* Posts by Quentin North

103 publicly visible posts • joined 30 Nov 2007


9 years after SpaceX strode into Texas village, Elon Musk floats name change for Boca Chica: 'Starbase'

Quentin North

Mo' power!

Texas: the land of the the free and the independently power hungry. Be a shame if there was a power cut around launch time.

Imagine things are bad enough that you need a payday loan. Then imagine flaws in systems of loan lead generators leave your records in the open... for years

Quentin North


And that, folks, is the reason we have GDPR and dont trust US companies with our European data.

Nokstalgia: HMD Global introduces yet another homage to the past – a 4G rework of the Nokia 6300

Quentin North

Still using my 6300

The battery lasts for a week, it has a fancy blue flashing LED when a text has been received and the neatest trick is when you use it as an alarm clock it fades in the sound, so it doesn't shock you awake but just gently brings you out of your slumber with the tune of your choice. It would be nice if these features were in the new version of the 6300, but when I tried the new 3310 I was disappointed.

Scre-EE-m if you wanna go faster: BT's mobile network reigns supreme in UK-wide speed and latency tests

Quentin North

Ee is rubbish

My experience as a commercial user of EE is that coverage is poor and customer service and billing is horrendous. It’s got worse since BT bought it.

Amiga Fast File System makes minor comeback in new Linux kernel

Quentin North

Re: This will make the soon-to-be-Kickstarted mini Amiga easier

I would put an ultimate MISTer in that case and then you can have a FPGA hardware emulation of pretty much anything you could want with almost none of the RPi emulation lag.

TCL's latest e-ink tech looks good on paper, but Chinese giant will have to back up extraordinary claims

Quentin North

I think reflective LCD still required power to the display at all times to maintain state, which eink doesn't.

Adobe yanks freebie Creative Cloud offer – now universities and colleges have to put up or shut up

Quentin North

Adobe infurate

What is most infuriating about Adobe's position is that they took out a large advertorial in a national paper proclaiming the company's dedication to online education and advocating for greater of use of their tools at the same time as removing the temporary use at home basis for students. As I have said elsewhere, Adobe probably believe they are doing good things here but seem to only have an understanding of the for profit US universities and colleges with large bank balances and no corporate understanding of the EU/UK public sector universities and the value of consolidating the use of the tools in the learning experience when students go on to become professionals. Even Microsoft and Oracle get that, as they provide tools to all students on and off campus for no extra cost which make embedding those tools in teaching and learning, alongside open source, a good choice for professional skills development which is an important part of a good education.

Quentin North

Re: Just perhaps

Universities don't just teach theory, they also teach employable skills and if you want to work in creative industries in particular you need to have knowledge of using Adobe tools. In IT it would be Microsoft, Mysql, K8, etc. The IT model is generally a bit skewed because a lot is open source, but even Microsoft and Oracle provide all their tools to students for use on and off campus at no extra charge whereas Adobe insists on chrarging more for off campus use. My understanding is this is largely driven by Adobe being a near monopoly in the professional sector and also because Adobe pricing is based on the US universities who are largely for profit and have big bank balances, which is not so true in the EU or UK.

Anti-5G-vaxx pressure group sues Zuckerberg, Facebook, fact checkers for daring to suggest it might be wrong

Quentin North

I don't understand

Lawsuits cost money, so I get that lawyers will make money out of this, but honestly the law suit has no chance of winning on any basis so why spend the money and where did the money come from in the first place? I guess this is a bit like some Ponzi scheme or religion, where lots of naive people are encouraged into a belief and then make donations to the organisers of the belief to fund the lifestyles of lawyers and administrators who don't really care about the truth or the principles they are arguing for but just back a position in order to profit from it. Kind of like some churches and political parties. Am i getting this wrong?

This'll make you feel old: Uni compsci favourite Pascal hits the big five-oh this year

Quentin North

Apple Pascal

When Apple Pascal, based on UCSD II.1, came out for the Apple II I thought it was fantastic. Supported 80 cols out of the box and came with a great book that taught you structured programming. One of the best self teach books around I reckon. As I had grown up with BASIC and assemblers, getting my head around using procedures, structures and strong typing was made much easier with this book.

Nokia's reboot of the 5310 is a blissfully dumb phone that will lug some mp3s about just fine

Quentin North

Re: Would this be a good 'phone to have ...

GPRS and EDGE is still a thing on 2G networks.

Source code for seminal adventure game Zork circa-1977 exhumed from MIT tapes, plonked on GitHub

Quentin North

Re: Thanks for the pointer, Simon.

You can get ITS at https://github.com/PDP-10/its along with a whole load of other PDP10 stuff.

Quentin North

Essex MUD and BCPL

Related to this I managed to get the original BCPL source of Essex MUD by Richard Bartle and Roy Trubshaw up and running on a simh PDP-10 under TOPS-10 o/s. The source for this is also on github along with build instructions.

Oddly specific 'cyber attack' hits Alaskan airline RavnAir and one plane type

Quentin North

old aircraft maintenance systems

I used to work on fixed and moving wing aircraft maintenance records systems last century and the likelihood is, give that they are using the older dash 8 , that the system has not been upgraded either and is probably still running on NT or 98. If you can't see the maintenance record of the aircraft it shouldn't be flown, thats the most likely reason for the cancellations. Its unlikely that the aircraft itself was compromised.

LzLabs kills Swisscom’s mainframes – but it's not the work of a vicious BOFH: All the apps are now living on cloud nine

Quentin North


THe key thing I remember from my mainframe days, is that it is not just about the CICS COBOL apps, which Microfocus can support, what about all the JCL and batch scheduler loads etc? Also, key tools of IBM mainframes like RACF really do make the environment robust, so I do wonder if this platform will be nearly as reliable or secure.

That all said, I remember when Baby/36 came along and allowed System/36 RPG II applications and OCL to run on networked PCs, it practically killed IBMs then ageing midrange platform. Still, the successor AS/400 trundles on.

Microsoft slips ads into Windows 10 Mail client – then U-turns so hard, it warps fabric of reality

Quentin North

Ad block plus blocks this article

Here is a wired thing, ad block plus blocks on iOS this entire article, not just the ads, but the entire url. The rest of the reg is fine. Conspiracy?

Where to implant my employee microchip? I have the ideal location

Quentin North

The chip implant failed...

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'Blockchain SAVED my Quango'

Quentin North

The one use

The one use I could imagine (apart from crypto coin) is a decentralised register of academic achievement such as degree certificates. There are many many issuing authorities (universities and colleges) but once issued the credentials are fixed and for life. Validating someones academic credentials, especially internationally, is currently a chore that requires requesting a transcript from the institution either by an employer or the (former) student. For the university this is a pain in the storage as well as an, albeit fairly automated, admin chore that they could really do without. I could see blockchain potentially working in this space,

iPhone XR guts reveal sizzle of the XS without the excessive price tag

Quentin North

Apple blew it for me when it removed the finger print sensor and the audio jack. I still have my trusty iPhone 6s and just got the screen and battery refurbished. I also have another 6s in a box unopened for when my current one does eventually die or goes down the loo. I would like the XR for the IP67, but there is nothing else about it that makes me want it and the notch in general disrupts my sense of symmetry. I live in hope that a 6s like SE will appear as a budget option in the spring.

Apple cops to iPhone 8 production oops, offers to fix borked phones

Quentin North

Re: Not Europe?

I think EU law means that you have a 24 month guarantee against defects in product that were present at purchase, so they must replace the phone or fix the issue for free in the EU in any case.

London's Gatwick Airport flies back to the future as screens fail

Quentin North

Re: "no redundancy in the internet link"

Not a project management failure, possibly a service specification failure due to "value engineering" by the service provider or customer. The PM probably did exactly what they were asked to do.

OnePlus smartmobe brand modelled on 'a religion', founder admits

Quentin North

OnePlus = Apple for Android

Nothing really new in the religious following idea. Going back as far as the early Mac vs PC wars, Apple was always about belief in the brand rather than value for money.

The tech you're reading these words on – you have two Dundee uni boffins to thank for that

Quentin North

TFT patent?

Anyone know why the team couldn't patent TFT?

Corpse! of! Yahoo! drags! emails! of! the! dead! case! to! US! Supreme! Court!

Quentin North

Not a minority, most phone email clients download the email as far as I know and if you configure POP on them then it will sit there for ever until you delete it from that specific device. I do still also use POP mail with Yahoo because that was one of my earlier accounts and I never closed it down. I am probably one of the few people left in the world that still regularly makes use of Yahoo mail.

The blockchain era is here but big biz, like most folk, hasn't a clue what to do with it

Quentin North
Paris Hilton

Re: Am I the only one who doesn't really have a clue what blockchain is?

I agree with this general comment. I don't see what business problem this technology will solve for me that isn't already solved by something simpler. Can anyone enlighten me from a business perspective?

Android snoopware Skygofree can pilfer WhatsApp messages

Quentin North

They would want you to think that wouldn't they...

Isn't Kaspersky now officially a engine of the Russian state? I bet they would like you to think that these capabilities are developed in Italy.

That 70s Show: Windows sprouts Sets and Timeline features

Quentin North

Re: the 70's? *ANYTHING* but the 70's!

Star Wars and Punk. What is not to like?

Sci-Hub domains inactive following court order

Quentin North

Academic institutions are addressing this through Open Access.

The main issue is that publishers charge for access to work that was often produced at taxpayer expense and at little or no cost to the publisher. If I am a researcher at a university my work will often be paid for by grant funding raised for taxation. In order to get my work published I give it to a publisher who puts it on a website and then charges everyone, including me and my university, to read it.

OA seeks to fix that, but big publishers who control the market are not playing ball.



Your attention has value, personal cryptocurrency will advertise it

Quentin North

15 million merits

Wasn't there a black mirror that was essentially this? That obviously went well.

Uni staffer's health info blabbed in email list snafu

Quentin North

universities are strange places, and emailing 300 people in one go is a common thing.

Quentin North


I think thats probably not the case. I think most students will be using their phone or laptop, neither of which will be managed, and the Office/365 account is an individual contract with MS, albeit facilitated by UEA. In short I don't think they will be able to run some powershell against student mailboxes.

Quentin North

Re: Sorry, is this El Reg or "Take a Break" ????

Most universities provide students with either Office/365 or Google Mail as their student email system. Typically the university won't have much control over the end point once delivered as from a MS/Google perspective the contract is with the student as an individual rather than the university..

Quentin North

Re: Sorry, is this El Reg or "Take a Break" ????

Nope, they all use Office 365

All your masts are belong to us outfit Arqiva confirms IPO plan

Quentin North


Err. Crawley is in West Sussex. However, Arqiva is in Crawley Court, Winchester, Hampshire, SO21 2QA

It's a real FAQ to ex-EDS staffers: You'll do what with our pensions, DXC?

Quentin North

Thats not how final salary pensions work, and they are sustainable. A final salary pension scheme works on the basis of you obtaining (usually) 1/80th of the value of your final annual salary for every year worked for the pensionable organisation. So, if you work for 25 years at Acme Co and end with a £50,000 salary you will get a pension of 25/80 of £50K or £15,625 p.a less tax. To achieve this you are like to have paid in approximately 18% of your cumulative salary over the 25 years. Assuming you started on £25K and increased linearly to £50K you will have paid in £175K which would then take approximately 12 years to get back, assuming you live that long. So, in short, a final salary pension is simply paying back to you what you already put into it for the first 12 years, and if you live longer than that you are getting some of the actual investment income as well as the capital you put in.Entirely fair and proper. Anyone who thinks FS scheme are unfair has been duped by corporations who want to effectively steal your money.

Bill Gates says he'd do CTRL-ALT-DEL with one key if given the chance to go back through time

Quentin North

Break Key

The break key pre-dates any of the micro era computers and dates back to the 19th century telegraph. It was certainly on old teletypes used with mainframes in the 1950s and 60s and referred to a function called "line break". In the comms between a TTY terminal and the computer a line break effectively brought the signal level to a "space" condition (usually +5v IIRC) and would wake up a modem or multiplexor at the computer end. This would be used in some computer system as the login prompt key and also the abort program execution key. Indeed, even the 1985 IBM PC keyboard had a break key, but it was a alt-shifted function of the pause key. Quite why IBM didn't choose alt-break fro login/interrupt/reboot I don't know. More info at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Break_key

Carnegie-Mellon Uni emits 'don't be stupid' list for C++ developers

Quentin North

Pascal is the future!

Bring back Pascal with runtime checking. None of this directly accessing memory nonsense.

If you haven't changed your Dropbox password for 4 years, do so now

Quentin North

Spotify resets too

So is spotify, email this morning.

Learn a scripting language and play nicely: How to get a DevOps job

Quentin North

The phrase is an often-mistranslated quotation commonly attributed to Hermann Göring -- "When I hear the word 'culture', that's when I reach for my revolver" -- the actual quote is "Wenn ich Kultur höre ... entsichere ich meinen Browning!" This translates as: "Whenever I hear [the word] 'culture'... I remove the safety from my Browning!" In fact, it is a line uttered by the character Thiemann in Act 1, Scene 1 of the play Schlageter, written by Hanns Johst.

Snafu! BT funnels all customers' sent email into one poor sod's inbox

Quentin North

Sounds like a data breach to me.

I don't know who Steve Webb is, but he sure shouldn't have access to my email. Someone should call the ICO.

Pornography, violence and JG Ballard: High Rise, the 1970s' internet

Quentin North

Re: Truly?

My family didn't have a telephone until about 1973 and we lived in the centre of a town on the south coast of England. We also only had a two channel (VHF) B&W TV until about 1971, then we got a 3 channel (UHF) B&W one because Horizon was on BBC2, and finally a colour one in about 1975 which came with cable.

Brit boffins build 'tractor beam' out of sound

Quentin North

Spain, Bristol AND Sussex

How come you don't mention Sussex uni, which two of the paper's authors are from?

Microsoft emits Office 2016 for Apple Macs (you'll need Office 365)

Quentin North


They have still not fixed Outlook to make it identical to the Windows version.

Yet again, Im going to have to run Windows in Fusion/Parallels in order to get a proper Exchange client that doesn't break every five minutes and provides all the views, including the at a glance view with a side bar of upcoming events and tasks. Why can't MS just make Outlook work on a Mac, how hard can it be? Its the only reason I still run windows in a VM.

Silicon Valley now 'illegal' in Europe: Why Schrems vs Facebook is such a biggie

Quentin North

Mainly a public sector issue

For the public sector this effectively rules out the use of most cloud services as we are required to protect personal data and not transfer it to other jurisdictions without protection. Goodbye office 365, google apps etc, hello, on premise data centre, exchange, etc.

Turn-by-turn directions coming to Ordnance Survey Maps

Quentin North

Other products are available

Galileo and ForeverMap on iOS both provide OS levels of offline mapping and in the case of ForeverMap, route planning too.

Apple's Swift creeps up dev language survey – but it's bad news for VB

Quentin North

Language bias becaiuse internets

The issue I would have with this survey is that it is biased towards languages that are common for internet software development and therefore posted up on Gthub etc. If you took a look at much commercial software you might find a good level of use of older languages such as C, COBOL, PL/SQL, and even old 4GLs like UNIFACE and Pro-IV. In scientific computing you will find FORTRAN still in use.

'Why don't you buy from foreign sites?' asks Commish, snapping on the gloves

Quentin North
Thumb Down

Re: I think I can see where this is going...

I take exception to your characterisation. The commissioner is not a "silly hag", which is a subjective, offensive and derogatory personal insult based on sex. This has no place in a civilised comment or discussion.

What’s new in Office 2016 for Mac (and why it doesn't totally suck)

Quentin North

Outlook 2016 still fails

I have had the outlook 2016 beta for a while and it still fails compared to outlook 2013. Calendar still doesn't properly look up user names from AD but just shows the standard email format name and you still can't get the at a glance summary of today's activities with diary events and tasks on the right sidebar of the Mail window. This latter point is a real shame because it is a really useful feature of the outlook for windows UI. If it still uses EWS it will probably regularly orphan repeating calendar entries too. I'm still living with that legacy of Entourage, a truly shite piece of software.

That said outlook 2016 doesn't suffer from the annoying greyed out flags in compressed view that outlook 2013 does. A nightmare if you are colur blind because you can't tell red from grey.

Major US news organisations to develop ROBOT JOURNALISTS

Quentin North

20 minutes into the future

Max Headroom


First look: Ordnance Survey lifts kimono on next-gen map app

Quentin North

Galileo on iOS

Galileo on iOS provides OS maps fairly effectively and overlays Open StreetMap with offline cacheing and this is fine as far as it goes. As I have a canal boat, route planning for canals would be ideal with journey times including locks and notices of canal closures. Unfortunately the C&RT who run the canals stopped providing their useful plot your route and download a PDF service and I have yet to find a decent mapping app that will let you route plan canals apart from as a series of waypoints the same as walking.