* Posts by brainwrong

122 posts • joined 7 Aug 2007


Ceefax replica goes TITSUP* as folk pine for simpler times



I don't think pong consoles used microprocessors, way too expensive at the time.

I have a rather knackered old Grandstand match of the day 2000 pong type console, with 4 games.

The switches and control pots all need replacing badly. (and probably the capacitors and other bits).

The way the screen flickers as the contacts make/break randomly gives the game away that internally there's just a bunch of registers, counters, comparators and other glue logic to make it work. There is no frame buffer, the video signal is created in real time with digital logic circuits, using digitised analogue paddle signal, game select/mode switches, and horizontal/vertical video counters as input.

I think it may be stretching things a little to describe speak&spell as being microprocessor based, but I don't know much about that. I do know it's somewhat inaccurate to say it had a speech synsthesis chip in it, it used audio compression with a very low data rate.

Robotic arm on China's space station does a demo, swings out 20 degrees and back while holding cargo ship


Where to?

"which can lift objects weighing up to 20 tonnes"

Did it lift something up? Which way was that? How much mass did it move?

Time to party like it's 2002: Acura and Honda car clocks knocked back 20 years by bug



Easy solution =>

1) stop being lazy fucknuts and learn to read a map, there's plenty available in print and online. satnav not needed.

2) set your clocks manually using the pips on the hour on radio. use proper FM radio.

I despair at humans being so lazy that they become dependant on technology that they're too lazy to make work correctly.

Why machine-learning chatbots find it difficult to respond to idioms, metaphors, rhetorical questions, sarcasm


Re: Changed Days Require and Deliver Novel Ways and Means and Advanced IntelAIgent Memes ‽ .

"Because the sentences never make sense"

I agree they can be hard to decipher, but the posts in this thread made sense to me, although many don't. I'm mostly too lazy.

I'm not sure why dolphins need to communicate accurate directions, but bees can so it's not out of the question. More likely they can lead others to interesting places. They're certainly able to teach each other foraging tricks. The point of the comment was that different beings (human, animal or chatbot) don't have the same reference points on which to base effective communication.

"You have assumed that, since we can't understand their communications, it must include everything."

Err, I said everything they need to communicate. We may not know much of exactly what that is, but the species are still alive so must be doing something right.


Re: Changed Days Require and Deliver Novel Ways and Means and Advanced IntelAIgent Memes ‽ .

"this bot's overdue for a shutdown."

Why would you think he's a bot?

I see him as someone who sees the world around him very differently from you or me.

Communication between parties depends on them having a common understanding of the world they inhabit. That's kind of what the article is about. It's also why we can't communicate with dolphins, they are more than capable of communicating amongst themselves everything that they need to to live in their world, but that world doesn't overlap our human world.

If someone has in their head a different model of the world to yours, that doesn't mean their opinions are any less worthy, it just means the communicating with them might be more difficult.

This is why social media's creation of bubbles around people is leading to increased political polarisation, I see this as extremely dangerous.

There's a point beyond which more talking is a hindrance to progress, not a help. I used to socialise on usenet, and saw plenty of discussions there descend into insults. It's all happened before.

Allowing the unwashed masses onto the internet is ruining it. That also happened before on usenet: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eternal_September

It's about time we put a stop to the ever-increasing pace and madness of technology development, I think we should take note of the Golgafrinchans and build 3 large arks to evacuate the planet (Elon could build them), but this time send the 'A' ark first.

NASA picks spot at Moon's South Pole to perform first ice-drilling experiment


Zoom on the Moon!

"hopes of setting up a 4G/LTE system on the Moon at some point so that astronauts can stream high-definition video and keep in contact"

I'd hate to think what the roaming charges will be!

The return of the turbo button: New Intel hotness causes an old friend to reappear



All that my turbo button did was change which combination of segments were lit on a pair of 7 segment LED displays on the front panel.

Was I short-changed?

Chinese developers rebel against long working hours with crowdsourced tell-all on employers


Re: Perhaps we could have a version of this for the west as well

"If you're low enough down (as the majority are), then pointing out that your bosses are treating you like crap has a word - insubordination."

Doesn't mean you shouldn't stand up for yourself. If more people did this then we wouldn't have such a problem with crap jobs in this country. People don't want to rock the boat, but that's exactly what they should be doing.

Boffins unveil SSD-Insider++, promise ransomware detection and recovery right in your storage


I can't trust this bit >

"For recent HDDs - e.g., SMR [Shingled Magnetic Recording] drives - based on append-only magnetic media, the same idea of SSD-Insider++ can be directly applied," Lee told us."

Some testing I did on a DM-SMR drive I own indicated that large writes went directly to the shingled tracks, because they can. Only small writes and probably the start and end of large writes (i.e. not a full set of shingled tracks) go to the buffer area. So this won't work on SMR HDD's.

In any case, even with SSD's this all depends on the disk not being too full, is there enough internal overcapacity to guarantee its function?

Toyota reveals its work on an honest-to-goodness cloak of invisibility


Evolution got there first

One of the odder animals out there, the Barreleye fish looks vertically up through its transparent head!


UK's National Cyber Security Centre recommends password generation idea suggested by El Reg commenter


Re: Strong like this?

"On the other hand, bork.badger.bork.badger would take 10000+ centuries!"

So that would take a million years on a typical home PC.

The last article I read mentioned a tianhe supercomputer that's still 4th in the top500 list of known computers. It has over 10 million cores, lets say it's a million times more powerfull than a typical PC. Given that password cracking is an embarrassingly parallel problem, this machine may be expected to take a year. You need to consider who you are defending yourself from and what resources they may use against you, both now and in the future.

"Unless bruteforcing doesn't mean what I think it means."

You don't just build up passphrases to test from individual characters, you create a list of characters and words in order of decreasing expected probability, and combine these into candidate passphrases to test based on their probability. The word 'rhythmic' is more likely to appear in a passphrase than the letter sequence 'cmyihtrh' or 'cihtyhmr' or 'tyrcimhh' or 'yihchtrm', so it's worth testing such passphrases earlier.

For strong passphrases I would suggest 4 (or 5!) random words, with some deliberate corruption, such as mis-spelling, extra inserted characters (a couple of numerals or punctuation marks ought to be good), some random capitalisation, maybe move any word-separating characters about. You don't need much of this, but avoid obvious substitutions such as '0' for 'o' etc. You should end up with non-dictionary words which are hopefully not too difficult to remember. Stick to common punctuation marks, there are pitfalls with different character encodings.

To remember passphrases, use them, use them, USE THEM.

Or write them down, but this creates new risks.

I'm no expert BTW.

Starlink's latent China crisis could spark a whole new world of warcraft


Re: Its very easy to detect ground based broadcasts

"Your first instinct is correct, why let them in? you are not required to prove you don't have a TV, just send them on their way."

Dunno, just to see if it made them stop I think. It didn't matter either way, I genuinely don't receive TV broadcasts any more so there's no risk of me being caught out.

"If they want to waste money continually sending you threatening letters then that's their own problem."

That's my general attitude, I still get fed up opening the damn things.

It's a pretty lame way of enforcing the rules, combined with the usually quite low fines for people who are prosecuted.


Re: Its very easy to detect ground based broadcasts

"given that TV detector vans exist in the UK"

No they don't. I don't think they ever have.

That was a scare tactic used until sometime in the 90's. I saw one once in 1990 on the university campus, licensing officials walked round the halls of residence knocking on doors and asking if anyone had a television, that wouldn't have been necessary if the vans were real. I happened to be out when they knocked, my TV used for my CPC464 went undiscovered. I was outside, looking at an old panel van. There were 4 ordinary tv aerials fixed to the outside on top, one on each corner. Visible inside was an assortment of 1950's era tv production equipment. No-one was in it doing anything, such as detecting tv's.

The current scare tactic is for crapita to send scary looking letters out to everyone who hasn't bought a tv licence, threatening to open an investigation, or maybe send someone round. The letters can be safely ignored (I haven't received any since i burned the last batch). Someone once did come round whilst I was in. I let them in to show them the back of my telly, where I had removed the tuner head so it was unable to receive broadcasts. She wasn't interested, or didn't understand, and asked me to turn it on to see it not receiving a signal. The letters stopped for a couple of years after that, then started again. They seem to think I'm going to reply to them each year to declare that I don't have a telly, fuck that.

Google looks at bypass in Chromium's ASLR security defense, throws hands up, won't patch garbage issue



"As [Oilpan] can’t distinguish integers from pointers, if an integer points to an allocated object, it just assumes that it’s a valid pointer and marks the object" as in use

How f*cking shoddy is that?

We're building the modern world on computers and that's the best we can do?

Watt's next for batteries? It'll be more of the same, not longer life, because physics and chemistry are hard


Gurgling Cheese!

"For an expendable battery, such as a lead-acid battery"

I'm no expert on batteries, but I can see several errors in this article, of which the above is the stupidest and most obvious.

Was this written by a bot from phys.org or something?

ZERO-G DINOSAUR made from bits and bobs by space station flight engineer

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Did she take any bits off of Luca Parmitano's spacesuit?

Confirmed: Driverless cars to hit actual British roads by end of year


Who the fuck will I be able to shout at?

"Seriously, who is going to pay full attention when they have no actual need to control the car?"

This is the single most intelligent and accurate comment in the whole debate. Think about it.

From the main article:

"It's a great area to be working in because it's IT and computers and that's what changes things."

And that's the stupidest justification for doing anything. Does nobody think about the effects and consequences of the jobs they do anymore? Just because somebody will pay you to do something doesn't mean it's a good idea, it just means that they think they can make money out of you. We've totally forgotten personal responsibility in our career choices, and it depresses me.

Boffins chill out with new temperature measurement


Marks deducted...

"The triple point is a definition rather than a measurement: the three states of water can be calculated to exist at 0.1°C and a partial vapour pressure of 611.73 pascals – in kelvin, 273.16K."

Err, you missed a zero, it's 0.01 celcius. Everyone knows that, yet even QI got it wrong once.

And I'm pretty sure it's not calculated to be anything, the triple point of any pure substance is just whatever it happens to be, but it is fixed and easily reproducible which makes it a very good reference point.

Here's a thought:

The newton is defined in terms of the kilogram, which is a problem unit to define. Triple points don't just have a precise temperature, they also have a precise pressure. Could that be used to define the newton, and hence the kilogram?

Good news: Debian 7 is rock solid. Bad news: It's called Wheezy


Have they fixed the bugs from the last stable release?

I was rather disappointed when I switched to debian linux (squeeze) for my new computer.

1) Nautilus file manager mixed up file names when running multiple large file-copy operations simultaneously.

2) There are race issues with the startup on multicore processors.

3) Graphics card support is dire. The PCIe card uses the closed source fglrx driver which won't do custom resolutions/timing properly, the onboard adapter uses the open source driver which has no features, and the 2 won't work together for dual monitor operation.

I used to be able to do so many more things with my old win98 system than I can get this linux system to do.

Forget the invisibility cloak: Boffins invent INVISIBILITY FISHNETS


Oddly shaped objects

My car is oddly shaped*, can I cover it with this stuff to sneak past speed cameras??

* Why don't they put corners on cars nowdays? They're all just blobs, not a single straight edge by which to judge parking. And they have distorting wing mirrors to make you cross-eyed just as you want to change lanes on the motorway, it's bonkers!

Scan your branes LIVE IN REAL-TIME, thanks to GPU-surfin' boffins



"found that a 12.7 Teraflop-per-second, two-socket Xeon system with 96GB RAM and four Nvidia GTX 580 (total of 8 GPUs) will do the trick"

That's a lot of TeraFlops per second from some graphics GPU units soldered to a PCB board with some RAM memory!

Flops == Floating-point Operations Per Second, for any stupid people watching.

Elon Musk's 'Grasshopper' hover rocket scores another test success


Strange comment

"At touchdown, the thrust to weight ratio of the vehicle was greater than one"

Of course it was, what a pointless thing to say! Or is that just a fancy way of saying that it didn't crash land?

Brit boffins GANG-RESEARCH tiny LEDs for 1Gbps network


"And by making each LED a subtly different colour, they can all transmit separate data streams, which means 1,000 of them packed into a square millimetre can outperform existing techniques a million times over."

Given that current LED's are not monochromatic, I think someone's being a bit optimistic there.

To answer Norm DePlume, yes you could make proper white LED's by putting lots of small differently coloured LED chips in a single package.


Donkeys years ago there was an article in new scientist about the invention of the gallium nitride blue LED. They mentioned that it would be possible to combine the blue with orange light to make a white LED. I thought at the time that whilst it may appear white to look at directly, the colour rendering of such a beast would be terrible. Unfortunately that's pretty much what the manufacturers did. Now we have bright LED torches that are hard to see by, stupid flashing bike lights that cause loads of glare because of the blue content, and now the world is filling up with cars with over-bright daylight running lights! I fucking hate it all!


Is that a truncheon in your trousers, officer, or ... an antenna, you say?


That claim again....

'by combining the signals one can achieve a **much higher** level of accuracy than any network alone can offer'

Wouldn't this require that the clocks are synchronized between the different systems?

Other than the americans telling the europeans what the time is, i can't see that happening between any of the 4 or 5 systems.

europe has already let america interfere with the development of Galileo, we should be telling them to fuck off.

Oak Ridge lab: Behold, I Am TITAN, hear my 20 petaflop ROAR


"...the US Department of Energy hopes will facilitate significant breakthroughs in research in the physics, combustion, materials science, nuclear energy, and combustion."

Are they planning to set fire to it?

New nuclear fuel source would power human race until 5000AD


Processing seawater

Is it possible to process 1.3 billion cubic kilometers of seawater in 6500 years?

Thats 22.8 km^3 per hour, how much power needed to pump that through the extraction plants?

Also, where do you put the depleted seawater so as not to dilute the remaining water even more?

I wouldn't be surprised if even the natural ocean currents take longer than that to circulate most of the water.

If only we could stop trying to apply capitalism to everything we try to do then maybe we could do nuclear properly, with real security, over-engineering, breeder reactors, research, open international co-operation for the benefit of all, and probably lots of other stuff needed too. But that's all expensive and politically unpaletable, and it'll be a long time before we're in enough shit for that to change.

Yeah, I know I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. see first bit of comment.

Captain Cyborg accepts another degree from puny humans


Re: REAL cyborgs are those living daily with implants

Doesn't everything now have more compute power than the Apollo missions?

I used to install a PIC-chip based nurse-call system in care homes, each call point had more compute power than the Apollo guidance computers, all they did was make a light blink and tell other devices on the system to make a bleeping noise.

It was a very good system, shame the salesmen we worked for were such cunts.

bleep bleeeeep!

Kiwi pooches turn into ROACH MUNCHING DOPE FIENDS


Re: To quote one of my favourite T-shirts...

And mine...

"nine out of ten voices in my head agree that drugs are good for you"

Flexible Willow glass displays thin and curvy gadget future



Surely the flexibility comes from it's thin-ness, similar to glass fibres.

More marketing bullshit?

European Space Agency heads for Jupiter's moons

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Good choice

Glad they're not doing the gravity wave thing. I don't know the finer details of general relativity, but to me the idea of using a laser inferometer to measure changes in the fabric of spacetime rather smacks of using a ruler to measure itself to see if it got any longer.

Jupiter is magnificent, it's a shame that we didn't evolve on one of it's moons, the view would be awesome, and it wouldn't be so fucking sunny in the summer. Would we then consider sending probes to the funny little wet blue planet in the inner solar system?

Toy Story: Mystic Met needs swanky new kit, swoon MPs



The weather is a chaotic system.

Even if we know the precise differential equations to simulate it, the real weather will diverge from our calculated prediction simply because we can't measure the current state of the weather perfectly. Any error in our measurement of the current weather, however tiny, will be magnified with time. Predicting weather weeks/months in advance is foolish.

Meteorologist Edward Lorenz stumbled upon this phenomenon in 1961 while running computer simulations of convection cells.

As an aside, I hope those mini-weather-stations on a pole that I keep seeing by the roadside aren't used to collect met-office data. How are you meant to get reliable wind and temperature data with big trucks whizzing past!

Laser boffins blast bits onto hard drive at 200Gb/sec


missing more details

The obvious detail missing is how heat creates the magnetic field in the first place!

Is this a newly discovered phenomenon, or something already known or predicted that's just been done for the first time? Does this technique have a name?

- wearing my laser safety goggles.

Saudi oil minister praises renewable energy


Typical innaccurate green bollocks

"The Kingdom experiences roughly 3,000 hours of sunshine per year, emitting about 7,000 watts of energy per square metre,"

Unless the kingdom is in orbit aroud venus, then I'm not believing that shit.

At least it wasn't watts per hour.

Super-powered 'frankenmalware' strains detected in the wild



If different software can breed then why hasn't linux bred with windows to create a robust OS with a graphical frontend that can run more than just a few half-written apps?

- a dissapointed linux user.

More Brits desert high streets to spend £50bn online



"The average Brit web shopper spent about £1,400 online, picking out 39 items, in 2011..."

Does that include delivery charges, and how much were they?

As for not being home to accept delivery, I get stuff delivered to a friends. The few sites I've bought from have all allowed me to enter a delivery address different to the invoice address.

Boffins quarrel over ridding world of leap seconds


What's the fuss about?

so things that haven't been designed and/or tested properly to work with leap seconds use the time standard which has leap seconds.

well, duh.

those things should use TAI, the time standard without leap seconds.

the changeover may be problematic (adding back in the 34 leap seconds so far in one lump), but it only needs to be done once.

personally i still can't see the point in daylight saving time. fucking do-gooders. I don't wish to get up an hour earlier every day for the whole summer and autumn.

LG: 1mm bezel on your telly, anyone?


"Instead of flipping rapidly between left eye and right eye images, to create the 3D effect, the telly can swap player one and player two screens, so each gamer sees the correct viewpoint."

What does this sentence actually mean, and what's it got to do with a bezel?

NASA's twin GRAILs reunite in lunar orbit



Why does everything need an app? It's a fucking smartphone, it has a web browser, just bookmark the website! Are people really that lazy?

Oh, and why are you running ads that change size just as the page has loaded and you're about to click the link to the next story, causing the link to jump out from under my carefully positioned pointer? It's really really really irrrrrrrrrrrrrrrritating!

It is. So please stop it. Why are you accepting money from microsoft for ads, we all hate them.

WTF, because everything now makes as much sense as Spike Milligan on acid.

Latest El Reg project: Rise of the Robot Sheep

This post has been deleted by a moderator

Iran spy drone GPS hijack boasts: Rubbish, say experts


Mindless speculation

The Iranians transmit some kind of gibberish at the command channel of the drone. Something trips a bug, and the computer resets. When the computer restarts, it thinks "FUCK! What's going on!" and promptly lands.


Genetically modified mutants 'safe for release' into the wild



"Concerns that this might result in those populations being completely replaced by the superior lab-developed individuals can be addressed, they say, by the use of cunningly selected mutants"

Haven't these idiots heard of evolution? People like this are certainly arrogant enough to think that they can do better than evolution, and they are foolish. Evolution will likely do something totally unexpected with the modified genes. We still know so very little about how it all works.

Brussels: Water cannot be sold as remedy for dehydration


Heath benefits?

Why the fuck do these idiots feel they need to advertise the heath benefits of water?

Doesn't everyone just know what water is?

"My water is heathier than yours!". The world just gets more and more depressingly stupid.

I still don't understand why people buy icecubes.

Maybe they should try claiming it to be a placebo for alcohol, that would be more fun, drunk people who pass breath tests. Can I patent that stupid idea?

Smart meters: Nothing can possibly go wrong, says gov


"...told Parliament on Wednesday that a comprehensive risk assessment programme would accompany the deployment of the technology"

Accompany? Wouldn't "preceed" be the correct way of doing it?

I think I'll have to try hacking the thing myself to do the modern equivalent of bypassing the meter.

Fujitsu busts K super through 10 petaflops

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@Steve 48

Excellent idea! Slow mode or Fast mode?

The ZX81 didn't do double precision, it used a 40 bit format (documented in the excellent manual).

I don't know the flops rating of a ZX81, and I should think that the difference between adds and multiplies (done in software) would be much larger than modern hardware, which may complicate comparisons.

For a rough idea, a mandelbrot renderer I wrote in BASIC on a CPC464 (same Z80 running at similar speed, also 40 bit FP) achieved about 166 iterations per second. That was 4 adds and 4 multiplies, giving a whopping 1333 Flops!

Re-writing it in PASCAL tripled the speed, at the expense of reduced precision of 32 bit.

That was still so dreadfully slow that I re-wrote it again in Z80 assembler, bumping the precision back to 40 bit with my own routines. That ran at double the speed again, 1000 iterations/sec. Here I was able to replace a multiply by 2 with a single INC instruction, so I'll only claim 7 ops per iteration for 7 KFlops. I was still running renders up to 2 days at 320x400 resolution.

I have no idea how fast double precision could be done on a Z80, which is what is needed for a true comparison, maybe someone has done it and knows?

Is your old hardware made of gold, or just DIRT?


Digging up ore

There must be lots of ore buried in landfill, I'm sure that at some point in the future we'll be digging some of it back up.

As an aside, I'm curious to know whether modern solders are formulated in any way to reduce the occurrence tin whiskers.

interesting article.

@EddieD - surely a Cray-1 is worth something as a museum piece / historical artifact.

Airbus brews Scandium smackdown for carbon Dreamliner



"The most a failure of the latter (bicycle) can do is ruin one's crotch or day"

That's complete bollocks, as has already been mentioned elsewhere.

Anyone using an aluminium bicycle frame is nuts, and should be forced to take physics lessons to understand why. Steel only suffers metal fatigue when it is flexed more than a minimum amount, aluminium suffers metal fatigue when flexed by *any* amount. This was found out the hard way, when early alu aircraft fell out of the skies.

Aluminium is used for aircraft because weight is critical for performance and viability. Aircraft get lots of R&D to minimise the problems of aluminium, and regular thorough examinations to pick up the majority(*) of problems that still exist.

I doubt the same could be said for most bicycle frames.

(*) not all, i remember only this year a plane had a hole rip out of the fuselage skin, above the luggage racks IIRC. I don't think anybody was sucked out and torn limb from limb.

Corning launches can-stand-the-heat Lotus glass for phones


@ salerio

No, they don't need to say WHAT per degree C, thermal expansion is just a ratio.

How much it expands depends on how much you've got.

ITU heralds ultra-high def TV progress


I have a use for it

Just as soon as Xaos gains BigNum support, Multithread support, GPU acceleration and can distribute calculations across a large cluster (such as a second hand Tianhe supercomputer), then I want one!

Won't be needing 22.2 sound for that.

I don't expect the hardware to be cheap, except maybe the Tianhe.

Gravity wave detector gets more sensitive


I'm doubtful

These inferometric gravity wave detectors rather smack of using a ruler to measure itself.

Fingerprint scans learn to spot chopped-off fingers


Dead finger

Do they have a real chopped-off finger with which they can test their new scanner?

Dunno who the guy in the tiny little icon is, but he looks like the sort of person who would have a severed finger in one of his pockets.



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