* Posts by Duncan Macdonald

934 posts • joined 20 Mar 2009


As Google sets burial date for legacy Chrome Extensions, fears for ad-blockers grow

Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

Linux in a VM running from a (virtual) Live CD

For really bad sites (at times that seems like 90% of them!! ) I use a Linux Live CD (or DVD) running in a VM with no other storage. Whenever the VM is closed (virtual power off) all the downloaded crap is discarded with no damage to the system it is running on.

Catch of the day... for Google, anyway: Transatlantic Cornwall cable hauled ashore

Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

Better comms for Skynet

After all Terminator wants good connections.

US Air Force chief software officer quits after launching Hellfire missile of a LinkedIn post at his former bosses

Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

Re: So true...

I was once in the opposite position - along with my normal technical job I was put in charge of the group of contractors running an ICL mainframe. This mainframe was being wound down as its workload was transferred to a group of Unix systems.

As my knowledge of the mainframe and its software was minimal and had no chance of getting up to a competent level in any reasonable time, I took the decision to leave all the technical matters to the contractors and told them to see me if they needed administrative cover beyond their own authority level. This arrangement worked well until the company finally disposed of the ICL mainframe. (If I remember correctly it took me about 10 minutes a month to approve timesheets and that was about it.)

Google is designing its own Arm-based processors for 2023 Chromebooks – report

Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

Size and cooling

Given that this is designed for tablets and laptops (not phones), the chip could easily be designed for a higher peak power draw as the larger format allows for better cooling. A configuration with 4x Cortex X2, 4 Cortex-A510 cores and Mali G710 graphics would be much more powerful than the current Qualcom 888+ and would be usable in a tablet or laptop with a larger heavier cooling system than is possible in a smartphone. (For lighter loads (eg watching YouTube) the A510 cores would easily be powerful enough - the A510 is about as powerful as the A72.)

If Google sticks to stock ARM cores then the 2023 launch date should be easy to meet.

Windows 11 will roll out from October 5 as Microsoft hypes new hardware

Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

Easy - disable Secure Boot

Windows 11 has Secure Boot as one of its requirements. Windows 10 does not care.

If you disable Secure Boot in the BIOS then at least the first few rounds of Windows Update should not try to downgrade your system to Windows 11.

(M$ may find too many people use this escape route and remove the Secure Boot requirement sometime in the future.)

Icon for what should happen to the M$ staff who keep tinkering with the UI rather than trying to fix the myriad of bugs in every windows release. ========>

Bonkers rocket launch sees craft slip sideways, barely climb and tear up terrain

Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

Re: Who was in charge?

The range safety officer probably saw that the rocket was still moving away from land so let it continue rather than detonating it while it was still close to the ground. As the guidance system was still able to get the craft towards a safe area there was no immediate need to destroy it.

Good recovery by the guidance system - compare this failure with many where the rocket turned upside down or fell on its side.

Start or Please Stop? Power users mourn features lost in Windows 11 'simplification'

Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

Easy way to block Windows 11 upgrade

When Windows Update tries to force people to Win 11, an easy way to prevent it is to disable Secure Boot in the BIOS - Windows 10 does not care if it is enabled or not so disabling it seems to have no effect on Win 10.

In 2006, Amazon debuted EC2. 15 years on, HashiCorp says firms blowing their cloud budgets is all part of the fun

Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

Most uses of "The Cloud" should not happen

As I have stated before :-

Given the costs of cloud services vs the cost of own hardware there are only a few cases where use of the cloud is a good idea

For almost all sustained workloads it is cheaper to use your own kit rather than rent services from a cloud provider.

Good reasons for using the cloud

1) Short term peak (under 3 months)

2) Insufficient internet bandwidth at own premises

3) Keeping development and testing well away from production

4) Temporary substitute for unavailable systems (eg after a fire)

Reasons for NOT using a cloud

1) Cost - in under 3 years (under 1 year in many cases) running the job on own hardware will be cheaper than the cloud price

2) Legal constraints - any company in the EU that allows personal data to be on a cloud controlled by US firms is in danger of massive fines due to the EU GDPR and the US CLOUD act.

3) Data security - if the access to the cloud application is not set correctly then massive data breaches are all too easy - this again raises the potential of nasty fines to companies that trade in the EU due to GDPR. Data breaches on own kit behind a firewall are usually due to an attack (rather than the stupidity that has left so many Amazon storage buckets with world access).

4) Lock in to one cloud supplier. It is far too easy to embed implicit assumptions about the available facilities into applications resulting (for example) in an application that works on AWS but needs extensive rework to run on Azure.

PLEASE before committing a job to "the cloud" price the costs of own kit vs cloud kit over the expected timeframe. Include the costs of 2,3,and 4 above in the analysis before committing to the cloud.

Icon for directors looking at the unexpected drop in profits due to cloud costs ===>

China orders annual security reviews for all critical information infrastructure operators

Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

Unusual - a bit of common sense from governments

And in the case of China there is even a fairly good chance of the requirements being adhered to as the government of China has shown itself willing to hurt the big bosses not just the underlings when a company goes against its wishes.

Scientists reckon eliminating COVID-19 will be easier than polio, harder than smallpox – just buckle in for a wait

Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

Fat chance

With the number of countries whose health systems for the poor are pathetic (eg India) and the number of countries with ongoing conflicts, the chance of eliminating the disease are near zero.

Unlike polio and smallpox, the people who recover from covid-19 do not provide permanent visual reminders of the disease - no pockmarked faces or paralysed people. The richer people in places like India can protect themselves and if some of the poor die that does not bother them.

Russian Arm SoC now shipping in Russian PCs running Russian Linux

Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

Re: ambition comes at a price on the desktop

Teams (and videoconferencing in general) is hardly a requirement for most office duties (after all people managed quite well without it up to the early 2000's).

Some managerial types might find videoconferencing to be a large benefit - but for most office users email and telephone suffice. Look at a large civil service office - how many of them need to use conferencing facilities beyond email CC for their daily job.

Right to repair shouldn't exist – not because it's wrong but because it's so obviously right

Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

Test gear, wages and item costs

With a modern appliance like a television, the test equipment required to locate a defective component is so expensive that it is uneconomic for even the largest of companies to own such equipment. (Often it is uneconomic even for the manufacturer - if a module fails functional test then replacing the module is cheaper than replacing the defective component.)

I recently repaired a PSU (dried out capacitors that needed replacing) and a dimmer switch (blown TRIAC) - as a hobbyist who is retired I did not need to account for my time - however done commercially the wages cost would have far outweighed the cost of a new PSU and dimmer switch.

Parts cost also needs to be considered - when a manufacturer buys a million of a type of component the price per component is a minute fraction of the price to buy an individual one of those components.

Modern equipment with surface mounted components in very close proximity requires special tools and a steady hand to be able to remove and replace a component without disturbing adjacent components or shorting tracks spaced less than 1mm apart. As a result even where the faulty component is identified and a replacement component is readily available it is likely to be cheaper to replace a module.

Unfortunately the days when you could repair an electronic device just using an AVO and a soldering iron are long gone

Europe mulls anonymous crypto-wallet ban, rules to make transfers more traceable

Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

Heaven forbid

That ordinary citizens should be able to hide their wealth or income - that is a privilege restricted to the very rich and to the powerful.

The main objection of governments to secretive transfers of money is that they may miss out on taxing it.

Windows 11: What we like and don't like about Microsoft's operating system so far

Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

Re: Where's the "Disable All Telemetry" button?

It is called the power off switch.!!!

Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

Re: CPU Requirements - easy way to prevent Windows 11

As Windows 11 requires Secure Boot to install, an easy way to stop it from installing is to go into the BIOS and disable Secure Boot. This has no effect on existing Windows 10 systems so it is a simple fix.

Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

Re: Wasting the Time and Money of Every User - Classic Shell

Classic Shell has been forked as Open Shell. Open Shell is basically the same as Classic Shell- the original developer of Classic Shell got tired of supporting it and the Open Shell was forked from it with his blessing.

Nuclear cloud: UK's reactor cleanup crew awards Softcat reseller deal for Microsoft licences, Azure services

Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

Re: Simple way to make Magnox/AGR reactors and their spent fuel safe

Toxic - yes but the long life isotopes are less of a problem than materials such as mercury that will remain toxic for ever. Having the materials inside 20 feet of waterproof concrete in either a deep mine (1000 feet down) on the UK mainland or on an uninhabited island 100 feet down is enough to keep the human exposure below that experienced by people in many parts of Cornwall. (The granite rocks that make up part of Cornwall have small amounts of Uranium in them.)

Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

Simple way to make Magnox/AGR reactors and their spent fuel safe

Once the fuel rods have been removed, fill the whole of the reactor with concrete and surround the reactor with a further 20 feet of concrete then use bulldozers to create a small hill over the solid concrete lump. The bill per reactor should be well under £100 million using this approach.

As for the spent fuel rods, after 20 years in a cooling pond their heat production is low. They can be safely embedded in waterproof concrete in a deep mine (UK mainland) or a shallow excavation (100 ft deep) (uninhabited island off the coast of the UK). Either way if the fuel rods are encased in 20 feet of concrete or more then the chance of significant release of radioactive material is effectively zero.

This would leave a small artificial hill at the site of each reactor but this is a good exchange for reducing the total bill by over £100 billion.

(Using the Roman concrete formulation with volcanic ash and saltwater can produce a concrete that resists seawater for over 1000 years.)

LibreOffice 7.2 release candidate reveals effort to be Microsoft-compatible

Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

Use early Microsoft formats where possible for interchange

If you are using LibreOffice and want to send a document or spreadsheet to another person where you do not know what he/she is using then the best bet is to send it in old Microsoft formats (Word 97 for documents, Excel 97 for spreadsheets). All versions of MS office (and LibreOffice/OpenOffice) seem to be able to read these formats without corruption - this is not always true for later formats.

Euro space boffins hatch comms satellite hijack plan to save Earth from extinction

Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

Re: Use nuke warheads

As the approach speed could easily be in excess of 20km/sec a penetrating warhead is unlikely to survive. As a deflection of only 20kph is needed (assuming one month before earth impact) a 1km distance should still allow enough surface vaporization to cause the required change in the asteroids course. If multiple rockets are sent then arranging them to be about 6 hours apart would allow enough time for ground based radar to see if further deflection was needed after each blast - if the asteroid was on a safe course then the remaining warheads could be remotely disarmed.

Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

Use nuke warheads

A 1 megaton nuke weighs less than these comms satellites - fitted with proximity radar to explode 1 km from the target asteroid (or comet) would cause sufficient path change if only one reached the target 1 month or more before impact. (A 20kph velocity change would suffice at 1 month before impact - a 1MT bomb detonated 1km away should provide more than enough of a shove.)

Appropriate icon ===========>

Researchers warn of unpatched remote code execution flaws in Schneider Electric industrial gear

Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

air gap - Air Gap - AIR GAP

Any industrial control network should NEVER be connected to the internet unless it is unavoidable no matter what any idiotic senior managers want.

Most industrial control systems were designed in the days when their security depended on there being no access outside the plant being controlled. This resulted in the majority of the controllers having virtually no internal security measures - the assumed air gap was their security.

(If there is a need for control over the internet (eg for an unmanned pumping station) then the communication link should be via a firewall at the remote unit that only allows a few (preferably one) PC to exercise the control.)

Icon for the people who blindly connect industrial control systems to the internet ==========>

SteelSeries Apex Pro plays both sides of the mechanical keyboard fence – and wins

Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

Good non-clicky soft keyboard preferred

At the age of 67, millisecond delays in key activation do not matter, quiet operation with low activation pressure and travel are preferred for comfort. Simple white backlight to make the keys easy to read without distracting from the content on the display is also desired. The money spent on bling, I would prefer to leave in my pocket.

(In my youth I used what must have been one of the worst mechanical keyboards ever devised on an ASR33 teletype - the activation pressure was well over 1 pound per key!! The nice soft keyboard that came with a VT220 (the LK201) was still one of the best keyboards that I have ever used. (The LK201 also set the keyboard layout that has been used ever since in desktop PCs.))

Openreach to UK businesses: Switch is about to hit the fan. Prepare for withdrawal of the copper-based phone network now or risk disruption

Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

Re: I don't understand

BT just want the money - they do not care about the lives lost or ruined because their wonderful new phone service does not work without mains power.

USA's efforts to stop relying on Russian-built rocket engines derailed by issues with Blue Origin's BE-4

Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

Use Raptor instead ?

If asked nicely then SpaceX would probably sell Raptor engines to ULA for only $10million each (a nice 900% markup on the production cost of $1million each!!) .

Icon for Bezo's head if the ULA used Raptor instead of BE-4 ===============>

Systemd 249 release candidate includes better support for immutable OSes and provisioning images

Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

Android and small devices

It is notable that one of the biggest users of Linux - Android does NOT use systemd. Google has rightly decided that systemd is unsuitable for prime time use in phones and tablets.

Small devices (eg media players and IoT devices) do not normally use systemd due to it needing far more resources (ROM,RAM and CPU time) than a simple init based system.

My own opinion - systemd is part 2 of the M$ "Embrace, Extend, Extinguish" method. I wonder how much M$ is paying the systemd team.

Icon for what should happen to systemd and its developers ========>

Inventor of the graphite anode – key Li-ion battery tech – says he can now charge an electric car in 10 minutes

Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

Re: different perspective.

If like many in the UK you have no private parking then charging at home is not an option.

Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

Re: Solution desperately seeking problem

If you already have a car then swapping it for an EV is unlikely to be economic. Look at the price of reasonable EVs then see how many years of lower fuel and maintenance costs are needed to break even (do not forget to include in interest costs on the buying of the EV).

The cheapest halfway decent electric car is the SEAT Mii electric with a basic price of just over £20k.

The average running cost for a car in the UK (fuel, maintenance, car tax and insurance) is estimated to be approximately £2k. Even if an electric car had zero running costs it would still take TEN YEARS to break even. Given actual costs (electricity,insurance and maintenance (including a battery swap as batteries are unlikely to last ten years)) and the break even point will probably exceed 15 years.

Add to the above the problem that there will not be enough charging points, buying an EV seems to be a mugs game.

Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

Re: A power station at each garage ?

The only medium scale generators (1-10MW) that are readily available are diesel powered. (There are some gas turbine units but even 10MW is below the economic size for a gas turbine generator.)

Given the above, a generator in a garage to provide the power will be a diesel one.

People unable to charge their vehicles at home (anyone without private off street parking) would need to charge at a garage. Far more charging points would be needed compared to petrol/diesel pumps - a full charge on a petrol car takes under 3 minutes vs 10 minutes with a 450kW charger and over 2 hours for an existing high rate charger (30kW).

At a motorway service station, the number of vehicles needing to be charged per hour would take the power demand high enough (well over 20MW) to make a direct connection to the national grid the best option.

One point to consider with all the government push to renewable energy - how much power can renewable sources provide on a calm winter night. (Solar zero, wind zero, hydroelectric 2GW at a time when the electricity demand can reach 50GW.)

Icon for government plans to go wholly renewable =========>

Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

A power station at each garage ?

Assuming that the claim is correct, charging a Tesla with a 75kWh battery in 10 minutes will require a feed of 75x6kW ie 450kW (and that is assuming no losses!!). Compared to the power consumption of a normal (petrol/diesel) garage of 10kW or less this is a huge increase. There is no way that the electricity supply to a normal garage would cope - either a new electricity grid connection or a diesel generator at the garage would be required to provide the power.

(Multiple charging points would multiply the power demand.)

If a diesel generator at the garage is used then the big advantage of EVs - no local pollution - is negated as the CO2 and other pollutants would be emitted by the generator which is local. If a grid connection is used then the local electricity grid would need to be reinforced - a garage with 10 of these charging points would need a feed of 4.5MW. This is more that the peak electricity demand of 5000 people (UK peak demand 52.7GW, population 66.65 million demand/population under 800W).

Add to that the problems of connecting leads carrying 450kW (over 1000 amps needed) to the car (perfectly clean connectors required and cables that are rated for a continuous current of over ten times the short term current of a car's starter motor) and I do not see this charging speed becoming at all common. A few demonstration sites might have such a charger but this would be for advertising not for practical use.

The only practical use of such fast charging batteries at the moment is for far lower powered devices - power tools, phones, tablets etc where the peak demand required is under 3kW.

US Senate finds $52bn to keep chipmakers working, $195bn for tech R&D

Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

Fat cats getting fatter

Intel (and other US companies) fell behind TSMC and Samsung by cutting their R&D investment so that they could give bigger dividends to shareholders. Now that they realize that they are behind, instead of cutting dividends to fund their R&D they are getting the US taxpayers to fund it.

I wonder how big the lobbying contributions were to get this bill passed?

The US - the county with the best government money can buy!!!

Biden expands Chinese tech and military blocklist to 59 companies

Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

A figleaf

This is just banning US investment in these companies. It will have no effect on the companies themselves. It does not normally matter to a company whether its shares are held by shareholder A or shareholder B.

The order seems designed to make it look as though Biden is being tough on China while not actually doing anything to hurt China.

Report commissioned by Google says Google isn't to blame for the death of print news

Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

Partly true

Local papers survived on their advertising revenue - a large part of which used to be from housing ads. This part of their income has all but vanished as advertising on Rightmove is far more effective. The classified ads for tradesmen has to a large part been gobbled by Google. Much of the vehicle advertising has moved to Autotrader, manufacturers websites and eBay. Secondhand items are no longer advertised in local papers - eBay is more effective. The bits of advertising that are left (eg sales at local shops) are not enough to sustain anything like the previous range of local papers.

Print media advertising can not compete with internet advertising for speed or number and quality of photos. (Any photos printed on standard newspaper are restricted to poor quality - far worse than quality of photos available on the internet.)

Unfortunately local papers (barring special circumstances eg the Metro in London) are going to die out. (The Metro has a large fairly captive audience in London commuters.)

Security is an architectural issue: Why the principles of zero trust and least privilege matter so much right now

Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

Nice idea but...

A common requirement for many jobs is to be able to look up something on the internet. (Examples - where can I get widget X, where is the parts diagram for item Y, where is the recipe for food Z.) By their very nature these queries have no predefined list of nodes with the required information - a query might start with Google then branch to a list of suppliers (quite possibly including eBay and Amazon). Some larger firms might be able to afford the costs of staff members having two computers (one (secure) on the internal network and one (insecure) on a separate network) - smaller firms have to allow some staff members general internet access at work - this requires that those computers have the best affordable protection software.

Big Tech has a big problem with Florida passing a law that protects politicians from web moderation

Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

Race/color/religion are protected attributes - denying services based on any of them is illegal in the US

(except when Trump banned Muslims from many countries!!)

Politics is NOT a protected attribute - it is legal for a website or service to only cater to the speech of most far right nutters (eg Parler) - it is also legal for a website or service to decline to carry such speech.

The Epic vs Apple trial is wrapping up, but the battle has just begun

Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

Re: The lawyers have more paydays coming

Apple has already taken 30% of the purchase price of the app - this is more than enough to cover the hosting and other costs. Taking 30% of in app purchases has no justification other than "We are so big that we can take your money and there is nothing you can do about it".

Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

The lawyers have more paydays coming

Whichever side loses will appeal against the judgement - and this case will probably end up being settled by the Supreme Court.

Both sides have enough money to fund long running appeals.

As far as Apple "taxing" in app purchases, it is very difficult to see any justification for the "tax". Apple are not providing any service - they are just demanding money with menaces.

When it comes to the initial purchases of apps, there is one major difference between Apple and Google - with Android it is easy to install applications from locations other than the Play Store, with IOS on iPhones this is not possible. Google might well be able to argue in court that it is not a monopoly supplier of apps for Android but Apple most certainly IS a monopoly supplier of apps to iPhones/iPads.

Icon for what should happen to lawyers ===========>

Frontier sued by FTC, six states for allegedly over-promising, under-delivering broadband

Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

Yet another firm using Chapter 11

Chapter 11 is probably the worst single bit of the entire US legal system - it allows firms to evade their debts while letting the shareholders keep the ownership of the company. If it was to be anything like a fair system then the existing shares would all be cancelled and the debtors would get new shares in the company in proportion to the debts owned to them.

Cisco discloses self-sabotaging SSD bug that causes rolling outages for some Firepower appliances

Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

Why on earth does it use a non-standard SSD ?

SSD's have been a commodity item for years so why is Cisco using a non-standard one? The only reasons that I can think of are to make third party repairs more difficult/impossible or to make it difficult for anyone to discover backdoors buried in the firmware stored on the drive.

Given the cost of Cisco equipment even the cost of most expensive Samsung SSD would only be a rounding error in the price so cost saving is not a valid reason.

When the chips are down, Intel's biggest gamble isn't what to do – it's whom to do it with

Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

Intel has major design problems

All of Intel's CPUs for many years have been monolithic (everything on one piece of silicon) with structures such as their ring bus providing a significant part of their improved performance compared to the pre chiplet AMD designs.

To match the core counts that AMD can manage in a single package, Intel will need to move to a chiplet design to get acceptable yields. However a chiplet design will mean discarding much of the "secret sauce" such as the ring bus that provided the improvement relative to AMD's monolithic designs.

Intel need to do a MAJOR architecture redesign to use chiplets while at the same time trying to get their basic silicon speed to match what TSMC will be able to get from their 3nm node.

Intel will also have another major problem - patents - I would be willing to bet that TSMC has a lot of patents covering parts of their 7nm and smaller processes - Intel will either have to work around the patents (entailing extra delay) or pay TSMC to allow Intel to use them.

Basically Intel screwed up big time by paying out money in shareholder dividends instead of investing in the required EUV based production to handle smaller nodes. Because AMD was not an immediate threat, they cut back on R&D and like all high tech firms have now found out that doing so is a long term kiss of death.

To add to the above problems, Intel will have stock market problems if they cut their dividends to try to finance increased R&D - investors do not like seeing dividend cuts and are often far more focused on the short term rather than the long term health of a company.

Apple's expert witness grilled by Epic over 'frictionless' spending outside the app

Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

How many appeals ?

If Apple loses which on the reporting so far seems probable, expect them to appeal it all the way up through the legal system in the hope that Epic will run out of money before the appeal process concludes.

My own opinion is that the Apple store and the Google Play store should be limited to a commission of no more than 20% on the purchase of games and apps

and that developers should be free to use outside payment methods for in app purchases. I also think that it should be possible to load apps from outside the Apple store as can be done on Android.

Copper load of this: Openreach outlines 77 new locations where it'll stop selling legacy phone and broadband products

Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

Mains failures kill mobile as well

The majority of mobile phone masts have either no UPS or only a short term one designed to handle short outages of a few minutes. A prolonged mains failure to an area will kill the mobile phone traffic in that area. The only phone communication with long term operating capacity in the event of mains failure is basic phones connected by copper to a telephone exchange.

Icon for people who think that mobile phones work when the masts have no power ===>

Broadband plumber Openreach yanks legacy copper phone lines in Suffolk town of Mildenhall en route to getting the UK on VoIP

Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

Re: OMG - El Reg: this is a tech journal

If you read the article - it was about the withdrawal of copper which is the thing that makes emergency calls etc dependent on mains electricity. Basic telephones connected by copper to the exchange continue to function even if the mains supply to the area is cut. If the direct copper connection to the exchange with its huge batteries is replaced by any other type of connection (fibre, shared coax, wireless etc) then the communication link becomes dependent on mains electricity.

A repeat of the incident in Lancaster in December 2015 will result in a total loss of communications,(during the Lancaster incident wired phones still worked as the big batteries in the exchange provided the power they needed.). Probably several people would die in such a repeat because they would not be able to summon help.

Icon for a person that comments on an article without reading and understanding it ===>

Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

Re: "usually competent enough to not site them in spots where flooding was likely."

Old analog phones usually worked even if a cabinet was under water - the operating voltage was 50 volts and the phones would still work down to about 35 volts. The leakage from a single connection point being under water was not normally enough to stop operation (it did make for poor voice quality).

Please remember the PSTN network operated at a much lower voltage than mains electricity (50v DC vs 240v AC) so it was nothing like as badly affected by water.

The Japanese nuclear plant had its backup generators in the basement which meant that even after the tidal wave had receded the generators were still inoperable. If the Japanese government had been even halfway competent they would have airlifted a couple of 1MW generators to the site in the 24 hours after the tidal wave - this would have been sufficient to keep the cooling systems going and the plant would have suffered no serious damage. (A 1MW generator is light enough to be slung under several types of helicopter.)

Please also remember fibreoptic cables are normally far more fragile than the traditional phone cables. (A 100 pair telephone cable can withstand someone standing on it - a fibre cable is very likely to be broken by the same load.)

Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

Re: "When there are floods"

Back when BT was part of the Post Office, the people planning where to put exchanges were usually competent enough to not site them in spots where flooding was likely. The exchanges also had batteries big enough to run the exchange (and all the telephones because they were powered from the exchange) for 24 hours or more. Many exchanges also had backup generators that could keep the exchange operational for a week or more.

With telephones depending on mains driven adapters (with a ONE hour backup battery), mobile phone masts also dependent on mains power (backup batteries normally have only a few hours capacity - when they are even present!!) any prolonged mains outage is going to result in a complete loss of communications.

The thing to remember about BT/OpenReach and their lapdog OFCOM is that all they care about is profits - emergency cover, alarms etc are not profitable so any excuse to drop them will be taken.

Big right-to-repair win: FTC blasts tech giants for making it so difficult to mend devices

Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

Re: End of life

Batteries should be user replaceable items - if my THL phone of a few years ago could not only have user replaceable batteries but even came with a spare battery in the box why is that no longer possible on most current phones.

Perhaps for phones pass a law that manufacturers are required to replace batteries with new ones for a fee of not more than $50 with a penalty of having to refund the original list price if they do not do the battery swap.

Appeals court nixes online blueprint sharing ban on 3D-printed 'ghost guns'

Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

Why bother with 3D printing

Full CAD/CAM drawings of the AK-47 have been available online for years. I would much rather trust an AK-47 machined from blocks of steel than a 3D printed gun using the low strength materials available to 3D printers.

Leave the 3D instructions online to apply Darwin's rule to the idiots who try to build and use such a gun.

Icon for what happens to people who try to use a 3D printed firearm =========>

Not saying you should but we're told it's possible to land serverless app a '$40k/month bill using a 1,000-node botnet'

Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

Cloud services

Cloud working is just the modern version of using timesharing mainframes from the early days of computing.

For almost all sustained workloads it is cheaper to use your own kit rather than rent services from a cloud provider.

Valid reasons for using a cloud

1) Short term peak (under 3 months)

2) Insufficient internet connectivity at own premises

3) Keeping development and testing well away from production

4) Temporary substitute for unavailable systems (eg after a fire)

Reasons for NOT using a cloud

1) Cost - in under 3 years (under 1 year in many cases) running the job on own hardware will be cheaper than the cloud price

2) Legal constraints - any company in the EU that allows personal data to be on a cloud controlled by US firms is in danger of massive fines due to the EU GDPR and the US CLOUD act.

3) Data security - if the access to the cloud application is not set correctly then massive data breaches are all too easy - this again raises the potential of nasty fines to companies that trade in the EU due to GDPR. Data breaches on own kit behind a firewall are usually due to an attack (rather than the stupidity that has left so many Amazon storage buckets with world access).

4) Lock in to one cloud supplier. It is far too easy to embed implicit assumptions about the available facilities into applications resulting (for example) in an application that works on AWS but needs extensive rework to run on Azure.

PLEASE before committing a job to "the cloud" price the costs of own kit vs cloud kit over the expected timeframe. Include the costs of 2,3,and 4 above in the analysis before committing to the cloud.

Biden administration effectively slaps bans on seven Chinese supercomputer companies for military links

Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

Re: Design software ?

Covid-19 has an overall death rate of under 1% - a real biowarfare agent would have a death rate of over 50%.

Many of the epidemics of the 19th and 20th centuries had death rates way higher than covid-19 (eg Spanish Flu).

And still many Americans believe Trump's idea that covid-19 was a Chinese bioweapon - SAD.

Icon for the brains of the people who believe covid-19 was a bioweapon =====>

Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

Design software ?

It is rather difficult for the US to put effective bans on the use of the chip design software that China is already using.

It seems to me that there is a segment of the US government that wants a war to try to hide their own failings.

These embargoes remind me of the ones that the US imposed on Japan prior to WW2 which was one of the main reasons for Japan attacking the US at Pearl Harbor.

Is the US government stupid enough to believe that ANYONE wins in a nuclear (or biological) war ?



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