* Posts by AlbertH

355 posts • joined 18 Jul 2012

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PwC: More redundos at HQ of UK 'leccy stuff shop Maplin

AlbertH

Re: You do realise.....

I've offered PwC £50 for the component stocks. I think that's pretty generous!

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Crunch time: Maplin in talks to sell the business

AlbertH

Re: Sadly true

At least all Maplin's stock is hand made in the UK not imported from China

Are you mad? 90% of the rubbish they sell is cheap 'n' nasty Chinese imports that you could buy more cheaply yourself directly from China. They charge 12p for a resistor that I can buy in the Far East at 15p / 100! They lost the plot some years ago when they tried to be "Tandy". Tandy / Radio Shack went out of business because people didn't want to pay premium prices for cheap Chinese tat. Maplin failed to learn the lesson.....

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HP coughs up $6.5m to make dodgy laptop display lawsuit go away

AlbertH
Linux

Re: Similar Prob

If yuo get an Acer make sure that you get one without Windoze pre-installed. You'll save about £90 and can easily install a proper operating system on it!

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Death notice: Moore’s Law. 19 April 1965 – 2 January 2018

AlbertH

Educational Issues....

To say nothing of the ability to find candidates capable of becoming software engineers.

This is very true. Since education in much of the world these days has been devalued to its current nadir, we're unlikely ever to see a truly competent, educated, able software engineering workforce. Schools today seem to believe that indoctrinating children with the latest PC "values" and deluded left-wing nonsense is an education. It isn't.

I've had the recent misfortune to want to employ a couple of school-leavers in trainee positions that would give them further education (at a local college) and a reasonable rate of pay. I was only able to find one lad who was sufficiently able to fill one of the posts, and he'd been home-educated. The other 80 applicants were all equally ill-equipped for life outside the lower reaches of the civil service! None were sufficiently numerate, and most had the literacy abilities of an 8-year-old. Many had never read a book, and all were simply interested in getting paid for menial work, rather than receiving any kind of further education.

Unless education is actually reinstated in UK schools, we're going to end up with the most ignorant, intellectually crippled populace in the western world. We already lag much of the world in basic engineering skills, and this will only worsen with the current crop of "teachers".

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PC not dead, Apple single-handedly propping up mobe market, says Gartner

AlbertH

Can't do most of my work on a Tablet...

I'd love to be able to get rid of my large computer boxes in my office / study and in the loft. They're large, expensive, fairly noisy and consume quite a lot of power, but they're indispensable. I can't write firmware code on a tablet. I could (just about) get away with a laptop or two, but their reliability and price against performance statistics are woeful - even at the very top of the market.

Trivial stuff - answering emails, a bit of web browsing or listening to music - can be done on a tablet, but pretty much everything else requires bigger hardware.

I suggest that many professional computer users are in the same situation at the moment. The casual domestic user can probably get away with using just a tablet (my wife mostly does), but business users are still stuck with the large, power-hungry machines for a while yet!

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Firefox to emit ‘occasional sponsored story’ in ads test

AlbertH

Re: Bye Bye

Nice idea, but Palemoon doesn't have all the features that are baked-in to the bigger browsers like Firefox and Chrome.

Looks like I'm going to have to contribute to the "Otter" browser project!

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Ubuntu 17.10 pulled: Linux OS knackers laptop BIOSes, Intel kernel driver fingered

AlbertH

Re: Accidental Aardvark

There could very well be a class action lawsuit filed against Canonical, Ubuntu's parent company.

Yes - they could be sued for a refund of the full purchase price of Ubuntu.

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AlbertH

Re: Accidental Aardvark

One of the nastiest Windoze virus infections - prevalent a few years ago - was called CIH. It would actually fry the BIOS on some machines, and render most machine unbootable by screwing up the BIOS settings. It wasn't (usually) detected by the usual "anti-virus" snake-oil, so it would infect plenty of other machines (mostly by sending spam emails) before triggering its BIOS-wrecking payload.

Remember - it's only M$-based machines that suffer mass virus infections!

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Beyond code PEBCAK lies KMACYOYO, PENCIL and PAFO

AlbertH

PICNIC

Problem in chair - not in computer

The most common sort of hell-desk fault

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Pro tip: You can log into macOS High Sierra as root with no password

AlbertH

Tee Hee

There are kiddies in every Apple store getting Admin rights and typing rm - rf just to see what happens!

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UK.gov joins Microsoft in fingering North Korea for WannaCry

AlbertH

Re: I blame

Microsoft

......For deliberately compromising security in favour of "ease of use"....

......For still believing that "Security through obscurity" could possibly work...

......For failing to patch flaws that had been demonstrated five years ago....

......For having the temerity to actually charge money for their "Operating Systems".....

......For still existing and being in the pocket of the NSA.....

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Wanna exorcise Intel's secretive hidden CPU from your hardware? Meet Purism's laptops

AlbertH
Headmaster

Re: Everybody's ethical

Just read up on the"Frankfurt School" and discover where most leftist "thinking" came from, how they subverted the media, introduced "political correctness", and have largely taken over education throughout the world. There's a pretty good Wikipedia entry about them!

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Malware hidden in vid app is so nasty, victims should wipe their Macs

AlbertH
Boffin

Nothing new!

There was persistent malware as far back as the Amiga! There was battery-backed RAM into which it was possible to install a little nasty that would get written to every floppy inserted into the machine and would write itself to any uninfected Amiga that the floppy was put into.... It didn't do anything malicious, just spread itself to almost every Amiga I ever saw!

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Boss visited the night shift and found a car in the data centre

AlbertH

Re: Cycle speed tests

One Christmas in the 70s, Broadcasting House had the biggest Scalextric track you've ever seen in one of the bigger basement studios!

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AlbertH

Re: Mini - not really

It's no surprise to find the dean's car on the roof sometime towards the end of term.

We used to stand the maths master's mini on four oil drums!

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AlbertH

Re: Mini - not really

Does an Austin A30 count? The car could be completely stripped and rebuilt with two sizes of spanners and two sizes of flat-bladed screwdrivers. It was just about the ultimate in simplicity. As students, we disassembled one in the car park and took it - piece by piece - upstairs to a fourth-floor laboratory, where it was reassembled.

The following morning, the Prof admitted that it was the best April 1st prank that he'd ever seen when he found it between the benches in the lab waiting for the first lecture....!

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Equifax mega-leak: Security wonks smack firm over breach notification plan

AlbertH

Well considering one was the CFO and one was the 'president of U.S. information solutions' the idea that neither of them knew of a significant data breach days after it happened is farcical.

Isn't that the very essence of insider dealing? I was under the impression that this was illegal and should result in long jail sentences.

There is also the issue of criminal irresponsibility - these clowns have no idea about data security (it's not the first time they've been compromised) and they should be shut down and jailed. The other "credit checking" agencies also need thorough investigation, and if there's the slightest possibility that they could be compromised, they also need to be shut down - and prosecuted for negligence - and the whole rotten industry should cease. Banks and other financial institutions should revert to doing their own checking of customers - just like they used to.

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Five ways Apple can fix the iPhone, but won't

AlbertH

Re: Sound

One question is why CDs are mastered with such awful "hot" (compressed) sound?

It's simply because "it's what the market expects". It's very instructive to look at the oscillogram of "Brothers In Arms" from the 1985 CD and the re-released 2011 version. The later one is compressed and clipped to hell. If the 1985 release had been mastered like that, CD probably wouldn't have taken off as a medium!

Mastering to vinyl is a real skill. I've done it, and I've seen it done properly by a real mastering engineer - there's no comparison! With CD, it's just a case of crank it up to 11 and let the digital clipping take care of the overshoots. The distortion on modern CDs is disgusting and most of them are unlistenable. I'd rather put up with the surface noise, clicks and record wear distortion of vinyl than listen to the modern recorded CD rubbish.

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I say, BING DONG! Microsoft's search engine literally cocks up on front page for hours

AlbertH

The trouble with sand is it gets everywhere...

....and makes a good time grate!

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Russian malware scum post new rent-an-exploit

AlbertH

Re: Why use Firefox?

"Cyberfox" is just a skinned version of Firefox. It's codebase is several releases behind the genuine Firefox, so is significantly more vulnerable!!

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WannaCry-killer Marcus Hutchins denies Feds' malware claims

AlbertH

Re: A question for some American lawyer

I do know one guy (he's Dutch) who sued the State of Oregon for the refund of his Bail Bond, his legal expenses, lost earnings and even for the replacement air ticket he had to buy to get out of the country! It took over two years - and more expense - but he recovered the whole lot. It became an obsession, but he stuck it out and eventually won - from outside the USA.

The US judicial system is really broken - particularly for foreign visitors. I certainly won't be going there again any time soon!!

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Targeted, custom ransomware menace rears its ugly head

AlbertH

Re: Custom ransomware menace rears its ugly head

This is what happens when you use that amateur open source socialist Linux instead of the industry standard legally compliant Microsoft® Windows™.

Joking aside, it's interesting to look at the exclusions that Microsoft have in their corporate contracts.

My lawyer recently had cause to examine these carefully and said that there's no way that any truly "diligent" company could sign up to one of these "legal" abominations. MS wash their hands of all Malware of all sorts. If you have any issue with their software or operating systems, it's pretty much your problem - you're on your own!

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Openreach asks UK what it thinks about 10 million 'full fibre' connections

AlbertH

Re: 27 years too late, after Thatcher killed it

If someone could have worked out a way of feeding 10km of fibre down a duct

They did - a long time ago. It's called "blown fibre" and the ducts have lots of smaller plastic sub-ducts within them. Fibre is added to the duct by blowing a puck attached to a drawstring down the duct with compressed air.

I built a network of fibre like that over some tens of kilometres (for traffic monitoring CCTV). The plastic ductwork is cheap, can be "moled" in (no surface digging required) and provides capacity for literally thousands of fibres through a 10cm diameter duct.

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AlbertH

Re: 27 years too late, after Thatcher killed it

Small point of order:

Thatcher had nothing to do with stopping the FTTP roll-out. That happened in the first years of the Blair Reign Of Terror, because Blair's pet companies (like NTL and Telewest) couldn't compete with BT - not because of cost, but because of fundamental ineptitude.

Amalgamating all cable TV services in the UK into one company was just one step away from Nationalising it, which Gordon Brown proposed a few years later.

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Pastor la vista, baby! FCC enforcers shut down church pirate radio

AlbertH

Re: I think someone may have reported them

Getting a clean carrier is relatively easy. Controlling your deviation with all sorts of programme material is much harder. The cheap any easy way is to use clipping, but who wants fuzz box effects on everything? A truly effective airchain processor can cost more than the rest of the station put together. It's difficult to get consistently high deviation inside the permitted bandwidth without sounding "over-processed", but it's possible.

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AlbertH

Re: "The cost is about £5-6k/month"

25W at 25m sets you about a kilometre in reasonably noise-quietening stereo in most British cities. If they're going to be serious about RSL broadcasts, they should be in the low hundreds of Watts for fair coverage in most areas. OFCOM fail to recognise the problems of the raised noise floor (from the proliferation of broadcasters and nasty SMPSUs everywhere).

25W in mono could cover a good chunk of London in the 70s, but these days it goes nowhere.

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AlbertH

Re: "The cost is about £5-6k/month"

The sad reality of the small licences under OFCOM is that the power levels permitted are barely enough to get over the noise floor - giving a usable range of a kilometre or two in most cities - and their small local long-term licences are so financially restricted that they are impossible to operate without sizeable donations from operators or (if you're lucky) the listeners.

Many of the "community" broadcasters manage to attain audiences that can be counted on your fingers and toes - none will ever be attractive to advertisers - the derisory power levels and antenna restrictions ensure that they can never reach a wide audience.

These licences (RSL and "community") were just a sop to try to close down the pirates. OFCOM don't actually want broadcast radio to be the mass medium it once was. They're doing all they can to kill off innovation and are allowing ever more of the automated, voice-tracked rubbish to fill the bands. They are allowing the three big radio corporations to get away with all sorts of contraventions of the broadcast licence terms, but cracking down on the little, self-financed guys for too little "locally generated" content.

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AlbertH

Re: I wouldn't say it was ALL downhill.

Sadly, under BBC control, Peel was allocated a "producer" to keep him under control. He was never as innovative or interesting as during the few months he was broadcasting from offshore. Similarly, Kenny Everett was under the thumb of "Auntie", and was only allowed to really let rip when he was on the very early Capital Radio. Everett was an innovative broadcaster and very misunderstood.

British land-based pirates were good in the 70s and 80s, but lost their way when they all became "dance music" clones, financed by raves and drug dealing in the 90s. There are virtually no worthwhile pirates in the UK any more, with the exception of Radio Brittania broadcasting from the top of the pennines, and one or two others around the cities. London has nothing of any note these days, and persistent enforcement actions by OFCOM make most of the ones in the provinces sporadic at best.

Mainland Europe has a lot of pirate activity. France is getting lots on medium wave since their national broadcasters decided to close down there. The Netherlands has a healthy pirate scene, with some of the stations running many kilowatts. Germany suffers under Mutti Merkel and the kids are beginning to make their displeasure known, with many anti-immigrant stations popping up all over the country. Italy is the same chaotic mess that it always was, and Spain has lots of pirates. Greece is pretty active too.

The technology to build and operate clandestine broadcast stations has never been cheaper, and the power semiconductor devices available today are amazing - rugged, lots of gain, and pennies per Watt! Clandestine broadcasters use ever more complex means to conceal their studios and dissociate them from their unattended transmission sites. With some finance and Intelligence, a pirate station can evade the law for years. Their transmitter equipment will periodically be seized by the authorities, but there are seldom arrests and convictions for illicit broadcasting.

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Customer satisfaction is our highest priority… OK, maybe second-highest… or third...

AlbertH

Re: Et merde!

All the data plans on UK mobile networks are wildly over-priced. The UK is one of the most expensive places in the world for any kind of connectivity. My domestic interweb connection costs ~£40/month for 70 Mb/s. I get 1 Gb/s in Singapore for ~£5/month!

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AlbertH
Coat

Re: Local bowling club does signs right

Our Local:

"We aim to please - we'd be pleased if you'd aim!"

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Comodo database glitch causes billing problems

AlbertH
FAIL

Re: Well at least they have working backups

We can chalk it up to a learning experience and go from there.

Probably not. It smells like incompetence.... Very difficult to root out!

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Ransomware scum have already unleashed kill-switch-free WannaCry‬pt‪ variant

AlbertH

Papworth NHS Trust has had something like 16 of these ransomware attacks in the last 12 months, and hasn't done anything. It is going to take a lot more than this to change management attitudes.

That's particularly scary - for me - since I'm one of their patients!

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Microsoft to spooks: WannaCrypt was inevitable, quit hoarding

AlbertH
Linux

Be careful what you wish for little penguins. Windows is only as dirty as it is because of it's popularity!

Nope. The fundamental structure of Unix and Unix-alike systems (including Linux) is based on rigorous permissions. I haven't come across any piece of malware that can actually guess my Administrative Password....

Unfortunately, a Truly Stupid Decision™ was taken by Bill gates himself in the late 80s - "security doesn't matter - it's all about "Ease Of Use"". This has haunted them ever since - shipping OSs and software with any tiny vestige of security just tacked on as an afterthought.

Windows is rather analogous to cassette tape - it's a home use medium, but not suitable for serious, high quality work!

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AlbertH

Windows XP had fundamentally poor security. I mean conceptually in its design.

Sadly, the vast majority of the XP vulnerabilities still exist in their latest versions. MS never have understood the need for real security, and it was always an afterthought. Bill took the decision - way back in 1987 - to sacrifice "security" for "ease of use". This situation still pertains, which is why MS products are simply not suitable for serious use. They're "home grade" products and shouldn't be used for anything that requires security.

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AlbertH

Re: XP

Blame that Jeremy.....

Nope - blame T. Blair esq. He took Bill's shilling way back in the early part of the noughties and was bought a nice house in Eaton Square, Belgravia in return. Blair tied the UK into an "agreement" with Microsoft, ensuring that we would be saddled with insecure, unreliable, expensive crapware for ever more.

Any attempts by smarter parts of government to migrate to more modern, more secure operating systems and software were (and are) stamped on by the mandarins in Whitehall (many of whom are also the recipients of nice presents from MS).

It must be borne in mind that No UK Government IT projects have EVER worked properly

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UK hospital meltdown after ransomware worm uses NSA vuln to raid IT

AlbertH

Re: Gotta move to Linux

Don't tell them that. If they all start using Linux, the virus devs will move on to that.

That's pretty unlikely. The underlying permissions structure of Linux, BSD and Unix make most of the types of attacks impossible. A user could (theoretically) screw up their own files, but the damage would be very confined.

The Linux problems at the moment are:

It's perceived as "geeky" and difficult to use:

My whole family have used Linux only for he last ten years, and most of them haven't a clue about anything other than basic use of a computer.

There's too much choice and no definitive "version":

One of the bigger distributions could be chosen - probably something like Debian / Mate - as the "definitive" version.

There's no support:

There is if you go with a bigger vendor....

All the objections can be easily overcome.

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AlbertH

Re: NHS staff

No - PICNIC

Problem In Chair Not In Computer

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AlbertH

Re: Using Windows?

Remind me again, how did such an odd and inefficient system come to pass?

A clue for you..... The NHS began in 1948. Who was in government in 1948?

Most NHS computer systems were installed in the early 2000s..... Who was in government in 2000...?

Who got a nice house bought for him in Eaton Square SW1 by Bill Gates? Clue: He was Prime Minister in 2001......

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AlbertH

Re: Ransomware

Hopefully a major incident like this will spur some action from someone.

This is Windows you're talking about. "Security" just doesn't exist.

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'Crazy bad' bug in Microsoft's Windows malware scanner can be used to install malware

AlbertH
Linux

Re: It's been patched and rolled out.

It might fix that one, but there will be plenty more where that came from!

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FYI: You can blow Intel-powered broadband modems off the 'net with a 'trivial' packet stream

AlbertH

Virgin on the ridiculous

Unfortunately, Virgin cap your usage and deliberately cripple your connection if you exceed their paltry allowance. They also sell all your browsing information to "Phorm". Their DNS is poisoned, and their "service" is a joke, with week-long outages and no recompense for the abused subscriber.

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BOFH: The Boss, the floppy and the work 'experience'

AlbertH

Re: Being on a placement myself...

Transport for London is going through an ill-managed Number 2 (how appropriate) in Vanguard G's post. The collapse of morale and the ill-will towards the clueless management who - ultimately - are just trying to justify their unearned wealth is astonishing to see. Any staff with any real engineering ability are resigning or taking "Voluntary Severance", leaving behind the mindless pen-pushers and useless management morons - it won't be very safe to travel around London soon.

The infrastructure of our city is crumbling, the contractors charged with doing the repairs and upgrades are always the cheapest of a bad bunch, and we're now saddled with a Muslim Mayor who's more interested in carefully placing his cronies and "Fellow Travellers" than he is in improving London. No wonder people are leaving in droves!

BTW - you don't get a placement at TfL unless you're from a "minority".....

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Please come back! TalkTalk woos customers with broadband offers

AlbertH
Flame

Liars, Damn' Liars and ISPs

Virgin's "traffic shaping" and their little caveats throughout their small print means that you'll NEVER get anything approaching their quoted speeds. You might get (very) short bursts of high speed - if you're lucky. Virgin also sell all your browsing data to advertising companies.

BT (if you pay for their most expensive VDSL service and are in a covered area) don't cap or restrict their service too much (I get an absolutely consistent 78 Mb/s down, 17.8 Mb/s up), but their DNS lookups are restricted (supposedly due to some Act of Parliament).

Talk Talk are exactly what they claim to be - all Talk! They cannot deliver any kind of useful service at my Central London address, and my neighbours - on a different telephone exchange - get data rates that I used to get from a dial-up modem! They are incompetent and dissembling.

Most ISPs are just reselling BT services, so they're all as bad as each other, and Virgin are a clueless, useless, sad joke. You'd think that Virgin - as a monopoly on cable services in the UK - would make sufficient effort that their service would be several times better than anything down twisted copper wires, so that they could take over the whole market - after all, the theoretical bandwidth down a coaxial cable is spectacular. Virgin just use their position to fleece their customers for an abysmal, intermittent "service".

There doesn't appear to be ANY ISP in the UK that can provide a proper, fast, stable, uncapped, unrestricted service at any price. Please correct me if I'm wrong!

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UK's largest hospital trust battles Friday 13th malware outbreak

AlbertH
Thumb Down

Re: Gosh.......

D.A.M. You're going to have to stop being a snowflake and grow up. If you don't like a comment, don't call it "racist" - that's just a (now) meaningless epithet spat out by clueless lefties who desperately need to justify their childish beliefs.

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Ham-fisted: Chap's radio app killed remotely after posting bad review

AlbertH

Re: I remember when ...

We all did!

I made grid bias batteries by breaking open hand-lamp batteries and taking a couple of cells out, then wrapping them in paper and insulting tape. They would last for months. I also made HT (B+) battery stacks out of hand-lamp batteries hacked together for 120V. The heater batteries were "U2" torch cells, and would be the ones that were replaced weekly - I used to buy four U2 cells with my pocket money! A little later, I started to use a 6V motorcycle battery for the heaters, and my dad built a charger to replenish the charge over night.

My receiver began as a 2-valve TRF with regeneration, and grew into a dual-conversion 12-valve monster which included three 7360 switched beam tetrodes - one for the front end mixer, one for the second mixer and a third for the product detector for resolving SSB. It's still the best receiver I've ever used!

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Poor software design led to second £1m Army spy drone crash

AlbertH

You have to wonder how much military aviation experience the designers of this thing have.

None whatsoever. I know two ex-members of the Thales team who left because of the fundamental ineptitude of the management. Many obvious, simple and inexpensive fixes were proposed for these vehicles, but management didn't want to know.

After all, the more of these drones that the military destroy, the more Thales will sell - especially since they can always blame "pilot error" when the wetware decides that intervention is necessary!

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Antivirus tools are a useless box-ticking exercise says Google security chap

AlbertH

Re: About time

AV is a scam. I have never seen any AV product actually do anything useful. When it's trivially easy to build and disseminate a Windows virus in minutes, the AV vendors are - at best - playing "catch up" and at worst are just shipping bogus products that just use up machine resources for no return whatsoever.

Since MS don't understand the basic principles of security - they used to, but abandoned it in favour of "ease of use" - if you want any real kind of "cybersecurity", you cannot use MS products. When the business world catches on to this basic truth, MS will be (finally) done for, unless they abandon their entire product range and start again, much as Apple did with OSX.

Even Chrome and Android have better fundamental, underlying security than any version of Windows!

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British politicians sign off on surveillance law, now it's over to the Queen

AlbertH
Childcatcher

As Usual - it's unworkable

As with everything the UK government tries to do with computers, it will be an unmitigated disaster.

They have no idea of the sheer volume of data they'll be trying to harvest. The clueless overpaid software shysters will sell them all sorts of worthless "analysis" software to comb through the vast amounts of data they'll collect, and after they raid a few schools for children connecting to inappropriate websites, they'll quietly drop the nonsense after squandering squillions of quid of our money.....

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It's nearly 2017 and JPEGs, PDFs, font files can hijack your Apple Mac, iPhone, iPad

AlbertH

That's really funny. These Apple clowns build their shiny stuff on top of BSD, which SHOULD be seriously secure, but they go the Microsoft route, and assume that all their users are too stupid to use an OS with real security, so they cripple its innate security "for ease of use". Morons!

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But is it safe? Uncork a bottle of vintage open-source FUD

AlbertH

Re: User Importance

We have "important" managers at work MUST have an iPad (must be the latest, most expensive variant), the most expensive Macbook, and an iPhone 7 (the most expensive version). What do they do with this expensive rubbish? Connect to an OpenChange Server for their email, browse the interweb, and play games.

Each of them has several thousand pounds-worth of Apple hardware that could trivially be replaced with a cheap tablet, cheap Android phone, and a third-hand ten-year-old desktop machine from the office pool running Ubuntu.

That's where your tax money is going - supporting idiots like that. I work at a Government department!

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