* Posts by Shannon Jacobs

783 publicly visible posts • joined 9 Apr 2007


Voyager 1 data corrupted by onboard computer that 'stopped working years ago'

Shannon Jacobs

Early 80's database still alive

The oldest tech I'm still using and maintaining is a database app that I wrote in the early 80s, but the data in the database goes all the way back to 1971. In the earliest days it was actually a list updated with a typewriter. (I still had a typewriter until 1989.) I use it about 3 times per week, booting up an old multi-boot machine with a 20-MB DOS partition. I was never able to set up an emulator that could support the FCBs properly, but it's become a concern. It's an ancient ThinkPad, and built like a tank, but how long can it keep going?

Pretty sure that there are very few bugs in the code, but I sometimes edit it to add functionality. I remember adding a rolling window for the Year 2000 problem, and there was a decade tweak around 2011, too. However the main recent modification was a new statistical function that was added about 3 or 5 years back. Major problems because I had forgotten about the internal editor, so when I used an external editor the handling of the CRLFs was quite different.

I mentioned the typewriter, but it also went through a PL/C (dialect of PL/I) version around 1982. At that point the program and data were living on Hollerith cards. And I added a different front end for the Internet around 1997. That version is also still alive, but actually in more feeble condition than the back end running in DOS. I don't even have any admin capability on the server where the PERL/CGI runs, so around 2016 I wound up doing a separate version that can run the PERL locally. Most recent work with the system was actually a new statistical function using JavaScript. But for the last few years I've been thinking about porting the whole thing to Python...

But my actual interest in the story was whether this explains the anomalous location and velocity data. I read about it in a book called "13 Things That Don't Make Sense". Can't find any current references to those anomalies.

IBM deliberately misclassified mainframe sales to enrich execs, lawsuit claims

Shannon Jacobs

Troubles me that I don't find anything surprising in this story... I spent much of my career in the Big Blue food chain. Never "recovered" from the obsolete principles of "Respect for the individual", "Customer service", and "Quality". By the time they retired me, I was completely confused about what the company was doing, but I was pretty sure it had something to do with money and more money.

IBM HR made me lie to US govt, says axed VP in age-discrim legal row: I was ordered to cover up layoffs of older workers

Shannon Jacobs

Me, too, but...

You can't fight city hall so I finally gave up. If they need more witnesses, look me up. I'm on the Web, eh?

Probe: How IBM ousts older staff, replaces them with young blood

Shannon Jacobs

Re: 67 This Year

I'm also younger but think I'm one of the ones they were writing about... Or maybe not, since it isn't clear if I'd be filed in a different crease.

Hmm... Anyway I can find out if my forced retirement was special or just part of the policy? Maybe I just preferred not to take in personally?

'Break up Google and Facebook if you ever want innovation again'

Shannon Jacobs

Implementing his solution via tax policy? Dream on...

This article would be counter-evidence against the idiocy of #PresidentTweety's America except that I bet most of you (especially you Americans) have never heard of this guy and he is NEVER going to have any influential political office. I would go farther and say that none of the REAL Trumpsters could understand a word he's saying.

Having said that, I strongly agree with him and even believe tax policy could and probably should be the main tool to implement his ideas. I think there should be a progressive tax on corporate profits, where market share (and dominance) is the metric raising the tax rates of excessively large and monopolistic corporations. It would NOT be a penalty for success, but rather a strong inducement to reproduce the good ideas, creating MORE choices and freedom for everyone.

In contrast, the current system is solely focused on increasing corporate profits. Most of that has become a fantasy, too, since it is often tied to imaginary market caps based on fantasy stock prices.

Not going to invest more time just now, but if I notice your interest, maybe I'll go beyond this elevator summary:

Capitalism is dead. Communism, too. Today we worship corporate cancerism. There is no gawd but profit, and Apple is gawd's chief prophet. The google is only around #7 on the list of prophets.

Chap behind Godwin's law suspends his own rule for Charlottesville fascists: 'By all means, compare them to Nazis'

Shannon Jacobs

Short-circuiting discussion is BAD and helped Trumpism

Unintended consequences. Back in the days before he proposed his law Mike was a major flamer and, if you ask me, occasional troll. I think the real reason he proposed the law was because too many of the "discussions" he was involved in sank to the level of flame wars and name calling, where Nazi was the ultimate slander and the proof that further discussion was pointless.

His wording of the law was clever (in his own peculiar way), but the unintended consequence was to short-circuit a lot of real-world comparisons of people who really were acting like Nazis or wannabe Nazis. NOW he wants to apologize and make amends (again in his own peculiar way). I had concluded that some of Trump's supporters should be compared to various unsavory characters long ago--but I still didn't really understand what was going on, especially regarding the targeted use of disinformation.

Anyway the chief troll of those days in Austin used the handle Omega Man. He's already passed away, but I still want to study the lesson of his life... Mike wanted to "rehabilitate" him, or at least help him improve his social skills, but I was on the other side, regarding him as incorrigible... Did he get better? If so, what or who influenced him in a positive direction? If not, does that prove my old thesis that too much computer usage is bad for mental hygiene?

Donald Trumped: Comey says Prez is a liar – and admits he's a leaker

Shannon Jacobs

Re: "Leaker"? No !

No, that wouldn't be a leak, but it would be hearsay. To be a leak it would have to be some information that was properly classified as secret so that the disclosure of the information would be harmful to the nation's best interests.

Contrary to #PresidentTweety's opinion, his personal interests are NOT identical to the nation's best interests. In this case the Donald's best interests appear to be diametrically opposed to the nation's best interests.

If there is no legitimate basis for secrecy, and we already know that by the lengths Trump went to to try to keep other witnesses away, then there is no basis to call it a leak. That word is just the propagandists trying to spin their best Level 3 lies. (Though Trump himself is an extremely unskilled liar and can rarely get above Levels 0 and 1, he has money to hire some of the best professional liars. (However the money is mostly laundry fees for Putin's dirty money.))

'Nobody's got to use the internet,' argues idiot congressman in row over ISP privacy rules

Shannon Jacobs

Non-partisan redistricting is NOT gonna happen

Non-partisan redistricting is an amusing idea, but it will never happen. In contrast, improved software has merely made it easier to refine the process to a razor thin edge. The goal is to adjust your districts down to a safe margin while concentrating and wasting as many of the opposition's votes as possible in a minimal number of sacrificial districts.

If it makes you feel any better, there actually is a reason the Democratic politicians are relatively bad at the redistricting game. Their voters are less "reliable". The so-called Republican voters are extremely consistent from one election to the next, so they can be gerrymandered to a fair thee well. Not just that they always vote for the same party, but that they also vote more consistently.

Shannon Jacobs

Benefit of the doubt? "Notas Badoff" might not be American?

If you [Notas Badoff] aren't American, then you have some excuse for being ignorant of the state of American politics. I suppose the sad thing in that case is that America used to believe anyone could become American, whereas #PresidentTweey was elected largely on the promise to reverse that...

I don't know how many of his voters use the Internet, but your comment is just a variation of the "...and they don't have to vote for him" argument. The voters' thoughts (and votes) have been rendered irrelevant. The politicians pick their voters first in today's America. Partly by gerrymandering, but increasingly through selective disenfranchisement.

Term limits would be good, but they wouldn't address the fundamental rot. There is no shortage of useful idiots and worthless tools to plug into the districts as long as the so-called Republicans can control the outcomes of the so-called elections.

This guy, though terrible, is quite far from the worst of them. I'm biased towards stupidity, so I think Louie Gohmert may be the YUGEst stupid of them all. However he'll have a hard time beating such contenders as that moron who recently said he wasn't working for his voters because he's another fabulously wealthy asshole and he doesn't need their stinking government money. They should be grateful that he's just such a charitable fellow.

Android beats Windows as most popular OS for interwebz – by 0.02%

Shannon Jacobs

Is it corporate cancerism, Doc?

"Doctor Android, tell me the truth! Is it corporate cancerism?"

Just the obligatory weak joke, but the topic is much deeper. I can't decide whether or not this is a good thing.

Obviously it's basically driven by Moore's Law. We can now pack enough computing power into a smartphone that most people don't need a full-sized computer for their daily tasks. Microsoft sort of saw it coming, but on the distorted and twisted foundation of their cancerously overgrown OSes and bloated applications, they never figured out how to do small things. That left the increasingly important small world to Apple and the google, but I think they are evil, too.

More or less evil seems like a difficult trade-off, but that seems to be where all our shopping decisions arrive these days. If you can point me at a really large and successful company that is not tainted by the evil, please do so. I'd feel much better.

I think the real problem is that American capitalism died years ago. What we have now is corporate cancerism. We basically take it for granted that the rules are written by the most cheaply bribed politicians and the bribers are the most dominant and hugest companies working to get rules that eliminate all the "loser" companies. Per my sig, the real EVIL is the resulting loss of freedom as competition is eliminated.

Do we still have any meaningful freedom in smartphones? At least two choices would be better than one, if you think Apple is competing against the google. However my impression is that relatively few people consider both options. The customers seem to live in like separate, not competing, worlds. Or maybe the choices within the Android world count, even if the google has all of those choices by the balls?


#1 Freedom = (Meaningful - Coerced) Choice{~5} ≠ (Beer^4 | Speech | Trade)

IBM UK: Oh, remote workers. We want to be colocated with you again

Shannon Jacobs

Transformation away from careers

Interesting analysis, but a bit too hyperbolic. In particular, I think that it discounts "respect for the individual", which actually had a relevance era at IBM that lasted much longer than the google's "don't be evil" motto. I don't think IBM ever wanted to kill employees (and doesn't want it now because of the paperwork), but the old IBM did want full-career lifetime commitments, and the IBMers of those days returned the favor with extra and in many cases extraordinary results.

My observations of recent years convince me that they are transforming the company in a different way. The most important data point was the number of new hires: Around 70,000 without growing the company. When you do the math, normal attrition of a long-career company gives a value around 20,000 to 30,000 employees per year, so the "excess attrition" is around 50,000 now. The new pressure on remote workers is just a new target for attrition.

Rather than being a career company, the new IBM will have three groups of employees. There will be a small elite kernel of career people, but most employees will be in two transient groups. One will be fresh hires right out of university, and most of them will be filtered and eliminated within two or three years. They are essentially forced to look at a fairly large number of needles looking for the sharpest ones. The other group will probably be the largest, consisting of short-term contractors brought in to do the actual grunt work for the actual paying customers. Speedy onboarding and offboarding in the new IBM lingo.

As someone whose career was largely associated with IBM and even as a shareholder, the changes bother me a lot. However it's just part of the evolution of our economic system to evil companies that give us only the "freedom" to seek the least evil options.

Uninstall QuickTime for Windows: Apple will not patch its security bugs

Shannon Jacobs

Re: Slowtime

Does that mean the Reg has been reimplemented as a Quicktime website? Gawdawful slow now, and actually reminding me of what I thought was the worst performing website (HBO's), which I'm pretty sure is implemented in Flash. Substance last, eh?

Punchline is that this is probably my first visit to the Reg in about a year (off of a /. link), though I used to visit the Reg on a daily basis. Is that mindless troll still denying climate change between his diaper changes? Or has he finally noticed the record temperatures each year? Naw, he probably has another idiotic article around here explaining why today's latest news from Greenland doesn't mean shite.

The Register Comments Guidelines

Shannon Jacobs

Bye-bye reg.

Actually, I like the skeptical slant of the reg. Or rather I used to like the skeptical slant until I was censored for attempting to note in public that one of your staff members has ZERO credibility on a particular issue and that his tedious and repeated rants on that issue are a waste of time.

You see, the problem is that once you have established you are a bunch of censorious bastards, then there is no reason to believe anything you say on such silly topics as free speech or the open exchange of ideas. Not even sure how many of my prior comments may have been disappeared, since I trusted the reg and wasn't looking over my shoulder to see if you were looking over my shoulder.

Having broken that trust, I'd be a damn fool to spend more time on the website. It might make me want to say something, eh?

Anyway, your financial model is already driving you into the ground, and I expect to hear about your collapse at some point, but at least I will get some schadenfreude out of it.

Q. How much did Google just spend applying political pressure in the US? A. $4.6 million

Shannon Jacobs

Ball-less liar

Can't even put your own name on your insane crap? Go back to FAUX 'news', eh?

Shannon Jacobs

All your attention are belong to the google!

The motto of today's google is "All your attention are belong to us!" They are no longer just being carried along for the ride--they are bribing the pols who are driving the train wreck just like the rest of the scummiest companies in America, and don't give me any of those "fight fire with fire" excuses, cause I've seen the results of today's google.

Hard for me to believe that I ever bought the "Don't be evil" thing, though for a while I imagined it could be fixed. Maybe "Don't be evil or support criminals" could have helped? (Like fixing the corporate goal of making the world's information available so that it would consider protecting private information?)

Don't much matter, however. Google is just supporting the American "government of the corporations, by the lawyers, for the richest 0.1%" as Abe Lincoln said at Gettysburg. Whatever, eh?

For you whippersnappers:


Four phone hijack bugs revealed in Internet Explorer after Microsoft misses patch deadline

Shannon Jacobs

I agree with you that 120 days is enough time if the companies cared, but since there is NO meaningful liability for any degree of negligence or incompetence (check your EULA), why should they care? EVER. My own belief is that if Microsoft were held to account merely for the direct damages from their failures, they would probably be bankrupt, and if they were accountable for punitive damages for gross failures, then they would surely be gone.

Having said that, I'm not sure a rigid 120 days is the best time limit. I think the time limit should reflect the complexity of the bug in relation to the likelihood of someone else discovering it. What they are doing now is almost like giving out hints, and the main meaning of the 120-day limit is that it indicates the bug is hard to fix. Or possibly that the owner of the bug has evaluated it and decided that it isn't a real threat or that the exploits would be too difficult to implement?

Toshiba CEO and execs quit over $1.2bn six-year accounting scandal

Shannon Jacobs

Re: Don't they have accountants in Japan?

Writing as a long-time shareholder in Toshiba, I am certainly not impressed. However, I don't really blame Toshiba or the accountants as much as the irrational or even insane uber-profit pressures that drove them to do it.

It seems to me that the fundamental problem is that Toshiba is basically a commodity company, and commodities don't get any stock-market respect these days. Small profits are NOT acceptable, especially combined with the risk of a major loss in a bad year. There is a kind of fundamental mismatch between being a "glamorous" high-tech company and earning small profits because you are mostly producing commodity goods. Always lots of competitors trying to produce and sell any commodity, but if your profits are too small because of that reality, the falling stock price and lower market cap make the company too vulnerable to financial shenanigans.

Time for a tortured metaphor? What really worries me is that Toshiba is NOT the brightest star in this barrel of starfish. Not a trailblazing company these days (if indeed they ever were), and so it is quite likely that some other Japanese high-tech companies have been playing similar games. Things seem too quiet out there?

Fishing (mentally) for an example candidate... On the surface, I can't see the similarities between Toshiba's problems and Sony's, but Sony has been more of a trailblazer, so the framing would naturally be different. Maybe the underlying problems can be seen as similar from some perspective?

Microsoft: Hey, you. Done patching Windows this month? WRONG

Shannon Jacobs

That's NOT why

It's the financial models that limit the kind of "professional" apps that Linux can support as well as the overall success of the OS. Microsoft and Adobe may produce mediocre code, but their financial models are outstanding.

Feel like you're being herded onto Windows 10? Well, you should

Shannon Jacobs

Re: I started to hate Windows 10...

My newest machine is my first Mac, and several of my older machines have been converted to Ubuntu now. (Yeah, I play with too many computers.) However, it was the (start of the) end of support for Windows 7 that pushed me over the edge, and I sincerely hope I never buy another Windows PC or Microsoft anything. Probably pick up a Chromebook when I need a fresh toy.

Having said that, I finally decided to attempt to upgrade one of my Windows 7 machines to Windows 10. It's performance had been upgraded down to terrible, so I'm willing to see if Windows 10 helps. However, I'd bet against it.

Why did it take so long to decide on the "free" upgrade? Because I don't believe "free" and "Microsoft" go well together, and I STILL want to know what is wrong with this picture. I'm sure it is NOT out of the goodness of their heart, even if they are trying to be less evil these days. "It's the money, Lebowski." But where is the money? I spent a while trying to figure it out, and I still can't.

First, we have to remember it has NEVER been the users. The big money came from the makers (and the savings in liability costs came from evading all liability in the EULA). MS wasn't going to sell many upgrades in any case, but now every delayed or deferred sale due to an upgrade is at least a slowdown in the revenue stream. This is especially problematic for the makers. Unlike MS, they are in a tough and competitive business, and I think that a couple of the big ones may fall down (and possibly even go boom) if their sales slump even a few percent for a few months...

Another scenario was OS unification for the future. I was willing to consider that theory until MS cut the phone side with the latest layoffs. Any unification approach has to be LCD, which meant increasing phone support, not reducing it. Or maybe I was just dreaming of a decent small kernel OS without all the unneeded cruft (and associated security vulnerabilities). The performance of the OSes passed my needs a LONG time ago, around the time I could juggle 4 or 5 programs at a time. Even for me, beyond that it's either overkill or showing off...

In conclusion, I still don't trust Microsoft.

Joed really hit the nail with that comment about "freedom of choice". (The "d" isn't for Dell, is it? If so, it's a smallish world.)

Sky still blue, above the ocean: Google still raking it in

Shannon Jacobs

For exceedingly small values of "good".

Do you have anything more valuable than your time? If you're confused about the question, imagine you only have two minutes to live, and how much of that time do you want to waste in your confused state.

Now consider how much of your time the google would like to fill with ads. The answer may surprise you: ALL of it. Of course that isn't possible, but we have to let the google dream, don't we?

There was a time some years ago when I believed the motto "Don't be evil." Later on I thought the motto could be fixed with a bit of tinkering, something along the lines of fixing their other motto to be something like "Making all of the world's information available while helping you protect your privacy." These days, I think the google has a new motto:

"All your attention are belong to the google!"


At first I didn't blame the google so much as the rules of the American business game. Then I learned that the google had become the largest tech lobbyist bribing the pols. Very few companies that I actually want to deal with these days. Just picking the least bad option--like the pols (on those rare occasions when the pols didn't pick their voters first).

Adobe: We REALLY are taking Flash security seriously – honest

Shannon Jacobs

Depends on the financial model

Actually, I think the critical wrinkle for Adobe was pioneered by Microsoft. Take a quick look at your legal remedies if some MS software causes you some damage. The answer may surprise you.

Just kidding. Of course you know that Microsoft is completely free from any liability for any mistakes, incompetence, or downright negligence, and Adobe just followed along that well worn trail.

Personally, I think we would have rather better software if the companies were also liable for their mistakes. If you added in some punitive damages, Microsoft would have gone bankrupt long ago.

US yoinks six Nigerians to Mississippi on '419 scam' charges

Shannon Jacobs

How to make the punishment fit the crime?

Most of the appropriate punishment options seem to hurt too many trees. Basically something involving manual correction of EACH of their spelling errors as replicated over the millions and probably billions of spam messages. Plus correcting the addresses for all the misrouted ones (but without delivery, of course). You know, something to keep their hands from being too idle--for 7,000 years or so.

Google makes new hires ONE pay offer. 'Negotiation'? What's that?

Shannon Jacobs

Money is not the ONLY dimension that matters

I actually count that in the google's favor if it represents an underlying philosophy that money should not be the most important decision factor. Having said that, I think there is too much evidence that "Don't be evil" was an amusing fantasy, largely because of money-related internal pressures. My favorite candidate for the new google slogan is

"All your attentions is belonging to the google."

Microsoft giving up on phones? Naaahh ... Windows 10 Mobile lumbers toward release

Shannon Jacobs

What's up in MSland?

Anyway, I'm baffled. One of the theoretical justifications, apparently sanctioned by MS, for giving away Windows 10 upgrades was that of OS unification, but that only makes sense if they go with an LCD route, and the smartphone has to be the foundation. Except not?

They are certainly killing their paying customers, who desperately need those new PC sales that will be delayed and even avoided by the OS upgrade... Microsoft has deep pockets, but the makers are in a highly competitive business and some of them are not even going to survive against any significant cut in sales.

In the past, Microsoft has done well with mediocre software and clever business models, but I sure can't understand where they think they are going now. What I can say for sure is that I once bought a so-called smartphone using a Microsoft OS, and I really can't imagine that I would EVER buy another. Yes, it was some years ago (as measured by 3 Android smartphones and one feature phone), but my experiences were so horrific that I can't imagine giving MS another chance with my phone.

Microsoft starts switching on paid Wi-Fi service with latest Windows 10 preview

Shannon Jacobs

Feaping Creaturitus

Excellent example of a feature that has NO business being part of the kernel operating system. Useful if you want it, but NOT something that needs to be there by default for EVERY user.

Five lightweight Linux desktop worlds for extreme open-sourcers

Shannon Jacobs

Financial models matter

Gosh, I should get persistence points at some point. Let's try a slightly mathematical form:

(Mediocre Software = MS) + (clever financial models) = Success!

(Good software) + (lousy financial models) = Failure!

What if the programmer actually got PAID for the work he agreed to do? Imagine there was a reasonable project description of the work to be done, the resources required, and how the project would be assessed, and potential donors could buy 'charity shares' until the project is funded or abandoned.

Support is a pain in the butt. What if there were a support project to PAY someone for doing it. Basically the same basis for the charity shares, but more like a support contract to be shared with other people up to the limit of the amount of support everyone agreed to.

The same basic approach can be applied to some of the ongoing costs like running servers required for specified features.

Anyway, the current models are basically unchanged, as is the continuing failures and abandonment. Sorry, I do NOT want to put a lot of my time into programming it myself, but I'd be willing to chip in some money if there was a balanced system.

US govt now says 21.5 million people exposed by OPM hack – here's what you need to know

Shannon Jacobs

Richard Clarke already announced this news

Look for the book Cyber War. The less things change, the more they stay the same--but I'm not actually blaming the Reg for reporting this non-new news. The devil is in the details, so I only hope my own details were too old to be included... I can think of at least three paths by which I could have been included somewhere...

Decision time: Uninstall Adobe Flash or install yet another critical patch

Shannon Jacobs

Won't somebody think of the market opportunity?

Why hasn't anyone produced a competing Flash player of MINIMAL, STABLE, and SECURE functionality?

I still have no idea what market model Adobe thinks they are using, but whatever it is, it's broken to death.

Sony phone chief vows to keep losing money forever and ever

Shannon Jacobs

Good thing I'm not a greedy shareholder

...but this year's annual meeting (June 23rd) was more like a funeral than a party. Something of an improvement over the last two, which were more like incipient riots, but the mood was definitely downbeat. I reached my limit and left early, even though they'd seated me in the second row. I suppose they wanted the 'international' face.

Obviously I'm not holding the shares in expectations of glorious profits, and though I had an option to get a Sony smartphone last year, I went with the Samsung... Just this week I bought some new headphones, but this time I didn't even give Sony any serious consideration.

Adam Smith was right about that invisible hand, you know

Shannon Jacobs

Re: Algorithmic trading

The current stock market is more like a frictionless engine with constant acceleration. HFT is just increasing the speeds at which it spins, but at some point it's still going to tear itself to pieces. We've already had a couple of interesting scares from what were only minor wobbles...

Strongly recommend Flash Boys by Michael Lewis. There's a new invisible hand in the house, and it's about to slap us silly.

To close with the obligatory constructive suggestion: There needs to be some minimum transaction charge (dare I say "tax") to create metaphorical friction. Not certain, but I believe the transaction charge would also redefine the delay times that Michael Lewis is focusing on.

Will rising CO2 damage the world's oceans? Not so much

Shannon Jacobs

Byline checked. Do NOT read.

What are the actual assets of a media outlet, even a webzine like the Reg? Integrity and credibility. Do they face the truth and do we trust what they say.

By extension, these assets are also needed by the authors or so-called journalists. This byline has ZERO value.

Time for a new pen name, and best of luck in hiding your corrupt deceitfulness for as long as possible. Maybe the new name will have some beginner's value for as much as two articles.

Hold my vodka, comrade – I got this: Ruskies blast supplies to the ISS

Shannon Jacobs

Re: It just boggles the mind!

Two disastrous failures in 135 missions is not highly reliable. Big dumb boosters are much more cost effective for routine payloads.

Windows 7 and 8.1 market share surge, XP falls behind OS X

Shannon Jacobs

Now students, please use "free" and "Microsoft" in the same sentence.

Just hard for me to trust Microsoft after so many years of non-niceness. Let me break it into two categories:

(1) The money. The paying customers are the makers. Every upgrade of a Windows 7/8/8.1 machine is NOT the purchase of a newly manufactured machine. Microsoft has lots of cash in the bank and might not care, but the makers are in a viciously competitive low-margin business, and a substantial drop in their sales is liable to push some of them under. One of the possibilities is that Microsoft expects to have a better grip on the balls of the surviving makers--but I can think of others that are worse.

(2) Technical. I do not know of a SINGLE carrot in Windows 10. Not one new feature that I desperately need or even want. Actually, the Windows OSes passed my normal needs a LONG time ago, and all the cruft since then is just increasing my feeling of vulnerability for a bit of shiny. It's really hard for me to think of a single crucial feature since Windows 95, though of course I'd like the option to add some capabilities AS actually NEEDED and at the application level, NOT the OS level. Yes, some features of the OS have gotten faster, but not enough to notice since I'm already the slowest horse in the cavalry, as the old joke goes.

If I had the choice, I'd probably be running a completely debugged version of Windows 95, and I'm sure such a think OS would run the pants off Windows 10, to boot, while also being more secure and understandable. Oh wait. I forgot. Microsoft decides those things, not us.

Teaching people to speak English? You just need Chatroulette without the dick pics

Shannon Jacobs

Re: why english?

Good question. I was actually thinking about submitting a suggestion for a kind of vocabulary-based reading game with some derivative ideas from a Japanese game known as shiritori. The design of this game is actually quite flexible, allowing it to be used for any language learners, from children learning their first language to L2 adults to wannabe language teachers, and for any language... Well, any language that has some news-related websites and some level-sorted vocabulary lists.

Turned out it that it's a lottery. You have to pay $500 for a ticket.

Neo-GOP "charity" in action. We can't notice you unless you have $500. Poor peasants need not apply.

I'd say something rude, but I'm not rich enough to throw $500 just to get Dubya's attention.

Google presses 'send' on 'undo send' – AT LAST

Shannon Jacobs

Six years to come up with a better idea? FAIL.

Not a terrible idea, but a terribly slow implementation and it could be so much better, too. If it isn't the EVIL that's rotting their brains, there's something else going wrong at the google.

Rather than a specialized Unto feature, imagine a general future-mail feature. For the undo function, you provide a setting to make the default delivery time later than the send time. In my own case, I'd actually prefer to have a 5-minute delay, but 30 seconds is not long enough to be especially helpful. If you think faster or slower, your mileage (and setting time) may differ. In that version, you just put it as a delay in the Outbox, and opening the Outbox will freeze the sending (with a warning, of course) and allow you to view any undelivered email. Again, it should be controlled by a user setting, but I'd recommend the default be something like an "Undo-able" button or "Unsend" option when there is pending email, and the click just takes you to the Outbox.

Now for the generalization: I want a "considerate delivery" option. That would consider whether or not the email is likely to be rude or inconsiderate, based on rules that I can control for my recipients. If I know that someone receives email on their smartphone, then I would prefer that non-urgent email not be delivered at 3 in the morning in their time zone because it might wake them up. Is it routine work-related email? Then I'd prefer it not be delivered until working hours. I don't want to contribute to work/life imbalance.

Another generalization would be for tickler use to support the Calendar, sending yourself (or someone) a future reminder to make sure some task has been handled. Various others, but the real point is that general tools are better.

Of course, if the google wasn't EVIL, then they would have offered the generalized tool to break the spammers' business models. Same as it ever was, the main problem with email remains the spam. Obviously, I lost my warm and fuzzy feeling about the google.

SGI to flick switch on new Japanese super

Shannon Jacobs

Why the minor press release?

Is there something significant or interesting about this machine? Might be in the top 20 for supercomputers, but nowhere near the top, so that doesn't seem to merit a feature article. Power efficiency? If so, the article should have played it up more.

Microsoft U-turns on 'free' Windows 10 upgrade promise for ALL previewers

Shannon Jacobs

Hard to trust Microsoft on Windows 10...

The words "free" and "Microsoft" do not mix well, so when Microsoft says this is a "free" upgrade to Windows 10, it is basically impossible for me to believe that there is no catch. Here's the best I can do:

I need to see a credible explanation of WHY Microsoft would do this. To be credible, there are at least two requirements:

(1) It needs to explain the money side of it.

(2) The venue of the explanation has to be independent of Microsoft's control.

Let me try to make those conditions as clear as I can:

Condition (1) is not an expectation of opening their books. However, it has to make it clear at least roughly how much this "free" will really cost Microsoft and why MS would feel that it's worth that much money. The most plausible public explanation that I've seen is that MS believes that this is the best way for them to retain unified control over the Windows OS community. If that is true, then the threats need to be made clear. Mac? Chromebooks? Linux? In any case, the public explanation doesn't make much sense to me, and I'd like to see credible explanations of the nonpublic possibilities.

Condition (2) is actually split. One side is that it can't be published by Microsoft or on any Microsoft-controlled website. The other side is begging for journalism of credibility and integrity, which may be too much to hope for these days. The Reg's skepticism might be part of it...

Sun like it hot: Philae comet probe wakes up, phones home again

Shannon Jacobs

Pretty certain those numbers don't make sense

However, my competing wild guess would be that the transmitter is weak, so getting closer will greatly improve the data transfer rate. Data storage does not seem to be a problem on the lander end, though what I've read has only been indirect evidence on that topic.

Ubuntu daddy Mark Shuttleworth loses fight to cancel $20m bank fee

Shannon Jacobs

Already knew his judgment was less than perfect

Been trying to use Ubuntu for years, in spite of the frequently flawed decisions of the big donor financial model...

Hey, here's a silly idea. Listen to the small donors, too. Let us help pay for the features we want, even including support of features we don't want broken.

*sigh* I'm not in the mood to waste more keystrokes again, but details available upon polite and sincere request from someone who can actually use them... I'm increasingly convinced the only way to do things is to do them myself, which (1) would require quitting my current job, and (2) require more years of life than I probably have left. (Bad sign when too many of your old friends have passed on already...)

Hey Google, what’s trending? Oh, just the death of journalism

Shannon Jacobs

Limits of negativity?

Actually, part of the reason I like the Reg is the skepticism. However, this is a case where you could actually DO something. My oft-repeated always-ignored suggestion is that you start selling SOLUTIONS to the problems you are so delighted to tell us about. Wasting keystrokes, but here's a slightly different version:

You hold the subscription money in a "charity share account" that we can donate towards projects that solve the problems. Perhaps 90% is for internal projects, which basically means you take the money from one pocket to another. For example, an internal project to pay for an article you'd already published might not raise the funding, but that would give you valuable feedback about your bad choices. In contrast, a topic we're actually interested in would fund the project for the original article, a project for more research, and maybe one or more specific follow-on article projects.

The external projects would be special gravy, especially for the authors who sincerely want to solve the problems. In addition, one would hope that their research into and resulting clarity in describing the problem earns them some say in the projects that might help solve the problem.

*sigh* More details available upon request, but I'm not holding my breath waiting for requests. It seems like the only way to make it happen is quit my current fairly satisfactory job and do this one myself.

It's OK – this was an entirely NEW type of cockup, says RBS

Shannon Jacobs

Have you read Flash Boys?

Should be obligatory background for this topic. Hint: You ain't seen nothing yet--but someone profits.

Climate change alarmism is a religious belief – it's official

Shannon Jacobs

Skepticism falling over into stupidity

I actually like the skepticism of the Register, but on this topic it has simply tipped over the bottle of pure stupidity. At least seeing the byline saves me having to read farther--and by extension to ANY topic that byline gets associated with.

'Snowden risked lives' fearfest story prompts sceptical sneers

Shannon Jacobs

Au contraire, they certainly want the cluefull to be afraid

To the contrary, they are targeting both sides. They want the people who understand the truth to know that the truth will be discredited just as easily as lies can be propagated.

Then again, I think the truth here is that Snowden is also a patsy of the sincere sort. I'm sure their anti-spook spooks detected him as a possible security risk and almost as sure that he was fed the information they wanted to be leaked. Ask Michael Hastings if you don't believe me. Oh wait, his car was hacked and used to kill him. Oh wait, it was just another amazing accident.

Oh wait.

Spy: Acres of comedy talent make this smart spook spoof an instant classic

Shannon Jacobs

General Theory of Relatively Funny things

My latest theory (with a tip of the hat to Dave Gutteridge) is that humor is linked to learning. Part of the instinctive reinforcement mechanism that drives children to play games and laugh while they are developing survival skills. it even applies to slapstick: It's funny because we are learning how to avoid the pains of getting hit and falling down. Also explains the dearth of rightwing humor: They don't WANT to learn anything that might upset their prejudices and ignorance.

HP is 80 per cent closer to breaking up. Now, about the IT estate...

Shannon Jacobs

I can barely recall when HP was one of the best companies in the world...

The decline especially bothers me since so much of it is linked to two women executives, and I would like to see women succeed. HP is NOT succeeding and, speaking as an HP shareholder, I am quite confident this will NOT make the situation better.

Most of the problem is just the anti-freedom corruption of the American economic system. The secret is that real freedom is about meaningful choice without coercion. Freedom and large monopolistic profits don't go together. Instead of dividing highly successful companies to specialize more and reduce choices, they should force the top companies to split into competing companies and give us more freedom and choices.

As a shareholder of HP, in the example to hand, I would wind up with equal value in shares the new competitors. As they competed and diverged, I might sell one in favor of the other, but if the competition leads to more innovation and growth, I'm still going to win by sitting on both of them...

Latest Snowden leak: NSA can snoop internet to catch 'hackers' – no warrants needed

Shannon Jacobs

Re: Just how did Snowden get all this info?

My own theory is that he's a patsy. Snowden is sincere, and a true patriot, to boot, but the internal anti-spook spooks spotted him long ago. They recognized he could be used and thus picked him to be fed exactly the information that they wanted released (while pretending not to). If they didn't recognize the psychological profile, then they are too stupid to believe. (Supporting evidence in the amazing technological incompetence of the so-called major journalist who was dragged into it. Greenwald is also sincere, but he was and almost certainly remains a sitting duck for any hacker.)

The real goal of the Snowden "leaks" is to intimidate people, especially hackish computer experts with any trace of paranoia. If you lean that way, you certainly feel justified in being afraid of the government. In conclusion, Michael Hastings was killed by hacking his car. At least I'm thinking so. Maybe it's time for me to have one of those accidents? And you, too, for having read too far?

As regards this article, my own interpretation is that running a Tor browser is probably enough to earn the hacker tag. Or maybe just visiting any webpage where Tor is discussed. Heck, let's go all the way down the slippery slope. Searching for "tor" or any phrase that includes the three-letter sequence "tor" is probably enough to quality as a "hacker" in the NSA's all-seeing eyes.

Have a nice day. Don't get too paranoid.

Fanbois designing Windows 10 – where's it going to end?

Shannon Jacobs

Is it evil? Is it stupid? Yes, it's Microsoft!

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's Superman. NOT Microsoft.

Actually, it's possible that MS isn't as evil as they used to be. It is possible they have enough money. ROFLMAO.

Another logical paradox. Anyone who gets that kind of giant money WANTS the money and will NEVER have enough of it.

Different paradox here. MS marketing people have noticed that people like choice. It's that whole stupid freedom thing of meaningful options without coercion. The problem is that MS lives by coercion and fake choice. This is why they are so confused. The only choices they (barely) want to offer are fake and meaningless choices, like the desktop wallpaper.

Monolithic thinking. Perhaps the natural outcome of a philosophy that is driven by the single metric of money? Companies are NOT people, my friend in a flying pig's eye.

Finally! It's the year of Linux on the desktop... nope

Shannon Jacobs

What's the best financial model for a dead horse?

If your horse is dead and losing all the races, why don't you flog it harder?

Seriously, the problem is the financial models, NOT the quality of the software. Companies like Microsoft, Oracle, and Apple have good financial models uber alles.

Wasting the keystrokes, but I recommend funding by selling shares to future users, with the projects broken down based on such categories as new software, new features, ongoing costs, or support.

Quick (keystroke-minimizing) example, let's say you want to continue using an old version of Ubuntu but you run into a problem and discover it is no longer supported. Then you might have options to help fund some support or to help create a replacement version. If enough people agree with you, then your option wins and the money gets allocated (from the charity-share brokerage), but if not, you can pick again until you find a solution.

White House forced to wade into Oracle vs Google Java bickerfest

Shannon Jacobs

Re: Huh. I would have thought the money spent by Google and associates

Yeah, but all of the recent figures I've seen indicate that the google is spending much more money on lobbying than Oracle is. Ellison is only JV evil now?

On the other hand, the google's lobbying may be more spread out than Oracle's? At this point it seems the google has something of a diffuse focus...

Windows and OS X are malware, claims Richard Stallman

Shannon Jacobs

Re: A fool without money will soon be ignored

Must be a Windows Vista user.

The kernel of Apple's OS was BSD... Not sure how far beyond that they've gone, so maybe they deserve more credit.

(On "major" OSes I'm running Yosemite and Windows 7, myself. I'm still using some Ubuntu, but it has mostly been sliding the wrong way for my applications...)

I should clarify as regards Apple that it is the PRINCIPLE of closing the box that I regard as anti-freedom. Microsoft has adopted the same principle, but it wasn't their idea. (Perhaps I should have included that as a count against Microsoft, but never inventing a wheel is not actually a crime, just as reinventing a wheel is also okay.)