* Posts by Tridac

173 publicly visible posts • joined 30 Oct 2011


Don't crack that Mac: Almost NOTHING in new Retina MacBook Pros can be replaced


That's because Apple are cheap consumer electronics quality with added hype, while Dell build primarily for the corporate market, where a down machine costs money. Same with the old Compaq machines - one torx driver to replace any part. Sure, they all use the same componts these days, but it's how they are screwed together. Having said that, gluing everything together in the case provides added stiffness and allows thinner plastic all round, so a win win situation all round, I guess ?.

I see no advantage to buy Apple, when a good quality laptop would have the same or better performance, easy replacement of parts and most likely more affordable apps. I guess you all must have seen this:


Says it all really...

Euro Parliament votes to end data sharing with US – the NSA swiped the bytes anyway


Re: The unsocial terrorist network ..

Right. They may catch a few amateurs that way, but the ones they really need to stop, the most dangerous, are most likely just as intelligent as they are and would never use any kind of traceable public comms system. If you are doing something dodgy, you would have to assume that everything is suspect. Wasn't it Osama BL that used personal trusted couriers for communication ?.

All this snooping on the soft target of computeres and electronc communications suggests more than a whif of self agrandisement, justification for big budgets, illusions of grandeur and posturing and for what end ?. Reminds me of the old Spy vs Spy strip in Mad magazine. Seemed funny at the time. (Heck, did I ever read that :-). Yeah, i'm sure there are real threats, but submitting to all this just to stop the occasional bomb in a crowded shopping centre seems like a bad deal to me. There will always be those that get through the net and we have to accept that.

In the end, it's about the sort of society we want to live in: One in which the assumption is that most people are honest and have decent intentions, or the sort where everyone is always a suspect. The latter encourages paranoia, extremism and has a corrosive effect on all human interactions. Even Thatcher didn't turn this country into a police state after the outrage of the Brighton bombing, so why should we have to submit to it now ?...

Why Bletchley Park could never happen today


I was living in London, near Kilburn when the pub got bombed and was near enough to hear the bang. Compared to now, we had probably orders of magnitude more terrorist activity at the peak of the troubles, but we never allowed that to turn this country into a quasi police state, even after the Brighton bombing. Of course, this country always did bend over for anyone who offered enough cash. The NSA being the current client and gchq getting paid a tidy sum to proxy what can't be done legally in the US.

More cctv than the former E Germany and legislation (RIPA) that allows councils to snoop on citizens who are supected of filing bins too full, or "cheating" to get theri kids into a preferred school. Then, blanket surveillance of everybody by unaccountables and you are already nearly at Orwell's nightmare. Sorry, but it's not ok by any measure. As for "parliamentary oversight", it's a joke, probably because they know they are at the edge of the law and really don't want to know what they are up to. All this, just to catch a couple of plots being plotted every year. Not even good value for money.

As for privacy, some will argue that all this is ok because we live in a democracy, but what happens if we get an extreme right or left wing government in power, with all that "useful" infrastructure already in place ?. The last government presided over the most sustained attack on civil liberties and privacy in a hundred years, but will the country never wake up ?...

PC addict RM finally quits its building habit, plans to axe 300 jobs


Re: Sad day

No, i've not seen any of their products for ages either, but let's not get too misty eyed. Their products were underwhelming and overpriced. I used to buy cmos ic's from their Cowley Rd shop long before they started building computers. I thought their early Z80 boxes were quite good for those wanting to learn about hardware and asm programming, even if they were expensive and stuff like the ribbon cable bus system was a bit of a cheap hack. Suddenly though, it seemed like they were supplying all the schools in the county, when there were loads of other uk vendors building competent and cost effective machines. How did this happen ?. Dunno, but just felt they were in no way working for the common good at any time, despite all the pleasantries...

Again, ymmv of course...



Not exactly, I was the governor responsible for IT when the local primary school was being rebuilt. I got two quotes for the new server and infrastructure, from RM and one other. The other was cheaper by several thousand pounds, for what was essentially the same hardware config, but RM got the business because they had a monopoly on the software (sub licensed from a US company, iirc) and they got the business. There were various issues which I felt showed at least lack of due diligence, or worst. For example, an upgrade quote that included a fibre optic network card (500.00 ukp), when the whole network was copper and in fact, there was already such a card in the server lying unused. All efforts to query this were swept under the carpet by a bedazzled headmaster, at a time when we had to get rid of a teacher due to budget pressures. (I was on the budget committee as well) In at least one school that my OH worked in, there was an RM "advisor" governor, which I saw as a clear confict of interest, but apparently not uncommon, at least in the Oxford area. I would add that i've worked in IT and electronic design at various levels for 3 decades, do understand h/w and s/w, don't like flannel, which is what we seemed to get much of the time.

My overall take on it is that they only stayed in the h/w business for so long by charging top $ for everything and other thoughts that are better not voiced in a public forum.

Ymmv, of course....


FROM MY COLD, DEAD HANDS: Microsoft faces prising XP from Big Biz


Re: Windows XP

Then you should look at the sysinternals "desktops" addon to windows. Free, very small footprint and gives you 4 separate virtual screens. It just works...

On the road with an IT ball-gazer: Forget big data, the future of tech is the 'social enterprise'


Re: Is it just me

"By Social Enterprise, I mean the sweet spot between "social computing" – where we have infinite touch points, dissolving and increasingly irrelevant boundaries, decentralised and at best loose controls, all in an unregulated state where the activity is the outcome. "

More like pseuds corner, if you ask me. Opinions are like ?....

A £30,000, 295bhp 4G MODEM?!? Must be the Audi S3 Quattro, then


Re: £30,000 and it's still only a 4-cylinder?

The politics of envy, one of the most insidious diseases of modern society. Cool to be cynical and a failure, right ? Means they have an excuse not to make any effort, cos everyone knows it will never work anyway. Enough of the bo**ocks, please.

Some people thnk Audi is arrogant, others think they are aspirational. Me, I just drive them because as an engineer, I can look under the bonnet or any part of it and not think I could do a better job. Technical prowess worthy of respect, arrogance or not :-)..,.



Re: Permanent 4 wheel drive

We're a a two car family, 4x4 for the rough stuff, school run, shopping etc and tidy car for business. Land Rovers and Isuzu for the 4x4 and variety of 60's to 80's classic Alfas for many years. Looking round for a good value, strong car for a contract in Ipswich in 1993, 2k budget. Could have been an old Saab or Audi, but finally bought a 90 quattro with 130k miles on the clock. It was a revelation. At last, a car that never broke down, needed no oil between changes (The last Alfa, 1984 GTV6 = ~300 miles per pint when I sold it), actually steered around corners like it was on rails and not a squeak or rattle anywhere. Rarely needed parts / nor had to open the bonnet either.

Not much has changed - bought a 4 year old S2 coupe in 1998 which I still have. Nearly 20 years old and still capable. I mean, who needs a tail happy car ?. Just wastes power in the process of going round corners :-). What do I replace it with ?. The quattros will slide, especially in the wet, but only when really provoked, never in normal use. A properly sorted, true engineer's car.

Even BMW now make a 4x4 saloon, or is it a coupe ?. Anyway, it took them a long time to get the message...


Anatomy of a killer bug: How just 5 characters can murder iPhone, Mac apps


Re: -1 = Error ?

I think you are looking at this from the wrong starting point. It's poor practice to mix data and control / status inband within the same variable.. ie: A function that normally returns the result of a computation should not return an invalid value to indicate failure. Better to call that function with a pointer to the output , then use an enumerated status type to return success / fail. One of the fundamental things about programming is being fussy about data typing and for embedded work at least, you nearly always need to know and track the size and type of variables.

What was the title of that old s/w engineering book ?

Algortithms + data structures = programs :-).

Fwir, a bit anal in it's approach, but can't argue with the title....



Re: Signed lengths

"Tsk! Baby out with the bathwater again, youth of today, general lack of wherewithal, three world wars, shrapnel in the head, wouldn't've happened in my day, flogging too good for them etc etc."

E by gum, we used to have to lick out pond etc ad nauseam :-)

Nothing wrong with the youth of today. They are just as rebelious and arrogantly (un)sure of themselves as we all were at that age :-).

The problem is that programming is now seen as easy, when it never was or is easy to design and build robust systems. While any fool can write a two page utility that works, designing systems takes knowledge of data structures, algorithmics, hardware capabilities and limitations to get the best results. I wonder how many web programmers that you meet these days have any clue about what goes on under the hood, in the hardware, have ever read a book on data structures, or operating system principles ?...



Re: Compulsory casts.

Ime, it's typical of modern programming idiom in some areas, where people are sloppy about typing and sloppy about algorithm design, or just plain cut and paste bad code from elsewhere. K&R and other programming texts actually encourage this by using signed types (char, int etc) as the default, but signed types should only be used where actually needed, ie, for arithmetic ops, with the default unsigned everywhere else. It's the same story with the original C standard library, which tended to use (signed) int or char for everything. There, the function typing is a real mess, but may have a historical context excuse..

Back in the days of assembler, it was quite common to find bugs eg: compare or increment / decrement op, followed by a signed branch when processing unsigned values. The bug was perhaps discovered much later when the value flipped the overflow or sign bit. If you do a lot of embedded work, failure to use of the correct type is something you ignore at your peril and standards like Misra specifically warn against this sort of thing.

Programming != Software engineering :-)...


US intelligence: Snowden's latest leaks 'road map' for adversaries


Re: Any doubts?

Until we are absolutely sure who carried out the attack, what can we do ? and even then, why isn't the Arab League dealing with this ?. It's not our conflict and whatever we do, it's going to have bad consequences.

The first question to ask when trying to analyse any confilct in the middle east is: what is the state of israel's interest in this ?. The second is: Who has the most to lose and who the most to gain ?. Can't answer the first in a sentence, but for the second, it's obvious that the regime has the most to lose, while the rebels have the most to gain by pulling the west into the conflict. I agree that it's quite possible that the regime are responsible. but many military personnel have defected and some most likely with chem weapons experience, so how do we prove who is responsible.

Anyway, we can be morally selective and wring out hands in anguish as much as we like, but if this were in Africa, it would be a non event other than for a bit of verbal condemnation :-(...


Happy birthday MIDI 1.0: Getting pop stars wired for 30 years


Re: One really cool feature...

Current loop ?.

I worked in sound engineering / mixer design in London in the 1970's (shows my age, etc :-) and then went on to work on an electronic piano micro controller design for HH Electronic in 1979. It was an 8 note polyphonic design that used a 6502 cpu and various cmos logic to provide a touch sensitive keyboard. It also had a serial current loop interface running at 31.25Khz, that allowed coupling between two or more pianos, sequencer or other instruments, so that playing any instrument in the loop would play the others as well. The interface used a 25 pin D connector, frame oriented protocol with checksum and, iirc, optocouplers at the receiving end. Software development using a Rockwell AIM65, with the sort of single line assembler where you have to go back later to fill in all the branch targets.

Mike Harrison, the MD of HH, had plans for a whole range of instruments, but the company went into receivership later. Anyway, uk design and many, many years before midi hit the market and very similar in concept...


HP hammered in servers, storage, and PCs in fiscal Q3


Not only that, but a lot of people at enterprise level don''t trust hp any more, after all the mendacity and what they have done with a whole string of aquistions - Dec / Compaq, 3Com. All great sucessfull companies that just disappeared without trace after being swallowed by hp, who, with the exception of Proliant, failed to capitalise on their strengths.. All that and the technical slips like killing Alpha in favour of Itanium development, which swallowed billions of dollars for little in return. Finally, all the board room intrigue and greed that made HP, one of the most technically respected companies in the business, a complete laughing stock and embarassment to many.

They just look like box shippers these days and they need to get back to intense R&D and genuinely innovative product. It was technical prowess that made them in the first place...

Windows NT: Remember Microsoft's almost perfect 20-year-old?


Re: "they got rid of that login method later on"

They didn't get rid of it afaik, in that there's a registry key that can be set to force c/a/d logon or coming out of "lock computer". Either tweakui power tools, or somewhere in the system management menus, provides an option for this. I always use it on machines here as it's a usefull security feature, since it forces logon at the local console only...

Does the RSPCA have your gun licence or car registration? NOBODY knows


Re: Don't Give A Penny To The RSPCA

Had a call from them a few months ago, trying to scrounge money, nice young lady, but I had to explain to her that I wouldn't ever give them a cent if they were dying in the gutter, after all the shenanegans they have been up to. Had read about the 300+K prosecution and more, which quite rightly (effectively) failed, with the RSPCA not being awarded costs. Hopefully that will inject a bit of reality into the excessive consumption of their own coolaid and whatever else they have been smoking. Turned into a not very nice orgaisation and accountable to no-one but themselves.

Gross abuse of power, self aggrandisement, illlusions of grandeur, all apply and from what i've read about the illustrious Gavin, " the continuance of the class struggle by other means", at least w/regard to the hunting issue...


Microsoft warns of post-April zero day hack bonanza on Windows XP


Older windows version are fine, so long as you limit network exposure. I'm still using W2K to support some older tools and know of others that are still on NT4. Sounds like FUD to me - there'sonly one XP box here and hasn't been patched for months. It's stable, works and will most likely stay that way...


Surface RT: A plan worthy of the South Park Underpants Gnomes


Re: I think I've spotted..

I think it was mainly the price. As someone else pointed out, entering a market as a newby at prices of the high end was most likely not a good idea. From the reviews i've read, not a bad product at all. As for the secure boot (EFI ?) and Arm processor, nothng that other vendors aren't doing. Arm was chosen most likely because it is becoming more widespead in trad x86 areas, is very good on power and anyway, Intel don't have anything with that kind of power envelope at all. Arm is also the most widely used cpu range in history, in just about every mobile phone, including all the Apple products, all the slabs that run Android, good development tools etc, so what's the problerm ?. Compared with the Ipad, which is completely locked down and doesn't seem to connect to anything interesting, unless approved by Apple, the uSoft product could be a valid alternative and will have more connectivity right out of the box, secure boot or not.

My lad won and Ipad in a work raffle, has barely used it and apart from web browsing, what use is it at all ?. More style over substance, underwhelming, overpriced product from Apple, was the gut reaction from everyone here...

PM writes ISPs' web filter ads for them - and it must say 'default on'


Re: Sick, sick, sick & tired of this imbecile Cameron

Like Cameron makes all the poilicies ?.

Definately the stench of rancid po faced lefties still embittered about losing the last election. Well sorry, but they deserved to lose....


Re: Jobs bonanza!

There have been open source no charge url filter lists around for firewalls like ipcop for years and being open source, don't have the dead hand of nanny state. The entries for each list are individually enabled / disabled, so you have all the fine grained choice in terms of what content comes into your home.

Some of the content on the internet has no place in any home with children, unless you are really sick. Imho, of course and your mileage may vary :-)...


Happy birthday, Lisa: Apple's slow but heavy workhorse turns 30


Re: Understand the Lisa for what it really is!

Not quite correct - you can still by a m68000 from motorola even now. The difference being that it's in cmos and much faster. Motorola did stop development after the 68040, but only because better architectures and processes were being developed and it had run it's course.

As for the graphics, Evans& Sutherland really wrote the book on early computer graphics, includig a line clipping alrgorithm in this us patent from 1972:


and a complete computer graphics system running on a dec system 10, from 1969:


It may be fashionable to think that Apple invented all this stuff, but they were merely building on much earlier work, done in the days when computers were barely powerfull enough to run any knid of graphics system...

UK CB radio crowd celebrates three decades of legality


Halcyon Days


Fond memories of early cb to keep in touch, after bringing a rig back from the states. In the late 70's there were hundreds of us in west london, some with quite big burners, though you could talk to the states on ssb with only 15 w pep, sometimes on am, on a good day. Handle here was DT522, TS120 rig + Yorkshire Red Rooster amplifier, for those that might remember such kit. Yes, it was illegal,. but the number of users eventually changed the law. Social disobedience from the ground up :-).

Oh yes, cb was running in many countries of the world, long before Mr Goss & Co. Invented it ?. Shum mishtake, shirley...