* Posts by bep

324 publicly visible posts • joined 14 Mar 2011


Programming languages can be hard to grasp for non-English speakers. Step forward, Bato: A Ruby port for Filipinos


So by extension

you haven't associated with Filipinos who don't speak English but who would like to be developers. Foreign words seem more 'foreign' to some that to others. If you think 'everyone in country x speaks English' it's because you haven't encountered the millions of people in said country who don't speak English.

A smartphone recession is coming and animated poo emojis can't stop it


Price sensitivity

I definitely think it's a matter of price. I've been looking for an update recently and was shocked at the prices being asked (but apparently not being paid) for the high-end phones, which have actually removed some of the features I like. My pet hate is the dual-purpose sim card slots on the dual-sim models which mean they aren't really dual-sim models if you want to use a memory card as well. If people aren't buying, then good, maybe the manufacturers will get hit with the clue stick soon.

Australia's new insta-pay scheme has insta-lookup of any user's phone number


Hang on

I would also like to see the story updated on whether they do a look-up on ALL mobile numbers or just the foo...people who sign up for this abomination.

You won't believe this: Nokia soars back into phone-flinger top 3



None of the phones being discussed are particularly cheap around these parts. Nokia has every chance of taking over the niche that Motorola has created now that Lenovo has taken over that brand. The people in charge there obviously have no idea what made the Motorolas attractive to some and are busy screwing things up. Nokia still has brand recognition for sure but how big the ultimate market will be is anyone's guess, but I'm glad there is now another option.

FYI: That Hawaii missile alert was no UI blunder. Someone really thought the islands were toast



I think you underestimate the ubiquity of our wayfinding avian friends:


Transport pundit Christian Wolmar on why the driverless car is on a 'road to nowhere'


Car share option

I read the first couple of pages only so apologies if anyone has already mentioned this, but around these parts car share schemes are quite popular and not just for second cars. The fact that you get the kind of vehicle you need for a purpose is a big plus; sedan, ute, van, whatever, and all pretty close by.

The major drawback of car share schemes is the fact that you have to return the vehicle to its designated pod, so one-way trips are off the agenda, or else you book the car for the return journey as well with the result it is sitting in a parking spot for several hours costing you money. If, on the other hand, you could drive the car to wherever you want to go, get out, and then dispatch the empty vehicle to return itself, slowly and carefully, to its dedicated location? When you want to go home you book a vehicle in the vicinity, which also returns itself after you get home. I can see that changing the economics of car share quite a bit.

Rolls-Royce, Airbus, Siemens tease electric flight engine project


A pilot friend of mine told me

that the 'BAe' part of BAe 146 stood for 'Buy Another Engine' but I don't think that is what is intended here. The modern high bypass turbofans seem to take up a lot of space, to the extent that the nacelles are flatter on the bottom to stop them striking the tarmac, so something like this might help with design. As others have said, potentially burying the fans in the wings, for example.

Anonymized location-tracking data proves anything but: Apps squeal on you like crazy


Home address big deal

Since I'm on the electoral roll finding my home address doesn't seem that clever. The constant tracking as you move about is far more sinister to me.

Ghost in Musk's machines: Software bugs' autonomous joy ride


Fly by pants

Fly by wire aircraft aren't whizzing past dozens of other fly by wire aircraft less than half a metre away every minute or so. It's a very different situation and not very comparable in safety terms. The reason I'm far more willing to trust myself to other meat packets in control is based on experience. I'm sure if you drive all day most days you are far more likely to be the victim of a mistake by another driver, but if you only drive occasionally on mostly familiar routes your chances of having an accident are much reduced. The problem with this self-driving deal is that it is far more random and you can't really calculate your risk. I'd be terrified to drive on a road full of self driving cars at this point in time.

Tarmac for America's self-driving car future is being laid right now


Decision matrix sorted?


One lane in each direction, child runs on road chasing ball, there is not sufficient distance for the self-driving car to brake but there is sufficient distance to veer around the child. Coming in the opposite direction is another car carrying four people which the self-driving car will hit head-on if it veers around the child.

Who decides?

HMS Frigatey Mcfrigateface given her official name


Salty names

I was hoping they would stick with the alphabetical theme as per the Darings but skip a few letters. High time the RN had a new Hardy, Hotspur, Hasty, Havoc, Hunter, Hostile etc.

UK government's war on e-cigs is over



So the British health authorities have opted for the harm-reduction approach, hoping that wider use of e-cigarettes will lead to less people smoking. After all, all the research sponsored by the B&H Institute has promised that this will be the result. I'm happy for the British to conduct this social experiment on our behalves, and we can examine in five years time whether more or less people are actually smoking as a result. However, I'm not enthusiastic about people being allowed to set fire to any kind of product on an aeroplane; call me over-cautious if you like.

Web inventor Sir Tim sizes up handcuffs for his creation – and world has 2 weeks to appeal


Re: I don't see a problem.

"Personally, it is not about the money; it is about ease of use, and my freedom to consume media in the format and on the device I prefer. Until content providers make it easier to buy their content than to pirate it, people will pirate it. The music industry realised this some time ago and now DRM is all but nonexistent. Meanwhile music artists' overall revenues from sales of music recordings has increased. My guess is the film industry is at least 5 years behind."

This is the crux of the problem, they need to repeat after me: "If I am the best source for my content, I own the content." Few people really wants to take the risk of exposing their computer to malware and phishing in order to torrent a TV show, but if the version available 'legally' is low-res crap, hard to access, makes you subscribe to a lot of crap you aren't interested in etc. then piracy will continue.

French general accused of nicking fast jet for weekend trips to the Sun


Not a plane but..

Spike Milligan recounts meeting some lads at the pub at Bexhill-On-Sea who were manning a huge naval gun mounted on a railway carriage. It was usually hidden in a tunnel. Spike asked what was happening to the gun, and they pointed to the railway siding next to the pub. Well, you need some means of transport to get home after a skinful.

Blunder down under: self-driving Aussie cars still being thwarted by kangaroos



I think roos will stay a problem. On a lot of roads a mob will be grazing on the side of the road and as your car approaches they will bound across the road giving you very little time to react. They will also hop alongside your car and it they manage to get in front they'll suddenly jump in front of your car. It's said that they get mesmerised by the headlights and the only solution is to turn the lights off - not ideal on a dark outback road. Bear in mind there may be a lot of them, not just a single roo. This is quite a problem for artificial intelligence to deal with.

Britain shouldn't turn its back on EU drone regs, warns aerospace boffin


Re: Here be snowflakes...

"Parallel example: New Zealand maintains its own technical standards. But for nearly all purposes, it also accepts Australian standards as valid. Australia, for its part, generally (i.e. across most markets) accepts either US or EU certification as sufficient to allow a product to be sold.

The UK should simply rule that anything legal to be sold in the EU is also legal in the UK. The converse doesn't have to be true, though. If manufacturers decide they don't want to sell to the EU market, I don't see why they should be required to."

This may be fine to begin with. But once you have the power to make your own, separate rules, the temptation to actually do that increases substantially. Add politicians and 'think of the children' and 'security' etc and you may find that the train wreck isn't going to happen instantly but be a slow-moving one. You may fondly hope that they will only replace dumb rules with better ones, but they may just go the other way - Ministry of Silly Walks anyone?

FCC: Take your spam and shove it, slacktivists!


A couple of tips

You need to ask them to take a specific action to which they have to reply; "Will you vote against this measure when it comes before the house?" - that sort of thing. By all means express your views, but don't forget to ask them to give a commitment about what THEY are going to do. Make it clear you are not that interested in their party's policy, what you're trying to influence is how your representative actually votes, because that's all that really matters.

London app dev wants to 'reinvent the bus'



It's usually a good idea to consider the economics of any proposal. Around these parts I believe the main expense is the driver's wages so putting him/her in a smaller bus with fewer paying passengers doesn't make any economic sense. It actually is cheaper to use the same big buses half-empty out of peak hours, rather than have a completely separate fleet of smaller buses. We get live updates on the actual time the actual bus we want to catch will arrive; do you not get that in London? On the other hand, there is no live data at the bus stops, everyone has to have a smartphone and use the app. On-demand buses that don't inconvenience other commuters by taking them out of their way already exist; they're called taxis. It's no coincidence that the mini buses exist in low-wage countries. I fear it will never happen in London.

TVs are now tablet computers without a touchscreen


Yet another comment

telling this chap that he shouldn't be writing for a tech site. I'm in Australia too and I also updated my TV fairly recently after the old one died after ten years. Like all the other posters with at least half a brain I got the dumbest TV I could find and connect it to a set-top box and my computer (by a cable). Smart TVs are for dumb people.

Boeing 737 turns 50


Much as I'd like to be impressed

I'm afraid it just demonstrates the 'brick wall' aircraft design has hit. You still reach the same destinations at much the same speed in a more-cramped cabin. The only advantage I can see is that the longer range means you can have less stopovers, but for most routes it seems to be much the same now as 50 years ago. I guess it is cheaper, but oh how I wish it was faster!

Snakes and bats cause more blackouts than criminal haxors


Re: Flying foxes

"Well I knew about all that stuff, especially all the deadly spiders and snakes. I was more curious if there are any more 'surprise' animals like giant bats (got any rats the size of dogs, or wasps the size of crows, perhaps....those would be pretty horrible!)

Those big bats probably don't kill you, but sure would scare the shit out of me if I encountered one without knowing they were a thing! "

I was up at Cape Tribulation one time, they had a little booth manned by a National Parks ranger in which they had various informative posters plus rubber souvenir koalas, kangaroos etc, plus a rubber flying fox which the ranger had hanging by it's feet, bat style, from the counter. At least, both myself and the elderly American tourists at the counter thought it was made of rubber until is suddenly flapped it's wings. I'd never actually seen people levitate before, I was quite surprised myself. Turned out the National Parks ranger was into wildlife rescue and she was rehabilitating said injured flying fox, so of course she took it to work with her. They're quite cute, really.

60 slow-mo A-bomb test videos explode onto YouTube


Re: Mesmerising

"but did you know that both the Germans and the Japanese were working on atomic bombs during WW2?

Yes, as an El Reg old fart.... I'll offer this starting point: For the Germans, Google on "Heavy Water Project" Germany. Fascinating reading both the tech and the efforts to stop them from developing it. The Japanese might be a bit more obscure to find"

I can recommend the Netflix series 'The Heavy Water War' if you prefer a dramatised version of events. It helps that it's very well written and acted.

'Australia Card 2.0' is dead: Government ditches plan for one ID to rule them all


Good news if it happens

Unfortunately, the next Minister might have just the opposite opinion.

The Government may have realised, however, that at the Federal level it doesn't work too well. You just end up with another layer on top of people who are not specialists and have to refer you on the the tax office, or Medicare or whatever. That isn't really efficient, it just makes the bureaucracy even more opaque than it already is and annoys the voters. You can get away with it when you are dealing with a vulnerable group like the unemployed, but nearly everyone has interactions with Medicare or the tax office, and anyone who has had to visit the new one stop shops will do anything to avoid repeating the experience. If you're wondering what that has to do with a digital identity, you have to actually interact with the system to realise it soon devolves to you communicating one-on-one with an anonymous bureaucrat.

Royal Navy's newest ship formally named in Glasgow yard


Re: Bridge?

"Numpties. The bridges are named after the river that they cross - the river Forth."

Shirley the bridge crosses the Firth of Forth. The second ship will be named Moray, as in:

"If your Firth isn't Forth but one much further north, it's a Moray!"

What do you mean you've heard it...?

Department of Human Services says citizens, not systems, to blame


The clue is in the name

Kathryn - not generally a man's name. You can't make much of a case for the press being accurate about a story when you can't even get that right.

US military drone goes AWOL, ends up crashing into tree 623 miles away



No wonder that trial with the Marines didn't work. I mean, mortars are pretty heavy, but you'd have to score a direct hit to do any damage; mortar bombs, on the other hand...

Bee boffins prove sesame-seed brain is all you need to play football (well, that explains a lot)


One problem

There isn't an 'odd bee out' to put in goal.

The Psion returns! Meet Gemini, the 21st century pocket computer


Pricing is the key

The final price would be decider for me. We looked very hard at the Psions back in the day but couldn't justify the price in the end. If the actual, final price is right I might be interested, although it would have to have a good scheduling program included.

Pack your bags! NASA spots SEVEN nearby Earth-sized alien worlds


Tides and stuff

Isn't part of the current theory of why advanced life evolved here that the tides, night and day and the seasons were important. These planets will lack all that. So maybe bacteria, Fred the chimp not so much?

USA! USa! Udia! India! India! Apple nudges iPhone production base


On the other hand

"Breaking news - there's a world outside of 'Merica. For the rest of us we don't care where the devices are made - since there is a global economy.."

Actually a survey published just today suggests that over 90% of Australians do care where things are made. This apparently self-defeating attitude is explainable because it's impossible for people to appreciate how much something would have cost if it was made here, they don't experience that so it has little impact. They forget how much TVs used to cost compared to what they cost now, and so on. On the other hand the local car industry is just about to shut down completely and I'm yet to see a convincing argument that this has made cars much cheaper; it's very hard to prove either way since there are so many assumptions required. Accurately describing an alternate past is almost as hard as predicting the future.

Chevy Bolt electric car came alive, reversed into my workbench, says stunned bloke


Re: Have you had problems with parking brake cables freezing? Or is this one of the FOAF things?

Yes, English persons have trouble accepting that English weather, while crappy, is actually quite warm compared to many other locales. I still don't know how people do hill starts on vehicles with floor-mounted parking brakes. The whole idea seems completely stupid to me, just put the damn handle on the console please!

Why Theresa May’s hard Brexit might be softer than you think


Re: Remember *Carnets?

Probably something like that, although these days there is much more paperwork done on-line. Those who think that leaving the EU will result in less paperwork either have short memories or weren't alive at the time.

Still, one potential area for employment growth is in customs staff and customs brokers and freight forwarders. You're going to need a lot more staff there.

How Apple exploded Europe's crony capitalism


Re: I don't think this is a fair criticism of GSM at all

I also think GSM encouraged competition. Because you could take your phone to another operator and just get a new SIM, you could compare plans, including data plans. The operators might have been reluctant to do it, but they had to compete on data as a result of SIM portability. Because you could get reasonable data plans, it became viable to use bigger screens and download more complex web pages. So it's a bit of chicken and egg in my opinion.

Poor software design led to second £1m Army spy drone crash


Re the weight-on-wheels thing

Shirley with modern technology and computers and things, it should be possible to have a programmable weight-on-wheels thing that you switch on or off depending on whether you are landing the thing on a concrete runway or a dirt strip?

Going underground: The Royal Mail's great London train squeeze


Bit light on for technical details I thought

We know the trains are electrical and driverless, but that's about it. I wonder who built them?

England OUT (of Euro 2016, not the EU) tops Twitter year


Re: Not a football fan then Gavin

No, as a matter of fact most of them play as full-time professionals, some of them for quite decent teams in Europe. Iceland's record in qualifying was excellent, as it had been for several years previous, and their win against England was only a 'shock' to people who think a team called 'Iceland' should never beat a team called 'England', regardless of who is in said team, what their form is like, and who is coaching them.

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


Re: 1 person 1 vote - is not true

Given that the US Senate provides for two senators per state regardless of the state's population, and given the powers of the senate to approve things like treaties and judges, it seems like overkill to me not to have the President elected by a straight popular vote. The tyranny of the many has been replaced by the tyranny of the few. Senators used to appointed by their state legislatures, but now they are popularly elected. When that changed, the electoral college should have been abolished at the same time in my view.

Really weird quantum phenomenon spied lurking near neutron star


Re: The abstract says 10^13G field strength. I presume this is Gauss

Reading the summary from a distance, it appears they have a beer fridge to put the beer in!

Six car-makers team to build European 'leccy car charge bar network


Re: Hi Elon Musk. Welcome to El Reg

"It is not a big step to the idea that no one owns their own car."

Welcome to the future, which is actually right now. Car ownership is declining and car sharing is growing. The world has lots of car enthusiasts who like to own their own cars, but you need to be reminded that there are plenty of other people for whom a car is just a conveyance. And forget about Musk, this agreement has nothing to do with him.


Ideal for car sharing

I don't own a car, I'm in a car share scheme. I'm not alone, car ownership in this country has been declining for a number of years. The charging station solution is ideal for car share schemes since the car can be plugged in at the dedicated parking bays.

As for the rest of the discussion, it seems everyone has missed that the standard these companies have agreed on allows much faster charging. Some people like to drive flat out to reach a destination but plenty of others, say with kids in the car, stop fairly regularly and have plenty of time to top up a battery.

Vegans furious as Bank of England admits ‘trace’ of animal fat in £5 notes


Re: Tell you what then,

My partner is a vegetarian, I'm not. My experience has been similar to yours, I expect.

When the subject comes up, as it inevitable will in a restaurant when she explains why she doesn't want to share a meat dish, the common result is a half-hour or so tedious discussion, invariably driven by the meat eaters. They seem to think that someone being a vegetarian is some sort of implied criticism of them that they are duty bound to respond to, usually by using the same sort of arguments used above, often with an attempt to 'convert' her to their way of thinking. Having experienced it first hand many times, I've no doubt who the 'loonies' actually are.

Australian government never asked nbn™ to apply for private loans



Well, if the government is lending the money to NBN at 'market rates', then they should be exactly the same rates that NBN could get borrowing directly from the market. But it is obvious that the market considers the current 'model' of the NBN a bad risk. So the conclusion is that the government can't be, and is not, lending the money to NBN at market rates (i.e. the government may be borrowing the money and market rates for the government, but it is not lending the money to the NBN at market rates for the NBN).

The problem is that the government is supposed to be trying to reduce the national debt. The NBN borrowing the money direct and recouping it when the network is sold would keep it 'off the books'. Instead the government has now taken on billions of dollars more debt - so not a good outcome.

Brexit may not mean Brexit at all: UK.gov loses Article 50 lawsuit



"I even remember an episode of Yes Minister from the '80s where the plot revolved around the problems of European integration."

I remember an episode of 'Are You Being Served' that dealt with the same thorny issue.

IoT insecurity: US govt summons tech bosses, bashes heads together


Re: "law requiring landlords to arrange for updates of products they own"

I bought a new TV just last weekend and was surprised and delighted to find one that had no smarts whatsoever. It was not a name brand, however, and it sure wasn't UHD. Still, if it lasts as long as the previous one (9 years) then I've kicked the problem down the road a bit.

Basically, I want one (1) non-mobile internet-connected device in my house. One question that needs to be addressed before the others is, if I buy a 'smart' device and don't connected it to the internet, will it still work? That may need to be legislated in due course.

AI, AI, captain: Royal Navy warships to set sail with computer officers



Captain: "STARTLE, what's that blip over there?"

STARTLE; "Kiss me Hardy".

Captain: "Pardon ?!?"

nbn™ says nobody needs gigabit internet, trumpets XG-Fast at 8Gbps anyway


Re: Why Nobody buys 100mbs

This is NOT a convincing argument in favour of Malcolm's Technology Muddle - the switch from all fibre slowed down the roll out by years in some suburbs. Now that Optus's hybrid network has been shown to be not fit for purpose the 'sooner' part of Malcolm's argument doesn't hold water. Discussions about foreign networks also muddies the waters. The purpose of the NBN was to give Australia a world-leading network to help us overcome the old Tyranny of Distance which has never gone away. You don't lead the world by simply following others at a discreet distance.

Blighty's Home Office database blunders will deprive hundreds of GB driving licences


Re: 259 individuals

Yep, the majority of people in the Western world these days are two pay days away from the street. If you live at home with your parents, it's possible THEY are two pay days away from the street. Banking is an essential service these days, as bankers realised long ago and charge accordingly, and an essential service should not be denied or removed without an appeals process.

Don't panic, but a 'computer error' cut the brakes on a San Francisco bus this week


Re: "Why not just use...the emergency brake lever connected to a drum like on cars"

Right, so lowest common denominator - young people who can't do 'manual', and people who don't get their cars serviced properly, means I can't have a simple system that works in MY car. A pity. I accept that you have to have different system in a bus where the moving mass is so much greater and no one is wearing seat belts.

Source: nbn™'s fibre-to-the-kerb will be VDSL at 100/40Mbps


As to flamewars

This is pretty tame compared to some other sites. Part of the reason is the pretty obvious sockpuppets that appear on any tech site whenever the current Government's approach is criticised. Subtle they aren't. Re the 'wasted' $800m, I believe the Optus deal was a pre-condition for Telstra signing off on the 'sale' of their hybrid network, so it's a little harder to determine if NBN got value for money.

The question not answered by this story though is whether this is a shared 100/40 or is that what's delivered to each individual premises? I'm also still not sure what happens with multi-dwelling units that have, say, 12 apartments. And I'm not asking that just because I live in just such a block, really I'm not.

nbn™ dumps Optus HFC, will use fibre to the kerb for ≈700k sites


Re: 80%+ on 25Mbps or slower != high speed

No one is going to pay more for high speed connections that they don't believe will be delivered. Calling big users 'data hogs' is quite a joke: Labor's original projection was pre-Netflix and pre every news site loading three auto-run videos on every page. Still, the original NBN was designed to cope with such increases in demand. I've got no idea what the Multi Technology Mix (now plus yet another technology) was designed to handle.