* Posts by Mike 16

196 posts • joined 17 Jun 2009

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Law changed to allow GCHQ hacking ... just as GCHQ hauled into court for hacking

Mike 16

Read the statement carefully

"There have been no changes made to the Computer Misuse Act 1990 by the Serious Crime Act 2015 that increase or expand the ability of the intelligence agencies to carry out lawful cyber crime investigation."

Note that nothing whatever is said about increasing or expanding the ability of the intelligence agencies to carry out _un_lawful_ cyber crimes. That ability stays as high as before.

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Hordes spaff cash on Chip titchyputer to rival Pi (maybe)

Mike 16

Interesting, but

I have to wonder how large the intersection of "Folks who like to solder random electronics to GPIO pins" and "Folks who are fine with systemd and Gnome" is. I have a big enough backlog to wait until it ships and see what reality is like. It's not like doubling the price would be a deal breaker.

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Kiwi company posts job ad for Windows support scammers

Mike 16

Must have been a similar Ad

that got my bank its website developers. I swear the only clue that their email and website _may_ not be a scam is the lack of a Nigerian IP address.

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IETF updates TLS/SSL best practice guidance

Mike 16

So then, the point

is to make sure no computer from before the push to "backdoor everywhere" will be allowed to use the Internet at all. All our cat pix are now safe from Luddites who won't "upgrade" every four years.

Understood

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Bridge, ship 'n' tunnel – the Brunels' hidden Thames trip

Mike 16

I can't resist

Mentioning the role Great Eastern played in laying the Atlantic cable. Not the first one, but the one that actually worked for a while (1865).

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OMFG – Emojis are killing off traditional 'net slang

Mike 16

Re: All very well for LOLs

Here you go:

https://www.xkcd.com/380/

Note the rollover: "... for safety reasons, no font actually renders it"

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Mike 16

Re: Panic?

Time to suggest a reading assignment?

http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/index.php?s=less+fewer

or TL;DR: "Less/fewer" is one of those peeves made up by folks who like to feel superior to others, and can't be arsed to consult actual grammarians.

I strongly suspect that Corinne was having a laugh, but couldn't resist plugging the above excellent site.

As for Emoji on Instagram, I might say "Get off my lawn", but I live in California so I don't have one, and soon neither will any of my neighbors.

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Stubborn 'won't fix' Google U-turns on Chromecast vid judder twitching-eye blunder

Mike 16

TV Timing

I have begun to expect that pretty much everybody designing TV standards and interfaces was too young to have ever had a class on such things when they were in school. Sound on Film (and thus adequately synchronized sound) was demoed in the 1920s. Yet, when the U.S. networks started doing digital distribution to local stations (still analog over the air, so totally not a problem in the TV itself), I started noticing lag/lead between sound and video. Sometimes barely perceptible, but sometimes bad enough to seem like a badly dubbed film shot in another language. Doesn't SMPTE deal with this?

The "smarter" digital TVs (and some Cable company shenanigans) have only made it worse, to the point that whole sentences and associated lip movement are often completely disjoint. If they haven't even been able to claw their way back to 1923, how would you expect them to deal with 2015?

Please tell me that only the U.S., with both studios and broadcasters in a race to the bottom of the barrel, has these problems, and watching, say Dr. Who on a television in the UK, over the air, doesn't have these problems.

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

Mike 16

Re: Misplaced caution?

In the Linux case I previously mentioned, the failure mode was that every timer in the system would "fire" immediately, and keep firing, essentially locking up the scheduler. My boss had already experienced it, because we used a 1ms clock tick, rather than the default 10ms.

As for Asserts, didn't that Ariane rocket blow up for essentially that reason?

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Mike 16

Re: Common Millisecond Counter Issue

If my guess is correct, this is a combination of two problems. The first is using code like:

timeout = current_time + delta;

while ( current_time < timeout ) yield();

instead of

time_snap = current_time;

while ((current_time - time_snap) < delta) yield();

and the other is inadvertent use of signed arithmetic in there somewhere, which makes it worse.

When I started messing with Linux device drivers, I noticed the first problem in the timer code. In a Roadrunner moment, as I was asking my boss if this could still be the case, a Win95 machine next to his desk crashed in a suspiciously similar way. (the 16-bit Windows manifestation had a different deadly duration because 16bit, and roughly 18Hz) When I were a lad, the danger of the first sort of code was drilled into us. Apparently the Windows _and_ Linux folks didn't take that class, or slept through it. Now they work for Boeing.

BTW: Last time I looked, the Linux timer code had grown a dense mat of "hair" around that code, rather than fixing the underlying cause. I suspect the reason for the first implementation was the desire to save stack space (need to store both time_snap and delta), combined with ignorance of the problem.

The reason for not actually fixing it seems to be "But we've always done it this way". I haven't checked in the last six years, but would be delighted to hear they finally bit the bullet.

The usual bandaid for this sort of thing these days is just make all the time variables bigger. I can imagine Lister facing a shutdown of this sort and wondering why the coders of Holly didn't anticipate 64-bit wrap.

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Inside the guts of Nano Server, Microsoft's tiny new Cloud OS

Mike 16

Pint Sized?

I know proper Imperial Pints are a bit bigger than Colonial ones (which are based on the Wine Gallon, oh the shame), but if 400MB is "Pint Sized", I have to wonder how any of you can find your feet, let alone your shoes, after a night down at the local.

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WHY can't Silicon Valley create breakable non-breakable encryption, cry US politicians

Mike 16

Call in some theologians

Haven't they been working on the "Can God make a stone so heavy He cannot lift it" problem for a while? Time for a status report.

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The huge flaw in Moore’s Law? It's NOT a law after all

Mike 16

Applied Physics?

If that means, at Johns Hopkins, what it meant at some other places I know of, then the childhood nitroglycerin stunt may have helped him get in.

As for Chemicals Today, a teenager can still get [redacted] and [redacted], and probably even [redacted] at local shops. A friend truthfully answered his daughter's questions about such stuff (and cautioned her about the importance of small batches). With the usual "Don't tell mom", of course.

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NASA guy to White House: Be really careful with that HTTPS stuff

Mike 16

So, Instead

of the terrifying prospect of somebody, somewhere, knowing I sometimes visit static pages about such esoterica as computing history or steam engines, those sites should just disappear for want of willingness or ability to pay the right bribes to the right gate-keepers. Right.

Yes, I know "it will all get better and eventually be sorted out". A dollar for for every time I've heard _that_ from a techno-hustler and I'd be able to retire. Oh, I am retired

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LA schools want multi-million Apple refund after kids hack iPads

Mike 16

They're just upset

That the kids found out how to disable the webcam/snooping bit, that was a profit center for some district IT guy.

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All Mac owners should migrate to OS X Yosemite 10.10.3 ASAP

Mike 16

Re: It's all just OS 10

"The hardware requirements for 10.10 are no different to 10.7"

Um, the _requirements_ may not be different, if by that you mean "what those weasels who write the ad copy said", but in practice, my wife's 2011 MacBook Pro (4 GB) went from pretty darn snappy to "WTF, what is this, a 286?" in the "upgrade from 10.7 to 10.10. YMMV, certainly, but "4 Gig ought to be enough for anyone" doesn't apply to the new Vista, er, OS X.

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Building a better society from the Czechs' version of Meccano

Mike 16

Re: Metal with holes in porn...

Meh. It only looks hard, physically. The real stress is thinking "If I screw up and over-or-under-speed,

I could break something that cost more than my house".

Tim is definitely "that guy", and a heck of a nice person, too.

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Mike 16

Re: Metal with holes in porn...

BTW: The Tim Robinson Difference engine is described in detail at the link I gave. And it has also been at the Computer History Museum. Several times. Along with his other machines.

As for "Weightlifters", AFAIK, non of the DE operators lift weights regularly (Tim Robinson is one of them, BTW.).That's why there's a 4:1 reduction gear on that crank. Either Babbage slipped a decimal point in calculating the effort required, or he was expecting to go down to the docks and hire a couople of those Navvies who stroll off the ships with a hogshead on each shoulder. Well, really, the trick, at least with the reduction gear, is not making it trun at all, but making it turn at a steady speed despite varying load (both timng dependent and to a lesser extent problem dependent. No, I don't lift weights.

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Mike 16

The I.T. Angle

Tim Robinson's Meccano Computing Machinery website:

http://www.meccano.us/

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Go, daddy, go: GoDaddy shares rocket 30% in value at IPO

Mike 16

Really on the ball

Got an email from them a month or so ago saying they had disabled my account. When I contacted customer service, I was told that the credit card I had on record with them had expired. Well, yes, it had. Of course, they hadn't billed that card for anything since I left them three or four years ago. Danica may be the face of GoDaddy, but the brains are Curly, Moe, and Larry (or Shemp)

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Feds cuffed for allegedly PILFERING Silk Road drug souk's Bitcoins

Mike 16

Death from Above

Now he's in it. Warner sued one of the "rogue Atari VCS programmers" for theft of IP, having found notes on a game called "Death From Above". Seems that programmer used that name as a working title on many (most?) of his games.

Warner lost, IIRC, but it is not wise to poke the Entertainment-Industrial complex.

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

Mike 16

Re: Oh yeah, sweet memories

We set one boss's login to start a homebrew 6502 emulator, with MSFT BASIC preloaded. Of course, quitting BASIC logged him off. Another boss's custom setup added an "Are you sure?" prompt to every command, but the humor was lost on him, even when it asked of he was sure about that DIR command.

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Tennessee sues FCC: Giving cities free rein to provide their own broadband is 'unlawful'

Mike 16

The AT&T of old

I find that an interesting assertion. AT&T was not Unicorns farting Rainbows with the old AT&T, but they did fund some amazing R&D and for the most part phone service Just Worked. Come divestiture and it was the classic Race to the Bottom, which was won by companies like SBC, by the simple expedient of never spending a dime on maintenance or paying wages sufficient to keep competent folks employed. This gave them the war-chest needed to take over the better run local telcos (e.g. Pacific Bell), and eventually buy the husk of AT&T so they could rename themselves. Not that anybody with AT&T service forgets that they are actually being "Serviced By Cowboys". Cowboys who think "service" is what a bull does to a cow.

Under (the new) AT&T, I had a three day, worker-induced, service outage on my POTS landline, This was many time the total downtime I had in the previous 50 years with Pacific Bell. And those previous outages were caused by things like floods and earthquakes.

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Mature mainframe madness prints Mandlebrot fractal in TWELVE MINUTES

Mike 16

Re: Drum, chain, band or bars

Pedantry alert, two points:

1) The IBM 1443 can be added to your taxonomy, as it was sort of an oscillating comb printer. Picture a comb with glyphs on the side of the teeth, use logic like a 1403, but instead of rotating in one direction, the comb shuttles first left to right, then right to left. More complex controller logic, but transistor were getting cheaper, type-chains not so much. (And yes, I remember those embossed metal credit cards)

2) The 407 (and 1132 printer) used type wheels, not bars. You are thinking of the 403. An 1132 running full tilt sounded like a hopped-up band of tambourine players.

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Drug drone not high enough: Brit lags' copter snared on prison wire

Mike 16

Sometimes Low Tech is best

In my day, the contraband got into the prison the old fashioned way. The guards brought it in. Also, it was a career-limiting move for other guards to let on they noticed. Or a health limiting move sometimes.

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Forget viruses: Evil USB drive 'fries laptops with a power surge'

Mike 16

Prior Art

I recall a response to the lockout chip that Nintendo added when exporting the Famicom as the Nintendo Entertainment system. In theory, the base units would only play cartridges made by Nintendo. All other software providers still had to have the carts made by Nintendo. Payment (months) in advance, and if you made a game that might compete with theirs, there might be an unfortunate delay in delivery, missing the holiday gift season.

Legit game companies could do nothing but bend over and smile, but pirates simply added a little circuit like this USB-killer to fry the lockout chip.

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SIM hack scandal biz Gemalto: Everything's fine ... Security industry: No, it's really not

Mike 16

2G only?

That's OK, IIRC, one of the effects of a Stingray is to force all the phones in its vicinity to fall back to 2G.

See, Govt. agencies _can_ work together.

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Marconi: The West of England's very own Italian wireless pioneer

Mike 16

Re: Sir Oliver Lodge

So, how do you feel about "Branly Coherers"? Seems to me Lodge invented them, too.

The whole notion that the person who prevails in patent court (or gets something named for them) is the Inventor (aka Solitary Genius) is hogwash.

Meanwhile, as I can't be arsed to write another comment, I find it amusing, in a Gallows Humour way, that Strowger was trying to make "lookup" more honest by mechanizing it. Tell that to folks who have been mislead by "algoritthmic" search results, or had their ISP diddle DNS.

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Apple: Fine, we admit it – MacBook Pros suffer wonky GPU crapness

Mike 16

Re: Not the first time

Indeed. Same problem occurred with the "Dual USB iBook" and followon iBook G4. These were the last of the iBook line, being somewhat of a transition between the original "Space Clam" form factor to something a bit more corporate. Lots of discussion in the forums about DIY fixes involving hot-air guns, torches, and tea-lights.

As for the "defective solder", I have to wonder if that's just the typical crap we now are saddled with to avoid lead (and connections that have a service life over 3 years)

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Are you ready to ditch the switchboard and move to IP telephony?

Mike 16

Not to worry

As geezers who remember voice quality die off, they are replaced by young-uns who have only ever used mobiles and VOIP, so are quite used to dropouts and Dalek-voice. Of course, they have also mostly gotten used to texting rather than talking anyway. Voice communication is a losing battle. Sure, you'll see pockets of resistance, like the codgers who remember real bread and beer, but like i said, time will fix this.

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Proposed US law could deal knockout blow to FBI in overseas cloud privacy ding-dongs

Mike 16

As Perry Mason would say

"Objection! Assumes facts not in evidence".

Specifically the assumption that US LEAs give a shit about obeying the law themselves.

Or should I go with the New Orleans madam in regard to outlawing prostitution:

"They can make it illegal, but they'll never make it unpopular".

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Now Samsung's spying smart TVs insert ADS in YOUR OWN movies

Mike 16

Register Pot, meet Samsung Kettle

As has been happening more and more lately, this article was partially obscured by an ad (served by Google, allegedly) that could not be closed. The little 'X' box just swapped out the ad for a "tell us why you don't like this", but clicking "ad covers page" just restored the previous state.

Tend to the beam in thine own eye, Reg.

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Kill Facebook's creepy on-by-default Yelp 'killer' Place Tips – your guide

Mike 16

the app won't broadcast your location on the news feed

Yet.

FTFY.

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2014 in infosec: Spammers sneak small botnets under the wire, Java is dull

Mike 16

Silverlight

Doesn't Netflix still default to Silverlight? Not that anybody would ever think of targeting Netflix users, but unlike Java plugins that (as noted above) are typically disabled, I'd expect that Silverlight is enabled by default on a lot of computers.

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Latest menace to internet economy: Gators EATING all the PUSSIES

Mike 16

IP infringement

The snake hasn't a leg to stand on.

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Mr President, is this a war on hackers – or a war on people stopping hackers?

Mike 16

Crackers

Are something else in the US. Most of them are Republicans these days.

As for "racketering", that's an all-purpose enhancement to strip the defendant (even in a civil suit) of anything they might use to hire a lawyer.

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BAN email footers – they WASTE my INK, wails Ctrl+P MP

Mike 16

Re: Seikosha GP-80

Thank you! I saw (heard) that shrieking wonder at a CES in the 80s, and nobody seems to believe me when I tell them about it. "Surely nobody would be so daft!".

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Mock choc shock: 3D candy printer is good news for sweet-toothed swingbellies

Mike 16

Typical time to market for 3D Printing

I recall reading of an IBM "wax spitter" rapid-prototyping system which printed a nice IBM logo in chocolate, over 15 years ago. Of course, I remember capability-based operating systems and usable, context-sensitive help systems for computers back in the 1970s as well. I guess the developers that will bring them to market are still backlogged on the flying cars.

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Alien Earths are out there: Our home is not 'unique'

Mike 16

Re: The final step

"God does not place dice with the Universe" - Einstein

"He does, however, enjoy Billiards" - Velikovsky

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Kodak fires a Bullitt at oldsters with 3G mobe launch

Mike 16

Getting pics off the phone

Has become more difficult with every generation, at least from Verizon. At first one could mount the phone as a USB drive and just copy them off. Next model required a not-so-functional "special" app. Next one disabled USB access entirely (to come back with the iPhone/iTunes, see "not-so-functional special app"), but forgot to hobble Bluetooth OBEX. Then they "fixed" that. There is no technical reason to make it that hard. Just making sure you pay for every pixel and the TLAs see every pic.

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Ghosts of Christmas Past: The long-ago geek gifts that made us what we are

Mike 16

A serious Meccano addiction

can lead to http://www.meccano.us/

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FCC to smack Sprint with $105m fine over 'cramming' – report

Mike 16

Not surprised

Back in the day (80's or 90's) my employer's Telcom manager caught them loading up our bill with bogus long-distance charges. I guess they hadn't noticed that some of the new PBXs logged all calls.

Of course, they promptly removed the offending charges. I still have to wonder what happened to other customers with less-paranoid managers.

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FCC says taxpayer-bankrolled bumpkin broadband must be at least 10Mbps

Mike 16

10Mbps?

Is that actual, measurable, consistent 10Mbps, or Comcast-style "Up to 10Mbps" which is more of a "speed of light" (guaranteed not to exceed) number? I have very rarely seen more than half the claimed bandwidth from Comcast, and never for more than a few seconds.

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This week it rained in San Francisco and the power immediately blew out. Your tech utopia

Mike 16

NO CONSERVATIVES?

Then who passed Prop 8?

And who keeps Prop 13, the "move all property tax burden from businesses to homeowners" rule alive? Incidentally also the "funnel all taxes, even local ones, through Sacramento where they can be 'carefully vetted' i.e. skimmed and doled out to friends and family" rule.

OK, the "Make college so crappy/expensive that diploma mills funded by enormous student loans look good" plan is partly driven by DiFi's hubby, but to think Big Ag, banks, and megacorps don't have the dominant power here is nuts. Well, them and the prison-guard union. Yeah, shameless Liberals, right?

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DNA egghead James Watson sells Nobel prize for $4.8m, gets it back

Mike 16

Re: Interesting case.

Perhaps if you read more detailed history about that time you would have a more nuanced view. Most of what we get in school is based on propaganda from the protestant princes who were miffed at the pope meddling in their right to subjugate their own people. Not that the pope's hand were clean, but essentially, this was a power struggle and truth was the first victim as usual (followed by masses of peasants, of course). Much like the "political correctness" cudgel is so readily deployed in the battle against "people who don't vote (or look) like me". Well, one side of that battle. The other side uses the "Evil Corporations" cudgel.

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Mom and daughter SUE Comcast for 'smuggling' public Wi-Fi hotspot into their home

Mike 16

Re: CAn't see this doing too well in court.

It would be fascinating to see the software update that would enable WiFi on my cable modem, since it has no physical radios. Not to say that Comcast are either devils or saints (does that cover my ass libel-wise?), but using their router, rather than just their modem, has been a very bad idea for a very long time.

(Yes, I am aware of the hacks to play music over AM radios by carefully orchestrated access to core memories, back in the day, but that was Tx only, and the bandwidth was very low, even by Comcast standards)

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Plusnet customers SWAMPED by spam but BT-owned ISP dismisses data breach claims

Mike 16

At least they have a complaint process

that can be used electronically. When Adobe gave my custom email address to a pron-spammer, less than an hour after I registered one of their products, I found that the only way to file a complaint was via paper mail sent to a legal firm care of a P.O. Box in Los Angeles, Note that when faced with this sort of thing it is recommended to send such mail "Certified, return-receipt-requested" or it will somehow be lost in transit, unlike the tsunami of physical spam I regularly receive. Clearly the Post Office is much more careful with Bulk mail than first-class.

Of course, I have no doubt Plusnet simply ignores complaints, but Adobe makes it abundantly clear up front that they do not want to hear from you about anything, now that the payment has cleared.

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UK computing museum starts reboot of 65-year-old EDSAC

Mike 16

Re: Symbolic machine code

> Neither EDSAC nor Argus had floating point hardware, so for science and engineering calculations you had to understand scaled fraction arithmetic. Not many people did.

Not many people understand floating point to this day, but that doesn't stop them from programming stuff that depends on that understanding. Von Neumann considered F.P. suspect, at least initially, and his similar dismissal of "computing" "random numbers" is oddly apt today, as such things as the gaffed eliptic curves are made known.

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Bada-Bing! Mozilla flips Firefox to YAHOO! for search

Mike 16

Blekko?

Has nobody else noticed that there actually exist "search engines" that are neither Google nor Bing under the hood? Wake up, Mr. Van Winkle.

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Super-villains of C sought for WORLD CONQUEST plan

Mike 16

Execute floats?

One of the neat features of the (several) Fortran compilers for the CDC6600 was "backgrounding" of otherwise un-initialized memory to words that were all of:

Instruction to HALT

Illegal floating-point values

indicators of their address.

So attempting to execute them or use them in floating point operations would generally "come to the attention" of the system, and help to deduce where it went off the rails.

Of course, there is nothing in the C standards that prohibits (somewhat more) typesafe or boundary-checked implementations of C, but the vast majority of implementations allow, if not actually promote, unsafe behavior in the interest of "portability" or "legacy code".

It doesn't help that (less now than a few decades ago), the use of C by talented and careful folks to build impressive software led to a "I'm using C, I must be a Code Ninja" attitude among the willfully ignorant of things like "design first, code later"

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