* Posts by ricegf

121 publicly visible posts • joined 11 Feb 2011


General Motors goes electric with $2.5b US government loan for battery plants


Typical. Just, typical.

Tesla repaid their loan early and with full interest, then went on to lead the EV revolution even without any federal tax credits for drivers these last few years. So naturally, the Reg leads with a wisecrack about government handouts to Tesla.

I love the Linux desktop, but that doesn't mean I don't see its problems all too well


Let's discuss!

Sure, I'll bite. What printer do you have that won't work with which distro? What filesystem are you unable to mount?

We used to laugh (good-naturedly) at Windows, because every time we bought a new printer it just worked with Linux whereas we had to manually install drivers for Windows. Windows is closer to Linux now in that respect, at least. They're learning.

I've always had great difficulty mounting any non-Windows filesystem on a Windows machine, but have rarely found ANY filesystem that Linux can't mount.

Of course, WSL 2 is getting much better at providing a reasonably good desktop Linux experience on Windows with minimal effort. My Chromebook's Linux support is also quite good. Perhaps you'd be happier taking that route instead of a native install?


Re: Chicken and egg

Oddly, you seem to be in much more pain about this than Linux users!


Re: Some concerns though

Why do you assume new distro developers must aspire to mass adoption?

Are you not aware that the huge base of fanfic authors don't expect to write a best seller? They write for the love of writing and exploring their corner of fandom.

Similarly, distro (and free software) developers often develop simply for the love of development and better understanding their chosen technologies.

Your "waste of time" is a normal person's "fascinating hobby"!



No. If the Linux desktop grows too much, it will attract rent-seeking corporations who will lock down choice in favor of profits.

The Internet was the great democracy experience. Now we have Facebook and Google.

DOS and Windows brought computing power from mainframes to individual control. Now you pay subscription fees for your web-based apps and cloud storage.

Streaming let you cut the cable. Now you pay the same fees to Netflix, Hulu, and Sling.

Can we please just keep Linux to ourselves?


Choice is a Feature

Choice is a feature, not a bug. If one desktop distro was ubiquitous, I'd need to find a new desktop OS just like I keep searching for a workable replacement for smartphone Android.

Boeing's Starliner CST-100 on its way to the ISS 2 years late


Re: Fund DreamChaser, please

Rockets launch capsules or shuttles and then land on their tails (or in the case of Rocket Lab, parachute and get captured mid-air by a helicopter).

DreamChaser is equivalent to a capsule, not a rocket. Capsules either splash down in the ocean (all US capsules prior to Starliner) or touchdown on land with retros and / or airbags (Russian and Chinese capsules and Starliner).

Shuttles perform runway landings. This is much gentler for sensitive cargo, likely a major factor in DreamChaser selection as a cargo ship, and simplifies reuse. But they also have more interior space and greater flexibility for crew missions.

And they just look cool. Hard to put a price on that.


Fund DreamChaser, please

Given Boeing's ongoing litany of engineering, uh, challenges across do many of its programs, I'd be delighted if Congress added funding for the crew version of the DreamChaser shuttle to the upcoming budget.

DreamChaser will begin cargo operations next year, and was designed for human transport as well but want funded in the final round of that program's funding. Given the upcoming breadth of human stations, a third option would be most prudent.

Rivals aren't convinced by Microsoft's one-click default browser change


Re: No Browsers?

choco install brave --pre

brew cask install brave

sudo apt install brave-browser

For Windows, Mac, and Ubuntu-family Linux, respectively. The web isn't the Internet.

Fans of original gangster editors, look away now: It's Tilde, a text editor that doesn't work like it's 1976


Classic MacOS was on v6 and didn't have that many standard keystrokes and things yet.

What? MacOS 1.0 specified how menus should be laid out and which keyboard shortcuts went with the common menu items. That was the point of MacOS from the start - learn one application, know how to use the rest for free.

Feds charge two men with claiming ownership of others' songs to steal YouTube royalty payments


Re: Throw the book at the cocks

In the USA, critical analysis is an affirmative defense against copyright infringement claims. The OP is permitted to show a reasonable number of website screenshots for the purpose of demonstrating the validity of his assertions. Not that YouTube would care about the law or justice, of course.

Reg reader returns Samsung TV after finding giant ads splattered everywhere


Re: Buy secondhand

A sticky square cut from a Post-It note over the camera lens works great. Using a fine-point sharpie to write them a brief love note on the sticky side is purely optional.

Oregon city courting Google data centers fights to keep their water usage secret


Re: we have the technology...

Hydroelectric, inevitably.

Waterfox: A Firefox fork that could teach Mozilla a lesson


Re: I'd love to try Waterfox, but there's a problem...

S/he did what I did - I followed the product's website instructions, which led to a dead end.

I seriously doubt any project will "thrive" if their installation instructions are stillborn, and you have to add repositories provided by a random commenter on an El Reg article to actually install it (which is better than installing executables downloaded from the official project page how?).


Re: Thriving

The actual claim was that the project is thriving, not that Waterfox has more users than Firefox.

The Waterfox repository is gratifyingly active based on commit frequency, though not as active as Firefox. But I suppose "thrive" implies long-term trends, which I too would like to see

84-year-old fined €250,000 for keeping Nazi war machines – including tank – in basement


Re: WTF?

Unless you decide to join a gang or otherwise commit suicide, your odds of being shot in the USA is much less than your odds of being stuck by lightning. Not to drag facts into an emotional discussion, of course.

LibreOffice 7.2 release candidate reveals effort to be Microsoft-compatible


Back when I worked a corporate job, we had to switch one large team away from Word because its conditional text feature regularly corrupted documents. Fixing corrupted Word documents was actually a line item in their budget, as I recall. (We moved to FrameMaker, I believe, because the team had used it earlier and thus needed little training to implement the switch.)

In general, back when I used Office, I found less popular features to be bug-ridden and unreliable, but perhaps we were just above the safe power user level. I've personally had fewer problems with LO. *shrug*


Re: Surprised

This is a feature, not a bug. But LO has several alternate UI configurations, even the abominable ribbon one.

I actually had to switch my last book from Word to Writer because Word kept moving images outside the margins. The bug report on it was rather old - no idea if it has been fixed since, because I don't see a reason to switch back, being happily non-corporate now.


Re: Use early Microsoft formats where possible for interchange

Or just txt or md - though in all 4 cases complex formatting is lost.


Reveal Codes RIP

WordPerfect's Reveal Codes (which were an unrelated precursor to the web's HTML) was the last time I felt truly in control of a document's content and layout. That Microsoft used their Windows monopoly to cram Word down corporate throats will forever be to their shame - not that Gates' or Ballmer's Microsoft had any. At least Sayella has given up his predecessors' irrational jihad against free and open source software.

Kaspersky Password Manager's random password generator was about as random as your wall clock


The Only Safe Password

The only Safe Password is twelve words rolled using the Diceware tables. In a darkened closet. With death metal music playing at full volume. Rolled with hand-carved dice. That you smash immediately thereafter with a sledgehammer.

LibreOffice community protests at promotion of paid-for editions, board says: 'LibreOffice will always be free software'


Re: This has been handled badly, but it's not beyond hope.

They don't pretend to be honest - or did you miss the entire "Would you like to switch to Edge? Yes or Yes?" fiasco?

Pro tip: Plug in your Tesla S when clocking off, lest you run out of juice mid hot pursuit


It's actually a strength of battery operated vehicles: They are fully refueled at start of shift, so officers never needed to visit a petrol pump - IF the vehicle is connected to the mains while at the station house. But as the article briefly notes, ignoring fuel levels never ends well regardless of whether you store the energy as petrol, diesel, electrons, hydrogen, or a wound-up rubber band.

Back to drawing board as Google cans AI ethics council amid complaints over right-wing member


"Oppose immigration"?

She doesn't "oppose immigration". She opposes immigration that violates immigration law - like pretty much every other country on the planet. Orwellian newspeak is a poor substitute for rational debate.

Pointless US Congress net neutrality vote will take place tomorrow!


"I think the point is that Democrats aren't actually in government right now. So they can't do anything but try pointless things."

If that's their point, it's badly damaged by their claim that the LAST time they held the presidency and both houses of Congress (by overwhelming majorities) that the Republicans blocked them at every turn but one.

Why are the Democrats so dang impotent now when they are only *one vote* short in the Senate and reasonably close in the House? You frustrate me, Ds!


More of the Same

So the Democrats are running in the midterms on 2 main promises: "We'll impeach the president" and "We'll raise your taxes". Always popular slogans. 8-(

I wonder if the Republicans are funding the Democratic ads this time around? I certainly would!

Revenge pornography ban tramples free speech, law tossed out – where else but Texas!


"Several revenge porn laws have run into constitutional problems."

So... NOT only in Texas, then.

Tech giants' payouts go to everyone but affected citizens. US Supremes now urged to sort it out


Re: Here's my two cents

If The Jerk could do it, so can they! https://youtu.be/qaz2hxZLycY

T-Mobile US let hackers nick my phone number, drain my crypto-wallets, cries man who lost $20k


"Surely a username/password was also required?"

Yes. From the article:

"From there, the thieves used the cell number to reset the password on Tapang's online cryptocurrency account – which was linked to that number – and then take over its wallets and drain his funds."

Electric cars to create new peak hour when they all need a charge


Re: I've been pointing this out for years.

It's not necessary to eliminate all fossil fuels, only to reduce fossil fuel use to where plant life can handle the CO2 load again. It's fine to use natural gas as the last line of defense against a significant voltage drop, though we have other options and potential options to explore first.


Re: I've been pointing this out for years.

You'll likely be a late EV adopter. No shame in that. Us boxed in types will thus pay for the research that delivers a 1000 mile range EV that recharges in 5 minutes to your grandchildren. ;-)


Re: I've been pointing this out for years.

A tree takes carbon from the atmosphere and sequesters it in wood. You burn the wood and release the carbon. Net change in CO2 this century is zero.

You burn coal, releasing carbon sequestered millions is years ago. Net increase in CO2 this century is significant.

The percentage of CO2 in the atmosphere had been rising steadily since about 1950, indicating that we've saturated the ability of plant life to handle the supply.

We don't know for certain the impact of a higher concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere, but "bad" is pretty likely.

So, investing in not releasing long sequestered CO2 is a very good idea.

Releasing briefly sequestered CO2 is the better option of the two. Capturing and using fusion power arriving daily from the nearest star is even better.

Importing wood pellets from the USA is rather suboptimal for the UK, though. :-)


Re: here are a number of companies out there...

They sell 100% renewable energy. You're thinking power, which is a different thing. You shouldn't mock others because you lack a basic knowledge of science.


Re: I've been pointing this out for years.

Your insults are misdirected. Had the author correctly written "Does their supply drop out at night IF there's no wind?", he would have been understood.


Re: I've been pointing this out for years.

No. Refrigeration, A/C and heat, water heaters, EV charging, laptop charging, and the like don't require constant power. Demand can be moved around by minutes to balance out spikes in grid demand.

Appliances that require constant power such as stoves and non-battery electronics obviously get priority access.

Really, engineers aren't as stupid as you seem to believe. We've solved FAR harder problems than this!


Re: I've been pointing this out for years.

Not at all obviously. I'm an electrical engineer, and (respectfully) you're confusing power and energy.

Energy is the potential to do work, such as moving a car. The "power company" sells, and the battery stores, energy measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh).

Power is the instant motive force that actually stores energy into the battery or accelerates the car, measured in kilowatts (kW).

The grid isn't the Internet, routing power instantaneously from the wind farm to your house. Power is added to and consumed from the aggregate grid minute by minute in careful balance. So the power feeding my EV battery is "obviously" from a mix of fuels. You're right as rain about that.

But the energy for which I pay is 100% wind energy. That is, if my EV uses 150 kWh this month, the local wind farm adds 150 kWh to the grid during the month, and I pay them $9. This is what EV owners mean when they say their EV runs on 100% wind energy.

So, I can power my EV with 100% wind energy without any grid instability at my house at all.

The UK has actually reached 100% renewable power inputs at slack times, btw. Managing a grid with a large portion of renewable energy requires care, but solving technical challenges is what engineers do. Trust me, it's doable, as is continuing to upgrade grid capacity to continue to track increasing demand. We've been doing it successfully for over a century, and the slow transition from petrol to electricity allows ample time to manage the grid properly.


Re: actually no

Consider a Chevy Bolt, with 238 miles of range, or a Model 3, with 215 miles, or even a 2018 LEAF, with 151 miles (USA EPA ranges).

The average US commute is 30 miles total. Do we expect drivers (who lack workplace slow charging) to plan over 100 miles of errands in the typical evening?

On the rare occasion where they will be traveling to a distance city, say for a concert or sporting event, a quick charge replaces those 30 miles of range in under 10 minutes, even at today's leisurely 120 kW charge rate.

In the next few years, the problem becomes even more moot, with fast charge rates of 350 kW already specified for the Common Charging Standard, and ranges up to 620 miles already announced.

So, I don't believe this is will be a problem for the vast majority of drivers even in the near future.

Linux Mint 18.3: A breath of fresh air? Well, it's a step into the unGNOME


Re: Great OS

Cntl-Alt-t is the 3-finger salute to bring up a terminal in Cinnamon as well as all other desktops I've tried. Type 'xkill', then simply click the hung application to close it.

If the windowing system is unresponsive due to the hung app, don't reboot as in Windows. Instead, use ctrl-alt-1 and login to the console. Type 'ps -ef', find the process id of the hung application from the list, and type 'kill [process id]' or (if it's so hung that it won't respond to the kill signal) 'kill -9 [process id]'. Then type 'exit' to logout, and use ctrl-alt-7 to return to the gui.

The Ubuntu forums are a great resource for learning Linux, btw.

Back to the future: Honda's new electric car can go an incredible 80 miles!


Re: 80mile range?

"As for charging points... These are a joke. Operated by different companies with different connectors. CHADEMO, Type 2 or whaever. It is a minefield. To run an EV car, you have to sign up to at least two different Charging point operators."

*sigh* It pains me to see so many upvotes for a fundamentally flawed paragraph such as this (I say this gently and without intending offense). Here's the reality.

Every single EV on the market today supports the standard connector used in that region - called J1772 in the USA and Mennekes in the UK and Europe. These are used for slower charging - overnight at home, at work, or at a destination such as a hotel or theatre.

Every single EV on the market that supports rapid charging supports EITHER a fully compatible superset of the slower regional standard universally called the Combined Charging Standard (CCS), OR the older Japanese CHAdeMO standard. These are used for recharging in under an hour when traveling.

Tesla also has their Supercharger network with proprietary connectors that only a Tesla vehicle can use, but a Tesla vehicle can certainly use the slower regional standard via an included adapter, and the CHAdeMO rapid standard via an available adapter - rather like a USB to USB-C charging adapter.

So what do rapid charge stations do? Exactly what petrol pumps do - they support both standards! A petrol pump supplies gasoline (often in 3 grades) via one hose and diesel via the other. Rapid charge stations simply provide two connectors, one for CCS and the other for CHAdeMO. It's impossible to plug the wrong connector into your car, unlike putting the wrong grade of gasoline into your car - or worse, a diesel truck!

BTW, I only belong to one charging network: EVgo. I've never needed any other membership to roam the DFW Metroplex, which is about twice the size of Northern Ireland, in my first-generation 80 mile range Leaf. All of their local stations support both CHAdeMO (used by my Leaf) and CCS. Your Membership May Vary. But yes, just accepting a credit card like the petrol pumps would be a definite step in the right direction as well. Just give it a little time. :-)

Hope this clears up the confusion about a "minefield" that is actually somewhat simpler than drivers currently face in petrol-fueled vehicles.


Re: Seems foolish

I commute in a 2012 Leaf (first-gen modern electric frog with Clarity's range), and A/C cuts range by 5 miles or less even in Texas summer heat - even less if the cabin is pre-conditioned while still connected to the grid. It's resistive heating and the cold battery during both days of the Texas winter that cuts range by double digits. So yeah, for most people ready to go electric, a current-gen Bolt or Model 3 makes more sense unless you're saving a LOT of money! Even with its limited range, though, we love our Leaf for driving around town, and are considering a Tesla to replace our remaining gasoline car.

El Reg just saved your Wikipedia Xmas



This was the last year of my annual Wikimedia Foundation donation. Having given my usual Christmas Bitcoins of appreciation, I was inundated with emails pleading for more. When I replied that I already gave as usual, I was told that their email deluge was my own fault for using a different email address than my only one for this year's gift. Right. If I want harassment, I'll find it elsewhere, thanks. Now to go review some new projects to support financially in 2017...

Guessing valid credit card numbers in six seconds? Priceless


Only 5 wrong guesses to lock a card for an hour? I could shut down the entire Visa network with only a modest DDOS attack with those rules!

US election pollsters weren't (very) wrong – statistically speaking


Re: You illustrate this perfectly!

Mr. Reagan inherited a dismal economy (even the incumbent openly admitted this) and worked with a congress held by Democrats for 20 solid years to turn things around. And turn them around he did, so much so that he won every single state except his opponent's home state in 1984 - and he only lost that by a slim margin. I think you are suffering from revisionist memory.


Re: Margin of error

In 2000, the media called Florida for Gore while the polls were still open, potentially discouraging many voters from voting after work. This may have flipped the state, or reduced the margin of victory, depending on which voters you believe were affected.

In 2016, the media called the national election for Clinton before election day, potentially discouraging many voters from voting at all. Given several very close states, this may have affected this election as well.

The media shouldn't call ANY election until ALL polls are firmly closed, including those still waiting in line.

Thumb Up

Re: @Eddy Ito - gerrymanding

Exactly that. For states with a voter initiative process, they should vote to replace the current "first post the post" system with "instant runoff". This voids the "throwing away your vote" argument that effectively blocks third parties from participating in the electoral process, and makes California's "only Democrats in November" laws unnecessary. Instead, voters can more accurately specify their preferences, e.g., "Sanders first, then Stein, then if all else fails" (holds nose) "Her".

Ubuntu daddy Mark Shuttleworth loses fight to cancel $20m bank fee


But Mark really DOES help pay for the features he wants! You?

"Hey, here's a silly idea. Listen to the small donors, too. Let us help pay for the features we want, even including support of features we don't want broken."

You're being sarcastic, I suppose? Because if you've downloaded Ubuntu over the past few years (from ubuntu.com/download/desktop), surely you would have noticed the second screen - the one that says "Tell us what we should do more... and put your money where your mouth is ;)", with the opportunity to donate money to various Ubuntu initiatives. I typically donate $25. You?

But you needn't stop there. If you're a Gnome fan, for example, try gnome.org/friends - you can Adopt a Hacker or Become a Philanthropist, or anything in between. Or maybe you prefer Cinnamon - try linuxmint.com/donors.php. Or maybe the huge KDE software system is more to your liking? kde.org/community/donations/

Your offer to tell volunteers what they should be doing is certain to be greatly appreciated, however, a nice little stack of certificates of appreciation would go further toward making your dreams reality that mere suggestions. Just... a suggestion. ;-)

Visual Studio running on OS X and Linux for free? SO close


Beware the License Agreement!

I have routinely dealt with legal reviews of license agreements for the past few decades, so I have developed a feel for where the problems lie. The license agreement included with the Visual Studio Code download for Linux is a disaster IMHO. Consider these terms:

"You may make one backup copy of the software, for reinstalling the software."

If you run nightly system backups, and keep a 30 day rotating image, you violate the agreement. And why in this day and age is a license agreement restricting the number of copies you may keep of a *freely downloadable application*???

"The term of this agreement is until 30/04/2016 (day/month/year) or next public release of the software, whichever is first."

The INSTANT a new version is released, whether you know about it or not, you must uninstall this release or you violate the agreement. Hope nothing in your applications depend on a feature removed in the next release, by the way.

"Some features in the software may enable collection of data from users of applications you develop using the software."

They not only collect data from you, as with (I suspect) most non-libre software, but also potentially from every user of every application you develop. 'I'll see your bet, Google, and raise you a generation of users.'

"If you give feedback about the software to Microsoft, you give to ... third parties, without charge, any patent rights needed for their products, technologies and services to use or interface with any specific parts of a Microsoft software or service that includes the feedback."

Nothing like a blanket gratis license of your patents to the entire world to raise a lawyer's eyebrow.

"The software contains third party components licensed under open source licenses with source code availability obligations. Copies of those licenses are included in the ThirdPartyNotices file or accompanying credits file... You may obtain the complete corresponding source code from us if and as required under the relevant open source licenses by sending a money order or check for $5.00 to: Source Code Compliance, Team, Microsoft Corporation... We may also make the source available at http://thirdpartysource.microsoft.com/."

ThirdPartyNotices.txt (wrong filename, but we'll let that pass) lists 81 packages. Source code is provided on the specified website for 3 of them. It's certainly *legal* to charge for the source of the other 78 packages, but how many companies actually require this in the Internet age?

It's also weird that you can't pay $5 for a copy of Visual Studio Code as far as I know - just the source code they *didn't* write. Again, not illegal, just... unusual.

I downloaded Code to try on my Ubuntu workstation, but after reading the license, I deleted it. I'll have to make do with one of the 146 other text editors and IDEs on my system. :-/

'Android on Windows': Microsoft tightens noose around neck, climbs on chair


Guess not

Sorry, they just made their announcement at Build, and Windows Phone 10 can NOT run Android (or iOS) apps "without the user having to do a thing". Rather, the source must be loaded into a development tool, and then ported to the Windows 10 environment (which has been extended to provide more, but not full, commonality with Android and iOS), and then extended if desired to make it look more like a native Windows application.

The good news is that a developer ends up with an actual Windows app (sort of) that will run on desktops and Xbox as well (though not necessarily *well*, depending on the app itself). The bad news is that it will take some non-trivial work per app to get there.

Also, they are unfortunately NOT providing Visual Studio for OS X and Linux, but Visual Studio *Code* - which is essentially just a text editor with Intellisense(tm). Most of the goodness isn't there (yet). But at least it's free. I may download it and give it a whirl on Ubuntu tonight, just to see how it compares to my favorite editors.

Not as much as we'd hoped, but a step in the right direction - if they choose to continue with Windows Phone long-term. However, they *desperately* need to sell a significant number of phones if they want to stay in the game, and "we can run some of the same apps as Android and iOS!" is a pretty weak marketing pitch, I'm afraid. :-/


Did you try it?

"OS/2 didn't have any unique features at all compared to everything else"

True multi-tasking? Large memory model? Object-centric UI paradigm? App persistence across reboots? Did you ever *use* OS/2 2.0 and Windows 3.0 on the same machine?

I was never much of an OS/2 fan, because I didn't have IBM hardware and it had stability issues on my clone - and kudos to IBM tech support for investing a full hour trying to debug those issues. But I spent that time trying to get it to work specifically because it had a lot of advantages to offer!


Re: Times change, business does not

Microsoft's best business strategy at this point is to just drop native Windows phones entirely and start manufacturing Cyanogenmod phones with Windows services. They've already established the business relationship, and Cyanogenmod already has excellent Android compatibility and a solid fan base. They can probably resurrect the Windows 8-like shell from the Nokia X code base for a Windows 10 complementary look and feel. And think of the free publicity and headlines - Microsoft launching an entire new product line based on Linux! Accept the inevitable - it's about profits, not pride.