* Posts by Chris Gray 1

329 publicly visible posts • joined 8 Jul 2009


Firefox slow to load YouTube? Just another front in Google's war on ad blockers

Chris Gray 1

seen it

I see both delays now. I run Firefox, but I do not block ads. I'm perfectly OK with watching a bit of advertisement to help pay for the service. What I *do* block, using "NoScript", is Javascript from places I do not want running software on my computer. That includes all "social media" sites. And "googletagletmanager". And, I've had almost 3400 views on my posted videos. Yeah, I know, that's miniscule, but still... :-)

Boffins find AI stumbles when quizzed on the tough stuff

Chris Gray 1

the example

You can see how it messed up with the example picture. The image shows a container labelled as a 600ml glass (look on the left). The graduated markings only go upto 400ml. Someone with actual *understanding* will probably say 400ml, but might also misinterpret what the question actually is and say 600ml. Without understanding the actual norms of measurement, 600ml is the right answer, I think. Similar for someone who isn't good at English - "highest amount this class measures" versus "amount this glass holds".

Note that the computer understood the mis-stated question ("class", not "glass").

Japan cruises ahead with drive-thru EV charging trial

Chris Gray 1

Re: Vehicle ID based charging

I'll consume a bit of flamebait....


You do recall the early stories about how the Tesla Model S beat the gas supercars in 0-60 acceleration?

Chris Gray 1

Re: Wow

Just the one. Although its got some tape around it near the mini-USB.

Chris Gray 1

Re: Wow

These things are worth trying, but I think there have been lots of questions about practicality, efficiency and safety.

Is wear and tear on connectors that big an issue? I know the scale is completely different, but my cellphone has survived 10 or so years of every-second-day charging, using just a micro-USB. Its on its 3rd battery.

Also, I don't know in general, but the electric buses we have here use an overhead charging system where a pantograph-like thing raises up from the roof of the bus to contact charging bars in the ceiling of the bus garage ("bus barn"). When down, they are disguised from paranoid folks by some higher side "wings" on the bus.

GNOME developer proposes removing the X11 session

Chris Gray 1

Re: Ugh!

I know I'm incredibly old-fashioned, but it seems to me to be more efficient if there is only one set of "drawing commands" on the system, rather than umpteen. There has to be at least one, and it makes more sense to me to have it in the server, which is closer to the hardware, than in each client. The clients, or at least the huge libraries they use, have to have a lot of code to find out from the server what the hardware is like and what facilities it has. Why implement/duplicate all that?

You and I differ over "lightweight". Lightweight to me concerns the total amount of code involved in accomplishing something safely and correctly. Adding bloated stuff with its own untyped programming language is just plain wrong to me.

If X clients are communicating with the server via sockets, how on earth can they see what other clients are doing? They can likely infer a bit based on what the window manager tells them, but that's about it.

With a system using shared memory between the server and its clients, visibility is much higher, and it is that which I very strongly dislike.

Have you guessed that I have no need whatsoever for high performance games and fancy rendering?

Chris Gray 1
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Personally I use very little of the capability of any desktop manager. I just don't need them in my usage pattern. What I do need is knowing that any problems I encounter in my code are likely my fault, and not the fault of some other huge, unsafely-written blob of code that insists on having read-write access to my address space. In other words, I insist on talking to a display system only through sockets. Unless there is some other mechanism that allows the communication without granting it any access to stuff I care about?

Last time this topic came up, I think I heard about something called "X-Wayland"(?) that sits on top of Wayland and provides the X socket interface to clients to use the desktop. That I can put up with, although it sounds like a kludge and a resource hog.

Red Hat retires mailing list, leaving Linux loyalists to read between the lines

Chris Gray 1
Thumb Up


This old goat remembers when CPU power had to be carefully shepherded. In that environment, a system that gets interrupts for work requests is more efficient than one that requires polling for work. Much less looping around doing nothing, when there are background things that also want attention.

As the author sort-of mentions, email is an interrupt which you can choose to ignore; forums, web-pages, etc. require polling.

The difference here is that it is the human's attention that is being wasted by polling, not CPU cycles.

Scientists suggest possible solution to space-induced bone loss

Chris Gray 1

Re: ...treatment for brain changes and other detrimental health effects of space exposure...

Hmm. A bunch of the early graphics on B-5 were done on Amigas with Video Toasters. I didn't have a Toaster, but my guess is that they didn't do 1080P resolution. So, blu ray would require upscanning. Might mess up the pattern done on the Vorlon ships. I've had B-5 on DVD for years, and with the strikes on in Hollywood, it might be time to play them again. Either that or continue on with "Murder She Wrote".

US amends hypersonic weapons strategy: If you can't zoom with 'em, boom 'em

Chris Gray 1


Given how fast the hypersonic stuff is going, can't you "just" arrange to have a bunch of very hard "pebbles" in front of it? Ideally the pebbles are moving in an arc to maximize their interception likelihood. How about a bit of spent uranium as their core, even though that won't be viewed very well by those living below.

This profiler chatbot promises to help speed up your Python – we can believe it

Chris Gray 1

Usually not a good idea

1) The python runtime environment may not have enough information available about the program ("introspection") to do that.

2) The runtime required to do the optimization may be well be a lot bigger than the actual runtime, so the whole is much slower.

3) Why spend all that extra effort (runtime) each time you run the program, when doing it once yields better runtime for all runs?

That said, there *may* be situations where what you suggest is useful.

Start rummaging: Atari's new 2600+ console supports vintage cartridges

Chris Gray 1


Only 2 million times more RAM? Are they sure that's enough, given how software is written nowadays?

GNOME project considers adding window tiling by default

Chris Gray 1

Must be optional

Might I suggest some rules for such a tiler:

If the window has been manually resized and moved by the user, then *never* move or resize it automatically.

If the window has had a given size/position for a long time and is used often, then *never* move/resize it automatically.

I used to use Gnome2. Gnome3 came. Hated it. Found Mate. Still using it more than a decade later.

Why? I do not spend time interacting with the window manager. Monitor is old 1280 x 1024, in portrait mode. It has the tool, etc. bar vertically on the right. That leaves room for a pair of 80 column, full height windows side by side. The right hand one is Gnu emacs. The left hand one is a shell. Buffers in emacs come and go. Testing of my code, email, file handling, etc. run in the left window. A shell buffer in emacs is also used, but tends to be for things that don't produce a lot of output.

If a window manager that I cannot control ever fiddles with those two windows just because I temporarily open up another window, then I will find where the developer lives.... :-)

Web browser? That means I'm taking a break from programming - the two main windows are iconified.

Lately I've often had a PDF viewer for the X86-64 architecture active, but it comes and goes iconified as needed.

I do not want a system that relies on my very poor memory to find key combinations or weird names to control my system and run things. Give me menus!!!!

OctoX is a radical Rust implementation of a very old OS for RISC-V

Chris Gray 1

Re: You are not expected to understand this.

Agreed. Its cool, but not terrible. *Of course* the process ending call does not return. Even though its existence as a standard C call makes it look like it should if you don't actually read it.

I did similar things a couple of times for thread termination. It was a bit of a thrill to watch them work, I will admit!

When I first looked into an old Linux kernel (writing code for hardware to plug into a bus and work shared-memory-wise with the kernel), I was definitely disturbed to see that it included the same device header file(s) twice. Its been years, but I think the first time was to add the devices to the device tables(s), and the second time was to compile the actual driver code. Doing it that way meant that it was all in one file, so was less likely to get broken, but it sure broke expectations! Dunno if it still works that way.

SpaceX says, sure, Starship blew up but you can forget about the rest of that lawsuit

Chris Gray 1

Re: Read the fine print!!

Exactly! A "way" doesn't have to be safe or legal does it? Just find the closest un-fenced-off spot and drive your massive SUV thingy in the right direction until you either get there or it stops moving.

On second thought - fence, what fence?

Why you might want an email client in the era of webmail

Chris Gray 1


Do any of these fancy email clients let you use $EDITOR to edit your email? (Al)pine does, and that is the main reason why I stick with it.

'Strictly limit' remote desktop – unless you like catching BianLian ransomware

Chris Gray 1


It is only briefly mentioned, but there does not appear to be a bug directly involved - the baddies just guess passwords. So, perhaps the most important lesson is to use better passwords!

Military helicopter crash blamed on failure to apply software patch

Chris Gray 1


Was the copter unreliable because of a long history of software patches not installed, or were the patches not installed because of a long history of unreliability leading to no interest in maintaining them?

Perhaps just a vicious circle of at least those two.

The return of the classic Flying Toasters screensaver

Chris Gray 1

turn it off

I just looked, and indeed my 6(?) year old Linux release does have xscreensaver installed. But, I never use it.

Instead, I long ago put a widget in Ubuntu Mate's task/status/menu bar thingy that executes the following script:

#! /bin/bash

sleep 10

xset dpms force off

When I'm heading away from the computer I click on the widget (I use the screensaver icon for it), move the mouse pointer to somewhere out of the way, and go. 10 seconds later, X tells the monitor to go inactive. Which it does, saving screen *and* power.

HMD offers Nokia phone with novel concept: Designed to be repaired by its owner

Chris Gray 1

Re: Lasts 3 years

A phone is not dead just because it no longer gets security updates. Don't put evil apps on it and you'll be just fine. Mine is about 8 years old now, and hasn't had an update in years. But, since I don't have any social media nonsense or fancy games on it, it should be just fine. The only thing I have to worry about is the Play Store - Google updates that separately. Might also do the GMail app that way. I've had the phone go a year or more without needing a reboot - and then it is usually because something has decided to start sucking battery.

That's not a TP-Link access point, it's a… vacuum?

Chris Gray 1

Re: Does it actually clean edges and corners ?

I used to have a near-original Roomba. It eventually broke down; iRobot basically replaced it for free, and it went for a while again, but then it had other problems, so I forgot about it.

I now live in a place which by British standards is ridiculously huge. There is mostly just me here - no pets, etc. It takes me about an hour to do the floors (just finished, actually), but it takes nearly 2 hours to do the dusting. I don't want something to do floors, I want something that can dust! Carefully! Very carefully!

More pre-Musk Twitter 1.0 execs leave the building

Chris Gray 1

Re: And yet...

As the article says, it is advertisers that are the source of Twitter's money, not directly the users. Same for all advertising-based outfits.

I recall comments from just before/after the purchase suggesting that Musk was buying Twitter just so he could shut it down. He may have reconsidered after he was forced to follow through on the purchase. But, with what is going on now, it looks like the plan of killing off Twitter is going ahead.

Now if only someone would do the same for Meta!

Why would a keyboard pack a GPU and run Unreal Engine? To show animations beneath the clear keys, natch

Chris Gray 1

No, I don't think so.

Some pretty effects, buuuuuuuut, being a cheap and old-fashioned sort, I don't have any devices that support USB-C!

London cops break into gallery to rescue lifelike art installation

Chris Gray 1

Re: Miracle at the Art Gallery

Drat, I was hoping for a good shaggy dog story!

A brand new Linux DRM display driver – for a 1992 computer

Chris Gray 1

Re: Good.

Oh you poor thing. I was able to keep working on my Amiga (4000T by then) up until I moved over to Linux.

iFixit stabs batteries – for science – so you don't have to

Chris Gray 1


That big battery looks a lot like the ones that go in small UPS's. At least the APC UPS's I've had. But, I'm not worried because I'm pretty sure that APC only uses lead-acid batteries (like old car batteries), which don't have the same problems.

Only iPhone 15 Pro models will have higher data transfer speeds on USB-C – analyst

Chris Gray 1

Re: Coby > Apple

Coby - that name rings a bell. Sure enough, the LCD picture frame in my kitchen is a Coby unit. Still works fine, but its clock runs quite fast, so I don't have that enabled in the display (plus, in that mode, it cycles through images too fast and wears out USB sticks).

The battery in the remote keeps dying, so I replaced the whole setup a few years ago. The replacement died within a few months, so I went back to the reliable Coby.

On the issue of using cables with a phone: this computer is a deskside and has no radio stuff, so getting pics off my phone requires the cable. I have an old cheapie laptop, but my fingers, trained on real typewriters, detest trackpads and laptop keyboards. And even if I got stuff to my laptop, I'd end up using a thumb drive from there to this machine anyway!

Robotics startup wants to disrupt walking with AI roller skates

Chris Gray 1


Brief: not in Canada.

Longer: currently slippery slushy snow and grit on sidewalks, deeper slushy snow on side streets to cross. Even if they survived, they would end up so messy I wouldn't want to carry them inside.

Uneven and cracked sidewalks - don't pay attention and end up faceplanting.

NSA urges orgs to use memory-safe programming languages

Chris Gray 1

Re: Self Hosting

Ah yes, the need for bootstrapping!

My solution to that issue has been to maintain compiler sources in *both* languages. For a lot of stuff, I write in my own language first, since it is higher-level than C, then translate to C (yes, manually) when the former first compiles.

Over time, significant chunks of the C code have been deleted, replaced with calls to my bytecode engine to execute the version in my own language. At some point, my system will be complete enough to fully compile itself.

I was pushing to have versions of the whole thing quite a while ago, but stopped. As the language changed, there was no good reason to keep redoing the parser, for example. I did do the lexical scanner, and have used it to good effect for other purposes.

Currently, I'm working on producing X86-64 code (mostly there now) and Elf files to run on Linux. All of that is *only* in my own language.

Will my compiler end up as "good" as gcc or llvm? No, of course not. One guy versus teams of people. However, having *all* of the needed tools written in a memory-safe language will, I believe, be of benefit for extremely critical situations.

Firefox points the way to eradicating one of the rudest words online: PDF

Chris Gray 1

Re: I don't mind PDFs

Hmm. Firefox 88.0 here - new enough? I'm on an ancient version of Linux, and new versions of Firefox are offered by the Linux package tools. Firefox itself has never offered. There may be some config: thing I turned off years ago.

In Rust We Trust: Microsoft Azure CTO shuns C and C++

Chris Gray 1

Re: THERE . IS . NO . SUCH . THING . AS . C/C++

Good lord, the crossroads demon that would raise!

(See Supernatural TV series.)

Chris Gray 1

Re: Hold your horses!

Did you read what I wrote?

Or, have I fallen into the trap of feeding a troll? Usenet news is too long ago!

Chris Gray 1

Re: Hold your horses!

But, you are doing the same thing, only in the other direction. The statements in the article about "less vulnerable" are correct, as is your statement that Rust does not make programs fully secure. To me, it seems like you are deliberately trying to downplay the advantages of using safe languages like Rust. The benefits are real - such usage *will* make many (most?) programs less vulnerable. Not completely invulnerable of course, but definitely LESS vulnerable.

There are other types of gotchas in most languages. One that I found a couple days ago in my C code is years old:

wrong: ... 1 << n ...

right: ... 1ull << n ...

(64 bit compilation)

If I recall correctly integral literals in Rust are u32, so the same problem exists there.

Microsoft Outlook sends users back to 1930 with (very) mini-Millennium-Bug glitch

Chris Gray 1

Re: Collapsing global economy and rising fascism.

Hmm. "choke full" instead of "chock full" perhaps implies you don't like them.....

How Arm popped CHERI architecture into Morello Program hardware

Chris Gray 1


As a compiler writer (long-time hobby), who has recently been doing X86-64 codegen, I hope they don't end up making another class of registers - that can make efficient codegen even more of a pain in the ass. And, harder to get right.

Japan reverses course on post-Fukushima nuclear ban

Chris Gray 1

Re: saving energy

I didn't notice anything after mine, a month or so ago (heart's fine).

You actually might have more luck eating lots of bananas, but that has other side effects.

VMware confirms Carbon Black causes BSODs, boot loops on Windows

Chris Gray 1


I get that "Carbon Black" is some VMWare product relating to running virtual machines under Windows (or Windows running in a virtual machine, or both).

But what on earth does "sensor version" mean in relation to any of that?

(I figured I wouldn't be the only one who doesn't know, so I'm asking publically.)

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

Chris Gray 1

So, we can assume they've done "grep strcpy ...", "grep strcat ... ", etc. on all Chromium sources?

Scientists use supercritical carbon dioxide to power the grid

Chris Gray 1

Re: Pull my finger

Mongo *like* beans!

Chris Gray 1

recuperator == heat exchanger

A couple of clicks told me that "recuperator" is just a word for a heat exchanger.

What I didn't find is an understandable reason why the same technique can't be use with a water/steam system. A closed loop is a closed loop, regardless of what is in the pipes. You have to properly manage the heat flow in both cases. It's probably all in the math as to why the Rankine cycle has to lose so much of the input energy doing the state changes.

The many derivatives of the CP/M operating system

Chris Gray 1

Re: Simpler days

Yeah, I know - replying to my own comment is tres tacky.

But, in a moment of weakness I went looking, and I found the 8080 assembler for the cache setup. There was another option "cache recover" - not real sure what that did, but I expect it assumed valid cache contents after a system reset/reboot.

Code is nicely commented, but would take considerable effort to really understand.

And yes, it transfered 4 bytes per bank switch.

Chris Gray 1

Simpler days

I'm not certain, but I think my first use of CP/M was on an Exidy Sorcerer (had a Z80) with an external dual floppy box.

Later I spent an absolute fortune for a big S-100 system with dual-processor board, dual floppies, graphics card, disk controller card, system control card, SRAM card, extended DRAM card, and a partridge in a pear tree. Many of the boards were "CompuPro" from Godbout. They included the BIOS source for the hardware.

I wrote a RAM disk system using the 256K expanded memory. The CPU board had a register you could output to which controlled the upper 8 bits of the 24 bit S-100 address as output by the 8085 CPU (the floppy controller board did the full 24 bit). With care, and some "interesting" use of the DMA controller on the disk controller card, I was able to switch back and forth among the 64K "segments", saving a few bytes (4?) in the CPU registers for going between the main bank (bank 0) and a bank of my RAM disk. I created CP/M program "cache", which accepted "on", "off" and "flush". "flush" took all dirty contents from the expanded memory and wrote it to the active floppy. I was quite proud of this setup. Made programming on the system *much* faster, and with far far less "GRONK-CLUNK" going on.

I also recall a local store had a business system for sale running MP/M. It did indeed support multiple simultaneous users. Very expensive system, however.

CHERI-based computer runs KDE for the first time

Chris Gray 1

A way to go!

This may be unpopular, but:

I agree with Tony Hoare.

I'm also a strong believer in strong static typing in languages.

Correctness, reliability and maintainability over quick results in almost all situations.

British boffins make touchless computing tech on the cheap

Chris Gray 1


Hmm. Is there stuff in the Intel-provided libraries that prevent them from running on AMD CPUs? That'll cut out a good portion of laptops and desktops.

CP/M's open-source status clarified after 21 years

Chris Gray 1

Re: 128 Mbytes!

Double sided! Ooooh - I would have been jealous. But, I did have 2 drives on mine, so it was a lot nicer for some things.

(Monstrous setup - huge S100 box with rack mount handles, dual-drive box on top, then a terminal, printer and 1200 baud modem elsewhere on the desk. Had fun playing with the graphics cards.)

Clunk, clunk, whiirrrr, clunk, clunk.

Chris Gray 1
Thumb Up

Ah, the memories!

Yes, I am that old.

James Webb Space Telescope looks closer to home with Jupiter snaps

Chris Gray 1

Not Dirty

On first glance of the Jupiter image, I was wondering if there were already dust lumps or something on the mirror. Then I looked at the left limb of Jupiter and you can see that its a whole bunch of moonlets. Cool!

US seeks exascale systems 10 times faster than current state-of-the-art computers

Chris Gray 1


Has anyone heard any uptime numbers for the Chinese systems? What about for the current western systems? Do we expect the numbers to be similar? They might not be, in which case this could be a case of the west spending a lot of money to chase something that isn't actually real.

Whatever hit the Moon in March, it left this weird double crater

Chris Gray 1
Black Helicopters

pointy wedge

Am I the only one who noticed a pointy wedge in the right-hand crater? The tip is pointing about 1-o'clock.

Since we haven't even seen BumbleBee yet, let alone Optimus Prime, I conclude we're all doomed!

Graphical desktop system X Window just turned 38

Chris Gray 1

Re: What I like about X

For technical reasons which are unlikely to ever go away, I want to be able to do GUI things without having any extra stuff in my process address space. The X protocol gives me that, and it sounds like Wayland has no intention of doing so. So, I'm glad things like XWayland exist and hopefully will continue to do so. My Linux is suffiently old that it still has the traditional X server, so I don't have any experience with Wayland.

And yes, I fully understand that using the X protocol makes high intensity graphical games unlikely to work. That's fine.