* Posts by Mark #255

296 posts • joined 11 Jun 2009


Bored bloke takes control of British Army 'psyops' unit's Twitter

Mark #255

Re: "We have always been at war with Eastasia"

As anyone who's read Good Omens knows, that was just the almighty messing about with the Pleistocene.

Oh Snapd! Gimme-root-now security bug lets miscreants sock it to your Ubuntu boxes

Mark #255

Re: Am I Sam Beckett?

The BBC iplayer site, on Linux, requires flash, as I re-found out when doing a fresh install a couple of months ago.

Cop films chap on body-worn cam because he 'complains about cops a lot'. Chap complains

Mark #255

This thread is reminding me of the old saw about "security" services' investigations always requiring three officers: One who can read, one who can write, and a heavy to keep an eye on the two dangerous intellectuals.

Google faces another GDPR probe – this time in the land of meatballs and flat-pack furniture

Mark #255

Re: Go Get Em GDPR...

What? Are you suggesting that those well known historians Andersson, Ulvaeus, Fältskog, and Lyngstad were peddling fake news back in 1974?

Where to implant my employee microchip? I have the ideal location

Mark #255

Re: Poor Reliability.. better idea

[...] These lines match the number 6 [...]

Yeah, erm, no: because the encoding for each digit is actually 7 stripes wide, so "6" isn't "two narrow black lines", it's:

  • "black-white-black-white-white-white-white", or
  • "white-white-white-white-black-white-black", or
  • "white-black-white-black-black-black-black"

There's three encodings for the other digits, too, then a way of encoding the first digit (in EAN-13) by swapping between encodings for the first 6 digits.

Barcode scanners work out which way round the barcode is by attempting to decode it: there's only one correct way.

I want to buy a coffee with an app – how hard can it be?

Mark #255

User Hostility

A smartphone app which ties up to a real person, and can monitor which shop you're in (and when) sounds like solidly useful customer data.

If the app is so convoluted that a vast proportion of potential marks give up trying to access the benefits, that sounds like a win for the app owner.

Especially as many ex-users are likely to never uninstall the app, so it can continue surreptitiously slurping the data (with explicit user consent).

Trebles all round!

(Yeah, never attribute to malice and all that, but in our office we're convinced that the shiny web-based expenses thing newly foisted on us is designed to make you want to give up 'cos it was only a couple of quid...)

Now that's a dodgy Giza: Eggheads claim Great Pyramid can focus electromagnetic waves

Mark #255

Re: I have no idea if it works, because I've got a beard

It's quite clever, that page. You've got a supposedly sceptical author, a reasonably well-written story, the appeal to (anonymous) authority who spouts some erudite-sounding bollocks.

The best bit is that the link to the net-file for your own cardboard pyramid is broken. So if you were mildly interested in this, you give up at this point, but are left with the miasma of "pyramids sharpen razor-blades" hanging in your sub-conscious. But if you really want to try, you give it a go, but does it fail because (a) it's all bollocks, or (b) because you built your pyramid wrong?

8/10 Well constructed hoax.

Shock Land Rover Discovery: Sellers could meddle with connected cars if not unbound

Mark #255

Hire car data

Not the same, but related:

I was Quite Interested to note that the hire cars I've used since GDPR came into force have all had empty sat nav histories and no other phones in the Bluetooth history (this never used to be the case).

At least someone appears to be on the ball.

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

Mark #255

of Irish Passports

Given that a passport is valid for 10 years, and that 82,000 applications is only a 28% increase, that means ~64,000 applications in the previous year.

The most pessimistic assumption (that prior to that there were no applications), would mean over 9% of NI has an Irish passport. If 64,000 is assumed as a baseline, that's over 40% of NI has a non-expired Irish passport.

eBay has locked me into undeletable Catch-22 trap, complains biz bod

Mark #255

Is the GDPR a red herring here?

I thought the GDPR was about personal data.

Panzer Cases appears to be a company, not just this bloke's personal ebay account.

US cops go all Minority Report: Google told to cough up info on anyone near a crime scene

Mark #255

Re: You are aware that...

Have phones* got GPS or not? if so why this constant fucking around trying to guess where you are by other means?

Yes, but using GPS continuously is quite a power-hog. My phone can last two days between charging if I'm doing nothing much with it, even with all the radios enabled. If I actively log my position using GPS, that reduces to about 6 hours.

Super Cali's futuristic robo-cars in focus. Even though a watchdog says tech is quite atrocious

Mark #255

Re: Give the headline writer a raise

A pedant grumbles:

The second line has lost a syllable, compared to the original.

And it could have scanned properly (add "that" between "says" and "tech").

Bad Register, no cookie.

Waddawewant? Free video codecs! When do we... oh, look, the last MPEG-2 patent expired!

Mark #255

Re: Not just DVDs

DAB uses mpeg1 layer 2, DAB+ uses AAC (which ties in with MP4).

Did you mean DVB? That uses mpeg2.

It's official: .corp, .home, .mail will never be top-level domains on the 'net

Mark #255


Be careful with that: the International Telecommunication Union has a .int domain:


It's 2018 and… wow, you're still using Firefox? All right then, patch these horrid bugs

Mark #255

Re: Destroys all saved data

It sounds like your profile became corrupted and your Firefox has created a fresh profile.

Mozilla Support has some help

You may be able to recover the logins.

You GNOME it: Windows and Apple devs get a compelling reason to turn to Linux

Mark #255

Re: Example in today's news: Unimpressed by Gnome

Reading the comments, it seems that the (old, unmaintained, switched-off-by-default, won't-work-on -Wayland) option to put icons on the desktop is to be replaced with an extension to provide the same functionality.

(Mine's the one with the "Not upgrading from 14.04 until 18.04's been out a few months" lapel pin.)

Fridge killed my baby? Mag-field radiation from household stuff 'boosts miscarriage risk'

Mark #255

Re: "at a distance of one-inch, a clothes iron emits..."

I think the most sensible precaution is to never iron your clothes again.

My coat's the crumpled one...

Looking through walls, now easier than ever

Mark #255

Another alternative is foil-backed insulation board, eg Kingspan or Celotex.

You even get plausible deniability, 'cos it's bog-standard construction material.

You also get massively reduced Wi-Fi & mobile phone signals, as long as you tape the seams properly.

Why does no one want to invest in full fibre broadband, wails UK.gov

Mark #255

on line rental

They don't want to go full fibre as they want to keep their line rental slush fund.

Line rental is a contribution towards upkeep of the wires (whatever they're made of) between a property and the exchange.

I'm not sure why changing over to a fibre-optic line does away with the need for that upkeep, or the need to fund that maintenance.

Of course, you could be arguing that the amount of maintenance vs cost of line rental is not balanced, but that's a different argument to the one I inferred from your comment.

Pokémon GO caused hundreds of deaths, increased crashes

Mark #255

Re: Cleaning in progess

Because, of course, ALL people near Pokestops are players of the game.

And not one of them might be simply passing by.

User asked help desk to debug a Post-it Note that survived a reboot

Mark #255

Re: passthrough PSUs

The dearth of passthrough sockets on PC PSUs is actually down to the combination of:

  • Limits on earth leakage currents (so that RCDs can reliably operate)
  • EMC filters on everything (including monitors) which have line-to-earth capacitors, contributing to the overall earth leakage current

If your PC has a passthrough socket for the monitor, there's additional earth leakage current for the system, but no change in the limit.

The UK's super duper 1,000mph car is being tested in Cornwall

Mark #255

Re: Cool, but why?

I'm not a rocket-car scientist, but it appears that it's pushing engineering and materials science to their limits, as well as instrumentation & feedback systems.

All those things tend to trickle down into mainstream use.

Blade Runner 2049: Back to the Future – the movies that showed us what's to come

Mark #255
Thumb Up

Terminator Genisys

I chanced on Terminator Genisys recently on Netflix (other streaming movie services are available) and was pleasantly surprised by it - it didn't take itself too seriously, and there was a reasonable attempt to address all the "going back in time to kill X" paradoxes.

And (obligatory reference to The Fine Article) it did rather pointedly wag a disapproving finger at the ongoing attempts to slurpunify our online presence.

EU's tech giant tax plan moves forward

Mark #255

Re: EU - making it up as they go along

Well, that's a bit of a non-sequitur. If tax minimisation is immoral, then companies should welcome paying a "fair" share.

But if tax minimisation is amoral (instead being simply "doing business"), and a company makes no value judgement as to what is "fair" or "unfair", then the EU altering its rules is similarly just "doing business".

TL;DR you can't complain that it's the EU's fault, then complain when the EU do something about it.

Particle boffins show off 'cheap', cute little CosI, world's smallest neutrino detector

This post has been deleted by a moderator

The ultimate full English breakfast – have your SAY

Mark #255
IT Angle

Live and let fry

There's some opinions being expressed in a fairly dogmatic way here.

For what it's worth, the best Full English I've been served was in Grangemouth, about 5 minutes' walk from the Kelpies. Diplomatically, it's called neither "Full English" nor "Full Scottish".

Haggis and black pudding, back bacon (thickly sliced), decent meaty sausages, fried egg, mushrooms, and a potato scone.

Baked beans I can take or leave, tomatoes (fresh, grilled) are hardly ever cooked properly, but I do enjoy a hash brown or two, and they tend to be more consistently well-cooked than fried bread.

If I'm at a Premier Inn this'll be preceded by a bowl of fruit with yoghourt, and followed with a croissant.

I continue to be baffled by the "Full Welsh" breakfast - there doesn't seem to be any distinguishing characteristic from the English variety.

In the week Uber blew up, Netflix restates 'No brilliant jerks' policy

Mark #255

Re: screensavers

You are aware that screensavers are not actually needed on LED/LCD displays? And, if you are still using a CRT then it's probably time to switch to something slightly newer..

Plasma screens, innit.

Report estimates cost of disruption to GPS in UK would be £1bn per day

Mark #255

Carrington events mess up the ionosphere

Coronal Mass Ejections (that's what the Carrington event was) have the potential to send the ionosphere into scintillation (it's what makes stars appear to twinkle) for a few days after impacting the Earth's magnetosphere.

The GPS receiver picks up the signals, but they're being continually, and rapidly, altered in terms of the apparent path length they've travelled from the satellites. This means either very poor resolution, or (more likely) that the GPS signal is told to send a Do Not Use flag until the ionosphere has settled down.

The radio environment is noisy – so use the noise as a carrier for signals

Mark #255

50m range only by "cheating"

I thought a 50m range from backscatter was, erm, heroic, and so it turns out to be. They got that by "utilizing the [cellular] uplink [...] when the backscatter node is placed next to the phone".

In "not cheating" mode, they got 158 bps at 22m, with <1% BER.

However, in all of this, they're using a solar cell to scavenge energy on the node.

LG's $1,300 5K monitor foiled by Wi-Fi: Screens go blank near hotspots

Mark #255

Re: This is not a design fault

IEC-61000-4-3 2006 [...]

That's merely a basic standard, containing the test method. It doesn't require testing to be undertaken over the entire frequency range. The product standard for IT equipment is CISPR 24, which calls up IEC 61000-4-3, but only specifies its use up to 1 GHz.

And yes, I am an EMC engineer.

Mark #255

Re: Did someone not do their EMC/FCC/CE testing then?

Amusingly* the immunity standards for IT equipment stop at 1 GHz for radiated immunity tests (which are harmonised in Europe and give a "presumption of conformity to the essential requirements").

That being said, even if your immunity tests do cover the Wi-Fi ranges, it'll generally be at 1V/m. If your Wi-Fi router is at full power, anything closer than ~4ft will be illuminated at more than 1 V/m. So there shouldn't strictly be any expectation of satisfactory operation.

* for some value of "amusing".

Gov's industrial strategy: 'Look, we've changed the words above our door'

Mark #255

Re: "The beginning of wisdom is to call things their proper names"

I'll counter your (possibly-)Confucian quote with a mis-remembered Yes, Minister quote along the lines of:

You get the tricky parts out of the way in the title, and never have to refer to them again.

AMD is a rounding error on Intel's spreadsheet and that sucks for us all

Mark #255

The last three PC upgrades I've done have ended up using AMD parts. Yes, i7 chips are bloody fast, but I really can't justify* the cost, compared to an A8.

* Even though the A8 can take 12 hours to compress a Bluray down to a sensible number of gigabytes

NSA, GCHQ and even Donald Trump are all after your data

Mark #255

Re: Minimise your exposure

I was slightly impressed that this week I had a promoted tweet in my feed from <one of the acts on Later with Jools Holland>, presumably because I follow <one of the other acts on LwJH>.

Oh bugger, I've just admitted I like music that ends up on Later...

There are some really crap budget phones out there. Vodafone's Smart Ultra 7 isn't

Mark #255

San Francisco

Prior to the Kestrel was the Orange San Francisco, which I remember very fondly.

Yes, that is my lawn, and would you do me the courtesy of moving along, thanking you kindly.

Italian scientists use fluorescent box to arouse sexually indifferent men

Mark #255

Re: Wonder where they got the bulbs from

Ideal until they fizzle out in about six months.

You might leap to conclusions about CFL factory location and quality, I couldn't possibly comment.

They're coming up for their fourth or fifth winter, so they're not going too badly.

We also have some 20W daylight bulbs which get used every day, and are now noticeably dim for the first 20 seconds or so. I guess I'll need to change them at some point.

Mark #255

Re: Wonder where they got the bulbs from

CFLs are actually the ideal light source for this. The old incandescent tungsten bulbs generally give off a yellowish light, whereas CFLs with the right phosphor can be coaxed into a sunlight-equivalent colour temperature.

We have three 30W daylight bulbs in the lounge which are brilliant for banishing those wintry shadows.

Delete Google Maps? Go ahead, says Google, we'll still track you

Mark #255

Re: Privacy @Chris 125

So aren't they forced to ask for your details?

As a counter-example of (arguably) doing it correctly:

Premier Inn's free wi-fi doesn't require a phone number; it doesn't require that the name you give matches the name you booked the room with; and it hasn't yet sent any spam to the address I signed up with.

400 million Foxit users need to catch up with patched-up reader

Mark #255


I saw a word ending in ..xit and thought, which country wants to leave now?

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

Mark #255

Re: The real universe doesnt care

Actually, it's a shape defined by the EGM96 coefficients.

'Boss, I've got a bug fix: Nuke the whole thing from orbit, rewrite it all'

Mark #255

Inconsistent goto paths

The thing that gets me about the SSL code is that the two paths (bad packet length and cert length mismatch) have their meat in different parts. truncated could easily be in the earlier if block (like the other one is), and then simply goto f_err; (like the other one does).

And (assuming a1 is zero when there's no errors), you could write the final if(0) as if(!a1) for better readability.

Flare-well, 2015 – solar storm to light up skies on New Year's Eve

Mark #255

Re: No problemo . . . me t'inks

Well, you're wrong. CMEs in 1989 led to the destruction of an HV transformer in New Jersey, and the collapse of the Quebec power grid (90 seconds from normal functioning to a full system failure).

Surge protectors provide microsecond-long absorption of high voltages, not the quasi-static huge currents that are induced by CMEs. Thinking that surge protectors would help is like thinking that a waterproof jacket would help stop your house flooding.

LHC records biggest bang ever with 1 Peta-electron-volt jolt

Mark #255

Re: Lead nuclear mass - @Voyna i Mor

A nucleon is either a proton or a neutron, not a single lead nucleus. With an atomic weight of 208, a lead atom (or ion) has 208 nucleons.

Nuisance call blocking firms fined £170,000 ... for making nuisance calls

Mark #255

Condensing Boilers (Re: My current pet hate)

As an aside (i.e. OT!) we don't want a more efficient boiler as it all likelihood it would require a complete rebuilding of the C/H system

It depends how exotic your system is: certainly you can get a condensing boiler that's a plumb-in replacement for a system boiler, leaving all your existing system (hot water tank, pumps, controller etc) intact.

WIPO punts Cambridge University over attempt to grab Cambridge.com

Mark #255

Re: Land grabbing

[...]a .co.us for the larger Cambridge in the US[...]

But Cambridge is in Massachusetts, not Colorado.

Web ad tried to make my iPhone spaff a premium-rate text, says snapper

Mark #255

Re: The best and worst features

Browsers should be completely blocked from being able to communicate with *any* other program on a device...

I disagree. mailto, phone numbers and addresses are things that I frequently click on, to open in another app.

The alarming issue is the apparent programmatic/automatic nature of it.

As an aside, the messaging app on my Moto G warned me recently that I was about to send a chargeable (out-of-bundle) text message; this is probably the appropriate app to know about these things, rather than the browser.

GCHQ wants to set your passwords. In a good way

Mark #255

Re: Real World!

Regarding biometric data, they're akin to your username, not to a password.

Clueless do-gooders make Africa's conflict mineral mines even more dangerous

Mark #255


Whilst a price hike from $10M to $4B is Bad and Wrong, it's not a 400,000× factor. Well, not unless you're using (the archaic) British billions.

Stop forcing benefits down my throat and give me hard cash, dammit

Mark #255


Your entire thesis seems to be that because flexibility in non-cash-worker-rewards vs extra cash is beneficial to you, that we should all have this extra "flexibility" imposed on us.

Which is fine for those who truly do have the freedom to pick and choose ("career women", you write, and "those not on minimum wage"). But for those who don't, you're effectively giving their employers the freedom to "allow" their employees the chance to work themselves into an early grave.

And I'm sure that would never be abused.

Oh, hang on, we already have zero-hours contracts. And they've turned out to be an untrammelled force for good, haven't they?

Thunder-faced Mozilla lifts Flash Firefox block after 0-days plugged

Mark #255

Re: Stop it, Mozilla

Also, it was a soft block; that is, the user could click through on the banner to enable flash on a per-site basis.


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