* Posts by davcefai

205 posts • joined 21 May 2007


Makers of ad blockers and browser privacy extensions fear the end is near


Freedom of choice

As somebody commented above, Chrome came from nowhere to become what it is today.

I think the problem is that a lot, if not most, users haven't a clue about how they are accessing the web. If I tell somebody to close the browser I get a blank look. "What's a browser?"

That icon on screen is "The Internet"

Last week I ran Firefox on a new laptop. I found the browser to be almost unusable with all the ads popping up. Some Youtube videos showed TWO ads before the content I wanted. The sad thing is that people don't even know that they can block ads.

So they are free to choose a browser with ad blockers but don't know that they can do so. I personally have given up trying to convert them to useing something sensible,

and taking the trouble to install it.

Is there a good messiah out there?

IT outage at Scotland's Heriot-Watt University enters second week


Heriot-Watt, my old Alma Mater, was initially a brewing school which evolved through Polytechnic to University. Following the demise of Birmingham University Brewing School (or dept, I forget which) HW is teaching just about all the British brewers.

My point is, don't these bastards drink beer?

Volcano 'shredded' submarine cable, vastly complicating repair job


Translation anybody?

I'm sure that "Hunga Tonga–Hunga Haʻapai " means something. Is there anybody here who can translate? (Google didn't manage)

AI really can't copyright the art it generates – US officials


Re: Who gets paid?

This could be a scheme to get the AI paid. Then thew owner gets the funds. I don't know how the American tax system would handle this (in fact any tax system) but the end result could be a tax reduction.

Just thinking aloud.

Google's Chrome OS Flex could revive old PCs, Macs


I wonder how well I would sleep if I knew that I had deliberately installed a spyware, trackware, adware operating system?

Mind you, I would have to have drunk a lot more than I ever have to have done so :-)

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


Re: I swear it was unintentional...

I was once told that when Esso renamed themselves to Exxon they were very careful to check the name in every language they could find.

It turns out that only Maltese has double x's so if one names a product with a double x in the name they only need to check one language.

Mind you, while "Exxon" is safe, a lot of the more vigorous words usuitable for Aunt Enid's parlour sport double x's.

Another Debian dust-up with Firefox dependencies – but there is an annoying and awkward workaround


I may be missing something but this looks remarkably like a storm in a teacup. I run Devuan unstable. While agreeing that it is usually best to use the distro's packaged software. However "rules" are only there to be broken. In my case I believe that Firefox is best installed from mozilla.org.

The process is incredibly complicated:

1. From Help - About Firefox see if there are updates.

2. If yes, download, in my case, to /opt/downloads/firefox

3. Unpack the files to (in most cases) /usr/local.

4. Umm...Er..There is no 4!

Firefox ESR tends to fail at critical moments. I used to use it on my wife and grandson's PCs but frankly it's more trouble than it saves.

Munich mk2? Germany's Schleswig-Holstein plans to switch 25,000 PCs to LibreOffice


Re: Munich

Not so imbecilic. I suffered for years asking my bosses "Have you seen so and so's last email?"

"Not yet, my secretary hasn't printed today's lot yet."


FWIIW these are reasons I have found why the switch may not work.

1. Tepid support from above.

2. Senior people saying "I'm too important to use free software."

3. And this may be the worst one: The expectation that openoffice and MSoffice can coexist indefinitely. They can't.

Solutions are obvious.

In the '80s, spaceflight sim Elite was nothing short of magic. The annotated source code shows how it was done


Re: Definitely never ever sat up...

I'm impressed. On the Spectrum version I couldn't even work out what was going on with copy protection. Worked around it using that addon- I forget the name - that took a snapshot of the RAM.

Chocolate beer barred from sale after child mistakes it for chocolate milk


Beer Definition

Apart from the Yuck factor these drinks may not legally be called "Beer", at least in civilised countries.

Happy 60th, Sinclair Radionics: We'll remember you for your revolutionary calculators and crap watches



At school in 1964 I helped the science teacher to build a stereo system around a BBC studio Tape Deck and a Sinclair set of apmlifier, preamp and speakers.

The sound from the Sinclair kit was, for those days, astounding. The Rector suspected that we had spent well over our budget!

When I got to Edinburgh in 1973 the first thing I bought was a Sinclair Cambridge calculator. They were so new that at examination time the Heriot Watt University Senate ruled that while Slide Rules were OK we could not use calculators in our exams as they would give their owners an unfair advantage. Only 2 out of 14 in the course owned a calculator.

Systemd 249 release candidate includes better support for immutable OSes and provisioning images


Re: Thinks I like about systemd

Just change the patch cable.

And dump Systemd while you're at it.

I never had to tinker with my systems as mush as I had to in the 3 months before I first reverted to init and then moved to Devuan.

Systemd makes MS Windows look good!

Pakistan's Punjab province tells citizens to get jabbed or have their SIM card blocked


I would consider that refusal to be vaccinated constitutes "reckless endangerment" to others and there are already mechanisms for coping with this.

There is compulsory vaccination for children.

So come down on these refusniks with the full force of the law and make the world safer for sensible people.

Chinese rocket plunges into Indian Ocean, still lands sharp rebuke from NASA


Re: I love watching heavenly bodies...

Rendevous with Rama.

Someone tried to poison a Florida city by hijacking its water treatment plant via TeamViewer, says sheriff


Strangely, the hack is described in terms of ppm of Caustic Soda. Dosing is usually via a dosing pump (variable speed and stroke) and would be set by adjusting a pH target. It is not possible to dose Caustic Soda directly - it consists of very hygroscopic pearls or flakes.

It is probably possible to set up such a system to work with ppm, by calculating ppm from the water flow rare and the dosig rate but who on earth would bother? !!

In any sanely engineered system you would set the target pH ( usually 7.4 to 7.8) and let the pump and pH meter sort things out. That's maybe 10 lines of code. Then you add another 100 or so to cope with all the error conditions you can think up but essentially if pH drops below 7 or rises above 8 the plant should stop and raise an alarm. The operator should not be able to set insane dosing values.

I've done, or had done for me, several such mini plants dosing caustic, acid or sodium hypochlorite.

Forget the plant security, Windows or Team Viewer. The adjustment should simply not have been possible.

Curse of Arecibo strikes again: Now another cable breaks, smashes into America's largest radio telescope


What caused it?

Did somebody say "Lowest Bidder"? :-)

Alternatively it may be the effect of 5G radiation.

Please, tell us more about how just 60 hydrogen-powered 5G drones could make 400,000 UK base stations redundant



Does this mean that the coronavirus particles will have more waves to ride down on?

Linux 5.10 to make Year 2038 problem the Year 2486 problem


Today XFS, tomorrow the world.

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


Yes, but UPSs have always had their own rules.

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



As usual Linus makes a lot of sense. However the lack of colour in the reply makes it a little disappointing :-)

Not going Huawei just yet: UK ministers reportedly rethinking pledge to kick Chinese firm out of telco networks by 2023


Re: shambles.gov.uk/2020-05-27#huawei

This reminds me of the Falklands war. The UK did not have a suitable rocket so it bought Exocets from France. (I think there may have been British investment there too). The Argentinians also bought Exocets. Some people made/saved lots of money by "outsourcing" vital industries. Others were killed by the consequences.

At least at the moment we can choose Chinese or American kit. The Americans can probably not compete on the current playing field want want to be sole suppliers to the world.

Microsoft doc formats are the bane of office suites on Linux, SoftMaker's Office 2021 beta may have a solution


Re: Trust Office

I used to _love_ sending emails "Please resend in a more acceptable format" to a company that adopted every new iteration of MS Office the day it was released.

Our company was, OTOH, very slow at adopting the new versions.

From attacked engineers to a crypto-loving preacher with a questionable CV: Yep, it's still very much 5G silly season


It can get worse!

Malta has a growing anti-5G movement. Big to-do with photos of new masts. The sad thing is:

1. There are no 5G masts yet in Malta.

2. None of the providers have even applied for a licence yet.

Never underestimate the power of stupidity. Remember that "MRI" was initially called "NMR" - Nuclear Magnetic Resonance- but people were frightened of the "Nuclear" bit.

Linux clockpocalypse in 2038 is looming and there's no 'serious plan'


Re: Too late!

HP95 palmtop.

RIP Freeman Dyson: The super-boffin who applied his mathematical brain to nuclear magic, quantum physics, space travel, and more



Please don't forget the concept of the Dyson Sphere and the Ringworld which has given so many of us so many hours of fun and fascination.

At last, the fix no one asked for: Portable home directories merged into systemd


Re: Finally!

Did you still need an incentive? When systemd was released on us, I felt that I was back in the Windows days! And it looks like it can only get worse. Why can't Poettering go away and write his own OS, leaving us to the stability we worked so hard to achieve?

Linux 5.3 kernel bundles new, cuddlier, swear-free Torvalds with AMD Radeon Navi graphics support



I remember when he was foisting pulseaudio on us. His standard reply to bug reports was that it would get better soon. Frankly I cannot understand how Poettering has been allowed to screw up Linux with systemd. It goes against the basic philosophy of ONE tool doing ONE thing very well.

Which is why I dropped Debian for Devuan.

That lithium-ion battery in your phone or car? It has just won three chemists the Nobel Prize


Re: Exploiting science

That's a bit of a leap. Do we know that he would rather have retired? I know of hale and hearty people who retired and then rapidly went downwards.

The mod firing squad: Stack Exchange embroiled in 'he said, she said, they said' row


Re: Is this just an English thing ?

Is it a British English thing or is it a US "English" thing?

Another rewrite for 737 Max software as cosmic bit-flipping tests glitch out systems – report


Reckless Endangerment

Isn't this cockup a candidate for a prosecution for reckless endangerment?

And we're back live with the state of the smartphone market in 2019. Any hope? Yeah, nah


What bothers me is the tacit assumption that WE MUST HAVE GROWTH. Surely any industry must realise that there is a limit to growth.

Profits cannot keep soaring. Isn't it time to plan for a "flat line" economy?

He's coming home, he's coming... Hutchins' coming home: British Wannacry killer held in US on malware dev rap set free by judge


Re: Excellent news, my best wishes for his future BUT...

It may well depend on the judge/jury you get but personally I would be biased against somebody who has contributed so much to overpopulation.

Rise of the Machines hair-raiser: The day IBM's Dot Matrix turned



Lusers are lusers everywhere. A few years ago we were building a new production facility. When it came to cladding the front we had to close off the road leading to the Marketing Dept. So we assigned new parking spaces, dotted the area with "Keep Out" posters and we posted maps and instructions on how to walk to Marketing via a different route

Next day 4 girls from Marketing - cookie cut types with long straight hair and sub-par IQs - came to complain that they had torn their tights climbing over the barriers in the road.

Ex-Microsoft dev used test account to swipe $10m in tech giant's own store credits, live life of luxury, Feds allege



"Microsoft's online store uses a form of device fingerprinting called a Fuzzy Device ID. Investigators, it's claimed, linked a specific device identifier to accounts associated with Kvashuk."

So they spy on you even from the store. Isn't this a breach of privacy?

Boffins find asteroid with the shortest solar year of any space rock in our Solar System


Ah, the old days/

“You don't find kilometre-size asteroids very often these days,"

They don't make them like they used to.

'Bulls%^t! Complete bull$h*t!' Reset the clock on the last time woke Linus Torvalds exploded at a Linux kernel dev

Thumb Up

Linus is the man who keeps the project going. A brilliant coder but also a brilliant cat-herder. What other OS progressed as fast and as well as Linux?

So he gets pissed off at some people. So what? His system(s) work and the OS keeps going strong.

Linus doesn't need to write code. He does need to manage it. And he does, in a way most managers can envy.

Mr Torvalds, in case you get to read this, consider your hand shaken.

WikiLeaks boss Assange acted as a foreign spy, Uncle Sam exclaims in fresh rap sheet


Assange's REAL 'crime' is embarrassing politicians. Personally I love watching politicians squirm.

I believe a few years ago he was a hero. Irrespective of any personal habits or characteristics he has done the world a favour.

Apple hardware priced so high that no one wants to buy it? It's 1983 all over again


As a potential customer - the software package they were selling on it was pretty good - the last 2 words were probably thought but never uttered.

Funny how suppliers don't like to risk offending customers!


The Lisa had a wonderful bug. It was said that you could drop the computer icon into the wastebasket, requiring a hard reset.

I tried this during an exhibition but found my wrist firmly clamped by the demonstrator who said something like "Oh no you don't......sir."

Python joins movement to dump 'offensive' master, slave terms


Upset a different bunch of people.

How about "Dom" and "Sub"?

make all relocate... Linux kernel dev summit shifts to Scotland – to fit Torvald's holiday plans


He's done a fantastic job, so why not?

However I confess to feeling uneasy about when he retires. OTOH I'm much older than he is so I'll be past caring. I just hope that Poettering doesn't complete the job of destroying Linux.

It may be poor man's Photoshop, but GIMP casts a Long Shadow with latest update


Re: Forget the geeky stuff, sort out the user experience.

The UI used to be "one of a kind" where you could spend more time looking for a function than using it. The default UI is now much more conventional. Frankly I was not aware that there is another one and will spend some time trying to find it.

After PSP went past v9 GIMP became my default photo app, especially as I could then use it on both Windows (at work) and Linux (at home).

Meet the real spin doctors: Scientists tell H2O to chill out so they can separate isomers


I suspect that this only holds true at the very low temperatures quoted in the article as the hydrogen atoms should be able to rotate freely as soon as some energy is available.

MY GOD, IT'S FULL OF CARS: SpaceX parks a Tesla in orbit (just don't mention the barge)


Re: Great Headline, Register

The short story was first. The book you describe is "The Lost Worlds of 2001". As far as I remember the screenplay and book were written together. Certainly the film is very faithful to the book.

And we return to Munich's migration back to Windows – it's going to cost what now?! €100m!


There is also a non-technical reason for this retrogressive step. One that I have experienced myself.

Some people consider themselves too important to use "free" (=, in their minds, "cheap") software.

Because of this what was going to be a well managed transition from MS Office to OpenOffice, with Sun's assistance, ended up in disaster. Incidentally, unless things have changed a lot since I retired, it is NOT feasible to run MS Office and Open or Libre Office together for any long time.

HMS Queen Elizabeth has sprung a leak and everyone's all a-tizzy


I've just looked at a link to the Sun. Sad to think how many trees died to supply this drivel.


Seals leak. Fact of life. Usually tightening (compressing the packing further) helps. Otherwise replace the packing. Big deal. The really bad case would be a roughness in the shaft - it would need re-machining. *That* would justify the fuss being made. I've had expert craftsmen have problems in getting packing exactly right and this was on shafts maybe 3" dia max.

Packing starts to leak *after* some use. That's probably one of the reasons the navy do sea trials. :-)

I can't call this a storm in a teacup because the ship is too big to fit in a teacup.

Lauri Love appeal: 'If he's dead, no victim's going to get anything'



One day, one hopes, the UK will stop being bullied by the US. (I am not a national of either country).

As I understand it the law about extraditions works in favour of the US. The Brits cannot get _their_ naughty boys back from the US.

Love is English, sat at his computer in England and was arrested in England. So if guilty he is guilty of an offence in England, not the land of the cholesterol-laden fast foods. Do we even know that the computers he hacked are physically located in the US?

Linus Torvalds 'sorry' for swearing, blames popularity of Linux itself


All is well, really.

Linus pioneered not only a new OS but also new ways of developing and distributing it.

"release early and often" was the mantra in the good old days. Users found the bugs and they were fixed - very quickly. If someone cannot cope with this they should wait to upgrade until other hardier souls, or people not running mission critical systems, found the bugs.

Linux has been a dynamic and vigorous ecosystem. Linus found exactly the right formula to manage it. If the genes that made this possible are linked to others like sweariness then "ce la vie". Deal with it. Don't try to put ridiculous code into the system, and just grin and say sorry if you inadvertently do so.

Which makes one wonder how in hell we got stuck with pulseaudio and systemd! :-)



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