* Posts by Gary F

394 publicly visible posts • joined 10 Mar 2008


Christmas solar plasma belches to hit Earth, Mars - and Mars rover in space

Gary F

Perhaps it was written as a dig that manned space flight outside of Earth orbit hasn't happened since the early 70's. In 40 years we haven't been able to visit any other moons or planets. That's a long time not to have done something.

I raised this point with a retired engineer working at Kennedy Space Center on a visit some years ago. He was rather upset with me. Perhaps I should work on my diplomacy skills. Clearly he was no Scotty itching to get his hands dirty.

Early Bell recordings live again (kind of)

Gary F
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Link to recordings didn't work, try this...

The link in the article didn't work for me. Here's an alternative link to the original article with the audio files:


It's creepy to hear the voice of someone making the first sound recordings 120 years ago, but utterly fascinating.

UN, IMF join opposition to ICANN top-level domain plans

Gary F
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Do we really need gTLDs?

No, we do not. It will confuse the public (is that coke.com, coke.coke, coka.cola, etc?) and cost a fortune for small-medium companies to protect their brands, many of which cannot afford it.

The only people who would benefit are phishing gangs, cybersquatters, and the ICANN directors. Most of the directors already hold external commercial positions that would massively benefit of gTLDs went ahead.

ICANN are basically after a license for its directors to become very, very rich.

Thumbs up because I'm pleased the UN and IMF are also opposed.

York CompSci student pleads guilty to Facebook hack

Gary F

What no extradition to the USA?

Perhaps Facebook could thank the man for pointing out the security holes or give him a job as a security advisor? This isn't a good way of fishing for a job but how else do you get the attention of a potential employer and get to prove how much better you are than their own staff?

At least FB admits there was no attempt to access personal data, that should save a couple of years on the prison sentence or, dare I predict, reduce it to a few months.

A shame Garry Mckinnon can't get quick justice in the UK, get given a few months inside, then that's it's, over and done with, he can then get on with his life. (So long as he doesn't consider a future holiday to Florida, I doubt the US would ever drop the warrant for his arrest.)

Paul Allen latest plan: Space rockets on MEGA PLANE

Gary F

Structual integrity?

With the force of those powerful engines on each wing and the weight of the rocket in the centre, couldn't the aircraft be ripped in two since it's two halves are joined by a weak looking connection. There's not much structure there to handle the forces at work.

Obviously people who are a lot smarter than mean have done the calculations but it looks so weak from those images.

It's intersting to see two private companies pushing ahead with space launches while NASA becomes the customer and observer. Good luck to them - keeping the dream alive!

Beeb rescues old Who episodes

Gary F

There is still hope

In the future we could send a FTL probe out into space which would overtake the 1960's TV broadcast which is still travelling out into space and capture it. It would probably make it the most expensive TV episode aired in history when it's rebroadcast.

NASA confirms first Earth candidate in habitable zone

Gary F

No point in planning to send a probe there then

The time a probe reaches this planet in 600 years (even travelling at light speed) we should have invented FTL travel years before then which would overtake any probe we'd have sent out in that direction.

In fact we could have invented trans-galactic teleportation or artificial wormholes by then too. It's sad that in our short life times we just have to settle for vague data collected by devices within our solar system and inject a little imagination to wonder what really goes on on Kepler 22b. Maybe it's the Land of the Giants if the planet is 2x bigger than ours? ;-)

GCHQ code-breaking challenge cracked by Google search

Gary F

I found the back door too

The code to unlock it is in javascript which seems pretty daft on top of the winning page being a static page. Surely they were being this daft intentionally? Mind you, as they're only paying a £28K salary to the winning applicant they aren't exactly going to great efforts to attract the smartest brains out there.

The heroes of WWII Bletchley Park would be embarassed if they knew.

And I agree with the point made by others that it doesn't matter how the solution is reached, either through the front door or a backdoor. And it's just crazy that GCHQ had such a big back door on their website. Hopefully they're just responsible for cracking other countries' security and not protecting our own!!!!

NASA busts booster booster

Gary F

But it's 50 year old tech!

I think every country in the world has seen schematics of this old beast. They've had half a century to send in spies, honeytrap engineers and managers, buy blueprints and parts on the black market, pay-off employees and contractors...

Do they think some crazy person is going to use this part and strap a dirty bomb to it and launch it towards a populated area? I wouldn't worry about that unless it's known that ebay has recently sold a 40ft long metal cylinder, a large supply of chemicals, a guidance system, a DIY self-assembly launch pad, and who knows what other parts are needed.

IBM, Micron tag team on 3D memory breakthrough

Gary F

Not before time

Come on, get a move on, boffins. The world awaits smaller, faster and less power hungry computers. I want a memory chip shaped like a piece of lego with similar connections. To expand my computer's memory I could build a tower of memory chips on my mobo, or a house, a bridge, or even a car. How cool would that be?

Microsoft! among! suitors! hungry! for! small! bite! of! Yahoo!

Gary F

Yahoo? Hmm...

Oh yes, I remember Yahoo. What are they doing these days? Anything at all?

Hollywood siren invented key phone tech TRUE

Gary F
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Wow, that's incredible!

It's hard to believe a beautiful actress of the 1930's/40's was capable of such technological thinking that was ahead of her time given the stereotypical role a woman was expected to lead back in those days. Kudos to her for pursuing her passion and imagination.

Imagine what other inventions woman could have contributed if it wasn't for society's expectations for women to do traditional women's things. Or was Hedy a rare exception? Who knows. Excellent story.

I for one would welcome more equality and attractive female colleagues in my technical field of work. (Who can also sing, play the piano, act out a Princess Leia scene and bake the occassional cake)

Spillover from 400lb man squeezed fellow flier into galley

Gary F

There's always the cargo bay

Couldn't the airline pressurise and heat the cargo bay for extra large passengers who haven't purchased 2 seats? :-)

I'm surprised the plane was allowed to take off if a passenger is standing up. If the pilot knew of this I bet he wouldn't have taken off.

Sony delays 3D PlayStation telly in Europe

Gary F

£410 is a good price if you intend to stick with a 24" TV for the next 5 years. Maybe it has an HDMI output that can connect up to a bigger TV to increase its longevity?

I suppose it's ideal for a teenager's bedroom where you'd hope they wouldn't ever have a family size TV in there. Very unsociable - they should gather in the lounge with the rest of the family to watch a big TV where they can talk and have something called a "conversation" which doesn't involve pushing buttons. Crikey, I sound like someone's grandfather!

Climategate 2.0: Fresh trove of embarrassing emails

Gary F

No surprise really

Just as I thought. Dishonesty and manipulation. I hope those scientists concerned lose all credibility and no one will trust them on any research project in the future.

Climate change is perhaps the biggest scam of the last decade. I hope it stops as it's becoming even less believable as each month passes and the public are wising up to this.

People should just be conscious of pollution, try to minimise it at every opportunity, minimise travel, recycle, etc, etc, but not be bullied or taxed based on a load of B.S. What we do know is pollution can have immediate and obvious effects on the environment (e.g. river pollution, smog, breathing issues) and there are also long term effects which we need to avoid but those shouldn't include climate change based on discredited and weak "evidience".

I have for many years subscribed to the growing belief that the minor change in temperature in the last 100 years is nothing more than a fluctuation which is not out of kilter when looking back at far more significant changes through the last 500 years and further back.

The idea that the Earth's temperature should remain constant is ridiculous. +/- 1 to 2 degrees in 100 years is nothing, it's perfectly natural and has happened many times before the industrial revolution.

McKinnon's mum wins human rights gong

Gary F

Well deserved

Funny how a human rights award has been given to someone fighting for human rights in Britain. Perhaps our Govt should think more carefully before giving advice on such rights to other countries. We should get our own house in order first. This case has been dragging on for so long, furthering the pain of the McKinnon family.

Groupon offer burns cupcake baker’s profits

Gary F

Sorry, but the baker needs maths lessons

A £26 product being sold for £6 means she is making £20 less per sale (gasp!) which is a 77% discount. She should have worked out if she can make the cakes for £6 and pay for the labour without making a loss. If she intended to make a loss because she sees it as a marketing campaign to obtain publicity and reputation then she should have worked out how much she would lose per sale and how many sales it would take to reach her budget (how much she's prepared to lose) and to project a best and worst case outcome.

One problem with e-coupons is there is no control over the number that can be printed.

I do admire her commitment to honouring the offer and not dropping her high standards despite the financial loss.

Boffins one step closer to Terminator vision

Gary F
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Bunny Terminator

The test subject is a rabbit? And how does the rabbit provide feedback on what he sees? Does he talk or jot down his observations in short hand?

<Use posh classical voice>

"My lunchtime carrot appeared slightly burred due to this large pixel that was obstructing my vision. However, using morse code the pixel reliably informed me that my carrot is 5.6cm long and weighs 104g. It then commanded me to terminate the carrot which I did using my trademark Leporidae incisors. Very tasty. Do you mind if I have another? Then perhaps you could provide another pixel so I can play Pong?"

Not so fast: Italian boffins say neutrinos not faster than light

Gary F

I didn't quite understand all of that, therefore you must be correct if your level of understanding is beyond mine. :-) Good theory though.

NASA: 2012 solar flares could DEVASTATE CITIES!

Gary F

Headline: NASA says something shocking to keep funding

If the polititians are told that the world (read USA) is at risk and it's important to monitor the sun's spots/output then that's what NASA wants to ensure their funding isn't slashed further and more egg-heads and pen pushers are lost post Shuttle era.

Go back to the future with Red Dwarf

Gary F

How can 6 episodes be considered a series?

In the US a series is at least 12 episodes, or well over 20 in many cases. Why did the BBC only commission 6 in the new series? Quite a cop out. Considering the effort and expense in building the sets again and putting the production together they might as well go for 12 episodes, they know fans and a new younger audience will be watching it and buying the DVD/Blu-Ray, so why not?

World's first biz computer was British – and sold teacakes

Gary F
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My grandfather used this!

I remember my grandfather telling me he used computers when he worked for Lyons. I couldn't believe they had computers back in those days. He told me about how Lyons (the tea shop people!) were leading the way in computers. I think he referred to it as a Hollerith, so that might have been a generic name for computers or calculating machines back then. (Maybe like we use "Hoover" to refer to any cleaning device that sucks.)

At the time he told me this I was using a ZX Spectrum but Mr Sinclair's work was all gobbledygook to him. Maybe because my Spectrum had a keyboard and a TV screen rather than a punch card reader and oscilloscope! I was really proud of him for using such amazing, early computers.

NASA tells Voyager 2 to save its strength

Gary F
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Damn, it's 34 years old and still going!

NASA should be making cars, computers and toasters. If only those worked flawlessly for 10 years, nevermind 34 years!

By my calculation a command takes 13 hours to travel from Earth to Voyager's current location. So NASA have to wait at least 26 hours after transmission to see if Voyager received it!

Yahoo! apps! showcase! makes! social! media! moves!

Gary F

Exclamation! Joke! For! Yahoo! Stories! Wearing! Thin!

As the title above says.

Google dumps + from Boolean search tool

Gary F
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Well that was dumb

After 15 years of implimenting + instead of quotes they now change their mind. The logic was that - (minus) means don't include this and + means definately do include this. To get rid of + is like ying losing its yang!

I think it was done to reserve the + symbol for returning results related to Google+ or to just avoid confusion which, I'm sure, has actually added confusion.


Google Analytics goes with the flow

Gary F

@Sporkinum - I'm afraid you are part of an small minority who make virtually no difference to visitor analyses. I would guess less than 1% of visitors block scripts and cookies. That is still an excellent margin of error for any analyst to embrace. :-)

HP pushes out OS update for 'defunct' tablet

Gary F

A good thing should never be left to die

It's also a good thing that CEO's don't read blogs which allows the dedicated techies to carry on putting TLC into their creations. I've been there before, it hurts when the boss kills off something that people genuinely like that shows innovation and it's difficult to let it go. Something you think by carrying on making it even better the boss will change their mind.

Sixth of Britain's cellphones have traces of poo on them

Gary F

I've witnessed this cr*p

I've seen/heard too many men in toilets in offices run their hands under water for as little as 1 second. How is that supposed to wash them?

Soap AND warm water is needed for at least 10 seconds of vigourous rubbing after doing a wee or at least 15 secs after doing a poo. If someone has experience toilet paper malfunction they should wash their hands twice paying attention to rubbing finger tips too.

How many people leave a public toilet by pulling open a door by a handle or pushing using the palm of their hand? Congratulations, you've scooped up other people's poo germs. How many cleaners bother to clean door handles regularly? Hardly any.

Apple stuffs Intel desktop CPU into iPhone 4S ad

Gary F

Battery life?

An hour if you're lucky. But it will keep your nads very warm as the cold nights draw in.

Lady Gaga loses squatting complaint

Gary F

Common sense wins

A fan's site does Gaga more good than repointing the domain to her official website. Mind you, I'd be surprised if the fan is still a fan after Gaga's stinking attitude.

Blighty's Android fans get British English voice control

Gary F

It's not on the Market - a bit premature

As of 16:04 the market says: "Voice Actions is only available in US English for now." The current release is dated June. Nothing new so far. :-(

Now Windows 8 goes into the ring to face Apple's iOS

Gary F

Sorry MS, I really don't like it

I think Win8 is going to be another Vista - technically more advanced by a complete cock up on the UI front. No wonder they're advising server owners not to install the UI on the server edition.

I hope that awful start page can be completely disabled. I like the new Task Manager but why does it have to start in moron-mode? Why are these apps running in full screen without any buttons to minimise or quit? HTF am I meant to quit an app? The fact that I'm having to ask must mean it's been poorly thought out using MS illogic.

I installed Win8 on VMware Workstation 8. Works a treat if you don't use vmware's easy-install option. Hopefully MS will make some improvements to Win8 based on mass opinion now.

iRobot Roomba 780 automated vacuum cleaner

Gary F

Dyson's are great!

You get a 5 year warranty with every Dyson and they've never quibbled about sending an engineer round or posting a new part for free. We have 2 hairy dogs and 2 kids and about once a year something fails on our Dysons but they simply post out a new part if we can fix it ourselves, it's almost like lego it's that easy.

As a tech freak I'd love a robot vacuum cleaner but in our house it would need to be emptied once in every room as it just doesn't have the capacity and I'd be totally surprised if it had the suction power to come close to a Henry, never mind a Dyson.

Doing it manually is very good exercise. :-) So the wife tells me.

Seagate adding flash embulgement to Thins

Gary F

Known problems with Momentus XT

Despite the hype some people have serious problems with these drives, just check out the Seagate forum where they've started a Google spreadsheet for customers to record their problems. e.g. loud noises and system freezing. My Windows 7 desktop locks up randomly because the drive is choking for some reason. I bought 4 of the damn drives 3 months ago thinking I was making a money saving trade-off to get extra capacity than a real SSD but is still faster than a normal mechanical drive (for booting or loading favourite apps).

I've now bought a 120GB SSD to replace the Momentus boot drive and my desktop is working properly now - and soooooo much faster. I was not at all impressed with the performance of the Momentus. In my personal experience the real world performance of this hyprid is hype. I realise a lot of people are very happy with theirs but the firmware is still buggy for those who get unlucky.

Google brings out new programming language

Gary F

Please no

Not another language. Leave me alone, I'm quite happy with the several other languages I already know. Google, sometimes you have to know when to stop.

Parliament has no time for 100,000+ signature e-petitions

Gary F

Another broken promise

Like so much of what the government had promised, yet another commitment is broken. Cameron committed himself to a lot of things, but not much at all has been done and the rot and injustice has continued. Many promises have been shelved. I don't know if it's because of internal differences within the coalition or if he's simply all talk and no action. :-(

Sun rises over .xxx smut domain

Gary F

Good idea, Trev.

The new xxx TLD is more or less blackmailing businesses who don't want to have their brand associated with porn. This is a really bad move. Why are they automatically protecting the rich and famous from others buying a xxx domain with their name in it? Surely these people can afford the $200 themselves to block it. I won't be buying a xxx domain to protect my brand as a matter of principle, but I hope whoever buys the equivilient doesn't have too sick a website!

Samsung 'mulls bid for' HP's orphaned webOS

Gary F

Samsung are better off with Android

Samsung have done a great job marrying up their superb hardware to Android, and Android runs beautifully on it. I think they should carry on as they are. Let someone else pick up WebOS. Any split between 2 OSes would dilute what they're doing with Android.

Saying that, I wish Samsung didn't waste their time on their own version of an apps market. It's a load of rubbish. They only piece of software on my phone from Samsung that I like is Kies. A very competent synching and backup tool.

Samsung says Apple lifted iPad from Kubrick's 2001

Gary F

Lt Cmd Data is a typical ipad user

Short clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_n7ZyS_g0DQ

Yes, exactly, a completely illogical decision and explanation, but oh so typical! ;-)

Sony: PlayStation Vita will win gamers back from tablets, phones

Gary F

Love my Android games

I'm amazed at how good the graphics are of Android games and the addictiveness of some of them are. Who would want to shell out again for a handeld device that can only play games - and expensive ones at that. It's hard to imagine the graphics being substantially better to warrant a second device.

I agree that controls on some touch screen games (3D shooters for example) are a let down due to the lack of a joypad or even a mouse. Some games are best reserved for a joypad/kb and large TV/monitor while the others run beatufully on a £99 or free Andoid phone.

Scientists devise 260GB CD-size glass disc storage tech

Gary F

Shatter proof?

So long as you don't drop it. Can they use bullet proof glass for us clumsy people?

If I were to throw it into the artic waste would it instantly grow into an ice fortress? I bet it won't. There goes the double whammy of storage for all your photos and a house all in one.

Google Chrome beta turns on native code machine

Gary F

Not turned on by this

As a web developer I'm not turned on by this. Why are they doing this, and what is the appeal to developers? And anyone who spends time developing C++ Pepper stuff has a limited audience of Chrome users, right? What's the point?

Google have employed too many developers who are struggling to find useful things to do.

IBM PC daddy: 'The PC era is over'

Gary F

With due respect, he's a corporate idiot

I'm glad the author mentioned that the company line was being towed.

How the heck do I design websites and code applications for my clients on an ipad? How do I write very long project briefs on an ipad? WTF would I want a 10" screen instead of my dual 24" one and a propper keyboard and the precision of a mouse?

If he represents IBM then they've finally lost the plot.

London rioters should 'loose all benefits'

Gary F

Petition website FAIL

I can't submit my name to the petition because the server fails to respond. Been trying for 15 mins repeatedly. Why can't the Government put together a website that can support heavy usage?

A site like that should be able to sustain 100,000 signatures an hour, nevermind per day.

Government can't do IT.

DIY aerial drone monitors Wi-Fi, GSM networks

Gary F

A couple of things...

“In the wrong hands, it could do a metric shit ton of evil.”

I'm sure Einstein said something to that effect after working on the first nuclear bomb. Luckily the ton of evil bit hasn't happened yet.

Surely WASP should be a helicopter, not a plane. Having to pilot it round and round in circles when it's found a target or an interesting wifi signal is a bit silly.

Google points finger at human after robo car accident

Gary F

GoogleNet, no I mean Skynet says...

And humans still don't know why they need to be destroyed. Honestly, my cyborgs wouldn't have left a scratch on the other vehicle - because they would have rammed it off the road and blown it into pieces! Ha-ha-ha! What do you mean I sound like Metal Mickey when I laugh?

Murdoch muscles BBC out of Formula One driving seat

Gary F

Human Right not to have to pay to watch F1

This is against my human rights! Taking F1 away from the BBC will impact on my right to a family life!

Maybe Murdoch is punishing the BBC for negative news coverage over the phone hacking scandal. ITV is next. What will Murdoch steal away from them? 60 Minute Makeover? Yeah go on then.

Apple ups Mac Mini spec, lowers price

Gary F
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Still lots of profit for Apple

They look good, have great specs, but are still a lot more expensive than a PC with the same specs. But I suppose if people want to buy a Mac the price has never stopped them in the past. So well done to Apple for producing an expensive brand that sells well and generates high profits. I wish I could have done the same! ;-)

Atlantis crew pay awkward tribute to 'iconic' shuttle

Gary F

Goodbye Space Shuttles - time to reflect on how slow progress has become

It's old technology but the reliability of the Shuttle's computers is amazing. Check out the NASA article linked near the end of this article. Normal laptops in space crash 5 times a day because of radiation, but the Shuttle's computers (GPCs) almost never crash.

From NASA: "The GPCs don't crash for radiation concerns because the GPC hardware includes a memory scrubber that prevents the system from reading radiation-changed memory."

I don't think we'll see anything like this or even the moon landings again for another 15+ years. Very sad.

In fact we haven't really progressed at all in manned space flight since the first Shuttle launched 30 years ago. Same vehicles, same 220 mile distance. We haven't travelled as far as we used to in 40 years (the last moon mission).

HP TouchSmart 610 touchscreen all-in-one PC

Gary F

Seriously, HP?

Looks ugly, border around the monitor is rather thick, and isn't that an old gen i5 CPU? The price is shocking. Who does HP think will buy this?

I'd rather but a separate 23" touch screen for £240 and a slim PC with a 2nd gen i5 for £600 and save £360.