* Posts by Alan Lewis 1

26 posts • joined 13 Jun 2009

Binary dinosaur drive found alive and breathing fire

Alan Lewis 1

I still have these working

Commodore PET with 8250 disk drives

TRS-80, expansion interface, external disk drive

Video Genie (EG3003) with expansion

All in the loft and working, although the Genie's tape deck is out of alignment.

Zen Internet has an original PET (yes, PET, not CBM), though iirc it is inop

Alan Lewis 1

BBC Domesday book

As I underastand it, the laser disks are physically fine, but there is nothing available to read them!

I haven't googled this yet -going off a memory of something I recall reading in c2005/2006, but the issue was the laserdisk player used custom code, so the few players available [even then] were unable to be used. In addition, a BBC Master 128 was required to run read them...

Must google and see what the outcome was. I seem to remember a BBC spokesperson commenting that much of the project involved recreating the content from scratch...

It's the oldest working Seagate drive in the UK

Alan Lewis 1

60GB in 2001?

" I've even got an old 60G GXP from the deathstar era (that had failed in a friends PC) which after a firmware upgrade is still working well 10 years later."

Some mistake, surely? In 2001 the largest drives were in the 15Gb range - the IBM Deskstars. I had four of them in a RAID0 on an Abit board. No failures, eventually sold the system. You wouldn't have gotten a 60Gb drive until back end 2002/early 2003.

That said, I never had a problem with the deskstars, and believe that the root cause lay elsewhere in the system (iirc we discussed this either on 2cpu or Ars and came to a conclusion that it wasn't the drive per se)

Godson: China shuns US silicon with faux x86 superchip

Alan Lewis 1


I want one. I have no idea what I will do with it - well, I do; multiple simultaneous VMs with a physical dual-core per VM running Linux, WinXP and Win7 - with the 32bit variants ready to fire up instantly - just in case. All in one box. :-)

And bragging rights.

Apple under siege: Antitrust probes and product delays ...

Alan Lewis 1

And he's not alone

All the young people I know -second hand through my step-daughter - have ditched iPhone and moved to crackberries. She isn't a teenager, she's a 23yr old nurse, her friends work in hairdressers, beauty salons, etc, and they and their customers migrated away from iPhone.

Its no indicator, sure, but says a lot.

UK tech retailers are rubbish

Alan Lewis 1

Even cheaper here

Ahem - and you


Price: £0.37

And 534 reviews that say much the same thing

"There's absolutely no difference in quality between this, extremely well priced one, and the over priced ones that the oh-so-convincing sales reps might convince you that you need."

"I've compared them with a friends M*nster brand cable and THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE IN PICTURE QUALITY!!! "

Labour moots using speed cameras to reward law-abiding drivers

Alan Lewis 1

Ahh, the VRN recognition system :-)

@bazza I was the IT manager for the company that developed the original character recognition software, for the AA. Most of the developers were under-grads/post-grads, and when it became known that the software was being given to the Police.... the reaction was 'interesting' to say the least. What was funny at the time was being flashed by the trail system, on the M40 - the large black sign at the "south" end flashing "J* *** and the vehicle speed"... :-)

Skype's mega-FAIL: exec cops to cause

Alan Lewis 1

And probably have been...

After all, Skype has been about since, oh, May 2003 if memory serves me right.

Back then I recommended a certain large telco bought the technology, and add IPt-PSTN gateway, central directory servers, and so forth. And proper destruction testing - something teleco's *do* do right insofar as voice is concerned. The SVP Global Product Management blocked the suggestion. 18months later I had an email from the CEO regretting that decision :-)

Wikileaks' DNS pulls plug, citing collateral DDoS damage

Alan Lewis 1

Maybe not the USA,

There is another nation state that not only has the capability and the political will to do so, but has also demonstrated it's national cyberspace capabilities; China.

Both China and Russia could launch such an assault, for any number of reasons, none of which are to do with the leaks per-se. For example, to test capability, to test resolve, to probe other nation's ability to track the attack source (and whether that would be resolved). And the fact that teh USA would be 'guessed' as behind the attack would be a not unwelcome bonus.

The benefit is not always obvious...

Ofcom slaps down ham botherer

Alan Lewis 1

@Fr Barry

"...a dedicated network of operators who train and liaise with their local emergency services. In the event of some disaster (tsunami, earthquake etc) when power has been lost"

Um, so how do you power your Yaesu or Kenwood when power has been lost... ;-)

Anti-bullying charity demands more laws on cyber-bullying

Alan Lewis 1

Think of the children

Because today is a good day to release such news, eh.

Tory councillor arrested over 'stoning to death' tweet

Alan Lewis 1

Oh for gods sakes

"...of course it was an offensive and stupid thing to say..." Since when? Offensive to whom?

I find it amazing that Hamza can encourage the beheading of white Christians, call for Jihad, etc, and not be arrested at the time. But tweet in obvious jest, and be arrested.

And before the luvvies pipe up, please consider this about the PC brigade: Harriet Harman, so long preaching 'rights', 'correctness', 'equality', in public uses the phrase "ginger rodent" to refer to a political opponent.

Unisons response is deafening. Why has she not been suspended from the party? Dual standards at play again, as her "apology" was obviously sincere.

Maybe it simply wasnt a good day to release bad news...

Plods scrap crap stealth spy blimp

Alan Lewis 1

A shame

Shame, as it was actually a good idea. A very good idea. Unlike South Cheshire plod, who bought a fixed wing aircraft....

Googlenet traffic now 6% of interwebs

Alan Lewis 1

@Tim Jenkins

I googled "How long before they go self aware?!?" and the only result was your post....

Maybe it is already, and self-censoring


Cinema iPhone pirate escapes jail in test case appeal

Alan Lewis 1

Custodial sentence????

Of course, this crime of using a mobile phone to record a cinema film is far, far more severe that using a phone to record the assault and abuse of a 17yr old:

"... Jack Bolton, Andrew Griffin, and Nathan Marshall (all with previous criminal records) who used a mobile phone to film themselves carrying out depraved assaults on their 17-year-old victim. The terrified teenager – who suffers from Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism – was also pelted with dog mess, had his limbs scratched with sandpaper and was forced to drink vodka and gin until he passed out.

Mobile phone footage showed the yobs laughing and joking as they made him endure other abuse and, in a final humiliating assault, they applied adhesive tape to his genital area before ripping the tape off. Judge Jonathan Geake imposed three-month curfews on them and ordered them to carry out 80 hours’ unpaid community work as ‘an intensive alternative to custody’. When exactly did it become acceptable for a non-custodial sentence to be handed out to people like these?"

80hrs community service in total for torture and assault. ... thats even less than for flogging copied DVDs at the local car boot (120hrs, £1000 fine, confiscation of car, computer equipment).

WTF is "justice" in this country?

ACS:Law's mocking of 4chan could cost it £500k

Alan Lewis 1

Small company

Possibly because ACS is a very small firm, and 'outsourced' almost everything. It has one solicitor (Andrew); it rents serviced office space (is there any other option in London?!); apparently uses a contractor for IT support on an ad-hoc basis; and makes extensive use of paralegals (par for the course) and bought in temp staff to cope with additional workload. Incidentally, a majority of the staff appear to work from home - so, UK managers, see, it can be done ;-)

But soooooo glad this happened...

Smart meters pose hacker kill-switch risk, warn boffins

Alan Lewis 1

is it really about metering?

Perhaps the devil is in the detail, the comment about "managing demand at peak times". A couple of years ago there were news stories that projections suggested that the UK would face an energy shortage around 2015, when a number of nuclear power stations would be decommissioned.

As a country, we haven't addressed that yet. And it would appear that the utility companies are not prepared to crash build several new fossil powered stations, and neither administration was/is prepared to invest in nuclear (Labour ran down and then disbanded our expertise in nuclear technology, iirc, in 2005?).

It would not suprise me if the real driver behind remote meters is to micro-manage the supply to consumers and/or areas. For example, rather then cut all power to a given post code are (or sub-station footprint), to 'throttle' the power available to consumers in a given area, to throttle/cut-off power to a given consumer profile, or to throttle/cut-off power to residential customers only.

California's 'Zero Energy House' is actually massive fossil hog

Alan Lewis 1

REAS took language lessons from the ASA

...after all, if "unlimited" means limited, throttled, and capped.. then it's a simple step to redefining "zero"... which marketeers have already done in the UK anyway!

Jobsian drones shackle gamer with 'lifetime' iPad ban

Alan Lewis 1

Seller is NOT obligated to sell...

"f you are in a retail business you can't refuse a sale and the exact displayed price in cash.

You can't in most countries in the world.

Something that is for sale MUST have a price displayed and CAN'T be denied sale at least against cash.

You can't offer a product at your whims and likes or dislike of the customers.

And that's good."

In the UK, you can do precisely just that. A shopkeeper, retailer, supermarket, etc has no legal requirement to sell anything to anyone. They can simply refuse to sell anyone anything, without giving a reason. The price is an "invitation to treat", in other words, you do have the right to offer a different sum to the marked price.

There is no more obligation for the seller to sell than there is for the customer to buy.

Guy Kewney, pioneer, guru, friend - RIP

Alan Lewis 1

A great loss.

Like many others, my introduction to Guy was through PCW. Articles and photos such as 'Applying his head to micro-computer design', or the worlds first and foremost review of the Commodore Amiga in 1985.

Somehow, probably via Cix, I met Guy in 1997; he was always eager to meet industry professionals, and at the time I was responsible for BAT's UK IT/network. We'd meet up and have a couple of beers whenever I was in London. It was simply awesome to pop into the office, and meet Guy in shorts and sandals. He was also genuinely interested in my limited [extremely limited!] 'journalistic' career; I'd had a few articles published by ICPUG and Amiga User International in the early-to-mid 90's. We' would meet up several times, discussing industry trends and the challenges at the coalface, until I moved north in 2000. When I was with GX I always /meant/ to give him a shout whenever I was 'down south', and now bitterly regret I didn't.

So long Guy, thanks for the inspiration.

Wide-eyed kiddies in Scarface school play shocker

Alan Lewis 1

When I were lad

get a life.... when we were young we played "Nazi Concentration Death Camp", which involved strangling a member of the opposite sex. Lord knows why. We were about 7 at the time.

We progressed... to playing "war". Which involved being commandos, pilots (running around with arms outstretched like a plane), alpine ski troops (a sort of ski-ing motion), and the like. We all died brutal bloody deaths from machine gun fire, bombs, grenades, slashed throats. And we machine-gunned pilots who baled out, suspended from parachutes. We'd stuff an arm inside a sleeve to imitate losing a limb to some imagined gory wound. WW2 was barely 30 years before, and most of the teachers has lived through it. They didn't exactly complain about the re-enactment of the Blitz, or the firebombing of Coventry.

Because they knew we were kids, and guess what, unless an adult tells them different, it means naff all to them and is forgotten about... 10mins later will be reading Commando or Warlord, or playing cowboys and Indians and taking scalps ;-) or picking teams for football - and avoiding the fat kid who cant play (but who doesn't go on to become a social misfit, but instead gets on with life!)

But tell a kid thats its "wrong", "sick", "unacceptable" and you'll screw them up.

Tories may scrap IR35 tax rules for contractors

Alan Lewis 1

IR35 planned...


You may remember the newsphoto's of GB settling in as Chancellor, back in 1998, with a pair of large (for then) 19" LCD monitors.

The IT equipment was installed by contractors, who as IT people do, started "talking up" contracting to the in-party permies. And mentioned the tax avoidance that LTD Co contracting bought. Another chapter in the genesis of IR35; NuLabour's inherent, instinctive, policy of hate and spitefulness.

@Pro-IR35 advocates. Ltd Co contracting enabled individuals to minimise their tax position, and maximise their take-home pay. The process is called tax AVOIDANCE, and is perfectly legal. You might find it morally wrong, but its simply good accounting. Tax avoidance is not just legal from the perspective of accounting rules, but also enshrined in legal precedence, when a Judge announced that no man can be compelled to pay a penny more to the state in tax than the absolute minimum. I recommend looking at

Lord Tomlin in IRC v Duke of Westminster, 1936

Lord Clyde, Ayrshire Pullman Motor Services & Ritchie v CIR ((1929) 14 TC 754)

Commissioner v. Newman, 159 F.2d 848 (2d Cir. 1947)

Lord Summer, The Commissioners of Inland Revenue v Fisher’s Executors. (1924-26) 10 TC 302

Four broadly similar statements, all embedding in law the legal principle that tax avoidance is perfectly legal.

Of course, Labour doesnt agree - if you listen carefully to some of the rhetoric over the last two years when ministers have spoken on the subject (eg bank bonuses, increased taxation), they use the word 'avoidance' deliberately, ie "tax avoidance is wrong" rather than "tax evasion is wrong".

And tax evasion is. Evasion - ie not declaring income is evasion (cash in hand work, for example).

Dell servers block un-Dell HDDs

Alan Lewis 1

I'm with Dell

The reason being, its slightly more than the firmware.

Its actually the drives in question. Dell hard drives are the enterprise versions of the OEM drives. Have a look at the various tech forums a 12-18months ago, people buying the cheaper "desktop" 1TB WD drives, putting them in RAID arrays, and the drives - more often than not - failing.

The manufacturer had two disctinct sub-classes in the product line, one for the single-drive 'array' desktop market, one for the business/RAID market. And the two were incompatible.

Only Dell know the number of times a service call has, at its root cause, a 3rd party desktop drive. And perhaps this has driven the decision.

As for reflashing a non-Dell drive with Dell firmware... first of all you need to get the Dell server to recognise the non-Dell controller card (SCSI/SAS/SATA/RAID), as I have tried just this, admittedly something slightly different. I have several short-stroked disks (low-level formatted to significantly less than capacy) supplied to replace some years-old drives that were still under extended warranty, but no longer available. Trying to get the OEM firmware is a nightmare. However, I do have the equivalent Dell full-capacity firmware issued on a maintenance/update disk. However, the Dell controller will not talk to the non-Dell disks, a non-Dell controller will, but the Dell server will not talk to the non-Dell controller. And the firmware update tool will not run on a non-Dell computer...

Its a cahllenge, is all!

BT's giant new faster broadband boxes blocked

Alan Lewis 1

@Jasmine Strong

"Because your router doesn't have to handle...oh, fifty subscribers worth of pirate movies and pornography."

Oh less of the piracy/porno attitude. High speed subscriber access is needed for many reasons, not least the increase in the number of simultaneous connections per household. Wherease 10 years ago it was just one, its now likely to be 3, and with the growth in IP video services and the number of Tvs shipping with ethernet and pre-programmed internet content retriveal, will increase further. Whats more, whereas in the past content has been sub-broadcast quality and at SD or less, 720 and 1080 HD services are available. Except in the UK, where even ADSL2 is insufficient to guarantee faultless viewing, of a single channel with no other inernet access. Add another family member wanting to watch another channel, and the demands grow.

And of course BT will increase backhaul capacity to match. Not. The current infrastructure cannot cope with the demands of the current <8mb service (avg 3.5mb). What hope it would cope with, the current number of subscribers at 40Mb, let alone 100Mb, or god help BT an increase in access bandwidth *and* an increase the customer base.

Oz cops in Taser fatality

Alan Lewis 1

@Bolatr - really? Think again,

@Boltar - er, really? Think again. The police have trawled forums looking for "evidence", and it has been accepted by the judicary as evidential.

And if you are one of these people who insist on a "link" - google for it. Pistonheads is a good place to start.

Ever wonder why the Govt wants all all network usage recorded? To simplify the search process. Ever hear of Coppers Blog? The assorted mid-england police forces went to extraordinary attempts to identify the blogger.

The authorities can and do search net postings. Its one of the easiest methods of "policing" there is. They can and do identify - or attempt to - posters. And if this doesnt worry you, then consider exatcly what the criteria is to be considered a "person of interest"... *anything* that is critical of the police, their methods, or the Govt... Or simply knowing or having any form of contact with a person with a criminal record (who is a current subject of interest).

And yes, I am already a person - or potential person - of interest.


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