* Posts by tony72

547 posts • joined 2 Jul 2008


Glasgow firm fined £150k after half a million nuisance calls, spoofing phone number, using false trading names


Re: How do you find them?

As mentioned in this article, some companies specifically target people on the TPS list, so I'm not sure there's any point to being on it. I don't have a handset on my landline, but my mobile number which I've had for decades receives a spam call maybe once every three months if that, usually robocalls about my recent car accident which I didn't have. Not on the TPS. I try to be selective as to who I give the number to and keep my fingers crossed.

Guntrader breach perp: I don't think it's a crime to dump 111k people's details online in Google Earth format


To be fair ...

...while I wouldn't personally be particularly upset if this "Ernie" turned up to a hunt and got accidentally shot in the face, based on his attitude, I don't actually see why reformatting the data for Google Earth makes it any more accessible or dangerous versus its original form. As I understand it, the original form included a spreadsheet with names, addresses and postcodes, so an animal rights nutter looking for local gun owners could simply search on city or postcode - does putting it on a map really make any difference?

Branson (in a) pickle: FAA grounds Virgin Galactic flights after billionaire's space trip veered off course


We really need to wait for the results of the investigation before we can make any such claims. Even in terms of what was reported (and of course journalists and authors would never sensationalise aspects of a story to generate views, no), the response to that warning light wasn't "you must abort", it was "an abort is probably the safest course". However the whole point of putting human pilots on board is to make judgement calls based on the situation at hand. There are any number of factors that could have influenced the pilots' decision not to abort, such as exactly how far off the glide slope they were, where and when the warning occurred, their previous experience with similar situations in test flights and simulations, and so on and so forth. So personally I'm going to hold off criticising the pilots until I actually know it's justified.

Russia's ISS Multipurpose Laboratory Module launches after years sitting on a shelf, immediately runs into issues



I thought the whole point of hypergolic fuel engines was that they're simple and reliable - no need to worry about ignition etc, just pump the propellants in and off it goes. Seems strange these guys are having so much trouble.

IT manager who swindled Essex hospital trust out of £800k gets 5 years in prison


Re: Barry Stannard

It says "Confiscation proceedings are under way", but it's not clear how much is left to be confiscated. Should have his future earnings docked until the entire amount is paid off.

Richard Branson plans to trump Jeff Bezos by 9 days in billionaires' space race


Re: To quote a well known phrase...

I don't think the term "early bird" is really applicable to either of these efforts, considering how long they've both been in development, sixteen or seventeen years, I believe. Better late than never, I guess.

That being said, personally I find the Virgin craft to be the much cooler vehicle, even if it doesn't go quite as high. New Shepard just seems a really uninspiring, play-it-safe design, boosting a capsule up and then landing it by parachute out in the sticks. Comparing that to a manually-flown rocket plane, air-launched from a fantastic-looking carrier aircraft, and landing the passengers back at the take-off site, I know which one I'd want to fly on. If I was the kind of absurdly rich git who's going to be making that choice.

Watchdog bans crypto super-exchange Binance from 'regulated activities' in the UK


Re: Shady

Maybe. However people have been saying that since bitcoin launched twelve years ago, and yet here we are with lots of big institutional investors buying in, a country adopting it as legal tender, hundreds of billions of dollars in market cap, and crypto looking increasingly like an accepted part of the financial landscape. At what point do you accept that it's not going anywhere?



Choose an exchange based in Europe, preferably one that goes out of it's way to demonstrate its compliance with financial authorities, if you want to avoid problems. Choose one based in a tax haven and under investigation for money laundering if you prefer to live dangerously.

Japan assembles superteam of aircraft component manufacturers to build supersonic passenger plane


Re: Do we really need this ?

Probably pointless me replying this late, but let me point out that biofuel is not the same thing as synthetic fuel. Carbon neutral synthetic fuel takes its carbon from carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, not from plants, and thus achieves carbon neutrality directly without compromising agricultural land and driving up the cost of food. However currently it is very expensive to produce.


Re: Do we really need this ?

If it's for an expensive executive service, then it's an ideal candidate for expensive synthetic fuel, so it doesn't have to have a big carbon footprint.

Samsung brags that its latest imaging sensor has the ittiest-bittiest cam pixels in the world


Well, in theory it means you have the ability to take very high resolution images if the lighting allows, but then you can increase the binning for lower light. I don't know how much control they actually give over this on a smartphone though.

Tech scammer who fooled Cisco, Microsoft and Lenovo out of millions jailed for more than seven years



I want some coaching from this guy. Getting companies to send out replacement kit under warranty in anything beyond the most clear-cut cases seems to generally be a painful and time-consuming process that I personally hate engaging in.

Antivirus that mines Ethereum sounds a bit wrong, right? Norton has started selling it


Re: I thought this was a variant on the "Freemium" model.

I don't know what a single $1600 PC (circa 2017-ish hardware) generates in terms of mined coin, but I somehow doubt it would pay for itself and given the electric usage I noticed above I am certain it wouldn't cover it initial cost plus running costs... ever.

All depends on the graphics card. If it had say a GTX 1080 from back then, it could earn enough to pay for itself in two or three years, even with western energy prices. However with an unsuitable graphics card, and/or worse still doing CPU mining, you could easily be costing way more in energy than you could earn.

BTW it might not have been mining using all that energy. I used to run SETI@home continuously years ago, for example. I don't remember whether I ever considered the energy usage of that or not, but it must have been considerable.

Firefox 89: Can this redesign stem browser's decline?


Re: Stop fiddling with my browser!

This was why I ditched Firefox. The Mozilla said that its redesign is based on telemetry policy literally means "dumbed down by design", and while everybody is doing that to an extent, Mozilla seems to be particularly zealous about it.

ASUS baffles customer by telling them thermal pad thickness is proprietary


I think they're used just because they're convenient, not because they're great. Both thermal pads and paste are terrible heat conductors, just that they're significantly better than an air gap, but the ideal is a metal-to-metal contact with the bare minimum amount of paste to fill the imperfections in the surfaces. I think manufacturers go for lower mechanical tolerances and make up for it with a nice thick thermal pad to fill the gap because it's cheaper. Presumably they test these things and it's good enough, but still seems sloppy.

Lessons have not been learned: Microsoft's Modern Comments leave users reaching for the rollback button


Re: "Modern Commenting"

You have to appear to be doing *something* to justify getting people to upgrade their software, and this is even more the case with the shift towards subscription models. So unfortunately I only expect this phenomenon to get worse as time progresses.

Northrop Grumman's MEV-2 gives Intelsat satellite a new lease on life until the next rescue in another five years


Re: How long can a MEV function ?

It has a design lifespan of fifteen years, according to this page. I'm not sure what the limiting factor is on the lifespan, I assume it's based on estimated fuel (edit: or I guess that should be reaction mass) usage, so depending how conservative their estimates are, perhaps they might still have an extra mission in the tank at the end.

Microsoft fixes the thing it broke via another dose of out-of-band patching to deal with BSOD printing problems


Re: Stating the bleedin' obvious

Releasing them into the world *is* the testing. That's why they need all the telemetry in Windows, to find out what broke.

So, bye-bye mighty nerd haven Fry’s, took Silicon to the Valley... and now you must die


I was under the impression that Maplins failed mostly because several rounds of leveraged buyouts by private equity firms saddled it with massive debts, which I don't think is the case with Fry's, so a little different situation. It might have struggled anyway, but without the private equity firms loading it with debt and draining it of profits, it might have had a fighting chance.

Google’s Pixel phones to measure heart rate and breathing, other ‘droids coming soon



There is at least one app, "Heart Rate Monitor" by REPS, that has been able to do the heart rate via camera thing since forever, I've used that on my last few phones. Respiratory rate, I don't know if there's an app for that, I haven't looked, so I guess that bit at least may be an innovation.

So has Google Fit improved much in the last few years? When I last used it, it would insist that I had done several miles of cycling every day, when I don't even own a bike; it was classifying some of my walking or driving as cycling, and there was no way to tell it otherwise. Hence I assigned it to the shit-by-design category and haven't felt the need to revisit it since.

Google's Alphabet sticks a pin in its Loon internet broadband service


Re: Why am I not surprised?

The system worked, they deployed a working system in the real world, so it's hardly as ridiculous as you're trying to make it sound. They got a lot further than most such interesting-but-slightly-impractical-sounding ideas do.

LEO satellites don't stay up long either, Starlink satellites only have a lifespan of ~4 years, and I'd imagine these balloons were a lot cheaper to replace than satellites are, which SpaceX is going to have to launch many thousands of every year even once their constellation is complete, just to replace the EOL ones. If you were comparing descriptions of Loon to Starlink before either had actually been done, I suspect Loon might have sounded more practical. Do you think Starlink is a "buzz" project as well? I suppose it isn't complete and we don't actually know for sure if it will be profitable, so maybe it is. Anyway, I give props to the Loon people for making an interesting idea work in the real world, albeit not profitably.

UK network Three hikes pay-as-you-go rates by 400% to push punters to buy 'bundles'


Re: Knock on effects.

As the article points out, three are still cheap compared to a lot of the competition, so I don't know if "killing off PAYG" is fair.

Tbh I'm more surprised by how cheap PAYG had gotten, when did that happen? It's not that long ago I was on a plan that charged £5 per MB for data off-bundle, never mind 5p. I suspect even on-bundle dats cost more than 5p, I just avoided using data at all costs.

SpaceX wins UK regulator Ofcom's approval for its Starlink mobile broadband base stations


I wonder if the T's and C's permit sharing the service with a neighbour or two. For people stuck out in the boonies with 2Mbps DSL, sharing 150Mbps three ways would still give a very decent speed increase while bringing the cost down a bit closer to regular broadband service.

China bans 105 apps, eight app stores, and says it’ll swing the hammer again


Re: Which appstores?

From the Chrome-Translated CAC announcement; "At the same time, for the non-implementation of audit requirements, the rapid download of illegal and illegal applications, 7755app, New Vision, Win House, Pippi Bus, 7230 hand games, software emperor, dmfuns and other 8 app stores, according to law to take measures to stop downloading services."

Congrats, Meg Whitman, another multi-billion-dollar write-off for the CV: Her web vid upstart Quibi implodes


I watch Dust intermittently. It's hit-and-miss, but the good thing about a ten minute movie is you haven't wasted too much time of you don't like it.

Bitcoin value jumps as PayPal says it will accept cryptocurrencies... once it has the kinks worked out


I bought 1000eur worth of BTC a few years ago (at a bad time market-wise, I may add) just for fun, which I have intermittently traded (as in selling or buying maybe once a year if I notice the market is particularly high or low). I withdrew 1000eur in profit a couple of years ago, so anything I make now is gravy. My trading account is currently worth ~13000eur. Compared to the returns on my weekly lottery ticket and the premium bonds I was given decades ago, I'd say bitcoin has been a sound investment so far, wish I was brave enough to invest more than beer money in it.

Who watches the watchers? Samsung does so it can fling ads at owners of its smart TVs


Re: Likewise

I have a 55" Samsung smart TV bought this year (or possibly last), no special DNS settings or Pi-Hole or anything, it is connected to the internet (I like its youtube app), and yet I have never seen these ads. I'm glad about that, but what's going on? Certain models only? Is it a regional thing, and they're not doing it in the UK? Or is there going to be a firmware update one day and suddenly they'll start showing?

NHS COVID-19 app's first weekend: With fundamental testing flaw ironed out, bugs remaining are relatively trivial


Re: Old iPhones.

Apparently a moot point. My colleague has an iPhone 5s, and the app will not install. It says it need iOS 13.5 or later, and the latest available for his phone is less than that. So old iPhones may be supported, but it looks like not that old.

'A guy in a jetpack' seen flying at 3,000ft within few hundred yards of passenger jet landing at LA airport


Re: Mistaken identity

Agreed. Three hundred yards is a long way away; if you assume the guy is 2 yards tall, and you hold up a ruler three feet away from you, the guy's apparent size on the ruler would be 1/4 of an inch. Not very big at all. Highly unlikely that you can reliably identify something that size at that range. I'm sure whatever it was kinda looked like a guy in a jetpack, but it most probably was not.

Backup a sec – is hard drive reliability improving? Annual failure rate from Backblaze comes in at its lowest yet


Re: Not solid research

Unfortunately, these Backblaze reports are not at all objective. The results reflect only their own experience and can't safely be extrapolated to drive reliability in general. This has been pointed out several times since their first report was published, and they don't seem to have improved their method. They therefore smack rather more of PR than of real attempts to inform.

Backblaze make make no claim that there findings should be taken as reflecting anything other than what they are - their results, with their setup, under their conditions. That doesn't make it not objective; perhaps you used the wrong word there. Nor is there any particular reason why Backblaze should change their methodology to try to apply it to use-cases other than own, in fact they'd be nuts to do so. They happen to run a lot of drives, they can produce reliability statistics on those drives, and many people find their results interesting, even if they are a specialised use-case. I'd certainly rather have their results than not.


Within the last 20 years, before IBM sold its hard drive business to Hitachi, the now-HGST produced the infamous Deathstar drives, so there's a slight irony to that table. Sure it's not fair to blame HGST for IBM's sins, but still.

Microsoft wants to show enterprises that Edge means business, rather than the thing you use to download Chrome


Re: I maybe stuck in my ways but...

I recently switched from Firefox to Edgemium as my primary browser. Microsoft's other sins aside, and they'll probably **** it up eventually, but right now it's a good browser. I'd been using Firefox since the 0.x days, but its glory days are over.

China successfully launches Mars probe that packs an orbiter, lander, rover


Re: Beagle 2

Have an upvote for the laugh.

To be fair, I believe Beagle 2 did actually land successfully and intact, just it failed to deploy its communications array properly once on the ground, so it should count as a landing. However it was British, although part of an ESA mission, so I'm not sure even then that the EU should get credited with a landing.

Chinese mobile giant OPPO claims new 125W fast-charging spec will fully fuel your phone in 20 minutes


"According to preliminary estimates, the battery capacity of a 100W fast charge loses about 20 per cent of its capacity compared to a 30W PD fast charge," his (Google-translated) post reads. "Simply put, 5,000mAh becomes 4,000mAh."

No thanks. I bet there is accelerated long term degradation of the batteries too. Personally fast charging just isn't a selling point for me, I stick my phone on charge when I get home, it's charged when I need it, and there never seems to be a big rush if I need to top it up at desk or in car. I suppose there must be busy bees rushing around that would actually benefit from the few minutes saved, but personally I'd find the opposite a selling point; give me a slower charging phone that promises the minimum possible battery degradation over its lifespan, I'd take that. Dell offers a long-life battery option with its Precision laptops that does that, slower charge in exchange for longevity. I took that option, only time will tell if it actually delivers, but the previous machine's battery didn't make three years.

Utilitarian, long-bodied Nokia 5.3 has budget basic specs - but it does cost £150



The review omitted to give the screen resolution, 720 x 1600 apparently. With a 6.55" screen, I'm thinking that's some fairly chunky pixels.

So has OLED become cheap now? I'm surprised to see an OLED display in a budget phone, but then I don't really watch the phone market, so maybe this has snuck up on me.

A bad day in New Zealand: Rocket Lab's 13th mission ends in failure


I was watching at the time. The video stopped updating but the telemetry kept on going for a while, before they cut to the presenter. The video freezing bit didn't look intentional - it froze rather than cutting to a logo, and I think it may have stuttered a bit before freezing, not sure. So there was nothing to see anyway except the altitude readout going the wrong way.

But yes, it seems to be standard practice for space companies to cut off the video feed in case of a failure. I guess they want the opportunity to analyse the failure themselves before the rest of the internet weighs in on it.

Boffins baffled as supergiant star just vanishes – either it partially blew itself apart or quietly turned into a black hole


That's the same as the 'dust' scenario. If it's happened, you still see it, just in IR

That assumes that all the energy captured by the Dyson sphere is ultimately used within the Dyson sphere, ending up as heat. However if for example you built the Dyson sphere in order to create Kugelblitzes* to power interstellar craft, then most of the energy would ultimately leave the sphere along with the spacecraft in question.

*A Kugelblitz is a black hole formed entirely out of light, and is considered as a possibility for powering far future interstellar craft. You would need a lot of energy to create a Kugelblitz big enough to power a useful spaceship, as in capturing the entire output of the sun for some months or years, so creating them is one possible motivation for building a Dyson sphere (or swarm or whatever) in the first place.

Come glide with me: Virgin Galactic gives Unity some fresh air, looks forward to rocket-powered flight


Re: Arianespace - long term plan?

There was a post recently about them having developed a prototype reusable rocket engine for future re-usable vehicles, but I'm not sure how far off they are, it sounded like it was at a pretty early stage.

Customers of Brit ISP Virgin Media have downloaded an extra 325GB since March, though we can't think why


3.7GB per week is only 0.05Mbps average. Even if you assume it's all concentrated into one hour of activity per day, that's only 1.2Mbps during that hour.

So even with only 6Mbps upstream capacity, most people would have plenty of headroom for such an increase, I'd have thought.

Micros~1? ClippyZilla? BSOD Bob? There can be only one winner. Or maybe two


Re: 8.3

It was relevant for a much larger period of Microsoft's history than most of the other suggestions, and you can always tell the whipper-snappers to try typing "dir /x".

Latest Microsoft 365 'wave of innovation' really just involves adding or renaming a bunch of update channels


All I want to know is ...

... how do I sign up for the "no more updates" channel? Actually can we roll back a couple of updates to before the Outlook search box mysteriously migrated to the title bar, which is aesthetically and functionally just bizarre. I can't actually remember the last time there was a new Office feature that I actually cared about.

Users of Will.i.am's Wink IoT hub ask 'Where is the love?' as they're asked to pay for a new subscription service



"We need to get them on the tit. That's what we do." - Marty Kaan

House of Lies may have been about management consultancy, but the mantra could be pretty much the same for cloud-based products. Once you depend on that cloud service, they've got you, and while you may be disappointed when they use the power that you've given them over you, you shouldn't be surprised.

Stop us if you've heard this before: Boeing's working on 737 Max software fixes for autopilot, stabilization bugs


Cue MCAS, a dual sensor automated "bodge" system, where apparently only 1 sensor was connected, with no redundancy, that faceplants into the ground when it glitches or birds damage it (even when pilots manually fight it). Oh yes - for added fun, the LED that indicates MCAS failure (dual sensor mismatch) is an "optional sales extra".

That was hardly a no-win design challenge. Obviously they could have conected two sensors if they wanted to, they could have installed that LED as standard if they wanted to, and so for the other changes required to make the system work, then it would have been a win. It wasn't the difficulty of the design that caused their problems, it was making stupid decisions, and then doubling down on that by seemingly avoiding proper regulatory scrutiny of what they'd done.



To be clear, it is said by Boeing that these two bugs, involving the autopilot and stabilization, are new and not related to the faulty MCAS system

So are these bugs new as in newly introduced regressions, or newly discovered but have been lurking for a while? I guess the latter, but the former possibility makes me wonder how scary it might be to receive a software update notification from Boeing these days.

HMD Global pokes head out of quarantine to show off 3 new Nokia mobiles


Re: ROM ?

Flash memory is technically "Flash EEPROM", i.e. it is technically a form of ROM. However nobody refers to it as ROM, so doing so is indeed liable to be confusing.

I find that less annoying than the use of the term "memory" by many non-technical types to refer to mass storage. Also technically accurate, at least as far as SSDs are concerned, but not the convention, or at least I've certainly grown up using "memory" to refer to the random access type.

SpaceX beats an engine failure to loft another 60 Starlink satellites



[...] more than five flights will be needed per booster to make the figures work.

Anyone know which figures are being referred to here? Is this saying that SpaceX can't make a profit if they only reuse their boosters five times? I was under the impression that they make a healthy profit per launch already, with the levels of reuse already achieved. Of course that only gets better if they can do a hundred launches per booster.

In case you want to flee this wretched Earth, 139 minor planets were spotted at the outer reaches of our Solar System. Just an FYI...


Dyson Swarm ftw

Axiom signs up with SpaceX to fly private astronauts to the International Space Station


What will they do?

I can't imagine you'd want to pay millions to spend a few days on the ISS just to twiddle your thumbs, and as far as I understand it the leisure facilities up there are somewhat limited thus far. Are these private astronauts going to be given tasks to perform, or take part in experiments while they are up there? I mean, taking that killer space selfie with the Earth behind you is great and all, but...

Don't Flip out or anything, but the 'flexible glass display' on Samsung's latest pholdable doesn't behave like glass


Re: inevitable byproduct of encounters with keys and coins

Honestly, did anyone think this was really glass on the screen? It's not known for being particularly flexible, unless it's a strand of optical fibre thickness...

Upvote for the first part of your post, but Samsung actually calls the stuff "Ultra Thin Glass", so ...



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