* Posts by Bill Gray

224 posts • joined 12 Aug 2014


Linus Torvalds admits to 'self-inflicted damage' with -Werror as Linux 5.15 rc1 debuts

Bill Gray

Re: The warnings aren't always bad code

Hmmm... hadn't tried such a thing, but

int main( void)


*(int *)0 = 0;

return( 0);


compiled with gcc -Wall -Wextra -pedantic -o z z.c got no warnings. Chalk one up for clang, though; it realized this was a no-no and warned me. However,

int main( void)


int *null_ptr = (int *)0;

*null_ptr = 1;

return( 0);


slips past both compilers without warning. (A thank-you to jake for reminding me that one can use HTML tags on these fora.)

Bill Gray

"...I sometimes do this with an ending 'else', comment out an 'if' following it that indicates the condition in the 'else' if the 'if' would always be true (and also indicate in the comment that it's always true), so that someone reading the code (including me a year later) will see that and go 'ok'."

Seems like a good idea. My variant on that has been to use

assert( statement that'll always be true);

both to indicate to the reader that it'll always be true, _and_ to enforce it (in debug builds). Sort of an "asserts as comments" method.

In re "...including me a year later" : as a 25-year-old programmer, I didn't comment my code very well, partly because I remembered everything. Thirty years later, I put comments everywhere.

Compromise reached as Linux kernel community protests about treating compiler warnings as errors

Bill Gray

Re: Not so simple

"...And note that, annoyingly, -Wall with gcc does not enable *all* warnings."

True. I've been using -Wall -Wextra -pedantic -Werror. I'll have to give your suggestions a try; I'm not sure if they're included under the 'extra' or 'pedantic' categories or not.

I _usually_ don't find it too difficult to figure out why a warning is generated and to then take appropriate action to fix it. About 99% of such warnings are harmless nits. But the remaining 1% can really ruin your day.

At one point, I wished the compiler would let me write

#pragma suppress_warnings

(a line of code that generates a warning I don't see how to suppress)

#pragma unsuppress_warnings

I think I would now tell my younger self : work on it; you'll figure out how to get rid of that warning.

Bill Gray

Re: "An unused variable"

An example: I maintain PDCursesMod, based on a library whose specification goes back to the late 1980s. In a perfect world, if I had a function such as

int foo( int variable);

which no longer makes use of variable and doesn't return a value, I'd change that to

void foo( void);

There is, however, a specification of what parameters are passed to foo and what it returns, and 40+ years of code written to that spec. I can't just toss my toys out of my pram and say "not gonna do that anymore". (If 'foo' has an unused local variable, then you're right; that should be fixed. In fact, an unused local variable usually means I did something wrong; unused variables passed to a function are usually -- though not always -- less worrisome.)

I only get warnings when a variable is unused, not that the return value is unused. (I could imagine a savvy compiler figuring out the latter, but haven't seen it done.) To suppress such warnings, I define this handy macro:

#define INTENTIONALLY_UNUSED_PARAMETER( param) (void)(param)

and then, within foo(),


which both says to the compiler "don't bug me about this" and to the human reader "yeah, I know this isn't being used; I planned it that way". (I've become a big fan of -Werror.)

Our Friends Electric: A pair of alternative options for getting around town

Bill Gray

Hmmmm.... if I'm remote-driving a car on the opposite side of the road from what I'm used to, then I'd just want the display and controls mirror-imaged at my end so it appeared as if I was driving on the "correct" side. Simples.

But we do then have the issue that I'd have to read all the road signs mirror-imaged. Maybe it's not quite that easy.

There was a crooked man who bought a crooked M1 iMac, and we presume they lived together in a little crooked house

Bill Gray

Re: Units error

A good thought. As the Wikipedia article says, you can get some contradictory values of π from the "proof" in question, and the bill's author never comes out and specifies a value (his main concern was that he had "proven" that one could make a square and circle of identical area). But the diagram shows a circumference of 32 and diameter of 10 units, for π=3.2. One Indiana radian = 180/3.2 = 56.25 degrees.

Meanwhile, the Bible clearly tells us that π=3, since the font of Solomon was ten cubits across and thirty around. So we could have Biblical radians of 60 degrees. Or we could call them Alabama radians.

(Should note that I read an article once by a Biblical literalist that pointed out that the font's rim was a handspan across, and that the font was presumably thirty cubits in inner circumference and ten in outer diameter. So the rim would be 5-15/π = 0.22 cubits across... with sufficient interpretation, you can make every word in the Bible literally true, but it can take some effort.)

Bill Gray

Units error

No, not the problem that the 0.4-cm error cited in the video became a 0.4-mm error in the article. The more serious issue is that the difference in linguine should have been given.

Furthermore, I was wondering about the angle of rotation from the vertical (I'd notice four millimeters with a smaller screen more than I would with a wide one.) Which caused me to notice that there appears to be no El Reg standard angular unit. I expect the assembled commentardiat could come up with some ideas.

Just what is the poop capacity of an unladen sparrow? We ask because one got into the office and left quite a mess

Bill Gray

Re: Birds...

Ah, thank you for that. We attempted to feed birds winter before last, with a tube feeder suspended with a line and pulley from a tree branch. No problems with squirrels, but birds toss out a lot of seeds to the ground, and we started seeing rats there, sometimes two dozen at a time. I didn't want to starve birds in midwinter, but come spring, the bird (and rat) feeding ended. I may give your recipe a try and see what happens. It should work; squirrels are basically just rats with more fur.

Bill Gray

Re: Birds...

I believe TRT may mean "they don't get distressed by chilies". I've heard of people adding capsaicin (or red pepper flakes or similar) to birdseed to keep the squirrels and other rodents out of it. The birds will eat such happily, and the rodents will go dine elsewhere.

ESA signs off on contracts for lunar data relay and navigation

Bill Gray

With some exceptions, lunar orbits tend to be quite unstable. In a lower orbit, you usually crash within months or years if you aren't actively stabilizing the orbit with small maneuvers.

At the Earth-Moon L1 and L2 points, you can appear to 'hover'. For L2, you do need to loop around the point directly over the lunar far side; otherwise, your view/communications to Earth will be blocked by having the moon in the way. Both points are dynamically unstable; depending on how you slide off the balance point, you'll hit the moon or earth or be thrown into heliocentric orbit.

ASUS baffles customer by telling them thermal pad thickness is proprietary

Bill Gray

I wonder. My mother had an ASUS laptop that overheated. I tried cleaning (easy enough) and applying thermal paste (similarly straightforward). But getting the (censored, too profane even for El Reg) heat sink in place without forming bubbles was maddeningly difficult. Don't remember exactly what obstructed what, but I never did get it exactly right and the laptop still runs hotter than one would wish.

Perhaps the thermal pads would offer a solution. And should note that this was my only experience with an overheating laptop. Even though it wasn't Apple hardware, it could be I was holding something wrong.

Nvidia nerfs RTX 3080, 3070, 3060 Ti GPUs to shoo away Ethereum miners

Bill Gray

Re: Market abuse...

I seriously doubt there's an actual moral element involved. It's more of a market segmentation thing. They have cryptocurrency users willing to pay a premium to be able to do more hashes, and a larger community that can't justify that premium. They may also realize the possibility that the crypto bubble could burst; if that happens, they'll be especially happy that they maintained the other markets for their products.

As a publicly held megacorporation, nVidia's main (some would say only) task is to increase shareholder value. It is at least arguable that nVidia has done so here. Generally speaking, if a corporation speaks of morality, I assume a financial motive.

China says its first Mars rover Zhurong has landed on the Red Planet

Bill Gray

Re: Today? At what time?

...And at 13:14 mean local time at the site. (Yes, there is a convention for local time on Mars. I gather some of the folks working on Mars missions have had watches so they'd know when the rovers would be in daylight. No time zones of which I'm aware, though the crater Airy has been designated as being at the Martian prime meridian.)

This gave me a chance to exercise my C code to compute Mars times.

Indian government says 5G doesn’t cause COVID-19. Also points out India has no 5G networks

Bill Gray

Obligatory xkcd


China sprayed space with 3,000 pieces of junk. US military officials want rules to stop that sort of thing

Bill Gray

Yes, the US shot down a satellite. One at sufficiently low altitude that the resulting debris decayed quickly.

There is a certain degree of stupidity involved in ASAT tests. The degree of stupidity involved in choosing one where the bits won't decay for decades or centuries boggles the mind. (The target was an obsolete Chinese weather satellite. They do have other junk in lower orbits.)

Google to ban emoji, deceptive marketing, and ALL CAPS from Play Store metadata later this year

Bill Gray

Re: 30 character limit is limited


There! FTFY. At least it's better than LLANFA~1.

NASA’s getting really good at this flying a helicopter on Mars thing

Bill Gray

Re: Awesome

Not as much as I'd have expected.

CO2 has a molecular mass of about 44; He, 4; O2, 32. So the volume would increase by (44-4)/(44-32) = 40/12=3.33-fold. Cube root of that is about 1.5, i.e., the balloon has to be about 50% bigger in all directions.

Though actually, we'd probably be using hydrogen, not helium. (This is Mars. It won't burn.) Hydrogen molecules leak less than helium does. There is a very slight advantage due to a lower molecular mass of 2.

Still... compressed tanks of gases are heavy. If they leak, you can't generate more. Silly as it sounded at first, I now actually wonder if you might do well to generate O2 on Mars and use that to lift your balloon/dirigible. Yes, the balloon has to be 50% larger, but not having to deal with hydrogen or helium would be a Big Deal.

And, of course, technology to extract oxygen from the atmosphere of Mars might eventually be of biological utility.

As to volume needed : on Earth, a cubic meter lifts about a kilogram. On Mars, the atmospheric density is (I think) about 1% of that, so you'd be talking about needing a hundred cubic meters to support one kilogram, or about 333 m^2 if you're using O2. Which would have to include the mass of the balloon, too. I don't know enough about balloons to say if that's stupid to hope for.

Zorin OS 16 beta claims largest built-in app library 'of any open source desktop ever'

Bill Gray

Re: Wine?

I think we mostly have anecdotes, not data. My own anecdotes : works quite well for older software, and brilliantly if you have source code for said software. I've had to move a couple of (my own) large programs from Windows to Linux, which I did just by running them under Wine. Both ran, sort of, with some annoyances. Some (minor) tweaks to the source code fixed that. I, and users of my software, were happy.

Many (most) of the tweaks I had to make fixed actual intermittent bugs, places where my code had worked under Windows by sheer luck. The problems were really my fault, not Wine's. But had I not had the source code, I'd never have realized that and would have just assumed Wine was full of bugs.

More generally, I suspect that often, "XYZ doesn't work under Wine" means "XYZ has bugs that you won't notice until running under Wine." Which would be a real hurdle for Wine; bugs will occur which are not actually Wine's fault, but unless you've got the source code and can fix it yourself, they'll be show-stoppers for Wine use.

(On the flip side, it did enable me to find and fix bugs. So you could regard Wine as a useful development tool.)

In a way, this is similar to what happens when Windows introduces a new fork ("gotta change a few lines for this to work in Win10"). The difference is that MegaCorp® will make such changes for a new Windows fork, but won't do so for Wine.

Cockup or conspiracy? Popular privacy extension ClearURLs removed from Chrome web store

Bill Gray

Re: practical aspects

Hmmm... from Firefox, I simply clicked on the hamburger, Add-Ons, and entered ClearURLs in the search box. Done in about fifteen seconds. Can't see why you'd go to the code repos?

We can't avoid it any longer. Here's a story about the NFT mania... aka someone bought a JPEG for $69m in Ether

Bill Gray

Re: 100001000100010001111001010

It's an interesting work, starting with many series of zeroes with the occasional ones representing the voices of individuals suppressed by mass society. The frequent use of three zeroes in a row is probably a reference to the Holy Trinity. The sudden switch to the use of more ones in the palette is an optimistic cri de coeur, then settling down toward the end to a more balanced distribution in which zeroes and ones can live together, side by side, in harmony.

I look forward to further creations from this artist.

Delayed, overbudget and broken. Of course Microsoft's finest would be found in NASA's Orion

Bill Gray

Re: Slide Rule

At 56, I'm about as young as you can be and still have used a slide rule. I have a couple, plus a few books of log and trig tables from my teenage years, on a shelf near my computer. I keep meaning to put them in a glass-fronted case with a hammer and a sign : "Break Glass in Case of Power Failure."

Voyager 2 receives and executes first command in 11 months as sole antenna that reaches it returns to work

Bill Gray

Re: Press any key to continue

One does wonder... we lose contact in 2032 or so, per the article; in 2050, we build a fusion-powered kilometer-diameter radiotelescope in orbit with enough oomph to re-establish contact. Surely we can upgrade our communications abilities enough to keep up with increasing distance and the 38-year half-death of Pu-238!

Forget about an AI stealing your job, even pigs can be trained to use computers

Bill Gray

Re: Hamlet and Omelet were terminated from the experiment because they had grown too large

When I were a lad, my father named our first two pigs Porkchop and Hambone, to make sure the kids remembered they (the pigs) were dinner, not pets. Later pigs got similar names.

We imagine this maths professor's lecture was fascinating – sadly he was muted for two hours

Bill Gray

Re: Recording Prohibited

But was it the purrfect crime?

The Ultimate Collection of Winsock Software goes offline for good

Bill Gray

Yup, no bull. It was udderly wonderful, or at least so I've herd.

Wine pops cork on version 6.0 of the Windows compatibility layer for *nix systems

Bill Gray

Useful to developers

Starting around 1993, I wrote and sold a desktop planetarium program for DOS, then Windows. (Self-employed, home business.) When the time came to consider a Linux version, I gave Wine a try. Several things broke immediately. Wine appeared to be unsuitable for the job.

Looking at my source code, I realized that Wine had found bugs. These had slipped by unnoticed on "real" Windows, more through luck than good management. So I not only got my code to work on Linux and Mac; I got bug fixes. There were also a couple of issues where (as best I could tell) it really was Wine's fault, and I had to make some minor workaround to placate it. Not much, though.

Unfortunately, much Windows code is closed-source and you can't do the sort of fixes/workarounds that I did. But if you do have the source code, I recommend giving Wine a shot.

Pizza and beer night out the window, hours trying to sort issue, then a fresh pair of eyes says 'See, the problem is...'

Bill Gray

Re: Proof reader

I have several brothers-in-law and get along well with all of them. You now have me wishing I had at least one sufficiently annoying to be referred to as a "bother-in-law". (Is there a word or phrase for a typo that's actually an improvement over what was originally intended?)

Trump administration says Russia behind SolarWinds hack. Trump himself begs to differ

Bill Gray

Re: Nope that's the authentic voice of DJ Trumpf, the 44th POTUS

By what amounts to a conventionally agreed upon counting method, Grover Cleveland (only US president to serve non-consecutive terms) is considered POTUSes 22 and 24. That makes the Orange Lord the 44th person to hold that office, but also the 45th US president, illogical though that may appear to be.

World+dog share in collective panic attack as Google slides off the face of the internet

Bill Gray

Re: It must be a local issue?

I presume, then, you are unfamiliar with the Local Group of Galaxies?

(As an astronomer, I run into this sort of thing frequently. An event ten million years ago is "recent". Something ten light-years away is "nearby".)

CodeWeavers' CrossOver ran 32-bit Windows Intel binary on macOS on Arm CPU emulating x86 – and nobody died

Bill Gray

Situations vary.

I have a fair bit of old C++ code using MFC (yeah, I know, but it's stuff I wrote yestercentury). Most of it has run in Wine without issues. In a few cases, I had to tweak a few lines of code (usually, a situation where there really _was_ a bug, and it just happened to go unnoticed in "real" Windows). So people were able to run my software on Linux and OS/X without my really having to do very much work.

Admittedly, that was a situation where I had the source code, and actually porting it to Linux and/or Mac would have been a major undertaking. In such cases, Wine is definitely worth trying.

More generally, it's still worth trying, but you are correct that success will not be guaranteed. I don't have a statistical universe of data, but it _seems_ to me that Wine works better with older programs, perhaps because the Wine team has had more time to reverse-engineer the peculiarities of older version of Windows. Such older programs are exactly the ones where you're most likely to need Wine: programs for which support has vanished and where you can't run them on Win10.

Biden projected to be the next US President, Microsoft joins rest of world in telling Trump: It looks like... you're fired

Bill Gray

Re: FPTP must die

Only way I'm aware of for this is ranked-choice voting, which currently exists (within the US) only in Maine. I cast my first RCV vote for president last week; I had a choice of five candidates, and could therefore put the Orange Lord last.

It was not especially important this year, because none of the third-party candidates had much of a following. But in 2000, if the Nader voters in Florida had been able to put Gore as their second choice, that election there would not have been particularly close, and George W. Bush would have had no chance of becoming president.

Bill Gray

Right author (though Nevil, no "le"), different book, can't recall which. His autobiography, _Slide Rule_, describing his involvement in building dirigibles in the UK in the 1930s when it looked as if that was the future of aviation, is worth a read.

Bill Gray

Re: Yay! Party time!

Not sure why three people (as of now) downvoted you. I worry about what damage Trump might inflict on our country and world in his remaining 2.5 months, particularly in his current even-more-than-usual deranged state. If he just wastes his time spluttering as a sore loser and filing frivolous lawsuits ("I lost an election, please fix it" is not grounds for a lawsuit), I'd call that a win.

Bill Gray

Re: Yay! Party time!

You are correct that, generally speaking, electoral fraud is rare. And there is no actual evidence that it mattered in 2020. (Though one should note that, AFAIK, even places that have scanned paper ballots don't do routine auditing of the results. A simple "we'll pick five boxes after the election at random, the Dems get to pick five, the Republicans get to pick five, let's see if the hand count matches what the machines said" would satisfy my paranoia... hell, I don't trust my own code without running checks on the results.)

Some time back, I was in a conversation where I said fraud would never matter in a Presidential election. Then I thought of 1876 ("Rutherfraud" B. Hayes earned his nickname), 1960 (a cliffhanger won by JFK after the "Riverside Cemetery" vote came in in Cook County, Illinois); 2000 (close enough so that pretty much anything, from hanging chads to minor fraud, could have turned it); and 2004 (some rather odd patterns in how some districts turned Republican depending on what voting equipment they used).

_None_ of these is a proven case (though I gather 1876 comes close). But the bonkers electoral college system makes things a little easier to game than they otherwise would be. (One more reason to drop it... saw a "headline" this week along the lines of "Nation waits on tenterhooks to see if candidate with 4M vote lead will win election".)

Test tube babies: Virgin Hyperloop pops pair of staffers in a pod, shoots them along 500m vacuum tunnel

Bill Gray

"Not at all like a roller coaster"?

I could see such being true for a final product, where a lower acceleration could be applied for a longer time. But here...

They went 395 meters (or possibly metres) in 15 seconds. Average speed is about 26 m/s, so peak speed is 52 m/s. (This assumes you accelerate halfway, then decelerate the other half, resulting in a consistent acceleration. Anything else will require a higher peak acceleration somewhere along the path.)

Anyway. To reach 52 m/s in 7.5 seconds, we're talking about roughly 7 m/s^2 acceleration, or about 70% of earth gravity. At startup, you'd suddenly feel an acceleration of sqrt(1^2 + .7^2) = about 1.2 gravities, and the direction of "down" would shift by atan(.7) = 35 degrees from vertical. After 7.5 seconds of that, it'll switch around (so that the direction of "down" will swerve back through the vertical to 35 degrees the other way, a change of 70 degrees total), still at 1.2 gravities. You definitely want to be sitting through all this, and I suspect you want to have not eaten much recently. Or at least want the person sitting next to you not to have eaten much recently. Or both.

I assume the acceleration was changed a little more smoothly than this (i.e., the "jerk" -- the time derivative of the acceleration -- was kept to a more reasonable level). Which would mean more acceleration. I don't see how you'd make this a stomach-settling experience.

Yahoo! Groups! to! shut! down! completely! on! December! 15!... Tens! mourn!

Bill Gray

I faced the same problem for the posts on four Yahoo! groups I maintained. After grabbing all files, I wrote a bit of C code to 'launder' them (remove lots of Javascript cruft and turn them into basic HTML with irrelevancies stripped), plus an index to said basic HTML files, which I could then put on my own server. On the off chance it'll actually help you (or somebody else) :

C code to 'launder' Yahoo! group post blobs

(top of the file explains how it all works). An example of the results (probably should look at this first to see if it's actually anything you'd be interested in) :

Example of what you get after running the above code

Bill Gray

Re: I! Will! Miss! These! Headlines!

You! forgot! to! put! the! exclamation! marks! in! HTML! italic! tags!

Five Eyes nations plus Japan, India call for Big Tech to bake backdoors into everything

Bill Gray

Re: not possible

I suspect the AC is referring to one-time pads. In which case he/she is actually right, though the usual limitations of one-time pads in practice apply. (If I were up against a nation-state adversary and my life depended on it, I'd probably use them in any situation I could, along with steganography. And I'd probably post some random bytes here and there in hopes that the various "national security" organizations would waste computer cycles on them, rather than on my actual communications.)











Imagine running a dating app and being told accounts could be easily hijacked. How did that feel, Grindr?

Bill Gray

Re: SevOne lives up to its billing

I'm also routinely annoyed by misspelt/misspelled corporate names. But I have to concede that when doing an on-line search, it's good if your name doesn't collide with existing uses. Looking for 'Grindr' won't get you a lot of offers for butcher's shop tools mixed in with the results.

There ain't no problem that can't be solved with the help of American horsepower – even yanking on a coax cable

Bill Gray

Re: Closest I've had to that ....

...and if it breaks, it needed replacing anyway.

Key-cutting machine borked sideways after visit from the BSOD fairy locks things down

Bill Gray

Re: I wonder...

Both good points, thank you. For key designs once a year, I could imagine annual visits with a USB drive (access locked, of course). I'd rather do that than deal with an always-on connection. But the need to connect to the outside world when a credit card is presented is more difficult to work around.

Bill Gray

Re: I wonder...

Generally speaking, you have a point. But is there any reason for this particular system to be connected to the Interwebs or updated?

What an IDORable Giggle: AI-powered 'female only' app gets in Twitter kerfuffle over breach notification

Bill Gray

Re: Twits

I think the main lesson here is that Twitter is a mind numbingly awful communication medium at the best of times.

Fixed. No, hold on...

The main lesson here is that Twitter is a mind numbingly awful communication medium.

There! _Now_ it's fixed.

The power of Bill compels you: A server room possessed by a Microsoft-hating, Linux-loving Demon

Bill Gray

Re: Not met a demon

Wondered about that myself.

echo "37.9259259*86400" | bc -l


A timer running with 100-second units would overflow a signed 16-bit int in the specified time. Dunno why you'd have a timer doing that?

I vaguely recall some other Micros~1 timer that stored (I think) milliseconds since boot time in a 32-bit unsigned integer, rolling over after 2^32/(24*60*60*1000)=49.71 days. Apparently, our friends in Redmond assumed there was no way the system would stay up that long, and one must concede they had a point.

Not Half bad: Microsoft back to 16 bits with new storage-saving type in .NET 5

Bill Gray

Re: Not bfloat16?

Errmmm... if you look at the Fine Article, you'll see that this _does_ use the IEEE floating point standard for 16-bit numbers. Admittedly, if you simply leap to the assumption that Micros~1 would create its own standard, you'll usually be right. But not this time.

Some lucky web developer just scored $20k to scour Facebook out of Neil Young’s website

Bill Gray

Re: SIgh. Ignorance is... common

I'm anti-GMO when it's used (for example) to enable massive Roundup use. I'm pro-GMO when it's used (for example) in Bt-corn to enable _less_ pesticide use.

As with most technology, you gotta look carefully at specific uses. Computers enable me to read El Reg. But they also enable F__ebook.

You had one job... Just two lines of code, and now the customer's Inventory Master File has bitten the biscuit

Bill Gray

Re: Defensive Coding

Thank you. I've been coding in C and C++ for over 30 years. It's been rare for me to see that ordering, and when I did, I wondered why it was "reversed". But I see your point; it does make the difference between assignment and comparison clear. Only failure I see is for 'if( a == b)", where it can be a mis-assignment even when reversed... but most of the time, it'd let you catch mistakes.

First rule of Ransomware Club is do not pay the ransom, but it looks like Carlson Wagonlit Travel didn't get the memo

Bill Gray

In re tracing cash...

At my local bank, I noticed someone depositing cash. The bills were inserted in a cash counter, which (I assume) would have no difficulty detecting serial numbers. And, of course, when dispensing cash at an ATM, the bank could know which bills were passed out to whom.

I dunno to what extent banks and other cash-scanning/dispensing businesses are taking advantage of this ability. It's very limited, in that the bank in question can't be especially confident that it'll see the same bills twice. But it does seem that if there's a way to conduct surveillance, people will do it.

AI assistants work perfectly in the UK – unless you're from Cardiff, Glasgow, Liverpool, Birmingham, Belfast...

Bill Gray

Re: Smart assistants only need to understand one thing

Well, it also needs to understand the obligatory XKCD.

After huffing and puffing for years, US senators unveil law to blow the encryption house down with police backdoors

Bill Gray

Re: So once the Government gets its way....

First, I'd be hard pressed to argue that states have rights and people don't. (Some can; the writers of the US Constitution were representing states, not the US as a whole.)

Second, while I agree that the original intent was a compromise of the sort you describe (a way to reassure small states that they wouldn't get crushed by big states), the actual result is that the presidency is decided by those in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Florida. Much effort by both sides goes into those states. Small states where the outcome is unlikely to be changeable are ignored; your opinion, as a voter in an overwhelmingly blue or red state, doesn't matter.



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