36 posts • joined 10 Jun 2011
I think that Jamie Zawinski can get away with doing his blog in b1ff if he so chooses, and he will still have more credibility than the average Reg commentard when it comes to complaining about ECMA stupidity.
Re: Which Office product is at fault?
Fine, Charlie Clark, I understand your reasoning for eschewing DOM - and let's face it, we've all built XML documents from strings from time to time. But that's not really my point - the case here is where a document has been written to disk that is not even well formed, let alone valid. Are people (and I'm looking at you, anonymous downvoters) really saying that it's too hard to check that the XML document that you've built is well formed at least before writing it? Really? This doesn't require DOM to do - there are faster ways to check that a document is valid and/or well formed.
Maybe I'm somehow unusual in this, but I would far prefer my office software to warn me that there was a problem (and give me the opportunity to cut and paste my work to a fresh document, or make a backup of the existing file) than to silently write an invalid file to disk.
I still maintain - and it shocks me that this seems to be somehow a controversial view - that there is no real excuse for a piece of released end user software writing XML files that are not even well formed.
Full disclosure: despite from time to time being obliged to interact with Lotus Symphony - which I have always found to be an unpleasant and unrewarding experience - I am by no means a hater of LibreOffice. I am also no lover of Microsoft (particularly Word for Mac 2011 with its fun habit of crashing when I try and paste formatted text).
Re: Which Office product is at fault?
There is no real excuse for writing malformed XML to disk, bug or not. The only exception I'll give is an error in the actual writing process (such as unexpected truncation). There are plenty of good XML libraries out there which will (should) not screw up as described if used properly. It really is not hard at all to check that an XML document is both valid and well formed before writing it to disk, passing it off to the next hapless program or whatever it is you are doing with it.
It's this sort of basic laziness - failure to sanity check your inputs/outputs even when it's trivial to do so - that is an endless source of annoying and avoidable bugs. I'm not just singling out LibreOffice - I work for a company that writes an awful lot of software, and much more time than I would like is spent dealing with this sort of issue. (I can understand why it happens though - if sanity checking and general attention to detail doesn't win you many prizes in the feature-based development cycles, why bother...)
I'm not trying to defend MS either, or their formats - but whatever you say about them, an XML doc is an XML doc.
Re: Which Office product is at fault?
LibreOffice is horribly at fault here, and it's inexcusable if the problem is as described. I mean, how does it construct its XML - string concatenation or something?? Any half decent programmer uses a DOM object of some sort to manipulate XML documents - these will not let you add an opening tag and 'forget' to close it; adding an element should be an atomic operation.
Aside from all that, what's to stop LibreOffice *parsing* the document before saving it, just to be sure. Maybe, I don't know, using some kind of published schema?
No excuse. Everything has bugs now and then, but committing unparseable XML to disk should not be one of them.
I'm absolutely with you Ledswinger, bar one detail... The basket case that you describe is now Royal Mail. The Post Office is the branch network, the bit that Gideon and Vince didn't flog off at well below market value to their banker mates.
You can tell what level priority 'Mail' has now for the Post Office by the fact that it appears at item 5 on the tabbed list on their home page, sandwiched between 'Broadband' and 'Driving'.
According to his website, he's originally a plumber by trade, rather than a common or garden boffin. I reckon I'd let him do the plumbing at my house, but I'd check the taps *very* carefully before turning them on. Just in case.
"- Those who refuse run anything by Microsoft. Macs and various Linux distros make this choice very, very easy now."
Sadly not entirely true. I am sitting writing this on our corporate Red Hat Linux platform which has... Symantec Antivirus bogging it down. What with the mandatory LUKS on the whole disk (and not just selected volumes containing data/swap) it makes for a mighty slow Linux environment.
So I'm sure Symantec still make plenty of money shipping their crap to very large companies that simply must run AV on *everything*, regardless of whether it is effective or necessary.
Crowd source it
What they need to do is distribute the 3D printer files for a 30cm replica of the tower to the millions(?) of 3D printer-equipped people out there. They can then hold up their mini versions at just the right distance from their eyes that they appear the same size as the original in the distance. We can then demolish the original and replace it with something truly emblematic of modern Britain, such as a pound shop. True, only people with a mini tower to hand will be able to see it, but we could create some kind of app to allow sharing with people in your area (thus, Silicon Roundabout would get to make a truly useful contribution).
Comment inspired by the picture accompanying the article, which clearly shows how it would look in practice.
I hate to say it
BlackBerry have a point - the keyboard looks uncannily like the one on my old, abandoned, work BlackBerry Bold, down to the use of opposed curved ridges on each half of the keyboard. Whether this is a legitimately patentable design, I am no patent lawyer (thankfully) but I've seen lots more flimsy patents.
If one of BB's strengths is its keyboard, then perhaps they should be selling this sort of thing themselves already and let people use a genuine BB keyboard without having to put up with the rest of the BB. If only they had the spare cash to simply buy Typo.
Have to say though that the iPhone 5(s) form factor doesn't really lend itself to this type of add on - looks impossibly tall with it on.
Re: "The satellite would thus know to keep one of its receiving assemblies aligned..."
Having spent far too much time following the ever-expanding thread on PPRuNe, I found this a good summary. Some issues with it (like the purported alignment of receiving assemblies) but better than most media.
From my perspective, the big unanswered question about INMARSAT is what about the other pings? The distance from the satellite calculated from the final ping is being discussed, but what about the preceding ones. These would give us an indication if whether the plane was moving, and what approximate direction. You could use this information to infer whether the plane was likely to be in the southern or northern corridors for example, and it would certainly be useful to know if it had stopped moving with respect to the satellite. However, this information has not been given - and frustratingly journalists have not asked for it in the press conferences. It's entirely possible that only the last ping was retained by the system, but it would be good to know that.
I would also be interested in what level if detail the system recorded ping send/receive times. +/- 1 ms implies a particular level of accuracy, if this is greater or less then accuracy is changed, possibly significantly. I've not seen this reported anywhere.
With the conspiracy hat on, I find it amazing that no journalist in the press conferences has pressed for a cargo manifest. The only concrete statement made by the authorities is that "nothing hazardous" was on board. A very valuable cargo has not been ruled out. If there was nothing valuable on board, why not explicitly and unambiguously rule this out?
The standard of both questions and answers at the press conferences is terrible. Take the ACARS being allegedly switched off before the last voice transmission. Crucial point but turns out it was misleading; accurate version is that last ACARS transmission was *sent* before last voice contact. Actual ACARS disabling time may have been later. Bad communication of facts, and an equally bad failure to seek clarification from the journos present.
The whole thing is a masterclass in how not to run an investigation and handle the associate public relations. Unless of course [tin foil hat!] it is all an act of pretend incompetence :)
Re: @Matt "sorry, I dropped FreeBSD when ZFS was forced on us"
Strange - I have several FreeBSD systems running 8/9 and none of them has an unwanted ZFS filesystem. Sure they *support* ZFS, but there's a world of difference there. I'm sure anyone who really hates ZFS could build a custom kernel and omit the ZFS module.
I'm all for complaining about unwanted changes to software/operating systems, but to whinge about something entirely optional seems a bit OTT to me. Reminds me of the grumbling that occurred when the SMP support was first mooted (IIRC)
Re: BBC should adopt an airlines business model
Well that's fine if you want to do what airlines have been doing lately - namely racing to the bottom.
The BBC have already been moving in that direction - take the sale of BBC Outside Broadcast to SIS in 2008. Was supposed to save money, but of course it didn't. SIS Live are now getting out of the OB game because the BBC didn't renew their contract (because SIS Live turned out to be both expensive and inferior to the old in-house operation). Now lots of ex-BBC OB staff - techies, not managers - are likely to be out of a job, the BBC has no high quality in-house OB like it used to and no money has been saved.
And how does BBC R&D fit in with the airline model? Obviously, it doesn't.
I'm sorry, but I want my BBC to be like a proper airline that serves free meals and will give you that extra bottle of wine with your chicken/beef with a cheery smile, and not like Ryanair. If that's not stretching your analogy too far.
I completely agree that swathes of overpaid middle management and overpaid "talent" are a problem, I just don't think that outsourcing everything is a solution.
You can tell it's ridiculous simply from the fact that the 'director' of this initiative has the temerity to go on Newsnight to tell Paxman that "you can create a web site in an hour", but has not personally invested that hour to try it herself [and shame on Paxo for not picking her up on this].
It's bad enough that an obvious inexperienced political crony gets appointed to this sort of position, but I would have been prepared to cut her an awful lot more slack if she'd come on and said "I'm a non-technical person with no experience of coding, but I tried some of this stuff and I learned something - and I am enthusiastic about helping other people go through the same learning journey" [or something along those lines].
The problem isn't really just having people with no domain experience in charge of projects, it's also with having people in charge who won't eat their own dog food. But that's the political class for you.
Re: Cheating and education
The printed record idea is good and can be made to work without much work too. Print all the marks densely on paper along with a calculated checksum. At a later stage, simply recalculate the checksum based on the current stored results and compare with the original. If it does not match, then you can start comparing results, but otherwise ignore. The checksum can be a represented as a bar code or QR code, so you don't even need to type/compare it longhand.
Re: Floppy Eject
My first encounter with a Mac - back in the 90's some time - also featured an embarrassing failure to understand how to eject a floppy. When I finally asked someone, I found the idea of dragging the floppy icon to the trash to eject it ridiculous and just plain wrong. In fact lots of things about Macs seemed stupid to me (single button mouse anyone?)
But here's the thing - every computer has flaws, and if I was crazy enough to permanently reject a whole line because of one or two flaws I would by writing this with a biro[*] rather than typing it on my fine MacBook Air.
* - well obviously I wouldn't, because I wouldn't have read this article on the interwebs because I would have given up on the whole web browser concept when Netscape Communicator came out
AC @09:52 - you're going too easy on them
Parisian taxi drivers are the distillation of everything that is wrong with Paris.
My personal pet hate is that drivers ordered to a hotel turn up with 'travelling time' already on the clock. I've had a taxi turn up at a CDG airport hotel with €12 on the clock already. Of course you know full well that they just sit round the corner with the meter running waiting for call outs.
It's why I always where humanly possible take the Metro, or walk. Sure the metro is not exactly the most pleasant experience, but it beats the hell out of taking a taxi.
Re: Josh Zerlan
I think there's probably quite a lot of competition for the title of "The most untrustworthy person to have ever walked the path of bitcoin", and I'm not sure Mr Zerlan qualifies.
I assume that you are one of those who is very unhappy that they have not yet delivered an ASIC-based miner that you have ordered. You may be further exercised by perceived queue jumping for orders of other products. None of this makes Butterfly Labs a scam company.
I myself have a (now outdated already ) 5GH/s BFL unit. BFL were quite upfront about the uncertain and extended nature of the waiting time when they took my money, and I was quite happy with that deal. To be honest I'm pleasantly surprised that I actually have the thing already. Mind you, I never bought it expecting to make money with it; I just thought it would be a cool thing to own and fiddle around with. I'm hoping (if the bitcoin price remains at a similar level) to make back my purchase and running costs for it and earn a little pin money on top. Maybe someone with more mercenary reasons for wanting to get hold of their miner as soon as possible may be less sanguine about it.
ASIC-based mining has been an explosion. It's an arms race, and even the arms manufacturers like BFL are having trouble keep up it seems. Those already with their powerful ASIC miners (and I'm not counting my puny one here) are laughing, while those still waiting are losing out and likely to be unhappy. This does not justify calling BFL a scam company.
I had the pleasure of listening on the nice FM radio in my kitchen to the prize tool Quentin Howard (behind both DAB in general and I believe Radio Birdsong in particular) being interviewed on You and Yours by Winifred Robinson. It was a predictable display of obfuscation, misdirection and blinkered bloody-mindedness.
The shirty response when Ms Robinson suggested that many people thought DAB was the wrong technology was impressive. Here's a little bit of the response:
"I hear you Winifred now going on [...] you should remember [...] I think you're being rude to half your listeners [...] it's lovely to pick up on these little gems saying oh it's the wrong technology [...] it's Daily Mail type headlines and I think you should be thinking better than that".
- defensive? Check!
- hostile? Check!
- patronising? Check!
My favourite line (on why FM should be switched off): "and this is from an Industry perspective not a listener perspective - we'll get to that in a minute, I guess". Nice to see he has his priorities straight. He never did get to the "listener perspective" by the way, which probably says all that needs to be said about DAB and its apologists.
Make no mistake, I like digital radio, and I listen regularly online. I even have a DAB radio somewhere. I just think that DAB is bad technology being forced on us by vested interests, and that it is in the best interests of the *listeners* to keep FM transmission as an option for the forseeable.
The You And Yours edition is available online here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03lnzxm. I thought it was good radio.
Re: Stop. Watch.
Garmin are addressing GPS lock time with their next gen of products like the Forerunner 620 (I have one on pre-order and I never preorder technology normally). In this case, they use pre-caching of satellite details over wifi. I'd point anyone interested in DC Rainmaker's in-depth review.
I haven't been a wristwatch wearer for over a decade - I just don't feel the need to have one and prefer to avoid having something on my wrist most of the time. However, I am a big fan of using my Forerunner 610 for activity recording. It's more convenient than using a phone and the dedicated hardware is (in my experience) still more accurate than phone GPS.
I agree that the niche that products like Garmin's Forerunner are in is the one compelling case for smart wristwatches. I think Garmin and similar manufacturers are in a better position to compete in it by adding more smartphone integration to their already effective specialised GPS products than the likes of Samsung are by approaching from the other direction. I'll admit that many people still will not be able to justify spending a lot of money on a dedicated GPS watch, but for the still-substantial market of those who are, the dedicated devices are still a better proposition.
Those who do not want to shell out on a dedicated device still have the free alternative open to them of taking their phone with them and using an app and I suspect many will do so rather than get a watch just for that (although come to think about it, I'm not sure how phondleslab users go about taking those with them when they run etc. - maybe they have to use a rucksack rather than armband).
The article reads a bit too much like a hatchet job on the CW author, which is a shame as it gets in the way of the story.
The issue here is that there seems to have been a pretty cynical and hypocritical attempt to hide information, with a dash of incompetence thrown in (because the attempt is not going to be successful as there are other copies out there). If El Reg is not interested in cynical, hypocritical, incompetent moves in the technological sphere made by our political masters, then I don't know what it is interested in.
The whole thing has a whiff of Grant Shapps about it, and we all know how malodorous that can be. It's a story of interest not because they have redesigned their web site but because they have also tried to make the material disappear from archive sites. While I'm sure that Labour and various journalistic organisations have copies of all the speeches, it's just become harder for Joe Public to look up what the Tories said about something when they were trying to get elected last time around.
It is also a valid point that the record of things on the Internet is fragile. I personally wasn't aware that a robots.txt would retrospectively remove content from archive.org - that's one of the more interesting things I've found out from this.
If Labour have done the same thing, then shame on them too.
So while much of the rest of the world commemorates Armistice Day on 11th November, Alibaba chose it as a great opportunity for a splurge of consumerism. Not casting any moral judgment - after all China wasn't exactly a major perpetrator of world wars in the last century - but it's a stark contrast. Maybe peak sales are at 11 o'clock too.
10:58. I'll shut up now.
Don't get a job in an Apple Store then. It's not for me either (I don't think I could bring myself to whoop and cheer for any product, except maybe a pocket sized nuclear fusion device that also cured cancer), but we're all different. Apple employees seem to have more enjoyment in their work than many in retail, so good for them. Have you worked in retail? I have, and it can really suck. So don't criticise people for having no self respect when they are doing a perfectly reasonable job and by all appearances having fun hamming it up. I'll bet you that 9 out of 10 Apple Store employees think the whooping is all a little OTT but still genuinely enjoy these launch days.
Not sure I really get all the hate for PCSOs. I mean, I don't see people laying into (say) classroom teaching assistants, and they are a similar thing conceptually - they don't do the same job as their fully qualified counterparts but they fulfill a role all the same. On the other hand, I've not had so much dealings with PCSOs and maybe they are terrible (but if so this would surely be a case for better training and/or job definition?)
Most happy with Lego choosing 1337 for the copper's number. I can imagine that one sailing straight over some manager's head, which is what makes it worthwhile in my view
I just want to pay for content
I actually quite like the idea of watermarks, if done right. And to me that means NO DRM. Just let me download a watermarked MKV or similar file with no DRM attached, for a fair fee. You know, just like I can now, but legally. I'll take good care of it; it certainly won't end up on bittorrent or wherever from me, but if it did, the studios could identify me as the transgressor and deny me any future content.
If they had half a brain cell between them, they might see that watermarked content is a good way of allowing them to sell digital movies to all those people who don't want to put up with all that DRM crap - without compromising revenue.
I have never bought a DRM-encumbered music track of any sort, but since Amazon started selling MP3s I have bought quite a few of them and have not illegally downloaded a single one either. The same would apply to movies etc., if they would let me buy them.
But this is an old argument, much restated by many and much ignored :(
I very frequently stream radio over the Internet, either from a mobile device or desktop, but I will always choose an FM radio where it's an available option. Better sound quality, reliable, no delay (which just annoys me), reliable, works properly in my car, RELIABLE.
I think it is also a spurious justification to turn off FM when 50% of all radio listening is via digital means. If somehow DAB alone managed to scrape together 50% of the listening hours then that would be reasonable (if quite surprising this side of hell freezing over), but to use the rise of Internet streaming in order to justify the turning off of the most popular broadcast radio medium is just wrong.
The government should look to DAB+ as a minimum for the future, and only turn off FM when it comprises only a minority of direct broadcast radio listening. Oh, and broadcasters should avoid nasty little tricks like deliberately making popular content only available on DAB or broadcasting the first episode of something on FM and making the rest of the series digital only (as Radio 4 did with their production of Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere).
"Try not to make blanket statements. I'm in the UK and I have an Amex Corporate Card linked to my own bank account as that is what my employer insisted on. Suffice to say I avoid using it where practically possible."
My employer (who I suspect might be the same as yours) has been trying to make me sign up for a corporate Amex for years, linked to my own bank account. I refuse to take one on the grounds that if I am to put expenses on a card that I am responsible for paying the bill on, then I will do so on a card of my own choosing. If they really want me to use a corporate card, then they will have to provide it, on their own account.
So far this has resulted mostly in having to repeatedly copy and paste "I do not have a corporate card" into the inevitable exceptions alerts raised by the expenses system. This is no more annoying than using the expenses app in the first place, as it is a crappy piece of client-side Java so I have to fire up a VM to run it in.
Re: CCTV warning notices
There's a lot of rubbish talked about where you can point your CCTV cameras, much of it coming from the police. The only legal obstacle to pointing a CCTV camera that is located on your private property wherever the hell you like is the human right to privacy of your neighbours in their homes. People in public places do not have such a right to privacy, so you can freely point your camera at whatever street or alleyway by your house that you like. You are not prevented from doing so by DPA or whatever other bit of legislation someone wants to spuriously drag up.
More ambiguously, your cameras can also be placed in such a way that they can see your neighbours property, if the reasonable purpose of them is to detect crime (for example if crims are coming in via your neighbours garden, or if your camera that is pointed at your boundary also takes in some of the neighbouring garden). Your neighbours can of course complain that this is a breach of their right to privacy and could take legal measures, so if you want to avoid conflict talk to them first and get agreement on the placement and direction of any cameras. Talking can also be applied as a general strategy for avoiding neighbourly conflict and is highly recommended in all sorts of situations :)
See these pages for more information (while bearing in mind that they are written by someone wanting to sell CCTV systems...):
Things might change though: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/10109384/CCTV-new-controls-on-private-security-cameras-to-stop-homeowners-snooping-on-neighbours.html
Regarding the actual topic... I am notoriously reluctant to part with old kit, so in this case the idea of putting it to some use sounds good - although I suspect I would quickly tire of it.
I'd like the see the iFixit teardown of this thing to see how end-user repairable it is. Let's hope that flash memory's not soldered on.
Also, good luck with getting a Genius Bar reservation at the Olympus Mons Apple Store to do the work - availability is shocking.
Re: When I bought my 'mobile' workstation 4 years ago...
I'm sitting here typing this on my work-provided W510.. Oh wait, no I'm not, because it is a hugely disappointing piece of junk that only has a 1600x900 resolution (which is as good as you'll get on a W5*0 unless you pay extra for the "full HD" screen option, which my employer didn't) - so I'll only use it when I really have to. This replaced a T61p that - while physically smaller - supported 1920x1200 and had a much more useful screen ratio. Still, I guess I was lucky - the "base" model comes with a 1366x768 display, which for a 15.7" display in a "mobile workstation" (i.e. big, heavy and expensive) class of notebook is criminal. Looking at the Lenovo site, the current crop of T series is no better. Says a lot about the way Lenovo has gone really.
However, I think the experience of Apple shows that there is still a lot of potential profit in personal computing hardware if you produce a good product and avoid the commoditised end of the market, as long as you do it right. You might say then that IBM's decision to sell Lenovo was a mistake, but on the other hand I'm not sure that IBM was or would be capable of claiming a chunk of the high end high margin market. It remains to be seen if Lenovo as a standalone can do it, but of they do want to they need to produce some better hardware than the W & T series.
Re: Already had my close call with the cloud
Agree with a lot of the comments on here.
I've recently taken to using another approach to the cloud for backing up my data. I have a Linux micro image running in the Amazon EC2 cloud with a substantial EBS volume attached (interestingly EBS is still cheaper than S3 for Amazon data storage). I rsync my music, photos and incremental dumps from my FreeBSD home server daily. A Synology NAS acts as my main backup/archive/filestore and most of the data on this is either archived to blu ray or replicated to EC2 via the above rsync process. This way I am in control about how my cloudy data is stored/used as I administer the server, and while I am dependent on Amazon continuing to provide the platform, this is a backup data store only.
Finally, I keep copies of portions of this on my laptop and desktop. I use Unison File Synchroniser to keep these in sync. I can't recommend Unison enough for anyone who works on documents from multiple locations and doesn't want to rely on manual copying or services like dropbox. It means that I can easily switch from working on desktop to laptop to go on the road, and also ensure that I have a backup of other key files while I'm at it.
I don't get it
We've recently had two interesting Royal Navy related stories out there -
- and not a peep from El Reg's resident naval affairs expert. Yet the slightest peep of a report, study, paper, article, rumbling, rant or fart about climate change and Lewis is all over it.
If I wanted to read exactly the same thing over and over again, I would head over to the comments on any given Apple-related article. At least it would be on topic ;)
I'm aware of that the parsec is a measure of distance - I was attempting to have a poke at Lucas's own failure to understand this fact. Hence the deliberate confusion of distance and time in my post. I thought it was amusing (albeit slightly corny, hence the icon I chose), but I guess a joke's not funny if you need to explain it :)
I for one don't buy for a second the post hoc explanations about the Kessel Run claim - I think that Lucas just got it wrong.
"I played with a mate's Lego Star Wars Millenium Falcon the other week: it's massive and belongs on this list though it is £340+ and takes aeons to construct."
- Surely you mean it takes *parsecs* to construct?
If you don't own the domain, you will only ever get to use it as long as the owners choose to let you.
The closest you can come is buying your own domain and hoping you will always pay the bills on time, that the rules don't suddenly change on you and people with expensive lawyers don't take an interest (remember baa.com?) Some email addresses are more secure than others (I think I will have my @acm.org address for some time as long as I keep paying my dues). Of course very few people thought of all this back in the day when getting their first account. I certainly didn't.
It's a shame, because not all of us want to be permanently tied to bookface or linkedup as our means of being contactable.
- Updated Microsoft Azure goes TITSUP (Total Inability To Support Usual Performance)
- The Return of BSOD: Does ANYONE trust Microsoft patches?
- Munich considers dumping Linux for ... GULP ... Windows!
- Review Apple takes blade to 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display
- Pic iPhone 6 flip tip slips in Aussie's clip: Apple's 'reversible USB' leaks