* Posts by Aging Hippy

35 publicly visible posts • joined 31 Oct 2007

'One Less Car' Uber bets a grand you'll ditch your wheels

Aging Hippy

Green-washers can't do sums

I live in a small village with no facilities (apart from the pub). The nearest shops, doctors etc. are in the next village 2 miles away.. Due to illness my walking range is about 100 yards so if I need, say, to go to the doctor, I go in my car. Total vehicle miles = 4.

Alternatively I could get a taxi which would come from the nearest town 4 miles away, then cover the 2 miles to the doctor. If it's a quiet day they may hang around for the return trip, otherwise they would return to town and another taxi would come out later. So, at best, total vehicle miles = 12.

Conclusion: Giving up my car will reduce the number of vehicles on the road but will significantly increase the number of vehicle-miles covered which is the true measure for congestion and pollution.

Voyager 1 starts making sense again after months of babble

Aging Hippy

Re: Real Time

Plus 24 hours on a Wednesday as that was when payroll was run.

Inclusive Naming Initiative limps towards release of dangerous digital dictionary

Aging Hippy

Re: And by "solving" a non-problem ...

Can't use "git" it's offensive slang, in Britain at least.

You wait ages for a neutron star and black hole to collide, then two pairs come along at once

Aging Hippy

Software Error?

Scientists - we've got some odd results and revolutionised science.

Engineers (otherwise known as cynical bastards) - we've got some odd results, what have you done wrong.

In 1991 Andrew Lyne of Jodrell Bank claimed to have found the first pulsar planet . Rumour has it that he had borrowed a spreadsheet which had approximated Earth's orbit to be circular.

Ticker tape and a binary message: Bank of England's new Alan Turing £50 must be the nerdiest banknote ever

Aging Hippy
Black Helicopters

Re: Birthday in binary

The 2019 mock-up had 1010111111110010110011000 which is 23061912.

Changed from ddmmyyyy to yyyymmdd format.

Make up your own conspiracy theory.

We won't leave you hanging any longer: Tool strips freeze-inducing bugs from Java bytecode while in production

Aging Hippy

We need some numbers, we've got some numbers

I can see this in an environment where the motto is "We need some numbers, we've got some numbers, all is well in the world".

Excel for data transfer anyone?

Excel Hell: It's not just blame for pandemic pandemonium being spread between the sheets

Aging Hippy

Re: I don't think the problem is Excel

The fact that Excel is the wrong tool for the job is irrelevant here. Hasn't anyone heard of reconciliation totals. At its most primitive:

number of tests received at centre = number of tests sent = number of tests done

Either the person "designing" the system had no idea or, more likely, their manager thought it was a waste of time.

Punishment should be to be taken back to the 60s and made to feed several boxes of 2000 cards into a card reader which rejects 1 in 100 while the PFY drops several handfuls onto the floor. Reliability breeds laziness.

Excel does have a purpose here - it's presenting the reconciliation totals for all files received.

Palantir: Never made a profit, we do something with family-separating ICE, we just lost $580m – please join our IPO

Aging Hippy

Who's fooling who?

Search for Thiel Cummings and take your pick. For extra pleasure throw in Trump as well.

'Get out of my office, you're being a pest!' Yes, son. Toymaker releases work-from-home-themed play sets

Aging Hippy


US version

UK version

(both straight links to Amazon)

Fancy some post-weekend reading? How's this for a potboiler: The source code for UK, Australia's coronavirus contact-tracing apps

Aging Hippy

Re: Why bother at all?

It's good to learn from your own mistakes

...... but it's better to learn from someone else's.

Lords: New IR35 off-payroll tax rules 'riddled with problems, unfairnesses, unintended consequences'

Aging Hippy

You can't run a business on inside IR35 contract, because... the cashflow doesn't work.

A permanent employee working January will generally be paid around 24th January. A contractor (not via an agency) will raise an invoice on 1st February with payment due 1st March, but in practice the payment will usually not arrive before mid-April. Meanwhile January's PAYE will be due on the 22nd February, February's on 22nd March and maybe VAT as well. So not only does the contractor receive no salary (there's no cash) but they also have to give an interest-free loan to their company to keep it afloat.

GDP-arrrrrrgggghhh! A no-deal Brexit: So what are you going to do with all that lovely data?

Aging Hippy

Re: Goodbye-ee!

Except that a major player in GDPR was the Information Commissioner's Office in Wilmslow, Cheshire, ENGLAND.

The only EU decisions that the UK isn't involved in are those where the UK MEP's can't be bothered to turn up.

Plot twist: Google's not spying on King's Cross with facial recognition tech, but its landlord is

Aging Hippy

Where's the face data from?

So they install face recognition technology but what do they compare the faces against? Will Mr Plod give them a pictures of known baddies? Will they harvest profile pictures from Face-de-bouc?

What are they going to do when a face matches? Declare an orange alert and send in Rover?

Post-Brexit plan for .EU tweaked: No dot-EU web domains for Europeans in UK, no appeals, etc

Aging Hippy

Re: Didn't the UK create these rules?

>The rules were invented in Brussels by unelected civil servants

One of the biggest lies told about the EU.

Rules are made by working groups consisting of MEPs, real technical, legal and commercial experts from industry and academia, and anyone else with an interest such as ecology or privacy groups. (Even me on a few technical / commercial groups.)

It is true that the administration and translations are done in Brussels. That is also where the European Parliament approves them (no squabbling like 5 year-olds so little TV coverage). So strictly speaking "the rules come out of Brussels" is a true but misleading statement.

Hitler 'is dead' declares French prof who gazed at dictator's nashers

Aging Hippy

Something to remember when interviewing

A couple of years ago I went on a tour of Austria which included an art college where "a certain Austrian" had applied for a place and been rejected - twice. If only ....

Capita cost-cutting on NHS England contract 'put patients at risk' – spending watchdog

Aging Hippy

What's the fuss about?

Only £330m - when Brexit is complete the NHS will have this much extra money to waste EVERY WEEK.

Yes I am a cynical bastard but I prefer the word "realistic".

You've been Zucked: Facebook boss refuses to face-off with Brit MPs

Aging Hippy

To quote my not-so-young daughter:

"Facebook is great - it keeps the riff-raff off the rest of the Internet"

Engineer crashed mega-corp's electricity billing portal, was promoted

Aging Hippy

Promotion Logic

You do a job quietly and it works first time: The job must have been easy.

You get into a mess, even of your own making, then get it working: This person is a good problem solver.

'We think autonomous coding is a very real thing' – GitHub CEO imagines a future without programmers

Aging Hippy

" Don't go into computing, there's no future in it now that computers can write their own programs" - my careers adviser (1966)

'Data saturation' helped to crash the Schiaparelli Mars probe

Aging Hippy

Re: Bloody software...

The hardware doesn't always work perfectly even if it's designed properly. It's up to the software to handle what's thrown at it in a predictable way.

Motto for software engineers: If it can go wrong it will go wrong. If it can't go wrong it will go wrong on the first live run (some projects only have one live run !!).

No they don't train software engineers properly, very few universities have courses that cover the software / hardware boundary. Around 1990 there was a move by the UK MoD towards getting all engineering designs signed off by a Chartered Engineer. (At the time a CEng involved getting a decent first degree, 7 years of practical and formal training, an existing CEng to back you with their reputation. Then you could start the application process). The intention was to spread this to other government departments. Of course it was easier just to employ anyone who can work out which way up the keyboard goes - they don't ask awkward questions that could delay the project, or delay the parachute release.

We're still at the snake-oil stage of software development where anyone can walk in as an expert. Let's make it a proper profession and get some respect even if we would be liked as much as lawyers.

Comments suggesting more training always get downvotes. To ease anybody's conscience I will point out that I have a Computing Science degree, am a CEng, and worst of all have an MBA.

Blighty's 24-hr Universal Credit outage caused by upgrade glitch

Aging Hippy

Engineers tried to roll back the upgrade but it proved too complicated

Translation: They didn't back everything up before they started. They didn't include rollback in the trial conversion - if they did a trial conversion.

Implication (from experience): Routine backups aren't good enough to guarantee recovery from some corruptions during live running.

I'm sure they can type all the data in again.

The dev-astating truth: What's left to develop? Send in the machines

Aging Hippy

Future in computing

"There's no future in computing now they can write their own programs" - Quote from my school careers adviser referring to compilers - 1966.

Here WeGo! Google Maps rival drops Maps branding

Aging Hippy

Les Barker fans will be singing this already


Get outta here, officer, you don't need a warrant to track people by their phones – appeals court

Aging Hippy

Re: "he"

Not sure about the US but in the UK "he" was the gender neutral form at least up to the 1960s and so is found in many old books and legal documents. This was ingrained into all junior school pupils and still gets me into trouble today.

It changed with the feminist campaign to remove the string "man" from all words in the English language. In this case "he" wasn't replaced by anything leading to the cumbersome "he or she", "she or he" or worst of all just "she" which implies "female only" in the old language. It's even more difficult not having a catch-all now that some people don't consider themselves he or she.

If in doubt read a 1950s edition of "First Aid in English", the bible for junior school pupils to learn how-fer tawk proper.

No, HMG, bulk data surveillance is NOT inevitable

Aging Hippy
Thumb Up

Paul, Baron Strasburger

It seems to have passed people by that this article is written by Paul Strasburger who is on the Joint Committee on the Investigatory Powers Bill. Thank you to him and The Register for bringing us a first hand article.

Paul Strasburger's Wikipedia entry isn't particularly flattering (and we all believe Wikipedia don't we?) but anyone who was/is a successful entrepreneur without a history in politics can't be all bad, especially as he is willing to talk and listen to the techies of this world.

Govt spaffs £170k to develop the INTERNET OF SHEEP

Aging Hippy

Let me be the first to suggest


Clouds gathering on horizon for software devs, say wise men

Aging Hippy

"Don't go into computing

- there's no future in in" - quote from my school careers advisor in 1966.

Accounting software gets better at languages

Aging Hippy
Thumb Down

So What?

MFG/PRO, now known as QAD Enterprise, could do this 20 years ago to my knowledge.

BCS civil war heats up ahead of crunch general meeting

Aging Hippy
IT Angle

President's background - explains a lot

A few years ago I was involved in the BCS discussions on what qualifications and experience were necessary to become a CITP. Most of the participants were people who could "talk the talk" but had no interest in the technical side, didn't see any point in knowing about it and most importantly had no respect for it. I've no idea how the discussions ended - I was a lone voice and I'd got work to do.

I joined the BCS about 25 years ago when IT almost turned professional and it was becoming necessary to the a C Eng (this was before CITP) to sign off design specs for some companies. I've remained a member as being an engineer does carry some status in Mainland Europe.

"Where's the IT angle" icon - well we are talking about the BCS.

Can anyone explain the chunnel fiasco?

Aging Hippy
Big Brother

Blame accountants or climate botherers

It's a long time since I worked on control systems for trains but the general principle was to design for normal industrial conditions (0-50C with no condensation) then to provide that enviroment with suitable boxes and heaters.

To start a train from below freezing the heaters would be switched on to bring the electronics into its operating range and heat the surrounding air, and then the electronics could be switched on. To avoid a delay in starting up the heaters or electronics would normally be left switched on.

Then along comes an accountant or climate botherer and says they can save money / carbon dioxide and decrees that trains should be switched off completely overnight. Then on the first morning with the right conditions .........

It's only speculation but from what I've seen it fits.

Time for an investment in the B Ark.

Climate change blows out eco-boss's record bid

Aging Hippy

@A J Stiles @JonB Windmill Speed

Think of a factory where there is sheet material rolled onto a big roller - steel mills, paper mills etc (anyone in the UK can use a history book as reference). There's a lot of energy to be dumped when the roller is stopped. This uses the motor as a generator, some fancy electronics to convert the energy to DC, then to AC in phase with the mains input and dumps it back into the mains supply.

Now think of the electronics as just the mechanism for stopping the blades on the rare occasions the wind wants to turn them.


The blades can run at optimum pitch for the wind irrespective of the output requirements.

The system can be run in reverse to start the blades spinning or keep them running when it is politically wise to do so.

Wind generated by spinning the blades can be picked up and used by the next wind farm so giving a way of storing energy much like a stored water system (OK, I made this one up but when you see it in a politician's or expert's proposal you saw it here first)

Please note that I am an Aging Version 1 Hippy - "make love not war", "make tea not war" (English version), overthrow goverments etc. <RANT>The Reg - please do not mix verion 1 hippies with the new age hippies who only seem to want to jump onto the latest bandwagon of scientific mumbo-jumbo to allow goverments to exploit the masses. The sooner these windmills start falling down the better.</RANT>

BSA: Software piracy's 'tragic' impact on US society

Aging Hippy

There is no tax loss

So the software company sells less software, therefore it and the supply chain make less profit and pay less tax.

The company with the unlicensed software makes more profit and therefore pays more tax.

Net result - no difference in total tax paid.

(OK, this is not quite right as it doesn't allow for different tax rates in different countries, but the overall effect should be around zero - give or take)

Criminal record checks could hit over 14 million people

Aging Hippy

It only needs one case ...

One day a 90 year-old man (it is only men isn't it?) who committed a minor sexual offence 70 years before will make an improper remark to a Meals-on-Wheels woman. Result: anyone receiving voluntary help will need to register to protect the volunteers - then we're all caught.

Anyone remember the 80's (?) cartoon series "Wait till your father gets home", where the 40 year old father gets arrested for hanging around with 15 year-old girls - 25 years before.

Linux penguin because nobody's blamed this on Microsoft yet.

Darling admits Revenue loss of 25 million personal records

Aging Hippy

A Public Service

So how about setting up a website where people can check if their names are on the list - just type in their full name and address, date of birth, NI number and bank account details and it will tell them whether their details have been stolen. For extra security they can also put in their bank account PIN, they wouldn't want just anybody knowing their details are stolen.

Guardian blogborg takes aim at global warming

Aging Hippy
Black Helicopters

I'm still worried about .....

.... the approaching ice age. We've bad so many cold winters and North Sea gas is due to run out by 1972.