* Posts by disgruntled yank

1777 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

Stob treks back across the decades to review the greatest TV sci-fi in the light of recent experience

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That's all.

Realizing this is getting out of hand, Coq mulls new name for programming language

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In African-American slang in the southeastern US, "cock" refers or referred to a portion of the female anatomy. Whether this usage is still current, how far it made it beyond ethnic and regional bounds, I can't say.

Prez Biden narrowly escapes cicada assassination attempt, hunkers down in Cornwall

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What the Secret Service needs

Is cicada-killer wasps: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dKBYUoNP_dA

And actually birds eat quite a few--they just may be sated at this point.

Snakes on a Plane meets The Simpsons as airline creates ‘whacker’ to scare reptiles away from parked A380s

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Love the southwest

Many years ago, my father flew out to southern Arizona for an interview with a mining company. There had recently been a case in the national news of a boy bitten by a brown recluse spider: I think the Air Force may have flown the antivenom from wherever it was to the kid's city. Anyway, poisonous spiders were on my father's mind, and he asked whether this town had problems with brown recluses or black widows. Nah, said the company guy, the scorpions eat them all.

Be careful, 007. It’s just had a new coat of paint: Today is D-day for would-be Qs to apply to MI6

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In the early 1950s, my father said, CIA employees were easily spotted among one's acquaintances in Washington, DC. Asked what they did, they would get a slightly embarrassed look and say that they worked "for the government."

Oops, says Manchester City Council after thousands of number plates exposed in parking ticket spreadsheet

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There has been an abandoned car parked on my street, no tags, no inspection stickers, nothing but a sticker from what I take to be a New York parking garage. I was interested to find that for $1 one can get the history of a car, given only its vehicle identification number (VIN). I didn't invest, but I did ascertain that the car was not stolen.

Perl changes dev's permaban for 'unacceptable' behaviour to a year-long lockout after community response

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Re: Very.Big.Sigh

I assume that "Excel" == "CSV". (Not that I haven't fiddled with Excel through Python--but not on BSD.) Most of this sounds quite doable in Perl, though I haven't written much Perl since JSON became a thing. Certainly Perl easily handles web-scraping, XML parsing, and database stuff.

Michael Collins, once the world's 'loneliest man,' is dead. If that name means little or nothing to you, read this

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Collins graduated from the United States Military Academy--its official title. Heaven knows there are other military academies in the US, but "top US military academy" just doesn't look right.

University duo thought it would be cool to sneak bad code into Linux as an experiment. Of course, it absolutely backfired

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Re: Place your bets...

Money, hell. How about a brush, a bucket, and task to maintain the bathrooms of the kernel maintainers.

Adobe co-founder and PostScript co-creator Charles Geschke dies, aged 81

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Re: Colophon

There is a book somewhere on my shelves from Colophon Press. Should we blame it on Geschke's training in the classics? (http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0057%3Aalphabetic+letter%3D*k%3Aentry+group%3D143%3Aentry%3Dkolofw%2Fn)

Google proposes Logica data language for building more manageable SQL code

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Missed this the first time

"This inherent resistance to decomposition of logic into bite-sized pieces is what leads into the contrived, lengthy queries, the copy-pasted chunks of code and, eventually, unmaintainable, unstructured (note the irony) SQL codebases"

I should have said what leads into contrived, lengthy queries is the real-world complexity that one has to model. If you can stick to C.J. Date's parts-suppliers or parts-suppliers-warehouses tables in Introduction to Database Systems, the queries will be only so long.

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Maybe someday someone will invent views to encapsulate complicated query logic. Or am I dreaming?

Quality control, Soviet style: Here's another fine message you've gotten me into

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Re: Skodas and Ladas

Many years ago, in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio, we had an old beater--it might have been the ten-year old Chevy sedan, with a piece of steel plate on the floor to keep passengers' feet off the road. One of our neighbors was an engineer for GM, and of course drove a spiffy new car. Then there came an unusually cold day, and the spiffy new car would not start, but the old beater did. My father gave the engineer a ride to work. The engineer explained that an engine with higher compress is harder to start in cold weather. My father listened politely, and may even have held off smirking until he dropped the guy off.

For blinkenlights sake.... RTFM! Yes. Read The Front of the Machine

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Re: late nineties

@evandos nibor:

In the late nineties, I was on the other side of the US from the office, when the phone rang at quite an early hour PST. The expensive technical consultant (ETC) needed to push some data from the HR/Payroll side of Peoplesoft to the AP side, and it was not working. It has escaped the ETC's notice that one field of PS_PERSONAL_DATA was four characters on the HR side and two characters on the AP side. I plugged in the PC, dialed in to work, and got the data pushed. (Substr is your friend.) I doubt I got back to sleep.

When I returned to the office, one of the managers state proudly that the call was his doing. They knew at which hotel I was staying, but the desk knew of nobody by my name. The manager then looked up my wife's name in the files and called back.

IBM creates a COBOL compiler – for Linux on x86

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Re: Readable? Concise?

Readable, perhaps. Concise I can't see.

Canonical releases Ubuntu on Windows Preview with early builds, new tools for the brave

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Re: Can anyone help me see the point

I infer the author did this to test the Ubuntu window management.

Mullet over: Aussie boys' school tells kids 'business in the front, party in the back' hairstyle is 'not acceptable'

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Re: posh, etc.

Presumably it was the Columbus School for Girls, then: thanks for the correction. It has been quite a few years since college.

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posh, etc.

A college friend had attended the Ohio School for Girls, in Columbus, Ohio. I would never known, never heard of the school, but it was across the street from Larry Flint's house (q.v.). The public prints always included "posh" in mentioning the school, and they always mentioned the school if they mentioned his house. This made my friend, who attended OSG on scholarship, roll her eyes.

My own high school (all boys) went in for strict regulation of hair: off the collar in back, not long enough to pull past the bridge of the nose in front. Many years, I happened to see the senior class pictures from the same years at my son's high school (also all boys): the operative principal seemed to be "whatever". My son's was a far better school.

And the Turing Award for best compilation goes to... Jeffrey Ullman and Alfred Aho

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Re: '67 ?

I am not a historian of compiler theory, but I should say that they summarized and synthesized a lot of what was out there. The bibliography in my copy of the Dragon Book runs to 28 pages. From the bibliography and notes, I see that Hopper and COBOL do not get a mention, though Backus and Fortran do. I suppose this may have been a matter of perceived influence on compiler development, but I leave it for the qualified to say.

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Books by their covers

With John Hopcroft, Ullman wrote another book of sufficient standing to be known by its cover, namely Introduction to Automata Theory, Languages, and Computation, the "Cinderella Book".

Global tat supply line clogged as Suez Canal authorities come to aid of wedged 18-brontosaurus container ship

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Re: Another one to propose

I find that I was way off--the meridian I had in mind was about 99 West.

You weren't put off Australia by the killer koalas?

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Re: Another one to propose

Actually, Washington's longitude is one of the very few I know, and it's about 77 W. But Eratosthenes would be proud of you for thinking this one up.

(One of very few: that and Greenwich, and I can kind of SWAG western Kansas at about 115 W.)

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Another one to propose

A caption in this morning's Washington Post says that "The vessel, at more than 1,300 feet long, is one of the largest in the world and more than twice the height of the Washington Monument." This seems to mean "twice as long as the Washington Monument is high". So perhaps we could use either Washington Monument as a measure either of angle or strictly of rotation: "the sum of the angles in a triangle is two Washington Monuments." or "My car idles at about 6000 Washington Posts per minute."

While Reg readers know the difference between a true hacker and cyber-crook, for everyone else, hacking means illegal activity

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Ah, well

The usage that sets me to grinding my teeth is the back-formation "mentee". Were I a hacker/cracker/malicious person, I would loose on the world a bit of code to turn every occurrence of "mentee" to "manatee".

Hacking is not a crime – and the media should stop using 'hacker' as a pejorative

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I sympathize

But usage eventually wears everyone down and wins. Obligatory XKCD: https://xkcd.com/1483/ .

IT contractor caught charging Uncle Sam expert rates for newbies, agrees to pay back $6m in settlement

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Guilty as charged, your honor!

When I worked for a government contractor (US civil agency), on a couple of occasions we had to write up the people we proposed to put on the contract. I followed the job descriptions, and wrote up people who were pretty good at clearing paper jams as if they were the greatest thing since Donald Knuth. (Well, OK, implied that they possessed technical skills they had never manifested.) In at least one case, the contracting office knew exactly who we were offering and made no objection.

My bad! So you're saying that redacting an on-screen PDF with Tipp-Ex won't work?

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Re: The Weekly Cultural Moment

I would not be in the least surprised to learn that the word turns up in an American spelling bee. Oh, for the days of The Hoosier Schoolmaster, when "theodolite" was as esoteric as it got.

UK Test and Trace chief Dido Harding tries to convince MPs that £14m for canned mobile app was money well spent

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Plenty of money, but

14 million wasted is a lot, but on scale of a 15 billion project it looks smaller.

As for the consultants, I think that the firm that set up our Peoplesoft system ca. 1998 billed at least $125/hour for the project manager. Now, I doubt he billed many 8-hour days, but any such day would have been $1000 or more then. The question ought to be whether one gets value for the money. I did have my doubts about one or two of the expensive consultants from that firm.

Perl-clutching hijackers appear to have seized control of 33-year-old programming language's .com domain

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Re: I loved Perl so much...

Back in the day (30+ years ago), I heard someone's quip that any programming language would let you hang yourself, given enough rope, but C would go down to the hardware store and buy the rope for you. Perl is sort of that way. I have seen really good, very well documented Perl. I have seen (and committed) the other kind.

Over the last years, I have written more in Python, largely because that is what the young coders know. But I still like Perl, even if these days it takes me a few minutes to remember to use semicolons, etc.

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Re: I remember when "whitehouse.com" was nicely changed to a pr0n site

If memory serves, whitehouse.gov was the official domain, and some smarties bought up the .com. A friend who then worked in an elementary school library was showing her charges how to use the internet (this would have been 1999 or so) when she discovered the TLD confusion.

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The punishment is obvious, once they catch the perp

Make him maintain old Perl code.

What happens when the internet realizes the stock market is basically a casino? They go shopping at the Mall

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Re: Reading the Runes in Between the Lines ... Karma Sucks Big Time

Given that Godiva is closing all of its US stores, I'm not sure how well we are fixed for Belgian chocolates. Popcorn we may have.

What's a COVID-19 outbreak? Amazon gets all Trumpy over Alabama warehouse workers' mail-in vote to form a union

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Re: so each ends up being just as corrupt as the other.


The Office of Labor-Management Standards of the the US Department of Labor has reports on the payments made to every employee or officer of every union in the United States. These are searchable on-line and freely downloadable as zipped, pipe-delimited files going back quite a few years. I have just done a quick search on a couple of union officers: Robert Martinez, president of the IAMAW (Machinists), made $371 thousand in 2019; Richard Trumka, head of the AFL-CIO (for Brits, this is an umbrella group of most of the larger unions in the US), made $292 thousand. (For those who wish to fool with this sort of thing, https://olmsapps.dol.gov/olpdr/?_ga=2.237567109.481222231.1611665233-1694302402.1610122379#Union%20Reports/Yearly%20Data%20Download/ has the pipe-delimited files.)

Now, I wouldn't mind either salary, and to be fair one must add that their benefits are very good. But in comparison to CEO or senior executive salary, they are pretty small potatoes.

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Re: NFL Union since 1956

Rich, whining idiots? The ones who pick up their franchises and move them across the country when a city won't build them a new stadium?

The average length of an NFL career is quite short, exceptions such as Tom Brady's notwithstanding. The injuries inflicted in the course of that career stick with a man for good. Over the last few years, I have been reading the obituaries of men who played on the undefeated Miami Dolphins team of 1972. Generally I found "had struggled with dementia for several years", though I'm not sure that this was the case for Jake Scott.

Do they whine? I don't think so. If they complain, they have matters to complain of.

ADT techie admits he peeked into women's home security cams thousands of times to watch them undress, have sex

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Re: Misquote

Indeed, glass break detectors can be quite sensitive. I discovered this our first winter with one when a pot fell off the drying rack, and landed on the kitchen floor about three feet down. I noticed also the next or a later summer when I forgot to turn off the security system before I tapped down the lid on a paint can, and woke the household.

You can drive a car with your feet, you can operate a sewing machine with your feet. Same goes for computers obviously

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Re: Foot pedal

Americans of a certain age will remember Rosemary Woods, a secretary in the Nixon White House, whose work on the foot pedal made the newspapers during Watergate.

Vatican absolved of one financial sin after revelation of data discrepancies

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How is this listed under "storage"? Does the Vatican ship funds on thumb drives full of bitcoin?

It's been a day or so and nope, we still can't wrap our head around why GitHub would fire someone for saying Nazis were storming the US Capitol

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Re: The problem

I checked yesterday, and it takes about 30 seconds to find Hillary Clinton's concession speech of November 9, 2016. YouTube has it in full.

In about the same length of time, one can find a full recording, also on YouTube, of the telephone call of January 2, 2021, in which President Trump, attempted to bully the Georgia Secretary of State, into reversing Biden's victory there.

Nobody that I remember tried to impeach the incumbent because of the 2016 election. The Democrats did not have a majority in the House of Representatives until 2018. The House did impeach the president because of his attempt to barter with the Ukrainian government--dirt on Biden in return for (approved and appropriated) aid.

So, no, we (at least for "we" defined as codejunky and disgrunted yank) cannot agree.

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Re: The word

Whiskey should be and is widely used. But as a staple of one's diet, it has its drawbacks.

Yes, absolutely, invade the Capitol in a Camp Auschwitz sweatshirt, "Nazi" is precisely the term, unless you want to tack a "neo-" on in front. The kid at GitHub deserves a thumbs-up, not disciplinary action. But if we're going to bring the 1960s and 1970s back, and use the term indiscriminately, well, that will not be an improvement.

Pizza and beer night out the window, hours trying to sort issue, then a fresh pair of eyes says 'See, the problem is...'

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Re: Proof reader

Hmm. Should we have a movie about the adventures of proofreaders, Trans Spotting? Anyone here speak Glaswegian?

Lay down your souls to the gods of rock 'n' roll: Conspiracy theorists' 5G 'vaccine' chip schematic is actually for a guitar pedal

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But Graham Greene isn't out of copyright, is he

This seems like a rip-off of Our Man in Havana.

'Best tech employer of the year' threatened trainee with £15k penalty fee for quitting to look after his sick mum

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In 1992, I was working for a government contractor, and it astonished me to hear co-workers speak enthusiastically about Perot. Our own employer had recently cut our benefits, after getting us to sign on to win a renewal of the contract. And I think our tech writer had learned the hard way about EDS.

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Spartan indeed

Treat the employees like helots.

Trump administration says Russia behind SolarWinds hack. Trump himself begs to differ

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I blame it on the Irish

Orion, O'Ryan. Coincidence? I think not.

Windows might have frozen – but at least my feet are toasty

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Smoke, no fire

Back in the days of minicomputers, one of our customers got his MV/x000 to smoke by misconnecting the priority chain on the backplane. Our guy had an arm in a sling, and couldn't do the connecting. They cut the power immediately and the machine was not damaged.

About $15m in advertising booked to appear on millions of smart TVs was never seen by anyone, says Oracle

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Next up

Perhaps the smart TVs will notice when one has gone for a bathroom break when the commercials start running during the Super Bowl. Some people are really into Super Bowl commercials (think of Ridley Scott's commercial for the Macintosh), but do they constitute a majority?

Stony-faced Google drags Android Things behind the cowshed. Two shots ring out

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For those who haven't seen it


Dutch officials say Donald Trump really did protect his Twitter account with MAGA2020! password

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I see what's wrong

Capital letters, yes. Numbers, yes. Non-alphanumeric, yes. But there's no lower-case letter. Surely he'll know better next time.

Cloudflare, Dropbox, Reddit and friends launch Section 230 compromise coalition as change seems inevitable

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Just in case you want to hear from somebody who knows


Chuck Yeager, sound barrier pioneer pilot, dies at 97

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Re: The right stuff, in some circumstances

I believe he would not have been eligible for the Mercury program, as not having a college degree. But yes, was a bit limited there.


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