* Posts by Pen-y-gors

3782 publicly visible posts • joined 1 Oct 2010

The AI arms race could give us the cool without the cruel


Telemarketer tactics

I always find the most satisfying answer is to let them get started then say "Hang on, there's someone at the door - I think it's the parcel I'm expecting. Back in a sec" then just leave them hanging until they give up (often 4-5 minutes)

A variation if they ask for to speak to Mr Penygors is to say "He's just seeing a client out, he'll be with you in a moment" - same result

I believe that this sort of thing is a very socially aware and kind thing to do, as it prevents someone else being irritated by them for a whole 5 minutes. And those minutes of positive karma add up. And more satisfying than asking them if their mother knows they work in organised crime.

The world of work is broken and it's Microsoft's fault


Shorter week?

The sensible answer here would seem to be for office workers using MS products to go down to a three-day week (from home) (with no cut in pay) and let AI bots attend the meetings and deal with all the emails.

Or is that too obvious?

Elon Musk's cost-cutting campaign at Twitter extended to not paying rent, claims landlord



Presumably he sacked the entire accounts department because they weren't cutting code.

And contracts entered into by the previous manager 's are still binding. The company hasn't changed.

Riding in Sidecar: How to get a Psion online in 2023


Very interesting

This could be useful for Archives. It's not unknown for people to deposit granddad's "papers" with a local Record Office, said papers often containing a load of old floppies or even, gulp, 3" Amstrad disks. How to retrieve the content? Getting a working Amstrad PCW may be possible, but how to link it to more modern machines to transfer the data? Both of these solutions could be quite helpful.

Non-binary DDR5 is finally coming to save your wallet


Non-binary memory?

That's going to make some gammons very red! I mean, what toilets will it use?

SpaceX chases government cash with Starshield satellites


Shield from what?

With a name like Starshield you'd hope they were designed to shield the Earth from the light reflecting off all those Starlink solar panels. Too much to hope for.

NASA's cubesat makes it to the Moon to test orbit for human visitors



How exactly is an elliptical orbit "near rectilineal", other than at an extremely small scale?

OneWeb takes $229m hit from satellites not returned by Russia


Re: Thieving thieves will thieve...

More likely they're ripping them apart to get the chips, so they can put them in the looted washing machines they crippled by taking the chips out to put in their tanks.


Re: They already are

"the direct cause of the war was"...Putin deciding to try and exterminate Ukraine and its people.


How this Mars rover used its MOXIE to convert CO2 into precious oxygen


And energy?

What is the energy input? Heating things to 800C needs quite some oomph. How good are solar panels and wind turbines on Mars?

== Bring us Dabbsy back! ==

Underwater datacenter will open for business this year


Re: At 700ft Nobody can hear your data scream...

Yeah, some sort of fluid.

Scuba-diving maintenance engineer just swims down, opens the fluid-lock door, goes in and does the fix.

For a large installation might even be worth engineers doing shifts in an attached pressure chamber to save time.


Ode to an On-Call Engineer, whose scuba kit failed

Full fathom five thy father lies;

Of his bones are coral made;

Those are pearls that were his eyes:

Nothing of him that doth fade,

But doth suffer a sea-change

Into something rich and strange.

Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell:


Hark! now I hear them,—ding-dong, bell.

USB-C to hit 80Gbps under updated USB4 v. 2.0 spec


Re: Oh good

Could we go classical - current version is USB inst. Previous is USB ult. next is USB prox.


Re: EU will love this

You send old kit to landfill?

My office is more like a museum of IT. I have cables going back decades. Also hard drives, laptops, storage, kettles, desktops, monitors, broken mice and keyboards...

NetBSD 9.3: A 2022 OS that can run on late-1980s hardware


Yes, well, but...

...will it run on a 16K Sinclair Spectrum?

Browsers could face two regimes in Europe as UK law set to diverge from EU


To be fair...

I rather like the idea of having an option in my Firefox to refuse all non-essential cookies on all sites. And make it automatic and default refuse.

Thousands of websites run buggy WordPress plugin that allows complete takeover



There are 4000+ bakeries on t'internet with a website? Who'd have guessed.

FYI: BMW puts heated seats, other features behind paywall



Heated front seats start from $18 (£15) a month.

Well, in the UK you'd probably only want those for a few months over winter, so subscribe in November and cancel in March.

Hive to pull the plug on smart home gadgets by 2025


Reciva Radios

Some years ago I bought a Roberts internet radio, that used the Reciva service to provide information on available radio stations. It's a jolly handy bit of kit, lives by the bed, and tunes in to radio stations all over the world. It was not cheap.

Last year the new owners of Reciva announced they were shutting the service down. What does that mean? Expensive radios (almost) bricked. Mine still works to listen to stations on my 5 presets, but that's it.

I'm sure someone could have afforded to set up a new minimalist server that would have enabled the radios to keep working, even if it wasn't updated daily - Roberts weren't the only people using the service.

Oh yes, Roberts I believe offered a 20% discount on a new radio.

NYC issues super upbeat PSA for surviving the nuclear apocalypse


After the bomb

I used to work for a large insurance company. We had the usual complicated backup and recovery strategy, part of which was that a monthly(?) copy of the backup tapes of all our databases was sent down to London and put in a very old, very large safe, buried deep in the basement, and said to be immune to nuclear attack.

Given that our IT centre was based near to several likely targets of Soviet nukes, one had to wonder "Why bother?"

And would we really want to pay out on a load of life assurance claims?

British Army Twitter and YouTube feeds hijacked by crypto-promos


Building bridges?

"to put it bluntly, you can't cyber your way across a river."

Possibly not, but with good networks and drones, you can sure as heck stop the opposition getting across a river. Ask the RuZZians. And the same things can help you find and secure a good place for your engineers to build a bridge.



How does Top of The Pops help secure passwords?

And this week at number 3, we have that old favourite "password"

At number 2, is new entry "secret"

But at number one, for the two hundredth week running, is good old "1234"

Airbus flies new passenger airplane aimed at 'long, thin' routes


Re: Why

I have an old German phrase book (1960s?) which includes , under "travelling by air", the memorable phrase "Will you please open a window".


Re: Why

Problem in reverse.

Coming home to UK from Hong Kong about 30 years ago. No problem with the seating (managed to get front row with extra leg space) but it was the first flight back after the Miss World contest, and half the plane was taken up by the contestants - imagine the queues for the loos before we landed as everyone redid their slap!


Re: Low bar?

I have a lovely photo of my Grandpa standing next to a WW1 bi-plane with it's nose in a field of cabbages near Brooklands, where he was, I believe, a flying instructor. I don't know if he or a student was piloting.

But as they say, any landing you can walk away from is a good one.


Re: No space for the crew rest area

But, to be fair, how many business people really NEED to travel these days? Have they not discovered Zoom?

And bringing back the great ocean cruise ships sounds like a pretty neat idea. S.S. Oriana from Southampton to Sydney via Bombay and Singapore. And the food's better than British Airways.

SpaceX and OneWeb bury the satellite constellation hatchet


Great news for GPS

Isn't this excellent news for the Great British GPS system that will run on OneWeb low-orbit broadband satellites? Isn't that why the UK Govt bought them?

EV battery can reach full charge in 'less than 10 minutes'


Re: Full charge in 10 minutes?

Biggest problem isn't peak demand - in many areas it's the network infrastructure will be the issue. This sort of demand is the equivalent of building a new small housing estate, which may require serious upgrades to the local substations etc.

...and for something that isn't used very much.

A large majority of EV users will charge their cars at home (or work, or the supermarket) where they can quite happily have a slowish charge that takes a few hours. The only real demand for 5/10 minute charges will be at motorway (or equivalent) charging points where people are on a long journey. And if you're putting several dozen of these on the same site you might as well install a mini-nuke next door.

HP pilots paper delivery service for Instant Ink subscribers


Home delivery

I think the idea of having someone deliver printer supplies directly to your office/home is absolutely brilliant. No need to traipse round the shops.

I'm amazed that Amazon haven't thought of it already.

Oh no, wait...

No more fossil fuel or nukes? In the future we will generate power with magic dust


Time Crystals?

So we have several impossible things happening before breakfast.

One problem though is that time crystals must be tiny.

How about we harness another 'impossible' thing - the humble bumble-bee? They work on a macro scale. I know it would be a bit cruel, but couldn't we hook them up to a mini-treadmill or fly-wheel?

Photonic processor can classify millions of images faster than you can blink


What's a "category"?

"the photonics chip was able to categorize an image in under 570 picoseconds with an accuracy of 89.8-93.8 percent."

For a given value of 'categorise'?

a) There's a building in the picture

b) It's a picture of 17 Railway Sidings, East Cheam

a) There's a human in the picture

b) It's a picture of a soldier in the Russian 17th Motorised Artillery Brigade, who isn't a POW.

Elon Musk's Twitter mega-takeover likely imminent


Twitter - the new FriendsReunited

A lot to pay to kill off a web site

First Light says it's hit nuclear fusion breakthrough with no fancy lasers, magnets


Re: a country the size of Wales

But, but...Cymru already produces twice as much electricity as it consumes. We're the 5th largest electricity exporter in the world!

And if we were allowed to build our tidal lagoons we'd do even better.

Unable to write 'Amusing Weekly Column'. Abort, Retry, Fail?


Press any key to continue.

I've still not found a keyboard with an 'any' key.

But I do recall a problem in a CICS program. We had a report that the screen was stuck and just reloaded whatever the user pressed. There was a useful message, but it ended with "PF5 for Help"

(max 79 char message)

We had assumed that the user understood that PF5 was the function key. No. They typed in the literal PF5 and pressed Enter, which really twisted some knickers.

Apple seeks patent for 'innovation' resembling the ZX Spectrum, C64 and rPi 400



Presumably you plug it into the TV?


Size of a real keyboard?

My last Spectrum was in fact a full-size keyboard with a Specy motherboard etc built in

Much nicer than the dead flesh keyboard! That would have been about 1983?

Aint innovation grand!

Massive cyberattack takes Ukraine military, big bank websites offline


Re: Give the propaganda a break

You work for the FSB and I claim my £5. How's the weather in Petrograd today?


Re: US intelligence is really good

Sounds like a good time to invade Vladivostok, while the Russian Army is massing in the West.


Cut-off time?

Perhaps time for every cable in and out of Russia to go down for 'maintenance' for an unspecified lengthy period?

Amazon stretches working life of its servers an extra year, for AWS and its own ops


Amazon Prime?

Ok, I appreciate that Amazon are evil incarnate, but one of the things that really, really pisses me off is Amazon Prime.

I would be happy to pay an annual sub to have free next-day delivery. But why do they bundle in all sorts of crap services that I don't want, which then go up in cost so they can 'justify' a price rise? I don't want to watch their crappy TV. Why can't I just pay £50 p.a. for the free delivery bit?

Welsh home improvement biz fined £200,000 over campaign of 675,478 nuisance calls


Coming soon to a Priti-Patel sponsored Bill near you...


Re: 29.6p for each call

And cheaper than sending a 2nd class letter

Something 4,000 light years away emitted strange radio bursts. This is where we talk to scientists for actual info



Encoded commands to the lizard-people who are "governing" the UK?

Hardware boffin starts work on simulation of an entire IBM S/360 Model 50 mainframe



I cut my teeth on a 360/44 at St Andrews in the mid-seventies. Don't suppose there's an Algol-W or Fortran IV compiler available for the simulator?

NASA's Curiosity finds signs of ancient life on Mars. Or maybe not. More data needed


Not bad

for a machine designed to last for two years. And Opportunity lasted 14 years, on a designed lifespan of 90 days!

If NASA built cars, we'd still be driving roadworthy Model-T Fords.

Tonga takes to radio, satellite, motorboat comms to restore communications after massive volcano blast and tsunami


Did I miss something here?

The interconnected cable is broken up into two routes, and the redundancy ensures countries on the underwater fiber optic line remain connected


Less than PEACH-y: UK's plant export IT system only works with Internet Explorer


Re: A Firefox user writes...

But curiously - I use FF and it's in Welsh!

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


How can Plods tell?

I mean, this hack on the PNC, which may or may not have happened, and if it did (or didn't) would have happened (or not happened) in the past so is nothing to do with the Met. And there's no evidence of anything happening (or not happening), as #BaronessDick has shredded all the logs which might or might not have shown anything. If there was anything to show.

East Londoners nicked under Computer Misuse Act after NHS vaccine passport app sprouted clump of fake entries


What is a 'passport'

This whole covid passport thing doesn't really worry me, as I have no interest in attending any venue where they might be required! I'll stay at home and only go out to the shops for food. I'm lucky - I work from home anyway.

But do we need this mega-technical bureaucracy of apps etc? Surely the simplest starting point is showing your vaccination card(s)? I have two - one with the details of my first two jabs on, and the other with my booster. Issued by NHS Cymru. If they're worried about faking it, shove some holograms on the cards. Given that it's only a matter of managing risk, and Covid can pass around even in a room of fully-vaxed people, surely it's hardly critical if the odd un-vaxed dick-head sneaks in with some fake paperwork. Sometimes the simplest solutions are the best!

Thank you, FAQ chatbot, but if I want your help I'll ask for it


Intelligent websites?

You know you're getting autumnal when...

You go to a certain website named after a big river and under 'top picks' it offers you Adult defibrilator pads. True.

I prefer their other option (under clothing) of 'women's bottoms'