* Posts by ThomR

12 publicly visible posts • joined 2 Oct 2015

Raspberry Pi fans up in arms as Mathematica disappears from Raspbian downloads


Push it down!

This is, sadly, another example of everyone, people and companies alike, pushing down responsibility for their formerly-featured work to those using the result. It's endemic, everywhere around us.

It goes like this: at product introduction, some added feature, at some acceptable internal cost, is added. In cases like this, where a partnership is involved, the motivation is around future business. Over time, market fluctuations and normal product evolution, that value pull-through is seen more and more as an expense and less as a valuable investment. At some point, the decision is made that the feature "isn't that widely used", and "it's better separated", and responsibility is pushed to the user. For the organization, it's a simple cost-cutting event, and it works wonders. What they don't realize is that they have just spawned a required set of actions that take time and effort on the part of their entire user base. Regardless of how few a percentage of all users have to do the work, N-users minus one (the now-fired worker) now have more work. The effort spent by the whole of humanity is exploded in huge amounts by that one decision.

Sure, for this one decision it's not "that much" extra labor across the earth. But, look around you these days, and you'll see companies and people doing this everywhere, pushing responsibility and effort to the user. A "safe, clean and secure" storage company that won't pay to control the rat population so you can't store food, bedding, clothing, cardboard boxes,....? A rental-car agency that makes you clean the interior in addition to filling the gas tank? Still taking your shoes off at airports? How many shoe bombings have been thwarted? Um...likely zero? Yet the human effort expended for zero benefit continues.

I'm not saying there's a solution, I'm just saying it's getting annoying. Put the thing back in and deal with your licensing issues without wasting our time giving a d@mn about it. Did we all have to work through the license terms way-back-when? No! If we had, we'd have not set it at just 5 years, duh. So why do we have to even care now?

Just sayin....

Raspberry Pi supremo Eben Upton talks to The Reg about Pi PoE woes


buy a POE adapter...

Last I checked, there are feed-through PoE adapters. Seriously...search Amazon for "PoE Adapter". They're even cheap. They output 12V; make a

small module bring that down to the USB level, and you're done. What is

this Hat thing of which you speak? Yes, the HAT would be great, fan and

all, but it it's the PoE functionality that's prime, a solution is


What I'm surprised at is that Raspberry peeps didn't give a replacement

switching regulator oscillator cap value to simply up the switching

frequency. Sure, will lose efficiency through the filtering, but it

will give better load regulation, if the chopping frequency is the issue.

Rejoice! Thousands more kids flock to computing A-level


Re: What...no bitwise shift operators

who knew that Ethernet uses "Collection Detection".

"Knowledge of Carrier Sense Multiple Access/

Collection Detection (CSMA/CD) as used in,

for example, Ethernet, is not required" Data Compression

They don't even talk about discrete cosine transformation compression like used in JPEG? Logic Gates

Better add in the quantum devices they're coming up with! Internet security

"Discuss worms, trojans and viruses, and the

vulnerabilities that they exploit." wow...all of them? In one unit? Client Server Model

Compare JSON with XML...which they never introduced. They never even introduced "markup" languages at all; even as a class of language.

4.10 Databases

Wow..that is one horribly out of date unit. None of the modern DB architectures are there. Functional Language Programs

Includes a list of function languages that the student can use, except that only one (Haskel) is in the list of supported languages way at the top. How would they teach functional programming in a language they don't actually know or use? Evaluation

"Know the criteria for evaluating a computer system"

They're kidding, right? The criteria could include any aspect of the hardware, software, and systems that is a measurable characteristic. Techniques use (for the project)

So, now come so much emphasis in the grade is on "excellent coding style characteristic", although from everything I read, there is NO actual teaching about coding style. A search shows that "coding style" only shows up in testing. They certainly go into in depth as to how a student should use in, but they don't seem to ever actually present that to students. Osmosis maybe? Beware, kiddies, neatness counts!

Okay, same kind of thing,, Coding styles

They claim excellent programming uses "Defensive Programming", and yet NONE of that was touched on in the course materials. That is NOT a topic to simply leave out.

Overall, there seems to be a dearth of teaching about how to actually decompose a real design, and evaluate it critically against many different criteria. That's not always a straightforward thing, and optimization work techniques like refactoring should be part of any programmer's understanding.

Okay, that's it...I'm not reviewing the teacher logistical hoo-hah.

Do I pass?


Re: What...no bitwise shift operators

Hmmm...they don't even cover them in the section where they talk about binary in depth (3.5.4). They nearly touch on it in 3.6.5 Using Boolean


Ah...FINALLY finally mentions them. I suppose it's a year or more later when they finally figure out how to manipulate them? Teehee....move that stuff forward!


LOL...nah, they had you do that project because that was literally the ONLY project they had ever done themselves. Well, tried to...then they

gave up and became teachers.


Re: Not a lot has changed

Yeah...the main difference is that many of us who studied that back then are now somehow considered unqualified, or over-qualified. All

I wanna know is this: there are zero jobs that use all skills learned,

(Literature never came up in my EE work). Doesn't that mean that

EVERYONE is in some measure overqualified? So how come only the OLD

overqualified get shat upon?


What...no bitwise shift operators

LOL...down in section 3.1.1, they don't see fit to include bit-wise shift operators like << and >>. Silly English Kkkkkknights!

Drug cops stopped techie's upgrade to question him for hours. About everything


Re: It's a sound salvation.

Nope. The proper plural of antenna has always been with an e, even here. Only the silly among us use the s. Actually, because it was a biology word first (think butterflies and such), it's always had the latin plural ending. Silly English Knnnnnnight! ;-)

Oregon will let engineer refer to himself as an 'engineer'


I wouldn't trust his second opinion on a medical issue, so why roads?

In Oregon and many other states, the public and courts long ago decided that there are certain business practices that the public benefits from, and relies on, certain professional practioners being certified by the state as being competent, educated, trained and up-to-date on technologies as well regulations. Those regulations are designed to both protect the public and to ensure the public is protected equally and without prejudice. Government does that. Corporations don't have to.

Because the public has vital interest in ensuring that police are tested, that fire-fighters and EMTs are tested and certified, that doctors are board-certified and required to have ongoing training. So why is it such a stretch for people to realize that our roads, bridges, the foundations of our major building, the water pipes, the sewer systems, all that infrastructure, designed by engineers, would also need to be done by verified-competent people. No, very few would argue that's somehow not needed. Of COURSE Civil Engineers, Building Engineers and other public-works engineers have to be trained and certified and tested.

But, here's where people are conjoining two issues. The issue that this guy is running afoul of is NOT that he claims a title. It's that he's arguing that HIS information on how traffic and traffic signals work is just as valid as that of an actual certified Professional Engineer, and that his advice should be taken as such. The problem is that regardless of how "good" or "true" his information is, by him recommending how to make changes in the systems, he is in fact "practicing" Professional Engineering, because he's giving "advice" to Professional Engineers about the work that they are doing in their professional roles. The leap people are missing is this: if any of those engineers DID use his information, even if only by reference, because the guy is NOT a PE, those PEs could lose their jobs and license for using unverified information. If they followed his advice and someone died, guess who would be held professionally liable? ALL OF THEM. Luckily, the licensed guys would at least get defended by the state. But their license would be gone because they used data they knew was not valid. The state would be liable because they allowed the changes. But worse would be THE GUY....he'd be on the hook for ALL of the culpability, because he provided that advice as an unlicensed, illegally-practicing Engineer.

Yes, the fine is silly. But, we all know engineers, even European Dipl. Engrs pull out that sheepskin all the time in justifying their intrustion into some technical discussion. Just like doctors and lawyers and all the high-status people do. The problem is that while that might be fine to claim at a party, or a first date, you should NEVER say that to someone who really IS a P.E. It would be like you watching cop shows and thinking you're a private eye, and then telling a cop that you're a detective too, and that's why he should listen to you. Sure, he'll chuckle at first, but if you persist and insist, he's gonna slam you for impersonating an officer at some level. Same with playing doctor at the local hospital, or claiming you're a lawyer to some local business owner who actually DOES keep one on retainer.

In the end, to me, the PEs were correct to ignore his advice, because the guy cannot possibly know all the regulations and other factors involved...otherwise, he'd be a certified Professional Traffic Engineer too...but he's NOT. And the people of Oregon should applaud those PEs for keeping untested and unverified claims out of traffic systems that could devastate the lives of thousands in one bad morning commute, the liability for which will fall to every single person in the state.

And before you say "oh, pishah, that'll never happen", I got three words for you: Flint Michigan Water. Enough said?

Dumb bug of the week: Outlook staples your encrypted emails to, er, plaintext copies when sending messages


From what I remember, S/MIME-based encryption in Exchange was not intended for obfuscating the contents of the email. Instead, it was for validating that the original email was unchanged. From what I remember, being involved in writing the original RFC-style protocol documentation for Exchange, this was a known aspect of how S/MIME encryption worked. There always has to be some unencrypted part that leaked information, because the extended headers often contained identifiable information as well. How do you pass a public key in an extended header when all the extended headers are encrypted, was root of the problem, and the message-body was just a longer-length version of that same problem. That's why they eventually went to SMTP over HTTPS/TLC, so that the encryption encapsulated the entire connection.

Or, I could be remembering it wrong, too :D. But, this rings a loud, clear bell in my recollection.

What a To-Do! Microsoft snuffs out Wunderlist


Outlook tasks a victim of multi-version AD schema management complexity?

IIRC (and yes, I could be wrong)...the reason why tasks died a slow and painful death was that the Exchange user and configuration AD storage schema for tasks was very different from the Outlook schema for storing tasks locally. So, there was at minimum a translation layer. Because Exchange's property schema is in AD, every schema-change-requiring feature added to tasks by the Outlook client teams, forced the wholesale update of AD schema across all organizations. Well, add in the complexity of long transitions from one version of Outlook to another version within the org, where both Outlook (and thus task schema) must co-exist for months, if not years, and you end up with a nightmare in AD schema management. And of course, those wily end-users didn't have to fix it, they just had to complain to their IT teams that their tasks weren't working. Once the nightmare of schema management made it to the C-level, it was not uncommon for the edict to come out that there was no official support for tasks within the org, and they would not be stored in the main Exchange mailbox stores. Ouch! Others will know more precisely, but that's what it always seemed to come down to...oh, and having to document both the task file format in local PST/OSTs and the Exchange schema in AD became an ongoing evolutionary nightmare.

Weird garbled Windows 7 update baffles world – now Microsoft reveals the truth


Pseudo-Localization, IMO

MS isn't saying for sure, but having worked there for a while, those long, jibberish strings look like what I'd often see in pseudo-localization testing. When they make a dialog box that has text on it, for example, at some point before they have the in-locale text ready, they put in jibberish text that's ~2.5-5x longer than the English test that's there. They (used to?) do that for sanity checking the UI and resource handling code, and to make sure there is enough space in the dialog. With languages like German and Japanese, the translation tends to be a lot longer than the English.

So, they take the resource files (or similar for the particular application), and then replace all the strings, rebuild the app/application/service/site/whatever, and do a UI review to make sure none of those strings are truncated, or futz with the UI. This also lets them easily find string resources that were inadvertently put/left in the code and not identified as a localizable resource.

That's my conjecture. Guess. Prognostication. Imaginary Cannard. You get the picture ;-).

Who knows what it really was, beside one sloppy load of egg custard on their faces, but that's what it looked like to me.