* Posts by DaemonProcess

46 posts • joined 8 Apr 2011

Former BT CEO to lead task force that will advise UK.gov on diversifying the nation's telecoms supply chain


Re: seen it

Lordy, it was supposed to be a joke... but as usual someone else thought of it first and made money out of it when I didn't. Feel free to submit your own half-baked ideas too.


seen it

I've witnessed first support, then product development be moved offshore over the past 30 years. Most western IT companies are just shells of management, sales and project managers, with everything else located in cheaper labour territories.

Maybe we Reg readers can create a product, something like 5G AI-adaptive Multi-layer Blockchain On K8s Managed Above Cloud Storage (5G-AIM-BOG-KMACS). Requires a mere 100000 micro-satellites consisting of a RPI-zero, a USB-drive and a transceiver. Give it a pretty GUI and senior civil servants will leap on it.

Why cloud costs get out of control: Too much lift and shift, and pricing that is 'screwy and broken'



Beware who you give a corporate credit card to and check the bills to ensure cloud providers are not cropping up. This especially applies across countries.

Set up your cloud governance before you move anything and rigidly control it. Requiring Devops pipelines and build templates can help a lot.

Beware customer contracts that say "you will get your own dedicated hardware/server" because auto-scaling 10 web servers across 10 customers won't be possible and you won't get cost savings.

Trying to combine security uplift with a migration will cause delays and cost over-runs. Be sensible about it but don't go to either extreme. Asking security will cause them to list everything in the toy box as a minimal requirement. Similarly I've seen too much *.* just to get stuff going because the IAM was too hard.

Kubernetes (the latest must-have) can in fact cause utilisation to go down rather up (against VMs) when everybody wants their own dedicated cluster, for reliability, contractual or other reasons.

Anyone else noticed that the top countries for broadband speeds are well-known tax havens? No? Just us then?


Forex, speed of connection etc

It started with forex, then general stocks, commodities, now it is crypto tokens. Speed of trade is a factor in margin. I have seen trillions in trade$ move from continent to continent every day. Locate your offshore tax-limited trading in a small country and ensure (bribe) the leaders pay for high speed connections. I am sure someone will be trying to split photons to see if they can beat physics next.

The small wealthy population gets a bonus.

Brit MPs vote down bid to delay IR35 reforms, press ahead with new tax rules for private-sector contractors


Right to (not) work

This is being pushed in by the Conservatives as a prelude to US right-to-work legislation. Unfortunately I don't believe the UK version will grant employees the same rights as in the USA. It will be totally one-sided in favour of the US corporate sponsors, gerrymandered into trade deals as a precondition.

I also suspect that Brexit will force an acceleration of these changes as a means to creating cheaper employment in the UK than in the rest of Europe. Sorry for bringing up the B word.

Moore's Law is deader than corduroy bell bottoms. But with a bit of smart coding it's not the end of the road


optimize / optimise

There are after-market optimizing compilers for (even) Node, Python and Java - a language is just a language, GC or not. People just tend to use them in the standard manner (interpreted, JIT or whatever). A compilation stage could simply be added to a devops pipeline, if only people trusted their near-to-non-existent testing these days (a-hem iOS and Android).

I programmed one of the world's first prototype cash machines. It only had 256 12-bit words of RAM in magnetic core storage. Out of that I had to handle screen i/o, cash dispensing and comms. Obviously it had fairly limited functionality and there were separate i/o processors and hardware controllers to handle stuff but it's amazing what skills we have lost. For example had to use self-modifying code to save memory, so the screen output routine was essentially the same as the the cash dispensing and serial output loops, with a few changed words in the middle as required.

As for the comment about C being close to Assembler, there was a language in-between those, called NEAT-3 which was like assembler but with variables, it was a fun way to learn about instructions, stacks and algorithms. Also you get millicode and microcode but those are different subjects.

You are not a real programmer unless you remember when an assembler multiplication of 200x5 could be made faster than 5x200. But then again I did once know a programmer who's idea of a program was a C header followed by 200 lines of un-commented assembler...

Software bug in Bombardier airliner made planes turn the wrong way



<rant warning> This makes me so mad. It reduces my opinion of the people who design planes. To assume the pilots are too stupid to fly, automating ever more and at the same time reducing training so that the pilots really are struggling in some cases, then putting their faith into software based on the readings of non-redundant sensors. It creates situations not just like the 737 MAX but also the French airlines crash into the Atlantic based on a single iced piezoelectric sensor - the Air France pilots - who were not trained to safely identify which systems aren't working - assumed that if they stalled the plane the software would save them! Incidentally those sensors have since been re-designed twice to improve the built-in heater; actually I would like to see 2 more of each so that the software has a quorum if one of them fails. Add to that is the news that all 4 redundant sets of avionics in Aibus A380s were placed in the same cupboard, instead of separated 2 at each end of the plane and in one airline's case right under the 1st class showers which once leaked and took out 3 of the 4 avionics systems nearly crashing the aircraft. I am not particularly clever but I think even I could do a better job of this. Is it politics? Accountants? Is it the costs of extra sensors? Is it aeronautical engineers treating IT design as having lesser importance? Were the IT architects the stupid ones? I'm so annoyed </rant>

A real loch mess: Navy larks sunk by a truculent torpedo


Not the only one to do that

I also heard of a stuck giroscope that caused a torp to curl a huge arc off Portland Bill and whizz up Weymouth beach at v.fast knots. Thankfully the beach is a wide gentle slope so nothing was hit.

A paper clip, a spool of phone wire and a recalcitrant RS-232 line: Going MacGyver in the wonderful world of hotel IT


Sinclair ZX Spectrum comms

Before the days of Spectrum emulators, I managed to copy some bits of Sinclair ZX Spectrum BASIC programs which had sentimental value to an IBM PC using 6 paper clips and a piece of twin+earth. It did require an RS-232 expansion box on the speccy but still worked, albeit at 50 baud only. Faster speeds up to 9600 were only possible for brief periods because s/w flow control didn't seem to work very well and I had run out of paper clips, so h/w flow control wasn't possible. Actually the Sinclair BASIC wasn't much different to QBASIC and the programs ran fine. I treated the PC as a line printer, transferring the code using LPRINT command.

German scientists, Black Knights and the birthplace of British rocketry


It is worth going into the control room in summer, when I went there a few years ago they had a model of Prospero and some control units.

Linux in 2020: 27.8 million lines of code in the kernel, 1.3 million in systemd


Re: I've had .....

totally agree - OSS was / is brilliant, all my problems started with ALSA and JACK. But with that and systemd I simply dont have the time to fix anything any more. Linux is the new Windows.

From Soviet to science fiction icon, the weird life of Isaac Asimov 100 years on


4th law

Actually the end of the Robots series brought up the requirement of a 4th law of robotics, based around the needs of the many versus the needs of the few, which would under those circumstances allow robots to kill people if it saved others, therefore bringing forth the debate about the quality of information, equality of races, are robot armies justified and all of that - basically an invitation for others to follow on the story developing these philosophical questions. For example would we allow an autonomous robot drone to kill an enemy general if that saves multiple lives elsewhere (I know AF drones are currently remote control, mostly). Topical.

Just in case you were expecting 10Gbps, Wi-Fi 6 hits 700Mbps in real-world download tests


I'm still sceptical. Until they try it in a paper mill, which is notorious for absorbing wireless, or in my house which has 2 foot thick internal stone walls, I am reluctant to accept a test in a facility which has reflective surfaces.

Why can't passport biometrics see through my cunning disguise?


Glasses or not and e-gate technique

Firstly I would like to say that I loved the old Iris system, it let me swan past some very long queues in under 30 seconds. However it was all too frequently blocked by people sorry eejits who had never registered to use it and expected it to magically work even though they never showed their passport to anything or anyone.

I wear glasses all the time, this doesn't stop HMPO from insisting I take them off for the photo even though I will never appear at a booth without wearing them. I ignored the instruction and it was ok with the guy who processed my application at the office. However, very frequently the e-gates decide not to recognise me. The assistants tell me to take them off which sometimes works. Once I decided to preempt the anti-glasses dogma and took them off in the first case - it still didn't work, so when the assistant looked away I put the glasses on and hey presto it let me through. After using the e-gates nearly every week ever since they were introduced (my carbon footprint is heinous) here is my advice:

1. Lean slightly forward so your face is closer to the camera.

2. Look straight at the camera lens not at your own picture.

3. Push your passport forward all the way to the stops and hold it down very very very firmly across the page.

Talking a Blue Streak: The ambitious, quiet waste of the Spadeadam Rocket Establishment


That rocket on the trolley needs to be towed to a museum. Why not Cosford or IWM?

They terrrk err jerrrbs! Vodafone replaces 2,600 roles with '600 bots' in bid to shrink €48bn debt

Paris Hilton


No your job is not being moved to another person, you are being replaced by a small piece of Python.

Good news – America's nuke arsenal to swap eight-inch floppy disks for solid-state drives



Will this run on Hercules-390 on a Raspberry Pi ? Would probably be faster and easier route to hardware replacement.

But IBM would have a legal fit, then try to persuade USG to upgrade to a z15 that uses 0.01 of a single core for the app.

Of course hardware replacement wouldn't have all the latest must-have buzz-words, like micro-service etc

Big bang theory: Was mystery explosion over New York caused by a meteor? Dunno. By a military jet? Maybe...


Re: I heard it

Sounds like you heard a meteor. Shame, I was hoping they had re-started the XB-70 Valkyrie program ;-)

Enjoying that 25Mbps internet speed, America? Oh, it's just 6Mbps? And you're unhappy? Can't imagine why


paper tape

Maybe some people could get by on 1940s punched tape as a faster method than their DSL provider. If it gets sent back to base in a loop, it could be put into a recycling mash and re-made. Just a few hours latency on ping, won't hurt anybody.

Remember that crypto-exchange boss who mysteriously died after his customers' coins disappeared? Of course he totally stole them


6 months too soon

Its quite ironic that Bitcoin has quadrupled in value since he died.

Go fourth and multi-Pi: Raspberry Pi 4 lands today with quad 1.5GHz Arm Cortex-A72 CPU cores, up to 4GB RAM...



This is all I ever wanted from a Raspberry Pi. I think they should reduce the product line-up to a Zero for education and the 4B for home hobbyists, forget the rest.

RAMBleed picks up Rowhammer, smashes DRAM until it leaks apps' crypto-keys, passwords, other secrets



I am wondering if we finally have a way of completely bypassing the firmware controlled partitions on IBM mainframes - in theory, the ones that run Linux anyway.

Any experts on here have an opinion ?

Sounds to me like a logged in user can read memory in a completely different partition without requiring any privileged context, you are just reading raw bits from the chips and trying to figure out what they are. Once you have the hacked login details you gain entry through the front door.

At 4+ hours of solid CPU it would cost you a bit in MIPS charges. Also the 160% (?IIRC) spare installed ECC RAM is a mitigation.

Having done it with Linux, they can then see if a similar attack is possible in AIX and any other o/s that temporarily stores provided credentials in memory.

No wonder Oracle exec Kurian legged it – sky darkens as cloudy tech does not make it rain


live by the sword and die by the sword

If you believe in the capitalist free market system and you do well by it, then you must also be prepared to suffer when people stop purchasing your wares. Larry is one of the world's greatest salesmen. Like Donald, he knows that it doesn't matter what you say as long as you close the deal ( while being lawyered-up to the nines). If he goes into politics then he will be unassailable.

UK.gov went ahead with under-planned, under-funded IT upgrade? Sounds about right


fundamental bad idea

In my poor, semi-informed opinion vetting is the last thing you should try to automate. Paper is so much more secure and there should only be one copy of it. The moment the data goes electronic it's integrity is subject to a quantum of confidence.

Just how rigged is America's broadband world? A deep dive into one US city reveals all


need for speed

Yep, no excuse for poor service and monopoly in metro areas.

But for rural areas, the distances are so large and the lengths of cable/fibre are so great we'd be talking 10s of billions to refresh it all. Same for Australia - just search for images of 'Overlay Australia' and you will get the picture of how big it really is - same size as Europe, same size as the USA but with far fewer people in the middle.

One problem is ownership. In the USA, if you own something you are god and the slave-master. If anyone tries to take it away or force you to share it then you can claim socialist nationalisation which is downright un-American. Ever since the practical monopoly of Standard Oil was broken up and then found not to fix anything but rather create multiple small SOs (one of which is Esso) removing monopolies has been regarded as a no-fix idea.

Japan finds long, deep tunnel on the Moon


Second Foundation

R. Daneel Olivaw was his name and I finally got to him at the end of the Foundation series. One of my favourites. I wonder if Japan will do an Elon and send an Asimo to sit there.

Phased out: IT architect plugs hole in clean-freak admin's wiring design


get out quick

Once when I was plugging in some storage in a machine room, at the other end I heard 3 electricians stood around a lifted floor tile arguing about which wire was the blue phase. When they finally agreed it was the black wire I hot-tailed it out of there before they connected it.

Thankfully I didn't hear a bang.

I had previously been in a building that had 2 phases connected together by accident one time and it wasn't nice. The bang was huge - like a direct lightning strike, it also blew up the substation in the corner of the car park. People in the same room as the incident were wandering around dazed for minutes, like zombies.

GitHub given Windows 9x's awesome and so very modern look


Re: And this is bad?

Because if the web UI gets too functionally efficient you won't linger on the site and notice an ad. Also they need to keep going backwards in usability in order to keep giving you a reason to upgrade. Ever noticed how the functions you really need and use the most are always buried in the 'Advanced' sub-window. This has never improved.

Stingray phone stalker tech used near White House, SS7 abused to steal US citizens' data – just Friday things



Then I suggest they all start using Whatsapp, if they haven't already.

Your F-35s need spare bits? Computer says we'll have you sorted in... a couple of years


Long lead times are nothing new for an aircraft at the start of it's service. Tornado engines took over a year to build and ship for a long time. When you buy an aircraft you should keep long lead time spares for the next 10 years. Back in the 90s the RAF had some spares that were 30 years old and yes they had wasted money on certain items that were hardly used while other items became unexpected consumables. I'm sure the same is true of the navy and army.

The UK is already completely reliant on the USA for defence, there's no going back now. If we dared to buy Mirage or Saab there would be repercussions - the USA could simply start refusing to repair F35s until we changed our mind. The top end example of UK/USA reliance is AWE is run by a joint company with Lockheed Martin being the majority shareholder, according to the FT.

AWS won serverless – now all your software are kinda belong to them


excellent article

People may not agree with the article's conclusions but it makes them think.

You are allowed up to 100ms per function call - in a small selection of scripted languages (or Java) with (currently) the first million calls per month free. I guess a pure executable linked module in their web server would be a security no-no. There's no perl either but it's probably too efficient for AWS to make much profit and besides it's yesterday's language.

I think cloud vendor lock-in is going to be similar to owning a mainframe. Consider on-prem serverless.

Amazon are masters of cutting their own throats for market share and the proof can be seen in closed shopping malls all over the US and town centres in the UK.

Most IT contractors want employment benefits if clobbered with IR35


socialist agenda

The Revenue has had an agenda of forcing the whole country onto PAYE for at least the past 30 years, maybe 40-50. I should know because I used to be a collector of taxes myself and I saw the attitude of the Revenue staff in 1993. The absolutely resented anybody who took a risk and set themselves up as a business and made some money. The clever ones bailed out.

At the top of the Revenue and in the Treasury I am sure that the Sir Humphreys have been trying to hoodwink successive chancellors into making it law to tax all dividends as PAYE for all this time. When Gordon Brown got in they found a sympathetic ear and he introduced IR35. What I found most disappointing was that it was George Osborne who went the extra leg and started increasing dividend tax, mainly because the country was bailing out the banks and going broke, when the Treasury saw it's chance to fight entrepreneurs even more he signed up. So now I won't vote tory or labour or liberal or anyone to the left and as a pro-european, not anyone to the right either.

Ubuntu 17.10: We're coming GNOME! Plenty that's Artful in Aardvark, with a few Wayland wails


anything but Unity

Unity was the only desktop that I rated worse than Vista. Ouch.

It was clearly an attempt at providing a free and simple desktop to newbies who cannot afford Microsoft or Apple. I applaud the attempt and it definitely had some nice features if you had a personal supercomputer, but the result for me was slow bloatware. After a month long battle I backed up all my files and went elsewhere so that I could some memory left to actually run an application. I installed Mint Cinnamon, then Bodhi, then Kubuntu, then Solaris (for a laugh), then Ubuntu 17.04 ... what will be next.... The comment about backups/restores is very pertinent and reveals a key weakness about us and change. By changing desktops a lot I am also part of the 'change' problem. My main excuse is 'your release is not supported any more'.

Chipzilla spawns 60-core, six-teraflop Xeon Phi MONSTER CHIP



Have the Intel guys been using these to mine coin already?

We need to talk about SPEAKERS: Sorry, 'audiophiles', only IT will break the sound barrier


another angle

Nice article encouraging thought. I would only argue with one little point made about the amount of information in a CD being greater than that which speakers can re-produce. Based on my own experience in my music studio when I connect my cheap headphones directly through my budget amplifier to my professional microphone I can turn the volume right up and simply not be able to hear myself talking into my own ears - the reproduction through the system is so perfect because it is so un-touched. But when I record what I say at 16bit/44.1Khz PCM and play it back at that volume it blows my ears off. My advice for those people who want excellent reproduction is therefore to avoid the hi-fi shop/magazines and look at professional music production equipment, starting with studio monitors and a small mixing desk which can both be bought at a fraction of the cost of a high-end amp and speakers. Then spend the rest of your money on clean power and good quality source - preferably live and real.

The cute things they say

Paris Hilton


" My computer appears to be frozen. It is slightly chilly in here this morning, would it help if I moved it closer to the radiator? "

Seriously though, many of these stories obviously point to a lack of training, on the user side and also on the IT helpdesk side. So many wasted hours.

Companies have made the decision that it is cheaper to employ a helpdesk to answer lots of calls than it is to train all staff in basic use of technology. Instead, recruitment adverts specify all staff must be pre-trained elsewhere at someone else's cost. In fact that statement goes across the board these days doesn't it.

Vietnamese high school kids can pass Google interview

Paris Hilton


I didn't understand the question.

Was there an associated diagram?

Microsoft building poo-powered carbon-neutral data center


Morale totally destroyed

Don't pooh-pooh the poo-poo...

Great idea, I hope it works for them, where's there's muck and all that...

Author of '80s classic The Hobbit didn't know game was a hit



Ah, the first adventure game I ever completed. I really loved it. . I also wondered at how they managed to fit it all into the 48k memory. But those were simpler times, when people really could get close to the device and make something useful without spending a grand on a compiler/ide/debugger.

I liked the fact that with "Inglish" the user could add to the atmosphere by adding in your own adverbs and adjectives, which would be repeated back: "You violently attack the vicious warg with the sword." I don't think it made any difference to the outcomes, but we could pretend.

This game stood up against many others created for 8 bit computers and still did up to 5 years later.

Such a wave of nostalgia you created with that article. Many thanks.

Windows 8: Thrown into a multi-tasking mosh pit


Why? Well...

The first mistake MS made was to look at the declining sales figures of PCs versus the growing sales figures of tablets correction iPads and decide that tablets were the exclusive future. This is not a logical conclusion. It merely means that tablets are a new device for working in a new way - ie on the coffee table, in meetings or other places where notebooks aren't convenient. Many people will still upgrade their notebooks and desktops when the time comes.

MS might get some sales in business - people may stop taking their iPads or notebooks to meetings and take a tablet with Metro on it instead. I guess thats the thinking - sell them a licence for their work desktop with full office suite and also sell a licence for a Metro tablet - Ker-ching! They may also get some sales in the home browser / minimal functionality required markets if people haven't already gone " iApple, do you?".

Microsoft tripped up by Blighty's techie skills gap



One reason for the M$ skills gap is the cost of Visual Studio versus the cost of a linux distro, gcc (or your preferred language) and all the free developer tools you need. Balmer went for profit and Microsoft are paying the price, along with their suppliers etc.

Which actor should play Steve in upcoming biopic?



I am for Joaquin Phoenix (moody Johny Cash meets scheming infantile Comodus).

Guess I'm not such a fan after all. Its probably because of the patent wars.

Linus Torvalds dubs GNOME 3 'unholy mess'


what is a desktop for?

Gnome3 and Unity are both so different from what we had previously that they prompted me to think from scratch again about what a desktop should be for.

the answer was - launching apps, seeing what is running and killing apps. Both unity and gnome3 mske all 3 of those things harder and seem to be trying to turn my device into a tablet.

i found myself using the command line again until i remembered a sleek desktop that loads in under 1 second and under 100 meg, saves cpu for the apps. i re-discovered Enlightenment.

RAF Eurofighters make devastating attack – on Parliament



The BBC news this morning said that only 3 Typhoons are currently capable of dropping bombs due to a lack of spare parts. Maybe the RAF could press the BBMF Lancaster back into service, at a stroke increasing it's capability by a third?

[ that was a joke btw ]

Facebook 'open sources' custom server and data center designs



Thousands of open motherboards.

I take it that the designers have checked about potential safety issues with all those microwaves. Or do the engineers have to wear Faraday suits?


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