* Posts by Carlie J. Coats, Jr.

42 publicly visible posts • joined 13 Aug 2006

FTC sues VoIP provider over 'billions of illegal robocalls'

Carlie J. Coats, Jr.

Spoofed numbers

Spoofing phone numbers of government agencies and health-care providers should be a felony -- just as much as impersonating a policeman is. And civil damages should be at least $25,000 per violating call.

The present civil penalties scheme under the US Do Not Call Act is grossly inadequate (the civil penalty is $500 if no aggregating factors are present, $1500 if any or all aggravating factors are present): the whole scheme needs to be adjusted for inflation since 1990, and then additional penalties for multiple aggravating factors for a call should be additive. Use of any spoofed number should be a severe aggravation -- say $5,000 -- with $25,000 for government/health-provider spoofing.

We get the privacy we deserve from our behavior

Carlie J. Coats, Jr.

A Copyright-Maximalist position

Following the Berne Copyright Convention treaties, my position is this:

My life is a work of performance art before God. Any unauthorized recording of that life subsequently used for profit is copyright violation -- felony copyright violation in some countries. And should be treated as such.


£42k for a top-class software engineer? It's no wonder uni research teams can't recruit

Carlie J. Coats, Jr.

...capable... NOT!

"...scientists whose main roles lay elsewhere. Although they were capable..."


From 35 years experience as a PH.D. mathematician and software engineer for environmental modeling, it is my experience that most of these are not only not capable, they are not willing to accept the possibility that they don't know everything. Frequently they are actually hostile to both software engineers and mathematicians.

Among meteorologists, there seems to be an institutional insistence on codes written for the limitations of mid-1980's vector machines and their compilers. And the "sensitivity" version of US EPA's air quality model is rife with errors caused by not considering numerical overflows and underflows correctly...

Keep calm and learn Rust: We'll be seeing a lot more of the language in Linux very soon

Carlie J. Coats, Jr.

Write C++ in any language

There's an old joke that some programmers can write Fortran in any language.

The sad fact is that in some parts of the environmental modeling community, the fashion is to write just this sort of incomprehensible C++ in Fortran!

[Fortran, btw, has actually evolved into a very nice language -- much safer than C/C++. OTOH, it is still possible to write much of the stuff the joke complained about using "legacy" compatibility features in Fortran. FWIW.]

Windows 11 comes bearing THAAS, Trojan Horse as a service

Carlie J. Coats, Jr.

Vendors who lie

And I can show you a screen-shot of Google Chrome on Linux displaying the text below. In this, you claim that what clearly does NOT work does work.

I HATE vendors who lie to me!!


Hmm. Your browser version isn't supported.

Here's what works:

Microsoft Edge

Google Chrome

Mozilla Firefox.

Ad blocking made Google throw its toys out of the pram – and now even more control is being taken from us

Carlie J. Coats, Jr.

Re: Nothing wrong with ads ...

...and may not substantially delay page-loading. That's my *first* criterion for blak-holing.

My life as a criminal cookie clearer: Register vulture writes Chrome extension, realizes it probably breaks US law

Carlie J. Coats, Jr.

Re: quoth El Reg: remember the First Amendment?

But US Supreme Court says First Amendment requires permissions for anonymous speech: see McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission, 514 U.S. 334 (1995).

Moore's Law is deader than corduroy bell bottoms. But with a bit of smart coding it's not the end of the road

Carlie J. Coats, Jr.

Performance limits

And because of parallel overhead (for example), that inefficiency sets limits on best turnaround time. When you plot performance vs number of processors, you normally get a U-shaped curve: at first, adding processors cuts your turnaround time, but eventually the parallel overhead kicks in enough that adding more processors adds to your turnaround time. 64 processors may well be slower than 32 in that instance.

The way to fix it is better algorithms and better coding, to push the whole curve downward toward the X-axis.

Twenty years ago or so, I reviewed a paper on someone's parallelization of an atmospheric-chemistry model. Their best performance was happening at the 16-processor level. But. A different and equivalent model I know achieved better performance than that one on just 2 processors -- and scaled better, so that its performance-curve was best at 32 processors. If your model is too inefficient to begin with, it doesn't matter how many processors you throw at it, you are limited by that initial inefficiency.

Carlie J. Coats, Jr.

If only...

Except that many of these supercomputing applications are written to suit the hardware-behavior and compiler-limitations of 1980's vintage vector machines. Unnecessarily.

Which is why my version of the WRF weather-model is so much faster than NCAR's...

Stop tracking me, Google: Austrian citizen files GDPR legal complaint over Android Advertising ID

Carlie J. Coats, Jr.

I don't care

"I don't care if Amazon records a history of things I buy and uses it to suggest products while I'm logged into the same account...:

I just wish they did a better job of it. Recent Amazon recommendations have been useless ;-(

Web pages a little too style over substance? Behold the Windows 98 CSS file

Carlie J. Coats, Jr.

One of the reasons I'm running (KDE3-fork) TDE.

Another is that KDE has decided that it won't suppport XRANDR panning ;-(

Carlie J. Coats, Jr.

Re: The Modern UI/UX


I'll see your 23 years and raise you 12...

What happens when the maintainer of a JS library downloaded 26m times a week goes to prison for killing someone with a motorbike? Core-js just found out

Carlie J. Coats, Jr.

It's my experience (over the course of more than 1e6 lines of production environmental modeling code) tht *every* project I've handed off has subsequently been royally screwed up by the bureaucratic coders.

That's why I stay "gatekeeper" over what is left. FWIW

IBM, Microsoft, a medley of others sing support for Google against Oracle in Supremes' Java API copyright case

Carlie J. Coats, Jr.

Re: Oracle's point of view

You are completely ignoring the fact that for more than ten years Sun (the prior owner who was bought out by Oracle) _encouraged_ exactly what Google did: they wanted third parties to use it, in order to increase the range and demand for their Java product.

I certainly don't agree with a whole lot of Google's behavior, but they're in the right on this one.

Tinfoil-hat search engine DuckDuckGo gifts more options, dark theme and other toys for the 0.43%

Carlie J. Coats, Jr.

Re: Go

And Google's results have been getting progressively worse...

American ISPs fined $75,000 for fuzzing airport's weather radar by stealing spectrum

Carlie J. Coats, Jr.

Re: Sensible suggestion

Then the alternative is to create more-reasonable causes for private action.

Currently, the law calls for $500/call civil damages (with $1500 for calls after a request to cease). Court costs are going to be a lot more than that, so it's a losing proposition for the call-receiver.

As a suggestion, define an "aggravated violation" of the Do Not Call act as either (a) robocall; or (b) call that uses a spoofed or obfuscated phone number, and let the penalties be:

*) $5000/call

*) legal and court costs

*) triple reimbursement for teleco costs in helping identify the offender

As the previous poster noted, you need to encourage the telecos to *want* to help.

Also, larger penalties with costs included would encourage the legal profession to want to help (better than than ambulance-chasing :-)

The seven deadly sins of the 2010s: No, not pride, sloth, etc. The seven UI 'dark patterns' that trick you into buying stuff

Carlie J. Coats, Jr.

Re: Two such patterns missed completely


An example I recall: search Amazon for "30-inch 2560x1600 monitor" and only 3 of the top 10, and 7 of the top 25 match that specification.; instead they're 24-inch or 27-inch or some other resolution. That's wasting my time in an obnoxious way.

Do they want me to assume they bring the same (lack of) competence to everything else they do?

Refactoring whizz: Good software shouldn't cost the earth – it's actually cheaper to build

Carlie J. Coats, Jr.

Re: If you want to go fast . . .

What he actually said is--throw *two* away: "If you have a new problem that needs solving, then do the best job you can of analysis, then design, then implementation. And you will have something that *almost* works. Throw it away and take a two month vacation. Come back and again do the best job you can of analysis, then design, then implementation. You will have something that solves the problem you were originally trying to solve. But it is brittle, and lacking adaptability. The long-run worst thing you can do is to use it. Throw it away and take another two month vacation. Come back and again do the best job you can of analysis, then design, then implementation. This time you will understand the "problem behind the problem" and will come up with an implementation that is elegant, extensible, and robust...":

Facebook's inflection point: Now everyone knows this greedy mass surveillance operation for what it is

Carlie J. Coats, Jr.


Absent explicit "work for hire" agreement in advance, copyright for performance art belongs to the performer (not the idiot behind the camera). And for performing my life, I am the performer.

Why should not all this aggregation of my life be massive copyright violation for commercial gain, a criminal offense?

You GNOME it: Windows and Apple devs get a compelling reason to turn to Linux

Carlie J. Coats, Jr.

Example in today's news: Unimpressed by Gnome

GNOME 3.28 Removes Option to Put Icons on the Desktop --


No, the cops can't get a search warrant to just seize all devices in sight – US appeals court

Carlie J. Coats, Jr.

Re: Mess

A better solution to

I do believe that it sucks that positive evidence is being thrown out.

I also believe that it sucks more that police are just pawing through

everyone's lives without respecting that little niggle called "due process".

Get rid of that pernicious "sovreign immunity" doctrine,and go ahead and convict the guy, but let him sue all those involved for the illegal warrant. That way, the real offenders on both sides of "the law" get punished.

The cloud is great for HPC: Discuss

Carlie J. Coats, Jr.

On those virtualization overheads

Consider how AWS behaves relative to an HPC application compiled with "-xAVX" on a SandyBridge or later AWS node (this causes the compiler to use the "AVX" vector instruction set in building the executable program). Here are some notes from my own experience:

When running "on the bare metal", well-written CFD applications typically see an 80% or better performance boost. The WRF weather model only sees about a 30% improvement with "-xAVX", showing that the design and/or coding is rather sloppy.

However, on AWS, WRF compiled with or without "-xAVX" causes virtually identical performance (within 2%) -- performance that is significantly worse than the "bare metal" performance, by the way. This indicates that the virtualization is killing the potential improvement from the more powerful processor and its (more-powerful) instruction set.


Init freedom declared as systemd-free Devuan hits stable 1.0.0 status

Carlie J. Coats, Jr.

Re: Already have it running.

"Personally, I thought that it was a problem that didn't need fixing but what do I know eh?"

My experience is that I have as many systemd-related troubles in any given month since installng it as I'd had in the previous _decade_. And almost as many as I had running Linux the decade before that.

The problem does need fixing.

systemd-free Devuan Linux hits version 1.0.0

Carlie J. Coats, Jr.

"Why do you _NOT WANT SYSTEMD_ out of interest? "

Because I've had more trouble with that kudzu-spreading infection systemd over the last year

than I had with SysV init over the previous two decades. That's why

Linus Torvalds won't apply 'sh*t-for-brains stupid patch'

Carlie J. Coats, Jr.

Re: You have to remember that Linus is not the manager of any of these people.

The fact that Linux is by far the hugest successful collaborative project in history would seem to indicate that Linus' personality _is_ a help. Without that no-compromise attitude, it would have failed long ago.

Your wget is broken and should DIE, dev tells Microsoft

Carlie J. Coats, Jr.

Re: If only ...

Back many years ago, at their press conference where they introduced Windows NT, the Microsof marketroids doing the presentation claimed, "It complies with POSIX. In particular, it has the Korn shell, 'ksh'."

When one of the audience claimed, "No, you've got ksh semantics wrong", the marketroid replied, "No I assure you that it is correct."

"No, it isn't."

"Sir, I assure that our experts have looked at it, and..."

Interruption from another member of the audience, "Look, asshole -- that's David Korn himself!"

So this broken wget is typical Microsoft.

Norman Conquest, King Edward, cyber pathogen and illegal gambling all emerge in Apple v FBI

Carlie J. Coats, Jr.

Time-enshrined behavior

It is a matter of record that Thomas Jefferson was involved with the creation of encryption devices (the"Jefferson Wheel"), and that a number of the Founders, including Washington, Jefferson, and Franklin, routinely used encryption to protect their correspondence.

Did they give the FBI back-door access? Or did they try to forbid that in the Constitution they wrote?

Stephen Hawking reckons he's cracked the black hole paradox

Carlie J. Coats, Jr.

Evaporating black holes

"...if you waited a sufficiently ridiculous number of billions of years, the black hole itself would boil away into space."

This is not in general correct; the smaller the black hole, the faster it will evaporate by this mechanism. In the limit, a tiny black hole would evaporate in a small fraction of a second, in a ridiculously large explosion.


Linus Torvalds fires off angry 'compiler-masturbation' rant

Carlie J. Coats, Jr.

sizeof --> size_t

Because "sizeof" gives a "size_t", the entirety of "hlen + sizeof(struct frag_hdr) + 8" should also be "size_t" and the comparison should be of "size_t".

Assuming a 32-bit system, you're in trouble with networking code for which this overflows.

And if it does, then (it's unsigned, remember), the overflow will be to a small value

and the test will fail for that reason.

If it's a 64-bit system and there is any danger of trouble, your network has long since gone past what it can deal with. And you're requiring far larger messages than either the OS or any conceivable hardware (for at least the next decade) can deal with.

Carlie J. Coats, Jr.

Re: The FORTRAN FEMA trailer has stopped nearby....

And a good lisp programmer can write lisp in any language -- including Fortran. :-)

Carlie J. Coats, Jr.

Re: Line length - actually, 60-72

Actually, the human-factors people tell us that line-length in the range 60:72 is best; readability is (slightly) degraded at 80. (By this I mean line-length exclusive of indentation: a line using columns 24-84 is basically as readable as one using columns 0-60.)

And I REALLY HATE web-presentation that forces lines longer than 120: their stuff is TOTALLY unreadable. (Some of IBM's documentation fails this way; they should know better ;-( )

Carlie J. Coats, Jr.

Re: The FORTRAN FEMA trailer has stopped nearby....

You should see Ph.d.-candidate C++. It's much worse.

Or Java written by someone who belives "structure is good. The more structure the better, no matter whether it is relevant or not to the situation at hand." I've seen so-called scientific visualization stuff with more *files* than there are lines of code in my C package.

Carlie J. Coats, Jr.

Re: Goto has some niches.

It can also be proven that in the worst case, code length grows exponentially in the number of GOTO's eliminated.


AT&T accused of Wi-Fi interception, ad injection

Carlie J. Coats, Jr.

Re: Legality?

My take on it is this: modifying web pages by insertling those ads is creating an unauthorized derivative work for commercial gain. In the US, that's criminal copyright infringement (US Code Title 17 Section 506; see https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/17/506).

If I catch them doing this to my web pages, I want someone at AT&T to do jail time.

Amazon's new EC2 compute instances run on SECRET INTEL CHIPS

Carlie J. Coats, Jr.

VM interference with AVX2?

Note to Crazy Operations Guy: the Intel compilers already support AVX2.

However. I have experience running the WRF meteorology model on the previous-edition SandyBridge cores, and found that the performance increment from using the SandyBridge AVX instruction set (as opposed to the Nehalem SSE4.2) was negligible. This is as opposed to "real" hardware, where AVX gives WRF a 30% boos over SSE4.2 on SandyBridge, and where it gives a 70% boost to well-coded computational fluid dynamics apps. Given the Amazon VM environment, I still have the question: does Haswell-EP help _in_this_VM_environment_ ??

'Windows 9' LEAK: Microsoft's playing catchup with Linux

Carlie J. Coats, Jr.

at least half a decade??

My desktop, 1993: SPARC-2, OLVWM, 6 desktops, virtual=physical=1280x1024 screen sizes

1996, RedHat-4.1, FVWM, 8 desktops: 1600x1200 physical, 2048x1600 virtual.

Today: Mageia/KDE4, 10 desktops: 2560x1440 physical, 3200x2048 virtual.

Win9 _still_ doesn't do virtual > physical...

Who loves office space? Dell does: Virtualization to banish workstations from under desks

Carlie J. Coats, Jr.

Re: Oddly content free

Actually, for "real" interactivity you're being very generous in allowing 40 ms.

And "workstation" is definitely higher-resolution than 1080P -- probably 2560x1600, and maybe _multiple_ such panels.


Who OWNS data generated by 'connected cars' sensor slurpers?

Carlie J. Coats, Jr.

Copyright Issues

Let's look at what the Berne Copyright treaty says: it's a copyright work as soon as it is "fixed in a medium", i.e., as soon as it's recorded. And unless it is a "work for hire" or the subject of an explicit, specific written copyright assignment (which fails, unless there is such an assingment naming each specific trip), then the copyright belongs to the performer -- i.e., the driver. In the US, at least, there is precedent for seizing all the computers of the infringer for investigation :-)

Note that the Berne Treaty has long been implemented by all of Europe, North America, and most of Asia...

Apple vs Amazon in ereader format smackdown

Carlie J. Coats, Jr.

taxes and paper-based books

With my paper based books, I go through my collection every year and donate most of them to charity for a tax write-off -- something I can't do with e-books. This benefits the public at large, not just the publisher. And the write-off is typically worth as much as Amazon's e-book price-discount. [I don't "do" Apple.]

So why go for DRM that locks things into "me-only"?

Freedom means allowing secondary markets. Preventing secondary markets, for the benefit of politically connected corporations, is within the technical definition of "fascism."

Choice breeds complexity for Linux desktop

Carlie J. Coats, Jr.

Re "hi there, i'm a software engineer"

And I'm a software systems architect. I don't want your narrowmindedness working on any of my projects.

How to counter premature optimisation

Carlie J. Coats, Jr.

But get data structures and algorithms right

Far too many codes are developed according to the developer's first idea:

he/she blindly goes ahead with the first idea that probably works.

They don't stop to think about what data structures are appropriate, nor what algorithms.

For modern (deeply pipelined) processors, there are two primary performance inhibitors: dependencies and memory access.

Particularly, deeply nested logic or deeply linked data structures have big costs, as do huge data structures.

I just finished re-writing an environmental-simulation code, which (for a primary operational case) went from a working-set

size of 3.4 GB to 640 MB, and a run-time of 130 CPU-minutes/simulation-day to 7 CPU-minutes/simulation-day. The primary optimization was the elimination of several huge scratch-arrays (with their associated memory traffic), and the replacement of "dumb" run-time searches with setup-time sparse matrix construction. *Not* rocket science.

In another example fifteen years ago, went from a more extreme 12 Cray-hours to 163 SPARC2-seconds, replacing dumb array

searches with sparse matrix arithmetic...

And in both these cases, the results are simpler, clearer, and more maintainable than the originals.

"Think (alternatives for data structures and algorithms) before you code" should be Principle Zero.

The ODF debate: A real world view

Carlie J. Coats, Jr.

Documents held hostage

*BELIEVE* that Microsoft *will* hold your documents hostage. Two weeks ago, while out of town for the week, my wife found it happening to her: she had planned to use "remote desktop" software to continue with urgent work that needed to be done. But M$ so-called Windows Genuine Advantage suddenly kicked in and locked her out of her own desk-top machine (yet another "false positive"). And she was 1000 miles away from the installation disks M$ demands to know about for re-activation (not mentioning the hours on the phone it takes to convince them of anything). She was *hosed*. Partly because of an "urgent uppgrade" to which she never consented.

Microsoft's OpenXML is so complex a format -- and so dependent upon the (Microsoft) proprietary sub-formats for "legacy" document BLOBs (binary large-objects) it contains that you can be quite certain *no*one* except Microsoft will be able to use it. So OpenXML is open in name only.

Her lost time for that one incident (she is an attorney; her hourly rate is a bit more than mine!) crosses the US$ 5000 threshold for the US Computer Fraud and Abuse Act: as far as I am concerned, Microsoft are a bunch of felons who have bought off the Bush administration via their agent Abrahamoff. And you should *never* trust your documents to them.