* Posts by Frederic Bloggs

365 publicly visible posts • joined 17 Aug 2010


Samsung gets 2-year contract extensions to provide rugged handsets for UK's troubled Emergency Services Network

Frederic Bloggs
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The problem is that the User Services (or to be more specific: the Home Office) seem to think that they need a "one thing does everything" approach (on Android), whilst ignoring the fact that most high bandwidth data doesn't use one's handheld TETRA radio. The little that does could be accommodated through one's smartphone over IP and, if you really must, through your own MVNO. You don't need to spend 100s of extra pounds on smart phone that do "press to talk" (badly, especially compared to Tetra).

But then TETRA (in the shape of Airwave) has always been looked down on by Government who have regarded it as too expensive. It was them that sold it off into the private sector in the first place. As a monopoly. Several times - just look at the list of previous "owners". Needless to say the Free Market has worked its magic and costs have risen well above inflation ever since. When ESN finally beds down into something useful, they will repeat the same mistakes all over again.

The Android thing they have is interesting, because they *still* appear to be under the delusion that they can buy an "off the shelf" app to do anything they want - like call and dispatch - which requires a whole raft of specialist, low volume, back end and operational programming to achieve. Just where are you going to get, for example, a police, fire or ambulance dispatch system from? The App Store?

Rails waves goodbye to mimemagic, welcomes Marcel to fix GPL MIME drama

Frederic Bloggs

I am (as usual) confused

Isn't it the case that using a GPL2 library is different from incorporating the source of that library (and possibly modifying it) - thereby triggering the necessity of publishing the (modified) version of the library?

If it happens that using that library means actually "including" some source code (verbatim) as part of the startup of a script (which is also source code); bearing in mind that such libraries loadable packages as part of a distro or pulled in from a repo as part of the install process. How that is functionally different from linking in binary blobs instead?

If I have misunderstood this over the years, then there are some very large companies out there that are going to have a nasty shock - and may react sufficiently badly to shutdown "open source" altogether.

Delayed UK digital border system was only stable enough to be used by 4% of intended users, MPs say

Frederic Bloggs

Re: 7,000 expected to use it by June 2021

Well yes. If you mean that replacement for customs control is causing sooo much trouble for both exporting and importing (especially, but not limited to, the EU), that more and more enterprises are not bothering to do either if they can avoid it. They are pivoting to UK markets for (now) cheaper parts and lower cost of sales.

Which, if successful, will be claimed as a "Brexit Bonus", but I am sure is actually completely unintentional because none of the new IT, that is required works, and the old system is capacity limited.

It occurs to me that, if the "government" had actually started upgrading all the necessary IT (that any Fule Would Kno would be needed) and been seen to be doing it successfully, they might have got a better deal.

It only took four years and thousands of complaints but ICANN finally kills off rogue Indian domain registrar

Frederic Bloggs
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Chicken or Egg?

Is it just me or are there striking similarities between the behaviour of ICANN and Nominet? Is this some disease that tends to afflict all registrars over time, probably caused by the lorry loads of money they receive for doing nothing very much? The US Government got a lot of (political) stick for "running the Internet" before ICANN, but at least they were somewhat competent. Or are ICANN and Nominet locked in some titanic battle competing for the highest egregiousness score that they can achieve?

Quixotic Californian crusade to officially recognize the hellabyte and hellagram is going hella nowhere

Frederic Bloggs

Re: B, H

Well, not deliberately anyway.

Boeing 737 Max will return to flight after software updates, says EU's aviation regulator

Frederic Bloggs

Re: more than software

And don't forget another thing that Boeing said, and then signed on the dotted line to honour: We will pay you $1 million for every pilot that needs to be recertified.

The revolution will not be televised because my television has been radicalised

Frederic Bloggs


You forgot "animal rights".

Please, tell us more about how just 60 hydrogen-powered 5G drones could make 400,000 UK base stations redundant

Frederic Bloggs

Yes, what exactly have Captain Black and/or the Mysterons got to say on the matter? I'm guessing they won't like it much either.

Frederic Bloggs

Re: Now I'm confused...

Clearly, you are a new reader or didn't follow the link. Bill Ray is ex-vulture and has quite a bit of hands on experience of connecting remote places to t'internet. As well as being a thoroughly decent chap. But anyone with some actual experience of radio will be asking pointed questions. Such as:

a) There are 10 (or 12) million people inside the M25 ring. What aggregated bandwidth does said population currently use (and do they consider it to be "adequate" anyway)?

b) How many flying thingies would it take to service just London's population. Now add every other conurbation in the UK before hand waving a lot about the "rural" internet? You may find this article on Erlangs useful to answer this question.

c) How much spectrum would it take to up and downlink it all?

d) Indeed would there be any spectrum left for anybody else?

Even dear old Elon has figured out that he's going to need to fill the sky with 60,000 bits of junk satellites just to service some of the internet not->slow spots in the US, never mind the rest of the world. I know he thinks that's enough for "the world", but nobody else does.

After all Elon isn't the first person to try this, Iridium started all this off in the 1990s and have gone bankrupt IIRC twice since. Iridium gives you a whole 25 kilo "baud" (probably bits), at least whilst a satellite is in view. BTW, Iridium had problems with their satellites being "too bright" as well.

Excel Hell: It's not just blame for pandemic pandemonium being spread between the sheets

Frederic Bloggs

Re: This/These

Certainly if you want to do complex things efficiently, say a real time world wide distributed messaging system with ~6000 concurrent users, then you need to dig a bit deeper. Or you simply display that important attribute of a programmer "hubris" and then decide, as I did, to just start writing that app to learn perl. After all: "how hard can it be?". Answer: after understanding some subtle concepts, and using lots of examples written by other people, "not that hard at all".

Another benefit is that this nearly 93000 line perl program (obviously split up into modules) written for linux/unix, runs on Windows with only about 20 extra lines (all to do with networking).

But for this job. Simple basic perl and some CPAN modules is all you need. I could probably write it in less than 100 lines (assuming no extra processing other than accepting lots of little spreadsheets or CSV files, some checks and adding them to a database). You will need to know that @thing is a array and %thing is a map - but then you need to know that for any language. None of the other things you mention would be required. Definitely no magic nor subtle concepts required here.

Frederic Bloggs

Re: Alternative?

It's deeply unfashionable, I know, but could I gently point out that perl was not only designed for this sort of job, but also has modules that, for instance, can read Excel spreadsheets directly. If you insist on doing the extra 'convert to CSV/TSV|SV' or whatever step, it has a module that can read that *intelligently* as well. Perl has probably the best regex engine out of all the mainstream languages out there for processing data and transforming it. It can export the result straight into just about any database that exists. If you are mad enough, you can write the result back into new Excel spreadsheet file :-)

Perl has an IMO undeserved reputation for being difficult to learn. But any programmer worthy of the name could learn enough to do this sort of job by reading "Learning Perl" and some judicious use of StackOverflow in a hour or three. This sort of task is a very good first practical program to write,

I cannot stress enough that the "Practical Extraction and Report Language" was designed for these jobs - the clue is in the name. And it's faster than Python.

What a Hancock-up: Excel spreadsheet blunder blamed after England under-reports 16,000 COVID-19 cases

Frederic Bloggs

Re: A technical issue was identified

I bet Jeremy Hunt is glad is he safely on the back benches.

Frederic Bloggs

Re: CSV?

That'll be the "integrity check" that was both missing and the error message that was ignored in this case then?

A spreadsheet is something user fiddles with. It is a not a reliable, appropriate, nor scalable means of data exchange. QED.

Forms of CSV with field definitions, validators and some means of batch (and message) integrity checks is a bog standard - and effective - means of data exchange which, incidentally, underlies far (faaaaaaaar) more of world's data exchange than, clearly, you would be comfortable with.

Frederic Bloggs


If you really want an interchange standard for a transaction log with "lots of rows" that Excel (other spreadsheet programs are available) can read, what is wrong with CSV? With a bit of care it could even count as EDI and bring standards right up to the late '70s.

Who knows, one could even write a 10 30 line perl python program to add the whole lot to any database of your choice.

Don’t lump us in with Facebook, internet infrastructure companies warn European Union

Frederic Bloggs

"Courts would stop them", maybe in six months or, more likely not at all, because I doubt there is a single "Judge William Alsup" style judge - who actually understands the issues - in the UK Judiciary.

Even if there are, there is a good chance that they would recuse themselves because they know more about the subject than they should and therefore might be biased.


So... just 'Good' then? KFC pulls Finger Lickin' slogan while pandemic rumbles on

Frederic Bloggs

Re: Stats

For the record, I am one of the 29 that prefers dog shit. And I like that as much as my dog does.

VMware to stop describing hardware as ‘male’ and ‘female’ in new terminology guide

Frederic Bloggs

Re: While we're on the subject…

The "Dim Web"?

GnuTLS patches huge security hole that hung around for two years – worse than Heartbleed, says Google cryptoboffin

Frederic Bloggs

Re: One rule for them...

Can one now compile exim out of Canonical's box and have it able to correctly recognise and then handle connections with EC certificates?

Lock down your data – or get the cheque book out: ICO privacy violation fines are rising, say lawyers

Frederic Bloggs


Point taken for SMEs, but British Airways? Marriott?

Google+ replacement ‘Currents’ to end beta and debut in G Suite on July 6th

Frederic Bloggs

El Reg Randonumerator

Dear Vultures

Please could you fix your Randonumerator so that the statistics at least add up, even if it doesn't add any more clarity to what's really going on at Slack et al.

Attorney General: We didn't need Apple to crack terrorist's iPhones – tho we still want iGiant to do it in future

Frederic Bloggs

They probably got into it as soon as they got the necessary update from their phone cracking supplier. But the politics of the situation are about the principle of getting the back door, not whether they can manage without - and in particular - without, necessarily, having the physical device. Also it's about "not having to ask someone first". They like *do* to poke about secretly :-)

So why announce now? Well they think this reinforces the line that this sort of thing is "difficult" - "just look how long this has taken!" etc. Pure theatre.

NHS contact tracing app isn't really anonymous, is riddled with bugs, and is open to abuse. Good thing we're not in the middle of a pandemic, eh?

Frederic Bloggs

List of people that need to know:

3. Carefully vetted and NDAed medical researchers.

4. Epidemiologists and other qualified medical people actually working on the problem.

1. Interested parties that will pay the NHS (small but always welcome) amounts of money for information on which they can put on a 1000% markup selling to the highest bidder. And, who knows, we may get a small bung.

2. Finally, something to track the population with and be used to install software of our choosing on their phones.

No wait ... There's something gone wrong with the HTML on this comment, probably a bug, somewhere.

If it feels like the software world is held together by string and a prayer, we don't blame you: Facebook SDK snafu breaks top iOS apps

Frederic Bloggs

By all accounts, it *is* nice to work at Facebook and you get paid rather well too...

What do you call megabucks Microsoft? No really, it's not a joke. El Reg needs you

Frederic Bloggs


What's wrong with M$? It's short and and descriptive.

OK brainiacs, we've got an IT cold case for you: Fatal disk errors on an Amiga 4000 with 600MB external SCSI unless the clock app is... just so

Frederic Bloggs

Re: The real mystery is how Paula discovered the clock work around ...

And there was me thinking that the surname might be "Dei"...

Yes, yes, I'm out the door already.

Upstart Americans brandish alligators at the almighty Reg Standards Soviet

Frederic Bloggs

Re: An alternative measure for social distancing

I suspect I have a similar walking stick, made in Iwama, I was toying with adding iron caps on the ends as well, but for a different reason. Perhaps now I could get away with it :-)

Frederic Bloggs

Re: Obvious question for the Australian Embassy...

What about Wallabies? Can we get away with one, or are two required (one in front and one behind)?

Europe calls for single app to track coronavirus. Meanwhile America pretends it isn’t trying to build one at all

Frederic Bloggs

Re: So, Musk bought a thousand ventilators

Erm... Elon is not the dickhead that is being portrayed. The NHS is now actively using CPAP machines with an added oxygen feed (either by using an inline "T" valve or using the masks that are already adapted for adding extra oxygen). Their purpose to provide added support before patients become too sick, to prevent them having to require sedation and ventilation in a full service ICU bed.

In other words it is successfully being used for new patients that present with breathing difficulties but can manage with extra oxygen and nursing. Another side benefit is that CPAP machines used in this way don't need 50L of oxygen a minute and this allows more patients to be hooked up the hospital oxygen system at a time.

Finally CPAP machines are available, they work, and are relatively cheap (£300/£500 a pop to the NHS). Cheaper still if Mercedes F1 get their way. They say they can produce 1000 units per week, starting next week.

Stob's vital message to Britain's IT nation: And no, it's not about that

Frederic Bloggs

Re: I thought it was

Some highlights in my 1st year at school were English lessons, where the English master had his own erm... unique set of phonetics. They usually came out after spelling tests, and included:

A for antidisestablishmentarianism or sometimes Aloysius (master's family ghost).

B for brat

C for contrarianism

D for dunce

E for elephantiasis.


I for Ignatius (name of his bike)


N for nit

If there was anybody else on here in 1B that year, perhaps they can fill in some of the blanks. Among this bloke's eccentricities was that he claimed that he had written a book about Finnish prepositions - and before any Finnish scholars out there take me up on this, I am already aware that there may be a oxymoron lurking in this sentence.

And yes, you may have guessed it: O IS for oxymoron.

Taiwan collars coronavirus quarantine scofflaws with smartphone geo-fences. So, which nation will be next?

Frederic Bloggs
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Re: So does anyone read Pre 1989 history?

Meanwhile, just over Canada's southern border...

British Army adopts WhatsApp for formal orders as coronavirus isolation kicks in

Frederic Bloggs

Re: Whatsnext

No point. There's very few people there. Those that are will likely not be in a week's time.

What's inside a tech freelancer's backpack? That's right, EVERYTHING

Frederic Bloggs

Re: Power Blocks

One for the portable, one for the little 5 port switch, one (or sometimes two) for a suitcase full of radio gear (don't ask) that I am "testing". Then there is the charger for my phone (or a customer's) ...

Frederic Bloggs

Power Blocks

Just what is it about power blocks? No-one has ever got one that isn't already full. At home, not even me! So I am completely with Dabbsy here. I always carry one in my rucksack, it is always a six way because not only do I need at least three but, far more often than not, the people I am with need the rest. I also have a continental two pin to six way 13A block, that I made, for outings in the EU.

Vivo's APEX 2020 concept smartphone grabs life by the gimbals to shoot stable snaps

Frederic Bloggs

Sony (amongst others) make sensors and other imaging chippery which end up in many phones. They (or someone else) may now be experimenting with phone sized OIS.

Frederic Bloggs

Why not have internal OIS on a phone?

After all, there are plenty of examples out there. Even Canon now offer internal OIS on their latest full frame mirrorless R5. Many of their small snappers have it. Sony (where many phones get their imaging chips from) have had internal OIS on most of their models for years. There are many other examples including Panasonic (another source of imaging chippery), Fuji and just about anyone else that makes cameras worth having. I'm sure Nikon will catch up soon :-)

Ofcom measured UK's 5G radiation and found that, no, it won't give you cancer

Frederic Bloggs

Re: Microwaves are good for you.

Since the anti-5G brigade are allowed to pretend that there some correlation with things that are demonstrably figments of their imagination, I fail see why someone can't point one out based on some actual facts.

Who knows? It might even be true. Especially if someone could actually tease out the effects of a few micro watts of 5G mm wavelength signal out of the 1.4KW/m2 that that sodding great bright thing up in the sky bathes us with.

Frederic Bloggs
Black Helicopters

Psst. Don't tell them that all those dangerous rays that they use on their phones to arrange their next stash from Glastonbury High Street (apparently) are coming from the bell tower in St John's Church.

Frederic Bloggs

Re: Dangerous levels of EMF

What happens if someone else's satellite parks in an unauthorised LEO? Will they send a LEO up there to get it towed away?

Frederic Bloggs

Re: I'll wait it out.

"something that needs several kilowatts to run"

I'm afraid that this is yet more FUD. Somewhere between 50 -200 watts depending on what one counts as the "transmitter" is much nearer the mark. But you need a small 19" rack panel to put it all in.

Oh, and don't forget the GPS feed and UPS.

Perhaps you meant Kilo GRAMS?

Xerox hopes wining and dining HP shareholders will convince them of takeover

Frederic Bloggs

Re: Still seems to be the wrong way round

They are, after all, acknowledged experts in this sort of thing. With a long list of well judged and successful acquisitions over the last few years.

Oracle tells Supremes: Fair use? Pah! There's nothing fair about 'Google's copying'

Frederic Bloggs


Well? What happens to OpenJDK if Oracle wins?


Uncle Sam: Secretly spying on networks around the world without telling anyone, Huawei? But that's OUR job

Frederic Bloggs


We've heard, no wait... Someone mentioned that word a while back on some PP presentation, I wanted to ask what it meant, but we ran out of time for questions. Is it about anything important?

Astroboffins may have raged at Elon's emissions staining the sky, but all those satellites will be more boon than bother

Frederic Bloggs

Re: Junk Facts

But nice to see a mention of Amateur Radio. We still exist at El Reg then.

But "swarms" of satellites, no. Less than one hundred.

Ah, night shift in the 1970s. Ciggies, hipflasks, ADVENT... and fault-prone disk drives the size of washing machines

Frederic Bloggs

No-one seems to have mentioned the smell and then that noise...

In the 70s (and into the 80s before PCs and "winchester disks" become a thing that got stuffed into toy computers called PCs) I spent many happy hours looking after ICL and CDC disk packs. Maybe I was erm "lucky" but invariably a head crash would be preceded by a funny (but very distinctive) smell which, if caught early, would save the heads from actual destruction. There would be a small amount of oxide on the (usually) one head which could be cleaned with the special spatula and early form of wet wipes (they came dry and you wet them with isopropanol). But if you missed the smell, then the next stage emitted a characteristic "ping, ping ..." noise. There was still a 50/50 chance of saving the heads, although by this stage more than one would be affected. If all these clues were missed then that loud humming noise would tell you that the head assembly needed replacement after a tedious cleanup of the drive bay and filters and another trophy (or two) could be added to the "groovy disk" platter collection on the wall.

Not doing an adequate cleanup and then crashing the expensive drive alignment test disk was also erm... a strong learning experience!

Senior health tech pros warn NHS England: Be transparent with mass database trawl or face public backlash

Frederic Bloggs

GDPR? Informed Consent?

Have they heard of it? Or, when there is (considerably more than they will ask for) money to be made: "oh well, it'll be OK. No-one really cares anyway".

I wonder who gets to keep the fine?

How do you ascertain user acceptability if you keep killing off the users?

Frederic Bloggs

Re: car replacements

If James May is any guide, a Fiat Panda 4x4 would seem to fit the (or maybe just a) bill. I know two owners who love them and, unlike the larger excellent Skoda Yeti (a Clarkson recommendation remember), it is still made.

Why is the printer spouting nonsense... and who on earth tried to wire this plug?

Frederic Bloggs

Re: glow worms?

Perhaps crows are more intelligent than some "sparkies".

We asked for your Fitbit horror stories and, oh wow, did you deliver: Readers sync their teeth into 'junk' gizmos

Frederic Bloggs

It isn't just Fitbit

I only sync manually but my Alta HR became very reluctant to sync - and then screen cover came off (Oh and the strap started to irritate after two years).

So I cast around for a (hopefully cheaper) replacement and I bought an Honor 4 HR (as recommended by Which). It looks stunning, colour amoled screen and only £30. Well firstly the app requires one to sell give away your soul by having to load Huawei's "play services" as well as the app. Fortunately I have an old phone with nothing else on it and, as said earlier, I only sync twice a day manually. Then one discovers that on the 19th August there was an app update that disabled permanent HR recording. Also it doesn't auto recognise anything. You have to tell it to start recording whatever sort of exercise you are doing and then it starts the HR, So of course the obvious thing is to start an exercise and never stop it (actually you have to do it daily). Then the real reason for disabling HR becomes apparent - the battery is flat after about three days. The watch is recording HR data during exercise and you can see your HR on the watch, but you can't then see it on the app. The daily HR graph stays resolutely blank.

I needed something under £100 that did at least what the Alta did - I bought another Fitbit, an Inspire HR. Which seems to be working just fine and, apart from the app displaying "searching for device" when it obviously means "syncing", it syncs much quicker than the Alta HR. It still sends the HR data to HQ to be <cough> processed, so it still needs two syncs in the morning (with a decent gap between them) to see whether one is still alive. Yes, the screen is nothing like as good as the Huawei but it tells the time and still auto recognises most of what I do in the way of exercise. And I can now wear it in the shower. Bonus.

For my limited use case as a historical exercise and sleep monitor it works just fine. And the battery lasts at least a week.

Hack a small airplane? Yes, we CAN (bus) – once we physically break into one, get at its wiring, plug in evil kit...

Frederic Bloggs

Re: I'm a GA Pilot and I've wondered

And, if necessary, look at the backup instruments which are the old fashioned analogue type.

Also CANBUS connectors are not usually in nice accessible places and, should you be thinking of fiddling there in flight - particularly on a retrofit - it might be rather obvious when you stick your head under the panel trying to find one. Mind you, whilst you are doing this you'll probably be fouling the yoke/stick and bumping lord know what. Meanwhile the pilot (seated to the left of you), could be wondering what you're up to. After all, at this point you be will be trying to kneel on a seat that is too small and the only thing that will be approximately upright will be your bum.

It would be interesting to see the result of a loop with a 180 on top with you in this position (4G will likely not be kind).