* Posts by Michael Wojcik

3726 posts • joined 21 Dec 2007

Microsoft Edge web browser: A well-presented mea culpa

Michael Wojcik
Silver badge

Re: Summary

Agreed. This is the least-persuasive review I've read in a long time.

Perhaps that's unfair. After reading it I'm largely persuaded that there's no reason for me to ever try Edge. What's it's great advantage? It's better than IE. If I don't use IE now, why would I care? Why pay the opportunity cost and cognitive load of learning a new browser?

0
0

Bloke cuffed for blowing low-flying camera drone to bits with shotgun

Michael Wojcik
Silver badge

Re: I sort of agree

Heatseeker? Punt gun? Drone with large pin?

Ballista? Giant CO2 fire extinguisher?

0
0
Michael Wojcik
Silver badge

Re: I sort of agree

The lesser drones can then be imprisoned in bamboo cages with their cameras fixed pointing at a random note.

A random note? To let the owners know their drones had been CAPTCHA'd?

1
0

Start learning parallel programming and make these supercomputers sing, Prez Obama orders

Michael Wojcik
Silver badge

Re: Weather? Certainly useful but...

There's little evidence that problems in natural language processing can be solved simply by throwing faster hardware at it. We're already at the point of diminishing returns from the throw-more-data-at-it approach beloved by Google, and we can build much deeper Deep Learning systems using conventional hardware - no need for HPC, much less exascale HPC.

The problems of NLP are actually difficult. They're not just an issue of combinatorial explosion.

0
0

Microsoft admits critical .NET Framework 4.6 bug, issues workaround

Michael Wojcik
Silver badge

F#

It's more of an issue for F# programmers because F# programs, like those written in other languages in the ML family, are much more likely to make use of tail call optimization (TCO). Tail recursion is perhaps the quintessential pattern of functional programming, and so TCO is far more prominent in functional languages like F#.

And this is a TCO bug in RyuJIT.

0
0
Michael Wojcik
Silver badge

Re: Nothing to worry about, move along

In my experience, -O3 is often fine for C or C++1 programs that actually conform to the standards and don't rely on undefined behavior, or make incorrect assumptions about implementation-defined behavior. Of course, the vast majority of C and C++ programmers are manifestly incapable of writing such code.

1There is no language called "C/C++". C and C++ are very different languages. Of course, here we're talking about GCC, which also implements a language often called "C", but which is substantially unlike C.

0
0

Windows 10: THE ULTIMATE GUIDE to Microsoft's long apology for Windows 8

Michael Wojcik
Silver badge

Re: Why call it Windows?

Ummm, I think it was the other way round. MSDOS/PCDOS were designed to be DRDOS compatible

Wildly incorrect, I'm afraid. MS-DOS started as rebranded 86-DOS (formerly QDOS) from Seattle Computer Products. 86-DOS took1 a number of aspects of CP/M - not DR DOS, which didn't exist at the time - particularly in its internals. But while it also copied a number of CP/M conventions, such as drive letters, its user interface (a bunch of built-in and external command) was substantially different in many respects, even for simple operations like copying a file.

PC DOS was IBM's rebranded MS-DOS with a handful of minor changes and some additions, such as BASICA.

Around the same time, DRI created CP/M-86, the first 16-bit version of CP/M. The story of how it failed to become IBM's preferred OS for the PC is widely and generally incorrectly reported; somewhere there's an interview with Dorothy Kildall where she explains what actually went down (disagreements over licensing, primarily). CP/M-86 remained a distant competitor to MS-DOS and PC DOS on IBM PCs and compatibles for years.

Much later (1988) DRI came out with DR DOS, a new OS compatible with MS-DOS and PC DOS. While it had some technical advantages over MS-DOS and some users felt it was better, it was never more than moderately successful.

In short: the QDOS family was never "designed to be compatible" with any other existing OS, but borrowed heavily from CP/M. DR DOS, on the other hand, was created as an improved MS-DOS.

1Or borrowed, stole, copied, paid homage - take your pick.

1
0
Michael Wojcik
Silver badge

Re: Where's the sizzle?

I'm left wondering "why upgrade?"

Agreed. The subtitle says "it is worth upgrading", but for the life of me I can't find anything in the article to justify that. Another thread above says "performance and multiple desktops", but - as any number of people have pointed out - the latter are easily available for Win7 (I have them on both my Win7 machines); and the former is Good Enough (particularly once various bits of cruft, like all the predefined tasks in the Windows Scheduler, have been disabled), given the annoyance of upgrading, tweaking, and learning the new OS.

I just can't see any reason why I'd want Windows 10. Nothing I've read about it, including this review, sounds at all appealing.

1
0
Michael Wojcik
Silver badge

Re: Just one thing left to make it good

You kids and your love for traversing menus, Is it really that hard to open cmd and type "C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio 12.0\Common7\IDE\devenv.exe"?

On the rare occasions when I must use the accursed thing, I generally start Venomous Studio by typing "devenv" in a Cygwin bash window, yes. Of course I have PATH set properly, so I don't need to enter the complete path explicitly.

That said, I don't know why some people are so opposed to using the search function. When I want to run something not in $PATH, I hit Ctrl-Esc and type the appropriate prefix, then hit Enter. It's the desktop analogue of $PATH, and I find it works pretty well.

0
0

Exploding 'laptop batt' IN SPAAACE! Speeding lithium spaffed by nova

Michael Wojcik
Silver badge

Re: So, how much lithium then ?

What exactly is wrong with saying 2 X 10E+24 grams

'round these parts, the "E" notation implies base-10, so what's wrong is that it should just be "2E+24", or even more concisely and readably, "2e24". But perhaps notation is more verbose in your neck of the woods.

1
0

Flippin' heck, meet the Internet of Things wallpaper

Michael Wojcik
Silver badge

Re: Does not compute

Sigh.

"Invisible" here is clearly intended in the common metaphoric sense of "the implementation is as hidden from the user as is possible". That's a very widely used sense of the term in UI/UX/UIM research, HCI research, industrial design, etc.

Fentem's statement is apt and incisive. We need more people who think that way, as an antidote for the Jony Ives of the world.

1
0

Moto fires BROADSIDE into the flagship phone's waterline with X Play and Style

Michael Wojcik
Silver badge

Now if they'd just...

make one with a slide-out physical QWERTY keyboard. Also it must have a replaceable battery and normal micro-SIM, and an SD card slot. And it'd be good if the cellular modem feature ("tethering") worked over Bluetooth. Come on, Lenovo, cater to my idiosyncratic desires!

1
0

Slashdot, SourceForge looking for new owners after parent dumps them on the web's doorstep

Michael Wojcik
Silver badge

Re: SourceForge is so dated

I prefer SourceForge to github for a handful of reasons. One, as Avalanche said, is inertia; I have projects on SourceForge already and don't feel like spending any effort to move them.

Another is that we use Subversion at work (and it's fine for our purposes), and switching between Subversion and git is a bit of a pain - cognitive load I don't need. (And to be honest I'm not terribly fond of git except when I need the features and behavior that Subversion doesn't support, or doesn't do well.)

And in my limited experience it's easier to make a fairly user-friendly project page on SourceForge than on github, which is useful if you're creating projects that have a lot of non-technical users.

Ultimately, though, I just don't buy the "SourceForge is outdated and github is shiny and new" argument. The adware issue (and I agree it's a big one) aside, what actually makes github better? You call SourceForge "crusty", but what does that actually mean?

1
0

21st century malware found in Jane Austen's 19th century prose

Michael Wojcik
Silver badge

Re: The 'Harvard Architecture' was a better concept as it turns out

No, it really wasn't, as even a glancing familiarity with the past fifty years of computer science and software development will show.

Capability architectures, on the other hand, were and remain a good idea.

1
0
Michael Wojcik
Silver badge

Re: I cry foul!

I figured they were referring to that chapter from the variant second edition of Emma where the title character briefly considers the romantic fortunes of the oddly-named character Robert'); DROP TABLE gentlemen;--. It's missing in other editions, but you can find it in the Oxford variorum.

0
0
Michael Wojcik
Silver badge

Re: Well it makes sense

What's your metric for "a very small intersection"?

In this thread you already have John H Woods and me, and I can think of a couple other Austen & security fans off the top of my head.

Now, had you said "Maria Edgeworth fans", you'd probably be onto something. Castle Rackrent is OK, but I believe I speak for everyone in IT security when I say it's hardly an undying classic.

0
0

Biometric behavioural profiling: Fighting that password you simply can't change

Michael Wojcik
Silver badge

Re: Sounds too hit and miss.

My "usual keyboard technique and speed" might also be dependent upon which keyboard I am using too.

Sure. And whether the laptop is sitting on a table or on my lap. And in the latter case, what sort of chair I'm sitting in (my recliner has padded arms that push my elbows up and change my wrist angle). And whether my day's just started (and I haven't warmed up yet), or late evening (and my hands are tired). And whether I happened to do any heavy work on the house that day and my hands are swollen or sore.

And, as no doubt a dozen people have pointed out below, an injury to a hand or finger will throw touch-typists far off.

The typing-style biometric is a great example of all of the things that are wrong with biometrics. As a spying tool it has some value (however vile); as an authenticator it's crap.

0
0

Three-mile-high pyramid found on alien dwarf world, baffles boffins

Michael Wojcik
Silver badge

According to a noted Cerean scholar...

... it was built by humans, who needed to sharpen their razor blades.

0
0

OpenSSH server open to almost unlimited password-guessing bug

Michael Wojcik
Silver badge

Re: no problem for "not stupid"

10K attempts isn't an issue for password authentication unless the attacker has a dictionary weighted against the victim - such as one based on personal information, or one based on commonly-used passwords if the victim uses a weak password.

Aspell's English dictionary has more than an order of magnitude more entries, so even a password chosen from common English words isn't likely to be found in 10K attempts.

This attack is certainly notable, and not a negligible threat if your threat model includes users with weak passwords, but it's not equivalent to, say, a good offline attack. Certainly it's a very weak justification for certificate authentication. (Which is not to say anything about other arguments for or against certificate authentication - just that this isn't a persuasive one.)

0
0
Michael Wojcik
Silver badge

Re: pam,pam,pam,pam,pam,pam,pam,pam,...

Nice to see that some people can still read Perl code

That's never been an issue. The problem is that some people still write it.

1
0

NASA: 'Closest thing yet to ANOTHER EARTH' - FOUND

Michael Wojcik
Silver badge

Five times the size and twice the gravity is NOT Earth-like.

Twice the gravity is a relatively minor issue, and five times the size is a bonus.

It would be very uncomfortable to try and establish a colony there (forgetting all about getting there in the first place), assuming the atmosphere is breathable.

Any planet we're likely to find is going to be "very uncomfortable". In the entire universe, sure, we'd find places so Earth-like we couldn't tell the difference. (Cosmologists will claim that there are ones where it'd be impossible to tell the difference.) But even in our Hubble volume, and certainly within the radius we can analyze using current technology on Earth or in orbit around it, it's extremely unlikely we'd find anything so accommodating to our tastes.

True, there should be a huge number of candidates - rocky planets of about the same size in the G-zone with suitable composition and blah blah blah. But they'd smell funny and the light would be a bit off and the local flora and fauna wouldn't be good eats. Trace mineral concentrations would be off. The day would be too short or too long.

I'm not saying we'll never find anything habitable (though I don't believe colonization of other planets is justified by anything other than species hubris, even if we can find a way to make it feasible with ludicrous amounts of shielding and generation- or seeding-ships). But if you could pop over there, you wouldn't like it much. It's the details that would get to you.

Antarctica is likely to remain more congenial than any other planets we find in the neighborhood.

2
0
Michael Wojcik
Silver badge

Re: Bank of glarhgx

Just trick him into a jumping contest in a room with a low ceiling.

0
0
Michael Wojcik
Silver badge

Re: Jinxed

Is the human body even capable of living at a constant 2G?

I think it's likely. Other vertebrates have been raised successfully under continuous high acceleration (see e.g. Ed Regis' Great Mambo Chicken and the Transhuman Condition). 2G really isn't that bad. Humans do well in a pretty wide range of other conditions - altitude and temperature extremes, for example - that require their bodies to adapt.

The circulatory system probably wouldn't even notice once the subject was acclimatized. It's the joints that would take a beating. And of course falls would be more dangerous.

Oh, and it'd be harder to swallow while upside-down. Peristalsis can only do so much.

1
0

Were the FIRST AMERICANS really FIRST? MYSTERY of vanished 'Population Y'

Michael Wojcik
Silver badge

"Well-known"?

It's well known, of course, that humanity spread from its original cradle in Africa out across Asia and thus south to Australasia and separately north - via the Bering Strait land bridge, then in existence - to North America.

Argh. What's "well known" is that the Beringia route almost certainly was not the sole, and quite likely not the first, migration route for humans into the Americas. Maybe we could stop tossing antiquated, debunked theories into articles under the guise of scientific consensus?

Oh, wait, I see Lewis wrote this one. Never mind.

1
0

Blessed are the cheesemakers, for they have defined the smidge

Michael Wojcik
Silver badge

Re: Tad more...

In "a tad more" tad is acting as an qualifier [adverb?*] for "more".

That's only one possible parse.1 English grammar is not deterministic.

You can indeed parse it as a noun or adjectival phrase, where:

- "more" is acting as a noun or pronoun (it's ambiguous in this context), and "tad" is an adjective modifying it; or

- "more" is acting as a simple or nominal adjective, and "tad" is an adverb modifying it

However, you can also parse it as a noun phrase where "tad" is a noun. Consider the parallel construction "I'll need an acre more to build my sovereign-citizen compound"; in "an acre more", "acre" is clearly a noun. The noun phrase "an acre" is acting as an adjectival phrase, modifying "more", which is acting as a noun, and the compound noun phrase "an acre more" is the direct object of the verb "need".

On the other hand, consider "I'll need an acre more or less to build...": here the most probable parse is that "more or less" is an adjectival phrase modifying noun phrase "an acre", which is the direct object of "need".

Similar parses can be constructed around similar phrases employing "tad".

HTH. HAND.

1Actually two parses, because your parse is ambiguous, as noted below.

1
0

Microsoft joins attack on 'non-consensual pornography'

Michael Wojcik
Silver badge

That definition needs tightening

so-called "revenge porn" in which people's naked or otherwise embarrassing/erotic pictures are posted widely online

Er, that's just porn at most, and in some cases just pictures. The key here is posted against their wishes. And we can strike "widely", too; in some cases harm might be tied to the extent of dissemination, but not in all. Emailing a sensitive image to a single recipient could cause someone a lot of grief. Emailing an image to the victim him- or herself could cause harm in many cases (for example, as an implied threat, or evidence of compromise).

0
0

Get root on an OS X 10.10 Mac: The exploit is so trivial it fits in a tweet

Michael Wojcik
Silver badge

Re: It's not just the system design...

Now I'm off to re-auth my RACF creditials. Proper security there IMHO.

RACF has its virtues, but it has its faults as well. And too many applications and subsystems that use it are still stuck on 8-character passwords because they haven't been updated to use newer SAF APIs.

Of course the real problem is that terms like "proper security" are meaningless. Security is about relative costs to defenders and attackers (which can include accidents; they don't need to be malicious) under a threat model. There are no absolutes in security.

0
0
Michael Wojcik
Silver badge

Re: The real culprit

Most of the rest is Windows, and I'm willing to bet you aren't going to say Windows security is superior.

You might lose that bet.

The Windows object access control system is finer-grained and more consistent than the traditional UNIX one. I won't say it's "superior", because that's a meaningless term in this domain - a security system can only be judged against a threat model, so it's pointless to claim one is superior or inferior in the abstract, and that judgement is far too complex to reduce it to a single dimension anyway.

Also, the Windows system has proven to be sufficiently complicated and confusing to be ignored by most administrators (note that most Windows administrators are non-technical end users), and a security system that's not employed doesn't do well under most threat models.

But its design does have advantages over the simplistic traditional UNIX one under many realistic threat models.

3
2

Lottery IT security boss guilty of hacking lotto computer to win $14.3m

Michael Wojcik
Silver badge

The lottery can be rigged?!!

This really casts some doubts on Whitey Bulger's 1991 jackpot, I have to say. My faith in state-run games of chance with laughably terrible odds has been challenged.

0
0

Catch 'em while you can! Presenting Druva's virtual open door detector

Michael Wojcik
Silver badge

Article's useful content asymptotically approaches zero

Wow, what a waste of space this one was.

No mention of other anti-exfiltration packages and services. This is a substantial industry sector, and a thriving research area. And no technical information about this particular offering.

If it wasn't such a good occasion for bitching about lousy reporting, it would have been completely useless.

2
0

Security tool bod's hell: People think I wrote code for Hacking Team!

Michael Wojcik
Silver badge

Re: Enforcement?

Very few people, if any ever paid anything to an author.

A gross exaggeration. Quite a number of people have paid for shareware. I've paid for a number of packages myself, and I know others who have also done so. And shareware still exists, so it's hardly been "killed".

2
0

You Musk be joking: Tesla's zero to 60MPH in 2.8 SECONDS is literally 'ludicrous'

Michael Wojcik
Silver badge

Re: One wonders ...

Really, the same holds true for any car with more than around 300-400 hp

Even in that range, real-world driving probably rarely uses all the available power.

My current car (Volvo XC70 T6) is rated at 300 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque, and gets it to the pavement with AWD, but I almost never have any reason to hold the throttle open. The power is really only useful for hauling a trailer - and even then I could get by without it.

Obviously power/weight ratio matters far more than pure power, but back in the '80s and early '90s I was perfectly happy with hatchbacks that made less than 100 hp. They were fine for city traffic and while they weren't great for overtaking on back roads, they'd get me from here to there.

0
0

Facebook's React Native is exciting devs. Or is it, really?

Michael Wojcik
Silver badge

Re: Bah - Yet another ill concieved hipster Framework

If you can't be bothered to think of meaningful identifiers, it's "foo bar". I think you meant "FUBAR".

0
0
Michael Wojcik
Silver badge

Re: Off topic comment here

Remember when Yahoo! hit $110 in December '99? Remember when it hit $4 a couple years later? Good times.

1
0
Michael Wojcik
Silver badge

Re: React Native and Angular not comparable

Writing about Angular lets Matt cite more tweets.

When you win free-content curation, you win the article.

1
0
Michael Wojcik
Silver badge

Re: "Winning the web is the whole darn world.”

Without SALES people, none of you developers would have any stable jobs.

Because all software is written to be sold, as any fule kno. Companies never develop software for internal use. No one in academia creates software. There's no free software.

1
0

Science sub spots lost Revolutionary-era SHIPWRECK

Michael Wojcik
Silver badge

Re: No moral high ground anywhere in the slave trade

Until enlightenment thinking finally got around to seeing it off

Sure, if by "[E]nlightenment thinking" you mean capitalism. Eric Williams and others make a strong case that slavery was dismantled due to its relative economic inefficiency; and Paul Gilroy and Robert J. C. Young, among others, have shown how the Enlightenment episteme was quite capable of accommodating the apparent contradictions of slavery with its tenets. (Scientific racism, for example, existed to justify the perpetuation of slavery within an Enlightenment milieu.)

More extensive and incisive critiques of the complicity of Enlightenment philosophy per se with slavery and colonialism can be found in the work of Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak and various others.

I don't want to endorse a reductive materialist theory of the gradual reduction1 of slavery in the European-influenced world; economic forces weren't solely responsible, and the cultural work done by people making philosophical and moral arguments against slavery should not be discounted. Nor, of course, should the individual efforts of protesters, organizers, politicians, and others. But there's good reason to believe that government-sanctioned slavery in Europe, its colonies, and its former colonies ended when and how it did in large part because capitalism is a far more effective way of extracting value from labor.

1It's by no means gone entirely, as any number of groups that study human trafficking can attest.

0
0
Michael Wojcik
Silver badge

Re: @Robert Helpmann?? I was hoping...

And I *have* heard of The Goonies - but only in the context of it being on a list of one of ten most disturbing children's movies ever made.

That list must either have been based on a rather odd definition of "disturbing" (or perhaps of "children's movies"), or have been compiled by someone tragically ignorant of the state of world cinema. I doubt Goonies (which I've seen a few times and find to be pleasant and inoffensive entertainment, for its genre) even places in the top hundred.

Hell, they cut the giant octopus from the released film. If you don't even have a giant octopus, how disturbing can you be?

0
0
Michael Wojcik
Silver badge

Re: Lacks credibility

It is well known that the best female pirates prefer "barbequed billygoats!" when they feel an interjection is warranted.

1
0

Apple and Samsung are plotting to KILL OFF the SIM CARD - report

Michael Wojcik
Silver badge

Re: About time

Get rid of those trays and I'm sure Apple, etc. can make phones meaningfully smaller, thinner, lighter,

Oh, so I should give up a feature that has proven useful several times for one that isn't?

How astoundingly feeble are you that your phone is too heavy? And too heavy because of the SIM card?

or simply give them more battery life

Oh, yes. It's the SIM card that's draining the battery.

I'm going to remove the physical sun visors from my car. That'll really help the mileage.

3
0
Michael Wojcik
Silver badge

Re: And the carriers smile

If you have multiple profiles on the phone and then selected a different network to swap SIMs then I don't see the problem.

Yes, because you lack imagination. That's hardly the only conceivable use case.

A few months back my cheap LG phone died. Just went completely dead. Wouldn't power up. Internal short, maybe.

I popped the SIM out and put it in my old Nokia Symbian phone. Thirty seconds and I had a working phone again, with the same number, most of the same contacts, etc.

Maybe I'd be able to switch a "virtual SIM" between devices, but I bet it won't be that fast and easy, particularly if the source device is dead. Also note this did not require a third device or any sort of network connection.

I won't buy a phone that doesn't have a removable battery, removable SIM, and SD card slot. (I also insist on a physical QWERTY keyboard, because I hate touchscreens, particularly for typing.) Given the vast range of phones on the market, I don't see why I should give up any capabilities.

6
0

RC4 crypto: Get RID of it already, say boffins

Michael Wojcik
Silver badge

Re: WPA or WPA2?

Good encryption is effectively unbreakable no matter how much data you have. Flawed encryption is crackable some of the time, by those with resources. Bad encryption is just not considered encryption.

Terms like "good", "flawed", and "bad" are meaningless in this context, unless they're defined by a threat model.

If my threat model is, say, that I might lose a device and some random idiot who finds it might browse through files looking for sensitive information, then RC4 covers that just fine. For this particular application, if my threat model is "teenager next door might hop on my WiFi and eat up bandwidth streaming porn", then WPA with RC4 covers that too. Hell, WEP covers it; it's trivially breakable for anyone who makes a bit of effort, but that pretty much excludes the neighborhood kids, because they have better things to do with their time, and because there are easier targets (i.e., unsecured networks) in the area.

I know, I know - Reg readers and scribes1 are clearly incapable of understanding the basic concepts of information security, in particular the notion that security is always relative and only meaningful under a threat model. But I enjoy pointing this out in the comments of every story on cryptography, because I'm an annoying bastard.

1Any security researcher saying "the RC4 crypto algorithm needs to be wiped from the face of the Earth" is being careless, or is simply incompetent. RC4 is fine for many applications under many threat models. The fact that it's inadequate - sometimes severely - for other applications and under other threat models means it has to be used cautiously. But hyperbole like this is simply foolishness, and encourages poor security thought and practice.

1
0

Mozilla's ‘Great or Dead’ philosophy may save bloated blimp Firefox

Michael Wojcik
Silver badge

Re: "Chrome ...... performs noticeably faster at common tasks, like switching between tabs."

Even worse is "the fact that that Chrome feels faster, more stable and less bloated". Scott, here's a tip: when you say something feels a certain way, that's a hint that you're making a subjective evaluation, not stating a "fact".

Try this: "I think Chrome feels faster, but I don't have any data to actually support that, or a real argument why it should matter. So disregard this point."

(Personally, I've never noticed Firefox being any more sluggish than anything else on any of the systems I've run it on. And I find Chrome makes my skin crawl, on the rare occasions where I use it, typically to test site glitches that might not be obvious under other browsers. It reminds me of the smarmy polish of an inspirational speaker.)

2
0

Horrifying MOCK BACON ABOMINATION grown in BUBBLING VATS as ALGAE

Michael Wojcik
Silver badge

Re: Snake

you might as well eat the mice

Reminds me of the 1983 film Never Cry Wolf, in which a zoologist tries to prove the local wolf packs can subsist mostly on mice by eating them (the mice) himself. As I recall, it's a cute little nature film for those who like that sort of thing; children of a certain age in particular will be pleased by the mouse-cookery, as well as the nature shots and wolf-fuzzies.

It didn't make me want to eat mice, but I believe it's a viable option if necessary. I'd be nervous about toxin accumulation in them, though - probably go for farm-raised1 rather than wild.

1"Got 57 million head of mice out on the north pasture now. Branding 'em was the worst part."

0
0
Michael Wojcik
Silver badge

Re: It is universally known by even people who have not had your bacon,

food is on the whole, far better in the UK than the US, especially produce

Your anecdotal, subjective evidence certainly is compelling, particularly since it's obviously true that food, especially produce, is identical everywhere across the 3.7 million square miles of the US, with tropical to arctic latitudes, sopping wet to hot and cold desert climates, coasts, forests, lakes, plains, and mountains. No doubt you have sampled the produce available in all fifty states, and carefully compared it with that sourced from various regions of the UK, to ensure you're not simply falling prey to simple fallacies of recollection.

Or maybe you're just an idiot as well as an anonymous coward?

1
1
Michael Wojcik
Silver badge

Re: Bah!

It is universally known by even people who have not had your bacon, that your bacon is crap.

A vast array of bacon types are available in the US, including English-style bacon, Canadian-style back bacon and peameal bacon, and pretty much anything anyone anywhere calls "bacon". What hoi polloi of Abominable Food Island refer to as "streaky bacon" comes in cuts ranging from tissue-thin to whopping thick slabs. And you can also get related pork products like pork belly and fresh side, which I've never seen in a UK supermarket.

Comments like the above just demonstrate the woeful culinary ignorance typical of the UK.

1
0

Suse preps for ARM-ageddon: Piles up cans of 64-bit Linux code to feed server world

Michael Wojcik
Silver badge

Re: Hardware

One of my first professional programming jobs was porting a complex middleware package from S/390 assembly running under CICS to C running under OS/2. Then we ported it to OS/400 (where it had oot be a mix of C, Pascal, COBOL, and various OS/400-only languages), Windows/386 (16-bit), AIX, Solaris, SCO Open Desktop, HP-UX, and Linux. Later a WinNT 32-bit version, and a Win9x 32-bit version. There was a DOS client written in x86 assembly that did tricksy stuff with the HMA. The mainframe version was ported to run under MVS with a TSO administration interface; the latter eventually rewritten to use VTAM 3270 directly. There was an IMS port, and a CICS/VSE one. I might be forgetting a platform or two in all of that.

To keep the assembly and C platforms in sync, all the sources were pseudocode in comments interwoven with actual implementation. Platform-specific code was segregated.

And yeah, those various ports revealed different bugs, and non-portable design assumptions, in the system.

These days I have an easier job, with components written (mostly) in C that only have to run on Windows and a dozen UNIX / Linux flavors. We're down to a handful of CPU families: x86, x64, SPARC, POWER, Itanium, z.

0
0
Michael Wojcik
Silver badge

Re: re: valgrind (again)

Lint (or similar static source-code analysis tool) used to be popular. Not sure what today's equivalent might be (to some extent, compilers have got better). Suggestions welcome.

There are various static analyzers for C. Later generations of lint are still available on various platforms, such as FreeBSD; of course, many of the checks it performs are now handled by some C compilers.

There are some commercial static analyzers, which justify their cost by having more extensive and ambitious checks and expressive rule languages that can be used to develop custom checks. Freeware options include splint (powerful, complicated, not entirely C11-compilant) and cppcheck (fast, less powerful, designed to reduce false positives). I occasionally run splint on some of my C code base and use cppcheck fairly often. cppcheck misses a lot but because it produces few false positives it's a useful quick check.

Just last month there was a story here about Facebook's Infer project, which employs some new techniques to create a very fast static analyzer.

Similarly, there are a number of dynamic analyzers for native code. Valgrind is certainly a useful tool, but it's limited to Linux and like any other analyzer has strengths and weaknesses. A number of UNIX platforms come with heap checkers and similar tools; for Windows, there are the debug versions of Microsoft's C runtime libraries. Then there are commercial products such as DevPartner (the former NuMega / BoundsChecker product, now owned by Micro Focus, my employer).

With dynamic testing, it's also useful to employ a smart whitebox fuzzing engine like Microsoft's SAGE, which can analyze flow paths in running programs and (using a constraint solver) figure out what inputs will drive different flows.

There's a ton of research in this area. One of the great tragedies of software development is that so little of it is applied to most software. Really anyone writing C code that's going to be used for any nontrivial purpose should be running at least one static analyzer against it and testing under at least one dynamic-analysis framework; that should be the very minimum programmers consider acceptable.

1
0
Michael Wojcik
Silver badge

Re: How about some cheap hardware?

The C standard only gets you so far. Depending on interpretation, a strictly-conforming C program either cannot do anything useful (because it can't depend on any implementation-defined behavior, which includes the results of any side effects that are visible outside the program), or it can't exist at all in a hosted environment (because a strictly-conforming program must return an int value from main, which will be interpreted as a success or failure indication by the environment, which is a side effect).

So any useful C program is always somewhat outside the parameters of the standard.

In practice, of course, most non-trivial C programs make various assumptions - things like the value of CHAR_BIT and details of the character set are very common, and there is still far too much C code with assumptions about things like integer encoding, structure packing, unsafe type conversions, and so on. A great deal of C code fails to check for error conditions, assumes infinite space is available for automatic variables, etc.

Throw in matters outside the standard like threading and synchronization - rarely understood by the developers trying to use them - and you have a real mess.

And, of course, most C programmers don't really know the language in the first place. They don't understand variadic functions, or structure copying, or how the bitwise operators work. They don't know the standard library's features and infelicities. They don't understand sequence points or the difference between arrays and pointers.

1
0

Five lightweight Linux desktop worlds for extreme open-sourcers

Michael Wojcik
Silver badge

Re: Wasting time?

when you need to view and select many ad-hoc files from a directory of hundreds of files, then the GUI beats the pants out of any command line

Not in my experience. What mysterious criteria determine which files get selected in this hypothetical exercise?

0
0

Forums