* Posts by Alan Brown

12265 posts • joined 8 Feb 2008

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

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: "We were pissed at the bought of being merely bid fodder."

"UK govt had more faith in Germans (particularly) but to a lesser extent French and Italians actually delivering the thing that was procured"

And for bloody good reason - The same reason governments and large orgs around the world tended to bin British bids having being repeatedly stung by fraudulent bidding and suppliers who would "run away" from their obligations

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: About this 'Taking Back Control'...

They seem to be well in control of withholding safety critical data and declaring community COVID infection rates (Pillar 2) an Official Secret in order to keep bad news from contradicting the official releases

Except it kind of caught up with them in the end...

Alan Brown Silver badge

"Well, the British press are saying it was due to good luck"

And the UK police are trying to cover themselves in stolen glory regarding the cracking.

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: And yet

"ECHR isnt part of of the EU either, and not mentioned in the but the current Slovenes in Westminster want us out of that too."

Which is even more ironic considering where it (and the EU declaration of human rights) came from.

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: This project is, though

"Get back to developing and making it ourselves"

Like the UK's orbital rocket capabilities? Or the jet airliners that fell out of the sky because Manglement wouldn't let the designers talk to and _train_ the assembly line workers about the differences between pressurised/unpressurised construction (and worse, changed key construction parameters without telling anyone what they'd done)?

UN warns of global e-waste wave as amount of gadgets dumped jumps 21% in 5 years

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Elephants in the room

"Add to that the problem of recycling Li-batteries."

Those are like lead-acid batteries - about 98% recyclable - and ex-automitive ones are proving to have strong second lives in stationary applications.

You're fixating on the wrong parts of the vehicle there

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Someone's confused

Australia and New Zealand come under Oceania and they each have levels of waste that dwarf even USAian ones

Euro police forces infiltrated encrypted phone biz – and now 'criminal' EncroChat users are being rounded up

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: So what are GCHQ doing with all their funding then?

"Why are the NCA doing this?"

Perhaps the NCA are full of fecal matter?

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Use offline encryption/decryption

and even if you don't have preagreed codes:

"Regular checkin Mr Scott, code green, all normal."

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: But private ciphers also exist...even if end-to-end encryption is broken.......

"Any "compromised" user... just doesn't give up their passphrase."

Until introduced to rubber hose cryptography

One does not simply repurpose an entire internet constellation for sat-nav, but UK might have a go anyway

Alan Brown Silver badge

"I'm just speculating but perhaps the desired use case doesn't need cm level accuracy?"

Uplinks for road charging?

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: general communications, and rural broadband,

"Satellite Internet is for users off the grid"

GEO satellite yes. LEO is a different kettle of fish.

One of the very first things it does is provide sufficient competition to keep the incumbent terrestrial operators HONEST

One thing which springs to mind is that satellite broadband is going to punch straight through regional/national government-ordered censrorhsip walls. I could see the UK government making it _illegal_ to use a "foreign" satellite Internet provider because it would allow users to bypass the pornblocks.

Alan Brown Silver badge

No, it wasn't a shambles. To call it a shambles is being grossely unkind to shambles.

It was a complete and utter fustercluck.

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Re assume...

"They obviously have some plans for it which aren't immediately apparent."

Plans which usually involve funnelling taxpayer money into the pockets of friends of spaffer and de pfeffel

It's extremely hard to repurpose specialised satellites which are already in orbit. We don't have SHADO It's also vary hard to repurpose such birds even before launch as they're production line items built for a purpose

Oneweb's most valuable asset outside of what's already launched is its FCC license. I can see it being used for a UK military comms network to replace Skynet (which is what effectively kept Iridium going for years) but that's about it and doing so would make about as much sense as building a pair of Nimitz-size conventionally powered aircraft carriers without CATOBAR facilities.

CSI: Amazon.com coming soon to a screen near you

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Hit where it hurts

"Or was it that eBay objected to Amazon muscling in on their turf?"

It's been much easier to get fake stuff dealt with on Ebay for years - to the point that Ebay sometimes pound genuine sellers by mistake

Fasten your seat belts: Brave Reg hack spends a week eating airline food grounded by coronavirus crash

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: As a child of the 1970s, I have a fear of savoury dishes involving fruit...

I recall an incident at one such institution where one of the "inmates" stood on a bench and juggled the mashed potatoes to make a point

One of the cooks stormed ouf of the kitchen and attacked him.

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: As a child of the 1970s, I have a fear of savoury dishes involving fruit...

"Disintegrating frog or boiled to death prune"

Crunchy frog. With Spring Surprise as a followup

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Tastes differ...

Not just food, but the wines

There is zero point in trying anything "delicate" in the air because the airconditioning will whip just about all of the important bits away before you get a chance to experience them. Stick with simple chardonnay, etc.

That said: I don't recommend drinking and flying - it's a fast way of getting badly dehydrated and arriving feeling like crap (stick to the non-alcoholics on long hauls and if you must indulge try to run 3 glasses of water per glass of wine, with no more than one wine/beer per 3-4 hours - Seriously, drink LOTS of water. You're losing it like gangbusters out of your lungs to the dry air. I spent half the 1990s flying around the world and that advice kept me functional)

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Extra flavourings

It's not just the pressure chamber though. The airline experience includes having most of the smell whipped away by the air handling system before it even gets a chance to get near the parts that can sense them (IIRC it's something like a complete air change every 90 seconds with primary airflow from the top of the cabin to the floor vents)

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: We should retain only minimal flights; no 50-mile jollie

"Isn't unintentional environmentalism fun?"

An anecdote from my telecommunications tech days:

It was pointed out that _every single time_ there had been a pandemic ('56, '68 and '77 given as particular examples ) or a fuel price surge ('74 and '79 given as examples there), travel had been set aside for teleconferencing (or the phone equivalent of it in those days)

And every time things had returned to "normal", the surge in demand for telecommunications services had not eased off, whilst increases in travel normally only came with subsequent growth in company business

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: COVID-19 decides. And CO2 decides. And lobbyists decide

"Covid's kind of turned out to be a bit of a damp squib."

I suggest you familiarise yourself with pandemic curves over the last 150 years. Traditionally the SECOND wave has been the one which takes out the most people - usually by a factor of 10 or so - and we haven't even seen the peak of the first wave worldwide yet, let alone the begeinnings of the second one.

Take onboard the 1918 lessons of Philadelphia, San Francisco and Apia

Facebook accused of trying to bypass GDPR, slurp domain owners' personal Whois info via an obscure process

Alan Brown Silver badge

> "56 High street" will be accepted when the actual address is "97 Church Rd".

As will businesses with registered addresses that turn out to be MBE drop boxes (Hint: it's not legal in most countries as the registered address is the place where legal service by a bailiff must be accepted by a human)

Alan Brown Silver badge

"Hmm, does the US have something similar to the UK's "vexatious litigant" rulings ?"

Yes and they tend to be easier to get too - what you referenced is for stuff that's actually in courts but there's another class for those who regularly use _threats_ of litigation without following through.

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: What do you think it is about

"And if you wanted something different, then they'll refuse to believe you "

Something almost but not quite completely unlike tea?

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: What do you think it is about

" Why? Because the boss - a former salesman - had sold that we'd already developed this software in house and it was ready to roll out. It was a big enough order to bet the entire company on."

That's the point at which you update your CV and leave - because he bet YOUR future and sure as hell wasn't planning to share any of the results with you.

less stressful and your bank account is more likely to be better off.

Faxing hell: The cops say they would very much like us to stop calling them all the time

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Way back when...

"sometimes a strowager relay would stick and not roll through the correct number of contacts,"

The odds of this happening went up with the number of times someone had poked at it.

The very best way of maintaining Strowager relays was to leave them the hell alone until they actually played - never EVER let the junior tech staff near them - and chuck 'em out if they were out of tolerance/couldn't be adjusted

Unfortunately it was ALWAYS junior tech staff maintaining them, there was a rigid schedule of maintenance and they were always bodged back into service somehow

Unsurprisingly, during the 1980s BT strike the number of faults recorded at BT Strowager switches went through the floor - which mind of made the points above

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: I used to repair fax machines...

"no, it really has sent it, even if you have the original in your hand (they honestly believed it somehow sent the original like a letter! "

Honestly the easiest way to describe it as "It's taking a picture of the page and sending that to the other fax machine" - which seems to be the lightbulb moment

and "look at the little diagram on top which shows you which side the text needs to be on"

Alan Brown Silver badge

"for when you want to send a slow, low resolution, black and white copy of an document you could easily have scanned and attached to an email."

Or as we used to put it back in the 90s - "a fax is a picture of a page, an email can have the actual content of the page - and one is 1000x smaller than the other - which means it gets there faster or costs you less on an international call"

Alan Brown Silver badge

> Not long after a Police car turned up at the office with a very irate PC demanding we turn the "bloody fax machine off".

The lesson there is that the external access code for your PABX should NEVER bear any similarity to the local emergency numbers.

But, "quality british design" and all that......

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: My first modem..

My DSL router/PABX has built in fax facilities too.

Not that I've ever used them for anything other than testing. i don't even get spam faxes - and I have a very large LART to deploy (fax protection service registration) if they ever do start happening.

Alan Brown Silver badge

"Once had a fax try repeatedly to connect to my parent's house number. Drove us all mad (I was living at home at the time)."

I had this happen too. The much simpler solution was to grab a fax and plug it into the line - to discover that my home number was the same (but a different area code) as a major finance company's fax line.

After the company ignored complaints about their agents faxing the wrong area code, we took to faxing back the (highly senstiive) application forms with "APPLICATION REJECTED. POOR CREDIT RISK" in scrawled over the top of the form in large black marker

The calls stopped after about a week

Another person I know took a similar path and found out the home number of the CEO of a company whose fax machine was dialling out at 2-3am then rangi that CEO up every time he received a 3am fax call - at 3am.

Unsurprisingly the 3am fax calls stopped happening within days.

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: 555

the "go to" number for this is 555-1212 in the USA. This is _ALWAYS_ reserved.

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: I called the cops

"112 - the UK and EU harmonised emergency services number - is embarrassingly close to 111 for the NHS non-emergency helpline."

Hint: Which came first?

Hint2: It wasn't the NHS non-emergency helpline

UK.gov announces review – not proper inquiry – into Fujitsu and Post Office's Horizon IT scandal

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Well that's a relief

"There is something called "Malicious prosecution" in English law which could be used against The Post Office and senior managers, to seek redress for the PO's appalling treatment of their sub-postmasters. "

nematoad is being too circumspect. AIUI, this is still being actively pursued - and the fact that Post Office settled for £60 millioon is a substantive admission of wrongdoing. People want their names (or names of now-dead family members) _CLEARED_ and they see this as a path to exoneration.

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Meally Mouthed Diversion

"Judicial review anyone ?!!"

People throw that one around. It doesn't mean what you think it does.

All a judicial review does is establish whether procedures were followed correctly. Nothing else - and it expressly does not establish any liabilities

Someone got so fed up with GE fridge DRM – yes, fridge DRM – they made a whole website on how to bypass it

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: home use printer that doesn't dry up between uses

"Never seen/used one, but hear they worked well."

I had two as part of the fleet

Waxjets (and they _were_ waxjets) worked really well if you used them for several prints every single day. The moment you let them sit for a while was when they'd gum up - and they worked by having tubs of melted wax inside them so having them sitting on anything except a _VERY SOLID AND STABLE SURFACE_ was a bad idea (anyone kicking the table would upset them and they took over an hour to cool sifficiently to be safe to move)

If you only used them occasionally (or avoided color printing) then you were guaranteed to have the usual inkjet gumming problems - on steroids - because cleaning them involved working with a hot plate running at 80C

Frankly i was glad to see the back of them. I have a number of very nice pictures they printed but the hassle factor was way too high for the crayons they used

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Next great idea

"Any recommendations for an occasional home use printer that doesn't dry up between uses?"

Yes: Use a laser printer

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Entirely legal

"I am irked by the way my wi-fi enabled LG air conditioner's Android app refuses to run on my rooted phone. "

Setup openhab, interface to the aircon, install the openhab app. Problem solved.

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Entirely legal

Johnson have done something similar on their Glade timed/sensor spray scent thingies

In their case it's not RFID chippery but two black stripes on the spray nozzle that aren't there on generic cans. The workaround is to swap out the nozzle from a genuine one - or a black marker pen.

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Right to Repair... Jon Johansen's life.

"Jon Johansen's life was turned upside down due to DeCSS"

And that was only stopped when a US judge quite rightly pointed out that the laws concerned do not have ANY validity in the country where Mr Johansen lived. (The case was killed for lack of jurisdiction)

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: "Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations"

Adam Smith also said that growth is never unlimited and that business have a moral obligation to support their workers

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Entirely legal

"Or am I actually renting it from GE under some new type of contract?"

If you are, and it breaks, then GE are obligated to REPAIR it as part of that rental agreement, etc etc.

A good lawyer can have a field day with this kind of stupid mindset on the part of the makers - and a few cases like that - showing that their civil liabilities go through the roof (death of a billion paper cuts) - would have a far more salutory effect on their attitude than any level of copyright laws might do

Russia drags NASA: Enjoy your expensive SpaceX capsule, our Soyuz is the cheap Kalashnikov of rockets

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: What a picture that would make

Anyone with photoshop skills want to take a crack at it?


Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Foot in mouth

"But I wonder if China's seats are big enough for American astronauts"

China _started_ with scaled up Soyuz capsules and grew them. The obvious racist dig is rather misguided - my own family is full of hobbits and at 5'6-5'8, the average chinese guy towers over them

FWIW most US astronauts (and test pilots) are _short_ - tall people have a tendency to have their knees removed by the instrument panel when they eject. The Mercury/Gemini guys were mostly 5-3-5'4 or thereabouts. Big people are a liability in spacecraft (It's been joked that a double leg amputee would make an ideal astronaut as they've had 1/3 of their mass removed)

As for toilets in microgravity - they're all awful and will leave you going "ewwwwwwwww" - bear in mind the air is recirculated, not all of it goes through the filters and now imagine how bad a space habitat smells to a new arrival.

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

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Reserve power?

"Lithium-Air batteries have a theoretical specific power of 11.4 kW/kg, compared to the theoretical maximum of 11.99 kWh/kg for Jet A-1, so very close."

They have a slight problem in the _rate_ that they can deliver that energy though.

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Reserve power?

"Wasn't there some scam recently where somebody tried selling some ignorant managers that a diesel electric airliner was possible?"


It's _possible_ that a single *core* could directly drive an attached fan and an electrically coupled one (although it might make more sense to just use a generator and drive 2 electric fans, or find a way of mechanically linking the second fan)

This has been advanced as a way of trying to avoid the never-ending growth of fans on wings, but I suspect it's chasing the wrong rainbow

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Can't Wait

" It gets blooming noisy here on training days "

Combatting this is one of the primary aims of electric trainers.

The fact that those vintage technology Lycoming engines need servicing every 50 hours and tearing down to the last nut and bolt every 5000 hours makes them _extremely_ expensive propositions.

For training aircraft like a Piper Tomahawk, when soloing fuel is only about 20% of the overall operating cost. The labour costs of the engine and wings eat up 90% of the rest.

Even if an electric trainer needed to be recharged on the ground for 2 hours to get 50 minutes flying it would be a viable proposition to have 3 of them vs one conventional trainer. Longer endurance is needed for longer stuff but 50 minutes is a good duration for circuits and suchlike. I can see tradeoffs being advanced - putting more batteries in to give greater endurance at cost of restricting operation to single seat use due to MTOW/MROC limits (The Tomahawk is a good example of tradeoffs: It's cheap and only has a 110hp engine. You _cannot_ get off the ground with two average sized adults, full fuel and more than an overnight bag as baggage, but I've used it for 300 mile solo weekends away, lugging a reasonable amount of junk between family members whilst doing so)

Alan Brown Silver badge

"the Cessnas and Pipers of this world are basically using 1930s technology."

For the simple reason that piston engines were largely abandoned for aeromotive use about then. Light/ultralights tend to be on Sport/experimental licencing rather than GA, which heavily restricts what you can do with them

surprisngly it wasn't engines which was their undoing - What _really_ killed GA for the most part was litigation-happiness in the USA - airframers suffered the death of a billion papercuts because families of people killed in GA crashes sued everyone possibly involved. Even fighting off vexatious litigation is expensive

Now you've done it: Cyber attack targeted Australian brewery 'n' dairy biz Lion

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Don't care: Cooper's is still brewing!

"The biggest fun with beer making is bottling too early and the bottles going off in the middle of the night."

Or in the case of my father and his friends, storage sheds all over the valley doing it.

Ironically enough, within earshot of what's now the Rocketlabs launchpad at Mahia

Red Hot Chili Packets! New submarine cable to land in home of cult Sriracha sauce

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Transpacific

If you want hot cable packets, then it needs to land in La Havana (Habanaro) - but the USA might object


Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2020