* Posts by Herby

1995 posts • joined 14 Dec 2007

Self-driving CARS? BORING. We want self driving, LIZARD dodging GOLF CARTS

Herby
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GAU-8 and a Golf Course??

Now that would be an interesting sport. Almost good enough for TV.

Of course, the talk of making self driving golf cards begs the question: Why not just put in a set of rails on the path, and then have a railed golf cart to zoom around. Probably less costly.

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Bloke clicks GitHub 'commit' button in Visual Studio, gets slapped with $6,500 AWS bill

Herby
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Re: as we push the big, red "Publish" button on this story

Picture? How about this...

http://www.thinkgeek.com/product/15a5/?pfm=Search&t=big%20red%20button

Sounds like it fits the bill. Sorry it isn't official Reg material.

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Canned laughter for Canadians selling cans of air at $15 a pop

Herby
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Selling oxygen...

I was told by a first hand witness that you can in fact buy oxygen when the high Andes train in Peru stops at 20,000 feet or so. The guy noted that if you didn't have the oxygen supplied, you would faint away if you stood up and walked around.

As for canned air, and selling it, I wish our neighbors to the north a great deal of success. The idea seems similar to Pet Rocks, and they made their inventors a good piece of change.

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US trade watchdog deep-sixes patent infringement claim against Microsoft

Herby
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Interesting comment..

"charging too much, tying in useless patents to essential ones, not actually making any products and discriminating"

And Microsoft says this? I thought that is what Microsoft did all the time.

Pot, Kettle, Black...

p.s. I kinda agree with the sentiment about lawyers, but I digress.

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Ex-HP top aide in the clink for racking up $1m on company credit cards

Herby
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Remember that the "secretary" holds all the power.

Ask "general secretary" Josef Stalin on how he got to be big cheese in Moscow. When you control the communications around you, you can control lots of things.

Maybe she was hoping to be a higher up after her boss quit or some such.

Re-paying at $3000/month (if that is actually done) may be in fact a cheap loan. The couple of years in the slammer is just the cost of doing business.

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Spanking Spam King: Sanford Wallace faces jail for Facebook flood

Herby
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Unfortunately..

This isn't the punishment that most spammers get (if anything). Even though it probably effects us all (who among us HASN'T gotten spam), those in law enforcement and the prosecutors don't believe that it is a "priority". So, most of the spammers get off scott free.

In the mean time spam continues to be "profitable" for those involved. While the spammers send out millions of messages, it only takes a few to make it profitable, so they continue to do it, and we continue to live with it. Life goes on.

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Microsoft sues InterDigital for 'monopoly power' over mobile patents

Herby
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Who to root for?

This is an interesting choice. On one hand you a monopolistic big company that asserts patent positions and on the other hand you have a monopolistic big company that asserts patent positions.

Hum? Who to pick. Can this go against BOTH of them? We can only hope.

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Linux boss Torvalds: Don't talk to me about containers and other buzzwords

Herby
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Remember, Linus does pretty well...

Considering his task to to "heard cats".

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Snowball spud gun shows comets could have seeded Earth with life

Herby
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Joke

Is this where??

We get the expression "a snowballs chance in hell"?

Just asking.

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Mainframe big boy Big Blue tries to drum up new biz via Linux

Herby
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But does it have...

COBOL?

Inquiring minds, etc.

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BOFH: Why, I LOVE work courses. Please tell me more, o wise one!

Herby
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I'm sorry Dave...

...I'm afraid I can't do that.

Somehow this quote seems entirely appropriate here.

Reminds me of the time my boss went to the users group meeting in Hawaii, and offered me some silly component seminar as a consolation prize. I declined. Just a few years later I discovered he had spent some $$$ on something inappropriate which got him the axe. My BOFH career started early.

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Exploding Power Bars: EE couldn't even get the CE safety mark right

Herby
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I thought it stood for

"Cheap Export" (in other words, pick your country of origin).

It probably isn't worth the ink it is printed with anyway.

This reminds me of ISO 9000/1/2/3 stuff as well.

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Typewriters suck. Yet we're infinitely richer for those irritating machines

Herby
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Keypunches?

These LOUD devices were the precursor to most computer keyboards. They had a constant motor running and you learned all the magic on how they worked. I started on a nice 026 model that had vacuum tubes (valves in the other hemisphere) in it. It took a while to warm up. The trick was to know when it was ready to go, as it wouldn't really tell you. If you hit the 'rel' key (release) [as I recall] it would latch and only when everything was hot (about 20 seconds later) would the mechanics cycle. The nice 026 was limited ot a 48 character set, but that was enough. In high school, I had to make a bunch of copies of some history thing, so I hit the keypunch, and when it was all done over I went to the 'listing' machine which would produce a nice printout. My teacher was impressed.

Later I graduated to a nice (solid state) 029 keypunch which would do a 64 character set (all those fancy special characters!). Thankfully it was an instant warm-up device so you could keep it turned off most of the time and not be subject to the drone of the motor (the whine of the power supplies in the computer was enough!).

Commensurate with the 029 was the model 33 teletype which has its nice mechanical keyboard. You got used to waiting for the distributor to cycle to hit the next key, and it was a noisy beast. I have one still and marvel at its mechanics.

Yes, typing is a skill, and electronic keyboards we now use make it easier. Sometimes I wish that today's programmers just try to write a program on a 33 teletype. It it is a typical small (one page) program it will humble you very soon (even if the software has some 'backspace' editing feature.

4900796

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Is this the most puzzling DEF CON attendee badge yet on record?

Herby
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Joke

Of course there is the obvious answer:

42.

Or if you need letters: forty two.

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Intel left a fascinating security flaw in its chips for 16 years – here's how to exploit it

Herby
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Makes me wish for...

Better processors that don't have little secrets hidden in them. I long for the days of a nice processor like the MC68060. Pity they didn't super-scalar it like other processors of the day. Would have been a nice processor to do business with.

That's what I get for programming for over 50 years.

The IBM 1620 was a wonderful machine to program.

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Repeatedly robocalling? That's a paddlin' – a record $3m paddlin'

Herby
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Penalties??

Of course they are handed over to our wonderful government. Those who were robo-called (I got one today) and actually suffered probably won't get a cent.

The FCC gets the $$$ and we peons just get more robo-calls.

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Cause of Parliamentary downtime on Microsoft Office 364½ revealed

Herby
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Welcome to the cloud...

Sorry we run it and it might be down when you really want to use it.

You see, "the cloud" is just an euphemism for "someone elses computer that you have no control over". If I were in charge of Parliament (I'm not the sovereign, sorry) I'd have the servers under direct control. Of course if you are the "queen of america" (or believe you are) you DO have your own server and control all of its actions, which makes it easier to erase "bad things" when you want to.

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If you read anything today about ICANN taking over the internet, make sure it's this

Herby
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Be careful..

...for what you ask for. The internet "works" because it has some de-centralized control. Obviously there are times when some amount of control is necessary to enforce some "rules".

The problem is that LOTS of people have different ideas on which the "rules" should be. Consider this: The protocols used are derived from RFCs which we all know are nicely thought out and agreed to "rules". If we had gone with something promulgated by ISO, we would have a mish-mash of things and be stuck with a standard that 1000s of options that would need to be implemented at a great cost. Good luck implementing a protocol stack in a small footprint.

Somehow I believe that what is needed is a "very benevolent dictator" that has the best interests of all in mind. Unfortunately I have doubts that such a person exists. Of course, I could volunteer, but I doubt all interested parties would approve. Please note the humor in the last sentence, and don't flame me!

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How much of ONE YEAR's Californian energy use would WIPE OUT the DROUGHT?

Herby
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Timing??

These wonderful ideas are nice, but consider this: It will take a few years to build a nice de-sal plant and get it operational. By then the drought will be over and politicians will state that the whole thing was a waste of money. The plant gets mothballed, and some of the components are sold off to recover a bit of the massive costs. Life goes on, as a bunch of wet years pass. Then another drought comes by and everyone says "light up that nice de-sal plant we paid $$$$ for many moons ago". Then the people in charge say, sorry, we need to buy those nice filters we sold off years ago. By the time they start to think about it, and try to get the plant operational, the second drought is over.

Wash, Rinse, Repeat.

reference: http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-santa-barbara-desal-20150303-story.html

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BOFH: My diary is MINE and mine alone, you petty HR gimps

Herby
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CRTs (large)

I got a 32 inch TV back in 1987 or so. That sucker was HEAVY. I could barely lift it by myself, but it did have wonderful pictures.

Of course back in ancient history, CRT terminals were a luxury. I knew a couple of people who built them from scratch, using TVs from Goodwill that were obtained at low cost. It helps to know RS170 and a little bit of logic. Me? I built up one using a 6844 CRT controller. Plugged it into my 6800 computer. Memories from afar.

Oh, I celebrated my first program that I wrote around 50 years ago. Wonderful trip.

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Ballmer's billion-dollar blunders: When he gambled Microsoft's money and lost

Herby
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Joke

Maybe...

He was responsible for Windows 9.

We may never know.

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ONE MILLION new lines of code hit Linux Kernel

Herby
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Re: One million new lines...

"... but it still can't run windows..."

Personally I would consider this a "feature". I suspect others would as well.

Up/Down votes will tell.

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UN corruption cops commence probe into domain-name and patent body WIPO

Herby
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Shocked!

A UN agency that is corrupt? I'm shocked. Shocked I say.

I'd probably be more shocked to find a UN agency that ISN'T corrupt. I suspect these are few and far between.

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Hey kids, who wants to pwn a million BIOSes?

Herby
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Why??

It used to be that the BIOS just had some routines that you didn't use and read the first sector from secondary storage. The original PC had BASIC in there as well. Things are a bit more (unnecessarily in my opinion) complicated these days with the UEFI craze and more. If the BIOS were simple enough you wouldn't need to update it when Microsoft commands you.

Maybe the solution is to throw out all the cruft and go back to basics (sorry). Have the BIOS read the first record from secondary storage and check for the keyboard. If necessary save some parameters like which secondary storage device to get the "first record" and what to display on the "flash screen". Not much else is used when you boot a Linux system anyway.

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Teaching kids to code is self-defence, not a vocational skill

Herby
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Needed: A humbling experience!

Unfortunately these are few and far between. If a task is "hard" is is learned quite quickly. Even more so when it is "expensive" (money or time here). If one trades thought for the "expensive" then lessons are learned.

I suspect that in modern time, if one is asked what is "2 + 2", and the typical answer might be: one (no!), two (no!!), three (no!!!), four (yay, you got it have a gold star!). People don't learn that way, they just keep guessing until a somewhat correct answer appears.

If you want to be humbled, go back to an ASR33 teletype, and any significant program (over a page), and get it to work. You do a LOT of thinking to get to the answer, and very little "guessing". Of course go further back with punch cards and a 1 day turn around time (don't get me started).

Before "coding", some logical thought training is in order (at ALL levels!).

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Microsoft to Linux users: Explain yourself

Herby
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As the saying goes...

Nobody got fired for specifying Microsoft (in an earlier era, it was IBM). Now these guys are trying to weasel into open source territory so that those who specify Microsoft won't get fired. This is needed since the horizon looks like you could be fired for such (as we all know) decision.

Maybe it like putting an ad in a computing magazine (take your pick) saying "Anderson (Marvin, Pella, etc) makes windows too".

(for those not in the USA, these are manufacturers of home windows that you might put in your bedroom/living room). I don't think they have any apps yet.

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Voyager 2 'stopped' last week, and not just for maintenance

Herby
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Good 'ol MJS(U)-77 pretty good thing.

Yup still working after all these years. Those guys at JPL did a really good job. Of course having the antennas pointed with nice receivers is also important, given that the receiver isn't at 100%.

Shoutout to Wayne and Len (DSN & Radioscience respectively).

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Caterham 270S: The automotive equivalent of crack

Herby
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Now that ElReg is...

getting into geeky automotive reviews, they could employ Jeremy Clarkson. I understand he is available.

Maybe ElReg can get access to a nice track as well. You know lap tests and all that.

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Oh, shoppin’ HELL: I’m in the supermarket of the DAMNED

Herby
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Why??

These "automated" tills are a terrible thing. I ask the simple question: "What's in it for me?". The obvious answer is: "Nothing at all". If I am so stupid as to use the automated till, it wastes my time, and really provides no benefit for me. Of course, to the supermarket (or home improvement store) that has them it saves them money as they think they will get more customers to pay for less cashiers. Do they pass any of this "savings" on to me? Of course not.

So, when I see these shiny-shiny blinken light things that have all sorts of rude remarks, I avoid them like the plague, and recommend others not use them as well.

Look, if I wanted to check out myself, I might have grown items in my own vegetable garden, that is taking "self serve" to the extreme.

Why bother!

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New US bill aims to zap patent trolls with transparency demands

Herby
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Re: Or...

Sorry, this should be:

AND!!!

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BOFH: Step into my office. Now take a deep breath

Herby
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Looking back isn't that bad...

I for one look back fondly to the 80's 70's 60's when I started this career path. Drives in those days barely held megabytes and you could actually see the spinning rust (don't wear a tie when servicing!). Oh, the platters were 14 inches across as well.

And today I'm picking my KSR33 from the repair shop just to seal the deal.

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FCC to crack down on robocall spammers' beloved loophole

Herby
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But some people just don't care!

Like the call I got a few hours ago. It was a TERRIBLE VOIP (I assume) robo-call that was only half intelligible as it stuttered quite badly. From what I could make out they said they were the IRS and wanted me to know something. I just hung up.

When the person on the other side of the call is trying to scam you, they really don't care about the rules.

Unfortunately, our government doesn't feel this is important to go after them, but that is probably another story. It would keep agents very occupied (lots of them!).

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Wi-Fi was MEANT to be this way: Antennas and standards, 802.11 style

Herby
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E-I-E-I-O??

You should read your computer instruction manuals. EIEIO is the proper abbreviation for "Enable Instruction Execution In Order". Given a search, you should be able to find it pretty quickly. Remember the search is a goal in itself.

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Hacker uses Starbucks INFINITE MONEY for free CHICKEN SANDWICH

Herby
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This sounds to me like...

...how the government (pick one) works. They move money around so many ways from Sunday, and always come up with more and more to move around.

Of course they seem to own the printing presses that "make" money. I wish I could do the same (legally), but alas.

Don't get me started on BitCoin. Any currency needs an army behind it to be truly legitimate.

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BOFH: Getting to the brown, nutty heart of the water cooler matter

Herby
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Be careful what you ask for...

You may just get it (as in this case).

Or in this case, what you think you asked for subconsciously.

A true BOFH would have published the complete recipe for all to follow. I should now follow my advise and hide under a rock.

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Microsoft points at Skype, Lync: You two, in my office – right now

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What happened to...

A plain old telephone? Its has worked for over 100 years and continues to function well.

This Lync/Skype (whatever) program does a couple of things:

Good: Reduces per call cost.

Bad: Locks you into Microsoft products that have initial costs for all involved, and get superceded by the next version that has "shiny shiny" to impress people to buy the next version, forcing everyone to upgrade so the CEO can have his "feature".

Note: A telephone from over 50 years ago STILL works on a modern phone line. I can't say as much for these products.

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Swedish Supreme Court keeps AssangeTM in Little Ecuador

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Maybe if...

Mr. Assange's people can leak some Hillary Clinton documents/emails, he might get some people in the USA to give him some help. Probably not the ones he wants, but you never know.

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SOD TABLETS, if you want to get anything done travelling get a ... yes, a LAPTOP

Herby
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Thankfully not 40 years ago.

In those days, there weren't powerpoint presentations, just a carousel slide show and hopefully they didn't have too many. Cameras? probably not allowed, as they supplied ONE 36mm slide for you to take with you and some press blurb. We've come a long way,

The problem is that MANY people don't know how to make presentations, and they ALL use powerpoint as a crutch usually putting the audience asleep. A good presentation is a sight to behold and you don't forget them. Unfortunately they are few and far between.

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Boeing 787 software bug can shut down planes' generators IN FLIGHT

Herby
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Wierd flaws not likely to be encountered

I discovered one of these on the operating system I worked on in the 70's. Turns out that the calculation of 'leap year' is done when the time was entered on the console (before CMOS clocks). The problem would happen if one entered the time in December of a non leap year (like 1975) and if the machine ran continuously till February 29th. Since the determination of leap year was done in 1975, and 1976 was a leap year, it wouldn't register.

Of course the likelihood of the machine being up for that long was sooo remote, they didn't consider it a bug. The remedy is to just enter the date some time in January, and go from there. There was really no need to reboot. Sadly the machine was sold for scrap in 1983 after a bankruptcy.

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Ruskie hackers nab unclassified Obama emails

Herby
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Why??

Can't they publish the Hillary Clinton emails. Lots of people would be VERY interested!

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C++ Daddy Bjarne Stroustrup outlines directions for v17

Herby
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Will anyone really understand the language?

As the language grows, it (by nature) becomes more complex. The C language (for example) is described (an older version) in a book by the originators (K & R) that is only a 1/2 inch thick (I just measured it!). C++ in its originator book (from a bunch of years ago, I don't have it in front of me, but Bjarne DID sign my copy) is about 1.5 inches thick. Given this the language is at least three times as complex, and getting more so. Most "modern" languages (I include C++ here) are getting more complex by the minute, and they are getting too complex for one person to "know" without propping open some sort of reference. The problem is that the complexities are getting ignored and people use a "known subset" and fake the rest of it.

Of course it gets worse when you need to link against some library, and (in C++) everything gets redefined because the author that it would be "cute". Then you attempt to learn another set of exceptions just to get your "simple task" done. It is a never ending task.

Of course it gets worse. A book on python (Programming Python by Mark Lutz) is even thicker (a good 3 inches) and learning the language is even more difficult. It is a never ending task.

As mentioned before "The nice thing about standards is that there are so many". To which I add: "and they are getting more complex!"

I long for the Fortran 66 (an improvement over Fortran II) days, but that is just me.

Yes, I did program a machine with Fortran II as its most complex language. It was a while ago!

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Stuff your RFID card, just let me through the damn door!

Herby
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RFIDs are interesting things.

You can even buy a small kit (sparkfun.com) that allows you to read them. It includes a couple of cards as well. Of course the sensor needs to be pretty close (for the cheaper sensor, I have), but it works quite well. One of these days, I'll make it unlock/lock my computer when I go away for a while.

I have yet to try it on US passport cards. I'll be able to do that in a couple of days.

BEEP.

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Cash register maker used same password – 166816 – non-stop since 1990

Herby
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Manufacturers Password

In a project I worked on we cooked in a "master" password that allowed entry into the system. We went to great lengths to deny that it existed to "higher ups". I was told that eventually it was released in dire circumstances (it would have necessitated a site visit). The funny thing was that it was a relatively simple password, just the companies initials as control characters. I have no idea if any of these systems exist almost 30 years later. I was laid off before the company was sold off.

So, these things happen all the time. The saying goes: "Can you keep a secret?" to which the proper answer is "yes", but the next phrase is "So can I".

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FBI alert: Get these motherf'king hackers off this motherf'king plane

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Black Hat session topic?

Get Boeing to sponsor it and allow researchers try to do something fancy. They don't even need to fly the plane, just do "something weird" to the navigation net.

As any good security guy knows that physical separation is best. The only thing that MIGHT be connected is a power supply (if they are smart!).

This should be found out quickly. Point fingers unfounded is a useless exercise, which is happening now.

Me? Only worried that the screens will go blank at the "good parts" of the movie.

p.s. There is always the circuit breaker!

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Docker huddles under Linux patent-troll protection umbrella

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Patent trools...

On the US TV Show _Last Week Tonight_ (HBO) they had a segment on patent trolls. It was quite interesting and included a video of the Samsung Ice rink that is right outside the federal courthouse in the Eastern District of Texas (it was quite humorous!).

They also talked about the legislation that was stalled in the US Senate because of (you guessed it!) the trial lawyers association (surprise! surprise!). If you can look at this episode (or El Reg can get a link) you will find it quite interesting!

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Microsoft to open first flagship Store beyond North America

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Still not very good.

My observation of an Apple store that right across the mall from a Microsoft one was quite informative. The Microsoft store ALWAYS had more store personnel than customers, so I suppose you would get "personal service". The Apple store on the other hand had a long line out the door waiting to get in, and gobs of people inside looking (and buying as I observed) at product. I couldn't say as much for the Microsoft Store which was also trying to lasso customers in the mall proper (they were demoing a Kinnect[sp?] thing).

All of this reinforced the fact that having AAPL stock is a "good thing".

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Struggling through the Crystal Maze in our hunt for a spare CAT5

Herby
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Glass conference rooms...

They would be "really cool" of you had that switch controlled opacifier type glass. One flip of a switch and it all turns out dark.

Of course any BOFH worth his salt would have an auxiliary switch to turn the function in its opposite sense, at the most opportune time. I suppose that is another story.

But the magic glass is a bit pricy so I doubt that bean counters would approve and the general idea of glass conference rooms with the nice sound board qualities of the glass well known would be a terrible thing.

Thankfully at the last place I worked at, you just plugged in your computer and DHCP did the rest. The telephones were that way as well. Unfortunately the phones didn't allow for bluetooth headsets, but I solved that by going to ebay and getting a more improved model, and the bluetooth adapter. The phone/IT people never discovered I did it. When I left, I took my goodies with me, and left behind the "original" stuff. It was nice to have the computer sound AND the telephone in my ear so as to not annoy anyone.

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Streak life: Oz woman flashes boobs at Google Street View car

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Just someones attempt...

At their 15 minutes of fame. A little long if you ask me. I suspect that most of this attention is due to the Streisand Effect. If the authorities had skipped over this, it wouldn't be a big deal.

(*SIGH*) Life goes on, and we must move on to other things.

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El Reg uncages its truly demonic BOFH t-shirt

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Patience is a virtue.

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BOFH: Never mind that old brick, look at this ink-stained BEAUTY

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Real BOFH's use EBCDIC.

None of this silly DEC stuff. Of course my work wasn't on IBM stuff either. The drum printer I used was a nice XDS 7440 beast (oem'd from NCR). You could hear that thing get loud when it printed a line of $'s at the end of the job.

We replaced it (it was leased) with a slower chain printer that "kinda" worked. I programed it to pint the chain sequence and the hammer force opened up the printer gate, stopping the printer. I didn't do that too often. Now I have a Centronics B300 printer which works quite nicely.

Of course there is the 1132 printer (also EBCDIC) that was slow as molasses and only a 48 character set. We printed out pictures from the TV camera. It was a long time ago.

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