* Posts by Tony Pott

27 publicly visible posts • joined 8 Feb 2007

CEO told to die in a car crash after firing engineers who had two full-time jobs

Tony Pott

Wrong is what feels wrong.

At any job there's a line between acceptable screwing of the company and fraud. It's nothing you can define, but it's there, and most people would place it in roughly the same place. It's what feels wrong. Browsing the web when you should be working (and there's work to be done) is technically stealing time from your employer, but no-one would think it was 'wrong': just don't get caught. Having an entire full time job that you're doing in parallel, is on the other side of that line. I can't explain why, but it feels wrong to me.

I'm comfortable with the example of the guy who automated his job and played games: he's available if needed. That's just efficient use of time. If he'd had another full-time job that he couldn't put down the moment he was needed, I'd feel differently.

Open-source leaders' reputations as jerks is undeserved

Tony Pott

Re: Offensive and poorlt thought through

As opposed to an autistic one.

He wrote about a man whose behaviour was, he believed, indicative of autism. I pointed out that a man who was neurotypical could behave this way. Nothing I wrote implied that this behaviour was displayed by all non-autistic men: I would have to be entirely mindless to think that, and nothing I've written in this thread indicates that I am.

For you to interpret what I wrote in the way you have is irrational.

Tony Pott

Re: Offensive and poorlt thought through

Are you qualified to diagnose autism, or are you merely saying that, from your observations, he fitted the stereotype of an autistic person?

An alternative view of this guy's behaviour is that he was a neurotypical man, fully conscious of his technical standing and that it allowed him to get away with being an asshole, so he did.

It is precisely because these worthless stereotypes persist to pollute the thought processes of otherwise rational and decent people (as I'm sure you are), that I take it so seriously when reputable tech journalists persist in perpetuating them.

Tony Pott

Offensive and poorlt thought through

Can we stop saying autism causes assholery please? It's lazy, offensive, and untrue.

The reason why many people in tech behave poorly flows not from the 'fact' (largely unsupported by data) that disproportionately many of us are autistic, but from the way we approach finding solutions to technical problems. In general, we strive to redefine the problem, and exclude what has no direct bearing on it, so that we build a simplified mental model where the solution is apparent. Because collaborative relationships are not part of any technical problem domain, they are excluded from consideration, the work needed to maintain them becomes seen as a diversion of resources, and behaviour that damages collaboration is seen as harmless.

A fix for this is not obvious, but please stop blaming autistics. We struggle to cope only in real-world social situations, and are often overly careful not to cause offense because, even if undiagnosed, we are aware of our limitations. In online interactions, which are the core of this article, we function on an equal footing with our neurotypical peers.

This article seeks to conceal a lack of understanding of the problem with a shameful attack on a vulnerable group. Please do better.

C: Everyone's favourite programming language isn't a programming language

Tony Pott

Stated another way

All the issues discussed flow from C running on top of a modern OS or on top of the hardware abstraction layer of the OS which is written in C, and a processor geared to servicing the needs of that OS. There it emulates a low level language, and is extremely useful doing it: so good, in fact that all modern OS's and their key libraries are written in C, and very few problems have arisen (the fact that it is possible to list named examples of problems illustrates how few they are). For every instance of a OS based system, there are a hundred embedded devices too small to require an OS, and the code there is written in C and it works on the bare metal.

The article (and the ACM piece it draws from) could more accurately be rewritten as 'C is vital to modern computing, and does it's job very well, but not perfectly.' Of course, this, while evidently true, is so evidently true as to be boring and unworthy of reporting. <troll> Much more interesting to report on the mitherings of the proponents of newer languages who don't want to do the work required to get their new toys to work well with existing infrastructure. </troll>

Microsoft will release a web browser for Linux next month. Repeat, Microsoft will release a browser for Linux – and it uses Google's technology

Tony Pott

Re: "This means Linus Torvalds has definitely won, doesn't it?"

MS is definitely embracing open source now. The next stages are, of course, 'extend and extinguish'.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, health secretary Matt Hancock both test positive for COVID-19 coronavirus

Tony Pott

They'll be fine. The virus will realise where it is and slip away with an embarrassed smile. Even COVID-19 has standards.

Just as Ecuador thought it had seen the back of leaks, over 20m citizen records are exposed

Tony Pott

Logic error

The presence of entries for dead people does _not_ suggest that the data is out of date. Rather, he fact that there are more entries than Ecuadorians requires that data must have been entered over time, and dead entries have not been purged.

FCC kills plan to allow phone calls on planes – good idea or terrible?

Tony Pott

Re: Thank goodness.

Seriously? You know many people like that? I don't think my contacts contain a landline number for any individual (as opposed to an organization).

And before you accuse me of being a millennial wedded to mobile technology, I'm 60 this year.

Tony Pott

Re: +1

Yep, absolutely sounds like a plan to me.

Top interview: Dr Patrick McCarthy – boss of the world's future largest optical telescope

Tony Pott

"will be the world's largest optical viewing device mankind has ever built"

Please, please, please tell us about the larger telescope built by non-humans.


Great British Block-Off: GCHQ floats plan to share its DNS filters

Tony Pott

< sealing off those addresses previously associated with attacks. >

Which will be any tor exit node, thus killing the usability of tor to access uk sites.

EU 'net neutrality' may stop ISPs from blocking child abuse material

Tony Pott

'That, however, may be a matter for the courts to decide.'

Yes, I expect owners of illegal sites hosting CP to immediately sue ISP's if they continue to find their sites blocked.

Get real.

UK Home Office is creating mega database by stitching together ALL its gov records

Tony Pott

What could go wrong?

Big government IT, many DB's now reduced to a single point of failure. While this could be seen as a serious threat to civil liberties, in practice it will probably turn out to be very funny indeed.

SCO vs. IBM looks like it's over for good

Tony Pott

Re: Put on your red dress baby

I'd forgotten PJ promised that. I do miss Groklaw.

Dude, relax – it's Just a Bunch Of Disks: Our man walks you through how JBODs work

Tony Pott

Scott Lowe's article, bad link

The link under 'Scott Lowe' doesn't work: I had to go to the page source and copy the underlying URL.

This may be because my browser doesnt know what to do with 'herf': should that be 'href'? :-)

Happy 20th birthday, Windows NT 3.1: Microsoft's server outrider

Tony Pott

Re: Not quite old enough.

I should have corrected you in my reply: the existence of WinME means, of course, that they maintined 2 lines until XP., not until Win2K.

Tony Pott

Re: Not quite old enough.

IIRC the issue was games. They had great difficulty creating an environment under NT that would support DOS/WIN Win9x games adequately, or at all. This was not really sorted till WinXP, so while many business machines moved to Win2K, MS introduced WinME as a (horrible) stopgap for home computing until XP was ready.

LOHAN ideas..

Tony Pott

Re: LOHAN ideas..

Launch pre-burst:

You know how distended the balloon can get before it is at risk of bursting, so that's what you aim for, not for a specific altitude. A couple of overlapping conductors, such as aluminium foil, can be attached so that at a certain point of distension they are no longer in contact. Cover them with an elastic membrane to keep them flat and in contact in the wind and you're done: before the balloon bursts, a circuit breaks and you're done: simple.

Apple iPhone 5 to sport CRT-style screen

Tony Pott


As some people have almost suggested, convex screens help the user to handle glare, since reflected light appears as a line (single axis curvature) or a point (two axis curvature). In either case a slight tilt will reveal whatever is under the reflected light.

There is a joke here about fanbois rapidly rotating their wrists back and forth, the completion of which I leave as a problem for the reader.

PlayStation Network credit cards protected by encryption

Tony Pott

Industry standard not so secure


Noticeably absent from Sony's update was the status of passwords used to log in to the PlayStation Network. Industry practices dictate they should never be stored in clear text, but rather should be run through a one-way cryptographic hash algorithm, which converts each string in plaintext to a unique set of characters that can never be reversed.


In practice, a lot of them can be reversed by offline brute force. If one restricted oneself to trying to crack weaker passwords: lower case, 8 characters or less (which is a significant subset of normal users), and assuming a 20 byte hash value (sha1 for instance, expressed as an integer rather than a string). A quick back-of-an-envelope calculation tells me you can build a look up table of hashes of all possible combinations of this on slightly over 6TB of disk space, which can be had easily for ~£250.

Lower case and digits, 8 chars, needs about 82 GB, which if you're able to access other people's servers, is also attainable, and in a few years can be expected to become financially viable on your local machine.

From the point of view of users, the conventional wisdom of 'choose a password that even someone who knows you couldn't guess', is superseded by 'choose a long password, that you can remember, because threat comes from people who don't know you'. Your friends might guess that your password is mrmugginsthecat, but a lower case look up table for up to 15 characters would require 6.28E22 bytes, which will not be viable for the forseeable future.

Patch Tuesday update triggered Skype outage

Tony Pott

Oh come on !

Are we supposed to believe that this is a bigger simultaneous reboot than an entire time zone turning on their machines when they arrive for work in the morning?? Every morning?


NZ parents may lose battle to keep baby '4real'

Tony Pott


This is just bloody mindedness. I'm sure they would have no problem calling their child Foreal, which actually looks like quite a nice name.

Burned by a MacBook

Tony Pott

How the mighty have fallen

Apple used to make good, reliable, products. Sadly, this has changed. Today their QA is rubbish. Apple won't get better while they continue to be their own biggest fanbois, since this makes them incapable of recognising that they, not their customers, are the problem.

Sad really.

Reg hack hypnotised by bouncing boob samba

Tony Pott

...stare at the photo above while shaking your monitor.

or stare at the photo above while shaking your member should work too.

NASA announces psych testing review

Tony Pott

Someone has to ask the question:

Does this mean NASA will no longer be recruiting space cadets to train as astronuts?