* Posts by phy445

66 posts • joined 29 Apr 2013


'We're changing shift, and no one can log on!' It was at this moment our hero knew server-lugging chap had screwed up


Not so much a "Who, me?" as a "Who, you?"

See title

Elevating cost-cutting to a whole new level with million-dollar bar bills


Re: Cars of the day... with good old steel bumpers and side panels

Yes, but in those days a lot more people were killed / seriously injured in car accidents. Those crumpling effects are deliberate – they take a lot of energy out of the collisions. For an IT angle they take a lot of computer power to work out how to do.

Disk stuck in the drive? Don't dilly-Dali – get IT on the case!


At the higher education where I spent the early nineties nearly all of the Macs (SE/30s and the like) had neat craters a couple of centimetres in diameter burnt into their tops. It took me a while to realise that these were not some eccentric security marking - rather they were caused by angle-poise lamps sagging down so that the hot bulbs touched the cases of the computers...

Hey, fatso. If you're standing desk-curious, the VariDesk Pro Plus won't break the bank


Had one and hated it

I had one of those for a while – the main issue for me was that even light typing would cause a slight wobble of the monitor and it was just too distracting. I stuck with it for a couple of months but could not get used to it. In the the end I spent about £500 on a standing desk with a motor to do the lifting. This is much better – some colleagues have a manual raise version, but they struggle with the raising unless the weight is evenly distributed on the desk.

The advice on getting a standing mat is good. Until you are used to it, even standing on a carpeted floor is hard work.

Tearoff of Nottingham: University to lose chunk of IT dept to outsourcing


What could possibly go wrong?

Reaches for pop-corn...

Our hero returns home £500 richer thanks to senior dev's appalling security hygiene


Low quality coding

I had to write some quick and dirty, single use (after debugging), code that needed login credentials recently – I couldn't bring myself to hardwire in said credentials. You have to wonder what other corners were cut and whether poor quality code contributed to the downfall of the company...

The best way to screw the competition? Do what they can't, in a fraction of the time



The first (and I think last) time I came across 10Base5 cable (the 0.5 inch coax) was in the mid-90's at a university that had committed to 10Base2 (the thin coax). In one physics lab a networked computer needed to be installed at the other side of the room from the 10B2 port and the total length of that 10B2 line was at the limit of the specification. The solution was a 10B2 to 10B5 converter then about 5m of the over-size coax to the AUI port on the computer.

Shortly after I arrived we rearranged the lab so the the computer was next to the 10B2 junction, but we had to carefully coil the thick coax as there was a multi-month lead time on cable changes. Not too much later 10BT came in and all was well with the world.

With sorry Soyuz stuffed, who's going to run NASA's space station taxi service now?


+1 for heating due to compressing gas.

Good to see the right explanation for a change–not all university courses, let alone option pieces get it right.

The Register's 2018 homepage redesign: What's going on now?


Desktop front-page should be three stories wide

The front page view appears to default to being four stories/boxes wide. I think this is slightly too wide to take in at one glance–especially if you prefer larger typeface sizes. Its a bit like the wide margins in LaTeX documents are disconcerting to someone used to Word documents, but once you get used to it, it is easier(quicker) to read as the eyes do not have to move back and forth as much.

The tech you're reading these words on – you have two Dundee uni boffins to thank for that


Re: TFT patent?

Prior art. There were plenty of TFT papers published in the sixties.

The real breakthrough with this work was getting the amorphous silicon to perform well enough. The older TFT designs used materials like Cadmium Selenide as the semiconductor.

Sysadmin’s worst client was … his mother! Until his sister called for help


Re: Retro computing...

Given that venerable means worthy of respect, I'm guessing that you missed the <irony></irony> tags off your post.

I seem to recall the plus 4 was often referred to as the minus 60...

We sent a vulture to find the relaunched Atari box – and all he got was this lousy baseball cap


Reliable Atari

It’s good to know the Atari brand has retained its air of incompetence that characterised it’s fall from grace in previous incarnations.

Office junior had one job: Tearing perforated bits off tractor-feed dot matrix printer paper


Re: My foreign body story

When I worked at certain UK academic institution – which had probably better remain nameless, but it is in a city that fancies that its northern (but isn't really) and there is currently a bit of an issue with trees – there was a cupboard full of those cards. The technicians used to like them because they fitted nicely in lab-coat and overall pockets and were just the thing to jot down measurements etc on.

SurfaceBook 2 battery drains even when plugged in


Re: Remember back when Apple did the same thing?

I don't recall their power supplies failing to deliver enough juice. I do recall that the wiring in some of the connectors would eventually fail due to the strain generated when unplugging them. I don't think that is the same magnitude of problem as this one.

Full disclosure: I have multiple laptops at home, both Apple and several Wintel variants. In the last ten years one Apple power supply has gone TITSUP, I've lost track of the number of repairs and replacements for the windows machines' power bricks (the ThinkPad being the worst).

Microsoft says Win 8/10's weak randomisation is 'working as intended'


Nothing to do with article but...

The google ad in the right hand column where there is usually some IT related ad or a link to a wallet that will change my life currently shows a lady in a swim suit and is mildly distracting. Is this a side effect of blocking cross-site tracking or google's AI mocking me in some way?

The NAKED truth: Why flashing us your nude pics is a good idea – by Facebook's safety boss


Re: Why does FB have to do the hashing?

If that is the argument then I don't think it is correct.

An app that creates the hash then sends it in encrypted form to FB etc. would stop miscreants playing with the hash in the way described. Besides, as many comments have pointed out it doesn't take much to change a photo so that the hash has changed sufficiently.


Why does FB have to do the hashing?

I agree with the comments about the hashing being easy to get round, however the process is a step in right direction.

What I can't see is why the hashing has to be done by FB. Surely someone can create an App the creates the PhotoDNA hashes and uploads those to the system? Of course a checking or appeal mechanism will still be required, but there is no need to "trust" your images to FB, Google, MS, etc.

F-35s grounded by spares shortage


Re: About the proportion that are grounded



About the proportion that are grounded

From the report "That 22 per cent represents only the average number of aircraft grounded by a lack of spares, so the total proportion of the fleet that can't fly at any given time is almost certainly higher."


I'm pretty sure that by definition there is only a fifty-fifty chance the actual proportion that can't fly is higher than 22%.


ps why aren't the comments rendering the <pendantic> html?

Snopes.com asks for bailout amid dispute over who runs the site and collects ad dollars


Fact checked?

Is this true? Has anybody checked on Snopes? Oh wait...

CERN ready to test an even bigger gun


Attempt at pedant of the day award

Its linac not lineac.


Start material

I'm pretty sure both linac 2 & 4 start with neutral hydrogen as the input. The first stage in linac 4 converts the hydrogen into h- ions. The equivalent step in linac 2 strips the electrons away to yield protons. The former is a slightly more complicated process and warrants its own block in diagrams of the system.

Murder in space: NASA orders astronauts to KILL cripples – then fire bodies back to Earth


+1 for adiabatic heating

Well done to El Reg for stating that the re-entry heat is generated by compressing the air ahead of the capsule rather than friction as is so often stated in articles on space travel/science.

President Trump tweets from insecure Android, security boffins roll eyes


Re: Trump doesn't tweet

Did you read the story?

"The angry late-night tweets came from an Android phone, leading data analysts to conclude that they came from Trump himself. "

Stallman's Free Software Foundation says we need a free phone OS


Re: Sadly yes

Because VLMC exists?

Now that's a Blue Screen of Death: Windows 10 told me to jump off a cliff


Pedantic geography point

The Cliffs of Moher are somewhat to the south of Galway Bay making the leap even bigger than implied by the story.

Autocomplete a novel phishing hole for Chrome, Safari crims


Is this story from the guardian?

"...enetered, but was still suspetible."

Pro who killed Apple's Power Mac found... masquerading as a coffee table


tougher than it looks

IIRC the motherboard in the Mac Pro is a weird size and you struggle to get a PC in there (that lines up with the slots on the back etc). Also, in a move completely out of character for Apple, the PSU block in those beasts is nearly, but not quite, standard. So you will have to find a way round that as well.

Apple assumes you'll toss the Watch after three years


Use vs last

I realise that the headline wouldn't be so eye catching, but doesn't that quote from Apple's document actually say that they expect first owners to use/keep their devices for three years, implying that they may well then go into the second hand market?

Not sure why, but the second hand market for Apple products is incredibly strong.

Three to chop off £3bn of its network in bid to woo EU over O2 merger


That pledge on prices...

They may not be putting up prices after the merger, but they have just tried to increase my bill by just shy of 40% by dropping the deal I was on.

Needless to say I went to the inter-webs, found a deal that gave more data for the old price, and dumped Three.

Boeing just about gives up on the 747


Boeing don't seem to get cabin noise. Their machines are so much noisier than the Airbus equivalents. For me the noise is one of the worst aspects of long haul flying.

Einstein's brain to be picked by satellites


Re: Totes respeck to AE

Indeed he was pretty good at maths, but I understand that the hard work in getting the maths for general relativity sorted was done by Mrs Einstein (insert comment about equality here)


Re: Improved GPS accuracy?

For once I haven't been to the cited article to check things, but I think this is more about the science than any improvements to GPS.

There is a lot of interest in test General Relativity to its limits. Over the years "boffins" (in Reg speak) have produced lots of little refinements to GR that predict pretty much the same results as Albert, but with subtle (hard to measure) differences. Which, if any, of these more sophisticated models is right is interesting science wise. I doubt that the real world impact will be that great because wobbles in satellite orbits and other factors will mask these very minor corrections-if they didn't then we'd be able to measure them already using the GPS system.

Yay, more 'STEM' grads! You're using your maths degree to do ... what?



I know its an opinion article, but its probably the worst thing to appear on El Reg for a long, long time.

Seemingly based on nothing but an anecdote about an astronomy conference the author appears to have decreed that STEM is a waste of time. Never mind the irony of writing about this on an IT site–I did start writing a list of things that STEM contributes to in the IT field, but its too long so I decided to write a list of the aspects of IT that don't have a STEM aspect – its on the next line:

Alumina in glass could stop smartphones cracking up


It may be stiff enough (snigger)...

But how tough is it? Glass is more than strong enough. The problem is dissipating the energy that gets dumped into the glass when your phone hits the floor (or dog bites it etc.) The paper linked in the report makes no mention of toughness. I suspect this story has been stretched to its limits by a university press office that cares more for getting more inches (more sniggering) in the press than reasonable reporting – an increasingly common problem as universities around the world have to fight for recognition/funding

Old, not obsolete: IBM takes Linux mainframes back to the future


Re: Just One Moment...

I believe things go wrong with endianness of code when you get involved in casting types in C and its derivatives. The details are obscure and dull – I once looked it up, but is has pretty much fallen out of my head now.

That sort of coding always leads to trouble anyway, so stick to F77 is my advice.

Connected kettles boil over, spill Wi-Fi passwords over London


No need for this tech?

To all the naysayers-think about how we mock the IBM(?) expert who predicted a need for no more than five computers! Who are we to mock the prospect of a future where kettles can be switched on remotely? Although we don't realise it yet, this could be one of those paradigm shifting moments that moves humanity to a higher plane of reality-or not-this is remarkably like the over automated tech that made early 2000AD comics so much fun.

Tear teardown down, roars Apple: iFixit app yanked from store


Re: Information wants to be free!

I agree with the need to free information wherever possible, but not sure about the biblical reference. IIRC the original company logo was based on an apple falling on Newton's head. They then went over to the silhouette apple and the bite was taken out to stop it being confused with a cherry.

NEW ERA for HUMANITY? NASA says something 'major' FOUND ON MARS



Perhaps they have found that man hole cover that was filmed being blown space wards in an underground nuke test?

Michigan sues HP after 'botched' $49m upgrade leaves US state in 1960s mainframe hell


Re: Same old, same old

Are flares not cool anymore? When did this happen?

Boffins build magnetic field cloak 'wormhole', could help MRI scanners


Did you read the paper?

They present pictures of the device in the supplementary information–it looks like a classic MacGyver build, lots of gaffer tape etc. There is measured data in the main paper and in the supplementary info.

They use a superconductor that works at liquid nitrogen temperatures. Not a problem for the MRI bods as their machines work with the way colder liquid helium.

Whether something is meta or not depends on the wavelength/frequency you are working at. For MRI its fairly easy.

EasyGroup continues bizarre, time-travelling domain crusade


If memory serves Chipzilla used send their cold blooded bottom feeders out to get anybody who tried to market anything with a vaguely Latinate name on the grounds that it might be confused with Pentium. Happy days!

Radiohead(ache): BBC wants dead duck tech in sexy new mobes


Dead ducks

To describe DAB as Dead Duck tech is a diservice to dead ducks.

Three UK fined £250,000 for customer complaints cockup


Re: More fool you

And you get tethering-a lot of the other telcos do not allow this.

Rare HPC beauties unveiled: Quivering racks, Lustre clusters and the tiers of a Cray


Don't knock water

Water is surprisingly useful stuff. For "science" reasons its rather good at taking heat away from from objects–try sleeping on a water-bed without a heater. There are other fluids that could be used, but very few would take away anyway near the heat that water can without seriously upgrading the flow rate.

Lost treasure of Atari REVEALED


Apple Lisa next?

If memory serves Apple buried thousands of Lisas back in the eighties. I wonder if there will be an attempt to get at these?

The other end of the telescope: Intel’s Galileo developer board


Re: Review or plug for intel?

That's good to hear–thanks for the update.


Review or plug for intel?

The article begins with the word "Review", but there is precious little evidence of this. Did the reviewer actually try to use this board or has all the information been extracted from sales literature and online articles?

The Arduino platform is about doing things. I'd like to know how this board measures up when it comes to interfacing with the real world before I part with this amount of cash. I can get a lot of Arduino Uno clones for the cost of this board.

Tech titan Bill Gates: Polio-free India one of the 'most impressive accomplishments' ever


The Gates Foundation

Declaration of interests: Some of my research is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation-on the water side rather than the vaccination side

Top marks to the anti polio team at the foundation and the other NGOs that have made this possible. Hopefully this will help improve trust in the places where it is proving difficult to get the vaccination programmes going.

I also hope that some of the commentards above will take the trouble to find out about the work of the foundation. Once they have done that then hopefully they will find out a bit about population growth which is currently been driven by better health care which means that we have more over fifties than ever before, not by the birth rate (which on average is about two children per family)



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