* Posts by Peter Gathercole

2924 posts • joined 15 Jun 2007

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.

BSkyB buys Amstrad

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

He was into HiFi first

I remember my plasticy IC2000 amp and IC3000 tuner, which were surprisingly good, at least once you had sorted the power supplies out with big smoothing capacitors. And does anybody remember the Rega Planar look-alike turntable with the strange three armed 'platter'. I'm sure that it probably sounded OK if you actually put a glass platter on.

I'm sure it will be AMStrad RIP in a few years.

Celebrating the iPhone's Newtonian past

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

Anybody compared Palm Treo devices?

Downloadable apps, many cheap or even free

Quad band Phone (OK, only GPRS data)

Handwriting recognition (OK again, you have to add it, but it's free)

Web browsing

External media (4GB SD cards supported)

Moble modem for your PC

SD card reader for your PC

TCPMP media player (downloadable free)

Big user base of Palm devices

Available GPS add-on

Token Camera

Available now SIM free!

If it was G3 and Wireless (there may be a wireless device that fits, but I've no experience) then it would be absolutely perfect. Of course, you could also look at the WIN-CE (sorry, mobile) versions

Chip start-up could ignite Blade PCs

Peter Gathercole Silver badge


The problem with Blade-PC's is the fact that they are a PC, with applications with huge memory footprints. When I last used X-Terminals in anger, we had a ratio of about 10 X-Terminals per (not very big) server, and because the software was not PC based, we got reasonable performance. Add to that the fact that you can beef up the performance by adding dedicated specialist servers elsewhere on your network that work just as well as the controlling server in delivering applications. Real distributed computing.

Sun once said "The network is the computer", and I believe it to be the case.

BTW. The AT&T systems mentioned by Brett were called BLITs (Bell Lab Inteligent Terminals) 5620 and 630 (and I know that there were later models) which worked over serial, proto-TP-Ethernet (called StarLan) or full blown twisted pair Ethernet (later models). They ran a proprietery OS that was probably called Layers (my memory fades), and allowed windowed dumb terminal, or locally run, downloaded applications.

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