* Posts by rh587

692 publicly visible posts • joined 23 Mar 2011


Police chief wants citizens to bring 'net oligarchs to heel

rh587 Silver badge

Re: Civil laws

So many that you seem unable to come up with any examples! There's bound to be some badly reported Daily Mail headline and quite probably a one in a million genuine case, but for the most part our police are hugely under resourced.

Obviously there's the easy go to of the Robin Hood Airport Case. What everyone wrote off as a joke, South Yorkshire Police thought was worth pursuing, and it went all the way to the High Court before some common sense prevailed. How many thousand hours of Police/CPS time went into that?

But maybe that's the 1/million case.

Of course we then have to look at the multiple rape cases that have fallen apart since December because the Police did not disclose all relevant information to the CPS, who then pursued flaky prosecutions which were summarily shredded by the defence. How many hundreds - nay thousands - of hours (at what £?) were pissed up the wall by CPS Lawyers over the past 2-3 years working up cases against innocent individuals who should never have set foot in a court room, much less spent years on bail?

As someone who holds a Firearms Certificate, I have yet to renew my ticket and not have to send it back for correction. They could halve their stationary and postage costs (not to mention the labour resource) if they took the time to get it right on the first attempt! It's invariably stupid things like the Licensing Manager has signed the Certificate in the box where I am supposed to sign it. Entirely avoidable, and causes their plaintive cries of needing more money to ring a little hollow (especially as their counterparts in other Force Areas provide a superb service).

Virgin spaceplane makes maiden rocket-powered flight

rh587 Silver badge

Re: Perhaps?

I think the principle of an air-launched second stage is one worth pursuing as an alternative to ground to space rocketry, which (with the exception of Reaction Engines) is what everyone else is doing.

Well not quite everyone.

Virgin Orbit are developing their LauncherOne rocket which can put ~220kg into LEO. Except LauncherOne is too large to mount on Virgin Galactic's WhiteKnightTwo vehicle and they're just using a former Virgin Atlantic 747-400 as a launch platform. SpaceShipTwo is looking more and more like a toy for moderately rich space cadets who can't afford an ISS trip. There may be some science applications but you can do a lot of those quick experiments on the vomit-comet anyway.

However, they're not the only ones.

Scaled Composites have their own Stratolaunch vehicle in development which can carry three PegasusXL Air-to-Orbit rockets (each capable of putting ~440kg into LEO).

The actual Pegasus rockets have already seen over a decade of service being dropped from a Lockheed Tristar.

Generation Orbit are also working on a much smaller Learjet-carried system offering a sub-orbital rocket and a small (~50kg to LEO) orbital vehicle.

ARCA have also experimented with a variety of bits and pieces though are currently working on mostly surface-launch vehicles because Balloon-Launch was found to be really hard.

Funny how using a surplus airliner is often cheaper than developing an entirely new carrier!

Furious gunwoman opens fire at YouTube HQ, three people shot

rh587 Silver badge

Re: Of all places

For example, violent gun deaths per 100,000 people in 2016:

Japan: 0.04

U.K.: 0.07

USA: 3.85

So, for context, Europe is broadly in the 0.2-0.8 bracket:

- Germany: 0.07

- Norway: 0.1

- Czech Republic: 0.16 (despite allowing Concealed Carry!)

- Sweden: 0.19

- France: 0.22

- Italy: 0.35

- Greece: 0.53

- Netherlands: 0.58

- Serbia: 0.61

- Macedonia: 0.91

- Cyprus: 1.02

You don't want to live in NYC. NY State Firearm Homicides are >4 per 100k, greater than the US average of 3.85.

In fact, citing "UK, Japan, US" numbers is utterly meaningless because the US is enormous. You'd be safer in a state with nice, permissive firearms laws like New Hampshire (0.53), South Dakota (0.68), Vermont (0.75) or Hawaii (0.07) which are all on a par or better than the Netherlands.

The US Average of 3.85 firearm homicides per 100k people is towed up by Louisiana (10.16!) but the top spot goes to that wretched hive of scum and villainy you call your capital - the District of Columbia has 12.46 firearm homicides per 100k people.

Honourable mentions also go to Michigan (5.06 - think Detroit), Arkansas (4.39), Missouri (4.64), Georgia (3.93), and California (3.25, despite having some of the strictest firearms regs in the US)

rh587 Silver badge

Re: @Blank Reg

I'm not a lawyer, but I'm pretty sure gun legislation is covered by national, not EU, law. And I think the restrictions in NL are stricter than in the surrounding countries you mention.

Both. There is an EU Directive covering firearms. Implementation is left to member states. So the UK for instance is unique in prohibiting pistols. The Czech Republic actually goes as far as to permit concealed carry - but under a sane and rigorous licensing system.

rh587 Silver badge

Re: @Blank Reg

I say that because I happen to live in a country (Holland) where weapons are outlawed. Not merely guns, even if you have a baseball bat sitting at a funny spot in your store (for self protection) then you still risk the police fining you because it's illegal to own any kind of weapon. In the surrounding countries (Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg) weapons are also illegal, all under a European law.

Don't talk nonsense. You can own firearms including rifles, pistols and shotguns in all those countries. The Netherlands hosts one of Europes largest annual airgun shooting competitions.

The International Shooting Sports Federation is headquartered in Munich. Funny place to HQ yourself if weapons are "outlawed" in Germany!

Yes, you will need a licence, but firearms are not "outlawed".

rh587 Silver badge

Re: Of all places

Excerpts from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Firearms_licence_(New_Zealand) with comments:

"Licences are issued at the discretion of the police. The possession of firearms is considered a privilege, rather than a right."

That's a broadly similar regime to the UK. If you do not have a criminal record, it is not difficult to get an FAC in the UK.

The fact that NZ licenses are "may issue" not "shall issue" does not imply that the bar for "may" is especially high.

rh587 Silver badge

Re: Of all places

Is America the only country on the entire planet to have these 'root causes'?

Startlingly poor public healthcare, lower life-expectancy than most of Europe, diminishing standards of public education, increasingly militarised Police force.

Not unique to America, but increasingly rare in the OECD and not something that they appear to be making great strides towards fixing.

Combined with a cultural obsession with "prepping", frontier-ship, Second Amendment, etc makes for a heady mix.

rh587 Silver badge

Re: Of all places

Licensing firearms is exactly what Australia did. So you did the same and have similar benefits.

No, Australia banned semi-auto rifles entirely. This is in contrast to NZ which allows them on license, yet has lower gun crime.

rh587 Silver badge

Re: Of all places

And no more mass shootings to date.

I thought we were all educated people here. What's the statistical significance of a singular event?

Same as the UK. "We banned pistols and haven't had another school shooting". No, but we hadn't had one in the preceding 150 years either when ownership was widespread.

rh587 Silver badge

Re: Of all places

Widespread availability of firearms does sort of spring to mind as a remote possibility?

Not really a problem in Finland, the Czech republic or indeed some of the rural states where gun ownership is ~95-100% but gun crime is actually at European levels.

The overwhelming majority of gun crime in the US is committed in the top 10 metro areas and frequently does not involve legally held firearms. Shootings of this nature (and school shootings), whilst terrifyingly frequent, are still very much a minority in the overall firearm-homicide stats.

The majority of America's gun problem is basically the exact same as London's gun problem - gang-on-gang with black-market guns.

Of course they do need to sort out some sort of sane regulatory regime but that will only work if it goes hand-in-hand with some sort of major social welfare and healthcare reforms, particularly targeting the poor inner-city areas and projects which are - in no small part - run by gangs.

rh587 Silver badge

Re: Of all places

Is there anything stopping someone legally buying something like an AR-15 (insert over-powered gun of choice instead) in one state then driving to California to use it? I'm assuming there are a bunch of laws against possession of said weapon in CA, but if they're intending to shoot up people with it, those laws aren't really going to stop them....

Depends where you're from. If you have Californian ID/are a Cali resident, then you can't just hop into another state to buy guns - they won't sell to an out-of-stater (or at least, nothing that would be banned in Cali). Conversely, there is nothing other than the law preventing a Nevadan (for instance) from driving in with their Nevada-legal guns other than the law and the risk of being pulled over on a traffic stop.

YMMV, Federal law only goes so far and the rest depends on state rules and reciprocity agreements.

Law's changed, now cough up: Uncle Sam serves Microsoft fresh warrant for Irish emails

rh587 Silver badge

The exact and precise model to follow is the "flags of convenience" practice used in commercial shipping...

Ikea would also be an interesting case study.

Ikea's based in Sweden right? Except it's headquartered in the Netherlands.

In fact... check this out.

The [Stichting INGKA Foundation] owns the private Dutch company INGKA Holding, based in Leiden (NL), which is the holding company that controls 315 of the 360 outlets of IKEA. INGKA does not own the IKEA franchise and trademark; these are owned by Inter IKEA Systems B.V. in Delft, also in the Netherlands, which receives 3% of all IKEA revenues in royalties. Inter IKEA Systems is owned by Inter IKEA Holding, registered in Luxembourg, which is controlled, in turn, by Interogo Foundation, a Liechtenstein foundation...

It's an incredible tax-avoidance structure which also integrates anti-takeover mechanisms. The article doesn't mention who owns or controls the other 45 stores, and doesn't even touch on the Swedish design studios and purchasing departments who actually design and order the product that is sold by INGKA Holding.

No Falcon Way: NASA to stick with SLS, SpaceX more like space ex

rh587 Silver badge

Re: Little known facts...

All three of Elon Musk's current businesses were underwritten by U.S. tax payer money.

SpaceX provides services and does development work to NASA. They were not underwritten or subsidised outside of some initial start-up funding which was available to all-comers - not a cheque that was specifically cut for SpaceX. This is no more controversial than a government agency paying Dell for computers or a software company for developing a bespoke application. Considering the amount by which SpaceX are now undercutting ULA on ISS Supply missions, that was a very worthwhile bit of investment.

Tesla and SolarCity made use of government incentive schemes, just as other electric car and solar-panel installers did. Why are you levelling special criticism at Musk? What about Nissan or BMW?

Tesla hasn't made a dime profit

Neither has Amazon. Seems like space pioneers are big into "unsuccessful" companies.

has multiple lawsuits for fatalities from users of model S vehicle operating in "autopilot" mode

O rly? There has been one fatality in a Model S and one in a Model X. There has been a separate class-action suit regarding Autopilot, but it is grossly misleading to talk about "multiple lawsuits" in relation to fatalities when each model has been involved in precisely one fatal accident. Yes, "two" is technically "multiple" but that's not what you were inferring or what readers might be reasonably expected to understand from your verbiage.

Musk is being sued by stockholders over the conversion of the solar panel company stock to $500 million in Tesla stock.

Two shareholders specifically. The remainder of Tesla's (many) investors have not felt sufficiently outraged to join the suit. That is perhaps telling. It's also not an obvious slam-dunk considering it's still rumbling on 12 months later.

rh587 Silver badge

Re: Some assembly required

This was my thought too; SpaceX could concentrate on making the regular Falcon a man-rated booster for putting a small capsule into LEO. There's already a market for this with ISS missions.

Not "could" - are. For precisely that (Commercial Crew Contracts). Just last month they were out throwing a Crew Dragon test article in the ocean developing their recovery procedures.

Until BFR comes along, they'd use the Constellation two-launch architecture for for any longer jaunts. Crew goes up on F9, support module, etc on an unmanned F9 or FH (depending on what you're doing), dock in-orbit and go from there.

rh587 Silver badge

Re: Speed

Not mentioned in the article, but also quite important, is that the SLS is faster than Falcon Heavy. If you lob something towards the outer solar system with SLS, it'll get there a lot sooner. For manned flight to Mars, that matters a lot.

Payload is not the only spec that matters.

You're not going to be launching an inter-planetary craft in one shot anyway.

The cramped quarters of Apollo was okay for a couple of days to the Moon and back. Not for months to Mars. A Martian ship is invariably going to be BFR-scale. If it isn't BFR, then it'll be something assembled in-orbit that gives you that much volume (and then powered by Ion Engines or similar). For manned missions it doesn't matter because you're only going to LEO or a near-Earth orbit anyway for transfer into your interplanetary vehicle.

rh587 Silver badge

Re: It's about government control

And it was Nasa managers who wrongly insisted that nothing could be done for the ship's crew if there were serious damage, when in fact, most unusually, on this occasion there was another bird (Atlantis I believe) well advanced in the launch process that could have rescued Columbia's crew.

Atlantis was the closest to being ready, which wasn't that unusual - for much of the Shuttle's career there were launches a month or so apart (not that there were launches monthly, but you'd get a cluster of 2-3 in a 4 month period and then nothing for 6 months). Nonetheless it was several weeks away and Columbia's life support was good for maybe a couple of weeks. There would have been significant corner-cutting to the point that losing Atlantis was a significant risk.

Additionally, the EVA suits Columbia was carrying are not designed to be self-donned. They require help to get on. There is a major question as to whether at least two of the Columbia crew would have been physically able to get suited, into the airlock and across to Atlantis (even if it hadn't blown up on launch or suffered similar foam-strike damage).

Getting more data from DoD assets would only have confirmed their worst suspicions - there was no possibility of in-orbit repair. It is reasonable to suggest that at least one orbiter and two crew were already dead. The question was whether to risk another orbiter and 2-3 more crew to pick up the remaining 5 astronauts.

rh587 Silver badge

Re: It's about government control

SpaceX's record on planning isn't very good. A long time ago their intention was to design a disposable booster that was so cheap to manufacture that it didn't matter that it was being thrown away every launch.

To this end they did do some quite clever things, including the original design of their rocket engine bells. These were made by forming two bells from sheet, pressing one of them to be crinkly, fitting one inside the other and welding / brazing them together. This made all the cooling channels for the bell in only a few operations; quick and a lot cheaper than brazing miles and miles of tubing into the shape of a bell.

Anyway, it turned out that they couldn't get the price down far enough that way. So disposability went, re-usability came in, hence their landing legs, etc.

This is called iteration. It's why SpaceX are running a lucrative launch business and SLS isn't operational. They ran with something, realised it was sub-optimal but worked, so tweaked the design in-service whilst moving forward in incremental blocks validating the rest of the design as they went - instead of allowing the entire project to stall. This contrasts favourable with SLS which has spent over a decade trying to develop the perfect booster to replace a system we already developed in the 1960s despite having the head start of reusing major components from the Shuttle.

Re-using Shuttle engine and solid booster designs is an excellent way to achieve this.

Ah yes, the Shuttle. Unique amongst operational launch vehicles for having no useful launch abort that could separate astronauts from the single most complex part of the launch stack (and consequently most likely to fail - which it did, once).

And when it comes to getting Falcon / Falcon Heavy man rated, meetings between NASA and SpaceX on this topic didn't go well; turns out you can't just claim it's reliable, you have to do all the paperwork to demonstrate that.

And yet despite this, NASA intend to put meatbags on top of SLS on it's second launch.

Meanwhile SpaceX has 49/51 successful F9 launches to it's name, and both the failures would have been survivable had they been carrying a Crew Dragon capsule with a launch abort mechanism.

I know which rocket I'd strap myself on to.

Linux 4.16 arrives, keeps melting Meltdown, preps to axe eight CPUs

rh587 Silver badge

Re: Doesn't Mikrotik run on Tile?

> I believe Mikrotik's own hardware runs on Tile processors, and doesn't RouterOs run an embedded Linux kernel?

The Cloud Core Router range appears to. Most of the RouterBoard products as well as the CRS line are on MIPS chips though.

That said I don't think RouterOS is even using a v4 kernel. They're not on a bleeding-edge release so as and when they get to updating the linux kernel they ship with, they'll have to use 4.15 for the CCR line until the TILE hardware goes EOL.

Brit cloud slinger iomart goes TITSUP, knackers Virgin Trains, Parentpay

rh587 Silver badge

Re: sort of reminds me

According to the record on PeeringDB, they do peer at IXManchester (albeit only a 10G connection, piffling compared to dual 80G at LINX).

Given that they have a presence in Equinix Manchester Williams/Kilburn (MA1), they could presumably pick up some transit from a provider there as well.

Seems more likely (as per Alister's experience in Derby) that the fibres coming out of the affected DCs are all in the same duct for some distance, meaning that even with redundant/diverse links that (eventually) split off to go North/South, if you physically ding them between the DC and the split, you'll take out the lot...

Meet the open sorcerers who have vowed to make Facebook history

rh587 Silver badge

Re: Please just don't care enough

... the real stumbling block has always been the bunch of coppers raiding your house in the wee hours because of some bullshit/threat/porn/hate that was published on your server or from your IP address.

A distributed social network run by volunteers for free would still need to abide by the laws. Probably by the laws of every country where the content can be accessed from.

That was rather my point. Your node only stores your content. You retain physical control over the storage.

Of course a federated system that caches/stores/redistributes other people's content will run into those sorts of issues.

rh587 Silver badge

Re: Please just don't care enough

You're trying to sell £100 box to people who go for the cheapest ISP and "free" FB services?

But who then turn around and spend £30/mo on Sky TV, pay for an XBL subscription, think nothing of changing their £700 smartphone ever couple of years, drop £40 a time on the latest AAA game titles.

It's about marketing and presentation.

rh587 Silver badge

Re: Please just don't care enough

Once this little storm has blown over, expect to see full steam head towards more consolation of control, less power to the end-user..

Yes, I would suggest that what it actually needs is a truly user-friendly federated system.

"Mastadon/Diaspora/<thing> in a box". Plenty of people have reasonably swift internet connections these days (50/20). You buy a box, plug it in, set up your identity and connect to your federated network(s) of choice, self-hosting your content. Storage isn't expensive - my total FB archive came to 300MB - mostly photos and videos (albeit I am not a heavy user). A £100 always-on box with a few gigs of storage would be more than sufficient for non-technical users. Let it grab updates automatically - no need to involve users in actually maintaining a Ruby environment or anything.

The stumbling block has always been bandwidth. The actual demand on your individual content in a social network is unlikely to be terribly high.

This would offload a goodly chunk of the bandwidth and storage costs for running a network.

Brit retailer Currys PC World says sorry for Know How scam

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Best Buy

I have to say, my limited experience with Best Buy's short-lived foray in the UK was overwhelmingly positive.

Went in to look at DSLRs. They'd struck that staffing balance where they weren't sidling up to try and sell to you, but there was someone at the end of the aisle when you needed them (instead of spending 10 minutes traipsing around wondering if the store was actually staffed or whether you could legitimately just walk out of the unattended entrance with armfuls of merchandise).

What's more, the young lady in the camera section had an opinion. She knew her product and wasn't just telling me that this one had more megapixels than that one by reading the labels.

I was kind of sorry to see them disappear.

As compared to the one time I bought a laptop from PCWorld (for the office. Emergency that unfortunately required a device today) and the sales drone was trying to extoll the wonders of Win8 (and upsell something that not only did I not need, but which no one in the history of IT has ever needed) when I had to stop him and say "I honestly don't care. The first thing that's going to happen is I'm going to wipe it and install W7Pro."

Your average computer enthusiast would understand that this was a business purchase, but in this case his face instead clouded over into a puzzled expression as he asked "Why would you want to do that?".

Why the f- do you think?

Techies building UK web smut age check tools: You'll get a spec next week

rh587 Silver badge

Re: I'm assuming

I have a BT router and there's no way to change the DNS.

You can manually set your DNS provider on your preferred device, instead of using the one provided by the router via DHCP.

It'll be buried in your network settings somewhere - instead of accepting from DHCP simply set it to

Only thing you then need to be careful of is if you go to a hotel or are trying to get onto some other public wifi - they'll use their DNS server to direct you to their captive portal to sign in, which won't work if your device is insistent on connecting to instead of the internal DNS they're offering.

It took me longer than I care to admit to figure that one out...

Maplin shutdown sale prices still HIGHER than rivals

rh587 Silver badge

Im also certain that online retailers have to pay a shit load more in IT costs than companies like Maplin.

Considering Maplin also offered online ordering/delivery and therefore had associated warehousing/picking/posting/IT costs... probably not.

To be honest, modern logistics requires a hefty amount of IT. Whether you're taking orders from a website and posting out boxes of picked product, or taking orders from retail stores and replenishing their shelves makes very little difference.

NASA on SpaceX's 2015 big boom: Bargain bin steel liberated your pressure vessel

rh587 Silver badge

Re: A bad move by NASA

I certainly would not place my life or commercial goods in the hands of either SpaceX or Musk

So what, you'd place them in NASA's hands instead? The organisation that developed the space shuttle, unique in having no useful launch abort system to could separate astronauts from explodey rocket engines.

Are you Falcon sure, Elon? Musk vows Big Rocket will go up 2019

rh587 Silver badge

Re: Musk really does see himself as the Saviour of Mankind

To make it self sufficent just in air and food you need plants. Huge numbers of plants. Insanely huge numbers of plants. In turn, this needs building material to build a greenhouse on the moon/mars to put them in, plus water for both you and the plants. And fertiliser or a precise mix of nutriants to feed to the plants. Whatever, they need them and it takes up both cubic space and mass, as does shipping in oxygen. You can probably rely on the people to produce the Co2 for the plants after all.

It's a relatively closed system. Bar a few concentrated nutrient sachets, you recycle your waste...

And if this is to survive WW3, your minimum viable poulation size for the purposes of genetic diversity is 4,139 people. (Plus spares for the people who suicide when they realise they are the last humans in the universe if you want to get into that, and i'd rather not)

You don't need 4,139 people, you need 4139 sets of DNA. i.e. a sperm bank. Ship up an entire "B Population" in case it all goes tits up on Earth and you need genetic diversity on Mars.

Your talking square miles worth of room simply for the plants for air, which might also double up for food if your lucky. I'm not so sure about water and recycling there, but again massive filtration systems would be required. And his is before we start considering the living quarters, creature comforts etc.

And this is where inflatables (hello Bigelow, your time has come) and Boring Company (subterranean spaces) come into play.

The moon simply is closer and easier to do things with. The only thing Mars really has going for it is the extra gravity, but that's only 2.5x what there is on the moon and under half what we have on earth. (1.62ms for the moon vs 3.71 for Mars and 9.8 for Earth)

It's got ice and H3. That's about it. Once you've schlepped your mass into LEO, going to Mars or Moon is frankly neither here nor there. If it's a robotic pathfinder mission, you can let it take it's time - ion engines plus gravity slingshots. No need to use an expensive, energetic trajectory unless there's meatbags on board being irradiated.

rh587 Silver badge

Re: Musk really does see himself as the Saviour of Mankind

I don't get this. The logical way forwards seems to be to build a base/assembly point at one of the Lagrange points (L4 or L5 are the obvious choices) followed by a moon base (nice and easy to leave as well...) followed by progressing out to Mars once the tech and supply problems have been resolved.

His entire mission architecture is built around homesteading - namely manufacturing Methane on Mars instead of lugging fuel out there to use on your return journey.

There is little Methane (or it's composite elements!) to be found at the Lagrange points, or indeed on the Moon.

It is precisely the reason he has gone to great lengths to develop new Methalox engines for BFR (the Keralox Merlins used on the Falcon family would be much harder to fuel on Mars).

The premise of Mars is that in principle you could terraform it, but even in the short term there's enough atmosphere and elemental stuff going on to work with. No, it's not a Garden of Eden, but BFR is literally built to go to Mars, not to the Moon.

The question is, what is there on the Moon? Why are you going to the moon? Because it's closer than Mars? Closer doesn't necessarily imply easier (in the long run). On the Moon there is probably some ice, aaaaand, that's about it. Now if you want to mine Helium-3, then that's a very fine reason to establish a mining outpost. Likewise a Deep Space Gateway either in Lunar Orbit or Lagrange is eventually going to be needed as well.

And eventually, the things we need for Deep Space work, are going to be better off coming from the Moon and Mars with their relatively shallow gravity wells than from Earth.

rh587 Silver badge

Re: Spring is coming, the windbags are starting to blow

Okay, Mr Musk, I know that billionaires have to be outrageously upbeat in everything they say, but you are really pushing things.

The Saturn V already had a payload of 140 metric tons. If you're doubling the thrust and can only add 10 metric tons to that, then I don't see that you're doing all that good.

Obvious troll is obvious. But I'll feed you a little for the benefit of others who come through these parts.

Saturn V lifted 140tons and you threw away the rocket.

BFR lifts 150 tons and you get the rocket back (with it's expensive engines).

That's good.

Elon Musk invents bus stop, waits for applause, internet LOLs

rh587 Silver badge

Re: in London

I remember them drilling to lay the new supports on Bridge in London (I am not allowed to name it), slight issue in that they drilled through a secret tunnel and flooded it! Not just any old tunnel either, special tunnel that links downing street to whitehall!

Intriguing. Remind me, just how many bridges are there between Downing Street and Whitehall?

Not that the existence of tunnels beneath all the major Westminster establishments from Parliament up through the FCO, to the Admiralty and MoD is any secret (although the specific layout may be).

I assume they punched through the far end of a tunnel that further along linked the two. One would be hard pressed to build a bridge along Whitehall itself...

rh587 Silver badge

Re: I suspect you're not thinking like a futureologist!

I think I read about that in a book. Have London underground trains back to back all the way along then join the in a continuous loop. Just make them so that it's just above walking speed so that a quick jog is enough to board. Problem solved,(those in wheel chairs came down a small ski ramp to get some speed up to enter easily)

Isaac Asimov thought of it in 1954 - Caves of Steel being the tome that you are seeking, in which our heroes "ride the conveyors" that sequentially accelerate people up to train speed.

rh587 Silver badge

Re: Even the greatest minds have a few failures

I think Concorde already proved that there is a limit to how much people will pay for speed. Or at least a limit to how many of those people exist.

No it didn't. Concorde never turned an operating loss (the circumstances of it's birth and being sold to BA/AF for £1 not withstanding).

Concorde was profitable to the end, but BA simply realised that they could make a lot more profit per passenger by forcing them into subsonic First Class and the business-class-only London City-JFK route. In the wake of the global aviation downturn post-9/11, they needed to maximise profit from every seat they were flying.

Sneaky satellite launch raises risk of Gravity-style space collision

rh587 Silver badge

Re: I recall an incident

> That's wishes and rainbows, isn't it?

On the contrary, Rainbows are a well understood topic in mainstream science, a function of light refracting through atmospheric water vapour, etc.

The pot of gold on the other hand... that eludes us.

Fresh docs detail 10-year link between Geek Squad informers and Feds

rh587 Silver badge

This leads me to the ethical question, is it right for computer technicians to search customers hard drives for pictures? Where do you draw the line? Clearly in this case someone has run a deep search in unallocated space.

Is the invasion of privacy worth it if you catch paedophiles?

If they're digging around beyond the scope of the job they're doing, then I'd have to ask WTF they're about.

If they're trying to clear out some malware and are rooting around in the browser settings where they happen across a cookie or cached images, then I'd be inclined to say bang to rights.

rh587 Silver badge

Re: reliability of evidence

I would say that if a computer has been to such a facility and out of the hands of the owner, then any evidence found on it is suspect. Anyone who has had root access could have put something there.

But whilst not convict-able evidence in and of itself, it's also grounds for further investigation and potentially a search warrant on the owner's home to examine other hardware.

If you take your car to the dealership for a service, don't expect them to ignore the dead body or the severed limbs in the boot. Expect a visit from the boys in blue.

In the case cited of course the image was in unallocated space, which a techie has no business snooping around in unless they're being paid to do data recovery, but the idea that technicians could stumble over illicit material in the normal course of their work is hardly novel or fanciful.

'A sledgehammer to crack a nut': Charities slam UK voter ID trials

rh587 Silver badge

My recollection is that I've always received a polling card through the post before a local or general election, which I've presented to the officiating officer at the polling station prior to voting.

You do receive a card, but that's more of a confirmation that you are registered, and informing you which polling station you are registered at. It is not required to actually vote.

If you turn up without your polling card and simply tell them your name they will issue your ballot paper (and strike through your name on their list, preventing you voting again later).

Bitcoin heist with a twist: This time it's servers that were stolen

rh587 Silver badge

and the servers dumped at an e-waste site.

Or y'know, into a volcano. Iceland has a reliable stream of magma into which contraband can "disappear". An e-waste site would probably notice 600 server chassis turning up a week after a DC got rolled over.

WordPress is now 30 per cent of the web, daylight second

rh587 Silver badge

Re: How do they know...

...whether sites run a CMS or not? Many of my sites do but you would never know looking at the source code.


It's right there in the header:

<meta name="generator" content="WordPress 4.9.1" />

And there's usually a "Powered by Wordpress" down in the footer somewhere.

Even if you stripped those out, the entire structure of Wordpress belies it's core. It's not hard to look for URLs in the source pointing at directories with names like "/wp-includes/" or "/wp-content/" unless you've literally gone through the entirety of WP with a find-and-replace to strip out any "wp-" references (which will probably break updates and installed plugins).

Other CMSs will have their own directory structures and distinctive headers which will give away their core, unless they've undergone a ground-up refactoring - which 99.9% of installations won't.

Full shift to electric vans would melt Royal Mail's London hub, MPs told

rh587 Silver badge

Re: Mount Pleasant

That's a good place to have an electric vehicle hub, because most of the roads leading from there are downhill. No need for power, just give each van a push to send it on its way in the morning.

Getting them back at the end of the day? Er, I guess that could be a problem. Just don't be the last drop of the day where your parcels are delivered along with a polite "Do you mind if I charge my van here?"

Not at all. They'll weigh more when heavily laden, and generate more power than they need to haul themselves back up empty, just like this mining truck which generates a 200kwh surplus each day.

Yes, I'm being a bit facetious. That's a quirk of a very specific location where the quarry is uphill from where they need the material. But still, it perhaps flags up the importance of route-planning and if you can go flat/downhill whilst heavy, and go uphill at the end of a route then that's going to offer efficiency savings (all else being equal).

rh587 Silver badge

Re: 2nd Hand Market

Really these batteries should be considered consumables, and the cost of the eventual replacement factored into the running costs listed in the advertising.

They are. Right below the bit where they tell you how much the car costs, they include a table with the monthly rental cost for the battery, or the price to purchase outright.

As far as London delivery companies go, you're balancing a purchase premium and monthly battery rental against Congestion Charge exemption and massively reduced "fuel" costs (CC may also start to apply in central areas of Birmingham, Manchester, etc if certain forces get their way, which would hasten the economic case if EVs remain exempted).

That said, with the number of cars that are leased these days and never driven by the actual owner, it is perhaps a moot point. Have it for 3 years, and by the time the cells start to degrade you give it back and get a new one.

rh587 Silver badge

Re: Not exactly a surprise

But that rather misses the point - yes, it's solvable, but it has not yet been solved. It may just be a case of building more generation capacity, beefing up substations, and so on, but until those things are actually done, the infrastructure we have right here and now simply cannot handle a large number of electric cars.

But that is where you miss the point.

Yes, that will happen. Eventually. In the mean time, why are Royal Mail complaining that EV is impractical because they can't transition their entire fleet?

Why is it not reasonable that they might move to 30-50% EV over the next 5 years (depending on how they manage their fleet renewal). Many, many sorting centres could accommodate 30% of their fleet going to EV, especially if they're the small vans that don't do many miles (i.e. not needing a full charge every night) from the least efficient routes (i.e. ultra-urban, heavy start-stop, terrible for ICE, perfect for battery-electric).

rh587 Silver badge

Re: No second hand market

That's because we're engineers, not innumerate idealists.

And as engineers we all know that there are rarely one-size-fits-all solutions.

For instance, any engineer would be hard-pressed to conclude that there is any powertrain more appropriate for ultra-urban stop-start work (such as delivering the mail) than battery-electric. The only consideration therefore is whether it is disproportionately expensive compared to conventional equivalents.

Once you reach reasonable cost parity (which as it happens is rapidly approaching), the reduction in noise pollution, street-level particulate emissions (public health) and improved driving characteristics are a total no-brainer.

Quiet, enormous torque away from the line, not burning energy when sat idling at the lights.

Conversely for other duty cycles ICE or Extended Range-Hybrid are/may be more appropriate.

rh587 Silver badge

This all seems a bit suspect. Okay, so you don't have a connection for full EV conversion. That doesn't preclude partial transitioning. I don't know if Royal Mail have to pay the Congestion Charge but a Renault Kangoo EE is not that much more expensive than the petrol version these days and the monthly battery hire is easily covered by avoiding the CC for London Operators, as well as the reduced servicing costs.

Likewise my local Sorting Office is on the edge of town, right next to an electrified main line. There's no shortage of power infrastructure in the area one way or another, and there is space for extra sub-station capacity if needs be. Given that we're a mid-sized county town, it seems a reasonable proposition that in the short term you could be introducing EVs to urban routes and retaining petrol/hybrid for rural routes.

I notice they're trialling a UK startup's 4-tonners. That's well and good for that mid-range segment between local delivery and HGV classes, it doesn't explain the lack of Kangoo-class vehicles coming in to replace the older vehicles in the Transit-Connect fleet. Had they lasted a bit longer they could have bought out Modec in the same way that Deutsche Post bought StreetScooter, or at least become a long-term partner - Modec only ever made about 400 vehicles. An RM order for ~20,000 over 5-10 years would have allowed them to scale production, cut costs and carve out a market for themselves, especially now Li-Ion battery costs are tumbling.

If the UK can't go full-electric because of grid-capacity concerns, it seems like the most obvious priorities for conversion are taxis, local delivery vehicles and buses - urban-centric, short journeys with high idle-times and start-stop cycles in traffic and at junctions.

IC Engines are at their most efficient when hot, doing a steady speed (i.e. motorways), so we don't care about the long-haul motorway warriors. There is no reason why the likes of Royal Mail should be fouling up urban air quality with slow moving start-stop cycles that clock less than 50-70miles/day.

UK watchdog Ofcom tells broadband firms: '30 days to sort your speeds'

rh587 Silver badge

Re: But there is no legal imperative for these companies to comply with the code

The backhaul congestion regards BTOpenreach backhaul between the BT 21cn Internode/ISP.

Congestion/faults/re-routes specific to the ISP.

Congestion at the LINX (London Internet Exchange).

On the topic of that last one, I've never quite understood why BT haven't invested in extending their IP core to IXMAN or indeed the other LINK locations (IXScotland/Cardiff). Manchester has a significant data centre community, and it makes absolutely zero sense to send traffic from the North down to the OpenReach core around London in order to be bounced back up to a server in Manchester. Virgin do, as do BalkBalk, Vodafone and O2, along with the big-hitting content providers like MS/Apple, Cloudflare, BBC, Akamai, etc.

Might add some redundancy for those occasions when their Uninterruptible Power Supplies are interrupted....

rh587 Silver badge

Yes, a small number of people have lousy speeds and high latency

When you say "a small number", Virgin towing that average up with 100-300Mbps DOCSIS services should tell you just how shonky the xDSL services are that many people have access to.

If the average is 34.6Mb/s then for each Virgin Customer receiving 100Mbps, there are two DSL customers receiving ~1Mb/s.

Virgin have 4.2million broadband customers. You do the maths.

The DNS was designed for diversity, but site admins aren't buying

rh587 Silver badge

Re: "a comparatively costless and therefore puzzlingly rare decision"

Unfortunately, many of the registrars don't allow you to mix their own DNS with third-party secondaries which slave from it, or don't allow their own DNS servers to slave from some other primary.

Popular example: Amazon route53 does not allow additional secondaries (AXFR), nor can it act as secondary itself

To be fair, the ones that don't (like Cloudflare) are usually the ones where your DNS provider is not just a DNS provider but is also doing things like CDN or - in extreme cases - something like CF's new Warp Tunnel which calls for them to have some level of dynamic control over the DNS so they can route traffic to their network's ingest points rather than directly to your host.

In principle it is of course possible to disambiguate the two - your root DNS pointing to the public entry IPs/domains of (one or more) CDN providers who each have a private DNS record to your actual host IPs which are never made public. However, setting that up is much more complex than the turnkey solution these providers are typically trying to offer ("set these two name-servers with your registrar and we'll sort the rest").

Use of HTTPS among top sites is growing, but weirdly so is deprecated HTTP public key pinning

rh587 Silver badge

Re: Stubbornly insistant

Errm... How could I break this to you...

May I strongly suggest that you should consider delegating your web server configuration tasks / maintenance to someone else?

The problem is typically when you do that.

I have some cheapy web hosting that uses Plesk and in the directory structure there are indeed separate HTTP and HTTPS folders. This is the sort of hosting a less-savvy user would subscribe to.

If I were setting up my own server then obviously yes, I would bind 80 and 443 to the same folder and only have one copy of the content (with the requisite redirect for any traffic landing on port 80).

And in the case of the cheapy web hosting, I dump everything in the HTTPS folder, click the "On" toggle for Let's Encrypt and run the lot over HTTPS. But it's easy to see where a novice might be confused, especially if they're reading a dangerously dated copy of "XHTML For Beginners (Updated for 2007!)" that they found in the library.

rh587 Silver badge

Serious question. Is there any real point in sites like The Reg, Slashdot, Stack Overflow, etc requiring https? I'm here to read stuff and maybe post a comment or two.

It's authentication as much as privacy.

1. Your ISP cannot insert advertising into your HTTPS stream. ISPs can and do have history of inserting ads into HTTP pages, and have then been hoisted by their own petard when they accidentally served malicious ads to their customers.

2. Related, things like setting security headers to prohibit x-site scripting don't work terribly well if an intermediary can strip those headers out! You need the HTTPS to protect those headers.

3. People are idiots. They reuse passwords. I would hope that noone on El Reg is reusing their forum password anywhere else (or if they are, that it's a specific password "for forums I don't care about"), but in many cases your users cannot be trusted. You are protecting them from themselves by hashing their passwords and not passing them in plain HTTP, even if the perceived value of the service is relatively low.

rh587 Silver badge

Re: I only just noticed...

Sometimes. I'm sure it was all https for a bit, but today it's back to regular http on the main site and only https on forums.reg. Maybe they're making sure to stay at 38.4% secure?

For the <www.thereg> subdomain they're not doing redirects to the HTTPS version, so you can browse to http or https and both work.

<forums.theregister.co.uk> do have redirects enabled, so if you try and hit the http, it will bounce you to https.

I assume the absence of redirects on the www. is down to having some legacy or mixed content that could break browsers, whereas the forums are entirely https safe.

Neither part has HSTS enabled however because they're using Cloudflare which IIRC is a bit all-or-nothing as far as HSTS is concerned.

Apple: Er, yes. Your iCloud stuff is now on Google's servers, too

rh587 Silver badge

As an aside, I thought I read a year or so ago that this is all temporary as Apple is building out its own server farms. Aren't some of their services already on Apple servers (e.g. the App Store, videos, music, etc.?)

Apple run their own substantial CDN for servicing things like Apple Music, software updates and App Store downloads. A redditor who claimed to be a Google Engineer (yes yes, make of that what you will) reckoned they're more or less just using S3 and Google Cloud as dumb storage for encrypted blobs. This gives them a modicum of diversity/redundancy and allows them to play off suppliers for $/TB whilst also offering superior performance in regions where AWS/Google have Data Centres but Apple don't (yet).

Unless anyone has cracked AES256 (or Apple foul up spectacularly and lose everyone's private keys), it's not something we should be terribly concerned about.