* Posts by Ball boy

168 publicly visible posts • joined 10 Aug 2009


FAA wants pilots to be less dependent on computer autopilots

Ball boy

Re: Dum dum dum dum dum

One pilot is acceptable in short haul flights: attention spans are minimised, the weather and the need for alternate flight plans won't vary *that much* in the vast majority of short flights and the planes tend to be smaller with fewer passengers to worry about - the whole deal is significantly less complex.

However, long haul? If nothing else, if you only have one pilot, who's in charge when they need a pee? And when one of the 200 passengers decides to throw a tantrum and the pilot (who has ultimate management responsibility) is asked to intervene, who looks after the ship then? And you're sure one person has the capacity to deal with a flame-out while also planning an alternate, talking to ground, making sure the crew know what to plan for AND keep everything fairly level 'cause I'm not convinced.

Microsoft mulls cheap PCs supported by ads, subs

Ball boy

Hold on: 'low spec hardware'?

Windows OS's can't run on low-spec hardware. For that, they'll need to use an OS that isn't bloated and runs well in limited resources.

The irony: MS will wind up selling boxes that can only run *nix. Shame they'll be tightened up to /only/ run their modified *nix but even so.

Nvidia RTX 4090: So hot they're melting power cables

Ball boy

Re: There's a problem with using parallel wires to spread the current

Downvotes? Well, one will be from the person who designed the connector ;)

The other two? Most likely people who missed the physics lesson when resistance was covered. For their benefit, let's have a refresher:

600W at 12V is 50 Amps. Let's assume it's connected via two pairs of wires and hope we get 25A in each.

Now, assume you have 0.01 Ohms resistance in one connector. Not much, is it? A tiny bit of corrosion or even the oil from human hands can add this kind of resistance, never mind the (relatively) high resistance we get with push-on fittings. Ohms law says P=I^2R so power loss in the connector will be 25^2*0.01. That's 6Watts of heat that our one itty bitty connector needs to dissipate somehow. Good luck.

If the vast majority of the power is taken from a 5V rail (and I suspect it is) then we're looking at having to dispose of 36W of heat, all other things being equal. Sure, some will radiate back up the connecting cable - but by bundling all the wire together and then stuffing them into pretty tube the PSU guys aren't helping much there. Going back to our 12V circuit though: the voltage on our bad connection has now dropped so our circuit will demand the majority of its current from the other feed wire, unbalancing the 25A we hoped to share out equally and so causing the other connector to heat up (no connection is without some resistance).

End result: a muted 'crack' sound - some magic smoke if you're lucky - and an engineer going back to first principles. I speak as someone who's built - and blown - a high current PSU because I forgot to swamp the resistive imbalances in the regulation stage.

Ball boy

There's a problem with using parallel wires to spread the current

As any ful kno, adding more wires in parallel will help carry a larger current - but electricity will always follow the path of least resistance so the wires and connectors between them won't automatically spread the load evenly. To get THAT to happen, any engineer with high current experience will use swamping resistance. This deliberately added load acts as the largest resistance in the line and so negates the differences between each conducting path - it's a common trick we all learnt back in the day: traditional high current PSU's used swamping loads to spread the current out evenly over all the pass transistors.

In short (no pun intended), you can't simply parallel a bunch of wires and hope for the best when you're working with high current because Ohms Law will bite you in the backside. I see no signs of the PSU industry adding swamping to their devices - and there's visibly no indication of swamping on the card (hint: it'd most likely look like a U-shaped bit of wire). The outcome is, I'm afraid, entirely predictable.

Microsoft fixes printing gremlin, ends that block on Windows 11 upgrades

Ball boy

Have we made no progress?

"Even with this troubleshooting update now available (it should automatically download and install) it will take up to 48 hours before the 22H2 upgrade to Windows 11 is offered, even assuming there are no other blockers. Redmond's engineers said restarting the system and checking for updates may speed up the process.

So, to recap: their automated updates don't always work and, by the way, after even 30-something years of Windows, switching it off and on again is still the recommended way to fix a problem.

The mind boggles. How in the name of <deity> can this still be an acceptable situation?

Japanese giants to offer security-as-a-service for connected cars

Ball boy

Re: Old timer doubleplus good...

What, like making a key fob that doesn't respond to a challenge/response call unless an accelerometer within it detects the fob is moving (that'd cut out midnight car theft at a stroke and should have been a standard feature from the outset) or the manufacturers realising that a car has to last many, many years, probably going without critical updates every few weeks (as we know we have to do with almost all other software-based devices) and still maintain rock-solid security?

Wishful thinking, I'm afraid: they rely on the insurance market picking up the pieces - and a cynic could argue that the industry as a whole benefits from car thefts because the missing vehicles have to be replaced. Not me: I'd never be caught uttering such a blasphemous and emotive statement.

Microsoft leaves the Office, rebrands everything as 365

Ball boy

Lipstick: meet pig

The case rests

Delta Air Lines throws $60m at flying taxi startup Joby Aviation

Ball boy

Re: Just a quite helicopter

Small correction: gyroplanes are not VTOL aircraft in that they typically use 100m or so in ground effect to build up sufficient rotor speed to assume safe flight. True, they can (and often do) land with almost zero ground-roll but VTOL it 'aint.

*If the pre-rotate is sufficient AND there's the right speed of headwind then vertical take offs would be possible, just as they would in any winged aircraft if the wind was blowing hard enough to generate sufficient lift - but wind speeds that high are beyond the safe operating envelope of the craft for that very reason.

Microsoft and Meta promise facehugger PCs piping cloud desktops into VR headsets

Ball boy

I don't get it

The Microsoft / Meta model of VR is that I don a headset and then...umm...sit down in front of a row of screens and interact with them? I must be missing something.

California legalizes digital license plates for all vehicles

Ball boy

Yet another IoT hole for no reason?

Here we go: what's the betting someone figures out a way into these (after all, they're hardly likely to get updates that often) and we find half of the plates in CA start displaying nothing at all....or suitably rude/advertorial messages.

Again, this is putting tech in places just for the sake of it. I can't imagine the license plate needs to change so often that having the ability to vary the display will be a major advantage - certainly not when you look at the cost of having one. Also, e-paper will have issues in the temp range / lighting conditions that a metal plate copes rather well with: this is a problem that didn't need solving, surely.

Google Japan goes rogue with 5.4ft long keyboard

Ball boy

Would have been impossible some years ago...

Just imagine trying your daily Ctrl-Alt-Delete routine on this monster. Rebooting early Windows boxes was most certainly a regular office distraction but it never qualified as a team event - with one of these, however... :)

Foldable smartphones crawl to one percent of global market share

Ball boy

Mostly a product looking for a solution

Commercial radio has an advert pushing how the user of a flappy phone can colour in a picture while on a Zoom call. If that's their most compelling reason to upgrade then I think they're struggling to find a viable market.

Granted, will be a few genuine cases where there's a benefit but I suspect the vast majority of buyers will be the 'I need to be seen with one' users - and if that's your target market then you don't need to worry too much about lowering the price point.

Samsung’s Smart Monitor tries too hard to be clever

Ball boy

Where's the market for this?

So it's a screen that has a slimmed-down, bespoke OS running. Good luck keeping that up to date.

Far better to get a fairly dumb screen (with speakers) and wire it into a SBC mounted on the back. Run a decent OS - mentioning no names - and you've got all the media you will ever want, it's self-updating and can remote to other computers as and when required.

And yes, it can play Doom.

There's really no point adding 'intelligence' to display devices: the variety of sources and constant change means they'll get outdated. Stick to using screens as screens and put the brains in something that's able to evolve.

Teardown shows Apple iPhone 14 Pro is not pro-repair

Ball boy

'Lock in' probably won't worry Apple too much

While you can reasonably argue that owning a smartphone is becoming essential in any developed country, owing an Apple device is very much a lifestyle choice: other manufacturers make perfectly serviceable phones. You only have to look at the queues that form when Apple release a new device to recognise that it's not just about the functionality.

Anyone falling into the 'it must be an iPhone' camp is clearly happy paying a premium for the privilege - and, for the same reason, they'd most likely shun any third-party repair shop. As such, I'm guessing Apple won't worry unduly about the wider repair market because they know their new phones will almost always come back to them if they need any work done to them.

Of course, once any device passes a cut-off point, the manufacturers won't give two hoots about its repairability and simply stop making components available to anyone, be they their own repair centres or third-party shops. That's been happening for years in the white goods/car/home tech markets.

I appreciate there will always be people who buy a few years old device (be it a car, phone or whatever) from a certain vendor because they see a perceived value in having a Bosch, Volvo, Apple, etc - but surely they go into this with their eyes open, knowing that spares and repairs could be difficult or expensive if their device does unfortunately fail them. I don't agree with this policy - it goes against my inner Womble - but it's the way it is.

Microsoft debuts Windows 11 2022 Update – now with features added monthly

Ball boy

Eh? Most productive?

"...to help you be your most productive and your most creative.”

If that's the aim, surely leaving the damn Operating System alone and not forcing continual reboots and updates on people would be the correct thing to do.

The mind boggles.

Don't want to get run over by a Ford car? There's a Bluetooth app for that

Ball boy

Can we have a reverse function, please?

I'd like to have something on my phone that alerts me to the presence of autonomous cars: if there's a driver out there that's relying on aids like this to avoid running into me, I'd sure as hell like to have the tech. to be able to dodge them before it's too late.

Microsoft rolls out stealthy updates for 365 Apps

Ball boy

Too many things wrong with this concept

For starters, it encourages users to leave computers running 24/7. That's going to piss off the environmentalists - and I'm definitely on their side with this one: what, 8 hours of use in an office and then another 16 burning power just so it can run an update? No thanks.

Secondly, if your OS didn't take so damn long to boot up more people would turn it off at the end of the day. Last time I checked, it was considered good practice to reboot Windows boxes regularly so we shouldn't really leave them running constantly. How's that play into the 'we'll do it when the machine isn't being used' policy?

Thirdly, as already pointed out, a machine that's powered down is nicely secure. Leave it running and there's a larger corporate attack surface to have to keep tabs on.

Lastly, why the heck can't MS do updates like most modern OS's and apps? You know, quietly and in the background while the machine is in use? I know mine does - but only because I look in the logs. I'd not notice it happening otherwise.

Oh - and all this is before we even consider the (very real) risk of MS buggering the update and simultaneously leaving all users high and dry on a busy Tuesday morning. I'd hate to be tech support when those calls start stacking up.

Twitter datacenter melted down in Labor Day heat

Ball boy

Twitter Twatted by Top Temp

I'll get my coat. Not that I need it in the heat...

Backblaze thinks SSDs are more reliable than hard drives

Ball boy

Re: The choice isn't really about reliability

I didn't miss the point - hence the providing it is within a reasonable percentage of the previous tech qualifier.

If losing a boot drive is such a problem for your environment, why are you dependant on a single point of failure? See rule 1.

Ball boy

The choice isn't really about reliability

No one should ever rely on a single disk for anything. Given that, then the reliability (providing it is within a reasonable percentage of the previous tech) isn't that critical - but speed is: SSD is simply way, way faster than platters.

However, if an SSD does fail for any reason (be it the memory array or just in the control logic) I very much doubt you stand much chance of getting any data back. At least with a platter there's a fighting chance some of the information can be recovered - that is, assuming you forgot rule 1: never have a single point of failure unless you're planning to fail.

HP pays $1.3m to settle dispute over printer security chip

Ball boy

1.3M USD is a damn good deal!

So, HP will pay up (delaying that payment for as long as possible, I have no doubt) but can then carry on selling borked printers that will only work with HP-branded ink for eternity? That sounds like a fantastic deal for HP to sign-up to, of course they agreed to it.

Meh. Thankfully, we're a Brother house - and not inkjet either. I feel sorry for all those that will now have to pay a small fortune for their inks - and I bet the price that little squirt of ink now rises to further cover their costs because of Brexit.

Hybrid work not working? Try building an 'intraverse' to fix it, says Gartner

Ball boy

Let me fix that for you

So, in a nutshell, Gartner's advice to retain staff and excite them is to fart about with VR in the vain hope that someone will feel that yours is the kind of company they want to be associated with introduce cutting-edge solutions, ideally ones suggested by management consultants who can't be held accountable for the costs or results.

Apropo nothing: who the hell pays Gartner for research these days? I thought they'd excelled themselves with their how to get a good deal missive.

Windows 11 update blocking some users from logging in

Ball boy

30 years of Windows...

...and 'turn it off and on again' is still the fix de jour? My, how we've progressed.

Janet Jackson music video declared a cybersecurity exploit

Ball boy

Some mileage in this...

C'mon folks, some tracks are known issues:

Led Zeppelin Communication Breakdown: Causes immediate NIC failure

Prodigy Firestarter: PSU magic smoke

Proclaimers 500 miles: DAT cartridge spooling fault

Oh - and if you play Pink Floyd's Learning To Fly near BOFF central you can expect an accountancy head crash.

I'm sure there are more.....

UK government lines up billions to refresh legacy tech in 600-system tax dept

Ball boy

NHS IT, anyone?

The NHS project cost, what £9Billion and struggled, partly because different stakeholders couldn't agree on what was required of it. Now, I'm not suggesting big, complex IT systems are beyond management - but consider this: those that get to do the initial sign-off will be long out of office before the delivery date, the underlying requirements will change - sometimes annually - with each administration and it's absolutely critical for the UK that the system works. That doesn't strike me as a stable base to work from.

I project: it'll run massively over budget (I'll stick my neck out for a headline figure of triple the stated spend, way more if you include the knock-on costs and contractual clauses for termination, etc), it won't meet the objectives that were set and certainly won't meet the ones that are, by then, currently expected and no one will be held responsible for any of it.

Mind you, several big IT consulting firms will make a tidy profit. Lawyers too. All funded by, ironically, the tax-payer.

Want the very latest Windows Insider Dev Channel build? Check your disk space

Ball boy

I've worked it out

64Gb install space required for W11?

Easy to explain: 4Gb for the base OS and 60Gb for the bugs. Voila! 64Gb.

You're welcome ;)

NASA's six-mile-wide orbital telescope is 1/6th built

Ball boy

Hell of an approximation!

"The six "SmallSats" will orbit Earth approximately 22,000 miles (35,405.568km) away in a circular formation."

That Km conversion is remarkably precise for an approximation but can we have it in the Internationally recognised units, please? For reference - and to save on keystrokes for the update - it's about 252,902,632 Linquine. For readers in the Southern Hemisphere who prefer a more local equivalent, fractionally under 5,807,909 Giraffes.


FYI: BMW puts heated seats, other features behind paywall

Ball boy

Whatever next?

I can see it coming: that 2022 sports car you bought that did 0-60mph in 5 seconds....next year it'll takes 6.7 seconds and the following year 7.8 seconds. Seems to occasionally not start first time, either.

There'll be nothing mechanical wrong with it. It'll just be the manufactures slowing down the hardware. At the same time, the service department will be informed you're becoming a prime target to be leased their latest model.

You can argue with me - but I'm sure I recall another consumer product that, after purchase, was deliberately slowed down by the manufacturer.

Vendors are hiking prices up to 30 percent and claiming 'it's inflation'

Ball boy

That's Gartner's advice? 'Push back on price increases'?

My lord: Gartner tell buyers to wait until the end of a quarter or financial year, dangle multi-year deals or mention competitive tenders as ways to get prices down?

Here's Ball Boy's hot tip for companies needing to shave a little off their costs: stop subscribing to Gartner's 'advice' unless you are in need to hear that the Pope is, indeed, Catholic. Thank you. That'll be a £3,000 consulting and strategy fee, please.

Schneider and Dell integrate UPS, HCI for graceful shutdown

Ball boy

Re: Generator failure?

"That's just barely enough time to drive to the site, do a quick diagnosis, and fire up the generator."

Then you don't have a UPS. You have a manually-operated alternative power source. The clue is in the 'U'. However, even a holistic UPS solution needs to cater for when the backup runs out of juice before the main supply is restored - hence the need for automated shutdown.

Although, to be honest, I can't see how this is news. 'Our servers can be shutdown remotely' is hardly cutting-edge stuff.

Microsoft teases Outlook Lite for Android

Ball boy

Hold on: MS make a lite version of something?

MS and 'lite'? Now, they're not two words I generally expect to see in the same sentence unless it's April 1st.

Maybe we've just regressed to the good old days when a well-known person said something along the lines of '640Kb should be enough for anybody'.

Microsoft plans to dig through your Edge Collections to make suggestions

Ball boy

Wouldn't it be better if all 'upgrades' like this were opt-in rather than opt-out?

Microsoft issues fix for Windows 11 Wi-Fi hotspots

Ball boy

Re: "Search Highlights"

Back in the day, we had a SETI screensaver that helped run through their data looking for anomalies. Maybe it's time for one that posts sets of Bing queries...like 'What OS is better than Windows' and 'Why does MS release so many fixes?'

Let's see how many of **those** they allow to pop up in their oh so helpful app!

Yodel becomes the latest victim of a cyber 'incident'

Ball boy

A fix? It's in the post...

They had already ordered new, high-security kit - but unfortunately, they're still awaiting its delivery.

In other news, there's a fish and chip shop about three miles from them who have a load of switching gear that they don't remember requesting....

If you're using older, vulnerable Cisco small biz routers, throw them out

Ball boy

Re: Throw away 3 year old, core, infrastructure?

These may well be at the cheap and cheerful end of Cisco's range but they were sold as suitable for business use. As such, they should have business class support.

They might only be supporting a satellite office of three/four people but that's as much of (if not more) a security risk than leaving a hole in corporate HQ.

What next? Throw the medium level switches and routers to the wolves because they couldn't be bothered to patch them? Perhaps Cisco should define how many people need to be connected via their hardware before they can be classed as 'business users' so admins can do a better risk analysis.

Ball boy

Throw away 3 year old, core, infrastructure?

Hold on: if I bought a new car and a major flaw was discovered three years later then I could reasonably expect it to be recalled by the makers and have this addressed. I don't expect three year old core hardware to be treated as disposable by my network vendor.

A cynic could argue Cisco is making a strong case for renting this kind of hardware in the future rather than buying it so the end user isn't left hanging out to dry. A realist might see this as a strong case to only buy from vendors who offer more reasonable support for their core equipment.

HP pilots paper delivery service for Instant Ink subscribers

Ball boy

And recycling?

Under the ink scheme, we're meant to return the used cartridges to HP. Does this mean we get to return all the paper we printed on and HP will recycle that as well?

IBM's self-sailing Mayflower suffers another fault in Atlantic crossing bid

Ball boy

It must be a nightmare for their PR team: all the faults so far have been attributed to the workings (or not) of the diesel engine subsystems.

The website stresses the solar cells provide power for the ship but 1Kw of converted sunlight won't ever keep a pair of 20Kw electric motors spinning. Perhaps it's time to come clean ('come clean' - see what I did there?) about the pair of diesels that provide some 95% of the motive power and admit that the solar tech is just there to keep the RPi's and their subsystems awake and CO2-free?

Another AI supercomputer from HPE: Champollion lands in France

Ball boy

160 of those A100 GPU's, 4TB of memory and 30TB of NVMe local storage? Nice to see the French getting the jump on the Win 12 specs.

But can it run Doom?

I think we need to know.

Start your engines: Windows 11 ready for broad deployment

Ball boy

"...to get the most out of your Windows 11 experience."

They don't get it. Most people don't want to 'experience' an OS; they want to be able to write a letter, surf the web, read mail, play games or whatever. The best way to allow that to happen would be to stop changing the damn UI every few years!

As for needing an MS account just for the 'privilege' of running W11 at home? Doesn't seem like a fair trade to me: I get to use their UI but they get to profile me, profit off the data they gather and hit me with adverts for products I didn't know I wanted. I'll pass, thanks.

Your snoozing iOS 15 iPhone may actually be sleeping with one antenna open

Ball boy
Black Helicopters

I take huge exception to a device not telling me that 'off' doesn't really mean 'off': if you're going to do this to my devices, have the fecking decency to let me know.

A device that I turn off still being locatable? There are numerous reasons that could be a really good thing - but I do expect to know it's happening.

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

Ball boy

Re: Oh god, no...

You can find a more global "turn the fuck off" option here:


You're welcome ;)

Microsoft points at Linux and shouts: Look, look! Privilege-escalation flaws here, too!

Ball boy

Oh, a discovered bug?

Thank you to the person/team that discovered this, I'm sure it made a welcome change from reporting issues to (insert name of a major closed source OS here), who would have sat on it for a while before doing a cost/benefit analysis and then, hopefully, adding the snag to their list of things to fix next time they issue a routine patch.

As it is, a bunch of people, all calling on experience from vastly different areas, will be scouring the source code as we speak to find the issue and create a workable solution. A patch will then be released as soon as it's ready; there'll be no holding it back until a magic day in the month is reached or until a dozen other patches are also ready to be pushed out in the same update.

That's the beauty of open source: not only can anyone with the skill set examine the codebase and spot trouble, they can make changes and propose updates for the wider community.

Software has bugs. It's unavoidable and is even more likely to happen when code crosses OS, application, etc. boundaries. What's important is how well (for some issues read: how quickly) these issues are addressed.

As you were. Nothing to see here; it's simply an issue that's been found in a utility package that many don't even use.

Don't be shy, vendors: Let's see those gorgeous figures

Ball boy

Okay, say I buy an array of disk that claims (and can back it up with evidence) that they're hitting the 5 9's. I do the same with the server box and switches, etc.

It's all fine until I stick an OS on and then load an application on top of that - anyone seen any claim for reliability from an app? Yes, I can have multiple copies running in a cluster but they'll all suffer from a generic code fault (a modern Y2K bug, for example) at exactly the same time and make a mess of my systems' reliability.

Surely any business wants to know how reliable their full system will be - what the failure rate is for a sub-component of it is only of passing interest but how would any vendor go about offering trustworthy data?

Curiosity photographs mysterious metal object on Martian rock

Ball boy

My money's on this being nothing more important than a pair of handlebars from a Martian bog-trotter. Poor chap went in the mud a little too deep, got suck and abandoned it (Martians are rich enough not to care 'cause Mars is a tax haven even Vodafone are jealous of). The mud hardened and, eventually became the rock Curiosity is now driving over.

Yobbo's have since stripped them of the brake levers and switchgear. I wouldn't advise Curiosity to go back to examine it in detail; if those swines are still about, they'll nick the explorer's wheels for sure.

O2, GiffGaff network goes titsup for unlucky punters

Ball boy

Re: Giffgaff?

Thank goodness for El Reg. I've got problems & have rebooted, moved the SIM to a spare phone and still got nowhere.

Oh - and as of 17:20 the O2 website's support section is nothing more than a terse message saying "Knowledge Server is temporarily busy. Please try again." Helpful, no?

Microsoft's Azure cloud down and out for 8 hours

Ball boy

Re: Yay I finally beat the odds!

Not so fast: it's 'only' the management interface that's down so your app. should still work fine.

BTW: management is up now - 14:40 as I write this - provided you don't want to manage any Database, Datasync, Reporting or Service Bus, Access Control and Caching settings.

So, just the Hosted Service, Storage Account & CDN or Virtual Network configs available then.

What's the betting this resolves itself as the data centres move out of the Leap year 'danger zone'?

El Reg to unleash rocket-powered spaceplane

Ball boy

Working title

The project might be LOHAN but as any fule kno, the ship itself will need a nickname.

Following on from the success of PARIS may I humbly propose 'High Hilton', complete with a suitable graphic? Perhaps her ladyship in reclining form underpinned with a long white line representing...err...the exhaust gasses.

Aussie retailer accuses UK shops of HDMI 'scam'

Ball boy

Argument for expensive cable?

Okay, tongue in cheek but here goes:

Of course you need an expensive cable for HDMI / TV 2.0 or whatever else I'm selling! The reason is simple: if you're watching, say, motor sport from Japan, the signal has to come from many, many miles away and this final selfless act on your part helps ensure the quality is right up there.

Sold. Wasn't so hard now, was it? ;)

btw: 2.5mm twin and earth (ignore the earth line) for speakers is excellent. Far better than bell wire because, believe it or not, moving a bass unit requires current and with only an 8 Ohm load, that 0.25 Ohm in-line resistance starts to make itself noticed. As a number of people have said over the years, improving on the standard bell wire for speakers is the cheapest, most cost-effective upgrade most HiFi owners ever need do...

Boffins build copper-crunching laptop cooler

Ball boy


...and with a surname like yours, Francis, I'd be surprised if you couldn't think of a relational law that concerns gases.