* Posts by BinkyTheMagicPaperclip

1128 posts • joined 11 May 2012


'It's really hard to find maintainers...' Linus Torvalds ponders the future of Linux

BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

Re: The next generation will attempt to port the kernel to Javascript...

You do know that multi threaded programming has been fully possible in C right from Windows NT 3.1, not to mention OS/2 in the 80s? (Although the file dialog is written in C++, and calls a lot of interfaces).

Microsoft are not stupid, and each new release of Windows has been optimised beyond the previous one (Yes, sometimes this is accompanied by a lack of flexibility or functionality, or increase in requirements in other areas).

If the file dialog doesn't populate bit by bit, there's a reason for it.

BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

Re: I wonder why?

Set up your kernel debugger (preferably on a pair of VMs if you can), choose the area you want to change, read the code, start making modifications, repeat until bug free. If you've been coding for 20 years you'd definitely be up to the task.

There's plenty of people to ask about kernel hacking, and if you need to do architecture specific functions, processor documentation is usually pretty decent. It's when you need to prod specific chipsets and add-on card that specifications are less available.

I'm shortly about to start some kernel mods for an open source OS to add functionality to an older system, and once I get the hang of that, something more complex. I know which bit of code it's running (because the module is named, and relates directly to a source code file), so the first task is a breakpoint. Then step through till it gets to the 'your system is too old' part. At that point improve the error message/check the logic to ensure it's rejecting the system using the correct method.

If I understand that bit I then know what new functionality is required, which means reading the documentation for kernel support functions and processor datasheets, all of which is actively available, plus some coding in C and assembly. I'm not expecting it to be easy, but I at least know what I need to do.

BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

It's really hard to find people to do a generally thankless task

Gosh, wonder why that could be?

I mean if you want an extreme example, there's the ncurses library maintainership hassle : https://invisible-island.net/ncurses/ncurses-license.html

Thankless job at the best of times, even worse when you can't easily fire someone.

Microsoft has a cure for data nuked by fat fingers if you're not afraid of the command line

BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

Re: no chance that the $#@&$ Registry will be replaced

The registry was actually introduced in Windows 3.1, then the usage was greatly increased in Windows NT/95, as thousands of configuration files aren't always easy to use.

This was prior to widespread use of DVD, or anything similar to HDCP, so I don't see why you're pushing the DRM angle.

I would imagine that they're storing file deletion locations 'somewhere' in NTFS without bumping the file system version number, because as you say the underlying disk format hasn't changed for ages (actually since XP).

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

BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

Re: Who was really at fault?

Oh dear.

Various rules for a hassle free life

1) Before you go out of somewhere, make sure you have access to get back in

2) Check for toilet roll before sitting on the toilet

You've duked it out with OS/2 – but how to deal with these troublesome users? Nukem

BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

Re: Expensive

It did, but here they're talking about Duke Nukem 3D, the first 3D Duke Nukem game.

BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

Re: Expensive

The Virge is a terrible accelerator, but it's a solid card for 2D, and works well in DOS too.

BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

Timing is off..

To be picky, that wouldn't be OS/2 Warp, it'd be OS/2 2.1 at most

Windows '95 was out in.. guess

Windows 3.1 was released on April '92

OS/2 2.0 was also released April '92

2.1 end of March '93

3.11 November '93

Warp was October '94, Connect versions in 95

Then Warp 4 in '96, IBM having wasted a lot of time with the stillborn OS/2 PowerPC in the interim.

Duke Nukem was pretty good at the time though, it's still fun today using eDuke32 (although the first episode is the best, I lose interest part way through the second)

Open-source, cross-platform and people seem to like it: PowerShell 7 has landed

BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

Re: What's the point of it on *nix?

Yes, I know this as I alluded to in my reply.

However, for automated processes a long chain of utilities is only 'reliable' because a great deal of care has been taken with the output, and people have shouted when output breaking changes occur (which they have). Getting to the people shouting stage, rather than having an object pipeline is not ideal.

I am also aware that there's effort underway to convert utilities to use libxo, which should make output less fragile.

BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

Re: What's the point of it on *nix?

I mostly like Powershell, but it's definitely not perfect.

However, if you're comparing its strengths (defined interface, some documentation), against a series of single purpose Unix utilities where the output can never be modified as it'll break things it's clear Powershell has the better architecture.

I'd rather use Python, C, etc than either given the choice though.

Amazon staffer based just a stone's throw away from Seattle HQ tests positive for COVID-19 coronavirus

BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

Re: Respirators

There's definitely a degree of that, but we all know vulnerable people, our parents and grandparents at least. The health service is likely to take a hammering, but if most people can last without medical assistance, then there's more resource for the vulnerable and badly affected. It could be much worse.

BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

Re: Doesn't check out

Absolutely, I just wanted to counter flu being a solved issue - it isn't, we've just managed to reduce its seriousness most years.

BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

Re: Doesn't check out

Point of note, flu is imperfectly vaccinated against. Health professionals look at the strains circulating, find a few of the most probable ones to spread, and create a vaccine from them.

If they're correct about the most virulent strains then the vaccine works and there are minimal infections, but if they're wrong the vaccine has no effect.

Fancy that: Hacking airliner systems doesn't make them magically fall out of the sky

BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

Wait, you're telling me that the scenario in Die Hard 2 wouldn't work?

Truly, I am shocked..

Unsurprised, but pleased by the outcome.

If you're serious about browser privacy, you should probably pass on Edge or Yandex, claims Dublin professor

BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

It might help if applications supported 'paste preview'

Better still is the return of distinct search and browsing entryfields, and not automatically (hello, Windows 10), sending application/file searches to the Internet.

However, it's not uncommon to paste things that ideally shouldn't be pasted into a search engine, and a paste preview could help this.

I remember back in the days of OS/2, of a particularly decent utility that extended the number of clipboards and offered macro facilities - very useful. I'm sure similar programs exist today.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to save data from a computer that should have died aeons ago

BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

Re: Serial overflow...

In that case you should be using ed type editing, and set local echo on, so that you enter a complete line shown locally, send it to the remote all in one go, and then wait for the response.

It's official: In May, Microsoft will close the door, lock the vault, brick over the entrance of dreaded Windows 10 1809

BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

Re: Not Downgrading to Windows 10 ... Ever !!!

MacOS is also Unix :P

BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

Re: Not Downgrading to Windows 10 ... Ever !!!

...which is out of support. Well done..

If you're 'never' changing to 10, you'd better start using Unix now because you won't have much choice otherwise.

10 isn't perfect, but it's alright and very stable provided you do things its way, and use relatively modern hardware. I'd recommend using the Pro version too..

These truly are the end times for TLS 1.0, 1.1: Firefox hopes to 'eradicate' weak HTTPS standard by blocking it

BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

Re: @HildyJ - "We decided on a global fallback"

When you've got 500 terminals that only support TLS 1.0, and the cost to replace them is something approaching £2000 each, I look forward to the complete lack of accountancy input in the decision to drop well over a million pounds in replacing your infrastructure.

The BlackBerry in your junk drawer is now a collectors' item: TCL says no more new keyboard-clad phones

BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

Excellent. Will experiment. Also, I do have the Priv still so I could extract it from that..

BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

The issue with the communicator is that it isn't a phone. A keyboard phone should be able to be operated one handed for convenience, and then two handed with a keyboard.

I'm not saying it isn't a decent device, but it's aimed at another market.

BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

You can install the Blackberry apps on non Blackberry phones, but they're not free and can be run in ad supported or purchased mode.

For some reason the keyboard app isn't available on my Fxtec Pro 1, though.

BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

Re: Looking for Qwerty? Go FxTec Pro1

They've stopped due to Chinese New Year at the moment, not the virus scare, although that's perhaps a factor too.

BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

Re: A somewhat obscure alternative

How are you getting on with it? I have the Fxtec Pro1, but the Titan also has its attractions.

BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

Mixed feelings on this, and there are alternatives

On the one hand it's a pity the very specific niche of secure keyboard phones will be no more.

On the other hand I'm still annoyed that Blackberry dumped the Priv's security updates after two years. The hardware and software was good, the lack of updates unforgivable. That lack of customer service and ability to root meant I refused to move to the TCL Key series[1].

Now I have an Fxtec Pro1, and there's also the Unihertz Titan on the market. The jury is still out on the Fxtec I'd say : the software is not as polished as Blackberry's and I really miss the word selection and ability to swipe in the Priv's keyboard (this may be able to be worked around with software) but the hardware quality is good. It's a landscape phone, which I love, but Android is the same now as it was about four years ago with certain apps only working in portrait despite Android UI guidelines.[2]

[2] Wait! Just tried split screen mode and it works! Rotates the apps to portrait, with two at once in landscape mode. Brilliant.

Still, the Fxtec is also rootable and there are builds of Sailfish and LineageOS available. I suspect I'll be happy once I've made a couple of Android customisations.

[1] Granted, the Priv's hardware was also failing. Despite the fact it is fractionally over three years old, the GPS was frequently dropping out, the battery was in definite need of renewal, and occasional random reboots were a thing.

BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

There have - the Fxtec Pro 1, and the Unihertz Titan

The BlackBerry may be dead, but others are lining up to take its place

BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

Re: Why Privs didn't sell

That was fixed in a later software update that automatically throttled the phone when it got too hot.

Of course, that could potentially have contributed to the longevity including the GPS on mine working poorly after three years.

BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

Re: Support is key

At least the Gemini is rootable so someone else should be able to update it

Microsoft: 14 January patch was the last for Windows 7. Also Microsoft: Actually...

BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

Re: Klingons

Windows 10 is now quite stable, provided you use it in The Approved Manner. Certain hardware combinations just don't work as well. It is on the whole an improvement over 7, but not an unqualified one.

Virtual reality is a bonkers fad that no one takes seriously but anyway, here's someone to tell us to worry about hackers

BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge


Any changes to boundary zones would be easily detected, and for the most part people won't be wandering round their house in that manner (the only headset that can currently sensibly do that is the Oculus Quest).

It's not a fad, we're now on to generation 2.5 of modern headsets (Gen 1 : Rift, Vive, Gen 2 : Rift S, Vive Pro, Oculus Go Gen 2.5 : Oculus Quest Gen 3 (when it arrives) : Oculus Quest S - Quest with identical performance to Rift S tethered, and a more powerful portable chipset). It may not quite be mainstream, but there are a number of things that work well in VR, and for basic gaming quite a lot of Playstation VR sold.

VR headsets are, however, one of the least hacker friendly technologies out there. They only sensibly work under Windows 10, open source support is practically non existent.

Apple: EU can't make us use your stinking common charging standard

BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

Re: We should just all use SCART

The principle may be alright. The reality and implementation aren't.

I still have old DVD players (second gen, mid nineties) and games consoles using SCART. I'd rather use *anything* but SCART - HDMI is brilliant, component is good, VGA is decent if the socket is well constructed, composite is shit but at least it's easy to insert.

That's not even getting into SCART switches which are even worse than plugging them into a telly.

Over time I'm going to move most of my old (pre Wii U, I might leave the Dreamcast on VGA) consoles to HDMI. It's a doddle to set up, and the switches aren't expensive. There's digital options for the Gamecube and Dreamcast, coming for the SNES, and there's at least cable options for the original XBox etc too..

Microsoft boffin inadvertently highlights .NET image woes by running C# on Windows 3.11

BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

Re: Six months in C# Hell

Visual Studio does not need to run as root, and never has, unless things have changed very recently.

BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

Re: "Visual Studio is a paid-for product"

That was well into the nineties, a quick Wikipedia says it was actually 2000 when it was open sourced. At that point Windows had been out for fifteen years.

Sure, gcc was free for Linux, the issue was that compared to Watcom (which was cross platform and a reasonable price) it was pretty shit.

I was mad enough to develop a custom FTP program for Windows NT using Watcom under OS/2. It worked fine and wasn't that difficult. It would have been considerably harder fiddling around with gcc debuggers. Even now they're not particularly amazing, especially with respect to live watching of variables (I've tried a few, they're all a pain). Under Windows such features have been standard for decades, and they're available freely in windbg (and some of the Visual Studio offerings if you're not developing for an organisation with more than five people in it)

BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

Re: "Visual Studio is a paid-for product"

If you're talking about Windows, historically the compilers have been commercial, until gcc was ported at least. Things like Python arrived much later, and Perl was dodgy for a long time.

Remember that Sonos speaker you bought a few years back that works perfectly? It's about to be screwed for... reasons

BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

Hardly. The old OS will still work, it's just that after a while it stops being supported for security fixes and should not be connected to the Internet. Windows generally receives around ten years of support, and most hardware that runs XP will also run Windows 10. This is better than pretty much any other operating system (you may be able to find a very small number of Linux distributions with Super Long Term Support of ten years).

Microsoft continue to support a lot of generic hardware drivers. For more specific devices, it's up to the third party being unwilling to put in the effort to upgrade the drivers.

Microsoft also expend a huge amount of effort in maintaining backwards compatibility. There are issues if you're using a fast track release of Windows 10, but the long term support releases are available if stability is required.

The delights of on-site working – sun, sea and... WordPad wrangling?

BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

I've had to cover the fallout from a less than wonderful dev

A program, still in production, created by a dev that doesn't understand exception handlers, and never checked the source into source control (yes, everything else is checked in, and backed up).

Not necessarily a problem until it fails, which it did. No error message. No logging of any use.

Fortunately a) it's written using the .NET runtime, so later on could be de-compiled and b) windbg is both free and extremely good at debugging. Set windbg to start the program and break when an exception is thrown[1]. Trawl through all the data structures in memory, that one looks like the bit of data it's looking at the moment, and definitely isn't in a state the program will be expecting. Let's fix the data and gosh, program runs through fine..

[1] If you do this, you have to load one of the several .NET debugging addons. Well worth it.

EU declares it'll Make USB-C Great Again™. You hear that, Apple?

BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

Re: Lock-in

Poor attempt at trolling, 3/10.

Micro USB are very convenient but I'll agree they eventually break and the sockets gather fluff. However, it's a small socket, so there's probably an engineering limit there.

SCART is awful. Multiple standards in one capable, too easy to pull out, too difficult to push in, horrible when constructed cheaply. HDMI is brilliant, coupling high bandwidth and sound in one sturdy connector.

There's nothing IDE did better, unless you count connecting two devices to one socket. Routing SATA or SAS cables is far easier.

Parallel you sort of have a point as it's extremely tough, but seeing as standard parallel port tops out at 1Mb/s, and the rarely configured ECP/EPP at 20Mb/s, as opposed to USB 2 at 480Mb/s, or wireless at an absolutely minimum of 50+ Mb/s these days, and more probably more than 100Mb/s. No, I think we can say parallel does not win.

BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

Your toothbrush is broken

I have an ancient Oral B toothbrush which now has to be charged every few days, whilst before it would go weeks. The easiest way is to keep it permanently plugged in, but if you leave it in after brushing in the morning it should have enough charge for the evening.

BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

Ethernet has kept the same connector, but gone from cat 3 cables to cat 6..

Pedantically it's also changed for portable devices. When it originated in laptops it was a PC Card device with a pigtail and RJ45 port (with one notable exception). It then became standardised into a laptop itself, or at least in a docking bay, but on some of the more consumer level devices has now gone back to a USB to Ethernet pigtail arrangement again.

Copy-left behind: Permissive MIT, Apache open-source licenses on the up as developers snub GNU's GPL

BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

Sure, code rot due to evolving environments, and technical debt exist. However open source is most useful when the software is in fairly wide usage and studied and coded by a large number of eyeballs.

When the software is somewhat niche, the only people likely to use the code are your direct competitors. Alternatively, nobody might bother at all - take the case of OpenSSL which was (is) open source, but is considered part of base plumbing, and no-one wished to touch it because it's difficult.

Obviously the trick is to open source as much as possible (i.e. replacing the third party components we used with open source alternatives would save us hundreds of pounds each year) whilst keeping your niche intellectual property closed source.

BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

In the case of work here, yes we make money by running the software and services, not as much by writing it (there are some on-premises installations but they're limited in number, and there are sometimes highly bespoke customisations which have been highly lucrative).

However, if the code was given away other firms could out compete and innovate using our internally developed code, so no thank you, we're not giving it away.

Technically I suppose we could have decided to have zero installations on customer sites, base the entire software stack on open source technologies, and license it as GPL knowing that customisations wouldn't have to be released. At the time the software was written originally, Windows development tools were far faster and more effective, and third party components more generally available - this saved time and gathered business.

There is a load of quality open source available under Windows, because a great deal of effort has been expended porting it from Unix, plus other Windows based open source/free but closed source software. The advantage Unix tends to bring is a more integrated packaging environment.

BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

'It is becoming fairly rare to find a company whose software is not predominantly open-source software'

Really? Really really ? Nice bubble you live in..

I do use open source software here, generally for text processing. Everything else is closed source from the Windows desktop apps, the backend (mostly Windows) servers, the development environment (some open source web frameworks, remainder in house or third party commercial libraries). This is not unusual.

I like open source, use it where I can at work, and a lot at home. However, competitive advantage is also needed, I like having a salary.

Time to burst out graphing: Get the Windows Insider experience... by taping a calculator to your monitor

BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

They released a build with RDP access broken?

The times when I'm not using multiple mstsc clients to connect to remote systems are low, even after converting some of the tasks RDP is used for to Powershell scripts..

Granted, less useful on a consumer desktop, but that sounds like a build breaking bug to me.

The Curse of macOS Catalina strikes again as AccountEdge stays 32-bit

BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

Re: You're kidding right?

There was hysteria, but there were also issues, which were found and fixed..

It's a no to ZFS in the Linux kernel from me, says Torvalds, points finger of blame at Oracle licensing

BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

Re: Torvalds declared: "Don't use ZFS. It's that simple."

Nvidia ships proprietary binary drivers for FreeBSD. You can also use open source drivers for AMD/Intel.

NetBSD supports the Linux DRM kernel interface so it can run recent nouveau drivers (plus AMD, Intel)

OpenBSD supports the Linux DRM kernel interface but does not include nouveau support, it's earlier levels of support for AMD and Intel.

DragonflyBSD supports DRM for AMD and Intel only it looks like - never used.

National Lottery Sentry MBA hacker given nine months in jail after swiping just £5

BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

Re: Oh pull the other one

Certainly don't disagree that in the end the bookie wins. Still, the lottery *does* pay out, and although the way the odds are calculated is hardly in large print it is all listed, and isn't dishonest.

Whilst the lottery don't spend as much on funding charities as I'd like, they do fund a lot of Sport England, and I've seen sizeable grants from them first hand that really made a difference.

BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

Re: Oh pull the other one

It was a scrappy little letter not even printed on proper paper from years ago, and from what I can remember was more of the ilk of 'you should really log on and play again', there wasn't a way to respond.

The ability to blacklist yourself seems not to work very well for problem gamblers spending large amounts of money, if the accounts in Private Eye and elsewhere are to be believed. I suppose at least there is a system now, and fixed odds betting terminals have been severely curtailed.

BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

Re: Oh pull the other one

I don't see how it's a scam. You can call it a tax on the ignorant or preying on the weak but it delivers large prizes at very high odds, or very low prizes at low odds.

The question is whether the opportunity cost of the lottery is significant.

I do play the lottery, I know the chance of being hit by an asteroid is higher, but it's a bit of fun and things I could do with the ticket money wouldn't be terribly significant.

Where I'm less happy is with the instant win games - the chance of winning is high, so it encourages gambling. At one point I was playing a few a week but decided this was stupid so stopped (and have never gone back), the bastards sent me a letter asking why I wasn't playing any more. Responsible gambling...?

Linux in 2020: 27.8 million lines of code in the kernel, 1.3 million in systemd

BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

Re: Lazy upgrades

Absolutely, and FreeBSD has other advantages too, such as a supported Nvidia binary driver. However, I just don't like the feel of it, it's the most Linux like of the BSDs, whilst OpenBSD and NetBSD actually feel like BSD Unix (no, not bothered with DragonflyBSD yet).

BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

Re: Lazy upgrades

OpenBSD is a brilliant integrated operating system provided it matches your use cases. It's great at networking and firewalling, less so as a desktop.

I'm toying with moving to NetBSD as a general desktop once 9.0 comes out. 9.0RC1 has a new hypervisor (in progress), ZFS has reached a state where it looks to be usable on a daily basis (although ZFS on root isn't implemented), WINE has been updated, it has a decent implementation of the Linux DRM interface so modern graphics cards work well, and it uses classic Unix commands for administration rather than the different ways FreeBSD. It's definitely a bit of a quirky hacker OS.



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