* Posts by Martin an gof

491 posts • joined 27 Jan 2010

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Chap 'fixes' Microsoft's Windows 7 and 8 update block on new CPUs

Martin an gof
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Re: So?

Don't personally use CS (my brother does, and I recognise all you say) but I do use Xara(*), which is Windows-only. My main machine at work is dual-boot Windows 7 / OpenSuse and I use OpenSuse for almost everything else.

I've tried Inkscape (use it at home where there's no Windows at all) and it doesn't quite do it for me, though it's not bad.

My theory as to why this type of software isn't available on Linux is very simple - Linux users aren't used to paying hundreds of pounds for software. Port Xara to Linux and the developers think people would expect it to be free, or at best a few tens of pounds. So they don't.

M.

(*)full disclosure - I came via Acorn's Draw, and Xara's shared heritage really helped the transition.l

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Alert: Using a web ad blocker may identify you – to advertisers

Martin an gof
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Re: Corner shop

(unless the new £1 coin has RFID inside it)

I thought that right at the outset when they said it had a special "hidden, high security" feature which - one report said - would be readable by the likes of vending machines.

Having visited the Royal Mint Experience (Blue Peter badge holders get in free) last week, the "exploded diagrams" of the coin do have a kind of "radio wavey" thing going on, and if you watch the video here you'll see something similar.

M.

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Martin an gof
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Noscript...

I, too, just tried the test and... nowt. nada, zero, dim byd o gwbl. The button, she no work.

No Javascript, courtesy of Noscript.

Temporarily enable script and... the browser's fingerprint is unique among 4,473. Ho hum.

M.

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Customer satisfaction is our highest priority… OK, maybe second-highest… or third...

Martin an gof
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So I got SwithPro widget instead and just tap the wifi icon on the lock-screen to turn it off.

Or, no app, swipe down, tap the WiFi icon, close the phone? I've only ever had one Android phone and it's running Cyanogenmod and that's all I do. No apps involved.

M.

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Alabama man gets electrocuted after sleeping with iPhone

Martin an gof
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Re: so much wrong here...

A earth break in a ring main will still leave everything earthed. And a ring main has a MUCH higher tolerance for overloads.

While the first part is correct, the second is absolutely not. Unfortunately this computer really doesn't like posting to El Reg and barfs if I try to write too much, but consider the case of a ring final in 2.5mm2 / 1.5mm2 protected by a 32A MCB with a break in any one of the conductors anywhere around the ring, and a radial in exactly the same cable but protected by a 16A MCB. 2.5mm2 cable is good for up to 21A, and the power "let through" by a 32A MCB in many fault conditions will damage the cable - possibly invisibly.

M.

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Martin an gof
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Re: and things like chargers tend to have plastic prongs with metal tops.

The video that you link to shows a plug being inserted upside down into the earth socket so that the shutters on the the other two sockets are opened. If the earth pin on the plug was triangular in cross section (or any other shape where the two sides are not parallel), this would not be possible.

Few socket strips actually fully comply with the BS. If they did, the amount of plastic "above" the earth socket would be sufficient to stop the L&N pins slipping down the side of the socket. This also makes it impossible to insert a plug upside-down, far enough to open the shutters.

M.

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Martin an gof
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Re: so much wrong here...

Also UK 32A Ring circuits are far better tested and far safer than the crappy fused spur model

As someone who used to be Part-P registered, firstly they are not "fused spurs", they are radial circuits, secondly, there is nothing wrong with a radial circuit - the fuse is sized for the cable and it is every bit as safe as (and under certain - usually incompetent DIY circumstances - safer than) a 30A/32A ring final circuit, thirdly they are perfectly acceptable in the UK and there is nothing in "the regs" to insist that you can only install sockets on a 32A ring.

Someone else also moaned about 5A plugs. These are also still acceptable, when installed correctly (i.e. on a 5A/6A radial circuit) and are often used for (for example) table lamps and arranged with a wall switch so that table lamps can be turned on and off with wall and ceiling lights.

But the UK wiring system, when correctly installed, is absolutely the best domestic system in the world, can't argue there.

Edit to add Should also have mentioned the Fatally Flawed website.

M.

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Blimey, did you know? It's World Backup Day. But... surely every day is world backup day?

Martin an gof
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Anyone else think the ending of "Inside Out" was just plain wrong?

investing in ever-greater storage capacity is not the answer. Recent research found that 41 per cent of files hadn't been modified in the past three years. [in other words, this is] stale, redundant data.

[...]

...determine what is business critical before backing it up, while deleting data that doesn't drive business value.

Just because something is a few years old and hasn't been touched doesn't mean it isn't valuable (or will be in the future) or is in some way "stale" and can be chucked. We have a similar situation at work to that I have at home - the bulk of my storage at home is what I term our "media archive". Just because baby photos of my child haven't been "modified" in fifteen years emphatically does not mean they are lacking in value. Likewise I am definitely not throwing out the hundreds of slides and negatives my parents and grandparents have created over the years.

Look where wiping "stale, redundant" videotapes got the BBC.

This is interesting too.

And for an absolute hero in the field, you need look no further than Richard Russell.

M.

Mind you, I daren't venture into my attic these days...

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Firefox Quantum: BIG browser project, huh? I share your concern

Martin an gof
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Re: I don't know about lynx and w3m

can anyone point me in the direction of a bare-bones web browser that has absolutely no capacity for interactive stuff like JavaScript

I quite like Netsurf, mainly because it started life on RiscOS. It is still being developed slowly, and as far as I'm aware still has no plans to add Javascript support.

Tools like "NoScript" can, of course, be used to turn off Javascript in Firefox...

M.

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Ex-military and security firms oppose Home Sec in WhatsApp crypto row

Martin an gof
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Re: Let em do it.

it's a lot harder to use "they're giving us infrastructure" to stir up hate

Obligatory Monty Python Reference

M.

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Windows Server ported to Qualcomm's ARM server chip. Repeat, Windows Server ported to ARM server chip

Martin an gof
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Re: pretty pictures

none of the air flow reaches the processor

It's ARM, not Intel ;-)

Even so, do current ARM chips not even need a heatsink?

Nor do I see any PCI slots.

Two motherboard slots with risers fitted clearly labelled PCIEX3 and PCIEX4 and, as others have pointed out, cutouts on the rear (front) of the case.

I also notice a USB B port on the motherboard - maybe something to do with it being an evaluation board?

And two SD card slots just next to it. What are they likely to be for? Are they normal in a server (I have very little experience of servers). As installed in the case shown they are inaccessible.

M.

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Palmtop nostalgia is tinny music to my elephantine ears

Martin an gof
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Re: A man after my own heart

my small stash of leaded solder

It's not difficult to find 60/40 even these days:

CPC sells... loads of the stuff

As does RS

Even Maplin sells the stuff (at a price)

M.

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Martin an gof
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Re: Buyer beware

I tried using my nexus in landscape orientation last night and it was horrible.

I use my 4.5" Moto G in landscape orientation probably 75% of the time. I find the on-screen keyboard much easier in that orientation, and web pages are much easier to navigate (Opera). Stick me a proper keyboard on that and I'd be ecstatic.

M.

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Did you know? Amazon does film production – and it treats those workers like dirt, too*

Martin an gof
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Re: Typical Hollywood

(David Prowse)

Eldest went with some mates on a youth club trip to the Comicon in Cardiff yesterday. Prowse was there, along with a few other minor-ish celebrities. Prowse was acting so grumpy that eldest decided to avoid that queue for signatures and head for the bloke next door whose name I've forgotten, but who (among other things) played the small red spiky alien/cyborg (spoliers!) in the Doctor Who Christmas special Voyage of the Damned (Titanic). Apparently, he was absolutely charming and chatty.

If Prowse really is being shafted by Lucasfilm (or presumably Disney now) then I can understand his grump.

M.

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RAF pilot sacked for sending Airbus Voyager into sudden dive

Martin an gof
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Re: Interesting

I'm not a pilot but it seems to me that if you've engaged the autopilot, it should require a specific action to turn it off again, not simply operating the manual controls

Think about the way cruise control works in a car. You really wouldn't want it trying to maintain speed while you are applying full brake in an emergency, and you wouldn't want to have to think about finding the "off" switch in a similar circumstance.

Touch the brakes or the clutch and the cruise control disengages.

Of course it's much more complicated in a 'plane and I gather there are different degrees of autopilot, ranging from something not dissimilar to cruise control to almost full sit-back-and-enjoy-the-ride.

M.

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CloudPets' woes worsen: Webpages can turn kids' stuffed toys into creepy audio bugs

Martin an gof
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These are located in "the entertainer" shops on the aisle directly opposite the till so are being actively pushed at the moment

Just went on The Entertainer's website and found that all five variants of Cloud Pets are "out of stock" so maybe they have seen the story and have withdrawn them from sale. I'm not popping into my nearest Entertainer store to check if they are still on the shelves!

No obvious warning note on the website though, saying why they are no longer available or telling people to stop using them :-)

M.

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Two million recordings of families imperiled by cloud-connected toys' crappy MongoDB

Martin an gof
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Re: But it's Cloud!

Harry Harrison's "I Always Do What Teddy Says"

The flip side of that is A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer in Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age, a book which also contains somewhat sophisticated 3D printers...

M.

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Machines taught how to 'smell' by new algorithm. How will they cope with shower-dodging nerds?

Martin an gof
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Re: Largely subjective?

(re: taste) IIRC it has been correlated with a particular gene

I'd heard such stories about taste too, but isn't it interesting how these things seem to affect smell and taste more than other senses? I suppose the point I was trying to make was that trying to create a measure of how the "average" person senses a smell misses the point - nobody is average :-)

Regarding the milk thing, I'd always thought it was more of a "learned" response, and certainly not a "faulty switch"! The ability to tolerate lactin (or whatever it is) is always there - it has to be otherwise babies wouldn't survive - but the tolerance reduces if your exposure to the stuff reduces. This seems to be behind those theories that claim an apparent increase in "auto immune" type problems (asthma, allergies) and even susceptibility to coughs and colds might be explained by lack of exposure to allergens and bacteria (i.e. spotless homes). Isn't there a trial at the moment that seems to be suggesting that even severely nut-intolerant people can be "trained" to tolerate nuts, simply by giving them gradually increasing exposure?

That would correspond with the fact that I'm (mildly) allergic to cats - I had a test to prove it - yet when I lived with cats at my parents' house it was rarely a problem. Yes, I'd come up in welts if the things happened to scratch me, but no worse. Now, having lived without cats for some years, I find that I can begin to sniffle and my eyes begin to water if I'm in a house with cats for any length of time.

M.

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Martin an gof
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Largely subjective?

I have often thought that the sense of smell is the least "common" between people, and it does depend to a huge extent on what you are used to. About the only thing that most people seem to agree on is that certain smells are "off" and are usually a warning of rotten food or similar, even if you subsequently learn to ignore it in certain circumstances (cheese comes to mind).

I, for example, get a sharp pain behind the eyes when I smell lavender which I sometimes describe as akin to sniffing vinegar, and prolonged exposure can lead to a headache, but the vast majority of people seem to find the scent relaxing and calming.

It seems to me as if perhaps the underlying mechanisms (software and hardware) that the brain uses to categorise / understand senses have a lot in common(*), just with slightly different inputs, and that perhaps this might help explain synaesthesia at one level and the simple cross-triggering of memories described by the AC above at another. I have wondered if the problem I have with lavender is connected to the brassica problem; the way that some people (me included) taste brassica as unpleasantly "bitter", while others don't.

I've wondered too about the language we use for senses. My own languages are essentially confined to English and Welsh so perhaps others can comment on other tongues, but in Welsh it is not uncommon to "mix up" the words used to describe sensing; thus one might "hear" a smell. It's possible it's a dialect thing I suppose.

(by the way, "oder" in the sub-head? Surely "odour"?)

M.

(*)consider, for example, the "desensitisation" issue - all the senses are able to "mask out" constant inputs if they are relatively low-level; your eyes become insensitive to things that don't move, while reacting quickly to variants; your ears "mask out" background noises; your sense of touch reacts at first to extremes of hot or cold but after five minutes in that "piping hot" bath you begin to wonder about letting in some more hot water; you can completely fail to notice a smell that's a constant, but which visitors comment on immediately (for example, when the farmer's been muck-spreading on the field next-door)

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Boffins exfiltrate data by blinking hard drives' LEDs

Martin an gof
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Re: Root access

Hell, in that scenario, turning four pixels on and off in opposite corners of the screen...

How about flashing the keyboard LEDs?

M.

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Motorola's modular Moto Z: A fine phone for a weekend away

Martin an gof
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"Best" -v- "Good Enough"

I think the "no pressing need" argument is the problem here. Those of us who want photographs a bit better than standard phone cameras - in particular optical zoom and a decent flash - are quite happy to carry around a camera for that purpose, whether that be a full-blown SLR or something small and compact.

Everyone else is happy with what their phones offer. I mean, it's only eleven or twelve years ago that I was carrying disposable film cameras around in my coat pocket, for those opportunistic snaps when I didn't have the SLR handy, and many (most?) phone cameras now match the (daylight) quality I got from those.

My wife has a Canon Ixus, a 160 I think, or a 165, which isn't any more bulky to carry around than the camera back for this phone, takes reasonably good pictures (bit grainy at times), doesn't rely on the phone's battery and has its own memory card. It's the work of a moment to swap a dead battery for the charged spare which sits next to the camera in her bag.

There's even an alpha version of CHDK for it, so you can shoot RAW should you want to.

On the other hand, how about pushing the snap-on module concept to the corporate sector? You could quite easily think of a range of add-ons that would help in (for example) stock control or warehouse management; things like ticket printers or barcode scanners...

M.

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BBC admits iPlayer downloads are broken

Martin an gof
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Re: HTML5

I cannot get iPlayer to do anything unless I install flash.

I had this problem for a while on BBC News pages (which are mostly what I use - programmes I get via get_iplayer). Two things.

If you either do not have Flash installed, or have it "click to activate", just wait for about five seconds and the page will refresh and give you the HTML5 player if your browser is capable. Personally I'd prefer it to be HTML5 first, refreshing to Flash for older browsers, but hey.

This might not happen if you have something like NoScript and have blocked certain sites (can't remember which now, as not at that computer).

You can tell which you are viewing by right-clicking on the window. It should be obvious from the menu that pops up.

Even if the page does refresh, you might find that the HTML5 player doesn't work - I did; it gave me the controls, but just sat there with a spinny thing for ever. It turned out that it uses a different (pair of?) content delivery network(s) to the Flash player and I had to unblock those on NoScript before it would work.

M.

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'Leaky' LG returns to sanity for 2017 flagship

Martin an gof
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Boffin

Re: 18:9 aspect ratio

Or 2:1

Just one of those things. Screen widths have for some years generally been referred to as ratios to nine. It helps visualise the differences without having to convert to a common base, though there are some anomalies:

  • 640x480, 720x576 for TV or 800x600 and 1024x768 for computers is 4:3 is 12:9
  • 854x480 or 1024x576 is 16:9 (these are what SD TV is scaled to when anamorphic widescreen is used - i.e. non-square pixels)
  • the intermediate format 14:9 was once popular
  • 1440x1080 was once a common 12:9 "high definition" format, also used with non-square pixels to give "high definition" 16:9
  • 1280x720, 1600x900, 1920x1080 are all of course 16:9
  • Many "widescreen" films are presented in 21:9
  • On the other hand, that old stalwart 1280x1024 is actually 5:4 which is an ungainly 11¼:9
  • and 1280x800 or 1920 x 1200 (common with projectors I find, though not so common with monitors, worse luck) are 16:10

I thank you.

M.

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BlackBerry sued by hundreds of staffers 'fooled' into quitting

Martin an gof
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Re: @Yank Lurker Legality

Here in the UK (and across the EU IIRC), 20 days/4 weeks is the bare minimum of leave entitlement. Plus public holidays on top, of course.

It's a common misconception that public holidays ("bank holidays") are a statutory entitlement. In the UK, Minimum entitlement is 5.6 weeks (e.g. 28 days for a 5-day-a-week worker) and public holidays can be counted towards the 28. In other words, your employer could shut down on the eight bank holidays in 2017 and only give you 20 days leave in addition.

Of course I'd imagine that most of us here end up working, or at least on-call, on many bank holidays. So long as you get your 5.6 weeks in total through the year, there's no Time Off In Lieu owed for working a bank holiday, and there's no legal requirement to compensate you for bank holiday (or weekend) working with a higher hourly rate or a flat-rate BH payment.

That said, many employers do do such things.

M.

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Nokia's 3310 revival – what's NEXT? Vote now

Martin an gof
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Re: Gotta be the Psion

Do you need the low discharge ones?

Possibly not, but I have standardised on them where possible. With the cameras, for example, it's possible to carry a spare set in the camera case and know that they will be ready for use when required, which wasn't something I could say about the 2900mAh AAs I used to use.

M.

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Martin an gof
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Re: Series 5

The Series 5 was a dreadful device.

The hinge I'll sort of agree with - I had to have my screen cable replaced twice, though the hinge itself was fine (unlike my Series 3, where the hinge did completely break) - but I really don't recall battery drain being a problem, and I don't think I changed the backup battery more than once in the couple of years I made heavy use of my 5mx.

Then again, I did save files to a CF card rather than the internal RAM disc, so even if the batteries did die, my data didn't.

M.

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Martin an gof
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Re: Mr Fixit

any item that actually lasts and doesn't have built-in obsolescence

In terms of a mobile phone, might I suggest a Fairphone?

M.

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Martin an gof
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Re: Gotta be the Psion

Or ditch the AAs (boo) and put in some sort of higher density bespoke module

Why? A low self-discharge rechargeable AA these days holds 2150mAh and costs around £5 for 4, so a pair of AAs (as in the S5) already almost matches the typical mobile phone Lithium battery for energy stored and is a darned sight cheaper. Yes, it's bulkier but the AA was an integral part of the case design and contributed in no small part to the stability of the thing.

Oh, and in an emergency every little corner shop sells Alkaline AAs.

M.

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Martin an gof
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Re: Not the compact cassette.

It only needs updating for wireless comms to allow emailing and printing

Back in the day (1999/2000) I used my 5mx to print to an HP inkjet using the serial to Centronix interface. Worked a treat.

M.

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Martin an gof
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Series 5

If the Series 5 doesn't win a landslide in that list...

I'd probably buy a new S5, even if it was the original specification (perhaps swap the serial port for USB), but an updated S5 would be brilliant. I'm a bit worried about what you could do with the software as 50% of the brilliance of the original device was the OS and built-in apps (worried an updated model might have to run Android), but the form-factor was nigh-on perfect. I did almost an entire PGCE on a 5mx, so impressive was the keyboard. Colour screen with a few more pixels, modern ARM processor, decent chunk of memory, USB, WiFi, maybe a 4G modem, SD slot, fix the screen cable issues, yes update all of those, but

  • keep the form-factor
  • keep the stylus
  • keep the thing running for a week on a pair of AAs

M.

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Installing disks is basically LEGO, right? This admin failed LEGO

Martin an gof
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Re: Not a PC

Lights on cooker outlet:

Unusual perhaps, but in no way dangerous of itself

Yes it is, without a 5A fuse immediately after the outlet. Cooker outlets are fused at 30A or have a 32A MCB and require 6mm2 cable (UK). Even ignoring the connection under the sink it's safe to assume that the cable used to the light switch was probably 1mm2 (because even 2.5mm2 cable would be tight, and 6mm2 simply won't fit), which is good to carry about 11A.

The switch itself will have been at best safe for 10A (some older or cheaper switches are 6A) and would likely not have been able to break the circuit in the event of a short (contacts don't move far enough apart, and at 30A+ may have welded together anyway).

Likewise lamp fittings are usually rated for no more than 10A.

A pure short circuit may well still have blown the fuse / popped the MCB, but the cable and maybe the switch would have been damaged by the energy passing, and probably not damaged in a particularly visible way.

An overcurrent of (say) 40A would probably cause enough heating in the cable to melt the insulation and probably cause anything vaguely flammable nearby to catch fire, well before the fuse decided to pop.

M.

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ITU-T wants video sizes to halve again by 2020

Martin an gof
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Re: End game

is the limit case of video compression just telling a story?

It's ancient wisdom, but as they say, the pictures are always better on radio :-)

There's another crossover point, I think. Reducing the bandwidth (streaming or storage) is always good, but given that the availability of both streaming and storage bandwidth is constantly increasing, does there come a point where it's just not worth bothering? Where the computational requirements of squeezing another 5% reduction in size are outweighed by the hardware required to perform those computations?

M.

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Chrome 56 quietly added Bluetooth snitch API

Martin an gof
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Flame

Marketers being able to target ads is good for everyone concerned: I see ads for things I'm interested in buying...

Are you actually admitting that your buying decisions are influenced by adverts? That you are still interested in an advert for a power drill, even though you already own three?(*) You are one of the very few people that would admit to that. Even when people do watch adverts, I know very few people who would choose a particular product (especially if it's different from their "normal" one) simply because they've seen an advert for it. Most people I know couldn't tell you what adverts for which products they saw even just five minutes ago.

Unless and until I know that I need product type x I do not want to see any adverts for product type x, from any manufacturer of said product. If there are such adverts on a website I usually don't notice them - I've developed a kind of blind spot - even if they are potentially relevant. For TV, I'll do five minutes of washing-up or feeding the washing machine or putting the kettle on and making a pot of tea rather than watching adverts.

When I need product x I will go and do my research and at that point, if a site like Amazon says "people who considered buying x also considered y from a different manufacturer" I'll accept that kind of advert. But not before that point.

Heck, we're so tired of being bombarded by adverts in general that we rarely watch anything "live" these days, except on a BBC channel.

Save my bandwidth. Save my sanity. Turn off the adverts. When I want something, I will go looking for it.

</rant>

M.

(*)Most half-serious DIY-ers that I know own two or three drills; a battery one for 90% of the jobs, a mains one when the battery one won't cope and probably an SDS for the really tough stuff, or a pillar drill if they're that kind of person. I don't want to see adverts for drills until one of the above needs replacing and probably not even then; I'll look through the Screwfix catalogue, check out some details online and pop down to the local counter.

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FYI: Ticking time-bomb fault will brick Cisco gear after 18 months

Martin an gof
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Boffin

Re: MTBF, meet unavoidable entropy

That initialism surely means Maximum Time Before Failure...

The classic example where I work was the original-fit projectors. These were recommended by the company contracted for the fit-out and according to the "manufacturer" data (actually a badge-manufacturer) had MTBFs of 28,000 hours. In our use this would equate to about 10 years. The company (I didn't work for them back then) had nobody who really knew about these things, and I have seen one single email from one person who essentially said "there isn't a projector in the world that would last that long". As you might expect, he was ignored.

When I started here, a large proportion of the projectors (there are over 30) were showing obvious signs of LCD and colour filter failure. This after around 5,000 hours run time. When I finally tracked down the original manufacturer (the badge manufacturers were still claiming 28,000 hours), they admitted that the LCD module had an expected lifetime of just 4,500 hours.

Of course nobody had even begun to think about a capital budget to replace the projectors, and at £5,000 for a complete "optical block", repair was out of the question.

It subsequently transpired that the power supplies started failing at between 7,000 and 8,000 hours, though this was due to dodgy capacitors and relatively easily fixed. The BM quoted me €1,000 for a new PSU.

Long story short, we replaced the LCD projectors with DLP units from a different manufacturer which had (and have achieved) expected lifespans of 20,000 hours, cost about as much to buy new as the cost of an optical block for the originals and used lamps that cost less and lasted twice or three times as long. DLP has its downsides, but in our case it has worked extremely well.

That said, I still have a couple of computers "out there" with original-fit Maxtor SCSI and SATA discs, now about 12 years old :-)

(it's ok, I'm doing it as a sort of experiment and there are spares ready-and-waiting)

M.

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USA! USa! Udia! India! India! Apple nudges iPhone production base

Martin an gof
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For the rest of us we don't care where the devices are made - since there is a global economy. If 'Mercian stuff is really the best, then it would be the most popular and people would buy it from there anyhow.

I think it's a bit more complicated than that. To an extent you are correct, and you are absolutely correct that competition is good and keeps people on their toes. You only have to look at industries where competition is poor to realise that even cost isn't the only factor - quality can suffer even if prices are still high.

However, I don't think you're quite right to say that people will buy "the best" regardless of cost. There are certainly a few people who do that, for various values of "best" which are not exclusively down to exquisite manufacturing quality control but may also include environmental impacts, ethical employment practices, even vegetarian credentials, but the bulk of the population (I'm guessing) considers price above everything else, except for a very few select products, of which the iPhone is probably one.

This is why people still buy Danish bacon in the UK despite UK welfare standards being higher - it makes UK bacon (generally) more expensive. It's why people buy Dacias instead of the equivalent Renault model, and fly EasiJet instead of Lufthansa, and it's why Dyson moved his factory out of the UK.

In other words, given two equivalent products (let's say 500G of smoked back bacon), most people won't even look for the little red tractor on the packet in Morissons - all the packets look the same and all the bacon looks the same, but some packets are slightly cheaper. Get those. As you say, "we don't care where the [stuff] is made".

People like Trump see this, and see that the only way out since a large part of the cost of home-manufactured things is higher worker welfare standards; i.e. better wages and the average UK or US worker couldn't even afford to travel to work for the sorts of daily wages some eastern-hemisphere workers are paid, is to make imported goods as expensive as home-produced ones. This leads inevitably to tariffs.

Tariffs are why Welsh lamb producers are worried about Theresa May's apparent support for a "hard" brexit; the only thing that makes many people buy Welsh lamb in the UK and in Europe is that the EU has a big import duty on New Zealand lamb. Take that away and NZ lamb becomes so much cheaper than Welsh lamb that the market will probably collapse - just look at what happened to Welsh lamb producers in the 1970s before this tariff was introduced. On top of that, chances are that the import tariff that catches NZ lamb going into the EU will now catch Welsh lamb going into the EU and you have a doubling of the effect.

I really don't like the fact that Marks & Spencer now makes their underwear in Thailand (or somewhere similar - I can't remember) and the factory near where I used to live near Worksop closed as a result. I find it amazing that they can now sell such items in the shops for the same price I used to pay for "seconds" at the factory shop, but I can't deny that having twice as many pairs of socks available makes keeping on top of the washing easier!

Sorry, rambling...

M.

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Just give up: 123456 is still the world's most popular password

Martin an gof
Bronze badge

Re: Just get a password manager..

[I] can see 299 accounts I've got stored in there, of which (from a very quick scan) at least 50 are for services I'd consider worth securing properly.

Blimey.

Luddite as I am, and without going to check, I don't think I have 50 accounts in total. Even if I included all the other things that need login details (e.g. my router/modem) I'd struggle. Then again we don't (for example) do online banking, partly because we are fortunate to live near a town with a reasonable number of actual bank branches, and we opt to get statements through the post. It has the side benefit that any and all emails purporting to be from the bank can be binned without thought.

Even so, I can see a use-case for a good password manager. The problem is defining "good" (and reliable, and not-likely-to-go-tits-up-without-warning etc.)

M.

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Martin an gof
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Happy

Re: Just get a password manager..

(how do you do italics?)

El Reg Forums FAQ

M.

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Martin an gof
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Re: Just get a password manager..

individual very good passwords for every account you create online (even if you only come up with a good one for the 'important' sites) is impossible.

Absolutely, but you forgot the third possibility, namely that you don't need dozens of strong passwords if you don't actually use dozens of services, each of which requires a separate password. The place where this really does fall down is with the stuff that used to be called "e-commerce", because unless you want to confine yourself to buying from two or three outlets only, each blasted retailer requires a new set of login details. There are some who will let you buy things without creating an account, and since retailer accounts seem to be used mainly so that a: they can remember your credit card number and b: they can send you marketing emails, frankly if such an option is offered, I'll take it.

:-)

M.

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Martin an gof
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Re: Just get a password manager..

But it's a point that ideally should never go online

Devil's advocate here, but don't these systems actually store all your data online so that you can share passwords between devices? Heavily encrypted and suchlike, but still accessible to anyone who has your master password? No need to access the local machine in that instance.

M.

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Martin an gof
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Re: Don't Just Blame Users

Because it limits the damage if the password is leaked but NOT KNOWN to be leaked.

I understand that, my point was that if too-often password changes are mandated, the temptation is to use weaker passwords which are therefore more likely to be guessable. A slow password change policy, maybe even with auto-generated passwords, makes it more likely that the user will be willing to commit a strong password to memory, and make it less likely that that password is compromised between changes. I'm talking about someone trying to guess John Smith's passwords without any inside information.

Password "leaks" are something else altogether, I'd say. The "data dumps" that were perused for these popular passwords; how did they extract plaintext passwords from properly encrypted... Oh. Right.

M.

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Martin an gof
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Re: Just get a password manager..

Please explain to an obviously clueless individual, but my confusion over password managers is that if the "master" password is compromised, everything is lost, is that not the case? Granted you are probably better able to create and remember a really good strong password if that's the only one you have to do, but isn't it creating a single point of failure?

M.

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Martin an gof
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Re: Don't Just Blame Users

There was a time when lame passwords could be used to protect accounts for sites with mundane content.

Social engineering starts with the content and posts on mundane forums

But you don't need a password to slurp that information. On these very forums, so long as you can tie a user name to a real name (i.e. you are sure that the "John Smith" you are stalking is definitely "BigBiceps" online) all you have to do is click on that user name and , hey presto, a complete history of all their posts ever. No passwords involved. Easy to search.

On El Reg, having a password gets you into the "edit my details" bit which if you don't already have the real name and real email address will give you those details, and maybe others if they have been filled in.

I do not understand enforced weak password policies (as have been described above) but my personal beef is with enforced password change policies, at least those that mandate change too often. Regular enforced password changes drive ordinary people down the route of choosing easy to remember password sequences that just avoid tripping the system rules. I know of one system which has half sensible rules (>7 char, mixed case, special characters and digits mandated, no repetition of passwords) but then mandates changes every six weeks (could be worse, I suppose) which lead to a lot of people using passwords along the lines of "Pa$$word01" followed by "Pa$$word02".

A "strong" password is called that because it is unlikely to be in any rainbow tables, isn't in a dictionary, is difficult to guess, and difficult to brute-force. It doesn't become any more easy to guess over time, so why enforce such a short shelf-life? By all means change it occasionally, and definitely if there is any suspicion it's been compromised, but..

M.

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BT installs phone 'spam filter', says it'll strain out mass cold-callers

Martin an gof
Bronze badge

Re: Interesting development

I contacted BT and asked them to transfer our number to the new address

Had sort of the opposite of that once when we moved house. The person buying our house contacted BT about a fortnight before the moving date to arrange to take over the line, and within a few hours of that phone call, we were cut off, just when we needed the phone the most. It wasn't that they just changed the number - could have been seen as a simple scheduling error - they actually cut us off.

No amount of ranting and raging to BT would get them to reinstate us, so we spent a fortnight calling people on our mobiles, and making sure they had the mobile numbers as first (and only) point of contact. We were offered one month rental for free as compensation and a complaint to the ombudsman resulted in (effectively) a "meh, take it or leave it".

Three days after the phone line was cut off, our ADSL service terminated too because (according to our ISP) they couldn't provide a service on a disconnected phone line. Email was via our ISP in those days, so no email for a fortnight either.

New house, new phone provider, new ISP. A fortnight of lost emails, and an extra line to add to our "we've moved" cards.

M.

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Embrace the world of pr0nified IT with wide open, er, arms

Martin an gof
Bronze badge

Re: Laser printers are always “faster” and “last longer”

You just need to chose very carefully

I'd be interested to hear specifics - makes and models - although I suppose they're long since out of production.

Personally until recently I would never even consider buying another inkjet. My Epson LX80 (poor man's FX80) dot matrix was a tank and still working over ten years later when I gave it away, despite heavy abuse printing Gestetner stencils. Might still be working for all I know.

Replaced with a Canon LBP-4 which was just rebadged HPLJ4 (IIRC). Again, built like a tank, toner lasted at least as long as it said on the tin, used remanufactured cartridges after the first few years and apart from a longstanding reluctance to pick paper, still running when I retired it after well over ten years heavy (in domestic terms) use.

Current printer (now around ten years old itself) is a Xerox Phaser solid ink jobbie. In all bar one respect it is the best printer I've ever owned. That respect is that it's costing me a lot more than either previous printer in terms of ink, which definitely doesn't last as long as it says on the tin, though I suspect that has more to do with the fact that I now have a flock of homework-printing children, covering every inch of the paper with great gobs of colour, than any misdirection on the part of Xerox.

In that time I have also owned three (I think) inkjet printers, all of which were a right royal pain in the wallet what with ink seeming to evaporate overnight and heads deliberately gunking themselves up if they didn't like what I was printing. The only reason I'm looking at an inkjet again now is that I need a cheap(ish) second printer to use away from the house for a while, and it would be extremely useful if it could handle A3. Cheap A3 lasers are still a little way off I think, though it is confusing me that the cheapest A3 inkjets seem to come with scanners and fax facilities attached, which I definitely don't want.

Sorry, somewhat off topic there. I'll get back down to business now...

M.

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It's not just your browser: Your machine can be fingerprinted easily

Martin an gof
Bronze badge
Meh

Do you really believe your mobile phone software when it says you have switched off wifi & gps?

WiFi and GPS on, battery lasts a day or two at best. WiFi and GPS off, battery lasts six or seven. Mobile data off too can easily stretch that to 8 or 9 days, and 10 is not impossible.

Not that there aren't other ways to track you, but sometimes you can be a teensy bit too paranoid.

;-)

M.

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Renault goes open source with next-gen electric buggy you might generously call 'a car'

Martin an gof
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Re: Electric Kit Car

I recall that kit cars were popular in the 80's - not sure about now

Caterham is still going strong and while I don't think they offer an electric conversion at the moment, the design is flexible enough that a decent engineer (not me) should be able to bend it to his or her own will.

The Caterham is a proper kit car (other clones are available) in my mind. Back in the 1970s and 1980s I seem to recall a fashion for taking the underworkings of a Beetle or an Escort or similar and replacing all the bodywork with something even flimsier, usually made from fibreglass and designed to look like a much more "desirable" motor; these I wouldn't count as proper kit cars.

It would be cool if Renault or someone else could offer a modular car. I suppose the Twizzy went some way towards that with things like optional doors, but it did rather remind me of a C5 that had been on a bodybuilding course :-)

M.

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Soz fanbois, Apple DIDN'T invent the smartphone after all

Martin an gof
Bronze badge

Re: Apple stole the iPhone

Without the iPhone they'd be a fraction of the size they are, no doubt about it but they'd still likely have gone on to make the iPod touches, ipads etc anyway as they was clearly the way they were headed

I'm not so sure about that. I'll grant you the fact that after Jobs returned and gave the company "direction" they were on the right track, and I completely agree that without the iPhone, Apple wouldn't be the company it is now, but I really do think that the iPod Touch and the iPads are descendants of the iPhone rather than siblings or cousins.

The first iPhone had a dreadful specification, but it took control of your communications away from the networks and put it (apparently) in your own hands (I say apparently because obviously Apple had a big say in the matter) and - crucially - it "just worked". It didn't do a lot, but that which it did, it did well, and people got used to the idea that an interface could be almost completely intuitive. Oh, and fashionable, something Apple learned from the equally under-specified original iMac.

Even if it had been half the price I wouldn't have bought an iPhone, but that's not the point

M..

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Uh-oh. LG to use AI to push home appliances to 'another dimension'

Martin an gof
Bronze badge

Re: IoT things.

BG and the like keep trying to sell me "intelligent" thermostats

DIY then?

An Arduino-compatible with GSM module (need to add a SIM card of course) can hook up to a number of temperature sensors and a 3V latching relay connected in parallel with your normal thermostat.

PSU, battery, antenna, box to put it in, wires (perhaps a hundred quid all told) and a quick bit of programming of the Arduino later and you can send it SMSes direct from your phone (so no tedious mucking about over the internet) and turn it on and off and get it to report back (via SMS) what it can sense. No need for a data connection, so that "attack surface" is removed, and security is reduced to sensible parsing of incoming text messages. Ongoing cost is keeping the SIM topped up (assuming PAYG).

A few years ago I used what was then an expensive GSM modem to accept SMSes (but not send them) to control something at work (it's still doing its job), and I'm seriously toying with doing something very similar to the above when I re-do the heating system in our house later this year.

M.

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Internet of Sh*t has an early 2017 winner – a 'smart' Wi-Fi hairbrush

Martin an gof
Bronze badge

Re: Fantastic!

If there was something which I thought would never need a microphone, it was a hairbrush, followed by the shower head, or possibly my toilet bowl.

Never mind microphones, next thing you know they'll be putting cameras on there:

  • Hairbrush: to spot signs of dandruff or nits or hair dye growing out and hence offer you the opportunity to buy anti-dandruff shampoo, email your child's school so that they can send out the "nit note", or book an appointment at the salon to do your roots
  • Showerhead: to make sure you are using the "correct" amount of shampoo, that you have covered every inch of your body, that you have rinsed it all off, and to notice when you get some in your eye and send a text message to your SO to come and hand you the towel which you can't see because it burns!
  • Toilet: no, let's not even go there

M.

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Raspberry Pi Foundation releases operating system for PCs, Macs

Martin an gof
Bronze badge

Re: So lightweight...

16MB of RAM back in the day. What is all that memory being used for?

Pretty pictures, methinks, and cache-ing.

Pretty pictures because in the days of 16MB RAM, most of us were probably working at 1024x768 or 1280x1024 and either 4-bit (16 colours) or 8-bit (256). These computers probably had no more than 1MB of dedicated video memory arranged as a plain framebuffer (1024x768 @ 8 bits is 768kB) and the graphical interfaces were very plain and simple.

These days 24-bit colour is the norm, as is a minimum 1920x1080, and all those pretty icons belonging to all those applications must be loaded and cached. Video memory is no longer just a framebuffer (and is often shared on commodity hardware, not dedicated), and a compositing window manager will multiply the amount of memory required.

And that's before you consider disc cacheing, pre-emptive loading and suchlike.

That said, it's not terribly difficult to get a "full fat" Linux running acceptably in 2GB (I run Mint on the EeePC), and memory use on my heftier machines (OpenSuse with KDE) usually only goes above 2GB when I start a video editor or somesuch.

We also have a Pi for general desktop use, and rarely have problems due to lack of memory (Pi 3 has 1GB total), though the standard web browser seems to be pretty aggressive about dumping cached graphics - certainly more so than Firefox and IE that I use elsewhere.

As I think I may have mentioned recently, I well remember being very proud of myself when I managed to get WfW3.11 with Word, Excel and Mail working on a '286 with 2MB memory and a 40MB HDD "back in the day" for a secretary who couldn't be bought a new computer, but whose boss had the latest and greatest '486.

M.

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