* Posts by Pen-y-gors

3530 posts • joined 1 Oct 2010

Rental electric scooters to clutter UK street scenes after Department of Transport gives year-long trial the thumbs-up

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I'm not sure how much these trials will prove. Surely a lot of the potential use will be privately owned ones that people use for a short-ish commute or run to the shops etc. The market for pick-up-and-go rental could be quite limited, and will only really apply in large towns & cities, for people who have perhaps driven in and then need to go a mile or two to other locations, as an alternative to a taxi or bus. The trial will give little evidence for overall demand and practicalities.

And for those complaining that they can be left to litter the streets? Easy, if one's been abandoned on the pavement, chuck it over a fence or in the canal.

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Re: Rental vs privately owned

Insurance: rental companies can be easily policed to check they provide insurance cover for when the renter rides into an old lady at 15mph. Harder to police for privately owned ones. If there is a requirement for licensing them, displaying insurance etc people won't bother. If they can be treated the same as bicycles (legal even with electric assistance) then the problem goes away.

LibreOffice slips out another 7.0 beta: Spreadsheets close gap with Excel while macOS users treated to new icons

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Ah CSV again. Not so much commas, as the field they're in can be delimited by " in most sensible exports. Real pain in the posterior is how Excel exports data with carriage returns in a cell. Which creates a new line in CSV, which causes some grief when trying to import into PHP - anyone got a suggestion?

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Re: Input of accents on mac

For many years on Windows I've been using a little utility called To Bach, originally developed to cope with adding a ^ to w and y in Welsh (It's called a To Bach, meaning Little Roof, or, more formally acen grom) - Basically AltGr + w gives ŵ , default is AltGr+letter puts a ^ on it - â - but it was extended to do more, much like the extended keyboard noted above AltGr+", i gives ï, AltGr+/,e gives é

A really neat bit of freeware!

One does not simply repurpose an entire internet constellation for sat-nav, but UK might have a go anyway

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This is good.

They've bought a stake in a load of existing satellites, so all we need to do is retrofit GPS functionality to the sats currently in orbit.

Can I suggest we re-start the El Reg space programme (sadly without our leader), and quickly develop a launch vehicle that can send Cummings into orbit (wearing a wet-suit and aqualung - should work, it's close to a space-suit) so that he can do the engineering.

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Re: A face-saving solution...

I suspect their exact words, actually, so long as they're not being recorded.

Honey, I built the app! Amazon's beta no-code dev platform is great for ad-hoc stuff, but not much else – yet

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Re: Programming by Pictures - been a dream for a long, long time

Ho hum.

And even if it worked (Ha!) we'd still have the old problem that 'testing' is not a concept that is understood by these would-be non-programmers.

Remember when we started getting serious spreadsheets? Which allowed non-coders in Accounts to apply complicated rules to sets of data? And all those lovely stories of companies losing millions because of an erroneous formula which wasn't tested properly (or at all)?

Same with this. They may be able to feed in some rules that produce output, but if the rules are wrong...

I think we can coin a new term "Garbage In, Garbage Out"

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Re: See also...

Somewhere I still have a copy of PCW from 1981 where TLO was the cover story. How many languages have I learnt since then?

NASA mulls going all steam-punk with a fleet of jumping robots to explore Saturn and Jupiter's mysterious moons

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If the little things can go miles at a time, how accurately can they navigate to get back to the lander to refuel?

Beware the fresh Windows XP install: Failure awaits you all with nasty, big, pointy teeth

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Almost mouse free

I have a cat in my office for most of the day, so the only furry rodents I get are the dead ones she brings in as a present for me and leaves on the floor. I think she reckons I need feeding up.

When you bork... through a storm: Liverpool do all they can to take advantage of summer transfer, er, Windows

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Re: Sounds like a night out in this hack's often less than fair city of Brighton

Don't know about Brighton or Liverpool but...

A few years ago I had cause to be staying in central Cardiff on a Saturday with friends. Went out early for a bite to eat and was genuinely shocked. Police hanging around everywhere ready for action, people doing 'support' wandering around in tabards, and a line of ambulances down Heol Santes Fair waiting for customers, crews chatting until they were needed.

It's not like that in my little village.

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Re: Lobster Pot

We can hope that Tim-the-Dim-Quim's business fails to survive. Many thinking and aware people refuse to set foot inside his doors, and counsel others to do the same. Should we do more though? Could we do more? Have a team to picket the places with "Don't Drink Here" signs? Could be a fun day out - gather in a decent local hostelry and take it in turns to do a 15-min stint before returning to the beer.

Some people will make an exception: we had a march last year in Merthyr Tudfil to show support for independence for Cymru. Had 5000+ people there, (would have been more if Arriva Wales had laid on a single 2-coach train from Cardiff!). Great speeches, great buzz. BUT people needed a drink and the 'Dic Penderyn'[*] (one of Tim the Twat's establishments) was close to hand and quite crowded. Turned out that an exception was made as the manager was a supporter and had made a generous donation to the expenses of the organisers.

[*] Strange this. Dic Penderyn (Richard Lewis) was involved in the Merthyr Rising in 1831. He was framed and hanged, and is now remembered as a martyr (appropriate in Merthyr). Doesn't sound like the sort of person Tim-the-Grim would normally want to commemorate. You'd think he'd go more for naming his booze-pits after people like Churchill (v.popular(!) in S.Wales, as he was popularly believed to have said 'If the Welsh are striking over hunger, we must fill their bellies with lead')


Maybe there is hope for 2020: AI that 'predicts criminality' from faces with '80% accuracy, no bias' gets in the sea

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Fair play here

I believe their training set included mugshots of every Tory MP and it correctly picked out 80% of them as being criminals. Sadly it failed to identify the other 20% and showed them as false negatives.

Needs more work.

Big Tech on the hook for billions in back taxes after US Supreme Court rejects Altera stock options case hearing

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Re: It will cost us money...

The compensation paid in 1833 worked out at about £30 per person, so I think they meant £50 not 50s in 1772.

Comparing 'value' over time is very difficult. Depends what you count and how. RPI? Wages? There's a nice online calculator which came up with this

In 2019, the relative value of £1 0s 0d from 1772 ranges from £127.70 to £15,880.00.

A simple Purchasing Power Calculator would say the relative value is £128.80. This answer is obtained by multiplying £1.00 by the percentage increase in the RPI from 1772 to 2019.

This may not be the best answer. (Their words!)

I was doing some work on social history in the 1850s. Weekly wage for a skilled craftsman (Smith, Carpenter etc) was £1/1/0 (I guinea, 3/6d/day) What does someone like that get now? £25K? So about 500x . Beer then was usually 1d or 2d a quart. It's now about £3, so maybe 720x (but it's now heavily taxed of course! About 10/- per pint + VAT, so take that off and that's down to £2, so about 500x again over 170 years). It looks like wages increased by maybe 50% from 1770s to 1850s, So a 'fair' estimate of the 'value' of £700K now is probably about £500 million (about 1/6th of an aircraft carrier), not £269billion!

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Re: It's a scam

True. And the taxman is interested in the value of what you earn, not its nominal cost.

Remember the case of the 'cunning' business that paid its staff £5 per month - in gold sovereigns! They then bought the sovereigns back with banknotes ready for next month. They tried to argue that no NI or tax was payable on £5/month, although the employees paid income tax (or CGT?) on the gold sales.

They lost.

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Re: It's a scam

Not quite.

If the company offers options over 1 million shares they have to but those shares in at the time the offer is made. Then in 3/5/7 years or whatever they can sell the shares to the staff, who will (in the UK) be liable to CGT as and when they sell.

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Re: A small contribution to countries' Covid-19 costs...

@Robert Grant

Everyone does everything for money. It's normal.

I'd disagree. Demanding more and more money to buy things you don't need is not normal. It's a sign of a serious mental illness. Not everyone does things solely for money. Otherwise why would we have charities? One of the interesting things from this pandemic has been how communities have drawn together, people helping each other - and not expecting payment. Community-oweed and village/corner shops have kept going, offering free same-day delivery services to local residents when the supermarkets offered them a delivery in 3 weeks time. That's normal.

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@AC and the UK gets all the tax on my income, NI, VAT, council tax etc

Totally irrelevant. That's actually true of employees of companies who DO pay their tax. So why should big companies be different?

Let's keep it simple: turnover tax. Say 5%?

CERN puts two new atom-smashers on its shopping list. One to make Higgs Bosons, then a next-gen model six times more energetic than the LHC

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Re: Old Moore's law?

I hadn't seen that bit about Durrington Walls and Stonehenge. Very interesting. A 1.2 mile wide circle of 30(?) Neolithic pits, each 5m deep and 10m wide. Wow.

Great article in the Grauniad today https://www.theguardian.com/science/2020/jun/22/vast-neolithic-circle-of-deep-shafts-found-near-stonehenge

Their explanations are totally wrong though.

The pits are clearly just a circle of post-holes for very large posts, which were part of a very, very large roundhouse. Proof indeed that once Giants lived in these islands! (Not sure where they got trees 800m tall for the posts though...)

Google isn't even trying to not be creepy: 'Continuous Match Mode' in Assistant will listen to everything until it's disabled

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It's a problem.

...but it can be solved, although not in a way Google will like.

Voice recognition has the potential to be really useful. But the issue is security, and Google (or others) listening in to everything.

The problem changes significantly if ALL the processing is done locally, and NOTHING is ever sent to Google, by law. It's still a problem, but has moved from being a massive problem, to being one of ensuring that the law is obeyed. Fundamentally if the spooks want to bug you, they will. But we can legislate to make sure that commercial entities can't.

Until then I'm afraid Siri, Alexa and friends will all be locked away in a dark, soundproof, lead-lined cupboard under the stairs, full of spiders.

Health Sec Hancock says UK will use Apple-Google API for virus contact-tracing app after all (even though Apple were right rotters)

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Re: with respect to the UK app

If that's a hogshead of petrol you really, really need a new car, as you are destroying the global climate single-handedly.

40 rods is about a furrowlong

a hogshead is 66 gallons!

If it's a hogshead of beer, then you just need a liver transplant.

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Re: NHSX devs apparently superior to Google devs

If someone is behind a wall, they're not really a contact, are they?

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Re: "we discovered a technical barrier that every other country [...] is also now hitting."

Actually it does explain it.

BBC costs money, even if the news output is wonderfully pro-Tory and unquestioning. *

Get rid of BBC and it would be replaced by 'friends' of the Tories like Murdoch, who would be equally (or more) supportive of the Tories, but who could pocket the equivalent of the licence fee, before trebling it.

* Yes, I know she does ask 'questions' but political correspondents shouldn't be asking about wee Wilfred Bramble. They should be gutting every Tory MP. 60,000 dead so far, for Christ's sake!

NASA to send Perseverance, a new trundle bot, and Ingenuity, the first interplanetary helicopter, to sniff out life on Mars in July

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Have we any details of the plans for returning the samples to Earth?

Presumably this involves some sort of rocket from surface to orbit, where it meets up with an orbiter with enough fuel to break out of orbit and head home.

Mars has lower gravity, so less oomph needed than for earthly rockets, but that's still a lot of mass to shift off Earth, to Mars, land/orbit, and then lift off. Is SpaceX working on Falcon9M?

Gulp! Irish Water outsources contact centres to Capita for up to €27m over 7 years

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Re: Thanks management

The compromise is to hire some new staff, with the expertise to do this work.

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Re: Maybe my maths is a bit weak and watery, but ...

I wondered the same, unless I misunderstood and the first 5 years are €10 mn PER YEAR, which then drops to €17 mn for an extra 2 years

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Re: Irish language service?

I recall difficulty in meeting the Irish language requirements

One has to ask "Why?", or even "Cén fáth?". Developing bi-lingual and multi-lingual systems is not rocket science.

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Re: "new software and digital capabilities"

You don’t refer to Wales as Cymru when you’re having a conversation in English, do you?

Well, actually I do, sometimes.

The particular problem with Cymru/Wales is that 'Wales' is the name used by the Saxon invaders to refer to the original inhabitants. Welsh 'Wēalas' basically means 'foreigners', so it's pretty insulting to refer to ourselves as 'foreigners'. Our name for our country is Cymru, which derives from terms for 'fellow countrymen',

So, yes please. When using the language of the invaders, please refer to our country as Cymru and the people as the Cymry, and the language as Cymraeg.


No Wiggle room: Two weeks after angry bike shop customers report mystery orders on their accounts, firm confirms payment cards delinked

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Re: At Chris G, re: Lycranthropist.

Steak through the heart? Easy. Freeze it first to a nice low temperature then cut to size and hammer away! If you can get some liquid nitrogen it will be pretty solid. I remember a Physics demo when the prof nailed a mercury nail into some wood with a mercury hammer.

I remember a crime story, victim had been bludgeoned with a heavy blunt object. Cops interviewed wife in kitchen while the previously-frozen chicken was in the oven...

And in another the the victim was stabbed with an icicle, which duly melted...

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Delivered to?

I assume the addresses for delivery aren't the actual home address of the scumbags, but they are a physical address. So, given the lead time, should not law enforcement have been staking some of the addresses out to nab whoever turns up to make the collection, even if they're just mules?

Whose side you on, Nominet? Registry floods .co.uk owners with begging emails to renew unwanted .uk domains

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Re: Sorry Nominet

They're actually .scot and .cymru / .wales and already exist. Apparently we couldn't have .cym for some reason - clashed with some other international standard abbreviation. Cameroon? And WAL tends to refer to the Wallis & Fortuna Islands!

Wonder what they'll use for an england TLD ? .engerland ? I'm surprised no-one has started a campaign to get it registered. And can we have .kernow as well?

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Re: We aim to lose by the smallest margin ...

Personally i don't mind paying a few quid more for a particular TLD, e.g. .com compared to a .co.uk if I want to appeal to an international audience. I do object to the annual price rises.

And, to be honest, now that we have .cymru & .wales I tend to use those instead of .com (many customers don't like .uk of any flavour), and price is about the same as .com - but of course have to register both versions!

I've been using Fasthosts for quite a few years (the ones responsible for sending me 42 emails) and, to be fair, they've worked perfectly well. I just use them for domain registration (115 domains as of today, which is over £1K per year, but the customers are paying!) and then just point DNS to wherever it's hosted. I get pissed off with hosting providers and move more often than with domain providers and this makes it a lot easier. Not sure who owns them now though...

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As I am "the chap who had 42 emails" I may think about that. Presumably I start by complaining to my local (over-worked, under-funded) Trading Standards people? Or do I go to the one for the area where Fasthosts are based?

Bloke rolls up to KFC drive-thru riding horse-drawn cart only to be told: Neigh

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A good burger is a fine, occasional, treat. Which rules out MacD (but Burgerking aren't too bad) - but queuing for an hour for one?

I actually had my first burger in 12 weeks last week from our local Kebab house in Machynlleth. No one hour queue. No queue. They have a table at the front door, you wander up and shout your order then wander away for 5 mins. Then they pop your order on the table and you pay with contactless. Easy (and safe). I'm sure many independents are doing the same.

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Prior to the present situation (and hopefully again afterwards) our community shop and cafe in delightful mid-Wales gets regular visits from a company that organises pony-trekking in our beautful countryside (visitors welcome - LATER). They turn up with 8 or 10 horses and stop off for tea and carrots before going off to the beach for a gallop through the surf.

I can assure you from personal experience that cleaning up the horse shit isn't too bad if it's done quickly. After a car has driven through it and it has rained it's messier.

Our new building actually has a couple of hitching rails in the car park, especially for them!

In Hancock's half-hour, Dido Harding offers hollow laughs: Cake distracts test-and-trace boss at UK COVID-19 briefing

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Better is possible

Ceredigion Council (a county on the coast of mid-Wales, pop 70,000) started its own local test & trace system in March. It didn't wait for government permission.

Ceredigion has had a total of 46 cases. 7 deaths. Lowest in the mainland UK. And has a relatively elderly population.

If the rest of the UK had similar figures total deaths would probably be about 5000, not 60,000

But Johnson has done brilliantly (according to him)

What options are there to overthrow a government between elections?

EU aviation wonks give all-electric training aeroplane the green light – but noob pilots only have 50 mins before they have to land it

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Charge time

Shouldn't be a problem if the airfield can cough up for a suitable charger. 43kW turbo-chargers will give you 25kWh in 40 mins.

I'm not sure that this is the future though. It's a 2-seater. Tripling the battery size to get a better range would add 300kg to the load, so it probably couldn't take off - even without a crew!

Until someone can get batteries at 1/4 of the present weight or less, this technology ain't going to be driving airliners.

Kinda goes without saying, but shore up your admin passwords or be borged by this brute-forcing botnet

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But mitigation isn't too difficult.

I have some WP sites (thankfully few) but security plugins (All-In-One???) really reduce the risk. Not using default login page names, locking out the site after multiple failed logins etc.

But I've noticed for years that my server logs are full of failed attempts at logging in to WP, even when I don't use WP!

Surely there is some way to develop IP blacklists for addresses that clock up, say, 50 failed WP login attempts in 24 hours, and the ISP then kills the IP address and tells all the others.

Barmy ban on businesses, Brits based in Blighty bearing or buying .eu domains is back: Cut-off date is Jan 1, 2021

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A good comment, but it can be questioned whether the system we have in the UK can really be called 'democracy'

Other forms of selecting a government could rightly be described as much more democratic. Perhaps one where the government is elected by a majority of the electorate?

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Re: @codejunky

It would have been more useful if the EU had, as has been suggested, introduced some sort of "Associate EU citizenship" open to any UK citizen who wanted it. Then they could have a .eu if they wanted, as they would still be EU entities. It may still come as a last minute two-fingers to Johnson.

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It's what a sad, angry minority wanted

The strange thing is that, despite saying "You lost, get over it" all the time, they are still sad, still angry, and even more of a minority now. God knows why. They should be happy - they've destroyed the UK, they've got what they want.

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Anticipating the demise of the UK and the dissolution of the .uk registry after Wales & Scotland become independent, and NI joins the rest of Ireland.

The United Kingdom of England just doesn't have much of a ring to it. And if the English people then decide to get rid of Queenie thanks to her resolute failure to do anything to protect her subjects from her ministers, then it's even less appropriate.

We're number... six. Analysis puts UK behind Switzerland and Kuwait in 5G adoption

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Samsung,with a history of corruption and dodgy dealings.

Well, what's wrong with that? This is the UK and US governments we're talking about. Corruption and dodgy dealings is what they do best. They lurv Samsung.

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Rural areas?

central government, which has pledged money to ensure availability in rural areas.

So, not going to happen then?

My nearest 5G coverage is over 100 miles away. If that puts us at 6th, heaven help country 166

This'll make you feel old: Uni compsci favourite Pascal hits the big five-oh this year

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Re: Algol W?


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Algol W?

"Involved in the ALGOL X effort, Wirth proposed ALGOL W, which, while not deemed a sufficient advance over ALGOL 60, became Pascal in 1970."

Strange. I started programming in Algol W on the St Andrews IBM 360/44 in Jan 1975, and was still doing so when I left in 1978.

Switzerland 'first' country to roll out contact-tracing app using Apple-Google APIs to track coronavirus spread

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Is there anything stopping...

an enterprising and public-spirited company in the UK from grabbing a copy of, say, the Swiss app, and making it available in the UK (after translation). Presumably would need local servers to talk to when it's triggered.

Broadcom sends its England-based staff back into office as UK lockdown eases – though Welsh workers get a free pass

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It's great being Welsh! And once we're fully independent (coming soon) it'll be even better. The English can then sort out their own political problems.

eBay users spot the online auction house port-scanning their PCs. Um... is that OK?

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Re: Browsers don't.

And hopefully promptly turn off javascript like any other sensible trained chimpanzee.

Absolutely - I always recommend that people should brick up all the windows in their homes to stop burglars getting in.

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Re: Fraud is a big issue for etailer -- MEAT

Chinese bats?


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