* Posts by Fursty Ferret

164 publicly visible posts • joined 23 Feb 2016


James Webb Space Telescope suffers another hitch: Instrument down

Fursty Ferret

Just a thought, but maybe try a little harder not to use derogatory terms in future? The people who built the JWST are scientists and engineers, not “eggheads”.

Cops chase Tesla driver 'dozing' with Autopilot on

Fursty Ferret

The Tesla market and fan base in the USA is fundamentally weak, and a lot weaker than they would like people to know. It’s perfectly possible to set up the Autopilot system in their cars to disconnect without driver input or attention (just drive any Tesla in Europe and you’ll be nagged to make a steering input every 15 seconds or so), yet in the USA the system will allow frankly appalling risks to be taken. They could implement the European restrictions, but the increased safety will put off their target buyer.

License to launch: UK space regulator gives Virgin Orbit satellites the go-ahead

Fursty Ferret

Re: I'm confused by all this...

>> A plane is taking off from some airfield which is now called a spaceport for some reason.

Said (elderly) plane has to overfly quite a lot of inhabited land with an unusual and extremely heavy load bolted to the wing spar. I'd quite like it to be thoroughly tested and licensed before they get to do this.

IT manager's 'think outside the box' edict was, for once, not (only) a revolting cliché

Fursty Ferret

Ultimately pointless either way since carpet is an insulator, and the computer has a very effective metal chassis and ground connection which will deal with static build-up.

Intel's top-spec Raptor Canyon NUC can double as a 700+W space heater

Fursty Ferret

In some respects stuff like this just makes me admire the newer handheld devices even more.

*looks at Steam Deck happily ploughing it's way through a AAA game but sipping just 20W*

Plop. That's the sound of a boot manager booting PCs off media they can't start from

Fursty Ferret

this could be a handy way round time limits on the library PCs.

That would be brave, given that to get access to library computers you have to be a member, meaning they have your photograph and address on record. If I can point out this particular line from the Computer Misuse Act:

Unlawful access is committed if the individual intentionally gains access; knowing he is not entitled to do so; and aware he does not have consent to gain access.

Personally I think it's perfectly reasonable, but the tech-illiterate plod who turns up when the librarian says that someone's been fiddling with the computers that other people potentially use for financial transactions etc may not see it that way.

Document Foundation starts charging €8.99 for 'free' LibreOffice

Fursty Ferret

and arguably be superior to the App Store offering, because that version will include Java.

Some us would would argue the exact opposite...

Heart now pledges 30-seat hybrid electric commercial flights by 2028

Fursty Ferret

Doesn't make sense

Even the most basic back of the envelope maths says that with current technology, battery-powered commercial aircraft are not feasible. So many major flaws in this plan:

1. How on earth does removing 5 passengers (300 kg) get you 400 km more range?

2. Normal batteries offer about 0.2 kWh per kg at best. Unfortunately, the reason we use kerosene in planes is because it's incredibly energy-dense. Assuming our 30 passenger aircraft has 6.5 tonnes of batteries, that's only 1.3MWh and that's hugely optimistic.

3. Even if electric propulsion works for short flights, it's still pointless when you can squeeze 30x the passengers on a train that doesn't have to drag the power station along with it.

4. Airport infrastructure will be incapable recharging one aircraft during a turnaround, let alone a fleet of them. 35 minutes on the ground? Not going to work. What about smaller destinations with poor grid connections?

5. Propulsion is just one part. The cabin air compressors on a Boeing 787 pull close to 400kW by themselves, and that's before you even get to wing anti-icing, IFE, hydraulic pumps, window heaters, etc etc. Sure, a 30 passenger aircraft is much smaller but it still has big loads.

6. Inverter and motor reliability is unproven.

7. What happens if the aircraft diverts to an airfield without significant ground power? Even assuming, optimistically, that you can still 90kW into it, you're going to be waiting on the ground for a day.

8. A minor fault in one battery pack may instantly render a significant proportion of total stored power unusable.

It's just not possible. We may as well accept the CO2 issues from passenger aircraft (and maybe look at biofuels via solar power and carbon capture) instead of bothering with this. I'm not anti-electric, I drive an EV and have solar panels, but this is not going to work.

Got to admire the ability to extract money from investors, though.

Tesla faces Autopilot lawsuit alleging phantom braking

Fursty Ferret

Having been a passenger in a Model 3 running on Autopilot, I was very impressed right up until the point that it decided that an overhead gantry was blocking the road and jumped on the brakes mid-lane-change. This nicely exacerbated into tears because the driver behind (who was tailgating) assumed that we'd brake-checked him and promptly launched into a full road-rage tantrum.

Tesla owner gets key fob chip implanted in his hand

Fursty Ferret

Bad day?

Tesla Full Self-Driving 'fails' to notice child-sized objects in testing

Fursty Ferret

Not sure what this is meant to show. FSD isn't even engaged in the demonstrations, so it's just a test of the standard AEB system fitted to Teslas (which is admittedly not the best compared to Volvo etc).

If you're going to use something in a media campaign against Tesla then you should at least turn on the feature you want to complain about.

Chinese booster rocket tumbles back to Earth: 'Non-zero' chance of hitting populated area

Fursty Ferret

Re: might make them think twice about pulling this sort of shit in the future

China's been dumping rocket parts on its citizens for many years. This is nothing new - just the fact that it might land *outside* of the country.

Boris Johnson set to step down with tech legacy in tatters

Fursty Ferret

Re: Sub-sea nukes

The interesting thing about The Register is that although many of the readers are clearly intelligent, they’re particularly vulnerable to confirmation bias and susceptible to propaganda and miseducation campaigns run by both foreign states and commercial organisations.

You are quite correct that in the near future millions of people will arrive home and plug in their EVs to charge. That is where the accuracy of your claim ends. Firstly, the vast majority of people will charge on a cheaper overnight tariff. Secondly, the average commute is less than 20 miles, or 5kWh - and the car has all night to replenish this. For even cheaper rates still your car may also provide battery storage for peak hours of electricity use.

You are also correct that sometimes the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine. That’s why nearly all new solar installations include 5-10kWh of battery storage. This will cover 99% of domestic electricity use and can again be recharged during periods of low grid demand.

What you are right about is the apathy of the government towards encouraging further investment, with no subsidies; taxes on public buildings with panels; and a refusal to redistribute the feed-in tariffs more fairly.

Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio: Too edgy for comfort?

Fursty Ferret

Has Simon tried any other computers designed in the last decade? The MacBook Pro has sharp edges. So does the Razer Blade, and the Dell XPS 13 Plus. HP gets it right, though. Same situation with USB-A. It's going, consigned to the same place as a parallel ports and PS/2.

As for the power connector pulling out - that's literally what it's designed to do when you trip over it. MagSafe is OK, sorta, but sticks like glue and damages the computer every time you connect it because the tolerances are small and the magnets too strong.

If you have to be within 30cm for Windows Hello to recognise you then your machine is faulty; you're exaggerating; or you set it up in the wrong conditions (eg with the sun behind you).

Sometimes the need for The Register to Microsoft-bash is frustrating. Traditionally their hardware has always been pretty good, it's Windows (11) that sucks.

Airbus flies new passenger airplane aimed at 'long, thin' routes

Fursty Ferret

Re: 515 orders

In the UK (and Europe under EASA), you can fly for 14 hours without a break provided some constraints are followed at the planning stage.

Not convinced the A321XLR is the right choice for the future. The wing design is relatively old and draggy, and struggles at higher flight levels compared to something like the 787, which will saunter up to FL430 and cruise along above most of the weather. A321XLR is capped at 390 (which it would only achieve while empty, and would be firmly in coffin-corner too).

Also a big difference between setting off at .76 Mach compared to .85 on a 4000 mile journey. My personal feeling is that a new narrow body with a modern wing would have been the way forward here.

Fursty Ferret

Re: Why

Your seat might be comfortable but unless you have an iron bladder, you have an aircraft full of people who will need a pee at some point and 2-3 toilets to share between them. If the food is served from both ends, that's effectively a rolling roadblock and while people can get past they have to wedge their arse into your face.

Meteoroid hits main mirror on James Webb Space Telescope

Fursty Ferret

Re: Mitigation Options?

Reflected heat from the earth and moon would be insufficient to have any impact on the telescope - they could only heat it to their own average surface temperature.

How one techie ended up paying the tab on an Apple Macintosh Plus

Fursty Ferret

Re: Tab and return

That concept I understood. The bit that confused me was the line "just as you would" with a typewriter, because he was doing it exactly as you wouldn't, even with a typewriter.

Fursty Ferret

"On every line, when he got to the edge of the screen," said Mark, "he TABBED to the next line. Just as you would hit return with a typewriter when you got to the edge of the page."

Could someone explain the typewriter link to me? Why would you tab your way across on a typewriter and then hit return?

Dear Europe, here again are the reasons why scanning devices for unlawful files is not going to fly

Fursty Ferret

Already here on Mac OS

Try (hypothetically) downloading an MKV via BitTorrent and then copying it to an external drive - you'll find it mysteriously and randomly corrupted.

When management went nuclear on an innocent software engineer

Fursty Ferret

I desperately hope that this is one of the occasional "made up on a slow day" articles because it provides an interesting insight into what appears to be the truly terrible architecture of US-designed nuclear power plants.

Safari is crippling the mobile market, and we never even noticed

Fursty Ferret

Since Safari has ad-blocking built-in, and Chrome doesn't, I know which one I'm going to use on my phone.

Very surprised that Apple's policy of blocking third party browsers on the iPhone (well, limiting them to using Safari's renderer) hasn't turned around and bitten them in anti-competitive behaviour issues yet.

The sad state of Linux desktop diversity: 21 environments, just 2 designs

Fursty Ferret

Re: The curse of overchoice

John - save yourself another 30 minutes per computer and use the sysprep tool to launch Windows directly into audit mode from the USB drive:


Cars in driver-assist mode hit a third of cyclists, all oncoming cars in tests

Fursty Ferret

Re: Try Scooters in Madrid

Isn't the moral of the story here that you could have just completed your journey by bike in less time?

Or you could have used the motorway network for the bulk of it, at which point a 30 second delay from being behind a bike is the least of your problems.

Fursty Ferret

Re: So technology works as intended...

Fewer miles.

If you're going to post something factually inaccurate, sanctimonious, and based on hearsay then at least get the grammar right.

Tesla sues former engineer, claims he stole Dojo supercomputer trade secrets

Fursty Ferret

Re: Probably not that interesting

Depends what you're looking at. For the generic "autopilot" that you get with every Tesla then yes, it's fallen behind the competition but it's not had active development on it for years.

For Full Self Driving? You only have to watch a couple of YouTube videos of a bog-standard Model 3 trundling across San Francisco to realise that they might actually have something.

Eg https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2EKoL94QwsQ

or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wQkXcySUnJk&

It's pretty impressive given that many of the drives are on the twisty single-track roads above the city.

French court pulls SpaceX's Starlink license

Fursty Ferret

Well, I'd agree with you if Bezos hadn't just negotiated a marvellous contract to throw his own satellites up on the back of Ariane rockets...

Fursty Ferret

I thought we had a monopoly in short-sighted backwards ignorant jingoistic idiots in England, but it's nice to see that other countries suffer the same problem.

The march of Macs into the enterprise: Demand is on the increase

Fursty Ferret

""There's no question that that system is entirely secure," said Bridge."

That is an... interesting opinion to hold for someone in his position.

Mistakes are made all the time. I can remember factory-resetting an iPhone 7 to eBay it on and getting a message from the buyer to say that half my old SMS messages were still on it. This was a long time ago and presumably fixed, but it's a brave person to claim that something extremely complicated is perfect.

Windows 11 growth at a standstill amid stringent hardware requirements

Fursty Ferret

It's not the hardware requirements, it's just a bit shit.

In my experience it's slower than Windows 10, system controls are now scattered across three places, it has ads baked in, it's less configurable...

Intel debuts Arc discrete GPUs for laptops

Fursty Ferret

Quite reasonable in comparison to the existing Intel graphics (UHD 620), which can't draw a (Windows or Linux) desktop without stuttering. The latest Intel Xe is roughly comparable to the Geforce MX150, Nvidia's cheapest, nastiest, low-power discrete GPU from nearly six years ago.

Microsoft Visual Studio: Cluttering up developer disks for 25 years

Fursty Ferret

Re: @Richard Speed -- Wait...Wha'?

Phones come with 16GB of RAM these days. Does it really matter that much if VScode takes up 1/32th of that?

Dark-mode Task Manager unveiled by original's creator

Fursty Ferret

It's not just for killing unwanted processes though - the network usage monitor is extremely helpful.

Robot vacuum cleaner employed by Brit budget hotel chain Travelodge flees

Fursty Ferret

I'm slightly embarrassed to admit that many years ago I thought it would be funny to set loose a pack of Roombas on display near the entrance in Comet (halcyon days).

Two of them made a bee-line for the automatic door (which helpfully opened and let them out into the car park). The others were more work-oriented and set to hoovering the kitchen goods section.

I never bothered to bring them back and don't know where they ended up. Hopefully they lived a long, free, and happy life. Or someone wondering the car park got a pair of free robot vacuums.

Japan solves 5G airliner conundrum: Keep mobe masts 200m from airport approach paths. That's it

Fursty Ferret

Re: Too wide bandwidth in the aircraft system

They are selective - the frequency band is quite wide because two radio altimeters can't transmit on the same frequency, and there are a lot of radio altimeters around.

The in-depth report suggests that it's not necessary that radio altimeters are particularly vulnerable and more down to the fact that some of the 5G transmitters are broadcasting at reasonable powers directly in the protected band.

Tesla driver charged with vehicular manslaughter after deadly Autopilot crash

Fursty Ferret

At the moment you can buy an extra called "Enhanced Autopilot" in the UK, and used to be able to do this in the USA. This gives you automatic lane changes on motorways (although in the UK you have to confirm suggestions by the car) but crucially it'll leave the motorway automatically to follow the route.

I imagine this is what happened here - the driver is, being American, heads down and playing on his phone and the car autonomously signals and leaves the motorway (freeway?) but doesn't stop at the red light at the end of the slip road.

Almost every road accident and death in the USA is attributable to either alcohol or phone use. Driver assist systems just make these crashes more of a surprise because the startle factor of the car handing control back when it reaches its limits is substantial if the driver has spent the last ten minutes concentrating on WhatsApp.

It takes more clicks to reject their cookies than accept them, so France fines Facebook and Google over €200m

Fursty Ferret

Wonder if they'll go after that awful company (TrustArc) that makes you wait for two minutes while they "update their records" if you click reject?

Tesla disables in-car gaming feature that allowed play while MuskMobiles were in motion

Fursty Ferret

As someone who spends half the year in the USA, the biggest problem is phone use at the wheel. It's utterly routine and driving down the freeway you'll see somewhere between 20-40% of drivers holding a phone to send messages or browse the web. It's not a criminal offence there and is punishable only by a small (~$20 fine) because it's a "misdemeanour".

I'd argue that the tiny minority playing Sonic at the wheel of their Muskmobile is a drop in the ocean in terms of relative risk.

Low on passengers, low on memory: A bad day on the London Underground

Fursty Ferret

What I want to know is who approved the new text-to-speech system used on the Tube that made Stephen Hawking sound natural.

Flash? Nu-uh. Windows 11 users complain of slow NVMe SSD performance

Fursty Ferret

Interesting. I ditched Windows 11 and went back to Windows 10 after discovering that big file copy operations (particularly involving lots of smaller files) would slow to a crawl and eventually cause Explorer to hang completely. Teracopy fixed the problem on a short-term basis, proving that it wasn't hardware related, but to be honest I'm quite happy on Windows 10 and see no reason to go back to the half-baked mess that is Windows 11.

Munich mk2? Germany's Schleswig-Holstein plans to switch 25,000 PCs to LibreOffice

Fursty Ferret

Disregarding the excellent points about not feeding Microsoft / bribery / closed source / locked in systems etc etc...

Isn't the fundamental problem of LibreOffice still that any document produced using it looks *exactly* like it was produced in LibreOffice twenty years ago?

Server errors plague app used by Tesla drivers to unlock their MuskMobiles

Fursty Ferret

Tesla owner here - hopefully this post will be surrounded by a warning cloud of smug so that you can skip past if necessary.

This is a clickbait story and a non-event. People weren't locked out of their cars. Teslas use Bluetooth to unlock, and as a backup you can touch the phone or a key-card to the NFC reader on the door pillar. You get two of these keys with the car, and spares are ten quid each.

Do you honestly think that if a lack of network connection resulted in a stranded car, it wouldn't already have been mentioned at some point?

Phone jammers made my model plane smash into parked lorry, fumes hobbyist

Fursty Ferret

Suspect that it's less likely to be a phone jammer and more likely to be a dodgy microwave oven or something at the distribution park. This would account for the short term interruption that couldn't be detected by the AAIB or OFCOM (if they investigated).

Off the shelf autopilot boards are cheap and reliable (dual IMU, dual GPS etc etc for less than a hundred quid), and could easily take over to return the aircraft towards the site of launch while in a glide descent. Ardupilot can even autoland back at the launch site in the event of signal loss.

Tesla slams into reverse, pulls latest beta of Full Self-Driving software from participating car owners

Fursty Ferret

Re: Beta software?

To be fair, when I see a Tesla on the motorway I do assume that the driver is browsing the web* while on Autopilot, and that the car might do something stupid at the worst time.

Source: I'm a Tesla owner.

* you can actually do this while driving if you were so inclined.

Firewalls? Pfft – it's no match for my mighty spares-bin PC

Fursty Ferret

I think the big mistake here is offering his former colleagues help on the phone call, other than just a bit of fake sympathy. All this has served to do is reinforce to the company that employed him that you can extract useful work from people and then kick them out, knowing that they'll still help out for nothing if it all goes tits up.

Got enterprise workstations and hope to run Windows 11? Survey says: You lose. Over half the gear's not fit for it

Fursty Ferret

I work for a FTSE 100 company and most of our computers are still running Windows 7. Having attempted to use Windows 11 on a decent machine as a daily driver so I know what other people are going to get themselves in for, I can confidently say that it's going to be Vista all over again.

Honestly, it's ******* awful. Everything lags, even with dedicated GPUs. New right-click menus literally populate line-by-line as they open, and then resize. Even changing from the light theme to dark theme requires a restart to make everything change. File Explorer can't handle multiple copy operations, and crashes. Teracopy rescued the day but shouldn't have to. Games lose focus even though there's nothing running in the background. High-DPI displays get insanely blurry legacy apps.

If they said this was an early beta and due for release in June next year, I'd nod thoughtfully and encourage them to keep working hard. To release it now will just cement people into staying on Windows 10.

We're all at sea: Navigation Royal Navy style – with plenty of IT but no GPS

Fursty Ferret

Re: Reg units need not apply

Makes the maffs easier. 1 degree at 1 nautical mile is 100 feet.

Fursty Ferret

Re: Glider units

Meh. Use QNH for everything. You might find it easier to fly a circuit using QFE but this forces you to add the field elevation to every other value on your charts, which is particularly relevant when it comes to obstacles such as masts, and MSAs.

If you use QNH, you only have to figure out one number, which is your circuit altitude and when you're stressed and fly into a cloud or something, you can look at your altimeter and know instantly whether you're at risk of twatting the TV mast near the airport.

Music festivals are back in the UK. So is the background bork

Fursty Ferret

We contacted Squid's management to find out what the band made of Windows' impromptu appearance but have yet to receive a response.

Possibly because in the grand context of things no one cares.

Software piracy pushes companies to be more competitive, study claims

Fursty Ferret

Do people still pirate stuff? I would have thought a it's a perfectly reasonable assumption that anything you download from a dodgy source is going to have something unpleasant in it that will saunter casually past your anti-virus. The amount of stuff that needs UAC elevation to install on Windows simply means that you're giving it free reign over the whole computer.