* Posts by Rattus

23 posts • joined 11 Jun 2018

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


Wastful - but unfortunaltly not uncommon

Having a chemical test get interpreted by electronics using an optical sensor is not uncommon. A well calibrated system is considerably more deterministic than even the best trained human using a Mk I eyeball. So I am not in the slightest bit upset about using electronics to 'read' a chemical test strip (regardless of how easy it would be to do so)

What is annoying is that the electronics are single use.

Surly we can come up with a similar device with replaceable strips?

Looking at the PCB (as an electronics engineer by trade) it looks like the only thing preventing that from happening is that the mechanical design would need changing to allow strips to be replaced. Other than the fact you are going to pee on it, a simple slot on the end would be enough. Realistically this would need a transparent plastic over the optics (LEDs and LDTs by the look of things), I doubt that this would cost much more than a single additional plastic part, enabling the electronics to remain sealed against moisture ingress whilst still providing no external light path to the sensor area. The battery is probably good for several months without improving the electronics, so really there is nothing much else to do.

Indeed I suspect that the original engineering would have been this sort of design.

The real problem is that if you sell 1 reusable 'reader' and a set of test strips you don't make the same amount of profit, no matter where you sit in the supply chain...

Snowden was right: US court deems NSA bulk phone-call snooping illegal, possibly unconstitutional, and probably pointless anyway


Re: Great, so NSA slurping back in Snowden's day was illegal

yes, obviously

Sun welcomes vampire dating website company: Arrgh! No! It burns! It buuurrrrnsss!


Appropriate attire?

Ever turned up for a meeting in garb some might consider wildly inappropriate?

Not quite.

Back in the 1990's I worked for a, now defunct, IVR telephone bureau as their tech-lead. I used to design services for telephone respondents to advertising campaigns etc. I was good at my job. After a while the MD began to drag me into the high level sales meetings to explain to $customer executives what it was we did and how it could make them more money. More and more often I would be taken along to the customer site for both team and board level meetings. This went on for perhaps a year before the MD, rather sheepishly, took me to one side and pointed out that my shorts, t-shirt and long hair were perhaps not conducive to a 'board room' environment, and would I consider a suit and hair cut.

Being both young and foolish I agreed, especially as it came with a 15% pay rise.

2 months later I was summoned in to see the MD once again. He started by thanking me for complying with the new dress code, poured me a drink and then apologised. We had failed to close a single deal since I had put on a suit. Turns out that the customers were very happy to have a geek who could largely speak their language come and talk to them - they trusted what I was saying and accepted my projected time scales, as soon as a put on a suit they assumed I was just another sales 'droid and doubled or tripled any price or time scale I mentioned.

Appearances mean a lot in business - when being honest don't where a suit :-)

What are you gonna do? Give me detention? Illinois schools ban pyjamas in online classes


and how would they know...

All the kids at my daughter's school have been using overlaid graphics in their online lessons - dragon scales & cat heads, guess they could still be 'dressed' in a school uniform

VMware to stop describing hardware as ‘male’ and ‘female’ in new terminology guide


Re: This PC subversion only idiotically makes things harder and more confusing for competent people


well said

To everyone else, please stop and think for a moment.

I recognise that there is a lot of humour and mickey take going on in here, but please consider how what you say may affect others before you say it.

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Whilst I wouldn't have have called for a lot of the changes being called for / made, it really doesn't hurt me to change the terminology that I use to make it less offensive to others. If by making these small changes we can make the whole industry even a little bit more inclusive and less hurtful that can only be a good thing.

From time to time I will make errors in naming, and whilst any offence will be unintentional I would hope that someone will point out my error so that I am able to correct it. As the FLOSS community says "patches welcome" :-)


Incredible artifact – or vital component after civilization ends? Rare Nazi Enigma M4 box sells for £350,000



As I understand it Enigma was never cracked.

Instead The Bombes were just an automated brute force attack. Reading the messages of the day required that the brute force attack completed before the key of the day was changed.

Don't get me wrong this was an amazing achievement.

Couple with a good understanding of the cypher meant that the possible permutations of cyphertext were magnitudes less than originally believed.

This meant that an brute force approach became feasible, but if I understand correctly this was still too slow.

It was only when a crib was introduced (trying likely message content) that brute forcing the key became a realistic proposition - much like a dictionary attach on today's passwords; the squishy meat-bags are the weakest link.


As to does an enigma machine have worth toady?

Yes; providing it is part of a wider story. If it is just an item with no relationship to other items in a collection then no. much the same as any artefact.

Pandemic proves just the tonic for PC sales as shipments shoot upwards


Re: I have to say...

great post right up to the last sentence....

"Does the person at the reception desk really need the 32GB Threadripper box" would have been better...

You can get a mechanical keyboard for £45. But should you? We pulled an Aukey KM-G6 out of the bargain bin


Secondery reson for a good solid keyboard

As already pointed out by the vast majority of positive responses to a good, precise keyboard these are something that once you have you will never go back (pretty much the same for a decent mouse as well - spot the embedded engineer - I need to type AND I need to pointy clicky).

However there is a secondary function of a good keyboard - it should be heavy enough and solid enough to bludgeon 'collogues' about the head without breaking, it should be robust enough to place in the autoclave to sterilise afterwords....

... Just saying :-)

Prank warning: You do know your smart speaker's paired with Spotify over the internet, don't you?

Big Brother

Re: Cloudy days ... and a new business opportunity

why Russia?

Just look at the logs of those sheepeople using a ring doorbell or other cloud based home automation widget

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Re: Until some vendor takes security seriously...

Just because an IoT device might run Linux it doesn't mean it is secure (or can be secured).

o Where in Linux is the ability to unpair a spotify account?

o Where does Linux stop a web app from providing sending text passwords?

o Where does Linux prevent an application from having hard coded back door passwords

o Where does Linux prevent idiocy?



No backdoor, no backdoor... you're a backdoor! Huawei won't spy for China or anyone else, exec tells MPs


I would love to recommend that we should buy a British designed, made, supported product, and one with proof that the government has no backdoor access (or access of any kind), or cosy relationship (or covert relationship)....

Please supply vendor details :-)

Hi! It looks like you're working on a marketing strategy for a product nowhere near release! Would you like help?


Re: Cost centers

"I've wondered how businesses can hire someone with no real work experience to lead complex efforts. I know the prevailing wisdom is that a manager can manage anything, but I have my doubts."

If you are incompetent the last thing you do is hire someone who might be good at management - Clearly you only employ someone who has done the same MBA as you have, therefore hiding your incompetence behind a wall of equally incompetent management below you, and thus an old boys network is formed....

Hapless engineers leave UK cable landing station gate open, couple of journos waltz right in


Do we need that security?

"Physical security is increasingly overlooked in British national cybersecurity considerations."

If it is that important then perhaps national security shouldn't be left to companies who are motivated by profit and not protecting the national intrest (after all they can happily provide a sevice to whoever is in charge and pays the bills).

If we as a nation want this level of security perhaps we should nationalise the critical infrastructure?

Dear Britain's mast-fearing Nimbys: Do you want your phone to work or not?


I love the way that they are complaining that 95% coverage covers areas where people are not. How about just coverage where people are first?

I live between Cambridge and Ely in a village, the population at the 2011 Census was 6095 so clearly there are people here. Outdoor phone coverage is possible (-101 dBm according to my phone roughly "1 bar"). I am not complaining that we are hard done to here, this is a problem in most villages in the area (I suscpect this is true for the whole of the UK but can only confirm where I have traveled).

When you do have signal expect it to be "Emergancy calls only" because the cell site is massivly contended

Quite simply someone needs to get their priorities streight. Perhaps an independant signal strength monitoring (and capacity checking) is in order.... I am reminded of a story not long ago about someone doing just this in the US...

Dratted hipster UX designers stole my corporate app


There are far to many people who call themselves designers who are not.

A good designer is an esentail part of the product development team

One example of a good designer is Molly...

Take a look at her talk at FOSDEM from a couple of weeks back.

She gets it...


'Pure technical contributions aren’t enough'.... Intel commits to code of conduct for open-source projects


Re: what.

Likewise those with interpersonal skills are capable of learning technical skills but fail to do so...

Occasionally I would like a manager or a HR droid to actually understand what it is we are talking about and perhaps, just maybe, they should take some time to understand us rather than just complaining that engineers are blunt, and unthinking. NO we just don't lie to you when we tell you something that is inconvenient to your sensibilities

Apple to dump Intel CPUs from Macs for Arm – yup, the rumor that just won't die is back


Re: Rosetta-a-like is absolutely necessary

"If none of your existing applications will work, why would you buy the new Mac?"


This is apple we are talking about here. If Apple tell the Fanboz (and Girlz) to buy new software AND buy new hardware they will (and be happy to pay a premium for the plasure of it!)

Remember that lost memory stick from Heathrow Airport? The terrorist's wet dream? So does the ICO


Re: Yes, but... re hal drones

drones aren't alowed anywhere near airports....

Brits pay £490m extra for mobes they already own – Citizens Advice


How does this differ from any Product as a service?

The mobile phone industry pretty much from the beginning (of consumer phones at least) bundled in the phone with the contract, its only in the last generation of phones or so that most people haven't been desperate to replace the handset with something better^w^w^w^w shiny? Why is that? Could it be because mobile phone handsets are now a mature product - able to do what most people need and want them to do? In the last decade mobile phone operators have started to offer SIM only deals, where as the trend in most other industries is to try and run product as a service:

We don't buy cars any more - we lease them

We don't buy a bike - we rent them by the hour

We don't buy music any more - spotyify and friends

We don't buy software any more - we rent it as a service

We don't buy servers any more - we rent space in the cloud

Sure CAB are right to point out that purchasing a phone and airtime separately can be more cost effective, but if people are too damn lazey to work out the costs for themselves...

One last thought though, if we could all work out the true Total Cost Of <foo> and put a real value on non-tangibles would we be outsourcing everything?

Sysadmin shut down server, it went ‘Clunk!’ but the app kept running


FIXED: Halted machine on other side of the planet

Fingers are often faster thn synapses:-)

The solution?


Taken from packages.debian.org:

The package installs a shell script that overrides the existing shutdown/reboot/halt/poweroff/coldreboot/pm-hibernate/pm-suspend* commands and first runs a set of scripts, which all have to exit successfully, before molly-guard invokes the real command.

One of the scripts checks for existing SSH sessions. If any of the four commands are called interactively over an SSH session, the shell script prompts you to enter the name of the host you wish to shut down. This should adequately prevent you from accidental shutdowns and reboots.

molly-guard diverts the real binaries to /lib/molly-guard/. You can bypass molly-guard by running those binaries directly.

Bad news, mobile operators: Unlicensed IoT tech rocketing ahead of NB-IoT and LTE-M – report


co-habiting on free to use spectrum suffers from exactly the same problem of contention for bandwidth as the paid telco offerings; with only 1 difference - the paid telcos are, well paid...


"private LPWA networks....accounted for 93 per cent of connections in 2017"

Not really surprising is it?

There are an awful lot of IoT nodes out there that only connect when they are in range of a 'gateway' node. And many more that 'mesh' together to aggregate through telco network using LTE, but just as likely to use a fixed line back haul.

Sure smart metering will deploy huge numbers of devices, but it is only one (or 2) per premiss (and if you have 2 meters the chances are they will share the back haul)

Anyone with half a whit will recognise that proportionately there will always be vastly more IoT devices than IoT devices utilising public mobile networks though an onboard LTE modem.

The telcos recognise this; however a 7% slice of the pie that is as big as and growing as fast as that of the , admittedly over hyped, IoT market is still serious £$€ (delete as applicable)



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