* Posts by Steve Lionel

19 posts • joined 12 Aug 2006

Intel to sell Massachusetts R&D site, once home to its only New England fab

Steve Lionel

Re: Another End of an Era moment

You may be thinking of the CONVERT= option in VAX FORTRAN - I wrote the run-time support for that. Intel Fortran still supports it.

I worked for DEC from 1978 to the end, continued for Compaq and then was hired into Intel. At the time I retired from Intel at the end of 2016, the site I was then at in Merrimack, NH, was being closed and the developers moved down to the Hudson site. I still have many friends there and they'll be relocated to nearby Harvard, MA - it would be funny if it was a converted shopping center, the way so many DEC sites in the area were.

A unified, agnostic software environment spanning HPC and AI won't be achieved

Steve Lionel


Isn't this what Intel oneAPI is supposed to (eventually) be?

Namecheap users rage at domain transfer pain, but their supplier Enom blames... er, GDPR?

Steve Lionel

I have done business with many name registrars and web hosts. Right now, my feeling is that Namecheap is the best of all I have used. Any problems I have had with their services have been addressed promptly by their customer support reps. My domains are currently spread across three hosts/registrars, but I am consolidating with Namecheap.

NASA dusts off FORTRAN manual, revives 20-year-old data on Ganymede

Steve Lionel

Re: Article is a bit light on facts.

It was one of the PDP-11 FP formats, and makes more sense if you look at it as 16-bit words. But that would be no impediment today as at least one current Fortran compiler (Intel) supports reading and writing VAX FP format.

Steve Lionel

Re: The problem probably wasn't the software...

Since 1991, the official name of the language is Fortran, mixed-case.

A 1980s-era VAX FORTRAN (it was uppercase at the time) program would likely run, unchanged, on at least one if not more current compilers and systems. Intel Fortran, in particular, supports pretty much everything from VAX FORTRAN except for RADIX-50 routines. (I was on the VAX FORTRAN (and Compaq Fortran and Intel Fortran) team for most of my career, and was the VAX FORTRAN project lead for many years.)

I agree with others that the language was not the biggest hurdle. Heck, you don't even need a VAX to run VAX FORTRAN itself, there is a freeware VAX emulator for x86.

Fortran is still a very active language. Fortran 2018 is in the final stages of standardization and plans are being drawn up for the next revision. (I am now the "Convenor" for the international Fortran standards committee.) Learn more at wg5-fortran.org

Chrome 66: Get into the bin, auto-playing vids and Symantec certs!

Steve Lionel

Chrome 70 will distrust all Symantec certificates

My experience with Chrome 66 Beta and older Symantec certificates is that it completely blocked you from opening the page - it doesn't just warn you it's insecure. Maybe they changed that for the public release. I had to complain to my web host that their own login page was affected - they did eventually fix it.

According to Google (https://security.googleblog.com/2018/03/distrust-of-symantec-pki-immediate.html), Chrome 70 will stop trusting ALL Symantec-issued certificates "including Symantec-owned brands like Thawte, VeriSign, Equifax, GeoTrust, and RapidSSL"

Whomp. Intel's promised fatter Optane drive arrives

Steve Lionel

The same

Identically - and it pretty much does, unlike flash-based SSDs which tend to get faster as capacity increases, due to more channels.

US ATM fraud surges despite EMV

Steve Lionel

Almost no US ATMs use EMV

Nearly 100% of US ATMs are magstripe-only. This, plus the widespread use of "skimming" devices on ATMs (see krebsonsecurity.com) make it very easy for fraudsters.

As for POS transactions with chip cards, it is getting better most places I shop. Transaction time is down to maybe 5-10 seconds at most, some are better than that. But tokenized payment methods (for example, Apple Pay) are even faster and more secure, so I use that wherever I can.

Facebook to forcefeed you web ads, whether you like it or not: Ad blocker? Get the Zuck out!

Steve Lionel

And indeed they already have. beta.fbpurity.com

Intel sees 'signs of improvement in the PC business' but earnings remain 'Meh...'

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A black box for your SUITCASE: Now your lost luggage can phone home – quite literally

Steve Lionel

Have two - they work

I have two of these - they work. The real comfort is when I am standing at the baggage carousel that I will know that at least the suitcase arrived at the same airport. However, the notification can sometimes be delayed 20-30 minutes, so it has been the case that I have the suitcase before the Trakdot tells me. I haven't found the Bluetooth locator function all that useful.

The automatic disabling/re-enabling of the GSM connection is the important bit.

Comprehensive security in the home

Steve Lionel

Norton 360

I tested Norton 360 MultiDevice for Amazon Vine - you can see my review here. I have been using the Norton products for many years and, while I've tried some of the others, keep coming back to Norton. As long as you're not expecting anything on an iOS device, I think Norton 360 will do what you want. I'm not sure where you get the $100 price, though - Amazon sells this for $60. No WinPho support, though.

Ten 3D printers for this year's modellers

Steve Lionel

Re: Lack of faith

The original Printrbot was all printed parts (except for metal rods and electronics), printed on other Printrbots. However, production of these is slow and quality variable, so lasercut wood was substituted. You can still print the original Printrbot pieces if you want.

I have the Printrbot+ (big brother to the Jr. in the article), and enjoy it a lot. It is capable of very good output, and I have printed many upgrade parts designed by other users.

Satnav-murdering Google slips its Maps into car dashboards

Steve Lionel

Audi already has this

Current Audis already offer Google Maps/Places navigation with a cellular link. If you don't have cellular service then it defaults to the built-in maps. With the data connection, you get Google satellite and street view on the display. It works very nicely, and is much easier to control than using a smartphone would be (plus the display is bigger and turn information is presented in front of the driver.)

What I don't know yet is how the built-in maps get updated. The dealer didn't know last I asked.

I have a high-end Garmin Nuvi but would rather use the Audi/Google navigation.

The Oatmeal hits $850,000 goal for Tesla museum

Steve Lionel

Re: Kickstarter is a great platform

And just to make the record clear, Inman used Indiegogo, not Kickstarter, for this fundraising effort. But the general comments on crowdsourcing remain.

Sites downed by 1&1 web outage

Steve Lionel


The problem today appeared to be some sort of network routing issue - which is what seems to fail in the majority of server outages I have seen from 1&1 and elsewhere. I don't think that their server monitoring (which is more restrictive than they describe - it does not apply to managed servers) would help you here.

There are two monitoring services I have used with success. websitepulse.com and siteuptime.com

Oh, as for dual hosting, my understanding is that it is two different servers in the same facility, not at different facilities. Helps with disk and server crashes, not so much with network or power issues.

Steve Lionel

Re: Dual Hosting

I run several sites on 1&1. My Dual Hosting site is fine, as are two other shared hosting sites I run. Only the dedicated server site is down. (And it is down again as of about 15 minutes ago.)

I have been through a number of web hosts and 1&1 has been the best as far as uptime goes. I have found their support to be generally good as well, but communication with customers is a big problem for 1&1.

The trouble with rounding floating point numbers

Steve Lionel

It's all a matter of scale

As a longtime Fortran programmer (and compiler developer), I was delighted to see this article, which sheds light on a subject that has ensnared many over the years. You are right that some try to "fix" the problem by fudging, and right again that decimal arithmetic (most commonly used in COBOL applications), is a better way. But there is a method available in almost any language that is proven effective - scaling.

The trick here is not to do the computations in dollars or pounds or euros, which entail decimal fractions, but in cents (or whatever is appropriate for your currency.) Scale the input values by 100 so that you are computing in cents. When you are done and want to display the result, divide by 100 and display the result rounded to the nearest .01. You'll never be off.

It is also important to keep in mind that a single-precision float (float in C, real in Fortran, etc.) is typically good to about 7 decimal digits, which means that as values get larger, you start to lose information. It is better to use the double precision datatype which is good to about 15 digits.

COBOL, Fortran and PL/I have built-in features for handling this scaling - in languages which don't, you'll have to do it yourself, but it's easy once you get the idea.


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