* Posts by Alan Brown

13433 posts • joined 8 Feb 2008

Check your bits: What to do when Unix decides to make a hash of your bill printouts

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: I quietly disagree

I like "driving" but commuting isn't driving, it's just getting from A to B with as little faff as possble

What happens when a Royal Navy warship sees a NATO task force headed straight for it? A crash course in Morse

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: NATO task force can't read Morse code?

they are defined as that, but in reality fuses are there to reduce the need for fire extinguishers

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: interesting stuff

what she really wants is to stop them by running them down and leaving the occupants in the water

which is problematic on a number of fronts

Alan Brown Silver badge

The last time I was seasick was because someone had projectile vomited all over me from an upper deck

I normally just head for the canteen and then fall asleep. Guess i'm lucky

BOFH: You'll find there's a company asset tag right here, underneath the monstrously heavy arcade machine

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Smoke from paper in the fuser...

" melting the entire plastic casing (one of those white Fujitsu 486s I think). Very lucky it didn't set on fire."

They won't burn - bromiated plastics see to that - however the fumes are probably mildly carcinogenic :)

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Toaster Smoke Alarm

the solution - of course - is to ban bagels

Alan Brown Silver badge

"but it wuz cheeper!"

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Personal heaters

"fool killer"

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Personal heaters

> The video on "why you shouldn't put volatile chemicals in a fridge" was quite good though.

Did it involve the chem-biochemistry block at Massey University, by any chance?

Hellfire and damnation: Two French monks charged over 5G mast arson attack

Alan Brown Silver badge

"The Jesus dude undoubtedly spoke Aramaic as his primary language"

Aramaic was a Hebrew dialect/offshoot

The interesting part is that if you run the NT backwards you'll find that most of the stuff attributed to Jesus is _very_ tightly coupled aramaic verse couplets - except for the bits which are obviously tacked on greek afterthoughts and don't fit (eg: "for thine is the kingdom" etc etc in the lord's prayer). Whoever was responsible for it was highly intelligent, likely spoke several languages and wasn't just one person - then other stuff got bodged on later (probably by Paul)

Monty Python's depiction of the period being full of prophets calling end of times wasn't far off. The period was one of those times which had been pointed to for a while, so people were expecting something to happen, essentially making it a self-fulilling thing in many ways. Add a few ergot outbreaks and you have instant miracles.

Alan Brown Silver badge

5G is necessarily very low power. If anything it's the older technologues which are likely to be problematic in terms of emissions levels

(It's still unlikely. The single strongest source anyone will encounter in day to day use is the 300mW phone held against the side of their head and the way to make that a 1mW source is to have transmitters nearby instead of several km away, at which point both ends dial down the juice - but the karens of thie world never listen to common sense)

AWS announces new region in the Land of the Long White Cloud – New Zealand

Alan Brown Silver badge

This is interesting

It wasn't so long ago that companies shunned New Zealand, citing hostile telecommunications environments and a rapacious telco

Times have changed, this is a vindication of the policy change and breakup of Telecom New Zealand (a poster child of how not to privatize your telco)

This is AUKUS for China – US, UK, Australia reveal defence tech-sharing pact

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Airstrip Two is much bigger than Airstrip One

That may be a very VERY long time

Bear in mind that marine nuclear reactors require 50% enriched fuel, which is subject to NPT rules and the USA got pretty toxic about Iran enriching its own. It would be ..... "hypocritical" ..... to now be transferring some to a non-nuclear state (explicitly forbidden)

This kind of thing is on par with Germany/Japan conveniently ignoring the Washington/London naval treaties on the leadin to WW2 when it suited them to do so

Then there's the issue that Australia's spending $800 billion to defend its trading routes from military aggression - from its single largest customer (as in larger than all the others combined)

Meantime China's working on second-sourcing iron ore and coal from Africa by building up the economies of african countries. They may be getting indebted, but they're also getting pretty good infrastructure and economies out of the deal, unlike past "trading" with western countries

Australia's economy is critically dependent on primary industry exports, mostly iron ore/anthracite coal and China is virtually the only customer for these materials

How well will Australia's single-customer-dependent economy handle if if that country takes its business elsewhere? (Hint: ask the barley farmers, it didn't end well for them)

Meantime China's due to bring the the first Molten Salt fuelled nuclear reactor online this month since the Oak Ridge MSRE was shut down in 1969 (and the first thorium fuelled one ever - Oak Ridge never got to test Thorium), with a 100MWe power reaction version right behind it for testing. If that works, you can expect them to start selling the to developing countries and break the world's dependency on oil (which also breaks the US dollar hegemony, meaning all the quadrillions of US debt comes due)

Clegg on its face: Facebook turns to former UK deputy PM to fend off damaging headlines

Alan Brown Silver badge

Clegg is "High Profile" ?

When software depends on a project thanklessly maintained by a random guy in Nebraska, is open source sustainable?

Alan Brown Silver badge

same old story

ONE of my projects saved a company $83million in 6 months - or so they told me

I suggested they might like to kick a few hundred dollars across to pay for kit to keep up with the loads. They declined

Compromise reached as Linux kernel community protests about treating compiler warnings as errors

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Warnings are usually there for a reason.


I've run into far too many cases of memory leaks and corner case crashes which wouldn't have happened if errors and lint outputs had attention paid to them in the first place

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Seems like a good idea


Leading to far too.msny instances of 'it works, until it doesn't and then it really doesn't'

Let's not forget the same mentality saw shuttles continuing to launch with leaky o-rings and tiles being whacked by pieces of tank insulation

A developer built an AI chatbot using GPT-3 that helped a man speak again to his late fiancée. OpenAI shut it down

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Sad

We'll replace your brain with an artificial one. A simple one should suffice. All it needs to do is say 'what?', 'I don't understand' and 'where's the tea?'

Hacking the computer with wirewraps and soldering irons: Just fix the issues as they come up, right?

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: I once wanted a fifth hard drive...

I solved that issue in DOS by using scsi (and old drives salvaged from Macs - with sticktion issues for which the answer was "don't turn them off")

GlobalFoundries confidentially files paperwork for $25bn IPO – report

Alan Brown Silver badge

The interesting part about this

is that Toyota identified semiconductor supply as a potential vulnerability/pinch point following the 2011 earthquake and not only took pains to build up several months worth of stock in case the semiconductor plants went down, they were the only automaker to NOT cancel chip orders when covid predictions pointed to a slump in sales - electing to build up stocks when they reduced output, in order to avoid pinch points when the market recovered

Toyota's risk mitigation plans are an integral part of "The Toyota way" - (Their Just in Time philosophy is not minimising stocks at all costs, but reducing them to minimum practicable levels - emphasis on practicable and not putting production at risk)

They didn't lose their place in queues and they haven't reduced orders. There's been an uptick in demand but this smells of the same kinds of horse trading that went on in the wake of the Sumitomo fire in the 1990s where financial market traders started dictating availability and manipulating supplies for maximum profit by buying up all available production

Treaty of Roam finally in ashes: O2 cracks, joins rivals, adds data roaming charges for heavy users in EU

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: And this

"The instant brexit was voted for,"

It wasn't. It was a non-binding referendum (aka opinion poll) and have nothing to do with the subsequent actions of the government

Brexit is officially the electoral policy of the Conservative party, not a referendum directive

So sayeth Theresa May's lawyers when the referendum was challenged - and accepted by the courts

Yes, they admitted the referendum wasn't binding - but that they decided to do it anyway

Alan Brown Silver badge

"so some mobile operators are needing to rip out Huawei kit they only recently installed"

NOBODY is doing that. The timeframe for removal allows it to age out of the product cycle

What's driving the costs up is being forced to buy UnkaSam's approved kit - at 3-4 times the cost of buying similar kit from chinese companies which hold most of the 5G patents

It's notable that Huawei pulled out of the UK market almost entirely. They're still selling enterprise kit in the EU - but they won't ship THAT to the UK either

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Another Brexit bonus

It's not uncommon to find phones on the south coast announcing they've connected to French networks

And that used to be a rather expensive experience for people who thought they were firmly standing in Blighty

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: As Soon As They Could...

If non-roamers were subsidising roamers, you'd see a reduction in contract charges

As it happens, I've just received notification of my contract charges going up

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Really don't care

"Telcos charged huge amounts for international roaming because they were/are able to get away with it."

They pulled other shady shit too

In 1996, Telecom New Zealand hoovered up all excess satellite bandwidth out of the country and sat on it to keep other operators from being able to buy it and undercut their international call charges

It was cheaper to to this than reduce their rates, so that bandwidth went unused for 5 years.

They were hardly alone. A LOT of telcos around the planet did this or purchased legislation granting them local monopolies or "gatekeeper" status or outlawing voice/internet gateway services that cropped up

Less than a year later, telcos worldwide discovered people were making "free" voice calls across this new-fangled "Internet" thingie and almost instantly "ISPs" went from being their very best customers to mortal enemies. That's why Telcos parked their tanks on the lawn of being ISPs

The telcos became even more furious when they discovered that people were ditching faxes (a picture of a page) for email (the actual text) and saving 70-90%+ on call costs even when they'd built up monopolies on internet service (dialup email polling time vs fax call duration)

(When I worked for a govt owned telco there were plans in place to abolish LD charges on calls to neighbouring towns (50-100 miles) because the cost of sending/processing the bills was higher than the revenue. That was instantly stopped when privatised and it was only when actual competitoin showed up that rates dropped from dollars per minute to cents per minute on longer-haul connections. Even then the telcos usually did their utmost to obstruct interconnects, just like AT&T back in the 1930s before the FTC whacked it with sherman act charges)

I suspect that if St Elon could find a way of providing 4G level service on Starlink the telcos would rather quickly drop their rates. Their charging model is based on a switched network structure which hasn't really existed for 30 years. It's all data packets now

Alan Brown Silver badge

and her friend "Terrific Tracy"

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: If it's not on the side of a bus...

and for that reason the EU is mostly glad to be rid of them, but planning for it to start lashing out like a certain country thet felt hard done by did in the 1930s, culminating in a rather abortive grand tour that commenced in 1939

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: If it's not on the side of a bus...

welfare includes "state pension" - and that's where the vast majority of the UK government budget goes

Old folks vote, hence things like free bus perks, tv licensing exemptions and triple locks.

UK's competition regulator fires red flare over Nvidia's $40bn Arm takeover deal

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: NVIDIA needs breaking up

Look into the way they attempted to corner the network switching market recently by hoovering up Cumulus, then ripping out Broadcom support

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: ARM is/was an 1980s company...

"NVidia will extract their costs while the ARM stuff slowly dies over the next 20 years"

The very first thing Nvidia did when acquiring established linux distributions for network switch chipsets was to rip Broadcom support out of them in order to promote their own switching silicon

There are very real fears that if they acquire ARM, they'll shut Broadcom out via licensing games

Nvidia are the current holders of the "buy it, then extinguish it" torch of anticompetitive behaviour

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Far to late

"What exactly is wrong with an ATMEGA808, which has sold literally billions, costs cents, and does what it needs to do? Or one of the many Texas Instruments devices, or Analog Devices"

When push comes to shove, they're IP whose distribution is controlled by the US government - and it HAS been increasingly controlling that distribution to try and industrially disadvantage China

Risc-v's advantage is that the US government can't control it. The US already demonstrated they had the power to block ARM selling into China and that's caused widespread reevaluation of what is used in domestically produced/designed devices for international sale

In short, US government protectionist policy is driving rapid development and uptake of RISC-v in ways that the LongSoong chips could never get traction on

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Far to late

The "old" Taliban were mostly Pashtun locals and had family ties to the areas they were in.

The "current" Taliban are a different animal - afghanis have been complaining for a while that they're mostly foreigners who entered the country to fight the USA (the same thing happened in Iraq)

You can't occupy a country if the locals don't want you there (The USA found this out in the Philippines in 1899-1935 as well as Vietnam), but in this case the USA has given the "resistance" an enemy to unify against. I can't see "The Taliban" remaining unified for long - they're already fragmenting into infighting factions

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: USA stops foreign ownership of companies

> You often have to spend USA "aid" on USA Military gear and support.

Ditto with British foreign aid. The strings on it almost always mandate dealing with British companies (I've worked at the receiving end and quickly observed the primary beneficiaries of such charity were companies from the "donating" country)

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Far to late

It's spurred a lot fo chinese investment for exactly this reason. Odds are pretty good that the migration to it across chinese manufacturers (especially Huawei) is essentially unstoppable.

It's got to be noted that ARM has _already_ been restricted by the US government in what it can sell to China already. That's one of the reasons Softbank decided to put it on the block

At some point more sectors of the world are going to take the banking approach to USA interference - ie: "refusing to do business with americans". It's already happening with logistics where shipments are both being routed around the USA and away from carriage on US-owned companies, thanks to Covid-related shenanigans

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: First Ultra, now Arm

wait until you discover sal ammonic sweets from finland

Oh the humanity: McDonald's out of milkshakes across Great Britain

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Government has responded by lifting caps on daily driving limits from nine hours to 11

Yup - both employers and drivers have razzed this as dangerous. I'm fairly sure liabilty insurers won't like anyone who increases their hours too

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: The other thing is

The JIT model was invented by Toyota - who always modelled it with provision for supply chain vulnerabilities (as one example they were one of the few car makers who realised that cancelling semicondictor orders would result in them being put to the back of the order queue, so they intentionally stocked up on several months worth to ensure the supply chain kept flowing)

There are thousands of pages written about the Toyota methodology (several large books), but PHBs at most other companies merely skim the first 2-3 pages and decide JIT means ZERO buffer stock on everything, instead of "minimum practical stock, taking potential supply chain disruptions into account"

Alan Brown Silver badge

"they have to navigate the Home Office visa nonsense,"

Not to mention arse-headed UK border agency staff who may falsely declare someone's entry unlawful and deport them - as happened last month to a Polish driver arriving to take up a job despite doing everything correctly at every step along the way

The home office even agreed the deportation was wrong, but they can't override decisions made by staff even if that decision probably cemented most EU drivers' determination to never set foot in the UK again

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: A number of sound decisions?

This is the crux of it

It's not JUST Brexit or IR35 - it's the way that companies have been driving up their personal costs for decades

The haulage industry was hemorraging drivers long before Brexit. That's just the final straw for many who were considering leaving anyway - when a Romanian driver is saying he can end up with more take home pay for less stress in Romania than in the UK, you know there's something fundamentally wrong with the British economic model

Robots don't smoke, says Alibaba, and that's why they deliver parcels so fast

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Robots don't get lost

"20 deliveries/day/robot is ridiculously low"

I suspect that they're so much cheaper than hoomans, they expect to be able to put 10 robots in place where one meatsack used to do the job

Alan Brown Silver badge

humans seem to manage the overgrown shrubbery just fine - by tossing the packages into it and marking the package as delivered

My dealings with Alibaba lead me to believe they don't understand how awful delivery drivers are in namy countries, but I suspect this venture won't end well

Cop drone crashes into flight instructor's airplane

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: it would be fantastic ...

21st century version of the Greater Manchester Serious Crime squad?

Poly Network says it's got pretty much all of that $610m in stolen crypto-coins back

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: What next indeed

You wouldn't believe that's happened from the number of messages I get trying to get me invcolved in chinese crypto trading

(Yes, I know they're a scam. They don't seem to have gotten the memo)

More Boots on Moon delays: NASA stops work on SpaceX human landing system as Blue Origin lawsuit rolls on

Alan Brown Silver badge

There's a bigger holdup in the works

All this lawsuiting is a nice distraction from a very large elephant in the room

Spacesuits - or lack of them

The design and production of moon-capable EVA suits for the mission is several _years_ behind schedule. Current NASA suits are 1970s designs and the ones in use at ISS are increasingly expensive to keep operational due to their age

Curious Droid covered this a few days ago: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v4St7s0eD6A

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Bezos

I heard Lovehoney were looking to sponsor it....

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: The next deadline for Blue Origin is 3rd September...

"the root causes of all their Starship landing failures were things not on their risk list."

Or in other wwords, you don't know what you don't know - until it crops up

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: The next deadline for Blue Origin is 3rd September...

Except it's more likely to deflagrate than detonate

There's a huge difference

China, Russia, India, and pals agree to create virtual satellite constellation

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Wait, Brazil has a launch pad ?

"Well, yes it can."

It came perilously close to not having a space program anymore after blowing up many of the key people involved in it on the pad in 2003: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VLS-1_V03

ESA launched most of their birds for a while


So the data centre's 'getting a little hot' – at 57°C, that's quite the understatement

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: I once had to do something similar in a Skoda...

In such vehicles the fan was usually mounted on top of the water pump pulley, so losing the belt was doubly inconvenient

You can go a fair way without an alternator in a pinch. Not so much when there's no water circulating (and then there's the issue that such overheating issues usually cause all the radiator fins to fall off, making a bad situation even worse over time)

See that last line in the access list? Yeah, that means you don't have an access list

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: was it seman's contracting dicks?

acquiring secondhand cisco kit is cheap and a home lab is a nice thing to have


Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021