* Posts by Del Merritt

68 publicly visible posts • joined 11 May 2006


Homer Simpson speaks out on satnavs

Del Merritt

Do you have any C[hl]eese?

The only other voice I've purchased for my TomTom is John Cleese - "Bear right, beaver left" - but this is certainly tempting. Then again, there are some lovely lasses' voices that are high on my list and came free with the unit...

Obama urged to halt Google government takeover

Del Merritt

the paradox

When I worked in the private sector for a government contractor, the cry was often, "we really need smart people in government". The issue, of course, is that Gov't pay is relatively lousy (though that may be changing with healthcare costs) and so the private sector was left selling to "not as smart people". Of course, there are always exceptions for all sorts of reasons, but that was the perception.

So on one hand we want smart, experienced people in charge of government, and on the other, we don't want people from the private sector to be in positions that suggest conflict of interest.

Perhaps the letter of Obama's goal is naive. Unfortunately, he and his administration leave themselves open to critics who see the pair of dueling needs. I hope and wish that BHO can see that Google isn't teh sole source of know3dge today anymore than Micro$oft was a decade ago. Smart people abound. Just look around a bit more.

David Carradine found dead in Bangkok

Del Merritt
Dead Vulture

Take the pebbles from my hand

RIP, Grasshopper. Oh, and be careful in your final race...

(tombstone for reasons other than the one El Reg suggests, of course.)

Researchers poke holes in super duper SSL

Del Merritt


And who here tells NoScript to allow google-analytics? Not I.

Interweb Chuck Norris infiltrates Netflix, Tivo

Del Merritt

Scarily cool

Very slick. NoScript and Adblock were of no help there.

Firefox exploit sends Mozilla into 'high-priority fire drill' mode

Del Merritt

@AC -> @Andy Bright

"Remember, some sites have sniffers and just fail to display anything if you're not running javascript (or they display "helpful" instructions on how to turn it on). I tend to ignore these as pretentious, but every now and again, you do need to look at them..."

I really appreciate the sites that say, "You can view stuff here without JavaScript, but if you want to use our secure payment system to buy, you'll need to enable it." So if I'm willing to trust them with my money in the first place, I'm OK with them doing JavaScripting for form validation and all that. I wish I didn't have to open it up in all-or-nothing, but that's the slippery slope of allowing someone else's code to run on your computer.

The sites that present nothing - or, worse, silently fail during a payment transaction when JavaScript is off - really irk me.

Did TomTom test Microsoft's Linux patent lock-down?

Del Merritt


So doesn't this open the door to someone offering either a service that converts FAT flash cards/devices into ext[23]? Sure, some devices will fail because their own firmware is FAT-dependent, but won't some do just swell?

Study: Girls still not swarming into sci-tech, dammit

Del Merritt

other factors?

'k, I haven't read the full report - yet - so: what about other factors? E.g., if you are the youngest child and female, and your older siblings are all male (and optionally geekily inclined), are you more likely to be a PhD in Math than if you were the eldest, female, and all your sibs were male?

It's a literary stereotype; has anyone done the numbers on it?

No Android launch at MWC, says Samsung

Del Merritt


I hope El Reg will do a review on this soon:


I expect they'll include a tea-pod; an obvious oversight in the presentation.

Send old Shuttles to Mars, says Scotty ashes prang man

Del Merritt

he's loosely tethered, alright

With over six billion people on the world, I suspect there's plenty who would volunteer. Look at all the Survivor entrants. And it's possible some of them would even be "qualified".

But the tethering scheme is pretty dodgy. Not impossible, perhaps, but we're still trying to figure how to predict the interaction of tethered bodies.

If the payload bay of the shuttles is full of parachutes, would there be any room for provisions? Maybe it would be better if the astronuts[sic] involved wore the para-shirts and landed via sky diving. Hey! They could leave the shuttles in orbit and descend to the surface via tether, using the para-shirts as air-brakes!

Sign me up!

Boffins crack secret of dolphins' aquatic prowess

Del Merritt

Watch out where the huskies go...

... at least that's what first popped into my mind at the phrase "mush force". Which is sort of relevant, after all, doggone it.

Google Analytics — Yes, it is a security risk

Del Merritt
Black Helicopters

NoScript remains your friend

As a long-term NoScript user, I have avoided giving Google scripts much play. Since I give *any*, I supposed I'm still screwed, but I do avoid giving Google-analytics any freedom to roam. The one exception: when I was trying to view the Obama web site. I could see *nothing* without enabling a whole host of crapola.

Sad. Perhaps when he gets the man who invented the internet - or perhaps Mr. Hat from xkcd - on his S&T team things will turn around.

Do no evil. Right. Now what's that loud "whump whump whump" noise I hear getting closer....

Endeavour crew set for ISS gig

Del Merritt

Re: Big can of WD40 and a smack with a hammer?

Yes, as it turns out:


Carmack's rocket wins $350,000 in mock moon mission

Del Merritt

no flash?

Hmm. Usually my Firefox sees images and videos on El Reg. But not these. I do have the latest Adobe blehware installed on my CentOS 5 system, and teh latest Firefox too.

I am sad.

McCain begs for YouTube DMCA takedown immunity

Del Merritt

A spoon full of sugar...

... won't make their own medicine go down any easier. Fair is fair. With some exposure - on both sides - to the teeth side of the silly law(s), at least they can no longer plead ignorance.

And there's always this: http://xkcd.com/488/

Adobe cites bad blood for closed Flash

Del Merritt

And now: free downloads!

Order before midnight tonight, and get a free ice-crusher:


No more holier-than-though attitudes, please.

Mine's the one with the Unexpected Access Ways...

BOFH: Remote access malarkey

Del Merritt


I liked the Olde Waye of BOFH showing up as a news piece. But I confess that I did see this edition in its new location and guise.

I don't know - new El Reg and New Facebook in the same week. Next thing that will happen is a new Google. Hmm.

History shaped Google's Trojan Horse

Del Merritt

@Ryan: you almost had me...

When you said, "I am running chrome now and something I have noticed is it is alot quicker alot moe stable", I could buy that, but then you added, "and alot more secure than Mozilla Firefox".

Um, how did you prove this? Speed and reliability are both things "anyone" can see in a short period of use. But security? Sorry, that wrapped the B.S. meter as a standalone.

No, I haven't read the Gomic that introduces Chrome. So perhaps they make it clear why Chrome should be more secure. But any browser - including FF - that allows users to install 3rd party add-ons simply can't be 100% secure.

45th Mersenne prime discovered (possibly)

Del Merritt

I think 9 < 10 is still true

"the 44th Mersenne prime is 232,582,657-1, which works out to be 9,808,358 decimal digits long.... The 45th Mersenne prime may qualify for a $100,000 prize ... to anyone who discovers a prime number with at least 10 million digits."

Um, last time I looked, 9 is less than 10, and by standard mathematical rules, 9 *million* (and change) is still less than 10 *million*.

So just how could they have a valid claim on the prize? No - the assertion that 0.99999... == 1 doesn't wash in this instance.

Wind turbines put bats under (low) pressure

Del Merritt

Tilting at...

This is probably why we won't see Christian Bale as Don Quixote any time soon. Maybe Bill Clinton, though, since I hear he knows how to exhale, too.

Hummer glummer on high oil price bummer

Del Merritt

Hummers are for idiots

My 2000 Honda Civic 5spd sedan is still getting 40mpg. No special mods or tweaks. I just remember to change the oil and filter, and once in a while I remember to check the air pressure in the tires. And it's not even due to my amazing driving karma - my teenage son is using it to commute for work this summer, and he's shooting for 500 miles on a single (11 gallon) tank.

So why don't more cars get good gas mileage? No incentives to date. At least, until recently, with gas prices here finally moving to where they probably should have been.

I'm all smiles, even if it still costs me over $40 to fill my tank. 'cuz I'm smug like that.

Netflix to sell set-top box for streamed movies

Del Merritt

Roku Rocks

I'm a happy Roku Soundbridge user. No, haven't hacked into them (yet), but they are reliable. And since I'm also a Netflix customer, this could be a nice win.

Now why didn't I hear about this from Netflix themselves? Hmm...

I'd still like to be able to view (easily) from Linux and not be forced to use Winblows for "Play Now" use. Perhaps that's in the pipeline; the Soundbridge product is a Linux box.

Yahoo! pimping malware from banner ads

Del Merritt

Ads? What ads?

Yeah, between NoScript and AdBlock, surfing is pretty fast and (generally) safe. I always try to keep my family and friends on the Mozilla Kool-Aid.

Concerns build over Debian delays

Del Merritt

Why not let it take 22 months?

It seems to me that there are boatloads of distros out there. I happen to like Debian precisely because - thus far - it Just Works(sm). Of the machines here, one runs MacOS, three run straight Debian-latest, one runs Kubuntu, and one is RHEL4. And there's plenty of Knoppix boot CDs around.

If you are in *such* a hurry to be a developer, then start your own. Or contribute where it's "faster". If you look at what the project team expects, it's impressive, to the point of staggering. At least if you are hoping to be a full-blown package maintainer.

If the current problems are really representative of inefficiencies*, then by all means, "fix" the problem somehow. But if it slows down the process of adding the 69th music player app or the 432nd paint program, that's fine. Too many cooks really can spoil the broth.


* too lazy to follow the link to the current forum furor.

Trend Micro gets slashed in attack of the killer iframes

Del Merritt
Thumb Up

Thanks for the list!

Of course, 23K names/sites is gonna' be a pain to cross reference. Could be time to write a FF add-on to help...

Mass compromise powers massive drive-by download attack

Del Merritt

Play the shame game

So where's the list of sites affected? All that is spread is FUD if you don't make clear who/what to avoid.

If a truly "major" site was infected, it's important for its visitors to know.

Of course, all of the references at McAfee's Avert Labs appear to point to ActiveX - not a problem for this Linux fanboy - but unfortunately I have friends and relatives using Winblows, and if there's a reasonable chance that one of these 10,000 sites is on their list of regulars, I'd like to forewarn them appropriately.

Twittercide results in banality bloodbath

Del Merritt

Just remember...

... you can't spell "twitter" without "twit".

Space Shuttle Endeavour on its way

Del Merritt

Kibo In Space!


All hail Eris^H^H^H^HKibo!

Jimbo Wales dumps lover on Wikipedia

Del Merritt
Thumb Up


"if you simply go to a Wikipedia article mentioned on The Register and click the 'discussion' tab, I think you'll find reason in spades."

No kidding. It's a fun read. E.g.:

"I suspect a lot of gossip columnists, trash tabs, etc. will disagree. Interesting how the New York Post gossip page is a good enough source for this bio but Jimbo Wales' own statement is not. The credibility of Wikipedia has sunk through the floor. (talk) 20:40, 2 March 2008 (UTC)

It isn't even relevant. A statement published on wikipedia is not a good source for someone else's biography on wikipedia. It'll be in the register soon enough. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:56, 2 March 2008 (UTC)"

So I suppose that means that El Reg *is* considered a "good source". Bravo!

Disintegrating wind turbine caught on camera

Del Merritt
Black Helicopters

Re: Vertical Blades

Indeed, vertical blades are a "common" wind-power options, particularly in residential areas. They are considered less efficient as a class.

Some references (courtesy of the big G spot on the net):





Helicopters because they look a lot like windmills...

Stallman steps back from Emacs

Del Merritt

Put on the waaaaay back helmet

I remember using the TECO-based Emacs back in the ArcMac in the early 80's. I've only managed to carry my .emacs around with me for the last 11 years; I'd have had a version of it longer if I had access to a 9-track tape unit during that fateful job change...

eBayer invites buyers to rip him off

Del Merritt

Gone, but...

... is it also forgotten? Did anyone who saw the auction see what the final post-pull bid was? Just curious...

'Facebook fatigue' kicks in as people tire of social networks

Del Merritt

Turn off the lights when you leave?

This article reminded me to log in and resume spying on my kids. Otherwise there's nothing there to see, really.

Perhaps I preferred staying in the dark. I still have to watch out for those damn vampires, though.

Mandriva and TurboLinux unveil 10-person strong Manbo

Del Merritt

whither debian?

I am confused. The debian project seems to my end-user eyes to be doing just fine. Some use the [K*]Ubuntu flavor. Some the Knoppix version. Etc. And it's pretty "free" and accessible and seems to be up to date as distros go. Even my slug is supported with the installer.

Why a "new" effort that is "just" GPL, then?

Or perhaps a better question: has any one done a recent Consumer Reports-style analysis of each (or at least a bunch) of the extant Linux distros and compared them on some set of relevant points? As binary distros go, I like debian because it seems to move fast enough and yet is also typically stable enough. Unless you go straight for Sid every time...

US Marines: Osprey tiltrotor doing OK in Iraq

Del Merritt
Black Helicopters

I remember when...

... my Daddy (may he RIP) was doing systems engineering on this bird. He laid (partial?) claim to the name "Osprey", too, but I can't ask him anymore. But he did bring home some tilt-rotor goodies - like little snap-together models and posters.

The project was tough, and the props were an ongoing source of consternation. And like any airframe, every ounce counted. I wish I had quizzed him more on the avionics. Ah well.

UK anthrax victim infected by drum skin

Del Merritt

As Seen On TV!

This was the plot of an episode of a show called "Medical Investigations" a couple years ago. I watched it because my sister-in-law was one of the cast. Life imitating reality again...

Asus Eee PC 4G sub-sub-notebook

Del Merritt

WiFi != good battery life

The iBook here has far better battery life with WiFi turned off, and I suspect the same would be true here, independent of the OS. And typically Linux sucks less power on a desktop, but those pesky cron jobs may wake it up too often and unnecessarily. So just a little "obvious" tuning and I bet battery live would improve.

How a bread truck invented the internet

Del Merritt

Never underestimate...

... the bandwidth of a bread truck filled with 9-track tapes traveling at 60mph down the freeway.

Mum sends stripper to teenage son's school

Del Merritt

Gorilla my dreams...

... confused with "Girl with butt creams..."

MIT sues architect for crap computing-dept campus

Del Merritt


Back in my day we were happy with the old "Building 20". It housed hobbiests and niche study groups. And while it looked like it was about to fall down any day, its "temporary" structure lasted decades. Perhaps the RADAR helped seal the site.

Vis Gehry, The Onion had it right back in 2002:


Apple to roll out Mac OS X 10.5 next week

Del Merritt


So is/was Tiger the iBook G3's end of life version of OS X? The system requirements at http://www.apple.com/macosx/techspecs/ sure make it look that way.

Any word on what Leopard features might work on a G3 with 384MB? Will it even install?

I should have been paying closer attention.

Asus launches tiny PC

Del Merritt


I'm holding out for a bright blue case.

Kim Jong Il: dictator, gnome, and now 'internet expert'

Del Merritt

Please introduce him...

... to Chuck Norris.

Wait; maybe he *is* Chuck Norris.

Kiwi boffins prove that booze makes you clever

Del Merritt

@Ballmer Peak


Dead woman's medical records case could undermine FOI law

Del Merritt

Put all the historians in jail!

... along with archaeologists, astronomers, and anyone else who looks into the past, then. Biographers should be the tossed as well. David McCullough? What right does he have analyzing the private letters of our (US) presidents to their wives?

As to embarrassment for the survivors: we're all people. Be embarrassed (and make up) for the mistakes *you* have made yourself, and don't worry so much about what the relatives did.

Wyse strips down thin client computers

Del Merritt

Terminal illness

I'm a big fan of thin/remote computing. At least until the line between the client and the server breaks. Wyse - a former king of the "dumb terminal" world - is trying to catch up to (or keep a hold on) their old market share, I guess.

Why don't we see, instead, more of a focus on "OS on a removable drive"? Commoditize the hardware to have no fixed storage beyond the boot loader, and just plug in your data - which includes your OS of choice - to the resulting "terminal". Your OS - on a USB or Firewire drive - might be a thin client that calls out over The Network. Or it might be a full-fledged OS, able to function with or without a connection to the rest of the world. It could be on a "real" HDD or on a memory-based thumb drive.

This would be a perfect solution for libraries, kiosks, and other public places. The only hard part is solving the security problem: we don't want malicious virii or trojans left from (or by) the previous user twiddling our precious bits.

Maybe I've been reading too much Vernor Vinge lately.

The cold, cold heart of Web 2.0

Del Merritt

nod to Isaac Asimov

Consider Asimov's Foundation trilogy. He proposes a social calculus that is sufficiently powerful to accurately presage events for several millennia.

Yeah, it's all fiction, but this article reminded me of that. Been over thirty years since I last read it; time to give it a fresh go, I think.

GPL whiz Moglen nails Web 2.0 O'Reilly on 'frivolous' charges

Del Merritt

Perl Conference 2.0

Anyone remember "Perl Conference 2.0"?


I was there. I had a good time, in spite of a completely screwed up travel-from-Boston nightmare that had me arrive at my hotel at 4am.

The conference was generally informative, and I resonated with Larry Wall; his keynote was a riot. Perl had layers (and onions) well before Shrek. We still don't have Topaz/Perl 6, but what do you want for nuthin'?

One evening I chatted with Tom C, a nice, quiet guy who seemed to be discomfited with conference things in general, and liked to play the piano.

When Tim O'Reilly came on stage, I was disappointed. I didn't hear any real "vision" that was coherent, and I walked away thinking, "OK, he just wants to sell more books". Nearly a decade later, I don't remember the topic of his talk, just that feeling. Perhaps someone will post a transcript of it - maybe it was Web 2.0 alpha.

Perhaps this is what was going on: Larry Wall created something for himself. He was the father/author who was optimistic but humble for this offspring. And then he let the "child" free, so that it could play with others, not just with and for him.

OTOH, Tim O created a business of channeling the creativity of others. I'm glad I have the books I do from O'Reilly - most remain regular references for me (particularly Tom's Cookbook). But Tim's interest was in me buying the limited use of his children. That's capitalism, but it didn't leave me with the same Warm Fuzzy Feeling(sm) that I got and still get from things like Perl.

RFID a 'technical blunder', report says

Del Merritt

Irony alert

Quoting C Greenock, who was quoting Nick Ryan:

NR: "Barcodes... are SO difficult to produce...."

CG: Depends on the barcode. You can print (and I have done) code39 and codabar (2of5) barcodes on DEC LN03 & LN05 laser printers (yeah it was a long time ago) on standard Avery label stock.

Re-read NIck's post, and you'll see that he's violently agreeing with you :-)

I had an interesting chat with a school-mate recently, and his IT work with the garment industry made it clear that RFID is not ready for all. It's far easier and cheaper to track small bits of inventory with small bits of cheap and easy-to-print-and-peel paper than to fuss with an RFID tag. Of course, you could then scan the items as you put them in a shipping box and create a single RFID tag for the aggregate.

So it really depends on the specific business need. No surprise there.

So what's in a URL? The Reg URL?

Del Merritt


I'm a "yank" and I have no problem with .co.uk. (i.e, "me too!") In fact, after looking at it once or twice, I never bothered with the "US Edition"; I like to see the blend and perspective.

What I DO NOT get is why some of the offshoot sites - like Reg Channel, Reg Hardware and Reg Developer - don't have an easy link back to the "main" register. Perhaps it's adblock in Firefox dropping the link; if that's the case, I'll just live with it.