* Posts by Persona

471 posts • joined 6 Jul 2018


To CAPTCHA or not to CAPTCHA? Gartner analyst says OK — but don’t be robotic about it

Persona Silver badge

Re: Complex CAPTCHA

It's the ambiguity of that top left square that really irritates me.

BOFH: When the Sun rises in the West and sets in the East, only then will the UPS cease to supply uninterrupted voltage

Persona Silver badge

Re: Reminds me...

If an enemy sniper see's someone armed with a small pistol instead of a rifle they become the target.

Funny how Sir Tim Berners-Lee, famous for hyperlinks, is into NFTs, glorified hyperlinks

Persona Silver badge

Re: Nothing Fecking There

Yep. NFT's prove ownership but only in the context of the particular blockchain backed NFT system used to register them. Nothing stops you or anyone else from creating other "ownerships" of the same asset in other NFT schemes.

Mark it in your diaries: 14 October 2025 is the end of Windows 10

Persona Silver badge

Re: Windows 10 is the last version of Windows,

So, whatever comes next, it will not be called Windows

On the contrary, I expect it will be called just "Windows" as the "10" version is now irrelevant what with it being delivered as a constantly evolving service. Folding both "Windows 10 Home" and "Windows 10 Pro" into "Windows" makes sense as there is no point in maintaining them as two different flavors.

The AN0M fake secure chat app may have been too clever for its own good

Persona Silver badge

Re: One Time Pads.

One time pads can have an amusing failure mode.


Orbex is creeping towards orbit from a UK launchpad, but first there are courts, birds, and billionaires to overcome

Persona Silver badge

Commercially challenging

It would be nice to see them launch, but their chosen market segment has a lot of small launch contenders fighting for it and the market isn't very elastic.

Ireland warned it could face 'rolling blackouts' if it doesn't address data centres' demand for electricity

Persona Silver badge

Re: Lucky Ireland

Oh yes gas is our main source for electricity generation. Coal only gets used when gas is not enough. Look at to gridwatch.co.uk. It uses the same underlying data source but I find the presentation clearer, though templar is the site to go to to download the data.

This month coal usage is indeed zero, because its warm and demand is low, but look at last month. We were burning coal lots of times because it was cold and the wind was poor. The pattern was often morning and evening when the demand was still high and the solar power was low too at the edges of daylight. If you download from templar you will see the last coal use was on 28th May @20:40

It's also worth comparing the month and year charts. The energy intermittency gets somewhat hidden by squishing the horizontal scale.

Also note from the yearly charts that Solar power is really good in the UK summer, but really bad in the winter when the sun is low in the sky, the days are short and unfortunately demand for power is highest.

Persona Silver badge

Re: Lucky Ireland

The UK has 10,961 wind turbines with a total installed capacity of over 24.1 gigawatts. Yet last month they averaged 3.83GW and 5.89GW for the year to date. We were generating with coal most mornings and some early evenings too because the weather was cold and the wind so poor. The UK public is overwhelmingly in favor of wind power and almost totally ignorant of the fact that it's output can drop to very low levels for extended periods, and frequently has spells where the power its generating is close to insignificant e.g. at one point last week it dropped to 275MW i.e. 1.14% of its nameplate capacity.

We don't know why it's there, we don't know what it does – all we know is that the button makes everything OK again

Persona Silver badge

Re: The knob......

Once you get a Building Management System involved all bets are off. In one new and not completely finished building I was working in the heating valves were wired up the opposite way around from what had been configured in the BMS. My part of the office was very cold all winter. The heating never turned on. Then spring came things got warm and a setpoint was passed. So the BMS commanded the valves it "thought" were open and suddenly with the heating at full blast on that hot spring day it got very hot indeed. All fixed by lunchtime with a quick config change to the BMS.

Student Loans Company splashes out on 20,000 cybersecurity training courses – for just 3,300 employees

Persona Silver badge

Doing what?

Sending my son letters saying he has £0.01 outstanding despite they have DDR in place and are charging him £246 a month.

Photographer seeks $12m in copyright damages over claims Capcom ripped off her snaps in Resident Evil 4 art

Persona Silver badge

Don't start with the stained glass and door knockers. The defence team will point out that there are thousands of photos of them floating around and even produce new identical ones they took earlier this year.

How many remote controls do you really need? Answer: about a bowl-ful

Persona Silver badge

Re: You have my sympathies...

But you can select individual 'devices' and control them alone, and independently of everything else

You can, but it's quite hard as everyone using the setup needs to know all the steps. The nice thing about the Harmony was that the "action" would encompass all of those steps. Unfortunately there are plenty of devices that don't play by the rules and rely on a signal to toggle them between their on or off state or select inputs by stepping through a list. Actions work much better with a nice clean interface of one signal for on and another for off and one signal for each input. Without that the Harmony needs to remember the state of everything, which it does or at least tries to. If fails when people walk in front of TV blocking the signal or the operator touches the button then stuffs the remote under a cushion while it is still sending commands to all of the devices. So it gets out of sync and a painful "help" dialog is needed to restore order. The Harmony always worked for me but my wife had problems every time and wanted rid of it. Now we have a pile of remotes and she often forgets which to use.

FYI: Today's computer chips are so advanced, they are more 'mercurial' than precise – and here's the proof

Persona Silver badge

Networks can misbehave too

I've seen it happen to network traffic too. With data being sent on a network going half way around the world occasionally a few bits got changed. The deep analysis showed that interference was hitting part of the route and the network error detection was doing its job, detecting it and getting it resent. Very very very rarely the interference corrupted enough bits to pass the network level error check.

Wyoming powers ahead with Bill Gates-backed sodium-cooled nuclear generation plant

Persona Silver badge

Re: Go for it

Perhaps they should call it (HALEU) High Assay, Low Enriched Uranium i.e. more enriched than commercial reactors but below bomb grade uranium. That's what it uses. The sodium is there for cooling and energy storage which is a good feature as it allows for better load following.

There is a lot spin being applied to make it all sound soft, friendly and "natural". Natrium is German for Sodium. None of the press releases seem to mention uranium.

UK Special Forces soldiers' personal data was floating around WhatsApp in a leaked Army spreadsheet

Persona Silver badge

Plus side?

Handy for anyone wanting to build a good mercenary army.

Space junk damages International Space Station's robot arm

Persona Silver badge

Re: It’s the SDoS!

yet another of Musk’s brain-dead-children— it’s going to be a few years before space is unreachable and millennia before it’s reachable again

Musk's Starlink constellation is in a low earth orbit where there's a lot atmospheric drag. Those satellites generally start off at an altitude where but for their onboard ion thrusters pushing them to a higher orbit the drag would bring them down in as little as 30 days. In their higher operational orbit they would come down in a couple of years left to their own devices but with the thrusters they will last for 5 years or so before being deorbited.

They won't be in orbit for millennia. If you stopped launching them they would all be gone by 2030 and probably much much sooner.

Hard cheese: Stilton snap shared via EncroChat leads to drug dealer's downfall

Persona Silver badge

Errrm .... as I understand it they police did gain access to the encrypted system content. There they found evidence of criminal activity and this picture that was the evidential link between the criminal activity and the person using the account.

China announces ‘crackdown’ on Bitcoin mining and trading

Persona Silver badge

Re: Ponzi

The exchange is not the source of the bitcoin. People who want to buy bitcoin and people who want to sell meet at the exchange. One pays cash and buys bitcoin and the other sells bitcoin and gets cash. The exchange takes a cut of the cash for its service. If more want to buy than sell there is a shortage and the price goes up to incentivize sellers and dissuade buyers. If however more want to sell the price goes the other way. As there is no physical asset driving the valuation it comes down purely to the buyers and sellers sentiment.

As such it is in the interest of anyone who holds or mines bitcoins to hype them to create the demand that holds the price up. If no one wants to buy the value would fall to zero so big holders will buy the small amounts needed to keep the price up. This also give people the impression that as long as they hold the price will go back up so they don't sell and the upward price is maintained. What the big holders won't do is buy up everything if the market is crashing. They intend to be out of the market sitting on a big pile of real cash before that happens.

Boffins improve on tech that extracts DC power from ambient Wi-Fi

Persona Silver badge

Re: Proof of concept

Yes smoke detectors should be ok. They can beep irritatingly if they aren't getting sufficient power.

I would also think about using it for smart light switches. Currently these need a little battery which is a pain to replace though some are piezo electric powered. The Kinetic ones employ a clever little magnet and coil solution to generate their working power. Using WiFi power should be an improvement on all three of these methods in the domestic situations where they are used.

The Microsoft Authenticator extension in the Chrome store wasn't actually made by Microsoft. Oops, Google

Persona Silver badge

Re: "Google declined to comment [,,] about how this add-on slipped through the net"

Next week no one will remember this.

This week only one person in 1,000 in the developed word will have learnt about this.

Ransomware victim Colonial Pipeline paid $5m to get oil pumping again, restored from backups anyway – report

Persona Silver badge

Re: There's money in

If their business was effectively shut down and the ransom was $1 to recover it they would have been certifiably insane not to pay it. Given that paying the ransom makes sense at that price point we are just arguing about the price. $5 million was just loose change to the oil company.

Tesla Autopilot is a lot dumber than CEO Musk claims, says Cali DMV after speaking to the software's boss

Persona Silver badge

Re: Is the market voting with its feet?

I've had three people drive into me in the last 35 years. I was stationary all three times. Had their cars automatic braking or perhaps just reversing camera and parking sensors for the last two, they would not have hit me as they would have had an eye on the road. Car safety automation reduces the cost of accidents. The actuarial evidence shows this is true because insurance premiums are less when those system are fitted.

Persona Silver badge

UK driving test

I wonder if one could pass a UK driving test? If it could does that mean that the driving test should be made harder until it couldn't pass?

Persona Silver badge

Re: Fully Automatic my arse!

They sold about half a million world wide last year. Apparently the Tesla model 3 was the UK's best selling car in December (why?) so you do see them pretty much everywhere.

Spent Chinese rocket stage set to make an uncontrolled return to Earth

Persona Silver badge

Not uncommon

To put it in context the Falcon 9 second stage is 3.66m diameter, 12.5km long and weighs about 4 tons, so the Chinese booster is a lot bigger but not massively so. While most are controlled a lot of Falcon 9 second stages have come down unguided and it's very likely that some bits (pressure vessels and engine core etc.) hit the ground or much more probably the sea. I don't believe any F9 S2 debris has ever been reported.

Philanthropist and ex-Microsoft manager Melinda Gates and her husband Bill split after 27 years of marriage

Persona Silver badge

I believe he has donated $45 billion. That's considerably more than 0.01% of his fortune.

Googler demolishes one of Apple's monopoly defenses – that web apps are just as good as native iOS software

Persona Silver badge

Most apps are dire

So many attempts to shoehorn the functionality of a desktop browser based web page into the small footprint of a mobile site are hideously dysfunctional. My normal experience when using a complex web site on the phone involves rotating the phone between landscape and portrait in an effort to "reveal" the features I know are there from having used the site from the desktop. The next step is often to tell my phone browser to use desktop mode then reverting to mobile mode to get rid of the unwanted crap that then obscures half the page. Most apps seem to be no better. Most are useless junk. Of the remainder, relatively few allow you to rotate to landscape mode when that would make the information more readable, and most seem to miss out important bits of functionality. One great example of this is a banking app that allows me to set up future payments yet does not give the ability to see what post dated payments are pending forcing me to use a desktop web page to confirm I have remembered to set them up.

Capgemini scores £150m contract to help Student Loan Company overcome its IT problems 5 years after £50m superfail

Persona Silver badge

Re: Realism

if the government want a highly educated workforce then shouldn't they be funding the education system"

The government doesn't fund it: the tax payer does. So you as a tax payer either pay extra income tax so some random student can do a surf science degree or you can pay that same "tax" to pay back your student loan for doing some useful technical degree. Alternatively you can decide that a degree won't help you get a better paid job and hence not pay for yours or that surf science students degree.

Persona Silver badge

Re: Realism

don't ever let anyone get anything free of charge

Well someone has to pay for it, so why not at least try to get the person who has benefited be the one who is taxed extra to pay for it. Student loans are quite like an extra band of income tax, though plenty of "students" never earn enough to have to pay it back.

Starlink creates risk of internet investment doom cycle, says APNIC researcher

Persona Silver badge

Those with slightly-worse options who sign for Starlink may therefore starve more deserving customers.

Exactly the same could be said with other internet connections. The phone networks solve it by selling you a connection with a data cap and the broadband companies solve it with a bandwidth limit. Starlink will probably stay with the bandwidth limit but could do data cap too. More customers brings more revenue which means more satellites slightly closer together and hence more bandwidth. The relatively few ground stations are the easy parts of the system to upgrade.

Seeing a robot dog tagging along with NYPD officers after an arrest stuns New Yorkers

Persona Silver badge


A robot dog is likely to calm the situation. People will look at it and forget for a bit why they were knocking chunks out of each other.

What's this about a muon experiment potentially upending Standard Model of physics? We speak to one of the scientists involved

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Re: wonderful

Better be cautions and not experiment with more than a teaspoon full of this stuff.

Good old E. E. "Doc" Smith.

UK's National Cyber Security Centre recommends password generation idea suggested by El Reg commenter

Persona Silver badge

Almost pointless

It doesn't really help. Instead of having to remember a password for each of the 100 id's instead you need to remember 3 words for each. Alternatively you can as suggested just remember the location and look it up if needed, but who can remember dozens of "random" locations and tie each one to a particular site/id.

Not only doesn't it help. It doesn't even work as most sites will insist on password complexity so you need to add digits etc.

I've even come across one site that applied "complexity" rules to the memorable answers (normally crappy low entropy passwords). This site wanted me to give the middle name of my oldest sibling, but would only accept answers of seven or more characters including at least one digit. My parent were quite remiss in this respect as they only gave her a 3 letter name and no numbers!

Belgian police seize 28 tons of cocaine after 'cracking' Sky ECC's chat app encryption

Persona Silver badge

Re: Cocaine

Way too much for personal use. With that sort of tonnage they really should be using the wholesale price and not the retail one.

While truly self-driving cars are surely just around the corner, for now here's an AI early-warning system for your semi-autonomous ride

Persona Silver badge

Re: And the purpose of self-driving cars is..?

My father drove till he was 86. He was partially sighted. My mother would tell him about hazards in the road. As he was very deaf in his left ear this was not terribly usefull, doubly so as although her eyesight was much better than his she still had cateracts in both eyes.

There is a solid use case for self driving cars.

Boldly going where Elon Musk will probably go before: NASA successfully tests SLS Moon rocket core stage

Persona Silver badge

Re: What about the fire?

Nasa's real challenge is to make the coal fired 2nd stage work

I can't quite work out how deep that joke it. For the benefit of those who don't know both the first and second stages use hydrogen for their propellant and oxygen for the the oxidiser. The main source of hydrogen is from steam reforming of natural gas ...... but some is make from coal. Most oxygen supplies come from the cryogenic distillation of air. This normally uses electricity and in the US 30% of electrical power from from coal so the Pennsylvania representative should be voting for it.

Millimetre-sized masses: Physics boffins measure smallest known gravitational field (so far)

Persona Silver badge

General relativity

According to a fairly popular theory, gravity is not as a force but a consequence of masses moving in a curved spacetime.

Starlink's latent China crisis could spark a whole new world of warcraft

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Hot air

It's not an issue. The Starlink Dishy McFlatface terminals by necessity are location aware. Any traffic to or from terminals in China will be required to be routed via gateway ground stations in China. It's inconceivable that the Chinese government would not ask for this as a condition of service. Starlink would jump to accept that condition. Operating in every geography is key to Starlink profitability as they can only make money when overhead an area where there are paying customers. If there aren't customers below a satellite its bandwidth is unused.

OK, Google: Unshackled from Windows, Edge team is free to follow where Chromium leads

Persona Silver badge

Re: Non-chromiumy ...

I think the days of browsers that actually work fairly well are gone. Many web sites are heavily customized for desktop or mobile "experiences" to the extent that important content is missing on the mobile version and the desktop version that has the content ,renders very badly on a small screen even when that small screen has better resolution than the desktop screen. You can also get essential content missed out when a screen is swapped from landscape to portrait. There was a day when the browser you were using just affected the presentation of the content and never the content itself.

Four women, including TV star, thought they were investing in a software business. It was a scam. Now the perp's going to jail

Persona Silver badge

Re: Idiots

Perhaps, but that's still one up on John McAfee who is currently incarcerated in Spain, pending extradition to the United States.

Talk about a Blue Monday: OVH outlines recovery plan as French data centres smoulder

Persona Silver badge

People have short memories when you let them down.

On the contrary, people can have very long memories when you let them down.

Microsoft quantum lab retracts published paper: Readings that cast doubt on crucial discovery went AWOL

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Re: What I don't understand

You don't need to massage the results, all you need to do is make a mistake. A not terribly bright acquaintance of mine had completed a PhD and was demonstrating his findings to peers. A smart friend of mine looked at his experimental setup and pointed out that what he had actually done for the last couple of years was measure the input characteristics of his test equipment hence his findings were bogus. He changed the inputs to another range and the results were completely different.

Google's ex-boss tells the US it's time to take the gloves off on autonomous weapons

Persona Silver badge

Re: Why build those, too? We do need a way to effectively kill them...

It's easier to use low tech high explosives to make an enemy soldier disappear than is is to use hypothetical sensor-deceiving weapons to make one of your own soldiers disappear. James Bonds invisible car can't really hide the car from multiple eyepoints.

The 40-Year-Old Version: ZX81's sleek plastic case shows no sign of middle-aged spread

Persona Silver badge

ZX81 =ZX80 + more profit

When the ZX80 came out the electronics company where I worked acquired one to evaluate. We also got a circuit diagram by undisclosed means. It was an engineering marvel that we poured over for some time. They had performed amazing tricks to get the part count down. I recall being surprised to see the memory bus lines going to the keyboard. Soon we realized they were using the upper memory address lines to scan the keyboard. The software driving this must have been bizarre.

With the ZX81 our analysis was quick as from a hardware circuit perspective they had just rolled up the relatively few discrete logic ships into one which would have made it all that bit cheaper so more profitable.

Copper broadband phaseout will leave UK customers with higher bills and less choice, says comparison site

Persona Silver badge

Re: Choices

Choice is the problem.

I moved to FTTP a few years back and still the only providers available to me are BT and Xen. When I enquire through their websites the other providers (Plusnet, TalkTalk etc.) all say "Unlimited Fibre isn't available in your area yet, but if you take out Unlimited Broadband you'll be able to upgrade when it is" and offer me a 3.5-6 Mbps connection. BT can give me 500Mbps.

Australian government fights Facebook news ban by threatening 0.01% of Zuck's ad revenue

Persona Silver badge

Re: Just goes to show how out of touch our politicians are

we just won't show rich snippets around links to those orgs

Without the rich snippets the news sites are even more likely to resort to clickbait headlines. Perhaps that's it: a rich snippet is enough to stop the reader deciding not to bother following the bait so the new sites are not getting the click throughs they desire.

Persona Silver badge

Re: Just goes to show how out of touch our politicians are

Ultimately though, the bread and butter of it is that FB are profiting (directly or otherwise) from displaying locally generated news content, at the cost of depriving the sources of that content of revenue

The local news sources are profiting more as the links from Facebook are bringing customers who would otherwise not bother ever visiting their news site. If the customers valued the news site they would go there directly without Facebook giving them a helping hand. There is a case for Facebook to be charging the news site a referral fee .............

With computer brains in short supply, President Biden orders 100-day probe into semiconductor drought

Persona Silver badge

Re: Vague because... it's a news article not a judicial review

I have a car that's a couple of years old with an infotainment system that includes a 16nm Nvida Terga X2 processor fabbed by TMSC. Apparently its got a smaller Tegra X1 on 20nm too.

IT contractor caught charging Uncle Sam expert rates for newbies, agrees to pay back $6m in settlement

Persona Silver badge

It is as you say Standard Industry Practice. I remember Anderson doing just this 25 years ago. They got in the door with a handful of good people, specified up a project and pulled in dozens of clueless newbie colleagues charged at the same eye watering rate. The good team would then move on to fleece the next client leaving the dregs or Androids as we called them behind.

The perils of non-disclosure? China 'cloned and used' NSA zero-day exploit for years before it was made public

Persona Silver badge

Re: Stealing?

If the Chinese Navy stole a US submarine, then the US Navy could no longer use it and they would be upset.

The analogy here is more finding a US Submarine in the Yongding River and confiscating it on its way to Beijing. The US Navy would still be upset and the US people outraged especially when Chinese copies of the submarine were found in US costal waters.



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