* Posts by Angus Wood

73 publicly visible posts • joined 30 Apr 2007


Lester Haines: RIP

Angus Wood

How sad

I really enjoyed his stuff. And only 55 years old, what a shame.

GM crops are good for you and the planet, reckon boffins

Angus Wood

> Benefit for poorer countries offset by the huge fact that they have been genetically altered so the seeds are sterile and so you have to buy your next harvest from people like Monsanto.

This has not only never happened, it never will happen. Even a cursory search would have disproved your point before you posted it. The so-called "terminator" seeds have never been (nor ever will) be on sale.

Secondly, to the general point of saving seeds: people don't do that any more. The world has moved on and we all use Hybrid seeds nowadays because the yield is higher (and yes, that includes the poor African farmer). Your comment betrays your ignorance every part of the issue at hand.

And after all that, it's important to add that if you grow Evil Monsano crops one year then that is all you've done. You're not restricted in any way as to what happens next year. You can go organic, buy from Dow or Synergia or any other seed vendor. Or ask your neighbor for seeds if you want a crap crop.

GCHQ's Twitter move: Wants to be 'accessible', people to 'understand'

Angus Wood
Black Helicopters

Re: Who pays?

> Why the F are they wasting my money on this

Because it's good PR and therefore helps with recruitment.

Sino the times: MSN to pull Chinese portal

Angus Wood

Re: To farewell?

"Verbogeny is one of the pleasurettes of a creatific thinkeriser", said Peter de Silva.

Russia poised to unleash 'Son of Satan' ICBM

Angus Wood

The RS-28 boasts "an array of advanced antimissile countermeasures"

If I recall correctly, this includes the very neat idea of cloaking the missile in a continuously-generated opaque gas shield to defend against directed-energy weapons.

Daisy-chained research spells malware worm hell for power plants and other utilities

Angus Wood

Internet of Things

Looks like we've just gone ahead and made an Internet of Things and are now noticing that poorly secured devices with routable IP addresses and no patching policy isn't a Great Idea(TM)

Jailed hacker 'Guccifer' claims Hillary server gave him spillery

Angus Wood

"Almost as if the server was receiving messages from servers all over the place."

Isn't it more likely that they were roaming clients?

The Devils of DevOps stick it to YOU

Angus Wood

Re: "nice, large projected figures"

> As far as I'm concerned, the faster you go, the less time you have to "make quality the top priority".

I think that perhaps the point could have been made better. The trick is not that you're actually doing work more quickly, but you are delivering smaller packages of work to the business more rapidly so the business gets the benefit of what is in the package much earlier than it would if it was a couple of giant releases each year.

How to overcome objections that stop your enterprise from adopting DevOps

Angus Wood

Re: DevObservation

> For the record: no clear idea what DevOps is meant to be.

A simple summary is that, as Agile is to software development, so DevOps is to Agile end-to-end.

Why? Because the business sees change delivered earlier than it would if it was scrum, scrum, scrum, scrum, test, UAT, release.

Put all your eggs in one basket – and by eggs we mean GPU-heavy apps and by basket, Azure

Angus Wood


I've used the AWS NVidia GPU instances to real-time render OpenGL apps and stream the resultant X framebuffer over the interwebs and have to say it works very well. Not tried Azure but if it's based on the same tech it could be useful.

Assange loses High Court appeal against extradition to Sweden

Angus Wood

I sincerely hope the Americans stay out of this, but I'm not hopeful that they will.

Final insult for Full Tilt as Channel Islands kill its licence

Angus Wood


You say;

>... violating the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, which stops illicit gambling outfits from accepting payments.

The UIGEA doesn't make distinctions between illicit or legitimate gambling sites, it is simply a blanket ban on payment processing for non-USA-domiciled betting. It also has the dodgy distinction of being an act which became law without anyone apart from the sponsor reading the text.

Agency sends contractors' day rates to 800 RBS staff

Angus Wood

"Such cuts of course always mean more work for contractors."

Well, except when they don't, which is quite often.

Nintendo 3DS gets Cloud cover

Angus Wood


I don't know about the other WiFi providers, but The Cloud can pipe specific users down specific pipes (source-based transit provider selection) to allow DS devices only access to specific services rather than general-purpose Internet.

(Disclaimer: I was the original engineer on the back-end of The Cloud but it may have moved on since then)

HTC sues Apple in the UK

Angus Wood

re: How much cheaper

And they've got the market sewn up!

BT on site-blocking: Every case will need a court order

Angus Wood


Newsbin2 does not infringe any copyrights, nor does it link to infringing material. What it does do is scan Usenet binaries groups and create files of NNTP message IDs which one can then put in to a separate downloader program and download those messages from a service like Giganews.

X2 triplex super-chopper in final flight

Angus Wood


There are CAA regulations for all sorts of things, but none that prevent helicopters (single-engine or not) from overflying built-up areas.

Auditor declares FiReControl a 'comprehensive failure'

Angus Wood


While in another comment thread about striking public sector workers the zeitgeist appears to be supportive of the public sector, here is (yet) another good example of why the public sector simply can't be trusted to run important projects. Like it or not this is a recurring theme.

Lulz warns NHS of sick security

Angus Wood

"little girls feasts"

The context is that LulzSec had previously called upon people to donate bone marrow to children.

Mobiles really do fry your brains: JAMA

Angus Wood

@Thomas 18

You have misunderstood things.

Since the spread of mobile phones started at different times in different countries then if mobile phones caused any adverse health effects (they don't) then those effects would cause a correlation between one country's start-time and ill-effects and another countries' start-time and ill-effects. e.g. Since for many years the UK had far higher usage than the USA then any ill effects would be seen first in the UK and then in the USA, human anatomy being a constant and therefore the temporal distance also being a constant. You could then predict (say) when an African nation would see the same ill effects as they started much later and prove that there was not just correlation but causation when your prediction came true.

In the absence of the above (and trust me, lots of people have looked) we can say unequivocally that mobile phones to do not cause ill effects; at least none that show up for 20+ years (the time of GSM adoption)

> (shielding the ear side of the antenna or something)

Err... no. The tower may be on the opposite side of the head, meaning that the phone would have to massively step up it's omnidirectional antenna power output to defeat the shielding and get through. Probably not what you wanted.

I used to laugh a lot at all those muppets who had "radiation shields" on their mobiles, and talk them through the above. Pretty much all of them ripped the "shield" off there and then.

Cisco jump-starts home 'telepresence'

Angus Wood

I've used Cisco's previous "Telepresence" gear

It's actually rather good. It is (was?) boardroom-class stuff, shaped sound with gigantic screens and gigantic bandwidth requirements. Low latency and excellent QOS.

BTW, the back-story to Cisco's push in to video, which has been going on for some time now, is that Cisco need to force up the volume of data transmitted in order to complement (push) their core networking equipment business.

Goldman downgrades Microsoft stock to 'neutral'

Angus Wood

Re: Dave Kurlander's work on MS Surface

Dave Kurlander may have done a lot of work, but both Microsoft and Apple owe a huge debt to Jeff Ham's TIR backscatter work at NYU.


New Euro multicopter aims bitchslap at American X2, V-22

Angus Wood

Re: A Potential Problem?

Breaking a prop such that it intrudes in to the cabin space will take a gigantic cross-wise force which that is something that, if it happens, would only occur as part of a much larger accident. It's just not something that could realistically happen in normal operations, hence why normal propellor aircraft are in widespread use for passenger carriage. Even hitting the ground with the prop when it's running at full-tilt is more likely to deform it in-place (and shock-load the engine) than for it to become a hazard.

Due to their much higher speed, jet turbine and fan blades *are* enclosed, and every jet must pass a test where a blade is deliberately detached by an explosive charge while running at full-speed. It is quite spectacular, see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5-8_Gnbp2JA

MI5 chief: Cyber spying 'relatively straightforward' to beat

Angus Wood

@Tigra 07

> We even publically declare exactly how many nukes we have

That's both normal, expected, required under treaties we've signed and (perhaps counter-intuitively) it enhances our security.

We publicly declare capability (submarine-launched, MIRV, 7500Km range) to execute a counter-city strike on any nation which uses nuclear weapons against us. Critically, that second strike capability is almost completely impossible to defend against.

Are today's developers more creative?

Angus Wood

Plus ca change...

Setting aside the times when dinasours roamed the earth, I'd say that proportionaly there is very little in it. Yes, we can all point to risen legions of point-and-drool cut-'n'-paste programmers with very little in the way of creativity, but there is an equally vast legion of highly talented programmers.

It's simpler to get "in to" programming, ask any bedroom webmaster with his LAMP stack, but by the same measure the amazing advances in all areas of comp sci have enabled new heights of creativity and productivity to be scaled.

Microsoft dumps hilarious comedy duo

Angus Wood

The point of the ads

The point is that Billy Boy comes over as nerdy, uncool but acually quite likeable.

Bet against the bubble - how to head off a subprime crisis

Angus Wood

Fannie and Freddie

A good article, and (capitalist bastard that I am) I'm in agreement with the bulk of it. One thig I'd like to add though is that the USA sub-prime situation was, in some ways, caused by the existience of the quasi-governmental mortgage lenders (Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae).

Because of their implied government-backed status then their cost of borrowing on the markets was much lower than the private sector banks (government backed == safer, lower risk) meaning they could offer better deals to housebuyers who naturally put loads of business their way. Many years of low interest rates and nationwide house price rises meant loads of profits. The private banks cash flowed to the edges of the mortgage markets assisting the spread of sub-prime lending.

Now, that's all fine if the US government meant to do that and had things engineered such that they made oodles of cash from this but that's not the case. The US Treasury doesn't make cash from F+F when things are good but when things are bad (now) is having to provide vast sums of cash to prop them up. Not good for the USA taxpayer.

I addition to creating a method of shorting housing stock, killing the F+F giants will remove an enormous distorting force.

This week's Economist has a more eloquent explanation than the above if anyone wants more information.

McKinnon loses extradition fight

Angus Wood

Farewell Gary, we hardly knew ye

Now off to federal prison you go, destined for the brutal regieme of incarceration with a couple of hours of excersise a day and the ever-present threat of rape and serious violence.

Incidentally, John - the "pentagon hacker" subtitle in most of the McKinnon stories is hardly accurate - millitary interest machines, yes, but they were all in support roles (unclassified mailgates, desktops etc.). Hardly "War Games".

Windfall taxing big oil: how to make the gas crisis worse

Angus Wood

Good article.

Mr Obama wants to be elected, natch, and this will be a popular thing with the voters in the USA. It doesn't have to make sense since almost everyone won't undestand the arguments and, best of all, the long-term damage will be delivered in the form of a continuation of the existing state of affairs rather than a new turn of events.

The perfect crime.

Wikimadness XVII: The Return of Byrne

Angus Wood

There is nothing wrong with shorting stocks, naked or not

Shorting, for those that don't know it is the business if borrowing company stock from someones in exchange for collateral such as cash, bonds, other shares etc. and selling them on the open market. The idea is that you do so, wait a while as the stock goes down and then buy the same number of shares back at the (now) reduced price, return them and get your collateral back. The difference in price is your profit.

Doctor Overstock's beef is against people who sell the stock without doing the "borrowing in exchange for collateral" bit. The reason being that he thinks that people doing so will sell their stock at a lower price than the "unsullied" market and so the price of the stock (which, it's worth repeating is simply the mid-point of the highest registered bid for <x> amount of a stock and the lowest registered offer for <y> amount of stock. x and y have no relation) will drop, depressing the value of the company.

It is true that the SEC have banned shorting of a handful of US financial institutions, and here in the UK the FSA have banned shorting a handful of finacial institutions during any time they are having a rights issue. Opinion is fairly sharply divided between those who think that they're ineffectual idiots and those who think they're childish morons. It's a tough call.

Herr Overshtoker isn't right, and he does need to get over this whole thing.

Remember: You can't sell something unless someone buys it. It takes two parties to perform a transaction, willing and aware. Neither enters in to it unless they belive that they will profit from doing so.

No-one loves someone who profits from misery, but that doesn't change the fact that shorting is perfectly legitimage business.

Wind farm wound down on air traffic fears

Angus Wood


Recall that radar is a send-and-return system, so any blank area would extend radially from that area out to the limits of the system.

I'm not familiar with the geography around that area, but if there is something behind that area they want on radar then it's a Bad Thing.

RADAR or 'radar' BTW?

CERN: LHC to fire first proton-smash ray next month

Angus Wood

And perhaps a Nobel Prize for Prof Hawking

If memory serves me, should the existence of the Higgs Boson be proven by the LHC then Prof Hawking may be up for a nobel prize, which is nice.

Excellent article, BTW, Lewis. I'm left wondering if this has anything to do with the "Henchmen Wanted" craigslist job ad from a few days ago.

Microsoft Mojave 'outs' secret Vista lovers

Angus Wood


First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they get angry with you and then you win.

"They" being MS, you can insert your own "you".

Blank robbers swipe 3,000 'fraud-proof' UK passports

Angus Wood

Not useless at all!

You'd cheerfuly travel from Algeria to Spain, for example, using one of those.

The FDRs of Green explain the gentle art of planet saving

Angus Wood
Thumb Up


A good article. I tend to forgive most journalists for not understanding things like opportunity cost and the Theory of Comparative Advantage, but when you're writing an "experts report" then there is no excuse for not doing your research.

Happy friday, all!

Trousers Brown: Blighty faces 'food security' threat

Angus Wood


"Hypocracy" ? Would that be rule by hippos?

Longing for a "Pedants' Corner" icon...

NASA firms up space shuttle launch manifest

Angus Wood

"Aries, Orin and Dragon" that should be

From 2010 to 2015 SpaceX are contracted to supply NASA with orbiter vehicles for ISS freight using their Dragon and Pegasus[1|9|9Heavy] vehicles.

I had the pleasure of attending a lecture at the Royal Aeronautical Society last week where Elon Musk (started paypal. is a geek, likes rockets, started a space exploration company called SpaceX) talked the audience through the state of the art and answered some _very_ in-depth questions about the design decisions of the Dragon and Pegasus platforms, as well as mentioning that his company has got the tender to replace the space shuttle between 2010 and 2015.

I'd recommend you all check out the RAeS if you like the techie side of space. They put on free evening lectures quite often, all of which are open to all and some of the topics are fascinating ("Developing Hypersonic Single-Stage To Orbit Jet Engines" and "What is needed to permanently sustain life beyond earth?") were the last two I attended.



Software outfit keeps Vulcan airborne

Angus Wood

Terrifying beauty

The Vulcan really is quite a sight when you see it, either on the ground or flying overhead. Subsonic, low level, tasked with attacking targets deep within what was the USSR with a single 1 megaton Blue Steel missile slung underneath... Not a job I'd fancy myself.

They scream "cold war, pre SAM" from every rivet but if you get the chance to see one I'd advise you to take it. As a grown-up seeing one close up for the first time I understood what the words "terrifying beauty" really mean.

CERN declares Large Hadron Collider perfectly safe

Angus Wood

Walter L Wagner is a wingnut with a track record

This fella is a kook who has a track record of taking out court orders to stop the operation of particle accelerators. He's a real doctor (of biology) so he's hardly in a position to comment authoritatively on this subject.

Safely ignore.

God makes you stupid, researchers claim

Angus Wood

Correlation != Causation

Two variables being positively or negatively correlated does not necessarily mean that there is a cause and effect relationship between them. They may be varying in response to another independent variable.

If you drive a Ferrari then you're highly likely to have a very nice house. These variables are correlated but there is no causation.

That the more intelligent a person is the less likey to belive in Yaweh/Allah/Zeus etc, is not in any doubt, many many studies have confimed this both in specific territories (yes, including the USA) and in global surveys. Of course there are exceptions to this, dumb atheists and smart god botherers but they are outliers.

I would personally advance the opinion that there IS a third variable, and that variable is the external pressure of society in the form of "one does what is most conformist in the society you are in because that uses the least energy" which critically, has a feedback effect. Atheism breeds atheism, religiosity breeds religiosity.

Climate supremo deploys knitwear in war on patio heaters

Angus Wood

@Bruce Sinton

[...] The Patio Heater is the most dingbat idea ever created . How much warmth for a patio person in a bit a breeze- bugger all at best. [...]

Given that patio heaters work on radiated heat, the answer is "just as much as if there were not a breeze".

I think patio heaters are great. Very useful and a pleasure to bask beneath during the British Summer. They work extraordinarily well, and turn what would normally be an underused part of one's property in to a delightful place to be.

I certainly do appreciate that they use energy, and hence emit CO2. While some (perhaps most) people decry the wastefulness of these devices I do feel that that is simply because they lack the mental capacity to work out the relative placement of such a device within the overall energy use spectrum of a household.

If you want to change behavior so they're used less then lobby the government to make gas more expensive via a carbon tax. I'll continue to use mine but the plebs and poor people will be priced out of being able to use theirs and society as a whole will emit fewer tonnes of CO2 and at the same time be raising money which can be spent on non-CO2 emitting energy sources.

If you want to make people think the environmentist movement is filled with shrill daily mail readers, please continue as you are.


US nuke boffins smash petaflop barrier with 'Roadrunner'

Angus Wood

Re: Err

[...] They need all that power to check if a nuke is stale or fresh. Isn't there a boffin with a Geiger counter and a slide rule who could figure that one out? I mean if it's 10 megatons or 9.7 it isn't that important. [...]

It's a bit more complex than that. The "buildz yr ownz nuke!!1!" plans on teh intarwebs give the impression that nuclear weapons are quite simple beasts but today they have evolved in to startlingly complex things; following both the "maximum bang for minimum material (weight)" and "maximum bang for added complexity of <foo>" principles.

An example would be the enhanced yeild tricks fission->fusion->fission types where tritium is injected in to the heart of the fission reaction at /just/ the right moment to yeild a fusion reaction which, in turn, dumps enough neutrons out in to a third stage fission explosive - the whole thing timed just right so that first explosion hasn't reached (and destroyed) that final stage.

The age of the weapon isn't necessarily going to decrease it's yeild (although it might) it may be that it fizzles completely, explodes prematurely and therefore has a low yeild, or (worse of all possible worlds) has it's components mature (decay) in to products which are unstable or start to emit lethal levels of neutrons when brought close to each other.

The boffin with the slide rule would be able to say "yep, there is something in there which is radioactive" but little beyond that.

Personally, unpleasant though this subject is, I'd have preferred if the Reliable Replacement Warhead project had got approval. Dial-a-yeild, safe to handle and long lived.

EU begins formal probe into US gambling ban

Angus Wood

Outcomes ARE local

[...]The outcome of gambling within an electronic device within the US is therefore a busted-flush as far as "online" is concerned. It's a gambling device with operational connections outside of the State it's based.[...]

While it is true, as you say, that casino slot machines are x86-based machines (Have a look at Heber and Densitron to name two manufactures of the cores) and it is also true that (some) systems managment is performed from off-site locations (See IGT's web site, they're the gorilla of the industry) it is not true to say that the outcome of the game being played is determined off-site. Each machine seeds a PRNG from a "true" RNG on board and uses that to determine the outcome (reel positions, video poker cards deal etc.) People are quite hot on that particular subject and you'd not get machine approval ("homologation in the parlance) for most juristictions if it were not that way.

There are, or rather were, situations where the outcome was decided off-site, specifically the Fixed-Odds Betting (video roulette being the most popular) machines in UK bookmakers although that's now been superceded by the new machine regulations in the 2005 Gambling Act.

The Moderatrix: Exclusive boudoir snap

Angus Wood


If that is she (and I've no reason to doubt that El Reg is staffed by 2cm high plastic posable toys) then who is that on the bed, and who is taking the photo?

Enquiring minds want to know...

Heathrow 777 crash: Siberian cold to blame?

Angus Wood

@Data check?

The 777 has three, independently written (no communication between the teams) computer systems keeping it in the air. The redendant masters take advice from these and, if there is a disagreement or overly-long delay in presenting the data, discard the suspect input. Scream about the fact, and carry on flying the plane with one unit disabled.

The subsystems themselves (pumps and so on) are all instrumented so that their "I'm doing <foo> at <bar> RPM" or "I'm deflected at <baz> degrees" is independently verified by systems built specifically to detect control system errors.

Far from being terrifying, the equivalent of a BSOD on a modern airliner is expected and designed for.

EU plans to boost organ donor numbers

Angus Wood


I saw an excellent lecture on behavioural economics recently, and the subject of organ donation was examined. The essence of it all was that people will take the default option, regardless of what it is (donate or do not donate).

Given that, why on earth does the UK not move to an opt-out system? It should make no difference at all to the people who do not wish to give organs and would save hundreds of lives.

El Reg celebrates 10th birthday

Angus Wood

Well done, lads

And thanks for the education, enlightenment and entertainment you've given accross the years. 10 more.

US census ditches handhelds for clipboards

Angus Wood

Russian pencil - it's a myth

Sorry kids but the russian pencil thing is an urban myth, and the "space pen" wasn't developed by the government but by a private company, it was handy for it though (and it didn't cost a million dollars).

Snopes, as ever, has the skinny;


Aussie laser-pointer dazzle attacks on airliners: Bad

Angus Wood

I sympathise. Landing is HARD!

If you get hit in the eye by a bright light on approach then you will be uncomfortable and/or spooked. Your concentration will be shot and you've probably missed your place in the checklists. You should do a go-around and retry the approach.

Yes, the machine could probably land itself but the human pilot is there in case it does not. One flight in thousands they'll earn their money for the year by doing so.

Mobile phones global health menace, says top brain surgeon

Angus Wood

A breach of the peace?

Isn't there some legal way one can rap the press over the knuckles with when they publish scare stories like this?