* Posts by Ian Johnston

1040 posts • joined 28 Sep 2007


Russia's Pirs ISS module scheduled to fall away, much like Moscow's interest in the space station

Ian Johnston Silver badge

Re: With a whimper, not a bang

China has masterfully exploited the greed of Western corporations by providing them with cheap labour and factories, while at the same time learning all the technology and R&D that the US put decades of effort to.

Though let's not forget that the US obtained much of its space technology from the Third Reich.

Hundreds of irate UK Parliamentary staffers sue IPSA over 2017 salary spreadsheet publication snafu

Ian Johnston Silver badge

Although the judge criticised the PA for its refusal to go along with this demand, it is common sense that you can't avoid naming someone without knowing precisely which names to leave out of reporting.

This has always worried me about superinjunctions. If the existence of an injunction is secret, how do we know what not to say about whom?

Engineers' Laurel and Hardy moment caused British Airways 787 to take an accidental knee

Ian Johnston Silver badge

Are we sure this was a Boeing and not a Rutland Reindeer?

Revealed: Why Windows Task Manager took a cuddlier approach to (process) death and destruction

Ian Johnston Silver badge

Anyone else remember "Windows for Weegies", which replaced "Yes/No/Cancel" in dialogue boxes with the much more Glaswegian "Aye/Naw/Fuck Off"?

"My Documents" became "A' ma shite" and "The Internet" became "Porn an' stuff",

Ian Johnston Silver badge

Re: Why so long?

My Xubuntu setup takes an age to shut down because it disconnects the network before trying to unmount the network drives. Nice one, guys.

This always-on culture we're in is awful. How do we stop it? Oh, sorry, hold on – just had another notification

Ian Johnston Silver badge

I have a proper, grown up professional contract which means that I have no set working hours; I just have to get the job done. The French scheme would be completely impractical for me and my professional colleagues because none of us knows when the others are working and so it would be damn nearly impossible to send a group email when all the recipients were working.

As so often with EU legislation, what looks worker friendly is anything but. It's really an attempt to get everyone to work 9-5.

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

Ian Johnston Silver badge

Re: Reminds me...

The three most useless things on a ship: (1) an umbrella (2) a bicycle (3) a Royal Navy officer.

Mensa data spillage was due to 'unauthorised internal download'

Ian Johnston Silver badge

Re: Wow

Her main problem would appear to be that she thinks reading three standard books in a subject is enough to qualify her to lecture about it. No wonder she can't hold down a job.

Inventor of the graphite anode – key Li-ion battery tech – says he can now charge an electric car in 10 minutes

Ian Johnston Silver badge

If I was an electric car maker - and there are probably good reasons why I am not - I would sell cars with a 100 mile range battery (big enough for most commutes a and local trips) but make provision for a further 300+ miles' worth which could be rented by the week for holidays and other long trips. Of course some people would want the long range from the start, but most people don't need it.

Ian Johnston Silver badge

Ten minutes for 800 miles? A Tesla 3 Long Range has a 75 kWh battery and a certified range of 353 miles. Assuming that motor design and aerodynamics don't do anything startling, that means 170 kWh for 800 miles, which over 10 minutes is just a shade over 1 MW. That's ... quite a lot of power. Using 415V 3-phase AC, it's 1500A. Using a typical 600V DC fast charger, it's 1700A

In short, getting the power to the charger will be an issue and getting the power from the charger to the car will be a HUGE issue.

UK.gov's new single enforcement body does not cover rogue umbrella companies, contractor campaigners complain

Ian Johnston Silver badge

It's a little hard to feel sympathy for those being ripped off by systems they set up to avoid paying their fair share of tax and NI. It's like people who call the cops because the drugs they bought weren't of sufficiently high quality. Play silly games, win silly prizes.

Apple settles with student after authorized repair workers leaked her naked pics to her Facebook page

Ian Johnston Silver badge

Re: In before . . .

"Victim" is not a boolean variable. Some victims aren't to blame, sure, but some are partly or wholly to blame for what happens to them. Easy example: the courts decided that George Zimmerman was entitled to defend himself with lethal force against Trayvon Martin. Do you think that he, as a victim, was entirely blameless?

The server is down, money is not being made, and you want me to fix what?

Ian Johnston Silver badge

Every time I have to plug in a 3.5mm jack to something with multiple ports, it's like I'm in some kind of quantum hell. It's just random whether I get the right one or not.

And if you're using Linux, the effects will be completely random as well.

Tried to make an import Zoom call with Xubuntu yesterday. Previous one worked fine. For important one, the system would only let Zoom choose the webcam as microphone, but would only show input from the actual microphone.

BOFH: But we think the UK tax authorities would be VERY interested in how we used COVID support packages

Ian Johnston Silver badge

Re: Special Compliance

Their investigators were seriously impressive people, backed up by a bunch of ex-services personnel whose job was to stand behind the investigators looking Very Big And Scary during interviews.

Though of course if you were lucky you got Call-Me-Dave and a few billion written off instead.

NASA to return to the Moon by 2024. One problem with that, says watchdog: All of it

Ian Johnston Silver badge

Re: Get real.

Agreed. Apollo cost 2.5% of GDP, on average, for ten years. That would be $500bn per year at the moment, which sounds like a lot until you remember that the US spends half as much again on its military.

SOP for NASA for decades seems to have been "Announce new launch system, with grandiose plans. Make half hearted efforts to implement it. Cancel. Lather, repeat". It's now forty years since they introduced a human carrying vehicle and ten years since they had one working.

The Audacity: Audio tool finds new and exciting ways to annoy contributors with a Contributor License Agreement

Ian Johnston Silver badge

Since similar damage is being done at Musescore, I expect/hope that will fork as well.

Who gave dusty Soviet-era spacecraft that unwanted lick of paint? It was an idiot, with a spraycan, in Baikonur

Ian Johnston Silver badge

Re: Soviet tech..

In many ways the Buran was better than the Space Shuttle.

Tesla owners win legal fight after software update crippled older Model S batteries

Ian Johnston Silver badge

Re: Carbon neutral

I'm getting a lift with my next door neighbour later today. She has a car (obviously) and an electricity supply. However, since the electricity supply is in her 1st floor flat, and the car lives in whichever space she can find along 200m of residents' parking spaces, charging an EV would be a whisker difficult.

So she has a petrol car. No petrol pump, true, but since recharging with petrol takes about 3 minutes, that's not really an issue.

All that Lego has a purpose: Researchers find that spatial memory improves kids' mathematical powers

Ian Johnston Silver badge

Before getting all excited by this, I would like to know how, exactly, they defined "maths". Just arithmetic?

NASA ups price of a private stay aboard the ISS to reflect true expense of keeping tourists alive in space

Ian Johnston Silver badge

Re: Why bother?

Why bother going to space, it's just a bunch of big empty nothingness.

To be fair, so is Swindon - and lots of people go there.

'A massive middle finger': Open-source audio fans up in arms after Audacity opts to add telemetry capture

Ian Johnston Silver badge

Re: Good idea, badly communicated and implemented

I'm also a long-time MuseScore user. I was happy enough to throw them a few quid every so often when they were volunteers, but I'm damned if I'll line the pockets of the greedy bastards at Ultimate Guitar.

Audacity 'scared and excited' to be bought and brought under Muse Group's roof, promises to stay free and open source

Ian Johnston Silver badge

Re: Is this good news?

In the case of Musescore they cashed in by making subscription-only all the thousands of scores which had been created and submitted for free by users of musescore.com. "Evil bastards" doesn't begin to describe these people. Audacity is fucked.

39 Post Office convictions quashed after Fujitsu evidence about Horizon IT platform called into question

Ian Johnston Silver badge

For all the blame heaped on senior managers - and richly deserved - how many IT staff the the PO and Fujitsu knew of the problems and the false prosecutions and did precisely nothing about it? Dozens? Scores? Hundreds? Everyone from programmers to help desk staff must have know what was going on.

University duo thought it would be cool to sneak bad code into Linux as an experiment. Of course, it absolutely backfired

Ian Johnston Silver badge

Saying that is about as sensible as saying "at least it's not raining" at a picnic. Good luck.

Ian Johnston Silver badge

Could they not have kept quiet about it and smuggled in some working sound code? After all, nobody on the Linux kernel team ever looks at that side of things.

Elon Musk's SpaceX bags $3bn NASA contract to, fingers crossed, land first woman on the Moon

Ian Johnston Silver badge

Proof, if it were needed, that the concept of private-enterprise space flight is a myth. Without huge government funding, SpaceX would be nowhere.

Spy agency GCHQ told me Gmail's more secure than Microsoft 365, insists British MP as facepalming security bods tell him to zip it

Ian Johnston Silver badge

Re: Either or both secure or insecure?

ISO900n, like BS5750 before it, simply verifies that you can produce crap in a documented and repeatable way.

Quality control, Soviet style: Here's another fine message you've gotten me into

Ian Johnston Silver badge

An acquaintance of mine was called in to track down quality control problems at a Very Famous British Car Manufacturer. It took him one night to find the issue: the night shift, unsupervised by managers who did not deign to work after 5pm, were keeping one good bodyshell aside and putting it through the metrology system every time another one came off the line and was due to be tested. As a result every shell produced "passed" and went on to be fitted out, regardless of how bad it was.

'Imagine' if Virgin Galactic actually did sub-orbital tourism: Firm unveils new chrome job on SpaceShip III

Ian Johnston Silver badge

Re: Stunning!

I'm not terribly impressed, V-Gs first sub-orbital passengers have been ‘next year’ since 2007.

I reckon they're powered by nuclear fusion and controlled by Linux on the desktop.

Ian Johnston Silver badge

Re: Pigs in Space

Aren't these numbers evidence that we are not, as a species, particularly fascinated by space? Because if we were, a lot more of us would have gone, or be trying to go, there.

Canonical releases Ubuntu on Windows Preview with early builds, new tools for the brave

Ian Johnston Silver badge

Are we edging towards Windows as a shell on top of a Linux kernel? I rather hope so, if only to see how RMS reacts to "Windows/GNU/Linux" as a concept.

Island in the Stream: AlmaLinux project issues first stable release of CentOS replacement

Ian Johnston Silver badge

Great. because what's really needed is more Linux distributions, and here are another three. This really does look as if it will be the year of Linux on the desktop.

Scottish National Party members found among list of names signed up to rival Alba Party after website whoopsie

Ian Johnston Silver badge

Re: "Donald, where's your troosers?"

"In Glasgow, the word 'fucking' is just a general indication that a noun is on its way."

- Frankie Boyle

Red Hat pulls Free Software Foundation funding over Richard Stallman's return

Ian Johnston Silver badge

Twenty seven (as I write) upvotes for a claim that treating people equally and with respect is "woke fascism". How depressing.

Ian Johnston Silver badge

Re: He made the FSF, it’s fine for him to end it

What he's done is stuck by that ideal that his work is to be shared for the good of ALL.

Which is fine, if that's the way he wants it. His insistence that everybody else's work should be shared is a little more problematic.

Ian Johnston Silver badge

And if anyone knows about ideological purity, it's Stallman.

Ian Johnston Silver badge

Re: What were they thinking?

Was he invited to rejoin - by either the board or the membership as a whole - or did he just announce that he was rejoining and nobody felt able to say "no"?

What could possibly go wrong? Sublet your home broadband to strangers who totally won't commit crimes

Ian Johnston Silver badge

Re: Sounds “interesting”

Much the same happens with BT Internet here, though in my experience - before I went elsewhere - not many people enable the guest user service.

Keeping up the PECR: ICO fines two marketing text pests £330k for sending 2.6 million messages

Ian Johnston Silver badge

Re: Absurd pittance

It's not as if they are going to pay a penny of it anyway, so you might as well fine them a billion kajillion pounds.

Linus Torvalds issues early Linux Kernel update to fix swapfile SNAFU

Ian Johnston Silver badge

Re: swap space

Linux - or Ubuntu anyway - implements hibernation by writing RAM contents to swap, so it's worth having a swap file/partition if you do that. I have no idea what happens if you try to hibernate while using some virtual memory ...

The wrong guy: Backup outfit Spanning deleted my personal data, claims Cohesity field CTO

Ian Johnston Silver badge

Re: Such bad planning!

Terabytes stored ONLY in cloud backups?

If it was really backups, what's the problem? The original data must still be available to him. If it was only in the cloud it wasn't a backup.

Telecoms shack in the middle of Scotland put up for auction at £7,500

Ian Johnston Silver badge

Cairndow is where they keep the Old New Year.

Seagate UK customer stung by VAT on replacement drive shipped via the Netherlands

Ian Johnston Silver badge

Re: Should not have Netherlands VAT ...

You pay VAT on imports whether you bought the thing you are imported, received it as a birthday present, won it in a raffle or found it in a field.

Scottish rocketeers Orbex commission Europe's largest industrial 3D printer to crank out 35 engines a year

Ian Johnston Silver badge

Re: Suddenly..

Note: No Glaswegian would ever call it "The Clockwork Orange", which is a term used exclusively by London journalists. The Glasgow name for it was "The Subway", even though it became "The Underground" at electrification in the 30s. The name changed back recently, on the basis that if we hadn't accepted the new name after eighty years we probably weren't going to.

SpaceX small print on Starlink insists no Earth government has authority or sovereignty over Martian activities

Ian Johnston Silver badge

Re: Remember 1776 ......

Sheer fantasy, I'm afraid. There is not the slightest prospect of Mars ever - let alone within a hundred years - having a settlement, economy or industry. There is nothing there worth going for and even at Space X rate the cost of getting a single person there is enormous. The Sahara and Antarctica would be better prospects for colonisation.

Isaac Asimov was a third rate writer, not a prophet. Sorry.

Ian Johnston Silver badge

Re: Remember 1776 ......

Once the colony is more than a couple of ship's worth of course, you start to get into an autonomous collective.

You're fooling yourself! We're living in a dictatorship! A self-perpetuating autocracy in which the working classes ...

Linux Mint users in hot water for being slow with security updates, running old versions

Ian Johnston Silver badge

You can't stop (or at least I can't stop) Firefox on Xubuntu from updating itself automatically. Could that not be implemented for Linux Mint?

Soviet 'Enigma' cipher machine sells for $22k at collapsed museum's exhibits auction

Ian Johnston Silver badge

Re: Instagrammable, interactive exhibits...

That's because the qualification for working in a museum now is a Masters in Museum Studies (actual title may vary) on top of a social science degree. Hardly any "curators" know anything about the exhibits other than how to arrange them to look pretty together. The National Museum of Scotland is bad for this, but the nadir is the truly appalling Riverside Museum in Glasgow, which is basically one of Zaha Hadid's awful buildings decorated with the contents of a closed museum. Nice to look at but God help you if you actually want to find out about anything.

When I was a student I went to a talk by the then director of the Science Museum and asked what I should do if I wanted a job there. "First get a doctorate in a science subject, then call us" was his reply. How times have changed.

Happy birthday, Python, you're 30 years old this week: Easy to learn, and the right tool at the right time

Ian Johnston Silver badge

I have just had the fun of upgrading a desktop PC from Xubuntu 18.04LTS to 20.04LTS and watching packages fail left, right and centre because it's now Python3 only. What on earth possessed the Python community to think that breaking everything was a good idea?

Texas blacks out, freezes, and even stops sending juice to semiconductor plants. During a global silicon shortage

Ian Johnston Silver badge

You do realize that the latitude of Austin Texas is lower than any point in Europe, I assume.

And Moscow is on almost exactly the same latitude as Berwick-up-Tweed. Latitude is only one factor influencing climate: Texas is so big that it has eight different climate types: see https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2d/Texas_K%C3%B6ppen.svg



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