a wall

Dr Dan Holdsworth

Re: Not all security is like that, I'm not

If I wanted to take pictures of a sensitive site for use in any nefarious deeds, the absolute last thing I would is walk up to the outside of the place and start taking pictures of it in full view of rent-a-plod inside.

What I would instead do is quietly turn up a long way away on my bicycle (no ANPR records for a bike) and quietly photograph the place using a camera with a long lens peeping out through a hole in a bag. Even if I couldn't do this, a camera in a shoulder bag with a remote shutter release is not going to arouse the notice of security guards if all the photographer does is walk past without obviously taking photos (whilst snapping away with the concealed camera).

I would therefore hazard a guess that your "security measure" was implemented not to improve security, but more to provide comedic light relief by forcing the security personnel into a real life Monty Python performance every time some completely innocent member of the public happens to point a camera at the site. It certainly cannot be to aid security.

10
0

Intravenous hangover clinics don't work, could land you in hospital

Dr Dan Holdsworth
FAIL

Re: Harmless ingredients...

As I have said before, regardless of how harmless the ingredients are, it is the administration method which the likeliest cause of harm. Human beings have very good immune systems in their guts which only a select few food poisoning organisms can get past. By contrast, if you inject something intravenously, you bypass this immunological safety system.

That these companies are doing this is in its self a form of placebo woo. The only reason for running fluids via an IV drip is when the patient needs fluids urgently, and cannot drink them normally for whatever reason. People with hangovers are not medical emergencies of this kind; there is no earthly reason to expose them to the hazards of an IV line.

If you want to medicalize the process of giving someone fluids, then at most a nasogastric tube could be used. This is however rather an unpleasant way of getting fluids into a person who is perfectly capable of swallowing liquids normally.

All these hung-over morons actually need is a large dose of water with the correct electrolyte mix to be most rapidly absorbed; correctly-formulated oral rehydration mix or any of the rehydration sports drinks will do the trick nicely. The sports drink variants even have the advantage of tasting quite nice, too. Granted, you don't get the placebo effect of a bloke in a white coat sticking a needle in your arm, but you also don't run the risk of septicemia from an iv-sourced infection.

8
0
Dr Dan Holdsworth

Re: "amps up the immune system and detoxifies the liver”,

s/borderline//

Look at what you're getting: someone is sticking a cannula into a vein, and running a litre or two of saline plus other additives into your vein. This is about as invasive as a treatment can get; you are reliant on the operators being clean to hospital standards or above (they won't have a crash team and hospital pharmacy on hand to sort out any inconvenient infections or cardiac arrests on hand) and careful to hospital standards or above.

Even if running glucose saline fresh from a medical supplier, using fresh equipment each time and trying their damndest to keep everything ultra-sterile was all they were doing, they would still be doing something bloody dangerous. Instead they're mixing in other stuff into the glucose saline, which requires a skilled and aseptic lab to do this in, and this is not at all easy to do.

It is even less easy to do on a large scale, and do it repeatedly and to a high standard of accuracy and cleanliness. Even hospitals can't do this, and generally don't do this. If a hospital wants to run, say, some paracetamol solution into a patient, then they set up a known-sterile glucose saline drip, and run a known-sterile bottle of the paracetamol solution into the input stream of the glucose saline.

The hospital will try their best to keep everything clean, but if a patient does get an infection, they can sort this out. This cowboy clinic is taking people in, running in litres of saline, then discharging them before it is know whether the patient has caught anything from the procedure.

Quite frankly, I'm amazed they haven't killed people by now.

17
0

Met Police wants to keep billions of number plate scans after cutoff date

Dr Dan Holdsworth

Re: Prediction

Scene poisoning with foreign DNA is already an item in the enterprising burglar's tool kit. How it works is quite simple.

To start with, a burglar visits the smokers' corner of a notably dodgy pub after hours, and collects cigarette ends, most of which will have been smoked by persons on the police DNA register. Said evidence is carefully bagged and retained.

When our burglar is next out thieving, he takes care not to smoke himself, but to leave several of the carefully-collected fag-ends around the exterior and interior of the property he is burgling. This then gives the police an easy lead as to who has committed the crime.

In court, the standard "odds of X million to one again" canard is presented, and the previous bad character of whichever numpty has been fingered, together with his lack of an alibi for the time in question, lead to said numpty getting falsely convicted. More tellingly, the real culprit gets away as the police have already "caught" the culprit and thus feel no need to look any further.

23
2

Bats and badgers hold up Apple’s Irish data centre plans

Dr Dan Holdsworth

Re: noooo...

Irish legend had it that there were actually two species of badger in Eire; the Dog Badger, a dirty, scrawny beast much given to scavenging and eating carrion and the Pig Badger, an altogether nicer beast that was generally plump, exclusively vegetarian and exceedingly nice to eat.

I do rather suspect a spot of advertising talk in this legend.

2
0

Beware the terrorist drones! For they are coming! Pass new laws!

Dr Dan Holdsworth

Re: yeah, that'll work..

I recall a conversation with an aero-modeller on Baildon Moor, about a competition his club had run for the most unusual object flown. A flying toilet door had taken that prize. Pretty much anything will fly, given enough thrust, and if you can arrange for the object to be mostly wing with a tail to stabilise it then it'll fly really rather well.

Stick on a petrol motor, simple height-maintaining avionics and a gyro-compass and this crude drone will then fly perfectly happily, maintain height correctly and follow a set path. This was how a V1 flying bomb worked; it really was not rocket science at all (Pulse jet science, if we're being picky). To control bomb drop, the V1 simple fell out of the sky when it ran out of fuel; any number of alternatives could be used.

Legislating against specific devices is silly. If you want to do something about drones, work out how to shoot them down effectively without causing trouble with missed shells impacting somewhere else. A super-shotgun may well be the best option, rather than lasers.

5
0

GCHQ mass spying will 'cost lives in Britain,' warns ex-NSA tech chief

Dr Dan Holdsworth
Black Helicopters

Re: Gosh, a voice of reason speaking to our government!

To be perfectly honest, I don't think the spooks themselves want this mass surveillance either. From their perspective, this is also a lose-lose prospect.

Look at this from the spooks' point of view for a while. They get their mass surveillance law, and within days they get the power and ability to round up trolls, loud-mouthed blowhards, keyboard warriors and assorted noisy plonkers by the dozen (and one look at any unmoderated forum will show up these sorts of people by the thousand). The problem here is that loud trolling isn't actually much of a crime, save against the rules of grammar and politeness. People are rarely physically harmed by words on an internet forum.

Even deluded Walter Mitty types rarely do all that much harm. The likes of the Baron of Castleshortt are harmless nitwits, who provide military forums with much amusement debunking their exaggerated claims, but who are not actually anyone's problem.

Actual terrorists, on the other hand, tend not to make a great deal of noise. They especially won't make much noise after Mr Rehman and his wife both got life sentences for terrorism-related offences, having shot their mouths off on Twitter.

No, what is a lot more likely to happen is that the security services will get swamped with data, fail to spot several serious plots which either go to fruition or are picked up on by the police and stopped, and then the heads of the security services will be forced to resign for incompetence. A few times round the block on that one, and the security services will end up with mass surveillance data that they either don't use, or pay only the most cursory attention to unless a target is clear. In other words, the government legislates to piss a huge amount of money up the wall before tacitly admitting that it was all a waste of time and the old tried & trusted security methods were a lot more useful.

21
0

T'was the night before Christmas, and an industrial control system needed an upgrade

Dr Dan Holdsworth

Re: Which movie was this?

I've seen it in some Perl code written by a chap with the moniker of "Random John". This was for the now-happily defunct ISP Netline UK, and ran some of their internal reporting systems, AKA Lies for Managers.

Sometimes now I really do wish I had kept a copy of the original code, simply as a terrible example of how utterly shite Perl can be and still limp along being vaguely functional. The script ran as a CGI program called from a web site, and as it started up grabbed a huge chunk of required info from a separate script of "useful variables".

Then it lurched into action, and grabbed data from various RRDtool databases, web servers, and the in-house database server. That doesn't sound too bad, but all variables were declared global and "to save memory" variables got re-used in the code, so something like $start_date would change to holding a completely unrelated piece of information, and do this several times over.

The entire script could be broken entirely with the simple declaration: use strict ;

All of this was written in a coding style best described as "hurl tin of alphabet soup at wall", with minimal commenting (and most of that wrong or deliberately misleading), no indentation and precious little attention to readability. A complete dog's dinner of a mess, in other words, and I got tasked with sorting the thing because web browsers were timing out before its hideously unoptimised code could respond.

7
0

Page:

Forums

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2017