* Posts by Chris Beattie

27 publicly visible posts • joined 9 Oct 2009

Reg readers speak out on Thin Client technology

Chris Beattie

Re: The cost...

While it's true that "their" desire for locked-down desktops and your desire for using whatever machine wherever are mutually exclusive, that doesn't really have anything to do with whether the desktops are virtual or not. We have pools of stripped-down linked-clone virtual desktops for task workers, but the devs get standalone dedicated virtual desktops with more CPU, memory, and storage, on their own subnet so they can have their own firewall rules.

When we started virtualizing dev desktops, we worked with the devs to provide them with machines capable of handling the work. They got the specs they asked for. They like that they don't have to keep a physical desktop (with its own keyboard, mouse, and displays) in their cubes and offices. They like that I can take a snapshot before they do anything potentially system-breaking, and one desktop disk failure can't destroy their carefully-arranged IDE. They also like that they can access their virtual desktop over the VPN the exact same way they access it when they're on the LAN.

It's also true that the back end to do this is NOT cheap, but if you're not getting the paintbrushes you need to work in a virtual environment, that's a policy problem not a virtualization problem.

30 years on from Challenger, NASA remembers the fallen

Chris Beattie

Comparable to Apollo 1, yes. The one I can think off off the top of my head was Soyuz 11 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soyuz_11). Comparable to the shuttle disasters, though, I don't think so. I can't think of any Russian craft that could carry more than three people except Buran, whose sole orbital flight was uncrewed.

I would not be surprised if there were more, but the Cold War-era Soviets were especially tight-lipped regarding failures.

Come on kids, let's go play in the abandoned nuclear power station

Chris Beattie

Re: I visted here in 1988

I used to work at a nuclear power plant. I never set anything off on the way in to the controlled areas, but at least twice my hard hat got confiscated by the health physicists on the way out. No big deal: they'd let me know when they'd cleaned it up and I could come back to retrieve it.

I was better off than one of the guys, who got his PANTS (or trousers, in Wallace and Gromit's English) confiscated. He received a pair of paper "modesty shorts" for his trouble.

I was way, WAY better off than another worker, who got sent home in a whole paper suit. His car broke down in the rain on his way home, and his suit disintegrated while he was repairing the car! When he finally got home, he had to honk the horn until his wife came out, so she could get him a towel.

Kentucky to build 3,400-mile state-owned broadband network – and a fight is brewing

Chris Beattie

Re: It's competition (how unfair)

Where I live, the cable company tried to tell my that my "promotional rate" was expiring, two years in a row. Meanwhile, a friend in a nearby city subscribed to the same service and speed, but in which Google plans to deploy fiber, got a letter from the cable company saying that they were bumping him from 15Mbps to 45Mbps, with no change in his bill.

Cambridge boffins: STOP the rush to 5G. We just don't need it

Chris Beattie

Re: Missing poll option

Yes, they do. I know, because I have it. You have to have a grandfathered unlimited data plan to start with, and you can't buy a new phone on contract or they'll change your plan. When my 3G phone died, I bought a 4G phone from eBay. I took it to the local Verizon store to purchase a 4G SIM for it and get it activated.

Now, whether Verizon does any rate limiting or not, I can't tell. I work in the sticks where the phone switches between 3G and 4G often, but my current phone has lost enough of its little metal mind that even on good wi-fi at home it would be charitable to call it "sluggish". But my bill doesn't change whether I use 3GB in a month or 13.

FOCUS! 7680 x 4320 notebook and fondleslab screens are coming

Chris Beattie

Re: Anyone using 4K monitor in Linux?

I am. I got one of the ~$600USD Samsung 28" UHD displays last year. I'm running Ubuntu 14.04 still. I toyed around with the display at work before I brought it home. There wasn't anything I could get my hands on that could drive it at native resolution. I knew the integrated Intel graphics on my home PC would surely be even worse, so I got an Nvidia GeForce 750Ti too, because I figured that had the best chance of driving it at 60Hz without spending even more money and the proprietary drivers aren't hard to install in Ubuntu.

I don't think anything I do even needs that many FPS. I don't game on that machine. It sure does make photo editing a lot easier, though. I have an older DSLR whose images nearly fit on-screen at 100% zoom, so I can figure out that all of my pictures are out of focus that much faster. Google Earth looks great, too. The only "problem" there is looking at a city, it just takes a long time for all the 3D buildings to transfer over from Google's servers.

The default Unity interface isn't a problem for me to use. I never bothered to see if I could scale the widgets. I still find myself making use of multiple desktops like I've always done, with different sets of apps on each desktop (GIMP in one, browsers in another, copying files in a third, etc.).

Most of the stuff on YouTube that claims to be 4K still looks like crap, but I was able to download sample videos that do look spectacular (Blender's "Tears of Steel" and a Canal+ demo). I don't have a fast enough network connection to stream 4K, I guess.

The monitor was so new when I got it that all the on-screen menus were in Korean, and it shipped with a pamphlet that tried to describe how to set them to English. There was some sort of bug where the language settings weren't shown in the menus unless the monitor was already displaying an image, or something like that. I got that all sorted out, though, and I've been using it for almost a year and never regretted it once.

Verizon punches RED button on Redbox Instant video-streaming service

Chris Beattie

Re: Will the Redbox application be removed from the PS3 and PS4 menus?

Too right! It was impossible to ignore, too. You got a mandatory giant icon in the menu if you didn't have Redbox Instant installed. You had to install the app just to get a normal-sized icon.

PlayStation 4 BLUE LIGHT OF DEATH blamed on power cords, TV sets, butterflies in China

Chris Beattie

"0.4% is just the number logged with Sony as faulty - and likely in itself is understated. Thousands more will be returned to vendors, or not yet logged. And yet more will remain unopened until Christmas - likely this is a few percentage points of failures for such widespread complaints...Sony have real issues here."

Okay, I've read comments like this more than once now. The rate of manufacturing defects has nothing whatsoever to do with when the boxes are opened. Nobody is cherrypicking broken-but-unopened PS4s to save them for Christmas. For the people that do end up with a broken PS4 on Christmas, they will probably exchange their hardware at their retailer or Sony at the same rate they are today.

There may indeed be a bump if retailers' returns aren't counted in that 0.4% yet, but waiting until Christmas to open the box will not change the rate at which PS4s are returned. It may increase the absolute number of returns, but there will also be at the same time a corresponding increase in the number of working consoles that are not returned.

Microsoft silently kills silent, automatic Skype install via Updates

Chris Beattie

Re: Oh look.

Yes. The Google Toolbar for Enterprise was the least-worst option for adding spell-checking to text input fields in Internet Explorer. Group Policy is used to limit both the features and the number of installations to as few as necessary.

Adobe auto-update eases Flash update chore - on Windows only

Chris Beattie

Re: Corporate Level Deployment

Adobe has been doing this for years. Download the installer package of your choice from Adobe.


Then deploy that and your mms.cfg file through your corporate distribution method of choice.


I use Active Directory Group Policies to update Flash and Reader. Reader is more involved, but you use the Adobe Customization Wizard to generate a transform file containing your custom settings.

BOFH: Dawn raid on Fort BOFH

Chris Beattie

We have a Compaq iPaq with a flat battery, and a Fujitsu Stylistic tablet.

Ooh, the Stylistic still boots! Now to figure out which iPad-craving manager is going to get this thing delivered to their desk on the first of next month...

Feds unlock suspect's encrypted drive, avoid Constitution meltdown

Chris Beattie

Re: Re: "or risk a spell begins bars for contempt of court"

"...or turn over a plain-text version of the data held on they machine."

Have some more coffee!

Mobile telcos bleed $13.9bn as IM apps chomp on SMS

Chris Beattie

Re: Good!!

Agreed! The cost per message was completely out-of-line with the actual costs of the service. The market was bearing it, however, until there were enough smartphones that other messaging services could perform the same function. What I hope happens is that the competition will bring the costs of SMS in line with the other messaging services.

It doesn't have to be free, but if carriers want to keep making money from SMS, they need to be able to compete with free services.

iOS 5's iMessage chops carrier SMS routing traffic

Chris Beattie

I didn't use SMS much until about a year-and-a-half ago. Then I had to choose between a $25/month extra charge for WAP browsing and unlimited text messages on a regular mobile phone, or $30/month extra for unlimited data and a smartphone.

It was kind of a no-brainer. I went with the smartphone and Google Voice. Google Voice requires a data connection, so it isn't as robust as SMS. However, I have good data coverage most everywhere I care to go, and I can still fall back to SMS if I really need to.

Google was already reading my mail, so letting them read my text messages wasn't that much of an extra worry.

Apple recalls first iPod Nanos over battery flaw

Chris Beattie

Rats! I HAD a first-gen nano. It worked fine in my car powered from the dock adapter, but the battery degraded to the point where it could not power the player for even short runs. I replaced it with a 4G nano.

I took a shot at replacing the failed battery myself, which by then had puffed up like a tiny pillow in its foil wrapper. Surprisingly, after the replacement, the nano worked as well as new. I gave it away, though, since I already had a newer model.

Men most likely to friend dodgy Facebook strangers

Chris Beattie

Facebook has Lists, by which you may categorize your friends. It's actually had them for a while now, but it wasn't until Google+ did it better with Circles that Facebook improved the interface. However, Lists still give off a "Me, too!" vibe, even though they predate Circles.

El Reg in email address blunder

Chris Beattie


That would have been my pick for the subhead, heh heh.

Apple outs iPhone micro USB adaptor

Chris Beattie

"it's usually lost after couple of wees after purchase."

It's like you think Apple users are pissing away their money or something.

BOFH: Die, Robot

Chris Beattie

@Michael Miller

I was hoping for an Impossible Mission throwback, myself.

"Ah, another visitor. Stay a while. Stay FOREVER!"

"Destroy him, my robots!"


Commodore 64 reincarnated as quad-core Ubuntu box

Chris Beattie


"If you'd prefer an 8-bit processor and the old Commodore kernel, you're out of luck."

If you're talking about old Commodores, it's kernal, not kernel.

Endeavour good to go on 7 Feb

Chris Beattie

Re: Cupola, Windows in space?

I am not a rocket scientist, but here's my guess.

Pressure is one part of it. The pressure exerted by the deep ocean on a submersible is many times higher than the pressure exerted by the atmosphere inside the station. However, the ocean pressure is inward relative to the submersible but outward relative to the space station. I seem to recall the shuttle is pressurized to less than one ATM to reduce the stress on the hull, and I would not be surprised if the ISS did the same thing.

The other thing is debris. At orbital velocities, even something as small as a paint chip carries a lot of kinetic energy. A piece of metal hit by such a particle could deform on impact, cushioning the blow, maybe even springing back to shape if the hit was small enough. Glass would be more likely to chip or crack. I imagine that the cupola resembles those on tanks and other armored vehicles is entirely on purpose.

In the event that a pane is damaged, it seems like it would be more easily covered if you only have to patch over one port to keep your atmosphere contained rather than a whole dome, too.

Critical Adobe updates overshadow MS Patch Tuesday

Chris Beattie

Uninstalling old versions

"So you get the update but does not remove the older versions of the software.....

For what reason is that?"

Some applications are tied to a particular version of Java. For example, until recently Symantec Endpoint Protection Manager did not run well under a JRE newer than 1.6u7. Symantec has since fixed that problem, but I had to keep the older JRE around until then. I did, however, keep up with the newer versions while that was going on.

Adobe Reader 9 has the ability to uninstall previous versions going back to version 5 or 6. I don't recall if 8 does, though.

Google says ad blockers will save online ads

Chris Beattie

@Robert Carnegie

I use a combination of Adblock Plus and NoScript on Firefox. If I like a site enough, I'll tell ABP to allow ads on that site, but NoScript is still there to stop the annoying Flash-based ones. That still leaves animated GIF ads, but for years Mozilla's browsers have had the ESC key as a hotkey to stop animations, so it's not so bad.

BOFH: Baitin' switch

Chris Beattie

Good one!

Simon, you are my hero!

Adobe relieves Reader and Acrobat update blues

Chris Beattie

@Andy Brown

"Still can't find a way to actually download the 9.2 exe - web site has a 'download' here link - but it isn't a download - it runs the installer prgram which downloads and installs."

Adobe usually provides a Reader installer for enterprise deployment, which does not include AIR or Acrobat.com, but you have to hunt around for it. It looks like 9.2 package that is being distributed is the enterprise version. Get the .msi instead of the .exe here:


"I have 45 PCs to update - I want to put the installion exe on a shared drive - not navigate to the adobe download page and download 30Mb EVERY TIME!"

You have more PCs than where software distribution systems start to be very handy. If you're not using one, you certainly need one. If you use Active Directory, set up a Group Policy for Reader installation. Adobe provides a document with instructions. You could probably set a Group Policy up from this document the first time in less time than it would take you to install Reader on five or ten PCs, especially if they're downloading the whole thing each time.:


That's how I'm deploying Reader 9.2 to over 500 computers.

If you can do that, you may also find the customization wizard rather handy. You can set your Reader deployment to automatically accept the EULA, or disable Javascript, for instance:


There's even a trick to use a Javascript file to hide menu items in Reader:


"And why does Adobes new patch cycle concide with MSs cycle."

So that beleaguered admins know when the patches come out, as opposed to the previous method, where I usually found out there was a new patch when I was looking for something else. Deploying Reader versions is easy for me, and I much prefer this method.

Critical Adobe Reader vuln under 'targeted' attack

Chris Beattie
Big Brother

Reason for Javascript

I seem to recall that Javascript can be used to perform input validation in PDF documents which contain editable text fields. Javascript can also be used to hide menu items in Reader. However, it's my opinion that Reader's increased attack surface is not worth the convenience.

At least Adobe provides a Group Policy template so Reader can be deployed and managed company-wide with its potential for damage mitigated.