* Posts by Chris Miller

3509 posts • joined 6 Apr 2007

Great reset? More like Fake Reset: Leaders need a reality check if they think their best staff will give up hybrid work

Chris Miller

Re: Wrong site?

You're assuming a conflict which doesn't necessarily (I would say, usually) exist, between the wishes of employer and employee on this topic. WFH means not having to maintain a large office in an expensive city centre, instead you can just rent flexible, serviced office space (from Regus, or someone else). One major financial services organisation that I'm still close to (but no longer work for) has already closed two large City offices on exactly this basis.

To be clear: some jobs can't be done from home (e.g. plumber, or hardware-related IT roles, if you prefer), some people won't want to work from home even though they could, because they miss the human contact (although they could easily work from their nearest coffee shop, rather than pay thousands to spend several hours a day with their noses pressed into somebody else's armpit), and almost everyone will need to meet in a central location from time to time (one or two days a month, perhaps).

The net result is going to be a lot fewer commuters. I've seen documents from train operating companies that project passenger numbers eventually getting back to 80% of 2019 levels. I think that's a significant over-estimate.

Mountains on neutron stars are not even a millimetre tall due to extreme gravity

Chris Miller

Re: Dragon's Egg

Thirded. Forward was also a research physicist, so the science is highly accurate. He wrote several SciFi novels, including a sequel to Dragon's Egg (Starquake), but the former remains his best, I think.

Happy 'Freedom Day': Stats suggest many in England don't want it or think it's a terrible idea

Chris Miller

Just back from the local supermarket - I'd say 99% of shoppers were wearing masks. The only exception I spotted was a MAMIL who'd popped in to buy a sandwich, he was very apologetic.

United, Mesa airlines order 200 electric 19-seater planes for short-hop flights

Chris Miller

Re: I wonder

The trouble is that rail doesn't run to the start or end point, thanks to Beeching. In N America there's a huge amount of container (they call it 'intermodal') traffic, because it makes perfect sense to truck it by road for 200 miles, transfer it to rail for 2,000 miles and then run it on road another 200 miles to its destination. Hardly any UK journeys are longer than a couple of hundred miles.

Nvidia launches Cambridge-1, UK's most powerful supercomputer, in Arm's neighbourhood

Chris Miller

"Brexit-stricken", rilly?

You've had 5 years for chrissake. Time to blow your nose, dry those tears and move on, like a real grown-up.

Hybrid working? Buckle in, there's no turning back as survey takers insist: You can't make us go back

Chris Miller

How soon we forget! Are the roads as quiet as they were 12 months ago? Obviously not. Are they busier than 2019? I don't think so.

Chris Miller

The future will obviously be a mixture - not every job can be done from home, and most jobs will require occasional presence at a central location. But even people keen to work in an office alongside familiar faces may be dubious about the value of paying thousands of pounds a year in order to spend 2-3 hours a day with their face pressed into another's armpit. And if company's what you need, you can do your homeworking from a shared office location or your local coffeeshop without the commute.

Businesses have already seen the advantage of dispensing with expensive city centre locations. I'm retired now, so my contacts aren't as extensive as they once were, but I personally know of two major financial services operations in the city that have been able (because the timing of their lease worked out for them) to close offices with hundreds of desks and replaced them with serviced accommodation for 40-50 seats.

I'm not sure how all this will pan out - buy shares in Regus?* But train operators are wondering whether peak passenger volumes will eventually recover to 75% of 2019 levels, or only 50%. I think it's worse than that, because even people who do need to commute will find the roads significantly quieter, reducing further the demand for train travel. Remind me, why are we spending £100++ billion on a new train set to 'relieve congestion'?

* this should not be taken as financial advice

China reveals plan to pump out positive news about itself. Let's see what happens when that lands with social media fact-checkers

Chris Miller

Re: Pushback against decades of propaganda might be futile

Marx originated a particular school of economic theory. It wasn't particularly novel or radical at the time (1840s) but the his analysis of the relationship between capital and labor is as valid today as its always been.

Indeed it is, if by "valid" you mean "completely false and based on no evidence whatsoever". The 100+ million dead (and still counting) directly caused by those following Marxist precepts, is merely an incidental bonus.

Security is an architectural issue: Why the principles of zero trust and least privilege matter so much right now

Chris Miller

Re: Buzzword-based networking

It's not simply the hassle, it's the time and money costs of security, too. "Security", for most people/businesses, is "that which prevents me from doing my job/prevents us making money". There are organisations where absolute maximum security is a valid goal - mostly in government, where the inevitable inefficiencies matter less - but for commercial organisations security is always (and should always be) a trade-off. The first question is always " how much security do we need (or can we afford)?"

The argument of the security professional is: "if you think security is expensive, try having a breach". Our role is to help organisations identify threats and the appropriate mitigation measures (which in some cases may be "do nothing").

That Salesforce outage: Global DNS downfall started by one engineer trying a quick fix

Chris Miller

Re: "We have taken action with that particular employee"

Deputy Heads will roll.

More than 1,000 humans fail to beat AI contender in top crossword battle

Chris Miller

Re: One of those US crosswords

Let alone the Listener (now in the Times).

I've got the power! Or have I? Uninterruptible Phone-disposal Stuffup

Chris Miller

I love the local US airports that brand themselves 'International' because there's one flight a week to Canada (or Mexico if they're in the south).

Wi-Fi devices set to become object sensors by 2024 under planned 802.11bf standard

Chris Miller

You're a day early with this April Fool.

Hey, maybe we should all be cat-faced eco-warriors on our daily video chats

Chris Miller

Carbon 'tax' on Bitcoin transactions

Have you seen the cost of doing a Bitcoin transaction at the moment?

How do we combat mass global misinformation? How about making the internet a little harder to use

Chris Miller

It's like someone has never heard of Google Scholar for searching academic results.

Transcribe-my-thoughts app would prevent everyone knowing what I actually said during meetings

Chris Miller

Re: Bloody minutes of a bloody meeting

And so while the great ones depart to their dinner,

The secretary stays, growing thinner and thinner,

Racking his brain to record and report

What he thinks they will think that they ought to have thought.

Arthur Bryant

AI clocks first-known 'binary sextuply-eclipsing sextuple star system'. Another AI will be along shortly to tell us how to pronounce that properly

Chris Miller

Thousands of them. The odds that a pair of stars circling in a randomly aligned orbit will appear to eclipse when viewed from Earth is over 1,000:1 (much the same is true for detecting planets in this way). It's not really known whether there's any tendency for the orbits of widely separated stars to align (say, with the plane of the galaxy), which might improve the odds somewhat.

What does my neighbour's Tesla have in common with a stairlift?

Chris Miller

Re: Charging

You can't use 'fast charge' all the time on EVs - it knackers the battery. Tesla's Superchargers keep track of how many times each vehicle uses them, and if you use them too often, you'll get a 'computer says no'.

Now that's a Finnish-ing move: Finland offers free 90-day tryout of Helsinki tech scene with childcare thrown in

Chris Miller

There are just 15 places available

Wow! Must be the cheapest advertising campaign ever.

The engineer lurking behind the curtain: Musical monitors on a meagre IT budget

Chris Miller

Flying Windows screensaver

Wot, no flying toasters?

Excel Hell: It's not just blame for pandemic pandemonium being spread between the sheets

Chris Miller

Re: I don't think the problem is Excel

A big +1 for education. 25 years ago, I was responsible for 2,000 desktops transitioning from Win 3.1 to Win95. We had three staff dedicated to training, going round the country teaching staff how to use Windows, Word, Excel etc.

There's an assumption that you can take a work experience bod, give them a copy of Excel and they can just get on with it. And the problem is that they probably can produce (after an unnecessary amount of trial and error) something that resembles a working spreadsheet. But they won't know that if you've a table of financial figures summed by row and column (imagine sales numbers divided by product and calendar month) that you should compare the sum of the sums of rows to the sum of the sums of columns, and if they don't agree something has gone wrong. And that's what education teaches you.

Instead we get moaning Minnies like the author of this article saying that Micro$oft is crap, when really the problem lies with management cost-cutting.

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

Chris Miller

Re: Or

Dinorwig is a great technical achievement, but it's good for 1.75GW for 5.25hrs. To keep the lights on for 4 cold, windless* days in February, you'd need well over 300 Dinorwigs. Where shall we put them?

Battery farms are even worse - the biggest in the world - Tesla's plant in S Australia - can deliver 100MW for an hour. So just 30,000 of those to solve the cold snap problem.

Magical thinking.

* or too windy. They're not called unreliables for nothing.

Big IQ play from IT outsourcer: Can't create batch files if you can't save files. Of any kind

Chris Miller

I'm surprised at an outsourcer swiftly implementing a change rather than responding with the standard: "This is not covered under our contract and must therefore be charged at our (outrageous) daily rate." But, this being the civil service, probably the conversation did take place and produced the response: "Don't worry, the taxpayer will cover it."

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

Chris Miller

Re: Among the odder products of the COVID-19 pandemic are “flights to nowhere”

Good joke, but if I'm flying to NYC, I greatly prefer EWR to JFK. Apart from flights being slightly cheaper, immigration is better (still crap, though), as are links into Manhattan.

It's the year of Linux on the... ThinkPad as Lenovo extends out-of-the-box Ubuntu support to nearly 30 machines

Chris Miller

Windows licences, after all, represent a not-insignificant chunk of any PC's retail price.

Do you think Lenovo (or any other manufacturer) pay list price for their tens of millions of licences each year? I'd be surprised if it's in double digits of £ per unit.

The Battle of Britain couldn't have been won without UK's homegrown tech innovations

Chris Miller

Polish Air Force War Memorial

If you look left from the A40, travelling into London, just after passing Northolt, you can glimpse the eagle on top of the Polish Air Force War Memorial. At the end of the war, many settled in England, there's been a thriving Polish Club in Amersham since the 50s.

US military takes aim at 2024 for human-versus-AI aircraft dogfights. Have we lost that loving feeling for Top Gun?

Chris Miller

Re: computers will be used for low-priority work

That example was stitched together (by a human editor) from half-a dozen attempts by the AI.

Happy birthday to the Nokia 3310: 20 years ago, it seemed like almost everyone owned this legendary mobile

Chris Miller

And a battery that would genuinely last for a week on a single charge. Try telling that to th' youth o' today ...

Um, almost the entire Scots Wikipedia was written by someone with no idea of the language – 10,000s of articles

Chris Miller

Re: "Ach ay tha noo"

"If ye can say it's a braw bricht moonlicht nicht, ye're a' richt, ye ken!"

A wee deoch-an-doris - Harry Lauder

Toshiba formally and finally exits laptop business

Chris Miller

Re: Toshiba commercial

In the UK they were advertised with "Ullo Tosh! Gotta Toshiba?", an adaptation of Alexei Sayle's greatest hit: "Ullo Joihn! Gotta new motor?".

Aviation regulator outlines fixes that will get the 737 MAX flying again

Chris Miller

Re: It's a Boeing

Whereas Airbus would never allow fully certified pilots to fly a completely airworthy aircraft into the sea, killing all on board. Air travel is (thanks to a lot of hard work by many able people) an incredibly safe mode of transport, but to claim that one manufacturer is far 'safer' than another is total moonshine.

Chris Miller

Re: So now the FAA is basically mandating multiple data controls

I think you'll find it's always been an option to have more than one AoA sensor. Two wasn't a requirement for certification, which allowed beancounters to select a cheaper variant with only one. I bet nobody asked the pilots.

Chris Miller

Re: AoA sensors

True, but the other main change is that, once overridden, the automatic protection system won't reactivate.

Chris Miller

Re: the plane may find eager customers

99% of pax have not the foggiest idea of what type of aircraft they're flying in and no interest in finding out. My brother (another techie of the type to be found commenting here, with an engineering degree, so quite interested in mechanical things) once told me he'd flown back on a 747. I didn't think they used them on that route, and checking on FlightRadar found it was a 777 - the only possible clue to the difference being the number of decks and the number of engines :).

Dutch Gateway store was kept udder wraps for centuries until refit dug up computing history

Chris Miller

Re: Cow boxes

I, too, have fond memories of Gateway. Their USP in the UK was that they converted their (competitive) US prices from $ to £ at a reasonable rate, rather than the $1=£1 which was then universal (and still applies in some areas, though the real exchange rate has approached much closer to that mark).

But if we want to compare historic prices, take a look at this 1986 price list from Tandon (a tier 3 PC supplier, so they had to be cheaper than Compaq, who had to be cheaper than IBM).

Tony Blair tells Russian infosec conference that cross-border infosec policies need more gov intervention

Chris Miller

After leaving elected office, Blair set up a foundation bearing his name which aims to influence governments and political leaders around the world into following his brand of "third way" politics funnelling vast sums of money into a 'charity', which can then be used to fund the Blair family lifestyle without the inconvenience of paying very much tax.


UK.gov splashes out on 40,000 new devices amid COVID-19-fuelled homeworking boom

Chris Miller

the MoD had also purchased a whopping 9,476 Office 365 licences. Mr Nadella and the crew in Redmond will be rubbing their hands together with glee.

A single copy of Microsoft 365 for Business is £45 pa. I sincerely hope that even the bozos in MoD purchasing could get some sort of discount for 10,000 off. But even on such a silly basis, that's under $500k pa (or 1/250,000 of Microsoft revenue). A lot of money to me, but I doubt any Microsoft salesdroids will be bathing in champagne as a result.

Easyjet hacked: 9 million people's data accessed plus 2,200 folks' credit card details grabbed

Chris Miller

CVV should never be held

The PCI DSS security standard for handling credit cards mandates this. If easyJet (subs note sp) were doing so (about as unlikely as storing their site password in clear text), they'll be in a world of trouble. The standard also requires all CC data to be strongly encrypted.

So you've set up MFA and solved the Elvish riddle, but some still think passwords alone are secure enough

Chris Miller

Secure enough for what?

Security is always a trade-off between the value of what you're trying to protect (and the threats against it) and the cost of protection (in terms of user time, added complexity etc.) There are surely situations (for many users, it will be the majority of situations) where a password is sufficient security. How much would I be prepared to pay to protect someone else posting on here in my name? (Not much.)

We beg, implore and beseech thee. Stop reusing the same damn password everywhere

Chris Miller

I use the same password for many sites that I consider low-risk. I can't really get too exercised over whether someone can post as me on this site.

I don't use the same password for home banking!

Control is only an illusion, no matter what you shove on the Netware share

Chris Miller

Windows wasn't happy with a read-only folder

We ran a couple of thousand Windows 3.1 PCs from Netware 4 servers, all with read-only Windows directories. It wasn't completely simple or straightforward to configure, but it could certainly be done. Since the only local data was the swap file, it meant any failed PC could simply be swapped out and as soon as the user logged onto the server, everything was back to normal. No malware either, though once you could embed a virus in a document with the wonderful Visual Basic, that changed.

We regret to inform you there are severe delays on the token ring due to IT nerds blasting each other to bloody chunks

Chris Miller

Early 90s was very late to be putting in a new 4Mb Token Ring network. The 16Mb (yes, children, this was once considered high-speed) version was launched in 1988, and by then most new networks outside IBM shops were Ethernet.

I remember the shock on moving from a large company with Ethernet LANs to one using Token Ring. Patch panels that would easily fit in a standard rack needed an entire room - IBM Type 1 cabling and connectors were solid and reliable, but perhaps a tad over-engineered for those used to RJ45 and UTP.

Is there alien life on Earth? Maybe, says Brit 'naut. Well, where did they come from? How about this far-away cluster. Or this 'Godzilla' galaxy...

Chris Miller

UGC 2885

is 'only' 463,000 ly across - the figure for distance has been repeated.

Wham, bam, thank you scram button: Now we have to go all MacGyver on the server room

Chris Miller

Many computer rooms suffered similar accidents. Before the days of online systems, often the ops were the only ones who were aware of them. The simple solution was a cover for the big red power button. But the bigger danger was the fire alarm that dumped halon into the room - which took more time to recover from.

Silicon Valley Scrooges sidestep debt to society through tax avoidance to the tune of $100bn

Chris Miller

Tim Worstall (formerly of this parish) destroys this argument here.

Halfords invents radio signals that don't travel at the speed of light

Chris Miller

thanks to the super-fast wavelength of around 220MHz

Apart from all the other idiocies, if you don't understand the difference between frequency and wavelength, you won't get far with the more technical stuff. I realise the press release was written my a marketing droid, but don't Halfords employ anyone with a GCSE in a STEM subject who could point out these flaws?

Astroboffins rethink black hole theory after spotting tiny example with its own star buddy

Chris Miller

If this object is a neutron star, we would need a new physical theory to explain how it can prevent collapse against the force of its own gravity. If it's a black hole formed as the stellar remnant of a supernova explosion, we need a new theory about how supernova explosions proceed; but a simpler explanation would be its formation by accretion onto a smaller neutron star.

We're late and we're unreliable but we won't invalidate your warranty: We're engineers!

Chris Miller

Lord Finchley

Lord Finchley tried to mend the Electric Light

Himself. It struck him dead: And serve him right!

It is the business of the wealthy man

To give employment to the artisan.

Hilaire Belloc

Don't look too closely at what is seeping out of the big Dutch pipe

Chris Miller

PC security wasn't all that great back in those days, so our approach was to warn users to "Please change your password, because someone else may have access to your PC, as we've seen a lot of activity on xxxx.com". The realisation (even though we'd told them this more than once) that we could see exactly which sites they were visiting was usually enough to put a stop to it.

Astroboffins baffled after spotting solar system with great gas giant that shouldn't exist

Chris Miller

You're right. A planet more massive (certainly 100s of times more massive) than a star would be ... a star.


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