* Posts by Loyal Commenter

5364 posts • joined 20 Jul 2010

Yeah, we'll just take that first network handshake. What could possibly go wrong?

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Re: The guiding principle

The problem here is that JavaScript, an untyped scripting language, is copying stuff from C, a strongly typed compiled language.

TBH, the idea of using 0 = false, and any non-zero-value = true should have set alarm bells ringing in the first place. Two meanings (true/false) should equate to two values (1/0) and be stored in a type that is represented by one bit.

JavaScript took this moment of insanity, thought "hey, this is neat" and went on to say "what if we...", so we have a situation where an empty string is "false", the string containing the word false is "true", and the number 0 is false... usually... unless it's the result of an arithmetic calculation that has a floating point rounding error in it, and your value you thought was 0 is actually 0.000000000000043 or something like that.

At some point the various people who were all coming up with their own slightly different JavaScript interpretations should have stopped, and said, "hey guys, I think we might have fucked up here".

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Re: The guiding principle

We have enums for that; we define "this" as 0, "that" as 1, "the other" as 2, and lo-and-behold, if we decide we need a fourth value, we can add it to the enum. Just make sure you are using the same enum everywhere, not defining it multiple times, eh?

Nullable types have their uses too. A nullable bool can have values of true, false, and "fucked if I know". If you start relying on that third value to mean something specific other than unknown then you're in trouble. IMHO the closest to the correct implementation of a null value is in SQL, where a null value for a nulalble bool does not equal true, it does not equal false, and it also does not equal another null value. Languages where a null value is treated as false (JavaScript, I'm looking at you), or, even worse, as true, are just wrong.

The problems arise, of course, where one person uses null to mean "unknown", and another uses it to mean "not chosen", or "not defined" which are (subtly) semantically different.

In most cases, you will not be worried about the storage size of a boolean (or nullable boolean) vs the size of a machine word, so there really is no reason (usually) not to use an enum in any code that doesn't generate and consume that value straight away, where the purpose of that nullability should be apparent, because we all write well-crafted code, right?

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Re: And Bill kept his job.

Because abusive relationships can be employment relationships too...

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Re: The guiding principle

It uses a lot of processing power and network resources to slurp all the data off your phone and send it to some advertising profiler, or worse, and also to download lots of loud video ads in the background. And that's the point of 99.9% of "free" games.

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Re: The guiding principle

This highlights the difference between a programmer, a developer, and a software engineer.

A programmer writes some lines of code that give the desired result.

A developer writes some lines of code that give the desired result, and can be understood by someone else.

A software engineer does the above, but also writes the other 90% of the code to sanitise the inputs and handle error conditions.

As for code efficiency? Well, Donald Knuth himself wrote that, "premature optimization is the root of all programming evil". Whilst we should be aiming to avoid egregious resource waste, we shouldn't be looking to make efficiency gains where the bottlenecks aren't. There's no point making your code super CPU-efficient if what it is doing is disk-bound, for example. At the same time, the habit some developers seem to have for pulling in hundreds of JavaScript libraries to solve a simple problem is a bit of a red flag...

South Korea's lunar orbiter launches and phones home happily

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Facepalm

Re: whether to develop its own nukes

You are Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper AICMFP.

The fact that they were making very successful farces based on the consequences of your sort of arguments in the 1960s might highlight a flaw or two in your otherwise excellent plans...

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Re: Nuke

Being a signatory to the NPT brings all sorts of benefits other than the obvious one of not having to handle and maintain nuclear warheads. I suggest you read up on the "demon core" for an example of how nasty they can be.

For example, if they were to withdraw from the NPT, they would immediately stop getting assistance with their domestic nuclear power programme. They would almost certainly get embargoes on certain technologies associated with such, as well as the raw materials.

Politically, it'd be a really stupid move as well, as it would estrange them from the US, which would directly lead to them being MORE likely to get attacked by The North.

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Re: Nuke

Nuking your next-door-neighbour is the international-politics version of shitting on your own doorstep. Also, you don't need ICBMs to do what can be done with a truck.

Oh, and South Korea are a signatory to the NPT as well, so if they broke that they'd get sanctioned which would bugger their domestic nuclear power programme, so your suggestion is all kinds of stupid.

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Re: If elements like oxygen and hydrogen can be found in lunar ice

I'm wondering whether what they are talking about here is actually the detection of molecular hydrogen and/or oxygen within the matrix of the ice, in other words, tiny bubbles of H2 and O2. I'm guessing they're not looking for neutral atoms of H. or O. because those would be highly reactive, and therefore only likely to be found in interstellar space, and also because neutral hydrogen atoms have a tendency towards weird quantum effects like tunnelling (the reason chemists often refer to the H+ ion as a proton, because that's what it is).

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Re: If elements like oxygen and hydrogen can be found in lunar ice

Followed by the Lidl and Aldi knockoffs, "Believe me, it's not ice", and "I can believe it's ice, but it's not"

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Being Korean, the most important question is...

...what's the ping like for playing Starcraft?

Pull jet fuel from thin air? We can do that, say scientists

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Interesting claim. I googled it, and apparently the SNCF is subsidised to the extent of about €200 per person per annum, which is considerably less alarming sounding than €1000 per household. Most people I know don't live in households of five people, and I seriously doubt that the average household size in France is 5 either.

Of course, if you commute anywhere by train in the UK, you are directly subsidising shareholders of the train companies by a hell of a lot more than about £168 per year. Some single journey tickets will set you back more than that, so where is the balance going? There's a discrepancy there of orders of magnitude.

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Re: The plan for the combustion fleet isn't to ban them from the roads

That's *because* of cars - the cars are the problem, not the solution.

No, it's because public transport has been privatised, so it is run "for profit". It's pure right-wing neoliberal economics, as is evidenced by the plentiful and affordable public transport in countries that haven't veered to the right, as opposed to those which have.

For example, visit pretty much any medium-sized city in mainland Europe, and you'll likely see a metro system. How many UK cities have one of those? Last time I checked, it was four. Even Naples, a notoriously poverty-stricken and corrupt city, has a decent metro system. People don't have to drive.

Visit smaller towns and villages in places like rural Greece, and you'll find cheap and comfortable regular coaches and buses. In many European countries, trains are frequent and affordable too. If I remember rightly, a return ticket from Naples station to Ercolano, for example, was a couple of euros.

What we are suffering from in this country, on the other hand, is decades of underinvestment, and a continued selling-off of "the family silver" so that governments can make a quick buck to lower taxes and stay in power. Some people get very rich in the process, everyone else gets poorer.

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It's a lot cheaper, and quicker, for me to fly to a city at the other end of the UK than take the train.

It's (significantly) cheaper for me to drive to London than get a train there. Economy of scale means this REALLY shouldn't be the case, but the privately run trains here are a LOT more expensive than the publicly run ones on the continent. I wonder why that might be...

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Re: The plan for the combustion fleet isn't to ban them from the roads

Indeed. Not everyone lives in That London. In most of the country, public transport is either expensive and sparse, or simply non-existent. I read today of a village in north Somerset that is now cut-off from public transport after the cancellation of their last (privately run) bus service.

You won't get people out of cars until there is universal, affordable, not-for-profit public transport that serves the entire country. With the right-wing neoliberal market-led economy we have, that is never going to happen.

For those of us who live in cities outside London, there may be *some* public transport available, but it's not exactly economically useable. I live in Bristol, and there are plenty of buses. They are expensive, infrequent, and don't stop near where I live. It is more economical for me, both in time and money, to own a car for various uses, even though I now work from home 99% of the time.

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NOx concentrations in air are vanishingly small (even compared to CO2, which is 0.04%), NO2 concentrations, for example, are measured in double digits in parts per billion. Thus, pulling these out of the air in any useful amount is always going to be impractical. The problem is, that oxides of nitrogen tend to be nasty even in very low concentrations, contributing to things like photochemical smog. The best approach is always going to be to catch them at the source. That's why we have catalytic converters on cars.

Be careful where you install software, and who installs it

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Re: Private Libraries?

Immediately, or it’ll be a punishment detail for Private Parts!

Taiwanese military reports DDoS in wake of Pelosi visit

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Re: Cabinet spokesperson Lo Ping?

A pun is a play on words. Laughing at someone's "funny name" isn't a pun, and to claim as much might be an indicator that your grasp of the English language isn't as firm as you might think it is.

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Re: Cabinet spokesperson Lo Ping?

I refer you to Tim Minchin's "Only a ginger can call another ginger, ginger".

If the name "Sam Button" happened to sound like the Swahili for "pigs testicles" you might be a bit miffed if people suddenly started pointed at you and laughing and saying things like "no, he looks more like a goat's

bollocks".

However, on the other hand, if your parents had named you something that sounds very much like "pig's testicles", in English, and being native English speakers were fully aware that this was the case, then this would be an entirely different matter altogether, and I might suggest that they were being remarkably prescient.

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Re: TSMC

I'm going to push the boat out here, and guess that, in the context of manufacturing semiconductor devices in Taiwan, it might stand for Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company?

Would you like me to google it for you?

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Re: Cabinet spokesperson Lo Ping?

Or if some bloke called Sam Sung worked for Apple?

The thing is "funny Asian names" as a form of humour does smack a bit of 1970's end-of-the-pier stuff, alongside doing funny voices, and making slanty-eyes with your fingers.

Post-quantum crypto cracked in an hour with one core of an ancient Xeon

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Re: I use my own encryption system

You could prove this stochastically, by plotting all the 1-digit numbers against how many digits into pi they can be found, then all the two digit numbers, all the three digit numbers, and so on.

As the number of digits gets larger, and thus the sample size for each round increases, you could take intervals and plot how many numbers are found in that interval, and you'd almost certainly see a poisson distribution.

e.g. for ten-digit numbers, you'd see that a small number occur very early on, with the number in each interval (let's make the interval size 10,000 digits, you might get a better curve with larger intervals) increasing, then falling off. Some sequences won't be found until very far along.

The interesting thing to see would be where the peak of that curve falls, compared to the mean value of what you are trying to "encode". I have a hunch that it's going to be a bigger number (e.g. a ratio of higher than 1), and with each round, where you add a digit, that ratio is likely to increase.

If this is the case, then this is a demonstration (if not a formal proof) that as the length of what you are encoding increases, the position of that thing within the digits of pi tends to infinity.

A real mathematician might be able to turn this into a formal proof. The last time I studied any maths was at A-level *mumble* years ago.

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This could also be seen as "it uses an area of maths that isn't well described, and it turns out that someone came along and proved that the bit of maths it was using wasn't as strong as they thought it was"

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Gimp

Re: Cheaters!

Wrong icon -->

Why the end of Optane is bad news for all IT

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f your memory are persistent and unencrypted people could simply smash and grab the sticks, for example, [without having to faff about with cryogenic cooling].

Even with current DIMMs, the contents are non-volatile enough to do this without cryogenic cooling, or any cooling at all in most cases, if you are quick enough. There was article about it here a while back, I can't be bothered to go and find the link again. Your quickest way of finding it may be to scroll through my past posts...

(edit, if you're that bothered, it's half way the third page, at the time of posting this)

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Re: as cheap?

I could see a niche for it on a database or file server, as a cache for frequently read (but rarely written) records or files. I have to wonder whether the incremental speed increase it would give here would make a difference for all but the most performance critical applications though. The spooks may have loved it.

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Security concerns for persistent RAM are also a thing. The idea that RAM could be a place where malware could reside, persistent through even a complete power cycle is slightly disturbing for some applications.

Of course, everything must be encrypted by default as well, in order to have any sort of security. Otherwise, what's to stop someone unplugging that persistent RAM from your computer and plugging it into theirs, and getting at all your juicy in-memory data? Encrypting it properly is also probably non-trivial (security is hard). Where are your keys stored? On a TPM module? Is that glued into your motherboard?

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Re: as cheap?

It seems it has three problems that killed it:

1) It wasn't cheap, as you say. It might be cheap compared to fast read/write memory, but it certainly wasn't, compared to slow (but getting faster) SSDs.

2) As the article mentions, it isn't infinitely re-writeable (no, neither is flash memory, I know). If it had this advantage, it could really have been a viable killer of the SSD market.

3) It's a solution looking for a problem. Most people are content for stuff in memory to be in memory (I have 32Gb in my desktop, and that's more than enough for practical purposes), and stuff on SSDs to be on SSDs and take maybe a couple of seconds to load a big file. Or even on spinning rust, and take several times longer. The average usage pattern of a desktop PC is not to be constantly loading and saving large volumes of data, it is to load an application, do some stuff, then possibly save your work and do something else. Even that "save your work" paradigm is shifting, as more and more stuff is done in a browser, so that pattern becomes, "open a browser, open a bookmark, do some stuff". Optane doesn't naturally fit into any of these things.

Psst … Want to buy a used IBM Selectric? No questions asked

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Re: Wow

I always thought it stood for "motherfuckers international," but that might just have been because of exactly how annoying their adverts were.

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Re: Wow

I have a set of Ikea corner shelves bought some time ago (probably 20+ years), that are made from solid pieces of seasoned beech, laminated together. They're rock solid, you could probably use them as a step-ladder (although I wouldn't advise it from a stability point of view). All their modern stuff (such as the Kallax range) seems to be made not even of fibre or chipboard, but of plastic and cardboard. There is some stuff there that is still reasonably priced and made of proper materials, but you have to examine it carefully to determine whether it is.

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Re: ambiguous

Maybe the ideal setup would be a sandwich -- two Selectrics with a computer in between.

No, the ideal setup would be one Selectric with a computer in-between.

Think of the possibilities. Most of the time, this would act as a buffer, and the typewriter would print what you type, as you type it. Occasionally (say, randomly, when a carriage return happens), you could have it insert an extra line of text:

"Help me, I'm trapped inside the typewriter".

That sort of thing.

You could probably achieve this fairly simply, using a Raspberry Pi Pico, a few jumper leads, a soldering iron, and a few hundred lines of Python (or C if you're a "Real Programmer" *).

*This is entirely to troll the Python programmers, just because it's fun. I'd probably implement this in Python if I could be bothered, and had a Selectric typewriter to hand.

Lapping the computer room in record time until the inevitable happens

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Boffin

Re: Green energy

I was a research scientist too. My best ideas also came in the shower, the most important one being that I should probably get out of the lab while I still could and pursue a career that pays, and in my case, doesn't involve me accidentally poisoning myself periodically.

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Re: Green energy

If you start trying to monetise my "idle" time, I'll start billing you for the time spent thinking about work outside of work hours. I could probably include that portion of time spent dreaming whilst asleep, as this is the brain's way of sorting out problems stored up from during the day.

Last time I checked my fitness tracker, that's about 2 hours a night, every night, seven days a week, which works out at about 2 additional days a week.

Your move, sucker.

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Re: Obligatory XKCD

"Waiting for the Azure resources to be provisioned"

I paid for it, that makes it mine. Doesn’t it? No – and it never did

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Re: Physical media is still the best

I had to use that to download all my photos off "google drive" when they decided that I'd used up all my "free storage" that I didn't even know I was using, and wanted to start charging me to store the pictures I was taking on my phone. Downloaded them all, and set my phone to NOT "back up" my photos to google. IIRC, their "free" limit is something paltry like 20GB. I can get a hard disk with 100x that capacity for less than £50, which is also less than google were trying to charge me in a year. Okay, so that isn't backed up, but if I really wanted to, I could buy two (or even 4) and RAID them.

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Re: Physical media is still the best

There is, but my reasons for downloading and deleting are historic, back in the olden days, I used to use Outlook Express for the same purpose, and it had a habit of downloading messages multiple times if they weren't deleted on the server as well.

I don't wholly trust my web mail provider with my (nominally) private emails, so once I have hold of them, I see no need for them to have a copy as well, upon which to do all sorts of advertising profiling, assuming they have not already done so at the point of receipt. I'm working on the principle here, that they will not be caching a second copy somewhere else, because of storage costs, but the principle here is one of ownership. I own those emails, not $web_mail_operator.

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Re: Physical media

As long as you have the warehouse space available for free, to store them all for the period between picking them up for 1p and finding someone who wants to buy them.

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Re: freestanding!

That's because Donald Knuth came up with the idea, when he needed something for laying out the content of The Art of Computer Programming. If you can work your way through the original three volumes (let alone the later ones), and take in all the content, then you'll appreciate the work it had to do, and why it was pretty much job done at that point.

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Re: Physical media

I have some CDs from the '90s that suffer from the infamous "bronzing", so even then I'm eventually going to have to buy new copies. Annoyingly, if you want to sell old CDs, you'll probably get about 1p each for them, but if you want to buy that one, specific album from 1993, then the odds are it's going to set you back £25...

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Re: Physical media is still the best

I have Thunderbird on my home PC, set to download my web mail (when I want to read it via the browser, I read it from the deleted folder). I should probably back up the last 20 years worth of email at some point, but if it suddenly all disappears with no way of getting it back, at least I know it's my fault.

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Re: You know you're old when...

If you look at the wiring on some of those old Teasmaids, you will inevitably find yourself wondering how many people they have killed in their beds, before they came to be in front of you.

BOFH: Selling the boss on a crypto startup

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Yes, but one is the past participle of a verb (swelled), and the other is the adjective (swollen). Quite often the past participle and the adjectival form are the same (as in "my heart melted", and "my heart is melted"), but there are plenty of cases where it is not, for example all those irregular verbs, like "to go": "I went", "I'm gone".

The English language, much like the English population, is a mash-up of different lineages from around Europe, with bits of Nordic, Celtic, Germanic, and Latinate languages (and a sprinkling of other further-away ones, if you like a tsunami of yoghurt in your yacht) all smashed together and somehow made to work. It's also why people who go on about racial purity and "native" British people are such utter morons, because such things don't exist.

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But language moves on and both countries are fortunately admirably resistant to prescriptive dictums such as those trying to force data as a plural on us.

The "data/datum" argument is a bit of a subtle one. "Datum" is unambiguously talking about a single piece of data, however "data" as a singular mass noun kind-of makes sense as well (as in saying "this data" to mean "this mass of data", as opposed to "these data" to signify countable data, and "this datum" as a single one of them.)

I short, it's because data is both the plural of a countable noun (datum) and the plural and singular of a mass noun. So "fewer data" and "less data" are both valid, but one means having fewer of the countable data (e.g. one less datum), and "less data" means less of it (e.g. 50% of the data is less than 60% of it, but 5 data are fewer than 6 of them).

Confused? The English language is just getting started...

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Since the US didn't exist in either of those centuries, I think that perhaps the argument from that historical linguistic angle is rendered rather moot. Standardi[sz]ed spellings of things didn't really emerge until the arrival of mass literacy (in the 20th century in the UK, and still a work in progress in the US)

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Does it? Or do the US authors use US English, and the UK ones use realUK English?

Chinese booster rocket tumbles back to Earth: 'Non-zero' chance of hitting populated area

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Re: What, no nukes?

It's worth noting that only 5% of the UK's land surface is given over to housing, whilst 2.5% is occupied by golf courses.

It's often those who use the golf courses that object most vociferously to more housing.

Also, vast areas of "undeveloped" countryside are also owned by a vanishingly small number of people. 4% of the country is taken over by grouse moors (which is an unnatural, managed landscape).

Tell this to anyone who goes on about "are country being full," though, and they just blather, get redder in the face and start calling you a "woke snowflake" or something.

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Re: I would say ....

Milton Keynes was also (nominally) built around the villages of Bletchley and Newport Pagnell

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Re: To quote Tom Lehrer

Followed up by a rousing round of "We'll all go together when we go"?

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Re: What, no nukes?

Did she manage to slough it off?

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Pirate

It's all very well deliberately de-orbiting space junk into the middle of the Pacific

However, all that stuff drifting down into the depths over R'Lyeh is only going to give Cthulhu ideas.

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