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* Posts by Basil Fernie

27 posts • joined 20 May 2008

Peugeot 208 GTi: The original hot hatch makes a comeback

Basil Fernie
Coat

Re: The engine

Ha! One of my automotive quadricycles has a 3-litre turbo engine and is routinely flogged. However due to proper warmup/cooldown discipline, also routine changing of oil and filters, it now has 460 000 km on clock without any tumultuous episodes in its history (I have to replace the clutch master cylinder every 100 000 or so). I will be happy to carry on to 1 million km with same, and expect the engine to last that long at least.

I like forced-aspiration two-strokes, but don't see much chance of them escaping en masse from ships' engine rooms onto the roads.

Mine's the one with the screwdriver and the universal metric in the pockets.

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OS/2 a quarter century on: Why IBM lost out and how Microsoft won

Basil Fernie
Happy

Re: OS/2 was wrong product for the time!

I have standardised on Edubuntu 12.04 for my household PCs, spanning a variety of (ancient) desktops for the juniors up to a dual-core 64-bit AMD-powered Lenovo laptop. By replacing the much-disputed Unity desktop with the well-proven, feature-rich LXDE, I have an extremely slick system idling at below 140MB (that's with several optional resident application processes), no use of swap memory, 3% of CPU time on one core and 0% on the other. For comparison, I give you the Win7 installed on the Lenovo at purchase - at idle using 736MB RAM, 14-17% total CPU usage, slow as the La Brea tarpits.

Puppy Linux I carry with me to boot onto almost anything that's in trouble. The Lupu version is based on Ubuntu, comes with LXDE, gives access to the full range of Ubuntu application repositories. TinyCore Linux runs in 18MB RAM, but needs some judicious adding of apps to be useful.

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Basil Fernie
Windows

Re: @mark 12 - MS cannot survive without its cash cows

Let's not overlook M$'s rapidly-growing wad of licensable patents, which will surely deserve listing as a cash cow soon if not already.

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Basil Fernie
Thumb Down

Re: Ballmer's biggest lie ... convert source code written for Windows to run on OS/2

Well, this relates only to 16-bit Windows libraries. For my remarks on Win32, see above.

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Basil Fernie
Meh

Sort of no API

Do not overlook the refusal of M$ to allow IBM to access the Win32 API from OS/2. The most they ever allowed was Win32s. This meant that "old" Windows applications would run happily on OS/2, but the new exciting stuff that developers were churning out for Win95 et seq wouldn't. Thus OS/2 users were denied use of newer Windows apps. Third-party efforts to work around this obstacle concentrated in a project called "Odin" which had some boff programmers but was desperately undersupported. The parallel effort in the Linux camp, "Wine", has notched up many successes and continues to thrive, allowing one to run many Windows programs almost natively on e.g. Ubuntu. This lack of extensive applications support turned many OS/2 users off the platform, yours truly included, with many regrets since OS/2 was so far ahead of anything coming out of Redmond. Even now, as I alternate between Linux and Windows 7, I hanker after what OS/2 was, and long for what the OS/2 ecosystem could have become.

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DEKATRON reborn: Full details on World's Oldest Digital Computer

Basil Fernie
Headmaster

Not only Calculators...

Before Computers there were Computors, people who did quite complex calculations on hand-driven desk-top calculating machines for the purposes of statistical or numerical analysis. I had to clarify the distinction during the entrance interview for my first graduate employment opportunity before answering my new boss' question "Do you know what a computuh is?"

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Basil Fernie
FAIL

Re: Back in the day - quite so

Two typos, actually.

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EU approves push to get the unknown security in ARM chips into use

Basil Fernie
Trollface

Change of subject

Nobody thinking of the potential of this move to very-embarrass M$ with its UEFI-based strategy for suffocating Linux-on-ARM?

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Microsoft unfurls patent lasso, snares Linux servers

Basil Fernie
Unhappy

The elephant in the room...

... is all the other patents that M$ are getting very cheap access to in these cross-licensing deals. Effectively monopolising or neutralising a lot of potential competition - and being paid for it! Doubt if there's any effective legislation against this tactic, so it could be very effective over the years.

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Samsung plunges $500k into Linux Foundation

Basil Fernie
Holmes

If it looks like EEE, and it smells like EEE...

Just collect a couple of straws and see which way the wind is blowing.

Do not wonder, nor rejoice, that M$ is "embracing" Linux.

Do not wonder, nor rejoice, if M$ is "extending" Linux. How long would it take an M$ skunkworx project to produce a "Winux" kernel, given the amount of exposure their brightest and best are now getting to Linux?

Do not wonder, nor bemoan, that M$ is limiting OS access to future ARM devices coming from h/w manufacturers who desire to be able to provide Win8 et seq on their products. This is merely a subtle tweak on how they established MS-DOS dominance, followed by Windows dominance, in a passive market-place. It is a transition stage from Windows to Winux, while fellow-traveller Intel migrates towards the enormous ARM market.

The 3rd "E"? Not "Extinguish" nor "Eliminate" this time, but "Engulf". Closest M$ will get to admitting superiority of Linux.

We are staring at a future with no OSS distros able to run on the vast majority of ARM-based devices (an order more numerous than desktops) without M$'s say-so - unless a very major ARM user steps up, secures its own chipfab capacity, buys a major voice in the councils of Linux - and squares off for a knock-down, drag-out confrontation with the Evil Empire.

Recognise Samsung?

Of many interesting questions arising out of this scenario, just one: which way will AMD swing?

And a comment: Red Hat certainly seems to have picked up the windshift; this may have bought them another 5-10 years of independent existence before integration into M$.

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Ten... freeware gems for new PCs

Basil Fernie
Thumb Up

Re: IrfanView?

Since M$ dropped proper thumbnails in Win7, IrfanView with its Thumbnails has pretty well supplanted The Gimp on my systems.

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Wyse words mate

Basil Fernie
Troll

Who's saving the energy? Who's paying for it?

Doesn't this kind of operation just shift energy costs from the enduser to the network/server/cloud, by enormously increasing the amount of data to be held/organised/transmitted (2 minutes to d/l Word for example)? Typical example of outsourcing costs, byte-shuffling (would have been paper-shuffling a few decades ago).

Anyone who can produce references to studies comparing energy usage under different paradigms (thick client, thin client, etc)? With, of course, comparable-tech hardware in the clients - I read somewhere recently of a CPU that's using just one (1) watt...

Not denying the management advantages. But the great strategic advantage of the thin/partly dumb client is the strangle-hold the cloud gives to software providers in particular to make sure they get paid for their software by providing it via SaaS, at the expense of the user, competing alternatives being much decreased.

Again, I enquire, have any suitably cynical TCO studies been published?

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Why we love to hate Microsoft

Basil Fernie
Grenade

jake @ Number6

"IBM shut down OS/2, not M$"?

IBM was cowering on its knees before a sawn-off double-barreled Windows-tax shotgun. Either IBM stopped bundling OS/2 (even uninstalled) with its systems, and then eventually even selling, finally supporting OS/2, or else M$ would price OEM Windows to IBM at a level that would make it virtually impossible to sell an IBM PC or laptop with Windows (which quite a lot of people did want to buy) at a vaguely competitive price. Either IBM strangled OS/2, or M$ would strangle IBM in the PC market.

Like a man caught in a bear trap, IBM eventually amputated its PC leg totally for the sake of survival.

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Adobe Reader vuln hit with unusually advanced attack

Basil Fernie
Linux

... but doesn't it also execute the bad stuff?

I use it, I like it - but as an Adobe Reader workalike, doesn't it have much the same security holes?

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Ellison: Sunacle is an IBM killer

Basil Fernie

MySQL?

I don't think it has an Orasun.

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VMware plots world data centre domination

Basil Fernie

"Microsoft provided a good basic and cheap operating system for IBM PCs"

Good: Technically NO - compare IBM's PC-DOS which was supposed to be a rebadged MS-DOS but usually worked a lot better due to IBM applying its own standards

Ethically NO - It was imposed on hardware suppliers by M$'s infamous obligatory licensing deals which gave end-users the choice between using a bad, already-paid-for-and-installed OS used by umpteen gazillion other dupes who couldn't possibly be mistaken, or shelling out a few bucks for someone else's OS that Worked Much Better. If you wanted to sell MS-DOS with your branded PC, you had to sell it with ALL your branded PCs, whether the customer wanted MS-DOS or not (and many didn't but fell into the trap nevertheless).

Basic: More like primitive, compared to even the 8-bit standard, CP/M. Remember M$ bought and rehashed QDOS (Quick & Dirty Operating System) to make, voila, MS-DOS.

Cheap: NO. Digital Research's DR-DOS was more then 50% cheaper and worked 5 times better.

Similar comments apply to Windows. Anyone want to join in a class-action suit against M$ for retarding the PC revolution by 5-10 years? And that is unlike VMware, read Candler.

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Dear Obama: Please consider open-source a waste of your time

Basil Fernie
Coat

Before getting heated about Ted...

do some bio checking. Latest I read, is that he is an intern at Google. An Oompah-Loompah - with a very limited metaphor domain?

One wonders if he is aware what platform Google relies so extensively on to run its enormous operations. Surely he is! Therefore this piece is either an expression of massive, possibly treasonable, dissatisfaction with his management's choices - projected away from his own environment onto a governmental backdrop - or more likely it is a cunning piece of GoogleFUD designed to avert possible competitors to the Googlopoly away from stable low-cost OSS platforms and to keep the great unwashed mob of M$-developer/support slaves happily employed for the nonce, therefore not pressing yearning eyeballs against the ports of the chocolate factory and endangering TD's sweet employment terms.

If the latter, watch this space for the soon announcement of a Google-cloud-based national medical records system. What an ideal diversification/extension of their current technology! For the cheque-signer, tried and tested database/search facilities, low costs, comparatively little or no retraining, numerous 24x7 support personnel. For the Oompah-Loompahs, guaranteed job security for at least a decade.

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Axon 100mpg car gallery

Basil Fernie
Black Helicopters

@Whoa, suh-WEE

Not so different that William Randolph Hearst and the duPont boys didn't manage to get the industrial crop outlawed in 1937 on grounds of being the source of the cannabis scourge when there weren't no such thing yet... Do try growing your next month's supply of gas-tank filler raw material in your back lot, and check whether the ensuing DEA guys aren't reporting to somebody from the petrochemical industry.

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Hadron boffins: Our meddling will not destroy universe

Basil Fernie

@Neil Charles

"If this all ends in a big smoking crater on the border of France, I'll be looking to blame the Romulans"

At least you can't blame my ancestors. They left there (the village of Ferney, latterly called Ferney-Voltaire after some author) about 900 years ago.

Prescient?

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Windows XP crashes out of Olympics?

Basil Fernie
Go

@ac: Where oh where has my OS/2 gone?

To eCS ("eComStation"), alive and well and stable and available from www.mensys.com. Try it.

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COBOL thwarts California's Governator

Basil Fernie

@wayne tavitt

Isn't that the point?..

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File system killer leads police to wife's bones

Basil Fernie
Gates Horns

@Yuck. Sickening.

Much worse, I (and many others) run an OSfrom a man who duped most of the using world, in the process making himself open to charges ofhigh treason (remember the US Navy frigate/destroyer that wallowed dead in the water because M$ wanted it to rely on NT?)

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South African survives exploding fridge attack

Basil Fernie
Thumb Down

Unfortunately,

spoiling a good story is tha fact that there is no Pretoria Times newspaper. We have a Pretoria News and a Sunday Times (actually from Johannesburg, but still). So which was it, assuming there was indeed such a story? My vote goes to the more sensationalist Sunday Times. Nothing ever happens in Pretoria.

Regarding Yanks: according to the latest TV ad, they think South Africa is somewhere in Mexico, so they probably would not be able to distinguish between Pretoria and Johannesburg. Suspicion thus falls on a Yank journalist trying to generate a few more column-inches. Ashlee Vance?

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9/11 an inside job, says Irish pop folkster

Basil Fernie
Unhappy

2 Morrow

Concrete not good for high tower blocks? Let the MIT experts quoted in the Scientific American article speak:

"One audience member asked the assembled experts whether a reinforced concrete skyscraper such as the current height record-holder, the 452-meter Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, would have better resisted a collision with a fuel-filled airliner. Their response indicated that a concrete structure would have probably lasted for a couple of more hours than did the steel World Trade Center towers."

Possibly discredits Morrow? A very interesting article it is, although to my mind strong on theorising and short on fact. Nevertheless recommended reading. Let's look at the main facts that do emerge:

'The huge inner and outer rectangular tubes "needed to be protected to maintain their structural integrity, so the floors acted as reinforcing diaphragms or bulkheads [the term used in shipbuilding]," said panel member Jerome Connor, professor of civil and environmental engineering at M.I.T. The office floors, which each comprised a 35- to 60-foot clear span from the core to the exterior grid, were panelized structural members supported by open web joists with steel decks above them, he said. The horizontal truss struts, bolted and welded to the exterior grid and the core column structures, included viscoelastic stringers that provided increased damping to help make the structure less lively in the wind, according to Connor. Each steel floor deck was covered with four inches of concrete. "With almost an acre of area for each floor and figuring about 100 pounds per square foot of area," he estimated that "each floor system weighed about 3,200,000 pounds."'

If 1sq ft of deck N+1 weighing 100lbs lands flat on 1sq ft of deck N from a height of 10 ft, does it punch its way through deck N? Not likely.

If 1600 tons of deck N+1 lands flat, more or less equally distributed, on deck N from a height of 10 feet, does it punch its way through deck N? No, hardly. Will it break the joints of the open web truss struts of deck N to the exterior grid and the core column structures, so that decks N+1, N, N-1,... slide acceleratingly down the core and inside the exterior grid? Maybe, but then one expects to see the main vertical core members and perhaps the exterior grid too left stark and forlorn against the skyline, but substantially intact, with a large pile of rubble largely contained at the bottom of the box. Not what I remember seeing!

Of course, the sudden arrival of 150 000 tons of soon-to-be-rubble at the bottom of the rectangular pipe could force the outer grid apart near its base precipitating the collapse of the frame, but that would have been awesomely Titanic-like (in reverse, of course). Again not what I remember seeing!

One wonders whether those bracing wires needed for the demolition experts weren't adequately proxied by the panelized structural members and the visco-elastic stringers.

Disingenuously, one expert, Eduardo Kausel, 'addressed the oft-asked question of why the towers did not tip over like a falling tree. "A tree is solid, whereas building is mostly air or empty space; only about 10 percent is solid material. Since there is no solid stump underneath to force it to the side, the building cannot tip over. It could only collapse upon itself." ' (Anyone hear anything about the position of the centre of gravity here? Turning moments? Would you be persuaded by this argument that an open-mesh waste bin cannot tip over? Perhaps it's only true if the air is hot air.) Think about how much air and 'empty space' there is within the envelope of a tree!

But it makes for an interesting thought-experiment. Imagine a gent with chainsaw climbing up the tree and on his way sawing each branch nearly through at the joint with the trunk, so it can still carry the branch's own weight but not much more. Now imagine a lot of branches tearing free from near the top, maybe the gent cut a little too deep when he got up there, and cascading down, taking the lower branches, twigs and leaves with them. Given initial bilateral symmetry, why should the tree (=stem) tip over anyway? It would remain, standing forth proud and free from the pile of firewood at its roots. Oops, apart from the braches above the decisive level at which the branches were cut too far through. Now it's looking like a coconut palm or a prehistoric gingko. Darn, how do we get rid of that topknot?!? Aah, how about a few strategically-placed explosive charges down the length of the stem to make sure the whole lot collapses and gets turned into matchwood?

Clearly the MIT "have-a guess" session wasn't the final report, but it supplied enough material to fuel more doubt rather than douse what already was glowing.

And the 757 that hit the Pentagon must have been one of the rare swing-wing models; you know, the ones where the kamikaze pilot presses a button and then they don't damage the building left and right of the fuselage's entrance hole, nor leave their wings behind on the lawn. Much neater that way. Considerate.

Oh yes, the Pentagon. How many days did it take between impact and letting of the contract to repair? How many weeks, more likely months, does it take to prepare contract documents for a job like that? How do the two timescales compare? Having answered that, you would find it easy to state how long BEFORE impact the contract documents had to start being prepared...

Look, wherever there is politics, from the village level to the global village, there is a nasty smell. We're all used to that. This smells just the same, only more so. Much, much more.

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Ballmer eggs on Hungarian student

Basil Fernie
Stop

@M$employee, idiots

"Businesses make money, in fact they have a legal responsibility to share holders to do so" - not quite right. Businesses do sometimes lose money, to their shareholders' distress, but that in itself is not a crime. Of course, it may point to something blackguardly going on in the background, but it might be due to environmental pressures, it could well be above board (pun alert).

However, apparently in the US it is a legal requirement for publicly-owned businesses to make as much money for their shareholders as possible - a totally different challenge, and one that apparently gives carte blanche to all sorts of evil attitudes and behaviour (connection to M$ thereby established). That is legitimized greed.

Truly the NYSE (along with many others, no doubt) needs a large person with stentorian voice to bellow across the trading-floor at start and close of business each day, "The LOVE of money is the root of all evil". Inbetween which he could perhaps take a quick trip to Washington DC and repeat his message to the House of Representatives and the Senate. And whomever happens to be in the White House at the time.

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Basil Fernie
Thumb Down

@MS employee

"Businesses make money, in fact they have a legal responsibility to share holders to do so"

Not quite. Businesses that lose money do not break the law by doing that, although there may of course be some illegal behaviour behind the loss but it may all be above board (pun alert).

The problem is that (in the US, and possibly many other places now), businesses have a legal obligation to make AS MUCH money as possible for their shareholders. While this may seem like a Good Thing, it in fact encourages and appears to sanction all sorts of evil attitudes and behaviour (connection to M$ now established).

The NYSE (at the very least) needs someone with a large and solemn voice to intone across the floor, at start and close of business every day, "The LOVE of money is the root of all evil".

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Microsoft Office chief to manage Bill Gates

Basil Fernie
Black Helicopters

@Peter Gray

The cost to humanity of his "generosity" has been enormous and uncounted. By monopolizing the PC OS market by criminal (such was the verdict of the US court) tactics he set the development and utilization of the PC back, in my opinion, by between 5 and 10 years.

Hubris is never a good fountain of charity. The ethical approach is not to be found in the B-school manuals, let alone Buffett's stamping-ground of the NYSE or the USA-legal thinking of BG's father who master-minded the original Windows-licensing policies that proliferated the presence of Windows simply because few people saw the advantage of paying extra for the OS they wanted since they couldn't get a refund for the one they didn't want.

If his foundation is not benefiting M$ to a great degree, albeit indirectly, I will be amazed.

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