Re: Very dodgy subject
Whenever I see a nasty villain on TV I always hope it is good acting. That's what actors are paid for. There again, they often end up at odds with the tax authorities.
1203 posts • joined 31 Oct 2010
"… probably old pals …"
Sometimes, but not always. In my own area…
Back in 2012, for the first elections for the new position of Police Commissioner, a retired cop offered himself to the Conservative Party. The party decided he was too close to the police, and chose someone else. The ex-cop stood as an Independent.
The Conservative won the most of the first preference votes, but not an outright majority. After the second and third preferences were counted, the Independent ex-cop was declared the winner. But four years later, 2016, a Conservative was voted in.
Now the Conservatives have ditched their own man, who will be re-standing as an Independent, and have chosen a lawyer. Politics is a rough game.
The election was to have been this year, but will now be in 2021.
"some news and current affairs coverage outside the M25".
I disagree. The BBC News website is overloaded with stuff from Wales and Scotland, even though they must surely know that my IP address is in England.
It is time for the minorities in the Remote West and North to behave like minorities and stop imposing their boring lives on the rest of us.
The "bad for science" machine was the IBM 360, where the floating point exponent represented 16**n rather than 2**n. As a result the floating point mantissa sometimes lost three bits. The result was that the single precision floating point was good to only about six decimal digits. Hence the proliferation of double precision floating point on IBM. It was not needed on ICL 190x nor Elliott 803.
IBM were mainly interested in commercial arithmetic from COBOL compilers. This used binary coded decimal (BCD) arithmetic, which could handle billions of dollars to the nearest cent. COBOL type computational defaulted to BCD, I believe. I was once trying to explain floating point data to a database salesman. I finally got through to him with the phrase computational-type-3.
In my experience there were very many poor compilers for Coral 66. It seemed to me that the Defence Ministry (British) thought it was the job of the computer industry to develop compilers, whereas the computer industry thought the MOD should spend the money if it wanted people to use a cranky language that nobody else used. There was a front end, to analyse Coral source code, available from MOD; but the back end, to generate object code, would be a software company job.
I remember using Coral 66 on a project running on Intel 8086 hardware. When a procedure (subroutine, if Fortran is your thing) was called, the calling code put parameters onto the stack in one order, and then the procedure code picked up those parameters and re-stacked them in reverse order. That was the result of the front-end / back-end situation I mention above. It slowed down the code, of course; not a good idea in a real-time system.
The company management was not interested in technical matters like that (and the company no longer exists). So they did not follow my advice to get the compiler fixed. Instead they encouraged the over-use of procedures coded in assembler to avoid the speed problem. There were many errors in that assembler code.
"Maybe the challenge of taking someone's mangled, cliché-ridden, gender-biased prose and transforming it into something lucid, balanced and objective is too demanding for AI…"
I had to review many documents written by junior engineers. Many needed a human rewrite before one could leave MS Word to tidy up the details.
The car industry provides another good example to the electronics industry, and specifically to software. Nobody sells a car that needs to be updated every month. The EU should refuse any certification to software that does not last at least one year.
Mind you, I worry a bit about the modern systems of internets-on-wheels.
There seems to be a difference between British and Americans here. Americans resist all government monitoring as if they were still fighting against George 3rd. British accept government monitoring within reason, but object to commercial monitoring especially from large American corporations.
In MS Office I regularly use One Note to prepare the first draft of a document where I am initially not sure what the shape of the final document will be. Its structure of sections and pages allows snippets from many other sources to be parked in a convenient way for later consideration. It has other party tricks. But LO has nothing like it.
Access is much more powerful than LO Base.
These days I do not exchange documents with many other people. But where that is a requirement - e.g. the city of Munich and other parts of the German government - the different styles and fonts between MSO and LO are a nuisance.
Back in the last millenium, the British Ferranti company was persuaded to buy what was touted as a big American software company with lots of US government contracts which were, however, secret and could not be revealed until the dosh was handed over.
The money was paid, but the company turned out to be an empty shell. Ferranti staggered on for a while but then collapsed into the arms of Weinstock's GEC.
As far as I know, nobody in the US took a rap for this case. So HP/Lynch could be regarded as revenge.
When I worked for Hawker Siddeley in Stevenage, ca 1973, there was at least part of a Blue Streak on the premises. My reaction was, so that is how large a 1 megaton H-bomb warhead is. But later I read there were many dummies in that warhead to confuse the enemy. So maybe not so large.
"...external printing shops..."? What print shops?
There used to be two print shops in every street, but not nowadays. As secretary of a committee I used to use them, but nowadays committees are run by email. Often there is only one copy of a document in a committee meeting.
Diplomatic immunity is an excellent thing. Would we want our own diplomats in various hostile countries liable to be arrested for road accidents etc. Although the Sacoolas incident was a genuine road accident, it would not be beyond our enemies to concoct a road accident.
The proper response to the Sacoolas incident is at diplomatic, government to government level. Some kind of sanction by us against the US Government until a satisfactory apology and compensation. Maybe the USG has offered this, but Dunn's parents are being unrealistic.
I was stuck in a French town one Bastille Day: everything was closed except the local museum. So there I went.
There was a fascinating section on the German occupation during WW2. Gestapo identity cards, knives, pistols... Then there was the town map: the main square renamed to Adolf Hitler Platz, the main street to Adolf Hitler Strasse.
Later, when I told my German friends, they felt (light-heartedly) there were possibilities in that naming scheme.
The article quotes a rise in sea level of 5cm in 11 years. This is roughly 20 inches per century.
Since the peak (trough?) of the Ice Age 20,000 year ago, sea level has risen about 300 feet, or 18 inches per century, with almost all of that long before men were burning coal and oil. It is good to see these changes continuing at about their pre-industrial level.
You are spot on about 'some "harmless" change in another piece of code'. I had to deal with some free() statements that had been a long way away from the original malloc() statements. Then some 'upgrade' removed the malloc code but forgot the free code.
I concluded that a lot of programmers never really understood pointers.
Not just CO2 but hot air in general.
It is time the authorities listened to the geologists and not the eco-freaks. Geology tells us the history of planet Earth. In particular, for most of the time since the Cambrian era, 550 million years ago, the planet has been much warmer than it is now. Ice ages have come and gone without human intervention. So there are natural reasons why the climate varies from one epoch to another, and these natural causes dwarf any human effort. That means all these eco-carbon policies are a complete waste of time, effort, and money.
Your first reference deals with the last 2,000 years. I was talking about the last 20,000 years, when our ancestors could walk from Biarritz to Brittany, Cornwall, Pembroke, and Ireland with only a few river crossings. It was 7,000 years ago (5,000BC) that the sea broke through between Calais and Dover.
I stand by my claim that most of the 300 feet rise in sea level was long before the industrial era.
Well said, Jimmy. There is the organic carbon cycle, CO2 -> plants -> animals -> CO2; and there is an inorganic cycle, silicate rocks -> carbonate rocks -> silicate rocks. The inorganic cycle is vastly greater than the organic cycle, driven by geophysical processes.
Our burning of coal and oil is merely a part of the organic cycle, and has a negligible effect on the overall carbon situation. Sea level has risen some 300 feet (ca 90 metres) in the last 200 centuries, but industrial carbon burning has been only in the last two centuries. Most of the sea level rise came before the industrial burning.
That proves your point, Jimmy, that things are not well understood.
If your aim is to change the format rather than just cut and paste, I recommend a program called Pandoc. This will convert a wide domain of input formats into an extensive range of outputs. It was written by an American academic and since extended by others; and is available in Windows and Linux versions.
@Paul Cooper, @NetBlackOps
I guess I did not make myself clear. I am not expecting secretaries, civil servants, managers, accountants etc. to understand binary numbers and disk tracks and sectors. But I believe they should be expected to understand how to create, save, copy, or email a document or spreadsheet.
I realise from these Reg reports that they don't, and I blame the schools. This is indeed what Paul stated: "it's education in using IT to carry out certain limited tasks".
Equally I do not expect most people to understand the axioms of number theory by Peano, or the formidable reformulations of nouns and verbs that constitute grammar as it is taught today. But I do think they should be expected to read and write words and numbers. Many of them don't, of course.
It is a recurring theme of this column that there is a vast gulf between what users are reasonably expected to know and how little they actually know.
I thought in these modern times it was the duty of the schools to give people a basic competence in computing, just as is supposed to happen with English and Arithmetic. Er, ...
Half the population is below average, and about a sixth are more than one standard deviation below average. But the beancounters think it is cheaper to employ the lower half. Which half do you think the beancounters come from?
One expects these shoddy shortcomings from profit-oriented companies. But from idealistic communist enterprises surely not? Actually, more likely than not.
These findings seem to support earlier findings from the British monitoring of Huawei, of shoddy software. Perhaps all the good programmers get to work for elite hacking teams, and only the rubbish have to find "commercial" jobs.
When I worked for the London office of a US company, I always wrote dates in documents and emails as dd-mmm-yyyy. So today is 26-Jun-2019.
But for databases, 20190626 is much better.
Excel stores dates as integers, but displays them as dates, if you mark the cell as date format. So 20140 becomes 20/02/1955. The Tesco claim of Julian date is nonsense: a Julian date is a pure integer, not some combination of year and day-number.
Dr S mentions Tesseract. Other products are ABBYY reader and Adobe Acrobat; and as the article mentions, One Note. I have used all these others. ABBYY I find the best if I want to reflow the text into different page sizes or columns, and Acrobat the best if I want to preserve the original appearance of the document. One Note turns each line into a new paragraph -- not good for reflowing text.
None of them work well against cursive or script fonts, and they all fail with handwritten images.
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