* Posts by stevebp

62 publicly visible posts • joined 26 Oct 2016


As liquid cooling takes off in the datacenter, fortune favors the brave


What message is Equinix sending us here?

Equinix is a massive beast - with a huge amount of sunken cost in traditional cooling techniques in their DCs.

Putting in immersive cooling is disruptive to its business model because it requires de-installation of traditional cooling and installation of pipework (not an obstacle actually despite what it says), but it will be costly and it won't have the skills in-house to support it right now.

https://exuvi8.co.uk/ has designed a proof of concept DC that takes all different types of cooling technologies and demonstrates how they can be implemented side by side in a colo environment. So standardisation may be lacking, but the business model isn't - it's a reluctance to do something different that seems to hold them back.

What is strange is that the potential gains from a far lower spend on cooling (from lower pPUEs to removal of large mechanical systems and the freeing up of space for future whitespace use, does not appear to be attractive enough for Equinix. But maybe its competitors will think differently.

The stronger focus on sustainability reporting encompassed in the EU's CSRD, will compel Equinix to think more carefully about how it is perceived, when it has to publish its consumption and emittance of energy.

It's time to retire 'edge' from our IT vocabulary


Definitely the most mis-used term in the industry right now and the least understood!

I sat watching a panel once where four dignitaries of the Data Centre Industry all described what they thought of as "the edge" and it turns out none of them could agree - one even described it, not unsurprisingly as he owns data centres there, as the edge of the civilised world, such as Russia and Africa! Needless to say, the panel was a bit of a joke - they should have talked together beforehand, instead of talking at cross-purposes.

I now divide the various layers up into Compute Edge (anything from IoT, automated factories/cars/planes, etc. to the mobile phone in your hand), Near Edge (an aggregator and filtering of Compute Edge data) and cloud/colocation (where the remaining edge data is passed back to the centre to be processed further and stored)

Electrical explosion at Google datacenter injures three


I'm amazed at the descriptions of the injuries sustained - a serious procedural error must have taken place for such critical injuries to have been sustained. Anyone operating or maintaining LV equipment, where there is the remote possibility of an arc flash should be kitted out in full PPE - although the blast impact would still have been considerable, the PPE would prevent major burns

Google tests battery backups, aims to ditch emergency datacenter diesel


OK - quite a bit of speculation on here. Let me ask a few pertinent questions as I work in this field and have assessed many Data Centres across the World.

1. For this method to work, we need to understand Google's business model. It can lose any single DC, (one in Belgium has no air conditioning at all - it may be this one in the article), and it's search facility is affected only minimally as every query goes out to multiple DCs anyway, with the fastest response appearing on your screen. If the batteries lose juice in an extended outage, then they probably don't care, which brings me to the next point:

2. Why do this, when it has UPS that can cleanly shut down its equipment in any outage greater than, usually, 7 minutes? No sane enterprise DC will risk this architectural model

3. Batteries are incredibly expensive and constitute one of the largest replacement items in an operational DC. Usually VRLA (lead acid) batteries will last around 8-10 years MAXIMUM, are around 90% renewable, but cost £'000,000s to replace when they all need swapping out - oh, and that's as long as you keep them within optimum operating parameters of 20-22 degrees C all the time. They also take up a lot of commercial space in a DC, will require good monitoring (ideally cell level) and can give off toxic fumes

4. If Google are considering Li-Ion, then the economics worsen and the sustainability equation moves out to the right (much less sustainable) and don't mention 'thermal runaway' risk

5. Generators have a lifetime of around 25 years minimum - some may even last, with excellent maintenance, up to 30-35 years and come up to a stable input voltage very quickly, which is why they are still preferred over fuel cells

6. The energy is not as 'clean' as Google would have you believe - when it purchases all the wind power for its DCs, this means everyone else is using non-renewables and that means getting their energy from the grid - whatever the carbon make up is of that. Therefore charging up its batteries is not 'free' nor 'clean'. If Google wants to make a difference to carbon-intensive energy use, it should invest its billions in 'greening' the grid for everyone (as an aside, you should look up the 'sustainability' of wind turbines - you may be shocked to learn they end up in landfill after only a short lifetime of use)

My honest opinion, having read the minimal information in the article, is that this is a 'concept' test that may suit Google but hardly anyone else - very similar to the Microsoft underwater DC it developed, which was also headline-grabbing but a really bad idea for many practicable, logistical and climate change reasons

OVHcloud datacenter 'lacked' automatic fire extinguishers, electrical cutoff


We do exactly those kinds of assessments for companies and I've had the 'pleasure' of visiting plenty of DCs just like OVH - one provider, with DCs mostly in Germany and some other northern European countries, doesn't even have *any* detection or suppression system. I asked the owner why not and his direct quote was: "What's in a DC to burn? It's all concrete and steel and if the fire alarm goes off, the fire brigade can be here within ten minutes. I know this because we set it off several times accidentally during construction."

I duly noted his answer and put it in my report to my client (who was *very price sensitive and the DC provider was cheap as chips) and it went from a 'sure thing' to a 'no thank you'.

Reg reader returns Samsung TV after finding giant ads splattered everywhere


Re: Can you opt out of the data collection on smart TVs?

On my Youview box, which is connected to my LG Smart TV, if I disconnect the internet connection, it goes really slow, puts up an on-screen error and refuses to load up much of the content, including the EPG (it does eventually, but it's annoying to use). Other than that, it's far superior to my 2020 Smart TV to use

That thing you were utterly sure would never happen? Yeah, well, guess what …


Back in the days

When I started my course in Computer Studies back in the mid-'80s, the administrators of the PDP-11 system that was running, didn't really understand much UNIX, if at all. However, I was learning fast, as I'd made friends with a 3rd year UNIX geek, who taught me, among other things, how to crack passwords, create trojan logins and clear a room full of people if the computer was too slow to use, so that I could get my coursework finished. Of course I never used this knowledge...

So one day I was browsing through all the UNIX source code libraries that they helpfully left online and unprotected, to try and understand the scripts and pick up some more tips. I came across the source code for "wall" - or for the uninitiated "write all". I copied it, set it to execute and ran it with a message (I forget what that was, but I'm sure it wasn't rude). It then proceeded to write my test message to every terminal in the uni. An hour later, one of the admins sat down next to my 3rd yr pal and complained to him that "Someone managed to write a system message to everyone and we don't know how they did it!". Of course, I kept quiet, but it was rather amusing to witness the consequences of my deed

Bitcoin surges, exchanges flooded after Tesla says it bought $1.5bn in BTC, hopes to accept it as payment soon


The value of your shares may go up...or down...

Paying for a Tesla in bitcoin is a risky kind of strategy for Tesla - if they accept it as payment one day and by the time they come to trade their bitcoins on the market, the price crashes through the floor, someone has just made a mug out of them!

You're basically gambling when you buy bitcoins that the value will go up - but why should it? Eventually, people will want to liquidate their BCs and at that point it could easily start a run where no-one is buying and the BCs are effectively worthless. Have these people not seen It's a Wonderful Life? Unlike banks that now have deposit security schemes, there is no such protection for cryptocurrency and why should there be.


Re: I thought he was into the green thing?

Can you please provide your source for this? I want it for positive reasons, because I know it's hugely energy iensive but would like to know who has studied it and what they say. Ta!

Going, going, gone... until March: UK comms regulator delays 5G spectrum auction over pandemic logistics


5G. Is. Not. Relevant. Nor. Important. To. The. UK. Economy.

So please stop banging on about it

London calling: 5G coverage in British capital grew during second half of last year with fastest speeds on Vodafone


Re: You can say it

You can bet your life that if your property is so remote that Openreach has yet to reach it with FTTC, then your opportunity to capitalise on a 5G rollout is slim to none - 5G will only ever be available in specific high-volume areas for the foreseeable future and maybe forever. Don't worry - one day you might get 4G

UK on track to miss even its slashed full-fibre gigabit coverage goals, warn MPs


5G is irrelevant

It's a technoogy without a business case unless you're looking for mobile bandwidth in heavily congested areas like train stations, stadiums, etc. Let's just get government to concentrate on ubiquitous 4G and we'll all be happy as lambs

UK taxman waves through £168.8m Fujitsu contract because no one else can hold up 30-year-old infrastructure


Re: "Japan-based IT services firm"

Not "still entirely" but "also now" - I worked in VME Support in East Putney in 1987-88 - primarily in my sandwich year of my HND as a support technician but they taught me VME base and comms, so I did some second-line comms diagnostics too. I worked with John Mearns, who designed TME (on ME29s) and then TME* (which ran on VME) and I supported an ME29 and a Series 39 Dual (the wrong half however - but that was no obstacle for the brains in the office who got it fully working!). I then worked in Stevenage (STE04) 1989-91 in Office Systems Support (leaving shortly after ICL got completely swallowed by Fujitsu) next to some of the best IT brains in the industry. It's true though that much of the 3rd line was based elsewhere (Alsager/Manchester)

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


Re: spreadsheets!

I was taught by an accountant (my ex-wife), that if you add up anything in Excel, make sure you put in another addition, using a different method to check that the first is correct - only if the two complement each other can you have surety over the answer and even then you would do a "reasonable check" in your brain to make sure it had the right number of digits.

This all came home to roost (not with Excel) when a colleague of mine at a large bank got fired because he failed to notice that when he got a message from the backup software saying "Backup complete", the amount of data it had actually backed up was miniscule and when the corporate email server took a dive and a corruption, there were no valid backups to recover from. All due to lack of admin permissions on the target server.

Think tank warns any further delay to 5G rollout will cost the UK multiple billions – but hey, at least Huawei is out


My brain can't take it!?!?

If I read one more report/news article/dire warning about how we're "falling behind" in technology, I swear I might just explode.

All these efforts to worry us about 5G are just so that the operators, who paid £billions for the rights to the bandwidth and £billions to build the infrastructure, can make a profit (eventually).

The Gov't needs to concern itself with ubiquitous 4G first and worry about 5G if, and it's a big if, the world determines it actually needs it.

Safety driver at the wheel of self-driving Uber car that killed a pedestrian is charged with negligent homicide


Re: However

How do we know this was a long way into her drive? She may have only just taken it out of the garage. If her mind started to wander, surely Uber should have been monitoring that and therefore should accept some culpability for its poor testing conditions that seemed to disregard safety!

You're all wet: Drippy chips to help slash data centre power consumption and carbon costs


Tackling the problem from the wrong direction?

This is all very interesting, however, a good professor friend of mine told me that the reason chips emit so much heat is that when the electrons flow along the logic pathways, as soon as they hit a full stop (i.e. a decision pathway which involves a change of flow (essentially any logic gate), the current flowing down the unused branch is dissipated as heat.

The answer then - and apparently this is being worked on - is to redirect that current through the chip reducing the power requirement for processing and emitting less heat as a consequence!

I would be interested to know if any of the good people on here have come across this research and know where we are with it?

Digital pregnancy testing sticks turn out to have very analogue internals when it comes to getting results


Re: This device is far less unreasonable than it seems.

Apparently, the flood of oestrogen when pregnant with a girl creates the "blooming" mother effect, conversely, the flood of testosterone with a boy causes spots and a more 'masculine-looking' face. If you're around pregnant women (you know well) a lot, you can spot this quite easily - it can be upended though by twins (non-identical) and situations where a girl gets a larger dose of testosterone than normal (apparently that's a "thing").

UK utility Severn Trent tests the waters with £4.8m for SCADA monitoring and management in the clouds


They've been sold a dummy

Whoever is giving them advice should be taken out and shot. No-one in their right mind would put an infrastructure control and monitoring tool outside of their own, discrete management network due to the (almost certain) risk that a hacker will gain access to it or disable it with DDOS attacks. I see a worrying trend with Data Centre DCIMs and BMS too.

As Amazon pulls union-buster job ads, workers describe a 'Mad Max' atmosphere – unsafe, bullying, abusive


Re: corporate employee or fulfillment center associate

That's an interesting point - the other thing that is notable about the UK workplace is the *very* rigid emphasis on Health and Safety. Any company deemed to have been found "cutting corners" would likely find its senior management, even its top executives, in court explaining how they are going to avoid receiving a jail sentence. If there is a serious-enough incident at a warehouse, the HSE (Health & Safety Executive) can even enter a premises and *close it down* for up to two years while they undertake an investigation. It's just not worth ignoring it.

Brit unis hit in Blackbaud hack inform students that their data was nicked, which has gone as well as you might expect


Re: Don't do business with them

You've obviously never worked in a University...

Four years after swallowing Arm Holdings, SoftBank said to be mulling Brit chip biz sale


Re: Just a thought

It's not inconceivable - remember what happened to java!


Re: Just a thought

I was just thinking exactly the same thing, with the same set of questions - upvote to save me the bother of typing...hold on...


Re: Here’s a thought - UK.gov to purchase

Is that the East Putney Building or the Management Centre (Lon03-05 I think they were - it's a long time ago!). My first real job was with ICL at East Putney in 1987-88 on a work placement for my HND. After I 'diplomated' I worked for them at STE08 until Fujitsu took them over completely in 1991

Smile? Not bloody likely: Day 6 of wobbly services and still no hint to UK online bank's customers about what's actually wrong


Re: No technical information

Actually, it would be the PRA (Prudential Regulation Authority - cf https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prudential_Regulation_Authority_(United_Kingdom)) - the job of regulating the banks was hived off the FSA some years back because they were useless at it (think 2008!) and the Govt created the PRA and FCA.

There is a recently published requirement from the PRA to be able to sustain a major outage and run off backup systems for an extended period of time - I think Smile may be getting a visit from the PRA after this - I hope the investigation is made public (it won't be)

TomTom bill bomb: Why am I being charged for infotainment? I sold my car last year, rages Reg reader


I use Waze, which is free and constantly updated - why is anyone buying a sat nav these days anyway?


There's a principle here, that techy geeks on El Reg would do well to remember: when designing a UI that may be used by a wide range of people, from old grannies to hip young dudes who have lived their lives online, be *very* explicit about how everything works and the effect of carrying out any instruction in your manual. I recently had to contact a cooker hood manufacturer because their manual was so poor, I couldn't work out how to change the filter "Oh yes, we have an instruction video for that, but I can't send it to you because I'm working from home", I was told by the friendly lady on the call.


Re: As I read that

Werdsmith is a troll - I wouldn't waste your keystrokes

Boolean bafflement at British Airways' Executive Club: Sneaky little Avioses - Wicked, Tricksy, False!


Re: Are all avios

Then you should read Edward Gibbons' "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" and you will understand that the "Trinity" was a way of the Catholic faith competing with multi-theism (i.e. Paganism), including the use of Saints, statues of Mary, relics, etc. No wonder Protestantism dispensed with all that other crap later on - presumably they kept the Holy Trinity because there was actually some base for that in the bible

Another anti-immigrant rant goes viral in America – and this time it's by a British, er, immigrant tech CEO


You complete the article with the news that JKRowling et al have signed a letter against the hate culture on the internet that inhibits free speech. I don't see the connection to this story at all? This man's behaviour was totally unacceptable, as was the other stories you mention afterwards. There is a world of difference between political, religious and economics discourse, and hate speech, violent abuse, threats and trolling - whether you agree with J K Rowling or not, she is allowed an opinion and is allowed to voice it without people being personally hurtful, spiteful and abusive to her in return. It is impossible to avoid someone being 'offended' by what you say, since the offence comes from them, not from you. I believe Voltaire had something to say about it...

The good news: Vodafone switches on first full-fat, real-life 5G network in the UK. The bad news: it only got sent to Coventry


Don't get me started...

I work in the Data Centre industry and I lost count of the number of times I went to a conference panel where some marketing fool/CEO/COO stood up and pronounced "5G will usher in the dawn of self-driving cars because the need for micro-second response times is critical to avoid catastrophe".

At one point, my colleagues had to physically restrain me from yelling out that they had absolutely no idea what they're talking about.

This really irritates me because, even from a layman perspective, this end user case makes absolutely no sense: Given that most people struggle to get a consistent and ubiquitous 4G connection even after all this time, why on earth would anyone build the decision-making logic for driving safely on the road into the assumption that the car can maintain a 5G connection everywhere it goes? A connection, by the way, that will rely on the receiver being fairly close by - so an automated car driving into the mountains will suddenly lose connection and drive you straight off the edge of the road...will it?

The 5G uploads, *may* be required to send all the telemetry data back to the factory, but even then, if that is it's operating paradigm, it's poorly designed - why not use the home WiFi as you plug your car back in to recharge and why would you send *all* the data back anyway, when you only need the processed (i.e. small sub-set) data unless you're investigating a fault. In which case, you can request the entire historical data set.

So much to get annoyed about...

Windows invokes Sgrîn Las Marwolaeth upon Newport


Newport is not all that

I visit Newport at least four times a year and I can't say it's the most inspiring of architectures. Particularly in windy conditions, the draughts running through the concourse turn even the most summery of days into wind chill factor -10

Official: Apple debugs MacBook Air of sucky Butterfly keyboard


Re: Apple haven't made a decent device since 2012

"It gets a log of use day in, day out and hasn't missed a beat" - I'm loving the irony of this typo, but maybe that's because I'm missing human contact...

Computer, deactivate self-destruct system requirement, says Sonos... were it on a starship in space, and not a smart-speaker slinger


Re: "Send in their serial number"

This does open up the possibility that a broken Sonos device can be "upgraded" without the expense of paying full price for a new one! I have such a broken device...

Remember that Sonos speaker you bought a few years back that works perfectly? It's about to be screwed for... reasons


Re: Hmmm

I believe it did say that "You can continue using legacy products after May, but your system will no longer receive software updates and new features. Over time, this is likely to disrupt access to services and overall functionality." They're pretty much damning any new products unless you swap out the entire system. Sounds like corporate blackmail to me

Hold my Bose, we can do premium: Sennheiser chucks pricey wireless cans at travellers


MicroUSB is dreadful. My Kindles use them and the cables regularly fail because the connection is actually quite unsupported. I also hate fiddling around trying to get them plugged in the right way round. Any device using a different power connector gets my upvote!

UK's Virgin Media celebrates the end of 2019 with a good, old fashioned TITSUP*


Did anyone notice?

I had Virgin for a year and while the TV service, when it was working, was actually quite good, I was plagued by problems:

1. The TV service on a certain set of channels was digitally corrupted (pixellated) and two fruitless interventions (many days) later by an engineer who came to the house, I eventually got through to him that he'd temporarily fixed it (he didn't believe me at first). So he then went back to the street junction box and got it working. Apparently he fixed it by swapping my port over (which was defective) with one of my neighbour's. I assume my neighbour wasn't too pleased with that temporary workaround

2. Their DNS service regularly (almost on a daily basis) went down, stopping all connectivity not related to the TV service anywhere from 30 minutes to 4 hours

I've switched to NowTV and don't get any of these issues now and the service is £15 cheaper/month

Judge shoots down Trump admin's efforts to allow folks to post shoddy 3D printer gun blueprints online



his reminds me how we used to get around Sunday Licensing Laws in the 1980's - basically, between (I think) 2-6pm pubs were not allowed to sell alcohol but were allowed to sell food and give away a pint with it.

Teachers: Make your pupils' parents buy them an iPad to use at school. Oh and did you pack sunglasses for the Apple-funded jolly?


Re: To summarise... (from the comments above)

My college lecturers used to insist I buy the books they had authored! No-one blinked back in those days....


University Libraries

Interestingly, the university I worked at, went hell to leather to replace all it's paper books and journals with digital resources *despite* the evidence, in front of them, that students prefer paper because they can spread multiple paper resources out in front of them and flick easily between pages and sections without worrying about charging cables and screens. Electronic devices are also disruptive because they tend to have email loaded on them - which distracts constantly, and the software encounters issues or needs upgrading (Windows is really bad at this), both issues which eat up the available study time. I marvelled at their arrogance despite the facts and the student satisfaction scores went tumbling downwards, of course...

'Is this Microsoft trying to be cool? Want to go to the Apple Store?' We checked out London's new retail extravaganza


Steve Ballmer is alive and well

I saw the opening on BBC London News last night and the whooping, arm waving and general pant-wetting excitement displayed by the staff reminded me of the cringe-worthy Windows 95 launch with Steve Ballmer and equally cringy Bill Gates trying to dance like Theresa May (or is it the other way round?). There was your definition of MS coolness right there - it doesn't exist...

Anyone for unintended ChatRoulette? Zoom installs hidden Mac web server to allow auto-join video conferencing


It wouldn't matter if it did as RC is so buggy it rarely works on my MacOS, doesn't integrate with O365/4/3 (whatever value we're up to at this stage of the year) and Mojave. RC is my org's corporate UC tool. The sound quality on Skype is crap but I prefer it's integration qualities

Germany and South Korea go nuts for 5G while Blighty subsists on test bed crumbs


Re: So lets just get this straight

I think what happened was, the guy from DT brought his 6 yr old into the auction room and he wasn't paying enough attention because angry birds on his phone was distracting him. So his son decided to wave the bidding board around for him. Before he knew it, he was the proud owner of an old set of recycled bandwidths at an exorbitant price....I wouldn't have liked to be him explaining that to his boss...

Oblivious 'influencers' work on 3.6-roentgen tans in Chernobyl after realising TV show based on real nuclear TITSUP


Re: On the bright side

So wouldn't that also be true in Universities?

Lip-reading smart speakers: Just what no one always wanted


What date is it?

Wow - did no-one consider this might be an April's Fool?

Let's spin Facebook's Wheel of Misfortune! Clack-clack-clack... clack... You've won '100s of millions of passwords stored in plaintext'


Re: GDPR complaint in 3, 2, 1…

Do you think there's a connection here...?

Google: All your leaked passwords are belong to us – here's a Chrome extension to find them


What app for the iPhone would anyone recommend?

I use one I got for free but now requires you to pay and so my wife can't use the same one - any suggestions?

Biz game in the mainframe: T-Systems buddies up with IBM


IBM in search of a strategy?

Why would IBM buy a "failing mainframe" division off another company when they have pretty much divested themselves of all manufacturing? Is it just me confused or have the board completely lost the plot? I do know, from some of the people I know who have recently joined IBM, that their hiring standards are definitely lower than they were!

Awkward... Revealed Facebook emails show plans for data slurping, selling access to addicts' info, crafty PR spinning


Re: Alternative business model please

Porn was behind the growth of video streaming and the internet too - now it's Netflix