* Posts by Graham Newton

62 posts • joined 3 Apr 2007


The world's nonsense keeping you awake in middle of the night? Good news. Go outside and see this two-tail comet

Graham Newton

Re: So many comet flops

I saw it from a playing field near my town centre. Once you knew where to look it was fairly obvious with the naked eye. I did find it at first by scanning with my binoculars checking each star for a bit a fuzziness when the tail appeared spread right across my field of view. A real WOAH moment.

Moore's Law is deader than corduroy bell bottoms. But with a bit of smart coding it's not the end of the road

Graham Newton

Re: DEC Fortran

My final year project at Uni was a mathematical model of the human eye at low light intensity. Like the article it relied on loop within loops. The university computer was a DEC 10 and the program was written in Fortran.

I spent a lot of time ensuring that the program would run to completion without intervention. Unlike my fellow student who would babysit their programs overnight.

However my program consumed 12 hours of run time and was terminated. I got a "see me" email.

I was worried, this was my final year project.

They didn't bollock me but suggested that I sent my program to Manchester University . Not knowing about modems I thought I had to send my program by post but was put straight on this.

After a compile failure a CDC (Control Data)machine executed my program in less than a second.

This taught me that you had to program to the machine, not try to make it do things it wasn't built to do.

So for example I have:

Used the Transputers ability to do 2D memory manipulation and paralleled processing and CPU core linking to to do image processing for world class astronomical telescopes.

Produced a minimal memory and CPU cycle timesliceing OS to run experiments on the Cassini Huygens lander.

Programmed SHARC DSPs to operate on multiple audio streams concurrently using the SIMD mode.

Normal programming makes me weep, it's sledgehammer all the way, no artistry, no finesse.

I sit and wonder WTF when it takes several seconds for a word document to load.

Laughing UK health secretary launches COVID-19 Test and Trace programme with glitchy website and no phone app

Graham Newton

Re: Oh No Surely Not...

My Wife is a track and tracer and is employed by the NHS and is certainly not doing it at at minimum wage. There are also no targets.

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

Graham Newton

Being on the receiving end

When I worked at the Royal Greenwich Observatory we used to send heavy equipment to our observatory on the Canary Islands by freighter. We were very surprised when we were informed that a Harrier jump jet had landed on it.


Tinfoil hat brigade switches brand allegiance to bog paper

Graham Newton

Re: Friday

Is there is also a Sociology and Theoretical Hairdressing course ?

The delights of on-site working – sun, sea and... WordPad wrangling?

Graham Newton

I had a ROM emulator that used a parallel port dongle. Anyway the dongle went missing so using the old DOS debug tool I found the test that detected the dongle and NO-OPed it out in the exe,

15 years on, Euroboffins finally work out what it took to send the Huygens Titan probe into such a spin

Graham Newton

Re: seems sloppy

They did test it:


Graham Newton

Re: New Reg unit?

I wrote the firmware for that. As we planned for solid/liquid or a bit of both I suppose that statement is sort of correct.

Today's budget for application improvements is brought to you by the letters "Y", "K" and the number "2"

Graham Newton

More pointless form filling

I had the pointless form filling which had to be done for everything software related. One of the boxes was "Impact on organisation" i.e. would our organisation be splashed all over the papers if we cocked it up?

One of my "items" was a computer system on the Cassini Huygens spacecraft. Which would have been a BIG DEAL if it went wrong. Fortunately we just did seconds since mission T0, no dates involved.

As it turned out they need not have worried about Y2K as a disaster of a replacement accounting system made the front page of Computer Weekly and the NAO list of worst public IT failures.

Not a death spiral, I'm trapped in a closed loop of customer experience

Graham Newton

Re: This requirement for paper bills/statements...

That may be so but I find if I leave the house name off stuff gets delivered to the mansion house round the corner that has been converted to flats.

Graham Newton

Re: This requirement for paper bills/statements...

I got that here in the UK. My house is called The White House, 'cos it's white. However further proof of address was required from my bank because on the bill it said The Whitehouse which was different. The other three lines including the house number were identical.

Can you download it to me – in an envelope with a stamp?

Graham Newton

I've seen it in Oxford. A foreign student was told his package was "artonvan". When he left rather looking rather confused the post office guy said to everyone waiting "I told him as clear as I could".

Graham Newton

I had a similar problem with wing mirrors.

Both wing mirrors were stolen off my ancient Vauxhall Cavalier. I ordered some from a scrap yard and they didn't turn up. I enquired as to where they were and was told they had got lost in the couriers system and they would be delivered next week.

Then the car was stolen, the next day I got two wing mirrors.

Visual Studio Code 1.35: Remote Development, TypeScript and (sigh) another new icon

Graham Newton

Re: Some, of course, prefer to stick with the likes of Vim,

I was wondering what bouncing brackets are. Anyway you can go to the matching bracket using Ctrl-Shift \. The issue here seems to be the invention of a new term to describe something that already has a meaningful description.

Spooky! Solar System's Planet NINE could be discovered in the next NINE years (plus one to six), say astroboffins

Graham Newton

Astrology SHOULD be able to predict where the planet is from people not behaving/feeling as currently predicted. If it was a real science.

Granddaddy of the DIY repair generation John Haynes has loosened his last nut

Graham Newton

Not always helpful

My all time favourite was for a Fiat 128 3P :- "The manifold is held on by three bolts one of which is inaccessible"

China on its way to becoming the first nation to land on the far side of the Moon

Graham Newton

Re: eliptical orbit satellite...

I initially thought it would be a single satellite in lunar orbit. Receiving and recording when in contact with the lander and then re-transmitting when in contact with Earth, like Cassini Huygens.

However you are correct and there is quite a lot of interesting information in this link.


FYI NASA just lobbed its Parker probe around the Sun in closest flyby yet: A nerve-racking 15M miles from the surface

Graham Newton

Re: 5.3 degrees of sun

I would have approached it differently. From Earth the Moon is the same angular size as the Sun.

The Earth is approximately 90 million miles from the Sun so at the current 15 million miles the probe is 6 time closer so the Sun would appear 6 times bigger. At closest approach at 3.9 million miles, say 4 to make the maths easy then it is 22.5 times closer. So maybe you have a factor of two missing somewhere.

In memoriam: See you in Valhalla, Skype Classic. Version 8 can never replace you

Graham Newton

It works on Linux and it's better than Skype for Business

Well I find it works on Linux really well now. I don't even have to call "Skype" and listen the annoying upbeat message "if you can hear your message then your mic is working" (if you can't you are a hopeless loser). As for Skype for Business well that's pitiful. Like most things in office 365 the so called integration is abysmal. And I've discovered recently that Skype for Business does appear to have echo cancelling.

Tired sysadmin plugged cable into wrong port, unleashed a 'virus'

Graham Newton

Re: Network related

When I worked in an office with smokers, if the weather was fine, I would join them and have a virtual fag. I would then find out from them what was really going on.

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

Graham Newton

And India has working launch sites unlike the UK.

NASA's Curiosity puts cat among the climate pigeons: Lack of CO2 sinks water theory

Graham Newton

So if CO2 is as clear as glass at IR wavelengths at above -50 degree C how do you explain Venus which has a 96% CO2 atmosphere and is a lot hotter than it should be?

Computerised stock management? Nah, let’s use walkie-talkies

Graham Newton

The reply is

"Well they are long enough to reach the floor!"

Microsoft phone support contractors told to hang up after 15 minutes

Graham Newton

Being paid to march

I was working for a company where the office was being shut down and there wasn't much work. So we found stuff to entertain ourselves. One of our colleagues had been a member of the Soviet armed forces and taught us all to march Red Army style.

Mercury to transit Sun: Viewer discretion advised

Graham Newton

Telescope solar filters

DO NOT use the solar eyepieces that come with some cheap import telescopes. These are very dangerous


As mentioned before use Baader Solar Film at the entrance to the main aperture so filtering the light before it enters the telescope optics.

Miguel de Icaza on his journey from open source to Microsoft: 'It's a different company'

Graham Newton


As primarily a Linux developer a Windows developer commented on C# and some useful RPC functionality. So I had a look and it seemed to sort of work.

There were obviously massive gaps in the functionality between .NET and Mono so I monitored the progress of Mono on Linux.

It soon became clear that with the creation of Xamarin then Mono on Linux wasn't really going anywhere. I am of the opinion that de Icanza is a politician. He'll tell you what you want to hear but if something better comes along he'll go for it. I don't blame him for furthering his career but it's not because he is a great coder or really committed to open source.

I don't believe the open source team were always talking to the .NET guys because why would Mono have so many deficiencies. de Icanza may have been talking to MS but I don't think it filtered down to open source but de Icanza used this to get to where he is now. Just like a politician.

I have found the views expressed here to be quite enlightening. I thought it was just me!

Which keys should I press to enable the CockUp feature?

Graham Newton

Re: Rotated screens and "pranks"

You didn't need access to the terminal. You could send the user a messages with the control characters embedded in the text to get the terminal to do all sorts of things when they opened the message.

Happy days indeed

BTC dev: 'Strangling' the blockchain will kill Bitcoin

Graham Newton

Re: Bit bollocks more like

OK step 1

Open (or log into) wallet.

Right, don't have one of those.



Mmmm -- most of them say they are vulnerable. That doesn't sound good.

Right try Bitcoin Wallet as it is not vulnerable.


"Have your Bitcoins always with you, in your pocket! You pay by quickly scanning a QR-code. As a merchant, you receive payments reliably and instantly. Bitcoin Wallet is the first mobile Bitcoin app, and arguably also the most secure!"

Not convinced.

Riddle of cash-for-malware offer in new Raspberry Pi computers

Graham Newton

Re: exe file, on a Pi?

Yes it runs Windows. Full stop. The ARM version. You can load as many exes as you like, nothing will happen unless they have been compiled for ARM. Which they probably haven't.

I did try it and it was very painful. I have learnt the error of my ways and gone back to raspian, cos it just works.

They’re FAT. They’re ROUND. They’re worth almost a POUND. Smart waaatch, smart waaatch

Graham Newton

In the 70's I had a FIVE function digital watch. OK my class mate had a SIX function digital watch but you really should know what year it is.

Windows 10 collects colossal 0.375 per cent market share in July

Graham Newton

Having tried and failed (at least 10 times and including using a USB stick) to upgrade my Toshiba tablet thing I feel the mobile Windows 10 penetration may continue to be "disappointing".

Ginormous HIDDEN BLACK HOLES flood the universe – boffins

Graham Newton

Re: so...

It's no different to measuring the mass of any other object. It's not special just because it is a black hole. The obvious way is to measure the orbital period of orbiting objects.

The other way of looking at is if you can walk away from a car you can walk away from a black hole with the mass of a car.

This unfortunate fact along with Hawking radiation scuppered my invention of the black hole vacuum cleaner.

Server guys: Are you running fewer than 200 virtual machines?

Graham Newton


What do magic quadrants do and where can I get them? Diagon alley perhaps?

Cinnamon 2.6 – a Linux desktop for Windows XP refugees

Graham Newton

Re: So Far they haven't F*cked it up!

Exactly. When I am dealing with a unfamiliar machine it is a relief to be able to find the system console by just clicking on a menu option.. Rather than having to learn how to use the completely alien GUI I have never seen before to find anything at all.

BOFH: Getting to the brown, nutty heart of the water cooler matter

Graham Newton


We used modeled Ginger nut biscuits swimming in lager in a chamber pot .

The future groom had to eat and drink it.

Then we got chucked out the pub.

In a galaxy far, far, far away ... Farthest ever star system discovered

Graham Newton

It's full of galaxies

I think there is only one star in that image. To the top left.

MAYHEM in ORBIT: Russian cargo pod spins OUT OF CONTROL

Graham Newton

Re: Re. spin

Seeing as the spacecraft will be in full sunlight for half an orbit it's presumably not a power issue due to lack of light.


Graham Newton

Radio transmitter under four solar panels.

Having worked on Cassini Huygens, which I presume from the comments by the Beagle team must have been an uncontrolled European spacecraft landing, I find it strange that the radio transmitter was under four solar panels that had to be correctly deployed in order before radio transmission/reception was possible.

We were always concerned about single point failures and despite the compactness of Beagle's design having 4 single point failures before the radio is operational seems unthinkable.

Philae healthier: Proud ESA shows off first comet surface pic

Graham Newton

Re: geo sync ?

Rotation period is 12.4 hours . Geosync orbit about 5km from the centre.

Motorist 'thought car had caught fire' as Adele track came on stereo

Graham Newton

Re: @NUmbers

India and Thailand both have road rules very similar to the UK. But watching the traffic you wouldn't know it.

e.g. Turning right from a minor road on several taxi journeys in India the driver would positioned them self on the right of the road and left turning traffic would have to pass in front and drive round the taxi.

WTF is ... Virtual Customer Premises Equipment?

Graham Newton

Been here before

If the VCE is designed by the same engineers that designed the homehub I was sent, which:

Wouldn't allow a 10.x.x.x subnet

Only allowed a specific set of ports to be opened

Changing the SSID was an advanced feature

Regularly drop the PPoE session

Regularly generated 255 phantom Wifi hotspots one after the other

it will work really well.

Spinning SPACE DUCK is comet-chasing Rosetta probe's PREY

Graham Newton
Thumb Up

Re: duck

Thanks -- pint of Lager please.

SPACE: The FINAL FRONTIER. These are the TEN-YEAR images of star probe Cassini

Graham Newton


The final mission has already been decided and is known as "Grand Finale". The orbiter is to be manoeuvred into a polar (vertical) orbit such that the closest approach is between the rings and the planet which will give some fantastic photos of the planet. This culminates after several such orbits with orbiter falling into Saturn's atmosphere.

Nexus 1 put in orbit to prove 'in space, no one can hear you scream'

Graham Newton

I know Surrey Satellites know their stuff BUT is the phone really unmodified? First of all it has to survive launch vibration. Once in space it will be exposed to radiation and be in a vacuum. Normal electronic don;t really work well in a vacuum. Circuit boards tend to arc so destroying themselves. Non radiation hardened parts will probably fail pretty quickly.

Curiosity needs OS upgrade before getting down to science

Graham Newton

Data rate

I don;t think the data rate information is correct.

Doesn;t agrree with this.


I'm surprised that they have had to upgrade the OS especially after such a short trip. I wrote the s/w for the SSP experiment on Cassini Huygens and the last thing I would have wanted to do was significant s/w upgrades. I didn't use an OS as they are too resource hungary..

On that my data rate allocation was about 2 to 10 slots of 100 bytes per 12 second cycle. (From memory)

However having carried out such an audacious landing procedure an OS upgrade should be a walk in the park.

Plods to get dot-uk takedown powers - without court order

Graham Newton

Is this Digital Spy?

Apart from a few notable exceptions I am astounded at the comments on here. I expect this type of hysterical ranting on Digital Spy which is why I don't go there.

So Nominet changing its rules to allow Websites that are engaged in serious criminal activities to be shut down rather than having to find a loophole to do the same thing is bad?

Nominet obviously think there is a need to be able to do this so they are looking for solutions. Which don't appear to be found here!

Here lies /^v.+b$/i

Graham Newton


Please contact your system administrator.

Unfeasibly vast amphibian found croaked on video card

Graham Newton

Dead frogs

We have a pond with frogs in it. When then die they do tend to bloat and then float to the surface presumably because of gases being created and held inside the frog. Really nice to remove -- not!

So I suspect that is what happened in this case and was probably aided by the heat as a previous commenter has noticed.



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