* Posts by MichaelGordon

35 publicly visible posts • joined 20 May 2013

HP BIOS update renders some ProBook laptops expensive paperweights


HP have a history of this sort of thing. A few years ago an HP BIOS update bricked several hundred laptops across my employer's operations; the next few weeks saw constant presence of HP engineers on site replacing motherboards. I've also had an HP desktop brick itself after a BIOS update; that was fixed by disconnecting the BIOS battery and letting the machine sit for 10 minutes before reconnecting the battery.

What I've learned from this and other HP-related nonsense is to never, ever buy an HP computer for personal use and to recommend that friends who ask for advice don't either.

You want us to think of the children? Couldn't agree more


And when they do use their back door to read a suspect stream they'll find out the bad guys have been using the allowed encryption to send an encrypted version of an E2EE stream.

Palantir's CEO calls 'woke' a 'central risk to Palantir, America and the world'


Yet more evidence for the rule-of-thumb: Anyone who uses "woke" as a pejorative is likely to be a f**khead.

Valve vexation: Boeing's Starliner grounded again


How are Boeing getting to launch a crewed capsule at this point? I don't recall any tests of a crew-escape system or any of the other stuff that you'd expect before they put people on board. Given the capsule's history of faults before and during previous test flights, it really needs many more test launches before expecting a crew to risk their lives.

NASA's Psyche hits 25 Mbps from 140 million miles away – enough for Ultra HD Netflix


Even with the lasers they bounce off the retroreflectors on the moon, which is only 250,000 miles away, spreading of the beam is a serious problem. The figures I've seen estimate that one photon in 25 million sent will hit the reflector, and of those that hit the reflector only one in 250 million will make it back to the detectors on earth. The beam will have spread to around 1 mile across when it hits the moon.

Voyager 1 regains sanity after engineers patch around problematic memory


Given the age of the hardware it's probably not that susceptible to radiation, even if it's not specifically rad-hardened, but get beyond the heliosphere and you're likely to get hit by a few very high energy particles. It'd be interesting to know if that's what happened here or if it's just the hardware showing its age.

Torvalds intentionally complicates his use of indentation in Linux Kconfig


Re: Tab = four  

Given that "make" was created in 1976 and had to run on the machines of the day, I'll forgive it for not having a particularly flexible parser. There's an argument that modern versions shouldn't care what white space is used to indent recipes as long as something is, but that might break existing input; I haven't thought about this enough to be sure.

FTX crypto-crook Sam Bankman-Fried gets 25 years in prison


Re: This morning's local news

I could never figure out what the point of an NFT was - i.e. what could I, as the owner of an NFT for, say, an image, do with that image that someone who didn't own the NFT couldn't do.

Windows Format dialog waited decades for UI revamp that never came


> Let's make the scroll bars disappear

This is one of the many things that ensure I'll never use GNOME as my desktop. A scrollbar is a visual cue that there's more to a window than is currently visible; removing it just makes the interface more confusing and difficult to use for no good reason.

London Clinic probes claim staffer tried to peek at Princess Kate's records


There's a balance to be struck between restricting access and not delaying medically-necessary access to records. For example, if I'm in hospital and transferred from one ward to another I want the staff in the new ward to have access to my records immediately, not after some random delay while they wait for IT to set the permissions properly. I'd be happy with fairly open access and a periodic audit to check that everyone who's accessed the records is someone that I was in the care of. Obviously there are people and circumstances for which much tighter controls on access are needed.

Fedora 41's GNOME to go Wayland-only, says goodbye to X.org


Presumably there's going to be some sort of X compatibility layer so that all the commercial and other software that knows nothing about Wayland will be runnable? How will that layer work with this software's use of GLX for hardware acceleration? What about network transparency? We've got several pieces of software that are run remotely on CPU servers because they need more power than an average desktop machine can provide to do their thing but display their GUI on the user's local desktop.

Boeing paper trail goes cold over door plug blowout


Re: That one weird trick...

That's why whenever you remove a part you put it in a plastic bag and attach it on or near your work area so it can't get forgotten when putting things back together.

Venturing beyond the default OS on Raspberry Pi 5


Don't forget Slackware - https://arm.slackware.com/

It's that most wonderful time of the year when tech cannot handle the date


So much new code?

What I find interesting about this story is that it implies there's either a huge amount of new code out there that's never had to live through a February 29th, or a huge amount of code that didn't get fixed the last time this happened.

FAA gives SpaceX a bunch of homework to do before Starship flies again


Re: payload ?

It's not as if SpaceX have a history of going from exploding, crashing prototypes to a massively reliable system that takes a substantial percentage of the market for satellite launches ...

Alaska Airlines' door-dropping flight was missing bolts


Re: Major major cock-up

Take an piece of equipment apart and put it back together several times and you'll have enough parts left over to build a second one.

How TCP's congestion control saved the internet


Why OSI didn't take loff

A big reason why OSI never really got anywhere was that it was just far too big and complicated. Cut-down versions of some of its ideas, such as SNMP and LDAP, have seen widespread use, but the majority of the OSI stack died a well-deserved death, serving only as an example of what happens when you turn technical matters over to massive committees and their associated bureaucracy.

Big Brother is coming to a workplace near you, and the privacy regulator wants a word


Re: Dumb companies equate activity with productivity

Exactly. Monitoring, for example, lines of code produced will just result in a lot of incredibly verbose code. Fixing code to run twice as fast or be half the size of existing code will show up as zero or negative productivity and therefore never happen.

Human knocks down woman in hit-and-run. Then driverless Cruise car parks on top of her


Re: My first thought ...

The damages Christopher Jeffries got for this were nowhere near heavy enough to dissuade the newspapers from doing something like this again - only six figures in total apparently. The cost to the newspapers involved needed to be enough to hurt - 10% of annual turnover say.

I'll see your data loss and raise you a security policy violation


I know someone who keeps documents in GMail drafts. Occasionally they send one of the documents to someone, then copy it from Sent back into Drafts. I sometimes provide some unofficial IT support for them, but after having tried to explain why this is such a dreadful idea and suggesting several more reasonable ways of doing things to no avail I've simply had to refuse to provide any support for such a fundamentally misguided setup.

Voyager 2 found! Deep Space Network hears it chattering in space


Re: All alone in space

And probably around 30,000 years until it exits the far side of the Oort cloud. Voyager isn't heading towards Alpha Centuri, but if it were it would take about 70,000 years to get there.

Astronomers testing next-gen asteroid-hunting algorithm discover potentially hazardous object


Entirely possible that they'll miss something. 2023 NT1, for example, passed at 1/4 of the Moon's distance on July 13th, but wasn't spotted until July 15th. It wasn't that big - around 30 metres - but compared to, say, the Chelyabinsk meteor, which was around 18 metres, it was big enough to cause a very bad day locally if it had hit. Hopefully the new systems coming online soon will be better at spotting asteroids coming in from near the Sun's direction.

Slackware wasn't the first Linux distro, but it's the oldest still alive and kicking


Re: Thanks for the memories

I like LILO as well - it's much simpler than GRUB and can load the kernel/initrd from any filesystem as it uses disk blocks to find them, compared to GRUB requirement for them to be on a filesystem type it understands.The only drawback of using disk blocks is that you have to remember to rerun it after a kernel update as the new kernel is almost certainly not going to be on the same blocks as the old one.


Re: Happy Birthday (Happy Birthday-yay-yay)

Exactly. I've tried many other Linux distributions through work and other sources, but all my personal machines are Slackware and have been since Slackware's early days. Slackware just gives me far, far fewer "What the hell were they thinking?" moments than any other distro I've used, and avoids the layer and layers of crap between me and what's actually going on that other distros seem so keen on. Take networking for example: on Slackware I edit /etc/rc.d/rc.inet1.conf and either fill in the IP addrfess, gateway, etc. or set USE_DHCP. That's it; no netplan configuration that gets handed to NetworkManager or systemd-networkd, no multiple layers of scripts, etc. The fact that Slackware hasn't been infected with systemd is a very nice feature as well.

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


Layout still needs some major work. For example, if I view the page with the web browser window at my preferred width I only get one story per line when more would clearly fit. This is demonstrated by the fact that if I make the browser window roughly 1/3 wider than my preferred size I get 4 stories per row. Other than that I don't think there's anything major that can't be fixed with a few CSS overrides to move/resize/hide a few things.

As Tesla hits speed bump after speed bump, Elon Musk loses his mind in anti-media rant


Re: unexpected honesty

It's really odd, that kind of remark often comes up. Can one point me to some specific date for that mythical Golden Age when people did in fact respect journalists more than now?

True - the phrase "yellow journalism" was coined in the 1890s to describe the sensationalisation of news.

You love Systemd – you just don't know it yet, wink Red Hat bods


Re: suggestion for the pillock

He really is the Thomas Midgley Jr of Linux.

Google blows $1.1bn to hire HTC's Pixel people, forming one big happy handset team


Re: About time!

I've got the original Moto-G and would update to a newer model but they don't have a notification LED, which is an absolute deal-breaker.

Opera Jon's sparkling Vivaldi proves the browser isn't dead


Re: UI still needs important work

The killer problem for me, as was the case in the version I tried a while back, is that there's still no way to get the tabs to behave the way I want. When I close a tab it should select the tab to the right if there is one, or the tab to the left if there isn't one to the right. The reason for this is that my heaviest use of tabs is when reading The Register, BBC News etc. - control-click on everything on the home page that sounds interesting to open them in a new tab, then move to the first tab to start reading. Closing a tab/story should then take me to the next story, not back to the home page.

Other things such as the lack of a proper menu bar, putting basic items such as "New Tab" into a sub-menu rather than being at the top level, and overriding my preferred window manager with its own title bar that provides substantially less functionality, are annoying but can at least be switched off. Having said that, I've had Vivaldi pop itself to the front of the stacking order for no readily apparent reason a few times, so it looks like switching to a native window doesn't quite turn off all the stupid.

All in all, not even close to tempting me away from Palemoon.

Mozilla to boot all plugins from Firefox … except Flash


Re: Pale Moon?

For me, the Australis mess was the final straw that pushed me to use Palemoon exclusively. Fortunately the Palemoon developers haven't gone insane and have stated that they'll continue to support NPAPI no matter what Firefox does.

While it would be nice if everyone switched to HTML5 video, there are going to be sites with <embed src="foo.avi"> for many years to come. On Linux the MPlayer plugin (or VLC) is the only reasonable way of handling these pages, making a browser in which it doesn't work a complete non-starter.

Github's 'Atom' text editor hits version 1.0


Re: Not impressed

Not managed to lock it up on file loading yet, but any attempt to bring up the help starts firefox and locks the entire UI until firefox exits or you kill it from the "not responding" dialog.

It appears that their 1.0 release hasn't had even the most basic testing.


I wouldn't bother

I looked at this a couple of days ago at the request of one of our users and gave up in disgust. What claims to be "build from source" isn't - it downloads shared objects that seem to have been compiled on a reasonably recent Ubuntu and won't work on our SL6 boxes; the binary distributions have the same shared objects in and are therefore just as useless to us. It's also impossible to run the build as any user other than root; if you try it fails because it can't chown files it's created in a .atom directory in the home directory of the user that's running the build. No idea why it thinks it needs to chown files it's just created. The build process is some insanely complicate javascript nightmare that I wouldn't know where to start with fixing the problems.

Update: I've managed to build it on an SL7 test box. Maybe it's because I'm running it on a remote machine with the display on my local X server, but it's very slow. XEmacs does similar syntax highlighting/indentation/etc. and it isn't anywhere near as slow with a remote display though.

Opera Jon weaves a brand new browser


Tab handling makes it almost unusable

Is there any way to click on a link and have it open in the background? One of the main things I use tabs for is on sites like The Register, BBC News etc. where I Control-click on headlines I want to read, then look through the resulting tabs; being taken to the new tab immediately and having to go back to the main page to select another story is irritating enough to ensure I won't use their browser. Another feature that's important for the way I work is that the browser shows the tab next to the one I was reading if I close a tab, either to the right if there is one or to the left otherwise; going back to the first tab on tab-close is another annoyance big enough to drive me away.

Quantum teleportation gets reliable at Delft


Re: Einstein is fine - nothing to see here.

Your "shoe" example is a hidden variable theory. Unfortunately it's been proven that no local hidden variable theory can reproduce all the observed features of quantum mechanics. To make hidden variable theories work you need to accept either FTL communication between the particles or communication which travels back in time along the past light cone of the particle.

Hold our tiny silicon spheres, say gravity wave detection scientists


There's no direct evidence of gravitational waves, but see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hulse-Taylor_binary - the rate of orbital decay matches that predicted for gravitational waves almost exactly.