* Posts by Pete 2

3022 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

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

Pete 2 Silver badge

Dummy thermostats

> "I had, and still have, no idea what that box did," he admitted, "apart from giving a sense of satisfaction and a powerful placebo effect."

One building I worked in had an office that was long and somewhat narrow. There were continual arguments between the people at one end and those at the other as to what temperature the single thermostat, situated in the middle of the room, should be set to.

This escalated to "management" (who had their own, air-conditioned suite somewhere else entirely). After a particularly sweaty summer week, the staff came into work the following Monday and found to their delight, TWO extra thermostats - one at each end of the room.

Problem solved! Situation defused! Heat, cooling and best of all ... control.

Nobody thought to tell the occupants that all three thermostats had absolutely no effect on the office temperature, which was set for the whole building in the control room. But the staff were satisifed that they had been listened to.

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

Pete 2 Silver badge

Re: Open door policy?

> terrorists can throw USB sticks with the precision of knives throwers in movies

Yes. Even around corners, up flights of stairs and through locked doors.

There are even USB sticks made of ice, so that once they have delivered their evil, world-conquering payloads, they melt and leave no evidence.

Pete 2 Silver badge

Open door policy?

> someone coming into the building might insert a USB stick into a computer and either download some critical information or upload some virus

You'd kind of hope that if this building really did contain some nationally (or just London?) important infrastructure, that the security surrounding that sensitive bit of floorspace would reflect its importance - and its vulnerability.

So that nobody could just "insert a USB stick" into something that was vital to keep power supplied to the Underground.

Twitter’s new subscription service costs the same as a cup of coffee a month – though much less stimulating

Pete 2 Silver badge

> the AU$4.49 monthly price of a Twitter Blue subscription is a cent less than what I pay for my morning coffee.

So would that be for a month's worth of coffee? If not then the comparison is fake

NASA doubles down on Venus missions, asking what made the planet uninhabitable

Pete 2 Silver badge

Told you so!

> The two missions will seek to understand how Venus made the transition from a theoretically Earth-like climate to becoming the solar system’s hottest planet

Because the Venusians didn't listen to all the warnings about climate change

China reveals plan to pump out positive news about itself. Let's see what happens when that lands with social media fact-checkers

Pete 2 Silver badge

You say stop and I say go go go

> international discourse that matches with China's comprehensive national strength and international status

> China can resist criticism if fact-checkers reject its output.

Which leads to the question: what will those "fact" checkers have to base their checking on? If China puts out a story regarding some aspect of (for example) how fast their latest train is, will a fact checker in some foreign country have access to more reliable information that refutes the chinese claim?

Or will this just turn into a battle of propaganda: with each side - the chinese news media and western fact checkers - pushing out contradictory material with no proof from either one.

So just leaving it to readers or media outlets to decide which version of the truth they think their audiences would prefer to believe.

JBS Foods ransomware gang: White House 'engaging directly' with Russia about attack on massive meat producer

Pete 2 Silver badge

A simpler explanation

> suggested the recent trend for ransomware attacks appear to be designed to “damage the symbols of Western success” — namely the food and energy sectors.

Maybe whoever is behind these attacks simply single out large (rich) organisations with crappy security?

Need some chips? The Raspberry Pi Pico's RP2040 is heading to a channel near you

Pete 2 Silver badge

No competition

Despite all the hype, the RP2040 is still nowhere near the ESP32 in terms of specification.

I got a Pi Pico some time ago out of curiosity. I'm now back to the ESP32 for my hobby projects.

Refurb your enthusiasm: Apple is selling an 8-year-old desktop for over £5k

Pete 2 Silver badge

Make money fast

> A model with a 2.7 GHz 12-core Intel Xeon E5 processor, combined with 64 GB of DDR3 RAM, 1TB of PCIe storage, and two AMD FirePro D700 GPUs with 6GB of GDDR5 VRAM costs a cool £5,149.

They'd do better if they took a photo of it and flogged that as an NFT

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

Pete 2 Silver badge

I did it my way

> Senator Shelby promised to cancel NASA's entire budget

As fine a set of arguments for NOT having government run / controlled programmes as a person could ever wish to hear.

Have governments sponsor commercial or private work, but on the basis that there is no political interference attached. Just a flow of money to permit those who know what to do (and how to do it) achieve the goals that they have set for themselves.

Seeking an escape from the UK? Regulations aimed at rocket and satellite launches from 2022 have arrived

Pete 2 Silver badge

One more thing

> "To be able to launch a rocket into orbit, you need three things. You need a rocket, a spaceport and you need the regulatory environment.

Unless you are doing it purely as a hobby, it helps to have a paying customer, too.

However with SpaceX dominating on price you have to wonder what USP this scottish space port would have? Something that would induce punters to pay over the odds for a strictly experimental lift into space.

P.S. Isn't Kourou a part of France, in the EU and uses Euros as currency? Doesn't that make it part of Europe?

James Webb Space Telescope runs one last dress rehearsal for its massive golden mirrors before heading to launchpad

Pete 2 Silver badge

When unfolding the mirror just remember

... shiny side up

Another week, another issue: Virgin Galactic mulls test flight restart as VSS Unity fixed – but VMS Eve might be borked

Pete 2 Silver badge

Double trouble

> dealt with an electromagnetic interference (EMI) problem that aborted a recent test flight just as another technical gremlin rears its head.

I suppose they could always ask Boing for some advice?

IBM compiles dataset to teach software how software is made: 14m code samples, half of which actually work

Pete 2 Silver badge

correct, secure, fast - choose one.

> About half of the samples work as expected (hopefully the authors did not expect it to fail?)

Functionality is nice, but to do it securely is better. If this IBM data can be used to re-write code so that it is hardened against hacks, then it might have some use.

And best of all, is if the code can be made to work efficiently and without bloat.

When software depends on a project thanklessly maintained by a random guy in Nebraska, is open source sustainable?

Pete 2 Silver badge

The dominos fall

> it's unlikely that the commercial entity will vanish overnight

Yes. A massive assumption. There is a whole domino effect here.

An open source developer loses interest (or gets a partner / starts a family / gets a job). They simply stop working on a project. A commercial outfit that relied on it decides that their programmers aren't clever enough to deep-dive into the software and so declare their product as reaching end-of-life.

All their customers are recommended to use a commercial alternative at a much higher cost (due to the cost of support staff ... and profit)

If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all: El Reg takes Twitter's anti-mean algorithm for a spin

Pete 2 Silver badge

So Twitter doesn't filter the truth?

> I described PR people as "sociopaths" and "pointless".

> The app said naught.

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

Pete 2 Silver badge

Making a splash

> IBM says it can fit 50 billion transistors onto a 150mm2 die

The BC108 transistors in my components drawer are cylinders 5mm tall and 5mm in diameter. Assuming rows and columns stacked (not close packed) that would permit 8 million transistors per cubic metre. Or 2.5 olympic sized swimming pools to hold 50 billion of IBM's new product.

As for the power consumption? I hate to think.

If you're the 1% and have 10 mins to spare this July, bid for a place on first Blue Origin space tourism launch

Pete 2 Silver badge

Just drop me here

> it hasn’t revealed how much it’s charging for a return ticket onboard its capsule

A return ticket? Does that mean there is an option for a one-way ticket. They'll take you to space and then leave you there. Either to travel onwards or to make your own way back (by parachute, perhaps)

Known software issue grounds Ingenuity Mars copter as it attempted fourth flight

Pete 2 Silver badge

Have you tried switching it off and on again?

> The rover’s flight control software has been stable and healthy for almost two years, and why mess with a good thing there?

A good question.

If the only (small) issue is that 15% of the time the helicopter won't initialise into flight mode, it doesn't sound too risky to simply wait a while and try it again.

Isn't that the answer that software support gives, 90% of the time?

Digital Ocean springs a leak: Miscreant exploits hole to peep on unlucky customers' billing details for two weeks

Pete 2 Silver badge


> Digital Ocean on Wednesday said someone was able to snoop ...

Enough for a phishing expedition in the digital ocean, perchance?

NASA’s getting really good at this flying a helicopter on Mars thing

Pete 2 Silver badge

First step towards human colonisation

This thing will make a great pizza delivery system .... when there is someone on Mars to deliver it to (and another robot to make them to order)

OK, so we don't have a flying car yet, but this is possibly even better: The Internet of Beer

Pete 2 Silver badge

Dreams dashed

And here was me hoping that an Internet of Beer would, after all these years, actually turn out to be a "series of tubes"

Just imagine 10 mega pints a second to the home.

Origami... in spaaaaace: Inflatable folded objects discovery brings new meaning to blowing up buildings

Pete 2 Silver badge

One gust of wind

> Several issues will need to be addressed before the structures can be used at large scales on Earth

Not the least of which is how to keep these large and light weight structures attached to the ground.

China has a satellite with an arm – and America worries it could be used to snatch other spacecraft

Pete 2 Silver badge

Beat that!

> China has a satellite with a grappling arm

So presumably the americans will feel obliged to build a satellite with two and the russians will declare they are making one with three

Thus leading to an arms race in space.

A keyboard? How quaint: Logitech and Baidu link arms to make an AI-enabled, voice-transcribing mouse

Pete 2 Silver badge

Link down, brain fried.

> The mouse uses Baidu's AI open platform Baidu Brain speech technology.

Luckily, my keyboard does not require an internet connection to work. I think for the time being, I'll stick with that.

NASA writes software update for Ingenuity helicopter to enable first Mars flight

Pete 2 Silver badge

upon reflection

> didn't they do any sort of testing before departure?

I expect they scrupulously followed all the instructions in the Hubble Mirror Testing Manual

Pete 2 Silver badge

Applying patches .... please wait

> NASA will upload a "minor modification" of flight control software to the Ingenuity helicopter ahead of its first attempt at powered flight on Mars

Typical new toy experience. You get it out of the box, switch it on and the first thing it does is to download a software update.

I expect this project to stop as soon as Ingenuity reports back that the product registration failed due to an incorrect timezone being entered.

How do we stamp out the ransomware business model? Ban insurance payouts for one, says ex-GCHQ director

Pete 2 Silver badge

Send the bill to the board

I have a sneaking suspicion that if the directors of the company were made personally responsible for paying the ransom from their own pockets, there would be a near-instant upgrading in the status of IT security. It would be transformed from being an annoying backwater, to being an annoying front-line operation.

Semi-autonomous cars sales move up a gear with 3.5 million units leaving forecourts

Pete 2 Silver badge

Binary or non-binary?

> Whether a car is self-driving or not isn't a binary

From a driver / owner perspective (and therefore a domestic purchaser's), it kinda is.

Either a car needs an operator who is licensed, legally allowed to control the vehicle and responsible for any consequences, or it doesn't.

When considering full autonomy, it seems to me that while the goal is worthwhile and hugely advantageous, it is still a long way off. An unkind (yet fitting) analogy would be Linux taking over the desktop - still not there!

Ticker tape and a binary message: Bank of England's new Alan Turing £50 must be the nerdiest banknote ever

Pete 2 Silver badge

Birthday in binary

The binary on the note reads 1001000111100000111101111

which in decimal is 19120623

23 June 1912

US newspaper's 'Biden will hack Russia' claim: A good way to reassure Putin you'll leave him alone

Pete 2 Silver badge

Silent but deadly - or just silent?

The NYT article says this of the attacks:

a series of clandestine actions across Russian networks that are intended to be evident to President Vladimir V. Putin and his intelligence services and military but not to the wider world.

So we and the american public will just have to take Biden's word that an attack has taken place. Because there will be nothing for anyone to see, unless you are Putin or his mates.

It sounds like a great weapon. One that leaves no trace and apparently causes no damage that anyone except its intended targets can see. More like propaganda: "yesterday we attacked .... and destroyed ..... " but with nothing to prove anyone actually did anything!

However, the same article also says this is in retaliation for

rivals who regularly exploit vulnerabilities in government and corporate defenses

Rather than expend effort in damaging both someone else's systems and your own "high ground" position, why not fix all those vulnerabilities? Or better still, take all this vulnerable stuff off the internet so it can't be exploited to begin with.

While Reg readers know the difference between a true hacker and cyber-crook, for everyone else, hacking means illegal activity

Pete 2 Silver badge

Increased suspicion and distrust

ISTM that since 9/11 the western world (as that is all I have personal experience of) has become a less tolerant and trusting place. In particular, a distrust of people who know more than an average person. That time has also seen a massive increase in the dependency on technology and scare stories about scams, thieves, fraud and loss.

And a growing disquiet about how technology is used to monitor people, control them and invade their lives.

Who better to blame than a technological elite? People who know stuff. People who use words that your average person doesn't understand. People who make ordinary folk look and feel like idiots by doing things that are beyond ordinary people's capabilities. And how better demonstrate that hostility than to group them all together with a generalised description. After all, that is historically how society deals with groups they feel uneasy about.

Boeing successfully flies unmanned autonomous military 'wingman' aircraft that may become pilot's buddy

Pete 2 Silver badge

Flying tonite!

> it was under the careful watch of a test pilot in a control station at the Woomera Range Complex

Next stop, placing these under the auspices of a "theatre" AWACS.

The role of the E-3 is to carry out airborne surveillance and command, control and communications (C3) functions for tactical and air defence forces.

Tell me again how the service life of an F35 fighter is expected to be 50 years. At this rate they will be obsolete by 2030

With computer brains in short supply, President Biden orders 100-day probe into semiconductor drought

Pete 2 Silver badge

Riding the cycle

And in a couple if years there will be a glut. All the new manufacturing capacity will be churning out "chips" so fast that their owners won't be able to give them away. Prices will drop, suppliers will go out of business as the combination of repayments on the machinery continue but profit margins become non-existent.

This happens every few years and is not limited to semiconductors. It looks like 2025 would be a good time to buy that solar power/battery-backed system: when prices have peaked and are down to "fire sale" levels.

Shortages raise prices. High prices mean big profits. Profits attract investment. Investment increases supply. Oversupply leads to a crash in prices. Lack of demand leads to FAB closures. Fewer FABs leads to shortages.

And the pattern repeats Without any of the investors learning from all the times this has happened before.

Pyrrhic victory: Co-Op wins £13m from IBM over collapse of £175m Project Cobalt insurance platform contract

Pete 2 Silver badge

Knock, knock

> In December CISGIL was sold to a firm called Soteria

I wonder if an IBM salesperson was on Soteria's doorstep the next morning opening with "I hear you need an Agile insurance product"

Facebook and Australia do a deal: The Social Network™ will restore news down under and even start paying for it

Pete 2 Silver badge

Raising the dead

> While Australia has altered its code, it retains its teeth

Yes. it keeps its teeth in a jar by the bed.

Having read the Axios version of events, it turns out that Facebook has demonstrated to the Australian news media just who holds the cards. It isn't them. It is also notable that FB's announce says it will choose which news sources to work with.

The basic premise behind this whole mess is the old-fashioned, dead but still moving, news media is making a last-gasp effort to get some money for old rope. It looks as if they didn't realise that their position is not one of power.

Big Tech workers prefer 3 days at home, 2 in the office. We ask Reg readers: What's your home-office balance?

Pete 2 Silver badge

Meetings != work

> "Yes, meetings start earlier and end later now, but I have put my foot down and am protecting my time, and I have seen the meeting hours scaled back recently due to universal fatigue,"

For a techy, work is a productive and often creative activity. If businesses are wasting their technical talent by requiring them to attend significant numbers of meetings, then I would regard that as a sign of poor management.

Could it be that the only people motivated to fill in such questionnaires are those non-techies who have very little actual, useful, work to do. So therefore are the people who spend all their time in meetings?

Co-founder of coronavirus vaccine biz holds in-person tech event... 20+ attendees later test positive for COVID-19

Pete 2 Silver badge

Only a matter of time

> 12 of the 30 who showed up left with a COVID-19 infection.

ISTM that the sort of person who would attend an event like this and therefore ignore all the advice, guidelines and laws is going to be in the front line of Covid-catchers. If they hadn't caught it at this event, then they would only have caught it somewhere else, given their unconventional approach to avoiding infection.

As for the other 18 attendees: you have to wonder whether they had already had Covid.

UK.gov awards seats on £2bn 'digital outcomes' framework to suppliers – one of which doesn't even have a website

Pete 2 Silver badge

No website, no cry

> Users Needs Ltd has yet to build a website.

It's good to see that one of these outfits takes internet security seriously.

How do you fix a problem like open-source security? Google has an idea, though constraints may not go down well

Pete 2 Silver badge

Re: Fixing the unfixable

> I've submitted numerous useful patches with little to no experience with the code in question

Which tells us a lot about the quality of the pre-existing code! And by extension the original coder.

But the same applies. Writing code is the easiest part of creating software. All the drudge work is at least as valuable to the end user. But the coders do not write their applications for end users benefits.

Pete 2 Silver badge

Fixing the unfixable

> the norms of open-source culture

and that's where it all falls apart.

Leaving aside the OSS that is given free to the world by large, professional, companies, all the other coders write stuff because it is fun. That, and the bragging rights, are the emotional reward coders get for tossing a bunch of software over the wall into user-land.

As for all the boring but necessary stuff that the real world needs, such as documentation, testing and support - well, that's not fun. Neither is having to formalise change control or employ standards.

Many years ago I reported a bug in one of the FOSS office suites. The response I got back from the coordinator of the project summarised the situation along the lines that all the code was written by volunteers. They would only write software that interested them. As such there was little prospect of getting bugs fixed as none of the team were motivated to do such work.

I do not believe there is any way to fix that problem, nor is there any leverage to implement the sort of quality control that Google is proposing.

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

Pete 2 Silver badge

Re: Odd chip

> I'm honestly not sure what market they are targeting with it.


ISTM to release a small device like this that does not have WiFi is just plain dumb. They have ruled themselves out of the IoT field and as such this is just another dev board

As for the $4 price tag: it's too low for retailers to make any worthwhile profit from. Although I suppose it will go the way of the $5 Pi-Zero which is either unobtainable as the margin makes it not worth stocking, limited to ordering 1 otherwise it would cannibalise the more expensive products' market or is overpriced so (including P&P) as to be uncompetitive.

Pete 2 Silver badge

Neither fish nor fowl

So this is not a little Linux board. It isn't an Arduino or ESP32 either. Neither is it compatible with Arduino libraries. It needs a brand new IDE by all accounts. The world is already running on any of the thousands of STMicro M0 boards out there.

So it is difficult to see what this addition to a crowded market has to offer - apart from the "Pi" branding.

Hobbyists are already well catered for and industrial users buy the chips by the million to integrate into their own devices (with the help of STM development tools).

Imagine things are bad enough that you need a payday loan. Then imagine flaws in systems of loan lead generators leave your records in the open... for years

Pete 2 Silver badge

On the bright side

> exposed potentially millions of records in one of the most sensitive areas: payday loans

Any hacker who does access that data will see that you don't have any money, so aren't worth scamming

Soyuz later! SpaceX gets NASA green light to lob astronauts to the International Space Station full time

Pete 2 Silver badge

Re: world's third richest being

Try to keep up at the back!

Elon Musk's net worth quadruples since January to make him third richest person in the world

September 2020

Pete 2 Silver badge

Thanks never ending.

> “Thank you to NASA for their continued support of SpaceX and partnership in achieving this goal,” SpaceX supremo Elon Musk said

But thank you most of all for all that luverly money you have given us. Said Elon Musk, the world's third richest being.

Are you seeing this, Amazon? British military steps up robot tech tests with drone capable of carrying 60kg payloads

Pete 2 Silver badge

Beach landings?

Is the UK defence procurement really based on scenes from old WW2 movies?

H2? Oh! New water-splitting technique pushes progress of green hydrogen

Pete 2 Silver badge

Re: > blasting microwave radiation at a watery chemical soup

You'd hope that this would be what appears in vehicles. The ability to turn this goop into H2 on demand in situ. Rather than having it produced in bulk elsewhere and transported / stored,

Pete 2 Silver badge

Do try this at home

> blasting microwave radiation at a watery chemical soup

It's good to know that someone has found a use for supermarket Caldo

What's the recipe? 5 minutes at maximum power.

Japanese eggheads strap AI-powered backpacks to seagulls

Pete 2 Silver badge

Re: The really important question ...

> where the seagulls go to get their backpacks recharged?!?

Maybe they all have Nest chargers?


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