* Posts by SImon Hobson

1977 posts • joined 9 Sep 2006

Firefox 78: Protections dashboard, new developer features... and the end of the line for older macOS versions

SImon Hobson Silver badge

Re: I hope they finally cleaned up WebRTC

If you have IPv6 working on your router - presumably by default on an ISP supplied router - then it's pretty well a given that it will be using a statefull firewall. The default for the firewall will be to block all inbound connections - so you are as safe behind IPv6 as you are behind IPv4 and NAT. In some ways you will be safer as the default these days is for end user devices to change addresses every so often - so an attacker would be targeting something that's using just a handful of addresses out of a block of 2^64 addresses (itself only part of the wider internet of 2^128 addresses.) In principle, your device could use a different address for every outbound connection if it wanted to and thus present a "never in the same place twice" moving target - but nothing has got to that stage yet as it would break too many things (such as websites that expect relatively static client IPs).

In any case, probably the largest attack vector these days isn't from the outside working in, it's from a beachhead (via a compromised device) on the inside where it has full access and a full view of what's on the network. [sarcasm]All these devices that maintain outbound connections to all sorts of stuff they don't tell you about - yeah, that's a really good idea and not open to abuse [/sarcasm]

We're no longer helping UK Post Office persecute postal workers with our shonky system, says Fujitsu

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Re: Money missing....people went to jail....but no mention of independent audits? Strange!

One suspects that the auditors, when they were allowed to audit, did in fact find that there was a

problem - but since such a finding would be inconvenient to mangelement, the auditors would be told to go and do something else. Wasn't that a suggestion in the recent Panorama program on the subject ?

UK police's face recognition tech breaks human rights laws. Outlaw it, civil rights group urges Court of Appeal

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If the rights were balanced by allowing the police to scan for their normal rouges gallery and nick them to keep peaceful protests peaceful, but didn't attempt to identify people and didn't retain the footage, I can't see too many objections personally.

And there, in one sentence, I think you sup up the issue.

Like most people, I accept that the police need to have certain powers, and sometimes those powers might inconvenience me what going about my business as a law abiding citizen. However, I expect those powers to be of a scale appropriate to the task, and used in the most limited way possible.

If we had, using old-school tech, checkpoints at all entries to [somethings], and police there with "papieren bitte" making lists of all who attended - and known to be keeping those lists, and cross referencing them with all other information they hold, "forever" - then people would be "not very happy with it".

But here we are, the police have this new tech and it appears are operating on the "we can do it, therefore we should do it" - thus keeping those lists, with much lower accuracy and hence opportunity for innocent people to be categorised as offenders, in a much less overt way.

There is an argument in favour of AFR - but only if the checks and balances and restrictions are in place. The very first limitation should be that the lists of people should not be allowed to be kept. The second should be that any positive matches thrown up by the system must be reviewed by a person and all rejected records deleted.

But at present, there is effectively no oversight, no rules, no limits on what the (by all accounts, very inaccurate) information may be used for and how long it may be kept. Thus the means for long term mass tracking AND PROFILING of large numbers of the population without their knowledge or consent. As mentioned above, it's not that dissimilar to the police having found a way to covertly take fingerprints of everyone passing a checkpoint - and collecting that information with no oversight or rules. The only mitigating factor at the moment is that the information is of limited use to them due to the carp accuracy of the system - so far.

Facebook accused of trying to bypass GDPR, slurp domain owners' personal Whois info via an obscure process

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Hmm, does the US have something similar to the UK's "vexatious litigant" rulings ?

Since it's clear that faecesborg is running an automated system to ask for details of registrants for domains that are clearly not infringing, then their litigation is clearly vexatious and the registrars really ought to go down that route. It would be wonderful to see - in the UK, AIU if a litigant is declared by a court to be vexatious, then they are barred from further litigation without getting permission from the court first. Yes, that would be so loverly to see applied to faecesborg.

Ah, it appears the US does have such a thing, but it appears to be a fairly high hurdle to clear.

ICON - imagine a very large pile of manure hitting a very large fan

Someone got so fed up with GE fridge DRM – yes, fridge DRM – they made a whole website on how to bypass it

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Re: I will never buy a fridge you have to plumb in.

Depends on the run length. At our last house, there was about 3 feet of pipe from the boiler to the washer connection. OK, it was a combi, so the argument isn't really applicable - but gas heated water is cheaper (and quicker) than electric heated water.

When I get my thermal store fitted (currently on hold as the factory shut down), there'll be a circulating pump on the DHW for exactly the reason you cite - I'm peed of with the amount of water we have to waste before we get the hot water we want (often a small amount). Will that be energy inefficient ? Not for most of the year when the heating would be on anyway, and the pipes will be lagged.

SImon Hobson Silver badge

Re: home use printer that doesn't dry up between uses

From memory, if you want good photos then Dye Sublimation is a reasonable choice. And being solid, the ink doesn't dry up.

I've no idea how the financial side works out though.

And then there used to be a wax printer that used solid blocks which it melted and then spat at the paper ala ink jet (IIRC). No drying up there, but I suspect the wax blocks aren't/weren't cheap.

An Internet of Trouble lies ahead as root certificates begin to expire en masse, warns security researcher

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Re: Lawyers... start your engines

But this is about the equipment "failing" because a part of it has stopped working. IN this case I think it's a "slam dunk" case as our US friends might call it.

Has the equipment ceased to function - either in whole or part ? Yes

Is that due to a fault ? Yes, it's because a certificate has expired and so the equipment can't make secure connections.

Was that fault present, or could it reasonably be believed to be present, at the time of sale ? Yes, the certificate was part of the software, and it would have been obvious to anyone that it would expire on [some date].

So unless the retailer can that at least one of those statements is not true then they are liable and will lose in court. But since all three of those would be a given for the issue being described, they don't stand a chance. It's a completely different situation to the likes of Revolv where the equipment still "functions", but can't do something because an external service has stopped.

But that's a different (though related) debate - there needs to be some guarantee over provision of such services for at least a set time.

SImon Hobson Silver badge

Re: Um...?

I vaguely recall that yes, you can add certificates yourself - but there's a restriction in that you have to have lock screen security turned on.

SImon Hobson Silver badge

Re: Lawyers... start your engines

They will sue, sue and sue until they get a solution

Sale of Goods and Services Act (or whatever it's replacement is called this week) is your friend here. There is an automatic assumed warranty of "reasonable durability" - where "reasonable" is not defined in law, but would be considered on a case by case basis in court. Taking something simple to understand such as a pan for the kitchen - if you buy a pan for 50p off the market, then you can't reasonably expect a lot of durability from it; but if you splash out on something expensive (such as those heavy and expensive cast iron things from Le Creuset) then you could reasonably expect the handle not to drop off after a few months.

The key things is that in law there is no time limit to claim for faults which could reasonably be assumed to exist at time of manufacturer - though the statute of limitations constrains you to 6 years (5 years in Scotland). A certificate expiring and bricking a device is a built in fault - absolutely no wiggle room out of that one.

The claim is against the retailer, not the manufacturer - so as long as the retailer is still in business there is someone to claim against. I would imagine that if the likes of Dixons Group (owners of Currys & PC World) or Asda or Tesco, or ... turns round to manufacturers and basically said "you're carp has cost us £XM in claims - compensate us or never sell another product though us ever again" then there's enough clout to get the attention of the beancounters in even the biggest manufacturers.

But that relies on consumers realising what's gone on and actually claiming rather than just adding to landfill and buying more tat.

California bigwigs rule Uber, Lyft dial-a-ride drivers are employees, not contractors

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Re: I know many people who work so-called "gig economy" jobs here in California.

Contracting to multiple service providers is a problem if three of them want to set your hours to overlapping times - see there's no difference. If your terms of employment or contracting allow you to pick your own hours (as I believe both Uber and Lyft do), then it matters not whether you are contracting to them or employed by them.

UK or California law - makes no difference to the fundamental problem (or non-problem) you bring up.

SImon Hobson Silver badge

Re: I know many people who work so-called "gig economy" jobs here in California.

They don't need, nor do they want, multiple different "employers"

Firstly, there is no problem having multiple employers - unless one of them insists on an exclusivity clause.

But the main thing is that if someone truly wants to be a contractor and work for Uber, or Lyft, or ... then that is quite possible within the law. All they need to do is to setup their own business - whether as (to use UK terminology) a sole trader or a limited company - and contract with one or more others. Particularly if the one business contracts with more than one of the services, and provides their own equipment, and insurance, and controls it's own employee pay (noting the rules on minimum wage, holiday entitlement, sickness cover, etc, etc, etc), and has the right of substitution (e.g., if one is sick his/her spouse could take over), and ... then it would be clear that it is a service provider subcontracting provision of services. Under UK tax law, contracting with multiple clients (e.g. with both Uber and Lyft) at the same time would be a good indicator against it being disguised employment.

But what Uber and Lyft and the others offer is not a contract for services that such an arrangement would provide - they offer what is clearly a contract for employment with some weasel words that time and time again have been shown to be just a way to try and wiggle out of their legal obligations.

So no, from what I read, "not wanting multiple employers" isn't a valid reason to allow thousands to be taken unfair advantage of.

UK.gov announces review – not proper inquiry – into Fujitsu and Post Office's Horizon IT scandal

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Re: Letter (email) Written to my MP

For things like this, I ask my MP "please ask the minster responsible ..." - preferably naming the appropriate minister. That way, they have little to do themselves, but the ministers get a lot of queries from MPs. Ministers don't like this, and it takes (according to sources I had years ago) only a few letters from MPs to get their attention.

But I understand your frustration. Our previous MPs were much the same - if the answer could be done by copy-paste of a party soundbite then you might get one, otherwise it was unlikely (especially as most of my queries conflicted with policies of his party). At one point I was intending to go and see him in person and ask direct - why don't you answer any of my letters ? Harder to ignore when you're sat across a desk from them, but I never got round to it, and I really didn't write many.

The alternative is to not bother writing at all because "it doesn't change anything". That is a self fulfilling prophesy since if nobody complains, then TPTB can assume that everyone is happy.

SImon Hobson Silver badge

Re: Letter (email) Written to my MP

Indeed, everyone please write to your MP and demand a proper public enquiry - subpoena privileges, penalties for perjury, etc. Anything less is seen as an attempt to cover up the cover up.

Off to do mine now ...

'One rule for me, another for them' is all well and good until it sinks the entire company's ability to receive emails

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Re: Been There...

That reminds me of an incident we had at a previous place, way back around the turn of the millennium, and when email was in it's infancy. Our first email server was a package who's name I can't recall running on a Mac IIcx that was a hand me down from the art&design dept. We were migrating to a more capable server, and to avoid the "go round and do everyone's settings at once" trick, did mailboxes one at a time - and as each user moved, we setup a forward from the old server to the new one.

It was working fine, then one day we "had a problem". The two servers had different mail size limits set. A largish mail came in, and was forwarded to the newer server, where it exceeded the mail size limit and got bounced - back to the old mail server. The old mail server then attempted to deliver to bounce message (which included ALL of the original large message) to the user at the new mail server. It was actually rather fun to watch - it went fairly slowly as both servers were not exactly the fastest computers around, and we were probably still on 10M ethernet back then.

Even more fun was when someone external sent a 10MByte email to a user at a remote site. Our internet was 64k ISDN, and it was another 64k link to the remote site. When the email "hadn't arrived", the external user resent it. Then they sent it again, and again, and ... Back then, Demon allowed you to query the mail queue - and there were several of these 10MB messages blocking the line and causing all the other email to be delayed. "Explanations were given" to the user regarding the practicalities of large emails, and why not to expect instant delivery, and why not to have them resent.

SImon Hobson Silver badge

I had never seen (other than in films/on TV) a computer before I got to 6th formin the late 70s. There was a rumour that the secondary school had one, somewhere, but I never found it. At 6th form they had not one, but two - Exidy Sorceror, one has 16k the other had 32k RAM, and storage was on cassette.

I bought one while I was at 6th form and was one of only a very small number of people to have a computer. Mine was an Ohio Superboard (1MHz - yes, that's not a typo) 6502 and 1k byte (no, that's not a typo either) of RAM (expandable to a whopping 8kbytes of RAM). And I'm sat here typing on a rather aged laptop, grumbling about being limited to only 8G of RAM (hardware limit) with more than 8G of swap space in use.

As an aside, it's interesting to note that years ago I was in business selling and supporting computers. My colleague had this story about how he went to demonstrate an accounting package - and after an hour someone asked why he kept pressing buttons on the keyboard. They genuinely though tthat you just showed (e.g.) an invoice to the computer and it read it. Now, getting on for half a century later, we are almost to the point where that can be done - AIUI some of the advanced features can now interpret a scan (or photo in the mobile enabled age) of an invoice - or at least make a half decent stab at it.

The downside to all this is that we are using applications and OSs that take up gigabytes of disk space, and most people have no idea how any of it actually works. Even with something like the Arduino, there's a huge layer of middlewhere to isolate the programmer from what's actually happening - a far cry from the days of hand assembling code to run on my computer with only 1k of RAM.

I suspect I don't have a computing device in the house that isn't orders of magnitude more capable than those that first put a man on the moon ! Actually, that's not quite true, the old Superboard is still in the attic.

Amazon declined to sell a book so Elon Musk called for it to be broken up

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As an author, one is not a consumer but a content creator entering into a contract with a distributor

That is notionally true, but ...

As you enter into that contract, do you have any negotiating power beyond "take it or leave it" ? No ? Not exactly a "meeting of minds" is it.

And as an author wanting to get reasonable sales, can you really afford to say no to Amazon ?

And therein lies the problem. To a sizeable part of the population, "buy a book" means "go to amazon.com" - and if your book isn't there then it doesn't exist. They may not have a monopoly, but they certainly have significant market dominance - which makes their ability to determine "what is truth today" something of a problem, and IMO their dominance is getting close to (if not already there) being sufficient to say it's not reasonable for them to "just decide not to do business with you". If what you are selling doesn't fit with "the world according to Amazon" then they have the power to effectively kill your sales - unless you are in a position to do sufficient marketing to overcome the "doesn't exist according to amazon.com" problem.

SImon Hobson Silver badge

While (without having looked at it) I think we can assume the booklet is a pile of drivel, you either accept that people are (more or less[0]) free to say/write what they want, or you accept (as mentioned above) that books will be vetted by the committee of truth. In this case, you have a powerful commercial organisation imposing it's own committee on truth with no oversight and without even saying what rules it's applying.

[0] Yes, there's the obvious thing that shouting fire in a crowded theatre is "not a good thing", and neither is inciting people to violence. So you can never have complete and unfettered rights to freedom of expression. But in civilised societies, we have the bare minimum of restrictions so as not to suppress fringe ideas - and lets face it, history is littered with "crazy fringe ideas" which later turned out to actually be rather sensible. The big problem is the much larger number of properly crazy ideas that aren't sensible.

BoJo looks to jumpstart UK economy with £6k taxpayer-funded incentive for Brits to buy electric cars – report

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Re: Electric cars....

how many nuclear power stations have been FULLY decommissioned, with the old fuel stored safely for the next few thousand years, and at what cost?

Ah, that good old standby diversionary tactic !

The first thing to bear in mind is that typically the pro-wind lobby like to compare 50 year old nuclear designs with the newest windmill design - and argue that because old designs had problems, all nuclear must have all the same problems. That is really what most people would call a lie.

When we started with nuclear, in what could well be considered a lack of forward thinking (I wouldn't disagree with it) they didn't really consider decommissioning in the design. That in itself makes decommissioning more expensive than it needs to be.

But the anti-nucular lobby managed another PR hit by demanding that we deal with nuclear "waste" in teh most difficult and costly manner possible. Lest say you have done the Sunday roast, and have a roasting tin that's been in the oven and is nice and hot - do you a) leave it to one side to cool down before trying to clean it, or do you b) insist on cleaning it while it's still too hot to touch without special protective measures (an oven mitt) ? Logically you let it cool down till it needs no special handling - but the anti-nucular lobby have managed by "lies and halftruths" to get the masses so worked up that they demand TPTB deal with nucular while it's still too hot to handle.

For example, consider the old Magnox stations like Calder Hall. AIUI they did have a plan in mind when they built them - the plan being that at the end of life they shut it down and just leave it to cool for a bit, when it's cooled down enough you remove the fuel, and remove all the ancillary stuff leaving just the reactor and containment. So you'd be left with a block of concrete something like the size of a house, post a guard in case someone tries to graffiti it, but otherwise it's a risk to no-one and no use to a terrorist. Apart from this small house, the rest of the site can be returned to greenfield if you want. After 100 years, it's still so radioactive (yes, that's sarcasm) that you can just cut a hole in the side, walk in and carry out the carbon moderator blocks. But no, that sensible plan is no good - never mind that we could put 1p in a savings account, and thanks to the wonders of compound interest that by the end of the universe it will have grown to pay for your bill at Milliways ... oh sorry, went off at a tangent there. But it would be fairly easy to set aside some money now that would pay for all the costs in 100 years time. Instead certain groups insist on us doing it NOW and having to handle the benign stuff that is more or less the same as common coal as nucular waste needing careful and expensive treatment and storage. And having made people do stuff the most difficult and expensive way possible - then use the cost to "prove" that nucular can't be cheap.

And that's before we get into the discussion about the fuel "waste". How we handle nucular fuel is roughly the equivalent to going to a petrol station, dispensing a few gallons into a bucket, using a thimble to pour some into your car, and then throwing the rest away. Naturally several gallons (less the thimbleful) of petrol is hazardous stuff so will need expensive handling and storage "for ever". Yes, it's crazy, but that is how we use nuclear fuel - we throw most of it away with all the costs of disposal and storage that entails, rather than actually using it. I believe that if we built the right sort of reactors, we have enough processed fuel in storage (but labelled as waste) to supply all our (the UK's) lecky for something like a century. And at the end, we'd have a small amount of waste left over.

and nuclear is not carbon free by any stretch

And neither is wind. It would be interesting to see an accurate comparison taking into account all the factors through whole of life. Simple things like : a windmill uses a lot of steel and concrete in it's foundations - nothing like the quantity used in a nuclear power station, but then it'll never put out anything like the energy the nuclear power station will. So if you take all the windmills that would be needed to match the energy output of the nuclear station, how big a pile of steel and concrete would that be ? That's just one "for example" (and ignoring the non-recyclable composites sypically used in the blades) - no I don't have the answers, but I do know that there are orders of magnitude difference in the power outputs.

If you are still with me, yes you might just get the feeling that I think most anti-nuclear people are "severely misguided". Many because they are misinformed by lies, some because they have a vested interest in staying misinformed.

lastly, even the eye watering cost of a new nuclear power station is something that needn't be. For the record, I agree with the anti group - it's a "sh*tload" of money ! But it's not inherent in nuclear power, it's only inherent in how we've done it up till now. So far our designs have basically been large reactors that need complex safety systems - and that adds cost. So there's a driver that says the bigger you make the reactor, the less the safety systems cost in terms of £/MWHr - with the result that we now see (or don't as they aren't exactly getting built en-masse) multi-GW rated plants at "GDP of some countries" prices.

There is an alternative in the form of small modular reactors - which many groups are investigating/designing. With a small enough reactor you can "fuel it for life" and thus remove all the problems/costs associated with in-service refuelling, you can make it small enough that it's made in a factory and delivered complete on a lorry and thus remove a lot of the costs associated with on-site construction of pressure vessels etc, you can make it inherently or intrinsically safe (so you can just pull the plug on the ancillaries and it won't "blow up"), and you can make it low enough in cost that it's possible for modest enterprises to install them without needing underpinning by government level guarantees. Hopefully we'll see some progress on that front soon.

SImon Hobson Silver badge

Re: Electric cars....

The UK hasn't burned any coal (for leccy generation) for well over a month

Yeah, great statistic - the sort trotted out by renewables PR greenwashers.

Coal usage has been falling generally for a long time. In summer, most coal plants are shut down - because they aren't needed when lecky consumption is down. And we're in the hardest recession in memory, with a significant chunk of all industries shut down. It would be more of a surprise given the combination of factors if we were buring any coal at all.

But, as I write this, I look at the grid stats and guess what ? It's after sunset so zero solar. It's calm, and wind is doing less than 5% of the fairly low demand. But CCGT (i.e. gas, a hydrocarbon fuel) is doing 58% of demand.

The reality is that we are still very heavily dependent on fossil fuels and that is not going to change until we have a heck of a lot more nuclear. Adding a load of demand for charging lecky cars, and that's going to come from burning more fossil fuels. I do wonder how many of the "nuclear bad" group are also in the "lecky cars good" camp ?

SImon Hobson Silver badge

Almost. Rudolph Diesel used peanut oil for his new engine.

If Daddy doesn't want me to touch the buttons, why did they make them so colourful?

SImon Hobson Silver badge

Re: More of a Who Me? except he got away with it

Well-designed anything is hard to come by

I think it's partly a cultural thing.

Go back a generation or two and the expectation was that you'd pay good money and things would last (and be repairable). As I say, a cultural thing - few would consider or tolerate the disposable culture we seem to have now.

Roll forward and expectations have changed - possibly in a positive feedback loop. Mass production has lowered prices, and living standards have risen, making more "stuff" available to more people. Along with those lowering prices, the relative cost of repair vs replacement has changed - making it more economic to simply replace rather than repair. So expectations have changed, and that's fed back into the supply side - making things cheaper and less repairable.

If you think about it, from the supply side, the question becomes : why invest more in making a more expensive but repairable product when that means selling less of them due to the higher cost ? And so you end up in a race to the bottom of the pond.

And of course, a whole generation brought up to think about "price" rather than "value" feeding the supply side of that.

Brit MP demands answers from Fujitsu about Horizon IT system after Post Office staff jailed over accounting errors

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Re: My 2 pence worth

The judges comment at the in the sixth judgment on the Bates v Post Office group litigation are quite telling

Thanks for that link, his comments sum up all you need to know really - the PO and FS were a bunch of liars who'd rather send people to prison than admit that their precious system could be flawed.

One very interesting avanue is mentioned at the end of that piece : "If these cases are overturned, claimants could bring charges of malicious prosecution against the Post Office"

Now that could be interesting, if each person did that as soon as they were acquitted, that in itself would cause something of a new sh*tstorm for the PO. Not only that, but absent any action from government, I believe a judge in such a case would be able to declare the PO as a vexatious litigant which would in practical terms bar the PO from making it's own (unsupervised) prosecutions in future. But I bet that doesn't happen either.

Watch an oblivious Tesla Model 3 smash into an overturned truck on a highway 'while under Autopilot'

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Re: It is autopilot but not autonomous

Oops, correction - it's the THIRD post in the comments.

SImon Hobson Silver badge

The responsibility is clearly with the drivers

Technically yes, but as I've already explained in another post, when you reduce stimulation, then driver alertness will reduce. As the first poster pointed out, another car driver spotted the obstacle a reasonable distance before and took avoiding action. But that driver would have had situational awareness already - not taken time to acquire it when the "oh sh*t" moment happened.

So yes, there is a big problem with these advanced cruise controls - it is inevitable (basic human factors) that even the best driver will be less aware and alert when the car is cruising along under "autopilot". It's not the "fault" of the driver, it's basic human factors than make this inevitable - the only thing under driver control is how much effort (yes, positive effort) he puts into keeping alert, and then you get into a question of "if you are expending that much mental effort, why now just drive the darn thing yourself ?"

SImon Hobson Silver badge

Re: This is a driver assist not an autopilot !

Ah, but the TCAS worked - it's warnings just weren't followed.

Bear in mind that at the time of this crash, TCAS was fairly new and it would appear that there was some confusion on the part of one crew as to whether to follow the TCAS or ATC. These days it's very clear - you follow TCAS and then tell ATC what you've done.

As an aside, the reason TCAS uses climb/descend for Resolution Advisories is that vertical position is (or certainly was back then) a lot more precise than horizontal position. These days with extensive use of GPS and Mode-S, fully equipped aircraft know where they are to high accuracy and transmit this via Mode-S broadcasts. Other aircraft can pick these up and do the maths to gain accurate situational awareness.

But back then, position was largely a case of "the signal came that that direction" which is not very precise and "the signal was X strength" which is also very imprecise as received signal strength depends on both the transmitted power, and the orientation of both transmitting and receiving antennae. But with a properly calibrated pressure sensor, (relative) vertical position is fairly accurate - you don't need to know your height above ground or MSL (changes in atmospheric pressure change the relation between pressure and height), only the difference between yourself and the other aircraft.

SImon Hobson Silver badge

Re: It is autopilot but not autonomous

See the very first post on this. The driver would not have been very alert as most of the stimulus that keeps a driver alert and aware of his surroundings have been removed - that's the whole point of the high end adaptive cruise control. It makes no difference who says what or what it is called - this cruise control is designed and marketed as a way of letting the car take over a lot of the work and decision making, and that does mean that the driver is less involved in the task than he would be without it.

So you are cruising along, enjoying the scenery as you don't need to concentrate on the driving - the car is doing that for you. Then "what ?", "err ?", "oh sh*t !" - and the driver simply does NOT have the time to assess the situation, work out where the other vehicles are on the road, consider available exit strategies, pick one, and execute it. It's easy to sit in comfort, knowing what's going to happen, and watch a video - and say "what an idiot, all he needed to do was ..."

In the time available to him, getting the brakes on hard enough to emit smoke was pretty good going.

As an aside, one of the biggest problems in commercial aviation (well apart from most of it being on the ground at the moment) is crew alertness. Short haul flights probably not too bad, but on long haul it's largely a case of take off, wheels up, engage flight management - then sit back for a few hours, a few radio calls with ATC, perhaps a few course changes into the FMC, and wait till you arrive at your destination. There have been a number of occasions when flight crew have, lets remain polite, become distracted from the job of flying the aircraft - I recall one where the crew claimed to have been discussing rostering and failed to hear ATC calling them repeatedly as they over-flew their destination can carried on for a while, before turning round and flying back to where they were supposed to have landed.

AIUI, with the best of the management systems these days, the pilot can line up on the runway then the management systems can take off, fly the route, and land at the other end with the pilot only required to brake and then taxi off. I doubt that it's done very often, but you think of the challenge of staying alert for hours on end with that level of automation.

SImon Hobson Silver badge

Re: I get that the cameras may not have picked out the truck...

once you've learned how big something (like, say, a fully grown cow...) looks at a given distance

Sorry, couldn't resist


UK.gov dangles £400k over makers of IoT Things: Go on, let's see how you'd make a security cert scheme

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Re: What about our networks?

You are correct, but I can't see that changing any time - at all, not just soon.

ISPs don't care - as long as the router they ship to you "free" is a) cheap to them, and b) allows you to reach WhatsTwitFaceBorge then they are OK.

As to segregated networks, there are some real practical problems there. As it happens, SWMBO just got an Echo Dot - no I didn't buy it, I don't want it in the house, but SWMBO says otherwise and one of our daughters got it for her birthday present. I setup another SSID to connect it to with client segregation turned on - but then I also need to put SWMBO's phone onto a specific IP address and configure the network to allow the phone and the Dot to talk to each other. I'd use VLANs as well but none of my switches are VLAN capable and I'm not keen to spend on that right now - but if I did then that would complicate things even more as there'd be no ability for the config program to find the devices it needs to configure (usually based on being in the same broadcast domain). Of course, VLANs on a wired network would mean that you can't just randomly plug any cable into any socket where it fits - yes, that's the level of many people, if the plug fits then it must be the right connection (even if it's an RJ11 phone connector into an RJ45 network socket).

Now, I can do this as I've been in the IT business for <cough> decades. Your average user will not be able to even grasp the concepts. And automation really really will not cope with it.

Contact-tracer spoofing is already happening – and it's dangerously simple to do

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Re: Unhearing government

ha ha, yes I recall that sort of conversation where I explain that they've called me, so I'm either me or someone able to answer my mobile phone - so a very small set of people - but they could be absolutely anyone from anywhere in the world, so no, I am not going to tell them anything whatsoever until they prove who they are. Ah, but if we prove who we are, we could be telling someone else that you bank with us. I still don't care.

On that occasion, I think it was implied that the call was urgent, so I called the bank back using the number on the back of my card - only to find out (eventually) that it was just trying to sell me something I didn't want. I made an official complaint - the result of which was that the bank put a note on my account to say I didn't want marketing calls.

I did once get a call (from the same bank) that was genuine and urgent - fraud on one of my cards. Bu they still didn't get it. When I refused to identify myself, the person suggested I phone back and started giving me a number - I interrupted and pointed out that there was no way on earth I'd use any number given to me by some random caller who couldn't prove who they were. So again, called them back using the number of the back of the card, and took a while to get through to the right department and find that it was a genuine call.

80-characters-per-line limits should be terminal, says Linux kernel chief Linus Torvalds

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Re: not the terminal, the punch card

40 characters, you upper class wimps.

On my first computer* I had to make do with 24 characters, and I was glad of it. It also had only 1k bytes of (static) RAM.

Oh the joy when I upgraded to an ITT 2020 (licensed British version of the Apple ][) with disk drives, lots of memory (I also had a 64k memory card), and ... COLOUR !

Oh that seems a distant time as I sit here with my GHz clocked processor, 8Gbytes RAM (max for the machine), and 12G of swap in use. Even my phone eclipses those early computers.

* Ohio Superboard II, 1MHz 6502, room for 8k max of memory unless you added the expansion board. I think it was 24 characters, but that's a lot of decades ago now.

Railway cables overpowered errant drone's compass and flung it back to terra firma

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Re: Relocating office...

all CRTs where flickering like hell whenever a train passed

Pa, that's nowt. Try welding current being passed through the frame of a steel portal building.

"A few" years ago, our offices were being expanded - the factory & warehouse kept moving along into new extensions, then office were extended into the newly vacated bits. The contractors decided on "belt and braces" so welded all the joints as well as bolting them. Cue 'kin big welding transformer with welding earth cable just clamped to the nearest bit of framework while the welder goes round all the joints. The magnetic field has "very interesting" effects on the CRT screen the other side of the wall - "wobbling" the picture right off the screen !

A real loch mess: Navy larks sunk by a truculent torpedo

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Anyone care to chip in with a reason why the Navy wouldn't have cleared the area of non-essential personnel?

They did clear the area.

As the tale started, my first thoughts were "I remember that test range, used to stay at the caravan site part way down the loch". I was a bit too young to really get what was going on, but I do recall actually being there when they fired - and my father and older brothers getting excited at seeing the white line whizzing off down the loch. I also recall the PA announcements as they tried to persuade all the camp site users to clear the beach on the headland that jutted out into the loch - presumably "just in case" the guidance went wrong and the torpedo decided it fancied a bit of sub bathing (joke, this was Scotland in Summer !)

Having said that, I used to have a friend who worked at Eskmeals up on the Cumbrian coast. Even though they put out notices, some of the local fishermen were "of a strong opinion" and weren't going to let the authorities tell them when or where they could fish. Apparently, it was not unknown to drop a warning shot in close proximity to try and persuade them to leave.

'We're changing shift, and no one can log on!' It was at this moment our hero knew server-lugging chap had screwed up

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Re: Labels people, and read them!

And you never had the situation where a client changes it's IP every minute because it constantly jumped between the two DHCP servers which were active at the same time but serving different parts of the same scope

They won't unless something is seriously wrong. A standards compliant DHCP client will NOT switch servers (and hence IP pool) unless it's "home" server is offline. As the lease runs down, the client will unicast a renewal request to the server from which it got it's lease - the other server will not get a look in as it won't even see the packet. If your lease times are reasonably long (IIRC, Windows defaults to something like 8 days) then most clients will simply renew their lease at boot-up in the morning and then do nothing during the rest of the day. Some "not very sticky" clients may switch pool at this point - by simply broadcasting for any lease, rather than requesting their previous lease.

Windows clients go further, and are very very sticky about their leases - which is itself a PITA at times.

The iMac at 22: How the computer 'too odd to succeed' changed everything ... for Apple, at least

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Re: Vintage internet humour

If only I could upvote you more than once for that link

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Re: Don't forget...

No, I think it was the other way around. Standard USB plugs would fit in the sockets, but Apple's cables wouldn't fit into standard sockets. If I could be bothered, I'd pull out the box of random bits and look into this - I know I still have at least one Apple USB extension lead.

I think Apple's stated reason was to prevent keyboard problems from people using cheap and inferior USB cables that didn't transmit the power adequately. Hmm, don't they still use the same arguments for using "standard but not quite standard" stuff and charging extra for cables.

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Re: floppy and no slots

Hang on a minute, you are criticising the iMac for being limited - because you were in an IBM shop with that "used by no-one outside of IBM" token ring stuff that used incredibly thick cables, very bulky connectors*, and required eye-wateringly expensive switches to connect anything to it.

* Though to be fair, I've long looked at those and thought (usually after being presented with yet another broken something) ... if only others considered durability and robustness as a positive feature.

Also, yes I'm aware of the superiority of token ring in many ways. But the market spoke, and like V2000 vs Betamax vs VHS chose the technically inferior option.

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Re: Wot about the eMac?

The eMac came along later - after the original iMac, and the multi-coloured ones. Crystal white and 17" flat screen CRT - it's not long since my mum stopped using hers, I need to pick it up sometime.

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Re: No comments about the one obvious failing so far...

Yup, that hocky puck mouse was a complete failure.

I recall that you could buy clip-on bits of plastic that turned them into useable shaped mice. Or just buy a useable mouse.

But if you bought one of the clip-on adapters, it didn't cure the problem of them using a lightweight ball that just slid around once there was any dirt whatsoever on the rollers. It wasn't the first Apple mouse to suffer from that, and not the first for there to be an aftermarket in replacement balls that worked.

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Re: The full-blown Apple formula

SCSI had never been anything but problematic on the Mac

Have an upvote, because what you post is fairly spot on according to my fuzzy memory - except for the SCSI bit.

My memories are that generally SCSI was reliable and (for the day) very fast. There were issues around the time of the PowerPC introduction when the new SCSI subsystem software was buggy, but other than that I found it fairly reliable. The ability to daisy chain hard drives, scanners, printers, tape drives, and anything else you could actually afford to buy was great - at a time when PC users were messing around with crap like parallel port ZIP drives and the like (completely non-daisy-chainable).

Biggest issues were around the proliferation of SCSI standards and connectors, and just p**s-poor cables.

One complete and utter PITA I had was user inflicted - i.e. I should have said no. A (long standing and valuable IIRC) customer came along and wanted a SCSI cable for his portable. As I recall, the Apple portables used yet another cable with a more compact connector than the D25 used on the desktops until then. The other end of this cable had the wrong connector - I can't recall whether it had the 50 pin Amphenol or a D25 socket - and he wanted me to cut the wrong one off and fit the other type. Silly me accepted the challenge - and found rather more cores in the cable than expected, all of which needed to be ringed out and connected to the right pins in the new connector. I managed it though, and the customer was happy.

Apple-Google COVID-19 virus contact-tracing API to bar location-tracking access

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Re: Makes a change

That's been explained a number of times already.

Using bluetooth to find other devices - as is needed to hook up to your scales for example - is one way of identifying location. Build up a large enough database of IDs, and proximity to another devices is enough to locate you fairly closely. As with doing the same thing via WiFi SSIDs or base station MACs, you can be as careful as you want, it only needs one "I've nothing to hide" id10t to populate that database.

And THAT is why finding your scales means granting location permissions to an app.

Browse mode: We're not goofing off on the Sidebar of Shame and online shopping sites, says UK's Ministry of Defence

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Re: Indeed

Some of them still have fuel in their reactors

That would be normal and the sensible way to handle them - whether naval or civilian power.

When first shut down, a reactor has fuel in it that's "quite active" with a lot of short-halflife highly active elements in it - intermediate fission products. Handling fuel in this state is hazardous.

But, leave it a while, and the most highly active stuff will have decayed - fundamentally something cannot be both long lived and highly active. The longer you leave it, the less active whatever is left will be.

Similarly, once you've removed the fuel, what's left behind will be radioactive as well - and that will decay in the same way, anything highly active will decay quickly. So you leave it a while.

For this reason, at one point the plan for things like the old Magnox reactors was to simply build a house sized block of concrete around the core (having removed everything else) and leave it for perhaps a century. You could post some guards in case someone wants to graffiti it, but really it's inert and poses no danger. After perhaps 100 years, there's nothing particularly active, and you could just cut a hole in the side, walk in, and carry out the old graphite moderator blocks by hand. Simple, safe, planned, no long term waste problem. But instead, ill-informed protestors don't want that simple and safe approach - they insist that things must be done while the graphite is still "hot", thus (at least in part) creating the nuclear waste problem they complain about.

But if you think about it, the longer you leave the reactor in the submarine, safe in it's steel and lead box, the less hazardous it will be to deal with when you do finally do it.

I've never had the opportunity to try it, but I bet you could wind up some "greens" by pointing out that some windmill towers are made with recycled and slightly radioactive steel from nuclear plants.

Analogy. If you've been cooking, the pots are a lot easier to handle if you let them cool down before trying to clean them.

You can get a mechanical keyboard for £45. But should you? We pulled an Aukey KM-G6 out of the bargain bin

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Re: A decent keyboard is a decent investment

once you get used to how stiff the domes are in it

Ah, that reminds me of a customer repair job I had maaaany years ago - back when the standard (ADB) Apple keyboards were "reassuringly expensive". I forget the details now, but I recall one of the rubber bits that lifted the keys back up had been lost - but fear not, a look at Apple's spares list showed that the rubber bits were available in packs of 10 for very little. No problem, added them to my next spares order - they didn't arrive. Did this several times, and eventually got in touch to ask (I paraphrase in polite terms here) "excuse me Apple service, might you please give a reason why these parts haven't arrived ?".

The answer came back that Apple UK don't sell them. They are in the parts book, but Apple UK don't sell them - WTF ? Of course, because we are in the UK, we were only allowed to get our parts from Apple UK. And their suggestion when I asked "so what do I tell the customer then ?" was - sell them a new keyboard, around £130 in 1980s money IIRC instead of a sub £1 part.

I improvised with a piece cut from a large elastic band and a bit of superglue ! It made the key 'kin stiff (so swapped with the rubber bit from an infrequently used key), but after allowing for my time it saved the customer a good amount.

I also did a trade in replacing the microswitch in the original ADB mice :-)

Airbus and Rolls-Royce hit eject on hybrid-electric airliner testbed after E-Fan X project fails to get off the ground

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Re: Electric planes?

... reduce necessary onboard power, along with associated weight etc, for the critical take-off phase of flight

I have an idea for that, somewhat tongue in cheek ...

You have a socket at the end of the runway, and a cable about the length of the runway. You plug in the plane, it takes off using (in addition to it's own power) power from the grid for that energy sapping "accelerate a couple of hundred tons of stuff up to flying speed" bit, then the plug pulls out and the cable is wound back in ready for the next plane.

Actually I'm not alone in having had a similar energy saving idea some years ago, but I think all the manufacturers rejected it on the basis that they couldn't get elastic bands big enough.

OK, I'll get my coat.

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A small 50-100Hp turbine with an integrated brushless type generator

It wouldn't have to be that big as part of a hybrid with energy storage.

For cruising, the power requirements for most cars would be lower than that - and keeping to a lower output genny while using stored energy (batteries and/or supercaps) for higher requirements would reduce the need for throttling back the genny. That's one of the big issues with gas turbines - they work best at fixed (or only slowly changing) power outputs. Configuring the system such that it ran almost all the time at a set power level would mean it could be carefully optimised (efficiency, emissions) for that.

Royal Navy nuclear submarine captain rapped for letting crew throw shoreside BBQ party

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Re: Another thing...

What puzzles me is that the whole strategy of the UK appears to be geared towards protecting the NHS

That's only because, as others have pointed out, there are a lot of "not too bright" people around - who can't understand complicated concepts. The strategy is to contain the outbreak to the level where the NHS can cope* - because if it blows up past that, then the death rate will rise dramatically as those needing care cannot get it. Flattening the sombrero as our blond one put it.

So "protect the NHS" really means "don't be part of the problem that overwhelming the NHS would cause" - but that's not as catchy !

Baby, I swear it's déjà vu: TalkTalk customers unable to opt out of ISP's ad-jacking DNS – just like six years ago

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It's their network though

But it's your information and your computer they are impairing the operation of. Not only the CMA applies here, there's also the other one about interception of information (whatever it's called these days).

Australia to make Google and Facebook disclose ranking algorithms and pay for local content

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Still free as in beer

And that is the problem - how does anyone else compete with "free" ? You might invent the best mousetrap that's ever existed, but if your only option is to give it away for free then you aren't going to make much profit on it. So it is with Google - they have such an entrenched and dominant position that they can cross subsidise any new venture and literally buy their way into a dominant position.

They are the Standard Oil and IBM of today.

ICANN delays .org sell off after California's attorney general intervenes at last minute, tears non-profit a new one over sale

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From its founding to the present, ICANN has been formally organized as a nonprofit corporation "for charitable and public purposes" under the California Nonprofit Public Benefit Corporation Law Source (Wikipedia). I imagine that gives the authorities in California significant powers to monitor the conduct of ICANN and take action if they think it is breaking the rules. Whether this sale would break any rules is a different question - but just an investigation would (I imagine) put a brake on things.

But the obvious thing to ask (as has been mentioned above) is whether the sale is "proper" given the purchaser is clearly a shady business - no "above board" business would go to such lengths to hide the details.

Meanwhile, the response form ICAAN't will probably be "la, la, la, la, la ..." with it's collective fingers in it's collective ears.

Oh Hell. Remember the glory days of Demon Internet? Well, now would be a good time to pick a new email address

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Re: "Another bemoaned the hammering of yet another nail in the coffin of Blighty's ISP past"

Don't forget that back then, there were few ways of getting online to the internet - lots of walled gardens that tried to pretend the big bad internet didn't exist, and if it did then you really didn't want to go there - but few offerings for real, raw internet. From memory, most of the alternatives meant being a university student or staff and being sufficiently in the good books of the tech people there for them to let you have access via them. Ah, the magic of dialling up with my (by then) 9600bps "screaming fast" modem and waiting for the kick to their mail servers to spew the mail to you by SMTP - this was BP (Before Pop) days.

They really were pioneering days back then, and you had to have both patience and a bit of technical nouse.

I remember they used to have graphs of subscribers. If you knew their early history, then you could look at the graph and for each of the flat spots followed by a further climb, you could say "that was when they did ...". As I remember it, they wrote a lot of the software they used - they had to because a lot of it hadn't been invented at the time.

Kids of today, don't know they're born.

Icon because, when many a time I'd like to have bought one for the guys at Demon.

Animal crossing? Nah! Farmyard frolics, courtesy of Novell and pals

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Re: maybe traded e-i-e-i-o for plain old I/O?

Or the dyslexic version ...

Old McDonald had a farm, EIOIE


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