* Posts by SonofRojBlake

126 posts • joined 24 Oct 2008


Boeing wants autonomous flying cabs in US airspace by 2030


Re: Navigating in 3D Space

I've legally flown an aircraft over 60 miles over the Uk without a transponder on multiple occasions. Just saying.

In the '80s, spaceflight sim Elite was nothing short of magic. The annotated source code shows how it was done



Mark Moxon was once editor of the Earth Edition of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, at h2g2.com and later the BBC and later h2g2.com


Mark Moxon was also once editor of the Earth Edition of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy... h2g2.com.

There's only one cure for passive-aggressive Space Invader bosses, and that's more passive aggression


Re: Working to Rule

My best mate rolled into work one day at 0810. His boss called him in and said "We start at 0800."

His response was "I'll see you at the airport on Monday at 0800 then." Their flight was scheduled to leave at 06:00. His extremely rare slightly late arrivals at the office were never brought up again.

NASA to return to the Moon by 2024. One problem with that, says watchdog: All of it



I'm reminded of the aviation joke: People say pigs can't fly - they're wrong. Pigs can fly. What pigs can't do is LAND.

Aww, a cute mini-moon is orbiting Earth right now. But like all good things, it too will abandon us at some point


Re: Vogon survey drone

You lose salt and protein from the matter transference beam, which the peanuts replace. It's the beer that "cushions your system a bit"...

(Mine's the one with the towel in the pocket)

How many times do we have to tell you? A Tesla isn't a self-driving car, say investigators after Apple man's fatal crash


"develop a mechanism or app that would automatically disable any handheld's “driver distracting functions” while in a moving car"

A suggestion obviously made by a bureaucrat with no children. Long car journeys without a handheld distraction? What is this, the fucking 1970s or something? You develop a mechanism that means your gadget doesn't work when my car's moving, all that guarantees is that I'll buy your competitors' gadgets instead.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to save data from a computer that should have died aeons ago


"the 99/4a inherited the 16-bit TMS-9900 processor from the 990 despite having an 8-bit architecture, making it (according to 99/4a guru Mark Wills) "probably the most bodged home computer to ever hit the marketplace"

Worse than the Sinclair QL? 32 bit processor with an 8 bit data bus, that was literally eventually sold with a box sticking out known as the Kludge because they couldn't fit all the necessary hardware on the board?

Larry Tesler cut and pasted from this mortal coil: That thing you just did? He probably invented it


Re: Newton - MessagePad


Worth a punt for the nostalgia.

Less so the boxed mint versions for four hundred quid.

Who needs the A-Team or MacGyver when there's a techie with an SCSI cable?


Re: Frankensolutions

IIRC the problem there was that there WAS no "I'll just draw up the...". They didn't "draw up" anything, unless you count literally marking out a rough outline in chalk on the floor of the engineering workshop.

That incident invented modern modification control procedures. It's disappointing that newer chemical industry graduates I've met have never heard of it.


Re: Flixborough

I'm old enough that my university course went heavily in on Flixborough and other similar incidents. What's really distressing is that I mentioned the name to a recent (<5 years ago) chem eng graduate and they'd literally never heard of it. I felt like telling him to get off my lawn.

I elided the bit where the PHB's request is put through design safety checks so Flixborough doesn't repeat. The issue - *my* issue - is that bit where you get the safe proof-of-concept design working, and that just becomes the production plant.

@EVP - another reason chemical plants look like they do: poor attention to detail in construction contract negotiation, restricted budget and unrealistic timescales. This leads to:

- no money to build a proper 3D model of the plant

- no time to prepare isometric drawings

- a piping contractor who is paid by the number of welds they do when site running pipework.

This can lead to some... "creative" pipe routing, requiring many more bends and supports than you might have imagined are necessary.



Tourist here - chemical engineer, not IT. I can tell you Frankensolutions are distressingly common in the chemical industry. They usually follow a script:

PHB: "Can the plant do X?"

Engineer: "MMmmmm... yes. If we can get some of that stuff over there to here. I'll just draw up the..."

PHB: "Just run the pipe from there to there and see if it works, we (i.e. YOU) can engineer in the elegant solution afterwards."

Engineer: "Well... OK."


Engineer: "It works, kind of, in the temporary configuration, with the valve operated manually instead of by the DCS and with the pipework connection hanging in midair. I've drawn up a design, control philosophy and project plan and a budget for making the alteration permanent. Could you sign here?"

PHB (who only heard the first two words of the previous paragraph): "Good. Can the plant do Y?"

Rinse and repeat until the place looks like a plate of spaghetti and the only people who can remember why have retired.

Boris celebrates taking back control of Brexit Britain's immigration – with unlimited immigration program


Re: Conservatism

I'm not a motorcyclist. If I learned one thing in a month on the major trauma ward of my local hospital, it was "don't buy a motorcycle". I did drive a car from Christchurch to Queenstown though, and I know what you mean.


Re: Conservatism

I've only visited a couple of dozen countries. There are a few I've been to which I have no desire to return - Malta, the USA, Croatia, I've seen all I wish to see of them. Others, I'd happily return to on a regular basis - I love France, for instance, and if I could spend a week there every winter and another every summer life would be sweet.

But there's only one country (other than the UK) that I've ever visited that I've thought "I could live here", and that was NZ. Colour me green.


Re: Conservatism

"misdiagnosed fibromyalgia"

Yeah, my stepsister's got that. It's a horrible disease that strikes without warning every time it looks like she might be required to do something she doesn't want to do. Attacks can come on even in the middle of one of the parties she's at most weeks, out walking one of her dogs etc.. Dreadful business.

Re: IQ - strong contender for most meaningless metric available. (Only got one definitive result and that was from the paid for Mensa admission one - 161. Which means... some statistic about how many other people would have got that score, and literally nothing else. Nobody gives a shit what your IQ is, they're only interested in what you can DO for them. Harsh but true.)


Re: I thought we'd had enough of experts?

Is this a trick question? Because it seems blindingly obvious to me.

OK, I'll bite: because even woefully underpaid *by UK standards*, it may be more than said foreigner can hope to earn back home. Especially if they can secure cheap accommodation by sharing with a large number of their countrymen in a dwelling designed for fewer people. They can then send hard currency home and secure an improved lifestyle for their family.


I thought we'd had enough of experts?

When I was at school in the 1980s, it was already obvious even to a callow youth that science was NOT the career to go into if you wanted a comfortable life. Nevertheless, encouraged by a science teacher who'd never had a job outside of education, full of youthful ignorance and enthusiasm I started a science degree. I switched to engineering after less than a year when it became too obvious to ignore that the average science graduate is valued about as highly as a Tesco checkout operator (judging by the salaries being offered in job ads in the specialist press).

My mistake was staying in engineering after graduation, instead of doing what most of my contemporaries did and taking their technical degree to an accountancy firm. Most of them are retired, I'm looking down the barrel of another ten or fifteen years' work.

My former boss (a PhD polymer chemist) made damn sure none of his kids did science at uni.

My former g/f, a science teacher, once handed me a stack of CVs to filter for her. The job being advertised was lab assistant at a school - a part-time menial position washing glassware, setting out equipment and ordering supplies. Annual take-home pay for a job in the UK in the 2010s was less than £10k. It didn't *require* a qualification beyond GCSE, and barely required that. Most of the applicants had science degrees, several of them had doctorates. Most didn't even get an interview.

Science graduate jobs are already woefully underpaid. Importing qualified foreigners will depress wages further.

Hey GitLab, the 1970s called and want their sexism back: Saleswomen told to wear short skirts, heels and 'step it up'


"I think it's fine to say cocktail casual"

So... specifying that women are to wear a short dress and heels IS fine, as long as you don't state it clearly and distinctly but instead use some euphemistic formulation that people not in the know might misunderstand and misinterpret?

Make your f**kin mind up love.

So you locked your backups away for years, huh? Allow me to introduce my colleagues, Brute, Force and Ignorance


Re: Pop music

There is no way I'd have been able to resist making the label say "Please do not press this button again."

It's been one day since Blighty OK'd Huawei for parts of 5G – and US politicians haven't overreacted at all. Wait, what? Surveillance state commies?


"The electorate haven't consented to any of the above three, nor are they likely to vote for any kind of dependence again."

Indeed. Which is why they will never, EVER be asked again.

Little grouse on the prairie: IBM's AI facial-recognition training dataset gets it in trouble... in Illinois


Re: "using photos of millions of people in Illinois without informing them"

That's not a defense.

"Oh, we haven't got an address to match to that photo? So we can't get permission to use it? Delete it from the database then..." should have been the default.

Clunk, whirr, buzz, whine. Shared office space can be a riot and sounds like one too


British furniture store MFS???

DFS are still extant.

MFI are defunct since 2008.

Who are this MFS of which you speak?

Remember that Sonos speaker you bought a few years back that works perfectly? It's about to be screwed for... reasons


Suggestions please...

... to replace a Sonos Play:One that sits in my kitchen and streams music off the HDD USBd to my wifi router when I tell it to from the app on my phone. I don't need audiophile quality (couldn't hear it over the noise of the dishwasher/oven fan/whatever), don't need "smart" functionality, would like to be able to browse my library from phone/tablet and control what's playing. That's all. Fully aware that there's much more a system COULD do but crucially I don't WANT any more than I have. For this use case I can't see anything else on the market that comes close.

APEX predator? Chinese phone-flinger Vivo teases upcoming concept phone


Does nobody video call?

Facetime/Whatsapp/Skype/whatever? My mother would get withdrawal symptoms if she didn't see her grandson live on her iPad at least a couple of times a week. For that alone a front-facing camera is a must, even if you've never taken a selfie and abhor the very concept.

Eggheads have crunched the numbers and the results are in: It's not just your dignity you lose with e-scooters, life and limb are in peril, too


Re: It's not the riders I'm bothered about

Have you any evidence at all that there's been even one such injury?

No horrific butterfly keys on this keyboard, just you and your big, dumb fingers


Re: Chorded keyboards

I remember these! Specifically, I remember some bloke claiming he could type with the device INSIDE HIS POCKET.

IT consultant who deleted every account on UK company Jet2's domain cops 5 months in jail


Re: I am not an IT worker of any kind...

See? I told you I was shit at this.


I am not an IT worker of any kind...

... I just use the stuff. But this story sounds so ridiculous in so many ways:

First: just who were the "guests" he was trying to get into his room, and how were they intercepted on their way there? Were there bouncers in the hotel or something? I wonder if either of the TWO women who were reported as trying to catch his eye were involved? It all just sounds strange.

Secondly, this super elite hacker used his own laptop, FROM HOME??? Given my aforementioned complete lack of hacking skillz (with a z) even I would know enough to buy a burner laptop and log in from a branch of Starbucks or something.

Really a lot of this sounds like this guy was drunk literally most of the time.

From Soviet to science fiction icon, the weird life of Isaac Asimov 100 years on



Favourite Asimov quote: "If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn't brood. I'd type a little faster."

When is an electrical engineer not an engineer? When Arizona's state regulators decide to play word games


Re: So... is he an engineer?

"So you can be "SonOfRojBlake, Chemical Engineer, CEng MIChemE". Doesn't mean someone else can't be "JoeBloggs, Chemical Engineer"."

Indeed. That was my point - the term "engineer" has been devalued in our culture, in a way that, for instance, "doctor" has not. See Ben Goldacre's joke about "Gillian McKeith, or to give her her full, medical title - Gillian McKeith". Society takes a dim view of charlatans trying to pass off mail-away PhDs from non-accredited institutions as being in some way equivalent to proper doctorates, or Bod forbid actual medical qualifications. Call yourself a "dietician" in the UK without the proper quals and you can expect a swift collar-feel from the authorities (which is why the aforementioned GK and other charlatans bandy about the meaningless and unprotected "nutritionist").

But any yahoo with a spanner can call themselves an "engineer".


So... is he an engineer?

The story begins "Electrical engineer Greg Mills", prejudicing what follows. It does not mention which university awarded his engineering degree, nor which professional body he registered his professional competence with.

(I got my engineering degree from Bradford University, and the Institution of Chemical Engineers awarded my chartership. I *am* an engineer.)

"Arizona offers a path Mills could follow to operate lawfully in the state, but as described in the complaint, the process would be expensive and take years"

Turns out it's cheap and quick to simply award yourself a title, but expensive and time consuming to do the work necessary to deserve it. Who knew?

Would everyone be happy with me simply calling myself a pilot? Or a doctor? Or would some regulation and control over people using titles like that make sense?

Elon Musk gets thumbs up from jury for use of 'pedo guy' in cave diver defamation lawsuit



Yes, they got to choose the jury. It went the other way than what you're implying, though.

From the Guardian: "The jury selection process demonstrated Musk’s fame. Numerous members of the jury pool disclosed business ties to Musk’s various companies, which include Tesla, SpaceX, the Boring Company, Open AI and Neuralink. Four potential jurors were Tesla owners. One was dismissed when he said he could not be objective about the case because he was about to interview for a job with SpaceX, while two others were let go after saying they followed Musk on Twitter and knew the details of the case."

Only one potential juror, an aesthetician, admitted to having strong opinions about billionaires. She was dismissed. Another juror had “negative and positive” opinions about Musk, and he was allowed to remain."

FOUR Tesla owners in the jury pool. And wtf is an "aesthetician"??

Vote rigging, election fixing, ballot stuffing: Just another day in the life of a Register reader


Re: This kind of shenanigans affected comic book history

Hush, now. Jason Todd was his name then.


This kind of shenanigans affected comic book history

Years n years ago (1988) Batman had acquired a second sidekick styled "Robin" after the first had got old and moved on to heroing on his own. Said sidekick was NOT popular with fans, who feared change then as now. A storyline was put together giving the audience the chance to influence the storyline of the comic. The kid was beaten and left for dead by the Joker, and that issue of the comic gave two premium rate phone numbers - one to kill the kid, one to have him live.

He died.

The TOTAL vote was only 10,614, and the "winning" margin was 72 votes. It later emerged that one dude rigged his computer to dial the "kill him" number every couple of minutes for eight hours. That one bloke killed Robin. Probably got him a hefty phone bill, but in 1988 if you were the sort of person who could afford a computer that could make phone calls automatically, you could afford the phone bill. Plus, he's got a good story for life, even if it only impresses nerds.

Is your computer doctor secretly a racist? Two US senators want to find out the truth


Betteridge's law of headlines strikes again

Is the computer doctor secretly racist?


It's classist. (And black people are disproportionately in lower social classes than white because racism, yes, but that wasn't the question).

Absolutely smashing: Musk shows off Tesla's 'bulletproof' low-poly pickup, hilarity ensues



"automakers I think do that so they have a base say, F150 platform that can be offered with a bunch of different engine & cab/load configurations"

... and then create a confusopoly.

See here: https://www.scottadamssays.com/2016/07/13/how-not-to-buy-a-chevy-truck/

All Tesla has to do to succeed is:

(a) offer a relatively limited range of options and

(b) ensure people can actually DRIVE that option and BUY that option.

Questions hang over Gatwick Airport after low level drone near-miss report


Re: Drones

Coughing without due care and attention.


Re: My first thought?

You won't see the videos, in much the same way and for the same reason that you don't see videos of 99.9% of successful base jumps. The people doing it are videoing it for their own personal pleasure, not for the approval of a mass of numpties they'll never meet and aren't trying to impress. I know that to the Youtube/Instagram generation the concept of doing something entirely for your own satisfaction is an alien concept. Base jumpers are, in my experience, thoughtful, methodical, serious-minded men (and it is almost always men), far from the stereotype surfer-dude. They'll allude darkly to jumps they've made but generally admit to very little, because the majority of what they get up to is illegal, and while you may think jumping off buildings is bloody stupid, they're not SO bloody stupid that they'll make evidence publicly available. (A mate showed me footage he shot jumping off a building in Manchester at 3am. He confidently told me there's someone jumping off something tall in Manchester basically every weekend, but you'll never hear about it on the news because the building operators don't want to admit they can't secure their roofs. As long as nobody dies, nobody hears. I don't imagine Manchester is unique in having these people operating basically all the time.)

I'm surprised the vaunted geofencing supposedly standard in off-the-shelf drones didn't stop the DJI from flying where it did. It's well inside the Class D CTR for Gatwick, which starts at ground level.

'Peregrine falcon'-style drone swarms could help defend UK against Gatwick copycat attacks


There's a real asymmetry to the cost and complication of the problem and the solution.

I can buy, online, the parts to build a drone for a few hundred quid. A drone I could preprogram to launch, fly north 1000m, loiter for five minutes, fly west 1000m and ditch in the lake/river/woods/other place nobody will find it. No remote control needed, no GPS needed. Nothing to jam. If the loiter location was over the main runway at ($airport), how long would that put the airport out of action? Or, put another way, how many times would I have to drive by in a pickup and repeat this action with next to no chance of being spotted to bring the airport to a standstill at ($holidaytime)? Hypothetically?

Realistically the only way to combat this is some kind of directional EMP, if such a thing exists. And in any case, against any kind of organised group or even single person doing this you'd be playing wack-a-drone potentially for weeks. The only other thing you could do is some kind of blanket CCTV surveillance of the surrounding areas, but how far out do you go? Drones can fly FAST, which means they can fly far. The perp could launch from a moving vehicle conceivably MILES out from the target loiter point, and the drone could leave said vehicle extremely fast, making your window of opportunity to connect the one with the other a matter of a couple of seconds, if that.

To be honest, I'm amazed nobody has done it already.

The UK's Civil Aviation Authority asked drone orgs to email fliers' data in an Excel spreadsheet


Not a silly question

"Having the registration database tells the CAA who has a drone"

Not even that. It tells them who has registered a drone. Given that you can buy all the parts you need to build one online in many separate transactions from separate computers under different user names and delivered to different addresses, there's no way even in principle to establish who HAS a drone. This is strictly security theatre.

(You coming to the next club night at the Seaview?)

We're late and we're unreliable but we won't invalidate your warranty: We're engineers!


I was a disappointment to my ex's father

I moved into her house, and insisted on having a shower installed (she had only a bath). I paid. This also required the bathroom to be tiled more extensively, for which I also paid - fair enough, I wanted the shower. Her dad said "why didn't you do it yourself". My response ("I didn't do a degree in chemical engineering so that I could tile my own bathroom") did not impress him.

GNU means GNU's Not U: Stallman insists he's still Chief GNUisance while 18 maintainers want him out as leader


Seinfeld reference?

"Stallman seems to be the master of his domain"

So... not a wanker any more?

Online deepfakes double in just nine months, scaring politicians – and fooling the rest of us


Re: I wonder

The more obvious one is you'd like to paste the face of your big-name, impossible-to-insure actor onto the backflipping-out-of-a-thirtieth-floor-window body of your no-name stuntman. They've been doing exactly this with varying degrees of convincingness since at least Jurassic Park (they pasted the girl's face onto the stuntwoman doubling for her when she was hanging down into the kitchen where the raptors were).

Another: you've just shot a movie at enormous expense using a big name highly decorated actor. The last reel of film is in the can (or whatever the digital equivalent of that is), and just as you go into the edit suite it turns out your star has been fiddling with kids his whole career. Do you

(a) hire a different big name actor, remount the shoot and do the whole thing all over again? OR

(b) hire a different big name actor, take a couple of hundred photos of their face, and simply paste it over the performance you already paid for?

Here we go again: US govt tells Facebook to kill end-to-end encryption for the sake of the children


Re: Forget the kiddies

"If however the bullying followed me home and was essentially 24/7 then I doubt I would be here now."

I'm lucky, I'm an adult. It's not a legal requirement for me to use Facebook, so I can simply make the choice not to use it if I don't like what I encounter there.

I feel sorry for all these kids whose parents force them to go online, the way my parents forced me to go to school (where the bullies were).

I would prefer to live in a world where using Facebook and Snapchat and Twitter and Whatsapp and Instagram and (etc. etc.) were a CHOICE, because then kids could simply opt out of that kind of bullying. I can but dream.

When the satellite network has literally gone glacial, it's vital you snow your enemy



"They had two buildings seperated with a laser link"

Freudian. Shurely "*connected* with a [$kind of] link" - or is it?

Lucas Pope: Indie games visionary makes pen-pushing feel like an exciting career choice


"Mike Smith (the Miner Willy games)"

That's Matthew Smith.


Gears of law say Gears of War character Cole Train is not based on ex-American football player


Lenwood Hamilton gets away with what Sam Rubin didn't.

"This guy in front of me is a late-middle aged tall lean black man with a deep voice most famous currently for his role in an action movie as a shaven-headed shadowy authority figure with badass fighting skills and a long black leather coat. So he's... "

If you said Samuel L. Jackson, go to the top of the class. If you said Laurence Fishburne, get roasted on live TV by Jackson and get globally famous as "that racist". Because Laurence Fishburne is the OTHER late-middle aged tall lean black man with a deep voice most famous currently for his role in an action movie as a shaven-headed shadowy authority figure with badass fighting skills and a long black leather coat, and to confuse the two must mean you're a racist, right?

"This video game character is a large-framed black man who doesn't share a name, doesn't share any biographical details and doesn't share a personality presentation with me, but I'm a large framed black man, so they must mean me!".

I mean, nice try.

Margin mugs: A bank paid how much for a 2m Ethernet cable? WTF!


Audiophiles are DISGUSTING

The things they do to audio... eugh.

(c) 2019, Richard Herring. RHLSTP!

IT workers: Speaking truth to douchebags since 1977


Not funny

"She emailed all department heads angrilly, wanting to sack whoever made the change"

... but when she found out it wasn't one of the disposable minions, suddenly it wasn't a sacking offence any more, it was a bit of a larf. Cnut.

As halfwit, would-be dictator buried by UK judges, Spain would like to dig up a very real one


Re: Yes writers, you are fashionably left wing

@jake: He is indeed a damn fine actor. He even has a stage name (you know "Boris" isn't his first name OR the name his friends call him?). And he HAS managed to keep up the facade for decades.

Consider: Johnson's family were well able to afford to pay full fees for little Alexander to attend Eton. They did not pay those fees, because he passed what is often held to be one of the hardest exams in the world, to be a King's Scholar. One of the benefits of that is reduced fees. You can buy a place at Eton, but you can't buy a King's Scholarship.

You can't buy a scholarshiip to study Literae humaniores at Balliol Oxford, either. He won that. This despite school reports complaining of his idleness.

So... applying Ockham's razor, which is the simplest explanation:

1. he is a halfwit who has somehow managed to bluff his way through one of the toughest exams going, and get a 2:1 from one of the world's top universities

2. he is so staggeringly bright that despite documented laziness and general incompetence, when tested on academic brilliance he passes well beyond the top 1%.

If he really were a halfwit, I'd worry a lot less about him. He is lazy, over-entitled, dishonest, lacking in any empathy and entirely out for himself, but "halfwitted" he is definitely not.

The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was getting the plebs to call him "Boris" and making them believe he was a buffoon.



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