* Posts by ChrisC

470 posts • joined 2 Jul 2009

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Hubble 'scope camera breaks down amid US govt shutdown, forcing boffins to fix it for free

ChrisC

Sure it can wait. IF it's a problem which could never have been resolved remotely, OR if it's one which can be remotely resolved with no time limit on how long the system can remain in the problem state before the repair attempt is begun.

Now, what about option 3 - a remotely resolvable problem which DOES have a time limit on starting the repair, and which if left unfixed when that limit expires will then transform itself into a non remotely resolvable problem?

Support whizz 'fixes' screeching laptop with a single click... by closing 'malware-y' browser tab

ChrisC

Well, if it had simply stopped working due to dead batteries again, even though they'd only been changed a few months later (and by "few" I'm assuming a value small enough to be less than a years-worth), then it's not unreasonable to assume *something* is broken... The Logitech wireless mice I use have such an aversion to using power that their batteries easily last a few *years*, so if one of those suddenly started chewing through a fresh set of batteries in just a few months then I'd definitely be wondering what the fault was beyond the batteries simply being flat.

Influential Valley gadfly and Intel 8051 architect John Wharton has died

ChrisC

Re: Intel Dev system

Ah good old Satchwells, I cut my teeth in the world of commercial embedded systems engineering there 20 years ago, just after it'd become part of the almighty Invensys corporate empire, moving on a few years later when the US-centric beancounters decided that having R&D teams across the globe was a really silly idea and wouldn't it just marvellous if everything could be consolidated in one location, like, say, the US...

Keeping on topic for this article, one of the last bits of work I did there was writing some code modules for the last iteration of their 8051-based Micronet controller series. Fortunately for my sanity, that's the last time I've had to go anywhere near that architecture whilst wearing my R&D hat - these days it's only the occasional venture into PIC territory that reminds me how lucky I am to have spent most of my career working on processors which behave the way processors ought to behave.

Apple replaces boot-loop watchOS edition with unconnected complications edition

ChrisC

Re: A very Apple like bug

"For things like memory, the factory will be buying whichever memory chips happen to be the cheapest at that given moment. Same for passive components, etc. "

If the factory really is doing that, then the purchasing department needs to be shown the door... In a properly run manufacturing setup, you'll have a very carefully controlled list of approved parts which can be used, and which R&D have validated against all critical parameters. Purchasing is then free to replenish raw stock using whichever is the cheapest/easiest to obtain approved part, but any deviation from the approved list should always require R&D authorisation. No ifs, no buts, no "oh, but it's just a resistor, we didn't think it'd make a difference".

Premiere Pro bug ate my videos! Bloke sues Adobe after greedy 'clean cache' wipes files

ChrisC

Re: Biz math

"so unless your disks all fail truly at once"

Which can happen - can't remember if it was the Seagate SD1A firmware issue or another one, but someone managed to release a drive firmware that would brick the drive once it reached a certain number of power cycles, which is exactly the sort of fault you really don't want to have in a collection of drives being used in a RAID array given the very very high likelihood that all of their power-on counters will be incrementing in perfect synchronisation...

In industries where fault-tolerance is paramount (aerospace etc.), having multiple redundant components isn't sufficient, you also need to have multiple suppliers of said components, to avoid problems like the one described above from taking out your entire redundant system in one swell foop.

Russian computer failure on ISS is nothing to worry about – they're just going to turn it off and on again

ChrisC

Re: Could be worse

"Dave, you're back! Where have you been?"

Outside, waiting for the pod bay doors to open?

Memo to Microsoft: Windows 10 is broken, and the fixes can't wait

ChrisC

The 4th urgent change I'd add to the list...

Give SatNad his marching orders.

Hubble 'scope gyro drama: Hey, NASA, have you tried turning it off and on again? Oh, you did. And it worked? Cool

ChrisC
Coat

"Well then why don't they use the magnetotorquers themselves to control the attitude? Because the force is very very small, and can't be used for quick pointing maneuvers in something as large as HST. "Going to the next star" would take weeks."

Oh, that's a shame, not being able to tell Hubble to "use the force, look"...

Bloodhound Super-Sonic-Car lacks Super-Sonic-Cashflow

ChrisC
Flame

Re: What this project has really done...

""Toys for boys" projects like ISS or Apollo where you tell kids that only test pilots can do science"

Seriously? SERIOUSLY?!?

Who, exactly, do you think is responsible for actually doing pretty much all of the science in projects like these? Clue, it's not the meatbag at the pointy end of the big loud fast moving thing. Now, before anyone accuses me of belittling the involvement the ISS/Apollo astronauts, the fast jet test pilot etc. have in such projects during the development phases, or how much genuine scientific work they do once the project, I'm not - I realise they've pretty much all got STEM degrees, doctorates etc. and are bloody capable people even before you add in their additional talents for flying etc. But suggesting that they're the only people who can "do science" in such a project is so utterly and ludicrously far from the truth. Or do you really think a Saturn V or ISS or F-35 or Bloodhound or whatever just magically appears out of an anonymous warehouse somewhere all ready to go without anyone needing to lift a finger to design, build, test, redesign, retest etc. etc it?

Don't even get me started on the equally idiotic implication that it's only men who can do whizz-bang stuff like being test pilots, astronauts etc...

It's bad enough that we struggle to recruit good quality STEM-trained people to work in the UK (and yes, there are plenty of employers out there involved in STEM work and only too keen to take on new people, despite all the comments thrown around by the ill-informed about the death of British industry), but reading through all of the negative comments here I guess it should really come as no surprise - whyever would any youngster want to dedicate their live to a STEM career when surrounded by so much naysaying and pessimism and whatsthepointism?

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

ChrisC

Re: On the third day of Windows Microsoft gave to me:

""Mince pies sighted in the local Co-op about the same time."

With an expiry date long before Xmas Day :-)"

All the more reason to eat them... In my world, there would never be a time of the year too early for eating mince pies.

UK space comes to an 'understanding' with Australia as Brexit looms

ChrisC

Re: Poppycock

Quite, though elsewhere that I've seen this comment made it's tended to be worded more like "only country to have developed and then abandoned orbital launch capabilities", which then avoids any nitpicking over whether an orbital launch *system* refers just to the actual launch vehicle itself or to the whole orbital launch infrastructure.

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

ChrisC

Or just as bad, laptop keyboards with the dual-role function keys, where the default action for pressing the key is the alternate role (decrease brightness, switch wifi on etc.) rather than the Fn keypress my muscle memory is expecting...

Rookie almost wipes customer's entire inventory – unbeknownst to sysadmin

ChrisC

Re: @big_D

"they filled the empty holes with solder to make it harder"

Whilst that may have been the outcome, I doubt it was the intention. For through-hole PCBs which are being wave soldered, the only reliable way to prevent empty holes from being bridged by solder is to temporarily cover them with kapton tape or similar. As this is an additional manufacturing operation which costs both time and materials, and thus ultimately money, it's the sort of thing which tends to be done *only* if those empty holes need to still be empty after the wave soldering has been completed - e.g. to allow components to be fitted to the underside of the PCB.

Attempt to clean up tech area has shocking effect on kit

ChrisC

Re: Typing Cleaners

I now have my keyboard and mouse hooked into the USB hub on one of the monitors for a similar reason - if I need to leave the PC running whilst I'm away, switching off said monitor then disables keyboard and mouse, so that when I return I'm not faced with random things having happened thanks to one or other of our cats deciding to walk over or sleep on the keyboard and mouse pad...

...also ended up having to change the setup of my laptop power button after recently discovering that our latest feline addition a) is *really* interested in walking all over it as I'm trying to get some work done and b) can apply just enough pressure from a well-placed paw to depress the button far enough to activate it.

2-bit punks' weak 40-bit crypto didn't help Tesla keyless fobs one bit

ChrisC

Re: Problem-solution dichotomy

"It gets me that the VERY NEXT ACTION you take is to touch the door."

Is it?

1. remotely unlock car

2. lock front door of house

3. walk down driveway to car that the wife and kids are now already in

4. open drivers door of car

In this all too common scenario I count two distinct and non-trivial actions requiring a non-insignificant length of time to complete between unlocking the car and touching the car. Now sure, we could just remember to give the car keys to the wife, or we could let them deal with locking the front door, either of which would then allow the "very next action" scenario you're thinking about to occur, but back in the real world this is the routine that for one reason or another we've fallen into, and it works for us. It wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if other people have similar scenarios where being able to remotely unlock their car is a genuinely useful feature for them too.

In a similar vein, being able to remotely release the boot lid is a godsend when returning to the car with hand/armfuls of shopping, suitcases etc, which would make it impossible for you to use a physical key or bootlid release button on the boot itself without first putting stuff down.

Microsoft sharpens its claws to cut Outlook UI excess, snip Ribbon

ChrisC

"What we need is to create a new group of "User Interface Designer Trainers""

Or to give them their full job title - User Interface Designer Influencer, Overseer and Trainer, aka UIDIOT, which coincidentally is also what you'll probably find them saying quite a lot to their charges, just before applying the LART.

Connected car data handover headache: There's no quick fix... and it's NOT just Land Rovers

ChrisC

Re: BIG FAT RESET BUTTON

And when, as they will do, forget to enter/reset the PIN prior to sale?

ChrisC

Re: let's go back to the good old days... oh wait!

It certainly is worse than that if the persistent online tether between the car and the previous owner allows them to do stuff they wouldn't be able to do purely by retaining a set of physical keys, and by the sounds if it that's exactly what these online tethers do allow them to do. If I sold my car to you but quietly retained a set of keys for myself, what could I do once you'd driven off? Unless I knew where you lived, worked, shopped etc. and therefore could gain physical access to the car at some point in the future, having a set of physical keys for the car is useless.

OTOH, if I sold my car to you and retained access to the online app, then it wouldn't matter where on the planet you or I were. I obviously wouldn't be able to steal the car myself unless I was still in the same physical location (which, thanks to the tracking capabilities that might be present in the app, could be easy enough for me to arrange), but if I were to regularly exercise the remote unlocking feature of the app, then sooner or later there's a reasonable chance that the local pondlife would take advantage of your car being unsecured, and you'd be left wondering WTF had happened, so certain were you that you had locked the car before walking away from it...

Or if the remote app allowed me to start the engine, how much fuel could I waste by doing that at regular intervals? What if you lived somewhere that penalised people for leaving their engine running unecessarily - how many fines could I clock up on your behalf? Could even be a bit nasty for you if you happened to live in a townhouse above your garage, and it wasn't sealed/ventilated well enough to prevent exhaust fumes seeping into the living areas above from having the engine start up a few times in the middle of the night...

And it's certainly not true to say this is a problem for all key-based things such as houses - who in their right mind would buy a house and then NOT be straight down to the nearest DIY barn, locksmith etc to buy a full set of replacement locks?

Second-hand connected car data drama could be a GDPR minefield

ChrisC

Re: Almost as good as The Dartford Crossing....

I had this exact problem when I bought my last car, went to add it to my Dart Charge account only to have it rejected due to being assigned to another account - absolutely no way (just as it should be) to have the same registration assigned to multiple accounts. Contacted Dart who said it'd be no trouble to remove it from that account just as soon as I could send them a copy of the V5 in my name...

As I was planning to use the crossing a couple of days later, waiting for the DVLA to get their ducks in a row and send me out the new V5 wasn't exactly an option, so I was considering simply driving t'other way around the M25 to get into Kent, when I then started having a look through the various bits of old service history paperwork that'd been left in the car. A-HA! Garage receipt from a few months prior to the car having been sold, complete with mobile phone number of the previous owner. One quick text later and the car had been removed from their Dart account and I could add it to mine without any further hassle.

ZX Spectrum Vega+ blows a FUSE: It runs open-source emulator

ChrisC

What's in a name...

"the Vega+ is the flagship product of Retro Computers Ltd"

If only someone in RCL had done a spot of historical research into early 1600's Sweden, they'd have known that giving their flagship a 4 letter name starting with V and ending in A might not turn out too well for them... Vasa, Vega, let's call the whole thing off.

Brit comms providers told: You must tell people when their cheap contract's about to end

ChrisC

Re: Not on the best deal

"My gripe with the various organisations saying the public could save £X million a year by swapping to the cheapest provider misses the important point that I may not want to be with the cheapest provider."

This is a valid point when considering the independent organisations set up to help people compare and switch to deals across different providers, but I don't think that's what's being talked about here - this sounds more like requiring comms providers to do much the same thing that energy companies do, and let their customers know if, at the end of their current contract, they'd be able to save money *with that same provider* by switching to a different contract.

So e.g. for a phone company, if you'd taken out a standard phone+airtime contract, the provider would then be obliged to let you know at the end of that contract what the cheapest option would be for you to remain with that provider without any changes to your existing service - i.e. keeping the same phone as you've now just finished paying for, what would be the cheapest deal which would still give you at least the same talk/data allowances as you're currently receiving.

If, like the energy companies, the comms providers also had to add in a note along the lines of "better deals may be available from other providers", then fair enough, but it'd then be up to the customer to go investigate these other providers - this initial notice to let you know you were paying above the odds wouldn't explicitly recommend switching to anything other than another deal with the same provider.

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

ChrisC

All recent-ish Jaguars (so I'm presuming the same is true for the LR side of the business) use the touchscreen to control valet mode, rather than having a seperate valet-mode key. You do have to then remember to take the emergency keyblade out of your fob before giving it to the valet though, otherwise resetting the car back to normal mode is trivially easy...

Declassified files reveal how pre-WW2 Brits smashed Russian crypto

ChrisC

Re: So kids, sometimes recycling is *bad*

"Nonsense. All bits may be recycled. You just need to reuse them in random order."

OK, hands up who else finds it impossible to read this without it sounding exactly like Eric Morecambe?

The Notch contagion is spreading slower than phone experts thought

ChrisC

Re: Charge by wire

"I've never had a USB port fail - its always the plug that fails by design. I dunno what you're doing with your phones..."

Depends how old the phone is - IIRC in the days of mini-USB it was the socket that tended to fail, which was one of the reasons why micro-USB was redesigned to make the plug the weak point.

Also, micro-USB sockets, like any other uncovered recess on a device which spends significant amounts of time stuffed into a pocket, are far from immune to ending up getting themselves well and truly clogged solid with compacted crud. Again, this might not be a problem if you're in the habit of getting a new phone every year or two, but if you do find yourself hanging onto a phone for longer than this then there's a good chance the build-up of crud will start to reach critical levels, preventing the plug from mating cleanly with the socket.

Annoyingly, unlike lightning sockets where I first encountered this problem, micro-USB sockets are bloody difficult to clean out properly due to the contacts being on that central finger rather than arranged around the edges of the socket - you need a rather thin crud-hoiking-out tool to squeeze past this without causing it to bend alarmingly off to the side, but said tool still needs to be sturdy enough to then be able to make a dent in the layer of crud.

And of course, even if the socket and plug combo is designed so that the socket never clogs up, and the plug always wears out first, the socket is still soldered onto the PCB inside the phone, and will almost always only be held in place by those solder joints - you might get some assistance from the way the phone case wraps around the socket body, but every time you ram a plug into the socket, or yank a plug back out of the socket, you're stressing those joints, and sooner or later they're going to give way. If you're lucky they'll do so in a way which means you can still use the socket so long as the cable is held at just the right angle to push the broken joint back together, but if the break is bad enough then it's a case open repair job...

By gum, that's chewy: Samsung's NF1 fattens M.2 card capacity with wider gumstick format

ChrisC

"So what does this bring, other than an extra half millimetre?"

When you're trying to squeeze as much as possible onto a PCB, even a fraction of a mm of extra space in the right place can make the difference between your design being achievable within all your current design rules, or only being achievable if you decide to recertify your manufacturing processes to handle the new rules you'd need to bring in, or potentially not being achieveable at all because your current design rules already push your processes to their physical limits.

Or it might alternatively just be Samsung wanting to make a bit of a splash by driving a new form factor through the standards committee, rather than just quietly adopting an existing standard and getting on with the job without any fuss...

User spent 20 minutes trying to move mouse cursor, without success

ChrisC

Re: Training the trainer

"English language O-level, we had a "teacher" who was borderline-illiterate"

My GCSE IT teacher knew barely enough about computers (and bearing in mind we're talking about BBC micros here, so nothing terribly complex to deal with) to cope with the practical sessions during our course, and wasn't all that much better on the theoretical side of things either. When you're having to explain to your teacher how to load something from floppy disc, it sets the bar pretty low in terms of what you expect them to be able to teach you in return.

That I still ended up getting an A grade (back in the days before all these newfangled starred grades came along to confuddle matters somewhat) says as much about how relatively easy most GCSE subjects were as it does about how much I already knew about the subject...

ChrisC

Re: Sun optical mice, circa 1985

"Put me right off optical mice for many years"

My experience of the early/mid 90's era optical mice on the Sun workstations at uni had a similar effect on me - couldn't believe just how utterly crap they were compared with even a somewhat gunked-up mechanical mouse, let alone one that was maintained properly, at generating smooth pointer motion, nor just how dead they felt as you moved them across the mousepad. The only mice I hated even more than those were the ergonomic disasters that HP provided with their Unix workstations.

Modern optical mice have at least got the motion accuracy thing sorted, but I do still occasionally find myself missing the subtle tactile clues you used to get from a mechanical mouse as it moved around.

First A380 flown in anger to be broken up for parts

ChrisC

3-4-3 is the most common seat configuration used on 777, 3-3-3 is a rarity."

Ah, I guess things now have changed for the worse here since I was last winging around the globe on triple sevens - it's now been a couple of years since my last such flight, but back then 3-3-3 still seemed to be the norm for the carriers I was using or potentially could have been using.

ChrisC

Number6, remember that in the article, the capacity comment was made in the specific context of landing slot availability:

"Boeing will soon just-about-match its capacity with the 777x, challenging the A380’s selling point as the ideal plane for super-busy airports where landing slots are scarce."

i.e. passengers per *airframe*, not per *engine*...

ChrisC

"Boeing will soon just-about-match its capacity with the 777x"

I'm not sure it will, if you're comparing like for like at least. From what I've read, the proposed capacity increases for the 777 are in a small part down to the fuselage stretch, but in a large part down to the assumption that cattle class will be configured in 3-4-3 form rather than the 3-3-3 typically seen on current 777s. And if you're an A380 operator with similarly little regard for the comfort levels of your cattle class passengers, then a reconfigured 380 will "comfortably" exceed the capacity of even the most densely packed 777...

So it's all well and good Boeing and its fans promoting these larger 777 variants as "jumbo killers", but as long as this claim is based solely on the number of passengers being carried without any reference to the relative levels of comfort said passengers will be provided with, then it's a rather dubious claim to be making. In its current forms, I actually really like the 777 as a longhaul airliner, but I can't say I'd be quite so enthusiastic about getting onboard one that featured a higher density seating plan unless it was for just a short hop of up to 2-3 hours at most (or unless I was flying something other than cattle class).

Sysadmin's PC-scrub script gave machines a virus, not a wash

ChrisC

Re: a Mac SE FDHD installed as a gate guardian

"DOS - 720K, RISC OS 800K

DOS - 1.44MB, RISC OS 1.6MB"

I see your Archie values and raise you the 880KB / 1.76MB of an Amiga ;-)

Advanced VPNFilter malware menacing routers worldwide

ChrisC

Re: WTF kind of advice is that for our average person?!

"FFS! What terrible advice! If I do a full reset on my NAS box..."

Is that the advice given by Talos though? Whilst they're saying that this problem affects both routers and NASs, their advice to perform a full reset seems to be aimed *only* at routers.

The future of radio may well be digital, but it won't survive on DAB

ChrisC

Re: DAB is the only thing that works reliably here

"BTW, El Reg: "FM already uses MPEG audio" (I paraphrase for brevity). WTF??"

Mmm, it took me several parses of that paragraph before I think I figured out that what the author was trying to say is that choosing to use an established technology (DAB's adoption of MPEG audio) isn't necessarily a bad thing, with FM radio then being mentioned as an example of something (specifically something relevant to the context of the article) still in use today which also uses a long-established technology.

So for "There's nothing intrinsically wrong with that – FM has used the same technology for decades, after all.", try re-reading it as "There's nothing intrinsically wrong with that – the technology used for FM radio has remained unchanged for decades, after all."

Brit ISPs get their marker pens out: Speed advertising's about to change

ChrisC

Re: It's no good BT complaining 'WiFi'

The point here is that, if the customers own equipment is more of a bottleneck than the external connection provided by the ISP, then any evaluation of the actual speeds provided by the ISP really ought to be done at the point where the ISP connection terminates at the customer premises, because from that point on it's out of their control.

And it's not just WiFi connections that can skew the results if measured on a LAN-connected device, even a wired connection can be an unexpected bottleneck if the router you're using isn't up to the job - my old one had gigabit-capable LAN and WAN ports, but the LAN-WAN bridge part of the hardware was limited to around 150-160Mbps, which I only discovered after my VM connection was upgraded from 100 to 200Mbps...

ChrisC

Re: WiFi

"If we had 1Gb FTTP, if most people were using entirely WiFi then would there be much point?"

Depends how many devices you've got all individually requesting WiFi-sized chunks of your external bandwidth...

Blighty's super-duper F-35B fighter jets are due to arrive in a few weeks

ChrisC

Re: "Starved of hydro-electric power

"and others of the Road Research Laboratory were equally involved in its development"

Indeed, the RRL were heavily involved in much of the fundamental concept of how effective a bomb would be against a structure if detonated in water next to/up against said structure. One of my former employers was based on the BRE site in Watford, and my jaw quite literally dropped the day I discovered the Moehne dam model nestling in the wooded area next to our building... the footpath running along side it became a regular part of my lunchtime walking route from then on!

I guess the reason Barnes Wallis gets so much of the attention is that, ultimately, he was the person in the right place at the right time to have that initial spark of an idea, combined with the ability (and the assistance of a sizeable team of other equally talented people) to see it through to a finished product. So whilst he wasn't solely responsible for *developing* the bomb, it's not entirely unreasonable to refer to it as having been his *invention*.

ChrisC

Re: why didnt they..

IIRC from the Paul Brickhill book where the reasons for designing the bomb the way it was were covered in some detail, much of the destructive capability of the Upkeep bomb was due to it exploding whilst in direct contact against the dam wall and also surrounded by water - this caused most of the energy from the explosion to be directed towards the dam, rather than spreading out in all directions, allowing it to be considerably smaller and lighter than would have needed to be the case if you wanted to achieve the same results by dropping a bomb onto the landside of the dam wall.

I got 257 problems, and they're all open source: Report shines light on Wild West of software

ChrisC

Not really sure how much of the blame for this can be laid fairly at the feet of open source though - failing to apply security patches, failing to change default passwords, failing to adhere to the correct licencing requirements and suchlike aren't problems unique to the OSS world, and as the closing comment in the article quite rightly indicates, developers need to know what they're doing.

OnePlus smartmobe brand modelled on 'a religion', founder admits

ChrisC

Re: Nice phone but...

Aren't you forgetting that each brand (be it a phone, car etc. manufacturer) typically has its own in-house design style/language which is applied across several versions of its product, and the result of this can be that two essentially identical things (phones, cars etc.) can end up feeling significantly different to use purely because of how those manufacturer-specific design elements fit in with your personal outlook on what said thing ought to look/behave like...

There are some cars I would never buy purely because I don't like how the controls are arranged, even though essentially they're exactly the same cars (engine size, load carrying capabilities etc.) as the ones I would buy, and that's before you start getting into purely trivial stuff like whether you think the car looks nice or not (and yes, shallow as it may sound, there are some cars I'd never buy on that point alone, no matter how close to perfection their interior layout might be).

Same with phones - having spent my entire smartphone-owning life using phones designed by (if not always badged as) HTC, I now find myself struggling to accept how any other type of phone looks or feels in use unless it's so close to how HTC do it that it doesn't matter. Every time my wife or one of the kids asks me to sort out something on their variety of Samsung phones, the difference in how the softkeys are arranged (HTC puts back on the left, Samsung puts it on the right) causes me no end of problems due to my now deeply ingrained muscle memory for where I expect those controls to be, and that's before you then get into all the other tweaks they choose to apply to the stock Android experience - config settings being located in different places, some settings only being available on one or the other phone but not both etc.

Fixing a printer ended with a dozen fire engines in the car park

ChrisC

Re: Had the fire brigade called to a five star hotel, in Malta....

"we used to put slices of gherkin in the microwaves and get them to spark"

Speaking as a fully paid up member of the Gherkin-less Burger Appreciation Society, I applaud your efforts in helping to rid the world of those vile green slices of pure culinary evil!

Shining lasers at planes in the UK could now get you up to 5 years in jail

ChrisC

Re: I'm confused... like Paris...

Depends how high/fast the aircraft is, and what their path is relative to your position. Also remember that the human eye only requires an incredibly short exposure to laser light to be affected temporarily or permanently, so even just randomly waving a laser pointer around the sky will, sooner or later, bag you a strike on a cockpit window, and even if it only lasts a fraction of a second it's enough.

And whilst pilot dazzle gets the big headlines here, let's not forget that the law also applies to idiots who think it's "just a bit of a laff, innit" to shine lasers at people in control of other types of vehicle as well - we just tend not to hear so much about the problems of car/bus/HGV/train etc. drivers being targetted by laser-wielding pondlife in the same way as when it happens to aircrew, but make no mistake, it does happen...

Wanted that Windows 10 update but have an Intel SSD? Computer says no

ChrisC

Re: Looks like we have an MS fanboy

Naah, whilst I may not have have much admiration for Gates or Ballmer back in the day, I get the feeling they were far more in tune with what the OS meant to PC users than SatNad will ever hope to be, and that they'd be feeling a bit narked at how much damage is now being done to the reputation of Windows, so would find it hard to justify downvoting comments like these. SatNad OTOH, yes, I can all too easily imagine him sat quietly in his office, seething with rage at the thoughts of so many people completely failing to get onboard with his masterplan for Windows, clicking away on the downvote buttons every chance he gets...

When I now find myself looking back on the Gates/Ballmer era I realise just how good we had it back then in comparison to today, and how good, relatively speaking compared with SatNad, they were to us as end users of their products. Windows was still something of an unholy mess, but at least when stuff got changed it largely seemed to be for the right reasons, and there was still a sense that MS under their leadership understood that the OS wasn't really something to be tinkered with on a whim.

I find it really difficult to believe that SatNad has that same level of comprehension, therefore can't get why so many of us feel rightly miffed every time the sodding W10 update screen pops up and our hearts sink as we wonder what new mysteries await us once the update process has ended, and therefore has no compulsion to start steering Windows onto a different course to the one it's on right now, headed straight for the largest, most jagged hull-plate ripping, pile of rocks in existence, from where the only way is down...

Time to ditch the front door key? Nest's new wireless smart lock is surprisingly convenient

ChrisC

"locks that need replacing. why do they need replacing? because they failed?"

Umm, yes. Why would you expect a mechanical device which is left exposed to the elements and is almost certainly never given any sort of maintenance, not to fail at some point?

And then there's the rather healthy business of selling new locks to people who've just moved house and would prefer not to trust that all copies of the existing keys are now in their hands, people who've extended their homes and now have new exterior doors in need of securing, people who've lost a door key somewhere and would prefer not to hope that it's either never ever found or is only ever found by someone sufficiently trustworthy to not do anything dodgy with it, people who're replacing older less secure locks with newer ones...

No, can't think of any good reasons why lock companies manage to stay in business, guess they must all be up to no good eh.

They forked this one up: Microsoft modifies open-source code, blows hole in Windows Defender

ChrisC
FAIL

Re: All code is written by offshore idiots to the lowest price

"This shitty code is in your medical devices, cars, industrial systems, phones and most devices in your homes."

Cobblers. Embedded systems (i.e. pretty much everything you're talking about here) programming is a world apart from desktop/cloud programming - when you know you can't always push out bugfixes to all your existing customers simply by sticking a new binary onto an update server, you do tend to spend far more time making sure the code you do send out the door is as bug free as you can possibly make it.

"But hey - psychopaths are running the companies that make this stuff"

No, they really aren't. At least not on the planet the rest of us are living on. Maybe on your world (you know, the one where your post might actually make any sense) things are different...

What's silent but violent and costs $250m? Yes, it's Lockheed Martin's super-quiet, supersonic X-plane for NASA

ChrisC

Re: Even if it comes to pass..

"I never got to fly it, to my lasting regret."

You didn't miss out on much. Aside from experiencing the relentless shove in the back as it accelerated along the runway. And feeling as if you were lying flat on your back as it climbed skywards, still accelerating like nothing else the civil aviation world has given us. And seeing the mach indicator tick over to 2.00 whilst gliding along so smoothly it felt unreal. And looking at a deeper darker blue sky than I've ever seen out of an airliner window (aside from whilst playing with the LCD window shades on a Dreamliner). And being plied with more champagne in the course of 90 minutes than I've ever drunk in the rest of my near 45 years on this planet...

...sorry, this probably isn't helping. To redress the balance, I should point out that the cabin was rather cramped, the inflight entertainment system was a pile of tosh, and... umm... no, sorry, I cannot lie. It was truly one of the most memorable experiences of my entire life, right up there with watching a shuttle launch, getting married and seeing my kids being born.

ChrisC

Re: SIG!

"What, by fitting rubber mats as spall liners inside the tanks like British Airways did, even though it added a significant amount of weight and therefore increased fuels costs? Apparently a few BA Concordes suffered wing strikes but the liners did their jobs and the aircraft survived. Unlike Air France who decided the bottom line was more important."

Umm, are you quite sure you've got your timelines the right way around here? BA fitted tank liners as a direct response to the AF crash.

"Not quite sure which part of Arabia was crossed when flying across the Atlantic between Heathrow, Charles de Gaulle and John F Kennedy airports though..."

Probably that bit of Arabia either crossed whilst flying into Bahrain, or whilst transiting through the area en route to Singapore... The history of Concorde operations is far more interesting than it merely being a rather fast transatlantic business shuttle.

User fired IT support company for a 'typo' that was actually a real word

ChrisC

Re: Away in a manager

"It's Friday, so I'll bite. Vi, always vi."

Ah, the joy of six...

User asked why CTRL-ALT-DEL restarted PC instead of opening apps

ChrisC

Re: Feeling Old...

"we used to have to buy a card specifically to get sound out of a computer"

Depending on how far back you want to go, you can also add to that:

"having to buy a card specifically to hook up a hard drive"

"having to buy a card specifically to hook up a CD-ROM drive"

"having to buy a card specifically to hook up a joystick"

etc. etc.

And then having bought all those cards and worked up a sweat getting them all physically installed OK (how I never snapped a motherboard in half whilst trying to get some of the larger ISA cards seated properly in their slots I'll never know), you then had the hours of enjoyment figuring out exactly how to get them all configured in a way that manages, somehow, to avoid IRQ conflicts...

ChrisC

Re: Feeling Old...

"I still remember my local computer shop forcing anyone who wanted to buy Wing Commander II to rattle off their system specs before he would sell it to them, because so many folks returned it complaining it wouldn't run at any decent speed on a 286"

I remember something similar happening to me when I bought SimCity 2000 for the Amiga, and even on a high-end setup like a 4K/060 with gobs of RAM it was still only just about bearable, so the warnings were entirely justified.

I think it was only my desire to show some support for a publisher who was still willing to release Amiga titles at a time when many were getting out of the market that made me still buy the Amiga version rather than the Mac version to run under emulation (which would have then taken full advantage of the RTG card in my 4K, something the native Amiga version sadly couldn't do, hence the performance issues)...

Windows 10 to force you to use Edge, even if it isn't default browser

ChrisC

Re: Do the right thing

"It's with whom I live not who I live with"

Ah, so it was you I saw leaving my Aunt's house the other day...

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