* Posts by james_smith

293 posts • joined 29 Aug 2017

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Snapping at Canonical's Snap: Linux Mint team says no to Ubuntu store 'backdoor'

james_smith Silver badge

The worst thing about snap is that it runs contrary to the concept of shared libraries that are easy to upgrade. Each snap package includes the dependencies for the app, which means you may have multiple (vulnerable) versions of a library installed. It's DLL hell all over again from a security perspective.

Watch an oblivious Tesla Model 3 smash into an overturned truck on a highway 'while under Autopilot'

james_smith Silver badge

Re: It is autopilot but not autonomous

"as Tesla stats show: Accidents happen far less often with activated AP than without."

Ah, stats from a company that is very selective about what stats it releases. Also consider:

1. Autopilot is usually engaged on the kinds of roads with significantly less accidents per mile travelled for all car models.

2. Many, many more miles are travelled with autopilot deactivated.

Twitter ticks off Trump with new 'Get the facts' alert on pair of fact-challenged tweets

james_smith Silver badge

While his pushing of the voter fraud fantasy is the wider issue, the continual tweeting by Trump about the Joe Scarborough conspiracy theory is all the more disgusting - especially since Klausutis' husband has called on him to stop.

Chicago: Why I just grin like a dork... It's my kind of Bork

james_smith Silver badge

Re: "...or a simple mistype in the max_connections system variable"

Running the tests without enough concurrent requests is the usual problem. So many times I've had to fix other people's code that works fine in a single thread with one request, but doesn't scale ...

Berlin's renowned nightclub scene is showing signs of life. Just one problem: No dancing

james_smith Silver badge

Re: Sounds like nerdvana

I'm reminded of my first visit to a US nightclub in San Francisco. Music too quiet to dance to in case anyone sued for hearing damage. Lights too dark for any atmosphere in case anyone sued for tripping over something. And a refusal from the bar staff to serve more then two drinks "in case you get drunk".

ALGOL 60 at 60: The greatest computer language you've never used and grandaddy of the programming family tree

james_smith Silver badge

Re: Pass by name

Aren't variables from the enclosing scopes supposed to be immutable in lambdas? Or is that implentation dependent?

james_smith Silver badge

Re: .. never used .. ?

"They're surprisingly small compared to modern language manuals."

Reminds me of the BCPL book, smaller than K&R but still includes the source code to a compiler for the language itself.

Rust marks five years since its 1.0 release: The long and winding road actually works

james_smith Silver badge

Re: Meh

FFS, C has had a boolean type for over twenty years. I guess you're one of those hippies who can't accept that the world didn't buy into the LSD soaked world of Lisp and its obsession with parentheses.

Behold: The ghastly, preening, lesser-spotted Incredible Bullsh*tting Customer

james_smith Silver badge

I've got a similar issue right now. Wrote and extensively tested a new data import feature on my Linux development laptop. Deploy new app version to my boss, where the import fails on his Windows machine. It turns out the system that generates the data to be imported checks the OS and produces a subtly different format for Windows.

Source code for seminal adventure game Zork circa-1977 exhumed from MIT tapes, plonked on GitHub

james_smith Silver badge

The same guy has also made a PDP-8 control panel. Both kits use a Raspberry Pi running SIMH as the guts of the system. I've built the PDP-11 kit and it's fantastic, want to replace the Pi with an FPGA recreation of the PDP-11's internals at some point as someone else has that project on the go. Hoping there'll be a PDP-10 control panel next!

Data centre reveals it modeled interiors on The Hunt for Red October sets

james_smith Silver badge

I assume the emergency lights would go on if an alarm was triggered. The monitoring of who was allowed into the building and whereabouts they were was very good as well, with the swipe cards only allowing access to the specific floor and area that our kit was housed in.

james_smith Silver badge

Last employer where we had our own physical servers in a data centre, the place reminded me of the the funeral home in Phantasm. I always felt really creeped out in there, although the worst occasion was when I wandered into a corridor to unexpectedly find one of the centre technicians sat on the floor. Wasn't helped by the technician in question looking a lot like Jabba The Hutt.

It also had motion activated lights. You'd be sat there tapping away at the KVM keyboard when suddenly all lights would go out leaving just a few blinkenlights behind rack doors to prevent you being in pitch darkness.

UK IT contractors slipping back into old ways of working now IR35 tax reforms delayed

james_smith Silver badge

I hope you explained SWMBO the legal responsibilities and possible consequences of being your company secretary,

james_smith Silver badge

"I don't see how this is relevant."

My point was that most of the contractors I've worked with claim these deductions fraudulently, quite openly boasting about it and mocking those that didn't. As for IR35, it's been clear for a long while that a lot of companies employ contractors because it's cheaper than employing permanent staff for what are really permanent roles. For instance, on my last contract in 2016 the head of development had been a contractor at the same company, in the same role, for over ten years and was still outside IR35. In a programming and DB support team of roughly thirty people all but two were contractors and almost all working on BAU stuff, not short term or specialised development .

james_smith Silver badge

"You are missing the fact that you also pay Corporation Tax on dividends. There is marginal difference between this way or PAYE since 2017."

Tax on salary is still substantially higher than on dividends. On the lower rate it's 7.5% on dividends versus 25% on salary In the higher rate bracket dividends are taxed at 32.5% versus %40 on salary. Even taking into account the difference in the untaxed allowances and exact boundaries between lower and higher rates it works out substantially less tax for IT contract rates.

james_smith Silver badge

"HMRC falsely claims the IR35 is about tax - since 2017 there is no tax advantage to operate via PSC."

There is - you can still pay yourself a basic salary and take the bulk of your income as a lower taxed dividend. You can also "employ" your spouse tax free up to the limit of the free pay allowance. You can also claim for the likes of having an office at home* (even when you don't work from home) and get the VAT back on any purchase that you can vaguely claim to be business related.

* One of my fellow contractors claimed a tax deduction for the cost of a new carpet in his spare bedroom, since he pretended it was his home office and that the wear and tear on the old carpet was down to business use. And yes, he got that one past HMRC.

You can get a mechanical keyboard for £45. But should you? We pulled an Aukey KM-G6 out of the bargain bin

james_smith Silver badge

I've got a Model F (clone of the IBM with the brand "Senco" on it), mid 1980s vintage and still going strong. If I didn't have a couple of Unicomp and Filco keyboards with USB plugs then I'd invest in one of these:

https://www.tinkerboy.xyz/product/tinkerboy-xt-at-usb-converter-with-soarers-converter-firmware/

james_smith Silver badge

I use a Filco with a specific type of Cherry mechanical keys that feel as good as the ones on my old Unicomp Model M but without the racket. I was "encouraged" to buy it by my manager when a graphic designer mentioned in his exit interview that the noise of my keyboard was a factor in him leaving the company!

Web pages a little too style over substance? Behold the Windows 98 CSS file

james_smith Silver badge

Re: Where is the Motif version?

Motif is not much different from the Win 98 UI. MicroSoft was involved with the creation of the Motif look and feel, and it fed back into the UI design for Win 95, 98 and NT 4.0.

This hurts a ton-80: British darts champ knocked out of home tourney by lousy internet connection

james_smith Silver badge

Too right with the wired cable approach. Even in my tiny two up, two down terrace the WiFi is terrible upstairs. As soon as we were told to work from home I put a desk near the router and ran a cable from it to the work laptop.

james_smith Silver badge

Re: Actually ...

I found out mine was not up to the quoted speeds - it turned out the fibre connection in the cabinet was broken *and* the wire to the eaves of my house used the wrong clamps causing it to corrode to the point that it impaired connectivity. Two Openreach callouts later and I finally have the internet access I pay for.

james_smith Silver badge

Re: Actually ...

And expenses can cover absolutely anything. Jacqui Smith's husband made a mistake, he should have claimed for "pay to view documentary for investigative purposes". MPs can claim for furnishing and decorating provided they use approved suppliers - and those suppliers are only the "best". Need a new TV to "keep up to date with current affairs"? That will be a top of the range one delivered by John Lewis.

From Brit telly presenter Eamonn Holmes to burning 5G towers in the Netherlands: Stupid week turns into stupid fortnight for radio standard

james_smith Silver badge

Re: re: God's gift to women

Holmes is an utter egocentric twunt. In his recent court case where he was trying to avoid a tax bill he described himself as "the best live TV presenter in the country", "better than anyone else", "the market leader and an expert", and "answerable to no one but myself". Satisfyingly he lost the case.

Self-driving car LIDAR stalwart Velodyne sued for sacking a third of its staff claiming coronavirus was the cause

james_smith Silver badge

I've been on big projects with offshore or outsourced teams and without exception the Indian ones have been appalling. All the Thai, Ukrainian, Indonesian and Romanian teams have been great though. It seems to be down to the Indian education and business cultures. In the former you learn by rote and using your initiative is discouraged. In the latter, getting the contract is all that matters - to the point of lying - and ability to deliver is not a consideration.

OK brainiacs, we've got an IT cold case for you: Fatal disk errors on an Amiga 4000 with 600MB external SCSI unless the clock app is... just so

james_smith Silver badge

The PET that I bought a couple of years ago came with the West book. It's a brilliant description of the hardware and how to interact with it, which is proving invaluable as I try to create MIDI interface for the machine.

james_smith Silver badge

Re: My favourite timing bug

Possibly an Amdahl mainframe?

Cloudflare dumps Google's reCAPTCHA, moves to hCaptcha as free ride ends (and something about privacy)

james_smith Silver badge

Re: Audio versions

Another problem is the US-centric nature of some of the questions. For instance, what the f*ck is a "sidewalk"?

If you've ever wished Visual Studio Code could be more open source, the Eclipse Foundation would like a word

james_smith Silver badge

I have to agree with this. A lot of developers seem to stick with it because they're used to it, but having used NetBeans and IntelliJ I find Eclipse the clunkiest IDE I've ever experienced. The GUI controls behave in unintuitive ways, and the library they are from leaks memory like a sieve. Ironically, I find Eclipse performs poorly despite the native code GUI library, with controls freezing and their contents jumping perceptibly. The plugin framework is terrible for end users, with dependency hell, and the preferences dialogs are totally baroque. Add in the still piss poor Maven integration and I strongly discourage people in the teams I work in from using it.

Collabora working on making any DirectX 12 driver able to support open graphics and parallel programming APIs

james_smith Silver badge

"This means that a GPU vendor only has to implement a D3D12 driver for their hardware in order to support all three APIs,"

Thereby eliminating OpenGL drivers and cutting out any platform except for Windows. Embrace, extend, extinguish.

Your Agile-built IT platform was 'terrible', Co-Op Insurance chief complained to High Court

james_smith Silver badge

IBM promising the moon on a stick at the sales stage? Sounds familiar. We had IBM come in to present their cloud hosting a few years back. Two very smug, expensively suited salesmen told us pretty much word for word "Whatever you need we have it and we're better than anyone else". Forunately myself and my equally cynical boss asked for a trial account. It turned out to be the least mature of the alternatives we were looking at, and amusingly the performance went through the floor when our virtual servers were migrated from a European to US data centre. This migration was unannounced and contrary to the agreed policy that for regulatory reasons our data would not leave the EU.

Tinfoil hat brigade switches brand allegiance to bog paper

james_smith Silver badge

Re: Corona hits 2020 - for german speakers

German humour is usually so dry that it's easily lost in translation.

james_smith Silver badge

Re: The The

I trace my love of the harmonica to hearing The The as an impressionable teenager.

james_smith Silver badge

Re: you'd still struggle to get through a couple of rolls

I hate to perpetuate a stereotype, but there again maybe it isn't a one if it's true?

I had a French girlfriend for nigh on ten years, and hygiene was not her strong suit. Her approach to bodily smells was to apply more perfume until the cloying smell was almost unbearable. I can only assume that water and soap in France are heavily taxed or in short supply.

james_smith Silver badge

Re: you'd still struggle to get through a couple of rolls

Bathroom at home has a Turkish style toilet (I live in London, but her indoors is Turkish). These kind of toilets come with a built in bidet kind of thing. Much more hygienic than basically spreading bacteria around with bog roll.

AI startup accuses Facebook of stealing code designed to speed up machine learning models on ordinary CPUs

james_smith Silver badge

Re: "nifty software tricks to achieve similar speeds on CPUs"

The G5 Powermac also came in a quad CPU configuration. Made quite a nice space heater.

Our 'solution is killing us in a number of areas' IBM said about doomed £175m Co-Op Insurance project

james_smith Silver badge

Re: Oh look, another failed megaproject

After employing numbnuts like Lennart Poettering and Ulrich Drepper, and foisting SystemD on us I'll be quite happy for RedHat to disappear up IBM's fundament.

Posted from a Void Linux machine (no SystemD and usi g the musl C library in place of glibc).

If you're writing code in Python, JavaScript, Java and PHP, relax. The hot trendy languages are still miles behind, this survey says

james_smith Silver badge

Since when has CSS been a programming language?!?

It's only a game: Lara Croft won't save enterprise tech – but Jet Set Willy could

james_smith Silver badge

I watched the Nostalgia Nerd channel episode last night where he reviews the Spectrum Next. What a fantastic machine it is.

Sure, check through my background records… but why are you looking at my record collection?

james_smith Silver badge

Re: "you can no longer laugh at Dance of the Vampires" ?

No "alleged" about it. He skipped the US after pleading guilty but before sentencing.

james_smith Silver badge

Re: I suppose they'd raise an eyebrow or two ...

I once saw the mighty Type O Negative, and they had the Birdie Song on a loop for half an hour before coming on stage.

james_smith Silver badge

Re: I'll now be humming it for weeks.

My go-to ear worm killer is Hamburger Lady byThrobbing Gristle.

james_smith Silver badge

Re: And if you don't do social media?

Don't know if it's still true, but having a landline phone number used to improve your credit rating as well. This was when almost everyone I knew already used mobile phones exclusively for personal calls.

Time to svn commit like it's the year 2000: Apache celebrates 20 years of Subversion

james_smith Silver badge

Have they finally implemented decent branching and merging? When I was still using it back in 2013 this feature was an an unfinished hack that shouldn't have been released according to its author. I remember merging as being very, very awkward and problematic.

If there's a bustle in your hedgerow, don't be alarmed now: Brexit tea towel says it'll just be the gigabit broadband

james_smith Silver badge

Re: Drying

Nope. The research (commissioned by a major paper towel manufacturer) showed that bacteria would form on the floor. The floor can be dealt with by daily mopping, while the research found that peoples hands were actually cleaner than when wiped with paper towels. That wasn't quite the result the paper towel folks were after, so they bigged up the "bacteria on the floor" bit.

BAE Systems tosses its contractors a blanket... ban on off-payroll working under upcoming IR35 tax reforms

james_smith Silver badge

The higher price is to HMRC - since employing contractors is generally cheaper for companies than employing someone on a permanent contract. I discussed this over drinks with the financial head of one company I was working at, since I was amazed at the high ratio of contractors to permies (roughly 60-40). She explained that the cost of employing contractors was lower since the company paid less tax and no holiday or sick pay.

It was an eye opener for me, since I'd always assumed up to that point that contractors were employed because they were highly skilled and could therefore demand high rates. Something I was quickly to find was bollocks, since most of the incompetent people I've had to work with (both as a contractor and permie) were contractors who would generally wing it for 6-12 months and then move on.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to save data from a computer that should have died aeons ago

james_smith Silver badge

I worked on an awful system that ran on IBM AS/400 kit and had it's own custom compiler. You wrote the software in a horrible stack based language similar to PostScript which was compiled in one pass.

For a few years after I quit that company I'd get offers to work on systems written with it as clients were given the source and a copy of the compiler. I declined.

james_smith Silver badge

Re: Lots of this type of stuff on YouTube

Watched that video with the 8" floppies full of geology data this weekend just gone. Great YouTube channel, especially the Apollo guidance computer and the Soyuz clock.

james_smith Silver badge

Re: Texas Instruments

That's a roustabout term - the people who operate drills on oil rigs - not heard it ina long time!

FCC forced by court to ask the public (again) if they think tearing up net neutrality was a really good idea or not

james_smith Silver badge

Re: Net Neutrality is to Free Open Internet as PATRIOT Act is to Patriotism

"Quick! Bring the net and a straitjacket, they've let one of the crazies out".

One man is standing up to Donald Trump's ban on US chip tech going to Huawei. That man... is Donald Trump

james_smith Silver badge

Re: Clueless he is.

Has it actually been confirmed he uses Adderrall?

Yes, at least in the 1980s. His former physician confirmed it.

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