* Posts by Ogi

383 posts • joined 13 Nov 2009


Crash, bang, wallop: What a power-down. But what hit the kill switch?


Re: Not Unique...

I have not yet triggered such an emergency switch. However at my new workplace, all the doors have magnetic locks. They have two buttons, the normal door release button, and the "emergency door release" button, which are always right next to each other. They are also both green (except the emergency button has "EMERGENCY" written in small green text above it).

Both also do the same thing (release the door). but the emergency one will also sound the alarm (forcing a building evacuation) and call the fire and police. Multiple times already I found myself almost pressing the emergency button by accident, instead of the normal button when wanting to release a door.

I really wonder who thought it would be a good idea to make both buttons the same colour and put them side by side like that. I have seen others in the office make the same mistake as well, but realise at the last minute before pressing. One of these days, while someone is in a big rush, I suspect the inevitable will happen.

Help us sniff out 50 neutron star collisions so we can calculate universe expansion, cosmoboffins plead


Re: Plea?

I admit I too was expecting some actual request for help in the article, but didn't see one. They did mention they need to find more of these neutron star collisions, which basically requires procesing a large dataset looking for the tell tale signs (namely gravity wave ripples).

I used to crunch numbers on gravitational waves using Einstein@HOME/BOINC ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Einstein%40Home ), until they decided to redesign the site and broke my account in pretty much every way possible (after which time, it became too much of a headache to continue).

Assuming they fixed the issues from before, I am sure they would not mind more CPU/GPU cycles donated, and it could well help these guys locate the desired neutron star collisions.

Likewise, the Boinc project as a whole is a worth a look if you want to contribute compute power to a wide range of scientific projects.

The D in SystemD stands for Dammmit... Security holes found in much-adored Linux toolkit


Re: systemd is clearly missing a critical feature...

They can call it "SystemD Security Essentials" and we can finally go full circle...


Re: This is one reason why I use BSD and Salix

> Agreed. I honestly don't understand why boot times are terribly important outside of a few edge use cases.

More to the point, when was it ever so slow that people were clamoring for a complete rewrite a-la systemd?

I mean, my Devuan distro on my ageing 4 core thinkpad boots so fast I barely notice. The longest delay in the boot process is the prompt for me to type in the disk decryption password.

Even before systemD, things booted quickly. Yes, back in the late 90s/early 2000s you could have slow booting as things are done one at a time, but I remember Gentoo supported parallel init script running in 2005 or so, and since then everything could do it.

The argument of "faster booting" of systemd was bogus before they foisted it upon the world, and in my experience systemD boots slower than my Devuan machine (it seems to like to hang on "waiting for..." type crap, for no reason I can fathom). It is also much harder to configure and debug. Lord only knows why they pushed is so hard, I suspect it was done deliberately so RedHat could make a mint offering support services (the Microsoft model of making money).

At work systemD has been such a PITA, that we decided to virtualise every single Linux machine, and now we just snapshot and rollback when systemd eventually shits the bed (which it does regularly). Thank god for Devuan (+others) and the BSDs that keep me sane at home.

Now you, too, can snoop on mobe users from 3G to 5G with a Raspberry Pi and €1,100 of gizmos


A flaw, or a backdoor?

The more I hear about these events, the more I suspect that these flaws are deliberate in order to allow intelligence agencies to access communications when they want, but in a way that is not obvious to the layman.

Having the flaw in the protocol is a lot easier than having to twist every companies arm to implement a backdoor in their hardware/OS/Software, with all the variations. This way, any piece of equipment that follows the standard (and is certified as such) is automatically backdoored. Far more elegant.

I know "security is hard", but we are talking about very large, very rich companies, who develop these standards over many years, with much ratification and consultation, and could easily afford the crypto and security specialists needed to do it properly.

A lot of the telecom industry traces its lineage back to to the old telegraph and telephone systems, and interception by spies has been a long standing thing they facilitated, and at this point I would expect such agreements are grandfathered in.

We have already had western governments request/demand tech companies cripple their security implementations to allow backdoor access, with push back from said companies (at least publicly). You notice they never request or demand the same from Telecoms. I suspect because an arrangement is already in place, and has been for a very very long time.

The problem with the concept, is that when security researches eventually discover the backdoor and publish it, every single implementation is vulnerable, with no way to patch it (because it is protocol level), until a new revision of the protocol is published, hardware certified, etc.. and people actually buy the new hardware (without any backwards compatibility with the flawed system). Hence why every phone still supports 2G, with whatever flaws exist since then, we will have security holes for decades.

Millennials 'horrify' their neighbours with knob-shaped lights display

Thumb Up

> or a lack of Arduino skills.

Arduino?!? Pah! Kids these days, back in my day, yadda yadda, .... Real men do it with logic gates!

http://pigeonsnest.co.uk/stuff/cocklights.html demonstrates the idea, with schematics!

I was still a student when I stumbled across that site, so we are talking a good 10 years ago at least that people were making and decorating their places with cocks (and multicoloured animated ones to boot). Why is this newsworthy now?

those damned restaurant-killing, soap-shirking, marriage-dodging millennials. Or, more specifically, a bunch of students sharing a house due to the property's proximity to the town's university.

No one else could possibly sink so low.

Ah, because Students/Millenials? You would think nobody before them ever thought to graffiti a sex organ onto a wall somewhere. Honestly, talk about making a mountain of a mole hill (not el reg, the actual news outlet).

Icon because, well, I can't set this as an icon: http://pigeonsnest.co.uk/stuff/images/cocklights.gif

(Not sure if NSFW, its a multicoloured flashing phallus symbol, so depends on how prudish your workplace is)

The Quantum of car lists: Storage firm drives into autonomous vehicle data logging


Re: So thinking ahead to what is happening in the printer market...

> You're suggesting that in future people won't have any control over any aspect of their personal transport except for where it goes.

That's a dangerous assumption to make. Firstly I suspect the only "control" over where it goes you will get will be a nicely curated and filtered choice, you won't be able to overrule what locations are available, or if you want to take a route it does not list.

Secondly, you won't be able stop a third party overruling where you go. When you are not in control, someone else is. In the case of a car, it is the "driver", which would be automated and under direct control by a third party (company, government, whatever) in this case. That is completely different to you being in direct control over the vehicle.

I sure intend to never set foot in an autonomous car, and what gives me hope is that pretty much everyone I have talked about it agrees with me. It seems there is only a minority of nerds who really are into this dystopic future (and nerds are a minority themselves), the others pushing for it are authoritarians salivating at the control they will have over others.

The freedom to move yourself (and loads) great distances however you want is one of the few base freedoms left for people, and most really care about it.

The closest I have seen to people being happy with an "autonomous" car is one that can do basic things like follow traffic on a motorway or handle stop-and-go rush hour, both of which are tedious and not particularly enjoyable. However in these cases the autonomy does not supersede the human, it is there to assist when requested.

OnePlus 6T: Tasteful, powerful – and much cheaper than a flagship


Re: Dumb dumb dumb

> Removable storage is mainly useful because it's *removable* --- meaning, I can take the card out and stick it in a fast PC reader.

Indeed, I do that all the time to move photos/videos taken with the camera off the phone and onto my PC.

It is also really useful for migrating to a new phone. All my personal stuff is on the SD card already, all I have to do is click "export contact list to sd card" (and if I feel like, export my installed apps to the SD card as well).

Then stick the SD card in my new phone, import contact list and apps, and done. All my data is already there.

It isn't really for the extra storage, as most phones have decent internal storage. The nice thing however is that you can take as many photos/videos as you want, and if you fill up the SD card, the phone keeps working. You can even temporarily switch to internal memory as a reserve area, so you can carry on taking photos/videos of the event, while being aware that you need to empty it out to the PC when next possible.

Nothing worse than filling up the phones internal memory, and then you have to delete stuff before you can use the phone again.

Needless to say, I only buy phones with removable SD card, sim and battery (and a headphone jack), so most of the "top end" market doesn't cater to me.

My hoard of obsolete hardware might be useful… one day


Iomega Click of Death

Aaah yes, the Iomega Click of death (CoD).

Basically a disk would have misaligned tracks, then a zip drive that tries to align with the disk by reading these alignment tracks would keep retrying by repeatedly slamming the heads in and out of the disk (i.e. bring the heads to "park" and back again). This is not supposed to occur very often, and every drive had a set number of park cycles it could handle before the heads would not longer align properly. However Iomega designed the system to handle enough cycles to last the age of the drive, assuming an upper bound (+extra slack just in case) for number of cycles over its lifetime (like MTBF for disk drives).

However these disks made the drives cycle through the head parking so many times, it would use up the design limit of park cycles long before the drive itself was dead, causing the heads of the drive to misalign themselves, but the drive to otherwise work fine.

These heads would then corrupt the alignment tracks on every other good zip disk that was inserted, causing those disks to have misaligned tracks. Those disks would go to other "good" drives, the misaligned tracks would mess those drives up, and so on... It was like a hardware based virus(*)

Dear lord, that caused so much trouble back in the day. I was working in Graphics design, and pretty much the entire industry used ZIP drives. Your 300dpi TIFF for print was not going to fit on a floppy, it would take you a day to send it over the 56k modem or ISDN line (and cost you a bomb in telephone and internet fees), and consumer PC CD burners were still a dream. So people mailed disks to you (or if urgent, brought it in themselves).

As a result, the CoD was a massive pain, because of the nature of it "infecting" healthy disks and drives, meant print shops, who would receive a ton of these disks in the mail, which they had to use to load up the clients images for print, basically became massive CoD incubators.

I personally believe it was the cause of the Iomega ZIP drive stalling as a storage medium. Had that not happened, I could have seen ZIP disks and their descendants replacing floppies completely. Hell, the 2GB Jaz drives were better than CD's, because they were re writable, had more storage, and were hard encased, but the reputation of Iomega was ruined too far at that point.

(*) I actually suspected at the time that it was a very clever hardware virus. Someone (a competitor perhaps?) realised this flaw in the design of the ZIP system, and purposefully made a few disks with messed up alignments (it would be relatively easy to deliberately modify the first "Genesis" Zip drive heads to be misaligned enough to cause the problem) . They could send the disk to a printers, knowing that it would spread from there, or just leave them for people to use ( ZIP disks were like floppies, but much more expensive, so people would format and re-use them all the time, even ones they found left in the toilets). By the time people realised it was a problem, and what the actual problem was, and what caused it, it was be impossible to work out where it originated from. If it was a deliberate ploy, it was truly masterful in its elegance and execution.

Icon because its a Friday, and I really need one due to the trauma that has now been recalled from the depths of my mind!

Google: All right, screw it, from this Christmas, Chrome will block ALL adverts on dodgy sites


Re: Still worse than an ad blocker (by design)

> You realize you are writing this on a website which is kept alive by ads, right?

The reg also provides something of value. I am sure they can find other methods of raising the money to pay for everything if ads vanished tomorrow. Perhaps offer paid subscriptions? I am sure there is quite a number of people willing to part with a little bit of money per year for the site, in exchange for not having all the tracking and adverts.

I remember once upon a time (when Bitcoin was brand new), there was an idea for a browser plugin, where you would "top up" your account with some BTC, then sites that would like you to pay to access/subscribe would prompt you with a request for $x amount, which you could accept or deny. If you accepted the amount was automatically deducted from your account and sent to the sites BTC address, and access granted (and you could save the site, so in future it would not prompt you unless the price/terms changed).

The "micropayment" model was to be a replacement for the ad-based model. Bitcoin now is too expensive in transaction fees to send a few pennies to a site for access, but I actually think the idea isn't a bad one.

In exchange for not being tracked and having ads shoved down my throat, I can pay some money to the site from my wallet, without having to keep signing up and sending my payment details all over the place. You could even set it up to be "per access" payment, or just a standing order for a subscription to as much access as you want.

Nikola Tesla's greatest challenge: He could measure electricity but not stupidity


Re: country & western singers

> Clearly the list of those at whom an out-of-control autonomous car should aim are as follows, in order of priority

To be honest I find the whole question a bit silly. In my opinion, If the autonomous car is out of control, then by definition, even if it can make a decision on who to kill, it can't actually control the vehicle to take aim.

If the autonomous car still has control over the car, why wouldn't it decide to not kill anyone? It could aim to miss everyone, or just stop. One of the main things autonomous car enthusiasts go on about is how AI self driving cars will be millions of times better than human drivers and their puny animal brains. It will be able to stop faster, it will always drive at a speed fitting the road conditions, predict events better, and be so much safer, etc... i.e. the autonomous car is smart enough to never get into a position to have an accident in the first place.

Assuming all the above is actually achieved in the future (personally as a non techno-fetishist, I am skeptical), the only time the autonomous car has to make a decision about who to kill is if things have gone badly badly wrong. Basically we are talking about a hypothetical situation where the autonomous car still has enough control of the vehicle to use it to kill someone, but for some reason cannot use that control to avoid killing anyone (I don't know, suddenly a large group of people, all in a line and easily distinguishable, instantly appear just metres away from the car? Even then, either the car can hit the brakes and stop, or it can't, and it will skid straight into the group with no control over who exactly it hits).

Barring a malfunction (or it being hacked) that renders the AI car homicidal in intent, I can't actually see a use case for where the autonomous car has to make such ethical decisions.

And on that cheery note. Happy Friday, almost pint o'clock!


The banknote in question

Also, if anyone is interested, the banknote in question is the Serbian 100 dinar note. Here is a hi-res scan:



> You might even understand it what it's for. Children will wonder what the heck it means and eventually ask their parents to explain it to them.

It was in fact those banknotes that made me ask that question when I was a kid. In addition to Tesla on one side, you would have his Tesla coil printed on the other side, or the schematic of his poly-phase generator.

I thought it was cool, and asked my dad about it, and in addition to explaining it to me, he took me to the Tesla Museum in Belgrade, where I got to see all his old experiments being demonstrated, including the poly-phase generator, and an absolutely massive Tesla coil (it was a good 3 odd metres tall).

They would give you fluorescent tubes to hold, and power on the coil. In addition to the sudden tingly feeling and hair standing on end when powered up, you would get lightning bolts out of the machine, and the fluorescent tubes actually lit up in my hand, with no connectors! You could swing it round like a light saber (and of course, I did a bit). I thought it was all amazing, like magic, but with actual understanding behind it (I just had to learn).

There were other experiments, including an incandescent lamp attached to nothing but a coil wound antenna, which was lit up by a transmitter a metre or so away, wirelessly. Dancing metal eggs, a recreation of his remote controlled boat, a model scale demo of a 3 phase power infrastructure (model power station, generators, step-up/step-down transformers, overhead lines, and model homes being powered at the ends), and many others.

That was the moment I got hooked into science. It drove me to learn and understand all, and it is still my goal to build myself a tesla coil (and a tesla turbine, which was another cool piece of kit).

Alas, in the UK there was not much demand for skilled engineers, all the EE stuff was being rapidly offshored to the far east, so for uni my dad recommended I go into computers instead.

As a result, instead of studying EE at uni, I did CompSci. Rather than sparks flying at the office, I spend my days behind a desk shuffling entropy around (and now it is my turn for the jobs to be offshored), but I still remember and am grateful for what inspired me to go into the hard sciences.

Alas, the Tesla museum ran out of funds and shut down in the late 90's/early 2000's. It has since been refitted and reopened, but I don't know if they still have the same demonstrations as I saw. I've been told now its more "interactive games" and less actual demos. Plus I don't think modern health and safety would tolerate firing up huge tesla coils with kids next to it grinning and holding tubes, but I am hopeful. Next time I am down there I might pop in, see how things have changed.

Should a robo-car run over a kid or a grandad? Healthy or ill person? Let's get millions of folks to decide for AI...


Re: Important 'cause...

> Exactly my opinion having been there (and you can leave out the asterisks, I got as far as Oh F <crash>).

Interesting, as I am currently recovering from a crash I had less than a month ago. My experience was the opposite. As the crash was happening it seemed time slowed down immensely, and I had all the time in the world to make decisions.

My problem wasn't making a decision. As you mentioned, the problem was that I couldn't really make the car react fast enough to do anything apart from pick where the inevitable impact was going to hit (the car was already skidding so there was limited grip to do any corrections). I managed to slow it down a bit, and managed to position the car so that the impact would be as far from me as possible (front passenger side, which was unoccupied), and that is about it.

Although I do agree, the exact words used when I realised what was about to happen was "oh F***", then had the crash. Not the most eloquent of potential final words, I admit, but it isn't like anyone would have heard it anyway.

I only have one anecdote about having a crash (and I don't really want to deliberately put myself in that situation in order to get more datapoints), so it is interesting to hear others stories. Although I will say I never realised quite how fast 60mph actually is until I was approaching a wall at that speed with limited control. When normally driving it always felt quite slow.

BepiColombo launches, Russia ponders next lift-off, and 50 years since Apollo 7 got its feet wet


Re: exploring Mercury

Not unless we find a very cheap way of propelling mass out of planet orbits. Your mining operation would need to propel all the mining equipment and humans/robots to Mercury, land it there, set up the mine, and start mining ore.

Next step, is whether you want to propel the ore into orbit back to earth for refining, or refine it there. It would be better to refine it there, otherwise you are wasting energy propelling unwanted dregs into space. However then you need refining infrastructure on planet, which is an even more complex undertaking.

Basically, by the time you send your basics to Mercury, set up your mining/refining operation, then ship the mined good back to earth, the cost of the elements would be astronomical.

You would have to find some really rare element (by earth standards), like a room temperature semiconductor, that would make the whole thing worthwhile.

If it is not some crazy unobtanium you have found, but some precious metal like gold/platinum, the moment you discover the massive haul, and start your operation to ship it to earth, you will find the price drops on the markets due to the new supply, so you may not end up making a lot of money on your venture.

It is more likely we will start mining asteroids before we start mining operations on other planets. Asteroids have a far lower gravity well, making them relatively easy to ship the mined ore to a central point for processing.

And as a final point, I just realised that anyone who controls the technology to put random lumps of metal in earths orbit and have it land somewhere on the surface has all the basics of a powerful weapon, something akin to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinetic_bombardment .

Then there is the worry of non deliberate bombardment (i.e. a lump goes astray accidentally and hits the earth in an uncontrolled fashion), can you imagine the legal liability for the mining company that would result from such an accident? If the shipping costs don't bankrupt you, the liability and insurance costs probably will.

So IMO there are a lot of hurdles to pass (and not just technological, but social) before we can reliably have off planet mining operations (icon cos of what happens when a random lump of metal impacts the earth surface)

Apple macOS Mojave: There's goth mode but developers will have to wait for the juicy stuff


Re: The desktop is now legacy

> What the hell is wrong with these people?

They no longer have Steve Jobs, slapping them about and calling them out for stupidities, followed by making absolutely sure everything is exactly how he wants it, to the point of perfection?

Steve, like Linus, was apparently quite the abrasive character, but the results speak for themselves. Apple without him hasn't really blazed much of a trail anymore, nor do they seem to put the same effort and diligence into their work.

And I say this is a non mac user (the icon gives it away). I remember the old "Power Mac G5" towers, disassembled one that was being broken for spares. That was one of the most beautifully put together machines I had ever seen. The quality, the design, the thought put into almost everything to the detail. It blew away every other PC manufacturer, and was of a standard I expected in to see in industrial machinery (I was so impressed I actually kept the case, and retrofitted an ATX motherboard. I use it as my main PC to this day). I got the feeling that Apple hired the right people for the jobs that needed doing, then managed them to success. That is now gone, IMO.

GitLab gets it, grabs $100m to become $1bn firm


Re: private gitlab servers

Not to mention that if you want your own private server, you can look beyond GitLab. There are a bunch of "GitLab-like" clones out there.

I personally deployed Gitea ( https://gitea.io/ ) because I wanted to upgrade from just a git repo to something with a web interface, and allow some basic project management. However there are other open source projects with a similar tack, so you can use whatever you fancy.

Scrapping UK visa cap on nurses, doctors opened Britain's doors to IT workers


Re: What's that sound ? Brexiteers expoding.

> I'm afraid I don't quite understand that line of reasoning - being a member of the EU does not stop the UK permitting immigration from the Commonwealth, or anywhere else, on whatever terms the UK wants. Or have I misunderstood you?

It is a lot easier for EU migrants to get a job and residency then non EU migrants. As an EU citizen they have a right to work and reside in the UK visa free. Indeed it cuts both ways, I can just pop down to Germany for a job, rent a place and reside there just as I would if I moved to another part of the UK (at least until Brexit).

Non EU migrants don't have this ability, so they are disadvantaged. Brexit will change that, and if it is a "hard Brexit", then EU migrants would have to jump through the same hoops as the rest of the world to go to the UK, and most would probably not bother and just find work in Germany or another EU country.

> I am a non-white Leaver. I and many like me voted specifically to leave the whites-only immigration club and open up immigration to fellow Commonwealth people.

This is actually a very common thing in my experience. Pretty much every Asian family I know are hard core Brexiteers, and as one of them explained to me, they have no connection with Europe, no cultural or other ties at all, and are more than happy to replace the EU with a freer trade/immigration agreement with the commonwealth, who speak English, have familiar legal structure, and for which they have cultural, family and other ties with.

They felt this was not possible to have while in the EU, because of EU agreements preferring EU immigration (I don't know if this is true, but it is what they believe).

Interestingly, from my experience, it seems Brexit voters are divided into 3 main (mutually incompatible) groups:

1. The "bring back our sovereignty" group, rallied against the EC Bureaucracy, the EU's perceived undemocratic nature, having laws written by others, etc.... Against the Political EU side of things (i.e. forming a United states of Europe), but happy with a free trade/movement of people agreement across the continent, and continued cooperation. "Keep it strictly business" type of idea, and generally favour "soft Brexit".

2. The "Immigrants out" voters, for whom immigration was the only reason to get out of the EU, with the goal that out of the EU, the borders will be under UK control (and therefore locked down), all the immigrants will be kicked out and there will be more jobs for British people. Pushing for "hard Brexit".

3. Commonwealth immigrants, who voted Brexit with the idea that it would increase immigration from their home countries, as Europeans stop migrating to the UK (or start leaving), freeing up positions for them. Generally for "hard Brexit", but happy for any agreement that benefits non EU immigration.

Before Brexit the above three were united in a common goal, but once they have achieved it, I suspect they will fall out quite badly, as their three visions for the UK cannot be reconciled together. Group (2) I suspect will be the most disappointed, as leaving the EU most likely won't result in less migrants, just less European migrants.

Seeing as non EU migrants will generally be cheaper than EU migrants, I think the UK may well see a marked increase of immigration after Brexit, in an attempt to stall any economic recession by driving down wages (and therefore business costs) to make the UK more globally competitive.

Silence! Cybercrime's Pinky and the Brain have nicked $800k off banks


Re: How could they know what kind of keybord was used?

> I think they typed Russian words, onto a physically Russian keyboard, but with the OS set to map those keys to the equivalent English layout.

Indeed likely. I use a similar trick with important passwords, switching to Korean or somesuch language, but typing my password on my UK keyboard. The result on the other end was basically unintelligible.

It is basically security by obscurity (you need to know the mapping used, and that mapping was done), but it is a useful layer on top of a good password and other security practices.

Canny Brits are nuking the phone bundle

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Re: I never quite understood why one would get a bundle

I never understood it either. I once worked it out. In order to get the latest Samsung (I think it was the note II at the time), I would have had to sign up for a 24 month contract at £45 a month.

The phone could be bought for around £300 at the time if I remember correctly, whereas it would have cost me a total of £1080 over 24 months to get the bundle (If I didn't exceed the bundle data/minutes/SMS limits, and didn't do any roaming). Assuming retail price for the phone, the rest of the bundle would have cost me £780 in total, or £32.50 a month.

Instead I bought it outright, and took a rolling monthly "sim only" contract at 15 a month. It seemed like a better financial deal, with the ability to leave in a month without penalty if a better deal comes along.

Nothing worse then being locked into a contract for 24 months. The provider doesn't bother treating you well, because they know you can't leave without a hefty charge, so they can push you further knowing you will tolerate it.

The phone is not protected, so if you break it before the contract expires, you still have to pay the full bundle cost (+ get another phone), and if better cheaper deals come along, you can't take advantage to switch.

Not to mention is that until the "bundle" is paid off, the phone is not yours, but theirs. So it is locked, so you can't use another sim (e.g. if you go abroad and want to avoid roaming costs), and usually you can't unlock/root/reflash the OS either.

I remember finding out that T-mobile would install their own root SSL certificate and MITM all data through their proxies, ostensibly to reduce bandwidth usage, but you could not remove this (IMO) gross violation of privacy and security risk. It was baked into "their" phone via custom firmware, and there wasn't a thing you could do about it until the bundle was complete and they would give you the codes to unlock the phone (and even then, getting the codes out of them is an exercise in pulling teeth).

Basically downsides all round for the customer, but a lot of benefit for the bundle providers, from my vantage point. I am surprised people bought bundles at all, perhaps those who just looked at the monthly cost and considered it cheaper than the upfront purchase, with no concern for total cost of ownership.

Lyon for speed, San Francisco for money, Amsterdam for fun: the best cities to be a techie


Are electric car charging points that important?

I mean, they seem to include electric car charging points as an important "techie" metric, but I don't see what electric cars have to do with techies (Sure, they are "tech", but so is any other piece of complex machinery).

I sure have no interest in them, and most techies I know don't either. Maybe 2% of those I have met through work have an interest in BEVs, but most seem happy to cycle, take public transport, or are quite the petrolheads (usually not for commuting, just tinkering with motorcycles/cars).

I actually followed the list to the RS website (RS actually has a blog now, damn... I remember when it was just electrical components, and to use their digital catalogue they would send you a CD in the mail). They provide a list and methodology (which is nice). The list is:

Fixed Broadband Speed

- Mobile Speed

- Cybersecurity Commitment

- ICT Development

- Quality of Living

- Average Tech Salary

- Property Affordability

- Gender Pay Gap in Tech

- Electric Car Charging Points

- Commute Time

Not too bad actually, but I still think the charging points metric is superfluous on its own, better to have removed it (or at least added "quality of public transport", "bicycle friendly", "car friendly" to the list), in my opinion.

Android data slurping measured and monitored


Re: recaptcha?

> These companies are effectively enforcing a totalitarian google surveillance.

And its getting worse. More and more services online require me to enable Google recapcha and solve it. Quite apart from the fact I despise giving my time and effort for free to train up Google's AI image detection system, there are the implications for privacy, security (I mean, pulling in third party JS scripts from cross domains is bad, and should not be done) and tracking that you mentioned.

The problem is I don't know what can be done. The masses are not aware of it, and if they are, they don't really see the problem (until it is too late). While many "modern" developers seem to be completely lazy and will just use any bloated framework they find online without even considering the security, privacy and other implications of doing so.

I am finding out that I am getting locked out of more and more services unless I enable Google spying, because they have "upgraded" to use recaptcha. Even things to do with my bank (thankfully not for my actual online banking, yet) and other services that would be considered critical for modern living.

A lot of sites now offer the "Log in with facebook" option, which of course means, that FB's javascript is running on the site scanning and spying on what I do, even if I don't have an account with them. This is getting out of hand, quite frankly.


Re: Incognito mode?

One thing I noticed is that in incognito mode, Google maps and youtube remember when I clicked "I accept" to their updated privacy policy, whereas in a browser that properly keeps me anonymous, they have to re-ask me every session (as they have no record of me agreeing before).

Also, Google maps on incognito mode remembers the last location I looked up and auto-loads it, whereas the other browser session always loads Google maps from a guessed location based on GeoIP.

Youtube remembers what videos I watched and recommends similar ones to me across incognito sessions, whereas that does not happen with the other browser.

So, there are my little anecdotes to add to the topic. I have suspected for a long time that "Incognito Mode" was just a placebo really, and while it may reduce the amount of spying, it doesn't not eliminate it.

My solution was multiple pale-moon profiles, including a "dirty" one with noscript (a must!), and which clears all history, cache and cookies on session close, and I don't really use Chrome.

I am sure even that is not 100% spying free, what with browser fingerprinting, etc... but it is a damn sight better than the alternative.

The best thing I found was to disable Javascript. Many many tricks used to bypass security and track you involve using JS on the client side. Alas many sites don't work at all without the crutch of JS, so noscript and a selective whitelist of the minimum JS required to get the content you want is my normal method of browsing.

Abracadabra! Tales of unexpected sysadmagic and dabbling in dark arts


Re: Case sensor

> Can you run a disk without the top of the case?

Heh, I used to to do that with old disks that were destined for scrapping (they were fine, but company policy on data destruction meant we had to wipe then destroy the drives). See how long they would last with the top off. In some cases pretty darn long actually (a couple of weeks of badblocks testing), assuming the area they were operated in wasn't too dusty.

Once I had the bright idea to fit a plexiglass top to a disk and use it in my casemod (which was a completely clear plexiglass mini tower case, complete with blue LEDs, which had just come out on the mainstream market, so had to use some).

It worked well for a year or so. but my limited fabrication skills (a Dremel and my hands) meant I didn't get the fit perfect, so dust and dirt would get in between the gaps, and the drive eventually failed, to be replaced with a standard top one. Still, it looked amazing watching the speed the arm would move around on the spinning platters, especially if it would start swapping. I found it mesmerising.

So, in short, yes, they can work, but only for a short time, so not very useful for actual data storage/access.

Also, modern drives with many platters stacked close together, or the ones filled with helium or whatnot, probably can't be run with the case off at all. The drives I talk about above are 40-80gb, so relatively more hard wearing than modern multi TB drives you can get.

Icon, cos its Friday!


Re: Case sensor

Once I did the same thing with a tower box, but it involved a fist bang on the top rather than a mallet.

The PSU fan was on its way out, and would get stuck when the machine was turned off for an extended period of time. So when someone turns off the PC and leaves it off overnight, in the morning the PSU fan won't spin up unless you give it some taps to get it started ( I guess the PSU would detect the fan not working, and cut out to prevent overheating/fire hazard).

The PSU was mounted at the top of the tower, so the lazy "fix" was to power on the box and thwack the top of the case and get the fan spinning, after which it would work until left off for a few hours.

Fun fact was you had to get the timing right as well. If you wait too long before the power on and thwack, the PSU would cut out before the fan started spinning. Likewise you power on and thwack too early, the fan hasn't been powered up and won't start spinning, and then it would cut out. So for those not in the know of what the problem was, it seemed like a magic touch. Hearing other people in the office thwacking the box before they would come and ask me to do it was quite funny.

It was a "low priority" fix, primarily because the desktop was scheduled to be replaced in the next hardware refresh, and the PSU replacement was a fiddly job, involving removal of the motherboard to get the PSU out.

This kind of fixing is quite common, so much so it even has its own term "Percussive maintenance", which I first heard on a (now old) comic:


Facebook Messenger backdoor demand, bail in Bitcoin, and lots more


> No concerns that the Feds will misuse the backdoors to spy on victims?

That's not a bug, that's a feature! (in their eyes)

Nvidia shrugs off crypto-mining crash, touts live ray-tracing GPUs, etc


Nvidia never was much good for mining

From what I remember from the Cryptomining community, the preference was for AMD GPUs. Something about their architecture made the hashrate better per watt than anything Nvidia could do.

I don't know the details, because I never really got into GPU mining, but if the majority use AMD GPUs, it does not surprise me that Nvidia doesn't have much presence in the space, nor that they attach much importance to it.

It isn't like they are going to completely revamp their architecture just for the Crypto miners, it isn't worth the investment, especially if it results in worse performance in other sectors where they are making wads of cash as well.

Japanese dark-web drug dealers are so polite, they'll offer 'a refund' if you're not satisfied


Re: Japanese Dark Web Prostitution?

> I have lived in Japan for nearly four decades but it never ceases to amaze me. I recently read that exchanging money for sex is legal so long as the sex is manual, oral, or anal. Vaginal penetration is illegal. Inscrutable, eh what?

Wait... "Manual" sex? As opposed to what? Automatic sex? Would automatic sex involve the use of power tools? Or sexbots? If automatic sex is with sexbots, would it qualify as prostitution at all?

Laws everywhere are inscrutable and illogical and haphazard from what I have seen. I am quite frankly astounded society does not collapse on itself more often.

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


> The idea as I've presented it is probably unworkable. But maybe with some tinkering ...

Actually no. It is perfectly workable. In fact that is how cars in the 90s were made. Lots of discrete systems and components, hanging of a bus and communicating with each other (except without the "CSM", because who would want that in a car?). It was perfectly possible to disconnect/replace the traction control/ABS/Engine/Transmission ECUs and still have the rest work. Which is why these cars make excellent doners for kit/replica cars nowadays.

Try to use any important bits from a modern car in a replica or kit car and you will find it a massive PITA, usually all the core bits are intergrated into one master ECU, and removing/changing bits and pieces makes the whole thing throw a wobbly and refuse to work. Getting such hardware to work usually involving making your own hardware/software equivalent systems, which is usually too expensive to be worth it.

This started from the 2000s onwards, integrating things like transmission, engine and anti-lock brake ECUs into one. Slowly they took this to the extreme, where it is pretty much impossible now to disconnect a single part of a cars system without the whole thing failing. A bunch of enterprising chaps have developed "defeat devices" for some of these systems, which fool the ECU into thinking the original system is still present, but even that is getting harder and harder to do, especially with the CSM module being tightly integrated. I guess they would not want you defeating that easily.

From my perspective, I would never want to buy a car that is always on connected, or that has a data plan and a privacy statement for your collected data, so I guess I will stick with pre-CSM cars.

As per your suggestion, what should be made a requirement is the ability to disconnect/replace any such CSM modules from a car and have it still work (personally I would like to go back to the 90s "distributed ECU" model, with modern components). It is technically feasible to this , but I strongly suspect that governments and the powers that be would not want it to be made easy.

Too much potential benefit for them to be able to ask the car manufacturers for backdoor access to historic vehicle data (or possibly direct vehicle access), especially if non-compliance could result in said manufacturer not being able to sell in that market.

Blast from the past: Boffins find the fastest exploding non-supernova star


Re: Astronomical Events in UK

Saying that though, the days before and after that one have had nothing but clear skies day and night, and out here the French actually turn off the streetlights after 1am, so you get some amazing dark sky views. So I still get some better views than I have ever managed in the UK. Next time I will bring my gear and try to take some photos.

That is something at least. Round my part of the UK they replaced the sodium streetlights with those god-awful glaring white LED ones, which never turn off at night. It is so bad you can't even see a single star anymore, but at least you can make out the moon (if it isn't cloudy)

To make it worse, the white streetlight now enters my bedroom so brightly it affects my sleep, so now looking to get blackout blinds just to not have light pollution in the house.

Alas my gear has spent the last few years gathering dust, and the way things are going, opportunities to make use of it are getting rarer and rarer.

I am beginning to think being an amateur astronomer is a bit masochistic in this day and age. You spend a lot of effort and money on kit, you end up staying up till odd hours at night and/or freezing your bollocks off outside waiting for the event, you constantly come against bad weather and the rest of humanity (that seems to love to light up the night as bright as the day), and the only place left you can really live to enjoy your hobby is so far out the sticks you would have to adopt a hermit lifestyle in a log cabin in the middle of nowhere.

... I still enjoy it though, in those rare moments when the universe aligns with my goals.

Pint because I could really do with one right now, its Friday!

UK surgeon suspects his PC was hacked to target Syrian hospital


"I wonder, is there anyone investigating Dr. Nott for supporting what are likely terrorist factions? Just because our govs do it doesn't mean we can, or can we?"

Of course you can.

The phrase "One mans terrorist is anothers freedom fighter" comes to mind. It can be read as each individual, but it also applies to an entire state.

For example, If Turkey sees the Kurds as terrorists and is bombing them to pieces, then it is fine for citizens of Turkey to support that effort, in any way possible. Those who support the Kurds in Turkey will be labelled terrorists or terrorist sympathisers, and in some cases have already been sent to prison.

However if another country does not see the Kurds as terrorists, then that countries citizens are free to support the Kurds, without fear or arrest or prison.

(However don't go traveling to any countries that do see them as terrorists, as you could be arrested as a terrorist sympathiser under anti terror laws).

Of course, as you can see with the situation with Turkey and NATO, when two opposing opinions on whether a group are terrorists clash between allies, odd things result (like NATO shipping weapons to Kurds, to fight a NATO member, who themselves buy NATO weapons). In that scenario the only people happy are the defense industries.

The UK does not see the "rebels" in Syria as terrorists, so it is perfectly fine and legal for the Dr to support them as much as he likes. Sure, if he went to Syria, he may be in trouble with the law as a terrorist sympathiser, but within the UK it is perfectly fine.

It isn't like Syria is going to declare war on the UK for supporting terrorism or harboring terrorists, and any attempts by Syria to extradite people like the Dr. on anti-terrorism laws would most likely be laughed at.

Robot cars will kill London jobs – but only from 2030, say politicans


Re: Driverless cars.

> Why are they replaced so often?

> It's at 11.6 years on this continent, and rising.

I suspect two reasons (based on my anecdotal experience):

1) A lot of cars are bought on finance now. A lot of people have to "keep up with the Jones" and drive around in a flashy new car, usually bought on a 3 year lease, or some kind of credit, then they trade it in for a new model.

Then you got the (fewer) enthusiasts driving around in classics that are 20+ years old, so you get an odd average like 7.5 years for a cars age.

2) Rust. The UK is a very wet country. I bought a 2003 car recently, paid a bit over the average price for it due to being in really good shape, when I took it to the local garage they were amazed at how little corrosion was on it for its age.

A few months later I took it to a garage in the south of France while I was there, and they told me they had never seen such a rusty car of its vintage before.

Cars don't last long here, it is far more common in the UK to have cars that are mechanically sound, but unfit for the road due to rusting through, while on the continent (especially further south) cars usually last much longer.

Indeed I know people who actually come here, buy rusted MOT failures and strip them for parts to sell in Europe (95% is the same, apart from the headlights and some RHD specific things) because generally you get a good quality bag of parts in a rusted tub.

The "European average" includes cars in very dry areas, and in very poor areas, where people will patch up and run cars for as long as they can, which, assuming little rust and access to spare parts, can be a very very long time.

Also it might be cultural. In some places they are not seen as a fashion accessory to be changed every 3 years, but a large investment, that can even be passed down the family line (Indeed my first car was passed down to me that way).


Re: A lot of 'hot air'

> String wires above the road ?

Why not? Its been done for more than 100 years now, and quite a few European cities have them. I have fond memories going on them 15+ years ago.


They work well, and as most buses have batteries on them and are constantly charging, they can in fact disconnect and travel a few miles without being wired up ( I suspect with the improving battery technology, they should be good for even longer range now), not even taking into account those that have an IC engine as well and can work as series hybrids if needed.

Plus you don't have to worry about charging points, and having buses run out of juice.

The UK used to have them as well (from 1911 till 1972), but for some reason they were all shut down:


We already give up our privacy to use phones, why not with cars too?


Re: So drive a..

> The only concern is that governments obsessed with tracking everyone may try and force such cars off the road with stupid "road tax" costs under the guise of pollution/emissions,

They have already started. Under the guise of "emissions reduction", places in Europe have started to restrict cars less than a certain EURO Emission standard.

From the 1st of January this I am no longer able to drive my 80s car into the city (as it predates the EURO standard), and every couple or so years they will up the minimum standard allowed, until all my cars are forbidden. My newest car is from 2003 and it is already stretching the limits of a home mechanic to maintain (too much computer gimmickry), so I won't be buying anything newer.

At the point where I can't use my cars to go to work, it is either "always on connected shitbox", never entering the city (tough as almost all jobs are there), or relocating to another country where they respect privacy (yeah, how many of those exist yet are affordable to non ultra-rich. Monaco is big on privacy for example, but I sure can't afford to live there).

Plus once they do it to the cities, it is not a small step to start restricting all cars (via registration perhaps?). Their ideal wish is to make old cars like horses are now, a kind of toy for the very rich, which have to be trailered on the main roads to and from dedicated tracks, not for practical use day to day or on public roads.

> and that as electric cars (with their highly polluting short life batteries) become more common, that petrol may become scarce - in much the same way as 4-star is nowadays.

Indeed, I suspect so as well. My idea there is to work on converting as many of my cars to run on Alcohol. E85 for the moment (as I can get that at the pump easily for now), but with the ability to run pure alcohol.

Bonus there is that it is a closed carbon renewable resource (so can't claim environmental issues) and humans have expertise making alcohol for thousands of years :-)

If worst comes to the worst, I can brew my own fuel in the backyard, but I suspect there will always be sources of alcohol around.


Privacy, only for your betters

> "In essence, by asking for full price, you ask to purchase privacy,""

And due to "cheap finance " pushing up the prices, I am sure that only the well off can purchase privacy.

So, eventually a world where the rich are free from prying eyes in what they get up to, and a bunch of serfs, spied upon, monitored and "managed" to be most productive.

Thanks, but no thanks. I have no interest to be part of your always on, connected dystopian hell hole.

"I would argue that the people, the demographic who are really nervous about privacy are going to stop driving pretty soon, and the people getting behind the wheel are more digital natives,"

For the record, I only started driving 5 years ago, and have no intention of stopping until I am physically unfit to do so, so with any luck that gives me a few more decades. My girlfriend is of the same opinion, as are a lot more of us "digital natives". I don't know where the spokesperson lives, but just because their little bubble is full of people happy to be violated, doesn't mean the rest of the world is of the same opinion.

Being for/against being spied upon isn't related to age. I would argue it is mostly related to ignorance. People don't realise quite how much they are spied upon. Only when they are burned by it, or they are shown exactly how much info is collected about them, do they turn against the idea.

We are seeing it already, things like Facebook are faltering, people are questioning privacy implications more and more, or just not wanting to be part of the system.

Also, what happens when cars are sold on second hand? Even if you get the initial purchaser to agree to some draconian spying EULA, what about the next person who buys the car? Do they have to sign the EULA? Is it automatically transferred with the car? Then how do you know whose data belongs to who? What if accounts get mixed up and you get each others data?

I know people who bought modern cars second hand (2013 Hybrid), and ended up getting the previous owners twitter account, previous GPS addresses, entire music collection and FB access from the central computer console thing.

Hyperscale oligarchs to rule the cloud as the big get bigger, and the small ... you won't care


> So, as a sysadmin specializing in Openstack deployments and maintenance, how fucked are my employment perspectives for the next five years according to this study?

I think "fucked", but not yet "very fucked" as there is still a few more years of life in it. I say this primarily as I had noted the shift in my career a while ago (As a sysadmin, who then went into openstack deployments and automation).

I am finding less and less work out there as a sysadmin, shorter and shorter duration work, and generally being offered lower and lower salaries (or correspondingly fewer benefits, more and more onerous work, like fewer weekends off, longer on call, etc...) . Those few high paying sysadmin jobs are being being chased by ever more and more people, so are getting hard to come by, and easy to lose as it is "an employers market" as they say.

Whereas devs are getting better and better salaries and benefits. A mate who is out of uni just over two years just landed a job as a Java/JS developer for £90k, free meals every day + amazing benefits, which is more than I get after 13 years as a sysadmin. In the financial sector I've heard of C++/Java devs on 120k+ type salaries.

A dev can easily spin up an OS instance and just configure and deploy. Now with docker and amazon style "compute cloud" they don't even have to bother configuring and operating an operating system.

If something cocks up or they get hacked, just "wipe and redeploy" and carry on, and recruit a decent PR person to spin it, and a "security consultant" to pin the blame on. There is no real need for a sysadmin in the eyes of SMEs.

The only places still hiring sysadmins are the cloud providers themselves, and those with legacy in-house infrastructure, so big businesses, businesses who don't trust their IP in the cloud, such as finance/defense (and even there they are using private/hybrid cloud tech, OpenStack and VMware mostly in my experience). The rest seem happy to not have the headache of their own IT infrastructure, and fewer IT staff on the payroll.

I predict in future you will have few highly paid sysadmins managing public and private clouds, and some cheap contract type low level "support/sysadmins" who manage peoples desktops/laptops/tablets, etc... At least until the next great rotation back from timeshare/mainframes into personal devices.

So yeah, for my latest job, I gave up sysadmin work, took a pay cut and switched to pure development. Hopefully it will unlock higher salaries for me in future. If not, then screw it, might become a car mechanic. The pay is relatively poor, but the skills don't become usless after a couple of years, and garages near me are always chock full of business, and show no sign of abating.

What did we say about Tesla's self-driving tech? SpaceX Roadster skips Mars, steers to asteroids


> External combustion, surely?

I would say no. In a rocket engine, there is a combustion chamber, where combustion happens. That is internal, so rocket engines are internal combustion engines.

Just that rather than acting against a piston, which converts the energy into motion (like in your car), the exhaust gasses propel the payload by blasting straight out of the exhaust nozzle, and letting Newtons laws do the rest.

Essentially internal combustion is defined by the working fluid being acted upon directly. For example, a car engines working fluid is air, which is directly heated by mixing with fuel and igniting, and that does work on a piston that gives you power.

External combustion engines work indirectly on the working fluid via a heat exchanger. For example, a steam engines working fluid is water, but you are heating air, which then heats the water via a heat exchanger (the boiler), that then does work (as steam).

Icon cause, fire, combustion and rocketry! :-D


> More proof the combustion engine is far superior, that would have worked much better in space then these electric ones. Lets burn more coal.

I think you are being sarcastic here, however you are not that far wrong. The Tesla was in fact shunted onto its path by combustion engines, no? Unless Musk has really outdone himself and was using some electric engines (EMDrive, where art thou?), there is a good chance he used chemical fuels combusting to propel his Tesla (ignoring of course, the massive combustion engines needed to loft it into orbit in first place).

So... is this the first Tesla powered by internal combustion? :-D

Wannabe W1 DOW-er faked car crash to track down reg plate's owner


> and why does he want widow on his numberplate?

Similar reason to the guy he wanted to buy it from? Or maybe he owns an early Porsche 911 and wanted an appropriate plate?

Linux Mint 18.3: A breath of fresh air? Well, it's a step into the unGNOME


Re: Eh?

Actually, most people still do connect to the internet via a dial up connection. Broadband connections are still "dial up" (*1), using PPP primarily (never seen SLIP on a modern broadband connection). If you use a broadband router provided by the ISP, it does the low level PPPoA or PPPoE stuff, and you just hook up to it via TCP.

If you are one of those people that uses a router to take care of that for you, then you don't need to read up on Slacks PPP page (you just do networking, probably with DHCP, which is a different page).

However, if you are using a broadband modem (or a router in "dumb bridge" mode) directly (or you want to run slack as your router), you will be configuring PPP settings to access the internet, in which case the page is relevant.

(*1) You still "dial-up" a broadband connection, some of the settings you get from your ISP are a dial up number,the country code number, login username and password, just like back in the days of 33k modems, just without the dialup noise (you can even get that if you don't use an ADSL filter and connect a phone to your landline, but your connection quality will drop). You can even do "on demand" dial up with timeouts, like the old days, but seeing as you pay a fixed monthly cost for the connection, there is little point to that (some security benefits to doing that though).

Oh good. Transport for London gives Capita £80m for WAN, LAN and Wi-Fi


Re: The 2 heads of Worzel ..Slurping WiFI/Daily location data to enforce the BBC Licence Fee?

> They then asked me if I had his new address.

Give them the address to the local cemetery. Would love to do that myself, just to see them try to serve a notice to a graveyard :-)

How's this for a stocking filler next year? El Reg catches up with Gemini


Oh wow, memories. I had three N810s (two in use, one spare), then a N900 (and I would still be using it if it didn't stop booting for some reason). Proper Linux on them, with the build chain, so you could (and I did) compile programs on it, and because you had a standard X server, you could run any Linux software on them, even open office.

I had one as a combo LAMP server for testing/debugging, with svn repo, DHCP and DNS. I could connect to it via ad-hoc wifi and work away where ever I was (usually via the other N810).

I had another as a portable desktop, and set up the X server to accept remote connections. I could also forward specific applications via SSH X forwarding. So in addition to using it as a portable machine, I could hook up to a network and use it as a desktop PC via a thin client.

This was really powerful, long before the masses were talking of being able to plug a phone into a screen/keyboard and have a full desktop, I already had it running and usable. Even the slow 802.11b wifi was adequate for basic terminal server use (don't go watching video over it). And because they didn't mess around with the Linux OS much, I could have all the desktop Linux software on it with no modification.

Not to mention I could code in any Linux supported language. I hacked Perl/Python/PHP and C on it merrily.

The N900 had a smaller keyboard, which I didn't like much (I prefer the N810 form factor, fits better in my hand) but they added a phone, and the SMS and phone apps could be called via the terminal, so I made little scripts, things like automatically sending "Happy New year", "Merry Christmas" bulk SMSes to my contact list, Also scripted a few "Happy Birthday" auto texts, and would pipe the fortune program to SMS for certain people so they got a "fortune of the day".

Once my N900 died, I had to go with Android. Android has ever since been a poor replacement, a reminder of how far backwards we went with flexibility, power, hackability and freedom. I tried the chroot Linux on it, but it always seemed unreliable, bug prone, and not worth the hassle of hacking it together.

I never had to worry about My Nokias spying on me, or shoving ads down my throat, but it is a constant (and increasingly difficult) task ripping all that crap out of Android to make it usable (but still not an OS I would trust with sensitive data). It is getting harder and harder to be able to reflash ROMs, unfortunately.

That is why This Gemini has held my interest for so long. It is like the next incarnation of the Nokias I had (and going further back, to the original Psion, Jornada 720 and the Libretto 20). I have already decided to get one, but will probably wait until it hits production before I purchase it. The first piece of tech I am quite excited about in a while!

Oh, and Merry Christmas to all of you :-)

Open source sets sights on killing WhatsApp and Slack



> It never really took off so I don't understand why making another open source protocol is going to be any different (even if it is 'easy to turn on' for sys admins).

Actually, it took off well, very well. WhatsApp, FBChat, Google Talk and Viber are basically wrappers around XMPP with some customisations, and that is only the ones I am aware of.

The problem is that having an open standard does not automatically mean interoperability. All the above systems could interact with each other, but their owners deliberately don't want to allow that, because the goal is to get users onto "their" platform so they can spy on them and sell the details to whoever.

That is not a technical problem, it is a social one. Creating a new chat network will just mean yet another app to install along with the others. How would you get people to ditch their old whatsapp (for example) for this if all their friends already use whatsapp? It is a catch 22 situation.

Sniffing substations will solve 'leccy car charging woes, reckons upstart


Re: The Future is Nuclear

"The large amount of energy required to isolate Hydrogen from natural compounds (water, natural gas, biomass), package the light gas by compression or liquefaction, transfer the energy carrier to the user, plus the energy lost when it is converted to useful electricity with fuel cells, leaves around 25% for practical use."

If only there was a way to store Hydrogen in a compact, energy dense form. Perhaps chemically linked with Carbon atoms?

I know, we could call them "Hydro-Carbons"!

Only part joking actually. Seems to me that all this money invested in better electric vehicles would be better spent on improving the cycle efficiency of closed carbon cycle liquid fuels (or biofuels). This would instantly allow all current and existing vehicles to become carbon neutral overnight, we could use the existing infrastructure outright as is, with the "couple minute" refuel convenience and long range.

Wins all round, except for those who own shares of battery makers and lithium/cobalt miners.

There is already bio diesel and bio butanol as like-for-like replacements to diesel and petrol (no modification needed), while bioethanol, while easier to make, needs engine modifications on non "flexfuel" cars.

With work on either fuel cells or really efficient series hybrid cars, we could really make a dent in carbon output. We would use liquid fuels as an energy storage/transport medium, rather than now when we just dig it out the ground.

However people in power are too fixated on "combustion" == "bad", to think of alternatives, and this push to battery electric will not only ruin the environment more, it will be less convenient, less range, and would a) require wholesale scrappage of existing vehicles and the infrastructure, and b) a completely parallel electric charging infrastructure side by side (for a long while, until nothing uses liquid fuels anymore), which is very wasteful in monetary (and other terms).

BYOD might be a hipster honeypot but it's rarely worth the extra hassle


Re: academics and PFY's who can bearly produce stubble!

"For those who've not done it, try a Google image search on "dog dyeing". My favourite is the panda-dog. And don't have a mouthful of coffee when that search comes back."

Yeah I did this. Google "helpfully" thought I misspelled "dyeing" and automatically replaced it with "dying". Never saw a more heart wrenching set of images in one go.

Moral of the story, use a search engine that actually does what you tell it to, rather than thinking it is smarter than you (because, it almost always isn't). Alas duck duck go is just as "helpful", so need to find a simple, no nonsense search engine, but those no longer seem to exist.

Saying that, a search for "panda dog" and "tiger dog" did the trick, if you want to see examples of this new fad (I remember a time when they used to dye chicks, and keep them as pets. I think that was the 90s, so these fads seem to come in a cycle).

Ex-sperm-inate! Sam the sex-droid 'heavily soiled' in randy nerd rampage


> Try dating to find someone that definitely doesn't want kids, you'll find it slim pickings.

Just date career women. My past girlfriends don't want kids. Both were super smart lawyers, and very much in the "career woman" mindset. Their idea of a good life is to work hard, make loads of money, and spend it on a good time while traveling the world.

They primarily wanted company to do the above. I guess it depends on your social circles, or my luck (I actually want kids), but women who "just want fun" and don't want to be tied down with a family are a dime a dozen round here.

Actually finding a woman willing to sacrifice her career for motherhood, now that is rare here (London, UK).

NatWest customer services: We're aware of security glitch


Re: Had simi9lar issues

> Trying to op[en a new account with them 2 months ago; it didnt matter how many times they reset the password for us, it kept saying we were entering the wrong password.

That is interesting, because for the last few months I have had the exact same problem. I have been banking with Natwest for years, always with the same credentials, when a few months ago, without warning, no matter how many times I would type it in, it would say I was entering the wrong password. After 3 attempts it would lock me out and I would have to re-register for online banking.

So I have to register again, then it would work (because you can click "continue to online banking" straight from the registration confirmed page, so it doesn't prompt you for credentials), until I logout, then when I try to log in again I get exactly the same error.

It came to be that every time I wanted to log in to online banking, I had to re-register. After doing this 4-5 times, I kind of gave up, and just moved my account across to a competitor, along with all my Direct Debits and savings, thereby ridding myself of this problem (not to mention that my faith in their ability to actually keep my account secure is in doubt, if they can't do something as simple as count the number of characters in my password, I dread to think how the rest of their system is coded).

Nokia updates classic comeback mobe 3310

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> So if it's now 3G enabled, will it have a web browser and email?

Honestly I am not fussed, although it apparently has a web browser (see link below). If it has Bluetooth tethering, I am in for it. I can hook it up to a tablet, laptop or other device for web browsing, emai, apps, etc... depending on what features I need.

I tend to prefer having multiple devices optimised for a certain set of jobs, rather than a single one that does everything in a mediocre fashion (especially if it is expensive and fragile, like my smartphone). The long standby time is a plus as well quite frankly.

It apparently even supports dual sim!



Supposedly it has the Opera web browser, although no support for tethering according to the below link (which is for the EDGE/2.5G model):


Quite frankly, if they make a version with tethering, it will be my next phone. All the benefits of the old mobile phone (hopefully just as unbreakable), with the ability to use it as a modem with any other more advanced device I have.

¡Dios mío! Spain blocks DNS to hush Catalonian independence vote sites


"A Catalan government that uses public funds to organize a referendum that has been prohibited by Spain Constitutional Court (equivalent of US Supreme Court).

You all have to know that the Constitution of Spain stablishes that Spain is ONE SOVEREIGN PEOPLE and ONE SOVEREIGN NATION; This means that no region can assume the sovereignty of the whole Spain People and organize a referendum to decide their auto-determination. THIS IS THE LAW."

A constitution is a piece of paper. Unless (a) all parties agree to abide by it, or (b) it is backed up by violence, it is worthless. The history books (and present reality in the world) is littered with quasi states that are partially recognised (Nagorno-Karabakh, Kosovo, Israel, Palestine, Taiwan, Transnistria for example), and constitutions that have been violated left right and centre to the point of meaninglessness.

So far Spain had been trying to get all parties to abide by it. As that seems less and less likely to happen, they are bring it out the violence. It is a standard procedure, because if Spain says something is unconstitutional, and people go do it anyway, and there is no punishment, then other people may think they can violate the constitution as well.

It is a tricky situation, because by doing this Spain is turning more Catalans against Madrid, which can well cause problems down the line. However if they did nothing, and the Catalans declare unilateral independence, that may inspire other parts of Spain to the same. The Basques in particular may feel emboldened themselves to demand the same.

The question on my mind is this: If Spain ramps up the violence even more, more arrests, more denials of ability to vote, more suppression of independence opinions or talk, more "police action" against separatists. What will the Catalans do? Will they respond with violence? Roll over and submit? Push even harder for independence? Rarely do states peacefully allow a chunk of territory to leave (because that is the first crack in said states dissolution), so usually there is an armed insurrection at some point.

I also wonder where the Catalans suddenly got the bravery to challenge Spain like this. They have been making noises about independence for decades, but never moved towards it.

Usually when a minority in a country challenges the majority like this, and violates the constitution, it is because they have support of a stronger power. Someone who has an interest in an independence outcome, and the money, global political influence and/or army to support it. Without such a backer Catalonia would be crushed, and the Catalan politicians know this (hence they made noise, but no moves towards it for so long).


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