* Posts by Frumious Bandersnatch

1421 posts • joined 8 Nov 2007

Muslim clerics issue fatwa banning the devout from Mars One 'suicide' mission

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: All religious nutjobs, simple answer.

"Nihil curo de ista tua stulta superstitione"

(Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum sonatur)

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Mathematicians spark debate with 13 GB proof for Erdős problem

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Re: Bah!

a) Fermat was pulling the old "hence it is obvious from the diagram" stunt that was roundly rejected as sound reasoning or excuse-making by my Applied Maths teacher in '73.

Oh, I don't know. I think that Pythagoras' theorem is self-evident from this diagram

2 [sic]) It is *NEVER* appropriate to point to a Wikipedia page to dodge explaining something mathematical to the non-hard-sums-numpties out there

Oops. I appear to have linked to a wikipedia page. Oh noes!

In all fairness, though, I do agree with you that Wikipedia pages on maths are generally bad. They're definitely failing in their attempts to explain most concepts to the general reader, and often even to those who aren't frightened by and/or have a modest level of maths ability.

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rephrased?

If you look at the +1 and -1 values as steps in a random walk over the number line, then there must be some subsequence of steps that moves you arbitrarily far from the origin. It seems intuitively obvious: on the one hand, it's kind of like an infinite monkey argument or, say, that if you take all the digits of pi in some number base and squint at them in the right way (cherry picking some subsequence), you'll find some pattern that looks meaningful. Actually, Pi, the film uses this as its premise, now that I think of it.

The other way it seems intuitively obvious is that if the sequence is actually random and you start slicing it up, you're bound to be able to find some sequence that has lower entropy than expected. It shouldn't matter, though, because the entropy of the entire sequence is fixed (so using Kolmogorov complexity to define the entropy, the fact that there are some signs of structure, it doesn't mean that this negentropy is useful for compressing the entire string). That's the way I see it, anyway. I just don't know what the point is of looking for structure in unstructured (random) strings.

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Tim Cook dangles 'new product categories' carrot over $14bn Apple share buyback

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or a digital payment system, which should probably be dubbed iWant.

Wanty wanty no getty and getty getty no wanty.

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Handsome young autopilot reports for spaceplane duty

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new space pilot

Did the reg remember to ask him whose shirts he wears? Or does he wears capes instead?

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So Dr Dre, Jimmy Iovine and Trent Reznor walk into a bar

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what the world needs now

Is another folk singer like I need a hole in my head.

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The future of storage: disk-based or just discombobulated?

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Re: Then why not just use a vacuum?

Here's a link to a forum thread here on the Reg where the "why helium?" question was discussed already...

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Then why not just use a vacuum?

The air forms a cushion that lets the head get close, but not too close to the platter. It will dampen a small amount of vibration and avoid the head crashing into the platter. At least, that's as I understand it... I think that I've read somewhere that one of the challenges of using helium is that it's going to leave the head closer to the platter because it's not as viscous as air, so they have to work with lower tolerances.

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Re: 3.5" drives

presumably engineering the spinny bits gets harder the wider and heavier the platters

I think you're on the right track (no pun intended). Larger disks have higher moments of inertia, which is a measure of how hard it is to turn (or stop, once it's going). Higher moments of inertia require more powerful motors, longer spin-up/spin-down time and have poorer speed control response. Also, as you move out towards the edge of the disk, the speed of the platter relative to the head is proportional to the radius (obviously it travels a distance of 2pi r every revolution) so another limiting factor will be the speed at which the read/write heads can encode/decode information. If the platter is moving too fast, either the electronics won't be fast enough to keep up or the arc length needed for writing a block (or convenient unit) of data at the speed the heads can manage will be too long to justify simply increasing the radius indefinitely (IOW, areal density will eventually scale in proportion to 1/2pi.r once you reach the limit of the head's en/decoding circuitry).

Thirdly, larger disks are more susceptible to vibrations and wobbles (perhaps due to imperfections in the manufacturing process). The disk heads have to float on a cushion of air (ground effect, I think it is) and you increase the risk of head crashes as you scale up the radius and angular momentum. As the disk is effectively a big gyroscope, it resists changing its pitch if the drive is tilted (dropped), whereas the disk head and mounting doesn't have a similar moment of inertia, so again it's going to cause torsional stresses and more possibility for head crashes if the whole disk pitches or vibrates in the wrong way.

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Our Milky Way galaxy is INSIDE OUT. Just as we suspected, mutter boffins

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I think they missed out a crucial coma.

Like the one you were in when writing your post?

(McKean's Law and all that)

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Pregnant? Celebrate your proudest moment ... by 3D-printing a copy of the foetus

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Ahh... I see you're a fan of H. R. Giger

No. That's my baby.

*awkward silence*

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Brit boffin tests LETTUCE as wire for future computers

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Re: Apologies in advance

re: This looks like just the tip of the iceberg.....

Yes, next step is to calculate cos to 3 decimal places. It's not very bright, though---you can only use it for dim sums.

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Re: Why not use hemp

Great for active-high circuits

Maybe active low. Lettuce contains narcotics/soporifics. (fun fact: that's why lettuce wine is not advised)

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Good news: 'password' is no longer the #1 sesame opener, now it's '123456'

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using hard-to-guess mnemonic device

Step 1: pick a tune that you can play on a piano keyboard

Step 2a: assign one key to each piano key /or/

Step 2b: count whole notes/semitones from some starting position

Step 3: hum the tune or come up with some mnemonic to remind yourself of the association

Step 4: wait until someone makes a dictionary with common melodies

To be honest, this is probably just as bad as something like picking/encoding sections from $INSERT_ONE_AND_ONLY_HOLY_BOOK_HERE.

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Devs write 'film my shag' sex app for Google Glass

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with apologies to Irvine Welsh

You said when we embarked on this great adventure together, that lots of laughter was essential in a relationship.

I agreed.

You also made the point that a great deal of sex was of equal importance.

Again, I agreed. Wholeheartedly.

In fact I remember your exact words: laughter and sex are the barometers of a relationship. This was the statement you made, if I remember correctly.

Don't get me wrong. I couldn't agree more. But no at the same time, ya fuckin cow.

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Boffins find ALIEN WORLD orbiting the Sun's LONG LOST TWIN

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Re: Rigorous Logic vs. Methane Spirals from Uranus

... apparently not much intelligence here in the forums, either. Stick that in your equation!

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Clink! Terrorist jailed for refusing to tell police his encryption password

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Re: and another thing ...

Q: How do they tell the difference between encrypted data, and a capture of a few seconds pink noise from a quiet part of the FM spectrum?

I think you just answered your own question there. An encrypted file will sound like white noise, whereas pink is 1/f.

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Apple fanbois make it 'official', hook up with Internet of Fridges Things

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Re: The piece of home equipment I would like to control using my fondleslab

All in-range humans would be good. Plus an auto-freeze when they come into range, to give me time to formulate my evil plan...

Might I suggest some sort of remotely-controlled device that emits a waft of bacon to entice people into range? In fact, it could probably dispense actual, real bacon. Much easier, technologically-speaking, than a freeze ray, and almost as good at preventing humans from escaping---kind of like the olfactory equivalent of a monkey trap.

(sadly, those glyphs on hand driers don't actually mean "receive bacon", which is why humans eventually give up and leave the bathroom)

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'You win, Kanye': Coinye creators throw in towel after rapper sues

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re: Maybe he's making his own Koin Kardashian currency

I wonder whether one could get away with "Dark Cashian"? Or would we be subject to the lawyers' malaprops?

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rapper sues someone

Damn. I can remember a time when rap music was all about the cash.

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Foot-loving cat burglar nicks THREE THOUSAND individual socks

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I know it's the wrong species

but I immediately thought of the Magnet Fields song "Fido, your leash is too long".

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AMD's 'Revolution' will be televised ... if its CPU-GPU frankenchip Kaveri is a hit

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It's a poor sort of memory that only works one way

By which I mean sticking with the one-dimensional layout. As you up the number of cores and (as they're doing here) introducing more speculative pre-fetching on either side of a branch you're putting more and more strain on the memory bandwidth. It's all well and good scaling your compute cores up to 12, but the memory bandwidth just isn't keeping pace. Wouldn't it make more sense to look at going to 2-d or some other architecture (maybe even use a projective plane like the Fano plane and let apps build custom topologies on top of it)? Even the PS3 had two ring-shaped memory buses (though main memory itself wasn't laid out like that), so it's not beyond the realm of possibility to get novel memory buses in consumer/general purpose machines.

Maybe this is something we can expect to come along eventually thanks to the SeaMicro purchase? Or is that purely for inter-system connections?

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Bloke hews plywood Raspberry Pi tablet

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Re: .... @Danbo

Once you've learned to recognize your birch from quite a long way away

Don't you mean "the larch"?

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Supermassive BLACK HOLE to stuff MYSTERY gas BLOB into open maw

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nit-picking

Hmm... there seems to be quite a few commenters here today who thought this was a pretty lousy article. And yes, I also used the "send corrections" link...

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Prison Locker: A load of überhyped malware FUD over... internet chatter

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: A silver lining to this fetid, fecal overcast

will make more people more punctilious about making, securing, and testing their backups

I think you mean something more like "diligent" or "meticulous". "Punctilious" conjures up the same sort of negative connotations as "officious" does for me...

Just make sure your backup machine isn't infected! Oh, and a database of hashes for integrity-checking is a pretty good idea, too.

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Space Station bags extra 10yrs of life as SOLAR STORM scrubs resupply

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Re: Oh crap.

The ISS is a useless PR stunt.

If that's all it is, they're doing a piss-poor job at it. Like, why don't they have some cute animals up there with 24/7 space-kitty cams? Maybe you have something with your post's title there, though... having cat piss and shit flying around everywhere would be kind of disgusting.

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Anatomy of a 22-year-old X Window bug: Get root with newly uncovered flaw

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Re: Desktop...

X11 only has any use if you're using a unix system as a workstation, which is actually pretty rare... Most unix systems are used as embedded devices or servers, and are unlikely to be running X11.

Also, how would an unprivileged user introduce an arbitrary BDF font to the X11 server?

This isn't quite true. Don't forget that one aspect of the X Window system is that it provides a networked client/server architecture. You talk about embedded systems. I have several Pis and other similar systems that I don't run an X display on, yet I still run X applications on the embedded device (eg, AVR programmer) by using 'ssh -X' and have the apps displayed on my workstation.

I don't know enough about the architecture of X (in terms of whether fonts are local to the client or server side, or whether there's a privileged process at work on the client side when I use 'ssh -X', though probably not) to be able to say, but it looks like the insecurity would also be there if I'm running remote X applications too. As to introducing arbitrary fonts, I'm pretty sure that the font doesn't even have to exist on the system: it seems like all the attacker has to do is to present a specially-crafted filename, and the sscanf will smash the stack before the routine ever gets to checking whether the file actually exists or not...

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Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: ALl of that could be avoided with proper sub-functions (smiles for the 'goto')

'break' and 'continue' are both essentially unconditional branches

Actually, your example is wrong, assuming you're telling us to put a break statement somewhere in an if ... else block. They don't break out of if() statements... only loop or switch constructs.

That aside, the point I really wanted to make is that break/continue in C are really limited since they only jump out of the nearest enclosing loop/switch. Unlike Perl (where the next/last keywords can take a label to indicate which loop to jump out of), there's no way to use them to quickly exit several nesting levels. That's one of the reasons why C has goto and, IMO, it's perfectly acceptable at times. The alternative of setting up a temporary "want to exit" variable in each loop level is just too messy, error prone and, at times, inefficient.

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Re: It looks like NO ONE ever audited X Windows

given my ubuntu machine has 337 ttf fonts and 0 bdf fonts, I wouldn't worry too much...

Eh, you should worry. Just because you don't have any bdf fonts, it doesn't mean that the buggy interface for loading them isn't there. As the article said, it triggers "when reading a user-provided specially crafted font". Any user program that's talking to the X server can then use it for privilege escalation, and that's a really bad thing.

Besides, just because you didn't find any bdf files, it doesn't mean that your system isn't already rooted. An attacker can delete the temporary bdf file after running an exploit. In fact, the code looks like it doesn't even care whether the supplied filename even exists (and in fact, it won't), so your blithe dismissal is even more stupid.

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Undeterred by Snapchat's snafus, upstart Confide punts self-destruct selfies

Frumious Bandersnatch
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nothing is private

Unless it is truly "se offendendo"... it cannot be else.

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Linksys's über-hackable WRT wireless router REBORN with 802.11ac

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RE: Dual core 1.5 ARM is nice and probably explains the price hike

I hardly think so. Look at all the other products that use ARM SoC. Off the top of my head, there are systems like Raspberry Pi, MK808, ODROID, Beaglebone Black and huge numbers of cheap Chinese Android phones and tablets. Many of them have dual core or better. Granted, the engineering work needed to add high-speed networking to the system (and fab the chips) is going to make it more expensive than most of these options, but the basic ARM CPU/SoC certainly doesn't explain the high price. To me it looks like they're charging an enormous premium based solely on the reputation the original 54g line had as being hacker-friendly. This isn't the first time that this has happened: at one point in the evolution of the product, they brought out a new revision that actually had less memory than the existing models. Then they reissued it as WRT54GL, and justified charging the same (or more) for it just because it had an 'L' (for Linux) at the end of the model name.

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Dusty old supernova could reveal answer to life, the universe and EVERYTHING

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Re: A question for the astronomers

Out of curiosity, what stops all that new founded dust coalescing into another Star on the same spot? 

In a word, fusion. IIRC, the reason the sun went nova in the first place is that it ran out of hydrogen and (?) then helium. Then it reached a point where neutron pressure from the core (a byproduct of fusion) became insufficient to stop the sun from collapsing on itself, which in turn triggered the nova.

So even if you gathered up all the relatively heavy elements that the nova produced, there wouldn't be enough hydrogen left to trigger star formation again.

Also, consider that a lot of the mass that the nova sheds will be traveling at a significant fraction of c and will have been spread over distances measured in light years in short order (in the cosmological time scale) and it should be pretty clear that gravity (the weakest force) will probably not be enough to cause the matter to coalesce again before the death of the universe anyway...

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Naked Aussie gets wedged in washing machine

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Bonsai Aussie?

He did know that Bonsai Kitten was a hoax, right?

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'BILLION-YEAR DISK' to help FUTURE LIFEFORMS study us

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Re: Since when does digital data need a permanent medium in the ranges of millions of years?

what can only be described as 'mostly porn'.......

With the remainder being Rick Astley videos. Or cats.

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Microsoft tries to trademark 'Mod' in the US

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Re: Quadrophenia!

Cool, all we need now is a Linux distro called 'Rockers' and we can have Mods vs Rockers!

But they'd probably get sued by the Rockstar consortium.

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Seoul-blackening disappointment for Samsung backers as stock droops

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Re: *sigh* white people....

although I imagine that this sloppiness was in part due to the rather poor attempt to tie in hot won ton soup and the Korean currency, the "won"??

My guess is that they couldn't come up with a pun involving kimchi (or, like myself) didn't know that gomtang was a traditional Korean soup.

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Gay hero super-boffin Turing 'may have been murdered by MI5'

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Re: Security Risks

"...witches..?"

John Dee was an occultist (which might qualify him as a witch in the broadest terms) who advised QE1. May not have been who the OP had in mind, but the facts fit.

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Gift-giving gotchas: How to avoid Xmas morning EMBARRASSMENT

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Re: Rechargables

Now factor in the inconvenience of the ones that you think are charged and are in fact dead, and the need to establish whether the appliance is at fault, the battery, or the charger, and you start to see the rationale breaking down even more quickly than the bl00dy batteries themselves.

Harsh. I think you should invest in a multi-meter. Just check the voltage and you're done--no need to have elevated stress levels over dumb electronics.

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The Pirate Bay changes domain again … TWICE!

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Re: The life aquatic

You could have got some submarine references in there too.

I think they did, only they ... er ... went under your head.

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Coat

Set sail for Argentina

.Ar!

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Gran Turismo 6: Another glossy, gorgeous Mario Kart on steroids

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Re: Snore...

yet another boring sequel/spinoff

Racing game ... spin-off ... I see what you did there. Nice :)

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waltz-win in first car: a Honda (yes, really)

Eh, what model of Honda? I wouldn't be surprised if any of the type R family waltzed to a win in the early races.

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Go on, buy Bitcoin. But DON'T say we didn't WARN YOU

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Re: Tulips ! @ Jonathan 29

Then again I must say, how long can tulips stay in shape until they rot and become worthless?

Notwithstanding the post above casting doubt on whether "tulip mania" was a real thing or not, apparently it wasn't about speculating on the value of particular tulips (which will rot, as you say) but a bet on the futures market-how much a particular genetic line might be worth... though again with the caveat that predicting whether a particular line will produce interesting (read "valuable") blooms is notoriously difficult.

As for Bitcoin, it does seem to have all the classic hallmarks of a bubble, but a halving of value does, paradoxically, make it more attractive right now...

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Tube be or not tube be: Apple’s CYLINDRICAL Mac Pro is out tomorrow

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Re: How long before...

An up vote from me, since the Samsung Xerox fanbois have down voted you a couple of times.

Eh, you do realise that it was Apple that copied their UI from Xerox Parc, don't you? If not, you picked exactly the wrong choice of words for your put-down.

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Microsoft now using next-gen Roslyn C#, Visual Basic compilers in house

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Re: re: Several minus points to MS for the term "dogfooding".

So to clear this up... people can eat dog food?

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re: Several minus points to MS for the term "dogfooding".

Gertz wrote. "In fact, the daily builds of VS are now compiled using Roslyn, all as part of a process that we refer to in the biz as 'dogfooding.'"

My immediate reaction was to search the web to discover if humans can actually eat dog food. Probably not the kind of interest the comment was meant to inspire. Oh yes, I'll also throw him some demerits for verbing an arbitrary noun.

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Brilliant Brit bloke builds breakfast-belching BACON DRONE

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Re: So...

Why didn't I get breakfast delivered this morning?

Why didn't I get any soup?

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Apple fanbois warned: No, Cupertino HASN'T built a Bitcoin mining function into Macs

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:(){ :|: & };:

That is all. :-)

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Re: rm -rf /*

Or maybe 'dd | ar win | sudo tee /boot/kernel.img'? Too subtle/meta?

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Linux Voice journos hit crowdfunding target

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Re: Linux

is for queers. Seriously, is any still using this?

Yes it is. The thing you forget is that it's also for straight people. It doesn't discriminate. Isn't the GPL fabulous?

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