* Posts by Slx

720 posts • joined 5 Jun 2010

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Logitech Pop: Stylish, portable, but far from the best typing experience

Slx

Looks like it’s trying to recapture the user experience and ergonomics of a 1930s teletypewriter. They are retro, but the design disappeared because it was impractical and uncomfortable.

Elon Musk won't join Twitter's board after all

Slx

Looks like it’s time to move on from Twitter. It’s been an enjoyable platform but between bots, trolls and now this, I think I’ll be winding down my use of it.

Android's Messages, Dialer apps quietly sent text, call info to Google

Slx

It’s amazing how this has been allowed to creep. I remember when Gmail launched (I’m getting so old!) but at the time everyone was a little edgy about the notion that Google would have access to your emails and potentially using them to pitch advertising to you, but then we all seemed to stop worrying and just gave them our data and continued to do so in ever broadening and depending ways.

We provide ludicrous amounts of personal data to some of these platforms, and it’s far from just Google, without thinking about it very much at all.

Over time we’ve become desensitised to not having an expectation of privacy and I would suspect it’s more a case of most people not understanding the potential consequences of that rather than not caring. The general public tend not to understand nebulous concepts like data protection, until something happens that impacts them in a tangible way, so we drift and drift further into this dystopian mess.

Ireland: Meta fined $18.6m for breaking EU's GDPR

Slx

Fines need to be calculated as a % of income.

These regulatory agencies and others often bankrupt small businesses with mediocre fines but to a company like Meta, this is pocket change.

IBM looked to reinvigorate its 'dated maternal workforce'

Slx

Re: Millenials

The millennials are getting older too - won’t be long now before Generation Z starts seeing them as overheads and preparing them for deprecation. I mean many of them grew up in a time before ubiquitous broadband, may have used a landline and watched linear television. Some of them are probably only pretending to get TikTok and Snapchat…

Slx

Nasty business practices. Seems some people won’t be happy until everyone’s on zero hour contracts and anyone over 30 won’t be hired.

The problem with that, apart from causing political chaos at some point (arguably already happening) is that there’ll be a slide in spending power, a slide in consumption and the economy will contract, but that seems to be where we’re heading if we listen to the gurus we seem to spend most of our time tuned to.

All that matters is ludicrously disproportionate CEO level salaries that are massively removed from reality and that is very much a phenomenon of the early 21st century.

This is going well: Meta adds anti-grope buffer zone around metaverse VR avatars

Slx

Re: Who’s going to use this ?

Maybe some expensive virtual real estate, where you can store NFTs on your virtual mantelpiece and stare out at a virtual beach?

Slx

Who’s going to use this ?

What’s the market for this supposed to be?!

I really don’t get it and anytime I mention to anyone that I don’t get it they (usually middle aged managers who’ve never used VR) tell me that I’m getting old and it’s going to be “the next big thing.”

It just looks and sounds like all the hype had accompanied corporates trying to jump into Second Life in the early 2000s and we were a lot more naive about VR back then.

I just don’t see the huge demand for interaction using virtual reality and avatars, other than in a gaming context. Things like the proposals to host virtual meetings using avatars just seemed so awkward and cringe inducing that I can’t see the point.

To be quite honest, unless they’ve developed the Holodeck, I will remain extremely unconvinced about VR other than in gaming context.

Russia's naval exercise near Ireland unlikely to involve cable-tapping shenanigans

Slx

Cables

In reality if they sabotaged cables, it wouldn’t be Ireland they would be answering to. A % of those routes serve Ireland but the majority of them connect to SW Britain, France and onwards into Europe.

The consequences of damaging them would be enormous, probably shutting Russia out of the global economy for years.

Even what they’re doing at the moment means they’re an unreliable energy partner for the EU, the U.K. and others and that’s going to mean huge pivots in energy policy towards renewables, nuclear and alternative sources of gas.

In the long term a bit of marching around in tanks is just going to end up inevitably damaging the prospects for the Russian economy, even if the don’t do anything at all, there’s a threat that is resulting in energy companies and others making decisions based on policy environment stability, even without governments or armies reacting, business does not like being threatened with having its gas disrupted. If you can’t guarantee you won’t do that, then you won’t really have much of a long term business and people look elsewhere.

There’s a push toward decarbonisation anyway, so if anything all of this is just going to accelerate it, which is probably great for the environment, but it’s not great if your entire economic model involves selling your neighbours gas but you also enjoy randomly threatening them for no particular reason.

I mean would you shop in the supermarket that occasional threatens to beat you up for or just randomly points a gun at you for the laugh? Maybe conducts target practice war games in your back garden, sending a high handed note asking you to move the car…

Slx

I think the most the EU could do is a mutual defence pact and one that would be far less robust than NATO, and perhaps a peacekeeping type operation.

You’ll never see an EU army. It’s just some federalist, militaristic fantasy, that you occasionally encounter in the Gaullist / centre right of France to project power, or in the U.K. tabloids who imagine the EU in 19th century Empire contexts because that’s the only model they understand, being Imperial fantasists.

It’s far from either of those fantasise and couldn’t operate like that. It doesn’t even like the concept of central executive power, let alone military power. It’s very much a Union based on friendly cooperation. Even leaving it in a huff resulted in a total anticlimax. You’ve tabloids jumping up and down with jingoism, while all the EU wants to do is have a boring divorce, and make sure Northern Ireland doesn’t spin into absolute chaos.

The EU is a lot more than French politics. Most of its members wouldn’t agree to something like an active military. It’s ethos is entirely about passivity and subsidiary, which means decisions are made at the most local level possible, and not centrally. You are also not going to see much of a desire to replace NATO.

The only context I could see that happening in would be if the US really went down a rabbit hole, went completely mad and became totally unhinged. For example if it turned into some kind of dystopian post Trump strongman authoritarian state, which isn’t impossible, but probably isn’t all that likely either.

Even in a scenario like that, I think it would be more likely that NATO would just end up winding back US heavy involvement and shifting to being a far more stand alone organisation. I mean Trump was keen to defund it anyway.

As for Ireland’s neutrality, a lot of that has to do with the timing of independence and the relationship with the U.K. in the 1930s. We were neutral, but pragmatically so and very much on the U.K., US and nowadays EU side of the argument.

For example, during WWII, if allied airmen landed in Ireland they were just quietly returned to the U.K., German airmen were held as POWs in the Curragh Camp until the end of the war. I’m actually aware of a story of a crew that deliberately ditched in Ireland to escape Germany and spent the war effectively interned, ended up staying and never went back to Germany after the war.

There was a lot of nod and wink type friendly arrangements with the U.K. and the allies and there were also the Treaty Ports that allowed Royal Navy presence in key ports during the war.

Like it or not, you have to remember Ireland fought a war of independence from Britain only 17 years before WWII began. There were *very+ bumpy relations with the U.K. in the 1920s and there was a legitimate concern that independence could have been lost again in a hypothetical “needs must” type scenario. That was the major reason for Irish formal neutrality, which wasn’t all that neutral at all in reality. There was also no way they were going to be putting the Irish army under the command of imperial forces either, given the very fresh history, but I suspect they would have been happy enough to work directly with the US.

If the Germans had invaded, I think you’d have been looking at Ireland more likely to side with and invited in the US and to have sought assurances or its independence. Remember that Irish-US relations run very deep. De Valera himself was an American btw. He was an Irish/Cuban New Yorker.

You’ve also various bilateral agreements with the US, and strange things like the US military use of Shannon to move troops, as long as they use the duty free…

There is also a formal agreement with the RAF which was entered into after the events of 9/11 and in a modern era of a far, far more positive relationship with the U.K. https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/secret-defence-pact-allowing-raf-jets-inirish-airspace-undermines-our-neutrality-says-td-berry-40526069.html

Even with Brexit chaos Irish-British relations run very deep and will continue to do so because of the realities of common interests, a lot of shared culture and geography. It’s not always going to be that we are on exactly the same page, but as relations go it’s close, warm and friendly, despite the history.

The WWII politics was far more complex and nuanced than people looking it in some kind of loyalty to the crown type view. We weren’t loyal to the crown at all nor are we very fond of crowns - that was the whole point. It doesn’t mean that we would have been unfriendly neighbours, nor does it mean we wouldn’t have been on the same side. After all the Irish / UK break up was one of the unusual situations where a democracy left a democracy and still maintained relations like a couple after an ugly divorce. There remains a lot of common ground and common interests.

Irish neutrality in the modern era morphed into more about being an ideology of non-militaristic peace. There is a lot of genuine concern about some of the less than purely defensive positions NATO has taken in various conflicts anytime Irish NATO membership is mentioned. It becomes a sticking point. We also have things like the “triple lock” which means Irish troops can only be sent abroad if the Government decides, the whole parliamentary system approves (and it’s much more diverse than Westminster due to PR voting) and if it’s authorised by the UN. We can’t legally act in any other circumstance.

Ireland has joined the EU prototype common defence programmes. It’s an active participant in UN peacekeeping, has worked in cooperation with NATO on peacekeeping and has a seat on the UN Security Council at the moment, but that’s about as far as it goes.

Our military expenditure is definitely far, far too small. Even for just practical safety it needs more resourcing and we aren’t lacking the wherewithal to do that. I can’t see Ireland having a need for huge spending, but we could definitely do with investing in strong passive defence: high tech primary radar, submarine detection etc and probably having the capability to intercept aircraft in much the same way as say Denmark or Norway - even if it’s solely for civil aviation protection reasons. We also need to be able to deal with cyber security threats and threats to infrastructure. We had a huge cyber attack on the health services in the middle of the pandemic. Admittedly, it was a bit of an open door but it does demonstrate the growing risks.

For a long time we’ve operated on the basis of “sure who’d ever want to invade us?” but we’ve grown into a small, but wealthy and more significant location with significant financial centre, a lot of strategic infrastructure for global IT, internet/telecoms, high tech manufacturing etc and one that is also a Eurozone and EU member. I think in a way we still imagine our strategic significance to be as irrelevant as it was in the 1950s but a lot has changed.

There is an active debate here about the realistic (or lack of realistic) approach to defence here and I think you will see some degree of movement towards beefing it up. I would have doubts that public support goes as far as NATO membership, and it’s likely such an issue would need a referendum make the necessary changes to the constitution to enter a military alliance. However, that’s also very much based on our current perception of not being under any external threat. Russia doing military tests off the coast and rumours of threats to cables was enough to trigger a lot of debate here.

At the end of the day, we’re an island and we are increasingly dependent on a lot of fibres, subsea power cables and gas lines. We need to be able to shore those up.

Apple Mac sales break records amid ex-86-odus to Arm-compatible M1 silicon

Slx

Meanwhile over in iPad land

We’ll just doggedly stick to a policy of using a mobile phone OS, with huge icons, on what is effectively a powerful, high spec convertible Mac and we will continue to scratch our heads wondering why sales are slumping, while telling end users they just don’t understand what they really want.

Burning plasma signals step forward in race for nuclear fusion as researchers get bigger capsule for their 192-laser experiment

Slx

Nuclear Fusion, Limitless energy is just 10 years away ™

Celebrating 90 years of research experiments.

Since 1932

Court papers indicate text messages from HMRC's 60886 number could snoop on Brit taxpayers' locations

Slx

Re: WTAF

GDPR outside the EU (and even the EEA), under a Tory Government, with probably the most right wing Hom Sec in recent history …

I’m sure that will be watertight and enforced against state agencies.

Maybe someone should take a complain to the ECJ… oh wait lol

European silicon output shrinking, metal smelters closing as electricity prices quadruple, trade body warns

Slx

Re: Follow the money

To be fair though, the EDF is not a private company. It *is* the French Tax Payer. It’s almost 85% state owned.

Wifinity hands customers bills for Wi-Fi services they didn't want but used by accident after software 'glitch' let 'fixed term' subs continue

Slx

This kind of thing really annoys me

Military personnel work very hard, often on really quite poor pay and are expected to put their lives on the line, yet some political, or management decision, makes them the captive market for some ludicrously overpriced WiFi company.

How does that make any sense?!

These aren’t people spending an hour or two in an airport and it’s very shoddy treatment.

Also the service itself can’t be that expensive to provide. They should be offered free WiFi and also it would be a lot more security focused if it were delivered by the military themselves.

It’s just appalling. I mean what’s next? Pay for their own uniforms and boot polish? Maybe put a few quid in the barracks meter to keep the lights on?

I’m reminded of Captain Mainwaring asking around for a penny to put into the pay phone to call GHQ to warn them a potential incoming invasion…

Police National Computer not pwned by Clop ransomware crims, insists Home Office

Slx

Is it just me? Or does the name make sound like they have just have one computer, probably called something like MAVIS Mark 1, sitting in some 1950s basement being programmed using punch cards and patch cords?

Dutch nuclear authority bans anti-5G pendants that could hurt their owners via – you guessed it – radiation

Slx

I thought standard procedure was to coat your entire body in “tin” foil (aluminium foil) …

Google Chrome's upcoming crackdown on ad-blockers and other extensions still really sucks, EFF laments

Slx

Web standards …

The biggest threat to the internet is Google dominating and breaking web standards and Chrome becoming de facto, non-optional to guarantee smooth access to various websites.

It happened years ago with Internet Explorer in its hay day, and it undermined competition and hindered technology development until that stranglehold eventually broke down. We were all stuck with suboptimal performance in other browsers, and on non-Windows machines and IE itself bloated into what was a mess that had little incentive to improve, as it was the dominant, and highly broken standard bearer.

The big competition regulators need to act. The EU might be the one that takes the lead here as I don’t think the US seems to be competent in competition law in recent years - it’s too focused on culture wars and entirely about pandering to powerful lobbyists. The days of competent federal US agencies seem to be behind us.

UK data guardian challenges government proposals on automated decision-making

Slx

Even if the European Commission and the EU Council and European Parliament chose to somehow all sit on their hands, there’s a *very* strong likelihood of individual citizens taking a challenge to court and an ECJ ruling eventually rendering processing of EU citizens data in the U.K. highly problematic, if not impossible.

People seem to imagine the EU operates like a US presidency or a U.K. national government with broad executive powers being exercised by a single party or individual. It does not. It’s all about decentralised powers, subsidiary, finding consensus etc.

It would be extremely naïve to assume this will just bump along as if nothing happened or that some diplomatic nods and winks by HM Gov can smooth it all over and make it go away.

GDPR is actually very popular amongst European citizens too. There’s strong political support for it and a sensitivity about data snooping in many countries that have a much clearer understanding of why it’s a risk due to their own 20 th century histories. A lot of people are very protective of the concept of a right to privacy.

A lightbulb moment comes too late to save a mainframe engineer's blushes

Slx

I’m reminded of a situation in a house I moved into in Ireland back in the days when landlines were still something people knew the numbers of and still plugged phones and modems into.

I ended up stumbling across the specs for the Irish phone network by trail and error deduction.

We got the phone line activated, but there was no dial tone in any of the extension sockets.

I went around checking each one and used a multimeter and there were definitely no wiring issues. Simple stuff, two wires, very similar to the US.

I checked everything on the first socket and found no faults, but it had a dial tone on the RJ11 socket on the front. It just stopped there.

I then accidentally noticed that a screw I had dropped was magnetically struck to a device in the back of the front cover of this socket. It was only then I noticed there were two magnetically operated micro switches that cut off all the extension wiring when the Telecom Éireann branded “NTU” had its access cover open.

It was a neat demarcation system for testing the service and eliminating the extension wiring, useful but if unfamiliar with it, it wasn’t at all obvious.

All ripped out, never to be seen again and replaced with Ethernet and XPON FTTH.

Boffins find way to use a standard smartphone to find hidden spy cams

Slx

That explains why I keep getting thrown out of cinemas since I was assimilated by the Borg.

Amazon tells folks it will stop accepting UK Visa credit cards via weird empty email

Slx

Visa and MasterCard are overdue a Competition Law probe

It's long past time the cozy duopoly of Visa and MasterCard gets a visit from some of the major competition regulators like the European Commission and UK watchdogs too. They've WAY too much market power and in a way that makes far more impact on day to day life than browser options or OS lock ins.

This is being caused by Brexit but only in the sense that EU regulations were keeping them on a tight leash and preventing excessive charging. The moment that went away - price went up in the UK.

Russia blows up old satellite, NASA boss 'outraged' as ISS crew shelters from debris

Slx

Given the vast areas involved, cleaning up orbits is probably an impossibility.

Plastic waste in the oceans is a far more doable task in comparison, and that’s proving to be an enormous challenge, despite being vastly more accessible, being actually on earth and in an environment we can reasonably function.

Cleaning an orbit of random bits of high speed debris just isn’t feasible. You might be able to get a few chunks cleaned up, but not the shrapnel crated by this.

All satellites should be able up be safely deorbited. It’s the only way we’ll ever get rid of them. It should be a mandatory part of the design.

The problem is it’s very much chaos. The rules are only as good as the ability to enforce them and without cooperation that’s not going to happen.

Slx

This is why I don’t like space force fantasist. We could well end up with loads of useful orbits becoming useless and there is currently no technology capable of cleaning them up.

No explosive weapons or intentional debris generation should be used in orbit. It simply shouldn’t be a discussion.

It’s also hard to assume that an agency capable of building a space weapon isn’t capable of thinking through the consequences of using it. They either don’t care or they want to create debris fields. I don’t think there’s any “ooops we didn’t foresee that outcome.”

With the commercialisation of space and I would suspect a growing paranoia in certain countries about open access communications satellites that can’t be firewalled or blocked, you’re going to see a lot more chaotic messes in the years ahead, both with accidents and deliberate incidents.

Hopefully we’ll still be able to get to space!

Another brick in the (kitchen) wall: Users report frozen 1st generation Google Home Hubs

Slx

Meanwhile my 1970s thermostats and light switches are still working perfectly as the e-waste piles up.

FYI: If the latest Windows 11 really wants to use Edge, it will use Edge no matter what

Slx

Re: Maybe they like paying fines?

They can appeal through a few layers of EU court processes, but they eventually have to pay up if they lose the appeals. Microsoft paid € equivalent of US$611 million in 2004.

It was fined again in 2013 for similar reasons .. €561 million.

The formula for EU fines has moved to a % of global turnover, because for some of these mega corporations it's chickenfeed if they get fined a few million, or even tens of millions.

To be fair to the EU institutions, they do follow through consistently and tend to pursue cases quite methodically and without backing down.

Lobbying in Europe tends to be aimed more at the legislative processes than after the fines have been issued as it goes into court processes at that stage, which can't really be lobbied.

Slx

Maybe they like paying fines?

This looks like it will walk straight into a EU anti trust fine. Can’t really see how it won’t.

Reg scribe spends 80 hours in actual metaverse … and plans to keep visiting

Slx

A slight challenge …

Now all he has to do is convince all the pensioners and conspiracy theorists on Facebook to put on VR headsets…

I’m reminded of British retailer Marks and Spencer, with its trendy food hall, catering to the grab and go generation bolted a dowdy, but desperately trying to be trendy, clothing store that is your go-to destination for pyjamas if you suddenly need to go to hospital, bland medium quality business attire, or sensible Christmas presents for elderly relatives. It’s a national treasure, but it’s a gloriously mismatched set of target audiences.

Apple is beginning to undo decades of Intel, x86 dominance in PC market

Slx

Why is the speed of switch in anyway surprising?

They had to make a clean switch fairly quickly. People were already avoiding upgrading the 16” MacBook Pro as they didn’t want to be stuck with the previous processor platform.

Also the performance boost being touted by Apple and by independent reviews of the first MacBooks with ARM chips was extremely positive and the switchover seems to be pretty smooth.

Had they dragged it out, they’d have just lost upgrade sales and had to support multiple lines rather than what’s usually a very slim portfolio of models.

Intel’s biggest risk is it’s own inertia. The level of dominance they had for so long has probably not been great for the industry. Hopefully the ARM chips and AMD drive serious completion and we might see some acceleration of innovation.

Also I’m not sure that this will drive change in the PC market, which is basically generic Windows machines.

Apple has always been in its own niche / bubble. I don’t think that really changes and in general PC makers can’t make that switch, as few, if any of them, have the technical resources to do so on their own and they don’t have control over the OS or software ecosystems.

UK Treasury and Bank of England starting to sound serious about 'Britcoin'

Slx

Hmm, if it’s anything as well organised as the printed currency you won’t be able to use Scottish or Northern Irish issued coins in England, without some jobsworth calling the police and accusing you of attempting to passing fake currency …

Google's Pixel 6 fingerprint reader is rubbish because of 'enhanced security algorithms'

Slx

Re: How is this even a thing in 2021?

Which is a total disaster during COVID and face masks. I’ve either had to pay with my watch or go back to using contactless cards, as the whole thing is so awkward now.

AI algorithms can help erase bright streaks of internet satellites – but they cannot save astronomy

Slx

More social media, less science... Sums up modern decline towards stupidity

I appreciate that ubiquitous global communications is great but, when consider that most of it will be pointless scrolling of social media and high speed conspiracy theories, you begin to wonder.

Observing the universe is one of those profound and enlightening things that lets us contemplate who and why we are. Staring up there and not knowing and opening your mind to infinite questions that stretch our intellect to the limit, or just imagining what might be out there is just part of what has always driven us to expand our minds and think big.

It just feels like we are about to sell all of that for some magic beans, well ... cat videos, conspiracy theories, gossip, ranting at strangers on social media, porn, streaming videos enriching a bunch of tech bros who seem to like nothing more than blowing several small countries' annual carbon budget to get 5 mins in orbit.

I doubt we'll ever be a spacefaring species. The way things are going, it'll be Mad Max, not Star Trek.

Sigh...

Chip makers aren't all-in on metaverse hardware yet – we should know, we asked them

Slx

Why do I feel like this is like 2004 all over again ?

I appreciate the technology has moved on a lot, but the demonstrations of the Metaverse I’m seeing are very, very reminiscent of Second Life - a platform with a diehard niche audience that was supposed to be the next big thing.

The demonstration of someone using avatars at a virtual meeting has been done before and nobody really bought into it after the initial hype and it faded to niche use.

When you add headsets, it’s just unnatural and uncomfortable and seems to just be far too intrusive.

Good technology tends to disappear into the background, so useful things and work almost like magic. To me, VR is still extremely clunky and far more suited to game play than real world uses.

When I’ve expressed scepticism about VR, I have found I’m dismissed as “old” or “not getting it”. I remain very underwhelmed by it and I won’t be holding my breath for a revolution, certainly based on current technology.

Even simple immersive tech like 3D TV remains a bit of a gimmick, despite decades of promise.

My view of it is that we are going to need practical holography before VR gets integrated into real life.

Xiaomi has developed a mini heat pipe so your smartphone doesn't get too hot to handle

Slx

Wasn't this a feature of the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 several years ago?

22-year-old Brit accused of Twitter SIM-swap heists charged with $784k cryptocurrency theft

Slx

Re: Not using online banking apps - advice please (genuine question)

It depends on what technologies your bank is using. Some of their multi-factor security's good, some if it is awful.

If you're just using passwords / SMS authentication it's pretty weak.

Any particular reason why you'd be reluctant to use an app with an authentication step ?

One of my banks uses an app with a push notification and authentication through either biometrics or a long pin, which must be entered on the device before you can access your accounts online (on the web or in the app)

If you are making a funds transfer, it still requires the little 'calculator' device and runs an app on the chip on your debit card, with a challenge / response code. It's old fashioned, clunky but it's entirely offline, which I like as an extra step.

Slx

Re: Some potting processes must be flawed

I've only ever replaced a SIM twice - lost one and another was just faulty.

First time was a physical SIM swap in a store, which required photo ID (passport / driving licence) and a printout of a bill.

Second time, they physically posted the SIM to the registered address and were very reluctant to do it in-store.

You'd need pretty robust internal security systems to prevent a rogue employee doing something though.

eSIMs certainly make it easier or at least faster, as you're removing any physical steps.

Slx

Re: access to the 2FA number

Two of my banks use push notifications to an app and the phone’s biometrics to authenticate transactions.

Remember when you thought fax machines were dead-matter teleporters? Ah, just me, then

Slx

There was ISDN ‘Group 4 Fax’ which never really gained all that much use.

If you’re using Fax over IP, it’s usually a traditional fax machine over a VoIP gateway and depending on the latency and packet losses the performance can be acceptable or the fax session can just fail. T.38 is a work around, but it’s really just a hack to keep an obsolete technology running on modern infrastructure.

It’s not just the US where most phone lines are in reality just VoBB (voice over broadband). It’s the same across Europe and elsewhere.

The plan here in Ireland, for example, is for a completely end of TDM based PSTN by sometime in 2022. The legacy telephone exchanges are being scrapped.

If you’ve a fibre, cable or VDSL line here, your phone service is already VoIP through a home gateway device. However, you won’t be able to order new exchange based voice early soon.

ISDN (BRA) is also being withdrawn. They have a contingency to support it for legacy customers using a limited number of Ericsson AXE and Alcatel E10 remote units, but only for a few years. There’s no intention of supporting ISDN beyond that and there isn’t any vendor support to do so, even if they wanted to.

They’re using MSANs to replace what’s left of the copper voice network, really just as a bridging measure. A dial tone from a wall jack will be around for a while, but the default option is VoIP on your own equipment.

It’s amazing though when you consider how long the analog POTS protocol and interface has lasted. A telephone from the 1930s, with a modular plug fitted would still be able to make and receive calls over a modern ATA (if it can accept pulse dial.) The basic analog interface hasn’t changed in nearly a century.

Slx

POTS, at least in the traditional sense of dedicated mainframe like hardware exchanges is gone of going.

I got a notice in Ireland that my local OpenEir Nokia (CIT Alcatel) E10 switch, that had been reliably chugging voice bits since 1981 and ISDN bytes from some later date and that has been through various upgrades and generations of software and hardware, is now replaced by rather boring Nokia MSAN and some VoIP softswitch running on generic servers in a generic data centre.

So I think the end is neigh for what remains of TDM and SS7. If they’re not gone already, they’re going in the next few years. Vendor support is no longer there and they’re too costly to maintain.

Slx

I was cleaning out my old junk in the attic and found a fax machine and decided to give it a go and see if it would still work. So I plugged it into my VoIP line on a FritzBox and sent a test fax, to my surprise, it worked fine. Seems it had no issues with VoIP instead of old fashioned TDM voice switching.

Apple seeks geniuses to work on 6G cellular modem before it's even shipped own 5G chip

Slx

Oberbranded G Generations.

These incremental changes in G are just marketing hype

Revolutionary:

2G - made reliable data connectivity possible.

3G - made some kind of mobile browsing and video feasible

4G - true mobile broadband, comparable to being on a fixed line connection and transition to all IP infrastructure, VoLTE etc begins.

Evolutionary:

5G - faster, but it’s just evolved LTE - nice to have but nothing that changes my world. Improved latency, but that also applies to fully deployed 4G. There were steps along the way.

6G - does anyone really care?!

Trick or treat? Massive solar storm could light up American skies this Halloween

Slx

Far more likely in Europe !

Given European population centres are far further north than most of their counterparts in North America, and any of their counterparts in the USA other than Anchorage which is still significantly further Southern than Reykjavik, it’s far more likely it will be seen in Europe than anywhere else.

If you consider Montreal is *south* of Paris.

Most of Northern Europe’s cities : London, Dublin, Brussels, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Berlin, etc are all at Canadian latitudes.

Dublin for example being at same latitude as Edmonton, Alberta. London is very slightly north of Calgary.

We’ve very distorted mental view of maps.

Ireland warned it could face 'rolling blackouts' if it doesn't address data centres' demand for electricity

Slx

It’s not so much of a tax issue as it is an inability to physically ramp up infrastructure fast enough to meet demand.

There are huge wind power projects in the pipeline but, it’s still an isolated grid in a small country with a population of 4.9 million (or 6.8 million if you include the all island aspect of the grid).

The distribution networks and grid are public utilities, but the generation capacity is provided purely commercially. So any extra power supply has to come from commercial providers in an open market, not the state or public money. The publicly owned ESB still owns a lot of generation capacity, but it operates as a commercial entity, just with public shareholding and there are other purely commercial generators.

The scale of the data centres has a limit and interconnection possibilities are limited by distance. There’s a UK - Irish connector, but the UK system is similarly quite tight for capacity and there’s a french interconnection due on stream in a couple of years.

There’ll have to be a limit on what can be added to the demand side or it will utterly sink the Irish grid and also fail to achieve green energy targets.

We’ve also seen the most inefficient (from a CO2 output and economic point of view) power plants removed from the grid here. So that’s also bringing supply tighter.

Ireland also operates a carbon tax regime, so carbon intensive power is significantly more expensive.

Some of the data centre operators are also directly financing windfarm development, on and off shore, which has a big positive impact, so does the increased demand for green energy as it’s driving up commercial investment in off shore wind which has the upside of driving down overall Irish CO2 emissions.

You also can’t just site data centres anywhere, as the population isn’t uniformly spread, so the grid infrastructure reflects that and there is MASSIVE opposition to new overhead lines in Ireland, so that will probably limit data centres to Dublin, Cork, Shannon Estuary etc.

We saw that happened when Apple tried to develop a large data centre in rural county Galway, it was mired in years of planning objections and they eventually gave up entirely.

So it’s not really just a case of tax / finances or lack of resources. There’s a cost/benefit analysis. A carbon footprint analysis and it’s constrained by Ireland’s isolated grid.

There are limits to what you can do in any grid, but an isolated one like here has a lot of constraints.

The regulator can also simply lodge planning objections to new projects or just refuse connection. If the supply isn’t there, it isn’t there. They’re not going to connect loads that can’t be reasonably supplied.

UK Telecoms Diversification Taskforce says Ofcom should take lead to ensure telcos don't rely on too few suppliers

Slx

We keep going on about 5G networks, but there's so much Huawei in fibre access networks i.e. FTTC (VDSL) and FTTH in the UK, Ireland and many other countries.

You'd just wonder what your traffic is passing through. I'd have doubts that most of the telcos really know what they have in their network other than they're plugging together increasingly complicated 'black boxes' and most of them outsource almost everything to the vendors anyway and have little or no serious skills in-house anymore.

Often entire networks are being delivered as 'turn key' projects.

China has a satellite with an arm – and America worries it could be used to snatch other spacecraft

Slx

There really needs to be some kind of stronger and more enforced international agreements on satellites, particularly about what to do with the junk. We can't really afford to just junk another chunk of environment to the point that it's unusable.

If useful orbits end up full of fragments and broken up satellites, we're going to lose easy access to Space.

We seem to have materialized in a universe in which Barney the Purple Dinosaur is designing iPhones for Apple

Slx

iPadOS certainly has its strong points, but it has a lot of issues that make it quite awkward to work with as a serious computer:

1) The UI is obviously constrained by being a touch interface, which is fantastic for media consumption and manipulation of things on screen for art, music and so on. You can create all sorts of wonderful touch interaction, but it's extremely awkward for multitasking or dealing with any kind of complicated stuff that would usually involve manipulating multiple windows.

2) The lack of proper access to a file system is just annoying beyond belief. It's fine if you want to just treat an iPad as an iPad, but it's not a notebook replacement.

I've brought an iPad pro of a previous generation with me as a work machine and it was frankly like trying to work with one hand tied behind your back for a lot of tasks that would take 2 seconds on a Mac and it's not due to a lack of familiarity - it's just awkward.

If I could plug in the magic keyboard and hey presto! it's a Mac, I'd absolutely buy one. They're a really nice piece of kit.

In the meantime, I'm happy enough to bring a MacBook Pro around with me and really it's not that heavy or bulky either.

I'm looking forward to seeing what they do with the MBP with the M series processors. It could end up being a stunning machine.

Slx

If the iPad could run iPadOS as the full macOS when a trackpad and keyboard are attached, I'd consider it.

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