* Posts by Dave Pickles

249 publicly visible posts • joined 12 Sep 2011


If you're brave enough to move fully-laden datacenter racks, here's the robot for you

Dave Pickles

Try that on a false floor

And with typical DC rack densities...

Meet Honda's latest electric vehicle: A rideable suitcase

Dave Pickles

One thing you're not going to do with that thing is fly. It won't be allowed as hold baggage due to the lithium battery, and I doubt that even the most determined bag-slammer would be able to get it into the overhead lockers.

UK air traffic woes caused by 'invalid flight plan data'

Dave Pickles

Re: Resiliency – we've heard of it

There's a lot of Educated Guesswork by folks knowledgable in the subject here:


Posts 61 and 80 are particularly interesting.

How to spot OpenAI's crawler bot and stop it slurping sites for training data

Dave Pickles

Too late

The abstrads slurped my social club website last week...

Microsoft will upgrade Windows 10 21H2 users whether they like it or not

Dave Pickles

Re: I've run out of ways to hax0r the gui

What?? How long has this been a thing?

It's in the KDE docs for version 4.5 dated 2010. So I could have been using this for the last THIRTEEN YEARS!

Dave Pickles

Re: Windows 11 use has jumped from almost 9 percent in March (2022) to 23 percent in April.

Something that doesn't seem to have been widely publicised is that it is not possible for a website to distinguish between Windows 10 and 11 using the User Agent string. Naturally there is an alternative which is vastly more complex and only available for the Chrome family of browsers, but it means that measurements of Win11 uptake need even more than the usual pinch of salt.

Parts of UK booted offline as Virgin Media suffers massive broadband outage

Dave Pickles

PHB: Show us what you were doing when the network went down.

PFY: Well I just did this, and this, and ... oops.

Boeing Starliner's 1st crewed trip to the ISS delayed again over battery overheating risk

Dave Pickles

Been here before

Maybe Boeing copied the battery design they used on the 787. That ended well.


PC tech turns doctor to diagnose PC's constant crashes as a case of arthritis

Dave Pickles

Re: South don't work in the North

In the early 70s I had a summer job at a major manufacturer of colour TVs. At the time all TVs used the RCA shadow mask tube which had three electron guns in an equilateral triangle (the Trinitron was invented later to get round the RCA patents). Sets for the UK were built Blue Gun Up, those for the antipodes were Blue Gun Down (ie the CRT was installed the other way up).

What's up with IT, Doc? Rabbit hole reveals cause of outage

Dave Pickles

They don't only like cables

When the Rugby radio masts were being demolished in 2004, three of the eight masts failed to fall at the first attempt because the detonation cord had been eaten by rabbits.

How to track equipped cars via exploitable e-ink platemaker

Dave Pickles

Re: Solution in search of a problem

How about the system used in New Zealand for taxing diesel vehicles.

NZ has a lot of non-road use for diesel fuel (eg farm vehicles and off-grid generation) so there isn't a fuel tax on it. Instead, diesel vehicle owners have to buy mileage vouchers which are tied to the vehicle's odometer reading, and it is illegal to use a vehicle on the road if its mileage exceeds the voucher figure. The odometer is checked for calibration and tampering as part of their MoT equivalent.

Five British companies fined for making half a million nuisance calls

Dave Pickles

Companies House info

AUKL is unknown to Companies House.

BCBL and BBL have the same directors and seem to be ongoing companies.

RPUK has filed to be struck off but the action has been suspended.

UGL has also filed to be struck off.

Norway has a month left until sun sets on its copper phone lines

Dave Pickles

Re: The big problem

Having UPS power for your DECT base station, router and fibre termination is all very well, but what about the green cabinet at the end of the road, whatever THAT connects to and so on? What power provision has been made, how long is it supposed to last and when was it last tested?

UK government in talks with datacenter operators over blackouts

Dave Pickles


A 1MW data centre powered by a diesel generator will use about 300 litres/hour (assuming efficiency as a perhaps optimistic 33%), so 900 litres for a 3-hour outage. A fuel tanker holds around 25000 litres, so one round per day will keep 30 such DCs online.

Foxconn shows off pair of EVs, boasts of bulk orders for last year's model

Dave Pickles

Re: The most useless metric ever: from 0 to 100 in xx seconds

I wonder how much extra range would be possible if the acceleration were a more practical 0-62 in 10 seconds?

Amazon accused of singling out, harassing union organizers

Dave Pickles

Re: Toilet Politics

They have targets for everything else in the workplace so why not above the urinals?

'I Don't Care About Cookies' extension sold to Avast

Dave Pickles


Installed the first fork mentioned in the article and now the cookie bar on the El Reg site, which has remained unclicked for the last couple of years, is gone.

Microsoft to stop accepting checks from partners

Dave Pickles

Re: Err because MS...

Indeed. While we might pay a bill with a cheque, they pay a check with a bill.

T-Mobile US and SpaceX hope to deliver phone service from space

Dave Pickles

Re: I am very dubious about this!

Isn't the round-trip-time to the satellite also an issue? Certainly with 2G the transmissions from the mobiles are time-division-multiplexed and so have to be carefully timed so that they arrive at the base station in their correct time slots, IIRC this limits the range to about 50 miles.

Intel to sell Massachusetts R&D site, once home to its only New England fab

Dave Pickles

Re: Another End of an Era moment

VAX floating-point formats (there were several) had the sign bit and exponent in the middle of the word instead of at the MSB end. This IIRC was for binary compatibility with data from the PDP range of machines.


Voicemail phishing emails steal Microsoft credentials

Dave Pickles

Re: But voicemail doesn't work like this

Actually voicemail does sometimes work like this.

My router (Fritz!Box 7530) can handle SIP phone calls and has a built-in DECT base station and answering machine. The answering machine can be configured to send me an email with the incoming call as an mp3 attachment.

Microsoft CRM tool to pull sales data from email, Teams calls, Office 365

Dave Pickles

Re: Don't undestand any of that........

It's something to do with a car made by Vauxhall in the 1960s.

Symantec: More malware operators moving in to exploit Follina

Dave Pickles


RTF documents can include OLE objects.

BSA kicks multiple holes in India's infosec reporting rules

Dave Pickles

Re: British Small Arms



BT: 'Quantum radios' could boost 5G network range

Dave Pickles

Re: Noise

Not just interference. The ultimate limiting factor at 3GHz is thermal noise from the ground radiating at 300K. A half-decent conventional receiver will have a Noise Figure of a couple of dB, and other things being equal those few dB are the only scope for improvement.

BOFH: Something's consuming 40% of UPS capacity – and it's coming from the beancounters' office

Dave Pickles

Re: You'd have thought that pros would do it better...

Clueless and Witless.

Vital UK customs system outage contributes to travel chaos at its borders

Dave Pickles

"According to The Guardian, GVMS has suffered a systems outage since it was temporarily taken offline during an update to another HMRC customs system, handling import and export freight, known as Chief."

So sometime. maybe months ago, someone made a change to a configuration file or startup script which caused the system to fail the next time it was rebooted? And I don't suppose such a teeny-weeny tweak ever got documented?

Are we springing into a Y2K-class nightmare?

Dave Pickles

Re: The same will probably happen in the UK

It would fix one kind of programming error; using gmtime() instead of localtime() or vice versa. The result is software that works perfectly all winter but goes wrong on the fourth Sunday in March.

Been there, done that, know better now...

It takes more clicks to reject their cookies than accept them, so France fines Facebook and Google over €200m

Dave Pickles

Saying "no cookies" involves setting a cookie

A site has to store the fact that you've said 'no' to cookies, which it does by ... storing a cookie.

Sites should have a standard query string which specifies the user's choice without using cookie storage. This would avoid those of us who delete cookies on browser exit having to go through the preference rigmarole _every single time_.

Microsoft patches Y2K-like bug that borked on-prem Exchange Server

Dave Pickles

VMS once had a similar problem

Sometime around 2001 there was a similar problem with VAX/VMS. A library function for date handling was using the ASCII representation of the UNIX system time, and broke when the count of seconds since 1-Jan-1970 passed 1,000,000,000.

Is it decadent that I use four different computers each day, at different times?

Dave Pickles

Re: A Sage solution

Kindle readers are not the only game in town but they seem to be the only ones that airport security ever see. This Summer I was pulled over for a bag search because my Kobo reader 'looked different' on the X-ray. Admittedly the airport was almost deserted so Security Theatre were having to work extra-hard to justify their presence.

2033 is doomsday for 2G and 3G in the UK

Dave Pickles

Nothing in the statement about SMETS2 energy meters or eCall - enabled vehicles, both of which rely on 2G.

The ideal sat-nav is one that stops the car, winds down the window, and asks directions

Dave Pickles

The satnav in my BMW begins every instruction with "please". Of course to suit the stereotypical Beemer driver it should also add "... unless you know better".

Amazon tells folks it will stop accepting UK Visa credit cards via weird empty email

Dave Pickles

Re: Will be interesting

Santander moved all their UK debit cards from Visa to Mastercard a few months ago.

Survey shows XP lingers on while Windows 11 makes a 0.21% ripple in the enterprise

Dave Pickles

I wonder how many of those 0.21 percent are folks like me running a user-agent randomiser on their browser?

Rolls-Royce set for funding fillip to build nuclear power stations based on small modular reactor technology

Dave Pickles

Re: Chernobyl - graphite fire

Not quite. The reactor was coming up to its summer shutdown and it was planned to run a test to see if the rotational energy in the turbine could be used to power essential electrical loads should the reactor trip - if so it wouldn't be necessary to have standby diesel generators running continuously just in case. Unfortunately they botched the process of reducing the reactor output and grossly undershot the level needed for the test. The control rods were withdrawn far beyond normal in an attempt to correct, resulting in a power surge and explosion.

31-year-old piece of hardware not working very well: Hubble telescope back in safe mode over 'synchronization issues'

Dave Pickles

Re: It’s going to L2?

It's going to the L2 point of the Sun - Earth system, not L2 Earth - Moon. It will be 1.5 million km from Earth so outside the Moon's orbit, but should only be eclipsed by the Moon rarely if at all (can't quickly find the inclination angle of the Moon's orbit).

Config cockup leaves Reg reader reaching for the phone

Dave Pickles

Re: Nothing new...

'Yes, that "please make a backup of your data before commencing this upgrade prompt" you always ignore? I learned pretty early in my career the value of not doing that :)'

When running an upgrade on VMS one of the prompts read:

"Are you satisfied with the backup of your system disk?"

Somehow those words always had the desired effect.

Dave Pickles

Re: Me too...

ISTR Informix wouldn't allow UPDATE or DELETE without a WHERE clause. Never saw it happen but I can imagine muscle-memory adding WHERE 1=1...

Computer shuts down when foreman leaves the room: Ghost in the machine? Or an all-too-human bit of silliness?

Dave Pickles

Re: Fuel pumps

But for some reason they didn't include the last line of the verse:

"You make a grown man cry"

Thatcher-era ICL mainframe fingered for failure to pay out over £1bn in UK pensions

Dave Pickles

Re: It doesn't sound much faster

Yes but you need to factor in 30 years of code bloat.

UK's Civil Aviation Authority hashing out rules for crash-proof cargo pods on drones

Dave Pickles

Re: Mid flight failure

Indeed. A four-engined aircraft can do pretty much everything on three engines that it can on four, while a quadcopter drone is in plummet mode if a single motor or propeller fails.

Fixing this would require the motors and propellers to be uprated so the drone could fly on two, and a more sophisticated control system to recognise and deal with the failure eg by shutting down the opposite motor.

NASA hopes VIPER rover will search for water in Moon's Nobile crater in 2023

Dave Pickles

Re: Why solar powered?

But what if your RTG-powered probe crashes? "Yes there's lots of water at the south pole; shame it's all now radioactive"

This drag sail could prevent spacecraft from turning into long-term orbiting junk. We spoke to its inventors ahead of launch

Dave Pickles

Doesn't the sail increase the size of the spacecraft, making it MORE likely to hit something?

Children of China, your state-sanctioned hour of gaming begins … now!

Dave Pickles

It's not about the kids

It's about the Chinese Communist Party showing the country's tech companies who's in charge.

Live, die, copy-paste, repeat: Everything is recycled now, including ideas

Dave Pickles

Better to light a single candle than curse the darkness

I'm sure OpenStreetMap and their users would be delighted if your were to add your former house to the map, after having so thoroughly assured yourself of it's continued existence. Actually most buildings on OSM are traced (legally) from Bing, so maybe it's a dastardly plot by Microsoft to remove you from history.

THX Onyx: A do-it-all DAC for the travelling audiophile

Dave Pickles

"The closest approach to the original sound"

Many years ago I saw a demonstration by Quad of their valve amplifiers. One amplifier was fed with audio in the normal way and was connected to a dummy load, the second was bridged between the input and output of the first and fed a loudspeaker. Even with the gain of the second amp wound up there was complete silence from the speaker - until the first amp began to overload then the result was deafening.

Probably not possible due to coding delays, but it would be interesting to try a similar end-to-end test with modern audio kit.

Get ready to make processes fit the software when shifting to SAP's cloud, users told

Dave Pickles

Limiting innovation

Suppose my company comes up with a new way of doing business which is not only better for our customers it also makes more money for us. Unfortunately we are a SAP shop. We have to persuade SAP to change their code to match our new process, in which case our competitors who are also SAP customers have a ready-made solution to do the same!

BOFH: You say goodbye and I say halon

Dave Pickles

Re: I'm curious


I suppose the advantage of halon is that you have a normal working environment until the fire happens.