* Posts by Richard Scratcher

461 posts • joined 31 Aug 2007


UK transport's 'ludicrous' robocar code may 'put lives at risk'

Richard Scratcher

You can't stand in the way of progress...

...you'll get run over.

Struggling with GDPR compliance? Don't waste money on legal advice: Buy a shredder

Richard Scratcher
Thumb Up

I booked a trip to Las Vegas that was fully GDPR compliant.

Oh Deer! Poacher sentenced to 12 months of regular Bambi screenings in the cooler

Richard Scratcher

Bambi vs Barney

This isn't a million miles* away from the t̶o̶r̶t̶u̶r̶e̶ punishment used in Guantamo bay, where prisioners were forced to listen to Barney the Dinosaur singing...


*(about 2,000 miles)

Here's 2018 in a nutshell for you... Russian super robot turns out to be man in robot suit

Richard Scratcher

Nothing new here.

The Japanese "robot" ASIMO was a similar deception, only that was a double bluff - a real robot passed off as a Japanese child in a plastic costume pretending to be a robot. Their major mistake was the clumsy way the legs were attached to the torso, which led observers to conclude that no real child could have worn that "robot suit". Also, as the years of "development" rolled by, any real child would have outgrown the suit.

In the UK schoolchildren were similarly deceived by Ken Dodd and his "Diddy Men", who were supposed to be a miniature race of people from Knotty Ash (actually a real place deliberately chosen for its daft sounding name) and were famously not the inspiration for Roald Dahl's Oompa Loompas. The Diddy Men all had convincing sounding names such as: Dicky Mint, Sid Short and Hamish McDiddy, and they danced around and sang in chipmunk style voices. But it eventually came to light that it was all a clever conspiracy perpetrated on the nation's school kids and that the "Diddy Men" were actually just children dressed up.

Boeing 737 pilots battled confused safety system that plunged aircraft to their deaths – black box

Richard Scratcher

Re: Computer knows best?

They could be handy for spotting human errors...

"The Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 took off from Belfast City Airport on January 11th, headed to Glasgow. When the plane hit 1,500 ft, autopilot engaged - however, the target altitude was mistakenly set to ZERO ft, so the plane immediately started to nosedive.

The aircraft fell around 500ft in just fifteen seconds before the pilot was able to regain control and bring it back to an appropriate altitude. During the dive, the plane was plummeting up to 4,300 ft per second - and if the pilots had been even a few moments slower to bring it back under control, there is little doubt that it would have crashed.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) found that the issue arose when the pilot chose a specific mode of autopilot, and the airline has introduced new policies including a different pre-flight checklist to make sure that this does not happen again."

Bedroom design outfit slapped with £160k fine for 1.6 million spam calls

Richard Scratcher

1.6 million nuisance calls?!

I don't know how they sleep at night.

The grand-plus iPhone is the new normal – this is no place for paupers

Richard Scratcher

Re: SE gone - so am I :-(

I'm still using my 5S. I was pleased when the similar sized SE was announced but never bothered to upgrade. I think all the >5 iphones are just too big. I want to be able to carry a phone in my pocket without looking like I'm pleased to see everyone... that shouldn't be hard.

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

Richard Scratcher

That bloody woman!

Openreach also came in for implied criticism. "Without infrastructure competition, the existing provider has poor incentives to build new fibre networks, as this undermines its existing copper based services."

Back in the 1980s when BT was a world leader in fibre technology, Maggie Thatcher slapped a 10-year ban on BT delivering TV & video services in the hope that it would allow a break-up of its monopoly and encourage other telcos to step in. There was no internet then so video was the only reason to lay fibre in the "local loop". BT, with its massive network of underground cable ducts was still ripping out old lead-covered aluminium cables left o'er from t'war.

Wind the clock forward and all those cable TV companies that sprang up (and dug up all the streets) have now gone to the wall or become part of the monopoly that is Virgin Media.

Experts build AI joke machine that's about as funny as an Adam Sandler movie (that bad)

Richard Scratcher

Comedy versus tragedy

Instead of trying to build an artificially intelligent system to make people laugh, they should build one that makes people cry. Computers are already good at that. Who can forget the old classic that, even to this day, still brings a tear to my eye...

Not ready reading drive A

Abort, Retry, Fail?

Javid's in, Rudd's out: UK Home Sec quits over immigration targets scandal

Richard Scratcher

Re: So who's Javid?

From Wikipedia:

"a master of disguise, using various masks to try and discover the secrets of the Thunderbirds machines and carry out various missions. He also possesses strange hypnotic powers of unknown origin, although these abilities are apparently limited to making people carry out simple commands, such as to follow him or put them to sleep. He is also apparently unable to use these powers to acquire information; on one occasion he attempted to force Brains to tell him the location of a lost treasure by burying him up to his neck in sand and sunlight and depriving him of water rather than simply hypnotising him to learn the answer, suggesting that he cannot make people tell him information but simply make them carry out certain actions."

Fear the Reaper: Man hospitalised after eating red hot chilli pepper

Richard Scratcher

Always read the label.

I once accidentally sprinkled pepper onto my chips instead of salt. It made me sneeze....twice!

El Reg needs you – to help build an automated beer-transporting robot

Richard Scratcher

Just go out and buy an Asimo..

They're probably quite cheap.

Here's a video of one delivering coffee.

Why this woman wanted four cups of coffee is anybody's guess.

Holy helmets, Batman! Bane-like mask lets you 'talk' to computers without making a sound

Richard Scratcher


Place an order for a dozen gottles of Löwengräu geer, the one in the grown gottle with the glue lagel.

Not one, but 20,000 black holes hiding in Milky Way's heart

Richard Scratcher


That's enough black holes to fill the Albert Hall.

Please no Basic Instinct flashing, HPE legal eagles warn staffers

Richard Scratcher
Thumb Up

Keep your audience engaged with your presentation

Hand out some "bullshit bingo" game cards before you begin.

Brit regulator pats self on back over nuisance call reduction: It's just 4 billion now!

Richard Scratcher


I've set up a Raspberry Pi with a C program I found called jcblock. It has a blacklist and whitelist function and can block whole ranges of numbers. I use a USB voice modem to answer junk calls before they even ring the phone. I enhanced the program by adding a recorded message for withheld numbers and a time of day function because the NHS will insist on withholding its numbers.

That worked well until spammers started "spoofing" their CLI with numbers in ranges that have not yet been allocated by Ofcom. My answer to that was to download the entire UK allocation tables from Ofcom's website and grep for any well-known teclos such as BT, Sky, Vodaphone, etc. and leave out any protected or unallocated ranges. I also omitted any tinpot companies such as Voxbone SA, Gamma telecom, Magrathea, etc. who seem to specialise in extending their number ranges overseas to spam call centres. The file is 24,000 entries long but the Pi still skips through it fast enough for the phone not to ring.

This combination is almost perfect but the real answer would be for Ofcom to revoke the licences of these rogue telcos and the PSTN to block number spoofing.

Aut-doh!-pilot: Driver jams 65mph Tesla Model S under fire truck, walks away from crash

Richard Scratcher

Red sky at night...

Fire truck!

Red sky in the morning...

Fire truck!

Disk drive fired 'Frisbees of death' across data centre after storage admin crossed his wires

Richard Scratcher

"Doctor! You're alive! But how did you escape?"

"Simple! I merely reversed the polarity of the accelerometer feedback flow."

What will drive our cars when the combustion engine dies?

Richard Scratcher

Traffic Flow

A flow battery (aka redox flow battery) might be the future answer for electric cars. These use two tanks of liquid electrolytes that produce electricity as they pass along a separating membrane. The battery can be recharged by pumping the liquids back along the membrane while electricity is applied. They have an extremely long life and can be rapidly recharged by replacing the “spent” electrolytes with some that has been “charged”

For example a car could charge at home overnight or pull into the equivalent of a petrol station to quickly swap out the electrolyte. The station could use its own flow battery to recharge the "spent" electrolyte and add it to its tanks ready for another customer.

The (main) problem with this technology is that it currently has a very low energy density and is better suited to large stationary back-up PSUs and not nippy little sports cars. However, new types of electrolytes are showing promise for future use in cars.

Tom Baker returns to finish shelved Doctor Who episodes penned by Douglas Adams

Richard Scratcher

Shada Pure Face

Scenes from the Shada story were used for the feature-length episode "The Five Doctors" (1983). This was because Tom Baker didn't want to appear in that story.

A todger, a 2.5kg dumbbell, the fire brigade... and the inevitable angle grinder

Richard Scratcher

Angle grinder?

Surely just a quick clean and jerk would do the trick.

Giant frikkin' British laser turret to start zapping stuff next year

Richard Scratcher


I think LDEW is more catchy... as in: "How the L DEW expect to meet those five criteria?".

.. ..-. / -.-- --- ..- / -.-. .- -. / .-. . .- -.. / - .... .. ... then a US Navy fondleslab just put you out of a job

Richard Scratcher

Re: "are the seamen equipped with oars?"

..Inspector Morse. Can't help reading the letters when I hear it.

How do you get on with "Some mothers do have 'em"?

Security robot falls into pond after failing to spot stairs or water

Richard Scratcher

Stupid robot...

...thinks it can walk on water. Who the hell programmed this thing? I mean, Jesus!

Jodie Who-ttaker? The Doctor is in

Richard Scratcher

Er ... Dr. Who canon ????

'...because "it's a load of pants, Dad"'

It'll be a load of skirts from now on.

Bonkers call to boycott Raspberry Pi Foundation over 'gay agenda'

Richard Scratcher
Paris Hilton

Re: Rainbow

There are in fact 7 colours in the rainbow.. according to Arthur Hamilton:

Red and yellow and pink and green,

Purple and orange and blue,

I can sing a rainbow,

Sing a rainbow,

Sing a rainbow too

Faking incontinence and other ways to scare off tech support scammers

Richard Scratcher
Paris Hilton

Sorry, my computer is in the other room... hang on...

"Hello, my name is James and I'm calling from Microsoft support. We have detected a virus on your computer."

"Oh, dear!"

"Don't worry Mr Smith, we can fix it for you today over the phone. Is your computer switched on at the moment?"

"It's in the other room, hang on a moment."

[Lay the phone down for a couple of minutes]


"Hello. Is it switched on now?"

"No, I've had a look and it's not switched on at the moment. Would you like me to switch it on?"

"Yes Mr Smith, we need you to switch it on."

"OK, hang on a moment, I'll go and switch it on."

[Lay the phone down for a couple of minutes]

"Hello? I've switched it on now"

"Can't you take your phone to the computer?"

"No, it's in the other room, the wire won't reach."

"Oh... OK I need you to open the Windows Event Viewer.."

"OK hang on a moment.:"

[Lay the phone down for a couple of minutes]

"Sorry, did you say Windows Event Viewer?"

"Yes please, Windows Event Viewer."

"OK got it, Windows Advert Viewer. Hang on a moment.:"

[Lay the phone down for a couple of minutes]

"Hello? Are you still there"

"Yes, I'm still here mr Smith."

"Right, It's all gone blue."

"All gone blue?"

"Yes all blue, and there's some writing. It says... it says... Oh damn! Hang on I'll go and read it again."

[Lay the phone down for a couple of minutes]

(And so on)

Boaty McBoatface sinks in South Atlantic on her maiden deployment

Richard Scratcher
Thumb Up

Re: second favourite


Richard Scratcher

Thank Ulmo it resurfaced as planned.

Otherwise it would have meant a serious loss of face.

Manchester pulls £750 public crucifixion offer

Richard Scratcher

750 quid!

It used to be 30 bob.

Bloke whose drone was blasted out of sky by angry dad loses another court battle for compo

Richard Scratcher


"A court case in 1946 established that homeowners can control up to 83 feet above their property..."

I thought 83 feet seemed an odd value to settle on, until it dawned on me that it's the same as 25.2984 metres.

Spammy Google Home spouts audio ads without warning – now throw yours in the trash

Richard Scratcher
Big Brother

"But it was alright, everything was alright, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Google.”

― George Orwell, 1984

GCHQ dismisses Trump wiretap rumours as tosh

Richard Scratcher
Black Helicopters

A lot of data

Judge Andrew Napolitano of Fox "News" claims here that the NSA has digital copies of all calls made to, from and within the US since 2005 (and also that GreasyHQ has been gifted complete access to them).

Wow! How many olympic-sized swimming pools would that amount of data fill?

Get a GRIP! Robolution ain't happening until TOUCH is cracked

Richard Scratcher

It's not just touch

Robots will also have to learn about the moving and handling aspects of objects too, e.g. "you mustn't pick 'em up by their ears".

Mars orbiter FLOORS IT to avoid hitting MOON

Richard Scratcher

Yeah, we've all been there.

Not orbiting Mars, but in the position where we had to put our foot down to avoid a collision.

Did your in-flight entertainment widget suck? It's Panasonic's fault, claims software biz

Richard Scratcher

A common mistake

"If CoKinetic's claims are true, air passengers either get crippled third-party software for their in-flight entertainment, which sucks, or Panasonic-supplied software that has no competition, and thus faces little to no pressure to actually be any good, which sucks."

This is a common mistake when talking about pressurised aircraft. The correct term is "blows".

Finally proof that Apple copies Samsung: iPhone 7 Plus halts, catches fire like a Galaxy Note 7

Richard Scratcher

Fake news

An obvious and rather pathetic attempt by this "Brianna Olivas" (real name Samantha Sung) to cast doubt over the safety of Apple's products.

Pack your bags! NASA spots SEVEN nearby Earth-sized alien worlds

Richard Scratcher

Liquid water

Marvin: Could they have oceans?

NASA: Oh yes! Great, wide rolling blue oceans.

Marvin: Can't bear oceans.

Microsoft ups Surface slab prices for Brits. Darn weak pound, eh?

Richard Scratcher

Re: ...or go buy it in the USA


Or maybe they just don't like Mexican food.

Richard Scratcher

Re: ...or go buy it in the USA

That's if Trump will let you in. If, like me, you happen to be an Islamic Mexican terrorist, you've got no chance.

And even if you could get in, the 16% price hike will still be there in your currency exchange rate.

Naughty sysadmins use dark magic to fix PCs for clueless users

Richard Scratcher


A senior manager once called me over to sort out a "virus" on his PC. Whatever he typed in his document immediately scrolled up and off the top the window. He was in a bit of a panic. There was an open ring binder folder on his desk and I slid it forward slightly, so that its corner was no longer pressing the space bar. "Should be okay now", I said.

I tried to joke about the "magic touch" but had to tell him in the end.

I'm deadly serious about megatunnels, vows Elon Musk

Richard Scratcher

"The Tesla and SpaceX CEO didn't explain where the tunnel would end up..."


Make America, wait, what again? US Army may need foreign weapons to keep up

Richard Scratcher

Re: overstating

For a ground combat vehicle you could dig up the blueprints of some 70s Buicks, Cadillacs or Lincoln cars. Some of those were built like tanks.

Congratulations – you're looking better than ever this morning!

Richard Scratcher

Full disc? Not quite!

I notice that the lower part of the image has been carefully cropped in order to hide the alien base in Antarctica.

Euro space agency's Galileo satellites stricken by mystery clock failures

Richard Scratcher
Paris Hilton

Re: M.A.S.E.R/L.A.S.E.R pedantry

So can I have sharks with frickin' masers beams attached to their heads, or not?

Flight 666 lands safely in HEL on Friday the 13th

Richard Scratcher

Not a bit of it!

The foreskin was added by the creator precisely so it could be cut off by the chosen people as an easy indication that they are one of the faithful. It serves no other purpose, which is why we don't see foreskins on animals. There is no equivalent removable label on the female body because women don't really count.

It's all in the book.

Microsoft's Blue Screen of Death dead in latest Windows 10 preview

Richard Scratcher

Super Green

This could be really useful for somebody giving a Powerpoint presentation that is also being recorded for distribution. Should the system crash, the presenter could just carry on using his/her notes and then chroma-key the appropriate slides in afterwards.

Vinyl and streaming sales offset CD decline in UK music sales

Richard Scratcher

Too warm

Vinyl is crap and always has been. It just can’t replace the wonderfully scratchy, tinny sound of shellac played on a decent wind-up gramophone, fitted with a medium-tone steel needle.

Listening to Blind Lemon Jefferson on my VV 8-30, I feel like I’m right there in the same century. When I close my eyes, the audible perspective of mono is eerie. I could almost point to the chair he's sitting in.

Sure you can approximate the tonal qualities of shellac by listening to an LP with your head in a tin bucket but it’s just not the same and it makes it hard to drink your beer.


Richard Scratcher

Downright dangerous

Somebody might have been killed by that falling pie. remember what happened to Ernie (The Fastest Milkman in the West).

"And he looked up in pained surprise and the concrete hardened crust,

Of a stale pork pie caught him in the eye and Ernie bit the dust."

Amazon's first live drone delivery flew last week in Cambridge, UK

Richard Scratcher

Early days

It's easy to scoff at Amazon's early attempts (especially if you've ordered popcorn) but this beta system isn't even v1* yet.

*Now there was an autonomous delivery system: fast, large payloads, long range, not very accurate but could deliver to urban areas.


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