* Posts by H in The Hague

703 posts • joined 17 Jan 2013


Exsparko-destructus! What happens when wand waving meets extremely poor wiring

H in The Hague Silver badge

"... it would have down the drill's power cord rather into the sparky."

As far as I'm aware most electric drills (at least in Europe) have long been double-insulated, so no earth/ground wire in the cord. Furthermore I think they usually have an insulating component in the motor shaft, so that even if you hit a live wire only the chuck (which you normally don't touch in use :) will be live, and not any other part of the drill.

Almost that time again -->

Here's one for the weekend.

(Is this the right place to whinge about the lack of a wine icon?)

Hole blasted in Guntrader: UK firearms sales website's CRM database breached, 111,000 users' info spilled online

H in The Hague Silver badge

"I think he means “should be”…."

Most likely the are - the police do make house calls to check that you're storing the kit as required. A friend of mine who received such as visit complained that the two officers were .... armed. For some reason he was rather put out by that.

BOFH: You say goodbye and I say halon

H in The Hague Silver badge

Re: Great murder choice.

"If you are breathing nitrogen and don't get enough oxygen, that trigger doesn't happen and you drift gently off to sleep, eventually on a permanent basis."

Correct - you don't notice. Nitrogen is used on a large scale to inert chemical process equipment which may contain flammable substances. And sadly people enter those environments and collapse, then one of their colleagues tries to get the victim out and then collapses themselves, etc.

Similar accidents have happened inside barges which have been sealed up for a while and where rusting has resulted in an oxygen-depleted atmosphere. I think there are even types of clay which can cause anoxic conditions in trenches dug in them.

Happy 'Freedom Day': Stats suggest many in England don't want it or think it's a terrible idea

H in The Hague Silver badge

Re: Ha

"... look at what happened in Holland over the past month. They did the great reopening a month ago, and it's been followed by a huge locking down again as cases rose spectacularly."

Yes, cases shot up, especially among young people. No, there has not been a 'huge locking down', the reintroduced restrictions primarily relate to the closing of nightclubs and discos, and the recommendation to work from home where possible.

Alas, hospitalisations are now going up in NL and it looks like even fully vaccinated folk can spread the Delta variant :(

The lights go off, broadband drops out, the TV freezes … and nobody knows why (spooky music)

H in The Hague Silver badge

Re: French water meters

"@Pascal - we can do it, at least for light bulbs. The problem is that they don't want to, as then they'd go bankrupt after selling that initial everlasting one per socket when the income-stream dried up."

To get an incandescent light bulb with a v long life all you used to have to do was to "underrun" it (i.e. operate it at lower than the rated voltage). Disadvantages: 1) the light is too red, 2) efficacy (lumen/watt) is greatly reduced, so not actually saving you any money.

The coming of Wi-Fi 6 does not mean it's time to ditch your cabled LAN. Here's why

H in The Hague Silver badge

Re: This months of work from home showed too....

"the minimum the architect could get past building control ..."

Errm, quite often there's no architect involved in these projects. And even if there is then items such as insulation may be specified by the specialist consultants rather than the architect. And even if they specify something better than the minimum there's likely to be a "value engineer" at the end of the design process to undo their efforts :(

Too depressing, need one of these, almost time -->

(best I could find to represent the yellow paint I'm about to slap on to the garden furniture)

LibreOffice 7.2 release candidate reveals effort to be Microsoft-compatible

H in The Hague Silver badge

Re: Use early Microsoft formats where possible for interchange

"When they cooked this up to highjack the EU standardisation ..."

I don't think this has anything to do with the EU, I think it's an ISO standard (ISO/IEC 29500 Information technology — Document description and processing languages — Office Open XML File Formats?). But perhaps someone more familiar with the background could comment on this.

UK govt draws a blank over vaccine certification app – no really, the report is half-empty

H in The Hague Silver badge

From your correspondent in NL

The Dutch app seems to be working OK.

You can also go to https://coronacheck.nl/en/ and print a QR code (for use in NL or for international travel) based on being vaccinated, having recovered from Covid, or having a recent negative test. Or you can call them and they'll send you a QR code in the post. The QR codes can be verified by an app: https://coronacheck.nl/en/scanner

The QR code for use in NL is accompanied by human-readable info: your initials, and your day and month (but not year) of birth, so a venue can check your ID and verify that the QR code matches you, but the QR code or printed certificate does not reveal any further info. The QR code for international travel is linked to more details about your vaccination, etc.

So far, so good. What's not so good is that you used to get the QR code immediately after your second vaccination (or first, for the Jansen vaccine). But it takes two week to develop protection. That and some other issues have unfortunately led to a Covid surge, primarily among young people going clubbing, or coming back from holidays with an unwanted viral souvenir :(. Fortunately that's not really putting people in hospital - so far. The PM and Minister for Health have issued a grovelling apology and are right now being grilled in Parliament about relaxing the measures too far.

BOFH: Here in my car I feel safest of all. I can listen to you ... It keeps me stable for days

H in The Hague Silver badge

Re: Damn!

"I routinely made hand-written changes (each initialled and dated) to clauses I didn't like on engagement contracts."

A year or two ago I was going to do some subcontract work for an agency, so they sent me a contract and their terms 'n conditions as a PDF to sign. Didn't like the liability clause which put all liability on me. So went to their website and copied the liability clause in their contract with customers - which pretty well excluded all liability. Pasted it into the contract PDF and they never noticed.

H in The Hague Silver badge

Re: Box Tickers Anonymous United .......

"Apple have a clause for the iTunes one. You can't use the code to develop bio weapons."

About a year or so ago I got a few cans of paint from a Sigma paint trade counter here in NL. Much to my surprise the invoice included a clause to the effect that I couldn't use their products in nuclear weapons. And that was on the front, not in the small print on the back. Turns out Sigma is part of PPG, an American company. Quite annoying, had to get paint from the DIY superstore instead to paint my nose cones.

Robots still suck. It's all they can do to stand up – never mind rise up

H in The Hague Silver badge


The article states "Automated guided vehicles, such as driverless forklifts, are common in modern warehouses but need dedicated infrastructure to operate properly."

That used to be the case for Automatic Guided Vehicles (AGVs), which followed lines painted on the floor, wires embedded in the floor, or bar codes, etc. and constantly communicate with a server.

However the modern units transporting pallets, etc. in warehouses are referred to as Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs). They initially survey the warehouse with their LIDARs, build up a map which is tidied up by humans, and then use that map to navigate, again using LIDAR, and only communicate with the server to get the start and end points of their trip.

There are quite a few companies supplying hardware and software for this. For example, www.bluebotics.com provide software and navigation hardware which is used by a number of AMR suppliers.

May all your pallets be transported safely, especially if they're stacked with -->

GitHub Copilot auto-coder snags emerge, from seemingly spilled secrets to bad code, but some love it

H in The Hague Silver badge

Re: The feedback problem

All those comments make perfect sense and you could look at the results of machine translation where the same issues occur. MT engines feeding on stuff they've translated themselves (reinforcing flaws), output being quite good but with major errors which are sometimes not readily apparent, etc.

It might also be similar to supposedly self-driving cars: the better they get, the more difficult it is for the operator to stay alert and correct them where necessary.

Yes, I now I'm an old f..rt.

Go to L: A man of the cloth faces keyboard conundrum

H in The Hague Silver badge

Re: Keys

"As you can tell by the reference to the Selectric, we have been married a while."

Lovely piece of engineering!

Financial watchdog says Google's clampdown on scam ads might not be enough to prevent stricter laws in Britain

H in The Hague Silver badge

Definition of financial services

I've never advertised through Google, but once looked into it so I'm still on their mailing list. Got an e-mail about this issue today. The restrictions only apply to 'financial services ads' (whether or not regulated by the UK FCA).

But a lot of what ordinary folk would consider to be financial services are actually outside the scope. I quote:

"Ads related to the following categories will not be considered financial services for the purposes of this policy, but are still required to comply with all other Google Ads policies:

• Products in scope of our Debt services policy

• Products in scope of our Complex speculative financial products policy: contracts for difference, rolling spot forex, financial spread betting. Ads for this category will be able to target UK users seeking financial services as long as they meet the requirements of our Complex speculative financial products policy and complete verification, if requested by Google.

• Gambling (see our Gambling and Games policy)

• Products in scope of our Cryptocurrencies, Credit repair, and Binary options policies"

So still plenty of scope for shysters to advertise.

UK's competition watchdog preps to shoulder post-Brexit workload from European Commission

H in The Hague Silver badge

Re: Oh, right.

"... it amuses me now to hear the likes of Tim Martin of JD Wetherspoons pleading for special treatment now that the reduction of labour in the hospitality industry caused by Brexit means that he can't get enough staff."

The staff shortages could be solved by raising wages in the hospitality sector. After all, one of the arguments in favour of Brexit was that it would reduce the supply of cheap labour from Eastern Europe, leading to an increase in wages for the native workforce. So it is a little surprising that Mr Martin now complains about an outcome of a policy he actively promoted.

Gov.UK taskforce publishes post-Brexit wish-list: 'TIGRR' pounces on GDPR, metric measures

H in The Hague Silver badge

"Or maybe they're just looking to bork, totally, the financial/insurance system?'

That's already started. I used to have my Professional Indemnity insurance through MFL, a broker in Manchester. Due to the loss of passporting they can no longer help me so I'm now sending a couple of hundred euros every year to a broker here in the Netherlands. Such a great way to support British businesses :(

H in The Hague Silver badge

Re: Grenfell and red-tape

"Red-tape has many purposes, one of which is to make things safe for us. Remove regulations and house builders will rejoice as they can cut corners."

Yup, friend of mine had a SO who was a small developer. Apparently he was looking forward to Brexit eliminating a lot of health and safety stuff. However, most health and safety at work procedures are covered by national legislation - UK legislation being stricter than that in other countries. (EU safety regs mostly apply to products, not procedures.) And aspects of English building regs are stricter than, say in NL (e.g. fire compartmentation, height of front door thresholds, etc. - I've had to read them for work). Of course, Brexit has reduced the number of workers available to build his houses - it'll be interesting to see how he deals with that.

H in The Hague Silver badge

Re: Brexit bollocks

"What galls me is these wankers always refuse to take responsibility for their actions and refuse to act consistently in their actions, .... No surprise when they are led by the adulterer in chief and one of the biggest liars ever to hold office."

As a conservative (but definitely not Conservative) I would like to give you a thousand upvotes for that.

And one or two of these -->

European Parliament's data adequacy objection: Doubts cast on UK's commitment to privacy protection

H in The Hague Silver badge

Re: EU Commision <> EU Parliament

"The Parliament is a bunch of self-elected ..."

I don't get that. The European Parliament is directly elected by European citizens.

The fact that you get that wrong makes it a bit difficult to take the rest of your argument seriously. Or is this simply a typo and did you mean to say something different?

The Audacity: Audio tool finds new and exciting ways to annoy contributors with a Contributor License Agreement

H in The Hague Silver badge

Re: Peculiar move

"Depending on precisely what you want to do after you've had your lay down, of course, you may want to check out Reaper."

Yup. I used to use Cool Edit/Adobe Audition. But my very old version (perpetual licence) doesn't run nicely under Win10 or work with 32 bit files. So I had to replace it. Quickly narrowed the choice down to Audacity and Reaper. Eventually decided on Reaper. Only just started using it but it seems very well designed and versatile. Bit of a learning curve but they have some good videos on the site. Very cheap for what it does: USD 60 for personal use, USD 225 for commercial use.

Audition also wrote audio CDs. So have to get new software for that, which doesn't try to rearrange my tracks in a silly way. Any suggestions?

And here's one for the weekend -->

Big red buttons and very bad language: A primer for life in the IT world

H in The Hague Silver badge

Re: Flashing leds on PDP-11

"Worse are people who refer to plugs as "plug tops" no its a plug not just the top."

Don't worry, you've come to the right place. We feel your pain, we understand.

H in The Hague Silver badge

Re: one of the major flight simulator manufacturers (Link-Miles)

"Singer as in sewing machines, never figured out how they ended up doing flight simulators as well"

I think sewing machines were an early example of precision engineering so they would have been well-placed to serve other industries. I think these days they make missiles.

Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes-Benz? Detroit waits for my order, you'd better make amends

H in The Hague Silver badge

Re: Sometimes though....

A decade or two ago they decided to do a soil pollution survey at an oil refinery, by taking samples with a drilling rig. The rig operator discussed where to drill with the maintenance team, they selected locations without underground services and issued him a digging permit.

Before starting work the rig operator decided to test his kit by drilling a hole in the car park - going straight through the rather thick power cable for the refinery boundary fence. Oops!

Gone in 60 electrons: Digital art swaggers down the cul-de-sac of obsolescence

H in The Hague Silver badge

Re: Music industry all over again

"The music industry would have a little more of my sympathy if the actual creators were seeing a larger piece of that pie."

Which is why I get most of my music from bandcamp.com The have a wide range of stuff, also classical and contemporary classical. You can download in a range of formats, including FLAC, and you can download your purchases again later if you need them on another PC or something.

NHS Digital booking website had unexpected side effect: It leaked people's jab status

H in The Hague Silver badge

Re: There is no UK vaccine booking website

The article states:

"The booking page, aimed at English NHS patients wanting to book ..."

I don't think it refers to "UK booking site".

Highways England seeks vendor to replace Windows 2003-based pavement management systems

H in The Hague Silver badge

"right to dump electric scooters wherever they want on pavements"

Different pavement. As far as HE is concerned pavement is what cars drive on. You are referring to what highway engineers call the 'footway'.

H in The Hague Silver badge

Re: pavement == road

"I'd guess the pavement <=> road thing is that the code either originalted in the US or was written by an American contractor."

No, that's standard British highway engineering terminology. The BSI Glossary of Building and Civil Engineering defines 'pavement' as 'Road, runway or similar structure above the subgrade'. I.e. it's the stuff you drive your car on, in the UK usually concrete or asphalt concrete (what used to be called tarmac).

And here, 'highway' is not the American word for motorway, but a 'Way over which the public has the right to pass. The right may be restricted to specific classes of traffic.'

Traffic lights, who needs 'em? Lucky Kentucky residents up in arms over first roundabout

H in The Hague Silver badge

"Clearly, you've never driven in Boston."

The original one, in the Parts of Holland (now Lincolnshire), or the new one, in Massachusetts?

NASA comes up with COVID-19 infection detector that's out of this world – E-Nose built from space station gear

H in The Hague Silver badge

What sensor?

It strikes me that the key question is what sensor they use. Algorithms, presentation on a smartphone or the like are all peripheral to that.


"The sensor array chips are swappable, and therefore can be updated with improved sensors as more is discovered about SARS-CoV-2's VOCs"

Which tells us exactly nothing about the sensor type.

The company's website is no more informative: https://variableinc.com/research-and-development.html

Their existing product range is spectrophotometers and colourimeters, an entirely different range of instruments.

Perhaps Vulture Central could contact them for more details.

Incidentally, a similar product is already available: https://www.breathomix.com/science-technology/ They provide marginally more details about their sensors on https://www.breathomix.com/spironose-2/ , but still not massively clear. But it's cloud-connected, so it must be good :)

Something went wrong but we won't tell you what it is. Now, would you like to take out a premium subscription?

H in The Hague Silver badge

Re: This topic should be mandatory reading for ALL developers

"Serif's Affinity team has a great one going"

Yup, and good, reasonably priced software too.

Now if only they developed a similarly priced alternative to Lightroom/Capture one.

God bless this mess: Study says UK's Christian beliefs had 'important' role in Brexit

H in The Hague Silver badge

Re: Great quote

"Protestant Germany"

Ermmm, not sure if that's correct. I _think_ that in Germany the cultures of the North and South, and religious allegiance, are quite different. Pretty sure the Catholic thing is still very significant in the South. But I stand ready to be corrected.

Pigeon fanciers in a flap over Brexit quarantine flock-up, seek exemption from EU laws

H in The Hague Silver badge

Re: Seriously?

"Where we got lucky was that the local biomedical community got together and presented the govt. with a fait accompli comprising the basics of a vaccination programme."

What might also help is that the UK has a national health service (actually, four of them). In many other countries (such as NL where I currently live) the health service is a network of much smaller, independent organisations - perhaps not the best structure to deal with something that requires coordination on all fronts.

UK government opens vaccine floodgates to over-45s, NHS website predictably falls over

H in The Hague Silver badge

Re: NHS England <> "The UK's National Health Service"

"... and the other nation's MPs still vote on devolved English issues."

Ah, the West Lothian Question.

This has largely been solved, I think, by the introduction of EVEL (English Votes for English Laws) in 2015:


I quote:

"The EVEL process is designed to ensure that legislation that affects only England, or England and Wales, is approved by a majority of MPs representing English constituencies, or English and Welsh constituencies."

Quality control, Soviet style: Here's another fine message you've gotten me into

H in The Hague Silver badge

Re: My dad had a Moskvich....

"The Russian tank needed a new wing bolting on and was good to go."

A few years after you I had a similar experience: a Beamer hit my Austin Maxi (I know it wasn't universally loved, but served me v well). Did a lot more damage to the prestige motor than it did to mine :)

Intel offers to produce car chips for automakers stalled by ongoing semiconductor supply drought

H in The Hague Silver badge

Re: Automotive qualified parts take a long to time

"If new_part_cost <= (old_part_cost - 50p) then bite supplier's arm off."


I used to have a steel industry customer which made very, very basic parts for a motor manufacturer. When they had quality problems, their customer didn't replace them - qualifying a new supplier for even these basic parts (which you could make in your shed) would have taken a year or so. Instead, they sent a team to the supplier to help them iron out their quality issues.

True, the automotive industry is very price sensitive, quality and reliability of supply are just as important.

Joint UK government procurement seeks supplier to support controversial Clean Air Zone system

H in The Hague Silver badge

Re: What's so controversial?

"diesel buses"

Here in The Hague, NL they changed over to Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) buses a few years ago to reduce emissions. I've noticed they're also rather quieter, can no longer hear them coming around the corner like I used to in the past. And there are some electric buses. All seem to be working rather well. (And a tram system, but that's only appropriate for larger cities.)

Airline software super-bug: Flight loads miscalculated because women using 'Miss' were treated as children

H in The Hague Silver badge

Re: Not necessarily.

"When was this? Australia's been metric for nearly 50 years"

Given the age of the friend who recounted this story: around 50 years ago.

H in The Hague Silver badge

Re: I am not a software engineer but...

"As the report says there was never any risk to the flight."

One of the main purposes of the AIIB reports is to communicate lessons learned so others can benefit from them. So an incident which in itself would not have led to an accident can still be highly relevant because in other circumstances the outcome might have been much more serious.

I haven't had time to read this report yet, but the lessons learned are likely to relate to software specification, software testing, management of change, and intercultural communications.

Here's one for the weekend.

H in The Hague Silver badge

Re: Not necessarily.

"I'm curious why a bush pilot in Aus would use pounds?"

This was a long time ago, probably in the period Australia was going metric.

And yes, aviation uses an 'interesting' mixture of units, even today.

H in The Hague Silver badge

Re: Not necessarily.

"I am a little mystified as to why modern commercial aircraft don't have wheel sensors providing at least some indication of total weight including baggage and fuel."

Those sensors would only give a reasonable indication if there is absolutely no wind. The minute you get any wind the wings will develop lift which will reduce the load on the wheels (while the mass of the plane remains constant), leading to an erroneous reading.

H in The Hague Silver badge

Re: Not necessarily.

".. but if they were all pro sumo wrestlers then the plane might not have ever left the ground!"

Almost happened to a friend of mine, years ago. She picked up a full load of passengers somewhere in Oceania and then had great difficulty taking off. Later when she walked through the cabin she realised they were the local rugby team - which explained everything. I also noticed in one of my aviation books that the average passenger weight for folk in this region was rather higher than elsewhere.

Another friend was a bush pilot in Australia. He landed at a mining site somewhere in the outback, told the local crew they could load the plane up with X pounds of ore samples and went to have lunch. He too had great difficulty taking off. Eventually he realised they'd loaded his plane up with X kilos of samples. After that he made quite sure he communicated the payload weight more clearly.

Have a safe flight.

Turns out humans are leading AI systems astray because we can't agree on labeling

H in The Hague Silver badge

Re: I think I see the problem

"You get what you pay for. GIGO!"


There's currently a project commissioning human translators to translate a fairly large amount of text, for use as input for a Machine Translation system. Not a bad idea, but there are some issues.

Offering 1/2 to 1/3 of the going rate probably doesn't help attracting competent translators. Asking the translators to provide two alternative translations isn't a bad idea. However, that fails when you have to translate the Dutch 'Het gras is groen' into English, as 'The grass is green' is essentially the only sensible translation. An alternative translation would simply add misleading input. Finally, all the sentences to be translated for this project are completely unconnected from each other. That's a major issue, as anyone who's done more than a day or two of translating will tell you that 'context is everything'.

Wi-Fi devices set to become object sensors by 2024 under planned 802.11bf standard

H in The Hague Silver badge

Re: Stalker's dream

"... it implies that a stalker who can somehow get access to a victim's Wi-Fi will be able to prove to their victim that they know exactly what they are doing all the time."

Possibly worse than that. If the wall between you and the neighbours is thinish your Wi-Fi system might be able to sense movement in their house. Esp. if you tinker with your system to boost its output.

UK prime minister Boris Johnson reluctant to reveal his involvement in the OneWeb deal

H in The Hague Silver badge

Re: Clueless

"However, how far to the right the consevatives have swung now the party is barely recognisable any more."

As someone who, on the whole, believes in the market economy I'm probably right of centre/conservative. But some of the policies of the Conservatives and Mr Johnson in particular do not strike me as right wing, e.g.: saying 'F*ck business', harming UK exports, esp, financial services which bring a lot of money in (needed to subsidise farmers), creating trade barriers. Not to mention walking out of your marriage to shack up with someone else. Quite different from the sensible conservatism of decades past.

"Populist nonsense ..."

That I fully agree with.

H in The Hague Silver badge

That is a gross insults to clowns!!

(Disclaimer: I used to know someone who did that professionally.)

Lord joins campaign urging UK government to reform ye olde Computer Misuse Act

H in The Hague Silver badge


Perhaps it's my age, but whenever I hear 'cyber', I think of 'cybernetics', a term which in the mists of my memory is firmly associated with the former Soviet Union. What's wrong with 'IT security'?

Don't be a fool, cover your tool: How IBM's mighty XT keyboard was felled by toxic atmosphere of the '80s

H in The Hague Silver badge

Re: Smoking

"I had a window seat over a wing and was startled to see the wings flapping!"

Yup, those smaller aircraft really bring you closer to the dynamics of flight :).

I used to get flights from Rotterdam to the UK on Shorts aircraft built in Northern Ireland. Basically a village bus (square fuselage) with wings bolted on to it. Always found the dotted lines painted around the doors, marked 'cut here' amusing. And the patches on the wings of what I assumed was duct tape but later learned is actually 'speed tape' (same thing, but more expensive).

H in The Hague Silver badge

Re: Smoking

"Speed limits are still in miles for some unfathomable reason - possibly because unbimetreable just sounds ridiculous."

In Ireland they changed the speed limits from mph to km/h in 2005. (Distance signs had been in km for much longer.) Initially caused some confusion as it wasn't always clear if a speed limit was in mph or km/h.

Chancellor launches £500m business software subsidy in the UK. What's 'approved' software then?

H in The Hague Silver badge

Government picking winners

Who is going to choose that "listed software"? Whenever another political party tried to support certain businesses or industries, the Conservatives would claim, not unreasonably, that "government should not try to pick winners".

Rookie's code couldn't have been so terrible that it made a supermarket spontaneously combust... right?

H in The Hague Silver badge

Re: Not just me then.

"We had an earthquake - and yes, this was in the UK."

There were some tourists in the Blue John Cavern in the Peak District at the time. After they got out they apparently described the experience as 'very interesting - preferably not to be repeated'.



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