* Posts by ChrisC

438 posts • joined 2 Jul 2009

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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."

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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...

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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...

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2

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*.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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...

6
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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...

7
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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.

35
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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...

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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.

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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.

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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...

7
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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...

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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)...

2
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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...

4
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Office junior had one job: Tearing perforated bits off tractor-feed dot matrix printer paper

ChrisC

Re: spirit duplcator sensory memories

Oh, on the scale of one to "WTF were they thinking when they allowed this sort of stuff to be done by students", I'd suggest that the risks of getting nicely high on Banda fumes (which I too remember with a mixture of fondness and sadness - my late mum was a teacher and would often bring home the Banda machine during school holidays so she could prepare her teaching materials for the next term) pale into insignificance compared with some of the other things schoolkids were expected to do...

* carving expanded polystyrene using hot wire cutters (and the "hot" in their name wasn't just for show - you only touched the bare wire once before learning to treat it with respect!)

* cutting paper on a safety-guard-less lever-action guillotine

* drilling/cutting/shaping/etc bits of wood, metal and plastic using the variety of workshop machines which at best might have at least heard about this new-fangled thing called H&S, and even occasionally might have done something about it like having a safety guard retrofitted so badly that it was still entirely possible for a kiddie-sized finger to quite easily have an encounter with a sharp spinny thing

* pretty much anything to do with chemistry practicals...

And then there were the "after school but not actually after school" activities we used to do in 6th form inbetween lessons, one of which was run by a teacher with a passion for model rocketry and making home-made explosives. God only knows how he got away with some of the stuff we did then (whilst H&S wasn't such a hot topic back in the 80s/early 90s, the threat of IRA and other Euro-terrorist action was certainly not to be taken lightly), but being given the chance to do some real hands on science and engineering beyond just the somewhat contrived examples required as part of our practical coursework was one of the many highlights of my time as a 6th former.

Kids today eh, don't know what they're missing out on :-)

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Maplin shutdown sale prices still HIGHER than rivals

ChrisC

"It's probably because the liquidation sales are more about getting money back for the creditors"

In principle, yes. Personal experience of the process from the perspective of an employee of a company that went through the liquidation process a few years ago suggests that in reality, the administrators will do whatever they can to bring funds into the company in order to pay themselves as much as they can get away with extracting from the corpse, and any monies left over at the end of the process are just a rounding error not worthy of further thought or mention.

Leaving aside the whole question mark over paying what amounts to full "normal" prices for stuff from a liquidated retailer in this particular case, my personal distrust of administrators means I'd be loathe to spend any of my money at any company in administration, because in the back of my mind there'd always be that thought that all I was doing was padding out the administrators next expenses claim rather than providing some much needed funds to help pay any of the people genuinely owed money by the company...

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ChrisC

Re: shock horror

"that charges more for the same goods"

Significantly more in many cases, which was the real issue here. Bricks and mortar stores *can* survive in this brave new world of online retailing if they adapt to the environment in which they're now operating, rather than continuing to cling onto some outdated notion that just because they've got a physical presence it gives them the right to gouge customers on price.

And the sad thing about Maplin is that, sometimes, they got it absolutely spot on. As I've mentioned in other posts on this topic over recent weeks/months, I was quite happy to spend my hard-earned in Maplin when their prices were competitive (and by this I don't necessarily mean equal to what Amazon et al would charge - I'm happy to pay a reasonable premium for the ability to buy something I want/need right there and then), and various parts of our household IT setup came from them. Either their prices were within that "a bit above online but still within reasonable limits" band where I was happy to pay the "get it right now" premium, or their prices were so close to the online price (usually in the post-Christmas sales when they'd do some really good deals on things like external drives) that you'd have had to have been the tightest penny-pinching scrooge who ever walked the planet to have still bought online.

The problem was that, for a lot of their stuff, the prices were just so far removed from anything resembling sanity that it not only turned people away from buying *those* items, but in the process of them then searching for a better deal elsewhere they'd then learn that pretty much everything else Maplin sold could be found cheaper elsewhere too, even the stuff which was genuinely reasonably priced and might on its own not have encouraged customers to look elsewhere.

And the whole descent into gadget shop hell didn't help either - alienating their existing customers by relegating them to feeling like second-class shoppers forced to delve into the far depths of the store to find what remained of the "original" Maplin, whilst trying to tempt the bright young crowd in with shiny shiny tat. A bright young crowd who, by and large, probably already spent a significant amount of time buying stuff online and who'd therefore be an even harder audience to sell overpriced stuff to just on the notion that they could walk away with it there and then instead of having to wait a whole 24 hours to get it Primed to them...

Sigh :-(

2
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Rant launches Eric Raymond's next project: open-source the UPS

ChrisC

Re: Designed by programmers

"Just look at old devices which were made back when you actually had the firmware designed by hw engineers."

This is still how it's done in a lot of engineering companies :-)

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ChrisC

Re: Designed by programmers

"Examples of crappy hw-engineer-designed software are legion but here area few I've suffered from recently:"

There are equally just as many godawful examples of programmer-led software releases - no self-respecting engineer would have allowed stuff like Lotus Notes or the Windows version of iTunes to escape the development labs... Speaking as an embedded systems engineer, I know I can't write front-end code which is as elegant or as pleasing to use as stuff produced by even a half-decent programmer, but what I do know is that whatever I write will at least bloody well work the way the documentation says it'll work, and it won't chew its way through all of the available system resources in the process.

And as for "uploading the wrong firmware to your device may render it inoperable" - when you see a warning like that it means the user is at least being given the choice whether or not to perform the update. Where was the user choice when MS decided to push out buggy W10 updates which turned a whole bunch of PCs into paperweights? Yes yes, recovering a PC is generally a bit easier than recovering an embedded device provided you've got recovery media to hand, know how to use it, and have the time and energy to devote to the process, but that's still no excuse for forcing an update onto a user if you're not 100% certain it'll leave their system in a fully functional state after the update has been applied.

There are some truly talented programmers out there whos abilities I'm genuinely in awe of. Unfortunately, most of the software we use in our day to day lives isn't written by people like these, and it shows...

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ChrisC

Having a UPS that replicates the ATX interface is an interesting idea, and could work nicely for headless systems (such as servers) where you only need to maintain power to the PC itself. But for SOHO type applications, I'm not sure too many users would be happy if their monitor suddenly went dark each time the UPS kicked in even for just a few seconds...

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ChrisC

Re: Comparison to guard dogs

Remind me to never, ever, go UPS shopping with you... In the getting on for 2 decades that I've had a UPS protecting my PC at home (ever since a couple of seconds of brownout caused me to then waste several hours of my life reinstalling Windows due to the brownout occurring whilst it was in the middle of writing to something slightly critical such that it couldn't even reach the desktop in safe mode), I've never had a problem with either of the units I've used.

Yes. Either of them. Nearly 20 years of faultless service from just two different UPSs (both from the APC stable), and the only reason I retired the first one was because it couldn't cope with the increasing power demands of my newer system. The only maintenance I've had to do on either of them was feeding them with replacement batteries every so often, but other than that they've just sat there doing exactly what they're supposed to do, and in all the times they've intervened to keep my PC up and running through brief brownouts, or enabled me to shut down cleanly during longer duration blackouts, I've not once suffered data loss/corruption.

So for me, the ability to just keep on working without in some cases even being aware of the brownout, or to be able to resume working as soon as the power is restored without having to spend hours recovering the system into a working state again, is worth every penny I've spent (which isn't all that much in total, let alone averaged out over all these years) on these units.

4
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Your mouse can't reach that Excel cell? Buy a 'desk extender' said help desk bluffer

ChrisC

Re: School Days

Yep, even if you kept the rollers clean (and what a strangely satisfying job that was too - was it just me who played the game of "try to peel all the compressed crud off the roller into a single long strip"?), the only way to deal with all the other crap that got picked up by the mouse and thrown into the innards of the mouse shell was to crack it completely open and give it a good clean out every so often.

Annoyingly, despite the move to optical mice rendering ball and roller cleaning just a footnote in the historical record of computing, the growing trend to add scrollwheels and other mechanical gubbins elsewhere on the mouse body now means we STILL have the same problems of crap getting inside the shell and slowly building up to critical levels. I'm getting quite adept now at opening up the shell of my trusty old MX510 to give the scrollwheel mechanism a good clean out and restore smooth operation for another year or two...

9
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Copper feel, fibre it ain't: Ads regulator could face court for playing hard and fast with definitions

ChrisC

Re: Plain english says the review should succeed.

"Once demanding users understand that copper is like a trip to Ikea, they will want Full-Fibre."

B..but, what if you want meatballs???

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ChrisC

Re: Fibre vs Copper

"I have yet to see a residential Fibre network that is glass all of the way to the computer. They *ALL* convert to copper or wireless at some point as part of distribution and as such every one of them is still a hybrid system."

But even with a fibre connection to the back of the computer, the probability of there not then being a fibre-copper conversion occurring within the computer itself is so vanishingly small as to be practically non-existent. So given that, for pretty much every consumer/business-grade connection, there will be a fibre-copper conversion *somewhere* between the ISP and end user equipment, where do you draw the line and say that if it's converted over *there* then it's too far away to be classed as a full fibre connection, whereas if it's converted over *here* then it's close enough?

In the context of this advertising-based complaint, I'd suggest that if the ISP provides a pure fibre connection all the way to the termination point at the customer premises, then that'd be the point at which you say their responsibility ends, and therefore there shouldn't be any cause for argument if they choose to advertise their product as being pure/full/100% fibre etc.

6
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Reg man wraps head in 49-inch curved monitor

ChrisC

Re: Does this simulate multiple windows?

"One of the benefits of using multiple monitors"

Another benefit is the ability to drop back down to a (n-1) setup if one of the screens/cables/video ports goes on the blink.

Yes, I can see the allure of having a seamless display like this, but the drawbacks (single point of failure, requirement for a single video card capable of driving such a huge display, inflexibility of where you can locate the thing etc.) far outweigh the benefits IMO even before you consider the huge price premium you're having to pay.

2
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RIP... almost: Brit high street gadget shack Maplin Electronics

ChrisC

Re: Well at least

Count me in as another member of the "mixed feelings brigade" - almost certainly still got my old battered copy of the catalogue, that acted as my IC reference manual throughout my school electronics lessons, tucked away in the loft somewhere, and there's plenty of other stuff dotted around the house (some still in everyday use like the CCTV system) which came from Maplins.

In the good old days when their only real competition was Tandy/Radio Shack, they were genuinely a decent retailer, and even as they started their transformation into a seller of cheap (to make, though alas not to buy) tat with all the good stuff pushed ever further off to the far flung depths of the store, you could still get some decent stuff at decent prices if you were just prepared to wait a while - the aforementioned CCTV system was on offer for a price entirely comparable with the best we could find online, making it a no-brainer to buy it off the shelf from our local store rather than some unknown online store, and I've picked up a few hard drives over the years which were also comparable in price (certainly by the time you took into account how much next day delivery would have added to the online price - when you *need* a new drive ASAP, you don't want to be waiting best part of a week for standard delivery...).

However, the last time I recall needing to buy something (replacement SLA battery for the house alarm system) where they came first to mind as a likely supplier, I took one look at the price listed on their website and thought "you have GOT to be kidding me!". Given it wasn't an urgent replacement I was then quite willing to get it online, but as I was searching for other suppliers, up popped Screwfix. Never crossed my mind they might sell batteries (at least not this type), but sure enough it was exactly what I was after, and at a price which was entirely reasonable, so half an hour later I was back home with the new battery... So if a retailer like Screwfix can keep their heads above water offering products at decept prices whilst operating physical stores of comparable sizes and locations to the out of town Maplins, why couldn't Maplins do it themselves?

40
1

Full shift to electric vans would melt Royal Mail's London hub, MPs told

ChrisC

Re: Hmmm

"I'd love a Tesla model S with a V8 instead of the electric drive."

I'd love a Tesla model S (or indeed *any* of their lineup) with the electric drivetrain married to a cabin interior designed by someone who doesn't subscribe to the "less is more, so much more" philosophy which seems to have infected Tesla. If I can't instinctively reach out and find all the important and/or oft-used controls just by a combination of muscle memory and touch alone, then I don't want to know.

So I applaud Tesla for helping to bring high performance long range EVs into the minds of the general public, but when the time comes for me to eventually make the switch away from ICE to electric, I suspect it'll be to one of the more established manufacturers who seem to have a far better understanding about how to design a car around the driver, rather than around the technology...

23
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Crunch time: Maplin in talks to sell the business

ChrisC

Re: But seeing in store

For things like white (in name at least, if not in actual colour these days) goods, being able to poke and prod at the controls (for stuff like dishwashers, microwaves etc. which have them), opening the doors and checking what the storage arrangement is like inside (fridges, freezers), checking how much space is required around the unit itself to do things like open the doors (e.g. could you have the unit hard up against a wall, or does the door overhang the side of the unit when opened), even just down to exactly what shade of white/grey/brushed metal/etc it is under real world lighting conditions as opposed to the carefully styled photoshoots used by some online stores. can still be quite important details to determine for some people, but how many online retailers bother going into sufficient detail with their product information to let you figure all of this out remotely?

10
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A print button? Mmkay. Let's explore WHY you need me to add that

ChrisC

Re: Adding a Print Button

"many many many meetings with many many many people and outside researchers on where to stick it."

ObHHGTTH: Up your nose, perhaps...

3
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KFC: Enemy of waistlines, AI, arteries and logistics software

ChrisC

"Or one I saw a few months ago: "Stop" became "Squat". I wonder how the car would react to "Squat"?"

Depends whether or not you paid the extra for the air suspension upgrade...

3
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Bloke sues Microsoft: Give me $600m – or my copy of Windows 7 back

ChrisC

Re: "Tinkering with WINE"

"Here's what I've found: pretty much every app I use on this Windows box is primarily a Linux app ported to Windows, or in some cases an app that was multiplatform from the start."

Yes, I'm much the same here - the majority of the productivity software installed on my PC is opensource and almost entirely multi-platform, and of the minority of commercial/Windows-only stuff, there's only one thing I've bought for myself, the rest is stuff my employer has provided to enable me to work from home as and when the mood takes me.

A few years ago I'd also have had a reasonable collection of Windows games installed too, but I've pretty much given up on PC gaming now with the exception of some casual "5 minutes to spare" stuff (which, again, is mostly open source/multi-platform), with my infrequent serious gaming sessions now provided for by the collection of Wii(U)'s and PS3/4's dotted around the house thanks to it also being home to a couple of gaming crazy kids :-)

So yeah, each time I see the latest stunt being pulled by MS, the closer I find myself getting to reaching the tipping point where the pain of having to nuke from orbit and start afresh with Linux, with the attendant learning curve required to get back to the same position of familiarity as I currently enjoy with W7, will be easier to bear than having to put up with Windows as my primary OS any longer. Undoubtedly I'd then whack W7 onto a VM so that I could continue to have access to those work apps, but the thought of then being able to drop out of that VM into an environment that respects me as the owner of the PC on which it's being allowed to run, rather than being treated ever increasingly like a resource for Microsoft to use as they see fit, is becoming far more appealing.

I'll most likely stick with W7 for as long as I can - it does everything I need it to do, in an environment that I still largely feel in control of - but sooner or later the time will almost certainly come when my primary OS is no longer Windows. Unless MS do a complete 180 and go back to releasing OSs in the style of 7... And in other news today, Heathrow announced plans for a new terminal to cater for the sudden increase in demand for flights from the porcine community ;-)

"As for WINE, frankly I've never really seen the point, except as a purely academic exercise. Windows is "free" in the sense that it comes preinstalled on every PC ever built"

Umm, not quite. It is possible to buy prebuilt PCs with no Windows licence, and I've yet to find a copy of Windows preinstalled on any of the PCs I've built for myself over the years...

12
1
ChrisC

Re: Don't forget to sue them for time lost...

a) if his PC was truly borked by the W10 "upgrade", then he wouldn't get very far trying to install anything else to persuade it to behave more like the PC he was used to

and

b) thanks to the most recent round of "improvements" in W10, Classic Shell is no longer in development and there's no guarantees as to how long it'll continue working as MS continue to fiddle with stuff that CS hooks into...

24
1
ChrisC

Re: Downgrade rights

If the PC is borked as a result of the W10 "upgrade", then how would you initiate the "downgrade" back to your previous OS again?

9
0

Hyperoptic's overkill 10Gbps fibre trial 'more than a clever PR stunt'

ChrisC

Re: GreenReaper

Depends on how heavily the videos are compressed - I get the feeling this demo was being done with an eye on the TV & film industry, as a way to woo the sort of companies who generate and work with uncompressed video and who might therefore be rather interested in anything which could help them move that data between sites, or between them and their clients, faster than writing it all to a removable drive and handing it to a bike courier to get it across the city...

0
0
ChrisC

Re: Bollocks

Quite, when I read that quote I instantly had a mental image forming of some quaint looking fellow dressed in a tweed suit, taking a quick puff on a well-filled briar pipe before turning to the camera, and with the faintest of smiles forming under his neatly trimmed moustache, announcing, in perfect BBC English, news of the latest wonder of the modern world sure to delight and amaze...

For me, it's not just about headline-grabbing stuff like being able to download seriously large chunks of data in really short but still perceptible periods of time, it's also about being able to rid our lives of all the micro-interruptions caused by all of the smaller downloads that our net-connected devices seem only too happy to burden our connection with on a regular basis. When all of those smaller chunks of data can be flung around without our ever being aware of it because they're happening imperceptibly quickly, then we might be able to start questioning the need for faster connections.

And so what if no-one can come up with any genuinely good reason for needing that much bandwidth to the home today? If someone is willing and able to install the necessary insfrastructure to deliver it now, bloody well let them get on with it without any of the "well, I really can't see the need for anything quite so fast, so harrumph harrumph mutter mutter chocolate hobnobs" naysaying. Because, sooner or later, the need will come, and wouldn't it be really nice if, just for once, at least part of the country already had the necessary bandwidth in place?

2
0

Boffins crack smartphone location tracking – even if you've turned off the GPS

ChrisC

"And users are stupid and don't understand that a walking app doesn't need to know your air pressure."

If it's just a simple step counter app then OK, no need for any sensor access beyond the accelerometer. But if the app is trying not just to count steps but also estimate calories burned as a result, then knowing if those steps resulted in you gaining, losing or maintaining elevation means the resultant estimation will be somewhat less inaccurate than a simple "1 calorie = x steps" conversion.

Not that I disagree with the more general observation that users can and do completely ignore some utterly insane permission requests from apps, or that the current permissions model is a bit broken, but to suggest people are stupid if they allow an app to request a permission which isn't obviously out of scope for that type of app... bit harsh methinks.

28
2
ChrisC

Re: How do they get elevation information from a phone thats been on a flight?

"or are they suggesting the phone can regurgitate historical elevation data?"

From the article: "In the PinMe attack, the researchers went down the malicious app path" - if you're in control of the data collection process, then pretty much anything is possible provided the phone remains powered up...

3
1

Thar she blows: Strava heat map shows folk on shipwreck packed with 1,500 tonnes of bombs

ChrisC

"Sorry, but heavy bombs have shells that must be able to penetrate concrete or hardened steel before detonating."

Not so fast. Heavy bombs can be heavy because they're designed around a strong armour-piercing casing with relatively little explosive filling , but they can *also* be heavy because they're designed around a thin-wall casing to maximise the amount of explosive within and thus blast effect once dropped...

e.g. Tallboy, 12,000lb total mass, approx. 5000lb explosive content

Cookie, 12,000lb total mass (in its largest variant), approx. 9000lb explosive content

Two bombs with the same overall mass, but designed for two very different types of mission.

2
0

NASA finds satellite, realises it has lost the software and kit that talk to it

ChrisC

Re: Those who do not understand Unix are condemned to reinvent it, poorly.

Leaving aside my personal bias towards anything Amiga-related, which would see me upvoting a comment like this regardless, it's worthy of an upvote because in the context of this article it's really quite an appropriate thing to be saying anyway...

https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2017/12/nasa-and-amiga-history-meet-in-an-ebay-listing/

5
0

Microsoft whips out tool so you can measure Windows 10's data-slurping creepiness

ChrisC

Re: No brainer

"If you don't like it, then install Linux."

Sure, and throw away potentially thousands (if not tens of thousands) of pounds worth of now worthless applications which you've built your business around, and which have no simple replacement in the Linux world.

Blindly throwing out the tired old "oh, just switch to Linux" response whenever someone complains about Windows is seriously missing the point - for many users, switching away from Windows is something that would only make sound business sense if Windows was no longer in existence, and for as long as it continues to exist in some form which can continue to run the tools on which the business relies, then IT professionals and clued-up users alike will continue to use it simply because it's the lesser of two evils.

No matter how much we as individuals might very much want to ditch the crapfest which is W10, if corporate policy is for us to use it then use it we do.

And no matter how much you might have disliked MS in the past, opting for a Windows based business environment never felt like a completely crazy idea - no matter what MS changed with each new version, you were still ultimately in charge of your PC, which is kinda what you want out of your business tools. W10, now that's a whole different ball game. MS have gone and changed the rules for millions of users without them having any say in the matter, and that's pretty low even by their standards.

So yes, anyone setting up a new business would do well to seriously consider the Linux alternatives, because they ought to be well aware of what they'd be letting themselves in for if they opted for a W10 environment instead. The rest of us just have to make the best of it, and hearing smart-alec remarks like yours really doesn't help...

3
1
ChrisC

Re: Really?

"so this is hardly an argument"

Yes it is, and not just a 5 minute one either...

Google dataslurping, on the desktop at least, is constrained to G seeing whatever I do within my browser or the Google Earth app. Similarly with the likes of FB or anyone else with their own dataslurping exercises, what they see is limited in scope.

As soon as you move the dataslurping into the OS itself however, it doesn't matter how much slurping you think each individual app/website/etc is doing or not doing, because now anything on your PC is potentially open to being slurped by MS.

And yes, in this context, anyone running Android is then putting themselves in the same boat - perhaps the reason there isn't so much uproar here is because of the way most Android devices are used vs how most Windows PCs are used, or more specifically what sort of potentially interesting data an OS-level slurp might expect find on a PC vs an Android device...

Perhaps also it's because I don't remember there ever being a time in the history of Android (at least not in its commercially available forms) when there was any presumption that Google wouldn't be doing at least *some* sort of slurping within the OS, because that's just how we knew they operated in general. Whereas MS, whilst never the most trustworthy of companies over the years, at least never had a reputation for knowingly hoovering up data at the OS level, and so for them to go all out with slurping in W10 makes people far more uneasy because of how much of a seismic shift it is in terms of what we now know our PCs to be doing under the hood.

12
0
ChrisC

Re: re: I recently upgraded from windows 10 to windows 7.

Don't confuse necessary (and genuinely beneficial) changes to the underlying technology (filesystem, networking stack etc) with changes to the user interface which seem to have been made partly (for W10 specifically) to make life easier for the minority of users with touchscreen devices at the often significant expense of the majority of users with mouse-driven devices, and partly just out of the ever present desire (for products in general) for each generation of graphics designers to stamp their mark on a product even if it means it looks and feels nothing like its predecessor.

14
0

Death notice: Moore’s Law. 19 April 1965 – 2 January 2018

ChrisC

"As memory increased, these skills withered and atrophied."

In the world of desktop/mobile/web coding, perhaps. The world of low-cost embedded coding still heavily relies on people understanding how to wring every last drop of performance out of the processor - in my near 2 decades in the business the most powerful processor I've ever used had 256KB of flash and 64KB of SRAM, and at the other end of spectrum I've also written firmware for a processor with 1KB of flash and no SRAM, just a handful of general purpose registers. Bloody good fun, and I get paid quite nicely for doing it too :-)

37
0

F-35 'incomparable' to Harrier jump jet, top test pilot tells El Reg

ChrisC

Re: ROTFL I mean SRVL

"Easy. Just make the wings a bit bigger. "

A quick play around with an online lift force calculator suggests that, at typical sea level air densities and assuming a lift coefficient from a fully flapped and slatted wing of 3.3 (taken from the most optimistic looking plot of lift vs angle of attack I could find without spending much time on it), a 20 tonne aircraft travelling at 35 knots would need a wing surface area of around 300m^2 to maintain level flight.

Wiki suggests the F35A has a wing area of 42.7m^2, and I don't think there's much difference between the A and B in this respect, so you're talking about making the wings a mere 6 times larger. Or, to put it another way, slightly bigger than the wings of a B767 airliner.

So yes, theoretically speaking, it seems like it would be possible for a 20 tonne aircraft to fly at 35 knots just on wing-generated lift. Practically speaking OTOH...

9
0
ChrisC

Re: Hearts & minds propaganda, courtesy of MoD

"That operator will pre-plan the flight and set the drone up to get on with the job by itself."

In that case, can I suggest the MoD invest in a fleet of tower cranes - simply sprinkle those at random around the base areas and et voila, instant defence against pre-planned drone flightpaths...

4
1

All aboard the Vomit Comet: Not the last train to Essex, but a modded 727 for weightless flight

ChrisC

Re: Nostalgia dreams

Not sure quite what your problem is with the Virgin Galactic idea other than the cost (or perhaps just because it's linked to Virgin/Richard Branson), given that a flight on this 727 is equally useless. It's a far cheaper way to experience zero-g, sure, but that's all you get (flight suit and chance to add 727 to your personal flight logs aside) for your still not insubstantial outlay.

OTOH, if the price of a Virgin Galactic flight is within your means, then you get the zero-g experience (somewhat enhanced compared with the 727 option, given that it's a single extended exposure to zero-g vs several much shorter exposures) *plus* the experience of flying higher and faster than almost any other person on the planet will ever achieve (also you also get to update your flight logs with a seriously exotic entry...)

Ultimately choosing to do either is throwing your money away if measured in terms of how useful they are, but then the same could be said about so many other things we as humans do. Why bother spending good money on a nice holiday, nice clothes, a nice car, decent food? Sod it, we get one shot at life, your money is useless once you shuffle off this mortal coil, so if you've got it, why the hell not spend it on making your life more comfortable/enjoyable/interesting, and, in the case of either of these zero-g options, giving yourself what really would deserve to be described as the experience of a lifetime?

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