* Posts by Scene it all

80 posts • joined 31 Dec 2018


Nobody cares about DAB radio – so let's force it onto smart speakers, suggests UK govt review

Scene it all

It used to be cars came with tape players, 8-track then cassette. Then they came with CD players. Now they come with a USB jack where you can plug in a thumb drive, and that's what I use - thousands of tracks of stuff that *I* like to listen to on there, and audio books. Also podcasts from my phone over BlueTooth.

The car also came with a Satellite Radio receiver with a free one-month subscription, but it is largely the same crap as you can find on broadcast radio so I ignore it.

Some FM stations in the US also have digital subchannels, and some cars have the hardware for that, but I have never found anything worth paying for, and as the closest FM station is 50 miles away it is hardly worth it; even analogue FM is noisy. And of course AM is a wasteland of sports talk and wacko religous stuff.

Hitting underground pipes and cables costs the UK £2.4bn a year. We need a data platform for that, says government

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I had a summer job at an electric utility 50 years ago and even back then they had the location of every piece of equipment and cable surveyed down to one-foot resolution over several counties. This turns out to be very useful in predicting power flows and heating and overloads. "Which transformer do we replace first?"

But these days, where I live all the services are underground and stll, if you have any sort of utility work done a guy will show up with his underground scannig device and look for everything again, putting in little flags and spraying red paint on the grass. The local power utility is replacing street lights and I saw sombody pushing a Ground Penetrating Radar down the street.

Canon makes 'all-in-one' printers that refuse to scan when out of ink, lawsuit claims

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The mistake is in thinking these companies are in the office equipment business; they aren't. They are in the ink busines, which is much more profitable.

Chip manufacturers are going back to the future for automotive silicon

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Re: I wonder is the move for safety ?

And of course they would not want to put things on removable boards (like computers back in the old days) because that might make the cars *Repairable* and we can't have that.

Forget everything you learned playing Lunar Lander: Chinese boffins reveal secrets of Chang'e 5 probe's touchdown

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I have worked with Quaternions before and can not figure why they have not been used before this. Back in the days of Apollo 13, when they were always worrying about "gimbal lock", it was because they were using real spinning gyros with real gimbals. It is not done that way any more.

How Windows NTFS finally made it into Linux

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Re: I can only warn

I used to work for a large software company that was very protective of its "trade secrets". Some groups were so paranoid that they did not even use the corporate central source management control system, and refused to answer specific questions about how their code worked. I had to use a de-compiler to figure out what they were doing so that my software could properly interface with it.

The code from other groups that I *did* see was very unprofessional. "Comments? We don't need no stinking comments! The code is its own documentation." I saw one place where basic list searching algorithms were written in such a way that the "time complexity" (the Big O number) was exponential where it did not have to be. No code reviews at all.

BOFH: You. Wouldn't. Put. A. Test. Machine. Into. Production. Without. Telling. Us.

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Re: The guy's here...

My important passwords (like the master password to the thing that remembers all the other passwords) are just simple expressions like "nice to meet you". I even write them down in English to remind myself what they are.

What I do NOT write down is:

1. Which obscure and possibly dead language to translate it into.

2. Which Leet-ish transformation to then apply.

SpaceX successfully sends four amateurs into orbit for three-day tour

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But with no followup coverage, or pictures, except for ONE TWEET, it might as well never have happened. A complete waste of time and resources.

Java 17 arrives with long-term support: What's new, and is it falling behind Kotlin?

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Re: Pattern matching is not a big deal???

One of my favorite things about Erlang is the pervasive use of pattern matching. It is even built into the function dispatch mechanism, much more powerfully than the 'signature matching' in C++.

Music festivals are back in the UK. So is the background bork

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Some years ago I was takng an airline flight and before we pulled away from the gate somebody decided to reboot the entertainment system. Apparently it was set up so that the default mechanism fed the computer console video to ALL the seatback screens. So we all got to watch a Linux bootup process scroll by. I don't think it revealed any secret stuff...

Why we abandoned open source: LiveCode CEO on retreat despite successful kickstarter

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Erlang does not have what most other languages call a 'variable', that is a memory location that can be written more than once. This avoids a certain class of errors that prop up in multi-threaded programming. You can get sort of the same effect but through other more explicit and safer means. PonyLang also has a concept of write-once memory but takes a different approach to get there.

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This reminds me of SimScript-II. The trouble with languages like that is they become really tedious to type, using four characters where one would do. (" of " in stead of ".") His beef seems to be with punctuation that is used for structural purposes, since he allows them in arithmetic operators.

Ok, what are some existng languages that do the same thing? COBOL?? Talk about tedious.

Or LISP - it only has four special characters: ( ) . and space.

Actually a nice middle ground is plain old Fortran.

It depends on which concepts you want to get across and which ones to de-emphasize. Which keys you type seems an odd thing to focus on. I have heard of Erlang being used in introductory programming classes which is an interesting take since it completely lacks the concept of 'variable'. Is that more useful than avoiding the use of colons?

What's the top programming language? It's not JavaScript but Python, says IEEE survey

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I once wrote a music library application, kind of like Logitech Media Server, that used Javascript to run the UI and Erlang for the back end. The Javascript part was by far the more annoying to work with.

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Re: IEEE sets the standards

Actually, industry groups create the standards and then submit them to the IEEE for their stamp of approval. Ethernet was created by Xerox and DEC.

Family wrongly accused of uploading pedo material to Facebook – after US-EU date confusion in IP address log

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Re: Simple solution

Except that spelled-out month names are not very Internationally comprehensible. The Japanese get this right - there the months do not have names at all, only numbers

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Re: International Standards Organization

YYYY-MM-DD is never ambiguous (nobody would use YYYY-DD-MM - that's perverse. Ok, so the French might. Remember SECAM?). And it sorts properly!

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Re: International Standards Organization

Spelling was hardly consistent even *within* England until relatively recently. With events like The Great Vowel Shift (1400-1700) messing with pronunciation, and spellng being closely related with pronunciation, and all the different accents within England, how things were spelled depeneded a lot on where you lived. Whether the locals used a word that came from French or from Norse for the same concept made a big difference.

The people who came to the US came from different parts of England, and at different times, and they brought their accents with them.

Zoom incompatible with GDPR, claims data protection watchdog for the German city of Hamburg

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Jitsi looks pretty identical to Skype on the screen. And its free. Anyone familiar with setting up a Linux web service can install it. If you use a flexible cloud-like infrastructure (even in-house) you can size the resources to the size of a meeting. And the custom backgound feature in the latest version is pretty cool.

New GNOME Human Interface Guidelines now official – and obviously some people hate it

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Re: Who makes this crap up?

Until there is SO MUCH stuff on the screen at once they have to use a tiny font to get it all in. The Ardour5 Preferences Dialog for example.

The Register just found 300-odd Itanium CPUs on eBay

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Re: Optimised in compiler

Even the various IBM 360 processors in the 1960s were really RISC hardware microprogrammed to emulate the "IBM 360" instruction set. Different technologies used to design the hardware in various models allowed for different cost/peformance across the product line.

Please, no Moore: 'Law' that defined how chips have been made for decades has run itself into a cul-de-sac

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It is easier to expand sideways

Maybe if everyone learned Erlang as their first programming language we would be looking at this differently. When you design in terms of having multiple, as in tens of thousands, of independent processes working on a problem, the need for any single piece of kit to be blindingly fast becomes irrelevant. Then the focus could instead shift to inter-core and inter-chip communications.

We need to think of problems holistically rather than algorithmically. It is all Donald Knuth's fault. :)

Chipmaker TSMC to build 'up to five' more factories in Arizona

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Intel is already taking lots of water for its plants in Arizona.

California is stopping Nestle Corporation from taking too much water there as well.

Court snubs Microsoft, US govt's request to throw out Amazon's complaint against JEDI cloud contract decision

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If the government pay scale is not high enough to afford the people who can do this, how do they think that a subcontractor can do if for LESS, hiring those exact same people, after adding in corp-rat overhead and profit?

There's no place like GNOME: System 76 introduces COSMIC desktop GUI for its Pop!_OS Linux

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It looks like WIndows 10, which is probably why they aim it at WIndows users. I have a System76 "Thelio" desktop and the unique hardware design is a joy to work with, No more SATA cables! But I'm old-school - I use MATE desktop on Ubuntu. It is GNOME underneath and still uses a plain old app menu pulldown like Babbage intended.

Airline software super-bug: Flight loads miscalculated because women using 'Miss' were treated as children

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I spent many decades doing corporate software development, and there is ONE place in the world where projects like this are programmed, if not in the home country. And it is not Germany. The problem is not "cultural differences" but incompetence in management styles at both ends of the arrangement.

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Re: Not necessarily.

And feet for altitude and Nautical Miles per Hour for speed.

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Re: Not necessarily.

30% of Americans are clinically obese. In Japan the figure is 3%.

Yep, you're totally unique: That one very special user and their very special problem

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Re: Where’s the effing handbrake!?

My US-made EV does not have a traditional big handle for the parking brake. Instead it is a little push/pull button on the center console, about like an electric window control. The actual mechanism is electric. Luckily the salesman pointed it out.

The headlights are automatic, but if I want to override them I need to twist a momentary-contact knob at lower left. I had not seen that before.

I was about to say that the brake button was next to the gearshift, but it does not have one of those either, lacking a transmission. It does have a handle that LOOKS like a gearshift sticking out of the center console, and it serves the same function (clever design choice), but it is really yet another control input to the computer. Some engineers might have wanted to be clever and use buttons, but here is an example of correct human factors at work - if people expect a handle they can grab with their right hand, then give them one.

Flagship Chinese chipmaker collapses before it makes a single chip or opens a factory

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Re: Are you shilling for the Communist Party of China?

China does not "hold US Debt". Rather it has a lot of US Dollars in interest-bearing accounts in the United States, called "Treasuries". The only thing it can do with that money is spend it in the United States. If it decides to withdraw that money from those accounts, then it would have a lot of USD sitting in NON-interest bearing accounts, and why would it do that? As economist Warren Mosler put it, "All we owe China is a bank statement."

The US Federal Government never borrows money. It doesn't need to.

I built a shed once. How hard can a data centre be?

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Re: The backplanes?

I think it must have been the backplanes I was thinking of that got damaged. It was over 40 years ago so some of the details are a bit hazy.

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I was in a few meetings with Dave Cutler, and also Dick Hustvedt. Hustvedt was a really smart guy who always wore a bow tie. I was working on compilers so did not interact with the kernel people a whole lot. Cutler did not write the whole thing himself - it was a team of people filling two floors of the building.

I left that group long before PRISM came along. But also in my group was Carol Peters, who later led the West coast group that came up with the first MIPS workstations that were what eventually pushed the PRISM people out the door.

More fun personally was a conversation with Richie Lary on a plane trip somewhere about compression algorithms. He was cool, and interested in everything.

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I was working for DEC when the VAX first came out. Most of the system software development took place in Building #3 of the old mill in Maynard, Massachusetts. This building was there during the American Civil War and they made blankets for the Union Army. Everything except the outer walls was made out of wood, including the massive beams and all the flooring. The floor sagged in between the beams from the weight of the old wool-processing equipment, now long since removed. There were Maximum Floor Loading signs posted in various places. I remember quite a few said "25 pounds per square foot". I guess we were not supposed to stand with our feet right together. If you watch the movie "Pajama Game" you can see a building that looked a lot like ours, except inside we did not have flat studio floors, but wavy wooden ones. An advantage of a wooden building is that it is easy to run new conduits and there were actually factory "carpenters" who did this sort of work. Need a new staircase? Sure no problem.

Anyway, the computer lab was on the 3rd floor and in the early days it was the only air-conditioned space in the building. The prototype and first-generation VAX 780 processors were very heavy so the building engineer did some calculations and directed that these computers had to be placed directly over the floor beams. This resulted in a comfortable amount of space between the racks, but no raised flooring so the entire room was kept quite cold. The very first 780 prototype had hand-built wire-wrapped connections. The next phase were manufacturing prototypes with soldered motherboards. These motherboards were huge - at least 2x2 feet each - and each machine held two of them. This is the hardware that VAX VMS 1.0 was developed on.

So there was a trade show and it was decided to show off one of these. One was carefully disconnected, wheeled over to the cargo elevator (the only kind of elevator in those buildings actually) and taken down to a truck for the trip to the trade show. Everything was fine so far. But on the trip back from the tradeshow (as I recall it - I was not actualy present when this happened) either when loading the machine into the truck or taking it oiut, the whole thing was dropped. Not real far, but enough that the connections between the parts of the motherboards were cracked. All of them. II think it was a write-off.

So we were down one development machine until the next one came out of manufacturing.

Why make games for Linux if they don't sell? Because the nerds are just grateful to get something that works

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Not exactly a "game", but X-Plane flight simulator works great on Linux.

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Back in 1979 when Bill MetMetcalfe at Xerox and Godon Bell at DEC wore trying to design how Ethernet worked, they realized that they could not make it somehting owned by those two companies - it would have to be an industry standard to avoid anti-trust issues. FInally, along with Intel, they published their design which later went to the IEEE. Metcalfe had the idea first, and Bell joined in. Then Intel was added. I used to work for Gordon Bell and he visited me in my office once. Really cool guy with long-term vision.

Well, on the bright side, the SolarWinds Sunburst attack will spur the cybersecurity field to evolve all over again

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How did they somehow bypass the source code control system? (Assuming there WAS a SCCS, and not just a bunch of files in a directory.) If they came through the front door one could start with a "git blame" command and start following the trail through logs. They might find something unusual that could result in updates to their security system such as time-of-day restrictions on who can access what, or by what access channel such activity is allowed.

FCC mulls booting China Telecom from US networks over its ties with Beijing

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Re: National security?

I would think that intelligence agents do not rely on the public telephone system to communicate with their HQ.

Uncle Sam sues Facebook for allegedly discriminating against US workers in favor of foreigners on H-1B visas

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Or they want to do flashy games development (thinking they get to play games all day and get paid for it), or AI, or something new. Not debugging race conditions in distributed two-phase commit.

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Many years ago, when I was working for a Very Large company, the senior development managers used to go out on those college recruitment visits to US colleges. I was talking to one of these managers after she returned from such a trip and she reported that it was very depressing. Nobody was interested in doing the down and dirty backroom server development stuff our company did.

HPE to move HQ from Silicon Valley to Texas, says Lone Star State is 'attractive' for recruitment, retaining staff

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Re: Texas doesn't surprise me

Yes, lets move our HQ to the biggest hurricane target in the US.

How the US attacked Huawei: Former CEO of DocuSign and Ariba turned diplomat Keith Krach tells his tale

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Re: Why 5G ?

When I was having my DSL service upgraded here in Florida, in a community with underground service, I asked the AT&T technician about fiber. His answer was basically that if I did not have it now, I would never get it. "They are not spending any money upgrading existing customers."

On TV we are hit with lots of ads from the major Telcos pushing their 5G rollouts, claiming that it is "faster". Well, on a cellphone, how would I notice? They never explain.

On the plus side, maybe moving to 5G means we can finally get rid of IPv4.

China offers world its COVID QR Code movement passport at G20 Leaders' Meeting

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Re: “We need to further harmonize policies and standards”

I used to work on international standards. "Harmonize" usually means "agree on the lowest common denominator." Just like "needs further study" means "no".

Airbus drone broke up in-flight because it couldn’t handle Australian weather

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Re: "the third upset resulted in the aircraft entering an uncontrolled spiral descent."

Yeah, every glider pilot knows that and is expected to demonstrate it during flight test. But do power pilots learn it? Anything as big and fragile as these drones needs to be flown more like a glider than a Cessna 150, even though most gliders are actually built quite strongly.

Nvidia to acquire Arm for $40bn, promises to keep its licensing business alive

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Re: Nvidia and Linux?

It seems to me that the Nvidia Jetson NX AI product uses ARM support processors around the GPU and they run Linux.

'A guy in a jetpack' seen flying at 3,000ft within few hundred yards of passenger jet landing at LA airport

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The non-existance of flying saucers and Bigfoot can now be confirmed by a similar analysis.

ByteDance says it will abide by China's new export laws

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Isn't "personalized information push service technology based on data analysis" exactly what Facebook and Google do?

Here's some words we never expected to write: Oracle said to offer $10bn cash, $10bn shares for TikTok US – plus profit share promise

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Re: year three Oracle licensing

Like those un-removable Facebook apps that are on some phones. "You installed the app, you owe us money."

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Yes, Oracle is where technology goes to die.

This PDP-11/70 was due to predict an election outcome – but no one could predict it falling over

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Was talking on the phone just today to a verterinary radiation oncologist, when her phone audio went all garbley. Then it stopped and she said "Sorry, I walked too close to the radiation safe." (which I guess is where they store all the nasty stuff) It was leaky enough to scramble her phone. COVID19 is not the only reason to stay out of doctor offices...

SQLite maximum database size increased to 281TB – but will anyone need one that big?

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I seem to recall that SQLite adopted the LMDB memory-mapped key-value store as its underlying storage technology, resulting in a considerable speed increase. I wonder how the memory-mapping is done with such a large size.

Psst, you want us to design you an Arm chip? 'Cause we can do that, says RISC-V processor darling SiFive

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Re: What 150 million?

I believe Western Digital is using RISC-V in some of its storage controllers. And Alibaba has something in the works, as mentioned in The Reg last July. China is very interested in RISC-V because it is open source and can be used regardless of US embargoes.

I have played with those Arduino-like boards and they are very easy to program even in assembly.



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