* Posts by Mark #255

339 posts • joined 11 Jun 2009


Keep it clean you lot: Samsung's created a hand-washing app for its wearables

Mark #255

Even I can see the problem here...

"If users find themselves washing their hands before their next scheduled reminder alarm, users can just tap the ‘Wash now’ button before washing their hands to disable the upcoming alarm.

So the user can tap on the screen with an unclean finger, and interact with their watch after washing, to transfer the grot back to their hands? (And viruses remain active longer on hard surfaces.)

No more installing Microsoft's Chromium-centered Edge by hand: Windows 10 will do it for you automatically

Mark #255

Same old tactics

I went to check if I'd been supplied with the new Edge yet.

Instead I found that it had "helpfully" "forgotten":

  • to "never ask again" whether it should become my default browser
  • to not display the ads show "my" feed on the Starting tab
  • to make new tabs blank, rather than being full of ads displaying "my" feed

... so I'm not going to be using it to browse, since it can't respect my preferences.

Barmy ban on businesses, Brits based in Blighty bearing or buying .eu domains is back: Cut-off date is Jan 1, 2021

Mark #255

Lies, damn lies, and ...

The numbers of UK-based .eu domains are surely better contextualised if the reader is told how many there are in total: is ~300k domains a drop in the .eu ocean, most of it, or about what you'd expect, given the sizes of the UK and the EU?

So, I went and searched for the appropriate number, and according to the latest EURid report, there are 3.7 million registered domain names in .eu, as of March 2019.

Raspberry Pi Foundation serves up an 8GB slice of mini-computing goodness

Mark #255

Re: What happened to the Pi Zero W?

Yes, I got one last week from them, along with a HifiBerry DAC+ Zero, for a music player.

Railway cables overpowered errant drone's compass and flung it back to terra firma

Mark #255

Re: low voltage

Actually, you don't want electronics anywhere near an active electric railway line - overhead or third-rail.

This is generally true.

It's also true that modern railway signalling systems are chock-full of electronics, and tend to be sited Really Quite Close (TM) to the rails.

So while you wouldn't want to, you find that if required, solutions are available.

UK finds itself almost alone with centralized virus contact-tracing app that probably won't work well, asks for your location, may be illegal

Mark #255

Re: "will only work in the way the UK government claims it will if everyone does what it says"

And England totally won the English Civil War.

Work from home surge may work in Wi-Fi 6's favour, reckons analyst house

Mark #255

Re: I'm happy my work machine at home are all connected to 1Gb Ethernet network through cables...

I came here to post something very similar: a length of Cat5e between your router and your desk will give much higher bandwidth.

And it leaves the aether free to connect those mobile/LAN-socket-free devices (alternatively, free to get cut off by the microwave oven you're using to reheat your lunch).

Europe publishes draft rules for coronavirus contact-tracing app development, on a relaxed schedule

Mark #255

Re: I like what I read in this article

It will be very useful for the second wave following the relaxation of lockdown, and for Covid-20, Covid-21, Covid-22...

Cloudflare outage caused by techie pulling out the wrong cables

Mark #255

Re: Cables with labels on

Also not so great if a new engineer has colour vision deficiency. One in 12 men have some form of CVD.

Real-time tragedy: Dumb deletion leaves librarian red-faced and fails to nix teenage kicks on the school network

Mark #255

Re: Similar

This brings back long-suppressed memories of reinstalling a DC's HDD, which was serving a small research group in my Physics department, all done on a shoestring budget.

All the data had been copied off, but NT 4 could recognise a fresh install, and all the trust relationships would get b0rked.

So I brought in a frankenPC from home, installed NT4 Server on it, made it backup DC, then promoted it to Primary DC (taking much longer to do than to type).

Then came the reinstall on the actual server, with an actual Server licence, and the backup DC/promotion dance once more.

It was definitely beer o'clock by I'd finished that.

Absolutely everyone loves video conferencing these days. Some perhaps a bit too much

Mark #255

Re: Paris...

This one time, I was working a few days on the outskirts of Paris. The works canteen was not quite Michelin-starred, but definitely a cut above everything else of that ilk.

Another time, I had three days' teaching in Monaco (well, Cap d'Ail). Bookended with a day each side in Nice and Schipol airports. Saw nothing of the place.

Forget about those pesky closures, Windows 10 has an important message for you

Mark #255

Re: "Windows has long been the specialist "

Windows cannot rest on its laurels, though.

My Moto G5 was complaining of insufficient storage space, and suggested I could clear the cache of a few apps. One of the suggested apps was Messages (which sends and receives SMSs).

Messages had amassed around 900MB of cache files, and I still can't fathom how or why it could store so much ephemera. I mean, the cache isn't sent/received messages, it's just, well, I don't know

Surprise! Plans for a Brexit version of the EU's Galileo have been delayed

Mark #255

Re: Can't we just...

I believe the Russians boosted GLONASS usage by making it a legal requirement that any GNSS receiver sold in the country had to be able to use GLONASS. Globalised manufacturing did the rest.

Ofcom measured UK's 5G radiation and found that, no, it won't give you cancer

Mark #255

Re: "rise in cancer"

Implicit in the phrase "rise in cancer" is diagnosis.

Also, Cancer Research's figures show that the incidence of cancer in the young is vanishingly small, so a massive-sounding 45% increase gives you... 37 cases per 100,000 per year, for females aged 20-24.

For comparison, female cancer incidence rates peak at 2257 per 100,000 per year (85-89 years old), and for men its 3522 per 100,000 per year (again 85-89 years old).

The biggest cause of deaths related to mobile phones remains misuse in proximity to vehicles.

Tech can endure the most inhospitable environments: Space, underwater, down t'pit... even hairdressers

Mark #255

Re: Cement Dust and Storemen

In computer vision circles, this is known as the "B8 problem".

(One of the first problems tackled was OCRing postal addresses - it's an issue either way through the human-computer interface)

BOFH: Darn Windows 7. It's totally why we need a £1k graphics card for a business computer

Mark #255

Re: Keyboards

I got a Natural keyboard with a work PC, and found it was really good. When I left (4 years later), I was allowed to take it with me ('cos no one else wanted to use it), and it did sterling service for many years at home, until some arsehole spilt orange squash into it.

But yes, for a long time, Intellimice were the absolute cats' pyjamas.

Microsoft: 14 January patch was the last for Windows 7. Also Microsoft: Actually...

Mark #255

Local Windows logon

I've set up a number of PCs with an MS account*, and there's the option to set up a (local-only) PIN, which allegedly never leaves the machine. There's a tickbox (or possibly a Registry key/Group Policy object) to allow PINs to contain letters.

* The way I've done it is to have the MS account as admin, then the actually-used user accounts are local, and non-privileged. The bonus is that UAC prompts require a password, so you're forced to stop and think, and other family members can't just click through and get pwned.

Intel server chip shortages continue to bite: HPE warns of Xeon processor supply drought for the whole of 2020

Mark #255

Re: It takes a lot longer to qualify servers

Just before Christmas, at my org, a missive from Purchasing/IT was sent round to the effect that new desktop/laptops would be constrained due to the Intel shortage (effectively 8-week lead time).

There is, evidently, a size of organisation which is big enough to pre-select (and enforce) "blessed" SKUs, but too small to quickly pivot to a readily-available alternative.

Which is annoying, 'cos I'd quite like a Ryzen laptop.

Google reveals new schedule for 'phasing out support for Chrome Apps across all operating systems'

Mark #255

Re: So, Google is pulling a Microsoft ?

Both users are absolutely livid about the entire episode.

Tea tipplers are more likely to live longer, healthier lives than you triple venti pumpkin-syrup soy-milk latte-swilling fiends

Mark #255

Re: Unfortunately,

A tisane, perhaps; an infusion even[...]

Also known as Marxist Tea (or, if you're surrounded by sufficiently well-read people, Proudhon Tea).

Because proper tea is theft.

(It's the one with the Centrist Dads' Jokes book in the pocket.)

GSMA report: Sorry, handset makers, 5G is not going to save the smartphone market

Mark #255

Re: Financing the Cell Companies

When getting lost in the middle of a mountain, with no data, at low battery, on foot and getting dark, Having a backup options in case the map app isn't working is great.

Preparation is all.

Printed maps are great for spreading over a table to plan a walk, but I much prefer a small, water-resistant phone running Osmand (with the contour lines plugin), and the appropriate maps preloaded. The USB battery to recharge the phone is kept in the bottom of my rucksack, next to the silvered bivvy-bag.

Beset by lawsuits over poor security protections, Ring rolls out 'privacy dashboard' for its creepy surveillance cams, immediately takes heat

Mark #255

Re: At WhitePines...

...it still required some level of intelligence on your part and a degree of skill/knowledge to use that "safe plug" in a safe way.

Which is why the The Plugs and Sockets etc. (Safety) Regulations 1994 made it illegal to sell mains-powered consumer products in the UK without a wired plug.

Train-knackering software design blunder discovered after lightning sparked Thameslink megadelay

Mark #255

Re: and basically impossible to test for.

How do they manage frequency variation? SFC?

Smart speaker maker Sonos takes heat for deliberately bricking older kit with 'Trade Up' plan

Mark #255

Re: Remote bricking

The steps followed to brick "Recycle" the device require local access to it; but the resulting block is also held centrally, so you can't factory-reset a device and revive it.

And now for this evening's space weather report. We've got a hotspot of satellite-wrecking 'killer electrons' in the outer Van Allen belt...

Mark #255

Re: Don't worry kids

"And if you can reuse the [craft], it's a great landing"

GlaxoSmithKline ditches IR35 contractors: Go PAYE or go home

Mark #255


If they don't delay, then the promise was nothing short of an arrogant and disingenuous move to secure votes

...I think the icon says everything needed to respond to this.

Google Chrome will check for leaked credentials every time you sign in anywhere

Mark #255

Firefox FTW

The Firefox "Logins & Passwords" item has had a rather nice revamp recently.

It gives the following warning:

Passwords were leaked or stolen from this web site since you last updated your login details. Change your password to protect your account. Learn more about this breach

in a nice yellow box.

Remember the Dutch kid who stuck his finger in a dam to save the village? Here's the IT equivalent

Mark #255

Re: From Experience (and In Hindsight)...

is also available on various *nixes to make sure you're remotely shutting down the machine you think you are.

A little product renaming here, a little RISC-V magic there, some extra performance, and voila – Imagination's 10th-gen PowerVR is born

Mark #255

And driver support?

Twice I've had PowerVR chips in my machines:

  • a Matrox m3D which only had drivers for Windows 98
  • An eeePC (1101HA to be exact), which had abysmal graphics performance under Linux because the Intel chipset incorporated Imagination silicon, and they wouldn't/couldn't release accelerated drivers for linux

...so I might give these a wide berth

WinUI and WinRT: Official modern Windows API now universal thanks to WebAssembly

Mark #255

Deja vu all over again

The last time round ("XAML is the future"), I tried to implement an interface in the super-dooper new paradigm.

It didn't have a date-time picker/display, and it didn't have a Chart control.

I don't have time to find replacements for controls that existed in WinForms, or to re-implement them.

So if WinUI 3.0 is to become an actual replacement, it needs to have 100% coverage of the previous controls.

Otherwise, (and speaking as someone who still has a set of VC++6 CDs in a cupboard), I'll just hang on to a Visual Studio version which does build what I want it to. I suspect I'm not alone.

The UK's Civil Aviation Authority asked drone orgs to email fliers' data in an Excel spreadsheet

Mark #255

Re: loophole?

I realise no-one actually makes it straightforward to actually read the legislation (even the CAA don't link to it), but SI 2018 No 623 does refer properly to drone mass.

Samsung on fridge cert error: Someone tried to view 'unsavoury content' in middle of John Lewis

Mark #255

Re: Wi-Fi for all!

When our Youview box developed terminal issues, BT sent out an engineer to fix it (with a new one, it turned out).

They were most perplexed to find that the cable leading from the router was grey, but the cable into the Youview box was black. ("Did you splice the cables?" "No, that's a patch cable to the Cat 5 socket down there, which runs to a bank in the understairs cupboard next to the switch. Behind the TV are two more Cat 5 sockets, for the HTPC and the Youview box"...)

Comprehension dawned, but they still had to test with their own cable running directly between the two.

Lies, damn lies, and KPIs: Let's not fix the formula until we have someone else to blame

Mark #255

Re: KPIs are insensitive

In the problem space where the implementer doesn't know everything you do, is it their fault when they fail to read your mind correctly infer the 'correct' implementation which matches the complete model, or is it yours for relying on (unspecified) assumptions?

(Icon because I realise the tone of this is rather provocative)

Mark #255

Re: KPIs

Indeed, the (possibly apocryphal/exaggerated) canonical example being that of Soviet nail factories; their output being measured by a single, simple metric of either "number of nails" or "mass of nails" produced, and producing either millions of tiny tacks, or tons of railroad spikes, respectively.

Now on Amazon Prime: The Amazing Shrinking UK Tax Burden

Mark #255



When you play the game of Big Spendy Thrones, nobody wins – your crap chair just goes missing

Mark #255

I am Spartacus!

HP boss: Intel shortages are steering our suited customers to buy AMD

Mark #255

Re: AMD is cool again

I have a 8 year old Dell box which is still capable for daily office tasks without the CPU cores ever getting maxed out.

It's not the CPU that's the bottleneck in my 8 year old Dell box, it's the memory and spinning rust. The HDD I could fix (1 TB SSDs are just over £100 from Crucial), but the memory is almost maxed out (6GB of a maximum 8), so it would be a sticking plaster at best; and thanks to our IT set-up it's just simpler to fix it with a new one.

The Year Of Linux On The Desktop – at last! Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 brings the Linux kernel into Windows

Mark #255

Re: But why?


You are aware that Dell and Lenovo have people whose sole raison d'être is to faff with Windows?

Mark #255

Re: But why?

My Poe's Law detector may be malfunctioning, but, "what came from the shop" was installed and setup (I hesitate to include "properly", because that may easily be untrue).

A Windows PC you've bought from a shop doesn't need that faffery because someone has faffed with it, before you saw it.

Loose Women woman's IR35 win deals another high-profile blow to UK taxman's grip on rules

Mark #255

Re: Everything

All hail Douglas Adams:

"Because if they didn't vote for a lizard," said Ford, "the wrong lizard might get in."

Bit nippy, is it? Hive smart home users find themselves tweaking thermostat BY HAND

Mark #255

Frost protection...

The system I have (installed 2004) has the boiler in the loft, and inputs for frost protection; the one in use is a pipe thermometer, fitted just before the boiler inlet.

Even if you switch the timer into holiday or "off" modes, the system will still protect itself from freezing.

Packet switching pickle prompts potential pecuniary problems

Mark #255

Not in the same league, but...

I had an Orange San Francisco, on a PAYG contract.

After some time (2-3 years), they announced changes to the billing of mobile data, so there was effectively a daily connection charge, of 30-50p or thereabouts.

And my phone (which had mobile data switched off), suddenly had daily mobile data charges (WTF!), with individual transfers of ~100 bytes.

I narrowed it down to using GPS (I had offline maps); and it turned out that it was the A-GPS data which was the cause.

And their snotty response of "you'll have to ask the phone manufacturer for details of switching off A-GPS requests" was met with a "well, as it's an ORANGE San Francisco, that's what I am doing *". They had to admit they didn't know.

I asked for a PAC shortly after.

* Yes, yes, ZTE blah blah whevs.

UK Ministry of Justice: Surprise! We tested out biometric tech in prisons and 'visitors' with drugs up their bums ran away

Mark #255

Re: Is it just me ?

To add my own anecdote, the ones at Stansted would not recognise me until I removed my glasses.

Hang on, is that how Clark Kent manages to keep his secret? Is Lois Lane an android?

Bored bloke takes control of British Army 'psyops' unit's Twitter

Mark #255

Re: "We have always been at war with Eastasia"

As anyone who's read Good Omens knows, that was just the almighty messing about with the Pleistocene.

Oh Snapd! Gimme-root-now security bug lets miscreants sock it to your Ubuntu boxes

Mark #255

Re: Am I Sam Beckett?

The BBC iplayer site, on Linux, requires flash, as I re-found out when doing a fresh install a couple of months ago.

Cop films chap on body-worn cam because he 'complains about cops a lot'. Chap complains

Mark #255

This thread is reminding me of the old saw about "security" services' investigations always requiring three officers: One who can read, one who can write, and a heavy to keep an eye on the two dangerous intellectuals.

Google faces another GDPR probe – this time in the land of meatballs and flat-pack furniture

Mark #255

Re: Go Get Em GDPR...

What? Are you suggesting that those well known historians Andersson, Ulvaeus, Fältskog, and Lyngstad were peddling fake news back in 1974?

Where to implant my employee microchip? I have the ideal location

Mark #255

Re: Poor Reliability.. better idea

[...] These lines match the number 6 [...]

Yeah, erm, no: because the encoding for each digit is actually 7 stripes wide, so "6" isn't "two narrow black lines", it's:

  • "black-white-black-white-white-white-white", or
  • "white-white-white-white-black-white-black", or
  • "white-black-white-black-black-black-black"

There's three encodings for the other digits, too, then a way of encoding the first digit (in EAN-13) by swapping between encodings for the first 6 digits.

Barcode scanners work out which way round the barcode is by attempting to decode it: there's only one correct way.

I want to buy a coffee with an app – how hard can it be?

Mark #255

User Hostility

A smartphone app which ties up to a real person, and can monitor which shop you're in (and when) sounds like solidly useful customer data.

If the app is so convoluted that a vast proportion of potential marks give up trying to access the benefits, that sounds like a win for the app owner.

Especially as many ex-users are likely to never uninstall the app, so it can continue surreptitiously slurping the data (with explicit user consent).

Trebles all round!

(Yeah, never attribute to malice and all that, but in our office we're convinced that the shiny web-based expenses thing newly foisted on us is designed to make you want to give up 'cos it was only a couple of quid...)

Now that's a dodgy Giza: Eggheads claim Great Pyramid can focus electromagnetic waves

Mark #255

Re: I have no idea if it works, because I've got a beard

It's quite clever, that page. You've got a supposedly sceptical author, a reasonably well-written story, the appeal to (anonymous) authority who spouts some erudite-sounding bollocks.

The best bit is that the link to the net-file for your own cardboard pyramid is broken. So if you were mildly interested in this, you give up at this point, but are left with the miasma of "pyramids sharpen razor-blades" hanging in your sub-conscious. But if you really want to try, you give it a go, but does it fail because (a) it's all bollocks, or (b) because you built your pyramid wrong?

8/10 Well constructed hoax.



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