* Posts by David Pearce

239 posts • joined 8 Aug 2007


Alan Turing Institute to spend UK.gov grants on AI for air traffic control and banking

David Pearce

Safety integrity level software?

I thought that AI was very hard to show what it was actually doing. As you cannot get much more safety critical than ATC, this will be "interesting"

AI will discover patterns, which might be real or might be side effects of something else that has not been factored into the training data sets.

Windows 10 to hang on for five more years with 21H2 update

David Pearce

Industrial use

Real world users are often still on Windows 7.

I have no end of problems on big projects that have installed radio systems with Windows machines lurking in the management and configuration. These cannot be upgraded because the equipment was type approved with a set of software that is now frozen for the lifetime, maybe 15 years.

NASA signs $1bn deal with Northrop Grumman to build studio apartment in lunar orbit with room for 3 vehicles

David Pearce

Orbital decay is not from the negligible atmosphere, you only have to worry about the effects of the Earth and Sun tugging

DARPA nails cash to project 'FENCE' — a smart camera that only sends pics when pixels change

David Pearce


The reason that MPEG works with describing block motion is that in the real world of shaky cameras and turbulence the entire image shifts a few pixels in some random direction.

Encoding by pixel change only works if everything is VERY steady

Richard Branson plans to trump Jeff Bezos by 9 days in billionaires' space race

David Pearce

The VG craft is probably similar risk to a helicopter flight, but Bezos is taking a far greater risk sitting on top of a controlled explosion. Spaceflight is not for people who need to buy life insurance

Microsoft approved a Windows driver booby-trapped with rootkit malware

David Pearce

There is serious real money to be made in "eSports" these days, so expect more criminal activity

Hubble’s cosmic science is mind-blowing, but its soul celebrates something surprising about us

David Pearce

Was the issue that the KH-11 mirror actually focused on the earth and not infinity?

Now that China has all but banned cryptocurrencies, GPU prices are falling like Bitcoin

David Pearce

Diamonds are manipulated

If you ever sell diamonds, you will be lucky to get 10% of what you paid.

Gold is very different, you can sell it at a tiny loss in Asia.

South Korea bans 1700 tech products for using forged test reports

David Pearce

The tests should include RF immunity too. This is the part that gets cheated on as it costs a lot more to do and many people think that the CE tests are just emissions

Hubble Space Telescope to switch to backup memory module after instrument computer halts

David Pearce

I just hope the JWST actually launches safely and works correctly., remember the Hubble out of focus error. It seems to have been being built and tested forever.

Where the JWST is going, there is no chance of a repair mission, also a lot more radiation as it is outside the Earths Van Allen belts

Japan assembles superteam of aircraft component manufacturers to build supersonic passenger plane

David Pearce


It may be touting green fuel, but I don't see how it avoids spewing out nitrogen oxides into the stratosphere. The engines have to run hot with reheat to do their job.

Concorde was also just a little bit noisy at take off, even by the standards of 707s. Modern aircraft are much quieter than in the 70s. There is no getting around that you cannot make a supersonic wing work efficiently at 200 kts.

Amazon exec's husband jailed for two years for insider trading. Yes, with Amazon stock

David Pearce

Only doing it once

One thing I notice is that these people caught all repeated the trading many times.

I wonder how many control their greed and only trade once. Far harder to prove the connection in that case

Boffins improve on tech that extracts DC power from ambient Wi-Fi

David Pearce

Old wives tales

There is no way that an array of antennas more than a few wavelengths from a transmitter can extract much power. At long wave you might stand a chance of a usable power coupling, enough to be noticed. At UHF or above you will always be in the Far Field.

The old Crystal Palace TV transmitter used to radiate at 1 MW ERP, which at 100 m works out as 8 W/m2

This is 55 V/m, well above safety limits.

You would need several antennas to run a single light bulb

US Treasury wants to treat cryptocurrencies like cash – as in you need to report $10k+ transactions

David Pearce

But it is "money"

Any time I want to move for than USD 10000 between countries, it has been reported to the national bank for many years under anti money-laundering laws..

Why should moving BTC around be a free pass to avoiding this?

China says its first Mars rover Zhurong has landed on the Red Planet

David Pearce


This proves that China is capable of producing top quality equipment when they want to. Landing on Mars has been proved again and again to be really hard

10.8 million UK homes now have access to gigabit-capable broadband, with much of the legwork done by Virgin Media

David Pearce


You do realize that Starlink is a shared bandwidth, A single satellite passing overhead is serving how many potential customers?

This is a reasonable summary - better than ADSL


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

David Pearce

Rainbow Tables

Pre computed rainbow tables are readily available up to 9 or 10 characters depending on the options.

You can guess that serious TLAs can go up to about 12.

Absolutely fab: As TSMC invests $100bn to address chip shortage, where does that leave the rest of the industry?

David Pearce

Natural Disasters

Taiwan is prone to earthquakes and typhoons, bioth not good for a chip fab.

I would prefer new fabs to be a bit more dispersed

Russia, China say anyone will be able to use their south pole Moon base for 'peaceful' science and exploration

David Pearce

I don't see how an orbital station is usable. The Moon has no protective magnetosphere, so in a low lunar orbit you would still need massive radiation shielding.

At least on the surface you can dig in

OVH founder says UPS fixed up day before blaze is early suspect as source of data centre destruction

David Pearce

Re: Fuel

Nothing on most circuit boards supports fire

GPS jamming around Cyprus gives our air traffic controllers a headache, says Eurocontrol

David Pearce


There was a time when there was a navigator on board and later an engineer to give the pilots time to navigate.

Aircraft fly much closer together these days and in bad weather, which makes manual navigation inadequate

I haven't bought new pants for years, why do I have to keep buying new PCs?

David Pearce

Desktops last longer

I had a 2010 I5 machine that lasted ten years before hardware death and the end of Windows 7 support.

Reasonable specification ie enough RAM, meant that the only issue was the early I5 cache security patches crippling multi-threading and making it struggle with anti-virus

Dangerous flying car drone zoomed into UK's Gatwick Airport airspace after killswitch failed

David Pearce

The UK is not as relaxed about "experimental" aircraft as the USA and calling the planned manned version a "drone" is an attempt to dodge very strict regulations

Not being required to have a GNSS is remarkable. You would hope that loss of signal shoul make the aircraft freeze and hold position for a while to get gignal back and failing that land gently. This machine is way to heavy to just drop

Nvidia cripples Ethereum mining on GeForce RTX 3060 to deter crypto bods from nabbing all the kit at launch

David Pearce

The last few weeks several mining syndicates have had their hardware confiscated after being detected stealing electricity where I am.

My thoughts are that at the current prices paying for power may be economic, so this could be inter gang warfare going on.

Would you buy a second hand graphics card that had been run at 110% 24x7 for years, the MTBF has been eaten away.

Just 2.6% of 2019's 18,000 tracked vulnerabilities were actively exploited in the wild

David Pearce

The ones that get used discretely?

I wonder how many more get used sparingly by various TLAs around the world.

Post-COVID-19 biz travel: Jet in, go to hotel, meet in rooms sliced into sealed halves to separate locals and visitors. Still get jetlag

David Pearce


13 hours in a tube each way from London and there are several cases of spreading that have to have been on the flight

You cannot even exchange brown envelopes

Supermicro spy chips, the sequel: It really, really happened, and with bad BIOS and more, insists Bloomberg

David Pearce

Absent evidence

The Trump administration would have been so pleased to show proof that China was spying and never did.

Dept of If I'd Known 20 Years Ago: Call centres, roosting chickens, and Bitcoin

David Pearce

I wonder how many Bitcoins have been lost. Some of my colleagues played with mining in the early days, it is very likely that their coins have been lost on an old disk, stolen from Mt Gox or they have died without telling anyone about them.

Bitcoin is a staggeringly difficult asset to pass safely to your inheritors after your death

Habitable-zone exoplanet potentially spotted just around the corner in Alpha Centauri using latest telescope technique

David Pearce

Most exoplanets have been found by their transiting the star and dimming it. For this to happen, we have to get REALLY luck on alignment and it favours planets in close orbit to red dwarves. Look how rare transits of Venus are and we are in a similar orbital plane.

This is a useful new method for nearby stars as it can see planets in random planes

Samsung seeks to have almost $1bn shaved off property taxes for planned Texas semiconductor fab

David Pearce


Washington State is a dreadful alternative choice for a semiconductor fab. Powerful earthquakes could put a fab offline for several months

Drone smashes through helicopter's windscreen and injures passenger

David Pearce

That aircraft can travel at 200 km/h or more. At that speed the downwash will not be in front of the cockpit

Elon Musk says he tried to sell Tesla to Apple, which didn’t bite and wouldn't even meet

David Pearce

Tesla is driven by Elon Musk's charisma and little else.

Apple does not have that anymore since Jobs death

Business intelligence vendor MicroStrategy reveals it’s bought a billion bucks of bitcoin

David Pearce


What happens if "Satoshi" pops up with his estimated 900,000 BTC block steps forward?

UK finally signs off on Square Kilometre Array Observatory Convention

David Pearce

Fibre Link

Presumably this must involve a new fibre round the Indian Ocean from Australia to South Africa.

The Indian Ocean is badly served with high speed data links compared to the Pacific and this project will need bandwidth

AWS is fed up with tech that wasn’t built for clouds because it has a big 'blast radius' when things go awry

David Pearce

Raw battery

No, you have 48V battery and rectifier and generate all the server internal supplies from the 48 Vdc.

This dc-dc convertor can be a tiny bit more efficient than most AC input supplies, which are nearly all designed to deal with an input of 110-240V and handle brown outs.

The energy savings of not going back to AC can be significant

Google Cloud (over)Run: How a free trial experiment ended with a $72,000 bill overnight

David Pearce

Blank cheque

How many businesses are comfortable placing open ended purchase orders?

I have had bad experiences with a Telco when my office line got spurred to make expensive international phone calls and we ran up a bill way beyond our deposit

I also no of a VIP whose child started surfing the Internet heavily on one of the early airliner satellite connection services and run up a lottery win sized bill.

Seagate says it's designed two of its own RISC-V CPU cores – and they'll do more than just control storage drives

David Pearce

No, this is the decline of x86

Both ARM and RISC-V are racing away because the world is finally moving on from everything being a x86 PC running Windows. RISC-V is catching up with ARM because of the politics

When it comes to taxing tech giants, America is out, France is in, Canada and Indonesia are going their own way

David Pearce

The location of the buyer is what matters. The idea is to level the playing field a bit between UK based sellers who already have to pay UK taxes and those logically in low earth orbit in the Amazon Cloud

Worn-out NAND flash blamed for Tesla vehicle gremlins, such as rearview cam failures and silenced audio alerts

David Pearce

Who makes ROM these days?

Masked ROM is almost extinct. A second written once NAND is more practical these days. It still self erases, but should be easily good for >10 years

Shock news: NASA lunar ambitions might be a bit too... ambitious

David Pearce

The dust problem

Some of the Apollo astronauts nearly wore through their boots. Lunar dust is almost as bad a diamond dust and cuts though Kevlar like butter.

A manned base on the Moon will be very hard to do. I am not sure how abrasive Mars dust is.

Are you seeing this, Amazon? British military steps up robot tech tests with drone capable of carrying 60kg payloads

David Pearce

Re: > making it safe .. is a hard problem.

I've had to deal with the bloated RC model approach also, on a conventional fixed wing.

Single engined - over populated areas

Single control mechanical system - you need redundancy to cope with failures

Single control link

Crude autopilot - anywhere interesting and you need a preprogrammed escape plan in case you lose control

No transponder

Total dependence on GPS

The list goes on and on

David Pearce

Not for civilians

Making a drone that can carry 60 kg is not new. It will be big and heavy, so making it safe for flying over civilians or anywhere near commercial airspace in peace time is a hard problem.

Rocket Lab to equip 'Return to Sender' with parachutes amid plans to catch an Electron booster with a helicopter

David Pearce


So this helicopter has to snag the booster and parachute, which is falling fairly rapidly, while not striking anything with the rotors.

What could possibly go wrong.

Please, tell us more about how just 60 hydrogen-powered 5G drones could make 400,000 UK base stations redundant

David Pearce

Spot coverage

5000 Netflix viewers in one place is >10 Gbps, a bit beyond one beam

A single beam version of the drone - which should be much cheaper and lighter would deal with the emergency scenarios

David Pearce

Backhaul and interference

As noted, 100Gbps backhaul is not easy in any available microwave, especially when its cloudy

How directional are the antennas? Frequency reuse is a headache and this drone becomes a tempting jamming target

China sets itself 2035 goal for technology self-sufficiency and covets title as the world’s top innovator

David Pearce

Re: China's a ticking demographic time bomb

The World is going to find a way of running the economy that does not depend on population growth, it is already way beyond carrying capacity if everyone wants Western affluence levels.

This is not an easy problem, but has to be solved.

David Pearce

If Only

At least they have a plan, which is far more than the UK has

The nice thing about the 5 year plan is that the politicians will be around to be assessed on it.

Big Telco freaks out as unknown operator with great political connections vies for valuable 5G space in America

David Pearce

3.5 GHz worth how much?

3.5 GHz = small cell sizes, good for urban but useless in low density suburban and rural locations and not so good indoors.

5G is supposed to be more for IoT than phones

Amazon bean-counter, her husband, father-in-law cough up $2.6m after SEC collars them on insider-trading rap

David Pearce

I wonder if she would have been caught if her husband was not involved

Airbus drone broke up in-flight because it couldn’t handle Australian weather

David Pearce

Air density

At 70000 ft air density is about 1/20 ground level, at 7000 ft about 2/3



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