* Posts by Esme

1009 posts • joined 24 Oct 2007


We give up, Progressive Web Apps can track you, says W3C: After 5 years, it decides privacy is too much bother


I wonder at what point I became a Luddite?

Can't think how I got along all these years without PWA's. Or mobile phone apps, come to think of it. Or anti-social media sites </sarcasm> Yeah, I know, just because I've never felt any inclination to use such doesn't mean that others don't find 'em useful, and good luck to them! But I feel sad that my one-time wonder at the fact that markup-languages made things like web pages possible has changed over the years to a combination of frustration and anger at the multiple invasive assaults on privacy that have resulted since. The future just isn't what it used to be! Sigh. OK, here's me shuffling back to my flat in the local home for mildly bewildered old biddies (Flat 1980, Vulture Eyrie Tower, Sodoff Street, Birminster, Barchestershire, UK)

AMD is now following More's Law: More chips, more money, more pressure on Intel, more competition in the x86 space


Re: Again seems history repeating itself

I've never had any problems whatsoever with AMD CPU's (which I've been using for a good many years)- everything runs just fine. Heck, the PC I'm using right now has an AMD CPU - no issues whatsoever. Methinks your past software woes were likely down to something else!

We've heard of littering but this is ridiculous: Asteroid dumps up to 50 quadrillion kg of space dirt on Earth, Moon


Re: How do you determine the age of an asteroid?

Weathering.. Sunlight, cosmic radiation etc all have effects on surface material that can be detected; underlying rock that hasn't been exposed at the surface won't have this. On larger more solid asteroids, crater counts may help, too, although on smaller ones that are little more than piles of small rocks flying in formation crater-counting isn't a useful option.

Nvidia watches Brit upstart Graphcore swing into rear-view mirror waving beastly second-gen AI chip hardware


Re: Crysis?

Crysis? Bah! Will it run Kerbal Space Program with unpty-zillion mods installed, including Kopernicus and multiple planet packs, in real time with all the graphcis settings at maximum? If so, please earmark one for me, I should be able to save up for it by sometime in the next millenium!

Only true boffins will be able to grasp Blighty's new legal definitions of the humble metre and kilogram


Only 12? Using binary, I can count to 31 (base 10) on one hand and 1023 (base 10) on both of 'em!

What do you call megabucks Microsoft? No really, it's not a joke. El Reg needs you


The Beast Of Borkage

IT Phoning Home





MiscreantSoftware, MalignSoftware (etc etc)

PC owners borg into the most powerful computer the world has ever known – all in the search for coronavirus cure


Folding Vultures now ranked 985th

We're through the 1000th mark! Yaay!


Re: No love for Linux?

It's running fine on my main desktop OC (Linux Mint) and my teeny Lenovo mini-laptop/tablet running a forked version of Ubuntu (cant recall the distro name now, it wasnt one I'd heard of but was the only one that installed with the screen the correct way up rather than rotated 90 degrees). It's also doing SOMEthing (only just installed it and so not sure if it's actually working ok until it gets its first WU) on my backup desktop PC which is very venerable indeed.

Folding Vultures seem to be racing up the board - ranked 1,325 when I looked at the stats a little while ago. Well done all, keep it up!


Just joined the team!, and spreading the word to folks I know!

That awful moment when what you thought was a number 1 turned out to be a number 2


Re: Excel hate?

In my last job, for a year or two (the memory is getting thankfully hazy) I suffered from Excel's inability to to read .csv files it had created itself, after a particular major update on a daily basis (No, don't ask me for the details, I cant recall why we were having to do this, other than it involved an extremely shonky method of transporting data between incompatible systems so that, ultimately, the beancounters got their daily fix of data and could bill people. I tried my damnedest to work out a better way, but by the time I was in this situation the lock-in to the current way of doing things was too great, and me too lowly to get anything done about it. Apparently my daily pain was cheaper than actually sorting out a sensible solution).

First time it happened, I thought oh, it corrupted on the save, no problem, we'll just save out the xls file again as a .csv, problem sorted. And that time it was. But the problem kept recurring, seemingly randomly. Thinking it might be that non-printing characters might be being shoved into the data by the program that originally created it, I manually created a simple spreadsheet, saved out as .csv, then loaded it back into Excel. It was corrupt. Repeated several time - sometimes it worked fine, sometimes it did not. Never got to the bottom of what the heck was going on, but I had a colleague check on their version of Excel and it behaved the same for them, so it wasnt a PEBCAK problem either.

Since then I have never trusted Excel, which is a shame as it was one of the few pieces of MS software I used to get on OK with. Thankfully, it's now been several years since I've had to deal with any MS products!

Amazon, Apple, Google, IBM, Microsoft speech-to-text AI systems can't understand black people as well as whites


<tongue in cheek> I bet those voice recognition systems are ageist, too, and only recognise the vernacular of a particular age range, too!. </tongue in cheek>

Definitely not a matter of race IMO, but of culture. There's a heck of a lot of English variants and dialects that I can't understand either, but that doesn't make me racist or not interested in accessibility and inclusivity. It just means my limited processing power isn't up to the job of understanding much more than the dataset it was trained on when I was a nipper.

Found on Mars: Alien insects... or whatever the hell this smudge is supposed to be, anyway


Re: Intriguing

Somethiung pretty close has already evolved here on Earth , the bombardier beetle https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bombardier_beetle. Granted the beetle uses the exhaust like a flamethrower as a defence mechanism rather than for propulsion, but I imagine that in markedly lower gravity it might be good to assist short hops.

A short note to say I'm off: Vulture taps claws on Reg keyboard for last time


Good luck!

So when's the expose coming about which villainous soul thought milk in the teapot was a good idea? Heresy! Hang 'em high! Nearly gave me a heart attack reading that!

All the best Kate - BOIJ's gain is very much our loss!

IBM, Microsoft and Linux Foundation link arms to fight patent trolls with 'multimillion' scheme


Re: Didn't Microsoft fund SCO in its Linux patent fight?

-and a great deal of detail at the late lamented Groklaw site: http://www.groklaw.net/

Labour: Free British broadband for country if we win general election


Re: @steelpillow and ImAlrightJack

@Simon Hobson I disagree somewhat, but my take on things may be slightly different to most. I'm old enough to (just) remember travelling on a mainline steam train and a time when having a phone in your home instead of using a phonebox was a bit posh, and maybe every other family had a car, singular, and motorways? what motorways?!

With regard to trains - and bearing in mind that I cannot drive, so I use public transport (and for preference trains) a lot - it never made any sense to me as a user for the trains and associated infrastructure to be privatised due to the blame game whenever anything goes amiss.

Not only that but fatuous tannoy announcements as trains come into stations of the ilk "thank you for using (company name) for your journey" irritate - they;re just noise pollution, because if there's one thing train users do NOT have any realistic choice of it's which train company to use on the journey they want to make. I've also experienced the situation , where there were delays of even station tsaff not knowing what the hell was going on, because the company owning the station wasnt kept informed by the company running the delayed train. And privatisation doesn't solve all ills- one only has to look at the situation south and east of Reading to see that.

In general, I contend it's utter bloody madness to have a non-nationalised rail network - it would have been better, IMHO, to have worked on implementing better systems within the nationalised train setup than selling it off. If privatised companies are allowed to err then improve, why not nationalised ones? Seems like double standards to me.

With regard to phones, I utterly LOATHE the current setup not because it's privatised, but because of how shit it is in delivering the service I want compared to how the PO service used to be. (It's a phone. I want to be able to speak to people, that;s it. Oh, text? OK, that's neat and useful, I'll have that too, please. I am NOT interested in the internet on a phone, that is crazy talk! If you can get it on my pocket computer, I'm game to give it a go, though). Caveat - technology has changed dramatically since back then, so we're right on the verge of comparing apples with oranges, in that mobile phones didnt exist back then. If they had, would the PO have done any better than the current excrutiating mess? Hmm.. tricky. My guess is that the PO might well have experimented with the types of service phones might provide more slowly than private companies have, and that might not have been a bad thing.

I'm also aware that I have definitely hit the age of (genuine) old cantankerous biddyness (as against that which I have claimed in years gone by for comic effect)* and so at least some of the negativity I feel toward the current situation with regard to phones should be taken with a pinch of salt. But I really do hate the direction mobile phones have gone in, from highly useful simple devices with decent battery life to vastly overcomplicated pieces of kit that are shit as phones and shit as computers, that are actually controlled by phone companies who seem to think that throwing everything including the kitchen sink into the kit they rent to you is a good idea and doesnt impact usability one bit (and I'll only mention my loathing of touch screen keyboards this once, promise).

Oh - and my liking for the basics of life being nationalised has more to do with my desire for simplicity in the fundamentals of life, not my political leanings. If there's a problem with my electricity bill, I;d rather just contact the electricity Board (as was) than be shoved from meter company to transmission company to "power supply company" trying to get to the bottom of the problem. Privatising some things is actually LESS efficient for the customer - and causes more stress. I don;t give a monkeys if other stuff is privatised. Fine by me.

Anyway in summary - I think renationalising the railways actually would be a sensible thing to do. Renationalising the phone service though - I like the idea (I'm in favour of nationalised basic service like power water transport and comms generally), but honestly, I think the insanity with mobile phones has gone so far that that mess isnt ever likely to be sensibly fixed anytime soon, whether privatised or not. So why not let private companies take the blame for the mess they've created rather than renationalise it, with the inevitable huge problems involved in doing so, and then have lots of naysayers blaming the mess on it being nationalised rather than blaming the private companies that caused the mess of overpriced user-hostility that is the modern phone landscape?

Right, I've said me piece, settling down in my recliner with a throw over my lap nice cuppa and blissfully going back to my video games on my ethernet wired desktop PC. WiFi? Bah, humbug! :-}*

*You think I'm kidding? I'm not! (chuckle)**

** But I'm still capable of poking fun at my own expense!

Astroboffins baffled as Curiosity rover takes larger gasps of oxygen in Martian summers


I, for one..

..welcome our new microbial Martian Overlords!

The Palm Palm: The Derringer of smartphones


This is what I want


- and even that has got some crap on it that I never wanted (the game, and internet connectivity)! Absolutely lovely phone, excellent battery life, and even though I didn't even want the internet on it, I did use it once, to sneak a peek at Spaceship One at work when I should have been doing other stuff rather than keeping tabs on a historic sub-orbital flight in 2004.

Sorry, but the Palm Palm in the review is pure ripoff - and a sad comment on how featuritis has turned a useful concept - the mobile 'phone - into over-featured nearly unusable overpriced crap. IMHO, of course.

Just take a look at the carnage on Notepad++'s GitHub: 'Free Uyghur' release sparks spam tsunami by pro-Chinese


Re: *Standing, thunderous, rowdy ovation*

@bombastic bob - Bob, dear - socialism and communism are NOT the same thing, do try to keep up! If you bother to check, you would note that some of the nations rated as the happiest in the world are some form of socialist, are rated highly for their high per capita GDP, social care systems, freedom from corruption and long life expectancy - and are democracies.

If you're going to use the word "sewage" whilst talking politics, lets have a look at USA, where aside from there being no effective public health care system, organised suppression and castigation of minorities in the name of "religious freedom", you can't even be sure that water coming out of domestic taps is fit to drink, and there is currently legislation being promulgated by the White House to further endanger the health of the nation's waterways and drinking water - in order to let mining companies do what the heck they like with little oversight. Hmmn, reminds me of some reports I've heard of regarding how things are in China, does that...

The bulk of the "sewage" in politics is that put out by close-minded folk or the power-hungry seeking to try to make politics look as black and white and as simple as possible in order to try to hoodwink folk into following them. And usually involves some form of scape-goating. Politics isn't that simple because humanity isn't that simple. C'mon Bob, stop letting yourself down! Doesn't bother me that you're at a different point in the political spectrum to me - happy to debate, but childish mud-slinging helps nobody.

Sticks and stones may break your bones but robot taunts will hurt you – in games at least


"It would be very easy to create systems that would annoy users, which makes working to understand these issues so important," Quite. I wish more programmers in the past had thought along those lines, particular the ones that created data-entry systems intended for heavy use.

That said, I was impressed when I had to use the phone banking system the other week. Anything to do with finance can make me feel panicky, but I really needed to check something in a hurry, so I 'phoned (I refuse to use website banking) and was stunned at how good the automated system my bank uses has become since the last time I had to suffer it, a couple of years ago. The damned thing now appeared to understand me! The amount of "choose one of the following options" in an interminable tree was greatly reduced and I was able to use natural language to interact with it. Well done whomever was behind all that - it made my experience far less fraught than it might have been!

Blood money is fine with us, says GitLab: Vetting non-evil customers is 'time consuming, potentially distracting'


Re: I have said this before....

Il's not always as black and white a that thought. In my last job, there were a few times where I protested my orders as being stupid and time-wasting; I was concerned about the inefficiencies that would arise if those orders stood. Having made my protest, if the powers that be decided that the orders should stand anyway, then fine - I had done my duty to the company by pointing out that the planned course of action would make things worse, so responsibility for the outcome was then with the higher-ups.

Contrast that with another time where a director wanted our team to do something actually illegal with customer data. My boss and I were horrified - the more so as that particular director had legal training themselves. My boss and I refused, and pointed out both our ethical objections and the legal ones. The directors directive was quickly rescinded, and we remained with the company for many years thereafter.

So no, it ISN'T always simply a case of "you do what I say or there's the door" - generally the folk who think like that have too simplistic a view of the world to run a business well, if they aren't downright incompetent, as well as being ethically deficient.

'We go back to the Moon to stay': Apollo vets not too chuffed with NASA's new rush to the regolith


andy103, attempts to get the human species as a whole to behave entirely rationally have thus far failed and seem doomed to failure for the forseeable future. If you're expecting that to change anytime soon, you're delusional, although I wish to heck that somehow that particular feat could be achieved in an ethically acceptable manner. Maybe it's a failure of my imagination, but I can't see how that could be achieved.

But that's not a good reason for us to not do anything else aside from trying to achieve that particular impossibility, as has been pointed out eloquently by others in this thread. As have the likely benefits from us getting out there , developing resources for use down here and establishing colonies, etc.

With regard to your claims about whether humans have been to the moon or not already, there appear to be only three options - you either understand science insufficiently to know what you are talking about, you are a delusional conspiracy theorist, or you are a troll. In the first instance, improving your science education will save yourself from embarrassing yourself in public like this in future. In the second, please go and seek the help you need, and if the third is correct, also please go seek the help you need.

Being an idealist is good - but you have to be a realistic in your approach to things. If my ideal world came to pass many here would probably deem it a Socialist Utopia - but human nature being what it is, I doubt that would ever be achievable (not least because my idea of a Utopia apparently fills some folk with horror), so rather than berate the bulk of humanity for not being as logical and cooperative as I'd like them to be, I instead applaud those doing worthy things and hope that, one way or another, it will lead to better things somewhere, somewhen, for at least some folk. That, at least, seems a realistically achievable goal.

Getting heavy industry out in space using resources mined off-planet could well help things down here quite a lot, and thus I applaud those working on getting us Out There in order to start doing those things rather than berating folk for not fulfilling my Utopian dreams. And it's not as if many people aren't doing their best to work on the very problems you mention as well. It isn't a one or the other situation, and denying ourselves the benefits of getting into space will not magically solve other problems. That's simply wishful thinking. Or trolling.


I thought it was Wallace!

When the satellite network has literally gone glacial, it's vital you snow your enemy


Re: Wind and rain...

I was a mainframe operator on the overnight shift that day. I could hear the wind howling outside but wasn't unduly perturbed until dawn when I could see the occasional roof slate whipping past horizontally. This could make walking back to my flat interesting, I mused. I then received a 'phone call from my boss asking if I'd mind working the next shift as well, as neither of the operators due for that shift could get in. Why no, don't mind at all, said I!

Here we go again: US govt tells Facebook to kill end-to-end encryption for the sake of the children


Oh the irony!

- that Facebook. one of the biggest invaders of personal privacy, should be taking a stand to defend user privacy!

NASA Administrator upends the scorn bucket on Elon Musk's Starship spurtings


Re: Have I misunderstood?

Quite possibly, but it wasn;t really critical to what I was saying. In my haste I just rremebered that NASA had spaffed billions unecessarily on some capsule or other due to daft contracts, so it;s cheeky of them to make that kind of remark to Spaces X who have driven costs down :-}


Have I misunderstood?

I thought crew Dragon was ready and that it was the ongoing NASA testing that is the only thing stopping it from launching sooner?

Also, given that NASA apparently failed to organise a fixed cost contract with Boeing for initial copies of their capsule, which is now costing billions more of taxpayers money than was originally estimated , and that SpaceX has delivered on cheaper costs to loft payloads to LEO, thereby driving launch costs generally down, it was indeed a very cheap shot at SpaceX by Mr Bridenstine.

Personally, I'm not a great fan of Elon personally, and I do wish his presentation skills were better (I found the recent presentation about Starship dull; Scott Manley's summary is far better, IMO https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wRF41f7hPWE - but with SpaceX I think he's doing a great job. I also look forward to seeing Blue Origin getting stuff into orbit too!

The '$4.4m a year' bug: Chipotle online orders swallowed by JavaScript credit-card form blunder


It's also silly that the entire world doesn't use the entirely logical big-endian date format, but nevertheless, I do sometimes find myself having to mentally convert the date I need to enter into one or other of the other weird forms that some bits of the world insist on.

Or in other words, just 'cause I or you think something is silly, that doesn't mean that everyone else will agree! (The USA date format comes close to creating mental meltdown in me, but hey, I don't encounter it very often, so I'm tolerant of their foibles!) ;-}

COBOL: Five little letters that if put on a CV would ensure stable income for many a greybeard coder


Re: You know it was mostly created by guys...just saying

AC, I'm neither upvoting nor downvoting you, 'cause I have a little sympathy for your comment about revisionist history insofar as programming is concerned. Although funnily enough, the only COBOL programmers Iv;e known (three of 'em in the last 30 years) were all women, which seemed a tad odd to me.

That said, with regard to revisionist history in general, sure, women were often prevented from doing (inset activity here) by society in general, so there actually wasn't as much input from women at times, in a lot of fields, as there might have been. But even allowing for that, the efforts of those women who broke the mould were generally grossly under-reported, their work either ignored or ascribed to a male colleague. That is to say, the original history was annoyingly revisionist in the first place, in that it did its best to wipe women's contributions out of the record.

Set against that, current efforts to ensure that women are given due credit are laudable, and I applaud them. Which isn;t to say that some folk occasionally go a bit OTT about it, which isn't great, and I deplore that too, but as for women in computing getting the respect due to them - nealry 40 years of personal experience and seeing what happened to the women around me too (some programmers, some mainframe operators or helldeskers like me), I can only say that all were consistently under-valued if not outright patronised, irrespective of ability and quality of work. Maybe we were just unlucky. Maybe.

Brit MPs: Our policies are crap and the political process is in tatters, but it's Twitter's fault, OK?


Re: Twitter is to blame!

Hah! One only has to look at British history (I'm in the UK) to see that that's nothing new. Power corrupts, etc. The question is how well whatever system the nation has in place keeps the corruptible from causing too much damage, and that varies over time. Right now, the answer appears to be "hardly at all".


Re: No s##t Sherlock...

ohj FFS - housing is one of the things thet is keeping and even driving folk into poverty, as too many landlords charge exorbitant rents at the same time that employers are doing their damndest to drive salaries down. Iv;e paid way more over the years in rent to landlords than I would have in mortgage for the properties Iv;e lived in - and I don;t mean a few percent, i mean WAY more - because I've never been paid well enough to have a hope of getting a mortgage, yet I have to pay rents greatly greater than the mnortgage would be on same properties (typical seems to be that it;d only take about half the tenants in any property to cover teh actual mortgage amount. Granted there's repairs and maintenance costs, but , and this is only anecdotal, only about half of the landlords I've had have been good about such things).

Personally, I don't advocate any kind of "simple fix" partly because I doubt there is such a thing, but mostly because this is an area where, aside from my direct experience, I am well out of my depth. But I do know with certainty, that the cost of keeping a roof over ones head is what is keeping the pooestr of this country in poverty and unwontedly enriching those lucky enough to have been able to buy property. It's all just part of a broken economic system, that makes it easier to gain wealth the more wealth you already have, once you get past a certain point. Below that point, you;re kept in poverty, enriching others.

And no, I am not communist. I'm old enough to remember Wilson and Ted Heath (the last Conservative I trusted)., and IMO Scargill and Thatcher were the ruination of this country. I'm sick to death of the Labour/Tory axis dominating politics, still fighting the battles of Victorian times. Yes, some of those battles are still being fought, but heck, times have moved on, and those two parties have mot adapted well, either of them. It's clear that the whole economic system upon which both parties focus is not fit for purpose, yet I;ve never heard either of them say anoything about looking into a system that might work better - they just keep tweaking the current broken one.

Capitalism is not natural law or divine writ (and nor is it politics in the common sense of the term; it is the economic background against which politics is played out) - it's a creation of mankind, and just as it is the latest in a string of systems that supplanted earlier ones all the way back to barter, there's no reason it couldn't be supplanted by something else, hopefully something that works better for society as a whole, rather than funnelling most wealth to the already well off for very little effort on their part. Yes, social inertia, I do understand that, and no, I do not advocate revolution - folk die in revolutions. But folk are dying now anyway, and I fear that the way the worlds going things are likely to get way nastier before they start getting markedly better. I do so hope that I am wrong about that, for the sake of the generations after mine.

Like a grotty data addict desperately jonesing for its next fix, Google just can't stop misbehaving


Re: Good luck trying to use my Facebook account or Google searches to predict how I will vote...

Well said, DougS! Whilst I am one who will, for brevity, say that I am an ad-slingers nightmare, because I tend not to be influenced in my purchasing by ads, in my case, that's shorthand for "I am not so easily swayed that I am going to switch from a brand that i know and like due to an advertising campaign, nor will I buy something I don't need due to an advertising brand" . Reality tends to be more nuanced, however

I find some adverts very cute and engaging - I actually miss seeing certain ads involving meerkats since I stopped having a TV licence, which I did because I realised I watched TV so seldom. I loved Sergei! Never in a month of Sundays was I likely to use the services provided by those behind the adverts Sergei was in. Similarly, nothing on the earth is going to persuade me to buy A Certain Brands chocolate over Another Certain Brands chocolate because I know with certainty that I prefer the taste of the latter product better. So that's ads shown to be non-influential then?

Edge cases. Situations where there's no strong case for one brand over another, in quality price or utility, any of 'em will do, and there's no trust issues involved (some companies I will NOT deal with because I believe them to be unethical). What will then sway me is which is more convenient to deal with, and if that's much of a muchness - yep, how funny their adverts are! :-)

Well what about ads for things that I didn't know exist before? I can't recall specifics, but I know that a couple of times in my life I've stumbled across an add for something whose very existence I was previously completely unaware of, could immediately see the utility of, and on the strength of that bought said item. In the absence of advertising, no sale would have been made.

Where I think things go horribly awry is in the sheer amount of money put into marketing (waves, smiling, at adverts with oodles of CGI!)., especially when it gets to the extent that a noticeable percentage of the cost of the item being purchased is due to the advertising for it. This is insane. See, no matter how much advertising is thrown at me, I only have so much money to spend, so I can only consume so many products. Once consumers know which products exist, all that advertising does is have SOME effect on which brands get purchased to what extent.

Many years ago, a supermarket by where I used to live started selling a range of "unbranded" products in very plain packaging for which they did no advertising beyond plonking the products on the shelves. They were markedly cheaper than well-known branded items because no money was spent on advertising them. I tried them, and for the most part found them to my liking well enough that I switched to that "non-brand", except, I think, for the breakfast cereal which just didn't taste quite so well to me (I had a sweeter tooth back then - I might be fine with the same product now). This was great, it saved me money so I was able to afford the occasional treat a little more frequently - whilst that range lasted.

Sadly, evidently not enough other folks bought 'em, and the range got dropped, which mystified me (seems a win-win situation to me for consumers and producers and retailers alike!) until I came across an article that gave insight into why those sorts of brands often didnt last - because many folks associate higher prices with better quality or simply luxury, never mind "the kids will only eat xyz brand". So poor folk eat what they must, wealthier folk eat what they can afford, whilst rich folk take their pick and have gold leaf sprinkles on it as well - to show off their status. No, I don't think like that, and I suspect many here do not either, but we're not exactly representative of society as a whole, now, are we?

So yeah - I'm far from easily swayed by advertising, and advertising will not induce me to buy stuff that I do not want/need, but am I utterly uninfluenced by it or unaffected by it? No.

Call Windows 10 anything you like – Microsoft seems to


Re: Names

Bastard Operating system From Hell

Clutching at its Perl 6, developer community ponders language name with less baggage


There's something worse than Visual Basic?!

VB is the language that put me right off trying to get back into programming, many moons ago (I had been fairly good at programming in BASIC, 6502 assembler, 6502 machine code and I messed about with FORTH and LISP a little). I did look at Python a year or two after my encounter with VB (seemed OK, what little I saw of it), but by then had decided Helldesking was my forte, and I was sticking to it! But VB - (shudder). After three days of effort, I still couldn't get a program that would've taken me half an hour to code in old-school BASICs (granted, sans nice UI) to do anything useful at all!

My hat's off to all you bright sparks that can make all this stuff (waves hand around to indicate t'internet, OS's, etc) work, whatever language you're using to do it!

GIMP open source image editor forked to fix 'problematic' name


Good luck to 'em!

I'm not personally bothered about the name (although I take their point about marketability), but I absolutely 100% support anyone willing to put work in on improving that utterly f*****g shite disaster-area of pea-brained user-hostiliity that is the GIMP's user interface!

Aaaand deep breath. Ahem. Sorry about the bad language there, but I do find that UI quite vexing.

Female-free speaker list causes PHP show to collapse when diversity-oriented devs jump ship


Complex problems and nuances

I've been turned down for a job because of being LGBT (yup, I was actually told so! This was a long time ago). I've also been hired where it looked suspisciously like quota-filling (this more recently) - and then was clearly discriminated against on pay, although whether that was because I was female or LGBT, or both, who knows? I certainly don't. I've also failed to get jobs because I wasn't the best for the job, and been given tasks within companies because I was the best person for the job.

So much of it is down to the precise circumstances of the situation and the people involved at the time. With regard to gender balance in professions, if there's an existing imbalance, then even if achieving balance is possible (it might not be) it takes time because of stereotypes to be overcomes to attract people to study and get trained, stereotypes to be overcome on the hiring side, and so on. There generally aren't simple, quick solutions. On the subject of innate vs societal differences, hormones can, but don't invariably, cause large differences in behaviour. From what I've seen, some transmen do seem to up their arseholery level a while after they starting taking testosterone under that hormones influence, but most don't, and instead simply become happier, more stable well-balanced people than they were before. Likewise the effects of estrogen on MTFs personality-wise can vary from very little to profound, and can occasionally (but not usually) be negative. There are clearly other factors involved (eg; variable hormone sensitivty, societal and individual expectations of male behaviour and so on)

As for societal factors, I've heard of multiple instances of little girls being allowed to play with their brothers toys, and their brothers being admonished for playing with their sisters toys, but have yet to hear of an instance of the reverse situation. That sort of thing has such huge social inertia that it won't be overcome quickly, and anyone expecting it be overcome quickly is, IMO, either naieve or a fool. Be it noted that the objective of achieving equality does not mean to try to make everyone the same, especially not (heaven forbid!) to try to make males into funny-looking women. The objective is for everyone to be treated fairly and with respect, and it was long ago recognised by feminist theorists that men do get a raw deal in certain ways in life; but women overwhelmingly were treated less fairly and allowed less power; That was the starting point of feminism - to get a better deal for women in the first instance, sure - but also for men to have their lot improved along the way as well. Misandry is no prettier than misogyny.

Unfortunately SJW's tend to scream about whatever drama-queenery grabs their attention at the time as if there were simple fixes. They need to grow up, IMO. I abhor that sort of behaviour, because it's SJW's who have tarnished feminism in many peoples eyes (most SJW's seem to be clueless about actual feminist ideas and theory, but because they scream loudest, some folks assume that what SJW's present is feminism), and SJWs have also caused some disturbingly serious problems within the LGBT community in recent years, to the point where it can be difficult to have serious debate about tricky topics without "covering all the angles" in just about every sentence from the get-go rather than calmly positing your idea, then looking at the various potential consequences one by one in order to try to see how to solve potential problems.

Discussions then get derailed early on over often minor points, and there's some frankly anti-social and downright dangerous crap being put out by SJW's supposedly in support of trans folk, for instance, when in reality they're doing little but making things worse for the very people they claim to be supportive of and others as well. SJW's seem to me to be, for the most part, the trolls of the equality movement, bent on destructive ego-tripping rather than resolving problems.

Personally, I wouldn't lose any sleep over there being no female speakers at a conference unless there was either clear evidence or at least very strong reason to suspect that there was overt discrimination against women going on. I don't care enough about the PHP conference to be bothered to look into the ins and outs of that particular case. There are a few more important things going on in the world that I prefer to spend my attention and effort on, as best I can.

More on that monster Cerebras AI chip, Xilinx touts 'world's largest' FPGA, and more


Re: Quake 3 FPS

Nah. How long to boot from power off to a working desktop is my benchmark. That seems to have changed little over the years despite multicore processors vs single core and clock speeds 100x greater than my early computers.

I couldn't possibly tell you the computer's ID over the phone, I've been on A Course™


Re: He should be proud that of that guy

(chuckle) Ah, but there's IT staff, and then there's IT staff. I used to work at a company group with offices in two major cities. I was a lowly helldesker for the programming team that had developed and maintained the in-house system that handled the business and customer data for large chunks of the group. The actual IT staff at the same locale as me generally knew what they were about and trying to get to the root of problems that might've been the in-house software or might've been due to some network problem seldom involved any fraughtness.

Not so the bunch at the other site, who were almost universally regarded as an almost useless bunch of monkeys. How they managed to keep their jobs was a mystery to many of us. The classic was that they kept mucking up setting up new users with remote access to the system developed by the team I was Helldesker for. This meant that you could guarantee that shortly after a new employee had started at their site, I'd get a call about how their system didn't work. Well, how OUR system didn't work as it was the responsibility of the team I worked for. Never mind that it was the access to it being incorrectly set up by their local IT that was causing the problem.

Even worse, I'd have to explain to users that I needed to pass their request over to IT, as only they could do the necessary to rectify things. About half the time, I'd be told that it was IT that'd told them to contact me, and could I just get on with it and fix the problem?! Sigh. So about half the time, I'd end up having to ask the local IT team to fix the problem with their ninja network-fu, because I certainly didnt have the tools (or knowledge) to fix what was wrong, and bedamned if I was going to go through the mental agony of trying to get the monkeys to clean up the mess theyd caused and then shoved in my direction, it'd take way too much of my time, and being the only helldesker for my team, that'd mean a worse service to other potential callers, most of whom were at the same site as me.

After having patiently explained what was needed to the distant IT team by phone many times, I asked my boss if it'd be OK for me to write up the process and email it to them. She gave me the go ahead, once she'd checked what I'd written. For a week or two things improved - and then slid back to their previous dismal state. So I resent the instructions. Apparently one of them paid attention that time, but not the others. Third time of sending I sent in a stiff formal complaint about 'em. THAT got their attention. But if they ever received anything more than a gentle slap on the wrist for being so useless, I never heard about it. They NEVER caused me unecessary problems again though.

So, yeah - in that one situation, I was prepared to stab a bunch of IT staff in the back - they damned well deserved it. What made it even more bitter was that the bunch at the other site got paid more than the local lot (and way more than I did!), despite the latter being far the more competent.

Dropbox would rather write code twice than try to make C++ work on both iOS and Android


Re: What the hell is C++, Java, C# and the other drivel?

REAL girls code in 6502 machine code. So nerr! :-}

'Hey Google, remind Greg the locks have been changed, and he should find a new place to live. Maybe ask his mistress?'


Hey Google, can you tell me where I can get a new life from, please? Thank you.

(a while later)

Hey, google, please live my old life for me - I've just got this spangly new retro one, see, that doesn't include AI. So long, and thanks for all the phish.

(door slams)

Poor old Jupiter has had a rough childhood after getting a massive hit from a mega-Earth


Re: Alternative explanation

@Torebn Mogensen: Nah. there wouldn't be enough energy to do that against that much gravity.

Also, even if enough fisionables collected in one spot to go boom, let alone create heat a la Oklo reactor, that'd have negligible effect on a Jupiter sized object even if there were hundreds of thousands of such happening all at once (highly unlikely).

To create the sort of effect you have in mind would need such huge concentrations of such rare material coming into close proximity at the same time in such a precise manner that, in essence it's highly unlikely to ever occur naturally during large multiple of the universe's current lifespan.

As for "it's the aliens wot dunnit" theories - if they had the capability to arrange that sort of thing, I can;t think of any reason why they'd want to do so - building a Dyson swarm instead would be a better use of their time and effort. Of course, if the sacred tome of HHGTTG actually is correct, then it might've been one of Slartibartfast's chums on the piss wot dunnit.

Google to bury indicator for Extended Validation certs in Chrome because users barely took notice


Sorry, what's been rescinded? I was distracted..

I hadn't heard of EV (didn't receive any emails about it, saw no news about it, didn't receive a manual in the post...*), nor did I notice it - and I'm way more security conscious than yer average user. Why? Probably because of featuritis in browsers - specifically, in my case, Firefox.

Mozilla have fiddled around with their browser (particularly the preferences section) so much in recent years that it has become irksome - there's' one of their security features where you're supposed to be able to edit a least of exception sites, where you don't want them to be flagged as a security risk. I used to be able to use this easily. Now, I simply cannot find how you are supposed to be able to add sites to that list. And trust me, the exceptions I want to add are few, and carefully chosen - I'm not the sort of user that "just wants all web pages to work, damnit!" And yes, generally, if I get a security warning from my browser, I will tend to shrug and try another site to find the information on whatever I'm looking into. And the plethora of sites that, due to GDPR tell me, in essence "We're trustworthy sites, honestly, but due to GDPR we have to ask you to accept cookies in order to show you our content" - why, I do believe they are fibbing, so I'll not use those sites, either. I am also well aware that URLs like (something).com.org.tinyurl are not to be trusted

Then there's the websites themselves - flashy this and video that and slideshows and god knows what - all designed to grab ones attention. This is where psychology comes in. Banks have websites, you can do shopping on websites, heck, the governent has a website, businesses (which have to be set up complying with the laws of some country or other) have websites - so the internet generally must be government approved/regulated,and therefore generally be safe, right? Well... no. I know that, and you know that - but I'd be surprised if most folk do.

As per one of my recent posts, we're back to the problem being that the internet is effectively run by businesses for businesses NOT for yer average member of the public. Never mind criminals, all too many businesses don't mind if they hoodwink people out of money! And they are responsible for the web having become the bloated monster of video adverts and flashy attention-stealing graphics that distract one from things like security indicators. Don't go blaming users for not noticing EV - Google itself is part of the problem (too much attention-stealing advertising) and browser makers are teh other part (too much fiddling with layouts and how things work). It's small wonder many folk wont notice discreet security features under the circumstances, nor thet even if they do, many will just throw their hands in the air and go "fuck it, I just wanna buy my shiny from that site; looks good to me" - because no-one sent them the email, manual, etc about how the web works, or the newsletter when stuff changed *, either.

*I hope it isn't necessary for me to say this but yes, I am being facetious here. My point being that when it comes to the web, users are too often expected to be mind-readers and notice or use things they've never been informed about. Would you, as IT support people, expect users at work to use software without training?

Revealed: Milky Way's shocking cannibalistic dark past – it gobbled a whole dwarf eons ago


Re: Why are there 3 dimensions?

There aren't 3, there's rather more than that, as per quite a number of well-known hypotheses about the universe, some more well-founded than others. Heck, even I can get up to a minimum of 6 dimensions being necessary starting from first principles and based on the evidence of the world around us (something I have done for fun), and that's without considering some of the more esoteric things like how the strong and weak nuclear forces propagate (because I'm just not up to tackling the necessary for those). I can well believe there are rather more than 6 necessary in order to make the whole shebang work. 3 definitely isn't enough, though.

Transport for London Oyster system pulled offline after credential-stuffing crooks board customers' accounts


Missing the point?

Whilst I don't doubt that any comments or musings on technical issues related to the attack given by commentards here are likely to be pertinent, whenever anything like this crops up, the first thing that occurs to me is "Why have a system that requires people to create yet another identity?"

Stating the bleedin' obvious, pre-internet no problem - you had whatever identity verification was required by the regime in which you lived, and goods were purchased with money. Many people could probably remember things like their National Insurance number, or their National Service ID or driving licence number. Remembering two or three identities isn't too difficult.

With the advent of the internet, it seems that every business thinks you should have an identity with them, if you wish to use their services. Which may seem entirely reasonable from the individual businesses point of view, but is utterly UNreasonable from a customers view, if you expect people to remember all those identities, all those login names and passwords. And some programmers recognised this and came up with things like password managers. Which notionally provide the solution. Except - now you have a system whereby if anything goes amiss with the password manager the individual cannot access their accounts because they do not know their login details. A potentially catastrophic single point of failure in the modern world.

In essence it's a situation designed to encourage failure (of security) and the solutions (relying on memory, relying on password managers, writing down login details in books etc) tend to do little more than create a choice of where you want your single point of failure to be. Too many people are willing to blame the customer if they've done things like re-use passwords and suchlike, and sure, it's bad to re-use usernames and passwords, but why are we expecting people to create so many different unique identities in the first place, when everything we know about human capability and nature says that that is a bad idea?

That unreasonable expectation points the finger firmly at the world of business which (a) has unreasonable expectations of customers and (b) dislikes accepting the blame for the failings of these systems (which are often poorly implemented by businesses anyway) and (c) all too often refuses to give any compensation to customers when things go wrong with their systems unless explicitly forced to by law.

This highlights something folk here have said many times - until there are very real and painful consequences in law for companies that do IT badly, things are not likely to improve. Why should any company put effort into seeing if they can think up a better way for customers to interact with them in an internet-connected world, if the consequences of things going amiss with current systems are so trivial? But IMHO the last people that should be blamed are customers. They did not create the unreasonable situation that is forced upon them by business. Business created the mess - business should clear up the mess - under duress from the legal system, if necessary. Ideally. Well, it;s a nice dream...

Neuroscientist used brainhack. It's super effective! Oh, and disturbingly easy


Re: Upside

@Steve Crook. (Laughing) Quite a number of years ago, out of curiosity, I looked into how good a product called "Sosmix" is. Discovering that there was also "vegetarian pre-made pastry" available, I bought some of that, too, and used my purchases to make some sausage rolls to take to a party. Funniest conversation of the evening proved to be a guy arguing with me over the content of the sausage rolls. Despite the fact that I had made them, and knew that they were free of any animal products whatsoever, he continued to insist that there was meat in them. I have never made real meat sausage rolls in my life (Why bother? they've always been so easy to buy!)

Being aware that ecologically too much meat and dairy production is problematic (NB: Note that "too much". There's nothing wrong with some meat production in areas that cant sustain crop plants), I continued to keep an eye on "substitute" products. For a long while, most did indeed seem not terribly good to me, but over the years they have improved immensely.

Nowadays, I tend to prefer fake burgers to the real thing, although be it noted that taste and mouth-feel can vary quite a bit from brand to brand. Interestingly, those that mimic real meat most accurately (including plant-produce heme for that slighly bloody look) aren't my favourites. I find the substitute cheeses perfectly acceptable these days, although IMO they'd be better off giving them new names rather than saying thing like "cheddar-like" or "mozarella-like", as IMO they tend to be different enough to the real specifically named cheese to cause minor annoyance, but absent that, taste like perfectly acceptable cheeses. Good for cheese on toast and to construct a cheeseburger with, too! And off on a tangent, I have encountered vegan cheesecake that was simply wonderful!

Whilst nowadays I eat very little meat, I don't lose any sleep over eating some now and then. The main animal product that I can find no good substitute for is cow's milk. Sure, there are plant-based milks that I can tolerate drinking like I do cows milk, but none of them, in my opinion, is any good in tea, and that is where I draw my personal line in the sand. The taste of English Breakfast tea with cow's milk is one of the great pleasures in life for me, and until they can crack artificial milk that makes good tasting tea, I shall continue to purchase cow's milk.

The day they come up with a non-dairy milk that tastes good in tea is the day that I could potentially go full-on vegan insofar as my diet is concerned. I almost certainly won't though, because I don't have any objection to the eating of meat per se - my concern is more with food security and the efficiency of food production, given what the near future likely holds for us all. Plus at my age, and with tablet-controlled high blood pressure, corned beef and spam really aren't good things for me to consume nowadays, not as a regular thing, anyway (I had psychological problems with eating meat off the bone - hence i tende d to eat processed meats). Ditto dairy cheese (DEEP sigh. :-} ) I'm looking forward to trying cricket flour one day, I've heard good things of it.


Re: Beware flashing lights

I tend to check the Science Daily website (https://www.sciencedaily.com/) most days to give me an overview of what's happening across the sciences. The standard of articles is similar to that of NS. NB: it's still always worth checking sources on anything particularly surprising that you spot at SD or in NS, as occasionally their articles can give a false impression or be a tad uncritical. But they generally give a pretty good laymans overview of what's going on in the sciences.

Meet ELIoT – the EU project that wants to commercialize Internet-over-lightbulb


(singing tunelessly to self, spray cans in pinny pockets and duster in hand)

"Don't mind me, deary," (sprays desk, wipes)," just freshening the place up" (sprays lemon-scented air-freshener)

"My! Them's some fruity words you know, there, dear! What's gone wrong with your internet, then?" (sprays desktop computer, polishes..)

Will someone plz dump our shizz on the Moon, NASA begs as one of the space biz vendors drops out


The thing is, as Amy Shira Teitel points out in her latest Vintage space video (which can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e0ERXwhn-5w), getting humans even to the moon is hard, and the circumstances that drove the Apollo programme were rather unique Trying to not merely replicate what Apollo achieved but to go one better and come up with a system intended to get us to the moon in order to start building infrastructure up there is a huge task, and no-one in their right minds would expect a NASA-type setup with contractors, sub-contractors, political interference etc to deliver on the same very short kind of timescale that Apollo happened in.

Maybe a company like Blue Origin or SpaceX might be able to do that if that was what their business was focused on, because one organisation doing everything in-house can streamline things better than a NASA-type situation. But absent another serious "space-race" starting (hmmn.. US vs China maybe?) I am not expecting the Artemis project to deliver anywhere close to on time. I'll be highly delighted if they do, mind!

Big fan of Zubrins "The Case for Mars" and Elon's efforts with SpaceX though I am, getting people anywhere off-planet is damned hard, and it seems to me that a lot of folk - and most politicians - greatly underestimate the challenges involved. It'll be a long while yet before human spaceflight becomes mundane, I think. And I'd REALLY love to be proven wrong about THAT!

People of Britain: You know that you're not locked into using the same ISP forever, right?


The trouble with choice is what kind of choices you're given. No, I'm not trying to imply that choice is a bad thing - it shouldn't be, in a sane world. But we don't seem to be in a terribly sane world in a lot of ways.

Take electricity and gas supply, for example. It used to be that for either your only option was to speak to the Electricity Board or the Gas Board. You could walk into their shops and get things sorted. Simple. I liked that. Now we have multiple choices, all with differing charging regimes and all to supply the same electrons or gas molecules. In essence, the only thing that you're doing is choosing which set of admin staff you want to send you your bills. WTF?! And you have no option but to phone or email them.

Then there's 'phones. Oh my.. - I positively HATE mobile phone companies - all of them. Every single one that I've encountered seems to be positively trying to confuse one with their charging regimes. All of them insist on the inclusion of crap that I have no interest in, and some things - like an ansaphone facility - that I REALLY do not want. All of which leads me to feel that my only choice is between which set of rip-off merchants I give my money to, as none of them provides the simple service that is all that I want or need. Don't even get me started on 'phone manufacturers.. REALLY don't.

The situations with trains is both as bizarre as with power utilities (no real choice if you need to catch a train from A to B) and even more frustrating because when things go wrong, its not that uncommon for the people owning the actual rail, the people owning the trains and the people running the stations to be different companies, and you can bet your boots they'll do their best to blame each other for any problems when they can get away with doing so. Long gone are the halcyon days when you can just send British Rail a stiff letter from Mrs A Cantankerous-Biddy expressing ones displeasure at the poor service the previous day.

Choice is good when it enables you to actually get a difference in quality of service, or to choose a service that gives you what you want no more, no less. In these days of featuritis, buck passing and regarding customers as marks rather than, well, valued customers, a lot of the choices we're presented with nowadays seem pretty bogus and meaningless to me.

Personally, I've stuck with the same ISP for, well, durn, over 20 years now because they supplied me with a service adequate to my needs at a price I don't mind paying, and the very few times I've had problems, their customer support has been excellent, so why would I bother looking elsewhere or going through the hassle of switching? I have plenty of things to do in life besides trying to choose between suppliers of stuff and services, switching, and dealing with the fallout therefrom!

Right, I'm off back to the old biddy's home!

Fix LibreOffice now to thwart silent macro viruses – and here's how to pwn those who haven't


Re: Sent a dodgy ODF?

Nah, I use only ODF unless circumstances force otherwise. Which for me, is seldom, thank goodness!

The great leveller: Nokia waves magic wand over unfair wage differences, and *poof* they're gone


Re: Cool, cool...

We might tend to ask less often but here's the thing - even when we do ask for pay rises, we are very seldom given them. If, after asking several times for a pay rise and being refused, one tends to start looking for new jobs instead of carrying on asking for a payrise that clearly isnt going to happen.



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