* Posts by Steve Channell

113 posts • joined 19 Aug 2014


Who knew? Hadoop is over, says former Hortonworks guru Scott Gnau

Steve Channell

Hadoop prototype

Map/Reduce in general and Hadoop in particular was a good start for data-centric computing for those that could not budget for Teredata scale kit - somewhat unfair, but 30yr behind the leading edge.

There'll always be a place for cheap/simple tools like Hadoop in the Data Grid, the problem is that better tools are now cheaper, and distributed file-systens are moving into hardware

We won't leave you hanging any longer: Tool strips freeze-inducing bugs from Java bytecode while in production

Steve Channell
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Slow news day?

While static analysis is a good thing, the place to deploy it is in the build server prior to regression testing.. like https://www.sonarqube.org/ does.

When the code is product-ready they'll have also addressed the tricky problems of identifying the "error", line providing diagnostic error messages and an ignore pragma for cases where it's a deliberate optimisation.

When they say "other languages", they mean Kotlin and Scala..

GitHub users speak their brains on Microsoft's open-source efforts: ASP.NET shines, but WPF is 'a disaster'

Steve Channell

WPF is blocked behind the port of DirectX

Once https://devblogs.microsoft.com/directx/directx-heart-linux/ has been completed, WPF some love

Windows to become emulation layer atop Linux kernel, predicts Eric Raymond

Steve Channell

Not going to happen

but the core Microsoft Executive is likely to be open-sourced for hypervisors to be loaded from firmware like UEFI that runs all operating systems as a guest.. without the wider kernel, the microkernel will revert to the original design.

The "S" in WSL is still a subsystem, but one where the process management is handled within the subsystem and not translated to Win32 calls.

Microsoft sprinkles a little Skype Meet Now integration on Windows 10 for Insiders

Steve Channell

How to kill a product with politics

Skype started out as an offshoot from peer-to-peer file-sharing app that was widely used to pirate music: Adding voice calls made it impossible for music companies to detect that music was being shared rather than person to person communications, and therefore somewhat protected from prosecution. To the surprise of the developers the voice function was vastly more popular that the file sharing service putting pressure on the super-nodes that relayed traffic between computers that could not connect directly on local networks because of firewalls and NAT: they had a choice between grow and or die and found a willing buyer in ebay.

Skype was fine for point-to-point connections, but video conferencing was not it forte, and suffered reliability problems scaling the super-nodes that were not designed for load balancing: Microsoft put quite a lot of investment into scaling the super-node infrastructure but dropped P2P in an attempt to get telco on-side for Windows Phone.

After the Window-8 disaster it really became a retail brand for corporate Lync Server: it is somewhat ironic that a cloud native technology was pushed into the arms of office collaboration and kept away from Azure where its UDP datagram baggage could overload host routers.

Until recently open-access videoconferencing was niche: Zoom did not defect Microsoft, AWS did by scaling the Zoom infrastructure, but politics was the real killer

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

Steve Channell

This is for GPGPU integration

.net support for struct (value types) means it can natively shape blocks of memory for GPGU execution, Half is good for GPU shader code, for ML or execution on GeForce GPU.

Next addition will be full GPU integration like the unsuccessful C++ AMP



Data warehouse firm hopes more will follow Yellowbrick road for real-time analytics, speedy cloud data transfer

Steve Channell


Odd to mention Netezza and not DATAllegro which became SQL/Server Parallel Data Warehouse.

The power and scale of Teredata at its peak can now be replaced with with a large workstation. While traditional RDBMS laugh at the parsing delays of Hadoop, that does not apply to column-store schema which match well with object-store at the physical level

VMware to stop describing hardware as ‘male’ and ‘female’ in new terminology guide

Steve Channell

Time to abend some terminology

I once read an article in BYTE (decades ago) that described a C function that took void* parameters as a slut-interface.. there has always been terminology that was wrong.

Kill and spawn always seemed a bit juvenile but banning "abort" is plain stupid (abortion is medically termination because we now know that a sperm is not a seed)..will signal terminate be banned?

"class" is elitist, but we'll save that PK change for April-1st

UK.gov admits it has not performed legally required data protection checks for COVID-19 tracing system

Steve Channell

Aborted Covid App

GDPR would have been covered by the terms of service of the Covid App. GDPR does not regulate "data protection", just that you agree to the usage..

One if the consequences of pulling the app says before go-live

Health Sec Hancock says UK will use Apple-Google API for virus contact-tracing app after all (even though Apple were right rotters)

Steve Channell

iTunes more important than pandemic?

It is not unreasonable to believe that a G7 country might be able to force a tech company to treat a Covid app like a music app and run in the background. The fact Apple was bold enough to refuse is telling - setting itself up as a supranational organisation is is a precident that will not go unanswered - expect to see their root certificates buster within a year.

The "by winter" announcement probably Means they're going to go the Telco route (like South Korea and Norway) and use mast triangulation for proximity (Bluetooth works through walls, so not foolproof).

Another option is to use fitness trackers, but that's a longer-term option but will be a waste of money if a vaccine works - expect to see talk of revived MS Band tracker popping up.

Brit MP demands answers from Fujitsu about Horizon IT system after Post Office staff jailed over accounting errors

Steve Channell

Sloppy reporting

The Underlying technology behind horizon was reposte a distributed message store with asynchronous replication in batches between centres and branches (originally ISDN) with UDP between computers in a branch. Like TIBCO rendezvous, all messages have a sequence number, and dropped messages are re-transmited - not especially different to a distributed ledger like bitcoin - but quicker

It's sloppy reporting to imply that data might be hacked by some delphic oracle, rather than bidirectional replication. Originally benefit payment were sent pre-authorised to a number of branches so that payments would not be delayed by network latency (pre-authorisation being cancelled during replication).

Cash Account summaries were compiled in branch at the end of and sent (by paper post) and electronically.

Architecturally the cash account should have been produced by summarising all transactions in the host database because the branch file was a system (and commerical) boundary, but.because of the branch paper report calculation was distributed.

People weren't prosecuted because of the system failure, they were prosecuted because the political imperative to justify the cost of the system

IBM resurrects Netezza data warehousing kit in the cloud, which will delight clients midway through migrating

Steve Channell

Teradata clone collapses under own hype

When Netezza was formed the single novation was using programable FPGA rather than the ASIC of Y/BY net in the original. Whilst faster than DATAllegro and cheaper than Teradata seems like a good niche, it can't compete with free in Hadoop or the increasing capability of NUMA conventional big boxes

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DirectX comes to Linux (via WSL2): Microsoft unveils tricks needed to flash a GPU at a penguin

Steve Channell


The C++ extensions that Microsoft developed for parallel C++ kernels that run either on a CPU or GPU through HLSL made parallel programming much easier than OpenCL or CUBA largely through the restrict(amp) compiler directive.

The downside to C++AMP was the runtime need to use DirectX and WARP engine (for n-core CPU execution).. porting DirectX means that the C++ AMP Clang extension developed by AMD can be 100% compatible with the Windows version.

While it is tempting to say Meh, the ability to debug a kernel on a CPU is a vey valuable.

Teradata switches CEOs mid-flight while being eaten alive in the cloud, but it's not game over yet for data warehouser

Steve Channell

Y-Net/BY-Net was the secret source of Teradata, but not needed for a very long time

When Teradata Launched over thirty years ago the limiting factor was IO bandwidth, which it addressed with a custom network fabric that ordered responses across the MPP achieving high throughput without overloading the 386 processors. Data was distributed using a proprietary hash that was little different to standard key hashing (case insensitive and tweaked for common text). Compared to Hadoop it was well ahead of time with TQL decomposed into a series of map/reduce distribution operations. Performance of "SELECT DISTINCT ..." was slower than "SELECT ... GROUP BY..." because even in a DBC/1012 grouping was quicker to perform on AMP than through the Y/BY-Net ASIC.

Strategically Teradata missed the boat more than twenty years ago when Oracle (EXAData), Microsoft (DataAlegro/PDW/Synapse) and IBM (Netezza) upscaled their footprint - their choice was to milk the Niche status and stickiness of an established appliance vendor and provide (and fail to provide) an up-sale channel for TopEnd TP monitory to complement the intrenched NCR position on POS/ATM.

Architecturally Teradata Operating System (TOS) (later re-hosted on NCR UNIX) is a Pascal p-machine, so porting to Java should not be a major problem, the challenge is how to go from a high-margin support/training model to an open-source provider without being cannibalised.. evidence from MapR is that they'll fail.

Is this an ASP.NET Core I see before me? Where to next for Microsoft's confusing web framework...

Steve Channell
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With a little fibbing

"Blazer server" is not a real option, but instead a test framework for Blazor web-assembly for rapid development. There is also a mock browser for CI unit testing. Blazor web-assembly is held back by the conversion of Edge to chromium and distributed debugging.

COBOL-coding volunteers sought as slammed mainframes slow New Jersey's coronavirus response

Steve Channell

You can't make this sh1t up

The problem will most likely be an array in working storage, which are defined like

05 claim OCCURS 1000 TIMES.

Fixed array sizes are not as daft as they seem, but were a mechanism to enable the scheduler to avoid over committing resources while scheduling jobs. For S/370 it was also used for 20-bit, 31-bit (XA), 64-bit (ESA/z) compilers to fit into smaller memory regions

As with any engineering problem, it is not the one-line code change that takes the effort, but the elaboration of dependancies and testing that takes the effort. It might not be feasible withing the constraint of compiler, os, platform. That one-line change can grow into a quarterly upgrade.

The "solution" is probably to run the batch multiple times, or force people to wait longer.. which brings us to the politics: "don't blame me, blame the IT" with the new twist "blame yourself/compatriots for not volunteering"

Out with the old and in with the new as Java 14 arrives, bringing with it first Project Panama enhancements

Steve Channell

Project Panama

Two of the weaknesses of the Java platform are [1] the poor support provided through JNI to integrate Java applications with native binary libaries [2] Java practictioner view that all applications should be recoded in Java to avoid interoperability problems. While it is generally accepted that the Microsoft extension to Java for COM integration was an attempt to make Java applications Windows specific; it is also true that copyright of COM was transfered to X/Open to remove licence issues. It is not unreasonable to conclude that the use if COM (on windows) and XPCOM (on Linux/ *ix) was a genuine attempt to provide an object based application binary interface.

Over the twenty years since Sun committed to integrating XP/COM ABI into the JVM, we have not seen the wholesale re-implemntation of everything in Java, but we have seen many inovations with FPGA, GPGPU, SDN, ML, AI etc that demostrate that there will always be a need for interop with Binary code.

Project Panama took like it has incorporated the lessons (failings) of Object-RPC, but the absents of "struct" (value-types) is still an ommision that makes this task more difficult. Comparing Project Panama with the CLR P/Invoke leaves me wondering whether this decades old problem will ever be solved..

It's ironic that one of the big impacts of Java has been the regression to TCP/IP Sockets for interop, and IDL (e.g. protobuf/gRPC) for message formatting.

Microsoft throws a bone to those unable to leave the past behind: .NET 5 support on the way for Visual Basic

Steve Channell

VB.net, not Visual Basic for Applications (VBA)

Visual Basic was always an odd cludge, but back in the day you could write VBA in Excel, export the model to VB6 and compile.. and for performance change classes from VB6 to C++ without changing the COM interface.. VB.net was **not** Visual basic (array offset changed from 1 to 0) - a completely new language that begged the question "why".

supporting a VB.net to C# transalater would be more useful to those foolish enough to build apps in VB. They'd be better spending their time on C++/CLI which is best language for native interop.

How does Monzo keep 1,600 microservices spinning? Go, clean code, and a strong team

Steve Channell

Loosely coupled strongly cohesive

Old lessons still apply, rigorously define the data model and incapsulate the transport. gRPC is a special case because the right network fabric can be faster than IPC

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

Steve Channell

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

Powershell pipes objects not lines of text.. '<' is not needed (think "cat text.txt | awk")

Steve Channell

Re: Who are you and what have you done with Microsoft?

I think they've noticed that RedHat Enterprise license with support is more expensive than Windows Server, but customers still buy it because it is cheaper than employing kernel engineers.

Powershell needs to be open-sourced to make it into Linux distributions for Docker and K8 support

'Developers have lost hope Microsoft will do the right thing'... Redmond urged to make WinUI cross-platform

Steve Channell

Silverlight again?

I like XAML as a UI markup, and WPF Everywhere promised so much, but failed to be surficiently better than HTML5 to justify the deployment costs. With Visual Studio Code being built on Electron (chromium runtime), it's clear that a cross platform XAML needs to collaborate with W3C and Google and be fully open source.

I'm not sure Microsoft is ready for the challenge.

Until then WinUI is PR

Hey GitLab, the 1970s called and want their sexism back: Saleswomen told to wear short skirts, heels and 'step it up'

Steve Channell

Non binary?

I find "non binary" offensive. Binary is a number system just like decimal that can represent all values, not appropriate for some humanities graduate trying to sound relevant. Analogue sexuality might be better, but could get confused with people who only watch porn on VHS

Petition asking Microsoft to open-source Windows 7 sails past 7,777-signature goal

Steve Channell

Kernel is more likely

Microsoft will have seen what has happened with the open core of MacOS (Darwin) and seen that an open core does not threaten the Windows franchise. The motive would be to provide a core microkernel infrastructure that can be preloaded on cloud infrastructure to load Win32 and Linux subsystems. This core would be good for a variety of Software-Defined network and storage appliances.

The reason it hasn't happened yet is more to do with the maturity of the Linux subsystem WSL2 than to do with license or commercial considerations.

WebAssembly: Key to a high-performance web, or ideal for malware? Reg speaks to co-designer Andreas Rossberg

Steve Channell

Re: The ultimate container runtime steps forward

In one respect WebAssembly is just the latest incarnation of platform-independent environments that started with UCSD p-system followed by OSF ANDF, JVM, CLR and PNaCL, but standardized and matched with a large browser providing a runtime environment.

Change the runtime to stripped-down Fuchsia like OS with little more than network stack + Kerberos and you have an ideal environment for micro-services

Steve Channell

The ultimate container runtime steps forward

Architecturally WebAssembly is a code-verification sandbox with a controlled API to a runtime: if it works well in a browser, it’ll be an ideal platform for microservices where a different runtime is provided. The challenge on the server-side will be providing a distributed identity-verification runtime to avoid spoofing

Microsoft looks to React Native as a way to tackle the cross-platform development puzzle

Steve Channell

This is more to do with webassembly

Web assembly changes everything and is destined for the Universal client platform React fills the GUI hole for browser integration

Tesla driver killed after smashing into truck had just enabled Autopilot – US crash watchdog

Steve Channell

physics always wins

Stopping sand time is a function of speed, the only way to avoid collision is go slower when objects can enter your stop zone. Road trains on motorways would be safe about 100 if the lead car is an expert, 20 in urban areas is safe if not following another car.

Urban slow is fine if you can use the time for work/leisure.. and solves the problem of your hire car driving itself to a charging point.

The Tesla version is a cop-out.. pandering to the rich

Tangled in .NET: Will 5.0 really unify Microsoft's development stack?

Steve Channell

Re: .net to java converter ?

Alas Java does not have Value Types (struct), properties or tail-call optimisation so not everything can convert + you'd have to choose which broken implementation of DateTime to map to. Going the other way (Java -> .NET) was done years ago with IKVM, but you need to be careful of the broken RMI implementation.

Uber won't face criminal charges after its robo-car killed woman crossing street

Steve Channell

Re: What? The car can't do emergency braking on it's own?

It's amazing how utterly misguided the whole autonomous car business currently is.. driven by completely the wrong use-cases

Instead of trying to be just like a regular car, actual autonomous will drive much slower on normal roads, with the focus being on productive use of time rather than reduced time. Smooth, but slower vehicles will allow people to work, watch a film, or sleep whilst in the pod.. much like a commuter train.

ReactOS 0.4.11 makes great strides towards running Windows apps without the Windows

Steve Channell

Open source NT is on the way

Microsoft will not have failed to notice that open-source Darwin has had no impact on MacOS/iOS sales.

There is a big motive to open-source NT Executive with Hyper-V before the disapearance of the final chance to displace VMWare,KVM,Zen as the default hypervisor for new servers

Did you know?! Ghidra, the NSA's open-sourced decompiler toolkit, is ancient Norse for 'No backdoors, we swear!'

Steve Channell

Doesn't support Java

Reflection of Java bytecode has been available for twenty years.. all managed languages have rich code analysis

This one is for machine code

It's official. Microsoft pushes Google over the Edge, shifts browser to Chromium engine

Steve Channell
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WebAssembly & Blazer

Aside from the obvious issue that Edge is a also-ran in the browser world, and web-developers are not developing for it, the big change driving this is mature WebAssembly support built into Chromium. PNaCl was Googles project for downloadable native code and forms the basis of WebAssembly binary modules.

Microsoft took the LLVM support in Mono (.NET clone) to enable .NET code in the browser though the Blazer project.. but only works well on Chromium - they use Chromium internally for Blazer debugging. Microsoft will be adding code for debug integration.

Boeing 737 pilots battled confused safety system that plunged aircraft to their deaths – black box

Steve Channell

Re: Hey software, get the fuck out of the way!

There Is a simple procedure that works in this case: throttle out (foot on the gas). Pilots don't like throttling out because it uses lots of fuel and causes stress on the engines... All of Which is recorded for performance review.

Belgium: Oi, Brits, explain why Belgacom hack IPs pointed at you and your GCHQ

Steve Channell

Belgian terrorists

Before we go all Snowdon about mass surveillance, it is worth remembering that the terrorists that attacked Paris originated in Brussels, where the security services are useless (much like everything run in that City).. and British Intelligence is the only such service in Europe not tarnished by association with the Gestapo or KGB.

If they happen to pick up on the wittering of Politicians... all well and good, somebody should have an idea of what is going to happen...

Microsoft reveals xlang: Cross-language, cross-compiler and coming to a platform near you

Steve Channell


This is much more like SWIG than Thrift because it s an interface generator, not an RPC mechanism.

inferring that that std::vector<T> can be translated to Systems::Collections::Generic::List<T> is usefull, but only really an advantage if it avoid copying when passed into another function that expects a std::vector<T>

Convenient switch hides an inconvenient truth

Steve Channell


A number of years ago Teradata UK took delivery of a shinny new NCR massively parallel database computer, and were very keen to demonstrate everything about the new host.

One salesperson hit on the idea of pulling one of the fans out to demonstrate the emebeded systems management and the fan speed up.

Unfortunately the hapless salesperson triggered a manufacturing investigation back in the US that eventually lead to a team of engineers being dispatched to site.. where they scratched their heads to understand why the host fans kept failing.. until the hapless salesperson did his party piece

UK space comes to an 'understanding' with Australia as Brexit looms

Steve Channell

Scrap value

Galileo should never have been created in the first place: There are two faults with GPS (coverage for accuracy, US right to switch it off or encrypt it).. which could have been addressed with funding contribution and contract.

Space is outside of the realm of Earth laws.. if the UK is locked out through decision to leave the EU, a price can be negotiated on the scrap value.. It is a question of the inconvenience price for recovering them

Euro bureaucrats tie up .eu in red tape to stop Brexit Brits snatching back their web domains

Steve Channell


It's clear the commission really, really, really didn't like the Brexit campaign using the TLA, but forcing the organisation to move to Dublin is probably an unintended consequence

.NET Core 2.1 – huh, yeah – what is it good for? Bing, apparently

Steve Channell

Re: What is JIT good for?

JIT is older than Java by a couple of decades thanks to Pascal p-code, including Microsoft's Pascal and COBOL runtimes. The new technique of deployment ngen is closer to the OSF ANDF (as is LLVM).

Performance test of .net core CLR compared to Java show it spanking Java..

AI on Raspberry Pi, Waymo touts robo-rides to Arizonians, and more

Steve Channell
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Google ported it


Span hits F#, LinkedIn gets mumbly, and UWP (yes, it's still clinging on) furnished with new toys

Steve Channell

Re: Anti-F#ism?

Functional languages always suffered from the need for larger memory for immutability and all the recursive evaluation, before tail-call-optimisation was properly implemented (JAVA is still a work in progress in this perspective). It is only now that immutability adds more value (through parallelism) than the cost of memory offsets - this is especially so with GPGPU.

If you needed to know how many people are in a queue, imperatively you could stop people joining or leaving - and count them, but that breaks down when people join and leave long queues with contention. Functionally you’d ask the people to add 1 to the number the person behind them had (and 1 it there was nobody) - scale is not an issue and no contention: The imperative approach is always simpler when you don’t really understand the problem

Revealed: Blueprints to Google's AI FPU aka the Tensor Processing Unit

Steve Channell

Re: @Steve WTF? Tech-Porn is not news


It is kinda pleasing when Google looks at your comments, and goes "yeh, I think he might have a point"

Google unwraps its gateway drug: Edge TPU chips for IoT AI code

Steve Channell

Shame they had to wait for Huawei to do it first

A year ago it was tech-porn, now it is developing into something that can really help the world - hopefull CCTV face recognition was not the use-case that tipped them into be open.


Samsung’s new phone-as-desktop is slick, fast and ready for splash-down ... somewhere

Steve Channell


Windows, Icons, Mice, Pull-down-menus.

Desktop mode for a phone is old-hat.. worked just fine on my Lumia 950.. but only used it once: there really is a limited market for PowerPoint presentations from a mobile phone.

Miracast and Bluetooth keyboards make all the cables redundant

Git365. Git for Teams. Quatermass and the Git Pit. GitHub simply won't do now Microsoft has it

Steve Channell

Source safe extreme

Surely that's just an alias for one that worked for more than a month without having a corruption or one that was corrupt beyond all recognition and needs to be restored from tape

Microsoft open-sources UI Recorder tool for Windows 10 developers

Steve Channell

Re: Let's get real

unlike the free usage of hosted TFS for the last eight years?

Steve Channell

also for drops in the build/est pipeline

Checking in code at the end of the build pipeline is needed for continuous deployment where a test session will be provisioned with a list of TFS tasks (you kinda know where there this is heading) and a VM pre-provisioned with the software that has changed.

When the test pipeline evolves to include multiple stages and/or parallel streams, the binaries need to be versioned in he build/test pipeline as well.

Now Microsoft ports Windows 10, Linux to homegrown CPU design

Steve Channell

CPU meets EPIC / GPGPU hybrid

All the talk of running the a soft CPU will be designed to avoid the problems of Itanic which pushed all the parallel logic into compiler but never envisioned multi-core processors that make parallel execution quicker with OS threads than the explicit parallel instructions. Once vendors eventually got hold of silicon and compiler kits it was too late to fix the design flaws in the EPIC design.

Borrowing the GPGPU paradigm of small kernels of code that can be executed in parallel seems like a better approach and Operating systems seem a very good test because each SYSCALL is designed to be atomic.

if it can me made to run effectively, it should provide breathtaking performance



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