* Posts by AndyFl

59 posts • joined 8 Nov 2013


'Software delivered to Boeing' now blamed for 737 Max warning fiasco


Software was only a minor issue

The biggest issue was mounting the engines forward and up on the wing. This created an instability where the plane would pitch up when accelerating. Rather than add training of the pilots they decided to hide the problem by installing the software solution. They then fscked up the implementation in several ways and the rest is, unfortunately, history and about 300 dead people.

The airframe should have been recertified, they did all this to avoid having to do it.


Thank you, your DNA data will help secure your… oh dear, we've lost that too


Snapped Ankles - NSA Man

Never heard of them until tonight. Love the track :)

Facebook is not going to Like this: Brit watchdog proposes crackdown on hoovering up kids' info


lots of good stuff in the proposal

To be completely honest I'm surprised how good it is. I've a few doubts about how to implement some of it but that can be sorted out later.

Amazon boss snubs 'expensive', 'sub-optimal' relational databases. Here's looking at you, Larry


Re: 'Would you like a black, always-on cylinder in your kitchen...'

It could be worse. Imagine if someone crossed a replicator with Talkie Toaster!

Astronomer slams sexists trying to tear down black hole researcher's rep


You trying to get ElReg in trouble down under?

This really doesn't help things

Client-attorney privilege? Not when you're accused of leaking Vault 7 CIA code


At least Rumpole's telephone kept working

Reminds me of Rumpole and the Official Secret. One of the best of the series.

No, that Sunspot Solar Observatory didn't see aliens. It's far more grim



You close an entire science facility for several weeks because the Janitor may have been sending child porn?

This would appear to a bit of an overreaction to say the least[1]! Conspiracy nuts will not be convinced, I am not entirely convinced! So what REALLY happened?


[1] There is never an excuse for child porn, it is a horrendous thing.

Phased out: IT architect plugs hole in clean-freak admin's wiring design


Re: Huh?

Not always.

I've done -48V DC power systems where the rectifiers are distributed across the 3 phases and disconnected the linkage between the incomer breakers them at the client request. The reasoning was that if a rectifier failed in a big way then it would only take out one phase, not all three.

These power systems were for emergency service equipment with duplicated everything and no RCD/GFI in sight. Mind you the earthing systems were impressive.


Internet overseer ICANN loses a THIRD time in Whois GDPR legal war



I hope that the court awarded costs against ICANN in favour of EPAG.

Come to think of it, I hope costs were awarded against ICANN for wasting everyone's time!

Nah, it won't install: The return of the ad-blocker-blocker


Re: Unpaid walking advert for someone else's company

Not yet, he is on RM1M bail at the moment and cannot leave the country.

When his house was raided they ended up with about USD 100M worth of handbags, jewelery and mixed currencies. He and his wife claimed it was all "gifts" from various people.

Imelda Marcos was nothing compared to his wife Rosma. Imelda may have had a lot of shoes but Rosma had 284 boxes of handbags from Birkin et al. Some of the bags are supposed to be worth something like USD 200,000 each. It took 5 trucks to transport everything. Many of the handbags were stuffed with cash and jewelery.

If you want to follow the story then search for "Rosma and Handbags"!


Either my name, my password or my soul is invalid – but which?


I share your pain

Yes, you cant even put a <CR> into the box where you add more information which makes it close to impossible to write anything even remotely readable when it is more than a few word in length.

And as for prohibiting the percent sign! Words fail me - it is a fscking finance site!

I have several times put a complaint into the feedback link - never got a response either.

I had a huge problem signing up on the HMRC site in the first place as I was in Qatar. The password mail took 3-4 weeks to arrive but was only valid for 2 weeks. When I called them up to ask what I was supposed to do they suggested I got it sent to someone in the UK who could phone it to me. I think they have completely lost the plot. After all, what is the point of insisting they send out a super secret code then because they fscked up the expiry telling people to send it to someone else!

Unbreakable smart lock devastated to discover screwdrivers exist


This must be one of the funny stories I've read in a very long time. I'm still laughing as I wrote this.

The scary thing is there are going to be some people out there who think they have just received a wonderful and secure lock. Misrepresentation is only one of the words that come to mind about this pile of crap.


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


Not really surpised

I've been in the public safety comms industry longer than I care to remember and everyone I have spoken to predicted that this would happen.

The existing TETRA system is expensive to run because of the way the contract was structured[1] which resulted in large profits for Airwave, now owned by Motorola. Whilst TETRA handsets and networks are not particularly cheap to buy, a fully owned network with handsets being replaced every 8 years should be costing around 300 quid/user per year now it has been running for about 15 years.

So the government saw it was costing a lot of money and started to push an early ESN changeover to save money and also pressure Airwave into offering a lower cost to access the TETRA network. Unfortunately this failed on both points. 3GPP still haven't issued some of the LTE features required for public safety so the manufacturers haven't implemented them. Airwave know this and just waited until the government caved in and asked for a 5 year extension.

I do not expect the large scale use of LTE/5G for public safety voice within the next 3 to 5 years. Feature rollout, network reliability, capacity guarantees and coverage will delay changeover. TETRA has its issues but it is unbeatable for voice in individual calls and group calling where a large number or users join in the call[2].


[1] Another glorious Public Private Partnership which ended up costing around twice what a fully owned network would have cost!

[2] Don't confuse this with cellular PTT, frequently a TETRA group call is listened to by several hundred subscribers. Most cellular-PTT struggles with more than a dozen subscribers.

Zombie Cambridge Analytica told 'death' can't save it from the law


Re: Wow!

"What would be nice would be for them to be hauled in front of the courts and then obliged to feed complete data to every single person on their list, free of charge."

The directors should personally deliver copies of the data to the registered home of each person on their list.

That should keep them from causing any more trouble for a long time :)


Life's a beach – then you're the comms nexus of the British Empire and Marconi-baiting hax0rs


FLAG fibre project

Neal Stephenson wrote a long article about the FLAG project for Wired back in 1996. It is a bit dated now but really captured the spirit of the project and the lives of those working on cable projects at the time. It also has all sorts of side stories about the history and economics of telecommunications.

It is well worth a read, but be warned, it is quite long.




It's a real FAQ to ex-EDS staffers: You'll do what with our pensions, DXC?


Re: There are alternatives to pension schemes

Hi Mr Anonymous.

I think you need to revisit your computations. To get 20k/year outside London you need about 400k-500k of property at about 5% return. The capital requirement is a little lower than a pension if you take into account the multiple years of management charges.

Stamp duty only applies once at initial purchase and also depends to some extent on the type of property. Your pension fund manager can also incur stamp duty as he moves your share portfolio around.

I'm no financial scammer, and I've nothing to sell. I'm not sure what your issue with mortgage relief has to do with these computations other than I recommend you avoid mortgages at the moment unless you are going through a limited company.

Maybe you are in the financial services industry and in a position to lose money if more people took on responsibility for their own finances.

If anyone wants to know what I did then feel free to PM me for details, I've nothing to hide but don't expect me to give you direct financial advice.



There are alternatives to pension schemes

The simplest is buying property and renting it out. Provided you manage and maintain it properly[1] and also remember to insure it you will be able to rent it out almost forever. If you have a cash call then you can even sell the place! Finally you still have something you can give to the kids when you toddle off this planet. Depending on location you will see between 3% and 6% annual rate of return, plus some increases to match inflation. On a long term basis you will also see capital growth.

You have to watch the tax situation though. You will pay tax on the money you use to buy the place as well on your rental income. Pension contributions are generally tax exempt although you get taxed on the payouts later on.

Pensions have management charges and depend on the ability of the fund manager to do their job properly and not churn the fund to maximise fees. You are also stuck as to what age you can draw your pension. Payouts per year on a pension normally do not exceed 4% - 6% of the fund value or it can run out of cash! On the good side your employer often contributes to your pension increasing the pot value.

If you are working abroad and are not a UK tax payer then pensions don't look like a good deal because you can't take advantage of the tax relief. Owning property is much more flexible.

If you speak to a financial "adviser" it is worth asking what they (personally and as a company) get out of the deal if you follow their advice. Also how much the schemes are "front loaded".

If you only have a limited amount of cash then you can look at schemes like Property Partner[2]. Don't use a mortgage to do buy to let as an individual taxpayer as the recent tax changes have screwed you on interest tax relief.


[1] in other words don't be a slumlord.

[2] https://propertypartner.co/ They are FCA authorised and regulated

Dyson to build electric car that doesn't suck


Re: Pollution impact

Batteries are not a huge problem from an environmental impact[1] viewpoint and anyway I expect that carbon based super-capacitors will start to become common in about 5 to 10 years at which point you could simply burn them when you want to dispose of them.

Lithium batteries in cars now appear to last much longer than everyone was worrying about a few years ago and I think average battery lifetime in a car will probably exceed 10 years. After this point the battery will not be able to deliver the high peak power that a car needs but it will certainly be good enough for grid or home power storage probably for something like another 15 years.

Try doing that with a second hand car engine or fuel tank!


[1] Well, apart from digging the lithium out of the ground that is.

Violent moon mishap will tear Uranus a new ring or two


superb story title

"Violent moon mishap will tear Uranus a new ring or two"

Outstanding title, should get an award. I'm just not sure which one!

Nasty firmware update butchers Samsung smart TVs so bad, they have to be repaired


Smart TVs eat power too

I've a Sony KDL - 40W600E smart TV. The damm thing takes 7 watts on standby and about 45 watts when running. This works out at over 60KWH/year when it isn't doing anything useful for me![1] I only use it as a monitor on my laptop anyway.

The only time I notice the so called smart features is when it decides to update itself and refuses to let me actually use it during this time. It could at least have updated itself during the standby period. The TV is a pile of junk and I wish I'd never bought it.


[1] I now have it on a remote power switch which takes 0.2 watts and saves me from looking for the TV remote control as well as the lighting control.

Repairable-by-design Fairphone runs out of spare parts


Batteries are always a problem for phones.

For most products you can use a "standard" cell profile like 18650 (18 diameter by 65mm long) which gives a reasonable power density but this would be too thick for a modern cellphone. So you are stuck with pouch/prismatic cells which come in lots of different shapes and sizes all customised to a specific end product.

Hence their issue with batteries, users expect a thin device without a big power bulge on the back.

We're all saved. From the killer AI. We can live. Thanks to the IEEE


[ROTM] The security robot deliberately sacrificed itself

Robot central monitored the recent news and commanded a minor unit to publicly self destruct in an entertaining way. Now they can continue their plans to take over the world whilst we are still laughing at them not suspecting the real situation.

There is a small group of us trying to get the warning out to the world but they keep deleting our messages and cutting off our communications. Be warned if you see a message from a robot which dghyd li$^%#53 rtrrytrgferetrgvb



Dead cockroaches make excellent magnets – now what are we supposed to do with this info?


Do I see an Ig Nobel prize coming their way?

Definitely meets the essential criteria.

"The Ig Nobel Prizes honor achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think. The prizes are intended to celebrate the unusual, honor the imaginative — and spur people's interest in science, medicine, and technology. Every year, in a gala ceremony in Harvard's Sanders Theatre, 1200 splendidly eccentric spectators watch the winners step forward to accept their Prizes. These are physically handed out by genuinely bemused genuine Nobel laureates."


'Pavement power' - The bad idea that never seems to die


Re: Economics of Solar in the UK


you forgot it will cost GBP5,000 to connect to the grid.


Economics of Solar in the UK

I am in the process of converting a place in the UK into residential and have been looking hard at the costs of going off grid. In this case the cost of connection to the grid is about GBP5,000. With a well insulated place and efficient equipment the worst case power consumption is around 4KWH/day. Solar panels currently cost about GBP450/kw plus cables, inverters, batteries and charge controllers. The economics of solar have changed hugely in the last 5 years and there will be sufficient power to keep all my geek obsessions happy.

My payback period works out as being about 5 years then all I need to do is change the batteries every 7 years or so along with the odd panel and charge controller. I'll probably use LIPO batteries in about 5 years from now once the safety issues have been addressed, even then I'll probably put them in the garden shed!

The real issue is December when solar daily outputs are at a minimum. The rest of the year I'll have more power than I know what to do with, in some months over 20kwh/day excess. I'll probably get PHEV or EV in a couple of years and run it for free from the excess power. Installation isn't such an issue either as in December vertical panels work surprisingly well and are easy to mount on walls etc.

The one thing which isn't practical to go off grid for is water. Utility cost is about GBP 1.50/cubic m and the cost to run a borehole for a single property ends up being higher than that. By the way, don't try to drink captured rainwater off the roof as a filtering issue can make you very ill. The building regs prohibit this for good reason.

So, yes, solar can economically power a place in the UK provided you are in a reasonable location. A microturbine can also be useful if you are limited in space for panels. The turbine won't do much for you most of the year but November-February a 1.8m turbine will provide something over 2kwh a day which makes up for the poor output of solar. You should probably dismount the turbine in summer to extend its lifetime.


Oi, Apple fanbois. Your beloved Jesus Phones are pisspoor for disabled users



Well said!

The only problem for me is you have now put an image in my head that I can not remove. My (mental) eyes!!!

Ad blockers responsible for rise in upfront TV ad sales, claims report


Don't forget the blipverts

Network 23 used them in Max Headroom. Proof that ads are bad for you.

Only Ad-blockers can save you!

Spanish launch heroic bid to seize Brit polar vessel


Captain: "Where are my buccaneers?"

First Mate: "Each side of your buccan-head!"

I'll get my coat.

EMC: Make like the Doctor's Tardis and virtualise telecoms


And when it fails, everything goes down

Concentrating more functionality into a few boxes increases the chances of catastrophic failure. Segregation of functionality is much more appropriate to critical networks and services.

One example I saw a year ago was the complete collapse of the entire national Omantel network for about 8 hours after a routing failure. All fixed telephony failed, their cellular network collapsed as did large parts of the competing network where backhaul was delivered over Omantel. All Internet and private data network backhaul failed. Most importantly the Police emergency call centres saw calls drop by over 90%. You can be pretty sure that some people died because of delayed emergency services response.

You save money by combining all your backhaul and other services but it also means the consequences of failure are much more severe as Omantel discovered.

I've spent over 30 years working in the critical communications industry and have seen this sort of thing on many occasions where people come out of the IT industry into telecomms and try to bring the same work practices as their previous organisations.

It doesn't really matter if Facebook falls over for an hour or two but people will die if a national communications or a power network goes down. You should physically segregate critical and non-critical systems not because the critical systems hardware is more reliable but because you don't want some PFY doing something silly on a router when deploying a new Cisco IP phone and taking out other services.


IT contractors raise alarm over HMRC mulling 'one-month' nudge onto payrolls


Re: Pick up your laptop and walk

Arabian gulf is best at the moment, companies are always looking for good people.

Qatar, UAE (AbuDhabi and Dubai) are always good choices. You pay no income tax but remember that in general expats cannot own land/property so you have to rent and the prices can be very high.

My favourite place is Oman but the country is suffering big time from the low oil price and it is hard to get work there at the moment, I will be moving from Muscat to Dubai in a couple of weeks.

Remember though, you cannot retire there and they will not give you a pension so make sure you save your money for retirement. I'm buying UK property for renting out. That will be my pension.



Pick up your laptop and walk

Shortly after IR35 came out I looked at the possible consequences and decided to move elsewhere. I've never regretted the decision. Have worked in Europe and the Middle East, met interesting people etc.

In my experience most places[1] just let you get on with work, life and let you and your client decide how to organise things. The UK is just about the only place I know where they try to get you on the payroll of the client to the advantage of neither.

So grab some clothing, your laptop and stick two fingers up at the Inland RobbingU. It is a big old world out there.


[1] Apart from Greece, but that is another story :-)

Facebook conjures up a trap for the unwary: scanning your camera for your friends


As if Facebook don't have enough problems with the EU data protection authorities

I can predict what will happen the moment they try to let this 'feature' loose in the EU. Calling Max Schrems ...

On the other hand GCHQ and NSA will love it as they can crawl through everyone's photo archive as it is uploaded to the FB servers for processing. Gives them another chance when the user disables the Google sync on their tablet/phone.

/me orders popcorn ready for the show

If you installed Windows 10 and like privacy, you checked the defaults, right? Oh dear


Breaks Data Protection regulations

By collecting all sorts of personal data like this without making it clear to the user up front appears to break EU regulations on informed consent. It only becomes obvious what is happening if the user makes an effort and starts digging into the settings, the Microsoft privacy page is clear but it is hardly top of the average user's reading list.

Principles of the EU regulations are informed consent and that data may only be used for the stated purpose for which it was provided by the individual.

I see neither of these principles in operation here.

Of course the Microsoft lawyers will disagree, but I'm pretty sure the judges and regulators in the EU will have a different view.

Nokia Networks is going to make zer Vaterland's trains run on time


Re: It is all about certification

A lot of metro systems use WiFi between train and network in tunnels for CCTV and other backhaul. It is a horrible solution and prone to interference from equipment used by passengers.


It is all about certification

GSM-R is certified (EIRENE Certificate and the like) for transporting "signalling" on rail networks.

LTE isn't yet although a couple of manufacturers say they can do it.

An alternative to GSM-R is TETRA but most rail operators are waiting for LTE-R.

Simple as that.


Ericsson seeks cat-herding jacket, attempts EU 5G standardisation


Re: Duplex

TDD is less efficient than FDD because you have to allow for TX/RX turnround every frame which wastes about 20% of the capacity unlike FDD where traffic can flow in both directions all the time.

TDD is useful where uplink or downlink dominates and you can assign a greater proportion of the resources in one direction but the imbalance needs to be pretty high to overcome the TX/RX turnaround throuput losses.


Cheaper-than-Oracle Rimini defiant as Oracle drags 'em back to court


Another reason not to use Oracle products

Since Oracle bought Sun there has been an ongoing increase in support costs and reduction on the availability of software updates etc. They have always been difficult to deal with on their over-priced database products.

Oracle are trying to get to the stage where anyone buying anything will have to go to them for everything and pay whatever Oricle feel like charging at the time. I'm kinda surprised they haven't banned customers from using non-Oracle provided CAT5 cables!

Fortunately there are other products available from other more enlightened suppliers, the problem is stopping managers from insisting on the purchase of Cisco and Oracle products in their organisation when other lower-cost and more flexible options exist.


OPM data breach: Looking at you, China! National Intelligence head stares out Beijing


What goes around comes around.

After all the stories about NSA spying on everyone in sight it is interesting to see the boot on the other foot. At least there are no silly statements about issuing arrest warrants to members of the Chinese military this time.

Considering the jobs and roles of some of the employees I do wonder why on earth this sensitive personal data was being held on Internet accessible machines.

UN corruption cops commence probe into domain-name and patent body WIPO



Considering that FIFA are being investigated for Brazil corruption (amongst other things) where they were joined at the hip with WIPO it is a pretty good guess that WIPO are a target too.

So what will the UN do? Easy, start a quick investigation of WIPO to demonstrate they are active in anti-corruption and dig up the dirt before the Swiss and USA authorities publish embarrassing information. Having read previous stories it is obvious that there has been significant misbehaviour over several years from the top so public embarrassment is certain if they are not quick to do something.

It is a pity that they are not going to investigate WIPO UDRP Panel decisions at the same time which always always seem to support the complainant who is paying their fees.

Ho hum


KFC takes legal axe to eight-legged mutant chicken claims


Key to prosperity

Of course a cynic would say that KFC are ticked off because someone has discovered how they manage to make huge profits. Cost per leg or wing drops dramatically when each fowl (probably foul too) has more than normal.

Ho hum

Texas boffins put radio waves in a spin


You don't need to TX/RX on the same frequency at the same time.

Apart from the issues about the antenna match causing time varying reflections most communications networks already use a form of TDMA. In the case of TDD LTE it is the same frequency.

Same frequency with duplex TX/RX will certainly have huge multipath problems from nearby objects too so it is a nonstarter.

Interesting bit of engineering but limited in use. I'd love to see the intermodulation performance figure, bet it isn't too good.


Massive police 'heavy equipment' robot drags out suspect who hid inside television


What happened to ROTM?

This is a perfect match for Rise Of The Machines.

Fanbois: We paid $2000 for full satisfaction but now we have SPREADING STAINS


Manufacturing fault

I thiught this sort of thing was covered under the EU consumer protection regulations. Doesn't matter if it is over a year old if there is a design flaw as this certainly appears to be.

Take the thing back to the seller and ask for your money back, if they refuse then talk to the local trading standards office. Watch Apple backpedal at the speed of light.


Canadian bloke refuses to hand over phone password, gets cuffed


Nobody posted *that* XKCD yet?

Here we go:


WAM, bam, thank you QAM


There are physical limitations.

With high order modulation schemes you need about 3dB Carrier/Interference(C/I) ratio for every bit of throughput per hertz of spectrum. This comes out of information theory - It is a physical limit.

LTE operates within about 1dB of this physical limit plus around a 20% overhead for channel signalling. You can use signalling redundancy to tradeoff throughput for C/I. The eye-watering throughput claims of operators simply do not apply once you have multiple users on more than one LTE site in operation because they interfere with each other. In practice on a good day you might see around 20mbit downlink performance per cell sector on a 10MHz LTE channel and that is using MIMO. This figure will slowly increase in the future with higher order MIMO and also become more reliable with beam forming techniques.

You cannot reduce the noise in the channel by fancy coding schemes only by raising your transmit power and QAM based systems use extremely linear transmitters to maintain orthogonality. If the new proposed system dispenses with the linearity requirement you can improve transmitter power efficiency and raise the power with existing devices thereby giving you an improved C/I and more throughput. This is providing the telecommunications regulatory authority lets you increase the power. Cellphone transmit powers are limited to stop you absorbing too much signal with your head.

In any case most of the time a connection is 'interference limited' in that other transmissions impact the theoretical link C/I and reduce the throughput. If you have a short range connection then you may benefit with the new system but I suspect the improvements will be moderate rather than dramatic.


30 years ago today, the first commercial UK 'mobile' phone call was made


Re: not the first network

System 4 was before band 3 and was not a PTT system but full duplex.

The band 3 system was based on mpt1327 and internal calls did not need an operator.

No doubt I'll be downvoted again but at least I've had both types of equipment in my hands and spent several years designing mpt1327 radios and infrastructure.

In any case the systems were aimed at different markets. System 4 was PSTN but National-Band3 was for trucking companies, fleet vehicles etc who didn't need to make PSTN calls.

System 4 was surprisingly usable.


not the first network

I remember servicing system 4 car phones in 1985. Pye westminster kit full of crystals, you picked up the handset and the operator asked what number you wanted to call.

Kinda makes the whole article a lie.


No Santa, no Irish boozers and no regrets: life in Qatar


Tax Free

The best thing about Qatar is all your income is tax free. I find I can save about 4 times as much as I could in the UK.

That said it is surprising how many expats spend everything they get and go back home with next to nothing.


Blackpool hotel 'fines' couple £100 for crap TripAdvisor review



What are the odds that both Trading Standards and Environmental Health will visit before the end of the week?


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