* Posts by Ian Johnston

2254 publicly visible posts • joined 28 Sep 2007

Search for phone signal caused oil spill, say Japanese investigators

Ian Johnston Silver badge

Reminiscent of the yacht which ran aground, terminally, on a well charted reef off South Africa during the 2017 Clipper Round the World Race (aka Death Race 2017, since they killed two paying participants). The navigator hadn't bothered to zoom in to check whether there was anything worth worrying about ahead of them.

Lost your luggage? That's nothing – we just lost your whole flight!

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Aircraft Landing In Tokyo, All Luggage In Amsterdam?

ASUS's Zenbook S 13 is light, fast, and immediately impressive

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"Large bottomed bezels make the world go round" - F. Mercury

Beta driver turned heads in the hospital

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Sorry, Reg, but this has to be the most boring "On Call" story ever. No disasters, explosions, arguments, shutdowns, just "a staff member wanted to use his monitor in both modes so I asked the makers, got a beta driver and everyone was happy".

Mozilla's midlife crisis has taken it from web pioneer to Google's weird neighbor

Ian Johnston Silver badge

I don't use Firefox because I find it needs more resource than Chrome, it's slower to start, it can't do some websites and it still has fucking separate URL and search boxes, like we had a hundred years ago. I keep it around because very, very occasionally it is useful for a website which doesn't play nice with Chrome, or possibly with UBlock Origin.

Ian Johnston Silver badge

Firefox remains a powerful, capable, fast, and resource-efficient browser.

Well, perhaps. However, I note in passing that displaying a single tab with this Reg article requires 35% more memory with Firefox than with Chrome under Linux Mint.

Raspberry Pi 5 revealed, and it should satisfy your need for speed

Ian Johnston Silver badge

Meanwhile, I have just given Morgan Computers (anyone else remember their original Morgan Camera Company shop on Tottenham Court Road?) seventy quid for a second-hand HP PC with 3GHz quad core processor, 8GB RAM, a 256GB SSD and lots of connectors, including audio.

NYC rights groups say no to grocery store spycams and snooping landlords

Ian Johnston Silver badge

I wish Amnesty had stuck to their original role of campaigning neutral for political prisoners, rather than becoming rentagob bandwagon-jumpers for any civil rights issue. Presumably there is more money in it for their high-ups this way.

Switch to hit the fan as BT begins prep ahead of analog phone sunset

Ian Johnston Silver badge

Re: I want to know the equipment...

Sound like the situation in Germany, where my relatives were transferred to VOIP by Deutsche Telekom ten years or so ago. All that means was that they got a broadband router supplied which doesn;t do broadband but has their (DECT) POTS phone plugged into the back. And life continued exactly as it was.

Ian Johnston Silver badge

I built a UPS which supplies the ONT, my router, my VOIP box and my file server. We have fairly frequent power cuts in SW Scotland, and it just smiles at them and carries on. The two 7Ah batteries inside should only be good for about three hours or so, but if necessary I can add a couple of car batteries to keep it going for a day or more.

Bids for ISS demolition rights are now open, NASA declares

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Re: A better alternative

It's counterintuitive but to drop stuff down into the sun means cancelling out the Earth's orbital speed around the sun - which is a lot of energy

Also, you have ti do that really accurately, because conservation of angular momentum means that it's really easy to miss the sun, and have your object whang back the way it came. Just one of the many reasons we don't fire nuclear waste or Donald Trump into the sun.

Ukraine accuses Russian spies of hunting for war-crime info on its servers

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Re: Sounds like a great place to dump

This clone ... how old was it?

NASA's Mars Sample Return mission is in danger of never launching

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Re: Perspective

$877bn last year, so you were only a bit low. $2.4bn per day.

Mixin suspends deposits and withdrawals after $200m cryptocurrency heist

Ian Johnston Silver badge

Heist n. (cryptocurrency) Removal of assets by outsiders before the custodians of these assets can steal them.

Google killing Basic HTML version of Gmail In January 2024

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Re: What happend to...

I refuse to read any document printed in proportionally spaced fonts.

OSIRIS-REx successfully delivers NASA's first asteroid sample

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Meanwhile, religion worries about pronouns.

Europe wants easy default browser selection screens. Mozilla is already sounding the alarm on dirty tricks

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I did not. Firefox under Linux is a pain in the arse: slow to load and very resource hungry. Chrome is much faster and easier to run. I used to use Chromium until they removed the sync option.

It hasn't always been like this. Firefox was much better than Chrome at one point, after they fixed its old memory leaks, but they blew it about three years ago and it went crap again.

Ian Johnston Silver badge

Up to a point, but calling programs "Web" and "Files" when there are loads of web browsers and file managers around is just daft.

Ian Johnston Silver badge

I like browser choice. I run a mixture of Linux Mint and Xubuntu, and the first thing I do with a new install is add Chrome to avoid the bloat, ugly, resource-hungry nightmare of Firefox.

Ian Johnston Silver badge

The GNOME idiots have tried that, renaming their Epiphany browser "Web" and their Nautilus file manager "Files". Confusing, ambiguous and further examples of the arrogance which pervades the project.

Lawsuit claims Google Maps led dad of two over collapsed bridge to his death

Ian Johnston Silver badge

Re: Were there no signs indicating that the Bridge was out?

On a road with no warning signs or barriers of any kind (this is the bit that is incomprehensible to me!) why would you immediately assume that you were driving towards a collapsed bridge?

You wouldn't. But if you were a competent driver you would be prepared for the possibility that a sheep, pedestrian, cyclist or other obstruction was on the bridge (which you have specified you can't actually see) and slow down in case you have to stop.

Data breach reveals distressing info: People who order pineapple on pizza

Ian Johnston Silver badge

What's your take on Marmite on sushi?

That if someone likes it, it's none of my friggin' business.

Ian Johnston Silver badge

Re: Having grown up in Hawaii

If it was, what business would it be of yours?

Ian Johnston Silver badge

Re: Having grown up in Hawaii

OK, so you don't like it. Don't order it. Why to do care, as you seem to, if other people do like it? Who, in short, died and made you the arbiter of pizza propriety?

Ian Johnston Silver badge

Why the hell does it matter to anyone what other people have on their pizza?

GNU turns 40: Stallman's baby still not ready for prime time, but hey, there's cake

Ian Johnston Silver badge

Linux will become problematic. In fact, it's already a problem, but nobody likes to admit it. 30+ million lines of code and by all accounts only two people (Linus himself and Greg Kroah-Hartman) have a deep grasp of how it all hangs together. When they retire, get Alzheimer's (they're both about 53ish) or get hit by a bus, the whole project is in even more trouble than a vast structure which doubles in size every five years already is.

And that, of course, is if Poettering doesn't succeed in destroying it from the inside first.

Personally, I'm hoping that Haiku succeeds, because BeOS was excellent.

Ian Johnston Silver badge

Re: A Complicated Man

Yup, that's definitely one of the issues. But then, the fundamental problem with libertarianism is that enforcing and maintaining it requires one of the most restrictive and intrusive systems of government ever suggested.

"Free as in speech" is an easy catchphrase which appeals to the dim libertarian right, but is actually of very little use when applied to software, because government restrictions on softwaring aren't the issue. Try performing a modified version of Beckett's "Endgame" for a paying audience and see how far a claim that free speech gives you the right to modify someone else's work for profit gets you.

Ian Johnston Silver badge

Re: A Complicated Man

If only it were so simple. There are currently over 80 open source licences in use. That doesn't help.

Ian Johnston Silver badge

Re: A Complicated Man

But, again, that doesn't change the fact that he has had a pretty outsized impact on the computing world.

I would suggest that his obsession with a very narrow definition of "free" and the multiple holy wars which have been started and maintained as a result, have done more to hinder the adoption of open source software than anything else. GNU/Linux my arse.

UK Online Safety Bill to become law – and encryption busting clause is still there

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Re: Why?

Since it can't and won't be done, the question is really "Which bunch of incompetents will waste more money trying?"

Ian Johnston Silver badge

... Michelle Donelan told newswire Reuters shortly after this that the government would, if necessary, require tech platforms to "work to develop technology to scan encrypted messages as a last resort."

Just what the governments of Iran, Russia, China, Belarus and every other despotic country would like. Because if you can scan for stuff the UK government doesn't like (CSAM, for now) you can scan for things other governments don't like. Pictures of Tiananmen square, gay dating messages, reports from Ukraine, that sort of thing.

Oracle at Europe's largest council didn't foresee bankruptcy

Ian Johnston Silver badge

The thing which gets me most about this is the council leader saying that he didn't see this coming, which is why he was on holiday when the CFO - entirely properly - issued the Section 114 notice.

Shouldn't the leader of an organisation of that size, or indeed of a parish council, have a fair idea that it was in some financial trouble?

Ian Johnston Silver badge

Re: I feel for them

Indeed tax is not voluntary.

It is if you are rich enough. See also: "compliance with the law".

Ian Johnston Silver badge

All you are really saying there is "Things which men traditionally do are worth more than things that women traditionally do" with some handwaving about bad weather to justify it.

"The BBC have reported that at the time that these women were working for Birmingham City Council, the annual salary of a female manual grade 2 worker was £11,127, while the equivalent male salary was £30,599, plus an additional bonus of up to £15,000 per year." (here

Judge sides with Meta and Google, puts California child privacy law on hold

Ian Johnston Silver badge

Re: Imagine

Summary: "Won't somebody please think of the children?"

Australia to build six 'cyber shields' to defend its shores

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This will be the same Australia which keeps trying - and failing, miserably - to censor the internet, will it?

Getting to the bottom of BMW's pay-as-you-toast subscription failure

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If you pull something, it can only possibly come towards you.

Not true Sailing boats cheerfully move at 90 degrees to the force on the sails. It's all a matter of resolving components.

Ian Johnston Silver badge

Up to a point. I still have a shelf full of the special tools needed to change wheel bearings and king pins on a 2CV, and having to remove the fan to set the points was not clever.

Probe reveals previously secret Israeli spyware that infects targets via ads

Ian Johnston Silver badge

Re: Pathetic Apathy is as Pathetic Apathy does.

It's the bursar who needs the dried frog pills, not the Dean

Greater Manchester Police ransomware attack another classic demo of supply chain challenges

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Re: Outsourcing

It seems unlike that (a) each police force has a different supplier and (b) each supplier has different security standards for different clients. Conclusion: once the Bad People got inside they downloaded a whole bunch of <policeforce>.xls files which they are now releasing one at a time.

Apple's iPhone 12 woes spread as Belgium, Germany, Netherlands weigh in

Ian Johnston Silver badge

It sounds as if the "5G is a conspiracy to read our minds" nutters have gained some traction with MEPs.

Portable Large Language Models – not the iPhone 15 – are the future of the smartphone

Ian Johnston Silver badge

they will continuously improve themselves to represent more accurately our states of mind, body, and finances

How in blue blazes is my phone supposed to represent my state of mind, body and finances? I strongly suspect whoever wrote that was gettingvery excited about NFTs a couple of years ago,

UK government awards chunk of mega-billions tech framework

Ian Johnston Silver badge

It's going to go wrong, isn't it?

Apple races to patch the latest zero-day iPhone exploit

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Just how many insiders does NSO Group have at Apple, installing backdoors as fast as researchers can find them?

22 million Brits suffer broadband outage blues and are paying a premium for it

Ian Johnston Silver badge

Re: Big city not always better...

I have 58Mbps in a flat in Edinburgh. Rock solid, and quite enough for anything I need, which is quite frequently two of us on videoconferencing at the same time.

Kyndryl bags short-lived HMRC mainframe contract

Ian Johnston Silver badge

Those ten million aren't non-taxpayers; they are the ones who aren't being served by the system. Though frankly I'd be surprised if HMRC was only screwing over 10 million of us.

GNOME 45 formalizes extensions module system

Ian Johnston Silver badge

GNOME Shell is quite locked down, which helps the project develop and preserve its strong visual brand.

So basically "Fuck you, lusers. It's more important that we maintain our strong visual brand than that you get to use your computer as you want."

If their string visual brand was any good, users wouldn't want to change it.

Largest local government body in Europe goes under amid Oracle disaster

Ian Johnston Silver badge

There are about 100,000 people in the Woking Council area, so that's a mere £26,000 each for them to stump up. After all, they elected the idiots and wouldn't have returned the money if the investments had turned out to be profitable. A one-off 10% wealth tax on the value of houses should cover it, more or less.

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A four hour glitch after decades of reliable running?

Ian Johnston Silver badge

Re: Great job!

Because everything is going so well with the Tories in charge?