* Posts by brakepad

37 publicly visible posts • joined 24 Aug 2009

Wind tunnels for fluid dynamics boffins among UKRI's £72M funding


Wind tunnels

"Massive tubes covered in channels for air to blow through" - not really sure what the 'covered in channels' is referring to - seems a bit misleading. Typically they are a tube, either open-ended or more commonly a closed-loop, with a fan inside blowing air through it. One area will be designated the working section or test section which is where the object being assessed will be placed. The scale can vary enormously, from a few square centimetres cross-section for some supersonic tunnels in education, to many metres for full-scale automotive testing.

Decent introductory info in the Wikipedia article:


All hands on Steam Deck: Fancy a handheld Linux PC that runs Windows apps, sports a custom AMD Zen APU and a touch screen?


Re: Valve hardware and a bad track record

Somewhat late with the tip, but a 7.2v nicad from an RC car worked a treat with the GameGear to extend its running time when out and about, and a fast charger could fill it up in about 20 mins. Much kudos to my old man for showing me this sort of stuff!

Excel Hell: It's not just blame for pandemic pandemonium being spread between the sheets


Re: What should I use instead

Friends don't let friends use merged cells.

Another week, another dual-screen phone, this time a T-shaped LG thingamy


LG has given the world another twist on the dual-screen phone

Thanks LG. Just one question: why?

0ops. 1,OOO-plus parking fine refunds ordered after drivers typed 'O' instead of '0'


Re: And this ladies and gentlemen...

Definitely this, but not just non-qwerty (alphabetical is arguably fine for most people), but some machines have *vertical* layouts with ~4 columns of 10 rows, with one column being for numbers.

There is no staggering of spacing or any differentiation between numbers & characters e.g. this


I've had a ticket issued & refunded in the UK for this 0/O reason and am well aware of which is which on my car, but mistyped as result of a wacky keypad layout.

Blame of thrones: Those viral vids of PC monitors going blank when people stand up? Static electricity from chairs


Worth trying a simple fix

I've had a similar experience but one where I actually got a BSOD after reaching for the power button to turn off my PC. For a while I thought it was related to me closing certain applications down and nothing more than coincidental timing with me then reaching for the power button, but eventually twigged that it was static related.

As a simple experiment I ran some stranded copper wire from the seatpad down to the floor, with each end fanned out into a rudimentary brush shape, after which the problem didn't reoccur, despite the floor being essentially insulated with carpet.

I'd say it's worth a go if it's causing you a problem.

Traffic lights worldwide set to change after Swedish engineer saw red over getting a ticket


Has anyone ever noticed...

... that some junctions work surprisingly well when the traffic lights aren't working at all? The sight of a set of traffic lights that aren't lit suddenly makes everybody pay attention.

LG G7 ThinkQ: Ropey AI, but a feast for sore eyes and ears



The closing comment: "The G6 is the most competitive offering at its price point, and should it fall further, will be quite a steal. "

I'm guessing that's a typo, but actually fairly accurate I would say. The G6 Plus, which features the improved DAC & 128GB storage can be found for under £350 if you look for it. As mentioned not an exciting phone by any means, but massively good value given the features.

Snooping passwords from literally hot keys, China's AK-47 laser, malware, and more


Splinter Cell

I seem to recall that in Splinter Cell (or could have been some other similar game) you could use your infrared goggles to determine the order in which buttons had been pressed on a recently-used keypad. Life imitating art? Or just "researchers" playing too many games?

Uber breaks self-driving car record: First robo-ride to kill a pedestrian


Agree with Oneman2Many on this - based on the dashcam footage this looks like an instance where a self driving car should have had a massive advantage over a human driver - that of being able to detect objects moving into the path of the car that could not be detected with the human eye, in this case due to darkness.

That said, the person crossing the road appears to have done so without observing the oncoming car.

Batteries are so heavy, said user. If I take it out, will this thing work?


Re: Hmmm

If you're uncomfortable with the 50:50 split then elaborate:

50% of people are below average intelligence. And the average person is f****** stupid! :-)

Windows Update borks elderly printers in typical Patch Tuesday style


Just won't die

I'm not surprised dot matrix printers are still around. About 25 years ago my father 'rescued' an Epson FX-100 dot matrix printer from the tip. It must have been 10 years old back then and served me well through my GCSEs, and the thing is still going. It weighs a ton and would foreseeably continue to work even an Office Space-esque onslaught, and it literally costs pennies a year to run by re-solventing the ribbon, which as a Yorkshire family is enough to justify why it's still around :-)

User asked help desk to debug a Post-it Note that survived a reboot


Re: RE: You can never under estimate how stupid some people can be.

"You can't make something fool proof, because fools are quite ingenious."

Not only that, if you try to make something foolproof, you only encourage the evolution of an even more advanced type of fool.

Microsoft's AI is so good it steered Renault into bottom of the F1 league


Success in F1

Appreciate the sentiment, but 7th place in the Constructors' Championship is no mean feat, and on current form Renault have probably the 4th fastest car on the grid. Whether the MS technology is giving them an advantage or not, they could well overhaul Williams for 5th by the end of the year, which isn't bad given the lack of funding prior to the Renault buyout.

I don't think any of the current 10 teams should be considered failures - certainly not in comparison to some recent entrants that never even made it (US F1), or were always hopelessly off the pace (HRT, Caterham), but somebody has to come last. Many of the current grid have some sort of handicap (poor engine, an underperforming driver, relative lack of funding), and with a tight midfield battle the few available points are spread pretty thinly.

No I don't work for Renault or MS.

BMW chief: Big auto will stay in the driving seat with autonomous cars



Personally I think he's wrong, and I'm an engineer not a compsci. There is no doubt that the engineering that goes in to a modern car is immense, but fundamentally it's not new. Manufacturing techniques, suspension design, NVH, engine development etc - all vast &refined topics in their own right but all mature with lots of existing designs to work from and knowledgable people to poach. Self driving tech by comparison is still in its infancy, and a huge amount of the work done so far is very secret and would have to be repeated by anyone wishing to enter the fray.

I'll be surprised if any of the major car manufacturers get to where Google is *now* in 5 years time in terms of how advanced their self driving systems are.

Crap IT means stats crew don't really know how UK economy's doing


Brain drain

Heard on the news that 90%(!) of their "top statisticians" were not willing to make the move from London to Newport when the headquarters were relocated. That was back in 2006, but if true then it must have dented their capabilities, IT infrastructure limitations notwithstanding.

El Reg mulls entering Robot Wars arena


Wire wool

[edited to say: just read the post that lists what is banned - never mind, maybe in another less restrictive future series!]

Intrigued to know what is allowed in terms of weapons, but one thought I've had in the back of my mind for "when I go on Robot Wars" is to puncture a hole in the opposing robot using a large hollow needle, and fill it with wire wool, forced down the needle in a similar manner to that used to install cavity wall insulation. Before the needle is retracted, the wool would be ignited to give a lovely smouldering mess on the inside, hopefully cooking a few critical systems in the process.

I suspect that incendiary devices might not be allowed though, as I don't recall anyone other than the house robots ever using a flamethrower.

Empire of The 'B’s: The Mad Movie World of Charles Band


"On the set of Eliminators, back in the day when an android wasn't a mobile phone"

Mandroid, surely?

Watched many of these on video as a child and never really realised at the time how 'B' they really were. Robot Jox is definitely up there with the B-movie greats though. Crash & Burn! (although the film Crash & Burn was pretty dire if I remember correctly, despite also featuring a big robot).

The ten SEXIEST computers of ALL TIME


Psion Series 3

Definitely should be in the list. The Series 3 was beautifully constructed with a sligthly dappled & tactile textured exterior & clearly lots of thought put into the ergonomics.

The Series 5 had the more impressive slide-out keyboard but was substantially bigger, more plasticky and felt like one too many designers had had their input.

Sky to open net telly channels to all


F1 pay-per-view

If they decide to offer online PPV of their 10 exclusive F1 races next year at, say, £5 a time, that's £50 they'd get from me that they won't otherwise see a penny of, as I've no intention of spending £30 a month on a Sky HD subscription just to get the F1, along with another STB and remote control that I don't want.

Netflix vs Lovefilm



I was going to look into one of these services, but it seems that they fall hopelessly short on two main factors; content, which should be the same as what you can get from a rental store, and quality, which, and this sounds familiar, should be the same as what you can get from a rental store.

I have no idea why the content isn't the same online as instore/disc delivery - if the argument is anything to do with piracy then it doesn't make sense as pirated copies will be available at least as soon as the disc are.

Regarding quality, it would be infinitely better if these offered an optional download like the iPlayer rather than just streaming. Even if it's time-limited & DRM'd to the hilt, it's still more flexible than a stream, no less flexible than sending discs by snail mail, and would allow BluRay quality films over slower connections. It also gives people like me the choice to download it in my off-peak period, and there would be no buffering, which I wouldn't tolerate in a cinema or on TV so why would I tolerate it during a film?

If they offered this for £6 a month I'd bite their hand off, and I suspect a lot of other people would too.

Online Christmas orders from retailers go titsup



"It sounds like this system was unable to cope with an unexpected surge in Christmas orders."

If only there were some way of knowing when the surge in Christmas orders was likely to occur...

Microsoft and Samsung uncloak slimmer Surface


Make pretty, people will buy

@John Halewood: Pixel size is way less than 4mm. Not done a precise calc but it's closer to 0.5mm.

I'm not a fanboi, my only Apple kit is a mk2 ipod that now lives in a drawer, but if Apple made this it would be 20mm thick with tapered edges, have a beautiful mix of glass and aluminium, and look like a piece of designer furniture. It would have a catchy name and a relentless advertising campaign to convince people that it was wonderful and that they needed one, and it would probably sell millions.

I've no doubt that MS could market it equally well if they really wanted to, they have sold 1 or 2 games consoles in their time, but sadly Joe Public has been somewhat brainwashed into believing that if Apple didn't do it/make it popular first then it can't be any good.

Security by obscurity not so bad after all, argues prof



Trolling, or seriously just completely misunderstanding the concept of Game Theory?

Samsung signals HD smartphones with supersize screens

Paris Hilton

Resolution <> size

Why is it that when resolution increases people immediately assume that it will be unreadable? Print resolutions can be upwards of 1000dpi but it doesn't mean that all text is written with a single dot thickness. Increased resolution on screens is almost always a plus point IMHO: text becomes sharper, colours appear more solid, AND smaller text becomes more legible.

Paris because she looks better in HD.

Twitter discovers MMS for photo tweeting


Aren't picture messages / MMS messages generally charged at a significantly higher rate by most operators (regardless of content) , and often not included in "free" message allowances? For this reason alone I have hardly ever sent an MMS rather than a text message.

Online car-buying firm agrees to more transparent pricing


Worked for me

A couple of years ago I sold a Civic Hybrid (don't flame me, I'm a petrol head really!) on wewillbuyyourcar.com for a very fair price, and around £500 more than I was asking for it on Autotrader at the end of a 2 week advertising period with not a single enquiry.

The price quoted on their website was exactly what was paid and the chap that came to value it commented that I'd been pretty honest about the condition (odd scratches here & there were declared up front). It would not surprise me if a lot of people just tick the "excellent condition" box and have never actually done a panel-by-panel inspection for damage, which is what the valuer will do.

I think in this case I benefitted from a relatively high book price despite there not actually being that much real demand for this particular car, but my experience of wwbyc.com was pretty good on the whole and free of hassle. As for webuyanycar, I can't comment on them, except to say that the price they were offering for the Civic was less than wewillbuyyourcar.

Fukushima update: No chance cooling fuel can breach vessels



Something doesn't seem quite right with the units being quoted, with the BBC suggesting radiation levels about 100 times greater than El Reg.

From the BBC website http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-12740843:

"After Tuesday's blast, radiation dosages of up to 400 millisieverts per hour were recorded at the site.

A single dose of 1,000 millisieverts causes temporary radiation sickness such as nausea and vomiting."

vs this article:

"Following the apparent release from inside the suppression chamber, radiation levels at the site briefly rose to 8217 microsieverts per hour "

& from Wikipedia Background Radiation article:

"The worldwide average background dose for a human being is about 2.4 millisievert (mSv) per year."

Is there a milli/micro mistake somewhere, or am I missing something?

Ten... over-ear headphones


Sound quality

Presumably it's only a matter of time before the filesize / quality compromise starts to drift back towards quality again? Over the course of a decade we've had a 1000-fold increase in the capacity of solid state media players, and once you can fit your entire music collection on a single device then why would you not then start to use the extra capacity to bump the quality back up?

There are obviously signs of this with FLAC & other lossless codecs gaining favour, and maybe the portable media market will always favour the extra compression in the same way that digicams still use jpegs. On the flip side, there has been a trend for CD volume levels to increase over the years at a corresponding reduction in dynamic range, but on the whole I would expect to see an improvement in the standard of 'popular' sound quality in the next 10 years - although it would probably necessesitate a move away from MP3 as a format.

Nonetheless, there will always be a market for top end audio stuff, and everyone has a limit that they're willing to go to or would admit being able to spot the difference on. Personally I'd spend money on speakers and / or headphones any day over an improved amp or snakeoil speaker cable. And Grado's, yes, absolutely superb, and very revealing of poor audio sources even more so than many popular "hifi" speakers.

Job application scam fleeces company of $150,000


Hacker laziness

It always bugs me that these scams are so shoddily finished off. The idea is sound: use the advertised job appication to find a legitimate way to send someone an attachment, but why is the covering email a) so generic and b) so poorly written? There must be countless sample covering letters available on tinterweb, just leaving the need to autofill the relevant job position and making up a name.

It strikes me as the equivalent of going to the trouble of obtaining genuine bank note paper with all the security features, and then painting on the design by hand.


"While its disguised with a word icon, the file name is still clearly, MyResume.exe"

Indeed, but since Windows 95 "hide file extensions for known file types" is turned on by default. Maybe other OS's do this too, I personally can't stand it but obviously the masses aren't deemed capable of discerning between different types of files.

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm


Seriously, WTF?

I'm with the anonymous cowards. How much of this review makes no sense whatsoever to someone who's not played WoW?

"Failing dismally as an arena player, but enjoying PvP as much as the next cow, I’m really looking forward to Battle for Gilneas, which seems to be the new Arathi basin and Twin Peaks, which is the new Warsong Gulch."


"Cheap at the price, and a welcome change from previous mount capability gouging!"

Come again?

Donkey Kong Country Returns



I'm not disputing that it may be a great game, but how can it possibly justify a score of 95% when any part of it can be described as "tedious"?

Sharp Aquos LC-46LE821E 46in quad-pixel TV



Couldn't agree more with JWS. If there's one thing that's gone backwards with the move away from CRT to 'thin' sets, it's the quality of the inbuilt sound - not that I ever heard a CRT that sounded particuarly good - but the laws of physics are difficult to cheat.

Shouldn't there also be some kind of law to stop speakers that are less than about 8" in diameter being described as "sub-woofers" :-)

Bishop Hill: Gonzo science and the Hockey Stick


Chewbacca defence

"If I constructed a jelly leg and somehow added it to the Eiffel Tower, the tower wouldn't collapse when someone removed the jelly leg."

That's genius. I'm going to use that at work next time I need to convince someone of something.

West Midlands cops to roll out Mitsubishi EVs


Marketing ploy?

Maybe they thought they were getting a really good deal on Mitsubishi EVOs.

Kettle car breaks speed record

Thumb Up

Just needs a longer run up

It's always easy to criticise on this sort of thing, but the speeds & times quoted suggest that acceleration rates & available track length are both significant issues if the design stats and quoted figures are to be believed.

Considering only aerodynamic drag, the power increase required to boost max speed from the old record of 127 to 139mph is 'only' around 30%, but the quoted theoretical max speed of 170mph would suggest the car should be capable of producing around 2.5 times as much power as the Stanley Steamer (and anyway 268kW of power should be sufficient to power a low drag vehicle to these kind of speeds without difficulty).

This would suggest either a big shortfall in power (by around 80%, which seems unlikely) from that predicted, or a large calculation error in another area (e.g. drag coefficient, again unlikely), or simply that the car does not accelerate quickly enough to get close to its theoretical Vmax in the time/distance/fuel/water/whatever available.

If it takes 2.5miles to get up to speed (presume he means 140mph), then the *average* acceleration rate is a fairly unexciting 0.5m/s^2, and if that accel rate could be maintained (optimistic) it would need another 2km to get up to 170mph. Assuming it can carry enough fuel for a longer run then the simplest solution would be to go somewhere bigger, hence salt flats are a popular venue, but running on salt can bring further issues with stabilty, rolling resistance etc.

Other than that, the fundamental options remaining would be to a) reduce drag - although we should assume that it's at least 90% optimised, b) reduce weight, although again a 10% improvement would probably be good going, or c) add more power, which would probably come at the expense of adding more weight, not least from the water required.

Apologies for the gratuitous mixing of units!

Channel 4 to go 3D


Does anyone remember Magic Carpet?

Never seen it before or since, but Magic Carpet on the PC had a 'dynamic' Magic Eye 3D mode where you could (try to) play the game by staring cross-eyed at a mass of moving swirly patterns.

The 3D effect worked about as well as any static Magic Eye pic, but made playing the game absolutely impossible and was entertaining for about 4 seconds. It also had a coloured lenses 3D mode but my PC wasn't fast enough to run that....

The BBC also did a 3D week, maybe 20 years ago now, where the glasses simply used one clear lens and one tinted one. The effect only worked on shots panning in one direction, and was something to do with dark images taking slightly longer for the brain to process hence the parallax in the footage led to a mild 3D effect.

I can see a future where there'll be 4 different sets of 3D specs technology lined up next to all the remote controls.