* Posts by Dick Head

50 posts • joined 22 Apr 2010

Why a detachable cabin probably won’t save your life in a plane crash

Dick Head

Looks as though it requires a high-wing aircraft configuration.

How many large jets do you see like that these days?

Are you the keymaster? Alternatives in a LogMeIn/LastPass universe

Dick Head

Newbie question

Is there any advantage to using an external password manager over the one which is delivered with the OS? I use OS X exclusively which has a built-in key chain manager, but I would assume Windows and Linux have something equivalent.

The Steve Jobs of supercomputers: We remember Seymour Cray

Dick Head

Not everyone loved the Crays.

I worked on a competitor's AP product in the early 1980's whose development was entirely funded by Shell in Houston. They didn't like having to run their geophysic runs at least twice to ensure no undetected errors got into the calculation. Our product was never widely successful in the long run but nobody really cared to much because the development costs were largely covered.

Daredevil Brit lifts off in 54-prop quinquaquadcopter

Dick Head

I'm really surprised...

...that the term 'Flying Bedstead' hasn't come up at some point.

Anyone interested in the original Rolls Royce model should look up "Rolls-Royce Thrust Measuring Rig" in Wikipedia. During my youth this was a much celebrated development.

Unisys cozies closer to Intel, 'sunsets' proprietary processor

Dick Head

Shame to see such an old hardware design disappear.

The Dorados of today are still (somewhat) machine code compatible with the Univac Scientific design for the USAF developed from 1959 and which was marketed commercially as the Univac 1107. I don't know of any older machine architecture which is still in use. There were several 1107s active in the UK, including one in the West Country which kept track of the RAF's spare parts, if I remember correctly.

For some years already software machine emulation under Intel has been fast enough to make the economics of the development of new hardware CPUs questionable. I wonder how long IBM will continue to build machines with 360 hardware architecture.

Ten classic electronic calculators from the 1970s and 1980s

Dick Head

Still have mine...

...TI Programmer LED from the early 1970's. Plus the LCD follow-on from around 1980. And finally the grail: the HP 16C from around 1984. I still use the 16C, and have two spares in case it ever goes tits-up.

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

Dick Head

Well at least...

…they didn't say, "You're holding it wrong."

SuperStride Me: Reg hack spends week working at 'treadmill desk'

Dick Head

Bad precedent.

Pretty soon our employers will be installing these with attached alternators so they can earn green funds from our labours.

Star Trek: The original computer game

Dick Head

Played it on a Univac 1110 4x4 computer sometime after 1972.

It was in Fortran. I spent many man-hours of work time turning it into a bootable Uniservo 16 tape so you could play it from the Uniscope 100 console while I was on nights.

I claim the biggest misuse of company money to implement Startrek. The official monthly rental for this configuration was over $200,000 per month.

Behold ATLAS, the fastest computer of 50 years ago

Dick Head

Visiting the punch room.

That was an experience which would make your day. Junior programmers in the 1960s were not encouraged to just drop into this paradise where dozens of nubile young ladies were typing away on their IBM 029s.

But sometimes you would be invited down by the woman of formidable aspect who guarded access to the room to clarify something you had written on one of your coding forms. Oh joy!

She was no fool, however. She noticed that my handwriting was steadily getting worse and after the third visit told me that I was disrupting their workflow and that in future the coding forms would be sent back and I would lose my place in the queue.

Another thing from the video: whatever happened to Stentophones? We used to have them everywhere in 1969 but I don't think I've seen one in 20 years.

Ten four-bay NAS boxes

Dick Head

Re: What I'd be looking for in such a thing

Yes the Synology is pretty good. I've had the 2-bay version for about a year and the interface and basic functions have got steadily better. Every time is log in (monthly or so) updates are available.

Unfortunately they still haven't fixed automatic backup of larger SD cards, but the 4-bay version doesn't seem to have an SD slot, judging from the photo. Also the wireless option has never worked for me, even when a supposedly supported wireless USB adapter is plugged in.

The support community is both active and helpful.

What a clockup! Apple's Swiss clock knock-off clocks up $21m fine

Dick Head

The odd thing about the swiss railway clocks...

...is not the design, which is very clean and distinctive. Instead the odd thing is the way they act when the second hand reaches the 12 o'clock mark.

See here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fGRJWl48b7w&feature=related

Apple makes Cocoa with Porridge

Dick Head

Great program...

(TV program, that is.) Was on shortly before I left the UK.

An episode, "A Quiet Night In," still sticks in my memory after 30+ years.

Basic instinct: how we used to code

Dick Head

Re: My first computer

Hey, me too! Except we didn't hae a card reader/punch, everything had to be self-punched on papaer tape. No Algol, either. Elliott Autocode and/or the assembler. Assembler was by far the most interesting.

Dick Head

If you subscribed to early issues of Byte ...

...you didn't have to type in your Basic programs. You could get a 'floppy ROM' which was an audio disk (ie: as in 45 rpm) which you could play on your record player and pipe the audio out to some a-to-d circuitry on your home computer. The ones and zeroes were different tones on the disk, but good luck getting your sister's Dansette to sync up to the software on your Altair 680.

I think I could still find a floppy ROM around the house, and somewhere I still have a business card wallet full of Exatron Stringy Floppies with a Forth interpreter and various other software for said Altair.

Tim Cook's post-PC iPad domination dream crushed by reality

Dick Head


What are they?

Actually, in our firm I can find 3 of them, one of which is for the receptionist. Apart from the servers locked away in the basement, the remaining inventory comprises about 500 laptops. Was the same with my previous company about 10 years ago.

Bloomin’ big: algae seen from space

Dick Head

You forgot the RSUs...

Register Standard Units: area about 0.96 Wales.

Brit student locked up for Facebook source code hack

This post has been deleted by a moderator

Mac demand helps Apple business bloom in Blighty

Dick Head

My experience is similar...

When I recently decided I wanted a PC on my desk instead of on my lap I bought a friend's old MacPro, with twin Xeon from 2006. Why would anyone who wasn't broke buy a 6 year-old desktop?

Well, it's possible that it will crap out next week and make me look even stupider than usual, but in that case I don't have a great deal of money invested in it. In the meantime, I installed an SSD drive which was left over when my Dell Latitude crapped out (yeah, one of those expensive, solid, reliable business-oriented laptops) as the boot drive and it's a very capable machine which boots as fast as my MacBook Pro which also has SSD.

It also helps heat up my office (-15 deg C outside this morning).

Britain's Harrier jump-jets reprieved to fly and fight again

Dick Head


Why don't you enlighten us poor, benighted civvies who are paying for this stuff where the inaccuracies are?

Motorola Razr Android smartphone

Dick Head

Is the case made of real Kevlar?

...Which is rather difficult to manufacture in bulk to precise tolerances. Or is it some other material with 'kevlar effect' finishing?

There's an awful lot of faux-kevlar around in travel bags, watchbands (I need to have a bulletproof wrist), etc. Few of the manufacturers have the machinery to actually deal with it.

iPad 3 to debut Q3 2012 as iPad 4

Dick Head
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Why even bother to report these rumours...

They don't benefit anyone, even the Register. Better to save the electrons for something worthwhile.

Amazon Kindle 4

Dick Head
Paris Hilton

“Though I often looked for one...

..., I finally had to admit that there could be no cure for Paris.”

A sentiment we all agree with and hope will continue.

HP's UK PC boss: We're going nowhere

Dick Head

And according to the reviews...

...it was at best a half-decent tablet. The geeks who bought at the fire-sale probably knew what they were getting. As for the innocents who just saw a sub $100 tablet which was incompatible with Android, I wonder how they feel they made out.

Furthermore, there's not much point in saying that the way to succeed in selling against Apple is to sell your tablet at less than cost, unless you're in for the long game and have deep pockets.

Number-crunching in the Cloud

Dick Head

First Experience of a Spreadsheet...

..was around 1983/4. The engineering group I moved into was tasked with an array processor design. For the company, this was a bit of a sideshow and they wouldn't spring for some decent software for analyzing signal timing. So some bright spark did it all on his brand new IBM-compatible PC in Lotus 1-2-3 or whatever was current around that time. Pages of horizontal lines popping up and down in sympathy and heading off right towards ZZ territory as he simulated a matrix add.

Some years later, "What, you can use spreadsheets for business planning?"

I think we only sold two or three processors so perhaps a more rigorous use of Lotus by the Program Managers might have saved a lot of profitless effort.

Apple: First cult to lead world in semiconductor spending

Dick Head
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Seems like you're alienating a growing share of your market...

...by mindlessly labelling Apple customers as fanbois or part of a cult.

May have been funny once or twice but after so many iterations it gets boring.

Oh, I forgot. It's all about clicks, whether they're done out of annoyance or otherwise.

Microsoft unveils Windows Phone 7 8

Dick Head

Pandering to the fanbois and haters is good business...

...even if many of the articles are effectively dumbed down.

It's all about clicks.

Netgear XAV5001 500Mb/s powerline Ethernet adaptor

Dick Head

Can't these large adapters use a stub cable to a normal-sized plug?

These large units block all the holes on a multi-outlet (I'm in Euro-land). Would the addition of a 1-foot cable and a normal plug cause signal problems? Would plugging it in via a non-switched outlet bar cause problems?

'Upgraded' Apple iMacs lock out hard drive replacement

Dick Head

According to "hardmac.com"...

...(they reported the original problem some years ago) this is the reason:

"Here is also an explanation of the reasons that pushed Apple to introduce that system in the 2009 iMac. As we sais earlier, the iMac checks very often the temperature of the hard drive. If it was doing so with the SMART system, it would shrink the disk bandwidth and would freeze the disk for a very short time at every check.

Therefore Apple decided to do it with an Out of Bandwidth system, outside of the data channels of the disks. At first the company used connectors added to most hard drives and used for programming and testing the disk. That solution had one drawback as each manufacturer had its own connector. The 2011 model uses a new system. All the information now goes through pin 11 of the power supply connector, which is normally used to light-up a LED during disk activity. In prodder to change the use of that pin, a specific firmware was needed, which explains the reason that only disks sold by Apple in the iMac don't have any problem."

...which is a reason, though I couldn't say whether it is a good one.

MobileMe drove Steve Jobs to foul-mouthed fury

Dick Head

That's OK then...

...I'll have to remember to write that in my diary tonight, "El Reg today contained a grain of truth!"

Dick Head
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He then summarily fired a few employees....

Looks as though you made that one up.

HP's beloved 12c calculator turns 30

Dick Head

Who's got the oldest?...

...I have 3 HP 16Cs, the oldest from 1983 (as best I remember). The instruction book has a 1982 copyright.

It replaced a TI LCD Programmer, which my wife had pretty much taken over anyway. And that replaced a TI LED Programmer, which is still around somewhere. The red LEDs are still the coolest.

I programmed my first HP 16C to help me disentangle the various fields in the long microcode word used by the embedded controller I was working on then, which used AMD 2900 series chips, as far as I remember.

Doesn't seem like it was so long ago. I grow old, I grow old, I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Obama to overhaul heinous US patent system

Dick Head

The courts are the final arbiters...

...and in the USA I can't believe that increasing the credibility of the USPTO will do anything to reduce the dependency on the legal system to sort out the validity and real ownership of patents.

Perhaps better just to accept the fact and ackowledge that the Patent Office merely serves as a simple registrar of (claimed) first instance. The whole job can be performed by a roomful of clerks, or perhaps even a web site.

Sorting out the farcical patent tourism industry might be a better thing to concentrate on.

Windows 8 squeezed to fit 2012 Dell fondleslab?

Dick Head

Windows working on ARM, via the LongARM project...

...well, at least it's better than calling it the ShortArm project.

Maybe this only makes sense to ex-military tapes.

The cost of beating Apple's shrewd screws? £2

Dick Head


"At least the world agrees that the slot screw is an abomination that deserves to go the same way as surgery without anaesthetic and public hangings."

Funny that some of the most precise miniaturised mechanical machines, ie: watch movements, are put together exclusively with slot screws. I suspect the skill of the artificer has a lot to do with whether they're considered and abomination.

What is the point of End Point Protection?

Dick Head

Malware on Univac, Vax & IBM???

Somehow I doubt that. During 35 years with the company (under its various names) the only malware I heard of on Univac machines was some of the officially supported software we delivered to the 1100-series machines during the 1970s.

I did once write an ASM program which put a phony Exec 8 login sequence on Uniscope 100 screens and left it running. In those days interactive terminals were a common resource we all had to share. But it didn't do anything with the supplied passwords, just wrote rude messages back to the user, specially tailored to his userid.

Kids want Santa to bring iPads not consoles

Dick Head
Dead Vulture

Grizzled old gits like myself...

...might prefer Register reportards to keep their assumptions of our what we like to themselves.

Shell's London office UNDER WATER and besieged by GIANT EELS

Dick Head

Also a theatre, a general store and a rifle range in the basement...

...at least when I worked there back in the early 1970s. I whiled away many evenings during transport strikes burning up the ammunition they paid for until the crowds on the suburban lines had died down. They also had a full medical and dental service in the Upstream building which was useful on occasion. However, the crowning glory was the Lensbury employee club in Teddington. Once you had been there you could have no doubt the oil companies were making money hand over fist.

At that time the computers (Univac 1108s, IBM 360s) were in the Downstream building on the first floor, but I believe that building was sold off and converted to appartments.

Quite takes me back...haven't lived in Blighty since 1978.

Apple Magic Trackpad

Dick Head

Just turn on 'tap to click'...

...works well.

Apple eyes kill switch for jailbroken iPhones

Dick Head
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You guys are so gullible...

It only requires the Register to patent trawl Apple's applications, then write some stupid 'what if' fantasy and you're all over the site moaning how evil Apple are. The idea of using it this way is the Register's not Apple's. The Register is whipping up stupid emotion to get you to come back and view the site more often and thus get more advertising revenue.

Get a clue.

Apple fans drool over Liquidmetal widget

Dick Head

It already was endangered...

...there hasn't been a new model Titanium SANDisk greater than 16GB for the last 9 months.

Apple as a religion: How the iPhone became divine

Dick Head

"Apple as a religion"...

...Is primarily pushed by media such as the Register who hope to boost their hit count, attracting both enthusiasts and detractors by publishing inflammatory 'news' items.

I and my IT colleagues where I work use Windows, Unix, Linux at work because we have to. We use Windows, Unix, Linux or an Apple OS at home for various reasons, not least being financial. I haven't come across anyone using an OS for reasons of blind faith.

Friends who are enthusiasts of Ford or Dodge cars, for example, are not considered as cultists, even if we consider them mistaken. There is no reason to extend the religious analogy to OS enthusiasts of any preference unless the purpose is merely to imflame.

Swiss do lady-friendly iPhone 4 launch

Dick Head

Anyone who believes...

...that the Swiss are too polite to make a fuss when you bend the rules hasn't spent much time there. They will (reasonably politely) tell you when you are doing something which is verboten.

Beeb sacks teaboy, hires Press Association

Dick Head
Dead Vulture

`Debacle´ !!??!!

Does anyone actually care?

Come on theRegister, get a grip. If you want to publish amusing frothy articles it would be best to find a subject that's actually amusing.

'It's as though I've got Jonathan Ive's personal tool in my...'

Dick Head

Makes me wonder...>>

...just how many people you have dedicated to the Register's Apple newsdesk. Not that much is news, commenting on commentators doesn't seem like a ver productive occupation.

Giving poor kids computers, internet makes them stupider

Dick Head

Reminds me of the 1930's...

...when it was said that if the poorer housholds had baths they would just use them to store coal.

Inevitable Mac OS X 10.6.4 update problems surface

Dick Head

So when individuals report failure...

...it's a meaningfull metric of the quality of the product. When individuals report success it's meaningless.

Microsoft bares Steve Jobs' Flash rant claptrap

Dick Head
Dead Vulture

So, let me get this straight...

...Microsoft misses a deadline (shock horror!) and this is an indication of Jobs' idiocy and a vindication of the Reg's crusade against Apple?

The Reg's credibility continues to spiral earthwards like a paper aeroplane.

Robothopter in biomimetic butterfly boffinry breakthrough

Dick Head

No need to be so smug ...

...about iPads. Many of us can't see the video because Youtube and external Flash sites are blocked at work anyway. And my life isn't so sad that I read theRegister other than at work.

Britain's bingers out-boozed by Irish

Dick Head

You will shortly be contacted by Microsoft legal...>>

...pointing out that Bing (as in 'bingers') is a Microsoft trademark which must not be infringed. The term 'bingers' may only be used for those enjoying the Bing experience.


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