* Posts by Phil O'Sophical

3957 posts • joined 28 Oct 2011

Are you sure your disc drive has stopped rotating, or are you just ignoring the messages?

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Re: Error messages

"The data is not monotonically increasing"

are not, shirley?

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Re: It is possible to produce an idiot proof interface.

But it does the require the extermination of every idiot.

Sadly, evolution will just produce better ones.

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Having votes is undemocratic!

Ban it, it just encourages politicians.

Lawyers' secure email network goes down, firm says it'll take 2 weeks to restore

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Egress Technologies?

One has to wonder if anyone looked up the meaning of Egress before buying this product.

PT Barnum was ahead of his time.

The Large Hadron Collider is small beer. Give us billions more for bigger kit, say boffins

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

What benefits do we actually get from projects like CERN?

We don't know, yet. That's why we do them.

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Re: The FCC, eh?

"Small beer" used to mean a weak beer. The sort of thing you'd drink all day on the fields.

Because plain water often made people sick, but they'd discovered that beer didn't. They didn't know about bacteria, and hadn't made the connection that boiled water, as used in beer, was safe (and it was an excuse to drink beer all day anyway).

If I could turn back time, I'd tell you to keep that old Radarange at home

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Re: Pesky microwaves

ISTR that back in the '60s Divis was relaying a signal from the IoM which was relaying a signal from Holme Moss.

That seems unlikely, Divis started in the mid-50s, and there was no IoM transmtter until long after that. People on the IoM west coast used to get their TV from Divis. Perhaps the microwave backhaul links to Tele House in Belfast followed that route? I have a vague memory of a mirowave relay on Snaefell.

Presumably you were in a location where you couldn't get Divis direct.

Indeed, although it was the 80s, not the 60s. There are some hills outside Newtownards that used to be mined for lead, they made a very effective RF screen if you were in their shadow, but the Cambret Hill relay on the Mull of Kintyre usually produced a watachable signal from Border TV. It was at fairly low altitude, hence the tidal fading Some relay transmitters were eventually installed around the area to fix the problem.

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Re: Military Ship Radar

Was that the training session where the instructor forgot to switch the system into "dummy" mode before getting the student to run an exercise? I remember reading about that.

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Re: Pesky microwaves

Why doesn't the high-tide dish work at all states of the tide?

You can get fading due to interference between direct and reflected (off the water) signals, so that when one path is ok the other isn't. We used to have that problem getting TV across a sea path between NI and Scotland, reception varied between great and almost unwatchable as the tide rose and fell.

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Thumb Up

Didn't they have to coat their metal bar in some strange chemical waste product first?

CES flicks the off switch on massager award… and causes a buzz

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge


Some websites can't even get ordinary data right, let alone the metadata. I recently tried to order a box for an electronics project from an electronics website. First I had the meta issue, was I looking for a case, box, instrument case, or an enclosure? Having tried to resolve that I then went looking for something that was about 20cm x 15cm, and 8-10cm high. I clicked the "width" menu., only to be offered a list of dozens of options such as 19.8cm, 19.9cm, 21.8cm and so on. Much further down in the three-digit section I then also found 210mm, 225mm, etc. Was there a simple "between x & y"? Nope.

Of course, that wouldn't have helped, since a search for a box/case/enclosure that was 20cm wide and 15cm long wouldn't have returned one that was 20cm long and 15cm wide.

I gave up and bought some sheet aluminium from a hardware store & made my own. Fortunately no nudity was required, or offered.

Just for EU, just for EU, just for EU: Forget about enforcing Right To Be Forgotten outside member states

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Re: EU being sensible again...

I can't recall the UK government ever managing to string this many words together on any mildly technical subject.

Then maybe you haven't read the past UK legislation on data protection, which is both in advance of, and more complete than, the EU minima.

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Re: Good

choose not to collect data on EU Citizens

GDPR doesn't apply only to EU citizens, it applies to natural people ("data subjects") who are present in the EU. It doesn't even explicitly say "resident". A US citizen working in the EU is included, and indeed even a US citizen on vacation in the EU is likely to be included, although I can see that having to be clarified by the courts at some point.

Steamer closets, flying cars, robot boxers, smart-mock-cock ban hypocrisy – yes, it's the worst of CES this year

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge


immoral, obscene, indecent, profane or not in keeping with CTA’s image

Profane just means not religious or respectful of religion, so while iThings are probably OK there are surely many other gadgets that should be banned under that ruling?

And to rehash a relevant old joke, there are four types of orgasm:

Postive: Oh yes, Oh Yes, Oh YES.

Negative: Oh no, Oh No, Oh NO.

Religious: Oh god, Oh God, OH GOD.

Fake: Oh john, Oh John, Oh JOHN.

Attention all British .eu owners: Buy dotcom domains and prepare to sue, says UK govt

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Re: Wow, it's almost...

Observers have been taking notes about names and hidey holes.

And you're accusing others of being fascist?!!

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Re: Wow, it's almost...

51.7% is by any sane standards, & the government & EU's guidelines for the referendums far too small a majority for a major decision that will change the political, economic & social landscape for a generation.

And yet getting 51% (on 69.7% turnout) in a referendum was perfectly OK for France to agree to create the EU in the first place.

You can't have it both ways. If 51% is enough for "in", you can't reasonably claim that 52% is insufficient for "out".

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Re: Brexit just gets better?

This is why a Deal is so important.

Of course a deal is important, to both the UK and the EU, if it's a good deal with reasonable compromise on both sides. Your discussion above is a little ingenuous, not least because tariffs on imports to the UK will of course hit companies like BMW, Audi, Mercedes, etc. through a drop in sales. It's in everyone's interests to negotiate low tariffs in both directions, and that is, after all, the main purpose of the WTO. Also note that imported components which are later re-exported in finished products will likely not be subject to tariffs, which further changes the calculations.

The chances of the EU agreeing to such a deal pre-Brexit are fairly close to zero, though, because that would mean them trying to make Brexit work in good faith, and that's politically very difficult for any EU politician. This is why we've got Theresa May's appalling sell-out deal, it's all the EU could ever offer.

After the Brexit dust settles, when all these negotiations go back to being shady negotiations between civil servants in back rooms, and not on the 6-o'clock news every night, I'm sure many workable deals will be done that will save face on both sides. That's what politicians are best at, especially when lobbied by industry.

In the absence of (an impossible) fair deal up front, it's far better to have a clean no-deal Brexit with full freedom for post-exit negotiations than to accept a bad deal for the UK which the EU will then simply refuse to change in any way.

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Re: Wow, it's almost...

A non-vote is a vote for The Establishment

A non-vote is not a vote, for either option. It's a "don't care".

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Re: Don't worry, it's only money

"It's one of the most welcoming countries in Europe". WTF, did you read that in the Daily Mail?

No, because I prefer facts to red-top bigotry.

The UK comes second (behind Germany) in the percentage of asylum requests accepted. It consistently scores well above the EU average in opinion polls asking if immigrants are welcome. In my personal experience it is far less institutionally racist than France, to take just one example.

The UK does charity quite well, but it does not do 'welcoming'.

Educate yourself.

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Re: Wow, it's almost...

If we learn one thing it should be to never do anything on such a vague nebulous concept again, where the goalposts can be moved and mean something different for every single voter.

But what would you replace General Elections with?

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Re: Wow, it's almost...

If that happens, oh fuck, we're going to see the case of UKIP trying to put forward MEPs, aren't we?)

Where have you been the last few years? UKIP came top in the last UK european elections, 27% of the vote and a plurality (24) of the 73 seats.

I think the non-UK vote will be much more interesting, my money is on the populist parties cleaning up. That should give the EU elite something other than Brexit to worry about.

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Re: Wow, it's almost...

However if in an unbiased referendum without interference & criminality leave won a supermajority of at least 60% of the vote, I would accept it.

If only we'd had one of those in 1991 when John Major signed us up to Maastricht to create the EU. But he didn't, because he knew he'd lose. Even the French, great Europhiles, only accepted that by 51%. If we'd had an EEC-wide referendum, with a supermajority required, to create the EU it would never have happened, and we wouldn't be in this mess.

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Re: Don't worry, it's only money

Yes, which is why I suggest one of the ways to 'fix' EU is more powers to parliament rather than commission.

You have more faith in that toothless parliament than I do. The monthly Strasbourg-Brussels charade shows how powerless it is to take any difficult decisions. By all means take the powers from the commision, but don't give them to EU politicians, give them back to national parliaments who have a direct stake in the outcome.

The major strength of the EU is in simplifying day-to-day living and business (ie economic rather than political integration). The grand plans to make a Europe-wide superstate are as stupid now as they were in the time of Napoleon.

True, but try convincing Macron etc. of that.

Unfortunately not too much that the EU as a whole or any European country can do about that one. A lot of African / middle eastern countries are in a mess

Also true, but a mess of Europe's making, thanks to the likes of Tony Bliar. Governments are happy enough to charge in and remove unwanted dictators, if they applied the same level of money & committment to deal with the gangs of people smugglers they could make good inroads into the migrant problem at source. Unfortunately a war is always more appealing to politicians than police action, it tends to be over before the next election.

So in any case there will be a flow of refugees, and the EU needs to be able to welcome them humanely and integrate them as productive and contributive elements of society.

Absolutely, but there's a need to differentiate between genuine refugees, and those economic migrants who have an unrealistic idea of a "promised land" where they can make more money that they can at home. Some of them may be welcome, if they can genuinely be productive in their new society, but in most cases it would be better for both countries if they stayed at home and worked to improve their home countries, instead of chasing some imaginary El Dorado where the reality is that they'll end up in shanty towns, no better off than before.

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Re: How long until the new referendum will be called?

You just argued there were multiple leave options and not everyone who voted leave wanted the same thing. In fact, I doubt many had even considered the consequences; it was a non-binding vote and many took it as a general protest vote

I honestly doubt that, given the celebrations after it and the immediate collapse of UKIP which was then seen as "job done, now irrelevant". Those who voted leave did so because they wanted to leave, and I suspect most expected that leave to be basically "no deal" with some minor clarifications, followed after departure with new trade negotiations. The suggestion of a pre-leave divorce bill etc. certainly didn't go down well.

the one negotiated with the EU by such Leave politicians who were prepared to take on the job, let's note

Well, no. The Leave politicians weren't allowed to negotiate anything, they were overruled by remainers like May who forced them to either resign or negotiate an agreement that is essentially worse than either "remain" or "no deal".

"Given that there are really only a couple of leave options available to vote for then a second preference vote works fairly well."

True, that could be an option.

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Re: How long until the new referendum will be called?

I think the sensible people asking for another referendum are asking for one that really seeks to establish what people wan

But realistically you can't do that, because there would only be one possible "remain" option, the one decided by the EU which controls the terms of membership, yet multiple ways to leave. Give people a choice between, say, three types of "leave" and one of "remain" then obviously the "remain" option would get the highest number of votes, even if the total for the leave options still exceeded it. For many people I suspect that "kill off the EU, go back to the EEC" would be a preferred option, but clearly that isn't a choice that can be realistically offered by one country alone.

The black and white stay/go option was the only viable one.

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Re: Don't worry, it's only money

Have you given any thought on how much cost your ridiculous queen and her family?

Absolutely nothing. The Crown Estate provides ~ £330m income to the treasury each year, of which only £82m is paid to back the Royal household as a grant. We actually make a substantial profit from them, even before you consider intangibles like tourist income.

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Re: Don't worry, it's only money

I think one of the problems with the EU is that it's very real benefits founded on lasting peace

The peace was the result of the post-war economic stabilty of the common market, allowing neighbours to trade together while building trust. Ever since it was converted into the EU there has been a steady rise in nationalism and populism, to the point where the EU is becoming a leading cause of conflict (cf the Brexit arguments) within European countries. Free trade brings peace, empire-building politicians do not.

Immigration needs to be better managed but is not going to be stopped, short of surrounding Europe with barbed wire and machine guns

Very true, which is why immigration itself is not relevant to the debate.

What is relevant is the control of it, and controlling it on an EU-wide basis clearly isn't working. The Dublin agreement is largely ignored, the weaker countries can't police their own borders. The centralized solution is to attempt to manage the uncontrolled flow it by issuing quotas by diktat, which simply adds to the internal conflicts. Migration needs to be tackled at source, before people leave their homes, not after arrival in Europe when it's too late.

The UK is, and always has been, largely welcoming to true immigrants and asylum seekers. It's one of the most welcoming countries in Europe, and should continue to be so post-Brexit, but that has to be on its own terms.

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Re: Does anybody actually use a .eu ?

You only need to change the address given in the registry to one in the EU.

So pick one in Belfast. It's (officially) in the UK, but Ireland considers it to be in Ireland. People born there can claim both UK and Irish nationality. Let's see the EU unpick that one.

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Re: Brexit just gets better?

This is a chocolate orange in Dublin.

They grow cocoa in Ireland?

Look at the whole picture, what taxes were paid to import that chocolate to Dublin from outside the EU? Where was the metal for the foil mined, and where was the cardboard made? Then recalculate the whole thing on a non-EU basis, without any double-dutch-irish-sandwich tax trickery. It's far from your simplistic "EU good, non-EU bad" theory.

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

The EU no longer works for you, it looks after its members self interest,

No, it looks after the EU's self-interest, as decided by its politicians. That is not at all the same thing as looking after its members' interests.

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Re: industry practice?

of or business directed to that country

And yet that is precisely what the EU is now attempting to block, non-EU countries directing their business to the EU. People accuse Trump of being protectionist, but he can't hold a candle to Brussels.

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

How many people with .eu domains actually have them because they want them, and not just to prevent cybersquatters grabbing them?

In short, it's a bad deal for everyone, everyone knows it, there are other better options, yet for some reason politicians and bureaucrats are insisting on continuing to rush headlong off a cliff.

The reason is obvious, Brexit must be made to fail. It will be embarassing for the EU if it actually works, since more people might begin to question the value of the EU.

Google Play Store spews malware onto 9 million 'Droids

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Re: Right. Sure. Whatever.

I make $1500 a week from my home using Google

but who for...?

Drone goal! Quadcopter menace alert freezes flights from London Heathrow Airport

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Re: pictures?


You were told to clean up our systems, not delete 8,000 crucial files

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Re: Nuked Network Drive

We had a similar problem. Sysadmin came in one morning to some complaints of missing files. They continued over the course of the morning, and it was only when he noticed that the complainants were arriving in roughly alphabetical order of username that he twigged what had happened. QA test system was doing "rm -rf ${TESTROOT}/" with TESTROOT unset, but with the NFS automounter configured. Not running as root, so the damage only really started when it got to /home and found all the files with "group" delete permissions...

Many people were very relieved that we had nightly offline backups.

Found yet another plastic nostalgia knock-off under the tree? You, sir, need an emulator

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Re: And Dizzy.

Amiga Lemmings was particularly impressive because you could plug two mice in, and play against someone else. Trying to build your own ramps while blowing up your opponent's and blocking their attempts to do the same to you added a whole new level of fun.

EU politely asks if China could stop snaffling IP as precondition for doing business

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

if someone can make something better then so be it!

But that's the whole idea of patents. Without them people would have to keep their ideas secret, so that no-one can steal them. With a patent they have to be published (so others can see how to improve them), and in return the original inventor gets a short period of "exclusivity" to benefit from their idea.

50 years ago: NASA blasts off the first humans to experience a lunar close encounter

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Re: Remeber those heady days of the Apollo missions well

Me too. Sad that in less than 60 years the US has gone gone from

"We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win"


"I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will have Mexico pay for that wall."

Ho ho ho! Washington DC sends Zuckerberg a sueball-shaped present

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Re: There is morality and there are laws

If somebody installs facebook on their phone, switches "location services" off, it just means "switch off location tracking using GPS signal".

Why would you think that? If I switch off "location services" I would expect it to switch off all services which determine location. If I just wanted to switch off GPS I would just disable the GPS service.

Serverless is awesome (if you overlook inflated costs, dislike distributed computing, love vendor lock-in), say boffins

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Re: Measurements?

How is 'innovation' quantified?

Perhaps the unit should be the "Sinclair" ? Possibly on a log scale, though. The bigger the project, the less the innovation ?

Microsoft: Come and play in our Windows SandBox

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Excellent news

I'm sure this will keep our PCs 100% safe, because we all know how well Microsoft tests the security of its products before release.

Microsoft flings untested Windows 10 updates to users! (Oh no it doesn't!)

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Re: Firefox

Mozilla has something in common with Hard Brexiteers, they are determined to self-destruct what was once a great achievement.

No, that's more like the folks who are determined to turn a working common market into a centrally-controlled union that staggers from one crisis to the next. Brexiteers are more like the people suggesting that you fix the problem by reformatting the hard disk and installing Linux...

Oh Deer! Poacher sentenced to 12 months of regular Bambi screenings in the cooler

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Re: Well there is always...

saw the VT100 ASCII animation way back

Ah, I'd forgotten about that, thanks for the reminder.

For those interested, try here, but on a virtual terminal the action is over too quickly to 'enjoy'.

Forget your deepest, darkest secrets, smart speakers will soon listen for sniffles and farts too

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Re: I gotta hand it to them

I imagine that there will be some "counter-AI" decoy apps that you leave playing next to the smart speaker to mess with their models or waste processing time.

"Alexa, play the fart playlist"

Ofcom asks networks, ISPs: Hey, wouldn't it be nice if you let customers know the best deal once their contract's up?

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Re: Contracts

How did we ever get to this stage where mobiles and broadband are on (usually 1 or 2 year) contracts?

Because it avoids the big upfront payment that would otherwise be required. If one supplier is saying "£350 for the phone, and £20/month, no contract" and the other says "Only £30/month, with a free phone, and a free upgrade every two years (2 year contract)" the second one looks better for people who can't find £350 in one go, and hey it's only two years. The phone companies rely on enough people not changing their phone immediately the two years are up to cover the extra costs of the cheaper monthly payments.

A Christmas classic: Cloudera founder asks staff to stay another day

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Re: take the job

We hired you because we need you – the work you do matters to Cloudera today.

But not tomorrow.

Small American town rejects Comcast – while ISP reps take issue with your El Reg vultures

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Re: Good for Charlemont!

Sometimes, 'social' taxes and subsidy is the only fair way. Do you, for example, resent your taxes being given to schools and colleges, to educate children who couldn't afford to pay for their own education?

Or perhaps more difficult, is it right that the council pays for my children to get to school by bus, when if we lived a bit closer they could walk?

I'm not convinced that "fairness" is the right criterion here. Properly educating the next generation is probably the best investment any country can make in its future, so using taxes to pay for schools is to a large degree a "free market" approach, an investment with expected good future returns. It's why I'm completely opposed to the idea of tuition fees, or forcing 50% of people to go to university. Far better for taxes to fund appropriate training, be it academic or vocational.

The bus question, though, is simpler. If you've chosen to live beyond walking distance of a school, why should the other ratepayers have to pay to get your kids there? You take them, or pay for the bus (or buy them a bike, which is how I got to school). Obviously there are corner cases, such as when a school closes, but those are not common.

living in areas devastated by the Tories' policies towards the coal, steel, shipbuilding and other heavy industries by telling them to do as his father had done and 'get on [your] bike'

As noted by a previous comment, that was Tebbit, not Heseltine, I can't see Heseltine being so blunt, but even so it isn't unreasonable advice. Those industries couldn't continue as they were in the light of worldwide changes, the tories simply brought down the axe early rather than let them crash & have to pick up the pieces. Times change, and people have to be prepared to adapt, they cannot simply wait for "someone else" to hand out a solution. Take today's IT industry, where the move to cloud is killing traditional on-premises companies. I know plenty of people who had to get on that bike & look for a job elsewhere, or in a different industry. The days when people expected to farm the same field all their life are long gone.

In terms of living "off grid", I think it's also important to make a distinction between "essential" internet and "nice to have" internet. Just as we don't all live beside a motorway, we don't all need GBit/s fibre. For those parts of daily life where the internet is becoming indispensable even 1Mbit/s is adequate. I get 3Mbit/s at home, I can't stream HD video or do intensive gaming, but I can easily do my tax return & check my bank statement.

I don't expect my local village to build an opera house, or a shopping mall, just to get nice-to-have "mod cons", if I wanted those it would be up to me to move to a city. I do expect at least electricity and clean water, and pay (probably more than in nearby cities) to have both. It's my choice to live where I do, and I've chosen the trade-offs that work for me.

Tesla autopilot saves driver after he fell asleep at wheel on the freeway

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Re: Arrested for being drunk

Almost all UK speed restrictions apply to mechanically propelled vehicles only

I think the equivalent offence for a cyclist is "cycling furiously", i.e. too fast to be safe. They are prosecuted for being a danger, not for exceeding a prescribed limit.

Space policy boffin: Blighty can't just ctrl-C, ctrl-V plans for Galileo into its Brexit satellite

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Re: Strangely in the last week or so....

My hope is that in the next 20-30 years, the EU will hold a constitutional convention and amend the basis for the EU ... look back in history - that's what happened in the US.

ROTFL. There's fat chance of the arrogant, paternalist Eurocrat elite ever doing that, it would mean admitting that they might be wrong. Rather than using the US for your future example I suggest you look at what happened to the Soviet Union, that's closer to the way the EU is headed.

No, you haven't gone deaf – the Large Hadron Collider has been wound down for more upgrades

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Re: mmmm

CERN has a special status, they can receive goods both from Switzerland and from the EU without border checks.

So let's build one under South Armagh, that should solve the Brexit hard border issue.

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