* Posts by Irony Deficient

1269 posts • joined 5 Aug 2008


AI eye-scanner can tell whether you'll croak it from a heart attack

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The dilation sucks, because it means I can’t drive for at least 30 minutes,

Au contraire — the dilation rules, because it means that I can nap for at least 30 minutes!

Japan tests probe to land on Martian moon Phobos, bring a chunk of it back to Earth

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Greek, surely, not Roman. Or am I getting mixed up again?

You’re correct — Phobos was Greek. Pavor was the Roman analogue of Phobos.

You thought you bought software – all you bought was a lie

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I don’t recall ever having access to the source code for Public Domain programs, …

… so in that respect they are not ‘Open’.

There is no requirement for programs in the public domain to have their source code distributed, although source code was often made available, e.g. with text-mode games like Hunt the Wumpus, Colossal Cave Adventure, and Empire back in the days of yore, and with more functional programs like SQLite now.

BlackCat malware lashes out at US defense IT contractor

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Like removing the “visited link” color difference,

Between El Reg’s scaffolding.css and design.css files, there are a couple of dozen places where :visited colors are specified (there are still several colors being used in different places). This is exactly the type of thing for which Stylus can be used, to specify your preferred color(s) [or text decorations such as underlining] in the relevant document parts, if you use a browser that supports Stylus.

I took a look at older versions of their CSS files thanks to archive.org, and they’ve been specifying 14px body text for some time now. I don’t know why it was rendered as 16px in my browser until this past weekend — perhaps a recent change to a CSS media query that happened to match my setup? At any rate, it’s back to 16px here, thanks to the add-on.

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Re: the list is exhaustive

Doesn’t that usually mean “complete”? […] So is this an error on the part of the author […]?

Usually, yes. It would most likely be an error if his intention was to describe the list as “all-encompassing”, in which case describing the list as “extensive” would have been more accurate. It might not have been an error, though, if he’d meant “exhaustive” in its less common “exhausting” meaning.

PS: It appears that El Reg’s CSS has been changed recently to reduce the size of text, from 19px to 16px in comment headers and from 16px to 14px in comment text. Having imperfect eyesight, I prefer the larger size, so I guess that it’s time to make use of the Stylus add-on to revert these changes in my browser.

UN's ITU election may spell the end of our open internet

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given how eager they are to stamp out the religious practices of Uighur Muslims

Rather, given how eager they are to stamp out the separatist tendencies of some Uighur Muslims, which unfortunately has undoubtedly badly affected many non-separatist Uighurs. Uighurs are not the only Islamic group in China. The largest Islamic group in China is the Hui, and their religious practices are not being stamped out; neither are those of other Islamic groups in China, such as the Kazakhs, Dongxiang, Kyrgyz, Uzbeks, Salar, Tajiks, Bonan, and Tatars.

what makes you think that being a Christian (of either main flavour) would mean you might fare any better.

The count of how many Chinese Christian groups are trying to secede from China.

It’s pretty obvious that the issue they have is with Abrahamic faiths in general, because they’re not “Chinese enough”.

The issue that they have is with separatist groups in general, because they don’t consider themselves to be “Chinese enough” in the PRC citizenship sense.

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certainly if you happen to be religious [in China] …

… in any way (other than state-sponsored Buddhist), you're already in real trouble.

China officially recognizes five religions: Buddhism, Taoism, Protestantism, Islam, and Catholicism (in descending order of population). The “personal belief in certain conceptions of divinity” of these five religions were estimated to include 27.44% of China’s population, according to 2014–2015 sampling in the China Family Panel Studies.

Arm founder says the UK has no chance of tech sovereignty

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Hermann Hauser of course is a bloody foreigner

Says someone who's posting as “Lars”.

I can hardly believe that it’s come down to me to offer this suggestion, but perhaps Lars’ comment contains a dollop of irony regarding the adjective that’s modifying “foreigner”?

Is it a bird? Is it Microsoft Office? No, it's Onlyoffice: Version 7.2 released

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Re: They keep using that word, but I do not think it means…

I was careful to use the word “letter”, not “character”.

Perhaps you’d intended to use “letter” instead of “character” in the sentence referring to “f‍l” that ended “ - it is not a character.”?

what these ligature characters are not is letters.

For the “Latin Ligatures”, agreed. For characters like “æ”, it’s language-dependent; it’s a presentation form of two letters in modern English (e.g. “encyclopædia”), but it is a single letter in Old English, modern Danish, Norwegian, Faeroese, Icelandic, &c.

Except in texts discussing typography and ligatures, you rarely would want to [ligate using ZWJ].

It could be dependent on the typeface being used. If a particular typeface doesn’t clearly distinguish “f” from a following “l” with the default kerning, a manual ligation could be appropriate.

(yeah, I know, Emoji, but they are very much an exception)

As are the characters in the “Dingbats” block.

As for monospaced fonts with overly-stylised punctuation ligatures, I do not use them, because I do not like them, but in recent years they appear to have become the go-to monospaced font used on websites, especially when showing code fragments in documentation, where I do not have such easy control of the typeface used.

If you use Chrome, Firefox, or Opera, the Stylus add-on will allow you to override the CSS of websites with distasteful typefaces.

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Re: They keep using that word, but I do not think it means…

…what they think it means. The feature they’re describing isn’t “ligatures”.

I mostly agree with your comments, except for the following:

Page 304 of version 15.0 of Unicode describes the characters from U+FB00 through U+FB06 (viz the set of ligated Latin characters from legacy encodings) as “Latin Ligatures”.

Anyone who actually types the “fl” codepoint (U+FB02) into a document is causing more harm that good - that code only exists for round-trip encoding compatibility with the original MacRoman 8-bit encoding from 1984 - it is not a character.

In Unicode, the “Latin Ligatures” are characters — only the codepoints that are associated with “surrogates” (16-bit code units that when paired are reserved for representing 17- to 21-bit codepoints) and “noncharacters” (e.g. U+FFFE and U+FFFF) are not characters. The Unicode-preferred method of creating a “f‍l” ligature is “f”, then the zero-width joiner (ZWJ, U+200D), then “l”, but that method requires both OS and typeface support for the ZWJ. (I’d used this method for the ligature in the previous sentence; it’s not rendered as a ligature on my crusty laptop.)

(As an aside, I have a pet hate of monospaced fonts that form ligatures, and I reserve a special place in hell for the ones that try to get all arts-and-crafts-movement with the punctuation combinations used by programming languages: after decades of training my eyes to find &&, <=, !=, +=, ++, ==, ?. and other digraphs in code, rearranging them into artsy shapes only hides them from view)

Monospaced fonts that include ligatures have historical precedent on typewriters, so they can be essential for documenting typewriter character sets, although that is a specialized niche. Is there a reason that you use typefaces with “arts-and-crafts-movement punctuation” with code, given your distaste for them?

NSA super-leaker Edward Snowden granted Russian citizenship

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Oh yes, the infamous “rights and freedoms” chapter of the Russian constitution.

Do you have a list of Russian citizens that have been extradited from Russia to any other country since 1993-12-25, when it replaced the RSFSR constitution?

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their well being may push him to accept the offer regardless of the optics or the cost.

Indeed, since Article 61 of the Russian constitution guarantees that Russian citizens will not be extradited from Russia to any other country.

California to phase out gas furnaces, water heaters by 2030

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Or, maybe no fireplaces at all?

Since 2010, Oregon has required that uncertified * woodstoves and fireplace inserts in a home be removed, destroyed, and disposed of when a home is sold.

* — i.e. not certified by either the state DEQ or the federal EPA

Rust is eating into our systems, and it's a good thing

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Re: Romani ite dōmum

Since you’d already written that enrutador didn’t sound right to you, I’d excluded ruta from consideration.

Perhaps basing a Spanish translation of “router” on a meaning of Latin ductor might be another alternative? For example, guiador ?

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Is it rowter, or rooter?

It’s dialect-dependent. Both pronunciations exist in North American dialects.

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Re: Romani ite dōmum

Surely you meant to say *ductor interretī* given the second declension genitive, right?

Presuming that the -ret… part came from the Latin word for “net”, rēte, which is third declension, its singular genitive would be interrētis.

It bugs me that there seemingly doesn’t exist any good Spanish translation for router (*enrutador* doesn’t sound right even if the parts look correct),

There are apparently a number of Spanish translations of “router”, e.g. direccionador, encaminador. “Router”, of course, comes from “route” and goes back to Latin (via) ruptaruptus, the perfect passive participle of rumpō. The modern Spanish descendant of ruptus is roto, but given the current definitions of roto, it might not be the best choice from which to coin a Spanish translation of “router”.

Girls Who Code books 'banned' in some US classrooms

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People will find politics in everything if they want to. Jack and Jill went up the hill?

Yup, though its political connection is during the reign of Charles I, making that article’s reference to “Imperial measure” incorrect, since Imperial measure was adopted during the reign of George IV.

This hero probe will smash into an asteroid to see if we can deflect future killer rocks

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It’s fixed -

Thank you for the fix.

don’t forget to email corrections@theregister.com if you spot something wrong please.

I hope that as part of your typo-fixing process, you’ll search past articles to see if the same typo needs to be fixed elsewhere (e.g. using site:www.theregister.com "john hopkins" in your preferred search engine).

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scientists at the John Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

It’s the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory; the university was named after its first benefactor, Johns Hopkins.

Good news for UK tech contractors as govt repeals IR35 tax rules

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Over in the US, there are two main types of contractors:

those who fall under 1099 (Form 1099-Misc), […]

For reporting payments to non-employees, Form 1099-MISC was replaced by Form 1099-NEC starting in the 2020 tax year. (HIstorically, Form 1099-NEC was itself replaced by the then-new Form 1099-MISC in the early 1980s.)

Never mind the Panic button – there's a key to Compose yourself

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Re: On a Mac, the standard keys don’t repeat the way they do on PCs.

Note that the second line of the sample DefaultKeyBinding.dict file contains an assignment that represents a character in the Unicode Private Use Area pressed with modifier keys; the corresponding function for the PUA character can be found (on my Mac) in /System/Library/Frameworks/AppKit.framework/Versions/C/Headers/NSEvent.h, which is NSF13FunctionKey, a F13 key. (The ^$ part of the second line represents Control and Shift modifiers respectively.) At some point, I’d changed that line in my modified DefaultKeyBinding.dict file to be

"\UF716" = {

which represents the PUA character U+F716 without any modifier keys, which corresponds to NSF19FunctionKey, an unmodified (virtual) F19 key, on my installed version of macOS. Accordingly, in Seil, I’d also set the keycode that the Caps Lock key sends to keycode 80, which corresponds to F19.

If Karabiner-Elements still uses the same keycodes that Seil did, and the enumerated NS…FunctionKey values in the NSEvent.h file on your version of macOS are the same as mine, then perhaps this “F19” method might work better than the KeyCode::PC_APPLICATION method that was noted above.

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Re: On a Mac, the standard keys don’t repeat the way they do on PCs.

To assign another function to the Caps Lock key, Seil explicitly notes that System Preferences → Keyboard → Modifier Keys… → Caps Lock (⇪) Key should be set to “No Action” to reduce the delay of the Caps Lock key. I don’t know if Karabiner-Elements makes the same recommendation.

Tesla Megapack battery ignites at substation after less than 6 months

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every time a lithium battery goes to heaven, […]

… habemus damnum!

Document Foundation starts charging €8.99 for 'free' LibreOffice

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Are you saying Macs don’t have auto-repeat on key-press?

By default, they haven’t since Mac OS X 10.7, but they can made to do so by a single command (see the link in my comment above). That comes at the cost of access to the diacritic menu, though.

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Can you tell me now without looking it up …

… the key combinations necessary to type ā è ï ö ú? I can on a Mac.

Yup. On my Mac, without the diacritic menu (I prefer press-and-hold to repeat the held character), using the U.S. Extended input source (which was renamed to ABC Extended some releases ago) — ā is ⌥A a, è is ⌥` e, ï and ö are ⌥U i and ⌥U o respectively, and ú is ⌥E u. The ⌥ keystrokes for the grave, trema, and acute diacritics (but not the macron) are probably already available in your default input source. (I use my cobbled-together Compose function on the Caps Lock key to type characters like “⌥”.)

Can reflections in eyeglasses actually leak info from Zoom calls? Here's a study into it

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Don’t wear them unless you want people to cross the street when you walk towards them.

You wrote that as if wanting that were a bad thing. ;*)

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Re: Worse than the use of “shined” in the subheading?

If you find the example of shoes to be outdated, feel free to substitute a more suitable noun of your choice. Do you use “shone” rather than “shined” for the verb’s causative meaning?

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Do you have ties for other parts of the body?

There have been — e.g. the OED states that a knot of hair in a pigtail, and a “kind of low shoe fastened with a tie or lace”, were called “ties”. If you include non-human bodies, “the locking together of dog and bitch during copulation” is also called a “tie”.

“Tie” used to be a categorical term, including neckties, bowties, and cravats. The “knot of hair” meaning is the oldest of the meanings listed here.

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Worse than the use of “shined” in the subheading?

At this writing, it’s been changed to “shone”.

As usual, the OED shines some light on the matter:

The regular str. pa. pple. is rare in Eng., being unrecorded in OE. and appearing only once in ME. sinen ; it was superseded by the weak form shined, which was in common use c 1300–1800; this was supplanted by the form of the str. pa. t., which first appears as pa. pple. in the second half of the 16th c. (Weak forms are found in some of the continental langs., e.g. (pa. t.) late WFris. schynd, MLG. schynede, OHG. scînta, early mod. G. schein(e)te.)

If Thomas Claburn is a native speaker of a dialect of North American English, then his dialect might still prefer “shined” to “shone” for some meanings of “shine”, perhaps due to influence from German.

“Shined” is always used here for the causative meaning, e.g. “He shined his shoes until he could see himself in them”; do you use “shone” for this meaning too?

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Some of us simply buy […] photochromic lenses […]

Yup — that’s what I did.

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What do you call a necktie?

I’d imagine that “tie” is a popular term throughout the anglosphere.

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Re: “Eyeglasses”? What is this, the 18th century?

Never thought of it till now, but it is an odd word to use.

The OED distinguishes “eyeglasses” from “spectacles”. If it has parts that make use of ears, then they’re technically “spectacles”; otherwise, they’re “eyeglasses” (e.g. a lorgnette or a pince-nez).

Over here in the UK, it’s normally “glasses” or sometimes “specs”. Also, “sunglasses” or “sunspecs”.

The first three are used here as well, but I haven’t heard “sunspecs” here — “shades” are used instead.

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“Eyeglasses”? What is this, the 18th century?

“Eyeglasses” is still a common term in Leftpondia. (“Spectacles” is still occasionally used too, but it is far older, going back to the late 14th century.) Like the season “fall” and the past participle “gotten”, older vocabulary sometimes remains in current use in various dialects.

Keeping printers quiet broke disk drives, thanks to very fuzzy logic

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He might have said something interesting about lawyers.

He wrote many interesting things, but none of them involved “wherefore” being mistaken for “where”.

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"O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?"

See below; “wherefore” still does not mean “where”.

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"Never mind the why and wherefore"

This “wherefore”, like this “why”, is a noun that means “reason, cause” rather than an interrogative adverb.

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"O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou, Romeo?"

Your extraneous comma after “thou” is leading you to mistakenly conclude that Romeo is vocative and that “wherefore” = “where”. It isn’t, and the OED does not list “where” among the interrogative uses of “wherefore”. Read further along in that act:


O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?

Deny thy father and refuse thy name;

Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love,

And I’ll no longer be a Capulet.



Shall I hear more, or shall I speak at this?


’Tis but thy name that is my enemy;

Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.

What’s Montague? It is nor hand nor foot,

Nor arm nor face, nor any other part

Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose

By any other word would smell as sweet;

So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d,

Retain that dear perfection which he owes

Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,

And for thy name, which is no part of thee,

Take all myself.

Shakespeare used the standard interrogative “wherefore” = “why” so that Juliet could expand upon the consequences of Romeo having that name — “wherefore art thou Romeo?” = “why are you Romeo?” = “why must you be Romeo Montague?” — and thus offers herself in exchange for his name so that they may be together.

There are two other instances of “wherefore” in Romeo and Juliet ; do you also believe that they mean “where”?

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Re: Perhaps, but Shakespeare had other ideas …

Given that he was the master of inventing new words and phrases, I think it’s safest to say that he was a genuine living example of “this means what I want it to mean when I want it to mean it”.

Not in the case of interrogative “wherefore” = “why”, he wasn’t — the earliest citation in the OED dates back to c. 1200. However, he is the earliest citation of the noun “wherefore” = “cause, reason”, in his Comedy of Errors:

Ant. Shall I tell you why?

S. Dro. I, sir, and wherefore; for they say, euery why hath a wherefore.

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There are more than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

All the more reason to elucidate them — so that my horizons may be expanded.

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Perhaps, but Shakespeare had other ideas …

Please elucidate his other ideas.

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O Paris, Paris, wherefore art thou Paris?

“Wherefore” ≠ “where”; “wherefore” = “why”.

US border cops harvest info from citizens' phones, build massive database

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Ah but at the border are you technically within the US?

On the US side of the border, yes. (Further discussion on the topic can be found in other comments on that linked page.)

Rest in peace, Queen Elizabeth II – Britain's first high-tech monarch

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Great Britain to distinguish the island from Brittany

The island of Great Britain has that name to distinguish it from the island of Little Britain (now known as Ireland). This distinction goes back at least to Claudius Ptolemy’s Almagest, in which they were called μεγάλη Βρεττανία and μικρά Βρεττανία respectively. The Almagest was written around 150 AD, a few centuries before the emigration of Britons to western Armorica (now known as Brittany) due to the Anglo-Saxon invasion of Great Britain.

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Her son will replace her, as King Charles III.

Will Charles be taking the regnal name Charles? (Consider the case of his grandfather; George was the regnal name of George VI, but his given name was Albert.)

Her son will succeed her, whatever his regnal name will be, but he won’t replace her.

BOFH: It's Friday, it's time to RTFM

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On the etymological side, Bube is German for “knave, jack” (the French-suited playing card) and “boy” (in southern Germany, Austria, and Switzerland), and the earliest citation for this US-origin “bub” in the OED is from 1839 — it is likely a shortening of “bubby”, from the same time period, meaning “boy”, which suggests descent from Bube.

There are a few obsolete “bub” nouns as well — the earliest came from 16th century Scotland, meaning “storm, blast”.

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an unsuspecting ‘carbon based lifeform’

Surely an unsuspecting CaBaL?

Open source databases: What are they and why do they matter?

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But if they create programs linked […] to MySQL, do they not need to be GPL too?

Not necessarily — see here for a non-legalese explanation (e.g. the “Internal usage is free” paragraph).

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MariaDB was forked from the GPL version of MySQL.

How is it possible to relicense it under a different license?

The answer hinges on use of the proper pronoun: MariaDB is a “them” rather than an “it”. The MariaDB server was forked from MySQL, and remains under the GPL. The MariaDB client libraries similarly remain under the LGPL. Neither the server nor the client libraries have been relicensed. To date, only the MaxScale and ColumnStore Cluster Management API products are licensed by MariaDB Corporation Ab under the BSL.

How this Mars rover used its MOXIE to convert CO2 into precious oxygen

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But aren’t the blue eyes a characteristic of Dune?

If I recollect the books correctly, blue scleras were an acquired characteristic of spice users, few of whom actually lived on Dune, and was unrelated to the amount of surface water on Dune.

Ol’ Blue Eyes had blue irises rather than blue scleras.

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Frank never knew.

I’m not sure about that:

… let me see what spring is like

On Jupiter and Mars.



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