* Posts by Mark #255

463 publicly visible posts • joined 11 Jun 2009


What happens when What3Words gets lost in translation?

Mark #255

No, I believed them: I could track the recovery van on the app, and watched it get to the wrong layby about 10 minutes' drive away, before finally getting to me. (There may even have been messages, it's long ago enough that I've forgotten the minor details)

Mark #255

I had their app when I broke down, it sent them my location. They then rang me back, and sent the patrol vehicle to the wrong place

Mark #255

In the UK, the Ordnance Survey's OS Locate app tells you your location, in the National Grid system (you can set it to 6, 8, or 10 digit precision).

Doesn't need a data connection.

Where is the I'd-rather-not-bet-my-life-on-a-foreign-corporation's-proprietary-algorithm-in-an-emergency icon, anyway?

IT needs more brains, so why is it being such a zombie about getting them?

Mark #255

Re: Exams as a system

Interestingly (in England), if a student habitually "writes" everything using a laptop in their lessons, they don't even need an official diagnosis of dyslexia to be able to use the same system of working in their exams (GCSE and A-level).

If the school can demonstrate that extra time is needed in exams (generally by doing a mock exam, and getting the student to switch (pen/font) colour at the end of the standard allotted time), then 25% extra time is available.

The school's SENCO should be able to help, if anyone's in this situation.

I'll see your data loss and raise you a security policy violation

Mark #255

Re: No local storage allowed ?

I recall my university had rooms of PCs (this would be '95 or '96) which had no local hard drive, everything was done over the network.

Given that we were stringing our own PCs together via ribbon cable between parallel ports for Duke Nukem, this was serious voodoo.

Google launches $99 a night Hotel Mountain View for hybrid workers

Mark #255

"Imagine WFH without the H"

"Just imagine no commute to the office in the morning and instead, you could have an extra hour of sleep and less friction,"[...]

I mean, that sounds almost like my WFH day.

You're too dumb to use click-to-cancel, Big Biz says with straight face

Mark #255

Re: How hard can it be?

until one day before the end of the free trial month

This is another way they get you.

You can cancel NOW, and they'll give you the month you've paid for.

(in the UK, at least.)

Mark #255

Re: How hard can it be?

...and when you click that "End Subscription" button, you get a page saying how sorry they will be too lose you, pointing out all the aspects of the service you'll lose, asking you if you're sure, and at the bottom of the page (off-screen except on the tallest of monitors), a "yes, cancel".

There's then a further page where the highlighted button is "no, lols, I was joking, keep me subscribed", and the pale, barely visible button is the "godsdamnit, just cancel my fscking subscription already".

Quirky QWERTY killed a password in Paris

Mark #255

NumLock on a tiny laptop keyboard

I've been caught out by per-user NumLock settings before now, when using a laptop that's normally docked with a proper keyboard.

Unplug it, and when you first log in (on the laptop's own keyboard), the login screen uses the machine default setting (without the NumLock on).

Then, after a morning clicking buttons, go for lunch, come back and get "incorrect password" as you try to log in.

I finally worked out that the lock screen applies the user setting. I always have the NumLock on. But that switches to use the "alternative" (they were blue) values overlaid on the not-enough-keys laptop keyboard - so the right hand of the keyboard was mostly numbers.

Mark #255

Re: Keyboard Confusion

For people using W10 (or later I guess), Win+. makes an on-screen emoji selector appear; but it also has tabs for symbols and accents

Mark #255

Re: Paris...

Friends were, "Oh Paris, how glamorous!"

Been there, done that.

Three days training in a hotel in Cap d'Ail (literally, cross the road and you were in Monaco), out of season.

Spent a day either side sitting in airports for the only connection of the day.

At least the weather was clement, but that was the only positive.

Microsoft's Activision fight with FTC turned up a Blizzard of docs: Here's your summary

Mark #255

promises, promises

It reminds me of the scene in Maverick, where Mel Gibson's character sits down at the card table and promises not to win a hand for the first hour (after which, obvs, he wipes the floor)

File Explorer gets facelift in latest Windows 11 build

Mark #255

Re: Thank God!

In Powershell, the New-LocalUser and Add-LocalGroupMember commands get you a local account (also without having to think up bogus information to answer the recovery questions so they can't be hacked)

When it comes to Linux distros, one person's molehill is another's mountain

Mark #255

Re: until such time as PCs/laptops with Linux preinstalled are mass-marketed

except without the UI annoyances and telemetry

Given how many OEMs have been caught with their fingers in that pie, I'm sure that, as likely as not, it would merely be with non-Microsoft telemetry.

Google: If your Android app can create accounts, it better be easy to delete them, too

Mark #255

Still Amazon Prime to tame...

Amazon still use all the dark patterns in the book to minimise cancellations...

There really should be a "it shall take as many 'are you sure' pages/dialogue boxes/etc to sign up to a service as it does to cancel" law. Can you imagine?

Are you sure you want to sign up? [Sign up]

Think of all the things you could be missing out on by signing up to this service... Click here to continue...

[The actual button to sign up is not on-screen when the page loads, you'll need to scroll down to actually sign up. If you don't click the button, we won't sign you up.]

Had enough of Android? First 'Focal' based Ubuntu Touch is out

Mark #255

Re: Citation

I really thought you were going to go with this one instead

Microsoft and GM deal means your next car might talk, lie, gaslight and manipulate you

Mark #255

For the past month or so, my car has displayed a "Service Vehicle Soon" pop-up on the info screen.

Fine, it was going in for a service.

Today, I find that the message actually means something has gone wrong with the car and you should take it to a garage.

To add insult to injury, the garage weren't, by default, going to actually investigate the issue.

Sodding Vauxhalls and sodding Vauxhall dealers.

The ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 as a Linux laptop

Mark #255


And the main complaint about Windows is the need to update out of the box?

No, the complaint about Windows is that updating takes so damned long. The last laptop I got with Windows on took about a day to be usable.

In comparison, I updated my desktop from 18.04 to 22.04 (via 20.04) in about 2 hours (and that's mainly because I have quite leisurely broadband).

Ford seeks patent for cars that ditch you if payments missed

Mark #255

Tell me you're middle-class without telling me etc etc

outlines a potential to lock the vehicle out on weekends only so that the driver can still access a job

Because, of course, jobs requiring weekend work can't possibly exist.

By order of Canonical: Official Ubuntu flavors must stop including Flatpak by default

Mark #255

Re: future of apt on Ubuntu?

> * How do you know what it depends upon?

Mozilla wrote and compiled Firefox, if they don't know what it depends on how did they compile it? Everything it depends on (libraries etc.) should be in the tarball, with all dependencies relative to the executable ( ../lib for example),

...and then, when a security vulnerability is discovered in a library that a dozen apps installed by tarball use, I get to update them all?


You've just re-invented downloading Windows apps off the Intarwebs.

Package managers are one of the things I love about Linux - I don't have to faff about with ensuring everything's up to date.

There's no place like... KDE: Plasma 5.27 is out and GNOME 44 hits beta

Mark #255

In a VM, who knows what your processor is?

The "Product Name" says VirtualBox, which could be pretending to be who-knows-what to the poor OS

Unplug that Anker battery pack now: House blaze sparks recall

Mark #255

Re: Argh!

On the other hand...

Anker have issued a recall, with enough information so that I can check whether the Anker power bank I got was affected.

If it had been a KAVNEOALDJGT "brand" on Amazon (or VEIJOAWEB, or OAWIEHBKG), would the mfr have cared, would the authorities managed to join the dots?

(Icon just because...)

You can run Windows 11 on just 200MB of RAM – but should you?

Mark #255

Re: 16GB of RAM is the minimum

I guess it depends what else is installed.

I got an upgrade last year, from a dual core 7th gen i5 with 8GB of ram, which had become unusable due to the amount of enterprise crud that the IT department had larded onto it.

Once it had been released to me, a fresh install of Windows 10 without 14 different enterprise-grade pRoTeCt_ThE_CoMpUtEr applications running meant that it's still surprisingly usable.

Laser-wielding boffins bend lightning to their will

Mark #255

Re: What about the other way?

It's not massively clear from the video, but the laser beam guides the strike towards the tower (since a big metal structure has a much lower impedance than a thin ionised pathway through the air).

This protects the laser and the focusing telescope (they called it a telescope, so I will too) as the current gets diverted away from the ionised path running down to the big ol' death ray machine.

In lightning strikes, there's typically a "small" strike from cloud to earth followed milliseconds later by a "big" return stroke. All the things affected by lightning don't really care which way the electrons are running, just that there's so many of them.

You can hook your MIDI keyboard up to a website with Firefox 108

Mark #255

Re: FTP what?

That's just a legacy naming thing. They used to serve the files over both FTP and http, at ftp.mozilla.org

At some point, the FTP server was switched off, but the name remains

Lash#Cat9: A radical new Linux UI for keyboard warriors

Mark #255

Display subsystem use-cases

Wayland [...] seems to focus on high refresh rates and banishing display artifacts such as tearing

Just about the only thing keeping me on Windows on my own PCs is gaming*, so this type of work is important if Linux is to be a no-brainer platform to support for devs.

*and if I want to play Fortnite with my son & nephews, then Windows is required

Mark #255

find the editor has helpfully added a load of brackets and braces that I didn't want, and altered the formatting

All the IDEs that I've used have options to (a) switch off autocomplete, and (b) adjust the formatting/syntactic-sugar style to my own idiosyncrasies our in-house style.

To make this computer work, users had to press a button. Why didn't it work? Guess

Mark #255

Re: Manual is optional,

"please like and subscribe for more great content"

icon is me -->

Senior engineer reported to management for failing to fix a stapler

Mark #255

Re: Not just in IT

#1: A courtesy car that was an automatic(!) Micra - I couldn't get it out of Park, so had to walk back into the garage/dealership and ask how to make it go.

#2: An oversized (for the UK anyway) 4x4 hire car, that needed refueling, but could I find the fuel cover release? In the end I had to read the manual to find it was on the driver's door, but at shin height.

Mozilla drags Microsoft, Google, Apple for obliterating any form of browser choice

Mark #255

Also, any time you visit any Google property, you get nudged to install Chrome (echoes of "this site best viewed in Internet Explorer!"). Anyone without the jaded cynicism gene that all true El Reg readers have is likely to click on that button eventually...

USB-C to hit 80Gbps under updated USB4 v. 2.0 spec

Mark #255

Re: 240 volts?

You're amusingly/worryingly wrong.

At higher frequencies, current tends to concentrate at the surface of a conductor*. This leads to an effective higher conductor resistance and consequent lower current and power handling capabilities.

* This is why multi-strand conductors are better than solid ones for high frequency currents, because there's relatively more surface area. But if you want to transfer power, low frequency is better.

You can never have too many backups. Also, you can never have too many backups

Mark #255

Re: Hardly on topic

The BBC Model B had a command, "AUTO", which let you type in programs and incremented the line number by 10, so that if needed, additional lines could be inserted in between.

Big Tech is building the metaverse of its own dreams. You don't want to go there

Mark #255

Re: E=World

>>> Tupperware has entered the chat

Tupperware: would you like a storage container? Or a lunch box? Beautiful rounded corners, aren't they?

>>> Tupperware has left the chat

Our software is perfect. If something has gone wrong, it must be YOUR fault

Mark #255


The Met Office's android weather app can trigger daily notifications of the pollen level.

Except it didn't actually tell you the level on the notification.

Until I complained on Twitter!

So well done them...

We've got a photocopier and it can copy anything

Mark #255

Re: Years ago....

There was, back in the 90s, a copy "protection" annoyance comprising a booklet of short codes. When you started the game it would ask for a random code (page 5, column 3, number 19). The booklet was printed as glossy black ink on matte black paper.

We were so annoyed by this that we sat and typed them out.

Your job was probably outsourced for exactly the reason you suspected

Mark #255

Yes and no.

Phonics helps a lot of children to read, but certainly not all of them. Some children just don't learn in the same way as the others.

It wasn't until the "phonics first, fast, and only" strategy was imposed by the DfE that it mattered. Prior to that, phonics was a major tool used by EYFS teachers, but if it wasn't helping a particular child, another method could be used to help them.

And of course, it then turned out that the only phonics scheme that got approval was the one run by folks with links to the people approving the scheme.

Tech world may face huge fines if it doesn't scrub CSAM from encrypted chats

Mark #255

Re: It always starts with the kiddies....

If you don't mind me asking, what are the parents doing allowing kiddies under 15 to access the internet full stop?

In case it escaped your attention, for large swathes of 2020 and some of 2021, a significant proportion of schoolchildren needed internet access to log into their lessons.

Tuxedo Pulse G2: Linux in your lap

Mark #255

On the CPU side, the 5700U is slightly better than the 4800U (the turbo speed is 4.3 rather than 4.2 GHz); but the GPU is significantly enhanced: 1946 GFLOPs vs 1434.

But it is annoying that the 5000 series isn't exclusively Zen3 chips.

How one techie ended up paying the tab on an Apple Macintosh Plus

Mark #255

If you were coming from a "typewriter" world, you're responsible for CR/LF.

And carriage return isn't simply 0x0D, it's a huge lever, on the left of the Carriage (the part of the typewriter that contains the platen [the roller that the paper is wrapped around]).

A typist might well look on the left hand side of the keyboard for the Carriage Return, see the tab, and decide that that's the right button. Which it was, right up until it wasn't.

EU makes USB-C common charging port for most electronic devices

Mark #255

48V vs 50V

Knowing a few safety engineers, I suspect that the voltage specification is absolutely intended: if your device is going to operate at 50V and supply 5A, it absolutely ought to be undergoing safety testing.

(As an aside, CE safety standards derive from the IEC, and national deviations tend to arise from historical differences)

Mark #255

Re: The BS 546 Brexit connector next

Evidently, your CVD is quite mild.

Traffic lights significantly don't rely on colour alone: red is at the top, green is at the bottom.

I'm also red/green deficient, and red/green LEDs are indistinguishable for me: I didn't even realise that the battery chargers* had them. And I've surprised a number of people at work, asking them to check on the colour of a wire sleeve so I don't solder my electronics wrong.

* If you're designing/specifying a status LED for a charger, do what Nikon, and DeWalt, (and many others), do, and have a slow blink signifying charging, and steady to show it's finished.

Mark #255

Re: The BS 546 Brexit connector next

One in twelve men have defects on the X chromosome which manifest in colour vision deficiencies (red/green anomalous vision being the most common of these)

For women, it's around one in two hundred.

Scribble to app: Microsoft's Power Apps VP talks us through 'Express design'

Mark #255


whether that lifespan is six months or six years?

Six years seems awfully unambitious.

And what happens when your now-business-critical apps don't work on version n+1 of the cloudy framework? Or the cost outstrips the benefit? How does one transition to a competitor's stack?

Sick of Windows but can't afford a Mac? Consult our cynic's guide to desktop Linux

Mark #255

Re: Control Your Own Upgrades

Me, personally, I would not be happy *at all* if I had to reinstall my OS from scratch every year or two; I would regard that as an unacceptable cost of ownership, even of something free.

Absolutely. My two* Ubuntu installs are on 18.04; when 22.04.1 comes out in autumn, and that LTS is considered stable enough to offer it up to people wanting to upgrade from 20.04, that is when I'll be gritting my teeth and upgrading.

* One of them started out running on an AMD Athlon II X2-270, and had a tablecloth-pulling upgrade to Ryzen; the desktop background for the other has a stylised Pangolin.

And why no get_off_my_lawn.png icon?

Thinnet cables are no match for director's morning workout

Mark #255

Re: Oh My!

having endured, for many years, a much less sophisticated set-up (i.e. applications by email, then phoning on the day to actually get the number switched over, making sure you were plugging into a telephony rather than a LAN socket), we were absolutely gobsmacked when we found that the new phones knew what their number was, and to keep your number when your desk was rearranged (always by TPTB), you just plugged *your* phone into a new LAN socket (any! socket!)

Microsoft, Apple, Google accelerate push to eliminate passwords

Mark #255

coping with device loss - print out this A4 sheet of random codes and keep it safe

I've recently begun enabling 2FA on a couple of accounts, and, while some bits are quite whizzy (point your phone at the QR code - woo), the recommended steps for ensuring you can still get into your account if your Authenticating Device is lost/stolen/rendered obsolete are somewhere on the "no normal person is going to do this" scale (I do fully accept that I'm not normal).

"Here's a bunch of codes: print them out and keep them safe" seems no more workable than "write the password on the back of an old business card and keep it in the box-o'-passwords"

Your software doesn't work when my PC is in 'O' mode

Mark #255

Re: Oh...

I was recently looking in bewilderment at a bag labelled "SdIZ", until I opened it up and found a bunch of zips inside...

You can buy a company. You can buy a product. Common sense? Trickier

Mark #255

Re: repossessions

When we were discussing a remortgage (~10 years ago) with a building society, we asked about the huge hike in interest rates above 70-80% loan-to-value, and were told that, in the event of a repossession, the building society would not expect more than that to be realised due to desperate soon-to-be-evictees stripping the house bare.

Buying a USB adapter: Pennies. Knowing where to stick it: Priceless

Mark #255

Re: The Old Engineer and the Hammer

Earlier this week, I read this Smithsonian Magazine article about Steinmetz, which includes the same story (with slightly different numbers).

Definitely worth a read with a relaxing post-work beverage

The month I worked for DEADHEAD: Yes, that was their job title

Mark #255

Re: junk-food punnet of chips and gravy with cheese

Our local chippy uses white paper (newspaper-style, but unprinted), with a single sheet of greaseproof paper under the battered fish to stop it sticking.

Mind you, this is Yorkshire, so you can expect fish'n'chips to be wrapped correctly