* Posts by phy445

85 posts • joined 29 Apr 2013

Page:

Nothing's working, and I've checked everything, so it must be YOUR fault

phy445
Coat

Bit of a twist to the ending

See title

Boffins use nuclear radiation to send data wirelessly

phy445

Re: Can't help feeling

I think you are a little off-beam. The neutrons are only generated when a pulse is applied to the system. That is different to opening/closing a shutter blocking a continuous source.

Trojan Source attack: Code that says one thing to humans tells your compiler something very different, warn academics

phy445

C/P from PDFs can be interesting...

On a data analysis course I teach on, we had several students that copy/pasted example python code from the notes to find that it would not run. It looked OK and the original code had been checked so it was a bit of a mystery.

It turned out that typing over the problem lines with seemingly identical text made the problems go away. My conclusion was that the PDF rendering had (presumably unicode) characters that pyCharm (students' development environment of choice) did not display but the python system could see and took exception too.

I would drive 100 miles and I would drive 100 more just to be the man that drove 200 miles to... hit the enter key

phy445

Re the dig at the security bods

Those security people were just doing their job. Imagine hosting servers for multiple companies on a system and allowing anyone with admin access for one company's server unmonitored access to all the servers...

43 years and 14 billion miles later, Voyager 1 still crunching data to reveal secrets of the interstellar medium

phy445
Coat

Re: I hope it lasts until it meets Bender

Good, but surely this one is more relevant? https://youtu.be/dQw4w9WgXcQ?t=42

Boffins stumble upon method to make silicon control lasers

phy445

Nice work

Nice work, it brings back memories from my PhD days–different materials similar applications. At a quick glance it does look as though the system looked at could be useful for ultrafast optical switching and/or optical computing. It will interesting to see if/how this develops.

Minor niggle on the reporting: it is not apathy that has prevented the production of silicon lasers, LEDs etc. Rather it is the laws of physics – insert Star Trek quote here...–Silicon is an indirect band gap material and it will always be terrible (effectively useless) at emitting light.

Forget GameStop: Keyboard warriors and electronic trading have never mixed well

phy445

The illusion of real time

A good example of how we delude ourselves that we work in real time. In reality the brain issues commands via the nervous system and although we think we move in instantaneous response to said commands the reality is that it takes time for these things to happen and once the commands are issued it is hard to stop them. We rarely come up against this view of "reality" being tested.

What I find really remarkable is that the illusion is so complete we can compensate for it near instantaneously and work out how to catch a ball, or play music together etc

The good optics of silicon photonics: Light sailing serenely down a fibre

phy445

Geeks discussion point

Is the point about PCs being successful because geeks got into them first and the world followed correct?

To my mind PCs form part of the office automation process: pre WWII there were electromechanical adder-upper beasts, then main frames came along, then smaller office computers, and finally we got to the PC which put a computer on a desk.

I can see that there is some case to be made based on the development of the microprocessor based home computers which were uber-geeky in the mid seventies, and may have helped drive expectations, but I contend it is the office automation process that is the important factor. Geeks or no geeks we would have had a variation on the PC.

Discuss...

You can drive a car with your feet, you can operate a sewing machine with your feet. Same goes for computers obviously

phy445

Sinclair mouse would have worked

IIRC Sinclair had a plan for a "mouse" that was essentially a joystick without a stick. It had a pad that you tilted to move the pointer. I don't think it ever went into production for some reason...

Boffins store text message inside E coli bacteria using electromagnetic signal – and you'll never guess what it says

phy445

Not what I'd write...

Given I'm from the generation that took great joy from getting the ZX Spectrums, Acorn Electrons, (even a Jupiter Ace), in WH Smiths* to write something rude on an infinite loop then "Hello world" is not what I would have written into that DNA.

*other clueless vendors of computers are available

Cats: Not a fan favourite when the critters are draped around an office packed with tech

phy445

No cats but...

In my unofficial IT "expert" role I was once asked to look at the computer of a friend of the Significant Other – said computer was running very slowly and randomly restarting. I expected it to be full of dodgy DLLs and the like and to have to have a discrete word about browsing habits with the hubby of said friend. Instead it turned out that the computer which was kept on the floor had sucked in so many carpet fibres that the components on the motherboard weren't even visible.

Apple's M1: the fastest and bestest ever silicon = revolution? Nah, there's far more interesting stuff happening in tech that matters to everyone

phy445

The games console model

Isn't what Apple are doing essentially the same as Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo do with their games consoles? A lot of people like this approach – a machine you can just turn on and it does pretty much what you expect and you will probably want to upgrade to a new model every 3-5 years. Come to think of it, that sounds like most consumer products from cookers through to large format TVs. Its almost as though Apple want to appeal to consumers...

DeepMind's latest protein-solving AI AlphaFold a step closer to cracking biology's 50-year conundrum

phy445

Nice, but the problem still stands

This is nice work, it gives useable results in a few days rather than a few decades - which is super, but it doesn't really solve the protein folding problem. Its a black box that gives a pretty good stab at structure of the proteins.

What biophysics has been trying to work out it how do the proteins fold so quickly (and so reliably)? They form those structures that have been splashed all over the articles on this system way to fast – this is the protein folding problem. Solve this and you will be the next Watson and Crick (hopefully without all the racism, etc.).

Who knew that hosing a table with copious amounts of cubic metres would trip adult filters?

phy445

Nearly got away with it

I once got sign off for a website with the grand title: Polymer Engineering Near Interfaces & Surfaces

The only thing that stymied me was that the IT team who set these things up used a site’s initials for the home folder name on their system...

Big IQ play from IT outsourcer: Can't create batch files if you can't save files. Of any kind

phy445

Couldn't happen now?

I'd like to think that HMG had learned from issues like this over the years. This weekend's IT 'glitch' hints at this not been the case

The power of Bill compels you: A server room possessed by a Microsoft-hating, Linux-loving Demon

phy445

Windows boot power draw?

So Windows takes more power to boot than Linux? Why is this?

Genuine question.

Steve Wozniak at 70: Here's to the bloke behind Apple who wasn't a complete... turtleneck

phy445

Re: What people remember you for...

Time will tell.

Whilst Jobs bashing is fun, he probably should get credit for pushing to bring to market things that we all now take for granted:

WIMP interfaces – not invented by Apple, but they got it right enough to transform the computer experience

Intuitive touch interfaces (even my aged parents can work their phones)

Glass screens with capacitive sensors rather than plastic ones that need a sharp stylus that is so sharp it scratches the screen.

WiFi as standard (and USB and bluetooth in computers which worked most of the time – I'm still scarred by the trauma of using USB devices with NT4)

The iPod – Apple didn't invent the MP3 player, but their implementation transformed the market.

...

Now, there's a bunch of stuff that Jobs got wrong:

Lisa disk interface

Killing off the PowerMac clones

That iMac mouse

G4 Cube

Ping

...

If the Solar System's 'Planet Nine' is actually a small black hole, here's how we could detect it... wait, what?

phy445

Indeed, but El Reg appears to have misread* the paper that speculates that it might be a black hole. That paper discusses Primordal Black Holes which are very different beast to those formed by collapsing stars and the mass is in the same range as that of the speculated Planet 9.

* I know there's a way to report this, but I can't remember what this is

Ooo, a mystery bit of script! Seems legit. Let's see what happens when we run it

phy445

Not a script but...

A long, long time ago in an East London outpost of the University of London I took a Fortran 77 module (course). The computers used were BBC Micros with 32 bit coprocessor attached via the Tube (interface, not the mass transport system or TV show). It ran a multiuser system with some sort of per user access privileges. One day I noticed that someone who should have know better had left without logging out–or rebooting, which was the quicker option in those days of ROM based OS's. I couldn't resist "playing" with the higher access privileges...after a bit of tinkering I discovered "add student" did what you might expect and a couple of "test" users with mature, innuendo free, names such as Ivor Biggun were added. At the end of the session I decided to undo my actions and tried "delete student" unfortunately it turned out that this deleted the login credentials of students. Queue swift exit...

'We're changing shift, and no one can log on!' It was at this moment our hero knew server-lugging chap had screwed up

phy445

Not so much a "Who, me?" as a "Who, you?"

See title

Elevating cost-cutting to a whole new level with million-dollar bar bills

phy445

Re: Cars of the day... with good old steel bumpers and side panels

Yes, but in those days a lot more people were killed / seriously injured in car accidents. Those crumpling effects are deliberate – they take a lot of energy out of the collisions. For an IT angle they take a lot of computer power to work out how to do.

Disk stuck in the drive? Don't dilly-Dali – get IT on the case!

phy445

At the higher education where I spent the early nineties nearly all of the Macs (SE/30s and the like) had neat craters a couple of centimetres in diameter burnt into their tops. It took me a while to realise that these were not some eccentric security marking - rather they were caused by angle-poise lamps sagging down so that the hot bulbs touched the cases of the computers...

Hey, fatso. If you're standing desk-curious, the VariDesk Pro Plus won't break the bank

phy445

Had one and hated it

I had one of those for a while – the main issue for me was that even light typing would cause a slight wobble of the monitor and it was just too distracting. I stuck with it for a couple of months but could not get used to it. In the the end I spent about £500 on a standing desk with a motor to do the lifting. This is much better – some colleagues have a manual raise version, but they struggle with the raising unless the weight is evenly distributed on the desk.

The advice on getting a standing mat is good. Until you are used to it, even standing on a carpeted floor is hard work.

Tearoff of Nottingham: University to lose chunk of IT dept to outsourcing

phy445
Facepalm

What could possibly go wrong?

Reaches for pop-corn...

Our hero returns home £500 richer thanks to senior dev's appalling security hygiene

phy445

Low quality coding

I had to write some quick and dirty, single use (after debugging), code that needed login credentials recently – I couldn't bring myself to hardwire in said credentials. You have to wonder what other corners were cut and whether poor quality code contributed to the downfall of the company...

The best way to screw the competition? Do what they can't, in a fraction of the time

phy445

10Base5

The first (and I think last) time I came across 10Base5 cable (the 0.5 inch coax) was in the mid-90's at a university that had committed to 10Base2 (the thin coax). In one physics lab a networked computer needed to be installed at the other side of the room from the 10B2 port and the total length of that 10B2 line was at the limit of the specification. The solution was a 10B2 to 10B5 converter then about 5m of the over-size coax to the AUI port on the computer.

Shortly after I arrived we rearranged the lab so the the computer was next to the 10B2 junction, but we had to carefully coil the thick coax as there was a multi-month lead time on cable changes. Not too much later 10BT came in and all was well with the world.

With sorry Soyuz stuffed, who's going to run NASA's space station taxi service now?

phy445
Pint

+1 for heating due to compressing gas.

Good to see the right explanation for a change–not all university courses, let alone option pieces get it right.

The Register's 2018 homepage redesign: What's going on now?

phy445

Desktop front-page should be three stories wide

The front page view appears to default to being four stories/boxes wide. I think this is slightly too wide to take in at one glance–especially if you prefer larger typeface sizes. Its a bit like the wide margins in LaTeX documents are disconcerting to someone used to Word documents, but once you get used to it, it is easier(quicker) to read as the eyes do not have to move back and forth as much.

The tech you're reading these words on – you have two Dundee uni boffins to thank for that

phy445

Re: TFT patent?

Prior art. There were plenty of TFT papers published in the sixties.

The real breakthrough with this work was getting the amorphous silicon to perform well enough. The older TFT designs used materials like Cadmium Selenide as the semiconductor.

Sysadmin’s worst client was … his mother! Until his sister called for help

phy445

Re: Retro computing...

Given that venerable means worthy of respect, I'm guessing that you missed the <irony></irony> tags off your post.

I seem to recall the plus 4 was often referred to as the minus 60...

We sent a vulture to find the relaunched Atari box – and all he got was this lousy baseball cap

phy445

Reliable Atari

It’s good to know the Atari brand has retained its air of incompetence that characterised it’s fall from grace in previous incarnations.

Office junior had one job: Tearing perforated bits off tractor-feed dot matrix printer paper

phy445

Re: My foreign body story

When I worked at certain UK academic institution – which had probably better remain nameless, but it is in a city that fancies that its northern (but isn't really) and there is currently a bit of an issue with trees – there was a cupboard full of those cards. The technicians used to like them because they fitted nicely in lab-coat and overall pockets and were just the thing to jot down measurements etc on.

SurfaceBook 2 battery drains even when plugged in

phy445

Re: Remember back when Apple did the same thing?

I don't recall their power supplies failing to deliver enough juice. I do recall that the wiring in some of the connectors would eventually fail due to the strain generated when unplugging them. I don't think that is the same magnitude of problem as this one.

Full disclosure: I have multiple laptops at home, both Apple and several Wintel variants. In the last ten years one Apple power supply has gone TITSUP, I've lost track of the number of repairs and replacements for the windows machines' power bricks (the ThinkPad being the worst).

Microsoft says Win 8/10's weak randomisation is 'working as intended'

phy445

Nothing to do with article but...

The google ad in the right hand column where there is usually some IT related ad or a link to a wallet that will change my life currently shows a lady in a swim suit and is mildly distracting. Is this a side effect of blocking cross-site tracking or google's AI mocking me in some way?

The NAKED truth: Why flashing us your nude pics is a good idea – by Facebook's safety boss

phy445

Re: Why does FB have to do the hashing?

If that is the argument then I don't think it is correct.

An app that creates the hash then sends it in encrypted form to FB etc. would stop miscreants playing with the hash in the way described. Besides, as many comments have pointed out it doesn't take much to change a photo so that the hash has changed sufficiently.

phy445

Why does FB have to do the hashing?

I agree with the comments about the hashing being easy to get round, however the process is a step in right direction.

What I can't see is why the hashing has to be done by FB. Surely someone can create an App the creates the PhotoDNA hashes and uploads those to the system? Of course a checking or appeal mechanism will still be required, but there is no need to "trust" your images to FB, Google, MS, etc.

F-35s grounded by spares shortage

phy445

Re: About the proportion that are grounded

Pedant

phy445

About the proportion that are grounded

From the report "That 22 per cent represents only the average number of aircraft grounded by a lack of spares, so the total proportion of the fleet that can't fly at any given time is almost certainly higher."

<pedentic>

I'm pretty sure that by definition there is only a fifty-fifty chance the actual proportion that can't fly is higher than 22%.

</pedantic>

ps why aren't the comments rendering the <pendantic> html?

Snopes.com asks for bailout amid dispute over who runs the site and collects ad dollars

phy445

Fact checked?

Is this true? Has anybody checked on Snopes? Oh wait...

CERN ready to test an even bigger gun

phy445

Attempt at pedant of the day award

Its linac not lineac.

phy445

Start material

I'm pretty sure both linac 2 & 4 start with neutral hydrogen as the input. The first stage in linac 4 converts the hydrogen into h- ions. The equivalent step in linac 2 strips the electrons away to yield protons. The former is a slightly more complicated process and warrants its own block in diagrams of the system.

Murder in space: NASA orders astronauts to KILL cripples – then fire bodies back to Earth

phy445

+1 for adiabatic heating

Well done to El Reg for stating that the re-entry heat is generated by compressing the air ahead of the capsule rather than friction as is so often stated in articles on space travel/science.

President Trump tweets from insecure Android, security boffins roll eyes

phy445

Re: Trump doesn't tweet

Did you read the story?

"The angry late-night tweets came from an Android phone, leading data analysts to conclude that they came from Trump himself. "

Stallman's Free Software Foundation says we need a free phone OS

phy445

Re: Sadly yes

Because VLMC exists?

Now that's a Blue Screen of Death: Windows 10 told me to jump off a cliff

phy445

Pedantic geography point

The Cliffs of Moher are somewhat to the south of Galway Bay making the leap even bigger than implied by the story.

Autocomplete a novel phishing hole for Chrome, Safari crims

phy445

Is this story from the guardian?

"...enetered, but was still suspetible."

Pro who killed Apple's Power Mac found... masquerading as a coffee table

phy445

tougher than it looks

IIRC the motherboard in the Mac Pro is a weird size and you struggle to get a PC in there (that lines up with the slots on the back etc). Also, in a move completely out of character for Apple, the PSU block in those beasts is nearly, but not quite, standard. So you will have to find a way round that as well.

Apple assumes you'll toss the Watch after three years

phy445

Use vs last

I realise that the headline wouldn't be so eye catching, but doesn't that quote from Apple's document actually say that they expect first owners to use/keep their devices for three years, implying that they may well then go into the second hand market?

Not sure why, but the second hand market for Apple products is incredibly strong.

Three to chop off £3bn of its network in bid to woo EU over O2 merger

phy445

That pledge on prices...

They may not be putting up prices after the merger, but they have just tried to increase my bill by just shy of 40% by dropping the deal I was on.

Needless to say I went to the inter-webs, found a deal that gave more data for the old price, and dumped Three.

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