* Posts by Fursty Ferret

65 posts • joined 23 Feb 2016


You E-diot! Formula E driver booted off Audi team after getting video game ace to take his place in online race

Fursty Ferret

Not the first time this sort of thing has happened, and won't be the last.


Railway cables overpowered errant drone's compass and flung it back to terra firma

Fursty Ferret

I appreciate that you can't design out poor decision making, but this should have been taken into account in the drone's flight software.

It has three-axis gyro data available, and even a rudimentary architecture should have made the drone fail-over to this inertial positioning when the compass data became erratic and implausible. It doesn't need to know which direction it's going from a magnetic point of view, and I'm surprised that it even takes that into account for primary heading data. Basic stabilisation should, in my opinion, be solely from the IMU.

Magnetic heading can be used to compensate for gyro drift, but I'd have thought derived GPS track is likely more accurate anyway.

NHS contact tracing app isn't really anonymous, is riddled with bugs, and is open to abuse. Good thing we're not in the middle of a pandemic, eh?

Fursty Ferret

>> From excessive permissions including location

Fine location permissions are required for Bluetooth LE on Android.

Square peg of modem won't fit into round hole of PC? I saw to it, bloke tells horrified mate

Fursty Ferret

Re: Hmmm

The trick with designing a multi-layer PCB is to run traces inside the board along the edges to discourage home modifications like this... ;-)

Royal Navy nuclear submarine captain rapped for letting crew throw shoreside BBQ party

Fursty Ferret

And there are h'orderves. H'orderves which will be obeyed at all times.

Honor MagicBook 14: Nice keyboard and ports aplenty – but with a webcam forever fixed on all of your chins

Fursty Ferret

Re: Sure, USB-C is way more versatile

Interesting rant. Few problems with it though.

A) Being able to charge my laptop with USB-C means that one charger can do my phone / laptop / iPad.

B) My own laptop has two USB-C ports and a USB-A. Want more USB ports? Get a little USB-C hub, which has the added benefit that it can draw significantly more power than any traditional unpowered hub.

C) Er, why? If I can plug in a USB monitor with one port and either not have to supply power to the laptop, or vice-versa, that's got to be more convenient.

Since USB-C devices and chargers haven't taken to randomly bursting into flames I think your crayon engineering department comment is rubbish. Do you just object to new technology on principle?

Cloudflare outage caused by techie pulling out the wrong cables

Fursty Ferret

Re: Cables with labels on

Even some of the cheapest labelling machines can do cable tags that wrap all the way around the diameter of the cable and don't stick out, and are readable from any direction.

Stop us if you've heard this before: Boeing's working on 737 Max software fixes for autopilot, stabilization bugs

Fursty Ferret

Re: autopilot disengagement during final approach

The autopilot disconnect warning is the highest priority audio warning on any commercial aircraft. I can't imagine it not sounding in the circumstances you describe.

Boeing 787s must be turned off and on every 51 days to prevent 'misleading data' being shown to pilots

Fursty Ferret

From a cold start it takes about 15 minutes to get a 787 up and running. Most of that time, to be fair, is waiting for the inertial reference system to align. The common computing resource (which runs in software what would traditionally be handled by individual avionics computers) is online within 3 minutes. If the CCR is reset in flight (never needed to do so yet...) it's back up and running within 70 seconds. It is permitted to reset both CCRs (left and right) simultaneously in the event of the loss of all displays.

The bulletin for this particular problem is quite woolly - I think that when it says "expired" data it means the results of a calculation that didn't complete in the assigned compute cycle (so realistically milliseconds late); not, say, the values from last Tuesday. Merely a layman on RTOS, was never touched on in my Comp Sci degree.

Think your smartwatch is good for warning of a heart attack? Turns out it's surprisingly easy to fool its AI

Fursty Ferret

Not a new thing

I have to taken an ECG every other year as part of my job, and after about 10 seconds the machine spits out a trace along with an automated "diagnosis".

The effect that relatively minor things can have on this wretched device is remarkable. So far the list of stuff that screws with the measurement includes my phone; a Garmin Fenix watch; fluorescent lights; LED lights; trains going past; cars starting their engines... in the process the machine spits out guesses which include long QT syndrome, atrial enlargement, ventricle enlargement, various blocks, ectopic beats - you name it, this stupid thing thinks I've got it.

Fortunately the doctor administering the tests is a retired cardiac expert and he just keeps hitting "Retry" until he gets one that he's happy with. Superficially though they all look identical to me, but it doesn't help relax you when you see these things popping up on the screen.

Vodafone: Yes, we slurp data on customers' network setups, but we do it for their own good

Fursty Ferret

Re: "Our service helps overcome these issues"

I suppose that potentially if one manufacturer makes shit products that cause problems with other devices, knowing the MAC addresses will help narrow down the cause.

Don't use the Vodafone router if you're unhappy with the data slurping (although as routers go the new one isn't terrible). Vodafone happily gave me the login details to use my own router when I asked.

Fursty Ferret

Re: So...

Exactly what I do. I've no idea what the uptime is on the modem but it's not been unplugged since I moved in 4 years ago.

More worried about the cheap Chinese mesh network that the modem is connected to.

Don't break your swanky new Motorola Razr, you probably won't be able to get it fixed

Fursty Ferret

Bit unfair here

The 1/10 score seems a little unfair since the whole thing can be taken apart and reassembled without breaking anything. iFixIt made the same complaint about the Pixel 4 ("Display repairs continue to be difficult, requiring complete disassembly of the phone") yet that scores 4/10.

Pinch of salt etc.

Microsoft: Yeah, dual screens are pretty rad, but check out our purple calendar

Fursty Ferret

Is there anything in the industry that you haven't whinged about in the last few months?

Come to Five Guys, where the software is as fresh as the burgers... or maybe not

Fursty Ferret

Re: upstart?

What's the bar called?

What was Boeing through their heads? Emails show staff wouldn't put their families on a 737 Max over safety fears

Fursty Ferret

Re: If the FAA can be forced to do its job

It wouldn't pass if put through certification as a new aircraft type.

Smart speaker maker Sonos takes heat for deliberately bricking older kit with 'Trade Up' plan

Fursty Ferret

Re: "the backlash is a wee bit overdone"

There are many anomalies in the data

What? No, there aren't. Just because someone has told you this, or you saw it on a website, doesn't make it true.

The purple SIM of fail: Virgin Mobile punters left in the dark with batch of borked cards

Fursty Ferret

Bit of perspective needed here I think.

If you were a customer service rep and you had someone on the line complaining that their SIM card doesn't work, and you send them a replacement SIM and it *still* doesn't work, where would you assume the problem lies?

Interesting that something like this slipped testing, but SIM cards are usually pretty reliable and the true test of VM is how they sort things out going forward.

Scientist, war hero and gay icon Alan Turing is new face of the £50 note

Fursty Ferret

Re: "Cue gags regarding this note being more bent than a 9 bob note"

the only sensible solution now is for all of us to accept what is and try to make the future a bit better by pulling together, rather than pulling ourselves apart and creating the very scenario that people puport to be afraid of.

If I might be so bold, fuck you. The chaos facing the UK is *your* [all those who voted Brexit] problem, not mine. This is not a Famous Five-style jolly in the countryside, as your appallingly dated choice of words implies, but a serious and backward decision made with neither planning nor forethought.

You broke it, you fix it. In the meantime, you can wave your own union flag.

Boeing admits 737 Max sims didn't accurately reproduce what flying without MCAS was like

Fursty Ferret

You've got to remember that the 737 is almost impossible to fly in a mis-trim situation. It will take one - possibly both - pilots all their strength just to have the aircraft in a vaguely flyable state.

So you follow the memory items on the stabiliser runaway checklist, then discover that you can't trim manually due to aerodynamic forces on the stabiliser. Rinse and repeat. There's a way of dealing with this situation but it's never been taught to you and removed from the manuals 30 years ago.

How much mental capacity does this leave for troubleshooting? Not much. Despite the adrenaline your physical strength is starting to wane. You try to enable the electrim trim. Even during this brief moment the computer aggressively runs further nose-down trim input and makes the situation worse.

It's a brave person that looks at the available evidence here and gives themselves the role of Judge Judy and executioner,

'Software delivered to Boeing' now blamed for 737 Max warning fiasco

Fursty Ferret

Re: Proper Certification

The 787 is quite interesting from this regard. Many items that used to have their own physical "black box" in the avionics bay are now applications running on one of two common computing resource centres, which are further composed of a number of general purpose modules (they look like blade servers).

Every so often one of these modules will fault and restart, resulting in a temporary loss of a random selection of non-related systems (flight deck displays and some cabin systems are a frequent casualty). The blame seems to be attributed to cosmic rays.

Having said that, they've never *not* come back online after about 30 seconds while I've been flying.

Oh dear. Secret Huawei enterprise router snoop 'backdoor' was Telnet service, sighs Vodafone

Fursty Ferret


Characterising this sort of Telnet service as a covert backdoor for government spies is a bit like describing your catflap as an access portal that allows multiple species to pass unhindered through a critical home security layer.

Yeah, but if you can reach through the catflap and unlock the door from the inside it's not that secure, is it? Now, you could have a microchip controlled catflap, but all you have to do is hang around for the appropriate passwor-, I mean, cat and stuff it through the flap first.

I think that catflaps should be the new way of describing security problems.

Sky customers moan: Our broadband hubs are bricking it

Fursty Ferret

Re: It's been years since . . . .

Still on a HG612 modem here which goes into a cheap Tenda mesh network (saves the Chinese government having to get my data from the core network when my system can send it directly to them).

Sky is a PITA though because you need a router that supports MER authentication followed by a Wireshark session to actually get the username and password.

Vodafone user here and actually really happy with the VDSL service (80/20, no problems so far but as per other ISPs their router sucks big time).

It's alive! Hands on with Microsoft's Chromium Edge browser

Fursty Ferret

I should think that Microsoft would be over the moon if they could bundle Chrome as the default browser in Windows 10. This hasn't happened for various reasons - they wanted a version that could live in their store - but you need to ask yourself: what does Microsoft get out of you using Edgium and why would they invest considerable amounts in making something that's effectively a copy of Chrome if they could have bundled the real thing?

It's not surprising that Bing is the default search provider, but the story is, as usual, more complicated behind the scenes than comes across in a Reg article about MS.

Only one Huawei? We pitted the P30 Pro against Samsung and Apple's best – and this is what we found

Fursty Ferret

There's a blindingly obvious reason Huawei gets loads of glowing reviews in the few days following the release - they're flying hundreds of people with tech blogs to the launch event and handing them a free flagship.

While El Reg isn't swayed by things like that unless blackjack and hookers are thrown in too, many people are. Even subconsciously, they're aware that it's a freebie and they're keen on getting the next version thrown at them too.

Uber won't face criminal charges after its robo-car killed woman crossing street

Fursty Ferret

Re: Why?

I would guess that if you're tired; you've been walking for a mile or more just to find somewhere to cross the road; your eyesight maybe isn't so good; and you're not a driver so you've not got much experience in judging oncoming traffic speed purely based on the headlights you might make a mistake like this?

Think about the number of people who'll pull out of a side road in front you when driving and force you to brake because they can't interpret your distance from them.

Fursty Ferret

Re: Safety driver?

Different attitude to road safety in the USA. You only have to look at the number of people using their phones while driving to realise that big changes are made. "Pedestrian at fault" sounds about right for most of the USA, and the rest of it is still fraught as you try to cross legally against traffic turning right at red lights and expecting you to jump out of the way.

Twilight of the sundials: Archaic timepiece dying out and millennials are to blame, reckons boffin

Fursty Ferret

One sympathises. I got tired of adjusting my ancient stone circle for Daylight Saving Time.

Drone goal! Quadcopter menace alert freezes flights from London Heathrow Airport

Fursty Ferret

Re: At least people can take comfort from the fact that ...

Last time I checked the certification requirements for airliners tend to involve losing an engine at the most critical point: still on the ground but too little runway left to stop. Loss of an engine at altitude is an inconvenience.

Tesla autopilot saves driver after he fell asleep at wheel on the freeway

Fursty Ferret

Defeat devices

It appears to be be possible (and has for some time) to circumvent the driver awareness system by wedging a water bottle or something of similar weight into the steering wheel, which fools it into thinking there's a hand on it. I should think that's what happened here.

The correct approach seems to be that taken by GM, which uses a camera system to track the driver's gaze and figure out if they're paying attention to the road or not. I'm also pleased to see that Volvos are immune to this little trick and use a different technique to detect a hand on the wheel.

Boeing 737 pilots battled confused safety system that plunged aircraft to their deaths – black box

Fursty Ferret

Re: Hey software, get the fuck out of the way!

Regarding Boeing apeing Airbus here...

There are some fundamental differences.

1. Airbus uses voted data from three or more sources. A single source fault will be automatically excluded, often with only a maintenance message after landing.

2. Because of the fly by wire nature you will never find yourself at the limit of your strength. This hugely increases capacity for decision making.

3. In the event of two simultaneously faulty air data sources, Airbus publish a simple and quick procedure to remove the flight control protections. It's two buttons.

4. They are also aware of a single faulty AoA vane triggering a stall warning at lift off, and all pilots know the memory actions associated with it (TOGA power, maintain pitch 15 degrees).

The first crew of this 787 that continued the flight actually demonstrated almost perfect decision making. So one of the stick shakers was going off. The situation was carefully evaluated, a clear risk assessment was made and the safe outcome of the flight was never in doubt.

Huawei Mate 20 series: China's best phone, but a pricey proposition

Fursty Ferret

Third party launchers blocked

This isn't being mentioned in any of the hands-on articles (too much fawning over the colour), but recent betas of EMUI 9 have disabled the option to run third party lauinchers (such as Nova Launcher or the Pixel Launcher).

There's a workaround but it involves using ADB to uninstall a lot of the Hauwei software, breaking other things in the process. Just a heads up.

Redis does a Python, crushes 'offensive' master, slave code terms

Fursty Ferret

Re: A silly issue, distracting from real work

Unfortunately there is a generation of US students who do get offended. I write 'unfortunately' because unfortunately for them it is highly unlikely I would ever offer them a job.

I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing to feel uncomfortable about terminology, and someone doesn’t have to agree with your point of view to work for you. A refusal to change with the times should be far more of a red flag to these potential employees, and in general you only have to skim the headlines to see how far an antiquated attitude gets you in IT.

As someone who just turned 30 the whole master/slave terminology was tired years ago, and I don’t think I’ve ever used it in my own architecture, preferring “Primary” and “Secondary”, both of which can be easily abbreviated to single syllable words.

What's AI good for? Industrial or consumer tech? Meh. Airliners? AHA, says UK.gov

Fursty Ferret

Err, no - current guidance is that when in icing conditions, you turn on the anti-icing systems. For engines that’s visible moisture and total air temperature less than 10C on an Airbus; wing anti icing when you can see ice on the ice detector or windscreen.

787 has automatic deicing so it’s hardly a new thing. Does drink fuel though on the Airbus as it taps bleed air from the engines.

The idea of waiting for a reasonable amount to build up went out 10 years ago, even on planes with pneumatic boots instead of heated leading edges.

Good news, bad news, weird news – it's the week in networking

Fursty Ferret

Oh, great: civil aviation wants to route messages over the Internet Protocol

Well, why not? The internet was designed to provide redundancy in the event of nuclear war, so provided an additional route for non-essential data traffic seems to be an ideal use case.

Datalink communications are still in their infancy for civil air transport. They only cover 40% of Europe (of which the UK is still more-or-less on a trial basis); there are two competing standards; half the time the aircraft just refuses to log on; the other half ATC don't notice and continue to issue voice instructions. Latency isn't an issue unless we're getting on for 30 seconds or so.

It does cut out of the verbal to-and-fro-ing that is a PITA across Rhein and Maastricht, and it's particularly useful for oceanic routing as it means that position reports are sent automatically, but it's worth noting that the datalink connection over oceans is via satellite.

I think the risks are minimal. It's not like VHF datalink communications are encrypted or secured in any way so a bigger threat is probably someone sat on their roof with a VHF transmitter, a laptop, and an evil plan.

No, eight characters, some capital letters and numbers is not a good password policy

Fursty Ferret

It's not surprising when you implement a system that forces people to change passwords every 3 months that you get passwords like "August2017" or "myusualpassword"+(number of times changed).

Now boffins are teaching AI to dial up chemo doses for brain cancer

Fursty Ferret

Exciting is one way to put it, we guess.

And once again a Reg hack exposes their ignorance of a complex subject. Given that your specialist subject area is cheap journalism and stuff like managed switches, as opposed to neurosurgery and machine learning, why not just report objectively?

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

Fursty Ferret

I'm guessing it's not that simple or that's how it would be done, but if my seat can weight how much I am so it knows how hard to blow the airbag up in my face, then surely it can scale up to weighing how much load is on the suspension of the plane?

Some can, but it's not accurate enough for reliable use. Sloping aprons, uneven tarmac, and wind will all throw off the calculation. The aircraft can calculate its own weight pretty accurately once airborne using aerodynamic data.

Fork it! Google fined €4.34bn over Android, has 90 days to behave

Fursty Ferret

Re: Not content with breaking the web

Ah, the Brexit brigade out again.

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

Fursty Ferret

Quite frustrating to find that on a recent train journey my EE phone connected to the train's own 4G picocell(?) instead of hopping along between masts. Naturally the connection was either throttled or overloaded - or both.

How hard can it be?

GPU fairy visits Huawei owners, leaves graphics boost under phones

Fursty Ferret

Unless you bought a UK P20 Pro, which is now more than 22 point releases behind the rest of the world in terms of software updates.

Completely ignored by Huawei since release and will definitely be my last Huawei phone.

The positive reviews on the Internet were universally written by people who received a free one.

Shining lasers at planes in the UK could now get you up to 5 years in jail

Fursty Ferret


You do realise that the novelty of bashing on cyclists wore off about five years ago, don’t you? Even Jeremy Clarkson rides a bike now and has stopped going on about it in his columns.

I have a lot of sympathy for someone who feels so vulnerable (and rightly so given the number of drivers on phones, texting, fiddling with sat navs, driving tired, on drugs, drunk, lazy, and basically incompetent for the job) that they feel they have to use bright lights to avoid being killed.

In general when I see a bright light I neither drive into it nor pull out in front, which is the whole reason for them. I’m trying to work out why you’d be bothered by this more than badly adjusted car headlights, motorbikes on high beam 24/7, or sitting behind someone with high intensity LED brake lights.

I can only assume that you represent the stereotypical view of an IT employee with implied weight and fitness issues. One might suggest that you try riding a bike along a section of your commute and see if you still think that bright lights are the primary safety issues to users of the road.

How do you get drones talking to air traffic controllers? Pretty easily, says Brit startup

Fursty Ferret

In some respects this project is missing the point. Controlled airspace isn't actually that extensive in the UK - we're talking about a relatively small diameter around some airfields, a protected area for instrument approaches, and airways / holds (all of which are relatively high level (5000ft and above, really).

So the first question to ask is: why does a drone operator want access to controlled airspace in the first place? In general unless you're right next to an airport you can happily fly your drone to about 1000ft AGL with reasonable confidence you won't cause a problem, and even if you did see a Cessna or something bumbling through the area you could drop your drone's height below 500ft pretty quickly.

Even if this is hypothetical planning for some new super-drone carrying passengers, there's again no reason why it would require access to controlled airspace. Emergency? Land it in a field and call for help on a phone.

This is a solution looking for a problem, IMHO.

Imagine you're having a CT scan and malware alters the radiation levels – it's doable

Fursty Ferret

Even a fault that required a second scan is bad enough given the radiation dose delivered during a full-body x-ray CT scan.

If a second scan failed it's likely the machine would be taken offline for troubleshooting - can you imagine if all the machines in a hospital - or across the country - failed simultaneously? That's the real risk in this scenario, not one person being given a higher dose*.

* I believe the accurate dose calculations are derived from the software running on a normal computer, but I'd be highly surprised if the machine itself wasn't capable of keeping track of the radiation delivered at a firmware level, even if it's a rough and ready estimate that will shut it down if it becomes extreme.

'I knew the company was doomed after managers brawled in a biker bar'

Fursty Ferret

When dispensing you must wear cryo gloves and the face mask (think wood turning).

Think I'm showing either my age or my university's lax attitude to the welfare of its students, but at the time the only requirement was to make sure the room was ventilated* and gloves were forbidden (the risk being, apparently, that momentary contact with skin wouldn't do any harm due to the insulating effect of the gas, but if it fell between a glove and the skin it'd cause nasty burns).

* I'm almost certain they found this out the hard way.

Nokia 8: As pure as the driven Android - it's a classy return

Fursty Ferret

but this is a false economy: if you make phones, you need your own Gallery app to show off your imaging smarts.

Must disagree. One of the most annoying thing about Android phones is the pointless app duplication insisted on by manufacturers when Google does perfectly reasonable ones already. Out of the box on most you get two calendar apps, two music apps, two gallery apps etc etc.

This is the right way to go, IMHO.

Lap-slabtop-mobes with Snapdragon Arm CPUs running Windows 10: We had a quick gander

Fursty Ferret

And you can't install Chrome on 10 S. You'll have to get Pro for that.

To be fair, it's not as if it would kill Google to add Chrome to the Windows App store.

Drone collisions with airliners may not be fatal, US study suggests

Fursty Ferret

Re: 250kts assumes

Exceeding 250kts below 10,000ft is a fairly common - some airspace doesn't actually have a speed restriction; other times it's for ATC's benefit; more often it's for us to either lose height quicker or make up time. Most well-built aircraft will happily descend at 340kts.

Some common sense required, obviously.

Seriously, friends. You suck at driving. Get a computer behind the wheel to save your life

Fursty Ferret

Re: A large chunk of accidents ...

The Sunday drivers aren't nearly as big a problem as the lycra-clad dickheads that use twisty country b roads as a velodrome. Those arseholes can be found every evening.

Would you prefer that they ride on A-roads? You do realise that roads weren't built for your express enjoyment? Come to think of it, why are you using B-roads when an A-road is probably the fastest route?

Also, what's lycra got to do with it? Seems to be a bit of an obsession amongst the anti-cycling brigade.

Voyager antenna operator: 'I was the first human to see images from Neptune'

Fursty Ferret

This may come across a bit rude, which is frankly my intention. You're a bit of a knob.

It's rare to find someone who's still enthusiastic about their job, and while you might hate yours (after all, you're on El Reg even as the working day begins), but that's no excuse for the ignorant cynicism you're demonstrating.



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