* Posts by John Robson

2103 posts • joined 19 May 2008

NASA names the date for the first commercial crew demo flight

John Robson Silver badge

In theory they should redefine ‘economically viable’, although not for the 63ton launches...

John Robson Silver badge

It's more that there aren't that many payloads that need that much rocket...

Parker is the fastest thing we've ever lobbed, some very large satellites...

But in general satellites are built down to a mass limit so they'll fit in an economically viable launch vehicle.

22 tons to LEO (expended) is the F9.

63 tons to LEO (expended) is FH.

That's a huge difference, but 22 tons is alot of payload already - commercial payloads are typically closer to 4 tons (although some boost may be wanted, that will take some of the remaining 18 tons)

Source (somewhat out of date).

Falcon 9 gets its feet wet as SpaceX notch up two more launch successes

John Robson Silver badge

Ok, it couldn’t complete it’s final translation manoeuvre, so couldn’t *get* to land... designed to fail safe... no way to land at LZ if it can’t get there.

Still a mighty impressive bit of control, given how much those fins normall contribute.

John Robson Silver badge

Re: Not a record number of cubesats

It is a record - for them... In the same way I can set a british record whilst still having had people from other countries do better.

John Robson Silver badge

Although in this case it looks like it could possibly have landed safely on land... Not that you'd try it in this case, since a collision with the landing pad would be rather detrimental.

A perfect abort scenario... This is the reason we put launch sites on the coast...

I suppose I ought to say launch and landing sites now...

Do not adjust your set: Hats off to Apple, you struggle to shift iPhones 'cos you're oddly ethical

John Robson Silver badge

Will probably upgrade...

one of the phones in the house at some point... Need to check where in the upgrade cycle we are at the moment.

But they go down through the family - the upgrade is really on a 4+year cycle... even if each of us see 'new' phones a bit faster than that...

Pencil manufacturers rejoice: Oz government doesn't like e-voting

John Robson Silver badge

You can rub out a pencil, but you can still see where the mark was made.

Who is going to rub out a pencil mark anyway - the advantage of the paper system is that the paper is put in a sealed box, watched by multiple interested parties. Then the box is transported (still watched) to a counting location where it is unsealed (watched) and the ballots counted (still being watched).

We've had a long time, and much practise at this kind of thing, and many attacks have been tried... they have countermeasures in place...

It's all a matter of time: Super-chill atomic clock could sniff gravitational waves, dark matter

John Robson Silver badge

Re: Do they...

"Adjust them for daylight saving twice a year?

"Just asking.

No - they do however adjust our clocks a up to twice a year, by a second, to account for the inconsistent, and imprecise, rotation of the earth...

Pulses quicken at NASA as SpaceX gets closer to crewed launches and Russia readies the next Soyuz

John Robson Silver badge

Re: Elon & Drugs


Looks like there is some conflict, but that it is falling on the side of the states being allowed to make their own laws. I'm still running with BBC on this one - since there is quite an extensive body of legislation that explicitly declares it legal.

John Robson Silver badge

Re: Elon & Drugs

Spazturtle: 1) It wasn't legal, weed is illegal in the entire US.

BBC: Mr Rogan offered his guest the drug, which is legal in California, as the pair discussed tech innovation and the public's perception of Mr Musk.

Bizarrely I'm going to side with the BBC on this one...

Domain name 'admin' role eyed up as latest victim of Whois system's GDPRmeggdon

John Robson Silver badge

"Your argument is one of the weakest arguments I've ever heard in my life."

Considered downvoting you for suggesting that an argument had been presented..

But can't work out an appropriate alternative descriptor...

Mobile networks are killing Wi-Fi for speed around the world

John Robson Silver badge


Expanding 3G? Please. Here in the US of A, I can take you to several places where there is not 1G service. And every carrier has large areas without 1G service. Why are we bothering with 5G when the providers still haven't gotten 1G right?"

It is right - it's making them money - if you live in a not spot then that's your problem, not the operators.

Shocker: UK smart meter rollout is crap, late and £500m over budget

John Robson Silver badge

Re: Reluctantly may have to get a smart meter.

Camera on a stick, or stick a RasPi down there...

Probably more power efficient (even with a camera) than a smart meter...

Blighty: We spent £1bn on Galileo and all we got was this lousy T-shirt

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Three weeks...

When we're out it'll only take three weeks to recoup that though...

Boris said so...

(I would put the joke icon, but I don't actually think it's funny)

When selling security awareness training by email, probably a good shout not to hit 'reply all'

John Robson Silver badge

Re: Holland was clearly making a point..

>>If sending to more than three people (or more than 1 domain) then any decent client should default to BCC

>In my organization we frequently have triparty exchanges where everyone could contribute.

That's fine - three people in the same organisation wouldn't even trip my filter.

BUT if you sent it to ten people, then you would have to tell it that you really wanted it to be clear to all.

IF you sent it to multiple external domains then you would have to tell it that you really wanted it to a screwup.

Maybe three is a bit tight for some organisations, I'm only suggesting a default.

John Robson Silver badge

Re: Holland was clearly making a point..

Could you mitigate this with an application-level security setting/GPO (on by default?) to BCC for corporate email clients so that you have to actively move addresses to the TO/CC field if that's really your intention.

If sending to more than three people (or more than 1 domain) then any decent client should default to BCC - and do so visually...

Sensor failure led to Soyuz launch failure, says Roscosmos

John Robson Silver badge

Re: spacecraft design

Forgot to add the link:


The launch escape for Apollo got tested...

" There was some doubt it would on Apollo, though it never got tested fortunately."

Of course the test flight was a technical failure, in that the booster used failed before reaching the appropriate altitude... The abort launch escape system however performed flawlessly, detecting the breakup and pulling the command module away to a safe landing.

Surely the absolutely best flight to have a booster failure on.

John Robson Silver badge

Re: spacecraft design

The launch escape for Apollo got tested...

" There was some doubt it would on Apollo, though it never got tested fortunately."

Of course the test flight was a technical failure, in that the booster used failed before reaching the appropriate altitude... The abort launch escape system however performed flawlessly, detecting the breakup and pulling the command module away to a safe landing.

Surely the absolutely best flight to have a booster failure on.

Microsoft confirms: We fixed Azure by turning it off and on again. PS: Office 362 is still borked

John Robson Silver badge

Re: Compound problem

"Its a shame that this happened on the same day that the public transport system suffered a significant failure requiring a far higher number of people to work from home. I expect that the two are linked in some way."

Well yes - without access to their cat pictures by email the drivers couldn't get in...

iPhone XS: Just another £300 for a better cam- Wait, come back!

John Robson Silver badge

Re: 2018 is the year of stupidly sized phones

"Fuelling up? I have to take my glove off to unlock the tank, but then I have to tap in my (longish) passcode to use the pay-for-fuel app. Sadly, my bike loves gas stations."

So they ban mobile phones on forecourts (pointlessly) then expect you to pay with an app on the mobile phone they just banned...

That's brilliant...

John Robson Silver badge

Re: 2018 is the year of stupidly sized phones

"However what I actually do about unlocking is use smart unlock to detect the bluetooth on the bike intercom to keep it unlocked (the bluetooth switches off with ignition) and it has a gloves mode so that I can still use the touchscreen with summer riding gloves on (when stopped!)"

Seems easy enough.

Anyone remember the good old days when you just typed in a pin to unlock a device?

John Robson Silver badge

Re: 2018 is the year of stupidly sized phones

Motorcycle courier did cross my mind - but I'd expect the phone to be unlocked, and powered from the bike, so that it can deal with things like routing etc...

At which point you don't need to unlock it at your destination.

John Robson Silver badge

Re: 2018 is the year of stupidly sized phones

Doing anything that would require a crash helmet suggests to me that you really ought not be unlocking your phone, and probably should be wearing gloves as well...

Douglas Adams was right, ish... Super-Earth world clocked orbiting 'nearby' Barnard's Star

John Robson Silver badge

Re: "The detached sail will accelerate but the probe will decelerate"

"Re: "The detached sail will accelerate but the probe will decelerate"

Why ? This is space, there is no aether to decelerate the probe. The probe will continue at its speed, and the sail, being pushed by the laser, will accelerate further and go faster than the probe.


Because they are proposing two sails - one that is detached, and still accelerated by the earth bound laser, and one which is pushed by the light reflected from the detached sail...

That would be a retarding force.

Unfortunately I don't think that we could target one of the two sails from here, so we'd likely hit the 'back' back of the 'braking' sail, and accelerate it instead... Additionally the accuracy with which the second sail would need to be positioned for reflected momentum to target the prove would be insane.

UK.gov fishes for likes as it prepares to go solo on digital sales tax

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Re: Too complicated

VAT isn't a tax on their turnover, and they don't pay any, they reclaim it all...

I had missed the sales of cloud services... That's certainly more complex.. but let's deal with the big (and easy) problem of adverts first.

The issue of selling digital services is complex, particularly when multinationals sell to other multinational companies...

John Robson Silver badge

Re: Too complicated

Monetisation is basically via adverts...

So tax advert *display* rather than sales. Then the adverts are taxed in the regime they are used for monetisation...

Bruce Schneier: You want real IoT security? Have Uncle Sam start putting boots to asses

John Robson Silver badge

The heating could be secure in ten years - if it was rationally designed now.

It should have an RJ45 port, and acquire an address from DHCP. It should also grab an NTP server (or guess at the DHCP server, then pool.ntp.org if the DHCP server neither gave it one, nor acted as one).

It can then present a web/API interface over that local connection - which also offers firmware upgrade functionality (with a physical button press also required).

Anything that just has WiFi, and refuses to talk locally - only talking to some external server... Well, that's just dumb...

FYI NASA just lobbed its Parker probe around the Sun in closest flyby yet: A nerve-racking 15M miles from the surface

John Robson Silver badge

Re: ..am I the only one who noticed..

It would need linear momentum - and alot of it...

And a very significant number of assists, as you go faster past a body you get less time to be deflected, so the increase in energy is reduced.

John Robson Silver badge

Re: So what I'm wondering now...

I should probably add that there is also some (repeated) trade of energy with Venus - gravity assist.

Whilst the probe arrives and leaves the gravitational well of Venus at the same speed, its direction is changed (hence the new orbital path each time) - and that direction change is a velocity change, which requires energy - which is exchanged with Venus.

So Venus does change orbital velocity, but its mass is such that the change in velocity is negligible.

John Robson Silver badge

Re: So what I'm wondering now...

No - speed is increasing as it 'falls' to perihelion, and then slowing as it climbs to aphelion.

Velocity is both speed and direction, the speed is changing, and the direction is changing as well.

What is constant (ignoring drag/radiation pressure/any thruster based control input) is the energy.

Continuously trading gravitational potential energy back and forth with kinetic energy.

HSBC now stands for Hapless Security, Became Compromised: Thousands of customer files snatched by crims

John Robson Silver badge

regular password changes...

So how long does it take you to tell me that there has been a (failed) attempt to log in to my account? or any attempt from an unrecognised device/location?

If the answer is anything longer than 5 minutes then I'm sorry, but there is no rotation frequency I can use that will protect either of us.

If the answer is under 5 minutes then that's great, that's when I need to consider password rotation...

Has science gone too far? Now boffins dream of shining gigantic laser pointer into space to get aliens' attention

John Robson Silver badge

Re: A good way to get the Galactic police at our door

You seem confused by the sheer distance involved, and the limited collimation possible.

The laser would be spread out over an entire solar system, it would be observable as a deviation from the spectral pattern of a normal star. It wouldn't be a blinding light...

UK.gov to roll out voter ID trials in 2019 local elections

John Robson Silver badge

What a ridiculous concept...

"Voters in Mid Sussex, Watford and North West Leicestershire are testing pre-issued poll cards, which are seen as a less restrictive solution. If someone turns up without the card on polling day, they must present another form of ID."

Hey - at least the above is vaguely reasonable.

I suspect that the 44 counts are those where the 'right' person has turned up later in the day. How would impersonations of people who just didn't bother to go themselves be detected? Do we count it when people say 'Oh yes, silly me, I've had a busy afternoon' and leave?

I happen to know many of the people who man the local polling booth - so I'm pretty confident that I could only vote once, and no-one else could vote as me - but having to bring the card they posted me isn't a huge problem.

Having to bring photoID is a much bigger ask - even non photo ID is tougher now. I happen to have had a lot of dealings with various government departments recently, but I but those letters are "not a utility bill"..

Chuck this on expenses: £2k iPad paints Apple as the premium fondleslab specialist – as planned

John Robson Silver badge

Does split screen mode not address this - it might not, that would after all be two word instances...

It's been a week since engineers approved a new DNS encryption standard and everyone is still yelling

John Robson Silver badge

Re: Too early to argue

Easy - A butterfly...

Mac users burned after Nuance drops Dragon speech to text software

John Robson Silver badge

Might be ok for dictation, but does it allow you operate the OS?

With the 6T, OnePlus hopes to shed 'cheeky upstart' tag and launch assault on flagships

John Robson Silver badge

Re: Why the front-facing camera hullaballoo?

I don't use mine for many actual pictures, but it's really useful when working in the back of a (closed) rack, or behind other bits of kit, to be able to prop the phone on something and see what it's going on...

A high tech mirror, with built in lighting, if you like...

British Airways: If you're feeling left out of our 380,000 passenger hack, then you may be one of another 185,000 victims

John Robson Silver badge

Re: Incompetent all round

"Using third party libraries that ship in binary form should never be used "

So never use Windows in a production environment, and make sure you employ all the Linux kernel developers?

At some point you have to trust third parties...

UK Home Office admits £200m Emergency Services Network savings 'delayed'

John Robson Silver badge

Pigs in helicopters...

Surely we just need flaming ejector seats and we can shower the streets with bacon?

On the third day of Windows Microsoft gave to me: A file-munching run of DELTREE

John Robson Silver badge

Re: Apple just did the same to me...

It at least says which makes it easier to do the right thing.

I used to try to take backups of things I thought important before upgrades... It's easiest just to backup the whole machine now.

Rather glad I spent the couple of hours getting my docker AFP container to accept time machine connections as well as being available as a share...

TM just seem to 'just work' (TM) which is more than I can say for most backup solutions I've come across.

For my next trick I'll be getting the TM sparse bundle mounted read only on the server, so I can push copies to a remote location as well (they don't need the speed or connectivity of the local backup).

Finally getting all this stuff sorted properly.

John Robson Silver badge

Apple just did the same to me...

Although with the ease of TimeMachine it hasn't actually caused me a problem at all...

I pulled the old 60GB SSD out of the ageing Mac mini, and put in a 500GB disk in it's place, leaving the 500GB original spinning rust in there as well...

On booting to the Mojave install stick and opening disk utility to decide what to do it took one look at the disks and made a brand new fusion drive out of them - wiping both - without asking me.

Time machine backup pulled into a newly excluded directory so no actual data loss, but it was a very odd moment.

Send up a satellite to zap space junk if you want Earth's orbit to be clean, say boffins

John Robson Silver badge

Re: Centrifugal force

Centrifugal force is quite correct - although often misunderstood...

It is what happens when you solve newtonian mechanics in a rotating frame of reference.

If you solve in a static frame the centrifugal force won't appear, but you will have a pile of other things to consider (like very high lateral velocity), and the diagram becomes much more complex.

An orbit can be easily viewed in a rotating frame of reference (just assume the earth is a perfect sphere, so you don't mind it slipping backwards).

Spoiler alert: Google's would-be iPhone killer Pixel 3 – so many leaks

John Robson Silver badge

iPhone 8 a four year old design?

That's a bit of a stretch...

The iPhone 6 is, so it's in the *body* of a four year old design (which means that cases etc still fit), but there is a *little* more to designing a phone than drawing a rectangle and rounding off a few corners.

Oi, you. Equifax. Cough up half a million quid for fumbling 15 million Brits' personal info to hackers

John Robson Silver badge

Re: 30 quid per victim?

15 Million victims, £500k fine

That's not £30 per victim - it's thruppence.

NASA 'sextortionist' allegedly tricked women into revealing their password reset answers, stole their nude selfies

John Robson Silver badge

Re: And service providers...

"What you choose to tell service providers is your mother's maiden name can be a secret. If you want it to be."

You know that, I know that, most people here know that...

But the general population doesn't.

And the insistence on using such data from 'trusted' institutions (like banks and the tech giants) means that people just answers...

John Robson Silver badge

And service providers...

Stop treating my mother’s maiden name like it’s some kind of secret.

Y'know what? VoIP can also be free from pesky regulation – US judges

John Robson Silver badge

Does that...

Free it from the scopes of CALEA?

Nokia reinstates 'hide the Notch' a day after 'Google required' feature kill

John Robson Silver badge

Re: Here's an idea!

I like my hearing aids - they work very well as BT headphones...

I don't understand why you can't get something of the same design (RIC, open dome, behind the ear) which is a dedicated headset.

Never come across anything so comfortable for long term use - and so good at giving me audio information.

Now there is some leakage, but then most people's ear buds leak like crazy as well...

John Robson Silver badge


The ears are being hidden, not the notch.

Just needs a two step status bar... Clock, network and battery notification in the ears - the actual status bar beneath that is then able to display more of whatever you want on it...

European nations told to sort out 'digital tax' on tech giants by end of year

John Robson Silver badge

Re: Surely you tax adverts...

HMRC doesn't - but they aren't all taxed done by declaration in the most part anyway?

Shouldn't be that hard to audit

It's all in the sales - some percentage of adverts that aren't geographically limited, and all the revenue from those which are limited to UK users/geographies

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