* Posts by tfb

1131 posts • joined 11 Jan 2010

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Howdy, er, neighbor – mind if we join you? Potential sign of life spotted in Venus's atmosphere

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Boffin

Re: I'm sorry, but what exactly does this mean?

So I asked one of the people, and what it means is this: with a reasonable model of the atmosphere (which tells you the rate at which it is destroyed at various levels, the mixing time and so on) you can work out what the rate of emission from the surface would need to be to get the amounts that are observed in the upper atmosphere, which is 10^6 - 10^7 molecules / cm^2 / s. This about 10% of the surface flux you can get from terrestrial organisms.

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Re: I'm sorry, but what exactly does this mean?

This is a direct quote from one of the sources, which doesn't give any further information, sadly. So it's not clear what it means but it's not a botch in this article, anyway.

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Boffin

Re: Life

It could mean the idea of panspermia is correct. There is no way life arose on Earth by chance. For years, boffins have tried to replicate the creation of life - they've failed

Um, what? People have been trying to replicate the origins of life for, let's say, a century in a few isolated experiments with conditions which may or may not be similar to those when life actually originated. Given the earliest plausible date for life existing on Earth, which is 4.28 billion years ago, and assuming that life started in the oceans, which formed 4.41 billion years ago, life had 130 million years to get going, and the chemical and physical environments of the entire ocean to do it in.

Come back and say something meaningful when you've run the experiments on the scale of entire oceans for 130 million years.

Research into deflecting potentially world-destroying asteroids is apparently not a 'national priority' for the UK

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Boffin

Re: People. We can't stop an asteroid, ok? We just can't. Deal with it ;)

It will _never_ be possible. Just do the numbers

I did the numbers. If we can intercept an object 0.5AU away (which is certainly plausible) we need to deflect it by 0.002 degrees to change it from Earth-impacting to Earth-skimming. This is slightly simplified: the proper calculation might end up worse, say by an order of magnitude (it will be less), so say 0.02 degrees.

Yes, we can stop asteroids hitting Earth: we may not be able to stop donosaur-killer sized ones, we can certainly stop merely civilization-ending ones. We can very definitely stop country-killers.

Three middle-aged Dutch hackers slipped into Donald Trump's Twitter account days before 2016 US election

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Alien

Re: ExVet

I think your model of how such a thing might start is ... oversimplified. Much more likely is something like: Trump nukes Iran, someone (Russia?) nukes Israel in retaliation, US nukes Russia, Russia nukes US, game over. Or something involving North Korea.

I don't know if that escalation path is plausible, but something like that is much more likely than a direct US-Russia thing. That kind of thing (not involving nukes, obviously) is how WWI started.

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Alien

Re: What this means

I don't think they are infinitely capable: that's why I assume a lot of other people were in his twitter account between 2012-2016.

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Pirate

Re: Enter the hash into a search engine ...

You do understand that there are polls commissioned by people other than political parties, right? And you did understand my point that polling organisations with political bias will be weeded out by people who commission polls because they want the truth? And you realise, of course, that bookies (see root of the thread) who give the wrong odds will end up losing money? Oh, no, you didn't understand any of that. Never mind.

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Alien

Re: Enter the hash into a search engine ...

Let's imagine two polling companies. One manipulates their poll results to get the answer they[1] want, one does not. People employ these companies and make decisions based on what their polls say. The decisions based on the manipulating company will be less right than those made by the other one. And since there is money resting on the decisions ('I need to move my business out of the UK if Corbyn wins: will he?') they rapidly stop commissioning polls from the company which is manipulating them, which dies.

In other words: stop spouting conspiracy theories, troll.

[1] Who, by the way is 'they'? Certainly not anyone who wants the polling company to make money: is it the deep state? The cabal? The libs? The illuminati? Me.

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Terminator

Re: What this means

No. I mean they were reading direct messages to him, possibly sending direct messages 'from' him, and also possibly sending public tweets 'from' him.

And, of course, he used the same password for everything else, probably, so they were probably in everything else.

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Boffin

Re: Enter the hash into a search engine ...

If he had chosen two random words (obviously 'battery staple' are not two such since we all know where they originated and anything smart will be trying them), then he would have made his password about 55 billion times harder to brute force (with the dictionary size on my machine), yes. At a billion hashes a second, that's the difference between 55 seconds to brute force it and 1,744 years.

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Alien

What this means

The Linkedin leak in 2012 was well-publicised. Any competent organisation interested in security was certainly aware of it. His password is two English words: a brute-force dictionary attack on his password based on knowing the hash would take tens of seconds if you can compute a billion hashes a second, which is very achievable.

In other words the Russians were certainly in his Twitter account in 2016 and before as, probably, were any number of other state security organisations.

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Big Brother

Re: Enter the hash into a search engine ...

In fact it's 'yourefired' (lower case):

$ echo -n yourefired | openssl sha1

07b8938319c267dcdb501665220204bbde87bf1d

So the man who is now president of the USA had a single-case, all-natural-language password which he hadn't changed for four years for hist Twitter account, one which would be easy to guess if you knew his history. This would be hysterically funny if it was not so terrifying.

China, Russia and Iran all attacking US elections and using some nasty new tactics, says Microsoft

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Big Brother

Re: Sorry for Laughing but...

You mean the Bill Binney who

has been a frequent guest on RT and Fox News and has been frequently cited on Breitbart News. In November 2017, it was reported that a month earlier, Binney had met with CIA Director Mike Pompeo at the behest of President Trump.

(From his Wikipedia entry.)

He certainly sounds very reliable and unbiased, doesn't he? We can definitely trust him, because he's certainly not either being paid by the Russians or being fooled by them.

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Big Brother

Re: This could al be avoided

Except it couldn't. It looks like most of these attacks are looking for credentials on people's email systems. If your password is 'Bor1s' they're going to get you whatever the OS you're using is.

Open access journals are vanishing from the web, Internet Archive stands ready to fill in the gaps

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Alien

Seriously, there's people out there saving 2 factor auth, live stream, multi-angled paid porn... and the I.A. can't figure out how to save a .pdf?

I'm sure there are. That's because those people are willing to put in a huge amount of time and effort to do that, because ... it's porn. People like porn, which is why the internet is mostly made of it. The Internet Archive could do this as well: but they have two problems: people aren't generally willing to spend hundreds of hours scraping the content of some site which is intentionally making it hard to do that when the only reward is a collection of academic papers very few of which count as porn and, even if they are, humans are really fucking bad at doing huge trawls like this reliably and completely.

So, they could solve the first problem by just paying a large number people to do this. This is obviously no problem for them because they do, after all, have all the money in the world. That still leaves the second problem.

TL/DR: it is not safe to draw conclusions from studying people's willingness to work very hard to steal porn, other than that people like porn, a lot. Who knew?

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Pirate

Unpaywall

That's great, if your model of archiving a journal is 'sit in front of a computer for a very long time laboriously downloading papers' If your model is 'write a program which will walk over the journal's site and download the content' it is useless.

Tech ambitions said to lie at heart of Britain’s bonkers crash-and-burn Brexit plan

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Big Brother

Re: chances of a deal with the EU are beginning to ebb away

... spineless government mouthpiece, the BBC ...

That same organisation which the government is busily trying to downsize so we can have our news from organisations owned by someone they like, you mean?

Crack this mystery: Something rotated the ice shell around Jupiter's Europa millions of years ago, fracturing it

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Boffin

Re: Wingnut effect?

That's a really clever idea. Europa is tidally-locked to Jupiter, so its poles will be orthogonal to its orbital plane. I am pretty sure the inclination of the whole system is small enough that it does indeed get much less light at the poles. It also has complicated resonances with the other Galilean moons which means it gets lots of tidal whacking which could easily be enough to trigger the ice sheet breaking loose if it already wants to.

I wonder if the proper boffins have thought of this?

COVID-19 tracing without an app? There's an iOS and Android update for that

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Boffin

Here's an experiment you can easily do. Wait for a foggy day. Go outside with a cloth tied over your face for half an hour. Come back in. The cloth will be damp. The reason it is damp is because it's picking up moisture from the fog as you breathe through it, and in the process of that it is stopping some of the fog from getting into your lungs. Fog is an aerosol.

So, gosh, masks are not 'useless against aerosols' at all, are they? They are not completely effective against aerosols but they are not completely ineffective, either. Masks help: who knew?

But of course, I'm sure you 'know' better. I mean who am I but a mere scientist, while you of course understand everything.

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Boffin

Re: Wifi sniffing

Again with the single bit idiocy. A mask doesn't fall into one of only two categories: 'virus proof' or 'not virus proof'. instead a mask can reduce the quantity of virus-laden crud you breathe out and reduce the amount of virus-laden crud you breathe in. By doing that it can reduce the probability (not make it zero) that you will infect someone if you are infected, and reduce the probability (not make it zero) that you will get infected if you aren't.

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Boffin

Re: Wifi sniffing

Here's the thing: the world is made of real numbers, not bits. It's not mask-wearing XOR contact-tracing, it's mask-wearing + contact-tracing (and not AND, + because real numbers, not single bits).

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Boffin

Re: Future of this

It's nice to be paranoid, but as best I can make out (which may be wrong) you have to work fairly hard for this protocol to leak personal data. My understanding of how it works (and I'd welcome correction!) is:

If you've turned it on, then phone generates a random cookie every little while, keeping enough old ones to cover the plausible time-constants for an infection, after which time it forgets the cookies. When phone sees other phone they exchange cookies. The phone remembers the cookies it has seen for long enough to cover an infection, because after that they have no value: the other phone will have forgotten its cookie. If you get infected, then at your discretion, the phone will upload its last few cookies (not the ones it's seen, its own) to some central place. In any case, every little while the phone goes to the central place and says 'tell me your list of cookies of people who have volunteered that they are infected recently' and compares them against the cookies it has seen: if there's a match it then tells you that you have been close to an infected person.

I'm trying to work out what an attack on this would be which did not involve compromising many phones. The central cookie register can keep their stash of cookies for much longer than they should, but I don't think they benefit from that, since they already presumably know who those cookies belonged to, and all the other phones which had them will have aged them away.

Obviously if you can persuade enough phones to keep their stash of cookies they've seen for much longer *and* you can tell them to give them to you, then you can build a network of who has been near whom. But that requires compromising many phones.

Well, it would be interesting to know from people who actually have read the description of it if this is right. Just not from the tinfoilers.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away... a pair of black holes coalesced resulting in largest gravitational wave we've seen

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Boffin

Re: How small can you go?

Without a theory of quantum gravity we just can't say.

However many people (including me) regard things like singularities as a sign of the clear failure of a theory. Physicists (well, this physicist) have a clear notion that the world is a smooth place in a sense that can be made rigorous (but often is not): all our equations for modelling nature are differential equations, and they require things to be sufficiently differentiable – sufficiently smooth in other words. In fact I think it's possible to argue that things should not only be differentiable enough, but in fact analytic: everything should not only be infinitely differentiable but the approximation to it you can construct by differentiating it an infinite number of times (it's Taylor series) should converge to it in the neighbourhood of any point. The reason for thinking this – the reason I think it – is that I think these approximation techniques correspond to the measurements we can make.

And the singularities that we get in black holes are curvature singularities: they're failures of differentiability. Well, GR is a theory made of differential equations, so what it's doing is predicting its own failure as a theory, rescued only by the singularities,we hope, not being in anyone's past, but even this is not clearly true (and is false in some situations, which may be artificial though). And although the singularity theorems in GR don't say what sort of singularities they predict, I think everyone assumes they also will be curvature singularities. So in this sense GR is pretty clearly failing, and we need some theory which actually makes useful predictions: either a theory made of differential equations where things remain smooth enough, or some other kind of theory.

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Re: Talk about second class post!

A 100 millisecond message delivered after seven billion years? Even my local postal service does better.

If your post office does better they have a time machine! Tell me who they are because I want one too!

(This is meant to be light-hearted, I'm not sniping at you.)

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Boffin

Re: How small can you go?

It is true that singularities probably are not points. If there is angular momentum (which there always is, really) then the solution you get is Kerr, not Schwarzschild, and the Kerr solution has singularities which are rings.

I think almost no-one thinks singularities actually happen, of course, since GR will fail before that point.

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Boffin

Re: How small can you go?

Frame-dragging does happen, yes (or, to be fussy, GR predicts it, and there is sone experimental evidence I think). But it does not involve a change in G – obviously, since it's predicted by GR and G is a constant in GR. GPS satellites, while they do need to account for GR effects, don't need to account fir frame-dragging I believe, which is a very tiny effect around the Earth.

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Boffin

Re: Gravitational waves?

Yes, the Earth-Sun system does radiate: the total power is about 200W (compare this with the power output of the Sun which is about 3 times 10^26 W) There is no real chance of detecting such a tiny power output. The reason we need to look for very massive objects in very close orbits is because only in those cases does the power radiated become large enough to detect. That's because gravity is an absurdly weak force.

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Big Brother

Re: How small can you go?

Sure, yeh, don't go look. Nothing to see there. Gravitation Constant is really a constant, and you won't find it changes with spin, motion, or temperature and no reason to go look. No reason to question the core assumption that it is a constant.

Because we don't ever make predictions about the behaviour of gravitating systems based on G being a constant and then check them against what actually happens. And then develop theories, also assuming G is a constant (or, really, based on G being a fudge factor because we did not understand that the proper units of mass are seconds and actually not really existing at all), which accurately predict tiny discrepancies in the earlier theories. No, of course we don't do that: of course we haven't spend hundreds of fucking years testing these theories, which keep passing their tests, despite us wanting them to fail. No, we certainly don't do any of those things.

And of course someone posting anonymously in some comments section can see through this giant charade. And of course that person has to post anonymously because the scientific illuminati conspiracy suppress all dissent (can it be coincidence that Einstein, that arch prince of the AISB, was Jewish?). Of course you are cleverer than Newton, than Einstein, than Noether and Dirac.

Of course you are.

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Boffin

Re: Gravitational waves?

We have direct observations of gravitational waves, yes. The first such detection was 14th September 2015 although it was not announced until February 2016.

For quite a long time before that there have been good indirect detections of gravitational waves, notably in the Hulse-Taylor binary, but the first direct detection was GW150914.

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Boffin

Re: How small can you go?

i.e. I'm claiming that the gravitational constant, isn't a constant and that motion reduces its value.

You can claim what you like. That doesn't make it correct. In this case it very clearly does make you a crank.

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Boffin

Re: Not a "Fwoop"

Gravitational waves. BH-BH mergers are electromagnetically dark, because long before they merge the BHs will have eaten their accretion disks, if they had any. Or rather: they are expected to be electromagnetically dark, and observations seem to confirm that they are.

I don't know how close you can be (or how close something large can be) to something like this before the tidal stresses as the waves pass become bad however.

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's a 56-year-old satellite burning up in the sky spotted by sharp school kids

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Boffin

Re: Image source

Even better, the average speed of air molecules is rather over the speed of sound. All of this quiet air around you is actually rushing in all directions slightly faster than sound. (Which always amazes me until I realise that ... that's why the speed of sound is what it is.)

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Boffin

Compression

Well, I've said before that the quality of science reporting here is now very good, so thanks for getting this right! It is indeed compression – specifically adiabatic heating of the air in front of the object which heats it to extremely high temperatures.

Funny, that: Handy script for wiping directories is capable of wreaking havoc beyond a miscreant's wildest dreams

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Childcatcher

The brute force and ignorance approach

This didn't happen to me, but I know the person it happened to rather well. I'm not sure quite what went wrong, but the end result was that a script got run in the process of a backup which at some point did something like rm -rf /$DIR_TO_REMOVE and, of course, DIR_TO_REMOVE was not set, and the -u option was probably not thought of (and probably did not exist in the shell then).

This happened on what I am sure was an 11/750 running BSD 4.2 or 4.3 with one or more Fuji Eagles. These were ... quite slow machines. And the person concerned was in the machine room next to the machine, because that's where you had to be to change tapes during backups.

With great presence of mind they realised what they needed to do: pull the power from the machine or, more precisely, the disk, immediately (it may be that in fact all they did was toggle the write-protect switch on the drive, but I like to imagine the fantastic noise old machines made when they lost power and the drives spun down), so that most of the actual writes to the disk did not happen.

Of course the machine would not boot and there was then a saga involving working out how to cold-boot an 11/750, which I am fairly sure involved understanding how to get it to come up off its DECTape (TU58) drive and then getting enough of BSD to run (from tape? or a spare drive? not sure). But once that was done, of course almost everything was still there on the disk: except that (after suitable incantations of fsck and mucking around with clri & fsdb) a lot of files had lost their names and now lived in /lost+found in the way that important files usually do.

All this was done from a paper console. I have to confess that when I've used a paper console I've been glad that vi would fall-back to open mode (ie to ex): the person who did this despised, and still does despise, vi and will use nothing but ed (and, of course, emacs, I mean, everyone uses emacs, right?): this attitude is probably why they succeeded in putting the machine back together at all: it's rather unlikely that something as vast and overcomplicated as vi would have been present on whatever minimal Unix they got up to recover the system.

Zuck says Facebook made an 'operational mistake' in not taking down US militia page mid-protests. TBH the whole social network is a mistake

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Alien

Just quit

This is actually not that hard a problem to solve.

People work for Facebook. If you work for them, and you don't like what they're doing, then quit. If enough people do that then Facebook will either stop existing or its owners will realise that they need to fix the problem or they will stop existing.

Yes, quitting will mean you have to find another job or be poorer than you are now, or both. But not quitting means people will die: this should not be a hard decision to make, should it? And you have all these really desirable skills, after all: you know how to build hugely scalable computing systems, how to do all this fancy AI-big-data cleverness: you're not going to be out of a job for long, are you?

Of course, you won't quit. You might tell your friends how cross you are, or even, if you are really brave, speak up in a company meeting about how cross you are, but quitting? No, not that. After all it's not your fault. So, some people have died and more will, but you're just doing your job, just following orders. The people who are dying are, after all, not people you know: they're just little people, far away. Perhaps not even really people at all. Certainly your standard of living is more important than their lives. And you're just following orders.

(And yes: I did, although not from Facebook.)

Facebook apologizes to users, businesses for Apple’s monstrous efforts to protect its customers' privacy

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Re: Bad guy vs bad guy

Why do people say such non-sensical things?

Because other people say Apple are the same as Facebook, who work very, very hard to ensure that yes, you do have to give them your data.

(Note, nothing in this comment says that I think Apple are somehow good: it just says that they are not comparable to Facebook.)

Relying on plain-text email is a 'barrier to entry' for kernel development, says Linux Foundation board member

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Terminator

Re: No that's not how it works

So it says 'Some maintainers accept attachments' from which you deduce that 'It's perfectly OK to send patches as attachments'. Um.

And it also says:

Gmail (Web GUI)

Does not work for sending patches.

With a bunch of information about why, which amounts to 'it mangles the text you send'.

I'm done here: you could gracefully admit you are wrong, but clearly you're too up yourself to do that.

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Terminator

Re: No that's not how it works

Have you heard of email attachments? They're really cool. Been using them myself for 20+ years.

Surprisingly enough, yes, I have heard of them.

Proper patch submission etiquette - and not just for LKML - strongly recommends that patches be sent to the mailing list as attachments, not inline.

I see. So, hmm, there's this document, you see, and if you look at section 6 you will read this (mildly reformatted by me to preserve bold &c, text unaltered):

6) No MIME, no links, no compression, no attachments. Just plain text

Linus and other kernel developers need to be able to read and comment on the changes you are submitting. It is important for a kernel developer to be able to “quote” your changes, using standard e-mail tools, so that they may comment on specific portions of your code.

For this reason, all patches should be submitted by e-mail “inline”.

Warning Be wary of your editor’s word-wrap corrupting your patch, if you choose to cut-n-paste your patch.

Do not attach the patch as a MIME attachment, compressed or not. Many popular e-mail applications will not always transmit a MIME attachment as plain text, making it impossible to comment on your code. A MIME attachment also takes Linus a bit more time to process, decreasing the likelihood of your MIME-attached change being accepted.

Exception: If your mailer is mangling patches then someone may ask you to re-send them using MIME.

See Documentation/process/email-clients.rst for hints about configuring your e-mail client so that it sends your patches untouched.

So, well, I'm sure the people who wrote that don't have any say in how people are expected to submit Linux patches. Who is this 'Linus' guy anyway, and what's he doing telling us what do do?

I should feel sorry for you for making such a fool of yourself in public, but I don't, because, really, how hard was it to check what the guidelines actually were? Too hard, I suppose. Unlike Sarah Novotny, who clearly has read them.

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Black Helicopters

Re: "plain old ASCII text is a barrier to communications"

Trouble is, email is linear but the conversations happening in it aren't necessarily linear.

This in fact does seem to be something that lots of recent email clients have just fucked up. Email has (or should have) both references and in-reply-to fields (these date back to RFC 724 in 1977, which was successively obsoleted by RFC 733, RFC 822 (the one everyone knows), RFC 2822 & RFC 5322, which seems to be mostly current.

These two fields enable a mail application to know what message a message is replying to, and what other messages are relevant to it. Just using the first of these is sufficient to let the client reconstruct the tree of replies in a conversation (it needs to have the intermediate mail messages, or at least have kept a record of their message IDs and the IDs of the messages they're in reply to.

And that's what good mail applications used to do: they'd show you the tree of the thread and display messages at the appropriate point in the tree. Some of them let you even say 'I'm interested in this branch, but not that branch').

But for some reason a lot of current mail programs have lost that ability. I'm not sure why, because It's really annoying. Perhaps some still have it.

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Terminator

Re: "they don't know how to send a plain-text email"

I suspect you're mistaking the Linux kernel community with a bunch of whining pseudonymous trolls (and, entertainingly, pseudonymous trolls who largely don't understand what the problem is) in the comments to an article. I'm sure the Linux kernel community has its problems, but I'm equally sure they're not these problems.

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Alien

Re: So not just about plain text email

Exactly. Because the old hardware was so slow they'd spend a lot of time optimising everything into the ground. Languages which encouraged you to write safe code, with all their hairy type checks, automatic bounds checking and slow complicated compilers would not be used: instead everyone would use languages which were close to the hardware. No-one would add explicit checks because they make things really slow. Systems which automatically encrypted data at rest would be far to expensive to use, so all but the most critical data would be stored in plain.

It would be great.

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Pirate

Re: And he also couldn’t do it from Apple Mail.

Here's the thing: if you'd tried that, you'd know it does not work. Because 'plain text' means 'plain text with lines wrapped' which is just a little bit hostile to patches.

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Pirate

Re: No that's not how it works

GMail is perfectly capable of sending and receiving plain text email. No, you don't have to switch email clients to send plain text emails. You can do that from GMail's web interface [...]

Well, if you type git help format-patch you will read this:

GMail does not have any way to turn off line wrapping in the web interface, so it will mangle any emails that you send. You can however use "git send-email" and send your patches through the GMail SMTP server, or use any IMAP email client to connect to the google IMAP server and forward the emails through that.

So no, no it isn't perfectly capable of sending plain text unless your definition of 'plain text' includes ' wrapping the lines for you' which is often a bit unfriendly to code.

Entertainingly I had to manually remove line-breaks in the above to make it format properly here.

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Alien

As always, it's easy to sneer

I'm not a Linux kernel person. I'm also not a young person: the first mail client (which would not then have been called a 'client') I used was called 'mail', and for all of the 1990s and most of the 2000s I used rmail and then vm in emacs to read mail. But now I'm kind of over having to maintain my own email client (still more my own sendmail...), and since I use a mac, I use the Mac mail client which is mostly fine. And I've used that since, I think, 2006 or so. I use it in plain text mode, of course, except when I have to talk to someone where rich text is going to help. Other than an iCloud account (which I don't use really) I use a non-major email provider (not google or microsoft or ... in other words), talking POP3 so I'm never relying on someone else's system for long-term mail storage. And it's mostly fine (obviously not completely fine) and I have a bunch of rules set up to shunt mailing lists &c to the right place. And I have quite a lot of mail in this system: something like 10% of my home directory is email.

So, I tried the obvious thing: use git format-patch to make a patch, of well-behaved code (no long lines, no non-ASCII characters), pasted it into an email to myself, looked at the resulting email when it arrived. And of course it's got MIME noise in it (not much noise, but enough: mostly quoting of '=' I think).

So if I wanted to start doing Linux kernel stuff (I don't) then I'd need a way around that. I certainly can work out how to send patches via 'git format-patch' / git 'send-email' (and I've done that in the past), but I have to deal with the other end of it: is my normal mail client going to mangle patches on the way in? I don't know, actually. Does 'git am' defang MIME? I don't know. Perhaps I will need a completely new mail client which is better behaved. So now I either need to start using that and work out how to move all my mail into it, or I will need two mail clients with all the chaos that means. Perhaps I could solve that by having a special email address for LKML mail and a client which reads only that: that would probably work. But, well, it's a good thing I don't want to do this because the thought of sorting it all out is not fun.

I don't think a proprietary system is any kind of solution (so in particular I *don't* think that, say GitHub issues are any kind of answer). An email-based system is probably actually fine, but such a system should be easy to use with mail clients that people use, and not require them to set up some completely new client, which is only easy if you don't actually have any existing email.

UK govt reboots A Level exam results after computer-driven fiasco: Now teacher-predicted grades will be used after all

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Boffin

The problem

isn't that we're led by tories or socialists despite what people think: it's that we are led by idiots. Worse, we're led by idiots who don't know they are idiots.

Firefox maker Mozilla axes a quarter of its workforce, blames coronavirus, vows to 'develop new revenue streams'

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Re: You know,

Yes, you can bookmark it, and maybe that bookmark will still point at something in 5 years, and maybe the thing it points at will still be what it used to be. I think my oldest thing in Pocket is more than ten now.

Obviously Pocket will die at some point and all that will be lost, but it's made things better in the meantime.

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Alien

Re: This is actually a good thing

$3.5 million behind professors integrating ethics into computer science curriculum

Because it's not like the companies computer science graduates end up working for ever have ethics problems, is it? Still less is it the case that these CS graduates are complicit in this and perhaps ought to behave as if they at least knew what ethics was rather than treating it as someone else's problem. No, no, everything's just fine with the world: we don't need any of this annoying ethics.

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Pirate

Re: Sadness

I don't think Google are a competitor: Google have won. But when Firefox dies is there still a browser which is not driven by Google code? So Google should need to keep them in business for anti-monopoly reasons. Well, that would be true if we lived under governments which made even a pretence of dealing with monopolies any more.

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Alien

Re: This is actually a good thing

I think we do need to find better ways of funding them, although I don't know what they are. I would probably pay a subscription for Firefox, but I'm probably one of the few who would given that it kind of needs to remain freely available as well, so it's just a donation really.

Perhaps a more comfortable thing would be to start charging a subscription for some of the services around it. For instance I use lockwise on iOS as really my only password manager there (not quite: I have some bootstrap passwords I stash elsewhere) and it's fine for me. With a few more features (the ability to store things like notes around credentials and stuff that is not just username/password, perhaps OTP although I'd be uncomfortable of OTP in the same tool I use for passwords). I don't use FF on iOS. So they could, perhaps, keep FF free but start charging for the credential-syncing stuff & other things like that. I'd pay a subscription for that, for sure.

I do seriously wonder how they got to have 1,000 staff though: surely it can't take that many people to look after the things they do?

Finally there are the whole 'I used to use Firefox but now they've broken it' brigade. I was more affected by that than most people I suspect since I completely relied on extensions which died with whichever the apocalypse release was and will never (can never) come back. Well I wrote some shell scripts and makefiles which do what the extension did and it's not quite as good but very close, and more maintainable. The browser itself is just better than it was I think and certainly smells a lot more secure. But the continual low background whining from these people must be hurting Mozilla a fair bit: I guess the argument is that it's better that we all fall into the willing arms of Google than live with a browser which is, in fact, more secure & more modern looking than it was but has changed from the one they used as children. In my darker moments (which are all my moments) I wonder if Google is paying them to whine.

Q: What’s big, red and pulses UV light into the cosmos three times a night? A: Mars

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Boffin

Re: The Chances Of Anything Coming From Mars Are A Million To One He Said

p.s. Sadly, "The chance that extraterrestrial bacteria would be deadly to humans is zero. Not just very, very small. Zero."

Well whoever said that (I realise it wasn't you) wasn't thinking very hard at all, were they? It's completely trivial to show that the probability is greater than zero (keep generating random planets until you get an Earth clone, pick bubonic plague) and in real life the probabilities will be much much higher than that. The probability may not be high, but it certainly is not zero.

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