* Posts by elwe

56 publicly visible posts • joined 13 Apr 2015


Chinese company claims it's built batteries so dense they can power electric airplanes


Re: Battery materials???

"the best car engines are maybe 35%-40% efficient"

Nope. Formula one went past 50% years ago.

Cloudflare finds a way through China's network defences


Sounds very much like the communist party is taking a leaf out of the CDN playbook and have started offering a private on network instance of the great firewall to those willing to cooperate. Cloudflare are probably the number one non-domestic traffic destination, so a good place to start.

Backblaze thinks SSDs are more reliable than hard drives


I doubt very many of these are hypervisors. When you run a scale out service you tend to use many whole boxes as service nodes, with no need for a hypervisor on most boxes. Typically you do have a very small number of hypervisors to run VMs for DNS, LDAP directories, sysog servers and other ancillary services.

The crime against humanity that is the modern OS desktop, and how to kill it


Are you sure the top left isn't just the default? I would be surprised if you can't move the elements around as you like.

I am using Mate in a slightly non standard config, well at least it was when I configured it. Since settings are in a file in my home directory I just get what I want OS release after OS release, new PC after new PC, as I just carry the settings files over. My config might have become standard over time, or not. I haven't seen standard for many years.

In a time before calculators, going the extra mile at work sometimes didn't add up


Re: Is it true?

Natwest replaced their £sd batch system in the run up to Y2k. Before that they converted from decimal to £sd, did the batch run and converted back. My father was involved in the replacement.

BT demos 4-carrier 5G aggregation – on a live network


Re: Finish the rollout first....

EE is an irrelevance to me, their nearest presence is over a mile from my house. Vodafone and O2 are the only operators in town. Well not town, hamlet. And if you want reliable performance inside it is Vodafone only. But Vodafone do manage 20Mb indoors.

Why Intel killed its Optane memory business


Flawed design

Optane was touted as persistent storage, but there were no RAID like redundancy options. Thus it could not be treated as persistent storage, it could only be a faster cache in front of real persistent storage. Using it this way would require software changes, which would be more expensive than throwing RAM at the issue in most cases. So it was doomed.

Had there been RAID options, and demonstrations/documentation on how to migrate the DIMMs to another system and recover data, then it might have stood a chance. As it was we took a look and wrote it off immediately.

Of course adding RAID would mean altering the memory controllers in the processors to implement RAID, they would no longer be able to write to it like DRAM. The simple doubling of writes/halving of RAM already in the memory controllers would work to a point, but as RAID 1 you get the issue that you can tell one side is wrong, but have no idea which of the two is wrong.

Plot to defeat crypto meltdown: Solend votes to seize, liquidate whale account


Now why would you want to deposit a lot of crypto coins and then take an almost equal sized loan of crypto coins? Except for the obvious money laundering of course. What is the betting the FBI are watching the deposited tokens because they are stolen and the whale has cashed out the loan, out of view of the FBI, with no intention to return and repay/reclaim...

Biotech firm: Graphcore IPUs faster for AI-based drug discovery than GPUs


Re: LabGenius

Probably Intel, as they want to compete in the space. But they will be run down to useless by Intel and tossed aside...

AI-powered browser extension to automatically click away cookie pop-ups now promised


Re: Researchers are already looking for a workaround no doubt.

Doesn't the website's data controller need to have the informed consent of the end user to collect their PII?

It seems to me these shady pop ups put the data controller in breach of GPDR, and liable to the fines that result.

The existence of an AI pop up clicker removes the validity of the assumption that the end user must have given consent via the pop up. I could see a court fining a data controller because they didn't apply a captcha to the pop up, but assumed it must be the user.

Are we seeing the tech companies walking into an EU government trap to 'tax' them by lulling them into a false sense of security, then applying GPDR fines for these transgressions? I hope so, but I doubt it. As Hanlon's razor says: never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence.

The EU should really legislate that accepting only essential cookies must be at least as easy as any other option. But it would be much more fun to back the websites into it by fining them repeatedly, forcing them to add captchas to the pop ups etc. until they get the idea...

Former Oracle execs warn that Big Red's auditing process is also a 'sales enablement tool'


Re: Licensing should not be that hard

Ask Oracle how to license Solaris for a VM. Nobody knows... We just bought one license per VM, but maybe it should have been one per socket, for the whole VMWare cluster that the VM could migrate to. Since they didn't know we just went with what we thought reasonable, and felt happy defending in court if necessary.

Shut off 3G by 2033? How about 2023, asks Vodafone UK


Re: Phase out 3g

I had no signal at all at work in central London, until I upgraded to a 5G capable Pixel 6. Now I have great 5G coverage all over the building. It wasn't really a problem before because wifi and calling over wifi.

In theory, if people are using 3G inside buildings in an area, that should show up and they won't turn it off until after network upgrades have gone through to allow 4G and/or 5G use inside. And where 3G is turned off, 4G/5G can be deployed on the frequencies previously used by 3G. Signal propagation is mostly down to the frequency used, so if you have 3G now and they turn it off, but turn on 4G/5G on the same frequency you should then get 4G/5G.

Insurance giant Lloyd's hires DXC to migrate org off legacy mainframes to AWS cloud


Fail from the start

This has failure baked in from the very beginning. By contracting DXC to do a modernisation, senior management are showing they view this as a one off exercise, after which they can sit back for another 30 years. They aren't seeing good IT as core to their business, which is a huge mistake made by too many companies that go on to fail. Just look at Amazon. AWS isn't core to selling books, but they recognised that a large scale global cloud system is critical to their business. They invested heavily and then turned it into a major profit centre.

When they get serious they need to hire a high quality IT team to do the modernisation, and keep them on to be constantly maintaining and improving their new system. This will probably cost more than the contract signed with DXC, especially if they do hire the right quality of staff, but in the long run it will be so much cheaper than all the contract extensions, cost over-runs etc.

I am not a big fan of AWS, certainly not of using just one cloud instead of two or more. But I don't think that is the major issue here. I don't think their business is so time critical that a half day AWS outage here and there is out of the question. Lloyds scale means they easily could rent space from the likes of Equinix and do things themselves for less than their AWS bill will be. But they would probably want to take advantage of elastic scaling into a public cloud, and the extra investment in a hybrid model probably isn't worth it at this point, so I can understand (grudgingly) going with a single public cloud provider.

US watchdog pokes Facebook a second time: Meta faces fresh monopoly lawsuit


Re: Network effect at work

I manage just fine without sewerage and water from a utility company, and without Facebook of course. Although I have failed at avoiding WhatApp. Water comes piped in from a private source and I have my own sewerage treatment plant as both are really required, but don't have to be from a utility source.

Facebook and WhatApp are things you could do yourself, I certainly have my own WhatsApp like messaging system, but I wouldn't get very far trying to persuade contacts to use it. That is why I see Facebook as far more in need of regulation than the utilities. People may say the utilities are a matter of public health, but it has clearly been shown that regulating Facebook is required for the health of a democracy.

British Airways Executive Club frequent flyers have their airmiles grounded


Re: Frequent Flyers?

Any frequent flyer tax, aviation fuel tax etc. has to be global, or you just make the problem worst. APD already causes people to fly more as it is only applicable to UK departures, not transiting the UK. Therefore it is typically cheaper to fly to Dublin, paying short haul APD, then fly back to London and transit within 24 hours to a long haul flight, thus avoiding the much higher long haul APD. Any tax that isn't global is just going to distort the market in the same way.

A frequent flyer tax also has the issue of work verses personal travel. If someone is required to do two round the world trips for work, is it then fair to charge them extra for a fortnight in Mallorca? If you institute two pools, one work one personal, some people will end up balancing them. If they don't fly for work, or know they are done for personal travel for the year, they will switch pool to reduce the tax. Most of my trips are very grey anyway as I usually tack some holiday onto work trips, so which would it be?

NHS Digital exposes hundreds of email addresses after BCC blunder copies in entire invite list to 'Let's talk cyber' event


Re: Don't worry the ICO will do...

Also further technical measures are very easily implemented. Just route outbound mail through a mail server that builds up a view of normal traffic and holds any abnormal mail while it sends a message to the sender to double check they really did want to send it. The sender then releases with a simple reply.

Since my last few employers have had this in place, I assumed everyone did these days. But I guess it is just those with a clue and a care.

Canon makes 'all-in-one' printers that refuse to scan when out of ink, lawsuit claims


Re: HP or not HP that is the question.

Why on earth were using using inkjets for serious photo printing? Why not use proper dyesub printers?

Tick, tick, tick … TikTok China just limited kids to 40 minutes' use each day


Re: Douyin Bug Report #6489: Unforeseen consequences

These new restrictions on the young are very likely to be the downfall of communist party rule in China, but will also probably do wonders for the Chinese tech industry.

When the restrictions are too excessive, people will go looking for ways around them. This will create a generation who aren't afraid to defy the party and at least to some extent resent it. In ten or twenty years time there will be a huge number of people used to defying the communist party, no longer accepting they know best and wanting change. In such circumstances that change will be a question of when, not if.

The young will learn much from hacking around the restrictions and China will end up equipped with a generation who don't blindly follow the rules and are much better at innovating, rather than copying. This will give the Chinese tech industry a big leap forward.

IBM sued again by its own sales staff: IT giant accused of going back on commission payments promise


Re: Pay 'em what they are worth !

The problem is that commission isn't a fixed percentage across the board. It takes the same amount of work to do a $50,000 sale as a $50m sale and a $5,000 sale. So the commission percentage has to vary.

One place I worked had sales droids partitioned into different categories, with different percentages based on the size of deals they were expected to do. Leads were passed to an appropriate sales droid for the size of the lead. If they went above their targets the percentage commission went up for all the sales $ above target. It was fine, until one guy generally doing $5,000-$15,000 sales generated his own lead on a $10m sale, closed it and was owed 50% commission. While this was a US company, the sales droid was UK based, so they had to pay up. He bought a Ferrari and left the company right after they paid out (but did come in and show off the Ferrari).

Japan's bullet trains replace smoking rooms with Zooming rooms


Re: Lagging

All the ones I have taken in the last four years have had power. Not always one outlet per seat, but enough. And I am always on a JR rail pass that doesn't include the super fast premium trains.

Not sure about wifi, in Japan I always have a cellular hot spot on me with unlimited data, so it isn't work faffing about changing wifi networks.

British teachers' pensions set to be released from Capita's grasp after nearly 30 years


"It is currently run by Capita's Employee Benefits business in Darlington, which forms part of the company's People Solutions division."

A People Solutions division sounds like something from Germany in the late 30s and early 40s...


Probably unlikely. It takes many years to build up knowledge of the 'intricacies' of the UK system.

I used to work in pensions admin software and when I left the unique key on the pensioners database table had grown to (full_name, DOB, NI_number, place_of_birth). NI numbers are supposed to be unique, but there are thousands of duplicates. You do get people with the same (full_name, DOB, place_of_birth), (full_name, NI_number, place_of_birth) etc. We had to add fields to the unique key over time as we discovered more mistakes in the NI number issuing system.

Right to repair shouldn't exist – not because it's wrong but because it's so obviously right


Re: Test gear, wages and item costs

A steady hand and a bit of skill, yes. Special tools is only really for more complex components like BGA chips with high pin counts.

I used to work in embedded systems and when developing a new product the first prototype would always have a few errors. A few would mean a trip to a specialist for rework, most were fixable by cutting tracks where they were in the top layer of the PCB and adding wires to make the correct connection, replacing surface mount resistors, capacitors etc.

The head of hardware started only doing these repairs in the afternoon when the light was better, then I took over with younger eyesight etc. I got quite good at putting wires onto 0.5mm pin pitch components, even doing three adjacent pins. That and putting a wire onto a track where there wasn't a pad, having scraped off the top lacquer were the hardest tasks. Replacing a simple surface mount component was easy street.

Giant Tesla battery providing explosion in renewable energy – not as intended


Re: Shipping Containers????

They are probably not second hand shipping containers like you are imagining.

Offsite manufacture of modular units is much, much cheaper than trying to build on site. Once you start down that road you need to be able to ship the modules to site and there is this handy standard that hundreds of thousands of trucks are made to take, the shipping container, The modules will be made to the same maximum diamensions, weight limit, loading points, handing points etc. But that may be all they have in comman with an actual shipping container. The rest may be down to journalists liking of simplifying things to levels the average Daily Star reader can comprehend (so that last word is out).


In the UK we have a lot of grid scale batteries online and being built out. They are almost all 50MW or smaller for regulatory reasons. I am invested in quite a number of them.

The big difference is very, very few use Tesla batteries. Most use NEC batteries. At the minute Tesla only make batteries designed to be mobile. When you need a battery to be mobile you prioritise it being light and dense (small). For fixed installations neither of these matter in the slightest. Reliability is far more important and if you aren't constrained to making the battery as small as possbile you can make the cells much safer by using up more volume. Just look at the Note where Samsung too the battery packing too dense and had to recall and recycle every one made. NEC have a battery line/chemistry designed for fixed installation, with the correct properties prioritised.

The Tesla cells are only used in projects like this because Tesla want to get the volume of manufacture up and so the cost per unit down. So they are offered at a market distorting price to overcome their shortcomings in fixed use. The downside is outcomes like this...

Hard drives at Autonomy offices were destroyed the same month CEO Lynch quit, extradition trial was told


Smart move destroying the evidence that exonerates Lynch and shows how badly you bungled the purchase, while simultaneously blaming Lynch for destroying evidence.

Too out there as a theory?

Imagine a world where Apple shacked up with Xerox in the '80s: How might it look today?


It was believable until the point where Steve Jobs doesn't try to own that network, but released the enabling bits of software free of charge. Steve took tech from the rest of the world and fought to try to stop the rest of the world using it. He never gave anything out for free.

£1bn lawsuit by Google Shopping rival staggers back to feet in London High Court


Is Kelkoo still going? I would have thought they would have gone bust by now. Maybe they have investors essentially funding this lawsuit in the hopes of a payoff.

Google shopping won out because it was free for merchants so everyone reasonably priced was on it and attempted to force merchants to include VAT and disclose shipping so it actually gave consumers meaningful results. Kelkoo and the like were useless, half the prices jumped up once VAT and shipping were included and the coverage was far from complete.

You still see some of these useless comparison sites listing themselves into Google shopping, but I think most people are like me and hit back as soon as they realise it isn't a real merchant. Generally I only end up seeing them when I am looking for something hard to find, and I have already been to the merchant they are pumping direct from google shopping and seen they don't have stock, but the useless comparison site hasn't caught up to that.

My guess is Google's tracking means they can see that these useless comparison sites aren't the search results people are looking for, so they drop them down the order, which is what Kelkoo can't admit to themselves so they imagine Google are deliberately dropping them down the order. Hopefully once this case is resolved they will go bust and disappear.

Calendly’s new logo perceived as either bog-standard or kind of crappy


I used to share a house with a guy who did hard science for a job, was a devout christian, an artist and was a colossal pervert. His church asked him to design a new stained glass window, so he used a vagina as the centre of the design. As he worked on it in the lounge of an evening he would ask me if I thought anyone at the church would see the 'centre piece'.

I think the design house has basically done the same. I bet their designers have an internal betting ring going on who can slip the worst thing into a design and get the client to accept it. Looks like Calendly fell for the design based on a crapper. No sign of anyone falling for the cock and balls design yet...

Apple settles with student after authorized repair workers leaked her naked pics to her Facebook page


Re: Details

By restricting the supplies of spare parts, knowledge of how to make the repair etc. all Apple ensure is that people cannot repair their devices themselves, which would remove all the risk of this sort of thing happening.

If the device had a high ifixit score, widely available parts and published repair manuals the student could have repaired it themselves, used a trusted friend, or shopped around for someone who would do the repair while they waited and watched.

The victim should have been able to trust Apple's repair service, but they shouldn't have to. If Apple want to play games with their spare parts etc. they should be forced by law to offer an equivalent of the keep the hard drive service server makers offer to customers who value their data. That means no sending off the phone, walk into an apple shop, demonstrate it is broken and if they can't fix it in front of you, they have to issue a replacement then and there. If they can fix it, you still get to keep/personally destroy the flash memory if it is replaced.

Microsoft settles £200,000+ claims against tech support scammers who ran global ripoff from cottage in Surrey


No, they will have moved on to scamming Apple customers now. Since they have self selected for propensity to be scammed and availability of funds...

Boeing 737 Max will return to flight after software updates, says EU's aviation regulator


Re: more than software

"Who knows? Boeing can start plugging in sections to make the 737 MAX carry up to 280 passengers and call it Super MAX."

Sounds like a killer move...

Radio Frequency fingerprinting of aircraft ADS-B transmitters? Boffins reckon they've cracked it


If the world's more advanced militaries haven't already done so, you can bet they are now investing in developing ADS-B transmitters that don't just generate a simple signal, but can spoof the underlying characteristics of another transmitter. So those late to the party will see the ADS-B signal saying the Air Astana flight from Sharm El Sheikh to Almaty is approaching Tehran, will fingerprint the signal as being an Air Astana air frame and by the time they work out where the bombs landing on Tehran came from the flight will have left Iranian airspace...

Talk about making a rod for your own back: Pot dealer's seized €54m Bitcoins up in smoke after keys thrown out with fishing gear


And what exactly are the law going to do if he waits for release, goes to a non extradition country and uses some of the bit coin to buy citizenship? They will know he accessed them, but there will be nothing they can do about it.

BAE Systems tosses its contractors a blanket... ban on off-payroll working under upcoming IR35 tax reforms


People are still getting mixed up between being an employee under PAYE and a permanent employee. You can be the first without being the second.

The way things are going very few businesses will use contractors via personal services companies, but they will still use 'contractors'. Those 'contractors' will be on zero hours contracts and be paid via PAYE. Being zero hours they won't get sick pay, but will get holiday pay (work x days get an additional days pay), pension enrolment after 3 months and all the other things employees get. Rates will probably rise a little to reflect that travel to work expenses are no longer tax free, but otherwise not a lot will change. People can still work flexible, short term contracts, for multiple employers etc. But those employers will be paying the employers NIC, not their personal services company, so the scope for using dividends, expenses and a salary to the wife to reduce the amount of tax paid will disappear.

UK data watchdog kicks £280m British Airways and Marriott GDPR fines into legal long grass


Re: Privacy legislation - a bit of a farce?

That gives me a great idea, tax companies based on their spend on lawyers. 40% sounds about right, on top of VAT etc.

Oracle would be screwed... So win all round.

GSMA report: Sorry, handset makers, 5G is not going to save the smartphone market


5G will be useful to many people, but in a more niche scenario. In crowded places the greater speed will allow a greater speed per person once all the contention is dealt with.

For example, 4G is usually useless to me while I wait for the train to leave Waterloo at peak time, as the available bandwidth is divided among so many devices modern usage patterns overwhelm it. So I usually forget about using data until we move on to the next cell outside Waterloo. With the increase in 5G bandwidth the amount per device is going to go up and hopefully will make it useable. You can easily get the same in a stadium.

Having said that, I won't be upgrading any time soon. The first couple of generations will have terrible battery life and only access to a small subset of frequencies. Once the radio designs become more mature it will be worth having.

The Six Million Dollar Scam: London cops probe Travelex cyber-ransacking amid reports of £m ransomware demand, wide-open VPN server holes


It is 2020, what was the customer data and critical systems doing on Windows boxes, rather than Linux with a snapshotted file system underpinning the storage?

At the places I have worked since 2006 this kind of ransomware would mess up finance, HR etc. But the real customer facing work would be unaffected. And those affected systems would be rebuild with a clean client OS and up and running relatively quickly. Once HR and the bean counters figured out how to recreate their shortcuts, so over a week sounds reasonable...

BOFH: 'Twas the night before Christmas, and the ransomware struck


Re: A what USB stick?

Nope, I have seen USB sticks sold with the same class reference. Other formats of memory card too, compact flash for instance.

Don't be so Maduro: Adobe backs down (a little) on Venezuela sanctions blockade


But will Adobe will convert the remaining value of the subscription into Venezuelan Bolivars, wait 3 days and then transfer it to you, minus the cost of the transaction? With a 3 day wait and the rampant inflation in Venezuela they could thus return all subscription fees, without actually doing a thing.

Kiss my ASCII, Microsoft – we've got one million fewer daily active users than you, boasts Slack


A tale of 2 trials

Where I used to work we did a trial of Teams, since we were an O365 customer. After 2 weeks a few people had tried it and given up.

We then trialled Slack. On day 2 it became production as 99% of people had active accounts. Sure we had to pay for Slack, but the UX is a night and day comparison.

If bigger seats and nicer nosh in British Airways' First Class still aren't enough, would sir like to wear some VR goggles?


It is only selected flights from Heathrow to JFK. And when you read the small print it is only one flight, BA117, on selected days.

I am flying LHR-JFK in first tomorrow, but not on BA117, so no chance of getting to see how bad the headsets are. Oh well, I will just hit the champagne doubly hard to compensate. Maybe next time I will book BA117 instead.

Oracle co-honcho Mark Hurd can't wait to turn your $1 of IT support spend into $4 of pay-as-you-go cloud revenue


"Everybody is going to move to modern applications when they can," Hurd insisted,

So he agrees everyone will move off of Oracle when they can?

Who are the last people you'd expect to spill thousands of student records? A computer science dept? What a fantastic guess


In my day we just read all the faculty members passwords from the unsecured files they had asked various apps to save them to. Not a one of them had any grasp of security, even though they were supposed to be teaching it.

Thought Macbooks were expensive? Dell UK unveils the 7 meeeellion pound laptop


Trump Wall edition?

Maybe this is a special Trump Wall edition. For each one sold Dell spend £5m on building the wall. Thus converting that budget the Dems gave Trump to spend on border security, but not a wall, into wall funds.

Intel Xeon workhorses boot evil maids out of the hotel: USB-based spying thwarted by fix


How many JTAG interfaces are there in our tech, just waiting for somebody to pop the case open and replace the firmware. Why go to all the effort of hacking the OS, which might be secured with UEFI, when you can just replace the bios/firmware.

Most JTAG interfaces probably don't end in headers in production kit, but will still be there and easy enough to connect to with a 3d printed widget to align some wires.

Not much prevents this kind of attack from an evil maid, other than gluing devices together so badly they cannot be opened for repair. I guess that is another security plus for Apple...

Google-free Android kit tipped to sell buckets


Re: What do people want in a smartwatch?

I have been waiting for an android/wearos watch to be released that meets my requirements since Motorola lost my moto360 when it was sent back for repair 2.5 years ago.

My list of requirements, in rough order of importance, is:


Round screen (can have a flat tyre, it doesn't actually matter)

Changeable straps

NO LTE (not needed, adds too much bulk, destroys battery life)

Qi charging



Heart rate monitor


Payroll glitch at DXC leaves former staff in employment limbo


Good luck finding an employer who can do a P45 right

Good luck finding an employer who can do a P45 right. The last couple I have left have done a final salary payment, then issued a P45. Then the next month they pay on call/overtime pay, which is typically a month delayed. When I asked for a revised P45, they didn't have a clue. Just like DXC.

The HMRC system assumes a clean break from one employer and onto the next, without delayed payments. It is the HMRC system that is fundamentally broken. If you are payed overtime well in arrears there is no way to avoid going onto an emergency tax code, unless you use a non-final P45, in which case you may under pay tax.

Investors to be allowed to sue Volkswagen over emission row


Re: "required to make disclosures of their engine software"

Make them release the source and source of the toolchain needed to build publically (though not necessarily under GPL/BSD license) and the tinkerers will spot if it results in a significantly different build. Or part of the test can be to build from sources, apply and test.

The tinkerers will also tend to spot emissions defeat code, unless it is very well obfuscated.

Juniper Networks grabs silicon photonic developer Aurrion


The mark up is more than that. When I first ordered Juniper switches they offered 90% discount to try to dislodge the 3rd party I was buying optics from. They were still more than three times the price.

Juniper are after the manufacturing process so they can shutdown the 3rd parties.

The real joke is, the 3rd parties offer better compatibility. I have a bucket load of Cisco branded optics they don't work with some Cisco switches. 3rd party optics are guaranteed for life, the vendor will reprogram them if they stop working. I can't even buy new Cisco ones, I don't know what I will actually get. The same Cisco part number could turn out to be three different OEMs, only one of which works universally. Incidentally the one working OEM is the one that the 3rd party supplies...