* Posts by AlbertH

370 posts • joined 18 Jul 2012


Pull request accepted: You want to buy GitHub, Microsoft? Go for it – EU


Re: Perhaps I'm too cautious but...

I figure it's only a matter of time before the more useful bits of private GitHub projects start turning up in Microsoft software or as Microsoft products.

That's why I've pulled down everything I've ever put on GitHub. I'm now looking for a collaborative repository that isn't infected by M$.

Sysadmin trained his offshore replacements, sat back, watched ex-employer's world burn


Re: Not in IT...

Indeed, you thought you had just reduced a\ wage bill, but you actually threw away valuable capital that you have invested a lot of money in (that knowledge and experience)

This is exactly what a Big Broadcasting Concern that I used to work for found out when they tried to outsource their engineering functions. The "make do and mend" that had gone on for years simply couldn't be supported by the new sub-contractors, and suddenly everything - equipment, software, spares, consumables - cost several times their previous prices, because the "support" that was now being provided was mostly inept. The sub-contractors tried to hire many of us ex-engineering types, but we'd moved on to better things.

Fast forward twelve years.... I received a plea from someone very high up in the Concern, begging for some support on a "consultancy" basis. I've told them that I'll turn up - from my semi-retirement next to the Mediterranean Sea - for nothing less than £3600 per 8-hour day ( I like the look of the hourly rate - it's roughly what I was paid per week before the redundancy! ).

I start work in a couple of weeks' time!

'Fibre broadband' should mean glass wires poking into your router, reckons Brit survey



Back in the early 90s, when the fastest thing available (in a few places) was ISDN, BT internally called it

"Innovations Subscribers Don't Need"

That attitude still exists at BT. They are largely clueless. We're stuck with two monopolies in most areas, both equally inept. Neither BT nor VM have the ability to provide an acceptable service at a reasonable price.


Re: Time for a bigger stick.

Open Retch don't appear to have heard of "blown" fibre - inserted into a ductwork by air pressure. I was installing fibre this way in the 1980s, so it's not exactly a new concept.

One install I did a couple of years ago required new ducts into an existing building. We hired a "moling services" company, who actually tunnelled the duct route for us with their miniature robotic "moles", then pulled the duct sleeving along the tunnel they'd created, and finally installed the couple of dozen pipes (each about the thickness of a drinking straw) along which be blew our bundles of fibres. The installation of the 850m duct route capable of handling a few thousand fibres took less than two days, and required minimal digging!

It's a (relatively) cheap and rapid way of installing fibre - you just need reasonably accurate "stats" diagrams of the locations of the existing underground services. It's also minimally invasive!


Re: Eir, Vodafone & Sky

Neither 3G nor 4G mobile are capable of providing "broadband" services. They're just not fast enough. And the latency is always horrible.

The mobile providers in the UK have huge coverage issues. They try to do each provision as cheaply as possible, so "advanced concepts" like shaped coverage is just an interesting notion - but not for them. Each mobile network claims coverage in the region of >90%. The reality is radically different. Real measurements (rather than their hopeful "predictions" of coverage) show that around 35% of the UK has an actually acceptable mobile signal coverage.

Remember - the UK is the second most expensive place in the world to make a phone call!


OFCOM are in the pockets of the service providers. They're entirely useless in every way - a bunch of oxygen thieves. Just another UK Quango set up by Blair's "government" to appease the "stupid electorate" (Blair's words).

Thumb Down

The sad truth of the UK situation...

Virgin Media still claim that the ratty old bit of cheap coax run into their subscriber's houses is "fibre". When called out on this they get all defensive and claim that the "fibre's terminated in the junction box on the side of your house".....

The reality of these "high speed" services is appalling - contention ruins data rates during periods of higher usage, return path speeds are typically only 3% of the downlink speed, and downtime is as high as 25%. They actually have the temerity to charge some of the highest prices in the world for this garbage!

BT can't provide anything better than their flaky VDSL to the home, since their city and town infrastructure often dates back to Victorian times. Their pricing strategy is interesting too - a headline price of "just" £20 per month for the first year than >£60 per month thereafter! They try to sneak the price increase into the smallest possible print at the bottom of their literature, and hope that their sucker customers won't notice the massive price change if they're on Direct Debit.....

My service in Singapore is genuine FTTP at 2 Gb/s for ~$4 US per month. The prices that are being charged in the UK should be able to pay for laying real fibre throughout the country. Unfortunately, the UK government is entirely toothless when it comes to dealing with business.

EE seeks guinea pig millennial hipsters for 5G experiments


Why don't those inept clowns EE ("Nothing Anywhere") concentrate on getting their basic services to work properly before "rolling out" another worthless speed increase? Roughly 90% of the UK can't even get 4G and almost 60% can't get 3G coverage. You can safely ignore EE's "Coverage Maps" - they're "best guess" rather than actually measured results.

EE can't get even basic service to work at the tops of hills - a fundamental flaw in digital mobile telephony - because too many conflicting cell sites are "visible" to the handset. This wasn't a problem with NBFM analogue phones - because of "capture effect", strongest always wins.

Back in the pre-digital days, I was professionally involved with a trial of a digital add-on to the original NBFM cellular system. This had all the benefits of the basic NBFM service, but with the capacity of digital (it used a sort of Time-Division Multiplexing). Back in the late 80s we were getting practical data rates similar to today's 4G.....

Remember - the UK is the second most expensive place in the world to make a phonecall!

BOFH: Give me a lever long enough and a fool, I mean a fulcrum and ....


Re: cellphone?

Over here in Germany, it's a "Handy"!

Britain mulls 'complete shutdown' of 4G net for emergency services


Airwave - pah!

Sorry, but that's nonsense.

Airwave invariably fails when the system is stressed. It has huge areas of no coverage or of places where the signals are just hopelessly garbled. The Fire Brigade in London worked on the assumption that reliable Airwave coverage would be around 25% of the city.

That's why they still keep "Fireground" NBFM unencrypted radio - it works where Airwave doesn't.


No Change There.....

The head of the project will have been on his mandatory Common Purpose course, so will be the usual ineffective, brainwashed drone.

He will have a "project board" whose principal remit is to come up with excuses for late delivery / failure to work (at all in many cases) / cost over-runs and all the other usual "teething problems" that beset any governmental technological project.

His employment tenure will be measured in months. He will be replaced at regular intervals by more of the same useless drones......


Re: Still waiting

Surely the staff can then be TUPE'd across again?

Sadly, TUPE doesn't really work. It was inflicted on me several times. The usual scam is to offer exactly the same pay as the old job, then reduce it after 6 months because of "commercial considerations". By that time, you're thoroughly embedded into the new company, and your only option is to go looking for the same type of work elsewhere. Of course your old employer won't consider re-hiring you since you showed no loyalty to them.....


Re: Still waiting

Airwave doesn't work anywhere nearly as well as the old analogue radio. The "black spots" and "garble zones" are widespread.

Half of all Windows 10 users thought: BSOD it, let's get the latest build


Re: What Is The Point For Continued OS Redesign/Updates

So if this is the last Windoze, does that mean M$ are working on a Totally New OS?

They've probably finally woken up to the fact that Windoze is now just a poor proprietary client for a Unix world. They lost the fight. They couldn't compete with "free" and "open". The wold's web servers run Linux or BSD. Even Apple use BSD below their shiny stuff. It's Game Over for the worst- written computer game ever!


Re: They say history repeats itself.

But but but...I'm sure they said Windows XP was built from the ground up, and they said the same about Win7, and so on.

XP and everything after still has the NT spaghetti-code kernel. They keep re-writing the shiny desktop, but the foundations are still rotten.

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


Re: You do realise.....

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

Crunch time: Maplin in talks to sell the business


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.....

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


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!

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


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".

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


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!

Firefox to emit ‘occasional sponsored story’ in ads test


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!

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


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.


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!




Problem in chair - not in computer

The most common sort of hell-desk fault

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


Tee Hee

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

UK.gov joins Microsoft in fingering North Korea for WannaCry


Re: I blame


......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.....

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


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!

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


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!

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


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!


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!


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....!

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


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.

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


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.

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


The trouble with sand is it gets everywhere...

....and makes a good time grate!

Russian malware scum post new rent-an-exploit


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!!

WannaCry-killer Marcus Hutchins denies Feds' malware claims


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!!

Targeted, custom ransomware menace rears its ugly head


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!

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


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.


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.

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


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.


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.


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.


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.

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


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!


Re: Local bowling club does signs right

Our Local:

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

Comodo database glitch causes billing problems


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!

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


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!

Microsoft to spooks: WannaCrypt was inevitable, quit hoarding


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!


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.


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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