* Posts by the spectacularly refined chap

963 posts • joined 27 Dec 2008


Mayflower, the AI ship sent to sail from the UK to the US with no humans, made it three days before breaking down

the spectacularly refined chap

It reminds me of too many science fiction dystopias and they never turn out well. This one in particular.

Playmobil crosses the final frontier with enormous, metre-long Enterprise playset

the spectacularly refined chap

Re: uhhmm

In the original series each ship did indeed have it's own emblem, you'd notice occasionally when other ships featured - on the bridge turbolift doors IIRC. By the next generation era the Enterprise emblem had been adopted for Starfleet as a whole.

Amazon says it's all social media's fault for letting fake review schemes thrive

the spectacularly refined chap

Re: Fake reviews?

I've probably only left 20 reviews at Amazon but had one rejected. That was on where the item was not as described (chocolates, only half the weight advertised) and looking at the reviews after I purchased I was far from the first to notice this.

My review commented sure it's a marketplace item but Amazon are aware of the complaints and returns generated. It's fulfilled by Amazon so if they have concerns they can check their own warehouse and see it is not as described. Why are they still allowing this to be sold?

Review rejected but product still on sale. Maybe I should buy it again and sue for fraud when the wrong thing turns up? They can't say they don't know about the issue but don't seem to be interested in getting their own house in order.

China's latest online crackdown targets mean girl online fan clubs that turn toxic

the spectacularly refined chap

Re: "donate money to their idol of choice"

Hardly unique to China. A few years ago a fundraiser was created for Kylie Jenner and exactly the same points were made. People are willing to support some odd causes but if it is their money who are you to say they can't spend it as they will?

Hubble Space Telescope to switch to backup memory module after instrument computer halts

the spectacularly refined chap

I would have assumed the opposite, your slot got lost, you'll have to reschedule if it's still appropriate and can get a new slot. The science comes first which is not equitable and observing time is not fungible, e.g. "You want to look in THAT direction, sorry it's too close to the Sun now" or "That occultation you wanted to observe? Sorry it's already happened now."

BT sues supplier for £72m over exchange gear that allegedly caused wave of ADSL outages

the spectacularly refined chap

The spec and the contract perhaps? If BT asked for steel contacts are the suppliers at fault for providing them? Did they? I don't know, I doubt you do either. It doesn't matter to you because you've made your mind up. I am awaiting details.

What is clear is they have an established relationship. It wouldn't be beyond the realms of possibility the shims were offered simply to keep BT happy, or even to avoid a sueball for what is probably 100x the face value of the contract.

It also dates back to 2005, or possibly even earlier, when BT asked the supplier to modify an existing design. ADSL was in its infancy back then, essentially experimental roll outs. Was ADSL even mentioned?

I don't know. Nor, do I suppose, do you. Unlike you I choose to reserve judgement rather than make knee-jerk reactions about things I don't know about.

the spectacularly refined chap

IDC connections generally result in a gas-tight connection due to deformation of materials and the sheer pressure created at the contact surfaces. I wouldn't expect any issues there regardless of materials simply because there's no scope for anything to get in to cause corrosion. Plain steel is far from a novel material is this particular application.

The article is light on details, to be fair we probably need more details to come out in court. Reading between the lines it sounds as if the issue is not with the IDC connections but the contacts on the opposite side, to disconnect the line and allow a test clip to be attached. BT have one hell of a lot of published specs for all sorts of hardware like this to the point their specs are often used as a shorthand for the electronics industry. For example I'm quite used to referring to CW1308 cable or BT52 relays.

I can't imagine a spec not being drafted for this component, but an assertion that it doesn't conform to that spec is not a headline claim, indeed there is a quote from the BT chap responsible for the spec clearing the connector.

Far to little detail to start apportioning blame, but I would at least consider the premise some BT boss has decided "we slipped up in our procurement, let's try to pin this on the supplier so it doesn't come back on us."

'Welcome to Perth' mirth being milked for all it's worth

the spectacularly refined chap

Re: I am disappoint

Just let the Missus park them. They'll be no issues getting two buses to fit in the length of 1.9617.

We don't know why it's there, we don't know what it does – all we know is that the button makes everything OK again

the spectacularly refined chap

Re: Plotters

It does make sense to me. I'm not familiar with Calcomps but I am with HP and Roland units. I recall many of the HPs in particular had an expansion cartridge available to extend the command set. I suspect this was slightly more than a ROM upgrade since the basic and extended functions were a weird mix - you could render text using the basic command set but even circles and arcs (computed by the plotter rather than the host) needed the cartridge.

Reading between the lines I came to the conclusion it was whatever needed floating point that needed the cartridge. May have been a ROM and additional RAM, may have been a coprocessor in there, but it supplemented the brains of the unit as opposed to re-interpreting the data stream. Maybe Calcomp had something similar, it was described as a "formatter" by the user's after all.

The HP cartridges clipped directly into the plotters but at the clock speeds of the time they certainly could have been cable mounted (c.f. IEEE488). Why mount in under a floor plate? That's a toughy, but it may be pilfer-proofing. Would have been quite pricey back then and if only a minority of jobs needed the extended commands it may go some time before being noticed.

the spectacularly refined chap

We once sold a fully loaded Pentium II (weird slot thing) with all 4 ram slots full, it never booted up the first time, after few reboots it was managing.

I remember encountering something similar perhaps ten years ago, the computer would always need to be reset twice before it would successfully boot. Turned out to be BIOS settings. The user was one of those "experts" who got their knowledge from Computer Shopper or whatever and had over locked the system for huge performance boost. Said system couldn't support the overclock but the BIOS had a failsafe, on the third attempt it would revert back to default settings. My memory is hazy but I don't think it was CPU speed but DRAM settings IIRC.

Revert the settings and it booted first time every time. Of course user now complains system is really sluggish despite the fact it was in reality still running at the same speed it always had.

BT promises firmware update for Mini Whole Home Wi-Fi discs to prevent obsessive Big Tech DNS lookups

the spectacularly refined chap

Re: Ping?

You still need an IP address to ping. You know, the one you get from DNS...

EE and Three mobe mast surveyors might 'upload some virus' to London Tube control centre, TfL told judge

the spectacularly refined chap

The telcos have legal rights to site masts atop third party buildings whether the owners want them or not, subject to statutory compensation. The article does indicate this but is not as explicit as it could be. No agreement from TfL is needed first as a consequence.

'Universal Processor' startup Tachyum unveils full-system Prodigy emulator ahead of sampling later this year

the spectacularly refined chap


There's obviously some marketing/investment hyperbole at play here but it all sounds suspiciously like Transmeta 20 years ago.

They hardly changed the world did they? If it wasn't for their ploy of recruiting big names I'd doubt anyone would remember them now.

Code contributions to GCC no longer have to be assigned to FSF, says compiler body

the spectacularly refined chap

Re: Apple and GPL

I haven't actually consulted the GPL for this since I'm on the phone down the pub, but that sounds suspiciously like the preamble rather than the licence itself. Regardless the circularity of your argument still applies: you are attempting to use what you perceive as a lack of an adequate licence statement as a voidance of that licence. That is a consistent position by itself, but in the absence of ANY licence you automatically have no right to copy the work at all.

the spectacularly refined chap

Re: Apple and GPL

So as far as I can tell if you download the head of GNURadio today, you get a whole load of source code that makes no effective and binding statement as to what license applies, and a gratis but apparently purposeless copy of the GPL.

OK, so read the GPL. It makes clear that you are not required to accept it. It does however point out that in the absence of it or another licence you don't have any permission to copy and redistribute the work.

Copyright law is equally clear. The Berne convention states copyright is automatic and not dependent upon a copyright notice, reservation of rights or grant of limited rights.

Amateurish attempts at sidestepping the licences like that are doomed to fail at a very early stage. The GPL has plenty of flaws and the FSF make plenty of claims I think would be thrown out if they were ever tested, but you can't simultaneously use the the rights granted under a licence while denying the existence of that licence.

UK's BT starts trials of new hollow-core optical fibre networks

the spectacularly refined chap

Re: Frickin' lasers

T1 was twisted pair copper...

The server is down, money is not being made, and you want me to fix what?

the spectacularly refined chap

Re: made a bigwig happy with a mere twiddle of a knob?

Damn... beat me to it.

USB-C levels up and powers up to deliver 240W in upgraded power delivery spec

the spectacularly refined chap

Re: I predict excitement

There is a such a huge design flaw in the UK and EIRE plugs - anyone who walks around without shoes in a house knows - is that the flat plug when upside down causes immense pain.

That is by design and a safety feature. The right angle design and square pins make it impossible to plug a device by yanking the cable. That avoids the flex becoming damaged near the plug. Does make for a trip hazard but less of a fire risk.

the spectacularly refined chap

Re: I predict excitement

Double-insulated does indeed imply 'not earthed', but it MUST still be fused appropriately.

No, the fuse is there to protect the mains flex, not the appliance. If there is no flex (e.g. plug top PSUs and chargers) there is no requirement for a fuse nor is one usually provided.

It's also quite possible for a device to conform to both class I and class II, in which case yes it is both double insulated and earthed. A device I'm working on right now does exactly that. Wooden enclosure and double-insulated construction. However inside there is a florescent lamp ballast and low voltage PSU module. Those are metal cased, not usually live but they are still earthed, even though it would not be a dangerous condition by itself if either case did become live.

Apple is happy to diss the desktop – it knows who's got the most to lose

the spectacularly refined chap

Craig Federighi

Am I the only one that keeps misreading that as Craig Ferengi? Every single time.

Boffins improve on tech that extracts DC power from ambient Wi-Fi

the spectacularly refined chap

Re: Proof of concept

You wouldn't want to use the same frequencies as they aren't optimal for power deliver(and would WRECK everyone nears WiFi, and break power level caps on 2.4 transmissions).

That is exactly what the ISM bands are reserved for: delivery of RF energy. Among the applications I've heard of are microwave welding at power levels a thousand times those of an access point. Unlicensed use of the bands for communication is permitted provided they can tolerate interference from other uses. That's a secondary permission though, so if you have someone doing the welding and the whole neighbourhood's WiFi goes down as a result then tough, the welder has first dibs.

Train operator phlunks phishing test by teasing employees with non-existent COVID bonus

the spectacularly refined chap

Re: But isn't this what (real) criminals would do?

But that's the point: it was an authentic email sent on behalf of the company. Making it look a bit "dodgy" does not change that reality.

the spectacularly refined chap

Re: But isn't this what (real) criminals would do?

But I do understand why the employees who fell for it would be less than thrilled.

But they didn't "fall" for anything. There was an email legitimately sent on behalf of the company promising a bonus. It may have been designed to look like a scam but those facts hold. If your employer says "do this and we'll give you money" are you not entitled to expect that money?

I'm reminded of the episode of Star Trek where a test was designed to see if some robots were alive. They initially appeared to have failed the test up until it was shown they had actually seen past the ruse and ignored it. You don't know the thought processes of the individuals involved so you are left with a simple promise made by whom it purports to be and the consequences of that promise.

Facebook: Nice iOS app of ours you have there, would be a shame if you had to pay for it

the spectacularly refined chap

Me too. But now, if they did introduce a subscription option free of ads and tracking, then my response would be "seriously ? you expect me to trust you with that now ?"

The problem with that is that it divides up the market in an undesirable manner. After all it is the people who are willing to pay who are the most desirable to the advertisers. There is generally no point advertising to freeloaders who refuse to pay for anything.

IBM says it's built the world's first 2nm semiconductor chips

the spectacularly refined chap

Re: Sounds like it is time for a new standard

I was going to propose that since this is the case and they will shortly run out of integers, that they need to have a new measure.

Won't stop, either step down a unit or go decimal. Both have already happened at least once. I remember when at uni fabs would proudly boast of their 0.18μm processes. And the howls of "you cannae break the laws of physics" at the prospect of going beneath 100nm at around the same time for that matter.

Microsoft demotes Calibri from default typeface gig, starts fling with five other fonts

the spectacularly refined chap

Re: Don't forget the users with reading difficulties

Arial has been doing the same thing for years, until the other platforms were generally smart enough to realise "Arial? Oh you mean Helvetica, but you were too cheap..."

Something went wrong but we won't tell you what it is. Now, would you like to take out a premium subscription?

the spectacularly refined chap

It that context, yes, pretty much. Parsing of format specification doesn't daisy chain so the string is passed through without any interpretation. The problem is were the user string is used in place of instead of referenced by the format specification.

the spectacularly refined chap

A lot of these are not resolvable by the app anyway so it is simply a matter of giving a meaningful error which is often trivially easy, to the point that if it hasn't been done I automatically assume the devs don't know what they are doing and the app shouldn't be trusted, regardless of the circumstances in which it was developed. After all

printf ("Error opening file!");

saves approximately zero work over

printf (”Error opening %s: %s", filename, strerror(errno));

To have one floppy failure is unlucky. To have 20 implies evil magic or a very silly user

the spectacularly refined chap

Re: Who is General Failure

To be fair I've fallen foul of something similar, it was something asking you to dial a premium rate number on TV and the terms scrolling by the bottom read

Remember to ask Bill Payer before ringing.

Of course my first thought was "Who is this Mr Payer and why do I need his clearance to dial a particular phone number?” Took longer than I would care to admit to interpret correctly, but to be fair, it was capitalised like that.

UK government opens vaccine floodgates to over-45s, NHS website predictably falls over

the spectacularly refined chap

Re: over 45s - over 50s

There can't be that much difference between the two groups in terms of numbers and willingness to jump straight onto the booking website?

Think children of baby boomers. Someone age 54 now was born 1967. Someone age 49 was born 1972. If the boomers were all born 1945-50 then they were age 17-22 when they had children who are 54 but they were 23-28 for the younger cohort. The second camp is much closer to peak child bearing years, especially in an era where childbirth out of wedlock was still stigmatized. Yes, you can play around with ages and dates to a certain extent but you are always left with a second generation baby boom effect.

State of Iowa approves $17m in budget for Workday project after bid to use coronavirus relief funds was denied

the spectacularly refined chap

Re: Before they write that cheque...Have they spoken with Maine?

Congratulations on not reading the article which references the very same story.

Microsoft welcomes 'raddest' and most 'feature-dense' Kubernetes release to AKS, shows 1.17 the door

the spectacularly refined chap

The release also means the end of life for 1.17, which went to GA in AKS in July 2020 after its upstream release in December 2019.

Not picking on Microsoft specifically here, the schedule is determined by the parent project, but...

What a load of self-serving, egotistical claptrap.

I get it, you're developing Kubernetes, you think it's the best thing since sliced bread, you're excited about the latest features you can add to improve it.

In actual use however, it is one of hundreds of systems that have to be integrated and maintained. I don't have time to keep up with that kind of schedule for just one system. Why should I even try other than to pander to the developer's vanity?

Sorry but that kind of cadence just writes it off for production use. It's nothing more than a toy.

'Imagine' if Virgin Galactic actually did sub-orbital tourism: Firm unveils new chrome job on SpaceShip III

the spectacularly refined chap

Do people want nasally insertable spaceships?

Linus Torvalds issues early Linux Kernel update to fix swapfile SNAFU

the spectacularly refined chap

Re: Double Ungood

Isn't it a munged reference though? If you want emphasis over "ungood" it would would be "plus ungood", at least from my recollection - my copy of Nineteen Eighty-Four is buried by other books in front of it on the shelf and since I'm not completely sure where it is I can't be bothered digging it out. However, I don't recall any bar on plus and negated forms. It's only when you need even more emphasis you add rather than substitute the double, i.e. double-plus ungood is correct NewSpeak.

Intel told by jury to pay $2.18bn to VLSI for ripping off two semiconductor patents

the spectacularly refined chap

Hard to feel much sympathy

Intel had a track record through the 90s of pursuing completely meritless lawsuits against competitors in the knowledge that money spent on the defence couldn't be used on R&D or marketing - remember in the US each party generally pays their own costs. I recall one in particular about the colour of heatsinks thrown out when it was pointed out black is chosen on the basis of physics not branding. They may have continued since then but can't say I've heard of it. It seems Intel are trying to portray the situation as a patent troll but the howls of anguish ring hollow.

However in this case even that assertion doesn't ring true. Forget past histories or VLSI's current status - NXP are a practicing entity. Putting their patent portfolio in a separate shell doesn't strike me as a completely artificial construction.

Raspberry Pi Foundation moves into microcontrollers with the $4 Pi Pico using homegrown silicon

the spectacularly refined chap

Re: 12-bit A/D disappointing

There is always a trade off there, A/D is expensive. You'd be looking at some combination of piss poor sampling rates, "I don't think I'll bother" pricing and low order bits than are more random number generator a than actual resolution. Every few years I find myself shopping for ADCs, the prices of even 12bit @ 1MHz are enough to make you wince when the magic smoke gets loose, they're not general toys you have knocking about for random experiments. If you want a better ADC, spend the £20, £30, £100 on a chip with the right capabilities and wire it up.

Flash in the pan: Raspberry Pi OS is the latest platform to carve out vulnerable tech

the spectacularly refined chap

Re: Attaching a tractor-fed Epson LX-80 dot matrix impact printer was the height of luxury

The FX80 was never the height of luxury, rather it was a "cheap" jack of all trades, but of course any full page printer at all was pretty luxurious in itself - even a 9 pin dot matrix would have been at least £500 of real money in the early 80s. The real luxury option would have been a Diablo 630 for text and/or an HP or Roland pen plotter for colour and graphics. If you thought dot matrices were loud you've never heard the machine gun that is a daisywheel.

the spectacularly refined chap

Re: Attaching a tractor-fed Epson LX-80 dot matrix impact printer was the height of luxury

Probably a DC-37. If it comes to that, there is no such thing as an "HD-50" connector.

No he was right, they're just not members of the D subminiature family. Plastic shells, two rows of pins at 0.05” pitch. Most familiar as the HD50 and HD68 connectors for fast and fast/wide SCSI, although I do recall the parallel port on some SPARCS was HD26 or HD36 (can't remember now). The latter could be confusing since they looked very much like the half pitch centronics connectors also sometimes used, but different enough not to mate together.

Debian 'Bullseye' enters final phase before release as team debates whether it will be last to work on i386 architecture

the spectacularly refined chap

Re: I'm finding this hard to believe...

But does i386 actually support i386 any more? I don't follow Linux particularly closely but I'm sure I remember it actually needed at least a Pentium nowadays. I know even NetBSD now requires at least an FPU in default trim, can't remember if there was anything else bumping it up to at least a 486 off the top of my head.

And it doesn't have to be particularly old to be 32 bit only, just think away from commodity hardware. How long is it since Atom was 64 bit across the board? Or consider the VIA C3/C7 cores, popular in embedded and thin clients?

Pizza and beer night out the window, hours trying to sort issue, then a fresh pair of eyes says 'See, the problem is...'

the spectacularly refined chap

if (not - a - tautology);

this(always, executes);

Usually takes someone an eternity to spot the first time, but forever wise to it afterwards...

This product is terrible. Can you deliver it in 20 years’ time when it becomes popular?

the spectacularly refined chap

My boss did this a few weeks ago and when he realised what he'd done asked one of the girls for some hairspray to shift it. Wouldn't budge, but to be fair it often does work. I pointed out the hand sanitisers dotted about have to be 70%+ booze in order to be effective, to a first approximation that's meths. Came off effortlessly.

Ethical power supplier People's Energy hacked, 250,000 customers' personal info accessed

the spectacularly refined chap

Re: Dates of birth?

As an ID check when the customer phones up, possibly to check entitlement to any government mandated benefits - free/subsidised insulation and that sort of thing.

About $15m in advertising booked to appear on millions of smart TVs was never seen by anyone, says Oracle

the spectacularly refined chap

What are the real CC numbers?

Hmmm, US$27b out of $3.32tr sound more like 0.8% to me, not 0.008%. Which is correct, the numbers or the percentage? The numbers instinctively feel "right" but 0.8% seems very high, it is after all more than typical merchant banking fees.

Microsoft giveth and Microsoft taketh away: Certification renewals to be free ... but annual

the spectacularly refined chap

It could we'll stay like that. My impression of MS certs (indeed most trade certs, Cisco are possibly an exception) is they are more an opportunity to indoctrinate people in the benefits of the product range. I looked at some mock MS exams a while back and their were plenty of questions of the form "What are the benefits of product X version Y over X version Y-1?" Questions like that have little to do with technical competence but everything to do with ensuring you're properly programmed with Microsoft sales patter.

We're not saying this is how SolarWinds was backdoored, but its FTP password 'leaked on GitHub in plaintext'

the spectacularly refined chap

Re: if true...

Under what law?

Sure, it doesn't look good, but you are asserting a criminal offence has been committed. Not your opinion, something in statute law.

Telcos face £100k-a-day fines unless they obey new UK.gov rules on how to deploy Huawei 5G gear in their networks

the spectacularly refined chap

Re: A slippery slope?

It's standard practice for a lot of law covering low level details, and has been for decades if not longer. Pretty much any new bill will have provisions stating "Regulations may:" followed by a list of areas that are permitted to be covered by secondary legislation. Primary legislation simply can't cover a lot of low level details. Typical examples would be regulations that say a specific form must be completed or a call made to a particular number which change every few years, or technical rules for which Parliament is the wrong forum. Do you think MPs are best placed to determine the dimensions and other specifications of a BS1362 UK mains plug for example?

You do get the other approached used occasionally for contentious topics, the act for HS2 comes to mind which specified the entire route within it (the MPs would have it no other way if it goes through their constituency). The resulting bill was 50,000 pages long, i.e. long enough that no one has read it. How is that any better?

Even regulations are not entirely above Parliamentary scrutiny however. Generally they have to be filed with the House of Commons library and only become law a few weeks later. In the interim Parliament is free to review and strike down those regulations if it sees fit. You can bet the opposition parties do review what gets filed, and occasionally they do become the subject of debate. However, the vast, vast majority go through without any comment at all.

I'll give you my passwords if you investigate police corruption, accused missile systems leaker told cops

the spectacularly refined chap

I've had to sign the OSA more times than I recall, never had to go through that rigamarole. You'll be asked to sign it starting work handling stuff even at the Protect (or formally Restricted) levels. Developed vetting is only applied to a subset of jobs at Top Secret clearance level.

Why, yes, you can register an XSS attack as a UK company name. How do we know that? Someone actually did it

the spectacularly refined chap

Re: We have taken immediate steps to mitigate this risk.

Why any system tries to process any data without sanitizing it is beyond me.

Because it's harder than it looks. Its got to the point that if anyone makes it out to be easy I automatically assume they don't know how to do it.

Three points come to mind right away:

What do you mean by "sanitise"? What is potentially hazardous varies on context and sometimes even on library versions or settings. Consider the various forms of regular expression for example. Or that a string safe in SQL may not be in shell.

It is another case where dynamic typing is evil. "Quote all strings, job done" doesn't cut it when you have what should be an integer but it's easy to put a string in its place.

It shouldn't be necessary in any event, it's largely a manifestation of the "let's cobble something together" approach to development and the consequent design of languages and approaches that rise to prominence as a result.

The best approach is architectural, ensuring data and commands simply can't be confused - it tends to be a non-issue in compiled languages for example, but even there you need to be careful when other "languages" are introduced perhaps without considering them as such, e.g. SQL or even REs. Alternate approaches are similarly structural such as parameterised SQL. The final, least preferred option is to render the data inert on use, such as quoted strings in shell.

Linus Torvalds hails 'historic' Linux 5.10 for ditching defunct addressing artefact

the spectacularly refined chap

The historical protected mode worked on segments and came in with the 286. This was retained with the 386 but with paging implemented under the segmentation. With the transition to x86-64 essentially segments no longer exist - it's a flat memory model only and your protection is by page only. Protected segmentation is thus largely redundant, in that you can jump straight from real mode to a flat 64 bit page.

Sure, in practice segment based protection has been gone and this is what the article explains. It's thus a purely historical artifact that has now been phased out.

the spectacularly refined chap

The article is fine, of you had taken more time to read it instead of amazing us all with your encyclopedic knowledge of x86 you might have noticed that.

%fs has no special meaning within x86, it is simply another segment register at the programmer's disposal. The name simply reflects a historic convention in the Linux kernel itself rather than architectural features of the underlying silicon.

The hardware feature at play here is protected mode to ringfence processes access to memory. The very protected mode introduced in, oh, that would have been the 286.

The article doesn't even reference any register by name, so enlighten us all as to how the article is in error.



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