* Posts by Tom Thomson

36 posts • joined 14 Jun 2007

BCS trustee threatens rebels with libel action

Tom Thomson
Unhappy

A pity

I had hoped that the changes being put forward would make the society more relevant and gain it greater respect, that the screwing up of many aspects of the society was a termporary short-term aberration that would be resolved by the applicatiopn of good will everywhere. It has gradually become clear over recent weeks that that was foolish optimism, and that it would take somethig drastic to get the society working properly.

I was always going to vote against the trustees' motion to make it virtually impossible to call an EGM, as soon as I saw it. When I went to vote online and saw what the "quick vote" option did - what a contemptible manipulation of the poll that is, using something clearly intended for non-contentious technical motions to try to railroad highly contentious stuff through - I concluded that it was neccessary to vote on every motion in the opposite manner to that indicated by the quick vote: the board had proved the callers of the EGM right with that particular piece of scammery. Many will probably feel (I do myself) that Mr Olisa managed to do that on his own, as well.

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Giddens, Lawson argue quite sensibly on climate change

Tom Thomson

Science or politics?

What David Robinson 2 says above illustrates nicely what the problem is. The vast majority of so-called "scientists" claiming that man-made climate change is happening are ignorant, arrogant, and totally uninterested in evidence-based science as opposed to faith-based ideology.

Above we have comments advancing the argument that wind-power is a less costly means of producing usable energy that burning coal; well, not only is it vastly more costly but also it adds to the total carbon-production of our energy industry. But the believers don't want to know that - and that's another big part of the problem.

The best argument sfor reducing our dependency on fossil fuels are (a) that extraction can cause probles: look at BP's current little embarrassment with oild pollution, (b) that the supply is not unlimited, and (c) that oil and coal burning power stations produce real pollution (not carbon dioxide - the volumes are trivial, but sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, and in the case of coal a good amount of solid ash, perhaps discharging into the atmosphere, as Frisch pointed out 60 years ago, more radioactive material than would ever be permitted from nuclear plants). But the cost of wind-power probably rules it out as a sensible replacement for fossil-fuel burning, particularly since it is an intermittent source which really needs a reliable back-up, which would probably have to be fossil-fuel based.

Solar power is a better bet than wind power in many places (even in climates like the UK) but is clearly useless in Norther Scandinavia and other places where it would generate very little energy for months at a stretch.

Water power (whether wave power or old-fashioned) is perhaps a better bet, but decent wave-power system is not available (small scale experimental stuff looks promising, but it isn't industrial scale yet) and is probably a bit awkward from places a long way from (unfrozen) sea, and the old-fashioned hydroelectric plant is only useful where there are suitable rivers and level changes. Of course in Britain we could maybe combine increased use of hydro-electric power with a much needed increase in drinking water reservoir capacity, but there are minuses as well as pluses to making that combination.

Nuclear power looks possible, but since we have a large numnber of ideology driven opposers to this one solution that stands a realy good chance of working quickly it's not going to happen on a large enough scale to make a difference unless the damage those opposers are doing becomes so great and so obvious that even they have to recognise it - which, seeing as they are into ideology-based science instead of evidence-based science, means not until we have major catastrophes to cope with.

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Radiation warning labels for deadly mobes!

Tom Thomson
Joke

@AC 16:08

<quote>I'd suggest a far more appropriate label might be "warning, products designed for use in this device are usually of little nutritional value and should not be consumed"<etouq>

Because this might reduce the frequency of simcards and batteries being eaten, or for some other reason?

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Apple apologizes for iPhone 4 gaffe

Tom Thomson
FAIL

pluraliz^Hs^Hc^Hze or however you want it spelt

"You want to spell pluralise with a sodding "z", here on El Reg.?"

Why not? Surely all the British reg readers are familiar with the OED spelling standard, and abhor those nasty American spellings with "s"?

Oh, my mistake - I didn't realize that you were one of the spelling nutcases who think the OED has it wrong and "z" is an Americanism.

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Apple lifts iPhone code ban (for chosen few)

Tom Thomson

(Ancient) History @Graham Bartlett

There's some profound lack of knowledge about Apple's history displayed in your post.

QuarkXpress was was available on Windows in 1992 (version 3.1); Photoshop 2.5 was on Windows in 1993; PageMaker for Windows 1.0.1 was released in 1986 and it was available on MS-Dos from first release of Windows 1.0.2 in 1987. None of these packages remained unavailable on Windows for another 10 years after the ealy 90s, as you suggest - they were all available on Windows long before that.

The availability of these three DTP packages was not enough on its own to ensure Apple's survival through the early 90s. Apple fell apart quite badly in the early 90s. Profits had been good under Sculley for the first few years after he ousted Jobs, despite his fragmentation of the product line (too many products all competing with each-other), his decision to compete in the general purpose computer market instead of in niches, his screwing up of the relationship with MS, and the occassional disaster like Lisa (where maketeering had been substituted for technical direction )and the MacIntosh Portable (where the technical facts of life were no permitted to get in the way of marketing's desire for the moon). But by the end of 1991 revenues and profits were heading rapidly downwards (only the PowerBook, introduced in 1991, was contributing any significant profit) and by 1993 the board had had enough and Sculley was replaced by Spindler, who proved to be expert at making matters worse. Apple would probably have gone bust if Amelio (who replaced Spindler in 1996) hadn't introduced massive lay-offs and killed off the failing MAC OS research, buying out Next and Nextstep (which was the basis for Mac OS X) to replace it and bringing back Jobs (I guess he was an essential part of teh Next package) as an advisor. In 1997 Amelio was ousted by the board (who wanted an end to crippling financiallosses) and Jobs became interim CEO. he immediately negotiated a deal with MS ($150 million capital injection from MS; joint development to release MS Office on MacIntosh computers) and this together with his switch from "build for stock" manufacturing to "build to order" on the introduction of the Apple Store kept the company going until it was restored to profitability by the success of the iMac (released Aug 1998).

So the history from 1991 onwards is quite different from what you suggest - the DTP packages were not much help when the company was making massive losses trying (and failing) to compete directly with IBM, Sun and other unix-based hardware suppliers, and WIndows, with it's product range so subdivided and complex that it was a complete nightmare to get a single software system to support all of it.

Trouble is that Jobs now seems to be suffering from the sort of arrogance that affected Sculley - he wants to take on and quarrel with the whole world. So will he now wreck the company he first built, and then lost, and then rebuit after Sculley and Spindler had wrecked it?

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Google geek slammed over XP exploit

Tom Thomson
Flame

Evasive weaseling

Ormandy was asked three times whether he had had any response from MS to his report and has refused to answer this question, twice substituting a blatant ad hominem attack on the person asking the question and the third time not responding at all. I think that says it all - he's not interested in responsible full disclosure, only in making as much trouble as possible. I guess the nummerous commenters who support his action haven't read the thread at the full disclosure site, they just saw an opportunity to say "isn't MS awful" yet again and jumped on it without bothering to verify anything - particularly the idiots who asserted that Ormandy had received no response, which seems a strange thing to believe when he's using personal abuse to weasel out of answering that question.

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Tom Thomson
FAIL

Yes - seriously

I understand what Arion is saying and consider that he is deomonstrating that he has no experience of diagnosing problems in large scale complex software and preparing fixes that do not cause regression in any of the numerous configurations and environments that the software has to work in.

Clearly too Arion has never come across a bug that was a symptom of a serious design defect and required thousands of lines of code to be replaced, since no-one (not even Arion, I venture to suggest) writes thousands of lines of code to fit into a complex environment, tests it thoroughly, wraps it up in a fix installer package, and ships it in two hours flat. Or does Arion somehow know that the loopholes that this hack exploits are not such as to require such a large-scale change to the software?

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Cops back in on BT/Phorm case

Tom Thomson

Mens rea

Quoting "actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea" might be useful if the person quoting it had a clue what it meant.

What it means is that (in most cases) someone is not liable for something that (a) they did not intend to do and (b) they did not cause to happen through recklessly disregarding the consequences of their actions that they did intend to so. Obviously Giammi Straniero didn't understand that any more than the City police admitted to understanding it, else he would not have added "whether we like it or not".

If BT didn't intend that data in transit over the public communications service they provide should be looked at, and assumed (without being reckless about it) that even if they gave it to Phorm to look at Phorm wouldn't actually look at it, then the old tag applies. Otherwise (as is clearly the case) it doesn't, and the police's statement that it did apply was either total incompetence on the part of the police or a deliberate attempt to sweep a crime under the carpet.

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McKinnon's mum fights for civil liberties in parliamentary run

Tom Thomson

The government have a duty to protect their citizens

but apparently protecting them from vengeful American prosecutors who are interested only in saving the administration's face, or trying offences which were committed in Britain under British law instead of handing the accused over to a system which can impose sentences vastly greater for the offenses than those available in Britain doesn't count, since Straw refused point blank to even consider doing that. I think the reason for that was that he was far more concerned about upsetting his boss's cosy relationship with the Americans than about protecting British citizens.

We've seen the same pusillamimous caving in to American interests with British citizens punished for internet gambling "crimes" in courts that should never have been considered to have jurisdiction, without a squeak of protest from our useless foreign office.

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Lucky Lib Dem punter could clear £800k on Clegg victory

Tom Thomson

PR systems and local representation

It's fairly easy to do both at once.

Take 3 levels of constituenct: local constituencies, regional constituencies, and national (England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland) level. Make them nested. Make the local constituencies single member, operating on the alternative vote scheme. Make the regional constituencies and the national constituencies multiple member, any STV scheme. Each voter puts local candidates in order of preference, regional candidates in order of preference, and national candidates in order of preference. When a local candidate is elected, their votes in the regional election are discounted by some proportion (depending on which round there support for him came in at, and on the ration of locally elected to regionally elected or nationally elected seats) in the regional election; those who didn't support the local winner have a full (undiscounted) vote in the regional election. When regional candidates have been elected (there should be at least 5 seats in each region, probably not more than 20) the votes of those who supported then are similarly discounted in the national election (so some voters may be suffering a double discount in the national election, some may be carrying forward a discount from either the regional or the national election, and some may still have a full vote). Calculating the discount proportions according to the number of seats at each level in local, regional, and national constituencies concerned in each chain and the proportion of support for elected candidates obtained in each round that will give a genuinely proportional representation is straightforwards but non-trivial. Letting voters order the candidates rather than having party lists with a predefined order largely eliminates the risk of electing nothing but party hacks, but it is still a good idea to make sure that a significant proportion of seats (at least a third) are at local level to ensure decent local representation.

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Will DNSSEC kill your internet?

Tom Thomson
Boffin

@Lionel Baden

"the link is for linus servers"

No it isn't. The link tells you how to use dig, which has been available for windows for more than 7 years, to test your DNS.

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Adobe Reader security updater to be unveiled next week

Tom Thomson
FAIL

I don't understand

why anyone has Reader on their machine, when there are numerous alternatives, amlost every one of which is reputed to be better than Adobe's ridculous insecure bloatware. I finally got utterly fed up with the bloat - it was taking absolutely ridiculous amounts of time to open even small and simple PDF documents - and uninstalled it, installing a different PDF reader instead, quite a long time back. Since then everything has worked like a dream, which has been a really enjoyable change from the nightmare that was Adobe's Reader. As for the Adobe Reader updates rubbish - it was just unbelievable; completely unusable for anyone not very experienced in getting terrible software to work despite all its ill-thought out quirks. I don't imagine the new updater will be any better.

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UN issues call for international privacy agreement

Tom Thomson
Thumb Down

Re: Permission to speak

---- (quote)

it wasn't so long ago that people needed passports to travel from country to country (unless you are an unstable Nigerian with exploding underwear..) and Europe said "No! We don't want to produce 'our papers' at each border, we want to live and move freely --like the Unidted States"... so border crossings were abandoned in 1980

--- (/quote)

Nothing much happened in 1980 - borders in Western Europe (except those between anywhere else and UK or Ireland) were wide open at least as far back as the 60s - except that regulations were changed to match what had already been happening in practise for a couple of decades. I could travel between between France, Belgium, Netherlands, West Germany, Austria, Italy without any need for a passport or any form of ID in the 60s, going through manned border checkpoints where the guards didn't stop anyone, although in theory a passport was required. Yugoslav borders then required a passport in practise as well as officially on entry, probably because the Yugoslav government wasn't sure which bloc it was in, but they were the only country in mainland W Europe who actually did checks in practise (actually, I didn't try Scandinavian countries, Spain, or Greece - maybe they actually did border checks too - Spain seems quite likely; and I suppose that geographically speasking E Germany was in W Europe, but of course we called it East Europe not West because it was a communist bloc country).

With both Spain and the UK now requiring airlines to provide advance passenger information I reckon we are slightly more checked at borders now than we were in the mid-60s, not less.

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Tom Thomson

Re: China, followed by the US, followed by UK → #

What, you think China will beat us and the US to it? Well, beating us to vetoing less surveillance may be imaginable if the security council doesn't consider this until after the general election but I can't seeing the US failing to be first.

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UK BitTorrent admin acquitted on fraud charge

Tom Thomson
Boffin

@david wilson

> It'd be a seriously bogus argument to suggest that the difference between a mainstream search engine and Oink was merely qualitative, and therefore nor *really* a difference at all.

I suspect you are confusing "quantitive" and "qualitative". If there were a qualitative difference (the site spefically enabled search for downloadable material which is not legally downloadable, and not more general search capabilities) the site owner would have a real case to consider, whereas a "quantative" difference (more searches led to material which could be downloaded but not legally than led to perfectly legal content) clearly could relate to the way users used the site and so would not be the responsability of the site owner.

I've no idea what the situation was in this particular case, but on past evidence I start with a presumption that the xPI are making outrageously unevidenced allegations. Maybe I'm wrong, but the jury apparently didn't think so and they heard the evidence that I didn't.

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US makes travellers go online, before getting onboard

Tom Thomson
Big Brother

@100113.1537 Re: Tit for Tat

There speaks someone rather young and naive who didn't know the system used before the visa waiver program was introduced. the only issue I had with my US visa was that just before the US finally killed it off (several years after the visa waiver program was introduced) I was having to carry the cancelled passport before the last (which contained my visa) as well as my current passport. Note that the visa waiver program required me to state whether I had a visa or not, and if I had one to produce it.

The visa waiver programme is indeed quite new. It increased inconvenience enormously for those of us who previously had unlimited non-expiring multiple entry visas (the majority of British visitors to the US), and it certainly increased the queuing time on arrival in the US.

The visa waiver program on top of the appalling customer service provided by just about every US-based airline and the disgraceful standards of service at most American airnorts decided me to go there as infrequently as I could manage quite some time back.

Apart from the ill-mannered (and apparently very unintelligent) immigration staff and the utterly discourteous airport and airline personnel I quite liked the USA (well, the bits of it I went to, and this new ESTA thing probably won't make me go there any less.

But I find it sad to see that the US is suffering from the same sort of liberty-destroyng paranoia as does Britain these days, so that both countries are becoming more and more like one of the cold-war era eastern european states - with the sole difference that today's governments are far more successful at pulling the wool over their citizens' eyes.

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Expenses row MPs warned to change cash card PINs

Tom Thomson

@ac 15th May 2009 13:43

> MPs pay is a mere £64,766. On top of that is the best pension scheme in the UK, a money

> purchase equivalent would need to be at least 30% of their salary, probably more

That 30% figure is very low, I think the correct figure is just over 77%.

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BBC pumps 60 quid a head into Gaelic

Tom Thomson
Thumb Down

Slaoightearachd

The article is nothing but an English chauvinist rant - is the author trolling for reaction or is he really sufficiently stupid to think like that? Anyway, the title of this comment is quite a good description of the article's content, and of most of the earlier comments too.

It's a long time since I could get any Gaelic radio or TV, but back then Eorpa was the best current affairs programme on British TV in any language and according to friends who can get it it still is. That programme on its own would justify spending what is spent on Gaelic TV (about as much as a tasteless non-entity like Jonathan Ross gets paid for polluting the air); but of course it can be justified in many other ways.

I can't resist replying to this comment (from an AC, which suggests the author may be more sane than his comment suggests as not wanting to be known as the author of that comment is surely a sign of sanity):

"Gael's well tell you want a lovely language it is, and how you can't sware in Gaelic as it has no profanities. What they are not so keen on is the fact it is a fairly modern language, a cleaned up and transcribed version of the original Earse which had no written tradition. Earse meaning Irish."

Well, it would be nice if people would comment in English instead of whatever that is - but it's evidently some language fairly closely related to English as I can work out roughly what it means.

I can swear in Gàidhlig when I want to, so someone has been misleading that commenter.

Every language which has native speakers living today is a modern language - no-one speaks Early modern English, Middle English, AngloSaxon, proto-Germanic, or PIE any more. Perhaps the commenter would agree that English is just a cleaned up and transcribed version of Anglo-Saxon which had no written tradition (well, we have rather less written Old English than written Common Gaelic aka Old Irish)? I suspect the commenter would have more difficulty laying his hands on a copy of Beowulf than I would getting a copy of Compert Con Culainn

Of course no-one's ever heard of "Earse", he must means Erse (a word whose use would buy him a bunch of fives in most bars in Ireland, I think). Understanding that the relationship that Gaoluinn, Gaeilge, Gàidhlig, and Gaelk have with Common Gaqelic is much the same as the relationship that German, Dutch, Friesisch, Flemish, English and Scots have with Old Plat Deutsch is presumably beyond him. And he presumably isn't aware that it was the Gaels (not Augustine; and no greengrocer's apostrophe, please) who brought Christianity to barbarian England and who retained knowledge of classical and bilbical languages and classical literature when the rest of Europe was busy with its "dark ages", and brought that knowledge back to much of the rest of Europe.

I wonder if the anti-Scottish (and anti-Irish) and anti-Gaelic chauvinism shown so often by the English has a very simple reason: they hate us Gaels because we changed the English barbarians, free to rape and pillage to their hearts' content , into Christians who were expected to have a conscience so they couldn't have all that fun any more.

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Climate Bill scores a fail in economics

Tom Thomson
Boffin

Arithmetic!

You say "We've got a possible range of nice to nasty of + 52 to – 95".

Well, no we haven't - the possible range is +80 to -123. That is, of course, a fail. A pretty dire fail. So it makes no difference to your argument. But it would have been nice to have the arithmetic right.

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Revealed: The golden rules of managing software projects

Tom Thomson
Boffin

Project Management and Prince 2

AC asked "May I ask what you dislike about prince2? Never used it, only heard of it recently."

Well, it's top heavy for most projects, it mandates too much paperwork (have a look at the templates at http://www.prince-officialsite.com/nmsruntime/saveasdialog.asp?lID=1284&sID=455) but not most of the paperwork that a proper software development project needs (that is OK if top management realises that it was not intended to tell you what domain-specific documentation you need, but top management types are often too thick to understand that), any project management method that requires 45 little processes grouped into 8 big processes and appears to have no dataflow from any other big process (not even the project startup process) into the planning process is obviously crazy, it tends to encourage senior management to think that they can know what products are required and what it will cost to develop them before any real design work or research has been done, it has "scalability" based on advice as to which bits of it are likely to be useful for your project but the advice is such that it often leads to what's known as PINO (Prince In Name Only) projects, and Prince 2 is the mechanism mandated by our government which has been used to manage every government IT catastrophe since 1996. But the best way to understand it is read the APM websites http://www.prince-officialsite.com/ and http://www.apmgroup.co.uk/PRINCE2/PRINCE2Home.asp and maybe the OMG prince website too, perhaps look at wikipedia first (note that I'm only suggesting that you look at websites written by Prince2 advocates) and then get trained on it - and I believe that after you have done that, if you are any good you will realise that this can't be the right way to manage a software development project.

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Tom Thomson
Stop

@Fozzy

"The first rule of project management is never ever take a project on that has already been started It will be running behind schedule and over budget and don't even dare review the requirements, that is if anyone can actually point you to the current version of them (if they even exist that is)"

There's no problem in taking on such a project provided you are prepared to fight to do the job right. Not a good idea to take on one of those as your first project management job, though (I'm really glad that when I got one of those it wasn't my first big project).

A few decades ago I was offered a project that had already been started (and just about completely screwed up) and had gone through several managers rather quickly with a brief to get it out of its hole. I took it on because the powers that were liked the previous projects I had managed for them and decided they wanted me in that slot enough to make it very much worth my while. It was hard work, and there was a fair bit of conflict with other managers who didn't like me telling them what they couldn't have, and didn't like me telling my developers that if they worked overtime or shifts they would get paid overtime or shifts (and to hell with the budget) - but it got there. So I know that recovering a broken project is not the impossible task you make it out to be.

The thing to avoid at all costs is taking on a project where the requirements are clearly unfeasible and also non-negotiable. No matter how much the MD flatters you, don't let him flatter you into accepting that one - don't fool yourself into believing it's feasible just because the big whte chief thinks it is. Trying to manage one like that is a real nightmare. Tony Hoare's comment that you should not offer to do something unless you understand how it can be done is very very true.

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Tom Thomson
Stop

What number 1 really should be

I'm surprised that this didn't come up on the list of requirements for good management: - and appalled.

The number 1 requirement for a software development manager is that he must be willing to keep it simple and ensure that the team does not bite off more than it can chew. That means having the will power to reject requirements that will result in bad quality or non-delivery. It also means that the manager must understand what the developers are doing and how they propose to fulfill the requirements - how else will (s)he know which requirements can not be met?

Maybe everyone who commented on the original article (and was quoted in this article) should read Tony Hoare's "The Emperor's Old Clothes" paper, as this fundamental concern of every good manager, which is not even mentioned in this register article, is very clearly explained there. It was his 1980 ACM Turing Award lecture.

Find it at http://www.cs.ucsb.edu/~ravenben/papers/coreos/Hoa81.pdf

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Tom Thomson
Boffin

Re Surely number 1 should be...

If everyone follows that advice ("Always appoint or recruit a professional and experienced project manager") how does anyone ever become a professional and experienced project manager? We would run out of managers after a few decades of everyone doing that.

Sometimes it is right to go for someone inexperienced and have them learn on the job from an experienced colleague. A large proportion (actually 100%) of managers have no management experience of management before their first management job.

If you are looking at for someone with project management training, don't go for a Prince 2 expert unless he admits to hating Prince 2 and regarding it as dangerous nonsense. ITIL qualifications are actually useful, Prince qualifications are not (unless you are dealing with a customer who insists on Prince - that's where the man who is expert on it and understands what is wrong with it is really useful). And don't go for anyone who believes in any non-incremental development technique. And don't go for anyone who doesn't think that quality is a major concern right through from understanding and expressing requirements architecture to delivery, or claims that you can be certain of quality even if you do only minimal functional testing. And don't whatever you do go for someone who doesn't understand the importance of communication!

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Tom Thomson
Go

Re Project Management #1

The AC who wrote "As a suggestion a good developer is worth 10 times more to you than a poor one, and 3 times more than an average one" is on roughly the right track but his numbers are wrong. A good developer is around 50 times as productive as an average one (he does in a week what the average guy takes a year on) and maybe -20 (the minus sign is NOT an error) times as good as a poor developer (he takes only a day to undo the damage done by the poor developer in a month - provided it's caught before it gets released, which unfortunately doesn't always happen).

There are surprisingly many good developers, but because most managers think (incorrectly, if they are in a sensible company - but in a sensible company they wouldn't be managers, would they) that their status is measured by the size of their team they recruit too many people and end up with more poor developers than good ones and far too many average developers, then encourage complexity and feature creep to justify the number of people - this results in unreliable and user-unfriendly software delivered late or not at all.

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Microsoft will show world+dog how to write secure code

Tom Thomson

@Steve B

"MS and the IBM PC put back computing by at least 25 years, what's another few."

No, that's completely wrong. Blame Intel and Sun and IBM and MIPS if you like, but not MS. We used to have hardware that helped makewriting secure code easy (think of the Burroughs stuff, the ICL stuff, coming out in the early 70s, the research at Manchester and at Oxford and at Cambridge. Then we got RISC and Z80 and 8085 and all the rest of the stuff produced by companies who decided that having any protection in hardware made the hardware more expensive and gave you less bang per buck, and it became much more difficult to write secure code. The guys who sold you more bang for your buck were very careful not to tell the poor naive customers that they would get a lot less security for their buck. Blame Bell Labs (Dennis Ritchie and Bjarne Stroustrup) if you like: we once had high level languages that helped us write secure code, and language gurus who promoted secure techniques. Then these guys popularised very low level languages (C, C with Classes, C++) and a programming approach that glorified unsafe pointer arithmetic. These languages had no imaginable way for a compiler to rack references (so no useful type safety). The later versions perverted the concepts of abstract data types and object orientation that we had used for years. The almost universal uptake of first C and later C++ ensured that it was almost impossible to write secure code for any large scale development. These heroes (the founders of the most popular modern development techniques) told us C (and later C++) would reduce development costs (which was actually far from true compared with using a decent lisp variant, or Algol 68, or Coral, or almost anything but an assembly language) - and didn't bother to tell us that they would increase support costs enormously.

Yes, Windows is horrible, and MSDOS was pretty horrible too. But nothing Microsoft did was as damaging to secure computing as what those others did.

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Police drop BT-Phorm probe

Tom Thomson
Flame

Criminal Intent

No criminal intent - that's nonsense. It's arrant nonsense. These police types know what criminal intent means. They know what section 8 of the Criminal Justice Act says, and it is disgraceful that they have chosen to disregard it completely.

BT and Phorm (or whatever they called themselves then) processed personal data (including sensitive personal data) without the knowledge or consent of the data subject. They intended to do that processing, they intended not to inform the data subject, and they intended not to obtain informed consent for the processing. That's criminal intent. They committed about 10000 offences with clear and obvious criminal intent.

BT and Phorm interecepted communications in the course of transmission by a public communications system without the consent of both parties to the communication. They intended to do that interception, and they intended not to obtain the consent of either party to the communication. That's criminal intent. They committed another many tens of thousand offences (one for each communication intercepted) with clear and obvious criminal intent.

Unless of course you want to believe that they didn't intend to do those things - that they did, for example (despite their clear admission that they did not) intend to obtain the consent of the people whose communications they intercepted and whose personal data they processed, or that they didn't actually that the data should be processed, or that they didn't intend to get hold of any communications while in transmission and make them available to someone for a purpose other than the purposes of a public communications system.

They even claim to have taken legal advice about what they were going to do - a pretty clear that they intended to do it. Apparently they got bad advice - but that doesn't remove the criminal intent, not for one moment.

They probably broke other parts of the data protection legislation (did they register this processing of personal data, as required by the act?) and (if they were using a cookie system to handle the classifications to select adverts) they were clearly (since they obviously knew how cookies worked) reckless as to whether sensitive personal data would be exposed to third parties (reckless as to the consequence of their action - that is enough to satisfy the requirement for mens rea if handing that sensitive personal information to the web sites involved is illegal) but let's just concentrate on the tens of thousands of big and nasty offences. and ignore the tens of thousands of minor ones.

Anyway, we now know what the data protection act means: It is an offence to process sensitive personal data without jumping through the appropriate hoops - unless of course the processor is one of the Establishment's friends in big business and the data subject is one of the common people.

And of course the RIP act means that it's an offence to intercept communications in certain circumstances, but those circumstances don't include any where the interceptor is one of the Establishment's friends in big business and at least one of the parties to the communication is one of the common people.

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iPhone auto-correct puts Euro tongues out of joint

Tom Thomson
Unhappy

Many comments are arrogant, narrow-minded tripe

So all you guys who think that little Globe thing is the solution to all spelling correction problems think that the languages available include those required to correct sentences like "Cha chreid mi gu'm bi a chanuin so 'sa fon sin" or "Nish, ta Pobblyn Celtiagh kiarail sheeyney yn obbyr oc dys y çheer vooar Oarpagh"? Or you just think that people who use languages that the wonderful Apple hasn't inculded should have to put up with the auto-correction nonsense (and for our languages, it IS nonsense). Actually, the thing is probably hopless even in English: how many of "porpentine", "sleekit", "lauch" will it get right (just to pick three words that can be found in extremely well-known works). When I want to refer to a specific modern Q-Celtic language of dialect, instead of the generic "Gaelic" I am going to write "Gaidhlig" or "Gaeilge" or "Gaoluinn" or "Gaelk", and I'll bet the wrotten Apple phone screws up on those too.

The statement that there shouldn't be a way of turning autocorrect off is arrogant nonsense stemming from those narrow minded bigots who think that the languages they know about are the only ones in the world.

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Cuil feasts on Salmon of Nonsense

Tom Thomson

Fios or Eolas and Kool or Kwil

I think "eolas" is a much more sensible word than "fios" for "knowledge" in any of Gaoluinn, Gaeilge, or Gaidhlig.

And while I've heard people who say "kwil" as suggested by Ian Murphy, the substitution of a u-glide for a clear u doesn't seem to be at all universal.

And why do they use thegenetive case ("of a back") instead of the nominative? Presumably because they don't actually know any Irish at all?

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King Arthur was English 'propaganda', French claim

Tom Thomson
Joke

@Art Hawkes

"V gwir y erbyn y byd - as Boudicca might have said."

If her tribe was the Iceni, not the Eponi, why would she have a "p" language instead of "c" one? Or did the Romans translate (not just transliterate) proper nouns?

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BT and Siemens slammed over prisoner call rates

Tom Thomson
Stop

Idiots. Irresponsible lunatics. Offenders against all human decency.

The three phrases in the title are a pretty fair description of the authors of most of the comments above. Certainly pctechxp with his "you don't get put on remand for no reason so the same rules should apply" must be a bloody fool - maybe he's so bloody mindedly ignorant that he thinks the conviction rate of prisoners on remand is 100%? Has he been living in a different world - we know from well-publicised cases that we actually convict some completely innocent people of serious crimes, let alone remand them. I imagine most of the population of our prisons are less offensive to human decency than the Anonymous Coward who wrote "People in jail should only be allowed to phone their lawyers. No one else. Absolutely no one, ever. Children? Too bad. Dying mother? Too bad." - great, let's ensure that the whole family concludes that society is a bunch of vindictive shits so you can stuff your social contract- actually on the majority of comments here someone who reached that conclusion might well be right! It's quite clear that most of you are too damned thick to see that reducing the re-offending rate is more useful than gratifying a desire to behave as a vicious vengeance-oriented vigilante

If you lot are a representative sample of the human race, I'm ashamed to be a member of it.

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SCO details bleak future

Tom Thomson

@Shannon Jacobs

What's the iconic picture for a liar?

Has to be Tony Blair, doesn't it? Dick Cheney just isn't in the same league..

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EU moves to establish gibberish as lingua franca

Tom Thomson
IT Angle

@Michael H.F. Wilkinson

Occitan in the South East would be a bit of a turn up for the books, I would expect to find it a long way West of there - West of the places where Provencal is still alive (or was last time I was there - a few decades ago) albeit not very alive.

It would be nice to have translations of EU documents into all those minority languages from France, and or course into Gaoluinn and Gaeilge and Gaidhlig and Gaelk and Welsh, also Cornish if there's even one person who speaks it well enough to translate this sort of stuff. Maybe I could get a job as a translator and give up this IT nonsense.

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History dictates future of virtualization

Tom Thomson
Thumb Down

How about getting the history right?

VM /370 the first commercial manifestation of virtualization? Sounds rather wrong to me, I seem to recall the both Burroughs and ICL had virtual machines well before VM/370 saw the light of day.

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Microsoft vs. Google – the open source shame

Tom Thomson

@ Morely Dotes and other ignorant M$ bashers

" where were you in the 80s?"

We should be asking the same of you - evidently you aren't aware that Steve Balmer joined Microsoft a bit before midsummer 1980.

Here's a question for you: where would Apple be today if Bill Gates and crew hadn't produced AppleSoft Basic (and let Apple have it at $0.02 per copy)? Do you think they could have sold over a million machines with Wozniak's Integer Basic instead? And then how much effect did Microsoft hardware for Apple (Softcards for Apple II which enable the Apple II to run CPM-based apps and also support MS Fortran and Cobol on Apple II) have?

And for the idiot who said MS never produced any cross-platform software: how many different manufacturers' computers did Microsoft port MS Basic to (and how many different non-microsoft OSs did it run on)?

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Skype violates open source licence

Tom Thomson

GPL2 vs GPL3

David Pottage wrote: "Internet distribution was thought of when the GPL 2 was written, the reason that it is only allowed when the product is distributed via the internet is because there is no guarantee that the URL will allways be valid, and that the data at the end will always be the same. The latest GPL licence that was finalised last month contains the same provisions."

No it doesn't. Read clause 6d. Getting things from a network server is allowed in GPL3, so the provisions are NOT the same as GPL2. You just have to make sure you keep it available (so non-vanishing URL is allowed, vanishing URL is forbidden).

Incidentally, am I correct in thinking that the reference to "6b" in clause 6c is a mistake, should be to "6c"? If I'm wrong, that's an enormous relaxation of conditions compared with GPL2 and the provisions of the two are even more different.

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Fancy an earful? Click here for tech support

Tom Thomson

Why do so many take sides without looking at the facts?

Mr D, david skinner, the anonymous "they have a point you know", "downloads in left hand column", Adrian Williams, and several more seem to be about as useful as Rufus. All of them apparently believe that the apparent link to Firmware 2/16/06 (which is what was being complained about) provides a useful link:

Obviously they haven't clicked on it to check, because it doesn't provide a link at all. Clearly Rufus didn't check either - he's the sort of useless customer service type who assumes the customer must be wrong, doesn't bother to look at what's being complained about. As to rudeness, his reply was pretty offensive - all the customer had done was point out two nasty problems on the website (neither of which has yet been fixed, perhaps because Rufus didn't bother to report them to anyone who could fix them).

Well, I suppose ithe non-link is useful to people who look in the absolutely appallingly laid out (probably the fault of a badly used generator rather than direct human incompetence, but could be someone who doesn't understand how to write ASP code so that the client-side script can be debugged) page source and see what has been generated, because then it's pretty easy to guess what the link was supposed to be. But if that's the standard of support website that the writers of those comments find acceptable, I hope that I never have to deal with them. Of course I hope I never have to deal with Rufus, either.

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