* Posts by Steve 114

370 posts • joined 8 Jul 2009


AI laser probe for prostate cancer enters clinical trials

Steve 114

If clear, try Rezum

Just had a 'Rezum' job done, recommended. Consultant wouldn't play until an MRI seen, and images hardly needed 'AI' to show clear (I got mine on CD). Apart from that, laser ablation if needed has been an option for quite a while.

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

Steve 114

Pre ZX81

What was the Sinclair board I ordered from the newspaper that had an octal keypad and LED-only output? Then I bought the solder-on upgrade which allegedly linked to a TV, and it never worked again. Somewhere in the attic still.

NHS Digital's demise bad for 55 million patients' privacy – ex-chairman

Steve 114

Privacy forever

25+ years ago, I was in Committee-contact with well-intentioned, underpaid, NHS people who could see perfectly clearly that Britain was host to the largest potential database of (properly-anonymised) health, disease and operational data, possibly anywhere in the world. But however you tried to mobilise it, the GPs didn't like that, the Consultants didn't like that, and paranoid patient groups didn't like it. And even if anything seemed possible, the total spaghetti of systems and Standards and hopeless UIs made nothing feasible at all. Why, we wondered, could every other knuckle-dragging sector mobilise their data, and even for such potential public benefit we/they simply could not, nor even have a staged plan to do so? Even piffling Iceland already had a population genetic database (yes, I know those snags too). And here we all still are, still letting private operators carve off bits that might join some someday metaverse, and still locked up with forever-privacy squeals. Grotesque.

Dutch spies helped Britain's GCHQ break Argentine crypto during Falklands War

Steve 114

Are we suggesting the disclosuree was 'accidental'? Now why would such a thing be done?

Beer gut-ted: As many as '70 million pints' spoiled during coronavirus pandemic must be destroyed in Britain

Steve 114

Jug and bottle

My great grandfather's pub sold beer by the jug, to people who came to the door.

ALGOL 60 at 60: The greatest computer language you've never used and grandaddy of the programming family tree

Steve 114

Those of us with nighttime access to the ops in the 'computer room' would collect some chads from the cardpunch hopper, put them into the errant holes in the card pack with a quick wipe of polystyrene cement for security. then try another run.

DBA locked in police-guarded COVID-19-quarantine hotel for the last week shares his story with The Register

Steve 114
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Re: No, the UK pushed the problem into care homes.

Wife had early minor cancer diagnosis, all tests, 2 procedures, CT, MRI on time and telephone appointments as needed - NHS hospital very quiet, all staff charming and unhurried. Her consultant said: "I have a really nice day here, then listen to the News in the car on the way home, and get completely depressed".

UK finds itself almost alone with centralized virus contact-tracing app that probably won't work well, asks for your location, may be illegal

Steve 114

Re: Hanlon's razor

And what percent of the phones in use have Android updateable-enough to be used at all? None in this elderly house, and when I go out I take instead the unsmart bananaphone that 'just works' to answer calls rather than footling around with a smartphone screen.

Dumpster diving to revive a crashing NetWare server? It was acceptable in the '90s

Steve 114

Re: A long time ago

On the night shift, we'd correct sequence errors of 80-column cards with COBOL source code by putting the rectangular chads back in and pasting them over with polystyrene cement from a little Airfix bottle. Quick dry, rerun the pack, and see if it will compile now. Those programs did quality control on some very strategic equipment - but you could never find the card you'd changed to repunch it properly.

House of Commons agrees to allow Zoom app in Parliament, British MPs will still have to dress smartly

Steve 114


RM's 'reclining event' was a protest against the then Speaker, who richly deserved protests. Posture was no doubt chosen so as not to break any unwritten rules, but to make the protest conspicuous. It will, of course, forever be recalled out-of-context.

RAND report finds that, like fusion power and Half Life 3, quantum computing is still 15 years away

Steve 114

Re: what is problem with COBOL ?

As an 'old time COBOL programmer' I have been waiting for decades for something better. Good corporate experience with the 'Simplicity' skin for APL, still waiting for Object Orientation to deliver something remotely usable. Use-case: define the data/business problem unambiguously in words or diagrams that can be checked, then leave all the heiroglyphics to a compiler that will flag hidden ambiguities.

French general accused of nicking fast jet for weekend trips to the Sun

Steve 114

Re: So

My father had an RAF posting to Egypt (accompanied). His Riley RMA magically turned up at Ismailia, and I doubt if he drove it there.

Leaving Las Vegas... for good? IT industry conference circuit won't look the same on other side of COVID-19 pandemic

Steve 114


Beyond IT, US 'conferences' were often excuses for USians with minimal holidays ('vacations') to get paid time by a pool, while in 'Europe' they were junkets for elderly supervisory boards to ride around on coaches with their wives (while the poor saps back home got a chance to do real work without being countermanded). Those motivations may not change.

Call us immediately if your child uses Kali Linux, squawks West Mids Police

Steve 114

Be fair

Friend is a lawyer and technophobe, but his teen son has gone all furtive using the family desktop into the small hours. It's not games, so Dad asked me what to be aware of. That list isn't all bad (actually I think he's doing 'currency trading' scams though). What advice do all you experts give?

Brits may still be struck by Lightning, but EU lawmakers vote for bloc-wide common charging rules

Steve 114

Re: Hopefully the UK will follow this

There's nothing in the Agreement that stops us/BSI being non-EU members of CEN/CENELEC. But it does mean we consumers may get more choices, provided we comply (for export) with the standards of the country/bloc we choose to export to. Now can I have a 40w frosted bulb for my Anglepoise, please?

Hey, ICANN, if you need good reasons to halt the .org super-sell-off, here are two: Higher fees, more website downtime

Steve 114

What next?

I look after only one .org domain, and it is not at all important. Assuming the deal is done we will of course migrate it to another '.something'. Many others will want to do the same. Will open-source experts suggest for us a uniform migration path which e.g. intercepts old DNS calls and flips them to what next seems sensible, and which is not open to this kind of abuse?

Open wide, very wide: Xerox considers buying HP. Yes, the HP that is more than three times its market cap

Steve 114

Re: Crazy

The words 'reverse takeover' spring to mind. Then MBA suits will aim to merge compatible SBUs and after months of disruptive shakedown, demerge or sell the inflated components. Not saying it's sensible, but it's how they think.

UK ads watchdog slaps Amazon for UX dark arts after folk bought Prime subs they didn't want

Steve 114

Direct Line, caution

I use Direct Line, declined auto renewal. Last trip to the far north, my own error very nearly had me rammed at speed on a roundabout, Back home days later, I noticed that my cover had already expired. The bad luck of mere milliseconds would have bankrupted me. On auto-renewal now; they are forced to give you weeks to get other quotes anyway

Creators Update meets its maker: It's 1903 or bust for those clinging to Windows 10 1703

Steve 114
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All the elderly cousins I have switched to Win10 - 'auto updated', no longer bother me with crash reports to resolve. Sure, they wait forever for 'do not turn off your computer', but everything then just works, again and again. Obviously I've given them Linux dual-boot, but there's never been a need and their ancient favourite software wouldn't work if there were.

Two years ago, 123-Reg and NamesCo decided to register millions of .uk domains for customers without asking them. They just got the renewal reminders...

Steve 114

Network Solutions

I have .net and .org registrations, and NS then registered .com 'free' for a year without telling me. Then billed for renewal, which I declined. Now they e-mail every 10 days re-offering the same .com (which has presumably stayed on their books). If I say yes, I pay: if no, I risk squatting. Shady business there too.

New lows at Bose as firmware update woes infuriate soundbar bros

Steve 114

Re: A grand?

Our nice big TV has rotten lip-synch. Sound is processed faster than video, and no built-in adjustment available. Unwatchable. I need a soundbar with a simple knob on the front to adjust delay - yes I know the gubbins behind can't be simple, A/D:D/A and all that. Do you think I can find one online that offers just this and no other gizmos or reemotes? Cheap suggestions welcome.

Biz forked out $115k to tout 'Time AI' crypto at Black Hat. Now it sues organizers because hackers heckled it

Steve 114


Presentations I chaired did NOT have heckling (different sector). If anyone started, I would suggest they formulate a question for the following Q&A session. If several persisted, I would suggest they each write down their observations and bring them quietly to the Chair, so that I could structure the following debate. If people got disruptive, I would call an impromptu 10-minute tea break (no tea outside) and restart with bouncers on call. In Italy, I had red and yellow cards like a football referee and that was totally respected. Incidentally, do read the initial paper, which was somewhat puzzling, and then the refutation, which is quite instructive.

Anatomy of an attack: How Coinbase was targeted with emails booby-trapped with Firefox zero-days

Steve 114

You'll only see her if you keep your eyes open in extremis, and if she doesn't prefer the dark anyway.

Stop using that MacBook Pro RIGHT NOW, says Uncle Sam: Loyalists suffer burns, smoke inhalation and worse – those crappy keyboards

Steve 114

Hot Pies

When I started, the office girls used 'Comptometers', large mechanical adding machines. Then the more senior girls were given Marchants (which could multiply) but had a huge moving register, and were very noisy on steel desks. So the factory sent up thick felt pads to put them on, very much a status symbol. Finally the supervisor was given a big electronic machine, with a splendid row of Nixie tubes along the top (and probably thermionics inside). But she could not be persuaded to dispense with her precious felt pad. The result was a lovely warm calculator - we worked out that if you put cold pies on the plastic top when the morning tea-trolley came round, they would be ready by lunchtime.

This weekend you better read those ebooks you bought from Microsoft – because they'll be dead come early July

Steve 114

Oh no?

Some reports say it will.

Hot desk hell: Staff spend two weeks a year looking for seats in open-plan offices

Steve 114

Watch my window

I visited a giant corporation in the Netherlands, distinctive glass building. Everyone but the CEO (nice office!) did hot desking in open-plan without partitions. On arrival, you wheeled your parked filing cabinet to the desk/screen that was free. So liberating! BUT... everyone knew perfectly well that the higher ranks liked windows, so no one else would sit there, and everything was actually stratified in a complex but invisible way

Must watch: GE's smart light bulb reset process is a masterpiece... of modern techno-insanity

Steve 114

V-Pro too

Maybe the same sort of chip is in the 'Varilight' dimmer, which is top of the range if you have (not all) LED lamps. There are two modes, and you may have to try both for best results, and then set max and min settings. All with a range of timed on-off clicks from a defined or adjusted state. 2 pages of printed instructions, only mildly ambiguous, but after 10 minutes trying and the kids not unreasonably wanting the lights on, I put a simpler switch back.

UK.gov whacks export ban on 'grotesque' crab made by famous Brit potter bros

Steve 114

My Vote

Could it not be placed centrally on the Cabinet table, and then expert ministers could just be encouraged to get on with whatever their heriditary Civil Servants think wise?

TSB appoints new tech transformation chief cuz last tech transformation went really, really well

Steve 114

Re: Good Luck

Brave guy, deserves success. When I looked at something similar, we did a big 'spaghetti diagram' on the wall for fun, before the Board chose a 'solutions provider' instead. We survived long enough to wave goodbye to those wasted millions, and to get things solved bit-by-tested-bit.

Boeing admits 737 Max sims didn't accurately reproduce what flying without MCAS was like

Steve 114

Witches' marks

People who look before boarding and see double winglets, and frilly jet exhausts, might just panic. Easy enough to spot, and you might get some mass-hysteria and fainting.

After my friend went down in the DC-10, I never went MD again (I wasn't scared, I just didn't ever want to see the same view she'd had).

'Software delivered to Boeing' now blamed for 737 Max warning fiasco

Steve 114

Re: does this affect more aircraft than the ill fated 737 max?

Don't trust 'your bum'. It might be indicating 1G, but you're unwittingly going right down with your nose up.

Steve 114

Re: does this affect more aircraft than the ill fated 737 max?

No, 'artificial horizon' can be dead ahead, and you are still in deep stall going down like an AF lift-plummet in the South Atlantic. Some would prefer hints from reliable AoA.

Steve 114

Re: does this affect more aircraft than the ill fated 737 max?

Have you seen where the (expensive 'optional') AOA guage appears on the screen? (top right), and where the 'disagree warning' (which should have appeared for all, but didn't for anyone, lower right). Ergonomics, folks?

'I do not wish to surrender' Julian Assange tells court over US extradition bid

Steve 114

Category error

Point is, 'journalism' is not the alleged offence. Conspiring to hack passwords is.

Uber won't face criminal charges after its robo-car killed woman crossing street

Steve 114


Why would anyone push a loaded bicycle into the path of an oncoming car?

Sniff the love: Subaru's SUVs overwhelmed by scent of hair shampoo, recalls 2.2 million cars

Steve 114


A nice little arc used to clean contacts. Could it be that LEDs don't draw enough current?

Ministry of Defence's new payroll contract is, surprise, surprise, MIA: Missing In Action

Steve 114

Systems Analysts?

I was one, decades ago. Later, in a management capacity with a major 'client'-type, I was horrified that they went to market to buy a 'solution' to a spaghetti problem they had accumulated, only to buy some off-the-peg USian COBOL that half-solved some other non-Brit problems, and charged premium rates for change-notes to rancid dataformats and file structures. I couldn't stop it, it was a predictable disaster, and it has now only come right through a period of most painful 'evolution' - because no one ever properly analysed what the systems were supposed to be doing.

Redditors start flinging Pooh after mega-forum takes cash from Chinese behemoth Tencent

Steve 114

Kittens and bears

If you've watched, ever since Christmas the Reddit front page has been aberrant. Now guess why.

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Should the super-rich pay 70% tax rate above $10m? Here's Michael Dell's hot take for Davos

Steve 114

All of the major policies cover cancer. That's why they get so expensive as you grow older.

'Nun' drops goat head on pavement outside Cheltenham 'Spoons

Steve 114


So where was the 'Nun's Goats Tail'?

Do you feel 'lucky', well, do you, punk? Google faces down magic button patent claim

Steve 114

Re: Yiddish?

Isn't Yiddish a Germanic dialect (derived fron the German word 'Judisch') with Hebrew and Polish borrrowings, but entirely distinct from pure Hebrew?

Brit comms regulator Ofcom: Disabled left behind by tech

Steve 114

Try harder

Disabled people I know seem disinclined to explore the many facilities available, some need helpers to show what can be done. A partially-sighted legal professional had never even explored the 'magnifier' that's been in Windows since forever. Some software gizmos do need a software licence - hey, cheaper than TV, cheaper than a car?

Army had 'naive' approach to Capita's £1.3bn recruiting IT contract, MPs told

Steve 114

Re: Actually...

Maybe the 'real' business model is to accept the opprobrium for operating unpopular but necessary public systems which the 'client' is constitutionally incapable of specifying properly. And doing it in a British way that has a visible cost, rather than a USian way which has contracts that will destroy the source.

Steve 114

Re: Actually...

Crapita originated as an outfit to do more efficiently what Local Authorities were failing to do themselves. We can dispute whether they ever managed that, or were ever ready for the transition to central government operation - but we should acknowledge the (failed?) principle

Steve 114

Utter fail

If I were young, bright, brave, unemployed, and enjoyed a fistfight in the pub (man-spec?) would I wait a year for some squirt to interview me? Click 'are you good enough?', then assault course to try (with expenses) next week - and video links for your mates to see how you do, and challenge to do better. Without benefit of internetty, that's how it was done 100+ years ago.

What happens when a Royal Navy warship sees a NATO task force headed straight for it? A crash course in Morse

Steve 114


This civvie did a brief stint in an RN establishmet, had a wardroom bar number for '1/3 HN' etc. Got wardroom bills for months after (who had clocked the number on my chits?). But no gent ever questions a Wardroom/Mess bill, so - paid they had to be.

50 years ago: NASA blasts off the first humans to experience a lunar close encounter

Steve 114

Re: Remeber those heady days of the Apollo missions well

Those who worked on the project were from several nations, but committed to full integration of culture and language. Maybe a wall is needed against those who might never be.

Steve 114

Re: Remember

I was allowed to sleep on the sofa until it happenned. Immensely exciting then, and truly astonishing now - and is there really any practical need to do it again?

Spending watchdog points finger at Capita for 1,300 shortfall in British Army rookies

Steve 114

Get Real

How hard can it be to get young people to signup online for exacting bootcamps, conducted for free by serving military, with 'Start Monday' awards for anyone who can make the grade and impress the experienced instructors?. Then 4 months basic to do the weeding, before they get an (assisted) choice of Regiment. Cybersqaddies could have a different, but just as arduous, track.



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