* Posts by Fursty Ferret

89 posts • joined 23 Feb 2016


NASA building network cables that can survive supersonic flight - could this finally deliver unbreakable RJ45 latching tabs?

Fursty Ferret

Re: No need to reinvent the wheel

>> liquid N2 : He : He3 : Printer Ink

Fixed it for you.

Watchdog signals Boeing 737 Max jets can return to US skies following software upgrade, pilot training

Fursty Ferret

Re: Dating back to the 1096s

I disagree. Something that relies on a combination of physical strength and bits of string to control the moving surfaces of a passenger aircraft should be relegated to the past where it belongs.

Having a computer in the middle allows for enormous redundancy and improved safety, along with better passenger comfort.

Apple now Arm'd to the teeth: MacBook Air and Pro, Mac mini to be powered by custom M1 chips rather than Intel

Fursty Ferret

Re: memory

I still don't understand how the iPad is able to transcode 4K video at about four times the speed of a Core i7 and nVidia GPU combo.

UK mapping agency the Ordnance Survey is heading into gaming territory with £6m tender for dev team

Fursty Ferret

I can't see why OS would expect to be able to flog their map data when (almost) equally good mapping / contour data is available for free from Openstreemap.

Ordnance Survey seem somewhat behind the curve here - historically they've been obsessed with protecting their data from third parties (ahem "taxpayers") to the extent that they completely missed the boat.

A decades-old lesson on not inserting Excel where it doesn't belong

Fursty Ferret

I cursed when trying to read a daily summary only to discover that it was in xlsx format. Google Docs managed to open it and I mentally admonished the government for using Excel to present data, but assumed that it was an export from a deeper and more complicated dataset.

I probably shouldn't have been surprised to learn that the entire thing was handled in an Excel spreadsheet.

Meet the new aviation insecurity, same as the old aviation insecurity: Next-gen ACAS X just as vulnerable to spoofing as its predecessor

Fursty Ferret

Re: real weaknesses of ACAS

Things changed markedly after that crash. TCAS is *always* followed. In a two pilot operation, the flying pilot will follow the TCAS instruction and the monitoring pilot will make a single radio transmission - "TCAS RA" - to inform ATC that they're no longer following their instructions.

The system also supports reversions so if one of the aircraft doesn't follow their TCAS resolution advisory it will change the plan. Most TCAS RAs are a consequence of high rates of climb or descent in the terminal area (aircraft separation is only 1,000ft).

I imagine the reason Heathrow is described as the ideal target is because of the four holding points surrounding the airport. You'd only have to trigger a climb from the lowest aircraft and the whole stack will climb in a sequence of TCAS RAs.

If the Samsung Galaxy S20 Fan Edition doesn't make you a fan, we don't know what will

Fursty Ferret

Re: Within 30 seconds of using it the phone was showing me ads

I've never had a pop-up ad on a Google phone.

Fursty Ferret

Technically impressive, but it's been Samsunged

I've had an extended play with one at the Samsung store here in Houston.


- Incredible screen. 120Hz refresh rate is the way forward, I think. Very bright on full brightness but fairly aggressive adaptive brightness when I turned on auto-brightness.

- Despite plastic back it feels well built.

- Guaranteed software updates and Google SafetyNet compatibility unlike some Chinese phones

- Good value for money on the Snapdragon 865.

- Stuff like Dex etc is handy if you might use it


- Despite recent advances, Samsung's Touchwiz / OneUI still stinks. Everything is too big, or too small, and there are duplicate apps for everything littering the phone. Want to uninstall them? Sorry, no.

- This same UI stalled and stuttered from time to time despite the CPU. Opening the Gallery surprised me as thumbnails populated one by one.

- Within 30 seconds of using it the phone was showing me ads and trying to get me to buy stuff in a theme store << this was the deciding factor.

I think it'll be the Pixel 5 for me.

It's Google's hardware launch day, and what do we get? A few Pixel phones, Nest kit, and another Chromecast

Fursty Ferret

Re: Hold For Me?

I'm sure it'll work well in the USA. Unfortunately Google have a pretty appalling track record of releasing Pixel features globally* so I doubt anyone in the UK will ever get to try it.

Which is not to say that I'm not tempted as I'm in the last month of a 24 month phone contract. Google Pixel or Samsung S20 FE? Or first iPhone?

* Delayed OS updates outside the USA, Google Duplex, spam call prevention, spam SMS prevention, advanced caller ID, visual voicemail, Live Caption, etc etc.

Howdy, er, neighbor – mind if we join you? Potential sign of life spotted in Venus's atmosphere

Fursty Ferret

I, for one, welcome our new phosginian overlords.

You Musk be joking: A mind-reading Neuralink chip in a pig's brain? Downloadable memories? Telepathy? Watch and judge for yourself

Fursty Ferret

Re: Reductionist science, thus fatally flawed speculative tech.

I think the brain elasticity mentioned in the comment above above is key to this. Despite being a bit of a media yuppy Kevin Warwick managed to demonstrate this with a simple ultra-sonic distance sensor on a baseball cap linked to the simple chip he put in his wrist. After a couple of hours of use he demonstrated instinctive flinching from an object moving towards him while blindfolded.

My crow soft adds audio transcription to premium Word Online... Only joking. It's pretty good if a bit on the slow side

Fursty Ferret

Re: Local dictation

Transcription is very different to dictation.

Fursty Ferret

Re: Local dictation

Depends. If your PC is reminiscent of a modern data centre running a neural network analysis on the recording, sure. Otherwise, it's off to the Cloud. ;-)

Surprising to the see the series of random capitalised Letters in the Style of Trump and his Tiny brain.

What would you prefer: Satellite-streamed cat GIFs – or a decent early warning of an asteroid apocalypse?

Fursty Ferret

Re: If only there were some kind of paint with 99.999% absorbtion

I think there can be over-heating issues if you paint the whole thing black.

Solar panels block the bulk of light from reaching the satellites, and I guess a pure black material would radiate back into space at not far off the same rate it receives heat.

Fasten a half-decent camera to the top of the satellite and use them as a huge distributed lens is my solution.

EU orders Airbus A350 operators to install anti-coffee spillage covers in airliner cockpits

Fursty Ferret

I also find it astonishing that sealed cups aren't mandated on all flight decks. Quite apart from spilling your drink over the avionics there's nothing quite as irritating as finding the cup holder sloshing with an inch of someone else's cold coffee following a turbulence encounter.

I bought my own pretentious reusable cup with a lid and Pret label. Interestingly my previous and suspiciously orange employer simply provided lids for the disposable cups.

Fitness freaks flummoxed as massive global Garmin outage leaves them high and dry for hours

Fursty Ferret

Re: As of now, 0555 GMT .... Still Struggling

The InReach service is still up and running, although you can't register new devices. Not sure what would happen if your billing date was yesterday though.

Only surprise for OnePlus fans with firm's latest tilt at the mid-market is a sub-€400 price tag

Fursty Ferret

Am I the only person who would happily pay the extra fiver for "proper" waterproofing? The manufacturer saying it'll probably survive a dunk or heavy rain shower isn't really good enough.

UK smacks Huawei with banhammer: Buying firm's 5G gear illegal from year's end, mobile networks ordered to rip out all next-gen kit by 2027

Fursty Ferret

I have to be honest - my feeling is that the anti-Huawei sentiment in the USA is purely and simply protectionism of the Apple brand. And I still think that.

I did raise an eyebrow at the rhetoric that came out of Huawei / China in the last fortnight over this, in particular the evil-villain "you'll live to regret this" sort of stuff. I appreciate that this sort of flowery language is very much a Far East thing exacerbated by translation into English but it probably didn't help public perception here (we are, after all, a country that is so monumentally stupid a large proportion of people think face masks are an attack on their personal liberties).

Ultimately I think that if China wants to know about vulnerabilities in our telecommunications networks the most reliable way would be to find the person who installed it and hit them with a big spanner until they divulge the details.

The other possibility *dons tinfoil hat* is that Huawei refused to allow GCHQ to install their own backdoors in order to spy on UK residents and citizens.

[Speaking as the owner of a Huawei Mate 20 Pro, nearly two years old now and still demolishing the competition].

July? British government could decide to boot Chinese giant Huawei from the UK's networks by this month

Fursty Ferret

We're asking the wrong question

Instead of asking "Is Huawei a security risk?", I think we should be asking why the security services are sending critical data over public networks without robust protection at the source.

Hey, Boeing. Don't celebrate your first post-grounding 737 Max test flight too hard. You just lost another big contract

Fursty Ferret

Re: One question

Just to clarify this:

All aircraft with underslung engines have a pitch-power couple, and it's either accommodated for by the pilot (737, 747 etc) or by the flight control computers (Airbus, B777, B787 etc). It isn't a problem normally.

The problem is that the "pull" force on the flight controls should increase linearly up to the stall. By mounting the engines so far forward Boeing caused a complicated headache with regard to the aerodynamics on the Max, and as speed reduced in level flight with high angles of attack, the column force *decreased*. This is a very undesirable attribute.

The solution / bodge is MCAS, which would trim forwards in this situation and effectively increase the force required from the pilot to maintain the high angle of attack.

An unfortunate bit of product placement for Microsoft as Liverpool celebrates winning some silverware

Fursty Ferret

What am I missing?

It's not a bork or product placement.

If you can't be bothered to license your software properly though either incompetence, laziness, penny-pinching (or, no doubt, a combination of all three) then you have no-one to blame but yourself.

Don't forget the overwhelming satisfaction back in the day that used to result from replacing a popular hot-linked JPG with another image. It was up to you whether you went with the "Stolen from [insert website name here] or went straight to the Lemming porn.

Laws on police facial recognition aren't tough enough, UK data watchdog barrister tells Court of Appeal

Fursty Ferret

Re: Not surprised

Which is fine if it's the barristers asking the yes or no questions. But when you have the judge asking a string of questions of which the answer is "sometimes", "possibly", "maybe", then drawing conclusions based on a misunderstanding of the facts, you have a failure of the system.

You might like it to be as straightforward as you describe but it very rarely goes that way.

Fursty Ferret

Not surprised

I was called as a witness in a relatively technical case where it was obvious to me that the judge didn't understand the complexities.

I'm sure that this is commonplace and it left me deeply frustrated along with a very sour view of our legal system.

Couple wrongly arrested over Gatwick Airport drone debacle score £200k payout from cops

Fursty Ferret

Police chasing their own drones

I was told from a fairly reputable source that after the initial sighting the police launched their own drone (or drones) to see if they could find the perps responsible - or indeed the empty carrier bag that may have been the "drone").

Unfortunately they forgot to tell Gatwick airport this, whose staff kept seeing drones in the airport vicinity and reporting them to the police while holding air traffic indefinitely.

My guess is that the arrest of these two people was to distract from the monumental fuck-up by the police and it's quite rightly been dismissed in Court with compensation offered. I also think it's pretty appalling of the police to have fought this so hard and run up an enormous legal bill that will be settled at the public's expense.

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.



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