* Posts by Kubla Cant

2570 posts • joined 28 Jun 2010

We don't need maintenance this often, surely? Pull it. Oh dear, the system's down

Kubla Cant Silver badge

Re: An ex employer did that too.

Everybody complaining about conflicting requirements should count themselves lucky. Most of the projects I've worked on lately have almost no requirements except the release date.

When the software goes into QA with inadequate requirements, the testers blame the developer for not refusing to start coding until they're clarified.

Then when it gets into UAT with two days to go before release, everybody blames the developer if the result doesn't exactly match their private wet dreams.

Coding unit tests is boring. Wouldn't it be cool if an AI could do it for you? That's where Diffblue comes in

Kubla Cant Silver badge

It's supposed to be Test Driven Development. The tests are created first and constitute a template for the solution. But I've yet to see this approach used in real life.

One of the most irksome chores is when you modify some legacy code and the build fails because it only has 10% test coverage. That 10% is the bit you've worked on, but you now own the whole damn thing and you're going to spend hours writing tests to cover the rest. I can see that this utility would be valuable in this situation, but I'm unsure whether that's a good thing.

Space. The final frontier. These are the voyages of 'Advanced Night Repair' skin cream helping NASA to commercialise space

Kubla Cant Silver badge

Slathering not allowed

Apparently the Estée Lauder gloop won’t be used on the ISS. They have very select personal hygiene products that have been tested and approved to ensure they don’t mess up the hardware.

Kubla Cant Silver badge

Re: Time to hit the retros

Its the disposable income of the gullible that is ultimately paying for the trip.

While I'd prefer the commercialisation to be a high-tech thing, if NASA can reduce their costs through sponsorship, I can only see a problem if it starts interrupting/interfering with the space work.

Sadly, it's actually the disposable income of NASA that is bankrolling this absurd venture.

According to New Scientist (paywalled, unfortunately), NASA is paying more than $70,000 to ship each kilogram of supplies to the ISS, but is charging $10,000/kg for commercial payloads like this. So it's a loss-leader to the tune of $60,000/kg.

The other commercial payload planned is "luxury goods and memorabilia" such as a “Flown to the ISS” sticker for €199, a bookmark for €299 or a postcard featuring a classic NASA photo for €499. I don't know which is the most ludicrous.

Behold the Bloo Screen of Death: Bathroom borkage stops spray play

Kubla Cant Silver badge

Re: While I think about it...

Stanley Holloway's version is the classic.

Kubla Cant Silver badge

the facilities in a Southport pub, near Blackpool

Are there many people who don't know where Southport is, but know where Blackpool is?

He was a skater boy. We said, 'see you later, boy' – and the VAX machine mysteriously began to work as intended

Kubla Cant Silver badge

Re: I remember a very similar story ...

When the big Tesco supermarket at Bar Hill near Cambridge first opened they had staff on rollerblades to do price checks. Don't know why they stopped - accidents, perhaps, or difficulty recruiting skaters?

As we stand on the precipice of science fiction into science fact, people say: Hell yeah, I want to augment my eyesight!

Kubla Cant Silver badge

Re: "testing the limits of what's possible"

There are lab experiments trying to allow control of a mouse via thought, but I haven't heard that they're ready for market yet

I wondered why you would want to control a mouse by thought. It's not like it's a big enough animal to do anything useful for you. In my house they're mostly controlled by mousetraps.

Then I realised that you might mean a computer mouse. I still can't see any advantage. It would be far more useful to cut out the intermediary and control the screen cursor by thought.

Family wrongly accused of uploading pedo material to Facebook – after US-EU date confusion in IP address log

Kubla Cant Silver badge

Re: Right

Most languages store dates as objects. The string problem arises when they have to interact with humans.

Kubla Cant Silver badge

Re: I have to admit

In the very early days of visual studio, the inbuilt date conversion functions had a habit of borking dates

Aaargh! I'd forgotten about that. It wasn't just Visual Studio. The MS run-time library had a function (cdate IIRC) that converted strings to dates. But it ignored the locale and based the conversion on a best-guess - if the leading digits were between 1 and 12, it assumed a US date, otherwise a European date, so "12-01-2000" was the beginning of December, but "13-01-2000" was mid-January.

VB6 silently used this function if you passed a variant or string where a date parameter was expected. Given the indiscipline of VB6 programmers, and the lack of decent analysis tools, it was impossible to eradicate from the code base. In the end I had to create something that patched the function when the run-time was in memory. Ugh!

Kubla Cant Silver badge


If we're going to use a sensible coarse->fine order for dates and addresses, we should go the whole hog and use last->first for personal names.

Why does this make me think of RPN?

Something to look forward to: Being told your child or parent was radicalized by an AI bot into believing a bonkers antisemitic conspiracy theory

Kubla Cant Silver badge


Computers have already put filing clerks, bank tellers at al out of their jobs. Now it's the turn of bigots.

I can't help wondering who is supposed to benefit from a machine that can generate convincing* hate-speech. It's not exactly a scarce resource, and there's no evidence that the human generators are short of time or motivation.

*for small values of convince

The Honor MagicBook Pro looks nice, runs like a dream, and isn't too expensive either. What more could you want?

Kubla Cant Silver badge

Re: And the software?

In my limited experience, you can install Linux on anything. I suspect that you may forego some features present in an OEM Windows build, such as:

  • optimizations that extend battery life
  • switching between a discrete graphics processor and a lower-powered on-chip one
  • fingerprint recognition

Kubla Cant Silver badge

Re: Decimated

You're correct, meaning is use. Latin roots don't determine modern sense - nobody expects a dilapidated garden shed to have stones falling off it.

The problem is that deci isn't just a random Latin root, but a prefix with a mathematical meaning. A made-up unit such as a decihelen is clearly the level of beauty required to launch 100 ships.

So decimate will always cause cognitive dissonance, not least because its meaning has been inverted. Best to avoid it altogether and use a synonym.

China’s UK embassy calls for probe into 'hack of Ambassador’s Twitter account'

Kubla Cant Silver badge

Authoritarian regimes always issue statements that sound like an old-fashioned Headmaster - lots of expressions like "despicable", "provocation", "hooliganism".

Salon told to change ad looking for 'happy' stylist because it 'discriminated against unhappy people'

Kubla Cant Silver badge

They would place ads saying "inept department looking for incompetent people", and then censure themselves for discriminating against the competent.

Anyone else noticed that the top countries for broadband speeds are well-known tax havens? No? Just us then?

Kubla Cant Silver badge

Re: Forex, speed of connection etc

Yes, latency. Read the first chapter of Flash Boys by Michael Lewis, where the cost of laying a dead-straight dedicated fibre link from the Chicago Mercantile Exchange to the Nasdaq in New Jersey is justified by a saving of a couple of milliseconds.

You *bang* will never *smash* humiliate me *whack* in front of *clang* the teen computer whizz *crunch* EVER AGAIN

Kubla Cant Silver badge

Type L and Type F

What is it with power outlets in mainland Europe? There seems to be some kind of continent-wide standard, but the basis of that standard is "whatever kind of plug you have won't fit". I've spent a fortune on travel adaptors and hours crawling round hotel rooms looking for an outlet that fits my adaptor. And they seem to run high-power appliances off things that you'd be reluctant to connect a night-light to.

Physical locks are less hackable than digital locks, right? Maybe not: Boffins break in with a microphone

Kubla Cant Silver badge

Smart doorbell

When I read the quote about smart doorbells I wondered why a doorbell, smart or otherwise, would have a key. Then I guessed he was suggesting that you might hack a smart doorbell to pick up the key clicks from the lock. Now I wonder why a doorbell, smart or otherwise, would have a microphone. Do you have to say something to the doorbell to make it ring? Why?

NHS tests COVID-19 contact-tracing app that may actually work properly – EU neighbors lent a helping hand

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Re: Government cannot procure

Don't worry, Dido Harding's in charge. What can possibly go wrong?

Microsoft spills beans on release, pricing for folding fancyphone: Start your Surface Duo engines now

Kubla Cant Silver badge

Why would anyone trust Microsoft to supply a phone?

Some years ago Mrs Cant bought a NokiaMicrosoft phone running Windows. She loved it, but there were never any software updates, then Microsoft decided it wasn't in the phone business, sold the company, and discontinued the operating system. She kept on using it until the accumulated faults made it impossible, at which point we bought a Samsung.

I see no reason to repeat this experience.

You had one job... Just two lines of code, and now the customer's Inventory Master File has bitten the biscuit

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Re: Defensive Coding

AKA Yoda Conditions. I worked in a place where they were mandated, despite the fact that "if (a = 1)" causes an error in Java.

Kubla Cant Silver badge

The perils of being helpful

There was a time when I'd see a user laboriously working through a repetitive bulk update using a screen form and say "We can save you hours of work by doing that as a ${whatever} script".

I've since learned to be more circumspect. If all goes well, you'll earn some gratitude, but you'll have to do it again every time. If the update turns out to be a lot more complicated than the user's explanation of it, you may be in for a long night. And if something goes wrong because you make a mistake, you'll carry the burden of guilt to your grave.

Kubla Cant Silver badge

Re: 10 format c: /y

cmd files do weird shit if you change their code while theyre running

It's a long time since I had to do this, but you used to be able to change stuff as long as it was past the command currently being executed, as cmd just read the file sequentially.

Co-inventor of the computer mouse, William English, dies

Kubla Cant Silver badge

plurals like mice and lice (as opposed to houses) are for things of which there are too many to count - they are innumerable

Really? Don't you know how many feet you have?

I believe these apophonic plurals are simply words derived from the Old English consonant declension.

'I'm telling you, I haven't got an iPad!' – Sent from my iPad

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a reader the Regomiser has decided to call "James"

One day, it will output the name "Reg", and that will be the end of the world.

Chinese ambassador to UK threatens to withdraw Huawei, £3bn investment if comms giant banned from building 5G

Kubla Cant Silver badge

Re: Not the optics Huawei needs right now

Six downvotes to this utterly uncontentious post. Three and two to the replies that agree with it.

Mr Ambassador, you are spoiling us with your Ferrero Rochers mouse clicks.

If you can read this, your Windows 10 2004 PC really is connected to the internet no matter what the OS claims

Kubla Cant Silver badge


Exactly when did they start thinking about QA?

You've think you've heard it all about automation in technology? Get a load of this robot that plugs in cables

Kubla Cant Silver badge

Re: It's been done

Dexterous robot gets to grips with folding clothes

By Ken Macdonald BBC Scotland Science Correspondent

Ken Macdonald (or possibly his colleague who subbed the story) should have a word with the BBC Scotland Spelling Correspondent. The robot is repeatedly referred to in the story as "Dextrous Blue".

Linux kernel coders propose inclusive terminology coding guidelines, note: 'Arguments about why people should not be offended do not scale'

Kubla Cant Silver badge

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

A very good film, but a title so stupid that it can only have been invented by somebody who couldn't be bothered to read the books.

"Master and Commander" isn't a prolix way of describing the man in charge, it was a junior rank for captains of relatively small warships. That's what Aubrey was in the first book, set in the Mediterranean. In the second book he is promoted to Post Captain, and that is his rank during the events shown in the film.

Kubla Cant Silver badge

Re: Completely missing the point

@fwadman How dare you suggest that the members of online coding communities may lack personal hygiene, have bad teeth, dodgy haircuts and spotty skin, or be too short, too fat, too weak?

Kubla Cant Silver badge

Re: Blacklist?

Charles II's blacklist was probably so-called because of the long association of black with death and mourning, which seems to date back to ancient Rome, where a dark-coloured toga pulla was worn.

Not sure about the Greek voting system, though. I thought they used potsherds. The use of white and black balls in elections dates from the 18th century.

Kubla Cant Silver badge

Re: Newspeak

"Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent." Wittgenstein

Kubla Cant Silver badge

Re: I'll just leave this here

Actually, the name of "Waterloo" station is quite offensive to the French

But nobody could possibly be offended by Gare d'Austerlitz.

Kubla Cant Silver badge

Re: Loaded words replaced by euphemisms

Which English language?

In the era of Viking raids, the language used by the inhabitants of what is now England was Anglo-Saxon, commonly known as Old English. That language didn't derive much from Brythonic and Latin, so presumably the mythical Hengist and Horsa brought English with them.

I have no idea whether the Anglo-Saxon of the incomers already used black and white figuratively, or whether they were familiar with black people. In view of the fact that there seems to be some dispute about where they came from, I doubt that anyone else has.

Analogue radio given 10-year stay of execution as the UK U-turns on DAB digital future

Kubla Cant Silver badge

Re: What a surpirse. It's muppetry.

The Government missed the DAB boat 20 years ago by allowing new cars to still have analog receivers fitted

Since when has choice of in-car entertainment been a matter for the Government? Perhaps they should have banned cassettes when CD became available?

They should definitely have banned 4-track cartridges out of hand.

Languishing lodash library loophole finally fitted for a fix: It's only taken since October to address security bug

Kubla Cant Silver badge

Most people probably use Lodash to try to reduce the uncertainties of writing JavaScript*.

As pointed out here you can do without Lodash. But in many cases the native ES5/ES6 code is more verbose or less transparent than the Lodash alternative. Your therefore have the choice of inlining the native code everywhere, which lays up technical debt for the inevitable day when a defect is discovered in it, or writing your own library, which is really just dogfooding Lodash.

* Probably because I'm an old fart who learned coding on less high-spirited languages, I find JavaScript a constant source of anxiety, even though I spend a lot of time on it these days. It's bizarre they way it puts Tony Hoare's billion-dollar mistake in the shade by having three kinds of nullity, even though it only has about half a dozen datatypes that are constantly turning into each other.

Well bork me sideways: A railway ticket machine lies down for a little Windoze

Kubla Cant Silver badge

Still, it did manage to at least complete a physical memory dump

Does anybody ever look at Windows memory dumps?

I was screwed over by Cisco managers who enforced India's caste hierarchy on me in US HQ, claims engineer

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IF the DALIT guy WINS, they ARE listening, and MAYBE things will change

I THINK there's a fault WITH your KEYBOARD.

An unfortunate bit of product placement for Microsoft as Liverpool celebrates winning some silverware

Kubla Cant Silver badge

Re: Clarification

I think the reasons for the name are historical, rather than a reflection of the way the ball is manipulated.

The English game that was called "football" for many centuries seems to have involved so much hand activity (throwing, catching, punching, gouging, wrenching, twisting etc) that it's puzzling that it was so called. When it was split into various flavours by codification of the rules, most of them retained the ball-handling element and the foot-related name.

Finally, a wafer-thin server... Only a tiny little thin one. Oh all right. Just the one...

Kubla Cant Silver badge

a new machine delivered that sucked way more power than our entire building, no idea what the machine did, but the company only made printer ink and laser toner

They doubtless needed a very high-power machine to count their profits.

Faxing hell: The cops say they would very much like us to stop calling them all the time

Kubla Cant Silver badge

Re: My first modem..

I've even got a few machines with modems built in kicking around

I was astounded to find that a recent-model Canon printer that I bought a few months ago has a fax capability.

Kubla Cant Silver badge

Re: I called the cops

Tone dialler? Way back in the day you used to be able to call free from phone boxes by tapping the receiver rest to simulate pulse dialling. They enforced payment by connecting the dial only after coins had been inserted.

After STD was introduced, there was a way to make cheap long distance calls by stringing together lots of local calls. The long sequences of digits required to do this were keenly circulated around our universities. Unfortunately, the signal was often so attenuated that you'd have done better to go up on the roof and shout. I think phone phreaking was the high-tech successor to this.

It's a bit weird to recall a time when it was worth going to a lot of trouble to avoid the cost of phone calls.

Only true boffins will be able to grasp Blighty's new legal definitions of the humble metre and kilogram

Kubla Cant Silver badge

Why a kilogram?

Why do they define a kilogram as something other than 1000 grams? I would have expected that a rational system would define the fundamental units and derive the multiples.

Kubla Cant Silver badge

Not at all - carry on twanging.

Overload: A one-way ticket to a madman's situation

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"The last step," he said, "was to program our new email hub to dial the master in Boston, at 5 in the morning on cheap telephone rates, in order to pick up the day's email."

Master? He'd better watch his language or he'll end up getting thrown in the harbour.

OOP there it is: You'd think JavaScript's used more by devs than Java... but it's not – JetBrains survey

Kubla Cant Silver badge

...Python developers fancy working in Go, for example, and ... Java programmers. The next most-fancied languages are Kotlin, Python, Rust and TypeScript

In my three decades as a code monkey, this has been an enduring phenomenon. Most people want to learn a new language and try to spot the candidate that will be most interesting or lucrative. Five years ago everyone was desperate to know Scala. I'm embarrassed to recall the hot skills from thirty years ago.

Maybe I'm just lazy, but I find it difficult to learn a language without a job to do in it. It's even harder to convince potential employers that you are professionally competent in something you've mostly used in your spare time.

Kubla Cant Silver badge

Re: This metric doesn't measure "popularity"

It takes 20 hours to code it in Java, but only 10 hours to code it in Javascript

And 10 days to work out why the Javascript version doesn't work quite as specified.

Frenchman scores €50k compensation for suffering 'bore-out' at work after bosses gave him 'menial' tasks

Kubla Cant Silver badge

Why stay?

I'm surprised that there seems to have been no mention of the obvious strategy when you don't like your job. No matter whether it's an obnoxious boss, intense boredom, or unpleasant work, you can solve the problem by finding another job. It's not impossible, people do it all the time, even people who quite like their current work.

I don't want to sound like Norman Tebbit red in tooth and claw. But the stress of doing a job you hate for years must be worse than the effort of job-seeking. You're never going to get those years back.

Kubla Cant Silver badge

Re: Full day for a Frenchman?

A plausible explanation I've heard is that French companies spend more on technology. The higher productivity is achieved at the cost of higher unemployment.

I've no idea if this is true, or even verifiable.


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