* Posts by John Sager

563 posts • joined 28 Apr 2008


The power of Bill compels you: A server room possessed by a Microsoft-hating, Linux-loving Demon

John Sager

Re: Not met a demon

I ran a SPARC 2 as a desktop for several years. Lovely machine for the time, stayed with SunOS 4 though. Eventually though I persuaded the boss's boss to spring for a PC, that then ran Linux.

Google, Amazon pass on UK Digital Services Tax by hiking ad prices, fees at same rate the government takes

John Sager

Re: re: so it'll be interesting to see what the new competition regime makes of this

How do you pick 'National Champions' though? Benn wasn't very good at it, and would you trust any of the current lot? All those govt support for industry things just became boondoggles for smart grifters. I give you DeLorean and Strathearn.

You *bang* will never *smash* humiliate me *whack* in front of *clang* the teen computer whizz *crunch* EVER AGAIN

John Sager

Re: With great power comes great incompatibility

Nice site. He's even got Wylex plugs, which my parents' first house had. According to my dad I re-wired one of those accurately when I was 3. A good start to a tech life.

When you bork... through a storm: Liverpool do all they can to take advantage of summer transfer, er, Windows

John Sager

Don't have that problem. But then my kit is a bit earlier in the alphabet. So, Reg, have you yet seen borkage from the Big L?

BT and Serco among bidders competing to run Britain's unfortunately named Skynet military satellite system

John Sager

Re: Skynet not Terminator

I vaguely remember going to a lecture on Skynet-1 in the 70s. I think it used spread spectrum to multiplex the users of the transponder. Each user got 2400 bits/sec. At the time we were using 300bits/sec dial-up to our data centre for software development so that sounded like a really good deal!

ZFS co-creator boots 'slave' out of OpenZFS codebase, says 'casual use' of term is 'unnecessary reference to a painful experience'

John Sager

Re: My first thought:

There is actually. It's a term of art with a specific and well-defined meaning in the context, like many others taken from common usage. The replacement - dependents - in its common meaning, doesn't really fit the technical meaning, so there will be a period of confusion.

EU aviation wonks give all-electric training aeroplane the green light – but noob pilots only have 50 mins before they have to land it

John Sager

Yup. And having gone the PPL route decades ago, part of training is how to manage the engine - magnetos, revs, mixture, carb heat etc. None of this on an electric trainer so type conversion is going to be more than just a quick trip up with an instructor in the small Cessna or Piper.

I will continue to laugh at electric aircraft, until battery tech gets much better. The concept makes range & payload figures look stupid.

eBay users spot the online auction house port-scanning their PCs. Um... is that OK?

John Sager

Re: Fraud is a big issue for etailer

Freshwater croc in QLD. Mine was cooked quickly at the table on a cast iron sizzler plate. Yummy!

Linus Torvalds drops Intel and adopts 32-core AMD Ryzen Threadripper on personal PC

John Sager

Re: AMD Dreams

Still is short on registers. The register-ful architectures all have 32 now. However x86 and _64 are so embedded in the computing space now that that argument is pretty futile. I really liked the DEC Alpha architecture when it first came out, and some heavy hardware built on it really served us well many moons ago, in winning one of the Elliptic Curve crypto challenges from that time. Sadly it went the way of all silicon, as did DEC ☹️

The end really is nigh – for 32-bit Windows 10 on new PCs

John Sager

Linux desktop for decades

I used Mac, SunOs (not Solaris) and Linux in that order as a desktop at work since the 80s, though I did have a Win3.1 laptop for a while until I could put Linux on the HP one I then got. My colleagues were a mix of Linux and Windows to taste. It's true we were techs so 'office productivity' was secondary to tech productivity and we often built our own tools. Linux is still my main desktop/laptop and Win (XP) runs in a VM if I really need it. I don't pretend I'm mainstream but I doubt I'm really niche.

Zoom bomb: Vid conf biz to snap up Keybase as not-a-PR-move move gets out of hand

John Sager

There are end-to-end encrypted communications platforms. There are communications platforms with easily deployable security. There are enterprise-scale communications platforms. We believe that no current platform offers all of these. This is what Zoom plans to build

So how do you do that without the N^2 problem? I believe these multi-picture conference services do the video mixing in the central server to avoid that problem & make the video data feed to each participant just one picture. That requires the server to see the video (and audio), ergo no end-to-end security.

Trying to do it in each client would be 'interesting'.

Yes, it's probably a necessary PR thing.

PS Unicode superscript 2 (² in html) doesn't work.

UK finds itself almost alone with centralized virus contact-tracing app that probably won't work well, asks for your location, may be illegal

John Sager

Re: Congratulations, Kieren

They are often swayed by public opinion, Parliamentary committees, the Lords, even single interest groups. But I accept that, with a large majority and a 'to do otherwise is an existential threat' mindset, then it's an uphill struggle.

John Sager

Re: Congratulations, Kieren

That sounds like sarcasm, which I endorse. Nothing like a bit of snark towards Brexit while he was at it.

I'll suspend judgement on the app until I see some independent analysis of its operation. It might be a technical failure, in which case it'll be useless and all the paranoid ranting will have been for nothing. If it does work reasonably like it's supposed to then the key to acceptance is going to be the political & legal constraints on its use. Personally I would like to see a solid legal control excluding mission-creep with infractors, including ministers, going to jail. But sadly I can't see that happening, and a lot of commenters here wouldn't trust it anyway.

UK COVID-19 contact-tracing app data may be kept for 'research' after crisis ends, MPs told

John Sager

Ah. The URL says it all. Very low credibility in that department.

Britain has no idea how close it came to ATMs flooding the streets with free money thanks to some crap code, 1970s style

John Sager


Barclays original ATM used cheque-like paper things with a series of holes in them. They gave you a few at a time & one went back for more when they were gone One time I used one but it didn't let me have any cash. A bank employee was just leaving & asked what the problem was. He was about to give me a tenner & sort the problem on the morrow. Then he realised one of the holes wasn't quite empty, removed the offending chad & it worked perfectly.

The ultimate 4-wheel-drive: How ESA's keeping XMM-Newton alive after 20 years and beyond

John Sager

Re: Gotta wonder

If you added mass to it, especially off-centre like that, the moment of inertia would change drastically, requiring a complete recalibration to get back to the pointing accuracy needed, if that were even possible. Nowadays, given the capabilities just demonstrated by Intelsat to navigate and mate to a comms sat, it might be worth engineering mounting points and fuel connectors on sats like this so they can be refuelled in flight.

From attacked engineers to a crypto-loving preacher with a questionable CV: Yep, it's still very much 5G silly season

John Sager

Re: Fall of empires (and civilization too?)

Len, he doesn't need to. Look at his opponent...

John Sager

Re: Fall of empires (and civilization too?)

Nice conspiracy theory Len!

John Sager

Re: "The frequency that they're using is just below the classification of a weapon"

Yes, but you have the mental capacity, learning and experience to do that. We forget, in our tech environments like here, that a significant fraction of the populace actually can't do that. It's not ignorance per se, they haven't the capacity to learn enough not to be ignorant. And there are the shysters who prey on them if course.

Ofcom waves DAB radio licences under local broadcasters' noses as FM switchoff debate smoulders again

John Sager

Re: Complete the migration to DAB+ before faffing with FM

That's an argument for IP multicast, which hasn't taken off as most ISPs don't seem to support it.

John Sager

Re: A couple of points to note

DAB is useless where I live. I did re-cut an old Band III antenna which is up in the loft & connected into the house distribution system. It feeds just the bedside clock radio. On the road, FM is fine except along bits of the A303 in Wiltshire. The DAB on my wife's car is useless mostly.

Agree with other commenters here about OFCOM. Their remit seems to be to do the government's bidding rather than representing spectrum users.

Microsoft attempts to up its Teams game with new features while locked-down folk flock to rival Zoom... warts and all

John Sager

Pub replacement

A few of us have a regular pub session on a Friday & that has now moved to Teams, as one of our number gave us all logins, & I downloaded the Linux client. Since the chat is often techy we've used it to share docs & diagrams. Of course favourite tipples are consumed as well!

Rethinking VPN: Tailscale startup packages Wireguard with network security

John Sager

You still have to authenticate to build a tunnel.

I've been using Wireguard since it's early days for remote connections back to my home network. As they say, it's a piece of cake to set up & works on my phone as well as the laptop.

Broadcom sues Netflix for its success: You’re stopping us making a fortune from set-top boxes, moans chip designer

John Sager

Re: Do Broadcom actually have any proof that Netflix are using their IP?

It does seem strange that they lead off with "they're taking our business!", rather than specifics of alleged patent violations.

How does Monzo keep 1,600 microservices spinning? Go, clean code, and a strong team

John Sager

Re: Optimise for readability

Or hard sums libraries, think Numpy.

You. Drop and give me 20... per cent IPv6 by 2023, 80% by 2025, Uncle Sam tells its IT admins after years of slacking

John Sager

It's really no more 'public' than V4. The top 64 bits stay the same, just like your V4 address, and the bottom 64 bits are usually random, and change every so often.

John Sager

Re: Crap

No point. Wait for your ISP to upgrade, which might be a long time. I'm posting this on Vodafone 4G, and I've got a V4 10 address. They took the short term view with CGNAT ☹️

How's this for a remote support fix? Solar storm early-warning satellite repaired with million-mile software update

John Sager

So how was it fixed?

That info was not in the NOAA press release, but it would have made a much more interesting article for this audience.

Just the place you'd want to spot a BSOD: While waiting in line for a roller coaster that lifts you up 124ft

John Sager


You do know the driver runs with kernel privileges, and full BSODicity. And in Windoze, the driver is often written (cheaply) by some arm of the hardware maker. Linux drivers for rubbish serial dongles have been written by someone who understands this stuff, with a ton of fixups for hardware deficiencies. Just try perusing one and see how bad this can often be.

Come on baby light me on fire: McDonald's to sell 'Quarter Pounder' scented candles

John Sager

Re: All candles at once

TV Dinners - ZZ Top "I'm feelin' kinda rough"

Apple drops a bomb on long-life HTTPS certificates: Safari to snub new security certs valid for more than 13 months

John Sager

Re: Commercial Products

Ok, LE does a good job, but if everyone uses it it's a single point of failure.

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's a flying solar panel: BAE Systems' satellite alternative makes maiden flight in Oz

John Sager

Sats orbit. They don't loiter over one spot. So you need many to give continuous cover in LEO, or a much more expensive one (both sat & launch cost) in geostationary.

The virus curing the mobile industry's chronic addiction... and sparking an impressive algorithmic price experiment

John Sager

Tim picked up on this item.

So you locked your backups away for years, huh? Allow me to introduce my colleagues, Brute, Force and Ignorance

John Sager

Re: Come again

In those days computers were magic boxes, the IT guy was a shaman to a lot of people, and whacking disks was seen as a pagan ritual. No wonder the good upstanding accountants we're glad to see the back of him.

In case you wanna launch your boss into the Sun, good news: Earth's largest solar telescope just checked and, yeah, it's still pretty fiery

John Sager

Re: Reg units

As a unit, Wales is far too large, as we have to use milli and micro Wales. I suggest the new post-Brexit unit should be the Lundy. Not sure of the conversion from Wales, but it should have comfortably many significant figures.

Indie VPN WireGuard gets the Torvalds seal of approval with inclusion in Linux kernel 5.6

John Sager

Re: IPv6

I've been using Wireguard for months now, but only for IPv4, though it is working well in a dual stack environment. I wonder if I might get MTU issues with v6 - the Wireguard tunnel on my Android phone has a MTU of only 1280.

Remember the Clipper chip? NSA's botched backdoor-for-Feds from 1993 still influences today's encryption debates

John Sager

MPs haven't forgotten. They have never known in the first place. They are also unlikely to learn, as it's boring tech stuff and they are so busy.

Brit brainiacs say they've cracked non-volatile RAM that uses 100 times less power

John Sager

Hmm. 'Simulations'. Let's see some wafers first and measurements thereon.

There are far too many "Look! We've just made this amazing breakthrough in speed, power consumption, energy density, carbon reduction, etc." articles which never get anywhere. Perhaps you should produce a working model & characterise it before publishing?

Train-knackering software design blunder discovered after lightning sparked Thameslink megadelay

John Sager

Ah yes! Another one ticked off the bucket list. I actually operated one of those on a short track at a railway museum in Carson City, NV. Shades of Blazing Saddles...

El Reg presents: Your one-step guide on where not to store electronic mail

John Sager

Re: So close to the opposite...

I do exactly that with Thunderbird on Linux. My server uses dovecot/maildir. Some emails get filtered by the server into folders on receipt (mailing list stuff usually). Others I copy manually from inbox or delete to the trash folder. Then every year I archive a whole year out of inbox into an archive folder for that year, and occasionally I trim the trash back. Works great and I have archives going back 10 years or more if necessary, including the 'sent' folder (most essential!).

European Space Agency launches planet-hunting Cheops while Rocket Lab starts on a third launchpad

John Sager

Re: McNimby

I assume Spadeadam is no longer recoverable as a test site. Rolls-Royce used it to test Blue Streak/Steel engines in the 50s & 60s.

John Sager

Re: "using green hydrogen peroxide oxidiser and kerosene"

Search for 'Ignition!' on the web. That's an amusing & informative run-down of rocket fuels both useful and downright lunatic.

Five years in the clink for super-crook who scammed Google, Facebook out of $120m with fake tech invoices

John Sager


Why the pointless precision? £92M is perfectly adequate for a report of this kind, and I would expect journos on El Reg to understand that.

Register Lecture: Can portable atomic clocks end UK dependence on GNSS?

John Sager

Re: Interesting

For bank transfers, stock trades, etc you need event ordering, not necessarily absolute time. Time works for that when trades aren't local that need to be compared.

Oracle and Google will fight in court over Java AGAIN and this time it's going to the Supremes

John Sager

Re: Not Optimistic

Some of the Amicus briefs will have a good stab at explaining it in SCOTUS-speak.

John Sager

Just a bit too far south for that (Hawaii).

What a load of bollards! Object of bloke's street furniture romp run over

John Sager

Re: Possible scenarios...

Who's your supplier? I could do with some of that!

Labour: Free British broadband for country if we win general election

John Sager

Re: Political self-obsession and onanism

Er, no. You forgot the backhaul. That's much bigger pipes that also have to be paid for. So although your bit of fibre might do several Gb/sec on a good day, the backhaul investment will limit everyone to the 30 Mb/sec target figure (except for the Nomenklatura) because, after all, we are all equal under the new régime, aren't we?

High Court dismisses nameless Google Right To Be Forgotten sueball man... yes, again

John Sager

Not necessarily. The knowledge of the spent conviction and its nature may well influence anyone wanting to deal with him as to his trustworthiness even if the transaction wasn't part of a criminal enterprise. In any case he's either an obsessive or his new enterprise is crucially dependent on personal probity, probably the former.

Blood, snot and fear: Why the travelling lone tech reporter should always knock twice

John Sager

Re: Happened to me once......

Many moons ago, with small children on a foreign trip we stayed one night at the Ibis near Heathrow. We were woken up three times by people unlocking the door and barging in. On the third one I just roared FUCK OFF!, and that seemed to do the business. When I complained the following morning, to the French duty manager, he didn't seem very concerned, and only offered us a free breakfast, which we couldn't take as we needed to get to the airport. Needless to say I've never stayed in an Ibis ever again.



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