* Posts by Andy france

47 publicly visible posts • joined 29 Jun 2008

Blighty stuffs itself in Galileo airlock and dares Europe to pull the lever

Andy france

Re: EU friends apparantly @ ArrZarr

"You clearly don't seem to understand how GPS works".

Yes they can reduce the accuracy and even push a fake almanac and ephemeris data (I do know quite a bit about how they work) but that impacts all users in the region receiving that civilian signal. (Note, the military one is encrypted and different). But by knobeling the civilian signal they do it for all users except their own military. e.g if the Americans played with GPS to affect the UK it would also affect an American Airlines jet landing in Paris.

What situation are you expecting to be in when the Americans, Russians and Chines are all united in hurting themselves to do us harm?

Andy france

Re: EU friends apparantly @ ArrZarr

"we forget that it is only available as long as the US military thinks it good for them"

That used to be the case but no longer is. I struggle to think of a scenario where the US, Russian and Chinese are all so pissed off with us and chumy with each other that none of them will let their navigation system be used in the UK and the big chunk of the globe that would be impacted by shutting off the commercial signal that reaches the UK.

Andy france

Re: EU friends apparantly @ ArrZarr

"Simples. GPS is American."

And GLONASS is Russian and BeiDou-2 is Chinese. We can use all 3 individually or together. After the UK has left we will still be able to use Galileo too. What is the problem you are trying to solve by throwing money at it?

Andy france

Re: EU friends apparantly @ ArrZarr

"compelling argument of why we need Galileo let alone a UK system"

Here you go. https://ec.europa.eu/growth/content/why-we-need-galileo-0_mt

It and the short PDF on that page is the EU Commissions published reasoning. It's far from compelling. Basically the argument is that global navigation is important (which it is), and ignores the fact that there are 2 and soon to be 3 other global navigation systems that all provide backup for each other.

It basically comes down to their statement "One of the key reasons is precisely that Galileo is European." Which is the least compelling reasoning I have ever seen.

Fog off! No more misty eyes for self-driving cars, declare MIT boffins

Andy france


Having watched the video I would agree with you about the headlights being useless. Sadly given the very short time from the cyclist being visible to the accident I suspect that if I had been driving the outcome would have been no better.

UK mobile customers face inflation-busting price hike

Andy france

Re: Abuse

"£10 per month"

£7 per month from PlusNet mobile will give you 2GB and 3000 minutes of phone per month.

New battery boffinry could 'triple range' of electric vehicles

Andy france

Re: How many battery "breakthroughs" is that this year?

"the horror that was NiCad" ......

NiCad? Pffft ..... in my day we had to get by with a potato and a couple of nails.

Man: Just 18 Bitcoin babies and my home is yours

Andy france

Re: "Today, that single bitcoin is valued upwards of $2,200, Fortune noted in March."

@Finder Keeper ... " I would very much prefer the value of bitcoin to rise due to its increased use in commerce."

That can't happen as Bitcoin "currently" operates due to the block size restricting the number of transactions. Blocks get mined roughly every 10 minutes irrespective of the hash capacity of the mining network (by design). Block size is fixed and transaction size is variable but 2000 transactions per block seems to be an empirical limit. This maxes out the Bitcoin transaction capacity at about 3 transactions a second. Greater usage will mean greater competition for the scarce resource meaning that transactions with out a big transaction fee attached are going to sit around for a log time before getting into a block and becoming valid. Even with a big fee your transaction could still take a long time to be incorporated into a block if demand is high and others are willing to throw even more money at transaction fees to induce miners to include their transaction in a block.

Various proposals are being promoted to address these issues and "forking" Bitcoin into something that scales like a real currency. Till they take effect Bitcoin has all the attributes of a financial speculation and very very few of an actual currency that can be realistically used for commerce.

Andy france

Re: "Today, that single bitcoin is valued upwards of $2,200, Fortune noted in March."

As long as people want to buy Bitcoins the price will continue to go up. And when people want to sell it will go down. Unlike a fiat currency Bitcoin "value" is based solely on peoples desire to own and not on the long term economic prospects of the state issuing the currency. Consequently it is in the best interests of everyone who owns Bitcoins to constantly hype them, point out how good they are and tell you how much the ones they bought have gone up. They desperately need people wanting to buy, because if no one wants to buy what they are holding ceases to have any value.

Ex-Harrods IT man cleared of stealing company issued laptop

Andy france

IT worker?

I'm surprised that an "IT worker" took his laptop to a computer shop rather than just booting Linux from a USB drive and accessing the hard drive to remove his personal information.

Dyson to build electric car that doesn't suck

Andy france

Re: Battery Material Source

Unlike oil the lithium needed for cars will be close to 100% recyclable. There are 230 billion tons of lithium dissolved in sea water. Extraction is viable but currently it's cheaper to mine. The sea water reserve caps the price.

Smart meters: 'Dog's breakfast' that'll only save you 'a tenner' – report

Andy france

Re: Benefits

@Phil Lord ..... "Democracy is not a state but a process; its always going on"

You are quite correct. Just as a party called UKIP was created to get the UK independant from the European Union, you are at liberty to join or form a political party dedicated to being ruled by the EU.

Choose your party name carefully, and be there for the long haul as it might take some time what with general elections 5 years apart. On the plus side if you don't scare the government badly enough to get them to agree to a referendum as an olive branch to stop their party members defecting you might be able to win a parliamentary majority with only 35% of the electorate voting for you. Even with only 35% of the vote, a parliamentary majority would be your mandate for rejoining Europe. Just don't be surprised if lots of people are unhappy about it.

Robots will enable a sustainable grey economy

Andy france

Re: How can a car-based future be long term sustainable?

@AC 'Lithium is an element.'

Yep. It is a element. We use it but don't destroy it. The supply is fine too with an abundance of land deposits around the globe and a further 230 billion tons of it in seawater where it is not terribly hard to extract. We are not going to run out of it.

Seminal game 'Colossal Cave Adventure' released onto GitLab

Andy france

Re: I cheated... [SPOILER ALERT: Look away now]

I had much the same system as you with an IDS 8080 plus Coral compiler and a pair of 8 inch drives. My IDS though was on the rather more spiffy 8085 IDS.

Yeah we all cheated by looking at the binary. It wasn't as if you could find a walkthrough on the internet back in 1980. However I recall actually not needing to cheat to kill the snake as I was at the try everthing stage of desperation.

A year or two later someone at work got a copy of the source code. It was only then that I found out that the final point missing in my otherwise maximum score was obtained by leaving the Spelunker Today magazine in Witts End.

Andy france

Re: still have all the maps i drew in the '80s

I played this in spring 1979 on a Xerox Sigma 6 mainframe and it change my life.

No exaggeration, it really did, mainly because I was playing this game rather than revising for my degree finals.

In retrospect I would do it again, but keep the maps.

Nuh-uh, Google, you WILL hand over emails stored on foreign servers, says US judge

Andy france

Re: Terms of service

This is a similar precedent to US banks back in the late 90's being compelled by the courts to reveal account details of customers in their subsidiaries Swiss banking branches for tax purposes despite that doing so was breaking Swiss federal law. To comply with local laws the Swiss subsidiaries pulled access from their parent firm (not to do so would land them in jail) however the US courts still found the US parent firm to be guilty of contempt of court for not providing the the information and fined them daily.

Local law always has precedence over laws and terms of service in other countries.

Broadband providers almost double prices after deals end

Andy france

Re: It's the 'Introductory' bit that's tricky

Lucky you. I was a PlusNet customer for 12 years and stupidly only worked out how much they were screwing me when my daughter needed broadband and I told her they were OK. I asked for the price she was signed up with, but they gave me the new customers only line. So I left and got an even better deal elsewhere. Perhaps I will return to PlusNet next time ....... if the price is right.

SpaceX: Breach in liquid oxygen tank caused Falcon 9 fireball ... probably

Andy france

Re: too technical for me


Not quite. The first stage of the Saturn V was RP1/LOX with a couple of thousand tons of propellant and this would make a lot of C02,

The comparatively small second and third stages were indeed hydrogen and LOX powered which do as you say just make water vapor. However industrial hyrdrogen is almost always made from steam and burning coal and the byproduct of this reaction this is C02 (electrolysis of water works with no C02 but is too expensive), so the net result is still lots of C02

Watch SpaceX's rocket dramatically detonate, destroying a $200m Facebook satellite

Andy france

Re: cant see much

@boris .... definitely not caused by payload bolts firing as they are captive pneumatics not pyrotechnic. A flash electric fire fed by venting oxygen seems more likely. Though it could even have been something as bizarre as the wrong type of grease being used on the oxygen vent system. LOX is a very unforgiving substance.

'Second Earth' exoplanet found right under our noses – just four light years away

Andy france

Re: Ok to go.

Yeah but don't expect it to be fun. Getting you up to 20% of the speed of light is going to be challenging. Then it's going to take you 20-25 years to get there. And when you arrive you will still be doing 0.2c with no way of decelerating (other than a somewhat cataclysmic impact). So you will zip past at a speed that would take you from earth to the sun in 40 minutes. I can't help but feel that would be a bit of an anticlimax. After that (unless you have opted for the impact) it all gets a bit grim.

Windows 10: Happy with Anniversary Update?

Andy france

Re: Well done for trying to find the good points of Win10 @h4rm0ny

@h4rm0ny ..... yes you can. Just sign out. That said there a multitude of ways you are tracked and profiled on the web. Being signed into MS, Google or whatever doesn't really affect that massively.

BTW - It's actually quite hard for "them" to group together disparate activities with any degree of certainty though arguably they don't really care if you are one person or three.

I have observed they love you to enter "recovery" options to allow you to regain access to a lost or compromised account so perhaps they really do want to resolve you down to one pile of meat across browsers and devices.

Windows 10 pain: Reg man has 75 per cent upgrade failure rate

Andy france

Re: Blessing in disguise?

It's an opportunity but the evidence suggests that only IT people and their extended family even know Linux Mint exists. The chances are that more people will successfully migrate to Windows 10 today than have ever used Mint.

Bezos' Blue Origin's first live Webcast a no-explosion yawnfest

Andy france

Your are quite correct: fuel weight is not a problem for them. They go vertically up, cut off the engine at the arbitrary point where they have sufficient fuel reserve for a landing, carry on rising vertically till their speed drops to zero, then fall back down with aero breaking and a final gentle landing boost close to where they took off. They go up to the height they can comfortably reach, unlike SpaceX who are additionally delivering 120 tons of second stage and payload into a very tightly constrained high altitude and speed trajectory several hundred kilometers down range, all dictated by where they need to be to put the payload into orbit.

Boring SpaceX lobs another sat into orbit without anything blowing up ... zzzzz

Andy france

Re: Poor article

In Delta V's defence the article was factually wrong to say that "The Falcon was landing using only three of its nine engines in a bid to save fuel". Were they to use all 9 engines to land the deceleration would be so fierce it would destroy the rocket which is by then comparatively light due to most of the fuel having been used.

There are two options when landing: using one engine or using three engines. A single engine landing is simpler and safer than a three engine landing but uses more fuel as the rocket is hanging around in the air longer fighting gravity. A three engine landing involves falling like a stone until the last possible instant then firing three engines to decelerate like crazy and come to a halt on the deck, and even then they have to transition to a single engine slightly before landing to stop shooting back up again.

The previous time then landed they had 3 seconds of fuel left.

Microsoft's Windows Phone folly costs it another billion dollars

Andy france

Re: No surprise here

I don't think Microsoft is trying to dump the phone business, rather it's using and neglecting the Lumia brand as a reference design in the hope that OEM's will start making Windows phones without the fear that Microsoft will make it a Lumia only play. This would allow Microsoft to get out of the phone hardware business yet still take a growing share of the phone OS business.

Whether the current tiny trickle of non Lumia Windows phones will actually turn into a flood remains to be seen.

Kill Flash now? Chrome may be about to do just that

Andy france

Re: About to?

Till then set Chrome to ask before running plugins i.e. flash

This option is cunningly hidden under settings/advanced settings/Privacy/Content settings/Unsandboxed plug-in access.

After that you only run flash when you really want to by right clicking the flash and selecting run. Disabling the flash plugin works too but I found my self forgetting to disable it again after visiting one of the very few sites where I tolerate flash.

Blocking ads? Smaller digital publishers are smacked the hardest

Andy france

Re: Who knew ?

Following my previous argument through, by blocking the ads you would be in violation of their Terms and Conditions so they could block your access. It wouldn't bother them either because although it would loose you as a customer they would never have got any income from you, so your value to them is sadly zero. Eventually they go out of business, choose a different way of generating income or more likely end up with a consumer base that accepts the volume of adverts thrown at them as being tolerable return for the value of the site. They can then choose to increase or decrease the impact of the ads which will have an inverse relationship on their number of consumers and get to a happy compromise the gives them revenue and their customers value.

There will however continue to be some sites with no intentional consumers that use click bait to get people onto their site, throw invasive adverts at them and deliver nothing of value, and certainly not what the "bait" promised. Ad blocking seems too lenient for them and the supply of gullible people feeding them is endless

Andy france

Re: Who knew ?

A business is at liberty to choose its source of income whether this is by subscription, paid content or advertising. It also passes the "reasonableness" test that they could impose terms and conditions that prohibited me from accessing their site if I had an add blocker running and they can place limited cookies on my system to verify that ads were not being blocked. I as a customer could then choose to accept those conditions or not use their site. Obviously if I found the level of advertising bandwidth being slung at me to be unacceptable I would have the recourse of no longer using their site. This is no different to classic TV advertising were I will put up with occasional adverts but not suffer a home shopping channel experience.

There is a big caveat: my accepting their terms and conditions of service should place an obligation back on them to take all reasonable measures to prevent said adverts from putting malware onto my system.

Windows 10 build 14342: No more friendly Wi-Fi sharing

Andy france

Re: Good

I'm probably one of the few people who tried to use it. When I'm travelling with the wife I always end up setting the hotel WiFi access up for both of us. Key sharing should in theory have saved me from setting up her access but in practice it took forever for the key to get to her ..... quite possibly because she didn't have network access.

And then there were hotels that restrict the access use of the WiFi password to one MAC address at a time. Best not to share those.

I wont miss is..

Stop resetting your passwords, says UK govt's spy network

Andy france

That would work but mostly they are not that sophisticated and simply compare the new password with that current one that you have to enter as part of the password change function.

Official: Microsoft's 'Get Windows 10' nagware to vanish from PCs in July

Andy france

Re: Linux is good as

I don't think he needs a citation. As you say yourself there are several alternative desktops and the very public distro flame wars make it quite clear that many supporters in one group think some alternatives are fugly.

Similarly no citation is required to support his statement that the general public has largely ignored Linux based PC's and they are the preserve of IT folks albeit with some spill over to friends and family. This should be abundantly clear to all. The big question is why.

I personally believe that this is not because of it being perceived as fugly or any shortcoming of Linux. My observation is that having so many distros to choose between is bewildering for the general public. The arguments for and against each are too technical, bitter and hard for them to follow. They are scared to make the wrong choice so they play safe, follow the crowd and go for Windows. No matter what Microsoft does to alienate its customers the Linux community is managing to offer them a less attractive option.

Andy france

Re: Why July

No taking a pop at you Dwarf, well not much. Just bemused that people feel that someone showing as Anonymous Coward is hiding their identity anymore than any another non validated handle they can spin up in seconds. As to my opinion, I have six PC's in the household that I look after. Three of them are on Windows 10 one on 7 and two on 8.1. Two were very easy to update to 10 and one (a very old notebook that was not eligible for Windows 8 due to screen resolution) was a slight challenge as NX was partially turned off so the "Nagware" didn't at first accept that it could run 10. It always struggled with Windows 7 so moving it to 10 has extended its life. The remaining three PC's will be moved to 10 before July. They all have the system tray icon showing Windows 10 as being available but don't otherwise nag for an update.

Am I a Windows 10 fan? Well it works for me. I see it as Windows transitioning from something that needs tech input to keep it running to a managed appliance. That's a good thing for most people.

Andy france

Re: Why July

To Dwarf

It's good that you are not cowardly publishing as an Anonymous Coward. Just to be clear is Dwarf your first or last name? Lets face it we are all as anonymous here as a throw away email address.

Aluminum-wrapped robbers fail to foil bank

Andy france

Tin foil hat

Hmmmm ... this implies tin foil hats might not actually work either. Yikes!

Sick to death of mighty rocket launches? Avoid these dates

Andy france

It's the insurers who set the odds not the bookies. You would get very long odds on the Russian Soyuz going bang. They have a very safe track record. The Proton however has had a fair share of mishaps though it seems most likely to go wrong around the 10 second mark. After that ... it's all downhill.

Mud sticks: Microsoft, Windows 10 and reputational damage

Andy france

Re: Don't blame users for the UI


So Windows 10 is a commercial disaster and their reputation is forever tarnished.

2016 must be the year of the Linux desktop and it's time for the PC manufacturers to supply Linux PC's.

Can we all finally agree that Linux Mint is the distro they should offer as the alternative to Windows.


Stop! Before you accept that Windows 10 Mobile upgrade, read this

Andy france

I didn't stop

I actively installed the upgrade app and asked to upgrade to Windows 10 Mobile. Given Mr Orlowski's dire warnings you could imagine it's akin to bricking the phone. It's not. It all works really well on my Lumia 640XL, almost as if they had waited pushing it out in a raw DevOps fashion and spent some time testing and fixing bugs.

I haven't seen any bugs in it yet but it seems there are still a few known ones and undoubtedly more still to be discovered. I'm not too worried for now. It's not as if I'm going to have to wait a year (if ever) for a fix to be pushed out by the mobile network operators. I received the first bug fix update this morning.

Look out, Windows Phone 8 users – yes, both of you – here's ... Windows 10 Mobile

Andy france

Re: Can people opt-out?

As others have said you have to opt in. I opted in last night and updated my Lumia 640XL.

Based on the bad press here I was expecting it to be a little raw, but was pleasantly surprised. It's good.

Volkswagen blames emissions cheating on 'chain of errors'

Andy france

Re: These is no such thing as a "Defeat Device"

I stand corrected. Based on this definition there is indeed such a thing as a "defeat device". Thank you.

Andy france

These is no such thing as a "Defeat Device"

I hate people talking about a "defeat device". It almost sounds like some hardware gadget that has been fitted to the car to cheat the tests. In reality what we have is engine management software that rather sensibly manages the engine performance and emissions in a manner most befitting the task at hand. One inevitable side effect is that in situations resembling an emission test the emissions and performance are both very low, but when the driver puts his foot down on the open road the engine management software delivers at the expense of pushing out lots and lots of nasty emissions.

Now imagine that one software team was tasked with developing the high performance section of the code and another team with reducing emissions in the low performance aka. "testing" sections of the code where the engine was seen to be lacking. Has either team done anything "wrong" by not taking into account the big picture? It's so easy to attribute malevolence to what could be incompetence.

TalkTalk downplays extent of breach damage, gives extra details

Andy france

Re: Luhn Check to Retrieve card details

The reason why you don't understand is that you don't understand Luhn codes. The Luhn code is a single digit appended to the number. Luhn codes are intended to catch common typos. They can detect/correct a single digit error or a pair of transposed digits but are not capable of supporting Hollywood style hacking magic.

We suck? No, James Dyson. It is you who suck – Bosch and Siemens

Andy france

Does it matter?

Why should anyone care if a vacuum cleaner is AAAA rated. If you want it to consume less electricity simply use it less. It's not like a fridge that you have to keep switched on.

UK.gov: We want Britannia's mobe-enabled cars to rule the roads

Andy france

Re: Autonomous?

Communications help enormously. Cars can signal their intentions to each other so that they can anticipate what is going to happen before having to deduce it by observation. Imagine the situation where a human driven car not communicating pulls out of a junction directly into the path of an autonomous car. The autonomous car needs to avoid an accident by breaking and possibly changing lane. The instant it decides on this course of action it can signal its neighbours so they can react to the danger at exactly the same time and simultaneously brake or change lane to give the human driver space to be human.

Also consider a line of autonomous cars stopped at a traffic light. When it turns green they could all have agreed to start moving forward together, leaving the human driver at the back of the queue way behind.

IE icon too familiar for Microsoft EU settlement?

Andy france

It doesn't matter anymore

Does is actually matter to Microsoft which browser you use?

Once upon a time it did matter because people though the browser was the killer internet app.

They were wrong: it was search. Google got that one right.

Microsoft can only dislodge Google by building a better search engine. A browser that defaults to their search engine is no longer enough. History shows it never was.

Schneier says he was 'probably wrong' on masked passwords

Andy france

A compromise

If your password is composed entirely of *'s then it doesn't matter one way or the other.

As Gates strides into the future, we wallow in the past

Andy france

He won. Accept it and move on.

Quote :

"Apr. 24, 2008 — Microsoft Corp. today announced third-quarter revenue, operating income and diluted earnings per share of $14.45 billion, $4.41 billion and $0.47, respectively. "

To get really impressed look at:


If you played a computer game and won by that margin, and by only using one life, you would congratulate yourself. Congratulate him for winning. He won.