* Posts by TWB

317 publicly visible posts • joined 19 Feb 2010


Resilience is overrated when it's not advertised


Re: Proper resilience

The point I was trying to make that very often we did get equivalent systems on main and backup, but the mentality was that backup was considered "not as good"


Proper resilience

Years ago when I worked in a Big Broadcasting Corporation and we were heading towards automation, some of my colleagues visited a bank (I believe) to see their set up and they had a proper pair of 'systems' and could and did switch over from to the other frequently. This mean that both systems were well maintained, up to date and usually ready to go.

Of course we still went down the "main and backup" way of thinking - where even if the "backup" was specced the same as the main, it was considered a bit second class and never got the love of the main. If we ever went over to the backup, there was always a push to go back to the main as soon as possible.

Much better if you want proper resilience to have X and Y systems which are the same spec and truly considered, treated and used equally.

Most Londoners would quit before they give up working from home


A slightly different take

I must be a bit of an outlier here.

I live in London (well SW14...) and I like it. I also like going into London - I like the buzz of the city, but I've never worked in central London and probably would not enjoy working in an open plan office or at a hotdesk - I avoided that in my career.

I no longer commute as I was made redundant a couple of times since 2017 but in the 25 or so years before that I used to (mostly) cycle to and from work. I liked going in and seeing people. People I would not choose as my friends but interesting, quirky, weird, annoying, nice, varied people. I was lucky in my job in that I think I knew a few hundred people by first name. The interactions I had with them ranged from friendships, bantering, hellos, nods or just work related talk. I think this 'forced' interaction was one of the best things in my life. It taught me patience and tolerance of all sorts of people and to realise that you have to work with people to get things done and not just shut people off when they annoy you. I'm not sure that WFH would have done that for me.

Having said all that - in my last role my team all WFH and I loved doing nights from home, I never enjoyed the commute home in the morning when I had been in the office overnight.

Data loss prevention emergency tactic: keep your finger on the power button for the foreseeable future


Re: Foot, not finger

Not as dramatic but in BBC TV Centre many years ago there were network changeover buttons in one of the main control rooms ('CAR' if you really want to know) which allowed BBC 1 or 2 to be switched to lessor control rooms to provide Open University* transmission. Anyway, come one evening at closedown**, a keen and lucky engineer pressed the changeover button and it failed to latch, falling back to the normal BBC2 (or 1) control room when he released his finger. Being a diligent chap he pressed it again and held it down keeping OU programmes on air for the next 2 hours before he could finally release his finger and go home, rather late. ISTR the buttons were large enough that you could swap fingers when one of them started to ache too much.

When he retired from TV he was given the offending button mounted on stand as a leaving present.

*Go look it up, I can't be arsed.

**For our younger audience, in the olden days, BBC TV used to finish in the evening and there was no transmission overnight, the output signals from the TV Centre would be pulled and the TV transmitters would shut down.

To make this computer work, users had to press a button. Why didn't it work? Guess


Re: Bad design

My parents have a sit on garden mower with 1 "rocking" pedal which you press forwards to go forwards and back (with your heel) to go backwards. There is a brake pedal you can use in emergencies but you rarely need it and the gearing is continuously variable. I wish I could get this in a car - 1 pedal driving in EVs comes close....

Heart now pledges 30-seat hybrid electric commercial flights by 2028


Re: Seat plan please

"As someone who may be stout" - NTNON?......

Rare hexagonal diamond formed by crash of dwarf planet and asteroid, scientists believe


Thanks for that

I had never heard of her - she were right clever........

Scientists use supercritical carbon dioxide to power the grid


Heat engines

I have often wondered if all heat engines which require heat AND cooling to generate/transfer energy from one place/form to another - are a major contributor of global warming NOT just because of the burnt fuels and their greenhouse effects on the planet, but because of the excess heat that has to be released.

We humans have been using them for many years now (steam, ICE, etc)

Mind experiment: Imagine we had been using the same heat engines all these years but somehow magically they produced no exhaust gases (CO2 etc) but were the same efficiencies we've had over the years and so released excess heat - would we still have global warming? (I'm not a denier - just curious and not a good enough scientist to work it out)

If we get fusion to work, we will still have excess heat to get rid of - is unlimited energy such a good thing?

Sorry a bit off track from the original article.

*Where the heat came from is not the point of the question.

Just because you failed doesn't mean you weren't right


Re: Failure analysis: Step One

We once had a lecturer describing adding ferrite cores to cables to stop ringing and similar. He said the best method came from a far eastern* "Dr Suckitan", who had three methods A, B and C.

Apparently the Suckitan C method was best - well done to those of you ahead of the wave.....

*Somewhere far away and foreign and not the UK where they have more interesting sounding names. Maybe Smith, Clark, Brown, Longbottom etc are all hilarious in some other languages.

This is the military – you can't just delete your history like you're 15


Labor Labour

I'm not bothered with labor but I get annoyed when US writers refer to the [UK] Labor party - it's a name, leave it alone - and I know we brits are guilty of this as well.

Thinnet cables are no match for director's morning workout


Re: Strong cable and connector

I got an old mini PC to feed the TV to 'solve' my problem - it just does catchup and youtube on the TV. It seems a bit more future proof until the broadcasters stop updating their services to PCs/browsers.


Strong cable and connector

My "smart" TV once got moved and the ethernet connector pulled out. Oddly, the cable and plug survived, but the latch on the socket broke and so any cable now has to be taped to the back panel to stay in.

Having said that, it is now a moot point as the TV is now "old" and the functionality I used (iPlayer) has now ceased due to a lack of updates.

Ericsson report details how it paid off Islamic State



My previous employer got bought by Ericsson and all us TUPE'd staff had to then start doing their online staff courses - many of which were all about anti-corruption, whistle blowing and being generally good-moral-ethical employees.

It seemed really odd as I had no business dealings in my role, never negotiated deals with clients, never got offered any freebies etc etc.

Joint European Torus more than doubles fusion record with 59 megajoules


Idle speculation

Let's assume humans manage to get fusion to work and we generate electricity from its heat - I wonder if we find 50 years after that the next problem we have is too much heat which we cannot get rid of - leading to a slightly different type of global warming.... (all heat engines generate excess heat)

Maybe we will need huge radiators which disperse the heat at into space.

I'm still excited about fusion.

You wood not believe what a Japanese logging company and university want to use to build a small satellite


At last

I thought of wooden spaceships years ago - mostly because I make things in wood and don't have decent metal working machinery and can't weld.....

But as a semi-serious question - would they completely burn up on re-entry? - wood is often used to clad steel pillars and beams in buildings to protect them against fire - my understanding is/was, the wood chars - which is a good thermal insulator - and then no further burning takes place. (experts - please correct me here)

Wi-Fi not working? It's time to consult the lovely people on those fine Linux forums


Re: oh...

"...or the USB-A plug that fits quite comfortably into an Ethernet port"

I set my mother in law up with a USB stick backup regime once upon a time and she could not get it to work. I eventually visited her and decided best to watch her actually carry out the task (which works so often when a user reports a problem) and yep - USB stick in RJ45 hole each time.

She still finds it too tricky to do so does not bother - but that's a different issue.


And the silly thing is...

..that many of us here like proper hardware switches for such things;- camera covers, microphone cuts etc.

I suppose ideally the OS should be able detect the switch position and report back to the user* but have no "ability" to change it.

*Ideally something like "The wi-fi switch on the outside of your machine is in the off position - please move it to the on position to enable wi-fi" - rather than "system error 3456HZQQF227 - please contact your administrator"


Similar problem with a moped

Many years ago I had a Honda Express moped for getting around as we lived a little bit away from places I wanted to go.

One morning I was going to scoot to college (6th form - 11 miles) and it would not start. I changed the spark plug, checked the fuel was on and all the things I knew but still no joy. For several days it remained like this and my normal helper (Dad) was not speaking to me because we had fallen out about something else.

One day in a calmer frame of mind I re-checked the little fuel on/off/reserve tap and remembered that when the fuel was low, you could switch it to 'Reserve' which allowed the last pint or so to be used - hey presto.....

I decided not to explain to my Dad immediately as we were, by then, exchanging some words.

One click, one goal, one mission: To get a one-touch flush solution


Re: Is it for prople who don't wash their hands?

Thanks for the linked wiki page - I was not aware of it or the dangerous mercury compounds.

Product release cycles are killing the environment, techies tell British Computer Society


Business first

Sadly so many businesses are run solely to keep the business going - that is their only raison-d'etre. The service or whatever they do/make/etc is tertiary and just that annoying thing they have to do to make money often for other lazy/greedy people.

The human race seems addicted to economics and does not seem to see another way forward.

Maybe in 50 years we humans will exist in a different way without money and economics as we know it, but things rarely change overnight.

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.