* Posts by RayG

67 posts • joined 15 Jul 2009


Meet ELIoT – the EU project that wants to commercialize Internet-over-lightbulb


Re: Research farming in the EU

I agree research is speculative and has to accept funding some things that turn out to be dead ends... so there's a good case for writing off the cost of the previous round of work on this subject. Throwing more after it isn't really taking a risk for a chance of innovation, it's safely progressing something we already know isn't a bright idea. Seems like it could be an example of the sunk cost fallacy - a favoured choice of dim bulbs.


I don't know about anyone else, but I'm hearing "Nobody adopted this tech because it didn't really fill a need well enough for people to get over the practical hurdles, so let's throw more money at it".

Hayabusa2 stirs up rubble on surface of Ryugu, pokes asteroid with sampling horn


Re: Uneasy

Genuine answer: nowadays, this has been thought about quite a lot. It's not too much of a worry, as the high radiation high vacuum environment of an asteroid is quite hostile to complex organic chemistry. However they also really care about not contaminating the retrieved specimens and destroying their value, so they're likely to put them in a pretty tightly screwed down jar.

I'm more afraid of hostile life forms from the back of my fridge than hostile life forms from Asteroid Ryugu.

Dear Britain's mast-fearing Nimbys: Do you want your phone to work or not?


If that was as sarcastic as it looks to me, I think you get what I'm getting at :-)


Sorry, but that's not what I meant or what I thought I said, and I'm struggling to see how you could read that into it.

The article is written from a point of view of presuming that demand for better signal is overwhelmingly common. So, for that matter, is public policy (about not-spots and coverage and so forth). My experience has been that quite a lot of people think current levels of patchiness are acceptable - that if there's somewhere they can't get signal, that's OK, and that building a huge amount of barely-used infrastructure just so they can make a call in this particular ditch might not be worth the bother, cost, or profusion of mast sites. I don't like it when articles and commenters assume that these people don't exist, or don't count, or must be doing so out of superstitious belief that low-energy radio signals are harmful in some mysterious way. (I don't hold that belief).

My personal view is that less communication access is entirely acceptable - I assume this opinion isn't very common, but I haven't heard very many other people express it. I commented, slightly grumpily, to indicate that this view exists. I certainly didn't mean to imply that because it exists, that therefore nobody with the contrary view exists. Have a good Friday night.


I don't EXPECT to be able to call for help in the event of accidents absolutely everywhere I might go. I think it's an absurd expectation. If I fall off a cliff somewhere and can't call for help... that might well be it for me. And that's absolutely fine. I can think of much worse ways to go.

Anyway I could as easily have an accident which left me unable to get a phone out of my pocket, or fall down a mineshaft, or break the phone, or not have taken it. Expecting to always be able to summon help is itself dangerous and foolish.

I hope you learn to take responsibility for yourself and accept that risk is a vital part of life and that disproportionate efforts to reduce it come with horrifying opportunity costs. I certainly don't hope you have an accident, because that's bizarrely childish, but I hope you gain some sense of perspective in a way that isn't really dangerous.


I note that we pretend that everybody wants phone coverage everywhere. Personally I'd be quite content to see a lot less of it, and think we're paying far too much attention to whingers when it comes to lack of signal.

UK rail lines blocked by unexpected Windows dialog box


Re: "Train Station"

:-D Ha! No, it's just slow. Apparently there are leaves on the five-volt line.


Re: "Train Station"

"station" = "place where something is stopped". It's a "train station" when just YOUR train is stationary for an indefinite period of time. It's a "railway station" when the ENTIRE railway is stationary for an indefinite period of time. Problem solved, leaving only the mystery of why the term "railway station" is becoming less common when the condition of the entire railway being stopped doesn't seem to.

(says I, from behind my... work station)

Microsoft liberates ancient MS-DOS source from the museum and sticks it in GitHub


Re: To some MSDOS was an major leap forward.

Sounds like good parenting to me - and sound economics. Requiring the kid to commit pocket money means their decision has an opportunity cost so it represents a real commitment, while the extra parental contribution incentivises the decision over others. Perhaps kit-buying mothers have a better grasp of economics than self-confessed lucre louts?

'Clive, help us,' say empty-handed ZX Spectrum reboot buyers


Re: The world was a different place back then

"Us plebs are only allowed to *CONSUME!!!* not make."

I beg your pardon?

Cooking up your own devices is easier than ever with lower-than-ever cost barriers to entry. Custom circuit boards are down to a few £, FPGAs even let self-taught hobbyists develop new processor architectures - equivalent to custom chips - or process signals at amazingly high data rates and bandwidths. At the "because we can" end there's even a surprisingly thriving scene of people building entirely new computer designs from the ground up with logic chips. Frankly the Spectrum clone IS trivial compared to the stuff that crops up every week on the electronics makers' blogs. Just because YOU didn't make anything this week didn't mean nobody else did. Now stop whining and go join them.

Want to know what an organisation is really like? Visit the restroom


Re: I nver undeerstood why people who look normal turn into nasty troglodytes...

"We're an aerospace company, but the toilet could be one of the meanest and miser company you could find." ...you're Boeing or Airbus? Perhaps this is a form of in-house testing of the customer experience?

SPOOKY new Pluto snaps will make the HAIR RISE on the back of your neck

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What would the problem with that be?

Absolutely nothing.

(I don't think it would be hundreds more, maybe a dozen or two)

The definition-wriggling they did to demote pluto is much more ambiguous than the old "it's round under its own weight, it orbits the sun, it's a planet". So welcome Planet Charon!

Good news for Relational DBAs


I wish "squeal" had caught on, but I think I'm fighting a lost battle there.

LOHAN fizzles forlornly in REHAB


Re: A bigger hammer?

Fancy crushing some rocket fuel? I'm not sure I do.

However, the idea of casting the igniters into a block of something fuelly, pressing into place, and then popping a smidge of silicone outside that seems rather appealing. Then the silicone seal is against something solid, and there's no pressure differential across it until you press "go!".

Scottish council muzzles 9-year-old school dinner photo blogger


Kids today...

You've not seen a vga cable right?

Rovio flies away from Angry Birds for all-new puzzler


Re: They haven't copied

Not in the slightest.


also, thank you for triggering a major nostalgia attack. I even have the disks. Now, where can I get a floppy drive?

British 4G mobile data rollout 'will mean NO TELLY for 2m homes'


Destroying TV availability for better mobile internet? Bring it on!

GPS jamming rife, could PARALYSE Blighty, say usual suspects


Hurrah for the paranoia industry

I read the article as saying blocks had been found and proven, but not spoofs, which are indeed far more difficult. So let's all fear spoof attacks!

It's not someone's funding review time by any chance?


Didn't we have a long discussion after a post about Iran's alleged drone theft in which it was suggested that GPS spoofing is actually quite difficult? Is it, or isn't it?

US spy drone hijacked with GPS spoof hack, report says


There we are then, thanks.

If it's omitted on a modern drone it's probably on cost grounds, but this sounds like it was an expensive sort of drone...


It's harder than that, sad to say. Many of the proposed attacks involve a slow drift. You would need to compare position information with airspeed information and then work out whether it is inconsistent with realistic wind speeds. Possible, but not bulletproof.


You can definitely keep track of your position through inertial measurement.

It's just a LOT more expensive and difficult to do than GPS, and errors accumulate unless you have something to regularly check against... like GPS. (Until recently it was also bulky and heavy, although I wouldn't bet on that still being true).

As a result it tends to only get used where absolutely indispensable (like on a submarine - GPS reception down there isn't so good). I wouldn't bet against the existence of drones that have this technology - but whether it's involved in the real story behind this particular episode or not, I have no idea.

2011's Best... Games


2011's most heavily marketed... games

This reads like a list of "the 10 games with the biggest marketing budgets". Any correlation with "best" is entirely coincidental (and not, I would contend, all that close)

Nokia's Windows comeback: Great but what's next?


There's only one possible response to "someone needs to"

...Well volunteered!

Alien city lights could be detected across interstellar space


See, and similar spectrum - this is not a dubious assumption.

Sight has evolved several independent times on Earth because it's too useful not to. Plenty of species on earth have different sensory ranges than humans but they're all in the same basic region - not just for evolutionary reasons but for physics ones. If there is life on other planets the biology and evolution will be different but physics should be the same.

Frequencies of the electromagnetic spectrum that are significantly higher (mid UV and above) are energetic enough to affect a much larger proportion of molecules a lot more rapidly than visible light (ie cause damage). Too much of them and it's not likely there will be anything around to have eyes at all. Too little and it's not worth evolving the ability to sense that portion of the spectrum.

Frequencies that are significantly lower (mid infrared and below) are sufficiently un-energetic that they are hard to sense, let alone image accurately.

We also know that there are a lot of stars out there putting out light in the visible spectrum. Plenty in the non-visible spectra too, but the above reasons make that less desirable.

However, I agree that wasted light is likely to be a brief phase for technology reasons.

BioWare Baldur's Gate


You're all buffleheaded.

Provider: Anti-piracy ruling has 'killed Usenet'


Technically easy

On a purely technical level this is simple. Carry usenet, don't carry usenet binaries. This is easy to automatically identify.

On a practical level it won't change anything (too many other distribution channels and there always will be), and on a moral level it would take a very good argument to persuade me this is the right approach, but technically no problem.

Samsung shows second second-gen 7in Galaxy Tab

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No Apple rip-offery detected

Oh come off it. Apple don't even MAKE a 7" tablet, despite it being an absolutely perfect size for a tablet. It's far from a ripoff, it's a downright superior form factor with much better ergonomics.

I have a 7" Galaxy Tab classic and I get a lot of comments along the lines of "wow, it's like an ipad but it's small enough that you're actually carrying it - my ipad never leaves the sofa, I should have got one of those instead!". I'm glad to see Samsung think that the 7" size is worth keeping going; when mine dies or becomes hopelessly obsolete, it will get replaced with something the same size (assuming Apple haven't succeeded in banning every tablet under the sun by then).

Don't bother with that degree, say IT pros


IT != computer science

Most "IT" degrees don't seem to be very useful. They add a lot of noise to the signal here - Yet Another Java Course often just indicates that someone was told that an IT qualification would automagically lead to a good career (poor naive sod).

A Computer Science degree should (SHOULD) be different. It's not about how to code, it's about how to think, devise algorithms, understand the business of abstraction. There are plenty of non-degreed coders who are very good at wrangling giant masses of braces and semicolons but shy away from (or just fail at) anything that looks like maths or devising new abstract algorithms to tackle new problems. There are plenty of CS degreed types who know the theory but can't code, but plenty more who can do both (if only a majority of code was written by these people!)

So the survey isn't really measuring anything useful (surprise surprise)

People with no degree who have taught themselves BOTH sides are like gold dust, but there are just not many around and they're not always easy to identify. (Plus there's no guarantee that these remarkable talents correlate with other abilities that make someone successful in the workplace, useful on a project, or a bearable colleague.)

Spotify tethers future to Facebook


Good grief.

Something has gone seriously wrong when Sony starts looking like the less evil choice.

Arduino to add ARM board this year


Wrong standard of comparison

This isn't like a desktop computer or even a smartphone/tablet - it's more like the embedded controllers in mp3 players, stereos, washing machines... this is a high frequency by the standards of these things; many run at 16MHz (including current Arduinos) or 20MHz. They are generally used to interface with physical hardware and sensors, which simply aren't feeding data fast enough to keep a gigahertz processor busy.

In any case, once you start working at high frequencies, circuit design gets rather trickier. These things are designed for enthusasts to plug into breadboarded prototypes, which are not designed for high frequency signals. They also need to be able to tolerate input voltages much higher than delicate high-speed computer processors.

Motorola Atrix Lapdock



I remember being quite disappointed when the Foleo didn't make it to market (presumably I was the only one). It seems a very long time ago now.


Maybe it is deja vu? it sounds like it

Oh my... it's a Palm Foleo!

Tricky Xbox 360 hack claimed to work 1 try in 4


Cheer up mate

Given how much of this is closer to electronic engineering than computer science, I don't think you're being fair on yourself there!

I'm astonished by how smart some of these guys are, though.

Apple delays 'retina display' iPad 3 to 2012


Never mind the iPad

...when can I have a 9.7", 2048x1536 laptop?

LOHAN team buried under ballockets

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Nice work

The piston launcher is intriguing - and this sounds like a great plan to sort out the problem of getting to a stable flight condition.

Also sounds like very impressive building on the truss front.... I'm looking forward to pictures!

Reg readers ponder LOHAN's substantial globes


Happy with the laws of Newton, it's the laws of Sod I'm worried about

The rail exerts a force on the rocket to keep it on a curved path.

Maybe I've got my sines and cosines the wrong way 'round, but it seems to me that the larger part (cos @ less than quarter pi) of the opposing force exerted on the rail (on an axis through the wheel hub) pulls down against the balloon, and the smaller part (sine @ less than quarter pi) will tend to generate a moment that will rotate the (top-anchored) wheel in the direction of launch (as if the rocket were "dragging the rail around with it", although this is a separate force from the friction term, which I'm hoping I can keep nice and low)... this moves the wheel centre away from a vertical line through the anchor point, so its weight (and the cos part of the force) partly counteracts this moment.

The actual launch angle will be slightly higher than the set angle.

On a balloon, laterally there's not a lot of force if the thrust is nice and symmetric; there is no crosswind (we're drifting at jolly close to wind speed). On a ground level test the wheel definitely needs anchoring against crosswinds rotating it about the vertical axis, but I don't think this would invalidate the test results.

It's quite probably not right for LOHAN but I'm confident enough in my analysis to try it on a smaller scale (admittedly standing behind a wall)


More engine must be better

as the title says.

Just as long as it only lights that big M when pointed upwards...


I'd better do the sums again

It will certainly drag the rail a bit... but unmanageably? As you're only using the bottom part of the arc, most of the force is in the vertical plane and pulls against the balloon (which can stand it); the remainder will try to turn the wheel about its axis but it's a comparatively small force and hasn't long to do it in.

Hmm, I must test this! For science!


Apogee WOULD be impressive

I have something very similar. It's easy when you're not accelerating, hard when you are... but when simply swinging gently under slow movement it's not so bad.


Easier than you think

Hang on a moment. We're talking about a trigger used before flight here, not something that will move control surfaces.

Not that there are not loads of people doing the latter now - google ardupilot. One of the great miracles of the modern age is that these things are not only cheap, they are very easy to use.


Arc shaped launch rail

How about

One big giant balloon.

Suspend a big hoop below it, hanging vertically, with a few threads of fishing line like bicycle wheel spokes to keep it circular.

Fit launch rail from the bottom of the hoop curving up one side 'til it reaches the desired angle, then sticking off for a little bit (the last bit will need a rigid brace)

Rocketplane sits at the bottom, no need for any kind of counterweight. Light the motors and it accelerates along a curved path along the rail to the right angle, missing the balloon, then flies off at a tangent to the circle on the intended path.

Shouldn't weigh as much as a long rigid pole with a counterweight (oo-err?) as it's smaller and shouldn't need to be too hefty to be rigid enough (as it's efficiently braced)

Also means you have a bit of speed before being totally untethered so aerodynamic stability will work better.


Or an accelerometer

Better yet, tiny accelerometers are quite cheap now and can detect what direction "down" is quite reliably (this is how phones/tablets determine orientation flips).

Not so great if the plane is swinging, or once you light the engine, but neither is the mercury switch - and it is easier to detect swinging from an accelerometer than it is from the mercury. Plus, we can easily log a peak acceleration figure :-D

LOHAN spaceplane project starting to shape up nicely


As the icon says: proceed with this nonsense at flank speed!

Your design is definitely not as unstable as the classic pendulum rockets - the wings, and consequently having the centre of mass ahead of the centre of aerodynamic pressure (I doubt you could avoid that with this design even if you wanted to!) will make this stable once it gets going - so it might well be OK. The start is the tricky bit, combining low speed with thin air... I'm not sure I'm qualified to predict what would happen there but it sounds like a job for very conservative design if ever I heard one.

Steering the whole engine unit, though, sounds problematic to me - will moving the entire engine mass relative to the entire fuselage mass be able to respond fast enough? Isn't this why big rockets usually rotate small subsidiary thrusters rather than the main engine?

I'm really looking forward to this... whatever happens I'm sure it will be fun to watch!


And or Or?

Isn't it only if you're going over 1,000 knots, too? The statement in that document is "AND".

Wouldn't be surprised if many chipsets use an "OR" limitation though, and the altitude information on civilian GPS does not work too well up there.

Time to start packing gyros, accelerometers, barometers, and compasses?



And are you absolutely certain that nose-mounted rockets aren't the old http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pendulum_rocket_fallacy in a new form?

Heat sink breakthrough threatens ventblockers


Physics are fine - what about mass production?

Tolerances on that air gap are very tight, considering it separates two substantial masses - this seems to rely on a degree of precision manufacturing not widespread in consumer devices. Get that even a bit wrong, or just have too high a variation, and these will be difficult to trust.

It gets even harder when you scale it up to bigger things like air conditioners.

UK PC sales plunged in Q1


This time blame the retailers

And the fact that major retailers are still pushing the same outdated tat, or have cut back their ranges while waiting for them to get refreshed, has nothing to do with this at all?

Naked at 30: Osborne 1 stripped to its chips


Definitely worth trying to fix

Absolutely right about the solder joint; but from my very limited experience of iffy CRTs, the next things to check are resistors and capacitors - all cheap, thank goodness! - before you need to start worrying about anything complex or difficult.

Just make damn sure the caps are empty before you start work.


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