* Posts by Peter Ford

330 posts • joined 13 Jul 2007


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...

Mind the airgap: Why nothing focuses the mind like a bit of tech antiquing

Peter Ford

Re: At a loss

If you turn off the wi-fi you then can't work for the howls of anguish coming from the kids...

Oh, you meant turn off the wifi on the laptop?

Hey is trying a new take on email – but maker complains of 'outrageous' demands after Apple rejects iOS app

Peter Ford

Re: Not very smart

'Or maybe offer in-app purchases with a 100% mark-up. People who know better will go to the website and buy the service at a discount. People who have no sense will pay both you and Apple for their cluelessness.'

Nope - Apple have that covered: they won't let you charge more for the in-app purchase than it is available for elsewhere, and they're very good at tracking that down.

I've been here myself - trying to get a subscription-based service into the App store that also has a WWW client and an Android version. The whole pricing structure for our subscriptions is constrained by the requirements Apple set. That 30% is just something you have to include as a cost centre if you're a small business, apparently.

Microsoft's little eyes light up as Oscar-winning Taika Waititi says Apple keyboards make him 'want to go back to PCs'

Peter Ford

Re: Ermmm, they have USB ports you know.

Yeah, but the f***ing " is still on @ and | is on # and # is an option-modifier (sorry, left-alt) away...

I have one USB keyboard with Apple layout but I now have a Mac mini too and forgot to order a keyboard for it...

We've found it... the last shred of human decency in an IT director – all for a poxy Unix engineer

Peter Ford

Re: Champagne

My wife and I once drank a magnum of Moët from pint glasses because they were the first glasses we found after we had just finished unloading the removal van. We didn't get much further with the unpacking...

I've had it with these motherflipping eggs on this motherflipping train

Peter Ford

Re: On the other hand...

Tobermory harbour has coin-operated showers available for sailors. Probably cheaper than using the pub: what you save might pay for more than one whisky...

Heads up from Internet of S*!# land: Best Buy's Insignia 'smart' home gear will become very dumb this Wednesday

Peter Ford

That review...

"I would look at another brand that is more invested in their product"

Good luck with findin gone of those...

Margin mugs: A bank paid how much for a 2m Ethernet cable? WTF!

Peter Ford

Re: Not just business

My response to them selling me insurance is something along the lines of

"So you want me to bet £X/month that this (TV|PC|Toaster) will break in the next two years? If the product is really that bad why do you sell it?"

If they can work out what I've just said then they stop trying to sell it to me. Otherwise I find that repeating the word 'NO' eventually soaks in.

And in any case, the (TV|PC|Toaster) will break just after the warranty has (would have) expired.

GIMP open source image editor forked to fix 'problematic' name

Peter Ford

Re: Dick

Hey - my daughter Amy is an A Ford - what's wrong with that?

Apparently I was destined to be Peter Craig Ford until my parents realised that P.C. was a poor choice of initials (at least in the UK)

I know of a family who named their daughter N.O. Chance

Worse is that she has an aunt who is Miss A. Chance

I collaborated on a project at one time with a client who's rep was called Jenny Taylor - I had to explain my childish snigger to my PM after the first meeting...

And as for Mr. & Mrs. King calling their son Wayne...

Electric cars can't cut UK carbon emissions while only the wealthy can afford to own one

Peter Ford

Re: I actually own one

Given that the RX-8 would be second-hand, then you should really compare second-hand prices for a Model S - but that's still £30000+ so the point stands,,,

Rise of the Machines hair-raiser: The day IBM's Dot Matrix turned

Peter Ford

Re: Try a Lathe

There's a reason why Police Officers (and most schoolkids these days) wear clip-on ties...

Guy is booted out of IT amid outsourcing, wipes databases, deletes emails... goes straight to jail for two-plus years

Peter Ford

Re: on the theory that some data might be on that but not yet in the backup

I had a RAID6 fail with three drives dying in quick succession - I suspect the first chucked up some nasty vibrations in its death throes that took out the two next to it...

And it was on Christmas Eve...

Still, the on-site backups worked well enough to get me through to the New Year on a reduced array (and a couple of hot spare machines) until I could get hands on to sort it out...

Got an 'old' Tesla? Musk promises 'self-driving' upgrade chip ship by end of 2019

Peter Ford

Forget about autonomy

It's 2019 - where's my flying car?

Seriously, autonomous flying vehicles would be a lot easier than trying to avoid all the clutter at street level.

So, vertical take-off from your driveway, fly to the nearest highway/motorway and then autonomous driving from there.

Might need some improvements in battery energy density though...

Google's Fuchsia OS Flutters into view: We're just trying out some new concepts, claims exec

Peter Ford

Re: It's BeOS, it's the OS

The "what's not to like" is in the correct pronunciation of the name: Fucks-ya ...

BOFH: What's Near Field Implementation? Oh, you'll see. Turn left here

Peter Ford


Pick Handle? fancy...

I thought the LART was a piece of 4x2 with some nails hammered through one end...

Oblivious 'influencers' work on 3.6-roentgen tans in Chernobyl after realising TV show based on real nuclear TITSUP

Peter Ford

Re: Can someone explain...

Ah, but surely everyone knew that the Sunday Sport was just Viz with a bigger budget...

Apple's tailored SwiftUI makes coding Mac and iOS apps RAD again

Peter Ford

Been using Qt to build cross-platform (Android,iOS) apps for a while - I also thought this looked a bit like QML.

It would be neat if the Qt guys could leverage this by a translation from QML to SwiftUI: one run through with a perl script instead of adding all the abstraction and implementation libraries that Qt needs to build for iOS?

If poking about Doctor Who's TARDIS in VR sounds like fun to you, better luck next time

Peter Ford

It's Children's TV

Some people around here seem to forget that...

BOFH: Tick tick BOOM. It's B-day! No we're not eating Brussels flouts...

Peter Ford

Re: My OCD is firing up

I'd refuse to eat anything but Pink Lady - with luck the cost will bankrupt the project...

Easy-to-hack combat systems, years-old flaws and a massive bill – yup, that's America's F-35

Peter Ford

the most expensive weapon system in history?

What, more than the B1B, or the B2?


Just Android things: 150m phones, gadgets installed 'adware-ridden' mobe simulator games

Peter Ford

Re: Any suggestions how to check these

In answer to my own question, with my phone (developer mode enabled) connected to my Linux PC by USB, I can grab the list into a text file (bad-andoid-packages.txt) and then

for PKG in `adb -d shell pm list packages`; do grep $PKG bad-android-packages.txt; done

which should spot any matches.

So now all I need to do is get the tablet unlocked and developer-mode-enabled, and it should be easy...

Certainly easier than watching over his shoulder every minute to spot him installing stuff he shouldn't, although I do try ...

Peter Ford

Any suggestions how to check these

My Android phone is pretty clean - there are very few apps on it and they're from fairly reliable publishers.

My son's tablet PC, though, is a different matter.

So, given the length of that list and the arcane naming of the apps, is there any obvious way to list the installed apps on the device and check it with that list? My eyeballs don't fancy an old-school eyeball grep today...

Hipster whines at tech mag for using his pic to imply hipsters look the same, discovers pic was of an entirely different hipster

Peter Ford

Re: We have surely reached peak beard.

I run Linux: I think that probably scuppers your argument...

Telecoms kit supplier shut down for carrying on work of two firms that had been... shut down

Peter Ford

Re: to summ up ...

The director connections suggest that Bradwell may not have *accidentally* done work for dodgy companies...

Team America tries to crash Little Rocket Man's Joanap botnet from within, warns owners of infected boxes

Peter Ford

That explains a lot

"the Feds can alert people who have been infected, by monitoring the IP addresses of the systems joining the network. Folks were, or will be, tipped off via their ISPs"

So that's what all the robot calls about my IP address being compromised are about...

Um, I'm not that Gary, American man tells Ryanair after being sent other Gary's flight itinerary

Peter Ford

I had two email dopplegangers using my peterford@ISP email address. One had cleary used it in the various spare-time activities he participated in (nothing dodgy) so many other people were trying to contact him using the address. I eventually noticed his middle initial and tentatively sent a message to peterxford@ISP, which turned out to be correct. he has since sorted things out with his friends, and since I ignored the flurry of GDPR messages in 2018 most of the businesses he used that address with have given up.

The other had a different spelling, rather than a middle name, which had been used on an order form. I again had enough info to guess the real address: unfortunately I left it too late to help him recover his order...

Both were polite an aplogetic (of course they were, they're British)

Astroboffins spy a rare exoplanet evaporating before their eyes

Peter Ford

That's no moon...

It's a very early prototype of the Death Star: they just haven't quite got the power output up to production levels yet...

I ship you knot: 2,400-year-old Greek trading vessel found intact at bottom of Black Sea

Peter Ford

Re: Leave it there

Or better still, an intact version of the Antikythera mechanism...

New Zealand border cops warn travelers that without handing over electronic passwords 'You shall not pass!'

Peter Ford

Re: In the near future

I cant see Apple cluttering their design with a government-mandated port in the near future...

Sysadmin misses out on paycheck after student test runs amok

Peter Ford

Re: Naming Schemes

One UK university I worked at had servers named after colours red, blue .. white, black. Then sable followed black. Then ermine followed sable. Then weasel, and possibly even wolverine. God knows where it went after that...

My own research cluster of five HP-UX workstations had gordon (the big one), and then henry, james, edward and thomas

Voyager 1 left the planet 41 years ago – and SpaceX hopes to land on Earth this Saturday

Peter Ford

Re: 3.6AU per year

As my wife has just pointed out, 3.6 isn't much more than pi, so 3.6 AU per year is only slightly faster than the speed the Earth is travelling around the sun...

Robo-drop: Factory bot biz 'leaks' automakers' secrets onto the web

Peter Ford

It's PR, and rubbish PR at that.

The correct response should be

"Ooh, bollocks: better get that fixed. Sorry Mr CIO, your bonus just got spent on some sysadmin overtime"

Priceless: The cost to BT for bothering you with spam? 1.5 UK pence per email

Peter Ford

Re: % of income

Big Corps' C-suite should be fined a % of their salaries and bonuses, with no pay increments or other rewards paid until the fine has been cleared (and perhaps a few years afterwards)

Otherwise $BIG_CORP just puts their prices up or squeezes their customers some other way to pay for the fine. You have to make the people at the top of the corporation feel the pain otherwise nothing will change...

Braking news: Tesla preps firmware fling to 'fix' Model 3's inability to stop in time

Peter Ford

Re: Bah!

ABS systems usually detect the wheel slowing down abnormally, so they can release the brake before the wheel stops, so it is entirely possible that Tesla haven't quite nailed that.

Still sounds a bit poor though...

ISP TalkTalk's Wi-Fi passwords Walk Walk thanks to Awks Awks router security hole

Peter Ford

Ralink router?

All the TalkTalk routers I've seen for years have been Huawei - doesn't mean there's not an exploit for them though...



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