* Posts by David Roberts

1464 posts • joined 25 Jan 2007

Utilitarian, long-bodied Nokia 5.3 has budget basic specs - but it does cost £150

David Roberts


Some things which are non-payment but very useful rely on NFC.

For example I sometimes wear a Freestyle Libre glucose monitor on my arm, and use the phone to read it using NFC.

There will always be some application needing a minority function on a phone.

[Or only working under Windows.]

Just glad this article prompted me to remember that not all modern phones have NFC.

Contemplating an upgrade at the moment.

Uber forks out $4.4m to settle claims of rampant sexual harassment and retaliation in the Travis Kalanick era

David Roberts


How much of the total payout went to the lawyers?

Want to live long and prosper? Avoid pirated, malware-laden Star Wars free vid streams – and pay to watch instead

David Roberts

Live Linux distro?

If you just want to try and watch dodgy streams of dodgy movies, why not just fire up Linux from a Live CD or a memory stick?

I am assuming that most malware won't find anything to infect.

Or are they just phishing for people who are too low tech to grasp the concept?

There should be a market for a "safe streamer" where you just load the CD/DVD or memory stick and torrent away.

I'm waiting for it to take off then releasing some fake "safe streamer" devices at budget prices.

ACLU sues America's border cops: Tell us everything about these secret search teams targeting travelers

David Roberts

I wonder if this is why

Air NZ have ceased flying from the UK via the USA?

Possibly people would prefer not to fly through the USA, not because they have anything to hide but because the last thing you want on a massively long haul flight is to worry about your phone, tablet, laptop being siezed and your journey being interrupted for arbitrary reasons.

Asian routes seem far more civilised at the moment.

London's Westminster Council wins appeal against phonebooth-cum-massive-digital-advert

David Roberts

Pay Phone?

Did nobody else notice that the phone part was so insignificant to the revenue stream that phone calls are free?

If the supposed main purpose of this is a payphone then why don't you have to pay for the phone calls?

Pay. Phone. Perhaps the clue is in the name?

Can it even be classed as a payphone if you don't have to pay?

Then again I almost never make or receive phone calls on my "mobile phone".

The IoT wars are over, maybe? Amazon, Apple, Google give up on smart-home domination dreams, agree to develop common standards

David Roberts
Big Brother

Which version of IP?

Presumably V6 so each device is uniquely identified and can connect directly to Big Brother.

Someone get Greenpeace on the line. Boffins clock carbon 'pollution' cloud 30,000 light-years wide choking galaxies

David Roberts

Dark Matter?

Carbon is black. At least, carbon black is.

That is pretty damn dark.

So - dark matter!





I wonder which pocket the Nobel Prize is in?

Why is the printer spouting nonsense... and who on earth tried to wire this plug?

David Roberts

SMTP mains adaptors?

I didnt realise they made mail servers that small.







Perhaps Switched Mode Power Supplies?

Still, multiple use acronyms are all the rage these days.

Americans should have strong privacy-protecting encryption ...that the Feds and cops can break, say senators

David Roberts

Dumb, but not THAT dumb!

There seems to be a lot of technical superiority being bandied about, on the lines of "How dumb these politicians are. They don't even know that what they are demanding is impossible!".

Consider for a moment that they are probably not as dumb as all that. They have access to technologists who can use simple words to convey simple concepts. A lot of them are lawyers which points the finger towards morality not stupidity.

So why do they keep demanding "Back doors for the good guys only!" coupled with a Think of The Children and Paedo narrative.

If Law Enforcement fails to stop terrorists and paedophiles then this is ultimately the fault of the Government who hold responsibility for the funding and governance of Law Enforcement.

However if these hipster technologists from California block Law Enforcement because "technobabble" then they are obviously to blame, not the Government.

Consider that in the UK a terrorist was released from prison and not even monitored because, as far as we can tell, Probation Services, the Courts, and the Police are all seriously under resourced and under funded. Shambles is probably an appropriate word in this context.

How is breakable encryption going to magically cure that?

It is cheaper to find a scapegoat than pay money to fix the obvious problems.

Anyone familiar with IT projects and products will recognise the strategy.

Where's the money, Lebowski?! UK data watchdog says £7m in fines unpaid since 2015

David Roberts

Re: Another useless watchdog

Well, "take them to court and send them down" is running 2-3 years behind schedule at the moment, allegedly, mainly due to lack of funding for the courts.

So plenty of time to re-offend enough times to get the dosh to skip the country.

T-Mobile US hacked, Monero wallet app infected, public info records on 1.2bn people leak from database...

David Roberts

Re: Depends on what "allow" means

Wonderful resource for the constabulary to augment the take from all the CCTV installations.

Beardy biologist's withering takedown of creationism fetches $564,500 at auction

David Roberts

Re: Darwin, top bloke.

Sadly, intelligence is not a guaranteed inheritance factor.

Granted that below average intelligence kids are more likely to maximise their potential if they have intelligent parents.

Controversies aren't Boeing away for aircraft maker amid claims of faulty oxygen systems and wobbling wings

David Roberts

If Boeing went bust......

The whole airline industry would be in deep shit because of the loss of production capacity.

Does the USA do nationalisation of key industries?

If not, how would you keep production going?

I suppose Amazon, Microsoft and Google could form a consortium to take Boeing over and implement their core business values.

Thank you. The one with the train tickets in the pocket, please.

Leeds IT bloke pleads guilty to hacking Jet2 CEO's email account

David Roberts

Someone doing a security audit?

And found that there were connections to the email account from unexpected sources?

As others have said, there seems to have been no attemp to exploit the access for gain.

Just someone making themselves feel special because they have secrets?

If so, sad rather than dangerous.

Remember the Uber self-driving car that killed a woman crossing the street? The AI had no clue about jaywalkers

David Roberts

Re: Reasonable defaults - instinctive swerve

The instinctive swerve when encountering a fast moving unclassified object is more or less built into humans.

I assume is is part of the evolutionary threat model.

Advanced driving includes learning not to swerve to avoid a squirrel in the road which then results in hitting a vehicle in the other lane or a pedestrian beside the road. Or ending up in a ditch.

I wonder if the programmers were aware of this and compensated too much?


David Roberts

Re: Surely

I learned a few tips when first learning to drive.

Along with the "ball often followed by child" I also learned to look under vehicles parked at the side of the road. If you see feet there is usually also the rest of the person who may suddenly appear in the road.

If you see the end of a pram or pushchair then the pusher is likely to move out until they can see. This leaves the captive child well into harm's way.

Oh, and never trust indicators. Wait until the direction taken by the vehicle confirms the intentions of the driver. Although this is probably not part of the current AI design (looking at indicators, that is).

Child running down a front path or drive? Well away from the road but may not have working brakes.

I wonder if the macine learning has covered this sort of stuff yet?

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

David Roberts

Smart meters in the UK?

Country is already full of SMETS1 meters which are no longer smart.

Baffled by bogus charges on your Amazon account? It may be the work of a crook's phantom gadget

David Roberts

Fire Stick?

I noticed that my fire sticks advertise as WiFi devices.

Allegedly it is for the remote control.

I wonder if there is a vulnerability?

Astroboffins rethink black hole theory after spotting tiny example with its own star buddy

David Roberts

low mass quiescent non-interacting

Could it just be shy?

US Air Force inks deal with Raytheon on Windows 10 (and other) support for ARSE

David Roberts

Re: Win 10 and aircraft

Your missile is 20% to the target. 40%. 35%. 35%. 35%.

£1bn Brit court digitisation scheme would be great ... if Wi-Fi situation wasn't 'wholly inadequate'

David Roberts


I am aware that the whole Court system is drastically underfunded and has massive maintenance problems, from leaking rooves to broken lifts and closed canteens.

But WiFi - Jeez! This is a commodity item and is installed in offices, shops, cafes, homes......it just works.

How the fuck can they spend millions and not have working WiFi?

That's not long division, Timmy! China school experimented on pupils with mind-reading tech

David Roberts


All the snarking aside, perhaps there is potential for a portable brain monitor in researchin the onset and progress of dementia?

As well as detecting when staff are surfing El Reg instead of doing real work, of course.

Boffins blow hot and cold over li-ion battery that can cut leccy car recharging to '10 mins'

David Roberts

Late to the party

However some very entertaining reading.

Some rambling thoughts.

(1) Lots of conflicting calculations about grid capacity. However I didn't see anyone explicitly point out that there is an entire energy distribution network which is for the most part independant of the National Grid. ICE tankers distrbute fuel to local storage and distribution points. Assuming that the same order of magnitude of energy is required to move EVs then there needs to be a comparable spare capacity in the grid. If you watch Gridwatch on a cold dark windless winter evening you are likely to see that there is very little spare capacity at times.

(2) I can remember when there were far more petrol stations because cars had a much smaller range. Long journeys involved a fuel stop part way and we always carried a can of spare fuel just in case. Modern ICE vehicles can have a range of 500-700 miles so fewer fuel stations are needed. Old fuel stations are being built over. Perhaps we should stop this before the space is lost.

(3) By the end of the rambling power distribution argument, when it was pointed out that local parts of the grid couldn't supply the predicted demand the answer apparently was to equip every supermarket with a bank of diesel generators (or gas turbines). At this point I wondered what the justification for EVs was. Distributed less efficient fossil fuel powered generating capacity doesn't seem to be a zero carbon emission strategy.

Bet you can't guess what I'm wearing, or where I'm wearing it

David Roberts

Moving house

If you move in the same area you can keep your landline phone number (still useful at times).

It was years after we moved before we stopped getting unsolicited calls quoting our old address.

Come to think of it, we haven't had any calls quoting our new address.

That might narrow down the source a bit.

Don't look too closely at what is seeping out of the big Dutch pipe

David Roberts

What were you doing 20 years ago?

October 1999?

I assume most people were temporarily distracted from the mundane joys of pr0n by the impending Y2K.

Google ads from the po-po can prevent vengeful gamer nerds going full script kiddie – research

David Roberts

I always do what Teddy says

Someone has been reading Harry Harrison.


Remember the Democratic National Committee email leak? Same hackers now targeting EU countries, say malware boffins

David Roberts
Thumb Up


For when you have to duke it out.

Microsoft Surface Pro X: Windows on Arm usable at long last – but, boy, are you gonna pay for it

David Roberts

Re: Hmm interesting? Word and Excel?

I don't use them, but i do use Libre Office.

So the computing requirement is much the same.

Much of the business world still uses documents and spreadsheets.

Also (often W7) computers.

Deus ex hackina: It took just 10 minutes to find data-divulging demons corrupting Pope's Click to Pray eRosary app

David Roberts

Hail Marys

No worries.

Theyve got the kit to automate it.

David Roberts

Re: I must Confess


Surely very effable as in "It costs effing how much?".

Let's see what the sweet, kind, new Microsoft that everyone loves is up to. Ah yes, forcing more Office home users into annual subscriptions

David Roberts

Re: Use LibreOffice instead

Late response, but who said anything about web sites?

Pamphlets laid out in ".pub" files.

David Roberts

Re: Use LibreOffice instead

Easy for you to say.

Nobody so far has mentioned a couple of minor downsides.

(1) LibreOffice doesn't play nicely with all Word features. Collaboration doesn't always work well. I have had major issues with automatic numbering, where paragraph (and other) numbers are different in Office and LibreOffice. Document reviews can be "interesting".

(2) Office includes Publisher and although there are some programs which claim to work(ish) with ".pub" files i haven't managed to achieve this so far.

As a non-employed person who works (in a volunteer capacity) with employed people who are in large Microsoft shops this causes me major problems.

I also work with someone (again in a voluntary capacity) who bought a used PC with Office, and who has presumably worked with Office all their life. In a sales background. So fancy use of Excel and Publisher and minimal ability to learn alternatives.

I am seriously considering buying a copy of Office because life is too short for all the hassle.

I just need to locate a slightly earlier version tnan 2019, preferably for multiple PCs.

An Army Watchkeeper drone tried to land. Then meatbags took over from the computers

David Roberts

Budget version?

I was going to comment that they seem to have justified purchasing drones because everyone else uses them, and then cut some important options out to "save money". In the fine tradition of Defence spending.

However the army vs airforce discussion upstream suggests that they may just have gone "Why would we need that?".

BT boss warns 16-min walk from current HQ to new London base 'just the tip of the iceberg'

David Roberts

One of the big problems with pensions

Was that the scheme was set up to cater for a workforce of around 225,000 which could pay the small number of pensioners out of current income.

Each "downsizing" increases the number of pensioners (if taking early retirement), does not reduce the number of future pensioners, but does reduce the number of workers paying into the pension schemes.

If they slung the proceeds of the property sales into the various pension schemes to clear the deficits that would possibly give a better balance sheet in the long term.

Long term? Who am I kidding?

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

David Roberts


In my limited experience, computing in the '70s was a fine example of equal opportunity employment, with programmers, systems analysts and Ops staff having a healthy gender mix.

David Roberts

Obvious conclusion

Having worked in Computer Centres I suspected, very early in the story, that a raised floor would feature somewhere.

Like in the TV detective programmes where they scatter clues about and you feel good about solving the crime before the star charchter.

'Cockwomble' is off the menu: Uncle Bulgaria issues edict against using name in vain

David Roberts

Context is everything.

The "Mohammed" quote could easily be repurposed to shouting "Jesus" outside a Latino school.

Or shouting "Kylie, Jason" for a certain age group and demographic.

I assume the implication in the context was that the place was overrun by bloody foreigners/people not of a chosen favourite religion or whatever.

The danger, obviously, is to use a quote with some underlying logic in a context which makes you accept the biased conclusion.

Too hot to handle? Raspberry Pi 4 fans left wondering if kit should come with a heatsink

David Roberts

What you need

Is a great big tin box with fans and space to mount all your Pis and run the cables.

Make one neat package instead of lots of little boxes dwarfed by the cables.

Now i wonder what i have lying around?

God DRAM you! Prices to slide more than 40% in 2019 because chip makers can't forecast

David Roberts
Paris Hilton

Is this the year

When SSDs finally cost compete with spinning rust?

Or should I just stuff the PCs with extra RAM?

Carolina coward fesses up: I was a tech support scambag, and I made millions out of defrauding the elderly

David Roberts

Re: Only one count? male rape?

There seems to be a lot of relish for male rape as an integral part of a prison sentence.

Probably says something about the posters.

It also ignores the subset of the population who enjoy anal sex and are thus, presumably, getting a less onerous (perhaps even enjoyable) sentence.

Where's the Bubba icon?

Brit Parliament online orifice overwhelmed by Brexit bashers

David Roberts
Paris Hilton

Would it be wrong of me

To consider voting for a second or subsequent time if the total rose above 10 million?

Strangely enough I have more than one email address and I know more than one postcode.

It might be a little undemocratic, but the temptation to scare Andrea Loathesome would be strongl

Artificial Intelligence: You know it isn't real, yeah?

David Roberts

Data Regurgitation

Just a tool for summarising a large amount of data.

Not a tool for making logical decisions based on the data.

Use an 8-char Windows NTLM password? Don't. Every single one can be cracked in under 2.5hrs

David Roberts

Re: correcthorsebatterystaple

Struggling with some of the assumptions here.

For instance if you know that the passphrase is composed of dictionary words spelled correctly then you can calculate the time to brute force based on using all the dictionary words and gradually building up the length and complexity.

However if you don't know then presumably you also have to brute force a string of random characters to the same password length. Possibly some of the examples assume that the first thing you do is a dictionay attack (but to what length of characters?) followed by a random character brute force.

I think that this was what the XKCD example was based on - making remembering long strings of characters easier.

If, for instance, you picked one set of 5 non-dictionary characters, say xf-r@, and inserted this into all your password strings then possibly a dictionary based attack would fail. Again I assume this is some of the point of requiring punctuation in a password.

I would be interested in the entropy of, for example, correcthorsexf-r@batterystaple given that you don't know that it is mainly a dictionary based phrase and you don't know the length or location of the non-dictionary string.

It is easy to work backwards if you know the answer. Assume you don't know the answer for a more accurate result, perhaps?

Banking in 2019: Sure, we'd recommend TSB's online, mobe banking say cowed customers

David Roberts

Is the software useable?

Tough call, but if I had to chose between a bank with user friendly software but occasional bouts of poor reliabilty or a bank with rock solid reliability and software which had me screaming at the screen every time i tried to use it then I'd probably suck up the unreliability and focus on the good UI.

Lookig at you, HSBC.

Crypto crash leads to inventory pile-up at Nvidia, sales slaughtered

David Roberts
Paris Hilton

Watching UHD TV?

This article prompted me to look for a card which will allow me to watch UHD output on my TV.

This doesn't seem to feature in the general selection criteria. Apparently you only need a high resolution card if you are a gamer.

Perhaps this is a non-issue because most current generation cards support UHD output?

I am idly wondering about a UHD monitor but it would have to be significantly larger than my HD monitor for me to be able to read text when using the full resolution. Upping the default font size doesn't seem much point. I currently have two monitors on my main system which works well for me (full HD landscape and lower res smaller portrait) so I think I would need a screen the width of the two combined to get the same usable real estate. Then up a bit more to make text readable again.

However without looking at UHD monitors it is difficult to visualise.

Return of the audio format wars and other money-making scams

David Roberts

Jusr reminded me

I have a mini disc recorder for my component stereo stack resting idly in the loft.

Bought in a sale with the plan to digitise all my vinyl. I think I managed to record one album before becoming bored and distracted,

It must have been a while back since burningto CD seems the obvious option.

Yay, we got a B for maths. Literally, a bee: Little nosy nectar nerds smart enough to add, abstract numbers

David Roberts

Re: Some summers ago

How..errr...cheep of you?

Are you a Windows 1 in 10 (1809)? Or a mighty 80 percenter (1803)?

David Roberts

Not sure about all the hate for W8.1 and W10.

I'm mainly running W7 x64 but I do have a laptop running 8.1 which is fine, and recently inherited an all-in-one running W10 which seems to be happy just doing stuff.

I suspect that 99% of end users have no issues and it is only the deeply (anally?) techie types who care.

My main concern recently is the broken W7 update thst screws network sharing.

At some point I'm going to have to upgrade, although I'm tempted to move W7 to W8.1 if that is still an available option. A long time since i did the clean installs on the low cost upgrades from Vista.

Canadians moot methods to embiggen moose monument and make Mac great again

David Roberts

Don't want to go too big.

Elk and safety, and all that.

Openreach to heap faster broadband on UK's media-heavy hubs

David Roberts

Some time ago

There was a flurry of activity, manhole covers were lifted, ducts cleaned out and new connectors appeared on the top of poles.

All part of the fibre rollout we were told.

Still no sign of anyone stringing fibre for those last few yards to the houses.

Just as well we have Virgin.


Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2020