* Posts by Scene it all

197 publicly visible posts • joined 31 Dec 2018


Intuitive Machines' lunar lander tripped and fell

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Re: Yutu 2

Anyone who has played Lunar Lander on the PDP-11 knows it is a McDonalds.

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Article mentions Japanese effort failing, and US hasn't done it in 50 years. ooo, it's haaard! No mention of India and China pulling it off and the Chinese one even had a rover.

Top Linux distros drop fresh beats

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Re: Style is optional

Those narrow borders (and scrollbars too) are my only real complaint about XFCE. I prefer clean and functional and fast, not flashy.

United Airlines’ patience with Boeing is maxed out after repeated safety issues

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Already having the training and mechanics in place for the Airbus way of doing things is a huge plus.

Remember when enterprise administration was more than just a browser dashboard?

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A couple years ago I built a fancy light sculpture for the TV room, with randomly shifting colors from LEDs buried under some tubes filled with cut glass crystals. In the base is a small RISC-V single-board computer. I programmed the whole thing, bare metal, in assembly language and it turns out that the RISC-V instruction set is VERY similar to the old IBM 360 from over 50 years ago. All the same programming techniques. It brought back fond memories.

HP customers claim firmware update rendered third-party ink verboten

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No internet for you

I have an HP printer but one of the first things I did when I got it was add a firewall rule to my internet router that blocks the printer from any communications, inbound or outbound, with the outside world. (I do the same with my surveillance cameras.) When this printer dies, its replacement will NOT be from HP, but somebody else who has good Debian support.

RIP: Software design pioneer and Pascal creator Niklaus Wirth

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That name/value joke is hilarious. Somewhere I have a copy of the Algol-68 report and it is a monster. They invented their own meta-language just to describe it, which made comprehending it even harder. (The computer does not "execute" a program, rather it "elaborates the definition".) The best part was the humorous quotations dropped into the highly technical descriptions. In the section on comments it has this quote from "The Mikado": "Merely corroborative detail, intended to lend artistic verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative."

Amazon already has a colossal ads business and will extend it to Prime Video in January

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I used to work as a projectionist and we never stopped to change reels. There are two projectors and a control box that synchronizes the changeover from one to the other. And this was in a rather small theater. That little flash you see in the upper right corner is part of this system.

FAA stays grounded in reality as SpaceX preps for takeoff

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An analysis I saw of the telemetry showed the booster decelerating markedly when the second stage engines fired for the separation. This would have created negative G's in the booster's propellant tanks disrupting the smooth flow to the engines. The booster had reduced thrust considerably by then down to just three engines. Perhaps that was too much.

Suits ignored IT's warnings, so the tech team went for the neck

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Here is your password

The response time of a resource like a communications link or a CPU goes up *exponentially* after it reaches 50%. The suits apparently did not know that.

In the early days of development of a certain nameless operating system the developers thought it would be clever to make use of the hardware's CRC32 instruction to generate hashes for account passwords. Some more math-oriented members of them team thought this was a very bad idea, but were rebuffed. So the math-nerds thought a demonstration was in order. They wrote a program that read the password files on every computer running this software (which they could do, being on the development team, and the files were not as protected as they might have been) and set about cracking the credentials. They had realized that it was not necessary to come up with the correct password for an account, but only come up with a password that *hashed to the same CRC32 value*. And that the payback of this effort would be increased by doing it for the entire network at once, which was hundreds of accounts. They essentially cracked all the passwords at once.

The next day everybody on the in-house network, developers and managers alike, received an email saying that here was either their password or one that would work just as well. I remember getting one of these emails.

The hashing algorithm was changed immediately.

IBM Software tells workers: Get back to the office three days a week

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I did software development for many decades and I *hated* face to face meetings. This kind of work requires keeping a lot of things in your head at once and any interruptions can make you lose your place. A lot of the time even our group meetings had two participants from many time zones away, just by phone, and it worked fine. No need to be breathing the same air.

Power grids tremble as electric vehicle growth set to accelerate 19% next year

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I looked at my typical driving pattern and decided to install the smaller 4 KW charging port in my garage. I do set my BEV to only charge at night even though we do not have time-of-day billing, just to be a good citizen. TOD is offered, but we do not have enough shiftable load to make it worth while and in fact it would cost us more.

Arm wrestles assembly language guru's domains away citing trademark issues

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Re: It's a bloody word in our bloody language!

It would make them easier to block too, instead of having to keep track of which company Zuckerberg bought this week and what *their* domain name is.

NASA still serious about astronauts living it up on Moon space station in 2028

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Except for robots being controlled by humans, which is nearly all of them.

NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is returning with its first-ever asteroid sample

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I wonder what the cost comparison is

between this NASA mission and what Japan did TWICE.

30 years on, Debian is at the heart of the world's most successful Linux distros

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I have used RedHat, Gentoo, Ubuntu (various flavors) and now back to simple Debian12 with XFCE desktop. I will say this - it boots fast.

Boffins reckon Mars colony could survive with fewer than two dozen people

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And everybody has to cross-train on skills, like submarine crews do, so you don't end up like Dr Jerri Nielsen in Antarctica who had to train some other people to help her do a breast biopsy on herself in the middle of winter. She later had to do chemotherapy on herself before she could be air-lifted out.

We need to be first on the Moon, uh, again, says NASA

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As Heinlein pointed out in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, any mass driver capable of doing that is also a formidable weapon. And we do not need more water on Earth - we have plenty already, just in the wrong places.

As for using Moon water for further space travel, I don't think there is going to be any. With the collapse of agriculture on Earth, nobody is going to be in a mood to work on such projects.

White House: Losing Section 702 spy powers would be among 'worst intelligence failures of our time'

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And when they make end-to-end encryption illegal, Section 702 is how they will round up all the Americans using it.

Aliens crash landed on Earth – and Uncle Sam is covering it up, this guy tells Congress

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This issue of XKCD https://xkcd.com/1235/ points out that with the near universal adoption of smartphones, and everyone carrying a camera around with them at all times for over a decade now, "We've conclusively settled the questions of flying saucers, lake monsters, ghosts, and bigfoot. "

A room-temperature, ambient-pressure superconductor? Take a closer look

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It would be useful in computers if it is able to be deposited on a substrate and etched the way is done now in integrated circuits.

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Re: Apatite

Might be a TECO macro

LG to offer subscriptions for appliances and televisions

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Re: @StrangerHereMyself - Wrong

My LG dryer, now 10 years old, has so many possible settings I can't imagine it needing customization for different climates. A year ago when my LG washer broke I went to the store to get a new one. If I wanted to pay a lot more I could have gotten one with WiFi that would let me check on whether a load was done from my cellphone. Even though when a load is done the machine already plays a jolly tune that you can hear two rooms away. I did not see it was worth many hundreds of $$ more for that. SO I got the non-communicative model which again has so many settings and options I can't see why customization would be necessary.

I do not have a Bluetooth-enabled toothbrush either. (Yes, they exist)

Producers allegedly sought rights to replicate extras using AI, forever, for just $200

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That same technique of replicating the crowd was used in the movie "Ben Hur" in 1959.

Intel pulls plug on mini-PC NUCs

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I have a NUC and am quite happy with it. It is on all the time and runs security camera software, as well is pihole for the entire LAN. I see that System76 has a very similar product called the Meerkat and I have always been impressed with System76 build quality. I wish they offered it with an AMD processor though as they do their larger systems.

What I really want is something in that form factor powered by a RISCV processor, but people seem to only be making bare SBCs still, and in small quantities.

US unhappy about China's tech pushback, rules out decoupling

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Re: Journalism and comments in China

Here is South China Morning Post article about the visit.


Oracle Cerner bleeds jobs as Veterans Affairs project stalls

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"Bankrupt Western Civilization"? Maybe Larry should look into how all the other developed countries provide better healthcare for less money per person than the US. It can't be just that they have better records systems. Even Cuba is better at it than the US.

Datacenter fire suppression system wasn't tested for years, then BOOM

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My first job out of college was in a medium sized IBM shop with the raised floors. The 'smoke' sensors in those days were optical and could be triggered by too much dust. Some of the sensors were mounted under the raised floor, where all the cables were. Their locations were marked by a small colored dot on the ceiling immediately above. Needless to say, when we had to use the "floor suckers" (big suction cups) to lift a panel and snake new cables, we were very careful.

I was not there when it was tested, but the machine room supervisor told me the whole building shook. I think they used compressed air for the tests, as real Halon was expensive.

Microsoft nopes out after Twitter starts charging $$$ for API access

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Re: Let me see now...

It depends on the terms of any existing contract between A and B. But it is hard to imagine Microsoft agreeing "We will buy ads from you for 5 years regardless of what you charge." They aren't stupid.

Fancy trying the granddaddy of Windows NT for free? Now's your chance

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I wonder if all the VMS utilities are still written in Bliss? I worked on porting the Bliss compiler from TOPS20 to the VAX hardware so our little compiler group was very much involved with VMS 1.0. Even the Index File part of RMS was written in Bliss, as well as most of the compilers. I have not run into a language since with such a powerful MACRO processor.

The Stonehenge of PC design, Xerox Alto, appeared 50 years ago this month

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Re: Smalltalk

I visited PARC back in the day and saw a demonstration. It was the Smalltalk language that most impressed me, not the GUI. The idea of SENDING A MESSAGE instead of CALLING A FUNCTION makes networking a natural extension. Erlang went on to take the message metaphor as central and it is much easier to write distributed programs that way. Most of the other O-O languages consider it as just a function call.

Gartner: Oracle probes orgs for Java compliance after new licensing terms

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Re: We all pay 'rentier taxation'

Only an economist would use a word like "rentier" (A person who lives on income from property or investments.)

Oracle NetSuite datacenter plunges offline for a day, customers warned of data loss

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Re: 99.97% availablility in 12 months

But you need to be running real-time replication across regions. If your business depends on constant uptime you are foolish if you do not implement this. A "backup every 30 minutes" is not good enough.

Musk's view count antics are perfect cover for Twitter's paid API failure

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"Create an optimal experience" means "fix all the bugs we just introduced".

Could RISC-V become a force in high performance computing?

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Re: Only if China pushes hard

Isn't a lot of the high tech fab stuff from Taiwan and Netherlands?

Intel, AMD just created a headache for datacenters

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Re: Local heating

That doesn't work in summer though.

But if the work can be parceled out to houses, it could have also been parceled out to many more medium data centers instead of just a few monster ones with impossible power and cooling requirements.

Here's something communism is good at: Making smartphones less annoying

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Re: What's in a name?

That expression comes from the last line of the text to the national anthem, "The land of the free and the home of the brave." The words were written by an amateur poet who was observing the bombardment of a US Fort by British warships in 1814. It was not true then either: 16% of the US population were slaves.

Fresh version of Xfce, the oldest Linux desktop of them all, revealed in Xubuntu builds

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A return to simpler times

I used XFCE many years ago. Then I wandered off to Ubuntu, did not like their (constantly changing) UI and found MATE, which was more like the old days. But then Gnome 2 went away and even MATE started suffering from bloat. So a year ago I ditched Ubuntu and went back to vanilla Debian with XFCE. It is like a breath of fresh air, and boots a lot faster. Everything is where I expect it to be.

Aviation regulators push for more automation so flights can be run by a single pilot

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Re: Automation

AF 447 is interesting. Even with the frozen pitot tubes, if the pilot flying (a very under-trained first office) had simply sat on his hands and done nothing, nobody would have died. The Airbus has multiple levels of degraded ability and would have continued on in level flight. Instead he panicked and did exactly the wrong thing because nobody had ever taught him how to fly an airplane instead of how to fly a computer. And that is the fault of Air France management. Maybe the managers are the ones who should be replaced.

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Re: two or zero are the only options

And even the most advanced automated landing system, the "Cat III" system installed at major airports, that can bring a plane right onto the runway in zero visibility, will not work at all if the crosswind exceeds a certain limit.

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You cannot fly an airplane in bad weather, with two engines out, remotely, with zero notice. Miracle on the Hudson had *seconds* to react to the bird strike. And I can't see anyone doing a "Gimli Glider" slipped approach in a big airliner remotely. The computer probably would not even allow such a thing, and the cockpit camera probably can't swivel to the side to deal with the fact that the plane is intentionally flying *sideways*.. In the Sioux City DC-10 crash in 1989 it took *three* pilots to land the aircraft when an engine explosion took out *all* of the hydraulic systems.

Everyone who proposes this hair-brained scheme should be force to watch every episode of "Air Crash Investigation".

Twitter is suffering from mad bro disease. Open thinking can build it back better

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There have been studies of election results going back 100 years that verify that this exact thing happens. Elections in a two-party system tend to force the parties apart regardless of what the populace would prefer on issues.

Go ahead, be rude. You don't know it now, but it will cost you $350,000

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I used to work for a Very Large software company. They were so big that they were "self insured" for the employee medical coverage. But they did hire an insurance company to actually run the process, field claims, and so on. This company (named after a mountain) was quite clever in finding ways *not* to make payments. One I ran into personally was denying claims for a lab test performed by a hospital's in-house blood lab because the pathologist who read the results was not personally "in network". I complained that the HOSPITAL was "in network" and I had no control over who they contracted with. They grudgingly paid. Then the next year, same thing. So I complained about this to my company's HR department. It turns out that a LOT of employees had been complaining about this insurance company and how it was like puling teeth to squeeze money out of them.

So the company HR department cancelled the contract and switched to a different insurance company for processing claims. Everything went smoothly thereafter.

Tesla recalls 40k cars over patch that broke power steering

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Re: Maybe the roads will last longer

The predominant vehicle style around here (Northeast Florida) is pickup trucks. My Chevy Bolt weighs about 3,600 which is similar to a Tesla M3 Standard according to that list. The Tesla is physically quite a bit larger though.

There is a 75 MW Solar generating station 10 miles from me but I have no idea what proportion of the Watts going into my car are from that facility.

Hot, sweaty builders hosed a server – literally – leaving support with an all-night RAID repair job

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Re: Botched Aircon

In the very early days of DEC VAX development, the prototype hardware was in a room with its own aircon. The building itself had been built in the 1860s (yes, 19th Century - they made blankets for the Union Army in the Civil War) and was NOT air conditioned. It was sweltering in the cubicles and we would look forward to some excuse to go to one of the machine rooms ("gotta hang this tape..."). There was no raised floor, so the entire room was kept cold. The machines (each the size of two or three refrigerators) were carefully positioned just so over the massive *wooden* floor beams because the building engineer had said that was the only place that could support the weight. The floors in general were rated "25 pounds per square foot" according to the signs. SO don't stand with your feet together...

University of Edinburgh staff paid late due to Oracle ERP troubles

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When you know how much your time is worth

Back when I was working for DEC, in the database division (before it was sold to Oracle), we had a presentation from a representative of one of the world's largest airline and hotel booking service companies. They said they new exactly how much money one minute of downtime cost them. Their ANNUAL budget for downtime due to system upgrades, etc, was FIFTEEN MINUTES. Everything was tested at scale, multiple times, before the production system got touched, and then one shard at a time.

Qualcomm: Arm threatens to end CPU licensing, charge device makers instead

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Re: re: how long before Apple commissions a RISC-V chip?

They would be fools not to have a back room project somewhere doing exactly that. And whether you like Apple products or not, they are not fools.

Oracle's Larry Ellison shares fears of bankrupting Western civilization with healthcare

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Re: Experience

Excellent idea. A "Smart Card" that fits in your wallet easily has enough storage for that these days. It is not like you need to have a copy of an MRI from 10 years ago on you at all times, but certainly a few years of doctor visits, test results, prescriptions, etc. The doctor pops it into his reader device, you enter your PIN, and he can see your records.

Ubuntu continues expanding RISC-V support – now, the $17 Sipeed LicheeRV

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I'll wait for somebody other than AllWInner to make these. I *have* programmed RISC-V barebones and it was a lot of fun. It is reminiscent of the old IBM 360 series.

Only 512 MB minus putting Ubuntu in there, means just a headless configuration. But there are plenty of applications in that space.

The GNOME Project is closing all its mailing lists

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Re: For a moment...

Not to mention freeing up hardware resources on the millions of desktops where Gnome is run. XFCE ftw!