* Posts by Binraider

313 posts • joined 7 Jul 2020


The Eigiau Dam Disaster: Deluges and deceit at the dawn of hydroelectric power


The former Wylfa Nuclear power station's output was majority used for aluminium production too. The nuke outlived the aluminium foundry of course, offshore production and shipping it back here became cheaper than making it local.

Intel made $2bn+ takeover offer for RISC-V chip darling SiFive – report


Is this a takeover to shut down the competition, or a takeover to take advantage of the IP and people... maybe both.

AMD get CMAed for trying to buy a flash memory outfit. Double standards, anyone?

Linus Torvalds tells kernel list poster to 'SHUT THE HELL UP' for saying COVID-19 vaccines create 'new humanoid race'


Very reserved and reasoned argument all things considered. One can of course answer nonsense with nonsense and give the morons a simple #wibble

Australian cops, FBI created backdoored chat app, told crims it was secure – then snooped on 9,000 users' plots


How does one not know that Tor or other "anonymising" tools aren't cleverly planted tools on the part of the agencies to facilitate either their own exfiltration of data, the gathering of human or signals intelligence, or even to direct action.

Of course they use the dark web. They may have been involved in the creation of it.

There's a saying, where there's smoke, there's fire. Stay out if you don't want to get burned.

The only truly secure system remains the one time pad. And that still depends on absolute trust in the distribution of the key. All other security measures are merely inconveniences for the truly determined. (And might in fact be used to catch you out, if you are up to no good).

Cue usual questions about who watches the watchmen.

Version 8 of open-source code editor Notepad++ brings Dark Mode and an ARM64 build, but bans Bing from web searches


Isn't it amusing how people that do heavy text editing for anything other than DTP / Word are returning to Black screen / Coloured text. Rather than White screen and the inevitable white glare induced headaches? Anyone would think they have to look at crappy reflective glare-filled laptop monitors all day, every day...

People used to think I was weird for using dos edit right up to WinXP in preference to other editors stuffed into corporate build. I mean, features like a row and column display - cutting edge!

Notepad++ must have made a mark on someone in our IT organisation as someone has gone to the bother of paying to get it packaged. Definitely not arguing, it is one of my favourite windows programs. This is yet another improvement.

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


Re: Floating Point Fault. had got different results

Python, for all of it's usefulness, weak type checking is a major bugbear. Especially when you have a couple thousand variable names to work with.


Can we have ECC RAM supported by regular chipsets, please. Like we had certainly in the late 90's / early 2000's off the shelf. The sheer quantity of RAM and reduced tolerance to radiation means probability of bitflips are rather greater today than before.

Either AMD or Intel could put support back into consumer chipsets as an easy way to get an edge over competitors.

Regarding, CPU's, there's a reason satellite manufacturers are happy using a 20 year old architecture and manufacturing process at 200nm. Lower vulnerability to radiation-induced errors. (And using SRAM rather than DRAM too for same reason). Performance, cost, "tolerable" error. Rather less practical to roll back consumer performance (unless you fancy getting some genuinely efficient software out in circulation).

Oracle hits UK reseller with lawsuit for allegedly reselling grey market Sun hardware


Given that Sun Systems we still had in production 20 years after their release were very definitely only supported by the Grey Spares market; what exactly is Oracle's problem here? Do they want us using their hardware and software or not?

We don't need a $250,000 sparc 7 plus ongoing support contract. Not when off the shelf bits do the same job better, today. It was rather different in 1997 when getting a good server meant getting something outside of X86.

Decommissioning the old ones was left as long as possible because it required new software to be developed. That would be no different if adopting current Sparc hardware.

Maybe obscene hardware pricing and poor after sales support (unlike Sun of old, who were excellent) are why Oracle aren't shifting units any more; and have had to lay off a ton of staff. Only those tied completely to the need for the Sparc architecture are sticking about. And if you have those ties, you should be thinking about undoing them.

All very sad really but it's the end of the line for that particular avenue of tech short of some miraculous reinvention. Or, preferably, Oracle offloading SUN and SPARC IP to someone that can do something good with it.

Microsoft to unveil 'what's next for Windows' ... Rounded corners and what else?


Given that I passionately hate the 10 UI (particularly the 3-control panels, plus registry plus powershell), overhauling the user experience would be welcomed.

A compatibility layer that runs inside any host OS of choice and absolute minimal runtime of anything else please. That would be a good UI overhaul.

Antivirus that mines Ethereum sounds a bit wrong, right? Norton has started selling it


It's certainly easier in areas with cheap electricity - and stolen qualifies as cheap.

Running up a landlord's bills dumb enough to include electricity in the price is one way. Get booted out? Move to another unsuspecting landlord afterwards.

Rather more sensibly, a big off grid solar/wind/battery setup is absolutely viable if you have the chunk of change to start it up. If you've got that kinda cash; I imagine you are probably better setting up stuff offshore, in somewhere with cheap energy.

All things considered, however, if you're looking to start now you've probably already missed the speculation party, as the useful features of crypto shift to other formats the value moves onto efficient service provision rather than Tulip mania.


Tools with the Norton name in the DOS era had their uses. I preferred Xtree Gold. Haven't touched them ever since.

Wouldn't know where to start these days with AV / Malware detection on Windows. Too many compromises on performance and security regardless of which supplier you pick. (Russian origins? Nope. Or US-ian bloatware? Nope).

Fortunately I don't use Win anymore in any environment I manage myself.

Firefox 89: Can this redesign stem browser's decline?


If Firefox wants market share, they need to get it deployed in offices. Chrome is the new corporate default, for no especially good reason. Not even an option in our package manager. And the ignorant will say why do you want another web browser? (Plus packaging overheads)


Re: What does it take...

We know about it all right, but computers are complex beasts even if you know what you are doing. Do things properly and simplify, preferably with minimum attack surface. The exact opposite of what every OS peddler has done for decades.

AMD teases '3D V-Cache' tech that stacks cores and SRAM, delivers 15% boost to today's Ryzen CPUs


Looking past the marketing spiel - where is Intel on this? The idea of 3d stacking lattices and RAM has been knocking about several years now. Provided the chip yield works out this is amazing. As far as I can tell yield is the only remaining advantage of Intel's older processes.

Mildly annoying it's a CPU socket change in the next model rather than fitting older boards (yay, more e-waste) though to be fair, we all knew the 3000/5000 were going to share a socket with the one after on a new board.

Intel finds a couple more 11th-gen Core chips, one hits 5.0GHz in laptops


I know I'm only regurgitating what reviewers have already said about these - but CAVEAT EMPTOR!

A CPU that can go to 5GHz for 5ns then throttle to 2.8GHz because of terrible thermal design is pointless. Buying a laptop with an i9 label does not mean it's better than an i7 because of this.

Thank god some system integrators have recognised the capability of the hardware and fitted an appropriately scaled thermal arrangement.

I don't particularly regard battery life as a concern for my usage; however, Intel vs. AMD in battery consumption land is hugely in favour of the latter too.

What does this mean for prospective buyers who don't know what they are doing? They get an overpriced, poor performing lump they'll get annoyed with, and possibly think of looking at the alternatives instead. (Cough, M1...Or hell, even Chromebook.)

Computer Misuse Act: Tell the Home Office infosec needs a public interest defence in law, says CyberUp campaign


Re: Additionally

If wilful connection of compromised equipment is a crime; then does that not mean that every single Windows installation in the land is a crime? Or is one sort of spyware/malware more legitimate than another just because one comes from Seattle; the other comes from some shady business park outside Moscow?

To say nothing of the millions of compromised, unpatched routers shipped by ISP's with default passwords. (Or many, many other devices for that matter).

Intent is the best thing to legislate for rather than method. You can buy a knife. What you do with it is your choice, and some applications are rather less legal than others!


Re: Rather than a defence...

Firstly, a distinction must be made between investigation of an exploitable vulnerability and the acts of exploiting or publicising one.

If a supplier isn't responding to fair warning to fix something, publicising it might be the only way to get them to fix it. Both investigation and publication therefore, are legal activities. Also, what if the supplier no longer exists? Or it is on a product "out of support". I've had suppliers basically say go *#$3 yourself, buy a new one if you want updates. Funnily enough, we don't use them anymore.

In my line of work, hardware routinely is kept for 50+ years, and microelectronics or PLC's well over 20 years. So, being out of support or out of existence are both very real.

Secondly, authorisation for investigation is not always obtainable - e.g. where a system owner fails to respond to an alert.

As above; if the supplier does not respond or no longer exists, in neither case should it be criminal.

I'd shift the definition of Computer Misuse to those individuals that choose to attack a system for purposes of theft, ransom, disruption, sabotage, terrorism etc.

The reason I'd do so, is that investigative techniques to detect weaknesses have to involve probing attacks on a given system.

There is no practical way to legislate for every possible scenario therefore the solution has to move away from prescriptive can and can-nots.

The Home Office will need to overturn a long legacy of failure to achieve ambition of all-digital border by 2025


Re: Curious

Sir, you have just made the case for getting a passport regardless of whether you intend to use it for travel or not.

Really, what's the point of a duplicate ID and Passport system when one is widely accepted and does the job well.

And regarding cross-purpose databases - I remind you that a Doctor can recommend you should not drive, but they cannot tell the DVLA. Such things allow dangers to society behind the wheel of 2-tonne death machines

I totally understand the potential to use and abuse personal data in this manner, but when we're talking quangos and government the fact of the matter is the data can be cross referenced, if you put your mind to it. A central database, properly normalised and secured of course, could significantly reduce civil service/quango overheads and improve "societal" services.

This is absolutely no different to the banks putting two and two together regarding your transaction history to make observations like "likely has credit card with another provider" to provide sales personnel an avenue to try and flog you something. And I'm pretty sure the police can request your bank statements if they have justifiable cause to do so.

Privacy is nothing more than an illusion in this digital age. But then I'm the sort of tech nerd that misses sneakernet and pre-internet.


Fully digital. Lol. I've had nothing but trouble with the digital passport readers ever since they went live.

Talking to the good people that actually work the border, the problems partly stem from the paper and laminate being used, in many passports (including British ones). They are too reflective so the scanner often struggles to do anything - necessitating you leaving the electronic queue to join the meatbag queue instead.

Dropping paper means going for some sort of silicon or magnetic format instead, which in either case the potential to break is vastly more obvious to break than the extremely hard to forge paper setup. Full digital by contrast - buy an appropriate flash ROM burner and you're good to go.

Like ballot papers, sometimes simple is the best and most secure solution. Don't just go digital because marketing. Throwing people at a problem instead of a giant IT exercise may well be more effective and cheaper.

Be careful, 007. It’s just had a new coat of paint: Today is D-day for would-be Qs to apply to MI6


Re: Cover

Sounds rather like the Civil Servants in Cheltenham?

10+ users can lead to washout: Data lakes struggle with SQL concurrency, says Gartner


This is not a new problem. Data races and concurrency questions have sat over multi threaded and multi user systems since the dawn of computing.

It's 2021, and the fact that this is still a question says a lot about the frivolous use of computing resources, because they are cheap and widely available as opposed to using them in an appropriately planned manner.

EVE online manages market concurrency for tens of thousands of players. The stock markets and banks have been doing rather more, for an awful lot longer too.

Big data and Cloud. Hah. Marketing names to re-invent 70's computing paradigms that had become unpopular. The hardware's changed but not the ideas.

Ultimately, you need an appropriate cataloguing system or systems for your data, to ensure referential integrity - and appropriate data locking rules. If you've not got them, go back to square one and try again.

China announces ‘crackdown’ on Bitcoin mining and trading


System to be avoided - soon to be replaced by system to be banned? Giving fair warning to Chinese game-players to exit before the real crash.

And as an outsider, if you didn't sell at the peaks of 40+k just as this was kicking off you probably shouldn't be investing... Or should watch what you are doing more closely.

Cryptotransaction capabilities absolutely have a purpose, but BTC is a relatively poor implementation. It was the first of course; and serves as a useful developmental step towards a more permanent system.

Ponzi trading around crypto is, well, what it is. Gamble only if you know what you are getting into and are prepared to lose.

China all but bans cryptocurrencies


Re: Bitcoin’s price has dropped around 1.5 per cent in the last 24 hours.

Dump a BTC wallet on a NVME disk, fly to more a more permissive country to sell. The price differential and cheap (dirty) energy in China would still make it economically viable!


Re: "And then there’s the Digital Yuan"

It's useful to the black market, and those looking to bypass cross border transaction charges or taxation.

It is arguably, therefore, a tool which aids if not facilitates crime. Anyone mining is, indirectly,also facilitating crime. No better reason to kill it completely. (And much spilled milk to accompany it).


Re: Bitcoin’s price has dropped around 1.5 per cent in the last 24 hours.

Given the slow transaction time the crash might have already happened by the time you read this.

I'm not surprised that China was first at imposing restrictions, but how long until they cease farming activities? Banning trade doesn't ban production...

Internet Explorer downgraded to 'Walking Dead' status as Microsoft sets date for demise


That's great. Now, how about the many application vendors stuck in IE update their stuff to work in anything that actually is supported?

I'm particularly thinking of SAP, that mandatory corporate app that doesn't play nice (at least not in the implementation I'm subjected to) with anything but IE.

Microsoft hits Alt-F4 on Windows 10X: OS designed for dual-screen PCs axed


Re: Look what the education system has created

Faux, failed exec marketing speak is generally an alarm bell. People who write like this have only duplicitous motives in mind!

In my experience, directors want to know who, what, why, when and how get results. Folks resorting to fluff - meh.

That'll be about 9/10th of Microsoft, then.

Audacity's new management hits rewind on telemetry plans following community outrage


Re: Everyone losing their shit over telemetry in Audacity...

I don't get the downvotes on this. The only slurp anywhere near MS' level of slurping is at Google.


Re: Telemetry

I'm afraid Chris you can't restrict it anywhere near as much as you suggest. Server 2019 allows you to genuinely switch it off; but a cursory look at traffic on my Pihole with Win10 booted up in "minimal" telemetry modes sees more URL's being accessed at Microsoft addresses than anything else combined.

What part of no data leaves my machine without my permission do MS or Muse not understand. It's quite simple really - I won't be using either by choice any time soon.

What exactly do they want to know anyway? How much typical users click on certain menus? How often do you have to resort to help to find certain help items? Get a half decent UI designer and talk to your users, don't just blindly bloody spy on them.

The problem principally is that for all the legit reasons to spy, there are whole bunch of nefarious ones to do so to. Trust is earned, not bought with marketing.

James Webb Space Telescope runs one last dress rehearsal for its massive golden mirrors before heading to launchpad




Dragon wouldn't be doing any servicing missions, if nothing else it hasn't the delta V to do it. But an appropriately configured Starship - or even SLS/Orion would be capable of doing so. It might be a better use for the latter in fact.

There were various extended range options for the Orbiter considered like doubling up on the SRB's but they never made it off the page. Perhaps for the best.

10.8 million UK homes now have access to gigabit-capable broadband, with much of the legwork done by Virgin Media


Re: So close, and yet so far

The odds of actually speaking to a person at Vermin are near zero. All their customer service interactions follow pre-set scripts and if you don't fit, your message isn't received. Probably not understood either.

We still begrudgingly use them for the time being, however as Starlink's latency improves I have absolutely zero reason to stay tied to a wire. On a long enough time frame, Vermin and OpenReach are both dead.

Russian cyber-spies changed tactics after the UK and US outed their techniques – so here's a list of those changes


There's a well documented case of western cyber antics leading to a full blown pipeline explosion in the Soviet Union. One wonders if such antics were motivating factors in Russia prioritising the development of it's own capabilities.

Of course it was...

Britain to spend £22m influencing Indo-Pacific nations' cybersecurity policies against 'authoritarian regimes'


Correcting myself. We sold Argentina the Sea Dart, not the Sea Wolf. But point still stands!


You do know the Arg navy had the type 42 destroyer and sea wolf of British origin. And the German Roland SAM.

SAP co-founder's charitable arm made investments in a joint venture with the software giant


SAP - that "upgrade" that the stock markets expect big corporates to install. It's 2021, tabulating machines for business have been around a very long time, has no-one actually came up with one that is desirable yet?

Train operator phlunks phishing test by teasing employees with non-existent COVID bonus


This is an interesting one. We have ran exercises with deliberate "signatures" of phishing mails to see what proportions a) just deleted it, b) reported it, or c) clicked on the link. But the lure was not quite so "tasty" as one promising a COVID thankyou bonus; a not implausible lure I have to say.

It raises the question whether "important" corporate messages be sent by email at all?

At one point we were considering a USB dead drop exercise of a similar nature; to see who is daft enough to plug in any random stick they find in the car park in... Though this was kyboshed by precisely the sort of concerns flagged here.

The needs of the businesses have evolved beyond the technologies and ideas of 1980's email; it is surely time for a more suitable replacement to be developed?

US declares emergency after ransomware shuts oil pipeline that pumps 100 million gallons a day


Re: gallons

Remind me who crashed a spacecraft into Mars because they couldn't work with Metric and Imperial at the same time?

The SI system is there for a good reason. Use it.


Re: gallons

I definitely agree with your sentiment about gallons. Energy is often traded in terms of units of energy (kW).

Natural gas for example, if you burn 1 cubic meter of it at one standard atmosphere, the useful energy output varies with respect to the ambient air temperature when you try and ignite it.

There are at least 6 sets of standard conditions used around Europe for differing standard temperatures. This not without good reason, burning an otherwise identical unit of natural gas in Barcelona with it's higher ambient temperature will give marginally more useful energy out than burning it in Stavanger. There is obviously a historical difference also to be found in gas sources from region to region e.g. North sea oil derived gas is usually a bit more energy rich than LNG per unit volume.

Can lead to some interesting debates where the uneducated see 100MW of gas leaving one country but only 99.7MW arriving on the other side! (Because of the difference in reference conditions).

As was noted above, measuring stuff is hard, and stupid non-metric unit systems only make it harder.

Compsci boffin publishes proof-of-concept code for 54-year-old zero-day in Universal Turing Machine


A logical memory model clearly identifying program RAM and length, and data RAM and length would go a long way to addressing this type of exploit... Rather than just a contiguous address space. Not new ideas, but do they make it to hardware or software implementations? Without bugs in their own right... That'll be a nope

‘Staggering’ cost of vintage Sun workstations sees OpenSolaris-fork Illumos drop SPARC support


It wasn't that long ago we decommissioned our UltraSPARC IIs... Spares came from eBay for years. We replaced it, unsurprisingly with X86_64.

There wasn't really any choice in the matter, the price tag associated with current SPARC is utterly obscene; no matter how well designed they are.

'A massive middle finger': Open-source audio fans up in arms after Audacity opts to add telemetry capture


3 days is long enough to fork it surely?

Which? warns that more than 2 million Brits are on old and insecure routers – wagging a finger at Huawei-made kit


Re: Branded routers are usually worse

Curious. Where does Virgin stand on this - you can put the router into dumb modem mode to use your own, but can you actually replace the modem?

Visual Basic 6 returns: You've been a good developer all year. You have social distanced, you have helped your mom. Here's your reward


I think I'd far rather support Francois Lionet's AMOS2 project...

Chipmaker TSMC to build 'up to five' more factories in Arizona


I may have to re-learn how to play Next War : Taiwan... The Korea game was quite complex enough!

Samsung stops providing security updates to the Galaxy S8 at grand old age of four years


Samsung, contributing only ever so slightly less to the e-waste problem than (some) other Android makers. Don't you just love the greenwashing?

Hate phones. Hate phone culture. The only way to avoid is not to join!

Not so fast, SpaceX: $3bn NASA Moon landing contract blocked by rivals' gripes


Not really a surprise to see an audit given the value of the decision. However, by failing to compete on price, and not being able to achieve the requested delivery dates; then you have lost the competition, by the terms of the competition.

This being the likely legal interpretation is one thing, but what about the moral one? A bunch of hard working scientists and engineers working for a company whose income is at risk; at risk of looking for a job.

The culture of cost cutting through competition rather misses the point of work; to create and distribute wealth. This isn't unique to the space industry, and can be seen just about everywhere.

The race to the bottom is real and for some reason, we keep voting for it?!

Bitcoin is ‘disgusting and contrary to the interests of civilization’ says famed investor Charlie Munger


Cryptocurrency has several desirable features, chiefly the ability to conduct transactions across borders with minimal middlemen.

Unfortunately the speculation applications of crypto are a pile of baloney and detract from its advantages.

Bitcoins days are numbered to when the sell-off "happens". It's inevitable there will be a few winners and many losers from it. Alternative crypto formats beat bitcoins design. The transaction speed of bitcoin is now so slow the sell-off/crash may happen before anyone knows it's happened.

Where retailers accept bitcoin for payment, what happens to the VAT on the goods (just one example where the outcome is unclear, and if govt wakes up to tax losses could clampdown on the use of the currency)

FCC gives SpaceX the go-ahead to drop Starlink satellite orbits by 500 kilometres or so


Re: Fun with Cable Ratings

The idea of the large charging stations directly connected to the transmission grid at motorway services is a good one, and is capable of delivering those very large quantities of power more or less without blinking. Assuming the consumer end of the charger can be constructed in a way to make them safe for Joe Average to use.

But down at distribution levels, stuff coming into your street, neither the network, nor the investment in the network is there. And it would be a very, very large investment to be able to put chargers throughout, let alone fast chargers.

There are other not so minor considerations about what you do with areas like Newcastle city centre Jesmond; nobody parks outside their own house. Standardised charging point plugs are a joke (just look at how many adapters are on the average Ecotricity point) and the billing method also to be worked out.

It is all technically possible, but it needs the financial backing to do so.


Fun with Cable Ratings

A Tesla Model S - battery apparently holds about 100kWh. Some good old GCSE physics goes a long way to explaining why a 5 min charge is near-ludicrous.

The power delivery required for a full charge is about 1200kW of DC power (100*60/5). That means pumping 5000A at 240VDC, or about 2900A at 415VDC. (Using P=V*I). Ignoring losses.

A cable capable of handling that kind of power is a pretty chunky lump of copper. For comparison, a quad-bundle transmission overhead line handles about 4000A of continuous load. That'll be at about 75 degrees C or so. So you have to add heavy insulation to your conductor to allow it to be picked up. And also limit the maximum surface temperature. You'll be hard pressed to get a cable to take that load without a decently long cooldown period between uses while observing those practical temperature limits.

Higher voltages help, but that carries other, obvious problems.

Throw in the fact that your local substation probably can't handle many loads that big, and the infrastructure coming from the sub to every house on your suburban estate definitely can't take that much.

All things considered a 15-20 min recharge with a coffee is rather more sensible a proposition than a 5 minute turbocharge.

If matching the convenience levels of existing chemical tech with electricity is the goal, a whole lot more infrastructure is needed (and who is paying for it / who is borrowing the money to do it / who gets it first etc?)



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