* Posts by John H Woods

2170 posts • joined 14 Nov 2007

We are the Knights who code Ni!

John H Woods
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Re: I don't quite understand ...

Yes, I read the blog post. I'm certainly not a Smalltalk expert either (I was, once upon a time); my view is that:

As for improved syntax, I'm sorry but I don't see persuasive examples here. Smalltalk doesn't have any syntax apart from three reserved words, some delimiters and a particular form of message passing. There is certainly no syntax for handling dictionaries or other collections, you just send them messages. If you don't like the standard messages, you can use different ones. Is it that you don't like the way messages are passed?

I'm not sure what the advantage with not declaring a functions parameters is. If you want a function with variable arity, aren't you just passing it a collection of parameters? (Or, even better, invoking a function implemented by a particular class of collection?)

Every variety of Smalltalk I have used integrates easily with C.

Smalltalk supports parallel code but support for native threads is interesting - however, the lack of this in most Smalltalks is an issue of the Virtual Machine, rather than the language.

I'm not dismissing potential improvements here - I'm extremely interested. In particular I may have misunderstood the issue concerning functions. I would concur that many Smalltalks have ended up 95% like ST-80 but I think there is a good reason for that; it is, in my opinion, nearly perfect. I also think though, that in agreeing that all Smalltalks are very nearly ST-80, you have somewhat undermined your argument that it is difficult to compare its advantages to Smalltalk in general, rather than a specific implementation. If that is true, it suggests to me that your real advances are primarily in the interpretation of bytecodes (i.e. VM work) rather than in language design.

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John H Woods
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I don't quite understand ...

... what advantages it has to Smalltalk. Anyone care to explain?

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RFID wants to TRACK my TODGER, so I am going to CUT it OFF

John H Woods
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"I thought we all used the microwave for drying clothes...." -- Boris the Cockroach

Yeah, but it's only you that can survive doing it whilst wearing them!

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WIN a 6TB Western Digital Black hard drive with El Reg

John H Woods
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Funding Committee (via Skype): "There's been a misunderstanding, Doctor, we were sure your application stated research into composite bosons"

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John H Woods
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The only trouble is that it goes titsup if you lie back

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John H Woods
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This could be dangerous in the wrong hands, let's keep it away from the Norks.

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Apple VICTORY: Old Samsung phones not sold any more can't be sold any more

John H Woods
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Re: I missed that one!

"was it obvious in 1996?"

I don't know how old you are but I suspect many of us could have written the regexp for detecting telephone numbers in 1986 let alone 1996, it would only be something like [^0-9+-() ]\+?[0-9-() ]+[^0-9+-()] I'm sure that can be revised but as I just typed it without stopping (I'm walking the dog at the moment) and I'd hardly call myself a coding genius, that should give you an idea how easy it is.

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Man given positive pregnancy test in an Apple Watch box

John H Woods
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XKCD

946

Disclaimer: I'm still glad to be in the car on the left, when all's said and done.

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Microsoft throws crypto foes an untouchable elliptic curveball

John H Woods
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Re: Yeah but...

You should acquaint yourself with Kerckhoffs' Principle

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Jeremy Corbyn wins Labour leadership election

John H Woods
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Re: Congratulations!

"The NHS [...] consumes (tax payers) money like a Hoover"

According to The King's Fund UK spending is about the OECD average, lower than Germany, France, the Netherlands and Canada and significantly lower than the USA.

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John H Woods
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Re: i for one, welcome... (actually I don't but that's by the by)

"But what's his stance on tech? "

Let's just remember, we aren't voting for a dictator, or even a president. It's quite possible that he will form a (shadow) cabinet which will temper his most left-wing views: we won't know until we see a manifesto.

The problem with British democracy remains a dire combination of First Past the Post, the whip system, and the left-right partisanship. We've decided that swinging from boom to bust is bad, why is the only way we can moderate our government by swinging from right to left? Can't we have: a parliament roughly reflecting the views of the electorate; MPs voting according to their conscience and their constituencies even if this is sometimes against the views of their leadership; and sensible constructive discussion leading to consensus government?

I live in safe seat - my national vote will make no difference at all. It's a bit of a relief really: as a pro-military liberal; a pro-nuclear green; an anti-pansurveillance patriot and a fervent believer in both market capitalism and a state health service, I have no idea who I could vote for anyway.

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Reddit's ousted Ellen Pao abandons Silicon Valley sexism sueball

John H Woods
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Re: last para..

"depends what you consider to be a "widely accepted fact"." --- raving angry loony

Indeed -- the only way to tell whether it something is widely accepted is to take a sample of the population at random and ask them. That is the point of doing jury duty selection at random. Jurors should be trusted to exercise proper judgement in the specific case under consideration; where you can't rely on this a process without a jury would be more appropriate.

Also the precise nature of the question matters. Do you think that sexism is so endemic in the IT that women can never be treated fairly? No. Do you think there is sometimes sexism in the IT that affects the careers of women? Possibly, I don't know. Do you agree there is no place for sexism in IT? Yes. Do agree there is no sexism in the IT industry? No.

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John H Woods
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Re: Interesting last paragraph

"Would you want a bunch of Apple fanbois on the jury, deciding if Android infringes Apple's rounded images patent?" -- AC

No, I'd want a representative sample of the population. That could easily include one or more 'fanbois' and/or one or more Apple sceptics. If you are going to outright chose your jury you'd be better off with a non-jury trial informed by bunch of hand-picked experts; if you are doing a jury trial you need to make sure that your jury represents the population at large. The more 'selection' that is allowed, the more chance the randomly chosen sample will deviate significantly from the make-up of the population. In fact, that is why preemptory challenge was abolished in the UK by the 1988 Criminal Justice Act.

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John H Woods
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Re: Interesting last paragraph

That shocked me too. What's the next step in juror selection, asking people if they might possibly find for the plaintiff, and rejecting anyone who says yes?

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Cracktivists pop 11 MEELLION Ashley Madison passwords

John H Woods
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Re: Poor article

Sorry that's a bit garbled, I'm not well at the moment. Say you have a dictionary including common passwords. You then get access to the a set of bcrypt12 hashes and the salt . You can now begin to check for passwords - you add the salt to each password in your dictionary and run it through bcrypt12. Problem - that is a slow algorithm (on purpose). However, AM had also stored the MD5s of some tokens they had foolishly made (I may be simplifying a bit) by concatenating together lowercase usernames, passwords and a salt. "johnhwoods::password123::salt". Now, MD5 is fast, and you know the usernames and the salt, so you can very quickly look for collisions. If you find that password123 gives you a collision, you know that some case variant of it is the answer. So now, you only need to check 256 case variants: you'd probably start "as is" then the 8 combinations with one capital, then the 28 with two etc. Suddenly instead of needing to run your whole dictionary through bcrypt you just have a few variations.

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John H Woods
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Re: Poor article

My understanding is this:

They effectively stored what amounted to the MD5 hashes of the passwords AS WELL as the bcrypt ones.

Brcypt$12$, applies 2^12 (4096) rounds of hashing. This should make the leaked bcrypt passwords very expensive to crack, and that's why AM said the passwords were safe. HOWEVER, there were also "tokens" of some sort, represented by the MD5 hashes of (prior to about June 2014) a concatenation of the lowercased username, lowercased password and the salt string. The salt and usernames being known, very many guesses could be made at the password: you just run through a list of lowercase passwords, inserting them into the input and, because MD5 is so fast (unlike bcrypt) very many guesses of these can be made in a short space of time. When you get a collision, you know what the lowercase of the password is. So then you just have to try all that password in every possible case combination and (especially as many of the passwords had low numbers of capitals -- many had none -- this is not that hard) run those through bcrypt$12$ to find out what the password was.

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WIN a 6TB Western Digital Black hard drive with El Reg

John H Woods
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Did I miss it, or has no one mentioned...

"Snake, SNAKE, SNAAAKE!?"

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GCHQ wants to set your passwords. In a good way

John H Woods
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"I don't understand why password meters should not be used, except to facilitate the cracking by intelligence agencies." --- SII

I think it's just because they are crap -- see examples above. The only realistic way to check user-generated password complexity is to ensure that it's not on a list of known passwords. It might be possible to make a reasonable stab at guessing whether a given password is from a password manager though, by applying various tests of randomness.

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Apple's iPad Pro: We're making a Surface Pro WITH A STYLUS over Steve Jobs' DEAD BODY

John H Woods
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Re: #notallbusinesscards

I googled that and only got your comment! I have received a fair few business cards over the years and, although there have been some odd shapes, I don't think I've ever had an A shape one: I think A9 would be a bit too small anyway, it's more like a coupon. Maybe A8 might do the trick.

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John H Woods
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A9 business cards ...

... would be an unusual shape. AN is 2^-N square metres with sides in the ratio of 1:sqrt(2); A9 is 37.2mm x 52.6mm. Most business cards are 85mm x 55mm aren't they? Probably US ones are in inches but i think they are a bit too oblong to be A-shape.

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Cuffed Texan woman holsters loaded gun IN VAGINA

John H Woods
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Re: Hang on

1) revolver different story

2) actually some (rare) revolvers do rotate the cylinder on firing, these are called "automatic" (although, strictly speaking they are of course semi-automatic). Manual (most) revolvers rotate the cylinder and cock the hammer when you pull the trigger (rather than when you fire the round).

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Toyota chucks 50 MEELLION BUCKS at AI car tech

John H Woods
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Joke

Re: All they need...

You don't need Strong AI to drive a car, otherwise most of the people on the road would be incapable of driving.

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John H Woods
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DropBear, I'm very glad you survived this collision. I wouldn't call it an accident because your description clearly shows the other motorist at fault. The fact that you hit him rather than him hitting you broadside is down to a bit of a knife-edge case though - for nearly all of the scenarios where a vehicle emerges from this sidestreet into your path, you would have been able to stop.

This is why I was at pains to use the term almost always. There may never be an autonomous car that could have avoided that motorist but there will certainly be one - in fact there probably already is one - that can avoid very many more of these situations than us humans can -- even just the reduction of a 200ms eye-to-brake latency translates to nearly 3m at 30mph, and that's before we factor in the ability of a computer to exert nearly maximum breaking nearly instantly.

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John H Woods
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"if a vehicle comes out of a side street into your path immediately in front of you a collision is inevitable." --- Smooth Newt

Unless the vehicle hits your door, this is almost always a failure of anticipation. You didn't see the sidestreet or you did but you didn't see the approaching vehicle was unlikely to stop, etc. If you *couldn't see* either of those things, you were almost certainly doing some combination of going too fast and paying too little attention.

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So Quantitative Easing in the eurozone is working, then?

John H Woods
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"I also like Tim's articles, even though I often disagree with some of his positions on free markets, etc."

Absolutely ... almost the opposite of my politics ... or so I thought. But, inspired by Mr Worstall, I actually read Adam Smith, and realized that almost everything I thought was wrong with free market capitalism was because the markets aren't actually free enough. I should emphasize this means in terms of competition; Adam Smith does not seem to have been particularly against regulation, rather the opposite: that government regulation (e.g. anti-cartel regulation) is absolutely essential but within that competition should be as unfettered as possible.

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John H Woods
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Consistent K

""1.44MB", just because weenie programmers are wedded to this bizarre shibboleth, but can't even use it consistently." -- pnony

1.44MB is an excellent choice if you want to complain about lack of consistency because the M is neither mebi nor mega but kibi-kilo (or kilo-kibi)!

(512 bytes per sector x 18 sectors per track x 80 tracks per side x 2 sides = 1440 x 1024)

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John H Woods
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"You're still here, aren't you?"

Mentioning natural selection here confuses me and, in any case, I would disagree with the (equivalent) definitions you have offered. What is the 'systematic removal of the points on the left hand side'? Is it people starving to death? Skills becoming less valuable? Increases in minimum wage? I would argue the first isn't natural selection because it's about entities not traits, the second isn't because it's not about heritable traits and the third isn't because it doesn't appear to be related to natural selection at all.

Surely winning and losing, economically, are easy to define. One is winning either if one's relative standard of living is increasing or, if it remains the same in relation to others, one's absolute standard of living is improving (even if one remains on the left hand side). It is perfectly possible, relatively speaking, for only a minority of the population to be winning, as there's no guarantee the distribution will remain the same shape.

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China's TCL strokes Android with its 17.3" fondleslab WHOPPER

John H Woods
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Re: "We call it a big tablet.”

I rather like the sound of "biglet"

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Feeling sweary? Don't tell Google Docs

John H Woods
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Re: heh...

PS Home, when it first came out, had people coming up to you and saying ****O! because the HELL had been blipped. Also, 1 Billion people weren't allowed to refer to their own nationality because INDIAN is only ever an unacceptable word for Native American.

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Almost all dot-science malicious, dot-cricket rigged, researchers find

John H Woods
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"I'd like a magic tool to auto-block all domains outside of the traditional .com, .net,. .co.uk, .org.au, .gov.nz, and so on." - Tannin

No magic required, dnsmasq will do what you want.

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John H Woods
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Re: Don't rely on this so called "report"

"On top of this .science isn't even in available to the general public! (yet)" -- TheOtherMatt

I think it is - I registered one just to get an email address @itsnotexactlyrocket.science. I'm not flinging any malware (or anything at all) from the address though.

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Xiaomi aims to knock Apple off its branch with move into computers

John H Woods
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baited with what?

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ICO probes NHS clinic's data blunder that exposed HIV+ status of 800 patients

John H Woods
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Simple solution

It is very unlikely more than 10 people need to be in either the TO or even the CC field of an email. Why there are still not safeguards in email clients in 2015, I just have no idea.

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OH DEAR, WHSmith: Sensitive customer data spaffed to world+dog

John H Woods
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"It is a bug not a data breach." The first part of the sentence is true, the second part is an outright falsehood. I do not understand how organisations are allowed to get away with making such statements.

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Another chance to win a 6TB Western Digital Black hard drive

John H Woods
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"Stop calling me SOME PIG"

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Back to school: Six of the smartest cheap 'n' cheerful laptops

John H Woods
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Re: Don't forget second hand options.

+1 for old ThinkPad T4xxs. You can even add an eGPU to get an Alienware-thrashing gaming performance when plugged in back at the dorm, and a reasonable 24" dorm monitor / TV is a very cheap addition too. Away from the dorm you get robustness, easy repair as you mentioned, and a boring looking laptop that will be near the bottom of the pile in attractiveness to thieves.

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Drum roll, please .... Results are in for the collective noun for security vulns

John H Woods
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Re: Wait, more than one collective noun?

"A set cannot be a member of itself" -- DavCrav

(Apologies to Bertrand Russell and the very large set [or class] of people whose maths is better than mine if I've got this wrong but I think that ...)

... this is equivalent to saying that "the set of all sets that don't contain themselves" is the same as "the set of all sets" But clearly, because the set of all sets does contain itself, your statement is self contradictory.

In practice I seem to recall it is undecidable - you either say you are working within a system where sets can contain themselves (ZFC) where the ZF refers to Zermelo and Fraenkel and the C stands for 'Choice' (as in the Axiom of), or you say that you aren't.

Bonus AofC joke:

Q) What's yellow and equivalent to the Axiom of Choice?

A) Zorn's lemon.

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The Raspberry Pi is succeeding in ways its makers almost imagined

John H Woods
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"unusable to people who are red-green colorblind" -- Michael Wojcik

Did you mean red/yellow/blue button? That's hardly unusable to the colourblind once you know which button is which finger. Unlike the (still) unusable pastel shades that are the defaults for much of Excel graphs and Powerpoint templates.

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John H Woods
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A Smalltalker who cannot easily write in any other OO language (OK, they might tut and sigh a bit) doesn't really know Smalltalk. There's almost no language in Smalltalk (three reserved words) and almost no syntax --- it's virtually all paradigm.

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John H Woods
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"Scratch is an introductory concept kind of thing" -- werdsmith

Under the hood it's Smalltalk; an, or rather the, OO language that puts almost everything that came afterwards to shame.

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Google robo-car suffers brain freeze after seeing hipster cyclist

John H Woods
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"They often refer to nearside and farside though to designate a side of the car"

ITYM nearside and OFFside, And we use the left in the UK for the same reason we mount our horses from the left, it keeps one's sword / lance arm free when mounting and available to engage oncoming traffic when riding!

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John H Woods
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Re: It does seem somewhat ridiculous to have one's feet fixed to the pedals...

"It does seem somewhat ridiculous to have one's feet fixed to the pedals...if riding in city traffic." -- Fraggle850

... Or, indeed, in the country. Slowing for dog on a transverse vector, I wobbled into an electric fence and lay there with my feet fixed to the peddles getting a blast of twitching every two seconds as the fence continued to operate normally. My wife and sister in law almost injured themselves laughing.

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French woman gets €800 a month for electromagnetic-field 'disability'

John H Woods
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Re: KU the pedants

"I can't see what the role of the pedants is." -- KC

It's a pun: Ku band; cue the pedants (as in "cue the music") where Ku and Cue have similar pronunciation.

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The most tragic thing about the Ashley Madison hack? It was really 1% actual women

John H Woods
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Re: Why the percentage shock?

"while women are programmed to choose a dependable partner who sticks around." -- Archivist

Speaking as an erstwhile geneticist, that's not strictly true. There's a considerable advantage to women to play it both ways, and significant evidence that they do. The optimum mating strategy for a women is to become impregnated by an extremely attractive (and likely promiscuous) male and then have her family provided for by some dependable saddo with material resources who is unlikely to cheat.

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Does Linux need a new file system? Ex-Google engineer thinks so

John H Woods
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Re: Sure, why not.

"But what if she's _really_ annoying?" --AC

Or FAT?

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Shingled drives get SpectraLogic archive down to 9 cents/GB

John H Woods
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"

" ... it's likely out of the range of most people reading this ..." -- Lee D

Quite possibly, but unlikely to be out of the range of all of the clients that many of us are advising ;-)

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PINs easily pinched with iPhone-attached thermal imaging kit

John H Woods
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Surely the solution is ...

... IR illumination of keypad? Maybe slightly warming the whole pad would do it?

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Geeks on quest for world's most pointless YouTube video

John H Woods
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Re: Ridiculing and bullying

"I do not believe anyone should be publicly criticising and ridiculing what others do, no matter how pointless or inane they find it themselves. The worst of it is that they are going out of their way to find stuff they don't find worthy and encouraging others to do the same." -- Jason Bloomberg

+1 Satire <> Mockery. I have had to have words with muscular poseurs in the gym for taking the piss out of my fellow fatties. As far as I'm concerned, if you've got the bandwidth for this nastiness you aren't working hard enough.

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Computer Science GCSE male dominated, but geekettes are ready to rise

John H Woods
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Re: Sexist, but joking = Sacked

I didn't support him being "sacked" because it's not how academia should work: the #distractinglysexy response from female scientists was much better.

Nevertheless: there's a bit of a difference between being apparently serious and being obviously ironic; there's a bit of a difference between being a satirical news source and being a brand ambassador for an institution; and there's a bit of a difference between being fired from a job with teaching time, lab-time and a salary and being asked to resign such a non-salaried brand-ambassador role when you've put your foot in it big-time and embarrassed your brand.

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