* Posts by rg287

347 posts • joined 13 Apr 2018


UK space firms forced to adjust their models of how the universe works as they lose out on Copernicus contracts

rg287 Silver badge

Not a single mention of the ESA's £100m investment in a new Business Incubation Centre in Leicester?

Copernicus is an EU project like Galileo. So we will no longer get to participate (pending the new UK-EU Treaty).

But the ESA is a what-you-put-in-you-get-out agency. We contribute money, and the ESA will continue to award a proportionate work-share to the UK. There's no "winning" or "losing out" - we are guaranteed our share of ESA projects.

But we won't get a share of EU projects awarded to the ESA for delivery because we're not part of the EU (unless we successfully get a Swiss-type deal which permits participation, which is why the Swiss are able to work on Galileo).

I was screwed over by Cisco managers who enforced India's caste hierarchy on me in US HQ, claims engineer

rg287 Silver badge

Re: Deep-rooted prejudice

There's an entire episode of Only Fools and Horses built around the Indian caste system in London (or rather, exploiting British ignorance of it!). That was 1981.

Laws on police facial recognition aren't tough enough, UK data watchdog barrister tells Court of Appeal

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Re: you would be surprised...

I recall reading a Cory Doctorow story some time back. It wasn't terribly good, but one scene did stick with me.

Set in the near future the protagonist ends up in court and after being queried on a point the judge replies "I'm not a complete luddite you know - I used to play CounterStrike for England!".

It was an entertaining observation that whilst we like to view judges as old and fusty, the generation of young professionals who were ~20-25 when Half Life came out in 1998(!) are now in their mid-40s and starting to fill into roles on the Bench. As you say, they understand enough to ask the right questions as the technology relates to the law.

Ex-Dell distributor in Lebanon ignored ban on suing US tech giant. Now four directors have been sentenced to prison in the UK

rg287 Silver badge

They've had their redress.

By agreeing to enter binding arbitration they agreed to be bound by the findings. Arbitration is really just like going through the courts but a hell of a lot cheaper. You both present your cases and the arbitrator makes a ruling.

I've seen cases in non-binding arbitration where one party has decided they didn't like the ruling, forcing a court case. This ultimately costs more (because you've paid out for the arbitration) and wastes everybody's time. It's an arsehole move. If you're not sincere about entering arbitration, then don't. Have your day in court and get it done with.

It is an entirely reasonable response to seek a no-suit ruling to prevent vexatious lawsuits if one party is going to play silly buggers after arbitration.

Consider this. If SETS had gone to court, they'd have been told the same thing, and if they'd then tried to bypass or reject that ruling they would have ended up in contempt. This is just the court enforcing the terms of the contract that they willingly signed. Same outcome, just via a slightly different route.

SpaceX Crew Dragon docks at International Space Station

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Re: Correct me if I’m wrong

But isn’t it the first manned capsule to have been designed since the ‘70s? That’s more impressive to me than the 9 year stat that always gets bandied around.

Put it this way. It's only the 9th vehicle to have carried humans to space (and the first privately developed one).

* Vostok

* Voskhod

* Mercury

* Gemini

* Apollo

* Soyuz (albeit various iterations/versions)

* Shuttle

* Shenzhou

* Crew Dragon

They've only gone and bloody done it! NASA, SpaceX send two fellas off to the International Space Station

rg287 Silver badge

Re: How much?

$50-60m is the cost of a commercial launch on F9.

Crew Dragon launching to ISS is ~$160m, because you have to pay for the payload (Crew Dragon) as well as the rocket. And man-rating carries a premium.

So for Bob & Doug, that works out at $80m/seat. But in principle Crew Dragon can carry 7 (.vs Soyuz 3) which whittles the price down to $23m/seat - though it's unlikely NASA will actually launch 7 at a time due to available space on ISS. More like 3-4 with space for pressurised cargo/experiments.

Gone in 9 seconds: Virgin Orbit's maiden rocket flight went perfectly until it didn't

rg287 Silver badge

Re: Oh. Again?

Liquid rocket fuel is often pretty nasty stuff

LauncherOne uses LOX/RP-1, so just highly-refined Kerosene. A spill has environmental impacts but there's no nasty hypergolics (though the payload of course might have hydrazine maneuvering thrusters if they're not simple cold-gas, but the main propulsion by weight and volume is just RP-1).

Still, the sort of thing you'd do at a quiet location like Newquay without the hassle of integrating with nonstop freight and passenger traffic at somewhere like Heathrow or Gatwick.

Former Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman calls on UK govt to legally protect data from contact-tracing apps

rg287 Silver badge

Re: Oh what a tangled web we weave!

Not sure if serious...? I suppose this happens with international audiences.

At one point during Labour's last tenure Ms Harman was associated as a promoter of "Political Correctness gone mad". Consequently it seemed wrong to call her Harriet Harman since that was clearly sexist and furthered the oppressive patriarchy. So Harriet Harperson became a nickname in some quarters.

Much like "Petty Patel" or "Priti Awful" (for our current death-sentence loving Home Sec), Tony Bliar (no luck catching them WMDs then?" ... "It's just the one WMD actually"), etc, etc.

Breaking virus lockdown rules, suing officials, threatening staff, raging on Twitter. Just Elon Musk things

rg287 Silver badge

Re: A possible explanation for sudden behaviour change.

Musk has got himself in trouble with tweets for a few years now - with the SEC for tweets about Tesla stock, or accusing a British of being a paedophile (a baseless accusation that came from a scam private investigator that Musk hired).

I'd attribute those to throwaway comments when under pressure. Musk has always been a bit edgy and anti-social. I think it goes with the territory. Uncompromising geniuses (and objectively, he's an extremely high-performing polymath) tend to have compromised social skills and Musk has never been any different. His performances on Twitter only show that more acutely.

His detractors will say "Oh, it's just Musk being a dick", but that's lazy. The latest hissy-fit over lockdown seems... different. It's not based on a rational analysis of the available data - and that's unusual for Musk. On the one hand you can forgive him being annoyed - Alameda County are the only ones in California maintaining lockdown and every other car manufacturer is going back in their respective states too. But on the other hand, we all know that everybody else is wrong. Trump is wrong, the walts protesting outside state capitols with AR15s across their chests are wrong (and an embarrassment to the 100million respectable and responsible US gun owners to boot). For someone who has always been happy to buck the trend and challenge the received wisdom... it's a change. Is that the fog of new fatherhood, or is this an early indication he's going the way of Cloudflare founder Lee Holloway?

Or maybe he's just being an arrogant dick and he hasn't realised that his enviable ability to integrate new skills and domains of expertise has run out at epidemiology.

Nine million logs of Brits' road journeys spill onto the internet from password-less number-plate camera dashboard

rg287 Silver badge

It's also about attitude.

You can have a sizeable breach, but if you took all reasonable steps - patched, segmented the network, enforced strong passwords, MFA, etc and someone got in because oh, say, a well-respected firewall vendor (*cough* Sophos *cough*) had a serious RCE bug being exploited in the wild, then ICO will take a very sympathetic view to you. You did everything you reasonably could.

As compared to a web-facing dashboard with no auth and no attempt at auth, spilling out PII for years which clearly wasn't properly configured at installation and should never have been accepted by the customer in such a state.

rg287 Silver badge

Re: Massive invasion of privacy

The otherwise unqualified reference to "increasingly authoritarian government" is clearly intended as a poke at the incumbent Conservative government in Westminster.

As such it represents a cheap and feeble attempt at political point scoring against the awful Tory child-eaters which ignores the Labour control of Sheffield Council as well as the raft of intrusive measures introduced nationally by the Blair/Brown Labour administrations from 1997-2010.

In short: They're all as bad as each other and there's no political points to be scored.

But you already knew that.

SpaceX's Elon Musk high on success after counting '420' Starlinks in orbit and Frosty the Starship survives cryo test

rg287 Silver badge

Re: This may be a really obvious question.

No, your average American who doesn't like within a major metro area (and quite a few who do). Not to mention those Brits who live inside the M25 yet can't get sensible speeds due to weird EO lines - or those in rural areas who BT confidently claim can access "superfast fibre broadband", but can't get better than 2Mb down on account of being >2miles from the cabinet.

FTP is crusty and mostly dead, right? AWS just started supporting it anyway

rg287 Silver badge

Re: It's used because it works

Absolutely - and not just in industry but in the consumer space.

Good look setting up a github/x/y/z to some bog-standard cPanel or Plesk hosting (unless the admins have been uncommonly generous and enabled the appropriate plugins). I actually do do this with a hugo site - commit files to a private repo, which triggers a Github Action to rebuild the site and then... FTPs the Public directory onto the hosting.

But fundamentally, your options are login and use the web-based file manager or FTP(S) in. It's so easy your dad can use it.

If you maintain your own servers and can configure your workflow just how you like it (or use cloud services with the latest workflow options) then great. For many consumers and indeed SMBs, FTP is the lowest/simplest common denominator, regardless of whether it's used directly or at the end of an automated testing/build pipeline.

Along with RDP, which we're all told is prehistoric and "nobody uses RDP anymore" - oh yes they do!

Come kneel with us at UK's Cathedral, er, Oil Rig of the Canal: Engineering masterpiece Anderton Boat Lift

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... we've removed all the landscape features that used to absorb the extra water (marshes & wetlands) and keep building houses in places ta flood..

Along with all the upland woods and forests which trapped water upstream and "flattened the curve" (wait, where have we been hearing that recently?), either sucking up water for the foliage, or just releasing it slowly over the course of days/weeks rather than hours.

Netflix starts 30-day video data diet at EU's request to ensure network availability during coronavirus crisis

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Re: What about the CDN?

This is a genuine question. Does anybody know why this is a measure worth taking?

Because most broadband networks are sold on a contended basis. Buying a 70Mb connection doesn't guarantee you 70Mb of backhaul from the cabinet to the exchange or from the exchange to the head-end or regional core, which is where CDN and OpenConnect appliances will live. At one time cabinet contention of 25:1 was common, so if 25 of you bought a 30Mb connection, you were sharing 30Mb of capacity out of the cabinet - and just over 1Mb each doesn't go that far these days.

If all the kids are streaming Netflix in UHD, that can impede their teleworking neighbours who are trying to use VOIP, video conferencing or remote desktop infrastructure (or indeed trying to wrangle large files down from company filestores which would normally be on the office LAN). Encouraging Netflix to cap streams at HD (for instance) is eminently sensible.

It's the cabinets and exchanges which are likely to become saturated rather than the IXPs or Network Cores.

NASA to launch 247 petabytes of data into AWS – but forgot about eye-watering cloudy egress costs before lift-off

rg287 Silver badge

Re: Hang on...

If scientists are going to download so much data locally that went to the cloud first, then surely that data should have gone directly to a NASA data centre first anyway (either for use or for pre-processing prior to AWS ingress)

I was likewise confused at first. Surely the likes of NASA could just negotiate a couple of fat peering connections with AWS and bump off egress charges (in the same way that Bandwidth Alliance deals allow customers to discount egress costs from Azure if they are using something like Cloudflare, because Azure and CF peer and it costs MS nothing to send data to CF compared with sending it over transit).

I think the point is that this is the cost derived from arbitrary users - people at academic institutions around the world. I wouldn't be surprised if this is where the oversight has occurred - NASA will likely be able to get at their data in AWS for free, and it was forgotten that most of their data users are outside NASA and EDSIS will get stung for the egress to them.

I think.

Firefox now defaults to DNS-over-HTTPS for US netizens and some are dischuffed about this

rg287 Silver badge

Re: You can disable

Technically Cloudflare's DoH endpoint is at <https://cloudflare-dns.com/dns-query>

Obviously this requires that you have a config file with the IPs for that domain to bootstrap the service (just as a full resolver has a Root Hints file to bootstrap the service).

Using a domain is done because although it's perfectly possible to have a TLS Cert for an IP address, it's poor form and CAs aren't supposed to issue such things. As a result it's better for the resolver to be calling a FQDN (though CF, being their own CA could generate one - and I seem to recall reading that they might have by now).

rg287 Silver badge

Re: Thank goodness we can turn it off...


As always there are multiple correct answers here. Just as the anonymity argument on social media swings between "But trolls" and "But political activists operating in fear of their lives" or just people separating their online and professional persona (e.g. The Secret Barrister) so it is with the case for DoT/DoH.

DoH is excellent for not only securing your DNS but obfuscating it as general HTTPS traffic. It also bypasses possibly-compromised DHCP settings (though if the authorities are on your device it's already game over). For some people that's genuinely of interest and value.

But for general usage, the Browser is categorically the wrong place to be doing DNS. It makes the crucial assumption that you don't want to connect to LAN domains or use anything that your system might otherwise know about. Worse yet, Firefox's implementation allows you to specify only one "Trusted provider". When Cloudflare fell over last year, there was no way - other than manually changing your settings - to say "Yes, use NextDNS if Cloudflare is unavailable" resulting in resolution failures for everyone using it. What sort of fragile implementation doesn't allow for failover?

Of course there's a security argument there as well, but if you only trust one provider, you can just specify one provider. Those who prefer reliability can specify two.

Compare this to System-level DNS Resolvers - W10 lets you set a Primary/Secondary, macOS lets you set an arbitrary number in preferred order. Linux likewise.

London's top cop dismisses 'highly inaccurate or ill informed' facial-recognition critics, possibly ironically

rg287 Silver badge

Given that individuals of BAME ethnicity make up 26% of the UK Prison population compared with 14% of the General Population, if they've trained the system on mugshots there's a case to be made that it may legitimately be less ethnically-biased than a system trained on a conventional or "representative" training set. This would also explain the gender bias of being more accurate on men than women (more men convicted than women, bigger training set). It possibly also exposes a racial bias of the Met's finest in pursuing prosecutions of BAME ethnicity suspects...

Of course, it can only ever be as good as it's training data and if their training data is well-lit mugshots of front and sides, then it's no surprise that identification from street cameras in real-world conditions is rubbish. I wonder how long it will be before they start doing much more in-depth scans of convicted (or even suspected) individuals in order to provide better training data for the AI? Front-Left-Right gets multiplied across "chin up"; "chin down"; up-lit; down-lit and low-light. If a smartphone can do depth-mapping, the Police will surely be angling to collect such data.

I wouldn't even be surprised if they've been pushing the Home Office to allow them to scrape the Social Media in order to add more "real world" photos to their training data (I'd be even less surprised if they've been doing it anyway on the quiet).

It's calculated Apple leak time: Cheaper iPhone, laptops with proper keyboards, and, oh, a Tile competitor

rg287 Silver badge

Re: Not to pour a dampener...

...but the SE replacement has been one of those rumours that is as enduring as Apple releasing a TV.

Yeah, but the difference is that I've finally updated, and it'd be just my bloody luck if Apple finally release an SE2 6 months after I upgrade.

I've been hanging on for years. Finally bit the bullet in October when my beloved 5S started to physically fall apart and ended up getting an XR when the price dropped after the 11 came out.

You spoke, we didn't listen: Ubiquiti says UniFi routers will beam performance data back to mothership automatically

rg287 Silver badge

Re: "In other words, you ain't got no choice."

EdgeOS on the EdgeMAX/EdgeRouter gear is forked from Vyatta.

The Unifi stuff is OpenWRT.

Alan Turing’s OBE medal, PhD cert, other missing items found in super-fan’s Colorado home by agents, says US govt

rg287 Silver badge

Re: Inventory

Err, because it's a school?

When I moved schools in the early 2000s the library wasn't even properly ordered (this was a great disappointment to me coming to a private senior school from a state middle school which had an excellent little library run by a lady shared amongst the local schools who was very active at acquisitions/discards to keep it full of books kids actually wanted to read. I've still got my Student Librarian badge somewhere</nerd-alert>).

There was a loose split of fiction/non-fiction and I think someone had once tried to implement some sort of categorisation but there was no librarian and so the shelves were not maintained. Most of the books were pre-1990, the atlases, reference books and encyclopaedias were even older. There wasn't a copy of Harry Potter nor LoTR to be found (just the compleat works of Clive Cussler/Dirk Pitt to date! Somebody was obviously a fan). This was only rectified some years later when a new chaplain was appointed. His wife was a properly trained Librarian & Archivist who took stock of the situation and beat up the headmaster to spend some money.

I can imagine a box of former pupil's belongings would have - at best - ended up in a dusty, display cabinet which might have been locked if the whereabouts of the key was known. At worst it would have ended up in a cupboard in the back of the (Deputy-)Head's Office forgotten about. The idea of being properly inventoried? Pah!

The dream of a single European patent may die next month – and everyone is in denial about it

rg287 Silver badge

There's no particular reason that "Europe" has to mean "EU". There are other European organizations, the European Space Agency comes to mind, whose membership extends far beyond the EU.

The European Patent Organisation is exactly the same. It is HQ'd in Munich and is not legally bound by - nor a part of - the EU. As with ESA, EPO members include nations such as Switzerland.

Battistelli aside, a cynic might suggest that the UPC is an attempt to insert a shim into the EPO's neutrality and bring them into the EU bit-by-bit by means of layering in legislation that only applies to EU members and transitioning the EPO's work to EU work, much like the EU doing a MitM on ESA funding and turning ESA projects into "EU Projects delivered by ESA". Galileo springs to mind.

There is no legitimate reason why a European Patent administered by the EPO should not be valid in all EPO member states (provided they all ratify it, etc). The EU doesn't need to come into it other than compelling all EU Members to ratify the EPO standard (not theirs!) so that IP can't be subject to a form of arbitrage where copyright infringement can take place within the single market, which would cause all sorts of issues - i.e. Free Trade and Single Market rules could conflict with EPO signatories blocking imports of an infringing product from another EU but non-EPO nation).

A fine host for a Raspberry Pi: The Register rakes a talon over the NexDock 2

rg287 Silver badge

Re: Why some people keep on reinventing the ill-fated Palm Foleo?

I can see a niche use case for plugging into headless boxen if you're not suitably equipped with a KVM or crash cart with monitor/keyboard. Having a self-contained device with the battery-powered monitor is a nice solution, albeit a bit old-fashioned these days with light-out and remote management. I'm sure there are some field-techs who could find a use for it.

But if you're humping around a laptop-sized device to support a RPi as your daily driver, you'd be just as well off finding a used Thinkpad on ebay. There's some corking ex-business units out there with specs that would wipe the floor with the Pi. It obviously makes sense as a Continuum peripheral. It remains to be seen whether people are keen on turning their phone into their main computing device (beyond browsing/email/messaging where clearly it already is most people's primary device).

We’ve had enough of your beach-blocking shenanigans, California tells stubborn Sun co-founder: Kiss our lawsuit

rg287 Silver badge

In the UK if a public footpath runs through your property you have to make it available at all times to the public and are not allowed to build on it or obstruct it with anything. If you look at a map of Alton Towers there is a public footpath that runs through the back end of that, over near the hotels which goes down to Ina's Rock and Chester Zoo also has a similar public footpath too.

Actually, you can get footpaths redirected, providing that you go through the right paperwork and demonstrate the public interest is not harmed. The back door into Alton Towers has been long since fenced off. You can still walk through the woods up around the back of the hotel but not into the Park itself as you once could (and which local kids took full advantage of).

Farmers putting up "Danger, Bull" signs are of course chancing their arm since it's illegal to put dangerous animals in a field containing a public RoW. They are entitled to post temporary routes if an area has been recently sprayed or sown although the public are of course entitled to tramp straight through it if they're feeling truculent/idiotic. Whilst the Ramblers do work to keep routes open, in general they also respect the business of farming and will go around a field to avoid tramping crops - because it would take a genuine knob to plough through "because they can" if faced with legitimate farming activity. So long as farmers aren't trying to block routes or barb-wire stiles then walkers should take temporary diversions in their stride when there is good reason for doing so.

Chester Zoo of course famously has the path running through its heart, fenced high to prevent illicit entry to the park.

No box shifting, no Buck Rogers. Bezos-backed Blue Origin blasts off once again

rg287 Silver badge

As far as I can see they spend a lot of money and have achieved very little so far

The one place they are enjoying success is with the BE-4 engine which has been selected by Boeing for their new Vulcan rocket. So they have income for engine sales and aren't purely selling launches like SpaceX.

However, it's hard to ignore the fact that BO are burning a billion dollars a year from Bezos (plus anything Boeing are punting their way for BE-4 dev) and have yet to reach orbit.

SpaceX developed Falcon 1, sent it to orbit and then scaled and launched their first Falcon 9 for less than $1Bn. The original version of F9 was a "good enough" effort that got them in at the bottom of the market and was much less performant than the current Block 5.

Presumably BO's theory was they could develop income with their sub-orbital fairground ride, but Musk is crashing launch prices so hard that - as Virgin Galactic are finding - this market is rapidly shrinking. The price difference for NASA to send experiments to actual space (instead of a few minutes of zero-g) is narrowing and anyone with that much money is wondering whether a Bigelow space hotel might actually be within sight.

rg287 Silver badge

I'm not sure your assessment of BO is entirely fair.

They've started out with a small reusable rocket (their only one to date, granted they've built a few to a similar design) and are now jumping straight to the massive New Glenn (which remains a paper rocket). There's no "gradually building up".

I would also contend that "having less funding than SpaceX" is a bit of a misnomer. Bezos pours a $1Bn into BO each year, which mostly goes on R&D. Musk was never able to offer that level of liquidity to SpaceX and when they have enjoyed large contracts from NASA and the DoD those have been launch contracts (with some development funding - tens-to-hundreds of millions. Not billions). BO have also enjoyed some income from Boeing who intend to use the BE-4 engine on their Atlas-replacement Vulcan rocket.

BO have spent 20years trying to design the perfect rocket. SpaceX started out building a "good enough" rocket to capitalise on a global backlog of payloads and have used that commercial income to develop their non-NASA projects (like StarShip).

Since BO are yet to reach orbit, it's hard to define their approach as cheaper. SpaceX made orbit for less than a billion dollars. BO are burning a billion a year and haven't even launched a demonstrator yet.

How much cheese does one person need to grate? Mac Pro pricing unveiled

rg287 Silver badge

Re: Use

Genuine question...other than people with more wonga than sense do these devices have any genuine use?


* If it's not a business expense then you don't need it.

* If you have to ask "do I need it for my business?" then you don't need it.

For the people with heavy-duty 4/8K macOS-based 3D graphics or video-editing workflow, this is what they have been crying out for. Early benchmarks show some configurations will render out 8K faster than realtime. That's basically unheard of (without a £60k Dell) and - for the price-point - reduces a 25minute render job to 4 minutes. For people developing assets in hundred-million-pound projects, time is money - more money than £35k. They're bringing competition to that market sector and not before time.

As for the screen. That £5k screen is competing with reference monitors that can cost £30k. Again, if you have to ask what the point of it is, you're not the target market. Some of the top-end examples aren't even available for sale. Dolby's monitors for HDR mastering are leased.

Christmas in tatters for Nottinghamshire tots after mayor tells them Santa's too busy

rg287 Silver badge

Re: The reason why is the interesting questionm, surely.

This. Someone does it every year and it's hard to imagine that it could be entirely accidental. "Don't mention Santa, don't mention Santa". It's not your job, just come in, flick the switch and say how beautiful everything looks.

It takes a particular type of humourless sad-sack wanker to tell other people's kids that he doesn't exist and:

1. Saddle the parents with a hard evening because of it.

2. Deprive those kids of a valuable opportunity for self-discovery and critical thinking by slowly working out for themselves that their parents and society have been lying to them.

Irish eyes aren't smiling after govt blows €1m on mega-printer too big for parliament's doors

rg287 Silver badge

Re: Centralise! Decentralise!

That sounds like feature creep to me

Potentially. It's one of those things that can be done. For instance, National Air Traffic Services are privatised(ish - UKGov owns a Golden Share). They build and develop a lot of tech in house. They also sell consultancy, design and training services to other countries who are either building out modern ATC for the first time (Africa) or looking to upgrade.

If you can develop the business model and establish as a local specialist/centre of excellence then it can generate revenue and give you a quality internal facility.

On the other hand, buying a printer with the idea "we can sell time on it to local councils" will never go anywhere unless you've brought in some staff who actually know about printing and can run your internal print business (not department, needs treating as a business endeavour) to a standard which can compete on price and quality with private print shops.

Space-wrecks: Elon's prototype Moon ferry Starship blows its top during fuel tank test

rg287 Silver badge

Not entirely unexpected. Mk 1 has been hastily fabbed up and was already entirely obsolete. For instance, it was fabricated from panels of stainless because that's what they could get. The Mk 2 (in Florida) and Mk 3 (in Texas with the Mk1) are fabricated from rings of steel straight off a roll - far fewer welds, far less complex assembly.

In normal SpaceX style they're iterating quickly and finding problems early and fast - compared to the more traditional direction Blue Origin have taken of spending 19years trying to design the perfect rocket before cutting steel.

Might delay the first flight of a Starship prototype (which will now be a Mk2 or Mk3!) but it's unlikely to put much of a hold on the project overall.

Boeing comes clean on parachute borkage as the ISS crew is set to shrink

rg287 Silver badge

Re: Except on paper

It's a fairly key component of it.

And the Hopper platform has allowed (limited) flight testing of the Raptor engine - which is more than can be said of the BE-4 which underpins both of the other "big" new rockets (Blue Origin's New Glenn and Boeing's Vulcan).

SpaceX flings another 60 Starlink satellites into orbit in firm's heaviest payload to date

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Re: 59 out of 60

What's most impressive now is that launches are so cheap it's not worth standing down to check a payload that may have a problem. Apparently cheaper to stick to schedule and go anyway - if it's DOA it'll de-orbit in a month on its own, if it works bonus.

237 UK police force staff punished for misusing IT systems in last 2 years

rg287 Silver badge

Re: we will not be commenting publicly on issues in the run-up to the General Election

Let Me Google That For You

As the article makes clear, it's because of Purdah. It's a well established thing.

Negative findings could reflect poorly on (say) the recent Conservative government despite (say) being attributable to cuts to Policing budgets by a local Labour Council, a Plaid Cymru Police and Crime Commissioner or general incompetence by civil servants/Police leadership. For other elections, chop and change those parties as you prefer.

Or they might indeed be down to BoJo and chums. Main point is that the scum media certainly won't paint a responsibly-nuanced picture, so they don't release it at all until afterwards - preferring you to focus on the manifestos and record-to-date.

Anyway, it's standard. A sports club I was a member of received a SportEngland Grant in the run up to an election. We couldn't publicise it until after the election because it might reflect positively on the incumbents, even though the grant decision is apolitically made by SportEngland (though the pot of money they have to play with is in the gift of DCMS).

rg287 Silver badge

Re: Trust?

Weird civilians who have the right to use potentially lethal violence against other civilians.

Only in the case of imminent threat to life - just like you or I can kill someone if they pose an immediate threat to your life or the life of another.

They're better trained and equipped, but the law of justifiable homicide is broadly similar. Use of lethal force can result in murder charges until they demonstrate that it was necessary and proportionate.

(Except in the US where they will close ranks and protect their own, even when footage shows the use of force to be grossly disproportionate)

rg287 Silver badge

Re: Take yer lazy americanisms and get ter feck!

Ah, well, the Gendarme is subtly different as are the German Federal Police (who are only responsible for the security of railway stations, ports, etc - routine Policing is strictly devolved to States because of the bad history with centralised Policing - namely the Stazi).

In France, the Gendarme are a para-military organisation distinct from the Police Nationale, who are the Police. Much like the Italian Carabinieri and Polizia di Stato.

In those countries you have the Civil Police, then the paramilitary-esque group in the middle, and then the Military.

In the case of a country which only has Police and Military, the Police are (or should be) most assuredly Civilian. Whilst that case naturally calls for a more heavily armed unit within the Police (e.g. SO19/SWAT) to fill that middle ground and support action against terrorism, serious organised crime, etc, the members of those units are nonetheless Police first, just as the SAS are no less soldier-first when they are asked to assist the Police in extreme circumstances (e.g. Iranian Embassy).

rg287 Silver badge

Re: Take yer lazy americanisms and get ter feck!

All Police are civilians. Officers, PSCOs, back-office staffers. All civilians, all members of the public.

Any Officer who describes themselves as anything other should hand in their badge/warrant card at the earliest possible opportunity.

rg287 Silver badge

Re: Take yer lazy americanisms and get ter feck!

Not even then. Unless you're American.

7. To maintain at all times a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and that the public are the police, the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.

If the Police weren't civilians then they'd be military. And they're not that (or shouldn't be, not in any civilised nation).

rg287 Silver badge

Quite right too. The only acceptable use of email in that circumstance is an auto-responder stating:

"I am on annual leave and will be back on <Day/Month/Year>. If the matter is urgent, please contact <name>".

If the company has made no alternative staffing arrangements then <name> is your line manager.

The only people who should be working when on "annual leave" are the self-employed and only at their own discretion (since the concept of annual leave doesn't really exist for contractors/freelancers and those not "employed" in the normal sense).

Obviously this does not apply in the Land of the Free where your Freedom to be worked to death as a corporate wage slave is feverishly protected.

It's a fair point that reporting standards may vary though. Some forces may be more focussed on serious misconduct (illegal access of protected data for personal gain/criminal use, etc) and less concerned about someone using their @police email for personal use (though I never bloody understand that either - drives me up the wall getting personal emails from people @nhs.gov.uk. Why? Just get a free personal account FFS).

rg287 Silver badge

The latter. Undoubtedly.

The Met have >43,000 staff (~31,000 officers). Surrye have ~3600 staff including ~1900 officers.

With 10x as many staff it is not credible to suggest that the Met genuinely have 1/3 as many data-breach incidents as Surrey (18 vs. 50).

One man's mistake, missing backups and complete reboot: The tale of Europe's Galileo satellites going dark

rg287 Silver badge

Re: Who uses it?

It's built into most GNSS chips as standard now. There are over 150 Android smartphones on the market which can receive Galileo (in addition to GPS and GLONASS) and it's been available on the iPhone since the X/8/8Plus were released in 2017.

There's no sticker, it's just baked into the chips by default, same as your handset being quad-band and being able to connect to networks using 2/3/4G in multiple countries, allowing for different regional spectrum allocations.

rg287 Silver badge

Why does the author assume that it was a man?

Because a woman would have read the instruction manual, or stopped and asked for directions when she became unsure - instead of insisting that she knew where she was and "it's just around here somewhere in one of these menus".

rg287 Silver badge

Re: Doesn't inspire confidence....

Hence bits of rockets and space shuttles being moved about the country to where they are needed for assembly.

To be fair, SpaceX also move rockets from the factory in California to their test centre in Texas and eventually to Florida (usually, sometimes California) for launch and recovery (and then back to California for refurb).

Transport in itself is relatively cheap. The problem is when those rockets are being built from bits supplied by 20 major Congress-selected sub-contractors in the appropriate districts, in some cases using components selected by Congress (i.e. SLS being largely cobbled together from old Shuttle components by former Shuttle suppliers). Any change request has to pass a dozen-plus desks. Far slower than wandering across the single design office in Hawthorne to the relevant department, having a chat with the team(s) your change might impact and sorting it out in half an hour over a coffee.

'That roar is terrific... look at that rocket go!' It's been 52 years since first Saturn V left the pad

rg287 Silver badge

Re: Poor filing practice?

Not exactly. The thing is that Saturn V was built by so many subcontractors and suppliers that no unified set of plans really existed. NASA would receive completed assemblies and didn't necessarily have all the designs for them because they only needed to bolt it onto the next assembly, or ensure the electrical interfaces played nicely with its neighbours. And if they did have detailed drawings, they did not have exact manufacturing/production schemes of how those assemblies were fabricated and assembled.

Many parts were hand-crafted. When NASA set some junior engineers the task of reverse-engineering the F1 engine a few years ago they found all sorts of oddities on the unflown engines they pulled out of storage. In one case the injector plate at the bottom of the engine had a mark where the drill had come down in the wrong place. These days the whole plate would be rejected (nothing short of perfect). On this one they just moved the drill to the correct spot and carried on. Lots of undocumented modifications and procedures from the fabricators (hand-welding/machining). The (hand-built) F1 engine itself was being developed and iterated so fast that every one was basically a bit different. As the article notes, Apollo 4 flew with a test article Command Module which had been hacked about to qualify some mods for the production version. There was no locked down "Saturn V" specification.

So some stuff was never documented, much of it was spread out around the contractors, and of the stuff NASA had, some has ended up with museums or archives like the Smithsonian and other bits in NASA archives. And even then one set of drawings may only apply to one particular mission.

UK Home Office: We will register thousands of deactivated firearms with no database

rg287 Silver badge

Re: Why?

No jake, the poster was referring to Skorpions and other Eastern European military surplus automatics like the M-70/AKMs used in the Bataclan Shooting.

Not the more common semi-automatics (which can be bought legally all over Europe subject to having the relevant license - the UK is the only bit of Europe where you can't own pistols or centre-fire semi-autos). The only reason "Eastern Europe" is mentioned specifically is when we're talking about military stock that went missing after the Iron Curtain came down.

rg287 Silver badge

Re: Why?

I don't think there's ever been a buy-back but I think it sounds like a good idea.

Strictly speaking yes there have, but only in respect of licensed firearms when the Government has banned something (1997/1988/2019) because civil forfeiture is not a thing in the UK.

The view on collecting illegal firearms is that you should be glad to be getting rid of a liability in an amnesty rather than collecting a 5-year custodial sentence.

rg287 Silver badge

Re: Why?

Err, no, they are worried about a lot of Eastern block military surplus automatic weapons that were deactivated to older standards and ARE turning up reactivated. Yes anyone who can work a CNC machine can probably make a gun - but starting with half the work done for you makes it so much easier. This is not paranoia, it is in reaction to a Europe wide problem. Perhaps if the Police and Home Office publicised the issue a little better instead of keeping schtum about a possilble route to illegal 'Section 5' firearms acquisition the 'shooting community' would STFU.

If you or your kids live in a metropolitan city then there is the vanishing small, but still real, risk of being caught it a 'drive by' because your local drugs gang think its cool to own reactivated Skorpions. Unfortunately it is probalby extremely difficult to frame a law that makes an overly subtle differentiotion between e.g. Boer war and cold war era weapons.

Yet criminals also find it worth their time manufacturing their own, because the supplies of "weakly deactivated" firearms in the UK have dried up, no legitimate UK dealer or auction house will touch anything that doesn't bear a certificate of deactivation from the London or Birmingham Proof Houses and Border Force will take a dim view on people trying to import such.

It is very sensible to make it inconvenient for criminals to acquire firearms. But once you have reached that point (and we are well past it), it can only be addressed through enforcement.

Even a total ban on private ownership of firearms would not prevent criminals smuggling or manufacturing their own - lathes aren't licensed.

Additionally, whilst there is some concern about "automatics", firearms crime committed with automatic weapons is more or less zero. 50% of all firearms crime is committed with pistols (that ban in 1997 worked then), and a chunk of the rest is with "imitation firearms" and then perennial favourite - the sawn-off shotgun. There are a few notable cases - Ellis/Shakespeare being gunned down with a MAC-10 in 2003, but in most cases it seems the (non-)availability of ammunition to feed a full-auto along with their relative rarity makes them at most a status symbol rather than a practical weapon.

rg287 Silver badge

Re: "no requirement of 'registration' for deactivated firearms"

"Reversing" a UK-spec deactivation is tantamount to building a new firearm from scratch.

Which is why organised gangs have stopped doing that and are just making their own firearms from scratch (Gun factory uncovered in Sussex) - which is easier and more reliable than doing "bespoke" reactivations of whatever becomes available on the deact/collectors market, and leaves no paper trail back to the white market. Or just smuggling them in from Eastern Europe (60 guns found in car at Dover).

Any metalwork teacher worth their salt could churn out sensible quantities of handguns on a small lathe or mill. This isn't magic knowledge. It's not hard once you've sorted out a pattern.

Beardy biologist's withering takedown of creationism fetches $564,500 at auction

rg287 Silver badge


It is understood that the series about the magical adventures of a tween occultist is quite popular, spawning several Hollywood adaptations.

There's nothing Hollywood about the adaptations - not since the (rapidly-snubbed) American proposals involved turning the setting into a US-style High School with cheerleaders and magical sparkling pom-poms...

Proudly made in Britain (Leavesden) using finest British creative and technical talent and not a little bit of top-grade boffinry. Whilst the studio tour may be a nerd-fest for fans, it includes some props and set items which are often assumed to be CGI but in fact were achieved as cunning practical effects, very refreshing in today's world of virtual sets and digital-everything and interesting for those of a technical disposition whilst the kids are gorging on Potter-everything.

Socket to the energy bill: 5-bed home with stupid number of power outlets leaves us asking... why?

rg287 Silver badge

Re: Forget the risk of fire spreading through the holes in the wall

Looking at the rightmove, it looks a "newer" house. Most likely plasterboard over timber framing or plasterboard on batens offset from the brick wall for speed of installation leaving a cavity behind for the wires.



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