* Posts by Peter Ford

362 publicly visible posts • joined 13 Jul 2007


Teardown reveals iPhone 15 to be series of questionable design decisions

Peter Ford

That explains the missing iPhone 9 and 10, at least: 9 would be scary and 10 would float away.

Mozilla calls cars from 25 automakers 'data privacy nightmares on wheels'

Peter Ford

Re: A long time ago...

I think I'm with you on this: How many people are actually looking at any of this data that they have collected?

Targeted advertising is already confused by having a mixture of adults and teenagers on the same NAT address, so in our house any adverts that do slip past the pi-hole are not well targeted to whoever receives them.

This heap of data is mostly worthless bollocks - certainly the management of most companies is not intelligent enough to do anything productive with it. The biggest worry is that some AI in the future will be let loose on it and actually start making headway with it all. I guess that's when SkyNet happens...

Right to repair advocates have a new opponent: Scientologists

Peter Ford

Re: Expose

A good many of the shopping malls were built on land owned by the Church of England, meaning they would have to abide by covenants on the land, such as not opening on Easter Sunday. Not sure if that's still the case.

Some of the other big landowners in England were the colleges of Oxford and Cambridge universities - there is the story that you could walk between the two universities entirely on land owned by their colleges. Again, probably not the case any more.

What happens when What3Words gets lost in translation?

Peter Ford

Re: Was that sheep (singular) or sheep (plural)?

You'll be wanting https://what3words.com/sheep.sheep.sheep - in Detroit

Peter Ford

A new game

Take three words from a piece of text (miss out short words like a, of, to, etc.) and put dots between them for a W3W address, then see if it exists and where it puts you.

Interestingly, Natural Area Codes (https://what3words.com/natural.area.codes) is in Brazil...

Resilience is overrated when it's not advertised

Peter Ford

Re: Fallback fault-tolerant

If they were from Sunderland, that's pretty much the same thing

Peter Ford

Re: Fallback fault-tolerant

I set up the HP-UX cluster in the my Ph.D. lab with TTTE names - Gordon was the Big machine, Edward, Henry, James and Thomas were the smaller ones. When we got a shiny SG Iris in the lab the Prof said we had too many boys names and it needed something more feminine - if there had been two new machines they'd be Annie and Clarabel, but in the end the purple case (and the fact that it was a Crystallography lab) resulted in 'Amethyst'.

Slightly later, OUCS had machines named as colours, and the main multi-user servers were 'black' and 'white'. They were superceded by 'sable' and 'ermine', which somehow transitioned to a mustelidae theme and there was (I think) a 'wolverine' and a 'weasel' after that...

The company I moved to had Arthurian Legend names - Arthur, Merlin, Guinevere, Morgana...

Later when I took on the system admin of that company, I went very boring and used NATO phonetic alphabet names for the sudden proliferation of VMs

Intel pulls plug on mini-PC NUCs

Peter Ford

Re: Just as I was thinking of buying one...

Find a second-hand intel Mac Mini and put windows / linux on it...

Lamborghini's last remaining pure gas guzzlers are all spoken for

Peter Ford

There is only one issue stopping me getting a BEV - the price of buying it. I've always bought cars cash: £5000 for a small one and £10000-12000 for something bigger. I don't have £40,000+ cash lying around for a new one - even the small BEVs are more than £25000 at the moment, and there's very little second-hand stock of BEVs, apart from crappy Leafs with knackered batteries and Teslas that are not far from new price.

UK's dream of fusion power by 2040s will need GPUs

Peter Ford

Re: What a coincidence

Surely the point of this simulation kit is to work out how to do it safely. If Ocean Gate has done a decent simulation, they might have had a better outcome, or more likely a more expensive ticket price...

Bosses face losing 'key' workers after forcing a return to office

Peter Ford

I think it might be easier to replace the micromanging managers with robots - I suspect ChatGPT can already replicate most of their behaviour.

Techie wasn't being paid, until he taught HR a lesson

Peter Ford

Re: Unique keys

I worked for a chap who disliked his first (of three) given name, so in anything useful to him he went by his second name.

On surveys, questionnaires, internet forms, etc. he used his first name, so spam, and sales calls would alway ask for his first name - a useful filter for phone answering...

He hated his third name even more - I'm not sure he really admitted it's existent beyond the initial letter.

A toast to being in the right place at the right time

Peter Ford

Re: He's toast

Had a similar problem, but the solution was to cover the stupid smoke detector in the kitchen with tin foil...

Four out of five Uranus moons likely to have ocean under crust

Peter Ford

Re: This is so cool (no pun)

Fish still need oxygen.

On Earth enough dissolves in the water from the atmosphere and underwater plants.

On an icy moon I'm not sure where that oxygen comes from, especially if there's a thick crust of ice over the top and pretty-much no gaseous atmosphere.

Balloon-borne telescope returns first photos in search for dark matter

Peter Ford

Helium is cheaper than rocket fuel

But rocket fuel can easily be made from sustainable sources, whereas helium is a bit trickier to make. At some point rocket fuel will be cheaper than helium...

Boffins claim discovery of the first piezoelectric liquid

Peter Ford

Re: Aaah, unfortunately paywalled

I think the article said that the piezoelectric effect of the materials they have so far is an order of magnitude less than quartz, so probably not great...

PC tech turns doctor to diagnose PC's constant crashes as a case of arthritis

Peter Ford

Re: Don't get me started...

Or even a saxophone.

A horn is a musical instrument with some sort of noise generator at one end and a conical bore to the other open end: the conical bore means the tube is gradually getting wider along it's length so if you straighten out the curves it would look like a cone (although chopped off at the top, I suppose)

So horns include all of the saxophones (where are single reed generates the noise that then resonates down the horn), and the brass horns like the cornet (lit. little horn), French horn, E-flat horn, euphonium, tuba, Sousaphone etc., but *not* the trumpet - that has a cylindrical bore that only flares at the bell.

As for the cor anglais (English horn), that's not a horn or English...

User was told three times 'Do Not Reboot This PC' – then unplugged it anyway

Peter Ford

Re: Content

"Computer is running an update process that cannot be interrupted by you and anyone else under any circumstances."

Oh yes it can...

Perhaps 'must not' would be better.

All of the norths are about to align over Britain

Peter Ford

Re: Or you could...

More or less straight down my street, which is a pain because it means I had to add some blocks to stand the dish off the wall a bit to get the alignment.

Peter Ford

Re: Or you could...

Even with a digital watch you can imagine where the hands would be. With a bit more effort it works in the dark: if you can see the Moon you can work out where the Sun would be based on the phase and then determine where North is (actually, determining South is easier, but then you just go the other way...)

Of course, if it's too dark to see the Sun but clear enough to see the Moon, chances are you can see the relevant stars for your hemisphere...

How I made a Chrome extension for converting Reg articles to UK spelling

Peter Ford

Re: *article paid for by Google

And in most cases didn't get up after lunch for at least an hour after the Britsh had finished

To make this computer work, users had to press a button. Why didn't it work? Guess

Peter Ford

Re: Bad design

I have an AOC monitor that has one button, on the bottom edge, that lights up green when the monitor is on. If I press it in certain ways I can apparently adjust stuff, but it also functions as the on-off button.

I leave it on - it's working fine at the moment, and I dare not press the button to turn it off in case I press it wrong and mess up the settings.

I probably have a manual somewhere, with three pages of English instructions buried among 4795 pages of other languages.

Founder of zero-emissions truck venture Nikola found guilty of $1b fraud

Peter Ford

Re: energy storage ... pulling a train of concrete blocks ...

There's at least one more, Ben Cruachan near Loch Awe in Scotland, on a similar scale to Dinorwig.

But you're right: digging tunnels big enough to pour a lake down a mountain through turbines is hardly less infrastructure than a bit of railway track. I suspect the train doesn't quite match the power generation capacity of a big pump-storage system.

Scientists model turbulence to boost space propulsion

Peter Ford

Re: Waiting on Moore's clock

I thought DNS was pretty mch an industrial-scale compute job, so either this is an oxymoron, or they truly mean 'really really big'. It's probably been planned for years and now there are facilities big enough to handle it within the time-scale of a Ph.D. project

Heart now pledges 30-seat hybrid electric commercial flights by 2028

Peter Ford

Re: It's not time to railroad

There are plenty of examples of railway locomotives in Europe that can run on either electric pickups (two different types in the UK) or diesel. For a locomotive, where weight is not so much of an issue, it works just fine.

I also see that there is work in hand to make battery locomotives too - for some applications like trundling along over long distances a diesel battery hybrid might make sense, especially if the batteries can be charged from overhead or third rail pickups at locations where power is accessible, and also from regenerative braking.

But I don't think the USA has an appetite for rail travel in place of flying or driving...

Demand for software experts pushes tech salaries higher in UK

Peter Ford

Re: Discrimination comes in many forms

Age discrimination is certainly not a given - I just got a new programming job at age 52 and the team is almost all middle-aged men, including two other new hires of a similar age to me. Anyone discriminating on age is going to miss out on a lot of experience, but I guess young people are cheaper...

Ransomware attack on UK water company clouded by confusion

Peter Ford


"They also taunted Thames Water, writing they had spent months inside the company's network and that it had 'very bad holes in their systems.'"

I think they missplet 'cisterns'?

Password recovery from beyond the grave

Peter Ford

Re: Legal issues

It seems to be a thing, especially among Americans, to avoid using words like 'died', like it's unlucky or something. See also 'toilet'...

Half of bosses out of touch with reality, study shows

Peter Ford

Re: Bollocks statistics

It doesn't take into account the 2 hours in the middle of the day running/cycling/kayaking/swimming during everyone-else's vague definitions of lunchtime.

I reckon I can do four hours in the morning (starting from the time I'd otherwise be setting off for work), two hours of exercise in the middle, make a bit of lunch to take to my desk, and then do four hours in the afternoon (up to the time I'd otherwise be getting home).

So if I were in meetings at the ends of that day, it would look like I was working 8am to 6pm...

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

Peter Ford

Re: There’s more than what meets the eye

They said that sort of thing about Boris Johnson, and Donald Trump.

Dido Harding's appointment to English public health body ruled unlawful

Peter Ford

Re: Quantum idiots.

At least while they're in prison they wouldn't be cocking up everything else for the rest of us. I'd say the cost of dinner with the prison governor would be saved a million times over by keeping them out of government decisions.

BOFH: What a beautiful classic car. Shame if anything were to happen to it

Peter Ford

Re: Fond memories

My Dad had a Morris Oxford too - it was written off after a minor collision with a Mini caused it largely to disappear in a puff of iron oxide dust. The Mini was unscathed...

Facebook may soon reveal new name – we're sure Reg readers will be more creative than Zuck's marketroids

Peter Ford

Surely that's a radio station?

Is it a bridge? Is it a ferry? No, it's the Newport Transporter

Peter Ford

Re: THE Newport Bridge

Pretty sure the Newport Bridge on the Tees is no longer capable of lifting, which is a shame. I did always think it amusing that the two proper transporter bridges in Britain (that Warrington one is a bit pathetic) were both near Newport.

As a Middlesbrough native, I was also amused when a young lady pinpointed my accent to the Welsh Newport. "Well, you're almost right..."

D'oh! Misplaced chair shuts down nuclear plant in Taiwan

Peter Ford

At least it was the 'off' switch

And not the 'shutdown all the cooling and disable the interlocks to see what happens' switch...

I've got a broken combine harvester – but the manufacturer won't give me the software key

Peter Ford

Re: A contrarian view

This is true absolutely right. However, where it falls over is that the previously 'reassuringly expensive' brands are also on this downward spiral. They are capitalising on their reputations and now make stuff that is slightly less nasty than the bargain-basement kit, but costs 'reassuringly expensive' money. And can't be repaired any better than the cheap stuff.

So where you previously had the option of 'buy cheap, replace often' or 'buy expensive, last for ever' you now only have the choice of which logo you want on your kit. Nobody makes the reliable things any more - even if it was profitable it's not *as* profitable...

United, Mesa airlines order 200 electric 19-seater planes for short-hop flights

Peter Ford

Marginal gains

I don't see this as an option for ALL air routes, but there are plenty that fit the range and capacity limitations where burning oil could be avoided.

The key fact is that every little helps - if only 0.01% of air traffic is replaced with electric power that's still a win.

Same with electric road vehicles: every electric car on the road is one less user of fossil fuel.

Even if the electricity is sometimes generated by burning oil or gas, *some* of that electricity is sustainably sourced, and that proportion is likely to improve as scientists and engineers target the technologies, and bean-counters see the small wins.

An aircraft/car/truck/earth-moving machine powered by oil is always going to be a polluter, one powered by electricity has the potential to be powered by *any* source of electricity.

Peter Ford

Re: Unintended consequences...

But then you'd have to build the railway line, and that might be quite a challenge depending on the geography.

Try placing a pot plant directly above your CRT monitor – it really ties the desk together

Peter Ford

Adjust the monitor settings?

Surely the standard method of fixing a bendy display like this is to whack it hard on the side...

We don't know why it's there, we don't know what it does – all we know is that the button makes everything OK again

Peter Ford

Re: The light..

I have a monitor (an inexpensive one) that has one button and one light. I believe there's some way of using that one button to access menus and configurations, but it's also the on-off button.

I connected it up and it just works - when the Mac it's connected to sleeps the screen goes dark, and when the Mac wakes up the screen comes on again. I haven't dared even try turning it off - I might end up in a maze of twisty menus, all alike.

Waymo self-driving robotaxi goes rogue with passenger inside, escapes support staff

Peter Ford

The problem here is not enough cones - the US (and most of the world outside of the UK) is not very good at marking temporary road layout changes.

In the UK any significant road working is surrounded by an army of cones, signs, flashing lights, and usually vehicles parked at the ends of the work areas. A self-driving car would not even consider trying to get into that lane if it was properly marked off.

Traffic lights, who needs 'em? Lucky Kentucky residents up in arms over first roundabout

Peter Ford

Re: Great Idea BUT sh*t implementation

Further to that, where I am in Kent there are many smaller lanes that work as short cuts and alternative routes, but around March/April there is a rash of road resurfacing (presumably something to do with budget needing to be used or newly available).

So they put up a sign saying 'ROAD CLOSED AHEAD'. But that could mean:

'The road you are on is closed just around the corner',

'The road that turns off this road that you were not planning on using is closed',

'This road is closed about five miles past the last alternative route you could have taken'


'The road was closed yesterday but we forgot to remove this sign'

Pizza and beer night out the window, hours trying to sort issue, then a fresh pair of eyes says 'See, the problem is...'

Peter Ford

The fresh eyes were my own...

In my first flirt with system admin, while doing my PhD, I was in charge of a bunch of HP workstations. My supervisor had shown me the office and said 'See those cartons? That's your computers: unpack them, set them up and manage them for the group while your doing your research on them'.

Some time later I was upgrading the OS: HP-UX something - it was a fairly major upgrade step and needed a complete fresh install from CD. So I set it going and entered some basic settings (network, time, stuff like that), sat for an hour or so while it all copied into place and then rebooted. Nothing. Didn't want to start.

So back to square one. Clean start, load from CD again, enter settings, wait, reboot. Nope.

So it's getting late, I'm getting tired. I'm sure there's something I've got wrong, but I can't work it out so I run through again. Nope.stage

Right, tired, hungry. Give up and go home for sleep.

Next day, after a decent sleep and some breakfast, I go back in and sit down in front of the machine and start again. I'm entering those details again, and realise that every time I'd been asked for the system time in the set-up process the night before, I'd been entering the wrong year, and when the boot process checked the license the computer thought it was last year...

Comcast to impose 1.2TB-a-month broadband download limits across more of America from next year

Peter Ford

Re: 1.2TB a Month??

It's about 1.2 XBox games as far as I can tell...

Microsoft sides with Epic over Apple developer ban, supports motion for temporary restraining order

Peter Ford

Re: Cynical

That's true, but you also need have a fairly recent Apple computer to run XCode and compile iOS apps, and ideally at least one fairly recent iPhone to test it on: some things don't work in the Simulator they provide, notably (in this context) in-app payments.

So you can add that to your developer tax: for Android any old PC and landfill phone will get you started

Peter Ford

Re: Cynical

As far as I can tell, you *can* use another way to get the funds, buy you must not charge less than the app store price, and you can't tell the Apple users that the other way exists...

Epic Games gets itself epically banned, launches epic Fortnite death match with Apple over App Store's epic 30% cut

Peter Ford

Not quite straightforward...

As far as I can tell from Apple's Ts&Cs, there is no block on selling features for an iOS app outside of the Apple Store, but you cannot sell for less than you do in the Apple Store. You also can't tell people that there is an alternative payment option within the app or any connected marketing (you can't have a link in the app, or the Apple Store description text, to your website where you could purchase the same thing at the same price.) That appears to include selling the Android version of the same thing.

So Apple say Epic are breaking the rules by discounting the purchases (and advertising it). If that's not the definition of 'anti-competitive practices' then I don't know what is...

One approach (which is probably what most smaller developers do) is use Apple's pricing tiers to ensure that there is still profit after Apple take their cut, and then enjoy the greater profit when the features are bought outside of the Apple walled garden if they can somehow surreptitiously persuade users to do that...

Microsoft confirms pursuit of TikTok after Satya Nadella chats to Donald Trump

Peter Ford

Better still...

... troll Trump on Teams and get him to ban Microsoft : the whole world (well, except China) will benefit from that

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

Peter Ford

The SMB I still work for had Gateway2000 machines in the 90s when I joined - I got a new one in it's cow box when I started. I seem to remember them being made in Ireland, or was that just the european HQ?

At least one of them was later repurposed as a server laid on it's side in a rack, although it needed some packing to accomodate the curved sides of the case...

Elite name on Brit scene sponsors retro video games preservation project at the Centre for Computing History

Peter Ford

Re: Screenshot

The screen split wasn't that hard to do - one of the magazines at the time had an article with a demo done in assembler that did much the same thing. Revs used the same trick to get the track view and dashboard in different screen modes - that might have been a Braben game too...