* Posts by Pete Wood

30 posts • joined 20 Dec 2007

Apple's zippy silicon leaves Android rivals choking on dust

Pete Wood

Re: What's so wrong with a Ferrari engine in a metro?

"The problem is that it is difficult to do since the engine side shaft tends to necessarily be longer than the transmission side shaft since there isn't typically room to center the differential and mirror all the suspension geometry"

Peugeot, in the GTI and diesel 205s, used to fit an outrigger bearing on the side opposite the diff, precisely for this reason. Pedantically, I don't think it's the length of the drive shafts that matters per se, it's that the CV joints exhibit a self-straightening effect under load which is proportional to the angle that they're at, so you need to mirror left and right to get the angles the same. Bumps or corner roll, of course, throw that alignment out as one wheel deflects, so the steering loads or kicks.

DDoS crooks: Do you want us to blitz those phone lines too?

Pete Wood

The PPI insurance claim scam vultures appear to be doing it to my personal phone line for free!

Samsung swoops on Brit chip biz CSR, grabs talents'n'patents

Pete Wood

Re: Fabless

I did send a correction note in (to El Reg) about this, but it looks like it hasn't been actioned, the wording is still the same (and incorrect). CSR makes - or has made, up until now - its living by selling actual physical chips, not by selling IP for others to incorporate into their chips.

Apple was OK to fire man for private Facebook comments

Pete Wood


Why does private or public sector make a difference? A contract is a contract - either I agree to its terms - and take the money - or I don't, and find a different employer.

This isn't slavery. Slavery is when people get held captive and are forced to work against their will. This is paid employment, a voluntary relationship. An employer is free to put all sorts of terms in their contract - mine has an opt-out from the working time directive, for example, so I'm free to work as many hours as I want :-) - and it's up to employees whether they accept those terms, or find a different employer. If an employer finds that their terms are too onerous and they can't recruit, they'll change their terms. Supply and demand.

Apple have a right to do what they did. And you or I have a right to disapprove of it and take our business elsewhere. That's all fine. That was a calculation Apple must have made when they decided to go down this route.

Pete Wood

@Hairy Airey

You're quite right, I'm being simplistic. Apologies. For an employer, a tribunal should be an absolute last resort - it gets you bad publicity (as this has), it costs a fortune, and it takes lots of people out of the business for quite a lot of time. There are massive disincentives for an employer to go to tribunal, it is, as you say, much cheaper to settle first.

However, I can also see - as I remarked in my post - that there'd be a strong argument for letting it go to a tribunal if you think that this is going to be the thin end of a wedge. If you let one of 'em get away with it, the argument would go, then they'll all be at it. So deal with it firmly, defend it strongly, and then we won't have to do it again. That could be a persuasive argument.

I understand the fairness/discrimination arguments (as I remarked in a previous post, I'm strongly in favour of rights for disadvantaged groups as well as for everyone) I was just not mentioning them as I assumed they didn't apply here (if they had, my reasoning went, then the tribunal wouldn't have upheld the dismissal and we'd be having a very different conversation).

Yes, I was hasty in my comment about costs. When I wrote "you will be landed with costs", I did mean your OWN costs, not the opposition's, but I accept that it wasn't what I wrote.

Pete Wood

@Danny 5

=> once i leave, i'm no longer doing my job and therefore free to do whatever the fuck i want.

How hard is this to understand? Yes, you are free to do "whatever the fuck" you want. And that includes slagging off your employer. You have a right to free speech, you can exercise it. You also have a right to receive the consequences of exercising that right. And if you've been told that slagging off your employer in public will result in your dismissal, then dismissal is what you will get. End of story.

If the employer tells the employee at induction, or writes in in their contract, that "Hey, we're relaxed here, you can say what you like about us and we won't take it personally, we love feedback even when it's delivered in public" then yes, you're right, the employer can't exactly complain when someone does this.

But the articles that we've been shown (and some comments earlier on this forum from people who've been through the Apple induction) indicate that Apple make it very clear to their staff that image is important and they shall do nothing intentional to bring that image into disrepute. If the staff continue to accept the money, then they have accepted that deal. If they don't accept the deal, then they are free to not take the money and work for an employer who is more "understanding".

And thank you but I do not appreciate the ad-hominem attack, the insinuation that I'm some sort of fascist Nazi who wants to run a big-brother state. I don't undestand how you came to that conclusion; it's none of your business but I'm actually rather the opposite, a libertarian who believes in rights, especially for disadvantaged and disabled (both physically disabled and learning-disabled) people who can't necessarily speak up for or fight for themselves. I believe very strongly in individual rights, but I also believe that with rights come responsibilities. And employers have rights too. In this Apple case, this guy exercised his right to free speech. He's absolutely entitled to do that. However, he also has to accept responsibility for his own actions, no-one is to blame for his current unemployed status except himself.

Pete Wood

Rights and responsibilities

There's lots of writing about rights here - right to free speech, and so on - but not enough about responsibilities. If you take an employer's money, month after month, and are responsible for selling its products, then you have a duty towards it. I don't care if the company is Apple, or McDonalds, or the local garage down the street. Long before Charters Of Rights became fashionable, there was a simple aphorism to describe the relationship: You Don't Bite The Hand That Feeds You.

If an employee is going to slag off his employer, in a public forum, in writing, then he can't expect to remain an employee. I don't understand why people don't get that, it's pretty damned simple.

If I go down the pub with some friends, or have dinner with them, and make rude remarks about my employer, then I run the risk that they will go tell my employer. That's a risk I choose to accept with some friends, and not with others. As I understand it, Facebook "privacy" and "friends" aren't quite the same thing, and of course it's all in writing.

Some people have said that Apple reacted wrongly. As I see it, they're in no-obvious-win land here, and they've chosen the best course. What can they do? He may have already had a slap on the wrist and a verbal warning, we don't know. But I suspect not - if you just do that, then the message it sends to other staff is that he got away with breaching one of the tenets of behaviour that they were told in induction were fundamental, so that's not too clever.

So if they try and sack him and keep him quiet, well they can do that if he's willing - it's called a compromise agreement - but it'll cost a lot of money. So the message that THAT sends is that slagging your employer off in public gets you a nice tax-free lump sum. Again, not too clever.

So they've done what they've done, and actually it's the right thing to do. It garners some short-term nagative publicity, but most right-thinking people will agree that it was the right thing for Apple to do, so it won't be that damaging. And, internally, it sends the message to staff that if you have a problem with us, you sort it out internally: If you slag us off in public, as we have asked you not to do as a condition of your employment, then we WILL sack you and we WILL win and you WILL be landed with costs.

Pete Wood

I can't believe some of the stuff I'm reading here

I got thumbs-down for my previous posting, but hey, I can take it.

I take the view that if I'm paid by my employer, then I represent my employer. If they stop paying me, and I don't want to work for them ever again, then I'm a free agent restrained only by the various libel/slander laws in my jurisdiction, but I don't for a minute expect to be able to slag them off in public and remain employed. My employer is a very good company to work for, as it happens, but the co-responsibility "deal" is quite clear and straightforward - I'm inside the tent, I don't slag them off, they don't slag me off, if we have difficulties then we settle them in private.

This idea that seems to be pervading some posts in this thread, that we owe no duty of confidentiality to an employer, or only do so for 8 hours a day, is madness. No business can function on that basis. If you want to slag off a company, that's your right, it's a free (-ish) country, but you can't expect to take their money at the same time.

And as for the stuff about Privacy, words fail me. These are the same commentards who daily lambast Facebook for having crap (and circumventable) privacy facilities, suddenly saying that they're the best thing in the world and should be used as a defence in this case? Get real, chaps, you can't have your cake and eat it.

As someone commented here the other week - the facebook generation - the live-my-life-in-public-generation - are all now coming into the workplace, and they have a hell of a lot to learn about what is, and is not, appropriate behaviour.

Pete Wood
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=> Hearsay anyone? Burden of proof that he posted the comment?

You're confusing civil and criminal law here. Criminal law - yes, proof beyond reasonable doubt. Civil law - what's reasonable.

Based only on what I've read in Hamnett's commentary, there was no argument submitted to the effect that he denied making the comments, so the question doesn't arise. Apple's policy clearly stated he should not rubbish the brand; he did so, deliberately, in a semi-public forum; that goes to the heart of the contract - gross misconduct, dismissal. Glad to see that Tribunals still have sense occasionally.

WTF is... Bluetooth 4.0?

Pete Wood

BLE is NOT just a firmware change

> The truth is that most chips from 2.1 onwards are capable of of Low Energy or BLE as it's known in the industry. The change is simply firmware.

Sorry, wrong. Packet format is different, packet timing is different, encryption is different, even the modulation index of the physical packets is different. BLE is NOT the same at BT2.1. Any chip designed to make even a half-decent fist of 2.1 (in terms of implementation cost and power consumption) isn't going to be able to do BLE - certainly single-mode BLE - without hardware mods. BT2.1 was designed long before BLE saw the light of day. If a particular 2.1 chip *can* do BLE by firmware upgrade only, then that's by luck alone - the designers happened to make the right parameters configurable in firmware - and you shouldn't generalise from that particular case.

Biggest ever jump in web, non-store retail sales for June

Pete Wood

Much cheaper to shop online

As another Cambridge denizen, I couldn't agree more. Most town centres are now no-go areas as far as a "quick pop down the shops" goes. Traffic queues, parking charges, fuel prices, aggro and hassle. Why would I want to shop in a standard UK town centre any more?

There are exceptions - towns that don't have standard identikit highstreets (I spent a few days in Hastings Old Town last month, lovely) are a joy, but why would I want to pay a fortune and lose half my day to walk down a crowded high street full of exactly the same shops and offers as every other high street? All of which are duplicated online anyway.

Amazon offers me free delivery to my home or workplace - whichever is more convenient - on even a single CD or a single book.

I think that Mary Portas has her work cut out on this one...

Sandi Toksvig puts the 'n' into cuts - on the Beeb

Pete Wood

I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue

Wasn't it on ISIHAC that Steven Fry was asked to provide a definition of the word "Countryside" and replied "Killing Piers Morgan" ?

If people want to be outraged, they'll always find a way to be so. Toksvig's joke may not be the cleverest bit of wordplay in the world, but it's better than no wordplay at all, and wordplay is at the heart of a lot of the best humour on Radio 4....

Verity Stob and the super subjunction

Pete Wood
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Very funny

Spot on. Or as Verity would probably want me to say it, having not fully upgraded myself: Like !!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wanted: 1 solution architect to fist bankers' asses

Pete Wood


=> I'm at a loss...

"first assess", perhaps...?

Beware of cold call scammers pushing rogue antivirus

Pete Wood

Not new

Not new. Here's something I wrote on our company's internal newsgroups back in Nov 2009:

Got home on Tuesday to hear my wife tell me that she'd been phoned during the day by someone from Tech On support who are a UK supplier of support for Microsoft XP, that they'd received a report from Microsoft (via the error reporting system) that we'd been having trouble and that they were going to help her.

Being far from stupid, and very suspicious, she took down their (01865, Oxford, UK!!!) phone number and said that her husband might call them back.

I duly did, for a laugh, having googled first. 'twould appear to be a known scam, they'll charge you upwards of £100 to remotely "fix" your computer for you, and will talk you through the process of opening your firewall, etc, to let them in. Marvellous. The even have a website to tell you how great they are.

The "Oxford" phone number appeared to redirect to a (judging by what I heard) VoIP link to somewhere in India.

After hearing the spiel I asked, somewhat forcefully, exactly how they had come by my phone number. I was put through to a "supervisor" who explained to me that they had an R&D department who received these fault reports and supplied them with details of the users so that they could phone up and help them.

Hybrid CD vinyl unites warring tribes

Pete Wood

@AJ Stiles

=> Idler drive or direct drive (preferably with a 16-pole brushless motor) are where it's at.

And just how big and heavy a plinth is your Garrard installed in?

Pete Wood

Nyquist et al

Oh dear. It's friday, it's lunchtime, I'll bite.

=> [...Nyqyist] That's a mathematically proven way to avoid aliasing. .... The

=> sampling rate of CDs was selected so that every audible frequency

=> could be stored without aliasing.

Yes, it's proven *mathematically*, and it's about aliasing. In practice, however, in order to actually prove it by demonstration as opposed to mathematics, you need theoretically perfect brickwall filters at both ends, which cut off very sharply at the chosen "nyquist frequency".

Actual filters - digital or analogue - don't do that. They have real and often subjectively unpleasant behaviour, phase oddities, pre-echo (where you get a signal that wasn't even in the original...), etc. For decent (ie transparent in the interesting part of the passband) performance you want the knee or turnover frequencies of the filters - near which the effects are usually worst - to be as far from the useful part of the passband as possible.

Nothing wrong with digital audio per se, but it turns out that 44KHz was a pretty pants sample rate to have chosen, it was simply a limitation of the available technology at the time. Higher sample rates (96KHz, 192KHz, and so on) leave the filter designers with a much easier (read: physically possible) job to do.

=> Irrespective of the quality of CDs for reproducing audio, I for one have

=> no interest in whether the medium I'm listening to can reproduce

=> frequencies I can't hear.

Ditto. I'd just like it to properly reproduce the frequencies that I *can* hear, please.

Wikileaks' US army 'leaker' arrested

Pete Wood

Heard Lamo on Radio 4 last night

Heard Lamo being interviewed on PM last night, on BBC Radio 4, so interested parties can probably find it on the BBC's Listen Again service.

His basic line (as far as I can remember, I was trying to drive through traffic at the time) was that if all Manning had done was to leak the video, he'd never have shopped him, he regarded the guy as a hero for that. However, Lamo felt that the threat of releasing a quarter of a million diplomatic texts about the war in Iraq would almost certainly result in many more deaths, and he said he didn't thik he'd be able to sleep with that on his conscience, so he felt he had to act.

Microscope-wielding boffins crack cordless phone crypto

Pete Wood

Pedants' corner....

=> more than 800 million cordless phones worldwide,

=> demonstrating once again the risks of relying on

=> obscure technologies

If 800 million instances - something like 1 for every 6 members of the global population - of a technology counts as "obscure", how many would have to be sold in order to count as "popular"?

Barclays online banking borked

Pete Wood

Still down

Still down (@16:25 BST) though this time I got to type my PINsentry code in before it said it didn't know who I was and threw me out again.

Generally speaking, FF works just fine for me with the site.

Apple code of secrecy imperils Aunt Mildred

Pete Wood

And just how big does a video viewer need to be?

So I picked up an Apple quicktime update the other day. Probably have to do it again now, but hey, that's (apparently some sort of) life. But just how big does a bloody video player need to be?

Your article page shows the problem - a screenshot saying that you get iTunes - which I don't want - as well as quicktime, the whole bloody lot taking up 80Mbytes, a significant download time and (on my fairly beefy XP PC) an absolute yawning aaaaaage to install!

Compared to this, the monthly micro$oft update is a semi-automated doddle. I thought Apple were supposed to be the UI experts?


Doctors rally for right to call UK.gov quangonista a 'sh*t'

Pete Wood

Is this manager a complete idiot?

Management 101: If someone were to post to an internal newsgroup saying that I was a sh*t, I'd hope my reaction, at least after a cup of tea :-), would be to try to work out why someone who is presumably educated, well-motivated and gives a toss (because usually that language is only used by people who actually care...) felt that such an outburst was their only remaining option.

If (a) I'm in charge, (b) I've pissed them off and (c) they feel they're powerless to do anything about it, then as a manager I should be really concerned. If I think I'm doing the right thing, why does one of my staff think I'm a shit?

Or, right, of course, I could just gag them, screw their career and turn them into a martyr. That would the the NuLab way, after all.

Government kids database under fire, again

Pete Wood

Absolute insanity

So 330,000 people will have access to data about my son (bet I won't have it myself unless I pay a fee) and there's nothing I can do about it? I'm not a pop star or an MP (thank God on both counts, I hear you say) so I just get to have my family's kimono opened in public? And exactly what good is this going to do me?

So MPs and other "important" people will get their children "shielded"? And this will be done by local government, that famously cash-rich and IT literate branch of the government? And will they have extra resources to do this? Or will they just cut some other useful service instead in order to find the resources to do it? Or will they just put my poll tax up again? As an exercise in central government blame-management, it's first class. The result will, however, be a first-class fuck-up.

I'm tempted to say Never Mind, if something bad happens to an MP's child then it'll serve the useless bastards right; but as a parent myself I couldn't wish harm on any child just to score a political point.

Never had to use the steam-coming-out-of-my-ears icon before.


Final Arthur C Clarke novel on the way

Pete Wood

@Dai Kiwi

=> Spider Robinson hash of an unfinished Heinlein work? Dire!

How would you tell? Wasn't most of Heinlein's later work pretty dire anyway? I always found it (past tense, can't bear to think about re-reading it after the disappointment of reading it as it came out) excruciatingly bloated, self-indulgent, self-referential and ultimately pointless.

Mine's the one with the asbestos outer-layer...

Dead wife contacts Lancs man via SMS

Pete Wood

@Sam Liddicott

Errr, no I wasn't trying to be rational, pro or anti- ghost, when I titled my contribution "There's a simpler explanation...". I was just trying to make a joke about cats. Which at least a few people have spotted, I'm happy to say.

As a rational engineer sort of person, I can't believe in ghosts. However, I do believe that I grew up, many years ago, with a poltergeist. I'm therefore confused. So cat jokes are good....


Pete Wood

There's a simpler explanation....

=> The Thing had "pulled at their bed covers while they were asleep"

=> and that they "sensed a vile smell and felt something breathing in

=> their ears".......there was a lot of banging and an earthy smell in

=> the house.

Had they not lived with a pet cat before?

Mine's the one with the muddy paw prints and the dead mouse tucked up the sleeve.....

Heathrow 777 crash flattens servers

Pete Wood

This was a good landing

There's been a few comments here about whether this was a crash. I always thought that the rule was:

A Good Landing is one you can walk away from

An Excellent Landig is one where you can use the aeroplane again

Swish of coat through door....

Most home routers 'vulnerable to remote take-over'

Pete Wood
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Enabled by default on BT Home Hub

UPnP seems to be enabled by default on BT's Home Hub. Not any more on mine, as of last night. Thanks, El Reg!

UK nuke-power plans leak early

Pete Wood
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At last, some common sense

At last, some common sense. We've had the Government messing about for far too long trying to appease the lentil-chewing brigade who apparently believe that 60 million people can live in this country in some sort of rustic agrarian paradise with no transport and no power. We've created a society that needs large-scale bulk power generation, and it now turns out to need it with zero CO2 emissions. So we need to deal with that requirement. Nuclear is the only option.

It's going to cause a big problem of disposal. We'll have to deal with that too. That's uncomfortable, but not half as uncomfortable as doing nothing. Meantime, we should plough money into Fusion reearch too.

Excellent posts from Chronos, Big_Boomer, Stuart et al

The art of software murder

Pete Wood
Paris Hilton

Adobe not wholly evil...

Adobe aren't wholly evil. Last year they bought a good program used by photographers - Pixmantec RawShooter - and have so far turned it into a significantly better one - Adobe Lightroom. It ain't broke (yet!). Still, they're only on v1.x, I guess that there's time yet...


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