* Posts by Primus Secundus Tertius

1542 publicly visible posts • joined 31 Oct 2010

IT worker sued over ‘vengeful’ cyber harassment of policeman who issued a jaywalking ticket

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Re: Strange thing to do someone for

I once spent a holiday in Morocco. There, they paint zebra crossings on the road but neither pedestrians nor motorists pay any attention to them. Sometimes I wondered whether motorists there knew the difference between right and left.

UK PM Sunak calls election, leaving Brits cringing over memory of his Musk love-in

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Re: Disappointing

If Brentry had been so successful, the remainers should have got 60% or more of the vote. They did in 1975, before the EU robbed us of our duty-free allowances etc. etc. The truth is that most of us never felt particularly european, not when everything seemed so tilted against us.

Back in the 1960s, passports and other paperwork were fading away. Now they are back with a vengeance, a euro-vengeance. Are they really our allies? How much longer do we want to stay in NATO?

Council claims database pain forced it to drop apostrophes from street names

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Is the leader of China Mr Eleven Chin Ping?

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Re: apostrophe problems

Either, under the hands of an apathetic typist.

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apostrophe problems

The problem with the apostrophe is whether it is the ASCII vertical apostrophe or the literary freaks' curly apostrophe. No wonder databases don't find what you want.

Twilio cofounder buys The Onion

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Re: Onion unpeeled

They know they have readers in the UK, and do publish 'reports' about us. E.g. the US Treasury stealing the Cullinan diamond to raise a bit of cash.

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Re: Onion unpeeled

Have an upvote for your remark about their slideshow format.

US reckons it's about time the Moon had its own time zone

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Gravity-free standard

It would make more sense to define a time standard in a gravity-free zone. Earth, moon, Jupiter, the centre of our galaxy, would then be variants of the standard.

So set up a standard half way between our galaxy and Andromeda. OK, there may be a few technical comms problems with the distances involved, but unless we have the technology to overcome that, the whole discussion about time zones is pointless.

Time to examine the anatomy of the British Library ransomware nightmare

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Force of Islam

As I understand it, the Lib. of A. was finally destroyed by the forces of Islam. Who needs any other source of information when you have their particular Holy Book? Mind you, it may have suffered cuts in government expenditure long before that.

Apple iPhone AI to be powered by Baidu in China, maybe

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In the days when El Reg was a British publication, its writers would have known that.

Yes, I did just crash that critical app. And you should thank me for having done so

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Proper testing

"to be as dastardly as possible in testing systems!"

That's the way it ought to be done. Test the error cases, not just the one that is supposed to work.

Climate change means beer made from sewer water, says North Carolina brewery

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Excrement of yeast

Beer is just the excrement of yeast. Best to distil it to whisky to remove the contaminants.

Trident missile test a damp squib after rocket goes 'plop,' fails to ignite

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Re: What the hell?


"Of course they're diesel-electric"

At one place I worked, a secretary was never allowed to forget her "diesel-elastic submarine".

RIP John Walker, software and hardware hacker extraordinaire

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Re: Kids (and Marketers) These Days Eliminating Vowels to be "Cool"

Ancient languages, e.g. Sumerian, Akkadian, were written with only the consonants. But when you have dialects, the consonants generally sound similar but the vowels can sound very different; for example, in American English, British English, and various others.

When red flags are just office decoration: Edinburgh Uni's Oracle IT disaster

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Management and Jargon

The PA document is stiff with management jargon. I do realise it would be a lot longer if written in clear English, but it would be far more useful if it had been.

It is a classic example of a document written for the benefit of the authors rather than for the people who need to read it. For that reason I fear it will not help to improve future systems at Edinburgh University. It is an example of a major problem in this disaster of a project: that nobody was discussing matters frankly and clearly with the working staff who would be directly affected, in terms that those workers would understand.

One small item among its findings was close to my heart: the poor quality of the data in the preceding systems, so it took much longer to achieve a clean set of data in the new system. At various times I have had to clean up membership lists of various organisations, in which names, addresses, and dates were recorded in slightly different ways by my various predecessors. That matters little if all the list is used for is to print address labels; but when you also want to analyse membership by location, and do financial things, consistency of data is essential.

Robots with a 'Berliner Schnauze' may appear more trustworthy to locals

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High or low?

Hoch Deutsch oder platt Deutsch? Das ist die Frage.

Tesla owners in deep freeze discover the cold, hard truth about EVs

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Petrol 1 : Electric 0.

If you believe the man-made global warning freaks, using petrol engines reduces the risk of a freezing winter.

Not even poor Notepad is safe from Microsoft's AI obsession

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Re: Its a bloody text editor!!!

I find spell checkers very useful - not because I cannot spell but because I am a poor typist. But only in a word processor, not in Notepad.

Spell checkers are also useful for OCR text or text that has been dictated or transcribed. Or indeed text from many other people.

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What I need

I always wanted a facility to reduce text to basic ascii characters only: replace curly quotes with straight ascii quotes; replace en-dash, m-dash, and arithmetic minus with a plain hyphen; replace any other fancy character with a question mark.

I can use a full word processor to restore the fancy characters if I need to.

Road to Removal: A blueprint for yanking billions of tons of CO2 out of our atmosphere

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Natural CO2

There are of the order of a million million tons of CO2 in the atmosphere. Sounds a lot, but is trivial by planetary standards. Natural events have in the past meant that sometimes there is a lot more, sometimes a lot less. The first major failing of this article is that it fails to discuss those natural processes.

The second major failing of this article is that it fails to discuss the oceans. There is a thousand times as much CO2 in the oceans, dissolved or as carbonates, than there is in the atmosphere. If we did somehow withdraw 1.0E9 tons of CO2 from the atmosphere, .99E9 tons would be released from the oceans to restore equilibrium.

What are those 'natural processes' I mentioned? I suggest emission from the junctions of tectonic plates, as CO2 is expelled from subducted carbonate rocks. Expelled into the ocean, where we do not directly see it, but still dwarfing any man-made emissions.

It is time to stop the hot air about CO2, and to start preparing ourselves for an inevitable further rise in sea level to a geological long term normality.

Scribbling limits in free version of Evernote set to test users' patience

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Re: No good to me

I'm glad to see someone else besides me uses One Note. It is slightly less likely that MSFT will scrap it, as they are about to scrap Wordpad.

Share your 2024 tech forecasts (wrong answers only) to win a terrible sweater

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Re: Finally...

And finally no longer relies on a Java Runtime for half its features.

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It will be the cats that rule. They will soon sort out the mice.

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Debug Windows

I forecast that Microsoft will use their investment in AI to get it to produce version 12 of Windows totally free from bugs.

Euclid space 'scope's first color snaps pull back the curtain on cosmic mysteries

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The universe is vast, pitiless, and godless.

UK may demand tech world tell it about upcoming security features

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Re: Politicians

That is what representative democracy means. Politicians have a lot in common with ordinary people.

Word turns 40: From 'new kid on the block' to 'I can't believe it's not bloatware'

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Re: first time I saw MS Windows

It is quicker for a typist to type it than to OCR it and then apply corrections. But for a dumbfinger techie, OCR is quicker. Even for documents from 'old steam typewriters' or those printed in the 19th century or earlier.

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Re: four decades on ...

I had to use Latex at one time in my career. I am so glad to be shot of it.

I hate being expected to remember control keys and keywords for every documentary tweak. An 'intelligent' computer should make that easy for me, and Word does that. Even Word 5 for DOS, which I have looked at out of curiosity.

French IT behemoth Atos facing calls for nationalization as it tries to restructure

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X for twits

"On the site formerly known as Twitter"

It is time to refer to that site as Xitter, pronounced with an initial 'sh'.

Element users are asking for protection against government encryption busting

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Contracts must comply with laws

It is nonsense to suggest that a contractual clause will override a statutory right by government to insist on seeing the decrypt. But the point at issue is how the government can demand the key that was used for a standard encryption algorithm. If the key is provided by the comms company, the government can demand that they provide it, or drive them out of business if they do not. If the key is provided by the customer, it depends. The government cannot compel another state, or the United Nations, to cough up the key.

Windows 10's latest update issue isn't a bug but a feature – to test your patience

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How old?

"Not a bug, but a feature"

I first met that nonsense with DEC software in the 1970s, but I wonder if it is even older than that.

Excel Hell II: If the sickness can't be fixed, it must be contained

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A bad workman blames his tools.

Can open source be saved from the EU's Cyber Resilience Act?

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GB left the EU

Various commenters on el Reg have been sniffy about Britain's decision to leave the EU. This article shows how badly the EU behaves to small groups, and that attitude by the EU was a major factor in Britain's decision to leave.

Excel recruitment time bomb makes top trainee doctors 'unappointable'

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Re: "The interview scores are stored in an Excel spreadsheet"

Every database, from a set of data cards to a spreadsheet to an SQL Monstrosity needs someone whose primary job is to keep that data in good shape. In a small office that may be just one hour per day, but it has to be done.

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MS Access is only there if you use Office Pro. It is not there is the cheaper Office Business.

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Excel for dodgy databases

Excel is a wonderful tool for a knowledgeable user. But it is a disaster when clerical staff are expected to use it directly from their keyboards.

At the very least there should be an Access screen, or equivalent, which will do some checking on what is typed in. Excel sheets should be in the background, after being professionally designed and at least with data-types to distinguish dates, numbers, and text.

Hell no, we won’t pay, says Microsoft as Uncle Sam sends $29B bill for back taxes

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They have a long history of that: e.g. dodging import duties on tea in the 1770s.

Bennu unboxing shows ancient asteroid holds carbon and water

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If bacteria tootle around the galaxy on interstellar meteorites at approximately 1/10,000 of the speed of light, they could travel the galaxy's diameter of 100,000 light years in about 10**9 years. But bacteria might not survive for more than 10**6 years, so it would take many separate steps for bacteria to span the galaxy.

Other galaxies, even Andromeda, are too far away for their bacteria to have reached us.

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Tired of headlnes

We know there are plenty of simple organic molecules kicking around the galaxy, and they would have been there on early Earth. But we do not yet know how they became the intricate and precise molecules of proteins, RNA, DNA, or cellulose.

I am tired of these headlines about 'the key to life' when we are as far from ever from explaining the origins of RNA etc.

New information physics theory is evidence 'we're living in a simulation,' says author

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Re: It must be bugged.

"we are already living in a simulation created by a post-human society"

Our invisible galactic overlords will not allow us to become too self-aware. 65 million years ago they bombed the dinosaurs into extinction because some of them were getting smarter than could be allowed. But the bombing was disguised as a meteor impact.

Our overlords may be thinking that another 'zoological weeding' is due.

FTC: Please stop falling for social media scams, you've given crooks at least $650M so far this year

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In my case

"don't believe messages from a "friend" claiming to need money and asking you to pay with crypto or gift cards"

I had such a message, apparently from one of my cousins. I checked with a mutual cousin, and that account had indeed been hacked.

Beethoven and Brahms move audience members to synchronization symphony

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Other sharing

Brahms and Liszt seem to cause a shared abandonment of coherent perception.

5G satellite briefly becomes brightest object in night sky

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It has been suggested that telescopes be built on the far side of the moon. That would dodge the army of satellites in earth orbit, but, gulp..., the expense!

DISH must pay for bungled orbit change in landmark space debris penalty

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Query enforcement

I do not see that the FCC can now force the orbit to be further changed. What they have done is punishment, not enforcement.

Scandium-based nuclear clocks promise punctuality for next 300 billion years

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Re: Accuracy v. going rate?

Indeed, what is absolute time? Einstein taught us that observers who are moving, or accelerating with respect to each other, will measure different times.

Mozilla's midlife crisis has taken it from web pioneer to Google's weird neighbor

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Saving pages

I save web pages, such as this one, into my personal archive. Firefox generally succeeds in saving pages, but I found Internet Explorer often failed to save them. I avoid Edge because MS are so aggressive these days.

Probe reveals previously secret Israeli spyware that infects targets via ads

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How to pay

If people were willing to pay upfront for internet services, the ad industry would hardly exist.

UK civil servants – hopefully including those spending billions on tech – to skill up in STEM

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Re: An amusing way to waste public money.

No politician could do a statistical analysis of said rats. Indeed, not every scientist could.

Scared of flying? Good news! Software glitches keep aircraft on the ground

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Design for errors

Designing systems to cope with errors, i.e. raw user input, is difficult. To give constructive error messages you have to parse a range of inputs that include error cases, not just the perfect working case. So system design is a bigger and more expensive task, not always appreciated by techies let alone by beancounters.

Farewell WordPad, we hardly knew ye

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Just the text

I prepare documents in Word. But sometimes, when distributing my files to friends, I run them through Wordpad to reduce their size (typically from 15KB to 4KB), and to remove the serial number of my copy of MS Office.