* Posts by vtcodger

799 posts • joined 13 Sep 2017


All-electric plane makes first flight – while lugging 2 tons of batteries aloft

vtcodger Silver badge

Could someone check the numbers?

I'm in no way shape or form an aeronautical engineer -- which should make all of you feel a bit safer. But if I take the empty weight of a Cessna Caravan (2145kg), subtract maybe 200kg for replacing the normal turboprop with an electric motor, add 2 tons of batteries (1814kg), I get a takeoff weight of 3759kg with no cargo, no passengers, and no pilot. Subtract that from the maximum takeoff weight of 3969kg and the payload would be 210kg. Enough for a pilot, a parachute (I suspect any sane test pilot for this thing would want at least one),a sixpack of beer, and a not overly large dog.

I wonder if someone who knows what they are doing could check the numbers.

Watch an oblivious Tesla Model 3 smash into an overturned truck on a highway 'while under Autopilot'

vtcodger Silver badge

Re: This is a driver assist not an autopilot !

"I'm sure they would also fly straight into an overturned truck floating in their flight path."

My understanding is that commercial aircraft tell the "driver" when they think he/she is about to fly into things. for mountains, it is "Terrain Awareness and Warning System (TAWS)". For other aircraft it is Airborne Collision Avoidance System (ACAS)

Perhaps Teslae and other perhaps some other autonomous vehicles as well need an obstacle awareness and warning system.

vtcodger Silver badge

Re: Call it what it is

"It's not Artificial Intelligence that's driving the car, it's Artificial Guessing."

Perhaps Clippy's driver's license should be suspended until he learns a bit more about geometry and physics?

80-characters-per-line limits should be terminal, says Linux kernel chief Linus Torvalds

vtcodger Silver badge

Re: not the terminal, the punch card

And one quickly learned to sequence by tens or hundreds in order to allow for inserting patches.

Punched cards with sequence numbers worked pretty well compared to stuff like paper tape, early disk drives, and even magnetic tape--all of which tended to be probabilistic media. IMO, About the only things that worked better back in the good old days was that keyboards. If we're so damn smart, why don't we have $12 keyboards with the touch and feel of IBM Selectric typewriters?

Surprise! That £339 world's first 'anti-5G' protection device is just a £5 USB drive with a nice sticker on it

vtcodger Silver badge

Pawing through my junk drawer, I found a 256mb USB drive with a paper label. It's presumably kept me safe from 5G or any other usable form of high speed data connection for decades. And, yes, it seems to have an LED on the circuit board. In all likelihood it'll continue to keep me safe for decades into the future. (Welcome to rural America)

Boeing brings back the 737 Max but also lays off thousands

vtcodger Silver badge

Re: "more than a dozen initiatives focused on enhancing workplace safety and product quality"

My guess would be that Boeing has a bunch of customers with contracts signed many years ago that are obligated to either take the aircraft -- certified or not -- or pay a substantial contract cancellation payment.

I mean, why, other than locked in prior bad luck/judgment, would anyone buy an aircraft from Boeing or anybody else given the current air travel market? I should think that there will shortly be hordes of slightly used aircraft available for lease or purchase at very attractive prices.

So ... perhaps one more year of whopping bonuses for Boeing management ... then ...

It wasn't just a few credit cards: Entire travel itineraries were stolen by hackers, Easyjet now tells victims

vtcodger Silver badge

Re: Oh dear.

There are a lot of folks out there who sincerely believe that personal details hacked from the Internet are a marketable entity of great worth. Credit card account info, yeah, I can believe there is marketplace in some dingy corner of the dark web where that can be sold for a tiny fraction of a Bitcoin. (How does one do that BTW? Bitcoins aren't pieces of eight that any fool could carve up with a chisel.) But who, in or out of their right mind, would pay for your travel itinery?

Microsoft drops a little surprise thank-you gift for sitting through Build: The source for GW-BASIC

vtcodger Silver badge

Re: every byte mattered ...

Indeed, the 8086/8088 addressing and instruction set was and is unremittingly ugly. It has only gotten worse over time. Somewhat reminiscent of a third world bus put together from a number of 1950s automobiles by a self taught mechanic whose only tool is an oxyacetylene torch.

But my impression is that while the 68000 had a saner instruction set, it faulted if one attempted to fetch a 16 bit operator from an odd address. X86 only charged a small execution time penalty (one clock tick?) for fetching 16 bits from an odd address. That was a meaningful difference in storage needs back in the days of $100+ for a few 100K of memory.

Could have that all wrong. Never had an MC68000 computer to play with. I did play around with Motorola's 8 bit MC6809 which was a joy to program.

Mind your language: Microsoft set to swing the axe on 27 languages in iOS Outlook

vtcodger Silver badge

Re: You vill parle Amrecianish Da!

As to the status of Gaelic as opposed to Welsh, they are roughly similar in that they are both protected in law and used by a proportion of the general population and government.

Are you suggesting that the activities of American tech companies might be subject to the rule of law? That's not going to sit well in some quarters.

IBM cuts deep into workforce – even its Watson and AI teams – as it 'pivots' to cloud

vtcodger Silver badge

IBM assets

AFAICS, long term IBM has only two real corporate assets -- its staff and its patent portfolio. It's dumping the first, and the second is perishable. The phrase "burning the furniture to warm the house" comes to mind.

Well, that's something boffins haven't seen before: A strange alien streaks around Jupiter

vtcodger Silver badge

Re: Looks like a job for...

Why would squids or any other variety of aliens want to invade a planet overpopulated with 7 plus billion cantankerous entities who appear to be completely lacking in any useful skills and utterly unable to manage their own affairs? Nothing good could possibly result from such an invasion.

Hey Siri, are you still recording people's conversations despite promising not to do so nine months ago?

vtcodger Silver badge

What **I** want seems to be a matter of no interest at all to either Capitalists of Socialists.

Wait, I happen to have a not yet completed Absentee Ballot here. Let me check. Nope. No Nihilists or Anarchists or anything like that running for office around here this year.

vtcodger Silver badge

Of course, everything you are doing on that tablet is being sent back to Amazon.

I expect that a bit of chewing gum in the microphone's listening port will fix that. At least for this year's technology.

Internet of Tardiness: Microsoft puts on a brave face as IoT boat prepares to set sail

vtcodger Silver badge

IOT as a boat

Missing the IOT boat may not be the worst thing Microsoft could do. So far, the IOT boat looks a lot like the Titanic. Lots of promise one supposes. But so far pretty much a lengthy vista of ill-conceived products and failed concepts. And that's before taking into account the associated security nightmare. It seems to me possible that the IOT will really never be more than an extensive collection of expensive, highly specialized products -- each sold to a comparative handful of customers with specialized needs. More like the automated manufacturing machinery market than a mass market.

That's perhaps not an ideal marketplace for a company that mostly sells huge numbers of not too specialized thingees to a huge customer base.

Easyjet hacked: 9 million people's data accessed plus 2,200 folks' credit card details grabbed

vtcodger Silver badge

Re: Never store CC details

If they're doing it properly, then the credit card numbers will be passed to a CC processor, who will return a transaction number.

So basically we replace a token known to me, the merchant, and my "bank" with a token known by the merchant, the "bank" and a trusted third party but unknown to me. I'm not sure that's a bad idea. But in addition to being kind of complicated, its potentially risky if the "trusted third party" turns out to be not so trustworthy. Or they ae compromised by -- say-- ransomeware. Or if they go out of business. Or if they decide to charge outrageous fees for their services.

Don't get me wrong. Sometimes the best answer for a problem is more complicated than the simplest answer. But ...

vtcodger Silver badge

Re: Never store CC details

Doesn't make any difference.

I'm pretty sure you are correct for actual purchases. I'm unsure how the vendor could handle a chargeback or refund without having the CC number stashed with the transaction data. Likewise monthly subscriptions for services. The alternative to a stored CC for those would appear to be direct charges to your bank account. Somehow, that sounds even worse to me.

But I think the OP was referring to vendors like Amazon who allow one to use a stored credit card number so one doesn't have to type it in every time they order a box of chocolates.

I kind of wonder if it isn't about time for governments to start working on a set of explicit worldwide standards and conventions for digital commerce. Of course there might be a problem if it turns out that no set of standards and conventions that actually allows commerce and is also secure is possible.

Equifax finally coughs up the money for its 2017 monster hack… to the banks for having to cancel your cards

vtcodger Silver badge

To the barricades

You ... pull that ATM over here. You .. yeah you ... park that Uber van on top of the ATM. Kids -- get out there and add every Network Interface Connector and router you can find and put them on the pile. Now ... the torch

Boy, look at those cops run. They know whats good for them. You two take those police cars and round up some regulators and financial execs. We're gonna put them to work cleaning the sewers with a toothbrush.

A flag? Great. Stand next to the bonfire and wave it. Ignore the damn teargas and the rubber bullets. Show some brass ...

Now, everybody ... On three ... One ... Two ... Three

"Do you hear the people sing?

Singing a song of angry men?

It is the music of a people

Who will not be slaves again"


OK, OK -- not gonna happen. But I can dream can't I?

Huge if true... Trump explodes as he learns open source could erode China tech ban

vtcodger Silver badge

Re: 1% are the 1%

It's *only* fat people and I'm just big boned!

Nonsense! Your weight is fine. It's your height. You're too short.

(Joke borrowed from Neil Gaiman -Neverwhere I think.

I'll return it. I promise)

Tales from the crypt-oh: Nvidia accused of concealing $1bn in coin-mining GPU sales as gaming revenue

vtcodger Silver badge

How the hell ...

How the hell is NVIDIA supposed to know what the cards it's customers buy are going to be used for?

One suspects that NVIDIA's marketing folks might have some notion of what the company's marketplace looks like. If not, why are they on the payroll?

And lying -- especially to the shareholders that, conceptually at least, own you -- seems a bit iffy.

But still, in what way have the nice folks who have filed this lawsuit been significantly harmed?

If American tech is used to design or make that chip, you better not ship it to Huawei, warns Uncle Sam

vtcodger Silver badge

Re: Good incentive for China

I'm told that there are a few things the Chinese still can't make. High performance aircraft engines for example. But they are mostly stuff the US won't sell them anyway. And they can probably get by one way or the other

If the idea is to cripple Chinese manufacturing, Trump is somewhere between two and four decades too late. If the idea is to somehow bring manufacturing jobs back to the US, he's at least a couple of decades too early. Mostly those jobs aren't coming back until manufacturing costs in overseas countries with decent education systems approach the costs in the US.

And by the time manufacturing returns to the US, manufacturing will probably be so heavily automated that it doesn't employ all that many folks.

Swedish data centre offers rack-scale dielectric immersion cooling

vtcodger Silver badge

Re: You

you can have liquid cooling without putting your computer in a bath.

Indeed -- CDC's supercomputers of the 1960s were water cooled. I know that because I was thrown off a CDC 6400 in one of their labs on a chilly May afternoon because -- as an agitated engineer informed me -- the computer had "sprung a leak".

vtcodger Silver badge

In days of yore

In the distant past -- say two or three decades ago -- some folks cooled REALLY high performance PCs by dumping the whole device into a container of oil and cooling the oil with a heat exchanger. I never tried that. But I was told that it worked fine as far as cooling went. The problem that limited the utility was that the oil eventually found its way out into the environment through every minute opening. Like between the gaps between the insulation and conductors in the wiring leading to the power switch and indicator lights. Things got quite messy after a few hours I was told.

Xiaomi Mi 9 owners furious after dodgy Vodafone software patch bricked their mobes

vtcodger Silver badge

Re: Android One

You're talking about those antiquated phone-like things where you just popped an aging battery out and replaced it yourself? How quaint. Gone the way of the quill pen and TVs that turn on nearly instantaneously when you press the power button.

vtcodger Silver badge

I'm curious

I don't do smart phones because I really don't seem to need one. I have a decade old tracfone that satisfies my occasional need for remote phone calls and text messages, costs less and probably only spies on me on those rare occasions when I turn it on. So maybe I'm missing the obvious.

But I'm curious. If you have no connectivity as a result of installing the latest manufacturer improvement, how are you supposed to download that fix that will be promulgated any minute now?

Microsoft claims AWS has used new JEDI mind trick with secret contract objection filing

vtcodger Silver badge

It's been a while, but ...

It's been 3 or 4 decades since I was involved in government contracting. But I doubt things have changed much. Every contract award is a bit different, but the general process is sort of generic.

The Gubmint comes up with a Request For Proposal (RFP) that defines the general parameters of the contract. Time span, The sort of price they have in mind. Some things they want done. Completion date. An incredibly lengthy list of laws and specifications that must be complied with. How specific the RFP is, is a function of what is to be done. If they are looking for 300 Tomahawk missiles, your proposal better specify devices the same size and range with identical or near identical capability, with the same interfaces. And they'll probably specify a test regime. In this case they probably specified workloads, data volumes, security constraints, reliability, perhaps acceptable OSes and programming languages, page after page after page ... lots of specificity.

You as a contractor will have to "qualify" yourself. You'll need to come up with a plausible story about how your operation has adequate staff, experience, etc,etc,etc. to do the job

Once you've qualified yourself, you then produce a lengthy work of fiction called a Proposal that explains in detail how you will do the job in the specified time period while fully complying with every relevant law and constraint. And how much it will cost. This is where it gets trickier. Different bidders will likely have different approaches, skill sets, hardware preferences, etc, etc, etc. If the contact is for 50,000 pairs of combat boots, the proposals may be relatively easy to compare and the contract will likely be awarded to the low bidder(s). For complex technical products, likely no one is completely sure what is being offered, when, and for how much. But tradition demands that everyone ignore that.

Anyway, the government may well come back with a few (or a lot or) questions. Revisions to the proposal may be allowed if it becomes clear that there is a genuine misunderstanding about what is desired and some of that is the government's fault. Eventually, the contract is (usually) awarded assuming that there is at least one (marginally) acceptable proposal.

Then comes the lawsuits and pontificating by guys with expensive haircuts and even more expensive suite. That's the phase we seem to be in now.

'A' is for ad money oddly gone missing: Probe finds middlemen siphon off half of online advertising spend

vtcodger Silver badge

Re: "the online ad industry urgently needs to work together"

My God man. We have economies worldwide being devastated by a global pandemic, and you suggest interjecting honest conduct into the economic mix? Have you thought through the consequences? Civilization would surely collapse.

vtcodger Silver badge

Re: No surprise, but what to do about it?

On top of which, it would be difficult to block ads served directly by the content provider. One might argue that it would be difficult for content providers to police the content of ads for malware and such. True enough. But since no one seems to police ad content anyway, would the situation actually be any worse?

Surprise surprise! Hostile states are hacking coronavirus vaccine research, warn UK and USA intelligence

vtcodger Silver badge

We're talking medical research, not nuclear launch codes.

I'm trying to think of a reason for not simply giving legitimate Russian, Iranian, Icelandic, Fenwickian etc. representatives user accounts that let them view any and all research info on Coronavirus. Can't come up with much.

Heck, why not just publish the information on Wikipedia?

We beg, implore and beseech thee. Stop reusing the same damn password everywhere

vtcodger Silver badge

Re: OK, sp which password manager to plump for?

Oh yeah, and in addition to all those things, your password manager has to be perfectly secure since any security flaws in your password manager will likely result in ALL it's user data being sold as part of a 50Gb file on the dark web.

vtcodger Silver badge

Re: In other news....

I reuse the same password on loads of sites, such as here on the Reg.

Let me guess. "drowssaP"?

It has been 20 years since cybercrims woke up to social engineering with an intriguing little email titled 'ILOVEYOU'

vtcodger Silver badge

Re: Plus ça change

what is this kind of article going to look like in another 20 years?

My guess is that at some point in the next two decades, some collection of crackpots like Donald the Useless and his cronies will sufficiently aggravate some pariah nation state like NK, Iran, or Cuba, that cyber hostilities will break out. The resulting chaos as electronic payment systems fail, power grids go into hibernation, travel becomes next to impossible, communication is temporarily reduced to hand written notes, etc, etc, etc. may change the way we do things. I don't think the cyber world of 2040 will be much, if any, more secure. But it may well be less dependent on digital communication for critical infrastructure.

India makes contact-tracing app compulsory in viral hot zones despite most local phones not being smart

vtcodger Silver badge

Re: Was in India recently

FWIW, the logic behind the mask thing is that medical personnel who are in constant contact with the sick need "N95" level masks that filter incoming air and fit tightly in order to possibly protect themselves.

The rest of us are to get by with improvised masks that don't protect us much if at all, but which might -- if the wind is fair and the gods are willing -- protect others from any viral droplets we might otherwise be scattering about. Wearing homemade masks is a courtesy to others.

vtcodger Silver badge

Stupid question

I know this must be a stupid question. But if you want to know who called who and when, why would you track that from hundreds of millions of individual cell phones rather than from the call logs from a few (Wikipedia says only six) telecom operators?

vtcodger Silver badge

Could be

"I think you'll find that's true of most of the software on your phone now."

I wouldn't be surprised that you're correct since "business ethics" seems even more oxymoronic than usual in our current golden age. My question would be who is buying all this surveillance data. And why. The fact that I went to the hardware store and supermarket last Thursday strikes me as being a data point whose value to anyone is as close to zero as it is possible to come without violating the laws of quantum mechanics.

Square peg of modem won't fit into round hole of PC? I saw to it, bloke tells horrified mate

vtcodger Silver badge

Re: ain't no problem in the world that can't be solved with hot-snot

i always use duct tape and WD40

Those plus a hammer, a Dremel with a cutting disk, and a reversable Phillips/Flathead screwdriver from any model 1960-1990 Mazda and you have a complete toolkit suitable for almost all user level electronic, automotive or household repair tasks.

Tesla sued over Tokyo biker's death in 'dozing driver' Autopilot crash

vtcodger Silver badge

License to Kill

People want autonomous vehicles. And were I a gambler, I'd bet on them happening eventually. But, flawed though human drivers are, the technical problems of "safer than human" autonomous vehicle control are enormous. The record is clear. Tesla's "autopilot" system is not reliable and is a menace to innocent third parties. And Tesla apparently can not be trusted to deploy driver assistance with proper concern for safety. It's past time to turn their system off. Permanently.

If ("when" I think) some more responsible company eventually creates a vehicle control system that drives better than humans, Tesla can license the technology from them. In the meantime, Tesla's system should be turned off and left off. The $5000 folks paid for it should be refunded.

Tesla's license to kill should be revoked.

Airbus and Rolls-Royce hit eject on hybrid-electric airliner testbed after E-Fan X project fails to get off the ground

vtcodger Silver badge

Re: Electric planes?

... solar panels ...

Max theoretical output about 1 kwh per square meter. In the tropics. At noon. On a cloudless day. Using far more efficient panels than we can make today.

Might be feasible on a 21st century zeppelin. On a conventional fixed wing airliner, probably not.

Maybe our great, great, ever so great, grandkids will indeed travel the world in gas filled bags propelled by solar electricity. But I doubt the groundspeed for lighter than air transport will ever be what air travelers today experience. Trains, however, may eventually go as fast as today's planes. Maybe faster. But probably not from Los Angeles to Sydney.

Royal Navy nuclear submarine captain rapped for letting crew throw shoreside BBQ party

vtcodger Silver badge

Tomahawk missile range

BGM109 range was about 1500mi=2400km back in the 1980s. Doubt it's changed much. A bit iffy for London to Moscow (1540mi), but more than adequate for North Sea to much of Western Russia.

Elevating cost-cutting to a whole new level with million-dollar bar bills

vtcodger Silver badge

Re: Elevator interface

Nothing will stop a determined digger driver with your fibre in his sights.

While diggers seem to prefer fiber, if none is available, any wire will do -- phone, power, coax. They can also snack on water, gas, or sewage pipes.

Forget tabs – the new war is commas versus spaces: Web heads urged by browser devs to embrace modern CSS

vtcodger Silver badge

Re: What's wrong with CGA?

Nobody needs more than 4 colours on a page!

What are the extra 2 colors for?

ICANN delays .org sell off after California's attorney general intervenes at last minute, tears non-profit a new one over sale

vtcodger Silver badge


"Oh, as a side note, looking at the letter-head is that "Britannia" I see before me on the "Great Seal"?"

I believe it's Minerva/Athena. The nametag depending upon which side of the Adriatic you are standing on.

RAND report finds that, like fusion power and Half Life 3, quantum computing is still 15 years away

vtcodger Silver badge

Not always awful

"- usable automated call handling"

A lot of them ARE pretty bad. OTOH, some are marginably usable. Especially the ones that let one key in information from the phone keypad instead of depending on voice recognition. Actually, I think the best automated call handling is less unusable than most 2FA schemes I've encountered.

vtcodger Silver badge

Re: What the likes of a RAND are terrified of <s>advising you</s>

Two things:

1. The principle problem with quantum computing if it ever works probably isn't updating security practices and algorithms -- although that's bad enough. It's all the previously unreadable stuff that folks have recorded and can now read.

2. Quantum decryption is at the it_doesn't_have_to_work_very_well_to_be_useful end of the computing spectrum. If it only works 1 time in 50 you can just try over and over until you get a result that isn't garbage.

Europe calls for single app to track coronavirus. Meanwhile America pretends it isn’t trying to build one at all

vtcodger Silver badge

Re: So, Musk bought a thousand ventilators

"As for Thiel, I can't help but wonder : did he keep his plane crew isolated with him, or did he send them back to fare for themselves"

Probably had them shot.

Consumer reviewer Which? finds CAN bus ports on Ford and VW, starts yelling 'Security! We have a problem...'

vtcodger Silver badge

Re: a known issue for years?

An inexpensive keyless entry device known as a "brick" has been available to (and actually used by) car thieves for about a century.

vtcodger Silver badge

Re: Who needs access to CAN to change tyre status

My wife's car has Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS). The sales people made it clear when we bought the car that the system was unreliable and more or less useless. (When was the last time THAT happened to you?) . Time has proved them to have been honest about that at least.

I have long since augmented the TPMS with a $5.00 set of indicating tire valve caps that actually tell me when tires are underinflated and refrain from reporting temperature changes as flat tires.

COVID-19 is pretty nasty but maybe this is taking social distancing too far? Universe may not be expanding equally in all directions

vtcodger Silver badge

Re: Here's a bug report for cosmology

Better than "it's an open universe, you can always fork it and fix it yourself"

Not a bad idea ... But the documentation seems to be sadly deficient.

Australian digital-radio-for-railways Huawei project derailed by US trade sanctions against Chinese tech giant

vtcodger Silver badge

Re: Trade war

The US has a quarter of the planet's proven coal reserves. It's the Saudi Arabia of coal. And it is currently awash with cheap natural gas. I don't think Australia is going to export much of either to the US. I'm having trouble thinking of anything that Australia could export to the US. Decent beer maybe. That's about it.

Delivery drones: Where are they when we really need them?

vtcodger Silver badge

Re: It'll happen

I imagine that you'll have one or more delivery ports -- think in terms of a mailbox on steroids -- on your house or business. The delivery vehicle will robotically just slip your delivery into the port. I'm very old and I can remember that back in the 1940s in the US they actually did that (manually not robotically) with milk, bakery products and ice. I think they did it with coal in colder climates and they still do it (again manually, but it could probably be automated) with fuel oil or propane in cold areas beyond the reach of natural gas.

Leaving Las Vegas... for good? IT industry conference circuit won't look the same on other side of COVID-19 pandemic

vtcodger Silver badge

Re: I disagree

Conferences will resume

Perhaps. This looks to be an involuntary experiment to determine if conferences have any real utility in the 21st century. If they do, then presumably the conferences will start up again. Or not. Or maybe they'll end up taking a different form -- likely smaller, less stressful, with many more remote options.

It doesn't help that modern air travel has degenerated into an experience about as pleasant as a weekend in prison and that the few venues capable of hosting a really large conference are not necessarily places one wants to endure more than maybe thrice in a lifetime.

Time will tell.



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