* Posts by Peter Gathercole

2953 posts • joined 15 Jun 2007

Elonex punts £99 Linux laptop

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

Oops. Pounds not dollars

I'm sure I used the pound symbol. Still, I guess they are next to each other.

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

Looks top heavy

I have trouble with my Eee on my lap. Because you are not on a flat surface, the feet at the back do not keep it at an angle, and the screen makes it fall backwards.

This thing looks like most of the weight is in the screen, which would be even worse! Still. less than $100, would be a bargain!

BitTorrent busts Comcast BitTorrent busting

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

Extreamly annoyed

I admit that the majority of torrents are probably copyright material (even Linux distro's are copyrighted, but the license allows free distribution), and much of that will be illegal use. But those "anonymous cowards" who claim it should be completely banned need lining up and shooting. Banning torrents outright would only mean that other tools would be used. And those people who *DO* use bittorrent it for legitimate purposes (and for what it was originally used before being hijacked) would be the victims.

And with iPlayer downloads (which are P2P) legitimise use for *SOME* commercial material.

It will become a constant technological war between RIAA and MPAA through the ISPs to stop illegal distribution of copyright material. Let's seperate this from the bandwidth/contention debate, and encourage the ISPs to sell more realistic services that charges for use. Cap according to purchased allowance, encourage heavy users to take out higher tier packages, and invest the money in ensuring that we get what we pay for!

Can anybody post links to credible information about traffic use statistics at any representative point on the 'net?

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

@AC - Capped at peak hours

I think that VM are one of the most communitive of the UK ISPs. If you want to find out about their AUP, then sign in to their "Customer Zone" and get details of your package. On that page will be a link to their AUP. Follow that, and you will find a link about their traffic shaping. Alternatitivly, look through their FAQ on broadband.

If you believe it verbatim, then it is only the top 5% of users during peak hours who get traffic managed. Their peak hours are defined as 16:00 to 24:00.

Having praised them on their openness, I find myself sceptical about what they say actually being what they do. My 8Mb/S line rarely goes over 25% of it's potential bandwidth for any traffic. My DSL router actually gives me a connection speed of about 7.4 Mb/S. This could be as a result of the upload speed of the site I am receiving from, but I have recently got a HSDPA modem which often downloads faster that my landline, even when only in 3G mode (my home is not in a "Turbo" enabled region). I suspect heavy contention, but can I get them to respond to mails asking what the contention ratio is?

Still, I could change, and I havn't. Must say something.

Virgin Media taps Microsoft in lengthy email outage

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

@Captain Jamie - Virgin Media support

Now you've hit a raw nerve. I have been a Virgin.Net customer for many years, and in general, have found the service fairly reliable (although this could be because I am not a cable customer, just ADSL), but their support STINKS.

I have a bare wire ADSL install to my own DSL router, to a Smoothwall firewall and then to a mixed wired and wireless network of Linux, MS Windows, Macs and even an AIX system (yes, this is at my home). I use a mixture of Webmail (for convienience) and fetchmail to pick up my mail from their mail server.

If I mention any one of these components in a support call, they just turn off and don't even bother to understand the questions.

I'm currently having capacity problems (I'm not getting even 10% of my paid-for 8Mb/s bandwidth), but am currently at the "have you turned off your computer and router and turned them back on" stage.

I took the rash action of sending them traceroute and ping timings to each of the hops, to show where the most likely bottleneck was, but I think I must have blown the recipients poor little mind, because I never heard anything back! They also took a very dismissive attitude when I complained that my allways-on link was being dropped several times a day, which screwed up my dynamic DNS entries. I now have to manually force my entry several times a day just so I have it working for some of the day.

One of these days, I will get so sick I will change, but I can mostly work without their help, so just get by.

My wife says that I should leave now. My coat is the one with all the network cable and micro-filters filling the pockets.

Jane Fonda c-word slip shocks US

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

Not just americans

The BBC has a ban on it. I remember listening to Front Row on Radio 4 one evening at about 21:30, and there was a woman artist describing a live art work that involved a woman sitting with her legs open with little clothing, and the artist used the word (sorry, I'm not afraid of the word, I'm just posting through a content screen which may identify the word and take action) to describe aspects of the work, and Mark Lawson nearly tripped over himself with a repremand to the guest and an apology to the listeners.

Laughed, I could have crashed the car!!

I think that there were a number of audience complaints recieved by the BBC.

UK teen is world's youngest certified ethical hacker (maybe)

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

Education for education's sake

We are in danger of using a very broad brush to tar the whole of the Computing education system.

Commenters have mentioned everything from boot-camps to degree level qualifications, and most of them have been negative comments.

There is a VAST difference between a tick-all-the-right-boxes test after a five day course, and a four year sandwich degree with yearly exams. And there is variation in these as well.

I was a product of the University system 25+ years ago, and still value much of what I learnt. I have since taught, both in Further education, and on get-them-through-the-test courses. Both can be valuable, but for different reasons. In many cases, it is HOW they are taught rather than what is taught that is important, and encouraging an enquiring mind is the desired result, and the certificate is a by-product.

I applaud this 16 year old, as he clearly has the right-stuff to go much further, and be a really useful person. He even acknowleges that he has much to learn, something that many people I know in the industry have not learned after 20 years.

I do believe, however, that the learn-by-wrote certification method leaves much to be desired, and value experience over certificates nearly every time. But those of us who say that experience is always better may not actually have learned enough to know their own limitations.

Viva good education, however it is delivered!

RIAA chief calls for copyright filters on PCs

Peter Gathercole Silver badge
Paris Hilton

People are uneducated and not disposed to learn.

The vast majority of them will just accept it, because they are told it is necessary by someone in a position of apparant responsibillity. We (the commentors of El. Reg.) do not represent the majority of the uninformed sheep that make up the voting public, and thus are the tail trying to wag the dog, and even we argue about such things!

Paris, because she represents the dumb masses.

Cable cutter nutters chase underwater conspiracies

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

@Tim Brown

Surely it must be Godzilla, although he (she) is a long way from Tokyo (homage to original nipponese films, not Hollywood). When do we have to appeal for Mothra's help to protect our Internet?

US Army struggles with Windows to Linux overhaul

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

...are tying themselves to Intel when they go with Linux?


I don't know of any OS which is available on a wider selection of the worlds 16, 32 and 64 bit processor archetectures than Linux. It would be easier to list the archetectures that have NOT had linux ported.

A quick off-the-top-of-my-head list of supported procs:

PowerPC and derivatives, ARM and derivatives, Sparc, MIPS, Motorola 68000 and 88000, Alpha, HP Precision, Itanium, zSystem (IBM mainframe), VAX, Transmeta, Zilog z8000, and oh, Intel and non-Intel x86 and derivatives.

I would be very surprised if there were not Prime systems with Linux running on them somewhere. Wonder what is the most obscure Linux port?

Physicists go nuclear with online protest at funding cuts

Peter Gathercole Silver badge


What has physics done?

Electronics everywhere, radio, microwaves, (more) efficient cars, light bulbs (all types), electricity generation and electric motors, weapon systems... do you want me to go on?

Remember, electronic engineering, mechanics, ballistics, fluid flow, advanced materials - in fact almost all science based aspect of our lives are affected by physics based research. Science subjects also overlap, so what looks like chemistry, biology or engineering often involves physics as well.

Anyway, it is not just physics that is affected by this funding cut.

Freeview lobby cries foul on Ofcom HDTV plans

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

DTV streams and quality

One of the problems with all of the current digital encoding methods is that the decoders guess a significant number of frames in the transmission stream, and this gets worse if frames are lost as a result of poor signal.

There are only complete frames transmitted every 10 or 15 frames (or longer on low bitrate channels), with deltas (differences between one frame and the next) transmitted in between. What is even more alarming is that some deltas effectivly say 'nothing new here, just interpolate from the last delta'. This is why with certain low persistance televisions (those with fast refresh rates) showing low bit rate channels, you get strange effects like someones facial features moving around on their face. This is masked by older CRT TV's with long persistance phosphors

What happens if you get a compromised bitstream (i.e. marginal signal) is that some of these deltas get lost. The reciever does the best it can, by interpolating (guessing) from the last frame and the last delta. This can lead to some very strange effects, such as parts of the picture apparantly floating in comparison to the picture as a whole. This is especially true if one of the frames lost was one of the completly new picture. The deltas arrive, and the decoder moves part of the picture which should have been the ball, for example, and what actually happens is that part of a player from a previous frame is moved instead. But as the picture is still digitally clear, the viewer does not see it as a signal quality issue. This is why the ball sometimes submerges.

The funniest is if a frame that corrisponds to a cut between scenes gets lost, and the deltas that should show a person moving (for example) get appplied to a plain background. This gives the illusion of a nearly invisible person, as the deltas show a vaguely person shaped part of the background moving independently of the rest.

The solution to this *REALLY IS* to check the signal strength and quality. Even low bitrate muxs rarely cause this sort of effect if they are being received properly.

What you do see with low bitrates is 'pixelization', where moving pictures look blocky. This is because areas of the picture which are similar are transmitted as a large rectangular block of solid or gradated colour to use less of the bandwidth, which should get refined in the following deltas. If there is not enough bandwidth, then the refinements never arrive before the next full frame, leading to the large areas becoming noticible. How bad this is is often down to the quality of the encoding hardware or software. This is sometimes where live transmissions look worse, because the hardware to do this in realtime is quite expensive.

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

@Anonymous Coward

Japan, Korea and Hong Kong are all parts of the world where technology rules. They will have very little concern about throwing out their current generation of TVs etc. As I understand it, the technophiles there rarely let a phone get a year old before replacing it. I'm sure the same is true about their TVs. Of course, they have heavy investment in making many of these consumer devices!

I'm sure that there are ordinary mortals as well, but that is how the media portray these countries.

Peter Gathercole Silver badge


I think they break up because you have poor signal quality, not because the bit rate is too low. It is possible to loose some multiplexes because of local conditions, and not all of the Mux's in your area will be broadcast with the same power.

On another note. I have Sky, and have also put freeview adapters on every TV in the house now, and I am horrified by this HD freeview proposal, and also by the possibility that Sky may start using their existing freeview bandwidth to carry incompatible transmission streams that you would need new equipment for (and probably have to pay Sky for).

The whole point of standards is that you can prepare for the future. I have only just got my parents to agree to have their aerial updated and DVB-T boxes procured ready for the digital switchover. If I say to them that they will have to buy another box in a few years time, especially if it is before analog switch off, they will not be amused.

The problem is that there was no forward thinking. If there was the possibillity of new kit being needed, there should have been a timetable so that people buying freeview boxes would know whether they could hold off. This would have affected early sales, but benefitted the viewers. It is really now too late to think of changing the current bandwidth.

I don't think that HD is really taking off, anyway. I bought SkyHD expecting there to be a vibrant set of channels available. We now have about 20 channels, several of which are pay-to-view film channels (SBO), and some of them are just upscaled normal channels (like Sky One HD), and some just arn't on air very long (like BBCHD). Looking at Discovery HD or the other documentry channels, there is really some stunning material around, but not very much.

Anyway, the choice of use of bandwidth on freeview is dictated by commercial pressures. Why should there not be two low-bandwidth shopping channels, rather than another retro drama channel. Let customers decide by ratings (and advertising revenue). I do agree about NutsTV, though. It must go.

Iran fires rocket 'into space', plans satellite for '09

Peter Gathercole Silver badge


Looking at the larger picture, entropy dictates that the Earth, Solar System, local galaxy et. al. will not exist forever, let alone Israel!

If you can just stop throwing the screwed up paper at me, I'll go to the coat rack.

Geeks fight the smelter with embedded processor-based box

Peter Gathercole Silver badge
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@Ole Juul

Ahhh, but text files ain't what they used to be. Gone are the days of CP437, 850 or ISO8859. We are now in the realm of Unicode and UTF.

Still, plain text (especially western languages mostly occupying 8 bits per character) in plain Unicode or UTF-8 will still be much more efficient than wrapping the stuff up in HTML or XML. I've not used Asian languages, so I can't compare these.

I still prefer my email like this. Makes the words more important if the formatting is ripped out.

Submarine cable cut torpedoes Middle East access

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

@Desi Banda

As someone who has worked both sides of the IT support fence for a high technology, high skill, non PC and Windows computing product (think propriority UNIX), I find that all of the criticisms of non-UK support centres are largely real.

When I worked in the UK support centre, we prided ourselves in high first-time-fix (60%+) rates. We had people who knew the product, and could talk intelligently about problems available on the first call. Our customer satisfaction rate was high, even though it was a centre for dealing with largely unhappy people (if they were happy, they didn't need to call).

I no longer work in the support centre, which has been partially moved to India, but I still have to call. My heart sinks when one of my calls is routed to India. Not only am I dealing with a complex product, with a lot of non-english words, but I am talking to someone for whom english is not their native language, who has probably learned from either an American, or another Indian.

I now find that it is simpler to just describe the problem in an email rather than having to describe the chvirtprt (for example) command. So, no first time fix. And many of my collegues feel the same.

All of the UK jobs lost were at or above the national average salary, except for trainees, who moved up over time. Where have the jobs to replace these come from?

I know that globalisation required it to be done to remain competative, and I also know that it is me affected, not Joe Bloggs on the street so there are sour grapes involved, but I cannot think it is good for UK customers, UK employees, or HMRC. And I think the benefit of NI and Income Tax, and all secondary tax (such as VAT) probably out weigh the shareholder and Corporation Tax benefits, especially if the company reports outside of the UK.

Please note that I am quite happy working with people from anywhere in the world, and have many non-european friends gathered over the years. I am just talking about the technicalities of fixing problems.

And to all of you anon. cowards (not Desi, though), if you really feel strongly, you should rant in your own name!

Do we need computer competence tests?

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

Read the article!

I have been reading Guy's articles for about 30 years, and I think he has a reasonable, balanced view of what has happened in the computing world in that time.

I think that you all ought to re-read the article (not just other peoples comments), because it is documenting a crisis of viewpoint (his), which I believe that many people who have been around long enough share.

He admits that what he is presenting is against his previously held views. When the 'net was new, it was largly (although not exclusivly) people who had an interest in the computers themselves who used it, and could thus protect themselves from the neo-vulnerabillities that were around at the time.

Time moves on, and the threats are now much more 'dangerous', the systems more complex, and the users more naieve. And the 'net is a more important part of our lives than ever before. Something needs to be done to prevent it being owned by malicious people, and he was presenting a possibe path as a talking point (and, boy, did it succeed).

But respect his experience. He knows a lot more than many of the journos out there. Don't call him names because he has raises an unpleasent option that neither he nor the rest of us really want. Try coming up with a workable solution yourselves that doesn't anger one of the parts of our community.

Power to you Guy, and I hope I will be reading what you write for a long time.

MPAA admits movie piracy study is 29% full of @$#%

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

@Mark and Law - Real loss and costs

The original "Real loss and costs" post was me, and I was posting anonymously during the day, because I was at work, not because I was ashamed of what I was admitting.

I want to ask what is the difference between using a non-traceable name like Mark or Law rather than Anonymous Coward. When I post non-anonymously, I actually use my real name, unlike some.


You are so English-centric. Much of the media I download is fan-subbed anime (and no, not hentai) that has not been translated to English yet, but has had English subtitles added by kind people in the fan community. I could import the Japanese DVDs, and they would even play on UK region 2 DVD players, but I would not be able to follow the dialogue. I suppose I could learn Japanese, but this is rather more a life choice that I have time for at the moment. Much of this media is *never* translated into English.

I would actually prefer to buy the titles up front, and I do feel a little guilty about downloading it, but if the producers value it enough to follow up on my supposed theft, they ought to value it enough to produce an English dub.


You state that the proprietry encoding adds to the costs. Of course it does, but the producers decide to pick up the cost for this from their cut, as I do not see the full price of their titles being any more than other DVDs. Also, it must be compatible with the documented standards, otherwise bog-standard DVD players would not be able to play the disks. This would rather be an own-goal if it were not the case.

CSS is well known, and will not add to the costs. Many of the other tricks they use involve corrupted VOBs, which cause computer DVD drives to barf when trying to copy, but are skipped over by the point at which the menu starts the title on the disk. This is not rocket science, and again does not add much to the costs.

Now, I have to sit back and see if the MPAA and RIAA come knocking at my door with an order to sieze my computers.

Major HTML update unveiled

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

@John Angelico

I would have thought that this would have been better attributed to Major Bloodnock and Bluebottle

[Bluebottle] ...pausing only to pull out his Boy Scout special all purpose handkerchief, he wipes up the Huzzahs until coming across the recumbant form of Private Eccles.

Intel walks out of OLPC project

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

@Simon re 'needles'

It is quite understandable why a child who has never seen a computer before might call the on-screen pointer a 'needle'. Why would they name it the same as a furry rodent? 'Mouse' is jargon that WE use out of convention, and actually describes the device not the pointer (WIMP - Windows, Icons, Mice, Pointers)

The OLTP does not even use a detached, movable pointing device, so the term 'Mouse' might even seem stupid to them.

I wish that people could get their heads around the fact that computers should not be used to teach computing, but as general educational tools. I think that educationalists lost sight of this fact when classroom computers lost the ability to be programmed by keen but poorly-trained teachers. My Father, who was a teacher for 30 years before computers appeared in the classroom taught himself enough to be able to develop material to teach Nutritional Science, Map reading, distance and direction and more on BBC Micros to make his students (Army Apprentices, not the brightest of buttons) interested in the subjects. He was told to move to IBM PCs, which were not provided with a programming language or graphics programming system, and completely lost interest, as capable as the machines were, they were too difficult to use. They were then just used to teach wordprocessing and spreadsheets, and a very few commercial teaching packages not tailored to the teaching environment.

The OLTP is an admirable project to use computers as tools but they make poor general purpose WINTEL computers (which is why Microsoft lost interest). They can be a library (with many more books available than any physical library that could be bought for a school), a distance learning tool, a note book, an entertainment device, a social networking tool. They can even be used to teach computing, but that is NOT their strength. They are also personal to the child (One Laptop Per Child), so can be used away from school to read the downloaded book, continue their studies etc. This extends teaching outside of the classroom, something teachers here struggle to do.

Download one of the demonstration images, and run it in a virtual machine on your PC and see what it can do, and then open your eyes.

Oh, and I am not advocating replacing teachers with them, but you can build as many computers as you have money (especially if they are cheap). You often cannot recruit and train teachers prepared to work where these kids live with just money. Tools like the OLPC can make the effectiveness of the available teachers there much greater, and prepare the children for the 21st Century, even if their living conditions are still in the dark ages. But I am not stupid enough to believe that they will learn if they have not got enough food.

Unfortunately, Intel and Microsoft (even with its charitable leanings) still look at this market as a revenue-generating stream or lock-in, even if only in the long run.

'Death Star' galaxy blasts neighbour

Peter Gathercole Silver badge


How can you get two masters confused. The quoted text is definitly HG Wells 'War of the Worlds'. E.E. 'Doc' Smith was Lensman and Skylark. Of the two, these galaxies colliding sounds most like Lensman. Anybody seen an Arisian or an Eddorean around yet?

(Fetches copy of Triplanetary, turns to page 7 [why don't books start on page 1]) and quotes:

"Two thousand million or so years ago two galaxies were colliding or, rather, were passing through each other. A couple of millions of years either way do not matter, since at least that much time was required for the inter-passage."

Interestingly, the copyright date in my copy (Granada, 1976 - Chris Foss cover) is 1948 when almost all astronomy was optical. Even got the time span within the right magnatude. Amazing man, and he was not even an astronomer. His doctorate (yes, he was really a doctor) was in chemistry.

Hacker defaces temples to OS X

Peter Gathercole Silver badge


Thinking back, there was once a (pre PC) company called Peach (I think their home computers ran Forth rather than BASIC), and of course, many people consider an acorn as a fruit (why not start the Archimedes threads again, many fanbois there), and if you consider flowers as well, there was Tulip (surprisingly, a Dutch computer company).

And extending it to peripherals, there was a very popular (although I hated them, I'm an IBM Model M fan myself) soft-touch PC keyboard manufacturer called Cherry.

But Apple must be a double-whammy, because is there not there a variety of said fruit named Macintosh?

Biometrics won't fix data loss problems

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

What they *meant* and what they *said*

I think that what Darling and Brown meant was that even though the criminals may have your bank account, NI, address, and childrens details, said criminals could not use it because they would not be able to do anything without your physical biometrics.

This assumes that all future credit applications will require a biometricly verified ID before it is granted. This may also close down the 'loans over the phone' service, unless someone sets up biometric actuaries to allow you to identify yourself remotely from the loan company (at the moment, it just requires signatures). Also, how are we to set up Direct Debits

What they appeared to say was that the data could not be seen without the biometrics. Imagine that.....

"Ring Ring... Good afternoon. This is the National Audit Office. We've been sent your child benefit details by Revenue and Customs, but we can't see it unless you come down and let us scan your fingerprints"

Repeat 17 million times.

No, biometrics will not PROTECT the data (which is what they said) but it may prevent it being USED. Or not. I'm sure you could scam your local Blockbuster, and get a few DVD's with the info. They will not check biometrics.

Remembering the IBM PC

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

@Paul Grey

Although the IBM RT/6150 was an early RISC computer, and built by IBM Austin, there is not really a huge amount that was carried across from the 6150 to the POWER RISC System/6000.

There was no code compatibillity (apart from re-compiling the source), no compatible media, no compatible devices. And AIX version 2 was even at the time an archaic UNIX version, being based on SVR2, when most people had moved on to SVR3 or BSD 4.3 and later based unicies with proper demand-paging.

Anybody who had used the tools to configure the VRM on a 6150 (it was essentially a hypervisor - in 1987!) would know that it really was a bodge, with the VRM presenting a larger virtual system to the OS than was physically present. Still, I guess that some of the work probably made it into the current p5 and p6 IBM systems.

Still, it was streets ahead of the IBM PC products that were around at the time, but Sun, Apollo, and numerous other small vendors (like Altos, Whitechapple, NCR et. al.) were selling much better workstations.

I had a 6150 model135 in my home until about 2001, with a megapel adapter and a 5157 (I think) at home. Unbelieveable size, weight (I still pity the poor removal man that carried it up two stories when we moved), and noise.

German amateur code breaker defeats Colossus

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

APL ...

... it's all greek to me!

The Champions heads for the silver screen

Peter Gathercole Silver badge
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Are currently on ITV4 in early evening. A bit cheesy but still worth a watch.

Phoenix hijacks Windows boot with instant-on

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

Bootstrapping Unix version 7 tape from a TU10

I remember sitting at the switch console of a PDP11/40, and switching in the following:

(load tape to load point)

100000 (dduddddddddddddddd examine)

012700 (dddddududuuudddddd deposit)

172526 (dduuuudududududuud deposit)

010040 (dddddudddddddudddd deposit)

012740 (dddddududuuuuddddd deposit)

060003 (ddduuddddddddddduu deposit)

000777 (ddddddddduuuuuuuuu deposit)

100000 (dduddddddddddddddd start)

(tape moves)

000000 (dddddddddddddddddd start)

ROM boot-straps? Paper tape. Pah. Real geeks use switches!

Macs seized by porn Trojan

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

@Anonymous Coward (Own3d)

Strip this post of the "technical" icon. He obviously does not understand what cron does, and probably does not even understand what a "Multi-User" and "Multi-Tasking" operating system really is! Probably even believes that you need more than one processor in a system to do more than one thing apparantly at once, like the PC World and Intel ad. people.

Cron will run a job when specified, as the specified user, regardless of who (or even whether anybody at all) is logged on. Root's crontab is an obvious place to put such an exploit, but an equally obvious place to look to find it! It indicates that the writer was not really that clever.

Apple's security system of using sudo-like protection for sensitive commands mean that it is actually quite difficult (but not impossible, this is a ) to surf as root on a Mac. But people are now very used to just do what they are asked to do by the system, without thinking (think most personal firewalls and the Vista over-the-top UAC). But modern systems are complex, and most home computer users make poor System Administrators, and know no better.

Tell you what. Get Microsoft (or their partners) and Apple to offer outsourcing of the admin. of home systems. Introduce change control systems, requests forms, helpdesks etc. to have software loaded or system changes made. It'll make using computers at home just like work!!

Then you would be 0wn3d!

World Cup Willie company loses case on own evidence

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

@Peter Gathercole (me)

On reflection, must have been stuff left over from '66, as I was in a different school in '70. Cheepskates.

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

Used in 1970

World Cup Willie was used extensivly for the Mexico '70 World Cup. I remember having key rings, and various other promo material given out by my Junior School.

Shame we went out in the quarter finals. Wonder what the stuff would be worth if I still had it.

Prince's anti-YouTube crusade halted by American mommy

Peter Gathercole Silver badge


You're slipping. I understood that one (or an I becoming a Martian - could it be contageous?)

Gatwick reduced to anarchy by 'computer glitch'

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

Regular occurance

I dual boot Linux (mostly) and Windows (infrequently) on my laptop, and twice a year have the problem that the RTC on the laptop (which Linux expects to be UTC) is 'corrected' by the stupid way that Windows manages the DST change.

Funny, UNIX has been doing this correctly (or nearly, it used to have the US dates for the switch hardcoded into libc.a) for longer than Windows has been around. Presumably Microsoft implemented Xenix to do it too, but were then not capable of implementing a proper clock display method for Windows.

My guess is that it used to be "Oh well, they are just Personal Computers anyway, it's not important. Nobody will run any critical servers using Windows".

Just another oversight.

Sigh. Coat on.


Microsoft sics worldwide braintrust on XP vuln

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

Is the universal translator on the blink?

... because I have read what amanfromMars has written several times, and I still don't understand it!

RIAA aims lawyers at usenet newsgroup service

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

I must preview my comments

UUCP - UNIX to UNIX Copy Program. Damn, damn.

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

Uunet pre-dates the Internet

Usenet and it's predecessor uunet (not the ex-ISP) existed before the Internet as we know it (and even ARPANET).

Back in the days of modems, there was a network (topoligical net, not physical connections) of UNIX systems which regularly dialed each other up via telephone lines with UUCP (UNIX-to-UNIX Copy Protocol). This was used to exchange mail and newsgroups. This is where sendmail and nntpd came from. It was used extensively by educational users of UNIX to post mods to the UNIX source code (which was available at media distribution costs to University and Collages for non-commercial and non-teaching purposes). My word. How history repeats itself! Bit like Linux then, but a smaller community.

For those who remember it, mail addressing used to look something like (and I mean something, because my memory is shot) user!host1!host2@host3, where you would specify the complete set of hops to get to the destination system. This was fortunatly simplified by smart hosts like ihlpa (an AT&T run system in Indian Hill, Chicago) and others that used to act as mail routers. It is only recently (last 8 years?) that source-routing of mails was blocked by the default sendmail setup. Email and newsgroup posts often took hours or days to get to their destinations, depending on the polling interval of the systems in the path.

Ancient history now, but interesting.

I'll get my coat for being a sad geek.

MP warns against Microsoft monopoly in e-gov services

Peter Gathercole Silver badge
IT Angle

DVLA EVL (Electronic Vehicle Licencing)

"... delivered through open source components".

Yes. It uses Apache as the webserver, and Java to run some of the harness code, but that's about it. Otherwise it is AIX, Oracle, QAS (on Windows) and Weblogic.

Only Sky can save digital TV

Peter Gathercole Silver badge


I agree with almost everything said about Sky and will not defend their anti-competitive practices, but I still value having access to the channels that Sky carries. I am a Sky HD subscriber, but in general I do not watch any of the Sky branded channels.

I value it for some of the niche channels. I enjoy watching Anime (no... not that sort) and can only find that content on channels like Propeller and AnimeTV. I also watch the HD content from the BBC and channels like Discovery (but not Sky HD), which is breathtaking. I think that many of the readers could also broaden their minds by watching some of the non-english channels (and this actually should include Al Jazeera), to get some non-western perspective on the world. Without Sky as a delivery vehicle, I would not get this.

But then again, the Sky produced content is (with the exception maybe of "The Hogfather") rubbish.

P.S. What are these ideograms at the bottom of the comment box supposed to represent?

ISP bosses told to get real on broadband speeds

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

Bandwidth limiting

If you read exactly what Virgin Media say, it is not a fixed threshold that you have to cross. You just have to be in the top 5% of users in a month. I'm not sure the exact scope of who you are being compared to. I would hope it was banded with the package. I would hope that my (up to) 8Mb/s would not be compared to people on the 0.5 Mb/s that Virgin offer, otherwise I am stuffed!

Also, you are bandwidth limited for the next month only, and only during the 'peak' periods. Still, this is mainly when I want to use it.

And yes, I can do many gig a month completely legally, and on occasion, I can get 1MB/s (yes, bytes, as measured by a bittorrent client [this was an ubuntu install CD download]), but this is unusual.

BOFH: You think you know a guy...

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

It lives

Instructions given by Steve Medway did not work, unfortunatly. Holding Shift and Delete while turning on the power did! NVRAM must have been well and truly corrupt.

Desktop restored. Now all I need to do is find the application disk, and work out what I want to do with it.

Peter Gathercole Silver badge


OK, left a bit, up a bit, FLAME.

Yes I said A440. I'm going to be told that the first RISCiX system was actually an R140, aren't I.

Peter Gathercole Silver badge


Gawd. I asked you not to flame me.

I assert that I do own the aforementioned 3000 series Archimedes, but I will admit that I never really used it. I was really a BBC micro enthusiast, using it to teach computer appreciation at a Polytechnic in the early 80's (if you are not a BEEB fan, you would not believe what were able to attach to it). I had the chance to buy this Arc. at a car boot. I did power it up, but it was mostly looked after by my oldest son. He has now abandoned Acorn systems for a Windoze PC (he's been sent to Coventry now), and I just could not face throwing it out.

I did not transition from BBC to Arc myself, because my OS of choice is UNIX (real, genetic UNIX derived from Bell Labs. code, and also by association, Linux), but I always kept a soft spot for Acorn systems. (And yes, I know A440 class systems run/ran RISCiX and that Linux is available, but the hardware used to be expensive)

I also assert that, bloody hell, it's over 20 years ago that some of this happened. I'm significantly the wrong side of 40 now (pushing 50), and much water has passed under the bridge. I was away from home when I posted, and could not 'just pop upstairs' to have a look at it. It is an A3020, for those who were wondering.

Peter Gathercole Silver badge


Yes. I admit. I was confused (comes of getting old, and anybody who was using these systems will be getting on, even a little bit).

I also have an A3050 (I think, please don't flame me) with green keys, but it does not start Arthur any more. Gets stuck with a *OS prompt. It runs all OS commands, and if I remember, it will start Basic using the whole screen. I never got into RiscOS to know how to fix it. Any ideas?

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

British Broadcasting Corporation Computer

My BBC model B, board issue 3 with patch leads and all, serial number in the 1000's is still (very) quietly ticking along. Brilliantly built machine (apart from the keyboard PCB, where the tracks keep breaking). Such a good teaching system.

Problem is, I don't appear to be able to buy blank soft-sectored 5.25 floppies any more! And does anybody know how to link it up to my Gigabit Ethernet! An Econet-to-Ethernet bridge would be good, except that I never upgraded my own BEEB for Econet.

Bit of history. The BBC were sued for using "BBC" as the brand for the computer. A company called something like "Brown Baveri" used to produce a Modula 2 compiler and had registered a "BBC" trademark for use with computers, and stopped the British Broadcasting Corporation from using the abbreviation. Sometime around the board issue 7 systems, BBC disappeared from the perspex function key strip cover to be replaced with the name spelled out in full.

Peter Gathercole Silver badge


Wish I would learn to do my research first. It was "Brown, Boveri and Cie" (it's in Wikipedia, of course).

Peter Gathercole Silver badge


I'm not sure that the Archimedes ever carried an owl logo. This was the logo for the BBC micro, not Acorn, and although the A1000 may have been marketed as a BBC micro, I don't know that it carried the logo.

I am prepared to be proved wrong, especially if someone can post pictures.

Palm, Vodafone launch slinky Treo 500v

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

Good for button pushers?

So. No stylus.

Does it have a touch sensitive screen at all?

Microsoft spins standards defeat into victory

Peter Gathercole Silver badge


It depends if you are using the English or French name of the organisation. Generally in Europe, the French name is used.

Newest Ubuntu dubbed 'Hardy Heron'

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

Linux as good as Windows - wishful thinking - maybe not.

The problem that the anonymous poster above has ignored is also a fundamental problem with the Open Source community. Because the OS is free, people only look at the free applications.

There is NOTHING to stop commercial software providers from writing software that runs on Linux that needs to be purchased. The only barrier to this in the past has been the penetration of a particular distro reaching a critical mass for the software writers to notice. Ubuntu has a better chance of doing this that ANY other Linux distro to date!

When this happens (and this is a big when), expect equally high quality applications. I'm sure that most users do not really care what the OS is, but do about the availability of apps.

So, everybody. Install, enjoy and tell the world that you are a Ubuntu user.

ATI driver flaw exposes Vista kernel

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

Unfound security holes in Unix-like OSs

What many people forget is that most Unix or Linux reported potential vulnerabillites are just that. Potential.

The advantage that these systems have is that the code is open to inspection. Many (but obviously not all) of the reported holes are as a result of buffer-overruns, which have been identified by syntactic analysis of the source code. What is found is that buffers overlap, or have unbounded copy operations performed on them. This means that something will be affected, but it is unlikely that many of them will have real security exploits, although DoS exploits may be possible.

Contrast this to secret code. Only the code-owners and their trusted partners (who will have signed non-disclosure agreements) have this level of access. Most published exploits are real, with proof-of-exploit code available.

Which of these flaws is more dangerous. And how many more 'potential' or real exploits remain in secret code supplied to millions of trusting users. It really makes a mockery of comparing the numbers of reported flaws in closed and open software, as certain well known OS suppliers do.

Open Source really is more secure, because ANYBODY can look at it to identify faults. And if they are any good, as well as finding holes, they can even fix them.

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