* Posts by Ogi

449 posts • joined 13 Nov 2009

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Looking for a home off-world? Take your pick: Astroboffins estimate there are nearly 6bn Earth-likes in the Milky Way

Ogi
Thumb Up

Re: Pretty cool science

Me too! I remember the episode of Horizon from 1996 that dealt with it, "Planet hunters". I still have a digitised copy which I occasionally watch for nostalgic reasons, and it is amazing to see how far we have come.

At the time of that episode, they still had no idea how many planets there were out there, most stars they investigated seemed to have none. Finding the first ones (AFAIR, it was orbiting a pulsar), was a serious event, even though they had no hope of harbouring life.

Now it seems almost every star has some kind of exoplanet, we have so many we need machines to keep track of them, and keep finding more and more planets in existing data.

Full stack, C++, and backend developers in demand in this week's job openings

Ogi

Re: Backend in JS!?

>Wordpress accounts for 80% of hacks BECAUSE it is the majority player,

I am not convinced, having in a former (apparently cursed) life, been a web admin for a 100% wordpress webhost, I can assure you that beneath the shiny CMS frontend, wordpress is a horrid insecure mess.

The amount of times I see wordpress do things like "exec($random_byte_string)", or "include $dynamic_path.php" in the code is frightening. It looks like it was programmed by 1st year undergrads as a "learning php" project.

The two things above, coupled with a buggy file_upload.php, most likely results in 99.9% of the hacks on wordpress.

I have seen it, where attackers use a page to send a random php byte string to the underlying exec() function (With no checks or sanitation on wordpresses part), resulting in a compromise.

The other method I have seen them use is to exploit the file_upload.php to upload their own php file, which they then execute by including their PHP in another file with a dynamic include function.

One thing I eventually did was disable exec() in php, which broke wordpress of course. I then went through all of the wordpress code, and rewrote the chunks that depended on exec to make it more secure.

The second thing I then did was make the wordpress web folders read-only to the web browser. This stopped the file_upload compromise. After that we had virtually no problems at all with security.

However, it also meant that (a) you could not install any plugins/themes once set RO, nor upload any files, and (b) some plugins/themes had to themselves be rewritten in order to work without exec.

I maintained this private branch for the company while I worked there, and there were no more compromises (but a lot of moaning from clients for why $free_plugin_X does not work on "our wordpress", and "Why can't I just upload files myself").

The content itself was held in a mysql DB, so once a wordpress site was configured with a theme and media uploaded, the text could be changed by the end user as normal.

So a "secure wordpress" can be done, but it requires a higher skilled developer to do, which is lacking in most of the wordpress ecosystem (especially in the "free themes/plugins" area).

Fact is, even if WP was 10% of the web market, it would still get exploited like now, because their security mistakes are so basic, your average script kiddie can compromise your site.

80-characters-per-line limits should be terminal, says Linux kernel chief Linus Torvalds

Ogi

Re: I'll display my whitespace how I choose, thank you very much.

I don't know, for me, tabs make more sense as an indentation method. Especially if you want 'consistency' and 'standards'.

Using tabs means that the code always has the same indentation in the form of one tab per "indent", and it is up to the editor to display that indentation as 4 spaces, 8 spaces, or whatever the user prefers.

$x number of spaces should never be used for indentation, because it is fixed in the code. Someone may like 1 space per "indent" in order to fit as much in the width of their monitor. Somebody else might like 8 spaces per "indent" because they have a really wide monitor and prefer to see it that way.

Using tabs makes accommodating the spacing of indents client side, and therefore easy to display in the users preferred tab width. The alternative is hard coding the spaces, which means each person either has to tolerate somebody else's preferences, or has to re-indent the code before working on it (and then possibly redo the previous indentation afterwards), which is error prone and a waste of time.

I always use tabs for indenting, and depending on the system I am viewing it on, the "tab space" can be between 2 and 8 for the same code.

I admit the forced use of fixed spaces in Python is one of my long standing irritations with the language, and the only part of the PEP standards that I happily ignore in my own code. Unfortunately I can't do so when working on a big project with others, due to the hard coding of spaces, so we have to stick to "4 spaces per indent", and all be equally unhappy.

It could be 'five to ten years' before the world finally drags itself away from IPv4

Ogi
Boffin

You can represent ipv4 addresses as hex if you want:

e.g. 216.58.210.196 => d8.3a.d2.c4 (www.google.com)

Indeed, the operating systems I use work just fine with that, for example. My browser (pale moon) correctly connects to http://0xd83ad2c4/ on Linux. Other things like ping work as well:

~$ ping -c 2 0xd83ad2c4

PING 0xd83ad2c4 (216.58.210.196) 56(84) bytes of data.

64 bytes from 216.58.210.196: icmp_seq=1 ttl=54 time=17.6 ms

64 bytes from 216.58.210.196: icmp_seq=2 ttl=54 time=15.4 ms

--- 0xd83ad2c4 ping statistics ---

2 packets transmitted, 2 received, 0% packet loss, time 1001ms

rtt min/avg/max/mdev = 15.459/16.540/17.622/1.089 ms

Same thing is with ipv6 in reverse, you can represent it as decimal. For example. the ipv6 address you gave can be represented in decimal like so:

2001:4860:4860::8888 => 42541956123769880606220662448000886044

As ipv6 has more bits, to keep it short and easy to remember, hex rather than decimal is used.

While I don't find "2001:4860:4860::8888" particularly easy to remember, it is easier than its decimal representation.

Elevating cost-cutting to a whole new level with million-dollar bar bills

Ogi

Re: Cars of the day... with good old steel bumpers and side panels

> The bus company were reasonably happy to accept responsibility, up until they got the £20,000(!) repair bill.

To save weight, because every ounce of energy is precious (being directly related to the range before needing a long charge), BEVs are made almost completely with aluminium.

Aluminium is a PITA to weld, you need to use a TIG welder, and correspondingly needs a higher skilled weldor. As a result, while pretty much every garage can weld steel, very few specialist places can weld aluminium, and the costs + labour are correspondingly higher.

Especially with electric vehicles, as you have to be very careful to not ignite the battery pack while welding, and make sure it is electrically isolated/safe.

Saying that, more and more ICE cars are also going to Aluminium bodies to save weight (and improve economy), so I expect they will have similar repair costs.

Forget tabs – the new war is commas versus spaces: Web heads urged by browser devs to embrace modern CSS

Ogi

Re: WTF

Yeah, its funny how "newer" has come to mean "worse than before".

Once upon a time newer was considered better, I used to look forward to software upgrades, because useful features would be added, bugs would be fixed and performance would be improved.

Nowadays upgrades usually mean worse performance/more bloat, more lockdown, more spying, more "monetization" of every nook and cranny they can find, more "online only" subscriptions they want me to have, and usually a different set of bugs introduced.

Indeed for some software I go out of my way to avoid upgrading as long as possible, and I am obviously in the majority, as it is a big enough problem that some of them have started doing forced upgrades (where there is no technical reason you can't use the old version anymore, they just block you until you upgrade because they can).

Even outside of software, newer tends to mean "more flimsy" and "more cheaply built" for the same price, or more. Sometimes when (after many years of using an item) it comes to replace it, the same item is more expensive, yet more cheaply built, and fails faster than the old one. Only good thing is that physical manufacturers have not found a way to force me to use newer items, so there is a thriving second hand market in them.

Ogi
Boffin

Re: "Get used to the modern"

It was not uncommon in older British cars to have a mixture of metric and imperial, especially for designs that have their roots in the time before metrification of the UK.

Case in point, the Jaguar V12 engine, which had a mixture of imperial and metric threads, as the engine was originally imperial, and with time newer bits added to it were metric.

Then some cars had imperial sized heads on their bolts, so garages could use the tools they already had, but metric sized threads. So unless you knew in advance (or checked each bolt), you could not assume that an imperial headed bolt/screw was actually imperial threaded as well.

How's your night sky looking? The Reg chats to astroboffin Mark McCaughrean about Starlink and leaving a mark

Ogi
Alien

Re: Hoped for more

> it may be a pain for people doing full sky surveys of variable objects - but the Noble committee doesn't care about a bunch of stamp collectors so meh.

Pardon my ignorance in the matter, but doesn't planet hunting come under "full sky surveys of variable objects", as they have to scour the sky looking for variations in a stars brightness/position?

That does seem to be a very interesting field of study atm.

Beyond that, the starlink satellites have not yet ruined any of my amateur observations, however there are not that many up there, so the chances of hitting one are still quite small.

I don't think the objection to starlink is to the current number, but rather the future, when there may well be 30,000 of the things ( https://spacenews.com/spacex-submits-paperwork-for-30000-more-starlink-satellites/ ). How much disruption they will cause at that point I don't know, but by the time we find out it will be too late to do anything about it.

It tends to be easier to stop/alter a project when its just getting started, rather than after its already established, hence why people are complaining now, while things "don't look too bad" to outsiders.

Python 2 bows out after epic transition. And there was much applause because you've all moved to version 3, right? Uh, right?

Ogi

Re: why python ?

I can not see what python3 does that perl does not do. I cannot not see what python3 does that python2 does not do. I can see it is popular. But can someone explain why it is popular?. What was added over time that made a break necessary, What are its direct competitors?

In my opinion, Python became popular because it was easy to copy and paste from others code. Which made it easier for "newbies" to program.

Case in point. Back in the turn of the millennium (2000 or so), I wanted to learn to code on Linux. I was still at school and could not afford windows compilers. I could not get my head around C, so I looked at the two main options at the time. Perl was the established player, and this upstart called "Python" had just reached version 2.0.

Logically I went with perl, as it was the most popular, and tried to cobble stuff together the only way I knew, by copy pasting other code I found online, and trying to understand how it worked. Problem is, it just would not work, I would get syntax errors, or other errors, or it just would give incorrect results. I would look for "how to do $x" online and get 20 different ways of doing it, it was overwhelming, and I eventually gave up and tried Python.

Python was different, there is "only one way to do it", which meant I could copy/paste code from different projects and it would work, I could search "how to do $x" and get one overwhelmingly "correct" answer, which worked, and once I understood what a piece of code did, when I read other peoples code I could understand what they were doing.

Python is what got me deep into programming, and indeed I do believe this was one of the reasons many "educational" projects for young children seem to start with Python (or Python-like) programming languages. It is literally the "Basic" of Linux. Nowadays you can code up a python program to do what you want just by copy/pasting from stackoverflow (not that I would recommend it for anything serious, but for newbies it is useful)

Now, 20 years later, I still code in Python, but less and less scripting. The flexibility and string mangling of perl beats python hands down, while for performance I prefer C. Python sits in an interesting niche, I guess roughly where Java does, as kind of "middleware", and also it has some very good libraries for statistical analysis (the "jupyter" notebooks with numpy, pyplot and stats libraries has no equal for the price).

As for the changes between 2 and 3, the only one I was ok with was the conversion of "print" from a statement to a function, beyond that the changes either made no difference to me, or made my life harder, so meh.

Ogi
Unhappy

Re: Python breaking changes

They also changed how they handle arithmetic division:

Python2.7:

>>> 2 / 3

0

Python3.5:

>>> 2 / 3

0.6666666666666666

---

This caused horrible breakage on some software, because it did not throw an error, it just computed incorrect results. They should have had the interpreter print "Integer floor division warning at $line" (toggled by an interpreter flag perhaps?), as it would have helped me isolate and fix the issue.

And then there is the string handling. Python2 was simple, and you did not have to worry about it too much. In python3 you have "bytes", and then "strings", and some things expect bytes, others expect strings, and you have to translate between them. The amount of hell I have had when porting things, having to decode/encode all over the place, is a real PITA. And it does not seem to have brought any real benefit to me, just a lot of headache and more code needing to be written for the same task as before.

I've ported a few things across to python3, but if I am honest, some I ported to other languages, because it was easier.

Overall I am not a fan of the changes to python3, some things are good, but overall they have made simple things harder and more obscure. Going forward I expect to be doing less and less Python work.

Short of tech talent to deal with novel coronavirus surge? Let us help – with free job ads on The Register

Ogi

Re: You dont want to become a headline

The saying "Never quarrel with a man who buys ink by the barrel" comes to mind.

Although not sure the digital media version of that quote could be.... "buys bandwidth by the terabit" maybe?

Hello, sub £-100 Moto: Lenovo punts 6.1-inch display e6S at low-cost crowd

Ogi
Thumb Up

Aged?

> it clings stubbornly to the aged MicroUSB standard.

Good, microUSB is the one standard that has managed to persist for any period of time (short of the old barrel "nokia charger" back in the 90s early 2000's), why change it?

Pretty much every single device uses microUSB to charge now, not just phones. I got so many microUSB chargers, and so many more cables (as you know, microUSB is more than just a charging port), and it is so nice not to have to carry a charger/cable/adapter everywhere I go safe in the knowledge everyone has at least one microUSB cable kicking around. Or when going on holiday, being able to just take one or two microUSB chargers to cover all my devices. I have literally not been able to do that since the aforementioned "Nokia-everywhere" era.

Why on earth then, would I want them to move to another standard? One that is nowhere near as ubiquitous and convenient? I suspect a desire to charge us to replace all our chargers again, and for ones which have DRM to make sure you only buy the official, expensive, "branded" chargers. Yeah... no.

So, microUSB is a good point for me.

> There's a 3,000mAh battery, which charges at 5W over – as you may have guessed – MicroUSB, in addition to a 3.5mm headphone jack, Bluetooth 4.2, and 2.4GHz Wi-Fi b/g/n

Honestly, this sounds like my perfect next phone, and has a microSD slot to boot! If I find out the battery is removable, and you can put LineageOS on it, It would be perfect, and a guaranteed purchase from me. Alas the article didn't mention a removable battery, which is a shame...

Still, amazing to think that an 8 core CPU and 2GB ram is considered a "poor show" for a handheld mobile device. How times have changed... *glances at old Nokia n810, single core 400Mhz CPU with 128MB RAM*

Sure, check through my background records… but why are you looking at my record collection?

Ogi

Re: credit rating

> I intended "credit rating" to be understood in both literal and allusiory meanings for charge cards and social media respectively. Hope this is clearer now.

You mean a credit rating, that is social? Where have I heard that before....

Not sure that is the path I want us to be on, but I doubt the opinions of us peasants get paid much attention to by the powers that be. At least the Chinese are up front and honest about it.

I too have no social media, which means I must have a very low rating, but I am fine with that.

If a company rejects me due to lack of social media they can use to dig into my private life, then I dodged a bullet. I would not want to work for such companies.

I heard somebody say: Burn baby, burn – server inferno!

Ogi

Re: How about a nice long hot summer?

Aaah yes, we used to call them "Presshot", as a corruption of their core codename ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pentium_4#Prescott ).

The P4 was excellent at turning electricity into heat, and was the CPU that first made me consider trying AMDs offering (which was not as performant, but more efficient per Watt). Since then I have stuck with AMD on my machines.

Aaah... memories....

Don't use natwest.co.uk for online banking, Natwest bank tells baffled customer

Ogi

Re: The interns are early this year

I can accept there being shit in the bowels, that is what they are there for (up to a point).

It is when it starts overflowing everywhere that it becomes a problem. I think we are seeing that happen now.

Ogi
Thumb Down

Re: The interns are early this year

In addition:

- Their mortgage tracker does not resolve my mortgage application currently in progress (I called them up and they said its a technical problem and to try again later)

- Their online complaints page doesn't recognise any UK address as a valid UK address, and even if you use the "International address" option to type in your address directly, the submit form has an error (so you can't submit any complaints)

- Emails to them (marked delivered) seem to vanish in the bowls of their system, forcing someone to go hunting around for them, if they even find them.

- If you call them, they can usually pull up needed information, but do apologise as "their system is having some problems"

- Both me and other people I know have been victims of fraud on their natwest card in the last 2 months. In one case, their new natwest card came pre-defrauded (before they even used the new card the first time, there was a fraudulant transaction from Holland for Netflix on it). I had never been the victim of fraud until 2 months ago.

Quite a mess really. Something is going on in the bowels of that bank.

Google Chrome to block file downloads – from .exe to .txt – over HTTP by default this year. And we're OK with this

Ogi
Stop

Re: The long game

It is odd how little push back there is about this. It is like we are going back to the bad old days of IE, when one anti-competitive behemoth would implement non standard behaviour into its web browser, forcing others to either follow or risk breakage of the internet (Which, as said behemoth had majority market share, was too large to ignore).

Perhaps Googles idea is a good one, perhaps not, but the right way to do it (IMO) would be to try to make it a standard. If everybody else agrees it is a good idea, it will quickly be ratified and adopted, if not, then changes proposed, until it is considered good (or unsalvageable, in which case it get rejected).

Sure that may take longer, but getting a broad consensus is better than dictating direction (same reason we prefer democracy to dictatorships, even though things get done quicker in dictatorships).

Not call, dude: UK govt says guaranteed surcharge-free EU roaming will end after Brexit transition period. Brits left at the mercy of networks

Ogi

> and Iran...

Turns out that in addition to Hope, Irony also springs eternal...

Ogi

Re: Peace

AFAIK, after MS bought Nokia, they sold Nokia Maps, which was then rebranded as "Here Maps" ( https://wego.here.com ).

They have an app, it works great (even gives live traffic updates if you have internet), it can route trips >1000km (which most other app fails at) which is useful when I do a Euro tour, it works offline (and you can download the maps to sd card beforehand over wifi).

If you forgo the live traffic etc... it is also pretty private. History is stored locally on the app, and once you got the maps downloaded you don't need the internet/cloud at all. In fact I re-purposed my old phone as a plain GPS unit, with the app, a SD card full of maps and no SIM. Occasional update over wifi and its good to go.

To be honest, I am not quite sure how they make money. All the above is free, although I have been told they licence their maps/technology to car manufacturers for their in-car GPS units

It is the only app I use when I go on European tours, and I highly recommend it. I do still miss my old n900 though, although I did find my collection of n810's when doing some spring cleaning, so wondering what to do with them (alas, the old online deb repos for it no longer exist).

BSOD Burgerwatch latest: Do you want fries with that plaintext password?

Ogi
Linux

Re: Surprised they don't use *NIX

> I know you can control Linux with an MDM solution, but is it easy to push an update out to thousands of machines? Is it easy to monitor that deployment?

I have used Ansible to do that (being SSH based, all you need is a running SSH server on the target and a login, which pretty much every remote administered *nix machine has).

The biggest update push I did was to circa 130,000 Linux servers/workstations at a previous place I worked at. Took about an hour, which is a lot faster than if we had to do it manually (or even write a script to do it for us). The operation is atomic on a per host basis, so at the end you get a summary of success or failures.

Also, outside of the Windows world, it is perfectly possible to update a machine (including Kernel) without needing a reboot. So having a system uptime of years does not preclude the box sitting unpatched. Worst case is you have to restart some services so that updated libraries are loaded.

Welcome to the 2020s: Booby-trapped Office files, NSA tipping off Windows cert-spoofing bugs, RDP flaws...

Ogi

Re: Confusing.

> Seems they have a lot to gain and little to lose leaving it there.

They have probably found out (a) a new zero day hole, and/or (b) others have discovered this hole and are using it (possibly against NSA/allied systems).

At the point where your adversaries know and exploit the vulnerabilities you know about (or just defend from them), that is the time you should patch it and move to some other zero-day exploit,

The NSA also has a mandate to defend against threats, it is a balance between knowing vulnerabilities (to exploit others) and disclosing them to be fixed.

Hey kids! Ditch that LCD and get ready for the retro CRT world of Windows Terminal

Ogi

Re: I don't need retro effects

I miss the colour rendering, and the contrast. A friend has an old Triniton CRT that sits in his attic, connected to a KVM if he has to debug one of his servers. It spends 99% of its retirement off, however when I have used it I am always amazed at how great the colours are, and how deep the blacks are.

The only modern screens I have seen that come close now, many decades later, are OLED panels, and I have yet to see one larger than phone size, or one that will last decades without degradation (AFAIK current OLEDs degrade with time, even if unused).

We won't CU later: New Ofcom broadband proposals mull killing off old copper network

Ogi
Boffin

Re: one major problem that Ofcom is deliberately ignoring

Well, if we want to get really into the facts, Optical fibres transmit energy (power), in the form of EM radiation that our eyes can detect (light).

That radiation has energy. Just like Tesla (the inventor, not the company abusing his name) demonstrated when transmitting power wirelessly via radiowaves. This is the same way the old crystal radios worked (they got their energy from the radio signal itself, they had no batteries)

In theory, if you pump enough energy down the fibre cable, you could power things on the other end (using a converter, akin to a solar panel tuned to the light frequency emitted). I doubt it would be anywhere near as efficient as just plain copper over long distances, but in theory it could be possible to power a phone (or trickle charge the phones emergency batteries) with energy received from the fibre.

I would imagine that such a design would need a continuous carrier wave (that can be used for power), which is somehow modulated to transmit data. Alternatively use two wavelengths of light. One for power, one for signal, and split/combine them at the transceivers. Either way, you would also need very high quality fibre, which does not absorb much energy. I don't know what fibre they are using for FTTP, but probably the cheapest they can get, which might even be plastic rather than glass inside. That would probably not suffice if you try to shunt the equivalent of 25W of light energy down it, it would probably heat and deform somewhere.

EA boots Linux gamers out of multiplayer Battlefield V, Penguinistas respond by demanding crippling boycott

Ogi

Re: "EA still peddle games. Are they even relevant anymore?"

> Haven't they still got the thrill of steering a penguin down a slope?

Indeed, and I still find it fun from time to time :-)

Saying that, the situation has improved since I first steered that penguin down a slope:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_open-source_video_games

Out of the above I most recently played Warzone 2100 and Wormux (just for that vintage 2D worms experience, It is still a fun blast, especially MP).

I also had a go on properly set up FlightGear cockpit (used for basic training of new Pilots at a small aeroclub), as it is a pretty accurate simulator. That was fun in of itself.

So perhaps not as dynamic as the console/windows world, but still not as dire as it was before. My big surprise is how Steam pushing Linux games didn't really result in a change in direction towards cross OS platform gaming. I remember hearing about how the "SteamMachine" would usher in a golden age of games working on Linux, but that never happened.

Linux in 2020: 27.8 million lines of code in the kernel, 1.3 million in systemd

Ogi

> If a valid reason exists for parallel tasks, is there not a better-architected way than using a massive, ever-encroaching, 1.3M-line behemoth to get that benefit?

The irony is the old Linux init system supported parallel tasks since 2004 (I know because I used Gentoo back then, and it was a big feature for "fast boot times"). As I mentioned before, I find systemD boots slower (if it boots at all) than my Devuan box.

Seriously. SSDs etc... have made boot times fast enough that nobody cares about the efficiency of the init system anymore.

I still maintain that the number of people who cared about fast booting from cold was minuscule. Most Linux systems were servers that are so rarely rebooted that nobody cared if it took a few mins when it happened (especially as it could take a good 10 mins for the hardware to be probed, arrays spun up, etc...), and on desktops Linux has supported suspend/hibernate for longer than I can remember (15+ years I think), so you did not need to reboot often there either.

Ogi
Facepalm

Re: "It solves a problem that people have."

I got to agree. I have FreeBSD and Devuan everywhere, except at work (where all the Linux boxen are systemD, and virtualised on Windows to provide stability and reliability), and the raspberry pi's, because raspbian uses it.

Needless to say, Like you I spend a lot of time fighting systemD on the pi's (*) to stop assuming what I want. That is a core problem with systemD (one of many).

I have been trying to switch to FreeBSD on the pi, and it works well, but a lot of the raspi tools are by default written assuming Linux. The good news is Devuan now supports the pi's as well, but their support lags behind raspbian.

It is good that Linux is still flexible enough to not have a hard dependency on systemD, so you can use other systems (or no system at all. I have written my own init programs for embedded systems in the past).

However I wonder how much longer that will be the case. As systemD absorbs more and more, like the home directories (WTF?!), it will get harder to use the kernel without it. Even Devuan has to use systemD "shims" that handle things systemD has subsumed to the point it is hard to detangle them, and I suspect that will only get worse with time.

(*) If I am honest, I spend a lot of time fighting it on servers, and on desktops as well. Generally trying to do anything with systemD is a long fight that only makes configuration/admin longer, and generally assumes it knows better than me (which is deeply irritating). Great if I bill by the hour, but otherwise a waste of life and nerves.

We live so fast I can't even finish this sent...

Ogi
Coat

Re: >>>However, I think you might be missing the point<<<

> are the thumbs up from people supporting your point - or nominating themselves ?

Yes

The Register disappears up its own fundament with a Y2K prank to make a BOFH's grinchy heart swell with pride

Ogi
Mushroom

There is a chain going back generations, an unspoken bond that keeps us all on the path forward.

Always there are two - A master and an apprentice.

(As we are going for misquotes). Also, happy new year all! See you on the other side! Icon... cos big fireworks :-D

No Motorola Razr comeback orders in 2019: Costly foldy nostalgia mobe pulled back

Ogi

I don't know. A few years ago if you told me a "bog standard phone" was $500, I would have thought you mental. That was a price for the top end stuff, and usually not worth the money unless you really just wanted to show off.

Funny how things change. For my part, I still consider spending more than $250 a phone mad, but I admit it is hard to find anything decent below that price point anymore.

Google goes full Anti-Flash-ist, boots Adobe's insecure monstrosity out of web search index

Ogi

I concur, one of my fave games (and first flash game I really got into) was a ninja game by Metanet called "N" which I played while at school (so early/mid 2000's).

Out of Nostalgia I had a search online, and looks like it still exists (http://www.thewayoftheninja.org/n.html), its still being developed, and they have ported it to other platforms.

However it did get me thinking about other flash games I enjoyed, that might have been abandoned, or the developers don't have the funds to port it from Flash.

We may well end up having a re-run of the old "Abandonware" DOS/Arcade games situation. They became playable again by the effort in creating open source DOS/Arcade emulators.

I guess one good thing with Adobe halting further development of the flash technology is that it will give some time for the open source flash developers to catch up with the reverse engineering. Eventually we might have an online archive of SWF games you can play on an open source fully compatible flash player.

Boffins blow hot and cold over li-ion battery that can cut leccy car recharging to '10 mins'

Ogi

Re: "simple but elegant"

> The UK (and other countries) has plans to block sales of fossil-fuel-based cars which could well further dis-enfranchise poorer families who don't have the means to change to EVs. The governments argument against this would be "use public transport" but I often find that method of travel completely impractical*.

One of the elephants in the room, which nobody wants to mention, is that the UK (and general "western") poor are most likely going to be dis-enfranchised when it comes to mobility. The western poor live better than the middle class in a good chunk of the rest of the world, with energy consumption (and emissions output) to match.

Specifically, the mass personal transport boom of the last 50 or so years was an aberration due to very cheap fuel (due to build out of supply infrastructure for the war effort), and a surplus of ICE vehicles (and mechanics) from the end of WWII.

Curbing emissions can't be done by bringing the entire world to western middle class standards of luxury living. Rather I think its more likely to see the middle class vanish into the upper and lower classes. Owning a car (especially an ICE car), will most likely be a luxury item, back how cars were originally if you think about it.

Those too poor to have personal transportation, will have to live near to their place of work (or near to public transport). So I imagine ultra dense urban environments for the masses, with public transport/bicycles for mobility, while the countryside becomes the playground for the well off.

I think the future in the west will look more like China did 10 to 20 years ago. A few rich people and politicians in personal vehicles, the rest on (electric)bicycles, public transport or taxis of some kind.

I guess politicians don't mention it much, because "Vote for me and to curb climate change, I will tax you until you can't afford long range personal transportation, and will have to live packed like sardines in a city" is not much of a vote winner. Indeed, the initial spark of the French Yellow Vest protest was due to a fuel tax increase "to combat climate change".

The eagle has handed.... scientists a serious text message bill after flying through Iran, Pakistan

Ogi

Re: Global roaming charges are evil

I am aware, my post was more thinking of a way to prevent this happening in future.

You can't pre-plan every eventually in life, and this was one thing they didn't take into account happening until now. I presume the next version of the tracker will be even more refined to avoid these scenarios.

It is nice that they didn't have to pay the costs in the end though, a nice ending.

Ogi
Thumb Up

Re: Global roaming charges are evil

> So, fancy that the eagle did not know about global roaming charges! They needed a multi-sim transmitter.

It might be easier (and cheaper) to just add a bit of logic to the GPS tracking devices, to only send SMS when within certain GPS co-ordinates.

I mean, they have all they need already: Map of all the regions, along with knowledge of which regions have high roaming costs. The trackers already have the GPS based location hardware, the cell transceiver, and a CPU to control it all.

Just add some logic to check the GPS location against a whitelist of regions with acceptable roaming costs before sending a SMS. If the GPS location puts the tracker outside of the whitelist, have it hold off sending any text messages until it reaches an acceptable region for costs.

We're late and we're unreliable but we won't invalidate your warranty: We're engineers!

Ogi

Re: I need an electrician

> If the OP was competent enough to wire up the door handle without electrocuting himself in the process, he wouldn’t need an electrician.

Unfortunately not true in the UK (at least in the last decade or so). You must have work done by a "certified electrician", even if you don't need them. Otherwise insurance companies will not insure your home. It would also complicate selling the house, because buyers nowadays want invoices and proof that any work on the property was certified, otherwise they use it as an excuse to push the price down.

Case in point was my parents house. My father (and his father) were electrical engineers, specialists in power electronics. They traveled the world installing, wiring (and sometimes rewinding) MW class generators and industrial motors, while also wiring up kV power transformation and distribution systems, mostly for hydro power stations.

Yet when it came to wiring up the new kitchen, my dad was forbidden from doing it, because he wasn't a "certified electrician". So we had to pay an electrician to wire up six spot lights, power sockets and the cooker to the mains. Needless to say my dad just followed the guy round telling him exactly how he wanted everything done, but it was still irritating having to pay someone to do a job you knew exactly how to do yourself.

While on the other hand, at a previous rental I lived in, the "certified electrician", managed to miswire the live and earth, meaning all the copper pipes in the bathroom were live. I got electrocuted a few times before I stuck a voltmeter to the pipes, and showed a photo to the landlord with 70V shown on the voltmeter display.

The only reason the full 240v didn't go through the pipes was because there most of it was still draining via a (rapidly corroding) earth spike, but it was enough to give me some nasty shocks when I would touch the taps.

UK tech freelancer numbers down for first time in 5 years since IR35 tax reforms hit public sector

Ogi

> The 3 months is irrelevant. Length of service is not an indicator of employment status; never has been and this has been confirmed in multiple tribunals.

That may be so, but it does not change the fact that companies don't want to offer long term contracts anymore. Whether they are right in thinking this will shield them or not doesn't really matter to me, the result is the same. Their legal team advised them that avoiding >6 month contracts is prudent for a single contractor, so they do. The result is short contract lengths, with refusal to go beyond 6 months.

I've had a few such contract offers in the last year, all over the country, its just that for me, relocating every 3 to 6 months is a bit too much. 1 to 5 years is ok, but shorter than that and I am basically living out of a suitcase all the time.

> Yes, post April, the client / engager will be making the determination AND taking the responsibility if they get it wrong.

And if they get it wrong, HMRC can come down on them like a ton of bricks, including full audits of their books, spooking of their clients in turn (if a company you are working with is being audited by HMRC, it has a negative effect on their reputation, and can make you worry that you will be dragged in too, so cut your losses ASAP and distance yourself), and (if its a big company), possibly hitting the news.

It is unsurprising that companies no longer want to bother with contractors. Companies are generally risk averse, especially if it can affect profits. Being made liable for determining whether a subcontractor qualifies or not (depending on what HMRC decides), means they will go as far to the side of "caution" as possible. If that means no longer hiring subcontractors, only doing B2B contracts with umbrella corporations, or just offering perm roles, then they will do it.

Ogi

Re: Simply disjointed...

Well, depends on what your skills are. I found that my rates were roughly 1:1 with the UK. So for example, if I earned £600 a day in the UK, I would earn around €600 a day in the EU.

In order to keep things simple for me, I kept my UK ltd company and was paid in the UK, so I still paid UK corporate taxes (and had to deal with HMRC), however as director I could put my tax residence outside the UK, which means my income and dividend tax were different (if its lower or higher depends on where you declare your tax residence in the EU).

However, Brexit threw a spanner in the works for me (as I am only an EU citizen via my British citizenship).

As a permie, I would be grandfathered in after Brexit, but as a contractor, at next contract renewal (in my case, every 3 months), I would be classed as a "non-EU entity" with a non-EU employee, which would be more of a regulatory headache to work through (especially if ends up being a hard Brexit, because then things like GDPR and IP protection have to be contractually specified, increasing legal and regulatory burdens).

If on the other hand, you will remain an EU citizen despite Brexit, then the above should not be a concern, and if your clients don't want to deal with a "non-EU" entity you can just open a company somewhere in the EU and carry on as normal.

Ogi

"If you are an employee of a Ltd company who sits next to a PAYE person, you might be a deemed employee, you might not be. That has NOT changed and will not change in April. What IS changing, is who makes that determination."

To me it seems the client/company that hires you can be held liable. Or at least the companies think so. More and more clients say they are unsure of whether they would be held liable for "disguised employment", and would rather just avoid the issue by not hiring contractors for more than 3 months at a time, if at all.

Indeed after a few years contracting, I have switched to a permie role, primarily because my current client offered me a perm role, as they were unwilling to renew my contract for 2020 due to the changes (well, either I take the perm role, or a 3 month contract renewal and then I go elsewhere).

I have noticed contract work drying up over the last year or so, many companies are only offering perm roles, or basic 3 month contracts (with option for one extra 3 month renewal). Quite a few have stopped looking for contractors at all, or insist they hire you through an umbrella corporation, who take their own cut of your rates (one wanted 25% of my day rate just to act as the "middle man", to shield the client from liability).

If the attempt of this legislation was to force people into permanent roles, it did a bang up job.

Before, the headaches of dealing with HMRC, hiring accountants, dealing with delayed payments from clients (sometimes for months), and having to involve lawyers quite often in your business life, was worth it for the work/life flexibility and extra income you could earn as a contractor.

However, with the new legislation, it seems not only do you have to deal with the above, but you may well end up paying as much in taxes as a permie, but with none of the protections or benefits offered (how many permies have to go 3+ months without getting paid, or have clients go bust and never pay you at all, or can get laid off with immediate effect for whatever reason their employer wants).

Then there is the fact you will no longer get contracts to work on 1 to 5 year projects, so you have to constantly move around between clients every 3 to 6 months, which means the moment you get a contract, you have to start immediately looking for others, so that after 3 months you have an alternative.

It seems the days of getting a 12 month contract, working hard, getting paid, then taking 6 months off to relax, look for another contract, relocate if necessary (it usually is in my experience), and work some more are finishing, which is a shame. I do find a permie role somewhat stifling, but for the moment that seems to be the way things are heading in the UK.

Saying that, I am not shown on the numbers in the article, primarily because my current employer has allowed me to keep my ltd company and do other contract work on the side, but without it being my main income stream, the costs of accountants and dealing with HMRC is making me consider shutting the company down, and just going sole-trader for the odd side work.

Junior minister says gov.UK considering facial recognition to verify age of p0rn-watchers

Ogi

Re: Umm - yet another poorly thought out idea

What about people who don't have a monkey? Will they still be able to spank the monkey?

Yes, they can borrow someone elses monkey for spanking (with their consent, of course)

I discovered the world's last video rental kiosk and it would make a great spaceship

Ogi

Re: Love Film?

Also forgot to mention the headache of getting a scratched DVD, polishing it, hoping it won't skip, then giving up, accepting the "movie night" you were looking forward to won't happen, then returning it to try to get a refund, or another DVD instead.

Even worse if, once you bring it to them and complain its scratched, they claim you were the one who scratched it, and refuse the refund.

Tapes, by virtue of being enclosed in a case, were far better for the video rental model. Their downside was the wear due to repeat plays. DVDs didn't have that problem, but being without a case were far more fragile when being handled.

I don't miss video rental, even though I still remember my old video rental store customer ID number (despite it being about 20 years since they went out of business, primarily due to a blockbusters chain opening nearby). Having to wait for someone to return a new/popular film because they only had 2 copies, to the aforementioned damage on DVDs, to forgetting to return it on the day and getting fined, etc... Things are better now.

Ogi

Re: Love Film?

> I'd always assumed the demise of video rental shops was down to postal services like Love Film.

I always thought it was due to rampent piracy. When CSS was cracked DVDs could be ripped easily. So people could "rent, rip and return". This resulted in a short term boost for the rental companies.

Thing is, while the internet was (relatively) slow back then, CD-burners were pretty common, and DivX came out, allowing you to recompress a DVD so that it fits on a CD. "DivX CDs" became a thing, which you could get cheaply (if you didn't have the ability to do it yourself).

I remember some DVD players (usually Chinese) who could play DivX CDs (and would advertise as such). So once the initial DVD was rented and ripped, it would then be copied from CD to CD without quality loss, reducing demand for the original.

For many people, the choice between renting a DVD for £4 a night vs buying the DivX CD for 50p to £1 was a no brainer (assuming they paid at all). Those with money and who wanted the full quality (or didn't want to wait for it to first hit the video rental store) would just buy the original DVD.

As a result the rental modal stopped being profitable, and things only got worse as internet speeds picked up (along with P2P traffic).

HP to hike upfront price of printer hardware as ink biz growth runs dry

Ogi

Indeed, although when I had a HP printer, even the third party ink manufacturers would provide me with a pre-paid envelope to return my used ink cartridges to them.

This is because, unlike most other printer manufacturers, the HP ink cartridges actually had the print heads built into them. This is one of the reasons HPs never had persistent "clogged head" problems due to lack of use like others (e.g. Epson) did. If due to 6 months of no use the head was clogged beyond repair, on a HP you just bought new cartridges and you're good to go.

I suspect the third party providers, not having the technology to manufacture their own integrated print heads in a cartridge, would clean the used ink cartridges, refill them and resell, so they had as much incentive as HP (if not more) to get your used cartridges back.

When I switched to Epson the third party providers never bothered with the pre-paid return envelope, as those were just moulded plastic containers. Likewise, original Epson ink cartridges didn't bother with a pre-paid return envelope either, instructing me to just pop the used cartridges in recycling.

So I suspect HP did it less for the environment, and more to remove a source of refillable ink cartridges from third parties.

The large number of "third party" ink cartridges in landfills that HP allude to is probably because after a few refills, the print heads become too worn to be usable (the print heads were not designed to last much longer than one cartridge lifetime, being in essence disposable), and the cartridges are discarded. Original HP cartridges still have print heads with life in them, so they are refilled and re-branded. Hence you rarely see "HP branded" cartridges in a landfill.

Microsoft has made an Android phone. Repeat, Microsoft has made an Android phone. A dual-screen foldable mobe not due until late 2020

Ogi

Re: 2 things MS have never understood

> Their keyboards used to be nice, next desk over swears by the weird split in the middle ergonomic thing

Yeah they were ok. However they were just re-branded Logitech devices. Nothing Microsoft about it, except their logo printed on the device.

I liked the split keyboard, but I found that once I got used to it, I could not really type on normal keyboards, which made using laptops a pain. So I switched back to the normal keyboard layout and just accepted poorer ergonomics in return for consistency and standardisation.

Are you a Nim-by? C-ish language, gentler than Go, friendlier than Rust, reaches version 1.0

Ogi

> that would be why there are ':'s terminating the if and else thingies?

It seems to be a common misconception (mostly by the fresher Python converts), that Python only works with new line termination, and that is the only right and true way.

I guess a little known fact, Python does in fact support semicolon termination. Try it yourself with this one liner (On a *nix):

python3 -c "from os import system; system(' echo hello, world'); raise(SystemExit(0))"

I have used it quite a few times to send one liners through a simple SSH command. It has been a feature since 2.0 at least (AFAIR).

In the end, holy wars are only for the fanatics. I've used a slew of languages depending on the use case. They are like tools in a toolbox, each has their strengths and weaknesses.

Ogi

Re: Unpopular opinion

> It's just plain annoying though, when a program falls over just over the matter of a couple of lines out by or in by one space.

Trust me, its far worse when the program doesn't fall over due to incorrect indentation. Rather it is syntactically and logically valid (if incorrect), and so carries on running fine, while the output is valid, but wrong, causing all kinds of hell trying to work out where the problem is.

I would rather it bombs out, at least the traceback gives you a line number as a hint and the problem.

(Python programmer for > 15 years, and yes, I've come across the above bug depressingly often. A real PITA to debug when you got 350k lines of Python written by others, and no versioning history).

Tesco parking app hauled offline after exposing 10s of millions of Automatic Number Plate Recognition images

Ogi

> There are plenty of sites where you enter the registration number and it produces a list of those characteristics,

Yeah, including the DVLA website itself. I sometimes go there and put in the registration plates of cars I see on old TV shows to see what model they were, which are still on the road and which have been scrapped.

It will tell you quite a bit. I would say approx the first 14 lines on the V5 vehicle details column, including the make, model and colour of the car.

More than enough to get fake plates made up for a vehicle that you want to clone. You do however need to have a legitimate number plate before you get the data, which is where these ANPR photos would come in useful.

Divert the power to the shields. 'I'm givin' her all she's got, Captain!'

Ogi

Re: chillers

> On an associated note, whilst I'm all for electric cars, I do worry what'll happen when the first load have dodgy enough batteries to catch fire whilst charging overnight. Because that fire is going to take a while to stop!

Its already a thing. Loads of reports about EVs catching fire (usually while charging, but sometimes just randomly). In those cases the fire departments can't do anything except clear the area around the fire and wait for the lithium to burn itself out (i.e. containment). Its a bigger problem if it happens in an enclosed space (like a garage) as lithium fires burn hot, and can destroy the structure around it.

> That's why I think Lithium UPSs aren't a great idea.

I don't think they are a great idea either, for the same reasons mentioned for BEVs above.

Difference is a UPS does not need to be very mobile, so the higher energy storage to weight ratio of Lithium-ion is not a requirement (it is a requirement for BEVs, to make them even barely practical), but you get all the downsides of using Li-Ion, with the added difficulty of trying to contain said fire in a particular room of a building. It would not surprise me to find out that having large lithium batteries may require specific health and safety assessments of the building and room.

GitHub builds wall round private repos, makes devs in US-sanctioned countries pay for it

Ogi

Re: Why make things complicated?

Or even one of the other such systems. I personally use "gitea" for my personal repos, which I am very happy with.

The only problem for public repos (and indeed the only reason I use github) is the issue of account management and logins.

It is a pain to convince people to sign up to yet another online service, create account, passwords, etc... and manage it. Github at least has the benefit of the network effect (i.e. most people already have an account), so it is easy to put a public repo there and have people contribute.

If you run your own public git repo, anyone who wants to contribute has to create an account on your server, and on the server of everyone else they want to contribute to, and vice versa. It rapidly becomes a headache.

There were attempts to get this sorted out (OAuth is the one that comes to mind now), but nothing ever really succeeded. That is where these centralised repos make more sense. However with centralisation you get issues of control like this, where they can pull the rug from you at a moments notice.

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