* Posts by cat_mara

102 posts • joined 27 Jul 2015

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TypeScript is now a 'top 10' language – just in time for the 'feature complete' 3.6 beta

cat_mara

Re: My BigDic sez ...

Oh Gawd, you're causing serious flashbacks here. For my sins I worked for Corel after I graduated uni, mid 90s. The Tech Support people were forever having to explain to customers that just because you got 1,000 fonts in the box, you didn't have to install them all, especially not without installing the free font manager you also got in the box. IIRC, Windows 3 and 95 used to get decidedly ill if you installed more than 500 fonts at a time...

Fonts are a weird business. I can't think of anything that's more labour-intensive and yet as undervalued as creating a good font-- because if you're doing it right, most people won't even notice a well-made one. Yet it will have taken a significant amount of effort-- designing the glyphs, tweaking the kerning pairs, hinting-- all that work that most people won't appreciate, and which can be swiped in seconds by any fecker copying a .ttf or .otf file. You can't even copyright a design (presumably because back in the day copying a font meant actually making your own metal type, in which case good luck to you), hence like you say the number of bootleg almost-but-not-quite-the-same Helveticas knocking about.

cat_mara

Re: My BigDic sez ...

XPS was a typical Microsoft play: an open standard equivalent already existed (XSL:FO) but, no, they had to roll their own... and having done so, let it languish. You know, guys, there's no shame in leaving figurative money on the table, or a pie unfingered¹-- especially if you're going to stand there with your finger in the pie and a gormless expression on your face like you're expecting some kind of prize just for turning up.

One of these days, I'll print a document to the XPS driver that exists on just about every Windows box, just for giggles...

¹ Cough. I'll get me coat...

cat_mara

Re: My BigDic sez ...

Microsoft did attempt their own version of PostScript at one point, in cahoots with Apple of all people, in an attempt to take Adobe down a peg or two (or at least to provide a bargaining chip they could use when negotiating the licences for Adobe's technology). It was called TrueImage, being the complement to TrueType which Apple contributed to the endeavour. It seems to have sunk without a trace; IIRC, what Microsoft delivered was such a streaming jobbie that Apple went back to Adobe tall between legs. Still, at least we got TrueType fonts out of the mess, which were infinitely preferable to arsing about with Adobe Type Manager... (trails off into greybeard muttering about Ye Elder Dayes)

cat_mara

Re: PHP at number 4, maybe it's time...

I dunno if CSS is Turing-complete but the latest versions have grown so many bells & whistles that some maniac was able to build a chat client with it

cat_mara

The fact that the most recent versions of the popular JavaScript framework, Angular, use TypeScript heavily probably has something to do with it

We don't mean to poo-poo this, but... The Internet of S**t has literally arrived thanks to Pampers smart diapers

cat_mara
Coat

A container of barely-contained reeking effluvia, designed for infants?

If nothing else, Pampers have given us today's Most Apposite Metaphor For The 2019 Internet.

Mine's the biohazard suit...

Sputnik? No, comrade, this is Spunknik: Frozen sperm manages to survive zero-grav in this totally realistic test

cat_mara
Paris Hilton

So, where's the Paris ang-- uh, never mind...

Bill G on Microsoft's biggest blunder... Was it Bing, Internet Explorer, Vista, the antitrust row?

cat_mara

The blame for this rests squarely on Gates himself...

... as he was the one who demanded against all reason that Windows CE had to have all the trappings of its desktop big brother, right down to the Start button, on devices with screens where this made absolutely no sense¹, all in the name of "preserving the Windows franchise". Apple may be overly precious about their user interface but even they realised that the user interface for a phone or tablet has to be different from that for a desktop computer. IIRC, the later versions of Windows Mobile started to fix this lossage but I think the damage has been done by then: Windows on portable devices just never felt right and the continuous chopping and changing made it clear that Microsoft themselves never considered it a priority.

(¹ We'll gloss over how Microsoft then went and did the same thing arse-backwards for Windows 8, demanding against all reason that the desktop UI had to resemble that of a tablet)

How much open source is too much when it's in Microsoft's clutches? Eclipse Foundation boss sounds note of alarm

cat_mara
Unhappy

Re: EEE

In FB and Google's case, it's more like Acquire, Neglect, Discontinue...

Top Autonomy exec Sushovan Hussain: Bond villain or Mob boss? Both, say prosecutors

cat_mara
Trollface

Re: Layering the mud..

Well, they were going to but do you know how much it would've cost to print that book out on a HP printer??

Accenture sued over website redesign so bad it Hertz: Car hire biz demands $32m+ for 'defective' cyber-revamp

cat_mara

I don't want to come across all "both sides do it" (oh God!)...

... but having been involved in one of these big tendering wheezes, I've seen a mindset that can only be described as conspiracy thinking between the client's managers and the consultants. It goes something like this: "You guys have done loads of these jobs, right? You're men of the world-- if we tell the sodding beancounters how much this thing is really going to cost, they're going to walk away right now. So you scratch our backs and we'll scratch yours: you go low on your estimate and take an, ahem, flexible stance on any change requests we lob your way, and we'll be likewise flexible on signing off on any overtime requests you need to get the thing over the line. How does that sound?" Except not said in so many words, of course. Certainly not in any way that could be taken down and used against any of the parties involved, nudge-nudge, wink-wink.

Of course, doing business this way basically means the company's IT department is in a conspiracy with an outside consultancy against its own management and finance department, and all those estimates, requirements documents, lists of "deliverables", timelines, and other precious artefacts of the tendering process are so much junk from the get-go. The project is off the rails from the start because the project scope is a fiction concocted to get sign-off and nothing more. And so it ploughs on, burning money, until the political embarrassment becomes too much and the managers call a halt going, "it was the filthy consultants! They made us do it!" It's a win-win for the IT managers, see: if the gamble pays off, you collect the ass-pats due to one who successfully delivered a critical infrastructure project; if it doesn't, well, it was only someone else's money anyway and you have a handy scapegoat to blame. "It was the consultants!" Yeah, that wouldn't ring so hollow if the exact same consultants weren't back six months later working on the next white elephant...

cat_mara

Re: IBM, Accenture fight for massive Australian Defence ERP deal

Shades of that Aliens vs. Predator film there: whoever wins, you all lose

We've read the Mueller report. Here's what you need to know: ██ ██ ███ ███████ █████ ███ ██ █████ ████████ █████

cat_mara

I'm reminded of an expression I came across in a history book that was supposedly popular in medieval Italy to describe husbands whose wives the Pope had taken a shine to: "blind in one eye, and knows when to wink the other". Back then it was a simple matter of self-preservation, as any fellow objecting to His Holiness getting his hole was likely to end up in the Tiber; nowadays it's the self-serving act of the rich and well-connected.

Amazon boss snubs 'expensive', 'sub-optimal' relational databases. Here's looking at you, Larry

cat_mara

Re: 'Would you like a black, always-on cylinder in your kitchen...'

No, but I would like to you to pay your fucking taxes and your warehouse workers a living wage, you slap-headed parasite

User secures floppies to a filing cabinet with a magnet, but at least they backed up daily... right?

cat_mara

Re: Well if the US ships want the Chinese to keep out of the way

Many moons ago, I worked for Ireland's state electricity company who used Husky handhelds for their network technicians to patrol the distribution network looking for faults. As these were the days before widespread use of GPS, this involved starting at a substation and following the lines out from it, regardless of any rivers, boggy terrain, angry livestock, etc. you might encounter on the way. My job was to keep the network technicians supplied with spares like batteries, charging cradles and replacement units for when they finally succumbed to the Irish climate (one of the features of the software running on the things was to do moment-of-inertia calculations on a pole to determine whether it had rotted to a depth where it was at risk of collapse which tells you all you need to know about that) as well as the occasional feature enhancement, all in Turbo Pascal for DOS. They were extremely robust though their LCD screens were something of an Achilles heel-- if anything was likely to go, it was usually that, sometimes even an overnight in a cold truck cab would do for them. IIRC, Husky ended up being bought up by a US outfit (Itronix?) I was given an evaluation unit of one of their Win CE devices to play with (which will tell you how long ago this was) but it was crap.

ISTR Husky doing a publicity stunt where they buried one of their devices in the riverbed of the Thames for a month and when they dug it out, it still worked!

Here's what Lynch, Hussain and HPE are saying about Autonomy pre-buyout due diligence

cat_mara

Re: The CEO always wins

Yup, I've said it before, with CEOs it's always, "the buck stops with me, that's why I'm paid lots!" and then "waaah! I didn't know anything how can a mere mortal like me be expected to know everything that goes on around here?" when the buck actually does stop with them. But they at least can comfort themselves in the soft billowy folds of their golden parachutes... always.

cat_mara

Motivated reasoning

Another factor might be that Leo Apotheker-- a software guy brought in specifically to transition HP to a pure "services" outfit and looking to reduce HP's dependence on hardware sales-- simply saw what he wanted to see in Autonomy's figures and disregarded how much of their money was coming from hardware sales. None so blind etc.

London's Metropolitan Police arrest Julian Assange

cat_mara
Trollface

Re: Did they get the right guy? ...

"I put on my robe and wizard hat"

cat_mara
Devil

Re: Did they get the right guy? ...

My mate on WhatsApp just described him as "pedo Gandalf"

cat_mara

Re: Lesson learned

And empty your cat's litter box!

Need a Ferranti Pegasus board in your life? Brit computing history could be yours for four figures

cat_mara

Poor Ferranti...

They pretty much made the 80s microcomputer industry in the UK possible with their ULA technology, then bought a CIA front company in their attempt to expand into the US market. From ye Pffft of All Knowledge:

'Unknown to Ferranti, ISC's business primarily consisted of illegal arms sales started at the behest of various US clandestine organizations. On paper the company looked to be extremely profitable on sales of high-priced "above board" items, but these profits were essentially non-existent. With the sale to Ferranti all illegal sales ended immediately, leaving the company with no obvious cash flow... The financial and legal difficulties that resulted forced Ferranti into bankruptcy in December 1993.'

So much for that "special relationship".

Mozilla tries to do Java as it should have been – with a WASI spec for all devices, computers, operating systems

cat_mara

Re: A dream to some - a nightmare to others

I heard the title of your post in the voice of Pinhead from the Hellraiser films-- that can't be good...

"The binary... you executed it... we came... please, no tears, it's a waste of good suffering..."

Someone's spreading an MBR-trashing copy of the Christchurch killer's 'manifesto' – and we're OK with this, maybe?

cat_mara

Pardon my ignorance...

... but I thought Word refused to run any macros in a file with a .docx extension, that it had to be a .docm extension instead? Or was that so much security theatre?

Facebook's at it again: Internal emails show it knew about Cambridge Analytica abuse 'months' before news broke

cat_mara

"Those were two different things"

"I mean, we can barely keep track of the cock-ups in here so it's no surprise you guys are having trouble out there"

TV piracy ring walks the plank after Euro cops launch 14 raids and shutter 11 data centres

cat_mara

Re: whack a mole

It's eye-wateringly expensive because they know you're not going to cancel your subscription

Very much so. My sister complains bitterly about this because she knows my football-addicted nephews would go bananas if she chucked out the Sky box, even though Sky Sports is about the last thing they're subscribed to at this point (though they're getting to an age now where she may be like, "you want it, you pay for it")

It's not just Sky either, mind, who are gouging pricks. I remember back in the days of the Celtic Tiger, the base cable package offered by NTL came with a sports channel (EuroSports, maybe? I am a sports-ignorant) that showed footy matches from one of the African leagues, presumably because they could pick them up on the cheap. Once people realised the standard of football was quite high, they became quite popular-- and that you were getting them anyway at no extra cost didn't hurt either. Also, there were lots of African families working in Ireland at the time because of the Celtic Tiger... anyway, once NTL realised they were actually popular, they vanished of the base package in short order and you had to pay extra for them. Miserable hoors.

Not a great day for Oracle: Top cloud exec jumps ship, analyst recommends cutting shares

cat_mara

I saw an article recently on this-- specifically, it seeks to answer whether "rockstar CEOs" with a string of corroborated successes to their names exist, and if the industry dogma that an MBA is necessary to a CEO's effectiveness holds. TL;DR The answer seems to be, "um, no" to both questions...

cat_mara

Just being able to say "we tried that and it didn't work" can justify someone's salary.

In the case of an Oracle exec, it's more like, "we tried that and it worked like a charm right up until the marks, er, customers realised how much we were ripping them off. So just do it for six months less than that."

Uber driver drove sleeping woman miles away from home to 'up the fare'. Now he's facing years in the clink for kidnapping, fraud

cat_mara
Coat

Re: Are you kidding?

And it's a competitive world...

Thanks, now I'll have "Everything Counts" by Depeche Mode stuck in my head all day.

Mine's the leather bondage vest, ta ...

'Java 9, it did break some things,' Oracle bod admits to devs still clinging to version 8

cat_mara

IME, when people hear the words "Oracle" and "more free" in the same sentence...

... they start wondering what the catch is, or where the sneak licence auditor is hiding...

From hard drive to over-heard drive: Boffins convert spinning rust into eavesdropping mic

cat_mara

Re: I'll file this in the ...

I wouldn't dismiss it altogether, given the number of numpties I've had to work with in the past who were apparently unclear on the whole "indoor voice" thing...

FBI warns of SIM-swap scams, IBM finds holes in visitor software, 13-year-old girl charged over JavaScript prank...

cat_mara
Facepalm

So the Japanese cops...

... are basically arresting this kid for the modern day equivalent of typing

10 PRINT "I AM COOL!"

20 GOTO 10

into a display machine in a computer shop? Blimey, I hope there's a statute of limitations... (looks around nervously, sweats profusely)

Hipster whines at tech mag for using his pic to imply hipsters look the same, discovers pic was of an entirely different hipster

cat_mara

When life imitates "Nathan Barley"

Was he a self-facilitating media node though, yeah?

The first ZX Spectrum prototype laid bare... (What? It was acceptable in the '80s)

cat_mara

I had a friend with a 464 who later upgraded to a 6128. Locomotive did a good job on the CPC BASIC-- no way I was telling him that back then, though ;-) IIRC, Locomotive went on to design the operating environment for the PCW series of word processors for Amstrad which got a lot of tech journo careers off the ground, including some around here, I believe.

cat_mara

Part of the reason for the lethargic BASIC was that Clive, cheap sod that he was¹, refused to give Nine Tiles the time to properly optimise the Spectrum's ROM routines for speed-- given the time & financial constraints, they basically took the ZX-81 ROM & hacked in the colour, sound, hi-res graphics, new tape loading code, etc. on top of what was already there. No mean feat on John Grant's part given the time he was given to do it in, and no disrespect to him, but no wonder the thing runs like a 3-legged dog. It was something I realised years later when I used interpreted BASICs on CP/M machines of similar vintage to the Spectrum and they were much snappier... I'd love to see what could have been done do the BASIC's performance with a bit of tweaking of the ROM code but maintaining the entry points would be tricky.

¹ Then he had the cheek to whine about how his computers weren't taken seriously as business machines, how they were only used for games, after it was his own relentless penny-pinching and nothing else that made them unattractive to the business market! Fucking hypocrite.

Now you've read about the bonkers world of Elizabeth Holmes, own some Theranos history: Upstart's IT gear for sale

cat_mara

Re: Anyone else see a little bit of Charles Manson behind those eyes?

I was thinking the old "Overly Attached Girlfriend" meme was due for refurbishment...

Linus Torvalds pulls pin, tosses in grenade: x86 won, forget about Arm in server CPUs, says Linux kernel supremo

cat_mara

Speaking of those Nike shoes...

... I bet "my left shoe won't even reboot" was a phrase you never expected to see outside of an Onion article, right?

ZX Spectrum Vega+ 'backer'? Nope, you're now a creditor – and should probably act fast

cat_mara

Re: It was worth every penny...

I dunno, I think if I'd wanted to see a big pile of money set on fire, I'd have watched that KLF documentary again. The music was better (no disrespect to Messrs Galway, Follin, Whittaker et al.)

Dratted hipster UX designers stole my corporate app

cat_mara

Re: I'm hoping UX/responsive design is a phase

Sure, 99 times out of 100 the contents of that menu are going to be the same because they are all the same basic top-level actions that most applications support on their associated files¹-- creating a new one, opening an existing one, saving changes, printing, etc. But if you look at the original spec for the CUA (you used to be able to download it from IBM's site though good luck finding it now) the name of the menu was supposed be different depending on the kind of file being edited in that window. It was a minor thing, possibly intended to differentiate the CUA from the Mac HIG which always used "File" as its first menu (though of course the Mac always only had that one shared menu bar at the top), but I don't think it ever got traction. IIRC, even OS/2's Workplace Shell didn't follow it and it kept to the CUA better than most.

¹ Using "file" in the loosest possible sense here, given that CUA and GUIs generally were coming about in the 80s and the height of the object orientation craze when "everything is a file" was fast being superseded by "everything is an object".

cat_mara

Re: I'm hoping UX/responsive design is a phase

Right now I'm looking at a browser that has the classic CUA menus. If I were to click on File I know what to expect because, give or take application-related variations File menus do similar things.

To be nit-picky, a 100% CUA-compliant browser ought not call its first menu item "File" but something like "Page" instead. Because, well, a Web page isn't a file, is it? Originally, AFAIK, all CUA apps were intended to have different top level menus to give you a clue to the kind of object the app manipulated: "Document", "Sheet", etc. But it goes to show how quickly foolish consistencies and cargo-culting creep into these things.

Return of the audio format wars and other money-making scams

cat_mara

Re: SonicStage

Was bloody awful, wasn't it. I had a Sony laptop with a swap-able drive, one of which was a mini disc drive, which was great and in theory made making new discs a lot easier, but the software was atrocious.

It was, wasn't it? I didn't have one but my brother did. The late 90s/ early 00s skin-tastic abortion of a user interface was vomit-inducing enough as it was but I'm surprised it didn't actually have a "Clippy" style avatar of a Sony lawyer in the bottom-right hand corner of the screen going "it looks like you're trying to infringe our intellectual property! Are you? Are you really? Go on then! We dare you!" I swear the room used to fill with the odour of sulphur when he used it as it was. Never have I seen a piece of hardware and software so ruthlessly compromised by its own manufacturer as MiniDisc.

The day the "actually makes stuff" part of Sony goes "right, that's it" and rises up against the "intellectual property" arm that's hamstrung them for decades and guillotines every last rent-seeking parasitical one of them can't co-- oops, wrong forum, sorry.

cat_mara

Re: Not this the?...

Second the recommendation for Techmoan. Someone actually asked him on Twitter once what obscure audio format he'd like to see resurrected and he half-jokingly replied, "a commercial release on Elcaset"... and some nutter went and did it!

Roses are red, this is sublime: We fed OpenAI's latest chat bot a classic Reg headline

cat_mara

Re: The Musky smell of hype.

Sssh, don't blaspheme Neckbeard Jesus or he'll call you a nonce on Twitter or something

cat_mara

Re: gigo

The original data came from Reddit and you are surprised at this?

"But we trained it on r/iamverysmart! Stands to reason it's very smart now, don't it?"

Oh Snapd! Gimme-root-now security bug lets miscreants sock it to your Ubuntu boxes

cat_mara

Re: snapd and systemd

In fairness to systemd (and that's not something you'll hear from me very often), AFAICT this bug is solely in snapd's code and would have been exploitable even if using an old-school System V style init script to start it. The root cause of the bug was in the way snapd determined the privileges of the process calling the service it exposed on the socket which it did by parsing various bits of information passed to it. As Daniel J. Bernstein (§3.3) has pointed out, one needs to be very careful when parsing anything.

LibreOffice 6.2 is here: Running up a Tab at the NotebookBar? You can turn it all off if you want

cat_mara

Re: Font problems - Comic Sans

Comic Neue is much nicer, not that that's saying much.

cat_mara

Re: Backward compatibility

Yes, there is excellent support for old or obscure file formats... LibreOffice grew the ability to import mid-90s ClarisWorks files a few versions back, allowing me to view old university lab reports I had backed on an old Zip disk (!) Reading them I was left struggling with the question of whether I actually ever knew the material or was just blagging it because the intervening years had certainly wiped all knowledge from my brain...

After Amazon's Bezos exposes Pecker, National Enquirer pushes back, promises to probe itself

cat_mara

Re: Who leaked?

Fellow-upholder of the fine tradition of muckraking British journalism, Popbitch¹, has been alleging that it wasn't any shadowy US governmental appendage responsible for leaking the pictures of the, um, appendage in question but Ms. Sanchez' own brother Michael who is apparently chums with the Enquirer editor.

¹ Who have taken time from their usual fare of "who'd win in a fight? Baboon or badger?" to publish some pretty in-depth journalism on the whole Enquirer/ AMI empire and what a shower of sleazy bastards they are. Edit: The first part of the Enquirer stuff is public but the rest is paywalled, alas.

cat_mara

"Viewers of Bezos' pecker also viewed..."

The D in SystemD stands for Danger, Will Robinson! Defanged exploit code for security holes now out in the wild

cat_mara

Re: The upside of open source

is that you can put your money where your mouth is and write your own drop in replacement.

Except, unfortunately, that the systemd developers refuse to commit to a stable API contract against which a drop-in replacement could be written and tested for compliance with the reference implementation. This is what has stymied prior attempts to produce re-engineered versions like uselessd, or get it running on OSes other than Linux. The lack of such a contract, IMO, is one of the main reasons why systemd has become such a crawling horror in the first place.

The D in SystemD stands for Dammmit... Security holes found in much-adored Linux toolkit

cat_mara

Re: "much adored" ?

I think they misspelled "abhorred"... at least, that's my theory

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