* Posts by Alister

3335 posts • joined 19 May 2010

Boffins: We know what KILLED the DINOS – and it wasn't just an asteroid

Alister Silver badge

"Oh FFS how am I going to explain this one?"

"Quick, pass me that asteroid... No not that one, the big one over there"

Heeeuuugh... CRASH!

"Ha, that'll keep 'em guessing"

Alister Silver badge

Maybe I'm mis-remembering, but I thought this link had been posited before.

I'm sure I remember reading that at the time of the Chicxulub impact, the Deccan Traps area would have been almost directly opposite on the other side of the Earth, and therefore were very likely to have been caused by the shockwave of the Chicxulub event - much like the exit wound from a bullet's impact.

THESE ARE THE VOYAGES of the space probe Discovery

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Because she's in the sky with diamonds!

MYSTERY PARTICLE BLASTS from Ceres strike NASA probe Dawn

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mystery particle blast which rattled the probe's sensors

Shame on those Boffins!

Don't they recognise the signature of an energy weapon when they see one?

The message couldn't be clearer... STAY AWAY!

Slander-as-a-service: Peeple app wants people to rate and review you – whether you like it or not

Alister Silver badge

This has 'deformation of character lawsuit' written all over it.

Interesting concept, bent, but not broken...

I think you meant defamation...

Twitter signs Edward Snowden to write for them for free

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Re: The Man is a Traitor

Who has Betrayed God's Own Country,

What, Wales??

Alister Silver badge

Re: Politicians really hate it

...irresponsible journalists stoking conflict in the interests of circulation.

What an utterly ludicrous set of claims - the latter verging on an antisemitic conspiracy theory.

You have heard of William Randolph Hearst, have you?

BBC joins war against Flash, launches beta HTML5 iPlayer

Alister Silver badge

Re: About time...

I'd just like to say, Thank Fuck For That!!

Finally I can completely ditch Flash. IPlayer was the only reason it was still on my machines.

Find shaving a chore? Why not BLAST your BEARD off with a RAYGUN

Alister Silver badge

Re: Men with beards have invented a razor which shaves with a laser.

Let's just say that "downstairs" razor burn is no laughing matter. Well, I wasn't laughing anyway...

Hmmm, you've seen the reviews of Veet For Men, I take it?


Brings tears to your eyes...

Herbie goes to a hackathon: Mueller promises cheatware fix

Alister Silver badge

Volkswagen is going to spend up big getting rid of its troublesome cheatware

Why is everyone reporting it this way?

My understanding of the issue is this:

Every modern car - and by that I mean both Petrol and Diesel powered vehicles - uses software to manage the way the engine runs. This software relies on a large number of sensor inputs, including throttle position, engine revs, road-wheel speed, air intake pressure, etc, etc, to determine the settings for fuel/air mixture, spark timing (for petrols) injector pressure and so on which govern the efficiency of the engine and ultimately what pollutants it produces.

In all cases, this software needs to be able to recognise the unusual situation presented when a vehicle is on test - the driven wheels are turning at high speed, but the undriven wheels are stationary, the air intake pressures are low, suggesting the vehicle isn't moving, and so on.

In the absence of any instructions to the contrary, the vehicle software would probably assume a fault, and shut the engine down.

There is therefore a part of the software which recognises this test condition, and in effect tells the computer to ignore certain sensor inputs, and run using a number of preset default settings.

What Volkswagen is alleged to have done is to alter these default settings to artificially restrict the engine to run in a mode where it's pollutants are minimal, a mode which is not available in normal running conditions.

However, you can't REMOVE the software, as is being reported everywhere, if you did, the engines wouldn't work properly.

All that is needed is for the Volkswagen Group cars to have their test running parameters set back to a mode which reflects normal driving.

Whilst not insignificant, the cost of changing the parameters used by each car whilst running in test mode (by a firmware update or similar mechanism) should be fairly small, compared to completely replacing the software.

'Miracle weight-loss' biz sued for trying to silence bad online reviews

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The FTC says Roca Labs has gone so far as to file suit against customers who posted negative reviews and comments, claiming violations of the terms and conditions.

I am, happily, not conversant with American legal practices, but does the above mean that somewhere, a lawyer was happy to accept these filings as cases which he / she thought they could win in a court of law?

I'm sort of surprised at that - although I admit my naivety.

Audi, Seat, Skoda admit they've been fiddling car pollution tests as well

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Re: Never mind the fines, think of the SAVINGS

Language does change over time?

I'm fed up of seeing this trotted out as an excuse for ignorance or poor education.

Yes, language does change over time, but not to the extent that the word "of" will ever have the same meaning as the word "have".

Language and grammar have rules, in part so that non-native speakers can learn the language.

English is already one of the harder languages to learn, but what chance does anybody have of learning to speak and write it correctly if arbitrary nonsense is allowed to become the norm?

This doesn't happen to other languages as far as I'm aware, so why is English considered fair game for such abuses?


WATER SURPRISE: Liquid found on Mars, says NASA

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"Liquid water has been found on Mars," said Jim Green, director of planetary science at NASA Headquarters at a press conference on Monday.

Um, no.

"Traces left by liquid water, have been found on Mars"


World panics, children cry, workers sigh ... Facebook.com TITSUP

Alister Silver badge

Apparently the cache server needs a repaint, or something...

Pasta is now a THING, says Cisco

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I insist that each strand of pasta has it's own IPV6 address, and a temperature sensor, so that I can remotely query them to see if they are all cooked.

SPOOKY new Pluto snaps will make the HAIR RISE on the back of your neck

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Re: @Rich 11

Dexitroboping pre-dates Star Trek by about 20 years, or maybe more - I can't be arsed to look up when that particular book was published.

SONY HACK WAS WAR says FBI, and 'we're still struggling to hire talent'

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Interesting scale he's developed, apparently all "hacking" is either politically motivated or crime related.

I wonder where on the scale he would place Gary McKinnon, or even any of the thousands of script kiddies I can see knocking on my firewalls every day?

Not all "hacking" has malicious intent.

Blood-crazy climate mosquitoes set to ground Santa's reindeer

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Re: In other festive-season related recent climate news...

in as much as you mimic my name

Pah! you're just a pale imitation of the inestimable Mr Dabbs :)

However, as one of the clan-who-shall-never-be-spelled-correctly,-no-not-even-by-family-members, have an upvote in return.


Alister Silver badge

In other festive-season related recent climate news...

Oh Gods, not you as well!


I don't care if the retail trade think it's Christmas already (our local supermarkets all have their XMAS displays up now) there's THREE WHOLE MONTHS to go, a quarter of the year, so please El Reg, shut up about it already.

Bah, Humbug!


Scotsman cools PC with IRN-BRU, dubs it the 'Aye Mac'

Alister Silver badge

Re: pronounced “Iron Brew”?

But not as unholy as a friend's Mum's accent. She's from southern Spain, and married a Glaswegian. She learned her english from him. Glaswegian with a strong spanish accent is interesting. I'd love to hear him speak spanish though.

I used to know a bloke who was an Italian prisoner of war, who stayed on and married a local girl from North Derbyshire. He spoke English with an Italian / Derbyshire accent - a most remarkable combination!

Alister Silver badge

Re: So, not Irn-Bru

@James Micallef

They're not technically valves (although they are) they are Nixie Tubes, and display digits.

BOFH: Press 1. Press 2. Press whatever you damn well LIKE

Alister Silver badge



Brilliant, I'm just off to amend our Asterisk conf files for the IVR menu

We are the Knights who code Ni!

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Re: We don't want this

Alas, even those who arrange and design shrubberies are under considerable economic stress at this period in history!

Microsoft has developed its own Linux. Repeat. Microsoft has developed its own Linux

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Re: Anyone for Lindows?


Why the hell would they even consider a desktop OS in Linux? What possible benefit would they accrue from doing that?

They've produced this embedded code to carry out specific network functionality, but in what way you could think that that would transfer to creating a desktop OS I have no idea.

Architect of UK’s hated Care.data scheme quits NHS, flees from Britain

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"Over the past three years Tim has brought his infectious energy and creative expertise to the vital drive for open, transparent and technology-enabled health services."

Rarely have I seen such a blatant misrepresentation of the facts...

Oh wait, this is a British Civil-Servant... as you were...

Look out Aussies, you're next.

SPACED OUT: NASA's manned Orion podule pushed back to 2023

Alister Silver badge

Since then, NASA has laid out new plans to ignore the Moon, build the SLS, and gradually develop it from its initial relatively feeble configuration (able to lift 70 tonnes to orbit) into a real heavy-lifter more powerful than the 118-tonner Saturn Vs of yesteryear. Such an SLS Block 2 would perhaps be able to lift an Orion plus the necessary lander and habitat for a manned Mars flight.

Surely no-one really thinks that a direct Planet-surface to Mars mission is a sensible idea? Why would you burden the Mars-bound spacecraft with the necessity to climb out of Earth's gravity well?

Earth orbit is the only sensible starting point for a Mars mission, whether you build the craft there, or lift the completed thing up from the planet before fuelling and provisioning.

All in all, it's just another hit in the stalls: Roger Waters The Wall

Alister Silver badge

Roger Waters The Wall

Curiously, when I saw that headline, I thought it was some bloke called Roger taking a piss...

Hmm... not that far off then..

AT&T grabs dictionary, turns to 'unlimited', scribbles it out, writes: '22GB a month'

Alister Silver badge

Re: Dictionary attack

The situation reminds me of the rail companies in the UK who are liable for fines for running a late service.

And what a stupid idea that is, too.

Train services are usually delayed by problems with signalling, availability of the rail network, stock breakdowns or incidents like someone jumping in front of the train - none of which are the rail companies' fault, and none of which are within the rail companies' control, except perhaps stock breakdowns, but even then it could be leased stock, so not directly under their control.

So what is the point of fining the rail company? Because it feels like punishment, and satisfies the baying hordes, that's all.

Homeland Insecurity: OIG audit identifies numerous deficiencies

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A file potentially containing sensitive information was unprotected on a USSS website. Viewing this file could give an unauthorised individual detailed system information about the web server that hosts the website

Probably robots.txt

US Catholic Church launches app for Jesus-phone

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with homilies such as “A Christian who is attached to riches has lost his way” and “Scientific and technological progress cannot be equated with the progress of humanity and history”.

Hmm, both those could be taken as a dig at Apple worshippers...

This new new chip will self-destruct in less than 10 seconds

Alister Silver badge
Black Helicopters

I await their implantation into the skull of all agents - ask them the wrong question and BOOM, no brain left...

I've seen it on the telly, it must be true...

Journos to be spared replacement by robots, BBC claims

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Re: Teachers

Teachers... are an ever-present danger as they may encourage pupils to actually think.

IME not much chance of that, my daughter seems to be actively encouraged to learn-by-rote, and not inquire further, or otherwise distract from the "educational" process. Asking questions is frowned upon.

IPv6 is great, says Facebook. For us. And for you a bit, too

Alister Silver badge

We’ve observed that accessing Facebook can be 10-15 percent faster over IPv6

Maybe that's because hardly anyone is doing IPV6 lookups at the moment...

Anti-peeping-tom drone law nixed in California

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Super Cali's Governor Brown something, something ... ah screw it

How about:

Super Cali's Governor Brown says he's not officious, to ban the drones hovering is something quite atrocious.


Alister Silver badge

There seem to have been a number of "baffled Boffins" stories recently with regard to images from space. Could it be that our perceptions of how things should be are being challenged by all this new data, or is it that we have a lower grade of Boffin these days?

Why did the chicken and CHiPs cross the road? FOWL-UP foiled in Oakland

Alister Silver badge

...Stonehurst Edible Schoolyard, where several chickens had recently died. The circumstances of the school chickens' deaths were not stated

Erm, isn't the clue in the title? Stonehurst Edible Schoolyard.

They obviously teach kids how to capture and eat the chickens!

Batteries on wheels are about to reshape our cities and lives

Alister Silver badge

Re: Bah!

I have some serious reservations about the technology, chiefly the one where a Google car with a Realdoll crew is barreling down I-95/the M1 with a trunk/boot full of fertilizer and diesel fuel bound for somewhere about to have some of its people and infrastructure thrown about with scant regard for life and limb.

Fascinating. I'd never considered it, and I bet no-one pushing for early adoption of the technology has either, but the use of an autonomous vehicle for criminal / terrorist acts raises some interesting possibilities. You obviously have a paranoid mind :)

Alister Silver badge

When an insurer looks at the liability profile of an autonomous vehicle - versus a human who can be tired, distracted, drunk, or just plain angry - it’s looking quite likely that autonomous vehicles will cost next to nothing to insure, while the cost of insuring human drivers will skyrocket.

I think that's a rather naive view of the insurance industry. What will actually happen is that insurance for autonomous cars will remain at current rates, and insurance for human drivers will skyrocket.

Insurance companies are not altruists, they are in it to make large profits, and they certainly won't lose their core revenue by lowering rates unless they absolutely have to. I think it will take government legislation to force them to lower their rates for autonomous vehicles.

As McAfee runs for US President – we ask a crucial question: Will Reg readers back him?

Alister Silver badge

Re: Nah

If he gets installed in the White House, you'd never fully get rid of him afterwards.

Maybe we could give him a thirty-day trial?

Alister Silver badge

Re: American Politics

Crazy, idiotic, paranoid and criminal, Americans have repeatedly voted in presidents that fit one or more of these attributes.

However, never before have they considered one person with all those qualities...

BORN to HURL: Man's shoulders are head and shoulders above apes, gorillas, chimps etc

Alister Silver badge

A contradiction

You quite rightly quote The Hitchhiker's Guide with regard to the origins of Krikkit and yet earlier in the same piece you say:

the trusty bat that is the mark of an advanced civilisation with time to devote to leisurely, non-warlike pursuits.

Only on Earth was the memory of the dreadful Krikket wars remembered dimly, and considered a fit subject to turn into a slow, boring, incomprehensible game by the race known as the English, and it is for this reason that the rest of the galaxy shuns us.

Roll up, roll up: Microsoft, those Irish emails and angry Feds

Alister Silver badge

The thing is, this case should never have come up.

If the US Justice Department had followed correct procedure and asked the US government to ask the Irish government for access to the data, as per the existing agreements, then all would have been well.

Instead, they chose to take the high-handed shortcut of demanding the data direct from Microsoft, who quite rightly (and perfectly legally) refused.

So now they're trying to use bully-boy tactics to force Microsoft to do something against the law.

This is the "Justice" Department, how ironic.

Apple hypegasm countdown. What will the new, big iPad ACTUALLY be called?

Alister Silver badge

its spelled B-A-R-E-L-Y L-I-T-E-R-A-T-E.

Oh the irony...

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NASA wants to send HEDGEHOGS to Mars

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Re: Damn...

My first question was going to be why hedgehogs?

Because: the hedgehog can never be buggered at all


You tried to hide your extramarital affair … by putting it on the web?

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Re: Madison and Ashley

Yep, one of the Olsen Twins is an Ashley as well.

I think Dabbsy is a little behind the times here - or showing some British reticence,

It appears Americans will name their kids almost anything, and sadly we Britons are following blindly.

How do "Future" or "Royal Reign" grab you as daughters names?


Drones need their own version of Asimov's laws of robotics – MEPs

Alister Silver badge

Re: Spurious attempt to add Asimov's gravitas to unrelated regulations

@Michael Strorm

Besides which, the three laws were in effect aimed at the artificial intelligence underlying these robots. Current consumer drones are human-controlled with (at most) limited automatic behaviour in certain situations that doesn't come close to Asimov-level "intelligence",

That was rather my point...

Reg reader shares AshMad blackmail email about which he gives 'zero f***s'

Alister Silver badge

Re: If he was already in the process of a divorce

Perhaps the same thinking that led him to sign up for Madison in reaction was behind the start of the nasty divorce or if the sign-up or similar behaviour was a pre-existing thing and part of a pattern leading to the divorce?

Quite frankly, I can't see that it's any of your damn business, and speculation about "Dave's" reasons for either his divorce or signing up to AM are not something that should be aired and discussed on this forum.

The story was published to show the sort of blackmail methods and threats that certain scumbuckets have tried to use on those who appear in the database.

The morality or otherwise of using sites like AM is besides the point.

Bored Brazilian skiddie claims DDoS against Essex Police

Alister Silver badge

Quite proud...

communicated with El Reg in what is either non-native English or fairly sophisticated stylometry-foiling jargon.

Since you used this self same phrase in your last article, I guess you're quite proud of having dreamed it up...

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