* Posts by mtp

155 publicly visible posts • joined 27 Sep 2009


Share your 2024 tech forecasts (wrong answers only) to win a terrible sweater


Iain Banks had this idea first (well close enough)


Microsoft dials back Bing after users manage to recreate Disney logo in fake AI-generated images


But is it wrong? Given publically available data to it the answer to 'an average woman of Afghanistan' is basically what it produced. It is going to be a merging of the images out there and 90% of them are going to be the iconic image so it is no surprise that the result is very similar to the original image but impressively facing towards the 'camera' which puts this in a different league to a simple copy. What about the other lesser influences to this image? Where do they stand? When it comes to copyright this is a minefield.

Google dragged to UK watchdog over Chrome's upcoming IP address cloaking


Re: Child protection

See black mirror "Fifteen Million Merits"

Millions of smart meters will brick it when 2G and 3G turns off


Re: No corruption here.

My smart meter saves me loads of money. I am on a tarrif where the price changes several times per day and I charge my home battery when it is cheap. Eventually I will export when it is expensive which will aid the entire grid by smoothing the load.

One door opens, another one closes, and this one kills a mainframe


Re: Tech support call

Sugar is nothing compared to antifreeze. It leave PCBs covered in blue fuzz which dissolves all the copper and has a good go at the FR4. Or as H.P.Lovecraft would have put it they are left verdant and squamous.

Icon - because HPLovecraft would approve of this.

Twitter, aka X, tops charts for misinformation, EU official says


Re: re: Though for no obvious reason.

Godwin's law has been triggered.

Watt's the worst thing you can do to a datacenter? Failing to RTFM, electrically


Re: Silly Mistakes

"500v supply by putting two adjacent 240v sockets in series." - Ouch, I see exactly how the thought process of your colleague went on this because if you think about it from a certain point of view it makes sense.

Sadly from another point of view connecting the live of one socket to the neutral of another would not have the desired effect!

I have also got to wonder why anyone was trying to get 500V from the mains. Wanting double heat from a portable heater maybe?

80% of execs regret calling employees back to the office


I cycle into the office slowly but fast when heading home. Gets around 90% of the sweaty issues.

Auroras – the solar system's universal light show (except Neptune... sorry, Neptune)


Re: Magnetic field ?

The word theory does not mean what you seem to think it does.

"A scientific theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world, based on a body of facts that have been repeatedly confirmed"

Clingy Virgin Media won't let us leave, customers complain


Exit is only the start of the fight - you then need to send the kit back

I left nearly 2 years ago after a epic fight and I still have all my virgin media kit in a cardboard box - locked TIVO, cable modem and a few RF connectors. I have tried to contact them to get them to pick it up but it always ends up with me being asked to give a 1..10 score on how good the pick up process was and the process ends there.

I might need to take it to the local tip to get it disposed of cleanly.

Techie wasn't being paid, until he taught HR a lesson


Friendly immigration

I was once flying home and the lady at the immigration desk commented that she had the same date of birth as me and gave me a friendly smile as I came through. Never forgotten that.

Airline puts international passengers on the scales pre-flight


Re: optional?

There is a quote "a front heavy plane flies poorly but a tail heavy plane flies once"

Web geeks grant immortality to Sir Terry Pratchett – using smuggled web code

Thumb Up

X-Clacks-Overhead: GNU Terry Pratchett, Lester Haines

curl -I theregister.co.uk

HTTP/1.1 301 Moved Permanently

Date: Thu, 01 Jun 2023 00:37:17 GMT

Content-Type: text/html; charset=iso-8859-1

Connection: keep-alive

Location: https://www.theregister.com/

X-Reg-BOFH: pfy01gb

X-Clacks-Overhead: GNU Terry Pratchett, Lester Haines

X-Content-Type-Options: nosniff

CF-Cache-Status: DYNAMIC

Server: cloudflare

CF-RAY: 7d03631f09264599-LHR

I don't know when the omnipotent space glider wranger Lester Haines joined Terry Pratchett but so glad that both of them are there.

Intel mulls cutting ties to 16 and 32-bit support


Re: Spite, I tell you, spite!

I have some shuddering flashbacks to near and far pointers and then I drifted dangerously close to remembering EMM386 before I managed to save myself.

Pager hack faxed things up properly, again, and again, and again


Re: Last pager I saw...

We had "the phone of doom". When a machine was on a long term test someone was given this phone overnight, the closer to work you lived the more often you had to take it. If the machine went wrong the phone rang and you had to go in to fix it and start it up again.

Always a stressful night (and unpaid) but luckily I lived a hour away so only had it rarely and doom never struck me.


Fax related

A little tangental to the topic I admit but this mention of fax machines dug up a dusty memory of a TV program called "The Secret Life of Machines" and their very simple fax machine.

Here it is if anyone wants to reminisce.


Unilever claims it's a 'cloud-only enterprise' – now with added OpenAI


Don't need my daily dilbert after this


Write me a article full of management buzzwords with the vague theme of moving everything into the microsoft cloud. The article should be written in the style of a dilbert management consultant.

Psst! Infosec bigwigs: Wanna be head of security at HM Treasury for £50k?


Re: Only reason to take the job


clearly applies

Botched migration resulted in a great deal: One for the price of two


Re: Back in the day

I still have a box of virgin media kit awaiting collection from when I cancelled back in Jan 2022. It even includes a pretty good virgin media locked tivo box.

I have tried several times to get rid of it but there is no way to contact them and every attempt just ends up with them sending me a survey asking for a 1-10 score on how well the close of contract process went.

Answer is very badly. When I tried to cancel they kept finding dodgy reasons why they could not start the cancellation process or a few more days which would have pushed me into a extra month of billing just after hugh price rise. Eventually I got them to cancel before this date but by the end their excuses were getting increasingly desperate.


Vital change of payment hidden in the small print

I was renting and at the time had paper electricity bills that came quarterly which I always paid on the time. After few years I received a red bordered final demand saying that the bailifs are due imminently. When I contacted them they said that I had not paid 2 bills in a row and looking back at my records I discovered that they are right and this was because I had not received any bills.

It turns out that in the small print of my last posted bill they said that they were switching me to a online account and this would be my final paper bill but I had only read the bill part of this and paid it without even looked at the next page full of text. They eventually admitted that I had never logged into the account, this final demand was not preceeded by any postal communication and they had not made it clear that they had decided to stop posting me bills and that I had not agreed to this change.

I was very stressed as I was just in the process of buying my first house so if this had landed on my credit score I would have been ruined.

Anyone want an International Space Station? Slightly used


Re: um

Getting it into the Sun requires accelerating it by about 30 km/s plus a bit more to get away from Earth. You could reduce this by going for a decade long twisty gravity assist through the inner solar system but it would still need a strap on Saturn 5 to get things in motion.


Re: Mir

I think the nudge would need to be somewhere in the km/s range to bring the perigee down into the atmosphere in one go without using atmospheric drag which would be too unpredictable to allow for a accurate crash site.

Intel offers desktop chip that can hit 6GHz if everything goes right, you can keep it cool, stars align, pigs fly


Move work to the compiler?

x86 CPUs are working as hard as they can on instruction ordering, branch prediction and then there is the entire groups of spectre/meltdown/... that should be grouped and called precognition bugs all of which consume transistors and power. Most of this logic of this is known to the compiler so it should be able to take the one off hit in creating efficient code instead of letting the CPU do it on the fly.

Hmm - I think this has been solved before at least twice (RISK and dare I say it Itanium)

Server installer fails to spot STOP button – because he wasn't an archaeologist


Re: new fitted benches had been installed over the shutoff valve

I must admit to 'fixing' a leaking pipe somewhere at the back of my toilet by spraying expanding foam at it. In my defence the leaky bit was in some boxwork which would be very hard to take apart and the actual leak was out of site and even touch. So I just bought a tin of expanding foam, pointed the nozzle in the general direction that the leak was coming from and pressed fire. Most of it fell off and created a big stalegmite but it stopped the leak. I know at some point many years away someone will take that boxing apart and see this and I will feel the much deserved derision.

A brand new Linux DRM display driver – for a 1992 computer


Re: Falcon, ST, AmigaOS et al

The ST and I think the Amiga had a 68000 and this did not support preemptive multi tasking, this was fixed in the 68010 onwards.

I agree about the sound chip in the ST - poor at best.

There was a non preemptive multitasking upgrade for the ST written by someone with no connection to Atari - I can't remember who wrote it but it was a one man job in about 1990. I just about remember his (usenet) post when he said that this is free to the world. Can anyone remember who this was? I used his multitasking for a few years and it was pretty good considering the hardware.


Atari ST Mega 4

I think I still have my Atari ST Mega 4 somewhere - it was the peak of the 68000 based ST range. I upgraded to this from a 1040STFM.

Had many good times with this machine and after my BBC Micro it was a huge step up. In the last few years of using this I used Minix as a OS which lead to SCO OS (a unix variant with a bad track record) and then Linux.

I learnt alot from this machine.

Just follow the instructions … no wait, not that instruction to lock everyone out of everything


Re: Bah!

I bought a trivial low power 12V plug in from Maplins (RIP UK supplier of electronics kit) about a decade ago. I plugged it into my wall outlet and there was a big bang and the main 32A breaker tripped. I removed it and there was a notch missing from the copper so proving the well known truism that fuses blow after the damage has happened.

I took it back to Maplins for a replacement and insisted that they plug the new unit into the wall there before I accepted it. She did so with notable hesitation and a worried look but it was fine


Re: Poor flake

Lets raise a pint for Lester Haines. The special projects bureau is much missed and Lohan seems destined for a life without the airborn glory (and probable disaster) that it was born for.



I was thinking the same. The wild west of IT has passed and we are now in a stable state where most things are done using established tools so the possibility of a bad command is greatly reduced. Clicking SnazzyExpensiveBackupSolution on the deskop is going to have fewer routes to disaster than a mistyped dd command.

I still do my backups with dd though so maybe there will be a post from me in the future but as I am careful then nothing can go wrong!


OK this one was feeble but in general I enjoy these and on a Monday my acceptance criteria is low so please keep posing them and I am willing to take the good with the bad.

I don't have any stories myself but I do know of someone who blew up the electronics of a significant instrument when at a antarctic research station at the beginning of winter with no possibility of repair for 10 months. This would have been a great Who? Me? but it is not for me to tell.

Tetchy trainee turned the lights down low to teach turgid lecturer a lesson


Overhead projector rolls were the worst

I was at uni in the era of overhead projectors. The single sheets were bad enough but one of our lecturers (I think it was thermodynamics) used the continual strip on rollers and slowly wound it on as he talked. He gave out no notes so every lecture was just frantically copying the content including graphs into our notebooks. It was basically impossible to keep up so the notes were very poor. He was explaning the content as it was passing by but we were far too focussed on copying to listen to a word he said.

In hindsight it might have been better to ignore the visuals and just listen to him but I really don't know as I never had time to find out what he said.

Our lecturer in stellar dynamics had the opposite strategy and on day 1 handed each of us a copy of the notes. From then on we listened to everything he said and annotated our notes as appropriate. Thank you Kaz Krynicki - you were great (sadly I just googled him and he died in 2019). No idea who the thermodynamics lecturer was.

Large Hadron Collider experiment reveals three exotic particles


Re: inverse femtobarn

I have genuinely used barn megaparsec as a unit!


Imagine you are the person at CERN who decides to send releases the press. CERN and the high energy physics community in general are very excited about the discovery of a X (such as pentaquark or splitting the thaum) with all the implications for the standard model / theory of your choice.

This person knows that they will be asked by the press to elaborate on the significance and maybe even give interviews about it.

Would you want to be the person who has to explain quantum chromodynamics to The Sun? It must be a tough job!


Re: Ever get the sense...

Got to have a xkcd even if this is only a feeble 90%C. At least the ball only destroys a city not a country.



Re: Ever get the sense...

OK I accept the challenge.

Grand piano is about 500Kg. Lets skip over the messiness of colliding 2 of them and just throw a single piano to the ground at 99% speed of light. It hits with about 2.7E20J of energy which is about 67000 MT or 1350 times as big a bang as the biggest nuclear bomb ever exploded.

Putting it another way a piano at 99%C hits roughly as hard as a 2E12 Kg asteroid coming in at a modest 15 km/s or about 0.0001 as much bang as the dinosaur killer of 65 million years ago.

The Raspberry Pi Pico goes wireless with the $6 W


Re: While the Pi 4 Model B remains resolutely sold out at time of writing...

I did not know about that shop. Going there tomorrow!

Running DOS on 64-bit Windows and Linux: Just because you can


Re: if you just want to run some DOS productivity app

Remember the anticipation for Duke Nukem Forever and it did appear eventually so there is hope .... oh .... hmm .... just collect my coat.

Brute force and whiskey: The solution to all life's problems


Re: Why a "retired farmer"?

Beaker and proud of it. Froze my fingertips a few times though - nasty blisters :-(

NASA's 161-second helicopter tour of Martian terrain


Re: So gullible

Don't feed the trolls

South Yorkshire to test fiber broadband through water pipes


Re: fiber installed inside water pipes can be used to help water companies detect leaks

I think the idea is this is just to link towns not branch off into every house

Second Trojan asteroid confirmed to be leading our planet around the Sun



I think they mean Carbonaceous chondrite

Crack team of boffins hash out how e-scooters should sound – but they need your help*


Re: 30mph?

Darwin awards would rapidly sort out the 50 MPH escooter riders. Shame about the collateral damage though.


Clop - clop - clop - clop - ....

Horse (or coconut shell) noises. Lets go full circle to before cars.

Come on and admit it - this would be fun.

50 US airports to be surrounded by 5G C-band-free zones


Which 5G?

There is so much confusion in the press between 5G the communication protocol (which is about as significant as talking in french instead of german) and 5 GHz the RF frequency. They just don't get it.

Whisper - no one tell them that 5G phones might run at well above 5 GHz - they might panic even more especially if they discover that the screen they are looking at emits radiation at 50000 GHz!

When product names go bad: Microsoft's Raymond Chen on the cringe behind WinCE


Low quality

About 10 years ago there were big signs for a furnature shop proudly saying "50% off quality"

Macintosh Classic II and triceratops skull on auction: One's a dinosaur, the other has three horns on its face


Got excited for a moment - I am sure that I still have my Mac Classic II somewhere. Sadly not signed

Fortnite banana can appear in court naked says judge in Epic vs Apple legal footnote


Fruity sexual discrimination

Every banana you see in shops is sterile so this is a unacceptble intrusion into their unfortunate sexual status. Shame on the lawyers.

This drag sail could prevent spacecraft from turning into long-term orbiting junk. We spoke to its inventors ahead of launch


Re: designed to operate even if the host spacecraft is inactive

That is the only way for this to make sense. Thrusters require control but if this is a passive watchdog that eventually triggers unless a widget is powered up every day then it would work on dead spacecraft.

China's Mars rover assigned extended mission after exceeding life expectancy


Re: "China's Mars rover assigned extended mission after exceeding life expectancy"

The faster / better / cheaper triangle. Space engineering is right on the tip of the better side.

Wireless powersats promise clean, permanent, abundant energy. Sound familiar?


Sahara is the long term renewable energy source - just stop fighting and get it sorted!

If a sahara country builds a megascale solar plant then they would become the next saudi arabia but with better long tern prospects. There will be nutters who want to blow things up for no good reason but this is always the case and solar is more resiliant to this than oil.

Basically the only thing holding them back is the culture of coruption in these countries (look at Venezuela for a example). If they can get things stable then sub sahara will be the super rich of the late 2000s and will leave saudi in the messy dust but sadly I am not optimistic. Corrupt countries seem to be very hard to reform. The sahara is the engergy source of the future but sadly politics and religion look like holding it back for many decades.