* Posts by Julian Bradfield

209 publicly visible posts • joined 19 Jul 2008


Time Lords decree an end to leap seconds before risky attempt to reverse time

Julian Bradfield

Re: TAI = UTC + 37 seconds, am I missing something?

I'm fascinated by what you mean by "do some actual research". Could you explain?

Yes, of course the world has been much warmer in the past. There's a difference between temperature shifts taking millions of years (or even thousands of years), and those taking a few decades.

University staff voice 'urgent, profound concern' as Oracle finance system delays payments

Julian Bradfield

Re: Tricky things, computers. I didn't get where I am today by seamlessly migrating systems

You used to be right, but over time we've slowly abandoned more and more of the in-house stuff and moved to using central university systems. It makes sense, really, provided the central systems have most of the functionality of in-house and the increased workload is not too high.

As for advising the centre on how to procure and install a large complex system...they don't want to know.

Twitter employees sue over lack of 60-day layoff notice

Julian Bradfield

Re: The situation in Ireland is perhaps more interesting

Don't know Ireland, but guess it's similar to the UK, where the situation is concisely described here:


in what way is this "any reason at all"?

University of Edinburgh staff paid late due to Oracle ERP troubles

Julian Bradfield

Re: 8-{ Wot, no migration planning?

If we had petty cash, things would be much easier. But in my 35 years at Edinburgh, there has been no such thing as petty cash.

Julian Bradfield

Re: 8-{ Wot, no migration planning?

Payroll *was* run in parallel for three months, and there haven't (as far as I know) been problems with staff pay.

However, our PhD students are not staff - they are, god help us, "suppliers" of their research, and their stipends are paid under the procurement part of the system, which is the one that has gone catastrophically wrong (as opposed to the HR part, which merely went infuriatingly and wastefully wrong).

Julian Bradfield

Re: 8-{ Wot, no migration planning?

As far as I understand it, yes. The old system (which also had our 2021/2 P60s on it!) was switched off in July, and we started (supposedly) being able to use the new system some time in September (I forget when, it's all a blur, and thankfully I don't buy things). In the interim there was a manual process for urgent purchases.

Not only have lab suppliers and stationers stopped supplying us, we can't even order pizza for student welcome parties, because no pizza company in Edinburgh will deal with us.

The boss worked in a fishbowl, so office tricks were a treat

Julian Bradfield

Re: Pranks and things

Recalls this famous one:


How I made a Chrome extension for converting Reg articles to UK spelling

Julian Bradfield

Re: Concerns

The "internet" doesn't see or think anything. A small number of *people* think about it, the vast majority of *people* read the content, whether it's in British, American, Indian, Canadian or international (which used to be mainly British in spelling outside South America, and is now a random hodge-podge depending on the country and even individual school of the E2L speaker).

CEO told to die in a car crash after firing engineers who had two full-time jobs

Julian Bradfield

what are contracts for?

My full-time academic contract says I can't work for anybody else without permission, and can't work for anybody more than one day a week unless I reduce my hours. Does industry not do that?

Removing an obsolete AMD fix makes Linux kernel 6 quicker

Julian Bradfield

Re: The older the OS...

Forms of "old" with final -e are given in the OED from about 1200 to 1530.

In a time before calculators, going the extra mile at work sometimes didn't add up

Julian Bradfield

Re: Bank Accounts

I remember a friend's (parents') number from the 1980s, whom I only called once, I think. I remember it because it was the old days when we used to say the number on picking up, and for some reason "Aberystwyth tri pedwar chwech pedwar" stuck firmly in my brain ... (I speak no Welsh, but know a little about it.)

Microsoft finds critical hole in operating system that for once isn't Windows

Julian Bradfield

strncpy is also not safe, because it doesn't force a terminating null, which can cause all sorts of trouble later. I use to define strmcpy to do that, but now my system at least has strlcpy provided to do it.

Enough with the notifications! Focus Assist will shut them u… 'But I'm too important!'

Julian Bradfield

90% accuracy by the month? You don't live in Scotland, I take it. (Looking out the window doesn't work either - it can look the same at 10C or 20C.)

SCOTUS judges 'doxxed' after overturning Roe v Wade

Julian Bradfield

Re: Depends

Not werman. Wæpman (a person with a weapon, fnarr fnarr). At that time, woman was wifman.

GitHub drops Atom bomb: Open-source text editor mothballed by end of year

Julian Bradfield

Zed was a line editor on the University of Cambridge IBM mainframe, in the 80s. It even acquired an approximation to a screen editor by means of a front end running on a BBC micro.

It was a pretty good editor for the time...

Engineer sues Amazon for not covering work-from-home internet, electricity bills

Julian Bradfield

Free/subsidized meals and light refreshments are not taxable if they're available to all staff, so I'm not sure why those above had a problem...

Spam is back with a vengeance. Luckily we can't read any of it

Julian Bradfield

Re: they never considered checking that a clearly valid email address was already in use

Depends what you mean by validate. From what I see in my logs, this usually means (a) seeing if a RCPT command passes (luckily they seem to be ok with 4xx replies, since I greylist), and (b) checking that a RCPT with random local-part is rejected. That is some form of validation.

Google keeps legacy G Suite alive and free for personal use

Julian Bradfield

I haven't had a problem with gmail, but outlook has a hard-to-find and tedious process to get addresses de-blacklisted, which I've gone through three times recently, as I shifted both my main and backup servers to different providers. (Not OVH, as it happens.)

Google Docs' AI-powered inclusive writing auto-correct now under fire

Julian Bradfield

Re: Orwellian nightmare

"Yes". Agreed, nobody believes strong Sapir-Whorf: language does not *limit* your thinking. But weak Sapir-Whorf (language influences your thinking) has been demonstrated in many forms. Changes in language can affect prejudices, though they can't eliminate them.

IBM ordered to pay $105 million to insurer over tech project's collapse

Julian Bradfield


El Reg is a British operation, reporting a British court case that gave a judgement in pounds. Why is the headline in dollars?

Elon Musk's latest launch: An unsolicited Twitter takeover

Julian Bradfield

Re: Money can't buy maturity

Cavēre, like most transitive verbs, takes the accusative (hence cave canem), so "beware of the buyer" is cave emptorem.

Sometimes it was also used with ab + ablative (cave ab emptore). But never with dative.

The first step to data privacy is admitting you have a problem, Google

Julian Bradfield

Re: Science

Not all academic research is Popperian science. This was computer science, and it's well known that any subject whose name is two words one of which is "science", isn't.

More seriously, there are many scientific statements that can be proved (beyond reasonable doubt, because after all we might be in a simulation). The existence of white swans, for example. What's difficult is proving universal statements. This article is about an existential statement.

New Linux kernel bolsters random number generation

Julian Bradfield

Re: A puzzle about random numbers.........

You don't wait. You decide *before* performing the experiment that you'll do twenty tosses, and the probability of error you're happy with. You get 20 heads - the probability of a distribution that unbalanced is 1 in half a million; if that's less than your suspicion threshold, you declare the coin biased.

Toshiba reveals 30TB disk drive to arrive by 2024

Julian Bradfield

Same way as always - to another of the same, or to tape.

Autonomy founder's anti-extradition case is like saying Moon made of cheese, US govt tells UK court

Julian Bradfield

As a point of fact, the US does extradite its own citizens. Sacolas is the first declined request since the treaty started in 2003.

Newly discovered millipede earns its name by being the first to walk on one thousand legs

Julian Bradfield

Re: Clearly it should be millepedes or millepeda

I think you should understand "pace" as "double pace" - left foot to left foot.

When product names go bad: Microsoft's Raymond Chen on the cringe behind WinCE

Julian Bradfield

Re: Vixen

The professionals class this as a "maybe". One suggestion is that the IE root of "fuck" is 'to strike' (as in Latin pugnus 'fist'). German ficken 'to rub' may or may not be related. My emeritus colleague Roger Lass wrote on this: R. Lass ‘Four letters in search of an etymology’ in Diachronica 12 (1995) 99–111. Unfortunately we don't subscribe to old issues online, so I can't read it.

Ooh, an update. Let's install it. What could possibly go wro-

Julian Bradfield

Re: Not a commercial system but...

Try pipewire. Still has a few rough edges, but I'm happily pulseaudio-free on both laptops for the last three months. And it provides pulseaudio compatibility.

Microsoft signs settlement with US Justice Dept over 'immigration-related discrimination' claims

Julian Bradfield

Re: Proof of employability

In the UK, most employers, especially those who do employ people on visas, will ask to see your passport (or other proof of citizenship/residence). Do they have to? No. But it's the only sure defence they can plead if they do employ somebody who turns out not to have the right to work: "I checked the documents, here's the copy of them with my signature and date".

What a cluster fsck: New scheduling code plus Intel's Alder Lake CPU mix equals a slower Linux kernel 5.16

Julian Bradfield

And of course System Z and its ancestors have had hot-swappable cpus for several decades.

Informatica UKI veep was rightfully sacked over Highways England $5k golf jolly, says tribunal

Julian Bradfield

The salesman was fired as well.

What do you mean you gave the boss THAT version of the report? Oh, ****ing ****balls

Julian Bradfield

Re: An error from code that tempted people to try its boundaries

the message error is "Interwoven alignment preambles are not allowed." and D. Knuth comment is "If you have been so devious as to get this message, you will understand it, and you will deserve no sympathy." (TeXbook, page 299) - from Google.

I have never managed to provoke it, but then I've never tried to interweave alignments.

Apparently \halign{\valign#\cr\cr suffices.

How Windows NTFS finally made it into Linux

Julian Bradfield

Re: Bad feeling

After one too many near disaster, I now have a bootable Linux on the usb stick on my keyring.

Computer scientists at University of Edinburgh contemplate courses without 'Alice' and 'Bob'

Julian Bradfield

Anybody read what they're commenting on?

Not the author of the article, it seems. This report is not a list of recommendations - it's a report of what individual lecturers said they were doing or thinking of doing, or even just thinking about thinking about.

Also, why did El Reg go the heavy handed route of filing a FoI request when they could just have emailed Dr Nagarajan and asked for it? Just for the sheer pleasure of making work for people?

GitHub picks Friday 13th to kill off password-based Git authentication

Julian Bradfield

Re: Can someone explain how

Sure. A token is a password that is so long and complex that you can't remember it, so you have to keep it somewhere where you can cut'n'paste it.

Microsoft releases command-line package manager for Windows (there are snags)

Julian Bradfield

Re: Restarts

@Richard 12: I've never heard of this, and it's not in the manpage for open(2), nor can I easily find any reference to it. Can you give a reference?

Watchdog 'enables Tesla Autopilot' with string, some weight, a seat belt ... and no actual human at the wheel

Julian Bradfield

Re: Comments are missing the point

SMBC is on this case:


Prince Philip, inadvertent father of the Computer Misuse Act, dies aged 99

Julian Bradfield

Re: forthright with outspoken opinions

Jake - as stated in the first paragraph of the provided link, MPs can make solemn affirmation if they don't want to make a Christian oath. They can also take an oath according to their own religious beliefs.

How do we combat mass global misinformation? How about making the internet a little harder to use

Julian Bradfield

When I type that query into google, I get a lot of governmental and medical pages.

ThinkPad T14s AMD Gen 1: Workhorse that does the business – and dares you to push that red button

Julian Bradfield


The three (or five) physical buttons are one of the main reasons I buy thinkpad. I grew up with SunOS/Solaris and X, and you'll prise my physical middle mouse button out of my cold dead fingers...

A 1970s magic trick: Take a card, any card, out of the deck and watch the IBM System/370 plunge into a death spiral

Julian Bradfield

Re: Broken NFS

I recall a similar situation in the late 80s - a Pyramid Unix system (unimaginatively named Cheops) would allow a remote file access from the Vax to create a filename with / in it, if I remember correctly.

NASA to stop using names like 'Eskimo Nebula' and 're-examine' what it calls cosmic objects

Julian Bradfield

Re: Ban all Homonyms!

The new testament was not written in Hebrew. The confusion, if it is a confusion, may have arisen in Aramaic or Greek; Google will tell you far more than you wanted to know about what people think of this.

Linus Torvalds banishes masters, slaves and blacklists from the Linux kernel, starting now

Julian Bradfield

Re: Proudly ignorant

Your understanding is wrong. "Blacklist" long predates London clubs.

IBM job ad calls for 12 years’ experience with Kubernetes – which is six years old

Julian Bradfield

Age discrimination

According to my recently completed Equality training, job ads requiring N years' experience in something are generally illegal, because they amount to discriminating against younger candidates without any objective reason - candidate A might have spent 10 years mucking around 5% of the time with application X, while candidate B might have spent one year working full time with it. A job spec should list the competencies required.

Linux kernel coders propose inclusive terminology coding guidelines, note: 'Arguments about why people should not be offended do not scale'

Julian Bradfield

Re: Thin end of the wedge?

Are you seriously suggesting that two niche 20th century positive uses of "black" are sufficient to outweigh six centuries and several pages in the dictionary of negative uses?

Julian Bradfield

Re: Thin end of the wedge?

That's not what blacklists are. The term goes back centuries, and is a list of bad (hence black, because black is bad in English culture) people, such as debtors, traitors, drunkards, or whatever. Networking blacklists ban bad hosts or bad packets.

Things can't go on like this. You need to get fit for the sake of your health. I'm going to write you a prescription for... an e-bike

Julian Bradfield

why just social?

When I was recovering from a very severe respiratory (etc) illness many years ago, my consultant said he wished he could prescribe a skiing holiday. Well, why not:-?

Firefox 78: Protections dashboard, new developer features... and the end of the line for older macOS versions

Julian Bradfield


Just when I'd finally got used to the last change to the urlbar, a couple of months ago, they bugger around with it again. Why can't software projects leave an interface alone? Preferably for at least a decade...

Germany is helping the UK develop its COVID-19 contact-tracing app, says ambassador

Julian Bradfield

Re: The strapline...

The Panzerlied is something completely different. The Deutschlandlied was the national anthem of the FRG too, though only the third verse was sung. Since unification, only the third verse has been the national anthem.

Julian Bradfield

Re: The strapline...

Also, "uber" is a fake taxi service, not a German word.