* Posts by Ian K

263 posts • joined 29 Oct 2007


IoT biz Insteon goes silent, smart home gear plays dumb

Ian K

Re: I'll allow myself a smug grin

> As far as I am aware the Z-Wave and Zigbee kit works with local controllers that don't need an internet connection to work.

In principle (not sure how often it happens in practice) Z-Wave meshes can be set up where devices only talk to each other (a button directly communicates with and toggles a switch, for example) can be set up, with no need for a central controller at all.

Usually Z-Wave and Zigbee meshes will have a central hub which manages rules and ties everything together. Whether this hub farms all the rule storage and processing out to the cloud, handles everything internally and requires no cloud connectivity at all, or is somewhere in between, varies according to the system.

Arms not long enough to reach the plug socket? Room-wide wireless charging is on the way

Ian K

Re: Inverse Square law anyone?

1) What is the geometry the inverse square law applies to?

2) What is the geometry of the room and its emitters?

3) Where should the apostrophe go in "from fools wallets"?

Ian K

Re: "...37 per cent efficiency..."

"Integrated device charging and central heating system."

Even better, make it a personal rather than central heating system. Each individual in the room gets their position tracked, and their very own zone of RF-induced heat.

Plus, extra bonus from early systems while the bugs are still being worked out - return to the traditional Dickensian feature of occasional random spontaneous human combustion!

Ian K
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Re: Repurpose as insect zapper?

And/or keep drinks hot?

Ian K

Re: Inverse square law

So you're claiming what? That the laws of physics prevent renewable power, electric vehicles and this article's wireless charging system?

Despite examples of all of them actually existing, and > 20% of the UK's energy having come from renewable sources last year?

You might want to look at the differences between something being non-trivial to implement and actually physically impossible before banging on about post-truths.

I was fired for telling ICO of Serco track and trace data breach, claims sacked worker

Ian K

"Messi had been employed by Jackpotcomics Ltd"

Because "Jackpotcomics Ltd" sounds like exactly the sort of company you'd want to bring in to handle important health issues.

What a time for a TITSUP*: Santander down and out on pre-Bank Holiday payday

Ian K


While I hesitate to say anything that could be construed as defending Santander, in the interests of fairness the article doesn't say that this outage was down to any sort of upgrade, let alone one to a critical system.

It does mention a fairly generic promise to upgrade systems, made in the last financial report, but there's nothing to say when that actually happened/will happen.

Ex-eBay security execs among six charged with harassing, threatening bloggers who dared criticize web tat souk

Ian K
Big Brother

A common problem

That Mitchell and Webb Look Evil Genius:


Sometimes shining a light on a nuclear problem just makes things worse

Ian K

Re: Solved by a stroke of sheer luck

To be fair to "Pete" there's no indication from the article that he was stymied by the problem, or even that he'd got very far into troubleshooting after getting the diagnostics running. There's every chance that checking the integrity of the light shields was towards the top of his check list for investigating high readings from scintillation counters - Dud's theatrics simply gave him an early clue.

2 more degrees and it's lights out: Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix's toasty mobile bit barn

Ian K

Overly Server-tastic?

"...we take a data centre that supports a hundred or so users as domain controllers, SQL servers, file servers, Wi-Fi, Ethernet gigabit to all clients, around 200 devices, 100 or so virtualized servers."

That's more or less one server per user/2 devices - compartmentalising functionality is all well and good, but shurely a bit OTT?

Match.com? More like Match dot-con, claims watchdog: Cyber-lonely-hearts 'lured into forking out to view bot spam'

Ian K

Re: Why bother with a dating site?

>> find a bar, get shit face drunk, puke on the first woman you can get to

>Romance is not dead

Just lightly concussed.

My MacBook Woe: I got up close and personal with city's snatch'n'dash crooks (aka some bastard stole my laptop)

Ian K

Re: Lesson learned..

"Don't sit in a public place with no situational awareness and £1500 sitting in front of you."

You used the wrong icon. I think the one to the right's what you were looking for.

OK, Google, please do a half-hearted U-turn: Stay of execution for smart home APIs after Big G goes cuckoo in the Nest

Ian K

Re: So irrational hate.

Leaving your drama queen tendancies aside, you're also factually incorrect; from the very first Kindle you've been able to plug them into computers via USB cables, copy non-DRMed .mobi files on and immediately start reading them. None of your l33t jailbreaking needed.

Anything else you'd like to be wrong about?

'Lightweight' UPS-style flywheels to power naval laser zappers

Ian K

Re: My questions are...

"but I suppose they could be held down in the bilge and jettisoned if the ship is in moral peril."

Providing a valuable engineering foundation for future interstellar vessels, where "warp core breach imminent!" and "eject the warp core!" will be regular occurences.

'Occult' text from Buffy The Vampire Slayer ep actually just story about new bus lane in Dublin

Ian K

Am ignoring flame bait from Reg journo --->

Amid polar vortex... Honeywell gets frosty reception after remote smart thermostat tech freezes up for a week

Ian K

Re: IOT=Crap


I think you are missing the point. It is perfectly possible to have all these conveniences, to control your lights by voice or from a smartphone app, and all the other things, without the need to use the internet or someone else's server.

I don't think I am; I'm fully aware of the options for home automation, and have decided that for the time being at least the best balance of functionality and ease of use is to be found with some internet-based components.

That is why people on this forum are disparaging of IoT, it is unnecessarily complicated and prone to being made obsolete or unusable at the whim of the manufacturer or service provider, much more so than discrete electronics or equipment based on internal WiFi connections.

Hubs, and the external things that tie into them, may go obsolete; that's why all the in-house stuff we use here is based on a non-proprietary communication protocol. If one hub goes dark we can swtich to another, if they all die a death for some reason I'll get a Z-Wave module for the Pi, install the appropriate public domain packages and use that as the controller.

If you think that what has happened to the Honeywell thermostat is acceptable, then fine, carry on as you are, but understand that a lot of the technically minded people who post on the Reg have seen this coming for a long time, and it won't be the last time this happens.

I have to admit that I'm a little amused that you're presenting this as "the technically minded people" vs me - without going into details I really have got a fairly technical background myself. I've got no illusions about cloud-based systems being perfect, but find their flaws and potential future issues worth it for the advantages they provide.

As far as what I find acceptable goes, the original Reg article describes a problem where the control system's entirely functional locally, just not accessable remotely via the app - given that any remote system's going to be dependent on the house internet working, and probably my phone being on the internet too (so already vulnerable to several external points of failure), I'd say the Honeywell issue would be annoying but not a deal breaker.

Ian K

Re: IOT=Crap

This does the job for us - installed behind the lightswitch or in the ceiling rose, you hook the switch up to it then can control the light manually as well as via some Z-Wave-based system (so turning it off at the switch doesn't disable the controllable unit, as it would with an IoT bulb).


Advantages: Doesn't need a neutral line (most UK wall switches don't have one) - this is the only device of its type I've found that doesn't.

Disadvantages: Needs a deep backbox if installed behind the switch, may need an extra bypass unit for some bulb types, needs a Z-Wave hub.

Ian K

Re: IOT=Crap

We wouldn't trust an IoT lock either; as far as lights go, the auto-on outside lights make things significantly easier for us. The same goes for the motion sensor that turns on the dressing room light when you enter, the Nest thermostat we occasionally turn on and off remotely and the voice control on bedroom lights when we are feeling lazy and can't be arsed to stir ourselves.

None of it essential, all of it making things more convenient.

And, presumably, attracting a whole flurry of downvotes because it does seem that anything on the forums not condemning the IoT as the corporate tool of Satan, used solely by idiots, isn't very well received. I'll cope.

Ian K

Re: IOT=Crap

Previously we stumbled about in the dark with our hands full of carrier bags, unlocked the door, then could actually get to the switch.

Curse this modern neoliberal technology for making things easier!

Ian K

Re: IOT=Crap

kuiash: "All those Wifi enabled lightbulbs that serve no actual, practically useful purpose nor do they really help aesthetically."

Speak for yourself, don't claim to speak for everyone; we have IoT-based (not actually WiFi) lightbulbs and with appropriate rules set up they're damn useful for turning the lights on automatically as someone arrives home.

(House location makes regular IR sensor-type arrangements impractical, as bypassers mean it'd be turning on and off all night)

Holograms to Match of the Day: Huawei shindig shows 5G is still playing all things to all people

Ian K

What they're showing there isn't a hologram in any real sense, so it's probably just as well that they don't use the word more often.

Amazon Alexa outage: Voice-activated devices are down in UK and beyond

Ian K

Re: Proof the Cloud is about surveillance not practicality, its badly / wrongly designed for IoT

"A small French company called Snips has been working for years on private-by-design voice recognition. Voice commands are processed on the end user’s device, making the data transfer unnecessary."

Ironically when I tried to follow the link to Snips on the Bloomberg page I ran into a "Manage Options on using your data" setup so Byzantine and fiddly it simply wasn't worth the effort of working through it; on quick examination it seems to want you to have a login and go in to set things for each advertiser individually, and the page where you start doing that's hidden 4+ inobvious links down from the simple "Just let us have everything" option.

So, I still don't know what their opinion of Snips is, but let's just say I have my doubts that it can match the cloudy setups as far as both price, practicality and out-of-the-box performance are concerned.

It's been 5 years already, let's gawp at Microsoft and Nokia's bloodbath

Ian K

Re: Cruel

You say that like it's a bad thing.

Galileo, here we go again. My my, the Brits are gonna miss EU

Ian K

Minister for Defence Procurement, Guto Bebb

"Guto Bebb"?

'fess up Reg, you're sneaking in a Star Wars name and seeing if anyone notices.

The Splunk that got sunk: Log-lover ends support for mobile apps

Ian K
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Thanks to Duncan and Stu for the explanation!

Ian K

I know there's always Google, but...

...for unenlightened types like me it would have been nice for the article to give some small clue as to what Splunk is/does/sells.

After following the link to their web site I'm still not 100% sure - cloud services of some sort?

Sysadmin’s worst client was … his mother! Until his sister called for help

Ian K

Re: Me, mine, not the late mother or father, nor the wife

Handy punctuation tip; if you stop hitting the "." key after single press the ellipsis becomes a full stop, and you can end sentences ready to start a new one!

Boffins with frickin' laser beams chase universe's mysterious trihydrogen

Ian K

Power, not Energy

"The energy from the first laser pulse delivers a whopping 10^13 watts/cm2 in 35 millionths of a billionth of a second"

A watt's already a measure of energy applied in a period of time, so I'm pretty sure that should be "10^13 watts/cm2 for 35 millionths of a billionth of a second".

Unite: CSC UK set for 'jobs massacre' as 1,101 heads put on chopping block

Ian K

Re: It's just a IT joke...

If you have to explain it...

(This is El Reg; you actually don't...)

How Apple exploded Europe's crony capitalism

Ian K

Re: CRTs

An honourable mention for that goes to the film Runaway (1984) - they wanted their characters to use portable flat screens, but as you say that simply wasn't an option at the time. So they used "loose" CRTs filmed at angles where only the front of the screen was visible, and positioned as if they were being cradled in arms, resting on table tops, etc...

For the most part if worked reasonably well.

Hangouts hangs up on third party apps

Ian K

Re: This is why I rarely use anything Google

"It's also one of those things which is like "why take that away" - like when they took offline maps away (I use that every now and then)"

Offline maps vanished for a while, but came back some time ago - drop down the LHS menu on the app version and it's now called "Offline Areas".

Leaked paper suggests EM Drive tested by NASA actually works

Ian K

Re: It just might be low energy photons providing the thrust

Photons having momentum is first level undergrad stuff - I'd hope the NASA people would have discounted that when considering possible causes of observations.

Plus, at very best photons emitted back in the direction of incident light would replicate the behaviour of a reflective solar sail - as the engine allegedly gives twice as much thrust as that, presumably something else has to be a factor.

Labour's Jeremy Corbyn wants high speed broadband for all. Wow, original idea there

Ian K

While I was vehemently opposed to the mandatory ID card the last lot tried to bring in, I wouldn't automatically reject a voluntary system.

A lot would depend on just what information they wanted, and what they could do with it, but if it was limited to a simple "confirm identity, in similar situations as you already need to now, and nothing else" function I could see that being useful and not overly intrusive.

Touchy iPhone 6, 6 Plus chips prone to breaking down and giving up

Ian K

Re: Sale of goods act anyone?

"Apple gets to decide what's reasonable"

Not really; Apple can certainly say what it thinks is reasonable, as can the consumer.

If it goes to the [small claims] court, though, it's the judge that gets to decide what's really reasonable and Apple/the consumer have to go with that.

Nitwit has fit over twit hit: Troll takes timeless termination terribly

Ian K

Re: Not a single comment on the political censorship issue?

This wasn't political censorship, it was abusive fuckwit censorship. Applied by a private company, and only to their own messaging system.

Most people don't have a problem that.

Freeze, lastholes: USB-C and Thunderbolt are the ultimate physical ports

Ian K

Re: Even a broken clock etc. etc.

"It is also likely to remain so for the foreseeable future, file sizes and storage density having all but stagnated in the past decade."

File sizes I couldn't comment on, but HDD storage density has increased by roughly an order of magnitude over the last 10 years; that's hardly stagnation!

(Source: http://www.hindawi.com/journals/at/2013/521086/fig1/)

Florida man, Chinese biz fined $48k, $35m on mobe signal jam raps

Ian K

Re: Couldn't call in an emergency?

...would be affected.

5% of drivers want Nigel Farage to be their in-car robo butler

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Destroying ransomware business models is not your job, so just pay up

Ian K


"There is considerable risk here and all payments should be made with the expectation that crims will take the money and run."

Surely if the expectation is the scammers will take the money and run you shouldn't pay?

If you don't think you'll get the data back in any event then write it off as lost, and don't give your money away for no benefit.

At last: Ordnance Survey's map wizardry goes live

Ian K

Re: Link?

Although in a similar fashion you managed to say there was no link without going on to provide a link.

FWIW the new system can be found here:


Spinning rust fans reckon we'll have 18TB disk drives in two years

Ian K

Yeah, waste it on trivial little things like data storage and we'll have nothing left for party balloons.

Knackered Euro server turns Panasonic smart TVs into dumb TVs

Ian K

Re: Time for my new Expression

"It's still called the red shift effect, regardless of which way it's going though."

It's called the Doppler effect, and results in red shift or blue shift depending on the relative direction of motion.

Huawei Honor 5X: Swishy fingerprint tech for the mid-range

Ian K

"is still stuck on Marshmallow (not so good)"

Erm, Marshmallow (v6) is the latest release of Android, released by Google last October.

Do you actually mean it's still using Lollipop?

Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge: Betting on VR with a dash of Vulkan

Ian K

Never mind VR

For me the most important change is that they've added SD card expansion back in.

That's not enough to guarantee a purchase when my phone contract's next up for renewal, but at least they're back on the list of possibles.

Land Rover Defender dies: Production finally halted by EU rules

Ian K

"Exactly. The Russians replaced AK47 with AK74 for some very good reasons."


Bloke sues dad who shot down his drone – and why it may decide who owns the skies

Ian K

"and why it may decide who owns the skies"

"Take my love, take my land. Take me where I cannot stand.

I don't care, I'm still free. You can't take the sky from me[1]."

[1] Unless you're the FAA, in which case you'll at least give it a go.

Nice try, Apple. The Maxi Pad is no laptop killer – and won’t scratch the Surface

Ian K
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Re: Revolutionary Apple technology!

This CPU goes up to 11!

The 'echo chamber' effect misleading people on climate change

Ian K

Re: Consensus is not science

"When you hear consensus remember that this means that it is an opinion that cannot be backed up by an experiment i.e. it is a hypothesis rather than a theory."

I do not think that word means what you think it means.

"Consensus" means there's general agreement over some issue, no more and no less. Why there's agreement is a different issue - it might be because people have just assumed things without actually investigating, it might be a working hypothesis, but it might also be because the investigations have been done and everyone got the same result.

To extend one of your examples, the consensus is now that heavy and light objects fall at the same speed [in a vacuum]. And that is very much not an opinion that cannot be backed up by experiment.

So, your subject is correct; consensus is not science, but at the same time it's also not a indication that something's only a hypothesis.

Manchester car park lock hack leads to horn-blare hoo-ha

Ian K

I do not think that word means what you think it means

"Someone else had complete control over all of our cars for well over half an hour."

The owners were at liberty to drive the cars away, enter them, leave them, and do anything apart from actually lock them. Some little way short of the other's control being actually "complete", IMHO.



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