* Posts by Martin an gof

952 posts • joined 27 Jan 2010

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What did turbonerds do before the internet? 41 years ago, a load of BBS

Martin an gof Silver badge

Met one of those stencil photocopiers at a school once. Cheaper per page than the (wet?) photocopier, but you had to take account of the stencil itself (which came in a roll I think, so didn't have to be especially loaded) which added a start-up cost of maybe 20p. Fine for copying 30-odd worksheets for a class, not so good for anything under about 10 copies.

Pagemaker and Impression did the photos in-line (in the case of Pagemaker we frame-grabbed with a Watford video digitiser from a camera!) and the quality was pretty good for the day. Left an old ribbon in the printer to eliminate the risk of a jam clogging the pins with bits of waxy stencil.

Took 20 minutes to print an A4 page as pure graphics.

M.

Martin an gof Silver badge

I might possibly have punctuated it better, but I think the meaning was clear.

And Gmail probably belongs in "the other place", though of course this incident happened years before G....e was even a twinkle in someone's eye...

M.

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: Booting

There is a whole couple of orders of magnitude difference between switching the power on to an 8-bit micro and it jumping into the 8k or 16k "operating system" permanently memory-mapped in ROM (or, in the case of the BBC Micro, 2x 16k for OS and "Language", and loading probably several hundred megabytes of kernel and services from some kind of storage into RAM. I understand that, but it does make me wonder whether (ignoring ASLR) memory-mapped ROM is even possible these days, and how much difference it could make.

The Archimeded / RiscPC had a half-way house, of course; 4MB of ROM and then overlays loaded from disc - as and when needed.

M.

Martin an gof Silver badge

posting a question (sitting in South Africa) on CompuServe (in Ohio) and receiving an answer (from Holland) ten minutes later.

I had a similar one. A distant relative of a friend who had recently died contacted me via email. He was in New Zealand, I was in the UK. I happened to be online (dial-up) collecting emails (Demon SMTP) at the time and by checking the headers was able to determine that his message took something like six seconds from him pressing "send" to arriving in my inbox.

Like you, intellectually I knew that this was possible but the true reality hadn't really hit home until that point.

So much so that I wrote it up in the next issue of the church magazine which I also produced*. The friend was a very long-standing member of that church so the letter from NZ was relevant "news" anyway, but back then I think I was one of perhaps three people in the church (the others being my mother and the minister) who had any kind of online presence, and the whole six-seconds-half-way-around-the-globe thing caught a few imaginations. In those days Airmail was still a common - if expensive - way to get news delivered "quickly", globally.

M.

*Computer Concepts Impression, the first three issues by printing stencils on my Epson dot-matrix and running them through the Gestetner, after which we stumped up the cash for a CC Laser Direct laser printer because "it would help me with my degree course" (and avoid printing ink stains on the kitchen table :-)

The Epson had previously done sterling work printing stencils for my underground school newspaper, though that had been produced using AMX Pagemaker / Stop Press on a BBC Micro

Martin an gof Silver badge

Booting

I think the thing that stood out for me in this article was the bit about resetting. If I understood correctly, when the telephone rang they performed a "cold boot" on the computer and switched the disc motor on. Within a couple of rings (the PDF says the reset circuit had a 30 second grace period) the system was up and running and would answer the phone.

Fast booting was a given in the early days - I'll never forget the Boo-Beep of the BBC Micro - but that was a ROM-based system, not floppy-based. You'd be hard pushed to get a system up-and-running within 30 seconds these days. I think even my Raspberry Pis are barely within that time, even booting to the command line.

All good stuff. I first met a BBS at school. We used occasionally to dial-in to the TTNS (The Times Network for Schools) system and join "discussions" with other school children around the country.

I'm young enough not to have bought my own first modem until the late 1980s. It was a 2400bps Amstrad thing that came with (IIRC) £30 of M&S vouchers! Initially I used it to remote-in to the Polytechnic's bank of modems connected to their VAX system so that I could do coursework (or just read the Poly's message boards, one of which I used to moderate), but I soon discovered the delights of BBSes, though as I was still living with the parents at the time I had to be very careful not to overburden the phone bill. I actually paid real money for a VT100 terminal emulator to run on my Archimedes :-)

M.

How I got horizontal with a gimp and untangled his cables

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: Electrical plumbers

In the UK, either, particularly if it's a simple replacement unit.

If it's a new shower then nine times out of ten a proper electrician is best as running a pipe from a convenient place simply involves a tee, a service valve and a few compression fittings whereas running a new circuit capable of perhaps as much as 10kW (if the shower is that powerful) is not a trivial task and in some properties may mean upgrading some seemingly unrelated bits.

As I said though, a plumber who is doing this sort of thing should have an electrical qualification too, so should be capable.

In many "new fit" cases I used to do myself out of work by advising that since the householder had a combi boiler with at least 22kW output they would get a far better shower by fitting a thermostatic mixer to hot & cold than they would by installing an 8.5kW electric unit, and probably for less money too.

M.

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: Electrical plumbers

As an electrician myself

As an ex (domestic) electrician, I sympathise. I suspect the animosity is that each trade "dabbles" in the other, but often gets it wrong thus requiring the client to arrange a visit from the correct professional to sort things out; an expense not expected.

And this despite the fact that certain types of plumbers are required to have basic electrical qualifications too. A typical example from my time would be the plumber who used standard PVC flexible cable under the boiler, draping the 70C-rated cable all over heating pipes running at 85C or so. Or another plumber who needed a socket nearer the (gas) cooker and ran the thing in whatever scraps he had to hand by whatever route was easiest, before tiling over the top in exactly the place you would expect the householder to drill to mount a utensil rack.

M.

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: Bent coat-hanger and curtain wire

I have seen a vacuum cleaner being used to suck a line

Sounds like when we had fibre "pulled" into the comms room at a former place of employment back in the 1990s. What they actually pulled from the BT tower was an empty pipe. Next day, said pipe made lovely little puff-puff noises for a few hours, disturbing the dust that had settled, and soon enough a thin fibre optic came coiling out of the thing.

At which point we rang the tower to "stop now please, before it coils all over the floor", though I suspect they would have made a distance measurement and stopped after a suitable margin for error anyway.

Fascinating.

M.

It's 2019, and a PNG file can pwn your Android smartphone or tablet: Patch me if you can

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: Errrrr.

Consdering my 5yr old Moto Droid is still on 4.4, probably a wise idea.

LineageOS for Moto Droid Maserati

M.

Techie finds himself telling caller there is no safe depth of water for operating computers

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: Design deficiencies

pipework loose fitted

Had almost the same thing at a house I where I was doing some electrical work. They told me that when they'd had an en-suite fitted in the front bedroom a few months earlier, as the drain was at the rear of the house a macerator was needed. The plumber ran the waste pipe under the floorboards (the joists were going the "right" way), out through the wall and then down to the drain.

Except that the twit had used push-fit. The elbow shot off after a couple of pumps and "stuff" fountained all over the very small courtyard garden. At least it hadn't come apart under the floor!

M.

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: Design deficiencies

putting computers in the basement

ISTR (though I can't find the story now) that the National Archives - also on the banks of the Thames - quite deliberately put their servers in the basement because the data is backed-up, computers can be replaced if the place floods and ancient documents most certainly can not.

M.

iPhone price cuts are coming, teases Apple CEO. *Bring-bring* Hello, Apple UK? It's El Reg. You free to chat?

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: Moto G first Gen

Moto G first Gen... still works and does what I want after 5 years..

I am typing this on my own first gen MotoG. Likewise it runs LineageOS. The battery still lasts a day under heavy use with WiFi etc. and in my normal use I can get five or six days - though I used to get nine or ten when it was new.

As noted, very few (if any) 'must have' features have appeared in phones since then, though the faster processor, greater amount of RAM and SD card slot of my son's G5 do make me jealous. Shame there isn't an official LineageOS build for that phone yet.

M.

Martin an gof Silver badge

I get a lot more texts than calls. Texts use the 'sting' from the end of 1970s/80s Newsround which I found - much to my joy - on a BBC Music and Movement LP which was about to be turned into a clock. It also contains a lot of other fantastic Radiophonic Workshop material by Delia and her pals.

My workmates - all around the same age - find it most nostalgic.

M.

Q. What do you call an IT admin for 20-plus young children? A. A teacher

Martin an gof Silver badge

Access to these systems is sensitive, and must be protected.

Don't disagree at all. I am of the opinion that data should be private by default and security should be as high as possible by default, but you can see why schools want / need to make these things simple to use too.

What you describe is bullying pure-and-simple and should be sortable using normal school procedure. In the long run, a lot more damage could be done by the theft of phone numbers, next-of-kin and the like. Not that I'm saying schools are obviously better in this front - the only experience I have is that the school keeps sending my mobile number to the third party company they've decided we should all use to receive school "letters", despite being asked on several occasions not to do this - but at least this information is not available (as far as I'm aware) to a moderately savvy eleven year-old.

M.

Martin an gof Silver badge

A closed population of a few hundred or at most a few thousand make distinction by fingerprint a straightforward task

So long as it works. My children's school uses fingerprint recognition for dinner payments (it works like a charge account). My children have never registered, and there's a plastic card available as an alternative. The machines are so unreliable that most children apparently use the card by default, only attempting to use the fingerprint reader if they've forgotten their card.

But as you go on to say, this (and the QR code idea) is only really a solution in the school. For many teachers, half the point of computerised systems is to force the children to do their homework online, even at primary level. QR codes or fingerprint readers or retinal scanners on the home desktop or laptop that can handshake securely with school systems?

How much of a problem it is, is another matter. There is a world of difference between being able to guess the login for a child's reading record and being able to log in to a system which gives you name, address, phone numbers etc. As far as I'm aware, none of this type of information is available on the homework systems used by my children, so the biggest risk is that child A might copy homework from child B. Many schools offer "homework clubs" as lunchtime or after-school activities, so copying - or at least sharing information and help - is par for the course anyway, in much the same way as I used to do my homework on the bus (it took an hour to get to school) so that my Oxford-bound best friend could help me :-)

M.

NASA's Opportunity rover celebrates 15 years on Mars – by staying as dead as a doornail

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: A great job of engineering, but next time....

Maybe there is a British angle and you can get Dyson to sponsor some kind of cleaning mechanism?

I try to keep politics out of my postings here, but even my rabidly hard-exit work colleague was fuming at Dyson earlier this week and of the opinion that perhaps his citizenship ought to be revoked.

Now then, if Trevor Baylis was still around, perhaps we could come up with a truly innovative, truly "British" solution...

M.

Wow, fancy that. Web ad giant Google to block ad-blockers in Chrome. For safety, apparently

Martin an gof Silver badge
Holmes

Re: So predictable !

didn't we tell you we actually sell your unborn child when you're not looking ?

I refer the honourable gentleman to the episode Friendface of The IT Crowd. Some of us were predicting this years ago. Even non-techy types like Graham Linehan

Yes, ironic use of Youtube noted ;-)

M.

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: @Ian Google are cunts

Firefox is generally alright on the desktop. On Android it's awful.

I'm running Fennec on my original (early 2014) MotoG under LineageOS with the same add-on mix (NoScript/PrivacyBadger/HTTPSEverywhere) as Firefox on the desktop. It's a bit slow, and the 1GB RAM does mean that multiple tabs end up being 'paged out' and reloading when you switch back, but it seems perfectly usable other than being a little tight on screen space in my prefered layout. On my son's much newer MotoG5s (or whatever it is) with faster processor and a lot more RAM, it's an almost desktop-like experience.

M.

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: Google are cunts

Google Drive/Docs editing

In what way does that not work with Firefox? Both schools attended by my children now insist (much as I wish they didn't) on Google and (once a few items are allowed through NoScript) it seems to work fine at home on Firefox for them...

M.

I used to be a dull John Doe. Thanks to Huawei, I'm now James Bond!

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: Roll your own?

Yes, that's the one I remember.

As you can see from the cost of the components, you’d be FAR better off going into your local phone store and picking up a normal smartphone

Not sure that stands up. He costed it at $158 which, even allowing for the fact that the article was written in 2014, isn't half bad. Yes, you could get a modern smartphone on contract for a lower upfront cost, but you'd be buying landfill android if you wanted SIM free very much cheaper, though I suppose if you wanted to 3D print a case you would add to the cost. The current Pi3B+ has WiFi and Bluetooth, too, which the original Pi didn't, all for essentially the same cost. If you wanted something simpler there are several Arduino-types that might work out cheaper and could run directly from the battery without needing boost circuitry.

But the idea of a phone-shaped device running Raspbian does appeal :-)

M.

Martin an gof Silver badge

Roll your own?

Is there any reason why I couldn't bolt a GSM module on to a Raspberry Pi with small touchscreen attached, glue it into a box with a battery and create my own phone which runs a halfway decent OS? Bit more money buys a 3G version of the modem.

It should work out cheaper than most "high end" mobile phones, particularly Apple ones...

In the early Pi days I recall someone did this, but I'm surprised I can't find anyone selling a DIY kit of parts. What's the catch?

M.

Most munificent Apple killed itself with kindness. Oh. Really?

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: Look it's really quite simple.

My Mum's 13" MacBook Pro 2008 is still going great guns

On the other hand, my wife's 2008 Mac mini (Intel Core Duo, not Core 2) can't go beyond OS10.6 and while expanding the RAM to 2GB and swapping the HDD for an SSD helped, it hasn't had an update in aeons (Wikipedia says 10.6's last update was 2011) and "modern" versions of the likes of Firefox won't install. Safari is so old, some websites put up a warning banner!

My 2008 EeePC (Intel Atom N270), also upgraded to 2GB, was in retirement for a bit but has recently been dragged from its slumber and is evaluating current 32 bit Linuxes (a dwindling band, but they are still out there). I'm trying Kanotix for a bit, but I think KDE might be slowing things down somewhat. Antix and MX are also on the list to try. I used to run Puppy, but am finding the myriad variations confusing.

Apple stuff is generally well-built and can be made to last. The question is, for how long. 2008 - 2011 isn't a decently long lifespan in my opinion, though I know other things have had longer support. The machine is still mechanically and electrically sound (other than the CD player).

M.

Begone, Demon Internet: Vodafone to shutter old-school pioneer ISP

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: Farewell Old Fiend.

Static IP is more difficult to get... virtually any UK ISP lets you use your own router

I'm with The Phone CoOp, not necessarily cheap, but they seem to know what they are talking about if you ring for assistance. They have a few unbundled exchanges, but most are BT or TalkTalk and there's no IPv6. Static IP isn't mentioned anywhere on their "home" broadband website as far as I can tell, but they do offer it. Likewise, although they point out that you can get a (small) discount for supplying your own modem on ADSL, they don't appear to offer it with FTTC products, unless you ring them up when it turns out they do offer it, but not for web orders.

If you need it, it's always worth asking, you might be surprised.

M.

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: Good article.

Demon Internet was launched on the 1st of July 1992 (not 1993) and also on the 2nd of July 1992 as it didn't work first time

Like the BBC2 launch?

M.

Martin an gof Silver badge

we needed fixed IPs to push SMTP delivery when users dialled in

I made extensive use of that - SMTP was the only option on RiscOS at the time, as I remember (unless you paid for a dial-up suite) - and (when always-on came around) I used the fixed IP to serve up files to friends occasionally, running straight into an ftp or web server on my RiscPC. My current ISP offers fixed IPs. I have one, and it's costing me a few pennies over and above the normal subscription.

I have no idea if they continued, but Demon was also one of a dwindling band of ISPs to carry a full(ish) newsfeed too. I had great times on the likes of uk.d-i-y.

Made fairly extensive use of my free webspace too, which included the amazing, before-its-time Virtual Tour of the Aber Valley

Typical vanity website, a lot of the stuff on there is somewhat embarrassing nowadays, but then it was the mid 1990s - the Tour itself went on line in January 1997 and I'd had a Demon account for maybe a year by then?

We dropped Demon during a house move in 2009, it wasn't really Demon's fault - it was BT who decided to cut off our telephone on the instruction of our buyer about a fortnight before completion date and wouldn't admit fault.

The ADSL kept working for a while, but itself stopped a few days later, and Demon was no help either - BT had told them to switch off as part of the disconnection.

When ADSL Max had been enabled on that line some years earlier we went up from our paid-for 512kbps to a rock solid 8Mbps, being about a half a mile from the exchange.

Things are different where we are now, our ADSL2 struggles to reach 5Mbps most days.

Oh yeah, and I did like the fact that the phone numbers mostly ended in "666" :-)

M.

If I could turn back time, I'd tell you to keep that old Radarange at home

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: Bah!

Er ... are you saying that the best place for housing computers is a Portakabin?

Or a container? (just the first link that came up in a search)

M.

I'm just not sure the computer works here – the energy is all wrong

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: Ah, the carefree days of yore

'the EU can't police our motor power (whose methodology we disagree with) if we're drawing it from a battery'

Battery vacuums just show how specious the arguments against limiting power are. It's all about efficiency. There's no way you could sensibly plug a 1kW motor into a portable battery-powered vacuum.

M.

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: Ah, the carefree days of yore

Took the thing apart, cleaned it, put it back together

IME that's the key with many modern vaccuuming devices - despite all their claims of "never clogging" they do actually gunk up very quickly. Found that with the two or three Dysons my mum's owned. We have a Vax which is very good when it's been cleaned up, but after two or three times around the house (we do have four children, but don't have any pets) it starts sounding a bit "strained" and doesn't pick up as well as you think it should. Hair wrapped around the brush bar doesn't help.

There is something to be said for bagged cleaners without fancy "cyclone" separators and loads of air filters. Quite fond of Numatic "Henry", and we have a really cheap "Earlex" which sounds like a Vulcan and does benefit from a pipe on the air exit throwing excess dust out of a window, but (without a bag fitted) it just keeps sucking and sucking. Of course, neither of those has a rotating brush so not quite so good for carpets...

M.

Martin an gof Silver badge

Initially I applied the standard logic to technical complaints from Talent, i.e. they were making it up to cover the fact that they were doing something stupid

Nice studios - ours didn't have any outside windows at all and could be very gloomy as a result.

All I had to deal with was "talent" desperately hiding what they had just done, the classic being one who had pre-recorded his very last show for the station, but on his last live show decided (against all the rules) to take a bottle of cider - kindly sent in by a fan - into the studio. The studio with our almost brand-new, custom-built desk. As is probably obvious, the best part of a pint of cider ended up in the desk. Or in one half of it, anyway (the controls were split with a script space in the middle), putting two of the three microphones (including the main presenter mic) and two of the three CD players out of action (from memory - it was about 20 years ago). The playout system was fine, but it had little music on it and was mainly used for adverts, jingles etc.

Said talent didn't call the pager at 8pm, when the accident happened, but struggled through the rest of his show. At 10pm the next bloke did call the pager and steadfastly refused to swap to the "spare" studio - being one of only two people in the building at that point, it would have meant a bit of running between the two studios (a distance of all of 5m, but two airlocks with very heavy doors) to "offer" and "accept" on the switcher.

Fortunately, my boss was practical about these things. In specifying the desk, not only had he gone for one with a separate electronics pod, safely out of the way in a nearby rack, but the channels had been stripped right down to gain, pre-fade, fader and a start switch (where appropriate). All the switches were fully sealed, the gains and faders controlled VCAs and although the Penny & Giles conductive plastic fader itself wasn't sealed, it's a brilliantly easy design to dismantle and run under the tap. I replaced a couple of wipers, that's all, but had to work around the 10pm bloke who still refused to swap, despite me being there to push one of the buttons, because it would have meant packing up his box of bits and carrying it next-door.

Oh, and the desk structure included "vent" holes, so the cider had dropped straight out of the bottom of the thing onto the perp's trousers :-)

M.

Fake 'U's! Phishing creeps use homebrew fonts as message ciphers to evade filters

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: html in email...

How I hate that! It has no place there

Absolutely, but it's more and more common. I get a lot of legitimate emails these days where the plain text part is either completely blank, or says something like "you have been sent an email". I'm trying to retire my Acorn RiscPC as my main email-reading computer, but at the moment it's the only 100% safe way to deal with these things (shift-double-click on the HTML part to load into a text editor, if nothing nefarious, double-click to load into a "dumb" web browser). Kmail on the Linux boxes is great and is set to text-only by default, but you do sometimes have to "view as HTML" and hope. And the HTML often just says "click here to view the full message".

HTML adds next to nothing to an email anyway, though I suppose it's one step better than sending .docs around - can't preview them on the Acorn at all.

M.

Ofcom: More spectrum for all the good boys and girls. Except you, EE. You've had your fill

Martin an gof Silver badge

It's getting tight at UHF

Not that long ago we were forced to re-tune our radio microphones, then in the "800MHz" band, in order for Ofcom to sell that lot off for 4G services. We retuned them into the 700MHz band (and bought new in that band) because there were no current plans to sell any more UHF. When they did announce the plans, as it happened our microphones were in the "centre gap" between the two blocks they wanted to sell. We though we'd be ok.

Then they decided to sell the centre gap too, so we're having to retune our microphones again.

Last time, some of our microphones could not be retuned (lack of parts) and the others fell outside the compensation scheme. At least this time our newer microphones should both be retunable and refundable under the compensation scheme that was only officially announced on the 13th of December, more than two years after the decision to sell off 700MHz was finalised, more than four years after they started consulting on the matter, and only (effectively) a year before the band is supposed to be clear. We're a small user, with eight "channels" (tx/rx pair) needing retuning and two stand-alone receivers, but I can see there being a bit of a rush during 2019 to get the work done, particularly as you have to get the go-ahead from the compensation scheme first (it's mainly geared towards replacing equipment, rather than retuning it).

For those not in the know, this is a part of what used to be spectrum set aside for TV broadcasts. UHF channels 21 to 69; 49 lots of 8MHz (albeit with 36, 38 and 69 reserved) covered the country and allowed five national analogue broadcasters and a few low-power local ones. I realise that digital TV multiplexes can be placed much closer together than analogue channels can, but radio microphones and other "programme making and special events" equipment co-existed quite nicely with TV, in the "gaps". We licenced three channels (24MHz) for our microphones.

From now on, only channels 21 - 48 are available, and not only do they have to accommodate as many as eight DTT multiplexes (only four on many local transmitters - something that probably could be solved were 700MHz still available) but also so-called "white space" devices, which can broadcast wherever they like, so long as they survey the airwaves first. Best of luck with intermittent users such as radio microphones.

Not happy.

M.

Brexit-dodging SCISYS Brits find Galileo joy in Dublin

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: Sadly with May running the clock down...

Outside Context Problem.

Actually, I'm not sure it is. The mess we are currently in was eminently predictable the minute Cameron had the daft idea that he could solve 50+ years of Tory infighting by holding a national referendum. Whichever way the vote had gone, and (I believe) even if the majority had been significantly higher, there would still be a large, vociferous minority who would not be happy and would keep kicking up the same sort of fuss as they have been doing since the end of WWII.

M.

Apple iPhone X screen falls short of promises, lawsuit says

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: Screen measurements in inches are tube size

Don’t get me started on wide screen diagonals and how they misrepresent screen area compared with squarer screens.

No they don't. As much as diagonals were a problem in tube days - relating to the size of the tube rather than the visible image - in flat screen days they tell you everything you need to know in a single measurement. You can work height and width out with simple reference to the screen ratio and some Pythagoras.

The problem many people have - or had in the early days of widescreen TVs - was with the height. Height has a bearing on how 'big' a TV seems to be, and a 21" 4:3 screen is taller than a 25" 16:9 TV.

M.

Windows 10 can carry on slurping even when you're sure you yelled STOP!

Martin an gof Silver badge

more and more difficult not to have such a phone

Also schools and suchlike. Up until recently the schools our children attend were happy to send out simple text messages for "urgent" communications (such as, the bus back from the school trip will be an hour late, or half an hour early). Now they insist on a proprietary app, which can only be installed on a smartphone (of course) and requires you leave data switched on (I don't, generally).

If you don't install the app, they send the same communications by - of all things - email. Email's no good for urgent communications if I don't get it until I'm sat at a computer because, erm, my phone doesn't do email! Oh, and because email is available, they use the excuse to send out non-urgent notices, rather than by a small printed paragraph on a weekly / half-termly paper letter, or a note in the home-school book which could be written-in by each child during registration, but often by scanning a poster or something and emailling the resulting image. Even more reason not to do email while mobile and waste my (deliberately low) data allowance.

M.

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: Easy Instructions

burn Linux distro to a CD/DVD or USB stick before formatting.

The installers I've used recently (mostly OpenSuse) offer the option of formatting - to something more usable than FAT32 - as part of the installation process, so no need to format first. In fact I suspect that no current mainstream Linux distributions would install to FAT32 by choice.

M.

Small American town rejects Comcast – while ISP reps take issue with your El Reg vultures

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: On your bike

"It was the odious Norman Tebbit who made the comment, not the slightly less odious Michael Hestletine."

Michael Heseltine (note spelling) was the one who actually campaigned for money to be spent up North the way that the people there thought best.

Yes, point taken, sorry to both of you. I am a (grudging) admirer of Heseltine, and knew it wasn't he! In my defence, I was in a rush this morning and shouldn't really have been on El Reg at all :-)

M.

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: Good for Charlemont!

All that should be done is to truly open the market

That's perfectly fine where there are plenty of customers to compete for, but 1,300 customers is never going to support two or more completely commercial offerings. Neither does the town in question sound as if it is full of people who have chosen to live off grid. Internet access is becoming one of life's essentials as much as it pains me to say that.

Sometimes, 'social' taxes and subsidy is the only fair way. Do you, for example, resent your taxes being given to schools and colleges, to educate children who couldn't afford to pay for their own education?

Or perhaps more difficult, is it right that the council pays for my children to get to school by bus, when if we lived a bit closer they could walk?

Your attitude is often summed up here in the UK with reference to Michael Hesseltine, a minister in Thatcher's government of the 1980s. In relation specifically to looking for work, he advised jobseekers living in areas devastated by the Tories' policies towards the coal, steel, shipbuilding and other heavy industries by telling them to do as his father had done and 'get on [your] bike'.

It's a phrase now trotted out to cover many other things, and it betrays a tylical right-leaning I'm-alright-jack attitude that, incixdentally, I don't think was Heseltine's intention.

Taking your attitude to its logical conclusion, everyone who doesn't want to live 'off grid' should conglomerate in urban centres. This would be bad enough in the UK, but in the US the potential effects could be truly awful. Would you, for example, bother to spend taxpayer money to set up polling stations in small isolated communities, or would you tell people that if they want to have a vote they must travel (or move) to the nearest large population centre?

M.

Here's 2018 in a nutshell for you... Russian super robot turns out to be man in robot suit

Martin an gof Silver badge

a traveller camp in Cardiff

The traveller site is still there, but I think the scrap metal site has closed or moved.

Both links are to Google Street View.

Geograph overview of the sites.

M.

College PRIMOS prankster wreaks havoc with sysadmin manuals

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: School computer rooms

We had a key to the school's computer room too - it was a cupboard with about a dozen stand-alone BBC Bs. One April 1st we got in early, hid all the computers and posted a note on the door on local authority headed paper saying they'd been confiscated.

Much hilarity ensued, but we did make sure to put the computers all back where they should have been before the first class was due. See, we weren't vindictive.

This was in the days when probably no more than 30% of teaching time on Computer Studies O-level was actually spent sat in front of a computer. Given this clueless report by Qualifications Wales perhaps we should look to return to those days. Even some of the HYS comments are sane - don't think that's ever happened before!

M.

Qualcomm lifts lid on 7nm Arm-based octo-core Snapdragon 855 chip for next year's expensive 5G Androids

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: A76 L1 cache size?

I've often wondered why the L1 cache size on modern CPU's are so small.

To answer the size question, L1 cache is fast because it is effectively part of the processor, but that means it is built on the same die, and space taken up by RAM is space that cannot be used for computing functions, and L1 cache is a completelt different beast to he DDR RAM used for main memory - it takes up more die per bit, especially when you include the lookup tables. It's a trade-off and a case of diminishing returns.

At least, that's the way I have always thought of it. I can't find an image now, but I have a (possibly wrong) memory of seeing a micrograph of the ARM3, and the 4k cache took up as much die space as the whole of the rest of the processor.

M.

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: Does it underclock/burst?

So can these chips do likewise?

Because downvotes without explanation are pointless (no,I am not one of your downvoters) - yes, of course they can. Arm has been doing this kind of stuff for years, and so has Intel.

There is a difference, though - this chip seems to be a refinement of a refinement of the idea. Not only can individual cores have their clocks ramped up and down to meet demand, and be switched into near-zero power hibernation modes at a whim, but workloads can be switched from the 'simpler', power-sipping cores to the 'complex' cores when a task is either speed-critical or the scheduler calculates it would actually use less power overall to finish a task quickly on a very fast, but hungry processor than to take longer on a more frugal one.

Arm call this idea 'big.LITTLE' and I don't think (though I'm willing to be corrected) that Intel has anything quite equivalent - it would be like putting an Atom on the same chip as an i7 and deciding which one to use according to workload.

M.

Take my advice and stop using Rubik's Cubes to prove your intelligence

Martin an gof Silver badge
Linux

Bilidowcar

Blue Peter neu Magpie? Pah!

Bilidowcar!

M.

Oh my chord! Sennheiser hits bum note with major HTTPS certificate cock-up

Martin an gof Silver badge

Sennheiser does other stuff too

The question is whether they have done this trick with other kit too - Sennheiaer not only makes consumer products, but also professional kit such as near-ubiquitous radio microphones and medical kit such as hearing aids used by large numbers of NHS and private clinjcs. These days everything is set up by computer so if they have used a similar technique on the software, there could be hundreds of vulnerable computers sitting in clinics (ane TV studios) around the country.

How would we find out?

M.

Mobile networks are killing Wi-Fi for speed around the world

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: Just to echo so many more of the comments

four people in your house all streaming different shows, while one of them also downloads a game on Steam, and they're all looking at videos and other shit on WhatsFace while doing it

Of course, if you are going to do all that over 5G mobile, that's a heck of a lot of contracts you'll need unless you run the mobile through a capable router.

Or you could, y'know, realise that four 15Mbit streams is only 60Mbit (crumbs, who has 4x 4k TVs all on at the same time?), that it's variable bitrate anyway and that there are quite a lot of ways - in some parts of the country - to get wired access speeds of 60 - 100Mbps. Lob in a couple of WiFi APs for those devices that can't be wired directly to the router, make sure to set them up sensibly with regard to location / band / channel* and job's a good 'un.

M.

*5GHz WiFi isn't necessarily the answer to everything - as I have discovered to my cost, there are an awful lot of devices out there (APs) which cannot use the whole 5GHz band (potentially 19 channels) for WiFi due to a lack of Dynamic Frequency Selection and Transmission Power Control. This limits them to just four channels at 5GHz, exactly the same as the four non-overlapping channels available at 2.4GHz in this neck of the woods, the difference being that up until now use of 5GHz has been a tiny fraction of 2.4GHz. It won't stay that way.

Bright spark dev irons out light interference

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: Spark plugs on old Vauxhalls

mechanical movement making electromagnetic radiation directly or electric currents in wires.

Not convinced it's a problem in the radio itself (suggested by someone else), as it only happens when the rear wheels go over the bump, not the front ones. Something being induced into the aerial lead sounds possible, and the noise really does sound to me like a "data burst", but the Kangoo (2006 vintage) is a fairly simple car. Yes it has anti-lock brakes, but that's about it, all lighting is bog standard wiring loom, and it doesn't happen when I indicate or brake or turn the lights on. What on earth could be sending the data burst?

M.

Martin an gof Silver badge
WTF?

Re: Spark plugs on old Vauxhalls

a choke to reduce radio interference from the HT wiring.

Still a common reqirement. Not quite sure what's going on in the 2006 Kangoo we own though. LW is occasionally useful for Radio 4, but this radio has some very interesting interference if you drive over (say) a speed bump. In time with the rear wheels going over the bump there's a "chirp" from the radio. Every time. Why?

M.

Martin an gof Silver badge
Pint

Re: Have you ever put something apparently useless to good use?

split infinitives

I don't point out split infinitives as a rule, but occasionally I go out of my way to avoid their use in my own language. The sentences thus formed may sound convoluted to the modern ear, but also may cause the listener or reader to pay more attention.

M.

Microsoft slips ads into Windows 10 Mail client – then U-turns so hard, it warps fabric of reality

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: Why would anyone tolerate this?

it still does everything I want

I still do 80% (falling, but still) of my email on my RiscPC using Messenger :-)

M.

Open the pod bay doors: Voice of HAL 9000 Douglas Rain dies at 90

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: Fun IT facts about HAL's song

someone noticed that certain code instructions in loops created RF interference at controllable frequencies,

Even the BBC Micro used to do this. It was often possible to tell roughly what the computer was doing just by listening to the noise from the speaker; fast code (e.g. a calculating loop) would make a different noise to slow code (e.g. screen drawing) and suchlike. Often I'd be able to tell a computer was about to finish a lengthy operation because the noise changed slightly :-)

M.

This just in: What? No, I can't believe it. The 2018 MacBook Air still a huge pain to have repaired

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: Where would most of us be......

Dell knocked what was a huge nail in the coffin

What really put me off Dell was that time when they fitted what looked like a standard power connector to their power supplies, which mated just fine with the standard connectors on standard motherboards, but which had all the leads in different places meaning in the event of a PSU failure you couldn't replace a Dell PSU with a standard one and in the event of a motherboard failure (or elective upgrade) you couldn't replace a Dell motherboard with a standard one.

no easy access to those little kits

Even before Maplin had gone, that situation was changing. Maplin's own kits had long disappeared and I always got the impression that Vellemann kits were expensive for what they were. These days you don't have to look very far for a very wide choice of kits.

Only one of my four has shown much interest in this kind of thing, but she's quite keen and enjoys a bit of soldering :-)

M.

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