* Posts by rafff

53 publicly visible posts • joined 6 Apr 2020


Software rollout failure led to Devon & Cornwall cops recording zero crime for 3 months


Re: Unable to Upload data/stats?

Wot abaht Excel, indeed!

Or even pencil and paper: completely immune to power failures etc.

Electric two-wheelers are set to scoot past EVs in road race


Re: Where's the power coming from?

"in the middle of December when the wind ain't blowin'"

As any sailor will tell you, the wind is much better in winter than in summer. Now if you'd said "in the middle of August when the wind ain't blowin' " ....

'Top three Balkans drug kingpins' arrested after cops crack their Sky ECC chats


" a postcode lottery"

The proper terms are "grass roots democracy" or "local decision making". As opposed to "centralised control freakery", aka "standardisation" or "predictability".

Take your pick, depending on your political standpoint.

When you try to hire a freelancer to write SQL and all you get is incorrect AI garbage


"all this testing can just be turned over to an AI machine......"

That is what customers are for.

Not quite a joke.

Marketing biz sent 107 million spam emails... to just 437k people


Re: What a joke

" limited company ... limits the liability of the directors,"...

but only for civil debt, not for illegal acts. In certain parts or Europe (France IIRC) it is t'other way about.

How much to infect Android phones via Google Play store? How about $20k


"always check app permissions" ...

... and remove from even the pre-installed stuff anything you think is excessive, particularly phone, SMS, location, microphone and camera permissions.

Pager hack faxed things up properly, again, and again, and again


what fun it was writing configuration scripts in the Hayes ‘language

At one point I had the job of writing modem firmware. It ran on an embedded 6502 and I wrote it in C with the Hayes commands interpreted by Flex, all cross-compiled from my 486DX2.

The fun part was that when it came to testing against as many different existing modems as we could lay our hands on (interoperability yer know), I found that not one of those modems met the CCITT specs; every single one of them was buggy. No wonder dial-up comms were unreliable

SHEIN has the look of America's next tech-meets-geopolitics fit-up


"...never wear anything more than maybe twice. Especially women seem to be guilty of this."

That was the model for women's fashion over 60 years ago, when I was in the business*. This is merely the logical extension.

As an amusing aside, you can probably blame much of this on Gen. Grivas and Archbishop Makarios. When the Enosis troubles started in Cyprus, many Greek Cypriots came to Britain and they displaced the Jews who then dominated the cheap women's fashion manufacture. The Jews moved into men's wear and started Carnaby St as a men's fashion centre. The Cypriots were subsequently displaced by Pakistanis, and now much of the manufacture is in either Pakistan or China, rather than Britain.

* Yes, the beard is grey.

The second dust bowl cometh for America, supercomputer warns


what is it about post WW2 planned cities that make them so lifeless and forgettable?

They were designed as a Socialist (capital S) paradise with no thought for the people who would have to live in them

The quest to make Linux bulletproof


Snap is a single compressed file,

So IIUC dynamically linked libraries are, to all intents and purposes, a thing of the past: each snap has its own copy of every library it uses.

Most Londoners would quit before they give up working from home


Microsoft is trying to buy Activision Blizzard, ...

If MS runs true to form that will be the end of Activision Blizzard. Within 2 or 3 years they will have 'improved' the games into unusability and will then shut them down.

It's been 230 years since British pirates robbed the US of the metric system


Re: Fascinating history

<q>At no point do I need to know exactly how much my pint weighs (or its volume), so long as I know it's consistent - I have never once needed to order 1.35 pints of beer, and the smallest 'useable' fraction is a half. It functions quite reasonably as a unit of food delivery, so getting mightily offended by it not being defined by a number conveniently ending in a series of zeroes seems a bit of a waste of drinking time.</q>

Where I am a.t.m. beer is sold in 1/3 litre


A confusioin of issues

The OP seems to be confusing several different issues: rationality, simplicity, standardisation and convenience.

The metric/SI system is undoubtedly simpler than the Imperial system, and is more or less standard around the world. But even in France, the home of the metric system, bread was still sold in pounds when I last visited. They also have a measure of land which is the area you can walk round while smoking a pipe of tobacco. The British rod/pole/perch (the length of the left feet of the first sixteen men out of church on Sunday), or the yard (the distance from Henry VIII's nose to his thumb) are quite well-defined by comparison. And the inch/pouce/zoll is still widely used in Europe.

I was brought up on metric and had to learn Imperial units in a pre-computer age. For mental arithmetic the mixed units of the Imperial units are much more convenient: lots of factors, as opposed to merely 2 and 5 in the metric. There are still calculations for which I convert to Imperial, do the arithmetic, and convert back.

Problems only arise when you bring computers into the picture. The mixed radius arithmetic of Imperial units is a real PITA, though ICT did build a computer with 48-bit words which could be used as 12 4-bit digits, with each digit working in a different radix so as to enable direct calculation in £sd or ton/cwt/lb/oz.

But as for rationality, each system is rational, but (in-)convenient under different circumstances.

BOFH and the office security access upgrade


I have no idea what the bean-counting softwares would have made of 1752.

It is because of the bean counters that the financial year end moved from Lady Day (25 March) to 5 April. They insisted on having 365 days in their year even with the "loss" of 11 days.

Meet the merry pranksters who keep the workplace interesting, if not productive


Money paid late to a supplier is money sitting in the company bank account, growing interest.

As a contractor dealing with such companies, I used to put a note on my invoices that late payment would be subject to rather more interest than they were earning. About 2% pcm was enough; it really compounds up.

I did not often have to invoke the interest clause.

Tesla driver blames full-self-driving software for eight-car Thanksgiving Day pile up


At least 7 cars here were driving too close, or not paying enough attention,

Well, the drivers were not paying attention. The whole row is about just one car that appears not to have been paying attention.

New research aims to analyze how widespread COBOL is


Re: it lives!

"Isn't SQL just COBOL for databases?"

Sort of; [original] SQL is RDBMS for Cobol programmers.

SQL is a relative late-comer to the RDBMS field. Before it were things like QUEL on Ingres, which I used from around 1981; my QUEL manual is dated 1977. The original SQL was rather lacking in functionality and did not implement the full relational algebra. The lack of functionality was because Cobol programmers generally did not understand things like data types and recursion. (CS courses at university were a very new thing at the time.)

With the passage of years, SQL has become more capable, but also more baroque. No two vendors implement the same syntax, and where they do overlap they frequently have different semantics. This lack of standardisation in both Cobol and SQL has paid my wages for a good may years ;-)

Server installer fails to spot STOP button – because he wasn't an archaeologist


Re: Paint all over everything, including power sockets and emergency buttons?

" maybe they had to insure vehicles to comply with the Road Traffic Act(s)?"

If you are rich enough you can (could?) just deposit a suitably large sum at the Bank of England to cover possible claims. When I were a lad it was about £200k, but now ...


Re: Paint all over everything, including power sockets and emergency buttons?

I would postulate that the decorator in question could well have been some manager's son's new painting business.

Nah ... Probably DoE (Dept of Environment): dough-y by name and dough-y by nature

Uber fined $14m for lying to get customers to ditch cabs


Re: drivers sitting waiting for multiple orders

"2 weeks ago we tried 3 different McDs and couldn't get into any. In the end we came home and made toast."

You may have been better off, w.r.t both health and wallet.

Just 22% of techies in UK aged 50 or older, says Chartered Institute for IT


Less qualified?

"In terms of qualifications, the older IT crowd is less likely to have higher education qualifications – 64 percent versus 84 percent among those aged 16 to 49. And nine percent are likely to have an IT degree compared to 12 percent among the more youthful grouping."

When I started, < 3% of school leavers went to university, and there was no such thing as an "IT degree". Nor was there any such thing as "computer science"; it was called "computing" and was regarded as a craft and not as a science. I don't know that the change in terminology has changed reality in any way.

The results of the survey are not surprising.

Cerebras's supercomputer has more cores than world's fastest iron – with a big catch


", it can be implied from the lab's research paper detailing its work"


Twitter engineer calls out Elon Musk for technical BS in unusual career move


How to apply tartan paint


An oldie, but a goodie

To make this computer work, users had to press a button. Why didn't it work? Guess


Re: Bad design

"On the other hand, try asking someone to saddle a horse these days and see how far they get. I wouldn't have a clue where to begin."

Simple - the saddle goes on top of the horse.

Now a double bridle - that is tricky, and easy to get in a tangle. And driving harness can be really complicated.

Scientists, why not simply invent a working fusion plant using $50m from Uncle Sam


Re: Nuclear fusion power produces abundant amounts of energy

"Nuclear fusion power produces abundant amounts of energy with zero carbon emissions during operation."

But not free of heat pollution. To achieve that we need to use wind, solar, wave/water ...

In a time before calculators, going the extra mile at work sometimes didn't add up




I did enjoy some sums such as timesing (multiplying) something like £5 3s 18¼d

What are you some sort of masochist?

(ok might be fun a few times in class but not everyday in the sweetshop)


Most prices, discounts etc were magic numbers that were easy to multiply in your head. You did not need a calculator or a ready reckoner (anyone remember those?)

In fact, I still sometimes do calculations by converting £p to £sd, doing the arithmetic, and converting back.My head is still stuffed full of magic numbers.

NOBODY PRINT! Selfless hero saves typing pool from carbon catastrophe


Re: Uniplex "my God, it chills me just mention the dark lord's name,"

That reminds me of a Cobol job that ran perfectly for a couple of years and then, one Monday morning it crashed. It turned out that it would always crash on the 100th day of the year (2-digit day number), but for the previous two years the 100th day had been on a weekend, so the job was not run on that day.

Legacy IT to blame for UK's inflexible benefits system


Re: My BS-o-meter just shot off the scale

Firms are now paying £600 per day for COBOL contracts and finding it hard to get people. I'm wondering if there are enough capable retirees left to attract back to the workplace.

As a retired programmer (inter alia Cobol) I was earning that much 15 years ago. Factor in inflation, tax, IR35 etc. and I'm not getting out of bed for that money.

'Bigger is better' is back for hardware – without any obvious benefits


Celebrate Cerbras

To the best of my knowledge Cerebras have a special compiler to schedule work on the beast. And it really is a beast; I have been in the Presence.

Any fool can write a language: It takes compilers to save the world


"No problem, simply* write optimal code to start with."

The way we used to when I were a lad back in the 60s and 70s. If you have a von Neuman architecture (not always true nowadays) then nearly all the possible optimisations can be done at source language (or IR) level. Even cache coherence can be handled largely (not totally) in source code. Register allocations/spillage is about all you need to worry about at the machine level.

If the compiler has to work hard to optimise your program you probably chose a bad data structure or algorithm. Don't blame the compiler for your own poor work.

Are we springing into a Y2K-class nightmare?


Re: if programmed correctly, mean that a straightforward update will do the trick

When choosing whether to go to permanent GMT or permanent BST you have to remember that Edinburgh, on the east coast, is west of Bristol on the west coast.

When I were a lad we did have permanent BST (British Standard time they called it) for a few years. The Scots, in particular, hated it because they are so far west that it puts them almost two time zones away from "local" time.

Hardware boffin starts work on simulation of an entire IBM S/360 Model 50 mainframe


the computer on which virtualisation was invented.

Oh no it wasn't!

The Ferranti Atlas got there first and had been running it for years before IBM even thought about it. I remember a face-off at an IFIP conference around 1968 between an iBM-er discussing certain problems that they had discussed while *emulating* virtualisation and paging, and an Atlas man who just said " We have been running it IRL for 10 years now without hitting that problem."

At my first (commercial) job in 1972 at BP we were just thinking of switching from /360 to /370.

Nothing's working, and I've checked everything, so it must be YOUR fault


Re: The louder they yell.....

Positive: Wrong at the top of one's voice.

Ambrose Bierce: The Devil's Dictionaryy

Wi-Fi not working? It's time to consult the lovely people on those fine Linux forums


Not seeing the switch

I got caught by a video camera that was just showing a black image, even though the indicator light was on. A black switch on a black case does not help.

Shades of Vetinari's coat of arms on his black coach.

Maker of ATM bombing tutorials blew himself up – Euro cops


Re: Pretty much standard

<quote>Years ago I had an old (~1930s) chemistry book. Not only did it tell you in detail how to make explosives(*) [snip]

(*) To the extent that these days it would attract a charge of possessing material likely to be of use to terrorists.</quote>

I had, maybe still have somewhere, a Schoolboy's Pocket Book that contained all this info. It also contained much other useful/useless info. I also remember at least one children's novel that described how to make explosives.

US school districts blame Amazon for nationwide bus driver shortage


Re: Uhh...

But the US does not have "normal bus services" that one can re-schedule. Public transport is socialist.

The unit of measure for fatbergs is not hippopotami, even if the operator of an Australian sewer says so


The plural of "bus"

What is this that roareth thus?

Can it be a Motor Bus?

Yes, the smell and hideous hum

Indicat Motorem Bum!

Implet in the Corn and High

Terror me Motoris Bi:

Bo Motori clamitabo

Ne Motore caedar a Bo---

Dative be or Ablative

So thou only let us live:---

Whither shall thy victims flee?

Spare us, spare us, Motor Be!

Thus I sang; and still anigh

Came in hordes Motores Bi,

Et complebat omne forum

Copia Motorum Borum.

How shall wretches live like us

Cincti Bis Motoribus?

Domine, defende nos

Contra hos Motores Bos!

--Alfred Denis Godley

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


Re: I've got a suggestion...

"Casing is a strange grammatical quirk of some written languages. It has nothing to do with meaning or intent."

How about:

1. I helped my Uncle Jack off a horse.

2. I helped my uncle jack off a horse.

D'oh! Misplaced chair shuts down nuclear plant in Taiwan


system was running at 6-10 per cent of operating reserve ratio.

Britain does not have that much reserve, even at the best of times. We only have about 2% spare capacity.

The coming of Wi-Fi 6 does not mean it's time to ditch your cabled LAN. Here's why


Re: This months of work from home showed too....

Twenty years ago, when I moved in to this house, I had the whole place cabled up for phone and networking. The installer asked me why I wanted a data port in the kitchen, but it has proved useful: the kitchen has the best light and the best work surface for fiddling with hardware.

At my desk, the laptops (plural) have both wifi and wireless, and with a static IP, I have two servers keeping me toasty through the winter. Don't ask about the summer (what summer?).

Appeals court nixes online blueprint sharing ban on 3D-printed 'ghost guns'


Re: Why bother with 3D printing

"Guns are not the problem in US, people's attitude is. In Israel, for example, percentage of gun owners is higher than in US. How many mass shootings have been there in Israel in a month?"

AFAIK in Israel you can own a hand-gun, subject to controls, but you are allowed only 15 bullets. Not 15 per week or 15 per month. Just 15.

How not to apply for a new job: Apply for it on a job site


Re: Old farts

At 75+ I'm a bit fartier than you, and still at it. It keeps me out of mischief for a couple of hours a day, and the bank balance topped up.

Sure, Dave might seem like he's avidly listening to this morning's meeting, but he's actually doing a yoga routine


Re: I’d be quite happy going back to the office...

<<once we’ve got autonomous vehicles that let me kip on the back seat while it wastes its life stuck in traffic jams.>>

They are called buses and trains.

California bans website 'dark patterns', confusing language when opting out of having your personal info sold


OPt-in vs/ opt-out

I have given up ever using Youtube, even in a private window, because it is so tedious to click through all their pages of opt-out.

'No' does not mean 'yes'... unless you are a scriptwriter for software user interfaces


Re: Distinctions

<q>*Chesterton proposed that to call oneself a "modernist" was no more sensible than to call oneself a "Thursdayist".</q>

And as for post-modernist!, WTF!

Back to the office with you: 'Perhaps 5 days is too much family time' – Workday CEO


Re: WFH is good, but...

<quote>... I could really do without the 'work' part.</quote>

Been there, done that, but it soon gets boring. After 55 years I am still programming, though only a couple of hours a day, it helps keep me from rotting away.

What does my neighbour's Tesla have in common with a stairlift?


Mercedes AA-class EV


Mate, it's the '90s. You don't need to be reachable every minute of every hour. Your operating system can't cope


Re: My first major upgrade

110Baud acoustic coupler and a DecWriter-> 300 baud modem -> 1200 -> 9600 ->19.2k; I never went higher with modems. (As a side note, writing modem firmware in C with Flex generatng the AT-command processor, and then shoe-horning into a 6502 with an 8k ROM was a fun project.)

After that, Demon were offering the experimental ADSL at 2Mb with static IP addresses. Now, FTTC is sufficiently fast that I no longer care.

After huffing and puffing for years, US senators unveil law to blow the encryption house down with police backdoors


Cryptographic signing?

"With that said, to the degree that Apple would still be forced to create code it does not want to create, and cryptographically sign – i.e., vouch for – code it does not truly stand by,"

If all the encryption methods are deliberately broken of what value is the signing of code?

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


Pass by name

Nowadays that is called a lambda and is supposed to be the dog's wotsits.

Tinkering with a component of a parameter inside the called procedure was called Jensen's Device and could be very useful - if kept under control.

e.g. thingy(a[i], i)

if 'i' is altered inside 'thingy' then you get a different array element. Happy days.

I also wrote a Coral 66 compiler. It really was a godawful language. Not only was I/O undefined, arithmetic was too.