* Posts by Mark #255

437 posts • joined 11 Jun 2009


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.

Tough news for Apple as 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

The first step to data privacy is admitting you have a problem, Google

Mark #255

Re: "Google knows what every byte of that data is, and what it's used for"

This statement again, assumes good faith (and as a post some distance above states, it's about setting the terms of the discussion).

Because, of course, the (hypothetically in-good-faith) data-hoovering behemoth has had teams of lawyers and technical experts plough through the various classes of data they collect, and has systematically categorised every data-point collected. Otherwise, they'd be breaking the law...

How not to attract a WSL (or any) engineer

Mark #255

Re: This process is widespread at Canonical

Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Austen all used "they" in the singular.

You can dislike the usage, but the "bad grammar" label for this was invented by Victorian grammarians (the same ones who decided that split infinitives were something up with which we should not put).

Mark #255

Jazz and improvisation

It's interesting that you believe that Jazz implies improvisation.

I played in several jazz bands and big bands from High School into uni (aged 13-20), and improvisation was rare; there was a greater expectation in the university groups, but one could get by only ever playing notes already written.

New Windows 11 build boasts inbox updates and UI tweaks

Mark #255

Stuffed Toy admin account

The MS account used to admin our Windows PCs is in the name of our faithful IKEA rabbit, and we have local (and un-elevated) accounts for actual use.

NB: net user /add is useful to get round the increasingly restrictive UI methods for local accounts.

For powershell addicts, New-LocalUser is useful, but then you need Add-LocalGroupMember to add them to the Users group (so they actually appear in the login list - this took me far too long to work out).

Why Nvidia sees a future in software and services: Recurring revenue

Mark #255

Re: Funny how all the big guys think they can turn their hardware into a subscription service

"Well, actually": in the UK it is a Car Tax, or Vehicle Excise Duty (which permits you to use the specified vehicle on the public highway), rather than a Road Tax (the Road Fund Licence hasn't existed for decades).

We have redundancy, we have batteries, what could possibly go wrong?

Mark #255

Risks of testing your systems

I was told this by a risk assessment specialist (on a project that was building railway stations).

Fire alarm systems get tested periodically, but if there's an integrated sprinkler system, you obviously don't want to actually cover the building in water. So, there's a diverter valve (or several), which can be set to channel the water to a test outlet, enabling a test of the active parts of the alarm-plus-sprinklers.

And the interesting risk here is that there's a non-zero chance that after the test, someone forgets to re-divert the output back to the actual sprinklers!

BOFH: Gaming rig for your home office? Yeah right

Mark #255

3D acceleration

I remember (20+ years ago) that our research group all had "gaming" graphics cards installed in our workstations to provide the required OpenGL support for the 3D visualisation I'd written.

I recall that we "soak-tested" (your honour) all the machines with a group session of Quake 3 Arena.

Proprietary neural tech you had surgically implanted? Parts shortage

Mark #255


Having "I'll be back!" as my shut-down tone struck me as hilarious back then.

Back in the pre-smartphone days, when the usual means of adding a custom ringtone was via premium-rate scam-line, I was rather pleased when I managed to upload a clip of Blondie's "Hanging on the Telephone" onto my wife's mobile phone.

Canonical puts out last update to Ubuntu 20.04 before 22.04

Mark #255

Lazy sysadmins of the world, unite

This reminds me, this autumn I'll have to roll my 18.04.5 systems up to 22.04.1

If I remember rightly, when I went from 14.04 to 18.04 I found it easiest to bounce through 16.04.

Still way less hassle than a Windows upgrade (what do you mean, you want sound AND better than 800x600 screen resolution?)

Users complain of missing data in UK wills search service

Mark #255

of rude words...

I vividly remember listening to the Mary Whitehouse Experience, doing "The Swearing Experience", and Steve Punt saying,

Now, I can say the word felch on the radio, because it's on a swearing frequency so high that Mary Whitehouse can't hear it. I can't tell you what it means, but if any listeners are aware of its meaning, can I recommend you buy a bottle of mouthwash...

Food for thought on the return to the office

Mark #255

Fresh milk!

At my office, the most notable bugbear surrounding the Big Return has been the absence of fresh milk for tea/coffee.

It turns out that this is rather more vexing than might be considered reasonable.


Amazon, Visa strike global truce on credit card charges

Mark #255

Re: 1.5%??

In the UK, the credit card company is jointly liable for all goods and services costing between £100 & £30,000; I'm guessing that the companies don't selflessly absorb the cost of doing this.

Microsoft Teams unable to send and receive calls for some after update

Mark #255

Re: "Microsoft Teams is running normally"

this is a change, then: previously each (per-user) installation on a computer had to be updated independently; and the only way to initiate it was from within Teams.

No, I've not read the screen. Your software must be rubbish

Mark #255

Re: reversing around corners

You have just dislodged a memory of a time long past:

The Renault 5 of my driving instructor had a couple of small dots stuck to the rear windscreen, especially for reversing. One was for parallel parking (reverse into space until this dot meets the kerb), the other for reversing around a corner (keep dot aligned on kerb).

Mark #255

A colleague had similar issues, which we eventually tracked down to the old, replaced keyboard still plugged in and shoved down the side of the tower

Mark #255

Message boxes

My coding background is in scientific analysis software; keeping a log of every action taken is vital to the users.

Early on in my coding, I began making sure this log was visible on the screen (as well as being saved). Any data file being created would get a log entry, along with any errors or warnings.

A listbox object, together with a simple function to timestamp messages, is the minimum you need

When forgetting to set a password for root is the least of your woes

Mark #255

Re: Nobody told me I wasn't allowed to do it.

I think you might be conflating episodes.

The quote is from "Ipswich", when the staff of MJN Air are having their CAA recertification (and are never in their plane)

Software guy smashes through the Somebody Else's Problem field to save the day

Mark #255

Dodgy connection

Obviously not in the same league, but I once spent a couple of hours trying to get my laptop plugged into the big meeting room screen. But my HDMI cable seemed dodgy (which was odd, because I'd used it elsewhere without issue). Tried another, and another (by this point I'm "borrowing" them from vacant screens in the office outside). Some just don't work, others drop the connection every few seconds.

Eventually, I realised that the HDMI cable between my laptop and the wall socket was not the only one, and checked behind the screen to find one of the plugs of the other cable wasn't fully seated.

Then I just had to return all the borrowed cables...

JavaScript dev deliberately screws up own popular npm packages to make a point of some sort

Mark #255

Re: "taking control of someone else's property"

The author hasn't lost his code; it's still on his machine.

He then uploaded it to somebody else's computer, under the terms of an agreement that he'd previously clicked "Yes" (or possibly "whevs", but still, he clicked).

If he's broken the terms of that agreement, then Github deciding to roll-back one of the repos that they serve to commit n-1 seems reasonable.

Mozilla founder blasts browser maker for accepting 'planet incinerating' cryptocurrency donations

Mark #255

"But what's a watt-hour worth?"

I was wondering how these numbers translate into something I've got an intuitive feel for, and decided that heating up water for tea might be it.

That (new, improved, if-it-ever-actually-happens) proof-of-stake transaction cost of 126 kJ would heat 377ml of water from 20°C to 100°C, to make a fairly large mug of tea.

The 5.4kJ to process a Visa transaction would heat up 15.7 ml, to make a tablespoon of tea.

OK, boomer? Gen-X-ers, elder millennials most likely to name their cars, says DVLA

Mark #255

Like you, we used to give our cars names based on their registration.

So, we had Woo-car (the plate began WOO - I was 2 years old when we got it!), but also Helga, Jove, Bob, and Xena.

Unfortunately, neither of our current cars' registrations are conducive to being named :-(

Apple wins Epic court ruling: Devs will pay up for now as legal case churns on

Mark #255

Re: Dramatically overhaul the app store?

Also, given that they're having to do the exact same thing in South Korea, I'm slightly worried about the competence of their programmers if this is taking so long.

Do not try this at home: Man spends $5,000 on a 48TB Raspberry Pi storage server

Mark #255

Re: The engineering gospel

Obviously, the engineering challenge is to make the thing large enough to accommodate all the unwanteds in one go.

Never mind the latency, look at the throughput.

Web trust dies in darkness: Hidden Certificate Authorities undermine public crypto infrastructure

Mark #255

It isn't simply that the roots are hidden, it's that there's no straightforward way to audit how any given root got there, or how secure the process that led to its installation.

And that's just the roots with a claim to legitimacy. The malware is particularly worrying.

Two non-Gtk Linux desktops have put out new versions

Mark #255

Re: Variety is the Spice of Life...

And yet they happily just suck it up every time Windows goes over a cliff?

You say that, but I can apparently build a new application, in 2021, with a Windows toolkit I was using in 1998.

Waterfox: A Firefox fork that could teach Mozilla a lesson

Mark #255

Re: Forks are a sign of success.

* Ability to turn off javascript - Use NoScript?

You could even try the very tiny JavaScript Toggle On and Off extension

Apple to let reader apps steer users towards out-of-App-Store purchasing following Japanese watchdog probe

Mark #255

This is about the likes of Kindle, Audible, Tolino, Storytel, Nextory, BookBeat etc.

Maybe even Kobo, purveyors of eReaders and eBooks?

Owned by Japanese company Rakuten, who also offer a streaming video service.

One wonders why the JFTC would be getting involved...

Mark #255

My first thought, on reading the involvement of the JFTC, was that this must be about Rakuten/Kobo.

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

Mark #255

If it's not used, see if you can disable the TPM in the bios?



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