* Posts by Gary F

394 publicly visible posts • joined 10 Mar 2008


Top aero boffin: Green planes will be noisy planes

Gary F

Nuclear? How exactly can that replace jet engines?

Nuclear power works by generating vast amounts of heat. Submarines and power stations capture that heat to turn water into steam which which moves pistons which turn a shaft...

We would only be able to use nuclear power to either generate electricity onboard a plane or directly drive a rotor. Rotors (propellors) provide far less thrust than a jet engine and planes would fly a lot slower, about half their current speed. I won't even mention the weight of the equipment such a plane would be required to carry.

So unless anyone has any ideas about how a nuclear reactor can provide a type of energy that can power a type of engine anywhere near as powerful as a jet then please let us know.

UK Govt claims lead in 'green motoring revolution'

Gary F

10,000 new jobs? Must be in India then.

If £100m investment will create 10,000 new jobs then those poor saps will be on salaries of less than £10,000 each. Probably half that once you subtract the cost of the vehicles, 1000's of meetings, and a fortune in expenses.

Mark my words. Nothing will come out of this. I think this is all part of the government's plans to bankrupt Britain before the Tories take over in 2010. Gordon said his plan is to spend, spend, spend. He could at least spend it on something that will be hugely beneficial to us in real terms.

Bespoke top level domains 'to cost $200,000'

Gary F

Stupid idea

How to turn something reasonably logical that works into chaos that will cause complete confusion. This is greed driven, not need driven.

Asus sexes up Eee line

Gary F

1GB SSD - surely a typo?

1GB solid state storage and it won't come with Linux? So how do they expect Windows and Office to fit comfortably within 1GB? Unless it comes with Windows 95? :-D

EA in Spore DRM climbdown

Gary F

Die DRM, Die

It's not the fact that you can't install DRM software, music or video on more than x number of computers, but when the inevitable happens and your computer dies and needs replacing or if you need to re-install Windows the DRM software treats it as an additional machine. So after either a very unlucky year or certainly 3+ years you will hit the maximum installation limit.

DRM will die out eventually as soon as every company has tried it and make enemies of its customers. If people want to download cracked software they'll do just that because DRM is a challenge that hackers can't refuse to ignore. Anyone who would genuinely buy the software *will*.

What's the cost of global warming?

Gary F

Start your panic here

The world's average temperature has risen 1 degree in the last 100 years? Oh my giddy aunt! What are we going to do? I can't remember there every being a rise in the world's temperature by this much! That's impossible! If the temperature has fluctuated by this much then maybe something worse will happen like giant volcanos appearing in London and New York, or is Earth on a collission course with the sun?

1 degree in 100 years? Hang on, that's not even enough for me to save a few pennies on my central heating bill. What a con! I'm outta here.

Are today's developers more creative?

Gary F

Games programmers from 20 years ago were more creative

I've got more admiration for the creativeness of games programmers from 20 years ago. They had such little memory and in particular storage space to work with and invented clever ways to work within those confines. I vaguely remember the first game to contineously load data from the floppy disk so there was a short loading time, no pausing during the game or short levels - some modern games would do well to benefit from that. And the first games to have human speech which was a technical marvel way back in the early 80's.

Modern programmers don't have the same struggles and as this articles says they've got tons of tools and libraries to help them work and get around problems that they can (thankfully) be oblivious to. Could you imagine writing a top class app or game from scratch without relying on any existing tools or libs?

Firm threatens action against CCTV whistleblower

Gary F

Naughty to give public instructions on how to exploit insecurity

The informer shouldn't have made the precise "hack" public. It's one thing to warn people about an insecurity but it's a different matter when you tell people how to take advantage of it.

If the CCTV company had failed to act quickly then perhaps upping the ante by posting screenshots (with mosaic fuzz where necessary) of the hack in action would be justified to cause the panic and bad PR necessary to get it fixed.

Noel Edmonds defies BBC's jackbooted enforcers

Gary F
IT Angle

Cut and paste...

There is no IT angle to this story. What is it doing here? I am removing The Register from my bookmarks. Please cancel my subscription. I am also dissatisfied with today's weather. Please make the weather the way I like it. Goodbye.

If I didn't pay my TV license fee would the BBC cover up and pretend that I've already got a license? Doubt it. I'm not Noel Tidybeard.

Tandberg's RDX blockbuster

Gary F

Most expensive 2.5" hard drives in the world

The 300GB cartridge has a street price of around £250, that's over 4x the price of a bare 2.5" drive. There is no clever proprietory connections or interface, or even sophisticated electronics in the cartridge. It's just a mainstream 5400rpm 2.5" drive in a plastic case. It should be possible to crack open the case and replace the drive with a faster 7200 rpm drive to increase read/write speeds, or, maybe a Velociraptor, either costing less than what Tandberg charge for an average performance drive.

Don't get me wrong, RDX is an excellent product and very reliable, but Tandberg are having a laugh charging £250 for a simple plastic case surrounding a £50 drive.

Intel releases laptop, desktop SSDs

Gary F


£4 per GB vs £2.60 per GB for the new OCX Core V2. The OCX V2 boats 170MB/sec read against Intel's 250GB (not proved by punters/reviewers yet) but the OCX trumps Intel's 70MB/sec write with 98MB/sec write, plus it has a USB mini port for firmware upgrades.

I don't see how Intel will compete without a massive price drop soon after launch.

WD VelociRaptor 300GB HDD vs SSD

Gary F
Paris Hilton

Grrr - unfair, outdated review

The Velociraptor is a brilliant drive but why was it compared against a 3rd rate SSD drive? Everyone is talking about the new OCX drives, particularly the V2, which has been shipping in the UK for the past few weeks. Don't tell me El Reg couldn't get its hands on a sample? Heck, you should have just caughed up the readies to enjoy the fastest computer in all of El Reg Towers.

Paris 'cos I think she organised the review. :-p

Google releases open source browser

Gary F
Thumb Up

Yay and Boo

Yay, because this is the first browser to do something sensible about putting each tab in its own process, something I've been wishing for years. Even Firefox is guilty of grinding to a hault if one tab is struggling with a slow/poor site.

Boo, because as a web developer it's another browser to check compatibility against. Sure, it uses Webkit like Safari 3 so you'd think the results would be identical, but not so because it uses a different javascript engine.

Boo, because it will take a large chunk away from Firefox's growing market share and dilute Opera's tiny slice even further. Both these browsers are excellent and we have a lot to thank them for. Chrome will unwittingly make IE appear to have a larger market lead as the Firefox & Opera users are the ones more likely to migrate to Chrome, not the mainstream IE users.

Yay, for innovation and the Javascript interpreter - which Firefox will have shortly.

A third of Vista PCs downgraded to XP

Gary F

Too revolutionary?

@AC who said "Nope, it's too revolutionary for the average user and support".

That can't be the right choice of word. Too "different" maybe, but I'll go for either too "illogical" or too "frustrating".

Bring back tabs on control panels! Having a different panel for everything that used to be tabbed is deeply annoying.

Researcher gives Elvis and bin Laden fake e-passports

Gary F

Half baked

Again we see half baked ideas executed in a half baked fashion. I guess that makes it quarter baked.

<-- I'll pinch a passport from this coat pocket, change the data on the chip, then make a quick exit abroad under a different identity.

Home wireless without the power trip

Gary F
Thumb Up

Z-Wave is way cool...

...if only all of the devices promised years ago were actually available in the UK. Unlike Zigbee, Z-Wave doesn't need an Internet connection and can work with a simple, local remote control. Of course you can hook it up to your computer and then control your house via the Internet or mobile phone with the right software.

@Iain, you are right, all these networked home devices drain current while doing absolutely nothing apart from listening out for a command. However, used creatively you can save energy. e.g. I told my computer to switch off the patio lights at 1am every night because sometime we left them on by accident. Our toilet has a motion sensor (no, no, let me finish the sentence!) so the light not only turn on automatically but switches off if it can't detect movement after 5 minutes. People were leaving the light on before which was annoying. I'm using X10 still (it's really unreliable) so I'm desperate to get my hands on UK compliant, discrete, Z-Wave modules (not the bulky plug-in-the-wall ones).

Dell's dinky designer desktop

Gary F
Paris Hilton

Should have an SSD option

Very nice! Would be even better if they offered a solid state drive. OCZ have a brand new 64GB drive that reads at 120GB/sec. Low power, blisteringly fast, and deadly silent.

I'd prefer a "no-OS" or an "XP" option rather than Phista.

Oh, and a quad core option would be good too, but I guess they'll add that in the future. It looks like a better deal than a Shuttle.

Now, can they do the same trick with their servers? I'd like a server that uses 70% less power please. With a Ruby Red case. ;-) Paris 'cos she's like one of these too.

Boeing chuffed with latest raygun-jumbo ground tests

Gary F

Targeting problems

What we don't know is how close the 747 has to be to the missile to lock on to it and fire. ICBMs travel at least 10x the speed of a 747 so the 747s have to be in place within range very quickly if this is to work.

If the range is 1000 miles (which is optimistic considering the accuracy required) then they'd need to have the 747s stationed at 6 US airbases for full protection from east and west bound incoming missiles.

And, keep in mind that ICBMs will provide a smaller target than most people would think because they're fired up towards space and then come down at an angle, so the 747 wouldn't be able to get a nice broadside view to fire at.

I can't see this working in a real world situation, but would the US have invested so much money if it was going to be ineffective? Well, Iraq or Afghanistan hasn't gone to plan and look at how many billions it's cost so far. I suppose the project could just be for international posturing.

Microsoft slams 'sensationalist' Vista analysis

Gary F

Shouldn't have bought Vista

A non-technical friend on a tight budget asked me if he should get a Vista laptop. I said no, get one with XP installed. He instead bought one with Vista installed and asked me to show him how to do X, Y, Z because "it doesn't work the same as XP". Yeah, I know, that's one reason why I recommended XP.

Then he asked how he can make it go faster because it seems quite slow. I told him to upgrade to XP. Yes, I said "upgrade". If you see an improvement in performance or ease of use then it's definately an upgrade. And if you buy a cheap laptop you definately need to run it with XP.

Or if you *have* to use Vista then disable SuperFetch. General use becomes snapier IMO.

Microsoft tells SMBs Vista isn't a risky business

Gary F

True cost of upgrade not worth it

What's the cost of upgrading a business with 25 PCs? About £2K in Vista licenses, £2K in time for the office IT guy to thoroughly check compatibility with existing software, hardware and network, £2K for essential memory upgrades, £4K to replace a number of PCs that are under-spec, £5K in time to back up every computer before the install and time lost while the employees can't use their computers, £3K to perform the upgrade and re-install everyone's applications, £2K in time to train staff how to use it, £10K+ for lost productivity while users get to grips with it and to report issues to their IT guy, or asking "how do I...?" questions, plus time wasted customising their own desktops and folders again, reconfiguring their applications, setting preferences, etc.

Remind me again what the business benefit of Vista is? It could realistically cost a business upwards of £20K for upgrading 25 machines. No wonder most people have decided the benefits don't outweigh the costs. Waiting for Windows 7 is a very sensible and economic business decision - providing Microsoft learn the lesson from Vista. If not we'll all be moving to Mac and Linux!

AVG chokes fake traffic spew

Gary F

Thank you for listening, AVG

I've had Linkscanner disabled for several weeks now and will continue to supress it, but as a webmaster it's good that Linkscanner will be altered. It's a pitty that the whole world and their monkey had to scream at AVG for them to realise what a mistake they had made.

I will continue to use AVG as it is, at the core, a very good virus detector and healer. I wish AVG will stick to what they're good at and not take their basic product into other areas.

Boffins invent 42GB DVD

Gary F

Why not apply this idea to Blu-Ray?

Instead of wasting their time to beef up an old technology why aren't they applying similar principles to Blu-Ray to create 500GB capacity per disc? Then suddenly a £10 Blu-Ray blank disc becomes rather good value!

They could call it Blu-Ray-Plus and give/sell the rights to Sony so the 95% of people who don't have Blu-Ray yet will most likely be able to buy a "plus" player in the years to come instead.

ICANN approves customized top-level domains

Gary F

ICANN have lost the plot and their purpose

If ICANN want to charge up to $100,000 for each new domain suffix then what exactly will they be doing with their windfall if they're a not-for-profit organisation? Give the hundreds of millions away to charity? That would be nice but I very much doubt it.

This is a proposal motivated by greed. They've seen how Internet companies have made millions and now they want to cash in on it. It will cause chaos and uncertainty not ot mention 1000's of new disputes and legal battles. It will confuse the public too. ICANN's job was to prevent chaos and to maintain a structure of domain names. A free for all is not the way forward. Very, very sad.

AVG disguises fake traffic as IE6

Gary F

AVG have lost the plot

AVG have put their head in the sand with regards to webmasters' objections. As someone else just said, AVG provided perfectly good protection from infecting websites prior to version 8. Linkscanner is uncessary bloat and a PITA.

AVG fake traffic spares Google AdWords

Gary F

Remedy if you used to like AVG

If you disable Linkscanner via the AVG interface it will show a constant warning icon in your tool tray. You can remedy this by keeping it enabled but disable the plugin via IE and Firefox.

IE > Tools > Manage Add-ons > Enable or disable

Firefox > Tools > Add-ons > Extensions

If AVG thought this through properly the solution is for THEIR servers to do the scanning using both an on-demand and a cached method...

Your urls are sent to AVG's server and if it has run a check on the url from its own server within the last 10 minutes it returns a cached result. If not then it hits the url afresh and returns that result. That way webmasters will only see a hit every 10 minutes, not every few seconds. The down sides are it will take slightly longer to do and your urls will be logged by AVG. Do you want AVG to know what you've been searching for?

AVG need to make easier to disable Linkscanner without it flagging up a warning. The average Joe doesn't know how to disable add-ons. In fact, the default install option for Linkscanner should be "disabled", but obviously AVG wouldn't do that unless they are heavily pressured.

Nvidia blows out Moore’s Law with fresh Tesla

Gary F

Amiga FPU

@AC, the original Amigas didn't have a FPU built in to their 68000 CPU so FPU add-on boards were developed by 3rd parties to help with 3D rendering which requires a lot of floating point precision. Later CPUs in the 680x0 family had FPUs built-in, except for the economy (EC) versions.

Perhaps you were thinking of the transputer expansion system for the Amiga? One board contained a transputer which would work in parallel with other transputer boards adding up to a seriously powerful rendering machine (for the time).

Dell thinks small with 2.5-inch SAS storage sidecar

Gary F

20x the cost of SATA

A fraction of the capacity of SATA and 20x the cost (£ per Gb). SAS isn't for everyone, especially if your don't have deep IT pockets. But ironically the lower power consumption and greater drive density per 1U makes SAS cheaper to run than SATA if rack capacity and power consultion are an issue (which they are if you use a commercial data centre).

AVG scanner blasts internet with fake traffic

Gary F

Protect us from AVG, not malware!

Thank you El Reg, you've just explained why we experienced an explotion of hits and at the same time the bounce rate went through the roof (which was distressing!). It's ruining our statistics which we put a lot of effort into setting up and aiming for accuracy.

Our Google AdWords are getting lots of hits so I'm hoping they're not being counted and charged to us - unless AVG are in bed with Google to raise their revenue?

Shame on AVG. I will be disabling this feature at once and advising all friends & colleagues to do the same - for the sake of poor website maintainers and investors. (Formally to this, AVG rocked!)

Dissolving the plastic bag problem

Gary F


Good point about trapping carbon but I think the other issue are the litterbugs who drop bags outdoors where they end up an eyesore in streets and beaches and trap or choke wildlife. (Hey Jolyon, good to see your name appear on El Reg! How's your stone collection? ;-)

How do we dispose of the bacterial goo that has digested these plastic bags? What damage can the goo do to the environment if it's poured down our drains? Will it start eating plastic pipes? Has anyone considered that?

Phoenix Mars website invaded by hackers

Gary F

The answer is...

Developers should use stored procedures and tell their db server not to server up any other requests apart from SPs. That way it makes it impossible to execute a sql injection attack. (Plus use the usual anti-scripting tactics - never let your guard down.)

Government orders data retention by ISPs

Gary F
Thumb Down

Boom time for proxy services

This bill doesn't appear to cover Internet services, only connection providers. So I imagine there will be lots of new encrypted proxy services springing up that run over SSL and let users request web pages where the URLs are encrypted and not kept in the http header making it impossible for ISPs to log where you've been apart from the name of the proxy service.

What's not clear is what details of your emails the ISP will have to retain? Would they log the to, from and subject headers? Even that is way too confidential, especially for businesses who are involved with commercially sensitive projects, or individuals emailing about very personal matters.

AVG revamps free security scanner

Gary F

@Jason Harvey - it does real time!

AVG Free does realtime file and memory detection of viruses. You do not need to do a file scan for it to detect (most) viruses. e.g. if you browse into a directory on your computer and a file just happens to have a virus then AVG will warn you. Or if you visit a nasty website containing a virus/trojan, AVG will again warn you.

Gary F
Thumb Up

AVG really is the best

Agreed. I don't know why people bother with Macafee or Norton as it's just bloatware that guzzles up resources. It's rare to have something that's free, better, and faster than a paid-for product and as a user of AVG for the last 6 years I recommend it to everyone.

Of course I paid for licences to run on servers (the free version detects a server OS and will refuse to install) and I did so because I totally trust it to do a good job with a smaller footprint, reliable and very regular updates, and still pretty cheap. At renewal I paid around £80 for 5 licenses for 2 years!

Sorry, I had to praise Grisoft publicly. I owe them that for such a great, FREE, product. I just hope the new version doesn't turn out to be bloaty. That would be a killer.

Commodore goes titsup (again)

Gary F

Let the brand die in peace

Hopefully no one else will buy the rights to the Commodore name. 20 years ago it was associated with cutting edge consumer electronics but now the name means "inevitable titsup".

Has the Commodore badge been stamped on anything impressive in the last 15 years? No. So what sort of company would want to use it for branding a new product? None worth its salt.

A 64-bit Commodore 64? Well, at least the name would have a new meaning (64Kb > 64-bit). While it's not impossible to create some new impressive hardware the difficulty is guarantying a significant amount of quality software from day one of its release. Take a look at the PS3. It's only now starting to grow a reasonable library and I doubt this would have happened if the PS3 wasn't made by a powerful, rich electronics and media giant. (i.e. Sony's money and muscle kept the PS3 going and got developers on board)

Global-warming scientist: It's worse than I thought

Gary F

Has everyone forgotten Archimedes?

If the North Pole melts I doubt we'll see flooding. Why?

It's called water displacement - physics for 12 year olds, if kids are still taught science these days?

All that ice is already in the sea which means its mass has already displaced the sea level. If you run a bath and then sit in it the water level will rise. This is what will happen to the sea level, so claim the doom mongers. Wrong! That's bad geography and physics on their part because if the ice (which rests on top of the sea) melts it's not adding any more mass or displacement to the sea level because it was already in the sea when it was ice! There is no land mass at the North Pole, it's all ice sitting on top of the sea.

Sit in a full, large bath and curl up pretending to be a mountain of ice. Now melt and stretch out. Did the water rise? Of course not (assuming your bum wasn't resting on the sea bed). Here's a better experiement. Fill a glass half with water. Put in 3 or 4 ice cubes and mark the water level. Wait for them to melt and compare the levels. It will be the same. No rise in sea levels.

It's the melting of the *South* Pole that people would need to be concerned with because a lot of the ice there is supported by land which means its mass has not been displaced in the sea. Luckily for us the South Pole is *NOT* melting.

Gary F

Brrrr, it's snowing again!

Snow at Easter and in April, officially the coldest Easter in 40 years. More like the coming of an Ice Age.

Another NASA scientist released some findings in February that showed the polar ice caps have recovered to near normal levels. What’s most surprising is there is no mainstream media coverage of this in the UK or USA, but there is some in Canada. The Earth’s temperature dropped “significantly” between Jan 07 and Jan 08 according to this NASA scientist.


To the north of Canada the ice covers 2 million sq km MORE than it did in the past 3 winters and is 10-20mm thicker than last year. In the Alps they’ve had the best ever snowfall for 20 years with the skiing season starting 2 weeks early.

It's amazing how much money is being poured into GW research. No wonder "experts" ring the alarm bells every now and again to ensure the money keeps on coming. The political backing has ensured it's a gravy train for researchers who cash in with consultancy and conference fees, and of course governments who can raise revenue with "green" taxes.

The man who founded the Weather Channel says GW is a scam. Check out his evidence in this fairly long PDF: http://media.kusi.clickability.com/documents/Global+Warming+is+a+Scam1.pdf

Footnote: With all that said, I firmly believe in cutting pollution & conserving resources but for different reasons. (I do both)

Jules Verne mates with ISS

Gary F


"Jules Verne has discharged its cargo of 1,150 kg of dry cargo, including food, clothes and equipment as well as two original manuscripts handwritten by Jules Verne and a XIXth century illustrated edition of his novel From the Earth to the Moon"

Original manuscripts? Are they mad? Surely they could have scanned and emailed it to the ISS? Let's hope they never name a spaceship Shakespeare or Dickens.

Fixing the UK's DAB disaster

Gary F

DAB won't replace FM in vehicles

DAB isn't up to the job of replacing FM in cars, vans and lorries. That's about 25 million sales DAB won't get. Error correction can't cope with the constantly changing quality of reception as vehicles move past all sorts of objects that affect the signal.

My solution is DAB++ which can be backward compatible with DAB. It can transmit a channel twice on different frequencies about 3 seconds apart. DAB++ receivers can replace missing or corrupt data in the first transmission from that in the second transmission.

Until quality is improved all of my cars will continue to have FM radios.

Congestion Charge offers online tool for ANPR cam dodgers

Gary F

They've updated the site

Details of vehicles have been removed from the site now.

Open AJAX frameworks not fit for 'power users'

Gary F

Notice me! Notice me!

@Pete. Not so. With an Ajax site you can force it to change the colour scheme (e.g. high contrast) or increase the text size even if the designer didn't build that in to their site. With Flash and Silverlight you have no control over those elements that could help people with visual impairments.

Ajax sites should provide greater compatibility across different platforms including modern mobile devices *without* downloading extra software. Many large corporates lock their desktops so you can't install or upgrade 3rd party software. Ajax sites load quickly and are quicker to develop for thanks to the ample of quality frameworks and libraries.

I think the report was done just to get the author noticed. These days you've got to say something alarming or highly questionable to stick out from the crowd. A trojan horse in most web 2.0 apps will create a global tsunami before 2012. Wibble wibble!

Reg readers want to work for Google

Gary F


No, I didn't have time to do the survey. If I encounter a side tracking event like that (or commenting to a blog/article) I have a 60 second policy - if I think it will take any longer than that I won't bother... or if they offer at least 10 prizes for taking part. :-) Personal gain wins over time management. ;-)

Gary F

...results based on people who have time to complete surveys

Great survey, but I can't help thinking how different it would be if people who don't have time to complete surveys actually took part. What sort of people didn't contribute to the survey? Highly paid IT managers who are always in meetings, or lowly paid support staff who are constantly running around fixing things?

I guess we'll never know.

Minister wants more mashups

Gary F

...then make OS data free for public use

If that man represents the government then why doesn't he do away with the fortune that OS charge for using their map data? Even if you want to use it for a free public website you have to pay £ tens of 1000's for licensing it. Then perhaps we'll start to see some truly amazing and very interesting mashups using *OUR* data that the government keeps locked up and will only let you use for a ridiculously expensive license fee.

Plastic bag campaign falls apart at the seams

Gary F

Overkill as usual

I couldn't work out how every plastic bag ended up in the stomach of a whale or sea turtle, according to the Daily Mail. Most bags end up in land fill or stuck in shrubbery. I'm pleased this slight oversight has been exposed.

Not all bags take 1000 years to degrade. Ocado (Waitroise Internet shopping) have a UK plant that makes and recycles bags that bio-degrade in just 2 years according to their PR. If true then this is brilliant and also eliminates shipping millions of bags in containers from China.

I also re-use plastic bags for soiled nappies, kitchen bin liners, etc. Why hasn't anyone complained about the much larger black bin bags which are only ever used once and have a one-way journey to land fill?