* Posts by andygrace

15 publicly visible posts • joined 19 Jun 2017

Techies try to bypass damaged UPS, send 380V into air traffic system


Re: Critical

Sure and plugging a device which is looking for approx 110V AC into 230/240V AC won't usually have too much of an impact.

The inverse is definitely not case although if the product is designed correctly, the only damage should be the fuse and maybe the Class Y capacitor across the mains and possibly some other passives or a bridge rectifier/switching transistor if things are really grim.

Passing three phase ie 380V into a 220V single phase input will cause "bad stuff" every single time.

Firefox points the way to eradicating one of the rudest words online: PDF


Re: I don't mind PDFs

Decent modern screens can be rotated 90, 180, 270 degrees and virtually every video adapter can output video in portrait mode.

Even if your monitor can't be rotated you can always mount vertically with VESA compatible stand. Can't do much about the maker's logo though.

Apple’s M2 chip isn’t a slam dunk, but it does point to the future


Re: Not really a fanboy either

I know exactly what you mean.

It sounds weird, but using notebook on your lap without it even getting slightly warm is almost a revelation.

I don't think I have ever used any mobile machine that is this cool - in the thermal sense, and completely silent.


Re: Not a fanboy

Yep - totally agree. It's really an experiential improvement.

As soon as the Homebrew legends team had brew up and working well (to which I added a teeny, tiny bit) using the original Apple Dev Transition Kit, it really has been a pleasure to code on an M1 MBA.

Still use all Linux server side, but even Windows runs amazingly well via Parallels on that crazy long-life first generation M1 machine.

That's coming from a guy whose primary dev platform was originally CP/M then DOS on x86 until the iPhone arrived. Tried some new x86_64 notebooks every couple of years since then but they haven't been a daily driver ever since.

I reckon these ports of macOS to ARM64 has clinched it for me on the client side for a long time to come.


Re: Marketing slides....

Agreed but in fairness the target audience here on El Reg is about three orders of magnitude better at compute and graph interpretation skills than potential customers of the MBA.

I'd think the audience here is probably still an order or magnitude ahead of the median WWDC virtual attendee. Not to say there aren't some incredibly high end people who do, it's just Apple's app development process has become more about design and library abstraction engineering than hard core code.

I think what they've done here with the inspiration and dedication going all the way back to Sophie Wilson et al at Acorn and the original ARM Cambridge - it's an extraordinary achievement. ProRes video encoding on a low end chip, power envelope, neural co-processing, on package HBM2, GPU and CPU performance. Nothing short of amazing.

Just a shame the announced PACMAN 48 bit address + pointer authentication "vulnerability" of the M1 using ARMv8.3 reminds me of the 26 bit addressing mode in the original ARM where the extra 6 bits were used for flags and SWIs. That caused quite a few bad memories of assembly code revisions by me when it went full 32 bit. This new one to me seems mostly theoretical rather than a huge security flaw. Unlike Spectre and friends.

Apple M1 chip contains hardware vulnerability that bypasses memory defense


Re: ARM or Apple?

AWS Graviton 3 instances also implement pointer authentication.

Leaked footage shows British F-35B falling off HMS Queen Elizabeth and pilot's death-defying ejection


Re: "a high priority operation was under way to recover the crashed jet"

... which is of course pointless as the plans and probably most of the codebase will be already sitting in the Chinese, Russian, Iranian, Indian and German spy agencies' git repos. Even worse - the French may have their hands on them!

All those agencies are probably on a more recent branches than the builds installed on that former bird - now submarine.

But at least we'll be keeping up appearances old chap! Never know, Lord Kitchener might mention us in dispatches!

84-year-old fined €250,000 for keeping Nazi war machines – including tank – in basement


Re: WTF?

Like the fact Kaiser Wilhelm of WW1 fame was King George V's first cousin, both calling Queen Victoria "Grandma Saxe-Coburg-Gothe" and the only reason she wasn't made Queen of Hanover after William IV died was because they wouldn't allow a woman. Not so PC in those days.

And that fact the debacle of ridiculous reparations after 1918 between the two powers who are actually members of the same family, directly caused the Weimar republic.

The inability of Germany to pay that burden resulted in massive printing of currency, the rich getting richer but most of the population of Germany in abject poverty with the end result ... the Nazis using that fact to be voted in, then seizing absolute power and proceeding to wreck a good percentage of the 20th Century.

iFixit surgeons dissect Apple's pricey Mac Pro: Industry standard sockets? Repair diagrams? Who are you and what have you done to Apple?


Not only is it 'a thing' but these days it's everywhere, even prosumer.

That's not for delivering 8K res selfies, but it's usually for pro production to be able to get 4K (or even just HD) quality vision out of a frame by zooming.

But even pro 16K video cameras are starting to become available in prototypes in Japan. Ikegami and NHK have them and the 2020 Olympics will be full of them.

Trust me, a Terabyte of RAM is nothing if you're editing that footage.

France wants in on the No Huawei Club while Canuck infosec bloke pretty insistent on ban


Huawei is a microcosm of Chinese ascendancy

Huawei is now the world leader in ultra-high bandwidth comms; PAM4/PAM8, 400GbE ++, massive-SDN, fibre, wireless, free-space optical. They either run or significantly contribute IP to all the relevant IEEE forums. While still closed source, they show code to any government afraid they're the devil incarnate.

Any Reg reader should know intelligence services have access to decap their custom ASICs, take a photomicrograph of the die and work out what it's doing at the gate level. Phoning home to Beijing is easily detected by deep packet inspection, but we all know that's not what it's all about.

It's simply protectionist and political. Huawei pricing is putting a serious dent into the Arista, Cisco, Juniper and HPs of the world, but the really scary part is that Western agencies are now being limited in their ability to insert their own intelligence gathering exploits at the lowest possible level, and on international networks where they don't have friendly/compliant telcos to help/force.

Huawei's ascendancy is mostly symbolic - the West is in a financial mess, but China soon will be, or already is the global economic superpower. That to many in the US/EU politics and business communities is simply inconceivable, but it's a fact and it's never going back.

Hell desk to user: 'I know you're wrong. I wrote the software. And the protocol it runs on'


Oooh yeah you bet!

Back in the early 90s when I was about 20 I wanted to get a job a radio presenter, because frankly being a developer/engineer bored the crap out of me and radio jocks seemed to get all the women. Remember this is way before the dot.bomb and the cash for coding while OK was nothing compared with being on air presenter in broadcast media.

Anyway, as part of one of my first gigs in a regional market, we'd been selected to be the bunnies to test a new digital automation system. It was DOS based and very beta at that stage, so there were massive problems getting it stable, and consequently we had many "AirGaps" - rather long embarrassing silences while the system rebooted and rebuilt a cache of every single audio file on the drives!!

So to help the techs who were young and cool there, I wrote a suite of audio monitoring tools, and some vastly better database reconciliation code to log issues and help with DB reconciliation. I just did it for free and released it to whoever wanted to use it, and made it didn't have my name on screen anywhere so I wasn't associated with it. Not 'cool' in the eyes of the young ladies for a 21 year old DJ to be connected to any dorky computer code.

A couple of years later I'd risen through the ranks to become a prime-time presenter on one of Australia's biggest media networks. They were in the process of installing the same system. I was told NOT TO TOUCH the system - "Don't treat it like a computer - it's not. It's an audio storage device", and anyone who does will be fired immediately. So I immediately checked out the system and yes, somehow my code had magically been incorporated into the install. Unlike the regional guys, the big city engineers were rather precious about computers because they were all "analogue" guys.

Of course I was immediately in trouble for logging into the backend. And blamed for the system screwing up so many times according to their logger. When I pointed out that the logging system that logged me was also written by me all of a sudden I was the worst enemy. I had to use a hex dump utility to show them the ASCII string of my own name I'd buried in there before they accepted it. BTW I had to teach them what a hex editor was before doing so.

Shortly after they spent many tens of thousands with the vendor getting all my code rewritten. Of course I didn't care less from then on. They more or less left me alone and while they were spending long nights trying to get the system stable, I was out clubbing with two incredibly hot chicks! hahahah

Retailers would love an NBN backhaul tariff restructure


Well we saw this coming years ago!

Look, technically speaking most of you are right. Network contention at the RSP level was always going to be the critical problem.

I've been saying since day one the entire thing is flawed because of the incredible capital cost of the rollout which made it impossible for everyone to make money, even at the currently ludicrously low bond rate plus a bit. Someone had to lose here, the taxpayer, nbnco, the retail ISPs, the customers or all of the above.

It only takes a calculator to work out many tens of billions, perhaps a hundred billion in infrastructure costs for 25M people was madness - especially when we'd already seen the idiotic duplication of the metro HFC networks from 1995 onward with $2B+ price tags, for almost exactly what the NBN was offering at startup.

But this situation isn't new. We were paying $5-$10 per hour in the early-mid 90s for a dialup account and could pretty much max out our modems at whatever speed they connected at. Then along came flat rate ISPs who realised they could oversell their 128kbps ISDN Microlink to the network - or a E1/Macrolink if you were really lucky - to hundreds or thousands of flat rate subscribers. Why? Because the cost of backhaul was incredibly expensive. Then people were pissed because in peak time anything outside the ISP's local network was unusable, if you could actually get through and grab a circuit in the model pool at all!

All the incessant hype, particularly aimed at the non-tech market, just pushed expectations of what the nbn could do for their lives into the stratosphere. For heavens sake, it's just an internet connection, and just like in the dialup days, people don't understand network contention or backhaul. Joe Average will always pay the least they can for a consumer product, because unlike we tech peeps, that's how they think of it. And with all that nonsense and PR ... of course they think 'it's the 'NBN' so as long as I've got it, it has to be incredible.'

Don't tell me if it were all fibre it would be different, it wouldn't - just even more expensive. This is the crux of the problem and no amount of fiddling with CVC numbers is going to make a hoot of difference. The biggest players will always be able to screw the little guys on volume, especially when there is next to zero differentiation in product. This is just basic economics; we've created a residential access monopoly so by default the biggest will win, who also just happen to have pervasive LTE-A and soon 5G networks at gigabit speeds. So now we're stuffed. The customer's confused - even many technical customers - so they start blaming anyone because they just don't understand the real issue.

It's very simple. Just-in-time always wins, while massive spend technology projects inevitably fail. Why? Because innovation moves faster than the rate at which you can physically implement it.

Now here's a novel idea: Digitising Victorian-era stamp duty machines


Re: That's not a f***ing novel idea

Great idea but nothing like £11B. Remove the duty, then remove the people employed to collect, enforce, administer and legally interpret the rules and deal with disputes. Then fire the project managers, remove the insurance companies, bankers, agents, communications executives and sundry other parasites living off the system, Then sell off all the infrastructure, real estate, even sell those antique stamping machines to the highest bidders for an immediate one-off gain, writing down debt. So people lose their jobs. Life sucks. Deal with it.

While you're at it, you may as well automate all taxation completely. Book 5% of all revenue at the gate - that's less than the compliance costs of the 'Double Irish' for American corporations. Give everyone a small, permanent unemployment benefit, just enough to eat. No need to apply because probably you'll lose your job. And write off all loans in the old currency and eliminate the entire banking system. No need, we're all digital baby! Bring back a balanced government budget and a new currency that's backed by energy and metals. Goodbye 80% of the cost of government and it's a huge incentive for people and small businesses to do something productive and grow the economy.

Sure, massive deflation of some things, hyper-inflation of others along with a mega-depression but we'll get over it ... eventually ... then it's blue sky. Just think of how many lawyers we'd be able to get rid of! Oops - sorry wife.

nbn™ hits the half-way mark – but has more than half of the job left


Indeed and this is exactly why the nbn is and always has been a dead duck. The killer was the always going to be the business model and mandatory interconnect fee, due to the absurdly expensive rollout. The network will obviously never get a 100% take-up rate - even forcing people off POTS. Some people simply don't want or need fixed access to home anymore. 50% or 60% might be it!

The telcos worked this out a long time ago. LTE-A cells are turning up every few hundred metres in metro areas, connected to trunk fibre and streaming media edge caches. The wireless providers are offering major content players including Netflix unmetered on their mobile plans and the data caps are constantly increasing - $65 for 50GB per month is now common (in addition to unmetered streaming) and plans are data-additive. Not uncommon in homes with kids to have 100G+ per month per family.

Add in WiFi hotspots everywhere, and rich apps running in the cloud whether that's a good idea or not, and the nbn is now seriously in danger of being irrelevant way before the rollout is finished.

Software dev bombshell: Programmers who use spaces earn MORE than those who use tabs


Re: Hey, did you know the editor could do that automatically?

Forget the tabs, spaces thing...what about all these abominations?

#include <everyLibraryInTheKnownUniverse>

boolean cant_bear_people_who_waste_loads_of_bytes_with_underscores = true;

boolean whilstEverythingElseIsCrushedTogetherAndDescriptiveToThePointOfSilly = true;

Life was so much better when all we needed to do is use a single directive like EQU $8000 (or even fancy-pants EQU &8000 for Acorn aficionados) Real coders write stuff like ...


// etc - no spaces, no tabs, no bloomin' anything. Have stack, accumulator and a couple of other registers - who needs anything else? Oh.. but hang on -