* Posts by ChrisC

873 posts • joined 2 Jul 2009


Totaled Tesla goes up in flames three weeks after crash

ChrisC Silver badge

Re: Am I the only one

Nor will there be any point in having an auto-driven vehicle in the first place, given the only routes it'd be able follow safely are ones consisting of nice straight and flat roads joined by very easy turns, all taken at a nice sedate pace so as not to cause any wheelspin/slip, and where at the slightest hint of rain/frost/snow the vehicle simply refuses to start up for fear of never being able to reach its destination in one piece...

Windows 11 22H2 is almost here. Is it ready for the enterprise?

ChrisC Silver badge

Re: MS dropping peripherals support - AGAIN

"So, which set of competing concerns should take priority? What is the proper balance to strike between all of these interests?"

How about prioritising the needs and desires of the users, especially given how much effort MS have put into trying to encourage/coerce/hoodwink people into switching first to 10 and now to 11, rather than being happy to just leave them alone to use whichever older version they were happy with?

Make the default mode of operation safer and more secure by all means, but don't take away the ability of users to use older drivers if they choose to do so. Stick the option to enable this in the back of a locked filing cabinet in a disused toilet etc. etc. if that's what it takes to prevent the unwary from stumbling across it and unknowingly opening up their system to all manner of attacks, just make sure the option is at least available *somewhere* for those who are very much aware of what it means to enable it.

ChrisC Silver badge

Re: MS dropping peripherals support - AGAIN

"but it's not really something Microsoft has control over"

Depends on whether or not the problem is caused by changes MS have made to the way drivers interact with the system - in theory, so long as you can still physically connect the peripheral to the PC, then it ought to be possible to continue using the original drivers to drive said peripheral so long as the OS lets you, because the hardware hasn't changed, the original drivers haven't changed, so the only thing left that could change and break stuff is the OS. At which point the ball would very definitely be back in MS's court.

Problems can also arise due to MS messing around with how Windows deals with new devices when they're first connected, which can make it harder than it ought to be to even attempt to install older drivers - when I tried connecting my old Canon Pixma inkjet to my new W11 laptop, as soon as I plugged in the USB cable (noting that at this point I hadn't tried to pre-install any of the old Canon drivers I still had lying around), 11 was automatically enumerating it as being something other than a printer rather than simply deciding, as it ought to have done, that it actually had no idea what it was I'd plugged in and leaving it listed as an unknown device in need of manual driver installation. You know, a bit like how older versions of Windows used to behave when new stuff got connected. Again, that's on MS and MS alone.

ChrisC Silver badge

"users will still need retraining before venturing near the user interface – for reasons known only to Microsoft"

It's not just MS - this is a recurring theme with many UI redesigns across a variety of products from different companies. Seems to be a case of UI designers in general not being content until they've changed things sufficiently that the users *have* to pay attention to the changes one way or another, rather than simply continuing to use the new UI without giving it a second thought...

*scene cross-fades to a design studio somewhere in central London*

"I say Tarquin, the latest focus group study shows our users are able to navigate the new UI almost as quickly as the old one, am I reading this report correctly?"

"I know Lavinia, I know, something's gone terribly wrong here, what can we do to make their lives miserable again?"

"What ho Tarqs, Lavvie, wouldn't it be a splendid wheeze if we, you know, just move *everything*?"

"And change the colours to be less contrasty whilst we're at it?"

"What about removing some of the visual cues users rely on to know which parts of the UI can be interacted with?"

"My god, I think we've got it! Quick, get those changes pushed into production - no, skip the test phase, this is TOO important to delay - and away to the wine bar we go for a celebratory drinkie-poos"

*credits roll*

Yes yes, I know, hideous stereotyping of graphics design people there. But you know what, after suffering the effects of their handiwork in various products I use on a daily basis over the past few years, my ability to be nice to them is practically exhausted, and I now regard them as fair game for whatever levels of ridicule and scorn get thrown their way by users fed up beyond our capacity to cope as we struggle with UI design changes that offer so much less than they take away.

RISC OS: 35-year-old original Arm operating system is alive and well

ChrisC Silver badge

Re: Good and yet a little disappointing at the time...

AAA was supposed to be the successor to ECS, but manglement incompetence-induced delays meant AGA ended up being hacked together instead to provide at least *some* level of upgrade for the A4000 and A1200.

You might be thinking more about the Hombre chipset that was proposed as a replacement for AAA given that, by the time that was expected to finally emerge from the labs into production, it wouldn't have been anything like the upgrade it would have been had it launched as planned a few years earlier. Hombre was the point at which the chipset would have given up any pretence of trying to remain backward compatible, allowing it to focus on the sorts of graphics techniques required for the Amiga to remain competitive.

Pretty much the entire Amiga story is a bittersweet saga of greatness tinged with countless cries of "if only", "what if", and "dear god, why" throughout, and of a small and utterly dedicated team of engineers working miracles in spite of management attempts to hinder them almost every step of the way.

The Archimedes story is rather bittersweet too - a truly world class system designed from the ground up here in the UK, which managed to almost entirely fail to capture the attention of the masses, ending up as a niche education machine and ultimately living on only (*) as the ARM processor, and in the fond memories of anyone lucky enough to have used one at the time.

(*) as someone who earns a comfortable living designing systems with ARM processors at their heart, I'm well aware that the ARM-spinoff side of the Archimedes story is a genuine success of the UK tech industry and so, generally speaking, definitely not worthy of being idly dismissed as an "only" footnote. I'm just trying to - badly perhaps - make the point that despite the success ARM has become, it's still rather sad that the Archimedes wasn't able to latch onto any of that success and survive as a complete system to continue demonstrating to the world just what you could do with a well designed processor driving a well designed OS...

ChrisC Silver badge

Re: Good and yet a little disappointing at the time...

I dunno, as an Amiga owner who's best mate had an A310 (though by the time he'd finished upgrading it, describing it as a mere A310 was doing it a disservice), there were a few games in his collection that I'd have loved to have had at home - Interdictor and Chocks Away are the first two that come to mind which, IIRC, were only ever released on the Archie (although the Amiga did have games of a similar bent), and unless it was just something I dreamed up whilst under the influence of a heavy cold or something, then I'm sure there was also a stupidly good game that allowed you to create your own tracks with jumps and loops and so on and then go racing around them - a bit like a fusion of Stunt Car Racer and Hard Drivin, plus some of the "earn points by crashing in spectacular ways" game mechanics that the Burnout series introduced many years later.

Plus, although they both did eventually get ported over to the Amiga, for a while the Archie was the only way I was able to play Zarch and Conqueror, and without doubt remained the best place to play them even after the ports.

Still, regardless of which system you owned or had access to back then, it was a truly epic period of time to be involved in the home computer scene, and articles like this always make me happy as they whisk me back on a nostalgic trek to those good old days.

Know the difference between a bin and /bin unless you want a new doorstop

ChrisC Silver badge

Re: Clean desk policy

They may well have done in this case too, but if said drawers are anywhere other than right next to/under your desk, so that adhering to the clean desk policy doesn't require you to trek over to the far side of the office, or, heaven forbid, a completely seperate storage area so remote from your desk that to get there you'd have to seek approval from your manager under business travel procedures, then it wouldn't be hard to imagine how this short cut might come about...

Password recovery from beyond the grave

ChrisC Silver badge

Re: Legal issues

That is what I said. It's also what I expounded, explained, mentioned, indicated, noted... Whilst the rich and varied nature of English might make it a pain for people to learn, it's also part of what makes it such a nice language to use. Wouldn't life be dull if English was such a tightly controlled language that there was only ever one correct way to say something?

ChrisC Silver badge

Re: Legal issues

"How are they protecting the rights of the deceased by stopping the family from accessing the account?"

By ensuring the contents of said account are dealt with in accordance with whatever instructions the deceased left in their will?

FWIW, a family member can act as executor of the will, in which case they'd have access to the account, so it's not strictly true to say that family members can't access the account once their relative has passed, merely that a different set of rules over who can and should have access to it comes into play. It's not the law/organisations being asses, there are some good reasons why things have to work the way they work when the person whos property you're talking about is no longer in a position to control said property.

Tough news for Apple as EU makes USB-C common charging port for most electronic devices

ChrisC Silver badge

Re: 48V vs 50V

I think the "jump out" part of the previous comment is the bit to focus on here - it's voltage which controls how close you need to get to a conductor before current will start to flow through your body...

ChrisC Silver badge

You're assuming that, if the device was actually demanding all of that 240W from the PSU at the other end of the USB cable, then all of it would be going directly to the charging circuit, rather than the majority being expended on driving the CPU, GPU and whatever other power-gobbling stuff is crammed within the chassis of any laptop capable of making use of a 240W supply...

ChrisC Silver badge

OTOH, placing the sprung contacts in the socket (a la Lightning) rather than on the cable (a la USB) runs a close second in the "dumb ideas of the 21st century" rankings, and depending on exactly how ham fisted you are when connecting cables, or the environmental conditions in which the device is being used (sockets with unsprung contacts are less prone to being damaged whilst cleaning out accumulated crud from the bottom of the socket recess), may even warrant promotion to the top spot...

ChrisC Silver badge

Re: The BS 546 Brexit connector next

Leaving aside the inaccuracies that other commenters have already picked you up on re how many people might be classed as red-green colour blind, I'll instead focus on the other inaccuracy here - namely the idea that being colourblind renders you entirely incapable of differentiating between reds and greens (other colour combinations available on request, see catalogue for details)...

As one of those people who's learned to live with classic male red-green colourblindness, I can assure you that wiring a plug when the incoming flex is using old-school UK insulation colours has never been a problem for me. Neither is being able to tell the difference between red and green traffic lights, red and green LEDs on consumer electronics devices, red and green balls when playing snooker, Irish and Welsh rugby players, the red and green sides on those little "FEED ME NOW!"/"I'm stuffed, give it a rest" cards you get at Brazilian restaurants or anything else which non-colourblind people constantly seem to find baffling that I'm able to differentiate despite my claims to be red-green colourblind...

It's correct to say that some (a minority) colourblind people would struggle with some/all of the above, but for most of us the only time we really struggle is when asked to try differentiating between more closely spaced shades, or between colours which are differentiated by the addition of one or the other shade - e.g. don't ever ask me to try choosing between blue and purple towels, curtains etc, because chances are I'll look at them both, even when they're placed side by side, and go "umm, they look the same to me", and genuinely mean it rather than just saying it because I can't be arsed to make a decision...

Microsoft accidentally turned off hardware requirements for Windows 11

ChrisC Silver badge

Re: Win 10 is good enough

It's anything but shallow IMO. The UI is the very essence of how you, the user, interface with the machine, so being provided with a UI which appeals to your specific preferences damn well ought to be THE most fundamental requirement for any UI design specification...

The way I see it, modern UI design feels like it's been driven by people who look at the UI as being a static graphical element which has been made to look as beautiful as possible in PR screengrabs, but which doesn't actually need to be useable in any way, shape or form. Legacy UI design OTOH was driven primarily by the desire to create something that worked as a dynamic interactive link between meatsack and silicon, and to hell with what it might look like when viewed as a static screengrab in an advert or whatever.

Hence why modern UIs seem to focus so much on trying to make the UI look like something that wouldn't look out of place when printed on high quality paper for a coffee-table book about something stylish. All that whitespace and subtle, simple iconography and typefaces looks drop dead gorgeous when viewed as a design concept - there are times when W10 and 11 genuinely take my breath away at how nice the UI can look when you just sit back and gaze upon it from afar.

As something a human needs to be able to interact with OTOH, it's all a complete pile of shite. Give me skeuomorphic icons, 3D bevelled edges and all the other stuff that modern designers heap scorn on as being oh so out od date and past its best, but which, for those of us who spent several decades using early WIMP UIs, served us just fine across god knows how many different versions of OSs running on different systems, across widely differing screen sizes/resolutions/colour depths...

No more fossil fuel or nukes? In the future we will generate power with magic dust

ChrisC Silver badge

"Researchers at the University of Lancaster’s Physics department, Royal Holloway London, Landau Institute and Aalto University in Helsinki cooled superfluid helium-3 to almost -273.15°C inside a rotating refrigerator, created two "time crystals" (which are impossible) and brought them into touch (which is impossible)."

Damn, all that hard work, and still only 1/3rd of the way towards earning themselves a celebratory breakfast at Milliways...

Warning: Colleagues are unusually likely to 'break' their monitors soon

ChrisC Silver badge

Re: What is the market for these devices?

"If the service is only for users possessing an Xbox Games Pass then it is reasonable to assume the user already has an Xbox"

Not so reasonable - the game pass also gives you direct access (i.e. install/run the game locally) to the game library via a Windows PC, as well as cloud-based access (which I'm guessing is what these TVs/monitors are also using) via Android and iOS, so there's no need to have access to an actual XBox to make use of the pass.

When management went nuclear on an innocent software engineer

ChrisC Silver badge

I visited Wylfa perhaps 10 years before you, and the tours then were similar to how you've described them, other than I don't recall being given anything else (other than the dosimeter badge) to wear. As you say, there's nothing quite like being able to see it for real, with just a viewing window between you and an actual real life, and very much operational, reactor hall.

The sad state of Linux desktop diversity: 21 environments, just 2 designs

ChrisC Silver badge

Re: The curse of overchoice

"But all cars have.. 4 wheels"

Except for the ones that have 3...

"...the same handbrake..."

So far in my 30 years behind the wheel, I've driven a "grand" total of 12 different cars from 5 different manufacturers, and have experienced three quite different methods for applying/releasing the parking brake - calling it a handbrake would, for the 2 Mercedes in that collection, be rather misleading given that applying the brake on those required use of a foot pedal near to, but under no circumstances to be mistaken for, the actual brake pedal...

"...gear system and pedals in the same place (except no clutch on an automatic)..."

Centre console, column shift, flappy paddles, or however it's done on an EV where there aren't any gears in the traditional sense... For a manual, is reverse to the left or right of the box, and do you have to pull up a locking collar, push down on the top of the gearknob, or just wiggle the stick until you get it past a detent? For an auto, is it a traditional looking shifter you push/pull fore and aft, or a dial you spin left/right, and does the shifter/dial give you access to the full range of box modes or does it only give you the basic PRND stuff with manual selection of specific gears/modes handled via controls elsewhere?

Pedals - same position yes, but EVs are starting to bring a whole new world of pedal behaviour into the mix which has the potential to confuse the crap out of someone used to how pedals work on ICE (or older EV) vehicles.

"...the same essential dashboard info, window, light and wiper controls generally in the same place."

Generally in the vicinity of the steering column or surrounding dash area yes, but still sufficiently non-standard to give rise to some problems if you're trying to drive an unfamiliar car and something happens suddenly that causes you to act on instinct and muscle memory, reaching for a control you KNOW is there on your daily drive, only to find that either it's not there at all on the car you're sat in right now, or that the control that is there isn't the one you were after.

So the analogy with OS/distro choice doesn't feel too far off the mark here - yes, there's a certain level of similarity between different cars/OSs in terms of their fundamental design/behaviour, but there's also plenty that isn't the same even within the basics, and what might suit one person perfectly well might be seen by someone else as a "WTF were the designers thinking there?" moment.

Microsoft tests ‘Suggested Actions’ in Windows 11. Insiders: Can we turn it off?

ChrisC Silver badge

Certainly not the best overall, but given the particular combination of hardware I had at the time, it was easily the best of the 9x sub-genre for me thanks to its ability not to randomly fall over in a quivering heap due to my attempting to use one of those newfangled USB-connected thingys that were starting to become popular back then in place of the serial/parallel/bespoke-connected stuff we'd been having to use up to that point.

BOFH: You'll have to really trust me on this team-building exercise

ChrisC Silver badge

One of the great unspoken advantages of WFH...

...is that when the weekly dose of BOFH includes classic lines like

"There's something missing from the A hole," he hints.

it's only the cats who get to observe my reaction. Ah, superb stuff once again.

We can bend the laws of physics for your super-yacht, but we can't break them

ChrisC Silver badge

I like how your "not kidding" note is related to the idea that someone might like goat milk for brekkie, rather than the idea that someone might want a goat farm on their private jet.

I mean, the latter, yeah sure, what do you expect from an oligarch, but actually wanting to drink goat milk (vs imbibing it via one of its more palatable forms - e.g. cheese, mmmmmm), now you're just being silly...

Thinnet cables are no match for director's morning workout

ChrisC Silver badge

Re: 10 base 2 network

So someone who might be finishing off a genuinely important bit of work is just expected to drop everything, pull themselves out of the zone and end up having to spend even longer completing the work later, and head off for lunch just because the boss says "jump" and their underlings say "yes sir, how high sir?"

There's being a team player, and then there's being a minion to the PHB who thinks they have the right to control your life. Unless there's more to this anecdote than has been written, the problem was the boss expecting everyone to go eat at the same time, not that the rest of the team were expecting it from those random team members who weren't always able to join them without being coerced. That's not a particularly pleasant sort of team environment in which to spend your working life...

ChrisC Silver badge

Re: 10 base 2 network

Interesting that you've interpreted that anecdote as indicating the problem lies with the random colleague who had one last thing to do, and not with the control freak of a boss mandating when and with whom their underlings took their lunch break...

For me the solution would have been to find somewhere else to work where the boss wasn't a complete arsehole, but that's just me and my intense dislike of being forced into regularly occurring (perhaps even daily, by the sounds of it here) artificially constructed work-related social scenarios in MY time just because someone in the team thinks it's a jolly good idea.

ZX Spectrum: Q&A with some of the folks who worked on legendary PC

ChrisC Silver badge

A quick Google images search for "ZX Spectrum box" confirms your recollection, and a similar search for the boxes of other popular 80's computers reveals much the same for those machines as well.

Windows 10 still growing, but Win 11 had another bad month, says AdDuplex

ChrisC Silver badge

Re: W11? Personally I wouldn't bother upgrading and I use W11 daily!

I'm not aware of anyone needing to pay to switch from 10 to 11 at the moment. And if/when the free "upgrade" path is switched off by MS, given how little benefit there is from switching from 10 to 11, I'd be amazed if more than a handful of users bothered to pay to get their current W10 system running 11 instead. Switching off the free "upgrade" from 7 to 10 made somewhat more sense, as whilst the visible changes on 10 weren't to many peoples liking, there were some undeniably useful improvements under the skin which some 7 users would have felt willing to pay for if, for whatever reason, they'd missed out on snaring it as a freebie.

IMO, it's quite likely that (rounding errors aside when counting the totals) the only people who'll ever pay for 11 are people like me who get it by default when buying a new PC, but if you're buying a PC with Windows installed then it makes no difference which version it is, MS are still getting their licence fee out of you either way.

ChrisC Silver badge

Re: W11? Personally I wouldn't bother upgrading and I use W11 daily!

I got W11 preinstalled on my new personal laptop, whilst my work laptop remains on W10. Other than the one-time hit of having to relocate the start menu back to where it ought to be, learning to right click on the start menu to access the task manager, and learning to live with the lack of ungrouped/labelled taskbar buttons (I've deliberately avoided investigating any of the 3rd party shell hacks so far, because I've wanted to give native W11 a fair chance to prove itself to me), I've so far found nothing in W11 which makes it stand out as being sufficiently different to W10 that it merited a whole new version number to itself.

Hell, so far I've not seen anything that would even merit it being classed as a service pack back in the good old days when Windows had such things, rather than the dreaded "feature updates" MS now like to ram down our throats. Quite why MS felt the need to brand it as a whole new version, rather than just roll out the changes as part of their ongoing efforts to keep W10 users guessing what their OS will look and behave like after every update, is beyond me.

So for now, I haven't seen anything in 11 that would make me want to upgrade from 10 if I was given the option to do so, however I have seen a few things which make me wish my new laptop had come with 10 instead. More accurately, I wish it could have come with 7 instead, otherwise it sounds as if I actually like 10 whereas I merely prefer 10 over 11, but that's like saying I prefer being hit in the face over being kicked in the nuts...

ZX Spectrum, the 8-bit home computer that turned Europe onto PCs, is 40

ChrisC Silver badge

Re: No rampack

There might have been wobble on some Spectrums, but it wasn't a feature common to all. I had an original 48K with an Interface 2 hanging off the back, and an AMX Mouse interface hanging off the back of that - despite the dire warnings in the IF2 manual that the pass-through was only to be used for the ZX Printer (what a rebel I was in my younger years :-) - and the only wobble as such was a *slight* bit of play between the IF2 and AMX interface, but nothing like as bad mechanically or electrically as the legendary wobble of a ZX81 ram pack.

ASML CEO: Industrial conglomerate buying washing machines to rip out semiconductors

ChrisC Silver badge

Re: Interesting

Other options include:

* said conglomerate needed these chips ASAP and couldn't afford to wait for a supply agreement to be thrashed out.

* said conglomerate didn't want to get into a commercial agreement with the washing machine manufacturer due to being competitors or having some other business relationship issue.

* said conglomerate may very well be overall a large company, but the specific product for which these parts are needed is something they only build in small quantities, so it's somewhat less newsworthy than the anecdote suggests.

Space Launch System dress rehearsal canceled for repairs

ChrisC Silver badge

Re: "If at first you don't succeed... you're probably NASA"

Still missing the point. The author of this otherwise decent article saw fit to take a cheap shot at NASA with the "if at first you don't succeed" subtitle.

Except that, as my variation on that notes, what NASA are doing IS rocket science, which means it's hard, and things will go wrong. So to poke fun at them for one non-event of a failure which hasn't resulted in the loss of any hardware or humans, when SpaceX have now had millions of dollars-worth of kit go kaboom (intentionally or otherwise) in a variety of entertaining ways in the pursuit of knowledge and understanding without generating much in the way of scorn or ridicule, feels wrong.

And please note that I'm not in any way being critical of SpaceX here - I'm deeply in awe of what they've achieved so far and where they're heading, and as an engineer myself I know only too well that sometimes the best way to learn how to make something work is to first get it wrong a bunch of times. It's the comparison between the way their "failures" are treated by the public and media alike, and the way NASA are treated when they so much as sneeze at the wrong time, which is the point I'm trying to get across here.

ChrisC Silver badge

Re: "If at first you don't succeed... you're probably NASA"

I think you miss the point of my "sacrificed" comment... I'm not suggesting for one second that SpaceX *wasted* those Falcons, just noting that in order to get to the point where they are now able to land boosters so reliably that it's no longer newsworthy, not every booster survived the process.

"If at first you don't succeed, you're probably in the rocketry business, because it IS rocket science..."

ChrisC Silver badge

Re: "If at first you don't succeed... you're probably NASA"

Indeed. It's probably worth bearing in mind that NASA is being held, somewhat unfairly IMO, to a rather different set of standards here compared to SpaceX thanks to the rather different ways in which the two organisations are funded - no-one really bats an eyelid if the latter suffer yet another RUD event whilst testing their latest designs (and let's not forget just how many Falcons were "sacrificed" whilst getting the whole land-n-reuse concept finessed to the point where it's now not even newsworthy when a Falcon returns safely to terra firma), yet if NASA so much as sneeze at the wrong point during a test it leads to media responses like the one you've just highlighted here.

Windows 11 usage stats within touching distance of... XP

ChrisC Silver badge

If, as it sounds like, you're quoting the AdDuplex figures here, then bear in mind that they're "based on data collected from around 5,000 Windows Store apps running AdDuplex SDK v.2 (and higher)", and that "Around 60,000 Windows 10, 11 PCs were surveyed."

In contrast, the Lansweeper figures being quoted here are captured across a significantly larger (166x) sample size, and aren't restricted to sampling PCs owned/used by people willing/able to install ad-supported Store apps.

So given that the majority of W11 uptake currently seems to be from home users, and given that home users are (I'd very strongly suspect) rather more likely than corporate users to be installing ad-supported stuff from the Windows Store, it shouldn't really be a surprise that the AdDuplex figures paint a far rosier picture for 11 than the Lansweeper figures do.

Blood pressure monitor won't arrive for Apple Watch before 2024 – report

ChrisC Silver badge

Re: it's not measurements

You mean, something like this?


First Light says it's hit nuclear fusion breakthrough with no fancy lasers, magnets

ChrisC Silver badge

Re: Tokamak, or not tokamak, that is the question...

Not unless you've turned your globe upside down...

ChrisC Silver badge

Re: Tokamak, or not tokamak, that is the question...

About 49 degrees...

ChrisC Silver badge

Re: Tokamak, or not tokamak, that is the question...

Fusion isn't going to put an end to electricity bills, because the cost of a unit of electricty today isn't solely the cost of generating that unit, so even if the action of generating a unit of electricty was genuinely zero cost, there'd still be a cost involved in getting that unit to the consumer, as well as a share of the cost involved in setting up this zero-cost generation system and ensuring that funds are set aside to cover the cost of replacing it as and when required.

So no, I really don't think efforts to reduce the cost of electricity *generation* are being stifled by the energy companies fearful for their own futures - unless we're proposing that every household is equipped with its own Mr Fusion (other brands may be available) personal generator, then there'll still be costs (and profits) incurred in every other aspect of providing consumers with electricity, and thus there'll still be a financially viable role for energy companies to play no matter how cheap we can make the cost of generation itself.

Also consider that, if we can drive down the per-unit cost of electricity, it raises the possibility of higher rates of consumption not just from existing consumers (if a unit of leccy costs you 1/10th of what it does today, you might be less inclined to put in as much effort maximising your energy efficiency, because even if you use a bit more than you could do, you're still paying far less than you ever used to) but also from areas of consumption which emerge as a direct result of the reduced per-unit cost allowing ideas to come to market which wouldn't have been financially viable beforehand.

ChrisC Silver badge

Re: I'd rather see HB11's fusion scheme work

I'd be happy seeing *any* fusion scheme achieve production-scale viability - if it happens to be the most elegant/efficient/etc scheme then that'd be a bonus, but even just getting one of them working as proposed/hyped would be a big step forwards both for energy generation in general, and for preserving the credibility of fusion as something that can actually be usefully achievable and isn't just something which (as others have commented on already) is always going to be X years away...

If you fire someone, don't let them hang around a month to finish code

ChrisC Silver badge

Re: Understatement of the year!

The same requirements to be able to hand-optimise code was present in the late 90s/early 00s too - my first embedded systems job saw me working on devices with 8KB of program memory and 512 bytes of SRAM, and I recall there being a week in 1999 where I did nothing but rewrite the existing code to claw back as much space as possible so that I could continue adding all the remaining functionality. I think my personal best for that week was finding 8 bytes in one day...

After that I worked on another device with 1KB of program memory and 32 bytes of register space (you'll note I don't say how much SRAM it had, because it didn't have any - the only volatile storage there was were those registers.). That was fun, especially trying to learn all of the limitations of the C compiler provided specifically for that device, and how to write code so that, say, you could perform a fairly simple calculation without the result being complete garbage due to the way the compiler failed spectacularly to translate said calculation into the correct sequence of opcodes and intermediate result saves. Had I been asked to work on that project from the start I'd have been writing the whole firmware in assembler and not even considered C, but as it was inherited from someone who'd not survived an earlier round of redundancies I was stuck polishing a turd.

On the subject of this article, the only time I've not been kept on to work through my notice period when made redundant was when the company I worked for announced on Friday morning that it was about to go into administration, leaving us with little more to do besides packing up our personal items before heading to the pub. At the other places I've worked, where people have been made redundant whilst the company itself remained active, the only people who got to go on gardening leave were manglement, and the occasional grunt-level if their notice period had been initiated by them wanting to leave. I've also seen people escorted out of the building if they were being dismissed vs made redundant, but that's a slightly different scenario...

Otherwise, if it was the company deciding our positions were now redundant, we'd still be expected to show up every day, with full access to all company resources, and work just like nothing had happened. For my first company I did this, perhaps partly because I didn't know any better, but also because I genuinely did like the place, the work and the people I'd been working with, and because they'd treated us all fairly during the redundancy process, which left me feeling like I had a personal obligation to leave behind the minimum amount of mess. With the second company, the nature of the redundancy process left a somewhat less pleasant taste in my mouth, so strangely enough I felt somewhat less obliged to do anything beyond the bare minimum re project handover, and ended up spending most of my months notice period just sat in the office taking advantage of the company software licences to brush up on my Delphi and Paintshop skills...

GNOME 42's inconsistent themes are causing drama

ChrisC Silver badge

Re: I've loathed "themes" and "skins"

And give users the choice of how to configure THEIR user environment to THEIR preferences and requirements, don't ever dare to presume that just because your job title is "UI Designer", you know better than the people using your creation how good their ability is to cope with the defaults you've chosen.

Microsoft used to be bloody amazing at this - from my first encounters with 3.1 all the way through to 7, there was always a natively provided way to tweak the UI just the way I liked it. Even their early forays into mobile phones showed a level of user friendliness that iOS and Android would do well to be inspired by. Then the idiots took over and from 8 onwards each new version of Windows brings more designer ego and less user control to the table.

Whether MS were influenced by others, or whether it's MS who've been the influencer, it's clear that UI design in general over this time period has grown steadily more and more user hostile. Hence why we're now having pretty much the same anguished debate over how crap this latest iteration of a Linux UI is as we've had in the past with Windows, and which without any shadow of doubt we'll have about some other modern UI if el Reg run an article on it.

When will the wheel turn full circle and UI designers start remembering what the U in UI stands for?

ChrisC Silver badge

And remember that before the PC reached VGA-levels of resolution, there were home computers providing GUIs that were even more capable than Windows was (some might even argue than Windows still *is*) on screens that were even lower resolution than that - my first proper foray into the world of GUIs was with Workbench on the Amiga, which on the display hardware I had at the time ran at 640x256, or 640x512 if I wanted to give myself a headache by enabling interlace mode.

When every pixel mattered, UI designers had no choice but to put in the effort and come up with some UIs which were wonderfully useable despite the limited space they had to work with, and which were clearly aimed at providing the user of that UI with as much space as possible for *them* to work with. I forget the last time I saw a current generation UI which made me think the designers had the same level of respect for the end users...

Microsoft proposes type syntax for JavaScript

ChrisC Silver badge

"and embedded systems, but that's quite an old-people field"

Is it? We've just hired a graduate, are in the process of hiring another, and have three other engineers in the team in their 20's and 30's - And thinking back to my previous employers, the age ranges of the engineers in the teams were largely similar - a few senior engineers (the role I now play here) who've been around the block a few times, working alongside a larger team of younger engineers bringing with them a much needed shot of youthful enthusiasm and experience with some new tech that we might not have had a chance to mess around with ourselves.

So whilst there undoubtedly will be some embedded systems teams out there which look like a gathering of the old farts club, IME this is far from the case for most teams, and especially not the case for teams employed by companies who intend to still be doing embedded systems development in years to come...

UK internet pioneer Cliff Stanford has died

ChrisC Silver badge

Demon was my first foray into home internet access too - started off with a dialup connection (bay13) in the mid/late 90's just as K56Flex modems hit the market, then migrated over to ADSL (sr71) as soon as that became available in my area, which saw me through to a house move in the mid 00's, at which point the availability of a Telewest Cable connection proved too strong to resist (epecially given the awful predicted DSL speeds from the local exchange) and thus ended my association both with Demon and with phone-line based internet access.

Hard to imagne now just how big a deal it was to have a company like Demon providing easy (relatively speaking for the time) access to the internet at prices that the average home computer enthusiast could afford, or how radical it was for someone outside of academia or a few more enlightened businesses to have internet access in the first place. As someone else has already said, if Cliff/Demon hadn't done it then it's inevitable that someone else would have done it sooner or later, but all credit to him and the team he built up around him for making it happen in such a user-friendly manner.

Internet connection now required for Windows 11 Pro Insider setup

ChrisC Silver badge

Recently bought a new laptop that came with W11 Home, and had I not been able to find a workaround to stop it requiring a MS login to complete the setup, then that's as far as my foray into the world of W11 would have gone (I didn't just want to nuke it immediately, as I figured this'd be a good opportunity to see just how good/bad it really is in daily use) and I'd have been setting up a USB stick with a Linux installer...

It's one thing to require an internet connection during startup, to help pull in the latest updates there and then, but quite another to also require signing into *any* sort of account, let alone a specific type of account that many of us won't already have and don't particularly want.

Microsoft Teams unable to send and receive calls for some after update

ChrisC Silver badge

I'd be happy if it could at least consistently pop-out the notification that lets people know when a meeting has started.

No, let me rephrase that, because I realise I'm being unfair to Teams here - it *does* consistently pop-out the notification, it just seems utterly incapable of doing so consistently at the START of the meeting...

So I'd actually be happy if it could at least consistently pop-out the notification within, say, 30 seconds of the start of the meeting, rather than at a random time somewhere between "right there and then" and "about 20 minutes after the meeting has ended, no matter how long the meeting actually took".

ChrisC Silver badge

Re: "Microsoft Teams is running normally"

Usually about 5 minutes before the start of your next scheduled meeting...

ChrisC Silver badge

Re: I will NEVER use this rubbish voluntarily

"We asked you to send it to us as a Word file"

"I did"

"No, you sent a PDF"

"Yes, that's one of the options Word gave me when I went to save the file"

"But that's not what we need"

"Then learn to construct your requests in a way which a) shows you understand what you're actually asking for, and b) leaves the recipient in no doubt over what it is you're asking for. Cheers"

Insurance claims up 31% thanks to the metaverse

ChrisC Silver badge

Re: Play fast and break things

The Quest 2 requires you to define a playing area, and routinely bugs you to redefine it if it's unable to match the previously stored area to what it's now seeing. It then does a decent-enough job of letting you know during a session when you're getting too close to the edge of your area, and also now offers the ability to double-tap the side of the headset to immediately switch your view over to what the headset cameras are seeing, so you can reorient yourself with the real world.

Having been a bit skeptical over the state of VR headsets (particularly ones which encourage more of a free-roaming style of gameplay), I have to admit at being rather impressed by the Q2.

Real-time software? How about real-time patching?

ChrisC Silver badge

Re: Firefighters

Amen to that. As an embedded systems engineer, I find myself occasonally needing to step outside the world of cajoling bare metal systems into doing what I need them to do, and knock up some desktop test/simulation tools, which means that along with all of the primary skills listed on my CV I've also ended up with a bunch of references in the "Additional Skills" section to stuff like Delphi and C#. And, because I know they *are* skills which are genuinely useful to possess in the embedded field, they aren't things that can really be removed from my CV.

Consequently, every time I'd been job hunting i'll invariably end up being contacted by keyword-matching agencies of incompetence who think that listing such and such a language in that part of my CV means that I'm somehow a desktop systems developer who might be interested in some fintech coding position in central London (the salary would certainly interest me, the rest of the job not so much) or something equally unsuited to my actual abilities.

So far in my career, I could count on the thumbs of one hand the number of agencies I've dealt which who actually bother to do a decent job and have the necessary technical knowledge to understand what's on the CVs passing through their hands. If I then include the remaining fingers on the same hand, I could also count those lesser agencies who, with a bit of prompting from me, were able to point me in the direction of jobs I genuinely was interested in. I'd run out of prehensile digits trying to count all the other agencies I've had the misfortune of dealing with...

ChrisC Silver badge

Re: Site Acceptance Test

During our first trip to Paris, the OH and I spent a rather enjoyable half hour or so watching the traffic negotiating the AdT - there's something quite delightful in the way it behaves like finely-choreographed chaos, always looking as if it's on the verge of a city-stopping pileup, yet managing somehow to just keep on flowing.

The worst taxi-related experience I've had has to have been the first time I went from the airport across to the other side of Shanghai - the rule of the road there seems to be "If you see a space, drive into it. If you don't see a space, just blow your horn and drive into where you *want* the space to be. Don't even think of stopping, unless there's an even bigger vehicle also aiming for the same space as you", which was rather disconcerting. Though by the time of my third trip, with a colleague who hadn't been out there before, it was then quite illuminating to see his reactions as I sat back all relaxed and just took it for granted that we were going to get to the office in one piece...

ChrisC Silver badge

Re: Site Acceptance Test

Zurich, about 7-8 years ago... Inbound flight in the morning was rather nice, clear skies and lots of eyecandy scenery to ogle through the window. And that's where the fun ended.

Picked up at the airport by our regional support person, drove out to the worksite (a partly constructed shopping centre somewhere in the outskirts), spent all day there trying and mostly succeeding to resolve the customer issues with our products, despite the site engineer they'd promised to send out to assist us not turning up until we'd almost called it a day, then got caught in a heavy snowstorm on the way back to the airport which meant instead of me and my colleague being able to have dinner together (in lieu of the lunch we'd skipped in order to get the work finished) before my onward flight to Dusseldorf for the second half of my troubleshooting tour of Europe, we arrived back at the airport technically after my flight was supposed to have left, but thanks to the snow everything had been delayed and, although the revised check-in time had still passed anyway, my colleague managed to sweet-talk the airline into letting me through to departures anyway on the promise that I made my way as fast as possible to the gate.

Eventually arrived in Dusseldorf late enough that the airport was more or less closed for the night, so no chance of picking up anything to eat there, and then by the time I got to my hotel even the room service had called it a night. So my eagerly anticipated evening meal (and also the first food I'd eaten since breakfast back in the UK about 18 hours previously) ended up being a mashed up bag of crisps I'd left in my work bag, washed down with a cup or tea using all the milk and sugar provided in the room to bulk out its calorific content. Let's just say I more than made up for this the next morning at the breakfast buffet...

Oh, and then having had a somewhat easier-going day onsite in Dusseldorf, the bad weather that'd almost left me stuck in Zurich put in an appearance on the way back to the airport here as well, such that we ended up sat on the tarmac for a couple of hours before finally bagging what turned out to be the last departure slot of the evening before they ended up closing the airport due to the increasingly bad conditions, and arrived back in London several hours later than planned but bloody pleased to have made it back and not be stranded somewhere.

Yeah, business travel is a blast...

OTOH, around that sime time in my career, I also ended up having a day trip to Nice which, due to being somewhat pessimistic about how long the business part of the trip might take, left me with a few hours to kill before my flight home, spent having a rather pleasant stroll along the seafront back to the airport followed by a game of "spot the celeb" in the arrivals area due to it being Cannes Film Week.

And then there was the very first business trip I went on, which included spending a Sunday sightseeing in Washington DC... So OK, business travel *can* be fun sometimes, though for mere engineering mortals like us, as opposed to those travelling for management/marketing/sales reasons, the wows are usually quite comprehensively outweighed by the mehs, and having concluded my pre-Covid business travelling history with several week-long stays working out of our offices in one of the far from touristy parts of Shanghai, I've rather enjoyed the lack of travel opportunities thrown my way these past few years.



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