* Posts by theModge

324 publicly visible posts • joined 3 Nov 2011


UK throws millions at scheme to heat homes with waste energy from datacenters


The University of Birmingham do this

We've got a decent sized compute cluster (called Bear). When it's latest iteration was built they used it to heat some buildings on campus. There's already quite a lot of CPH powering bits of campus, but this was located on the other side of the (ever expanding) campus and I believe heats some of the student accommodation

Oracle's examplar win over SAP for Birmingham City Council is 3 years late


I guess it depends who gets to define sucess

My employer, a large university, deployed oracle, late over budget and semi-functional.

I have no doubt those behind the project are clapping themselves on the back as job well done. It is after all deployed.

BOFH and the case of the Zoom call that never was


Re: Now I understand

These comments are under a BOFH article....may I suggest Halon?

Buy 'em by the punnet: Raspberry Pi offers RP2040 chips in bulk


Re: Unobtainium

It's got so bad that I'm even thinking of buying Microchip (Atmel) parts or NXP.

My current employer is using Microchip parts, I'm sorry to report that they too are as scarce as rocking horse poo. Probably you can get a chip from them, but one that's pin compatible with our design? Not easy. One that has the same pinout and all the features we need? even harder.

Confirmed: James Webb Space Telescope team plans launch for this Xmas Eve after data cable fix


Having listened to a description of the mirror: so huge it has to go up folded into segments, then unfurl it self in space, I can understand why very extensive testing was necessary. It seems the sunshade is just as complex, it's apparently tennis court sized when it's deployed! No way to imagine that's going to be a simple bit of engineering.

Average convicted British computer criminal is young, male, not highly skilled, researcher finds


Maybe there is a correlation with the average skill level of the British Police in these matters?

I've always believed (and felt it to be a commonly held belief) that the police only catch the least competent criminals as it is, there's no reason why using a computer should change that.

Missing GOV.UK web link potentially cost taxpayers £50m as civil servants are forced to shuffle paper forms



The Tax Payers Alliance, famous primarily for not wanting to say who funds them and being based at 55 Tufton Street, along with a number of right wing think tanks.

NASA building network cables that can survive supersonic flight - could this finally deliver unbreakable RJ45 latching tabs?


Re: Ethercon

The problem with ethercon is that someone will inevitably need to plug it into a non ethercon hole, take the metal barrel off and then proceed break the plastic bit.

...Actually that hasn't happened to me for a while, since when I last worked with ethercon they could afford decent kit at both ends of the cable, but when I started out there was all to much of it.


Re: No need to reinvent the wheel

I was astonished by how much the words "railway certified" add to the cost of absolutely anything

Excel Hell: It's not just blame for pandemic pandemonium being spread between the sheets


Re: Relax...

Happy to help; I found it for my PhD but I've used it on a lot of projects since


Re: Relax...

Google made a very fine tool for this, then uncharacteristicly open-sourced it rather than killing it: https://openrefine.org/

I used it to mark data up semanticly as RDF, but it can get data from damn near anything and turn it into damn near anything else.

Hydrogen-powered train tested on Britain's railway tracks as diesel alternative


That's the intended application


Re: replacing/reboring low bridges and tunnels

Tunnels and bridges are expensive, but this is a very long twitter thread on why electrifying them beats coasting: https://twitter.com/25kV/status/1187817155385090048

Basically: making coasting work safely and reliably is a pain in the arse which lands up costing as much as electrifying the section.

Using batteries for discontinuous electrification is also under active consideration and a test train which does exactly that ran for a while. One example is: https://www.railway-technology.com/projects/independently-powered-electric-multiple-unit-ipemu-essex/

Hydrogen is rather covered by the original article, but the applications for which it's being considered are much more "discontinuous electrification" and not really actually looking to replace OLE at all, despite the wording of the article. OLE is always better, but historically in this country we a)built lines before it was an idea then b) didn't spend the money adding it, so now adding it will be very expensive and disruptive. It's a good idea though.


The inside of the carriage is dominated by Fuel Cells, tanks and a massive battery pack to smooth out spikes in demand. They picked this class of loco, because it had a handy power bus that wasn't a million miles from the voltage kicked out by the fuel cell if I recall correctly.

The target is 2021 for getting that lot under the body where diesel tanks etc reside.

Source: I'm in the same research group, but haven't worked on it.


Re: 8.5 Bar?

It's 350Bar I believe, I had the same thought when I read it.

You can choose 700 or 350bar as a standard, and they've gone with 350.

Um, almost the entire Scots Wikipedia was written by someone with no idea of the language – 10,000s of articles


Re: Local 'languages'

"Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit, wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad"

Not my quote, but I like it.


Re: Local 'languages'

Genuine question - what is the difference between a dialect and a language?

I believe that's the matter of serious debate amongst "proper" academic linguists. I've a nasty feeling the definition I know, which is was if they're mutual intelligible it's a dialect, otherwise it's a language is considered dated and wrong now. An English speaker can, with only time being exposed to it, probably get there head round scots and vice versa. The same is certainly not true of gaelic. Thus scots could be a dialect and gaelic a language.

Brit unis hit in Blackbaud hack inform students that their data was nicked, which has gone as well as you might expect


There's a surprising amount of money in essay writing; people who will pay £100s for an essay because they can't do it themselves could easily pay money for well graded course work to copy. Turnitin might well catch them, but that's very much not the seller's problem.

That's not what this is though; it's alumni data; just boring CRM stuff that can be used for fraud etc.

Someone got so fed up with GE fridge DRM – yes, fridge DRM – they made a whole website on how to bypass it


Re: Entirely legal

I'm living in Stirchley, as a university employee, but I can confirm that Selly Oak is as student dominated as ever.


Re: Entirely legal

I live within Chocolate smelling distance of the Cadbury Bournville plant. It's got Mondelez branding on it, but it's still very much producing chocolate.

Bite me? It's 'byte', and that acronym is Binary Interface Transfer Code Handler



I've seen Failed Under Continuous Testing quite a lot in various jobs, but it's subtlety is oft undermined by just writing out the acronym.

For those reading from across the pond an (Essex) British English accent renders 'fuct' and 'fucked' pretty much the same

Coronavirus didn't hurt UK broadband speeds in March. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, on the other hand...


Virgin Media varies quite a lot by region

It depends heavily where you are what service you get with virgin media. Partially I'm told it's a function of their odd network topology in particular if you're former telewest or NTL. Another factor though is how over-subscribed your area is: they get no where near their advertised speed in south birmingham (where I am), but they're pretty good elsewhere

Square peg of modem won't fit into round hole of PC? I saw to it, bloke tells horrified mate


Re: DIMM Slots

been there, done that, bent the pins.

In fact, when younger and having more enthusiasm than knowledge I bent any number of pins....

Tribunal halts all Information Commissioner's Office cases because UK data watchdog can't print or organise PDFs


Re: "As courts and tribunals slowly join the 21st century..."

I'm pretty sure the wigs they have have to wear were old fashioned by the 19th century...

'Developers have lost hope Microsoft will do the right thing'... Redmond urged to make WinUI cross-platform


wpf performance issues

The few projects I've used WPF on have actually performed very well - if you do as much as possible in XAML it offloads it to the graphics card for you nicely. The other thing I really enjoyed was using it for a touch screen project - it's very well optimised there.

Line of Business stuff almost always seems to be presented via web browser these days. I confess I'd rather it wasn't, thus leaving control of how it's presented to the developer, but it does have obvious advantages when it comes to working across platforms.

EA boots Linux gamers out of multiplayer Battlefield V, Penguinistas respond by demanding crippling boycott


Even my dishwasher comes with a copy of the GNU license!

RuneScape bloke was wrongly sacked after reading veep's salary details on office printer


Re: Been there, did something slightly different...

Yes. It's the management not the staff that win from pay being private. I loose nothing from my colleges knowing what I earn.

That's the nice thing about working in big "state-ish" places that use pay scales - I know pretty much when everyone around me earns in any case. It's only the highest levels that are by negionation, and you know for sure they're off the top of the scale, at the very least.


Re: Odd But

Not discussing pay only helps the company, never the employee. Thus I too always open. It's worth considering that if you have a "special deal" much better than everyone else's and you're not allowed to discuss it "lest you make them jealous" it's not impossible they've been told much the same...

The UK's Civil Aviation Authority asked drone orgs to email fliers' data in an Excel spreadsheet


Re: The CAA aren't exactly known for their IT prowess

...so that's why I had to use Netscape Navigator to do mine!

Hacker House shoved under UK Parliament's spotlight following Boris Johnson funding allegs


and as times and relative popularities of websites change, is now the redit "hug of death"

I could throttle you right about now: US Navy to ditch touchscreens after kit blamed for collision


I just want big butt....

And you can't lie?

Seriously, I'm with those who like tactile feedback.

In a different world, in which I used to work, this also applies to stage lighting control consoles. Touch screens are fine for functions you don't have to find in the dark, nor on a given beat, but some things need a button or (ideally motorised) fader.

Alexa, can you tell me how many Chinese kids were forced into working nights to build this unit?


Amazon Response

" we take appropriate steps, including requesting immediate corrective action."

Request made formally in writing. Whilst verbally reminding management "It's only a request. You can ignore it." It's not exactly the strongest response anyone ever made...

Train maker's coder goes loco, choo-choo-chooses to flee to China with top-secret code – allegedly


Re: None of these will have any 'code' to steal or hack or be infected with malware

They just turn that off to prevent the annoying beeping

Wiki has it here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2015_Wootton_Bassett_SPAD_incident

(Sweary blog post: http://pigeonsnest.co.uk/stuff/crapstuff/tangmere-wootton-bassett-spad-rail-morons.html)

We are shocked to learn oppressive authoritarian surveillance state China injects spyware into foreigners' smartphones


And no, a VPN is not an option (because China is already known to bork unsanctioned VPNs and other encrypted connections)?

They try, but the number of Chinese students here in the UK running VPNs for their friends back home would suggest that they're ineffective in cracking down on them. From my colleges who travel it seems that something like your employers corporate VPN will work, even if say nordVPN is blocked. Not that this is a reliable bias for demonstrating your product if it requires a connection to your server at home, but if you're selling to anyone government owned in China you may well find there's a requirement to host your service locally anyway.


Re: At least they are open about it...

Italian (Exodus)

I thought that was made for export as much as domestic use?

Two Arkansas dipsticks nicked after allegedly taking turns to shoot each other while wearing bulletproof vests


Re: Testing in the real world

Oh, and probably best not to mix alcohol and firearms, but hey, just think of it as evolution in action.

Why shooting estates also give you shit-tons of alcohol then?

No guns or lockpicks needed to nick modern cars if they're fitted with hackable 'smart' alarms


Re: Zombie cars

Sack of meat may be required to steer? I realise everything has power steering, but I'm not sure it could be steered on that alone?


well....if any publicity is good publicity you could argue that declaring your product to be unhackable was akin to free pen-testing.

I mean I'm not sure I'd like to be famous as the "The person who makes shite software" but if I was planning on say, changing my name and emigrating it might work.

Don't mean to alarm you, but Boeing has built an unmanned fighter jet called 'Loyal Wingman'


Re: Loyal?

Much like any equipment with "Pro" in it's name. It won't be suitable for professional use.

Website programming? Pffft, so 2011. Python's main squeeze is now data science, apparently


Re: Re Good job Python isn't a syntax Nazi.

Wait till you see code written by hardware engineers *shudders*

El Reg talks to PornHub sister biz AgeID – and an indie pornographer – about age verification


Re: Meh

Similarly; all Tor usage now means is "well educated student procuring pharmaceuticals", rather than Revolutionary \ Terrorist \ Infosec professional with a point to prove.


Re: This Identity thing is the key

couple of weak prosecutions on soft targets and then forgotten about

However it'll be left on the statute books as a vague threat because no one will dare be seen repealing it, at least for 30 years or so.

DNAaaahahaha: Twins' 23andMe, Ancestry, etc genetic tests vary wildly, surprising no one


Re: Recipe for success

I don't know; you could do better than that with a bit of marketing:

1. Get Samples

2. Look at origin post mark.

If American, tell them they're Irish with a dash of Native American. I swear pretending they're Irish is the American national hobby and a touch of Native American makes you seem interesting and special.

Northern UK? Tell them they're Vikings

Southern UK? Tell them they're related to the Plantagenet royal line

I'm sure there's some others I could offend with a bit of research.

3. Look at surnames. If they give you an obvious clue, make it up on those grounds

4. Still be more accurate than the existing players

5. Give all the money to company directors and declare bankruptcy before people sue you for fraud.

Behold, the world's most popular programming language – and it is...wait, er, YAML?!?


Re: Go, a scripting language??

I thought that as I scrolled past: you can compile it for quite a few different platforms now, a scripting language it is not.

Clunk, bang, rattle: Is that a ghost inside your machine?


Re: Scary ?

You hadn't perchance annoyed a certain sysadmin, know in these parts as the BOFH had you?

It's been a long time since I did site work, but I generally thought the entire purpose of safety elves was to prevent that kind of thing.

UK.gov to press ahead with online smut checks (but expects £10m in legals in year 1)



Firstly from times when I work with only "slightly" tech people it seems VPNs are a fairly well known solution for general piracy, so there's no reason why they wouldn't think to put them to use for porn. As this is rolled out I imagine the knowledge only spread; soon every child in the playground will be using their mates dad's VPN for their porn needs (because what 14 year old can afford a decent VPN?).

Combine this with the prevalence of Tor for the procurement of all ones black market pharmaceutical needs (again, even amongst by people who work far from the tech sector) and soon every last one of us will look like a terrorist as far as GCHQ is concerned. So many of their potential employees will have used one or both of these things it will be literally impossible for them to recruit enough people to do the spying.

Decoding the Chinese Super Micro super spy-chip super-scandal: What do we know – and who is telling the truth?


Re: It is a matter of choice

I guarantee there's enough on your PC to steal your identity, lock stock and barrel.

Of course, but whilst I'm not secure against nation state level actors who can e.g. get into the supply chain for my motherboard (who is?) I do take the sort of everyday precautions necessary to exist in this day and age, to the extent that it's possible to be secure whilst relying on the million different 3rd parties that comprise a modern computing environment.


Re: It is a matter of choice

I'd rather be spied on by the foreigners. They are less likely to just wander into my home and arrest me and throw me into jail on trumped up charges.

That would be my preference too.

I however have a far stronger defence: realistically there's absolutely sod-all of interest on my computer. I do research, but unless more effective data integration for your trains is a matter of national security I'm quite safe. Granted cyber attacks on national infrastructure are a thing, but my work would not be a good jumping off point for that.

Scrapping UK visa cap on nurses, doctors opened Britain's doors to IT workers


Re: UK IT shortage

We can also ignore the fact that a lot of the good quality foreign IT labour has already moved to a better paying locale due to good quality IT experience being in short supply almost everywhere.

The weak pound makes Britain a less attractive place to come deploy your IT skills.

Random anecdotal case study: My Czech friend. He can earn almost as much at home as he does here, but in Czechia he can live like a king whilst so doing; the £35kish he was on here goes a lot further there.

Solid password practice on Capital One's site? Don't bank on it


There's an addon for that

Entitled: "Don't fuck with paste". Exists for chrome and firefox. Also helps with sites that think you'd like to type your email address twice.