* Posts by Richard

112 publicly visible posts • joined 12 May 2007


Intel could Atomise handsets in two years

Richard Silver badge

Woah, Intel bought Wind River?

That's the real story here. They have the Real-Time-OS market pretty much sewn up - almost every small, high-availability embedded system runs on VxWorks.

- We aren't talking phones here. This is serious industrial kit.

Microsoft don't have any RTOS products at all - and Linux isn't one either.

Airport ID cards only for the newbies

Richard Silver badge

@Michael Habel

The airports already have suitable schemes, and have for decades - small ID cards with a photo, a name and employer/department written on them.

This is all about the former Home Secretary trying to replace a 'known good' and non-intrusive system with a new, very intrusive system that nobody has any clue as to whether it works or not, and in fact has no method of reading them whatsoever.

Apparently one is supposed to "flick" the new cards to find out if they are genuine.

Blears is latest to scurry away from Brown's Cabinet

Richard Silver badge


I'll vote for that.

All Hail Sarah Bee! Hail!

Less seriously, I'm confused as to how Ms Blears got into the cabinet in the first place - every time I watch BBC Parliament she seems unable to make a coherent speech, even when she's reading a prepared statement.

I thought speechmaking was a critical part of the job?

Lenovo unveils Ion-inside netbook

Richard Silver badge

"Simplifying" themselves out of the market then.

Not only does it have the known-to-be-rubbish Intel GMA chipset instead of the known-to-be-pretty-good nVidia one, but it is only slightly smaller, has worse performance and costs the same as a 'proper' laptop.

Netbooks are supposed to be small, cheap and have extremely long battery life. This is none of them, and is therefore a small-screened, expensive and low-performance laptop.

Shoot yourselves in the head next time - it'll be less messy.

Sharp creates true-hue five-colours-per-pixel LCD

Richard Silver badge

Colour theory is incredibly difficult.

To start with, the human eye does not actually see red, Green, Blue.

The vast majority of humans see Blue, Yellow/Green and Yellow/Red - the latter two are extremely close to each other and very wide-band (low purity) receptors, while the blue is very narrow (high purity).

- This is partly why Blue LEDs look so bright at low power levels.

Some women have tetrachromancy, and have a fourth colour receptor as well.

At low light levels, there is also a 'brightness' receptor that has yet another curve - this is usually completely swamped, but becomes important at low brightnesses.

Sharp have done a lot of work in converting YUV and sRGB into their new five-colour system, and it will be very interesting to see the real result.

E-cars are a dangerous myth, says top boffin

Richard Silver badge

Erm, most of you seem to have missed the point

The *fundamental* flaw with electric cars is the infrastructure. The article pointed out part of the infrastructure problem - they aren't actually 'green' because you still have to make the electricity somewhere.

So, how do you charge them?

How long does it take to charge that battery? How much current do you need to draw to do so? Where are you going to plug it in?

And how could the National Grid cope? It probably wouldn't. Several parts of the Grid are already at maximum capacity, and the UK generating plants sit at extremely high utilisation most of the time. We simply don't have any spare capacity, partly because of NIMBYs but mostly because they are really, really expensive to build so all the power companies have been putting it off as long as possible.

Wind will never (and I mean NEVER) be able to supply more than ~5% of the UK's needs, and as that can't be relied upon its only use is combined with pumped storage hydro to cover the surges in demand. Wind is not a base load supply.

Tidal isn't a base load supply either - twice a day tidal produces no power at all.

Solar electricity is a very bad joke - the older generation of photovoltaic panels used more energy in manufacture than they could produce in their lifetime. This isn't quite true any more, but it isn't far off.

There is a very simple solution to all this - Hydrogen.

You can use it to run either fuel cells or infernal combustion engines, and it's not much harder to store, transport and refuel than LPG. There are already millions of LPG cars around the world, so the problem of infrastructure is already solved.

Creating hydrogen is relatively easy - solar furnaces can do it quite well, you can make it from electricity when nobody else is using it (keeping the base load stations at maximum efficiency), I'm practically certain that you could get bacteria to make it, and I'm sure there are a few other ways that nobody has thought of yet.

So why not invest in a technology that actually does have a future?

Downing Street on Phorm: 'Meh'

Richard Silver badge

What a surprise.

Has The Register passed this on to Viviane Reding of the European Commission yet?

I'm sure they'll be very interested to know that UK.Gov cares so little about the ePrivacy Directive.

Bates: Cops to defy courts over return of indecent material

Richard Silver badge

@ Terence Eden

Plod can't wipe the drives - it would be destruction of Mr Bates' property, as the court specifically said they couldn't access the drives.

Furthermore, they do not know which drives contain the 'legally privileged' information in question and which do not, because they took many more HDD than their warrant permitted. Some of those drives could contain Mr Bates' personal data, or data pertaining to other cases.

The only legal courses of action available to the police are to appeal the result of the judicial review and obey the result or to return the drives immediately.

- I'm not sure if you can appeal against judicial reviews. Think it depends on which body did it, but it's definitely very expensive and thus simply not worth it.

Richard Silver badge

The police constable is an idiot and should be fired

It is NOT HIS JOB to determine whether or not to return the items. The court says he must, and therefore he must.

If a police constable refuses to obey any court order, regardless of whether they personally agree with it, then they must be instantly relieved of duty and their position considered by the relevant employment dispute board.

It's quite possible that the police constable should be arrested for theft.

US govt hydrogen highway runs out of road

Richard Silver badge
Paris Hilton

Idiot. Who pushed him to that?

Pure-electric is a complete dead-end. It's obvious!

Given the choice, and assuming that the two 'green' vehicles have similar purchase price (ie quite a lot more than a standard petrol or diesel) and the same range of say 200 miles (as that's pretty much the top end of Lithium Ion) do you buy:

A) A vehicle that plugs into a wallsocket in your garage and has to stay there 6-8 hours to allow it to go 200 miles.

B) A vehicle that you fill up at a station in a few minutes to allow it to go 200 miles.

The answer's obvious.

The answer is even more obvious if you don't actually have a garage - maybe you live in a flat, like the majority of city-dwellers.

OpenOffice 3.1 ready to lick Microsoft's suite?

Richard Silver badge

@Ian and @Danny

What were the retraining and loss-of-productivity costs of upgrading to MS Office 2007?

When it first rolled out, IT had to send out specific instructions to find the Print function!

I *still* cannot find half the stuff I used to use.

I spent ten minutes yesterday looking for the Crop tool for embedded images - I found it once, but I have no idea where it was and can't find it now.

That's just the latest example of the myriad of productivity hits caused by changing the interface.

There are apparently real improvements between MS Office 2003 and 2007, but other than Excel row count they're so well hidden by the new interface that they may as well not exist.

Not to mention the total disregard for a consistent interface. Have a look in Outlook 2007 - where's the ribbon? In email editors, but NOT in the main app.

Richard Silver badge

Oh, and @Ian

Never, ever forget The Law Of Least Surprise.

This is Rule One in user interface design, and always has been. Some researchers phrase it differently, but the key tenet is that the UI should respond the way the user expects.

For example, if something is clickable, it should *look* clickable.

If you radically rearrange stuff then you *surprise the user*, because it's not where they expect it to be. And thus they hate you for it.

Yes, menus are old. WIMP is old - but users expect it. They're used to it.

I've been racking my brains for months now, and the *only* benefit of the Ribbon interface is that it works better than standard menus on a touchscreen, because the hotspots are bigger. That's it.

Open Office understands that for users to truly accept something *new* and *different*, it has to look *pretty much the same as the old one*.

And the people who have thus far rejected OO, have rejected it on the basis that Writer *isn't similar enough* to MS Word 2003. (etc)

Super Micro rack-mounts micro Atom server

Richard Silver badge

Excellent idea

A lot of servers sit there doing almost no processing - they exist to serve and backup files from their large hard disks onto the network, and do nothing else.

Simply serving files doesn't take much processing power - the bottleneck is in the ethernet cable (gigabit or no).

This is never going to replace your SQL back-end and the like, and those take decent iron, but if they get the price right it's a killer for the pure fileserver applications.

Google data center takes leak on God's green earth

Richard Silver badge

So they leaked some refrigerant?

Ok, it's nasty stuff - but anybody else with an aircon unit could have the same thing happen, and it wouldn't be news.

But it's not news unless/until the result of the EPA investigation gets known - they'll either be told 'Don't do it again', or fined and told 'Don't do it again'.

Google is simply bound by law to disclose that it's being investigated so shareholders and dealers can take it into account when buying/selling shares.

The leak itself might have been news - shame on you for missing it!

US Congress inspects deep packet inspection

Richard Silver badge

The enemy of my enemy is my enemy's enemy. No more, no less.

Doesn't mean they aren't very useful though...

Richard Silver badge

@Anon 12:35GMT

DPI is in fact PRECISELY the same as phone wiretapping, as all the phone networks are digital now.

The majority of PABX are TCP/IP based, so I'd be quite surprised if the core exchanges weren't connected by something based on IP.

The international internet and phone backbones are the same glass, so probably some of the national backbones are dual-purpose as well.

Microsoft names Windows 7 RC1 dates

Richard Silver badge

And it still contains Windows Media Player

Didn't they lose that lawsuit already?

Why do they want yet another fine?

Darling's £0.5bn offshore windfarm 'leccy-bill stealth levy

Richard Silver badge

Wind generation is *stupendously* expensive

This is because the biggest wind plant can only generate around 2MW at most - that's their perfect windy day. They shut down if there's too much wind to try to avoid damage, and they obviously produce less output if there is less wind than the design speed.

(Source: BWEA, who lobby for them to be built.)

Interestingly, BWEA also say that the 'energy payback' time (how long it takes to generate the amount of energy used to make the unit), is 6 to 8 months for wind - but 6 months for coal or nuclear.

So even *they* think that coal and nuclear are cheaper.

Each wind turbine/generator set has more moving parts than the turbine/generator set used by a steam-powered turbine*. The frequency of maintenance is therefore likely to be much higher for a wind turbine, although the cost of parts is less as they're smaller.

The 'clean coal' plant E:ON want to build at Kingsnorth would have two turbine sets, producing a total of 1600MW *at any time required*.

- That's equivalent to over 800 wind turbines all running at maximum output, or 40 'normal-sized' wind farms.

Big plant is almost always cheaper to run than an equivalent number of small plants. It's called economy of scale - look it up.

*Wind turbines have a gearbox, yaw and blade pitch mechanism, which steam turbines do not. In a steam turbine the stresses on the turbine are completely predictable, while those on a wind turbine are not.

Show me a set of wind farms that will *always* have at least 40 of them at maximum output? You can't.

Wind farms are a dead end, just like electric cars. They have a place, but that place is coupled with pumped-storage to cover peaks in demand until the 'big iron' catches up.

The Big Iron has to be controllable and run 24/7, so can only be fired (coal/oil/gas/wood whatever), nuclear or geothermal. Anyone who says otherwise is living in la-la-land or doesn't think we need electricity.

We don't have enough geothermal available in the UK unless you dig a mohole, so the only CO2-friendly option we have is nuclear.

Jackalope gets jaunty with Ubuntu nip and tuck

Richard Silver badge


Your Office 2003 macros won't work in MS Office 2007 either without significant fiddling, so what's your point?

Not to mention the whole MS Office 2003 > OpenOffice 3.0 jump is easier than MS Office 2003 to 2007.

- On the other hand, Impress is not very good. This may reflect engineer's general dislike of presentation software.

Rail union ballots for strike over fingerprints

Richard Silver badge

@ AC, 09:44 GMT

It couldn't possibly work if it didn't store the fingerprints.

Such a system requires at a minimum, a database containing a fingerprint of all authorised users, each matched to a user ID.

It's also time to get the ICO on the case - there's no need whatsoever for this, and it's actually LESS secure, not more.

What is needed is very simple - a human security person, checking photos on company ID card against the face of the person carrying them.

Humans also have the great advantage of being capable of making decisions.

How about this: A person has no fingerprint today because they hurt their hand and are wearing a bandage.

Human - Hi XXX! How did you hurt your hand? Do you need any help?


Register readers on software development

Richard Silver badge

@Frank Gerlach

"Garbage-collected languages like Java and .Net increase the Energy bill of many companies unnecessarily."

Go on then, prove it.

You won't be able to, because changing the contents of a cell isn't under the control of the application - it's under the control of the operating system. When you ask for RAM, you get a pointer - it might point to real RAM now, but it might point to a hard disk location later.

On top of that, the refreshing of the DRAM is controlled by the DRAM controller on the motherboard, and not the operating system. The DRAM controller doesn't know (or care) whether a given byte is valid or invalid, and refreshes its contents regardless - even if it's entirely zero'd unallocated RAM.

So ignore the RAM - it's irrelevant.

If you want software to save energy, look to the CPU.

New Navy SEAL minisub's IT-system specs released

Richard Silver badge

PCI-Express, 100Base-T and VGA

Those are published standards with a huge installed base, known reliability, and low-cost licencing.

Can I have a few million dollars now?

Linux chief calls for FAT-free Microsoft diet

Richard Silver badge

U3 is horrible.

I work in support for a company that produces several different single-purpose embedded systems, and all U3 USB sticks simply don't work 'out of the box' because they don't appear like standard USB sticks. We've had to issue a set of instructions for removing U3 due to the number of support calls asking why U3 doesn't work.

In an embedded environment, we don't have the option of 'just install some drivers' - it's got a small subset of drivers we chose and tested, and the end user doesn't get to expand that set as we have no idea how these extra drivers would affect the existing system.

We simply support FAT12 (no-OS systems), plus FAT16 and FAT32 in the Linux systems.

The WinXP Embedded-based systems obvious do support NTFS, as that comes 'free' with the licence.

We don't support long filenames except on the systems based on Windows XP Embedded, entirely because of this kind of patent silliness.

On the other hand, if Ext2/3 became popular, we'd probably add that to the larger systems in a firmware update.

'Vista Capable' plaintiffs seek class action revival

Richard Silver badge

@James O'Brien

"Aero" was the part that Microsoft were using to advertise Windows Vista, so from the point of view of a layman, Aero IS Vista.

The 'under-the-hood' stuff is basically irrelevant - for example, most people just want a car that 'goes fast', is 'comfortable' and 'looks good'.

They don't care about the methodology used for the automatic advancement, or what kind of timing it uses.

Just like 95% (or more) of computer users care about three things: It does the stuff they want to do, looks pretty and feels fast.

Windows Vista Basic only satisfies part 1. It looks pretty much identical to WinXP, but feels slower.

FBI releases pics of low-level suspects in $9m ATM scam

Richard Silver badge

How much did each card let them take?

100 cards would be $90,000 from each!

And given that they're payroll cards, those would be from low-paid workers. I'd be surprised if any of them earn half that figure in a year.

And the banks tell us that they have 'good' security protocols?

OpenDNS rolls out Conficker tracking, blocking

Richard Silver badge

@AC 10:24 GMT

Two things:

1) I can easily *choose* to use OpenDNS if I want to. I'm not tied in by a long contract like I was with BT.

2) If I decide I don't want to use it anymore, I can disable the service in moments and tell my computers not to talk to OpenDNS at all. I'm not stuck to *hoping* that the opt-out agreement worked.

Windows 7 UAC shutoff 'bug' leaves Microsoft unmoved

Richard Silver badge

@AC 02:35

Yes, you are missing something.

He's saying that at the default security level, a random program can shut down UAC without the user knowing it happened.

- It could also re-enable it after it performed its nefarious deeds, so an end-user would have no idea something happened.

An end-user should be allowed to turn off UAC, but they should get a UAC prompt asking if they are sure and that they did it, rather than it being possible for an evil program to silently kill it.

Richard Silver badge

That'd be "Broken By Design" then.

No change there.

And I had such high hopes for Windows Seven.

MS - there is still time to unbreak it. Maybe you should listen to security consultants?

SpaceX assembles Falcon 9 rocket

Richard Silver badge

"Full cargo" without any cargo?

That's insane.

Yes, it's probably not a good idea to send up anything particularly valuable or difficult to replace, but why not send up a few tonnes of consumables?

If it goes horribly wrong, the consumables go up the way they were going to anyway, and if it works fine then there's more space on the next mission for valuable stuff.

UK gov to issue child boozing guidelines

Richard Silver badge

In the spring?

Way, waaay too late.

That's after the Xmas/New Year celebrations, and so long before the next year's ones that everyone will have completely forgotten by then.

Why not release them at a time when people will actually notice?

Motor quango thumbsup for satnav speed restrictions

Richard Silver badge

Have they ever driven on a motorway at night?

Motorways at night are full of long trails of HGVs sat at their limiter speeds.

All limiters are not exactly the same, so you see the trails of HGVs using lanes 1 and 2 as an HGV whose limiter is set to 56.1mph overtakes another HGV whose limiter is set to 55.9mph.

This takes a very long time.

And it's a horrible mess, because it limits all other vehicles to lane 3 - even if they don't want to be there - because it's the only way to pass them. No car driver wants to be sat behind or next to an HGV for any longer than necessary - if that vehicle has an issue for whatever reason, you will probably die because the trailer is not easily predictable.

- Ignoring all the HGV drivers who have gone into a stupor due to being sat at the limiter for hours.

Do the same to cars, and you'll see the same thing happen - some limiters will kick in at 71mph, others at 69. You already see this in a 'manual' form - according to my satnav, my car's speedo reads 70mph when I'm actually doing 66mph, so I'm probably annoying the drivers whose speedo is more accurate.

If they are intent on a hard limit, that limit must be considerably higher than the speed limit.

This means drivers aren't forced into convoy or slow overtaking, and they also don't sit at the limiter.

Verizon awarded $33.15m against cybersquatter

Richard Silver badge

Surely Google knows?

Most of the ads will be Google ones.

And thus one way to collect is to get the court to allocate all the funds Google would have paid to OnlineNIC to be to Verizon.

This would pretty mush crush OnlineNIC without even finding out who they are - they'll lose their revenue stream.

VMware to cut desktop storage by 80 per cent

Richard Silver badge

The whole concept breaks down if you're actually mobile.

For example - I'm currently in a hotel in Egypt. Internet is available if I log into the website everything initially diverts to and pay for it.

If my computer was 'just' a thin client, I wouldn't be able to type this.

So it only works if your users are completely office-based, in the same complex as your server.

The idea is probably ideal for hot-desking environments, but it's useless for anybody that travels - that probably also includes travel between offices, because the system will be ludicrously slow across the Internet. (A single USB 1.1 root hub is faster than the Internet...)

In other words, these 'travelling desktops' only work if you don't actually travel.

Bittorrent declares war on VoIP, gamers

Richard Silver badge

I find ISP pricing strange

I pay my ISP a monthly fee.

My ISP pays their upstream supplier a per-GB fee.

The owner of the physical backbone paid an installation fee for the infrastructure, plus ongoing maintenance, unrelated to the amount of traffic that actually passes through said infrastructure.

- Thus effectively a monthly fee.

None of this makes sense...

MP calls for Jezza Clarkson's head

Richard Silver badge

How do I write an "Uncomplaint"?

And does that decrease the number of complaints by one?

I listened to an interview with Chris Mole MP on PM last night on my way home, and here's a couple of choice quotes:

Eddie Mair: "Have any of the families complained to you about this?"

CM: "None, and I wouldn't expect them to"


CM: "I know what they would think"

For anyone interested, the interview is currently available on the BBC Radio 4 iPlayer for PM, starting at timecode 49min 25sec

(It'll disappear later today)

He doesn't half seem intent on being offended on other people's behalf.

Who actually were not offended anyway.

Anti-white-space lobby enlists God, Dolly Parton

Richard Silver badge


Actually, they can't.

Bluetooth has a maximum range of around 10m, and a latency you'll notice.

Plus it sits in 2.4GHz like everybody and their dog - I've dropped several calls due to somebody driving past me also on their Bluetooth headset.

EL Reg - You're wrong, it's not illegal.

Wireless microphones in the US have been using TV "Whitespace" for a very long time - that includes TV stations and Broadway productions.

The rules just meant that you had to be aware of other users - it didn't really matter, because a TV transmitter powerful enough for a TV to receive will almost always stomp on a microphone.

Finally, according to http://www.shure.com/proaudio/products/us_pro_ea_dtv

" the FCC has ruled that wireless microphones may continue to use all presently unoccupied TV channels until the end of the DTV transition"

- It's not entirely clear what'll happen after the transition though.

Speed cams ditched in Wiltshire

Richard Silver badge


Speed doesn't kill.

Driving in such a way that you cannot avoid an unexpected event is what kills.

Tailgating is *far* more dangerous than speeding - but it's harder to make a camera that spots tailgaters than spots vehicles producing a doppler shift greater than an arbitrary value.

London cabs to go 'lectric in 2009

Richard Silver badge

@Tony Smith

Finally! Some sanity!

On top of those obvious points, it is much easier to migrate however many Giga-Watts of generating capacity is required over to cleaner alternatives, rather than trying to put a small clean source into however many millions of cars are needed.

Official: gadgets not responsible for Qantas jet plunge

Richard Silver badge

I'm even more surprised now

Apparently "an Inertial Reference System fault occurred within the Number-1 Air Data Inertial Reference Unit (ADIRU 1), which resulted in the Autopilot automatically disconnecting."

So the system knew that ADIRU 1 was broken.

Yet for some reason "The faulty Air Data Inertial Reference Unit continued to feed erroneous and spike values for various aircraft parameters to the aircrafts Flight Control Primary Computers which led to several consequences including:" (the jet plunge)

I'm confused - if the system knew that said ADIRU was broken, why the heck does it continue to pay any attention to it? Surely once it's dead, you kill it and ignore it.

At the very most, you shut it down, reboot it, and check if it's still playing up.

In the fail-over backup systems I install and configure, that's the procedure! And our 'worst case scenario' is a live TV broadcast going flashy - which isn't going to actually hurt anybody.

Texan boffins working on electric cyber-heart

Richard Silver badge

The last time I looked at the bioengineering of hearts

The researchers seemed pretty certain that a pulse was *necessary* for the well-being of the arteries, kidneys and other parts of the circulatory system - and that was the main reason it was so difficult to make an artificial one.

All our bits evolved with blood being pumped around in pulses - static pressure is almost certainly going to cause issues.

There are a lot of human-designed systems that rely on pulsed power and fail (in some cases quite spectacularly) if fed continuous power.

Just try running a transformer on DC...

Vista scrabbles for X Factor

Richard Silver badge

My PC is a 2GHz Athlon XP with 1GB of RAM.

My brother has a Dual-Core Intel with 2GB of RAM.

Both have the original OEM install.

However, mine has considerably more rubbish on it as it's not had a clean-out in the last five years, the first two of which it spent running as close to 24/7 as Windows Update let it.

Which machine connects to the internets and opens Firefox faster from a cold start?

The machine that draws less power, has much slower processing and half the RAM - my Athlon XP.

That's actually true of all the common tasks, such as opening a document in Open Office for editing.

(We can't compare Microsoft Office as he has 2007 and I have 2003, so it wouldn't be fair on Vista).

The difference?

Mine's running Windows XP (SP2) - his is running Vista (SP1).

Surely this simple test of "What does a customer actually DO with their PC?" alone proves that Vista is in fact rubbish.

To Steve - My PC happily records Freeview, authors DVDs and even runs some rather hefty applications like Photoshop CS2 and 3D Studio MAX without complaining.

And it's considerably less powerful than the spec you quote for "does the usual things"

Phorm mulls incentives for ad targeting wiretaps

Richard Silver badge

If they'd started out like this, it might have worked.

Except for the website owners whose copyright they may be infringing.

Some of the 'carrots' are useless though:

* An upgrade to a faster broadband package at no extra cost

I've been told that I've already got the fastest my line can support. So has almost everybody taking ADSL broadband.

If that's not actually true, then I'm afraid Trading Standards need to get involved, and the ASA as well.

* £1 off monthly broadband bills

That might actually work. Well done - but make the number bigger.

* £1 cashback per month

Cashback deals are generally bogus. The Trading Standards have already investigated a lot of them...

* A cut of advertising revenues

Even better, as long as the minimum 'cut' is £2 per month.

* A free premium technical support line

The only tech support I've ever needed was when BT have screwed up.

* Free music download vouchers

I don't download music. Which store would they be for, anyway? Almost all of them stick annoying DRM into the files so you can't pay them on %device_of_choice%, and have to use proprietary software/hardware.

* Free anti-virus software

I already have it, as does almost everyone sane. There are a multitude of good ones, such as Avast, AVG and a few others. The 'big two' paid-for ones are useless anyway - Norton crashes my PC every time I start up a couple of graphics-intensive applications, and McAfee is incredibly slow.

* Parental content controls

This is shortly to be a legal requirement in the EU. Don't try to get me to pay for something the EU has mandated you to provide for free!

In short - too little, too late.

If it rolls out it'll be amusing to see the first copyright infringement lawsuits from webmasters though.

Obama weighs into Shuttle-v-Soyuz ISS brouhaha

Richard Silver badge

@ Matt Bryant

Grow a brain.

The "War on Terror" has already been lost - because we've (both the USA and the UK) given up many of the freedoms we had before the attacks.

Throughout the last several years, there have been two actual attacks on UK and US soil shown to have been perpetrated by Islamic extremists. The World Trade Centre demolition attack, and the July 7th London Bombings.

Prior to that, there were several thousand attacks on UK soil perpetrated by Irish extremists - the Real IRA, Provisional IRA, etc.

They were primarily funded by Americans... Funny that.

They killed a lot of real people too - yet there was never any 'We must invade xxx' or 'We're at war with yyy'

This so-called War on Terror is nothing of the sort - it's an excuse for governments to use when pushing through legislation to take away freedoms we previously enjoyed.

- Not to mention that the US government both claim it to be a "War", and also "Not a War!" - the people in Guantanamo Bay were described as 'detainees', not 'prisoners of war', and yet GW Bush describes it as a War.

We need to use actual intelligence, not knee-jerk actions and legislation. That way leads to a police state, if we aren't already there.

Yes, I shouldn't feed the troll. But it's worth saying anyway.

Did the width move for you, darling?

Richard Silver badge

I *hate* fixed-width websites. All of them. with a passion.

You've rebuilt this site for a precise pixel width.

If anybody has a monitor any size other than 1024 pixels wide, they either see the adverts on the right vanish into scrollbar land or they end up with ugly grey bars down the side.

Furthermore, the usual LCD resolution monitor one can easily buy today is 1280x1024.

1024 pixels wide has gone the way of the dinosaur - the only people who have that particular size are those who have kept using older monitors, or those on the larger EeePCs.

I've waited until now to post anything because I wanted to give the new site a try. Most of it is fine

I don't mind you moving a few things around, and the new graphics are OK. (I'll never say 'good' because I dislike logo redesigns on principle - they have a large cost and it's impossible to determine if they have any benefit)

BUT! Please scrap the fixed width. It's bad in applications, and it's worse on the internet.

The only people who use that particular design concept in the sphere of IT are idiotic control freaks who think that a 'web page' is just like a 'printed page'.

While you probably are control freaks, I sincerely hope you're not idiots.

Let the articles flow. The readers are here to read your written words, not stare at big grey bars!

Richard Silver badge

I used to see 30 stories without scrolling.

Now, I only see 17 stories, plus the six in the "Top Stories" box.

Scrolling is a pain on anything that doesn't have a scrollwheel - like a laptop for example.

I'm sure it must be possible to have the 'cells' containing the story headers stay the same size, but re-stack into the correct number to fit the width.

One other suggestion:

- The "The Register" logo in the page footer. Can it link back to the title page?

The main thing I disliked about the old style was that I had to scroll back to the top to get back to the title page if I'd followed several in-story links.

Now I have to scroll considerably further. (my laptop also has no home key.)

Sats blunder firm sacked

Richard Silver badge

@Hyman Ginsberg

Doing what research, where?

The *owner* of ETS Europe appear to be doing reasonably well in a commercial sense, but a lot of US schools don't seem to like them.

ETS failed for the following reasons (among others):

1) Inability to organise.

- Many markers were not told where and when their marking training would be until the day before. In some cases, the day after. To top it off, they were usually sent to the other side of the country instead of the local training session.

- Some markers were never told who their team leader ('line manager' to the rest of us) was.

- Many markers failed to receive proper contracts. Some markers were told "As you marked well last year...", despite this year being the first year they did it.

2) Massive logistics errors.

- ETS insisted that all papers had to be sent to marker's home address on a weekday. This resulted in almost every delivery being returned on first attempt, as most markers are teachers with jobs.

- ETS insisted that all schools send the papers to a central warehouse for re-labelling and forwarding. Previously, the papers were sent directly to the markers.

This meant that the warehouse was incredibly over-full - the delivery company eventually decided to deliver on weekends to clear the backlog.

3) Inability to create usable online data-entry system.

- Markers were required to enter the mark for every individual question, instead of the page totals. (Previously only grand totals were entered)

- Markers were not given proper login credentials until after deadlines.

- It was impossible to enter any marks for students that had not completed all the papers.

The data-entry system was also very difficult to use.

The online marking system used to 'ratify' markers was also incredibly difficult to use, allowing markers to go back and check sometimes, but not every time, and giving no indication of how much was remaining.

The helpline was rather understaffed - not surprising, given the above problems!

µTorrent silently fixes long-standing zero-day vuln

Richard Silver badge

@ Colin

Your comment is supremely fallacious. You've made the following two incorrect assumptions, among others:

1) The only things down/uploaded through torrents are unauthorised copies of copyrighted works.

Wrong - torrents are a primary distribution source for large files of all natures - latest Linux ISOs, freely-available video and audio content, open-source binaries.

There are also a few companies using torrents to distribute their copyrighted works, with users purchasing the licence and activating it separately.

2) Torrents are the only high-bandwidth consumers.

How about the BBC iPlayer? YouTube?

There's quite a few very high-bandwidth consumers out there.

Peer-to-peer transfer makes economic sense for many large-sized transfers, as it saves huge amounts on hosting costs.

Fake feet trip up Olympic opening coverage

Richard Silver badge

@the Rings

It's actually very simple to do.

I wasn't there so I can't be certain this was the methodology, but:


1) The floor of the arena was covered by one of (possibly the) largest LED screens in the world (500 feet long)

This screen played the 'sparkles' flying around, and many of the other effects shown during the ceremony.

2) A net of LEDs arranged into the shape of the rings were faded up as the sparkles coalesced. This net was then picked up by the over-arena rigging motors and hoisted off the floor and into the air.

If you watch the footage you can see the net slide backwards and then swing as it comes off the floor.

It was a truly excellent spectacle - I enjoyed it a lot.

(As to the fireworks - it was very obvious that they were CGI. Watch the launch points of each set - several of them are impossible)

Net shoppers bullied into being Verified by Visa

Richard Silver badge

Why VbV and Mastercard SecureCode are poor systems

A) Most banks don't tell you the system exists until after you've been shown it.

B) It requires that you re-enter your CC number and further details into an IFrame of obscure origin that you did not expect.

C) If you do expect the IFrame, it's relatively difficult to check that the IFrame is really from your bank/card issuer/payment verification system.

The reason for this is that you do not know WHO is supposed to be sending the IFrame (it's not necessarily your bank), and it's not even the same place each time, so if you check the certificate you don't know if it's the right one.

The form and appearance of the IFrame is the same across the vast majority of users - there are basically two different ones. It's therefore incredibly easy to spoof.

To top it off, all a black hat needs to do to learn all your security details is easy:

1) Spoof an IFrame that looks correct when the user gets to the payment verification stage where it usually appears.

2) Refuse your details, no matter what is entered.

3) Offer the standard "Re-register" options.

4) Harvest all details required to re-register.

5) Pass back to merchant site. Doesn't really matter if they can make the merchant think it's OK or not.

The black hat can now use your credit card any time they want, and you'll never realise it until you get the bill.

Step 1 is the only technically difficult part, but it's only hard if the black hat doesn't have access to the merchant's servers.

So if the black hat is the merchant, or has compromised the merchant's site in some way...

The underlying concept of VbV and Securecode isn't fundamentally bad, but as seems to happen very often it's been incredibly badly implemented.

Is green storage a dead end?

Richard Silver badge

@Steve Denegri

Unfortunately, given that your article says "We need to build more power stations", we must start from the position of "How would we fuel those stations?"

Secondly, given that you appear to think that all power stations run on oil, we must ask the question - How much oil is there?

Current estimates vary from between 20 years to around 100 years for worldwide stocks at current rates of world consumption, depending on whether you're wildly pessimistic or optimistic.

If your "200 years for the US stocks and US market" was accurate, the US wouldn't be in the least bit worried about current oil prices or the middle east and Russia, because they'd simply drill that oil, raise barriers to export and live happily for 200 years.

Where do you think these deposits are?

Alaska is very intensively drilled already.

Therefore, your proposition is bogus as it's based on incorrect information.

China is building loads of new power stations because it's got coal. Those stations burn powdered coal.

China is not going to export the coal it needs to run those stations, therefore anything it does is irrelevant to the US industry.

While it's true that there are already diminishing returns in absolute terms, as the cost of energy increases (due to the aforementioned decrease in core energy supplies) the actual value of those returns will increase.

There is an energy floor for storage - but we are several orders of magnitude away from it.