* Posts by Bill Gray

308 publicly visible posts • joined 12 Aug 2014


Apple's iPhone 12 woes spread as Belgium, Germany, Netherlands weigh in

Bill Gray

Re: Follow the money

> What does it matter?

In a sense, you're right, but I'd still be curious. Manufacturers often self-certify, so they have the relevant testing gear around and it mostly sits unused until you release your next product. I could imagine somebody checking out what the competition's phones do.

If so, I'd see it as a good thing. It doesn't seem government agencies can keep up with the testing, and self-certification is apt to be iffy if nobody checks your work.

Mozilla calls cars from 25 automakers 'data privacy nightmares on wheels'

Bill Gray

Re: A long time ago...

I'm a Nissan owner. Could you explain that joke? (I believe you're supposed to reply, "Okay, I'll speak slowly" here.)

(Actually, it's a pretty good car... aside from the data collection. As noted elsewhere, I'm working on borking that.)

Bill Gray

Re: Any way to disable the connection?

Thank you. Your reply (and a few others on Stack Exchange) suggest that at the very least, I need not fear borking the car. (I was reasonably sure that removing the fuse or wrapping the antenna in tinfoil would be safe. After all, Nissan has to assume that you'll sometimes lose the cell signal. But it's good to see that others have done this successfully.)

Bill Gray
Thumb Up

Re: Any way to disable the connection?

> You many not have to worry if it's really old

Yup, I read about some folks with the 3G versions complaining that they couldn't connect to their car. (There actually _are_ some uses for being able to do so : set the car to start heating/cooling a bit before you get into it, for example, while it's still charging. Not enough to make me willing to accept the surveillance.) Anyway... my vehicle is fairly new.

The thought did occur to me that the antenna ought to be accessible. Apparently, these cars have a TCU (telemetry control unit); some comments suggest I may be able to justt pull out a fuse, which is well within my limited vehicle repair skills. As you note, further research is required... I'm finding depressingly little on "how to shut off telemetry" and too much of "how do I get the telemetry to work". But the latter is giving me ideas on the former.

Bill Gray

Any way to disable the connection?

I tend to drive vehicles as long as possible, aided by an excellent mechanic. But when our last car died, I bought a used... Nissan Leaf.

It's actually pretty good, as a car. If you could disable all the "helpful extras" and have it be a battery connected to motors connected to wheels, sort of like a yestercentury car except using electricity instead of hydrocarbons, it'd be Just Fine.

I'd really like to just wrap some tinfoil around whatever transmitter/receiver our surveillance state overlords have implemented. (Or snip a wire or two, or whatever else would do the job.) I'm a software guy, though. Any commentards have thoughts about how you'd fix this monstrosity?

ArcaOS 5.1 gives vintage OS/2 a UEFI facelift for the 21st century

Bill Gray

Re: Compilers?

I've used OpenWATCOM 1.9, cross-compiling to OS/2 from Linux. However, that compiler hasn't been updated in some years, and some limitations may apply.

What happens when What3Words gets lost in translation?

Bill Gray

Re: Was that sheep (singular) or sheep (plural)?

Ummm... well, yes, if the first and third 'sheep' are plural and the second one is singular.

FreeBSD can now boot in 25 milliseconds

Bill Gray

Re: VM vs Process

About three decades ago, I quit my day job and wrote a desktop planetarium software for DOS, then moved it to Windows. When it came time to do a Linux version, I tried simply running the program under Wine. There were a few bugs, almost all of which turned out to be "me" problems (bugs I'd made that had somehow gone undetected on "real" Windows). Fixing these and working around the few remaining Wine issues, I effectively had the desired Linux version of my program, with very little effort.

The required changes were roughly at the level I've encountered when Microsoft created a new fork of Windows (a few changes required for Vista, then for Win7, etc.) You do have the problem that vendors will make those fixes for a Microsoft fork of Windows, but will rarely make them for Wine.

Note that this was about ten years back. Wine has improved a fair bit since then.

If you have source code, Wine is an excellent idea. I'd recommend it just for the ability to catch bugs. I've had decent success with closed-source code on Wine, but when it fails, there's less you can do to fix/work around it.

The choice: Pay BT megabucks, or do something a bit illegal. OK, that’s no choice

Bill Gray


I learned to type on a QWERTY keyboard with the Biblical method ("seek and ye shall find"). When I developed carpal tunnel, I switched to Dvorak(*) and did so touch-typing. Nearly thirty years later, I still touch-type on Dvorak, but have to look at the keyboard for QWERTY.

(*) The carpal tunnel went away and hasn't come back. However, I also switched to an ergonomic keyboard and better chair/desk at the same time (the carpal tunnel was really bad and treatments limited back then), so I don't really know if it helped. The switchover did raise my typing speed immensely, though,

Yahoo! comeback! continues! as! fresh! listing! planned!

Bill Gray

Only! reason! for! this! story!

is! that! El! Reg! hacks! wanted! an! excuse! to! add! italicized! exclamation! marks! to! each! word!

(Though in fairness, it was the only reason for me to comment, too. It appears that as a lowly commentard, I can't italicize the comment title.)

Europe's Euclid telescope launches to figure out dark energy, the universe, and everything

Bill Gray

Re: L2?

The James Webb telescope is already at L2

Also Spektr-RG (Russian-ESA collaboration X-ray/gamma-ray telescope) and Gaia (ESA spacecraft getting very exact measurements of the positions, motions, and distances of about a billion stars). All three spacecraft stay roughly opposite the sun in the sky, but can wander around dozens of degrees from that point. Every few months, they have to apply small maneuvers to stay "balanced" at L2, similarly to how you might move to keep a yard/metre-stick balanced on your palm.

Anyway... the spacecraft in question have lots of room to play in; there's no risk of a collision.

(I'm aware of all this because my day job is with the asteroid surveys. In images, these objects are about the same brightness and have motions similar to near-earth asteroids. So we have to keep track of them, plus some spacecraft in lower Earth orbits. We've had a few instances where spacecraft were "discovered" and briefly thought to be asteroids... in fact, I'm currently in the process of adding Euclid and its Falcon 9 booster to the list of objects we check.)

Quirky QWERTY killed a password in Paris

Bill Gray


I switched to Dvorak decades ago in hopes of relieving severe carpal tunnel(*). The keyboard has US keycaps, and I can switch between QWERTY, Dvorak, and Russian layouts. Which does puzzle my wife and daughter briefly on the rare occasions that they need to use my computer, until they remember to set the QWERTY layout.

Converting 'password1' to 'кфжжбыщр1' is another benefit.

(*) The carpal tunnel went away. But I also switched to a split keyboard and a more ergonomic desk, so I don't really know what did the trick.

Dialup-era developer writes ChatGPT client for Windows 3.1

Bill Gray

Re: One question

I can date this with some exactness.

In July 1992, I quit my day job and started work on astronomical software (a star charting and desktop planetarium program). In spring 1993, I took the ~200 MByte hard drive out of my computer and visited a friend at his workplace; we burned the software and data onto CDs. I think the burner was well in the thousands of dollars range (readers were much cheaper). I sent the recorded CD off to be stamped onto CD-ROMs. I repeated the process a few months later for version 2.0.

In summer 1994, I had my own CD burner (a pizza-box sized peripheral) and used it to burn the master copy for version 3.0. It was a slow device and not something most people had, but they were out there, with Win95 a year away.

If you want a big brain, make a habit out of daytime naps

Bill Gray

Re: Cause and Effect

My favorite example of cause/effect confusion :


Microsoft and Helion's fusion deal has an alternative energy

Bill Gray

Aneutronic fusion

"...Helion will not be putting a 100 million degree, neutron-spewing reactor of unknown design anywhere in public by 2028"

Should note that the reason for using He-3 is to avoid spewing neutrons. The idea is that the fusion products are (mostly/almost entirely) charged particles, whose energy can be captured and turned into electrical current directly.


Thus, you avoid (most of) the radiation problems and can capture energy much more efficiently. On the other hand, you need a much higher temperature.

Overall, minus the phrase "neutron-spewing", I concur with the author. For Microsoft, this is about appearing to care about "being green", with no real concern about whether the technology actually works.

I'm a fairly strong proponent of trying some "out there" methods for energy production, carbon capture, etc., simply because the payoff would be huge. If this had, say, a one in 100 chance of success, it'd be worth trying, because the payoff would be about a thousand to one. You're talking about upending the world's energy supply and ending global warming. If you took that view, Microsoft would have a 99% chance of good PR and a 1% chance of unexpected success. I guess that were I they, I'd put crowbar to wallet and buy in... maybe even if I thought it was 100% and 0%, respectively. (Which I kinda do.)

Uncle Sam sounds like it may actually do something about rampant visa H-1B fraud

Bill Gray

Re: Indian Immigration Visa

Fair enough. Though as a middle-aged US person with only US citizenship, and looking around at the right-wing loons (and some of the left-wing loons, and some non-political loons) in my country with some horror, I wouldn't mind having a backup.

Bill Gray

Re: Indian Immigration Visa

Making this up as I go along :

If I were in the intended category for this program, and I were in India or China, I might be quite eager to "escape" to the United States. If I were in much of Europe... well, it's rare that I hear European/UK commentards on this site speak well of the US.

Agree with the earlier comment that drawing applicants at random, rather than applications (so that submitting ten applications doesn't bump up your chances tenfold) would be a good step.

Microsoft mucks with PrtScr key for first time in decades

Bill Gray

"mid-life crisis" / "over 60s club"

<sad voice> I just turned 61. My life is almost half over. </sad voice>

Goddard Space Flight Center's new boss swears in on holy Pale Blue Dot

Bill Gray

This does have me scanning my bookshelves and thinking about what "holy book" I'd use in such a situation. Perhaps _Table of Logarithmic & Trigonometric Functions_. If the situation involved my profession more directly (I write software for the asteroid detection/planetary defense community), I'd probably go with _Fundamentals of Celestial Mechanics_. Plenty of good options.

Pager hack faxed things up properly, again, and again, and again

Bill Gray

Re: what fun it was writing configuration scripts in the Hayes ‘language

I'd almost completely forgotten about Hayes modem commands until a few years ago, when the scam/telemarketing calls on our landline became a near-hourly menace. (In the US, telcos profit from these and are disinclined to stop them. I don't know if that's an issue elsewhere.)

To my surprise, I found that I still had an old PCI 56K hardware modem, with the ability (among other things) to scan Caller ID data. Combine with a bit of C code, a check against the NoMoRobo database, and those calls got one ring and then were disconnected. (I played with having them responded to with a fax tone, but that didn't seem to help.)

It seems to me that having a PC (or, say, Raspberry Pi) be able to interface with phones, either landline or cellular, ought to be a straightforward thing, not requiring one to have kept some obsolete kit for ~20 years. Perhaps it is, and I didn't find the "current" solution. Admittedly, once I found one that worked, I didn't look much further.

Apple bags patent for folding phone that closes as it's dropped

Bill Gray

Tie a piece of bread, buttered side up, to the top of the cat, and you have a perpetual motion machine. Harness the resulting power, and the battery on your phone never dies.

Can we interest you in a $10 pocket calculator powered by Android 9?

Bill Gray

Re: Ok... I have to ask

Our local recycling center has a "gift shop" where people leave items of possible interest to somebody else. A few months back, I found an HP-15C there, in quite good condition. Started it up, and it worked Just Fine. (I gather they're noted for long battery life.)

A bit before that, I got a Versalog slide rule at Goodwill. No battery issues at all with that...

If we plan to live on the Moon, it's going to need a time zone

Bill Gray

Re: Just set the entire moon to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC +0) ...

> I'm pretty sure it's only so on certain days of the year

You are correct. There is an 'equation of time' correction, which can cause a sundial to run about a quarter hour ahead or behind mean solar time over the course of a year. (Except for some really clever sundials, usually with an oddly-shaped gnomon or other way of correcting for this.) Thus, where I live, the Sun is due south at about 11:36 AM local time, but it can be between about 11:21 and 11:51, depending on the time of the year.

Also, note that the sun will only pass overhead if you're in the tropics, and then only twice a year.

Arm has legs: VMware's Bitnami starts packaging apps for Graviton and Ampere

Bill Gray

ARM has legs

I am reminded of a headline from when Saddam Hussein was still in power : IRAQI HEAD SEEKS ARMS.

Which in turn reminds me of :






McDonald's pulls plug on Wi-Fi, starts playing classical music to soothe yobs

Bill Gray

Re: print car number plates on takeaway bags to discourage customers from littering

> Do they not do money-back deposits on cans & bottles in the UK any more?

I'm in Maine, where it's the same five or ten cents a can. Back when we started with returnables, in the mid-1970s, cans and bottles mostly disappeared from the roadsides. The deposits have been mostly unchanged since then; with inflation, some people feel it simpler to toss the items out the window.

Must concede that while the proposed scheme would identify litterers, actually getting lawn forcement to pursue such cases might be difficult.

Bill Gray

Re: print car number plates on takeaway bags to discourage customers from littering

Probably best if the bag (and perhaps cups and chip-holders and such) have a serial number on them. Most people, it appears, use credit/debit cards, AKA identifying tracking devices, when purchasing fast "food". So you pick up the trash, and the emporium in question can correlate the number with the card owner and their billing data.

At least around here, it's certainly true that ~60% of roadside litter is fast "food" packaging (remainder is cigarettes and soda/beer cans/bottles). I'd expect the legal issues involved would make this hard to do in most jurisdictions, but I'm not so sure there are practical problems with it... certainly something a totalitarian society such as China or Singapore could implement without much trouble.

Literally, look who's back: A comet that last swung by Earth 50,000 years ago

Bill Gray

Unlikely to come back

This is an interesting case (and one I'd not noticed until reading this article; my "day job" is computing orbits for asteroids, with comets a distant second). It'll pick up just enough energy coming through the solar system to put it in a nearly-but-not-quite escape orbit by the time it leaves. Nominally, if there were no nearby stars, it would get about 9 +/- 3 light-years out, then come back... after about 200 million years.

Since there _are_ nearby stars, it's more likely to get picked off from us by the neighbors and go into interstellar space. A few billion years from now, it could eventually be some alien's version of `Oumuamua or 2I/Borisov (the two interstellar wanderers we've seen going through our solar system; Borisov, at least, looks to be a comet that some other star system threw out).

We've seen a few similar cases before of comets getting tossed out of the solar system. It's a little unusual, but not surprising.

Should note that even though we have a lot of measurements of this object, I still have to say "unlikely" rather that "certain" not to come back. First, it's really right at the edge of being parabolic. Second, comets sometimes have (unpredictable) tiny trajectory changes due to eruptions from their surfaces. Not likely to matter much here, since it's big and not coming very close to the sun, but Stuff Does Happen with comets, and again, it wouldn't take much of a change near perihelion to have an outsized effect on where it eventually ends up. Somebody once wrote that comets are like cats : they both have tails and they do what they want.

New SI prefixes clear the way for quettabytes of storage

Bill Gray

Re: ronnabytes ...

There were better options.

I'd kinda hoped that they'd extrapolate from the last two, zetta and yotta, and go with (say) whitta, vonta, urga, etc. in reverse alphabetical order. (I suppose you could have, say, xena between yotta and whitta, but I'd be inclined to skip it.) I don't always remember the order of the "higher" prefixes. I may have to come up with some mnemonic, the way I remember the taxonomic divisions, kingdom/phylum/class/order/family/genus/species, with "Kelly, please come over for good sex".

On the bright side, these do maintain a run of descending alphabetical order.

Elon Musk issues ultimatum to Twitter staff: Go hardcore or go home

Bill Gray
Thumb Up

Re: Just a thought

You beat me to it.

Hey, GitHub, can you create an array compare function without breaking the GPL?

Bill Gray

Re: Some functions are very simple

I don't hate future me.

But what has future you ever done for current you?

Bill Gray

Re: Some functions are very simple

I think you must have been working with some non-professional programmers. (I'll grant you, such are plentiful.) I cannot imagine writing some non-obvious code that came from a place giving a full explanation of it, and then failing to add a few words saying "this is where I got this". I'd just be screwing myself over a few years later when something caused me to have to change that code.

But I do believe you that you could know a lot of coders (more like "code monkeys") who don't do this. I didn't do it at first, as a wet-behind-the-ears programmer at my first job; I had to experience the consequences myself. (I'd done a lot of programming in school, but in that situation, I was the only one who really needed to understand the code and most projects were written and then not revisited. It's not the way things work when you're working with others on a longer-term project.) And one need not look far to find examples of code lacking references to sources (meaning both legal attribution and more practical "look here to read a bit about what this code is doing").

Elon Musk jettisons Twitter leadership, says takeover was 'to try to help humanity'

Bill Gray

So, no plan to actually change anything?

BlueBleed: Microsoft customer data leak claimed to be 'one of the largest' in years

Bill Gray

Re: SOCRadar

For what it's worth... I gave it a try with one of my domains. It came up with an accurate e-mail address (no surprise) and two supposed passwords. One was a throwaway password on LinkedIn, which famously leaked numerous passwords years back; I already knew that one was out in the wilds of the Interwebs.

The other supposed password didn't ring a bell, but I could easily imagine it was leaked by some other insecure site. (Sometimes, I wonder if "insecure site" is just redundant. Most days, I don't wonder.)

Perhaps somebody signed up somewhere with that email address...

Precisely. SOCRadar presumably just scraped various leaked lists, including the LinkedIn one. It'll be a mix of throwaways (such as mine and maybe yours), some "real" addresses/passwords, some for accounts discontinued 15 years ago, and probably a lot that are purely made up and sold to gullible would-be crims. I could see that being a workable scam. After all, if you purchase fake credentials and they don't work, you don't have much recourse for getting a refund. (Or you might think they'd been changed.)

The only way I could see SOCRadar knowing which are which would be to try them out. Some people would probably object to that.

Canonical displays controversial 'ad' in shell update prog

Bill Gray

Re: You say that, but

They have literal mountains of research showing exactly the opposite

Funny, that. My research uniformly shows how wonderful my products are! (Well, at least the parts of my research that I've made public. The rest is for in-house use only.)

More seriously, I could believe that advertising is, in many cases, effective. That doesn't mean it works on everybody. Even if (say) 99.9% of spam is ignored/not delivered/elicits profanity, the remaining 0.1% makes some scammers profit. And somebody once said, "Half my ad budget is wasted, but I can't tell which half."

Micro molten salt reactor can fit on a truck, power 1k homes. When it's built

Bill Gray

Re: Mb99 -> Tc99m

Just checked the El Reg units table, and you're right; there's no time unit. This oversight should be corrected.

Any ideas from the assembled commentardiat, aside from the Gov't (US: Gummint) U-turn? (It'd be nice to have units for shorter and longer time spans. We could obviously have nanoGUTs, megaGUTs, etc., but I think we can do better than that.)

Scientists, why not simply invent a working fusion plant using $50m from Uncle Sam

Bill Gray

Re: I've already got a working fusion power source

Or... we could _decrease_ the power output of the sun, thereby eliminating global warming, then use more fossil fuels to bring the temperature back up. Simples!

The years were worth the wait. JWST gives us an amazing view of Neptune's rings

Bill Gray

Re: A cloud in a kilt

I think the idea that denizens of a cloudy planet wouldn't know about space was common in science fiction before the Mariner 2 flyby in 1962, when it was still thought that Venus might be a hot, swampy, inhabited planet. The only two examples I can think of are :

- _Tumithak of the Corridors_, written in the 1930s (humans land on Venus, are immediately killed, Venusians realize there's an outside universe, build spaceships and invade Earth). Don't remember the author.

- Don't remember the title, but Heinlein wrote a story in the 1940s in which humans have colonized the poles of Venus, the equator being uninhabitably hot. One character explains to another that the natives near the north pole think humans came from the south pole, and vice versa; tell them about Earth, and they think you're explaining your religion.

Both predate Douglas Adam's fine work, and I think Asimov and/or Clarke may have touched on this subject as well.

Microsoft Outlook sends users back to 1930 with (very) mini-Millennium-Bug glitch

Bill Gray

Re: Banking/Insurance

A simple divide-by-four will work between 1900 March 1 and 2100 February 28. Which might have led the above to be expanded to...

3) What's the likelihood this will be used after 2100 February 29?

The nature of the assignment isn't mentioned, but if it involved birth dates... in 1991, my then-100 year old grandfather, and many others born before 1900 March 1, still walked the face of the earth. If it involved hundred-year mortgages, there could have been problems nine years later, on 2000 February 29.

SiFive RISC-V CPU cores to power NASA's next spaceflight computer

Bill Gray

Re: I always assumed that NASA would be ...

Not according to the Intel I've been seeing.

(I tried to work AMD into this, but the only possibility I saw was pretty dAMD weak.)

Microsoft finds critical hole in operating system that for once isn't Windows

Bill Gray

strlcpy/strlcat will silently truncate the copied string. Sometimes, that's what you want, but I find that usually, it indicates a problem. You basically need two functions : one says "truncation is expected in this case", vs. "truncation means something went wrong; stop now and emit a hopefully helpful message."

After years of trying various solutions, I now have supplemented strlcpy/strlcat with 'error' versions. With these, if the string doesn't fit into the specified buffer size, you get a message and an assert() is triggered.

Similarly, I have an snprintf_err() function for cases where a buffer overflow should be a red flag.

In theory, these could just be replaced by the non-_err() functions on non-debug builds. However, 99% of these calls are not in high-performance code. For the remaining 1%, I would use

#ifdef DEBUG

strlcpy_err( arguments)


strlcpy( arguments) or strcpy( arguments)


I've been writing C code since 1987, and have been slow to the party on these points. Kinda wish I could go back in time and tell my younger self about the value of adding in these "idiot checks". I don't think I've had security issues as a result, but Dog knows I've certainly had "code-not-working" issues.

US Army drone crashes hours ahead of breaking flight duration record

Bill Gray

Or it was a signed seven-bit value.

NASA builds for keeps: Voyager mission still going after 45 years

Bill Gray

Re: Correction !

It would appear that we don't need no stinking badges. (Perhaps a change in policy?) Write, for example, <ä href='https://www.rickroll.org'> link </ä> (except without umlauts) and you can provide a link to the obligatory site. You will note I am unbadged.

Google gets the green light to flood US Gmail inboxes with political spam

Bill Gray

Re: Should NOT be allowed to vote!

Unfortunately, I would expect that some spamming politicians either have caught on to this or will do so. If I were a spammer for party/candidate/cause A, I'd craft obnoxious spam (pardon the redundancy) that appeared to come from party/candidate/cause B.

Meta proposes doing away with leap seconds

Bill Gray

Re: Expected more

Sorry, lapsed into astronomer-speak, where "secular" = "linearly changing over time", usually opposed to "periodic" = "changing back and forth around some mean value". The seasonal changes are periodic. The overall trend to a slowing earth is secular.

I probably also should have noted that most of the gradual (secular) change in the earth's rotation rate is, of course, due to lunar tides. That causes a transfer of angular momentum; the moon recedes at about 3 cm/year, and the earth rotates slightly more slowly.

I conjecture that the downvoters thought I was blaming global warming for leap seconds. It's a measurable factor, but that's mostly just because we've gotten really, really good at measuring the earth's rotation. And, in fact, we've had a slight speed-up in recent years; we may yet see a negative leap second. Kinda early to say, but there have been reversals of that sort (all before leap seconds were adopted.)

If we do reach the point where there's a negative leap second, I'd expect lots of arguing in favor of abolishing leap seconds. I'd bet lots of code is not currently set up for such... come to think of it, my own code doesn't account for negative leap seconds, and it'd be some serious work to do so. (Though on the bright side, we don't have the "one second repeating" issue that occurs with positive leap seconds.)

Bill Gray

Re: Expected more

Well, yes and no. We'd temporarily speed up the earth's rotational speed; it would then return to normal. But if we'd gained a second, we'd keep it. Sort of as if you had a clock running a bit slow and set it ahead; you wouldn't "fix" the long-term slowness of the clock, but it would temporarily be closer to the actual time.

Strange as it may seem, the human race is actually having an effect on the earth's rotation, though in the wrong direction to fix this problem. There's always been a seasonal component to the earth's rotation, caused by ice melting and re-freezing at the poles. There is now a secular component due to ice melting and not freezing; it tends to flow away from the poles and, via conservation of angular momentum, the earth turns at a slightly slower rate. This will cause more leap seconds, not fewer.

I suppose you could argue that a side benefit of "fixing" global warming would be that if ice started re-forming near the poles, we might get the earth's rotation rate back up to match the SI second, eliminating the need for leap seconds. Fine-tuning might then be required, in the form of emitting or capturing CO2 to get the rotation rate Just So.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch: Now 100,000kg smaller

Bill Gray

Re: Where does it all come from?

Interesting. Looks as if the plastic removal really ought to be done at the mouth of the Yangtze.

I say that only somewhat tongue-in-cheek. I would ass u me that the density of garbage is greatest at these river mouths. Then again, you presumably also have much more shipping traffic at these locations; running their "sweeper" back and forth is going to be an obstacle course.

DARPA seeks portable muon-making machine to see through almost anything

Bill Gray

Re: negative 450 degrees Fahrenheit

Dunno how "global" this is, but in the US, we have time/temperature signs, usually on banks, cycling between displaying time, temp in degrees F, and temp in degrees C. I've always wanted to hack one to also show the temp in "degrees" K. If I ever do so, I'll try to remember to leave out the degree symbol.

(Though truthfully, I'd prefer the now-obsolete use of Absolute and Centigrade. I appreciate the desire to honor Kelvin and Celsius, but there's something to be said for designations that actually tell you what's being discussed.)

Rejoice! System Administrator Appreciation Day (SAAD) is nigh

Bill Gray

I am shocked -- shocked! -- at the inaccuracy...

"...It also follows Pi Appreciation Day on July 22..."

July 22, also known as 22/7 = 3.142857..., is π Approximation Day. My wife even made a quiche, which is approximately a pie. (In truth, I think it was just a coincidence, and she just happened to want to make a quiche. But it was baked in a pi plate.)

Being declared dead is automated, so why is resurrection such a nightmare?

Bill Gray

The title is optional

Years back, when I got junk mail with a self-addressed prepaid envelope, I'd circle my name and address, write REMOVE FROM LIST next to it, and send it back to the offending organization.

Some didn't pay any attention, of course. So I took to writing DECEASED -- REMOVE FROM LIST (which horrified my wife and my mother, but was more effective.) I still got offers for pre-approved credit cards; apparently, death wasn't enough to make me a credit risk.

Only later did it occur to me that if I ever do need to take out a loan, I'll probably be told : "Sorry, Mr. Gray, but our records indicate that you're dead."

That emoji may not mean what you think it means

Bill Gray

Re: "there are 3,633 emoji in the standard at time of writing"

"...it does seem a little impractical to assign 5.5% of the Unicode space (so far) to pictograms..."

Sadly, Unicode has 0x110000 = 1114112 code points (the odd number has to do with the inner workings of UTF8 encoding). So we've wasted a bit over 0.3% of the available code points on emoji thus far. I don't think the emoji madness will stop until most of the remaining ~million (US) code points have been assigned to them.