* Posts by scarper

30 posts • joined 12 Feb 2016

Sweet TCAS! We can make airliners go up-diddly-up whenever we want, say infosec researchers


An issue with "more accidents are caused by pilots" is that pretty much any accident to happen that can't be decisively proven to be equipment error is "pilot error".

Oh, worse than that. The classic Normal Accidents gives lots of examples where the accident investigation committee agreed that there had been equipment error, agreed that it didn't understand the error, and *still* blamed the pilot.

OK brainiacs, we've got an IT cold case for you: Fatal disk errors on an Amiga 4000 with 600MB external SCSI unless the clock app is... just so


Re: My favourite timing bug

Back in the 70's, I helped write a signal processing system on a little-known "high speed" (10 MHz) box. When our big pile of Assembler seemed to be bug-free, we removed the debugger, and the drum code promptly malfunctioned. (For the young: a drum is a head-per-track disk.) It turned out that commands to the drum controller were not interlocked: if you issued a command "too soon" after the previous command, bad things happened. And of course removing the debugger made the software faster.

Europe calls for single app to track coronavirus. Meanwhile America pretends it isn’t trying to build one at all


MIT has a better idea


If I understand this correctly, it IS possible to be anonymous, until you realize that you have been near an infected person. At that point you voluntarily break anonymity by getting yourself tested.

The gummint doesn't have to mandate this: the could use an incentive, like bundle it with free porn ...

Wake me up before you go Go: Devs say they'll learn Google-backed lang next. Plus: Perl pays best, Java still in demand


They probably earn more because they're old f***s.

Boss planning to tear you a new one? Google Glass is back: Weird workwear aimed at devs, but on sale to all


The Camera isn't the privacy problem

The privacy problem is that onlookers don't know if the camera is in use, so they assume it is.

The solution: whenever the camera is operating, a bright LED should be visible to anyone in the line of sight. Something hard wired, so that it can't be hacked to "off".

Having trouble finding a job in your 40s? Study shows some bosses like job applicants... up until they see dates of birth


Things To Do

I just retired, but here's what I did latterly:

FIrst, drop the old stuff from the resume, and leave off the dates of any old stuff you can't bear to jettison.

Second, look young. If you have some white hairs, well, fix it. Hair dye may strike you as vain, but that's better than unemployed.

Third, keep learning. Try to pick up something, every year, that will be worth putting in the resume.

Fourth, search for the new job while you still have the last one. I broke this rule once (I got fired) and wound up with a six month vacation.

Cisco slips on a Tolkien ring: One chip design to rule them all, one design to find them. One design to bring them all...


Yet another grand unification

When I worked there, Cisco's chip problem was that they had 'way too many designs. When you're big, and a bit old, and have bought a lot of companies, and have out-of-control competition between divisions, and have a broad product line, well, the pile of designs gets real high. By chip industry standards, Cisco wasn't buying anything much "in volume" except RAM. That creates a financial barrier to doing rapid design refreshes.

So it isn't surprising that they're trying, again, to get more commonality across products.

Remember the Dutch kid who stuck his finger in a dam to save the village? Here's the IT equivalent


I should have bought one

Years ago, a lovely little box was for sale. It had a great big button, lit up with the words "Press to test". And when you pressed it, the words changed to "Release to detonate".


Re: This is one comman you never, ever type in - whoops.

And that's why smart sysadmins, when they're in wingman-looking-over-the shoulder tense mode, do NOT type a dangerous command into a live window. The smart thing is to type it into an editor, and when you both agree that it's perfect, cut-and-paste (without newline).

Just don't ask why I started being so careful.

Electric vehicles won't help UK meet emissions targets: Time to get out and walk, warn MPs


Re: 50 miles???

Ah, so you're conceding that the distribution network has the capacity. The cost item is, as I said, improving the generation facilities to support a baseload somewhat nearer the current peak.

Apparently you think that "viable" means that something can be done for free ? Of course the upgrades won't be free. But since the entire fossil fuel infrastructure will be (incrementally) obsoleted, it's basically us moving our social investment from one scheme to another. The current fossil-fuel scheme is far from free.


Re: 50 miles???

> The grid doesn't have the capacity to do that for a fleet of 32m cars

Based on what calculation ? My commute is (was) about the average length for the UK, and an overnight charge could be done for under a kilowatt. If the power distribution network can cope with everyone's household appliance peak use (around suppertime), it certainly won't be broken by a kilowatt while you sleep.

The only cost item here is at the generating plants, which now face a higher baseload. I pay less to charge my car than I used to spend on petrol, so I don't see that as some sort of insuperable problem.

Brit rocket boffins Reaction Engines notch up first supersonic precooler test


Re: Operating in an atmosphere..really ups the requirement for a tough heat-resistant skin.

>> As for your "doubts," I'll take the opinions of a group of professional engineers who've continued to be funded over 3 decades (despite none of them having the good sense to have become billionaires first) over some guy on the interwebs.

That's intertubes.

As for your lack of doubt, I'll take the opinions of the many design teams who, in the last 3 decades, have elected to design rockets instead. Lots of them have flying hardware, and it's noticeable that actually building and flying things tends to cause large and small design changes, and the occasional outright project cancellation.

As for "fluffy" vehicles: you're changing the subject. Re-entry is the easy part.


Skin heating

Operating in an atmosphere may save on oxygen tankage, but it really ups the requirement for a tough heat-resistant skin. I have doubts that the ducts, exchangers, turbo whatever, wings PLUS skin adds up to less mass than just enlarging the oxygen tank that you'd have anyway. And the tank won't have wear and tear.

Reliable system was so reliable, no one noticed its licence had expired... until it was too late


Re: Never assume soon means less than lifetime of Universe

Back in their salad days, Xerox PARC would put "Interim" into the name of any project they wanted to be long-lived.

Boffins debunk study claiming certain languages (cough, C, PHP, JS...) lead to more buggy code than others


The best language is...

... the one that allows you to say what you want in the fewest lines. Most of these bug studies deal in bugs per line, not bugs per concept.

And the winner is ... whatever language has a library (or libraries) for the thing you're trying to do ! Library code is a lot more debugged than newly minted code, and it doesn't take many lines to invoke the goodness.

Should the super-rich pay 70% tax rate above $10m? Here's Michael Dell's hot take for Davos


Re: Income Tax - Smincome Tax

>> The last time the US imposed a luxury tax, the rich stopped buying yachts, putting yacht builders out of work.

No, actually. The rich stopped buying yachts built in America, putting American yacht builders out of work. Yacht builders elsewhere took up the slack. I really hated Bush for that move.

Intel Management Engine pwned by buffer overflow


Re: Mistrust goes in what direction ?

Actually, I don't misunderstand. Intel thinks that when this device has an argument with me, the device should win. And, like with DRM, I fail to see why I'd want to pay extra money to have diminished authority over my possessions.


Mistrust goes in what direction ?

This technology is premised on the idea that I trust the hardware, so that's who should decide if incoming software is trusted.

But in practice, it looks like I trust a signed Linux kernel more than I trust some recent hardware. So it's not clear why I would pay for something whose function is to decide if it wants to argue with me.

Opportunity rover survives Martian winter for eighth time


Re: Obligatory...

>> .. could provide enough force to blow dust off the panel.

That's called "sneezing". Or anyway it was when some early hard disks did it.

Rolls-Royce, Airbus, Siemens tease electric flight engine project


Re: Advantages

>> The other option is to have enough battery capacity to allow flight to an emergency landing site (you don't need anything like full power for that).

> Unless of course, the plane misses the threshold and needs a go around.

And this is worse than a jet gliding into the airport, you're saying ?


Re: Advantages

>> I take it the companies are getting huge grants to develop these technologies?

No need for grants. Not everyone misunderstands the weights of things as badly as you do. A jet engine is much bigger than a turbine, and a gearbox that can transmit megawatts isn't light. Electric motors are light. Check out the NASA X-57 project. They expect a 60 kilowatt electric motor, plus its propellor, to weigh 57 pounds.

In the states, the FAA has actually had meetings with all the companies exploring similar designs, trying to work out the regulatory framework before the tsunami hits. Heck, there's a startup that has pre-sold its first 25 planes.


Re: Advantages

>> HS, I don't understand this "If the planes can take off and land on electric power alone, all of a sudden lots of airports can allow a larger number of flights especially at night"

>> Can you elaborate?


Dunno about 90-passenger regional transports, but two-person electric planes have been flown, and multiple reviewers (of multiple planes) all were thrilled about the reduction in noise.

A future of AI-generated fake news photos, hands off machine-learning boffins – and more


Next, vid

Next, fake videos of politicians saying dodgy things. As predicted by the late, great science fiction author John Brunner in, um, 1969. Little did he know we'd get politicians who tweets are accepted as court evidence of a law's illegal intent.

Four techies flummoxed for hours by flickering 'E' on monitor


>> I'll raise you baby monitors and WiFi.

I'll raise you EPROMs and radioactivity.

Back in the days of 1-kilobyte UV-erasable EPROMs, a customer called us, saying that the system he'd bought had stopped working.

Installing a fresh new EPROM fixed his box. But a month later, he called again.

Eventually, our field technician asked the critical question. Which was, what was on the other side of the wall ? Well, this was a human-occupied office. But the customer was Atomic Energy Of Canada, and the gear on the other side of the wall generated the odd particle or two. In fact, we calculated, it generated about enough particles to cause a one-bit erasure in about a month.

The technician moved the system down the hallway 30 feet, and the problem never happened again.

No hypersonic railguns on our ships this year, says US Navy


minor correction

>>> Serious military-grade lasers work on large quantities of chemical fuel, and they do run out of ammo.

The military used to have lasers that used a reacting chemical as the laser medium. They've switched to solid lasers pumped by laser diodes. The diodes burn more than half the power, BTW.

>>> It has enough kinetic energy to punch through one side of the ship and out the other side

Yes, but high speed collisions spend some of that energy destroying the impactor. Which is why the talk of long rods - they leave a deeper crater.

Lyrebird steals your voice to make you say things you didn't – and we hate this future


Hmm. The 1975 John Brunner novel that coined the term "worm" also had a journalist who "interviewed" politicians, complete with live simulated video, and scripted live voice. And now here it comes.

Renewed calls for Tesla to scrap Autopilot after number of crashes


Re: Consumer Watchdog?

>> A marketing blunder because most are aware that aircraft routinely fly safely on an autopilot. So name the system "Autopilot" implies it can do more than the typical driver assist system.

I fly an aircraft with an autopilot. It IS a typical driver assist system. What on earth makes you think otherwise ? Airlines secretly got their tech from space aliens, and haven't shared ??


>> The evidence suggests that Tesla's cars harm consumer safety.

The post contains no evidence about Tesla's cars killing people more often than other brands do.

Scariest climate change prediction yet: More time to eat plane food


Re: Hummm...

"... Do I really need to cite a Nature article with JH's name on it predicting Gobal cooling? Go look it up!"

Your claim, your cite.


Re: Another False premise...

"... On average, they will remain the same, one way will be faster, and the opposite direction will be slower."

No. I am a pilot, and one of the things we have to teach newbies is that it *doesn't* cancel out. In practice, the lose from a headwind is reliably bigger than the win from the tailwind going the other way. Any book aimed at student pilots will have a discussion of this.


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