* Posts by Hairy Scary

34 posts • joined 17 Jun 2009

US Air Force shows off latest all-electric flying car, says it 'might seem straight out of a Hollywood movie'

Hairy Scary

Re: Everything old is new again!!

Here's the home made version :-)


Ofcom waves DAB radio licences under local broadcasters' noses as FM switchoff debate smoulders again

Hairy Scary

Re: Many problems

Got the meter out and measured the current drawn by some sets, readings taken with volume down, Bush TR82 LW/MW, 8mA, General Electric AM/FM (on FM), 20mA, new Lloytron "analogue" AM/FM, 65mA, Technika FM/DAB on FM 176mA.

The reason the Lloytron is so high is that it isn't a standard AM/FM circuit, it is using a single digital chip (SDR?) as the receiver and that chip draws 60mA on it's own -- the other 5 is the audio amp chip. Oh, and the performance is crap. It struggles to receive anything on FM, AM isn't much better it belonged to a friend and wouldn't work in his area at all.

I find DAB pretty useless here, with a good FM set I can receive local stations from all over the country, the DAB set only allows me the national ones. I am in a good reception area (I can see the mast the DAB muxes come from) so should be able to get more than that. I wonder if it's down to something I read on Ofcom's site a while ago ---- DAB robustly enforces copyright, you shall not listen to a station not intended for your designated area.

How does that work? does the set actually block reception of local stations not intended for my area? I live out in the sticks so probably not in any designated area for DAB local stations -- the nearest city is 25 miles away.

It would seem stupid if that is the case as I can simply stream any station I want so how should copyright come into it on DAB?

London's top cop dismisses 'highly inaccurate or ill informed' facial-recognition critics, possibly ironically

Hairy Scary

Re: How do we combat this?

Remember the blind man that got tasered for not stopping, he didn't know they were shouting at him.


Aye always better to stop for your own health's sake.

The time PC Tools spared an aerospace techie the blushes

Hairy Scary

Ah the good old days of DOS

A very common thing back then was somebody asking if they could check a floppy, will only take a minute.

The user of the machine would normally OK this.

In went the floppy, followed by dir a:

The contents of said floppy is displayed, the owner says "good, I can get rid of that and re-use the disk" --- next command is del*.* the floppy is removed and the owner walks away thinking they now have a blank floppy, completely unaware of the trail of destruction they have just left behind. I was normally called to sort it out when the user found their machine didn't work anymore.

Of course dir a: displays the contents of the disk in a but you're still logged on to c: and any further command will be carried out on c, not a, resulting in the root of c, or whatever directory it was in when the command was executed, being wiped.

A stranger's TV went on spending spree with my Amazon account – and web giant did nothing about it for months

Hairy Scary

Re: All those precautions and 'they' left out the most obvious one

You should read the AA's terms and conditions, it states that if you cancel your direct debit they will continue to take payments from the bank account you used to set up the DD (is that legal?). You can only cancel through them, not your bank.

I was always under the impression that you could get a DD canceled by your bank but apparently not now, to be fair I have never tried to cancel my AA subscription and if I did I would certainly get in touch with the AA first then cancel with the bank, however if you cancel through them and they still take payments then there is a problem.

Devon County Council techies: WE KNOW IT WASN'T YOU!

Hairy Scary

I was called in to look at a printer in one of the offices that was sometimes making intermittent spelling mistakes in documents. The mistakes were either missing spaces, spaces within words or misspelled words.

I was handed a printout which had a couple of mistakes in it, I had a look at the original document on screen and it was perfect. Hit print and out came the document with spelling mistakes in different places this time!

Now this was at least 25 years ago, the printer was connected via a printer sharing box to a couple of PCs. The printer was tested in my workshop and proved faultless, the sharing box was replaced as were the connecting leads --- no difference, still random mistakes in some printouts.

I had noticed that the parallel lead connecting the printer to the sharing box was very long (I had had problems finding a replacement long enough to swap it out), the reason was that the printer had been moved and had needed an extra long lead to reach the box, it was longer than the recommended maximum length for parallel leads, moved the printer down closer to the sharer and used a much shorter lead --- the problem was cured. Turns out the problems had started after the printer had been moved.

I don't think you would ever get that with modern networked printers so I doubt if that would be the reason for the misteaks in the coonsils let her thoh.

US politicos wake up to danger of black-box algorithms shaping all corners of American life

Hairy Scary

Re: How is it a problem?

Insurance companies have started doing credit checks when your policy comes up for renewal, the cost of the renewal is now affected by your credit score (there's a new entry in the terms and conditions to cover this) --- even though you pay cash.

I very rarely use a credit card and if I do it's paid off at the end of the month so my credit score is probably not brilliant -- result my house insurance has gone up ---I phoned them and asked about the increase and was told that's why -- even though I have always paid by direct debit.

Car insurance companies now do this as well.

Why should a credit check affect a policy when you are paying by cash or DD ? I could see the reason if you were paying by installments over the year.

I got quotes from other companies and there wasn't much difference (since they're all doing it now) so it wasn't worth changing to another insurer.

More and more websites are mining crypto-coins in your browser to pay their bills, line pockets

Hairy Scary

Re: This post is a work of satire and should not be taken seriously

@ MonkeyCee

VAT is charged on power here in UK (has been for years) but it's only at 5% rather than the full 20%.

Sons of IoT: Bikers hack Jeeps in auto theft spree

Hairy Scary

Re: Alarms

I have had the alarm go off on my car because I locked it with the fob but when I returned to it the fob wouldn't work (the battery had died), unlocking with the key caused the alarm to go off. The way to silence it was to put the key in the ignition, turn on and wait till alarm stopped -- then you could start and drive normally.

If you lock the car with the key then you can unlock with the key and the alarm won't go off, it only happens if you lock with the fob then unlock with the key. According to the handbook this is to prevent theft using a duplicate key (because the duplicate key's fob would not have the correct code unlock the door and unlocking with the key itself will result in the alarm sounding). Mind you if the would-be thief knew enough he would simply put his duplicate key in the ignition and wait till the alarm stopped then drive off.

The car? an 8 year old Kia (don't laugh -- it's fine as a daily runner) so it's unlikely to be stolen anyway :-).

Google wants to track your phone and credit card through meatspace

Hairy Scary
Big Brother

Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

There's one retailer for garden machinery in my area that needs name, address, DOB and phone number for cash sales. When I asked why they told me that since their software was upgraded the till needs that info before processing any sale, be it cash or card! Do they really need all that info just for a simple carb service kit for a lawnmower? I could see the point if I was buying a chainsaw.

Microsoft's Windows 10 nagware goes FULL SCREEN in final push

Hairy Scary

Re: Minty?

Been using Linux for 5 years now and I will never go back to Windows.

This laptop started life with Win7 pro, the first thing I did was dual boot it with Linux Mint to see what Linux was like now (years ago I had played with Mandrake and found it OK. but a lot of software that I needed not available so was just a plaything).

The laptop gradually changed from booting into Windows with the occasional foray into Linux to booting Linux daily with the occasional foray into Windows, eventually Windows was hardly ever used.

I replaced the hard drive a couple of years ago and didn't bother dual booting, it's Mint all the way with Windows (7 and XP) living on in VMs.

One thing I found when replacing the disk was all I had to do was copy my /home partition (including hidden files) to the new drive and the new Mint install (now on 17.3) found it and used it --- all my files and program settings were there when I booted up the new install --- very useful!

Linux runs just about everything I need (some Windows only stuff under Wine) and the only program that doesn't like Wine (a program for drawing circuit diagrams) runs fine in the VM. Printer, scanner, WiFi, 3G dongle all worked no bother (printing in Linux was very hit and miss years ago)

So yes, some of us didn't go back to Windows, of course YMMV ---- Linux isn't perfect and will not work for everybody but for me it does everything I need.

Who hit you, HP Inc? 'Windows 10! It's all Windows 10's fault'

Hairy Scary

Re: Personally...

Had that problem, after installing Mint on an Acer I got the "no boot device found" message. The only thing that worked was to enable secure boot, set an admin bios password then install the keys to allow Linux to boot (the bios finds the key file in the boot partition), click yes to install it. Save and exit, reboot and Linux boots just fine.

Would probably work with an HP too.

Software, not wetware, now the cause of lousy Volvo drivers

Hairy Scary

Re: What about battery life

I wouldn't leave that car in an airport car park if I wanted it to be there when I come back so that's not an issue.

It's not a car for daily use, it's for having some fun in the summer. The user manual does also say that if it is not going to be used for some time you can switch off the battery isolator switch (if fitted -- optional extra) but you might lose a bit of performance till the ECU adjusts itself again next time you run it.

Hairy Scary

Re: What about battery life

That's exactly what I do when the open top car is off the road over winter -- the accessory socket is live with the key out and it is plugged into a solar panel on a long lead to reach outside, or in the usual crappy weather, to a charger every few days.

It does say in the makers' instruction book "If the car is not used for at least three days then connect a maintenance charger to maintain the battery" that shows just how much modern electronics drain batteries although normally it can sit unused for a week (while waiting for the rain to go off) without using a charger and still start nae bother.

Go for a spin on Record Store Day: Lifting the lid on vinyl, CD and tape

Hairy Scary

Re: Have I missed something?

Often you don't need to rip CDs, quite a lot have wav, flac, ogg and mp3 folders already on the CD (look at the CD in file manager and you will see), all you have to do is copy the folder with the format you want.

Looking at Sultans Of Swing album just now, all folders are there including one called full CD, it has the entire album in a single file in each format.

Dug out an old Hits Of The 70s one, same thing -- all formats there in folders.

I don't remember seeing this when I used Windows but certainly works using Linux, I use this often for copying talking books to my mp3 player, a lot quicker than ripping them.

Feds crack multi-million scareware ring

Hairy Scary

@ pricer

I had that problem on a friends machine, even in safe mode no exe progs would run ---- got malwarebytes installed by renaming the installer extension to .scr, once installed, renamed mbam.exe to mbam,scr -- it then ran and cleaned up the infection.

HP ProLiant power supplies 'may die when dormant'

Hairy Scary

The Most Likely Cause

Is our old friend the electrolytic capacitor. Although our servers rarely failed (they were never powered down unless for maintenance), we had lots of 2 year old desktops fail to start after holidays. They were under warranty so Dell supplied replacements for all the failed power supplies (well over a hundred of them).

I had examined one of the failed supplies and found that the cause was faulty capacitors. this is very common nowadays, the power supplies run at fairly high temperatures and when they are switched off the capacitors die when they cool down then the supply won't start when power is re-applied. In one case I started one by warming it up with a fan heater then powered it up -- got the machine running until a replacement supply was available.

I have seen the same thing in other equipment as well, sometimes after a power outage some switches would fail to power back up, the cause was faulty caps in the power supplies and I would just replace the caps with good quality high temp ones and get the thing back up and running in an hour or so. Often part of the cause was higher than normal temps in the power supply due to seized fans.

Naked at 30: Osborne 1 stripped to its chips

Hairy Scary

It's Easy To Fix

Because, as you have a vertical line, you must have EHT for the CRT which comes from the line output transformer. This means the line output stage is working, its just the line scan coils that are disconnected, that will almost certainly be a dry joint on the PCB where the scan yoke leads connect or possibly at the scan coupling capacitor or line linearity coil. It can't really be much else other than an o/c scan coupling capacitor.

How do I know this? well, the college I worked for had lots of Osbornes and I used to repair them when they broke down. Most common fault was the extension card for the double density floppies working loose (these things were carried between rooms regularly which probably explains that), next was the display which could fail to work due to dry joints at the line output transistor connections or by the vertical line due to joints as described earlier.

Once I had to make a new system rom for one (by copying a good one from another machine) as the suspect one was partly corrupt (would boot to the Osborne startup screen but would intermittantly fail to load the o/s from disk) -- that took a while to diagnose.

One other task I had to do was calibrate all the floppy drives so that disks were interchangeable between all machines -- there were quite a few that would not reliably read disks from other machines until this was done.

Most of our Osbornes worked with external monitors (to ease eyestrain on the students).

When carrying machines between rooms I always carried two at a time, that way both arms stretched by the same amount :-) happy days indeed.

Ubisoft undone by anti-DRM DDoS storm

Hairy Scary

No sympathy for Ubisoft

Last games I bought were Doom3 and Prey -- place disk in drive, wait till it installs, find and enter the serial number --- enjoy! That's he way it should be, I have never bought (and never will) any game that needs "activation" to work or needs an internet connection to stay active. The only niggle is that you need the disk in the drive to play (though he addon game to Doom3 did away with that)

I had the savegames folders copied to a backup drive so if disaster struck (hard drive failure) I could re-install and copy in the saved games.

I can re-install my games any time I like, don't need to depend on the companies activation servers still being on line to run them.

If Ubisoft ever remove the ridiculous DRM I will probably buy some of their games, till then forget it!

China's doomed attempt to hold the world to ransom

Hairy Scary

@ Steve Evans

Oh but what about phosphors for the up and coming laser TV sets sonny!!!

As you say " Technology moves on".


Ofcom talks to spook firm on filesharing snoop plan

Hairy Scary
Big Brother

@ AC 14:26

They probably wouldn't ban encryption, it is possible that they might just divert encrypted packets coming from non-business IPs to \dev\null so encrypted stuff simply won't go anywhere.

That would solve the problem of trying to decrypt anything.

Conficker smites Oxford Brookes network

Hairy Scary

@ amanfromMars 1

The file could not be read as the language interpreter could not be found.


Sony pulls plug on cabled power

Hairy Scary

@ AC 16:51

It's not down at 50Hz, it's high frequency so there will be rf interference radiated. there's nothing new in this, as other posters have said, it's high school physics.

About 40 years ago I had a setup for doing this -- I had a tungsten filament bulb with a short length of copper wire connected to it's terminals -- I would leave it sitting on the table using the copper loop as a support holding it upright. Much to peoples surprise, it would suddenly light up.

Hidden under the table was a high frequency oscillator with a purposely designed tank coil sending the output upwards, the copper wire on the bulb formed the secondary of the transformer picking up enough energy to light the bulb easily (almost to the point of burning it out).

No idea of efficiency, it was just done for a laugh, you could pick the bulb up and it would remain lit -- it would get dimmer as it was taken further away from the table though.

Small biz told to sort TV licences for PCs

Hairy Scary

Yes it is possible

To pick up signals radiated from a TV set.

Way back in the 60s I knocked up a small device with a hand held aerial. It could easily receive the radiation from the timebase circuitry in a tv from inside a car being driven along the street -- you could tell which room the set was in (the aerial was very directional) and you could tell which station was being viewed if you had a tv receiver with you to compare the timebase sync with. I was passenger in the car, not driving just in case anybody thinks I was using this thing whilst driving!

I knocked the thing up just to prove it was possible to those that said "na, it cannae be done"

Have never tried with a computer (none were around back then) so I don't know if such a device would pick up anything from a modern LCD type display -- maybe I should build another one to see if it's possible :-) .

Dell boxes VGA cable to within an inch of its life

Hairy Scary

Have To agree

With Steven Knox, the most likely cause is poor contact in the connector on the projector -- often the cause is one of the contacts being pushed back inside the connector with the result it barely makes contact hence wiggling the cable makes the colours change as the contact makes and breaks.

Blogger silences Google ads with death and destruction

Hairy Scary

Ads? I see no ads

I have always used gmail via Thunderbird -- no ads -- general browsing, Firefox with adblock+, NoScript, Request Policy and Flashblock thrown in for good measure -- no ads (unless I want them)

Simples --- yea, where's that meerkat icon o_o

Booming scareware biz raking in $34m a month

Hairy Scary


Something wrong here --- I just read, and was able to understand, a post by amanfromMars.

Apple accused of lowering cone of silence over iPod flame out

Hairy Scary

@ elderlybloke

Many years ago I witnessed an exploding electrolytic capacitor go straight through the ceiling of the workshop, it would have gone a lot farther than 10 feet if the ceiling had not been in the way. The "explosion" was caused by the capacitor "gassing" internally until the pressure blew the aluminium can off.

With the ipod all the battery had to do was produce gas pressurising the ipod casing until it ruptured turning the ipod into an irocket.

Amazon sued for sending 1984 down Orwellian memory hole

Hairy Scary
Big Brother

@ Jeffrey Nonken

If you own a Blu Ray player, yes, Sony can revoke the keys that allow your disk to play any time they like, it's done by including the necessary instructions embedded in new disks so that playing them can render a previously bought disk unplayable.

I don't know if it has ever been done though, it's just the mechanism to do it is there.

Also normal DVDs can cause problems -- I have a disk here (a freebee with a newspaper last year) when I went to play it it came up with a message "Due to copyright restrictions this disk cannot be played". WTF -- I think it was because I tried to play it in my PVR whose player is also a writer (for recording TV shows) and some kind of DRM kicked in.

Thing is, now I can't play any DVD in the player, all I get is a message telling me what region code the disk I insert has but none will play even though the region code matches the player's setting. However, TV programs can still be recorded and played.

Needless to say I haven't bought any DVDs since as I cannot play them now so DRM that behaves like that is just losing them customers.

Panasonic patches cameras to block rivals' batteries

Hairy Scary

Built In Obsolescence

One problem with this sort of thing is that Panasonic will probably discontinue the battery pack when their next camera comes out which, of course, will use a different pack. As you won't be able to get a third party pack you will either pay a fortune for a Panasonic pack (if you can get one) or bin a perfectly good camera.

There's a lot to be said for cameras that take standard AA Ni-MH cells.

It's a bit like the Lexmark printer I bought a while ago, after a year the ink cartridges started increasing in price -- they reached £50 for a black and colour and there were no third party equivalents -- I binned the printer and will never buy a Lexmark printer again. The one I have now (Epson) is only costing about £8 a set (black and three colour third party cartridges).

Oh look, shiny new icons

Don't call me Ishmael

Hairy Scary

Some More

A place I worked in had NCR tower servers named Basil, Sybil, Manuel, Polly and The Major.

That Digital Britain report in full

Hairy Scary

The Great Switch Off --- Don't Panic

Well, after reading the new article it seems my 40 year old home made AM/FM set will go on for long enough yet (+ all the others that are kicking around the house).

Hairy Scary
IT Angle

@ Len

Yes, DAB+ will be a big improvement over DAB as it is more resilient but at 64Kbit it will not be as good as FM listened to on a good quality Hi Fi system.

I have encoded a high quality source to MPEG4 at 64Kbit, play both back through the Hi Fi and you certainly notice the difference. The reason is that MPEG4 is a lossy compression, the lower the bitrate the more the loss. However, DAB+ at 64Kbit will sound the same as FM on a portable or car set so for most people it will be good enough (even AM in the car is good enough for me), only people that listen through good Hi Fi systems will notice the poorer quality. There is still the problem of high power consumption, your portable AM/FM jobbie will run for months on one set of batteries (assuming decent sized batteries like "C" cells) whereas the DAB set only a few days.

One problem with DAB+ is DAB -- all those people that bought expensive DAB sets will find them useless in the near future as DAB stations will go off air to be replaced with DAB+ and the majority of sets cannot be upgraded to decode DAB+, some later ones have a USB connector so they can have the firmware upgraded via a PC (if the manufacturer puts out an upgrade).

What's the IT angle? -- upgrading your DAB set using a PC of course!

Phorm incinerates $50m in 12 months

Hairy Scary

Die Die Die

Do us all a favour Phorm -- curl up and die -- the sooner the better.

That is all

Pirate because I'm a privacy pirate.


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