* Posts by Dr. Ellen

251 posts • joined 14 Jul 2007

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New lawsuit: Why do Android phones mysteriously exchange 260MB a month with Google via cellular data when they're not even in use?

Dr. Ellen

Re: Android data robbery

I have a portable computer, which I keep in airplane mode unless I need a phone. Saves data allowance and annoyance.

H2? Oh! New water-splitting technique pushes progress of green hydrogen

Dr. Ellen
Mushroom

Even with highly educated users - if I'd had another year as an undergrad, I might have died of a bad case of hydrogen. The liquid hydrogen bubble chamber at the Cambridge Electron Accelerator blew up right next to the beamline I was working at a year earlier.

Apple seeks damages from recycling firm that didn't damage its devices: 100,000 iThings 'resold' rather than broken up as expected

Dr. Ellen
Gimp

Bondage and Discipline

You will do as Apple tells you.

Microsoft? More like: My software goes off... Azure AD, Outlook, Office.com, Teams, Authenticator, etc block unlucky folks from logging in

Dr. Ellen
Happy

Home is where the data is.

I continue to feel smug over keeping all my programs and data right on this here computer. When my data goes pflui, it'll be something I did, not something some idiot in a computer center did.

Is today's AI yesterday's software routines with better PR? We argued over it, you voted on it. And the winner is...

Dr. Ellen
WTF?

The definitions of AI aren't very reliable yet

People say "if it can play chess, it's got to be intelligent." It plays chess. People decide that isn't real intelligence and propose another test AI must meet. At this point, the history of AI consists almost entirely of moving the goalposts.

This PDP-11/70 was due to predict an election outcome – but no one could predict it falling over

Dr. Ellen
Boffin

More horizontal than an elevator -

I worked at a nuclear physics lab in the Sixties, where we had a CDC 3100 mainframe. The mains power was somewhat noisy, but the real problem was a door. It was intended to keep radiation out of the control room, and it was HEAVY - solid Ferrocrete about six feet thick. It ran on rails, and was driven by an electric motor, and every time we opened or closed the door the computer would complain bitterly. So the lab finally got a rotary converter - a motor/generator set with a decent amount of flywheelage. No matter what went into the motor, clean power came out of the generator, and everybody was happy.

First alligators, then dogs, now Basil Fawlty is trying to standardise social distancing measures

Dr. Ellen

Re: 1.1764705 Smoots

Smoots for the win. I find the British measure Fawlty.

It's been five years since Windows 10 hit: So... how's that working out for you all?

Dr. Ellen

Re: Windows 10 worked out super-great for me

I would LOVE to be able to use Linux on my computer. I've tried the current versions of Ubuntu, Debian, Linux Mint, and Zorin Linux, and not a one of them will work. Years ago, Zorin Linux worked. Then I tried a clean install of the next version, and -- nope. They all are asking for files that aren't on the distribution. And those files aren't easy to get to, without a working Linux.

As a consolation, I can use Raspbian on my Raspberry Pi, and it's based on Linux. Apparently they now have a version that can run on a PC. I'll try downloading it.

Frenchman scores €50k compensation for suffering 'bore-out' at work after bosses gave him 'menial' tasks

Dr. Ellen

Re: placardisation

I once worked for a museum that was given to the occasional Bloody Purge where they would -- release -- a third of the staff. We got a new director, whom nobody loved. He felt the same about us. Short story, they made me useless for about a year, then fired me for being useless. I remember keenly what I thought when I was given the news of my firing: "Oh wow, a vacation I don't have to come back from!"

A year later, I ran intp the girlfriend of one of the other people who had worked there. "They just fired him!" she said. "They made him useless for a year, and then just fired him."

I laughed, and laughed, and laughed, then told her: "That's just what he was saying about me, a year ago."

US Air Force wants to pit AI-powered drone against its dogfighting hotshots in battle of the skies next year

Dr. Ellen

Re: Which aircraft will the meat pilot use?

Other advantages of drones: the autopilot doesn't have to deal with pedestrians, stop signs, or white eighteen-wheelers.

Mortal wombat: 4 generations of women fight for their lives against murderous marsupial

Dr. Ellen
WTF?

Wombatnado

Long ago, I was told to collect the sounds of heartbeats for as many animals as possible. I took the electronic stethoscope and the tape recorder and went to the zoo, where I'd arranged to meet a cooperative zookeeper. Most animals were uncoooperative, but I got quite a few recordings. The two scariest animals I met were the ostrich -- and the wombat. Those beasts got claws.

Hoverbikes, Hyperloops and sub-orbital hijinks: Yes, the '3rd, 4th and 5th Dimensions of Travel' are coming soon

Dr. Ellen
Devil

Watch out for that fifth dimension. Mr. Mxyzptlk lives there.

We're in a timeline where Dettol maker has to beg folks not to inject cleaning fluid into their veins. Thanks, Trump

Dr. Ellen

Whatever you think of Trump - and the polls are split - there is one thing you cannot deny: he is NOT Hilary Clinton.

Dr. Ellen

Re: Screaming amounts of rampant twattery

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1903 was awarded to Niels Ryberg Finsen "in recognition of his contribution to the treatment of diseases, especially lupus vulgaris, with concentrated light radiation, whereby he has opened a new avenue for medical science." -- nobelprize.org

Scientists are reporting development and successful initial testing of the first practical "smart" material that may supply the missing link in efforts to use in medicine a form of light that can penetrate four inches into the human body. Their report on the new polymer or plastic-like material, which has potential for use in diagnosing diseases and engineer new human tissues in the lab, appears in ACS' journal Macromolecules. -- https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111116143049.htm

Then there are the two people from Arizona who each took a teaspoon of fish tank cleaner -- which did indeed contain chloroquine phosphate. Even if that was all that was in the tank cleaner, a teaspoon of it would be a massive overdose almost certain to kill. Nobody can speak so clearly that an idiot can't make a Darwin Award of it.

Dr. Ellen
FAIL

"Orange Man Bad!"

I wasn't there. I don't know what Trump said. You read the papers. You don't know what Trump said. All we know for sure is that whatever Trump said, the media are going to trumpet (snrk) the worst possible interpretation of it.

Commit to Android codebase suggests Google may strong-arm phone makers into using 'seamless' partitioned updates

Dr. Ellen
Facepalm

Re: And how long will Google maintain/update versions ?

I'm still using 5.1.1 on my phone. For decades I've wanted a pocket computer, and now I have one! (The keyboard ain't so great, but I can live with it.) It works. Why should I change anything? Of course I usually keep it in airplane mode, and only turn it on when I want to make a phone call, or am expecting one. It's a great pocket reader, though, holds music, and kinda works as a camera.

Still using Win7, too, and Office 2003. They work. Life can be perilous out on the bleeding edge of technology -- if I don't need it, why should I buy it?

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to save data from a computer that should have died aeons ago

Dr. Ellen
Angel

XT-286

I had a blind friend with a speech-output computer - an XT-286. (I don't know how many people have told me there is no such thing, but there was.) There was a special board that handled it all, and a special word-processing program that fed it. The manual (and the company that produced it, the program, and the board) were lost to the mists of time. I decided the easiest thing to do was simply to keep the thing running, and with the occasional part replacement it did. Worked for about thirty years, and in fact outlived the friend (may he rest in peace).

Life in plastic, with a classic: Polymer £20 notes released into wild sporting Turner art

Dr. Ellen
Devil

Offensive?

These notes contain tallow, and are therefore offensive to vegetarians, Hindus, and a whole other bunch of people. Why not do it thoroughly? Use pork fat. That way you can offend everybody.

Starliner snafu could've been worse: Software errors plague Boeing's Calamity Capsule

Dr. Ellen
FAIL

Re: Hmmm...

Boeing's problems are not all from management and/or software. What about the stray tools rattling around on the tankers they (try to) sell to the air force?

The problem is that the bosses and the workers don't live in the same building any more. Neither knows exactly what the other is doing.

Bada Bing, bada bork: Windows 10 is not happy, and Microsoft's search engine has something to do with it

Dr. Ellen
Windows

Every Cloud has a silver lining

Yet another reason to stay with Windows 7 - Microsoft has stopped improving it.

If you really can't let go of Windows 7, Microsoft will keep things secure for another three years

Dr. Ellen
Holmes

Windows 7 unpatched is better than Windows 10 for security

Office 2010 is dying? I was using Office 07 until Windows 7 came along and I migrated to Office 2003. If it does the job, why throw it out? People kept sending me DOCX files though, so I switched to LibreOffice (which could read them).

HP printer small print says kit phones home data on whatever you print – and then some

Dr. Ellen
Devil

Re: polluting the well.

When they asked me that, I told them my name was Cash - Johnny Cash. Some of them put up quite a fuss over that.

Here's to beer, without which we'd never have the audacity to Google an error message at 3am

Dr. Ellen
Pint

Re: Coding under the influence

I'm rather dependent on thyroid meds, and find beer a useful calibration device. If I drink a beer and fall asleep, I'm under-stimulated. If I start running more smoothly, I was overstimulated. Helps me maintain an even keel.

When you play the game of Big Spendy Thrones, nobody wins – your crap chair just goes missing

Dr. Ellen

Re: "disk drives the size of top-loading washing machines"

The one I sat near to was not only the size of a washing machine, it vibrated like the load was uneven.

Like using the latest version of Microsoft Office? Love Offline Files? Not for long!

Dr. Ellen
Big Brother

LibreOffice. Just saying.

Boeing boss denies reports 737 Max safety systems weren't active

Dr. Ellen

I have never flown an airplane. However, I have operated a large bit of tech with a lot of control functions and alarms. Operators NEED a switch or button to shut up the alarms, because otherwise they can't even think, let alone solve the problems. It's not so bad when one alarm goes, but when there's a cascade of problems and a cascade of horns, buzzers, honkers, and god knows what ...

Server at web host 1&1 Ionos decides to take unscheduled day off, sinks a bunch of sites

Dr. Ellen
Paris Hilton

*Somebody* at 1&1 was available on the phone.

I'm sitting here in Minnesota, not having any trouble with my site. Used it for almost twenty years. But as an interesting sidebar, they telephoned me just last Tuesday trying to talk me into upgrading.

User secures floppies to a filing cabinet with a magnet, but at least they backed up daily... right?

Dr. Ellen
Paris Hilton

Re: Well if the US ships want the Chinese to keep out of the way

The worst single day I've ever had with teaching computer (I was the only computer-literate in the place) to a secretary. She had thoroughly absorbed the lesson of the typewriter: hit return at the end of the line. No amount of demonstrating, explaining, pleading, or exhorting did any good. I gave up in despair, and went away.

An hour or two later, I was called before the Director. I had made that secretary cry. I was later told by the other people in the office that she'd asked me because she was afraid to ask the director.

Welcome your new ancestor to the Homo family tree; boffins have discovered a new tiny species of human

Dr. Ellen
Headmaster

Yet another grammar nazi

"...one of the tenants of classifications..."

A tenant rents his or her abode or place of business. A tenet is a basic rule of the subject under discussion.

Aussie engineer accuses 'serial farter' supervisor of bullying, seeks $1.8m redress

Dr. Ellen
Headmaster

Re: There ARE classical references!

They were rounding off to the nearest century.

Dr. Ellen
Mushroom

There ARE classical references!

http://mentalfloss.com/article/66345/amazing-images-classic-japanese-fart-battles

"From Japan’s Edo Period (1603-1868), there’s He-Gassen, or, “the fart war.” This centuries-old scroll, dated to approximately the 1840s, depicts an epic battle of gas between booty-baring men and women on horseback and on foot. Even a cat gets caught up in the fray at one point. The powerful gusts of human wind depicted can break through boards and traverse wide battlefields."

Only plebs use Office 2019 over Office 365, says Microsoft's weird new ad campaign

Dr. Ellen
Happy

Shot-fire, I'm still using Office 2003 (when I'm not using LibreOffice). I'd still be using Office 97, but it doesn't play well with Win7.

Accused hacker Lauri Love to sue National Crime Agency to retrieve confiscated computing kit

Dr. Ellen
Boffin

Old kit, old data

I have data on my computer that is almost forty years old. It's still valuable. I've had to go through a ridiculous number of format conversions to keep it that way. Some of it started out saved on TRS-DOS cassette tapes. Some started out on Commodore Scripsit cassette tapes. It's gone through TRS-DOS floppy disk to CP/M to MS-DOS, and I had to keep at it as the programs I used to record it went quietly into the sunset. Right now it's on a NTFS hard drive, and if I take it any further, it'll all be saved as RTF.

The thing is, I still use that data (I am, and live with, a novelist. They're word-processing files.) Some of the conversions it went through were only possible with a specific machine (Commodore 128) which was only available for a few years. If I'd missed out on that machine, the files would be gone.

So give some consideration to a bloke who wants his old kit back. Who knows how long it'll be for the files to become the digital equivalent of cuneiform? That can happen rapidly and surprisingly.

Sure, you can keep Grandpa Windows 7 snug in the old code home – for a price

Dr. Ellen
Devil

Re: Updating to Windows 10

I have drive docks on my desktop PC. When the windows "update" was free, I cloned my hard drive onto another hard drive, then got Windows 10 on it. I can use either, without them screwing up the guts of the other. I keep them both up-to-date, but hardly ever *use* Win10. I don't know from dogs' breakfasts (I'm a cat person) but Win10 has some similarity to cat urp.

The Large Hadron Collider is small beer. Give us billions more for bigger kit, say boffins

Dr. Ellen
Pint

Re: Dark matter/energy question

There's a filk song (Science Fiction Fandom version of folk) called "Radiation Blues".

Old H-bomb went off last Tuesday, by the Second Chance Saloon.

Ain't nothin' left but the jukebox, and it's playin' a mournful tune.

Just keeps on playin' the Radiation Blues.

Been drinkin' since last Tuesday, and I should be getting high,

But the dehydration's got me, and all I am is dry.

Just keep on singing the Radiation Blues.

There's a lot more of it, sung to the tune of "Frankie and Johnny". I have the lyrics somewhere, but I'm not going to search a filing cabinet and my storage for it.

Douglas Adams was right, ish... Super-Earth world clocked orbiting 'nearby' Barnard's Star

Dr. Ellen

Re: Getting a proble there?

The Parker Solar Probe holds the current speed record -- at a 15-million-mile perihelion, it was going 213,200 miles per hour. (This is a bit over .0003 c.) It will get closer, and faster, each time it goes by (using planetary gravity assists). At closest planned approach, it will be 3.9 million miles away, which should bring its speed MUCH higher. But it's only doing that because it's very close to the Sun, and if you'd try to use that velocity to get to Barnard's star, it simply wouldn't be there. The probe would use it up trying to get away from our Sun.

Happy 60th birthday, video games. Thank William Higinbotham for your misspent evenings

Dr. Ellen
Thumb Up

Re: Spacewar

I played Spacewar on the PDP-1 at MIT, in '62 or '63. (The TX-0, which could be thought of as the ur-PDP, was in the same room. Next door was a paper-tape teletype which somebody had taught to play tic-tac-toe.) It was so much fun I ported it to the CDC-3100 at the university of Minnesota. There's an online emulator at https://www.masswerk.at/spacewar/minnesota/.

Facebook sued for exposing content moderators to Facebook

Dr. Ellen
Big Brother

The 1%

I've been a museum curator for several decades (now retired) and I estimate 90% of the visitors are very nice people. 9% are rather clumsy, and might break things. And 1% are pure brass reciprocating bastards who shouldn't have been allowed in the door. This is only a rough estimate, and I suspect social media has more of the reciprocating sort.

That's why I don't go on Facebook or Twitter.

Everybody dance now: Watch this AI code fool friends into thinking you can cut a rug like a pro

Dr. Ellen
Childcatcher

Hands-Off

Definite problem with the hands, especially near the face.

Brain brainiacs figure out what turns folks into El Reg journos, readers

Dr. Ellen
Pint

Pessimist? No.

I am not a pessimist. I am paranoid. My major jobs have required paranoia.

I ran and helped maintain a large Van de Graaf generator. It had high voltages all over the place. Bad things could happen if those voltages got loose. The machine even gave me electric shocks when I wasn't careful to keep me alert.

And then I joined the museum world. Let me put it straight: entropy is out to get your stuff. Your job is to find all the ways entropy can get in, and block them.

As for the glass being half full, or half empty? Forget it. The glass is twice as large as it needs to be to handle the drink.

Boss helped sysadmin take down horrible client with swift kick to the nether regions

Dr. Ellen

Re: Magical policing

So all the Little Old Lady needed was a bit of exorcise?

Cosmic prang probe: Euro space boffins to smash sats, virtually

Dr. Ellen

The experiment could be in space, and still not cause permanent debris. Simply have two satellites, aimed carefully at a convenient very-low-orbit crashpoint over the Pacific Spacecraft Graveyard. The immediate debris would make a lovely display, which could be examined for trajectory, brightness and spectrum. That'd give a rough idea of what came out of the crash, size and material and all. Of course there would be things that headed out - but it's an orbit. They'll be back, to very-low-orbit. The whole mess would decay rapidly into the atmosphere, and we'd know where to watch for it.

Windows 10 to force you to use Edge, even if it isn't default browser

Dr. Ellen
Mushroom

What? More Windows 10 bumf?

I don't plan on using Windows 10, but Microsoft plans on my using it. They seem to think they're in charge. Google has redefined "evil". Apple is just as bad, and twice as expensive. I hope Linux doesn't catch the disease ....

Developer mistakenly deleted data - so thoroughly nobody could pin it on him!

Dr. Ellen
Boffin

And now for something completely different:

I had an inverse experience of this sort. Way back in the 1960s, I had a night shift on the CDC 3100. (It had a magnificent 12K of 24-bit words!) It wedged. Nothing I could do made it work again. Frustrated, I began pouring curse-words into the console typewriter. Somewhere in all this foulness I must have done something right, because it began working again -- properly. The digital gods answered my prayer.

They really shouldn't stick grad students with the night shift, but I came out okay that time.

Rhode Island proposes $20 porn tax. Er, haven't we heard this before?

Dr. Ellen

This would be good advertising for VPNs.

The e-waste warrior, 28,000 copied Windows restore discs, and a fight to stay out of jail

Dr. Ellen
Devil

Re: Oh, come on

In my early days with frameworks, they were hammertone grey. Later, they became beige. These days, legal frameworks are indisputably green.

Can't wait to get to Mars on a SpaceX ship? It's a cold, dead rock – boffins

Dr. Ellen
Go

Re: Start of a retraction

The problem with Jupiter's larger moons? First, they have their own gravity wells. Second, they are well within Jupiter's gravity well. Third, they are much further away than Mars. It'd take a lot of delta-V to get whatever you were mining to any Terrestrial point-of-sale. The moon and Mars are less habitable than Antarctica, but we do have bases in Antarctica. And you'd need a lot less delta-V to get to the asteroid belt from these smaller worlds. So have robots doing the grunt work -- but it might be wise to have humans there to repair the robots. Both Mars and the moon seem to have enough water to mine for fuel.

Besides, there are research opportunities. The far side of the moon has good radio silence, and lots of the time, no light pollution whatever. Mars is further out, so it'd be useful for VLBI and parallax studies. And liveable or not, they have raw materials to support the studies.

PACK YOUR BAGS! Two Trappist-1 planets have watery oceans, most likely to be inhabitable

Dr. Ellen

Re: Food chain

Habitable, inhabitable -- same confusion as flammable, inflammable. English is a crazy language, but it sure has a lot of words. It can afford redundancy.

Feds may have to explain knowledge of security holes – if draft law comes into play

Dr. Ellen
Big Brother

Re: Yeah, Right

And when they're caught not-doing-it, nothing bad will happen to them. Pity what happened to that whistleblower, though.

1 in 5 STEM bros whinge they can't catch a break in tech world they run

Dr. Ellen

Re: If women are REALLY "equal"...

I don't think you DID read Bambi's comment right, though Bambi could have presented the comments more effectively. The argument was that men and women do not have the same capabilities; the mistake was in using examples involving superior male performance. I don't think anybody feels women would make better weightlifters -- but in my experience, women make better psychologists and doctors. Your mileage may vary, but I doubt it would vary enough that you would assemble a 50/50 Olympics weightlifting team.

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