* Posts by John Robson

2734 posts • joined 19 May 2008

NASA to stop using names like 'Eskimo Nebula' and 're-examine' what it calls cosmic objects

John Robson Silver badge

Re: Human Nature

But you can raise the next generation without having them surrounded by casual reminders of past racism.

In terms of black hole and white dwarf - I don't see an issue with either, they are literally describing the colour of the objects in question (although white dwarves will eventually cool to become black dwarves).

In the same way that a red giant isn't a slur on those with red hair.

US voting hardware maker's shock discovery: Security improves when you actually work with the community

John Robson Silver badge

critical, but inherently vulnerable, as opposed to paper versions which have had most of the kinks worked out....

Given the delay between the election and the implementation of the result, does it really matter if it takes 36 hours to count the votes?


Tom Scott video

Tom Scott followup

USA decides to cleanse local networks of anything Chinese under new five-point national data security plan

John Robson Silver badge

Re: Doesn't the US have a huge debt with China?

Are you sure - really sure... really, really sure.

Do you even care how many bombs you have if the "other" party has more than none...

Someone made an AI that predicted gender from email addresses, usernames. It went about as well as expected

John Robson Silver badge

Think you might have replied one comment further down the chain than you intended...

Fresh astro-underwear, anyone? Orbital shenanigans as Progress freighter has last-minute ISS docking wobble

John Robson Silver badge

Re: Only 3 hours?

Clearly I'm an idiot... they fly up the *east* coast, not the west coast.

And yes the inclination is a compromise to make that, and the launch from soviet sites, reasonable.

It does mean that US launches actually don't ever get that far from land though (at least not until the abort option is "to orbit")

John Robson Silver badge

Re: Only 3 hours?

They fly up the west coast, because the boost from the rotation sin't nearly as important as getting the inclination right to start with

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin. Hang on, the PDP 11/70 has dropped offline

John Robson Silver badge

Re: psst goes my vacuum


John Robson Silver badge

Re: psst goes my vacuum

First cleaner story where they don't unplug something, and the solution is so easy... For future proofing you could probably rig a "cleaner's" socket at the front of the bench.

USA seeks Moon and Mars nuke power plant designs ready to fly in 2027

John Robson Silver badge

Re: Why the 1Km cable?

Yes you can smelt metal from lunar regolith, so long as you already have a good source of power... oh.

So you start next to the reactor and smelt the cable away... Does it even need an insulator beyond the first few metres... How conductive is regolith?

John Robson Silver badge

Re: Coudn't they have specified...

120V DC as well...

Although in fairness to the US, they do have 240V to each home as shown by

Technology Connection (YouTube).

WTF is cloud-tethered compute? We're not sure either, but it just made a hype cycle for the first time

John Robson Silver badge

Not hard - anyone who has published virtual applications/desktops over the last few decades know exactly what this is... it never went away.

Google search trends used to calculate floating prophylactic prices

John Robson Silver badge

It might be a stunt - but it worked... I'd never have heard about it otherwise.

Though my TZ probably gives away that I'm not really in the target market.

UK.gov admits it has not performed legally required data protection checks for COVID-19 tracing system

John Robson Silver badge

Re: Hold up...

Unfortunately the next generation, on the way to fulfilling that prophetic film 'Idiocracy', will see it as an instruction manual...

John Robson Silver badge

I would consider accepting the "Doing it next week"... if....

The T&T had been rolled out in the week following the Google/Apple API, and we were still in that week - and it had a kill switch (to reduce the risks associated with an adverse report)

But it's *so* late to the party that there is no excuse for not having done the assessment in full.

Only EU can help us, pleads Slack as it slings competition complaint against Microsoft Teams

John Robson Silver badge

Re: All this fuss

Yes it's all blinged up IRC...

but it's that bling which is being protected by this sueball... Of course that protection won't kick in until slack is six feet under.

It would be good if the courts could look and say "Yep -you actually need to bill for your applications in a reasonable way".

MS would be perfectly at liberty to discount the rest of the office swamp to put teams in, but not to push it as an update... and customers should have the choice of what they pay for...

John Robson Silver badge

Re: Not exactly surprising reading...

"100% agree with your last point, I have not heard anything about Opera being the only browser that comes pre-installed on an iPhone either."

Do you mean Safari?

It's worse than that on iPhone... you can't install an alternate rendering engine at all, so even other browsers use the same render engine, just different syncing of bookmarks etc.

John Robson Silver badge

Re: The issue here is if MS be allowed to destroy the little fish so as to steal the market

I'm old enough remember both 123 and visicalc (although that only very faintly)

I'm not saying that losing those was a good thing, but of all the tools available now... excel is the only MS product that I occasionally wish I had installed (then again I've managed since ~ the introduction of the ribbon, so it can't be that important to me)

John Robson Silver badge

"I hate to say this, but the Microsoft Teams product is better than the Slack offering. And to be honest, if an organisation is paying for an Office 365 license anyway, why would they want to use Slack for another cost?"

That's the whole point of determining the behaviour to be anticompetitive.

If teams *is* better, then they should be able to charge for it as a standalone product (or at least have it as an optional extra on the subscription - there is no need to not have the possible benefits of integration).

I find Slack does very well for my use case, I have a couple of integrations which mean that most of my day is spent with slack on one monitor, telling me about updates to tickets, booked meetings etc...

I virtually never log into email or calendar apps, because I don't need to. I'm always logged into to the ticketing system, but slack gives me a good feed of when there are tickets I need to check back on - without being distracting of the work I am doing on another ticket at the time.

FYI Russia is totally hacking the West's labs in search of COVID-19 vaccine files, say UK, US, Canada cyber-spies

John Robson Silver badge

"Protecting global health

"the UK and its allies are getting on with the hard work of finding a vaccine and protecting global health"

So does that mean that the government is completely funding the research and will be freely sharing the data on request?

UK smacks Huawei with banhammer: Buying firm's 5G gear illegal from year's end, mobile networks ordered to rip out all next-gen kit by 2027

John Robson Silver badge

Re: This will end in tears.

"I never claimed Brexit enabled us to offer people from HK citizenship."

Well - you kind of did:

"That's precisely the sort of path I had hoped Britain would follow as an independent nation."

That's either claiming that it enabled it or you're saying that you're really glad you have seen a streetlight in the daytime, because now you can walk home.

That referendum... the one which wasn't declared illegal simply because it wasn't binding.

The one which, in the latest country wide poll (i.e. the election), returned just 46% for brexit supporting candidates.

Ah yes, the glorious 46% majority....

Much damage has been done - there are still those who wish to limit that damage.

John Robson Silver badge

Re: This will end in tears.

"Also, as a Brexiteer I welcome with open arms any HK national that wishes to flee the clutches of the tyrannical Chinese Communist Party. That's precisely the sort of path I had hoped Britain would follow as an independent nation."

And we were already able to do that as an EU member...

Apple: Don't close MacBooks with a webcam cover on, you might damage the display

John Robson Silver badge

"Or at the very least carve out enough space on the front edge of the case so that it doesn't cause damage."

There isn't space at the front edge of the case, they use that space, very effectively, for a decent sized trackpad.

I've used a section of a post it note for a very long time, it's very thin, very effective, incredibly cheap, available at all good offices...

And it you aren't enabling the webcam frequently then it lasts for ages as well.

IBM job ad calls for 12 years’ experience with Kubernetes – which is six years old

John Robson Silver badge

Re: Job ad requirements

At least you can't be accused of discrimination...

Keep it Together, Microsoft: New mode for vid-chat app Teams reminds everyone why Zoom rules the roost

John Robson Silver badge

Glances... Are no good

Even if the grids were consistent between participants...

Because the camera isn't in the middle of the grid. You really need four monitors, with a webcam in the centre to make this even remotely feasible.

Since my camera is on my laptop I can be up to 90 degrees off axis when looking at people on a conference (which I do to lip read). The "currently talking screen" tends to jump about when people pause for breath and the laptop screen is too small to deal with the "grid of boxes" view at lipread-able scale.

GCHQ's cyber arm report on Huawei said to be burning hole through UK.gov desks

John Robson Silver badge

"Security vulns are regularly found in Cisco kit, Nokia kit, and many others, but politicians don't seem to care about those ones."

Correction - they care deeply. After all they (or rather their puppet masters) put them in.

Folk sure like to stick electric toothbrush heads in their ears: True wireless stereo sales buck coronavirus trends

John Robson Silver badge

Re: I'm still astonished...

"One could argue that if you need hearing aids you are not really in a position to judge the quality of speaker drivers, other than to say which you prefer of course, which is always a valid opinion."

You could argue that....

I know that these are capable of reproducing a wide range of frequencies - certainly they go down well below any set of earbuds I've ever had - and the high end has never been an issue for small speakers.

My hearing loss was sudden (caused by a rather unhelpful immunological response) ~2 1/2 years ago, previously I was an audio engineer for church/theatre/rock band/... so have some reasonable expectation of driver performance. They also go loud enough that they could cause hearing damage pretty damned quickly in someone with normal hearing [e.g. between 4 and 6 kHz they are set to ramp up to exceed 100dBA - which is about my threshold of hearing at that range]. They do a high volume version as well (will push 120+ dBA into the ear canal).

As a user of hearing aids I also find it very difficult to isolate sounds now - and that is something that any degree of "mushiness" in the drivers would exacerbate - so despite the fact that I can't hear as clearly as I could, I am possible more sensitive to defects in the drivers.

John Robson Silver badge

I'm still astonished...

that no manufacturer has gone the hearing aid design route.

The drivers in my RIC aids are phenomenal, and with the relatively large size of the pack behind my ear they provide for ~ 5 days of battery life with bluetooth streaming alot of that time. Take out the T-Loop and reduce the ridiculous amounts of DSP on board and you have an incredibly comfortable "all day" set of ear wear. Without the need for an embedded mic the minor collisions and scrapes that occur with glasses would be completely unnoticed.

OK, I have custom moulds for my receivers, but I also have the open cup "default" ones, and they let in ambient sound practically unaffected (can change with the closed domes for some isolation), the custom moulds give me a very controlled audio environment though.

The battery life and comfort are unmatched on the market - and for no particularly good reason.

Analogue radio given 10-year stay of execution as the UK U-turns on DAB digital future

John Robson Silver badge

Re: The future is behind you ....

That's a mastering choice though... Can't really blame MP3s for the producer's desire to sound louder.

John Robson Silver badge

Re: The future is behind you ....

"'Community Radio' - was there ever anything of value broadcast on 'community radio'?"

Yes - as someone who runs a community radio station for four weeks each year, there is something of value on there.

No it's not all of the same production quality of a BBC or commercial station - but it's an excellent starting point. We have several people who have come through the community radio route and now work in commercial radio and the BBC.

Indeed for several years we have run a competition where the winners (based on their favourite 'link') got an hour show on a commercial station.

John Robson Silver badge

Re: The future is behind you ....

No - the way a well looked after vinyl on a decent table is better than a 16kbps mono MP3

Linux kernel coders propose inclusive terminology coding guidelines, note: 'Arguments about why people should not be offended do not scale'

John Robson Silver badge

Re: Words matter...

Add one to my list of people in that group who don't find it offensive, the other list is still at zero...

Anecdata isn't statistically significant, but at some point it adds up.

I often do sanity checks - and, for instance, I encourage my kids to do the same on their maths homework. I suppose we could call them "reasonableness tests" but that's significantly harder to say, or spell.

John Robson Silver badge

Re: I am obviously a horrible person and possibly racist...

Compressors have their place in the artistic manipulation of audio signals. They should rarely (if ever) be used on the output of a controlled signal path.

I'll run them on the final DSP before an amp, but that's for protection purposes, not artistic ones - and doesn't apply when creating a studio master.

Using side chain compression of, say, the bass guitar keyed from the kick is a fairly common way to reduce the conflict between low end sources in a mix, but it doesn't do so by ignoring the available bit depth of a CD.

John Robson Silver badge

Re: Thin end of the wedge?

Well yes - I had great fun proof reading my explanation to a customer talking about killing orphans and the various resources associated with daemons, children, parents, orphans, zombies...

Having those terms was very useful since they actually have a real world analogue (well, except for the zombies) which helps people understand what is going on.

Having to talk about forked and forkee processes would be chaos comparatively.

John Robson Silver badge

Words matter...

Though I'm not quite sure why "sanity check" is considered pejorative by any group.

I don't know anyone who, despite their mental illnesses, would be called insane by either themselves or others.

And I am struggling to think of any group who would consider it offensive... clearly my imagination isn't up to much - can anyone enlighten me?

University ordered to stop running women-only job ads

John Robson Silver badge

At 30% a minority stops becoming a minority...

Not really - you are still a minority, just a reasonably sizable one...

Mind the airgap: Why nothing focuses the mind like a bit of tech antiquing

John Robson Silver badge

Re: I was suspected of Dyspraxia...

" Didn't help one bit with the dyslexia though (hate that word. It's cruel to have to try and remember which letter goes where in it)."

Until someone pointed out that it is an anagram of daily sex (with sex being the only thing written forwards) neither could I...

Three UK: We're sending you this SMS to warn you not to pay attention to unsolicited texts

John Robson Silver badge

Great way to generate a list....

Send a short URL to each user, those who click on the link can then have all links stripped from future SMS.

It's a security feature

UK space firms forced to adjust their models of how the universe works as they lose out on Copernicus contracts

John Robson Silver badge

Re: "Preferably near the equator to have earth's spin assisting you."

Bigger issue is the inclination change required from the various sites - which is why the ISS is at the inclination it is, to make it reasonable to get to from Khazakstan (without dropping stages on people) and florida (without dropping stages up the east coast)

Rental electric scooters to clutter UK street scenes after Department of Transport gives year-long trial the thumbs-up

John Robson Silver badge

Re: Helmet

More importantly it will kill any potential usage of the things...

So they were "tried, but the public didn't want them", so we need to build more roads and car parks.

Segway to Heaven: Mega-hyped wonder-scooter that was going to remake city transport to cease production

John Robson Silver badge

As someone who rides a recumbent trike - they're far safer on the roads than a conventional diamond frame bike.

Amazingly people can see things on the roads - the cat's eyes aren't very tall, and a 'bent is about the same height as a lotus elise.

John Robson Silver badge

Re: In the UK

"The only other case of psychotic break I've seen from drugs involved a lot of more dangerous substances like salvia."

Completely failed to parse that, and wondered what was so dangerous about saliva....

John Robson Silver badge

Re: In the UK

And if the car was invented now it would have no chance of being legalised anywhere.

Similarly if tobacco or alcohol were recent discoveries.

After huffing and puffing for years, US senators unveil law to blow the encryption house down with police backdoors

John Robson Silver badge


I can help, I'll put one RasPi to work to crack the encryption, after all there are only a finite number of keys.

You'd think lockdown would be heaven for us layabouts – but half the UK has actually started 'exercising more'

John Robson Silver badge

Representative is a missing word

"After getting nearly 4,000 responses,"

None of those will be those who are depressed as a result of incaceration

What's the Arm? First Apple laptop to ditch Intel will be 13.3" MacBook Pro, proclaims reliable soothsayer

John Robson Silver badge

Re: less pop for yer buck

Clearly punished by the computer gods...

the Mac rebooted on me yesterday... Hasn't happened in a long while (not at all since I sorted the eGPU issue*)

* The eGPU wasn't actually drawing enough power to keep the power brick entertained, so it would occasionally just power down, and the mac wasn't overly happy about it being randomly disconnected.

When I realised I could power the laptop through the eGPU it suddenly became happy, the power brick hasn't powered it down again since.

John Robson Silver badge

Re: less pop for yer buck

"If you spent loads of money keeping hardware and software bang up to date you could get about 1/4 the performance of anything running Linux or windows."

Really? I get infinitely more performance out of a system that works than one that doesn't.

Bearing in mind it's many years since I ran anything from Redmond.

A factor of four is rather unlikely, though I'll readily concede that you get more power if you get a decent free OS. But you also, in my experience, spend more time playing with that rather than your day job.

Paging technology providers: £3m is on the table to replace archaic NHS comms network

John Robson Silver badge

Re: Hospital pagers

Lowest bidder: Lowest technical competence, not price

Sure is wild that Apple, Google app store monopolies are way worse than what Windows got up to, sniffs Microsoft prez

John Robson Silver badge

Re: Microsoft still at it

Yes, but you know what - the actual render engine ought to be completely irrelevant.

John Robson Silver badge

Re: Stores might suck, proprietary protocols are the real killer

"because I once had an IOS cell phone device, I am eternally stuck on people upset that I didn't "respond to their text". The kindly reminder that they didn't send a text, rather they used that asshole companies proprietary thing lands on cold ears."

You mean you didn't bother to unregister the number when you gave up the ability to receive messages from that platform?

You register, and some people get a cheaper/easier way to message you, which works across all of your and their devices. You stop being able to receive that protocol there is an established procedure for deregistering the number.

Only true boffins will be able to grasp Blighty's new legal definitions of the humble metre and kilogram

John Robson Silver badge

Re: Looks like a danish error...

That's quite fun.


Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2020