* Posts by theOtherJT

758 posts • joined 6 Jun 2013


Yeah, we'll just take that first network handshake. What could possibly go wrong?


Re: The guiding principle

The number of systems I've encountered that treat booleans as "True", "False" or "undefined" drives me absolutely nuts. It's not a god damned bool then, is it? That "undefined" should be an error condition. /rage.

Anti-piracy messaging may just encourage more piracy


Piracy is a service problem...

...and always has been. When Netflix first rocked up all the stats show that file sharing services took a nosedive in popularity. Why? Because people don't mind paying for things, they mind feeling like they're getting cheated. As Netflix has started losing more and more of it's most popular content back to Disney+ and Paramount+ and HBO Max and all the others their subscriber numbers have declined and piracy is back on the rise.

I'm more than happy to pay for the content I watch, but I'm not - and it would seem the vast majority of people are not - prepared to pay for 8 different subscription video services to watch one or two shows from each. This is taking us straight back to the predatory cable TV model of the early 90s where you had to buy the family pack, and the sports pack, and the movies pack, and the education pack all separately and see yourself paying for ninety nine programmes in a hundred that you don't care about and don't want.

Music publishing has already shown how this ends up. Once people get used to the idea that they can buy the content that they want - and only the content that they want - they will stop being prepared to pay a subsidy to a bunch of things they don't care about, be that in the form of buying albums with 50% awful filler tracks on, or paying a monthly subscription for something they don't use.

It's sad to see the TV and movie industries repeating the same mistakes.

Bad news, older tech workers: Job advert language works against you


We don't get to chose the language...

...Talent Acquisition does.

I've written half a dozen job adverts in the last year or so. I spend a week or two talking to the rest of the team, and some related teams we work closely with and come up with a careful description of what the job will entail, and from that try and derive a set of skills necessary to actually do the job. Off it then goes to the "Talent Acquisition" team for "de-biasing" before they post it to all the usual job boards.

I use these scare quotes most deliberately.

What inevitably happens next is that things like "Must have X years experience managing..." get removed for being potentially ageist - or weirdly, and weirdly often removed for using sexist language; for example I was told that the word "experience" has a masculine bias and should be avoided - and then phrases like "lively and enthusiastic!" get inserted without me asking for them because it counter-balances the language I've already used, and makes the advert as a whole more "age and gender neutral".

What ultiamtely gets posted is only vaguely reminiscent of the advert that the people who know what we need from the candidate actually agreed on.

I'm told that we use "industry standard tools" to perform this "de-biasing". Assuming that that's actually the case, if there is a systemic problem it seems like the real cause here is that these tools, and the people who insist on using them, are Absolutely Fucking Useless.

Meta proposes doing away with leap seconds


Re: What we need is

nonono, a holdfast and a conjoiner drive clearly.

Dell and Ubuntu certify latest model of XPS 13 ultrabook


Re: It would be interesting to see actual numbers of sales

I'm not buying thousands of linux laptops, but I am buying hundreds of laptops total, which I expect will scale to thousands in the next couple of years. I'd very much rather buy the same model for both Linux and Windows users if I can, so it'd convince me to buy Dell (I mean, I already do, but if I didn't it might convince me to switch if I didn't) just so I can have the same support contract etc. for both sets of machines.


Re: It would be interesting to see actual numbers of sales

I don't have thousands, but I do have a couple of dozen nagging me weekly about when we'll certify a compliant Linux distro that meets all our requirements. The demand might not be massive, but it's definitely not zero.


I had hoped from the photo...

...that they had certified the 9310 generation. I still can't get the finger print reader to work on mine. Other than that small annoyance tho I've had a great user experience with it on 22.04.

Yocto Project gets big backer and second LTS release – but what is it?


I have absolutely no use for this...

...and yet am now desperate to find one so I can have a play with it. This is Very Cool.

Linux laptop vendor Slimbook updates its ranges


Re: Keyboard choices

I hate laptops with a ten-key almost as much as I hate keyboards without one.

I'm so used to the idea that my keyboard is aligned centrally on the laptop screen I just can't type reliably on something with a tenkey because it shifts the whole keyboard over to the left.

I have the converse problem on mechanical keyboards without a tenkey where I end up subconsciously shifting my hands a bit every time I use a keyboard without one because I can sort of see the extents of the keyboard in my peripheral vision and it makes me screw up my hand positioning.

FYI: BMW puts heated seats, other features behind paywall


Re: Monthly?

Nope. No way in hell. That's just encouraging this sort of thing. This needs a hard, concerted "No" from customers everywhere before this disease starts to spread. It's dumb enough with software, the last thing we need is it infecting automotive.

First-ever James Webb Space Telescope image revealed


Re: Can someone smarter than me...

I would have assumed those effects cancel out?

Sure, we're looking at a field hundreds of millions of light years across, but we're also trying to focus on something billions of light years away - bits of it are billions of light years closer to us than other bits. There'd be some really complex parallax effects to cancel out if there were any movement at this end at all.

On the face of it it would make sense for some bits to be experiencing motion blur and other bits not.


Re: Shock and Awe

"you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but listen!"

Honestly tho, my mind is really struggling to process this image. It's too big. Everything is too big. That's an almost imperceptible speck in the night sky and it contains more... everything... than it's even possible to imagine.

Humans were not built to handle this sort of scale. I feel awe and despair in equal measure. If this fails to move anyone, they just didn't grasp the reality of what they're looking at.


Can someone smarter than me...

...explain what the apparent distortion is? There are a lot of galaxies that look to be being stretched or bent - is that an artifact of the camera, or are they actually that shape due to their interactions with other galaxies?


Re: Correction or have I misunderstood...?

God orbital mechanics make for awesome animations. I love that. Have a....

Systemd supremo Lennart Poettering leaves Red Hat for Microsoft


I think you misunderstand me - I agree with all of that, and I'm certainly more a fan of sysv than I am systemd.

But the principle of "no pets" is still a good one. Sysv init scripts aren't pets. Messing around in the init scripts by hand instead of doing the decent thing and logging all changes in git or similar and making everyone peer review the changes is the problem.


I mean, I agree with all of that - but to be fair the "Cattle not pets" approach is still a good one. It prevents the occasional smartass sysadmin who thinks they're above such tedious things as following standard processes - or even just writing things down - from buggering about with a box by hand so that no one else on the team knows what state it's in or why it's doing whatever weirdass thing it's doing the next time they go on leave and you have to look after it.

Vendors are hiking prices up to 30 percent and claiming 'it's inflation'


It's shit like this...

...that has always made me uncomfortable with the very idea of SaaS. Once they have your data and are deeply.embedded enough in your business that changing provider becomes extremely problematic what do you do if they decide to just jack up the price?

Oh, sorry, yeah, the £14,000 a year you were paying for that business critical application? It's £18,000 now, and if you want to use any "advanced features" like SAML for user authentication it'll be another £20 per user per month on top of that. Sorry, economic conditions, inflation, all that sort of thing. Oh, and good luck migrating all your existing data out to another provider because we don't provide that service at your pricing tier any more, only a bare legal minimum "dump the lot as a big flat file" that none of our competitors can easily read.

Europe passes sweeping antitrust laws targeting America's Big Tech


They are not equal...

It is only once we have a dialogue of equals that we will be able to get the respect the EU deserves

...that's a really damning statement. One party is a legally recognized collective of national governments, the other is a loose association of large private companies.

The EU should not be treating these entities as equals. They should be treating them as "do as your damn well told or we fine you into oblivion."

However one feels about the EU in general it's absurd we have reached a place where it sees itself as the junior position in a negotiation with a private enterprise. That's just not how laws ought to work.

Everyone back to the office! Why? Because the decision has been made


As with all things, it is of course important to hire someone who isn't really bad at the job.


The solution is an office general secretary who's job is to actually administer this sort of thing.

"No, you can't have a meeting room on that day. There aren't any available. I'll call you if one comes free."

"There are only 4 people in your meeting, you can't have the conference room. You can have meeting room C since it only seats 5 anyway."

"I've moved your meeting from room A to room D because we've got a client presentation that needs to use the video conferencing facility, and you are only having an internal meeting."

This person knows who works here, knows what all the facilities available are, and knows who they can piss off by moving their meetings around and who they can't.

Sadly jobs like this have been long since removed in the never ending drive for increased profit efficiency.

NOBODY PRINT! Selfless hero saves typing pool from carbon catastrophe


Re: It is always a good idea to talk to the end users

This was a "librarian" which is to say, a tenured professor who had some free time who was given control of the library so it looked like they actually did something other than show up for the free dinners. Definitely not the sort who had earned the right to speak orangutan or been inducted into the secrets of L space.


Re: aaargggh!

Every time I discover a "Please print and sign" written on anything I start to twitch slightly. How? Print how? I've not owned a printer since the 90s. Also print why? You emailed it to me. I'm going to email it to you. Why are we still pretending that a signature means anything? If this is meant to be some sort of proof of identity how exactly do you think that works? It's not like you have anything to compare it to. God I hate signatures.


Re: It is always a good idea to talk to the end users

I ran into something this with the Library Self Issue terminal at a college I once worked at. I got an "Urgent!!!" support call from the college librarian saying that it was down and without it no one could use the library at all and we had to get it fixed immediately.

I went in to check on it and discovered that by "Down" they meant that it had been turned off. Turning it back on and logging into the admin account to check that it was in good health I discovered that it had been gracefully shut down three months earlier and never turned back on again.

I asked the on site library assistant and they said "Yeah, we always turn it off because it's old and it makes an annoying noise. The students only ever come in here to use the internet and that machine doesn't have internet so no one uses it."

Original Acorn Arthur project lead explains RISC OS genesis


So many memories...

...of enabling the little known text console by pressing - I think it was F12 - and then adjusting the overscan on the old CRT monitors so that the single line of black on white text that had just appeared at the bottom of the desktop under the icon bar was off the bottom of the screen.

Watching frustrated Computing teachers trying to work out why the machine wasn't responding to keyboard input at all because it was all silently going into that console was hilarious... well, it was if you were 12 anyway.

AI's most convincing conversations are not what they seem


Re: The real issue

Just so.


Re: The real issue

It's probably not possible to work from first principles - and there certainly aren't any examples of it happening available to us for study, since every known kind of mind is attached to the external world by some means or another*

Even "I think therefore I am" is a massive stretch. "There are thoughts" is probably as far as you can get before you hit a wall... although I'm sure there are other philosophers who would disagree with me.

*or at least appears to be - this whole topic gets stupidly ontological really fast.


Re: The real issue

“Excuse Me,” said Dorfl.

“We’re not listening to you! You’re not even really alive!” said a priest.

Dorfl nodded. “This Is Fundamentally True,” he said.

“See? He admits it!”

“I Suggest You Take Me And Smash Me And Grind The Bits Into Fragments And Pound The Fragments Into Powder And Mill Them Again To The Finest Dust There Can Be, And I Believe You Will Not Find A Single Atom Of Life–”

“True! Let’s do it!”

“However, In Order To Test This Fully, One Of You Must Volunteer To Undergo The Same Process.”

There was silence.

With the greatest respect to Sir TerryP of course.

Herein lies the real problem. We don't even have a method to determine that other humans are sentient beings. We just sort of assume they are. Consciousness is a really hard problem - quite possibly one that is literally impossible to solve from the inside.


Re: Chinese Room

Yeah, but Searle's argument was shit. It defies any purely physical description of any mental process. It reduces to saying that "Because atoms can't think brains can't."

Plot to defeat crypto meltdown: Solend votes to seize, liquidate whale account


"we've been unable to get the whale to reduce their risk, or even get in contact with them"

How can this be legal? How on earth can you have a customer with hundreds of millions invested in your platform and not even be able to communicate with them? That statement alone would convince me that this is a disaster waiting to happen - if any more convincing were required.

Not a GNOME fan, and like the look of Windows? Try KDE Plasma or Cinnamon


As long as it's not the only way of doing it that's not really a problem is it? I agree that discoverablity... if that's even a word... is really important in a UI, but shortcuts are... well... shortcuts. As long as they're well documented I'm not sure that's a problem.


I know it's the pettiest gripe ever...

...but is anyone else put off by how painfully ugly the KDE logo is? I always liked the visual style of the plasma desktop, but every time I Install it I end up spending an hour pulling the thing apart and finding all the files related to that logo and replacing it with something less hideous.

Sony responds to inflation with $3,700 gold-plated 'Walkman'


It's cute and everything...

...but given that most people with real money are on the older side I still think they'd be better off making an actual gold plated walkman.

EU lawmakers vote to ban sales of combustion engine cars from 2035


Re: In other words...

No, petrol is too expensive. The problem is that EVs are much too expensive.


Re: In other words...

Yes. I have.

And as per usual I'm well aware that this is part of the poor trap. It's boots theory in action. If I could afford 25K for an EV I'd save money, obviously, but I can't and financing one would cost me more than just paying the petrol costs since I don't have to drive all that much these days what with home working and all - but when I do have to drive I really do have to.


In other words...

...buy your used car now before you get totally priced out of the market.

I'd love an EV. I really would. But until there's a really radical change in the economics I can't have one. My absolute outside hard-limit on spending on a car is a few thousand, but car ownership is really not optional. There is no public transport where I live at the moment. None. Nada. Zero. The nearest bus stop is a 2 mile walk away along a road with neither street-lights nor pavement. In the winter when it's dark that walk would be suicidal.

I'm not sure anyone has really taken into account exactly how necessary cars are for people who don't live in cities, and consequently how much many of us rely on extremely cheap second hand vehicles. Unless they're planning on banning the sale of actual petrol and diesel, it seems far more likely to me that this is just going to create massive upward pressure on used ICE vehicles.

Activision to begin union negotiations with workers from Raven Software


The tech industry needs a union...

...and has for a long time.

Google calculates Pi to 100 trillion digits


Re: If they were proper engineers...

The New Pie

I love the Linux desktop, but that doesn't mean I don't see its problems all too well


Re: Do they really?

Not sure about that. We do have plenty of people using Macs after all... although a lot of those are admittedly "Because Mac" rather than any other reason, so it might be just as dogmatic.


Re: Do they really?

Look, my daily has been Debian for the last 3 years now and that's great. It suits me perfectly. My work machine has been Ubuntu for the last 10.

Now you tell me how I can sell that to the finance team, the HR team, the marketing team, the FOH team... I can't. I can hardly sell it to the couple of dozen engineering teams I have because they all spent their budget on MacBooks because they wanted something with a native posix style shell but a nice familiar GUI.

It doesn't matter how much I like it because it is simply impossible to get the business to replace Windows end to end. The users won't have it. Believe me, I've tried.

My last employer had over a thousand desktops in their office, and being an educational institution largely revolving around academic computing 90% of those were Ubuntu desktops - which was a joy to administer for me. Regular release cycles. Simple upgrade path. Ability to patch up anything I didn't like... but even there we had over 100 Windows machines for administrative staff who's life entirely revolves around Windows and simply cannot be persuaded otherwise, no matter how much we tried.

Unless there is a single Linux desktop release that can kill Windows stone dead in every possible metric people won't change. It's too scary and they're too resistant.


Re: Do they really?

It's what I want.

Not because I want Windows dead. Because I want it fixed. Microsoft have broken Windows. It's become an awful Frankenstein's monster of a thing with bizarre UI inconsistencies, sudden unexpected behavior, forced reboots, forced upgrades, and worst of all someone then went and slapped adverts all over it.

It is - frankly - a fucking mess. Compare Win11 with NT4 and the user experience has gone backwards. Hard.

But there's not really any competition to Windows as a desktop OS in the business space. Macs are simply too expensive for most companies to issue one to every employee in the same way that they can buy a thousand Dell desktops at £400 a piece, and Linux... well... Linux's issues are well documented right here.

I want to see a Linux desktop hurt Microsoft in the only way they care about - in the sales. Until it does they've no motivation to get their shit together and I and people like me are stuck trying to manage something that's getting damn close to unfit for purpose.

Google says it would release its photorealistic DALL-E 2 rival – but this AI is too prejudiced for you to use


Re: Not the usual tropes again...

In other words "Damn computer, seeing what's there rather than what we wish was there!"

That's the uncomfortable thing with AI. It really doesn't care who it upsets. It doesn't have the concept of upsetting. Or who, if it comes to it.

You get the hard cold facts of your dataset.

The Return of Gopher: Pre-web hypertext service is still around


Re: Gopher never dies

"I'm not"

Repairability champ Framework's modular laptop gets a speed boost


Re: Framework owner

Given that they're still limiting the number of units per customer I don't think people like me not trying to order in bulk is the kind of problem they have right now.


Re: Framework owner

I think you might be right. They've not been in business long enough for me to feel comfortable adding them to my approved suppliers list right now, but in a couple of years I would be very in favour of buying something like this to issue to people in my company who want an ultra-portable laptop. I can even see myself keeping a stock of spares for them in the office - problem with your laptop? No worries, bring it in and one of our guys can do a motherboard swap right there in the office in 10 minutes.

That is a very attractive proposition as an IT manager.

Florida's content-moderation law kept on ice, likely unconstitutional, court says


Hard to believe they'd be so stupid...

...as to remove the only protection they have from the "liberal media elite" posting hundreds of thousands of social media articles a day telling the world that they - that is the Texas and Florida legislature - are closeted, gay, paedophiles who scream constantly about family values in order to throw up a smokescreen that covers their participation in illegal drug fueled orgies.

Which isn't the sort of thing that I would ever say, because that would be defamation and provably false, of course. But you know, if the social media companies are just "common carriers" then they can't possibly be expected to remove such obviously false and damaging lies, or prevent them from trending to the top of every news feed in the world.

...but then I remember who we're talking about. Yeah. They'd definitely be that stupid. Go for it lads. I'll get the popcorn ready.

Bing! Microsoft tests search box in the middle of Windows 11 desktop


Re: "while Microsoft plays with the concept"

Well, that's the problem, isn't it? If it was all of those things you'd never notice it, and if you don't notice it, how can it sell you things?

MS have worked out that Windows isn't going to make them any money. Not in that nice steady-stream drip-drip-drip that big companies like these days. The idea of just paying a hundred dollars or so for something and then you - horror of horrors - don't pay for it ever again must keep their financials people awake at night in terror.

They're just desperate to find some way to make Windows "Relevant"(tm) - you know - get it all up in people's faces so it can extract some more money from them.

The sad state of Linux desktop diversity: 21 environments, just 2 designs


Re: The curse of overchoice

That's actually a really good analogy, and here's why:

Faced with booking a trip in an unfamiliar town you find that there are over a hundred hotels, and you don't know which one to chose.

No one sane in this situation blames the concept of hotels for this problem. Hotels, in general terms are a good thing to have. You want one, in fact. You don't know which one to chose because there are so many available, and people have such differing opinions about them - but none of that is either the fault of any specific hotel, or of hotels in general.

This brings us back to the question of "Well, how much do I care, really?"

If it's a weekend away for business and all you really give a shit about is that you can expense it, you do the absolute bare minimum of research, spending about half an hour to find something within a reasonable distance of the conference centre that doesn't have a bunch of 1* reviews on trip advisor.

If you're planning your honeymoon, chances are you're going to put rather more effort.

So it is with all choices.

Somone mentioned buying a car - well, it depends how much you like cars. Do you have strong feelings about front vs rear wheel drive, the importance of naturally aspirated engine response vs low down torque, why it is that a V engine will always sound better than an I engine... Well, if you do you're going to spend a bunch more time reading reviews and going on test drives than someone who's entire requirement is "I need to get to work and I don't want to spend too much money."

If you really care about your operating system, then invest some time in it. If you don't care just find whatever has the largest brand name recognition and go with that because it's probably not that bad.

And yes, that might be Windows. Windows is a perfectly fine choice if you simply don't care what operating system you're running.

Any choice will always reflect the amount you actually care about the choice, and simply not caring about Linux is a totally reasonable position, bu it's not Linux's fault that there are a lot of choices.


Re: The curse of overchoice

I mean, yes, but the problem is there *are* dozens of different answers, so what else did they expect?

"What do you want to eat today?"

...well, I could go out, or get something delivered, or I could cook, and if I go out do I want to walk or drive because there are these 6 places in walking distance, or I could drive to a couple of dozen more, and if I'm getting something delivered then there's yet another dozen that will deliver to me... and all of that of course is before I start looking at individual menus and deciding what it is that's on that menu that I actually want.

"That's too much choice!"

...it's the amount of choice there is. It's like that because people want those choices. It's the way things are. The alternative is "You're having meatloaf because it's meatloaf day." which I guess is fine for small children, but once you're a grown up that's the sort of thing that happens to prisoners, not free agents.

"I don't care! Just give me one."

Ok. Fine. Pizza then.

"Why that?"

I thought you didn't care? Why not? Because. If you don't care, just pick one at random. If you *do* care, then make a decision yourself. Do the amount of research based on how much you actually care. It's entirely up to you.

Only Microsoft can give open source the gift of NTFS. Only Microsoft needs to


Re: Microsoft should move beyond NTFS

Much as I love ZFS I'm not sure it's a great choice for the standard use case "One disk - one filesystem" setup. Been a while since I did those benchmarks mind - SSDs were rare and expensive last time I did. Maybe the fairly shocking performance hit you got on a single spinning disk zvol compared to the same disk on XFS don't apply any more... If that's then case then yeah, camp ZFS. Sign me up.


re: which is most likely a Linux box running ext4 with a samba share.

...you're not thinking about this at scale. Full Windows shop it's probably ReFS. Under Linux I'd expect it to be something like ZFS or if we're really talking scale: gluster, or ceph, or ocfs2, or gpfs or one of the other hundreds of network distributed filesystems. I've seen far too many very ugly things happen to ext4 on LVM when people thought that was sufficient for heavily used network share.



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