* Posts by xeroks

209 posts • joined 27 Apr 2010

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A story of M, a failed retailer: We'll give you a clue – it rhymes with Charlie Chaplin

xeroks

but there's still Digikey & Mouser

A few years back I discovered Digikey, which was US only at that point.

Man what an awesome catalog they had: by which I mean a real paper book like the thickest, richest most addictive telephone book you've ever seen. It was like being a kid again.

I literally had to throw it out because I was spending too much time browsing it.

I used them again recently. Their website has not changed in about 30 years and their delivery charges for small orders is still expensive, but the delivery is surprisingly fast. I ordered stuff on the saturday evening, and it was delivered on the monday morning.

The range of components blows anything Maplin or Tandy had right out the water.

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Good news: Sub-surface life on Mars possible, moons from big impacts. There is no bad news

xeroks

"The chances of anything coming from Mars (capable of taking advantage of specific characteristics of human physiology and causing widespread and fatal epidemics) are a million to one, he said.

But still, they come."

It has a nice ring about it, but could do with some work.

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Your Twitter app stopped working? Here's why

xeroks

Re: Why are so many [..] devs [..] willing to bet their [success to] Twitter / Facebook

"believes it can start reaping the benefits "

maybe twitter is now at the point of make or break.

Would I pay for it? I don't know. I'm weaning myself off social media, partly because it can suck up too much time, partly because it's poisonous now.

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EU wants one phone plug to rule them all. But we've got a better idea.

xeroks

Re: Plug cable entry angle

"You mean something like this ? Available for about 5 years now."

No - that doesn't have an earth. Also way too flimsy, and reliant on moving parts for normal usage. Fine for use cases where you need the plug as small as possible.

My Sony phone charger does something very similar for compactness, but the best one I've seen was an old apple design where all 3 prongs folded into the very normal-sized plug body, which also contained the voltage convertor goodies and a USB socket.

It really is amazing when you think back to the huge iron transformers we had to use before high power semiconductors were cheap.

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Nah, it won't install: The return of the ad-blocker-blocker

xeroks

Re: RE: buy something else without the logo.

"FINALLY a use for hyper real augmented reality sunglasses. Editing out the logo"

came here to say this. Hololens should be able to do.

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No, seriously, why are you holding your phone like that?

xeroks

Re: They have a point.

"Most smart meters communicate thought the power lines, not over the air"

Apparently not the ones used by scottish power.

Ours is located in a position where mobile signal cannot be assumed. we explained to the engineer that the older providers - vodaphone etc were OK because we have a signal booster that works over their frequency bands. Other providers - like Three- require other arrangements.

Of course the engineer (who was not actually from scottish power, but was just contracted to do the job) had no way of testing if the signal was suitable for the meter.

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Developer’s code worked, but not in the right century

xeroks

why in the blue blazes...

why in the blue blazes would a supermarket have its own date format?

One of my first employers stored future dates and and thus encountered the millennium bug very early.

They had been aware of the problem well before that, but because storage was still expensive, they put it off for a few years. Adding a digit or 2 to all dates was a big deal, requiring the whole database to be unpacked and repacked. It would have taken more than a weekend on the hardware of the time.

They worked around it for awhile by turning the last digit of the year into an alphanumeric (yes it was COBOL) so 2000 was 9A, 2001 was 9B etc.

They had come to a longer term fix by the time I left, just before they ran out of letters.

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New York State is trying to ban 'deepfakes' and Hollywood isn't happy

xeroks

Re: Bullshit

what they mean is "It would make future unauthorised biopics about actors, musicians, or athletes look a bit 20th century because the viewer would see the actor's face, not the face of the person being represented. Also we won't be able to tart up our old stock of biopics."

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Nominet throws out US corp's attempt to seize Brit domain names

xeroks

Re: I fucking hate domain squatters

automatic re-registrations on expiry are OK - if they're by the original holder.

It's pretty nasty however, if someone else auto registers your domain because you miss an email or two. Especially if they charge £1000s to get it back.

or is that what you meant?

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Meet the real spin doctors: Scientists tell H2O to chill out so they can separate isomers

xeroks

Re: This!

oh, please don't tell the homeopaths about the binary water. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

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NASA dusts off FORTRAN manual, revives 20-year-old data on Ganymede

xeroks

tape to cloud?

Hopefully the content of those tapes is now stored in some more easiliy retrieved medium.

If you think about it, all the space missions we've done are likely to have data we didn't know to analyse.

Going back through the archives must be like re-reading a Douglas Adams novel - no matter how often you've read it previously, you will pick up something new.

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Tech bribes: What's the WORST one you've ever been offered?

xeroks

Re: Probably...

IIRC there are some states which oral sex is legally referred to as sodomy.

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2001: A Space Odyssey has haunted pop culture with anxiety about rogue AIs for half a century

xeroks

Re: a crystal tetrahedron pyramid

That is pretty horrible. I can see that using the block to celebrate the Queen's silver Jubilee might have been a good idea. but the design isn't great.

The artist, Albert Fleischmann, does some really lovely work in perspex, but I don't think this is one. Don't know if it was a "design by committee" problem or a very rushed implementation.

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xeroks

Re: For more details....

oh, I had that.

I may even still have it somewhere. It was an interesting read. though I really need to watch the film again, it's been so long.

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Just when you thought it was safe to go ahead with microservices... along comes serverless

xeroks

Re: Is it just me

"Give that servicing each of those requests now seems to have the overhead of spinning up the service that allegedly doesn't exist and closing it down afterwards it seems likely that the charge ought to be more."

I suspect you're right that the spin up /down will add to the cost. However, those costs are less than the savings made from not having hardware sitting doing nothing.

It's difficult to tell: while AWS prices are *extremely* compelling at the moment, they are in the game to make lots of money in the long term.

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xeroks

Re: Is it just me

"Or is 'serverless' just microservices but using a vendor-specific framework?"

Kind of. Microservices I've used have still been billed by the server. You can add scale-out rules - e.g. if your servers are at 80% capacity, then fire up an extra one. So you tend to specify the smallest, cheapest servers you can, automatically add more when you need them, and shut them down when you don't.

The serverless paradigm means you don't bother with that. You have 100 requests? You get charged for the processing required for those 100 requests.

I've not looked into what control you have over those tasks - you must be able to throttle them in the case of an exceptional number coming in at the same time.

As far as vendor-lock in is concerned, they're all at it. Microsoft's service fabric is a powerful framework for microservices, and while you're not totally locked into Azure, you are tied into Microsoft.

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Surprise UK raid of Cambridge Analytica delayed: Nobody expects the British information commissioner!

xeroks

Re: On the other hand...

"Maybe they are trying to give CA enough rope."

I'd love them to be super smart with Lizbet Salander on-side gathering evidence on the quiet. However, that's wishful thinking. CA will do either make like POTUS http://www.newsweek.com/2016/11/11/donald-trump-companies-destroyed-emails-documents-515120.html or will, as someone else suggested, have the salient data in cloud storage in another legal regime.

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Military techie mangled minicomputer under nose of scary sergeant

xeroks

For some reason mainframe machine rooms seem to be filled with devices that cause mayhem to many people.

In my first week as an op. I managed to power down one of ours twice.

That thing that looked like a desk with the monitor on it? The desk was the console, not the monitor. If *desk* is powered off, the whole thing goes down. And the designers put a power switch under the desk, exactly where you would rest your feet...

The designers also thought our mainframe would look good if it had some nice solid worktops. Solid enough for temporarily putting stacks of mag tapes on, great for preparing your work for the evening. However, they didn't think it would be a good idea to put a cover on the little control panel on the side. You know, the control panel that you could accidentally press with your thigh while temporarily piling mag tapes onto the worktop.

Remarkably I never hit the unprotected "emergency off" button by the door, but I know a couple of people who did.

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1980s sci-fi movies: The thrill of being not quite terrified on mum's floral sofa

xeroks

Re: Jabba the Hutt in 1983’s Return of the Jedi

What's the problem with Bluray? It has far better quality than DVD and streaming. and you usually get the same extras as DVD.

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Ofcom just told BT to up its game on fibre investment

xeroks

loss making excercise

Looking back to the 90's when many people got cable installed, you had many comparatively small companies doing the work.

AFAIK they were unable to extract the revenue to pay for that investment. After that initial round of cable laying, they stopped: any housing developments built since were not hooked up simply because the expense outweighed future revenues.

FTTP will be in the same boat. The infrastructure should be considered a public utility.

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Tom Baker returns to finish shelved Doctor Who episodes penned by Douglas Adams

xeroks

Re: DNA

"Dirk Gently is possibly the best Dr Who story never made."

Well, to be honest it does contain significant chunks of "City of Death" Not that he had any qualms about recycling good material!

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iPhone X: Bargain! You've just bagged yourself a cheap AR device

xeroks

"Tits on trees"

if you're interested in that kind of thing, I recommend a bird feeder. I have one and see loads.

Usually a blackbird or two make an appearance, and until recently load of goldfinches too.

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What do Vegas hookers, Colombian government, and 30,000 other sites have in common? Crypto-jacking miners

xeroks

also apps?

Interesting article.

It made me wonder about how prevalent and detectable similar techniques would be if implemented on mobile apps.

As an example, I recently started playing a iOS game. It's very engaging, so I spent far too long playing it over the weekend.

It is free, but with the usual opportunities to pay to remove advertising, boosts, customisations etc.

However, while I've been playing it, I've noticed my iPad (Air 2) gets pretty hot and chews through battery. It's only a platform-type game, and while there are quite a few animations going on, it doesn't look - to me - like it should be so intensive.

That got me thinking how easy it would be to include code running some other task - say bitcoin mining - in the background. These kind of games require internet access to fetch ads and content so any data transfer required to support the task could be easily disguised.

Is it possible to determine if the app is doing that? Or if it's simply inefficient coding that's causing my hands to get nice and toasty?

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Official Secrets Act alert went off after embassy hired local tech support

xeroks

Re: Too many stories like that one.

I missed so many meetings because of this. Turns out Outlook notifications and windows 7 do not play well together.

The "by design" action of the notification popup is for it to be hidden behind any other windows.

So: it pops up with something your not worried about.

You continue doing some work.

Something important triggers the popup to update - but is still hiding behind the thing you're working on.

Good news is that there's a fix. You can add a simple macro to outlook to make sure the popup is always on top. Works well for me.

https://superuser.com/questions/251963/how-to-make-outlook-calendar-reminders-stay-on-top-in-windows-7

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US Congress mulls first 'hack back' revenge law. And yup, you can guess what it'll let people do

xeroks

this going to go well

At least no-one will actually die, just spend the rest of their lives in legal disputes as the mess gets cleared up.

oh... was that a hospital system I just wiped?

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IKEA flat-packs TaskRabbit to crack assembly code

xeroks

"A component had half the holes drilled with the the component 180° out of alignment."

hmm. Are you positive it - or possibly the piece it joined up with - wasn't the wrong way up?

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Behold iOS 11, an entirely new computer platform from Apple

xeroks

iPad coding

It's not comiling, but the iPad is capable of running (+ IIRC debugging) javascript locally.

I've used this capabilty plus Textastic to throw together a few (small) applications in the past.

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Boffins grudgingly admit they may have found an exomoon

xeroks

Did someone lose their job over that? got a link?

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Autonomous driving in a city? We're '95% of the way there'

xeroks

Re: Quick thought

I understand the current proposal is that when in autonomous mode, the car is insured by the manufacturer.

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/self-driving-cars-insurance-rules-uk-government-autonomous-mode-vehicle-aviation-bill-a7595581.html

However, I agree that manual drive cars are likely to get higher premiums. But that will be down to stats: I expect that - until we get used to the new rules of driving - humans will be at fault more often than robocars.

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xeroks

Re: "Like a human"

Bumper-to bumper autonomous vehicles on the motorway.

All driving at 67mph.

Being slowly overtaken by a lorry, who has to get to the front before pulling in.

Highly efficient, but just kill me now.

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User left unable to type passwords after 'tropical island stress therapy'

xeroks

Re: One week at Bigger Blue.

A friend was a BT engineer in the 80's. They had to wear suits to any client visit, with overalls (on top!) when clambering through dust.

A suit on the first day at a job, especially first day ever, isn't unreasonable. Second day... you're right, he should have taken the cue from his colleagues.

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€100 'typewriter' turns out to be €45,000 Enigma machine

xeroks

Re: Ethics failure?

€100 seems steep for an old typewriter. Perhaps the seller was already making a huge profit already.

I remember reading (years ago) about a woman who sold her house to a bloke for double what she thought it was worth. She was very happy, even when, hours later, he sold it for double again to a supermarket who needed the land for their development.

Of course he knew about the supermarket's plans, but I suspect was able to gauge how much they were willing to spend.

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OMG, dad, you're so embarrassing! Are you P2P file sharing again?

xeroks

That's what I thought.

I've found streaming a cheaper way to legally listen to music a few times out of interest.

For instance, while being familiar with the singles, I realised I'd never actually listened to the Beatles albums.

I was able to stream them while at work, came across a lot of interesting stuff. Would I have spent >£80 to buy them? No.

Will I listen to them again? Possibly.

It can be great value for money. And some of that money gets back to the artist, unlike streaming or youtube.

(actually if I could trust it to go to the artist rather than the streaming company, I'd pay more for the service.)

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America's mystery X-37B space drone lands after two years in orbit

xeroks

the real question

The point of this vehicle - and the shuttle - is not about what it can put into orbit, but about what it can bring back.

They have spent a LOT of money giving themselves the ability to land space things from inclined orbit.

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Comet 67P's oxygen could be a breath of fresh air

xeroks

However, the presence of oxygen is a dead giveaway: there are oxygenic lifeforms on that rock.

The only open question is on whether they use photosynthesis, a chemical pathway, or both.

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CompSci boffins find Reddit is ideal source for sarcasm database

xeroks

correct use of /s in reddit

An important feature of reddit that I don't recall being mentioned in the article is that redditors are able to retrospectively edit their comments. Like many online comment environments with this feature, the etiquette is to add an "EDIT:" postscript explaining any changes.

The majority of sarcastic comments in reddit do not initially have a "/s", as the author expects the readers to understand the context, and that they were being sarcastic.

In the circumstance where the comment gets a lot of flack and downvotes, they will often edit their comment, adding something along the lines of:

EDIT: added /s - Don't you guys get a joke?

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Exploding femtocells: No need for a full recall, says Vodafone

xeroks

are these different from the femto cells Three supply?

Three gave me a femto cell unit because of lack of reception at our flat. No idea what model it is, but it's a very different design, just plugs into your ethernet.

Interesting Vodaphone charge so much for what seems a similar piece of teckery.

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Switch on your smartphone camera and look how fertile I am

xeroks

Escrow?

Companies whose hardware requires internet services to work should, in the event the product is dumped, provide the code to the customer base.

People would be more happy with buying a product if they had reassurances this would happen. It could be done via escrow if the company was concerned about giving away code while it was earning money.

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Put down your coffee and admire the sheer amount of data Windows 10 Creators Update will slurp from your PC

xeroks

Re: W7?

If the telemetry is purely to help diagnose crashes - no it shouldn't be, as MS would invest a minimum in their old platform.

If, however, the telemetry is to be used to target advertising, sell, pass to government agencies, or just hang around waiting to be stolen then I'm sure it's in the pipeline.

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Europe to push new laws to access encrypted apps data

xeroks

Re: And how exactly will this stop unmonitored random nutters driving cars at people again?

what it will do is make it easier to identify the bad guys.

If(I decrypt this person's message)

they are probably a goody

else

they are probably a baddy

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Boffins reveal how to pour a perfect glass of wine with no drips. First step, take a diamond...

xeroks

...yet no-one has applied the concept to wine bottles before.

Most invention is applying old ideas to new areas. If it makes the world a slightly better place, I'm all for it being patented.

I'm not clear though why the lip can't just be included in the mould - is that too fine detail for glass?

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The future of storage is ATOMIC: IBM boffins stash 1 bit on 1 atom

xeroks

Don't worry about it too much. I'm pretty sure we can go well beyond a single bit per atom. and there's always the option of 3Ding it.

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After 20 years of Visual Studio, Microsoft unfurls its 2017 edition

xeroks

Re: I count the word "mobile" there twice

Except the whole point of Core and Xamarin Forms is that they are cross-platform. You don't write an "android" app or a "windows" app.

At least, that's the theory.

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Tuesday's AWS S3-izure exposes Amazon-sized internet bottleneck

xeroks

Re: In an ideal world

but the point is ... your cloud solution has not been costed correctly, if it doesn't have that DR element.

While your accountants love cheap cloud it while it's all working, they won't if revenues start going down the drain.

Essentially you're placing a bet that it all keeps working. Depending on your business, that might be a risk you can deal with.

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Autonomous cars are about to do to transport what the internet did to information

xeroks

Re: Works for cities

I can't see auto deliveries working well where I live. At least not until there are car parking spaces available with some reliability.

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Apple's Watch charging pad proves Cupertino still screwing buyers

xeroks

Re: Don't understand the rage

and don't forget the BMW sat navs

The £1000 to have it in your car. So far, so expensive - but you'd spreadh the cost over some years, and recoup some in the resale cost.

However: £400 to update the maps? Really?

When a £200 touch screen device comes with lifetime mapping?

so: not only Apple.

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Devs reverse-engineer 16,000 Android apps, find secrets and keys to AWS accounts

xeroks

Not worked with 3rd party APIs on a commercial basis, but you could create your own webapi which made teh call to the 3rd party. It adds an extra step to any calls you make, but at least it's server to server and optimisable rather than across a potentially dodgy mobile connection,

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SpaceX makes successful rocket launch

xeroks

Re: Culture

It's an interesting note that he named the launch pads but not the rockets. It might just be because the rockets are expendable, even the first stages.

However, I'd like to think Musk is secretly using the the launch pads to test AI: that the name applies to the AI and not the hardware.

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xeroks

Re: What does it say on the landing pad?

it's the names of the ships, both are nods to Iain M. Banks.

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Fake History Alert: Sorry BBC, but Apple really did invent the iPhone

xeroks

Re: Invention of iPhone

The ground breaking elements of the iPhone were all to do with usability:

The fixed price data tariff was - to me - the biggest innovation. It may have been the hardest to do, as it involved entrenched network operators in a near monopoly. The hardware engineers only had to deal with the laws of physics.

The apple store made it easy to purchase and install apps and media. Suddenly you didn't have to be a geek or an innovator to make your phone do something useful or fun that the manufacturer didn't want to give to everyone.

The improved touch interface, the styling, and apple's cache all helped, and, I assume, fed into the efforts to persuade the network operators to give the average end user access to data without fear.

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