* Posts by IanRS

125 publicly visible posts • joined 24 Sep 2013


Brit MPs pour cold water on hydrogen as mass replacement for fossil fuels


Re: Here we go...

Read the reply again.

It is not a case of 'we need to solve this problem', but that of 'existing science shows there is no (efficient) solution to this problem'.

Google frees nifty ML image-compression model... but it's for JPEG-XL


Learning the wrong topic

It might work out where your eyes focus first, but it cannot tell a slug from a snail.

How not to test a new system: push a button and wait to see what happens


Many many years ago I was asked to create some tests for a file storage system. The intention was that a file could be moved between two storage areas, but you only ever saw it in one. The whole file could be accessed from 'A', or 'B', but you should never see it in both at once, nor should you ever be able to see a partial file anywhere. I specified: use a large file so you have a few seconds to act in, start the transfer, disconnect the network cable, wait a few seconds, check. No problem with that one. The second variation said start the transfer, disconnect the power lead from one side, then the network cable, repower but do not reconnect the network, wait for startup to complete and check. The project flat out refused to run this test. Considering this was a system intended for usage in combat areas (even though in staging posts rather than front-line), I did not consider it an unreasonable scenario. However, the manual stated that systems must always be shutdown down cleanly by following the specified procedures.

UK government set to extract hospital data to Palantir system without patient consent


Data for planning

"This organisation handles an average of N operations of type X per week. We have a backlog of M cases."

Repeat for all operation types and other activities.

If the data is for planning purposes, what more do they need?

Microsoft mulls cheap PCs supported by ads, subs


I just hope it is not exactly 1 million to 1.

AMD's Epyc 4 will likely beat Intel Sapphire Rapids to market


Complementary service?

"Compute Ops Management is a complement to rather than a replacement for iLO."

i.e. An extra expense-as-a-service rather than a replacement one.

Rookie programmer's code goes up in flames ... kind of


Re: Is this me or not?

Presumably these days, GDPR could be used as a way of getting that fixed, as all personal data must be corrected within one month of the error being notified to the data holder.

No, working in IT does not mean you can fix anything with a soldering iron


Re: Other way round

Ditto. I was on the project that built the system feeding flight information to the hundreds of monitors around the new Hong Kong airport (CLK), so of course all our dev and test machines also had to run the Chinese version of NT4. (It was in 1998, so it is possible it was still NT3.51 instead of using the modern stuff.) Once it was installed it could be reconfigured to an English locale for ease of use, but it had to be running the same underlying OS as would be used in production. The installation routine was in Chinese of course, but each multi-choice answer prompt still had a single English letter for the ALT+something shortcut. This was enough to provide a reminder of what it was asking about.

MIT boffins cram ML training into microcontroller memory


Re: as little as 256KB of SRAM

... you had to hand carve the ferrite cores?

Scientists pull hydrogen from thin air in promising clean energy move


Re: How much?

Assuming atmospheric pressure, 25C, one mole of a gas has a volume of about 24 litres. 3.7m^3 = 3700L = 154M. Energy from burning 1 mole of hydrogen = 286KJ, so 154M = 44.1MJ, which is equivalent to about 1kg of petrol - call it 1.25 litres. I wonder how well the process scales, and scales, and scales...

Underwater datacenter will open for business this year


Re: On Call

I want the one mounted on the back of a giant turtle. Elephants optional.

NASA scrubs Artemis SLS Moon rocket launch


Re: 200% trust in NASA

As I repeatedly tell my son when playing with model rockets, which do not always perform according to plan. Rocket science is easy (exhaust goes backward = rocket goes forward). Rocket engineering on the other hand is really really hard.

Japan reverses course on post-Fukushima nuclear ban


Hot water can be useful.

The EDF nuclear plant at Civaux in France has a large (very deep) swimming pool and a tropical aquatic centre next door. La Planète des Crocodiles. Fish might not appreciate hot water, but the crocodiles seem to like it.

Since I was last there they seem to have expanded into a small theme park, now with added dragons too. https://www.terre-de-dragons.com/

Major IT outage forces UK emergency call handlers to use 'pen and paper'


High experienced?

I cannot help but think that if your incident response team is highly experienced then you should be fixing a few issues before they become incidents.

Will optics ever replace copper interconnects? We asked this silicon photonics startup


Re: The medium is the messenger

Depending on whether you are talking about single-mode or multi-mode fibre. Multi-mode fibre does have the light bounce from side to side at a range of angles hence taking different length paths, which is why short pulses spread out over distance, limiting the bandwidth. Single-mode only allows a very restricted range of transmission paths - possibly not just 'straight down the middle', but not far off.

'Red-rated' legacy IT gets refresh in UK as US battles theirs with bills


It is often said that if a politician's lips are moving, then they are lying.

"They are simpler and faster to use while also cutting costs."

We are talking about major government IT projects here. Sorry, but I simply do not believe you.

Europe proposes tackling child abuse by killing privacy, strong encryption


Re: 1 in 5?

Reminds me of a similar mis-use of statistics I came across a while ago. Apparently some very high proportion of women (1 in 2? 1 in 3? or thereabouts) claims to have suffered sexual abuse according to the report highlight. Then you read the details:

Sexual abuse includes sexual harassment. Sexual harassment includes being looked at, while in public, by somebody who you don't want to look at you.

I am certainly not defending real abuse, but if the publishers of these kinds of reports were honest then something might be done to protect the 0.5% that really do suffer instead of everything being dismissed because 50% 'obviously' are not suffering.

Intel acquires graphics tech biz founded by ex-AMD, Qualcomm engineers


Re: With remastered sound

Even by the standard of puns normally found in these forums, that one is exceptional.

I remember the demoscene productions from the early 90s. Considering the hardware capabilities of the time, the good ones were incredible, and Future Crew were up with the best.

What do you do when all your source walks out the door?


Re: Never get the chance to do it again

The accurate weather forecast

Journalist won't be prosecuted for pressing 'view source'


Re: Transcendental question

Of uniform density too of course.

You've stolen the antiglare shield on that monitor you've fixed – they say the screen is completely unreadable now


Re: HAZMAT suit please, nurse, gloves please!

Possibly ebonite, a form of very hard rubber. Since the manufacturing process (vulcanisation) involves polymerising the carbon chains via sulphur bonds it is a bit whiffy to machine - you get some of the sulphur back.

The dark equation of harm versus good means blockchain’s had its day


Re: Lack of comprehension and imagination ...

What happens when whoever has control of a country's gold reserves not only sells it off, but announces they will in advance, hence boosting the known supply side of the market and crashing the price before the sale?

If you follow the price of gold, that dip is known as Brown's Bottom. Just one of the stupid things he did. Destroying the UK's private pension industry was another.

LoRa to the Moon and back: Messages bounced off lunar surface using off-the-shelf hardware


Off the shelf equipment?

Some people must have large shelves if they have a 25m radio dish sitting around on one.

Schools email marketing company told us to go away when we told them of exposed database creds, say infoseccers


"We do not hold any confidential information on any of our servers."

Well that much was true certainly.

We're all at sea: Navigation Royal Navy style – with plenty of IT but no GPS


Re: Reg units need not apply

But the timber lengths were probably all multiples of 0.3m, otherwise known as 'metric feet' by carpenters. It does lead to the problem of some 'full size' boards being 2.4m by 1.2m and others are the full 8' x 4' (2.44m x 1.22m). Very annoying when you really do need those last 4cm, or should that be 1 9/16in?

Glasgow firm fined £150k after half a million nuisance calls, spoofing phone number, using false trading names


How do you find them?

I am on the TPS list, and still get a lot of green deal, insulation fitting and oven cleaning calls, although the latter seems to have dropped off recently. However, since the caller ID number is spoofed and any company name they give is likely to be false too, how do you know who to complain about to the ICO?

The obvious fraud ones - "I'm calling from BT/Microsoft..." I normally respond to with "[Do you sleep well at night knowing| Does your mother know] you spend your days [committing fraud | as a petty criminal]". They normally hang up.

Apple wants to scan iCloud to protect kids, can't even keep them safe in its own App Store – report


Advert loophole

My son uses one of my old iphones to play games on. It has no SIM card in, so is generally only useable around the house, on the WiFi network. Only I can install new apps on it, and I make sure that everything is suitable for his age. However, adverts do not seem to have any link to the age rating of the app, and I have often seen completely inappropriate ads being shown in the middle of a what is supposed to be an age 4+ rated game. (He is somewhat older, but that is what some of the apps are rated.) Looking at various Apple forums, this seems to be a problem going back years, but Apple never do anything about it.

The UK is running on empty when it comes to electric vehicle charging points


Re: Recycled battery risks

Take a balloon filled with hydrogen and poke it with a lit match. You will have produced a cloud of water vapour. Now return that to separate hydrogen and oxygen. You all allowed an energy budget equivalent to one match.

Physics proves through the laws of thermodynamics that there is a preferred way for things to go, and that going back costs more energy than going forward. You can reverse things, but only at an energy cost, and eventually you (and the rest of the universe) run out of energy.

Mountains on neutron stars are not even a millimetre tall due to extreme gravity


Re: "extreme gravitational fields"

Make it out of scrith.

Pentagon scraps $10bn JEDI winner-takes-all cloud contract


Indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity

The supplier does not know when they will deliver and the customer does not know what they want.

So, a standard government contract then.

This AI could save a firefighter's life


Simulation accuracy

This shows an example of how little match there is between many simulations and reality. Having written a number of simulators for various parts of my academic research (a long time ago) I could tweak parameters until there was a good match between the simulator and previous observations under known conditions. However, take one step outside the boundary of those known conditions and I could guarantee the simulator would be useless.

Climate model simulations are the obvious exception to this. They have perfect predictive abilities for up to a century ahead.

USB-C levels up and powers up to deliver 240W in upgraded power delivery spec


Re: I predict excitement

Switches in both leads might be the required practice these practice these days. It might even be carried out in new installations. However, it is certainly not always in place in older installations. Light sockets in particular can still be live even when the switch is off.

Train operator phlunks phishing test by teasing employees with non-existent COVID bonus


Re: But isn't this what (real) criminals would do?

Exactly. The whole intention of a phishing attack is to make it both believable and tempting. The problem with many unions is that they will automatically consider any change to current conditions 'a bad thing' which needs all details to be communicated, discussed and agreed beforehand.

I am a security consultant and one of the security education services my company is working on will allow test phishing emails to be sent if the client wants that part of the package. As long as there are clues in the email that it came from outside the organisation I would consider it an acceptable test. On that basis, GoDaddy screwed up by sending it from a legitimate internal address and providing no clues at all that it was meant to be fake, but this one I would consider a valid test.

'Chinese wall'? Who uses 'Chinese wall'? Well, IBM did, and it actually means 'firewall'


Re: Is "Chinese Wall" actually offensive?

A Chinese wall is not big and impossible to pass. Quite the opposite in fact. It comes from the use of paper screens which everybody then pretends are impossible to go through, and usually refers to artificial divisions to keep information about two areas separated. e.g. A company doing work for two clients who are competitors which each other.

On the basis that it refers to a purely language based construct with no physical presence that stops you from doing something I am surprised it is not praised rather than rejected by reformists of woke or SJW flavours.

Millimetre-sized masses: Physics boffins measure smallest known gravitational field (so far)


There is no such thing as gravity.

Everything just sucks!

Good news: An end is in sight for the COVID-19 pandemic. Bad news: Nitrogen dioxide pollution is on the up as life returns to normal


Odd timing

The middle picture, with the lower emission levels, is dated Feb 2020, which is only just as things started to get serious. How much manufacturing had shut down by then, even in China where lockdowns started earlier than most other places?

Space station dumps 2.9-ton battery pack to burn up in Earth's atmosphere after hardware upgrade


A lot of delta-V

I wonder if the ejection of large items is aimed and timed in order to provide a useful orbit correction.

Nurserycam horror show: 'Secure' daycare video monitoring product beamed DVR admin creds to all users


Re: WebCam And Video Everywhere

Somebody once collided with my car in the company car park, cracking the bumper, but left no note. There were obvious cameras overlooking the area so I went to the security office to ask whether they had footage of the incident.

"We turn the cameras off during office hours."

You could not make this stuff up.

Decades-old UK government papers show that they tried to roll out a 'Cab-E-Net' system in the '90s. It was crap


The giveaway!

"doing IT in government properly might result in fewer MPs"

So every government IT project ever since has been doomed.

Windows might have frozen – but at least my feet are toasty


Re: Site services...

Might have been a flame rather than a spark. Sparks normally have something at the other end to complete the circuit. (As this place is pedant infected, yes, I do know about cloud to cloud lightning). I had a PC back in the early 90s which I had unplugged to plug in something else temporarily. When I turned the PC on nothing happened. Oh yes, the plug. Reach under the desk to plug it back in, putting my head next to the PC case, and a flash of flame goes past my face. There went the main house fuse, the ring circuit breaker, the plug fuse and the PSU fuse. Further inspection of the inside of the PSU revealed a large ceramic (maybe tantalum bead) capacitor with a crater in one side.

UK proposes new powers for comms regulator to legally unleash avenging hordes on security-breached telcos


Accreditation scheme

There used to be an accreditation scheme - CAS(T) - which telecoms providers had to meet if they wanted to sell into the government or public sector markets. This was deprecated when the new Telecoms Security Requirements were announced. Announced, not available, so this was around the middle of last year. The Telecommunications (Security) Act 2019-2021 has now been approved in late November so this sets the requirements. I would assume that there will eventually be an accreditation scheme, but I am not holding my breath.

As a security consultant who often works in the telecoms area, I can foresee a very dull period ahead reading the Bill and trying to work out what the requirements really are. An initial glance through reveals this will not be enjoyable.

HP CEO talks up HP-ink-only print hardware and higher upfront costs for machines that use other cartridges


Re: What is "lifetime" ?

You need to use genuine HP 'makes champagne look cheap' ink for the lifetime of the printer - until it finally wears out. They will support it for the printer lifetime - until the next model comes out.

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.