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* Posts by David Roberts

1402 posts • joined 25 Jan 2007


Mobile networks are killing Wi-Fi for speed around the world

David Roberts Silver badge

Re: Fixed operators to... "shape up to 5G or face sliding into irrelevance"

VM and WiFi - our latest Tivo box stubbornly refuses to connect over Ethernet but will work over WiFi. I assume they aren't that bothered because most people don't have wired Internet throughout the house.

Oh, I wish it could be Black Friday every day-aayyy, when the wallets start jingling but it's still a week till we're paiii-iid

David Roberts Silver badge

Having a bad week

Twinged my back and on pain killers so somewhat spaced.

I bought a Black Friday bargain bluetooth speaker and kept thinking "I know there's some reason I shouldn't have done that.".

Now waiting for it to charge before playing the linked track by steel....and thinking "Steelers Wheel? Steeleye Span? I'm sure I know that wierd looking guy holding the blue knob...".


Where to implant my employee microchip? I have the ideal location

David Roberts Silver badge

Re: 'One day he'll give up and take a dump on my pillow instead'

@CrazyOldCatMan do what we do. Buy a second litter tray so one can be soaking whilst the other is in use.

Six critical systems, four months to Brexit – and no completed testing

David Roberts Silver badge

Re: Time running out - service industries

This is why, yeah those many years ago, I advised our children to learn a second language (Spanish was a good option) and plan to emigrate to a country which had major natural resources to fall back on if shit happened to service industries.

At the time I was working on the theory that "knowledge industries" were very transportable to cheaper areas of the world. Only basic raw materials were tied to a country.

I didn't have Brexit in mind, but it may unfortunately prove me right.

One gone, other has long term options which may pan out. Meanwhile the crumblies are currently stuck here as more and more possible destinations lock down immigration. Partly because of Brits running for cover, but mainly because Chinese and Indians seem to be getting their money out whilst they can and buying up all the property.

That Old Time 2018 IT songbook: Verity, Verity - give us your lyrics, do! We're half crazy, all for the love of you

David Roberts Silver badge

Modem song. :-)

One thing about Virgin Media is that the engineers come out for free.

None of that "If it turns out to be your fault you are in deep shit!" malarkey.

Happened to me twice; first time when I removed a rats nest of legacy BT wiring by the front door. Turns out that VM link into your current internal wiring as well as providing their own master socket. Second time was when the builders went a little too deep when extending the drive and scraped the buried cable. $Deity knows what it would have cost if Open Reach had been supporting the connection.

Brit boffins build 'quantum compass'... say goodbye to those old GPS gizmos, possibly

David Roberts Silver badge

Re: Inertial navigation system

Yes. An inertial navigation system to tell you precisely where you are. Part of that can also tell you which way you are pointing.

A compass doesn't care where you are it just tells you where North is (for various values of North).

Can your rival fix it as fast? turns out to be ten-million-dollar question for plucky support guy

David Roberts Silver badge

Re: Ah, memories

But I might have been intending to pick up the tablet from the charging stand in the bedroom.....

Also, check printer for output still leaves you wondering if you should go back downstairs to check the PC....

David Roberts Silver badge

Ah, memories

Or lack of same.

Been there, done that, shit happened, fixed it (usually).

But that was long ago, and in another country. And besides, the wench is dead.

I have no idea how you remember the blow by blow (or bit by byte) interaction 20 years or more down the line. I have problems when I climb the stairs deciding if I need the bathroom or was collecting output from the printer.

Bloke 'lobbed molotov cocktails' at Street View car because Google was 'watching him'

David Roberts Silver badge

Re: The guy is clearly a nutter!

I own a VW Touareg (also known as a Toerag).

Nice car. Goes like a..... ummmm.......bomb?

The one with a copy of VCDS in the pocket. Thank you.

Diss drive: Seagate and IBM bring blockchain sledgehammer to compliance nuts

David Roberts Silver badge

Hard drives vs SD cards

I understand there is a trade in SD cards (and USB memory sticks) where the real memory is far less than the badge. I also understand that the software in the controller is written to falsely report the capacity.

Unless the HDD has the controller software modified to falsely report the capacity, I'm not sure what this utility gives you. If you buy a drive, plug it in and the OS reports that it is 2 Gig not 4 Gig (for example) then you know that you have been duped without asking about a blockchain entry. Your recourse is surely the same if it just shows the wrong capacity when mounted, or when mounted and a blockchain query issued.

The SMART data may also give some clues, unless you can reset this to look like a new drive.

If, of course, all the controller data can be rewritten (as with SD cards) to make the HDD present as a different drive when mounted then having a cryptographic verification of the drive ID would make sense. As long as the blockchain ID couldn't be cloned. If someone is deep in the firmware and rewriting the controller software then presumably anything is possible. Including virus infections (IIRC you can mess around with the controller software on USB sticks to infect devices. Not the same interface, though.).

Windows 10 Pro goes Home as Microsoft fires up downgrade server

David Roberts Silver badge

Re: The joke is on you! Alcohol and a cat

Damn. I thought I turned the web cam off!

Does it count that the cat is significantly older than the single malt?

Windows XP? Pfff! Parts of the Royal Navy are running Win ME

David Roberts Silver badge

Millenial/Gen X

As I understand it, these days Millenial starts with born in 1980.

However I know of those born in the early '80s who firmly self identify as Generation X.

So sympathy to the 1st Leftenant (Lieutenant?).

My hoard of obsolete hardware might be useful… one day

David Roberts Silver badge

Me again.

I didn't mention the Atari 520 (or is it a 1040?) STE in the loft somewhere with 4 Mb memory which was scrapped from Sun workstations, an externat HDD (8") in a box the size of a stack stereo component (I think the drive was ESDI) plus colour and mono screens, games and office utilities (I learned spreadsheets on a Lotus 123-alike. Backwards compatability means the commands still work today), plus a Lego compatible robotics kit and a load of Lego (which may well be worth more than the computer). Oh, and somewhere there is a dot matrix printer to go with it.

I'm scared to fire it all up in case it doesn't work.

Oh, and on a non-computing front I had rickets as a kid (blame rationing) so my parents bought a sun ray lamp. Still in the loft. Works by creating a mercury arc light with real mercury. Puddles of it. Looking at the wiring I would be reluctant to fire (!) it up now but it is still a bit of awesome technology.

David Roberts Silver badge

Re: Freecycle it!

Downvoted for being behind the times.

Ten years ago I could Freegle stuff. These days nobody wants to take things away. Hurts me to throw stuff, but the effort is no longer worth it.

David Roberts Silver badge


Nobody so far has admitted to hoarding serial cables.

Does nobody remember the halcyon days when with an Interfaker, a roll of ribbon cable, a box of assorted size male and female connectors and a soldering iron you could rule the world?

I am still awaiting the call. Box(es) of the stuff.

Tata on trial: Outsourcer 'discriminated' against non-Asian workers, claim American staff

David Roberts Silver badge

Who would have thought

That racial and religious discrimination was not solely the province of the WASPS?

For India specifically, I understand thst there is/was a caste system which institutionalised discrimination.

I think that we are lucky in the UK at the moment that discrimination is not the issue that it was 50 or more years ago.

Cyber-crooks think small biz is easy prey. Here's a simple checklist to avoid becoming an easy victim

David Roberts Silver badge

Cloud simplifies security

Eggs, meet one basket.

Nikola Tesla's greatest challenge: He could measure electricity but not stupidity

David Roberts Silver badge

Re: Noted scientists

Didn't Maxwell invent the silver hammer?

The 'roid in Spain drills mainly on the plain: Plucky Brit Mars robot laps up sun, sand and, er, simulated science

David Roberts Silver badge

Re: 'roid?

I've a tube of cream for that.

Sorry friends, I'm afraid I just can't quite afford the Bitcoin to stop that vid from leaking everywhere

David Roberts Silver badge

Re: Racist?

I think it's probably all white.

'The inmates have taken over the asylum': DNS godfather blasts DNS over HTTPS adoption

David Roberts Silver badge

Re: This is great

I've read through the replies but one thing still seems to be ignored.

As far as I can tell the default behaviour on a PC is to use the underlying OS to resolve DNS queries.

This in turn uses (again by default) the DNS server details supplied by DHCP running on the local router. In most cases this is the LAN side of the router.

That router understands DNS as it is today.

If you wish to switch to negotiating an HTTPS connection on a diffetent port then presumably the DNS code in your home router will have to be updated to do three things. Handle a local HTTPS DNS request and pass that on to the configured ISP (or other) DNS server. Handle an old style DNS request and roll it over into HTTPS. Handle legacy DNS from end to end.

Otherwise the DNS configuration information given out by DHCP will no longer be any use and you will have to configure on a PC basis or even an application basis instead of just plugging your PC into the local network and having it automatically configured. Which is what the majority of home users do now AFAIK.

Footnote: if browsers and other pieces of software start running their own encrypted DNS connection that screws up the practice of using your own DNS server to filter DNS queries and deep six Google and Microsoft snooping services.

David Roberts Silver badge

The first thing that struck me

Is that home users nearly always get their DNS from their home router supplied by their ISP as standard.

To make this work you would have to update the software/firmware on a very mixed bag of routers. You also have the issue of the connections from the LAN to the local router. Patches to the DNS software on PCs (probably IoT devices as well).

This has the feel of something which will take a decade or more to roll out.

BT, beware: Cityfibre reveals plan to shovel £2.5bn under Britain's rural streets

David Roberts Silver badge

Just me?

Or are they trying to cable up the areas which already have VM?

The City part of the name may be a clue of course. I'm struggling to see how they can make back the installation costs in less dense population areas.

Erm... what did you say again, dear reader?

David Roberts Silver badge


Is where the 'art is.

David Roberts Silver badge

Re: Erm...

Furthermore erm is a precursor to asexual.

David Roberts Silver badge

Re: Erm...

No, bang is shorthand for exclamation mark. [Sometimes also referred to as shriek. ]

It's big, it's blue, and it'll be raining down on you – it's 3200 Phaethon

David Roberts Silver badge


Sounds painful.

US congress-critters question prime directive of Pentagon's $10bn JEDI cloud contract

David Roberts Silver badge

Long time ago

But when I was doing bid work the advice was that if you weren't involved in writing the requirements it was usually a waste of time bidding.

I assume many sales people from many suppliers were shoulder bumping to get their USP included.

Kudos to whoever swung the "of course, you will need the highest level of accreditation" knowing that they were the only ones who could meet it.

Hard to counter with "it doesn't really need to be that secure" - not a positive message.

Morrisons supermarket: We're taking payroll leak liability fight to UK Supreme Court

David Roberts Silver badge

Worrying level of blame redirection.

There seem to be conflicting issues.

(1) a company shouldn't be able to wash its hands of something an employee does under all circumstances

(2) a company shouldn't be liable for what an employee does under all circumstances

As reported, the employee had legitimate access to the data and decided to make an extra copy. I would guess that most sysadmin types have the ability to do this undetected at some time or other (see virtually every Who Me? episode).

Analogies are always dodgy, but without total mind control how do you prevent employees breaking the law? Does ever employee have to have another employee monitor every keystroke? Should every employer institute a strp search including major bodily orifices every time an employee enters or leaves the workplace? If an employee working from home downloads porn onto a work PC is the company liable? I (think I) know that if someone manages to sneak drugs onto your property without your knowledge or consent you are still liable under English law.

Bottom line; it isn't clear how Morrisons could, within normal business constraints, have prevented this. It may rest on how reasonable it is to have all external access (USB and other exchangeable media such as CD/DVD) disabled on all machines and all data in and out of the network heavily inspected for signs of illegal transfer. However you are then heading towards military levels of security and the consequent costs.

Also worrying is the mention of insurance, which seems to suggest that the business should not go to the expense of policing the workplace and instead just insure against any fine. Very financial industry where fines for breaches of regulations are often treated as the cost of doing business.

SQLite creator crucified after code of conduct warns devs to love God, and not kill, commit adultery, steal, curse...

David Roberts Silver badge

Clothe the naked.

Well, yes, I do that nearly every day.

The exclusions are rare and probably obvious, but a nerdish need to try and be accurate forces me to qualify that statement.





On the subject of Christianity (or not) I thought the New Testament was a replacement for the Old Testament and so the term "Old Testament Christian" was logically incorrect. Still, you look for the words which support your chosen views, I assume.

Samsung’s flexible phone: Expect an expensive, half-bendy clamshell

David Roberts Silver badge


I rarely make or receive phone calls on my Galaxy S5 but when I do I really struggle with the microphone. Other end can rarely hear me. I assume this is because the microphone is behind the pinhole at the bottom, not helped by the soft case, and the tiny speakers are at the back.

What would be nice would be a phone with a decent sized microphone and speakers. Clamshell so the speakers are by the ear and the microphone folds round to be near the mouth. [No I don't want to carry round a headset just for the couple of times a month I may need to make a call.] Bigger speakers and microphone don't play well with the screen side nor with the edges of ever thinner cases. How about a phone which folds backwards so you can hold the speaker and microphone on the back of the case next to your ear and mouth? Just like a real phone.

GCHQ asks tech firms to pretty please make IoT devices secure

David Roberts Silver badge

Cynical, moi?

"Industry 4.0, in which the vision is that traditionally profitable manufacturing industries will give their profits to a tech sector desperately scrabbling to find the Next Big Thing and hoping that industrial sensors might be the jackpot."

Possibly the author is not fully enthused by this?

Microsoft Windows 10 October update giving HP users BSOD

David Roberts Silver badge

Auto updates in the broader context

My Android devices update the applications automatically on a regular basis, so in this context auto updates are probably a very good thing.

However Android usually gives you the choice when to update the OS.

Whilst you are still in scope for an OS update, of course.

Support for consumer versions of Windows is a real pain in the neck for Microsoft. A one off payment back in the mists of time and the expectation of continuous free support until the heat death of the PSU and beyond. In itself this is not a sustainable business model.

The proposed solution - force migrate everyone to the same version of the operating system and force everyone to stay up to date - probably looked good in theory. Only one version to support and the prospect of a subscription model in the misty future to offset the enormous cost of ongoing support. As far as I can see that isn't working out yet.

Eventually something has got to give; the constant expectation of free software and support amongst consumers is going to be up against the eventual realisation that ad-supported software isn't giving advertisers value for money. Who then pays for the "free" software?

IoT is the prime candidate for automatic security updates. However the security implications of giving write access to devices on your home network to some potentially fly by night cowboys are not good. This is another case where pay once and expect free support forever will not cost in.

TL;DR we're screwed.

Microsoft: OK, we have no phones, but look how much we love Android

David Roberts Silver badge

Re: 3 Words

Removal of personal privacy seems to fit the definition of theft.

JAXA probe's lucky MASCOT plonks down on space rock Ryugu without a hitch

David Roberts Silver badge

Is that Adolf Hitler

Looking out of the window in the left hand side of the picture?

Where can I hide this mic? I know, shove it down my urethra

David Roberts Silver badge

Re: Castration anxiety - Rohan shirts

I find the pockets in my Rohan shirts barely adequate for my Galaxy S5 (which I use for all sorts of things including navigation and, very occasionally, phone calls). I haven't yet found a pair of Rohan trousers (in a sale; you pay full price??) with decent side pockets. Generally need a waistcoat of many pockets, a bum bag, or a rucksack to carry stuff around.

I am currently stocking up on Paramo which have humongous trouser side pockets and quite respectable shirt pockets. Although the buggers stopped producing my favourite shirt soon after I discovered it.

However Rohan do a jacket which has so many capacious pockets I'm not sure if I have managed to use them all yet. Quite large enough for an 8" tablet (more navigation) and my largest wallet with a subset of my plastic card collection. Autumn through spring only, though, or I would melt. Looking forward to using it next time we fly as it has a similar capacity to carry on luggage.

David Roberts Silver badge
Paris Hilton

Oh, go on then

Is that a microphone up your urethra or are you just pleased to see me?

David Roberts Silver badge

Castration anxiety

This is why I wear practical but unfashionable trousers with side pockets on the legs, where wallet, phone and anything else bulky can be stored so that I can seat myself with reckless abandon without a high pitched scream or the sound of a glass screen cracking.

Or...ummm....the sound of a crack cracking on a glass screen perhaps?

On a related note, people of a certain age (yoof) seem to carry mobile phones (on the rare occasions that they aren't actively using them) sticking half way out of a rear pocket. This looks insecure on various levels; invitation to pickpockets, ease of losing when sitting down, whatever. I can only assume that the jeggings or whatever are so tight that it is impossible to remove the phone without the deliberate flexing of buttock muscles.

UK's Openreach sends full fibre to Coventry

David Roberts Silver badge

Fibre does seem to be happening

There has been ongoing work this year. We already have FTTC. All the poles have been sprouting chunky fibre termination points at the top. There has been a lot of digging up of bits of pavement where the ducting between the poles and the main ducts between the green cabinets have become damaged and/or blocked so they can't pull new cables.

Given the number of poles enabled one would think that BT/OpenReach would be offering FTTP. No sign of that on the broadband checker, though.

I could be tempted back to BT from my current VM cable by symmetric high speeds if the price was right, because of the occasional contention issues at peak times. Perhaps next year.

Fragile SMW-3 cable back in service

David Roberts Silver badge

Naval surplus depth charges?

Or home constructed with a pressure switch.

These cables seem to be so few and so vulnerable that you would think that someone would have worked out a way to target them by now. Not me guvnor, honest, just idle speculation,

Then again huge trawlers must be a danger, and I have vague memories of ships dragging anchors in storms picking up cables. Where is a submarine lair with real submarines when you need one?

You would also think that one strategy in the WW3 that people are speculating about in other threads would be the selective cutting of submarine cables to force data through intercept points on backup routes.

Now thoroughly depressed thinking about our planet and information addiction which is only enabled by a limited number of vital but vulnerable arteries.

Organic stuff, radiation, unexpected methane... Yes, we're talking about Saturn's surprising rings

David Roberts Silver badge

Organic material?

Doesn’t say how complex, though.

All the speculation about how the first organic molecules were created on Earth and there are loads just floating about in space? Raining down, as well.

'Desperate' North Korea turns to bank hacking sprees to rake in much-needed dosh

David Roberts Silver badge

Re: Who?

I think China is less worried about refugees and more worried about S. Korea uniting with the North and moving their border up to China.

Useful to have an authoritarian buffer zone on your border.

Manchester nuisance-call biz fined £150k after ignoring opt-out list

David Roberts Silver badge

Re: overnment is planning to make directors personally liable

Can I respectfully suggest that unless the cyclist is also making unsolicited bulk marketing calls whilst cycling (not impossible given the number of cyclists who appear unable to function without holding a phone conversation) that this is slightly off topic?

On the upside it didn't mention Trump or Brexit.

100,000 home routers recruited to spread Brazilian hacking scam

David Roberts Silver badge


I assume this should be MikroTik? Yes, I have told tips and corrections.

No real feel for how this affects ISP supplied routers where they retain enough access to do things like updating firmware. Apart from that web side access should be closed down by default.

New Zealand border cops warn travelers that without handing over electronic passwords 'You shall not pass!'

David Roberts Silver badge

Re: I'm getting to the point now

Reading through reminded me of those plastic tag things you used to get to stiffen shirt collars. I don't know if they are a thing because I don't wear formal shirts any more.

Anyway, as already posted there must be many places about your person to conceal a microSDHC card if you so wish. Wonder how good the airport scanners are?

Also brings to mind the old style James Bond briefcase with knives, gold coins and all sorts of other shit in it. Airport security has certainly moved on.

There are ways that you can make data secure, such as using a utility which encrypts all the data then sends a key to a third party at your destination so you don't know what it is when you cross the border. However they have thought of that and in the UK you just remain locked up until you reveal the key that you don't know.

Despite lack of trust in communications, the cloud, and such like it seems to me that you should be able to strongly encrypt any sensitive data and VPN it to a server at your destination (or even at a 3rd location) then retrieve it later. Why would you want to carry anything sensitive on your person through border checks?

Holy smokes! US watchdog sues Elon Musk after he makes hash of $420 Tesla tweet

David Roberts Silver badge

The future is electric!!!

Nobody bumping up an all electric future for cars, complete with a country wide charging network, seems to have realised that the UK can't even manage to electrify the current rail network and has had to change purchases of new rolling stock from electric to diesel.

I haven't seen anything in this thread about electrifying road goods transport either. What happened to the promised all electric tractor unit for lorries? Hmmm...long distance coach services?

Unless and until there are standardised battery packs which can be swapped at fuel stations the future is at most hybrid, apart from the affluent (London probably excepted) who can afford a house with at least an off road parking space where a charging point can be installed. This still doesn't address the situation of multiple vehicle ownership. Traditional family with 2.4 kids where all are working and all need a car, for instance.

I can see a lot of sensible markets for all electric, such as the white van delivery drivers who do the last hop for Amazon and the like. This does, however, assume that these zero hour wage slaves park their vans overnight somewhere they can be charged, instead of outside their multiple occupancy rented flat.

This would require the courier service to fund the infrastructure instead of offloading all the risk onto the allegedly self employed.

There is probably a bit too much "magical thinking" about the practicalities of the whole public and private transport system (at least in the UK) going fully electric.

Resident evil: Inside a UEFI rootkit used to spy on govts, made by you-know-who (hi, Russia)

David Roberts Silver badge

Firmware updates

Posts here about switches and stuff, and rare updates, and not doing it if you don't know what you are doing.

Just about to upgrade a Dell laptop to SSD for a friend and the Dell Action Centre had a firmware upgrade. I checked that this was a valid thing (signing keys are needed, apparently) and ran it. The system rebooted and updated a shed load of stuff, according to the prompts, before coming back up.

So firmware updates seem to be run of the mill and require no knowledge or skill.

Not disagreeing with the security concerns but that horse bolted long ago.

Swedish ISP spanked for sexist 'distracted boyfriend' advert for developer jobs

David Roberts Silver badge

More time outside than is healthy?

Yep - me too.

Then again it could be my memory failing or my lack of tracking Internet memes.

I think some of you are spending more time inside than is healthy. Get out in the fresh air more; it could help you get some perspective.

I agree that a series of three person adverts with the roles changed could have been interesting. Trying to deny sexual attraction exists or make it a taboo subject is like trying to push water uphill with a feather duster.

Amazon Alexa outage: Voice-activated devices are down in UK and beyond

David Roberts Silver badge

Re: Yesterday someone asked Alexa...

Nine Billion Names of God.

There is always a last time for everything.

A story of M, a failed retailer: We'll give you a clue – it rhymes with Charlie Chaplin

David Roberts Silver badge

Re: Anyone got...

My limited understanding:

Someone builds a business which sells stuff and makes a profit. This has obvious value, and should keep on going if the income from sales pays for purchasing stock, paying staff and paying for infrastructure. More money in than out and the owner can take the surplus out at the end of the year. A bit like a salary.

Let's look at the salary thing. If you have a salary, say, of 30k you can usually borrow money based on being able to repay the INTEREST each month, not necessarily the capital. See bad credit card debt.

Looks like a business is much the same. You can borrow money against future revenue and you are judged on your ability to service the debt - that is, repay the interest each month not repay the complete loan. If a loan is coming due then you just take out another loan to pay it off - see bad credit card debt (again) and sub-prime mortgages.

All fine and dandy if you are borrowing the money then taking it out of the company as dividends and salary. The company rolls on because it can service the debt. However rinse and repeat enough times and the balance sheet shows that the company has far more debts than assets and dosen't have a hope in hell of paying its debts.

At that point suppliers want cash up front, and insurers won't cover credit agreements. Cue death spiral.

The company is basically in the same position as someone with a 95% mortgage on a house (so little equity to release) and a pocket full of maxed out credit cards. At some point all the money coming in is needed just to service the debt and there is no more credit available. No money for food, heat, light, clothing, council tax etc.

Lenders try to avoid this with personal credit. $Deity alone knows why they allow this kind of thing for companies,


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