* Posts by martinusher

1873 posts • joined 24 Feb 2015

Metrobank techies placed at risk of redundancy, severance terms criticised

martinusher Silver badge

Re: Moving to Agile working

I've come across software developers talking about "Agile" for many years now. My personal experience with Agile developers is that they're anything but -- they're good at buzzwords, UI prototyping and so on but very poor at actual deliveries. They also don't seem to be able to cope with any kind of technology that doesn't come pre-canned in some manufacturer's library or another.

FWIW -- I'm an embedded developer so while the work I do is strictly speaking 'software' I merely have to interface with the real software teams rather than be part of them. Our particular work is quite agile but it stems from design choices and the need to respond to changes (and humour the programmers with their limited toolsets) rather than being the consequence of a manifesto.

'Quad' group seeks to set security standards for global tech industry

martinusher Silver badge

Re: Truth, Justice -- and the American Way

I suggest you run a search on "China Initiative", that's the official name given to this operation that's run by the DoJ. Then look up how many people have been investigated, how many have been prosecuted (and what they've been prosecuted for) and how many convictions.

In another time and place we called it "McCarthyism".

martinusher Silver badge

Re: Finally something, even if it is sloow and maybe too late

The phone will have general purpose software suitable for the Chinese market. Its probably not worth their while making firmware distributions for every country, you just pile everything in and activate the components you need for each region.

As far as "spying on their customers go" I presume you've seen the film "The Social Dilemma"? (its on Netflix) I dare say the Chinese government has been aware of this for some time which is why they've got controls on their Internet and social media companies. It also suggests why the PRC government is probably not spying on you and me -- there's nothing in it for them (and if they were really desperate to know what I was up to, for example, they'd just buy the information through a shell company from an information broker.)

martinusher Silver badge

Truth, Justice -- and the American Way

We've been subject to a barrage of anti-Chinese propaganda over the last few years and unfortunately people seem to be swallowing it wholesale. We were quite happy to offshore just about everything to them provided they knew their place -- that is, a larger version of the Phillipines -- but they obviously got too big for their boots and we need to take them down a peg or two.

The problem is that we are going about it all wrong. We're trying to turn back the clock, to pretend that the last five, ten or more years didn't happen and so we can just reset to a happier place. All that's needed is a good dose of Cold War rhetoric and we're in business. Except we're not. A recent analysis of the tariff regime showed that it hadn't slowed trade with China or encouraged onshoring, all it did was raise prices for smaller manufacturers and consumers. Our (US) attack on Chinese academics has backfired on us -- not only has it failed to find evidence of spying or trade secret theft, the prosecutions of Chinese people have acted as a deterrent for researchers to come to the US. We're not making the infrastructure investments necessary to compete on their level -- investment funding is mired in partisan politics, as it has been for decades -- the biggest China hawks are also the ones who are reluctant to pony up when it comes to investment dollars (which we shouldn't really be doing at the government level but like the UK of old private capital isn't interested, they make better percentages on real estate, commodities monopolies and weapons). Unless we fix this all this Quad posturing is just hot air; the only thing that will come out of it is a few headline initiatives and maybe a war or two.

It has taken a generation or two to get into this hole and it will take a similar amount of time to dig ourselves out of it. Unfortunately people want instant answers -- if they can't get what they think is their due they'll get angry and turn to any glib reality TV star or radio talking head who has the answers. They always have the answers -- until its time to actually get anything done.

CutefishOS: Unix-y development model? Check. macOS aesthetic? Check (if you like that sort of thing)

martinusher Silver badge

Actually, the reason why Windows gained traction was a number of factors of which 'ease of use' was never one of them. The real advantage it had to offer was support for software licensing. Linux developers were fundamentally opposed to the concept which effectively cost them the entire gaming community.

Microsoft had another ace which was their Office suite. Its inter-connectivity was always of dubious utility but it served its purpose of locking business management, and so business, into Windows.

Microsoft's command line support has always been there as most of their applets are really either clones of command line utilities or program launchers. Command line support has always been poor which led to various aftermarket solutions; more recently they've got into the game with Powershell because allowing non-Microsoft products to get significant traction may erode their business (so what you get with Powershell, like every other Microsoft product, is something that's almost the same as the standard utility but with a uniquely MSFT twist that makes it not only their own but also unique).

martinusher Silver badge

>Five times if printers are involved.

Yes and no. I run networked printers and configuring a printer under Windows 10 is a real chore. Hooking up the same printer under Linux was a non-event.

Its not the printer or anything like that. I recently got tapped to help install a new inkjet for an older couple we know. It was a new HP connecting to a brand name Win10 PC. It was an absolute pain. It wasn't so much the driver installation -- the driver comes with Windows, anyway -- but all the crapware that came with the printer; you had to go to the HP site, download a voluminous application, navigate your way past all the crapware just to ignore it.

I've had innumerable problems with Windows USB drivers. There's something fundamentally broken about them, in particular the way that the driver is physical port dependent. Its a table issue, a bug that probably dates back to Day One. Linux just works (and you can invoke the command line/editor if things get really bad but that's like popping the hood of a malfunctioning car, its a bit pointless messing with the engine if you don't know what to look for or how to fix it).

California Governor signs bill protecting warehouse workers from unsafe quotas

martinusher Silver badge

Not a new problem

Back in the days when the US had assembly lines this type of activity was known as a 'speedup'.

If you've seen old film of car production lines you'd see a whole bunch of people standing beside a conveyor belt along which would pass incomplete cars. Your job would be to stand at a station and add a part -- a wheel, say -- and you'd perform this timed operation all day, every working day. You'd get repetitive strain injuries from doing this but as this wasn't recognized as a legitimate industrial injury then you would just soldier on, you have mouths to feed. Every now and again the management would notice that that there appeared to be slack time creeping in to these assembly operations so they'd just speed up the conveyor a little. This would continue until the unions complained.

Speedups were lampooned in a famous "I Love Lucy" show. She's working on a production line making chocolates. The belt gradually gets faster and faster and the humour is built around her futile attempts to keep up.

So what Amazon has done isn't new. What California has done is but I suppose it all falls under the category "health and safety". As a rule workers in the US have few rights and protections compared to Europe (or even the UK) so some pushback is probably overdue.

For the nth time, China bans cryptocurrencies

martinusher Silver badge

They're not the only one

The US Treasury Department is going after crypto exchanges. Its nominally part of a crackdown on ransomware but as the government's view is that crypto currencies are mostly used for illicit transactions anyway they might as well start working on controlling all transactions. The Feds are also interested in exchanges because its at this point currency profits can be taxed.

(I'm not a great fan of crypto myself because it is so resource intensive. Its useless for day to day finance because of its low speed and relatively high transaction fees.)

Fukushima studies show wildlife is doing nicely without humans, thank you very much

martinusher Silver badge

Another great place for biodiversity is the DMZ across Korea.

Navigating without GPS is one thing – so let's jam it and see what happens to our warship

martinusher Silver badge

Re: jamming isn't the point

The smart move would be to carry a GLONASS handheld somewhere and use it to cross check. (Many handhelds can use both systems.)

Its always a good idea to know where you are just in case. Equipment can break down and batteries go flat.

What happens when a Royal Navy warship sees a NATO task force headed straight for it? A crash course in Morse

martinusher Silver badge

A cruise ship with weapons

Some years ago while I was on a cruise ship going up to Alaska and back a tour was made available on a sea day which was a look at the working bits of the ship. The pictures of the bridge and the descriptions of the propulsion systems and engine room were exactly the same as that ship (not surprising -- the ships were similar age, size and performance). While at sea the cruise ship normally only had two people on the bridge, an officer and a seaman, and their job was to just look out for errant fishing boats and generally keep an eye on the equipment. The engine room, like on this ship, was generally unattended, it was monitored from a control room. It also had four generators on it, one being dedicated to the 'hotel'. The cruise ship also had azipods, bow thrusters and the like. The azipods were independently steerable and the propellers pulled instead of pushed; this gave the ship incredible maneuverability which allowed it to dock as if it were a car entering a parking space than a traditional ship. The naval crew amenities also seem to be similar to the cruise ship. The only significant difference (apart from the hotel/weapons systems) appears to be that the navy uses sea-sickness tablets instead of stabilizers.

martinusher Silver badge

Re: After you. No, after you!

(A few years back ships from this fleet started getting a bit of a reputation for hitting things and generally not knowing where it was so finding elements in the North Sea wouldn't be surprising.)

Unable to test every tourist and unable to turn them away, Greece used ML to pick visitors for COVID-19 checks

martinusher Silver badge

Re: Ahhhh, keeping the myth of the “asymptomatic super-spreaders” alive!

You've got to test healthy people to keep the statistics working properly. Remember, there isn't an absolute 100% yes/no diagnostic, at least one that doesn't take an impractical length of time. So of the people you test you're going to discover four groups --positive and are sick, positive and are not sick, negative and sick, negative and not sick. This combined with general knowledge about the population in general will tell you what are the chances any individual will be infected. What those rather clever Greeks are up to is tweaking the probabilities based on experience in order to refine the test odds. Its very logical when you think about it but in our world of absolutes -- there is only blackest black and whitest white in the popular imagination -- the subtleties of what they're up to will escape most people.

(This 'refining on results' is what people used to call "Artificial Intelligence".)

If you're Intel, self-driving cars look an awful lot like PCs

martinusher Silver badge

>I just hope it doesn't mean my car will need continual hardware updates and memory increases to carry on working whenever I install a now OS, I mean, whenever I drive along a new road.

Based on current practice its not a matter of new hardware or software but whether you're paying the monthly payment and what level subscription you have.

You may have noticed that PCs are edging in that direction.

Thatcher-era ICL mainframe fingered for failure to pay out over £1bn in UK pensions

martinusher Silver badge

Software doesn't wear out and there's absolutely no danger of any Internet malware group being able to hack the system.

Its an ill wind.....

Lithuania tells its citizens to throw Xiaomi mobile devices in the bin

martinusher Silver badge

Re: CHaaS

Fascist Italy was the closest thing to a true corporatist state. Germany's Nazism had populist roots but relied on corporate money and eventually became more corporatist after the Nazis took power. The Nazis had a lot to offer corporations -- plenty of work through rearmament, a disciplined workforce (you got to work where you were told, no unions or anything socialist looking like that).

A lot of effort has gone into trying to conflate Fascism with Communism over the years, starting mostly in the 1980s. The process had to wait till the 1980s because you had to start losing older people -- Depression era, WW1 and WW2 veterans -- because they'd laugh at the suggestion that the two were the same. So far I've found that people who swallowed that line find it very difficult to get their heads around the notion that from a Nazi perspective Bolsheism was a Jewish ideology, part of the Zionist plot to take over the world.

Chips'n'China on the agenda as the Quad – Japan, India, Oz, US – prepares to meet

martinusher Silver badge

The horse may have already bolted

The problem with the abuse of soft power -- which is really what all these sanctions, tariffs, "China Initiative" law enforcement actions and so on are -- is that you really only get one shot at it. Once you've launched and the other side has taken appropriate action to counter your moves then you're out of options. There's ample evidence to suggest that China will just carry on being China, dragging increasing numbers of countries along with it because China supplies what those countries want -- and is smart enough to encourage trade without demanding fealty. There's also ample evidence to suggest that the Chinese won't bother matching provocation for provocation.

I wish our Administration would focus on our development, drawing in its horns a bit while it Builds Back Better (that's the slogan but it remains to see if anything comes of it). India could develop on the lines of China but it would need to have more respect for its population than it presently has -- you can't build a great power on a foundation of endemic poverty and deprivation (or ethnic discrimination).

(For those who have noticed that I seem to post 'pro-China' posts here I should remark that they're not really 'pro-China'. My views are based on the notion of economic power, or in the words of Ankh-Morpok's national anthem -- "We can rule you wholesale, touch us and you'll pay". Like the Tyrant the Chinese seem to know what the real levers of power are and just how far to push things.)

3.4 billion people live within range of a mobile network but lack a device to make the connection

martinusher Silver badge

You really don't need one mobile device per person

There's a lot of people out there who won't benefit from owning a mobile device. In our western societies there's those who are too young or too old, there's those who either don't have the money or are not interested in the devices and even a few who regard them as a self-financing auto-tracking device. Elsewhere in the world there are still substantial numbers of people who are so poor that their focus is just on food, water and shelter, not on finding charging facilities and paying mobile plans. (In many parts of the world a mobile phone becomes someone's small business -- the locals there use the phone like we used to use landlines.)

There's also ample evidence to suggest that introducing social networks into societies can cause considerable collateral damage. We see this in our own societies -- not everyone is a sophisticated user so mobile internet becomes not just an attention sucker but also a hot bed of unfounded rumours & unsubstantiated speculation plus a quite a bit of political manipulation and crime. People's use of the devices will eventually evolve as I hope the devices do (the current touchscreen interface is more a convenience for the manufacturer and software provider than a truly useful user interface). So give it time, and while we're about it maybe spend the effort on potable water, sustainable crops, workable sanitation and all the other trappings of civilization that we take for granted.

UK's Surveillance Commissioner warns of 'ethically fraught' facial recognition tech concerns

martinusher Silver badge

Years ago I used to tell people that you never carried ID in the UK because you didn't need to. Then I explained that "you didn't need to" wasn't because the police never needed to know who you are, they just seemed to know anyway. Which was quite ominous, when you thought about it.

Modern Britain has a much more diverse and mobile population so you end up carrying an ID with you, either in the form of a driver's license or a fingerprint. (The cops have mobile scanners, in case you haven't noticed. They also seem to have the power to detain you until they're satisfied that they know who you are.) Facial recognition is just a logical extension to this, its been actively tested for at least a decade so it should be ready for deployment. For those of you who then cry 'foul!' I should ask "Where were you when they rolled out ANPR?" or "You don't seem to object to the cops flying around looking for excessive heat coming off houses" or even that rather neat trick called an "Unexplained Wealth Order" ("You don't look like the type to be holding all that cash, sonny, so let's relieve you of it, all nice and legal").

The thing is, your rights have been eroded bit by bit for decades now and few of us have raised even a peep. Now they're talking about facial recognition, just one of the many tools they can use to pick people out of a crowd, and you want to ban it. Fat chance -- the best you'll get is a lot of procedural verbiage that sounds convincing but ultimately does nothing.

A Burger King where the only Whopper is the BSOD font

martinusher Silver badge

Look, if you insist on using Windows....

...because the graphics support is easier to use (?) then you've got to learn to live with its quirks.

Everyone knows that the the decision to use Windows isn't left to programmers. Its what you're told to do. Trying to explain that you shouldn't try to build unattended devices based on it because a program fault will invariably cause program termination (complete with terse message), a system fault (with an even more terse message) or a platform that usually has to be restarted after even a minor component change is just, as they say "pi**ing into the wind".

The easy fix is to just unplug it and plug it back in. (Or unplug it and leave it off...)

Space tourists splash down in Atlantic Ocean after three days in orbit

martinusher Silver badge

Re: Crew? More like modern day Laikas

Talking about Raining on the Parade. OK, the crew was really cargo or maybe the first cruise spaceship passengers. But then, like with aircraft, things have developed somewhat in the 60 years since the first manned flight, people went from "intrepid explorers going up in string and canvas contraptions, taking their lives in their hands" to "yet another plane load of tourists bound for Costa Whatever".

What SpaceX has really done is show both Virgin and Blue Origin just how much work they've got to do to be a credible space company. Especially as the booster and capsule used in this flight were used. That's quite an achievement -- and the 'crew' had in-flight entertainment as well. (Not to overlook the ukulele -- three days in a tin can with a ukulele...)

Apple, Google yank opposition voting strategy app from Russian software stores

martinusher Silver badge

Re: It's Russia, what do you expect ?

The post-revolutionary secret police don't appear to all that different from the per-revolutionary version. The only difference in the Gulag system seems to be that post-revolution it got scandalously close to being a major private enterprise (all that forced labour....keeps costs low.....). People in the UK were aware of this and there was a campaign to boycott their products.

Incidentally, before we British got all hot and bothered about the Kaiser's nascent empire Nicholas II was regarded as "The Bad Boy of Europe". There was even a credible fear that he'd reach into India through Afghanistan (....or whatever it was called in those days, the names have been updated to reflect modern geography). The popular 'invasion literature' genre of the late Victorian / early Edwardian period even had one book giving a fictionalized account of the Russian invasion of Britain.

martinusher Silver badge

Re: It's Russia, what do you expect ?

>but his legacy lives on.

Why are you surprised that Russia is full of Russians? (Although to be fair Stalin was Georgian.)

This is AUKUS for China – US, UK, Australia reveal defence tech-sharing pact

martinusher Silver badge

Re: A hint at the UK's future

I've always been puzzled by the size of the UK economy compared to the relative paucity of jobs in engineering (and their relatively low wages). Since the UK isn't big in agriculture or mining the numbers have got to come from somewhere and I suspect its 'financial services' that fill the gap -- banking, insurance and so on, what used to be listed as 'intangibles'.

As for the economy's size I believe that the UK's economy is slightly smaller than California's. Its all a matter of perspective -- Los Angeles County (not city, note) has a population and economy that much larger than many standalone countries. What really counts is how much of an economy benefits the population as a whole.

BTW -- When Orwell was writing a lot of his important works fascism was on the rise in Europe (and not just on the Continent). The English are better prepared than many to resist this -- after all, it was Samuel Johnson who wrote "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel". We, in the US, demonstrate this daily.

martinusher Silver badge

Re: buy gold now

It might be my jaded US perspective but Canadian foreign policy seems to be mostly outsourced to Washington.

martinusher Silver badge

Re: Shenzen, Shanghai, Beijing

I don't think so. It amuses me to think that all these wannabe Cold Warriors are ensconced in their offices plotting the latest anti-China moves are actually working in an environment where practically everything from the office furniture through the computing equipment and even the coffee machine was made in China.

I suppose we could substitute local products but here in the US after the diktat came down that we "weren't to use Chinese drones" until we found that the few made locally are not only functionally inferior but a whole lot more expensive (causing a partial retraction of the order on the Q/T). So I just have this mental image of "Brazil" as being the modern, China-free, information economy.

Yes, I know things are made elsewhere but as we've found out the hard way in the last year or so practically all supply chains go through China at some point. So the obvious first step would be to remedy this -- but its not got the same short term profit chops as building a piece of useless military hardware.

...and no, I'm neither a PRC troll or apologist. I just live in the real world.

martinusher Silver badge

Re: buy gold now

Australia seems a bit weird at the moment. It should be like Canada -- a handful of large provinces (states) with a relatively tiny Federal government -- but it wants to be like the US with a powerful Federal government able to dictate both domestic and foreign policy. Its not only nothing like large enough to carry this off but the Federal government seems to operate without even the nominal checks and balances that we have in the US -- reports of what their Federal Police get up to (and want to do) makes our FBI seem like a bunch of wimps.

I'm pretty sure its going to end in tears.

martinusher Silver badge

Re: The only credible regional threat Australia faces is China

...and why would the Chinese even consider threatening Australia? The only credible answer is that Australia is being used as a base for offensive actions against China.

martinusher Silver badge

I didn't hear any whinging and whining just an acerbic comment that maybe resources are better spent promoting regional cooperation than trying to set up military alliances. Especially pointless ones.

Australia needs China as a trading partner. The UK's much vaunted service industry is largely irrelevant to China (as is its manufacturing). The US is in a bit of a mess because its focus on Afghanistan and its overall global posture have left it mired in debt (I know, I own a chunk of it). I can't think of three other countries that are less suited to the role they've chosen for themselves. I think they're only doing it because they can't think of anything more constructive to do.

Computer and data scientists should be as highly regarded as 'warriors' says top UK cybergeneral

martinusher Silver badge


What with China being "the enemy" I daresay nobody's noticed that the bulk of the kit these cyber warriors will be using day to day will be "Made in China". Not just the computers and printers but also the coffee machine.

Maybe it will be a home-made effort (cue scenes from "Brazil" plus the traditional tea lady -- sorry, 'person').

Technology doesn’t widen the education divide. People do that

martinusher Silver badge

Re: I am a teacher

I have been programming since before the first wave of 'technology for kids' hit in the 1980s. Since my wife is a Physics teacher she caught the brunt of this, having to go on innumerable courses to learn this and that so it could be taught to kids. I was skeptical then and I'm skeptical now simply because writing code is relatively trivial compared to the actual mechanics of understanding and organizing solutions to problems (which, funnily enough, is what you learn in Physics and Mathematics classes).

Technology is useful, though. In recent years her students have applied their phones to observing and measuring phenomena. They even used it for conferencing in absent students before remote learning made this commonplace. Where its been a nuisance is when school policy changed, probably due to a successful sales campaign, and her laboriously constructed test and measurement got subsumed to the new wave of technology with its attendant support problems. (Fortunately she was able to retire before this got too bad -- the problem being that mentioning problems with technology when you're of a 'certain age' means you obviously don't understand 'computers' rather than than the new, improved, tools not working properly.)

Ex-DJI veep: There was no drone at Gatwick during 2018's hysterical shutdown

martinusher Silver badge

That one is too small to qualify. I fly R/C sailplanes which not only can be quite large but they can rapidly gain height in a strong thermal. A friend got his 3.5mter 'grabbed' and pulled right up to where it was just a tiny speck. He was lucky to get it down. It was equipped with an altimeter which said he'd only got up to about 1300' AGL.

martinusher Silver badge

>What kind of drone-sensitive organ do you posess to have "felt" its presence?

Common sense and the knowledge that people have done things with quadcopters that they really shouldn't. Like get some really neat footage of an airliner landing at Las Vegas. From above.

I tend to be skeptical of drone sightings from airliners based on personal experience with birds and light aircraft. A bird like a red-tailed hawk is about the size of a quadcopter and is the sort you might encounter while puttering along at a decent altitude. They're not easy to spot and even at the relatively slow pace of a GA plane -- about half the landing speed of an airliner -- the relative speed is high enough to make it difficult to identify anything. (Try bird spotting from a car on the motorway.)

That said, we've had the clown with the jet pack back recently, floating a few thousand feet up near the flight path into Los Angeles. I personally don't think its a jet pack but more likely a balloon made from a boiler suit or similar. Until we find the people responsible we won't know for sure.

China to push RISC-V to global prominence – but maybe into a corner, too, says analyst

martinusher Silver badge

Can I get a job as a analyst?

Both the article and all the comments so far don't mention what RISC-V is, why it appeared and what else is needed to make it into a system. RiSC-V is a natural evolution of several similar proprietary families that are built around a set of registers, a three address reduced instruction set, a five stage instruction pipeline and separate data and instruction caches. Although the registers are all nominally general purpose (and are all identical for addressing purposes) a number are dedicated for both machine control and stack management. The ARM actually conforms to this model but its got a bit of secret sauce in its instruction set in that it includes a built in 'skip' that allows instructions to be optionally ignored depending on the results of the previous instruction. So what's the big deal? Standardization is common throughout industry. RISC processors are efficient -- we've known this for 50 years -- so they can be made to appear as any particular external architecture (CISCs are invariably microprogrammed, there's a RISC or two in there that is running dedicated code because its impossible to efficiently design the logic any other way).

So what's all the fuss about? The Chinese are just doing the smart thing and converging on a standard, one that at least they have a measure of control over. There's not a lot else to say except that it does illustrate the way that politicians and pundits seem to completely misunderstand how the world works. De-factor standards like x86 and ARM emerge not because they're necessarily the best but because in the absence of incentive there's no need for an alternative. The needless shaking of the tree by our government merely provided the incentive and compounded the problem by failing to realize that its also an opportunity to design out the mistakes and shortcomings of the existing architectures. All we're left with is the "Chinese are just copycats, they can't invent anything" which, as anyone who's worked with Chinese people knows, is just racist blather. Its our growth industry.

Australia gave police power to compel sysadmins into assisting account takeovers – so they plan to use it

martinusher Silver badge

Re: Evidence m'lud...

....and the (Australian) expert on this process is currently languishing in Belmarsh prison. Never forget that the initial grounds for arresting him was a bogus sexual assault allegation from Sweden with no evidence being presented in the UK to extradite him to that country (and then onto another jurisdiction).

It is very difficult to regard our "western/democratic/independent" judicial system as credible.

You can 'go your own way' over GDPR, says UK's new Information Commissioner

martinusher Silver badge

Re: "morally bankrupt pathological liars"

I seem to have a vague memory (and a transcript) of a select committee hearing about the fallout from Cambridge Analytica that was held a few years ago in which Facebook was asked about the how/what/why of its business model.

Based on what was said there "morally corrupt pathological liars" seems about right. Obviously as a result of these hearings its quite possible that Facebook reformed its business operations and generally cleaned up its act.

Spot the dog? No, we couldn't either because Spot is a robot employed by United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority

martinusher Silver badge

Re: The problem with nuclear summed up in one throwaway phrase .....

We built a very nice facility in Nevada to manage nuclear waste. Technically there's nothing wrong with it. Politically, its a non-starter. (So we keep the high level waste in (leaky) tanks dotted around the country.)

Fortunately nuclear waste lasts a lot longer than politicians.

'This is the worst I've seen it' says Arista boss as entire network hardware sector battles component shortages, doubled lead times for semiconductors

martinusher Silver badge

Re: So you want a trade war, eh?

If you're a 'merkan then you'll know it as a trade war. The Trump administration went full tilt at various Chinese technology companies with Huawei being just the tip of the iceberg. Its been open season on the Chinese here -- not a day goes by without the obligatory negative media article(s), the "informed speculation" and just to garnish the mess the FBI has been harassing Chinese citizens, typically researchers in US universities who are, obviously, all spies.

In this atmosphere its not surprising that there would be a bit of Chinese pushback. It seems like more of a 'work to rule' rather than a strike, to use a labor analogy.

Amazon says Elon Musk's wicked, wicked ways mean SpaceX's Starlink 2.0 should not be allowed to fly

martinusher Silver badge

SpaceX does complain about rules, but....

The problem with SpaceX is that they're trying to evolve a commercial operation in industries that are dominated by big aerospace players that are essentially working for the government. Launches were few and far between, they took place in a couple of well known places and every one was a spectacle. Government regulations evolved for this older era of space exploration and these regulations don't manage well with the needs of the rapid pace of commercial development. A non-SpaceX example is the trouble that Virgin got into with their recent 'edge of space' flight. It deviated from the filed flight plan, possibly due to a technical issue, and it wasn't life threatening but it still brought the weight of the FAA down on it (who grounded Virgin pending an investigation). The problem here seems to be that they're not sure whether Virgin's 'thing' is a rocket or a plane, there's practically a hundred years of regulation and bureaucracy that somehow has to be massaged to fit a world that changed under their feet while they weren't looking. (FWIW -- the FAA is having a lot of problems with UAVs -- drones -- because the technology got away from them. They've evolved regulations but they don't seem to be particularly useful or even enforceable.)

I have reservations about companies cramming thousands of satellites into low Earth orbit but I think that Amazon's complaints are just sour grapes. SpaceX promised and delivered. I'm waiting for someone to successfully copy them.

Why tell the doctor where it hurts, when you could use emoji instead?

martinusher Silver badge

Do we really want to use Chinese script?

I once spent a fascinating couple of hours with a colleague who explained how to dismantle Chinese script, What he demonstrated is that if you know enough of the cultural background then you can read Chinese in English, its actually a language independent script. This makes sense given the age and size of China and the numerous ethnic and cultural groups that comprise the country but it has some obvious limitations, one being that you have to either rote learn a whole bunch of pictograms and how to use them or you have to have a deep understanding of cultural history. (This colleague was a programmer but that was just his day job -- his avocation was poetry.)(Chinese poetry is something else -- its form includes its shape, for example.)

Emojis are low rent pictograms. They are not useful as language (IMHO) although my medical provider uses them to illustrate pain scales (look it up....).

Australia rules Facebook page operators are legally liable for user comments under posts

martinusher Silver badge

Its only a little country

(Sorry Australians....but read on and you'll see what I mean.....)

Australia is a continent sized country -- its bigger than the continental US -- but it has a relatively small population, 25 million or so, with an economy to match. By regional standards its "barely registering" compared to neighbors like Japan, Philippines or Indonesia. Despite this it's government keeps on pretending that this is the Imperial Era where the cultural and economic dominance of Britain was reflected in Commonwealth countries like Oz. These days are behind us, though, so now global companies like Facebook have to weigh the risks and costs of doing business in Oz against the potential reward. The country is not "too big to fail" so the government needs to modulate its approach accordingly. (UK also take note....)

Incidentally, I'm not a Facebook fan since its purpose is a form of mass traffic analysis -- its the ultimate spyware. It is what it is, though -- its widely used so just saying "It shouldn't be allowed' is a waste of breath. User comments are part of its business model and, yes, they're going to include a fair spread of abusive and unpleasant material. The solution to this is to remove the mask, to require comments to be treated like any other published material with users unable to hide behind a pseudoname and guarantees of anonymity.

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

martinusher Silver badge

Re: An unused variable

>If they/you forgot to remove now superfluous variables during that re-factor...

You can get a cascade of issues if the function that used to use a parameter but now doesn't is called by a bunch of modules. In an ideal world you'd go through the entire code base refactoring everything to reflect the new definition but in practice you just can't do that. Disturbing stable and documented code is not a good idea because it cascades work -- remember, any change to a component, even if its just recompilation with a later version of the compiler, requires full testing of that component.

'It takes a hell of a mental toll' – techies who lost work due to COVID share their stories

martinusher Silver badge

There's a problem with HR software

According to recent reports its not you but the dumb software that HR departments use to manage job applications. Its actually an object lesson for all of us about what happens when sophisticated software -- or should I say "ostensibly sophisticated software" -- is put into the hands of dumb users. We've had ample warning about this because a simple search on 'resume hiring problems' will bring up numerous sites offering tips on how to make your resume stand out (many for a fee....). Put another way, the only way to get hired is to know how to game the system, know how these software packages work and how to game them.

The perfect storm is created by poor qualify filtering combined with ridiculous job specifications. One example quoted was for hiring nurses -- qualified applicants were being rejected because the job specification said the applicant needed to know "computer programming". Relatively few nurses are also computer programmers but I'd guess that practically all of them could enter patient information into a computer, the actual skill needed.

FWIW -- This has been brewing up for years. Back when I was a hiring manager I had some serious coups by gleaning the HR reject pile. I needed people with technical smarts, in fact one of the very best hires I ever did was someone who I will willingly describe as the "World's Worst Resume Writer".

One article on this subject is:- https://usanewswall.com/news/automated-hiring-software-is-mistakenly-rejecting-millions-of-viable-job-candidates/

(Search for "hiring problems resume filtering study")

PS -- As a final aside many years ago I was hired into a position where I was "absolutely essential" for the job in hand. As one of my hobbies is "industrial archaeology", i.e. going through abandoned filing cabinets to see the what, why and how of floundering projects, I went through the filing cabinet I had inherited only to find a copy of my resume I had sent in months before (and got no answer from). Apparently the company needed a paid recruited to soft talk them.

Italian stuntman flies aeroplane through two motorway tunnels

martinusher Silver badge

I suspect there's some software involved

This stunt might be a bit tricky for a human to carry off because our slow reaction time would dominate any visual feedback we had from the tunnel sides and floor. A flight control system that could continuously measure the distance to the tunnel walls and floor linked to a responsive aircraft would have no problem with this task. So my money's on the pilot having a bit of help.

US Air Force chief software officer quits after launching Hellfire missile of a LinkedIn post at his former bosses

martinusher Silver badge

Re: So true...

Managing is an organizing and administrative role -- essentially it's secretarial. Project management shares the 'management' tittle but is a completely different type of role, one that either has deep knowledge of the work or knows how to delegate to and communicate with those that do. Management problems stem from people misunderstanding the roles, they think that being the 'boss' automatically qualifies them as an expert in anything and everything (and what technical input they do receive is invariably from people more interested in their advancement than the success of the project who know how to play him/her like a fiddle.)

So, yes, a smoothly working group should have the manager' doing minimal work, its just a bit of admin and looking for problems and fixing them before they're a crisis (having reliable team members that know what they're doing moves this along). But in real technical life a manager is also organizing and monitoring (and probably working on) one or more projects.

Apple engineers complain of hostile work environment to US labor watchdog

martinusher Silver badge

Re: Is it just me ?

>From my limited knowledge based on decades of working for Merkin multinationals, are there hidden selection criteria for HR droids in manglement ?

My ('merkan) experience of HR is that they might not all come from the same stable but they certainly seem to know each other. They're a bit like law enforcement (which is, actually, their primary function in the US) -- they may work for different companies but they still represent the same force and when push comes to shove they all stand together.

Since they're organizers of company picnics and the like its easy to think that they're on your (the workforce's) side. They are most definitely not. If you have an issue with the company or its management they will automatically do everything in their power to protect the company regardless of right or wrong.

Since they know each other (in a particular area) it is also unwise to cross them because no matter where you try to work HR will be the gatekeeper.

martinusher Silver badge

Obviously Someone Hasn't Been Reading Stuff

Ashley seems to be so busy with work, social media and what-have-you that she's obviously not been reading any 'hard' news. Stuff about, say, Amazon employees attempting to organize. She may also have neglected to read her employment contract.

Discussing pay and benefits on a work Slack channel is perilously close to an activity called 'organizing a union'. Companies get really nervous about this sort of thing, they like to nip it in the bud, rooting out troublemakers and so on This is why information about organizing will tell you that Rule #1 is that you do not use an employer's time, facilities or technology to discuss -- even remotely and one on one -- the benefits of organizing.

The bit about her contract of employment concerns the manner of employment in California. As a "right to work" state both employer and employee are free to terminate their relationship at any time without prejudice. Put simply, you can be fired at any time from a job, no notice needed. The application of this rule is usually softened a bit to avoid startling the herd but I've actually witnessed sudden dismissal happening to colleagues. (As an extra note, if it is "for cause" you can kiss any unemployment benefits goodbye.) Employees are, of course, free to quit at any time for any reason. (Not recommended, unless you don't need another job.)(Ever.)

(Of course, being a nice middle class professional A. will surely protest that she wasn't trying to organize anything as uncouth as a union on work time &tc.)

Apple stalls CSAM auto-scan on devices after 'feedback' from everyone on Earth

martinusher Silver badge

There is no inherent property of information called "nasty child porn". Its something we -- we humans -- use to define for a particular class of information. So its easily changed to scan for anything from 'nascent terrorist' to 'fluffy bunnies'.

Child porn seems to be the 'go-to' any time a rationale is needed to justify creating some additional governmental (or even extra- governmental) powers. It is almost as if the entire child porn universe was created with the express intent of providing such justification. (I hadn't heard of it for my first 60 years or so then suddenly its everywhere......has to be dealt with.....imperative.....future of civilization is at stake.......)

Give us a CLU: Object Oriented Programming pioneer arrives on GitHub

martinusher Silver badge

Re: Oh no

I don't suppose you've looked closely at what curl does because if you had then you'd notice it has a lot in common with FTP. The entire web ecosystem is based on FTP's ad-hoc framing and control protocol to manage data transfers and access errors.

The problem with "clicking on a link and data appearing in a window" is that its making a lot of assumptions about who or what is clicking on a link and what is going to happen to that data. Since web protocols are being promoted for IoT devices -- a dumb move, IMHO -- the data intended for human eyes only will have to be parsed by less than ideal mechanisms such as those used be EXPECT to manage terminal sessions automatically.

Microsoft Azure deprecations: API changes will break applications and PowerShell scripts

martinusher Silver badge

Re: Rationale?

This is the fundamental problem with tools like PowerShell. PowerShell itself was only reluctantly trotted out because the gap between a genuine shell and the old MS-DOS command line had become such a yawning chasm that people needed to use non-Microsoft scripting tools to bridge it. Since Microsoft dislikes any part of the programming ecosystem it doesn't control then it does the 'embrace, extend, extinguish' trick. Many -- if not most -- programming shops will reflexively follow along so they gain control. But as they have done for literally decades confusion, tail-chasing -- but also revenue -- will follow in their wake.

(I've been working with, and around, Microsoft's programming ecosystems since the early 1980s and the only thing that's changed over these decades is the sheer amount of stuff that still mostly 'sorta' works.)


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