* Posts by hattivat

37 posts • joined 9 Feb 2016

James Webb Telescope will be infatuated with Europa and Enceladus


Re: Active for five to ten years

In addition to what has already been said, it si worth noting that Hubble's lifespan has been artificially extended beyond what would make sense from a purely economic point of view - a major factor in the cost-benefit analysis preceding the servicing missions was its value as a "brand" that is instantly recognizable to most people and thus very valuable for public outreach (which has always been a challenge for space programs).

Want to know more about HPC apps? This explicit vid has some answers


Dear El Reg,

Could you please stop this "El Reg videos" silliness, or at least make it a bit more usable? I have manually disabled the very possibility of autoplay in my Firefox about:config to be 100% sure that no infuriating auto-play ad can ever get through. With this setting I can still watch videos on youtube, twitter, vimeo, reuters, even BBC. Some of them require a double-click or some other quirky way to properly start, but they are in any case still usable. I've been told that even porn websites still work with autoplay disabled.

It is therefore with terrible sadness that I have to report that your blasted "player" doesn't work at all with autoplay disabled (seems to get stuck in an infinite "loading circle" loop), forcing me to hunt for a youtube link in your page source. Could you please do us autoplay haters a solid and fix that?

Sincerely yours,


GitHub throws open doors on 'app' souk


The parallel is that the particular tool she obtains - a punched-card-operated Jacquard loom - is arguably the earliest form of programming: http://www.computerhistory.org/storageengine/punched-cards-control-jacquard-loom/

So I think it is trying to make a point like "programmers always went to marketplaces to get their tools". A bit silly, yes, but not entirely without sense.

Volkswagen pleads guilty to three Dieselgate criminal charges


Re: Natural Law v Governmental Law

First of all, Volkswagen, together with some other European car manufacturers, actually lobbied IN FAVOR of tightening these emission norms. That is because they viewed their ability to pass these stringent tests as a competitive advantage over less technologically sophisticated manufacturers from lower-cost countries. That alone is why I have absolutely zero sympathy for Volkswagen in this case.

Second, there is one huge caveat in what you said - these tests cannot be passed by a reasonably designed DIESEL engine. But cars do not have to be diesel, and petrol-fueled cars can pass the emission tests fair and square. In fact just 40 years ago very few people in Europe owned a diesel-fueled car. To this day, few people do in the US (sub-5%, IIRC). The usage of diesel for ordinary passenger vehicles only took off after European governments scared by the oil price rise started promoting its development*. Then the European car companies, being the only ones with this new "nice diesel" technology, started promoting it worldwide. Volkswagen are very much promoting diesel in their marketing. Which is why my sympathy for them is not just zero, but actually negative.

*Just look at this graph and let the implications sink in: http://www.turnermason.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Graph_Page_1.jpg

Passport and binary tree code, please: CompSci quizzes at US border just business as usual


Re: No issues visiting India

I think they might be the frendliest in general, not just to Commonwealth citizens - even with a second-rate EU passport (not eligible for visa waver in the Land of the Free), my experience of visiting Singapore went like this:

When I arrive at the customs, it is well past 2AM local time, yet the officer is every bit as neat-looking, organized, and professional as I'd expect if I arrived at normal business hours. I give her my passport, she takes about ten seconds to check that it seems genuine and that my face matches the photo in the document, then stamps it, smiles at me, and says "welcome to Singapore". And that was it, the whole 'ordeal' took less than a minute. Best experience I've ever had crossing a border, not counting the non-existent borders in Europe, of course.

Did you know? Amazon does film production – and it treats those workers like dirt, too*


Re: Poe's law

John Rogers put it best:

"There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs."

IBM, Microsoft, US Govt all to blame for globalisation backlash: Jack Ma


Re: Oh my!

What actually made it successful is that it doesn't transfer the money to the trader until you, the buyer, confirm receiving the item. If the item is substandard, you can "open a dispute", and usually get a partial refund without having to return the item (returning it results in a full refund as in all other shops, but with most items sold being dirt-cheap, is often not worth it).

And no, they don't rip you off on shipping, in fact quite the opposite - their strategy is to flood the world with Chinese products at implausibly low shipping costs (my gf has had items delivered to her from China for less than it would cost to send them in-country). This seems to me to be somehow subsidized by the Chinese state to strenghten their exports, otherwise I don't see how it could be so cheap.

OpenBSD 6.0 lands


You can run Arch Linux, or even Manjaro with OpenRC. In fact, that's what I'm doing atm.

If you want to build your own Nvidia-powered self-driving car – or hack one – here's a blueprint


Re: Real Programmers...

You do realize that the article is a joke? (and a legendary one at that)

Indian techies told to prepare for tax sprint


Re: What will this do to outsourced tech support?

"Will this result in me talking to people in CHINA instead?"

Very unlikely, given that Chinese salaries are skyrocketing and already above Eastern European rates for comparable positions (average wage is still lower, but that's because far more Chinese are still stuck toiling the rice fields than there are Romanians stuck farming potatoes), and therefore many times higher than Indian salaries.

I got the power – over your IoT power-point


(visits the website)

"Edimax Pro - Enterprise Wi-Fi solutions"

.........I'm out of witty comments at this point.

Russia is planning to use airships as part of a $240bn transport project


the joys of being "allied" to China

Have they finally realized where the outflow of Siberian Russians towards Moscow and the inflow of Chinese folks to work in Siberia lead?

...nah, they still seem to believe that they are allied to a country which has never treated any other state as an ally (as opposed to "a vassal") in its 3000-years-plus history, LOL.

Oracle to shutter License Services division – source


Pity they didn't shutter the Lawsuit Services division

Yahoo! She said yes. Verizon confirms $4.8bn acquisition


Dinosaur breeding

Verizon needed a breeding drake* for the prehistoric specimen it already owns, and now it has found one. I shudder to thing what will happen if an egg hatches.

*As in male duck, at first I wanted to use 'hog' but somehow it feels inappropriate in this eggy context.

India tweaks tech colleges to 'become real power in software'


"The minister thinks that kind of success is India's next frontier, so has put the IITs on notice they need to get busy creating the kind of entrepreneurs capable of tapping global zeitgeist."

No, mate, what you need is to become a place where such individuals want to stay. In my experience there are plenty of smart Indians, problem is very few of them live in India - virtually all of the intelligent ones I've met seem to have moved elsewhere as soon as someone offered them a visa. Take a look at how your country ranks for things like air pollution, healthcare, public education, personal safety, complexity of regulations, or corruption, and do something about it, because as long as the intelligent choice is NOT to stay in India, intelligent people will surprise surprise... tend to not stay in India.

You can buy Windows 10 Enterprise E3 access for the price of a coffee


Re: The Question Remains....

First, my credentials: At home I use a systemd-less installation of Arch Linux with i3 tiling window manager. I love it and consider it vastly superior to anything M$ could ever offer.

And though it pains me to say it, AD is still lightyears ahead of any *nix alternative I've ever seen. The reason is very simple - *nix solutions typically assume that the people using them are intelligent. You simply cannot afford to make such an assumption in an enterprise setting - unless you are an elitist Silicon Valley corporation, at least half of your employees are guaranteed to be dim, including half of your IT dept. And the time of your brighter IT folks is simply too precious to be devoted to solving banal issues raised by idiots, so you need to have dim IT people support dim business employees, and for that AD is perfect.

"and conclude that because you have to write scripts the platform is of lesser value (tip is totally the contrary)"

It is of vastly lesser value because you need competent people to do that, and competent people are in short supply. Especially in the enterprise, since for some strange reason intelligent people tend to avoid boring dead-end jobs in painfully bureaucratic organizations unless forced by circumstances.

IoT puts assembly language back on the charts


Re: Stop, just stop - search terms?

Unlikely to be that banal, but it could certainly be due to something like the CS course requirements being revised in say India to include a mandatory course in assembler 101. That would generate a lot of artificial popularity, just like Scheme and Logo were "popular" 15 years ago (I love Scheme BTW, no intent to disparage it here).

In any case the point is that the TIOBE "ranking" is entirely disconnected from reality, both in the professional world (as can be seen on any job board, e.g. Monster, Indeed) and the enthusiast side of things (as seen on Github and in game modding communities) and should not be taken seriously by any IT journalist worth their salt.


Re: Stop, just stop

What C# "deserves", and what I or you wish its popularity was doesn't change what its popularity actually is in the real world. I dare you to find an online job board in the UK that has three times more positions advertised for Java than for ".not", or even better, three times more positions for C than for Javascript. I don't believe that you will find a non-obscure one that has more such positions at all, let alone three times as many. The manglement in most companies is shit and they demand their workers use shitty technologies, deal with it if you want a job.

The entire point is that start-downs will code their Internet of Shit gizmos in javascript and ruby, because that's "cool", whereas asking a 50-yo engineer's opinion on what actually makes sense is "lame", and there is little we can do about it.


Stop, just stop

Stop giving that joke of a ranking known as TIOBE publicity, it is nothing more than a glorified Google search rank graph. If you do that, perhaps it will finally suffocate and die.

As anyone who has actually looked for a job in the last 10 years can tell you, Java is not 3 times more in demand than C#, C is not 3 times more popular than Python, and C++ is definitely not two times more in demand than Javascript. TIOBE's high ranking of C is due to their inability to effectively separate searches for C-as-a-programming-language from searches for "C-suite", "C-class driving license", "Arthur C. Clarke", "Boeing C-40 Clipper", and so on. If you want actual data, look no further than here: http://www.itjobswatch.co.uk/

These guys index actual job ads, not google searches. As can be seen from their graph, use of Assembly in jobs where you actually get paid is in long-term decline, and currently the demand for it is on par with the likes of Erlang (ie. almost non-existent) http://www.itjobswatch.co.uk/charts/permanent-demand-trend.aspx?s=assembly+language&l=uk

Quick note: Brexit consequences for IT


Re: What a shambles already ..

Welcome to the world of negotiations between countries which are not in union with each other. If you think this is a scam, wait until you see the Chinese terms.

Astroboffins discover rapid 'electric winds' blowing on Venus


Re: Venus did harbor water... but it was boiled away as its surface temp rose to 470 deg

The only thing that makes it habitable for most of these people is air conditioning (and opulent salaries, obviously). At the beginning of the 20th century, only 25 000 people found Quatar habitable enough to live there, whereas today the population is at 2.5 million, a 100-fold increase. I've been to Dubai in summer and everything seemed to be geared towards eliminating any exposure to outside air, with people shuttling in air-conditioned cars from their air-conditioned houses to their air-conditioned parking spots underneath their air-conditioned offices. Now I know that sounds a lot like what many people in the West are doing, but in the Gulf they take it to a whole new level - even their bus stops are all air-conditioned, and before the global recession put an end to the worst excesses, there were serious plans to create a refrigerated beach in Dubai. Yes, seriously.

You're right that a few degrees warmer won't make much difference to the air conditioners, though.

SpaceX winning streak meets explosive end



Except he doesn't seem to make any such attempts, he's just using traditional aerospace engineering jargon. It probably didn't even occur to Musk that someone might attribute that old joke to him.



There is also "hard start" for overpressure on engine ignition, usually resulting in spontaneous disassembly,

"lithobraking" for slamming into the ground at destination (per analogy to "aerobraking" used to decelerate at no fuel cost),

"engine-rich exhaust" for when your engine erodes itself mid-flight (per analogy to "fuel-rich exhaust" and "oxidizer-rich exhaust"),

"giving the rocket back to taxpayers" for when it makes an unplanned turn back into the ground,

"rapid deceleration syndrome" for that weird spike in death probability humans experience when lithobraking,

"rapid oxidation" for well, burning up,

and a host of other euphemisms, all predating Musk by decades. This is a branch of engineering where spectacular failures are common, so gallows humour arises naturally.

Swedish old timer pulls airsoft gun on broadband salesman


Re: Welcome to Sweden

Having spent some time in the country, I'd take these stats with almost as big a barrel of salt as the "only Swedish men get abused so much" claims. In reality Sweden is, in comparison to global standards, quite obviously a very peaceful place where people are relatively nice and respectful to each other. Personally I think that the only way these "Swedish men/women get soooo abused" stats can be reconciled with observable reality is some combination of the following:

a) Being introverted loners that they are, the locals have broadened the definition of "abuse" to include "getting within 2 meters of another person without their explicit permission"

b) Swedes are simply much more willing to report such incidents than other nations, and their police are more willing to count them.

I suspect that the reporting is also influenced by

c) Many Swedes being blissfully unaware of how much worse the situation in most of the world is

as I have had Swedish colleagues use words like "horrible hellhole", "criminal ghetto", and "to be avoided at all cost" when trying to dissuade me from visiting districts that as I later discovered looked and felt like a regular run-of-the-mill tower block district in Eastern Europe, and were certainly orders of magnitude safer to be around at night than some places in the US, not to mention Latin America or Africa.

Sky! Blue!, Oceans! Wet!, Yahoo! Overvalued!


Re: Let the Bidding begin!

$5 and a pint of Fuller's - I hear that their real estate has non-negative worth

Tim Cook signs SAP for iOS – SANA app pact



So what are these "industry-specific apps" created in partnership with IBM? If you ask me, I think the world clearly needs a smartphone app to log into AS/400 and z/OS servers. I'd call it "Mainfrmr".

Or is it more along the lines of "let's put Twatson on iPhones alongside Siri, so that our corporate clients get to enjoy a little schizophrenic vibe"?

Inside Nvidia's Pascal-powered Tesla P100: What's the big deal?


Re: Deep Learning?

It's a way of making the computer figure out through trial and error how to do something that you wouldn't know how to hand-code. For example how to tell the difference between a pedestrian and a carbon cutout in pouring rain. Hence "undefined best answer" because you don't need to know (and for may of these problems, couldn't possibly know because humans have limitations) what the solution is beforehand.

It's like training a dog to jump through hoops - you don't take a microscope and a scalpel and manually reconnect its neurons, you don't even need to know which parts of its brain control which muscle, you just make it jump until it learns how to do it right by itself. In this example, deep learning would be the method of designing an artificial dog so that it can be taught to jump through hoops.


Simple - autopilot. Lightning-quick recognition of pedestrians, other cars, road boundaries, etc. with stellar reliability regardless of conditions (rain, dust, etc.) is absolutely essential for the development of autonomous cars and a decidedly non-trivial computing task. You need advanced neural networks for that, and nowadays these run on GPUs (CPUs are ~10x slower for this application).

Top rocket exec quits after telling the truth about SpaceX price war


@ rh587

Thank you for stating the obvious. My point was that when you are using some hardware without personally paying for it, you are going to resist the move towards inferior products, regardless of how much cheaper they are, because you don't "feel" the price, while you do witness all the irritating imperfections in person.

On the other hand, when you are responsible for paying for hardware that you won't end up personally using, and have little idea about how it is used (ie. if you are an accountant), your decisions are likely to be perceived as misguided attempts at excessive savings by the people actually using the stuff, whether or not they are justified.

And this "I use it but don't pay for it, while the guys who pay for it don't use it" arrangement happens to be the situation that both the airforce guys and most of IT professionals are in, so the latter should be able to relate, hence my comment.


Much as I like SpaceX's innovation and Musk's vision, I think I can relate to how the air force guys must be feeling about this. This is basically like being told by the beancounters that you can't get more of these shiny 100%-reliable Unix/Mac workstations that you are used to, and have to make do with virtualized Windows clients, because while slightly inferior, their three times lower price more than makes up for it. Atlas V that ULA uses to launch military payloads has literally never failed in its 61 launches, uses more fancy (ie. more efficient) propulsion - a staged combustion first stage, and a hydrogen-fueled second stage, and I would argue also looks more shiny. Once you disregard the price, Atlas V is clearly the superior product. It's just that its price per tonne in orbit is so much higher that no kind of superiority could ever justify it.

We’re so over Uber: Italy ponders slapping taxes on workers in the ‘sharing economy’


I think it's blindingly obvious to everyone that if they get to not pay taxes, while everyone else has to do it, then it constitutes unfair competition. It's also blatant freeloading, since they are neither funding the public services they use nor paying fees for the free market replacements they would have to use instead in a turbo-capitalist utopia.

...everyone except Uber's senior execs, who are reportedly very much into Ayn Rand and her egoism-based "ethics".

Lonely bloke in chem suit fuels Mars orbiter


Re: Why . . .

The stuff is perfectly storeable (unlike most fuels typically used in rockets themselves), so no harm in this regard. It's also not explosive at all, as long as it does not come into contact with each other, which I assume the engineers went to great lengths to make sure won't happen.

As for why it is done so much in advance, a satellite is typically given its last checkup and sanitization (there is a policy to protect space bodies from contamination with Earth bacteria, especially restrictive in case of a place where they could possibly survive, such as Mars), and encased in the fairing (along with filling said fairing with something neutral, often helium) long before it is launched. The main reason I think is that considering how finicky the whole "launching stuff into orbit on top of a giant can of explosives" stuff is, it's nice to have variable less to worry about on the final stretch of preparations.


I went into the comments section expecting to feel forced to respond to misconceptions of people surprised that not everything spacey can run on solar panels and coconut water. Instead I found references to one of my favorite books (Ignition!) and favorite blog posts (the "things I won't work with" stuff). I think I'm in love with this website and its commentards.

Samsung S7 tease suggests phone likes it hot and wet


Let me explain in Language, the dominant language of Britain

"Your correspondent's Bahasa (the dominant language of Indonesia) runs out on the first page of a restaurant menu"

You do realize that <<Bahasa>> simply means "a language"? It's like you said "Your correspondent's <<Language>> (the dominant idiom of communication in Britain) runs out..."

The language is simply known as Indonesian, ffs. Yes, Indonesians call it "bahasa Indonesia", but it's the "Indonesia" part that is relevant, just as its "English" in "the English language" that signifies the particular language we are having this conversation in.

Norks stabilise non-threatening space speck ... for about five minutes


Re: Well, so much for the loitering nuke theory

"Not necessarily. Depends on what nuke size did they managed to build"

The Unha rocket is estimated to be able to lift no more than 150 kgs into low-Earth orbit. As I noted under the previous article, 150 kgs would be a challenging mass limit even to the US, especially if all the kit necessary for reentry had fir within it. There is absolutely zero chance that the Norks can fit anything genuinely dangerous in it.

The "just command it to blow up" bit is also not nearly as simple as you think. First off, the places where Norks might want it to explode above are on the other side of the planet. That means that they cannot transmit the "blow up" command directly. They would need either

a) a functioning comms satellite in a far higher orbit to relay the signal (obviously they don't have one), or

b) precise timer that is immune to effects of both long-term radiation exposure and tumbling (tricky), or

c) sensors to detect when it crosses over the target (tricky in general, absolutely impossible while tumbling)

Silent Nork satellite tumbling in orbit


Re: Even lumps of steel can cause damage - Big Time

"Since the USA has so much expensive heavy metal flying around the heavens, they should prey they don't get hit."

Any usable satellite must have RCS thrusters (essentially small engines) to maintain orientation and alitude. Considering how much space there is around Earth, how little that Best Korean "projectile" is, and how easy it is to track its orbit accurately, evading it using said RCS thrusters is trivial. And even if no evasion was ever attempted, the vastness of Earth and the space around it means that the chance of it ever hitting something valuable before its orbit decays is tiny, quite certainly under 1%.

And to all the alarmists talking about it being a nuke or inteded to demonstrate the ability to place one in its stead - the payload capability of the rocket is estimated at under 150 kgs to LEO (low-Earth orbit). Even the US would have a hard time fitting something menacing in the 150 kgs mass limit when reentry shielding, comms equipment and some rudimentary manuevering ability (without which it would be useless as a weapon-waiting-in-orbit) are taken into account. Norks? No chance. For all we know their nukes are quite possibly as crude and immobile as the original Trinity device.

There is really nothing alarming about this test if you know your spacey stuff - Sputnik remains kinda menacing even in hindsight because it was lifted by a rocket without any upper stage, meaning it had potential for much more. That ducttaped joke of a rocket that Norks use is already at the limit of what it can achieve, and well beyond the limits of what any sensible nation would attempt to achieve with a Scud knock-off.

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