* Posts by Robert Sneddon

550 posts • joined 14 Dec 2007

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Is it broken yet? Is it? Is it? Ooh that means I can buy a sparkly, new but otherwise hard-to-justify replacement!

Robert Sneddon

Re: 16GB should be enough for anybody...

I upgraded my desktop from 8GB to 16GB to appease Firefox which was using 6GB, two GB of which was virtual RAM on the SSD. Firefox responded to this extra real estate by using 11GB, four GB of which was virtual RAM on the HD since for some reason it had taken a dislike to the SSD.

I built a new PC and outfitted it with 32GB to start with. Firefox is currently, as I type this, using 6GB in 12 threads and no virtual RAM so the mouse pointer doesn't freeze every few seconds when I switch tabs any more.

Exsparko-destructus! What happens when wand waving meets extremely poor wiring

Robert Sneddon

Little Jiffy Fuse Blower

A box sitting on the table with a sign reading "DO NOT PUSH THIS BUTTON." Then the lights go out.

Spanish cops cuff Brit bloke accused of playing role in 2020 celeb Twitter hijacking

Robert Sneddon

Maybe the Banking industry should give him an award for showing them where they have customers who are way too bloody stupid to be allowed to have their own bank accounts?

That's the genius of Bitcoin, anyone stupid enough to believe in it is easy pickings for a derivative scam like this.

It's safe to leave your bunker: Blame that Chinese nuclear plant alarm on fuel rod faults

Robert Sneddon

Super Sci-fi

Inside the reactor vessel and piping and circulating pumps and steam generator loops filled with hundreds of tonnes of water at 200 bar pressure and a temperature of over 350 deg C there are a few milligrammes (if that) of radioactive material that shouldn't be there. The slick sci-fi style high-tech monitoring systems in place are detecting this miniscule anomaly in real-time and flagging up a warning and even identifying which kind of radioactive isotopes they are. That's actually kind of impressive.

We've been shown time and again that strong encryption puts crims behind bars, so why do politicos hate it?

Robert Sneddon
Go

Re: The argument is a bit beyond Priti Patel

The excellent Scott Manley of Youtube fame actually explains how to do what Rep. Gohmert was wittering on about, and indeed gives several different possible yet practical mechanisms to achieve this. The bad news for Rep. Gohmert is that it would take a lot of effort (literally) and tens if not hundreds of millions of years to succeed.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5StYppuJ_lg&t=469s

Do you come from a land Down Under? Where diesel's low and techies blunder

Robert Sneddon

Didn't happen to me but...

I was told this tale by an IT support guy I worked with back in the day. He did a lot of shop and small office work and one of his customers was a large store which had a couple of back-office servers plus PCs for stock control etc. which were supported by a smallish UPS. If there was a power cut the store would be closed but the UPS would allow the office staff to shut down everything tidily before the UPS power ran out. One of his regular duties any time he visited the site was to check out the UPS under load, make sure it worked and that the batteries were swapped out every couple of years to keep them functional.

Day came, there was a power cut, the UPS ran for less time than expected and the servers went bonk! before they could be soft-landed. Oops. Investigation discovered someone had taken the microwave out of the staff break room and plugged it in to a UPS-fed socket over by a stock control PC to heat up their lunch while they waited for the mains power to come back on. Ding!

Bull in a cosmos shop: Edinburgh uni boffins strike deal with Atos for BullSequana supercomputer

Robert Sneddon

No mention

...in the press report what processor family will be deployed in the BullSequana system Edinburgh Uni is getting for DiRAC. The PDF linked in TFA suggests the engineering chassis, interconnect and cooling solution is processor-agnostic so it may not be AMD Epyc blades that are chosen for this project.

China says its first Mars rover Zhurong has landed on the Red Planet

Robert Sneddon

Re: Not surprisingly....

What is this? Some interplanetary bus service?

Actually, yes. Every couple of years the stars align (so to speak) and there's a short window to fly missions to Mars using less fuel than usual in a reasonable amount of time. The American mission that delivered Perseverance and Curiosity directly to the Martian surface took off at around the same time the Chinese Tianwen-1 orbiter/lander mission to Mars was launched back in July 2020.

Ingenuity Mars Helicopter cleared for further, farther, flying after landing on 117-second fourth flight

Robert Sneddon

Re: Fast re-charging

There isn't a lot of cloud on Mars and the atmosphere is thin so the sunlight that gets to the solar panel isn't attenuated as much as it would be on Earth. Saying that Mars is a lot further from the Sun and the actual intensity of sunlight there is less than half that at the top of Earth's atmosphere.

Terminal trickery, or how to improve a novel immeasurably

Robert Sneddon

Rabbits and ferrets

A Uni I worked at a long time back got a cluster of minis and serial terminals to replace the old punched-card-masticating mainframe that had catered for the student and academic computing workload previously. The minicomputers were very new -- rumour had it they had serial numbers starting 0001, 0002 etc. and the OS was similarly fresh from the oven and only half-baked.

A group of first-year students, doing Maths IIRC, discovered these wonderful toys and, being infantile to the extreme, proceeded to break them on a monotonously regular basis. For example the Rabbit team wrote scripts and later programs to create a subdirectory in the file system, copy itself into that subdirectory then launch an instance and create a sub-sub-directory, digging its way down until something broke. The Ferret team wrote scripts and programs to go after the Rabbit programs and kill them before something broke. The Rabbits usually won and then the people running the computing department had to go round and reset the computers which had gone Bonk!

Eventually the Problem Children were taken aside, it was made clear that they were getting in the way of people doing Real Work on their shiny toys and they should desist. The computer manufacturer, having heard of these exploits thanks to the error reports the Uni sent them donated another mini to the Uni as a crash-test-dummy machine since the information they were getting back was quite valuable for their OS developers. The Problem Children were allowed to indulge themselves on this firewalled machine, the academics and other students could get uninterrupted machine time on the cluster and everyone was happy, that is until the end-of-year exams when the Problem Children all failed to pass. Sad trombone.

Can't get that printer to work? It's not you. It's that sodding cablin.... oh beautiful job with that cabling, boss

Robert Sneddon

Time was...

It was not unknown to get a service call to a desk in the morning, "My computer doesn't work". Upon inspection I would find RAM missing, the CPU missing, the hard drive missing. Changing out the contract cleaning staff who, ahem, "serviced" the office spaces in the evening cured the problem, mostly. Fitting security screws to the cases reduced the failure rate a bit too.

China launches first module of new, crewed, Tiangong-3 space station

Robert Sneddon

Re: travel between space stations

The ISS (51.6 degrees, ca. 410km altitude) and the Tianhe module (41.0 degrees, 370km altitude) are in orbits at different inclinations with significant and always-changing velocities (speed and direction) to each other. It would take a significant fuel burn and time to move from one station to another.

IIRC the Chinese station uses the same sort of docking ports as the Russian and American manned capsules use so the ISS and the future complete Tiangong station are theoretically capable of accepting each other's vehicles and, possibly in the future, crews.

For blinkenlights sake.... RTFM! Yes. Read The Front of the Machine

Robert Sneddon

Re: The Agony and No Ecstasy

An old friend of mine once broke his leg sitting in an economy seat in a plane. He was a bit over 2 metres tall and not exactly slim and he usually got a free upgrade to business class when he turned up at the gate but not this time.

He had been hit by a car a few years back and this, along with general bone loss due to age meant that folding and twisting to lever himself into the plane seat resulted in his leg breaking. The guy who turned up with a wheelchair to get him off the aircraft took one look and said something to the equivalent of "we're going to need a bigger wheelchair."

Another successful flight for SpaceX's Starship apart from the landing-in-one-piece thing

Robert Sneddon

Re: Can't even get a reliable video link?

The thing I actually found most worrying is the fact they couldn't even get a reliable video link to work over a line-of-site range of a few km.

Actually they can and do maintain reliable video links, multiple video streams for the engineering teams and post-launch analysis people to go over. What they make public is another matter, either live at the time of launch and throughout the flight or afterwards once all the debris has hit the ground and the fires have been put out. I've not seen any SpaceX streams of the Starship launches the way they provide launchpad streams for Falcon 9 and Falcon FT launches, just third-party long-lens shots from cameras positioned several kilometres from the Boca Chica launch site.

The crash-and-burns of early attempts to land the Falcon 9 first stages weren't making things look good for SpaceX so they often had "outages" of their live streams just as the stages were attempting to land on the barges followed occasionally by resumptions of the video when it was clear they had a standing rocket to show to the world and not a pile of smoking rubble.

From Maidenhead to Morocco: In a change to the scheduled programming, we bring you The On Call of Dreams

Robert Sneddon

Never got the chance myself but...

Engineers who had an in with the muddle management sometimes got the chance to travel first-class to Malaysia and spend up to a week there on the company dime doing buggerall except waiting for a phone call. When that phone call came they took a hire car to the chip packaging plant, picked up a heavy suitcase of freshly-packaged prototype silicon and then headed for the airport where they'd get on the next flight back to Heathrow. The first-class ticket was, at least at that time, fungible in that any airline would honour it (in the off-chance the high-flyer would book with them next time). Saving a few days in prototype turnaround using a courier was well worth the trivial expense of the hotel, tickets and engineer downtime.

Decade-old bug in Linux world's sudo can be abused by any logged-in user to gain root privileges

Robert Sneddon

Re: How is this possible?

I'm sure lots of people think that the sudo code must have been closely studied over the years. That doesn't mean it has actually been closely studied, indeed that mistaken belief might have induced many people who could and would have gone through the code with a fine toothcomb to decide to spend their efforts elsewhere in the open-source world.

You would expect a qualified electrician to wire a building to spec, right? Trust... but verify

Robert Sneddon

Japanese appliances

A lot of Japanese appliances use DC motors because of the 50Hz/60Hz split in their two grids. It's easier to convert the AC mains to DC to drive a motor rather than have something run at differing speeds depending on where in the country you plug it in.

We discovered this when autopsying a dead Japanese coffee grinder someone had tried wiring up to British 240V mains. Sorry, but it wasn't ever going to run again after that...

The curse of knowing a bit about IT: 'Could you just...?' and 'No I haven't changed anything'

Robert Sneddon

Re: Sorting other people's stuff

I've got some circuit boards from a Symbolics LISP machine, free to a good home? Anyone? Pay for the shipping and they're yours.

Boeing 737 Max will return to flight after software updates, says EU's aviation regulator

Robert Sneddon

Re: So MCAS was not really even needed?

If the aircraft had no nose-up tendency what was the purpose of MACS ?

There are legally-enforceable flight regulations that limit the amount of force needed on the control stick for stall and approach-to-stall. The 737MAX enlarged engine nacelles and their forward positioning on the wings means the pilots need to input more force than the legal limits in certain (and rare) flight conditions. MCAS, when it works properly, automatically prevents the plane from going nose-up too fast hence reducing the amount of control force needed. When MCAS goes wrong it pushes the plane's nose down even if that's a bad idea at the time.

Robert Sneddon

AoA sensors

Until MCAS was introduced the AoA sensors only provided a warning indication to pilots that they were approaching a stall. If the AoA sensor failed it could be ignored by the pilots who could fly the plane perfectly well without it.

MCAS as implemented on the 737MAX uses inputs from one of the two AoA sensors to drive control surfaces without pilot input if the sensor reports an approach to stall condition. If the sensor fails and reports an approach to stall in certain circumstances MCAS will pitch the plane's nose down forcefully even if it's flying level or in a climb.

Fitting an extra AoA sensor would require a lot of recertification paperwork, engineering changes etc. After that the MCAS system would need to be restructured and rewritten to deal with two-out-of-three voting and even then it still might fail on occasion. Doing all this would have indicated to the licencing authorities that something was wrong and it's possible the 737MAX would have required certification as a new aircraft type. Preventing this certification change from happening was the entire point of MCAS in the first place.

Heavy-duty case closed: Peli tried to steal peli.co.uk from rightful owner, says Nominet

Robert Sneddon

Re: I'd like to thank the author...

But is it an airtight case?

BOFH: You might want to sit down for this. Oh, right, you can't. Listen carefully: THIS IS NOT AN IT PROBLEM!

Robert Sneddon

Re: Older gear is always an option

I do have a second monitor on my system, a 27" 2560x1440 IPS display (semi)-permanently in portrait mode to one side of my main monitor. It's handy for proofing page layouts and displaying tools I don't need all the time in my direct field of view.

Cheap monitors are the Devil's bargain as your aching eyes will confirm. I paid 800 quid for my 32" 4k display six years ago when they were at a premium, I have not regretted it once.

Robert Sneddon

Re: Older gear is always an option

I have a pair of spectacles specifically for use with my computer monitor (32" diagonal 4k IPS 16:9 ratio). The optical prescription provides me with a good no-strain focus at an eye relief of about 75cm or so. Visually speaking this monitor's display field just about fills my peripheral vision at that distance, a little smaller than the frames of my specs. However my eyes aren't what they were even six years ago when I bought this desktop monitor and replacing it with a 43" 4k display is very tempting.

Robert Sneddon

Re: Older gear is always an option

I'd happily use a 4:3 monitor again, almost everything I do is long, not wide...

You could tape a couple of bits of cardboard to the sides of a 16:9 monitor if you want a 4:3 ratio display. Alternatively there's probably someone out there with a Kickstarter for motorised side-curtains for monitors (like the old cinemas had for their screens) so you can adjust the ratio to suit whatever you're doing.

Myself I'm only considering replacing my 32" 4k 16:9 monitor because 43" models with the same resolution and screen ratio are becoming affordable. A 17" 4:3 monitor just wouldn't cut it for me today.

China compromised F-35 subcontractor and forced expensive software system rewrite, academic tells MPs

Robert Sneddon

Re: “What they were able to do we do not know”

The F-35 is way late.

There are more than 500 F-35s of all variants in service with several air forces at the moment -- the USAF has about 250 of the F-35A variant alone in training, testing and operational squadrons. There are plans to build about 3,500 more F-35s over the next twenty years or so. I don't see how that makes it "late".

Robert Sneddon

Repurposing medical devices

During WWII one of the most secret weapons developed by the Allies was the proximity fuze for anti-aircraft use and, later, land bombardment. The fuzes had delicate components inside (small valves and batteries etc.) and antenna connections to the external cap. In some theatres of operation protection for these fuzes for storage and deployment was needed, basically snug-fitting tapering plastic cones. They couldn't just put out a contract for fuze protectors due to the need for secrecy so they used a "back door" connection, so to speak, with the John Hopkins hospital to order five hundred thousand rectal spreaders.

Solving a big, yellow IT problem: If it's not wearing hi-vis, I don't trust it

Robert Sneddon

Re: Live that everyday

There's someone on Youtube that shows you how to make your own old-school DIMMs with PCB layouts and the like.

I'll give you my passwords if you investigate police corruption, accused missile systems leaker told cops

Robert Sneddon

Shredder

> what kind of twat carries nunchaku?

Oi don't be like that! They're great for entertainment value.

They were all the rage in the 80s

Not with the British Board of Film Censors (the BBFC). The head hocho of that august organisation was seriously down on nunchuks, and ninjas too -- we in the UK were presented with something called the Teenage HERO Mutant Turtles movie. The Turtle character that normally used nunchuks was mostly edited out of the action scenes and only appeared during a comedy skit where he wielded a string of sausages.

Kung-fu movies with Bruce Lee and others where nunchuks were used were also cut to shreds for commercial release on DVD and the like.

We bought a knockoff Lego launchpad kit from China for our Saturn V rocket so you don't have to

Robert Sneddon

Any chance

of a Lego(tm) Vehicle Assembly Building kit? You could fit TWO Saturn Vs in it.

Wind and quite a bit of fog shroud Boris Johnson's energy vision for the UK

Robert Sneddon

Mythical LFTR

China isn't working on a Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor (LFTR). They're testing a bunch of other nuclear power plant technologies, including a version of the Russian fast-spectrum sodium-cooled reactor (the fabled Waste Eater) as well as a helium-cooled high-temperature pebble bed reactor that might use thorium in some fuel mixes, but molten-salt fuel stream thorium breeder reactors, nope.

Saying that I'm sure there are in China, like in the West, a lot of Powerpoint Cowboys with theoretical models by nucleonics PhD students on how LFTR technology is really great and has no downsides. What doesn't exist is any concrete and steel, any licences, any approved designs, any funding and construction approvals for LFTRs. Instead Chinese companies are building pressurised-water reactors, nowadays mostly home-grown designs like the 1100MWe Hualong One and the newer 1400MWe Guohe One reactors.

Robert Sneddon

Small reactors

The US had a reactor in operation in the Antarctic for a few years back in the late 60s and early 70s. It was at their base in McMurdo Sound near the coast, not at their permanent base at the Pole. It turned out to be more trouble than it was worth, basically.

They did put another reactor in at another base in Greenland as part of the Iceworm engineering experiment. Again it turned out to be not worth the effort and it was removed when the Iceworm project was abandoned.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Iceworm

Robert Sneddon

Re: Geothermal Energy

Geothermal energy is usable in certain geological areas but it has limitations -- rock isn't a good conductor of heat so once a well has reduced the temperature of a volume of hot rock deep underground the efficiency and the amount of recoverable energy drops off unless more heat can be transferred quickly to the well bottom. The best sites for geothermal energy have lots of fractured rock strata and hot underground water that can be extracted while more hot water flows towards the well bottom. That sort of geology is a lot rarer than simply large volumes of hot dry basalt a couple of kilometres down.

Iceland had a magma-powered geothermal well at one time, they were drilling a regular hot-water geothermal well and hit lava instead. Oops. After retooling they got it to work somewhat -- the lava ate the drillhead and damaged the piping, not surprisingly. It's been shut down since then, IIRC. Maintenance and operating costs were the problem, the lava pool the drill string ran into produced highly alkaline soluble salts and gases and other crud that chewed up the heat exchangers at the surface, I think.

Robert Sneddon

The price has gone up

The current (ha ha ha) price under "Contract for Difference" rules for the power from the Hinkley EPR1600 reactors if and when they come into commercial operation is £104.50 per MWh, not the original "strike" price of £92.50 per MWh.

That sounds really high, doesn't it? A quick look though the public data published on the web for CfD agreements shows the big Hornsea offshore wind farms -- enough electricity for a million homes! as the press reported when the first Hornsea array came on stream last year -- had an initial strike price of about £140 quid but its CfD price is now £162.47 per MWh, over 50% more expensive than the Hinkley reactors. The other two uncompleted Hornsea wind turbine arrays have the same CfD price.

https://www.lowcarboncontracts.uk/cfds/hornsea-offshore-wind-farm-phase-1

A decades-old lesson on not inserting Excel where it doesn't belong

Robert Sneddon

CSV RFC XML TLA

I think the problem is that there's no hard-and-fast definition of what a CSV file structure should look like so coding a library to process and output them would be a bit of a hairy-arsed monster and likely to introduce obscure errors upstream when out-of-cheese errors occur.

SK Hynix slips past rivals Samsung and Micron to launch world's first DDR5 DRAM sticks

Robert Sneddon

ECC

Good to hear that new memory devices are coming with intrinsic error-correcting capabilities, given the large amounts of RAM fitted to even commodity machines these days.

Singapore Airlines turns A380 into a restaurant, delivers plane food to homes

Robert Sneddon

Re: glory of air travel

is airtravel not the most miserable way to travel?

You could always try travelling from, say, Birmingham to Strasbourg on foot plus a little Channel swim in the middle and compare it to the travails of travelling by air for the same journey. Chacun à son goût, as they say.

Microsoft to charge $200 for 32 GPU cores, sliver of CPU clockspeed, 6GB RAM, 512GB SSD... and a Blu-Ray player

Robert Sneddon

IBM mainframe

I played Tank Wars on an IBM mainframe's vector display unit at a school careers fair in the late 1960s.

I can 'proceed without you', judge tells Julian Assange after courtroom outburst

Robert Sneddon

Re: No fair trial in the US

The UK has no equivalent to the "fruit of the poisoned tree" clause that makes illegally obtained evidence inadmissible.

That's weird, I distinctly recall hearing that term used by the defence advocate in a Scottish court where I was a witness in a theft case. This was a long time back but the phrase caught my attention as it sounded really esoteric and lawerly.

We've reached the endgame: Bezos 'in talks' to turn shuttered department stores into Amazon warehouses

Robert Sneddon

Access

Most US malls of any substantial size, the sorts with a giant anchor store at one end, are surrounded by hectares of car parks while at the same time not being served by public transport particularly well. In the US many people working minimum-wage jobs own cars to get to work because the car is a necessity. Amazon pay a little more than minimum-wage, typically and for the rest there are always Bezos buses.

We Kana believe it! Raspberry Pi Foundation launches Japanese keyboard

Robert Sneddon

More than that

Japanese actually has three syllabaries, not two since Romaji (Roman) characters are commonly used in signage and the like in Japan these days. Japanese kanji based on Chinese characters are not the only form of words though -- combinations of kanji, called jukugo can also represent individual words.

It's complicated.

AMD pushes 64-core 4.2GHz Ryzen Threadripper Pro workstation processors

Robert Sneddon
Mushroom

ECC

One of the improvements over the existing Threadripper workstation CPUs these new devices promise is support for ECC memory. It's mentioned in The Fine Article as well as all the press reports I've seen around.

Error-correction support for RAM is long overdue for modern commodity desktops and laptops now that 16GB is "a good start" for most out-of-the-box machines and 64GB is affordable and attainable even on medium-level hardware. The AMD Ryzen desktop I'm planning to build this winter will start with 64GB (because I run Firefox) but I've got the option on existing motherboards for 128GB of RAM as a mid-life kicker a few years from now. I'd really like that RAM to be ECC but it's not going to happen, at least with the existing and affordable mobo offerings currently on the market.

Beware the fresh Windows XP install: Failure awaits you all with nasty, big, pointy teeth

Robert Sneddon

Boy the Wonder Dog

Boy was a Labrador cross, not as smart as his mongrel Mum (his Dad was a show Samoyed, bred for looks not brains). Being a retriever breed, sort of, Boy liked to bring us things. Watching him try to "retrieve" a hedgehog was something else. It was the fact he kept trying, time and time again...

Things that make you go foom: Destruction derby as NASA and SpaceX test rocket components to failure

Robert Sneddon

Re: Hot LOX

In the UK you need a licence and government permission to buy liquid oxygen because it's regarded as a dangerous substance. You do not need government permission to buy gaseous oxygen and liquid nitrogen and narrow-bore copper pipe and...

Overload: A one-way ticket to a madman's situation

Robert Sneddon

Re: I meant to do that!

"You should have warned us!"

"But I did! I sent you an email, remember?"

In Hancock's half-hour, Dido Harding offers hollow laughs: Cake distracts test-and-trace boss at UK COVID-19 briefing

Robert Sneddon

New Zealand

Serious question here -- what is happening to folks like merchant shipping crews who work in the import and export businesses, delivering oil and other materials? Do they go through the full fourteen-day quarantine process and bill-of-health requirements when their ships dock or are they sequestered on board their ships and not allowed to land? What about NZ engineers, pilots etc. who go on board these ships, are they then quarantined after they leave those ships?

Britain is intending to implement a quarantine system like New Zealand's for visitors (too little too late but...) but we're also issuing tens of thousands of temporary visas to agricultural workers from Europe to work during the harvest season. They'll be off the planes and into the fields, no fourteen-day quarantine for low-paid "essential workers" like them. They'll be living in crowded and unsanitary temporary accommodations like guest workers elsewhere in the world, the sorts of places that have reported concentrated outbreaks of COVID-19 in the recent past. Food, though is the ultimate "just-in-time" product though, it has to be picked and processed on time or left to rot in the fields.

Gone in 9 seconds: Virgin Orbit's maiden rocket flight went perfectly until it didn't

Robert Sneddon

Re: Oh. Again?

Why bother? Every man and his dog can do that.

Putting 500kg into orbit for, I think, $12 million is the trick. SpaceX charges about $90 million a launch for about 10 tonnes into LEO. Ride-shares are possible but the resulting orbits for multi-satellite launches are limited to wherever SpaceX wants to go today. If it's not the orbit that's wanted or close enough for a limited amount of adjustment after LEO is achieved then tough.

Man responsible for least popular iteration of Windows UI uses iPad Pro as a desktop*

Robert Sneddon

RAM, storage

The Surface Book 3 can be specced with 32GB RAM for $$$, the latest-model iPad Pro has 6GB of RAM, no upgrade possible. There's a 2TB storage option for the Surface Book 3, max internal storage for the iPad Pro is 1TB. The Surface Book 3 has an SXDC card reader for extra (slower) memory, the iPad Pro has no SD or micro-SD card slot.

Microsoft drops a little surprise thank-you gift for sitting through Build: The source for GW-BASIC

Robert Sneddon

Re: Not bad for the year -- but they may not be telling us everything

An Intel MDS typically had an in-circuit emulator -- a F'in Big Plug on the end of a cable that fitted into the target hardware where an 8080A, 8085, 8086 or 8088 would normally go. That allowed a programmer/developer like me to write Assembler and later C code for a target system and then run it natively with hardware trace, triggers and a whole load more without adding piles of memory-hogging debug statements and the like.

So, yes, an Intel MDS could cost £50,000 although that was an all-options pricetag, a bit like a fat Mac Pro workstation. The Intel MDS we had only had an ICE for the 8080A and floppy disks, no HDD but that still cost the thick end of £15,000 back then (mid 70s). We did get a swingeing academic discount on that sticker price though, along with restrictions on what we could do with it like no commercial development work.

Anyone else have one of the Blue Meanies, BTW? Ours had most or all of the chips inside in sockets on vertically-mounted boards and inadequate cooling resulting in the chips walking out of their sockets over time due to thermal cycling. It was a regular thing for us to take the cover off and push them back in place before starting the system up in the morning.

A real loch mess: Navy larks sunk by a truculent torpedo

Robert Sneddon

USN Mk14 torpedos

Drachinifel, the Youtube commentator on things Naval has a wonderful entry about the Mk14 torpedo and its unfortunate genesis.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eQ5Ru7Zu_1I

"Today we look at what happens when you mix the Bureau of Ordnance with a cost-cutting Congress and a few people pathologically incapable of admitting to making a mistake, then try and get a working torpedo out of them."

DBA locked in police-guarded COVID-19-quarantine hotel for the last week shares his story with The Register

Robert Sneddon

Re: This is a failure of government

My thought, back in the middle of March, was that the government shouldn't be scrabbling around trying to find boxes of medically-rated masks in the back of cupboards and competing for PPE supplies from abroad with other nations. Instead they should have been throwing money and effort into rapidly building production lines to make new N95/N99-class masks in the UK as well as securing the raw materials to make masks and other PPE here, locally. What we actually got were RAF transport aircraft flying back and forth to Turkey to import PPE that the NHS doesn't believe meets the standards they need.

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