* Posts by ianmcca

19 publicly visible posts • joined 18 Nov 2013

Openreach out and hike prices on legacy fixed-line products: Broadband plumber pulls trigger after Ofcom gives the nod


A fairer way to price

Subsidising fibe rollout by charging more for copper is insane. Openreach and ISPs should be forced to base their charges for a line based on its speed. They'd make a deserved loss on slow lines and collectively they'd have a powerful incentive to get rid of them.

Pure frustration: What happens when someone uses your email address to sign up for PayPal, car hire, doctors, security systems and more


Re: Other casual people

I think you'll find you have a gmaol.com address too.


Me too!

Someone in New Zealand used my email addtess both on his mobile account and with a new employer. I found it impossible to make the minimum wage support staff of the companies involved understand what had happened and act on it and the emails continued to arrive for months. I eventually solved the problem by emailing a complaint to the boss of the phone company (whose address was conveniently on the company website). His staff quickly fixed their problem and contacted the employer to fix theirs.

Three UK does it again: Random folk on network website are still seeing others' account data


Re: Low data notifications

One our accounts also has the problem of receiving incorrect low or out of data messages which has been going on for what seems like years. The same account also showed nonsense on the website for billing cycle data not used etc.

By coincidence I lost patience just yesterday and used live chat to complain. Magically a mere 45 mins later the website was fixed and hopefully the stupid messages will stop now. Time will tell.

To be fair to 3 billing has always been correct and despite the messages data flowed as normal.

A trio of boffins scoop the Nobel Prize in physics for the first exoplanet discovery and big bang model


Re: " Doppler shift, which involves monitoring a star’s brightness levels over time"

Indeed, and it depresses me that even in The Register "journalism" can still occasionally triumph over accurate technical substance.

Fitbit fitness fans furious following flummoxing flawed firmware float, fleeting feedback, failed fixes



Prior to the latest update the fitbit app was working about the best it ever had and I'd got used to the way it appeared. Now it hardly ever syncs, spends forever "looking for device" and the appearance is horrible. Information has been reduced in size and there's less on screen, apparently to make space for vast areas of white space.

God knows what they do with all the data they collect, but it is clear we users are no longer the customers but the product.

My family's fitbit devices are hanging on with the aid of some sticky tape. We will not be renewing them when they finally give up the ghost.

Kent bloke incurs the anchor of local council after fly-tipping boat


It's a'boat time you stopped making all these awful puns!

FBI boss: Never mind Russia and social media, China ransacks US biz for blueprints, secrets at 'surprisingly' huge scale


Wholesale theft of western secrets?

If China were engaged in wholesale theft of western trade secrets, there would surely be a market place for the stolen information, surely we (the west) would have detected that and I can see no reason why making public that we have detected it would not be in our interests.

Which does suggest this is suspicion and hype rather than fact. I'm as scared of China as anyone, but not really for this reason.

Ivan to be left alone: Russia preps to turn its internet into an intranet if West opens cyber-fire


Would it work?

Even if all connections to the outside world were severed and the now-intranet stayed up would it stop cyber attacks? There are probably thousands of compromised servers on Russian (and every other country's) territory right now. If I were serious about launching a cyber attack on a country I'd keep any servers under my control armed and ready to launch the attack as soon as they could not contact me.

Chirp unveils free tier of shouting-at-IoT devices audio net tech



"Chirp doesn’t go to great lengths to bake in security on the reasonable grounds that it’s a transport protocol akin to Wi-Fi; it’s up to the user to apply suitable security measures to his connection"

This just sounds wrong to me.

Be The Packet. Take each hop it makes. Your network will repay you



100km/hour is about 1 metre in 40ms, not 60.

Someone was dividing by 60 instead of 3600.

Mobileye's autonomous cars are heading to California. But they're not going to kill anyone. At least not on purpose


At its heart he's denying the value of predicting the actions of others. I know I predict while driving - constantly and unconsciously, using judgements of their position speed and acceleration, but also the make and condition of the car, the age and sex of the driver, where we are.

On the other hand I can see (by their road behaviour) that very many other drivers dont do this yet still drive safely so I'm not sure what I gain. Perhaps better fuel economy, a smoother journey and a smug feeling of self-satisfaction, and not much else.

So I think he's right that the design starting point has to be "don't cause the accident", and a basic level of that will work. But there must be a gradual extending of the predictive aspect of not causing an accident beyond simply that of not pulling the vehicle where another vehicle is inevitably going to be.

Rant launches Eric Raymond's next project: Open-source the UPS


Designed by programmers

The difference between designed by programmers and designed by (hardware) engineers is that programmers know they need help from engineers but engineers almost invariably believe they don't need programmers to do the coding code. Examples of crappy hw-engineer-designed software are legion but here area few I've suffered from recently: domestic heating systems, photo upload from camera, SATNAV map update bloatware, Smart tv menus, any device that says "uploading the wrong firmware to your device may render it inoperable".

All consumer devices should be designed by programmer-lead teams, IMHO of course!

NASA Earthonauts emerge from eight-month isolation in simulated Mars visit


Re: Just saying

"Being locked with a bunch of people for a long time, knowing that, push comes to shove, you can get out of it any time, is not the same as being locked with a bunch of people for a long time, knowing that whatever happens, you have no way out until the mission is over"

Foolish comment. Suspending disbelief is a natural human capacity and a huge amount can be learnt from simulating something. It does not have to be "the same"

'Pavement power' - The bad idea that never seems to die


I calculate that if there is a lamp every 20 metres and every slab is generating power then there would need to be someone passing the lamp every 6 seconds to power it. So ignoring the costs of setting up and maintaiing the system it could work. But the costs of this are of course ridiculous for the power generated.

New MH370 handshake and wing debris analysis suggests rapid descent


better things to spend money on than this needle hunt??

Well, apart from world peace and curing cancer etc, I don't think so. Yes, it is sort of amazing that the airline industry and governments are prepared to spend money on chucking bits of plane into the sea to find out where they come ashore, but the incredible safety of commercial air traffic has been achieved by obssessive seach for the explanation behind crashes and by obsessive logging of data about equipment and flights. (Who for instance outside the industry would have guessed that satellite handshakes were logged in enough detail to work out the speed of the plane two years later, based on doppler shift!)

So I am pleased the hunt for the plane continues, because while the crash is unexplained there is nothing we can do to stop it happening again, and I might be on the one that crashes the next time.

Blighty's telly, radio watchdog Ofcom does a swear


Swearing in real life

In some parts of the country labourers on a building site sprinkle "fucking" liberally into everything they say: "I'm fucking parched. Give me your fucking cup and I'll fucking go and put the fucking kettle on and make some fucking tea". It was completely devoid of any intention to shock; it was part of their dialect, and meaningless. I was a student when I came across this and I was initially shocked but quickly got used to it and I even started to say it myself after a while.

EFF dinks HP Inc finks in rinky-dink ink stink


Illegal and unfair practices

IiRC, the EU dropped it's unfair practices case against IBM when IBM agreed after much resistance to publish interfaces between products, allowing competitors to compete fairly at a product level rather than only at the solution level, and allowing customers to create the solution that suited their needs.

The same rule ought to apply to printers and ink cartridges. Today, when you think you are buying a printer you are in fact buying a printing solution because you are locked into a single supplier who can overcharge (as IBM used to do) for other parts of the solution.

I would love to see the printer companies fined enough to affect their bottom lines for this blatantly illegal practice, but I don't see any sign governments want to take this on.

My own reaction has been to stop using inkjet technology. I use print shops for photos and an ancient HP B/W laser printer (ink cost .3pence per page) for the occasional business letter and document I need to print.

Fukushima fearmongers: It's your fault Japan dumped CO2 targets


Irrational anti-nuclear attitudes

For an understanding of the anti-nuclear attitude of many people in the face of seemingly convincing evidence of its safety I think we need to look at my generation - the post-war baby-boomers - who grew up during the cold war and learned to fear all things nuclear from their understandably fearful parents. Learned fear is a species survival tactic which is deeply engrained in higher animals and is passed from generation to generation. So it will take a very long time and it may be impossible for humanity to get rid of a learned and irrational fear of nuclear energy.

One might hope that rational argument would eventually win over irrational fear but this only works for a proportion of the population, probably due to wiring differences in the brain. Otherwise how could religion and arachnophobia exist?