* Posts by Robert Long

130 publicly visible posts • joined 29 May 2007


Jeremy Clarkson tilts at windmills

Robert Long

What actually is the issue?

I drive at or below the speed limit; what's so hard about that?

Mono man accuses Mac Gtk+ fans of jeopardizing Linux desktop

Robert Long

More of the same

Just to add my voice to the "Linux desktop is a solved problem" crowd. I ditched Windows and switched almost 10 years ago and have been using Linux as my only desktop ever since. Windows gets booted every now and then to check that a website looks okay in older versions of IE.

I use WindowMaker. KDE is just a clone of the crappy Windows system, while Gnome is just new, fresh crap design of its own. However, it is worth pointing out that having all these options is an improvement over Windows or OSX, not a weakness.

Hackintosh maker gets legal greeting from Apple

Robert Long
Jobs Horns

@Mike Richards

"If Apple spend time and money developing an operating system why *shouldn't* they be able to dictate the conditions on how it's used?"

Because they don't own it. What the hell has the fact that someone spent time and money producing a (crap) consumer good got to do with what I or anyone else who PAYS for it does with it afterwards?! EVERYTHING you own was developed by someone spending time and money on it.

There was a time when it was thought reasonable that companies should have more power than their customers and the result was constant abuse of those customers. So, against a great deal of resistance, consumer protection laws were brought in and our world is a far better place for it.

Apple are stuck in the dark ages (in more way than one) and think that *they* still own *your* property after it leaves the shop. They can stick that idea, and their crappy unreliable over-priced tacky hardware where the sun doesn't shine.

File system killer leads police to wife's bones

Robert Long

@ thombat

Since you're quoting me ("The wife's lover admits to mass murder but without a body the husband is convicted of 1st degree murder?! If that's not reasonable doubt I don't know what the f*ck is."), I'd just like to say that I was right: there was reasonable doubt then. There isn't now. But the truth doesn't work retro-actively. Sorry.

Without even a body, and with a *confessed* mass murderer known to have been sleeping with the alleged victim, any jury that convicted had a screw loose. The fact that the jury got lucky isn't a defense for their actions or the police's. What if they'd been wrong? How long would it have taken to get Reisner out of gaol again? 10 years? 20? Ever? Or does it not matter if you bang up the occassional innocent if it means you can get a quick conviction?

Top Tory resigns on principle over 42 days bill

Robert Long

Ulster Unionists

Why does everyone pick on the DUP when there were 306 other scumbags inthe same lobby as them, the vast majority of them Labour MPs? Why does the 9 at one end of the line get all the flak and the 306 in front get by on "oh, well, we knew THEY'D sell the country down the river"?

Robert Long

Tory? Principles? What?

I have nothing coherent to say.

Apple under the gun to master the iPhone's 'second album'

Robert Long

Poser's delight

You lot can lug around a glass brick all you like. I want a phone that weighs about the same as my pen, takes and makes phone calls and charges people who send me text messages £10 a time and deposits it in my pay-as-you-go account.

Like the iPod, the iPhone interface is designed for one purpose only: to force the user to take the damn thing out and show it off as much as possible. Usability came a long way down the priority list, which is fine because Apple fanatics have never cared much about it.

Painting by numbers: NASA's peculiar thermometer

Robert Long

@David Robinson

You have no idea how the laws of thermodynamics work. You also don't appear to even understand buoyancy. You also seem unaware of just how many researchers were scoffed at and threatened with losing their positions for putting forward the evidence for global-warming. Far from being a massive conspiracy to prevent anyone talking about the alternative theories, this is a classic example of an old guard who refused to listen to alternative theories being overwhelmed and discredited by a mountain of evidence that they were eventually (after 100 years) buried under.

Robert Long

Reality trumps "facts"

Sea levels have risen enough to be visible over the course of 10 years in my home town, and the same has happened all over the world because the seas are expanding in the heat. The cold seasons are shorter that ever. Insects are moving into new areas where they could not survive. Increated precipitation on Antarctica is thickening the ice, partly with water lost from the (floating) artic cap, just as one would expect. I don't need Al Gore or anyone else to interpret these entrails for me.

If your data says that there's no global warming, then I can assure you that your data is - must be - wrong, although it's probably more likely that you don't understand the data.

Don't tell me the sky is green and yellow stripes when I can see it's blue for myself.

NHS IT loses key contractor

Robert Long

Impossible job

If this job was ever completed it would be the biggest IT project brought to a conclusion in the history of the world. It was never going to happen. Putting together a specification is probably impossible, let alone fulfilling that spec.

American auto dealer offers free handguns

Robert Long

Guns 'n' God

If you have a gun, you're not a Christian, end of topic. The founder (you know, that Christ guy) specifically outlawed violence as a method of solving any problem, including very specifically violence itself.

Being a Christian means, amongst other things: not owning guns or other weapons, not being in the military, not using violence in any way against your enemies, forgiving those who attack you. Because, in the end, they're going to Hell and the objective here is not to let them take you with them.

Amazing how a nation so convinced of its Christian values has so few of them.

Yahoo! vs Icahn, Yahoo! blinks first

Robert Long
Paris Hilton

It's jam today or...well, that's it

Yahoo is worthless. If they can't flog it off now it will sink without trace and anyone with stock will lose everything. On the other hand, Yahoo is worthless. If anyone buys it now they'll lose everything they pay for it. MS would have to be mad to throw any money at them. It's not even a good brand name.

The economy: A big Arab did it and ran away, claims PM

Robert Long


"Bafflingly they want me to pay for it, via taxation, effectively paying 20% more - as the cost of capital via taxation. When I don't give a shit about the sodding things."

Well, then, take a hike. No one's stopping you - there's plenty of ports and airports you can use. If you want to live on a desert island where you don't have to pay anyone for anything you don't want done then fine. Wasters like you are only a drag on the rest of us anyway.

While you're leaving, do be careful not to drive on more road than your lifetime's road tax would cover, by the way. You wouldn't want to compromise your pinciples and participate in society, would you? That should get you about half a mile towards the airport; you can walk the rest of the way so long as you don't use any footpath the rest of us paid for.


Robert Long

Market forces

The hand of the markets is invisible for the simple reason that it does not exist.

Every company that ever was incorporated wants only one goal: a monopoly. Usefully, for them, that's unavoidable. Of course, the difficult part for any individual company is to spot the exact moment when they go from having a chance at being the one that could get to that position to being one of the companies that gets squeezed out. If you can see that moment coming you can sell up to your richest competitor and scarper before they realise they don't need what you've got (see Yahoo and Microsoft for an example of this sort of manoeuvring).

All free markets must fall into the singlarity that is monopoly. All free markets ultimately fail in the function we want of them: providing services and goods at a price which optimises what society as a whole can create with the given amount of work units available. Of course, some economists refuse to recognise even the existance of society. They tend to be the most useless ones (out of a fairly useless bunch) and are largely responsible for the tediously obvious cycles of boom and bust we go through decade after decade.

Markets need regulated. Humans have tried for thousands of years to do without regulation from time to time, but it has never worked and never will. The failure of over regulation is used as the justification for this stupidity, but it's not a binary issue; you have to have some regulation, you don't have to have total regulation and control.

Similarly, some things MUST be nationalised: water, electricity, health, transport, defense. These things are vital to the nation and can not be left in the hands of the sort of drug-swilling morons who represent the cream of The City's financial elite.

We see it in the Post Office: we are told that loss-making branches have to be closed. Here's a shock news item for all the free-market retards out there: we don't HAVE post offices to make a profit, we have them to provide a service. This sort of idiotic "privitise everything and let the market sort it out" fantasy is simply ruining the country. I don't drive around in my car and then scrap it because I've not made a profit on it; I need it's functionality just as the country needs the PO's functionality and needs a decent railway system. Private companies don't need these things - they just need profit. In a "free" market the nation loses out every time when its needs do not line up with the City's needs - which is almost always.

We need a lot less philosophical economics nailed to dreamland ideals and more goddamned practical thinking about what WORKS.

Robert Long

Blind criticising the blind

Brown is indeed talking crap, but so is anyone who can seriously say that "demand equals supply". This simply is gibberish. I can measure supply; I can put units to it. Demand? Well, that's subjective.

Economics is an art and not a science or a branch of mathematics, no matter what it's fans claim, for precisely this reason. If you can't measure demand then all your calculations are based on faith. Which is why economics is so much like religion.

To go back to oil: demand for oil is like demand for health: infinate. How much oil would we like? All of it. We'd like to jump in our cars and drive anywhere for free. In what way is the current supply meeting that demand? In what way is it equal? It's a nonsense statement.

Demand for oil, whatever it is measured in, is balanced against our demand for other things (sometimes boosted by it, as in our desire to see Granny in America before she snuffs it and leaves everything to the local cat home because we never visited). We chose to pay what it is worth to US, thereby giving up other things we could have bought with that money. Again, this is a subjective thing and totally incapable of being scrutinised by mathematical formulae.

Brown was a major player in this mess, and we've STILL not seen all the damage. There's still tens, perhaps hundreds, of billions of off-sheet debt in the PFI system that's going to hit the economy like a runaway train sometime in the next 5-10 years.

Russell T Davies bows out of Doctor Who

Robert Long

Girl in the Fireplace

Girl in the Fireplace gets overlooked because of how scary Blink was, but for me it is the best episode of Dr Who in the programme's history. It was a Moffat one too.

I do worry, however, as to whether being a great script writer makes someone a great script editor. I guess we'll find out.

W3C 'clarifies' HTML 5 v XHTML

Robert Long


XML was badly designed garbage; XHTML is badly designed garbage. Ditch them both.

MoD begins full UFO-files public release

Robert Long
Thumb Up


...on the most accurate use of the word "bumf" I've seen in years.

Wikipedia goes to court to defend defamation immunity

Robert Long
Paris Hilton

If only it were that simple

"We provide a platform through Wikipedia for smart citizens to give their knowledge back to a larger culture,"

And, of course dumb citizens too. Even Paris can get someone to put an edit in for her.

What did happen to all those London mayoral votes?

Robert Long

Paper trail is not for th evoter

If you give voters anything which records who they voted for then you have destroyed the election by allowing those who threaten or buy voters to check that they did what they were told to do.

We see it every day when MPs walk through the lobbies in parliament - open voting means corrupt voting.

Paper trails are there for recounts if something goes wrong with the electronic system, not to take home to the landlord.

Sky plays the victim over Ofcom pay TV rights probe

Robert Long

No Representation Without Taxation!

Murdoch can start paying his taxes; until then I don't give a fuck what he thinks about how anything is run in this country.

Opera Dragonfly emerges from pupa

Robert Long


I've had this loaded for about a week and didn't know!

Linux guru Hans Reiser convicted of first-degree murder

Robert Long


The wife's lover admits to mass murder but without a body the husband is convicted of 1st degree murder?! If that's not reasonable doubt I don't know what the f*ck is.

Pathetic, even if he did do it.

BBC iPlayer continues platform sluttiness with Virgin Media launch

Robert Long

Screw Sky

Murdoch can start talking when he starts paying his taxes. Why do we have to fork out to support Sky TV even when we don't watch it? At least with the Beeb you can simply not have a telly and not have to pay.

Build a 14.5 watt data center in a shoebox

Robert Long


"This is the box that fatgadget are selling for USD. 500."

Which one is?

"But once you've bought one, what then? It won't run windows, solaris, hp-ux or any other other commercial operating system (I said commercial, for the linux boys & girls)."

Plenty of commercial Linux systems available since, oh, 1995 or so.

"if you do want to run Linux applications, you'll have to port them to it's PPC architecture"

By compiling them. Not very hard.

"and squeeze them into the 128MB of memory."

That's plenty for a data server.

"Once there, then what?

These things can't interact with the outside world - except through the spare ethernet port "

Well, since they're intended for ethernet networks, that appears reasonable.

"- no digital I-O, no serial/parallel ports - not even a USB."

Ie, no pointless ports the target market doesn't want.

"If you want to do real work in an embedded environment, buy a TINI or a dedicated embedded system."

Fine. Did you especially want to talk about embedded systems? Perhaps posting to an article about embedded systems would be a good idea; this is about data servers.

"If you are thinking of gettig one of these, save your money. Buy a housebrick and paint it white. it'll have the same functionality, be cheaper and use less power. ................ summary: pointless"

Summary: Pete has no idea what he's talking about.

BBC defends iPlayer against Murdoch Jr's 'anti-competitive' claims

Robert Long

No representation without taxation

When Sky starts paying tax in the UK they can have a say in how things are run.

In the meantime, I pay my TV licence and I hope and expect that the BBC will use that to crush their competitors by producing better quality programmes and supporting them with interesting and useful ancillary services. I'm not paying this money so that the Beeb can carefully create slightly second-class programmes so as not to "compete" with anybody, let alone a bunch of crooked wankers like the Murdochs.

Judge muzzles Sequoia e-voting attack dogs

Robert Long

Vote hacking

Electronic voting will always be easier to rig than paper. It's just a question of manpower. One hacker (or corrupt progammer at the factory) can potentially control an entire election whereas vote stuffing and all the other things you can do to a paper election need people to physically do it. The more people you have the more chance of a leak or just a mistake which revels the conspiracy.

Electronic voting is a stupid idea done badly.

Apple MacBook Air Early 2008

Robert Long


"If I didn't need FireWire and more disk for what I do then the Air would be ideal for my purposes."

If this computer did what I needed then it would be perfect. Gee, you don't say! If my car could get me laid it would be the perfect chick-magnet. If I was rich I would find it easier to pay my electricity bill.

As to Jon Green: I see my processor running at 200% (2 cores) while compiling and encoding video every day, so I don't know what you're thinking of when you say "it's very rare ... that CPU power actually matters". FSB is just another link in the chain of performance, it's still not the limiting factor for every, or most, tasks.

The Air is just another overpriced toy for overaged children to brag about in the corporate playground; it is of no interest to anyone who actually needs to use a computer on the go.

Windows better off closed, says Microsoft

Robert Long
Paris Hilton

And, of course

If it were opened we would NEVER EVER find any stolen code in there. MS would NEVER allow code from a GPLed project to ever find its way into their super-secret source code.

Apple's Time Capsule: is its HDD really 'server grade'?

Robert Long


I think this is pretty crap but let's not go nuts: it's not "a backup solution with one drive". Since it's external there's two drives involved and the chances of both yourinternal and the external going down at the same time are remote for most Mac users who don't tend to do really heavy work anyway.

Major Linux security glitch lets hackers in at Claranet

Robert Long

Who the hell's waiting for a fix?

This was a one-liner. I did it myself and re-compiled in less than fifteen minutes from the exploit becoming known to me a few days ago.

THAT's why I use open-source. Everything goes wrong sometimes, but I can fix my system myself without having to wait.

Legal, major label DRM-free MP3s hit UK (at last)

Robert Long

AAC? Catch a grip

Where's the OGGs?

Spielberg quits as Beijing Olympics advisor

Robert Long

@Olly (again)

"Whether we like it or not China is important in the world and the option of ostracising her is not there."

Part of the reason that option is not available is there is that those who would support that action (including me, obviously) have little power to affect our own governments, and a part of the reason for THAT is the public relations machine which works day and night to tell people not to worry about our new friend's tendency to beat the hell out of people who just want paid for the work they do.

The Olympics is part of China's propaganda exercise, sure, but it is more importantly the tool of our own government's efforts to get us to accept slavery-derived cheap goods without objecting.

Robert Long


" After all the whole point of the Olympic games is to try to rise above the usual petty squabbling over who's right or who's the most evil and try to celebrate part of humanity at it's best."

No, it's not. The whole point of the Olympic games is to make a lot of money for the sponsors, set the top athletes up to make lots of money from sponsorship, make the host nation a lot of money from tourism, and bolster trade links. There is also a darker side where it is seen as the ultimate test of "supplements" which can't be detected; success at the Olympic can make a lot of money for various back-street pharmacists.

The Olympics is a purely commercial event in exactly the same way as Disneyland or a plane ticket. It also, because of the practice of moving it every time, is a political statement of acceptance and approval by the Olympic committee.

"But at it's core, the Olympics is a competition about finding out who's the fastest, the strongest or the most accurate, no more, no less."

How is life in the 19th century?

If it was a real competition, then it would be run in a totally different way. For example, equipment would be standardised and people would not have to sign 32-page contracts to enter it. In fact, there is no real effort made towards a fair judgement of who's the best athlete in even the running events let alone joke events like cycling where cheating is so normal it's not even against the rules anymore (it's only a matter of time before someone turns up with a motorbike and is allowed in).

It is about money and nothing else at all.

Robert Long


"And the Chinese have been careful to separate politics from the games of the Olympics."

Can't be done. China is a murderous, brutal, and deeply evil regime. Sending a team there is a sign of significant support for that regime. No matter what crimes western countries have commited that doesn't let China off the hook. No athlete going to the Chinese "Olympics" is representing my country as far as I'm concerned; they can all stay in China if they like it so much.

Scottish government drafts Cat Welfare Code

Robert Long

Cats and birds

We have a multitude of cats in our cul-de-sac and an enormous number and variety of birds too. Pidgeon-racers (AKA 'tedious toss-pots') like to put about the myth that cats and wildlife can't co-exist, but it's not true.

Boffin says Astronomical Unit should be binned

Robert Long


I was with him until that last part. What the hell's wrong with furlongs?

Original scientific definition of the metre as dictated by Napoleon to his Minister for Science:

"Give me a rationale for a measurement close enough to the yard as to make no real inconvenience for people but slightly bigger than the English one."

Ton-up electric Reliant Robin offered for '09

Robert Long

Oh, the naivety!

"No type of vehicle is inherently dangerous, or it wouldn't be road legal."

Yes, because our MPs would all vote to ban something that they all use if it was really dangerous! Ho ho ho.

More remote workers squatting next door's broadband

Robert Long

Call me an old socialist but..

Frankly, if I can set outsiders to have a lower priority than my own traffic then I'm happy for them to use my spare bandwidth. Why not?

EU to ban the patio heaters that ate the planet. Not.

Robert Long

That's not a problem, John

"When it comes to patio heaters, the MEPs' report has two problems. First, they are making a moral judgement about the use of external heaters."

Actually, that's not a problem. If laws were always made and enforced on the basis of moral judgment I think we'd all be living in a much better world. Certainly, having them based on amoral judgments isn't panning out too well, is it?

Patio heaters are a waste and are a bad thing. You can dance around the figures all you want but there is no legitimate reason to not compare a patio heater with extra layers of clothing, at which point their inefficiency becomes very clear indeed. They are a really crap way to keep people warm.

Parent power pulls Woolworth's 'Lolita' kiddies' bed

Robert Long
IT Angle

Mixed feelings

On the one hand, Woolies should have known better and it IS a fairly stupid name for a range of children's beds. But on the other hand, it is just fairly stupid and anyone who starts a campaign about something so utterly trivial needs:

a) To have their right to vote removed until they can demonstrate a sense of proportion, and

b) To have their children taken off them until they can show that they are capable of coping with the real world in a sensible manner.

Apple on the lookout for one million unlocked iPhones

Robert Long
Paris Hilton

Cheap phones

I'm still using my Siemens A55 which cost 20 quid. The reason I'm still using it is that I've not seen anything better at any price. Anyone that pays three figures for a phone is a retard.

Experience overcomes Microsoft's broken promises

Robert Long

Been there, done that

I did this years ago in order to analyse house sales and estate agent market shares. We used MySQL and a combination of Perl (for off-line) and PHP (for on-line). I think I still have the database we put together of all the town and postcode locations in the UK in National Grid format. There is a formual to convert to Lat/Long, although it is complex but then it would only need to be run once. Might take 3 seconds or so!

Query results were cached so that 1996 hardware didn't have to sweat too hard digging up answers to "How many estate agents are there within an x-mile radius of this postcode?" for popular areas, but the reality was that even ten years ago a £500 machine could answer such questions in real-time with a bit of careful programming.

But then, Micky-Mouse CS degrees and PHBs have pretty well killed off careful programming and now we're all expected to get excited about the possibility of the computing gods at MS (!) handing down something that was previously developed in a fairly lazy week by a single programmer using free tools.

High Court approves software patents

Robert Long

High Court Duffers

The High Court is the final resting place of old fools unable to cope with the pressures of a real court. HC judges are inept, incompetant, and largely out of touch with any social needs not covered by Oliver Twist.

So, why exactly are buffoons like this old fart allowed to make up laws as they go along?

Autothrottle problems suspected in Heathrow 777 crash

Robert Long

Not sure about that

The autothrottle was overridden manually and the engines still didn't pick up their output so I'm not sure how likely that sounds. I personally suspect a simple software bug. Sadly, writing software to control an aeroplane is difficult. Very difficult. Studies, and common sense, show that different programmers presented with the same very difficult task tend to make the same errors, so in cases like this it's entirely plausable that three teams of programmers all made the same mistake even though they worked independantly and produced supposedly redundant systems.

Having watched an A320 doing loops over Italy, I don't think I'd ever get into a fly-by-wire aircraft again.

Apple cripples Sun's open source jewel

Robert Long

It's business

Appe don't have much of a business beyond content provision and their hardware more and more reflects that. A modern Mac is just a jukebox; if you want a computer look elsewhere.

Anyway, as such, Jobs is only interested in sucking up to the wholesellers of that content and the end user can take it up the jacksie like a good little poor person. Come back when you've got a few billion in the bank and Steve will listen to your complaints.

Microsoft tries to CTRL-W WordPerfect lawsuit again

Robert Long

For God's sake

Just use TeX and output to PDF.

Seriously, TeX handles tables better than Word. And page breaks. Line breaks too, come to that. And it's easier to handle stylesheets in TeX and running headers are much more flexible and useful while indexes and cross referencing are easier. And so on... Plus it works in about 32K of RAM on every platform known to Man, and you can edit in text mode over a ssh connection on a modem if you have to. And, like I say, full PDF output has been available for at least a decade.

And you say you're still using Word? Get real!

Jobs: Blu-ray wins HD format war then loses to downloads

Robert Long

Oh, yeah?

Let's all take lessons from a purveyor of plastic tat why don't we?

What's the penetration of broadband that's fast enough to download HD movies "instantly"? I make it roughly 0%. Even if you're prepared to wait for a few hours to be able to watch your movie of an evening the coverage of even that level of broadband is still a tiny minority of homes.

Steve's confused the fantasy land in his head with the real world again; come back in 10 years.

Boffins: Antimatter comes from black holes, neutron stars

Robert Long

Dark matter

Dark matter is this generation of astronomers' Vulcan and, like Vulcan, it explains the observed results very nicely and can't be detected. And like Vulcan, it can't be detected because ain't there. In a third parallel with Vulcan, I'd bet the real reason comes from relativity or some other modification to gravitational theory.

Robert Long
Paris Hilton

Static charge?

Since all black holes rotate and the interstellar medium has material in it (mostly hydrogen), is there a possibility that a static charge builds up around the black hole by simple friction? Would that account for -ve particles being sucked in in preference to +ve?