* Posts by Alister

3335 posts • joined 19 May 2010

Nutanix updates its stack, not just to distract you from EMC's big day

Alister Silver badge

Whenever I see the word Nutanix, for some reason I think it's a health food brand...

Virgin Atlantic co-pilot dazzled by laser

Alister Silver badge

Re: Filters or just control

Because we don't have to prove wrongdoing, or intent of wrongdoing, the mere possibility that you might do wrong is enough in this country. It would also allow for stop and search on a flight paths, i.e. virtually all of London, to see if anyone has a laser pointer in their possession as soon as there is a report of one being used.

If you can come up with any legitimate reason for someone to be walking around the streets with a high-powered laser on them then I'd be interested to hear it.

Why do cockpits even have windows that can be got at from the ground? Aren't the instruments inherently better than a pilot's senses? Isn't this the kind of low tech, easily fixable hole that made 9/11 serious enough to justify invading foreign countries and shredding people's rights?


You sound like you want the aircraft industry to completely re-design and rebuild every aircraft, and for every pilot to be extensively re-trained just to satisfy some weird self righteous notion you have.

Boffins freeze brains, then thaw them – and they're in perfect order

Alister Silver badge

Re: BTW if this works on other organs then lack of matching organs could be over

Do they still taste as good when lightly fried with a little olive oil and garlic?

You forgot the Fava beans... and a little Chianti.

Intel's Wind River preps server to deliver VMs into home routers

Alister Silver badge

What's the supposed benefit?

So why would you want a power hungry x86 architecture to run a modem / router?

Firemen free chap's todger from four-ring chokehold

Alister Silver badge

Application of an Ice Pack

...would, I am sure, have been less traumatic, and achieved the same effect.

Actually, thinking about it, if anyone approached my meat and two veg with a working Dremel, I'm pretty sure there would be sufficient shrinkage almost immediately.

Is tech monitoring software still worth talking about?

Alister Silver badge

My armadillo needs a new shell, the old one got bash'd...

Drone-busting eagles to darken Blighty's skies?

Alister Silver badge

wrong bird. You don't need eagles.

No, no, you need Penguins, definitely Penguins.

What? What do you mean they can't fly? They're a bird, aren't they?

Alister Silver badge

What a brilliant idea! So in the crowded sky over an airport, they want to introduce one of the largest Birds-Of-Prey.

I can see at least 2 problems:

1/ It's a big wild bird - what happens if it gets in the way of an airliner?

2/ It's a big Bird-Of-Prey. What are the local bird populations going to do? Panic, and fly away in great flocks, probably into the path of an aircraft.

Health Secretary promises NHS £4.2bn to go 'digital'

Alister Silver badge

The NHS is big enough that providers would switch over and follow the new rules even if they did kick up a stink at first. I'm really surprised how much the NHS doesn't throw it's considerable weight around.

But that's the problem,the UK government (and not just the present one but all of them since Trusts were introduced) have insisted that NHS Trusts should be as far as possible autonomous, (but with Central Government oversight) and therefore they don't have a cohesive purchasing policy, there is no functional central purchasing authority for providers to deal with.

Alister Silver badge

4.2 billion could clear the debt of the NHS, it could actually pay people what they need (nurses get a pay rise) it could allow Ambulance trusts to upgrade their fleet and not rely on auxiliaries.

Whilst I agree with you main points, I'm afraid that 4.2billion is nothing like enough to get the NHS back to a fully functioning condition. Successive governments of all colours have systematically thrown away the assets needed to maintain the service in an effort to achieve "efficiency".

Unfortunately, efficiency and good patient care are not always compatible.

It may not be efficient to have lots of local hospitals with respite beds, but suddenly, when you get rid of them all, you find that the big central hospitals don't have anywhere to discharge their patients to.

It is not efficient to have lots of Ambulance stations around a rural county, but if you close them, you suddenly find it takes a long time for Ambulances to get to the patient, especially in bad weather, because the vehicles are having to travel 30 miles instead of 3.

It is not efficient to have A&E departments in local cottage hospitals, but the alternative is long journeys for every patient to distant central hospitals, and Ambulance vehicles tied up with one patient for over an hour or more, even for minor injuries.

Pah, I really shouldn't get involved in these threads, my blood pressure goes up too much.


Bye-bye, BT: Finance director jumps ship

Alister Silver badge

"BT will make a further announcement if and when required," it said.


Not even BT's press team can use English correctly anymore...

It can't be "If and when required", it can be "if required" or "as and when required"

Microsoft explanation for Visual Studio online outage leaves open questions

Alister Silver badge

SQL Server 2014 memory allocation

Reading the blog here:


It appears there is a serious bug in SQL Server 2014.

In the SQL Server 2014 query optimizer they made significant changes to the cardinality estimation. I’m sure they were improvements but not for this query. The cardinality estimation was used to estimate a memory grant for the query (SQL preallocates memory for queries to avoid spills to disk, which are big performance problems and additional memory allocations, which create the possibility for deadlocks. The cardinality estimate is an important input into the memory request).

In this query, the memory grant estimation shot up from something pretty small to 3.5GB. Given that the server only has 48GB, that meant that it could run very few of these queries before it ran out of memory, causing every query in the system to back up and, essentially, serialize. That caused a traffic jam and resulted in so many of our customer requests timing out/failing.

The ultimate resolution, for now, is that we added a hint to the query that tells the query optimizer the maximum memory grant to use for the query. It’s expressed in % of memory and, for simplicity’s sake, we set it to 1% of the memory available for this (or more on the order of 160MB). That was enough to unclog the system and allow everything to flow freely.

It is not clear from the blog whether this is a custom version of SQL Server 2014 used internally by Microsoft, or whether it is the production release. If it is the latter, then anyone running SQL Server 2014 in SQL Server 2014 compatibility mode is likely to suffer issues with massive over-allocation of memory to queries and stored procs.

Maybe El Reg can clarify this?

That's cute, Germany – China shows the world how fusion is done

Alister Silver badge

During the experiment, sensors recorded the plasma's temperature at 50 million degrees Celsius (90 million degrees Fahrenheit). That's more than three times as hot as the core of the sun, which NASA estimates is a toasty 15 million degrees Celsius (27 million degrees Fahrenheit) – although the outer atmosphere of the sun is much, much hotter.

Please forgive what may be a stupid question, but why is it necessary to create temperatures hotter than the Sun's core? I would have thought that one of the goals of fusion experiments would be to create self-sustaining plasma at the lowest possible temperatures.

Is it the case that the lack of an equivalent to the gravity conditions at the Sun's core mean that we have to create higher temperatures to get the plasma to form?

Official UN panel findings on embassy-squatter released. Assange: I'm 'vindicated'

Alister Silver badge

* Alleged criminal.

Not at all. For skipping bail there is no presumption of innocence, he most definitely did it.

Alister Silver badge

So, the UN WGAD thinks that the UK should pay a criminal compensation because he's hiding from the law?

I can see that going well.

RSA awards 7-year infrastructure overhaul deal to Wipro

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Wasn't it Wipro who were looking after Talk Talk?

Who would code a self-destruct feature into their own web browser? Oh, hello, Apple

Alister Silver badge

Re: Ritual sacrifice

errors that others get don't recur when I'm there. Sheer terror on the part of the machine in question.

I have a reputation for this. Any user that calls me to look at what his machine isn't doing / is doing wrong usually finds that my standing behind them glaring at the machine makes all the errors go away...

Or maybe it's the 2lb Lump hammer I'm idly tapping on the palm of the other hand...

Alister Silver badge

He has now ditched Chrome and is rediscovering Firefox, a browser he has not installed, let alone launched, for years.

Oh dear.

Sorry Alistair, but that's not going to save the goat.

NASA seeks rocketeers for annual RockOn! shindig

Alister Silver badge

Obligatory: Ability to solder and US passport

I first parsed that as "Ability to soldier" and thought it was limited to the Armed forces...

But then I thought they were recruiting for astronaut training...

Leak – UN says Assange detention 'unlawful'

Alister Silver badge

You forgot one:

Arrest, Jail time.(for UK Bail breach) Extradition to Sweden... etc

Speednames 'fesses up, admits customers' emails are borked

Alister Silver badge

Last year the company brought in turnaround expert Steve Vaughan as non-exec chair to boost its fortunes

"What's that rack of servers doing?"

"It's storage for all our customers' inboxes, Steve"

"How much is it costing us?"

"Oh, about 2 grand a month"

"Right, get rid of it, go and buy some USB drives".

BT blames 'faulty router' for mega outage. Did they try turning it off and on again?

Alister Silver badge

Re: Horsefeathers -- was it a DDOS or a failed upgrade?


Ah right, thanks very much for the info, I didn't know that that was how it worked.

Alister Silver badge

Re: Horsefeathers -- was it a DDOS or a failed upgrade?

It wasn't a DDOS.

Not unless a DDOS can suddenly cause the BT network to be handing out non-routable addresses to customer equipment, which is what I saw happening last night to our business ADSL links.

Our router/modems were being assigned addresses in the subnet on their WAN interfaces, for a few hours, then suddenly they were assigned proper BT external addresses, and away we went.

Universal Credit slammed by MPs: Late programme branded 'unacceptable'

Alister Silver badge

The report urged the department to publish "a clear explanation of how the Universal Credit business case has changed since it last reported on the programme, including the effects of the Autumn Statement and transitional protection".

Please explain clearly, with diagrams, how far the goalposts have moved since the initial proposal.

All dimensions in millimetres, please show all workings.

Uber rebrands to the sound of whalesong confusion

Alister Silver badge

Paradigm shift?

However, Twitter's about to be be consigned to the dustbin of history, so we're ditching it as a news source

Is this a promise?


BT broadband is down: Former state monopoly goes TITSUP UK-wide

Alister Silver badge

Re: CHAP okay but no IP negotiation

It's slightly strange, 'cos at one point my WAN IP was showing as a non-routable - dunno where that came from.

I love you. I will kill you! I want to make love to you: The evolution of AI in pop culture

Alister Silver badge

Re: "The author who coined the terms robotics and positronics"

Check the etymology of "robot". It was Karel Čapek's brother, not Asimov who coined it.

The word robot simply means slave in Czech and it was part of the title of Čapek's play in the original language. It then entered the English language as a name for mechanical humanoids.

The word robotics, to describe the science of robot construction and development, was most definitely coined by Asimov.

Land Rover Defender dies: Production finally halted by EU rules

Alister Silver badge

I sort of understand the reasons for stopping production, although I do feel the vehicle has been let down by lack of investment, and particularly lack of any sales tactics at all.

What I don't understand is Tata/JLR's stated intent to produce a "New" Defender which is not going to be aimed at the commercial vehicle market, but rather will be yet another SUV.

Tata/JLR already produce 6 different models of SUV:



Discovery Sport


Range Rover Sport

Range Rover

Why on earth do they think that the market will sustain another one?

Major Hollywood studio eyes Paint Drying sequel

Alister Silver badge

Apparently, Barbara Broccoli is thinking of doing her own version, Licence to Spill, to be followed by Tomorrow never Dyes, following the adventures of Bond, English Garden Wall Bond... an ageing bricklayer and decorator.

You've seen things people wouldn't believe – so tell us your programming horrors

Alister Silver badge

I've... seen things you people wouldn't believe...

functions on fire in a copy of Orion.

I watched C-Sharp glitter in the dark near a programmable gate.

All those moments will be lost in time, like Ruby... on... Rails... Time for Pi.

AI no longer needs to fake it. Just don't try talking to your robots

Alister Silver badge

@ Mike 140

The original text was:

Don’t underestimate the importance of wheels to early 21st century AI

I fail to see what's wrong with it?

You could re-write it as:

"Make no mistake, wheels are quite important to early 21st century AIs"


Alister Silver badge

Re: Actually ...

This article is written by a buzz word fan with no real knowledge of AI, or some one trying to get funding for so called AI research. The examples are nonsense.

Have you not come across Alistair Dabbs before? He's a regular contributor to El Reg.

How to build a starship - and why we should start thinking about it now

Alister Silver badge

Re: you know...

you know...

...if it weren't for the dark ages, we'd be there by now.

Is that the dark ages that happened between 1972 and the present day?

as in, the last time a human managed to go further than LEO

Alister Silver badge

Every sub-atomic particle has an antimatter companion that is virtually identical to itself, but with the opposite charge. When a particle and its antiparticle meet, they annihilate each other while releasing a huge amount of energy that could be used for propulsion. However, we currently cannot produce and store enough antimatter for this to work.

What you need are Dilithium crystals, they can contain and control matter / antimatter reactions.

I thought everyone knew this?

TalkTalk CuffCuffs 'ScamScam CrimCrims'

Alister Silver badge

Re: Yep - definitely

If you pay peanuts - you get monkeys and in most cases incompetent monkeys who will try any way they can to make an extra buck out of your personal data... Time to come back on-shore me thinks

Except I'm not sure that bringing back support to the UK would be any better, you will still be employing people on minimum wages, who will still have the incentive to try and monetise any data they can get their hands on. Or are you suggesting that European workers are intrinsically more honourable and trustworthy than their Asian counterparts?

Alister Silver badge

Zero Tolerance

I was amused to read (on the BBC News report of this incident) that Wipo have apparently released a statement saying the Indian company has a "zero tolerance" policy on data theft.

Which is good to know, Isn't it?

I mean, what if they only had a 10% tolerance policy on data theft - would this mean you could keep 10% of what you steal, or that they only punish 90% of the staff who steal data?

Stupid bloody statement, really.

Lincolnshire council shuts down all IT after alleged 0-day breach

Alister Silver badge

Re: Why?

Ok, admittedly I live in a country far, far away from the UK, but I'm struggling to think of why a local council would have access to anyone's medical records.

Because, in the fucked up remains of the NHS, social care services (and mental health care, in some cases) are largely controlled and run by local councils nowadays.

Brit censors endure 10-hour Paint Drying movie epic

Alister Silver badge

I recognise that still picture!

It's from about 3hrs 47min into the film, a really tense period, with an unexpected dénouement...

US rapper slams Earth is Round conspiracy in Twitter marathon

Alister Silver badge

Re: So this is where we are...

To get publicity for your career, you have to look like an enormous dickhead on purpose instead of by accident, as is usual.

Well it appears to be a tactic Mr Trump is following.

Retailers urged to create 'CCTV-like' symbol to inform customers of mobile tracking

Alister Silver badge

Re: "... retailer’s smart phone app. " - IKEA

I'm surprised IKEA have an app you can install. Knowing them I would have expected to be given a load of source code, a compiler and instructions on how to build it myself

And you always end up with a couple of spare function calls, for some reason...

Data centers dig in as monster storm strikes America's East Coast

Alister Silver badge

Re: Travelling advice @Alister

"Reflective warning sign"

Is that not already mandatory car equipment in Britain?

There is NO compulsory equipment requirement in the UK in regards to cars, although a steering wheel is recommended...

Alister Silver badge

Travelling advice

The Royal Automobile Club are advising that the following items should be carried at all times when travelling in severe winter conditions:

Ice scraper and de-icer

Torch and spare batteries - or a wind-up torch

Warm clothes and blankets - for you and all passengers


First aid kit

Jump start cables

Food and a warm drink in a thermos


Reflective warning sign

Road atlas

Sunglasses - the glare off the snow can be dazzling

Mobile phone charger


I looked a right twat trying to get on the bus this morning...

Squeeze the banana to log into this office Wi-Fi

Alister Silver badge

I'm sorry, but why pick a banana, surely their MTBF is the lowest of just about any fruit.

Is hybrid cloud fundamental for your organisation? Tell us, readers!

Alister Silver badge

is hybrid cloud a fundamental for your organisation?

"The cloud" is really just marketing speak for hosting software on someone else's hardware, and in that sense then yes, it's a fundamental part of our organisation.

Most of our server estate sits as VMs on privately hosted virtual environments in various datacenters run by various suppliers.

The things we retain as on-premises are what's needed to make the office work, so we have Active Directory DCs, Exchange servers, file servers, and software repositories as either physical or virtual machines hosted in our own buildings.

Does this count as "hybrid cloud"?

I doubt it.

Boeing just about gives up on the 747

Alister Silver badge

Re: 0.3 of a plane?

I think I can see where Boeing have been going wrong, making one whole plane and then 0.3 of a plane I suspect is very wasteful and I doubt they get many orders for the 0.3, but I've been wrong before....

Ah, but if they make three x 0.3 of a plane but make each one a different third, then they could join them together after every three...

Alister Silver badge

747 started out as cargo aeroplane, but then they thought how many passengers they could get onboard. Blame, or cheer, Juan Trippe.

Sorry Graeme but this just isn't true.

In the early 1960s Juan Trippe was pushing Boeing to provide him with a passenger aircraft with twice the capacity of the 707. Joe Sutter was transferred from work on the 737 to design a passenger aircraft that would fulfil Trippe's wishes.

However, it is quite true that from the outset the aircraft was designed so that it would be convertible to a cargo aircraft with a nose-loading door, should it be required.

Microsoft: We’ve taken down the botnets. Europol: Would Sir like a kill switch, too?

Alister Silver badge

I really think the car analogy has been driven to excess


Alister Silver badge

Just waiting for the day when cops can execute a "search and seizure" of your home PC if it's identified as having a malware infection.

Popcorn sales will rocket.

Fears of fiber cable cuts, rogue drones menacing crowds at Super Bowl 50

Alister Silver badge

How dare you come on here and blatantly advertise a terrist training video!

Whilst you're at it, here's how to bring down Washington:


El Reg mulls entering Robot Wars arena

Alister Silver badge

What makes you think the new robots will employ any software? They're most likely to be overgrown R/C cars like the previous lot.

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