* Posts by Steve

366 publicly visible posts • joined 9 Aug 2007


NASA explores 'Curiosity' for nuclear-powered Mars rover

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We come in peace


Ofcom sets out Olympic spectrum plan


Pay who?

So the Government is going to use taxpayers cash to pay for the spectrum, which is being sold by... the Government? Let's assume a 15% markup, plus 15% VAT. Nice little earner for the treasury that will be. Take something I own, sell it to myself at a 32+% premium, and pay with someone elses cash. They'll hardly even need to fiddle their expenses on that one.

Amazon cloud welcomes airplanes of data


how many terabytes can you get in the hold of a 747?

Sounds like a worthwhile addition to the Register units table.

I tried asking WolframAlpha, but it got confused. It seems that a "hold" is a Hungarian acre...

Wolfram Alpha - a new kind of Fail


You can still have fun with it


life, the universe, and everything

and it indeed comes up with the answer "42"

Stock symbols come back with all sorts of impressive-looking numbers and graphs, which I'm sure are very meaningful to people who, well, know what they mean.

Symantec hit by massive goodwill impairment



I'm always surprised by the vitriol that sometimes greets Norton AV. I've used it for years, as a corporately-mandated standard, and the only time I ever 'caught' a virus was when I foolishly turned off the firewall for 2 minutes when I was connected to a supposedly 'safe' network.

Granted I don't surf porn sites, but why the anti-Norton reaction? It's always proved easy to remove/upgrade.

Browncasting: Why can't Downing Street do digital?

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new media?

This government has problems with new AND old media, possibly due to not having anything constructive to say in either.

Then again, Her Majesty's opposition aren't doing much better.

Maybe if they dropped all the posturing and actually did some real work people might be prepared to give them the time of day. There'll be a lot of airborne flu-carriers around before that happens, though.

IBM Warwick data centre has a lie down

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@Peter Allen

Correct, and since no-one installs equipment just for a year, I always prefer to think of "5-nines" as about 1 hour max of downtime (unintentional AND planned) over 10 years. Looked at like that, people start to understand the challenge.


Generator tests

Running generators as a test has its own problems, as BT found out many years ago. Policy was to start the diesel generator every Monday to make sure it worked. It did.

Then when the power failed one day, the generator started fine, ran for about 30 minutes, and died.

It turned out that the constant cold starts & shutdowns had had the same effect as short runs in a car, the generator was well coked-up inside. Once it got up to running temperature all that glowing carbon caused havoc.

After a full cylinder-head-off rebuild the test policy was changed to a test run once a month, up to full temperature for a few hours.

Apple power brick sparks lawsuit

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Let me guess

Becasue of the advertised "safe" aspects, e.g. the power lead will disconnect if yanked without taking the laptop with it, these users have developed the habit of just yanking the cable when they want to unplug it? I've seen many folks in the US "unplug" their flimsy 110v mains plugs from wall sockets in the same way

Unsurprisngly that will put unexpected strain on the lead, which starts to fracture, then frays and breaks.

Predictable, if Apple had thought through the consequences of advertising this 'feature" instead of just quietly leaving it as a convenience in the case of accidents.

UK's national grid 'ready' for e-car expansion



Still doesn't adress how the treasury would make good the loss on fuel tax. If it did so by increasing the cost of (peak?) electricty that would probably make the numbers vary even more widely.

Peugeot preps 4WD diesel hybrid


flatt battery when off-road

Off-road you're likely to be pottering fairly slowly ( i.e. not 100+ MPH) so I would guess that the diesel will have enough spare power to keep the rear motor driven, at least to some extent. It's an interesting design, and while I've always found Peugeots to have horribly uncomfortable seats, they do have some good diesel engineers.

Windows 7 — It’s like Vista, only less annoying

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Virtual XP

People don't stick with XP because they want XP, they stick with it because they *don't* want Vista. Mostly that's because it is slow, and is incompatible at driver level with many apps.

A non-hypervisor virtual XP isn't going to fix either of those problems.

My guess is that µSoft know this, and expect no-one to use Virtual XP, so that they can then claim "look, XP is really dead, no one uses it now" and can finally drop it.

DARPA looking for mind-controlrepair brainplug tech


And remember, always mount a scratch monkey...


Brazilian ejected as lingerie arouses border staff suspicions


low tech?

So despite fingerprints, face recognition, and all the other high-tech paraphenalia that our tax money is being spent on, she still only got nicked, twice, because customs had a rummage through her knickers?

French pass 'three strikes' file-sharing law


No so fast, mes amis

The lower house of parliament has just voted not to pass this law. It now has to go round the loop again, but without the recent "hardening" amendments...

Ad watchdog gives thumbs up for female TV orgasms


Magic Flute

"long squeaky bit in the middle", the climax of which is sometimes known as the "Queen of the Night 'F' "

Always wondered what the 'F' stood for, now we know...

Boffins list sci-fi words which wormed their way into dictionary


@Dr patrick

You're right, El Reg missed Ion Drive, at least according to http://blog.oup.com/2009/03/science-fiction/






> Flame, I'm sure somebody will name Si-Fi story about the collapse of the banking system

Maybe not /about/ it, but didn't Asimov's Foundation series use germanium as the financial standard because in the new semiconductor-using world it was more valuable than mere gold?

Something used longevity drugs for the financial system as well, but I've forgotten.

Wi-Fi Beeb viewing may break law


@Craig Vaughton

> Why should we be the only country in the world to pay a tax to watch TV

You're kidding, right? The US is about the only country without a TV licence, most if not all EU countries pay a licence (higher than the UK) *and* pay for advertising as well.

If the BBC isn't funded by a specific licence fee, there are two choices:

1) It can go commercial. Since the amount of advertising money available won't double overnight the obvious result will be a drop in available money for all channels, and a drop in programme quality. Bear in mind that in the days before Sky etc. the average household paid *twice as much* in their shopping bills to fund the ITV channels as it did in licence fee to support the BBC.

2) Second option is to fund the BBC from general taxation rather than a separate licence. The big problem there is that it becomes a line item in the budget. Parliament can't vote on budget items separately, only yes/no on the whole budget. It is unlikely that a whole budget will be rejected just because parliament thinks that the BBC funding is wrong, and the budget is set by *Government*, not *Parliament*, so the effect of funding the BBC from general taxation is that BBC funding is then set by the government of the day. The dangers in that are obvious, I hope.

Funding of a state broadcaster should be determined by Parliament not Government. Of course, there is a question of whether there should be a state broadcaster. Personally I think that there should be, and that it should produce higher-quality output than much of the cr@p the BBC currently produces.

BT does Italian Job on London traffic lights


Only fibre

It would have been much more spectacular if they'd hit one of the tunnels carrying the newly-buried HT cables:


Still, there's time yet, I'll bet the new tunnels aren't on many maps :)

BBC goes live... over Wi-Fi



I get all the way to choosing a channel (on an N95 8GB) but then get "Programmes cannot be watched outside the UK". Well, OK, I *am* outside the UK, but... Must get that proxy working

Twitter not yet in 'late stage' talks with Google



"Twoogle", surely?

Which desktop Linux distribution?



My home desktop triple boots Solaris/DebianEtch/XP, probable use of each in percent would be 50/35/15 % of the time. Office box is Solaris only. Laptop is XP. Home servers are SlugOS 4 (and Ultrix, if a PDP-11 counts :) )

Horses for courses, they all have their good, their bad, and their fscking annoying points.

Google to fund 'video Street View' for Central London



Good to see that El Reg has it's collective Arsene Ghia this April 1st

NYC granny shoots mugger with .357 Magnum


Mobility scooter?

I just have this cartoonesque image of Granny flying backwards out the door in her chair under the recoil from the .357...

Whatever happened to just keeping a shotgun and a gamekeepers load?

UFO fleet menaces east London


Nice formation

Just go north a block to the junction of Ellsworth and Clarkson streets and look north above the scaffolding http://bethnal.notlong.com/ You'll get a much better view of all 16 aircraft in formation...

Fujitsu staff clash with bosses over pay freeze



I think you're confusing them with 3M, they're the ones who barricade their boss behind a wardrobe...

Germans announce: Revenge is inefficient


has on average less friends

That would be "fewer" friends

P. Dant

LibDems want gov action on killer lorries of death


LibDem cretins

Why do politicians always want yet more laws, when the ones we have are perfectly adequate, and just need to be used?

This has nothing to do with satnavs, and everything to do with incompetent drivers. If a lorry driver hits a low bridge then he* is clearly not paying attention to his driving, why he was directed onto that route is irrelevant. It's his job to watch the road. Can you image what would happen if they said "It wasn't my fault that I crushed all those kids on the school crossing, my satnav made me drive down that road, it didn't say there were children"?

Charge them with careless or dangerous driving, ban and/or jail them them, and confiscate the lorry. A few cases like that and their pals/employers will pay more attention.

Of course, that would require replacing those speed cameras with real policemen in patrol cars, so would /cost/ money instead of /making/ money. That's the real problem, not laws and/or satnavs.

*or she, of course,

Battlestar Galactica eyes 'technology run amok'


Pigs in space

Maybe the BSG producers thought they were being deep and meaningful, but by the end of series one it was clearly a becoming an Eastenders-style soap on a Star Trek set. Jim Henson did it better.

Sounds like it didn't improve through the other series.

Blighty orders first 3 supersonic stealth jumpjets


II am not an aeronautical engineer, but...

If the problem is lack of thrust at the critical moment of vertical landing due to hot intake air, couldn't such aircraft carry a small quantity (10-20 secs worth) of compressed or liquid air on board, for injection at the right moment? The expansion would chill it, and give a short-term boost for the last few vertical seconds (maybe that isn't the best way to phrase it, you know what I mean).

Jaguar-Land Rover to develop F1-style energy recovery tech



I can see an interesting side effect for F1, since for a given track the cars are almost always turning in the same direction (left or right). The gyroscopic precession effects of the flywheel could be used to make up for the reduced wing size now permitted.

Not sure it would be so good on a road car, though...

IBM 'in talks' to buy Sun Microsystems


@Bruno Girin

> The first hurdle would be to make Solaris run on PowerPC but it can surely be done.

Solaris 2.5.1 ran on PowerPC, I still have a CD somewhere, so yes it can be done.

Microsoft's Azure cloud suffers first crash


The joys of centralized services

There's a reason why people stopped using timesharing bureaux and put individual computers in offices and on desks, y'know. As usual it takes 20 years or so for people to reinvent the wheel, and find out that they still get punctures.

Government wastes £4.6m on mobile telly nonsense



Actually condoms are quite labour-intensive to make. LRC have these large frames each with 20-30 moulded erect penises on them, which they dip vertically into liquid latex. After being lifted out and allowed to dry they are sprayed with lubricant. Then the expesnsive bit, there's a gang of people (mostly women, from the video I saw) who spend their entire day on the production line rolling the new condoms off the moulds and feeding them into the machine that puts the foil packets on. Hope they keep their nails well trimmed.

I can only imagine that it must be a bit like working in a chocolate factory. Amusing for the first week, but after a while "oh God no, not another one, please". Must make weekends boring...

MPs vote to keep addresses private (theirs, not yours)

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Who do they think they are?

These are OUR public representatives to OUR parliament. Far from being hidden, their names and addresses should be posted on the noticeboard of every town hall in the country. Certainly that may place them at risk from unhappy voters, that goes with the job. If they don't have the courage to stand up to an unhappy constituent how can we trust them to stand up for us anywhere?

Dangerous? Probably, but that goes with the responsibilities of the job. If they can't stand the heat, get them the hell out of the kitchen. They may like to reflect on the courage of some of their erstwhile colleagues in the matter, Lord (Gerry) Fitt of the SDLP comes to mind.

BT wins pricing control over faster broadband


storm in a teacup

What is the point in FTTH when the backbone network is already saturated at times? It will make no significant difference to the video enthusiasts that they can download a file in 1 minute instead of 10 minutes, there's only a finite number of hours in the day to watch it anyway!

The real need is to upgrade the rural areas, exactly what is NOT being planned. That's where ordinary telecommuting folks already suffer with 1Mbit/s or less. Bring back the Universal Service obligation, OfCom should make them get *everyone* to 10Mbit/s before they upgrade anyone to 100.

Danish sex museum loses wood

Paris Hilton

New record?

Wow. 15 years, 9 billion dongs. Not even Paris would manage that.

PS Re: 'rennovation', see http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/02/12/spelling/

Brits find accommodation a little uncomfortable


One solution

Fail the kids who get their spelling wrong in their exams. Nothing concentrates the mind like a resit.

It doesn't fit with the "branding them as failures will scar the little darlings for life" arseholes that run the education system these days, but hopefully we'll be able to vote them out soon.

@BossHogg: As for manœuvre, you just have to remember that there´s an œ ligature in the middle, and the rest just works.

Last US sat radio gang mulls bankruptcy


It's crap anyway

My last US trip I has a Sirius radio in my rental car. It was rubbish, drop-outs every time I drove under a tree or a freeway bridge, hundreds of channels each playing about 10 songs total in a continuous loop, pathetic user interface.

I went back to FM after an afternoon of Sirius.

Bletchley Park fires up Big Green-Eyed Monster


sad reminder

"replaying historical recordings of flights in and out of London's Heathrow Airport"

"What's a Concorde, Daddy?" :(

Brits and Yanks struck with embarasment embarrassment

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Not these idiots again

Let them start closer to home, their spokesman should be Jak Bovil

Logic3 Valve80 thermionic iPod dock and speaker set

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Silly idea

Valves (tubes for the US readers) don't give "better" reproduction. Valve amps tend to have much higher levels of THD than solid-state ones (any real figures for the reviewed toy?) which can hide imperfections in the original source and make the music *sound* "better" to our imperfect ears. Considering all the other tricks that get played on music during the MP3 encoding process it is highly unlikely that this box will improve anything but the bank balance of the sellers.

Still, I suppose that warn red glow looks nice on a snowy day...

BBC pumps 60 quid a head into Gaelic


Just politics

In the brave new world of digital TV, why do they need a whole gaelic channel instead of just a selectable gaelic audio track for BBC1 Scotland?

Wrong kind of winter brings England to a halt


Just see it as an opportunity!

You know all those big London shows, and those fancy restaurants? The ones with 6 month waiting lists for a ticket or a table?

Bet you'd get in tonight, no problem.

Hybrid fusion-fission reactors to run on nuclear 'sludge'



When hydrogen is used in a car, either burned in an engine or used in a fuel cell, it's a purely chemical reaction. The energy you get out is the same as the energy you put in to split the water into hydrogen and oxygen in the first place. In that sense hydroigen is merely an energy carrier, you need a lot of it, and you need some other energy source to obtain it. Its only real advantage is that it burns more cleanly than oil, so we have less air pollution (no CO2).

When it comes to using hydrogen in a fusion reactor things are completely different; It's a nuclear reaction, not a chemical one. You get way more energy out of fusing two H atoms than you do from simply burning them in air to create H2O, far more energy than you needed to get the hydrogen from the water in the first place. In that sense hydrogen used in fusion is an energy source, not a carrier.

I'm a sceptic now, says ex-NASA climate boss



Change of weather over a few decades isn't a measure of climate change. Here in France we've had doom and gloom about the end of the skiing season, and yet the last two winters have brought the best low snow for 10 years. My local (low-level) station has skiing like it used to have in 1995.

Climate change? Sunspot cycle? Sun variability? Bored Deity? There isn't enough evidence to be sure which, if any, are true.

Which, of course, doesn't mean that we shouldn't do our best to conserve limited resources. It does mean that we should stop this chicken-little-like panic, and the headline grabbing nonsense like banning 100W ligtbulbs.

US mulls clicks for cameraphones


Wait for the lawsuit

when some tourist in the rockies sees a bear and thinks "hey, Ma, lookie there". <LOUDCLICK> <Grrroooaaar....munch>

Surprised they haven't just legislated some sort of Miranda rights; anyone taking a photo must inform the subject that they have the right to see the photo, and if they choose not to do so then the photo may be used against them on a pr0n website.

Doner kebabs: Death wrapped in pitta bread


Not called salmonella-on-a-stick for nothing...

Well, according to http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/4295701/The-man-who-invented-the-doner-kebab-has-died.html

the inventor made it to 84 years old, so it can't be all /that/ bad for you...