* Posts by Chris

138 publicly visible posts • joined 20 Apr 2007


Microsoft buys gene-splicing software unit


That's all we need!

It's bad enough trying to educate the bench scientists that using GUI apps gives you *an* answer just not necessarily *the* answer, but getting MS on board with their marketing machine is going to be disaster with a whole swathe of flawed results and conclusions. In order to get meaningful results you need to understand what the software is doing, but with MS it's going to be nothing more informative than a black box.

I do this full-time and it's all too common to have collaborators (not in the Nazi sense) come to you with data where there is some flaw in the experimental design or application. A nice shiny GUI will not be able to sort the wheat from the chaff in these instances and will lead scientists to incorrect conclusions.

Your everyday scientist cannot cope anymore with the shear volume of data these 'omic analyses are generating these days.

It is a major growth area and I can see why MS are wanting to get into it, but this has the potential to end really badly.... :(

BTW @sleepy each gene often produces multiple proteins and some don't produce any proteins at all, but are still have a function (e.g. ribosomal RNA). The one gene = one protein dogma is no longer true.

Firefox users flip out over sneak MS add-on


Windows 7

I noticed it on the Win7 RC as well. I just assumed it was the usual WIndows crap that is part and parcel with that particular OS (I haven't used Windows since win98). And lo and behold it was!

Smug, moi? Never! ;)

OpenOffice 3.1 ready to lick Microsoft's suite?


Size of spreadsheets?

One big failing (the biggest IMO) of OOo vs MS Office is the number of rows/columns allowed in calc vs excel.

Calc is still stuck at 64K rows whereas Excel 2007 can do ~1M. In the scientific community this is a real problem and OOo need to fix this now as many people are having to use Excel as there is no alternative.

Open Office 3.1 hits Malta, Myanmar and Papua New Guinea


'world processor' [sic]

I didn't realise openoffice had expanded its scope to <voice type="bad guy" volume="high" echo="some">Taking over the world</voice>!

Yes, I know, too much mark-up coding for me today...

Windows 7 might rock up in 2009, says MS veep


Is this the same...

...ready for Christmas as Vista was? i.e. released to the public in January!

Surely we all know that MS is not to be believed on *any* release date until the product is actually on the shelves.

Adobe users imperiled by critical Reader flaw


Re: Why...?

"Why do Linux users want to inflict a closed-source proprietary insecure bug-ridden mess..."

Because the alternatives don't always work and the convenience of having your pdfs viewable directly in Firefox is very convenient. I'll have to investigate foxit, though...

This vulnerability confirms the biggest problem for any OS is closed-source proprietary crap! BTW I *always* switch off javascript in Adobe reader and I *never* miss it.

Acer Ubuntu nettop to get quiet storage switch


Bad incentive

That's a bad incentive for Linux lovers, isn't it?

Why would I want to buy the 8Gb version when I now know that it will be superceeded (IMO) very quickly with a 160Gb HDD?

So, all the Linuxers who know this won't buy it, the early stock won't be depleted and then upped spec won't be available :(

Kudos for Acer for supporting Linux so readily, but like someone else said why not do it across the range...?

UKBA to exchange fingerprints with US

Dead Vulture


"It says that between April and December 2008, the e-Borders system produced more than 10,000 alerts on passengers travelling internationally, leading to more than 920 arrests."

So, 1 in 10 of alerts are arrested, but how many are actually released without charge? i.e. false positives. Come on El Reg, gives us the full details.

DNA database grows faster than forecast


re: mmm

"Just think of the power you would have once you've identified that gene sequence a means you may be a murdered, sequence b may be gay, sequence c pychopath"

Except the NDNAD does not have any sequence information in it. It's just DNA fingerprint data, which is simply a pattern DNA fragments. So knowing which genes do what is not relevant at all.

Microsoft readies IE8 for lift off


Is it...

...available for Linux or OS X...?

Mine's the one with a fox in the pocket.

Microsoft promises 'lessons learned' on IE 8 download day

Gates Horns

Aww diddums....

"Those who should be adopting IE are not listening to Microsoft's outreach. Major organizations like the BBC, CNN and Facebook are not supporting IE 8"

They're like a spoilt child. The best way to annoy them is to ignore them...

I thought the whole point of web 'standards' is that it obviated the need to 'support' individual browsers. MS are still thinking backwards.

Channel 4 fails to open archives to Mac, Linux fans



<bzzt> Wrong!

A small proportion of the licence fee does go to other broadcasters than the BBC, but far from enough to fund them exclusively. That's why they have advertising.

Also, what about DRM'd wmp files, eh? 'Normal' wmps yes but DRM'd ones don't work on Linux without some hackery...

Pentax K-m entry-level digital SLR


re: why not a bridge camera?

Martin you asked: what exactly do you get in a DSLR that you don't get in an FZ28?

Well the main thing is flexibility, as has always been the case with SLRs. With the panasonic you're stuck with the lens it provides whereas with SLRs you have several lenses to suit the subject. The panasonic only starts at 27mm where the pentax is 18mm.

Usually with digital SLRs the biggest difference is that the CCD is much larger than in a compact giving better quality pictures for the same nominal megapixel count.

Plus, shooting in RAW mode is a must-have feature for many as it allows better control of post-processing.

Sony rallies chums round proprietary standard

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nil points

'sony rallies chums round proprietary standard.'

Surely that should be 'sony rallies chums *a*round prop...' I'm not normally this pedantic but come on el reg this is in the heading.

Must try harder

Harvard prof slams US nut allergy hysteria


the irony is

that nuts are actually very healthy. How many americans - and brits - are going to die through eating unhealthy food that is 'safe'?

Brits not turned on by mobile internet


I am

making this comment with my phone! It is nice to get my el reg fix whilst on the bus:-)

Have to agree though that speeds are not great despite having 3.5G

Human rights court rules UK DNA grab illegal


Two fingers to Jacqui

<nelson>Ha ha!</nelson>

Gov beta test for grid-friendly, carbon-saving smart fridges


cable to iceland

im no physicist but i would imagine the loss of power due to resistance in the cable will not make it worthwhile. He we had superconducting cables, them maybe.

Triple data centre capacity without new servers


Call me cynical

but Dell is a hardware supplier so of course running servers warmer will be beneficial - to Dell. As we'll need to buy new hardware to replace the dead stuff.

I'd like to see the hardware failure rates at different temperatures *and* tally that with the cost of replacement hardware versus cooling cost savings. If the replacement hardware cost is less than the savings made in AC costs, then it clearly is beneficial.

Windows internet share drops below 90 per cent

Thumb Up


I like the Pacman you've managed to squeeze into this article. Nice work!

Apple to slash prices by up to 15% on Black Friday?


how about...?

us right pondians? We are pretty cash strapped too.

Microsoft marks Windows' anniversary with Windows 7

Gates Horns

"We stole from Windows 95, XP, and Vista."

...and Apple, Dec, Netscape, Sun, etc. Allegedly...

Michael Crichton dead at 66


A real shame!

I too really enjoyed his books. And although Jurassic Park was a fun film, the book had more science in it to back up the plausibility of cloning dinosaurs. His medical background really shows through in the attention to detail he put in his books.

He will be missed. RIP.

"Its a Unix system. I know this!" ( for the IT angle)

Lords demand DNA database deletions


'commons' sense

thank the lords!!

Why is it we have to depend on them for their common sense instead of that other lot who supposedly represent us?!

Microsoft: Malware for Windows on the rise

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You said:

"To us, the data is evidence that users who use a firewall and anti-virus program and patch both Windows and third-party applications religiously aren't at much more risk than users of other platforms."

How on Earth do you get to that conclusion?! In your report there is no talk on the effect of having a firewall or not, nor do you mention the patch level of the systems discussed. Yet, you think that 3 infections per machine on average over 6 months is no worse than any other OS. Come on, this is complete twaddle!

My three machines (2 linux and one Mac) had no infections over the same period. That's nine infections less than the average. I know which OSes I'm sticking with...

El Reg in Street View drive-by snooping


@Huw Davies

Well we are constantly being told that we are skint, so be glad you're getting a pint at all...

or should that be two-thirds of a pint?

NHS needs to catch up on technology


Crap ideas!

There's no way on Earth that doctors would accept getting emails from their patients, let alone teleconferences...

Who the hell is the Kings Fund anyway? Are they supported by EDS or MS?

I'm all for technology, but only if it's appropriate to the need. The NHS needs to spend money on the basics and life-saving equipment first before wasting billions on stupid procurement projects. My wife works for the NHS and she only got a networked desktop PC (shared between 3/4 people) this summer!!!!

Becta says Web 2.0 motivates schoolkids

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two words

band wagon

Nowhere does it talk about the benefit to the kids.

MS trains eye on supercomputing with HPC Server 2008



At $475 *per node* MS has a lot of persuading to do. We're currently running CentOS/Sun Grid Engine on 30+ nodes, which works out $15k cheaper!

It may sell on all-in-one solutions like the Cray, but with bespoke clusters they're going to struggle. I doubt Windows HPC has the scalability and flexibility of Linux-based systems.

Apple grabs double-digit US laptop marketshare



...that netbooks don't seem to be popular across the pond. Here, you see them everywhere including Toys 'R Us and Currys.

Maybe it's just a reflection of the importance of the enterprise market and that it takes time for that market to respond.

Sky drops download limit and tops satisfaction poll


Is O2 ad right?

Last night I saw an O2 ad saying that they were top for customer satisfaction for their broadband. Was that a different survey?

Cray, Intel, and Microsoft birth baby supercomputer

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Cray have gone Windows all the way...

You can't even window-shop without IE... (try customising a purchase)

That really takes the piss. A formerly high-end computer manufacturer no longer allowing *nix using people to buy from them....

DNA database costs soar


Re: easy


1. it's chromosome not chromosone

2. what species are you? I /only/ have 23 chromosomes...

3. your table would allow nameless and addressless samples. Not very useful for knocking on the door at 4am...

4. I've no idea exactly how it's done, but DNA matching is not broken down by chromosome and nor is it a case of simple string matching

5. I doubt I'd use MySQL for this...

can we have our £2mil back please...

Internet Explorer - now with 35% less FAIL


Is it available...

for the Mac or on Linux?

No? Oh well, better luck next time...

Lag log leaks - Home Office contractor loses entire prison population

Paris Hilton

Breach of contract...

Is that really as far as Ms Smith will go? FFS heads should roll for this, esp. after all the previous cock-ups. Prison even. This should *NOT* still be happening. The question is not how was the data lost, but how on Earth was the data accessed in the first place. Contractors should not have unfettered access to this kind of data without a very, very good reason.

Like others have said, this is confidential data that's been lost. In any other business you'd be out the door with your p45 in your hand faster than you can say, 'Paris Hilton.'

This governement take the absolute piss and Gordon will be out after the next (soon to be lost) by-election and Labour soon after, I hope!

Red Hat hack prompts critical OpenSSH update

Gates Horns

re: How many distros...

You seem to forget that MS had it's servers hacked too and more than once. For at least one of the hacks MS wasn't sure how long it had gone for.


And how many times do you think it's happened and they told nobody? In OSS everyone finds out so you can't hide behind your false smiles.

BT seals free Digital Vault


re: Sounds like blackmail to me

Are you seriously saying that you should email yourself everything you want to back up in 10mb chunks? That's totally unworkable.

Best off using the Gspace Firefox add-on, which accesses your Gmail space in a more sensible manner. There's 7Gb of it available now for free so it's even better than the BT free option ever was.

Russian push into Georgia could knock Nasa off ISS


@James Monnett

I won't add anything to the what the others who backed me up have said apart from this.

There are plenty of dictators/autocrats around the world who are treating their populace abhorrently (zimbabwe, burma, china, etc), but strangely the US has no interest in getting rid of these tyrants. I wonder why? Oh yes, they don't have any oil and the US won't gain any $$ from the regime change.

Oh and BTW 'regime change' is illegal under international law. The WMD issue (as we all now know and many of us guessed then) was a smoke screen for the US and UK to enter Iraq illegally and divvy up the loot!

In hindsight, this invasion was not a 'good thing' regardless of the colour of your glasses. Ask the average Iraqi whether life is better now or before the invasion and you won't get a clear cut answer. Before, they knew who the enemy was, now it's not so obvious. In the five years since the invasion nearly 100,000 Iraqi civilians have died. In my book this does not sit well with 'the end justifies the means'!

Also, just to make it clear, I am *not* supporting Saddam or the Taleban or any regime that mistreats its people. They were and are evil and we should do everything we can to stop them, but within the law. We cannot invade countries willy-nilly just because we don't like the president/leader.


Chickens coming home to roost?

Clearly a case of the US's foreign policy coming back to bite them in arse now!

How on Earth can they even consider complaining about Russia's actions when they have been trampling all over 'sovereign' countries for their own gains/agendas?!

The US really is the spoilt brat of the world...

US judge decrees open source licenses valid



This is brilliant news. Now all proprietary vendors need to look carefully at where their code has come from.

The fact that copyright law has been breached by these infringements gives GPL et al much sharper teeth >-)

US judge says University can ignore Christian course credits


Happy or Sad?

I'm not sure whether I should be happy or sad about this judgement.

I'm happy because the right decision was made.

I'm sad that this case even got to court in the first place.

In a healthy and open society this would have been laughed out of court, but in the 'states they are too afraid that they might offend the idiots...

Mine's the one with 'unbeliever' written on the back.

Dell thinks young and colorful with business notebook refresh

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Re: Screen aspect ratio

Couldn't agree more Peter...

On a computer you need more height in order read documents, spreadsheets, web pages or do coding without scrolling as often. Width is not so useful (!).

On my set-up I'd like to have my 4:3 screens in portrait mode, but it's not possible with two screens :(

Aussie cops reopen 7,000 DNA convictions


valuable lesson for those in charge

It just goes to show that the (theorectical) 1billion to 1 chance of a random match of two DNA samples means nothing when you take into account human/technical error.

The judiciary and government need to look very hard indeed at what weight is given to DNA evidence.

I just wonder what would have happened to the guy had the police not re-tested the sample before the case?

Firefox sweeps away carpet bombing bug


Re: Here we go again

"I'm sick and bloody tired of Firefox updates, I'm seriously considering going back to Internet Explorer."

Eh?! You mean, you'd rather use an insecure browser because it bothers you less? That's just stupid.

How hard is it to click two buttons and wait for Firefox to restart itself and you're back exactly where you were before, only safer? Answer: not very.

Intel bets millions on speedy DNA sequencing chips



...is not dead (sadly)!

Just because it may be technically possible to sequence an individual's genome in the near future it does not mean we know their fate.

We (scientists) still understand very little about the (human) genome and when it comes down to understanding how all diseases/traits link to certain genes we know even less. We are a long way from GATTACA, but the government is trying hard to get there despite the science >-|

@Stuart Halliday

Forensic DNA matches only look for 'markers' that are found on DNA. The patterns of these markers are sufficiently diverse to be able to differentiate between two individuals with a probability you quote. This is a *theoretical* measure. In practise no-one really knows what the true probability is...

BTW it's great to see someone mention bioinformatics here. It is the future of science, don't you know ;)


Industry Standard

Sanger sequencing is on the way out as the current 'Next Generation Sequencing' systems (by Illumina, 454 Life Sciences and ABI) are far quicker with equivalent accuracy and at a fraction of the cost.

The sequencing of the James Watson genome, recently publically release (http://jimwatsonsequence.cshl.edu), was performed using one of the NGS systems.

The current problems we're having with these technologies is the amount data they produce: terabytes of raw data and tens of gigabytes of processed data for each run per machine. With runs taking 3-4 days each it mounts up quickly...

It'll be interesting to see what improvements this new method will bring.

Ubuntu trumpets aromatic pistou of borage



You may not get to the car, not due to lack of strength, but becasue you've arrested for attempting to commit a DUI.

You may not like the food, but you will get pissed on that menu...!

Homer Simpson's email address hacked



people not to add fictitious characters to their buddy lists!

Criminal record checks could hit over 14 million people


Eugenics anyone?

The obvious next step is to stop these filthy pedos from having contact with their own off-spring. Therefore, CRB all prospective parents and take their children into care if they don't pass.

What the fuck is going wrong with this country FFS!? Not only was the government content into dragging us into an illegal war we didn't want and thereby making us a target for revenge attacks, but now (on several fronts) they seem to want to criminalise everyone "just in case".

I'm still the same person I was pre-9/11, I have been found guilty of no crimes and I consider myself to be of no threat to anyone. So why is it I now feel that if I were to have a brush with the law in any shape or form I'm going to the run the risk of being found 'on a list' and that being treated as 'evidence', before any material evidence is investigated.

How do I get off this 'ride'? I'm not enjoying it anymore...

The only hope I have is that the IT implementations of all these UK.gov plans will be so poor that they will become unusable.

MediaMax/Linkup falls out of the cloud


Oh great...

So an already shaky set-up is going to be even more unusable with all the customers trying to retrieve terabytes of data before August. Good luck to them...

Plus, what guarantees do the customers have the disused disks won't end up in some Nigerian stockpile primed for ID theft...