* Posts by Loyal Commenter

3993 posts • joined 20 Jul 2010

'I wrote Task Manager': Ex-Microsoft programmer Dave Plummer spills the beans

Loyal Commenter Silver badge

Not just 9X, I'm sure I've done this under XP before, and possibly under 7 as well.

Loyal Commenter Silver badge

Re: Why wasn't it in by design?

Why the downvote here?

Here is an example - imagine there is a public specification that says how some software should act. Imagine it has a part, marked optional, that if the function Wibble() is called, the software may produce the output "wobble".

Imagine then, that I am writing something that calls software produced to this specification. I don't know what specific implementation I will be calling. What will happen if my software calls on the the unknown implementation to wibble?

Will it wobble, or will it fall over?

In all seriousness though, optional parts to public specifications mean that the functionality specified by them cannot be trusted to exist, or be fully implemented, so cannot be reliably consumed, making them pointless. I know there are cases where this may be needed, in which case producers have to have a mechanism for publishing their capabilities. In general, though, when you're talking about an open standard, optional parts are bad, because people, who usually get paid for their time, aren't going to bother with them. Unless they are necessary. In which case, why are they optional, and are they properly specified?

Loyal Commenter Silver badge

Re: Why wasn't it in by design?

(conversely, if your specification contains "optional" parts, then it’s not a good specification, because you'll never know, for a sample implementation, whether those parts have been implemented or not)

Loyal Commenter Silver badge

Re: Why wasn't it in by design?

To be fair, "the bare minimum to pass the standard" is exactly what, as a developer, one should be producing. Failing to fully implement the "minimum", or going off-piste and adding your own "features" isn't exactly good practice if you want to build reliable standards-compliant software.

(this is not an endorsement or otherwise of how MS implemented POSIX in NT, just an observation)

Dude, where's my laser?

Loyal Commenter Silver badge

Re: "Of course, in the '70s, active correction of the beam was not an option."

Well, circular polarisation could conceivably help with beam divergence, if atmospheric conditions meant that the beam diverges more in one specific direction.

It probably wouldn't help though, to be fair.

Loyal Commenter Silver badge

Well, some of us got the reference...

NHS contact tracing app isn't really anonymous, is riddled with bugs, and is open to abuse. Good thing we're not in the middle of a pandemic, eh?

Loyal Commenter Silver badge

Re: Why, oh why...

A useful analogy for why the face masks aren't so useless as you might think:

Imagine you are walking around without any trousers on. Random strangers could walk up to you and urinate on your legs.

Now imagine you are wearing trousers, these offer some protection, your legs won't get quite as pissy when that weirdo walks up to you and empties their bladder.

Now imagine they are also wearing trousers. They can only really piss down their own legs.

Face masks stop you spreading infectious droplets to others more than they protect you from them. This is why in countries in the far East where they are commonly in use, people wear them when they have a cold, rather than when there is a cold going around. It's called social responsibility, and it's coincidentally pretty much the opposite of English exceptionalism, which seems to be what is getting us in so much trouble recently.

Loyal Commenter Silver badge

Re: Why, oh why...

Well, lets start with the fact that your "domain server on 8.8.8.8" is google's public "free" DNS resolution server, which is almost certainly logging all your DNS resolutions to build an advertising profile against your IP / MAC address.

Other DNS providers are available, for example OpenDNS, who are likely to be much less stalkery than the big G.

We're going underground, and this time it's not an inebriated banker crapping themselves, but Transport for London

Loyal Commenter Silver badge

Oops

Looks like one of the web monkeys has accidentally directed the browser to the data API, rather than consuming it in their script.

Swedish data centre offers rack-scale dielectric immersion cooling

Loyal Commenter Silver badge

Re: With 500MW

To generate electricity, you need pretty steep heat gradients (think superheated steam vs ambient).

The waste heat from data centres is likely to raise temperatures by no more than a few tens of degrees above ambient, far too little of a gradient to effectively extract work. In order to get hotter, the heat source would need to be at a higher temperature, which is the thing you're cooling your servers to avoid in the first place.

The waste heat could effectively be used (and may well be) for local heating, in much the way that waste heat from geothermal energy production in Iceland is used to keep the streets of Reykjavík ice-free in winter.

Behold: The ghastly, preening, lesser-spotted Incredible Bullsh*tting Customer

Loyal Commenter Silver badge

The correct term, I believe, is "Computer User (Non-Technical)". There's a handy acronym if you can't remember the full thing.

Tom Cruise to increase in stature thanks to ISS jaunt? Now that's a mission impossible

Loyal Commenter Silver badge

I get the impression that Scientology is only dangerous to your bank account and sanity if you are a cult member

or a family member of a cult member, or someone who publicly criticises the cult. They use some pretty dubious tactics against people they have decided not to like, and the less said about a certain cult leader whose name sounds like miscarriage the better.

Loyal Commenter Silver badge

Mission Impossible: 7?

Jeebus, haven't those returns diminished to nothing yet?

Proof-of-concept open-source app can cut'n'paste from reality straight into Photoshop using a neural network

Loyal Commenter Silver badge

Re: OK, I'll bite.

It's open source. If you need it, write it!

I'm sure it's not too much of a stretch to have it just stick the image into the Windows (or $OS_OF_CHOICE) clipboard and allow you to paste it yourself, I'm assuming Ctrl-V isn't too onerous for most.

Prank warning: You do know your smart speaker's paired with Spotify over the internet, don't you?

Loyal Commenter Silver badge

Once again I propose we rename IoT as IoV

Internet of Vulnerabilities

Florida man might just stick it to HP for injecting sneaky DRM update into his printers that rejected non-HP ink

Loyal Commenter Silver badge

"Research" is done entirely in the marketing department methinks.

Loyal Commenter Silver badge

Re: HP printers

The old laserjets were rock solid. IIRC, they were limited t around 300ppi, but to be honest, you're unlikely to notice resolutions higher than that in a printed document.

IIRC, they (or a similar model) were susceptible to paper mis-feeds due to wearing on the rubber rollers that fed the sheets. The solution, if that happens to you, is to open up the bit where the rollers are, and rotate the rubber bushes through 20 degrees or so. You'll get another 16 goes after that before you need to replace them!

Loyal Commenter Silver badge

Re: HP printers

IoT really should be called IoV (the V stands for Vulnerabilities)

Loyal Commenter Silver badge

Re: HP printers

This is why I moved to a colour laser. faster, better print quality than a cheap inkjet (no "striping"), comparably priced consumables, but they last a lot longer. Arguably cleaner (although loose toner can be messier than ink), no inks to run if they get damp, and less susceptibility to loss of colour-fastness as inks degrade over time / exposure to UV light.

Getting a pizza the action, AS/400 style

Loyal Commenter Silver badge

Re: A real pizza

Or have you bought into the bullshit that Naples was the first place that someone put food on top of a slab of dough and cooked it in an oven? Native Americans were doing that very thing over 4,000 years ago. So were the Egyptian pyramid builders.

I'll just reiterate, that this isn't about who put a topping on bread first, but who invented the pizza, which isn't just defined as toppings on bread.

I'll also point out that Native Americans didn't have bread made from wheat (they cultivated maize instead); I don't think a tortilla quite qualifies as a pizza base, no mater how much a foodie youtube "influencer" might try to convince you it does, and also remind you that Naples has been around as a settlement since the neolithic (the name Naples comes from the name of the Greek settlement Neapolis in the second millennium BC), although they haven't had tomatoes to cook with for quite that long. Consumption of bread there would have been contemporary with that in ancient Egypt, but once again, bread isn't pizza.

Loyal Commenter Silver badge

Re: A real pizza

Well, other people may well have stuck stuff on top of a slab of dough beforehand, but it wasn't a pizza, because the word pizza comes from Naples. If it's not a pizza, it's not a pizza. It might be a Pissaladière, or a foccacia, or whatever, but it's not a pizza, because that's not what it's called. For instance, something made from batter in a pan, with "barbecue sauce" and American "cheese" on it might call itself a pizza, in the same way I might call myself President of Earth. It doesn't make it a frickin' pizza.

I'm no purist myself (and I expect many Italians aren't either), so I'll quite happily eat a pizza that has "non standard" toppings on it (a Margherita pizza for example, should have only puréed tomato, buffalo mozzarella and basil on it), but a proper pizza consists of a thin piece of bread dough (properly made from OO pasta flour if you are really a purist), tomato sauce, mozzarella, and a small number of toppings, baked quickly in a hot oven (preferably a wood-fired oven with a clay floor).

Other sauces, or cheese that isn't mozzarella (other than additional cheese, as in a Quattro Formaggio), non-bread bases (Pizza Hut apparently use a batter), etc. mean it is not a pizza, but something else. This is no judgement on whether it is going to be edible or not.

When it comes down to it, though, I'll defer to Neapolitans about what they deem to be the defining dish of their city. After all, their city has almost certainly been around for a couple of thousand years longer than yours.

Loyal Commenter Silver badge
Joke

Re: WORST. PIZZA. EVER.

One liver and bacon pizza then please!

Loyal Commenter Silver badge

Re: A real pizza

I'd advise you against travel to Naples, I don't think they'd take kindly to that sort of talk.

At least you chose a thin crust. None of that "deep pan" rubbish (if you're cooking it in a pan, you've already gone wrong).

Australia to make Google and Facebook disclose ranking algorithms and pay for local content

Loyal Commenter Silver badge

On the one hand, the likes of Google and Facebook clearly need regulating.

On the other hand, Rupert Murdoch can fall into a really, really deep hole full of scorpions as far as I'm concerned.

Zoom's end-to-end encryption isn't actually end-to-end at all. Good thing the PM isn't using it for Cabinet calls. Oh, for f...

Loyal Commenter Silver badge

Re: Unprecedented stupidity

I never said they were geniuses, it's just that if you don't give a shit about other people, it gives you a natural competitive edge. That's why, for example, capitalism has to be tempered with regulation, such as that limiting monopolies, to stop the greediest grabbing everything for themselves.

The thing that the people and entities I listed have in common is that they are motivated purely out of self-interest, with no regard for societal externalities. Stuff that is great for the individual is often not great for the human race as a whole. More people could do with giving humanism a go.

Loyal Commenter Silver badge

Re: Unprecedented stupidity

Sadly, it's not lizard people, it's cunts like Bannon and Cummings, and global mega-corps like Halliburton. And the oil-producing Arab countries, as long as they can continue to pump money out of the ground.

edit - oh, and don't forget Vlad and his FSB/GRB cohorts.

Loyal Commenter Silver badge

Re: To be clear ...

"we do not use your data...for advertising purposes" - of course not, the advertisers we pass it on to do that, duh!

That awful moment when what you thought was a number 1 turned out to be a number 2

Loyal Commenter Silver badge

Re: Trying to teach...

Nobody should be made to feel bad because of their ignorance. However, when people take their ignorance and put it on a pedestal as something to be proud of and refuse to learn, well then they should be ashamed.

In WW2, pigeons were taught to guide bombs by pecking one way or the other. They were taught this by rote. When people refuse to learn anything beyond doing it by rote, then they are reducing themselves to the level of pigeons. TBH, in some cases, the pigeons may be brighter.

Theranos vampire lives on: Owner of failed blood-testing biz's patents sues maker of actual COVID-19-testing kit

Loyal Commenter Silver badge

WHY NOT go the WHOLE HOG and RanDOMlY VAry tHE CApitALIsaTION WIthIN WoRDs?

H3Y, w#y n07 gO fu11 l33t sp33k 4S W3LL?

Stop it, just stop it.

Not exactly the kind of housekeeping you want when it means the hotel's server uptime is scrubbed clean

Loyal Commenter Silver badge
Headmaster

Not to mention using an adjective as an adverb in the first sentence.

Loyal Commenter Silver badge

Re: The cleaner did it.

I wouldn't. The IT manager in that place started off working in the warehouse (where he was known for sleeping in the racks), and "worked" his way up. The amount he knew about IT could be written on the back of a very small postage stamp, and still leave room for a detailed description of his common sense. The whole place was run by clowns. It changed its name twice in the four years I worked there, which is always something deeply suspicious*, and went out of business around six months after I jumped ship for a better job.

*I can think of two reasons for a company to change its name; firstly if it is successful and is bought out by a larger business and rebranded as part of its parent company, or secondly, if the company name has become toxic and the directors want to hide their past from potential customers. Guess which one applied here?

Loyal Commenter Silver badge

Re: The cleaner did it.

One place where I used to work, we had pretty much the same thing happen when they put a raised floor in the server room, and the chippy unplugged a server to plug in his drill. Then I tihnk the sparky they got in to put in redundant power circuits managed to do pretty much the same thing.

I'm sure there's an appropriate adage abut employing the cheapest tender and the quality of work you'll get...

Broken lab equipment led boffins to solve a 58-year-old physics problem by mistake

Loyal Commenter Silver badge

Re: No good enough!

Funny enough, I have a bag of those chitting in the allotment shed right now...

Loyal Commenter Silver badge

MRI is based on NMR, but the Imaging bit is quite an important development. I suppose you could call it NMRI.

Indeed, that is what it was originally known as, but for some reason, some patients got a bit nervous about being put in the big noisy machine called the "Nuclear mmpphhhmumble", so they dropped the "nuclear" bit. IIRC, the first MRI machine was actually built from a cannibalised decommissioned NMR spectrometer.

Loyal Commenter Silver badge

Don't forget your crowbar.

Loyal Commenter Silver badge

Re: Serendipetydoodah!

IIRC, "spintronics" involves electron magnetic spin, not nuclear magnetic spin. I'm pretty sure it involves using magnetic, not electric fields as well. Putting electrons in an electric field, unsurprisingly, causes the electrons to move towards the positive electrode; we call this an electric current.

Microsoft throws a bone to those unable to leave the past behind: .NET 5 support on the way for Visual Basic

Loyal Commenter Silver badge

Clear, well written, and understandable code is a fundamental tenet of good programming.

I can think of a number of things wrong with the above statement.

Off the top of my head:

Your variable names are absolutely rubbish. They should be descriptive.

Single-letter variable names are a no-no, with the possible exception of loop variables (i, j, k, etc.), which are a widely-known convention.

Variable names that differ only by case are also a recipe for disaster. Good luck finding that bug where you had the shift key down for a fraction of a second too long / not long enough when typing a complex statement.

You are doing something non-obvious in this statement, thus it should have an explanatory comment above it.

It could more clearly be written as

x = (2 * x) + X
which would compile to the same object code in almost any language. Note the redundant braces, which are included for clarity.

White House turns to Big Tech to fix coronavirus blunders while classifying previous conversations

Loyal Commenter Silver badge

Re: The entire world would be better off if all politicians everywhere ...

I have a feeling that most of the UK cabinet have already done the equivalent of the same to themselves, without any help from others, by putting themselves in a room with Nadine Dorries, and then refusing to get tested themselves and continuing to hold meetings...

The cynical amongst us might suggest that this is what happens when you deny science..

The Reg produces exhibit A1: A UK court IT system running Windows XP

Loyal Commenter Silver badge

Re: Is this as ususal software related?

This is only important because Windows executes code on removable media by default

Well, yes and no.

Yes, executing files on removable media is bad.

No, it isn't the only issue.

Devices attached over USB can advertise themselves as all sorts of things, such as a mountable file system, or a security dongle, or a keyboard, etc. It's a combination weakness of USB, and the OS not asking before using the device. This isn't straightforward to fix. For example, if you plug in a USB mouse and keyboard, you don't really want to have to click on the 'OK' button on a dialog before you can use them. Not without a working mouse and/or keyboard, anyway...

Loyal Commenter Silver badge

Re: No one goes to jail

I get your point, but to be wilfully adversarial, I'd suggest that it's quite possible to post something to FB or any other social media platform that would gain the attention of the plod, and result in your own liberty being deprived at Her Majesty's pleasure. Kiddie porn being the most obvious example.

Post Office burned £100m in UK taxpayer cash on Horizon IT scandal legal fees, MPs told

Loyal Commenter Silver badge

Re: Justice - they've heard of it

He jumped bail and hid out in a foreign embassy for several years.

The matter of extradition to the US aside (which I don't necessarily agree with), do you really think they're going to put him in an open prison when he has form for running off?

As for your claims of solitary confinement, et al, do you have any evidence for those claims, or are they hearsay? He's in Belmarsh, but not in solitary confinement (which basically is not used any more in the UK, except in extreme circumstances) - his lawyers may be claiming he has been subject to psychological "torture" because of his confinement, but that was his self-imposed confinement at Ecuador's expense. That's wholly as a result of his jumping bail and hiding out. I have zero sympathy in that regard. Let's not forget that the charges he jumped bail on were relating to the investigation of an alleged sexual offence as well, and nothing to do with Wikileaks.

Loyal Commenter Silver badge

My point was that a large number of our elected representatives have PPE degrees from Oxford. It's a degree that only appears to be useful if you wish to enter the world of politics. I stand to be corrected, but I don't see any real-world use for it beyond this.

I also have t take issue with the snobbishness of criticising "liberal arts" degrees, whatever they are. I suspect the majority of people here who hold degrees hold them in technical or scientific subjects (myself included), but it's a dangerous fallacy to think that other areas of human experience are less valuable just because you don't hold an interest in them yourself, or that degrees in other subjects are somehow "useless".

FWIW, my first degree was in chemistry. I can honestly say that it has been of very little practical use to me in the last two decades (I work in a completely different field now). I think the last time it was remotely useful was probably around 15 years ago when I showed someone how to make thermite for a demonstration to school students, and TBH you don't need a chemistry degree to know that. If someone with a "liberal arts" degree can make use of their degree, I'd argue that their degree is more useful than mine.

Loyal Commenter Silver badge

I didn't know PPE at Oxford was considered to be a "liberal arts" degree.

Your comment sounds dangerously like the evidence-free wailing from some quarters about "liberal elites", used to distract attention from the very real illiberal elites who are actually running things, and as justification for their own actions.

See also: "had enough of experts" except when they're medical ones during a pandemic...

Loyal Commenter Silver badge

Re: Scandalous

see also: removal of legal aid

The tory party always has been, and always will be, the party of plutocrats.

Loyal Commenter Silver badge

Re: Who is responsible

The first time they knew there was a problem at Grenfell was during the fire.

I've not been following the Grenfell inquiry closely, but I think this statement is woefully inaccurate.

At the very least, I believe the residents themselves had been raising concerns, which for all intents and purposes were ignored, well before the fire happened.

What's inside a tech freelancer's backpack? That's right, EVERYTHING

Loyal Commenter Silver badge

Re: Additional forgotten items ..

You'd probably only come across it if you had a graphics card capable of outputting 4K at a decent frame rate. Apparently it supports 4k at up to 144 FPS, whereas HDMI 1.0 would only manage 24 FPS at 4k.

How does Monzo keep 1,600 microservices spinning? Go, clean code, and a strong team

Loyal Commenter Silver badge

Re: Banking isn't really a highly computational process

FWIW, I use Monzo for day-to-day banking. Trasfers to and from my other bank account are near-instantaneous, as are notifications of card-spending on the app, and things like bill-splitting.

I think the poster above is possibly confusing computational expense with complexity. I've never worked on payment processing systems, but I suspect the larger part of payment processing is not the computation involved, but the communication between different layers and providers. In a 1600-node microarchitecture, I'd be very surprised if a single payment involved more than a handful of those nodes; the clever bits, I suspect, are going to be in the routing. The same logic would be required whether it's passing a message on between different microservices, or data between classes in a monolith.

Loyal Commenter Silver badge

Microservice-based applications have their own challenges, but because the APIs are published their contracts are much easier to enforce and side-effects are essentially non-existent...or at least easily traceable.

If you write your unit tests properly, and make sure they pass, then the only sort of bug you should get would be ones that come from faulty specification.

It goes without saying that it is easier to specify a single function that it is a whole piece of software, so the devil here is in how they interact.

My feeling is that this approach lends itself to much higher software reliability.

Loyal Commenter Silver badge

Re: Optimise for readability

Quite frankly, if they're basing their principles on something they read in Knuth, they are probably doing it right. The fact that those principles are half a century old and counting only highlights the foolhardiness of those who choose to ignore them, the ignorance of those who never learned them, and the arrogance of those who never taught them.

Loyal Commenter Silver badge

Re: You don't need to know how 1,600 services work

I think the most valuable thing here is that the microservice architecture enforces encapsulation. Monolithic software doesn't, unless you do so by design. As someone who has to maintain software that began its life in the '80s in a language that doesn't even really have a concept of encapsulation, I can't understate how important encapsulation is for maintainability.

It also sounds like it makes scalability and resilience easier. Good to see also that Monzo recognise the adage that premature optimisation is the root of all evil.

SUBSCRIBE TO OUR WEEKLY TECH NEWSLETTER

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2020