* Posts by Licenced_Radio_Nerd

22 publicly visible posts • joined 13 Feb 2020

Plans for UK rival to Silicon Valley ditched


Good riddance to deeply flawed plans!

Many in Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire do not want the rail link re-built, as it comes with the "bright idea" of over a million houses, and Bedfordshire is already being lost to swathes of concrete. Those creating the plan suggested a brand new settlement on the old Tempsford airfield. That settlement would need a major road built to the A1, with it routing over the river Great Ouse and/or over the East Coast Mainline. You can sit for 10+ minutes at the current level-crossing waiting for the trains to get out of the way. The A1 barely copes with the mad levels of traffic on it now. Plans to re-route it (through a different part of Bedfordshire) and upgrade to motorway keep being shelved as too expensive.

The proposal on the rail routes have met with serious opposition. Instead of tunnelling out of Bedford, they have proposed the cheaper option of planting a viaduct through people's gardens. There are arguments over whether it should route via Cambourne. Cambridgeshire councils have suggested they would rather build another guided bus-way, which will probably arrive late, over budget, and flood. There has also been a suggestion to route the railway via Bassingbourne and build thousands of houses on the former MoD site. Because that is what we need: more mouths to feed, more people wanting a doctor/dentist, more people wanting power. Biggleswade (my home town) is now looking at proposals to build a new National Grid sub-station to the east of town to cope with the power demands now being placed on the local networks. The 33 kV feeds from near Hitchin and near Eaton Ford are unable to meet future demand, so the area now needs its own tap on the 440 kV grid running past.

So no thanks to the railway. Please spend the money elsewhere. East Anglia is full!


Re: Does the Tory Government Actually Know What It Is Doing ?

You can travel up the river Great Ouse and back along the Cam, although that might take a few weeks!

Visiting a booby-trapped webpage could give attackers code execution privileges on HP network printers


Re: Malware or just a link to the firmware update site?

You can see the same errors of stuck spooler files when printing via USB.


Re: Malware or just a link to the firmware update site?

According to Wiktionary:


1. (computing) A program or process that spools (places data in a queue to be accessed later)

The print spooler sends each page to the printer when it is ready for it.

So now we know.


Re: Malware or just a link to the firmware update site?

net stop spooler

net start spooler

Of course, the above needs admin-rights on a Windows machine, and may need to be restarted on the device that is sharing the printer. Corporate environments will have a server sharing all of the in-office printers, so restarting the spooler service on your laptop/desktop will do little.

A fun issue is when spooler files (.spl) get stuck and you cannot print. You have to stop the service, dig into where they hide, delete them, then restart the spooler. I have had home-users state they will go and buy a new printer because they cannot print. A quick clear-out of stuck .spl files cures all!

"Spooler" is probably a hang-over from the days of dot-matrix and daisy-wheel printers which had a spool of ink infused ribbon. Or it was called that as a joke, and no-one bothered to change it...

Rolls-Royce set for funding fillip to build nuclear power stations based on small modular reactor technology


Re: Some submarine!

Whilst the reactor may be small, the equipment to control it, storage, turbines/generators, heat-pumps (it's not in the sea, so it may have to blow away the excess heat into the atmosphere (see Little Barford)), transformers and transmission lines all need space; as do the security fences, flood defences, staff canteen, et cetera.


District heating system

It would be nice to see SMR installations in large town/cities integrated into a district heating system, along with local waste incinerators. It would be a handy way to get rid of in-house heating solutions (like gas boilers), as well as heating schools, shops, businesses, in/outdoor pools, et al. I may go further and add loops in the roads and pavements for defrosting in the winter - thus saving the spread of tonnes of salt. The road loops could also be used in the summer to heat water in homes / local pools.

Of course, none of the above will ever happen due to cost and everything being built in isolation.

But it is nice to dream...

Weeks after Red Bee Media's broadcast centre fell over, Channel 4 is still struggling with subtitles


Not just C4/C5

Viewers of FTA/Sky Satellite may have noticed that several of the usual music video channels are now only showing 'The Box'. Another casualty of the media centre failure - although sadly it has not taken out the Xmas video channel that started in September!

More than three years after last release, X.Org Server 21.1.0 RC1 appears


Re: Not Really Off Topic!!!

Several reasons. SSH is secured with keys, so there is no need for an extra VPN layer. VNC needs to be tunnelled over SSH/VPN as it is insecure. RDP is for M$ systems only. The command-line SSH re-direct with -X can be created as a simple script with an icon that can launch the "thing" from the desktop.

Usage example: my CentOS 7 server has no GUI - it is all managed via the command line. The exception is the HPE RAID controller, which is operated via a browser (Firefox, in this case). To avoid the need to install a heap of unnecessary stuff and have a GUI wasting resources, I can simply install Firefox, and run its graphics via SSH -X over to another Linux system (desktop/laptop with GUI). From there, I can control the RAID array without needing to take the server offline - where I would then need to plug-in a keyboard, mouse, and screen. Yes, the server has iLO, but thanks to the updates to Java, the iLO remote screen is now FUBAR.

G7 countries outgun UK in worldwide broadband speed test


Had to downgrade

A couple of months ago, I downgraded my Openreach POTS line to 40/10 via my ISP, Uno. They are offering a new all-in-one calls/DSL package that is half the price of the BT Wholesale packages (had to have two: one for DSL, one for line-rental/calls). It does mean the back-haul is now via Talk Talk LLU, and I had to change my public IP address, but I am saving money by not paying for something I cannot achieve. When I first started using VDSL, I was one of the few, so my sync and throughput speeds were close to the 80/20 I was paying for. As more people piled onto the DSLAM, and cross-talk increased, my speeds plummeted. Sync speeds were also unstable and often re-training. I also had to have Openreach out earlier this year (2021) to fix the age-old problem of water in the head-end in the street. They fixed me and managed to knock one of my neighbours off. They came out to fix that, and knocked another neighbour off. Thankfully he noticed before they left and politely yelled at them.

Yes, we have Vermin Media in this area. Had CableTel in the early days - before NTHell. Would not touch that again!!!

So bring on fibre to the home. I'm not fussed if it's only 100 Mb/s. I just want something to work at the level I pay for!

30 years of Linux: OS was successful because of how it was licensed, says Red Hat


Re: Linux on the desktop

CentOS 7 runs out of support in 2024, so lots of people will be looking for an EL alternative. For servers, I suspect lots of people will migrate to Rocky. Desktops/laptop are going to be a little trickier, especially for those of us with special usage cases. There are days of testing and debugging involved in switching versions, let alone distributions!

Around 2008, I worked in a company who employed one of the Debian maintainers. He had the honour of leading the whole project for a period. The IT manager asked him where we could procure the same sort of official training as you can find with the Red Hat Certified Engineering course. The question has never been answered. The things you get to play with at Uni do not always translate into the commercial world. As I told a college lecturer on my BTEC HNC Electronics Engineering course, those of us on day-release had full-time jobs, and we were paid to bash things into a calculator and get on with the work, not spend half the day working things out from first-principles on a bit of A4 paper.

In a more recent company, I was forced to rip out a Debian based business-critical customer-facing https WebDAV server and replace it with CentOS 7. Whilst I applaud and support the community-driven nature of Debian (and other projects), it was too slow to back-port essential security features that Red Hat had already taken from Apache 2.4 and stuffed in 2.2. My CentOS 7 server at home was scoring better on the Qualys SSL tests than the biz-critical system at work, so it had to be replaced. The security of customer data was more important than the platform it ran on.

There is also an issue of commercial support. In the same company as previously mentioned, I was in charge of a large-ish IT estate comprising both Dell and HPE kit. The EL packages they provide are essential for SNMP monitoring, iLO/iDRAC integration, and RAID controller management. I have been able to re-configure and re-build huge RAID arrays whilst the system was still running, and swap failed power supplies within minutes of receiving the email alert. Debian, and to a certain extent Ubuntu, are largely ignored and left to the community. HPE/Dell/Oracle are only going to spend time and effort supporting those versions of Linux that make them money, especially when they are spinning their own!


Linux on the desktop

I have been using Linux on the desktop (and laptop) for a number of years and I love it. However, in order to do that with CentOS 7, I had to "hack" things in order to use MATE desktop (Gnome 3 sucks!) and kernel-lt that supported certain hardware. Whilst M$ Windows off the DVD still needs drivers, consumers rarely see that, as shop-bought systems are usually ready to go. There has never been an easy path for consumers to migrate to something that was familiar. Another commenter on another thread is complaining about the case-sensitivity of *nix compared to Windows - something I have seen catching people out (web "developers" with spaces in their file names...).

There there is the lack of application support. iTunes for Linux, anyone? The software houses claim there is no demand, so they do not create a Linux version, which means you cannot use their software on Linux, which means there is no demand. Flatpak may be able to fill that gap. It has certainly helped me run the latest Skype, Signal, KiCAD, and OpenShot Video editor on CentOS 7. For other applications, I have had to use mock to rebuild upstream Fedora packages so I could use certain Amateur Radio applications in CentOS. I suspect Red Hat assume those who want to use those apps will just use Fedora, not an EL version on the desktop?!

And we have fragmentation. I have already stated my dislike for Gnome 3, and thankfully, others agreed and made MATE. With so much choice, it is really hard to create documentation, or tell a friend/relative over the phone to click on X, then Y, to sort something. This of course is also true for Windows with the UI constantly being screwed with!

And of course, we have to have the distro argument. Which do you use? Debian and its clones, or Red Hat and its clones. Different package management, different paths, different release and support cycles. I like to use the EL versions so it "just works". Unfortunately, the toys I want to play with are only available in the bleeding-edge versions, such as Fedora (speaking from a Red Hat perspective). So I have to go without, rebuild, or run it virtualised. A recent issue has stopped me dead in my tracks from trying to migrate to Rocky Linux 8. The rather handy 'mail-notification' utility is not available in EL8, as it needs libgnome-devel, which is deprecated (also an issue with Ubuntu, according to posts I have read). Attempting to rebuild it on a Rocky8 build VM, and I hit a wall where libgnome-devel requires compat-openssl10, and that refuses to build the -devel package, as it clashes with openssl-1.1.1. So I am stuck. No EL8 desktop for me at the moment. Do I go back to running Fedora to save on rebuilding the toys? The fedup upgrade utility is rather handy, and you can stay on the last supported version to try and avoid all the things that are borked, but you still have to use bleeding-edge Firefox, and they like to break add-ons! I am afraid it is of little use to suggest: "just switch to Debian". I have spent 20-odd years playing in the RH field, and trying to get my head around where things are in the Debian clones gives me a headache. Apologies to those who love and maintain Debian, but the path and packaging differences are another reason why M$ Windows remains the dominant "thing" on people's desktops and laptops.

Feel free to downvote. As a SysAdmin of 20+ years, I have seen lots of changes, not all for the better. I now simply want things to "just work" and not have to spend hours trawling through changelogs and forum posts to find someone decided to change how one package worked, and now my entire IT estate is on the fritz! I am looking at you systemd.

For a true display of wealth, dab printer ink behind your ears instead of Chanel No. 5


Also switched to Laser

I switched to a laser printer at home years ago after several years of inkjet printers drying out and/or using up loads of ink to get ready to print. Inkjets survive as their initial cost is much lower than an equivalent colour-laser, and people only see the sticker price, not the running costs. Of course, they are then caught out by the never-ending cycle of expensive inks, and they give-up and buy a new printer because it is cheaper. Nice little racket you have there!

I always recommend people who print infrequently to purchase a laser printer (colour MFPs were quite were quite reasonably priced - before Covid!). The toner will happily sit there for yonks and simply print when you need it; plus the paper is usually contained and protected in a tray; and if you are clever, your MFP has a nice dust cover. Of course, the manufacturers have cottoned-on and the printers only include "shipping toner", which is usually 25% of a full cartridge. A full set of colour toner cartridges will also have you thinking of simply replacing the printer - once you have recovered from the heart attack! There is also the issue of obsolescence. By the time you have printed enough to need new toner cartridges, you may struggle to replace them.

UK product safety regulations are failing consumers online, in the IoT, and … with artificial intelligence?


CE mark has been pointless for years!

Here in the radio community, we have seen the CE mark as essentially pointless for years. Any electronic device found to be in breach of the testing standards, or fails the Essential Requirements of the EMC directive, is automatically ignored by the NGO responsible if it has a CE mark. "It conformed when placed on the market" is their standard get-out retort - even when presented with clear evidence that the device has no filtering components fitted. I doubt if UKCA will improve the situation without scrapping the likes of EN50561 and banning the import of junk electronics. All electronic imports should have to be screened, with random samples taken to ensure compliance with safety and EMC testing standards. That is going to require qualified staff and money - something no government wants to do. It has to be seen to be on the side of big-biz. As long as people make money, it does not matter if your phone battery explodes, or your cheap import laptop power brick wipes out radio services across half the town.

Working from a countryside plot nestled in a not-spot? Consultation opens on new rural mobile planning laws for bigger masts, wider coverage


The spinning bastards cause considerable radio interference and fading - known as QSB in Radio Amateur circles. This can be avoided somewhat with digital modes (Fusion/DMR/D-Star), but we are not using them at the frequencies of mobile comms (or at least, I am not). At mm-wavelengths, you are going to see all sorts of reflections and scattering. Far better to raze the wind turbine with RDX and recycle it to build new nuclear!

How do we stamp out the ransomware business model? Ban insurance payouts for one, says ex-GCHQ director


Not a firewall - a content filter.

The firewall merely keeps out bad IP packets. You are referring to a "content filter" and these are only as good as the block-lists they use - assuming the business has implemented one! Criminals have been waging a speed war against the real-time block-lists to see how quickly they can spread their spamwares before the RBLs catch and block them. It does not matter if you are filtering content, or blocking at DNS level, you will never keep ahead of the criminals. So you do need your end-users to pay attention to what they are doing, and not have the entire finance department blindly following the "click here to download the invoice" link!

The mail-user-agents can take some of this blame. Whilst Thunderbird has always offered the URI of the link when hovered over, Outlook, in its attempt to be totally clean, never did*, so end-users got used to blindly clicking on things, whilst TB users could spot the dodgy URI and trash the email.

* No idea if later versions have started offering this, although I am aware Outlook started to flag potentially dodgy sites.

It might pay insurers to risk-assess businesses as they do with vehicle owners. Points for DUI, etc., and you pay more. Fail to implement strong passwords, security training, content filtering, etc., and you pay much more for premiums. And as others have said: sort out your back-up solution!

Nominet vows to freeze wages and prices, boost donations, and be more open. For many members, it’s too little, too late


Caught out by the .uk money grab.

I have held a specific domain-name as a .com, .net and .co.uk since the late 90s. So when the great .uk debacle happened, I was automatically given the equivalent to my .co.uk registration. All fine and dandy until it was time to pay for it. I paid for 1 year, then let it lapse, as I did not want to line Nominet's pockets. This has turned out to be a mistake. Early December 2020 I find someone has registered my previous .uk domain name and has started a business offering computer repairs. All well and good, except the individual concerned failed to check if the name he had thought of had been previously used. It is in fact a registered Trade Mark for computer services, and I own it.

Unable to find the 3rd party's address (remember the WHOIS issue?!), I had to open a DRS complaint with Nominet. Only then was I able to send a Letter of Claim (known as a Cease and Desist in the USA) to the 3rd party. He has ignored me and failed to take part in the Nominet DRS process. Their mediator would not accept that it was Nominet's flawed plans to sell-off the .uk space that has led to, and facilitated Trade Mark infringement. Their cop-out: it is a matter for the courts. The DRS mediation process has now drawn to a close as the 3rd party refused to engage. I can pay £750 +VAT to one of their independent "advisors" to rule on the domain name if I want it transferred back to myself. If I had £750 +VAT kicking around, I can think of more important things to spend it on!

So thanks to Nominet, I have no recourse to common law without spending money on lawyers to file a case with the courts; or I have to pay their fees to stop this person from infringing my Trade Mark. In the meantime, I am tackling this from another angle: I have been raising Trade Mark infringement complaints with Instagram, Twitter, and the website's hosting company. I have to tip my hat to Instagram - they were the first to bite and close the infringing account. I have had to email Twitter again, and I am still waiting for them to wake-up; and I am waiting on squarespace.com to clobber the website. Assuming all goes to plan, I can only hope the 3rd party gets the message and drops the domain name. I will then have to scramble to try and register it again to stop this from happening in the future. I have also had to pay to cover the .me.uk variant - just in case. This is all rather annoying, as it gets rather costly, both in money spent on domain renewals, and one's time trying to defend one's IP!

All of this could have been avoided if Nominet had not been so greedy in selling off the .uk namespace. Of course, it could have also given people their equivalent .uk domain name for free, for life; or at least as long as you maintained the .co.uk equivalent.

UK network Three hikes pay-as-you-go rates by 400% to push punters to buy 'bundles'


They want rid of users like me!

I have been with Three for several years after Vodafone started charging stupid amounts of money for their data. I have been very pleased with Three as I could add £20 in PAYG credit and that would last months. I rarely call, rarely text, and mostly use data over Wi-Fi. I am clearly someone they want rid-off as they cannot make enough money from me. That is fine. I will run down my credit, and go elsewhere! Not only will I go, I will also encourage friends and family, who I advised to migrate to Three, to move as well. There are plenty of cheap MVNOs out there!

You get fibre, you get fibre, you all get fibre: UK Ministry of Fun promises new rules to make all new homes gigabit capable


In-house cabling...

All well and good to mandate FTTP, but how about changing building-regulations to require all new-build and re-build to feature multiple Cat6, TV, VHF radio, and Satellite points to all bedrooms, lounge, dinning room, et al. We also need laws to ensure copper-clad-Aluminium is banned!!

Let me tell you a story: way back in the late 1990s, an American work-colleague showed me a brochure for a house she and her English husband were buying in Southern California. Apart from the copious use of wood, and a large basement, the major point for me was the Cat5 cabling to all of the rooms. In the UK, we are still installing the POTS line by the front door with no power and no way of routing it somewhere useful. And the reason? "We've always done it like that!"

What's the German word for stalling technology rollouts over health fears? Cos that plus 5G equals Switzerland


Re: Plenty of evidence to prove it is safe!

Headaches due to approaching thunderstorms are a product of changing air pressure and changing Relative Humidity - and possibly being hit on the head by golf-ball sized hail.

The human body contains no known structures with sufficient metallic content to provide detection of radio-wavelength electromagnetic waves that could cause a physiological response that can be detected by the brain. If it did, those subject to an MRI scan would explode!


Re: Up to a point, Lord Copper

I use the term "detect" in the sense of: can the so-called electro-sensitive person who claims Wi-Fi gives them a headache, sitting in my RF test chamber with an aerial pointed at their head, tell me whether the transmitter is on, off, or even plugged in? I am going to bet a King's ransom that they cannot! I am also going to safely bet that they are suffering from an underlying health issue that they are blaming on "electrosmog" - a term Amateur Radio uses to describe radio spectrum pollution caused by the plethora of junk electronics.

As for heating effects, yes, if you were daft enough to defeat the safety device of your microwave oven, or stare into the waveguide of an energised RADAR system, you would certainly cook vital parts. This extreme case does not apply, and one should be careful not to confuse those who already have a lack of understanding of radio in case they find some other "cause"!

Gamma rays are technically ionising radiation - and they will mess you up!


Plenty of evidence to prove it is safe!

From the 1960s onwards, three television transmitters in the UK: Sandy Heath in Bedfordshire; Crystal Palace in London; and Sutton Coldfield in Birmingham all delivered analogue television into people's homes with transmitter powers of 1 million watts Effective Radiated Power. By the 1980s, that was times 4 for each of the main UK channels. If there was a causal link between exposure to high-energy radio transmitters, we would have been dropping like flies. I grew up in the shadow of Sandy Heath, and we are all fine.

Electrosensitivity does not exist. There is nothing in the human body that can detect photons outside of the visible light spectrum. If you are suffering from headaches, insomnia, et al, you have other underlying mental/physical health issues. They are not caused by radio!