* Posts by WhereAmI?

82 posts • joined 8 Dec 2020


What happens when a Royal Navy warship sees a NATO task force headed straight for it? A crash course in Morse


Otherwise known as paracetamol in the UK.

Electron-to-joule conversion formulae? Cute. Welcome to the school of hard knocks


Re: Ask the dog - it has an 80% success rate

Context, context, context. My team often sees problems reported in German, French, Spanish and Portuguese. Italian, not so much. We've been dealing with the same set of products for so long that we can all read the problem reports pretty accurately before the official translation arrives. Not one of us can actually speak any of those languages.

You want us to make a change? We can do it, but it'll cost you...


Re: Less than one character per week

I remember my grandfather winding (!!) me up with that one fifty-odd years ago. It took me _forever_ to work it out!


Re: Less than one character per week

I've said that before - frequently.

Off yer bike: Apple warns motorcycles could shake iPhone cameras out of focus forever


I could probably bugger an iPhone in no time flat on my RE 500 (Enfield, not Suzuki!). My fillings try to depart their housings at about 65mph...

There's also the obvious but-not-yet-mentioned: smartphones are not waterproof if they're not ruggidised for that particular application. I was on a ferry yesterday with four multis and a V-twin (Ducati) in front of me and all had various smartphones exposed on the handlebars. The sky was getting a bit black and on that route you either have to go across or around a very, very large block of granite. I did wonder how the phones would survive. As it happened, I got home across the mountains before the Gods of Water decided to take a leak, but I had also passed the Ducati rider stopped at the side of the road where she was carefully packing away the smartphone.

I would never consider doing that. A GoPro plus motorcycle-specific GPS is the only way to be sure that they will survive. Or a cheap Muvi as I found out some years back crossing the Himalayas. The two days of monsoon we hit would have killed a smartphone stone-dead within minutes.

Report details how Airbus pilots saved the day when all three flight computers failed on landing


Re: Searching for flights...

Columbia Airways.

Oh. I forgot - one crashed recently.


Re: how long is each FCPC allowed to be failed for?

The possible failure point I had identified is that if an A320 hits 67 degrees bank angle, all flight computers will switch off leaving the aircraft in Direct Law. It was a contributory factor.


Re: how long is each FCPC allowed to be failed for?

You're right - it was that one I was thinking of. It was the possibility of rebooting all three FACs that I had completely misremembered.


Re: Automation Issue

Known in aviation circles as the 'Habsheim incident'. Automation system flipped into Alpha mode to prevent what it thought was an impending stall and wouldn't let the pilot power away. Pilot was found guilty of something the aircraft wouldn't do. The investigation was carried out by the BEA (the French equivalent of the British AAIB - Aircraft Accident Investigation Board). Unfortunately the BEA are very protective of Airbus and have been caught out in the past blaming pilots when the aircraft was at fault. There is sufficient doubt in the report to engage the possibility that the Habsheim incident was one of those times.


Re: Only on landing?

In any software development:

The first thing you should do before writing the specification is to review what is required and how any changes will affect the rest of the system.

The first thing you do before writing a single line of code is to review the specification.

The first thing you do (or should do) before testing is to review the test specification.

Given the checks and balances inherent in this system, you'd need three incompetent companies for anything major to get by. One of the final tests by the regulatory bodies is to blind-test to ensure that all three offerings do the same thing in the same situations. In this case there was an edge-case failure point which no-one had foreseen.

The only reason I know about the triple system is because I had a very interesting conversation with a gentleman who, at the time, worked for BAe and was involved in Airbus software development.

I think I need to apologise for answering so many posts...


Re: Threshold?

Every aircraft has a landing distance calculated on weight at touchdown. It touched down well within the _normal_ stopping distance for the length of that runway. There's also the possibility of wake turbulence from a previous landing which would make you want to land deeper to avoid it. I once got caught in the wake turbulence of a Boeing 737-200 while landing at Cardiff, Wales; it was not an experience I would ever want to repeat.


Re: Kudos to...

Boeing's problems began when they bought MacDonnell-Douglas and as part of the deal agreed to appoint McD-D board members to run the combined company. Prior to that, Boeing had been engineering-focussed from the top down. McD-D were profit focussed and the smelly stuff started sticking badly when they moved head office from Seattle to Chicago so the C-Suite were no longer in touch with the daily problems.


Re: how long is each FCPC allowed to be failed for?

I've been trying to find it but it escapes me too. Despite the apparent severity it would have been classified as an 'incident' rather than an 'accident' because no-one was hurt and nothing was damaged.


Re: Only on landing?

Have you any idea how long it takes to make a change to aircraft software? Airbus I know, Boeing I don't. It goes like this:

Company 1 writes the specification for Company 2

Company 2 writes the specification for Company 3

Company 3 writes the specification for Company 1

Company 1 writes the software to the specification provided by Company 3

Company 2 writes the software to the specification provided by Company 1

Company 3 writes the software to the specification provided by Company 2

Company 1 test the software written by Company 2

Company 2 test the software written by Company 3

Company 3 test the software written by Company 1

No overlap at all between the three software companies. The fix then has to be approved by the relevant aviation authorities before being rolled out to the aircraft. Meanwhile, unlike the Boeing MCAS or rudder hard-over problems, this is a known edge-case that is quite easily avoided.


Re: how long is each FCPC allowed to be failed for?

Once a flight computer goes offline, it stays offline until it is manually reset at aircraft shutdown. You cannot have a possibly rogue computer restart itself in a critical stage of flight.

When I was involved with the A320-200 some twenty years past, for interest I counted the number of computers on board the aircraft (where 'computer' was any system that took an input, did something with it and provided an output for another computing system) and came up with the astonishing figure of 143. Most of those were triple-redundancy systems. While reading through and absorbing the Airbus IATA manuals I identified a possible serious edge-case failure point in the software where in a given flight regime (otherwise known as an 'unexpected upset') the aircraft could fall back to Direct Law leaving the pilots with no way to control it. Unknown to me at that point was that Gulf Air Flight 072 that had gone down off Bahrain about two months previous had found that edge-case. I didn't feel good at all for a long time afterwards when I found out.

The real balls-of-steel award has to go to the Lufthansa A320 crew who, on running into a series of inexplicable systems failures that they could not clear, cold-booted the aircraft in flight. Yes, cold-booted it as in shut down every system on board, turned the battery off and started again.

WhereAmI? is no longer directly involved in aviation. High-speed motorcycle crashes and aviation medicals don't mix.

Branson (in a) pickle: FAA grounds Virgin Galactic flights after billionaire's space trip veered off course


This is only news because it involves Virgin Galactic. 'Level-busting' happens multiple times a day in the aviation world and almost never causes any problems ('almost' being a percentage way less than zero compared to how often it happens). The only injuries tend to be to the pilots when they get their knuckles rapped.

WhereAmI? is an ex-private pilot, so I might just know a little bit about these things.

Leaked Guntrader firearms data file shared. Worst case scenario? Criminals plot UK gun owners' home addresses in Google Earth


Re: Storage

Yah. We've also got the highest rate of legally-owned firearms in the UK. Given the history of our corner of this green and pleasant land, that makes you think a bit.

How to stop a content filter becoming a career-shortening network component


Re: SquidGuard Logs

Up vote for the Larry Niven reference.

Hacking the computer with wirewraps and soldering irons: Just fix the issues as they come up, right?


Re: Wire-Wrap Gun?

Mag core memory... thanks for the reminder.


Watchdog 'disappointed' it took NHS England over a year to release details of access to Palantir COVID-19 data store


I thought they'd got that anyway c.f. the change in laws in many 'Red' states to tighten control to prevent the huge amount of 'voter fraud' that must have taken place for them to lose to the Blue guys.


Re: Watchdog 'disappointed'

Yeah - more trade is going over the border but at the same time, Boris's Bork has meant that very many supermarket shelves are empty. It's damned obvious when you walk into any of the big ones (Sainsbury, Tesco's, Aldi, ASDA and Lidl) that the cabinets and shelving have been moved around to partially disguise the reduction in choice available to us. My wife is an avid gardener - it's her retreat from the daily grind of the hospital wards - but trying to get mail order plants for the last two years has been an impossible nightmare. The local plant nurseries (and there are a lot of them) have been bare almost to the point of invisibility, but we have tried to buy anyway to help keep them afloat.

Brexit: "it's what you voted for but it wasn't what you were promised". If you voted for it, shut up and suck it up.

British defence supplier Ultra Electronics to be sold for £2.6bn to US-controlled firm


till waiting to see them on the Domino tour... been cancelled here three times now.

See that last line in the access list? Yeah, that means you don't have an access list


Re: was it seman's contracting dicks?

I was one of them. I did it as a part-time course over three months at night. What total waste of money and time - I have rarely been so bored in a tech class. All paper work and no actual hands-on except for the last couple of days.

I only did it because I was expected to. Guess what? Haven't seen a piece of Cisco crit (crap? kit?) from that day to this.

United Nations calls for moratorium on sale of surveillance tech like NSO Group's Pegasus


Re: only way

Upvote for the last line.

HPE UK sales crash after infrastructure projects delayed, but PC-flinging HP Inc watches Brit biz rise


Over-priced and under-specced

Won't go near any HP kit for that very reason. Then there was the time that the company I worked for ordered almost a hundred PCs from HP as part of an update and new rollout pushed mainly by the millenium bug. We were given a delivery date, so we pushed ahead with the ground work to get everything rolled out as quickly as possible. Three days before delivery HP contacted us to say that they wouldn't be able to deliver the quantity ordered. Actually, they wouldn't be able to deliver a single PC. Why not?

They'd sold them to someone else who'd put in a bigger order.


Never had HP kit anywhere else I've worked and sure as Easter loves eggs, you'll never find any of their kit in my house.

Facebook takes bold stance on privacy – of its ads: Independent transparency research blocked


+1 on that. I know I've said this before but it was a long time ago: the one time I had to use Faecesbook was because the information I wanted quite simply wasn't available anywhere else. To access that shithole I built a VM master that was loaded with as many anti-Facebook plugins as I could find. I then cloned it and logged in. I *never* went outside Facebook. When finished, the VM was destroyed. next time I looged on it was with a new clone.

And a shedload of false account details of course.

Happy 60th, Sinclair Radionics: We'll remember you for your revolutionary calculators and crap watches


Re: Calculator

Can't quite beat that. I have a Casio fx-83WA bought just two decades ago and is on its third set of batteries. It saw me through three years of college (I'm not that young - I went back full-time in my Forties). As above, doesn't get too much use these days but is always there when needed.

What is your greatest weakness? The definitive list of the many kinds of interviewer you will meet in Hell


Re: That Meme

You are so not joking about the Israelis being literal-minded. I think our dev team have had the sense of humour lobotomised out of them.

I'm self-taught, mostly. That makes getting some interviews very difficult because... you know.... self-taught. After being in IT (and related fields) for 23 years went to one interview where I was asked almost word-for-word: 'do you have an qualifications to prove that you can do the job you've been doing for the last 23 years?'. To which my response was 'I'm quite obviously only a list filler here and I don't appreciate having my time wasted' and walked out.

Brain-computer interface researchers warn of a 'bleak' cyberpunk future – unless we tread carefully


Wet dreams

What most governments/spy agencies/etc. are having right now.

El Reg visits two shrines to computing history as the UK lifts coronavirus lockdown


My next-door neighbour worked on Bombe no.6 - and that's all she would tell me. She felt herself still bound by the Official Secrets Act some sixty-odd years after the end of the war and long after the expiry of the secrecy surrounding Bletchley Park. She died around ten years ago and I have to say it - taking all that history with her. No names - if she wouldn't tell me a bout the Bombe, I feel it's incumbent on me not to say who she was, but I have seen her name on a list of the Wrens who worked there.

Cyberlaw experts: Take back control. No, we're not talking about Brexit. It's Automated Lane Keeping Systems


Re: "restricted to motorways and to speeds of 37mph"

I have fond memories of tramping round the M25 south side at 03.00 one Monday morning at the unbelievable speed of 70mph+ (we'll gloss over the '+'). The place was (whisper it very, very quietly) almost devoid of traffic.

No, I couldn't believe it either. But I took full advantage of it! :-)

Researchers warn of unpatched remote code execution flaws in Schneider Electric industrial gear


It isn't just inanimate control systems

SCADA is also used to control traffic flow in some very long and very busy tunnels (un-named because I've worked on them). Get access to the PLCs on those systems and you have a body count to figure in too.

Jeff Bezos names the fourth person for the first New Shepard flight: Wally Funk


I really, really, really want to see her fly both New Shepherd and Virgin Galactic. Such a long, long overdue flight.

Fashion titan French Connection says 'FCUK' as REvil-linked ransomware makes off with data


> having penetrated its back-end - making off with a selection of private internal data

Was it all brown clothing?

FYI: There's a human-less, AI robot Mayflower ship sailing from the UK to US right now


Icebergs - maybe not so much as it can see those. A whale trying to scratch its back could be a problem.

When security gets physical: Mossad boss hints at less-than-subtle Stuxnet followup


I understand the downvotes because my analogy wasn't as good as it could have been. If I had added 'and there is no police force to turn to' it may have been better. Iran has promised Israel with nuclear mayhem, whatever it might cost Iran to deliver it. How, in law, is it possible to stop Iran from nuking Israel without Israel going after the source of the threat?

And no, I am not a fan of some of Israel's responses. At all.


Re: This is terrorism

So... your neighbour doesn't like you and is mixing ammonium nitrate bombs in his shed with the stated intention of blowing up your house and killing all of your family. You are going to let him continue and then call the police after he has committed that act. Spot the problem.

Today I shall explain how dual monitors work using the medium of interpretive dance


Re: Laptop + Monitor = two computers?

We get supplied with pretty powerful (where pretty powerful = can run a VM inside them easily) laptops and dual 24" monitors as a matter of course when in the office. WFH, I didn't bother bringing the monitors home because I already have two 32" monitors here. I log in to the laptop from the desktop via Radmin which unfortunately only gives me a single monitor view and 'make up' for the loss of the second monitor by using Stardock Groupy to ensure I don't lose windows in the background.

Indian Finance Minister throws Infosys under the bus as new e-tax portal fails on first day


Ah right. So that means more interest on the stuck payments for the govt.

Royal Yacht Britannia's successor to cost about 1 North of England NHS IT consultancy framework


IIRC the previous Britannia was also on standby as a wartime hospital ship. Possibly the same will be applied here too.

Why did automakers stall while the PC supply chain coped with a surge? Because Big Tech got priority access


Re: "a lot of power merely amplifies mistakes"

See Northern Ireland. Must display 'R' (Restricted) plates, 45mph restriction and no motorways for the first year. Unfortunately there's no BHP restriction and I've seen R-plates on some pretty high-powered Mercs. Also note this: in the UK it takes two tests to get a full car licence and between three and six tests to get a full motorcycle licence, depending on the path you take. For motorcycles there are also BHP restrictions at various stages. Some years ago there was consideration being given to rolling out similar restrictions + BHP restrictions across the UK, but the idea was canned because of the outcry from cage and proto-cage drivers. Motorcyclists and proto-motocyclists were, of course, ignored.

India, Twitter brawl in public as latest content rules begin to bite


Re: Broad brush.

IME once you get north of the Sutlej River it all changes again as you move out of Hindu-dominated areas into Bhuddist-dominated areas. I guess the other thing is that you're now into the mountains proper and sel-reliance is an absolute must. I found that the villagers couldn't do enough for you.

But yes, to get back on topic, Modi is simply going with what he promised at the election; Hindu domination where everybody else is in the wrong. Controlling the narrative is just one arm of the policy.

Parliament demands to know the score with Fujitsu as Post Office Horizon scandal gets inquiry with legal teeth


Re: Typical bullcrap

So you don't work for Boeing then?

Nvidia nerfs RTX 3080, 3070, 3060 Ti GPUs to shoo away Ethereum miners


Re: Market abuse...

I've just paid £1200 for a s/h Palit RTX2080Ti because my original GPU died and I needed one _now_ for work. In the current stupidity I counted myself lucky to have found one but it leaves a really sour taste in the mouth. £1200 was the original MMR for that card on release. How far do you want prices to go? £2K per video card? £3K?


Go away and consider carefully what you have just said.

You want a reboot? I'll give you a reboot! Happy now?


Re: Excellent Foresight, an Avid Fan of Enriching Enlightening Hindsight for Divine Experiences

Dammit - I thought he might be away flying helicopters. No such luck, it seems.

Quality control, Soviet style: Here's another fine message you've gotten me into


Re: Not a translator

From another ex-Dorset man: I moved to Northern Ireland and ended up studying in the US after going back to uni in my early Forties. They couldn't get their heads round the fact that I might live in Northern Ireland but I wasn't Irish!

I gave up...

Oracle vs Google: No, the Supreme Court did not say APIs aren't copyright – and that's a good thing


Re: Book Titles

That one, I understand, is down to the miraculous money-making properties of a mouse who once captained a steamboat. His parent insists on protecting the poor wee fella for as long as they possibly can - first they started with 25 years, then they pushed it to 50 years and now they still want to change his nappies (diapers) at 75 years old. I understand they intend to do this for a few years yet.

Lucky mouse.

Another successful flight for SpaceX's Starship apart from the landing-in-one-piece thing


Re: SpaceX have turned rocket science into Spaghetti Engineering

Hmm. That page needs updating - Laika died within hours from overheating, but the Soviets (of course) could not admit this until 2002.


Cryptic US Strategic Command tweet reveals dangers of working from home with kids in the way


Re: So ";l;;gmlxzssaw" is a child, eh?

Upvoted for the "Are You Being Served?" reference. A definately not-PC program in this day and age but bloody hilarious even now.



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