* Posts by Def

792 posts • joined 8 Jul 2009

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Shock: Apple patents the phone book

Def
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Prior art much?

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Revolutionary Brit-made SABRE hybrid rocket engine to burn in 2020

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My first thought was:

"2020! That's ages. :("

Then I realised how close we are to 2020 already.

Fuck I'm old. :(

But still... keep up it, RE. The future's looking shiny. :)

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Bomb-disposal robot violently disposes of Dallas cop-killer gunman

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Re: Upped the ante.

When will we see suspects armed with drones bombing the shit of civilians from a remote location?

Drones? All you need is a willing suicide bomber, a dirty nuke, and a Cessna. And you could probably rig up the Cessna to be piloted remotely. Set it off in the direction of the nearest city, and high-tail it the other way.

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Rolls-Royce reckons robot cargo ships are the future of the seas

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Re: Internet of Ships

But if you can build fully enclosed ships without any access points, you might as well build automated submarine transports. Get them into the open ocean, and submerge to a depth of 200m or so, and away you go. Fewer pirating opportunities, and no pesky weather to deal with either.

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Obi Worldphone MV1: It's striking, it's solid. Aaaand... we've run out of nice things to say

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"I had written the following..."

Good God, man, this is the Internet. You can't go around proofreading things before you post them. What the hell were you thinking?

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Lauri Love at risk of suicide if extradited to US, Brit court hears

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Yeah, really.

I don't want to live on this plant any more. ;)

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What Brexit means for you as a motorist

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Re: Passport, driving licence validity

You're all forgetting one minor point... Will UK licences and passports be valid after the UK no longer exists? I.e., when N.I. & Scotland go their separate ways...

Somehow, I doubt it.

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Body of evidence: Biometrics and YOU

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Re: Biometrics all sounds great

And that's why Biometrics should NEVER be used as a password, Which can easily be changed once it's been compromised.

Yeah, it's really scary and very worrying that so many companies and so called experts still don't get this simple point.

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Parliament takes axe to 2nd EU referendum petition

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Re: Anti-democratic?

Best two out of three? Or if the result is still not what you want, three out of five?

To be honest, this is a prime example of one of the things wrong with the democratic process. You can appeal all court decisions. Football matches aren't decided from a single penalty kick. Races are rarely one lap long (and professional competitions usually involve different qualifying heats). So why the fuck would you agree to change the entire course of multiple countries from a single vote by an uninformed population mislead by a bunch of liars?

That said, if golf matches were limited to one shot per player, you could a) fit them in during a commercial break, and b) more people might watch them. ;)

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Beautiful model to explain the universe to physicists

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Re: Lumps?

Getting one's head around the fact that we're omitting a dimension and the undulations and densities should be represented in a full 3D volume, now that's a bit harder to visualise.

I find it helps to consider the universe as a bowl of lumpy, shark infested custard. The general consistency is pretty much uniform throughout the entire bowl, only more so where there are sharks or lumps.

Or something.

Mine's the one with the medication in the right pocket.

More tea, vicar?

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Singapore Airlines 777 catches fire after engine alarm

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Re: "five have been lost"

Sometimes, Wikipedia is good.

Clearly not good enough for you to include a link... ;)

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DARPA's 'flying wing' drone inches closer to lift-off

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Re: Reinventing are we?

Three.

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'Leave EU means...' WHAT?! Britons ask Google after results declared

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Re: google search....

The referendum isn't legally binding at all.

And you don't even need an election to get out of it. You just have a couple of years of haggling with the EU trying to find a suitable exit strategy. You could even stall a bit and ask for extra time to finalise the whole thing. Ultimately though, you can just turn around and say 'yeah, we couldn't figure this out, they're acting like dicks, we'll just stay in for now'. And even if you do agree on an exit strategy, the whole shebang still has to be approved by the European Parliament.

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Musk's Tesla to buy Musk's SolarCity for US$2.8 billion

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Re: Now hang on a second ...

If you'd actually read the article, you'd know it's a share based deal. I.e., all Musk's current Solar City shares are exchanged for Tesla shares. He won't make anything on it until he sells those shares.

And no, there's no word for that - at least the word you're thinking of doesn't apply here (all of SolarCity's shareholders receive the same deal) - it happens all the time.

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Wanted: New cloudy head for UK.gov. 37 hour week, £90k salary

Def
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However, last week G-Cloud pioneer Kate Craig-Wood slammed the framework as "dying" after her company Memset had failed to win any business since 2013.

Well, even a cursory comparison of prices shows that Memset (and seriously, who "thought up" that name) prices are almost 50% higher than my current hosting company (at least for dedicated servers).

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Supercomputers in 2030: Lots of exaflops and LOTS of DRAM

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I'd say he thinks it's about performance. Which it isn't.

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Microsoft joins battery-saving browser bandwagon with Edge claims

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Re: And we trust MS testing?

I'm fairly certain (I don't have my laptop to hand to confirm this) you can specify at what level of battery Windows will automatically shut down. If I remember correctly, by default it's set to 10%.

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Man dies after UK police Taser shooting

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"a man has died following contact with police"

If you should inadvertently come into contact with the police, wash the affected areas well with soap and water. If you subsequently develop police-related symptoms such as muscle aches, superficial bruising, broken bones, or internal bleeding, seek medical advice as soon as possible.

If you suspect someone you know, or a family member has had contact with the police, avoid all unnecessary contact and treat with extreme caution. Police related ailments should be considered extremely contagious, especially among ethnic/minority members of the community.

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FFS, Twitter. It's not that hard

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Re: It's SO simple

I did so not choose that icon. wtf iOS? And wtf with the 10 minute limit?

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Re: It's SO simple

What's a tortoise?

A turtle with toes.

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Norway might insist on zero-emission vehicles by 2025

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Re: What about oil production?

Presumably Norway has a lot of hydro

Norway regularly produces more electricity than it uses. Just over 2000 KWh per year per person on average.

Approximately 3% of the total generated electricity is generated from fossil fuels (gas), while the rest is mostly hydro, geothermal, and wind. What they try not to tell you, however, is that a lot of the nice clean energy is exported and sold at a higher price (mostly to Sweden, I believe) and cheaper electricity from fossil fuels is imported to make up the difference.

As far as electric vehicles are concerned, 29% of new cars (Feb 2016) are electric. We currently have 27 Tesla Supercharger stations (which are free to use), and most towns (including the village of 3800 people I live in) have free charging points in car parks.

My next car will be electric. Either when the price of Diesel reaches 15kr/l (it was around 11kr/l this morning) or when the wheels fall off my current car.

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Windows 7, Server 2008 'Convenience' update is anything but – it breaks VMware networking

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Re: I am not surprised at anything MS do anymore

I don't think you can really blame Microsoft here. At least not where VMWare are concerned.

I bought one of VMWare's products (might have been Fusion, I can't remember) for Mac OSX a few years ago. Everything was working fine until I upgraded OSX. That update killed my virtual machines. VMWare's response? Buy the latest version. So fuck them. I'll never buy anything from them ever again.

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Leak: Euro Patent Office 'court of appeals' rails against King Battistelli

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Re: How does one spell...

If I had a vote, I'd vote El Presidente out immediately and call for form. Oh, but wait: the EU isn't a democracy ;-)

I guess you could always write to your local MEP. You know, the one you voted for in the last European elections, remember? ;)

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More than half of people on UK counter-terror biometrics databases are innocent

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...more than half of people on British counter-terrorism databases are innocent.

Innocent of what?

(Bonus points if you can name the rather excellent film that particular quote comes from. And even if you can't, happy beerday anyway.) :)

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Twitter expands beyond 140 characters

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Re: Please, don't break it.

...and encourages smart... writing.

When its users start feeling encouraged then, I might be persuaded to check it out. Until then, however, I think I'll just carry on ignoring it.

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Google to kill passwords on Android, replace 'em with 'trust scores'

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Re: Once again...

Biometrics used as passwords are, in general, a bad idea. They're not secret, they're not revocable and they're not precise.

Exactly. Biometric data should be the login ID and confirmed with a password.

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Queen's Speech: Ministers, release the spaceplanes!*

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Re: In the light of recent revelations...

...talking to plants (although Mythbusters showed that there may be an effect here...

I don't usually put too much stock in anything Mythbusters says.

But I've always thought of talking to plants as basically bathing them in CO2 rich air. As long as you haven't been chowing on too many onions and garlic, I would expect there to be some benefit over time.

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Opera claims 50 per cent power savings with browser update

Def
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Re: Opera puts me to sleep too

If you blink really quickly, you'll save power and your browsing experience wouldn't lose a dimension.

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Paying a PoS*, USA? Your chip-and-PIN means your money's safer...

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Norwegian banks introduced the first EFTPOS terminals (and the debit cards to use in them) to shops in 1991. While I wasn't in the country back then, from what I understand they were verified with PIN codes 25 years ago.

On a related note, most Norwegians I know laugh when they hear that cheques are still used in other countries. I've been here 11 years and cheque books were a distant memory for Norwegians even back then.

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Re: luxury!

In the UK, hot and cold water is still delivered to the taps in separate pipes

I think you'll find hot and cold water is delivered in separate pipes all over the world. ;)

But I know what you meant. There's actually a very good (semi-historical) reason for that.

In most UK houses (older houses certainly, I'm not sure how it's done now) the hot water heater is fed from a cold water storage tank in the roof, which in turn is fed from the mains pipe opened and closed through a ballcock similar to the average toilet. (I.e., the surface of the water when the tank is full is below the pipe feeding it.) The tank in the roof also feeds all other cold water taps in the house except for the kitchen sink which is supplied straight from the mains (and is the only cold water tap you can safely drink from).

This arrangement means that the water pressure, at least in the kitchen, is usually different between hot and cold taps, so installing a mixer tap could potentially allow cold water to push back into the water heater if the mains pressure was sufficiently high, ultimately flooding the house from the roof down - although that's probably quite rare given that the tank in the roof will have an overflow pipe leading outside the house. It's usually safe to installer mixers in all other rooms - unless they too are fed directly from the mains.

Setting up the pipes like this ensures every household has a small, clean supply of both hot and cold water in case of a burst water main, and also that if the mains pressure does drop opening a tap doesn't allow contaminated water (from whatever source of contamination) to feed back into the mains (thus spreading the contamination further).

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Jaron Lanier: Big Tech is worse than Big Oil

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Black Helicopters

...the Patent Office and the FCC are now aligned with Google, and in both cases populated by former Google employees.

It's almost like the Scientology takeover of other US government agencies back in the 60 and 70s.

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The web is DOOM'd: Average page now as big as id's DOS classic

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Re: Lazy Devs

Yeah, there's a lot more I can do.

I'm too lazy though. ;) *duck*

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Re: Lazy Devs

Think I'm the last of a dying breed...

Second to last. The front page for my company's website weighs in at 74KB. And 10KB of that is CSS that I really do need to trim down.

The laziness of web developers isn't a new thing, and it isn't a new trend in development in general either. 95% of developers have always been lazy. Most just don't understand the concepts of optimisation, the rest don't care. I've always been pushing others to think about what the consequences of their choice of algorithm or implementation might be. Minimising network traffic is no different to maximising cache usage, fully utilising all those cores, minimising memory fragmentation, or reducing pipeline stalls.

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Uninstall QuickTime for Windows: Apple will not patch its security bugs

Def
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Re: Already Uninstalled

No, you should keep Real Player. I think it could turn out to be quite handy for helping train your brain to recognise things when your eyes are burned out and you can't see any detail smaller than a barn.

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Flying Spaghetti Monster is not God, rules mortal judge

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Re: Can't We All Just Get A Long?

So why are you making life difficult for people who don't believe in what you believe in?

Because some of those people are in positions to enact laws that affect my life in a multitude of ways.

When it is illegal to brainwash children with religion; when it is illegal for laws to be passed that negatively affect certain members of society simply for thinking or acting differently; when organised religion is not legally protected from insult and/or closer scrutiny then we can talk.

Until then, I will continue to ridicule the ridiculous.

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Former Microsoft HoloLens man: It's NOT about gaming

Def
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Re: UWP

UWP

Oh dear.

How stupid.

Windows Phone is dead.

UWP is not the same as Windows Phone. Windows Phone just happens to be one of the hardware platforms that can run UWP apps. (Desktop PCs running Windows 10 are another, for example.)

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Dropping 1,000 cats from 32km: How practical is that?

Def
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White House flushes away court-ordered decryption like it was a stinky dead goldfish

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Re: How far ?

The more cynical reader might suggest the following edit:

"If they'd just kept their mass data collection out of the media, then I'll wager no-one would even care..." ;)

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'Panama papers' came from email server hack at Mossack Fonseca

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Re: Panama canal

Dreams? Back in my day we had to make do with what we had. We used to envy people with dreams.

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Apple Fools: Times the House of Jobs went horribly awry

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Re: Newton

(the chip name predated the company by a few years - the original name was the Acorn RISC Machine)

The original ARM processor development started in October 1983, with the first test hardware produced in April 1985. ARM Holdings (when Apple became involved) was incorporated in 1990.

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Furious English villagers force council climbdown over Satan's stone booty

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Re: Of course I haven't looked for any photos

https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@51.9352709,-0.7172309,3a,75y,17.21h,60.53t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1soEEboxT97BCvL7oDRK3vCQ!2e0!7i13312!8i6656!5m1!1e1!6m1!1e1?hl=en

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'No regrets' says chap who felled JavaScript's Jenga tower – as devs ask: Have we forgotten how to code?

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Re: eh?

If you've got a freeform format string that could give an output of any length I'm not sure how you can get around allocating heap memory.

That's partly where my string class comes in. By allowing the programmer to specify how large the internal buffer is, you can catch 99% of cases, and only allocate when you have to. (Which is basically what most programmers do anyway: char buf[1024]; sprintf( buf, ... At least this way I don't ever have to worry about overflows.)

It's a little trickier inside signal handlers because you have to basically be 100% certain you're never going to allocate, but in these instances it's normal to just preallocate a ridiculously large static buffer (16k or so) and use that. A little truncation in such circumstances (I.e., when you're busy crashing) is acceptable, I think.

Implemeting SSL oneself however would be an order of magnitude buggier.

I know. :) I have no desire to want to do that. At least not for any current products I'm working on. That said, it might be a fun side project some time though. ;)

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Re: eh?

I suspect most of the speed up from my string formatter comes from the fact it doesn't create an in-memory file and then send character data to that file one byte at a time (which is what the MS implementation used to do). It also doesn't waste time allocating any heap memory - something else sprintf, et al. and Boost like to do far too often.

It currently supports converting format parameters between UTF8 and UTF16 depending on the destination encoding, decimal signed and unsigned (32 bit and 64 bit) integers, formatting numbers as hexadecimal or binary (believe it or not, I actually did need this once), floating point numbers (I don't think I support scientific notation) padding and alignment of both strings (padded with spaces) and numbers (padded with zeros), pointers, and UUIDs.

With regards to the float parsing, I didn't need to worry about exponents. But they're nothing special really, and could have been added with a few extra lines that wouldn't have impacted performance too much. I didn't enforce any additional restrictions. (To be honest the whole system was - still is - a fucking mess that only exists to work around deficiencies in a commercial third party library we're stuck with.)

http://pastebin.com/VRxFkt08

True, but there is a correlation between the number of people voluntarily using a library and its stability and lack of bugs. If 10s of thousands of coders from finance to aviation use a library then its a good bet it works and works well.

OpenSSL. ;)

Hero Coders are asshats. I've had to deal with enough of those over the years. Obviously I don't consider myself one, and hopefully people I work with don't either. (You'd have to ask them that though.) I do know how to program though, and I think most code I write is above average quality (which these days isn't particularly hard to be honest). I do write shit from time to time, of course, but mostly when I can't be arsed to think something through properly. :)

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Re: eh?

So don't use them. Simple.

Generally speaking I don't use them too much these days, but they do still have their uses occasionally, and when I do need them, they're available and practical to use (from a user's perspective).

backtrace()

Well done, you've successfully called a GNU extension function that returns an array of addresses. Now resolve those addresses to function names with source file information on Posix and Windows. For bonus points, do this without allocating memory so you can be safely called from a signal/exception handler.

So use Boost then.

No thanks.

"String formatting is very slow in the C library"

No it isn't. Its actually pretty quick.

No, it really isn't. My string formatter is about seven times faster than sprintf for most things, and over 20 times faster than the equivalent C++ way of formatting using stringstream. In addition, my formatter supports reordering arguments to more easily facilitate changing word order in foreign languages.

Here's a fun fact: Recently (at work) I had to optimise some code that was pulling floating point numbers from a string using stringstream. Switching to atof resulted in a 20x performance boost. Ditching atof in favour of my own float parser resulted in a further 6x performance boost for a total boost of around 120x.

Oh come on, seriously?? You don't think there are libraries out there do to everything you mentioned with UTF and more? They've been around for decades!

Name one - just one - which was around 20 years ago and is still maintained today when I started putting mine together. The Internet barely existed back then and sites like sourceforge and github certainly didn't. Should I have typed in a library from my favourite computing magazine?

...no offence - probably better because they've had lots of people work on them...

I'm fairly certain that there's no statistically significant correlation between the number of people working on something and the quality of said product. I suspect in general, the exact opposite is more likely to be true.

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Re: eh?

If thats the case then the programs you write are either utterly trivial or you've pointlessly re-written tried, tested and debugged standard functions making any maintenance coders job a nightmare and your software more than likely inefficient and full of faults at all levels.

Not at all. Let's look at some of what the C-Runtime library provides, and what I needed:

assert: No way to ignore asserts at runtime either individually or across an entire function or file. No inclusion of callstack displaying (can be useful if testers just copy and paste the assert message into a bug report - although I'll admit this was something I found more useful 20 years ago before I developed proper bug reporting systems).

math: Very old API with no built-in support for vectorised (Altivec, SSE, etc) types - or indeed any real support for vectors, matrices, quaternions, and other more complex math types. I do still use some of the math functions, but usually through their C++ counterparts.

stdio: I've generally abstracted file system access behind C++ classes that use the most appropriate platform API internally. On Windows (and Xbox) this definitely isn't the C library functions. Posix based platforms generally only have these available (and I do use them there), but they do lack functionality in places compared to Windows. String formatting is very slow in the C library (not as slow as stream formatting in C++, but I digress), which leads us to...

string: I have a quite extensive string library that allows me to (among other things) deal with UTF8 or UTF16 strings seamlessly. Most of this is wrapped up in my string class which additionally provides a template parameter to control the size of the internal buffer (so I have a LocalStr class, for example, that has a 1K internal buffer that 99% of the time doesn't use heap space when manipulating temporary strings on the stack). A lot of the functions here are the sorts of string utility functions you see in other languages these days, but some are extensions to the basic functions available in the C library. For example, I can retrieve the CharCount, the UnitCount, or the ByteCount for any string, or the projected counts when converting any string between the different Unicode formats.

In addition to the above, I also have modules for thread management, synchronisation, graphics manipulation, an entire GUI engine (mostly used for games), the basic API for my render engine, XML parsing and processing (used in Oso XML Merge), a ton of platform-specific extensions, memory management, and much much more.

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Re: eh?

Doesn't everyone have a folder they created years/months/weeks ago that contains junk functions like this?

Everyone sensible does.

My Core Framework consists of 575 files of classes and namespaced functions and forms the basis of any C++ project I work on at home. It is constantly evolving and growing, and the very first line of code dates back to some time in 1996.

As a result, I have very few dependencies to third party / open source libraries and rarely even need functions from the C-Runtime library.

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Is iOS 9.3 Apple's worst ever update? First it bricks iThings, now Safari is busted

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Re: Safari's busted?

I have a 2, a 3, and a Mini. They're all as bad as each other to be honest. Except for the 3 - they're were always terrible.

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Re: Safari's busted?

To be honest, I've had to put up with Safari crashing fairly regularly on my iPads for the last year or two at least.

And it's forever taking fag-breaks trying to work out what to do next.

Safari + iOS = Worst Browsing Experience Ever.

It used to be nice - well... I seem to recall it used to suck less.

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EU ministers to demand more data access after Brussels attacks

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Re: Not more data, better analysis

And then, they need to use that information appropriately, not keep it secret. Once again, it appears, the security services were aware of at least one of the Brussels attackers, but they didn't release that information to the people that mattered.

Isn't that exactly what this story reported ministers wanting?

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