* Posts by Commswonk

1768 publicly visible posts • joined 3 Sep 2015

Dyson moans about state of UK science and tech, forgets to suck up his own mess


Re: With two-faced "friends" like Dyson, Britain doesn't need enemies

rather than go to fund massive royal wankfests in the UK

From which I conclude that you are one of those who believes that "somehow" the UK becoming a republic with a president at the top of the shitheap will be without cost to the taxpayer.

Poor deluded fool...

Future of warfare is AI, retired US Army general warns


Re: The AWEsome* Elephant and Unicorn in any Situation Room**

Something well worth saying again on El Reg in English...

Um... that didn't work as well as we might have hoped.

UK emergency services take DIY approach amid 12-year wait for comms upgrade


Re: 5G though?

which is why Tetra runs on 410 to 430 MHz

Not quite; it actually runs on 380 - 400 MHz; 410 - 430 MHz was used by the "non - emergency" variant, i.e. Dolphin, which IIRC is now long - defunct.

Being even more pedantic, when I retired the frequencies used were actually 380 - 385 & 390 - 395 MHz with the unused 5 MHz blocks held in reserve.

There is nothing specific about the frequencies used that results in "low bandwidth" for data; the TETRA specification is such that it simply doesn't allow data to be sent fast enough for user requirements, whether they are real or perceived.


Re: Record incompetence

What on Earth is the government playing at? Why is it taking them so long to sort out what is effectively a private phone network, using nearly all existing masts, with push to talk capabilities!?

To answer your question... probably just twiddling its collective thumbs, for the very simple reason that "sorting it out" (i.e. making it work) is the responsibility of EE and (IIRC) Samsung; it is neither the government's nor the civil service's job to produce a working system.

I am not trying to say that the government is totally free of blame for the fiasco; opting for a system that worked on paper but that had never been tested as a practical reality was hardly the most sensible of decisions.

And when you say "existing masts" which masts do you mean? EE's or Airwave's? If the former you should note that numerous commentards point out that their 4G coverage is poor or non existent; if the latter, those masts belong to... Motorola. One way or another the "existing masts" provide at best a partial solution to the coverage requirements. In any event coverage is relatively easy to sort out, if not necessarily cheap. But what is the point of perfect coverage if the underlying system doesn't work?

Western Digital confirms digital burglary, calls the cops


Arghh... my eyes, my eyes

From the article:

WD "implemented incident response efforts and initiated an investigation with the assistance of leading outside security and forensic experts


"As part of its remediation efforts, Western Digital is actively working to restore impacted infrastructure and services. Based on the investigation to date, the company believes the unauthorized party obtained certain data from its systems and is working to understand the nature and scope of that data"

Please; somebody... anybody... please make it stop.

Defunct comms link connected to nothing at a fire station – for 15 years


Re: Fun(d) distribution

...I got a black mark on my file for causing trouble and neglecting my core duties.

Sadly this surpriseth me not.

Never forget the old adage that No good deed goes unpunished.

Microsoft and GM deal means your next car might talk, lie, gaslight and manipulate you


Re: Why is use of a 'phone in a car discouraged ?

...just babble and distract you from driving.

That problem can arise in my car without any AI being involved. :(

£2B in UK taxpayer cash later, and still no Emergency Services Network


Re: ESN services vs network

TETRA was never the answer for national coverage as it is very localised

Utter tosh. If required TETRA will provide a call between John o' Groats and Lands End without any laborious setting up.


A Little Bit of History

25 years ago TETRA was trialled as a working system in Jersey (Channel Island, not "New") and after tinkering was then adopted for UK - wide implementation. In other words, it was not ordered until it had been proven as a system, albeit with limitations on data transmission, which might not have been fully appreciated at the time.

This time round some bright spark thought it would be a good idea to order a replacement system "off plan", and look where it has landed us...

And while I have no particular interest in Motorola, IMHO easing them out of involvement with the ESN is yet another mistake; what other company has the experience to be able to put together a functioning system?

Round up the usual suspects...


Re: Why ho TETRA on the whole of the underground ?

Sounds like its bullsh*t if it doesn't cover everywhere its needed.

What good is an undergound radio network that won't /wouldn't interface with Airwave? However good an earlier system might have been there was a clear (as in blindingly obvious) operational requirement that emergency services had to be able to work within TfL so an entirely separate radio system would be of no use whatsoever.


Re: hopeless

Duplicating the military tactical radio net...

Which net would that be then? The Army uses TETRA (Airwave) for Aid to the Civil Power, before which it had MOULD, which was removed some years ago.

What other net did you have in mind?

Arm co-founder: Britain's chip strat 'couldn’t be any worse'


Fully expecting downvotes from die-hard defenders, but it is time for the incompetents and charlatans to go.

As someone whose political views are more "conservative" than anything else it grieves me that I cannot at the moment think of a single argument in support of the current government.

Perhaps it really is time "for the incompetents and charlatans to go" but I cannot find any enthusiasm for anything any other party is likely to bring to the table. As a constituent of the present Mr Speaker I will have no vote at the next General Election so at least I am to be spared the agony of having to make a choice.

Microsoft strokes UK's ego by pooh-poohing EU approach to AI regulation


Re: Priorities

Our government is eager to be business friendly.

Warning; Warning: Regulatory Capture Alert...

UK courts' £1.3B case management platform hit with failures


Re: Seriously?

Do these people NEVER LEARN?????

I think we all know the answer to that...

Marketing company chases Twitter for $7,000 over 'swag gift box for Elon'


Re: $800 for a cheese board and cheese?

Are there cheeses beyond Cheddar, Stilton, and Stinking Bishop?

Oooh lots... see https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=cheese+shop+sketch&view=detail&mid=6C4BDECD7C1E9BAFC1B16C4BDECD7C1E9BAFC1B1&FORM=VIRE

Sorry about the HUGE link.

Southwest Airlines blames IT breakdown for stranding holiday travelers


Re: Very simple explanation...former CEO Gary Kelly..the mergers and competition..Jet Blue

That was one hell of a landing. Fantastic job by the pilot and co-pilot.

If you liked that then you'll like this... even if it is a bit off - topic for this thread.



Re: Very simple explanation...former CEO Gary Kelly..the mergers and competition

SWA only has one real competitor, Jet Blue. Who are quite good.

IMHO this JetBlue pilot is extremely good:


TikTok confirms it tracked journalists' locations as part of leak investigation


Re: OMG, Phones Can Be Tracked?

...there's no such thing as a sanity clause!

Take a bow please, Chico Marx.

(From A Night at the Opera)

Tesla driver blames full-self-driving software for eight-car Thanksgiving Day pile up


...the injured people went to **the** hospital?

What is it doctor?

It's a big building with patients, but that's not important right now.

(Sorry; simply couldn't resist the temptation... see icon. )

UK's Guardian newspaper breaks news of ransomware attack on itself


Re: Stay clam everyone and don't picnic!

@ Scott Broukell...

Your post has given the game away to those the other side of the pond who might not have otherwise

cont p94.

Five British companies fined for making half a million nuisance calls


Companies House needs to completely re-think how it controls limited companies and the people creating them.

I think you are assuming that Companies House has powers that it simply does not have.

It is a register*, not a regulator.

* Funny that, in one way or another...



From the article: Under local laws, it is illegal for businesses to make live marketing calls to anyone who is signed up the TPS.

In what way are UK Data Protection & TPS observance "local laws"?

Rackspace rocked by ‘security incident’ that has taken out hosted Exchange services


Re: Love the language

This is, I suppose, PR speak intended to demonstrate expertise. It fails to demonstrate that in respect of language.

Thank you for sparing me the trouble of making this point.

My only niggle with your post is that you missed out Hosted Exchange environment which is an abomination equally deserving of censure.

Country that still uses fax machines wants to lead the world on data standards at G7


Once Again...


Nothing more needs to be said.

University staff voice 'urgent, profound concern' as Oracle finance system delays payments


The... person with whom I just ate lunch...

How very nice; some elegant grammar, well worth an upvote for that alone. Brightened a miserable wet morning here. :)


Re: Why Does El Reg Have A Picture Of The Assembly Hall Of The Church Of Scotland......

the building pictured...

...along with The Mound, curiously devoid of traffic on what is clearly a nice day, judging from the male pedestrians wearing shorts.

Unless Holyrood has made The Mound a traffic-free zone the photographer must have had a long wait for an empty road...

Public cloud prices to surge in US and Europe next year


Re: Gotcha

...installing solar panels on the roof, or even the car park...

Or even having a gantry over the car park with solar panels fitted to it, thus having a solar farm and a car park.

Providing of course that the car park isn't shaded from direct sunlight by an adjacent building.


Re: But but but

They said it would be cheaper

To slightly misquote Mandy Rice-Davies...

Well they would, wouldn't they.

Scottish space upstart's rocket crashes into the drink


Re: BBC headline:

Misses space, hits sea... a little cruel perhaps?

Hey... that would make a brilliant film title: The Cruel Sea



...the Skylark L rocket faced difficult weather conditions and its hardware had not been tested at low temperatures. Scientists and engineers are investigating the anomaly.

Try pulling the choke out a bit more.

Yes; I'm old enough to remember manual chokes. :(

Water pipes hold flood of untapped electricity potential


Re: Magic Energy?

That would mean that as long as it doesn’t bother the fire service

It shouldn't; fire appliances do not normally rely on supply pressure to fill the hoses, at least not completely. A fire appliance is equipped with serious pumps driven from the engine to pressurise the hoses so that the water can reach a suitable height and come out of the nozzle ("Monitor" IIRC) at some speed*.

Where necessary an appliance can draw water from a static supply (e.g. a pond) although an additional "portable" pump may also be required.

That said, there has to be a potentially significant flow rate available; LFB ran into trouble during the Grenfell Tower fire because of the extraordinary volume of water needed and they had to ask the water board (whichever one it is) to pump harder to get enough.

* I find myself wondering how the fire services will manage when they have to use appliances powered only by batteries...


Re: The elephant in the water pipe?

...the mauve glasses...

I take it you mean "rose - tinted spectacles".


Re: Magic Energy?

So we could use electric pumps to raise the water and then put generators in the downward flow. With any luck the magic would permit perfect matching of the energy conversions so the generators would power the pumps.

I wish you hadn't written the above; it won't be long before a politician opens his or her mouth in the belief that you were serious, followed by "why isn't this happening now?" Politicians and anything technical do not make a good mix.

People still seem to think their fancy cars are fully self-driving


Re: Perhaps...

Here are a few - note that I'm talking about hypothetical future vehicles with working self-driving:

Interesting that you should include the word hypothetical because not only are the vehicles currently hypothetical but so are the benefits that you listed; they will remain as a wish list until such time as they have been proven to have been realised.

One in particular warrants further comment: Driverless freight vehicles cut freight costs by around a third. I'd like to know how that has been calculated; just the fuel cost for an hour's running is well in excess of what the driver costs.

In addition, the driver is normally responsible for assisting with unloading / loading the vehicle; in his or her absence who will carry that out? Loading is singularly important because it is essential that the load is properly spread to even to distribute the weight on the various axles and that it is secure and cannot move when the vehicle is moving. It is a legal requirement and if he / she gets it wrong the driver can be held liable in Court.

I'll believe that AI really exists when it can reverse an articulated vehicle round corners / into a tight space / etc without mishap. Will this hypothetical LGV be able to refuel itself with either diesel or electricity when the need arises?



this illustrates a serious problem with drivers more than it highlights problems with "driver assist" or whatever the manufacturers decide to call it.

Perhaps instead of trying to develop "better" AI the whole idea of "driver assist" ought to be dropped completely until there has been some proper research into driver behaviour in the hope of finding out whether eliminating human error (for which read downright stupidity as often as not) is a realistic prospect.

Whence cometh the clamour for "self-driving vehicles" anyway? I know the concept seems to make politicians salivate but that offers no insight into whether the idea is a good one or not.

Business can't make staff submit to video surveillance, says court


The bathrobe. That's your problem.

Aha; time for an obligatory Dilbert: https://dilbert.com/strip/1995-02-07

He's only gone and done it. Ex-Register vulture elected to board of .uk registry


Re: Dissent

Do you have a citation for the implication of what you have said that a director of a UK (by which I _probably_ mean English or Welsh) company is legally obliged to accept collective responsibility for board decisions?

No, for the very simple reason that that is not what I asserted. I did not use the word "legally" so IMHO you have wilfully misrepresented what I said.

A Director and the Board of which he or she is a member is legally required to act in the best interests of the shareholders. (OK; it is not hard to argue about what is and is not in the best interests of the shareholders!) You are asking me to support a statement that I did not make.

Obviously if he does dissent outside board meetings, he is unlikely to endear himself to the existing establishment at Nominet - but I have a funny feeling that "endearing himself to the existing establishment at Nominet" is rather a long way down his list of priorities.

Both statements might well be true, but he must avoid running the risk that the "majority" of this or any other Board of Directors get so pissed off that they seek the removal of the dissenter(s) by way of a vote at an AGM / EGM, which is why I wrote Dissent has to be practised with care...


Re: Congratulations

Non-execs, indeed all directors HAVE to execute their responsibility independently. He CAN express dissent.

Of course they can, (and sometimes must) in an appropriate forum such as a board meeting.

However losing an argument (and I don't mean a slanging match) at a board meeting does not confer on the "loser" the right to moan in public about what went on unless (for example) there was clear evidence of malpractice on the part of the "winners".

Dissent has to be practised with care...


Re: Congratulations

I just hope being elected to the board does not prevent continued investigative activities and public statements concerning that organisation ... (My bold)

Er... perhaps not. Kieren will have to adhere to the responsibilities and decisions of the board as a whole; the scope for "freelancing" is likely to be limited and could easily result in the collective displeasure of others who may then take steps to ensure that his tenure as a director is a short one. That would negate everything he has striven for so far, which in turn could would turn out to be disastrous.

I would hope that he resists the temptation to "tell tales out of school" just in case it compromises his position.

You thought you bought software – all you bought was a lie


Re: No perfect compatibility within Office either

It's also disappointing how hard it is to draw even the simplest diagrams.

I wholeheartedly agree. Prior to retirement I did a lot of diagrams / drawings using the drawing capability in 3.11. We then migrated to (IIRC) NT and while most would open without problems some finished up with a lot of misalignment that required sorting out. New drawings were as easy as they had been with 3.11.

In retirement I was able to do such drawing as I still wanted to do using XP on a desktop; no changes from earlier versions that I could identify. The laptop I then acquired offered me all the benefits of W7, one of which wasn't the ability to do drawings easily / at all.

I reluctantly had to retire the PC using XP and migrated to W10 (no great surprise there!) and found the same problems with the drawing tools as I had encountered in W7.

A serious retrograde step IMHO.

Change is inevitable; progress is not.

Fixing an upside-down USB plug: A case of supporting the insupportable


We never worked out how he managed to cause a transistor (I think it was) to lose its magic blue smoke.

Sometimes it does not require any external action to cause this, or something similar. Half a lifetime ago a colleague and I had a radio base station* open on the bench; it wasn't faulty - IIRC we were modifying the EEPROM program that master - minded the remote-control system.

We made some changes and were sitting back after checking that our changes had had the desired effect when the (large) room suddenly filled with what I can only describe as a "Dayglo - Grey" fog.

On later investigation we found that a small tantalum capacitor in the power supply had developed a tiny anus through which it had farted an inordinate quantity of magic smoke of a quite startling appearance; it was truly impressive.

We then found that the equipment continued to function perfectly well despite this loss so rather than spend quite a long time stripping the PSU apart to replace the exhausted capacitor we just left it as it was.

As Steve Kerr also said... truly Fun times.

* A Storno CQF6334 for anyone interested...

Post-Brexit 'science superpower' UK still hasn't appointed a science minister


Truss was selected because she actually espoused policies that the party membership could support.

That may be true, but for myself I would have preferred policies based on pragmatism rather than party dogma.

I feel more than a little let down, but at my age I doubt if I have any right to be surprised. She would have been better to find a policy / policies that would have the support of the wider electorate, not just those who happen to be card - carrying members.

Ever suspected bankers used WhatsApp comms at work? $1.8b says you're right


That Reminds Me...

When I read the inset section Who's paying what? I was immediately reminded of the famous line from "Casablanca": Round up the usual suspects.

Soaring costs, inflation nurturing generation of 'quiet quitters' among under-30s



,,,that they are meaningless in the face of the 50-plus percent increase in household bills and a further 80 percent next month in the UK.

That is simply wrong; the only unknown is whether its wrongness is accidental or wilful. The House of Commons Library document linked within the above makes it clear that it refers to household energy bills, not "household bills".

The situation is bad enough without avoidable misleading statements adding to the misery.

Spotted at industry confab: Quadcopter equipped with Brit missiles Ukraine is so fond of


Here We Go Again...

According to reports from the DVD defense conference last week...

The above included a link to a UK document; is it too much to ask* that differences in spelling conventions are honoured?

* On reflection it obviously is too much to ask.

Datacenter migration plan missed one vital detail: The leaky roof


Re: What?

Worked for many years but they had to close it down because it wasn't going to last much longer.

For some reason this rang a recent bell; see


The description of the material in question sounds very like "cinder block".

What epic stupidity to build a hospital (at enormous cost whichever way you look at it) when critical parts of it only have a 30 year life before failure is likely? This goes well beyond negligence and is more like wilful stupidity both from the point of patient and staff safety and from the point of long - term costs to the taxpayer; save pennies in the short term so that there is a mega - cost in the future because the whole building has to be demolished, hopefully after a replacement has been built.

Having said that the fact that Grenfell Tower happened is a deeply painful demonstration that the problem is deep - seated.

What other horrors await us?


Re: An exposed cinderblock ceiling?

Is it actually to code anywhere?

Quite. It makes me wonder what the floors were made of, with all that implies about floor loading.

BT's emergency call handlers will join pay strikes


Point of Order

Tens of thousands of BT Group engineers and call center workers...

Had this been about a group of employees in the US I could cope* with the use of the word "center". However, it is about a group of UK employees working for a UK business.

I am getting to the point where I see the enforced Americanisation on this site (and anywhere else for that matter) as being insulting and offensive.

* Just about, anyway...

Don't want to get run over by a Ford car? There's a Bluetooth app for that

Thumb Down

Re: Ford's solution to their unsafe drivers/vehicles is for potential victims to run an app

...not make it the potential the victims' responsibility.

To have to own a smartphone in the first place, let alone a specific app.

I think I hate the way the world is heading...

Keeping printers quiet broke disk drives, thanks to very fuzzy logic


Re: The Ex

...he had to discharge himself against the radiator before he dared kiss his wife hello/goodbye each day.

Now that is just gross. Using a radiator as an accessory to the "solitary vice"?