* Posts by Stuart Castle

778 posts • joined 19 Jun 2007

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Now that's old-school cool: Microsoft techies slap Azure Sphere IoT chip in an Altair 8800

Stuart Castle

This is novel, but it just goes to show a potential downside of cloud computing...

Previously, to run Microsoft Basic on an Altair 8800 (and never having done this, I could be wrong), you needed an Altair 8800 with the relevant hardware (ram, disk drive, drive controller etc), monitor, electricity.

With this system. they needed an Altair with their board in, a monitor, network hardware, an internet connection, miles of cable, all the various hardware/software used by the telco, and also a handy data centre that just happens to host Azure. In short, there is a lot more that can go wrong.

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And THIS is how you do it, Apple: Huawei shames Cupertino with under-glass sensor

Stuart Castle

Re: @AC

Android is open source, and, by default, doesn't actually use Google services much (if at all). I have a Kindle at home. It runs Android but is an Amazon device, so while it is heavily tied in to Amazon's ecosystem, it does not require Google access.

The requirement for Google access come when you want to add things like the Google play store, which most phone manufacturers do. Amazon chose to use their own app store.

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Three-hour outage renders Nest-equipped smart homes very dumb

Stuart Castle

Re: Unnecessary points of failure

Full disclosure before I start. I have a Nest thermostat, and two Nest protects. Why? I like the fact that they work together, doing things like disabling my gas-fired boiler if there is a carbon monoxide leak, and using the motion sensors in the Nest Protects to determine if I am in the house, to reduce the temperatures if the house is unoccupied. It is also nice to be able to control it from my phone.

That said, beyond possibly a few light switches or LED builbs, I am going to go no further than that down the connected devices route.

Why? Most of it is useless. I've even hung back on buying the switches/bulbs because while they would be nice, I have no real need for them (I did need a new Thermostat and smoke detectors at the time I bought them).

Also, I don't understand the point of Internet connected door locks. It's relatively easy to carry a key (or key ring), and just as easy to get a key out of your pocket as it is your phone (unless you permanently hold your phone), and introducing a phone, internet connection, cloud and all the hardware/software all three of those use is a little too much of a security risk, and multiple points of failure. All so I can unlock my door without moving. I'd rather go to the door and open it manually. That idea Amazon had about their couriers being able to unlock their locks and drop off your parcel(s) inside your house is just asking for theft.

I feel the same about interrnet connected doorbells. I follow a tech channel on youtube. He raised an interesting point that while you can be anywhere when you "answer" the door, any caller is soon going to work out you aren't in when there are no signs of movement several minutes after they call. If you aren't in, why answer the door?

As for internet operated kitchen appliances (i've seen internet connected cookers, fridges, washing machines and coffee makers), I don't see the point. Most of those devices require that you are present to load/unload them. The cooker and fridge don't, but the cooker (for safety) shouldn't be switched on without a person in the house. The fridge is the one device that could potentially have a use for and Internet connection as it can order stuff you run out of automatically, but even that's limited. It's not going to know you have run out of anything you wouldn't normally keep in the fridge. You wouldn't keep (for instance) cleaning stuff or tinned food in the fridge, so you'd still need to order that manually..

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*Thunk* No worries, the UPS should spin up. Oh cool, it's in bypass mode

Stuart Castle

Potentially good for cooling..

"I left a few years later but the last I heard the company had spent several million pounds on a new site built directly on a flood plain with the IT hardware in the basement."

I work for a company that (before I worked for them) spent a lot of money building a server room in the leaky basement of a mid 60s office building on the banks of the Thames. Apparently the basement flooded regularly. Thankfully they'd had the sense to move the main server room to a ground floor office in another building. The company's various buidings were already networked, so this wasn't as much of a hassle as it could have been.

On the plus side, given adequate waterproofing, a flooding server room would be good from a cooling point of view.. :D

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My PC is on fire! Can you back it up really, really fast?

Stuart Castle

Re: I recall even my mum (a bit like Dilmom) telling me a fire story

We had the IDE zip drives available on nearly every PC for students. Over 200. After a couple of years, we were starting to get reliability issues with a few of them. That, combined with earlier experiences of the click of death (although I don't believe this actually happened to the IDE zip drives, merely the externals), and the fact that our sales of the disks had really tailed of (we had actually sold less than 5 in previous year, down from about 10 a month) persuaded me to ask the Lab manager if maybe we should just remove all the drives, and keep a couple of externals just in case students needed them.

He, unfortunately for me, loved the idea. Why unfortunately for me? I was one of his staff and so got given the task of removing and disposing of 60 of the bloody things. I came with the idea, but hadn't thought the practicalities through..

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Windows 10 April 2018 Update lands today... ish

Stuart Castle

Maybe history does go in cycles.. First, we had big mainframes, which were also so expensive that very few companies could afford one, so bought time on someone else's, without being aware of what else was running on it. Then, we had PCs, which meant people could run their own software on their own machine. Then the PCs were networked, and eventually those networks started growing, requiring server rooms full of PCs. Then someone came up with the bright idea of selling off all their server PCs, and hiring time on someone's else's PCs, where we have little idea of what is running apart from our own systems, and they called it Cloud Computing.

When PCs first run DOS, it could run one application, then someone discovered that making a small utility a Terminate and Stay Resident program could enable one to switch into it even while running another application, which is a very limited form of multi tasking. Then, we got Windows (and OS/2), which ultimately allowed full multitasking, and allowed the user to run multiple programs at a time, all on one screen. Now, we get "Focus Assist", a system that reduces the output from background applications, and allows us to go back to running one application, that takes the whole screen.

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Stuart Castle

"The idea behind Delivery Optimization is to let you download updates to one PC, once only, then have other PCs on your network grab those updates over your LAN. Microsoft claims “This significantly reduces bandwidth (by as much as 90 percent) and that results in a much better experience for everyone on the network.”

I thought latter versions of Windows Update were supposed to do this anyway? With the increasing size of updates, I can see how this will help though.

Regarding Focus Assist, I suspect that they've *ahem* borrowed that from macOS. macOS has, for a while, offered an optional "Full Screen" mode to application developers, who are free to offer it to the users. The app window is displayed, full screen (logically enough). The dock is removed. The menu bar can be removed, and if it is, leaving the mouse pointer near the top of the screen brings it back, temporarily.

The reason I said Microsoft borrowed this function is they introduced support for it in Mac Office 2016 recently, and they called it, guess what? "Focus Assist"..

Still, while it is handy, it sounds a little like we are going backwards... One of the selling points of Windows over Dos is that you were able to run multiple applications at once, and give them each a window.

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Full shift to electric vans would melt Royal Mail's London hub, MPs told

Stuart Castle

Re: Hmmm

Re: "I wonder, given Must has cracked solar roof tiles, if some variant of them would not be strong enough to sustain some light vans parked upon it, allowing the car park to become a large solar panel. Also, do the vehicles have to be charged where they operate? RM is not short of land, so could disperse some of the vehicles for charging in other nearby locations."

This is, theoretically a good idea. However, I felt the same about Solar Roadways until I actually tried to research them

There are a couple of problems.

First, they need a substantial amount of clear weather. Solar panels don't need the weather to be hot, but they do need sunny days, and work better the more sunlight they are exposed to. This is why standard panels in solar farms can move. I know that standard domestic solar panels are fixed, but the average house doesn't, relatively speaking, need a lot of electricity. It sounds like the Post Office need as much power as possible, so ideally the panels would need to move.

Second is maintenance. The cells in the panels need to be relatively clean. Easy to achieve if the panel is stuck on a roof, but a lot more difficult on a surface cars drive on, and people walk on, which is likely to end up scuffed and covered in mud, skid marks and all sorts.

Third is the cars. The idea of a car park requires it is going to have cars parked on it. If they are parked on it in daylight hours (as is likely with the post office, who tend to do most of their inter area deliveries overnight) , they are going to be blocking the light from the panels..

I know you came up with the idea of using unused car parks for these panels, but, tbh, I doubt the post office has many unused car parks in the London area, and even if they do, they are probably looking at selling the land for development, or using it to expand their offices.

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Even Microsoft's lost interest in Windows Phone: Skype and Yammer apps killed

Stuart Castle

I played with Windows Phone 7 and 8 (not tried 10). They seemed (from a user point of view) to be better designed that most Android variants I've tried, and although I am a long term iPhone user, I like Android as well.

They also had Nokia, a company with excellent brand recognition that goes all the way back to the start of Mobile phones, and while it had lost it's way toward the end, it did build some excellent phones. They married that up with Windows Phone. I believe that had they marketed both Windows Phone and their own handsets effectively, they would have had the number one mobile OS. iOS or Android would have been relegated to 3rd place., If Microsoft had got Samsung fully on their side, it's likely that Android would be in 3rd place, and possibly even killed off.

Hell, when Blackberry died out, the corporates were crying out for a replacement that integrated with their existing infrastructure (which is likely to be Windows based) as well as BES. Microsoft had a ready made target audience.

Instead, they launched a half arsed attempt to market both phones and OS, and failed.

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Stuart Castle

Re: win10

AMBxx, you forgot the Streetview Wifi slurp, where Google's Street View cars accidentally copied data sent over any open Wifi networks in their vicinity.. https://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/05/14/google_street_view_cars_were_collecting_payload_data_from_wifi_networks/ .

OK, you could argue that people shouldn't be using open Wifi (and you'd be right), but Google should not have recorded it.

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Apple's magical quality engineering strikes again: You may want to hold off that macOS High Sierra update...

Stuart Castle

Re: No issues here

I don't think things have slowed down. I think there are two reasons here..

1) The improvements don't seem as massive. I think this is more that in the 90s, we were going up from 100MHz to 200. 200 to 400. 400 to 700. There are all doubling the speed, or nearly doubling it. Nowadays, speeds are in GHz, and are going from (say) 2Ghz to 2.5Ghz, or 2.5 Ghz to 3, 3 to 4 and so on. We aren't generally doubling the speeds or tripling the speeds.

2) We don't need that much processing power. With the exception of Games and certain specialist software (3d Modelling, hacking, Digital audio and video editing for instance), most software comes nowhere near using the full power of even a low end CPU. This wasn't the case in the 90s, where even simple word processing could bring the CPU to a halt.

Note: I'm not talking about server applications, or databases, as these can frequently use a ton of CPU time, but your average computer is now way more powerful than your average punter needs.

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Amazon, LG Electronics turned my vape into an exploding bomb, says burned bloke in lawsuit

Stuart Castle

I wonder if we should bring back the old (and often terrifying) public information films. With an already high (and increasing) number of devices using rechargable batteries, I wonder if we should be teaching people that these things can be dangerous if handled incorrectly. At least something reminding people to be careful when handling and charging batteries.

It's not the same thing, but a friend of mine bought an Apple branded usb to lightning adapter. He complained to me it had caught fire, which it did. As we had been having an argument over whether unbranded cables are better than branded (a little bit of a one sided argument really, as while I tend to recommend branded cables, I don't actually care what other people use, as long as it's safe), he tried to use it as evidence that Apple branded cables and adapters are less safe than unbranded ones.

I found out later that while it was an Apple branded adaptor, he sleeps with his phone on the bed next to him. At some point during the night, he'd moved and pushed the phone under his pillow. This is likely why the adaptor caught fire.

It's also worth remembering that buying cheap batteries and chargers can increase the danger. To lower the price and still make profits, the manufacturer is likely to have cut something. What if that something is safety circuitry, or manufacturing standards?

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LESTER gets ready to trundle: The Register's beer-bot has a name

Stuart Castle

I didn't. While I do appreciate a nice looking barmaid as much as the next man, and the pub I used to drink in had some very nice looking barmaids, I went in there because it had (and still has) a decent selection of beers, ales and lagers.

Regarding the beer deliver system, I feel it is a fitting tribute to Lester Haines.

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Data exfiltrators send info over PCs' power supply cables

Stuart Castle

Getting a little James bond here, but could you not design the reader so it fits in a band clamped around the power cable? Most users, even assuming they noticed it, would probably assume that it's the same sort of thing as the ferrite core on display cables. In my experience, most people seem to assume that is some sort of handle to pull out the cable. Even assuming they notice it, they will probably think it needs to be there.

These clamps could be fitted by (say) the cleaner in the morning, and taken away by the same cleaner a few days later. Design it right, and the device could be installed or removed in a few seconds, and a doubt anyone would question a cleaner hanging round a computer for a few seconds.

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Snubbed R Us: Microsoft eschews Vulture Consultants in Playmobil tech research

Stuart Castle

Good to see Lester mentioned again. Since he went, LOHAN and his various other ventures appear to have fallen by the wayside.

Regarding the article, it's nice to see Microsoft have found a use for some of the concepts behind the original surface (the one before Microsoft realised people weren't willing to pay $5,000 for a touch sensitive display built into a table).

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Sysadmin shut down the wrong server, and with it all European operations

Stuart Castle

"I once told a soldier the portable version of a server was ready to be shut-down and packed up for deployment, he dutifully walked into the server room up to a (very) non-portable 42u rack and shutdown the servers in that"

In fairness to him, Soldiers tend to get used to carrying 30kg packs. He might have a different idea of portable to you and I.

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Terix boss thrown in the cooler for TWO years for peddling pirated Oracle firmware, code patches

Stuart Castle

Oracle is a pain to deal with. As were Sun, even before they were owned by Oracle.

When I first started, we made fairly extensive use of Sparcstations for various functions. One had a CD drive fail. On first inspection, it appeared to be a standard SCSI 2 speed CDRom.

Nope.. The hardware was a standard SCSI CD Rom, which should have cost about 100 pounds (being generous). The firmware was custom written, and Sun want around 600 pounds to replace the drive.

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Brit retailer Currys PC World says sorry for Know How scam

Stuart Castle

I normally support retailers if I can, but when they pull shit like this, it is difficult.

I remember a few years ago, my local curry’s was selling Monster cables (which are snake oil). They had a flash looking stand with two identical Blu Ray players playing the same film on two identical TVs. The picture on the tv with the monster cable sticker on was noticeably better, and I was impressed. Until I had a look at the back of the TVs. The one with the monster sticker on it was hooked up to the blu Ray with an unbranded HDMI cable. The other tv was hooked up to the blu Ray with an unbranded composite cable.

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Birmingham UK to Uber: Want a new licence? Tell us about your operating model

Stuart Castle

Re: Business Model:

"Didn't work so well in the Worboys case, did they? So TfL getting on their high horse about standards seems rather hypocritical. Likewise those Brummie examples."

So, what are you saying? The checks don't work, so they shouldn't do them? In which case, I would ask do you lock your front door? I ask because people who lock their doors are still burgled from time to time, so surely locks don't work.

Clearly, of course you should lock your door. Door locks do stop a lot of burglaries, and I wager that checks do stop a lot of potential attacks.

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Air gapping PCs won't stop data sharing thanks to sneaky speakers

Stuart Castle

"How do you get the malware on the air gapped pc in the first place? The point of air gapping a pc is that it never touches the internet, ever"

The problem with that is it only takes one person to make a mistake, and the Malware is in the system. Stuxnet got into a secure Nuclear facility. From what I understand, all it took was for a Siemens engineer to open an infected document on his laptop at home, then plug the laptop into the secure network. Even just plugging a USB into an infected computer, then into an airgapped computer is entirely possible.

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London Mayor calls for social networks and sharing economy to stop harming society

Stuart Castle

Re: "our contribution to the overall health of the public conversation".

"The notion that you can 'debate' with white supremacists, holocaust deniers, et al., and that they will become 'better' people, is risible."

They aren't the people you need to persuade though. In a lot of cases, they are extremists, and the only thing that will persuade them is years of counseling (if anything). You need to persuade the moderate people that social media gives them access to.

This is how the right wing has turned, in the last few years, from a few bunches of thugs that were, TBH, a bit of a joke into a serious political threat. They have spent the last few years building up their social media presence, and setting up other media outlets so they can push their message across. They have also, in a lot of cases, refined that message so it's less offensive and therefore harder to dismiss. The messages they use are often along the lines of "Things are broken, we will fix them". This is the basic message Trump used, and also the basic message that the Brexit campaigners used. They also provided a nice big bogeyman (immigration) for people to blame. The remain campaign and Hillary Clinton both pretty much said "Things are generally OK, but some things could improve". This is, I believe, what persuaded many people to vote Trump and to vote Leave. They saw something wrong in their lives. The right wing blamed immigration and said we are going to fix things. The left said "Your life is OK, but could be better". People went for the politicians that said they would do something.

The left wing, on social media at least is doing the total opposite. They have turned their message from being requests for us to take reasonable actions to get along into cries that people are being prejudiced because they don't believe (to use an example I have actually seen) that it's offensive that there is one white guy who is a hero in Black Panther.

Why is this a problem? Because there are those in the left wing who are doing good work, and do want people to work together, but their voices are being drowned out by the right wing, and those left wingers who cry out prejudice at the most inane and stupid things. It also means that moderate people are dismissing legitimate statements from the left as politically correct nonsense because they lump them in with all these pointless complaints. It's also pushing moderate voters to the right.

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A computer file system shouldn't lose data, right? Tell that to Apple

Stuart Castle

Re: Error handling is hard - let's not do it!

Re: It was heads and shoulders above the previous consumer-oriented OSes available at the time.

It was. But that doesn't mean it wasn't dangerous. XP was marketed as being based on the secure NT platform, when, although we didn't know it at the time, the NT security was half hearted at best. I would argue that this made it more dangerous, because people thought it was secure (even Microsoft didn't pretend the consumer editions of Windows were secure), so were less likely to take care when using the machine.

XP was relatively secure at the end, because Microsoft changed their whole approach to security before they release SP2.

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Stuart Castle

Re: Rotten apple

While I can understand NFC is a conveniant way to set up WiFi and MFDs (I assume you mean MFDs), I've never understood why people even bother with it on headsets or headphones. How many times do you have to repair your devices? I use various bluetooth devices (watches, headphones, tiles). I've needed to pair them *once*. I would argue the time saved isn't even worth the cost of installing the circuitry.

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Apple to devs: Code for the iPhone X or nothing from April onwards

Stuart Castle

Re: Have Apple learnt nothing from the Microsoft's Metro/Tile Interface forced rollout?

While I hate to be in the position, but..

While I agree with your comments about the Metro interface, Microsoft did improve it a lot by crossing it with Window 7's start menu. Not perfect, but a good improvement.

However, the Windows 10 Enterprise edition does not enforce the update requirement, and apparently does not send telemetry. Microsoft do release the major updates for the Enterprise edition, but if you wish to deploy these, you have to use any existing deployment system you have. The Enterprise editions of Windows are also barred from joining the Insider Preview program, at least the publicly accessible rings.

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Vodafone boasts 200Mbps with 4G mini mast in Cornish trial

Stuart Castle

Re: Planning Consent

I am no expert in planning permission, but surely it helps that that mast is considerably less invasive than existing masts, which, even assuming you don't need to build a tower to support them, still need a couple of cabinets worth of hardware nearby to contain the electronics?

After all, they do allow for building street lighting and traffic lights in conservation areas. Yes, you can argue that these are both required to ensure safety of the local population, but this arguement can also be made for providing mobile phone masts. After all, given a good mobile signal, even passersby can call 999.

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Ghost in the DCL shell: OpenVMS, touted as ultra reliable, had a local root hole for 30 years

Stuart Castle

How many other old Oses run the central computing systems of major banks?

Not that I'm pushing the panic button or anything, nor do I think this will be a massive problem, but there is a reason this researcher went for VMS (open or not) rather than the myriad of old oses he could have. That reason is likely to be that it is still used.

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UK PM Theresa May orders review of online abuse laws in suffrage centenary speech

Stuart Castle

Not sure I agree with most of the comments here.

While I would be the first to say that Theresa May is wrong for the job, and would also be the first to argue that she only got the job because she was the last man standing when DC left, She is totally inept at her job, at a time when I would argue we need a good, strong leader. She only "won" the election because the papers did such a good job of destroying Corbyn (he is far from perfect, but at least he doesn't seem ready to fling his beliefs out of the window for his career).

But, she is right about the abuse. Disagree with the government, fine. Express it rudely, fine. Disagreeing with the government is a fundamental part of our democracy. Even doing it rudely isn't always abuse.

That's not what Theresa May is seeking to control though. We've had women threatened with rape online because they expressed the opinion that they'd like to be treated equally. We've also had Gamergate, where several journalists and developers got abuse because they dared suggest that woman could create games, and that there should be more female lead characters. I've also read instances of teenagers being driven to suicide because of what they read online. There are also millions of other examples of abuse, and I am talking about abuse that is a lot more serious than merely calling someone a name.

However, she has already failed in one way. The newspapers have given anyone who dares suggest that Brexit might not be the best thing that ever happened to the UK a *lot* of abuse. Abuse that I would argue is actionable, yet Theresa May has failed to do a single thing about it.

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Here's why online social networks are bad for humanity, the nerds who helped build them tut-tut

Stuart Castle

I think the problem with kids is not so much social media, gaming or anything technology offers. It's parenting.

It seems to me that a lot of parents just dump their kids in front of the tablet/TV/console and do their own thing, with limited interaction with the kid. Rather than just label me as some liberal fool who believes games encourage violence, please bear in mind I don't actually believe that. I believe that games can cause violence *if* the perpetrator has not been adequately taught by their parents not to use violence. In short, I believe that if your parents just dump you in front of (say) the latest Call of Duty or GTA game rather than actually teach you stuff, you are more likely to turn to violence.

Similarly, if kids are allowed unrestricted access to any social network, they are likely to learn their behavior from that network. All well and good if their social media friends are good and decent people, but if they are not. I think at the very least, a good parent should be teaching their kids to be careful what they type, and reveal, especially when communicating with people they don't know in real life, and be aware that what they post may be accessible to a lot more people than they intend it to.

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‘I crashed a rack full of servers with my butt’

Stuart Castle

A couple from me. One was my mistake, the others I just witnessed..

The one that was my mistake.

It was my first job after getting my degree. We had what we called a "server room" that was actually a bench occupying half my then office. It had a few assorted servers, including the company webserver and our NT domain PDC and BDCs.. All protected by a UPS (or so I was told).

One day, the boss was off. I had a CD walkman I bought in every day, I was doing work on one of the servers,so I plugged my CD walkman in to listen to it. Bang. The circuit breaker tripped, and the UPS lasted just long enough to shut everything down safely. When I queried it with our FM department, they said that the electrical circuit in question was up to it's limit, and my boss had been told there was too much equipment plugged in to it.

The second one was a company I worked at had a relatively new building, with a nice, riverside location (as nice as one can get in Woolwich, anyway). They spent a fortune cabling up the building for a new network and built a state of the art server room in the basement. The problem is, being on the bank of the Thames, the basement of the building was prone to flooding. They moved the server room a couple of years later.

The final one was when I left school. I worked for Network Southeast, in a local office, just doing general admin work. I heard a loud bang come from the lift next door. Had a look, and there was a rather large computer at an odd angle on the floor. I knew they were moving some offices around, and I figured it was just a delivery man dropping a PC. It wasn't. I heard several more bangs throughout the day, I queried it with my boss, he reported it. Apparently, he reported it, and found out that it was actually a removals company who'd been hired to move the servers in one room to another room.

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What a Hancock-up: MP's social network app is a privacy disaster

Stuart Castle

Even if this app is entirely above board (and the apparent lack of a data protection registration makes me wonder if it is), then what is the point?

Yes, in theory, it enables us to approach the MPs more easily, but what about in practice? In practice, it'll probably go the same way as other dedicated social networks (such as Microsoft's Yammer), in that it'll become a place where we can get a little valuable information and a lot of noise. It is likely to ultimately become just one thing on a long list of things we need to check for messages, and another app we can leak data to.

At the very least, if the MPs aren't responding to existing methods of communication (email, fax, phone, snail mail, twitter and facebook), then adding one more to the list isn't going to make them more likely to respond.

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Thar she blows: Strava heat map shows folk on shipwreck packed with 1,500 tonnes of bombs

Stuart Castle

I suspect it's not so much "Out of sight, out of mind", more that it's 1,500 tonnes of potentially unstable explosive that is sited near one of the most densely populated parts of the UK. There is also fact it it sitting on some of the busiest shipping lanes in the world, and that if it should detonate, it's likely to restrict access to Tilbury Docks (one of the 3 main container ports for the UK).

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User stepped on mouse, complained pedal wasn’t making PC go faster

Stuart Castle

Around the beginning of 2000, we moved into a new building at work. To celebrate (and generate a little publicity in the local paper), my boss decided to operate a free Internet cafe for a few days. Well, I say "cafe" but we didn't have any catering facilities, so couldn't offer drinks or food.

We invited kids from several local schools, and as the two technicians working in the building we had moved to, myself and a colleague ended up running the Internet cafe sessions. We basically spent our entire time trying to prevent the school kids from searching for porn.

2
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You had one job, Outlook! Security bug fix stops mail app from forwarding attachments

Stuart Castle

Re: "file attachments were getting cut out of messages when forwarded to others"

Removing the "Reply All" feature would cut a lot of the crap from my mailbox, Sadly, removing it's not an option as we do have a genuine need for it with certain email "threads".

7
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'The capacitors exploded, showering the lab in flaming confetti'

Stuart Castle

Re: Improbable

Having had to deal with a SCSI ribbon cable catching fire when plugged in to the motherboard, and having seen motherboards fry because someone plugged a dodgy card in to them (even a perfectly healthy card plugged in incorrectly can blow a motherboard), I would tend to disagrree. Regarding the hard drive, it's also entire possibly that a faulty motherboard could take that out. All it would take is for the drive interface (be it SCSI, SATA or IDE) to wack a voltage up the wrong wire, and it could easily fry the drive electronics..

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Wait, what? The Linux Kernel Mailing List archives lived on ONE PC? One BROKEN PC?

Stuart Castle

Re: £120 for 4MB

Yep. Same here.

0
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Remember those holy tech wars we used to have? Heh, good times

Stuart Castle

RE: Since I'm posting anonymously.... Amiga & C64 win everytime! :)

Damn right, and I am not anonymous.

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Stuart Castle
Joke

Fucksake..

You know the best option is nano..

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Microsoft offloads networking to FPGA-powered NICs

Stuart Castle

Sadly, at least on a consumer level, the PC market has separated into two camps. The consumer, who wants everything for as little money as possible (and the cheapest way to do this is use the CPU for as much as is possible), and the high performance/gamer market. These are people who can and will pay thousands for a PC, and often end up buying "snake oil" solutions to make that PC faster. They will pay hundreds of pounds for performance they rarely need. Personally, I am in the middle. I am a PC gamer, and will pay money to increase the performance of my PC, but I have neither the money nor the inclination to spend thousands upgrading my PC to a level where I'd rarely use all it's power.

Even enterprise customers want to pay as little as possible, often preferring to offload vital parts of their operation to the cloud (which offers a whole load of benefits and dangers that are beyond the scope of this comment).

The result is that as CPUs have gotten faster, I feel we've stayed still a little in PC design. The way to process data most efficiently (be it graphics, network or whatever) is to use a processor designed to process that data efficiently, and not a generic CPU that, while it may offer facilities to speed up processing given kinds of data, is not as efficient as a dedicated processor. Trouble is, the dedicated processor costs more.

I say stayed still because, in the 90s, there seemed to be a move to give every interface on a PC the power to do it's own processing, with SCSI cards, Sound Cards, Network cards and other interface cards. There was even a market for hardware DVD decoders.There is still a market for GPUs that do their own processing, although the processing for everything else has largely been absorbed into the CPU. On low end systems, the CPU even does the GPU work..

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Stuart Castle

So, after 20 years and god knows how many millions of pounds of research, Microsoft have come to the conclusion that offloading the network processing to a dedicated chip (as the 3Com 905 cards did) increases network throughput and decreases the workload of the CPU?

5
3

To Puerto Ricans: A Register apology

Stuart Castle

Re: Every day

"Naturally a Democrat politician is exempt from such trickery, no matter how culpable. Witness the disaster caused by the Democrat mayor of New Orleans, who was somehow overlooked in the media's rush to pin the blame for Hurricane Katrina on George W, via an avalanche of insulting lies and fabrications. To this day there are millions who believe Bush actually did 'something' wrong, somewhere.

"

Oh look, it's the "BBBBut, the Democrats did it ,so it's got to be OK" defence? The Democrats are not in power over Puerto Rico. The Republicans are.

Trump's response to this has been abysmal. it's 100 days after the hurricane and half the island still does not have power . (source: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/half-puerto-rico-without-power-100-days-after-hurricane-maria-a8134496.html ) . From the start we've had delays to food shipments caused by some obscure maritime law that the administration was apparently unable to remove or alter. We've had the Administration apparently unable to send in adequate numbers of helpers, and apparently unable to send in engineers to sort out the problem, preferring instead to offer the contract for the refit to a tiny company who is going to subcontract it. We've also had the President go to Puerto Rico, use it as a photo opportunity while throwing kitchen rolls at the population. Oh, and he's repeatedly had a go at them on Twitter..

What they should have done immediately is to suspend the laws restricting what vessels can call at the docks, and also bring in engineers to at least establish emergency supplies for electricity. Trump should not have mentioned it on twitter at all.

I feel sorry for the American's though. We English voted for fuckwit, but at least she is just incompetent and not actually vindictive. Trump is vindictive as well.

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Oh good. Transport for London gives Capita £80m for WAN, LAN and Wi-Fi

Stuart Castle

Re: failure is a positive

The article doesn't specify which TFL network infrastructure is covered by the contract. It's all very well scoffing and saying you don't need Wifi on the tube, but TFL themselves have various networks that will be covered by the contract, and these may do things like enable communication between important parts of the tube network, such as the signalling systems.

Wifi may or may not be important, but you need to be able to communicate with the signaling systems, and it''s entirely possible that modern signalling systems (such as that used on the Jubilee Line) will use standard networking hardware and protocols (such as Twisted Pair cabling and Ethernet) to communicate. Scoff all you like about Wifi, but TFL need to be able to communicate with the signaling systems.

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This week in 'Bungles in the AWS S3 Privacy Jungles', we present Alteryx – and 123 million households exposed

Stuart Castle

Re: It would be nice if...

It would, but the hacker would need to announce it. Otherwise, how would they spot it?

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Brrr! It's a snow day and someone has pwned the chuffin' school heating

Stuart Castle

Re: lax installers who have disregarded installation advice

The manufacturers can put in the most secure defaults possible, but if an installer changes them or the systems staff give the control systems publicly accessible IPs, then you have a security problem.

17
1

Tom Baker returns to finish shelved Doctor Who episodes penned by Douglas Adams

Stuart Castle

Saw Shada at the BFI on Saturday. Got the DVD, but had already pre-ordered the blu-ray.

In terms of quality, on the blu ray, they have upscaled the original 576i video rather than go back to the negatives and present the lot in 1080p. This was apparently a deliberate choice to maintain the look of the original show. That said, the studio based stuff (which would be most of this story) would have been shot on video rather than film, as UK TV companies mostly only used film for exterior and location shots (I say mostly as I believe some independant producers did shoot the entire programme on film).

The extras are HD, where available.

Anyhow, the story is excellent. Lalla Ward wasn't (unfortunately) present at the screening, but she sent a message saying that she always thought Shada was the most Douglas Adams-like Dr Who story, and having seen it, I agree. Oddly, the fact it looks crap almost adds to the enjoyment.

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Stuart Castle

Or, if they decide not to regenerate. The ability to do this appears to be something Steven Moffat has tried to introduce.

5
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Google's become an obsessive stalker and you can't get a restraining order

Stuart Castle

Re: Do people care?

On the spot fines have always worked like that. You don't need a ticket to go to a station. If there are no ticket barriers, you don't need one to go on the platform, but if a ticket inspector sees you and there is even a chance you have been or will get onto a train, they will try and fine you (I have experienced this: I was waiting on the platform for my sister who was on a train, and was threatened with a fine because the ticket inspector saw me. He backed off when I asked him to take me to court).

It's the same when you are dealing with some government departments (the Information Commissioner's office and Health and Safety Executive come to mind). If someone lodges a complaint against you, they will investigate it. They will investigate it under the assumption you are guilty, and if they find you are, they will fine you. To avoid the fine, you have to prove you are either innocent, or have taken steps to avoid the complaint will not happen again.

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Inside Internet Archive: 10PB+ of storage in a church... oh, and a little fight to preserve truth

Stuart Castle

Re: Essential service

No, The Bird Is The Word,

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2WNrx2jq184

8
0

Thousand-dollar iPhone X's Face ID wrecked by '$150 3D-printed mask'

Stuart Castle

Re: When will they learn

Re: " The deal is that you make a trade-off between security and convenience; it's not hard to understand. I wouldn't go back to using a phone without a fingerprint sensor," .

Indeed. As my old Software Engineering Management lecturer (who actually included a lot of security info in his lectures, particularly focusing on secure design of systems) often reminded us, the old security adage is "Security, Ease of Use, Functionality. Pick two".

Regarding the face mask, I can see it would be a problem If you have any valuable info on your device. Apple Pay is not so much a problem as I would hope the staff of any given shop would notice if you suddenly pulled a face mask out of your bag and used it to pay for goods.

7
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Augmented reality: Like it or not, only Apple's ready for the data-vomit gush

Stuart Castle

Personally, I think you are right in that VR will sell to gamers, particularly those with mid range and high end rigs (IE, probably the only people that would call their computers "rigs").

The casual gamer is likely to be impressed should they see a decent VR system in action, but unlikely to be able to afford (or justify) the expense required for the headset and a PC powerful enough to do do it justice.

It's also worth noting that beyond games and entertainment, it is difficult to see a use for VR outside those industries though. It's use in enterprise is also limited by the fact that by definition, someone using VR is unable to see anything outside the helmet.

AR has the advantage that it can display objects as if they were in the real world. This means it's entirely feasible that, say, a field service engineer can use it it to view mantenance instructions while actually maintaining the machine. For instance, I've been told that ThyssenKrupp are looking at using the Hololens to enable their lift engineers to look up Life maintenance manuals while fixing the lift. It could also be feasibly used in conjunction with something like Skype, so enabling people to communicate and, Kingsman style, appear to be in the same room. If you have executives that spend most of their lives flying all over the world in Business class, then even the £3,000 or so Microsoft charge for an Enterprise Hololens suddenly starts to look cheap.

For consumer AR, I suspect the Skype style virtual presence system I describe above could also be a selling point, but the main use is probably in gaming and entertainment.

In both cases, there may be a potentially hefty cost to implement AR on a desktop or laptop computer.

With regard to Apple's action, assuming the market does take off, including AR support by default in iOS 11 gives them a massive advantage. They already have a potential audience of millions, that they can sell apps to.

Don't get me wrong. I have access to a Hololens at work, and the geek in me loves being able to wear it, and pin webpages to the wall as if they were posters. I am also actively looking for ways we can use it in our day to day work. I also have access to VR headsets (Gear VR, Vive and Rift) and love them. I'd also love to be able to buy my own Hololens and Rift for home use (although at home I'd get more use from the Rift), I just think the potentially expensive dedicated hardware will be over taken by phones that have AR support, as people can more easily justify spending hundreds of pounds on a phone (which has uses even if the VR and AR don't take off) than they can on a device that may be obsolete in a year.

4
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39 episodes of 'CSI' used to build AI's natural language model

Stuart Castle

Re: visuals?

Re: A TV show (no matter how lame the story line and acting might be) is a complex interaction of visual, speech and musical clues... remove any "channel" and you're likely going to miss a lot of the action.

Depends on the show (and in particular, the director). If you watch any soap, the drama tends to be in what the characters say rather than do, and the visuals don't actually change much. Certain other TV shows are like that as well. For instance, you can generally get the gist of what is happening in Doctor Who by listening to the dialogue, if not the finer detail. Then there are other shows where the soundtrack is almost secondary to the visuals, and you would have little or no clue regarding what is happening if you weren't watching (e.g. Legends of Tomorrow).

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