* Posts by steelpillow

557 posts • joined 16 Jun 2016


The internet's very own Muslim ban continues: DNS overlord insists it can freeze dot-words

steelpillow Silver badge

Re: Too late

"They already gave out .bible, .catholic and .church - despite objections."

OTOH they have not given out .christ, .christian or .christianity.

If somebody applied for .koran, .shia or .mosque would they approve those?

This "prejudice" cry seems a tad lacking in supporting evidence.

Keep that banhammer swingin' ICANN, and keep poking those tickbox merchants 'til they change the rules.

Hurrah! Boffins finally discover liquid water sloshing around on Mars

steelpillow Silver badge

Not so much a lake

"matching water or water-rich sediments", said the man in charge.

OK, so - if it were salt water like say the Dead Sea then the sand and stuff would sink down through it to the bottom, either lifting the water layer higher until it reached the surface, or simply becoming a layer of "water-rich sediments" in its own right. Underground lakes can exist under solid rock, as in Derbyshire's Speedwell Caverns, or under ice as in Antarctica, but not under soft sandy sediments.

Yes, the radar returns are compatible with a lake, but the rest of the geophysics certainly is not. It's like water-bearing sand/rock strata anywhere, and we don't call those "lakes".

I predict a riot: Amazon UK chief foresees 'civil unrest' for no-deal Brexit

steelpillow Silver badge

Rivers of blood

Wot no "Rivers of blood"? This noob is a babe in arms when it comes to fascist rhetoric.

UK spies broke law for 15 years, but what can you do? shrugs judge

steelpillow Silver badge

I bet...

"I bet if I mentioned a certain agency and a trigger words that go boom, I would soon be target no. 1"

Any real terrorist uses codewords. I bet the spooks long ago followed Google's ancient dumping of HTML keywords as worthless, and would not give a flying f*ck for your keywords neither. </wanders off muttering about script kiddies>

steelpillow Silver badge

So that's the big deal

Sloppy admin. We've all done illegal stuff without realising it. Woken up and driven to work while our blood alcohol was still a tad over the limit, cycled up a one-way street without noticing the sign, let an almost-adult kid watch a dodgy movie without their parents' express consent, whatever. Now it's the Home Secretary's turn to illegally delegate powers. What can you do, slap the spooks for doing what their political masters expected because they were too lazy to do it themselves?

Look, a horse just bolted from that stable over there, better go and lock the door quick.

Roll on ubiquitous encryption and open democracy, I say.

If only 3D desktop printers could 3D print sales! Units crash in Q1

steelpillow Silver badge

convenience vs quality

Something reasonably reliable and adequate for a quick, low-cost, if rather lumpy set of visuals has fallen in price from the pro range to the domestic, while something that cuts the high-end mustard still comes with an industrial-scale price tag and the smaller pro will outsource rather than buy.

The "pro" sector in between is getting squeezed out.

Bonkers Azure bookings give Microsoft a record-breaking $110bn year

steelpillow Silver badge

Rebirth of the phoenix

Sounds like they will soon be giving AWS a run for their money. Jeff Bezos, spend it while you can!

Brit tech forges alliance to improve cyber security as MPs moan over 'acute scarcity' of experts

steelpillow Silver badge


OMG we are short on cyber specialists who meet the essential minimum qualifications:

* Have a documented track record of approved buzzwords

* Are nevertheless prepared to work for peanuts

* Are happy to do IR 35

* Are happy to work for Crapita

* Are sufficiently experienced despite:

* Not being OLD!!! >horror<

I am afraid that I retired early on failing to meet five of those qualifications after a mere ten years of roaring success, and I have absolutely no intention of going back. I am confident that I am not alone.

People hate hot-desking. Google thinks they’ll love hot-Chromebooking

steelpillow Silver badge

Re: Mainframe?

This kind of horses-of-my-own client was/is known as a "smart terminal".

Make it mobile and swap "mainframe" for "cloud" and yes, that's about it.

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

steelpillow Silver badge

Re: Time for a bigger stick.

''Do that, and you'll probably just price everything out of range. Everything has an effect.''

OMG! Prices are already £30,000 too high. I know, let's repeal the regulation requiring water, leccy, drains, phone and emergency vehicle access. You could save even more by not putting a roof on.

steelpillow Silver badge


I have FTTC - fibre to the cabinet. It was delivered to my area by BT under the "Superfast Worcestershire" programme. But the cabinet is over a mile away, I am refused a superfast deal because the connection simply is not there: I get ca. 2MB over copper-to-the-premises and that is all. And they have refused to install another cabinet closer to us, they have the bloody nerve to officially advise us to go the satellite route as part of their delivered solution!

That BT/Outreach can claim they have delivered me and my neighbours FTTP/superfast broadband is a complete outrage.

Gov.UK to make its lovely HTML exportable as parlous PDFs

steelpillow Silver badge

History repeats itself

Are you sure this is .gov.uk and not Wikipedia? The same leisurely approach to customised HTML-to-PDF conversion is under way in both, and Wikipedia have made a .gov.uk-style ballsup of their first two stabs at it (wrt stephanh's comment, round two was a fruitless attempt to make headless Chrome fit for purpose) and in desperation have outsourced Round Three to their book publisher. It's so the same story in different clothing.

HTML5 sucks in more ways than most folks, including .gov.uk, realise >cough< offline >cough< javascript >cough< information layout >cough< and pdf, done properly, has a lot going for it in its own niche. But I have to ask, if dual-media publishing from a single source is the aim, then why fuss about accessibility of the pdf when you can have to flippin' access the html edition in the first place in order to get to it?

It's coming home, it's coming home, it's coming: Storage's coming home

steelpillow Silver badge

Home, home on the range

My latest invention is a router with terabyte data storage, OwnCloud and encrypted VPN built in. Just plug it in and all Ur stuff R Blong 2 U agAn. :-)

Except in power cuts. :-(

God Exists?

steelpillow Silver badge

Define "God"

"That from which I came, that in which I dwell, and that unto which I shall return". Is that a reference to some universal deity or to the physical Universe? The answer to that depends on your religious perspective.

How does my personal inner experience relate to the information patterns carried by my brain activity? According to Integrated Information Theory, "consciousness is what information feels like once it reaches a certain kind of complexity". But how does that inner experience arise? This is the "hard problem" in the philosophical theory of mind. Neither symbolic information nor experience is a material thing and therefore neither is amenable to the physical sciences or their chemical and biological derivatives. Does that mean they are independent planes of existence or are all three inseparable in the same way that the multiple dimensions of spacetime are?

Whether you call the Ultimate Reality God, the Multiverse, the M-Brane, Allah, Jehovah, the Tao, Brahmin or the Flying Spaghetti Monster is all the same to me, I care only how It and I relate to each other. Only the thoughtless attribute any anthropomorphic features to it, and that is one thing where both Islam and Judaism have stayed a step ahead of modern Christianity (which fell into the trap of idolatry around the start of the medieval era).

IMHO the question "Does God exist?" is merely a way of hiding from the fact that you have no idea what that "God" is or what "existence" might mean in that context. Only the thoughtless deny Its existence without stopping to think seriously about whose God they are denying. Most atheists fall into the trap of denying a straw God conjured by their own prejudices, fondly imagining It to be every believer's God.

Our OP appears to have done what so many of us do, escaped from the one trap only to fall into the other.

Microsoft bids adieu to inky fingers with whiteboard app

steelpillow Silver badge

Re: About time too

" I have thrown away several "smart" whiteboards ... If you want one, I have one in my store room."


The touchscreen monitor is 120% of the value here.

Have you ever tried pulling up Google Maps and comparing routes to TGI Friday vs. Wetherspoons on a smart whiteboard, then emailing the marked-up map to your team mailbox?

steelpillow Silver badge
Thumb Up

About time too

How it pains me to say so, but Microsoft actually deserve credit for this. Ever since giant touchscreens appeared, integrating a decent whiteboard app into the MS Office environment has been an utter no-brainer. Here we are, maybe ten years down the line, and MS have finally woken up and smelled the coffee.

A curious tale of the priest, the broker, the hacked newswires, and $100m of insider trades

steelpillow Silver badge

"What trades and what similarities? If they've known there was trade about this in particular, couldn't they just interrogate the other party"

Stock trading doesn't work like that. You trade with a registered broker or similar and they buy and sell the amount you want, there is no one-to-one between client transactions.

Infrastructure wonks: Tear up Britain's copper phone networks by 2025

steelpillow Silver badge

About time too

Should have been started twenty years ago when the first small-scale FTTP rollouts were already proving their worth.

Fibre should be a national essential service, compulsory for all new-build like water and electricity, and at a fixed price schedule so that rural users don't get stung.

Up in arms! Arm kills off its anti-RISC-V smear site after own staff revolt

steelpillow Silver badge

Not everybody will forgive and forget

Fat Freddy's Cat says: "Remember the Wayback Machine before you publicly shit on somebody."


You're indestructible, always believe in 'cause you are Go! Microsoft reinvents netbook with US$399 ‘Surface Go’

steelpillow Silver badge


When the netbook first arrived Linux was pretty much the only OS the hardware was capable of supporting (the original Psion "Netbook" was more a statement of intent that the genuine article). Its first flush of success was stifled by typical M$ tactics - leaning on manufacturers and outlets alike to pull their Linux toys or lose their M$ franchise, bringing out shite "prototypes" with impossibly unreasonable spec sheets, throwing sueballs at anybody who told tales, etc.

Now, 20 years down the line, M$ have finally reached a convergence of hardware performance and software streamlining that makes it sort of do-able. Meanwhile that same evolutionary curve is delivering a second wave of Linux kernels in Google's "Chromebook" netbooks that leave this shite in the dust every which way imaginable and some that aren't.

Only a poo icon can express what M$ have created, so here's the next best thing.

Spidey sense is literally tingling! Arachnids detect Earth's electric field, use it to fly away

steelpillow Silver badge
Black Helicopters


There is a theory that at least one form of dowsing works on the principle of detecting changes in the Earth's local electrostatic field as one walks around.

Anybody know of a respectable scientist with sufficient cred as an electromagnetics engineer to conduct a meaningful experiment, who also doesn't care if it trashes his career by mentioning the D word?

Sysadmin cracked military PC’s security by reading the manual

steelpillow Silver badge

Protected web pages

Can't tell you how many times I have encountered a "protected" web page, hit View > Page Source and copy-pasted what I was looking for into a text editor.

It stared to die out once when server-side was all the rage, but now we are back in a world of client-side and serverless, it seems to be coming back into its own again.

Euro bank regulator: Don't follow the crowd. Stay off the cloud

steelpillow Silver badge

What could possibly go wrong?

You'd have thought that the disaster of outsourcing customer support to "high-risk areas" would have taught them something. But no, provided there is a contractor between us and the high-risk area, it'll be fine.

Vendor lock-in? Shit, if they cause trouble we'll just buy 'em up and dump on 'em good and proper. Surely they can never grow bigger than us.

Brit bank Lloyds carves out role for ex-Microsoft design guy Dan Makoski

steelpillow Silver badge


Bank Scream of Death?

We just love small firms, screams UK.gov after palming AWS UK £4.1m

steelpillow Silver badge

That's bureaucrats for you

I wonder how much Amazon spent on lobbying to even get this far.

When Google's robots give your business the death sentence – who you gonna call?

steelpillow Silver badge

"El Reg asked Google to comment but had not received a response at publication time."

When they tried again later, Google replied, "That's interesting, Fromtheregister. Why do you say that?"

(Icon for Google QOS)

A £1.3m prize for a plunging share price at BT? Not so fast...

steelpillow Silver badge

Plus ça change

Back in the day, big company bosses got huge salaries.

That was killed through taxation, so they all turned to ridiculous expense accounts. They would use them to buy posh cars and property and build retirement homes and pay their kids' private school fees, no questions asked.

That was made illegal, so they all got posh company cars and huge pensions and share deals. Share options were a way you could buy say a million shares at issue price even though their value had upped a hundredfold.

When that came under the banhammer (I forget exactly how), next came huge bonuses.

Now we are clamping down on those, where will the bosses turn next? Ginormous loan schemes with retirement payoff? Corporate land grabs with peppercorn rent? One thing we do know for sure -- they'll find something.

Oink! Oink!

The Notch contagion is spreading slower than phone experts thought

steelpillow Silver badge

End game

No notch

No buttons

No wires

No sockets

No way in

All sensors and speakers under-screen

All software under voice assistant and/or gesture control

Now who does that remind me of?

Micro Focus offloads Linux-wrangler SUSE for a cool $2.5bn

steelpillow Silver badge

"Not a bad price for free software"

Though still not a smidgin of what RedHat is worth.

Have to say I have had little to do with SuSE over the years, but it is good to see choice still thriving and even better to see F/LOSS as a "social responsibility" bling thing.

May I wish EQT a handsome and healthy return on their "free as in freedom, not free as in beer" (icon for irony) acquisition.

And that's now all three LTE protocol layers with annoying security flaws

steelpillow Silver badge
Thumb Up

How hard can it be?

Any communications system is a compromise between security and speed. The more and harder you bury stuff, the more and harder work you have to do to get a given message across.

Most users will be happy to lean towards speed, others quite the reverse. A good infrastructure is one which offers the user a wide choice between the two extremes and then makes it easy to choose.

I doubt that a commercial high-traffic system can ever be immune to hi-tech spoofing attacks by well-heeled agencies, the best one can do is to make it damn hard.

LTE is not a bad system, though it could do better.

Google weeps as its home state of California passes its own GDPR

steelpillow Silver badge

Google says

"User privacy needs to be thoughtfully balanced against legitimate business needs," say Google.

That can and should be done by the user.

Oh, you mean "if you aren't buying the product then you are the product" type business needs? Then fuck off, Google.

California, have one on me - icon.

Git365. Git for Teams. Quatermass and the Git Pit. GitHub simply won't do now Microsoft has it

steelpillow Silver badge

Microsoft VisualGit

Per the above, the Visual Git mascot to be Clippy with an RMS haircut and beard (how I wish I were a proper graphics artist! Actually, the more I try to visualise (sic) it, the happier I am that I cannot)

For the puzzled millennials among you, here is a BASIC clue for you.

Icon for irony (actually, not a bad fallback mascot... Clippy aged 65?)

Google leaps on the platform formerly known as Firefox with $22m splurge for KaiOS

steelpillow Silver badge

moabyl OS diveliper seaks werk

Well, here I am a longtime web content author with HTML5 and CSS skills, well akkustomed to the spelchequer saving my lief. Now I are a furrily pade-up moabyl OS diveliper!

Still, I expect we'll still need javascript for anything even remotely resembling a UI. Funny the article doesn't mention that.

Facebook quietly kills its Aquila autonomous internet drone program

steelpillow Silver badge

Re: The Team

They were an independent startup that Facebook acquired a few years back. Perhaps they can now regain that independence, though finance will surely be the main hurdle.

BOFH: Is everybody ready for the meeting? Grab a crayon – let's get technical

steelpillow Silver badge

Re: "I prefer not to answer that but suggest you wear gloves to work."

"We have a new person at work, and his job is mainly to shield us from customers."

"That way I can get on with developing and support with supporting."

As a tech author, that was often how I got the techies to talk to me. I would explain that talking Idiot was my job, and if they gave me the griff they could stop answering the phone all the time and trying to do it themselves. After that, their enthusiasm for Technical became the gift that kept on giving. Icon for the fond memories, folks!

steelpillow Silver badge

The purpose of documentation

I once lost a new contract because the first thing I did was to push a part-finished document through for signing-off.

The system was crufty and the details confused, but since it had been around a couple of years and the sysadmins knew it backwards, the sole purpose of the document was to sign it off and throw it in a cupboard, that was what I was getting done.

The project manager (call him Scumspawn) called me in and carpeted me for some trivial typo - "call yourself a professional?" blah, blah.

I checked with his boss and yes, it was fit for sign-off and thanks for a tremendous job, this document had been bugging them for literally years, it was the last thing keeping the delivery project open.

Turned out Scumspawn was nearing retirement and was using the chaotic state of the report to keep his project open until his retirement date, just to be sure of the big fat pension coming his way. He was horrified that this new author knew his job well enough to cut straight through his carefully woven web of confusion. I had to go with immediate effect, before I tipped off his Boss.


Thank goodness we were in a basement room at the time and there were no windows to open.

My replacement assignment turned out to be the job of a lifetime, you couldn't make it up. I can only thank the miserable git from the bottom of my heart.

How a tax form kludge gifted the world 25 joyous years of PDF

steelpillow Silver badge

Re: Print Definition File

Print publishing houses only wanted Word for author's text - everything else was in QuarkXPress.

Yes indeed. Word > QuarkXPress > PDF it was.

There's still an enormous requirement for fixed documents that always appear the same.

That's where HTML/CSS keeps growing new features (I am never sure whether this is an abomination or a stroke of genius).

Still, I acknowledge it'll take a lot for Scan > OCR > PDF ever to go away.

steelpillow Silver badge

Print Definition File

History is always written by the winners, so this particular history is about to die.

PDF originally stood for "Print Definition File". Text was just glyphs, you couldn't even copy-paste from a PDF. But all you needed was a PostScript printer driver and its appearance was guaranteed.

Technology moved on. Hi-res screens you could read an illustrated print page on appeared, people really did need to copy-paste content, the web and hyperlinks spread like wildfire, you could even embed multimedia in your online document but you couldn't print that off. At the same time, print publishing houses were rejecting PDF and demanding MS Word, specifically so they could edit the content. Nobody in the SOHO market, where the sales volumes are, gave a toss how the castrated print version looked any more. And by now the publishing and print houses already had their print needs catered for by last year's version.

So Adobe tried to reinvent PDF as an electronic format for onscreen viewing. Embedded text, media and hyperlinking appeared, along with other gimmicks I barely knew and thankfully forget. The name "PDF" suddenly now stood for "Portable Document Format" and the Illustrator airbrush was whipped out on the old Print Definition File.

But page resizing is a key to onscreen comfort and paper print pages just can't cut it. In the face of more flexible electronic formats such as the XHTML/XML based ePub, the days of PDF as anything more than a print definition format are severely numbered. And even there, the relentless march of page layout markup in HTML/CSS leaves a question mark.

Cryptography is the Bombe: Britain's Enigma-cracker on display in new home

steelpillow Silver badge

A conspiracy theory is born

What's the likelihood we built and sold "used" Enigma machines to Stalin, then kept the old codebreaking systems going and pretended we had destroyed them just so that Russian spies could discover the "secret" of their destruction?

steelpillow Silver badge

Needs an IoT interface

Would be great to control it over a remote terminal. Text-only, POSIX complaint would do nicely.

Now, that would be a real Bombe shell.

CIOs planning to snub Oracle for other cloudy vendors – analyst

steelpillow Silver badge

Re: How odd

"You crap on your customers and they walk away."

"In contrast, 27 per cent chose Microsoft..."

Not sure these two statements are wholly compatible?

Microsoft tries cutting the Ribbon in Office UI upgrade

steelpillow Silver badge

animated pain

"Microsoft’s also talked up new menu animations"

Thank the nearest Lord for LibreOffice.

Devuan ships second stable cut of its systemd-free Linux

steelpillow Silver badge

Re: dependencies

"You're saying that Debian accepted patches from Devuan to remove systemd dependencies?

"Got an example?"

I am saying that Devuan developers feed patches upstream to the original app/package developers, just like they always did before Devuan grabbed their time, and from there any that get accepted will flow back down to Debian. It's not about removing systemd from the world altogether, just about not mandating it. And no, I haven't got an example off the top of my head, and why should you believe me anyway? Go to the Devuan forum and ask the horse's mouth for yourself: https://dev1galaxy.org

steelpillow Silver badge


The thing that astonished me during the initial development of Devuan was the sheer number of packages that did have dependencies on SystemD that needed fixing.

The only reason you can still change to another init on Debian and still have a reasonably flawless existence is because Devuan got so many of those dependencies fixed for you - or because they were all pre-installed anyway and cluttering the place up.

In an ideal world Debian would still be maintained in the spirit of true "enjoy the choice" Init freedom. But it isn't, so Devuan stepped in to do that for you

Britain's new F-35s arrive in UK as US.gov auditor sounds reliability warning klaxon

steelpillow Silver badge

Re: What will happen during a war?

"Nuclear retaliation against whom? About 30 seconds thought would convince the stupidest of politicians that launching thermonuclear weapons - against anyone at all - could only make matters vastly, and suddenly, worse."

Yes, that's why the policy is called Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD). Nobody would be mad enough to call our bluff -- or at least, so the theory goes. It is often credited with having staved off World War III and the nuclear holocaust during the Cold War, so who can argue with that?

steelpillow Silver badge

Re: What will happen during a war?

For a home-front war on that scale, UK's published policy has long been to resort to nuclear retaliation. Our conventional forces are intended only for overseas deployment.

It seems that the F-35's major role is intended to be as an airborne battlefield control centre cum escort fighter in charge of swarms of assorted droney things which do the actual ground-attack bit for it.

steelpillow Silver badge

Re: "not the best PR for a USA-ian"

This is RAF jets being refuelled by RAF tankers (Airbus A330 MRTT, aka "Voyager"). US vs. EU meltdown it is not.

Microsoft sinks another data centre with Natick 2

steelpillow Silver badge


Why not just build an outer tank next to your water heater (or steam-turbine power station)? Stick the box in there and you can pre-heat your water at the same time. No salt, no hungry fish, no fishing nets. You could even drain the swamp tank and break the seal to replace dead hardware.

But no, Mico-facepalm has to do it the dumb way. Some things never change, sigh.

Dual-screen laptops debut at Asus' Computex chat

steelpillow Silver badge

Re: riiiight...

"If you watch the video, they use the ScreenPad as a mouse at one point"

As I read the article, the pad is dual-mode, it can be switched between a conventional touchpad and an independent display. So one would expect the video to demo both. It's the new mode I am facepalming over, not the legacy one. Riiiiight?


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