* Posts by IanRS

83 posts • joined 24 Sep 2013


Dutch Gateway store was kept udder wraps for centuries until refit dug up computing history


Robust case

I had a Gateway in the second half of the 90s. Various bits got swapped out occasionally until just the original case survived. Eventually the changing form factors of various components meant it too had to go, but it was still in perfect condition. Built like the proverbial outhouse.

Contact-tracer spoofing is already happening – and it's dangerously simple to do


What are the odds?

How likely is it that while reading an article on COVID-19 related spam or phishing calls, the phone rings? And it is a COVID-19 related phishing call?

Regardless of the odds, it happened.

A paper clip, a spool of phone wire and a recalcitrant RS-232 line: Going MacGyver in the wonderful world of hotel IT


Re: Luxury

If the writer could have kept up with the reader you know what would have happened - a tape crossing the room, probably at waist height to cause as much obstruction and risk of being broken as possible.


Re: Remember serial breakout boxes?

I am sure mine must still be around somewhere, although it was a little smaller. An open case with a 25 way connector on each end and 25 pins sticking up. Jumper leads could be added as necessary. The last resort in my serial toolkit, which also included a long straight-through cable (1-1, 2-2, ... 25-25), short adapters for common requirements such as null-modem or 25-9 serial, gender-benders. If two boxes could talk via a common protocol through a 9 or 25 pin D socket, I could probably connect them.

Comms room, comms room, comms room is on fire – we don't need no water, let the engineer burn


Re: And then some fool fills up a car with Li-ion...

Diesel is harder to ignite. Drop a lit cigarette on a diesel spill and it will probably go out. However, diesel has a higher energy:volume ratio than petrol, so once it is burning...

Samsung reminds rabble to scan smart TVs for viruses – then tries to make them forget


What telly?

I replaced my telly with a fish tank some years ago. Much more interesting to watch. Although members of the cast do die off occasionally, I don't believe it has suffered a security breach.

Are you sure you've got a floppy disk stuck in the drive? Or is it 100 lodged in the chassis?


Re: Shiela is okay...

They used BBC micros, not PCs.

2 weeks till Brexit and Defra, at the very least, looks set to be caught with its IT pants down


Since when has not knowing the correct requirements been an impediment to a government IT project? Make some requirements up, have it developed, then ask the users what it should be doing and pay lots more later to get it to do what should have been specified originally. Standard procedure.

Strewth! Apoplectic Aussies threaten to blast noisy Google delivery drones out of the sky


Re: Oder placed.

Or even ordure?

Cops told live facial recog needs oversight, rigorous trial design, protections against bias


98% false positive rate?

False positive rates should be low. Really low if you are dealing with a potentially large pool of candidates. A rate of 1% would mean that 1 person in 100 would be falsely recognised as being somebody 'of interest', and in any kind of crowded event there will probably be thousands of facing passing in front of each camera, so 10s of false positives. A 98% rate means this facial recognition system is working at the level of 'yes, that is a face'. It probably even triggers on the police horses.

It might be that 98% of the flagged faces were false alarms which is still stupidly high, but that is not what is properly meant by false positive rate.

Twilight of the sundials: Archaic timepiece dying out and millennials are to blame, reckons boffin


Sundials are the easy bit

Sundials are easy enough to get hold of - I have a nice one just sitting on a shelf.

Nice pedestals to mount them on in the garden at a sensible price are another matter entirely.

Attention all British .eu owners: Buy dotcom domains and prepare to sue, says UK govt


Re: Wow, it's almost...

Hardly a decisive outcome to leave, when two thirds of the public didn't support it.

Hardly a decisive outcome to stay, when two thirds of the public didn't support it.

That argument goes both ways you know.

Heard the one where the boss calls in an Oracle consultant who couldn't fix the database?


Octal problem

When I used to interview graduates for a coding position I liked this test (although back then it was in C rather than C++).

What is the output of the following code:

#include <iostream>

int main()


std::cout << 001;

std::cout << 010;

std::cout << 100;

return 0;


Most candidates realise the leading zeros will not be printed, and write down 1 10 100 on separate lines. They are wrong. Some candidates realise that the output has no \n and write 110100. They are still wrong.

Boffins build blazing battery bonfire


Re: Interesting idea

This is why wind turbines are not clean too. Big steel tower on a huge concrete foundation = enormous up-front CO2 cost. Apparently they break even after 20 years, out of a 25 year expected usable lifespan.

GCHQ pushes for 'virtual crocodile clips' on chat apps – the ability to silently slip into private encrypted comms


Re: re: our Kevin's gran's aunt's cousin Sherryl

Gran: up two generations (mother of mother, or mother of father)

Aunt: up another generation then across to a sister

Cousin: shared grandparents, so up two then down two along a different branch of the family tree.

Total: Up five, down two.

So a common ancestor exists five generations up from the starting point, two up from the end point.

Take the lowest number: two, which implies cousin (three would be 2nd cousin, 4 = 3rd cousin, etc)

Take the generation difference: three.

Final result: Cousin three times removed, aka Sherryl.

DXC's Americas CFO splits amid yet more deckchair shifting


Re: Last man out etc

It was like that when it was HP-ES, and when it was EDS before then. EDS UK has done well, but EDS EMEA as a whole has done badly, therefore EDS UK will be punished as it is part of EDS EMEA.

Bright spark dev irons out light interference


Re: Blu Tack

I was wondering if anybody would bring this one up. You beat me by 16K. Sorry, 16 minutes.

Windows XP? Pfff! Parts of the Royal Navy are running Win ME


Re: Few comments


It seems to work when I try to link the A: drive to mapped network drive in a Win10 machine with no floppy drive.

It's been a week since engineers approved a new DNS encryption standard and everyone is still yelling


Too early to argue

The Vi or Emacs debate needs to be settled first!

Neutron star crash in a galaxy far, far... far away spews 'faster than light' radio signal jets at Earth


Re: Just a side note

"Antimatter is just an atom, whose core contains the electrons while the orbits are filled with protons - in "normal" matter it is the other way around."

No it isn't. It really isn't. An anti-matter is made of of anti-protons and anti-neutrons, surrounded by anti-electrons (positrons). It is not just a normal atom flipped inside-out.

Trainer regrets giving straight answer to staffer's odd question


Re: Lightening strike ?

A few years ago I had a problem with the house main fuse tripping several times a day. After a couple of electricians failed to find any fault the local electric board sent one of their more competent ones. He asked whether I used surge protectors for any equipment. I did, and he said to remove them. They can cause problems with tripping and are of little practical use: A distant lightning strike will be handled by the mains grid and a too close strike will blow straight through them anyway. Once I removed them the trip faults stopped, and if there is a close storm I just unplug the computers.

By Jove! Astroboffins spot 12 new spanking moons around Jupiter


Re: What is a moon ?

Pluto has not cleared its neighbouring region because it crosses the orbit of Neptune, and has not cleared it out of the way.

So why is Neptune considered a planet?

Tech team trapped in data centre as hypoxic gas flooded in. Again


Re: A real fire risk

As a teenager, so a long time ago, I had a Saturday job in a clothing chain warehouse. Four floors (with perforated metal grid flooring, allowing for good ventilation / fire spreading, and causing vertigo for those working on the upper floors) full of cardboard, plastic and fabric. The safety briefing for new starters stated that in the case of a fire, the fire crew would come in and try to rescue anybody known to be trapped inside, but otherwise would just keep their distance and let it burn.

Open plan offices flop – you talk less, IM more, if forced to flee a cubicle


Did he get the point?

Outage? No, phones are playing silly buggers, insists Sainsbury's Bank


We've seen no transaction or payment problems

We have seen any transactions of payments either for that matter.

Tech support made the news after bomb squad and police showed up to 'defuse' leaky UPS


It was obviously a mis-typed KMPH, of course!

Git push origin undo-my-last-disaster


Re: Nothing new here...

So where does your database configuration go? In the next turtle down?

No, Stephen Hawking's last paper didn't prove the existence of a multiverse


Cognito ergo universi?

The Hawking-Hertog conjecture has, they wrote, “important implications for anthropic reasoning”, the idea of a relationship between the universe and the sapient life observing it.

I think, therefore the universe is?

It's Pi day: Care to stuff a brand new Raspberry one in your wallet?


Re: Dates with collapsed zeros

Not ::1/10 ?

Too many bricks in the wall? Lego slashes inventory


Re: The cost!!

Flying lego: https://www.popularmechanics.com/flight/a23667/lego-plane-that-can-fly/

Some of the cheap alternatives are so bad that you can put one piece on top of another, pick up the assembly by the top piece, and the bottom piece stays behind. The tolerances that Lego is made to really are very tight, but they have had a lot of practice at making blocks by now and I don't think the price premium is completely justified by that alone.


2x4 blocks are what Lego is all about

My son got the Saturn V set (target age 14+) for his 6th birthday recently, which I was banned from 'helping' with. It took him a while, but he was able to build it. He now refuses to consider any sets which are not intended for at least age 8. He has an enormous lego collection, plus occasional access to my old Lego Technic sets, but he still likes building things out of standard 2x4 blocks. The specialised pieces are too specialised these day and no good for anything beyond that one function. Ebay comes in very handy for 'vintage' lego.

Pasties in SPAAAAACE: Cornwall hopes for slice of £50m spaceport cash


Re: "..located in the area around Newquay airport and Goonhilly..."

And a quick failure soon after launch will drop the bits on Devon, so the Cornwallians still see no problem.

Reg man wraps head in 49-inch curved monitor


Re: Still only 1080 Vertical

I run two 1680x1050 (yes, they're old) monitors side by side, but with one rotated to portrait mode. That way it can comfortably show a whole A4 page document, or plenty of lines in a code editor.

Astro-boffinry world rocked to its very core: Shock as Andromeda found to be not much bigger than Milky Way


Re: If the mass is 800 vs 700...

Wrong. The escape velocity from a given body is sqrt(2GM/r), where M is the mass of the body you are trying to escape from, r is the distance from the centre of mass that you start at, and G is 6.67E-11. Density does not matter. Size does not matter other than letting you start from nearer the centre of gravity, but if you try and escape from two different size bodies with the same mass, starting at the same distance, then the escape velocity will be the same.

If you start at planetary orbit distances then the escape velocity required to get away from a black hole is the same as from a star of the same mass. It is only because the mass of a black hole is in such a small space that you can start closer which changes the escape velocity.

Data scientist wanted: Must have Python, spontaneity not required


Two data scientists earn 50K, while a third earns £41K.

You're not a data scientist, are you?

F-35 flight tests are being delayed by onboard software snafus


Re: Colour me surprised

For any hardware/software combination that I build, assuming it is moderately robust, final stage testing is performed by my son. There is no better way of finding which weird combination of inputs confuses the software than letting a small boy loose on it.

Peers told to push for cut-price access to med tech developed with NHS data


Public data?

There is an important difference between public data and data about 'The Public'. A lot of the data which the NHS holds is medical data relating to individuals, and it is this data which presumably makes up the bulk of the 'valuable' information. However, without explicit authorisation from every single person they want to sell the data on, they simply do not have consent to use it this way, either under the old DPA or the new GDPR. It is clearly a change in the data usage stated at the time of collection.

User asked help desk to debug a Post-it Note that survived a reboot


Incompetent users

I used to help run a semi-official (i.e. management approves of it, but will not dedicate any resources to running it) anti-virus service. A honey-pot system ran on a spare PC and whenever something tried to contact it we checked what was the cause. Normally a virus that had somehow found its way onto the internal network. We then tracked down the normal user of that PC and called them to tell them of the problem and that they should shut down their computer and ring the local helpdesk. After one contact proved particularly IT inept and could not be talked through the steps to shut her PC down cleanly we just told her to press the power button. She did so, and the ping to her PC we were running kept going. Presumably she had just turned the monitor off. We debated telling her to pull the network cable out, but decided she would probably electrocute herself with the power lead instead, so we called her helpdesk for her. It was only an major IT systems integration and out-sourcing company. No real reason to expect internal competence.

El Reg assesses crypto of UK banks: Who gets to wear the dunce cap?


Re: Santander

There are worse systems. Not many, but they do exist. Does anybody know of anything worse than the HMRC website? Last time I tried to get into that it would not accept my credentials and I had to go through their weird process of identity verification based on whatever various other government departments and outside agencies (such as credit assessment companies!) knew about you. e.g. Which mobile operator did you open an account with in 2001?

ICANN gives domain souks permission to tell it the answer to Whois privacy law debacle


Re: @Doctor

One of the nice things about GDPR (from the viewpoint of a person, not the data-holding corporation), is that data holding must not be opt-out, it must be opt-in. Shell..user had it correct: there must be permission explicitly given, and if it is not explicitly given then it is implicitly denied.

Even systems which already hold data do not seem to be exempt - the data controllers are meant to come back and ask for permission anew.

Giant frikkin' British laser turret to start zapping stuff next year


Use a log scale

So the knob only has to go to about 13.

Largest advertising company in the world still wincing after NotPetya punch


Local admin rights

"There are many accounting applications that require local admin for applications to run."

Why on earth does an accounting application require local admin rights other than perhaps for installations?

Samsung releases 49-inch desktop monitor with 32:9 aspect ratio


A4 documents

With 'ribboned' applications determined to rob you of as much vertical screen estate as possible, a low vertical resolution might be OK for gaming, but is very poor for productive work. I run a dual 20"/21" screen setup, with one in portrait mode at 1050x1680. (Hey, it's old - that was good when I got it.) It makes working on A4 documents so much easier. That could be tricky with this one.

Teen texted boyfriend to kill himself. It worked. Will the law change to deal with digital reality?


Re: The degree of coercion isn't important

If you remember it being broadcast with the lyrics, you're showing your age. Sadly, you're also showing mine.

Going to Mars may give you cancer, warns doc


Re: Duh

It would never get in orbit properly if all the debris currently in orbit stuck to it?

You have the polarity reversed. You want a field that pushes stuff away rather than attracts it.

GPU-flingers' bash: Forget the Matrix, Neo needs his tensors


Re: Well duh.

A 'scalar' is a single number. Think of a single point in space.

A 'vector' is a column (or row, depending on your notation) of numbers. Stretch the dot out into a line, and the values of the numbers gives the direction of the line in however many dimensions you are using. e.g. A two number vector is like coordinates on graph paper, adding a third gives height as well, and so on into harder to visualise directions.

A 'matrix' is a grid of numbers, and can be thought of as a collection of stacked vectors wrapped up in an easy to process format. It can also represent a transformation - a way of converting one vector into another. The representation is the same, just the use has changed.

All of these are also tensors, of zero, one and two dimensionality. This can be extended, so a three dimensional tensor could be displayed as a 3D grid of numbers - a stack of matrices. Then stack those into 4D, etc, until your head turns inside-out.

However, the term 'dimension' starts to get confusing, as a vector with three numbers in it can be said to represent a vector in three dimensions, but it is also a one dimensional tensor.

Space upstart plans public cloud in low Earth orbit


Blue-sky thinking?

By the time you are in orbit, the sky is black, not blue.

'Crazy bad' bug in Microsoft's Windows malware scanner can be used to install malware


You called, m'Lud?

Lawyers are called to the bar. Lowlifes are placed at the bar. Sometimes you can tell the difference.

User loses half of a CD-ROM in his boss's PC


Repairing a HDD with sticky tape

Back in the mid 90s, I had a hard drive die on me, when because of departmental miserliness there was no backup facility other than floppy discs. HDDs in those days had a ribbon cable (copper tracks on a flexible plastic strip, not individual wires joined by the insulation) going through the join of the two halves of the case. The fault turned out to be that the plastic strip had cracked, and broken several of the copper tracks. I fixed the strip back together with sticky tape and then used conductive paint to repair the tracks, and it worked long enough to back up all the critical data onto floppies.

"You've fixed the disc. Why do you need a new one?" was then the question from the purse holders.

Governments could introduce 'made by humans' tags - legal report


Do you mean mean mediacracy (which is presumably a society led by tabloids) or mediocracy (a society led by the mediocre)? And is there a difference?



Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2020