* Posts by Mark #255

279 posts • joined 11 Jun 2009

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

Mark #255
Boffin

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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

Mark #255
Boffin

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.

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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.

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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.

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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".

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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.

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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

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

Mark #255
Coat

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...

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

Mark #255
Coat

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

Mark #255
Coat

Foxit

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

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'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.

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

Mark #255
Headmaster

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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WIPO punts Cambridge University over attempt to grab Cambridge.com

Mark #255
Coat

Re: Land grabbing

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

But Cambridge is in Massachusetts, not Colorado.

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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.

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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.

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

Mark #255
Facepalm

Arithmetic

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.

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

Mark #255

hmmmm

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?

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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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KILLER! Adobe Flash, Windows zero-day vulns leak from Hacking Team raid

Mark #255

"Ask to Activate"

In Firefox, you can set Flash (and all your other add-ons) as "Ask to Activate".

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Silly Google's Photos app labelled BLACK PEOPLE as GORILLAS

Mark #255
Coat

Re: Google Photos labelled me Cunt

It was an image of me on a lounger, beside the sea.

And were you, perchance, surrounded by underlings who refused to believe that you couldn't order the sea to stop rising?

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Indie review of UK surveillance laws: As you were, GCHQ

Mark #255
Black Helicopters

Re: Yeah, but...

And so can the 'royal' mail - are they planning to open every letter?

Err, you are aware that (one of) the main reason(s) that the Royal Mail was formed was to allow the Crown to eavesdrop on those pesky foreigners/republicans/papists/terrorists?

this post from the I-get-all-my-facts-from-Horrible-Histories sofa

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MIT bods' digital economy babblings are tosh. C'mon guys, Economics 101

Mark #255

Re: Familiarity

Ian McMillan and Carol Ann Duffy both seem to qualify...

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New relay selection fix for Tor to spoil spooks' fun (eventually)

Mark #255

more pedantry

Interestingly, the full OED entry (possibly £) for decimate has the, er, "colloquial" usage as sense 4b

"4. transf.

b. rhetorically or loosely. To destroy or remove a large proportion of; to subject to severe loss, slaughter, or mortality."

Which just goes to show that, even though English dictionaries are descriptive, not prescriptive of current usage (there is no Académie Anglaise), there aren't an awful lot of dictionary compilers gritting their teeth and muttering "that is WRONG!"

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City of birth? Why password questions are a terrible idea

Mark #255
Facepalm

Still too many failures

I'd think that for far too many people, Google's suggested questions still wouldn't work.

I wasn't born in a city, and my dad doesn't have a middle name.

(this post from the I-am-Spartacus department)

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The Internet of Things becomes the Game of Thrones in standards war

Mark #255
Facepalm

VHS/Betamax zombie canard

Betamax, though offering better quality than VHS, did this at the expense of shorter running time.

So you couldn't (at launch, later iterations increased the running length) fit an entire film onto a single cassette.

Intermission anyone?

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Next-gen Freeview telly won't be another disruptive 4Ker

Mark #255

PVR vs catch-up

Reasons why PVR is (usually) a better option:

  • Better quality: OTA is generally higher resolution and much higher bit-rate than catchup

  • Not missing: some things (eg films) don't appear on catchup

  • No expiry: recordings stay on my PVR until I get rid of them (notwithstanding the finite space available), whereas iPlayer still only caches for a month (admittedly better than previously).

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Hordes spaff cash on Chip titchyputer to rival Pi (maybe)

Mark #255

Shipping and graphics output

The $9 version only gives you composite video out (fine for anything headless...), but VGA and HDMI outputs are $10 & $15 extra respectively. And shipping to the UK is $20. So that's $44 for the HDMI version to my door, which (once you've added import charges) is around £40.

(This post from the my-specific-use-case-is-not-being-catered-for department)

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Mozilla to whack HTTP sites with feature-ban stick

Mark #255

Re: why, why, why... what is the point?

Which is why I cannot support this idea, at least not unless Mozilla dig into their deep pockets to set up a non-profit, free for the user, certificate authority.

I'm afraid then, Mr/Ms Coward, you'll have to wait until last November before you can strike that off your list of demands reasons why you cannot support this idea.

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Acer introduces a REVOLUTION in tablet tech: The PENCIL

Mark #255
Unhappy

grumble

I realise there's a slight "my specific use-case is not being met" to this, but there's no bloody GPS. And now the Nexus 7 has been withdrawn, there seems to be a dearth of tablets to replace it.

You can get as cheap a 7" tablet as you like, as long as you're happy with Android 4.x, 1024x600 and access to Virus McPwned's AllLucky(TM) Glorious(TM) AppStor(TM).

grrrr.

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Motorola's 5-incher finds the G-spot: Moto G 4G budget Android smartie

Mark #255

Re: Lolipop

Just before Christmas, an update for "Motorola Update Services" arrived through the Play Store, which claims "This update is necessary to enable a future upgrade of your device to Android 5.0, Lollipop". I'd check you've got that updated.

(1st Gen Moto G on 5.0.2 over here)

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Honda CR-V: SUV-lite that’s also light on the pocket

Mark #255
Headmaster

UK vs US gallons

An Imperial (UK) gallon is 4.54 litres, not 4.3 litres.

Our gallon is bigger than yours mostly because our pint is 20 floz, not 16.

But our fluid ounce is 4% bigger than yours, too.

Anyway, I drove a Civic with one of these engines 450 miles, mostly motorway. It achieved 75mpg, which was impressive.

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Mono Magic: Photography, Breaking Bad style

Mark #255

@Ian Re: Ken Rockwell laughing stock.

No, the camera doesn't get it right all the time.

Hence my use of the phrase "virtually all the time".

I shoot in raw+JPEG too, and I've needed it once - for contrasty shots in a very sunny Caen. I carry cards with enough space for about 1800 frames of raw+jpeg (ie 50 rolls of film equivalent), so memory is not a scarce resource.

But my point was that Ken's advice stems from the days when shooting in RAW meant that effectively, 1 card ~= 1 roll. I wouldn't wish that on any budding photographer.

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Mark #255

Re: Ken Rockwell laughing stock.

Shooting in RAW has its place, and with today's gigantic sizes it's a no-brainer (my smallest card is 8GB, and fits over 300 frames in RAW+JPEG Fine mode), but I hardly ever even look at the RAW files, because (as Ken says) the camera gets the JPEG right virtually all the time.

But scroll back to when a 1GB card was the pinnacle of flash memory - that's under 40 frames, and you're back into shutter-release-as-a-scarce-resource territory.

Where Ken's site is strongest is in his technical appraisals of lenses and bodies. His recommendations for settings are just that (and helped me change the hilarious old Nikon default of squashing all JPEGs to constant size, rather than constant quality).

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Mark #255

Manual control is the key

Rather than digital vs film, I think the real distinction is between point-and-shoot against the ease of customisation that a "proper" camera gives.

I briefly dallied with a Fuji bridge camera, which incorporated the worst of all worlds - indeterminately slow shutter release, nested menu controls, an over-abundance of special modes, and an "Aperture Priority" mode which gave two stops.

An entry-level D3300* does give you PASM modes, but you're still reliant on scrolling through on-screen menus to ensure you're changing the parameter you want.

Whereas even a D200* has enough dials and customisation that you can have one dial for shutter speed, the other for aperture, and you're basically sorted. And of course, if you want snaps rather than photographic art (or you're handing the camera over to an uninterested spouse/friend), then full auto is available, and the instruction generally goes:

  • Yes, you need to look through the view finder.
  • No, you can't display the picture on the screen and hold a kilo of camera+lens a foot away from your body. It's not comfortable.

  • Half-press the shutter button [yes, that button there, just under your index finger], wait for the beep, squeeze until it clicks

  • Yes, it is a satisfying clunk isn't it?

* Other makes are available, but I grew up with a Nikon, so everyone else's focus rings Go The Wrong Way.

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This ISN'T Net Neutrality. This is Net Google. This is Net Netflix – the FCC's new masters

Mark #255
Mushroom

Re: You are absolute fools!

[I know I shouldn't respond to trolls, but...]

If you hate government as much as you seem to from this post, I look forward to hearing how your relocation to Somalia works out.

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