* Posts by Robert Harrison

163 publicly visible posts • joined 4 Apr 2007


2015 was the Year of the Linux Phone ... Nah, we're messing with you

Robert Harrison

Re: Re Linux Desktop

The simple counter argument to this is the "Law of Leaky Abstractions". There is always immense value in being able to look underneath the layer your .Net, Java, PHP, etc environment provides and understand enough of the processes there-in.

Of course, this doesn't take away from being productive and using today's tools as they should be used.

Google's super-AI boffin, Bilderberg nobs, and a secret Austrian confab

Robert Harrison

I completely agree Trevor.

My naive optimism thought for a moment this is nothing more than the rich kids in the playground exchanging encrypted notes as part of their 'super secret' club. Maybe this is how the ultra rich and powerful just get their kicks.

Then again, maybe not... This level of secrecy, like TTIP, too often suggests items not for the common good.

Welcome, stranger: Inside Microsoft's command line shell

Robert Harrison

Not so impressed with Powershell

Maybe this has since been resolved, but I remember being underwhelmed by my first major outing with Powershell.

The task was to replace some aging VB scripts that communicated with Exchange Server 2003 via CDO. The exchange server was being replaced with Exchange 2010 which of course no longer supported CDO in favour of Exchange Web Services (EWS).

So we selected Powershell to use the EWS API. We ended up with a custom C# snippet in the Powershell script that implemented an accept-all certificate handler to work around the connection errors we were experiencing between the script and Exchange (as advised by MSDN and MS blogs).

Oh and of course make sure for the love of god that you selected the right number of bits (32 versus 64) when you executed the PS script. And that you selected *exactly* the right version of the EWS API DLL to download and deploy, otherwise PS just threw an exception.

All this just to read certain subject lines from emails in an Inbox. Conclusion: Even in 2014 the tools felt like a poor beta.

(Oh yes, code signing PS scripts with the cmdlet. Sometimes it just wouldn't. But take the script + code signing cert to a similar workstation and then it worked. Weird!)

This optical disc will keep your gumble safe for 2,000 YEARS

Robert Harrison

It's just unfortunate...

...That the designs for building a replica drive to read one of these discs, 2000 years from now, were written with Microsoft Office 2013.

NASA probe snaps increasingly detailed shots of MOIST DWARF goddess

Robert Harrison

Re: Curry

Bloody raisins? That does sound exotic!

DOCX disaster recovery: How I rescued my wife from XM-HELL

Robert Harrison

Re: Which Office product is at fault?

"...Actually, the culprit is IMHO MS for creating that horrific excuse of a format..."

So it's the format's fault the code didn't work eh? :-)

(Not that I have any particular love for OOXML myself)

Robert Harrison

Which Office product is at fault?

Trevor, from the 1st para it feels like you're blaming MS Office, where in fact LibreOffice is the culprit behind the original issue:

"...Word wouldn’t open an important file, dying instead with the error “the name in the end tag of the element must match the element type in the start tag”. Translated from Microsoftese: “The word processor that created this document made an XML boo-boo, and Word is going to refuse to read this document now...”

"...The wife was using an old version of LibreOffice Writer (v4.1) and had made several changes to hyperlinks in one area of the document. Writer got confused somehow, opened a hyperlink tag, but didn’t actually put in any information as to where it was hyperlinking to, and didn’t close the tag."

I'm trying not to be biased here, MS Office works-for-me (tm) but I can't argue with LibreOffice's price tag :-)

UK's pirate-nagging VCAP scheme WON'T have penalties – report

Robert Harrison

Re: everyone wins from Piracy

This is an interesting comment. I can't help but think that similar applies to the current net neutrality issue. Without content (from the likes of Youtube, Netflix, Facebook, Twitter, Vimeo, etc etc) most of us would find our broadband subscriptions less of a necessity. Shock horror, content and delivery are symbiotic.

Quick Q: How many FLOPPIES do I need for 16 MILLION image files?

Robert Harrison

Yes it was always the 23rd disk in a 25 disk set that had a bad sector. I think it was an industry standard or something.

Microsoft to get in XP users' faces with one last warning

Robert Harrison

XP Activation

The real question is how long until the XP activation servers are switched off? For those of us who activate virtual XP instances occasionally for testing environments and the like.

Wii got it WRONG: How do you solve a problem like Nintendo?

Robert Harrison

Wii was only ever 'ok'

Poor Nintendo. We've got a Wii at home which still gets used regularly. But, as the kids grow up we won't be upgrading to a Wii-U. Instead it will be either an Xbox or PS3 / 4 / 5. The games are 'ok'. It's easy to use and I happen to like the controllers. (The Lego series of games have kept the Wii going for us [buying them second hand mostly]).

So why not buy a Wii-U?

Sadly for the Wii it never had anything going for it to keep hold of the user in the Nintendo ecosystem:

- Limited graphics

- Dull built-in apps (The Mii plaza became boring after creating the first Mii)

- Crappy email app (who wants to send/remember email to <crazy-long-id>@nintendo.com?)

- Nintendo discontinued the Weather channel which was the only built-in app the kids actually ever bothered looking at.

- Limited web browsing via the Opera channel (free, then paid for, then free again.)

- Ability to play DVDs? No.

- Ability to play music collections? No.

- Ability to integrate? Beyond the Youtube channel - No.

- Live chat with fellow Wii players? No.

- So many people I know still have Wii consoles, did they ever link them together after all these years? No - because there was *nothing* to do once linked.

The Wii *should* have at least been a home entertainment system with better than average games and a better multiplayer environment. A throwaway console.

Three-yaarrgh! Major UK mobile network's data goes down

Robert Harrison

Information is king

Struggled to get mobile data access til about 11am-ish. It's a shame that the outage was not mentioned on three's site alongside their planned maintenance section which simply stated 'no planned maintenance in your area' (or thereabouts). Is it difficult to keep users informed?

Fisher-Price in hot seat: iPad bouncy chair lets APPLE BABYSIT tots – parents

Robert Harrison

Ouch good call.

It reminded me of 'wall-e' when the babies of 'modern humanity' are briefly seen at playschool being taught by a robot.

"B is for Buy n' Large - your very best friend."

ESA readies Rosetta for next year's comet touchdown

Robert Harrison

Re: fix a leak in helium tank?

But who will fix R2 if he fails / breaks / gets shot by Darth Vader ?

Decades ago, computing was saved by CMOS. Today, no hero is in sight

Robert Harrison

Re: The next giant leap

Unfortunately, unless the all new and improved version that's now much faster and more secure comes with new features you're off to a losing start. Try convincing your manager or the finance team:

a.) That the new version will be the same as the old version, heck it might even have fewer features.

b.) That the new version will cost (assume relatively tiny app) 20 man months to develop, document [1] and test [2].

c.) That whilst the new version has no new features it will be faster and more secure [3].

[1] A robust design will need to be well documented if it's to be a reliable platform for future versions.

[2] A robust design will still need extensive testing shurely, it's not going to be bug free and arguably as a new software baseline could be more buggy initially than the predecessor version. Better the devil you know.

[3] Well it was faster and more secure until the requirements creep started...

Oh, a Wyse guy, eh? Why I oughta make you Nexenta's new CEO

Robert Harrison

It's a people problem

It always makes me wonder who is responsible for the success or failure of a company? Even the most competent, dynamic and intelligent CEO is to some extent at the mercy of inept staff and lower level management (although you would expect the CEO to remove the dead weight) . Likewise, an incompetent or indifferent CEO will be offset by a capable engineering and/or management team. Does a CEO on their own have the magic touch to turn a business around ?

Whopping supersonic-car rocket rattles idyllic Cornwall

Robert Harrison
Thumb Up

Re: Not really a ‘car’, is it?


Suggest that you go look at the website and read up on the schools that are seriously following this project. No you're probably not going to put a 1,000mph car into general production itself, but you will gain insight into any new electromechanical designs, chemistry and material science breakthroughs as a result. And possibly convince a few kids that they don't want to be Wayne Rooney.

HMRC becomes first gov tentacle to buy cloud through G-Cloud

Robert Harrison

This is actually an efficiency saving

After all why expose just a partial data set by leaving a USB stick on a train/bus/back of a taxi. You won't even have to replace the lost one.

Airline leaves customer on hold for 15 hours

Robert Harrison


Lee I just want to say - long post and yet you had me hooked and reading from start to finish.

I couldn't agree with you more. Have you considered writing a customer service horror stories and "how not to do it book" ? :)

Sony SmartWatch Android remote

Robert Harrison

Re: got one of these

It worked for David Hasselhoff... Oh wait

HP and SAP: What we need is a MASHED UP cloud

Robert Harrison

My impression of CCWF

"'We've moved away from doing it cheaper' (Thank god)"

Really? The overriding emphasis I got from attending day 1 of the event was that everything was cheaper "in the cloud" because you "only pay for what you use". (I didn't attend the HP / SAP presentation unfortunately.) The aforementioned terminology did seem to get bandied around a lot along with the "single pane of glass" expression I'll add to my buzzwords collection. There was also an abundance of dashboards, dashboards, dashboards - lots of vendors with pretty control panels on display.

I get the idea that cloud probably represents a step in the right direction and does indeed seem to offer flexibility and versatility our world demands. However, questions over whose local law your data is subject to and vendor lock-in still remain. I took El Reg's advice (from a previous cloud article here) and asked a vendor about avoiding lock-in. Sure enough, he didn't have an answer!

Side note: Entrance to the venue was a bit of a shambles - long big snaking queue of people all waiting to scan in at only 5 shiny terminals.

'Now we understand what's required to explode a supernova' - NASA

Robert Harrison

Re: Red matter is bullshit

... dispatched via a naff little rocket launched from a rickety metal gantry where, after ascending at about the speed of your average domestic firework, it suddenly covers several million miles to reach its target.

I've seen that movie too.

Windows 8 tablet freezes in Microsoft keynote demo

Robert Harrison

Re: So what /should/ have been done?

That's great but what happens when you simply cannot access the machine (i.e. no networking, no remote PC, X completely locked). That's a reboot for you. And hope that when X starts post-boot it doesn't freeze again.

Just managed to convert an existing Debian box into a media centre. It was more painful than I was expecting but at least the result is pretty good.

On a side note, thumbs up to:

Linux kernel, Grub (with Raid), Debian, XBMC, Subsonic

Thumbs down to:

Alsa, Wifi setup

Brit space agency sends up 1st satellite

Robert Harrison

Am I going crazy or does that look like a good ol' red telephone box?

Paramount opens Cloud-based movie shop

Robert Harrison

This is most likely a step in the right direction. But is it priced in a way that will tempt me away from waiting for a few months to get the DVD release cheap from play.com et al? Probably not. Just my opinion.

Best Buy to shutter all UK megastores

Robert Harrison

Agreed, the one at the Merry Hill complex in the Midlands was always good to browse through. Staff were even generally helpful *horror*

Gas bill climbed £13,000 after correct online reading given

Robert Harrison

I had a similar story with Scottish Power. I had the usual quartely 'your meter readings are due' email reminder. Logged in to Scottish Power and noticed that the previous meter readings were unusually low (in the 00's) instead of around the 7000 mark. Turns out the previous reading was supplied by someone who turned up to read the meter.

I thought nothing of it and entered the correct readings. Scottish Power's website then proceeded to tell me that I owed them £9000. Of course you are then locked out from supplying any different readings for that day. Rang customer services, on hold for 30 minutes! (Argh) and was told politely by the operator that she was also locked out of editing my account. However, to her credit she at least rang me back 15 minutes later to say she'd had a word with her supervisor and managed to correct everything. Although she did say check the follow up bill and call them back if there were any problems. I notice this becoming more common practice these days, get the customer to do the work that the service/utility provider should be doing themselves and not allowing to happen in the first place.

Scientists crack spotless Sun mystery

Robert Harrison


It looks like my 6 year old son has been adding 'heat lines' to the cut away graphic. That'll teach me for letting him use MS Paint.

At long last, internet's root zone to be secured

Robert Harrison

@AC 00:49

"secure dns uses public key crypto to generate digital signatures of the output from strong hash algorithms like md5 and sha. 1024 or 2048 bit rsa keys are never going to be broken in "roughly 3 hours", except for the dumbest hollywood movie scripts"

Uh isn't MD5 considered reasonably trivial amongst the available encryption algorithms? And a 1K or 2K key seems good but surely if this serves as the DNS root key you would anticipate that there would be a *lot* of parties interested in breaking this key with the computing power to throw at it.

But then I know little about DNS so flame away.

Governator revives anti-violent video game crusade

Robert Harrison

Computer games?

Never mind the computer games, violent films, gory books and so on.. The thing that really brings the red mist down is watching MPs with their snouts in the troughs, bankers taking huge bonuses whilst pissing the economy away and any special privilege granted to the political and social elite.

And yes, young people are smart enough to realise this also which probably helps explain why the youth of today[1] are so angry.

[1] ok, ok, youth have always been angry.

Another 0.03% of Blighty goes wind powered

Robert Harrison

@AC 13:38

"A solar plant the size of one nuclear reactor will indeed produce sod all electricity. But a million solar plants, each the size of an average houses roof, will produce a considerable amout more."

And how many years will you need to generate electricity from those million solar plants to repay the initial massive outlay in emissions and materials required to manufacture them and accompanying spare parts in the first place, before you start saving the world?

Robert Harrison

Nuclear ftw

To all the hippy types like Dominic above. So you're willing to cover most of the landmass and most of the coastal areas with wind turbines then. Obviously think nothing of the emission and raw materials cost of all that aluminium and steel construction and infrastructure. Think nothing of the year on year cost of maintaining and servicing all this countrywide engineering gear. Think nothing of the regular blackouts when we do actually get nice hot still summer days.

Sure, mix some wind power (amongst others) into the total energy provision but only where its appropriate, i.e. foster R&D into improving the efficiency/output of the things.

However, large scale centralised power output is most likely the only way we will be able to achieve independence from fossil fuel whilst maintaining current demand. (Ensuring every tom, dick and harry has their own wind turbine/solar power system is again a massive manufacturing effort to churn out product + spares, again something the greenies are not keen on)

As for future demand, a previous poster mentions electric cars which no doubt the hippies are raving about. Get on your exercise bike[1] + dynamo if you want to use that car in the morning.

With hindsight its a damn shame we haven't invested more time and effort into researching nuclear. Even worse that we've effectively sold it all off. Come back all is forgiven!

Oh and Dominic raising the price of electricity merely penalises those who are struggling to afford it anyway, the elite energy abusers will barely bat an eyelid.

[1] or attach wheels.

ContactPoint goes live despite security fears

Robert Harrison

In summary

Before CP: My 2 kids are known to me, my wife, some friends and family, GP, local hospital, local school, HMRC, child benefit office.

After CP: Any one of 300,000+ dullards who fancy an idle trawl of the database today/tomorrow.

Hmm, which one is more secure? Which one do I have at least some sort of idea of how/where my data is/being used? But then I'm just 1 out of millions of people right? Security through anonymity in that sense, nothing to hide nothing to fear right?

The great social conditioning experiment rolls on...

Ubuntu fluffs web file-synchronization service

Robert Harrison

online storage

Is all very well and good, but until the likes of Virgin Media wake up and realise that there is a legitimate reason for upload as well as download backing up anything over 100meg is still going to take ages. USB stick for me still.

Microsoft opens up for Office SP2

Robert Harrison

@OpenOrifice blah - Tim J

I must congratulate you on your excellent FUD comment.

I use Office 2007 at work - from time to time it crashes or formatting goes wonky.

I use Openoffice.org 3 at home - from time to time it crashes or formatting goes wonky.

Note that the above comments are less vague and hand wavy than yours.

IWF denies wielding Pirate Bay banhammer

Robert Harrison


"...G rated only programs (24/7 teletubbies). As you do not have the expertise to identify suspect material they will also now select the books, internet sites and all other literature that you are able to read..."

Careful now... our friends across the Atlantic found Teletubbies offensive 'cos they thought that Tinky Winky was a gay icon. TV channels with just 100% pure advertising are the only way to go. As long as there are no Cadburys flake adverts.

No charges for terror arrest Tory

Robert Harrison


Did they take Mr. Green's DNA sample as part of the arrest? And, more importantly, will they.. er... be giving it back to him by deleting it off the database?

Debian 'Lenny' arrives: bigger, longer, searchable

Robert Harrison

@AC 0756

"I wonder if they've fixed that in this release -if you've ever tried to install packages outside of the package manager on Debian you'd know what an understatement "difficult" is."

Am I feeding a troll? Aww go on, have a little tidbit:

Yes, however this is true of any software package with dependencies that you're trying to install on any platform, not specific to Debian. It's also an 'edge' case that you're not using the package manager, surely not an everyday thing. Although specific to the .deb system at least dpkg tells you what the required packages are + their version numbers.

Public support for ID cards dips to 55 per cent

Robert Harrison

And 45% are in favour!?

Ignoring the usual 'lies, damn lies and statistics' clause maybe the people running the survey were offering chocolate bars for punters who gave the 'correct' answer.

Brit chemist conjures smell of outer space

Robert Harrison


"fried steak, hot metal and even welding a motorbike"

There seems to be a link here, fried, hot, welding (specifically a motorbike though wtf?!) all suggest the astronaut is smelling their somewhat irradiated suit after coming in from out of the cold.

Maybe this geezer could try ironing spacesuits with an x-ray machine to reproduce the scent.

Das überdatabase: Inside Wacky Jacqui's motherbrain

Robert Harrison


Do you get the feeling that Wacky Jacqui sleeps with the light on, maybe she's just a frightened little girl inside. awwww!

Of course, there are other players at work in this ridiculous parade.

Ford cars to gain prang-preventing radar rigs

Robert Harrison

Agree with 'luddites'

"It's a good thing, as would be a car that could drive itself and completely avoid all accidents."

Ah the self drive car. Now that would be cool. Given the lengthy commute these days I would be far happier reading a book or playing a game on a laptop rather than seethe at all the idiocy on the roads. Myself and all the rest of the 'perfect' drivers being included in that idiocy of course.

IT contractor caught stealing Shell Oil employee info

Robert Harrison


Lets hope we can hurry up and complete the national ID, ContactPoint et al databases. It'll make a dodgy contractor or disgruntled employee's life so much easier. At least someone will be happy.

Trigger-happy Welsh cops taser sheep

Robert Harrison


Was the wool turned to nylon?

Y'know as in:

Mary had a little lamb;

She tied it to a pylon,

ten thousands volts shot up its ^&*^

and .. so on.

We need to know. If someone has already posted this elsewhere, that means there are *2* really sad gits in the world.

BT's Phorm small print: It's all your fault

Robert Harrison

Virgin Media update with regard to Phorm

Just spoke to a lady from VM in regard to a recent complaint letter about broadband reliability in my area[1]. I happened to ask about Phorm, having contacted them previously about it and whilst on the phone.

The good news at least is that she was very much aware of Phorm, it sounded like many other customers have also been in contact with the same concerns.

Anyway, she stated that all VM have *at the moment* is a technical adviser from Phorm but there is still no actual implementation on the horizon as it were.

The bad news is that she trotted out the same 'it doesn't store personally identifiable information about you' line. She also insisted rightly or wrongly that it does not perform interception of your web stream. (WTF? I'm sure you'll be thinking.) The final comment from her reiterated that there is nothing in the pipeline yet in terms of implementation.

So the ballet goes on.

[1] I'm apparently going to receive a sparkly new cable modem. Whoop! Shame it won't come packaged with a glittery new infrastructure too.

Postman Pat goes postal

Robert Harrison

Bah what's all the rush

And there was me thinking that the newer Postman Pat series was souped up (shown on CBeebies recently)! Personally I still prefer the much older 'originals' where Pat might just about have a cup of tea before delivering a letter, or help dig Ted Glenn out of a snow drift. Old school.

Royal Society says goodbye to creationism row vicar

Robert Harrison


Nice to see all the spittle and froth in response to my comment some weeks ago. Interesting reaction considering I don't disagree with the theory of evolution. Way to go zealots. What I was trying to say in a nutshell was "never stop questioning", maybe I should have just posted that in big crayon letters.

Anyway, @J

"Hm... what does abiogenesis have to do with evolution, exactly? That's right, nothing." Ok I hold my hand up here and say I know nothing, tell me in big crayon letters why the two are unrelated given that one follows logically from the other? Or maybe my definition of evolution is inapplicable here.

And suppose that a fossil was found that dramatically changed the way we perceive natural history (please note I'm not saying how), what then would all the absolutists do? After all we've only seen something like 3% of the total fossil record.

Carry on Flaming. Oooh saucy.

Tw*tdangler defends Benito Mussolini stunt

Robert Harrison

@Lee 15:06

Now that made me laugh, have you been reading TVGoHome recently?

OpenSocial, OpenID, and Google Gears: Three technologies for history's dustbin

Robert Harrison


It does seem that there is a disparity between Google churning out software and other 'houses' churning out software. And in this respect, according to the comments above, Google can seem to only poop rainbows. If other 'houses' churn out bad software, even in a so-called benevolent fashion, they're placed firmly and squarely on the crap pile (especially our favourite bad boys: Microsoft), but not Google. Just remember, there is no definitive Kool Aid, rather a number of different flavours.

Sockpuppeting civil servant Wikifiddles himself

Robert Harrison

OMG!!!1one The real reason for the national identity database

So that civil servants have got an effectively infinite source of 'identities' to pretend to be whilst on t'internet.

I predict there will soon be a website called whodoyouwanttobetoday.com which at the click of a button ('I feel lucky' anyone?) will serve you a new identity chosen at random from 1 of 60 million possibilities.

Just remember I claim IP on the above and 50% of all resulting revenues.