* Posts by vogon00

295 publicly visible posts • joined 10 Nov 2011


US starts 'emergency' checks on cryptocurrency power use, citing winter power demands


@John Robson

That is one of the most lucid and considered replies in a while, and with sensible empirical evidence* actually referenced as well. Thank you very much for bothering.

'when the local grid isn't as strained'.....'but our current domestic usage is really peaky'

I can't help feeling that as the energy mix changes, all we'll do is to move the peaks in time and increase their magnitude - and therefore the point where the grid it strained - it will *always* be strained sometime.

OK, reading that linked doc, I agree the consumption has been dropping YOY - which is probably due to increasing efficiency/lower consumption of residential/domestic appliances and the switch from aged inefficient technology like tungsten filament lamps to comparatively efficient LED. Efficient in opex terms anyway - tungsten filament cost pennies to produce and could be bought retail cheaply. Capex-wise LED costs several £/$ more than filament lamps.

The difference between the power consumption of filament vs. fluorescent vs. LED is well known and the latest and greatest 'LED' is the winner, natch. However, if EVs are adopted/consumed at the rate expected (very fast!), the overall 'delta increase' will be far out-strip the 'delta decline' in consumption shown - which is at the 'macro' level.

My reasoning is based on the following : My commute to work : 4 Miles each way. By boss's commute : 40 miles each way, and his EV is charged at work, along with 1 other user. The charger available is 7.5KW, and they are BOTH plugged in, drawing ~30A for hours on end.

Leaving a 40W TF lamp on for 5Hrs=0.2KWh. Leaving a 4W LED on for 5H=.02KWh. Leaving a 2KW electric storage heater or convector heater on to 5Hrs=10KWh. Leaving an EV on for 5 Hrs=37.5KWh...and 5HRs for a moderately-discharged EV is a conservative figure....yes, these are 'micro' figures, but 'macro' is the sum of 'micro'....

We both know that the consumption curve can be smoothed out with some co-ordination and motivation - but people ('Consumers') are too selfish to do that without regulation and/or enforcement.

Nice riposte, but I remain unconvinced.

* "Lies, damn lies and then statistics". Also, have you noticed that the UK Government's "Office Of National Statistics' title contains the right letters (and in the right order) to spell 'Onanists'?


"push up people's bills"

It's not just a US problem. Electricity is in short supply. Even if you disagree with that due to the 'Renewable' green stuff like Solar/Wind coming on stream, you must agree that it's getting harder and harder to deliver the required increasing number of electrons using the 'Grid' - which most people still rely on.

The major problem is here is that the infrastructure has not kept up with the abrupt increase in demand....OK, the HV transmission system we call the Grid may be able to cope with the demand NOW, but as transport moves off fossil fuels onto 'leccy, we'll find out it's the aging HV-to-LV conversion equipment (Substations) and the LV distribution system (Underground/overhead cables and transformers etc.) are going to become the issue. That 'last mile' is a killer, just as it was for POTS and xDSL.

As the ratios of energy types we use becomes more biased towards electricity - and it will due to electric vehicles, heat pumps etc - we'll find that the seriously old LV distribution infrastructure we all use can't cope. Even if we *can* generate enough electricity to satisfy demand, I doubt we'll be able to get it to the point of consumption - you and I - where it's needed. Here in the UK, most LV distribution is underground in the metropolis, with overhead cabling being used in the more rural areas....but it's all very elderly and has a design capacity of way, way less then we think we're going to require.

As we change the ratio towards 'leccy, the 'Grid' and regional suppliers/LV distributors will be forced into upgrading their infrastructure to cope..... for which we will ALL have to pay as they won't do it out of altruism, at least not while there's shareholders to satisfy. In fact, looking at the UK MPAN, (See 'Loss Factor') we can see that we the distribution operators are *already* aware of how much it costs them to deliver our electrons. We get charged for the cost of delivering our consumption over the 'Grid' infrastructure, and IMHO this is why you always have to provide your MPAN when shopping around.

Bitcoin, and indeed *any* 'Proof of work' based cryptocurrency consumes a disproportionately large amount of leccy when you compare it to the 'average citizen' consumption. I don't see why I should be expected to pay more for my electricity usage to 'subsidise' some corporate entitiy's need to fund their increased delivery costs incurred due to someone else's desire to do the very, very electricity-intensive crypto mining malarkey - 'Proof of work' based or otherwise - or desire to charge their very hungry electric vehicle.

If ever there was a use case for 'Pay as you go' (Or 'pay as you consume', if you prefer) - electricity is it.

Here endeth this Vino Rosso induced rant.

Hundreds of workers to space out from NASA's JPL amid budget black hole


Re: Bots, not bodies.

"With rare exception, a robot will outperform a human, probably by orders of magnitude."

Care to expand on the reasoning behind that?

If you'd written 'outperform a human at any given specific task' I'd agree with you, however, as you didn't here my take:-

I think you've got that arse-about-face...a robot that will outperform a human at *any* task is the exception case, as the robot must be programmed for said task in the first place. The robot who can *generally* outperform a human has yet to be born/created.

Oh yeah... AI can't do anything in the physical world without assistance, so it don't count.

Linus Torvalds flames Google kernel contributor over filesystem suggestion


Partial understanding is the norm

"You copied that function without understanding why it does what it does, and as a result your code IS GARBAGE."

I'm with Linus on this one. If there is one thing certain to get me annoyed it's having to clean up after someone who did something complex without understanding what they were fucking with*.

Even leaving aside the history, filesystems - even the comparatively simple 'basic' ones - are hard to understand at times. There is *always* merit in reading/learning about that you are about to start screwing with.

To me, this seems to be happening more and more. People seem to just be happy to learn how something works, but not why it works like that. Asking the 'why' question makes you a better engineer!

*AKA 'I know a little about it, don't have the time to learn anything more, so what I know is fine...it'll be OK I'm sure'.

New year, new bug – rivalry between devs led to a deep-code disaster


Re: Test on the slowest box

As I've said before, I used to be professional tester which was enormous fun :-)

Along comes carrier-grade VOIP, and I managed to add an item of test equipment - the Shunra Storm - to the list of project test equipment. At the time, it was the newest and smartest bit of WAN simulation kit available, and allowed all-too-real simulation of WAN Link speed, insertion of jitter, packet duplication and and packet loss (in one or both directions) and other packet-related skullduggery. Sounds hard, but it was comparatively easy to describe the topology to emulate and the packet effect simulations to apply thanks to the then *very* innovative use of VISO as a front end to desribe the topology and desired packet effects.

I cannot over-estimate the importance and impact that device had....and all in a 2U little box. Beers & props to the developers.

Myself and my colleague were either loved or feared by the devs - loved for finding all sorts of 'retry' bugs with the packet loss tricks, and feared due to the latency tests which exposed one or two gaping holes! After a while, the call agent stopped falling over and started to become more resilient, handling some godawful network conditions without falling down in an irrecoverable heap!

If you worked on the XCD5000 and/or the NN 1460 SBC, then we probably know each other:-) Good times.

UK PM promises faster justice for Post Office Horizon victims


Re: Hot air

I suspect plod is too busy investigating some of the more bullshit laws in the statute books to indulge in any actual real-world policing. I may be doing them an injustice, but it looks to me as if there focus has been elsewhere for a long while now.

He's another suggestion re culpability...the PO's legal team who still both recommended and proceeded with prosecutions despite knowing of the issues with Horizon. Last I heard, the body that polices solicitors (The Solicitors Regulation Authority? Industry body?) was investigation, but I bet none of these fuckers swing either.

Still angry, and not placated at all by the response of one's MP a while back. Still, I had to try:-)

Your data centre UPS could feed power to the smart grid, suggests research


Personal follow-up, months later!

"hold 200A fuses and not the more domestic 100A ones"

[1] New EV for one of the guvnors...non-hybrid/full EV vehicle with increased charging power requirements.

[2] Sudden un-solicted loss of one phase, which takes out a good portion of the building

[3] Traced back by yours truly to a blown fuse on the supply side of the meter

[4] Power company turn up to replace the fuse...I inquire about phase balance.

[5] Reply:L1 drawing ~ 5 to 8A. L2 drawing about 7A. L3 (repaired) drawing 70A nominal,>82A peak.

OK, 82A...unbalanced but not disastrous...right up to the point where we learn that the fuses were only 60A.

UK Power Networks couldn't have been more helpful. Supply upgrade requires new fuse carriers in tn the DP/Meter area, and external underground works it seems.

UK officials caught napping ahead of 2G and 3G doomsday


Re: Lychford Road

I can't name names here, but I can tell you that there are at least two utilitiy companies switching to/introducing metering over LoRA. There are a couple of networks building out infrastructure in targeted areas to accommodate this. It's a pretty good technology fit for metering, which is generally low bandwidth (comparatively tiny PDUs/packets of just a few bytes), sent very infrequently. LoRA is ideal for that sort of 'low rate telemetry' stuff. Considering the RF power used, the freqs used and the link budget available, the achievable ranges are ... Very impressive!


Re: Going to be awkward

The difference in 'nG' is largely due to the changes/improvements in the RF side of things which allow you to squeeze more 'bits' into any given amount of spectrum/bandwidth. The more 'bits/Hz' you get, the faster things can go.

Improvements in RF transceiver technology have largely driven this, as they enable the use of more complex modulation schemes that carry more bits/Hz than before, whilst increasing the resistance to RF effects like multipath fading etc. If you fancy a headache, go read up on OFDM and QAM.

The reason for going ever upwards in frequency is that the higher you go, the more spectrum bandwidth - and therefore bits/Hz - is available. However, higher freqs run out of puff faster (AKA propogate worse) than lower ones, which is why you need a higher number of cells to give useable RF performance to a given geographical area, even with sectorised antennas and the really funky beam steering going on. Don't forget this works two ways - handset to cell and cell to handset. This all adds up to more capex for the operators, which is why...

We lost some terrestrial TV spectrum a while back so the operators could have access to more (comparatively) low freq/longer range spectrum to play with. 2G and 3G are elderly now and inhabit the lower parts of the spectrum available for mobile/cellular services....and are probably on the chopping block so that their valuable spectrum can be (re-)used for the more spectrally efficient and resilient newer 'G'enerations.

RF spectrum is in short supply and already congested. If you want to know how awkward this can get - in the UK at least - go have a look at the Ofcom spectrum interactive map. You've got to love this RF stuff. It's another example of a very analogue lower layer carrying the Digital World on it's back. Never doubt that analogue rules the roost!

Apple's quest for modem independence from Qualcomm is going nowhere fast


@Groo:Spot on.

If you look at things in block diagram form, it does indeed look simple. It's not until you start monkeying around with RF at the necessary frequencies, bits/Hz, modulations, levels of miniaturisation and so on do you realise the scale of the mountain you are trying to climb. It's a very complicated thing to try, and IMHO requires a more analogue skill-set than digital. Those skills are hard to find.

And they haven't even got to arguably the most challenging and important part - the antenna array. LTE is well understood and mature now, but 5G-SA involves a new set of rules for the sub-6GHz bands, especially keeping the power consumption within sane limits.

"simply underestimated the complexity of the task to design its own modem? They absolutely have...

Bad eIDAS: Europe ready to intercept, spy on your encrypted HTTPS connections


I do 'trust the faceless EU muppets to lick a window',

I do not trust the faceless EU muppets to know when to stop !.

Shouldn't be too much of a problem, as it'd be billed as a cost reduction to the window cleaning bill, and in any case their tongues are busy elsewhere!

Microsoft says VBScript will be ripped from Windows in future release


Re: small number of people who have inherited some ancient scripts

Or any company whose product makes extensive use of the scripting engine....as mine does. It's removal has obviously been coming for a while - and is probably long overdue - however it's pending disappearance is.....unwelcome news for me and mine.That said didn't MS say cmd.exe was no longer maintained a while back? It is still there and working.

A lot of the day-to-day task automation we use in our SMB depends on a library (or 'toolbox' if you want) of VBScript procedures which gets referred to as 'The Engine', as it's this that drives most of the common tasks, especially those executed frequently.

The benefit of VBS is that it runs on any machine in our workplace, and is easily understandable by people with different skill levels, the latter being good as it's served as a springboard for noobs to stop being scared of 'coding' and get interested. One of our best devs started out this way.

Looks like VBS is now the 'old fossil fuel' and PS is the 'new electric'. Here's hoping VBA is next on the block:-)

Can't wait for more concrete information on the actual sunset date, as this will hopefully provide an acceptable justification to start doing things a more sustainable way.

No, no, no! Disco joke hit bum note in the rehab center


Re: poor taste

I'm just glad he picked some Disco (pretty poor) as opposed to my first thought, which was a particular sketch by 'Derek and Clive' (AKA Peter Cook and Dudley Moore).

My first thought was (NSFW) this, and the second (Very NSFW) was this.

At one point, I was involved in the dev of something known as a 'Subscriber Data and Telephony Adapter', which was supposed to 'drop' both internet and voice into customer premises via a microwave-type PTP radio link. I had come up with an exchange simulator to test various call-flow scenarios and options. The Devil on my shoulder said "Hmmmm...unplug target's desk phone from floor jack, connect to the SDTA instead......program simulator to play a black-humor voice announcement (Redundancies were happening) and disconnect when any digit is dialled..."

Backfired a bit as it wasn't received well (odd, he'd do that to other people) and I had to take the morning off for safety...and eat a huuggee slice of humble pie in the afternoon to avoid HR involvement.. (Actors:Keith, Neil and myself)

Scientists suggest possible solution to space-induced bone loss


Damn you, sir!* You've just sentenced me to a weekend with Harry Harrison and Slippery Jim.

*Actually, that's a 'Thank you':-)

Getting to the bottom of BMW's pay-as-you-toast subscription failure


Re: don't forget

"Abhorrent mess, bring back the engineers."

Just that[1].

A couple of years ago, I was asked to 'integrate' a bit of 24VDC industrial kit. No suitable bench supply was available (All in use), so I convinced the boss to buy one for the job - justifying it as 'Needed immediately' and 'Customer/Project funded', plus it would be useful later on, as our own products were evolving in that direction.

I specced up a reasonable bench PSU (0-50V, I forget how many amps), and found something sort-of-reputable online for what I felt was a reasonable amount of money - after doing the 'is that too much' risk-vs-reward due diligence beforehand, including some justification text, exact model number and vendor. ISTR it came to somewhere around GBP250.

The next day, a PSU arrived. Not *THE* PSU, just 'A' PSU, which was the cheapest piece of crap available on flea-bay. 4mm binding posts that wouldn't accept any of the 4mm 'Banana' plugs in the lab, one segment of the LED display stubbornly remaining unlit, and the V and I pots wobbling all over the place...not to mention an *audiable* inductor.. Definitely sourced from flea-bay, as that's what the invoice/receipt inside the (damp) box said, and the receipted price was GBP60. Being curious, I put the output on a 'scope and was shocked at the shitty noise present (And I've seen loads of 'iffy' PSU outputs before). It seems my purchase request got 'edited' by manglement:-) I bitched, got told to make do.

48 hrs later (mainly PSU drying time), I had things working and went to get a coffee. I came back into the lab and my colleague said they turned the bench off due to smoke coming from what I was working on. It turns out that that the shitty PSU lost output voltage control, and shoved 60VDC at something nominally 24VDC and with an abs-max of 40V, thus killing it. This 'something' cost EU720.

Told the Boss (The editor!) and got the 'What did you do to it?' question. My response was considered, but that's the closet I've ever come to using verbal or physical violence on a colleague! I still can't forget that one.

You can have it Quick, Cheap or Quality......pick any two.

[1] Not always the answer. Some left-handed design engineer (No, not me!) designed a test rig so that it was nigh on impossible for a right-hander to avoid setting an invalid and destructive switch combination...the bill for that one was about 6K in the early nineties.

MOXIE microwaved Mars air into oxygen, but now it's time for a breather


Chemisty is not my strong suit....

...but after dredging up something hammered into my thick grey matter by the excellent Dr. Mike Bee (At THS), something doesn't read quite right to me...

OK, Carbon Dioxide is CO2, and the article says "an electrochemical process in which one oxygen atom is extracted from each carbon dioxide molecule" is used (My emphasis).

If I understand things correctly :-

[a] After 'cracking' the CO2, that leaves you with a molecule of CO and one atom of oxygen, AKA 'Elemental Oxygen'.

[b] What we want is good old O2, meaning a molecule of Oxygen rather than just a single atom of the stuff.

Now given that "NASA noted that the most important use of oxygen", doesn't that suggest there has to be a process for combining the single atoms of Oxygen extracted into actually-useful O2 molecules that we want ( And presumably *NOT* Ozone/ Trioxygen / O3 or tetraoxygen / O4 )?

Why not 'Crack' out and discard the C/Carbon leaving the O2...or have I missed something? Chemists, please educate me:-)

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


Re: Resiliency – we've heard of it

Input validation 'with extreme paranoia' is mandatory for me I'm afraid - for just this sort of reason.

Just had to hook up our invoicing system with a carrier's JSON API ... and had to go through a suite of compliance testing with them on the test system before being signed off and getting the API key for 'prod'.

If I can do it, why can't NATS?

Linux lover consumed a quarter of the network


Optimised Engineering

If it's the place I'm thinking of, having truly sucky bandwidth has resulted in some interesting System Design work, centering on both availability of power and bandwidth.

I wish someone would publish the detailed info as lesson to the rest of us. I wish I could, but it's not my place to do so, and I'm a little too far 'outside' for my version to be accurate.:-)

Oracle's revised Java licensing terms 2-5x more expensive for most orgs


Oracle's Q&A...

Having read the new Ts&Cs at the link referenced above, I suggest one small update to completely clarify the whole thing, and more accurately describe the likely (As opposed to the published) behaviour:-

Q:Where do I send feedback and/or questions for the Java SE Universal Subscription?

A:If you are a customer, use My Oracle Support. If you are not a customer and have technical feedback related to Java SE, please visit https://java.com/report. For all other inquiries related to sales, support, product and/or licensing, please contact us at https://www.oracle.com/corporate/contact/global.html https://www.oracle.com/dev/null or https://www.oracle.com/endless-que/ainuo *




Q:What if I’m an ISV, or embed Java in hardware for redistribution, and want to include Java SE in my products?

A:Please consult your local funny-farm, who will assist you with the lobotomy you so obviously require.


* Should be FIFO, but more likely Anything In, Nothing Useful Out.

Brit broadband subscribers caught between crappy connections and price hikes



I spent a lot of my career with all sorts of different parts of System-X over the years, from the 'edge' at the concentrator / DSSS that your 2W line terminates at, all the way to the processor at the 'middle' (Both the 3.5MWord and 28MWord versions), with a few stops at DSS on the way. My initial involvement was repair of faulty slide-in-units to component level (Anyone else remember ED0618 and PSC-South), then into 'System Proving' (QA/Testing) of every facet of the thing....hardware, software, you name it, we tested it :-) I dunno about the others (Under the guidance of DickMon), but I had real fun and learnt an absolute shit-tonne of stuff which still stands me in good stead today...I was taught my hardware, firmware, software, 'testing' and systems engineering by my peers and a bunch of shit-hot developers of the same - no degree necessary :-) Some of the people I knocked around with were seriously smart [I am merely very smart :-].

The Proving teams later morphed into the 'core' of the integration function for a whole load of emerging technology - SDH, Kilostream (Old by then) and the management thereof. VOIP and DSL came along and we had a thoroughly fun and challenging time getting to grips with the new-fangled packetised speech and signalling protocols. In many cases, it was us 'Integrator' types who came up with test tools and/or simulations leading to *us* developing the fix rather than the devs.

I had the most fun in the whacky world of System Design, which is where I finished when E/// closed the site at Ansty Park in Coventry. By this time System-X was - and still is - cared for by Telent.

I can confirm that it was indeed "engineered" to very high standards, which arose because the people involved were professional and gave a toss about their product. I cannot over-emphasize the professionalism of the engineering teams involved, the attention to detail and drive to do a good job. Our definition of a good job was usually doing something that Joe Public never even noticed happening.

UK government hands CityFibre £318M for rural broadband builds


Keep some of the money back for 'repairs'.

This story on CityFibre gives me a timely opportunity to have a minor moan. I was visiting friends yesterday, who live in a Vermin Media service area and....for some reason, actually take VM's service.

Along their road, the buried VM cables transit the 'inside edge' of the pavement, before turning circa 90 degrees 'inwards' towards the properties using a 'CATV' marked box in the ground. From this, it then runs under a few feet of grass verge before reaching the boundary - in this case a wall.

CityFibre's local contractors (Not sure who is it round here, although I think it's Telec Networks) are in the process of running in infrastructure for real FTTP all over the place, and in this location appear to be using some sort of trenching machine. Now, CF are running their fibre/ducting along the boundary line. In the case of my friends and their immediate neighbor, they managed to shove the trenching machine through the buried VM Cables. My friend's drop cable was taped up and lightly buried suggesting 'no problem here, Guv.', but the neighbors cable had been ripped right out of the ground with such force that the coax had been stretched and pulled out of the buried connector. It's not particularly weedey coax either - something along the lines of RG213/URM67/LMR400 (OK, it's not armored or LDFxxx, but pretty tough normally).

Fairly recently, the VM phone service changed from analog POTS via a 2W pair/Co-Ax 'Hybrid' drop to VOIP only, with the VM Set-top-box providing telephone service inside the house using an internal VoIP-FXS adapter.

Result:Neither Internet OR 'phone service at each property. My friend and I 'bodged' service back into place with some scrap co-ax and tape, mainly as the elderly-ish neighbors were very anxious about the no 'phone service part.. I don't *know* how many other properties along the road were affected, but my guess is quite a few (The contractor's people obviously didn't learn from the 1st mistake!).

Dear CityFibre, please keep some of this 318 Mil back to fix the eff-ups of your contractors, or at least fund the efforts to chase them into fixing the issues caused..

Do I feel sorry for Vermin Media in this instance? Almost.

BOFH: Cough up half a grand and we'll protect you from AI


Re: Its a cunning wheeze

+1 for the 'meaty hologram' - a wonderful description of the likely outcome:-)

1. This crypto-coin is called Jimbo. 2. $8m was stolen from its devs in flash loan attack


Head-scratching? This is to do with cryptocurrency and the hubris that goes with it, so it's more appropriate to scratch the other end...

Cheapest, oldest, slowest part fixed very modern Mac


I'm a bass player, so I shouldn't throw stones*....however...

Q: How can you tell if your drummer's riser is dead level?

A: They are drooling out of *both* sides of their mouth.




* And certainly not at my own 'trade' :-

Q: What is a bass player?

A: A bloke that hangs about with musicians.

Dyson moans about state of UK science and tech, forgets to suck up his own mess


Re: With two-faced "friends" like Dyson, Britain doesn't need enemies

'Henry' vacs etc have been a staple here in the UK for years.

My personal preference these days is for a vacuum cleaner that works for me - which modern Dysons do not. Not enough grunt, plastic parts wear out, batteries or other electrical bits fail way too soon to suit *this* director's[1] depreciation policy.

My personal favorite now that Vorwerk have lost the plot a bit is for a corded and bagged Miele, with the air-driven brush head (the air-driven head is mandatory - that's what turns it from average to brilliant). Far less faff than a Dyson and spares/bags/filers etc. are cheap as chips/fries if you look in the right places. I have a 'Cat & Dog TT 2000' model that is well over a decade old (maybe 15 YO?) and is still going strong. If it gums up on something, it's repairable and simple to extract or unwind the ingested obstruction. Recently bought a more modern one for my elderly mother....she loves the result as it brings up the pile on the equally elderly carpet :-)

Whilst we're on about products like that, I was told by a very senior colleague a while back that he once sold a product to remove water/condensate from snowmobile fuel tanks.. drop one in the fuel tank and it 'vacuumed' up (absorbed, actually) the water at the bottom of the tank, thus avoiding a common cause of snowmobile failures out in the wilds where people depended on them. The marketing tagline for it was 'This product sucks!'. I don't 'do' marketing, but I thought that was quite a good line.

[1] I'm not C-suite - just a 'director' of my own destiny :-)

OpenAI's ChatGPT may face a copyright quagmire after 'memorizing' these books


Re: A mirror-image legal issue

"getting accurate, complete, and safe instructions for complex procedures is definitely another of the problematic use cases for LLM chatbots"

Now, I'm a self-confessed non-believer in AI, and only have a basic understanding of the tech involved..(Artificial Intelligence? No Way. Artificial rules-based weighted decisions? Maybe.).

With people's willingness to unthinkingly accept Internet content as gospel, who's to say the stuff is inaccurate, incomplete or unsafe? Any idea what the metrics to measure AI performance re accuracy etc. are? Who makes the decision? Who sues who for the bad advise?

ISTR that AI often get trained on internet content.....which AI is now capable of writing itself.

Here's hoping that 'AI' incestuously reads/trains on it's own output and descends into confused insensibility, hopefully much faster that us humans [1]:-)

[1]Or at least faster than me!

Curiosity gets interplanetary software patch for better driving and more on Mars


Re: Eurpean format numbers?

Bring back small amounts of storage:-) It teaches you how to right *efficient* low level code. Try writing code that fits in an 8kbyte eeprom these days. The BIOS images I routinely flash onto machines are 16 or 32 megabyte images, just to support the flashy graphics. GUI in the BIOS? Bah!

Back in the day, most of the changes in the source for said eeproms were commented as 'code reduction'...

UK's Emergency Services Network unlikely to start operating until 2029


Title is wrong....

"UK's Emergency Services Network unlikely to start operating until 2029"

FTFU :-)

Cisco Moscow trashed offices as it quit Putin's putrid pariah state


Re: Bit juvenile

Now, I labour on the technical side for an SMB. We don't shift stuff in high volume so we purchase 'Just in time'.

I have to say, long term availability effed off years ago, even more so after COVID and the turmoil in the semiconductor industry. Reliability is going the same way.

Defunct comms link connected to nothing at a fire station – for 15 years


Re: for those who don't remember them ...

Just out of interest, was that on the ACE or RENACE side of things? You might know me if you were involved.... I was on the sidelines during the VAX-->ALPHA changeover when it was an 'A&TN' job, and did some of the testing on the later NTEs. Remember the room at NCP with the ACE models? That's where I lived also :-) 'Twas much easier when things were truly Circuit Switched..


Our favourite trick was to dial one of the 'magic'* test numbers to invoke a ring-back test on each payphone passed during whatever booze-fueled journey between drinking establishments was underway.

If they were quick enough, the stragglers could catch up...if they weren't, or passerby answered the ringing phone, then they had to do a bit of searching. Two jokes for the price of one.

A long while ago, I used to have a 'Mercury' account (Dial '131' + account number) - which you could use to put calls from payphones onto your bill.. I nearly got done over in the local pub nearest work....people saw me making calls from the pub coin-operated payphone without using any dosh.. and got pretty shirty when I refused to share the 'secret number'.

* Far fewer of them now, but back in the day there were multiple ways of triggering a remote test. We had inside knowledge of them all :-)

Hospital to test AI 'copilot' for doctors that jots notes on patient care


Re: AI interpretation of surgeon & patient conversation

My thoughts exactly.

One has only to read the automatically-generated 'Closed Captions' on YouTube vids to see the misinterpretations made. These don't generally matter to me as they are the English Subtitles over English audio, and I can spot the speech-to-text mistakes and adjust accordingly. However, the written word on it's own would have led to ...confusion. Some of the 'hiccups' don't matter, but some do - there have been a couple I saw that meant the written was most definitely NOT what was spoken. Sorry, I can't quote refs...it was quite a while ago.

Leaving aside the obvious mistakes/wrong words in the machine translation, what about punctuation? A 'Let's eat, Grandpa! vs. Let's eat Grandpa!' issue could be quite serious in the medical world.....and the legal come to think of it.

Also, the NLP/speech-to-text has problems with accents.... Sure, en-something may be the language, but any accent can confuse the beast, it seems - the more pronounced the accent, the higher the error rate. And that's with 'broadcast-quality' or decent audio input, not the muffled low quality crap you're likely to get as source from whatever low-tech, cheap, shit device is used to record the audio in the first place.

Until the 'error-rate' improves, especially with accented speech or a non-native speaker (in ANY language), I for one dread my medical records getting transcribed by AI. This seems like a baaaaaddddddd idea and pretty shitty science, 'pushed' in the name of progress,

Yup, NOT a fan of 'AI', because - just like Tesla's Autopilot - it claims to be something it ain't.

Humanoid robot takes a retail job, but not one any store clerk wants to do


Job theives?

The idea that robots will replace human workers on cost grounds is not, IMHO, realistic. Even if the robot worker can be as flexible as a human counterpart, what on earth makes people expect them to be cheaper? Capex / opex on an expensive bit of kit like a general purpose robot will likely far exceed the cost of a, possibly several, human worker(s). Good luck with that.

I'm all for progress and R&D, but I find myself wondering about the point of some of the innovative projects reported on here, especially the AI bullshit.

Or is it because I am turning into an "old fart"?

Oh yeah - Asimov's "I, Robot" should be required reading for people coming up with robots that share space with us meat-sacks..

Tesla's self-driving code may ignore stop signs, act unsafe. Patch coming ... soon


Re: FSD - No chance

"It's not just Teslas that can't read road signs correctly"

Boss has a full-EV Kia of some description, which apparently also reads speed limit signs. His commute starts in an area with several and frequent speed limit changes, with the 'slowdowns' to 30MPH. Boss also transits a couple of long-ish road segments where there are 'repeater' signs* reminding you the limit here is 40 or 50 MPH as the case may be.

If I wasn't such an honest mug, I would have been out-and-about with some paint, changing the '30's to '80's** and each 'repeater' sign to '10' then '90' alternately. Would produce an interesting commute, and be a good test of the machine vision...

* Standard/common here in the UK.

** If you know what the pejorative term 'SAWF' is, then you probably know who I am.

Here's a list of proxy IPs to help block KillNet's DDoS bots


Re: Use a script carefully

@Victor Ludorum:

"Sanitise the list before using it."

Always. I don't even trust my OWN data most of the time, let alone anyone else's inputs :-)

Not that I'm actually going to drop .... I should have put the 'joke' icon on. It looks like I've been reading too much BOFH, for too long, and I'm having "neticidal" thoughts. Not very professional of me:-)


'17746 lines'* of address:port to wade through?

The boss will never go for the time that'll take, even with scripting..... doing '-A INPUT -s -j DROP' will be so much quicker and safer, and the staff will thank me for a quiet day.

OK, that covers IPv4........where's that IPv6 list?

[* At time-of-clicking ]

Second-hand and refurbished phone market takes flight amid inflation hike


Phones up the bum? You've spent too much time in prison :-)

Qualcomm develops one automotive chip to rule them all


Re: Why so coy?

Probably not coy, just that there is no real idea of how to implement that strategy yet! These days, people are good and knowing what they want, but have no idea how to get there - apart from 'Oh, we'll just outsource that'.

Tesla driver blames full-self-driving software for eight-car Thanksgiving Day pile up


Re: Hmmmmmmm

Humans are pretty good at driving.

Some more than others. It depends how much situational awareness you can maintain, and how much you trust your fellow road users to keep to the generally accepted norms.....whatever they are. Me, I assume that all road users, including myself, are human and fallible and allow plenty of space (actually thinking-and-action time).

A good friend still suggests that the best safety device would be a large, very obvious driver-facing spike mounted in the middle of the steering wheel. That should keep people focussed:-)

Arm processor technology caught up in US chip war with China


Yep, that's all true. We never use the lessons of history, preferring instead to optimistically assume we can repeat the experiments of the past and get a different outcome.

The other thing is that we usually choose to disbelieve that the other 'little groups' are not as smart as us, let alone smarter! "What, them over there are better at this than us? I don't think so!"

Victims of IT scandal in UK postal service will get fresh compensation


The heads that roll..

...will inevitably be the wrong ones, and will most likely to be the heads of the UK General Public - because we'll end up footing the bill somehow.

I have no problem with the victims of this awful scandal being compensated, preferable *hugely*, for what they went through and suffered. What I do have a problem with is the lack of any punishment for the people in command* of the PO/Fujitsu whilst this was being perpetrated. It sends the message that corporate culture *CAN* do what it wants with no comebacks. IMO, the people who were in command, especially those who advocated continuing along the prosecution route once 'reasonable doubt' had clearly been established, need to be the ones providing the compensation (Not the taxpayer) or receiving substantial punishment themselves. Fine the fuckers, fine them hard, and fine them publicly, ensuring *they* bear the legal costs**. Anyone at senior manager level and especially above needs a financial shagging personally without the benefit of Director's Liability insurance. I hope the outcome of the investigation is that the PO people responsible are identified and judged to have acted criminally (Which I think is enough to 'void' their directors insurance, right?) and thus open the route to 'criminal bankruptcy' and seizure of personal assets.

That's the dream, anyway...I doubt anything like the above, or indeed any punishment of the people responsible at all, will actually happen. Oh yeah - stop calling it an 'IT scandal' - it's not an IT issue. I.T was the cause, but the scandal was all human-led/driven.

* There is a difference between being in 'command' and being in 'control' - they are two very different things which should be drummed into ANYONE undertaking a business qualification.

** Or at least ensure the costs of the case aren't borne by the people supposedly receiving the compo - they should be receiving everything awarded to them without tax, and without having to pay the 'legal levy'.

Rant ends. I hope the inquiry does identify the culprits and bar them from any further corporate activity, the bunch of cunts...

Just follow the instructions … no wait, not that instruction to lock everyone out of everything


Re: Poor flake

@Peter Prof Fox, re 'If you want entertainment then'

You don't deserve the downvotes you have, if for no other reason than you produced a beautifully crafted sentence, and reminded us we are still comentards - I still miss the moderatrix.

Gunfire at electrical grid kills power for 45,000 in North Carolina


Re: Fragile

'American beer is nothing more than fizzy piss'

Some time ago, I was in Duluth, just outside Atlanta and was having a 'Saturday night session' at the local bar. Being on a budget, we were drinking the 'Draft Bud', and put away quite a bit of it, during a very enjoyable evening.

Paid for it the next day by feeling truly awful....banging headaches, aching body and limbs despite drinking about two pints of water before sleepies to ward of the dehydration. Never in my life had I, not have I since, I suffered like at the hands of the demon drink. Don't normally get hangovers, but that one put me flat on my back for most of Sunday.

Draft beer? More like toxicity-on-tap! Didn't stop us re-visiting the local bar...we just drank something else...mostly Michelob, ISTR. Barkeep there must have overhead the whinging we were doing as some 'craft' beers arrived a couple of weeks later and were enjoyed by us Brits and our "127's" (The 'localhosts').

How not to test a new system: push a button and wait to see what happens


Re: Alternative Lesson: "Never turn anything off if..."

@Admiral Grace Hopper

Seeing as you currently have 42 upvotes, and I is 'vogon-ish', I have to reply to this.

Size of boot applied to arse of senior manager by Very Senior Manager? <-------------------- This Big -------------------->

Would that it would be so....in my experience the shit flows from VSM->SM->M->me, even if it should have stopped at SM or M level:-)

Aviation regulators push for more automation so flights can be run by a single pilot


@ChoHag.Interesting handle you have there.

Anything to do with this*?

Had I not read Douglas Adams first, I'd be going by the name Belgarath rather than a vogon.

(* Highly recommended escapist** reading. It also teaches you about people. You should also look at the other side of the coin by reading this, if for no other reason than 'equal opportunities'.)

(** Actually entrapment - back in the day, I nearly got fired for not being being able to stop reading the entire series from start to finish.).



'it will actually get better and better and learn'

Yes it will, but only for as long as humans are the ones doing the learning and expressing their knowledge and experience in the code. Even then, unless there is continuous transfer of knowledge and experience from the outgoing 'old guard' maintainers to the incoming 'new guys' us humans will forget *why* that bit of code does what it does in the wider system.

Given the propensity for people to just have a go despite not understanding what they are about to do, IMO there has to be an assurance that the overall system and code-base are continuously, and thoroughly, understood despite the inevitable staff/dev turnover.

AI is NOT the answer. AI is not, and never will be, capable of dealing with the 'edge cases' as they arise - you've only got to watch a few Mentour videos (Other providers are available, including CAA/FAA/NTSB 'wash ups') to realise that issues generally get solved by humans, not machines.

If something has gone wrong, that's where I want a properly qualified pilot with some experience in charge. Also, two real pilots instead of one mean there are two heads involved, and there is the chance to talk something through with a peer, or at least someone different, first. The only thing AI has to converse with before taking action is...itself..or more correctly the programmer who created it, or the crap data it was trained on.

If the stories about 'Olympic Airways 411' are true, the only thing that stopped a disaster was a bloke with experience - something that AI, and it's coders, cannot have (Especially as the human through the rules book out of the window..which AI would never consider doing!)

When it comes to flying lots of people about, the best things to oversee that activity are other humans... assisted by automation, yes...replaced by it, no.

OK, I guess supply/demand/costs will win and either single-or-zero pilot air travel will happen. When it does, I hope the CEOs of the airline and/or of the company doing the flight control software are forced to be on the certification flights and 'eat their own dog food'.

Massive energy storage system goes online in UK


Re: it can only take the output of about 15 Dogger Bank turbines

"Looks like you'll need about another 200+"

If I read this correctly, you're saying we need to build 200 more of these here to store the output of 'Dogger Bank' as a whole.

We appear to be talking about 196MW of storage per multi-unit site...so say 200MW, for a few percent of the peak load period Each 200MW site appears to be able to store and supply (later!) circa 92-94-% of one fifth of the older '1GWe' 'power stations' or one fifteenth of a modern (i.e. nuclear fission) UK electricity generation facility at about 3GWe.

One can't store something unless it is generated in the first place. The last thing we need at the moment is a large increase in load (1000s of electric vehicles @ e.g 15KW/h) combined with more bias towards electricity as natural gas becomes rarer/more expensive*) at the same time we're loosing generation capacity.

So call me back when there is something to replace the short, medium and long term loss in generation capacity we face due to eliminating fossil fuels and decommissioning the 'nuclear fleet', combined with the increasing loads involved with everyone plugging in their EVs etc...

* I have two elderly relatives who are already switching to electric fan-assisted convection heaters or plain old 'fan heaters' used in one room only to avoid heating the rest of the house. I know of at least one family-of-four who use a 10KW electric shower in an attempt to keep the gas bill down (Without doing anything about the overall energy bill - talk about 'Borrowing from Peter to pay Paul'!).

Mine's the one with the extra-heavy-duty thermal insulation.

tsoHost pulls plug on Gridhost service with just 45 days' notice


tsoHost ain't what it used to be.

It used to be pretty good back in the day but has steadily deteriorated over the course of several years.

Yes, we had issues and outages but they were never that serious (Apart from them upgrading PHP and not letting us know, and the great 'Domains beginning with B' débâcle which hit us). Also we were on a shared hosting machine (Probably their cheapest, knowing our bean-counters), and I had to keep saying to the MD 'You get what you pay for'.

Like a lot of people, we got caught out by this Gridhost turnoff, and spent about two days with no web presence at all, then another 2 or 3 days with a holding 'Sorry, we've got problems' page before the brand new shiny website we had waiting in the wings came into service....much to the relief of our worldwide customers, some of whom thought we'd ceased trading or something.

We were lucky with the new site. All we had to do with this was advance our plans by a couple of weeks. I know of various colleagues and contacts that have anywhere from 40-odd to 162 sites affected. All of them swear they did not get a single warning email in their working and monitored mailboxes that were registered with tsoHost.

The MD and I have spent the last couple of days updating content and sorting out all the redirected domains and email etc. It's been a bit of a panic, but no too bad as these things go.

People are right about the poor support at tsoHost. The chat que lengths were horrid. We always started out as #160-odd in the que, and it took hours to get to the top. Then you get a canned stock answer, and back you go to the bottom of the que. Actual support tickets were a bit better, but not much. Once we had persuaded them to re-instate FTP access for backing up (Which they managed to get working on the 3rd attempt), we said 'F This' and committed to moving away from them as fast as possible...it was sheer luck we had a replacement site nearly ready to go, with another provider. Professional companies who see support as an obligation rather than a cost centre generally put extra resources in place just in case - especially on and after the 'due date' - something this bunch of tossers didn't.

Had they actually warned us, or any of our colleages/contacts, we would have known in advance and could have dealt with the turnoff more efficiently instead of this un-planned 'sprint'.,.

tsoHost were on our our naughty step anyway (Hence the new site being on another provider), but we've added GoDaddy (And any subsidiaries) to the non-preferred/avoid vendor list now because we don't want the risk any more. Considering GoDaddy are US based where customer service is king, they've really dropped a bollock, service-wise. Not impressed.

tsoHost ain't the only one. We buy hosted exchange from giacom via a reseller, and for the last week or have had out outlook clients frequently asking for the password to {random mailbox}. We bitch at the reseller, they say it's a giacomp issue and are continually chasing them. I'm too far away from this to be sure, but it looks like giacom's authentication synch/replication across their server suite has issues.... Still ongoing with no sign of a 'cure' yet.

Overall, it's been a pretty shitty few days. Still, Vino Rosso helps..

Twitter engineer calls out Elon Musk for technical BS in unusual career move


Re: Not engineering but...

My sister-in-law is a GP, and she once told me about the use of 'PRATFO' for those with hypochondriac tendencies. It stands for 'Patient Reassured And Told To Fuck Off'.