* Posts by Neil 44

174 publicly visible posts • joined 17 Jun 2009


Voyager 1 regains sanity after engineers patch around problematic memory

Neil 44

Re: Difficult to comprehend that...

Not sure what the processor(s) will be, but many of that generation (I'm thinking Z80, as that's what I learnt) traded "jump" space with functionality. Eg, the Z80 had a JR instruction was 2 bytes and could jump +-128 bytes. Whereas the JP instruction took 3 bytes - but could jump anywhere in the 64kb address space.

JR was your friend if you had either limited memory or code that needed to relocate as it didn't contain an absolute address

US senator wants to put the brakes on Chinese EVs

Neil 44

It has been reported that there are spare parts problems with some of the Chinese-made vehicles - to the extent that insurance companies are not wanting to insure them!


But the vehicles knowing usage and reporting back to who knows whom might be an issue in some countries - what is sauce for Huawei is sauce for BYD too...

BOFH: So you want more boardroom tech that no one knows how to use

Neil 44

Re: Oh yeah !

The only board members who would survive would be those who don't have phones that do wireless charging... (Or those who don't have mobile phones full stop!)

EU users can't update 3rd party iOS apps if abroad too long

Neil 44

Re: Who are their lawyers?

I believe people born on the island of Ireland or who are first generation descendants of people born on the island of Ireland are automatically Irish citizens. They can apply for a passport proving that they are.

Second generation of people born on the island of Ireland can apply to be Irish citizens. I can't remember if their parents have to have claimed their passports for their application.

My mother-in-law was born in Ireland and my other half has claimed her Irish passport a couple of years ago in addition to her British one - so now she uses whichever is the more convenient!

The Land Before Linux: Let's talk about the Unix desktops

Neil 44

Even Microsoft had a UNIX!

Don't forget Xenix - which was a System III. We did have one machine that ran it...

Personality, I cut my teeth on Edition VII then System V on Interdata/Perkin Elmer/Concurrent minis rather than desktops. Then Masscomp came into the fold with more desktops running RTU ((Real Time Unix) which was a System V / BSD blend as far as superstructure

British railway system is getting another excuse for delays – solar storms

Neil 44

Re: "constructed digital models"

I'm sure, with appropriate negotiation and some funding, they could do a real-world test on one of the heritage railways that have reasonable lengths of line...

(it probably wouldn't be safety critical either as the signals and points are usually controlled by people rather than automation on heritage railways!)

Share your 2024 tech forecasts (wrong answers only) to win a terrible sweater

Neil 44

The Register ....

.... is upgraded / rebranded to The Register-64

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman's ejection sparks theories as odd as some ChatGPT output

Neil 44

According to ChatGPT, he's still in post

I asked gptchatly . com (which is ChatGPT without signing in)

"Who is Sam Altman"

and got back:

"Sam Altman is an entrepreneur, investor, and the CEO of OpenAI."

I suppose 2 out of 3 ain't bad...

3D printer purchases could require background checks under proposed law

Neil 44

Feeding the 2nd hand or grey market?

Will sellers of second-hand kit (eg eBay or its advertisers) have to perform these background checks?

Will the checks have to made by a seller in, say, New Jersey before they send a kit of parts for a 3D printer to an address in New York? Lots of people in that area do "inter-state" shopping often because of the variations in sales taxes...

IBM says GenAI can convert that old COBOL code to Java for you

Neil 44


I remember the first C++ environments: the C++ *Pre-processor* took your C++ code and "generated" C code which could then be compiled.

The C code wasn't "human readable"

I'm imagining what the Java generated will look like and how non-maintainable it will be!

Neil 44


I seem to remember that ALTER was an implementation of what became GO TO .... DEPENDING ON .... on most later platforms.

Even that will be a challenge to convert!!

Maybe if my pension fund is a little short I should go back to my first profession : COBOL Programmer!

BOFH: You can be replaced by a robot or get your carbon footprint below Big Dave's

Neil 44

Nothing new here!

Jeremy Bentham (d1832) has been attending University College, London meetings for ages....

See https://www.amusingplanet.com/2018/08/the-skeleton-of-jeremy-bentham.html

Dialup-era developer writes ChatGPT client for Windows 3.1

Neil 44

Remembering a long time ago - pre-PC era - to the TRS-80, there was DrossDos which tended to be insulting: https://willus.com/trs80/?-a+1+-p+2330+-f+4

A toast to being in the right place at the right time

Neil 44

Re: He's toast


BOFH: Good news, everyone – we're in the sausage business

Neil 44

No AI already

I'm surprised that they haven't already got AI in the office....

- detect someone being escorted towards a high window

- erase all the CCTV and other movements within the building automatically

- automatically open the window so as to not leave pesky fingerprints

- call the cleanup crew

The future of digital healthcare could be a two-metre USB cable

Neil 44

We get texts with links from our medical centre to join video consults.... Call it back from the phone and use the phone's cameras

I've also used #LiveDroid on my phone to be a handy wireless IP camera...

Ford in reverse gear over AM radio removal after Congress threatens action

Neil 44

Re: The only question remaining is ...

I seem to remember (also many years ago) driving Anchorage to (almost - got to North Pole!) Fairbanks and could hit seek and not finding any AM stations either!!

Hey Siri, use this ultrasound attack to disarm a smart-home system

Neil 44

Access from outside?

Could you play "unlock door" to an ultrasonic transducer stuck onto a window so that people in the room wouldn't know the door was unlocked?

Seems a bit risky because I guess even a normal speaker set so that it would vibrate the glass to transmit sound would make a door very vulnerable

Ford seeks patent for cars that ditch you if payments missed

Neil 44

John Dear Tractors...

.... stolen from Ukraine spring to mind

What you need to know about the real-time capable edition of Ubuntu 22.04

Neil 44

Nothing new in "Real Time" Unix...

... Massachusetts Computer Corporation (Masscomp) (later merged with Concurrent Computer Corp) had it in the early 1980s on 68k hardware.... ("RTU" - which was a System V derivative)

New research aims to analyze how widespread COBOL is

Neil 44

Re: it lives!

To be fair to MicroFocus' Cobol, it could be configured at compile/run time to support a number of different dialects - in some of which the syntax of verbs were different!

Neil 44

The first 3 lines and the last were all optional!

Twenty years on, command-line virus scanner ClamAV puts out version 1

Neil 44

Re: It's on VirusTotal

There's a whole world of "experimental" signature sets for ClamAV - some of which VirusTotal may be using

BOFH and the case of the disappearing teaspoons

Neil 44

The Baldric trajectory of intelligence...

Neil 44

There has been research on missing teaspoons...



AI detects 20,000 hidden taxable swimming pools in France, netting €10m

Neil 44

Solar pool cover

You can get solar blankets for pools that are black (they are usually blue...) - that ought to fool the AI!

Fibre broadband uptake in UK lags behind OECD countries

Neil 44

Re: It's all about cost

Do you pay a "line rental" on top of that?

My FTTP is £26 in total all in with Vodafone with a static IP and a landline number....

Neil 44

Re: It's of no interest to me.

We have noticed it when we have been trying to have 2x Zoom/Teams/Skype/Webex/... calls at the same time for work/volunteering/etc. My wife has spent A LOT of time on Teams calls for work in the last 2 years

Up to now I've had to schedule round her meetings or participate on Zoom by phoning in (stopping my phone using WiFi). A single video-capable call uses 0.4 - 0.7Mbs upload and that's all we had and even then it wasn't very reliable.

Neil 44

5G is unlikely to ever reach rural areas!

Neil 44

Emergency phone connections....

Something that has come up locally is the inability of FTTP to support an emergency phone in the event of a power cut...

The area in question is in a valley and doesn't get mobile coverage (on any network) reliably - so that isn't a reliable alternative.

There are stories that "someone" - don't know if it is the fibre provider or the phone service provider - has to provide a battery-backed solution (that's assuming that the fibre hasn't broken as well!), but I've not seen any evidence of it...

(I admit our new ONT and router are both plugged into a UPS which will keep them running for a few hours!)

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cumbria-59564480 has reported the issue in the North East with Storm Arwen

Neil 44

Re: Doh!

We have an "XO" phone line, so no fibre to the cabinet as the exchange is about a mile away - but we have just had FTTP installed by OpenReach : so much better than 6Mbs/0.5Mbs!

Only problem has been keeping our 25-year old phone number (Vodafone sales got it wrong and suggested getting a new number then porting the old to the line when its all working - which technically they can't manage to do) - but changing numbers will drop all the spam calls about our solar panels, insulation, domestic appliance insurance etc (not to mention unexpected internet activity being flagged up!)

I started the project for the 42 premises involved in October 2020. We had the relevant number signed up by the end of Jan 2021 with vouchers issued. OpenReach came and strung the fibre between the poles and dug up the drives of the 3 houses that were fed underground by direct buried cables (including mine!) and a section of the verge to connect up a couple of poles that were again fed by direct-buried feeder... Just after Christmas they were pretty much finished (give or take one rotten pole that still hasn't been replaced - so the people off that pole still can't order!) and we could order. Order placed and installed and working on 20Jan2022.

Not sure how the grant situation will play out as I'm pretty sure there were 2x voucher holders served by the "still not working" pole. It does have the fibre distribution hubs tied to the bottom of it, so at least when they replace the pole, it'll all be installed and good to go

Nobody cares about DAB radio – so let's force it onto smart speakers, suggests UK govt review

Neil 44

Re: Dab is dead

Thumbs up for the iRiver H320 - Rockboxed?

(I think the CF disk replacement in mine has fallen out of its carrier - must get around to taking it apart and fixing it!)

Neil 44

Re: UKGov Nonsense as usual

Along with Caroline, North Sea International you mean? Or do you mean BBC Radio London?

Neil 44

No RDS equivalent on DAB(+)

The think they missed completely on DAB is an equivalent for RDS - which is particularly useful in cars with its TA feature to switch you to a local station for Traffic News.

DAB radios in cars pretend to have this, but they are using the FM tuner to listen for it... So, no FM, no TAs

Hacking the computer with wirewraps and soldering irons: Just fix the issues as they come up, right?

Neil 44


The Interdata machines (later Perkin Elmer Data Systems, then Concurrent Computer Corp) came with a quite capable real-time operating system called OS/32 (there was an OS/16, but I don't think the 7/32s could run it). Various people used it for its "real time" attributes.

The assembler was very similar to IBM's BAL (it was called CAL!)

Much of the operating system was actually written in C...

Edition VII Unix got ported to the 8/32 range (from what I remember!) then System 5 to the later models.

Wire wrapping was routing the interrupt lines round the expansion boards you had installed in the right order (Racu-Tacu - not sure of the spelling but it's how it sounded!)

At one time I ended up working on a "peephole optimiser" to optimise the output of the C compiler (which was very much "template" so had lots of repeated/wasted instructions!) - it made a BIG difference and ensured I was proficient in CAL (the optimiser was written in CAL too!)

Boston Dynamics spends months training its Atlas robots to perform one minute of parkour almost perfectly

Neil 44

Ninja Warrior (America/UK/Australia)?

Maybe they need to enter it for Ninja Warrior in one of the countries?

eg https://www.nbc.com/american-ninja-warrior

European Commission redacts AstraZeneca vaccine contract – but forgets to wipe the bookmarks tab

Neil 44

Re: To what do I owe this pleasure?

I believe that, if you read the Oxford trial Patient Information Sheets (that are out there on their website), you'll see that "faecal samples" may also be requested for people on their trial testing positive too.

Neil 44

Re: And the EU still can't understand why the UK left.

I believe that the Sanofi - Glaxo vaccine trial has been aborted because it didn't work well enough. (https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/sanofi-gsk-covid-vaccine-trials-b1769865.html)

Its also going to get more difficult to run large scale trials now that vaccines are being licensed: if there is a licensed vaccine in a country, it is unethical to give 1/2 your trial participants "not a vaccine" (beit placebo or another vaccine - eg the meningitis vaccine the Oxford team used in the UK arms of the trial)

Certainly growing and producing the Oxford/AZ vaccine isn't "simple" as it requires growing cells that have complex requirements (you can find out about the process by looking at the various publications on the ChAdOx vector that have been published over the years). It probably isn't something all of the "traditional" vaccine makers have the environment to do . BUT the places that CAN make it are getting better at it. The Serum Institute of India are also working on it ) and are the biggest maker of vaccines in the world - they are focusing on India to start with (https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/health/serum-institute-of-india-to-focus-on-supplying-covid-19-vaccine-to-india-first/article33163262.ece)

Super-antique-fragile-and-it's-XP-alidocious, even though the sight of it is something quite atrocious

Neil 44

Re: Windows XP is still around in many places.

All this "modern" stuff...

I sometimes have to do (usually electrical or mechanical) fixes on a pair of industrial washing machines (each about the size of a small bedroom!).

One runs Windows 95 and the other Windows 98.

They are not connected to a network and the OS / application is on an SSD...

Help! My printer won't print no matter how much I shout at it!

Neil 44

Line printers were the most fun!

You could play tunes on them.... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lu4SxJqU9I4

As the world descends into madness, it's good to see some things never change: Monthly Android patches

Neil 44

Re: Wish I could update


PS Don't try to install the "Stock" Gapps, go for "Full" if you get a choice (or less if you don't need/want some of the Google apps...) - you don't need the Pixel launcher and it probably won't work!

Mainframe madness as the snowflakes take control – and the on-duty operator hasn't a clue how to stop the blizzard

Neil 44

Re: Xerox mainframe

There was an SDS (Scientific Data Systems) "mini" in Imperial College Computing labs in the late 1970s. Tried to get it to work, but it wouldn't boot properly and we couldn't figure out which bit of hardware was broken...

Analogue radio given 10-year stay of execution as the UK U-turns on DAB digital future

Neil 44

Re: Radio 4 LW?

The successor to Teleswitch is, of course, 2G Phone services - lots of "Smart" meters only work on 2G. Came across a problem with one we were using in a trial in eastern Brighton - where they'd redeployed all the 2G facilities in the local cells to 4G and there were no 2G signals at all.

No surprise: Britain ditches central database model for virus contact-tracing apps in favour of Apple-Google API

Neil 44

Re: If it has cost £108M that is more than the vaccine development program!

Yes. And IF it doesn't work (which I really hope it does!), AZ are proceeding at risk and won't get paid by anyone else. No government money goes to them...

They have also said they will sell it "at cost" for the duration of the pandemic - they're gambling that they are going to make their money when the pandemic is over and people need a booster ever 1,2,5,... years (it isn't known how long the antibodies will last yet, obviously, for a new vaccine!).

Neil 44

If it has cost £108M that is more than the vaccine development program!

... which is completely ridiculous for a (relatively) small software project...

(The government has given the Oxford vaccine group £20M to do the trials - OK Astrazenica are putting some money in now for the later phases particularly outside the UK and ramping up the production trials but still nowhere near another £88M)

Surprise surprise! Hostile states are hacking coronavirus vaccine research, warn UK and USA intelligence

Neil 44

Re: We're talking medical research, not nuclear launch codes.

>> If ChAdOx1 works, AstraZeneca have stated they'll produce it at cost.


AFTER the epidemic they can make money (though I suspect they'll still have to pay a license fee as they won't own it)

Windows 7 back in black as holdouts report wallpaper-stripping shenanigans

Neil 44

Re: yes, yes...

Try Open-Shell / Open-Shell-Menu (Was ClassicShell) for a start interface without tiles...

SanDisk's iXpand Wireless Charger is the unholy lovechild of a Qi mat and a flash drive

Neil 44

More than one phone?

Will it back up more than one phone?

If you have more than one compatible phone in the house, can it back them up separately?

July is here – and so are the latest Android security fixes. Plenty of critical updates for all

Neil 44

Re: If only

No security patches on 8.1 on Nexus 5x since December - so not that wonderful...