* Posts by ChrisC

357 posts • joined 2 Jul 2009

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London City airport swaps control tower for digital cameras

ChrisC

Re: Extra redundancy would have meant windows

"They are landing planes..problaby with a 100ms lag...that is unacceptable."

Umm, you do realise that the controllers in the tower (real or virtual) don't actually *control* the aircraft, and if it gets to the point where having a fraction of a second of lag in the virtual view leads to an incident, then things had already gone pretty badly wrong some time ago...

Now, I'm not saying I don't have some reservations about this idea, however aircraft can and do land and take off quite safely without any assistance from the tower controllers, and there will already be procedures in place to cope with loss of comms with a locally situated tower. So if things were to go completely T.I.T.S.U.P. with the virtual tower then it might make for an interesting few minutes elsewhere in Swanwick as the area controllers shuffle stuff around to cope with the diversions away from City, but it isn't going to cause aircraft on final approach to suddenly drop out of the sky.

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Giant spawn hammer on Antarctica map. Thanks, Google Waze

ChrisC

"Others have also vandalised Antarctica in Waze, it appears"

Given the lack of real roads or motorists in that part of the world, it's a handy location for running tests on how the map editing tools and/or route calculations behave, so I suspect that most of what you think is vandalism down there is anything but.

The subject of this article OTOH... And from a level 4 editor too, who really ought to know better - wouldn't surprise me if their editing rights end up being a bit curtailed as a result of this.

0
1

NASA nixes Trump's moonshot plan

ChrisC

Re: What's the problem

In which case, he needs to have a chat with the occupants of 62 West Wallaby Street, as the whole design and test process for their successful cheesemoon landing and return to Earth was documented for posterity some years ago...

13
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Microsoft touts next Windows 10 Creators Update: It's set for a Fall

ChrisC

“I don't want anyone to think that the next version of Windows has a dramatic look and feel difference,” said Gallo.

Meh :-(

That said, right now I'd happily put up with the continued eye-gougingly bad UI if they'd at least let us control exactly when updates got installed and, more importantly, when the resultant reboot then occurred. It's now got to the point at work where I've had to leave one of my personal Win7 laptops permanently in the lab just so I've got access to a PC that I know won't decide to spontaneously restart itself overnight, at the weekend, or, from time to time even during the middle of the working day, and which therefore is suitable to use as part of a long-ish duration data capture test.

Someone drag me away from the keyboard before I get onto the hardware compatibility issues with some esoteric (and not so esoteric) development kit which was absolutely rock-solid on the same PC running Win7, but which either now doesn't work at all, or does so at a level of flakiness that risks it being reclassified as an item of chocolate-based confectionary and stuck into a big dollop of ice cream...

To then have MS rub salt into the wound by labelling these latest builds of 10 as "Creators Updates" is really taking the proverbial. For at least some people who use (or try to use) their Win10 PCs to create stuff, each update to the OS takes us ever further away from the point we'd like the OS to be, and where we quite happily would have remained if only corporate IT hadn't decreed that we all needed to switch over to 10 from whatever older but wonderfully reliable versions of Windows we happened to be using.

4
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Broadband providers almost double prices after deals end

ChrisC

Enjoy it whilst it lasts... in my experience over the last decade it seems like insurers are happy to dish out competitive renewal quotes for a couple of years, but then sooner or later will whack you with a quote that's so far out of the ballpark it should be taken as a clear sign that they really, genuinely, no longer want your business.

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Boeing 737 turns 50

ChrisC

Re: I always feel safer in Boeings than Airbus.

In the context of your reply to the earlier poster, then you're right - the A340 has yet to suffer a fatal accident. It isn't however accident-free...

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ChrisC

Re: The 737 will likely be operated for 100 years

Even more remarkable than the longevity of the 737 family is that of another Boeing creation, the B-52 Stratofortress. At present the USAF is still expecting to be flying these for another 20-odd years, which will not only take it up to near on 100 years since the maiden flight, but will also mean that the last flying examples will be around 80 years old by the time they retire - unlike the 737 story where its longevity is being helped along by newly built airframes, the last B-52 airframes were produced in the early 1960's...

4
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ChrisC

Re: I always feel safer in Boeings than Airbus.

If you think Airbus should be avoided due to their earliest design being unable to withstand abuse from the pilots, then presumably you also think Boeing should be avoided due to the 737 (yes, the darling of this very article) having had a rudder design flaw of its own which caused two of them (United 585 and USAir 427) to crash without the pilots needing to do anything, let alone anything like repeatedly mashing the rudder pedals back and forth for 20 seconds, which is actually quite a long period of time in this context.

As much as I admire Airbus for having achieved so much success as they have in the cut-throat airliner business, and for being a pan-European collaboration we (at least those of us on the right side of the pond) ought to generally be proud of, I also see much to admire in long and distinguished history of Boeing. They both make mistakes, but they also both produce some truly world-class pieces of aviation engineering that I personally am only too happy to trust my life to.

So whenever I then hear stuff like this, or the TL:DR "if it ain't Boeing I ain't going" variant, it makes me think the person saying it really doesn't have a clue what they're talking about.

13
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Microsoft's new hardware: eight x86 cores, 40 GPU cores

ChrisC

Re: Multiprocessing

"what are they good for?"

Cores, what are they good for, absolutely nothing...

...unless you're running a whole bunch of different things that can make use of all the available thread processing power at hand ;-)

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OK... Red wire or black... *Clickety* You've emailed the schematic? Yes, got it! It's opening. And... WHAT? NO!

ChrisC

Re: What is considered an acceptable bandwidth ?

"I can download a film 10x faster than it takes to watch it."

You might be happy watching stuff with an average encoded bitrate of 170Kbps, but some of us have slightly higher standards than that ;-)

In all seriousness though, who defines what "normal" requirements are? One person might only ever use t'internet for the occasional email or spot of online shopping, whereas another person might live their entire life online, taking full advantage of all the services available (streaming media, VOIP telephony/video calling, cloud storage/applications etc. etc). Both sets of user requirements may well be entirely "normal" from the perspective of anyone else who has a similar lifestyle to the users in question, but would seem completely abnormal to pretty much anyone else.

Full disclosure time: I've always been of the opinion that there's no such thing as a "fast enough" internet connection (*) - I switched from V.90 dialup to ADSL pretty much as soon as it became commercially available in the UK (and if it hadn't launched when it did, I was seriously considering getting a bonded ISDN connection instead), then switched to VM cable getting on for 12 years ago after moving house. My home connection is currently a VM 200Mb/12Mb link, and I'm awaiting further news of their 300Mbps rollout plans with eager anticipation... So from your perspective, I definitely don't have normal requirements, but from my perspective (and from that of many other people who live in highly-connected multi-user households and/or have jobs/hobbies which are made easier with a decent network connection) they seem quite normal.

(*) although if I could get a symmetric gigabit link to the outside world, I might concede that this would probably be good enough, for now at least...

4
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It's 30 years ago: IBM's final battle with reality

ChrisC

Re: Interesting times

I have fond memories of Warp too - back then I was doing some research work on robotic equations of motion, which had eventually evolved into a hideously complex Matlab script to do all the hard work for me. I'd just define the system geometry parameters at the start, click Go, twiddle my thumbs for an hour or so, and then get a complete set of optimised motion equations out the other end.

Unfortunately this was all being done in the Win3.1 version of Matlab, and as bad as the co-operative multitasking was in 3.1 generally, it was a shining beacon of excellence compared to how it behaved once Matlab started up - I'm pretty sure the Matlab devteam must have misread the Windows documentation and thought it featured "un-cooperative multitasking", because once you let Matlab loose on a script it was game over as far as being able to do anything else on that PC was concerned.

As a hardcore Amiga user at the time, I knew that multitasking didn't have to be this godawful, and I was convinced that the PC I had in front of me, which at the time had roughly twice the raw processing power of the fastest Amiga in my collection, really ought to be able to multitask at least as well as the slowest Amiga in my collection...

I can't recall how I stumbled upon OS/2 as the solution, all I do remember is that having learned of its existence and its claimed abilities to do stuff that Windows could only dream of doing, I dashed into town and bought my own copy of Warp, and once I got over the hurdle of getting it installed as a multi-boot setup with my existing fine-tuned DOS/Win3.1 setup (having expended god knows how many hours tweaking it to run all my games nicely - yes, even those that expected to have almost all of the base memory available, but still also needed to have CDROM *and* mouse drivers shoe-horned in there somewhere too - I didn't want to mess that up) I fired it up, installed Matlab, and tentatively clicked Go... Umm, is it running? This can't be right, the OS is still perfectly responsive, I can launch other Win3.1 applications without any signs of hesitation, and yet my Matlab script really does claim to be churning its way through its calculations about as quickly as it did hogging Win3.1 all to itself.

From that day on, Warp became my go-to OS for anything work-related until the day I finally ditched Win3.1 and made the switch to 95.

So yes, count me in as another one of those people who, despite the problems OS/2 had (I'll readily admit that it could be a bit flakey or just a bit obtuse when trying to get it to do what you wanted it to do) will still quite happily wax lyrical about just how bloody amazing it was in comparison to a DOS/Win16 based setup for anyone wanting to unlock the true potential of the hardware in front of them. Even today I still don't think the Windows dev team *really* understand how multitasking ought to behave, and I do wonder just how much productivity is lost globally due to those annoying random slowdowns and temporary hangs which remain part and parcel of everyday life as a Windows user, despite the underlying hardware being orders of magnitude more powerful than anything we could dream of having sat on our desks back in the 90's.

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Headphone batteries flame out mid-flight, ignite new Li-Ion fears

ChrisC

Re: I'm putting a bet....

One wonders if the residents of places like La Paz also suffer higher than average rates of battery fires, given their similarly lofty altitude...

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ChrisC

Re: Rude awakening at 30,000ft

Since when have we been unable to take bottles of water onto an aircraft? I appreciate you were trying to make a funny out of the whole "no (*) liquids through security" thing, but it'd be a rare international airport that didn't either have airside shops selling water, or airside facilities for getting drinking water (water fountains, dedicated drinking water taps etc.) from which you could refill an empty bottle taken through security.

(*) certain exemptions aside, please read the small print for details before travelling, E&OE etc.

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Intel's Atom C2000 chips are bricking products – and it's not just Cisco hit

ChrisC

It depends on when the clock is required by the system. We know it's definitely required when the system starts up, but it's less clear if it's also then still required once the system has started up and the other clock sources have been initialised OK.

So as Richard 12 suggests, *if* this failing clock is only being used to get the system off the ground from a restart, then the fault may well remain hidden for however long the system can remain up and running. And if this is the case, it'd then beg the question as to just how many of these Atoms have *already* gone into this knackered state without anyone being aware of it...

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Streetmap loses appeal against Google Maps dominance judgement

ChrisC

I still remember the day someone at work discovered the terraserver site (around 1999-2000 IIRC) and the whole R&D team stopped work for about an hour as we all crowded round their PC looking at the fairly low-res black&white imagery available around Slough (no jokes please, it might not have been the most salubrious of places to live, but the sheer number of companies based there made it a damn good place to kick off my engineering career).

17 years later, and I find myself grumbling if the aerial imagery in Google Maps is more than a couple of years old, under/over exposed, or just slightly too blurry to be able to see the road markings clearly... how quickly we forget just how much of a revolution it is to freely have access to this (and so much more) data at our fingertips 24/7.

11
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ChrisC

Going slightly off-topic here, but as Waze is something I have a particular interest in...

The Google buy-out of Waze was done in a way that maintained an arms-length seperation between the two companies. Other than the occasional traffic/incident alert appearing in Google Maps tagged with Waze as its source, and the slightly better integration of some Google products within the Waze environment, the two pretty much run independently of one another.

So yes, Google generate their own realtime traffic flow data via a combination of third party feeds where available, plus the location data returned from Android phones where such data hasn't been switched off by the user - its this latter data which gives Google Maps such good quality traffic flow data on side roads where the likes of Trafficmaster et al pay no attention.

However, Waze do pretty much the exact same thing. Every phone running the Waze app is sending back realtime data to the Waze servers, allowing them to build up the same sort of dynamic traffic flow picture as Google have. The main difference between Waze and Google here is that in the Waze app, traffic is generally only highlighted if it's moving slower than usual for that section of road at that time of day, so if Waze is showing no traffic highlights it doesn't mean the road ahead is clear, it only means the road ahead is flowing at least as well as Waze knows it usually flows. It could be completely stationary, but if that's normal for the time of day then it won't warrant a highlight...

Not the most human-friendly bit of UI design (something I've mentioned to the Waze devs on more than one occasion over the years), but from the perspective of the routing algorithms it does make sense, and if you're using Waze as the devs intend it to be used (i.e. always following a suggested route) then you do start to learn to trust that it's already taken all of the traffic it's aware of into account when deciding which route to offer you, and that if it still ends up directing you into the mother and father of all jams that wasn't shown onscreen then it's more likely that it really was the least worst option available, as opposed to it doing so because it really had no idea the jam was there.

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ChrisC

"(and it can display on an OS 1:25,000 and 1:50,000 map)"

As can Bing Maps, with a rather more user-friendly UI... As with several other commenters, I was a big user of Streetmap back in the days when it was *the* go-to site for free detailed maps of the UK, but they've done themselves no favours at all by clinging onto their old-school UI design long after it ought to have been put out to pasture.

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2

What happens in Vegas doesn't stay in Vegas: Razer prototypes nicked

ChrisC

Re: Have you heard this one?

Indeed, multiple screens are increasingly the norm in those parts of the workplace where PCs are seen as more than just a means of getting access to your calendar and emails. Even with the higher resolution afforded by a 4K screen, it can be more convenient to simply have seperate screens for seperate windows, rather than trying to juggle multiple windows within the same effective viewport area on a single higher-resolution screen. And unless the single screen is also physically larger, then you're going to have trouble reading the contents of those windows given they now occupy a far smaller area of your retina assuming you're still sitting a comfortable distance away from the screen...

Whilst I don't have a personal need for a multi-screen laptop like this - I'm fortunate enough to work for an employer who still gets the concept of providing suitable desktop kit for desk-bound R&D employees rather than assuming everyone can do their jobs just with a bog standard corporate laptop - I can easily imagine quite a few engineers, designers and anyone else with a genuine need to be able to display lots of data at the same time, would be getting very excited at the prospect of a product like this making it to market.

2
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Pharma hate figure Martin Shkreli suspended from Twitter

ChrisC

Re: Twitterati is lying

Naah, can't be - a) it's far too wordy for a trump from Trump, and b) it's only semi-controversial...

1
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CERN also has a particle decelerator – and it’s trying to break physics

ChrisC

Re: Breaking physics

"Holy cow! I couldn't imagine anything worse than the Microtome used during LASIK until I read the description (and saw photos) of a Vitrectomy. I hope you were asleep."

Dunno about Dave, but during mine (as part of a retinal reattachment) I was quite happily wide awake (aside from the area around my right eye, that was well and truly under the control of whatever local anesthetic they use for this sort of procedure) and thoroughly enjoying every fascinating minute of it all - as someone with the typically inquisitive mind of an engineer, being able to experience something like that first hand was pretty amazing.

Especially since, being rather terrified of needles, there's probably no way in hell I'd be able to watch such a procedure in the third party, but when it's your own eye that's being worked on, the needles are conveniently out of sight... The follow up caratact removal op and laser clean up procedures a couple of years later were almost as much fun too.

And on a more practical note, the surgeon who did my original op did say they prefer if if people are able to go through the procedure with just local anaesthetic, as it makes the post-op recovery process easier when patients aren't needing to be brought back around from being under.

2
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Microsoft ends OEM sales of Windows 7 Pro and Windows 8.1

ChrisC

There are many words I could use to describe the Win10 UI, friendly not being one of them...

0
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Did Apple leak a photo of its new Macbook Pro in an OS update? Our survey says: Yes

ChrisC

Re: What about VI users!

"there's noting compelling manufacturers to make products nice for devs."

In general, perhaps. When your products are also being used by the devs to create the software you need in order to be able to flog your products to the masses, however...

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No shoes for little Timmy, Mama needs a new 10TB hard drive

ChrisC

Re: I'm gonna go ahead and...

Barring fubars in the respective R&D/manufacturing departments that give rise to genuine problems such as the legendary Deathstar family, or the SD1A firmware bug (you know a problem is serious when you can remember what it's called years after the fact despite it not having been given a catchy name like "Deathstar"...), most drive failures IME are either down to statistics biting your drive in the arse and causing a premature failure, or down to accelerated ageing due to the environmental conditions in which you're using the drive (e.g. in a poorly ventilated case, resulting in consistently higher than desirable temperatures).

So these days I tend not to worry about who's making the drive and just make my purchasing selection based on a combination of cost and compatibility with the host device/intended use cases. Which generally ends up with me buying the cheapest external drive I can find from a high-street supplier in the required capacity, adding the enclosure to my collection of potentially useful spare parts, and fitting the bare drive.

Since I gave up on returning dead drives years ago after realising the cost of shipping them back to the manufacturer using the required delivery method was often getting close to the cost of a replacement drive anyway, the voiding of any warranty I might have had on the external drive by tearing it apart really doesn't worry me. Being able to potentially get a replacement drive up and running in the host device in under an hour from the point at which I realise it needs a replacement, at a price that's rarely any higher than the best online price, and is often slightly/somewhat better, has far more appeal...

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What a time to be alive: Nissan reveals self-driving chair

ChrisC

I wonder if OK Go are planning a sequel to the "I Won't Let You Down" video...

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Obituary: Victor Scheinman, inventor of the 'Stanford Arm' factory robot

ChrisC

Likewise, 'twas on the university PUMA560 as a postgrad student that I started learning all about the joys of path planning, co-ordinated motion (IIRC - whatever it was called that defined whether or not the endpoint moved in a straight line between points A and B, or whether it moved along whatever path was defined by the joints moving the least amount in order to get there) etc. Not quite as glamorous as the big hulking orange beast of a Kuka sat next to it in the lab, but nice and easy to work with, and with rather less ability to tear up the lab if it all went a bit pearshaped...

The limitations of its controller were also responsible for the path my career has taken me - before I started working with the PUMA I'd never designed a PCB or written any embedded code (hadn't even written any C - the uni still taught its engineering students a mixture of Pascal and 68k asm), but when I realised I couldn't get the thing to move in quite the ways my research needed it to, I started designing my own custom joint control cards to replace the native ones. Ended up getting so engrossed in the hands-on engineering this side of my research required, I never quite got around to finishing off the more theoretical side required to get any sort of qualification out of it. OTOH, the hardware and firmware skills I taught myself went a long way to securing my first job in the real world of embedded systems development, and I haven't looked back since.

As soon as I saw the pic at the top of the article all those fond memories came flooding back to me, and then as I wrote the above text I realised for the first time just how pivotal the PUMA was in determining how my life has turned out. So definitely a +1 from me too.

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HP Inc's rinky-dink ink stink: Unofficial cartridges, official refills spurned by printer DRM

ChrisC

Re: Sometimes you get what you pay for

Quite, however in this case the original doesn't really sound all that expensive in comparison with the third-party alternative - I mean, sure, it's 50% more expensive, but relatively speaking that's peanuts compared with the 30-400% increase you can expect to pay for an original toner versus a third-party equivalent on some printers.

The cheapest price I've seen for an original toner cartridge for my little Samsung laser is around 45 quid, whereas the third-party cartridges I've been buying for the last 2 years have been consistently around the 10 quid mark, and I haven't noticed any degradation in performance. If I could get an original cart for 15 quid, or if the third-party carts were around 30 quid, I might think twice about using originals, particularly if I also had any concerns about third-party performance. But 10 quid against 45 quid with no concerns about quality... it's an easy decision to make.

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Microsoft redfaced after Bing translation cockup enrages Saudis

ChrisC

Re: @Dr Scrum Master

Not sure what exactly you'd consider fake/false/otherwise not-real about the OS maps provided via Bing... The OpenData site is certainly a useful addition to the online mapping resources we enjoy in the UK, but if you want free access to the Explorer/Landranger map data then the OS isn't the place to go.

3
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Galaxy S7 Active can't swim, claims site. But it can, vendor retorts

ChrisC

Haven't paid any attention to any S7 ads, but is 30 minutes at 5 feet depth *really* what Samsung are claiming for the Active? On its website, the claim smallprint actually says:

"Water-resistant in up to 5 feet of water for up to 30 minutes"

Which isn't quite the same thing at all... If it genuinely was able to withstand immersion at 5 feet for 30 minutes, there'd be no need to bother with the "up to's" in that statement - the presence of those suggests however that it's the specific combination of depth and duration that is important here, e.g. 30 minutes is OK if the phone is only *just* completely immersed in water, and 5 feet of immersion is OK if you fish it out straight away, but both together is a no-no.

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This local council paid HOW MUCH for an SD card?!

ChrisC

Percentages are all well and good if you're comparing like for like. What isn't entirely clear here is whether or not this is actually the case. If the council did indeed buy a swish SD card because that's what was required by the piece of kit being used with the card, but on its passage through their accounting department the purchase ended up being registered simply as "X GB SD card - £Y", then a third-party onlooker with no understanding of *why* that purchase had been made might then think "OMFG, they spent *THAT* much on an X GB SD card, I can get those from eBay for waaaay less"...

And even if you are comparing like for like as far as the actual card specs themselves go, as others have pointed out, some/all of the markup may have been down to it being an emergency purchase that pushed up the total cost due to the use of the first supplier they could find who could provide the card there and then, but where the cost to the council of NOT spending the extra to get the card ASAP would have been even higher...

I mean, yes, it's more likely that it was a genuinely overpriced purchase made for no other reason than it's how the council always does this sort of thing, but let's not rule out the slender possibility that, just this once, the council really did get the best value for money they could in the specific circumstances.

4
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ChrisC

Leaving aside the perfectly valid reasons why a corporate-networked PC might be allowed to access SD cards (or indeed any other type of removable storage), who said it was being used with a PC in the first place?

4
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Computerised stock management? Nah, let’s use walkie-talkies

ChrisC

Re: the retailer

OTOH, if the shoes you're after are already stacked waiting for you in their "shop-floor stockrooms", then getting what you want is often no more taxing or time-consuming than grabbing a box, checking the contents match the label, and heading straight for the tills. That said, the way they then radio ahead to the security goons on the front door to let them know someone is about to walk out of the store with some paid-for stock does always make me wonder just what sort of pond-life they get shopping there such that their security needs to be warned about people *not* nicking stuff...

I can't in fact remember the last time I've ever had to ask an assistant to go fetch me a pair of shoes from out back, it's only when we're out getting shoes for the kids where this is still a requirement - though as we normally get their shoes from Clarks (where ye olde foot measuring gizmos have been replaced by some slightly absurd combination of tablet and measuring frame, just to keep a vague IT angle here...) the experience is rather more pleasant and well-organised than from the retailer we all know who we're talking about but dare not utter their name.

1
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Wi-Fi network named 'mobile detonation device' grounds plane

ChrisC

Re: Lolwut

"Also what was the guy that found this SSID doing with his phone turned on prior to take off.

Nawty, nawty."

Well, given that this flight was being operated by a Qantas plane featuring their new wi-fi based inflight entertainment service, and given that this service is advertised as being available "from the moment you board until you arrive at your destination" (see http://www.qantas.com./travel/airlines/wireless-inflight-entertainment/au/en#general), and given that the rules on switching stuff off completely have been significantly relaxed by many airlines in general, there really isn't anything naught naughty about it.

11
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Switch survives three hours of beer spray, fails after twelve

ChrisC

Re: A few splashes?

It's not unusual for the manufacturer of remotely monitored kit to pay at least as much attention (or, in some cases, significantly more) to the status information reported back by the kit as is paid to it by the customer who actually has the responsibility to monitor the kit and act on any alerts it generates.

If you can remotely access status info from customer kit without it affecting the ability of the customer themselves to access the kit, then every installation becomes a source of useful ongoing data to show how your kit performs out there in the real world, and so well worth keeping an eye on.

4
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ChrisC

Re: Sadly not beer

"How does one even get cooked spaghetti into a slot-loading drive?"

Cooked spaghetti is somewhat sticky and has a tendency to adhere quite nicely to pretty much anything it touches. It's therefore not entirely beyond the realms of belief to consider a scenario where some spaghetti ended up being spilled off the plate unnoticed (or, given the state of some student residences, simply ignored and forgotten about) and then at some later date a CD/DVD was chucked onto the table/floor/wherever said spaghetti was now residing, the spaghetti decided it fancied a change of scenery and so stuck itself to the underside of the disc, whereupon it then got transferred unnoticed into the drive...

3
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Germans stick traffic lights in pavements for addicts who can't take their eyes off phones

ChrisC

Re: useless for the colour blind, who use the layout of the lights

To be fair to the previous poster, they *may* be well-versed in the various different types of CVD, and were specifically thinking about the small percentage of CVD people who genuinely do have no colour vision at all, rather than the far larger percentage who merely suffer from some degree of deficiency.

Or, as is more likely the case, maybe they're simply part of that surprisingly large group of non-CVD people who really do believe that colour "blindness" is a binary condition rather than the far more complex spectrum it actually is.

Like you, I don't have any difficulty with things like traffic lights that some people automatically assume I'd struggle with as soon as they find out I'm red-green deficient. My favourite example of where I really do struggle comes courtesy of our Samsung fridge freezer, which has a built in water/ice dispenser and accompanying filter cartridge. On the door there's a small LCD to show the temperatures, dispenser settings etc., and also whether or not the filter needs replacing. Most of the LCD consists of blue on black characters/symbols, however when the filter has expired the symbol for the filter changes to red. Being merely red-green deficient as opposed to completely unable to see red, this isn't the problem.

What *is* the problem is that, in the weeks leading up to the expiry of the filter, the symbol first changes colour from blue to purple (I'm assuming here that Samsung decided not to splash out on a different backlight LED here, and are simply driving both the blue and red ones). However, the only reason I know it changes to purple is because my wife asked me one day what the purple light on the fridge meant - to my CVD-afflicted eyes there's no discernable difference in shade between this symbol when it switches between blue and purple, even though the shade of red used is, on its own, quite distinct.

2
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How to help a user who can't find the Start button or the keyboard?

ChrisC

Re: Fire!

Unless of course it's something iMac-esque with the display integrated into the main unit...

2
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Apple backs down from barring widow her dead husband's passwords

ChrisC

Re: so, did he backup his consciousness to the device?

Failing to give her the password before he died isn't proof that he didn't want her to have the password, particularly if (as the article suggests) he'd actually bequeathed the device to her in his will - a reasonable third party observer might then consider that, on balance of probabilities, the failure to supply the password along with the device was merely an oversight rather than a deliberate attempt to prevent access to whatever data was on said device.

Let's be honest here, how many of us are now so conditioned into entering a password or some other form of access data every time we use one of our devices, that it becomes something we do without really giving it any further thought? Once the use of passwords etc. become so ingrained into our daily routines, I think it's then quite likely that a lot of people would simply overlook the need to let someone else know what those passwords are in order to allow them access to whatever it is.

1
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Dialog box shut: Now Microchip is set to gobble up Atmel

ChrisC

Re: Missing the point of Arduinos

Considering the first AVRs only escaped into the wild in '97, to have any amount of third-party support by the end of the 90's was no small achievement. I was first introduced to them at the end of '98 when starting my first job, and spent a shade over 6 years really getting to grips with a few of the family and the idiosyncracies of the available compilers. The IAR one wasn't too bad, apart from their forgetting to let us know about an upgrade we should have received as part of our service agreement until *after* I'd submitted a bug report, but the one we needed to use for Tiny15-based projects was so full of weirdness that it became second nature to read the asm output after each compile just to make sure the output code was going to do what you intended it to. ISTR ditching the C code for that project after it got allocated to me as part of a department reshuffle, and just doing the whole thing in asm...

Haven't spent nearly as much time working with PICs, though I can see why they've garnered so much support from both amateur and professional users alike. Going to be interesting to see what comes out of this takeover, and not just from the PIC vs AVR perspective.

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Today's Quiz Question: Are there more SIMs than people in the world?

ChrisC

Re: 2G Kinda Lingers

Indeed, we're scrambling around to get a suitable 3G solution in place for our Australian business, but as you say it's a bit of a pain given that we're so wedded to 2G over this side of the globe and all of our existing kit is firmly 2G-based. Add to that the rather low likelihood of European 3G kit already having approval for use in Australia and the fun that can then be had getting it approved, and it's all a bit of a spheroid-based pain just below the midsection.

And as if that wasn't enough, they go and start the NBN rollout at the same time, meaning all our landline stuff needs to be re-evaluated/tweaked as well...

So no, simple it most assuredly isn't, not in the world of embedded telecoms gear.

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Old tech, new battles: Inside F-Secure’s formidable Faraday cage

ChrisC

Re: Love the FC (Faraday Cage)!

Quite. One of the places I used to work had a mesh-based EMC test area that was put together in the days before the explosion in GSM/wifi/etc transmissions - it was still a useful resource to have when it came to doing precompliance emissions testing in the lower frequency bands (where most of our emissions were concentrated - the fastest clocks we had on any of our embedded kit were in the 30-80MHz region), but with each year that passed you'd see stronger spikes in the GHz+ region on the spectrum analyser.

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ChrisC

Re: Woop ! Woop ! BS Alert !

I wonder if this is a bit of confusion/misunderstanding over primary vs secondary radar systems - the former of which are more likely to be military, and which are also the ones you would need to worry about when setting up a RF shielded area?

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Google engineer names and shames dodgy USB Type-C cable makers

ChrisC

Even worse than the ones with fake approvals are the ones where the manufacturer has presented a fully populated "gold-standard" unit for testing in order to gain a genuine approval mark/number for the product, and then proceeds to strip out all the protection components for the units actually manufactured/shipped. Doing a search on the approvals body website will then appear to show the unit meets the required standards, giving even more of a false sense of security than if they'd just skipped the testing entirely and slapped a completely made up approval number (or copied one off a different product - 'ere Mike, the UL site seems to think this charger is actually a microwave oven, what's up with that?) on the unit.

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Yay, more 'STEM' grads! You're using your maths degree to do ... what?

ChrisC

Re: "Back of the envelope" calculation and systems administration...

Indeed. As at least one of my old maths teachers used to say, you should always have at least a rough idea of what the answer should be before picking up the calculator, so that you can sanity check the result it gives you. And in many cases, a ballpark figure is often good enough for you never to need to reach for the calculator in the first place.

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If you wanted Windows 10, it looks like you've already installed it

ChrisC

Of the 3 PCs that get regular use at home, one is the OH's Win8 laptop (I know, I know, but that's what it came preinstalled with and she seems to like it), one is my Win7 desktop and the last is the Win7 media centre. All eligible for the free update to 10, none updated to 10...

The laptop may end up going to 10 at some point just because that's the one PC where an OS change will have the least effect. The mediacentre will remain on 7 for the reasons mentioned by CLD above. And whilst I'm not in any hurry to switch my desktop away from 7, I did sign up for the update notification so I could get the download and try installing it on a VM. But as someone else mentioned further up the comments, my desktop had been stuck on the "we're validating your update" message for at least a month, so I finally gave up waiting and nuked the updater from my system.

Repeat this sort of thing across households worldwide, and it suggests the takeup rate of 10 could have been a lot better if only MS hadn't dropped the ball first by removing features that some home users find essential and then by using an update mechanism that seems a bit flakey.

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Blighty's Bloodhound 1,000mph rocket car unveiled ahead of record attempt

ChrisC

Re: "it's unlikely we'll see much return from all this"

Engineering jobs are there for the taking all over the UK. Manufacturing may have largely been outsourced, but a lot of the products pouring out of those offshore factories were designed here. And as wage demands continue to rise in traditional outsourcing locations such as China, bringing manufacturing back home is starting to look more attractive too.

I think the problem is that, whilst it was pretty obvious that we used to do a lot of engineering here back in the days when engineering and manufacturing were combined on the same sprawling industrial-looking site, these days your average R&D centre looks just like any other anonymous identikit office building on a commercial estate somewhere. So whilst there are still a hell of a lot of very talented people (not to forget the rest of us digging out quite comfortable careers in engineering :-) doing a hell of a lot of world-class engineering work here in the UK, we mostly just look like ordinary office workers heading off to ordinary looking offices each day, rather than proud pioneers of the brave new technological future we're helping to create for the good of humanity *fade-in inspirational orchestral theme*

As to why we're getting someone else to build our new atomic kettle, maybe it has something to do with it being close to 3 decades since we started building the last one in the UK, so unless we've been running a very hush-hush project to continue building nuclear power plants and maintain our national experience in that field, I'm not really sure who you think we should have asked to build this one?

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Dialog Semiconductor gobbles Atmel for $4.6bn, with 'synergies' on the way

ChrisC

Re: They didn't seem familar to me as a UK company

Arduino may be the most public-facing use of the AVR family, but there are thousands upon thousands of other companies out there using AVRs in their own commercial products, so I'd say the likelihood of this sale having the slightest effect on AVR end users is somewhere in the region of zero. Maybe Dialog will start phasing out the Atmel brand and start slapping their own logo on the chips and datasheets (just as Atmel themselves have done in the past), otherwise I imagine it being business as usual.

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Apple's iPad Pro: We're making a Surface Pro WITH A STYLUS over Steve Jobs' DEAD BODY

ChrisC

Re: Stylus is a bit understated

It's common, when discussing the Wacom-style of stylus implementation as used e.g. on the Samsung devices, to refer to a digitiser layer seperate from the capacitive touch layer, as it's this seperate layer which the system uses to detect the stylus.

However, as Nvidia showed with the stylus implementation on their digitiser-less tablets, it is possible to provide palm/touch rejection without needing that seperate layer, so if the new iPad is similarly digitiser-less, it suggests they've also come up with a way to use the capacitive layer for both stylus and touch inputs.

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ChrisC

Re: You can rest on the screen

Assuming you're correct about being able to touch the screen whilst using the stylus, and the other commenters above who've said this isn't possible got the wrong end of the stylus...err...stick, then no, it's really not an innovation, as that would imply no-one has done it before, which they have.

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Greater Manchester plod site targeted by nuisance DDoS attack

ChrisC

"I love how the police have decided that this is a “malicious attempt to disrupt services” despite admitting that “It isn’t a security breach, and it doesn’t affect our operational capability”."

It isn't a security breach, nor does it affect their operational capability, because it wasn't targetting their internal network. However, it clearly is a malicious attempt (not sure what, if anything, would qualify as a non-malicious DDoS attack...) to disrupt a GMP-provided service - namely their public-facing website. So those two statements seem quite reasonable to me.

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Rock reboot and the Welsh windy wonder: Centre for Alternative Technology

ChrisC

Re: I wentthere in the 1980's

I have some rather fuzzy memories of visiting in the 80's as well - I think it'd featured in one of the Blue Peter annuals around then.

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