* Posts by Adrian Harvey

140 posts • joined 21 May 2009


Swooping in to claim the glory while the On Call engineer stands baffled

Adrian Harvey

Discovering that it is impossible *is* the process of elimination

Adrian Harvey

But eliminating something means that you have discovered it to be impossible. You don’t eliminate it whilst it is still possible! And that’s what Holmes meant. Once you have assessed all the possibilities and eliminated all the ones that turn out not to be possible then the one that is left must be the answer even if it feels unlikely.

Zoom's end-to-end encryption isn't actually end-to-end at all. Good thing the PM isn't using it for Cabinet calls. Oh, for f...

Adrian Harvey
Big Brother

NZ cabinet used it too

Was mentioned in a press conference on COVID this week. But they explicitly stated that it had not been security cleared for Restricted material, so there were some items they would not be discussing using that system.

'Azure appears to be full': UK punters complain of capacity issues on Microsoft's cloud

Adrian Harvey

Re: Homework

When were you a child? In 1947 there was a Polio epidemic in New Zealand, and all the schools closed for a term (as well as no Cinemas, public meetings, etc). All the children were enrolled in Correspondence School, and the work posted out to them. One of the radio stations was co-opted and and certain lessons were broadcast at fixed times. So, for example Form 3 English might be 10-11 on Wednesdays.

I’m sure the latest tech has made it a little easier, and more interactive, but it has been *possible* for a very long time.

Icon because it’s a teacher... and because I’m being pedantic about the word possible so I can tell my anecdote :-)

Still hoping to run VMware's ESXi on Arm any time soon? Don't hold your breath – no rush and no commitments

Adrian Harvey

Re: Build it and they will come...

I don’t think VMWare uses the “recompile model” at all anymore. That model was only necessary to overcome limitations of the x86 model that not all privileged instructions were trapped when running outside ring 0. Some simply failed or just behaved differently. VMWare rewrote those on code load so they could be emulated. Commentators had been saying for a long time that virtualisation was not possible on x86 due to architecture limitations. And the chip designers didn’t see any demand. Once that loop was closed and the architecture extended, VMWare moved to using the hardware virtualisation as it has higher performance.

I don’t know what happens if you run VMWare on a really old CPU now - it may still have the software virtualisation code lingering somewhere, but I suspect it will just refuse to run....

Anyway, a long way of saying that the original VMWare model is probably not necessary on any other CPU as they have had the benefit of seeing the x86 issues and avoiding them.

Open-source, cross-platform and people seem to like it: PowerShell 7 has landed

Adrian Harvey

I know Powershell syntax is odd in some places, and I'm not very keen on it, but the concept of passing the pipeline around as objects is clever and powerful. It avoids having to re-parse data (and, speaking for myself, often incorrectly or without correctly dealing with all the corner cases.)

Are there actually any other shells that implement this concept? Cross platform too?

Early adopters delighted as Microsoft pulls plug on Mobile Backend as a Service. Haha, only joking – they're fuming

Adrian Harvey

Re: Yea - give me that random stuff

I’m wondering if you’re reading this differently to the rest of us? I think when they say committed to a repository they mean committed to *your* repository. Not all the repositories of your dependencies.

Microsoft's on Edge and you could be, too: Chromium-based browser exits beta – with teething problems

Adrian Harvey

Access to file:// urls

I really hope that the little comment about this as a “security” item isn’t Edge picking up the Chrome model for this where it’s hacked in somewhere low level in the code and doesn’t understand the difference between local file paths (which really are a different domain) and remote file paths (which are just another protocol), nor between corporate controlled web sites (which may even be running on the same box as the file server) and untrusted sites. As a result simple integration between web apps and legacy stuff either fails, becomes complex and a whole new kind of security risk, or forces users onto IE. I’m sure it was done with the best of intentions but Chrome has been causing me nightmares on some recent projects.

IT exec sets up fake biz, uses it to bill his bosses $6m for phantom gear, gets caught by Microsoft Word metadata

Adrian Harvey

Re: Good to stay "anonymous"

Frank Abagnale (he of "Catch Me If You Can") wrote "The Art of the Steal" which is a good easy read on fraud techniques and how to prevent them. A little more focus on cheque fraud than necessary in these days of declining cheque use, but still an entertaining read!

We live so fast I can't even finish this sent...

Adrian Harvey

Re: Is that...

Blue snow marks trail edges and corners. Sprayed on to improve visibility on foggy days. To be followed rather than avoided if you don’t want to go over the cliff.

Icon: ski jacket.

Beware the three-finger-salute, or 'How I Got The Keys To The Kingdom'

Adrian Harvey

Re: Back in the day...

Pendatic I know, but New Zealand uses the US keyboard layout as dollars are the currency and English the most spoken language.

(Ok, even more pedantic, there is a keyboard setting for Maori language that changes the back-quote key to a macron compose key, but I argue it’s not the “New Zealand” layout )

Icon: closest for pendant

Wham, bam, thank you scram button: Now we have to go all MacGyver on the server room

Adrian Harvey

Re: Dont have your machine room at the top of a building

I seriously hope it was Halon, not Halogen. Halogens (Flourine, Chlorine, Iodene, etc) are highly reactive and would be an “interesting” choice for a fire control system. Good for the BOFH though, very effective for wrapping up stories.

Icon may well appear on Halogen cylinders.

Attention! Very important science: Tapping a can of fizzy beer does... absolutely nothing

Adrian Harvey

Re: This theory always puzzles me

Divers get the bends because the solubility of a gas increases with pressure (actually partial pressure - that is the pressure of that gas alone). More gas dissolves in the blood stream under he higher pressure at depth, and then tries to suddenly form bubbles as the pressure is released when the diver surfaces,

Very similar to soft drinks, but if is the gas is dissolved there aren’t bubbles, microscopic or otherwise. It is only when the ceases to be dissolved that bubbles form.

Incedentally was the beer warm or cool for the test? The liquid temperature has a significant effect on CO2 solubility that’s why there”s no carbonated tea. (Well, not hot tea)

Battery-guzzling 4K hardware clad in an alloy battle jacket: Lenovo's 4th-gen ThinkPad Yoga X1 is its most metal yet

Adrian Harvey

Magic keyboard gone?

From the photos it looks like the magic keyboard is gone, replaced by an ordinary inset keyboard - is that right?

I have a 3rd gen at work and the keyboard, unlike most other laptops is not set in an indented tray so that the tops of the keys are level with the case and trackpad. Instead the keys all retract when the lid is closed so they do not brush the screen. This helps Lenovo to provide reasonable travel on the keys whilst keeping the machine thin. A much better solution to thinness than the Mac one where the short key travel made the keyboard painful to use (your opinions may vary)

The keys also retracted when in tablet mode which helped you not to type on the back of the computer by mistake as you hold the tablet. I remember the thinkpad butterfly keyboard, so this trick bought back happy memories:-)

Adrian Harvey

Re: F'ing Fn key

I’d like them both to be CTRL and move the Fn function to the caps lock key. Bios doesn’t have a setting for that though and Windows key mapping programs I’ve looked at don’t seem to know about Fn:-(.

IT protip: Never try to be too helpful lest someone puts your contact details next to unruly boxen

Adrian Harvey

Re: Where were you 20 years ago?

It generally surprises people to learn that Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics are not in fact a form of picture writing. They are in fact a fancy font used for monuments and the like. Each picture maps (roughly) to a syllable and a word is composed of several syllables. A simpler font was used for everyday writing.

It was long assumed to have been word-pictures (like Chinese or emojis). But after the Rosetta Stone unlocked the language this was found to be a misapprehension.

I see your blue passport and raise you a green number plate: UK mulls rewards scheme for zero-emission vehicles

Adrian Harvey

Re: Capitalist pig (green edition)

It really does grow on trees you know!

Tinfoil-hat search engine DuckDuckGo gifts more options, dark theme and other toys for the 0.43%

Adrian Harvey

The country selector really really needs an ‘only from this country’ option, rather than just biasing answers slightly towards your selected country. Sometimes I only want to see results that can actually be delivered without a 4 week delay....

IR35 blame game: Barclays to halt off-payroll contractors, goes directly to PAYE

Adrian Harvey

Re: Personal Service Companies

> Not sure what you mean here.

> Assuming you mean raising corp tax levels?

I wasn’t suggesting anything about the level - it’s a few years since I lived there and I don’t know what the current UK rate is!

However I understand that UK dividends are taxed at a low rate separately from the Corp tax paid on the profit, and the poster I was replying to was suggesting fixing that by eliminating Corp tax.

The system in NZ taxes the dividends as Income at the same rate as any other Income you may have. The Corp tax that has been paid is offset against that tax amount owing when the dividend is paid (the process is called imputation) and any additional Income tax still owing is deducted as the dividend is paid.

There are a few corner cases that are dealt with in the tax return and there’s no equivalent to National Insurance in NZ - so that would add complexity, but as a system it’s much fairer, more consistent and harder to exploit than the UK one.

Adrian Harvey

Re: Personal Service Companies

1. is not completely necessary - you could simply allow corporation tax paid as a credit against the income tax payable. This is what is done in Australia and New Zealand ( they call it imputation tax credits). Doing it that way prevents tax optimisation by means of withholding the dividend- the Corp tax is still paid and only the step up to income tax rates is held back until the dividend is released.

Pro tip: Plug in your Tesla S when clocking off, lest you run out of juice mid hot pursuit

Adrian Harvey

Not per driver, perhaps, but one “hot spare” in the pool wouldn’t be beyond reason. It’s not unlikely that one would be needed to cover mechanical issues, crash repair time, service intervals, etc.

Has outsourcing public-sector IT worked? The Institute for Government seems to think so, kinda

Adrian Harvey

To be fair...

To be fair you would have to compare with the success/failure rate before outsourcing which, given the record for large government IT projects probably gives the outsourcing camp a low bar to jump over.

Icon - for the projects!

Lights, camera, camera, camera, action: iPhone, iPad, Watch, chip biz in new iPhone, iPad, Watch, chip shocker

Adrian Harvey

Re: "they haven't found out a way to make a zoom lens flat enough to fit in the phone yet."

Not counting the two that (almost) everyone has :-)

Adrian Harvey

Re: Not even parity

Assuming we’re talking about the pro, you’ve got the tax calculation wrong. GBP 1049 inc VAT is GBP 874.17 ex VAT (at 20%). I think you may have taken 20% off rather than reversing out the 20% added on perhaps?

Making it US$1080 at the current cross rate. I suppose 8% more is not the end of the world, and it won’t cover your airfare to go over to a sales-tax free state and buy one - but still annoying!

Maths pedant rather than grammar - but I’m sticking with that icon even though it guarantees I will have made an error in my post too!

Mainstream auto makers stuff in more self-driving tech: 8% of new Euro cars have Level 2 smarts

Adrian Harvey

Re: Level 2 smarts ?

> (yes it is legal, although not very smart, to do 60 along those lanes).

It was pointed out to me, many years ago, that the speed limit is not the only law that limits your speed. Charges such as dangerous driving, and the parts of the Highway Code to do with stopping distance apply too. It is very likely to be illegal to do 60 on said lanes. Just not a breach of the speed limit regulations.

Sadly there seems to be an increasing trend around here to treat the speed limit as an indicator of road quality, and assume all parts of a given road are traverseable at its speed limit...

Icon because it’s the only road sign on offer =======>

Airbus A350 software bug forces airlines to turn planes off and on every 149 hours

Adrian Harvey

Re: Why is there a choice?

> Hey! Where's the ANY key ?

It's the big blank one with no letters on it.

The in and outs of Microsoft's new Windows Terminal

Adrian Harvey

I expect there are quite a few of us, but what bothers me is that I thought how clever curses / ncurses was - a library designed to give you api based access to the screen and hide all the termcap/info mess. We seem to be full circle somehow...

However, having a protocol for remote display / network transparency of terminal apps is a good thing. I hadn’t realised some of the remote access services were scraping hidden console windows to make some apps remotely accessible.

Flight Simulator 2020: Exciting new ride or a doomed tailspin in a crowded market?

Adrian Harvey

Re: Physics

Possibly - the Venturi effect and the Bernoulli principle are related. Roughly speaking, Venturi observed the effect, Bernoulli did the maths.

Adrian Harvey

Re: Physics

Before criticising others’ understanding of Aerodynamics it’s a good idea to make sure your facts are correct. The venturi principle [sic] has little to do with wing lift. See this NASA link for detail https://www.grc.nasa.gov/WWW/K-12/airplane/wrong3.html

Halleluja! The Second Coming of Windows Subsystem For Linux blesses Insider faithful

Adrian Harvey

Re: "Windows Subsystem for Linux"

I agree. Horrible name. But at least they are consistent with their previous Windows Subsystem for UNIX Applications naming for the Interix components they bought. AKA Windows Services for UNIX (SFU) before they were bundled with to Windows 2003 R2.

Nope, we're stuffed, shrieks Apple channel as iPhone shipments enter a double-digit spiral

Adrian Harvey

Re: Price sensitive

Well, Apple phones last surprisingly well - a combination of a relatively small number of models making repair parts are available for a long time, and Apple continueing software updates for a long time. This can make their $/year of life less bad than the headline price would make you think.

However that’s not going to make me rush out and buy one of the Excess models to replace my 6S (itself not acquired anywhere near it’s release year). Maybe if I could use my headphones....

Adrian Harvey

Re: SE no longer supported end of 2019

Not true according to Apple - Support list includes SE and 6S (to be expected as innards are basically the same). 6 and 5S are dropped though, so not all good news :-(

I think a few pundits rumoured the dropping before Apple announced IOS13 - so I would hazard a guess that your information source was just a little dated...

I'll just clear down the database before break. What's the worst that could happen? It's a trial

Adrian Harvey


>>Why do people do otherwise ?

Because those with a long Unix memory remember when halt and reboot did not call shutdown if not run from shutdown, but instantly halted or rebooted the system. There's always a nagging feeling that this system *might*, *just possibly* be the last holdout of some old design or traditionalist BOFH who has these commands do what they used to do, back in the good old days. Relying on the safety mechanism built into recent versions of halt feels like pulling the trigger of a gun pointed at your foot and trusting that the safety catch is on...

As an aside, I still remember being taught that if you *really* had to crash-restart a system (shutdown wasn't working) and still had the console, the correct command was

sync; sync; sync; reboot

To give maximum chance that the filesystem would be is a consistent state or at least reparable on recovery. It was kind of a magic incantation that you hope you'll never have to actually use, and the extra syncs probably do nothing...

If servers go down but no one hears them, did they really fail? Think about it over lunch

Adrian Harvey

<quote>Nothing wrong with US International</quote>

Quite right. But it wasn’t what the users expected (nor needed, as it was an English speaking country) nor what the admin intended. To be fair on the admin the layout name is ambiguous, but it wouldn’t make a good story otherwise....

Adrian Harvey

I thought this was heading towards the issue I came across on one site which had just done a rollout of an new desktop image and were getting user complaints that the keyboards weren’t working right. Some keys had to be pressed twice before they would register, and sometimes the spacebar did odd things. After a bit I found the keys that weren’t working were the ones that were part of accents, like “‘^~ etc. It turned out that in setting up the new build someone’s thought process had gone like this... We use US keyboards - right - and we’re not actually *in* the USA - right - so clearly the correct keyboard layout setting is US-International. Which (as any fule kno) is a special layout setting that changes the default function of some keys (in the US layout) to be in compose mode where the next letter you type gets that accent and if you want the uncomposed symbol you follow the character by pressing space.

As I remember it this required a lot of desktop visits to undo.... They weren’t the last to try out this interesting layout either.

Icon should be obvious

Jocasta? Jocasta! Don't ram that trolley into the man: New tech promises an end to this scenario

Adrian Harvey

They were clearly trollied when they came up with this idea.

So you've 'seen' the black hole. Now for the interesting bit – how all that raw data was stored

Adrian Harvey

Re: Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of tapes hurtling down the highway.

Title reference is to Tanenbaum in “Computer Networks”. Not Cerf.

Quote details in the link. Tanenbaum was likely paraphrasing others here. Lots of people have made similar statements in various forms.

Pedant icon as we’re both being pedantic!

ReactOS 0.4.11 makes great strides towards running Windows apps without the Windows

Adrian Harvey

Re: Window of Opportunity?

"Meanwhile Wine is coming along in leaps and bounds."

It's worth noting that Reactos user-space libraries are largely imported from and kept in sync with Wine and as such progress in Wine causes progress in Reactos too. Reactos adds lower layers which reimplement the windows Kernel, drivers and key services rather than emulate them by calls to Linux APIs.

Whether having a windows-like kernel helps run your use case better depends on what, exactly, that use case is.....

Long phone is loooong: Sony swipes at flagship fatigue with 21:9 tall boy

Adrian Harvey

Re: 2001

4:9 = 9:20.25 though, so not far off 9:21 really....

We did Nazi see this coming... Internet will welcome Earth's newest nation with, sigh, a brand new .SS TLD

Adrian Harvey

Re: Political correctness running amok?

Juguar famously did. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_Cars

Whole company name was changed to that of their most popular model to avoid the branding issues the old company name acquired. Though that was in 1945.

Oz cops investigating screams of 'why don't you die?' find bloke in battle with spider

Adrian Harvey

Although they look a bit scary you’re best off leaving huntsman spiders alone - or just relocating them. They’re both not poisonous and they eat other, poisonous, spiders - thereby saving you time, effort, and cleanup. I lived in Australia for a few years, and this worked well.

Apple iPhone X screen falls short of promises, lawsuit says

Adrian Harvey

Screen measurements in inches are tube size

Screen measurements have always seemed a bit unrealistic because, in the days when most TVs and monitors were CRT devices the measurement given was that of the physical tube diagonal, not the visible screen size. An attempt was made to have the metric measurement for screen size be cmv - ie centimetres visible. Quite confusing, of course as you couldn’t just use the usual metric conversion to work out what size of monitor you were getting for your money - especially where one manufacturer gave only cmv and the other only inches.

Don’t get me started on wide screen diagonals and how they misrepresent screen area compared with squarer screens.

FPGAs? Sure, them too. Liqid pours chips over composable computing systems

Adrian Harvey


Did anyone else misread that headline as compostable computing systems and wonder if there's been a breakthrough in biodegradable systems to lower environmental impact?

Beer icon because I probably need one...

As it turns out, no, you can't just run an unlicensed Bitcoin money exchange

Adrian Harvey

Re: "No, you can't just run an unlicensed Bitcoin money exchange"

Not quite grammatical enough in your literalism - the can’t here applies to the just, not to the run alone. So he can run one, but he can’t just run one.

The reason he can’t just run one is that another thing will also happen - viz: getting collared for the crime.

Clear as mud?

Python creator Guido van Rossum sys.exit()s as language overlord

Adrian Harvey

Re: I like Python and C

“IBM, in it's infinite wisdom, decided to put the system ROM at the top of memory.”

I’m not sure the blame doesn’t sit with Intel there- the 8086 processor bootstrap begins by executing code ar FFFF:0000 - right at the end of memory (for those too young to remember segmented addressing, that’s 16 bytes shy of the 1MB highest possible address on the 20 bit address bus.). So you would have to have some ROM there to handle the bootstrap process. And putting the system ROM somewhere else in the memory map would probably have required a second chip or some custom part.

For all I know it may sit further back in computing history than that....

Shatner's solar-powered Bitcoin gambit wouldn't power a deflector shield

Adrian Harvey

> This year, Iceland, the world's leading geothermal user, doubled its geothermal output to 100MW

Something is wrong with this. A small grid scale power plant is about 100 MW. New Zealand has more than 800MW operational generating capacity. Iceland has 665MW according totheir national authority. So I'm not sure that Iceland is the leader or that they're doubled output...

Beer because it's Friday.

IPv6 growth is slowing and no one knows why. Let's see if El Reg can address what's going on

Adrian Harvey

Re: NAT required

NAT itself isn't but having clients on non reachable addresses *is*. It is because it prevents accidental exposure in a number of circumstances (Misconfigured devices acting a bridge is one example). And NAT enables that.

Microsoft, Google: We've found a fourth data-leaking Meltdown-Spectre CPU hole

Adrian Harvey

Analogy in video incomplete

It would have been nice if the redhat video had extended the quite nice analogy of how speculative execution works to how this vulnerability exploits it. It kind of felt like it leapt from a helpful, high-level analogy - useful for explaining an obscure subject - to "and bad people could exploit this.." It would have been helpful to have an expanded analogy that explained how the speculatively produced bill could lead to another customer receiving your order (or something)

I can't immediately think of a good way though - anyone else want to have a crack at stretching the analogy to it's limits?

Citrix snuffs Xen and NetScaler brands

Adrian Harvey

It’s worse than that... the original product was OEM’d so it was also called WinCenter, NTrigue, or WinDD depending who you bought it off and which extensions were bundled. You might argue that these versions weren’t Ctirix’s... but Citrix bought their code back and combined them into Metaframe.

And it was also named Metaframe XP for a while in the middle there.


(WinFrame, WinDD, WinCenter, NTrigue) -> MetaFrame -> Metaframe XP -> Presentation Server -> XenApp -> Citrix Virtual Apps

Which is why everyone seems to just call it “Citrix” even though that’s the company not the product. It’s the only invariant part of the name.

There will be blood: BT to axe 13,000 employees

Adrian Harvey

What exactly are you downloading to make your line equivalent to a public sewer?

Sorry. Couldn’t resist.



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