* Posts by fred #257

78 publicly visible posts • joined 12 Jan 2010


Antique Nimrod subhunters scrapped – THANK GOODNESS!

fred #257

Air-based joke I think you mean

Peter Jackson's Sopwith Camels or whatever are probably more use anyway. Since the Guvmint mothballed the Shi... Skyhawks they've been trying to sell them, curiously nobody else seems to be interested in small old slow jet fighters with limited range and high airframe hours.

At least we do have some Orions which are much more useful for all sorts of things, not least finding lost yachts.

South African police hunt Twittering speedcam spy

fred #257


Oh, clever little you. Yes 330cl = 3.3 litres as you spotted.

But you know I rather think he meant 330ml. Probably, each. That's kind of the point of his story, you know?

Microsoft should starve on radical penguin diet

fred #257

If Microsoft embraced Linux....

I (as a Linux user) would be very, very afraid. It would be like being embraced by a 800-pound gorilla.

In the long and bloody saga of the rise of the MS empire I seem to recall the phrase 'Embrace, extend...' cropping up somewhere - what was the third word?

Thing is, Open Source is based on the idea of free competition and people building cooperatively on each others efforts. This is not a concept that leaps to mind when contemplating MS. It would be nice to be able to trust MS but their history militates against it.

Oh, they did support a 'Linux' company once though, IIRC. They bought a licence from SCO. :)

Oh yes - the third word? It was 'extinguish'.

Chaos surrounds New Zealand iPhone 4 day

fred #257

yeah but...

Vodafone's network is pretty limited in rural areas (where the sheep mostly live, at least the woolly sort). So I'd expect the market for a phone with dodgy reception (YES the news of the iphone's troubles has permeated down here) would be distinctly limited among the sheep-bothering fraternity.

New Zealand: Where Men are Men and sheep are nervous.

Mines the one with a very old Panasonic A200 in the pocket... no camera, not 'smart', all it does is phone calls and lasts forever on a battery charge...

iPad alert: Are you a selfish elite or an independent geek?

fred #257

I'm not complaining...

... this is probably the first, last and only time in my life I'll ever be called a 'super-geek' :)

It would be ungracious not to be flattered even if it's outrageously wannabe optimistic. Cool!

NZ government makes software 'unpatentable' (for now)

fred #257

I call Troll

... on pan2008.

Either that or he hasn't managed yet to figure out the difference between patents and copyright.

Doesn't seem to know the diff between 'selfish' and 'selfless', either.


Pirate Party storms out of uber-secret ACTA negotiations

fred #257
Black Helicopters

Whose conspiracy is it?

Contrary to what the Europhobes here seem to think, ACTA was started by the US and Japan. The list of culprits can be found on the Wikipedia page.

IMO it's a disgrace that *any* government should go near it. As to who's pushing it - the usual scum, I'd bet. Just think 'corporate greed'.

New Jersey car prang woman blames carjacking

fred #257
IT Angle

IT angle?

Oh, of course, the laptop.

I'm a bit slow on Mondays...

Cal Pol: Turn Jacko's ranch into state park

fred #257

Why I read El Reg....

... for the superior erudition and wit of its commentards!

Well done, that man!

Consumer Reports: 'We were wrong about the iPhone 4'

fred #257

Are you missing the point...

...deliberately? Montybank probably runs his Linux on a PC. The usual choices for a home computer are [Apple hardware + software] or [Windows on PC] or [Linux on PC]. It's a perfectly valid comparison he's making.

WTF yourself.

Blighty's stealth robojet rolls out a year late

fred #257

BAe is incredibly good....

... at publicity, if nothing else. Here in NZ it was all over the news last night, this incredible new British war-winning weapon of the future...

Not that BAe should be looking in this direction for an export sale. Anybody want to buy some well-used** mothballed Skyhawks?

** as in, 'high-mileage'. I don't think they ever shot anything.

Yorks cops charge Segway rider under 1835 road law

fred #257

Segway = pointless?

How much power does it use just balancing itself? To put it another way, how much better energy mileage would one get from a battery-powered bicycle that doesn't need computers and gyroscopes just to keep itself upright?

Hugh Hefner makes private offer to Playboy shareholders

fred #257

Once upon a time...

... it was indeed possible to say "I read it for the articles" and stand a small chance of being believed. Well, maybe one could optimistically imagine there was a chance of being believed.

I guess JS's analysis is right. That's a little sad, in a way.

Revealed: Government blows thousands on iPhone apps

fred #257

What's the point?

Changing spark plugs is either obvious (if your car is old enough) or damn near impossible without a fully equipped workshop (if it's new). And quite often specific to the particular car model so any generic instructions are pretty useless.

Changing a wheel now - why not just make up a one-page guide with little sketches and print it as a leaflet. And release it as a PDF so people can print their own if they like. Fold, place in glove box until needed. No need for expensive electronic iGimmickry.

There. Sorted. 39,500 quid saved. I'll take my share in beer, thanks.

'The internet's completely over', declares petulant Prince

fred #257

this is just too good.....

"Anyway, all these computers and digital gadgets are no good. They just fill your head with numbers and that cant be good for you."

A tinfoil hat ought to work.

(My keyboard could use one right about now...)

Computer grads can't even get jobs offering personal services

fred #257

Now that would indeed be a specialist skill...

"like hiring a Mech-Eng and expecting that they know how to change a cambelt on a 1972 Escort."

... since only about 300** 1972 Escorts ever had cambelts. The other quarter of a million had chain drive. ;)

** "... only around 1137 RS1600's were actually produced over the vehicles entire five year production span to the end of 1974." - http://www.avoclub.com/avosite/rs1600.html

Seoul police crack down on Holy Water filter prof

fred #257

Don't drink the water....

I read somewhere that, statistically, in a glass of water at least one of the molecules will have passed through the bladder of Oliver Cromwell. So presumably there must also be molecules in there that have experienced Caligula, Vlad the Impaler, Adolf Hitler and J Edgar Hoover.

On the whole, it's just as well the water doesn't remember, I should think. :)

Two infosec blunders that betrayed the Russian spy ring

fred #257


It's probably down to some internal struggle inside the FBI. "We need a distraction / 'success' right now, what have we got that we can use? What, just a few part-time amateurs? Ah well, one of them looks foxy, if we gussy it up enough it'll get a headline".

"Acting as an agent of a foreign power without registering" - that's pretty weak, isn't it? If they'd been the Russian cultural attache's deputy assistant researchers they'd have been untouchable.

Regular domains beat smut sites at hosting malware

fred #257
Paris Hilton

... and well-loved

I'd say that may be because probably most pornsites are actively maintained and constantly updated because it's their owners business.

By contrast, a lot of commerical sites owned by retailers or manufacturers are probably rarely visited by their owners, who are too busy selling shoes, or bathroom fittings, or package holidays, they've paid someone else to set up the site, and it only gets checked infrequently if ever.

And then there are hobby sites or blog sites or social where everyone + dog (usually amateurs in IT terms) can upload stuff.

Scotland Yard mulls Google Wi-Fi slurp

fred #257


... actually sued IBM and Chrysler initially, probably in the hope that those companies would buy SCO off. Classic nuisance-lawsuit tactics. The moment IBM decided to call their bluff, SCO were as good as dead. It's just taken them an awfully long time to die....

But you're right about its transient effect on their stock value. Shows just how much "the Market"'s judgement is worth. :)

(I wouldn't make any comparison between that case and the Google one, at all. Google isn't desperate for income to stay afloat).

fred #257

Micky has a point...

... even though he's overstated it to the point of (near) trolling.

To my mind, there's a risk that making a big brouhaha over Google's relatively minor infringement is just going to distract attention from the real menaces to privacy - like Phorm, or my ISP being coerced into monitoring everything I do by order of Big Brother, or a CCTV camera on every street watching me every time I walk past it. Compared with that, Google taking a happy snap of me or sniffing a few packets when they randomly happen to drive past, once a year, is really a red herring.

(This is assuming Google aren't systematically cross-referencing the data, and I really can't see how a few packets randomly obtained could be much use).

As far as the letter of the law on intercepting wireless communications goes, my Wifi is currently showing four networks, one of which is mine. So it's intercepted at least enough of the other three to show me their names. Is it breaking the law on my behalf? I'm curious to know.

Venus home to lost cities left by long-dead aliens, says ESA

fred #257

Life on Venus?

The temperature is a problem, I think, since most organic compounds break down at such temperatures. (BUT I'm not a chemist).

But the pressure is probably no worry, for a suitably evolved life form. Life exists at depths in our oceans under far greater pressure.

So, for life, the planet would need to have been a great deal cooler, but the atmospheric pressure could have been the same as now.

Mobile phone masts not such a menace

fred #257

'Teenagers' is right!

For people with an active social life, there's a definite correlation between phone use and disturbed sleep. It's most obviously manifested as drunken friends ringing you up. This factor is entirely absent in non-phone users.

In breaking news: Strong correlation between car use and motor accidents...

Garage card scammer jailed

fred #257


Just turn up with a van labelled, say, Oakwood Security Electronics (fictitious name I just made up, I hope), a couple of guys with white coats and a clipboard, and (even better) an order form for the garage attendant to sign, and a box of electronic gadgets, and the underpaid part-timer behind the desk isn't going to argue. And if they do, it's check the clipboard and "Oh, sorry mate, should have been the XXX garage down the road. See ya".

The Reg guide to Linux, part 2: Preparing to dual-boot

fred #257

Multi-boot and partitions

Re dual-boot, I've been dual and multi-booting on my home systems for years, with Grub. Sucessfully with Linuxen, which will happily run from anywhere, only partly with Windows, even when I let it have the first partition available.

I failed with Win98 on a used Thinkpad A20M, wouldn't resize (so I just hosed it and put Linux on it anyway). Succeeded with current R40 with XP, resized and put Debian Lenny on it. (Would I dual-boot a Windows box that had some vital stuff on it? No, I wouldn't *breathe* near a Windows box that had some vital stuff on it. Not without backing it up twice first.)

I also often multi-boot several Linux distros - just trying them out.

Partitions - I use one for Windows (if it's there), one for the OS, a spare or two for the OS, a swap, and one or more for 'data'. And I keep all my stuff in 'data'. That way, if I should screw up the OS, or I want to experiment or upgrade, my data isn't affected. I can just put the 'new' version of Linux in the spare OS partition, give GRUB an entry for it, use it for a few days, if it works OK then I carry on using it. This also makes adding new hard drives or retiring dodgy old ones quite easy. And my networked laptop can share the data very easily.

Getting Linux - I've never downloaded a distro (on a slow connection? Several GB's worth?) There are a number of excellent sellers on the Internet (maybe not Ebay:) who will supply Linux distros on CD/DVD for very cheap prices. Shop around. If you're cautious, I think it's possible to check the MD5 sums of the disks against the distros' websites (though I've never bothered).

Canadians form adulterers' privacy campaign

fred #257

Jeez what a judgemental sanctimonious bunch of bastards

If (as seems to be the case) she had HER OWN ACCOUNT then what right did Rogers have to lump it in with her husband's *without asking her*?

Would you all be happy if your telco did it to you? (And dropped you in the sh*t as a result?) Or maybe for example, just sent your wife/gf/bf a complete illustrated list of all the Internet sites you've been browsing recently?

As for her morals, you know nothing of them. Or her husband's. He might have been bonking half the female population - or not, we really have no information.

Lightning bolt smites 60ft Jesus statue

fred #257

Just shows...

... that God is a rotten shot. :)

(At last an entirely appropriate icon!)

Sun slips nips onto iPad

fred #257

Hey not bad!!

Not bad at all.

And kudos to El Reg for carrying the pic in all its Bulgarian glory while PaidContent:UK (the second link in your article) had to whack a blanket-sized black square right over the lass's frontage.

World Cup in your pocket: iPhone vuvuzelas

fred #257
Paris Hilton

So THAT's what a Vuvuzela is!

I thought it must be South American slang for [some favourite part of the female anatomy]. I'm so disappointed.

Paris, because....

Bangladesh cuts off Facebook

fred #257


I think you're tilting at windmills.

'Smallmind' says "My basic point is that I don't think Islam (replace with the religion of your own persuasion) really needs 'protecting' "

So he's arguing against censorship (by any religion) and you're getting stuck into him for intolerance? I suggest you choose your targets more carefully.

He believes his religion is the true one - well, golly gosh, you show me a religion that doesn't think that. (And if they don't, why would they bother with it?)

That's not really the problem, the problem is those religiosos (Muslims/Xtians/Hindus/Jews/atheists/etc ad infinitum) who are fanatical about it and want to impose their beliefs on everybody else. 'Smallmind' doesn't seem to be one of those, so tearing into him is quite unjusitfied and isn't going to help anybody.

(Btw I'm not a muslim, I'm an atheist. I'll go through the roof if somebody tries to tell me what to believe. Oh, and the world is full of people who think (by definition of their religion) that I'm going to go to hell. But then I 'know' I'm not. Nothing to pick a fight over.)

Alt rock diva's nude snap 'leaked' to tweetosphere

fred #257
IT Angle

and the IT angle is...?

Oh. Twitter. Right. Of course.

So what else is a computer good for anyway?

X-51 hypersonic scramjet test: Flameout at Mach 5?

fred #257

R.I.P. X-51A

"Something then occurred that caused the vehicle to lose acceleration. At that point, the X-51A was terminated as planned."

Sounds terribly... final. Was this a CIA project then?

'Being fat is no worse for you than being a woman'

fred #257
IT Angle

sounds delicious?

If my wife tried feeding me berries roots insects rodents and lizards I'd go out and kill something large and juicy, too

Copernicus reburied with full Catholic honours

fred #257

... the maths was horrible...

Under the previous 'Ptolemaic' earth-centred theory, the planets moved in bizarre looping orbits and the maths required to calculate astronomical tables (vital for navigation) was horribly complex.

Unfortunately for Copernicus' theory, and Galileo, sun-centred circular orbits offered no better fit to the data and the maths remained horrible. So Galileo had no way to prove that sun-centred orbits were any better.

IIRC it was Johannes Kepler, fiddling around with Tycho Brahe's accurate observations, who eventually came up with elliptical orbits and made the numbers fit. And Newton came up with a physical theory (gravity and the inverse-square law) that explained how it worked.

I think I need a beer after that

fred #257

Not so bad...

Not that I'm a Catholic sympathiser, but jeesh, bodies are *always* getting dug up, checked over and put back for one reason or another. It hardly counts as 'desecration'. (Or if it does, very few bodies escape it forever...)

Being checked over and honoured certainly beats being shifted because someone wants to put a road through the cemetery or turn it into a housing estate or whatever...

Oz customs search lappies and mobes for smut

fred #257

Nice one!

Or how about this as a variation...

Before you leave, copy about four passed-by-the-Aussie-censor porn movies onto your lappy. Then when you come back, declare 'em. The failed-parking-wardens will have to watch them all, all the way through, just to make sure you haven't cut any other bits into them. And what's more, they'll have to do it in parallel with the Aussie-censor-passed versions, just to make sure you haven't scored an uncut overseas original. Otherwise they're not doing their job, are they?

And you're bombproof 'cos the censor passed them.

Ooooh it's nice being evil....

William Shatner to star in Twitter-inspired TV show

fred #257


I thought of that just 5 milliseconds before I read your comment.

You owe me half a beer *and* a new keyboard!

UK border security ring-o-steel flagged 48,000 travellers

fred #257
Big Brother

Government security operating procedures explained:

Are there any queers in the audience tonight?

Get 'em up against the wall!

That one in the spotlight, he don't look right to me

Get him up against the wall!

That one looks Jewish... and that one's a coon!

Who let all this riff raff into the room?

There's one smoking a joint

And that one's got spots!

If I had my way, I'd have all of you shot!

(Acknowledgements to Pink Floyd)

Boffins warn on car computer security risk

fred #257

So would I...

Why is it that, as soon as they start to make things reasonably reliable, they have to start adding new useless gimmicks / 'safety features' that just represent more ways for the thing to break down?

I've push started / hill started / roll started cars with tired batteries literally hundreds of times. And driven 300 miles home on the battery (with a dead alternator) in daylight - you'd never make it with the headlights on (or, I suspect, with the drain of all the 'modern' electronic gadgetry). Even if the computer didn't sense something 'wrong' and stop the car dead.

I've just heard that running out of gas (which does no damage on an old car) will bugger the fuel pump on a new one unless you switch off quick because the pump relies on fuel flow to cool it...

It seems that old cars were just far more fault-tolerant than 'modern' cars are. There's a question I ask about all new gadgets, which is - "If it fails, does it leave you worse off than if it was never fitted?" If so, then it better have some stupendously huge advantages when it's working or I don't want it on my car.

NZ spider objects to Canadian's todger

fred #257

Not quite the only poisonous thing...

... we also have wasps (which are the usual b&^#* nuisance), bees (which aren't much bother), and centipedes (which are said to give a nasty bite, but you rarely see a big one and it's extremely rare to get bitten). Katipos are equally rare.

So, on the whole, not much worry.

Man sold EverythingEverywhere domain for 'nominal sum'

fred #257

At least they paid for it...

..as opposed to the usual corporate approach of "You have stolen our trademark. Hand it over or we'll sue you for a gazillion dollars!"

Physicist unmasks 99-year-old mistake in English dictionaries

fred #257

Right but irrelevant

Respectfully, I think you're hairsplitting. Most commentards here seem to be thinking of a siphon as a hosepipe, in which case the diameters of both legs are the same and hence pressure is proportional to weight and the quote you object to is actually correct. It's certainly the weight of liquid in the longer leg (all right, manifested as a reduction of pressure at the top of the siphon, if you insist) that does the work. But in the argument of gravity-vs-atmospheric pressure as a power source, your point is kinda irrelevant.

And it IS the 'weight' (i.e. gravitational force on the liquid) that 'powers' the siphon. You need external pressure (e.g. atmospheric) to keep it operating, but since that's equal at both ends of the tube then obviously it can't be providing the energy. In the case of 'suck-it-to-start' it's atmospheric pressure starts forcing the liquid up the tube, but even then the motive power is being supplied by the sucker, sucking. (And strictly speaking at that point you don't yet have a siphon operating).

The maximum height of a siphon is determined by (external pressure minus vapour pressure of the liquid)**. Which is why the height gets less as the siphon liquid gets hotter (you can't siphon boiling water), just as it gets less as atmospheric pressure decreases. The Victorians had all this sort of thing worked out to a high degree of precision, since they used steam power.

** And by the density of the liquid, before someone goes all pedantic on me.

(Beer, cos it's an interesting subject for experiments...)

Tory twit accused of touting shanghaied tot shots

fred #257

'potential arse' ?

You, sir, are a god.

And you owe me a new keyboard.

Blokes spend 11 months in shed

fred #257

Another brilliant misleading headline...

I instantly thought "what the heck were they doing for 11 months in a shed?"

Trying to set some sort of Guinness record? Hiding from the authorities who for some reason couldn't cross the threshold? (Like the old law of sanctuary in churches). Building some project and they forgot what the time was?

The truth is so much more mundane...

(The icon is one thing sheds are good for....)

California's 'Zero Energy House' is actually massive fossil hog

fred #257

Hey I've got a Zero Energy car!

That's right, it uses NO net electricity. Anything it drains out of the battery to start its hot-cammed Weber-carburetted motor is promptly replaced by the generator when it bursts into fuel-slurping life.

Gosh I can feel so superior and green as I blast past those silly little electricity-guzzling battery cars...

SCO: jurors too busy Facebooking to rule on Unix claim

fred #257


They've got this 'overwhelming' case and yet they've managed to lose *every single time*. What does that say about their lawyers?

(But then, SCO lost the moment IBM decided not to buy them off for nuisance value)

It'll make a good book one day. If it comes out before I die of old age.

The iPad will doom humanity to painful bog-roll horror

fred #257
Thumb Up

You've just given me a brilliant idea...

... for a new, trendy product.

Themed toilet paper

- with a pic of the politician of your choice printed on every sheet.

I reckon Mandypaper would be the top seller in the range...

School secretly snapped 1000s of students at home

fred #257


Well that leaves the school wide open, doesn't it? NO WAY can they argue that use of the laptops was voluntary and implied acceptance of the terms and conditions.

If the parents' laywer is any damn good, that school board should be so toasted you could use them for charcoal.

IBM predicts reoffending rates for prisoners

fred #257
Big Brother

Only 3.4 million?

That is an entirely realistic and easily attainable figure, in the light of all the recent legislation that Nu Liebore has passed. Rest assured that You Will Be Found To Be Guilty of Something, citizen.

Death row inmate claims allergy to lethal injection

fred #257


You are assuming that the tards that are baying for blood would actually be reluctant to kill someone. Well, probably many of them are blowhards and wouldn't have the guts. And the others are presumably thugs who would happily kill someone if they could do it at no risk to themselves.

"Oh, and if the prisoner is found to be innocent post-mortem, you get to be told about it." You think, if they were happy to kill somebody in the first place, they'd actually care about a trivial detail like that? How about: "If the prisoner is found to be innocent post-mortem, you get executed yourself". Then they might be a bit less eager.