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* Posts by Deryk Barker

35 posts • joined 17 Jan 2008

Ada Lovelace Day: Meet the 6 women who gave you the 'computer'

Deryk Barker

In what way

"In their footsteps came Grace Hopper."

OK, Grace Hopper was already working on Howard Aiken's Harvard Mark I machine in 1944 when a moth flew into a relay and brought the system down. It is her logbook entry which actually had the moth taped to the page and the legend "first actual case of a bug being found". (Note, this is NOT the origin of the term "bug" nor did Hopper ever claim that.)

Given that the ENIAC didn't work until after the end of the war, in what sense did Hopper come "in their footsteps"?

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Zippy one-liners, broken promises: Doctor Who on the Orient Express

Deryk Barker

Re: @mr.K

I just rewatched the end of series 5 - the Pandorica story - and right at the end, as Amy and Rory, just-married, enter the TARDIS, the phone rings...

And during the conversation the Doctor says "no I get that it's important: an Egyptian godess loose on the Orient Express, in space".

I have to say I sometimes wonder how far in advance "the Moff" plans. Did he have the entire River Song saga in his mind when he wrote Silence in the Library, for example?

Anyway, just thought i'd mention it.

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Deryk Barker

Re: The singer was cute

And thankfully the editing managed to disguise that immortal verse:

Two hundred degrees

That's why they call me Mr Fahrenheit,

I'm trav'ling at the speed of light

I wanna make a supersonic man out of you

And Brian May allegedly an astrophysicist!

Gotta say I've never enjoyed a Queen song as much. But that's not saying a great deal.

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No one wants iOS 8 because it's for NERDS - dev

Deryk Barker

Oh I'll bet...

"iCloud Photo Library will be huge but it’s in beta and is switched off by default."

I'll say it will be huge - especially if it features naked photos of movie "stars".

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Official: Turing's Bombe BETTER than a Concorde plane

Deryk Barker

Re: Yes and no

Actually the Poles came up wth the Bomba, which was essentially six enigma machines hooked together and relied on the knowledge they had gained during the 1930s and the fact that the Nazis only used 3 wheels in the machine.

When they upped that to - IIRC - three chosen from possible eight, the bomba approach no longer worked.

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Deryk Barker

Re: countless? (AC Pedant Rant!)

"Supposedly" shortene the war.

"Bomber" Harris was an insane empire-bulder who would not allow bombers to be used to help defend convoys bringing essential goods from N America.

The bmbing campaign made a sort of sense during the period from Dunkirk to D-Day, because it have the British the impression they were doing something.

If there's one thing reading WWII history has told me, it's that there was massive incompetence on both sides.

Plus ca change.

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Deryk Barker

Re: Great stuff.

The Birstol Britannia, hands down, was the most beautifuly commercial aircraft.

BTW Concorde's big problem, according to my father who spent 40 years in the travel industry, was its range or lack of: Londo to New York, yes. Frankfurt to New York - too far.

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What’s the KEYBOARD SHORTCUT for Delete?! Look in a contextual menu, fool!

Deryk Barker

Re: Touch typing

Did you ever learn to touch type a qwerty keyboard and, if so, how many wpm could you type?

AFAIK there has only been ONE study that showed the speed superiority of the Dvorak keyboard and that study was conducted - by Mr. Dvorak...

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Deryk Barker

'Don't come telling me how "superior" command lines are - they aren't; what they are is "different".'

So, you have a directory ('folder' if you insist) with 500 files in it.

You want to delete the files which have "abc" *somewhere* in their names.

Command line: one line

GUI?????

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Deryk Barker

Re: Formatting in WordPerfect 5.1

Even earlier than wordstar was runoff and its various offspring.

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Deryk Barker

Re: Text editting

vi was the Visual Interface to the ex text editor and was written by Bill Joy.

This essentially kludgey nature of vi is reflected in the "insert mode" and "command mode" stupidity and the commands available in command mode, which are basically ex commands.

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Deryk Barker

Re: Text editting

You missed out 110 and - my favourite - 134.5 baud.

Typically asynch terminals would do either hardware (X-on/X-off) or software (Control-S, Control-Q) flow controls.

Terminals that would only do software (and I recall working with a VT102 "clone") flow control posed problems for software - the emacs editor was a prime example - which used just about every key combination for something. I recall writing an emacs extension for those terminals. Don't, after 30 years, recall any details...

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Deryk Barker

Re: Talking of 1-2-3

Basically you are talking about the difference between synchronous (or to IBM bisynchronous) terminals and asynch. ASCII/EBCDIC has nothing to do with it.

It is quite possible to have an asynchronous terminal working in "forms mode" where you did local form editing and then hit "transmit" to send the data to the host.

Asynch terminals would be switchable between the two modes, synchronous ones, not.

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Deryk Barker

Re: Press any key

I believe it was Compaq who removed this error message some years ago, precisely because of this question.

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Robot snaps on yellow RUBBER GLOVES, preps to invade Canada

Deryk Barker

" It is travelling west towards Victoria, more than 5,000km (3,100 miles) from its home and on the east coast of Canada. "

*And* on the east coast. Victoria is not only not on the east coast it is not on the west coast: it is in fact on Vancouver Island a 1.5 hour ferry ride from the mainland.

Not sure how the robot will cope with the ferry - presumably it won't have the money to pay its fare as a foot passenger, which means someone will have to bring it onto the ferry in their car. Will they be charged to the extra passenger we wonder?

Does anyone have an ETA? I must keep an eye out...

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UK spooks STILL won't release Bletchley Park secrets 70 years on

Deryk Barker

Re: Zuse Z3

Well, Zuse restarted work on the Z4 in 1949 and sold one in 1950 to EFTH in Zurich, where it was in use until the early '60s.

So I'd say "small circle of German scientists" was exaggerating the case somewhat.

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Deryk Barker

Your point a) is fairly self evident and Colossus was used almost exclusively (at least at first) for wheel setting not wheel breaking, which was still done by hand. (Donald Michie figured out an algorithm for Colossus to do that too.)

b) yes, although I'm not sure what your point is here - yes, had the Germans maintained strict signals discipline (Lorenz or Enigma) the outcome, or at least the duration, of the war might have been very different.

c) Does anybody consider relays electronic? They're electro-mechanical and Zuse's machine is frequently cited as the first electro-mechanical programmable computer.

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Deryk Barker

Re: Deeper Still

I think more to the point: who would have captured most of the Lorenz machines and probably decided to adopt and use them themselves?

The Russians.

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Deryk Barker

Re: I wonder

Even if he had it's highly unlikely he'd have know about Colossus by name.

Even Winterbotham (whose 1974 The Enigma Secret is hilarious when it comes to details of what BP were actually doing) could only refer to the Bronze Goddess (by which he presumably meant the Bombe).

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Deryk Barker

I think the real question is what if Turing's ACE had been finished as soon as technically feasible (by some estimates early 1947) rather than delayed by poitics.

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Deryk Barker

Re: Post war operations

All of the versions of Colossus were electronic, i.e. used vacuum tubes.

I think your story refers to the Bombe.

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Apple releases previously SECRET OPERATING SYSTEM SOURCE CODE

Deryk Barker

Oh dear, really?

I can clearly recall using it back in the mid-70s and if you check out Ritchie and Thompson's June 1970 memo describing the QED editor, you'll find it there too...

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First case of sleep emailing documented

Deryk Barker
Thumb Down

And the evidence?

Where was the evidence that she was actually asleep? Many drugs can affect memory: why not simply assume that she wrote the emails while under the influence and then forgot.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

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Ballmer on banking crisis: No one is safe

Deryk Barker
Thumb Down

No one is safe?

Really? How about the Lehmann staff who shared $8.6 billion in 'bonuses' in 2006? I bet they're feeling pretty damned smug right now.

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Miracle airship tech sustained by DARPA pork trickle

Deryk Barker

Small historical point

The Hindenburg was actually designed to use helium, but the USA, which has a virtual monopoly on the supply, refused to supply it to Germany, despite the fact that it has no strategic value and that, in any case, as the Hindenburg lost ~5% on every trip across the Atlantic, anytime the USA had wanted it could have cut off the supply.

Also worth pointing out that the Hindenburg and its predecessor, the Graf Zeppelin, provided a regularly (weekly?) service between Germany and Brazil.

Until the disaster not a single passenger had been harmed.

Had the helium been available...

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World goes mad as Bill and Jerry eat churros

Deryk Barker

The unspeakable in full pursuit...

It's perfect: the unfunny "comedian" advertising the non-functional "operating system".

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Group Test: Wireless music streamers

Deryk Barker

Explains a lot....

Oh dear, oh dear!

No wonder the recorded music industry is going to hell in a handbasket.

Sound quality isn't really important? I, for one, have no intention of hoooking up anything with less-than-stellar DACs to my stereo system.

The Logitech (formerly Slim Devices) Squeezebox 3 (of which I have two) has, as the review mentioned, 24-but Burr-Brown DACs, which make it sound as good as all but the very highest end CD players.

As for simply buyiong a cheap PC - the sound cards in PCs are not "Hi Fi" and the inside of a PC is a very RF hostile environment - spelled N-O-I-S-Y.

I guess if music isn't really that important to you....

BTW, the Logitech squeezecenter software comes as standard on the Netgear (formerly Infrant) ReadyNAS+ boxes.

Trouble is, the 200MHz ARM processor doesn't have quite enough poke to run it responsively while, say, you are doing a backup.

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'Child protection' database slammed as plod data mine

Deryk Barker
Coat

Of course minor pilfering from employers

Of course!

So any of us who has ever taken a pencil, paperclip, few sheets of A4, is of "bad character"?

Why not simply decide that everyone is guilty of something unless they can prove their total innocence?

Eric Blair, you should be living at this hour....

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Microsoft criticizes EU's 'unreasonable' judgement

Deryk Barker

Oooh , you rotten Europeans

Its not fair - we do this stuff everywhere else and nobody complains.

Maybe the EU DOES have some point after all.

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UK.gov serves up GM food as price hike fix

Deryk Barker

Farsighted?

As Jilted John said/sang way back in 1978:

"Gordon is a moron!"

Couldn't have put it better myself.

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Who will be the next Doctor?

Deryk Barker

12 regenerations

And wasn't the final regeneration the evil one who was involved in Trial of a Time Lord?

I cannot believe some of the nonsense being spouted here; RTD revived Dr Who, for heaven's sake, after it had been allowed to die off by the BBC. We have a great deal to thank him for.

And, speaking as one who can still recall watching An Unearthly Child back on November 23, 1963 (yes, the day after), I think that the revival has been great fun -and I, for one, PARTICULARLY enjoyed the meetings with great authors, especially Simon Callow's wonderful Charles Dickens.

As Alfred Hitchcock didn't quite say: "It's only a tv programme, Ingrid".

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Bill Gates has gone, what's his legacy?

Deryk Barker

A 20th century disaster

Am I mistaken or has nobody mentioned the countless BILLIONS of pounds/dollars/euros and countless working hours wasted because Bill and his crowd don't understand the simplest security concepts?

My problem with "fair minded" pieces like this is that they largely ignore MS's continual contempt for legality.

Still, Andrew Carnegie bought his posthumous reputation as a philanthropist - as opposed to the robber baron he really was - so why not Gates?

Of course, even with all of his charitable 'donations', he still lives better than 99.9999999999999% of the rest of us.

And we're supposed to admire this monopolist crook?

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Gordon Brown claims a Brit invented the iPod

Deryk Barker
Paris Hilton

Why am I not surprised that he is unaware that...?

The COMPUTER was invented by a Briton - Alan Turing.

The world's first programmable, electronic, digital computer (Colossus) was built by three Britons: Tom Flowers, Sid Broadhurst and W.W. Chandler.

The world's first stored-program, electronic digital computer was built in Britain (the Manchester University BABY).

The world's first production computer (EDSAC) was built in Britain (by Maurice Wilkes at Cambridge).

The world's first virtual memory system (ATLAS).....

The list goes one.

Paris, because I don't suppose she is aware either...

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Cowon iAudio A3 personal media player

Deryk Barker
Thumb Down

But can the user replace the battery?

I bought a Cowan iAudio M5(?) a few years back and was very happy with it, until time came for another trip back to blighty last year and I discovered that the battery won't hold much charge any more.

This is well-known behaviour of Lithium/whatever batteries, however Cowan consider the battery replacement an "out of warranty *repair*" and expected me to mail the player to them in California, wait several weeks for it to return, and pay a significant percentage of the original purchase price for the favour.

I informed them then that I would never buy another product of theirs until this was fixed: the SanDisk players, for instance, have a user-replaceable battery.

They, or course, completely ignored this and replied telling me once again how long it would take to "repair". Not impressed.

Considering the fuss people made about the similar battery situation with the accursed iPhone, I'm disappointed that this aspect is rarely if ever mentioned in reviews.

I'm particularly disappointed as few other manufacturers seem to want to support Ogg and FLAC formats, but I will not be held to ransom over a battery.

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Former DEA agents sue over American Gangster

Deryk Barker

Enigma etc.

Amazing how much confusion there still is over this.

The Polish broke the 3-rotor Enigma in the 1930s - thanks, in large part, to the spy Hans Thilo, who provided code books. The main figure in this was Marian Rejewsky whose team worked for the Biuo Szyfrow,

The bomba was invented then.

When it became clear that Poland would not last long, the Poles - to their eternal credit - arranged a meeting with the French and British and handed over everything they had.

(Incidentally - and not much of a reflection on the powers that were - Rejewsky made it to England, but was never allowed to work on Enigma by the British...)

At Bletchley Park this work was extended, in partcular with the bombe, designed by Alan Turing and Gordon Welchman.

Colossus was designed (by Max Newman, Turing's supervisor at Cambridge) and built at the PO Research Station at Dollis Hill, by Tom Flowers, Sid Broadhurst and W.W. Chandler.

It was NOT designed to crack Enigma, but to crack "Fish" a teleprinter-code used for sending strategic, rather than tactical information.

Alan Turing was NOT involved in the design of Colossus - he was in Washington DC at the time.

And, oh yes a codebook was indeed rescued from a sinking U-boat - at the cost of at leat one British life.

Put not thy trust in Wikipedia or the American notion of history. (After all, in "The Burma Story" Erroll Flynn apparently defeated the Japanese in Burma single-handed - despite the fact that no US troops fought in Burma at all).

Hell, what did Henry Ford say about history?

Perhaps more to the point is what George Santayana said...

All of this information is readily available - particularly in Hodge's magnificent biography of Turing and on Tony Sale's codeberakers' web site: http://www.codesandciphers.org.uk/

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