* Posts by Neil 44

143 posts • joined 17 Jun 2009


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...

Shocker: UK smart meter rollout is crap, late and £500m over budget

Neil 44

Re: Not so smart!

A number of years ago I had a tangential involvement with the communication to smart meters....

One scenario the were looking at was the control of a second output from the meter that could be turned off remotely. The idea being that a house could have non-critical circuits connected to that output so that they could be turned off for a short period to cover for spikes in demand (the "make a cuppa in the ad-break in Corrie" scenario). The sort of things that might be connected to that output would be the immersion or other forms of heating where you wouldn't miss it for the duration of an ad-break...

The idea was a discounted tariff if you used the 2nd output as you would be "load shedding" when required.

Not having a smart meter, I don't know if these second terminals have been implemented!

US and UK Amazon workers get a wage hike – maybe they'll go to the movies, by themselves

Neil 44

Living wage?


says "A salary of £51,200 is needed to "afford" to rent a one-bed London home."

A story of M, a failed retailer: We'll give you a clue – it rhymes with Charlie Chaplin

Neil 44

Re: Ironic, isn't it?

I thought Maplin always had a store in Westcliffe-on-sea in addition to the mail order - they certainly did by about 1977 when I used to go there...

Fork it! Google fined €4.34bn over Android, has 90 days to behave

Neil 44

Re: Choice on Apple?

Having done a little research, it looks like:


You can change default search engine

You can change default browser (and the defaults for most other types of content)

Yes, you may have the google apps installed, but you're not forced to use them.


You can change the default search engine

You CANNOT change the default browser - you can open things in other browsers from Safari, but not you have to initially use Safari to view pages

Apple are one of the largest single manufacturers of phones - shouldn't it be a level playing field?

If manufacturers of phones that use Android don't want to use Google Search / Chrome / ... its pretty simple to configure the phone not to use them by default (unless its in their contract to use them - I've never seen the contract!)

Obviously, all the Android-using phones that are in the supply chain (really anything after design!) won't be compliant with the EU ruling - and many non-Google phones will never get a software upgrade to fix the situation even if Google / Android release it...

Neil 44

Choice on Apple?

Not ever having owned one, do you get a choice of browser / search engine / .... at first use time on Apple devices?

Are they next in EU's sights? I suspect they should be...

Crunch time: Maplin in talks to sell the business

Neil 44

Re: It's done

Used to find an excuse to walk round to Maplin in Westcliffe in the late 70s when visiting my girlfriend's (now wife!) mother... Was always an interesting place to wander around...

Cirkit used to be at the end of the road I lived in in Acton (or was it Ambit at the time?). There's a Cirkit multimeter on the table next to me at the moment!

It's been 50 years since those damn dirty apes took the planet by storm

Neil 44

I'll just leave this here...


for those that remember Gerald


Well done, UK.gov. You hit superfast broadband target (by handing almost the entire project to BT)

Neil 44

Re: Exchange-only lines?

@Joel 1

Trouble is that at over a mile from the exchange, VDSL(as used from the cabinet to the house) will be slower than regular ADSL2+ - so we'd be no better off than are at the moment....

It does work if you're close to the exchange though, I agree

Neil 44

Exchange-only lines?

I don't know how many lines are "exchange only" (XO) but AFAIK there are no plans for anything faster than regular broadband for these (we get a tardy 6Mbs...)

We don't have anything BT Openreach recognise as a cabinet (it seems our concrete pillar doesn't count...) so its a bit more than a mile to the exchange.

This situation exists everywhere - town and country alike - and there's still no plan that will actually work...

A million UK homes still get crappy broadband speeds, groans Ofcom

Neil 44

People are managing it...

... as Gigaclear are in many rural areas round here (just not ours, that is stuck with BT!)

Why BT can't even manage to get a decent solution to their "Exchange only" lines that are more the 1/2 mile from the exchange is also beyond me (and the solution of "putting a cabinet in the exchange" won;t work as ADSL2 gives better performance than VDSL over the distance)..

I'd love to get faster than 6Mbs...

BOFH: The trouble with, er, windows installs

Neil 44

Re: Over reliance on Windows...

But they are Open Source - or is it Open Destination?

Credit insurance tightens for geek shack Maplin Electronics

Neil 44

Re: You cant have it both ways

I'm pretty sure Maplin always had one retail store - in Westcliffe-on-sea in Essex.. (Just around the corner from where my Mother-in-law lived - so an excuse to visit ...)

You may not have noticed, but 'superfast' broadband is available to 94% of Blighty

Neil 44

Exchange Only (XO) lines are completely forgotten

We're about 1 mile from the exchange (as the cables run) and are serviced by a "Pillar" (an octagonal concrete thing that contains all the telephone interconnects for the village - apparently they are quite rare nowadays).

Openreach deem us to be "Exchange Only" - so we get 6Mbs at best and no prospect of fibre. They talk about "putting a cabinet at the exchange" - but at a mile away, VDSL wouldn't give any better speed than ADSL2+ does so that's pointless.. They need a better solution!

Maybe if they connected one of the fibres that goes through the underground cabinet to a box on the surface connected to our pillar... But that's just a dream

I'm sure we're not alone on XO lines and I'd like to know if any of the much touted government money is going to actually help us - though I doubt it as I expect its already been trousered...

Patch your Android, peeps, it has up to 14 nasty flaws to flog

Neil 44

Why? The Oreo images are out there on the Google servers for your use...

Nexus Root Kit will flash them for you (you don't have to be rooted - it'll just flash the factory images) - though you do have to download the file yourself. I'll flash in "no wipe" mode.

Microsoft totters from time machine clutching Windows 10 Workstation

Neil 44

AMD Operton?

Just out of curiosity, what's an AMD Operton ???

Did you mean AMD Opteron?

America 'will ban carry-on laptops on flights from UK, Europe to US'

Neil 44

Encrypted container on cloud storage?

Store your data in an encrypted (VeraCrypt) container and stuff that onto the cloud storage...

BOFH: This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back

Neil 44


Nice to see an attempt at referencing Adventure's "YOU ARE IN A MAZE OF TWISTY LITTLE PASSAGES, ALL ALIKE" with "maze of twisting passages all seemingly alike" - so close...

Phew! Chrome to warn when you watch insecure smut

Neil 44

Letsencrypt availability

One of the best ways to encourage the use of HTTPS would be for hosting companies to permit the use of cost-effective (i.e. free - like Letsencrypt!) certificates rather than (like 123-reg do) insisting customers purchase certificates from them at a premium prices.

At least some virtual hosting environments (like BlueOnyx) are encouraging the use of free but full featured certificates and manage them automatically

Yee-hacked! Fired Texan sysadmin goes rogue, trashes boot business

Neil 44

A new word for the Texans...

... BACKUP !!!

What he did resulted in something similar to a disaster recovery - wouldn't they have been in the same boat if there had been a fire / flood / lightening strike / tornado / rogue lot of steers .... ?

Ofcom pressuring BT to slash wholesale prices for superfast broadband

Neil 44

Re: When can I pay less for a data only line?

Or use an IP phone? Common in the US of A...

Neil 44


What is this strange fibre of which you speak?

Its a fable to those of us with Exchange Only lines....

SpaceX wows world with a ho-hum launch of a reused rocket, landing it on a tiny boring barge

Neil 44

Re: The first reusable?

~680 tonnes of hydrogen/oxygen in the main tank

~450 tonnes of solid rocket fuel per SRB

So that's ~1130 tonnes that can't be recycled as it has burnt!

That means that 900 tonnes aren't burnt - so its about a 1/3 that got reused. I seem to remember the bit that didn't was the aux fuel tank...

(why do NASA quote everything in lbs so I have to convert to tonnes?!)

I do agree that the design of the SRBs was suspect - as was shown when one failed. But like much of the early space stuff, it was very much seat of the pants design!

Neil 44

Re: The first reusable?

Didn't they refurbish the solid rocket boosters too?


Neil 44

The first reusable?

""This mission is the fundamental key demonstration that our technology is capable for reflight," said SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell. "No one has ever done this before." "

Didn't someone called NASA have something called a Shuttle back in 1981 that was mostly reusable?

WONTFIX: No patch for Windows Server 2003 IIS critical bug – Microsoft

Neil 44


Wasn't the Trump organisation still running 2003?


'Trash-80' escapes the dustbin of history with new TRS-80 emulator

Neil 44

Our first home computer too...

TRS80 Model 1 with an expansion box and 2x 5.25 floppy disks... Bought it second hand in about 1980...

Added a Disk Doubler, purchased from the US to go from 80kB to 160kB per disk! (though you never left the SuperUtility+ disk far away in case you had to mend a disk! Became very adept at mending errors...)

Even built and added a serial board to talk to Compu$erve through an acoustic coupler later! (which was actually the means of getting stuff OFF the system later!)

I remember putting all the (48k!) RAM into the main box which greatly improved the reliability so it wasn't sending data and address signals over the interconnect cable... Also seem to remember putting a Z80A into it and increasing the clock speed (double?)

I was always impressed that it WAS modifiable and mendable! Mainly plug-in for anything significant and regular 74LSxx (might not have been LS!) for everything else.

Scripsit: yes, we used that (PhD thesis) : disassembled it, altered it (print simple graphics / greek letters with an IDS Microprism dot matrix printer and various other improvements). Later connected it to a daisywheel to print the real thing out multiple times.

Also doodled up a BASIC program (OK, it ran with compiled BASIC...) that analysed signal sequences (really analysis of strings of letters!) for DNA that provided the data for a published scientific paper that has become somewhat seminal: it has over 700 citations! Embarrassed to show the "back of fag packet" design when someone from New York wanted a copy - had to tart it up a bit and add some comments :O

Had it running until the 90s when finally we finally got an IBM-style PC to run DOS and WordPerfect...

Think its all still up in the loft...

Nostalgia isn't what it used to be :)

Smart meter firm EDMI asked UK for £7m to change a single component

Neil 44

Re: Sore misgivings

The other one that gets them is terraced houses where the water supply comes to one end of the terrace from the road and then links (usually the back of ) the houses....

The drains often do the same

Neil 44

Re: Really smart meter?

or not buy Hotpoint, Indesit, Creda, Swan or Proline Tumble Dryers....

Neil 44

Re: Really smart meter? - Washing machines.

Ebac are now doing British-made hot and cold fill machines! (yes, I've got one and its working well - using my solar-heated hot water right now!)

Uber: Please don't give our London drivers English tests. You can work out the reason why

Neil 44

Re: Please do this TfL. @MyffyW


Treacle (Tart) = Sweetheart (apparently!)

EE unveils sky domination plans with drones, balloons

Neil 44

How long before they enhance the incident...?

... by driving off with the mast up and take out power/telecom/.... lines?

(very few of this sort of vehicle has any sort of interlock to stop them driving off :) )

Incidentally, how will they manage backhaul in these "very remote" areas? Can they have a chain of the trucks providing links back to the main network? (I'm thinking of remote Scottish areas...)

BTW can we have one permanently parked round here to provide us with 4G?



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