* Posts by Mishak

415 publicly visible posts • joined 16 Apr 2021


IR35 costs UK Research and Innovation £36M – the same it spent funding tech projects

Mishak Silver badge

Re: Green Card Day

I was there. I remember the look on the faces of the security guys when we all rolled up at the same time (procedures were changed as a result, even though there was no bother).

And the queue at the desk, where two people were getting the people at the front of the queue to fill in a green card so they could take it to their MP - leaving the rest of the queue waiting until they returned. That was soon sorted when one of the contractors leant over the desk, grabbed a stack of cards and walked down the line saying "fill these in so they only have to make one trip into The Chamber" - stalling tactic circumvented!

A pity it never made the news, unlike the 20 or so people protesting outside for better treatment for the disabled (who did need to be listed too).

UK watchdog won't block Openreach’s discount fiber pricing

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Re: Well then compete...

Not seen any ISPs offering that yet...

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Re: Well then compete...

We were one of the first areas to get BT fibre, and I now have a 1000/100 service from an ISP that runs over it.

I would switch to any altnet that installed in the area, as the costs I've seen are lower and they offer symmetric services - it's really the upload speed I need, and I had to go with the 1000 service (that I don't really need) to get the fastest upload possible.

Virgin Orbit-uary: Beardy Branson's satellite launch biz shutters

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SpaceX got very, very close to failure with Falcon 1 though. They had funds for three rockets, all of which failed. Elon had to look behind the sofa to find enough to complete the fourth - which worked, and got them a launch contract from NASA.

Just goes to show that getting these things off the ground (in both senses) is the tricky part. The rest is history (in both cases).

Nearly 1 in 5 academics admit close encounters of the anomalous kind

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Photo quality

I like the way Elon Musk covered this

Lenovo Thinkpad Z13 just has this certain Macbook Air about it...

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Re: Bone to Pick

True - just make sure you get a dock with PD when you get one to add the ports you need.

Cheapest, oldest, slowest part fixed very modern Mac

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A proper serial interface uses a transceiver to generate voltages in the range ±3v to ±15v. I guess it must not have been able to generate high enough voltages when the battery was low!

Upstart encryption app walks back privacy claims, pulls from stores after probe

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Re: It both is and isn't a hard problem

Which is why Signal also has a "safety number" to validate the user at the other end is the person you think it is.

Offshore wind power redesign key to adoption, says Irish firm

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Another thing to consider

NATO thinks that Russia is actively mining the undersea cables from offshore...

Cisco: Don't use 'blind spot' – and do use 'feed two birds with one scone'

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"hanging processes"

Really? Isn't the "hang" in "hung process" more about it being "tangled up and not able to escape"?

I really wish these people would go away and let the rest of us focus on something important.

Mishak Silver badge

"Inclusive Leadership"

Is that were "unnecessary" middle-manglement now lurk?

Irony alert: Major airport to be interrupted for two hours to replace UPS

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What could possibly go wrong?

Do they have a "fall back" strategy in place?

Dump these insecure phone adapters because we're not fixing them, says Cisco

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Digital signals

I dread to think of the number of projects I've had to rescue where the electronics "engineers" have failed to take into consideration the fact that those nice "digital" signals are really analog.

Shocks from a hairy jumper crashed a PC, but the boss wouldn't believe it

Mishak Silver badge

Pneumatic computer

I'm sure I've told this story before, but...

A friend of mine used to work on systems that used pneumatic computers.These used air and various pipes to form integrators, differentiators, and the like.

However, one of the systems would regularly fail during the night shift, and none of the diagnostics run the following morning threw up anything to help solve the problem. So, my friend was tasked with an all-nighter to keep an eye on the system and have a look at it as soon as it failed.

He got there at the end of his normal working day and sat down with a good book (it was before the days of the internet, after all). Some hours later the night operator arrived with a coffee and took over. The system failed shortly after the replaced worker left the room.

It was at that point that my friend noticed the steam that was being drawn from the coffee cup and into the air inlet of the computer - which wasn't good, as it didn't like damp air! Of course, it had all dried out by morning, which was why the previous attempts to locate the cause had found nothing.

NASA tweaks Voyager 2's power supply to avoid another sensor shutdown

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"legacy Fortran code"

People are still writing new stuff using it, but I really hope it will be gone by then...

US watchdog grounds SpaceX Starship after that explosion

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"and was detonated over Boca Chica"

No, it was well over the sea when that happened. In fact, it was not allowed to fly anywhere near inhabited locations, and the FTS would have destroyed the vehicle much earlier if it had tried to.

Tesla wins key court battle over Autopilot crash blame

Mishak Silver badge

People do pay attention less when they use 'Autopilot'

Which is the exact opposite of what an "autopilot" is supposed to give you - it's purpose is to remove "mundane" workload so that you can focus you attention on more important tasks.

For example, I was involved with the early development of ACC that is now widely deployed and found that its use gives the drive more "processing power" to read traffic:

1) When merging with traffic on a busy motorway/freeway it gives a "heads up" if the person in front of you on the on-ramp brakes when you're checking mirrors / blind spots.

2) Similarly, when in heavy traffic it allows you to dedicate more time to observing other vehicles and checking for anything "unexpected".

Workload reduction is what aircraft autopilots are about - there's a good example by Mentor Pilot where a "member of the public" is challenged to load a 737 simulator with and without the use of the autopilot. This is good at showing how the autopilot takes a lot of the workload away from the "pilot".

Mishak Silver badge


I guess too many people have seen "Airplane!".

Let's take a closer look at these claims of anti-ransomware SSDs

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"if in a few minutes a significant chunk of data on the disk is being written"

Like when I run a script to apply "clang format" to code blocks on 10k+ pages (text files) in a wiki?

Please let there be an "off switch"!

SpaceX's second attempt at orbital Starship launch ends in fireball

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Starship was empty and not loaded with the rated 100 tons

Maybe, but it did have several hundred tons of propellant on board.

Mishak Silver badge

were they trying to separate the first stage by just shaking it off, or something?

Yep, that's just about how stage separation is supposed to work. I think Tim Dodd (Everyday Astronaut) covers this in one of his excellent videos.

Mishak Silver badge

Re: restart supplies

I did, a few hours after it was released. Raptor 2 does not use any consumables for ignition. The exact process has not been disclosed due to ITAR.

Mishak Silver badge

Care to explain the "thumbs down"?

It is a fact that none of these test articles are intended to fly more than once.

Mishak Silver badge

Re: Why did it take three loops to find the launch abort button?

I guess it is also possible that they were still receiving telemetry that was worth recording.

There's nothing worse than ending a long debug session just before you would have seen the cause of a problem...

Mishak Silver badge

Re: Starship hasn't had the most successful history?

Not only that, SN15 only had "feet" for landing rather than lander gear with shock absorbers - they were designed to crush on landing, and would not completely protect the hull from damage.

Another "clue" that they were never intended to fly again was the lack of support mechanisms to "safe" Starship once it was on the ground. In fact, it was much better when they were destroyed as they could just sweep away the bits - with SN15 they had to wait until all of the residual fuel had boiled off before they could approach.

Mishak Silver badge

restart supplies

Nothing needed for a restart other than (basically) a spark plug, so there should be no issue with attempting to restart any engine.

Mishak Silver badge

Re: Why all the cheering before the last 10 seconds?

There was a pause at T-40 to sort a couple of minor issues (booster tank pressure had not reached flight level, purge needed on Starship) - the count on the stream resumed at T-30 (and you could hear cheering).

Mishak Silver badge

5 engines out by the end of it

There were 6 showing as "out" at one point, so it looks as if one may have been restarted - either that, or an instrumentation glitch.

Mishak Silver badge


There is real risk for SpaceX, as they are on fixed-price contracts.

As far as I can remember, SpaceX has only lost two flights (and those were in the early days), which is a lot less than ESA (who do have a good record).

Mishak Silver badge

Re: Starship hasn't had the most successful history?

'Tis but a scratch.

SpaceX feels the pressure, scraps first orbital launch of Starship

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Popcorn at the ready

There's an idea - cover the pad in kernels and reap the reward after the launch.

Mishak Silver badge

The money SpaceX gets...

Is for the provision of services via fixed-price contracts*, not for the supply of pork to fill the barrel.

Sure, they also take advantage of available tax benefits, grants and awards, but these are insignificant when compared to the amount that Musk, the shareholders and other investors have put in over the year.

* Some of which are for R&D, such as on-orbit refuelling - though I doubt the contract will cover the actual costs for this.

Mishak Silver badge

Especially when something like this was planed for, and there is a backup window in a couple of days.

Rust Foundation so sorry for scaring the C out of you with trademark crackdown talk

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The Rust community forked the language under the name Crab

They do want to make it hard for the functional safety community to adopt, don't they?

EU lawmakers fear general purpose AI like ChatGPT has already outsmarted regulators

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"ChatGPT has already outsmarted regulators"

Hardly a high benchmark.

Firmware is on shaky ground – let's see what it's made of

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How far do you go?

Should the firmware for a safety-critical sensor be made available so the device can be hacked?

If so, how does anyone who ends up with one of the devices know that the software has not been modified and that it still satisfies its functional safety requirements? Who is legally responsible if the failure of a modified device leads to an accident?

Or are we only talking about firmware in "consumer electronics"?

Python head hisses at looming Euro cybersecurity rules

Mishak Silver badge

Something needs to be done to protect consumers

But this isn't it, and open-source authors should not be covered.

However, any company that uses open-source within a commercial product should be responsible for ensuring that it is appropriate for the job - which means ensuring* that it does not introduce security or safety vulnerabilities into any product that they place on the market.

* "ensuring" does not mean that it will be defect free, as it is generally impossible to show that is the case. What is required (from a legal perspective) is evidence to show that the chance of a failure is as low as is reasonably practicable (which depends on the the cost/value of the product and costs/risks associated with failure) - which basically comes down to ensuring that development complies with a standard and that artefacts are produced to demonstrate how compliance with that standard has been achieved.

I'm sure there will be a lot of "but that slows us down" and "that stifles innovation", but it doesn't have to. Sure, it will have an impact up front, but it does not have a negative impact on timescales if appropriate processes are used.

CAN do attitude: How thieves steal cars using network bus

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I'm calling bollocks here

The figure did include the boxes, relays, fuses, connectors and the like that were needed in the days before functionality was moved to electronics (there was some for fuel injection, but that was the exception).

This was "for real", and was for a top-of-the-range Merc (I don't remember the model). It was disassembled by the OEM I was working with and placed on large, wooden panels all along the walls of one wing of the electrical design centre for "competitive evaluation" (the OEMs exchanged models as they all did this, and this made the process a lot cheaper)!

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1) the attack is widely known on the internet

Like the Kia Hack

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Re: Network isolation

Back in the early 2000's I designed a CAN "firewall" that basically did that - though it was really there to prevent experimental / development / prototype hardware from corrupting the powertrain CAN.

It's not easy to do though, as you ideally don't want to introduce latency into the messages - I managed to get it down to about 12uS, which was about as good as you could get at the time using "store and forward".

Mishak Silver badge

It would be interesting to see how long it takes "LockPickingLawyer" to get one off.

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Yes, they're not worth a lot if sold for scrap. However, if they are broken down and sold as spares*...

* Which is often why it is well worth negotiating when selling for scrap, as this is what a lot of the scrap (or "breakers") yards do.

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And it's not just the number of wires

When I was contracting with an automotive OEM about 20 years ago, it was not uncommon for the (pre-CAN) wiring harness (+ switches and the like) to weigh in at close to 100Kg. The amount of fuel needed to keep accelerating that mass is not insignificant - especially when the design is on the edge of legislated fuel economy figures.

Mishak Silver badge

Re: Oh my god

Not really, as CAN is a hard real-time bus (which means messages are very time critical). For example, I work on systems where a specific CAN message is sent out 1000 times a second and is used to trigger events in other nodes (setting outputs, sampling inputs). Most nodes run on low-end microprocessors (which are very cheap - you don't want to have to spend an extra few £/$ per node when there are lots of them).

Mishak Silver badge


Either stolen or repossessed!

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Even that isn't always enough

"Transcript" of a conversation at a place I once worked (names "randomised"):

Eve: "Hi Steve, I see you're having trouble with that flashy Toyota Supra again"?

Steve: "What do you mean"?

Eve: "They're loading on to the flatbed now".

Steve: "****".

The car had all sorts of locks and immobilisers, but it still went missing.

Mishak Silver badge

Re: Easily solvable....

I'm not sure how that would help here, as CAN doesn't have anything equivalent to MAC ids?

It's not that easy to protect CAN messages:

1) Some form of payload validation/encryption could be added - this is not really practical, as a lot of systems still use the original CAN protocol, which only supports 8 byte payloads.

2) Some more recent CAN hardware allows the authorised sender of a particular CAN identifier (message) to invalidate any attempt to generate a spoofed message (basically, the "owner" of the identifier intentionally corrupts any transmission that it does not initiate). In this case, the thief would have to disable the security node before the spoof would work.

3) Split the vehicle architecture so that there are multiple CAN buses (this is quite often the case anyway), and ensure that it is not physically possible to access any bus that is security-related from outside of the vehicle. This would not prevent this type of attack, but it would mean that the security system would have a chance to activate some other defence mechanism as it would be able to detect an intrusion via the alarm system.

Apple squashes iOS, macOS zero-day bugs already exploited by snoops

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iOS 15.7.5 also released

Looks like this fixes the same issue for 6S and 7 users.

SpaceX calendar marked with big red circle for 'first Starship launch' this month

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New Reg unit required

16.5 million pounds of thrust - where's the metric for the rest of the world?

Though I think we need a new Reg unit of measure - "UK power grids"; Starship will, for the first 2.5 (ish) minutes of flight, be producing more power than the whole of the UK power grid can provide running flat-out.

Australian bank stops handling cash at the counter in some branches

Mishak Silver badge

Re: Opening hours

Used to be the same in the UK - and they also closed for lunch, so no quick trip to the bank then either!