* Posts by Nick Ryan

2960 posts • joined 10 Apr 2007

You would expect a qualified electrician to wire a building to spec, right? Trust... but verify

Nick Ryan Silver badge

Unclosable external sockets

We moved office last year. Yes, during covid lockdown...

The outfitters who were doing the job were tasked with fitting external sockets on our rather nice terrace. They fitted three out of four of them so low that it was not possible to use the clip to securely seal them up, let alone have anything plugged in at the same time which would run through the gromets at the bottom of the socket. Their idiotic excuse was that this was where the building manager had instructed to install them. I've yet to see the electrical installation safety test documentation, because there is no way that these could have been properly tested as being safe. When I came across this installation I just turned the entire external circuit off, there was no way I was going near them or allowing them to be turned on.

They came back and complained that they were fine and marginally moved them vertically up a little bit anyway - emphasis on the little bit. The result? One socket is still not closeable unless one uses some form of tool to hammer the clip shut, two others are just about closable but still with nowhere near enough clearance to actually run a cable out of the bottom when closed and the fourth is just about usable but only as long as the cable attached to the plug doesn't have strain relief on it as there is till only about 3cm clearance below the socket. Luckily we haven't really moved into the new office yet.

Showering malware-laced laptops on UK schools is the wrong way to teach them about cybersecurity

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Re: Money making middle men

Just idly, I wonder how much information Google could collate on Russian gansters?

While I guess a lot of those that work on the cyber side are very tech savvy, it only takes one slip up to leave a large data trail.

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Re: chumocracy

I still trust Sturgeon considerably more than any of BoJo or his incompetent yes-men cabinet.

November the 5th is an annoying occasion as every year it feels more and more that we should be celebrating that Guido Fawkes had a really good idea.

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Re: Damned if they do, damned if they don't

Adding a delay to the process would not have been good, but the value in supplying known working systems to their intended recipient would likely to have been repaid multiple times over compared to supplying unknown, untested systems.

Obviously not everywhere has the capability, but it really is not hard to stream images to a large number of systems simultaneously. This deploys a known, good image, can even be preconfigured with appropriate links to school educational services and also tests the hardware before delivery. Having to support and track down and replace even one faulty system is going to take some effort and time.

I work for a small enough organisation that having an image streaming setup isn't worth it due to the low churn in devices and therefore how the image would need to be updated individually so often. But we still nuke the supplier's installation and perform a clean install of the OS and required software installations. As a result, we just don't have problems with such systems and their bundled crapware and often really daft non-standard partitioning.

You can drive a car with your feet, you can operate a sewing machine with your feet. Same goes for computers obviously

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Re: Dictation, was Foot pedal

Unfortunately that kind of thing happens when someone has to try and transcribe things that are technical, as in require specialist knowledge to understand, and the error rate is large and has potentially quite serious repercussions. On the other hand, if it's accepted that there will be errors but that overall it's a time saving and the output has to be reviewed, it's not necessarily a bad process.

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Re: Foot pedal

Previously I had to suffer where some numpty pointedly tried to only order LCD displays which preferably only had fecking VGA connectors! A digitl (pixelmap) image, being mangled through a digital to analogue conversion only to be converted immediately from analogue back to digital for display on a digital (pixelmap) panel? FFS, just dumb in every way. Not a single one of those displays remained within a month or two as they were uniformly rubbish and the office had an entirely random range of display resolutions and mismatched dual monitors on a desk? Eek. It wasn't even remotely hard or expensive to deploy digitally connected monitors running at a uniform 1980x1080p resolution and just the support and usability issues resolved paid for this within a few weeks.

On his way out, Trump emits exec order suggesting US cloud giants must verify ID of all foreign customers

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Re: Better Yet

A nice idea however defiing software compliance and validating compliance tends to then turn into a game of just complying regardless of common sense or rule validity and ignoring anything that isn't covered by the compliance checks.

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Re: IP reputation goes a long way

AWS are fine with legitimate scans as long as you inform them before doing them.

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Re: Just cancel them on mass

This is true, and would be a good thing.

Also removing the appalling and disgusting farce that is presidential pardons - pretty much all Trump did with them in the last few weeks was to pardon a huge swathe of proven criminals that backed him.

Raspberry Pi Foundation moves into microcontrollers with the $4 Pi Pico using homegrown silicon

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Re: Annoyingly low on RAM

I remember seeing some of the programs that used a portion of the display memory for code due to running out of RAM. Made for an "interesting" pattern on the screen.

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Re: No WiFi?

Adding WiFi (in any form) would greatly increase the complexity of the chip. I guess they could license a pre-designed module for inclusion, but that's a further complexity and cost.

It would be interesting though. Using the ESP32/8266 microcontrollers is handy partly because of the wireless connectivity.

Police drone plunged 70ft into pond after operator mashed pop-up that was actually the emergency cut-out button

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Re: Fail safe?

Depending on the danger I've found them to usually be a bright yellow flip lid with a clearly visible red push button underneath or just a clearly visible red push button (usually where one needs to stop something immediately and any form of delay is a bad thing. These are basic standards and easily understandable.... except for the perpetrators of the "who me?" stories of course.

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Re: Do Thales make police drones too?

I'm sorry. Please restate your reply using officially support units.

We have standards to keep round here...

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Re: Fail safe?

Ok, bad use of terminology. I meant avaition/flying a whole rather than any specific part of it.

And as for human interface usability... most of the current crop of designers seem to have absolutely no clue. It's all about using the latest fad tools to create the latest interface and nothing else seems to matter - usability, accessibility or longevity.

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As I read it, it did. It required three taps on a particular icon followed by confirmation in a popup. That's not entirely unreasonable as there is an important balance between really wanting to shut something down in a hurry and preventing accidental shut downs. Maybe it needs to be amended to make it more obvious and to prevent the "pigeon peck" scenario that was comically mentioned above where closing annoying popups has become a standard reaction.

A physical, separate emergency cut off that's easily reachable has been standard in industrial control systems for many years for good resaon.

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Re: Fail safe?

The history of avionics is full of post-event learning experiences. This is another one, which was harmless and as long as something is learned from it is not a bad thing.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey says Trump ban means the service has failed

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Re: Promote healthy conversation?

The WWW was never designed with an "advertising-driven capitalist bent". The early WWW was very similar to usenet in places, discoverability was a major issue and advertising just wasn't there. It was very much an extension of the trusted arena that the rest of the early Internet was, no consideration towards security or anything much but that's just how things were.

I was also very glad to see it making Gopher obsolete... [shudders]

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Re: Screwed the pooch and knows it

Trump repeatedly violated the terms of use for Twitter.

They didn't dare do anything until now because he's petty enough to personally make it his mission to ruin Twitter. They only banned him now because he can no longer do this to them.

Dropbox basically decimates workforce, COO logs off: Cloud biz promises to be 'more efficient and nimble'

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Why diversify? Likely because they feel that they have to in order try to remain vaguely relevant and to have a business in five years time. Certain monopolies have moved into their space and are actively pushing them out. For example, Windows could have come with a file sync/remote storage API allowing users or administrators to deploy the solution of their choice equally, however instead Microsoft embedded support for OneDrive in at a low level and made it much harder for competing applications to provide anything similar.

Developers! These 3 weird tricks will make you a global hero

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Re: Not the developer's fault

It often is the developer's fault. For example, not having a clue about even the basic structure of HTML elements and how these should be used and ordered is far too common.

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Re: We all know how to copy/paste

...and utterly unusable without a mouse, i.e. no standard keyboard shortcuts. This is the kind of thing that accessibility is there for - standard and consistent actions using the most basic and reliable interface methods.

UK's AI fairy tale sets out on its yellow-brick roadmap

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Re: Moonshots and ARPA-esque models

This requires transparency and accountability. Neither of which are to be found in the current gov at all, in fact it is obvious these are being actively discouraged and undermined.

Women are 40% of Indian STEM grads and in just 14% of tech jobs. Not good enough, says VP Naidu

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It does includes computing and the categories cover a lot of crossover roles for science and maths.

Nick Ryan Silver badge

If you can define when an individual stops being a scientist and is an engineer, then please do, add in Maths as well then it becomes even messier. The extremes are easy but there is a very grey area in between therefore this report is quite inclusive. The number of S and M(!) left out of the report is very low.

perhaps suggesting that women are well represented at the design & management levels, but less so at the oily rag end.
That's a positive interpretation of this, unfortunately it's been reported that women have to be more academically qualified than their male colleagues to be taken seriously and this is backed up as the comparison is largely the same across all levels. It's also regional, and interesting that some of the regions that are often traditionally considered as engineering regions perform worse than those that are not. It does vary by age as well and in most regions of the country the ratio of female to male in younger people is better. It's a very slow work in progress.

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Source: https://www.engc.org.uk/publications/mapping-the-uks-engineering-workforce/

The report does not include science and maths but these are rather small compared to overall engineering and the extent of cross over in these fields will mean that many working in science and/or maths have been picked up in this analysis. Women in Science or Maths are poorly represented although this situation is encouragely improving in these two fields. Women in engineering and technology is low but slowly improving.

Nick Ryan Silver badge

I made it very clear that it is a very crudely and oversimplified example, it was more to demonstrate that applying time based events to a standing pool and expecting immediate changes does not work even mathematically.

STEM in India is expanding, but it's also not a small starting industry either. Change in the representation of females in STEM industries is a generational thing and is slow and the other societal impacts have to be taken into account too. It's positive that it is changing and improving though, even in the UK, but expecting 40% of graduates to equate to 40% of workers in anything less than 20-30 years is silly and that's before societal impacts come into play. it doesn't mean that we shouldn't push for more equality though.

Nick Ryan Silver badge

Sigh... I wish that people would understand the impact of time based events compared to overall data.

40% of STEM graduates may be female, but how does one year of graduates compare to the overall pool of people employed in STEM?

Using a very simplistic application of the numbers, with the following crude assumptions:

* All STEM graduates from each year will be employed in STEM occupations (will never happen)

* STEM careers last about 40 years

* Each year the incoming STEM graduates replace the outgoing (retiring) workers currently working in STEM

* The field of STEM is neither growing or shrinking by way of employed numbers

This works out that every year 2.5% of the working STEM population are replaced by the incoming graduates. Even if we assume that this is the older 2.5% exiting the industry and are 100% male, the impact of 40% of 2.5% every year is neither high nor fast.

This gross over simplification omits other very important considerations. Firstly, that India is not very supportive of working females and secondly that there is a huge drop out of working employment for females due to child birth and subsequent child care and this specifically affects the 20-40 year old age groupings. Follow this by not being able to be part of an industry for 10-20 years and rejoining fast paced industries such as STEM is very hard and there is an inevitable drop off.

Oh, and 14% is still better than the UK.

Brexit freezes 81,000 UK-registered .eu domains – and you've all got three months to get them back

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Re: This is to punish the UK

Also, from what I remember, the UK originally had some say in these rules.

Explained: The thinking behind the 32GB Windows Format limit on FAT32

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Re: MS, how about recognising EXT,HFS+ formats so it doesn't result in the format dialog box....

That's standard Microsoft Behaviour. As far as possible to only support their own technologies, other systems can make themselves compatible with Microsoft's proprietary standards (often nothing standard about them either).

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Re: Future proofing size constraints

From memory this was also due to die size, possibly complexity too, and therefore also a significant cost saving.

Realme 7 5G: Parents, this is the phone you should have got your kids for Christmas

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Re: Spoiled

That's easy - employ clueless, talentless web "developers" who think that by kludging together multiple JavaScript libraries and seeing something render that they have a site. Nope, they have a JavaScript piece of bad SEO, accessibility failing nonsense. Decent web developers know the HTML first practice, then to enhance with minimal CSS and even less JavaScript. This leads to much less design and render issues, considerably less weirdo support issues and has the added bonus that at random times in the near future the site won't stop working or require breaking JS library updates due to all the security issues in them. KISS - always a good principle and always has been.

The ghosts of Microsoft SQL Server past, present, and yet to come: The Reg chats to Azure Data man Rohan Kumar

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...and there we have it. Arguably one of Microsoft's most important products, allowing data owners to retain control of their own data, being deprecated even further in favour of fads and rental income forcing data owners to use sub-optimal installations on other people's servers.

'Following the science' rhetoric led to delay to UK COVID-19 lockdown, face mask rules

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True, I'd forgotten that the lag from the data collection as well... so that's a 3-5 week lag in actions and observing results. Which makes the 4 week (month-ish) mockdown in November even more pointless.

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Re: you can't just conjure medical professionals from thin air.

Yes, you can. Our beloved dictator did this when he announced all the "new" nurses for the NHS. Many of which were retired, with little desire to return (odd that), or were already being trained, and therefore not new. Restating previous things as if they are new is a very common occurence of the current rabble.

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Re: playing with the politics of pandemics

To be fair (yes, I know), a large part of the problem is the reality of life for politicians.

Politicians have a job and bills to pay and families to support. If they are voted out of power, for whatever reason, then they no longer have a job and are no longer able to pay their bills. If they don't follow their party line, regardless of how disgusting and wrong it may be, they lose "the whip", and the chances are very high that when it comes to the next election they will be out of a job. Party politics is very damaging to democracy.

These are strong pressures and it's no wonder that everything is very short term. There's usually no value in it for the politician for long term policies and these would have to survive any following politicial changes, therefore the policies have to be shaped by what will keep the politician in a job come election time. This frequently means lies, rabble rousing and utterly broken promises, or party manifestos as they are called. These really should be legally binding but any lies can be spouted in these and then ignored later. It's also no wonder why politicians are to be found trying to cover themselves for eventual job loss, because it will happen to most of them eventually, and doing this through their connections and friends and any other way possible. It would be a scary thing to come out of a job in politics with no especially relevant or practical skills and therefore little to no employability. Some politicians are actually quite reasonable and decent people. These tend to be "back benchers" though.

About the only way to fix politics would be change this reality of life in politics.

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Re: playing with the politics of pandemics

One reason is having read so much Pratchett, any mention of Johnson immediately translates mentally into Bloody Stupid Johnson.

Also, because BoJo has played on being the clown for years and is quite good at this. Considerably better than being in any position of responsibility.

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At times the prime minister and ministers waited until the scientific evidence was overwhelming rather than using it alongside other inputs to make their own judgements.
It's the semantics here that are what is important - they waited for evidence. Evidence is post event. Predictions are before the event. The gov, who can't be trusted with anything and would rather not do anything at all if it costs them money, were waiting to see what was happening, failing to comprehend that there is always a minimum of a 2-4 week lag in actions and results, therefore by the time they started to grasp that the infection rate was going high, it was already too late to stop it.

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Re: playing with the politics of pandemics

Calling BoJo the Clown the "Prime Minister" would imply that anyone thinks that he is remotely up to the task of typing his own shoe laces, or could be trusted to do so. He can't and isn't. BoJo's single priority in life is himself, nothing else or anybody else matters. Start looking at him from this perspective and it becomes quite easy to see how all his (in)actions fall into place. If he does anything for anyone else, it's only in the perspective of what it brings him personally.

Despite all of this, he's not as bad as Trump. Which really goes to show just how bad Trump is.

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Re: They followed scientific advice and now we are hearing they shouldn’t have.

It's not so much "fear of the state" it's that absolutely everything should be privatised, that the only value in other people is the amount of money that they generate. Entirely forgetting that money and value has to come from somewhere, that perpetual economic growth is impossible but that this fact can be hidden neatly by rising prices, as in there is more money in terms of numbers even though everything costs more. It's the more money that matters. Which isn't a problem because it can just be created out of thin air, aka, Quantitive Easing.

The Tory party mentality is pretty much: If other people are "too lazy or workshy" to not be able to afford food, lodgings, healthcare or education then this as a result of their lazy workshy life choices. Democracy, oops, unrestrained capitalism is about the survival of the fittest. In this case those with the most money and the most friends with the most money.

What's that lurking behind the borked face of finance? Windows, of course

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At speeds approaching 100 miles per hour...

Never remotely close to achieving 100 miles per hour of course...

Google reveals version control plus not expecting zero as a value caused Gmail to take an inconvenient early holiday

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Given such a remit the actual users will specify that they want a text input box to be a bit bigger and for the colours to be tweaked. Users rarely specify what they need, this usually requires someone with cross-discipline skills to specify. Often, of course, the management of said users will often specify exactly how they want something to work, platform and all, rather than what they need the system to do. Usually because they don't really know.

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Re: Yet again - zero bounds checking

Without wanting to touch on the idiotic near-religious flame war that is exception vs error handling... the default approach, because it's lazy as hell, is to do no error handling at all and just let exceptions handle everything. Doesn't matter if it's a relatively expected error, it will be left to raise a cascade of meaningless exceptions until some unfortunate component in the stack-o-horrors traps the exception and will duly mask it with the ever helpful "an error has occurred" message and then fail.

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Re: Facebook

The bugs and weird behaviours at occur in facebook's mobile app and web front-end often suggest that the architecture is an unholy un-tamable mess

Well... this was company that confused the relatively simple job of using HTML5 with creating an unwieldy unusable JavaScript driven horror shit show and eventually had to vomit up a semi-cross platform native app. Which they paid mobile phone manufacturers to embed on phones in a largely non-removable way.

Creating unwieldy unusable JavaScript driven horror shit shows is what the "smart kids" are pretending are web apps these days...

Trump administration says Russia behind SolarWinds hack. Trump himself begs to differ

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Re: HOWTO: hack their voting machines

It is usual to provide some link to credible evidence when making serious allegations.
Not in Trumpistan it isn't.

Your ship comms app is 'secured' with a Flash interface, doesn't sanitise SQL inputs and leaks user data, you say?

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Standard software development

TBH, this sounds like fairly standard software development by the usual talentless and inexperienced developers.

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Re: Shipping network security

I doubt that detonation would really matter at all that much, far too much trouble compared to the impact and the difficulty. It all comes down to fear and disruption, as in money (to clean up the mess). It would be much more effective and easier to just sail a large transport ship at high speed* deliberately into docks and oter vessels damaging them and leaving a very large wreck (navigational hazard) in the way at the same time.

* relative high speed, but even a few knots for something with the mass of these is a lot of collision energy.

BOFH: Switch off the building? Great idea, Boss

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...and if bean counters had any queries they could be sent directly to the BOFH. No need to stand in the way of such things.

AWS is fed up with tech that wasn’t built for clouds because it has a big 'blast radius' when things go awry

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Re: Why still lead acid?

I'm not a battery specialist, but my understanding of lead acid batteries is that compared to the alternatives they are chemically quite stable, relatively safe by way of the chemicals used, and cope well with trickle charging. Another of the major differences between lead acid and other batteries is that they can cope with a very high starting output, a trait that useful for their automotive usage but also to be continually charged and discharged.

The continual charge and discharge factor is important because of the two key types of UPSes: those where the output runs through the batteries all the time and ones where the battery is only switched to on a power event. The latter is cheaper but there is always a momentary drop in power during a switch event and the power passed through is not guaranteed to be clean, particularly during a power event. Running everything through the battery ensures clean power goes through all the time which can be an important factor for sensitive equipment.

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Unfortunately it often now feels that the choice too often made is to have a third party cobble things together out of third party components and for support for the system to effectively finish the exact moment of deployment. At which point testing can commence.

FBI confirms Zodiac Killer's 340 cipher solved by trio of amateur math and software codebreakers

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There was ample opportunity to mention AI but all we have is here smart humans doing smart things. Such things cannot be allowed and must instead be mis-attributed so some form of magical unicorn fart AI system.


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