* Posts by John Smith 19

16004 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

Ukraine's secret cyber-defense that blunts Russian attacks: Excellent backups

John Smith 19 Gold badge

"Maintaining offline backups is expensive and a lot of boring, repetitive work."

Boring, repetitve work that needs to be done accurately?

Gosh. Sounds just the job for one of those new-fangled, what do you call em? Computers?

Seriously, what is it with some operations team, they cannot seem to grasp that repetious s**t is exactly what compuers do best.

Wordle recreated in Pascal for the Multics operating system

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Given that TeX and Metafont were written in Pascal I'd say

yes it can be done.

Farewell to two pivotal figures: The founder of Inmos, and the co-creator of MIME

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I think the eternal question I've never really understood about the transputer is

WTF didn't they do a version with an 8bit data bus and a 16 bit address bus?

IE like EVERY 8 bit micro running at the time.

The transputer was microcoded (but still damm fast) and its instruction set designed to build up instructions from 4 bit parcels, to however many bits was needed.

The 16/8 would have been the conceptual equivalent of the Motorola 68008 used in the QL. IOW it would have raised a lot of awareness of this new (highly scalable) architecture. It might (dare I even suggest it?) have persuaded a few folk to try this new-fangled Occam thing, perhaps.

Guess we'll never know. RIP stack machines.

Arista's latest switches pack AMD Xilinx FPGAs to fuel high-frequency traders

John Smith 19 Gold badge

"High frequency traders"

Or to give them their more accurate title automated man-in-the-middle attacks that front run legitate trades.

IOW an effective "tax" on actual stock trades which nearly all markets actively support by allowing multiple types of trade that can be repudiated.

I hadn't though there were enough of these vermin in the world to support that sort of high end hardware, but obviously there are, at the right priice of course

Dear Europe, here again are the reasons why scanning devices for unlawful files is not going to fly

John Smith 19 Gold badge


Data fetishists at work.

NOTHING to do with the whol TOTC BS.

Tim Hortons collected location data constantly, without consent, report finds

John Smith 19 Gold badge

im Hortons is a restaurant chain, not the NSA.

But like all data fetishists, they think their "rights" trump everyobody elses.

Talos names eight deadly sins in widely used industrial software

John Smith 19 Gold badge

So now they have been identified

Perhaps somone will do something about them?

Why do I have the smell of companies that are happy to download the SW and use it but not to contribute ANY meaningful amount of development effort?

Boeing's Starliner CST-100 on its way to the ISS 2 years late

John Smith 19 Gold badge
IT Angle

BTW Con-gress was keen to down select to a single supplier

Guess which one Con-gress wanted?

Boeing charged more (and were given more) for this with their we're-THE-safe-pair-of-hands routine.

That BS fell apart on the first flight.

Basically bacause they had one set of actual thrusters (which being space grade are very expensive) and 2 translator boxes that converted "fire +ve roll thruster" in the software into a powerful enough drive signal to fire thruster 1 got mis-configured (because it appears no one was tracking the configuration data) into thruster anything-but-1.

IOW the hallmark of a large corporation that demanded top $ and ran a cheapskate development programme. :-(

Let's hope this time they actually take it seriously and do the job their engineers are capable of.

The ARM business model applied to nuclear and the LS reactor.

John Smith 19 Gold badge
IT Angle

The ARM business model applied to nuclear and the LS reactor.

ARM dominates a large section of the embedded market for higher power processors, especially phones, routers and cable boxes, yet it makes no actual chips. It could be argued because it makes no chips.

Instead it delivers a well thought core instruction set (and its supporting documentation) with various option packages that customers can implement efficiently and find meets most of their needs. All well supported by an effective toolchain.

This set me thinking if this strategy might work if applied to the nuclear industry.

Could a reactor design be developed that could be licensed on a global scale to multiple countries with as much as possible being built locally (to standardised designs, allowing major parts to be stockpiled on a global basis)?

You might think this sounds impossible but there are precidents. The US Liberty Ships supplied 2710 ships each carrying 10200mt from 1941-45. This was done at 18 US shipyards. The engines were built y 18 mfgs. They were all interchanageable. So big things are also possible.

It's fairly obvious that there is a huge gap in the energy market IF it can meet certain criteria.

It needs to be cheap(ish) and quick(ish) to construct (like a liberty ship in fact) but it needs to go further.

It needs to be a complete solution. That means fuel and fuel assembly design, reactor and both reprocessing and refabrication. Burying used nuclear fuel in a hole in the ground for 2x longer than the entire history of civilisation sounds retarded and the result of the something-must-be-done school of policy idiocy. Because it is.

The goal is energy security. What you do when the sun don't shine, the wind don't blow (which in central Europe can last months) and the dams are empty (those are the ONLY renewable energy sources that actually deliver energy on a scale big enough to measure on a global energy map. the rest are basically a slightly thicker line between 2 wedges on the pie chart).

My instinct is no existing design (and none of the Gen IV) have the solution, but several of them have parts that could be adapted into a complete package. The problem is most of them are so bloody heavy :-(. The fuel in a PWR weighs 27 tonnes, but the vessel to hold it for Hinckly Point C weighs about 850 tonnes, mostly because it's 200mm thick and there are maybe 6-8 forges that can build one worldwide.

Not exactly the "build anywhere" kind of spec.

OTOH it does have zircaloy tubes that have a melting point of 1850c and uranium dioxide pellets that melt at 2500c. In fact if you dumped the water you could crank up the operating temperature quite a bit.

A huge slab of the existing cost BTW is the "finance" IE the interest charges on the £22Bn of borrowed cash to build this thing, and it doesn't start generating revenue till the whole things finished. I think we all know how well "Big bang" projects work at being on time and on budget.

Imagine if the 3260MW of HPC was split into 250MW chunks (large number of steam turbine mfgs at this size for coal and oild fired stations IF you can generate steam at matching conditions, as the AGR's did). If that first chunk took 4 years to build (as fossile fuel stations do) it would already be generating revenue. If the rest of the capacity rolled out at (for example) 6 month intervals (which is how long it's taken to lay the whole foundations, including the worlds longest continuos concrete pour of 5 days, longer than the Shard. I am soooo impressed. The whole conrete budget is 3 000 000 tonnes) most of the capcity would be online in the same timeframe EXCEPT a it would already be paying back those monster interest charges by the time the real Hinckly Point C starts its (no doubt) prolonged startup testing.

The human race faces (to coin a phrase) a "Climate emergency" (the planet does not. It could not give a f**k if the human race collectively disappeared tomorrow).

I beleive that better is possible. A lot better. The question is how?

Judge details Lynch's $700k signoff via iPhone text in full Autonomy judgement

John Smith 19 Gold badge

No doubt Lynch has been in talks with some "financial advisors"

to make his allegedly large fortune disappear. *

*I've been offline for some time. I'm now back and hope to bring my usual level of balanced, relaxed attitude to issues to the site

Elon Musk says he tried to sell Tesla to Apple, which didn’t bite and wouldn't even meet

John Smith 19 Gold badge

Both SX and Tesla have come a very long way in 2 years

And you do have to wonder, did they do so in spite of the guy leaving to join Apple, or because of it?

IDK. Tesla's stock price is complete BS. The fantasy it's an IT company, not a car mfg, persists so I guess people will continue to make money off the back of it. Buy, buy buy, bye bye is not a stock tip but perhaps a sensible strategy?

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

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"That makes the Orange Lord the 44th person to hold that office"

What he said.

John Smith 19 Gold badge

Nope that's the authentic voice of DJ Trumpf, the 44th POTUS

What does an insane society look like?

Like somewhere that would elect someone like this.*

*Other equally bats**t polities are available in various parts of the world. Hopefully they will follow the US in doing some house cleaning.

John Smith 19 Gold badge

Holly s**t. A voting machine that cannot record a vote and print it *simultaneously*

And how big a processor is this thing running on?

Earth observation chief Dr Josef Aschbacher takes reins at European Space Agency

John Smith 19 Gold badge

So th Johnson has brought Blighty it's own (unnecessary) satellite constellation.

While the UK gets stuck for the cost of the other 2/3s of the constellation that's still to be built.

What a tool.

NHS awards £23m two-year deal to controversial Peter Thiel AI firm Palantir

John Smith 19 Gold badge

Danger. Data fetishists at work.

It smells already.

Ming Tang. Process for facial recognition.

'Following the science' rhetoric led to delay to UK COVID-19 lockdown, face mask rules

John Smith 19 Gold badge

John figured you didn't need leadership if you had y'know scientists

Proving that how science works is another subject that bu***hit "Boris" doesn't know about.

The Johnson probably reckons this will be his Dunkirque moment, forgetting Dunkirque was a military defeat.

Search history can calculate better credit ratings than pay slips, says International Monetary Fund

John Smith 19 Gold badge

"" I have the feeling people are trained from an early age that going into debt is a good thing."


And your attitude makes you about as common as the character in Ray Bradbury's "The Pedestrian."

John Smith 19 Gold badge

"Fintech’s potential to reach out to over a billion unbanked people around the world,"

Because they don't want to?

Because they haven't got a pot to p**s in?

In the UK the banking industry has persistently cut branches (in places they don't make enough profit) while telling the relevant HoC that relaxing rules on credit unions (that have tighter joining rules than banks) are a Bad Thing.

The best thing that could happen is to treat banks like any other business. They f**k up, they go bankrupt. I'm sick and tired of their "But we're speeeeeeeecial" schtick.

This product is terrible. Can you deliver it in 20 years’ time when it becomes popular?

John Smith 19 Gold badge

In a nutshell, the Innovators Dilemma

Companies that lead the field were top notch at using anything that improved their existing product.

What they didn't see coming was the inferior competitor that served a market they ignored.

That got better at serving that market.

And then started coming for their market instead. Or put another way.

"Do not look down on the snake, for who is to say one day it might yet become a dragon?" *

* RIP Burt.

US Treasury, Dept of Commerce hacks linked to SolarWinds IT monitoring software supply-chain attack

John Smith 19 Gold badge

So basically a "Watering hole" attack on the supplier then?

Not a very good reflection on your ability to manage your own network, is it?

John Smith 19 Gold badge

"Vote rigging in the US is legal if you do it by simple stopping your opponents from voting."

Preferred tactic of Republicans since at least Jeb Bush in Florida IIRC.

They were the party of Lincoln.

A looooong time ago.

Rogue ex-Cisco employee who crippled WebEx conferences and cost Cisco millions gets two years in US prison

John Smith 19 Gold badge

"Five months later he used access credentials to get back into Cisco's systems "

Icon says it all.

FBI confirms Zodiac Killer's 340 cipher solved by trio of amateur math and software codebreakers

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Semi brute forced by three amateurs


Something to keep in mind for anyone who thinks they've built a better mouse trap of a crypto system.

Sadly still says nothing much about the s**k f**k and where to find them.

Could still be alive though.


UK MoD bungs Boeing £500m to plug gap left by a system it should have provided under £800m contract from 2010

John Smith 19 Gold badge

But this is not *any* plain old logistics system.


This is extra-special super-duper complex MoD used-by-absoluetly-no-one-else-on-the-planet logistics system.

Because y'know those 23 000 civil servants in MoD procurement have to show they do something all f**king day long.

Delay upgrading the UK's legacy border systems has added £336m to taxpayers' bill

John Smith 19 Gold badge

" Why not have a look at who built the system for the French, or the Danes, or the Italians,

or the Irish? "

I would. But I suspect the HO has a similar attitude to the MoD to such systems.

That "What we do is sooooo special no OTS system (even one built for the task and used by [i]several[/i] other countries) could [i]possibly[/i] do what we need it to."

I sometimes suspect this is because the senior nappy put in charge of getting the new system has no actual idea [i]what[/i] the current system does (starting with what other systemes it has to talk to for it to work at all) and hopes the con-sultants and con-tractors will just "make it so" to coin a phrase.

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"That damn bus. Is there a Godwin's Law specifically for Brexit?"


Because a lot of the fools who voted for this bu***hit believed what they thought was promised on the side of the bus (It was only a "what if," so not a total lie. Cummins is quite bright like that).

Let's see the govt actually deliver on it.

So far they've delivers about 6 weeks of EU payments.

Where's the other 46 "Boris"?

It's not 'Door to Heaven', it's 'Stargate': DataStax reaches out to front-end devs with support for GraphQL

John Smith 19 Gold badge

"Ed Anuff, DataStax chief product officer,"

For real?

Megabucks in funding, 28 years of research, and Boston Dynamics is to be 'sold to Hyundai' for 1/40th of an Arm

John Smith 19 Gold badge

And here are some of BD's finest creations once they acquire true AI

here and here

Marine archaeologists catch a break on the bottom of the Baltic Sea: A 75-year-old Enigma Machine

John Smith 19 Gold badge

"Apparently they had different Enigmas on u-boats"

They did.

As anyone who has seen the film "Enigma" will know it was called "Shark" (Sharq?) and had an extra rotor because they felt 5 didn't make the challenge hard enough.

I don't know if the British ever saw one until after WWII. IOW it was entirely broken by analyzing its product.

Trumpian politics continue as senators advance controversial Republican FCC commissioner nominee

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"hahahah DRUMPF is so burnt he's turned orange!!!"


John Smith 19 Gold badge

"Not a BAD thing, as a consolation prize."

Spoken like a true support of Big Baby Little Hands himself.

Let me see if I can raise the level of your debate.

Your loser candidate is a loser and lost.

Get over it.

John Smith 19 Gold badge

"Censorship is what happens when the government prevents citizens from saying something."

And that's the key word here.


Not a private company. Not Trumps next neigbour.


Trumps government (such as it still is) has never stopped him spouting whatever load of s**t his brain come up with.

Salesforce to buy Slack for $28bn in cash, shares – and vows to make it the new face of Customer 360

John Smith 19 Gold badge

" Anonymous Coward "All your data are belong to us""


Welcome to the future.

John Smith 19 Gold badge

Salesforce must have an appropriate use case for *someone*

Sadly I don't know who.

AWS has just shown its new hybrid cloud ambitions make it an even broader threat

John Smith 19 Gold badge

Who owns your back end owns *you*

'Nuff said.

Arm at 30: From Cambridge to the world, one plucky British startup changed everything

John Smith 19 Gold badge

Anyway - this makes for an excellent afternoon read:

Indeed it did.

Just astonishing. 2 processors and a Java style event execution model (in hardware) in the late 70's. You've impressed me.

Nothing to do with Arm though.

So bye-bye, Mr Ajit Pai. You drove our policy into the levee and we still wonder why

John Smith 19 Gold badge

No real change then.

Was Big Telco's b**ch before he was appointed to the Commission

Was Big Telco's b**ch when at the Commission

Will be Big Telco's b**ch when he becomes a lobbyist / "media commentator" / mouth-for-hire when he leaves.

Perhaps he can take the Head of the Justice Dept and the GSA with him as well?

SpaceX blows away cobwebs at dormant California pad with satellite launch as a Falcon 9 makes touchdown number 7

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Impressive numbers.

Can SX do 10 launches by Jan 1st 2021 on a single booster?

Probably not.

8 yes, 9?

Physicists wrap neutrino detector in cosy blanket to shed light on the Sun's secondary fusion cycle

John Smith 19 Gold badge

"Then solar neutrinos scatter off electrons in a large vat of liquid scintillator "

Is liquid. Can scintilate under the right circumstances.

It may date back to 1994 but there's no end in sight for the UK's Chief customs system as Brexit rules beckon

John Smith 19 Gold badge

"What's this old system written in? "

It's a 70's 4GL that ran on several machines of the time tuned to run on ICL hardware. Can't recall it's name.

John Smith 19 Gold badge

"This, ironically, is nothing to do with leaving the EU per se,"

An argument that could be made of all the reasons the quitters had.

So 17 million fools prioritized an industry of 12 000 people (fishing) over over the car industry (38 000 people) which generates an income 1/2 that of the f**king game shooting industry? It's less than the profit of Tesco.

How stupid would people be to do that?

Dumb enough to vote Leave obviously.

John Smith 19 Gold badge

"Not quite true. "

Oh really, Mr (or Ms) AC?

I didn't think it would be long before quitters would want to step away from being associated with being a quitter.

You demonstrate my view quite well.

You can't "Take Back Control" (as you chanted with the frenzy of a brainwashed cultist) if you never lost control in the first place.

You've been conned. Get over it.

John Smith 19 Gold badge

Still. The Farage Garage will be open for business on time.

Or Kent as we like to think of it.

Remember quitters this is what you voted for.

Study: While text-generating AI can write like humans, it lacks common sense

John Smith 19 Gold badge

But "bu****it" is 8 letters.

So true.

One the most impressive small projects I ever saw was done out of the U of Edinburgh English Language Research Unit in the late 60's. It used a deliberately limited dictionary of functional words and a small group of verbs. The grammar was quite simple and the parse built what looked like a trie with all paths in parallel until most of them had been terminated. It ran on the KDF9 with 96KB of core.

The point was it could cope with any sentence. Unrecognized words were simply listed as o/c for open class. Naturally it went nowhere in the UK.

John Smith 19 Gold badge

And of course both things can be true, even in the same individual.

Yes I can definitely believe that. :-( .

The thing is humans produce new nouns, adjectives and verbs daily, just as old ones fall into disuse (who has used "fax" in a sentence this week who's not involved with the legal profession?)

Any true NLU system has to cope with 2 problems. Understanding what it is being told and adding to that understanding over time.

Because humans can do both. I think the second may be trickier.

John Smith 19 Gold badge

"they can speak, but they have nothing to say,"


Although to be fair I've met enough people who spend a great deal of time saying nothing worth listening to so it's not just a criticism that can be leveled at AI projects.

John Smith 19 Gold badge

"I believe that one day we can see AI agents such as Samantha in the movie Her "


And the MIT Automated Assistant project (from the late 70's and early 80's) gets re-born

Yet again.

These people really do have zero history of their supposed "science," that's more than about 5YO. It's like dealing with a goldfish with a PhD.

The GIMP turns 25 and promises to carry on being the FOSS not-Photoshop

John Smith 19 Gold badge

Can you really get a version that says "Bringing on........

Never got round to using it.

However congratulations and I think the fact it's still being maintained and extended suggests that there is a real need out there that is being served.

We see what you did there: First-stage booster from Rocket Lab's Return to Sender mission floats back to Earth

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For what is a a fairly small company this is an amazing achievement.

And yes Part II is when they recover a stage, refurb it and relaunch it.

We'll see how long that takes.

SX took about a year but Electron is quite a bit smaller.


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