* Posts by TWB

298 posts • joined 19 Feb 2010


The Register speaks to one of the designers behind the latest Lego Ideas marvel: A clockwork solar system



With the rather limited range of 8, 12, 16, 20, 24, 40 teeth cogs* I wonder how they make the more 'complex' ratios that the solar system throws up.

I hope they don't rely on Lego having to produce some more 'specialist' pieces - the range is too wide now for this old duffer... less is more!

*Maybe there are more these days and I did not include the worm gears.

You MUST present your official ID (but only the one that's really easy to fake)


Re: Get it on paper

My wife got her vaccination card laminated - mostly to stop it becoming too dog-eared. It has not been 'used' anywhere so far.

Malware and Trojans, but there's only one horse the boss man wants to hear about


Not as bad as I expected

I thought Ruud was going to find and remove some horse betting malware which the boss man 'could not do his "job" without'

Try placing a pot plant directly above your CRT monitor – it really ties the desk together


Re: De-gauss button

OK, I'll bite..

The De-gauss button demagnetises the CRT. The CRT will build up a certain amount of magnetism over time (and I cannot remember why but it's not that complicated) Any residual magnetism in a CRT will cause the cathode rays to not go exactly where you'd like them and so the red beam might end up hitting some of the green phosphors, the blue the red etc but not necessarily over the entire display.

CRT's are/were a nightmare IMHO in so many ways..... I don't care what many of my fellow TV engineers say.

A coil of wire is wrapped around the front of the CRT and when you press the de-gauss button it is energised with an AC current which diminishes to next-to-nothing over a couple of seconds. The coil of wire is therefore magnetising the CRT +ve then -ve by each half cycle of the diminishing AC - going around a hysteresis loop to remove as much stored magnetism as possible. (This is how tape head demagnetising is done) The magnetic field also affects the RGB cathode rays hence the wobbly picture.

On many monitors and TVs the degauss was done at switch on - which is the "thung............" sound you hear - You would not normally see the picture wobble as the CRT heater gun had not warmed up at this point.

One other thing about degaussing - it also set the CRT to be correct for its orientation with the earth's magnetic field and so ideally it should be done with the CRT in situ - if you have one which gets moved about a lot......

There's probably a much better explanation somewhere on the internet.


The world is chaos but my Zoom background is control-freak perfection


I must have been lucky

In my last job both in the office and 'WFH', we never did calls with the cameras on. The screen was only used if you were being shown something on someone else's desktop. Non one ever asked "can I see what you look like today?", and if I had never met someone in person I could just let my imagination run wild.

Flexispot Deskcise Pro V9: Half desk, half exercise bike, and you're all sweaty. How much does it cost again?


What - no generator?

Why not generate some power while you pedal and charge a UPS battery rather then just generate heat to waste?

(yeah, I know cost.....)

Tor users, beware: 'Scheme flooding' technique may be used to deanonymize you


Variable results

I tried this on Brave, Tor, Firefox, Vivaldi, Safari and Opera. Only Brave and Tor had matching results (which is a shame as I like Brave best at the moment), though Vivaldi was close..... Safari just stalled and Opera failed to open the page at all.

I guess similar results to others here.

I haven't bought new pants for years, why do I have to keep buying new PCs?


Customer with Vista

A neighbour/customer recently reported that her laptop kept blackscreening on wake or start up. I went to check and we managed to get it awake again - she did not know the hold-power-button-down-for-7-secs for force a shutdown. I then found it was running Vista and said it might do to update to Win10. I also found out that the machine probably had a stock MB fault. Luckily the HD was/is fine and we've got her old emails (had been running POP3) and I got her email working on her phone. Fortunately the machine has now permanently died and so a long overdue "update" will have to happen and I will not have to keep saying how Vista is probably somewhat risky to use. If the machine had been OK, I suspect she would have continued using it as it ran fine and had loads of HD space and no malware (found)


Re: I hate to say it, as I don't like the way they work...

My wife is far from elderly but hates anything changing tech wise even when old designs/UIs etc were flawed. For her, learning anything new - even if much improved - brings out the "why have they changed that when it worked fine* before?"

*she had got used to it.

Huawei's new Mate X2 foldable phone costs almost $2,800


Any folding phone owners here?

Seriously - I'd love to hear from any reg readers who have owned one for a while and if they really are amazing and cannot live without them or maybe wish they still had the cash they'd splashed.


Texas blacks out, freezes, and even stops sending juice to semiconductor plants. During a global silicon shortage


Re: Power Grid

I cannot tell if your tongue is in your cheek, but IIRC our connection to France is DC* - I don't think we are synchronised - but maybe this has changed recently.

*Yeah I know it could be pure rectified AC and we could lock to that etc etc...

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can do that: Microsoft unveils Custom Neural Voice – synthetic, but human-sounding speech


I sometimes wonder...

...if soon we will have nothing to do at all.

Transcribe-my-thoughts app would prevent everyone knowing what I actually said during meetings


Snapped Ankles

If they want their minutes back they could shorten the intro by about 30 bars - otherwise it sounded promising.

Negative Trustpilot review of law firm Summerfield Browne cost aggrieved Briton £28k


Re: Avoid challenging "experts"

"So he was right then, and you're complaining about the expert assessment that said so?" - Yes I'm complaining because he suggested it was just as good as it was going to be and never gave me any advice or suggestions how to improve matters (he said nothing about reduced sitting down and more moving about - my life/job changed to bring that about).

Since my back got better his expert assessment was wrong.

As value for money goes it was crap (£1200/hr?). I have had much better from private Physiotherapists, Yoga, Pilates, Chiropractors - at lest they made suggestions to help matters,


Re: The legal mafia ...

"look after their own"

Unfortunately it is not just the legal profession - most professions (mine included) seem to close ranks when somethings goes "bad-PR" - I think the legal profession are probably the most proficient at it as they are good at understanding/interpreting/bending "rules"

Sad but probably a fact of life.

Occasionally a professional will put their head above the parapet and actually admit they did something which was not their best work and I applaud that.

If you're a WhatsApp user, you'll have to share your personal data with Facebook's empire from next month – or stop using the chat app


I now want to leave

It will be a bit difficult as I use it a quite a bit - family, friends and school, fortunately not for work, except informally so not a requirement.

I've never had a facebook account, so no loss there.

But I do wonder, do they have all the data they want from me and everyone else already? Is this how they can put a name next to a phone number (who is not in your contacts) with a ~ ? - Will I really be making much difference other than sticking 2 fingers up?

Opinions welcome....

Confessions at a Christmas do: 'That time I took down an entire neighbourhood'


Sounds like...

... a proper 'Who, me?." this story.

Taiwan’s Wistron says iPhone factory riot won’t cause significant impact to its business


I wonder...

...and I'm being serious here... how much would an iPhone, Macbook air, Macbook pro etc cost if manufactured in the US or Europe? An answer like "lots more" will not be accepted. An answer like $50 per item or 100% more is more what I'm after.

Obviously "the East" already has factories set up to manufacture stuff in large quantities so "the west" would take time to get up to speed, but if "the west" becomes too reliant, we'll never be able to support ourselves long term.

The curse of knowing a bit about IT: 'Could you just...?' and 'No I haven't changed anything'


Sorting other people's stuff

The main problem I get is the user who only switches their computer on occasionally and it a low spec machine with 2GB of RAM and a spinning HD and all the original bloatware is still active and installed. I go round (or did before lockdown...) and the laptop is not charged and switched off. The user switches it on and I watch for 15 minutes while it 'boots' and all the bloatware tries to launch. The ('free') AV and Windows phone home and check for updates (and try to install them) The machine is usable in that you can move the pointer around the screen, but if you click on anything it takes an age to actually do anything. Even getting Task Manager up to see what is happening is painful. Many users seem to think this is 'normal' and tell me it always takes this long.

It saddens me greatly as it lead to landfill as many users think the machine is then too old for anything useful and go and buy something new, when turning off all the cruft and letting it do its updates for a few hours would make a world of difference.

I know, us nerdy-geeks know how to keep our machines running nicely.....

Worn-out NAND flash blamed for Tesla vehicle gremlins, such as rearview cam failures and silenced audio alerts


I blame...

...infotainment systems - they are too prevalent now, bring back proper switches and controls I can use without looking which don't all depend on some all governing 'CPU'

Max Schrems is back... and he's challenging Apple's 'secret iPhone advertising tracking cookies' in Europe


Wasting their time

I do wonder what the advertisers would make of me. I'm not that knowledgable about data privacy but seem to avoid most targeted ads - I don't use my phone to buy stuff and was able to turn a lot of the google stuff off. On my comps I use Brave as my preferred browser and rarely see ads - if any - for stuff even vaguely interesting to me - maybe I'm going to the wrong (or right) sites?

I think the advertising world is wasting a lot of money and doing it all wrong - or maybe it works for the 98% of the population who would happily click 'Kill my children' to get a pop up banner out of the way.

Maybe not being on facebook, twitter etc helps.

[Checks meeting agenda...] Where does it say 'Talk cr*p and waste everyone's time'?


BT headsets

You've just caused me to go and have a look for one to buy - I have a wired one for work but I like the freedom of wandering around and we never use webcams for our work "meetings" - so thanks, sort of...

Excel is for amateurs. To properly screw things up, those same amateurs need a copy of Access


Re: I meekly raise my hand to confess...

Don't worry, I used LibreOffice spreadsheet to design a brick wall recently - I did not have enough pieces of Lego....

Oddly not a single number on the sheet, I counted the bricks off the display then did the maths with pencil and paper to decide how many bricks to order.

As others have said, you use the tools you've got and this was the best way for me. It also allowed me to show my client different designs much faster than if I had draw each out on paper..

From the Department of WCGW: An app-controlled polycarbonate lock with no manual override/physical key


Welcome back

We've missed you (13th March.....really?...)

Teracube whips out cheap, fixable phone with removable battery and four-year warranty


I don't need one but...

I hope to keep my current Honor 10 lite for several years as it seems to work fine and has not slowed down yet, so I will not be getting one of these just yet, but I almost feel like giving them £20 for at least trying to be a bit different.

The power of Bill compels you: A server room possessed by a Microsoft-hating, Linux-loving Demon


Re: The frisson of Y2K

@AC - in some ways I agree, but my experience has been that the 'obvious' and 'simple' will often be overlooked or just not considered in some situations.

(sorry Nunyabiznes beat me to it)

Intel screams Tiger Lake is 'world's best processor' (then quietly into its sleeve: for thin Windows, ChromeOS laptops)


What's wrong with "times"?

When did '3 times' become '3X' (said 'three-ex')?

Or is he reading dumbly from a script?

Or am I getting old?......

Brit retailer John Lewis to catapult 111 tech bods over to Capgemini weeks after dumping 244 on Wipro



I like the JLP idea/principle call-it-what-you will, but sadly think this is definitely the beginning of the end and JLP will become JL soon and just another company competing by being the same.

I think the fact that JLP are now making a big thing of the 'partnership' is a clue, a bit like countries with descriptive words like 'democratic' in their names, rarely are.

SD cards hop on the PCIe 4.0 bus to hit 4GB/s with version 8.0 of storage spec


Still not fast enough

For uncompressed 4K... (I know, not many people use it)

But still impressive.

A real loch mess: Navy larks sunk by a truculent torpedo


Re: Too many return() statements in the code?

Upvote for GOSUB - not done any BASIC (or other) programming for years now, but good memories.

RetroPie 4.6 brings forth an answer to 'What do I do with this Pi 4 I bought last year?'


Re: Pi-based resurrection of the long dead home computer in the attic.

Upvote for the Round Tuits reference

This hurts a ton-80: British darts champ knocked out of home tourney by lousy internet connection


Re: Professional Failure

Yes, but he may also have poor 3G/4G/5G where he lives.

Also bear in mind, many people (not necessarily this chap) actively like to be ignorant of technology and what it can do - they wear it as a badge or pride that they are not "geeky nerds" - they are useless in many ways but somehow get by in the World. I know many people will wait weeks for me to come along and sort something out for them rather than let me try and talk it through with them on the phone.

NASA mulls restoring Saturn V to service as SLS delays and costs mount



Why did I not think of that?....

Maybe the RAF could get all those wasted Spitfires out of the museums as well! Much cheaper than these new fangled VTOL jet thingys.

Leaks point to Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra with mammoth 108MP camera and ... what? 16GB of RAM


Re: Problem with too much RAM

Oddly, I don't mind that (in fact I like speed for that kind of thing), it is when you get what should be a really small simple app that takes GBs when it should be KBs.


Problem with too much RAM

Developers will start to think it is 'normal' and write even sloppier code. It's the same as having a bigger work bench, you just fill it up with more junk - unless you are well disciplined.

This is not aimed at those developers who still believe in and strive to make lean, compact apps which manage and use resources efficiently.

Tea tipplers are more likely to live longer, healthier lives than you triple venti pumpkin-syrup soy-milk latte-swilling fiends


My problem with tea

I love it, but I always want a biscuit (or many) with it, so tea may shorten my life indirectly.

The thing is with these 'xxxxx extends your life' claims, is that longer lives are not always more enjoyable, you may suffer for longer at the end. It's a bit like when people/commentators/journalists/politicians say "we're all living longer - which is a good thing" - really?.....I can think of loads of downsides to people living longer.

El Reg presents: Your one-step guide on where not to store electronic mail


Some people

I agree that people really ought to understand 'how to file (email) properly' but there are many people who are just plain messy, even without email their desks are a mound of paperwork - they know where everything is - even if it is not organised as such.

I cannot get my wife to use folders in email or on her computer - she refuses to try and understand and she has been using computers for at least 20 years.

It drives me mad and I'm not that tidy myself but I do try to have some semblance or organisation on my computer, at home, in the shed etc.

In tribute to Galaxy Note 7, BBC iPlayer support goes up in flames for some Samsung TVs


Re: Vice versa

Analogue signal specs were relatively straightforward as they were designed so that the receiving kit could be cheap and simple.

Digital TV specs are far more complex and have loads of possible variations/options/choices - the MPEG2 spec I believe is over 800 pages and allows for improvements in coding when the technology comes along.

Sadly everyone - the online streamers and the broadcasters - are now in a race to keep 'improving stuff' and come out with new stuff - even though to many viewers they cannot tell the difference and really they'd just like to watch TV.

You looking for an AI project? You love Lego? Look no further than this Reg reader's machine-learning Lego sorter


Re: If I have enough lego to need sorting

"Also known as 'your kids'"

You have not met my son have you...trying to get him to do any sort of tidying takes 10 times more effort than doing it myself.

Yep, I'm a terrible parent.

Complete with keyboard and actual, literal, 'physical' escape key: Apple emits new 16" $2.4k+ MacBook Pro


Re: "The £2,399 portable"

Are you sure? I had to check...

Base model 13inch - £1299, then £1499, £1799, and £1999 for higher specs.

Aw, bad day at your air-conditioned, somewhat clean desk? Try shifting a 40-tonne fatberg


Re: What actually happens to the fatberg?

I wondered if it could go into an Anerobic Digester....


What actually happens to the fatberg?

So they break it up - but where do the bits go? does it/do they actually reach the sewage treatment plant and finally get broken down into .... whatever?....

BTW - when people ask me the best ever invention, I always say sewage treatment.

I'm not Boeing anywhere near that: Coder whizz heads off jumbo-sized maintenance snafu


Re: 767

My Moke fuel gauge was duff for years and I just got passengers to pul the cap off an have a look for me. I usually asked that they did not use it as an ash tray.

[When I finally restored the car, I replaced the sender in the tank and all worked perfectly after that]

Not LibreOffice too? Beloved open-source suite latest to fall victim to the curse of Catalina


Re: Productivity? I really don't see the benefit of Catalina over High Sierra.

Snow Leopard is also my favourite from a usability POV, but as someone who still runs it on an old Macbook (it can't take any further updates), it can be annoying for internet stuff.

I wonder if Linux will be my next OS.

Fancy yourself as a bit of a Ramblin' Man or Woman? Maybe brush up on your cartography


Other options....

...I use Viewranger and have got used to it and IMHO it works quite well - you have to buy maps seperately but they stick on the device. When I bought some paper landrangers recently I got the free OS downloads and liked the look of it but stuck with what I was used to.

How do we stop filling the oceans with Lego? By being a BaaS-tard, toy maker suggests


Any plastic experts out there?

I agree that Lego usually gets handed down and never thrown out, but some of mine/ours is over 45 years old now and it has teeth marks and some is a little weakened or some bits are broken.

Can the plastic be melted down and re-cast/remoulded into new bricks? I know Lego has been made from different types of plastic over the years. I'm sure it could be sorted by colour (I'd be happy to do it, but then I'm weird....)

Second MoD Airbus Zephyr spy drone crashes on Aussie test flight


Re: brushless

I remember overhearing many years ago from my electrical tutor at university, that synchronous motors are the most efficient. DC to AC conversion is very good these days. Maybe the efficiency of a synchronous motor with a DC to AC converter just wins the maths....?

(though I would also imagine that one speed props have their limitations unless they are variable pitch)

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


Re: Isn't Chemistry, Physics?

Physics is particle engineering (and other fundamental stuff)

Chemistry is atomic engineering

Biology is molecular engineering

And they all overlap one another - e.g. molecules feature in Chemistry and electrons feature in Biology, and physicists are predominantly biological (all the ones I've met)

Cosmo Communicator: More phone than the Gemini, more pocket computer than phone


I'd love one

But really don't need one.

The top three attributes for getting injured on e-scooters? Having no helmet, being drunk or drugged, oddly enough


'You just described 70% of bicycle riders'

I suspect your estimation is off. Good cyclists are everywhere but you don't notice them. "they are all the same is" is a dangerous assumption to make in many situations.

Yes, sounds like an idiot in the case of your sister's car, but it is not representative of all cyclists.



Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021