* Posts by Caver_Dave

341 posts • joined 11 Jul 2018


UK politico proposes site for prototype nuclear fusion plant


Great Britain

Britain became great as it lead the world in creating and using technology and power.

Britain started the First Industrial Revolution : Mechanisation & Steam engines

Britain was a leader in the Second Industrial Revolution : Steel, chemical synthesis, television, telephone, telegraph & Internal combustion engines

Britain was a leader in the Third Industrial Revolution : Electronics, computers, Internet & Nuclear power

Britain could be a leader in the Fourth Industrial Revolution : Automation, virtualisation & Fusion power

In each one see that the last item was an advancement in energy production. There are brilliant minds in GB despite the brain-drain abroad, they just need the right focus and more importantly funding. But, given the vast costs of advances these days, they should be ready to commercialise, but not stop their collaboration with the existing projects.

Waxworm's spit shows promise in puncturing plastic pollution


Re: It's almost a certainly

"That's odd!" is to route to much of the worlds scientific discoveries.

Fixing an upside-down USB plug: A case of supporting the insupportable


Re: Supporting the Unsupportable?

I will add to Jake's comment "and don't go into politics as there will be no glass ceiling for you!"

Consolidation looms for UK broadband providers



The small companies put in the hard effort to roll-out the fibre network in often difficult situations, when the big boys don't want to.

I worked in my evenings with an independent supplier for 2 years to get enough people signed up to invest in FTTP into our local villages after BT refused, (even with the offer of BDUK funding.) It was worth it though as we could work during Covid, rather than have to struggle on the less than 1M we had before.

Now the hard work and investment is done, the money people want to move in and milk the cow dry.

Darth Vader voice actor James Earl Jones allows AI to take over the role


Re: Creating False Evidence

I think that it will work the other way as a smart Lawyer will discredit tape recordings as a 'golden sample' of evidence due to these 'deep fakes', and then recordings will be disbelieved as much as other (allegedly) planted material.

Datacenter migration plan missed one vital detail: The leaky roof


Sh1t Planning

Worked at a server room, that was an add-on to the side of a building. It was actually pretty good - dry, cool and spacious.

The only problem is the fan noise was not quite loud enough to hide the sound from the main toilet downpipe, and especially from solids hitting the bend in the pipe near the floor. This was also the rodding point, so I image there was an interesting time it they had to clear a blockage.

Tesla Megapack battery ignites at substation after less than 6 months


Re: Look to Dinorwig

If the UK converted golf courses back to agricultural land then we have plenty of land to feed ourselves with native, seasonal fruit and veg. However, consumers want Avacado's, Fava Beans and whatever, all year round, even when they don't natively grow in the country. Thus we have vast imports of food from all over the world.

In Rust We Trust: Microsoft Azure CTO shuns C and C++



Having the word unsafe in source code would have the certification authorities jumping up and down immediately!

Sticking to C for anything 'unsafe' like OS and BSP for now.

Demand for software experts pushes tech salaries higher in UK


Re: Not just gender

Are we going to have an England Football team with one Black player, two Asian players, three from mainland Europe, etc. just to fit in with the census results?

Software fees to make up 10% of John Deere's revenues by 2030


Re: Are thjere no other tractors available

When I was signing people up to make a possible FTTP broadband scheme financially viable, I had to get around 45% of people across 4 villages to sign up.

BT just targeted the largest and offered people 2 years free broadband if they stayed for the duration.

This is the same BT that refused to give us decent broadband despite the government money.

Luckily many people realised what BT were up to and signed up with us anyway.

Everything went in perfectly and we had uninterrupted broadband throughout the pandemic and working from home.

Chemical plant taken offline by the best one of all: C8H10N4O2

Thumb Down

Re: Better yet...

I have pics of a very old laptop (Epson PX4) that was in a record shop closed down due to a sewerage leak. I will not be sharing the photographs that the insurance company insisted that we took of the outside and then opened up case.

Rest in peace, Queen Elizabeth II – Britain's first high-tech monarch


Re: Not my Queen


"£85 million in the tax-payers royal fund last year" - look up the royal purse. The Monarch pays TAX, like you and I. The monarch has income, which is given to the government. The government then gives some of it back to the monarch.

"special laws to exclude the royals" IANAL, but I've never herd that before. Can you provide evidence?

SiFive RISC-V CPU cores to power NASA's next spaceflight computer


Re: Programmers

"People who're knowledgeable say most users don't need hard real-time."

The ECU in your car does need hard real-time. (Image a misfire at motorway speeds.)

The CU in your robot does need hard real-time. (The robot arm hits something as it wasn't commanded to stop in time.)

The FCU/ECU in your plane (commercial or military) does need hard real-time.

The CU in your modern train (elevation or suspension) does need hard real-time. (The maglev could smash into the track ripping up miles of it, killing passengers.)

The FCU in your spacecraft (at least on take-off and landing) does need hard real-time. (Only ever one missed instruction from a RUD.)

One advantage of hard real-time in VxWorks is that you can run all of your critical tasks individually separated in time and space from all of the other tasks running at lesser criticality. Say for a car, the ECU could become part of a single multicore system where the rest of the car systems (probably not the entertainment) run on the other cores. So one control unit for the car rather than 10 or 11. In avionics where weight is a real issue then this federated systems approach is even more critical.

For medical e.g. MRI or nuclear, for instance, you can claim that soft real-time is applicable, but I for one would rather have guaranteed responses, rather than a best effort of software. (We have all experienced the temporary hang of Windows or Linux at one time or another.)

"If you really need hard real-time you can always alter the kernel and handle the interrupts yourself. That's as hard real-time as you can get, better even than VxWorks."

But in doing so you are cutting yourself off from the rest of the generic OS infrastructure, modularity and other system wide aspects. Yes, that is fine in a tiny closed control loop, but not as part of a larger federated system.

I have used VxWorks, because you did, but there are other real-time OS out there that I have used, and written drivers for. But none have a better pedigree and ease of working with than VxWorks.

I could bore you for hours on the subject of multicore redundancy ...

[BTW - the first non-Linux OS to support RISC-V was VxWorks, and that was [secret|many] years ago.]

Salesperson's tech dream delivered by ill-equipped consultant who charged for the inevitable fix


Now quickest interview ...

A major global cosmetic firm were offering 3 times my salary at my first job (mentioned above), to basically write db filters.

Did the IBM IQ test administered by the UK IT Manager's Secretary. After 30 minutes of the allotted 2 hours, she came in and asked if I wanted a drink and I asked if she wanted the finished paper. I sat around for the next 1 1/2 hours, (without the cup of Tea!), before being led to the IT Managers Office Door.

He didn't even look up but said, "You will be bored here" at which point the Secretary closed the door and led me out. I didn't even get to say "Hello" to him.


Sold for the wrong job

Back before the turn of the century I developed the hardware and software and supported the first in-car telemetry system for F1, and lap timing systems for use by a multitude of formulas (including Nigel Mansell becoming a reseller when he moved to the states.)

I received a call from someone at one of the largest multi-national motor manufacturing companies (who also did some racing) to come down and have an expenses paid chat about an opportunity. It was all very clandestine, but not that unusual in the industry.

I was shown into a darkened room with a spot light on a chair. With trepidation I sat down, with the immediate thought that this was a rouse and I had cocked up on a defense contract of something! As my eyes became accustomed to the darkness I became aware of a row of tables down the length of the room that I was facing, and then soon after the 10 (ten!) people sitting in silence until I said good morning. I then suffered 20 minutes of being bombarded with questions regarding engine timing systems. I knew enough to answer the simple-ish questions, but when they asked about the pin-out of an XYZ Lucas connector then I had admit defeat and ask them what this was all about.

It turned out that these were the Executives and most Senior Engineers of the company and I was interviewing for the top position in their Engine Management Division.

I made my excuses and left.

It turned out that the HR person who organised everything had confused my "F1 lap timing" with "F1 engine management timing". They were sacked and as they could not sign the expenses claim, I would not receive that either.

I put it down to a learning opportunity, but was miffed at losing a day holiday to attend the fiasco.

How this Mars rover used its MOXIE to convert CO2 into precious oxygen


Cave diving reference

Narcosis and the bends are a problem on deep and complex dive profiles, mainly caused by Nitrogen.

Heliox and other gas mixtures are used to reduce the problems by reducing the Nitrogen (but also have their own problems).

Famous quote from Dr Maurice Cross at the Fort Bovisand Diving Diseases Research Centre when cave divers Rob Palmer and Rob Parker first enquired about using rebreathers, complex dive profiles etc. (something well beyond even special forces at the time, and even now if the Thai cave rescue is anything to go by) "he's like someone who makes love on a bed of nails - he doesn't want a cure, just a Tetnus jab" [from memory so may be slightly wrong in detail]

Astronaut blood reveals genetic mutations for cancer and heart disease


I think that you'll find ...

... that there is a much larger cohort to test and these are the ones that have flown transatlantic over the North Pole.

Not much difference in SEU of computers on that route and in LEO.

California to try tackling drought with canal-top solar panels


Re: Isn't this a good "shady" idea in general?

Been contacting local companies and brokers since February this year. So far I have had one vague quote for 23Q2 installation (i.e. full of caveats that the price may change) and another company planned to visit in a week. It's almost as though a 5 bed, south facing house is too small a deal for them!

Tesla faces Autopilot lawsuit alleging phantom braking


Simple logic is not enough

I had the opposite effect in a similar situation with the automatic cruise control feature on 2 different cars from different manufacturers.

As the road curved to the right, the vehicle in front of me was no longer in front of me according to the "keep a safe distance behind" logic of the cruise control feature and the car would accelerate only to brake sharply a few meters later when we joined the curve and the car in front was indeed in front again.

Queen Ellanor roundabout approached from Meerway School in Northampton would see this happen at least once and on one occasion 3 times. I soon disabled the cruise control while travelling in that area, as although you were 'safe', you looked like a burke!

Amazon has repackaged surveillance capitalism as reality TV


Re: Apathy is the problem

My local Planning Department allowed a new house extension with the kitchen/diner patio doors at the same level and about 5m away from a teenage girls upstairs bedroom window. (On a slope and so no simple fencing solution to stop the perving.)

Sent the poor girl into massive depression and failed her exams as a result, ruining the rest of her life.

Planning Department: move along, "nothing to see here" - yes the second part is a quote, and in extremely bad taste!

80,000 internet-connected cameras still vulnerable after critical patch offered


Re: Now go back into your hole

Don't Trolls all live under bridges?

NASA builds for keeps: Voyager mission still going after 45 years


In the UK one probe would be developed to prototype stage and then the project would be cancelled.

...because it offended someone!

In a time before calculators, going the extra mile at work sometimes didn't add up


Re: And don't work too fast either!

My father worked in a factory at only one point in his life - being a man of the land the remainder.

He produced about twice as much as his colleagues, but this meant that they collectively met their targets for bonuses and so it was tolerated by his colleagues.

It worked against him in the end as he kept being refused voluntary redundancy (over 3 years) as the management didn't want him to go (and let their production bonuses slip). In the end he just left without redundancy.


Re: Inertia

For 3 years I was Deputy President of a national youth charity.

I used to get all of the usual 'boring' mail associated with such a position, but none of the 'interesting' invitations to attend or judge at events.

I was getting mail and so I was told that nothing was wrong - OK, I must be persona non grata.

Eventually, I found out what was going on: 'boring' mail was produced by one set of people and the 'interesting' invitations by another set. And the 'interesting' group had a mail address from when I was a County Chairman 20 years earlier and so had been sending all the mail there until they got bored with me not answering (despite the fact that I met them many times in person during that period and they assured me they were sending everything!)

A head did roll and now there is a single centralised database of members (and where they have requested to remain) ex-members.

NASA has MOXIE, but rivals reckon they can do better for oxygen on Mars


Re: Hazard

Read up about Bill Stone's rebreathers to get an overview on technology better than NASA, with multiple levels or redundancy. Even with his Mk1, he was doing unsupported 24 hour dives last century. I believe he then went on to consult for NASA.

Rick Stanton and John Volanthan (both of Thai cave rescue fame) and many other cave divers have made their own rebreathers. Cave dive profiles are nothing like open water profiles, some going to extreme depth multiple times between air spaces, something almost impossible to calculate (or support with bottle dumps) in an open-circuit rig.

Admittedly, something that it going to periodically inject a little O2 in the mix is ultimately going to be limited by the O2 tank size/weight, but some of the guys rebreathers designed for tight caves are not much bigger than a couple of drinks bottles.

Oh Deere: Farm hardware jailbroken to run Doom


Ah, old tractors!

Belarus. I once drove an 8 wheel (4 x dual 6' diameter wheels) monster. It would do 10kph max speed - regardless of what was on the back - including pulling an Artic full of grain out of a soggy field!

My brother once fell asleep at the wheel of a smaller model whilst ploughing and managed to go through 3 hedges and ditches before it was stopped by a mature Oak tree.

In my youth I used to plough (single furrow) with one of the 5 "little grey fergies" that were previously converted to run on Aviation fuel at the local military base. It is now in a museum.

BOFH: Who us? Sysadmins? Spend time with other departments?


Re: Management style fads! - Something Different

We are all remote workers, but luckily that includes a caring HR lady, who sends small cakes by courier to the whole UK staff.

NASA's Lunar Orbiter spots comfortably warm 'pits' all over the Moon


Re: In Space...

I haven't spoken to my wife in years. I dare not interrupt her!

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch: Now 100,000kg smaller


Where does it all come from?


Dev's code manages to topple Microsoft's mighty SharePoint



I had a problem that wasted me a few days.

The AV or IT spyware, would delete my work when I rebooted the system.

The files could be worked on, copied to and from OneDrive fine, and then after a reboot was gone from both.

I never have found out what was wrong with the contents of those source code files, and IT just said "no it doesn't".

Misguided call for a 7-Zip boycott brings attention to FOSS archiving tools


Re: A couple of points

We speak English in the UK.

Americans have a problem with some things and have to add a description, e.g. British English

They can't work out a British "pavement" and have to describe where it is and what you have to do on it - "side walk".

The rest of the world go "horse riding", the Mericans are not so sure and have to describe where you ride the horse - "horse back riding"

There are many more examples that I can't think of immediately, but I'm sure I've seen British comedians do whole gigs based on it.


Re: A couple of points

"While 99.9% intelligible to me"

If you can understand that much, then I refer Rab C Nesbit to you - good luck!

BOFH: HR's gold mine gambit – they get the gold and we get the shaft


Re: He's very quiet

I had a friend who wrote a job spec based on my CV. His manager turned me down on the basis that he couldn't find me on LinkedIn - nothing to do with my abiities!

Mars Express orbiter to get code update after 19 years


Re: It never ceases to amaze me ...

"[do] the builders of these things get to charge maintenance fees / extended warranties until the things give up?"

I've regularly seen Long Term Agreements over 20 years and occassionally over 30 years.

(I knew someone who 3 years ago was still having 6 monthly practice sessions working on core memories.)

I've also made sure that where there is on-site support provisions that it specifically states that this does not apply to deployed spacecraft!

EV battery can reach full charge in 'less than 10 minutes'


Re: Full charge in 10 minutes?

I had this discussion with my MP about 3 years ago, when he was in the Transport Dept. Absolutely no willing on their part.

I pointed out that if the EV had improved as much as the ICE in the past 100 years then the battery could be replaced one handed at a "fuel station" and last 1000 miles, before swapping again with one charged from renewables at another station. And you would probably have spaces for two batteries when you bought the car (bought without batteries), and only deplete one at a time. If the 'quality' of the replacement batteries were always monitored at the stations then range could be guaranteed. (I say replacement, but it is more of a short term rental until the charge is used.)

Sometimes you just know by looking at the eyes that nothing is going into the brain!

Google calculates Pi to 100 trillion digits


Re: spot the difference

There's one in the gut for you!

UK police to spend tens of millions on legacy comms network kit


Not all Motorola

I can't belive I am defending them, but the new system cannot go ahead without the equivalent, replacement 4G network coverage.

There is very little of the country that Airwave does not cover, although Raynet (used to and I assume still do) provide mobile boosting transmitters for major emergencies. However, there are still large geographic parts of the UK (many near to major poulation centres) that do not have 4G coverage and so the Emergency Services would have no communications in those areas with the new system.

OFCOM seem happy with the current 4G population coverage and so are working against the Emergency Services by not pushing for geographic coverage.

I have contacted my MP, using short words, many times on this issue and he still has no understanding of the ramifications.

Photonic processor can classify millions of images faster than you can blink


Will social media get behind it?

If scaled up then the killer app is surely identifying unsavoury content being uploaded to social media, rather than having staff look at it once it has been flaged by the public.

France levels up local video game slang with list of French terms to replace foreign words



I did some work for a French F1 team in the 1990's. Everyone had to speak French on-site. As soon as we passed through the gate on the way out on my first day I found out that many were English as they immediately switch to speaking English.

We had a snigger later in the bar as we could hear the French staff complaining that "those two tables will only speak English to us - bloody English!" - one table were Dutch and the other German.

Spam is back with a vengeance. Luckily we can't read any of it


Snail mail can be just as bad

11 years on from moving into this house, I still regularly recieve mortgage statements and legal documents related to other properties the previous owners still own. You try to contact the sender, but you can't get anything changed, as you are not the person they are sending to.

I've even tried contacting the Information Commissioners Office on multiple occassions but get no response to email and web-form.

When management went nuclear on an innocent software engineer


Re: This is the way... the Scotty way...

I always tell those I mentor to multiply their estimate by 4, because the manager will always halve it!

Broadcom buying VMware could create an edge infrastructure and IoT empire


Challenger to VxWorks?

This marketplace - Core networks to the intelligent edge - is currently dominated by Wind River with its Studio offerings.

(See all the announcements on their website, especially 5G infrastructure and orchestrating at scale.)

It will be interesting times to come if this deal goes through in the manner envisioned by the article author.

Amazon puts 'creepy' AI cameras in UK delivery vans


What laws will they enforce?

The largest number of complaints each month in my Parish are due to paths being blocked. The delivery drivers are bad, but usually not blocking the path for too long and so people can wait. Workmen and family visitors are by far the biggest offenders and stay for long periods of time.

The problem concerns mothers with pushchairs, or children at hand, the disabled, the elderly and partially sighted/blind. These have to walk/drive into the streams of traffic to pass the parked vehicles.

There are many laws in the UK to cover this, but the Police and the local Unitary Authority can't decide which one of them has duristriction (it depends on which offence you want to persue), but neither of them have the time to enforce it. Note also that vehicle insurance is invalid if you are partaking in an illegal activity!

Now are Amazon going to pass illegal activity onto the Police?

Beware the fury of a database developer torn from tables and SQL


Voice prompts

I produced a system many years ago to measue the pH of cat urine (basically, the only simple means of measuring their health!) This was for a company that made cat food and they wanted to test the recipies.

The cats were trained to urinate in a shower tray and my sensor was under the outflow. The pot had to be emptied and replaced after each filling and so I set up a voice annunciation to inform the staff of this. e.g. "Cat number 23 has urinated".

It was so 'popular' that I also had to place an example on a button that the staff could press when they were conducting tours!


Text files

Back in the 1990's I produced a lap timing system (computer, timing beams, radio links, in-car telemetry) primarily for F1, but over the years it filtered down to other formulas and bikes.

In the computer there was one EPROM with the 64K of assembler code and the other EPROM socket was loaded with the text that would appear on the screen.

However, the laptops (Epson PX4) had limited screen size and text had to be abbreviated on almost ever screen.

Everything was fine until a customer insisted that it had to be translated into French. (At their Magnicor site everyone had to speak French all of the time, despite the fact that the majority of the engineers were English.) Now, I could speak a liitle French, but even in those days I had enough sense to get a native French speaker to work out what the abreviations would have to be.

I never had to have it translated into another language, but I received so much qudos for having the text in the seperate EPROM. I even confessed that it was only there because I had run out of space on the first EPROM and text was the best thing to place in a 'slower to access' second EPROM.

September 16, 1992, was not a good day to be overly enthusiastic about your job


Re: The work is its own reward ;)

I've twice left a company and been replaced by two people.

And once left and was replaced by three!

On all occassions manglement didn't believe me when I said there was too much work. I made sure that was in my reasons for leaving letter and copied upper manglement.

I would like to have been a fly on the wall when upper manglement asked my ex-manager "why do you need to replace this one guy with two/three?"

We can bend the laws of physics for your super-yacht, but we can't break them


Re: ""Don't you know who I am?"

Twice I have received the "Do you know who I am?"

Firstly from someone who tells people they are fired on UK TV. It was in the 90's and they were only vaguely famous. I told him "to invent something better if the current best on the market was not good enough." I got a smile from him and he walked off.

Secondly from someone who had just spent 10 minutes looking over my shoulder demanding "is it fixed yet", which gave me plenty of time to think of the best answer when he asked the inevitable. This was about 1990 and my system characterised race engines and exhaust systems. He wanted something that would automatically match the right engine to the right exhaust - something that his very experienced engineers "struggled to do" in his words. So my answer was, "The system does what you specified [characterised the engines and exhausts], no it cannot think like the Terminator [AI] and did you know that the Earth actually rotates? [pure petulance]" He just stormed out of the room and the Engineering Manager who had witnesed it all took me to the Pub for lunch to thank me.

Half of developers still at screens even during breaks


Re: Take a hike

Yes, I walk 3 times around the village most lunchtimes, although I do stop to talk to people and sometimes only manage once round within my time limit.

It is quite normal that the bug that has been bothering me for an hour or more is magically obvious when I get back!

Thinnet cables are no match for director's morning workout


Re: Don't look

Oh, they had the foot rests and proper ergonomic chairs and the training.

You can only go so far. We had one that insisted on sitting on her right foot!


Don't look

I used to do the H&S inspections at a previous employer.

One thing I had noticed was that the cables under the desks kept being rearranged out of the cable trays and onto the floor. These were 4 desk units where the employees faced into the centre and there were no privacy boards under the desks, just their drawer units and the cable trays. The thought was that someone might we using the cable tray to rest their feet on and accidentally pulling the cables - the H&S concern was entanglement, rather than trip, etc.

A plan was hatched that I should do the inspection whilst people were in the office rather than before everyone came in. And then a very fast realisation that you cannot tell four young ladies in shorts skirts that they should not move their feet while you are going to look around under their desks!



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