* Posts by Bob Hannent

31 publicly visible posts • joined 19 Jan 2007

Kaspersky: Maxtor markets password-pilfering Dutch disk drives

Bob Hannent

Never heard

Hearing the statement "I have never heard of a virus that lives in the master boot record" made me worry about several things:

1) Am I really that old that I remember something an 'industry professional' doesn't?

2) Is someone at Seagate really that lacking in knowledge?

3) Is this article reporting their words correctly?

Who knows, but I am worried none the less.

Mac, Linux BBC iPlayers in the offing, says PM

Bob Hannent

Re: Free standards

>Chris McGinlay

One of the arguments against Ogg Vorbis is generally that there would need to be support natively in Windows Media Player for it. However this argument hardly holds up these days, especially when you consider the fact that users have to download Real and other systems to use many streams. One of the many justifications for using commercial software is that support for encoding is often stronger, it has been possible to buy hardware encoders for commercial formats for sometime.

As for media rights, media itself is in no way free, because people who create it deserve what they get. Working in the media industry is very hard for a great many people. I admit that I have worked in broadcasting for many years and I now get paid well, but luckly I am an engineer and not a 'fluffy' as they may affectionately be called (no, nothing to do with fluffers).

I do however agree that once you have the right to download something for your personal use (either by licence fee or by commercial payment) then you should have the right to do as you wish. I have worked for many years on an idea for platform independent DRM but never found an effective way of implementing my ideas.


Bob Hannent


How many people here know how much the licences for MPEG2 players cost? How much does MPEG4 cost? Until recently even the humble CRT display had a royalty! Life isn't free, the manufacturers just pass on the cost of licensing into retail cost. Plus with many codecs available on the internet the correct licences aren't being paid at all and that is why they are free? Is this right? You might well say free access but what about the person who came up with that idea? Where is there reward?

Media content is constantly surrounded by rights because of the efforts that people have to go to in order to produce it.

The BBC won't ignore the Mac community because many high earners have Macs, it is a driving force that at board level many influential people own Macs. They will likely bow to the market and produce a Linux version, but the Linux platforms themselves are so varied that supporting the technology would be a great effort for them to provide a good service.

Using Kontiki doesn't make it easier, but then again that was technology that came out of noble origins.

Novell fills Microsoft Silverlight hole

Bob Hannent

Flash.... arrrr

The big advantage that MS will doubtless have over Flash is that they have published the spec (WPF+XAML), and however closed we think it might be the Mono project guys turned this project around very quickly because they didn't have to reverse engineer some secret code (which has happened frequently elsewhere). It would have been nice if MS had done this itself, but it's even better that Mono did it, because that way it is much more public domain.

Flash is actually very expensive to integrate on a large scale, so Silverlight/Moonlight could be much better priced and dominate that way.

Well done everyone, Miguel, Novell and MS all.

PS. Hopefully Silverlight won't rape te processor like Flash does on my old laptop.

Oono Transmita Vii wireless music system

Bob Hannent


Then how come Senheisser sell wireless headphones? Seems like the same technology without the headset.


Microsoft sent FCC defective wireless prototype

Bob Hannent

white spaces

Definitely guard bands.. I think the process is called 'local interleaving in guard band', but that is longer than "white spaces".

Pipex invites customer to get 'c**ted'

Bob Hannent

Speaking of Countdown

I was on the continent recently and flicking through the television I saw the French version of Countdown and obviously the producers didn't see it but I sniggered at something very obscene which had been picked at random by the contestants. I forget the string, but I do remember laughing and no one else in the room getting it (I was the only native English speaker in the room).

I managed to avoid explaining it.

The IBM ThinkPad: 15 years old today

Bob Hannent

Thinkpad - Yay

I joined a new company recently and was actually asked what laptop I would like to have. I debated for a bit, I was told I couldn't spend too much money and so my first choice of a Toshiba Tablet hybrid was out of the window. So I opted for the safe option, the Volvo of laptops, an IBM Thinkpad. I have an R61 and having replaced Vista with XP I couldn't be happier! It does everything I want in double quick time. It is tough looking and I have no doubt on business trips it will prove it's value. It has already rescued a vendor who visited and his laptop wouldn't output to the display in our meeting room. It is also the envy of my colleagues, which is of course, most important.

German bus driver objects to passenger's breasts

Bob Hannent

Prospective boobs

Well, luckly I was sent the story yesterday from another site and it did not contain a picture either, so a little searching and I found at least one pair that claim to be related:


Tis a fair pair.

Man uses tank in phone mast flattening rampage

Bob Hannent

RE: 'Easy' target...

The frequency of mobile phone transmissions is typically much higher than that of TV transmissions and significantly higher than that of conventional FM radio. Some have claimed that at certain wavelengths the human body will act like an antenna near a transmitter and induct more energy than it would at any other frequency. However mobile phone masts are actually not very high power in comparison to many other energy sources we expose ourselves to each day and because of the effects of the inverse square law the power exposure drops off substantially over distance.

I worked as a senior microwave communications engineer at significantly high powers and once or twice I was accidentally exposed to moderately high levels of radiation, but this is non-ionising radiation. Non-ionising radiation does not have the energy levels required to displace electrons in DNA and thus cause cancers. I also have worked with an engineer who was involved in early tests of radar and was able to describe the agony of high-power radiation burns, he is however still alive and well.

I have read about a study by a Greek PhD student who discovered that the formation of neural collagen in rodents was found to have a different structure as a result of exposure to mobile-type signals. However no implications could be drawn from that.

All in people will focus on anything they can these days. If it's not mobile phones its wifi...

YouTube uber-Daddy of online vid sites

Bob Hannent

Growth yes... but what about the first question?

Where is the business model!?

Quick-charging electric cars could be round the corner

Bob Hannent

Charging capacitance

I was thinking about this huge current demand, instantly charging is going to create a problem, obviously presenting a 2500Amp demand on the network isn't very efficient. But I was thinking, you could easily keep a spare set of batteries at home, not swap them out but use them with a trickle charge to store the required charge and then when you plug in you dump the charge from one to the other. The same could apply to using an array of "supercaps" as well.

Storing this much potential would be bulky and need to be done safely, but it removes the worry about how to get that much charge in to the home. Also the same could apply to petrol stations, they could be fed with 500kW three phase feeders and then underground supercaps could be used to regulate the demand. No more dangerous and polluting than the current way petrol stations are built.


Computer crash causes bad attitude on ISS

Bob Hannent

I found the fault...

Vladimir, I found the fault:



Louisiana town outlaws 'sagging pants'

Bob Hannent

Th disadvantage of Whale Tails

I have long held the view that somethings deserve to be hidden. The reason for my enthusiasm about the removal of the whale tail is that when travelling on escalators (notably the London Underground) for every fine beautiful 'show piece' arse that I have been privileged to be exposed to, I have seen half-a-dozen that scare the b-jeezes out of me. So, I and many former colleagues both male and female (who had a very controversial discussion on the intranet) have come to the conclusion that exposed underwear is too much of a risk and we would sacrifice the few to save the many.


Siemens shows 1Gbit/s over plastic fibre

Bob Hannent

QAM? 256?

I know you are presenting a simplified version, but please, you've made a rather sweeping statement by saying that QAM has 256 levels. Quadrature Amplitude Modulation can have as many amplitude/phase states in its constellation as is desired to balance phase noise vs data rate.


QAM is just a generalised description of a series of methods for modulation of data to analogue signals.


Toshiba, Canon delay SED TV debut - again

Bob Hannent



LCD displays just don't cut it professionally, that is why Toshiba announced that initially SED would only be available to broadcasters. LCD's colour reproduction is poor, the response time is not great and it is based on the idea of blocking light not emitting light. Most of the 'enhanced' contrast LCD displays just dim the backlight in response to a darker picture, and this is not satisfactory. SED at the moment seems like the answer to the prayers of professional people who need true video reproduction. Considering no one is making 'Grade 1' broadcast CRTs any more the broadcast market needs SED as a replacement, because no LCD truely meets the mark.

Xoro HSD 7510 DVD player-equipped LCD TV

Bob Hannent


It looks well thought out and fully featured.

If it were just 30% cheaper I would have one, but I don't have kids and I don't travel enough to warrant one.


Free BBC HD satellite TV service given green light

Bob Hannent


"Dubbed Freesat - the same name, incidentally, as Sky's free package - the service is set to go live in Spring 2008."

This 'coincidence' is in fact not so much of a coincidence, the BBC actually owns the trade mark for Freesat (has done for some time) and the Sky service is called "Freesat From Sky", wisely neither party has interfered with the other, because both benefit from each others marketing efforts.


For a while I was responsible for most of the transmission of BBC services over satellite, the transmissions are over 99.99% reliable and from a consumer point of view the reception in the UK is intended to be 99.97% at worst case. If you are getting a service worse than this then you need to look at your installation.

Those people who are in the far extremities of the UK, however, are advised to have a larger dish to maintain quality of reception. There is no conspiracy to con people with the satellite transmissions, they are formed to the highest standards by a group of highly experienced and skilled engineers. They are proud that most months they are able to report reliability figures of 100%.

On the other side, there are occasions when reception will fail, it is in the lap of the gods as to the environment and as these are microwave transmissions of a small fraction of a Watt coming from space. The clouds will absorb this and there is nothing we in the industry can do about that.

It is a shame there is a monopoly on DTH services in the UK for satellite, but the world is changing fast.


Japanese actress caught in sheep 'poodle' scam

Bob Hannent

Fact checking.

El Reg, you aren't just supposed to republish stories you read about. Journalism requires that you actually check your facts at the source and the users aren't supposed to have to do that for you!

Dark mutterings on killer Wi-Fi in schools help no one

Bob Hannent

Yet more worry making!

Yet another attempt by the worried masses to find something to get hept up about. I work in an institution which has the pleasure of having probably the most dense coverage of any wireless network in an academic institution. I can only name one room where I can't get access now, but that's a very obscure room in itself.

I also happen to have worked in microwave communications for many years and have had the pleasure of being exposed to the maximum prescribed dosage of non-ionising radiation for a non-certified worker. Of course I can say "never did me any harm" because that was three years ago and with the nature of non-ionising radiation I would have to be dead by now or nothing.

I've also spent a substantial sum of money to organise a training course on the subject with the Health Protection Agency. I admit without a PhD in biophysics I am slightly disadvantaged, but it was all clearly explained to me and I understand the science of non-ionising radiation. I also was able to meet with a Greek scientist who studied the effects of close contact with Gaussian RF energy in mice, who after many years determined that he could find no threat only that there was a difference in collagen in female mice with high exposure.

I've measured my mobile with very expensive apparatus and accordingly in a poor reception area I would need 6 hours of continuous usage to reach the maximum safe limits. WiFi power is very small compared to the power that those of us who have worked in the RF industry are exposed to and I think that we would have noticed if there had been any correlation.

I have also met a short Hungarian man who once helped test radar systems by holding a florescent bulb up in a field to see if it lit. He said non-ionising radiation burns hurt in a very painful and unusual way, but he's in his 50s now and is healthy.

After all, a specialist workforce, working for more than the past 30 years has been variously exposed and no one has noticed anything with them.

Societies ills cannot be blamed on technology so easily:

"Guns don't kill people, people kill people, and monkeys do too (if they have a gun)." - Eddie Izzard

Russians crack OpenOffice security

Bob Hannent

Open security


Your last sentence seems to advocate security by obscurity, which has long been known to be a flawed method. Hiding the method does not make the information more secure, just less likely that someone will find a flaw. Finding flaws in a security system is a good thing in the long run, because there is the option to improve.


Midlands police cuff war driving duo

Bob Hannent

With the right judge this should be challenged.

The fact is that your WiFi is broadcasting what is effectively an invitation to connect. If you don't restrict your wifi connections it is literally asking to be used (not figuratively, literally). As for the argument about the theft of bandwidth, what about those people who want to share their connection. What about when I leave my wifi open and then just secure my local machines? As it happens I have security on because I don't trust the machines entirely.

Previously I was without broadband while they got their act together and I have piggy-backed a connection or two to check my mails. But as long as you don't go browsing what is not yours to browse then there should be no issue.

Lets take the legality back to the tap in the street. If you have a tap out on the street you expect that at some point someone might use it. If you are worried about that then put a padlock on it, if you aren't they let the public feed at will.

Very few wireless routers don't come with security guidance on them now, so it's no great trouble to use it.

Adobe talks up next media player

Bob Hannent

I wonder...

Will this media player also suck 100% of my processor power just to play some stupid animation that isn't really productive like Flash does?

Router technology creeps into the space age

Bob Hannent

Re: WiMax in space

Last time I looked WiMax didn't have doppler-shift compensation. In fact WiMax I remember reading that there was/is a separate standard for mobile WiMax and I bet that doesn't compensate enough.

The IT community constantly believes that it invented the wheel, when in fact the technologies used in computing often are derived from scientific advances.

This story is interesting because it shows the potential of putting more processing in orbit than was previously possible because of the extreme environment.

Masturbating woman shakes Michigan Uni frat house

Bob Hannent

What is the world cuming to?!

That would never have happened in my day. Someone would have bought her a beer at least!

Topless roadsigns tackle Danish speeding menace

Bob Hannent

Old news!

Jesus guys, this is ancient news.

Fatman iTube amplifier

Bob Hannent

Don't forget...

... to buy the OFC polarised 'monster' cables with gold plated connectors and certified goat-free.

This is a fluff product, then again 90% of "audiophile" equipment is. Seriously people, next we'll be selling iPod headphones with "reduced skin effect"*.

Still, it looks good, if you've £300 to waste. But because virtually no one has the right listening environment and audio sources they are never going to hear it anyway.

* Note to those interested: 'Skin effect' has no appreciable effect anywhere near the frequencies used in audio.

British forces auction old kit online

Bob Hannent

Looks like you broke it?

Connection refused... looks like it couldn't take the strain of an El Reg posting.


The perils of pair programming

Bob Hannent

Working pair

Once upon a time I used to work for my brother, I did this while in college and it gave me a good little second income. At the time I would think it was fair to say he was a good to advanced level programmer and I was an average to good programmer. He has since gone on to great things and I wish him continued success.

I have never really been a coder and yet I have always had insight, I can think my way round almost anything and I can see an engineering solution to most problems. Thus I went on after college to have a career away from computing and I am enjoying a measure of success.

However, when we worked together I did enjoy myself, not so much when I had an individual commission, but when we would actually pair programme. I believe that each of us was able to look out for the other and we produced code that worked first time because there was an independent debug process going on the fly. If one of us forgot to declare something or if the flow wasn't going to work then it would be seen.

This was of course a hayday, and I don't advocate that everyone should code with their siblings. But it was some of the most interesting coding I have done without needing to be the most challenging. On the off-chance that he is reading this I will say thanks for the experience and the compliments made by him.


US fires up crowd-roasting microwave gun

Bob Hannent

non-ionising Radiation

Jason is correct, the information I have from microwave safety work I have done says that microwave heating cannot cause cancer precisely because it does not ionise the tissues with enough energy.

The biggest problem I have with this weapon is the fact that it is likely that it acts directly on the soft tissues, primarily the nerves and it burns them. I used to work with a guy who had suffered radio frequency burns and he said it was one of the most painful experiences and not just in the short term. Another soft tissue that gets damaged by RF radiation is the eye, it can boil the tissues in the eyes causing them to go opaque giving long term vision problems.

Seems like a stupid weapon that will encourage protesters to carry defensive metal objects!

China rattles America's cage with satellite shot

Bob Hannent


The last time I heard about trials like this it made me nervous and it continues to do so. Not because of the debris, but in case someone decides to start knocking out commercial satellites.

Your article does however forget to mention the 1997 US anti-satellite laser tests and their current ambitions: