* Posts by Mage

9078 posts • joined 23 Nov 2007

Google Docs crashed when fed 'And. And. And. And. And.'

Mage Silver badge

Re: rhino in which case the "bad tempered" is redundant.

You mean Hippo.

Despite being vegetarians they bite crocs in half for fun and any small yappy dog is doomed to be a snack.

Crocs jump out of a river at prey. When they discover it's a young hippo with its mum it's too late.

Apple to bin apps that go three years without updates

Mage Silver badge

Stupidity & Arrogance

A really good program / app might not need an update.

What Apple wants is to make older hardware obsolete due to newer apps so people buy new HW.

Microsoft fixes Point of Sale bug that delayed Windows 11 startup for 40 minutes

Mage Silver badge

Re: unbelievable that ANYONE thought that W11 was remotely needed for a till!

Baffled why ANY ATM or Till (POS) has used Windows in last 20 years. Linux was certainly stable and suitable for those even in 1999, certainly by the time Vista arrived it was a far better choice. Though when regular users were getting Vista the POS might have been NT 4.0 embedded or Windows CE. Setboxes, routers, Sony ereader all linux then. BT switched existing install base from WinCE to Linux of setboxes.

The ONLY thing absolutely needing Windows was Workstations, Laptops etc. Though we didn't ditch Windows for Linux completely till we didn't want server based Windows Update Service.

Mage Silver badge
Thumb Up

Re: it wasn't created until 1996.

True, but why was it only in NT4.0 as a technet preview in 2000 approx? USB May 1996, and NT4.0 August 1996. USB was never publicly released for NT4.0, presumably so as to protect Windows 2000 sales. Yet Win2K was rushed out, buggy and unfinished. We continued installing NT 4.0 sp6 for customers until SP1 of XP was out. XP SP1 was the "completed" version of Windows 2000 (NT 5.1 vs 5.0).

Was the Itanium version of XP the shortest supported windows ever?

I did test the technet/MSDN preview of USB on NT4.0. The scanner wouldn't install because the programmer was checking OS Version. MS frequently told people NEVER check for OS version to decide to install but installed features! So I installed driver on a Win2K laptop and copied the files to the NT4.0 install with added MS USB stack. The scanner worked.

It's amazing though how many people assume Win95 did have it from the start.

Mage Silver badge

Impressively long or depressingly long?

This is the maybe 5th major iteration of NT which was first released as NT 3.1 nearly 30 years ago (1993).

It's really a fiddled with version of Windows 10.

Are they rushing stuff out with little design and less testing? It's an appalling list of fixes.


NT 3.1. NT 3.5 (possibly 1st Server & Workstation artificial versions), NT 3.51 (add faked for Win95 apis not in NT3.5 or Win32s intended to stop people running Office 95 on Win32s on Win.3.1, Win 3.11 & WFWG3.x).

NT 4.0 (Add Explorer shell and stupidly move Graphics driver into Kernel for 10% performance). Took sp6 to fix all. Sp7 would have added USB but cancelled to save Win2K sales). Note that original Win95 had no USB.

Win2K, XP 2003: really NT 5.x. The third version

Vista, Win 7: really NT 6.x, win7 should have been free to Vista users. The 4th version

Win 8, a sort of Phone GUI version of 7. Should never have existed on desktop.

No Windows 9 because idiots during NT 4 & NT 5 era checked for Win9x

Windows 10. Really 5th version because Windows on Desktop was an aberration. Mostly free to Win7 & 8 users. 4th or 5th iteration.

Windows 11. Increment version number for Marketing reasons. See version numbers of Word For Windows!

Supercomputer lab swaps lead-acid UPS batteries for alkaline gear

Mage Silver badge
Thumb Up

Re: More environementally friendly?

Lead Acid batteries would be perfectly environmentally friendly if casing was re-usable. The weight isn't an issue for a UPS or a Solar panel install.

How recyclable are these cells?

Any fool can write a language: It takes compilers to save the world

Mage Silver badge

Re: KISS 2: Generic Code

Macros are evil. Unexpected side effects. Great for Assemblers, daft for a new high level language.

Mage Silver badge

Re: Originally, C++ compiled to C

To give fast access to the C++ language in the 1980s. Glockenspiel C++ used back-end C compilers, such as MS C. But it was only a stepping stone.

The other approach was used in UCSD p-system. An ideal instruction set for the language and then a Virtual Machine to execute the p-code. Later used for Visual Basic, Java, MS J++ which became C# and also Android's VM, which is using source like Java. Maybe some versions of Forth too.

GCC is a good idea. Having a Pre-processor that emits C, C++, Java or Javascript is fine to prototype and test a new language before porting it to either GCC or a compiler for a VM.

JAL and some BASIC for PIC micro use an intermediate code like the idea of p-code, but a final pass creates the machine code. A little like GCC.

The wild world of non-C operating systems

Mage Silver badge

Re: really cemented it though was the US DoD, in the 1980s

Actually USA DoD plumped for ADA in 1980s. C was a decade earlier.

GNU, BSD etc and later Linux born because the developers of UNIX thought AT&T unfairly had copyright. A lot of it wasn't paid for or developed by AT&T.

POSIX is a separate thing from UNIX.

Mage Silver badge

Re: What about Assembly Language?

Yes, MS-DOS was a bought in reverse engineering of CP/M 86, which was assembler. Much of CP/M 86 and CP/M 86 or DOS Apps were auto translated from 8080 code to 8086 by an Intel tool. The 8088 / 8086 was really a superset of 8080, hence the awful 64K segments and no 16 bit flat addressing like all the true 16 bit cpus in early 1980s.

Early C was barely more than a Macro assembler and the most common C bugs where/are

Unexpected expansion of the macros

Array bound violation because no compile or runtime checking. purely null terminations. Both Modula-2 and VB6 had a far better way of doing strings. C++ also had a better way of doing strings from about 1988, but mostly ignored.

Libraries buggy or misunderstood.

No strong typing, issues with parameters, inappropriate casts (Solved and ignored in C++, solved better in Modula-2).

Inappropriate use of pointers (dereferencing pointer to unallocated RAM, arithmetic etc).

Big failing of C++ was AT&T's insistence on backward compatibility. Strustrupp didn't want it and it's been crippling since.

Mage Silver badge

Jupiter ACE

It ran Forth Programs on a Z80, but I don't know what its minimalist OS was written in.

I wrote an almost OS in Modula-2 for x86 to run a Game engine. It only used DOS to load and had simple co-operative multitasking using coroutines. I wrote drivers in M2 for keyboard, CGA, Hercules, EGA, VGA, soundblaster PCM & MIDI and audio on PC speaker. It could do MIDI music, sound effects on PC speaker, SB audio, scroll background, move foreground tiles, animate sprites, multi-key input and read HDD all at the same time. Performance as good or better than assembler coded games. Though only using 8086 compilation it needed at least IBM AT compatible hardware rather than XT for various HW timers, DMA etc.

Sadly getting artwork done was too much work.

Android's Messages, Dialer apps quietly sent text, call info to Google

Mage Silver badge

Re: Because hoarding data is their MO.

Also Apps you've stopped will restart at power on.

Why do Apps Google Maps & Amazon Kindle & Google Play Store Books start at boot?

Mage Silver badge

Re: Because hoarding data is their MO.

This isn't really new news.

I've been using Signal for SMS instead of the default Messages.

Also I use K-9 email as the Android email client is really using Google servers not at local email client at all, so if you use the default Android email Google gets all the credentials and messages.

I use a third party keyboard. Yes, an evil one could be a security risk, but there are companies doing free touch keyboards that are less evil than Google.

The Google Gallery is also a problem. I have an alternate to that.

To think that we used to worry about Microsoft!

Microsoft veteran demystifies Abort, Retry, Fail? DOS error

Mage Silver badge

Re: The OS designers to some extent

Really till DOS 2.11 or DOS 3.3, one designer, Gary Kiddall in approx 1974. He offered the idea of a personal desktop computer based on 8080 to DEC when Intel (where he worked) wasn't interested. They weren't either, so he founded Digital Research. He was never going to be a Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, because they were good at business and using other people's ideas, so ultimately DR faded away despite CP/M 86 on PC, DR-DOS, GEM GUI and later CP/M 80 reborn on the Amstrad PCW series.

Mage Silver badge

Re: because MS-DOS was "heavily inspired" by 70s CP/M

In fact CP/M-86 was almost automatically built by DR using the 8080 to 8086 translator. A company made a sort of copy (somehow) of CP/M 86 and MS bought that company. They only edited/re-wote later versions. So originally no sub-directories. I forget if they came with 2.11 or 3.2. The MSDOS 3.3 was the first decent version. DOS 4 & 5 poor. Next useful upgrade was 6.22, which maybe was last standalone version.

MS did later sell Xenix for the 286 before they had MS version of OS/2 (1989 after IBM & MS split on OS/2). Maybe that's why NT version numbering starts at 3.1 in 1993?

The DOS 7.x only came with Win 9x, which unlike earlier NT 3.1 and NT 3.5 wasn't a true self contained 32 bit multitasking OS. Win9x ran DOS code natively on DOS and 16 bit Windows code natively. NT used WoW so 16 bit api calls used 32 bit API and all 16 bit code ran on the NTVDM.

IBM crippled desktop computing for a decade by choosing 8086/8088 cpu family simply because CP/M applications could be quickly ported instead of the many available true 16 bit CPUs with flat addressing instead of ghastly 64K segments to allow 8080 code porting. Partly they only wanted to compete with Apple 6502, CP/M etc and not innovate or compete with their own products. Zero innovation in the catalogue build 8088 based IBM-PC.

Happy birthday, Windows Vista: Troubled teen hits 15

Mage Silver badge

Re: Windows ME is 10x worse than Windows Vista

Running Mint + Mate desktop 100% time since Jan 2017.

November 2016 replaced XP laptop (with Ubuntu dual boot) with Win7 & Mint dual boot. Jan deleted the win7 and reformatted its partition as EXT4 mounted as /home

Mage Silver badge

Re: Windows ME is 10x worse than Windows Vista

Win ME wasn't NT. Vista was NT.

Win ME was pointless garbage, Windows 98SE was better, if you needed stuff that didn't work on NT 4.0

We didn't upgrade NT 4.0 till after XP came out. Not sure if we waited for SP1. Win2K was the unfinished XP, as Vista was unfinished Win 7

Mage Silver badge

No good points

Win7 ought to have been free, it was a Vista service pack.

Server 2003 was bloated but last decent Windows GUI.

Idea of downloading memories far-fetched say experts after Musk claim resurfaces in latest Neuralink development

Mage Silver badge

Re: When did he become the richest man?

Only in theory sense. It's based on share value and Tesla shares are x100 to x500 overvalued. It's speculation fuelled by carbon trading.

Mage Silver badge

Re: ST Transporter

See Clifford Simak's Way station which explicitly has the original body is killed and disposed of, so it really only transfers the non-physical meta-data.

In reality the Transporter was added to ST for budget reasons. The shuttle model too expensive. It's an impossible amount of data to transfer apart from the energy requirements which make the "replicator" also impossible.

The problem with Musk, Zuckerberg and others is that they miss that SF is mostly entertainment and occasionally a warning. It's never intended as a blueprint. Read Shockwave Rider.

Machine learning the hard way: IBM Watson's fatal misdiagnosis

Mage Silver badge

started in Jeopardy

The main thing shared by Jeopardy Watson and medical Watson was branding. Winning at Jeopardy is a parlour trick anyway.

Current AI is really pattern matching. So for medicine you need a vast database of human curated data, by experts in each field. Even if it worked it might eventually be self defeating as eventually there might not be the human experts to diagnose new, unrecognised data.

HPE has 'substantially succeeded' in its £3.3bn fraud trial against Autonomy's Mike Lynch – judge

Mage Silver badge

Re: Lynch should be in prison

Yes, Autonomy people & Lynch should be in prison.

But HPE people and Deloitte people, esp. management should be sacked for gross incompetence.

Imagination GPU cleared for RISC-V CPU compatibility, licensed to chip designers

Mage Silver badge

Re: I'm curious

Me too!

I've wondered how much of Apple's small R&D budget (vs massive profits and margin) is Engineering and how much is IP staff and costs. IBM spends massively on IP.

Also the UPTO has been broken since the Victorian era and got worse. They make more from accepting claims than rejection and their theory is to leave it to courts regarding if it's not novel, too broad or there is prior art or obvious to anyone versed in the art. All most all patents fail on more than one of those.

The James Webb Space Telescope has only gone and deployed its primary mirror

Mage Silver badge

Re:They're called spy satellites

AFAIK the Hubble is slightly based on spy satellites.

What does the X37B do?

Time to party like it's 2002: Acura and Honda car clocks knocked back 20 years by bug

Mage Silver badge


Partly an adjusted wristwatch with metal back always can be more accurate than the same parts in a car because the wrist helps regulate the temperature.

Mage Silver badge

Re: Always date and time

Stupidest in world is USA mm-dd-yy

Best is yyyy-mm-dd

Revealed: Remember the Sony rootkit rumpus? It was almost oh so much worse

Mage Silver badge

Re: You have to wonder

Or a pretty USB wireless mouse with an HID USB dongle that's malicious. Also works as a mouse.

Mage Silver badge


The USB HID is STILL pile of poo.

Mage Silver badge


And since 1995 I was disabling Autorun. STUPID and warning people!

The Amiga floppy auto run virus existed before 1995.

The most absolutely stupid MS feature ever!

Then I discovered that disabling CD autorun in the Registry wasn't enough. That USB and Network needed a different settting.

Eventually on XP (2009?) MS issued a patch.

The dark equation of harm versus good means blockchain’s had its day

Mage Silver badge

Re: organise these receipts or transactions into blocks

Nothing needs blockchain.

Mage Silver badge

Re: Lack of comprehension and imagination ...

Bitcoin is purely a speculative vehicle.

Gold has uses in technology and art/jewellery.

Mage Silver badge

Re: Possible uses for blockchain:

All of those have better solutions than Blockchain.

Blockchain also is not scaleable. The transaction cost now is huge.

Mage Silver badge

Re: The doom is a bit too thick

"ways to do decentralised blockchain without burning the planet"

No, there aren't. It's a pointless tech that only exists to make crypto-currency look secure and clever.

IBAN works fine. It's free for many. Used in India and EU, but not so much in USA.

Don't confuse Credit cards and money-wiring services with electronic banking.

Mage Silver badge

Re: Yeah but...

There is big difference between a Zimbabwe Dollar and the US Dollar or the euro.

Crypto just replaces banks with dodgy server operators.

The main central banks are a manageable problem eased by the creation of the euro. There is not even a theoretical better alternative to fiat currency. Crypto certainly is not the solution and it's unworkable as a currency and not scaleable because of blockchain. Blockchain is not scaleable.

See Bruce Schneier on "trust".

Mage Silver badge

Re: Something will come of it one day

First part 100% true.

But there is no blockchain application that can't be done far better in a "traditional" way. Blockchain really only exists to make cryptocurrencies look clever.

Mage Silver badge


Author is too kind. Worse ownership security than notarised archival paper. How do you store and access an NFT?

I agree with everything else.

IBAN is an excellent, free for most users, method to electronically transfer funds. It's secure and has a tiny environmental footprint. Paypal is merely an alternative to the Credit Card duopoly. Western Union is for sending money to someone with no phone, address or bank account. It and similar cash wiring systems are now more regulated to try and reduce fraud and money laundering.

After cryptocurrencies the biggest finance black hole is the UK. About 60% of money laundering via UK and Cameron called Brexit Referendum when it was clear that the EU would give no UK exemptions to regs decided in 2016, implemented in EU, Switzerland and others in 2019 & 2020.

British Overseas Territories, IoM, Channel Is, City of London. Offshoring, Tax Havens and Hedge Funds.

A smarter alternative to password recognition could be right in front of us: Unique, invisible, maybe even deadly

Mage Silver badge

I do mean "Inbox", not Spam

Rename the folders?

Amazon Appstore melts over Android 12 'Snow Cone'

Mage Silver badge

DRM is evil

See title.

It's 2021 and someone's written a new Windows 3.x mouse driver. Why now?

Mage Silver badge

Re: Need a copy of this ...

3", 3.5", 5.25" and 8" will all work on the same floppy controller. An Apple 5.25" won't work and an Amiga 3.5" may not work.

I have a CP/M subsystem / z80 emulator and Joyce Simulation all working on Linux on a 64 bit mobo, one of the last with a floppy port.

The 3.5" & 5.25" are 1:1, just different connectors and adaptors exist. The 3" uses less wires and you can make up an IDC plug to suit. The +5V and +12V are reversed on the power connector. You can swap two wires by release using a mapping pin, but put a LARGE WARNING label.

The 8" use either a 37 way D-Connector or a larger IDC. Not all drives work.

MS formatted disks can be read direct. CP/M used very many formats and most can be read on DOS using 22Nice or Nice22 and on the CP/M distro for Linux.

Various tape formats are a bigger headache.

Mage Silver badge

Re: Intel Itanium

The 1st 64 bit XP (NT 5.1) was for Itanium. I don't think Win2K (NT 5.0) supported Itanium. Also was the Itanium version of XP the shortest lived NT for support since NT 3.5 or even the start, NT 3.1?

Mage Silver badge

Re: NT 3.51 looks very similar

Ah, waiting for IBM HW isn't the same as waiting for IBM SW.

Mage Silver badge

NT 3.51 looks very similar

NT 3.51 is simply NT 3.5 with the "fake" 32 bit API calls that MS added to win 95 so that office 95 wouldn't run on Win3.11/WFWG with Win32s. Ironically Office 95 isn't even fully 32 bit. So maybe you are thinking of NT 3.1, but I don't believe IBM ported NT 3.5 or NT 3.51 to Power PC or anything else. They were working on OS/2. By 1991 OS/2 had the Display Manager that looked like MS Program Manager.

MS had an MS OS/2 in 1989, briefly after parting company with IBM. I thought NT 3.51 came out in 1995 (because of Win95) and just had a few APIs added. NT 3.5 (sept 1994)was the release after NT 3.1 (1993). It ran on IA-32 (x86), Alpha, MIPS, PowerPC from launch. We used it. The NT 3.1 was for IA-32, Alpha, MIPS, no Power PC. However I'd be surprised if IBM did the NT3.5 addition of Power PC.

You can also run NT 3.51 Program Manager and File Manager on NT 4.0, and there was an Explorer Shell Preview for NT 3.51. NT 4.0 is also notable for having a 64 bit Alpha version and the first Clustering using any pair of ordinary NT servers. You did need a minimum of two external mirrored SCSI shelves, two SCSI host controllers in each server with SCSI repeaters in addition to whatever booted the local boot drive.

Indeed NT3.5 and NT3.51 look similar to Win3.11/WFWG3.11 but it's only skin deep. Not remotely the same.

Mage Silver badge
Big Brother

Re: "when the security of the old ones is actually better"

The Internet existed, sort of, before win 1.0. Web Sites added to existing Internet (FTP, Gopher, POP SMTP, NTTP) about 1992.

But the HID mode of USB is a security disaster. It's why Lenovo currently sells something with PS/2 ports for keyboard and mouse that has no USB ports.

Mage Silver badge

Win95 & Apple

Even Win95 had no USB support initially. It was only on NT4.0 (1996) on a cancelled Service pack previewed around 2000 or 2001.

I think win 3.11 was still supported even when win 98 was released. Apple had USB before win95 did, as a replacement for AppleTalk, which maybe was based on RS422.

Hence USB 1.0 was slow. It was meant for mice, joysticks and keyboards. Not scanners and HDDs.

UK Space Agency wants primary school kids to design a logo for first Brit launches

Mage Silver badge

first launchers gear up for a historic blast-off?


The UK had space launch ability about 60 years ago but the US persuaded them to give it up. The only country to give up space.

Same applies to UK Nukes. USA persuaded them to give it up. Also UK is the only country to give up their nukes. All bought/rented from the USA for the last 60+ years.

The UK, esp. Scotland is so far north that only transpolar and LEO is viable. There is a good reason why even the Russians and US use Europe's Space port in South America, near the Equator. Also Canada and other non-EU countries are ESA members. While the EU contributes, not all EU countries are in the ESA.

Those folk in Surrey do great satellites, but likely they will move due to Brexit.

Infosec bods: After more than a year, Sky gets round to squashing hijacking bug in 6m home broadband routers

Mage Silver badge

Re: Oh, ther joys of running unverified code ...

BBC and CNN webpages have served adverts with malware.

Run Noscript, uBlockOrigin, uMatrix etc and by default block all 3rd party scripts.

Mage Silver badge

And stupid websites complain

ALWAYS change default passwords to something about 8 to 12 characters random and written in an address book:


"This will work reliably if the subscriber hasn't changed their router username and password from the default of admin and sky"


Part of this is a classic attack. Even adverts on CNN & BBC webpages have served malware that scans your LAN and changes DNS settings on routers/Wifi via the Web Admin pages that have never been changed from defaults.

Talk Talk, Virgin, BT, Vodafone, Three & more have all suffered.

ALL Routers/WiFi are vulnerable, if they have defaults, with any browser client on any OS, unless most 3rd party javascript is blocked. Except SOME stupid websites complain you are using an "Ad blocker" when you are only doing better security than most AV software,

Russia blows up old satellite, NASA boss 'outraged' as ISS crew shelters from debris

Mage Silver badge


Perhaps time to invest in a junk collection company?

Mage Silver badge
Black Helicopters

Re: Capabilities

Already massive https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Past_military_expenditure_by_country

also see


UK spending is crazy. Who is going to invade UK? Much is spent in USA. GDP loss due to Brexit will exceed UK Miltary spending!

USA it's about pork barrel votes, not real threats.

x3 next highest and 3.7% of GDP ad 738 Billion

Saudi Arabia is spooked by Iran, a lesser extent Iraq. 48 Billion & 8.4% of GDP, is highest GDP. But seems disproprotionate

Israeli: Iran, Syria, Hezbolla, Hamas etc sp 19.9 Billion and 5.6% of GDP. Unlike UK & USA, it's survival.

South Korea spooked by North Korea. But partly USA ties.

China is not going to invade USA or Australia. Maybe Tiawan if everyone is distracted by the UK, Russians or USA doing something really stupid. See 1956: Suez vs Hungary.

Microsoft engineer fixes enterprise-level Chromium bug students could exploit to cheat in online tests

Mage Silver badge

Stupid test design!

"Tech savvy students were viewing the source code of web-based tests to determine the answers."

1) bad test design

2) Admin blocking of view source could be exploited. A stupid feature.

3) Other issues!


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