* Posts by MD Rackham

252 posts • joined 26 May 2007

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Wannabe Cali governor gives up against beach-blocking billionaire VC

MD Rackham

Re: Super Cali ...

It died of old age.

(It was increasingly tired over the last few years.)

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Facebook Fake News won it for Trump? That's a Zombie theory

MD Rackham

Re: Oh, not again....

If we went "with the vote of the people" we'd be discussing President-elect Hillary Clinton.

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Shhh! Shazam is always listening – even when it's been switched 'off'

MD Rackham

Re: Red light

On laptops that have an LED indicator to show that the camera is on, clever people (pronounced "bastərds") have managed to reprogram the microcontroller to disable the indicator function. So an indicator isn't as useful as one might assume.

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No spin zone: Samsung recalls 3M EXPLODING washing machines

MD Rackham

Re: Uh oh!

Start counting down. Between 6-9 months from now the main processor board will fail in some fashion, ranging from bogus indicators to complete (literal!) melt-down of your freezer contents.

The cost of replacing the board is greater than the cost of the fridge. Samsung will not honor any warranty on it; there's always some way that it's Not Their Fault.

This is from a sample of six Samsung refrigerators from myself and friends. All six have had processor board failures. All six have been replaced by units from more reliable manufacturers.

(The ice maker usually fails around four months in.)

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Accessories to crime: Facial recog defeated by wacky paper glasses

MD Rackham

Where Can I Get...

...the ones that make you look like Milla Jovovich.

I want to get a pair for the Mrs. for her birthday. Or maybe for mine....

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Did Apple leak a photo of its new Macbook Pro in an OS update? Our survey says: Yes

MD Rackham

Re: MEH x 10

Those other laptops that attract more flies are undoubtedly more "specked".

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Apple to automatically cram macOS Sierra into Macs – 'cos that worked well for Windows 10

MD Rackham

The fact you consider the Mac Pro (Late-2013)™ to be "dildo shaped" suggests that you may have some misconceptions about how to use computers.

I would seriously suggest further investigation before attempting to use an older "cheese grater" MacPro.

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One-way Martian ticket: Pick passengers for Musk's first Mars pioneer squad

MD Rackham

Re: Journey time

If anyone actually looked at the Musk presentation data, they'd see that the 80-day transit time is the "best case" scenario with one particular Earth-Mars alignment. Worst case was 150 days, or nearly twice as long.

And all of that was in support of determining thrust and fuel requirements for the desired payload mass to Mars, which determines the size of the booster, not for the purposes of scheduling how long you need to board your cat for.

While I'm at it, he also didn't promise 100 passengers to Mars in 2022. The 2022 date is for a completely different mission to Mars (Red Dragon), and he specifically stated in the Q&A that the first test flights of his "spaceship" would have many fewer than 100 people on-board. I would expect that the first flight(s) would have 0 humans on board.

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Our Windows windows will be resizable, soooon, vows Microsoft

MD Rackham

Re: Our Windows windows will be resizable, soooon, vows Microsoft

Obligatory pedant comment pointing out that neither Smalltalk on the Alto nor Star Office featured overlapping windows. They were both tiled systems.

But the Apple visitors to PARC thought they'd seen overlapping windows so that's what they implemented, and did a rather clever job of it.

(Around the same time the AT&T Blit did have overlapping windows, but I've never heard any claim that anyone from Apple saw a Blit. And I no longer recall the exact timing of who released first. Needless to say the Blit didn't go very far.)

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IPv4 wealth redistributed

MD Rackham

Re: Remember an IPv6 numer? And not use DNS?

And when presented with one of those misconfigured DNS installations, you never have to look at, type in, or mentally compare an IP address?

This reminds me of calling tech support because your computer won't boot, and you're told to fill out a trouble ticket on their website. The high-level solution is best until it isn't there.

Human-readability of addresses isn't the most important issue (by a long shot), but it sure is annoying.

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The dev-astating truth: What's left to develop? Send in the machines

MD Rackham

Fads Come, Fads Go

Will the latest fad be the last one? (said breathlessly)

No.

Some of us remember when "goto-less programming" was going to fix everything. Sigh....

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Philando Castile death-by-cop vid mysteriously vanishes from Facebook

MD Rackham

Re: He is the 506th person to die in a police shooting this year in the Land of the FreeTM

What difference does it make where he was headed or what he does in his spare time? He could have been headed to the local fluffy-kitten sacrifice cult annual BBQ and he still wouldn't deserve to get shot for explicitly following a cops orders.

Being a cop is not terribly dangerous compared to other jobs. Being a crab fisherman is considerably more dangerous, but we don't use that as an excuse to allow crabbers to shoot people.

Having grown up around cops I can say quite confidently that most cops are racist assholes who are incredibly insecure anytime they are not 100% in control. There are some good cops out there, but they've been bullied into just going along with the rest.

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Thunder struck: Apple kills off display line

MD Rackham

ADB a Failure?

Here I am typing on a wonderful Mac II ADB-interface mechanical-switch keyboard connected to a current round Mac Pro. Works just fine, thank you, and is the best keyboard this side of a Selectric.

I have a stack of 5 more of them in the closet just in case, but I can't kill this keyboard no matter how hard I pound on the thing.

Yes, I use an ADB-to-USB converter, but still...

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Smut shaming: Anonymous fights Islamic State... with porn

MD Rackham

Too bad that...

...all of the ISIL "supporters" on Twitter are actually FBI agents trolling for marks for the next sting operation.

And those FBI boys like their pron almost as much as the Secret Service guys.

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SpaceX winning streak meets explosive end

MD Rackham

Re: RUD

I'm sure the EUTELSAT folks will be surprised that SpaceX is "taxpayer funded", considering that they paid $60 million+ for the launch of their satellites.

Or does receiving government contracts for one thing mean that everything else you do is "taxpayer funded"?

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Apple quietly launches next-gen encrypted file system

MD Rackham

Re: Next-gen?

Since case-insensitive is the default setting for HFS+, what is it that you think makes it "not work (properly)"? Locale handling? Honest question.

Yes, there are issues with HFS+, mostly just showing its age. Not sure anyone is going to argue with you there. But whatever follows it is sort of by definition the "next-gen," at least for Apple.

ZFS appeared to get canceled by Apple's legal department, not because of technical issues.

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MD Rackham
Coat

Re: Adobe

Since we talking about case sensitivity, it's "Xcode", not "XCode".

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Broadcom sues Sony over MPEG, wireless etc patents in PlayStation 4

MD Rackham

Re: This is why we cant have nice things

But there is no evidence in this article that Broadcom is abusing patents via submarining or patenting the obvious. These 10 patents are well known and widely licensed and, as the article noted, were previously licensed by Sony.

It's possible that it's an oversight on Sony's part, but if Broadcom has really contacted them then an oversight could have been quickly remedied. More likely Sony is using their lawyers to try to cut a better licensing deal as part of a settlement. ("Well, you could continue this expensive patent litigation for a few more years, or we could just license the patents for 10% of what we were previously paying. Your choice.")

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Tivo's new owner ponders binning its own boxes

MD Rackham

Re: I always feared the worst

Yes, Macrovision. The company that used to provide "copy protection" for VHS tapes.

Utterly unrelated to Macromedia, which is why they have different names.

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Engine warning light appears on Uber's $100m driver settlement

MD Rackham

Re: Picking a Future

Using the phrase "dependent on taxpayer dollars" is what is known as a "tell."

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MD Rackham

Re: Picking a Future

These issues have been voted on: in Congress, which determines the labor laws.

It's just that Uber chooses to ignore those laws and objects to being called on it. And it's the judges and juries who have the task of doing something about it. That's the way the system is set up, and there is nothing special about Uber that exempts them from the process.

If you want to have some kind of voice in it, get Congress to change the laws. Uber is certainly spending a lot of lobbying money on that effort, perhaps you joining their effort will make a difference.

As for me, I'm not likely to expend much effort at ensuring my right to be someone's serf.

And as for the awful thought that Uber might be forced to comply with labor laws and thence go out of business: boo fucking hoo.

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Western Digital to axe 507 California staffers

MD Rackham

Re: Boom-bust

Back in the late 80s I hired a guy as a software development manager whose previous experience was as a rocket nozzle designer. Laid off in 1971 as part of the Apollo wind-down (Orange County/Long Beach designed and built a lot of the Saturn series rockets). But he recognized software was where it was at (back in those days, anyway) and moved on. Had some good stories relating to hypergolic fuel accidents. (Do not put ear to engine when you hear an unexpected hissing if the fuel is unsymmetric-dimethylhydrazine.)

Great guy, successful hire.

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Should space be a biz-free zone? Join us on June 22 to find out

MD Rackham

Re: Business is the only decent part of modern civilization

Wow. Somebody's been drinking the Kool-Aid.

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US work visas for international tech talent? 'If Donald Trump is elected all bets are off'

MD Rackham

Re: Good for competition?

There is no shortage of qualified IT personnel in the US. It's all a product of wanting to pay very low salaries and not even interview people over 40.

Hire some "olds" (i.e., experienced workers) and raise salaries to attract more people and the problem is solved with local talent.

I pay well over the market and am always amazed at the quality of applicants I get. The extra salary expense is easily recouped from having extremely low turnover, thus little downtime getting new hires up to speed. But then, as a private company, I'm allowed to think beyond the current quarter.

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Apple, AT&T, Verizon named in $7bn VoIP patent claim

MD Rackham

Voip-Pal?

The Voip-Pal patent went snicker-snack, I guess.

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Web site admins: Brace for weekend traffic surges from iOS devices

MD Rackham

What is the purpose...3

...of applying perspective to the chart?

Does distorting the values accomplish some useful purpose?

Or does someone fancy themselves an artist? If so, think again.

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Reskilling to become a devops dude could net you $105k+

MD Rackham

The cost

Of course, to acquire that increase in salary, you'll have to become comfortable using terms like "reskilling."

In other words, at the cost of your immortal soul.

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

MD Rackham

Re: Hmm...

"and to tell Apple to fuck off when they threaten to sue because ProRes is proprietary"

You first. Let me know how your legal battle goes, and how your lawyers like their Veyrons.

And ffmpeg doesn't allow for retrieving random frames from GOP encoded codecs, making it useless for most video apps. (And the fork that does (slowly) provide for that is GPL (not LGPL) which rules it out for commercial software.)

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MD Rackham

Lots of broken apps in the future

There are a lot of video apps that rely on the QuickTime for Windows SDK to support common video formats (e.g., ProRes). If you uninstall all of QuickTime best case is the apps lose some functionality. Worst (and most common) case is that the apps will refuse to launch for lack of the DLL.

I suspect a bunch of high-end video cameras who are launching ProRes support at NAB next week will be thrilled to discover that there is no way to access their video files on Windows. No doubt Apple will be very forgiving about that ProRes license fee (ha!).

What Apple should be advising is removing the QuickTime Player app and the browser plug-in. No loss there.

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NASA prepares to unpack pump-up space podule

MD Rackham

A lost opportunity

Instead of deorbiting it and letting it burn, they should keep it nearby so that after they launch a few more for testing they can use the Candarm to twist them a bit and make space animals.

Might be a real treat for some astronaut celebrating a birthday on the ISS.

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NASA discovers black hole here on Earth – in its software budget

MD Rackham

SLS will be funded

There is little chance of Congress cutting funding for SLS in the short term. NASA doesn't even want the thing. It's all a congressional pork barrel project which certain congresspeople will protect.

I'm in favor of funding space to keep the A&D industry alive over building hanger queens like the F-35, but unless funding appears for missions that exploit the SLS heavy lift, it will end up as a white elephant after the first manned launch. And the leftovers will become lawn ornaments like the (flight ready) Saturn V's did back in the 70s.

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Surface Hub: A Howard Hughes folly, or a cunning Post It Note killer?

MD Rackham

Re: It's better than you might think.

I can't think of a bigger growth market for Microsoft to enter than the design of radial aero-engines.

Good thinking MS marketing!

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Lost in the obits: Intel's Andy Grove's great warning to Silicon Valley

MD Rackham

Re: The problem is the natural outgrowth of legislation, at least in the US.

"I believe it's the People's Job to take care of each other"

I agree. That's why the people (as in "we the people") banded together to, amongst other things, "promote the general welfare." Compare and contrast to libertarian paradises like Somalia.

[Obviously speaking American here, but most countries have something similar, in theory if not in practice.]

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MD Rackham

Re: The problem is the natural outgrowth of legislation, at least in the US.

So 1/3 of the population of the US could and probably should be working but isn't?

You're promoting child labor, aren't you?

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FAA's 'drone smash risk to aircraft' is plane crazy

MD Rackham

Hmmm...my recollection is that the original estimates of LOC (loss of orbiter and crew) were around 1 in 250. After Challenger a review put the odds at a little worse than 1 in 100. And after Columbia it was (quietly) put at around 1 in 30, hence the retirement of the Shuttle.

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Clear November in your diary: SpaceX teases first Falcon Heavy liftoff

MD Rackham

Re: Money for nothing ?

They didn't refurbish anything before test firing the returned booster.

For a paying customer, I'd expect that they'd at least run it through a car wash to get the soot off. Who wants their satellite launched on a dirty rocket?

Also, the fact that the engines don't need any refurbishment (unlike, say, the Shuttle engines) doesn't mean there aren't other parts of the booster that might need some refurb.

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Uncle Sam's boffins stumble upon battery storage holy grail

MD Rackham

Re: Sounds like marketing speak BS to me

I suspect that the thief who tries to steal a large tank of Prussian blue will be fairly easy to identify.

(Old enough to remember handling real blueprints, not diazo bluelines.)

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Science contest to get girls interested in STEM awards first prize to ... a boy

MD Rackham

Re: Alternative headline

"Do you wear tinfoil-hats to protect yourself against their feminine man-controlling mind-rays too?"

Surely you know that their man-controlling rays don't come from their minds. Likewise we men need to wear the tinfoil lower down to be fully protected.

Alternatively, you could just treat co-workers as co-workers rather than as everyday (or weekend-only) man-hating feminazis.

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Sub-atomic boffins glimpse four-pack tetraquark

MD Rackham

I have nothing against mesons, but I just don't think they should be allowed to marry.

I don't expect any such marriage would last, in any case.

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Good thing this dev quit. I'd have fired him. Out of a cannon. Into the sun

MD Rackham

Re: "reputation of being somewhat of a talented programmer."

Over many years and some painful experiences, I've learned that anyone who says "we'll create a special language" needs to be fired as quickly as possible. They've revealed that their priority is not solving the problem at hand. They are absolute poison.

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Virgin Atlantic co-pilot dazzled by laser

MD Rackham

Re: How high?

I can easily hit the power lines 2+ miles from my house using a 500mW green laser pointer held in my hand.

I've never tried hitting a plane because I've mastered the whole actions/consequences thing, plus they are already at about 15,000' by the time they're over my house.

As others have pointed out, the atmospheric backscatter makes the beam easily visible. Which is why it works so well as a star pointer, the reason I bought it in the first place. (Although I suppose some Jovian pilot may have complained when I pointed out the planet to my wife the other night.)

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iPhones clock-blocked and crocked by setting date to Jan 1, 1970

MD Rackham

Kids these days...

And to think my very first (paid) programming job was working on the "Date 74" project on a PDP-10 where all dates were going to roll over in 1974. Seems that TOPS-10 only allowed a 12-bit field for "days since 1962" in the file system.

It's fuzzy, but as I recall they stole some bits from some other field which allowed an extension to some time in the 1990s, by which time *surely* no one would still be using the system. Hah! It wasn't Compuserve's only problem, but it was one more nail in the coffin.

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MD Rackham

> You need experienced, talented programmers writing tests

Yes. But at most places I've worked you would also need to an "and cheap" to that list of qualities.

QA is a great place to not only cut personnel costs, but the testing period is a great place to steal schedule time from when the developers run late (again). Or so I'm informed by various MBAs.

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Crims unleashed IRS-stabbing malware in bid to rob 464,000 people

MD Rackham

Re: A Solution

Good thing there are no tax returns involved in collecting excise, sales, and other consumption taxes.

Sheesh. Another overly simplistic solution hiding a massive tax break for the wealthy.

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NASA charges up 18-prop electric X-plane

MD Rackham

Hybrid!

Most of what I've seen talks about actual use of this is in a hybrid configuration. Use batteries to power the motors for takeoff, then switch to conventional turbofans for cruise at which time they can also recharge the batteries.

Or use both electric motors and turbofans for takeoff. That allows the turbofans to be optimized for cruise without the high-power requirements that takeoffs currently require. The idea being improved fuel burn and less noise.

And probably coming to commuter planes a long time before you see an electric A-380.

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Lyft to drivers: Here's $12.25m, now shut up about employee rights

MD Rackham

Way too cheap

Given that an adverse ruling would put Lyft (and Uber et al) out of business, a $12.25 million settlement seems remarkably cheap.

Always nice to have confirmed that you can always buy your way out of violating the law.

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Boffins celebrate 30th anniversary of first deep examination of Uranus

MD Rackham

Re: Orbits, rings, anyone?

Really hard to insert a probe into orbit considering how fast the probe needs to go to get there in a reasonable length of time. At least Uranus has a deeper gravity well than, say, Pluto, but the probe would still need to slow down a lot for orbital capture, and that takes lots of fuel.

Anyone want to try aerobraking in an atmosphere we know so little about, all the while dodging "dark" rings?

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VW floats catalytic converter as fix for fibbing diesels

MD Rackham

Re: Ludicrous lawsuit. No tangible injury.

Germans can do no wrong, eh? Or if they do wrong, they should be left off the hook because, I don't know, they're German? No, VW has been exposed as lying cheats and need to be penalized.

You import cars, you agree to obey the rules, which have penalties attached to them. Don't want to obey the rules, don't import cars. Try to cheat instead? You pay the penalties.

The rules are very carefully specified and clear to anyone who cares to read, not "holy EPA scriptures," whatever that implies.

As for test results not matching road results: of course there is a difference. But go back and look at the phrase you chose to ignore: "significantly higher."

If you drive the car on the road and run the same basic profile as the tests, the results should be similar. Not "significantly higher."

And you might want to brush up on US legal forms if you want to understand why there are such odd-sounding things as a "prayer for relief" and an injunction against VW cheating and lying again.

(Rant back at ya)

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DevOps is no excuse for cowboy devs. Right. Let's talk Composable Infrastructure

MD Rackham

Re: Composable infrastructure?

I don't get the point of Compostable Infrastructure when all these make-some-consultant-rich buzzwords are bullshit to begin with.

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IT security is a safe job? Tell that to Norse staff laid off this week

MD Rackham

Doing the employees a favor?

Sure, lay people off after the holidays to give them plenty of opportunity to rack up the credit card charges.

Then yank the rug out from under them.

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