* Posts by Primus Secundus Tertius

467 posts • joined 31 Oct 2010

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Bloke in Belgium tries to trademark Je Suis Charlie slogan

Primus Secundus Tertius
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Pint

Re: Pills.

I am a bit of a Pilsner myself.

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Latest NORKS Linux and Android distros leak

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Big Download

The download mentioned in the article has a truly throttled server. 2.4GBytes took more than 9 hours.

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Boffins open 'space travel bureau': Come relax on exoplanet Kepler-16b, says NASA

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Am I dense?

The articles describes HD 40307g as "twice the volume" and "eight times the Earth's mass". That would make it four times as dense, or about 20 tonnes/cubic metre. Solid gold or platinum, perhaps?

Perhaps it should have said "twice the radius".

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Erik Meijer: AGILE must be destroyed, once and for all

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Re: Blaming the tools...

@Phil

Quite so. That is why bad programmers become the managers.

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Prez Obama slaps sanctions on Norks in payback for Sony hack

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Who did the dirty Ddos?

"Today's actions are the first aspect of our response".

That means they deny being the cause of the NK internet Ddos in late December.

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Cops think Mt Gox meltdown was an 'INSIDE JOB' – report

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Re: @AC

But do you remember Harold Wilson (*) saying in 1967 "this will not affect the value of the pound in your pocket"?

(*)British Prime Minister 1964-70 and 1974-76. Devalued the pound in 1967 from $2.80 to $2.40. Currently £1 = $1.56, approx. In August 1939, £1=$4 near enough.

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UK.gov: Sod SIGINT, let's turn GCHQ into a TECH CRECHE

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Cut the payroll

The impression has always been given that many of the people most useful to MI6 work for newspapers or TV companies, thus reducing the government salaries bill. I suspect these proposed shenanigans with GCHQ are another governemnt beancounter ploy.

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The Reg's review of 2014: Naked JLaw selfies, Uber and monkey madness

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Re: 10 page spread

Well said.

To El Reg: bring back the print formst button.

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Freedom of Info at 10: Tony Blair's WORST NIGHTMARE

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Which law?

Blair wrote.

"You idiot. You naive, foolish, irresponsible nincompoop," Blair wrote of himself in his autobiography A Journey last year, recalling his adoption of the law, which took effect in 2005. "There is really no description of stupidity, no matter how vivid, that is adequate. I quake at the imbecility of it."

He could equally have been writing about the Yuman Rights Act passed by his Labour government.

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Buses? PAH. Begone with your filthy peasant-wagons

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Buses are slow

When I used to cycle to school, we boasted of slipstreaming the buses. Sometimes they were too fast for us, but not often.

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Re: Jolly Joseph

@James O'Shea

A wonderful comment! El Reg at its best, where the comment is worth more than the original article.

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Blind justice: Google lawsuit silences elected state prosecutor

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Re: I haven't read everything about this but...

As they traditionally say -- American justice, the best that money can buy.

(But, to be fair, not only in America.)

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Norks' internet goes TITSUP in possible DDoS attack

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Users little affected

Few ordinary North Koreans will be affected by these problems, as so few have Internet access.

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Sneaky Russian hackers slurped $15 MILLION from banks

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Devil

Poor English

The PDF report is written in poor English.

Have I compromised my own machine by downloading and reading it (despite not using Adobe PDF-ware)?

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UK air traffic bods deny they 'skimped' on IT investment after server mega-fail

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Re: Bad Data Input/High System Utilisation.

@The Mole

You are right that a complete record must have that validity between fields that goes beyond checking for zero, not letter 'O'. (And date formats need to be enforced, essential fields must not be omitted...) But each field has to be validated first, which an XML schema can do. The next stage needs a program.

The kind of Excel input I was discussing can do that, of course. So can whatever program is on the receiving end after it has used a library function to capture the XML into a record in C, COBOL, or whatever.

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Re: Bad Data Input/High System Utilisation.

@SD3

Some organisations use XML for data transfers internally or with suppliers and customers. The XML must be declared valid against a pubished schema, and that can be written into a contract. It should cope with the kind of input errors that you describe.

No, people don't write XML, software does. Excel can be provided with a template, designed by an XML guru, so you type in to a sensible form that will bellyache if you get it wrong, and then export the rigorous data.

Or so I understand. I have experimented with XML but not used it for real.

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Joke

Re: "Old" works for me

There was a young man with a drone

Who thought that the sky was his own

Till it flew in the way

Of a jumbo one day

And to jail he was rapidly thrown.

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Re: MPs should keep their mouths shut about things they know nothing about

@McNasty

The fact remains that ten thousand people were affected with delays of up to a day, and politicians as our representatives are fully entitled to complain about that.

Yes, I agree with the comments that running a system at 99% capacity means that one small problem cascades into many bigger ones. There is a rule of thumb that systems should be run at 2/3 to 3/4 of capacity. But as others remark, try explaining that to beancounters or indeed to politicians who set our taxes.

Computer systems have always demanded high reliability from their components. Originally we needed valves that did not pop every few hours: the MTBF of a system with a thousand valves would be a few seconds.

Nowadays the problems are with the software: that is, with logic on a large scale. Not many people are very good at large scale logic, and at breaking down a large problem into smaller ones. You certainly don't find that ability by hiring the cheapest contractor.

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El Reg Redesign - leave your comment here.

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Print option

I for one miss the option to render articles in a "fit to print" format, especially for multi-page articles.

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It's whiff, Jim, but not as we know it: Curiosity sniffs ORGANICS on Mars

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<p>I would like to ask whether CO2 was found with the CH4.

That could mean bacteria splitting acetic acid, CH3COOH.</p>

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Microsoft whips out real-time translator for Skype calls

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TV subtitles

People have complained, rightly, about the poor quality of machine generated TV subtitles. It would be useful to test the speech decoding of this MSFT system with those subtitles.

Even better if they could get it to take useful minutes of meetings comprising: subject discussed, principal arguments for and against, decisions taken, actions placed.

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UK banks ill-prepared for return of the rabid POODLE

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Barclays in 2013 were still using Windows XP, on the machine I saw in a manager's office.

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Happy headlines

"Virgin laid bare".

As opposed to being fully clad.. Nice but naughty, Reg!

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Independent inquiry into British air-traffic-control IT nightmare

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Software checking

It seems that a faulty flight plan caused the FP server to fall over.

Looks like poor error checking of input data. But it takes a good programmer/designer to produce good error checking: he or she has to scope out a range of error cases surrounding what is valid input, otherwise bad data just crashes the program. Which is what may have happened here.

That means hiring a good designer/programmer rather than the cheapest contractor.

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Re: Political PHBs

Like it used to be in the German Democratic Republic.

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Control freaks

The phrase "Air Traffic Control" illustrates the control freak mentality behind the whole current setup. What we need are just two relatively simple functions: a collision avoidance function, and a priority function for take-off and landing. Let all the other details sort themselves out automatically.

With that approach, NATS could indeed be replaced by an iphone on every plane.

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Are we ready to let software run the data centre?

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Re: SDN v PHB

Yes, there are managers like that. But I doubt if they read El Reg. The time to be afraid will be when this article appears in a management magazine.

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UK flights CRIPPLED by system outage that shut ALL London airspace

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Yes, it was SF, and a high flying CIA plane (a U2) was somehow thought to be much lower. I did wonder if it had been flying at 65536 feet.

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Re: Just wait until

That happened where I worked. I was studying the sky and clouds in true Fotherington-Thomas style when there was a flash at gound level and our computers died. The bang came a second later.

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Friday pm

@Mrspudulike

" ... Friday afternoon..."

You have probably hit on the cause of the problems.

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Web daddy Sir Tim Berners-Lee: Back off Putin, I'm no CIA stooge

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No such thing

I object to the phrase "Basic human right". The most we can ask for is that we are not robbed, murdered, or worse.

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MP caught playing Candy Crush at committee meeting: I'll ‘try’ not to do it again

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How committees work

In most committees there is one person who knows what the current subject is about, and the others are there to vote as their party dictates. Self-righteous outsiders should not try to interfere with a working system, but simply vote for rhe other lot every few years.

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Whitehall at war: Govt’s webocrats trash vital digital VAT site

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Re: Sounds to me....

I was once involved in a computer-buying exercise for a very technical government department, before the scientific civil service was all privatised. The department head told us they had managed to keep out the useless bureaucrats of CCTA, but had to satisfy the money men in a certain government contracts office.

So I am surprised at the praise for CCTA from Geezer.

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Device fingerprinting tech: It's not a cookie, but 'cookie' rules apply

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MS Windows

Never mind the websites. Microsoft use device fingerprinting to enforce their Windows licences.

Is that to become illegal?

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By the Rivers of Babylon, where the Antikythera Mechanism laid down

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Knowledge lost

@Bunbury

You make a good point that knowledge becomes lost. It happens all the time in the computer industry, as old software and hardware is neglected, and knowledge of them disappears as people retire or move on. Fashionable managerial policies have a lot to answer for.

Sometimes this is because we become richer, and good ideas become affordable realities. I have commented in other threads that scaled fraction arithmetic has been largely replaced with floating point arithmetic.

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Under the Iron Sea: YES, tech and science could SAVE the planet

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Re: Iron is not enough

I have always undestood that phosphorus in some soluble form was a limiting element. Phosphate is notoriously insoluble.

Secondly, my geology lecturers always pointed out that a creature being fossilised is a rare event. Sounds sensible, otherwise we would be overwhelmed by fossils instead of regarding them as rarities. So fertilising the ocean may make fish (and squids and many small other invertebrates) but is unlikely to fix CO2 as fossil carbon.

Most of the world's carbon exists as CO2 in chalk cliffs, seashells, etc. The organic carbon is a minor contaminant.

For those reasons I believe Worstall is mistaken.

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Social media data is RIDDLED with human behaviour errors, boffins warn

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For extroverts

Facebook is for extroverts. So half of us will never want to be involved.

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UK boffins: We'll have an EMBIGGENED QUANTUM COMPUTER working in 5 YEARS

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Re: Emulation

@DAM and asdf...

Thank you, gentlemen, for your answers. This is El Reg at its best.

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Emulation

I have never understood why quantum computing cannot be emulated. Presumably it can be described mathematically, so???

Yes, you would need a source of random numbers, but these are fairly well known.

Reg readers, please help.

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World's best threat detection pwned by HOBBIT

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"The hacker will always get through."

Almost what was said by Stanley Baldwin, a former British prime minister, in 1932.

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

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Symbolic machine code

In 1967 I started programming a Ferranti Argus minicomputer. It had a primitive assembler that alllowed addresses such as v12, v13, etc. So not a fully fledged assembler by the standards of the contemporary IBM 1620, another machine I used.

I later learned that EDSAC programs were written in a similar primitive assembler: clearly an ancesral work.

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.

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DNA survives fiery heat of re-entry on test rocket

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Hot life

The article mentions temperatures of 130 degrees C. This will be reached, under pressure, in hot springs on Earth that are full of algae and bacteria. So not really anything new.

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Why did it take antivirus giants YEARS to drill into super-scary Regin? Symantec responds...

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Exobiology

Project Seti has looked in the wrong place for ET life. It turns out they have been looking at us.

The cunning part is how they get their results back to Alpha Centauri, or the Andromeda galaxy.

Why the secrecy? Remember that when the first pulsar was discovered, and was thought to be an ET clock signal, the facts were kept secret for six months. The lamest excuses were given when things were published.

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'Cleantech' a dirty word for VCs? RUBBISH!

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Make it like VAT

A carbon tax could be made like VAT, with payments and deductions.

You buy oil, you pay the tax. You produce "non-CO2 carbon" as petrol, polythene, PVC, nylon, or whatever, and you get rebated for the amount of carbon in the product, easily assessed by analysis.

On second thoughts, this will produce an enormous non-productive bureaucracy that will be worse than any amount of CO2. Best forget altogether the idea of a cabon tax.

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Cold? Cuddle these HOT GERMAN RACKS, yours for only 12,000 euro – we swear there's an IT angle

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Re: Nothing new here, move along

In the early 1980s my workplace was using an Array Processor: massively parallel arithmetic for e.g. Fourier transforms. It drew about 2KW of power, The first thing we did on a winter morning was to switch it on.

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GOD particle MAY NOT BE GOD particle: Scientists in shock claim

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Meson history

The meson was a theoretical prediction.

Then mesons were discovered in cosmic rays. But they were not "right" mesons: they were mu-mesons. The later discovery of pi-mesons justified the original theory.

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BOFH: SOOO... You want to sell us some antivirus software?

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El Reg is desperate to liven up its weekend section. Maybe one day they will give up on a bad idea.

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Languages don't breed bugs, PEOPLE breed bugs, say boffins

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Re: Real Programmers

Very true!

I saw lots of "engineers' Fortran" written in Coral66, Pascal, and C.

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Re: Erlang and more

Libraries cause as many problems as they solve. The Heartbleed bug was a conspicuous example, but there are many others.

The only libraries that are nearly reliable are the time-honoured functions in the C library, and their equivalents in Fortran and Cobol. All the new language libraries are rushed out by promoters who just want to get it onto their CVs.

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Dodgy arithmetic

In the 1970s I worked on various projects that used fixed point arithmetic, as floating point hardware was not available. Very few programmers could "get it".

Even if the computer operations were correctly coded, there were other algorithmic errors: most often, the loss of precision when subtracting a large number from a nearly equal number.

PCs now have floating hardware by default, but I do fear for micro-controller systems.

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