* Posts by Stoneshop

4879 posts • joined 8 Oct 2009

Boffins baffled as supergiant star just vanishes – either it partially blew itself apart or quietly turned into a black hole

Stoneshop Silver badge

Re: Job done

Probably not been using an HP inkjet then; it would have jammed at least twice before the cartridges it came with ran out, and after the second set and five more jams some flimsy but essential part would have snapped, rendering the printer useless before even 9000 names had been printed.

Probably a Printronix belt printer that someone kept feeding boxes of greenbar, and fresh ink ribbons.

Stoneshop Silver badge
Thumb Up

Re: Always a simple explanation

One that must have gone wrong, as sundives are done to create a spectacular finale to the gig. Shows that even their, no doubt well-paid, stage technicians can occasionally miscalculate.

Finally, a wafer-thin server... Only a tiny little thin one. Oh all right. Just the one...

Stoneshop Silver badge

Re: Partial blackout story (not UPS, though)

Someone still got a right royal for that one - a lot of the cost of preparing a site for works is carrying out utility surveys.

Airborne pigs around you much?

This was removing an ex farm shed from a plot where two (private) houses were going to be built. They'd already found and disconnected the feed that had been in use until then which came from the farm building meter box; this was a much older one, clearly way older than the shed, that ended, well, somewhere under the shed floor roughly in the front 1/3rd branching directly from the substation cable under the access road (otherwise it'd only have taken out the main fuses in the farm building). So apparently there had been another farmhouse there but only our 75-year old neighbour vaguely remembered it; no-one else did.

Stoneshop Silver badge

Re: Mine's a very old APC also

Mine's an APC, about 18 years old, 800kVA, enough to still keep a modern PC and its monitor alive (thank god for LCDs) for several minutes and an comfortable orderly shutdown.

With an average PC and an LCD monitor an 800kVA UPS should be able to keep them powered for weeks, not mere minutes. Is it perhaps time to change the batteries again?

Stoneshop Silver badge

Acrid smoke

I've learned to keep well away from mid-'70's and earlier Japanese equipment, as the electrolytics they are built with not only go bang when powered up after a long hiatus (as old electrolytics are prone to do anyway), but when doing so emit noxious fumes that play havoc with my sleep for weeks. So first thing with that kind of kit is a long and thorough session with the soldering iron and a tray of fresh caps.

Back in University we were doing an intro electronics lab; a doddle for people like me for who it had been a decade since building their first radio, but there were others who were utterly new to this. One of that second group was working on the lab bench opposite me, and the circuit we had going involved, for some obscure reason, 150V DC.

Electrolytics prefer to have their polarity respected. Very much. When violated they tend to protest noisily and noxiously. The student also reacted quite noisily, and I don't doubt he emitted some noxious substances as well

Stoneshop Silver badge

UPS drained *real* quick.

Existing DC, getting more and more crucial so it was decided to put a no-break in. 80 to 100 kVA by my estimate, going by the stuff humming inside.

A shed was built, genset and an UPS with a huge battery bank were installed and wired up. And after some dry runs the Real Test is planned: they'll just whack the Big Red Breaker on the incoming feed. Fair enough, and I don't see many options to perform that test in a meaningful but different way.

So, with a little bit of trepidation, the head of facilities and the DC manager flip that switch and yes, the UPS takes over without a hitch. Fifteen or so seconds later the diesel starts up: good, good. But then the fun starts. Note that this is 1986, and power electronics that can just twiddle 100kVA at 50Hz to sync with a diesel generator aren't quite there yet, so this setup has an UPS with a fixed output and needs the diesel to sync before the load can be switched over without fireworks and explosions.

So the diesel's controller starts tweaking the revs, but the damn thing fails to lock sync with the UPS. And of course the UPS batteries are meant to bridge maybe five minutes, during which the diesel would surely have been able to sync, but in this case didn't. And yes, the whole DC went down.

Stoneshop Silver badge

How to blow up 1000 houses all at once...

Pilot lights are supposed to have a shutoff safety valve controlled by a bimetal strip or a sealed oil-filled container that expands when heated if the pilot flame goes out, the valve closes and the pilot light extinghuishes. To light it again you'd have to press and hold a button that opens the valve manually, ignite the light and keep pressing the button until the safety has heated up again keeping the valve open.

Stoneshop Silver badge

Re: Partial blackout story (not UPS, though)

In my, fortunately limited experience, when 1 phase goes it is best to expect the other 2 to follow soon. To fix a distribution board or substation the sparky attending to it usually has to power the whole thing down.

About two years ago I was sitting at the workbench in my study/room/den when I saw the lights briefly dip and heard a short *Whonk* of the UPS kicking in, then switching off again. Turning around I saw one of the ceiling lights being off[0], and part of my workbench had lost power but the network cabinet was still up and the UPS was on passthrough. Opening the circuit breaker cabinet I saw the power monitor display just one phase; it was clear that whatever had happened had taken out two phases, and it was equally clear that it was some external event as otherwise there would have been audible and olfactory indications emanating from that breaker cabinet. A quick probe confirmed that two of the three phases in the incoming feed carried only a very feeble voltage, not the normal 230V AC. Calling the energy supplier confirmed that a) it was indeed external and b) they already knew the culprit: a JCB on a building plot 200m away.

A short while later two sparkies turned up at the substation[1], notified me that they'd have to cut all the power while checking out the transformer and other stuff, which they expected to take two hours. It actually took three and a half, because the cable the JCB had hit was rather prehistoric and not shown on their drawings.

[0] Of course every room is fed from two groups on separate phases.

[1] right next door.

Stoneshop Silver badge

The Dell rep did exactly the correct thing based on the information given,

One of the smoothest service calls I've had to make, regarding a deeply problematic intermittent network error.:

* Call service hotline, get contract status verified, get connected to 2nd line tech for problem analysis.

* Tech notes down my problem description, preliminary analysis, corrective actions taken and current problem status.

* Tech verifies several actions that should have solved the problem, or at least narrowed down the source, as having been taken.

* Tech moves problem up to 3rd line support.

* Shortly after I get a call back from 3 line support: an honest-to-goodness greybeard and ex-colleague. "So you've already eliminated $this, $that, and $thatotherthing as the problem source, and I can see from the logs that you've done so correctly. Means we're into Really Interesting territory. I'll be there in an hour and a half."

Stoneshop Silver badge
Flame

Surely the first thing you do when asked to move a large number of systems is talk to the facilities group to make sure that adequate power & cooling is available. Before plugging things in.

At one of my contracts I happened to get 'floor manager' as one of my duties, as that position had been empty for a good while despite being rather urgently needed: a reorg would see about 80 racks worth of systems move into our computer room.

That was more than just a bit ambitions, as even after Much Reshuffling of the kit present, and redoing several access aisles, there was room for a mere 55 racks. But with respect to power and cooling, all was supposed to be fine even after the last box would have been moved in and powered up, as both power and cooling were at about 15% load initially and were calculated to go up to about 35% of maximum capacity. Apparently, someone had opted for Massive Overkill on the design specs and managed to get them signed off.

And indeed, those post-move figures were close to correct, and even showed we had been somewhat zealous about rounding up. So, just when things had settled again after the move, there was a power failure and the no-break dutifully kicked in.

Still no problem. Really.

Until ten or so minutes later sensors in the UPS shed started calling out severely elevated temperatures. This was saved by Site Facilities through the use of all the floor-standing fans they could find, pointed at the opened doors of the UPS shed.

Lessons Learned: yes, the UPS shed's cooling system should also be running off the no-break power.

Belief in 5G conspiracy theories goes hand-in-hand with small explosions of rage, paranoia and violence, researchers claim

Stoneshop Silver badge

Re: 5G also causes missing words syndrome

b) they don't have an email address that they want to "waste";

I could be mistaken, but isn't there an email address involved in account creation? There's one listed in my profile, and I don't think it's optional.

Stoneshop Silver badge
Holmes

Re: Be careful about definitions Reg.

You missed out the rather important word 'unreasonable' in your definition of paranoia.

Paranoia is a perceived hostility towards the sufferer; if there's someone running towards you brandishing a machete, the 'perceived' component of their ill intent should be just about absent.

Stoneshop Silver badge

Re: We have our own US-based All-American 5G Conspiracy Theory!

Can't he just put it in a leakproof bag and hang it on the coat rack thusly?

Stoneshop Silver badge
Headmaster

Re: So basically ...

it their crazy, evidence-lite explanation

That's quite the charitable modifier you used there.

Stoneshop Silver badge
Trollface

Re: I'm prone to all of those things and yet I don't believe in the 5G conspiracy.

Does it make you fat? Tall? Makes your beard fall out? Grow backwards? Causes impotence?

All that, and it makes your teeth turn blue. Obviously; it says so on the tin.

And possibly your backwards-growing beard as well.

With intelligent life in scant supply on Earth, boffins search for technosignatures of civilizations in the galaxy

Stoneshop Silver badge

Re: Evidence?

If we really believe that life will be similar to our on another world then we should be checking for facebook and twitter postings too.

A lot of those appear to come from another planet anyway; are you sure you can tell the difference?

Stoneshop Silver badge

Re: Other signs

I really do hope we are not alone

"Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-two million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea."

Stoneshop Silver badge
Facepalm

Re: 'this wavelength band' is where you would see sunlight reflected off solar panels

our best minds

Uh, are they really, when you consider their search protocol?

Stoneshop Silver badge
Boffin

wonder what the reaction will be

... next planet.

Stoneshop Silver badge
Boffin

Re: Major Assumption

Well,the ones that are now conducting this search certainly aren't members of the set they're looking for.

Stoneshop Silver badge
Boffin

Re: Good luck with that

there is no guarantee another civilisation will necessarily develop along the same limes that we have, the thinking seems to be either simplistic or arrogant.

Have you ever been able to observe Americans visiting a Furrin Coutry during a time where not every town was overrun with fastfood joints and other exponents of US 'culture' already? And gathering a statistically significant sample that way, noting the common behavioral elements?

Expecting everything to be the same everywhere is an utterly typical trait.

CERN puts two new atom-smashers on its shopping list. One to make Higgs Bosons, then a next-gen model six times more energetic than the LHC

Stoneshop Silver badge
Facepalm

Re: Old Moore's law?

(Not sure where they got trees 800m tall for the posts though...)

From their equivalent of B&Q, where else?

Also the shovels and such.

Stoneshop Silver badge
Coat

would an LHC become the worlds vacuum cleaner?

It's certainly a way to collect dark matter for research.

Stoneshop Silver badge
Boffin

Lack of power

"The Register imagines some of our readers have advanced prototypes of most of the above under that pile of unfinished Raspberry Pi projects out in the garage."

I was working on a breadboard prototype, but that stuff doesn't even deal well with a 3-phase 35A mains feed, let alone the currents needed for a plasma wakefield accelerator, so I went and made a device that goes 'ping'[0] when the water kettle switches off because the kettle itself doesn't.

[0] And it's a very nice 'ping' indeed.

Stoneshop Silver badge
Devil

That would solve homelessness, poverty, privacy, and wars.

And Brussels Sprouts.

What does London's number 65 bus have to hide? OS caught on camera setting fire to '22,000 illegal file(s)!!'

Stoneshop Silver badge
Headmaster

Re: As we're talking about buses

Also from the 80s you'd pay the driver and he had a machine that had a shoot.

Perhaps if you'd write it 'chute', your search might yield better results.

Stoneshop Silver badge

Re: Were they the result of Spam?

Cheesy, cheesy.

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

Stoneshop Silver badge
Coat

Re: 1st ammendment

Except, due to that pesky 1st ammendment, I can tell you how to crack boats, medical equipment, and game consoles as much as I want, and they can't do jack shit about it.

For that I don't need your instructions, nor the 1st amendment (which does only apply in the US of A anyway). Just a large sledgehammer.

(the one with the Fubar XXL hanging off its belt)

Stoneshop Silver badge

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

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

They had one at a place I worked; the prints were top-notch, but at eye-watering prices. Especially when you'd only use one sporadically, as it did have some kind of cleaning or calibration routine that it would perform either on every power-up or at regular intervals (every week, IIRC).

Back then it was the only printing tech that could deal well with overhead sheets.

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

Stoneshop Silver badge

Re: Memories

Back when W95 came out I had a 386/40 with 16MB of memory (and four hard disks, the two largest of which were 160MB, reformatted to 320MB by using an ARRL controller). A friend had problems running W95 on a 4MB 386, and I suggested upgrading to 16MB. He then went shopping, and came back wit a 75MHz Pentium with, again, just 4MB RAM. On which W95 ran just as shitty. I had just installed OS/2, and in comparison it flew.

Stoneshop Silver badge

Re: I still highly doubt there ever was a machine with 2GB running Windows 95.

The Kobe earthquake was in 2011, so if that affected RAM prices in 1995 you may have accidentally found a timey-wimey wobbly thing.

In 1993 there was a fire at a chemical plant where they brewed the stuff for chip cases; I still have some 4MB RAM SIMMs where they had just stuck the chip itself onto the circuit board, sealing it with black goop (with the appropriate brand name 'Topless'), but that scarcity was just about over when W95 was launched.

Stoneshop Silver badge

Re: I still highly doubt there ever was a machine with 2GB running Windows 95.

I had a look at a few Thinkpad models from around 1998; newer laptops would have been installed with W98 standard, although businesses might have reinstalled W95 for support reasons[0]. The largest machines from that era had a 400MHz P2 with 512MB or 544MB RAM; largest SO-DIMM they could take was 256MB.

Memory expansion cards were not uncommon for desktop systems, although with Pentium/PCI systems they tended to be dedicated for particular mobos, ISTR there were some generic ones for VLB, and of course ISA, but those would have maxed out at 16MB. With laptops you'd be running into space problems, although I can figure there having been docking stations with extra memory

[0] 'Frank' would of course have told them he couldn't work with W95, possibly even installing his own pirated W98 copy.

Stoneshop Silver badge

Mine was also a BBC B; at least its cassette storage format allowed you to just retry that last block instead of having to reload the entire program.

Bloke rolls up to KFC drive-thru riding horse-drawn cart only to be told: Neigh

Stoneshop Silver badge
Holmes

Re: Corporate policy to refuse service to non-standard conveyances?

It may be the case that British comedians aren't as universally known as you might think.

And of bloody fscking course I could have startpaged him, but it was an expression of the above statement.

Stoneshop Silver badge
Headmaster

Re: Ubbereats?

First parsed that misslepping as Rubbereats.

Qiute apt, actually.

Stoneshop Silver badge
WTF?

Re: Corporate policy to refuse service to non-standard conveyances?

Mark Who?

Stoneshop Silver badge

Re: Burgers?

I'm sure many independents are doing the same.

Quite. There's an excellent burgers[0] & pancakes restaurant right at the border with Germany here; they've been open for takeaway that way, except for the first few days of the lockdown I think. With the easing, and current weather cooperating, they're now allowed to use their considerable outdoor seating area.

[0] beef, fish and veggie.

Stoneshop Silver badge
Devil

Re: Slow fast food

So we haven't had an forced fast food deprivation

There would have been a noticeable number of rampages otherwise.

Stoneshop Silver badge
Devil

17 horses and McD

One day, well over two decades back, I decided to go for a milkshake. It was a fairly warm day, dry and somewhat dusty, and I had just helped fix up the moto trials terrain with some other members of the club, so some cold refreshment was in order. My transport was an East-German sidecar rig[0], with the awesome power of seventeen horses propelling it forward. Somewhat.

So I rode up to the intercom, ordered the shake, and proceeded to the till.

"We can't serve you, you're on a motorcycle."

Technically, that would be true. However, the contraption has three wheels[1]; and allows me to just sit on it without further effort to keep it balanced when stationary. Neither would I be hindered in reaching for my wallet, or the consumption, nor would I have no way to ride off except with the shake awkwardly jammed between my thighs, instead having ample room to take several dozen milkshakes with me if I had had that urge. This I conveyed to the cashier in words with as few syllables as feasible.

"We can't serve you, you're on a motorcycle.". This was by some sort of supervisor.

So, apparently their collective IQ was roughly that of one of their salads, and with a warm and heart-felt "fuck you" I rode off to visit the Italian ice-cream parlour in the city centre, Which I should have opted for in the first place, except that it was a bit awkward to reach as I'd have to negotiate a couple of traffic access controls to get there.

I haven't dealt with them ever since.

[0] with a transport tub instead of a conventional passenger sidecar, quite suitable as a replacement for a car boot. In fact, I had just delivered one and a half railway sleeper to the terrain to be used as obstacles.

[1] about as much as a Reliant Robin has, although those are decidedly less stable.

Play stupid games, win stupid prizes: UK man gets 3 years for torching 4G phone mast over 5G fears

Stoneshop Silver badge

Bridge of Cally is nearly 450 miles away.

That's an impressively long extension cord you're using there.

Stoneshop Silver badge

Re: why vital?

pretty easy when you grew up in a small town in the 70s: 2-double-1

Where we lived is currently the third-largest city in the Netherlands, and while I don't know the actual number of phone lines back then, the local subscriber number was already six digits.

Stoneshop Silver badge
Boffin

you can't burn stuff you don't like down

What about throwing statues of slavers into the Harbour?

Metal statues tend to not burn very well[1]. Especially not when thrown in the water[2].

[1] excepting those made of magnesium, which is not very common.

[2] excepting those made of sodium, potassium and the other alkali metals, which is not very common either.

Stoneshop Silver badge
Holmes

not currently supposed to be roaming

So tearing down mobile infra is OK for the moment?

Right, then you'll be helping getting it back in working order once this stuff is sufficiently over that we can be out and about again?

Stoneshop Silver badge
Trollface

Great! Now I've got THIS stuck in my head!

There could be worse earworms.

You'd also be less keen having a rusty nail stuck in your temple.

Stoneshop Silver badge
FAIL

Re: 3 years for a terrorist offence ?

Whats is good for vodaphone IMHO is only a benefit to others by accident.

Oh really? It's only good for Voda because people see benefit in using their infra, sufficiently so that they are paying for access to that infra. No benefit to people -> no paying users -> Voda (and other providers) go bust.

Trolling attempt: feeble, barely passable.

Reasoning capability: none detected.

Stoneshop Silver badge
Boffin

Re: EM proliferation

@"But naturally occuring EM" or more correctly radiation that we have evolved to live and even benefit from against the man made radiation that we have neither adapted to or have scientific knowledge sufficient to gauge the impact of.

Once again: power levels.

Never mind that the 'naturally occurring' EM radiation, especially the segment from about 700THz up isn't quite so beneficial to a lot of multicellular life forms, especially Brits, although they may not encounter this radiation in their default habitat.

Stoneshop Silver badge
Pirate

Re: If the offender is indeed insane -

you still go through the courts, or the newspapers, or your local politicians,

Going through your local politicians may quite often require a hazmat suit. Which are in short supply at the moment, so you can't readily take that course of action.

Stoneshop Silver badge

Re: why vital?

Gone are the days when we used to know dozens of people's numbers by heart.

How about still knowing our own telephone number 57 years on from when I was three years old? Okay, it had a nice ring^Wrhythm to it making it easy to memorise, but still.

Stoneshop Silver badge
Devil

Re: It's a shame...

Difficult to do that when Government and Commercial services are now increasingly only available through digital channels.

Internet access available only via a limited connection that only resolves .gov.uk addresses.

(and never mind the javascript, fonts and trackers pulled in from various sources, plus the clod chunks that appear to be inevitable in today's Internet environment)

Barmy ban on businesses, Brits based in Blighty bearing or buying .eu domains is back: Cut-off date is Jan 1, 2021

Stoneshop Silver badge
Headmaster

Re: .eu what ?

who would want to keep a .eu if they can have the same name with their country tld ?

Sometimes words or expressions require an .eu ending, and simply don't work with a ctld: achwatsn.eu, wasistn.eu, parbl.eu. achwats.nl? wasistn.de? parbl.fr?

Using ctlds for those would have people thinking whatthefc.uk.

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