* Posts by Man inna barrel

169 posts • joined 10 Jun 2019

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So I’ve scripted a life-saving routine. Pah. What really matters is the icon I give it

Man inna barrel Bronze badge

Re: Thunderbird............

> Thunderbird 2 is pretty cool. A great big green jet propelled delivery van.

But how did the blob actually fly? If I recall, it had some kind of wings, but they were only of token value, like chicken wings. I suppose it could have used body lift, without wings, like the space shuttle. But the idea of body lift in the space shuttle was not so much flying, as returning to solid ground without fatal impact.

Man inna barrel Bronze badge

Re: Address oddities

Where I work, I used to try and help delivery drivers who seemed to be lost. A guy would turn up, and ask "where is XYZ Ltd?" "Never heard of them" I would say, in all honesty. So I asked to look at the paperwork. There is a delivery address, and they have not just got the wrong road, they are are not even in the right town.

What the driver apparently did was look up the company name on the internet, and got the official registered address, which is a firm of accountants next to my offices. So I point out that error. And the delivery guy still insists that I must be wrong, because "the internet said so", or whatever. After this happened a few times, I did a Companies House search, and over 150 companies are registered down our little road, which is actually home to only half a dozen actual trading premises.

Another example of trusting computers more than people was a taxi driver, who would not listen to my directions, but insisted on dropping me where the GPS said, which was quite a walk away from the office entrance. We came up to the car park entrance, and I said "turn left here". The guy carried on to the next road, and round the big industrial estate, then stopped. So I said that the entrance is actually on the road we came down, so can we go round again. So we did, and I said "turn left here. NOW PLEASE". And the guy ignored me carried on and drove round to the back again. We did eventually get to the car park. In all fairness, I don't think I was charged extra for the scenic route.

US Air Force chief software officer quits after launching Hellfire missile of a LinkedIn post at his former bosses

Man inna barrel Bronze badge

The myth of the generalist manager

There is an idea that there is a kind of experience or training, than makes someone qualified to lead any kind of activity, without having the faintest idea about how that activity is performed. As one might imagine, this can lead to some practical difficulties, such as the manager ordering you to do something that defies the laws of physics. A great deal depends on the basis of the manager's authority. A good manager has authority because he knows what he is talking about. A bad manager threatens all sort of sanctions for disobedience.

Man inna barrel Bronze badge

Re: This goes beyond IT

> By the end of the two years they'd get almost everything back to what worked at which point someone else would come in and screw everything up all over again.

Isn't that how most management works? Useful work gets done despite management, not because of it. Management's job is to go to all the meetings, talk the blah, take the glory, and shirk the responsibilities, while production actually do stuff that makes money.

If only the managers would stop interfering, productivity would increase dramatically. I admit this does depend on having a workforce that has not been demoralised to the point of militancy.

Crypto-coin startup said its bot could generate huge profits from your Bitcoin. It was a scam, says SEC

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Re: Let's see if I get this right

> Err, what happened to the remaining $15,976,000,000??

It disappeared. It was never there in the first place. Money is all just promises anyway. It isn't real. However, I do have some faith that the money my employer pays me can be used to pay my bills, so I guess the stuff works in practice, when people want it to.

Oh! A surprise tour of the data centre! You shouldn't have. No, you really shouldn't have

Man inna barrel Bronze badge

Re: year 2000

> ... single short beep with several-minute intervals to indicate a low battery, and due to the pitch and volume of that beep it's hard to pinpoint.

A pure sine wave, or "beep", is very difficult to localise. The sound bounces around the room, and as you move about, the apparent location changes. I have done exactly the same dance around a room to find the annoying beeper in a drawer somewhere.

Most natural sounds contain a range of frequencies, not just one sine wave. This appears to make it easier to locate the sound, perhaps by combining the localisation of several frequencies. I think this might be the reason that reversing warning sounds on newer trucks use a noise-like ksh-ksh sound, instead of the old beep-beep. At least it isn't "Warning! This vehicle is reversing!", which gets pretty annoying after the second time you hear it. It is all very well to keep people safe from being run over, but one has to consider the side effects on innocent bystanders.

Can we talk about Kevin McCarthy promising revenge if Big Tech aids probe into January insurrection?

Man inna barrel Bronze badge

Re: Don't you just love it ?

> The only way to GET RID of evil politicians is to REPLACE them with DIFFERENT (hopefully not evil) politicians.

That's the theory. In practice, voters don't get much of a choice. it's generally more of the same: a candidate you don't like much, versus one you totally loath.

A speech recognition app goes into a bar. Speak up if you’ve heard it already

Man inna barrel Bronze badge

Re: Aroogah, Aroogah, Aroogah!

The fire alarm in offices where I worked was so loud, I am sure it was a danger to health:

WEEWEEWEE (Where's the exit?) WEEWEEWEE (What?) WEEWEEWEE (Pardon?) WEEWEEWEE (Over here) WEEWEEWEE (What?) WEEWEEWEE (Bugger it) WEEWEEWEE WEEWEEWEE (We're all going to die in here) WEEWEEWEE (What?)

Banned: The 1,170 words you can't use with GitHub Copilot

Man inna barrel Bronze badge

Re: Illogical

> It finds "socialist" and "liberal" offensive but does not consider "conservative" to be.

Shades of Orwell's 1984 there. There can't be any more socialists or liberals, if the words no longer exist to allow you to talk about such things.

Man inna barrel Bronze badge

The professionally offended

Jesus! (do not take the Lord's name in vain), who thought of this crap (offends prudes)? So "liberal" (offends Republicans) is a swear word now? Can't a man (offends feminists) say anything without offending some twerp (offends half-wits (offends idiots) ... STACK OVERFLOW))).

Microsoft does and doesn't want you to know it won't stop you manually installing Windows 11 on older PCs

Man inna barrel Bronze badge

> Thereby appealing to the maximum percentage of the population.

You don't have to do that if you already have a virtual monopoly. They buy what you tell them to.

Bonkers rocket launch sees craft slip sideways, barely climb and tear up terrain

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Hexanitrohexaazaisowurtzitane

I thought this stuff was a high explosive, but it is a propellant, used in rockets. I just couldn't resist the name.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hexanitrohexaazaisowurtzitane

I think the trick is to make the stuff go whoosh instead of bang. You know you had a good launch when the rocket was not quite blown to bits.

Et tu, Samsung? Electronics giant accused of quietly switching SSD components

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Re: So, WD, Crucial and Adata, and now Samsung

> For many processors you can get all documentation ...

I tried to get a full datasheet for an Atom processor off Intel. I had to register, which was a load of faff. My request for the data was turned down, which could have been for any number of reasons. They weren't specific.

I don't usually get that kind of runaround. I just download the PDF off the website. Mostly, I don't even have to register on the site.

Chinese developers protested insanely long work hours. Now the nation's courts agree

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Re: That kind of thing is common

I strongly suspect that German workers having reasonable time off enables them to be more productive.

What happens when you are almost permanently tired is that you spend a good deal of your time fixing the mistakes you made previously.

Leaked Guntrader firearms data file shared. Worst case scenario? Criminals plot UK gun owners' home addresses in Google Earth

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> ... people who really look like criminals ...

And what does a criminal look like, exactly? Life would be so much easier for the police, if they knew what criminals look like. You would not need all that tiresome evidence and stuff.

Man inna barrel Bronze badge

Re: "British Association for Shooting and Conservation"

> That involves considerable management of the wood, and preventing pests that may enter it from killing the birds and their young offspring off before they can fly.

You can't have foxes and other pests eating the baby pheasants before they are grown up, or what will the shooters have to shoot at?

Fix five days of server failure with this one weird trick

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Re: The "inspector"

That sounds like Weird Liz, at work. A woman of phenomenal practical abilities, but rather odd taste in clothes and hairstyle. Liz is from Austria, and her accent is uncannily close to that of of Arnold Schwarzenegger. But she does not look anything like him, being of quite slim build. She went to work in Norway, but it did not work out. Maybe the Norwegians thought she was trying to invade, or something.

Man inna barrel Bronze badge

Re: The "inspector"

In my experience, lead free solder doesn't really melt, it goes a bit squidgy. I don't have to worry about that kind of thing any more, being a senior design engineer. Soldering is a technician's job. I was never that good at soldering anyway, even when the stuff melted properly. It is I think permissible to use the old 60/40 tin-lead solder in prototype workshops. I think we have still got some at work. But I read that you should not mix the old type of solder with the new, because of the formation of intermetallic gubbins, that can cause brittle joints. Being a senior design engineer, I research these things. One of the tricks to living a long life as a chemist is to delegate the practical work to technicians, who preferably work somewhere far away from you, such as another country.

Man inna barrel Bronze badge

Re: The "inspector"

One of my early attempts at fixing electronics was on a valve amplifier, which a guitarist at school used to make music that was almost nothing like Eric Clapton. I thought I had done all the right things, like unplug the amp from the mains, and not just switch it off, before removing the lid. There was a fuse mounted on the chassis, so I thought I would pull it and have a look. AARGH! It still had hundreds of volts of DC on it, from the HT capacitors.

Good news: Japanese boffins 3D print what looks like marbled Wagyu beef. Bad news: It's tiny and inedible

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What is the point of this?

Inedible food must be something of an embarrassment, like a restaurant advertising carbonised gerbil in a creosote jus, with a side of rat droppings. Gordon Ramsay should be told.

Google's newest cloud region taken out by 'transient voltage' that rebooted network kit

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Bloody rabbits ate the RF cables

My father worked as a radio astronomer, and his regular place of work was an observatory built on an old airfield in rural Worcestershire. It had a couple of steerable dishes, on railway tracks. You have to get the RF signals back to the lab, so the data can be analysed, and this meant long cables. In the early days, cables used to insulated with rubber, and this is apparently quite attractive to rabbits. I can't think why, but then I am not a rabbit, even though I admit to being vegetarian.

Dad's radio observations often had to take place at unsocial hours. One of the things I learned about astronomy is that it does not work according to office hours, synchronised to GMT. Anyway, the data would come streaming in, duly recorded, and then the signal would falter, and drop altogether, so ruining hours of work. Bloody rabbits.

I suppose it would be possible to coat the cable in poison, to deter the rabbits. From my knowledge of lethal chemistry, I would recommend cyanide, because it is very quick acting. You have kill the nibblers before they cut through the insulation. Slow acting poisons like arsenic or warfarin are no good, because what is the point of killing the rabbits days or weeks after the damage is done? I think chilli powder might have worked.

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Re: Sutpid

You can't eliminate failures like this, only reduce the probability to an acceptable level. I remember a vendor of surge suppression devices demonstrating how much energy could be delivered by a direct lightning strike to comms or power cables. A large ocean liner, three feet out of the water. I never bought the biggest suppressors, that could handle that much energy, but none of my kit suffered a direct lightning strike, so I guess I my statistics were about right.

I did some work on a power supply, which had to work off what might be called "dodgy" mains, from a diesel generator on site. So I added something to voltage ratings, to allow for surges. But how much is enough safety margin? You have to draw the line somewhere. Put it this way, the old power supplies popped often enough to cost money on site callouts, and the new ones generally keep going, so I guess that is a job well done.

Happy birthday, Linux: From a bedroom project to billions of devices in 30 years

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Re: I've got a suggestion...

A file name is just a sequence of bytes, that happen to represent characters in a Latin alphabet, based on the ASCII encoding standard. It is convenient to think of file names in terms of words in a human language, but the OS does not interpret the words according to any human language. Having distinct upper and lower case characters in a Latin alphabet is convenient for human readers, when writing byte sequences to be interpreted by a computer. For example, camel case is quite a nice way to concatenate words into one string, without using spaces between the words.

That brings me onto the real bugbear, which is spaces in file names. This does actually break computer interpretation of byte sequences, because spaces are used to separate tokens. Yes, the OS will accept spaces in file names, because a space is just another byte, but you have to muck about with quoting to use tools like cp, when you have spaces in file names. Consider the command 'cp Uncle Jack relatives'. What the OS sees is that you want to copy two files, called 'Uncle' and 'Jack', to a destination called 'relatives'. What you probably wanted to say is 'cp UncleJack relatives'. You need a way to tell the OS that a byte sequence is one token, so conventions like camel case, and underscores instead of spaces, are needed.

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

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What about people just using the language, and not talking about it?

Whatever metrics are used, based on published data, you have the problem that most programming is done privately, and does not leave traces you can put in your stats. What about the millions of people coding in C, who just get on with the job? How do you measure that? Maybe languages such as Python and JavaScript are talked about a lot, because they have more defects than other languages.

I still have trouble with Python's syntactic indentation rules. When everything is neat and tidy, the code is very readable, but if you copy and paste code, you have to be careful to correct the indentation, or you can end up with code that compiles and runs, but does something entirely different to what you intended. With curly brackets to delimit blocks, the compiler will pick up obvious nonsense. Despite these criticisms, I find Python to be rather useful in practice, for writing small stuff for my own use. Put it this way, it is a lot better than shell scripts, if there is any real computation involved.

This brings me to my problem with Javascript, which is its loose type system. I admit I have limited experience here, but I struggled with the language accepting my rubbish code silently, and doing God knows what, instead of pedantically pointing out errors, which would actually have been helpful. One bug was due to a typo, where I wrote code that added an integer to an Object. I still don't know what actually happened, if anything. Maybe someone's cat was incinerated in Estonia.

There is an idea that dynamically typed languages like Python and Javascript are somehow easier to use than statically typed languages like C++ or Java, because you don't have to write loads of stuff to declare the types of variables and functions. But actually, what you are doing with type declarations is telling the compiler what you want to do, instead of leaving it to make a guess. These days, static type systems are not such a pain, as there is type inference, so you only have to declare some stuff, because the compiler can work out the rest, in a rigorous manner. This seems to work in Rust.

Microsoft emits last preview of .NET 6 and C# 10, but is C# becoming as complex as C++?

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Re: native targets

> RAII does not obviate the need to use smart pointers to avoid memory leaks.

I am investigating Rust at present, and that seems to do a fine job with non-GC memory management, based on RAII. I have not needed smart pointers yet. Compile time enforcement of object lifetimes and validating references to shared data can lead to some pretty arcane compile time errors, but every time I get one of those, I find I am trying to do something that would probably be unsafe in C++.

For example, I tried to define a struct containing a reference to an item in a vector. That is definitely unsafe if the vector is mutable, because actual memory locations can vary when the vector is modified, due to re-allocating the underlying data array. I am going to replace the pointer with an index, which is maybe not as neat, but does not suffer from potential memory errors.

Man inna barrel Bronze badge

Re: "the ability to use operators on generic types."

> The alternative, in a lot of use cases, to using generics, is to have multiple versions of the same code, for example, once for each type that needs it. Repeated code is definitely a code smell.

Having written C++ code for some time, what I miss most when writing C is templates, and generic containers in particular. I ended up writing a cut down version of vector<T>, for the particular type I was using. I gave up trying to implement map<K, T>.

In some cases, generic code in C can be implemented by representing arbitrary data with void*, which needs casting to the actual type. However, that does not really help implement something like vector<T>. What you actually get is vector<T*>, which is not the same thing at all. One advantage of vector<T> is that the contained data is in one contiguous slab in memory, which makes sequential access very efficient. Also, it simplifies memory management, compared to allocating each item separately.

Taiwan president pokes the bear by saying the nation needs to lessen its supply chain dependency on China

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Re: I blame Nixon.

Actually, uniting warring states into a single nation would appear to be the norm throughout history. The UK did this a while ago. The clue is in the word "United". Before that, England itself was not always that united, hence the Wars of the Roses, the Civil War, etc.

Hey, AI software developers, you are taking Unicode into account, right ... right?

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Foreigners up to no good

That proves it. Unicode is a devious plot for Cyrillic and Chinese to take over our computers, whereas all decent folks use 7-bit ASCII, as God intended.

Scientists reckon eliminating COVID-19 will be easier than polio, harder than smallpox – just buckle in for a wait

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Re: Nope, don't believe it.

>In the USA armadillos carry leprosy but there isn't an ongoing problem with lepers

As far as I know, leprosy is not very infectious, though it is very nasty when you catch it. Also, are armadillos common in the USA?

Woman sues McDonald's for $14 after cheeseburger ad did exactly what it's designed to

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Re: Traceability

>I never heard of a farm that grew wet cardboard

Food and agriculture scientists have been working on this for years. First, let's tackle the beef. Cows normally roam around fields eating grass. This is not very efficient. They don't put on weight fast enough. So you stuff the cows with high nutrition foods, such as corn and soya. And forget the roaming around fields bit. Stuff 'em in sheds to eat their high protein food, and fatten 'em fast as possible to go to slaughter.

The beef produced in this way tends to be a bit lacking in flavour and texture, so what you do next is convince people that this is how meat is supposed to taste. The advertisers come into effect here. And before you know it, only gastronomic extremists will want to eat beef from a cow that roamed around the fields, on account of its meat is not so tender as the regular beef that we are used to.

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>Lent is all about the head of the church exercising control over his flock.

Most of Christianity is about the power of the churches, and not about what Jesus said, as recorded by his disciples. There was no Christian church during the life of Jesus. He was not the Pope. The church stuff took off when the bloody Romans decided to be Christian. Something of a dangerous combination: a revolutionary ideal, and an empire supported by widespread bureaucracy and military force.

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Re: I see

>There's nothing about the idea of Lent that would seem odd or strange to a historic Jewish person.

Fasting and renouncing worldly things is pretty universal across all religions. From a secular/humanist point of view, it has beneficial effects on physical and mental health. Fasting proves that you won't die if you do without food for a little while, though your greedy tummy tells you otherwise. That is actually spiritually liberating, because you are less bound to your animal appetites, and can concentrate on more important things, whatever those may be. And of course, you won't be tempted by junk food if there is something better to be had.

So, mega fail for our burger-loving orthodox Christian. If you were going to break your fast, couldn't you go for better quality food?

Man inna barrel Bronze badge

Re: Devoutly religious person is suggestible

>One would expect a *devout* believer of *any* religion to have at least cracked their primary religious text and read a few pages.

Cripes! We can't have that sort of thing! Only your priest/vicar/pastor/imam knows what the holy words mean. They have the education, and proper holiness training. Goodness knows what chaos would ensue if people started thinking and making up their own minds about stuff.

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Re: For those who believe in such things...

>The fact he came back at all only presses home the fact that he never really had the conviction to die for his purported beliefs and should be roundly ignored.

So you only believe people are sincere if they die for their cause? If you ask me, martyrdom is vastly over-rated as a criterion for veracity. Take witch burning for example. First, the ducking stool. If she drowns, she was telling the truth, and is not a witch. If she floats, she is a witch, and so burn her. Things were so much simpler in those days.

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Re: For those who believe in such things...

>As I understand it, the period of Lent is supposed to represent the 40 days when Jesus is said to have gone into the desert to fast and resist temptation.

I suppose it is cheating to have a feeding tube up your nose, like I had in hospital. If you are going to fast, then don't starve yourself to death.

Electrocution? All part of the service, sir!

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Re: Flash!

> If you drop a spanner across the power busbars for one of those it will vaporise with a bright flash and a loud bang, leaving each end welded to conductors.

Someone did that in the battery room of a telephone exchange. It may only be 48V, but the prospective current is in millions of amps. In this particular installation, the busbar supports had not been specified correctly. The magnetic field produced by the fault current pulled the busbars together until they shorted. Now were looking at some current. Imagine bank after bank of 2V lead acid cells, each the size of a filing cabinet, all boiling and gassing.

Man inna barrel Bronze badge

Re: I had a similar "shock" once

>...required two breakers to be turned off before it was dead.

An electrician friend worked at a large print works, that dated back to Victorian times. The wiring was a bit eccentric in places. He had to disconnect a steel armoured cable, inside a pokey little wiring room, that only had room for one person at a time. All the breakers were off. Good to go. But there was a neutral fault, that meant load current from somewhere unknown was flowing in the steel outer, which should be earth. As soon as our mate separated the connector, he had full voltage across his hands.

At this point, he was paralysed, and could not even cry out. He managed a sort of croaking noise to alert his colleague. Initially, this colleague thought that the strange noises were just his mate larking about, but then he took a peek round the door. He found a broom to knock away the cables. Luckily, our partly cooked electrician had been on a safety course, about how to breath when being electrocuted. (Was there a practical test?) He did end up with severe burns.

Anyway, at least our hardy electrician was not "proved dead".

Paperless office? 2.8 trillion pages printed in 2020, down by 14% or 450 billion sheets

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Re: Won't someone think of the children

>Paper manufacturing is intensely pollutive and energy consuming

>Along with pretty much every other industrial process…

The problem is the ability to use computers to produce thousands of pages of guff. That does not just waste paper, it wastes people's time wading through useless blah, even if it is online.

When I was at uni, I did not have a computer, and wrote all my reports by hand. This took a certain amount of planning, if you did not want to mess up the presentation with alterations, or rewrite the whole thing. There was no cut-and-paste, except literally with a knife and some glue. I understand Beethoven's manuscripts were a right mess because of his alterations.

Google: Linux kernel and its toolchains are underinvested by at least 100 engineers

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Re: Fool

> ... it means that money is, in fact, the most important thing.

Just because corporations have to consider making money as their primary aim does not mean individual people have to be motivated only by money. Fair enough, a large corporation has far more power than most individuals, but individuals can act collectively, and thus have significant influence. I presume such collective action is why environmental concerns are politically influential. For example, it is not that cleaning up rivers profits environmentalists in financial terms. It is just the most people would prefer their rivers not be used as waste dumps.

Microsoft to require proof of vaccination from on-site staff, pushes back full reopening

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Why are religious beliefs treated specially?

What exactly is the difference between religious bollocks and secular bollocks? There has been plenty of debate in this thread on rational grounds, and someone putting forward views that are factually incorrect and possibly dangerous to others is quite rightly criticised. If I understand the Microsoft position correctly, someone can say any old bollocks they like to justify why they won't get vaccinated, as long as the reason is their religious belief.

As a non-religious person, I find this treatment of religious belief quite unfair. Why can't I criticise religious beliefs like I criticise any other beliefs? I have quite a few beliefs that are not based on facts in the scientific sense. Beliefs about politics, justice, and the arts generally fall into this category. However, these are matters that can be discussed rationally, rather than just taken as unassailable foundations of faith. But for some reason, we allow religious beliefs to pass without rational scrutiny. I grant that people with strong religious beliefs are unlikely to have their faith shaken by rational argument, but that does not mean they can get away with talking rubbish.

There is a difficulty with the matter of not discriminating against someone because of their faith. My opinion is that it is wrong to treat someone better or worse, based on what faith they profess. However, if someone is denied access to something because they refuse vaccination on religious grounds, this is not religious discrimination as such. They should not be able to get away with claiming religious belief as an excuse, on the same level as medical exemptions.

UK chancellor: Getting back to the altar of corporate dreams (the office) will boost young folks' careers

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> I mean why else would you join the Conservative Party?

Because the other lot are raving commie bastards, fomenting revolution and the destruction of civilisation as we know it.

Some people support the Conservatives because they believe they are doing some good for the country, by defending it against malign influences. They may be wrong, but they are not lacking in humanity just because you disagree with them.

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Re: Son of a billionnaire talks up watercooler networking

Winchester is one of those schools that you attend in order to get your elite club membership credentials. The actual education has little to do with it. Studying Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Oxford appears to be part of the same process. Though the title of the course indicates subjects worthy of study for a future politician, the study is not why people do it.

Unfortunately, this system does tend to produce politicians that are out of touch with how most ordinary people live. It is pretty much designed to do that. Rishi Sunak actually appears to be pretty competent in most respects, which sets him apart from the rest of the Boris team, where self-serving bumbling is the norm.

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Workers have a duty to server office property owners?

Well boo-hoo if commercial property owners are having a hard time because some companies have found they don't need to expand their office space, because they can have more staff working from home.

My work place was busting at the seams before the pandemic, with internal mezzanine stuff being built to house new offices and work areas. Now most design and admin staff can work from home, the pressure is off to relocate. Current work policy is pretty strict about who can visit the factory/office. Only production staff work there every day. Everybody else has to have a good reason to visit, approved by their line manager. I suspect that at least part time home working might continue well beyond pandemic requirements, just because it is more efficient.

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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Re: What do we do with all this processing power?

I run SPICE simulations of electronic circuits with no problems. If I see suspect results, I do the usual thing of doubling the number of points and running the simulation again. So what if a 100k point simulation takes a few seconds to run? The same happens with antenna analysis, using NEC2. Bear in mind that these applications date from the days of FORTRAN, with data entered on punched cards. My home computing environment is luxury compared to when these applications were originally developed, and a single run would have to be overnight on a mainframe.

I dare say I could be a bit more smart about how I use my number-crunching applications, and save on CPU cycles. The point is, I don't have to be that smart to get the job done. In fact, trying to save CPU cycles smacks of premature optimisation, i.e. a real waste of time and money.

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What do we do with all this processing power?

For most home and office computing, adequate performance was achieved years ago. Games might be an exception, where serious processing power is needed to improve graphic rendering quality. I use a bit of 3D modelling for engineering work, but I doubt my machine is under any strain rendering it.

I think what has been happening for some time is that small increases in functionality, as seen by the user, are purchased at the expense of great increase in resource usage, e.g. RAM and CPU cycles. I think basic economics will dictate that trend, because the customer does not incur the costs of increased computing usage. If all machines are more than adequate in raw computing power, software suppliers will use the surplus in whatever way suits their business, which often leads to inefficiency.

Of course, this does mean that older machines fail to keep up with these trends, and their performance will be judged inadequate, because they don't run the latest (less efficient) applications. This suits hardware suppliers, because it motivates new hardware purchases, because there is a form of built-in obsolescence.

Microsoft's Cloud PCs debut – priced between $20 and $158 a month

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Home directory on NFS == hell on earth

At work, I had a machine where my home directory was on NFS. I was not a user on my own machine, just on the network. Imagine what happened when the electrician unplugged the network by mistake. No work was done, that's for sure. I could not even work offline, because I did not exist on my own machine. Another problem was permissions to access certain hardware, e.g. USB audio. Forget adding myself to the whatever group, because I dd not exist as a user. I had to fiddle with udev rules. It should be obvious from this that I could run my machine locally as root, but I have always thought that is very bad form, and lazy.

It worries me a bit that cloudy stuff is very popular at work. It seems to be OK, but I get the impression that production would grind to a halt if there were a major network outage, and HR could not pay wages. I don't mind if gaffers at work see this comment. I will put my views forward when I get the opportunity.

Right to repair shouldn't exist – not because it's wrong but because it's so obviously right

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Re: Built to repair?

"Dying selenium rectifiers gave off a very memorable smell"

My friend had a TV repair business many years ago. A typical callout went like this:

Old biddy: My cat likes to sleep on top of the telly. She is getting a bit old, and I think she did a wee where she shouldn't have. It smells terrible.

My mate: Not to worry madam. Little accidents can happen. I'll have it fixed ready for Coronation Street tomorrow.

You MUST present your official ID (but only the one that's really easy to fake)

Man inna barrel Bronze badge

>> Are there any left-wing governments in the world?

This would explain why I am now considered a raving Marxist loony. I didn't actually change my views. The world just zoomed off to the right.

Is it broken yet? Is it? Is it? Ooh that means I can buy a sparkly, new but otherwise hard-to-justify replacement!

Man inna barrel Bronze badge

The joys of instruction sheets

I recently purchased some cheap kit made in China from Amazon -- a little test meter. There was something missing, though -- the instructions. You should understand that instructions are not meant to be read before you use the product. You get on with playing with your new toy. The instructions are just like album liner notes that you peruse at your leisure. But all I got was one measly English word: MULTITESTER. The rest was in Chinese. I was thus deprived of the significant pleasure of seeing how far English can be mangled and still remain intelligible. So when Amazon asked me to rate the product, it lost at least a star for that reason alone.

Radioactive hybrid terror pigs have made themselves a home in Fukushima's exclusion zone

Man inna barrel Bronze badge

Re: Serious question

We are practicing to be Russian, in preparation for invasion from East. As everybody knows, the Russian language does not require definite or indefinite articles, which are inefficient and just useless noises, like 'um' and 'err'. Get with training program, folks.

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