* Posts by Steve Todd

2628 posts • joined 19 Sep 2007

BOFH: When the Sun rises in the West and sets in the East, only then will the UPS cease to supply uninterrupted voltage

Steve Todd Silver badge

Re: Reminds me...

Kind of depends. My grandfather was a chemical engineer working on one of the first UK Nylon plants. When they had finished tuning it, it ran as 110% of original design capacity (reliably 24/7 that is).

Visual Basic 6 returns: You've been a good developer all year. You have social distanced, you have helped your mom. Here's your reward

Steve Todd Silver badge

Re: Nice

VB.NET may have had little to do with VB6, but at least MS used the opportunity to fix the faults and limitations of the language (Interface only inheritance, archaic error handling, 254 controls on a form, inconsistent array bases (some arrays are zero based, some are one based) to name a few).

The problem was that VB.NET was so different that developers may as well have just learned C# instead, and some of the capabilities of C# weren’t provided in VB.NET.

Appeals court nixes online blueprint sharing ban on 3D-printed 'ghost guns'

Steve Todd Silver badge

Re: Why bother with 3D printing

I guess you haven’t tried searching eBay for lathes recently. You can pick up a brand new metalworking lathe for less than $1000, far less than that for a used model. You’ll need to put more time and effort into learning how to use it, but it’s not rocket science to pick up.

Pat Gelsinger’s Intel will evolve from lone wolf to touting modular systems-on-packages with third-party foundry collaboration

Steve Todd Silver badge

Re: I guess he needs more time

There isn’t any standardisation when it comes to talking about process sizes, so Intel 10nm is comparable to TSMC 7nm, and Intel 7nm looks like it will be comparable to TSMC 5nm. That’s still well late to the party though (TSMC have been in volume production since last year with 5nm and are expected to have 3nm in volume next year).

SpaceX wants to slap Starlink internet terminals on planes, trucks, and boats – but Tesla owners need not apply

Steve Todd Silver badge

Re: 1 million users?

Currently licensed in the USA. They have applied to increase that number to 5 million, then there’s the rest of the world to think about...

GPS jamming around Cyprus gives our air traffic controllers a headache, says Eurocontrol

Steve Todd Silver badge

Re: ILS?

Not so much of a need to augment Galileo signals, they can manage a precision of +/- 10cm without help.

Steve Todd Silver badge

Re: ILS?

Larnaca already has VOR-DME, which will let you determine the heading and range to the airport. ILS is far too directional to be of use beyond flying the approach. These older technologies are being phased out in favour of GNSS procedures as they are expensive to install and maintain, plus systems like ADSB/TCAS (which are required for most commercial flight these days) will still be reporting the aircraft’s position to ATC/other aircraft based of what GPS says.

The 40-Year-Old Version: ZX81's sleek plastic case shows no sign of middle-aged spread

Steve Todd Silver badge

Re: ZX81 option for Raspberry PI?

A Raspberry Pi with an onboard RP2040 microcontroller is what I’m looking forward to. The Cortex A series MPU used by the Pi is far from ideal for control, but the RP2040 is short of compute horsepower. The two in combination should be a winning proposition.

Steve Todd Silver badge

Re: Retro-Wreckers

The decision to use the 8 bit bus version of the 680000, the 68008, is really what hobbled it. Microdrives were a bit slow and clunky, but once you had code and data loaded the handicapped CPU felt a bit slow and clunky compared to the full 16 bit competition.

Steve Todd Silver badge

Re: Ha, latecomers

Well, other than the fact that the max on board RAM was (IIRC) 384 BYTES, and the terrible INS8060 CPU had no stack pointer and could only handle 4K of RAM at one go without paging ...

Steve Todd Silver badge

Ha, latecomers

I built a MK14 (look it up), it made the ZX80 look positively palatial in terms of resources.

Steve Todd Silver badge

Different problem. The ARM2 didn’t have HARDWARE FP, but had plenty of space and speed to do it in software.

Steve Todd Silver badge

That was the reason for the larger ROM. The original ZX80 didn’t have space for FP routines in the only 4K of ROM space it had.

Copper broadband phaseout will leave UK customers with higher bills and less choice, says comparison site

Steve Todd Silver badge

Re: Emergeny calls

“And why does SCADA, DCS, etc need gigabits/second to poll its RTUs in pumping stations or whatever? Sometimes those things need very low (or at least very predictable) latency, and the need to packetize serial data into IP packets can get in the way. IP is trendy though.”

Who said you needed to buy gigabit links? They are a available if you want them, but lower speeds are available. Yes, there is more overhead compared to simple fixed links, but packets can contain small blocks of data if responsiveness is key.

“Figures. Like a parallel universe, where for some weird reason switching from message parsing in software to message parsing in (e.g.) FPGA to save a millisecond or so ”

Now you’re demonstrating your own ignorance. You’re talking about High Frequency Trading, which normally co-locates hardware in the exchange data centre and connects to their core network. Any leased line is extremely short (between two routers in a rack).

I was talking about near real time reporting and recording, where a single exchange can produce hundreds of thousands of messages per second, which needed to be converted to a standard format and merged with the converted message traffic for all other supported exchanges. Industrial quantities of data here.

Steve Todd Silver badge

Re: Emergeny calls

Not quite sure I take your point. You can still lease a line, but the data will be in IP format. You’ll get low latency and guaranteed throughput, at speeds up to gigabits/second. I spent some time working for a company that took real time feeds from stock exchanges around the word. That was all in UDP packets over leased lines, and the biggest overhead was in decoding the messages.

Steve Todd Silver badge

Re: Emergeny calls

It’s easy enough to wrap any simple serial protocol up into (encrypted if needed) IP packets. Take a look at the TELNET protocol as an example, giving you the equivalent of a dial-up connection over IP. The hardware needed to present to an external device as the old-fashioned interface is dirt cheap (ESP32 microcontrollers for example, at about $4 a pop).

This better not be a cruel prank: Microsoft promises 99.99% uptime for Azure Active Directory from 1 April

Steve Todd Silver badge

Re: Four 9’s on a 24x7 system is pretty poor

Math error (99.99% != 0.99), withdrawn.

Assembly language, arcade games, and YouTube: The Reg speaks to former Microsoft engineer Dave Plummer

Steve Todd Silver badge

Re: One fan here

Hmm, must be a different channel from the embedded Tempest video. He hasn’t posted anything there for 2 years and has only 108 subscribers.

Cats: Not a fan favourite when the critters are draped around an office packed with tech

Steve Todd Silver badge

Re: Heat detector

One of ours is convinced that the best place to lay down when she wants my attention is on top of my work’s laptop. After she managed to lock my account out by stomping up and down on the keyboard I now use an external keyboard, mouse and screen. The laptop runs with its lid closed, and she’s still happy to sit on it.

HP bows to pressure, reinstates free monthly ink plan... for existing customers

Steve Todd Silver badge

How many pages does a HP cartridge last these days?

At 15 pages per month or less that should be a couple of years at least between replacements. Maybe 1 free set of cartridges in the lifetime of the printer.

Supreme Court mulls whether a cop looking up a license plate for cash is equivalent to watching Instagram at work

Steve Todd Silver badge

Re: Why case law?

You need to remember that most lawmakers are lawyers. It’s a job creation process. They want the original language to be vague to catch as many cases as they can, and having to trawl through case law creates more work for their brethren.

Apple to halve commission for developers turning over up to $1m in sales via App Store

Steve Todd Silver badge

Re: Sorry but you're wrong...

You’re only partially right also. Apple threatened to revoke the developer keys for UE, but was restrained from doing so. See https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_asset/file/21949772/gov.uscourts.cand.364265.118.0.pdf

The UE was never in the App Store, and revoking its keys would not have blocked any app that was currently using it. The problem would have been releasing fixes/patches to it.

Steve Todd Silver badge

“ Apple then kicked Epic out of the App Store with immediate effect – instead of the typical fortnight grace period – and revoked the Unreal Engine dev tool.”

Erm, no. There isn’t a grace period if you release code through the App Store which is found to be deliberately breaking the terms of service (Epic activated a feature post release that broke TOS). Neither was the Unreal Engine pulled. Epic made a fuss about UE, but it was never an App Store product and was developed under a different account.

Who among you can resist an eight-core, 2.9GHz mini-PC or thin client that drives four displays?

Steve Todd Silver badge

Re: Price is key

I’m not sure a 4th gen i3 can manage 4K60 either.

Steve Todd Silver badge

Re: NUC killer?

At between 10 and 54W TDP I doubt that it can be purely passively cooled. It should however make a decent mini-PC.

Steve Todd Silver badge

Re: Not really embedded ready

Probably the wrong class of processor to be looking at for real time work. ANY CPU that relies on large caches for main memory that runs at a fraction of its speed is going to have some degree of jitter. This is why ARM have their A series application processors, M series for microcontrollers and R series for real time work.

Steve Todd Silver badge

Re: Dangerous Times For Intel

It’s a little more complex than that. Intel 10nm is about as dense as TSMC 7nm, but they can’t get it to yield well, which is why they are stuck on 14nm for most large chips. Intel 7nm should compete with TSMC 5nm, if they can get it to work properly.

Intel are promising CPUs competitive to Zen 3 in early 2021 (abet only up to 8 core). It’s likely to be an uphill slog for them to regain the lead fully, especially if AMD keep executing at the same rate. It’s good for the industry though to have such competition in place.

FYI: Someone wants to launch mobile broadband satellites into space used by scientific craft – and NASA's not happy

Steve Todd Silver badge
Stop

You do realise ...

That GPS satellites live in a medium orbit, roughly 12,000 miles above these low orbit coms satellites. There’s no way that a collision in low orbit is going to effect them.

Steve Todd Silver badge

Materials science being the other problem. Nothing comes close to being strong enough and light enough, never mind being able to make a cable of it long enough to do the job.

You only live twice: Once to start the installation, and the other time to finish it off

Steve Todd Silver badge

Re: Fairly Frequent Flier

A number of years back I was helping a friend ferry a light aircraft down from the US to the Caribbean. I was down as P2 (copilot), and after we had landed at St Martin had taken my life vest with me to the hotel (life vests being compulsory equipment for single engined flight over water). It took a while to convince security to let me airside when I tried to return to the plane next morning (oddly things like life vests and life rafts count as dangerous goods and can’t be shipped as normal freight or carried in baggage).

Oracle starts to lose patience with Solaris holdouts

Steve Todd Silver badge

Re: Why?

Is 10 year old SPARC hardware worth hanging on to though? You would have thought that 10 years worth of development and improvements would have resulted in commodity X86 machines that outpace it with lower capital and operating costs.

Intel celebrates security of Ice Lake Xeon processors, so far impervious to any threat due to their unavailability

Steve Todd Silver badge

More signs that Intel marketing

Is bricking it in the face of AMDs competition. “Here, we have this upcoming processor that you can’t buy right now that fixes all these problems. Please ignore the fact that the competition will sell you one now that doesn’t have them, is cheaper and faster”

Steve Todd Silver badge

Re: "PRF relies on an FPGA as the platform root of trust"

FPGAs can be set to only boot from an encrypted bit stream, so you can trust the source of that and detect tampering. Bugs *have* been found in older FPGAs implementation of this, but as it is needed to protect clients IP and has been around for a while, you can be sure it’s pretty solid by now.

Third time's still the charm: AMD touts Zen-3-based Ryzen 5000 line, says it will 'deliver absolute leadership in x86'

Steve Todd Silver badge

Re: Well done AMD

AMD have said that this is the last generation to support the AM4 socket, but then it’s going to be at least 12 months before Zen4 and the next socket (presumably AM5).

Steve Todd Silver badge

Re: Why skip a number series?

They made a b*lls up with the marketing of the Zen2 mobile processors by calling them the 4000 series. At least they didn’t compound that by naming Zen3 CPUs in that range, and their naming is very much clearer than the mess that is Intel’s.

The 4000 series naming is fairly clear, with U series being standard low power, H series being high performance and HS being slightly slower than H, but being designed for compact chassis. Trying to mix much higher performance desktop SKUs, with a different CPU architecture, into the same range wouldn’t have helped.

Steve Todd Silver badge

Re: Hold up..

You realise that SMT is good only when you have a cache miss. The core can then suspend work on the current thread and work on another. SMT 4 and 8 only make sense when you’re working with huge data sets that cause many cache misses. As it is you only get about a 30% gain from SMT 2 on these desktop class CPUs with SMT 2, so you’re better off with 6 single threaded cores as opposed to 4 SMT.

Heads up: From 2022, all new top-end Arm Cortex-A CPU cores for phones, slabtops will be 64-bit-only, snub 32-bit

Steve Todd Silver badge

Re: Presumably also less power usage ...

Not necessarily. Most modern CPUs turn off the power to bits they aren’t using, so the whole 32 bit subsystem could draw no power while running 64 bit code.

Big Tech to face its Ma Bell moment? US House Dems demand break-up of 'monopolists' Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google

Steve Todd Silver badge

Re: “the decline of trustworthy sources of news"

I think you can safely say that there isn’t a non-partisan source of news, not that it’s Democrat only (there seem to be plenty of sources that have a heavy Republican bias, or even further to the right). Saying that, even the Democrats are right wing compared to most european parties.

Steve Todd Silver badge

Re: “the decline of trustworthy sources of news"

My experience while holidaying in the US is that their idea of international news is what’s happening in other US states. They have very little idea of what’s happened in the rest of the world.

GitLab scans its customers' source code, finds it's as fragile as you'd expect

Steve Todd Silver badge

Re: Fragile source code

If you think Agile means that, you’re doing it wrong. It’s perfectly possible to be Agile and still produce code tested to the n-th degree. What it defines is an iterative approach where small batches of work are completed, tested and demonstrated to the users. Their feedback then goes into future cycles. Individual sprints may not be perfect, but they shouldn’t be released to the users.

In my experience very few companies use the methodology correctly, but stick the name on some bastardised version that looks closer to Waterfall.

Apple seeks damages from recycling firm that didn't damage its devices: 100,000 iThings 'resold' rather than broken up as expected

Steve Todd Silver badge

Re: Sickening

Erm, Apple DO offer reconditioned stock for sale (take a look at their web store sometime), plus they replace BER kit in for repair with recond kit also. Older models that are out of support however...

Institute of Directors survey says most bosses expect no mass return to the office if COVID-19 crisis ever ends

Steve Todd Silver badge

Re: As it could have been done *decades* ago

RDP may have been there since 2001, but the internet infrastructure to allow large numbers of remote workers wasn’t. You need fast and economical connections at both ends to make it work.

India shows off new home-grown CPU – but at 100MHz, 32-bit and 180nm, it’s a bit of a clunker

Steve Todd Silver badge

And how many of those

Are still british owned, and building in quality?

Robot wars! Scandi automation biz AutoStore slings patent sueball, claims it owns Ocado warehouse tech

Steve Todd Silver badge

If only Ocado

Could write packing code worth a damn. In my experience they ignore instructions not to pack meat with fresh food (e.g. fruit), put heavy items on top of deformable items (like bottles on top of bread), don’t pack items prone to leakage separately (liquid soap bottles for example), and are completely irrational about what they do pack in their specialty sealed packs (boxes of cat food?).

Hydrogen-powered train tested on Britain's railway tracks as diesel alternative

Steve Todd Silver badge
Stop

Re: So the UK has a working fusion reactor ?

Erm, have you looked at the UK spread of generating capacity recently? There have been months at a time when coal wasn’t in the mix at all.

Steve Todd Silver badge

What about producing the hydrogen?

Your own PDF shows that a fuel cell can reach 60% efficiency. To produce that hydrogen from water loses you more power - taking this (very optimistic) as true, and ignoring the cost of compressing the gas to 350 BAR for storage and any other losses, that’s 80% efficient, so in combination 48% energy out compared to energy in. Add in the factors I mentioned and you’re closer to 40%.

https://www.carboncommentary.com/blog/2017/7/5/hydrogen-made-by-the-electrolysis-of-water-is-now-cost-competitive-and-gives-us-another-building-block-for-the-low-carbon-economy

Steve Todd Silver badge

Re: Not as green as 25kv overhead

The problem with that idea is that it costs energy to break the bond with the carbon atom. You may as well have sent electricity over power lines than pumped hydrogen gas in whatever form, the losses involved are much lower.

Steve Todd Silver badge

Re: Not as green as 25kv overhead

Natural gas is easy in comparison to hydrogen. The problem with hydrogen is that the molecules are so small that they can pass through just about any material used to enclose them. It also is quite reactive (which is why you don’t find pure Hydrogen on earth in nature - it has always reacted with something else). Natural gas is hydrogen bonded to carbon, which both helps stabilise it and forms a much larger molecule that can be contained with much less trouble.

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