* Posts by HelpfulJohn

173 posts • joined 31 Aug 2012


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


Re: Recycle Bin

"Yep the save for later folder until... Windows decides that it is already too full and starts deleting the oldest files to make room for the new ones."

I have a person to whom I am the resident cheap labour help desk, She uses the Win-ten Desktop as a file storage. Windows helpfully moves stuff around and deletes or hides old files that haven't been used for a while.

I tried folding her files into folders on the Desktop, "PDFs", "Tools", "Bills" and such so now she has those *and* a whole slew of new files.

She is bright but she just doesn't get the idea of file systems.

Or backups.

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


Re: were not allowed to vote, even though decision affected them massively

" Scots not living in Scotland were not allowed to vote."

Englishmen not living in the northern shires of UKland weren't allowed to vote, either, though any split would have affected us as much as it would have those under SNP control.

Most of the country was disenfranchised by the will of the representatives of a tiny minority.


Re: That argument goes both ways you know.

"And those complaining against it need to accept the result as this is a democracy and their opinion is not worth more than everyone elses."

But *my* "opinion" is real fact and *is* worth more than the paltry few per cent who voted to Brexit.

For more than twelve millennia the global trend has been to create and maintain ever larger, more technologically sophisticated and more complex societies. Small family units, clans, tribes, villages, towns, cities, confederations of cities and towns, countries, empires all leading to a global government,

Insisting that "Scotland" is too small a unit to be viable while UKland is perfect an EUland is obnoxiously over-large is petty, insular, backwards and daft.

We should be creating a Greater 'Merca with the southern bits and Canada adding to the bit in the middle. We should be *expanding* the Yurpeen Confedarcy to include Russia and its satellites. We should be making Great Asia. Then we should be merging those three into a global Terran Empire instead of squabbling over petty, trivial little local matters.

One world, one government, one language, (though having a second tongue to use among your friends is fine), one currency. No borders. No passports, currency exchanges or other nonsense.

One policing force.

Local councils, yes, but tiny ones.

*That* is our future, not parochial twitterings like Brexit. Twelve millennia of History back me up.

New Horizons snaps finish buffering: Ultima Thule actually two dust bunnies that got snuggly 4.5 billion years ago


I'm rather unimaginative, I would have named them after me and the wife. Her cool bit being the smaller one, of course.

Or maybe her and the cat.


Re: Brilliant stuff!

So, assuming the craft survives long enough and ignoring the fingerprints, sweat, hair and dander left on the Voyagers and Pioneers, that would make Mr. T. the first human interstellar traveler.

Eventually and at least partially. Only several dozen millennia to exit the Oort cloud.

I wonder when we'll know where the fully fuel-depleted, freely falling little robot is going to end up?

New Horizons probe reveals Ultima Thule is huge, spinning... chicken drumstick?


"REX, the Radio Science Experiment"

"REX, the Radio Science Experiment"

Hmmmmm...... should that not be acronymed to "RSEX", pronounced as "arrrsex"?

Or even just as "RSE", roughly pronounced "arrrs"?

A few reasons why cops haven't immediately shot down London Gatwick airport drone menace


Re: They just need to make the penalty so outsized

"But I think previous research has shown it's not the size of the penalty that stops criminals; it's the risk of being caught. "

Perhaps add a transponder to all drones, one that uses low power so it doesn't impact on the battery much but has a digital code that the spies can pick up by way of their super-secret, ultra-sensitive gear. That way, UKGov could license Air Traffic Control to keep an eye on identifiable drones. Were one to stray near to restricted airspace, the owner could be instantly tracked and jailed.

It would be something like a car being tracked by A.N.P.R. and the registered keeper being responsible for that car's misdeeds.


"Let's face it, the only effective and safe solution is a shotgun on another drone."

Rock salt loads? Or something like a syrup gun? The sticky juice could be biodegradable so the tree-huggers couldn't whine. A water-spraying hose might work, too but I'm not certain Greenies know that water is eco-friendly.

Or napalm. Put a flamethrower on a helicopter (or, slightly safer, an unmanned drone) and it could take care of just about anything.

I would suggest using one of our nukes as the E.M.P. might kill the attacker drone even if the blast, heat and gamma didn't but that seems like slight overkill and I rather suspect that the locals would frown on this as a solution to such a minor irritant. Also, after a good nuking, Gatwick might need a new coat of paint.

Or a new Gatwick.

Privacy, security fears about ID cards? UK.gov's digital bod has one simple solution: 'Get over it'


And when the Nickies are fully integrated ...

"No, sir, you can not buy 20. Your Nickie (contemptuous term for National Identity Card) is telling my till that you bout 20 on Friday and are entitled to only one per day. Your next allotment is due in two weeks."

"No, Miss, you can't board this bus. I don't care how wet it is out there or how far from home you are. Your Nickie tells my ticket machine that it has expired. You need a new one. Or you need to correct the database by calling or visiting your local Council."

"No, Miss, you can't use this telephone kiosk to call home. It doesn't matter that your Telecoms Company has suspended your smartphone or that you're drenched. You need a valid Nickie to activate any telephone, anywhere so we can track calls for the public safety."

"No, Miss, you can't enter this Police Station (or Council Office, School, Unemployment Bureau or Library) without a valid Nickie. Honestly, Love, we've had these buggering things for a decade and more don't you kids learn *anything* at school?"

"No, Ma'am, we can't look for little Suzy. She's listed on our records as a non-valid entity so she is not a citizen which means she can never accrue credit in her national account to repay the cost of a Police Operation to search for her. and before you ask, no, we can't debit anyone else's accounts for work that would be done on her behalf. It just doesn't work that way ..."

"You don't have a valid Nickie? Hmmm. I have this friend who can provide you with a warm meal ..."

Well, that went quite dark fairly rapidly. I'm sure and certain the governments have no intention of *ever* linking our Nickies to vast databases that drive shopping, access to telephones and other goodies. Not *our* governments.

Why, that would mean they would have total control over everything we buy, say, eat, drink and do, everywhere we go and just about when we breathe. No government would ever want that.

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



" ... easy [SIC] with which the most common orbits can be filled with high velocity mines."

"High velocity mines" being clouds of grit, muck, dirt, rubble, rocks, steel scrap and odd-shaped rubbish collected from the spaceport kitchen bins all injected into "wrong-way" orbits so the closing velocities make the exact constitution of the "mines" rather moot.

Lift a few tons of debris laced with boomy stuff. Make it go boom to spread it about a bit. Several years of orbital region denial achieved. Maybe millennia if the badguys dirty-up the geosynchronous orbits.

It *IS* rocket science but fairly simple examples thereof.


Aggregated UKish System?

I know this is probably a naff idea full of holes but could UK-minus-NI-Scot-And-Wales-land not just provide its post-Brexit twenty-man Army with a receiver unit that takes calls from both Galileo and GPS and then aggregates or averages the locations provided to get a better, more precise location than either provides individually?

A unit that, if in furrin parts, also sucks up data from the Indian, Chinese and Whatnot satellites to provide location data down to the millimetre?

That way, we don't need new satellites, just new receivers. Receivers are easy and dirt cheap and processors are even cheaper.

Issue resolved for about a quid per unit?

Galileo's magnifico measurement: 1976 redshift test updated


Re: Erm - no compute!

"since gravity is a long-range force there is no point at which Earth's field is not felt."

Technically, there are such places, loads of them. Anywhere outside of a 4.6 milliard light-year wide sphere centered on Earth will not, yet, have felt the gravitational pull of the planet, merely that of a lot of bits and gases.

At about ten Millys, even the nebula that produced the Earth probably does not have a coherent effect as it, too, probably didn't exist that far back in time as a separate entity.

Space is big. Really, really big. You may think it's a long walk home from the pub on a wet Saturday morning but ...

Holy moley! The amp, kelvin and kilogram will never be the same again


Re: Le Grand K's fate

"Greengrocers won't suddenly sprout Kibble balances in the back rooms of their shops;"

No, not suddenly, but with a little more technological development it may be that carrying such a thing around in a pocket will be cheap and easy in ten years or so. Probably as part of a mobile computing and sensing device. We might even have a classy name for it ... "mobile phone", perhaps?


Re: Le Grand K's fate

Hmm, it won't work out that way.

After the fall of the Wizards, when the wars of lightning and magics kill the Great Cities, the remnant species that were once Humans will eke out short, crude, barbaric lives in the rubble, for a while, until they evolve into other species.. Eventually, erosion and tectonics will delete all trace of Man from the planet, whether Life exists on it or not.

There will never be any archeologists because no second wave of City Cultures can ever arise without cheap, easy to reach oil and coal to kick-start it and we've eaten all of those.

The Fall of The Cities is the end of technology, the end of the Dream of Stars, the end of any hope of a Human Galaxy.

There will be no one left to hear our songs or mourn our kings.

Haunted disk-drive? This story will give you the chills...


Re: Ghost in the machine

"If one dislikes one's roommate, one can happily street the nuisance. "

"When bored with the commonly disliked Windows Blue backgrounds, one can hack the Registry to quickly rainbow them."

In English almost any noun can be verbed.


Re: Put a heater in the safe then ?

Instant naughty thought: could that hole be used in conjunction with endoscopic tools to do laparoscopic manipulation of the lock's internals?

Or am I about five centuries too late with that notion?

You like HTTPS. We like HTTPS. Except when a quirk of TLS can smash someone's web privacy



I still have never understood why browsers were designed to identify themselves [ or their individual users ] in the first place.

When you buy petrol, the pump doesn't identify your car."

The pump doesn't need to know which car is been filled as all tanks and all petrol are identical on the human scale, more or less. All it need know is whether a full point has been reached and that is easy to test for. If you half-fill, go to a different garage, complete the filling-up the second pump uses an identical sensory technique to stop pouring in petrol. Neither pump knows nor cares where the petrol in your tank came from nor even if it is petrol. All they do is sense completeness and pour until they do.

Computer files, for example a web-page showing your bank account's latest actions, are not like that. Each is different and each is being supplied to a different computer.at your end. You don't want half of your bank's web page to end up on my machine and half on yours or half of the page shown to be part of a file download in Hungarian so every transaction between Out-There and your phone or PC needs to be tracked until it is completed.

If you have a method of making sure your track a connection for as long as it takes to download a page or to complete a session looking at YouTube videos then that can be used to track you forever.

All it takes is a clever programmer and the will.

For the Web, or even email, Usenet or FTP sessions to be in anyway useful, computers have to tell each other who they are while they talk to each other. If they don't, they can't.

Does that help?

Huge ice blades on Jupiter’s Europa will make it a right pain in the ASCII to land on


Not Clarke, more like a Hugh Walters book, "Journey to Jupiter".


Okay, so that one has the spiky bits set on a different moon and made of rock but he did have the "here be dragons" sentiment fairly well.

There's an entire series of these. Fun reads if you're not too fussy about what we now consider to be scientific accuracy.

NASA to celebrate 55th anniversary of first Moon landing by, er, deciding how to land humans on the Moon again


Re: How to land humans on the Moon again ...

"I bet there are not many original moon astronauts alive today. We are lucky Buzz Aldrin is still with us!"

The last time I was bothered to WikiP it there were something like seven out of the original 12. It would be quite easy to look it up again but I can't be arsed.

One thing I'm fairly sure of, there will never be a thirteenth. Indeed, I suspect that may be one reason for us never going back, that the Placate-The-Woo-Woo-Tribes supporters of diversity and multiculturalism couldn't figure out how to land anyone else without including The Horrible Unlucky Number so they avoided the issue by stopping at twelve.

Of course, they could have landed a pod with three doors and had three people step out simultaneously but there is probably something quantum that prevents this. Or maybe Special Relativity.

Somewhere, deep in Area 75, there is possibly a team of genii working tirelessly, as they have been since 1968, on how to avoid 13. Aided by acres of quantumised super-computers and borrowed alien tech from Areas 51 to 74, the international group struggles to overcome the simple facts of arithmetic to progress the manned space effort and initiate The Human Galaxy.

Their core task, finding a way to avoid 13, could be rendered moot were they to discover a method of eliminating the Woo-woos who are terrified of a number but *that* is politically impossible. And so, the sound of quiet, desperate weeping from Area 75 continues.

And there still is no plan for more lunar landings.


Re: How to land humans on the Moon again ...

" ... and when they say "moon", they actually mean Cruithne, ..."

Well, that would not be so bad a thing. Cruithne has dark skies, is a long way from Trumpet Town so is probably a nice quiet place to live and has few bickering neighbours so is probably a *safe* place to live.

Luna is far too close to Earth to ever be anything but Las Vegas II. For the Real Frontier one needs to get far, far away from both of those overused, noisy, dangerous, human-spoiled dumps.

Realistically, M33 is about minimum distance.

Drama as boffins claim to reach the Holy Grail of superconductivity


Re: Lies

"We all know the holy grail is made out of wood."

I thought the documentary by whozzisname insisted it was meat?


Re: Even if this were true

"You think copper theft is a problem, just wait!"

The positive aspect to a gold-based superconductor might be that the usable current density could be humongous. This would make it an instant Darwin Award for anyone trying to klep a live wire. Sort of like trying to steal copper from a live sub-station only vastly more so.

Our future infrastructure could be entirely safe from casual theft. This would be an advantage to the technology that I've yet to see publicly mentioned.


Re: As usual, incredible claims come from far away

A bit of helium and the odd atom of "metals" (Astronomer slang for "the rubbish that isn't hydrogen or helium", the stuff normal folk think of as The Periodic Table) were also not created in stars though at this late stage in the life of the cosmos it might be difficult to tell the stellar stuff from the primordial as they have been mixed for quite a while.

As a side note, quite a lot of the hydrogen that exists may not really be primordial, either. Loads of processes produce protons from larger collections of nucleons so much of it may have been rinsed through other nuclei over the aeons. How much is probably utterly unknowable.

It gets worse if by "primordial hydrogen" you insist that the atom should have kept both its proton and its very own electron to itself throughout the universe's multi-gigayear churning. By that definition, there may be *no* "primordial" stuff anywhere.

Or, like me, the cosmos might be full of it.


Re: It's dead, Jim, but not as we know it

"It is just short of the length it needs to be."

It could be that this is just about the long and the short of it.

A string is not "twice as long as the distance from the middle to one end", not always. Strings, according to the theories, vibrate in multiple axes. This makes their lengths at any instant in time indeterminate which leads to the knowledge that should one measure half of its length, the other half will have changed in all but the most unlikely points of the probability spaces. Technically, this would mean that you have the wrong "middle" but *any* middle on a loop of moving, morphing, multi-axially vibrating "stuff" would only be ephemeral anyway if it could be defined at all. Topologically, a string has no "middle" and, as it isn't often perfectly circular, spherical or other multi-dimensional analogue, most likely no "centre", either.

On the subject of quantum computing: on the only occasion when the experiment was actually tried, the cat was neither living nor dead. It was simply missing. It had decided that it was pissed off with being killed and not-killed all the time so it slipped away and left in its place a very confused dog.

Space, the final blunt-tier: Binary system ejected huge 'spliff' asteroid, boffins reckon


"As we have seen one interstellar asteroid then does logic not mean that there's more on the way?"

Welllllll.... we *are* approaching 2024 ......

"Moonfall", Jack McDevitt. A very good read.

Marriage of AI, Google chips will save diabetics from a lot of pricks


Re: sigh...

Strangely, my first thought on the "Google" aspect of this was not their friends in the advertising business, it was something vaguely like "... if you can radar glucose, then radarring other chemicals shouldn't be too difficult ... I wonder if the results could be mainlined to the cops and others 'for security and training purposes'"?

Universal, continuous tracking and reporting of everyone's consumption of booze and other chemicals would be a Very Good Thing would it not?

Just think of the CHILDREN it would save ..........

Four hydrogen + eight caesium clocks = one almost-proven Einstein theory


Re: Homeopathy placebo NOT ok

On the one hand, homeopathetic crystal magnetic ley-line aromaclaptrappy has *NEVER* been seen to cure a radical amputee. Say, a leg above the knee, an arm above the elbow, a severed spine, an eye or an entire head.)

On the other hand, Real Sciencey Medicine has never been seen to cure a radical amputee.

On the gripping hand, Real Sciencey Medicine has seen salamanders and starfish fix themselves when large chunks have been removed from those animals. RSM has told us that humans are not too different from salamanders and starfish so it is entirely possible, though unlikely that some humans have been born sufficiently broken by genetic accidents as to have the ability to regenerate lost limbs, only no person with this ability has ever lost one so we've just never encountered it happening. How possible and how unlikely this is is best left for statisticians. It is a truth that a majority of people never lose anything much so testing the regenerative powers of most might never happen in their entire lives.

On the imaginary hand, Real Sciencey Medicine does hold out the hope that it can someday graft the salamander's healing abilities onto people, or switch it on if humans already have it in a suppressed form. This is not buck-rogers SF, it is real Science and people are working on it.

Homeo-aroma-crystals hold out no such hope and never can.

There is no possible research path from the current crop of pretend "cures" of acupunky magnetic diluted water robbery to regenerating a limb, eye, spine or anything else but RSM does have paths towards such dreams.

So far as is known, a placebo has never helped anyone regenerate damaged tissue better than the natural powers of humans to heal. Modern medicine might, someday, do so.

Science is hope. Science is True Hope.

Dawn spacecraft to get up-close and personal with dwarf planet Ceres


Re: Optionally

" ... We can promote it to the 9th planet... just to REALLY mess things up. ;) "

Counting Earth's Luna as the fourth, Ceres would be the Fifth World. That would make Pluto "Planet Ten", or "Planet X" for at least two different reasons.

Yes, I know both Ceres and Pluto have little sisters but we can conveniently ignore those as " and assorted detritus" just to keep the joke going.

No one ever said Science had to be entirely humourless.


"... ten times closer ..."?

How many smallness units are in the original orbit? Twelve micro-bananas?

Yes, I also hate "five times colder" and "sixty times darker".

Ceres is (at a very poor guess) 164 million miles from here (at that range, "here" is approximately the entire Earth, possibly including some of Texas). Dawn is 164 million miles closer to Ceres than Earth is. Or more, depending on where each world is in its orbit.

To be "ten times closer", Dawn would need to be one thousand, six hundred and forty million miles closer to Ceres than Earth is.

That makes no damned sense at all.

And it's a lot on the banana scale of measurement.

Why not use the perfectly sensible "... one tenth as far from ..." or something similar?

[The Alien because I never really understood how one could see 2C as five times colder than 10C.]

Kill the blockchain! It'll make you fitter in the long run, honest


Re: What on earth...



Re: AI lifts?

Where are all these happy vertical people? Many people I meet are happiest when horizontal.

Who will fix our Internal Banking Mess? TSB hires IBM amid online banking woes


Re: I pity the poor schmoes working on this.

"Even if the problem was caused by management ignoring advice from techies, it'll still be the techies fault ... somehow."

Space Shuttle. O-rings.

You'd think those who don't know how things work would have seen that one as a Really Big Wake-Up and would now be paying attention to those who do Know Things.

Or am I expecting too much from Admin and Management Plonks?

BOFH: Guys? Guys? We need blockchain... can you install blockchain?


Re: Published at 08:36

"I'm still trying to work out what happened to the first mouse ..."

I spy with my little eye ... a quantum drum with TRILLIONS of atoms


Re: Now I'm hungry ;)

Hmm, not good.

Very, very not good.

The Company would expect you to entangle your home device in such a way that The Company kit would be powered by *your* electricity bill. It's your lunch, so you should pay to heat it.

Next year: entangling your water bill for your lunch-time cuppa. Maybe even heating and cooling the office with entangled household current. It would make sense as it would be *you* the environmental conditioning would be helping, not The Company.

Boffins find sign of water existing deep into Earth's mantle by looking at diamonds


Re: Isotopes

It's a vague idea but could this be the basis for a natural-versus-man-made diamond test? Isotopic analysis of the impurities, I mean.

Maybe some bright spark could mention it to de Beers? Just in the interest of keeping stability in the market, of course.


Re: The Flood

"Flood", Stephen Baxter.


Re: Non standard oddball unit "miles"

If someone told me the distance to the next town in any unit, I wouldn't care as I'm never going to go there.

Not again.


Re: Non standard oddball unit "miles"

"What about double decker buses and brontosaurii?"

I thought the Old-skeleton Scientists renamed those because we non-members-of-their-club kept making jokes and puns about the sisters?

FYI: There's a cop tool called GrayKey that force unlocks iPhones. Let's hope it doesn't fall into the wrong hands!


The answer to this problem is obvious: don't carry "smart" phones. Indeed, never carry anything outside your home that has any personal data on it whatsoever.

A very, very dumb mobile phone with a limited directory function is probably safe-ish as that is not really a much greater security risk than any other subset of the generally available Phone Book.

Carrying a music-player, ebook reader with Project Gutenberg-like titles only or a video player with no Internet link, all for entertainment while travelling, should also be fairly safe. Mostly.

Fermi famously asked: 'Where is everybody?' Probably dead, says renewed Drake equation


Re: Not useful

"If we all lived like the Amish, most Reg readers would be unemployed."

I wouldn't be. Without modern tech, I'd have died decades ago.


Re: Not useful

Human "civilisation" has greatly moved to low-energy digital msignals and away from the megawatt giant antennae of the previous Century.

One would expect any non-wasteful civilisation to do something similar fairly soon after discovering radio. So they would go quiet even if they survived forever.


Re: Not useful

Why would anyone beam a transmission? Obviously, a software update to their auto-Rama which just happens to be roughly in line of sight to the Earth for a few seconds.

"Wow!" signal neatly explained.

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


Battery depots. Charging stations with a few score batteries each, so the load is spread across substations. Make the battery packs easily swappable and interchangeable so a vehicle can see it is low, go to a depot and swap out a depleted pack for a charged one.

Super-fast recharging, spreading the load and the cheapness of mass-production, standardisation and economies of scale.

It's a pity hot-swap battery packs will never catch on.

A Hughes failure: Flat Earther rocketeer can't get it up yet again


Re: Although...

<quote>Alternatively he could just say that he went half mile up and the Earth is flat as a pancake. Then ask for more money to go even further to confirm this. Rinse, repeat. </quote>

This sounds like a very good ploy for getting the gullible and the stupid, who outnumber the wise and wonderful, to pay for flights to Mars.

"We just need some more funding for the RTG's, the glasshouses and the Lunar Farside telescopes and we'll *finally* outwit the lying NASA/JPL/NSA bastards. Send donations to SpaceX at ..."

Why did I buy a gadget I know I'll never use?



I rarely eat greenery. My wife did, for special meals, put a couple of sprouts on my plate but they were raw. It was they only way I'd eat them.

She also added a single mushroom just so I didn't feel left out.

Now, I get my "greens" from the syrup in the alleged flavour packets of pot noodles.

In my "this could be useful" collection, I have a back-up tape device. It uses a serial port of a type no modern computer has and the tapes can store, zipped, eighty megabytes of data each. I bought it for a PC with a 250 MB HDD but before I could install it I got a 3 GB drive.

I now have a 3 TB drive.

I doubt I'll use the tape machine for full back-ups.

Brit transport pundit Christian Wolmar on why the driverless car is on a 'road to nowhere'


Re: They will never work in an urban environment.

"..... whereas holding up a robot car would be like swearing at the self-service till in Tescos; everyone does it, nobody feels bad about it."

I don't, ever, and I would were I to.

I know machines are far, far less sentient that fleas, sheep or politicians but I always say "thank you" to ATM's and other robots doing me a service.

I've even been known to thank the washy machine and my microwave.

Being nice to a robot car would only be an extension of my normal politeness.

I'm polite to cats, moths, dogs and many humans, too.

UK's NHS to pilot 'Airbnb'-style care service in homeowners' spare rooms


Re: Something needs to be done

"A well-established principle - see Logan's Run"

"Pebble in the Sky" by Isaac Asimov is a better treatment of the issue. And a better novel.


Re: I have a cunning business plan.

Jimmy Saviles by the bucket load?

Equifax: About those 400,000 UK records we lost? It's now 15.2M. Yes, M for MEELLLION


"Mum? Hi, yes, listen, I need you to change your maiden name to something different..."

In my case this would be an interesting conversation as she's been dead for quite a while.

But I've always lied about that particular piece of data, anyway, and never the same lie to different data-slurpers. My mum has *lots* of "maiden names".

I wonder whether that makes me part of the "duplicates" the Equifax kleptos talk about?


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