* Posts by LisaJK

44 publicly visible posts • joined 23 Feb 2016

What if Microsoft had given us Windows XP 2024?


I still use Open Shell, formerly Classic Shell

I've been forced to use Windows as far is W10. W2k was peak Windows GUI. W7 was usable, but I was already using utilities to get around the crapiness creep.

Nowadays, on getting a new PC, one of the first things I install is Open Shell and set it as close as possible to W2k UI.

The second thing I install is Taskbar Tweaker.

The third thing I install is Ribbon disabler. Don't get me started on the ribbon. Who the F'K ever thought that's a good idea??? I watch colleagues who've been using it for years, frequently searching for features and clicking the wrong icons.

The fourth installation is generally Libreoffice, depending on the purpose of the particular PC.

Why doesn't MS just let us use whatever GUI shell WE want? Why don't they let US control our OWN PCs? Forced updates in W10 are the work of the devil, forcing me to periodically re-disable the ribbon, etc.

I use Linux for all personal stuff. Personally I think the Linux Mint UI is the cleanest and easiest to use.

Engineers on the brink of extinction threaten entire tech ecosystems


Like in Germany and many other countries...

Youth are potentially the biggest asset any country has in the long term, but only if they are given an education.

Higher education used to be free in the UK, but it was rationed. Sure, if higher education is free and unlimited, some will do relatively useless courses, but the majority will do something more useful for themselves and the country.

When the UK stopped rationing higher education and paid for it with student loans, what they were effectively doing was paying for it with a graduate tax, which would only be repayable if the graduate got a good enough job.

However, what also happened in the UK is that universities now see students as their cash cows. It's now common to have no minimum A level requirement for entry to Uni. Any course which will attract students will be run, including such courses as golf course management!!! I'm not denigrating golf course managers, but it hardly requires a degree to manage a golf course!

I went to uni to study Electrical & Electronic engineering in the UK when it was all free, but if there had been a choice, I would have preferred a more hands on learning, like an apprenticeship, or day release. The university lecturers were totally out of touch with state of the art in industry, so uni taught me very little about the practicalities of product development and all that I learnt on the job after I left.

What I also learnt on leaving was that software engineers are in far higher demand than hardware engineers and are paid far better, so although I prefer hardware, I have done mostly software engineering during my career.

5G frequencies won't interfere with airliners here, UK and EU aviation regulators say


Surely this is a simple approvals issue???

Surely, if Radalts are affected by frequencies outside their range of operation or certain 5G equipment is transmitting out of band, then the certification of this equipment should be removed?

Or maybe the certification compliance requirements has been too lax, in which case it must be tightened. I could imagine that the out of band sensitivity requirement may have been too lax on the Radalts. I'd be surprised if significant out of band 5G transmissions could have ever got through certification.


Re: Told to turn off?

There were documented incidents in the past where interference by mobile phones to the aircraft systems actually occurred and is the reason why all consumer electronic equipment was required to be turned off at one time. A few years later they relaxed it to aircraft mode and more recently they generally don't worry.

I seem to remember it was either during the analogue era or early 2G / GSM era.

I remember one incident occurred when an aircraft was diverted, so everyone got out their phones to make calls and interference was noticed. I don't know the nature of the interference.

I'm sure more detailed info is out there in the Googleverse!!!

The inevitability of the Windows 11 UI: New Notepad enters the beta channel


Re: Back from the Museum of Horrors

I think you mean edlin.

Dreadful thing, even worse than vile vi, the neutrimatic editor!!! Almost, but not quite, entirely unlike an editor!

A kitchen splashbork on sale at the Cardiff IKEA


Re: Biggest problem with PIs

For digital signage, net boot would seem to be more appropriate and a USB SSD would overcome any SD card life limitations.

We used a load of Pis for production test a few years ago, all booting from the network they worked great testing thousands of products and easy to keep up to date.


Re: he now only needs to find a Mac up a creek without a paddle

The lack of Mac bork examples in digital signage is presumably nothing to do with any perceived reliability of them.

I assume that Macs are considered too expensive for running such lowly functionality as digital signage and the lack of long term availability of older models would also be a red flag!

Germans force Microsoft to scrap future pushy Windows 10 upgrades


Re: This:

Agree mostly about 7, but disagree about XP.

2k was the best OS they ever made, wrt UI.

Why can't MS just do like Linux and allow the user to choose a UI skin?

E.g. Windows 10 OS with Win2k UI.

I use Classic shell, ribbon disabler and taskbar tweaker, but every update I have to re-disable the ribbon and they are only really a cludge.

Pushed updates, clear type (which makes everything look out of focus with Microsoft's fonts) and the diabolical ribbon have driven me to Linux Mint and LibreOffice on most of my own PCs. Unfortunately 'doze is ubiquitous in work environs.

I always love the way an old sluggish Windows PC seems to run like a sh!t hot new PC when converted to Linux.

How to keep a support contract: Make the user think they solved the problem


Re: Melting

I remember in the late 80s talking to an ex Lucas sales exec...

According to him the Maestro ECUs cost around £35 to make. They were sold to BL / Austin Rover or whatever it was by then for £28 each.

When they went wrong, the aftersales replacement price was £850.

So Lucas wanted them to be just reliable enough to last a year (the warranty period in those days), so that they could make a profit on the aftersales replacements.

Computer shuts down when foreman leaves the room: Ghost in the machine? Or an all-too-human bit of silliness?


Re: Power socket on the lighting circuit?

Electricity was only supplied for lighting originally as no other appliances existed. Therefore all early appliances used the light sockets to power them.


Re: Power socket on the lighting circuit?

Not just the old days in the UK, still allowed in the wiring regulations. I have 5 Amps lighting sockets in my lounge and dining room, switched by the room lighting switches. very nice for standard lamps, table lamps etc.


Re: Power and lighting together

Even with separate circuits for lighting and non lighting in the UK, RCDs are the most common cause of a trip and UK wiring regulations require 2 RCds now. One higher rated which everything goes through including the lighting and another lower rated (easier trip) on the non lighting circuits.

Apparently there used to be more injuries due to people falling down stairs etc. in the dark due to RCD trips than electrocutions. Not sure if the stats were that stark but you get the idea!


US domestic supply is NOT 110 volts

The US domestic supply is NOT 110 volts or even a simple 120 volts.

It is 240 volts +/- 6% 2 phase plus Neutral. I.e. 2 x 120 volts are supplied, 180 degrees out of phase. Therefore low power devices run from 120 volts between one of the lives and Neutral and high power devices can run from 240 volts between the 2 live wires.

Transformers are required relatively close to the points of use to deliver the 2 x 120 volts plus neutral without significant voltage drop. As most US domestic supply is from overhead cables in the street, large numbers of pole mounted transformers are needed to produce the domestic voltage from the much higher distribution voltage.


Only in a UK domestic application

In the UK, domestic lighting circuits are normally 6 Amps, with no ring. Therefore connecting '13 Amp' sockets could easily overload such a circuit.

However in an industrial environment, the lights often require more than 6 Amps at 240 volts, therefore the light switch and circuit would either be heavier duty or be connected to the lights by a much higher rated relay and circuit, which could also be used for mains outlets.

Other countries are different, the US has been mentioned, but there are so many examples. E.g. German domestic wiring is all 16 Amps, but most German houses are supplied with 3 phase, so high current devices like cookers are often 3 phase and there are no separate lighting circuits (mains sockets are often placed under light switches!). There are no ring mains in Germany, so all circuit breakers are 16 Amps and no fuses are required in mains plugs.

On the subject of UK mains circuits... UK ring mains circuits are a dangerous anachronistic oddity which should be outlawed! Devised at a time when copper was in short supply, to reduce the amount of copper required to wire a house. Just consider what can happen to the 16A rated wire in a broken ring with a few electric fires connected on one side of the break!!! The 13A (or lower) fuses in UK mains plugs are only there because of the crazy domestic ring mains wiring, which could allow 32 Amps to flow through a faulty appliance.

Oh the humanity: McDonald's out of milkshakes across Great Britain


Re: A number of sound decisions?

WRT 2 year rule, it is just one of a long list of indicators as to whether you should really be considered an employee or independent in Germany, other examples are company email address, permanent desk position, telephone on your desk with your own number and so on.

Wrt claiming employment rights after 2 years, jein, as the Germans would say (yes/no).

Big companies have been getting increasingly nervous about contractors over the past 10 years and the 2 year 'rule' is a simple expedient (among many other rules) to prevent getting caught out with extra costs and employment rights.

As with most things in Germany, the authorities try to make everything clear by having hard lists and rules for everything, which also makes for crazy bureaucracy. So if a contractor had a desk location in a company and an email address and a desk phone and .. and ... and... then the number of ticks on the permie side of the list would probably be more than the number of ticks on the contractor side of the list, so limiting a contract to a year would reduce the risks to the employer.


Re: A number of sound decisions?

Worse terms? Matter of opinion... gain the Euro, join Schengen, send channel boat people back to France or Belgium (man) no questions asked (like we could have done but didn't when we were in the EU)... where do we sign!!!


Re: A number of sound decisions?

Germany has had laws VERY similar to IR35 for much longer, coming under the general heading Scheinselbständigkeit. Literally translated 'apparently self employed'.

Most larger companies use agency contractors. Some work as employees for the agencies, thereby getting the worst of contracting and the worst things about being an employee. Other companies simply use contractors for a maximum of 2 years, however it hurts their projects.

FBI paid renegade developer $180k for backdoored AN0M chat app that brought down drug underworld


Re: Mystery dev

The UK hasn't been very good at protecting Russian defectors from Putin recently... and how do we know that the US has protected defectors successfully? They are hardly likely to admit they screed up protecting a defector and there's so much gun crime over there, who'd notice a few more murders!!!

Version 8 of open-source code editor Notepad++ brings Dark Mode and an ARM64 build, but bans Bing from web searches


Best text editor so far

I use Notepad++ for all text file editing / viewing that is not part of a software project.

I wouldn't use it for comparing files or source code editing though.

For source code, I prefer Source Insight, but usually end up using Visual Studio for C# and other MS software projects and Pycharm for Python.

For file comparison, Beyond Compare has been my favourite for almost 2 decades and is still in my view the best.

FWIW I hate the confusing MS ribbon and similarly confusing Flat UI style. Unfortunately I have to do everything on MS platforms on most contracts.

Global Fastly outage takes down many on the wibbly web – but El Reg remains standing


Everything kept working in Munich

I started to notice issues this morning, then realised I was using a VPN with presence in the UK.

When I disconnected from the VPN to use the direct local ISP connection in Munich, Germany, everything worked and continued to work all morning.

I checked all the sites reported, like FB, Independent, Guardian, NY Times, etc. and all their sites were up.

Was this a case of inflated ego little British journos confusing UK for the World, with their reports of global outage???

Globo PC sales up for first time in 7 straight years – but market still 25% down on 2011


Desktops can take a long time to become obsolete nowadays

I have an 8 core AMD mini tower running Windows 7 with SSD (upgraded at some point from spinning rust) and 16GB RAM. It was new when Windows 7 was pretty new and cost significantly less than half the price of a typical Apple PC at the time.

It is still used daily, still outperforms many laptops and still works great for multimedia, including 4k video (which is mainly what it is used for).

If Windows 7 becomes problematic, due to end of life, I can put Linux on it and it will even appear to run faster!

It would get hot if it wasn't water cooled, so the only reason to 'upgrade' to something newer is to reduce my electricity bill, but this is marginal compared to the cost of upgrading.

Gone are the days when CPU clock speed on the latest PCs appeared to double annually. We haven't even seen much improvement in the number of CPU cores or RAM on average hardware in the past 10 years.

So it's no wonder that PC sales have fallen, whatever form factor, because we haven't really seen any useful performance improvement in the past 10 years on the average PC. 10 years ago Libre Office or MS office and most other commonly used software ran just as well as they do now on the latest kit at that time, so why would anyone buy new kit???

Of course Microsoft bloats Windows to make it appear that we need new hardware and therefore pay more Microsoft tax, but it's amazing how fast quite a lot of older hardware is after migration to Linux.

Bit of a time-saver: LibreOffice emits 6.3 with new features, loading and UI boosts


I use Libreoffice because...

I use Libreoffice BECAUSE it doesn't slow me down with a useless crappy ribbon and other such nonsense.

I have only encountered one person who prefers the modern MS Word UI and she'd attended a MS Word course and was pissed off she now had to forget all the MS BS and use Libreoffice.

Libreoffice has very few limitations and many beneficial features vs MS. The only drawback I've encountered is the reduced maximum number of rows and columns in Calc vs Excel, but that was only once on a badly designed spreadsheet from someone else.

50 years ago: NASA blasts off the first humans to experience a lunar close encounter


Re: Remember

I remember seeing parts of these missions at primary school aged 5 or 6. I can remember seeing the moon surface moving past the camera, but at that age, it seemed to go on for ages and I had no concept of its significance.

I also saw the first flight of the British Concorde, also quite boring at such a young age as it took ages before it actually took off.

Fast forwards a few years and I feel privileged to have witnessed such feats of engineering.

Sure mobile phones are many orders of magnitude more powerful than the computers of that era, but that is precisely why their achievements are so astounding.

If I were sitting on top of the world's biggest computer controlled firework I'd prefer those machine code programmed low powered 60's era machines.

More computing power and memory means more bugs...!!!

However much effort is spent on trying to eliminate bugs, they will always be there, even on those under powered Apollo machines.

Attempt to clean up tech area has shocking effect on kit


Re: Static

Obviously the ESD controlled area wasn't!

The cleaner's carts and all equipment should have been been ESD control compatible to be allowed into an ESD controlled area. Clearly at least one piece of their equipment wasn't.

I have seen so called anti static dusters, claiming they reduce dust by reducing static buildup. Presumably they are at least partially conductive.


Re: C

Hot British sunshine, when was that, did I blink???

Most UK petrol pumps have had evaporation control suction thingies for a while. So even if there is evaporation, little of it gets to the person holding the trigger.

Germany still allows trigger latches.

British Airways' latest Total Inability To Support Upwardness of Planes* caused by Amadeus system outage



Is it really easier and, more to the point, safer to add all this tech than to just weigh the plane???

Load cells on the parking spots would not be a particularly huge cost, but safety would be enhanced.

Such a system would also overcome issues like that of the Gimli glider, where fuel quantities were mistaken due to confusion between gallons and litres.

No, seriously, why are you holding your phone like that?



I first noticed this weird practice in China a few years ago.

I couldn't understand why they were doing it then and was even more surprised when I saw the practice had made its way across the globe.

Cancelled in Crawley? At least your train has free Wi-Fi now, right?


Re: Built in the age of steam?

Mobile phone and radio signals still seem to work in German tunnels, whether rail or road, not to mention that the trains go faster, they have more of them, they are cheaper to use and the cars are often allowed to go faster, except in tunnels!

Maybe they have different soil, or wait, maybe they do something rather radical... actually invest in technology!!!


Re: If only...

Lucky you've got a branch line...!!!

Gemini goes back to the '90s with Agenda, Data and mulls next steps


Waiting for V2

Great news about investment, I'm waiting for V2. Small company, first product will have lots of wrinkles (been there, done that!!!).

External eink status display would be my first choice of extra features, followed by something like Widi for external displays.

Keyboard backlight might be useful, cheap easy addition, nice to have.

Furthermore, I agree with others, flat UIs suck, bring back 3d buttons, so I can see what's a button / clickable / pressable and what's not!

On the subject of crap UIs, no ribbons please!!!

UK has rejected over 1,000 skilled IT bod visa applications this year


Re: Use local

I 'do' Python, but prefer embedded C and I hate the modern term IT for what I do. I'm an engineer not an IT.

I work almost 100% outside the UK now as UK rates are at best pathetic.

Not surprising for a country that uses the term engineer for washing machine repair technicians, among other relatively unskilled so called engineering jobs!

Google, AWS IPs blocked by Russia in Telegram crackdown


Iron fire curtain!

Sounds like an iron fire curtain is being erected!

What's silent but violent and costs $250m? Yes, it's Lockheed Martin's super-quiet, supersonic X-plane for NASA


Typo... shouldn't "unusually long noise assembly" be an "unusually long nose assembly"?

However if the long nose stretches the sonic boom then long noise may be appropriate!!!

It's Pi day: Care to stuff a brand new Raspberry one in your wallet?


Re: Dates

Ok for those who lived in a country which use the crazy system.

Not to mention feet, inches, etc... so called imperial measurements.

Why should the rest of the world learn some crazy system just to satisfy the inhabitants of one country, most of whom never leave it???

Wouldn't it be easier for the inhabitants of that country to learn how the rest of the world does things and deal with it!!!


Re: Dates

I assume that comes from the Germanic roots of English, where the tens are put after the units when counting from 13 to 99. Four and twenty blackbirds... etc.

Then there comes the continental vs British confusion on the meaning of half hour, e.g. half ten in England is half past 10. Halb zehn in German means half past nine!!!

I assume some Americanisms came from the German immigrants. Like waiting 'on' something that is not a table. To meet up; up where??? etc....

Still not on Windows 10? Fine, sighs Microsoft, here are its antivirus tools for Windows 7, 8.1


Could have been good news, but I've had enough of doze and I'm migrating to Linux

Having been forced to get W10 on a new laptop a while ago (1.5 years) I still hate it, even with Classic shell, taskbar tweaker, ribbon disabler etc.

Windows 7 was OK, but I had an old W7 laptop which has always run like a dog whatever I did to fix it (i7 quad core 2.2GHz, 16GB RAM etc) so I recently put Linux Mint 18 on it to see how it would go. Boot went from about 5 mins down to 10 seconds, everything else runs like lightning and I still can't get over how fast it is.

Now my favourite schematic and PCB layout tool runs under Wine on Linux and I use Libreoffice, Chrome, Gimp & Thunderbird for almost everything else, so Microsoft has had all the money they will ever get from me.

The only thing which doesn't work on Linux for me is any web site which requires Adobe Flash DRM. That's only UK TV channel 4 for me and there are ways around that.

Microsoft's 'Surface Phone' is the ghost of Courier laughing mockingly at fanbois


Back to the future...

Why is old always bad???

I'm still waiting for fold or slide out QWERTY keyboards to return on phones and tablets.

Laptop sales are rising at the expense of tablets. I've got a couple of tablets relegated to internet radios as I am just so much more productive with a real keyboard. We see the odd tantalising glimpse of potential smartphone products including keyboards, but nothing real to date.

I could type way quicker on my old XDA exec than anything since. OK the SW was crap (WinCE) and the HW was slow, but it did way more than the iphone which came after it.

Unfortunately I think that a dual screen foldable device is a nice idea, but you can't touch type on a screen. Most info I've found on the web reckons an average of between 50 and 70% speed for screen typing vs physical keyboards, but there doesn't appear to have been many really scientific tests.

Months late, unaudited: ZX Spectrum reboot firm files accounts


I'm thinking of setting up a company to build Austin Allegros or maybe Morris Marinas, they were both crap, are now completely obsolete and were badly built too!

Why would anyone want to pay money for something which was crap and badly built in its day??? Not to mention that it can be emulated far better on almost any modern platform for free!

Payroll-for-contractors company named at centre of AU$165m tax scam scheme


Re: Not surprised...

Well they didn't pull this off... looks like they got caught!

If they thought they would get away with this forever then they are stupid or blinded by greed. If they thought they'd make as much as they could then run, why didn't they run as soon as the bank accounts were frozen?

Scams like this have occurred before and will occur again, it's human nature.

If something seems to good to be true, it probably is, but some will believe it!

You should install smart meters even if they're dumb, says flack



What's the point???

I am an engineer, I know how much energy everything I use consumes. I use what I need to use. Furthermore, every electricity user is paying via their energy bill for those who have smart meters fitted. I don't want to pay for other people to have them and I have no opt out.

Even for an idiot, just turning stuff off when you don't need it will do just as well.

An interconnected meter with variable energy cost is a different matter, i.e. your washing machine washes when energy cost is lowest, etc.

Finally, I have no mobile signal in my area. A centrally connected smart meter won't work. Why can't they all use PLC???

Scammers hired hundreds of 'staff' to defraud TalkTalk customers


Indian scammers still continuing

My parents still get at least one apparently Indian scam call a day claiming to be from TalkTalk, so it's not ended by a long way yet.

I guess that once the phone number list is out there, it's difficult to stop scammers trying the numbers.

Airbus to build plane that's even uglier than the A380


A380 NOT ugly

The A380 has one of the most beautifully curved wings of any airliner viewed directly from the front or rear.

Admittedly the rest of the aircraft looks a bit disproportioned compared to the size of the cockpit windows, however, it is an aerial bus and is no uglier than any other airliner.

In saying that it is ugly (when comparing with e.g. Spitfire, Blackbird, or whatever), is like saying that a bus is ugly compared to a Ferrari.

Let’s re-invent small phones! Small screens! And rubber buttons!


Real QWERTY keyboard

Having owned an XDA Exec (O2 branded HTC QWERTY clamshell) many years ago, I'm still looking forward to the return of clamshell or slideout smartphones with real QWERTY keyboards.

In place of this, for the time being, I have a Huawei X2, 7" Octacore Android device. This does improve the typing experience somewhat, but I'd still prefer real keys with some downward travel!

NASA boffin wants FRIKKIN LASERS to propel lightsails


With that amount of light energy, would't heating of the sail be a problem?

Even the cleanest reflective surface will have imperfections and dust will stick to it, to increase energy absorption.

One further fly in the ointment, anyone or anything getting in the way of the beams or reflected light (be careful where you point that sail), will get rather hot, to say the least!

I guess slowing down could be achieved by swinging around the planet and using the beam to then slow it. Not sure about the G of that manoeuvre though.