* Posts by bazza

2723 posts • joined 23 Apr 2008

Microsoft's Cloud PCs debut – priced between $20 and $158 a month

bazza Silver badge


If one's got a client machine good enough to make this experience adequate for whatever one's needs are, the chances are that the client machine is good enough for whatever it is one wants to do in the first place. Deeply mystified as to why the $£$£ one would want to go this way...

Wanna use your Nvidia GPU for acceleration but put off by CUDA? OpenAI has a Python-based alternative

bazza Silver badge

Re: Using GPUs is painful

I'm quite interested in how AMD's APUs pan out in the real world, with their unified memory address space between CPU and GPU. Ever given those shot?

bazza Silver badge

Re: The idea that ShotSpotter 'alters' or 'fabricates' evidence in any way is an outrageous lie

UK courts prohibit juries being presented with probabilities. They're rounded up to a 1 or 0, and presented as fact.

So if the prevailing Court rules say "1 in a million = dead cert", the fact that 10 million passed that way is never a matter presented to or considered by the jury.

The Register just found 300-odd Itanium CPUs on eBay

bazza Silver badge

Indeed yes. I often thought back then that Intel weren't putting FMA into x86 simply to make Itanium look better than it really was.

They did this in other aspects of x86 too. In the Nahlem architecture they added a bunch of maths registers that couldn't be access from 32bit code. This made 32bit code look a lot slower than 64bit code, even though those registers could have been added to the 32bit ISA without breaking existing 32bit code. It's all been a bit artificial. Ok, so no surprises there, but play games likes that too much and someone like AMD can come along and, overnight, make one look foolish...

bazza Silver badge

One of the reasons some people liked Itanic was because it had a fused multiply-accumulate instruction in its vector core, which is the building block for a lot of signal processing routines and a fair few image processing filters. X86/64 didn't. (Power PC did).

That kept Itanium ahead, then Intel finally added the instruction to Xeons in about 2011, after which there was zero reason for Itanium.

Giant Tesla battery providing explosion in renewable energy – not as intended

bazza Silver badge

Re: Smoke 'em if you've got 'em.

Entropy says no, but the sun says "wait your turn, I'm still only middle aged".

Have you turned it off and on again? Russia's Nauka module just about makes it to the ISS

bazza Silver badge

Re: It's not over yet

That really is bad...

bazza Silver badge

Re: UK in a unique position

Trinidad and Tobago is only 300miles north of French Guiana, and looks (at a casual glance) that it might have the room.

However, equatorial launch is primarily suited for GTO / GEO, for which there's already a glut of launchers available globally.

bazza Silver badge

I have to say that, considering where they were immediately after launch, getting it there and docked is quite a feat for the flight controllers, crew, their support and other participants in the ground->ISS journey. Hats off, beer well deserved.

The fact that their talents were required in this way is a great pity, considering what it indicates.

In the '80s, satellite comms showed promise – soon it'll be a viable means to punt internet services at anyone anywhere

bazza Silver badge

Re: Iridium?

Iridium is more than still up there, they launched a new constellation recently. They are going to be pushed further into their niches, because their data offering will be swamped by Starlink and all the other upcoming systems.

But those niches are really quite important eg the Pacific Ocean tsunami warning system relies on one of Iridium's very unique services which no one else is replicating. There might come an awkward point where they need to continue being funded for the sake of those niches, and the US DoD gets to pay for it (a bit like they run GPS and let us use it for free).

bazza Silver badge

I agree with all that but I gather that the stumbling block for the phased arrays has been the phase shifters and the manufacturing cost of the elements. There has been a lot of materials research in recent years... The maths for a phased array is easy and does not have to be done very often.

It's going to be interesting to see who does well. Starlink and OneWeb are inelegant and inefficient systems, spending 60% of their time over mostly unpopulated water. But they could be cheap overall.

However, the very high throughput GEO sats can be launched in very low numbers and immediately offer a comprehensive service, which is a good way of offsetting their high unit cost. Slightly worse latency is an issue, but not for most users.

I'm not convinced that either approach will dominate, but it does look like consumers will be getting a whole lot of good choices. Which is good news unless you're a telecoms company in the USA with a local monopoly...

bazza Silver badge

The USA is unusual in having a lot of people with money served by a worse-than-third-world private comms infrastructure. The upcoming services from Starlink, OneWeb, and the newer GEOs will be able to offer a competitive alternative, without any additional ground infrastructure. That alone is a market worth chasing.

bazza Silver badge

Re: There's also the antenna technology.

.. And the squarial certainly didn't.

There's a lot of effort being put into active phased arrays, not just for LEO but also GEO (to eliminate the need for a mobile subscriber having to point accurately). It's the enabling technology for both systems.

bazza Silver badge

Re: Can't wait...

Some places get it right. I've been in apartments in Japan where there's an RJ45 on the wall. Jolly fast Internet too...

Even Facebook struggles: Zuck's titanic database upgrade hits numerous legacy software bergs

bazza Silver badge

Re: I would like to thank MySQL..

No doubt some Facebook dev years ago said, "it's only a small tweak, that won't cause any problems"...

Everyone cites that 'bugs are 100x more expensive to fix in production' research, but the study might not even exist

bazza Silver badge

Design Your Release Process to Suit

As ever, bug costs vary according to system type. A bug on some unimportant website costs not a lot, probably. Whereas a bug in an airliner flight control computer costs $billions and kills people. Just ask Boeing (the MAX crashes being attributed to faults that were not fixed at the design stage, despite the coding company querying the design).

Visual Studio 2022 Preview 2 adds C++ build and debugging in WSL2 distributions

bazza Silver badge

Bye bye Eclipse

It's been pretty easy to use Visual Studio / Code in this sort of way for some time now. Eclipse CDT is pretty horrid in comparison these days. MS making it even smoother is pretty much terminal so far as I'm concerned.

Annoyed US regulator warns it might knock SpaceX's shiny new Texas tower down

bazza Silver badge

Re: Am I the Only One Who Wants to See Elon Frog-Marched Out of His Offices in Handcuffs?

What's changed sufficiently to suggest that FAA regulations are now overbearing? Does rocket fuel make less of a bang when it explodes? Do light aircraft now bounce harmlessly off tall unmarked towers? Is the environment at less of a risk? Are billionaires more entitled to ride roughshod over regulation these days?

The idiotic thing about Musk is that he picks unnecessary fights, or stages unnecessary stunts, or makes impetuous but incorrect decisions. All he's doing is risking being closed down.

Faster Python: Mark Shannon, author of newly endorsed plan, speaks to The Register

bazza Silver badge

Re: Faster?

Indent errors are a major source of bugs in python code, and are slightly hard to spot on account of the fact that the missing or extra characters are invisible... Give me curly braces any day.

bazza Silver badge

Re: Or...

One byte spare? Tsk, could have added a whole new feature...

On a serious note, definitely hats off. Its folk like you that gave folk like me a cheap enough machine to get started with. Beer owed.

bazza Silver badge

Need for Speed?

If Python isn't fast enough, it's the wrong language for the application.

bazza Silver badge

Re: Making Python faster

-- " the Python code is likely to be trivial and therefore reliable."

Or some end user takes it into their head to modify the python code...

Linux kernel sheds legacy IDE support, but driver-dominated 5.14 rc1 still grows

bazza Silver badge

Re: generated headers?

I've no knowledge of the situation in Linux, but what I have seen elsewhere is code generated automagically from documentation (thankfully, well structured documentation). If there are tables of registers accessible by some means in script-consumable documents, this is well worth it. One still has to write code to tweak registers in the right way, but at least the registers are easily accessible without relying on someone manually entering a lot of addresses by hand.

bazza Silver badge

Re: 37 year old interface standard?


For a while the only printer we had was a teleprinter, and it was pretty slow. Printing out a long listing was something to start before lunchtime and maybe it'd be ready afterwards. I can still hear it: chugga chugga chugga chugga chugga ding chugga wham! (that was the carriage return, you could really feel it happening...) chugga etc.

bazza Silver badge

Re: 37 year old interface standard?

RS233 was first standardised in 1960, but that merely formalised what had been around for a long time before then (they had teleprinters using the same basic idea back in WW2). I don't know if you still can, but I remember having PCs whose RS233 ports could be configured to support 5bit Baudot code (teleprinters still being just about recently relevant when the first PCs came out).

Amusingly, SATA has more in common with RS232 than it does with IDE.

Quantum Key Distribution: Is it as secure as claimed and what can it offer the enterprise?

bazza Silver badge

From the article:

"On a QKD system, the mathematics is in some way intrinsically, and necessarily, linked to the actual physicality of the system. This situation is unavoidable, and we would do well to design for and around it."

The thing is, whilst both quantum mechanics and special / general relativity are both theories that have excellent backing from myriad reliable experiments, they do not wholly agree with each other (especially about gravity). What this means with absolute certainty is that one of these theories is incomplete.

And it might be quantum mechanics that is wrong...

So, if one accepts that quantum physics genuinely is fully described by our theories of it, but someone else has a better theory that just happens to have a loophole, then QMKD is worse than useless. A lot worse, in fact.

bazza Silver badge

Re: "magic quantum woo-woo security"

It has been done through the atmosphere, though I'd hesitate to say that it had been made reliable (I don't know).

bazza Silver badge

Re: Asking a company whether they can benefit from quantum <anything> is like...

Er, the semiconductor junctions used to make up the chips that are in the computer you used to type that comment rely entirely on the quantum behaviour of selectively doped silicon.

We've all benefitted enormously from a quantum something.

Sing a song of Office, a pocketful of why: ARM64 version running in a Pi

bazza Silver badge

Microsoft briefly showed off a version of Office compiled for ARM running on Windows, also compiled for ARM, a very long time ago: 2008? "Oh goodie" we all thought, "MS are getting into this ARM thing heavily, we'll all have ARM desktops before too long (glad I kept the old Archimedes)". And what came out was - tada - WinRT.

What a let down.

So 13 years later they finally seem to be getting the idea.

Android devs prepare to hand over app-signing keys to Google from August

bazza Silver badge


From the article

Google has said: "Your keys are stored on the same infrastructure that Google uses to store its own keys. Keys are protected by Google's Key Management Service."

Oh goodie. How reassuring...

I have no doubt that Google do an awful lot to ensure the security of such things, and they are probably reasonably competent at it. But is does smell a bit like every single damned egg in one basket, well padded basket it may be... Can you just imagine the mayhem if someone got inside that.

Surely a better way would be to have an interface where the developer holds the keys and provides them to Google as required, to get the same end result. That might be a busy interface, but it leaves the control in the hands of the developer.

Former NASA astronaut and Shuttle boss weigh in on fixing Hubble Space Telescope

bazza Silver badge

Build a New One

It's the quickest and cheapest way, if Hubble is broken and there's science demand that the JW telescope won't satisfy.

IBM's 18-month company-wide email system migration has been a disaster, sources say

bazza Silver badge

Re: Dark, chaotic pit of not being able to access email or calendars

The "no email or calendar" bit does sounds like workplace bliss.

And it is a great pity that a company once famed for employing the right people at a time when every other 1930's company was men-only now has a reputation for ageism.

No Email, Permanently

The BBC had a piece some years ago about a few companies that had a no-internal-email rule. If the person you were emailing was on the same site, you had to walk there or pick up the phone. The report indicated that these companies were thriving.

And it's easy to see why; actually dealing with email is a huge f*****g waste of time, mostly. Get rid of it across the board (internally), and the firm has got itself a ton of productivity back at a stroke.

Microsoft wasn't joking about the Dev Channel not enforcing hardware checks: Windows 11 pops up on Pi, mobile phone

bazza Silver badge

Re: You're nuts

Say what you want, but it's undeniably the case that Windows has been requiring less hardware, not more, as newer versions have rolled out. I'm currently running 10 very happily on hardware on which XP was a bit of a dog.

Leaked print spooler exploit lets Windows users remotely execute code as system on your domain controller

bazza Silver badge


The print queue is required, and must contain letters.

The M in M1 is for moans: How do you turn a new MacBook Pro into a desktop workhorse?

bazza Silver badge

Re: How come ...

What is this, a call for something like the RAM add on for the ZX81, or Sinclair Spectrum? Good grief, try one of those to see how bad an idea it is.

This would be a massive backwards step in computer history.

Hubble memory errors persist despite NASA booting long-idle backup payload computer

bazza Silver badge

Re: Have they tried

Always worth asking, but I think that in this case they have tried that.

Linus Torvalds launches Linux kernel 5.13 after seven release candidates

bazza Silver badge

Re: We need ReiserFS back...

'fraid not...

Huawei dev flamed for 'useless' Linux kernel code contributions

bazza Silver badge

And, one would think, it would be a matter for minimal review, in terms of time.

Mayflower, the AI ship sent to sail from the UK to the US with no humans, made it three days before breaking down

bazza Silver badge

Re: "With no one onboard to fix it"

They've got the cargo. That's the hostage. And sure, they can make the ship go anywhere they want. The last thing anyone is going to want is a ship that cannot be manually controlled.

A container ship can have several $billion's worth of cargo on board. That's too much to be lost or even interrupted on a routine basis.

bazza Silver badge

Re: "With no one onboard to fix it"

A large part of a merchant mariner's time is spent on maintenance, including maintenance of the cargo (eg refrigerated containers). That will have to be going on regardless. There is also watch keeping.

A lot of the business reason behind such labour is insurance. A well run ship has cheaper premiums. A ship that is crewless is going to be expensive to insure.

Another part of it is piracy. Most ships routinely go through the Malaca strait and the western Indian Ocean to Suez, both places where piracy can be a problem. If word gets out that there's $billions in cargo sailing past with no one on board to defend it, then the pirates are going to be having a terrific time. Their grins may even be enough to make those Canon cameras let them on board.

Japan assembles superteam of aircraft component manufacturers to build supersonic passenger plane

bazza Silver badge

Re: Engines?

Depends on the engine and its intake.

Concorde didn't need afterburner to sustain Mach2, but did need it to get there. The SR71 did need AB to sustain supersonic speed, and in fact if heavy it could not even get supersonic in level flight; it needed a shallow dive to get there. Both depended entirely on variable inlet geometry to be efficient at high Mach numbers, gaining in efficiency as speed increased, both being thermally limited rather than power limited, both being hopeless gas guzzlers subsonic.

And, really, nothing has changed. No one is likely to beat the SR71 inlet efficiency because it was the ideal design. And the compressor design in such an engine is still a horrible compromise.

bazza Silver badge

Re: Dreams make great things

I'm impressed that TGV lines don't have to be very flat. Train like that are quite good at going up and down hill, so long as changes in gradient are sufficiently gentle. Once up to speed the hills and valleys aren't really going to have a significant effect.

bazza Silver badge

Re: What baffles me about Concorde

Concorde certainly had a lot of what was then very high tech electronics.

Totally primitive by today's standards of course, but strangely enough that gave it far better longevity than anything modern. So long as someone somewhere is making discrete transistors and passive components of almost any specification, the electronics could be repaired. It's far harder to keep modern electronics in service.

Systemd 249 release candidate includes better support for immutable OSes and provisioning images

bazza Silver badge

Well, this idiot here doesn't appreciate SystemD because it's more often than not a source of enormous difficulty. At least I could fathom my way through SystemV, but the lengths to which you have to go to find out what the hell SystemD has done now is truly irritating.

Australian cops, FBI created backdoored chat app, told crims it was secure – then snooped on 9,000 users' plots

bazza Silver badge

Perhaps though it may push them towards using WhatsApp, Signal, etc, where the providers are publicly dead set against giving the police any assistance whatsoever.

RISC-V boffins lay out a plan for bringing the architecture to high-performance computing

bazza Silver badge

Re: OpenRISC

Risc-V is the underdog, but I fear that it always will be.

I just can't see why any company would take it on as a tool to try and achieve market dominance in any existing CPU market segment. To achieve that would take a lot of money and time, and a lot of nerve, unless they already were a large incumbent in the industry.

Look at how long it's taking ARM to get into the server market; years and years of trying by various ARM licensees, and there's still very large customers who still won't even look at AMD (who are at least compatible with Intel), never mind giving a whole new ISA a try.

Nor can I see an academic collective being able to do things fast enough for it to challenge a well resourced, well practised company.

People who sell or run software for a living are collectively very conservative. Even if someone came up with a compelling, gonna-be-market-beating Risc-V offering, a large part of the existing software owners / runners would be content to wait for Intel / AMD / ARM to catch up and stamp all over it.

bazza Silver badge

Has RiscV Got What Makes A Super Super?

I'm not convinced. What a supercomputer these days needs is SIMD cores closely coupled with fast memory interfaces and fast low latency interconnecting fabric. The CPU ISA that is used to orchistrate it all is comparatively unimportant, so long as it does not produce much heat itself.

So if RiscV wants to get into the HPC business, it'll need those things. And the problem is that getting software math kernels for SIMD cores right take a lot of very specialised care and expertise...

China's ISCAS to build 2,000 RISC-V laptops by the end of 2022 as nation seeks to cut reliance on Arm, Intel chips

bazza Silver badge

Closed Source

Where this won't help is with running closed source software that they also consider essential. It's no good having a domestic IT ecosystem where every machine is binary incompatible with the rest of the world's if you sometimes need to run their software (eg CAD, or silicon design tools, big important software for big important jobs).

So they can't achieve full independence without somehow reimplementing the software tools they will still rely on which cannot be got simply by cloning a repo.

Can a 21.5-inch iMac beat the latest-and-greatest M1 model in performance? Kinda

bazza Silver badge


I've had a reasonably good rummage around, but have been unable to find anything definitive about whether or not the M1 silicon has the equivalent of Intel AVX. Anyone out there know?

Little tidbits like this article suggests not. I don't know if Blender uses AVX or not. Given how Rosetta is supposed to work you'd think that a statically translated Blender would, if the M1 silicon were up to it, be at least comparable to running on Intel hardware, but it wasn't. So perhaps Blender does use AVX, and perhaps M1 is rubbish in that department.

AVX512 is a seriously chunky piece of kit. I know that similar SIMDs are bolted to ARMs (Fujitsu do for their latest supercomputer), but I don't know if Apple has bothered to or not.

Microsoft flips request to port Visual Studio Tools for Office to .NET Core from 'Sure, we'll take a look' to 'No'

bazza Silver badge

Not Many Options

I can't see what they can possibly do, other than something like a brutal big bang "Office 2022 is now .NET Core", or whatever. This is the kind of thing that Apple just do; announce a breaking change, and go through with it no matter the consequences. I've been constantly amazed at that eco-system's ability to just keep dying a little, everytime Apple does it.

It's clearly untennable to leave Office stuck with .NET Framework when MS are actively encouraging the entire .NET world to go to Core. Also, saying "Can't they eat Javascript" has got to be some sort of perverse joke; cross platform it may well be, but then WTF is .NET Core supposed to be all about?

Anyway, I thought that all this COM stuff was supposed to solve this kind of thing. So far as I can see, the only way it can be this screw up is if the COM Add-ons are (as the article hints) run purely in-process. But the Wikipedia article on COM says that "COM objects can be transparently instantiated and referenced from within the same process (in-process), across process boundaries (out-of-process), or remotely over the network (DCOM)." So does MS have a really simple option, changing the add-on architecture to use out-of-process instantiation without anyone really having to change that much of their existing code bases? If that were even mildly feasible, surely doing that ASAP is a good idea?


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