* Posts by Bob Bramwell

12 posts • joined 13 Apr 2007

Steer clear of the desktop virtualisation bootstorm

Bob Bramwell

Plan 9

The more I read about new technology the more I feel as though I've fallen through a time warp.

O/S bloat: What's the cure?

Bob Bramwell
Thumb Up

Campaign for Real Computing

Bazza, I completely agree with you! Actually, a year or two ago I dropped a note to El Reg suggesting they promote some kind of "Green Programming" initiative to help reduce the "... huge amounts in electricity, hardware and bandwidth ..." to which you refer.

I don't know. Programmers these days: you just can't get good help anymore.

Write haiku, win home server

Bob Bramwell

Another rejection slip

Why would you use crap

like Microsoft Home Server?

Linux is better.

Conficker seizes city's hospital network

Bob Bramwell

Windows in operating rooms?!

The next time I'm under the knife I want to know what's running my life support system. WHY oh WHY do these people insist on using Windows in critical situations like warships and operating rooms? In particular, why are they connected to the internet? This is just asking for trouble.

Google sponsored links caught punting malware

Bob Bramwell

Is it really that simple?

The trojan changes the hosts file? How? On any system (non-Windows) I've ever used the hosts file is not writable by a lowly user. So how does this work? Are people at risk using versions of Windows that don't have this simple protection? Are they logged in as "administrator"? Do downloads run with extra privileges? What?

I accept that all systems have security holes but if it is really that simple to punch through a Windows system it's no bloody wonder they are such a problem.

Alabama admits developing country status

Bob Bramwell

Junk? I don't think so

I got an XO through the G1G1 program and have been quite favourably impressed. There are problems and shortcomings, true, but there are a whole lot of very good ideas. The hardware is robust, well thought out and eminently suitable for environments where the power supply is iffy (at best). I would be interested to know how well the competing devices work in rural Peru after a year or so of use by an elementary school kid.

Where, exactly, did Negroponte "admit" that the XO is a piece of junk? I didn't see it.

When Green Computing attacks - hype or heaven?

Bob Bramwell

How about greener software?

Back in the old days programmers actually had to pay attention to the amount of code they were generating, how efficiently it ran and old fashioned stuff like that. Is it time for a revival? There is lots of talk about software bloat and the amount of hardware required to run newer operating systems, so it seems to me that a few billion computers worldwide running leaner software ought to be worth thinking about.

USB 'compact cassette' promises 1980s nostalgia, home taping

Bob Bramwell

Non-patentable idea

This thing looks as though all it is is a cassette-shaped case for a USB stick. How dull. What would be really useful for those of us who are technologically backward is a cassette-shapped MP3 player that one could push into a cassette player (e.g. in a car stereo) and play tunez. If such a gizmo had a detachable USB stick, so much the better.

There, I've said it. Now, if someone tries to patent one this ought to scuttle it. Remember, you head it here first.

Terry Pratchett has Alzheimer's

Bob Bramwell

Only the good ...

Very bad news for all of us Prat-o-philes out here. All good things must come to an end, I suppose, but somehow I'd always imagined him disappearing in puff of smoke leaving only his boots behind. I'll keep my ears open for any brain chemistry specialists who might happen to pass nearby.

Remembering the CDC 6600

Bob Bramwell

Cyber 172

Never did touch a CDC 6600, but the first big machine I got to play with was a 6400. Those ASR33 Teletypes were such a Great Thing! Oh Boy! Interactive Computing with a rhythm sectin thrown in! Way too cool.

Later the University of Calgary acquired a Cyber 172 which (IIRC) was more or less an integrated-circuit update of the 6000 series hardware.

Regrettably I have no pictures of the 6400, but you can find a (rather poor) picture of the Cyber 172 console at:


I've seen the same display on a 6400 screen. The console display was driven by a dedicate PPU (Peripheral Processor Unit), basically a mini-computer that front-ended the CPU. At the time the console was the most advanced graphics device available on the system. I believe our configuration had 12 PPU's that mostly managed I/O peripherals.

One amusing oddity of the CDC machines was that one did not "boot" them: one performed a "deadstart":


which loaded a program into PPU-0 (again, IIRC) from a panel of toggle switches.

They were fascinating machines, but I have to say I was glad to see the back end of the last one they wheeled out. The next box ran Multics....

A US CERT reminder: The net is an insecure place

Bob Bramwell


Is an authentication cookie valid only for a session? And is the session terminated when I explicitly "log out" from the site concerned? If so, presumably one can limit the damage radius by avoiding the "remember me" options (which are likely to involve more persistent cookies) and being sure to terminate one's session explicitly. Please correct me if I am wrong: this would be useful to know.

Linux and Solaris face off

Bob Bramwell

I'm a believer

I have been a home Solaris (SPARC) user since about 1993 when used Sparc 1's became available at a reasonable price. Linux was barely on the radar then. Over the years I have used many different Linux systems, none of which (especially Gentoo!) have convinced me to switch allegiance. The only two big wins I see with Linux are the increased range of available end-user software and hardware support, and the fact that it runs on cheap machines. I certainly wish Gnome and related GUI programs were better supported on Solaris but I can live with what is available. Solaris really is a very solid system, and in these uncertain days of Windows for Warships I am a big fan of reliable operating systems.

While Linux has given the open source movement a huge boost I lament the deterioration in portability of a lot of the software. Perhaps OpenSolaris will help to change that. I look forward to it with anticipation!


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