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* Posts by John D Salt

26 posts • joined 13 Dec 2007

Slime mould mashup models fiendish computing problem

John D Salt

Old farts might perhaps remember...

Gordon Pask's "fungal computing" from the 1950s.

All the best,

John.

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Hold on! Degrees for all doesn't mean great jobs for all, say profs

John D Salt

What utter, utter tosh

Perhaps if people could get it into their heads that honours degrees are not intended as a method of employment training, we would have fewer dimbulbs fulminating on a topic they clearly haven't understood the elements of. Education is a good thing in itself, and even the dimmest utilitarian can hardly be excused from understanding the point.

If you believe that the main reason for taking an honours degree course is for paid employment, an MBA is probably as near a thing to education as your shrivelled little soul will ever require.

All the best,

John.

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El Reg contemplates the ultimate cuppa

John D Salt

Lapsang Souchong, dammit

Neil Barnes is correct. Lapsang Souchong is my normal brew, made in a proper Brown Betty. I am also fond of the occasional Earl Grey or Oolong, but Lapsang Souchong is the ideal coding fluid.

Even when slumming it with Twining's English Breakfast or PG Tips, on no account should the decoction be adulterated by foul additives such as refined sucrose or mammary fluids. That stuff has been in cows, I tell you! COWS!

All the best,

John.

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Reg man the most-flamed recruiter in the UK?

John D Salt

Yawn!

What a lot of knicker-wetting fuss about nothing.

I vaguely recall being mildly irritated by something Dominic wrote on some previous occasion, but I cannot recall what, and he is clearly not a tithe as bad as 99% of the gormless oxygen bandits who make up the recruitment industry. He can spell, he can make a point, he has a sense of humour.

The only response I would wish to make to his original article is the one point that applies to me -- I don't put a mobile phone number on my CV because, as you correctly surmise, I don't have a mobile phone.

All the best,

John.

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Britain's Harrier jump-jets reprieved to fly and fight again

John D Salt

> Ferry range is rather useless for actually fighting.

But there is no “inaccuracy” in the figures I quoted. You do know that your moving the goalposts doesn't indicate any innaccuracy on my part, don't you?

> There combat range matters. Combat range of Harrier < 300 nmi, less if operating from > rough strips or a carrier. Combat range of Typhoon and Tornado around 900 nmi.

I'd like to know your sources for those figures – even though combat radiius is an infinitely-fungible figure, depending on profile and payload, I doubt that Typhoon can go better than three times as far as Harrier.

Besides, the point I was trying to make, which I think is obvious to most people, but you seem peculiarly determined not to understand, is that Harriers can typically be based closer to the target than types dependent on long, flat runways.

And, as you have already pointed out yourself, there's always IFR – although for some reason you didn't seem to think this applied to Harriers.

> Harrier can operate from anywhere. You can't get its fuel, munitions and spares in anywhere.

The proviso about getting the other stuff there applies as much, if not more, to the other types, though.So as well as failing to show any “inaccuracy” in my part, you still have not shown how Harrier is less flexible than other types.

> Last time I worked with the Harriers their fragile engines were lasting about 10 flying hours

If you were only getting ten hours before replacing them, either it was a very, very long time ago, or Pegasus has got worse since I last processed bunches of dodgy work-ticket data from Swanton Morley.

> Logistics rule modern warfare. You can have the most flexible airframe in the world but it is

> useless without bombs and fuel. The British military has dreadful logistics capabilities

No surprise, Sherlock. And this tells us what? That we need to invest in better logistics, definitively drop the idiocy of “just-in-time logistics”, or that we need to scrap our most capable CAS aircraft? For some reason I cannot see the shiny (relatively) new Typhoon getting fantastically better availability rates than Harrier.

>> how much did it cost the Typhoon force to > deliver a slack handful of Storm Shadows?

> A damn site less than a carrier task force would cost.

Do you work for BAE? The Storm Shadow strikes against Libya were an embarrassing piece of operationally pointless showboating for BAE products, and at least a carrier task force has some uses beyond advertising.

>> ...apart from setting records for them in 1982, obviously.

Very funny,

Your amusement makes it no less of a fact, though, and still doesn't indicate any “inaccuracy” on my part. You do remember that you were going to pick up some of my “more egregious” inaccuracies, don;t you? Feel free to start any time you like.

> Harriers in Italy can't even reach its target.

Yes, that's why you fly them off a carrier. Can you remember that we discussed carriers before? You know, those things you can't fly a Tornado from, which according to your line of thinking apparently makes the Tornado “more flexible”?

According to a House of Lords answer I'm too lazy to Google for again, Harrioer flying hours cost slightly more than Tornado, but Typhoon costs about twice as much. Not to mention the fact that your favoured approach of absurdly long-range flights means many more hours per sortie.

> And with a 300 nmi combat range what were we supposed to do from Italy - eat ice cream?

OK, I see you still haven't mastered the concept of having aircraft carriers, dare I mention IFR again?

>You do understand the big issue with Harriers is that if you are doing VTOL landing you can't

> carry a full combat load.

If you're doing VTOL landing. So this limitation only applies in cases where other aircraft, which cannot do VTOL landing, cannot operate. See how your claim that other types are “more flexible” than Harrier continues to be utterly starved of any shred of evidence?

And I'd still like an explanation of your, yes, egregious claim that flying things back from a forward deployment is more difficult than flying them in any other direction.

> These are real issues that if you read any of the analysis that went into dumping Harrier you

> might understand.

If this “analysis” shows the kind of faulty reasoning, disregard of facts and utter lack of critical thinkling that you have demonstrated in this thread, it's probably just as well for my blood pressure that I haven't seen it. I am all too familiar with the dismal quality of much defence decision-making – not that there aren't still some pretty good analysys left, but the decision-makers always contrive to ignore them and listen instead to the shiny-bottomed apparatchiki who know what the boss wants to hear. It is hardly a secret that on grounds of operational effectiveness the project that should have been cancelled was Typhoon, a massively late and overpriced white elephant even by the piss-poor standards of British defence procurement. Politically, of course, that would have been an impossibly “courageous” decision, for it would have made it embarrassingly clear that there is very little justification for keeping the RAF as a separate service. Consequently, Lord Wossname has to come up with spurious reasons for keeping on the GR4 instead of the Harrier, like having a larger fleet (how many squadrons are you ever going to operate at one?), and being able to operate other pointless but shiny BAE weapons like Storm Shadow and Brimstone. Think of the fun BAE must have had looking at which constituencies to threaten massive redundancies if they didn't get paid for all the shinies.

I think I trust the USMC analysis rather more.

>> We ought to invest in our loggy capabilties too, then.

> With whose money? We can't afford the stuff we had - that's why we retired a fleet of aircraft.

Yeah – the wrong fleet.

Personally I'd be happy to take money from lots of sources to fund defence adequately, starting with but not limited to the “performance” bonuses of badly-perfroming bankers. It might also be a good idea to stop pissing taxpayers' money away on PFI boondoggles with bandits like Serco. Don't try to pretend there isn't plenty of money – we're a rich country, and we very comfortably afforded a much greater level of defence expenditure when we were less rich than we are now.

> We didn't get Harrier to Afghanistan until 2006 because of security issues.

Again, I remind you of your promise to point out inaccuracies on my part. Harrier not only went to Afghanistan and flew from land bases, it did so years before Tornado did. This does not make the Harrier “less flexible”, does it?

>>> Forward operating bases for Harriers can be thrown together in many places, but availability

>>> of the Harriers drops considerably when operating from a rough field site.

>> And for all other RAF types, it drops to nil. It's not the Harrier that's inflexible.

> Please cite your evidence. My many years as an RAF Engineering Office state that your

> argument is made up.

OK, tell me when you operated Tornados from a rough field. That's a *rough* field.

> Ok, who has a navy that we are going to fight?

Most countries with coastlines have a navy of some kind. But even if we could somehow arrange to fight only navy-free opponents, what on earth makes you think that carrier air cannot be used against land targets?

> Every battle we have fought since the Falklands has been on land.

And, as we're an island, every expeditionary force we send has to cross the sea. So what's your point?

>> high sortie rate are a better bet than long-range strikes with heavy loads, as, again,

>> the Falklands showed with striking clarity.

> Which matters during warfighting. Like we did in Iraq and Afghanistan.

With Harriers doing their but in both places – in Aghanistan, for a couple of years before the other types pitched up to join in. So in terms of putting steel on the target, I'm failing to see how you have demonstrated any material inferiority on the part of Harrier.

>> Traditionally it has been the RN that preferred 2-seat (and 2-engine) aircraft.

> That was true in the past. In recent years we discovered that 2 seaters give the crew much better situational awareness.

How many seats in a Typhoon? Count carefully, let me know when you're finished. And then don't forget that you still have to find an “inaccuracy” to point out.

> Tornado is long for this world, at least in the ground attack role.

> [Snips] We are expected to keep them in service until 2025.

Really? Source, please. A House of Lords debate just after the SDSR seems to indicate 2021 as the out-of-service date, and the fleet will be run down over that time.

> You let on your horrible lack of knowledge when you claim that the only thing they score

> heavily over Harrier on is air defence. The Tornado F3 was always a weak air defence

> airframe. It became marginally better with things like JTIDS, but it is still weak. With

> equivalent missiles fitted, I would take a Harrier over an F3 any day of the week.

Really? Personally, I reckon the F3 was probably the best thing going for the specific task of bogging around somwhere north of Saxa Vord chivvying Bears out of our airspace. Still, I would love you to explain how you imagine a Harrier is going to fulfil the AD role without having a radar.

> The Ground Attack variant though has been used in every war we have fought after the

> Falklands.

In a similar spirit, I would like you to list the Tornado squadrons that operated in Sierra Leone.

Oh, and if you could let me know about those “inaccuracies” you claimed you were going to correct...

All the best,

John.

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John D Salt

AC wrote:

> He keeps making his point about the flexibility of the Harriers being lost, but it isn't really valid > in my view.

Your view, on the evidence presented, appears not to be based on accurate observation of evidence from the external world.

> The Harrier has a very short range.

AV-8B ferry range 1800 n.mi., Typhoon ferry range 2100 n. mi., so there's not a lot in it. At the time of the Falklands war, I believe some of the Harrier ferry flights were record-breakers.

> Unless you have a forward operating base very close to operations, or a carrier off the coast

> they are kind of useless.

You are to be congratulated on your perspicuity. You might also care to observe that the Harrier is able to operate from a wider aviety of bases than any other fixed-wing jet. All other fast movers require a long, flat, vulnerable strip before they can operate from a land base. All aircraft needs bases; Harrier demands less than any other type. To say that this shows a lack of flexibility in the Harrier is a fine display of barking moonbat logic.

> When we got shut of the beasts we only had a couple of through-deck cruisers to fly them off.

They became carriers when Kieth Speed was Navy minister, don't you remember?

> So in response to any worldwide issue we potentially have months to wait getting the carriers > in position. Look how long the task force took to get down to the Falkland's for example.

Still quicker than the RAF managed without Grey Funnel Lines' assistance, wasn't it? The only other RAF type that contributed attack sorties in the Falklands was one of which three examples had already been sold to museums -- and if the tanker support available had been used to support Harrier ferry flights instead, there would have been another eight Harriers available with the embarked air groups.

> With only 2 carriers there is a good chance one isn't ready for sea at a given point in time,

Yup. Real navies need more than 2 carriers.

> if Libya kicked off and your carrier was in an exercise in the Pacific, the Americans could have

> finished the whole affair before you got your carrier in position.

Remind me, how long did the Libya affair last? And how much did it cost the Typhoon force to deliver a slack handful of Storm Shadows?

> The Harriers don't do long transits very well,

...apart from setting records for them in 1982, obviously.

It's pilots that don't do long transits very well -- and the same appies for long-range combat flights. Much better to park the force as close as possible to the target and fly the hell out of them. Look at the astonishing sortie rate the Harrier force managed in the Falklands.

> so even assuming you have a nice forward operating base (which we didn't in Libya)

What, Italy's not a nice forward operating base? I'm sure the hitels the RAF crews stayed in were jolly nice.

> you probably can't fly them back from a forward deployment easily.

Why on earth not? Is the air resistance greater flying back than going out? You are just inventing fatuous fake complications to support your silly and unsupportable opinion, aren't you?

> We don't really have the logistic capability to support a long term naval deployment either.

We ought to invest in our loggy capabilties too, then.

> Just think if we had tried to use Harrier from baby carriers in Afghanistan.

Why would we have done that? It's a silly suggestion. The sensible thing, and what we actually did, was to operate Harrier from land bases. And a study on the order of merit for CAS operations in Afghanistan showed that it was Harrier first, Tornado second, Typhoon third. When the RAF goes to an all-Typhoon fleet, it will have chosen the worst of the possible types to fight the one war we are actually fighting. It would make a fine episode of "Yes, Prime Minster".

> Forward operating bases for Harriers can be thrown together in many places, but availability > of the Harriers drops considerably when operating from a rough field site.

And for all other RAF types, it drops to nil. It's not the Harrier that's inflexible.

> The Tornado might be out of date, but with tanker support you can put it anywhere in the

> world.

No you can't. You can't put it at sea, so most of the world's surface is out straight away; and even on the dry bits, it requires long stretches of flat concrete from which to fly. That is a very restricted sort of "anywhere".

> Same with the Typhoon.

Yes, same with the Typhoon , although we might one day see it turned into the jet age equivalent of the Seafire and pranging itself in deck landings.

> It can carry substantially more ordnance as well.

Which matters why? The current emphasis on PGMs means you are seldom going to need more than a single JDAM. And if weight of ordnance matters, forward basing and a high sortie rate are a better bet than long-range strikes with heavy loads, as, again, the Falklands showed with striking clarity.

> Also, for good reason, the RAF prefers 2 seat aircraft.

Traditionally it has been the RN that preferred 2-seat (and 2-engine) aircraft. Harrier isn't a naval aircraft in origin, remember, it first saw service in the RAF -- as did the Hunter, Lightning, Jaguar, and Typhoon, all single-seat types, which suggests that you don;t have that much of a clue what the RAF prefers. Maybe of the RAF hadn't wanted a single-seater for the P.1154 specification, it wouldn't have been cancelled.

> The reality is, against Lewis' viewpoint, the Tornado/Typhoon package provides the UK

>military with far more flexibility than something built around Harrier.

Utter, utter tosh. Tornado is not long for this world in any case, but the only thing they can do where they score heavily over Harrier is air defence. A brief study of the UK's air-to-air actions since 1945 will show how frequently that capability is needed, whereas CAS is needed for the war we are fighting now.

You did know there was a war on, did you?

Mind, the USMC operate very well with British forces. I have every expectation that before long we will discoer that USMC Harriers have been flying CAS in support of British troops on the ground when the RAF types in theatre were incapable of doing so.

All the best,

John.

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Apple was OK to fire man for private Facebook comments

John D Salt

A brilliant success for Apple

It's a brilliant success for whichever authoritarian faulty-reasoner at Apple decided to bring the case. Now, instead of Apple's image taking a couple of very minor hits in a restricted circle, the company has been revealed before the world to be (at least in part) controlled by tiny-minded bully-boys who think they are entitled to exercise Orwellian degrees of mind control over what their employees do or say in their own private time. Whatever damage the dismissed employee may have doen their image, the clowns who fired him have done thousands of times more.

Remember, "just because you're into control, doesn't mean you are in control".

All the best,

John.

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Dennis Ritchie: The C man who booted Unix

John D Salt

RIP a great man

I studied at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne with Dennis' sister, Lynne. The family connection meant that we got Dennis to come and give us a talk on mechanisms of inter-process communication in Plan 9. So the department booked a medium isized room, and it was too small, there were too few chairs, and people were leaning in from the corridors in order to hear Dennis put forward his ideas, which he did brilliantly -- full of humour, and clear enough for anyone to understand, the mark of a man who had totally mastered his subject.

I treasure a brief e-mail exchange I had with him, when I asked if the word "grep" owed anything to the Manx Gaelic word for a fish-hook, which it seemed to me would be appropriate. Sadly, it turns out not. But the great man was not too grand to answer a random question from an unknown postgrad.

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Should your system offer Mr, Ms ... and Mx?

John D Salt

Several people have pointed it out already, and I suspect that no amount of thrashing with the clue stick will get it into some people's heads, but "gender" is a grammatical concept, not applicable to people and not a synonym for sexual identity.

I observe, however, that the abbreviation "Mx" was historically used to designate the Middlesex Regiment. Of course, that was before they were amalgamated into the Queen's.

All the best,

John.

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Schoolkids learn coding at GCSE level in curriculum trial

John D Salt

I went to a very old-fashioned grammar school in the 1970s -- everyone did Latin for the first two years, and Ancient Greek was offered at O level.

Everyone did SMP maths, and the SMP maths curriculum at the time included a chapter on programming -- strictly as a paper exercise, for this was before the days of Acorns and Superbrains and Spectra. In the O level year, 1976 for me, everyone did a General Studies certificate which included a class on computer programming, done in Algol-60 (with the stropped punctuation) on coding forms. The nice people at CIBA-Geigy then let the school borrow some of their mainframe time, and our programs were punched on to card-decks, returned to us for dry checking, and, if they seemed OK, eventually run. I still have the card deck for my first executed program lying around somewhere.

Everyone had to do this -- even the people doing Latin and Greek, who usually went on to be barristers.

Myself, I date the Great Competence Evaporation to about 1984, but people who can remember times before then will also recall that happy time when this country could quietly do a few useful things without making a howling pig's breakfast of them.

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MAD Students Union bars 'racist' ZOMBIE PHYSICISTS

John D Salt

Explained at last!

I always wondered what the exact mechanism was whereby alien races in things like Star Trek "evolved into beings of pure energy".

It is good to have an explanation after all these years. Presumably the Students' Union at Organian University was once as daft as the one at Sheffield.

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Cameron cocks up UK's defences - and betrays Afghan troops

John D Salt

I give Lewis 7/10 and the commentards 3/10...

As usual, Lewis is pretty much on the money, and expresses himself with clarity and force.

I think his background as a bubblehead has left him a bit confused by a couple of things about Percy and the skimmers, though (and I think "Percy and the Skimmers" would be quite a good band name).

First, the tank (as in main battle tank) is no more obsolete now than it was the last half-dozen times it obsoletion has been announced by the uninformed. Three regiments (not battalions, thank you, the Royal Tank Regiment went to cavalry nomenclature before the end of WW2) is pretty much the bare minimum needed to retain any kind of capability at all, on the "underpants principle" of force generation (three is the minimum, so you can have one pair clean, one on, and one in the wash).

Second, I agree that the RN needs platforms capable of operating both ASW helos and long-range missiles; but to me that sounds like a pretty good description of a frigate. You also need ship-borne ASW sensors and weapons, unless you are crazy enough to think that the embarked helos can run flight ops all day, every day, for weeks on end. And you still need a gun for junk-bashing.

As usual the comments include a generous dollop of the customary farrago of phantasmagorical drivelling from clueless buffoons flapping their gums on a subject they know nothing about. It is hard to pick out favourite pieces of idiocy from this, as some of these people are obviously crazy on acid, but at the saner end of things on the "my aeroplane is better than your aeroplane" squabble, let me just say that I've seen study results ranking the usefulness of fast jet types for CAS -- in other words, the role needed now for the war we are fighting now -- and it ranked Harrier above Tornado above Typhoon. So whatever basis these mysterious "advisors" may have come to their decison on, factual evidence clearly did not feature very largely.

As for the idea that the first Gulf War we were invited to was won largely by deep interdiction -- the idea is so very badly at variance with the facts that even the shade of Guilio Douhet himself would be ashamed to utter such fatuous claptrap. The war was won by ground forces seizing and holding ground and forcing the enemy to surrender, the same way all land wars are won (OK, the bombardment of Zanzibar might possibly count as an exception).

I haven't seen any comment on where FAS next steps is taking the Army's organization, but the idea of having a small number of notionally identical over-large but oddly-mixed brigades has never seemed to me to be a good one. Nor have I seen any recommended change to the defence planning assumptions, but we are getting to the point where deploying a two-brigade force against a capable enemy will be more than the UK can manage.

Still, let's hope there's not another war for at least ten years, eh?

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Note to employers: Better sex = happier workers

John D Salt

Here come the Sex Police

In my experience, an alarming number of managers rely on stress as an instrument of control over their minions.

If over the next few months I see a management initiative that looks like the Sex Police, I shall blame you.

All the best,

John.

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MoD to test 'Combat ID Server' from September

John D Salt

Half a cheer, maybe...

Given the astonishing degree of supine inactivity (even by MoD standards) over the last twenty years in addressing the fratricide problem, I suppose we must raise half a cheer for the news that someone is trying to do something about it. However, one is less enthusiastic when one observes that the meaning of the term "Combat ID" -- which one might naturally assume to mean a system such as an IFF interrogator/transponder -- is being cunningly stretched to include the mere transmission of position reporting data (which is usually titivated up to sound more impressive by calling it "situational awareness", which it isn't, SA is something that happens in people's heads).

It seems tolerably obvious that this isn't going to work well enough to eliminate fratricide, and I strongly doubt that it will achieve any worthwhile reduction. Points about the frequency of updates and relaibility of the kit have already been made, and we know from historical analysis that Reason's "Swiss cheese" model of accidents applies very well to fratricide -- incidents occur when a series of low-probability conditions apply all at once, like holes lining up in separate laters of Swiss cheese. Keeping all this data in centralised databases won't help, either -- the answer to the challenge "Who goes there?" should not be "Please check with central records". The whole thing smacks of mindless technolatry, and using a technical fix to address a human problem -- it doesn't matter what the question is, the answer is always a database.

More unfortuately still, it seems that the motivation for this (poorly conceived, badly delayed) work is not to protect the lives of troops at all, but to improve "overall operational effectiveness" by allowing Captain Mudmover (or Sergeant UAVman) to drop ordnance more freely about the place without going through all those dreadful deconfliction procedures. It may indeed prove to be a great operational benefit to allow us to bomb Afghan wedding parties closer to our own FLOT, but I beg leave to doubt it. And the psychological principle of compensating reductions almost certainly means that idiot technophiles will lean on the technology in preference to doing their own thinking, and friendlies will continue to get blatted because they didn't show up as an icon on the blue picture screen.

Just so long as the defence research establishment remains content to conduct almost no fundamental research on the underlying causes of fratricide, the counsel of despair "it's always happened and it always will" will remain true. It's not that we couldn't do anything about it; it's just that MoD, as a matter of policy, has chosen for a couple of decades not to.

All the best,

John.

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Microsoft's R&D chief: the people problem with innovation

John D Salt

@ John Smith

""Ken Ritchie" is a Freudian slip. That should have been Ken Thompson."

Don't worry, I didn't spot it. After all, who bothers with surnames for Ken, Brian and Dennis?

All the best,

John.

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John D Salt

@John Smith

"So the answer is no."

Quite sure? Final answer?

I am not sure what year any of the various OSsen that go under the name of "Windows" introduced dynamic libraries, nor when the relevant POSIX standard was defined, but I'm pretty dam' sure that Sun Unix at least had the beasties in, ooh, lessee, 1989.

Now I've stirred the memory pot, I wish I could remember if you could use external .atr files in Simula on any Unix. I only played with them on VMS, unfortunately.

Good to know some people remember Multics; I tend to doubt that many microsofties were ever Multics refugees, though. Remember that Win 3.1 still hadn't quite managed the leap to multi-programming, as Bill thought it unnecessary on a PC, hence the dreadful nonsense of TSRs.

Good to see OS/2 remembered, too. I can remember a time when the fastest and safest way to run Windows applications was to run them under OS/2 Warp.

But, as ever, the Microsoft fanboys try to re-write history -- possibly because they are simply ignorant of it in the first place.

All the best,

John.

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John D Salt

@ Don Mitchell

So, let's be clear about this:

1. You're saying that no Unix had dynamic libraries before Windows?

2. You're saying that no Unix had device drivers before Windows?

3. You're saying that no Unix had object interfaces before Windows?

Perhaps I have misunderstood you, in some strange way, but at the moment your grasp of "what goes on under the hood" (or "bonnet", as we say in English) seems to be roughly on a par with the staggering percipience of Mr Rashid, who managed to remain unaware of the existence of mobile phones years after they were invented (and quite possibly after I;d made my first call on one).

John.

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Royal Navy completes Windows for Submarines™ rollout

John D Salt

@ GrahamT

> Shouldn't it be Portholes for Warships?

No, no. Scuttles.

Carry on.

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DARPA wargamer calls for US X-Men superplane fleet

John D Salt

Zeppelins, that's the answer...

I think they should insert Special Forces by abseiling from Zeppelins at stratospheric altitude. Of course this will need very, very long SpectraLine rope.

Fit a winch and strop to the Zep, and presto, SpecForStropZep gives you a method of extraction, too.

As always with Zeppelin-based weaponrah (elevated sensor Zeppelins, electronic warfare Zeppelins, communications pseudolite Zeppelins), the vasty flanks of the dirigible can be used to sell advertising space, thus defraying some of the costs of wars we can't afford.

All the best,

John.

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Retailers risk libel nightmare over 'no-work' database

John D Salt

@Phil

"Our defamation/libel laws are very litigant friendly in the UK; the burden of proof lies with the defendant in a trial, which is why every tom dick and harry sues for libel in the UK as opposed to anywhere else."

No, this is quite wrong. The burden of proof is the same in defamation as it is for almost anything else, with the plaintiff (or whatever they're called now). The only thing that need not be proven is whether an accusation that could unjustly damage your reputation in the eyes of a reasonable person did, in fact, cause damage. You still need to prove that the words were uttered by the accused, communicated to a third party, would harm your reputation, are untrue, and are not protected by privilege.

Nor is it true that every Tom, Dick or Harry sues for libel; it may need substantial funds to consider doing so, and no legal aid is available. So I can't see many destitute out-of-work shopgirls trying it, unless they can find a "no win, no fee" deal. It is the "no win, no fee" arrangements that cause excessive litigation, not the state of the law, which IMHO is on the whole pretty sound (although there's a strange paradox about vicarious liability that I think needs sorting out).

I amn't a lawyer, but I have had reason to take legal advice on defamation a couple of times, once when I called a bunch of dodgy insurance sales people "sharks", and once when my line manager told lies about me in my annual appraisal.

All the best,

John.

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John D Salt

This is what the heck the government have to do with this

Do pay attention.

The National Staff Dismissal Register (NSDR) is a project initiated by Action Against Business Crime (AABC). AABC is a partnership between the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and the Home Office.

Saying that it is "not a government scheme" is, therefore, wildly inaccurate; it is that ever-popular form of fashionable nonsense, a public-private partnership.

"Pre-empting" a business because it will be illegal is not a "slippery slope", it is part of every good citizen's duty to prevent the commission of crime (something one might assume the AABC were in favour of).

If people were a bit more eager to "pre-empt" this kind of authoritarian nonsense, we might see rather less of it. Sadly the country now seems to be populated largely by spineless lickspittles who do not dare confront corporate thuggery. It seems that the principal safeguard of our ancient liberties is now the stumblebum incompetence of IT implementation in large projects.

All the best,

John.

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John D Salt

Make your opinions known

Gentle readers may perhaps wish to discuss these matters in more depth with two of the gentlemen principally responsible for this database. Their contact details, according to a recent press release, are:

Mike Schuck (Chief Executive)

Action Against Business Crime

Second Floor,

21 Dartmouth Street

London, SW1H 9BP

T: 020 7854 8956

e-mail: Michael.schuck@businesscrime.org.uk

Web: www.businesscrime.org.uk

William Price (Director)

Hicom Business Solutions

Red House

Brookwood

Surrey, GU24 0BL

T: 01483 794850

e-mail: william.price@hicom.co.uk

Web: www.hicom.co.uk/businesssolutions

Personally I should be interested in a list of the companies participating in the scheme. They surely wouldn't wish to conceal their participation, would they?

All the best,

John.

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'Extreme porn' law could criminalise millions

John D Salt

How to fix this

ISTM that there is a straightforward scheme that should sort this out nicely.

First, we identify which sanctimonious authoritarian faulty reasoners in the Commons and the Lords were daft enough to vote for this harmfully stupid legislation.

Then, we e-mail them all with attachments containing images prohibited by the proposed legislation -- those dinosaurs without e-mail we post USB sticks containing same.

The instant the legislation passes, we bring prosecutions under the new act against every single one of the venomous gobshites who voted for it.

All it needs is a bit of organization and a massive fighting fund for legal fees.

All the best,

John.

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BOFH: Beancounter bashing

John D Salt

What's right with Slough?

Oooh, ooh, please sir, I know the answer to this one!

When I spent a one-week course in Slough given by the vendors of a market-leading stochastic discrete-event simulation product for telecomms whose name I shall forbear to mention, I had the opportunity, unmatched in my experience, of taking lunch in a pub wherein stood a life-sized figurine of a man made ENTIRELY OF SPOONS.

I doubt anyone could say the same of any other town in the kingdom.

All the best,

John.

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Paris Hilton cavorts naked in middle of desert

John D Salt

Does it work for men?

Yer man A. Coward says:

>i dont think in the UK you can advertise alcohol beverages if they give the

> impression that they can make you more attractive to the opposite sex, so if her

> boobs are enhanced, does that mean drinking this gives you bigger boobs ?

> Does it also work for men?

Yes, it does -- one of well-known effects of prolonged concumption of alcohol is to give men bigger boobs.

HTH, HAND,

John.

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