* Posts by rafff

119 publicly visible posts • joined 6 Apr 2020


Forget feet and inches, latest UK units of measurement are thinking bigger


Re: What the hell is a meter?

"decimated coconut" - desecrated coconut, Shirley?

Goes with suggestive biscuits.

Uni staff fall back on Excel to work around mis-coded transactions in Oracle system


Re: Translation needed

Aka “senior managers ignored warning signs, hoping that they would be resolvable by blind optimism because they would lose their bonuses if the system went live later than the due date"


End-to-end encryption may be the bane of cops, but they can't close that Pandora's Box


Re: The bits I love

"I just need to see how many dogs/breeds I need for suitable messaging."

Only two, if you use binary coding

Techie's enthusiasm for decluttering fails to spark joy


Hostnames and IP addresses are usually enough to locate the box you need

Not always. I worked at a bank where a server failed. We could not ping it.

We knew that it had recently been moved to a different building, but we did not know which. Now try finding that among the thousand or so boxes in the data centres.

Lights about to go out on US Affordable Connectivity Program


<< discount of up to $30 a month on internet service and up to $75 per month for eligible households on qualifying tribal lands.>>

A discount that is greater than most of us pay in more civilised countries.

Software support chap survived breaking his customer


Re: Picking the data to delete

On my Linux boxen /tmp is a memory-mapped FS and so gets cleared/recreated on every restart; /var/tmp OTOH is on a real HD - and is much bigger.

Help! My mouse climbed a wall and now it doesn't work right


Re: Is it plugged in?

<<Only when I drove off did I wonder whether the testing would be valid coming from someone so clueless.>>

For testing, clueless is ideal. Testers who understand the software will not think to take the road less travelled

OpenAI's GPT-4 can exploit real vulnerabilities by reading security advisories


Cost of an explooit

" $8.80 per exploit, which they say is about 2.8x less than it would cost to hire a human penetration tester for 30 minutes."

Pen testers seem to be quite cheap, though.

We never agreed to only buy HP ink, say printer owners


Colo[u]r laser

"I ditched inkjets for laser.

You don't actually need to print in color."

My Brother laser prints in colour, 2-sided, and has separate cartridges for each colour so I don't need to replace the whole set when I only need black. And, after 5 years of ownership I have not yet replaced even the black toner. And it cost me well below £200 .

Polish officials may face criminal charges in Pegasus spyware probe


Re: in 99 percent it was used against criminals

"There's a huge risk to using it because they can't know what Apple will do in the future to try to take down NSO. Next time they might not only name and shame countries using it, but tell exactly who they are using it against!"

e.g. US govt?

L3Harris attempted to buy NSO https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/10/us/politics/defense-firm-said-us-spies-backed-its-bid-for-pegasus-spyware-maker.html

Woz calls out US lawmakers for TikTok ban: 'I don’t like the hypocrisy'


"might be convincing if I could think of anyone who actually would."

I have a cousin who would and does. And she is not stupid - outside of tech, there she is total dumbo.

Britain enters period of mourning as Greggs unable to process payments


Re: Ok adding my not so consipracy take...

" The moral of the story is carry some cash with you."

And then we have those establishments that refuse to take cash.

How to run an LLM on your PC, not in the cloud, in less than 10 minutes


Re: curl -fsSL someurl | sh

And run it inside a container build or a VM.

Not perfect protection, but what is.

Voyager 1 starts making sense again after months of babble


Re: Perspective

"massive stacks of fanfold paper as God intended. "

That brings back memories - of hours spent with a red pen in hand. Who still remembers what still remembers what all the the 0Cx codes mean?

How do you lot feel about Pay or say OK to ads model, asks ICO


Re: "It's hard to give consent freely"

That sounds like a good reason for avoiding that employer


Re: "It's hard to give consent freely when there is little choice "

And on aircraft, no choice at all

Australia passes Right To Disconnect law, including (for now) jail time for bosses who email after-hours


Re: Flexi time

" take holiday to go renew a drivers license in the USA or complete a house purchase "

Move to a jurisdiction where all these things are done online or on the phone. No face-to-face needed.

You're not imagining things – USB memory sticks are getting worse


Re: Simple solution?

" hold the reseller liable for wholesalers or manufacturers malicious or unintended failures "

Your contract is with Amazon or other merchant, not with the manufacturer. The entity you have the contract with is responsible for the the goods being of merchandisable quality. IANAL.

The spyware business is booming despite government crackdowns


" The spyware business is booming despite government crackdowns"

But government is the biggest customer

Windows 3.11 trundles on as job site pleads for 'driver updates' on German trains


Re: Improvement?

ISA cards? I have a box of them lying around. I think.

Energy breakthrough needed to build AGI, says OpenAI boss Altman


Re: "in favor of renewable energy sources like nuclear fusion"

>> it is taking energy locked up shortly after the Big Bang and dumping it into our environment.

> Isn't that exactly what the Sun is doing? :P It won't last forever either.

Yes the sun is dumping its energy in our environment, and we have reached, more or less, an equilibrium. My argument is to maintain that equilibrium and not to push extra energy into our environment. True renewables just move energy around *within* the terrestial environment; they do no change the overall energy level.

Another respondent questions whether the overall change caused by fusion would be signi9ficant in view of the total solar energy flux. That is a separate matter.

Nevertheless, if practical fusion ever ceases to be "20 years in the future" it will be a suitable stopgap for the next century or so.


Re: "in favor of renewable energy sources like nuclear fusion"

Truly, the processes driving wind, solar and hydro are not renewable, but they are "outside the system" that we are interested in: the earth as a life-supporting environment.

Fusion is a heat engine, and these work best at 50% efficiency. For each joule of useful energy we generate at least 2 joules: 1J is the energy that we use, dumped into the environment when we use it, and the rest is waste from the generation process. So with fusion each joule puts >2J into the environment,; with wind/solar etc the overall change is zero.


"in favor of renewable energy sources like nuclear fusion"

Fusion is definitely not "renewable energy"; it is taking energy locked up shortly after the Big Bang and dumping it into our environment. Free of chemical and radioactive pollution, yes; but renewable, no.

Wind, water, solar are renewable; they take energy out of the environment, and then release it back when we use it.

Junior techie had leverage, but didn’t appreciate the gravity of the situation


Too heavy

Southampton University had a related problem in the 60s when the MechEng tower block had to be balanced by a suitable distribution of equipment.

Adios, dead zones: Starlink relays SMS in space for unmodified phones on Earth


"competitive market for supplemental cellular coverage from space"

"the FCC has launched a rulemaking to consider how best to implement a sustainable framework for a competitive market for supplemental cellular coverage from space"

They have not managed to do it on earth, so how are they going to do it in space. I wonder how the telcos will engineer non-compete deals in space.

Drivers: We'll take that plain dumb car over a flashy data-spilling internet one, thanks


"I hate that I don't own Microsoft Office or Photoshop. "

There are alternative, you know: LibreOffice and Gimp for starters. No-one if forcing you to drink all the M$ coolade, even if you are forced by $work to use a 'doze platform. At home there are very few things other than games that *require* WIndows.

While we fire the boss, can you lock him out of the network?


"Clearly they need an open window, "

Maybe it was a Linux shop: no WIndows

New year, new bug – rivalry between devs led to a deep-code disaster


Re: Out in the fields

"why it hadn't actually been field-tried before release..."

Probably, as at several places I worked, there was no pre-prod environment to test in.

New cars bought in the UK must be zero emission by 2035 – it's the law


Re: Think of the Grid!

"We import quite a bit of electricity. France will make up the shortfall ..."

But France also has to make the changeover. They will need the capacity that they currently export to us. We can't rely on France for electricity any more than we can rely on Russia for gas - even if for different reasons.


Re: Think of the Grid!

Charging at night does not help al that much. The total energy required to charge just cars (ignore vans, buses, lorries, motorcycles ...) is greater than we have available.

Just look up the stats on total miles driven each year, multiply by the charge requirements (about 260Wh/m last time I checked) and compare it with our spare generating capacity. Then there is the question of whether the local distribution network can handle the extra load. I fear that much building of new power stations/wind-farms/whatever is necessary, plus extensive upgrading of the network. Without that the changeover just aint gonna happen. But that's a problem for Labour, so this government doesn't give a toss; they can trumpet their "green credentials" secure in the knowledge that it is Someone Else's Problem.

Postgres pioneer Michael Stonebraker promises to upend the database once more


Re: Blast from the Past

" quel was (still?) arguably better technically."

It took SQL a long time to catch up technically with what quel could do from day 1, e.g. update a table with data from a different table. The underlying problem is that SQL was designed for Cobol programmers, and such folk do not generally understand set theory, recursion, data types, or many other concepts that we geeks took in with our mother's milk.

I first used quel around 1982 in what I think was the first ever commercial RDBMS-based application (analysing market research data). When I was forced to move to Informix and Oracle I found it to be a great leap backwards. It took about 15 years to for SQL to catch up, and its syntax is horribly convoluted; no two implementors implement quite the same syntax, or with the same semantics. Mind you, for several years I made a good living out of those incompatibilities.

I never used Pick, but the people I met who did really loved it.

Bricking it: Do you actually own anything digital?


"I have a lot of physical books.... there's only a few I actually go back and read again"

Has no-ne hear of a public library?


Re: This is why I prefer unrestricted offline-capabilities

"1) When your Internet is out, what do you have for entertainment?!

a. Meet up with friends

b. Listen t the radio (not in USA, if you value your sanity)

c. Read a real book

d. Go for a walk

e. Play a real game: cards, board, chasing around the park ...

f. Play music, assuming you had the foresight to learn an instrument

g. Lots of other things

Philips recalls 340 MRI machines because they may explode in an emergency


Re: If you aren't full of shrapnel you will probably suffocate

"Hopefully this will just blow the windows out"

There aren't any windows in a MRI room

Women in IT are on a 283-year march to parity, BCS warns


Re: Eh?

"Computers being a fairly recent development, which was staffed predominantly by women, and now staffed predominantly by men. Did that change take 283 years?"

If you had asked the question in the late 70s and the 80s you would have found many more women in IT - nearly all of them working in car-punch rooms transcribing data for input to computers*.

It all depends on what you mean by "women in IT".

* Later replaced by key-to-tape, key-to-disk, and then OCR or direct data input.

You don't get what you don't pay for, but nobody is paid enough to be abused


Re: is 10x $$$ normal?

"OpenReach will fix a leased line fiber fault within 5 hours. Or at least that's the SLA, and they take it seriously."

Because the managers lose their bonus, not because of corporate accountability.

To BCC or not to BCC – that is the question data watchdog wants answered


Email is decades old, and it is unsettling that people are still making errors in this way

And so are mailing list servers, from Majordomo to Mailman to ...

They are specifically designed to handle bulk emails, and can be configured to hide the sender's address as well as all the list members. The [l]user cannot make a mistake.


Re: where a sender has misused the 'BCC' field

But many mailers just do not show the Bcc field - unless you know enough to change the defaults,

One partial solution would be to hide Cc by default and only show Bcc.

Bank boss hated IT, loved the beach, was clueless about ports and politeness


Re: The RJ family...

" Now that was a black box with black sockets in it and the relatives eyesight was not what it was"

My pet hate: black-on-black design, of anything - computers, cars, kitchen stoves, hifi, you name it.....

Google dragged to UK watchdog over Chrome's upcoming IP address cloaking


Child protection`

<q>"By monitoring individual IP address activity for each campaign and those IP addresses clicking on keywords 10+ times per day, we have been able to exclude these IP addresses," the purported marketer wrote in early August.</q>

But why are they advertising CSAM material? If they are not doing so, this objection fails.

CompSci academic thought tech support was useless – until he needed it


" the entire point of university degrees is to teach you critical thinking"

When I taught at a (not terribly good UK) university, the impression I got was that the students were only interested in getting a bit of paper at the end; they were not actually interested in the subject, or in being educated.

I left after one year and went back to doing real work.

Cybersecurity snafu sends British Library back to the Dark Ages


"open to visitors but is only accepting cash payments"

So much for the cashless society

13-year Google privacy settlement pays litigants the equivalent of a Big Mac meal


Re: The house wins on Green

"just like the slavery days of America"

In case you had not noticed, slavery is still legal in the USA. The 13th, 14th and 15th amendments to the constitution almost abolish it, but not quite - there are exceptions.

What's unconstitutional about Google keyword search warrants? Nothing, says Colorado Supreme Court


Re: Privacy vs safety

"think of all the crime that would be prevented."

That would be an economic disaster. This of all the locksmiths, lawyers, police, prison officers, court officials, buraucrats etc. who would be out of work. And the knock-on effect on the businesses that serve them.

Not to mention all the smugglers. After all, it was the lowering of the tea tax that provoked the Boston Tea party; Smugglers *like* high taxes; they help to keep the smugglers in business.

Israel and Italy have cheapest mobile data out of 237 countries


Re: Market pricing factors

"only have three different providers like in the US (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile/Sprint)."

And each tends to be a monopoly in its own region, with do-not-compete agreements with the others.

Switch to hit the fan as BT begins prep ahead of analog phone sunset


Re: I want to know the equipment...

I already have VOIP over FTTC (about 100yds to the cabinet) from Zen. Using a Fritzbox 7530 router. I have installed FritzFon on my mobile and now I can receive, but not make, "landline" calls anywhere. The 7530 also acts as a PABX so that mobile handsets can call each other directly without using the public network.

I don't know whether I can configure the Fritz app to use my static IP. It would have to be done from a reasonable distance from the house to dodge the internal IPs, and would require a second person to press a button on the router.

GNU turns 40: Stallman's baby still not ready for prime time, but hey, there's cake


Re: A Complicated Man

"the essence of compromise is everyone being willing to change at least a little bit"

You are clearly not married. If you were you would know that every compromise means doing it the wife's way.

Power grids tremble as electric vehicle growth set to accelerate 19% next year


Re: GridWatch

"However, by 2030, electric power generation and grid capacity could hold back uptake, regardless of price."

Since our grid is already pretty close to overload, there is no way that we can add the charging load of cars (forget vans, taxis, buses, lorries, ...). Just look up the stats on total miles driven each year and multiply by the average energy consumption of a BEV. We need to double our generating capacity, half of the extra to go to charging BEVs, and the other half as a safety margin - which we currently do not have.

Largest local government body in Europe goes under amid Oracle disaster


Re: Great job!

"NHS can't pay nurse a market rate, but they can pay market rate to agency to supply a nurse."

And the agency charges at least double what they would have to pay to employ a nurse - even allowing for overheads. Been there, done that, seen the figures.

Bu then the agency bosses also have to make a living; they are not running a charity.

What happens when What3Words gets lost in translation?


In the UK, the Ordnance Survey's OS Locate app tells you your location,

I love OS grid references, but Google Maps, for one, does not accept them.